How the New Wonder Woman Movie is a Healthy Example of What Feminism Looks Like

America’s new Wonder Woman movie, featuring Israeli (and Jewish) actress Gal Gadot as the legendary female superhero, is a major win for not only DC Comics, but also… feminism.

I don’t say this tongue-in-cheek, as I am indeed a daddy blogger, but I definitely consider myself a feminist.

If a feminist can be known as a person who shares the common goal to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social rights for women, and to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to such opportunities for men, then please, count me in.

That makes me a feminist.

With that being said, I feel that there are two opposing extreme versions of feminism that I do not identify with.

The first are feminists who seem to treat all men who have any authority as the enemy. For example, I recently heard about a bumper sticker that reads, “KILL ALL YOUR ALPHA MALES”. That version of feminism seems to imply that men are inferior to women, in that all men are ultimately evil, while women are pure goddesses.

And the other kind of feminists I disagree with are the ones who seem to solely depend on their sexuality reach their agenda. I think that often the attempt to represent “women power” ironically ends up coming across as  degrading to women; that a woman can kick butt just as much as a man can, but she is required to depend on her sexiness in order accomplish her goal.

I liken this concept to waitresses at places like Hooters and Twin Peaks. I see that as degrading to women, as it objectifies a woman by reducing her down to her sexuality. To me, that defeats the concept of what feminism is all about. To me, that’s hypocritical.

So if those are the two extremes of feminism I disassociate myself from, what does a healthy version of feminism actually look like?

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.

She is proof a female can be a protagonist in a successful superhero movie (which would typically cater to a more male audience), while demonstrating her intelligence, leadership, strength, skills, compassion, and power; without ever having to depend on her sexuality to accomplish any of this.

Is she a physically attractive woman, according to the general consensus of what modern beauty looks like?

Of course- Gal Gadot is also a model for Gucci. So yes, she is.

But her physical beauty is not the basis of her charm or success; nor does it distract from it.

Wonder Woman, played by Gal Godot, personifies the common goal to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social rights for women, and to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to such opportunities for men.

I could argue that this version of Wonder Woman is like the female version of Chris Evans as Marvel’s Captain America.

Both of these superhero protagonists find their heroic beginning during World War II and experience a similar character arc as they resolve their ability to help defend justice, while also realizing the world is ultimately more corrupt and self-destructive than they realized, before they officially assumed their heroic roles.

If feminism can be understood by a woman doing a job that would traditionally be done by a man, yet that woman’s feminine attributes are positively highlighted instead of exploited…

Then I would say, simply turn to Gal Gadot’s incarnation of Wonder Woman.

-Nick Shell

 

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Top 10 Masculine Traits of Men (Plus, “I’m a Masculinist, Which is Not the Opposite of a Feminist”)

I recently compiled the world’s first official Top 10 List of Masculine Traits in Men.

My list is a reflection of what society as a whole deems as important to the overall definition of masculinity. That’s not to say a woman can’t have these attributes, but I am presenting a theory that when a man is the opposite of one of these traits, it typically serves as an indication that society will see him as less masculine to some degree.

With no further ado, here is my list of the Top 10 Masculine Traits of Men; which are not necessarily listed in order of importance, as I believe that part can depend on the individual man himself:

1.      Confident (believes in himself)

2.      Respects Women and Helps His Fellow Man (loves others as himself)

3.      Finds Identity in His Unique Skill Set (is aware of what he’s good at)

4.      Healthy and Active (eats right and exercises)

5.      Decisive (can make a quick decision even when it’s tough one)

6.      Committed (especially to family and career)

7.      Leader (knows how to manage and motivate other people)

8.      Good Communicator (can make complicated concepts seems simple)

9.      Funny (knows how to use humor as an effective social tool)

10.  Emotionally Intelligent (doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve, nor does he keep all his feeling bottled up inside)

Ultimately, the fact I created this list is proof that I am a masculinist with a masculinist mindset. After I Googled the term, I learned that “masculinist” can be an adjective or a noun. I identify more with the adjective (“characterized by or denoting attitudes or values held to be typical of men”) than the noun (“an advocate of the rights or needs of men”), as I’m not worried so much about the rights or needs of men.

Instead, I enjoy serving as a spokesman for what masculinity is all about. I am proud to represent husbands and fathers from a positive point of view, which I feel is rare in media.

Being masculinist is not the opposite of feminist. I am for equal rights, and in favor of catering the needs of both women and men, acknowledging there are some exclusive differences.

I celebrate women. I celebrate men.

