Children of women and men

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By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. January 20, 2016

When China enforced the one-child policy in the late ’70s, few foresaw the gender imbalance that resulted from it. In Chinese culture, the male gender was preferred. The male gender had privileges. It is a sexist ideal that is slowly but surely fading, but it is not without consequences. The result is a high number of men without mates. This is more than a crisis of dudes not getting laid; it’s a problem of humanity. Humans are creatures that function naturally as couples, and with the disruption of nature, these men will live, grow old, and die single—unhealthily.

Today, we are on the precipice of making the same mistake in a number of ways. A recent report from The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees cited that 58 per cent of refugees from the Middle East into Europe are men; 17 per cent are women. It has been considered dangerous for women to migrate alone. Oftentimes, they wait for a male counterpart, such as a husband, brother, or father, to arrive in the new country first and then send for them afterward. What we need to do now is better understand the process of migrating for women. What is the procedure of entry? What is being implemented in order to protect them? I’m sure there is little being done.

Closer to home, we are not without gender imbalance of our own. Many high-level occupations are still considered boys’ clubs, creating a classic glass ceiling. While it may seem like an easy barrier to break, it isn’t; it takes generations and it begins while women are young. Empowerment is not a phase. It’s not something someone grows into. It’s a way of living. When girls and boys are brought up to have aspirations of running a company and to value collaborating with the opposite sex instead of against them, we can be assured that those lessons will follow them even after they grow out of adolescence.

However, those same lessons are changing the conventional values of men and women. Women who aspire to start a company and be more selective with mates are less likely to get married young and are less likely to have children. But this is, again, more than a problem of dudes not getting laid.

While we may believe our population will be on a constant rise, that isn’t true. It is believed that the human population will plateau at around 9 billion—from there, whether it holds steady or decreases is up to the push of the next generation. But for so many years men have treated women as nothing but birthing mechanisms. I can only hope that the population will decrease for that case, so that that cultural ideal can die.

The one-child policy was not a bad idea. It was the culture that failed it. If China valued women the same as men, would such gender imbalance happen? In Europe and the Middle East, gender-imbalance for refugees didn’t happen because women were meek, but because the culture targeted women as sexual objects. In the western world, women weren’t CEOs because they weren’t smart and savvy; it was because they were told they had to raise a family. They don’t.

This cultural shift will mean that people on Earth, male or female, will have more resources. And those same men and women will be empowered to make the most of their existence. As people, we need to do more than multiply.

I’m not a creep; I’m not a weird-oh

Male fear of being labeled a creep is the creepiest thing of all

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By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published by The Other Press. September 30, 2014

Boys, have you ever been talking to a girl and suddenly have a thought pop into your head? You know, the one that says: “She’s not interested in you. She doesn’t want to talk to you. You should probably just leave.” Of course, this anxiety is normal. But feeling nervous is one thing, letting it sink in and destroy you is another.

Once that thought materializes it’s hard to overcome it, but understand this: if you aren’t able to rise above that thought, you have officially self-destructed. So please, do walk away before your lack of confidence rips you open and causes you to bleed anxiety all over the sweet girl. It doesn’t matter if she was interested in you or not, whether you were just chatting or if you were flirting, you cannot sell what you aren’t persuaded by yourself.

The overwhelming fear of being labeled a “creep” is what keeps most men from approaching women—not the other way around. So stop identifying everything you do as creepy. Making eye contact with a woman is not creepy. Asking a woman a question is not creepy. Being engaged in a conversation is not creepy. The only thing that is creepy is the weird thought inside your head that is telling you to feel guilty over nothing.

Good intentions shine through and bad intentions deserve to be discovered.

In many scenarios, a man often feels as though he is in a competition for a woman’s attention, but if that is your mentality, then you will be doomed; maybe not in a short-term sense, but definitely in the long run. You should not subject yourself to such pressure, especially if you are in a social environment where other people are waiting for you to strike out. Trying to control someone’s attention is not only creepy, but also neurotic. Don’t try to win someone over with a grand gesture or a long-winded story. The goal is not to keep her attention, the goal is to allow her to comfortably establish a rapport with you.

Your fear of losing the spotlight makes you creepy. You don’t need to be in the spotlight to be appreciated. Most people don’t want to engage with the entertainer, most people want to engage with a fan. So try to be attentive instead of attractive. Show that you can actively listen. Listening is the least creepy thing you can do.

As the Shins said, “caring is creepy,” but worrying about being creepy is 10 times creepier. Forget about it, act cool, and try to stay out of the spotlight. Focus on the story she is telling you, make eye contact, and don’t worry about what your subconscious might think of you.

