Lists, Miscellanea, Reviews

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts

I seriously considered making this the “Gender Edition” because this has been an interesting (or ridiculous, whatever) week for the topic – as hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous. It also happens to be one that fascinates me. I promise to go slightly more bookish next week. This brings me to one of my first worries, that I veer too far from books too frequently. However I’d like to think that many of the women present in the online bookish community are interested in gender issues as well. In fact, a few of the stories below were shared by three women I follow (IsiKate, and Mel). So thanks you three (#10, #4, and #6 respectively).

Loveinthewoods

Best friends or couple?

10. As it turns out, men and women CAN be friends. However, should they? Probably not, studies say. Studies have found that there is usually some underlying attraction between friends, usually from the men. Men routinely overestimate their attractiveness (to women) while women routinely underestimate their attractiveness (to men). The last part I can see being true.

The rest garnered eye rolls. Growing up, from age 6 to my teenage years, my best friend was male. And we were just that, best friends. Not once were there underlying Dawson Creek-esque feelings going on, although there were more than a few platonic sleepovers. And you know what, his wife is really nice. We’re still friendly. Are we not as close because he’s married? Nope, we just drifted apart. The same goes for my friendships as an adult, several are male and we manage to co-exist just fine – without any awkward pining.

9. If you read nothing else on here, read the comments on this article, they’re the best I’ve read in ages. Your Vagina Isn’t Just Too Big, Too Floppy, and Too Hairy – It’s Also Too Brown.

8. It gets better. Apparently men with attractive wives are happier than if their wives are unattractive. Also, it doesn’t matter for women. “What Meltzer and her team discovered was that spousal attractiveness does play a major role in marital satisfaction — but only for men. In other words, men care about looks more than women do.” I’m glad to have confirmation of what I’ve always believed: men are indeed the shallowest of creatures – according to studies… Do I actually believe this? No…most of the time.

7. I think the world would be a better place if all guys felt like this. ‘I like A Girl Who Reads Is The Anthem Every Bookworm Needs To Hear’ (probably not work appropriate).

So earlier in the week when I used deliquescent in a sentence and a guy laughed at me, it was really because he found me attractive, right?

6. This guy is doing it right. (Image)

Note

5. What’s happened to Kate? Why does she look so tired? 

(Is anyone really surprised women have self-esteem issues? She just had a baby, she looks great. The end. To reinforce the first part of my parenthetical statement, there are people in this world who are bashing a woman who looks better than me and I don’t even have a 4 month old keeping me up at night.)

4. Hey, something bookish: National Book Award Winner. (And I’ve already read and reviewed it. Win.)

3. I’ve mentioned that I’m not good at taking compliments. I get all awkward, or at least more awkward (tangentially related, why does awkward only look cute on Zooey Deschanel?). I received two unusual compliments this week. The first, I have a nice walk (it’s delicate, apparently). The second, I smell fluffy. Any guesses as to what fluffy smells like? Because you know I ruined the moment and asked.

2. Has anyone ever created a soundtrack for their life? Lori and I were talking about what songs to include and now I really want to start on it (I semi-started on it in the comments section of Empire Falls if anyone is dying to know that Bob Dylan is indeed on there). Apparently there are steps to doing so… (These wouldn’t work for me.)

1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who wonders about Back to the Future – like how come they’re never curious as to why their son looks exactly like that dude they knew in high school?. Why ‘Back to the Future’ Is Secretly Horrifying.

So…fluffy, anyone? And can men and women be friends? When Harry Met Sally would say no, but I’m in trouble if we can’t (mostly because I’d lose my best friend).

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  • http://btweenthecovers.com/ Heather

    For my whole life so far, most of my good friends have been guys. Only a couple of them have had an issue with having a crush on me at some point. One of my best friends is a man, and we’ve never had an issue with our friendship. I can’t say that he’s not attracted to me (I don’t know), but he’s never said anything of the sort. We get along smashingly.

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      Same here, it only now that my female friendships are starting to come close to my male friendships (my best friend is a guy, and barring a cataclysmic disagreement I foresee it staying that way). My outlook and preferences tend to be on the more masculine side of things, I hate even saying that, but stereotypically speaking it’s true. I can’t say I’ve never had issues. One friend in particular there was some attraction, we tried dating, it didn’t work out and went back to being friends (who knew an awfully lot about each other). It was never an issue after that.

  • http://www.caffeinatedlife.net/blog Lianne @ caffeinatedlife.net

    For some reason the how-to instructions to making a soundtrack to your life was not quite what I expected, lol (err, clearly the coffee hasn’t kicked in for me yet). But hmm, never thought of constructing one before, at least in reflection of my life (though at the end of the year I usually compile a list of songs that I’ve listened to the most over the course of the year).

    I can’t believe #5 is even a question for all of the reasons you stated (she just had a baby, she looks great, etc.)

    I can never quite figure out how to respond to people who make compliments. lol, fluffy, eh? That’s a unique one :)

    Love #6 😀

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      I didn;t like those instructions at all, but seeing as someone actually put together a how-to, I felt like I should share it. My life soundtrack would be made up more of songs that meant a lot to me at one time or another.

