July 16, 2015 by libroshombre
It’s hard to peruse Dorothy Johnson’s “Bedside Book of Bastards” without musing ruefully on mankind, specifically the man part. True, some rascally women are included, but most of Johnson’s subjects are really bad guys, like the 15th-century French baron Gilles de Rais, who, on one hand, was Joan of Arc’s companion in arms, and a serial murderer of scores of children on the other. Most guys aren’t in the same league as Attila or the Borgias, but apparently it’s mostly a matter of degree.
The recent research is sadly compelling. Take the Washington Post article from last May titled “Study: Men Are Lazy to Their Core,” by Christopher Ingraham, who cites University of Maryland research that shows that today’s average American woman does 1.7 times as much housework as the average man. Fortunately, “men are simply more slovenly than women, and less averse to filth.”
It could be worse; Takanakuy isn’t popular here yet. “Takanakuy” means “when the blood is boiling” in the Quechua language of Peru. Peruvian men dress in wild costumes and pair off in rural arenas for a series of fistfights. “The purpose of Takanakuy is to settle grievances built up over the year … in a public forum,” according to BBC.com. “People of all ages enter the ring, from young children to the elderly, and participation is open to women and men alike … The fights themselves are relatively civil, bearing closer resemblance to martial arts sparring than uninhibited brawls.” There are referees, and they carry whips.
Wikipedia says the fighters wear colorful ski masks while fighting and other symbolic garb. “The main purpose of the ski mask is to conceal the identity of the fighters to prevent tensions and animosities lingering into the next year.” There are five traditional characters portrayed by the fighters. The “Majenos” horsemen for example, wear wool riding pants, short jackets, chaps, “and either a dead bird or a deer skull on top of his/her head.” The “langostas” are the locusts whose costumes are made out of shiny materials, and they usually carry dead birds to represent the death that locusts caused during the 1940s.
Colorful ski masks might become popular with America’s homely men. In “Homely Men Who Misbehave Can’t Win for Losing,” a recent ScienceDaily.com article cites researchers’ from Eastern Kentucky University findings that “a woman’s view of a man is influenced by how handsome and law-abiding he is.” They studied female jurors and users of online dating services and found that “(w)omen tolerate an unattractive man up to a point, but beware if he misbehaves. Then they’ll easily shun him … In what is called the ‘halo effect,’ people warm up to others with positive characteristics, such as handsomeness. The ‘devil effect,’ or ‘negative halo effect,’ comes into play when people assume that other possess so-called ‘bad’ characteristics based on traits such as unattractiveness.”
The study found that “transgressing a social norm” counted for more than attractiveness. “Normally women do not feel differently towards a homely man who toes the line.” However, if an ugly guy “transgresses the boundaries of right or wrong, a magnified ‘double devil effect’ comes into play. He is then viewed in an extremely negative light, much more so than would have been the case if he were handsome.”
An ugly Peruvian house-husband might make an intriguing human book to check out. “Human Libraries” is a 15-year-old concept in which library patrons are invited to “borrow” people who’ve agreed to be interviewed to learn more about them. They can be checked out for half- or full hour sessions, and they can be reserved in advance. At the Toronto Public Library, for instance, patrons could choose from a police officer, comedian, cancer survivor, model, “a sex-worker-turned-club-owner, and homeless person. The idea originated by a youth organization in Copenhagen and has spread to 30 countries. Featured human books include police, bikers, gay couples, clowns, writers, and many others.
People come to the library to learn, reflect, and interact. Our public library’s resources and services are such that it is indeed The People’s University. But with its meetings, gatherings, and information sharing of all sorts, it’s also everyone’s Community Commons, regardless of their beauty.