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Posts tagged ‘Theory Blah Blah’

Ayn Rand and Nostalgia for a Younger, Dumber Self

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but for a brief period in my late teens, I LOVED Any Rand’s The Fountain Head.

The story of a shy but remarkable artist who is oppressed and ignored by the world’s mediocrity helped me climb out of a pit of low self esteem, but it left me with a sense of entitlement and an inflated ego that took a few years to unlearn. (BTW, to anyone who had to deal with me during that period, I’m sorry for whatever I said or did while under the influence of that book.) In reality, I wasn’t a victim of the world, I was just shy and fearful, but imagining myself as a secret hero was a helpful middle step before I could full accept responsibility for my being such an unremarkable wallflower. Read more

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Vietnam, Part 4: Emergence in Hanoi

This is a the Duong Dong day market. Notice how many motorbikes are in this picture. That is INSIDE the market, like next to all the food. Northern Californian hippies wouldn't be too thrilled...

This is the Duong Dong day market. Notice how many motorbikes are in this picture. That is INSIDE the market, like next to all the food. Northern Californian hippies wouldn’t be too thrilled…

Crossing the street in Vietnam is a feat of derring-do. I’m sure there are areas of China or Indonesia with an even greater degree of clusterfuckery, but Vietnam’s driving conditions are certainly deserving of mention. In most cities, the problem is congestion—how quickly you can move through the urban system—because too many cars, SUVs, and busses will collapse a roadway like a blood clot in an artery. However, when the dominant mode of transportation is the moped, a full-scale collapse is virtually impossible because mopeds are both maneuverable enough and compact enough to fit through impossible gaps in even the worst traffic. In these situations, the problem isn’t congestion; it’s chaos. If you’ve been to Rome, you’ve got an idea of what I’m talking about, but Vietnam is an order of magnitude more chaotic than Italy, Europe’s most moped addicted country. Read more

Harassment: A Definition?

[NOTE: In my last post, I mentioned composing but then shelving a response, which I described as being “not a defense of the men who harassed [UnWinona] but a limited critique of how she and some of her commenters have framed the issue.” This is that piece.]

What do we mean when we say “harassment”?

With the current political climate being what it is, I’m reluctant to say anything that could put me on the wrong side of the debate over sexual violence and women’s rights, but this tumblr post by UnWinona and the reaction it has received brings to light a shift in how men and women interact that I think may have broader social implications than we recognize. Read more

I debated whether or not to share this critique

A week ago, a blogger going by the name of UnWinona told the online world about the harassment women face on a regular basis. In her post, she described a particularly bad train ride: a group of boys in their late teens boarded the train, approached her, invaded her private space, hit on her, and then, when their advances were rebuffed, began a campaign of catcalls and verbal harassment; after the teenagers disembarked, another man boarded the train, approached her, invaded her private space, hit on her, and then, when his advances were rebuffed, flew in to a violent rage. Read more

A Scrub at the Jjimjilbang, Or: How I Got to Third Base With an Ajeoshi

Personal space is of course culturally determined, but it isn’t until a masseur crosses the “bathing suit line” that the truth of that statement really hits home.

Say what you will about regulating a cottage industry like massage therapy, but in this case, regulation has definite benefits: by standardizing the certification process, the customer has something to lean on as he is stripping down to underwear or less. I’m naked with a stranger, but this is a professional environment. Nothing weird is going to happen. Massage therapists employ a long list of comfort-bolstering rituals—all geared at preventing that molesty vibe—but the sine quibus non of the professional massage are as follows: anything not currently being massaged stays happily hidden beneath a drape or towel; going much below the waist requires permission; and genitalia, inner thighs and butt cracks are all OFF LIMITS. Read more