Blind Spots

Blind Spot. Image courtesy of

Blind Spot. Image courtesy of

Last week-end I had lunch with a friend and, as always, the conversation was great, ranging over everything from books and education to politics and religion. It was a fabulous time, full of recreational thinking and awesome insights, including one that I hadn’t known to expect: My blind spots are back.

I’ve got cultural blind spots so big that I often get lost in them  before I even know I’m off the map.

This isn’t a new realization. I get it every so often, usually when I stop thinking on autopilot and encounter something contextually unexpected. In this case, it was a Coke ad, or rather, the response to a Coke ad.

During the Superbowl, Coca-Cola ran an ad featuring Americans from different cultural backgrounds doing normal people things, like dancing and swimming and laughing, while the song, “America the Beautiful” played in the background. It was nicely done and inclusive. Honestly, I barely thought about it. But a lot of people did and here’s why:

“America the Beautiful” was sung in multiple languages. Apparently, this wasn’t ok, because the response on Twitter was, shall we say, vitriolic. You can see both the ad and a selection of vitriolic tweets over at Public Shaming, (a site that does, I must admit, have a left-leaning slant).

So, all of this goes down and I’m mostly unaware. I’d seen the ad but, like I said, I didn’t really think about it, mostly because I don’t drink soda. So when my friend referenced the openly racist nature of the Twitter response, it took me a second to process it, because it honestly didn’t make sense. I mean, what kind of problem could people have? Right? It’s Coke. Whatever.

See? Blind Spot.

Here’s the thing. I live in California. I grew up in San Francisco  and, for the most part, the only other places I’ve lived were New York City and West Hollywood. In short, I have always occupied a socially liberal bubble. (There was a brief, nine month stint outside of Dallas but, in that time, the bubble ceased to exist, which was interesting. It re-inflated after I moved back to California).

Without imposing a value-judgement one way or the other, let’s just say that I’m not often forced to process differing cultural views. Sure, I went to Catholic high school, but it was in 1990’s San Francisco, so all five teen pregnancies were accommodated without judgement or fuss (right down to special desks) and not one, but two gay male couples went to prom (without getting killed with sticks) in the four years that I was there. Homosexuality, multiculturalism and sex where just part of my landscape and, to a great degree, they remain so.

Which is why when I encounter a response like the one on Twitter, I get thrown off. Because, due to social self-selection (i.e.: having friends with similar cultural beliefs) and geographic location, I’m essentially insulated from opposing beliefs, which is why the media – both social and otherwise – is so valuable.

The Internet is essentially my safety net. Through regular news scrapes and general browsing, it ensures that I’m exposed to the world beyond my ideological nose. I just can’t get lazy – it doesn’t work if I only read my favorites (sorry Slate, Salon and Nerve). My surprise during lunch with my friend was a wake-up call, one that I periodically need, because, for all my talk about discourse, I’ve been getting mentally lazy and complacent. Apparently, to paraphrase Doc Holliday, my hypocrisy knows no bounds.

So, more than anything, this post is a reminder for me to get off my mental ass and see what’s going on beyond my comfort zone. Because blind spots are scary. They’re a weakness. Blind spots are where things hide. As someone who hates surprises, I need to reclaim a bit of that territory before something unexpected bites me on the ass. Figuratively speaking, of course. I’d prefer to be the mountain lion, and not the deer.

A Question: On Women and Homoeroticism

This is really more of a question than a proper post, but I’ve had an idea for an article and I want to solicit some opinions before I write it.

A friend posted a video of two men kissing the other day and the response from women was, shall we say, heated… as in, every single woman who responded thought it was hot. Granted, there was some selection bias, but it was enough to get me thinking. So I did some shallow digging and uncovered a comparatively large cache of media, mostly written, though there’s plenty of visual too, (cheeky little gifs), that cater to women who love watching homoerotic situations and / or gay sex. The fact that M/M erotica and porn do very well with the female demographic, (and not just in the gay community), tells me there’s something there. What I’d love to do is figure out what that something might be.

From a personal angle, I can absolutely see the appeal of watching / reading about two men, (just as many men find the idea of two women to be a fine thing) but I’d like to go beyond “yeah, that’s hot” to figure out why. So, I’m soliciting opinions and thoughts on the subject.

A few guidelines first though:

1. If the thought of two men engaging in sexual contact isn’t your thing, that’s absolutely fine. I know that there are plenty of men and women who would prefer to take a pass. That said, please don’t blast the notion in your comments, because the reality is that there are many people who would take seconds on that dish. Please respect the fact that it’s a personal preference and do not treat the question as an attack on your own predilections.

2. As I mentioned above, I’m keeping the inquiry pretty restricted to women viewing / reading about two (or more) men. If, however, there’s an angle that involves the converse appeal for many men in watching two women, please feel free to mention it.

3. Be respectful. This question involves sex, homoeroticism and certain aspects of voyeurism. As such, some folks may find it uncomfortable. Again, that’s ok. Just be sensitive to the tastes of others. In short, see #1.

Thanks! I appreciate the time anyone takes to weigh in!

Edited 1/28/14: I would just like to thank everyone who has taken the time to weigh in on this subject. I’m leaving the comments open, so if anyone has anything to add, please feel free!

On Curiosity & Discourse, or What I’m Doing Here

Although I’ve done a number of things in my life, from acting to academia, curiosity has been a constant. I’m a curious person. I like to think.

Here are some things I think about in no particular order:

  • Beauty
  • Culture
  • Psychology
  • Coping Mechanisms
  • Dissociative Disorders
  • Feminism in the 21st century
  • Gender Relations
  • Religion
  • Atheism
  • Spirituality
  • Buddhism
  • Books
  • Literature
  • Smut
  • Academia
  • Human Behavior
  • Media, Social and Otherwise
  • Parenting
  • Sex
  • Sexuality
  • Sexual Dynamics
  • Sex as Conversation
  • Gender Normativity
  • Writing
  • Ethics
  • Morality
  • Sociopathy
  • Empathy
  • Power Dynamics
  • Control
  • Deviance
  • Innocence
  • BDSM
  • Virginity
  • Femininity
  • Masculinity
  • Performative Identity
  • Performative Sexuality
  • Personal Identity
  • Gender
  • Adaptation
  • Relationships
  • Justice
  • Existential Quandaries
  • Other Minds
  • Personal Responsibility
  • Cultural Analysis
  • Literary Criticism
  • Guilty Pleasures
  • Food
  • TV
  • Movies & Film
  • San Francisco
  • New York
  • Hollywood
  • Motherhood
  • Fairy Tales
  • Point of View
  • Truth
  • Fiction
  • Essays
  • Names
  • Integrity
  • Recovery
  • Duality
  • Art
  • Discipline
  • Doubling
  • Non-Monogamy
  • Incest
  • Tea
  • Things Other People Say That Are Terribly Clever

This isn’t a complete list, but it’s close – for now. There’s always room for more.

More importantly, it covers what I’ll be thinking and writing about here –  thinking being the operative word. Conclusions are comforting, but they can be dangerous, which is why I’m more interested in discourse than in answers.

While I’m sure I will come to and posit many conclusions in my posts, my aim is to do so with an open mind, and to form as little attachment to them as possible. In this way, I hope to maintain a fluid perspective that will allow for discussion, rather than the parroting of ideologies. Ideologies love a parrot. I’ll think for myself, thanks very much.

And I invite comments. I want to know what you think, too. Otherwise, there’s little point in tossing more words into the void. Thinking. Curiosity. Discussion. Running the gamut from A to B, to paraphrase Dorothy Parker. This is the fun stuff for me. I hope it is for you too.