Sunday, January 31, 2010

Reflections (6): On Being a Guy


Walking by a beauty salon the other day I stopped dead in my tracks. Turns out it was some sort of day spa for dudes. For a fee of over $100 a guy can enjoy a pedicure, a manicure, a lucious mud bath and complementary bath oils and soaps. Full-body massages are extra.

What. The. Fuck?

I don't know about you, but after spending almost three months “showering” in McDonalds' bathrooms all of this metrosexual bullshit pisses me off. I understand that Simple Living can mean different things for different people, but I can't help but feel sad at the current state of heterosexual guydom.




In the great tradition of Edward R. Murrow here's my own This I Believe short essay:

THIS I BELIEVE

I believe in Moday Night Football, pickup basketball and sweaty gyms.

I believe in shaving only when I feel like it.

I believe in making love to beautiful women.

I believe in drinking good beer and embracing occasional hangovers.

I believe in never shaving my chest.

I believe men can be considerate, loving, open and honest with their partners without turning into total pussies.

I believe half-naked chicks riding mechanical bulls are hot. Yeah, I said it. Again.

I believe I would rather get punched in my balls than watch The Notebook.

This I believe.


[Reflections Introductory Post]

49 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Nancy said...

Oh Jack,
You are a guy's guy for sure. From all that I have read, I don't think anyone or anything will ever convince your faithful readers that you will become metrosexual. We love you the way you are. Most men I know, and maybe this is you too, do those things that us women accept. That includes drinking beer, farting, burping and running as fast you can from every "chick flick" out there.
I personally love men when they are true guys...sweat and all.
Keep being yourself, Jack.

Anonymous said...

Being a real person takes real balls. Being a real man obligates one to define particular goals in life. As Jack mentioned, it's hard to really appreciate those who live fake lifestyles while the rest of us are out there tasting the rusty water of some random McDonalds while trying to take a half-ass shower on the road...

Here's my piece:

I will...

1. love a woman with my whole heart and soul.
2. be humble and respect my gift of life.
3. shoot a gun. exceptionally well.
4. eat something--many things--I killed by my own means.
5. travel around the world without a reason.
6. make my own shit, including tools.
7. defend myself and my territory against man and beast.
8. understand money without depending on it.
9. complete multiple epic athletic events.
10. master all forms of communication in at least two languages.
11. prepare a stellar meal for guests.
12. help others when help is due.
13. invent something. something good.
14. gracefully ignore non-life-threatening injuries.
15. call bullshit right away.
16. strike a business deal in style.
17. think--deeply and meaningfully--before speaking.
18. always practice honesty. no exceptions.
19. make a major contribution to society.
20. embrace perpetual learning.

Jesse

Jack said...

@comment deleted,

Comment from "Jessie" that was further edited and now appears as the third comment.

@Nancy,

Thanks Nancy. I will. :)

@Jessie,

That's fucking awesome! Love it.

Japhy said...

The man (or woman for that matter) who earns my respect is the man that acts authentically, that acts consistent with who they are deep down, regardless of what others think. If that manifests by fussy grooming and preening, great. If it manifests in over the top displays of machoness...great. Or whatever in between. The problem I have is that, for most of these people, they're trying to fit an image that they believe is acceptable to others, rather than being themselves. And that goes for both ends of the spectrum, be it metrosexuals or over-testosteroned masculinity.

oldocwoods said...

So basically what your saying is some type of commodified excess and material comfort is ok (beer and alcohol consumption), but other varieties (manicures and facials for men) are suspect because they dont jibe with your sense of what it means to be a free man? Two thoughts: God, how boring to see the world in such a limited fashion. Freedom is nothing if its not shared, and that means potentially engaging with people who challenge you, including interactions with people who choose to utilize their discretionary spending on facials rather than getting wasted, or who you might judge to be "pussy". For example, what if the "manscaping" didnt involve money at all? Would you find it as suspect then? Somehow I think so. But regardless, as a counterfactual, I know a group of men who get together every month to trade things like waxing, facials, massages, and yes, chest shaving. Now before you get all butcher than thou, I will concede that they probably have very little interest in monday night football, but I could guarantee you that they all excel in areas that I find important, such as barn and house building, farming, and animal husbandry. Street ball is great. But when was the last time you grew your own food, repaired fences, or built chicken coops for your neighbors? We obviously have different standards for masculinity (full disclosure, I'm a fag, but many of these men in my example are not) Second, there are historical precedents for the path that your currently on, and maybe you should try reading up on them. For example, it was common for heterosexual men in the late '60s and '70s to "cut back," to discover their true selves, or get turned on to alternative engagements with commodities, or the market--to drop out, as it were. But a common complaint of many of the women involved in similar endeavors was that although the men talked a good game, they still carried with them tons of baggage from growing up with bourgeois expectations about the roles of women and men. Armisted Maupin, in his Tales of the City, uses the character ”Mona Ramsey to channel what was a very common sentiment: “Underneath all that hair and Patchouli beats the heart of a true pig.” As much as I have enjoyed aspects of your blog, and the patchouli aside, this posting on metrosexuals is almost a pure expression of that sentiment. Look, I get it, your on a journey. I applaud that. I'm just hoping that maybe on this journey you start to question some of the values and expectations that you have inherited by growing up in conditions of affluence. It seems to me that almost all of the epiphanies that you have had on this journey have been self directed. But what about your relationship with other people? Those are just as easily subject to commodification and distortion. Obviously, perfection is not the goal here. But I cant see how "hating meterosexuals" for being "pussy" is going to bring you any closer to the freedom of simple happiness. That is, unless the freedom of simple happiness just means individual expression. In which case, you haven't far to journey as thats the basis of the society we currently live in.

