25 Feb 2011

That Could Have Been Me

In late 2001, I was laid off from my first career job - a communications position at The Comedy Network. Losing a job was terribly humiliating, but the silver lining meant that I was no longer forced to watch The Mike Bullard Show for a living. The Mike Bullard Show was the kind of program that people would say "I wouldn't watch that if you paid me" and the fact that I was employed, in part, to watch it, proved once and for all that I was a liar whose standards could be bought off for the low price of $31,750 a year (before taxes).

Unfortunately, I wasn't the only person who got the post-9/11 job-heave-ho and I recall that a lot of people were out of work in my field. Because opportunities were incredibly lacking, I spent the greater part of 2002 working as a temp in various offices (oh, the stories I could tell), doing part-time work for a call centre of an online casino (another story goldmine), and daydreaming about winning the lottery (I probably still have the Excel spreadsheet somewhere detailing how I would divvy the money up among family. Just kidding, I wouldn't share any of it).

During this time, I also explored a few different career paths and seriously looked into going to Teacher's College. I even started filling in the form. That is, until I got to the part of the application that suggested I acquire a few hundred volunteer hours working with children. And my reaction:

Volunteer with kids? UUUGGGHGHHHH. Fuck that.

And that's when I knew that I probably shouldn't apply to be a teacher.

But if I had gone along with it, I can 100% envision myself being the kind of professional Cameron Diaz plays in this trailer for Bad Teacher (except without the hot bod, the need for a boob job or what will surely include a Full House-esque lesson - delivered by children - about how great it actually is to be a good teacher. Pretty sure I'd still be horrible and dead inside.):

Warning - the language is awesomely colourful (see: lewd). If your workplace, spouse or child isn't down with the f-bomb, you might want to put on headphones!


23 Feb 2011

Overheard: Momma Bear Gone Rabid

I don't dislike kids, but I can admit that I'm not really a child-drawn person. My friends' kids are all cool, but the average baby or kid I pass on the street? I'm sure they're lovely, but I'm not really interested. Just as I'm not going to run over to an adult I don't know and start chatting with them, I'm not going to bend over and start making idiotic sing-songy noises at your kid. I don't even particularly notice them, to be honest. It's nothing personal.

Similarly, I'm not going to crap myself when a random child is in my presence at a restaurant, on an airplane, or hogging up valuable aisle space with his or her stroller. They have the right to be there just as I do. It's not a big deal. I imagine a lot of people feel the same way.

It seems that this live-and-let-live mentality isn't good enough for some delusional parents. I always wonder if these people were always self-absorbed assholes or if it's a special trait that develops only after watching a placenta slime out of your body (I'll admit it, that would change me too. Probably into a vegetarian). Here's a lovely encounter I witnessed at Winners today that demonstrates parenthood-gone-batshit.

A few aisles away there was a woman looking at something on the shelf. I hadn't particularly noticed her as I was also being sucked into vapid consumerism, specifically, a piece of fitness equipment that I'll surely stop using next week.

Suddenly, I hear someone loudly speaking in baby-talk. 

"What a mean, mean wady."

I glance up and there's now a second woman standing in the other aisle. I can see that this second woman has a stroller. For some reason, I notice that this thing has two cup holders, both of which are holding Venti-sized coffees from Starbucks. Grade-A Mom Fuel.

A part of me worries that I'm the mean wady, er, lady, they're talking about, even though I was 100% minding my own business. Let's be clear, I don't automatically presume I'm the focus of anyone's attention. After all, Toronto and its Bluetoothed Bay Streeters and crazy people (who are sometimes interchangeable) have quickly and embarrassingly taught me that even when it's just myself and another person in a room, they're not always talking to or about me. The cringe-worthy specifics of how I learned those lessons are for another day's blog post.

It turns out that the other woman doesn't know the mom either. Or if she's being talked about. She glances around at first too and then turns to the woman with the stroller.