It’s just that I know a lot more about being a man.

Best Banner Ad Award Ever: izapmen.com

When in doubt, zap him!

Until this week, I had never clicked on a banner ad.  I just assumed if I never heard of the product before, and especially if the ad mentions credit scores, that it must be a scam or will lead me to get a virus.  But this week at work I saw a banner ad that read “izapmen.com.”  It was worth the click.  Because I met Mandi Mace, Pepper Spray Patty, Tammy Taser, and of course, Suzy Stun Gun.  And it wins the official award for “Best Banner Ad” simply because it is the only banner ad that was clever enough to get me to click.

The website sells self-defense items for women, many of them being pink.  I think it’s a great site and a great company.  Very well done.  But there’s nothing funny about that.  However, the name of their company is so hilarious, it works.

Who do they zap? Men!  

How do they zap ’em?  With tasers and stuns guns, of course!  

Do they zap every man that moves and breathes?  If he deserves it, just zap him!

What’s that website again? izapmen.com 


Why There Can Be No Male Equivalent to the Jordin Sparks Song “I Am Woman” or “Independent Women” By Destiny’s Child

I’m so vain, I probably think this song is about me…  

Thursday night on American Idol I watched Jordin Sparks perform her latest single, “I Am Woman.”  In the likeness of so many popular songs celebrating the empowerment of (single and independent) women, the lyrics of the chorus go like this:

I am (I am) woman (woman)
I am (I am) woman (woman)
I’m a woman
I’m a woman
Yes I am
Ain’t nobody else can do it like we can

But what if instead of Jordin Sparks singing the song, it was the dreamy Scotty McCreery, and he changed to lyrics to be masculine?  No one would hear, “I am man, yes I am, ain’t nobody else can do it like we can.”  Instead, the song lyrics would be perceived as “I am conceited, I am narcissistic.  I’m a jerk.  I’m a sleezebag.  Yes I am.  Ain’t nobody more of an a-hole than guys like me.”

Is this a double standard- that women can sing songs about being proud to be independent and successful, but if a guy did the same thing, he would either A) not be taken seriously or B) become despised by women?

No, it’s not a double standard.  Because only in recent decades has it truly become acceptable to desire for men and women to be socially equal.  Women have had to struggle to get where they are in society today, but men haven’t had to play the underdog gender throughout history.  So it’s ironic to the point of extreme arrogance for a man to boast about his successful independence.  I’ll illustrate this further my “masculinizing” the lyrics to “Independent Women” by Destiny’s Child.  I’ll emphasize the very worst parts in bold print:

What you think about a guy like me?
Buy my own car and spend my own money
Only ring your celly when I’m feeling lonely
When it’s all over please get up and leave

Please don’t call me baby
Cause I’ll call you
Don’t mean to hurt you feelings, got a lot to do
Cause I am my number one priority
No falling in love, no commitment from me

All my independent men
Throw them hands up at me
And all my sexy men
Throw them hands up at me

All my money making men
Throw them hands up at me
All my baller men
Throw them hands up at me

How you feel about a guy like this?
Try to control me, girl you’ll get dismissed
Do what I want, live how I wanna live
Buy my own golf clubs, and pay my own bills

Where my males?
Where all my men?
How did you feel about this groove I wrote?
Hope you got the message men take control
Don’t depend on no woman to give you what you want
Keep that in mind next time you hear this song

If you’re independent
I congratulate you
If you ain’t in love
I congratulate you
Do them girls like they used to do you
If you pimp her
I congratulate you

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule that guys can’t/won’t/shouldn’t brag about their gender in a song, like Brad Paisley’s “I’m Still a Guy.”  But hopefully most people would realize that song was meant to be an innocent, humorous caricature of men.  Maybe another exception would be so many of Kanye West’s songs- but even then, he’s bragging about himself being awesome, not about men in general.

‘Obviously, it’s important that women are socially and economically equal to men. But do women also want to be A) physically equal and B) emotionally equal? And C) does it help a woman in the business world to “act more like a man” by “being less emotional?” And D) do I sound like a jerk or at least naive for asking any of these questions?’

I asked the above questions word-for-word on Facebook for some input.  Based on the answers I received, here is how I would answer those questions:

A)  No, there is no desire to be physically as strong as a man.

B) No, there is no desire to hold in emotions the way men do, or at least they way they seem to do.

C) It can.  And this is a good example of an actual double standard between the sexes.

D)  No, because the motives are sincere in asking the questions.

