The final man frontier

For your man cave

Nothing same manly like neon!

The Man Cave has become a buzzword in the last few years, and it’s about time we start the conversation about it. The whole idea of a man cave is it acts as a final frontier for men to conquer in the home. Think back to the recent past, the early 1950s, or last week, where the world was divided into two spheres: the home, woman’s sphere, and man’s sphere, the rest of the world.mans world

Man caves serve to give men a place of their own in the space that deemed feminine. Just in case your wife makes you wash dishes or vacuum, make sure you have some man space to retreat to, like your beer can walled shed or loose car parts garage.been chandelier

Even though we say the home is women’s sphere, men still control it. Women are the overseers, ensuring that everything is “just right” for their husbands. A man’s home, after all, is his castle. He is the man of the house.

 

man cave beer fridgeliquor sinkSports, beer,liquor, hunting, cars, gambling – what else do you need?man gave kingdom

Bacon, maybe. I guess because it’s not manly for your heart to work past the age of 40.

bacon

Men have always owned the home, all man caves do is narrow the space that women can occupy. The man cave is yet another [something] attempt for people to say that men are “losing their edge,” or are being emasculated by women.

Let’s also mention how over-the-top some of them are. A recent Slate article included a photo series by Jasper White, where he took photos of elaborate man caves in Australia, where it is common to have a great deal more land than in the US. More land, more man.

The first page of results when searching “man cave” is full of sites marketing all their man cave products. The consumerism, as well as sexism, is rampant.

Now we’re left with a space that was call women’s, and is now, like the rest of the world, owned by men. It’s a reaction to a false threat that men are losing their power. Where are women’s spaces to get a break from their spouses and children? They aren’t allowed and men still are.

Trophy Wife: Worst Parenting Handbook Ever

Just when you thought Trophy Wife couldn’t get any more racist or sexist, episode two of opens with some pretty offensive material.

Pete and Kate going through Bert’s bedtime routine, though Kate is just watching; she has no active role in the process. Bert wants a foot rub, and his clothes laid out for the entire week. Pete says “no judgment,” and it’s not a big part of the episode, but I found that to be racist towards Asian people, stereotyping them to be overly methodical. Why, again, did Slate say this show was good?Soccer Coach

Pete complies with most of his eight-year-old’s ridiculous requests, no doubt to show his dedication as a father. When Pete and Kate leave Bert’s room, Kate says, “Sweetie, he’s made you his bitch.” Men aren’t allowed to do too much emotional bonding with their sons.

Click here to see last week’s episode in all its offensive glory.

Bert and Kate sneak away from Bert’s room as he falls asleep, and Kate challenges Pete to a race to the living room. She tricks him and wins, just like all women being deceitful to get ahead.

The intro to this show is a slideshow of pictures, all of the women characterized only as “First wife,” “Second wife,” and then as the pictures fade we see the title, “Trophy Wife.”

What your teenage son doesn’t need to know about your thong

The next morning, Pete is getting the kids ready for school. Kate makes a few offers to help, but nobody pays much attention. Kate is folding laundry when Warren pulls a red lace thong out of the laundry hamper and says, “Oh, whose fancy headband is this?” Kate smiles, takes them away and says, “Those are mine,” to which, Hillary adds, “Classy.”

Bert then asks, “What’s a thong?” Kate answers, “Underwear for people who don’t want panty lines.” Warren chimes in with a very chipper, “Why wouldn’t you want panty lines?” “Because it’s not sexy,” Kate responds. Warren then shouts, “Wooo! Sexy time! Because you guys like to have se-“ Pete cuts them off, but does not address how incredibly inappropriate for a fifteen-year-old to be handling their stepmother’s underwear, and mocking her for it. Nobody talks to the teens about safe sex or personal boundaries, because the whole thing is a joke. And it’s okay for the 8 year old to hear all of this?

The show’s sexualization of children and teenagers is already disgusting, and I’m only on the second episode.  And there were no consequences to this behavior.

