Tuesday, November 30, 2010

This show is getting Gleeking offensive

I'll start this post by admitting that I watch Glee. I enjoy it. I find it fun. Mostly, I love the music. But lately, something about it has been bothering me: namely, the way the show has been handling (heterosexual) teen dating.

Take, for example, the conversation that occurs between two of the show's male characters, Puck and Arty, during a recent episode entitled "Never Been Kissed." When Arty expresses disbelief in Puck's plan to help him get a girlfriend by ignoring her, Puck explains, “The thing about chicks is that you only have to be a fraction as nice to them as you were mean to them to get them to like you again.” To prove his point, he then invites Brittany and Santana out to dinner via the following conversation:

Puck: You two show up at Breadsticks tomorrow night around 7 and if we don't find hotter chicks to date, we might show up.
Santana: You are so cool.

When they're not using sleight-of-hand insults to ask out the female cast members, the males do a lot of one-liners and voiceover monologues about chicks, boobies, and how hot someone is or isn't (their vocabulary). In fact, one of the driving storylines in "Never Been Kissed" is the guys' use of the female football coach to "cool their jets," so to speak, while making out with their girlfriends. Of course, the guys frame this as the girlfriends' faults because "they won't put out." Never mind, of course, that one of them did in the first season and had to deal with pregnancy in a very isolating way.

I'm getting sick of this ridiculous downplaying of the female characters. Aside from one half-hearted attempt to address the issue by having the male characters whine about singing "I Am Woman" in the first season, the show doesn't seem to care that its portrayal of male-female interactions has gone from amusingly parodic to simply sexist. When Finn is told to find his groove in the episode "Hell-O," his music video of him singing "Hello I Love You" while the school's female students fall all over themselves to touch him is applauded. When Rachel tries something similar in "Bad Reputation" with "Run Joey Run," the entire Glee club comes down on her for being manipulative and self-centred.

So often in the early parts of the first season, the parody humour that was used to highlight problematic thinking became fodder for challenging that thinking later in the episodes. But those moments of lessons learned or thinking challenged are increasingly being passed by in favour of shinier costumes, more objectifying dancing, or expanding the unchallenged humour to hurt even more characters and images(did anyone else notice that the entire "Grilled Chesus" episode involved Finn being unbelievably self-centred and never realizing he should be thinking of Kurt's dad?).

I know that this show takes place during high school, when for many people hormones rule the day and reputations are more important than doing the right thing. I've been there- high school can be a really hellish environment for adolescents, because one of the side effects of puberty is being obsessed with the way peers perceive you- but really, why is the show's primary voice of authority- Will Schuster- willing to let so much slide? His character sees and hears a lot of the things I'm talking about during the course of Glee rehearsals. As Kurt points out him during "Never Been Kissed," Will isn't particularly good at reining in the club's homophobia. I'd argue that Will isn't particularly good at reining in any of the discrimination that happens right in front of him.

So what are we supposed to do? The show is receiving a lot of acclaim for (imperfectly) addressing things that really need to be addressed in the public sphere, such as bullying in schools, but at the same time it's doing very little to de-normalize the kinds of sexism that have held everyone back for a very long time. The people who watch Puck and Artie's conversation and don't entirely disagree with its message, for example, wind up teaching their friends, children, and others that this is an acceptable way to interact. And what kinds of relationships do they have with each other? How is this going to affect the dynamics of demanding sexual equality, particularly when the onus for everything- from the success of relationships to the success of the football team- is put on the willingness of girls and women to have sex unquestioningly and accept abusive behaviour from the men in their lives?

The show hasn't been the pinnacle of socially responsible TV, but it used to try a lot harder. And its lack of effort is making me madder and madder.

Links of Note, Only Some of Which Are About Sex

I decided to go with that post title after the initial title, "Sex," shocked the unsuspecting undergrad sitting next to me in a computer lab on campus. Oops?