The most sober and sobering thoughts I can learn through this social survey is that men and women are different for a reason.  They both have their own strengths in which they can compliment each other with.  Imagine how life would be in this world if men and women were truly equal in every way.  Scary, if you ask me. I would have to give birth, express my emotions, and never be able to truly “think about nothing.”  My mind would never stop and I would constantly be thinking about at least 10 different things at once, all the time.

That’s way too exhausting even for a strong, confident man such as myself.

Why Tap Dancing is Officially Masculine (And Most Other Kinds of Dancing are Feminine)

Le tap dance; la clog.

Unlike the French and Spanish languages, English doesn’t have masculine and feminine nouns.  Yet still, there are subtle gender clues and accents if we look closely enough for them.  Like the way that Coldplay is masculine, while The Fray is feminine (because they got famous by having their songs featured on Grey’s Anatomy). And the way a Dodge Dakota is masculine; while a Nissan X-Terra is feminine (this was referenced in an episode of The Office).

During dinner a few weeks ago I happened to catch 20 minutes of So You Think You Can Dance.  It was a results episode so they were mainly filling the air time with professional tap dancers, all of which were male.  Mainly dancing solo, but there were a few duos.  Interestingly, after each of them danced, they were briefly interviewed.  I couldn’t help but notice that none of these male tap dancers were the least bit effeminate or sexually questionable in any way- they were ordinary, straight dudes.

I’m okay with being politically incorrect in stating this fact that we already know and recognize: It’s common for professional male dancers (especially on reality TV shows) to not be straight.  Which is ironic because as we watch these couples dance, the male is being represented by a man who in reality may not be sexually attracted to women.  Typically, straight men are not the ones representing the guy in the relationship in these dances.

Why are straight men typically inclined not to be good dancers?  Because group dancing and dancing in pairs, as a whole, are more of feminine acts.  Dancing as we know it today is free-spirited and emotionally expressive.  It often shows the ups and downs of relationships and/or life in general.  That doesn’t work for most men, because a man’s mind is wired to be formulaic and often emotionally repressive.  Most men have to “learn to dance”.  Tell me what to do so I can get this right. It’s more about straight memorization for a straight guy to learn to dance.  He’s learning to dance to make his girlfriend or wife happy- not to express himself in a new exciting way.

When I think of famous tap dancers throughout American history, I think of classy Italian, Jewish, and African-American men wearing black suits like Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Gregory Hines, and of course, the legendary Tony Danza.  Although, this isn’t to say that all or even most tap-dancing men are straight.  But what I do recognize is 1) that because tap dancing is simply based on rhythm and formula (which are masculine elements- famous female drummers are a rare thing), and 2) that tap dancing only really evokes one basic emotional feel, which is always positive and upbeat.  I never remember seeing a tap dancing routine which went from happy, to sad, to angry, back to happy, to a feeling of loss, to happy, to acceptance of grief, to contentment, the way a typical 2 minute dance song on Dancing with the Stars or So You Think You Can Dance typically does.

Clogging, on the other hand, though similar to tap-dancing, is not masculine.  It often involves groups, costumes, and festive music- therefore making it a feminine art form, since there is room for “artistic expression”.  But square dancing is masculine because, like in tap-dancing, the mood is always the same (upbeat) and there is no guesswork on how to do it, since the instructions are typically spoken to music.

So how could a man and a woman dance to music and it realistically represent them and their relationship?  I’m picturing a guy tap dancing in his own little world while the woman ballet dances around him, and the guy is seemingly oblivious to what is going on.

Writing for Readers (and Reading the Writings) of the Opposite Sex

Are most of my readers men or women?  Let’s take a look at the demographics of Scenic Route Snapshots…

I like to keep up with the demographics of my readers, as best I can, by checking to see which posts are consistently the most popular and also by seeing which keywords are the most commonly searched phrases.  Because while I do write creatively and freely, I also want to be able to cater to “revisitors” to give them something worth coming back for- hopefully ending up in that coveted “Favorites” tab on their computer screen.