"Pardon?" she says.

"That was really rude," the mom barks. She then looks down to whoever is in the stroller and switches to baby talk. "Wasn't dat tewibwee wude, Emma?"

Oooh! Drama alert! With both confrontation and passive aggression! I pretend to really care about a package in front of me.

"Excuse me? What was rude?" the non-mom says.

Oh, boy. It's a rare thing when a Canadian doesn't just automatically apologize for something, even when he or she has no idea what they've done. This was just like watching TV. American TV!

"Um, it was pretty clear that my daughter was interested in that box you picked up. Did you take that just to be mean to a little girl?" She again turns to her kid and in a child's voice says, "Dat was so mean!"

Ugh. But anyway ...

The daughter is obscured from my vantage point, so I have no idea how old she is. For what it's worth, I didn't hear a child's voice (besides the baby-talking mom) leading up to this. I try to casually position myself a little differently to get a better picture of it all (I know, I'm horrible). I still can't see the kid (the woman is blocking her), but I can now see what item is being fought over. The non-mom is holding a hair straightener. There are at least six others on the shelf. Seriously?

"You're kidding me, right?" the woman says. "First of all, I didn't even notice your daughter ..."

Apparently, that's not the sort of thing one should admit to a drunk-on-child mom. If a sense of indignation was a commodity, we had just hit pay dirt with this woman.

"How could you not notice a precious little girl?" yelped the mother. "She's right beside you!" She turns again to her daughter, "Yes, you are so precious, so, so precious.Only mean people don't notice you."

This conversation has officially gone Def Con Crazy.

The mom snaps back up and glares at the woman, "I can't stand bullies."

Bullies? Bullies? This all seems like a weird misunderstanding, being blown way, way out of proportion.

"Wow. You know what? You're fucking insane. I feel sorry for your daughter," says the woman, who slams down the hair straightener and leaves.


The mom stands there, her jaw dropped. I get tingles of sympathy for her until I finally catch a glimpse of her daughter. I have to hold back the urge to scream, "WHAT?!?!"

The child is probably no more than nine-months old. Hardly an age that is communicative enough that the rest of us should be obviously tuned into her needs and desires. The child's near baldness also makes it rather insane that it's a hair straightener that caused all this commotion - but that's not what was so ridiculous about this all.

The kid was asleep.


Image Source: Dealcetera


20 Feb 2011

I'd Roll With This Kid


19 Feb 2011

Let's Clear Something Up

I was interviewed recently regarding the 50s Housewife Experiment (yes, still happily milking that thing) and the person interviewing me was really surprised that I gained weight following a 50s diet.

"But people ate real food back then!" she said, referring to the fact that we're eating a lot of "Frankenfood" now.

See, I'm sure that some people ate wholesome, farm-fresh, made-from-scratch, not-so-complicated meals back in the day. But some people in the 1950s also ate crap like this:

Want to guess what it is?
  • Is it a very rare beef tenderloin covered in strangely coloured whipped potatoes?
  • Is it Gumby's severed arm?
  • Is it actually just a plastic prop from my 50s Christmas Cocktail Party?
It's a special treat called a Cranberry Yule Log. It consists of two cans of highly processed cranberry sauce (still in can shape) smothered in green dye-tinted cream cheese with a bit of nutmeg, topped with cherries and spearmint candies. You eat it with a knife and fork and a doctor on stand-by. It appeared in my December 1957 issue of Better Homes and Gardens, compliments of Ocean Spray.

The magazines and cookbooks from the era are brimming with stuff like this. But let's not fool ourselves into thinking it's any more healthy when it's recombined and beautifully photographed to look like this:

Cranberry Cheesecake Tartlets, compliments of Ocean Spray
...except we have the added bonus of there being high fructose corn syrup in the modern version! Hurrah!