But on the topic of sex, or rather - sexuality, Feminist Mormon Housewives had a great post about how LDS teenage women are taught about sexuality. This post outlines some of the problems in the way these women are currently taught about sexuality and suggests ways to improve their education. The author goes to great lengths to avoid suggesting any changes that would mess with doctrine. While I don't agree with all her suggestions, there is something brilliant (and heart-breaking) in her plea that young women leaders no longer compare women who have had sex to damaged objects. Flowers with their petals torn off? Chewed gum? A board filled with nails? Pretty disgusting. It should go without saying that those object lessons are bad ideas.

One point really stood out to me in that post: it's not only emotionally scarring to a young girl to be told that rape survivors have lost their virtue - it's also doctrinally inaccurate in the LDS church and all of Christianity. But reading that post reminded me of a couple delightful posts from I Blame the Patriarchy, where we learned that insects who don't mate must be female, and  that starving female preying mantises until they killed their mates was once considered good science.

On another note (and the true reason I changed the title from "Sex" to something more inclusive), Womanist Musings has a great post up about Tyler Perry and the way black women are portrayed in television and film. The post doesn't exactly love Perry, but it points out ways in which what he's doing is incredibly progressive compared to BET and the white-infused world that is every other TV channel.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Car troubles

Before I begin this post, it needs to be stated for the record that I have a lot of pride. I've always been the person who couldn't stand to ask for help because that would somehow imply weakness on my part. Case in point: as a toddler, I threw a huge temper tantrum once because I couldn't pick up a pumpkin that had taken both my parents to lift. My mother offered help, and in response, I shouted, "NO! I DO IT MYSELF!" Unfortunately, the "do it myself" attitude has persisted relatively intact into adulthood with me, and it's important that I mention this now as I begin a horrible story.

On November 11, approximately eleven days ago, I purchased my first used car. I wanted to play it safe- while I'm not a complete car idiot, I'm definitely no mechanic or car connoisseuse- and so I selected a 1999 Honda Accord. The price was right, the car was fine in the test drive, and all my online research about the ups and downs of this year, make, and model were fairly positive, so I thought I'd made a good choice.

Eleven days later, I'm not so sure. It's spent seven of those eleven days at the mechanic, having a myriad of leaks in its emissions system repaired. Every time I drive it, it seems, that obnoxious check engine light turns on and the saga grows ever longer. At this point, if I weren't sure that I've spent more on the car than I'd get from a trade-in, I'd bring it in to a nearby Honda dealership and explain that the hassle was theirs from this point forward. But for the first few days, the most striking thing about this car problem of mine was not mechanical...at least, not really mechanical.

For the first several days after this whole mess began, I felt like a little girl that people had taken advantage of (and pardon that dangling participle). I felt like I'd gone to the independent dealership vulnerable, and that they hadn't cared a whit about my needs- they'd simply seen a female with a debit card and had cackled with glee. Similarly, after the first round of repairs on the car didn't last, I felt like the mechanics were taking me for a metaphoric ride. When the car issues began happening, I immediately blamed myself for being such a good target. "Of COURSE you got fleeced by the dealers," I said to myself, "you don't even know your way around under the hood!" Then, when the first round of repairs cost $1,200.00, I told myself, "This would've been a lot cheaper if you knew how to check these things yourself." In short, this has left me feeling like I've got something to prove- not just because I'm like that as a person, but because I feel like I need to prove that not all women are dumb about cars.

