Tag Archives: Women’s March

Celebrating Women: An Ode To Leslie Knope

It’s been a long, busy week and not just because people can’t shut up about the Super Bowl. I’ve spend an unhealthy chunk of time talking about things like abortion and anti-sex crusaders who would put erotica/romance writers like me out of business. These are not rosy topics, I know. I also know that I don’t want this blog to get overly serious on overly political bullshit. I want this blog to be fun, sexy, and enjoyable.

In that spirit, I’d like to cap off this week with something that I think fits in nicely with all my recent discussions of women’s issues. Make no mistake. These are extremely sensitive issues. They’re not going away anytime soon. The next four years is sure to bring more protests, more controversies, and maybe even some more pussy grabbing. For women, it’s going to be tough.

It’s during times like this that it helps to turn to the women who truly inspire us. I come from a family of many strong women. I’m pretty sure all of them could kick my ass, even on a bad day, if I gave them a reason. I’ve always been surrounded by tough women, many of which could easily lead their own march and not let politically correct bullshit get in the way.

Beyond the kick-ass women of my family, there is one woman from the fictional world that inspires me in very special ways that don’t entirely involve my penis. She’s a woman who is strong, likable, competent, sexy, and sex-positive. She’s a character with flaws, but one who finds ways to overcome them in ways that both men and women can respect.

Her name is Leslie Knope, the alpha woman of one of my favorite shows, “Parks and Recreation.” While a part of me is still saddened that this show has been over for nearly two years now, Leslie Knope still has a special place in my heart.

She embodies so much of what a strong, ambitious woman can be. On top of that, she can do it without busting any man’s balls, at least not more than they deserve. She, along with ultra alpha male Ron Swanson, were the heart and soul of the show. They were both testaments to their gender, finding novel ways to get along, despite their differences.

That, in many ways, is the greatest legacy of “Parks and Recreation.” It showed us how great strong men and strong women could be. For that, I thank Leslie Knope for inspiring me and so many others, even those who aren’t aspiring erotica/romance writers. In honor of this legacy, here is a video I found that offers a fitting tribute to everything that makes Leslie Knope so awesome.

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Appealing To The Masses: The Simpson Filter

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I was going to make this part of my last post where I gave some tips and advice to the people behind the Women’s March. I am serious about being on their side on most major issues. I want them to succeed in protesting the current regime in Washington DC. I think it’s good for freedom and democracy when there’s a healthy opposition to established power structures.

At the moment, though, I don’t think their message is getting through. I also think their approach needs refinement. The tips I offered in my last post were fairly basic. This tip requires a bit more explanation because it applies a mix of caveman logic, sales techniques, and good old fashioned cunning. It’s basically the same technique people use to sell time shares and get laid. If it works for that, then it works for politics as well.

I’ve even given this bit of advice a name, one that I hope is easy to remember. I call it “The Simpson Filter.” It’s not quite as original as “Caveman Logic” and not just because it deals with something that is heavily trademarked and protected by an army of Fox’s lawyers. I promise there is a legitimate reason behind this label and I hope to make that reason abundantly clear by the end of this post.

So what exactly is the Simpson Filter? Well first off, in order to understand it, you need to know who the Simpsons are. If you’ve been near a TV it all in the past 30 years, that should be the easy part.

Most everybody on each side of the political spectrum knows who the Simpsons are. For the purposes of this tip, I’m going to focus on what they represent. By and large, the Simpsons are not the Waltons. They’re not happy, wholesome, and functional. They’re not the Bundy’s either. There is a sense love, sincerity, and family. On the spectrum of cartoon families, the Simpsons are somewhere in the middle.

Why is this important? Well, despite being fictional and full of exaggerated dysfunction, the Simpsons perfectly embody the sentiment of the average American. In fact, the show itself even acknowledged this in Season 2, Episode 16, “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” where Homer’s brother, Herb, wants him to design a car for the average American.

Yes, Homer Simpson fails miserably in that effort, but that only further highlights what makes him the perfect archetype for the average guy. He’s not an expert in a given field. He’s not smart enough to understand the complexities of big issues, be they social, political, or economic. Unless it involves beer and donuts, it’s not going to be a priority for Homer Simpson.

The same applies to Marge Simpson, the more thoughtful and less obnoxious part of the family. Marge also embodies an important component of the average American in that she’s focused primarily on keeping her family intact and semi-functional.

Given the various antics of her family, this is a herculean task, even on a good day. Her uncanny ability to manage her family often shows when she’s not around. This is best shown in Season 3, Episode 14, “Homer Alone,” in which Marge decides to go on a vacation and her family struggles mightily in her absence.