16 Feb 2011

Random Randomyness Brought To You By Blackberry

I have an app on my Blackberry that loads up a new background image every few hours. It was free and I didn't have anything I specifically wanted to use as my phone's wallpaper, so why not, right?

Famous last words.

This app has been a source of embarrassment and confusion for myself and anyone who looks at my Blackberry. I'll get the occasional sunset or flower or puppy or whatever sort-of-normal image. Every so often they'll be things like sports logos, bands and movie posters that aren't really my thing, but whatever. Truly unexpected stuff would sometimes come on that I'd do a double-take on: A Tickle-Me Elmo with a rather rude thought-bubble (guess what he wanted you to tickle?). A Sears portrait of a totally random Chinese family. A picture of an open, clean diaper. Those were always a surprise.

I thought the worst moments were when I'd get something from a collection I call "Wallpaper Intended For 17-Year Old Boys." Chicks in bikinis. Girls splayed out over cars. Blonds licking lollipops. Because that doesn't send out a mixed message about me when I'm out with friends or anything. I thought that was the worst of it. I thought wrong:

That is Steve Martin at the beach.



14 Feb 2011

Valentine's Day, Whining and War

Warning: One fantastically self-righteous, jerky post follows!

I'm not really much of a "Valentine's Day person." I'm not anti-Valentine's Day, per se, I'm more like a Valentines agnostic. Growing up, the biggest thrill about Valentine's Day was the potential to eat cinnamon hearts. I couldn't get enough of them and would literally burn holes in my mouth from sucking on their spicy citricy acid goodness. Is there any wonder why I was never put into the gifted program? (And not just for maiming myself so willingly, but for having constructed a sentence that has the word "citricy" in it?)

When I wasn't dating or married, I wasn't the type who ranted about it being a "Hallmark Holiday." I never organized empowering-but-actually-rather-pathetic drunk fests with my single friends, in large part because the idea of recreating the entire concept behind Sex and the City into an evening sounded like my version of hell. The holiday never bothered me, but never really interested me either. Basically, I didn't take its existence personally. Now as an old married lady with a husband I adore, it still doesn't occur to me to run out and get Patrick a gift, nor to expect one. We'll say "Happy Valentine's Day" to each other, of course, but that's about the extent of the celebration. He still has to beg for sex just like any other day.

All that said, I wanted to share one of my magazines - it's the February 1943 issue of Ladies' Home Journal. This magazine came out right in the thick of World War II - and so the cover is of a young woman pining for her soldier. I'm also without my Valentine today, although it's because he's still at an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic. I know - it's a subtle difference - having one's husband fighting for his life at war vs. having one's husband flopped out by the pool drinking unlimited cervezas. But, please, your condolences and well-wishes are not necessary. We'll tough it out.

Anyway - I was looking in the magazine to see if there was any advice for women missing their sweethearts and was rather surprised to find none. I don't doubt for a second that real women of the time felt their heart strings especially pulled, but the contents of this magazine were strictly anti-pity party. But what struck me even more was how all-consuming the war effort was, in the context of this magazine. Within its 157 pages, I could only find 18 pages that had no mention or visual related to the war. Apparently, everything from nail polish to canned soup could help the effort abroad. Articles included Eleanor Roosevelt's trip to visit servicemen in England and her monthly advice / question column (which is amazing and I'll talk about it some other time!), how one family is making due on a much smaller wartime salary, women taking on more tasks and jobs to help the effort, advice on stretching budgets and food and clothing because of supply issues, and war bonds, war bonds, war bonds. Nearly every page is a guilt-fest to buy war bonds. I wish I could scan the whole thing so that you could get a sense of just how non-stop the talk of war is in this magazine. It's like a paper tidal wave of conflict and duty and sacrifice and unknowns.

So, when I see people on Facebook and Twitter and what-have-you moaning about how Valentine's Day is being shoved down their throats and how it's so unfair and obnoxious to have this cruel, manipulative holiday thrown in their single faces, I have to roll my eyes.