This is where the "I've got a huge independent streak" opener comes in. I want to be sure to emphasize that my feelings on this matter are definitely compounded by my own personal tendencies to be hell-bent on the "do it myself" method. I tend to feel horribly incompetent even when I fail at doing typically female-gendexed things by myself, like cooking or managing to keep my apartment clean, so this isn't 100% gender-related. But there is a distinction to be made- a strong one- between feeling personally incompetent and feeling gender-ally incompetent. This car situation left me feeling the latter. It isn't just a personal shortcoming that I didn't know much about cars; it's the feeling that if been male, or a man, and gone to buy that car I might have been told more about its potential pitfalls, under the assumption that I'd know what the dealer meant. It's also the feeling that the mechanic would've been more up-front with me about the state of the emissions system in my engine. Let's be honest: four (or more) leaks in eleven days doesn't sound particularly stable to me. And maybe I could've been spared a lot of frustration if, "man to man," the mechanic had told me at the beginning that there were extensive repairs needed.

The flip side to the coin is that gendered expectations go both ways. If I were a cis man, the mechanic and the dealer might both have assumed a certain amount of mechanical prowess on my part. The dealer might have tried to sell me a flashy muscle car, presuming that I (and it?) ran on testosterone alone. The mechanic might still have downplayed the extent of the car's problems, but for different reasons. And, as we ought to know, penises don't come with basic mechanical skills rolled up inside. Having different plumbing and/or a different gender identity wouldn't change my auto skills. But it's hard to wind up in such an awful situation, knowing that my sex and gender identities probably haven't helped me in the slightest in my attempts to get a functional car for my money.

I suppose the bottom line is that, in addition to changing systemic attitudes about sex, gender, and cars, we need to empower ourselves to avoid being the victims of dealerships and mechanics looking to make a few extra dollars. Everyone should know their way around under the hood- and, thanks to a (female) former mechanic friend of mine, I now do. Everyone should also be able to read the assessment tests that mechanics perform when that awful check engine light comes on, and at least be able to Google the solutions that can be applied. And finally, everyone should know the "lemon laws" in their state, so if they wind up with a car as terrible as mine...they can get their money back.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Naked Skin: Why I Love My Face Without Makeup

You've probably seen the real version of this ad - a normal and healthy woman sits in front of a camera, and then a bunch of makeup artists and hair stylists change her appearance, before the photo of her is then changed to make her look gaunt and like any other model. I think I prefer the reversed version. Because when it ends on the image of her before the makeup, you can see how beautiful she is, even without any so-called "enhancements."

It's not that I think makeup is wrong or bad. I still take pride in the fact that I wore no makeup to either of my high school proms, but I understood why all my female friends chose to wear makeup for those nights. And it's also not as if I was ever sheltered from makeup. While many of my friends weren't allowed to wear makeup till they were fifteen or sixteen, my mother never stopped any of us from using makeup. When I made my face powder-white to cover my freckles as a ten-year-old, my mother didn't get mad when she found out: she laughed. At the same time, she consistently put on makeup each morning before leaving for work. It was like part of her face. In the same way I won't teach in sneakers, she didn't teach without eyeshadow and mascara (and she certainly didn't teach in sneakers).

I was fourteen before I tried makeup again, but only because I wasn't very interested in it. It was there, waiting for me, anytime I wanted it. So why hurry? But I can vividly remember what happened when I wore makeup again. I was fourteen, and I had brought some makeup to school with me. Although my mother had no rule against it at home, I felt self-conscious putting it on in front of my family. So I went into the girl's bathroom during my study period and applied makeup. It wasn't much, just the basics. And I put on so little that I doubt anyone else noticed. But I knew the difference, and I felt incredibly pretty.

It was only later, when I was washing the makeup from my face, that I realized how damaging makeup could be. I looked in the mirror before removing the makeup, and then after. And - I felt sad. I felt sad because what I saw in the mirror without that makeup there wasn't as attractive as what I saw with it. And I decided in that moment that I would not wear it again. I never wanted to hit the point that so many older women had hit where they could not leave the house without makeup, not even to go to the grocery store. I wanted to be happy with my naked skin. Now that I'm older, I do occasionally wear mascara. But for the most part I've kept to that standard I set for myself ten years ago.