Another good indicator of who I am attracting as readers is by looking at my “tag cluster cloud” on the right side of the screen, entitled “What I Write About the Most”.  These are the topics I label myself to help readers in the WordPress community (the website franchise this site is published through) find posts about a particular subject they want to read about.  The more times I publish a post with that “tag word”, the larger it appears in the cluster cloud.  Here’s a breakdown of the tag words currently in my cluster cloud with an according “gender predictor” with each one:

Masculine: manspeak, men, wife

Feminine: Ali Fedotowsky, baby, Chris Harrison, dad from day one, Jake Pavelka, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette

Neutral: 1983, ABC (the network featuring LOST and The Bachelor, which I’ve written countless recaps for), America, American, Bible, blog, blogging, blogs, cancer, Christian, Christianity, coffee, comedy, déjà vu, English, facebook, family, Fort Payne, friends, funny, God, Google, Italian, Jacob (from LOST), Jesus, Jewish, Jews, life, LOST, Nashville, Nick Shell (while I am masculine, I appeal to both genders, as this particular post will explain), people, Starbucks, Thailand

While it appears to me that most of the topics I mention in my writings are gender neutral, the ones that are specifically feminine do outweigh those which are specifically masculine.  And even then, through the Manspeak series (categorized as “masculine”) is written to explain the way men think and speak, I’m inclined to assume that more women read the series than men, to understand their boyfriends, husbands, sons, and fathers.  (Click the title to get to the main Manspeak page: Manspeak, Volume 0: Introduction).

My estimate is that is that at least 85% of my readers are women and no more than 15% are men.  Not only do my Bachelor/Bachelorette recaps increase my female readership, but also so does my dad from day one series, which chronicles my thoughts as an expecting father. And that’s a peculiar thing to me- that I can write so frequently to the appeal of the feminine mindset, which works so differently from my own.

It’s happened throughout the course of history; from the Bible being written by all men (though there are countless female protagonists like Ruth and Esther) to the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling (whose real name is Joanne Murray, but who was strongly encouraged by her publisher to use a more masculine pen name that would better accommodate her targeted audience of young boys), men and women have been successfully writing for not only their own gender, but for the opposite as well.

But even though men and women think so differently, more important is the fact that People Who Write share a common trait with People Who Read: an artistic drive that supersedes gender differences.  I am completely bankrupt when it comes to sports trivia or fixing a garbage disposal, but I can come up with something new and creative to write about everyday that connects to the appropriate readers.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen for supporting my masculine-and-feminine-friendly writings.


Manspeak, Volume 1: Humor

It was April 2002 when I first learned/realized that humor is an expected male trait. My sister and I went to this $5 concert some new young musician guy was doing in Birmingham, AL. Supposedly he was about to make it huge and this show was to thank the local radio station for being the first to play his songs. It was none other than the pre-Jessica Simpson, pre-Jennifer Anniston, pre-tattoo sleeved John Mayer.

For months following the concert, I was unable and unwilling to remove his No Room for Squares album from my CD player. I picked up on the fact this 24 year-old kid swam in something I could relate to, and it wasn’t just our shared love of the year 1983. He spoke my language. The third track, “My Stupid Mouth”, had a line that said, “I just want to be liked, just want to be funny, looks like the joke’s on me”. That’s when I realized that I was not alone in that I felt responsible for having to be funny, because I am a guy.

While no doubt there are countless social expectations from the female gender, one that is not important and vital is humor. That’s a guy thing. Compared to the overwhelming number of male comedians, it’s more difficult to find successful female comedians. The ones I can think of right off, are not the norm for what is considered feminine: Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O’Donnell, Wanda Sykes, and Roseanne Barr.

I’m a personal fan of Ellen. I watched her talk show every day my senior year of college. She’s like one of the guys. And I think that’s why I relate to her so much.

The big exception to this “guys have to be the funny one” rule of comedy is Friends. Three men, three women, and they’re all funny. The show was co-written by a man and a woman. That 50/50 designation of both the actors and writers was part of the massive success of the show. Both men and women could relate to the humor and the characters. Even Seinfeld had a 3 to 1 ratio of male to female actors. Friends broke the mold.

Yes, attractive and feminine women can definitely be funny: Anna Faris, Tina Fey, Cameron Diaz, and Chelsea Handler. But I still see a tom-boyish quality about them. Where it at least seems like they grew up with all brothers. And for every one exception, there are five Seth Rogen’s, three Jon Stewart’s, and four Adam Sandler’s.

Men are expected to be funny, at least in some degree. Even Ben Stein, as dry and drab as he is, is still hilarious. (“Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Anyone?”) And the Terminator in his violent mission of destruction, right before he returns to the police station by running a squad car through the glass doors and blows away all those in his path, declares, “I’ll be back”. That, is funny.

While this may put extra pressure on a guy, there is a trade-off. Guys don’t have to find the perfect pair of shoes to match every “cute outfit” they own. Or give birth.

“If you can make a girl laugh, you can make her do anything.” –Marilyn Monroe

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

 

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