& TV shows, Books, Generation Y, Intersectionality, Miscellaneous, Movies, Psychology

Growing up with “The Challenge”

After listening to Grantland‘s latest podcast that featured a nostalgic and ego-filled interview of Johnny Bananas from MTV’s The Challenge – I’ve recently gotten back into the show and have been watching the classic seasons. I’m talkin’ pooka shell choker necklaces, sideways caps, & mohawks…these were even the days before they had T-Mobile Sidekicks. I just finished Fresh Meat I which was a little mind-blowing because the OGs of today’s Challenge were the fresh meat back in 2006. It’s fascinating – like watching 10-year-old home video of your friends being rowdy, except you might love these people but can’t manage to respect them and you suspect they’re insane but can’t look away. So many thoughts…

  • Did anyone actually ever watch Road Rules? (I had to read the wikipedia page to familiarize myself with it because I had only ever heard that it was a “moving Real World” that MTV aired in the 90’s)
  • Wes went on National television with a legitimate mohawk… 
  • The challenges back in the day were cake compared to what they are now! Back in the early 2000’s they had to slather themselves with oatmeal and hold onto ropes for as long as possible…nowadays the final challenge is comparable to straight up torture; it often involves several stages of rafting, running, swimming, biking, rock-climbing, and/or hiking while the castmates are deprived of proper sleep and food for 24+ hours
  • Wes may be mentally ill…Scratch that, many of these people may suffer from some form of mental illness involving delusions of grandiosity and self-importance. But hey MTV is their enabler, so who can blame em?
  • TJ did not even try that hard in the early days, he’s really stepped up his game in pretending to care about the castmates and the show in general
  • The sexism in these shows is pretty terrifying at times…whether it’s digs at women being “weak” and “worthless” or male cast-members screaming “hurry up you stupid bitch!” at their female team members. Scary stuff – props to the women that defy stereotypes by kicking ass and confronting the sexism in the show

All in all – a classic show that is so entertaining because it builds a bubble so small and so removed from real life that these people are actually brought to the brink of humanity. This show has everything from love stories to rivalries to the risk of mortal injury…watching these shows is how I imagine the Romans felt sitting in the Colosseum to watch gladiators fight to the death. It’s gruesome, it’s shameful, and it feels sooo good.

Dating & Relationships, Gender, Intersectionality, Psychology, Social Justice

Chivalry & Other Problematic Ideas about Gender

Dear John*,

I’m happy for you and Imma let you finish but…your “dating advice” blog is the most misogynistic, sexist, and misguided blog of all time!

I have to admit that I attempted to do some research on your views and background by reading some of your blog posts – because Hey even outspoken misogynists deserve a chance right? But unfortunately I couldn’t stomach all of the male privilege, ignorance, and huge, unfounded generalizations in your writing…so let’s just focus on the one piece that I was able to make it through, “Chivalry is Dead.”

First – let’s talk about your generalizations about the current state of dating and relationships. You claim that: “Dating is done. Seriously, who goes on dates anymore? It’s all about hooking up, getting a number, grabbing a drink and getting down. I think I’m the only single guy I know that actually takes a girl out to a restaurant on a first date.”  While hook up culture is definitely a thang for Gen Y – it’s just plain wrong to deny that people still go on dates. Dating is definitely not done. I think you are confusing your biased and limited personal experiences with broader knowledge about our generation. Or perhaps this was just a sentence thrown in there to stroke your ego and remind people that you are a really stand-up guy because you are the only man in the world to take a girl to a restaurant.

Let’s move on to the misogyny & sexism…“The real problem here is that women, for one reason or another, have become complacent and allowed men to get away with adhering to the bare minimum.” Riiiight because women are to blame here. The whole half of the population. They must have had an global women’s conference where all 3.6 billion women in the world agreed to “become complacent,” because women are sluts, women are stupid, women are the reason chivalry is dead – right?? WRONG – as revolutionary as this fact may be (hold on to your seat) – women are people. Women want and deserve to be treated like human beings. Chivalry originally referred to courteous behavior towards women hundreds of years ago when women were viewed as property, helpless commodities, infantile non-humans, and sex objects. Nowadays – chivalry can sometimes be used as synonymous with “polite,” but is often misconstrued into this outdated idea that men should treat women a certain (read: degrading) way – like opening car doors and paying for meals – because women are clearly too weak and inferior to be able to do these things for themselves. Not sure if this is obvious, so I’m just going to say it here in bold so there’s no confusion: This idea of chivalry is sexist. 

Exhibit A.

Exhibit A.

My favorite part about reading your piece was the comment section; some of the commenters were really spot on in calling you out. Here are some highlights:

Jenna wrote, “dude. Dude. DUDE! This is not a personal judgment, but this article comes off tonally as sexist and whiny. Do you have female friends? Did you discuss this with them? Because they could tell you that they have different desires and personalities and don’t all behave in the same way because they happen to be female.Chivalry is dead? GOOD. Stop treating women like delicate flowers who fart rainbows and aren’t as interested in sex as men are, and start treating them like people.Head check, dude: women don’t DESERVE anything except the respect that you would show an equal. Men paying for dinners was standard common procedure in a time where women were expected to be homemakers, not breadwinners. Dude, everyone wants sex. We’re human, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We also want intimacy and connection, but sometimes, we don’t want a relationship. This is HUMAN, not male or female behavior.Maybe your friends are dicks, but please don’t extrapolate their behavior to make broad sweeping generalizations about cultural behavior as if everyone is participating in it; it’s just sloppy writing.”

Andrew summed it up nicely, “Article in a nutshell: “Man, I’m just trying to be a nice guy, but women these days are too busy being whores to appreciate me. Chivalry is dead!””

Finally Justine concluded, “This is the most sexist article I’ve ever read…I can’t believe someone actually allowed you to publish this in 2013.”

Perhaps some of these comments will help you think about gender, dating, & relationships – outside of your own personal experiences and biases (and privileges), and challenge you to start researching societal and institutional dynamics involving gender and dating.
Maybe instead of concluding that women need to “wise up and start asking for the things that they deserve,” you should conclude by asking some of the following questions:
  • How do women/people want and need to be treated by others in relationships?
  • How are male privilege, sexism, and misogyny a part of this dynamic? (And what do the terms male privilege, sexism and misogyny even mean in the first place?)
  • What is chivalry and is that idea still applicable to life in 2013?
  • How are my personal experiences as a male coloring my assumptions on these ideas?

Dating’s Not A Game For Everyone 🙂

*For those of you who aren’t familiar – John is a guy who claims to know a lot about relationships and women because he grew up ” in New Jersey in an Italian household” and writes vomit-inducing articles entitled things like “Juggling Act-Dating Multiple People,” “You’re a douchebag, and I am too,” and “My 40yr Old Whoops” on his website called “Datings A Game.” (Not a typo – there is no apostrophe. In John’s defense he once wrote, “Don’t read my site if you’re looking for correct punctuation or spelling”)