New Hampshire isn't exactly the cosmetics capital of the US, so no one thought it all that strange that I didn't wear makeup, especially in high school. Some were surprised that I refused to wear it even for formal events, but when I explained my reasoning they accepted my reasons without batting an eye. Nobody told me I'd never be professional without makeup or that I couldn't think highly of myself if I didn't start wearing it. And, let's be honest - it's not like they worn a ton of makeup either. In fact, one of my high school friends often complained that her mother was ostracized by the intellectual women in the community for dying her hair and wearing makeup. According to my friend, the local women saw this look as artificial and unnatural.

And as much as it embarrasses me to admit it today, in high school I thought that only women with low self esteems wore makeup on a daily base. The girls who wore noticeable amounts of makeup on a daily basis were often known (or believed) to be having sex with sleazy boys, and they never seemed very happy. As a well-meaning but naive feminist, I pitied these women.

That naive pity transferred to the female undergrads at BYU when I came to college here. It didn't help that my first roommates were always complaining about their bodies. Through either luck or blindness, I'd never encountered such body-hatred in high school. In high school, my friend Beth would pass around magazines with famous feminist quotes (the best ones were from Miss Piggy) to counteract the images in the magazines. Of course we had body issues, but we kept it largely private. So imagine my surprise when I learned that there was such a thing as fat knees! I had no idea what fat knees would look like or how to determine if I had them.

Then I had a roommate who was bulimic, and as she explained the signs of her illness, I saw the signs of dehydration all around me. One day I overheard a girl throwing up in a restroom next to one of the dining halls. I could tell it was forced, by the way she gagged a little before throwing up, and by the fact that she waited till it sounded like I'd left (I think I opened the door to leave and then realized I'd forgotten something). I knocked on the stall door and asked, "are you okay?" There was a long pause, and then a "Yeah."

So I looked around me and saw all these women who were obsessed with their body image. One roommate - a woman I still think is strikingly beautiful - would frequently say things like, "I know I should go tanning. Pale skin is unattractive. But I don't think it would be healthy for my skin." Another time she said,  "I feel bad that I'm not more attractive. Whatever man I marry will deserve a pretty wife, and I wish I could be that pretty for him." So when she told me that makeup was a matter of hygiene, and then I looked around and saw all these women slathering on makeup every day, I assumed (falsely) that they all had low self esteems.

But I've had to repent of that false assumption, as I've found myself on the other side of the false assumptions. For instance, Carl the OMC once told me it was too bad someone as pretty as me didn't have enough faith in herself to make herself beautiful with makeup. He was flummoxed when I said how much I love my body, and he explained that he'd always assumed I didn't wear makeup because I just didn't think even makeup could make me look pretty.

I thought that was just Carl being an OMC, but since then many others have made similar comments. The other night, for example, I attended a church workshop on makeup. When I volunteered for a makeover (what morbidly curious feminist wouldn't?), the lady leaned down and said kindly, "I'll make it really soft. I promise." Since I was one of the very few women in the room wearing absolutely no makeup, she must have assumed I was terrified of the stuff. But her philosophy was this: you have to wear at least a little makeup each day, because wearing a little makeup will make you confident. Little did she know, on the rare occasion that I do wear makeup, I actually favor dark colors.

I was skeptical at first about makeup as a self-esteem boost, but as I looked around me, I watched how some of the other women in the room truly glowed with pride when they saw their faces after the makeovers. She held a little mirror up and pushed a button on it. The mirror said, "You are so beautiful." As a rule, each woman had to say, "Yes, I am," before leaving the makeover chair. For some of the women, this statement was difficult. They weren't used to thinking of themselves as beautiful. For me, it was difficult for a different reason: I hated how the makeup marred my beautiful skin.

My skin isn't particularly attractive. In fact, as far as my natural advantages go, my skin ranks pretty low. It takes more than one prescription to keep it looking like skin and not like a slice of pizza. But it's mine. And I think it's far more beautiful as it is, than with paint or powder obscuring it. So when I looked in the mirror and saw a garrish painting (by my standards only, I realize) staring back, I stumbled. "Yes... I am..." I muttered.

