Thursday, September 21, 2017

An interview with Frank P. Riga about his first book, 

Beppo – A Calabrian Tale.





I am interviewing my ‘late in life’ friend and most interesting person. Frank P. Riga. He is a retired college English professor, who waited until he retired to tackle his first novel. To say Frank is an avid reader is an understatement. He has been a passionate reader all his life. What inspired him to finally write a book of his own? I hope this interview will give some insight into that question.  With his second book half written and his eye on a possible third book, I think it is safe to assume writing has become his late in life passion.  Frank, like many of his generation, is not on Facebook or Social media. I’m sharing this interview, to share his story. Feel free to comment and share. Here is a link to Frank’s Author page on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/Frank-P.-Riga/e/B001KI7GLM/


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Q. Tell us a little about yourself Frank.
A.  I was born in Buffalo, New York to Italian parents who emigrated from Calabria.  Now retired, I taught in the English Department of Canisius College where I also directed the Graduate Scholarship Office.  My area of specialty was nineteenth century British literature, but I also taught courses in Shakespeare and children’s literature.  My articles appear in several scholarly journals and include essays on Shakespeare, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Jean Rhys, Giuseppe Lampedusa, and others.  My library reference book, The Index to the London Magazine, appeared in 1977.  A few of my poems and short fictions have been published in several periodicals and collections.  I am particularly pleased with my articles on Christmas traditions, which include Santa Claus, La Befana, the Magi, and the creche.

Q.  You have recently published the novel, ‘Beppo, A Calabrian Tale’.  It is available in both print and digital format.  What is it about?
A.  In brief, my novel is the story of Beppo Cordiale who was born in a small village in the Aspromonte in Calabria.  The year is 1901, and Beppo plans changes that would improve the lives of his fellow villagers.  His efforts are thwarted by a greedy and ruthless adversary who falsely accuses him of attempted murder and has him convicted during a corrupt trial.  Escaping prison, Beppo meets with Giuseppe Musolino, the famous Calabrian bandit and vendettist, and discovers the difference between vendetta revenge and justice.  Further complications force him and his new wife, Rose, to emigrate to America.

Q.  Have you always had the urge to create a story, or did the desire come late in life?
A.   It began it when I was two or three months shy of my eightieth birthday. I made an attempt in my early twenties to write an academic satire, and when I finished it, I put it away somewhere and haven’t looked at it since.  During my long life, I did publish some short pieces, but Beppo is my first novel. 

Q.  What inspired you to tackle the daunting task of writing a novel?  
A.  Beppo was inspired indirectly.  Reading a biography of Giuseppe Musolino, the Calabrian vendettist, triggered memories, some vague and others clear, of growing up in a more or less traditional Calabrian family.  Beppo then found his way into my writing.  I began with the intention of writing a fictive biography of Musolino, but after a few pages of composition, my true subject took over.  I wanted to celebrate the place in Italy of my parent’s origin and to counteract the notion that Italians are all inspired by Mafiosi.  I think The Godfather is a very fine book, for example, but Italians are too much associated with that kind of life.  To write a fictive biography of Musolino would have reinforced that stereotype. 

Q. Did you discard Musolino entirely to avoid the Mafia stereotype?
A.  I kept Musolino in the novel as a contrast to Beppo.  As I wrote, I made continuous references to Musolino, who appears in the novel at one point, and to Renzo Tramaglino, the hero of Manzoni’s great novel I Promessi Sposi.  These allusions center my novel’s principal theme, the search for justice in a world where justice is hard to come by.  Both Renzo and Musolino are unjustly condemned in a system of justice corrupted by powerful, selfish interests.  My Beppo, too, is unjustly convicted of a crime, but he refuses the vendetta and waits for the courts to exonerate him.  He then must suffer the consequences of his decision.

Q.  Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? 
A. Having done some writing in scholarship and criticism before my late attempt at fiction, I should be guilty of careful preparation and extensive research in the writing of Beppo.  That’s not what happened.  After discarding the Musolino temptation, which, I think, would have required more logical preparation than intuition, I found that I had a story arc and a good feel for the characters I should develop.  Some incidents came with the narrative outline but not where they’d fit in.  As I began writing, the unfolding narrative determined the direction I would take, but a sense of reasonable control was always alive in my mind.  Curiously, if Beppo is a historic fiction, history came with the territory.  In the writing, it was incidental—necessary to the time and place, but of secondary concern for the characters and their story.  As a writer of fiction, then, I would say my intuition was guided by my reason and emotions.

Q.  Who is your favorite among your characters?
A.  I really don’t have a favorite character in Beppo. The hero is an honorable man, perhaps a bit innocent, and I love Rose, his soon-to-be wife.  Ciccio embodies the best of friendship.  Their interaction within the warmth and concern of the Cordiale home creates, I hope, a moving ensemble that draws the affection of the reader.

Q. What scenes did you enjoy writing the most?
A.  There are a number of scenes that I thought worked well.  My selection may give away too much, if not of the novel, then of the writer.  If I had to choose, I’d say my favorite scenes deal with love making and food.

Q. Having read Beppo’s story, I would have to agree. The love making and food scenes were both tastefully done.  What age group would you recommend this book to?
A. I wrote Beppo as an adult for adults.  I didn’t intend to scandalize or shock my readers, although the love scenes may be too frank for some and the scenes of violence too graphic.  In these instances, I wanted to give sufficient detail to enhance the episode, but not so much as to invite voyeurism.

Q. What was the most difficult part of the writing process?  How did you resolve this problem?
A.  The funniest part of the writing process for me was the writing itself.  Perhaps a better phrase would be ‘the oddest part.’  When I sat down to write, I sometimes hadn’t any idea of where I was to go.  Yet invariably, the scene or incident would present itself.  There was one curious thing that I think happens to many people.  I would occasionally go to bed with some unresolved narrative difficulty.  When I woke in the morning, the solution was in my mind—usually something simple.  It’s strange, but once involved in the process of writing, the mind doesn’t seem to want to let go, even in sleep.