Rayful Edmond said...

Oh geez. I chose to live in DC for 17 years, including some "Barry years" and many of those years were not "west of the park". The recent explosion of metrosexual bullshit in DC is indeed annoying. There are two take-aways from this blog post.

1) DC is Ground Zero for self-centered, self-important "guys", whether or not they are metrosexuals.
2) Jack is a guy who continues to choose to live in DC. Check back often to see if he ever moves away....

fatstupidamerican said...

I believe

... that beer is awesome
... scars are better than tattoos
... in wearing flannel

Fonk said...

Sorry, dude, but nothing seems more pathetic to me than trying to define what a "real man" is. It reeks of insecurity, and trying to boost your own self image by putting down others.

Debbi said...

Um, what's The Notebook?

Well, here's my own list of things I believe:

1. I hate shopping for shoes (my great big size 10 feet haven't helped);

2. I hate shopping for clothes (I prefer to have bought);

3. I hate sales and crowded malls (no air, suffocating, plus see #2);

4. I don't wear make-up or ever intend to (if you don't like my looks, look elsewhere);

5. I'd rather be punched in the tit than be forced to watch some stupid romantic comedy that's supposed to appeal to women;

6. Some of my favorite movies include certain war movies and action-adventure films ("Apocalypse Now," "Platoon," "Run Silent, Run Deep," "Full Metal Jacket," "Where Eagles Dare," "The Great Escape" . . . I could go on and on);

7. "An Affair to Remember" is one of the stupidest movies I've ever seen;

8. I'll drink cyanide before I watch nearly anything on Lifetime or Oxygen;

9. Do NOT make me watch "The View" *shudder*;

10. I think generalizations about men and women suck.

Best I could do off the top of my head.

E said...

You do a little low-cost traveling, and now you get to look down in pity on those around you. Hate to break it to you, but those 'pussies' don't give a shit about what you think.
Uncool, Jack. Uncool.

Jack said...

@Japhy,

“The man (or woman for that matter) who earns my respect is the man that acts authentically, that acts consistent with who they are deep down, regardless of what others think.”

Couldn't agree more. Loved your comment. Authenticity is key. And maybe that's the beauty of Simple Living for me. It has allowed me to embrace who I am, without any societal/cultural crap getting in the way. Dudes that are being authentic by embracing a metrosexual lifestyle are awesome in my book.

@oldocwoods, (PART ONE)

[I hope you don't mind, but I had to split my response to your rather lengthy comment into several pieces]

“So basically what your saying is some type of commodified excess and material comfort is ok (beer and alcohol consumption), but other varieties (manicures and facials for men) are suspect because they dont jibe with your sense of what it means to be a free man?”

Methinks you are reading WAY too much into this meager, modest post. Nowhere in this post do I suggest, advance or otherwise advocate any sort of hierarchy of human activity through which a person's freedom can be measured. In fact, I expressly state that “I understand that Simple Living can mean different things for different people.” As I've mentioned repeatedly in previous posts and in prior comments, NO SUCH HIERHCY EXISTS.

A person can seek to eschew anything that does not speak to their internal values through a personal journey of their own choosing. If a person's “true values” are reflected in a metrosexual lifestyle then great. See my comment to Japhy above.

“Freedom is nothing if its not shared, and that means potentially engaging with people who challenge you”

Geesh, whoever said I don't interact with “metrosexuals”

Jack said...

@oldocwoods, (PART 2)

“For example, what if the "manscaping" didnt involve money at all? Would you find it as suspect then?”

Of course. My critique does not merely focus on the obvious excess involved in maintaining a “metrosexual” lifestyle. I find the whole concept repulsive. So what? Am I supposed to like everything that everyone does on the face of the earth? Fuck no. I'm sure there is stuff I do that you would find equally annoying/offensive/repulsive.

“Now before you get all butcher than thou, I will concede that they probably have very little interest in monday night football, but I could guarantee you that they all excel in areas that I find important, such as barn and house building, farming, and animal husbandry. Street ball is great. But when was the last time you grew your own food, repaired fences, or built chicken coops for your neighbors?”

Dude, again, you are taking this all too seriously, or personally, or both. I'm a city kid so I can't quite put barn building, farming and fence repairing in my list. Do I think it takes balls and tons of sweat to get all that stuff done? Sure. This is not a pissing contest. No one is going to have the bigger balls at the end of the day. This post isn't saying that metrosexual males are not men. It is merely stating a preference for one particular lifestyle at the expense of another. The other isn't wrong, harmful or not viable. I just don't like it.

Jack said...

