Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Low Ablow

Bravely hurtling forward into the nineteenth century, Dr Keith Ablow, psychiatrist, Fox News Contributor, chicly bald, has lambasted Jenna Lyons, a J. Crew designer, for a photograph in the latest J. Crew catalogue in which she "paints her son Beckett's toe nails a hot pink." Ablow is not concerned about the boy's colouring (he's clearly an Autumn; a dusk orange would be more appropriate), he's concerned about the boy's psychological well-being.

Yeah, well, it may be fun and games now, Jenna, but at least put some money aside for psychotherapy for the kid—and maybe a little for others who’ll be affected by your “innocent” pleasure.

First: all parents should put some money aside for psychotherapy for their kids. Even if you’re not painting their toe nails hot pink, you’re going to be doing something else disastrous to them with your “fun” and your “games”. Setting aside some money is wise. Preferably quite a lot. And if more people did, I wouldn’t have to supplement my career by blogging! (Wait, I’m not getting paid for this? Oh hell.) Second: everybody in the public eye should put some money aside for psychotherapy for other people’s kids. In fact, every family in the country should expect financial assistance from the Jim Henson Estate for children affected by the muppets’ “innocent” pleasures, like the mass destruction of crockery.

This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity—homogenizing males and females when the outcome of such “psychological sterilization” [my word choice] is not known.

This is a dramatic example of the way that every single culture in the world is being encouraged to shed any trappings of tempered, nuanced argument—homogenizing thinking when the outcome of such “brain-shredding thought-castration” [my word choice] is not known.

If you have no problem with the J. Crew ad, how about one in which a little boy models a sundress? What could possibly be the problem with that?

I bet we’re about to find out.

Well, how about the fact that encouraging the choosing of gender identity, rather than suggesting our children become comfortable with the ones that they got at birth

Pause. Most children get genders at birth based on their external genitalia; children typically don’t develop a basic “gender identity” until around three years of age. Ablow the psychiatrist obviously spent his time doodling in the margins of his copy of The National Review during the lecture series on development during his training. Hey, this reminds me of a story I heard, a true one, a non-fictional one, about a two-and-a-half year old boy and a three-and-a-half year old girl playing at a lunch table; the boy was playing with the girl’s miniature dolls, and she told him to stop, explaining that they were toys for girls, and she was a girl but he was a boy. She demonstrated an evolving, and quite appropriately rigid, sense of gender identities and gender roles; the extent to which the boy was confused by this was manifested not only by continuing to enjoy playing with the dolls, but by subsequently thinking that the girl’s name was “boy”, and calling her this for the rest of the day, much to her chagrin. Okay, go on.

can throw our species into real psychological turmoil

Pause. Yes, I see . . . Nope. I don’t even know where to begin. Just go on.

—not to mention crowding operating rooms with procedures to grotesquely amputate body parts? Why not make race the next frontier? What would be so wrong with people deciding to tattoo themselves dark brown and claim African-American heritage? Why not bleach the skin of others so they can playact as Caucasians?

From gay panic to race panic! This psychiatrist is having an identity panic attack!

Why should we hold dear anything with which we were born?

I personally hold dear a jar of the vernix with which I was born.

What’s the benefit of non-fiction over fiction?

It’s far cheaper to produce?

Well, the benefit is that non-fiction always wins, in the end.

Oh. Well, given that this is not true, is Ablow’s fiction winning, while masquerading as a non-fiction?

And to the extent that you take flights of fancy into masquerading through life, life will exact a psychological penalty.

What exactly is the psychological penalty for masquerading as a developmentally-oriented, psychologically-astute commentator on the human condition during reactionary flights of fancy?

The fallout is already being seen. Increasingly, girls show none of the reticence they once did to engage in early sexual relationships with boys.

Not with me they’re not.

That may be a good thing from the standpoint of gender equality, but it could be a bad thing since there is no longer the same typically “feminine” brake on such behavior.

Here and there I’ve inserted pauses into Ablow’s general bumrush of phony naturalism, the glib and shady notion that Ablow’s own concepts of development, gender, race, psychological health, and so forth, are inherently ingrained into and generated from nature (represented here also by “non-fiction”), which are being perverted by influence of nefarious cultural actors like a mother painting her son’s toenails in a J. Crew catalogue; but at this point, surely the “pause” must become “Stop!” Let’s put a typically “non-sexist” brake on Ablow’s behavior in order to say: the idea that women and girls are naturally responsible for putting a “brake” on male sexual aggression is very, very dangerous, with very real consequences.

Anyway, the “fallout” continues:

Girls beat up other girls on YouTube.

A bit of techno-panic inserted here. There are now some readers of Fox News who think that YouTube is filled with Girly Fight Club videos. If only.

Young men primp and preen until their abdomens are washboards and their hair is perfect.

Now, sociologists have pointed out . . . Hold on. Hold on one minute. “Young men primp and preen until their abdomens are washboards and their hair is perfect”? This is fallout from modern gender identity woes? I’m sure these young men beg to differ.

And while that may seem like no big deal, it will be a very big deal if it turns out that neither gender is very comfortable anymore nurturing children above all else, and neither gender is motivated to rank creating a family above having great sex forever and neither gender is motivated to protect the nation by marching into combat against other men and risking their lives.

Methinks the “neither gender” is somewhat loaded here.

Maybe we’ll all have shiny, colored lips, though, and pierced ears and perfect eyebrows and mommies who get applause from their J. Crew friends at the park for parading their sons through the streets in costume.

Pause. Would this be such a bad thing? I can think of worse things.

Jenna Lyons and J. Crew seem to know exactly what they’re up to.

Pause. What exactly does this sentence mean? Is he insinuating a plot? Or is this another psychiatric, psychological assessment of their insight?

That’s why the photograph of Jenna’s son so prominently displays his hot pink, neon toe nails. These folks are hostile to the gender distinctions that actually are part of the magnificent synergy that creates and sustains the human race. They respect their own creative notions a whole lot more than any creative Force in the universe.

Notwithstanding the capital letter for “Force”, a common nudge-and-wink to the theological crowd, can we just admire how felicitously and pervasively Ablow is demanding a humility and a subservience to what he thinks of as a natural order? And yet there’s not a moment of humility on his own part, wondering if his concept of a natural order is in any way fictitious, imaginary, partial, or socially- and culturally-constructed; there’s nary a moment of subservience to the facts about how gender identity and gender roles have changed and continue to change, deviating far, far from what he seems to think is right. Speaking of which, what is the right way to have a little boy be a little boy?

I wonder what Jenna would think if her son wanted to celebrate his masculinity with a little playacting as a cowboy, with a gun? Would that bring the same smile of joy and pure love that we see on her face in the J. Crew advertisement? Or would that be where she might draw the line?

Or maybe she would draw the line here?

In any case, if there is one psychiatrist out there who has the scoop on comedy and joking, who really understands the purpose of comedy, it’s the good Dr Ablow (who, in this segment, proves himself every part the expert):


Björn said...

—not to mention crowding operating rooms with procedures to grotesquely amputate body parts?

Would some of Dr Ablow's insane fear melt away if some kind doctor invented a procedure to prettily amputate body parts? (I don't know, maybe there are some already?)

sw said...

It is hardly unfair to note that Ablow, sole-nibbling and shoelace-sucking and toe-nuzzling Glenn Beck on his show, is indulging himself here. His piece is really an unfettered mindburp of undigested fantasies. One doesn't need Dr Ablow's impeccable credentials to "wonder about" the elaborate gusto with which he invests his descriptions.