Playing a Player: The Big Bad Wolf

VANESSA SMEETS

 

Beast/ wolf-man

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: Beneath the exterior of Mr Nice Guy, there's the beast who is able to steal your heart and eat your dreams. The band Duck Sauce has opened up a whole new debate: What if this beast is woman, not man? PIC: Online/ Wolf-man movie

The new Duck Sauce song “Big Bad Wolf” is bringing the notion of ‘player’ to a whole new level: that it can apply both to men and women.

The video is 18-rated for explicitly showing men on the prowl, hunting for hot girls. After finding the chosen targets in a bar, the ‘leader of the pack’ unzips his pants and you are horrified to find a head in the place of his “package.” The second guy follows suit and their heads howl in unison towards the ladies. They take them home and, shockingly, the women also have heads instead of their ‘delicate areas.’

Ah, the bitter-sweet wolf-whistle. Some girls thrive on its power to make you feel sexy, others hate it for demeaning women as pieces of meat. For many girls, the video shows the disturbing truth of being confronted by sex every day. You cannot wear cleavage, a short skirt or red lipstick without being stared at constantly. But, the video also shows another interesting dynamic: women who think more like men about sex. The girls in the video are just as keen to partake in making out and sleeping with the lustful heads.

But, is this the effect guys anticipate? A guy friend once told me:

“Girls don’t dress that way (short skirts, red lipstick) for guys. They wear that for each other. It’s a constant competition of who is hotter and who can keep your attention for longer.”

Duck Sauce wolf

MIND GAMES: Are men and women thinking more and more alike? The new song "Big Bad Wolf" argues yes. PIC: Online

What the other guys say:

“Dressing sexy may attract me. But personality is what keeps me.”

“Girls are thinking more like men. It’s all about: ‘I am hot. I need sex.’ While the men are thinking: Damn! My heart will be broken again.”

“The more skin I see, the more I lack respect. Come on, leave something to the imagination!”

“Girls must stop thinking I want to talk dirty constantly. Sometimes ‘How was your day?’ will just be as meaningful. Knowing you care about me is a massive turn on all on its own.”

“She broke up with me when I told her I needed a break from all the sex. Yeah, it hurts at times down there! She didn’t believe me, thought I had someone on the side…”

“I can’t take it when I’m in a club enjoying the music and some random girl rubs herself against my crotch. I’ve been slapped for not reacting. Sometimes I just wanna listen to the music!”
“I think Cosmo and programmes like Sex and the City are breeding the man-eater generation. She wants sex with Mr Right Now, not Mr Right.”

“I’m scared of those girls who plaster themselves in make-up and expect you to take them home. I just want the real deal, stop trying to give me America’s Next Top Model wannabe.”

“Women are the hunters these days, but I still wanna do the chasing. There’s no fun in it being the other way around. I’ll lose interest too quickly.”

“Girls these days keep asking me if I’m a T ‘n T (Tits or Toosh/ Ass) guy. They are horrified to find I’m a smile or eyes kind of guy. Those attributes keep me dreaming…”

The better to smell you with

This miscommunication between men and women may have been caused by the girl’s unfortunate meeting with “the Big Bad Wolf,” once upon a time. This is the guy who’s been emotionally present in a girl’s life for a few weeks, months or even years. He listens to her problems, comforts her with the right words and NEVER makes any comments on her physique.

She comes to believe that he is neutral; that, unlike other guys, he really cares about her. Indeed, he does. It boosts his ego to know how powerful he is to her. She makes the fatal mistake of idolising him.

wolf pack

MOB HYSTERIA: Are men or women more dangerous when they hunt in packs? Who does the chasing, after all? PIC: Online

The better to see you with

This was the case for Michelle. For two and a half years, she dated such a man. At first, their relationship was based on duty and role-play.

She had to clean his flat, massage him and give up her friends to make time for him. Slowly, their relationship transitioned into something romantic, only he would control her by never kissing her on the lips. He only kissed her when she was “well behaved” i.e. when she did exactly as she was told.