@oldocwoods, (PART THREE)

“I'm just hoping that maybe on this journey you start to question some of the values and expectations that you have inherited by growing up in conditions of affluence.”

I just can't believe you are using Tales of the City against me. That actually hurts. I loved the miniseries. You could have at least used the sequel which pretty much sucked.

Anways, if you are a regular reader then you already know that I've done quite a bit of changing and that questioning is at the very heart of this blog. And you are right, perfection (assuming that's actually quantifiable) is not my goal. I am merely expressing who I am in a moment in time.

And by the way, why do you assume that I grew up “in conditions of affluence?”

“It seems to me that almost all of the epiphanies that you have had on this journey have been self directed. But what about your relationship with other people?”

This, in my opinion, is the only instance where you present a legitimate critique, though it is a global critique and not necessarily specific to this post. You are ABSOLUTELY right. In fact, it's one of my biggest weaknesses. Believe me, I'm fully aware of this. Have been trying to address this. Please see my recent post on volunteering for more on this whole issue.

Jack said...

@Oldocwoods (PART FOUR)

“But I cant see how "hating meterosexuals" for being "pussy" is going to bring you any closer to the freedom of simple happiness.”

Wow. I think this sentence says it all. WHERE EXACTLY do I say that I hate metrosexuals? WHERE EXACTLY do I call metrosexuals pussies? More to the point, where do you get the balls (no pun intended) to put those quotation marks in this sentence as you do?

Come on! If you are a regular reader of this blog then you know I strive to be brutally honest, even at the cost of my own self-esteem. I encourage you to do the same here. You know what I think? I think you read this post and “hate metrosexuals” and “metrosexuals are pussies” is all you saw. It didn't matter that I never said those things. You read what you wanted to read in this post. And nothing more.

Jack said...

@oldocwoods, (FINAL THOUGHTS)

Here's my problem: if MY critique of YOUR critique as presented in this comment is accurate (and again, we can agree to disagree), then all we are left with is someone who subjectively assumes that the thoughts presented in this post are inherently negative, or otherwise antithetical to the life of a “good person,” whatever that means. Is that a fair assumption?

In other words, what makes you so sure that I can't find the metrosexual lifestyle repulsive and embrace my rather inoffensive This I Believe mini-essay and still be a good, decent person who no longer needs to “question” his “values and expectations?” What makes your rather subjective conclusory assumptions right and my rather hapless opinions wrong? Why am I a person that should eventually change my views along the lines you suggest because what I wrote in this post is clearly evidence that I have much further to go in my own personal development?

Jack said...

@Rayful Endmond,

“DC is Ground Zero for self-centered, self-important "guys", whether or not they are metrosexuals.”

Hey, not about to critique you too much there. I am, after all, a blog author. On the other hand, I've always considered the self-centered label inherent in the world of blogging, irrespective of whether I am self-centered or not.

Umm...also, don't assume I still live in DC.

@fatstupidamerican,

Sweet.

@Fonk,

No worries. Totally respect your opinion. For the record, I didn't really want to put anyone, in particular, down. Is saying that the metrosexual lifestyle blows because it looks excessive and does not jive with my own personal lifestyle such a controversial thing? I wonder how many metrosexuals would say the same thing about how I live my life...

Jack said...

@Debbie

“Um, what's The Notebook?”

Best line ever.

And re your list, are you seeing anyone right now? Apocalypse Now, your place or mine.

@E,

“You do a little low-cost traveling, and now you get to look down in pity on those around you. Hate to break it to you, but those 'pussies' don't give a shit about what you think. 
Uncool, Jack. Uncool.”

I apologize in advance E but I've got to tell you, this was a rather banal, thoughtless comment. I have no idea why you assume I pity anyone. Where, exactly, is that discussed in this blog?

Oh, and by the way, you might be right. Those 'pussies' might not give a shit what I think. But, seriously, why would I care what they think in the first place. Besides, you cared enough to comment on this blog. That says something.

oldocwoods said...

Jack: Thank you for your response. My comments were just to point out what seems to be some glaring contradictions in this most recent posting when read against many of the evolving goals stated in your blog (Most notably your intention to "Be More Open to Others" and "Be more spiritual). In my comments, I just wanted to encourage you to see this posting as quite superficial, and in that sense in real conflict with these goals. I will keep my answers succinct.

1. "why do you assume that I grew up “in conditions of affluence?”" My intention here is to point towards the relative affluence of living in the U.S., where Voluntary Simplicity has moral and political relevance, when compared to places like Haiti, or Zimbabwe, for example.

2. "Nowhere in this post do I suggest, advance or otherwise advocate any sort of hierarchy of human activity through which a person's freedom can be measured." Look, I really think you mean this, in one sense, but in another sense, I think this assertion is brutally dishonest. The notion of hierarchy is directly implied by the way the post is written. If the intention of the post was just to say, "Hey, I love all this shit on my list!" well, most of my criticism would be moot. I wouldn't have even made them. But the list of things you believe about being a guy is framed by the fact that you take great pride in "showering" in a McDonald's bathroom, and when metrosexuality is compared to this quite masculine accomplishment, it comes up lacking. In fact,the comparison "pisses you off." This provides the context for introducing what you believe about heterosexual masculinity, which we can infer to be in a degenerate state (involving, presumably the popularity of things like chest shaving, or facials) by the fact that you believe it to be "in a sad state of affairs." You imply a hierarchy, Jack, when you dress your preferences up as reason to dislike metrosexuality as a form of masculinity which "pisses you off."

