Yesterday, I asked you what kinds of things you'd be interested in reading. Given that I gave you all of a day, I think I got some good responses. So, as promised, I now tackle your topics. Part I was about feminism and film, which you can see right below this post. Part II is about the title of the blog: cme asked me to blog about the title of my blog, and what the phrase "You don't get a cookie or a tourguide" means to me.
I came up with the title of this blog because I firmly believe that I don't deserve some kind of special prize or gold star (or cookie) just for being a minimally decent human being. I'm generally opposed to the idea that we should be bribing people to be decent human beings. When someone goes above and beyond what we should reasonably expect, we should absolutely give that person the gold stars sie deserves. But, it makes me very uncomfortable when I see men get special praise just for holding feminist opinions- as though thinking that women shouldn't be treated like shit because of their sex is or ought to be remarkable. In some sense, I suppose that it is remarkable... but it shouldn't be. Anyway, the point is that I don't expect or want extraordinary rewards for holding views that make me a minimally decent human being.
I hadn't heard that tourguide part before cme mentioned it, though. Is this a common expression? I must confess that I have slightly more ambivalent feelings about that part. I absolutely agree that women have no responsibility to give men a map to what is or is not acceptable behavior. It's not, as the saying goes, the responsibility of the oppressed to point out the oppression to the oppressors. Or something like that.
On the other hand, I do recognize the importance of having someone who can help you see through the bullshit and figure things out. I don't expect someone to hold my hand the entire way, but having a mentor or a guide can be a tremendous help in realizing how wrong some things are. I look back at my own experiences, and I'm not sure I can count the number of times that women have explained or pointed out a situation in such a way that I was able to make the connection, where I might not have otherwise.
So, I guess what I'm saying about that is that I think it's my responsibility to seek out and try to learn what I can, and to ask questions about the things I can't figure out, and to seek out the people who can help me learn about things that I don't understand. It's also my responsibility to respect that no woman is obligated to help me. I think that there are things I'm not necessarily going to be able to figure out on my own, but it's my job to find people who can help me, it's not someone else's responsibility to hand me things on a silver platter. I am helped by women who are generous and take time to explain things to me when I don't get them, but I don't have a right to that- it's a favor they're doing for me.
Does that make sense?
I think that this is a great topic, and there are some sticky aspects to it: I know that I've felt, at times, like I was getting more praise than I deserved for things that I've said because I was a man. I also know that there are some people who feel like it's important to praise or reward men who "get it" so as to encourage them or make them feel appreciated. I'm not so sure that this is the best tactic, but I understand where it comes from. There's a lot to talk about, though, and I think I'd like to hear what some other people are thinking about this.
Also: if you've got more ideas, feel free to throw them here- I'm going to try to reserve Friday to answer reader questions or to blog about suggested topics. Friday can be Reader Participation Day. Huzzah!