Friday, February 27, 2009

He's just not into you so act like a lady think like a man and take 52 weeks to find him

Ok, the title is a bit much - and they were pilfered - but it goes to my point. There is an astronomical amount of material on the market (books, movies, websites, CDs) offering women instructions on how to snag a man. It is really interesting to me, particularly because similar instruction manuals for men are almost non-existent. When did men abdicate their role as hunters? Has the purported shortage of men flipped the script on the traditional roles of the sexes? Or is the proactive approach being taken by today's woman an upshot of the bra-burning 1960s?

Whatever the reason, many women are taking ownership of their romantic life and their sexual relationships. In many ways women are acting more responsibly than their mothers and grandmothers; from securing their financial independence to buying their own condoms. But are women giving up too much by usurping some of the roles traditionally held by men? Are we sacrificing the old-school precepts - like romance, chivalry and discretion?

Call me old-fashioned, but plotting to net a man on a schedule (a la is tacky and reeks of desperation. And if a woman needs to be told that a man is 'just not that into' her she needs of dose of self-esteem, not advice on catching the next man.

There are some precepts that should never be lost in the mad rush to secure one of the few good men left:
  • When a woman has a full and fulfilling life on her own and not on the constant lookout, she is happier and more attractive.
  • There is nothing wrong with taking initiative. Be places where the kind of men you are attracted to are likely to be - Barnes & Noble, industry association meetings, the organic section of the supermarket, a restaurant popular for business lunches, the local rock-climbing wall.
  • Obvious and transparent are not the same things. Leading a man home takes smarts and tact, not overt fawning and aggressive texting.
  • Let him pay for dinner, let him open the car door, let him help you with something. Yes, there are a few men who take equal rights on a date, but those are suspect. Most men want to play the traditional roles.
  • Learn at least one sport very well.
  • Sure, you can call him the morning after a date. It is quite respectable to call to say 'thank you' if you had a good time and to say you would like to do it again. Just not every hour on the hour to ask him what he's doing.
  • You are not required to answer every call, return missed calls within five minutes, or reply to every text or email. Unavailability and mystery are intriguing.
  • Save some things for later. Whether you want to implement the 90-day rule or a 120-day rule, just have a rule. Value yourself enough to demand someone meet a minimum mark before you give them everything.
  • Have standards and do not bend on them.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Noise without works is just noise

The Wednesday, February 18 New York Post editorial cartoon horrified me. The cartoon depicted a chimpanzee being shot dead by two police men, one saying "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill." It was shocking in its blind political bias and its blatant racism.

The reaction from Al Sharpton and the rest of the race police was predictable. Callers flooded urban radio drive-time programs to express their disapproval and utter disgust with the paper's editor Col Allen and cartoonist Sean Delanos. Discussions railed on social networking sites and news media internet sites. The staff in my dentist's office debated on and on the merits of the arguments supporting the cartoonist and those who found it offensive.

What is still to be seen, as public outcry wanes in the face of a half-ass apology from the paper, is
what all the talkers will be willing to do to make their point. When radio hosts publicize phone numbers and email addresses in calls to action, a handful of the audience will call or email; even fewer will take the initiative to write or call without being stirred by their favorite on air personality. Yet fewer will go beyond that phone call or letter, will take the time and endure the inconveniences of taking real action. How many will participate in a protest march or boycott a favorite product to make a point?

Talk is easy and it is very true that it is cheap; which is why it carries less weight than action. Anything worth having, any positive change worth making is certainly worth substantive sacrifice from stakeholders.

For this cartoon and for the next exposed nipple or racist comment, those who claim to be outraged must back up the chatter with a willingness to take action and to make sacrifices. Only then will change come. Put up or shut up.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Just get some help

The first penis I ever saw was hanging long and dirty between the legs of a 'mad' man walking nonchalantly along a street in Kingston. It was startling for me as a child and, now that I think about it, may have caused me to have rather unrealistic expectations. Disheveled men and women with dirt-caked skin and thickly matted hair were, and unfortunately continue to be, the picture of mental disease and emotional disorders in Jamaica.

Children who had trouble sitting still or learning were energetic, or worse, 'just bad.' They did not have ADHD or ADD. People were moody, not bi-polar. Troubled couples argued and fought until one's spirit was broken into submission or they tired of each other and went their separate ways. They did not seek out the services of a therapist. New mothers were tired and 'miserable,' not suffering from post partum depression.

According to a April 28 Jamaica Gleaner article by Latoya Grindley, suicide numbers in Jamaica have been steadily rising, but people were generally unable to recognize even glaring signs of depression. Jamaica's Ministry of Health's National Policy for The Promotion of Healthy Lifestyle has strategies to address chronic diseases, reproductive health and violence, but nothing on mental health. According to a 2001 report from the World Health Organization, mental health treatment is provided in large part by primary care doctors and nurses. For every group of 10,000 in Jamaica, there are only five psychiatric beds, less than one psychiatrist per 10,000 people, even fewer psychologists, and only eight psychiatric nurses. There is little public education to counteract the stigma associated with mental conditions and statistics are unreliable.

It is no wonder then that so many Jamaicans lose time and happiness suffering from emotional and mental problems that could be resolved with some couch time and/or medication. Insecurities, low self-esteem, depression, daddy issues, fear of abandonment that come as a result of sexual abuse, absent or abusive parents, or by a chemical imbalance in the brain are ignored, overlooked or accepted as character flaws.

There is no telling how many of Jamaica's children are written off as dunce when they are actually dyslexic or have Attention Deficit Disorder. How many young women's promiscuity is symptomatic of sexual abuse? How many people who suffered through teasing or isolation as children have become self-conscious and insecure adults? How many couples are wondering why their love does not seem to be enough to sustain their relationship? How many people are being hard on themselves because they cannot seem to snap out of their depression?

Guarding our mental health should be no different from protecting our teeth. There is no shame in getting a cavity, only if you allow your whole mouth to go rotten. There is no shame in being depressed, or just needing to talk with someone trained to guide you to solutions. A little couch time never hurt anybody.