      #5 makes me so mad. The pressure women face in regards to physical appearance is already extreme (I feel), why make it worse?

      I’m not good with compliments. But fluffy? I had to laugh, which was not the reaction the person was going for. How about a simple “you smell nice” (if you’re going to comment on it in the first place)?

  • http://froodianpseudoanalysis.wordpress.com DrFrood

    2 studies – 82 couples (to find out if men were more likely to help out their wives depending on attractiveness) and this one, following 450 couples over several years (I had to give them money to access the study proper so no idea what the other parameters of the experiment were).

    Aaaaannnd I no longer have the energy to pick fights with these types of ‘scientific’ study.

    To be fair, lots of studies have found an apparent high correlation between male happiness, male self-esteem and perceived male success relative to others, so the conclusions that some have tentatively drawn are that male feelings of self-worth and happiness are more dependant on whether they feel like they’re winning compared to other men. And given the premium placed on female beauty and male power in our society it seems just as likely to say (assuming we don’t simply sneer at the pretend science on display in these studies) that men with hot wives feel on some level like they’ve achieved some level of success, brutally sexist though that might sound. So it’s not the hotness or otherwise (and who’s measuring the hotness?!) so much as what it says about those particular chaps.

    Patriarchy’s a bitch…

    I read Ablutions on your recommendation by the by, very much enjoyed it (I think you’re absolutely spot on about it being about the right length though) so thanks for the heads up.

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      Part of my issue is that I hate read these, so I don’t have the right mind set to be fair (I do this with political articles too, which is also problematic). I didn’t even check what the parameters of these particular studies are. I’m more amazed that they are funded in the first place. It’s hard to get funding. In the last two years, I’ve only won two grants for small amounts to do (or in my case preserve) work that is of historical value. So when I see studies like this that are so well funded, I…don’t get it (as in of course men like it when their wives are hot, I’d want my husband to think I’m hot too). I guess I don’t see the value in confirming common sense…?

      So you’re telling me it’s about competition? Because I could see that.

      Excellent, I’m glad you liked it. People always say they’re going to read a book (if you ever scroll through book blog comments, everyone always says they’ll read it), it’s nice when someone actually does and doesn’t hate it.

  • http://turnthepagereviews.com Turn the Page Reviews

    Not sure if I agree with 8 totally- my husband just shaved the beard he has had for 20 years off- I almost can’t look at him. Can I put Rogaine on his face? Thankfully he is growing it back now. Not that he looks bad- he looks like a stranger.
    And I think fluffy would smell like angel food cake, no?

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      Haha. Women can be shallow too 😉

      Although I’m opposite of you, I hate facial hair, it drives me mad (still love the Red Sox though)…

      I have a coworker whose wife has never seen him without a beard in the 40 years they’ve been married. That’s beard dedication.

      Fluffy apparently smells like lilac. Who knew!

  • http://wensenddotcom1.wordpress.com Wendy @ Wensend

    The poem/video about girls who read is awesome. I shared it on my fb. :) And also, I think men and women can be friends, but it depends on the person. I have a lot of male friends, but some I don’t trust with some things. As in: I won’t sleep over at their place after we’ve gone out, because I know what they’re like and I don’t want to get in awkward situations. But with some of them it’s completely fine and I feel safe. Does that sound stupid?

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      I agree, but I think all friendships depend on the person (regardless of gender).

      I don’t think it sounds stupid, as long as you’re referring to not giving them the wrong impression (versus thinking they might not take no for an answer). It is awkward when people get the idea you might be interested in more when you are not (it’s as equally frustrating when you are interested in someone and they won’t take the hint). I have a coworker who offers to go to lunch with me and I keep telling him no. It’s not sinking in. Sigh.

      • http://wensenddotcom1.wordpress.com Wendy @ Wensend

        Yeah that’s so annoying. Especially since I have a boyfriend and everybody knows that. But I still don’t want to give off the wrong signal.

  • http://sowenswrites.com Samantha

    That note about the girl reading is so cute.

    As soon as I got over the awkward “omg I like guys as more than just friends!” in like seventh grade, my best friends and people I hung out with most were guys. I’ve always had a hard time getting along with girls, and am always a little wary and a little scared of what they think of me. Guys are so chill and you can just make jokes and kick back and it’s no big deal. I’ve definitely had guy friends I was attracted to but would never act on (I think attraction and actually “liking” are two very different things) and guys that were solidly, platonically friends. I also can’t speak to whether they were attracted to me or not, but I definitely think it’s possible. We’re all just people, after all. Gender differences or not.

    And now that I’ve written a book, I’m off to read #9. Hee.

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      I think girls are harder to get along with because we’re harder on ourselves. Sometimes women just seem to be in one big competition with each other, I don’t get it. What I like more about guys is there tends to be a what you see is what you get attitude. That’s all I want.

      And I agree, I think attraction and liking someone are very different. I find all sorts of things and people attractive, some physically, some intellectually, etc.