It could be worse. It has been worse. Buy yourself some chocolate and get a fucking grip.


11 Feb 2011

Late Night Eats

Yesterday after a day of sitting around in my pajamas playing Angry Birds freelance work I went out with a New! Friend! for a few drinks at the neighbourhood bar. It turns out that we are both fans of gin. Big fans of gin. So, what exactly do two girls who are just getting to know each other talk about while consuming several martinis on empty stomachs? This stuff, in this order:

  • Weather
  • Work
  • Travel
  • Writing and publishing
  • Television shows
  • The awesomeness of Community
  • The awesomeness of gin
  • Attempts to eat vegan
  • Annoying Twitterati
  • Hatred of the word "Twitterati"
  • "I'm up for another if you are!"
  • Shakespeare Which cast member of Jersey Shore is the best
  • The revolution in Egypt What race Pauly D looks like in person (Answer: Indian. I saw him in Las Vegas and couldn't get over his skin colour. The guy could easily be cast in Slumdog Millionaire II: Wheel of Fortune.)
  • The environment OMG WHY ARE SAMMI AND RONNIE STILL TOGETHER?! (followed by texting and Twitter updates to find out what happened on last night's episode)
  • .... and it went downhill from there, culturally and intellectually, but uphill in fun 
Eventually she caught the streetcar to her hood but instead of going home, I opted to turn around and go to the nearby Metro to participate in one of my favourite things, drunk grocery shopping.

"Oh, great!" said the Metro staff.

One thing my lubricated self really wanted was grocery store sushi. To the connoisseur of Japanese cuisine, the spicy salmon rolls I picked up were the equivalent of eating Fun Dip and calling it trifle. But as you can imagine, I was not feeling too picky in that moment. I purchased it successfully (a small feat) and inhaled it at home moments later. I fell asleep a happy girl.

This morning I looked at the grocery bag from last night and couldn't help but be slightly amused by the remaining contents.

Hmm. A bag or organic lemons and some organic broccoli. Ok - an admittedly odd selection of impulse buys - but overall, kind of smart in the healthy, attempting-to-eat-vegan kind of way.

And then I looked at the rest of the bag.


I'm not sure which is least likely to qualify as an actual food item - the can of Chef Boyardee ravioli or the rainbow sprinkles. And an even scarier question to ponder - did I think I was going to eat those things together? Oh, I am a sick, sick drunk.

Anyone else want to be my new friend? I'm clearly quite sane.


9 Feb 2011

A Warm Fuzzy From The Internets

My talent overfloweth with MS Paint.
Nothing warms you up like a story of niceness. Well, that and being at an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean, like the one that my husband is staying at now (he's there for a wedding. I'm not jealous or anything). Anyway, I only just read this today, but it was posted and went viral-ish about a month and a half ago on Reddit. To put that in Internet Years, this is sort of the equivalent of just discovering and excitedly telling people about a great new TV show called LOST.

But seeing as someone as super cool and Internet-trolling as me didn't see this until now, I figure others out there hadn't read it either, and so I'll admit this missed my radar-of-very-important-things and pass it along today.

This entry is from Reddit member Rhoner who posted the following story in a thread about hitch-hiking:

Just about every time I see someone I stop. I kind of got out of the habit in the last couple of years, moved to a big city and all that, my girlfriend wasn't too stoked on the practice. Then some shit happened to me that changed me and I am back to offering rides habitually. If you would indulge me, it is long story and has almost nothing to do with hitch hiking other than happening on a road.

This past year I have had 3 instances of car trouble. A blow out on a freeway, a bunch of blown fuses and an out of gas situation. All of them were while driving other people's cars which, for some reason, makes it worse on an emotional level. It makes it worse on a practical level as well, what with the fact that I carry things like a jack and extra fuses in my car, and know enough not to park, facing downhill, on a steep incline with less than a gallon of fuel.