As I walked back to my chair, the lady who had so kindly given me a makeover laughed over how hard it had been for me to say. And it was only then that I realized how thoroughly she believed that a woman who refused to wear makeup didn't really believe she was beautiful.

This entry is already quite long, and so far I've only discussed cultural differences and how my unique experience with makeup keeps me away from it. But that's not really the point to this post. That's really just the background to my main point. The real point is that when I went home, I washed my face. And when I saw my own skin again, I smiled and said, "Yes. That's much better."

In some places and in some times, it's both a fight and a statement of feminism for a woman to wear makeup. In fact, one of the main reasons female missionaries in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are encouraged to wear makeup is so that people can see how modern and unoppressed they are. But for me, not wearing makeup is my own personal statement of liberty, self-love, and feminism. It's my way of saying that I'm beautiful the way I am. That I'm a woman the way I am, and that I don't need to prove it by painting my skin. It's also a way of saying that I respect God's work so much that I'm not going to mess with it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Review of "Worthless Women" and the authors who create them

I recently ran across a popular blog posting called “Worthless women and the men who make them” written by Single Dad Laughing, a well-traveled blog about a single father (who incidentally has been divorced twice before the age of thirty) and his son. In noticing the title I decided I had to read the article, anything that started out with “worthless women” was bound to be interesting.

Allow me to sum up this badly written and absurdly long blog post written by a man who obviously knows quite a bit about women (sorry for the sarcasm). Single dad laughing makes the claim that women only think of themselves as worthless; he proposes that the reason for this is that men too readily enjoy the “fake” women that grace our media. His solution to this problem of errant looking? Men should stop looking. Now all of this appears palatable doesn’t it? That’s when we encounter the underlying message that tears down his argument, he believes that it is ONLY once men stop behaving this way that women can change the way they view themselves. As he states in regards to the ability of women to change this view of their self-wroth by themselves, “I don't know how it is possible so long as we, as men, stop and look. So long as I stop and look. In fact, I'm certain that it is not. A woman can tell herself that those images are fake until the sun goes down, but at the end of the day, her self-talk will barely matter….If men never stopped. If men never looked. Do you honestly think women would have this problem? Think about that. Would these magazines even exist if men weren't interested in the fakeness splashed across their covers? Women would not care. They would feel no need to live up to a digital standard of beauty because there would be no reason to do so. Not if it was something we didn't want” (Single Dad Laughing Paragraph 47 and 67).

One, I think his tone here of “I am God’s gift to women because I’m the only man across the United States who has realized this” is offensive and self-righteous. Second, and my biggest issue with this post, he completely negates the ability of a woman to change for herself! It is only through a man changing his viewpoint of a woman that she is able to change the way that she sees herself. Does anyone else see a problem with this ideology? I believe that people are individuals and that it is only through the self that change is possible; pushing women back onto the pedestal of helplessness is no example of progressivism and isn’t doing women any favors.

Now, I see that his intentions here are probably good, he means I think to change the negative media that demands women be tall, leggy blonds with a 26” waist and D-cup bra. I agree, however, my ability to see myself as worthwhile isn’t dependent on a man’s ability to do so and I think telling women that you are only beautiful when a man tells you that you are, is just a destructive and backwards and damaging as telling them they have to achieve your standards of beauty. It pushes women once again into the spot of the dependent, and worse yet, as the mental dependent of a man.

The fact of the matter is this man operates within the same faulty logic as do the people he is decrying. Later on his post, despite his claims that this negative view of women’s bodies is mostly the fault of men, he still throws the blame back to women and says, “And what do you say, women? Throw us a freaking bone? Give us something we can believe in? Give us the women we so desperately want to cherish? "Real" women with "real" love for themselves? All you have to do is stop. And look. Look at reality. Look at what you want. Look at what needs to be changed. Look at the problems you're making worse instead of better. And, never, not even once, let those self-loathing statements listed above enter your thoughts. Certainly never let them escape your lips “(Par 78).