In that sense, Marge embodies the side of American society who struggle daily to keep their family intact and functioning for another day. It’s not that big issues involving the economy, politics, or social issues don’t interest her. It’s that she doesn’t have the time or resources to prioritize them. She can only focus on her more immediate concerns, namely preventing Homer from freaking out about the boogeyman.

Given this context, we can create the particulars of the “Simpson Filter.” If we’re going to use this fictional, animated, overtly dysfunctional family as a model, then any message we craft has to resonate with them. If it’s too much for Homer and Marge Simpson to handle, then it’s too much for most Americans.

For the Women’s March, this is vital. They don’t need to appeal to affluent, college-educated people living in cities and earning more than the median wage. They need to appeal to the vast swaths of less-affluent, less-educated people that occupy the non-urban parts of the country. In short, they need to cater their message to many Springfields of this Country and the Simpson families who live in them.

To appeal to them, it’s not enough to just shout anger and outrage at major protests. It’s not enough to hold large public lectures to inform these people either. Homer Simpson doesn’t do lectures and Marge is too worried about her family to even show up at one.

For any message to work on Homer or Marge Simpson, it can’t just have hard facts about the harsh realities of the world. It’s not enough to list, detail by detail, why the principles and policies they favor are worth supporting.

Homer Simpson doesn’t care for details. Marge can only care so much, given her many other concerns. So for every message about every issue, the contents need to go through a filter to make sure they’ll resonate. That filter includes the following provisions:

  • Get the attention of the Homer and Marge Simpsons of the world, but do it in a way that doesn’t shame or denigrate them for not supporting the message in the first place

  • Don’t assume that the Homer and Marge Simpsons of the world are racist, ignorant, or misogynistic and presume, by default, that they are decent people who just want to get by

  • Keep the message incredibly simple in that if it can’t fit into a commercial between a football game, then Homer and Marge aren’t going to care enough about it

  • Craft the message in a way that appeals to the feelings of Homer and Marge as appealing to emotions is the primary method of generating interest

  • Keep the facts secondary, but never let them be tertiary because in the long run, substance will help strengthen the emotions

  • Make sure the simple, emotional message inspires hope because Homer and Marge are more likely to support something that makes them feel hopeful

  • Link the more complex issues in your message with the simpler issues that affect Homer and Marge directly, ensuring they can associate these issues with their own lives

  • Avoid using language and rhetoric that Homer and Marge don’t understand or makes them feel alienated from those you want them to support

  • The message shouldn’t require that Homer and Marge change who they are, but it should make them want to be better

There are probably many more components to this filter that I haven’t articulated yet. Like Caveman Logic, I hope to refine it in future posts. In following the events of the Women’s March and the issues that will likely be more prominent over the next four years, the Simpson Filter will be a good way of revealing how successful or how flawed a message is.

At the end of the day, how right or valid your message is can only ever be secondary. If it fails to resonate or convince anyone, then it has as much impact as a history lecture by Ben Stein.

It’s an unfortunate, but unavoidable aspect of the human species. It’s not enough to be right or moral. You still have to communicate that message in a way that gets flawed, uninformed, and sometimes misguided humans on your side. If you can’t get Homer and Marge Simpson on your side, then your message has no chance.

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My Advice To The Women’s March

As a general rule, I try to avoid giving advice on things I know I’m not qualified to explain. You want advice on writing erotica/romance? Sure, I’ll help, even though I’ve yet to achieve much success in that endeavor. You want advice on comics and superheroes? Hell, I’m your guy. I should be the first person you call.

In terms of complex sociopolitical issues, though, I’m as qualified to explain those topics as I am to perform brain surgery while blindfolded. I am not an expert. I’m not even in the same hemisphere as an expert. Then again, it’s not like experts have a perfect track record of explaining these issues either so it’s not like their voices are somehow more pure. At the end of the day, their farts stink as much as mine.

I establish this context because I’m going to make an exception to that general rule I mentioned earlier. I’m going to offer some advice to a group that I think needs all the help they can get. Specifically, I’m talking about the fine citizens of the United States who organized the Women’s March.

I’ve already given my reaction to this mark. I hope I made clear that I mostly agree with their policy positions at every level. They stand for principles that I don’t believe the current regime in Washington is going to protect. I support them in their efforts, even if I think their approach is lacking in substance. That’s exactly why I’d like to lend whatever help an aspiring erotica/romance writer can offer, however limited that might be.

What follows is a list of simple tips that I hope will help the people behind the Women’s March. What they seek is admirable and respectable. However, I worry that they will undermine their message by using a flawed, misguided approach in pursuing their goals. I hope with these tips, they’ll be better able to achieve those goals.