Q. Do you take time off when you finish a book or do you get right back at it?
A.  When I completed Beppo, I thought I’d rest a while, let my imagination wander a bit.  I had some idea for a second Beppo volume, but I didn’t think I was in hurry to begin it.  The rest period turned out to be brief.  As my imagination engaged the second Beppo book, the images and story line demanded words on paper.  I’m currently writing the second volume, tentatively entitled, Beppo’s America: An Immigrant Tale.

Q. What do you hope people will take with them, after reading your story?
A.  I hope people will read Beppo for its evocation of Calabria at the turn of the twentieth century, for its concentration on family, friendship, and young love, and for the refusal of a good man to take up the unjust ways of those who oppress him.

Thank you for your time Frank. I have read and reviewed stories from many of my writer friends. If I can’t give a book at least three stars, I don’t review it. I never pad a review. I just say what is in my heart. My honest review of ‘Beppo – A Calabrian Tale’ was not allowed on Amazon because of our friendship. I would like to include it here.
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Beppo - A Calabrian Tale      ★★★★★   from Joe P. Attanasio on April 8, 2017
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The kind of story you think back on after reading, most enjoyable.
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This book transported me to a small farming town in southern Italy just after the turn of the twentieth century. The living was simple by today’s standards, but life was not easy. This romantic tale deals with ideals, as well as revenge and justice. I found this a compelling read because of the human aspect. The struggles presented in this story, combined with the ideology of the protagonist, made for an enjoyable read. The ‘flavor’ of the times and the people presented in this book showed considerable research and familiarity with Italian customs by the author. I like a book that entertains and educates, I was not disappointed.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Democrats vs Republicans - General Differences

Politics are more prevalent in conversation today than at any time in U.S history. Blame the information age, internet, and social media. Democrat and Republican, left and right, liberal and conservative are common topics. Politics are dividing friendships and families yet many people can’t tell you what each side represents or embraces.
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I researched many sources to get a general idea of what the differences are between them.

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Philosophy
Democrat – Liberal - Left
Republican – Conservative - Right
Economic Ideas
Minimum wages and progressive taxation: i.e., higher tax rates for higher income brackets.
Believe taxes shouldn't be increased for anyone (including the wealthy) and that wages should be set by the free market.
Social and human ideas
Based on community and social responsibility
Based on individual rights and justice
Stance on Military issues
Decreased spending
Increased spending
Stance on Gay Marriage
Most Support
Most Oppose
Stance on Abortion
Should remain legal; support Roe v. Wade. Every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion.
Should not be legal (with very few exceptions). They oppose Roe v. Wade.
Stance on Death Penalty
The majority of democrats support the death penalty. Democrats represent a larger percentage of the opposition than republicans.
A large majority of Republicans support the death penalty.
Stance on Taxes
Progressive (high income earners should be taxed at a higher rate). Generally not opposed to raising taxes to fund government.
Tend to favor a "flat tax" (same tax rate regardless of income). Generally opposed to raising taxes.
Stance on Government Regulation
Government regulations are needed to protect consumers.
Government regulations hinder free market capitalism and job growth.
Healthcare Policy
Support universal healthcare; strong support of government involvement in healthcare, including Medicare and Medicaid. Generally support Obamacare.
Private companies can provide healthcare services more efficiently than government-run programs. Oppose Obamacare provisions like (1) requirement for individuals to buy health insurance or pay a fine, (2) required coverage of contraceptives.
Stance on Immigration
There is greater overall support in the Democratic party for a moratorium on deporting. They favor paths for certain undocumented immigrants with no criminal record and five years residency for citizenship.
Republicans are generally against amnesty for any undocumented immigrants. They also oppose President Obama's executive order that put a moratorium on deporting certain workers. Republicans also fund stronger enforcement actions at the border.
Climate change:

Democrats mostly agree climate change poses a real and urgent threat to our economy, our national security, and our health.
Republicans mostly argue the climate is not changing and that Climate Change is a political mechanism, not unbiased scientific information.



Sunday, January 3, 2016

Erotica and Erotic-Romance Writers (A brief introduction)

                                     Erotica and Erotic-Romance Writers
                                              (A brief introduction)







     Erotica-Romance has been a huge market for the last fifteen years. The popularity of kindle and other e-book readers has made it possible for people to enjoy these stories wherever they go. They can read whatever they want, wherever they want, without the stigma of being seen reading a “smutty” book or the embarrassment of buying one.

      Erotica-Romance writers are usually women writing under a pen name or nom-de-plume. Many of these women also write “mainstream” literature under a different name and keep the two separate. Many write in other genres, maybe even children’s books, and can’t afford to have their names linked with the erotic genre. Some people do it to protect their careers, like teachers, etc. Some are just too embarrassed to let anyone know they write erotica.

      A number of men assume a female pen name when writing Erotica and Erotic-Romance. The general theory being if a woman writes erotica and erotic-romance stories it is sexy, hot and romantic. If a man writes the same story, it is sordid porn and nobody will read it. There are a few exceptions and some brave men have quite a following in this market.

      It is easy to assume that these female erotica writers are young and hot looking oversexed women who routinely wear sexy clothes and carry blindfolds or hand cuffs in their purses. The truth of the matter is that many of these are average women who have husbands and children, a job, a passion for writing and dozens of other normal social activities. They vary in age from mid-teens to late sixties and have vivid imaginations plus a strong desire for storytelling.

