I assume that my “condition” is perfectly normal, because many friends I’ve consulted have admitted that they, too, might have graphic daydreams about a woman they saw for five seconds at a traffic light. And indeed, the academic research on the subject corroborates my informal polling. But I couldn’t get over the cognitive dissonance of the whole situation. How could enlightened, feminist guys like myself put up with these unbidden fantasies that violate our dedication to gender equity and basic human decency? There must be like-minded men who have overcome these impulses. I decided that I would seek out their stories, and use them to help me cleanse my filthy mind.
Since then, the Mormon church has taken some steps in the right direction when it comes to their stance on homosexuality. Is it enough? No. Is it even in the ballpark? Not at all. But at least they are recognizing the fact that this is not an annoying little problem that people can just pray themselves out of, and that homosexuals deserve the love and respect that is due “any of God’s children.”
But the other part of the story is this backlash in America that we’ve seen since Barack Obama won the White House. It’s not just that Obama is African-American — he’s half white. He embodies the browning of America. It’s not only a change in the racial composition of the country that rubs some the wrong way, but also change in terms of jobs, housing, gay rights, immigration, social norms, the role of religion and battles over women’s and minority rights that have provoked a backlash mostly from a sliver of white men. Folks are more likely to show their true colors and it’s not pretty.
No one doubts that there are significant economic forces pushing parents to invest so heavily in their children's outcome from an early age. But taking all the discomfort, disappointment and even the play out of development, especially while increasing pressure for success, turns out to be misguided by just about 180 degrees. With few challenges all their own, kids are unable to forge their creative adaptations to the normal vicissitudes of life. That not only makes them risk-averse, it makes them psychologically fragile, riddled with anxiety. In the process they're robbed of identity, meaning and a sense of accomplishment, to say nothing of a shot at real happiness. Forget, too, about perseverance, not simply a moral virtue but a necessary life skill. These turn out to be the spreading psychic fault lines of 21st-century youth. Whether we want to or not, we're on our way to creating a nation of wimps.
It is not inconsistent to want to be seen and not be stared at. You know the difference, I suspect, between an “appreciative look” (which can feel very validating) and the “penetrating stare” that leaves you feeling like crawling into a hole. While people are not required to give you the former, it’s not unreasonable to expect them to avoid giving you the latter. It’s also not unreasonable to want guys your age to be interested in you, and want the creepy old ones to leave you alone. Remember, it’s not hypocrisy or naiveté on your part to dress in a way that you hope will get you that positive attention you want without also bringing the negative attention you fear and loathe.
So, this is just a stupid commercial about Cheerios but it means a lot to me. It shows interracial families and their children being normal and cute, not something to gawk at or to question. Hopefully this commercial will lead to even more positive representations of not just interracial families, but all kinds of non-traditional families. To Cheerios, I give you one internet high-five, for doing your part to normalize families like mine and people like me. Increased visibility of our differences leads to things like “acceptance” and “disrupting the status quo” and also “not arresting biracial people’s dads for kidnapping.” Bravo. Now excuse me while I go dump a box of cereal on my dad.
KELLY: In this country in the ’50s and ’60s there were huge numbers of people that believed that the children of interracial marriages were biologically inferior and that is why it was illegal for blacks and whites to marry in some states in the country up until 1967. And they said it was science and fact if you were the child of a black father and white mother or vice versa you were inferior and not set up for success. Tell that to Barack Obama.