Tip #1: Acknowledge The Breadth Of The Audience You Seek To Influence

You see that map above? That’s a picture of how every county in the United States voted in the 2016 election. Notice anything unique about it, other than how it looks like a jigsaw puzzle designed by a brain-damaged orangutan? There’s a lot of red and only a few spots of blue. Why is that?

Well, the blue parts are the ones containing America’s largest cities. The red are largely rural, low-density areas full of small towns, tight-nit communities, and exceedingly few vegan restaurants. These areas make up a good chunk of the land, but less than half the population. That’s because the cities, which contain the urban crowds, draw in more people with more diverse economic opportunities.

Why does this matter? That’s because it’s these rural, under-developed areas are the ones who gravitate towards the conservative side of the political spectrum. They do this because their way of life is dying. It’s dying and the conservative crowd knows how to appeal to them, selling them false hope while the other side basically ignores them.

The Women’s March deals with issues that affect everybody, but they basically overlook this part of the country entirely. These are people whose lives are devoid of hope and issues like LGBT rights, speech codes on college campuses, and soda taxes aren’t going to affect their lives.

These are people who the Women’s March largely ignores, but they still vote. They still have hopes, dreams, and aspirations. Without acknowledging them or reaching out to them, they’re basically ignoring a huge part of the Country that desperately needs hlep and hope.


Tip #2: Abandon Political Correctness, Kill It, And Bury It In The Deepest Hole

I cannot stress this enough. It needs to be belabored, reinforced, and beaten down with a two-ton anvil. In order for the Women’s March to make their message resonate on the widest scale possible, those involved must abandon, kill, and disavow political correctness in all its forms.

I cannot be polite or funny about this. Jerry Seinfeld has tried, but even he can’t find the humor in it. That should tell you everything you need to know. If someone like Jerry Seinfeld can’t find humor in it, then nobody can.

By political correctness, I mean everything from speech codes to gender identity politics to people protesting the name of a football team. A big reason why the current regime is in power is because the vast majority of the population has heard the rhetoric of the politically correct and they hate it with a vitriol that rivals every Mortal Kombat character ever made.

If you really want to appeal to more people, you need to ditch the excessive PC bullshit that has alienated an entire generations from an entire end of the political spectrum. Either abandon it or watch as the new regime coaxes its way through election after election.


Tip #3: Focus on Justice For Everybody And Not Just For A Select Few

This seems obvious and most in the Women’s March probably agree with this sentiment. However, the problem with their style is that they focus too much on justice for one particular group. They focus on LGBT, women, minorities, and refugees. That’s all well and good. These people need justice too. However, don’t focus so much on them that you forget about everybody else.

Believe it or not, injustice knows no political party. It knows no political ideology. An LGBT person is vulnerable to injustice. A straight white man living in rural Alabama is vulnerable to it as well. If you want both of those individuals on your side, keeping mind that both vote, don’t focus on a few specific trees while ignoring the forest.

By focusing too much on one group or another, you get cases like the Duke Lacrosse case and the UVA false rape case. It also means that groups like radical feminists skew the message, throwing around toxic terms like “patriarchy” and “rape culture.” These terms poison the well and alienate others, all in addition to being mostly bunk.

It may be tempting to focus exclusively on minorities who are vulnerable, and they are, but alienating others in the process helps no one in the long run.


Tip #4: Be Serious (And Ditch The Goofy Hats And Costumes)

This directly address those who wear the goofy vagina costumes to these rallies. Look, I love vaginas as much as the next straight guy. I admire the beauty of vaginas all the time as an erotica/romance writer. However, when you make these costumes and use them in protests, you’re not sending a message of justice and inclusion. You just look like you came back from a Halloween party at the Playboy Mansion.

There’s a time and a place for comedy in politics. Those times should be few and targeted. It also helps to leave them up to the professionals, such as John Oliver and Trevor Noah. These are people who know how to inject humor into an issue for the right reasons. They are also funnier than 99 percent of the population.

Let them handle the humor. For everyone else, leave the goofy costumes at home. When you wear that stuff, people who don’t agree with you aren’t going to be swayed. They’re just going to roll their eyes and think it’s a joke. If you want to reach these people, this is not how you want to get their attention.

The same goes for those goofy pink hats. Those hats aren’t cute or convincing in any way. They just look goofy. If you really want to appeal to everyone, you need to come off as real, honest people. Believe it or not, people respond to others who they can relate to. What a concept, right?