     Erotic writing is tied to many genres like erotic horror, paranormal-erotica, fantasy erotica, literary erotica and erotic romance, just to name a few genres. These stories often have complex story lines and visually stunning scenes of intimacy. The demands for this kind of writing hone a writer’s skills and challenge their creativity. Originality and excellent writing is required these days. Sex alone will not carry a story and make it stand out in this crowded market.

     Some story aspects are routinely frowned on by publishers and the general public because they are considered distasteful. Some examples are stories that involve rape and sex acts with animals (bestiality) or children in addition to masochism. Some publishers require authors to portray the use of condoms and safe sex in their manuscripts.

    Sex is part of being human and plays an important role in our daily lives. We are titillated by it and curious. Well written erotica makes us feel something deep within ourselves. Something we can relate too, something we want and something we innately need to complete us and make us feel alive.

    In my opinion good erotica does not use clichés and fancy names for body parts. It does not use impossible positions and commercial sex advertising jargon. Good erotica takes the natural attraction between people and allows the reader to experience it like they were there. The reader should feel the tension and the excitement as the story unfolds. The scenes should feel real, not always perfect. All your senses should be brought into play not just touch. The reader should use their imagination, influenced by the writer’s words, to bring them to the brink of excitement. You don’t just read good erotica, you feel it.


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David Woolfall, Editorial Photographer and author of Kinky Books: Female Erotica Writers:

      David Woolfall researched and interviewed many erotica writers and wrote an article on the subject states that, “In the past couple of decades the industry has “moved from being driven by men writing under female pseudonyms to a dominance by women authors.”

He goes on to say:

     “Although many women are more open about their interest in reading and writing erotic fiction now than ever before, Woolfall said some stigma remains. Two of the women Woolfall photographed asked to have their faces obscured: One hadn’t told her father about her career, and the other said she wanted to hide her identity to protect her family.

     One of the authors, Kay Jaybee, said when she discovered her love of writing erotic fiction, she wasn’t sure how people would react. “I was wary of being assumed to be a slut. Sadly, many people can't separate the art from the subject matter – but if I wrote murder mysteries, no one would assume I went round shooting people,” she wrote in the Independent. “So I largely write in secret and take a salacious pleasure from sitting in my favorite coffee shop, notebook in hand, writing down words I'd never ever say, about things I'd never do. Everyone just assumes I'm either studying, or planning a shopping list.”

     Though the writers came to fiction for different reasons and write different genres within the erotica realm, Woolfall said many of the women he photographed are like Jaybee: essentially conservative, shy people quick to emphasize that their stories and characters are not based on their own lives or desires.

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     I interact daily with a lot of writers, many of whom write erotica and erotic-romance among other things. Never have any of these people shown me a side of them that would cause me to lose respect for them as people or artists. I hope this short piece broadens your understanding of erotica in general and erotica writer in particular.

Joe P. Attanasio

P.S.  Any comments can be left here or on my Facebook page in the post that directed you here.



Saturday, January 2, 2016

Sexual Objectification of Males Part 5 (final part)

                                 Sexual Objectification of Males (Part5)
                                             (Final part of blog series)





     This topic is full of controversy. Many women and some men think there is no “Sexual Objectification” of men. I hope to present both opinions to give the reader “food for thought” on the subject.
      I am active on Facebook and as such am a member of many groups containing writers and readers including romance and erotica groups. I see the men and women able to post sexy pictures of males and females on a moment’s notice. Because these pictures have to be Facebook friendly the head of the penis along with the female nipples and mound have to be covered. Often this is the only thing covered and minimally at best. The action in the pictures has no restrictions. A man’s head between a woman’s legs is acceptable if the sexy bits are not showing.
     Needless to say almost all the men and women have “hot” bodies by today’s standards. The women frequently make comments like, “I wish that man would move his coffee cup a little” and “I wish he would drop that towel.” These are the same women who say, “Why does every man want to send me pictures of his junk.”
     I understand where they are coming from. Wanting to see what is behind the bump on a sexy guy model is not even close to unsolicited photos of some perverts penis. I will leave my commentary for the comments now and share some information gleaned online.

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From an article in “The Telegraph” newspaper from UK:

     Men are now objectified more than women. From Fifty Shades and Magic Mike to Beckham and Gandy's underwear ads, men are now the objectified sex. But unlike women, says Martin Daubney, we don't really mind.
     You cannot move at the moment for buffed, topless men in the mainstream, pre-watershed media. Try as you might, you just cannot avoid their hairless, Ronseal-coloured bodies.

The article goes on to say:

     Notable by its absence was any form of serious protest from men, who, lest we forget, were the ones being endlessly objectified here. And for that, I will be eternally proud of British men. Because we’re bigger than all this nonsense. Sure, there were a few lame-o Meninist groans of “stop objectifying men – I feel violated!” from dunderheads keen to launch futile torpedoes at HMS Feminism.
     But those lonely howls of faux-protest were drowned out by the sound of collective hand-rubbing, dental flossing and growling into bathroom mirrors, as hopeful men prepare themselves for their amorous partners’ returns from girls’ nights out to Fifty Shades or Magic Mike screenings.
     Our frankly tremendous response to all this male objectification hasn’t been “the world’s a terrible place, I might start a protest at change.org” but a very healthy “Mmm, what’s in it for me?” and a knowingly cynical “If I look more like these guys the women swoon over, I might get laid more often <Googles gym membership>”
  So we don’t complain to Ofcom, or peevishly whinge to Everyday Sexism. We react sensibly – and get our arses to the gym so they’ll look better in David Beckham underpants. But there’s somehing else. These days, it’s acceptable for straight men to admit we actually quite like looking at Jamie Dornan’s body – and Beckham’s budgie smugglers or David Gandy’s pecs. It's not a sexual thing, because we look at these men as objects: superior physical beings we’d like to be a little more like. Straight men thinking more like gays – and that’s healthy.