At least she’s good for something

Kate walks out of the room, clearly feeling dejected, going into the bathroom while Pete is in the shower. Pete makes comments and jokes about sex, and when Kate turns him down, he says, “You miss a hundred percent of the shots you don’t take,” as if he is supposed to be constantly firing off attempts for sex with his (trophy) wife.Family tree

Kate says she isn’t feeling needed and it takes him a while to accept that she’s serious. She says she wants to feel more like a parent, and it’s clear that nobody takes her seriously.  Pete continues to take it lightly and ultimately agrees to give her some of the “crap” he gets.

Kate is then seen struggling to carry a cooler onto a field while Pete is being Bert’s soccer coach. Again we see Pete having no difficulty juggling his family/work/life balance.

It’s a co-ed team, and half of the members don’t have uniforms. He tells them not to sit down, and the assistant coach says that his wife is having an affair. Even though Pete tells him not to share, it’s still a joke. TV shows are constantly talking about their sex lives in front of children.

Jackie and Pete are discussing their busy schedule and Kate tries to help by caring for Bert for the night. That night, Kate struggles to put Bert to bed, ultimately failing at her duty. Bert ends up watching TV he shouldn’t, since Kate falls asleep first. She’s so unreliable.

Bert is tired when Kate wakes him up the next morning, and worries that a doctor will steal his uterus, since he saw something on TV that he shouldn’t have.  Kate’s dressed like a teenager, probably to make it harder to distinguish her from one. Kate gives Bert a sip of coffee to hide her error. He drinks all of it.

Allergies, Racism, and Pedophilia Jokes

On the soccer field, Pete makes Kate an assistant coach. Kate and Jackie talk about Bert, and Jackie shares her past failings as a coach.  Kate tries to introduce herself to the team, including, “I love playing with little boys,” and Pete just tells them to start playing. Pedophilia is a joke now? We need to stop sexualizing children and making it commonplace to make jokes about abusing them.

Kate kicks a soccer ball and hits Bert in the groin. They are all in the hospital waiting, and Jackie berates Kate. They struggle to say the words testicle or groin, but Jackie already worries about grandchildren. Pete tells Jackie to cool it because she’s “acting like Diane.”  A doctor approaches an Asian couple in the waiting room and tells them that they can see their son. “We don’t have a son.”  They don’t address this mistake.

At the hospital, Jackie tries to commiserate with Kate about being a new stepmom. Kate is fun with Bert in the hospital and all is well. Bert realizes he doesn’t have a uterus but asks about what is in his butt. Pete says, “butt stuff” and the scene ends. The final scene has Kate and Pete in the shower, but Bert interrupts.  Kate finally feels needed but Pete is left high and dry.

Isn’t it Ironic?

I’m going to follow a new show and provide commentary about the episodes. I’m going to deconstruct the issues of race, class, and gender as I see them. The new show I’ve picked is Trophy Wife, which has the tagline, “The third time’s the charm.” This post will is a bit long since I need to introduce the characters so bear with me.

Third time's the charm

Third time’s the charm

The premise of the show is Kate (Malin Akerman), a “reformed party girl,” meets Pete (Bradley Whitford), a –you guessed it – highly successful lawyer, while dancing at a bar where she literally falls into his lap.Kate

Trophy wife petePete has two ex-wives, both of whom are portrayed as less likable than Kate, who is, I suppose,  “the charm.” Diane (Marcia Gay Harden) is Pete’s first wife, with whom he had two children, Warren and Hillary, twin 15-year-olds. Diane is a surgeon as well as an Olympic medal-winning athlete, and her success must preclude her from being likable, as with all successful women portrayed on tv. She is a cold character who does not appear to like Kate all that much; I suppose we’re to interpret this as jealousy, since Kate has the real prize.

Pete’s second wife is much less scary and threatening, as she is portrayed as a flake and a hippie. Jackie (Michaela Watkins) and Pete have one son together, Bert, who they adopted. Jackie does not seem to have a profession, and her day is overloaded when she discovers a new food co-op, something that is more important that taking care of her child. Her character is there to make Kate seem more earnest and adult-like, though I think it’s a toss-up. Jackie is yet another character that is used to dismiss care about one’s health and spirituality outside of mainstream religion. She is a joke to be laughed at, not a real person.trohpy wife jackietrohpy wife diane 2013-09-30 at 10.55.57 AM

Suggesting that Kate is somehow reformed, one might expect that she had personal issues to deal with, but the show’s use of the word “reformed” is a stand in for “married,” or let’s say “kept.”