Tip #5: Appeal To Feelings While Avoiding Insults

This may sound dishonest to some because shady car salesmen use the same tactics. They’ll come up to you and make you feel like the most important person in the world while trying to sell you shit on four wheels. It may be dishonest, but it works. There’s a reason why used car salesmen still exist.

If you learn nothing else from last year’s election, then at least learn this. Facts do matter, but they’ll always be secondary to feelings. When it comes to perception versus reality, perception wins 99 times out of 100. I’ve already written about this. I don’t want to belabor it, but I think it needs to be belabored.

This goes back to caveman logic. The human brain is not wired for truth and understanding. It’s wired for survival and reproduction. It doesn’t come to decisions based on facts. First, it has us react to the proverbial lion in the bushes. Then, our brains come up with a reason to justify our reaction. From a scientific perspective, it’s ass backwards. It’s also the only way you can relate to people.

If you can make someone feel like they matter to you, then they’re more likely to help you. That needs to be the first step. For the Women’s March to reach others who don’t already agree with them, they need to tap into those feelings that led them to vote for the other side in the last election. Those feelings are key. If you want to convince them of anything, you must first confront those feelings first.


Tip #6: Focus On Hope Over Outrage

This should be fairly obvious, but it’s one of those issues I think the Women’s March glossed over at times. Hope is a powerful message. Hope is what got Barack Obama elected twice. Hope is the ultimate motivator and rallying cry. That’s what got people off their asses and to the polls during the last election. Naturally, they chose the candidate that gave them the most hope.

Right now, the Women’s March is focused less on hope and more on outrage. That’s completely understandable. There’s plenty to be outraged about and I’m not just talking about grabbing women by the pussy. However, outrage is only slightly more meaningful than whining. It’s too easy for one to turn into the other.

The time for lamenting over losses is over. The election is over. The new regime is in. They’re already at an advantage because they’re going to find out that delivering hope is much harder than actually promising hope. This is where the Women’s March has the advantage. Instead of focusing on the failures of the past, they need to focus on the hope for the future.

What does that future mean? What can they offer that the current regime cannot or will not offer? Give people something to look forward to. Give them something to aspire to. It works for Superman. It works just as well for what the Women’s March seeks to accomplish.


Tip #7: Pick The Right Battles And Choose The Right Allies

This isn’t as important as hope or abandoning political correctness, but make no mistake. A movement will be judged on the allies it chooses. In the last election, the losing party chose poorly. How do I know this? Off the top of your head, who was the most reputable ally they chose?

Can’t think of anyone? I rest my case. You see, in addition to being big on feelings, the human brain is also big on association. If you associate yourself with something good, then that’s going to affect how others perceive you. If you don’t, then you leave yourself vulnerable to wild accusations that some people in the FBI can exploit.

If you want allies, make sure you pick the ones who will also fight your battles. You want someone who will fight for minority rights, religious rights, and the rights of women? Well, those organizations do exist. They’re easy to ally with and they accept donations. They include the likes of the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, and Habitat For Humanity.

Once you have allies like this, then you’re better able to pick the right battles. It’s a losing endeavor trying to shame, scorn, and scold others into accepting your views. By showing support through legitimate legal avenues, it shows you’re serious and people do react when they sense someone is putting in the effort.


Tip #8: Inspire Rather Than Demean

This is more a general rule than advice. Inspiration is every bit as powerful as hope. In the last election, one side inspired an entire population who had grown resentful of uptight, politically correct intellectuals who demeaned and denigrated them for the crime of not being a marginalized group. When you demean entire groups like that, you lose allies and send them running to your enemies.

Those people, however, can be swayed back. Doing so means changing the approach. It means changing the perception, style, and substance behind that approach. The people behind the Women’s March must show the college-educated urban elite and the poor white rural people that they matter. They think they’re good, decent human beings and they want to build a future with them.

All too often, a movement devolves into a classic “us against them” mantra. That may win elections in the short term, but it drives people apart in the long run. The people behind the Women’s March need to think about the long term. They need to think beyond the next election.

There are entire generations who believe that the people behind the Women’s March are only fighting for a few select minorities. They need to show that they will fight for everyone. It’s only when you can appeal to everyone that you can overcome everything. Remember that and you need not fear the outcome of any election.

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My Thoughts On The Women’s March

As a general rule, I try not react too quickly or too callously to major political events. My years of experiencing in arguing about Wolverine’s love life on comic book message boards have taught me that some subjects just can’t be discussed rationally. Add politics into the mix and you might as well swim naked in a pond full of hungry snakes.

However, I realize that some events are too big to just ignore. Make no mistake. I’m aware of all the upheaval, outrage, and shit storms that have erupted since the apocalypse that was Election Day transpired last year. I’ve chosen to minimize my discussions of it on this blog. I want this blog to make people horny, not hopeless.