Anyway, each of these times this shit happened I was DISGUSTED with how people would not bother to help me. I spent hours on the side of the freeway waiting, watching roadside assistance vehicles blow past me, for AAA to show. The 4 gas stations I asked for a gas can at told me that they couldn't loan them out "for my safety" but I could buy a really shitty 1-gallon one with no cap for $15. It was enough, each time, to make you say shit like "this country is going to hell in a handbasket."

But you know who came to my rescue all three times? Immigrants. Mexican immigrants. None of them spoke a lick of the language. But one of those dudes had a profound affect on me.

He was the guy that stopped to help me with a blow out with his whole family of 6 in tow. I was on the side of the road for close to 4 hours. Big jeep, blown rear tire, had a spare but no jack. I had signs in the windows of the car, big signs that said NEED A JACK and offered money. No dice. Right as I am about to give up and just hitch out there a van pulls over and dude bounds out. He sizes the situation up and calls for his youngest daughter who speaks english. He conveys through her that he has a jack but it is too small for the Jeep so we will need to brace it. He produces a saw from the van and cuts a log out of a downed tree on the side of the road. We rolled it over, put his jack on top, and bam, in business. I start taking the wheel off and, if you can believe it, I broke his tire iron. It was one of those collapsible ones and I wasn't careful and I snapped the head I needed clean off. Fuck.

No worries, he runs to the van, gives it to his wife and she is gone in a flash, down the road to buy a tire iron. She is back in 15 minutes, we finish the job with a little sweat and cussing (stupid log was starting to give), and I am a very happy man. We are both filthy and sweaty. The wife produces a large water jug for us to wash our hands in. I tried to put a 20 in the man's hand but he wouldn't take it so I instead gave it to his wife as quietly as I could. I thanked them up one side and down the other. I asked the little girl where they lived, thinking maybe I could send them a gift for being so awesome. She says they live in Mexico. They are here so mommy and daddy can pick peaches for the next few weeks. After that they are going to pick cherries then go back home. She asks if I have had lunch and when I told her no she gave me a tamale from their cooler, the best fucking tamale I have ever had.

So, to clarify, a family that is undoubtedly poorer than you, me, and just about everyone else on that stretch of road, working on a seasonal basis where time is money, took an hour or two out of their day to help some strange dude on the side of the road when people in tow trucks were just passing me by. Wow...

But we aren't done yet. I thank them again and walk back to my car and open the foil on the tamale cause I am starving at this point and what do I find inside? My fucking $20 bill! I whirl around and run up to the van and the guy rolls his window down. He sees the $20 in my hand and just shaking his head no like he won't take it. All I can think to say is "Por Favor, Por Favor, Por Favor" with my hands out. Dude just smiles, shakes his head and, with what looked like great concentration, tried his hardest to speak to me in English:

"Today you.... tomorrow me."

Rolled up his window, drove away, his daughter waving to me in the rear view. I sat in my car eating the best fucking tamale of all time and I just cried. Like a little girl. It has been a rough year and nothing has broke my way. This was so out of left field I just couldn't deal.
In the 5 months since I have changed a couple of tires, given a few rides to gas stations and, once, went 50 miles out of my way to get a girl to an airport. I won't accept money. Every time I tell them the same thing when we are through:

"Today you.... tomorrow me."

tl;dr: long rambling story about how the kindness of strangers, particularly folks from south of the border, forced me to be more helpful on the road and in life in general. I am sure it won't be as meaningful to anyone else but it was seriously the highlight of my 2010.

Sort of reminds me of Pay It Forward, but without a teary-eyed Haley Joel Osment getting a DUI at the end. So - I'm wondering - does anyone out there have stories in which a total stranger helped you out - or a time when you helped a total stranger?