First off, don’t tell me what to do, don’t ever tell me what I can and cannot think. Secondly, you demand that I give you a real woman? So if a woman does struggle with her self-image suddenly she is no longer a “real” woman? She no longer has any self-worth in your eyes? Weird, I thought that you were arguing against that idea.

Next in his post he demands that men “need” women to be this way. “We need you to be beautiful. Because beautiful you are (Par 70).” So first he asserts that men must change women, however in order for men to make this positive change, they “need” women to be “real” and “beautiful”. I think that here he does men a disservice as well. He seems to believe that men are also incapable of viewing women differently by themselves, men too cannot change without first women changing themselves. His solution is therefore not really a solution, merely a catch 22 where neither gender can ever change the way they think about women. If the world were to follow this model nothing positive would ever be achieved because before people can think better of the other, the other must think better of themselves and before they can do that, the first people must first think better of the other.

Now to add the cherry on top of his logical fallacies he once again demands that despite his previous claims, it really is the fault of women if men think badly of them. He says, “I can't believe I am going to say what I am about to say. I can't believe I actually do want what I am about to ask. But I do. Desperately. So, I'm going to throw it out there. I think we need women to wear clothing that shows a little less instead of a little more. We need women to wear pants that are a little looser instead of a little tighter. We need women to put their boobs back inside of their shirts. I feel crazy even saying it (I'm a single guy for crying out loud), but maybe if women gave everybody a little less to compare, this whole thing would be a little easier for us all, no matter what our chromosomal make-up” (Par 72). Apparently if I would like Mr. Single Dad Laughing to change the way I view MYSELF I must first change everything about MYSELF. I need to stop wearing clothing that might be a little tight, because that would make everything easier for HIM.

I have a question though Single Dad Laughing, if I don’t wear clothing that meets YOUR explicit instructions, does that mean I’m worthless?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I'm a Woman, and I'm not High-pitched

I'm probably going to make a few enemies with this post, but there are some myths out there that are just too offensive to go ignored. And tonight I once again encountered one of those myths - at a church dating workshop.

Now, I suspected the workshop wouldn't be my cup of tea, even before I went. Based on the way many people in my community speak about gender, I had a feeling this workshop would cast men and women in the traditional roles of bold male hunter and flirtatious damsel in distress. But what can I say - I'm morbidly fascinated by these stereotype-informed, pseudo-scientific presentations. I knew that if nothing else the presentation would amuse me. Well, it did. But the audience's reaction to our dating sage's advice did not amuse me.

Who is this guru who has me irritated and bold enough to publicly complain? Well, the dating coach is a woman named Alisa Goodwin Snell. She's published such gems as Dating Secrets for Marrying a Good Man and Want to Marry a Good Man? Here's How.You can read more about her on her website.  While I admire Snell's drive and her dedication to helping people develop safe and healthy relationships, her tips rely on stereotypes that leave unconventional men and women out in the cold.

While she provided some rather good tips on how to effectively communicate interest to a potential romantic interest, particularly in terms of body language (taking a step forward, for instance), she undid much of the understanding she tried to build between genders by stubbornly representing men and women in stereotypes. According to her, men care more about being trusted and respected in a relationship than anything else, while women care more about feeling safe and secure. Yet, when she asked each gender to say what they valued most in a relationship... not even a majority of the group gave her the answers she was expecting. But that didn't stop her from pretending they had agreed with her.

Personally, I value a man showing me respect more than anything else. How could I even begin to feel safe and secure anyway if a man didn't respect me? But Alisa Snell didn't even build potential exceptions into her dialogue. She provided a handout that listed the 17 secrets to understanding the male and female psychology, and each item on the list built upon that main stereotype. What did this handout teach us? That women want immediate relationships, men love to feel like heroes, women like receiving gifts, and men like talking about things and activities rather than ideas and people. Again, her narrative did not leave room for exceptions or acknowledge that these traits may vary depending on class, socioeconomics, race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, biology, education, etc.

