this has been bugging me

So, way back when 50 Shades of Grey first hit the bookstores, before I knew it was a Twilight fanfic originally titled Master of the Universe, there was a description of it that I heard over and over again. This book, apparently, was a love story between the protagonist and a successful older man, and the kinky voyage they took toward true love. This basic plotline was sketched out basically every review I came across of the book a few months back.

I assumed, from that brief tagline, that the love interest was about 50 or so. Maybe 40. But old, somewhere between 40 and 55 — distinguished, looks like George Clooney or Brad Pitt, imposing, successful, etc. etc. Not my kink, but hot. So you can imagine my confusion when I discovered that Christian Grey is 27, which is hardly an “older man.” Maybe if you’re 17, but Ana (the protagonist) is something like 22-24. She’s a college graduate, for crying out loud — maybe lacking in employment (and apparently sexual) experience, but hardly a child. Plus, she and Christian are right in the normal age range for dating.

Naturally, I figured I’d misunderstood all those taglines and reviews, until I started reading Jennifer Armintrout’s chapter-by-chapter review and analysis of the 50 Shades series, and saw that it is apparently a recurring theme for Ana to refer to Christian as an older man.

I remembered that today because our copy of People magazine arrived for the office, featuring an interview with Brad Pitt. Brad Pitt is about to turn 50 years old, and his fiancee (Angelina Jolie) is 37. This is perfectly normal and accepted, yet somehow E.L. James thinks it’s relatable to write a 20-something character who thinks a 3-5 year age gap is just insane. I just find that really interesting.


I figured out what it is that pisses me off so much about my sacred texts class. It’s not the texts, or the fact that the professor seems hostile to disagreement with her interpretation of said texts. It’s not the amount of readings assigned for a 4 credit course.

All these factors play into my dislike for the course, but they would be surmountable if it weren’t for the main issue: The course was advertised as a critical review of religious literature:

“This survey of the world’s sacred texts and spiritual traditions will explore their poetic and literary influence, past and present. . . . what impact have sacred texts had on the psyche, imagination, and social or political understanding of peoples, ancient and modern?  How have sacred texts and stories evolved over time? How have they been passed on through oral and literary traditions and through words and images? What is their role in developing culture, identity, and community? How do they frame philosophical, moral, ethical, and spiritual insights?”

See, that sounds like a critical deconstruction of sacred texts. It sounds like we would be comparing and contrasting different traditions; like we would be teasing out the similarities and differences. It sounds like an interesting and educational course.

Instead, it feels basically a missionary class for Eastern religious traditions. It’s all about connecting to our inner chi or tao or yoga, meditating, and the benefits of a spiritual journey. There’s no critical deconstruction of the texts; just fawning over how masterful and wise the Eastern enlightenment traditions are. I could have signed up for a yoga class and gotten the same new age bullshit, but for considerably less money and time (not to mention less reading). I could have joined a church and gotten the same level of indoctrination pressure. It’s annoying, and it feels like a waste of time, money, and education. I’m almost pissed these credits will be on my transcript, and I’m seriously considering dropping the class.

I’m hoping that when we start looking at the medieval christian texts, the class will take a sharp turn for rational, critical literary deconstruction instead of these oohs and ahhhs about how wise and spiritual the Buddhist/ Hindu/ Native traditions are.

#419: My friend’s jokes are The Worst. Also, why do we talk about ending friendships forever so much on this blog?

I love this blog, this entry, this everything.

Captain Awkward

Dear Captain Awkward:

I have a friend who makes rape jokes and other sexual jokes that make me uncomfortable. I’ve repeatedly asked him to stop, and he still says this kind of stuff. Also, he touches my arm when we talk and I don’t like it. What I like about our friendship is that he lives across the hall from me, and he’s there to help me when I need stuff, like putting together furniture, or carrying things when I injured my leg. I’m shy, and my social life has been really slow lately because I injured my leg and was stuck at home a lot. I also really enjoy having a friend who is close by and easy to hang out with and see. He works in the same field as me (I’m a programmer) so it’s also nice to be able to discuss work-related things. But he makes…

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