Just for men

The new beard-transplant trend needs to be shaved

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Originally published in the Other Press. May 5, 2014

Let’s be honest, unless you are pretending to be Santa Claus for Christmas, Abe Lincoln in an Academy Award nominated movie, or a wizard in a children’s novel, there is no reason a man needs a fake beard.

But sadly that is not the case as insecurity shows itself in the masculine culture. Men who are unable to grow thick, respectable beards are now able to hide their shame by getting beard transplants. If you condone cosmetic surgery, such as breast implants, Botox, and rhinoplasty then surely you won’t have a problem with bread transplants; after all, it’s all about the feeling you get when you look good.

The pricing range for this hairy procedure is currently costing men somewhere between $5,000 to $15,000, and it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the transplant will be successful since rejection of the follicles might occur. For those who feel that hair on their face is worth the price, then all the power to you; but for those who are still contemplating adopting the new popular look, I feel I must remind you about the inconsistency and irrationality of trends.

If you don’t have a beard it’s because you don’t really need a beard. I am 25 years old and I have never had to shave more than those few whiskers on my upper lip and the bit of stray fuzz growing under my chin. I know I should be embarrassed at the fact that I am so handsomely hairless—after all, the men in the magazines look so rugged with their thick beards and sophisticated moustaches. Shouldn’t I want to be like them?

In the same way we tell women that they don’t need to look like models—because it’s unrealistic—the same goes with men.

Boys, my dear baby-faced boys, you don’t need to feel ashamed that you can’t grow a beard. This hipster/Duck Dynasty trend will surely be replaced within a few years—next thing you know you’ll have a unibrow and muttonchops.

I prefer to be who I am and shave regularly. Sure, sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I had a beard to stroke when I ponder the perplexity of facial hair. And I wish I could intimidate others by looking like a lumberjack. But being clean-shaven has its advantages as well, that’s why many men choose to shave just as a preference.

If having a beard makes you happy, then go ahead and get your expensive transplant. But if you are motivated by the shame of your physical appearance, then I feel as though your beard transplant might be the crest of a slippery slope. So dude, don’t forget that even Michael Jackson had a beard at one point—and it was weird, not manly. Confidence comes from within, bud, so don’t hide behind your beard.

Chivalry is dead and feminism dug the grave

 

Is my shining armour sexist? 

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Mar. 11, 2014

I believe in equal rights—at least, I want to. I believe I’m like a lot of other men, straddling the line between sexist and feminist, teetering back and forth by the push and pull of social expectation and traditional beliefs. Yes, I’m the kind of guy who wants to hold the door open, who wants to pull the chair out, and who also wants to split the bill at the end of the night. I want to be chivalrous, but what does that word even mean anymore?

Men pride themselves on being financial supporters. If my situation were different, I would pay for everything, despite the fact that my female counterpart will be earning the same amount or more. After all, a woman’s success is her success, not my failure by any means.

Yet, there is still this stigma towards a woman treating a man in certain situations, mainly in public—maybe it’s all in my head, but I don’t believe it is. I know that deep down men still strive to be the dominant gender. We feel good when we can open jars for her, do heavy lifting for her, and even put a roof over her head. It’s not that we consider our mothers, sisters, girlfriends, wives, etc. to be inferior, but like I said, we’re proud.

Women would argue that men do not need to be chivalrous; they only need to be polite and respectful. Many feminists will say that women don’t need men to protect them because they are not damsels in distress. But men want to protect women and save them from distress, even if there isn’t any. Guys, how many times did you feel the need to walk a girl home at night, or at least to the bus stop or the SkyTrain station? You know, because her safety matters. Girls, how many times did you judge a guy for not offering or for outright refusing to take you home? What a lazy thoughtless bum, right?

I don’t want to feel responsible, but I do. I know that if something does happen to her, I would feel guilty, and that is just the way I was moulded to feel. Sure, it wasn’t my fault. I’m not a superhero, I’m not even a mall security guard, but when a man can’t protect those he cares about, then in a way, he can’t call himself a man. It might be my generation’s narcissism or it might just be my own insecurity; either way, I feel a greater need to protect the women in my life than the guys. I’ll hold the door open for you, dude—while I’m here anyways.

It might be the fact that men have been mistreating women since the dawn of time, and there will always be dick heads out there. That was why chivalry existed during medieval times, to protect women from those dick heads. Now in the modern age, the measuring stick is not that apparent for either gender. But guys, whether you are a feminist or not, normal human decency will always ring through; it’s more important than any useless labels.

With all that being said, the chivalry period is over. But that doesn’t mean us guys can’t still do the things Prince Charming did. Yes, we should still open doors, we should still pull out chairs, and hell, we should split the bill once in a while—not only with women, but with all people.