4 Feb 2011

60s Hair & Classic Cocktail Flair

It should come as no surprise that I'm a fan of Mad Men. It combines so many things that I love: vintage fashion and decor, an exploration of a different time in history, advertising, and scenes with aggressive barfing great writing. I must admit that I'm especially wowed by the styling of the show and even wrote an article about it a few years ago. Naturally, when my friend Siobhan won tickets to an event hosted by the LCBO called Classic Cocktails, an evening that would include special guest, Janie Bryant (the costume designer for Mad Men), I was beyond delighted to attend.

The invitation encouraged guests to arrive in '60s cocktail wear, so I used the event as an excuse to get my hair did (I was also long overdue for a trim. Hello, Split End City). My hair stylist, Lesley, was all too happy to do a retro-inspired 'do, especially since I brought some inspiration - How To Set and Care For Your Hair by Elaine Budd. This booklet is part of a series from The Amy Vanderbilt Success Program for Women from the 1960s. I have a ton of the Amy Vanderbilt booklet series and I'm sure you'll see more of them in the future. They are way too good to not be shared.

Check out some of the 60s hairstyles (with instruction!):

Love it! The lovely people at Mélanger were so pumped about the idea of vintage style that Lexi, the salon's cosmetic darling, did my eyes for free! So nice of her, right?

As it turns out, I really don't have much in the way of 1960s-era clothes. The closest thing I own is a late 1950s dress. In the end, my look was more 50s than 60s, but I decided to convince myself that I was an early 1960s girl figuring that some people were still wearing their clothes from a few years back. I mean, when it was New Years Eve 1990, you didn't suddenly toss out your frayed jean jacket and instantly adopt Hammer Pants, right? (And I actually hope you managed to avoid that look altogether, truth be told.)

So here I am, looking positively late 1950s early 1960s. Oh, if only every day was a dress-up day!

The most impressive thing about my hair style is the back of it - check out this shelf of hair! You could rest a book on it (provided the book was small, like, say, Why I'm Fit to be President by Sarah Palin):
Anyway, off we went to the event at the Carlu. I'm sort of surprised that the LCBO thinks they need to do a whole lot of marketing and put on PR events at all. For one, they have no competitor (bah! I loathe that this province hasn't privatized alcohol!) and two, people will always buy booze. It is the number one recession-proof industry, hands down. But, hey, free drinks for me, so I'll STFU now.

First impressions:
  • Drink tickets? And just two drink tickets each? Two? Who do they think I am, a toddler? Kind of a cheapo move, considering it's obvious the event was basically paid for by the promoted liquor brands ... /whine
  • Adored the selection of drinks, though. I'll happily lap up hard liquor from the carpet so the featured cocktails (including the Moscow Mule, the Negroni, the Tequila Sunrise, the Manhattan, and the Rusty Nail) were fun to dive into and / or look at. I personally went for a Vodka Martini with extra olives and a Negroni. Siobhan opted for a Lime Daiquiri and a Tequila Sunrise. If you love old-timey cocktails check out the free magazine in LCBO stores or Blair Frodelius's website Good Spirits News.
  • Appetizers were darling - a mix of modern and vintage eats were available. Definitely helped myself to my fair share of Monte Cristo bites, deviled eggs and shrimp puffs.
  • A group of outfits from the 1960s were featured in the room. There wasn't any signage about the clothes, so I have no idea if any of these were from the Mad Men closet or if they were just a sampling of fashion from the era. I'm guessing the latter.
  • The crowd consisted largely of girls in their twenties who spent the majority of time giving other girls the look-over and audibly snarking and / or pumping themselves up. I overheard one young pseudo-socialite tell her friend that people are often interested in meeting her because she "has been such an important part in bringing culture to the city." Riiiiight. She shall remain nameless, in large part because I can't remember her name (Newsflash: Toronto socialites are not the hot shit they think they are. Why? It's because they live in freakin' Toronto).
I had hoped that with the right opportunity and a little nerve (I loathe approaching people I don't know), I could get Janie Bryant to sign my copy of the 1969 booklet, How To Be Well Dressed, also from my amazingly fun Amy Vanderbilt Success Program For Women.