She didn’t realise she was just another girl and just another trophy. He never openly flirted with anyone, but his charm kept his popularity intact. She continued to believe they were a happy couple, when in fact it was the most torturous emotional prison. She soon lost her friends, identity and almost her life. After their twentieth break-up , she tried to commit suicide.

Beast

TRUE LOVE: Little girls are led to believe that true love can break any spell and Prince Charming will one day magically appear. PIC: Online/ Beauty and The Beast Disney movie

The better to eat you with

The Big Bad Wolf comes in various forms:

  • Mr Nice Guy: He listens diligently and has the kindest eyes. He also writes to you regularly. You come to believe he truly cares about you. But, one night, you spot him kissing someone else. He casually explains you guys were just friends anyway. You fall for those kind eyes again… until you see him kissing yet another girl the next week and the next.
  • Sweet Talker: He’s full of amazing compliments (mostly about your intelligence/ ambition/ ideals) and takes you for midnight rides in his Merc or BMW. You really believe you are special to him. One night, he kisses you passionately, then asks for your best friend’s number the next time you meet up.
  • Adonis: You meet him at gym. A few months later, he becomes your Personal Trainer after casual talks outside. One night, he asks you out for a glass of wine and takes you back to his place instead. He removes his shirt and casually says: “You can look, but don’t touch: I’ve been in a relationship for five years. But, G*d, you smell good…”
  • Prince Charming: He’s the geeky guy at work that helped fix your car, your computer and your bad back. What talented fingers! One night, you invite him out to thank him. He shows up with his boyfriend. Arghhh….
  • Night Knight: He’s your ex-flame who calls you up each time he’s in town. Each time you tell him no, he ends up sending you something sentimental: the clip of the first song you danced to, a bottle of the perfume you wore when you first met. His memory is excellent, but luckily so is yours…

Blogger Generation

VANESSA SMEETS

This is my first class blog, presented to my Erasmus Mundus classmates from the Journalism, Media and Globalisation programme 2011-2013. I discuss the workshop from this evening, which focused on Blogging&Tweeting: how to blog, the history of blogs, the blog definition, etc…

I also include a list of which people blog in the class, as well as addresses to fascinating blogs. The reader is also given instructions on how to blog efficiently and effectively using WordPress.

Blogger Generation.

Happily Divorced?

VANESSA SMEETS

 

Divorce

TORN APART: Divorce continues to have repercussions on children, even in adulthood. PIC: online

Emma was just eight years old when she realised her parents’ marriage had ended.
At first, it was through subtle signs: constant arguing over new toys, the silent treatment, lack of time and increasing lack of temper. She even found herself counting the number of times they would fight a day: once, twice or at every meal. The last sign hurt the deepest: she placed their hands together at church and they pulled them apart.


From an early age, she had realised it wasn’t an easy marriage. She sometimes felt like her birth and the birth of her brother had been ways for them to stay together.
Little did she know her 8th birthday would remain the most significant birthday of her life:

“It was the happiest day of my life. Mom and Dad had gone out of their way to make me happy. Maybe they knew it would be my last birthday with both of them present.”

Family divorce

GAME OVER: Children often find themselves as the pawns in their parents' failed marriage. GRAPHIC: Vanessa Smeets

All of her friends from school were invited to the first pool party of the year. It was finally spring in South Africa! Her dad looked after everyone swimming, while her mom made sure everyone had enough fun games in the garden: playing catchers, throwing each other with flour and eating a lot of cake.

Six months later, Emma was in a new house.


“When is Daddy joining us?”
“He’s not coming, sweetheart. We’re now divorced.”
Divorced? What’s that?”

Divorce: she had heard about it at school: Teacher Sarah can’t come to school. She got divorced.
It sounded like a horrid contagious disease.

“Mommy, is it a disease? Are you sick?”
“No, not really. The marriage is sick. It’s when a marriage doesn’t work anymore.”
“If it’s broken, it can always be fixed.”

“No, darling. This time we can’t fix it. It’s when two people who once loved each other go their separate ways.”