Trophy Wife shows us that being single and dancing at a bar is cause for concern, but not for the reasons you might expect.

Using the word reform might mean that she has a problem with alcohol abuse. If this is the case, the show does not seem to concern as Kate downs an entire water bottle of vodka to protect her stepdaughter, Hillary, from getting in trouble with her mother. Kate then must get a ride home with Diane, where we see Kate, drunk, in the back seat of her husband’s ex-wife’s car, looking as much like a teenager as the actual teenagers in the car. This scene reinforces the cold, adult role that Diane plays, in extreme contrast to Kate’s fun and likable one. When Kate’s drunkenness is discovered, Hillary’s mother, Diane, understands Kate’s actions and the family considers what she did to have been a noble effort. The only way Kate can be a mother figure is to drink?

None of the show’s characters are very well developed, and it’s just another show where the only thing the man brings to the table is money and stability, and the woman only brings looks.

The show’s producers are calling the title ironic, but I guess I’m still waiting for the punch line.

Using Racism to Protect a Racist

With my social networks abuzz with the Zimmerman verdict, I find myself sitting here so taken aback by the injustices in this country right now. We are taught to be live we are living in a post-racist world, but I wish people would open their eyes. And what makes it even worse is that the defense used racism to protect Zimmerman. zimmerman

I saw a comment on Facebook that was supporting the not guilty verdict. It read: “That’s what happens when you attack an armed security guard. Dumb kid.” The way the news is twisted around so that people can believe these horrific racist thoughts without feeling guilty… Nobody wants to feel bad, so they allow themselves to believe things that are not true. As most of you I’m sure know, George Zimmerman was no security guard; rather, he was an overzealous neighborhood watch volunteer who felt threatened when he saw a black kid in a hoodie. Who feels safe now?

Some people are saying things like, “we can never know what really happened,” and I’m sure they want to believe that. Let’s look, instead, at the hard evidence – the recording of the 911 call where police told Zimmerman to stay in the car. If Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old boy, was attacking Zimmerman, how would Zimmerman have even had the chance to stay in his car. And don’t forget what I believe to be clear racial slurs Zimmerman muttered under his breath as he gunned down a teenager.  If Trayvon was running away, in what world is chasing him down self defense?

I can’t of course speak to the acts that night or in the jury box, but how can anyone truly believe this was a fair outcome? How can you look at Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother, and tell her that her son was gunned down because he “looked suspicious?”sybrina fulton

Think Progress wrote that part of the defense’s case was that if Zimmerman were black, this wouldn’t be a crime, which is exactly why I think we need to take a real, hard look at racism in this country. We are taught that black men are so violent that it should just be expected that they would attack anyone and everyone. If this were a case where two black men attacked each other, it would not have gotten the national attention it has. I find that so sad. It’s a travesty that a racist defendant was able to use racist logic to get acquitted from these charges.

A Sign of the Times: Race and Motherhood in the Laundromat

The other day I noticed some new signs in the Laundromat I use. Most of the signs are these:

laundro1

It all seemed pretty standard; they are not responsible if you don’t pay attention to your laundry.  The new signs that were up were in Spanish. I took two years of high school Spanish and consequently can only decipher if someone is talking about their pencil or notebook, but I was able to piece together that this sign was telling patrons not to leave their children unattended. laundro2

 

 

At first I didn’t think much of it, but then I noticed there were no similar posts in English.

My first thought was about how racist this was – I don’t think it was malicious, but is that excusable? It isn’t, but at the same time, it makes me think about our cultural expectations.  The assumption is that women are there with their children to do laundry and perhaps their socioeconomic status means they are lesser and going to be negligent of their mothers.  The reality is that there are children running around the Laundromat all the time, but not all of them are Spanish-speaking.

Signs in a Laundromat, however benign, do reflect the cultural expectations within a community. I wonder how aware people are when they make these signs, and how aware others are when reading them.