Sadly and surprisingly, Janie Bryant didn't give a little speech or mingle with the common folk (If anyone was there and she did actually speak to the crowd, please correct me. I arrived at the event at 7 PM and left at 8:35-ish - right around the time they stopped serving appetizers. It's a TOTAL COINCIDENCE THAT I LEFT THEN, OF COURSE. Heh.). She was instead booked with back-to-back interviews with "media" types who I suspect from their giddiness were mainly bloggers.

Edited to Add: Apparently she *did* do a Q&A right away at the event and we missed it. My bad - but from an event-planning standpoint, that's strange timing.

So, that was kind of disappointing to not get to really hear from her. I took a picture of her though - but from the back. I will say this: The lady has a cute bum:
My rear view of Janie Bryant of Mad Men
With Janie not expected to speak to the crowd, our drink tickets cashed in, and appetizers cruelly disappearing, we decided to get our coats. We made our leave to the Beer Bistro (where I didn't at all look like a lunatic in my dress and hair) where we could have all the drinks we wanted, we just had to pay for them. All in all, a decent night!


3 Feb 2011

... And Also "The End Of Men"

Image Source: CBC.ca
Seems gender roles are a hot little topic nowadays (which is neat as it's something I've thought about more and more since doing The 50s Housewife Experiment). Just this week I mentioned a study and article about the decline of "women's work" - and tonight the CBC is airing a documentary called The End of Men. Gotta love a title that's bound to stir up some controversy (isn't that right, Tiger Mother?).

(Note: I could be wrong, but some of the info in this documentary might already be outlined in the stats-focused article, "The End of Men", that was in The Atlantic last summer. Anyone know for sure?)

Based on the promo, the documentary largely focuses on the effects of the recent US recession and how jobs predominantly held by men have been lost. The film explores how this has impacted the male psyche - one that is arguably or traditionally shaped by his ability to provide for and protect his family.

For some wonky reason, the CBC doesn't allow embedding, but you can see a four-minute clip of the show here. The entire documentary will be loaded on the site after it airs, should you be interested but already have plans to watch The Office or TLC's 12 Little Fudge-Makers And Counting (OK, not a real title, but at this point, anything is possible with TLC).

Because the documentary hasn't aired yet, it's hard to comment on it - but that, of course, hasn't stopped anyone else. I saw a Tweet in response to the doc by someone who was annoyed by the title. The tweet went something like, "End of Men? This should be called the Evolution of Men!" It reminded me of responses to the other article where people applauded women's inability to cook and clean as progress in an evolving society.

Again, I don't see it. Just as I don't see an inability to make a nutritious meal as an accomplishment, I don't really get how it's progress for millions of people to be out of work or for a chunk of their identity to be ripped away from them. I see progress as both men and women gaining new opportunities, abilities, representation and choices regardless of gender.

Is a recession that forces men into a position where they become a homemaker (or underemployed) the catalyst for our society to see this "role reversal" as a viable, long-term option? Is it an unexpected opportunity for men and society as a whole to "re-wire" themselves from believing that "real men" need to work outside of the home? In a way, it's not entirely unlike how the demands of World War II suddenly encouraged women to join the work force. I don't know the answers - but from watching the promo, I don't see too many of these men rejoicing in it. I don't think it's because they're chauvinists - I think it's because they didn't get to make the choice. And isn't 'choice' truly the jewel of an evolved society?

Anyhoo - if you tune in, let me know what you think of it. Je suis curious. I'll be taping it - not because I'll be watching something else - but because I get to go to a fun Mad Men-inspired event held by the LCBO tonight. My choice is to get my booze on. Yay! (And will blog about that later!)