     A fresh wave of today’s gym and porn-obsessed young lads are getting plenty of attention, thanks to endless selfies. Just over a week ago it was reported that young Brits, aged 18-30, posted over a billion selfies in 2014 - and men were posted more of them than women.
     Mark Simpson, daddy of “the metrosexual” who has written the definitive essay on male self-objectification, goes a step further, saying straight guys actively crave gay attention these days, as it proves they can “have” anybody - male or female. This is objectification as taking power – not disempowerment.
     Male objectification is everywhere. This is no more true that in porn land, where everybody is ripped, hairless and objectified. Men are by far the biggest consumers of porn, yet you don’t hear them protesting, nor hankering after the good old days of pot-bellied, hirsute lotharios like Ron Jeremy.

     These days, it’s Daniel Craig who gets his tits out for the lads in Bond movies, as PC scriptwriters gave the Bond girls lab coats. Page 3 has fallen, the lads mags are all but dead and it’s Men’s Health’s topless covers we leer at, as they sit on full display to minors in Tesco.
     The fact it doesn’t even occur to men to complain means male objectification is not only here to stay, but, much like David Gandy’s codpiece on the side of a skyscraper, it will only get bigger.
     If that’s an equality of sorts, then thank us later, ladies. The naked truth is: we’re all objectified these days. Now can’t we just all get over it – and concentrate on the stuff that actually matters?

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Shannon Ridgway is a Contributing Writer to Everyday Feminism writes:

Can women objectify men?

That’s a question that gets asked a lot in feminist circles. And the answer isn’t always easy.

Viewing it simply, one would think that the answer is yes.

Because if we define sexual objectification as seeing people as no more than the sum of their parts and what those parts can do for us sexually, then yes, of course women can objectify men.

After all, there are women out there who “use” men for sex with little regard to their feelings, personalities, or desires, just as men do to women.

Sexual objectification, however, puts one person in the role of subject and the other person in the role of object. In heterosexual coupled relationships, these roles are usually assigned to the man and woman, respectively.

Sexual objectification requires that one person choose what they want sexually and the other person is required to perform to their standards.

And this kind of thinking permeates our culture so deeply that sometimes we don’t even recognize it.

To understand how objectification works, we have to start at the societal level.

Sexual Objectification as the Status Quo

The status quo of sexual objectification places the man as the subject and the woman as the object.

This idea has been so ingrained in society that it’s become part of our everyday culture. Sexual objectification is everywhere.

We see it in the form of everyday advertising — companies use scantily clad female models to sell their products (and we see this in both men’s and women’s magazines).

We see it on TV: Female characters (even powerful ones, like hospital administrator Dr. Lisa Cuddy on the show House, M.D.) wear low-cut shirts and tight clothing, while their male colleagues dress in normal business attire or loose clothing.

It even shows up in our everyday actions, like when we tell girls in schools to dress a certain way to avoid “distracting” their male peers.

So even though male objectification occasionally occurs (usually in the form of advertising), we can’t forget the context within which this operates.

Often, male objectification is done in the form of tongue-in-cheek references to ads that have objectified women for centuries.

And even if it’s a man being objectified in an ad, he is usually shown in full form with complete awareness of his presence, unlike women who are often shown with heads missing or from the back, effectively dehumanizing them.

Objectified men in ads seem to be saying, “Come hither; look what I can give you,” while objectified women seem to be saying, “This is yours for the taking.”

Reverse Sexism?

Even if a man is objectified on occasion, it is not the same thing as living within its oppressive structure day in and day out.

It’s akin to white people saying that reverse racism exists: It just doesn’t — because white people have never experienced systematic, centuries-long oppression like people of color have.

And men haven’t experienced systematic, centuries-long objectification like women have.

Is it possible for men to feel affronted or even demeaned when women comment on their chiseled chest, six-pack abs, or large penis? Of course. Just like it’s possible for a white man to feel offended when a black woman calls him a cracker.

But those instances are not nearly as common, nor do they contribute to a larger system of oppression like sexism or racism. If we refer to those insults as oppressive, then we’re reducing system-wide, institutionalized objectification and racism to petty, interpersonal slights.

Or, as Jamie Utt says in his amazing article “’That’s Racist Against White People!’ A Discussion on Power and Privilege”:

“We need to recognize that not all hurtful words or deeds are equal when certain ones are backed by a history and current system of domination, violence, oppression, repression, dehumanization, and degradation.”


Sexual Objectification and Its Role Within Misogyny:

Not only is sexual objectification part of the status quo, it also plays a role in the underlying current of misogyny that courses through our society.

Misogyny is defined in many dictionaries as the “hatred of women,” but it’s much more complex than that. It’s dehumanizing.

Misogyny denies that women have thoughts, feelings, and rights. It robs them of everything that makes us human.

And when we reduce women to the sum of her parts — that’s misogyny. We are effectively saying that her thoughts, feelings, and opinions don’t matter. All that matters is her body.

When we use her for sexual purposes only and cast her aside, we are dismissing her worth as a person.

This simply does not happen to men — at least, not at the same level. Because there’s no system of oppression in place for men like there is for women.

Again, that’s not to say that women can’t use men to satisfy their sexual needs only.

But it falls more under the realm of awkwardness and less under the umbrella of objectification and oppression.

So is it possible for women to objectify men?

Possibly — at the micro, interpersonal level.

But since sexual objectification is so intertwined within our culture and within misogyny, it would be a falsehood to say that it occurs against men at the same level that it does against women.

In the end, all arguing, “Hey, women objectify men, too!” does is distract from the real problem — deeply ingrained, misogynistic, sexual oppression against women.

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From Alexia LaFata

Oh, the objectification of men.

I hear the cries of sexism already. Men see male strippers in “Magic Mike,” shirtless photos of sexy male celebrities in Cosmo and 14 photos of hot guys who have great butts on, yes, Elite Daily and proceed to cry about how they, too, experience discrimination on the same levels as women.