Then she gave us advice on how to initiate romance with the opposite gender. (Since her audience is comprised of LDS young single adults, she only talked about heterosexual dating. Given who her audience was, I think that's fitting, though I know some members of the gay rights movement would disagree with me on this point). Her advice to men seemed well-received by the entire audience. She gave them tips on how to come across as confident, and most of the tips related to body language and wording. She kept warning men that they couldn't come across as "too nice," a point that I found disturbing, but mainly because she never defined what she meant by "too nice" and thus may have unintentionally given a few men license to act like jerks. All in all, though, her advice to men seemed empowering. She was teaching them how to be confident in order to appeal to women.

And then she gave the women advice. Because men "like femininity" (as her handout on the male psychology explained), her advice to women focused on how to act more feminine. It hardly needs saying that there's a real problem in a dichotomy that instructs men to act confident and women to act feminine. Not only is femininity impossible to define - I'm pretty sure that as a woman I am by definition already feminine - but she helped us hear what a feminine voice sounds like by taking her voice back and forth between what she called "business-like" on one end of the spectrum, and "feminine" on the other end. There was no similar spectrum to show men the difference between a business-like voice and a masculine (or confident, since that's what she was telling them to be) voice.

When some of the women in the room bristled at her recommendation to talk in a high-pitched "feminine" voice, she told us that she hears two main complaints about this piece of advice and then offered her rebuttals:

1. She said that women say, "I'm not that kind of person. I don't talk like that," but that all women talk that way to babies and that they should also talk that way to the men they're interested in. When I later told some other girls in the audience that I don't talk to babies in a high-pitched voice, they said, "Yes you do." Even though they've never seen me around babies. Somehow, the fact that most men also talk to babies in high-pitched voices never came up. But I can see why she wouldn't mention that - after all, you can't let facts get in the way of a marketable stereotype.

2. A few women in the audience said that they don't want to sound ditzy or superficial. Alisa explained that women who talk in high-pitched voices only sound superficial or ditzy when they're trying to get everyone in the room to pay attention to them, but that if a woman directs that voice at a particular man, that voice will make him feel good about himself and not draw attention to her. No, I'm not making this up. She actually said this stuff.

Alisa then proceeded to act out how a woman could get a man to ask for her number and how a man could continue to persist even after a woman had given him a clear 'no.' When a woman in the audience asked for Alisa's perspective on asking a man out, Alisa explained how to do so. Here's the gist of it:

"I feel a little embarrassed, because this is really hard, but there's this Christmas party coming up at my work. And when I was thinking over all the guys I know, you seemed like someone who would make it really fun. Do you think you could help me out and go as my date?"

And then, "I never know how to do this when the girl asks - would you mind picking me up? Should I call you, or would you like to call me? Calling must be so scary! I don't know how you guys do it, I'd get so nervous!"

Remember, all of this was said in a high-pitched, breathy voice.

Now, am I saying that her advice is bad for everyone? Absolutely not. I actually found some really excellent tidbits in her presentation, and a lot of the other people in the room seemed to find her advice even more helpful. She offered great advice on how to use precise wording for the best effect, helpful ideas about using body language to help others feel comfortable, and excellent ideas on how to keep up a positive attitude in the face of dating failures.

But the bulk of her advice came back to the idea that men should present themselves as heroes and that women should present themselves as damsels in distress in order to make it easier for men to feel like heroes. And you know what? The men in the room quite vocally agreed. If that dating model works for most of the people who were there tonight, then hey - I'm sure that's great for them.

As for me and my voice, we will not be affecting a high-pitched, damsel-in-distress routine anytime soon.