3. "Come on! If you are a regular reader of this blog then you know I strive to be brutally honest, even at the cost of my own self-esteem. I encourage you to do the same here. You know what I think? I think you read this post and “hate metrosexuals” and “metrosexuals are pussies” is all you saw. It didn't matter that I never said those things. You read what you wanted to read in this post. And nothing more." I have been totally honest in presenting my opinion. Jack, the link from Facebook to your blog posting, which is how I encountered your essay, is entitled "on hating metrosexuals and being a guy." C'mon dude. Its totally just dishonest for you to suggest that you dont state that you hate metrosexuals. The context of the essay is established by that very assertion. The suggestion that metrosexuals are pussies is an inference on my part, but I believe a justified one. Its not only implied by the very premise of your essay, but you establish the contrast yourself when you suggest that being present and emotionally engaged with your partner doesn't make you a pussy. You establish here a comparison between a valuable type of masculinity, and a non-valuable variety, which one can infer falls into the same category as metrosexuality---because the list of things that you believe about being a guy is already being explicitly contrasted with metrosexuality, which, we have already established, pisses you off. (I will admit here that the quotation marks on the "metrosexuals are pussies" was unjustified, so sorry about that).

(part 1)

oldocwoods said...

(part 2)

So, look, I dont really care if you dig shaving your chest or not. I'm Gay! The whole idea of metrosexuality, as a special category of man, and the furor it seems to churn up about the fate of hetero masculinity is absolutely HILARIOUS to me. Who cares, honestly? If people are living authentic lives in the light of their own truth, who cares? I cant believe that dudes are that inflexible or insecure. But my comments are ultimately not really about metrosexuality. If they were, I wouldn't bother, really. My comments are directed towards the notion that we can live in accord with our stated aspirations. Ostensibly the premise of your blog is that one can volunteer to live a simple life, and that living a simple life allows one to cultivate certain attributes which are often covered over by material aspirations. As i have suggested, if you aspire to "Being more open to others," then walk the talk, brother, and do it. Somehow, being more open to others does not seem to jibe with hating metrosexuals, or wrapping your preferences up as judgements, even if that hatred is just some flippant way for you to frame your own preferences. Further, Jack, I'm not trying to say that your a good or bad person by holding these beliefs. Really, who's without faults? I'm certainly not---as an example: Jesus, do I love objectifying men, and I am constantly struggling against it, and I am so appreciative when people call me out on it. All I"m saying is that its hard to live in accordance with our aspirations, and I'm honestly encouraging you to continue to do so by pointing out some places where your beliefs, as stated in this essay, are confused, and stand in contradiction with some of your other stated beliefs as expressed in other parts of your Blog.

ps: I recently watched the Notebook with my Mother, my 82 year old grandfather, and his girlfriend. I probably would not have watched it on my own, and although its not a great film, by my preferences, I spent a really great afternoon with them afterwards by playing cards and discussing the notion that "love persists" and why people are moved by this. As much as I enjoyed the topic of conversation, it was nicer just spending time with these people.

Deke said...

Three years ago, I was right where you were when you burned your law degree. I was too burned out on Tech and the internet to blog about it. I left my high-paying tech job and wanted to embark on a simpler life. Along the way, things went way sideways. Now that I'm recovering from the change in course, I'm formulating a new plan. I'm starting all over from square one.

As a gay man, there are bad times when I feel like the social isolation is overwhelming. I am an outcast in the mainstream because I am gay (look at what's going on stateside with gay marriage), and I'm an outcast in the gay sub-culture for not being "gay" enough. I have been called "the redneck fag" by my own. I am too often left feeling either a nagging sort of emptiness or a pressure to compromise some dimension of my nature so I won't have to feel so lonely at times.

Jack, I just stumbled on your blog a few days ago. I've read through a lot of your posts. There is a lot I can identify with. Sometimes I laugh out loud. "Wow, that's EXACTLY what I thought!" I say. As for being gay, it's a difficult thing to get others to break through their perceptual filters and biases; imagine being exactly who you are right this moment, but your feelings for women are surgically subsituted for men. Wouldn't that be a mind trip? But that doesn't matter to anyone. To be summarily be branded "silly fag" would be grossly innacurate, but it's exactly what too many would do. In optimistic moments, I feel like my nature is an empowering hybrid of male/female perceptions and sensibilities; in dark moments, it feels as if I'm surrounded by hate and intollerance on one side, and on the other, guys who are the worst possible negative attributes of stereotypical men and stereotypical woman in one mind and body: obsessed with money, materialism (nesting), youth, physical appearance, instant gratification and sex; superficial and shallow beyond imagination. But I do believe no one is truly that two-dimensional, so I take it all with salt.