They immediately go up in arms about how they feel sexualized, how it’s not fair, and how if it’s not okay to objectify women, it shouldn’t be okay to objectify men either because that’s totally a double standard, and that’s totally why feminists are hypocritical bitches and blah, blah, blah.

Well, I hate to silence straight white males again (I know you guys have been getting a lot of flak from me for merely existing lately), but until you live in a world in which your objectification leads to excessive victim-blaming, unwelcome catcalling, mortifyingly high rates of sexual assault and rape and having your value in society based exclusively on what you look like, I will continue to exercise my God-given right to objectify you.

Because the objectification of women leads to all of those things. The objectification of men does not. And that’s why it’s okay to do it.

“The Male Gaze”

There’s a widely-accepted concept in academia called the male gaze, which is the idea that TV shows, movies, advertisements and any other sort of media you can think of are specifically created to satisfy a straight, male audience.

If you’ve ever noticed a movie camera linger a little bit longer on a female body or advertisements in which women are dressed provocatively for seemingly no reason, that’s the male gaze at work.

It creates a culture in which men are always assumed to be the consumer of media. It creates a culture in which men do the looking and women are looked at, in which men are the subjects and women are the objects.

Since men are literally in control of the majority of media behind the scenes, the concept makes a lot of sense.

According to a report by the Women’s Media Center, a non-profit organization founded by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem that tracks female progress in the media industry, women only directed 28.7 percent of top-grossing films in 2012 and only accounted for 23 percent of creators, 24 percent of executive producers, 38 percent of producers, 30 percent of writers, 11 percent of directors, 13 percent of editors and 2 percent of directors in photography of broadcast, cable and Netflix television shows in the 2012-2013 season.

All of these media industry leaders dictate what stories are told in the media and how exactly those stories are told.

So, because significantly more men create the stories, significantly more men control the stories — and, therefore, control the gaze.

There’s no such thing as a “female gaze” in our society. Women never do the looking, except when we go see “Magic Mike,” browse through the hot guys of Cosmo and giggle over which dude has a nicer ass on the Internet — in other words, except when we objectify you! See how this works?

How the male gaze works in society

The male gaze doesn’t just exist in popular culture; it exists in everyday life.

Women learn from a young age that a compliment like “You’re beautiful” means way more than a compliment like “You’re a good person.”

Everyone gasps in horror if a woman is called ugly, yet chuckles in amusement if a woman is called a bitch, as if insulting her appearance is so much worse than insulting her actual character.

A woman’s appearance is the most important thing about her. Her worth is based almost exclusively on what she looks like, how youthful she looks and whether or not she’s f*ckable.

Amy Schumer’s wonderful sketch, “Last F*ckable Day,” illustrates this concept perfectly: As women age — as their skin becomes more wrinkled, their hair becomes drier and greyer and their body loses its lust factor — they “expire,” much like milk, medicine, makeup, credit cards or a driver’s license. Much like, well, objects.

This objectification leads to us not being seen as living, breathing human beings but as things, as pieces of property, as something that someone else can take ownership of, claim as theirs and define.

And society doesn’t hesitate to let us know our worth is defined by someone else — specifically, by men.

Because when a woman’s worth is defined by how beautiful she is and how sexually desirable she is, it’s another way of saying her worth is defined by how much male attention she receives and how much men want to f*ck her — how much she’s satisfying the male gaze.

Men don’t operate this way. Men don’t live to satisfy a so-called female gaze.

On a societal level, a man’s worth is defined by way, way more than just his hotness and f*ckability, so when we objectify a man, we do nothing more than just make an innocent comment on those two things.

A comment on a woman’s appearance isn’t just a comment, but a comment on a man’s appearance is

Women don’t live in a world in which a comment on our appearance is just an innocent comment.

We live in a world in which a comment on our appearance is systematically engrained into society’s attitude towards us.

It’s used as a way to measure our value in society, as a means through which our entire f*cking identity is defined.

In her piece “You Can’t Tell the Attorney General She Has an Epic Butt, But Here’s What You CAN Do,” Lindy West gives a perfect example of what a comment on a woman’s appearance can mean in different circumstances and how the meaning behind a comment differs between women and men:

If you are friends with a woman in your office, you two are hanging out in the break room, and you notice that she’s gotten a fetching new haircut, it’s completely normal to say, ‘Hey, Cheryl, righteous haircut.’ But, say, if you are in the middle of a meeting, and Cheryl has just presented her quarterly report to the board, it is not appropriate to raise your hand and say, ‘I’d just like to point out the flattering way in which Cheryl’s blazer nips in at the waist.’
“Can you see the difference? One is giving a high-five to a friend in a relaxed, unprofessional setting. The other is derailing and devaluing a colleague’s professional contributions; drawing attention to the fact that she’s a woman in the board room, not a person in the board room; and reminding her that her primary utility, in your eyes, is as a decorative and/or sexual object.
West continues:

Imagine if every day you came into work, and your boss said, “Really fillin’ out those pants today, Jerry,” and he never said anything else. Do you think you’d eventually mention it to HR? Well, now imagine that “Really fillin’ out those pants today, Jerry” was built, systemically, into the entire culture’s attitude toward you from birth onward.
A man’s appearance doesn’t define him nearly as much as a woman’s appearance defines her, so commenting on his appearance has an entirely different meaning than commenting on her’s.

When you comment on the female body, like West says, it can reinforce the deeply ingrained idea that a woman’s appearance is all that matters about her and that her sole purpose is to be something for men to look at (see: male gaze).

The fact that we are people doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. Except the way a man’s dick feels about us.

On the contrary, when I comment on the male body, I really do nothing more than that.

