Freshman Seminars

I now understand why people do not get assigned to teach Freshman Seminars every semester or every year. I also have come to understand why people treat a colleague who teaches a Freshman Seminar like s/he’s sick and needs to be comforted and approached very gently.

I don’t mind having had the experience of teaching a Freshman Seminar but I can’t wait to go back to my juniors and seniors. The vacuous stares, the silence, the exasperated sighs, the absence of any questions about anything and the general environment of passivity and boredom are getting to me. You can bring all the enthusiasm in the world into the classroom but trying to transmit it to people who have no use for it on a regular basis gets very daunting. I just miss hearing questions, seeing some interest in something, anything, whatever it may be.

I’ve tried everything in this course, people. Poetry, beautiful works of architecture, powerful documentary footage. I talked about politics, music, traveling, television. I even tried discussing video games and fantasy literature. But students just yawn, fall asleep at their desks, or stare vapidly. I understand how a class on the uses of the subjunctive might bore people. But how is it possible for anybody not to get excited about the indigenous civilizations of the New World, Columbus’s journey, Cortez’s first impressions of Tenochtitlan, Cortes de Cadiz, the Modernist art, the poetry of Alfonsina Storni, the political manipulation of sports, Subcomandante Marcos, the ideology of bullfighting, and all the other fascinating things we discuss in this course?

Mind you, I’ve been teaching this course to upper-year students for years, and they love it. It’s just the freshmen who are indifferent to everything. I can’t even make a joke in the classroom because nobody reacts. Ever. At all. This is the only classroom where nobody greets me or acknowledges my existence in any way when I come into the room. The students remain as silent as they are before I come in and continue to stare straight ahead of them.

Do Americans Love Spain?

FeMOMhist posted the following question:

Why do Americans love Spain/Spaniards so much when they dislike so many other peeps in foreign lands?

Do they? I never heard about this but if it’s true, that’s welcome news.

So please enlighten me, American readers. Do you love Spain and its people more than other foreigners?

And also a question my professor once asked us: what qualities do you associate with Spaniards?

Of course, you don’t have to be American to answer these questions.

If anybody wants a separate thread started to find out what people associate with their country, I’m always willing to oblige.

There is Hope for Mississippi After All!

Some unexpected good news from Mississippi:

A constitutional amendment that would have defined a fertilized egg as a person failed on the ballot in Mississippi on Tuesday, dealing the so-called “personhood” movement another blow. . . The amendment trailed 59 percent to 41 percent with more than half of precincts reporting. The Associated Press has said it will fail.

If even a completely backward place like Mississippi managed to wake up to the utter ridiculousness of calling eggs people, then there is hope for humanity yet.

Fanaticism and the hatred of women are in their death throes. This is why anti-choicers are pushing this desperate, egregiously stupid, hopeless legislation. They realize that this is their very last chance to be taken seriously by the most puritanical, terrified, miserable and angry people in this country. The future generations will think this “personhood movement” was simply one big joke.

Why Do Many Older Men Chase After Much Younger Women?

Articles and blog posts that attempt to answer this question appear on a regular basis. The explanation they provide for this phenomenon is usually an exercise in inanity of major proportions. Here is the most recent example:

The obvious question is why so few men are interested in dating women their own age. . . The reasons older men chase younger women have less to do with sex and everything to do with a profound desire to reassure ourselves that we’ve still got “it.” “It” isn’t just physical attractiveness; “it” is the whole masculine package of youth, vitality, and, above all else,possibility. It’s not that women our own age are less attractive, it’s that they lack the culturally-based power to reassure our fragile, aging egos that we are still hot and hip and filled with potential.  Inspiring desire in women young enough to be our daughters becomes the most potent of all anti-aging remedies, particularly when we can show off our much younger dates to our peers.

Leave it to somebody born and raised in a Puritanical society to get into a rush to reassure everybody that relationships between men and women cannot possibly be based on anything related to human sexuality.

So let us cut through this pseudo-psychological blabber about peers and egos and look for the real reasons behind this phenomenon that Hugo Schwyzer, the author of this article, chose to ignore.

The sad truth about sexual desire is that, in terms of age, it does not develop equally in men and women. Men normally experience the peak of their sexuality in their twenties, at the latest. In the meanwhile, their 20-year-old female peers are not all that interested in sex. For a variety of cultural and physiological reasons, female sexuality awakens and reaches its peak much later. Forty and fifty-year old women are significantly more interested in sex than 20-year-olds.

Male sexuality, however, begins to fade in men’s late forties and fifties. The reasons for that are also socially constructed to a great degree, and we can discuss that later if people are interested. So where does a man go when he realizes that he cannot satisfy the sexual demands of his female peers? Obviously, he often turns to 20-year-old women who don’t need or want a lot of sex. Relationships with much younger women are simply a way for many men to conceal from themselves and women of their age the waning sexual potency they often experience as they move into their 50s and 60s.

P.S. I hope it’s clear from the post that I’m not talking about situations when a man falls in love with a woman who happens to be younger. I’m talking specifically about cases where a man chases after women (plural) and a defining criterion of his search for a partner is that the partner should be younger.