Your post made me smile, because it reminds me of a little inner struggle I deal with every day. I'd really rather be like me, and "me" agrees with Jack on this one. On the other hand, maybe Jack should just try a facial, chest waxing, mud bath and pedicure for no other reason than to experience some of what his past dates have been through to catch his eye. Just to expand his mind. It won't make him gay. I promise.

http://daretobeodd.com/blog/

Lars H. said...

One thing that I haven't seen mentioned at all in dismissal or support of your post is a tie-in with one of your earliest "Guest Blog" entries regarding body image, Simplicity, and the majority culture obsession with projecting an image that is physically appealing, no matter how shallow, just to "belong."

One of the overriding themes that runs through your blog is being genuine, accepting what is and what comes. I think that one of the main reasons you (and I, by the way) find "metrosexuality" so... ridiculous... is that it SEEMS to be a hyper-reaction to inherent feelings of the inadequacy of who one already is. It isn't that you think "I'm a better man than they are," it more a matter of thinking "why do they feel they have to do that." I personally feel the same way about SOME folks (men AND women) fascination/obsession with make-up, cologne, hair coloring, etc.

This is definitely NOT limited to the hetero/metro-sexual world either. In many cases, I think it actually may be WORSE in the gay world. There is so much emphasis on youth, and projecting an image, any image, so long as it isn't yourself. Ye gods! (And don't even get me started on objectification!)

I second what Deke said in his comment about feeling alone in both the culture-dominant and gay worlds. Pursuing a simple path in either is difficult. Pursing it in both is downright exhausting!

Not sure how much of this makes sense. It was seriously written "on-the-fly."

Lars H.

Rhiannon said...

This I believe also! To each his own.

I... refuse to shave. My legs, pits or other parts. (Unless of course I want to.) I'm not 8 anymore, deal!

Now man, go out and kill me some dinner!

oldocwoods said...

Ok, I just want to clear a few things up....and maybe make my response a bit more personable.

I'm a hippy for gods sake! In my youth, you would be lucky if you got me to shower, let alone shave. I've tried it on, mind you--waxing, facials, the whole bit. I dont dig it, but ultimately because I'm lazy, and I tend to allocate my time to other things, and less because it does anything for my sense of what it means to be a guy. However, I have gone to have pedicures with my girl friends. It was quite fun. We made a day of it. Also, I recently went with a friend of mine to have my eyebrows threaded. Man! Did it hurt. Its a good look on me, I suppose. I may do it again, if she invites me, but I'm not sure if I will keep it up. Its a lot of work. Again, maybe I'm just lazy, but ultimately, who cares?

Maybe Im just comfortable with who I am in the world. Or, maybe its because I started to come out at such a young age? (15) I dont know. I dont feel alienated from gay culture, although a lot of my friends do. My point about being gay was not that somehow gay people, gay men, in particular have an easier time of things. Please. Gay men are just as attached to gender roles as hetero men (and women for that matter). My point was to suggest that as a gay man, my masculinity is already suspect, and so I'm presented with a choice. I can either try and butch up to prove how much of a man I am, or I can simply let it alone, and try and get with people for who they take themselves to be, and learn to be happy with myself. In my experience there are lots of gay men who are quite comfortable with this, even if the dominant image of gay culture seems obsessed with waxed twinks. Even then, they are a minority, and anyways, they are simply people, who are dealing with their own shit in the same way we are. I went on a gay retreat once with an older friend of mine. I was the only stinky, furry hippy there (at the time I had long, long hair, and a FAT beard). It was fun, and they accepted me because I actually worked at accepting them for who they felt they were at that moment. I traded this awesome muscle queen some yoga time, and he gave me a great facial.

I guess my point here is that I have friends that range the gamut--both gay and straight--and they tend to be on similar paths, regardless of whether they shave, or wax, or are big ol' furballs like myself.

Also, I think there is an equally dominant trend in gay culture to butch it up, and to end up being more stereotypically masculine than the most cheesball, macho straight dudes.

All of this to say, and to conclude my part in this, that I simply cant see how one form of masculinity is more compelling than another form, particularly if what we are talking about is Voluntary Simplicity as some sort of philosophical stance. If one wants to be critical of an overall trend of commodification, or superficiality, of which metrosexuality is an instance, because its so commodified, thats one thing. Again, somehow I feel thats not the argument here. And anyways, if it is, my original dissent still holds as I cant really see how spending money and time on waxing is any more or less commodified or authentic than spending cash on beer and drink--a habit, to my mind which is a far worse social ill than shaving your chest--and particularly if the issue is self acceptance.

Lars H. said...

@oldocwoods and the rest:

Nathan: Sounds good to me! (That retreat must not have been a Radical Faerie event, eh?).

And, curious. Throughout this whole thread, I've kept thinking about that wonderful dialogue in Victor/Victoria (as closely as my memory allows-- and not directed at you, just the thread as a whole):

- "Your problem is you're preoccupied with stereotypes. I think it's simply I'm one kind of man, you're another"
- "And what kind are you?"
- "One that doesn't have to prove it. To myself, or anyone."

Would that everyone lived by that creed!

Joe said...

Deep down, it's all about getting laid. And even deeper down, getting laid (or trying to) is just another way of filling the time between birth and death.