I observe it, say a few words about it, and then, since it has no real effect on the status of who he is as a person, I kind of just move on.

In fact, when a New York Magazine article asked if men can ever be fat-shamed, the answer, ultimately, was no.

As Kat Stoeffel writes in the piece, tabloids reporting on Leonardo DiCaprio’s weight gain did little to affect his identity — his extra pounds were “no more or less damning than the hideous graphic T-shirts and newsboy caps he wears” — whereas reports of Jessica Simpson’s weight gain warranted a dramatic, emotional talk show segment dedicated to her “weight-loss journey.”

That’s why objectifying a woman carries a heavier, more noteworthy meaning.

When you objectify a woman, you perpetuate the idea that her worth lies exclusively in her appearance.

When I objectify a man, it’s just… fun.

And that’s why it’s okay to do it.

Alexia LaFata

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Comments to above information:

TLDR; Women objectify men, but generally, not in terms of sexual objectification.

I love Tom Morris' answer to: Do women objectify men?, but I don't agree completely.

The reason? He says it himself (emphasis mine):

The problem isn't the objectification but the fact that objectification of women upholds a sexist view in society that women are actually nothing more than sex objects, which isn't something we do for men.

This discredits the argument, because that is the exact definition of objectification.

objectify |əbˈjektəˌfī|
• degrade to the status of a mere object: a deeply sexist attitude that objectifies women.

I'd interpret this to mean that there is a difference between seeing someone as a sexual object and objectifying someone.


The epitome of objectification.


Seeing someone as a sexual object or appreciating their beauty, sexuality, etc. is not necessarily reducing that person to no more than a sexual object. As Tom explained, we as society can see men as sexual beings without reducing them -- this is not a contrary view to seeing them as powerful, rich, confident, intelligent, or otherwise.

However, objectifying someone reduces them to nothing more than an object, which means that person is not only not seen as intelligent, powerful, rich, confident, etc., she is not even seen as a person.


                          Some women do sexually objectify men.


So, do women sexually objectify men? Not really. At least, not generally as a group societal norm.

But back to the original question: Do women objectify men?


Yes, definitely.

But most frequently, it is done in a different way. When a mother says that all that matters is the size of his bank account, that is objectification. When he is being seen as nothing more than an object that makes you look good because of his job, car, etc., that is objectification, because he is being reduced to the status of an object.

This objectification happens in a lot of different ways:
reducing his worth to the work he can do for her (ie: carrying boxes)
reducing his worth to the value of his job, bank account, etc.
reducing his worth to how he makes her look (status, car, etc)
reducing his worth to something without emotions. (losing respect for a man that cries, invalidating his feelings)

Objectification happens in a lot of ways, and I think one of the biggest differences that can be made for "equality" is to also appreciate all of the ways that we reduce men from full human beings. Men & women both perpetuate this by pretending there is some list of skills and abilities and traits a person has to live up to to maintain his "man card."

If men get to stop pretending at being the perfect macho man, they might find a comfortable way to acknowledge that they respect women, without feeling society will see them as weak.
Written May 27, 2013 •

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Another comment:

In these adverts, it's pretty clear what's going on. Sexy ripped muscular man used to sell underwear or perfume or jeans or whatever.

How is this not objectification? Well, it is. But there's an important difference between female and male objectification. As someone who enjoys a bit of male objectification, this may be a self-serving argument.

When women (and gay men) objectify men, it doesn't lower the man's status. In pornography or in glamour modeling, women lose societal status. We could imagine a man from a Calvin Klein ad becoming a business leader or President or having a high-powered job as a top corporate lawyer. That he can take his shirt off and make people fawn in adoration doesn't really change that greatly.

But for women, the objectification isn't just about the woman being attractive, but it also changes her status. She appears in pornography and she becomes a slut, and that's considered a bad thing. Society doesn't consider women who are beauty models or who sell their attractiveness to be equal agents deserving of equal respect.

Think about how this plays out with politicians: during the 2008 US presidential elections and primaries, there was so much commentary on how Hillary Clinton dressed and on her hair and personal appearance. I don't remember any similar commentary on how Obama or McCain dressed. We've seen huge amounts of commentary on Michelle Obama's appearance too. Apparently, how politician's wives look and dress is considered an important topic but not the male politicians themselves. Paul Ryan's personal fitness and thus attractiveness wasn't likely to be considered a matter of controversy like the women's appearances are. In British politics, there has been a certain amount of vitriol leveled against Cherie Blair or against Sally Bercow because they've spoken their minds rather than sat and simply been pretty faces, especially as Sally Bercow also then posed with a bed sheet for a newspaper.

Think of women who have been glamour models or even prostitutes who have also been intelligent people with things to say. Think of the hoo-hah around the outing of the pseudonymous blogger and prostitute Belle de Jour as Brooke Magnanti. There was considerable disbelief that an intelligent woman who had done a Ph.D in forensic science could also be a call girl.

Another aspect to this is when men are specifically objectified by, say, appearing shirtless in a photo-shoot for a gay magazine, it doesn't really affect their careers in the same way that an equivalent female would if they'd posed topless for a lad's mag. David Beckham has been in plenty of magazine appearances and has been idolised by some of the gay magazines, and it didn't affect his career at all. Imagine if a female athlete had done likewise: people would have seen it as tawdry and as a reason to not take her seriously.

Women (and gay men) objectifying men doesn't result in those men being considered "sluts" and thus thought unable to do anything other than take their clothes off by society. The harm done is not the same. It is simply the larger dynamic of the "stud vs. slut" thing played out at a societal level. If a man gets lots of sex, he's a stud, but if a woman gets lots of sex, she's considered a slut. Objectification of women thus runs the risk of putting them into that slut category, while objectification of men is most likely going to put them into a category that is socially respected.

