What men would do if it weren’t so feminine or socially unacceptable

Wednesday, 18 January, 2017

We needed to have this discussion, or at least the male members of Reddit, did.

The question, what would men do, or do more of, if gender norms didn’t exist? Quite a bit, it seems, if they didn’t fear ridicule or persecution. Here’s a selection of some of the answers:

  • Wear yoga pants
  • Try quilting, knitting, and sewing
  • Wear purfume, and makeup
  • Say that cute things are cute
  • Wear more jewellery
  • Pole dance
  • Wear skirts and dresses
  • Smile at and interact with children
  • Express emotion and weakness more openly

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Grey Bull, a short film about the struggles of newly settled refugees

Thursday, 25 August, 2016

For refugees seeking safe haven in another country, and a chance to start over with their lives, finding a new home is sometimes only the beginning of the process. Coming to grips with a new environment, and culture, presents all manner of difficulties and challenges.

Some of these struggles are brought to the fore in Grey Bull, a short film by Eddy Bell, about Martin, a refugee from South Sudan, as he adjusts to life in a small town in South Australia.

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Lone-person households… an essential part of the fabric of society

Tuesday, 8 March, 2016

So called lone-person households seem to have bad rap, their increasing numbers are seen as some sort of social blight in certain quarters, but many members thereof turn out to be more integrated with their local communities than some family households:

Research by social scientists paints a very different picture. Most singles, studies show, are more like Dan Scheffey than their miserable or narcissistic caricatures. They host salons, take classes, go to rallies, organize unions, care for aging friends and relatives, help raise kids, and cultivate large, diverse social networks – often with more zeal and commitment than the married demographic they’re displacing.

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Of the world’s social creatures, why do humans dominate?

Wednesday, 1 July, 2015

Humans may not be the only social creatures on the planet, but it is our ability to cooperate flexibly in large numbers that gives us the edge, or dominance, over other lifeforms, including the likes of ants and bees who also organise themselves to varying degrees.

The real difference between us and other animals is on the collective level. Humans control the world because we are the only animal that can cooperate flexibly in large numbers. Ants and bees can also work together in large numbers, but they do so in a very rigid way. If a beehive is facing a new threat or a new opportunity, the bees cannot reinvent their social system overnight in order to cope better. They cannot, for example, execute the queen and establish a republic. Wolves and chimpanzees cooperate far more flexibly than ants, but they can do so only with small numbers of intimately known individuals. Among wolves and chimps, cooperation is based on personal acquaintance. If I am a chimp and I want to cooperate with you, I must know you personally: What kind of chimp are you? Are you a nice chimp? Are you an evil chimp? How can I cooperate with you if I don’t know you?

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If someone is “opinionated” is it ok for them to be tactless?

Tuesday, 30 June, 2015

Do you feel you’re encountering more people who lack in tact, or a respect for the often unique situations that others might find themselves in?

Let’s talk about tact: a noble virtue, a lost virtue, a very necessary virtue. Long gone, it seems, are the days when tact was common, or in which people behaved with thoughtfulness, discretion, and sensitivity. Long gone is the era wherein people generally minded their own goddamn business.

I sometimes find people who are tactless attempt to warn others of this by stating they are “opinionated”. They speak their mind, fair enough. Try giving an opinionated person a taste of their own medicine though. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right?

Don’t be so sure.

On the other hand, there are one or two people who struggle, or are, for whatever reasons reluctant, to express themselves in a direct fashion. Theirs is a world of silence and involuntary agreement. There has to be a happy balance between the two, right?

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Sometimes the best way to fit in is to not at first fit in

Thursday, 28 May, 2015

Talk about turning a weakness into a strength… being an outsider, an outcast, one who has been ostracised from a social group for whatever reason, has certain advantages, namely the ability to manipulate, or wield a significant degree of influence over the emotions of others:

Throughout human history, note Northwestern University psychologists Elaine Cheung and Wendi Gardner, ostracization has been personally painful, and sometimes life-threatening. Finding a way back into the safety of one’s tribe (or, perhaps, a way to attach yourself to a different social unit) is imperative. Their research, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, suggests this desperate need somehow activates our latent ability to display a key component of emotional intelligence. In short, it enhances our ability to make people like us.

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Together we’ll break the stigma of doing things alone

Monday, 25 May, 2015

Back in the day when I used to write far more film reviews than I do now, I’d often be going along to the movies by myself. Often these would be morning, mid week screenings, and numerous times I’d just about be the only person in the auditorium, but I’d still make sure my notepad and pen were prominently visible.

After a time though, I became less concerned by the apparent stigma of being alone at the movies, even it were for work purposes. Even so, it’s still unlikely that you’d see me at the movies on Friday or Saturday nights, alone. Any other day, any other time, no problem.

But that’s where I might be letting the team down. You see, if more people did more things by themselves, such as going to a film solo, the easier it becomes for everyone else to do likewise. Put another way, it’s better to go and do something, even if that means doing so alone, rather than staying home potentially doing nothing.

But the best way to get rid of the stigma of doing things in public alone is probably for people to just start doing it more. “We need the norms to shift a little. We need for people to think it’s a gutsy cool thing to have fun on our own,” said Ratner. “Someone needs to start the new trend.”

And regarding film screenings in empty auditoriums, and why bother showing them if no one’s there, the cinemas are obliged to feature a movie as advertised, regardless of how many people are, or aren’t, seeing it. I have it on good authority that film distributors actually go around at random to make sure that’s happening.

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Are teenagers today really behaving more like… adults?

Thursday, 24 July, 2014

Far from seemingly spiralling ever further out of control, teenagers would appear to be becoming ever more adult like – though I’m not really sure that is the appropriate term to use – if trends of recent years are anything to go by:

Perhaps most remarkably, Britain’s notoriously surly youths are getting more polite: according to one government survey, those born in the early 1990s are less rude and noisy in public places than previous cohorts were at the same age. “People are still being young, but they’re recognising there are boundaries,” says one youth worker in Hackney, a borough of London long known for its high crime rate.

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If baristas could talk, behold the stories they could tell

Friday, 5 July, 2013

When I’m able to sufficiently organise myself, I like to, now and again, go along to a cafe first thing in the morning. Not only am I able set up for the work day ahead, and bring myself up to speed with the latest news, there’s of course the opportunity to down a couple of coffees while also taking in a little people watching.

But sitting there behind my laptop, likely from the quietest corner I can find, I’m only ever seeing the pictures but not the sounds, as it were. That’s not the case for the baristas though, who in some cases, are almost fully versed in the happenings of their customers’ lives.

“Sometimes being a barista is like being an underpaid therapist,” says Roth. “I find what people will tell you just because you’re behind the counter to be strange. I know how many kids people have, what their grades are, where they go to school, I know about people getting divorced and people going on dates. People will pretty much tell you anything – especially if you ask.”

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Taking positives from the marriages that we’re opposed to

Thursday, 6 June, 2013

Time to put aside the often fervid opposition to, and protests against, same sex, or gay, marriages and discover how those in heterosexual unions could learn from them:

Although marriage is in many ways fairer and more pleasurable for both men and women than it once was, it hasn’t entirely thrown off old notions and habits. As a result, many men and women enter into it burdened with assumptions and stereotypes that create stress and resentment. Others, confronted with these increasingly anachronistic expectations – expectations at odds with the economic and practical realities of their own lives don’t enter into it at all.

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