Debbi said...

And re your list, are you seeing anyone right now? Apocalypse Now, your place or mine.

Actually, I am seeing a really great guy. I see him a lot, as we've been married for 26-plus years. :) (I actually had to stop and recall the year we got married, so I could do the math. That's how un-girly I am.)

And, unless I miss my guess (and God knows, I often do), I think I've just been hit on online. Needless to say, I'm flattered, since I'm probably old enough to be your mother.

I don't know about anyone else, but you've made my night. :) Thanks!

PS--"Apocalypse Now" rocks. The original, not the redux. What was Coppola thinking?

Anonymous said...

Do you see any discrepancy between your statements:

"I believe in shaving only when I feel like it.

I believe in making love to beautiful women."

TurkeyBurgers said...

You fucking BUMMMM! Get a unemployment check like the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

I'm with oldocwoods what about your relationship with other people? I think you don't like criticism, How Selfish Are You? You Have A BIG Ego. Why do lawyers Lie? one word: narcissism.

Ms Hen said...

Whew.. why all the attacking???

A blog is where a person post just his opinion. This is jack's blog.. and he is just stating how he view things.. does not mean you have to agree or not agree.

You can take what you like and leave the rest..

But attacking him for his opinion on his blog??

Peace ... hugs.. Love for all...there is no need to be angry.. anyone can do as they wish..

It is Jack's journey and how he is viewing things...

Never give another person advise unless they ask for your experience and opinion.

hugs to you Jack. I haven't been on for a long time..

Jack said...

@oldocwoods, (PART 5)

“In my comments, I just wanted to encourage you to see this posting as quite superficial, and in that sense in real conflict with these goals.”

I can see where you are coming from. That's a much more grounded critique, in my opinion, than much of your original comment. Where we are going to have to agree to disagree is in that I don't really see a conflict, either because 1. I am, in fact, evolving as a person and I really can't predict where my sensibilities will take me in the future (in which case what you are pointing to is merely a transitional conflict); OR 2. this reprents a core, foundational aspect of who I am as a person, a person who, in my opinion, STILL remains committed to being more open with others and wants to embrace spirituality.

“My intention here is to point towards the relative affluence of living in the U.S., where Voluntary Simplicity has moral and political relevance, when compared to places like Haiti, or Zimbabwe, for example.”

Point taken. Well put.

Jack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack said...

@oldocwoods, (PART 6)

“You imply a hierarchy, Jack, when you dress your preferences up as reason to dislike metrosexuality as a form of masculinity which "pisses you off."”

Again, maybe we are talking past each other. Expressing preferences does not imply the inviability of that which is not preferred. Here's an example: After selling most of my worldly possessions, leaving a high-paid job and heading out to explore the world in order to find true happiness, IT PISSES ME OFF whenever I see yuppies spending tons of $$ on things like high-end downtown apartments, expensive wines, etc...I TAKE GREAT PRIDE in knowing that I would never again be caught dead living that lifestyle because I personally find it LACKING and REPULSIVE. It is a SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS to know that, more and more, that “Yuppie” is, in fact, the standard and I am the outlier.

What's written above is a pretty short-hand description of the journey I've been on since the inception of this blog. It also described quite succinctly the content and tone of many of my earlier posts re Voluntary Simplicity. Now, do you really think that I believe a “yuppie” who owns a high-end apartment and loves drinking good wine is incapable of living simply? More to the point, would do you think I would find it insulting if a “yuppie” considered my own lifestyle REPULSIVE? I'll say it again, different journeys for different people.

“I have been totally honest in presenting my opinion. Jack, the link from Facebook to your blog posting, which is how I encountered your essay, is entitled "on hating metrosexuals and being a guy." C'mon dude. Its totally just dishonest for you to suggest that you dont state that you hate metrosexuals. The context of the essay is established by that very assertion...(I will admit here that the quotation marks on the "metrosexuals are pussies" was unjustified, so sorry about that).”

You are right, I did say that on Facebook, but I was referring to what is contained in this post. Nowhere do I say I hate metrosexuals and nowhere do I call them “pussies” as you indicated in your original comment. Why, then, would you say that I did? If it's all contextual, then we are going to just have to agree to disagree and I would, again, refer you to my critique above.

I do commend you for the admission and apology above. That's more than most people would do.

Jack said...

@oldocwoods, (PART 7)

“Who cares, honestly? If people are living authentic lives in the light of their own truth, who cares?”

Agree completely.

“As i have suggested, if you aspire to "Being more open to others," then walk the talk, brother, and do it. Somehow, being more open to others does not seem to jibe with hating metrosexuals, or wrapping your preferences up as judgements, even if that hatred is just some flippant way for you to frame your own preferences.”

Again, see my critique above. This post represents an authentic ME. I don't understand why hating a particular lifestyle implies that I can't be more open to others. Additionally, the suggestion that I am wrapping preferences up as judgments is a conclusionary statement that I find absolutely invalid. Again, see above.

“All I"m saying is that its hard to live in accordance with our aspirations, and I'm honestly encouraging you to continue to do so by pointing out some places where your beliefs, as stated in this essay, are confused, and stand in contradiction with some of your other stated beliefs...”