I guess I'd have to say that both women and men objectify other women and other men. The problem for me isn't so much the objectification but the double standards that come with that objectification. There's nothing wrong with finding someone attractive, and to make it a bad thing to imagine doing dirty things with that person is really a sort of thought crime and a denial that many of us are sexual beings. The problem isn't the objectification but the fact that objectification of women upholds a sexist view in society that women are actually nothing more than sex objects, which isn't something we do for men.

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This information and these comments are posted to give information and as “fodder” for debate and comment. Comments can be left here below or in the Facebook status that directed you here. This concludes the information portion but hopefully the comments will continue as everyone must have an opinion about something they read in this 5 part blog series.


Joe P. Attanasio


Friday, January 1, 2016

Sexual Objectification Part 4 (Porn)

                                    Pornography and Sexual Objectification
                                                    Part 4 of series







     Anti-pornography feminists Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin take inequality to be tightly linked to objectification. In the eyes of both these feminists and Kant, there is the powerful objectifier on the one hand, and on the other hand there exists his powerless victim. Due to their unequal power, the former objectifies the latter.

     In our society, MacKinnon holds, pornography defines women's role as sexual objects available for men's consumption: “Pornography defines women by how we look according to how we can be sexually used. …
     Pornography participates in its audience's eroticism through creating an accessible sexual object, the possession and consumption of which is male sexuality, as socially constructed; to be consumed and possessed as which, is female sexuality, as socially constructed” (MacKinnon 1987, 173).
     According to MacKinnon, pornography is responsible for both men's and women's conception of women as objects available for men's consumption.

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     Covenanteyes (www.covenanteyes.com/pornstats/) is one of the websites that tracks porn statistics. They also offer a program to help families monitor the visitation of porn sites on their family computer. There are other websites that also track statistics and they pain a similar picture. I will share data from a few of these sites.

     By 2017, a quarter of a billion people are expected to be accessing mobile adult content from their phones or tablets, an increase of more than 30% from 2013. Mobile adult video-chat alone will have a compound annual growth rate of 25%.

     9 out of 10 Internet porn users only access free material, whether it be samples of pay material, illegally copied versions of pay material, or amateur material.

     1 in 5 mobile searches are for pornography.

     24% of smartphone owners admit to having pornographic material on their mobile handset.

The Porn Industry:
     In 2006, estimated revenues for sex-related entertainment businesses were just under $13 billion in the US. These estimates included video sales and rentals, Internet sales, cable, pay-per-view, phone sex, exotic dance clubs magazines, and novelty stores.

     69% of pay-per-view Internet content market is pornography.

     Global porn revenues have declined 50% since 2007 due to the amount of free porn online.

     The porn industry generates $13 billion each year in the US.

     88% of scenes in porn films contain acts of physical aggression, and 49% of scenes contain verbal aggression.

     32% of adult membership websites and 58% of free adult websites come from outside the U.S.

Subscriptions:
There are higher percentages of subscriptions to porn sites in zip codes that...

Are more urban than rural.
Have experienced an increase in higher than average household income.
Have a great density of young people (age 15-24).
Have a higher proportion of people with undergraduate degrees.
Have higher measures of social capital (i.e. more people who donate blood, engage in volunteer activities, or participate in community projects).


Porn in the Church:
     Pornography is prevalent everywhere today. In fact, one in eight online searches is for pornography. Because porn use thrives in secrecy, many church members are trapped in a cycle of sin and shame, thinking that they're the only ones facing this temptation.

     64% of Christian men and 15% of Christian women say they watch porn at least once a month.

     Regular church attendees are 26% less likely to look at porn, however, self-identified "fundamentalists" are 91% more likely to look at porn.


Porn and Your Teens:
     "Never before in the history of telecommunications media in the United States has so much indecent (and obscene) material been so easily accessible by so many minors in so many American homes with so few restrictions."

- U.S. Department of Justice:
Research reveals many systemic effects of Internet pornography that are undermining an already vulnerable culture of marriage and family. Even more disturbing is the fact that the first Internet generations have not reached full maturity, so the upper limits of this impact have yet to be realized"

- Jill Manning, Sociologist


     9 out of 10 boys are exposed to pornography before the age of 18.

     The first exposure to pornography among men is 12 years old, on average.

     71% of teens hide online behavior from their parents.

     28% of 16-17 year olds have been unintentionally exposed to porn online.

     20% of 16-year-olds and 30% of 17-year-olds have received a sext.

     6 out of 10 girls are exposed to pornography before the age of 18.

     15% of boys and 9% of girls have seen child pornography.

     32% of boys and 18% of girls have seen bestiality online.

     39% of boys and 23% of girls have seen sexual bondage online.

     83% of boys and 57% of girls have seen group sex online.

     69% of boys and 55% of girls have seen same-sex intercourse online.

Porn and Young Adults:

Among young adults today, porn use is not the exception. It is the norm.

'The young women who talk to me on campuses about the effect of pornography on their intimate lives speak of feeling that they can never measure up, that they can never ask for what they want; and that if they do not offer what porn offers, they cannot expect to hold a guy. The young men talk about what it is like to grow up learning about sex from porn, and how it is not helpful to them in trying to figure out how to be with a real woman...For the first time in human history, the images’ power and allure have supplanted that of real naked women. Today, real naked women are just bad porn.'

- Naomi Wolf


     It is also becoming more common for young adults to make their own pornography. Nearly 1 in 5 of 18-24-year-olds have sent a sext (sexually explicit text message). This has become a predictor of sexual behavior. Students who have had sexual intercourse are five times more likely than virgins to be involved in sexting.

     51% of male and 32% of female students first viewed porn before their teenage years (12 and younger).

     64% of college men and 18% of college women spend time online for Internet sex every week.

     67% of young men and 49% of young women say viewing porn is an acceptable way to express one's sexuality.