That said, I also understand that there’s a difference between avoiding a subject and purposefully sticking your own head up your ass so that the most you’ll ever hear about a topic has to compete with the echoes of your own farts. I don’t want my head in such a dark place.

This brings me to the big event that transpired on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC, a city that’s less than a two-hour drive from my house. It was called the Women’s March on Washington. On the heels of Inauguration Day, it flooded the streets of DC with thousands of men, women, and children protesting the new regime in Washington. Given the kind of people who support this regime, they definitely had plenty to protest.

It was a powerful display, unlike anything we’ve seen that didn’t involve a Super Bowl parade. It’s certainly the largest, most organized protest I’ve seen in the past couple decades. This isn’t some fringe protest of hippies claiming there are shape-shifting lizard people running banks and covering up the truth about UFOs. These are people who are genuinely afraid that their lives are going to be at risk because of this new regime.

I can understand that fear. I certainly sympathize with it. There are people in my immediate family who discussed joining this protest. I certainly support their effort to do so. I think this is worth protesting, much more so than pet issues marijuana or fur coats. Our society works best when we only seek to screw each other in ways we enjoy.

I say all this as a preface of sorts because my overall reaction to it probably won’t win me any awards from hippies, vegans, priests, mullahs, or anyone who voted for Rick Santorum. In my youth, I usually came down fairly hard on one particular side of the political spectrum. Then again, in my youth I thought UFO insurance was a good investment. That should reveal the extent of my political expertise.

With all that in mind, I thought I’d take a moment to just write about my reaction to this protest. It is a big deal. It is something that’s worth paying attention to. Even if I’m just a struggling erotica/romance writer, this is something that can and will affect me, both directly and indirectly. It already has in some respects. So how, in the grand scheme of things, am I supposed to react.

Well, my reaction can best be summed up in one way and I think my friend, Spongebob, says it best.

Please put the pitchforks down and stop for a moment before you start busting my balls. Give me a chance to explain myself because I’m trying to be both honest and helpful here, two concepts that might as well be alien to political discourse these days.

A part of me really was moved by these protests. I even support pretty much all their stated mission, as well as their stated principles. In terms of their values and policies, we are both on the same page. We’re on the same team. That’s beyond dispute. It’s the methods that leave me feeling somewhat underwhelmed.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a house where whining was about as productive as licking a toilet seat to clean it. Whatever the reason, I just look at these protests and see too much style and not enough substance. Seeing people wearing vagina costumes didn’t help.

Don’t get me wrong. I think those costumes are funny and topical. If someone wore those to a Halloween party, they’d definitely liven things up. In a serious protest though, it just makes me roll my eyes. It gives the impression that the issues at hand aren’t as serious as they should be.

As I’ve already said, these are serious issues. They’re issues worth fighting for and they’re worth protesting. However, there’s a right way to protest something and then there’s a shocking way to protest. More often than not, those methods are mutually exclusive.

If the goal of the Women’s March was to get attention, then they definitely succeeded. In terms of provoking change, that’s a good first step. Remember the technique pitched by this guy, albeit in the most vulgar way possible?

The first step of that process is to get attention. Some argue that’s the most important step and the Women’s March did just that. It’s the other three steps, namely interest, decision, and action where they come up short.

You see, my experience on comic book message boards has wired my brain to process a situation in a backwards sort of way. By that, I mean that when I see a situation like this, the first thing I do is ask, “Okay, how is the other side going to twist this in their favor?”

When you deal with a lot of dogmatic comic book fans, that’s an important question to consider because 99 times out of 100, that’s how discussions go. Someone makes a point and those who don’t agree with it will twist it in a way that makes them feel smart, superior, or whatever other emotion Lex Luthor feels when he wakes up every morning.

What manifests in message boards often manifests in political discourse as well. Some see the Women’s March and they see a huge group of concerned citizens, making their voices heard on issues that matter to them. Others, namely those who are inclined to lump protesters with hippies, see this protest as one giant act of whining. Neither side can be right, but both sides can be wrong.

This is why I can’t help but feel indifferent to these protests. They seek attention. They seek meaningful goals. They have so much style, but not nearly enough substance. For someone like me, who needs both in order to become a successful erotica/romance writer, lacking either really undermines the message.

Now I want the Women’s March to make for meaningful discourse. I want it to provoke real, meaningful change. However, based on what I saw, I don’t think that’s going to happen. Our collective attention span is too short and the powers that be are too callous. I’m not saying the Women’s March was a waste of time, but I don’t think it’s going to change much in the long run.

 

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