Loved. Separate. The words spun around in her head.
“You and Daddy don’t love each other anymore?”
“It’s complicated. We still love you and your brother. That will never change. We are doing this because we love you both.”

For a child, this was extremely hard to comprehend. How could taking away the love between two parents be love in the end?
It took years for Emma to understand. She asked her father about it. For the first time in her life, she saw tears in his eyes:

“It’s complicated. You’ll understand when you’re older.”

Family divorce

KIDREAM: Children often believe their parents will get back together, no matter the circumstances. GRAPHIC: Vanessa Smeets

“DON’T DO THIS TO ME!” she screamed in her head, but didn’t dare tell him.

Those words haunted her for the next few years. It hurt that her parents saw her too little to understand. She was old enough to understand the silence was painful and that she and her sibling were caught somewhere in between a silent war.
They never really spoke of how it fell apart, so in her mind Emma believed it was her fault:
Maybe I should have never kept that dog that made Daddy so angry.
Maybe if I had been a top swimmer like he wanted me to be, he would’ve stayed.
Maybe I shouldn’t have teased my brother so much. Mommy wouldn’t have had to protect him so much from Dad’s harsh words.
Maybe we shouldn’t have been so spoilt; maybe he would have made more time for us.

It took almost a decade for Emma to stop waiting at the phone or door-step for her dad’s visit, or to stop visiting her old house which was only two blocks away. She had to let go of those memories, because they became increasingly bitter.
The shared custody was the worst. She dreaded each weekend in her old house. The walls were cold and the memories were stale. Even running around the garden was a constant struggle of juggling new memories with old ones.
It made it easier when her father moved away. Although she missed him everyday, she could create new memories each time they saw each other.

Ten years later, she asked her father for that chat he promised her years ago. She slowly made peace with all of it and realised it was indeed love in the end. Although it took years for her parents to make peace, it finally happened. Being friends was more loving than a tense and uncomfortable marriage. They were there at her 21st, at her graduation and even when she fell extremely ill.
Emma also finally made peace with the lost little girl inside of her, explaining:

“Two people you love dearly don’t necessarily have to be together. They remain great parents, separately. Once upon a time, they were deeply and passionately in love, but changing lifestyles and conflicting personalities pulled them apart. Not you.”

She continued: “Look at them now, talking and laughing. Those present memories are just as precious. Maybe one day, you and I will be brave enough to love too…again.

Advice to divorced parents:

  • Do not keep it a secret or wait until the last minute.
  • Tell your child together with your spouse.
  • Keep things simple and straight-forward.
  • Tell them the divorce is not their fault.
  • Admit that this will be sad and upsetting for everyone.
  • Reassure your child that you both still love them and will always be their parents.
  • Do not discuss each other’s faults or problems with the child.
    Source: the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/children_and_divorce

Through the ages

How children react to divorce depends on their ages:
Infants
lack the cognitive development to understand what is happening, but they sense and react to changes in emotions and energy levels of their parents.
Preschool children may fear abandonment and often feel they are the reason for the divorce, by misbehaving in some way.
Preadolescent children have a better understanding of the divorce, but also greater self-awareness of their own pain.
Teens can feel overwhelmed with the stress, anxiousness and loss of parental support in coping with becoming an adult.

family divorce

WHOSE FAULT IS IT ANYWAY? Graphic: Vanessa Smeets

Divorce Facts:

  • Divorce can be either fault-based or no-fault. Fault-based means that you will have to prove your spouse is to blame, through: adultery, abuse or addiction. No-fault means that no one is to blame, claiming “irreconcilable differences.”
  • Couples who live together before getting married are more likely to divorce.
  • Children living with only one parent are more likely to suffer from poor health.
  • Divorced people are more likely to suffer from mental illness, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic conditions. This is caused in part by the stress and long lasting trauma of divorce and the fact that married couples tend to have better health habits and thus live a cleaner and healthier lifestyle. Source: http://www.divorceadviceformentoday.com/divorce-facts