And I appreciate it, really. Some of the biggest, most significant realizations I have had over the past several years have come from people who get underneath the issue and call me out directly. If it wasn't for commenter like you this blog would die a horrible, boring, group think death. I just don't see the confusion here and I think that's we can disagree.

And re The Notebook, sorry, never had the pleasure, but can appreciate the warmth of the moment you experienced.

Jack said...

@Deke,

“I am an outcast in the mainstream because I am gay (look at what's going on stateside with gay marriage), and I'm an outcast in the gay sub-culture for not being "gay" enough. I have been called "the redneck fag" by my own. I am too often left feeling either a nagging sort of emptiness or a pressure to compromise some dimension of my nature so I won't have to feel so lonely at times.”

Deke, I think the discussion on authenticity is relevant here. I don't need to be gay to know EXACTLY, how you feel. My take: find you who you truly are inside (it certainly looks like you've made great headway here), make that plan, and follow it through, regardless of what anyone thinks. I would rather feel good inside the rest of my life than live a life marked by external BS with total and complete acceptance. Good luck.

@Lars,

It absolutely makes sense. It gets at one of my critiques of metrosexuality better than my modest post ever did: image-conscious superficiality. And, no, it is not limited to metrosexuality and while I can't speak to the gay culture side of it, I would venture to say that I find all of that, regardless of how it is packaged, annoying.

@Rhiannon,

Dead meat coming up!

Jack said...

@oldocwoods,

“My point was to suggest that as a gay man, my masculinity is already suspect, and so I'm presented with a choice. I can either try and butch up to prove how much of a man I am, or I can simply let it alone, and try and get with people for who they take themselves to be, and learn to be happy with myself.”

Again, the point on authenticity above rings true here. The latter is what I would choose myself.

“All of this to say, and to conclude my part in this, that I simply cant see how one form of masculinity is more compelling than another form, particularly if what we are talking about is Voluntary Simplicity as some sort of philosophical stance.”

Ditto.

“If one wants to be critical of an overall trend of commodification, or superficiality, of which metrosexuality is an instance, because its so commodified, thats one thing. Again, somehow I feel thats not the argument here. And anyways, if it is, my original dissent still holds as I cant really see how spending money and time on waxing is any more or less commodified or authentic than spending cash on beer and drink--a habit, to my mind which is a far worse social ill than shaving your chest--and particularly if the issue is self acceptance.”

Actually, that's just one of the things I find annoying about that lifestyle. As stated above, to each his own. My spending $ to watch 6-8 movies a week will be someone else's pinot budget for the week. Again, see above.

Jack said...

@Lars,

Amen.

@Joe,

Quite poetic if you ask me.

@Debbi,

Strike out! And yes, the second version not so good.

Jack said...

@Anonymous,
“Do you see any discrepancy between your statements:
"I believe in shaving only when I feel like it.
I believe in making love to beautiful women."”

Not sure what you are referring to. I don't care to make love to a woman if she is going to dictate how much facial hair I'm going to have.

@TurkeyBUrgers

Not sure I feel comfortable taking tax payer money when I can afford not to. Besides, didn't you hear? Already have a job.

@Anonymous,

“I'm with oldocwoods what about your relationship with other people? I think you don't like criticism, How Selfish Are You? You Have A BIG Ego. Why do lawyers Lie? one word: narcissism.”

Geesh, I'm all for criticism, but I just have no patience for unintelligent people.

1. See my response to oldocwoods above. I actually agreed with that aspect of his critique (re relationship with other people, etc...).

2. Suggesting that I don't like criticism after (a) I publish ALL rational comments critiquing this blog and (b) I publish YOUR comment suggesting that I don't like criticism is just plain stupid.

3. The rest of your comment is filled with nonsensical conclusionary one-liners. Would be happy to comment if you could tell me what you are talking about.

Jack said...

@Ms Hen,

Welcome back and thanks for the comment.

@Everyone,

Yes, I am aware I should have spelled conclusory correctly. Urgg...

Fonk said...

I just realized the irony in most of these responses, including my original response. We're all critcizing you for your comments, implying that you're being too judgemental of another lifestyle, among other accusations that have been leveled. However, by our very critiques, we're being just as judgemental. Pot, meet kettle. :)

You've probably revealed as much about everybody else here as you have yourself!

oldocwoods said...

" I don't understand why hating a particular lifestyle implies that I can't be more open to others."

Jack, consider this assertion. Our differences of opinion are summed up by understanding the logic implied here.

To me, hating a particular lifestyle implies that one cant be more open to others, because hatred of that lifestyle precludes being open to the individual's who aspire to that lifestyle. The premise, hatred of metrosexuality (which you didnt establish as synonymous with yuppies until this last spate of responses--but rather as a set of grooming practices) stands in contradiction with the conclusion, or the possibility of being open to other people. So, to my mind, all of your attempts to justify this contradiction just seem like rationalizations to me.

I'm not judging you for your preferences Jack, as I have stated. I'm judging you by the way that you leverage those preferences into implicit judgements. Furthermore, I'm suggesting you should be careful because the entailments of those judgements might actually work against your stated goals.