      My favorite comment from #9 was this one:
      “Hey all, avid vagina-enthusiast and lifelong penis-owner here.

      Before my wife and I were married, I had sex with other women. I know, shocking. Anyway, of those other women, every single one had a vagina. Bear with me, shit gets even crazier. Still with me? Good. Of those other women’s vaginas, every single one was different.

      I just blew your mind, for sure, but if there’s still a few brain cells un-blown – here is the real kicker: the color of all of those vaginas (regardless of the race of the woman they were attached to) never occurred to me until I read this. Never. Not once.

      The most important things about genitalia (male and female), in order, according to KiddicusMaximus:

      1) Its existence

      2) Your willingness to share it

      3) Cleanliness (STD kind)

      4) Odor

      5) Grooming

      734,201) Color”

      Because his list is dead on. The rest doesn’t apply to me. 😉

  • http://picturemereading.wordpress.com picturemereading

    This is so fascinating because I was listening to the radio and a very similar conversation about women vs. Men was happening…especial ly as regards fidelity…hearing the men talk was depressing…there was a lot of talk about how men are no naturally monogamous…that they are hunters..that women need to accept that and not assume because they are dating you long term it doesn’t mean they are just dating you…it made me mad..it does make me wonder how much is societal vs. Genetic imperative..

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      I hate that argument. Passionately. Because holy shit, monogamy and fidelity are choices you make. It may be a choice you have to make every single day. There may be moments when you want someone other than your spouse. But if you decided to get married and/or enter into a long term relationship, you made that commitment and you need to stick to it. If you choose to break that commitment behind your partner’s back, don’t blame it on biology. I don’t care if it is a genetic imperative, because it is absolutely one that can be overruled by reason.

      On that note, men wonder how they got the reputation as pigs. This certainly doesn’t apply to all men, but the ones who will still use the argument that it’s not natural to be monogamous to excuse cheating irk me. How do you accidentally sleep with someone else? As far as my knowledge goes, it’s a fairly involved process.

  • http://www.bookishlyboisterous.blogspot.com Christine @ BookishlyB

    So many good things on this list! One of my best friends is a guy (who happens to now be dating one of my best female friends) and it has definitely raised some eyebrows in the past, especially since we became friends maybe 8 years ago while teaching at the same school. The older I get the less I care!

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      If they get married that could be a lot of fun!

      I go back and forth, sometimes I care (too much) and sometimes I can’t even muster up the energy to give a shit. I should probably go for some sort of balance, though I did give up trying to please everyone a long time ago. It’s not worth losing sleep over, though worry is my middle name.

  • http://www.thebookwheelblog.com Allison @ The Book Wheel

    That book note is genius. I’d go out with him (well, if I was single and that happened to me, which of course it didn’t). As for fluffy, I have no idea what that smells like but maybe it means clean laundry?

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      Fluffy smells like lilac, apparently.

      That book note – sigh – I appreciate any guy who thinks watching a girl read is attractive. I’d go out with him too, he’s obviously brilliant.

      • http://www.thebookwheelblog.com Allison @ The Book Wheel

        Hmm. Lilac. Not what I would have expected.

        • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

          Me either. I think I sort of mumbled, “um, okay…” and said thanks.

  • http://sarahsaysread.com Sarah Says Read

    The men and women being friends thing is tricky – I always assume that there’s some underlying attraction there somewhere, from at least one of the people. I have this debate with my sister a lot. And most of that other gender stuff is just sad and frustrating, especially the Kate Middleton thing.

    I don’t know how much I believe #8. I mean, I would assume that people are kind of happier in their marriage if they think their spouse is good looking, because being attracted to your spouse and having a good sex life probably contributes to marital happiness for BOTH people. I know that I love how handsome my honeyman is, and I like showing him off 😉

    #6 is adorable.

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      I do think it depends on the people involved. And if you happen to fall for each other, well, I do think people can be held responsible for who they fall in love with (what they do about it is a different story). I think there is underlying attraction too, but I’d like to think that’s because there are usually attractive things about the people you’re friends with – why else would you be friends? (i.e. being a good friend is an attractive quality in and of itself)

      I tend to be a little dense when it comes to levels of attraction and I’m not the type to ever, EVER make the first move (thankfully I’ve never had to). I think it stems from fairly low self-esteem on my part (as in I can’t imagine why a particular person would be attracted to me, but it’s something I work on).

      Studies like #8 just drive me insane. I feel like it’s confirming common sense. Relationships are better when you are attracted to your partner – of course! And yes, your honeyman is quite handsome. :)

  • http://ofbooks.org Alice

    10. Oh the age old women and men friend debate, I think it’s a mixture depending on the man or woman. I have male friends I’ve once been attracted to and those I haven’t. Either way, if it doesn’t damage the friendship does it matter? I suppose it depends on the depth of feeling….

    7. I can’t watch the youtube vid here at work as I can’t hear it, but if it is Mark Grist’s poem I know it makes me very happy.

    6. *Swoon*

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