1 Feb 2011

This Just In: "Women's Work" On The Decline

Who the hell vacuums linoleum?
Image Source: news.com.au
There was a study done recently in Australia regarding "Male and Female Roles in the 21st Century" that people are pooping their pants over, so I thought I'd share it with you.

Ready for your own bowel movement? Here's how the findings were described in an article in The Sunday Mail, "Generation Y women losing 'female' skills such as cooking, ironing and sewing."

BASIC "female" skills are becoming endangered with fewer young women able to iron a shirt, cook a roast chicken or hem a skirt.

Just as more modern men are unable to complete traditional male tasks, new research shows Generation Y women can't do the chores their mothers and grandmothers did daily, reported The Courier-Mail.

Only 51 per cent of women aged under 30 can cook a roast compared with 82 per cent of baby boomers.

Baking lamingtons is a dying art with 20 per cent of Gen Y capable of whipping up the Aussie classic, down from 45 per cent for previous generations.

Social researcher Mark McCrindle said: "Women of today tend to be busier, juggling more roles, and are quite prepared to compromise a bit of the homemade just to save some time.

"They also have a lot more disposable income compared with their mums and their grandmothers so buying a cake mix or lamingtons ready-made is not a big deal."

Traditional skills outside the kitchen are falling by the wayside with Gen Y women woefully behind their older counterparts, the study by McCrindle Research found. Only 23 per cent can grow a plant from a cutting when 78 per cent of older women say this is a breeze.

"We live in a throw-away culture where, rather than repair something, we will buy a new one, even if it is just a matter of darning holes or sewing on buttons," Mr McCrindle said.

"As such, many women have lost these skills. If we do want something repaired, women today are more likely to take it to their local drycleaner because they are busy and can afford it."

Driving manual cars is also on the decline with just 40 per cent of women under 30 possessing this skill compared to 71 per cent of older women.

The results tally with a recent survey, which found that Australian men from Gen Y were more comfortable changing a nappy than changing a tyre.

But Gen Y women are taking on other skills.

As well as working full or part-time, they are doing tasks previously done by men.

More than 70 per cent of women under 30 say they often take out the bins, 77 per cent mow the lawn and 70 per cent claim they wash the car.
Even more entertaining than the article are the comments. They range from people raging out over the fact that cooking and cleaning are being referred to as "female" skills, men bemoaning the loss of domestically-minded wives, women bemoaning the loss of 'handy' husbands, and people making fun of Gen Y as a whole.

I'm on Team Mock The Twenty-somethings. When you look at the study and see what fantastic things Gen Y'ers can do, the following accomplishments are listed:
  • 100% (of surveyed Gen Y women) can upload a photo to Facebook (compared to 58% of Boomers)
  • 94.3% can text a picture from a mobile phone (compared to 52.6% of Boomers)
  • 91.4% can pay a bill online (compared to 77.6% of Boomers)
  • 85.7% can book a restaurant online (compared to 57% of Boomers)
Congrats, Gen Y, your skill is the ability to press a button. *Slow clap*

Of course, most twenty-somethings I know can do more than that - but it's fair to say that the "domestic arts" have taken a backseat to other things in life. The fact that it took my goofy 50s Housewife Experiment to get me to clean the oven for the first time in years is pretty evident of that - but I don't particularly think that's something to be proud of.

Many of the comments after that article suggest the fact that women aren't versed in so-called "female" skills is progress - and I'm baffled by that, frankly. While I applaud and rally for gender equality (in both the home and work), it seems the thing that's bringing men and women closer together is our shared inability to do anything.

Can't cook? Just blow your money on take-out and processed crap!
Can't clean, iron a shirt or mow your lawn? Just put it on your credit card!
Can't fix anything? Just toss it in the dump and buy a new one!

How evolved of us. Is there any wonder why we're increasingly becoming a fat, broke and polluted society?

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Need words? I'm a Toronto-based freelance writer who injects great ones into blogs, websites, magazines, ads and more. So many services, one lovely Jen (with one 'n').

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