     68% of young adult men and 18% of women use porn at least once every week.

     19% of 18-24 year-olds have sent a sext.

Porn and Your Marriage:

"I have also seen in my clinical experience that pornography damages the sexual performance of the viewers. Pornography viewers tend to have problems with premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. Having spent so much time in unnatural sexual experiences with paper, celluloid and cyberspace, they seem to find it difficult to have sex with a real human being. Pornography is raising their expectation and demand for types and amounts of sexual experiences; at the same time it is reducing their ability to experience sex."

- Dr. MaryAnne Layden


     Happily married men are 61% less likely to look at porn.

     Those with teen children are 45% less likely to look at porn.

     68% of divorce cases involved one party meeting a new lover over the Internet.

     56% of divorce cases involved one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.

     Men are more than 543% more likely to look at porn than women.

    70% of wives of sex addicts could be diagnosed with PTSD.

     Those who have ever engaged in paid sex are 270% more likely to look at porn.

     Those who have ever committed adultery are 218% more likely to look at porn.


Who is Covenant Eyes?

Pornography use thrives in secrecy. But when others know the place you go online, the temptation loses its power. This works for adults, teens, and kids alike.

Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability makes this easy. Just sign up for an account, install the software on every device you use, and choose people you trust to receive regular Internet reports in their inbox.

Parents use this to monitor where their kids go online so they can have proactive discussions about how to use the Internet wisely.

Adults use this to help them to think twice about where they go online and to equip others to be effective accountability partners.




           
More Pornography Statistics from another site. These seem to be a few years old circa 2008

Internet Pornography statistics become outdated very quickly, especially in the Internet environment where numbers change daily. These statistics have been derived from a number of different reputable sources including the sources sited at the bottom of the page. 


            Pornography Time Statistics
Every second - $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography
Every second - 28,258 Internet users are viewing pornography
Every second - 372 Internet users are typing adult search terms into search engines
Every 39 minutes: a new pornographic video is being created in the United States


Top Worldwide Search Requests       Top US Cities Search Requests

      1. South Africa         1.  Elmhurst, IL
      2. Ireland                   2.  Stockton, CA
      3. New Zealand        3.  Meriden, CT
      4. United Kingdom   4   Chandler, AZ
      5. Australia                5.  Louisville, KY
      6. Estonia                  6.  Irvine, CA
      7. Norway                 7.  Kansas City, KS
      8. Canada                  8.  Norfolk, VA
      9. Croatia                  9.  Tampa, FL
     10. Lithuania             10. Oklahoma City, OK

     


Internet Pornography Statistics
Pornographic websites            4.2 million (12% of total websites)
Pornographic pages     420 million
Daily pornographic search engine requests     68 million (25% of total search engine requests)
Daily pornographic emails      2.5 billion (8% of total emails)
Internet users who view porn 42.7%
Received unwanted exposure to sexual material        34%
Average daily pornographic emails/user         4.5 per Internet user
Monthly Pornographic downloads (Peer-to-peer)      1.5 billion (35% of all downloads)
Daily Gnutella "child pornography" requests 116,000
Websites offering illegal child pornography   100,000
Sexual solicitations of youth made in chat rooms      89%
Youths who received sexual solicitation        1 in 7 (down from 2003 stat of 1 in 3)
Worldwide visitors to pornographic web sites           72 million visitors to pornography: Monthly
Internet Pornography Sales     $4.9 billion


Children Internet Pornography Statistics
Average age of first Internet exposure to pornography          11 years old
Largest consumer of Internet pornography    35 - 49 age group
15-17 year olds having multiple hard-core exposures 80%
8-16 year olds having viewed porn online      90% (most while doing homework)
7-17 year olds who would freely give out home address       29%
7-17 year olds who would freely give out email address       14%
Children's character names linked to thousands of porn links            26 (Including Pokemon and Action Man)



Adult Internet Pornography Statistics
Men admitting to accessing pornography at work      20%
US adults who regularly visit Internet pornography websites            40 million
Promise Keeper men who viewed pornography in last week 53%
Christians who said pornography is a major problem in the home     47%
Adults admitting to Internet sexual addiction           10%
Breakdown of male/female visitors to pornography sites       72% male - 28% female


Women and Pornography
Women keeping their cyber activities secret   70%
Women struggling with pornography addiction         17%
Ratio of women to men favoring chat rooms 2X
Percentage of visitors to adult websites who are women       1 in 3 visitors
Women accessing adult websites each month            9.4 million
Women admitting to accessing pornography at work            13%
Women, far more than men, are likely to act out their behaviors in real life, such as having multiple partners, casual sex, or affairs.






            Country           Porn Pages
United States            244,661,900
Germany                     10,030,200
United Kingdom         8,506,800
Australia                      5,655,800
Japan                           2,700,800
The Netherlands          1,883,800
Russia                          1,080,600
Poland                         1,049,600
Spain                              852,800





ABC, Associated Press, AsiaMedia, AVN, BBC, CATW, U.S. Census, Central Intelligence Agency, China Daily, Chosen.com, Comscore Media Metrix, Crimes Against Children, Eros, Forbes, Frankfurt Stock Exchange, Free Speech Coalition, Google, Harris Interactive, Hitwise, Hoover's, Japan Inc., Japan Review, Juniper Research, Kagan Research, ICMEC, Jan LaRue, The Miami Herald, MSN, Nielsen/NetRatings, The New York Times, Nordic Institute, PhysOrg.com, PornStudies, Pravda, Sarmatian Review, SEC filings, Secure Computing Corp., SMH, TopTenREVIEWS, Trellian, WICAT, Yahoo!, XBIZ

©2003 – 2007 TopTenREVIEWS, Inc.

As you can probably see from reading the above statistics, it is important to have a complete Internet safety program in place consisting of an Internet filter and parental controls.

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