One interesting point: where I'm from, metrosexuality is not confined to the bourgeoisie-- what you term yuppies. Its far a more prevalent practice in the working class--particularly waxing, and things like chest and genital shaving. I find this interesting, sociologically, and to my mind speaks less to an extension of commodification, per se, than it does to class and status attainment. More generally, I think it speaks to a problem with the philosophy of Voluntary Simplicity when used as the basis for moral judgements, rather than simply ethical evaluations about one's own preferences.

With that said, I'm done. I think this would be a worthwhile exercise if we actually knew one another, but because of this format, you are mostly just an abstraction to me (sadly enough). Lately, I have been trying to spend more time working on solidifying my real, existent relationships, and less time on line with internet abstractions. Our discussion on this blog only confirms for me how disembodied this format can actually become.

Good luck working all of this out, Jack. I wish you well. One bit of advice from someone who has spent almost my entire life living in the American counterculture, and on the fringes of the middle class American dream---don't be so angry! It wont change the Yuppies (unless, of course you feel inclined to revolutionary impulses, in which case, you would need to get with a bunch of other people), and it wont help you in terms of the quality of your life. Oh, and you should experiment with co-housing! Not just having a room mate, but actually living in community. It tends to put a lot of the things we have been discussing into a more practical perspective!

dtb said...

"The Notebook" wanted to make me claw my eyes out. Google got me more misty in thirty seconds during the superbowl ad.

Jack said...

@Fonk,

Interesting analysis. But I would still say that I not being inappropriately judgemental and that most of the criticism isn't overly judgemental either. Or maybe you are the only person with an ounce of objectivity in this conversation :)

@oldocwoods,

“To me, hating a particular lifestyle implies that one cant be more open to others, because hatred of that lifestyle precludes being open to the individual's who aspire to that lifestyle...So, to my mind, all of your attempts to justify this contradiction just seem like rationalizations to me.”

Not to tear down your “implied logic” but I just couldn't disagree more. Maybe hate is too strong a word for you, but let me give you a more specific example. There are plenty of people out there that are (in my view) stupid enough to say, on a regular basis, that they “hate” republicans or democrats because they are immensely partisan. Does that automatically mean that a die hard republican is not open to having democratic friends, family members, even spouses? Why can't I hate something and still learn from and even love the person connected to it? I don't know man, I have a feeling we are talking past each other because of terminology.

“Furthermore, I'm suggesting you should be careful because the entailments of those judgements might actually work against your stated goals.”

Fair enough.

“More generally, I think it speaks to a problem with the philosophy of Voluntary Simplicity when used as the basis for moral judgements, rather than simply ethical evaluations about one's own preferences.”

Again, feel free to see past posts. I don't think we disagree much here. And for the record, I'm not necessarily making a direct connection between metrosexuality with yuppies. I used the example of “hating” yuppies above much as I just referenced partisan republicans hating democrats and vice versa. I was not making a judgement on class and VS; I was simply making a point. The issue you raise, though, is one that is real and needs to be explored further.

“Our discussion on this blog only confirms for me how disembodied this format can actually become.”

Agree and well put. And btw, feel free to email. Who knows, maybe a future friendship could untangle this virtual mess.

“don't be so angry!...Oh, and you should experiment with co-housing!”

All good suggestions.


@dtb,
I'm with you.

Amy said...

Oh, Jack.

I haven't been a regular here for a while, so I'm probably off base, but I read this post last week and I, what? What am I wanting to say? I found it discouraging. So I came back to comment.

I remember feeling so excited for you when you were beginning this journey. It seemed as if you were really on the verge of something big. But after two years (has it been that long? Maybe I'm over-estimating) it seems to me all that has changed with you is that you have less stuff and you've traveled.

I hope I'm wrong about that, but you know what? Even if I'm not wrong, and the changes you've experienced are, in the end, only external, that's okay. What I've discovered through my own trials and errors this past few years is that your journey is your journey, and though you may have some people rooting for you to do X, and others rooting for you to do Y, and a bunch of other people who really don't even give a shit and just like to watch the show, if you get quiet and really listen to your heart/your gut/your whatever you want to call it, you'll find what you're looking for (even if you really don't know what it is you're looking for).

So on one level, yeah, I'm discouraged by this post. But on another level, I totally get it, and from where I stand now, compared to where I stood the last few years, it doesn't worry me all that much.

The Traveler said...

Definitely good that you believe in never shaving your chest. Men's chests are not meant to be smooth.

Jack said...

@Amy,

“So on one level, yeah, I'm discouraged by this post. But on another level, I totally get it, and from where I stand now, compared to where I stood the last few years, it doesn't worry me all that much.”

There is so much wisdom in your last comment. Thank you.

And yes, this is me. For better or worse. And I don't need the Ys or the Xs to tell me otherwise. That's growth, at least in my book.

@The Traveler,

That's how I feel!

Miss L said...

I love metrosexual men. But maybe that's because I detest films like The Notebook? :)

/Linda

Anonymous said...

I am a straight female feminist, and I agree with everything on your list. Except substitute "beautiful women" for "handsome men."

Just sayin'.