Monday, December 13, 2010

final paper

Ruben Zakaryan
English 313
Professor Wexler

            Finding true love has always been a challenge for both men and women. The idea of finding that person who is the "one" has led people to revert to non-traditional methods of searching. This has caused traditional romance to slowly become what some consider as radical romance. In this class, we have analyzed a few sources which portray romance that is not necessarily defined as traditional. Knocked up, The 40 year old Virgin, and share a common theme in that finding true love doesn't need to be an impossible journey which can lead to disappointment and sorrow. In Knocked up, we're introduced to a couple who conceive a child during a random night of drunken sex. This calamity leads into a roller coaster of emotional dilemmas, which inevitably ends with the couple falling in love. The 40 year old Virgin depicts a man that is socially withdrawn and sexually absent who in a twist of fate finds true love in the arms of a single mother. along with other social networks falsifies the accuracy of who people are and the basis of socializing. Many people view these examples as a logical comparison to current social and romantic realities. However, being a social outcast or accidentally impregnating someone rarely leads to finding romance, especially if that romance is found through a website. These are false ideologies introduced by modern television and technology. Searching for true love and romance has always been the core aspect of what relationships are built upon, and it does not include the situations depicted in these specific sources.
            Most relationships begin when two people find something in common that they both can relate to. This usually develops after sharing ideas and introducing one another to personal characteristics. If the relationship progresses to a certain level, courting and eventually having children become a part of this traditional romance. In Knocked up, this chain of events is reversed. The movie starts off with the audience being introduced to Ben, an unemployed pot smoker who rarely socializes with anyone besides his roommates. He then meets a girl, Allison, in a club and they begin to drink uncontrollably. They eventually end up in Allison's house where they partake in sexual intercourse. After several weeks, they learn that Allison is pregnant. From there, they begin to develop different emotional stages, first considering getting married then realizing they are not compatible. Eventually, they become accustomed to each other and fall in love. This is a false representation of how relationships are built. In today's society, abortion has become an ordinary solution to similar situations. Yet, in the movie this idea is vaguely introduced and immediately discarded. In the scene where Allison is talking to her mother, Betty, Allison's mother recommends that she "take care of it". "BETTY: Alison, just take care of it. Take care of it. Move on. What’s gonna happen with your career?" The fact that her mother introduces this topic without actually mentioning the word gives the impression that having an abortion is not accepted. However statistics show that approximately 3,700 abortions are performed on a daily basis. And 52% of women obtaining abortions in the U.S. are younger than 25, which is the same age category that Allison is in.
            The question then is why are women getting abortions? This movie gives the viewer the notion that having a baby in an unusual circumstance does not justify having an abortion.  Even though Ben is an unemployed pot smoker, unfit to raise a child and Allison is a young woman with a career to think about, having a child is more acceptable than getting an abortion. However, statistically 93% of all abortions occur for social reasons (i.e. the child is unwanted or inconvenient) whereas only 1% of all abortions occur because of rape or incest and 6% of abortions occur because of potential health problems. It is obvious that Ben's and Allison's situation falls into the category of both unwanted and inconvenient. In reality, most couples faced with this dilemma would almost in all cases choose abortion.
            Nevertheless, some may argue that abortion is out of the question and should never be considered. This belief is perfectly acceptable, but it is not the only option.  If two people, whether in a serious relationship or not, should not be forced to create a false romance due to an unplanned pregnancy. Some may ask how often is an unplanned pregnancy a factor for couples. Well according to Guttmacher Institute in 2001, 49 percent of pregnancies in the United States were unintended. The unintended pregnancy rate was 51 per 1,000 women aged 15–44. This means that almost half of every couple who conceive a child did not plan it. Imagine if every one of these couples decided to stay together and raise the child as a traditional family. In a realistic world, this is not the case. In 2006, 12.9 million families in the U.S. were headed by a single-parent, 80% of which were headed by a female. This comes to show that if Knocked up were to depict actual life, the movie would have ended within the first 15 minutes of it beginning. Because it is not inevitable to avoid an unplanned pregnancy, but if society has shown us anything, it's that women do not succumb to an emotional commitment until they are certain that the man is the "one" for them. Therefore, Knocked up gives men a false ideology of how to find love and gives women a false rationale to what romance really is. Being socially withdrawn and unemployed is not a recipe to finding true love, and being sexually inexperienced only makes it that much harder.
            Many people define romance as being directly correlated with sex. That is to say a relationship that lacks a sexual connection is bound to fail. Therefore, many people associate one's ability to be involved in a romantic relationship with someone based on their sexual knowledge. So when should one begin this expedition in becoming sexually and emotionally experienced to be in a relationship? Well in the movie The 40 year old Virgin were shown a 40-year old man named Andy who has lived his whole life without ever being in a relationship with a woman, both emotionally and sexually. He spends his day collecting action figures and playing online poker, rarely leaving his house. He is suddenly invited to play poker with a few of his co-workers, where he mistakenly reveals that he is a virgin. From that point, his co-workers decide that getting him "laid" is their main priority. After several failed attempts to meet women, a very attractive single mother walks into the store where Andy works and gives him her number. From that point, we see Andy transform from a childish 40 year old man who collects action figures and video games into a sophisticated man. Eventually, Trish finds out that Andy is a virgin and finds it attractive. She then falls deeply in love with him and they partake in sexual intercourse, where Andy loses his virginity.
            Even though this movie is a comedy and its humor derives from the misfortunes of a 40 year old virgin, the fact that the movies' ending is turned into a romance, it is not very realistic. Instead, it sets a false hope of what is required to find an emotional connection with someone. Different cultures and religions advise young teens that sex is something that should be saved for marriage. However, recent media and sociological influences make it almost impossible to practice abstinence from sex. Recent studies show that the median age at first intercourse is 16.9 years for boys and 17.4 years for girls. The main reason why teenagers feel that they need to have sex is because society has turned sexual proficiency into a crucial factor in being accepted. Therefore, it is very unlikely that someone will respond to a person who has lived almost half their life without experiencing sex. This is why Andy is portrayed as a very immature adult, utilizing his time with video games and action figures. Some may say that withdrawing yourself from any social interaction causes u to isolate yourself, mainly spending time playing video games and similar activities. Whereas the argument to that is spending time playing video games is what causes people to be socially inactive. It's very similar to the chicken and the egg dilemma.
            In other words, Andy's situation brings up the topic of whether his virginity was caused by his social skills or were they a result of his virginity. In the movie, were shown a flashback of Andy's encounters with women and his attempts at sex. It is obvious he is inexperienced and hesitant. After being humiliated several times, he eventually gives up on the whole idea of having sex. The ironic part is that without trying, he somehow finds the one person who accepts his lack of experience. This is a misleading ideology of how real romance is found. People devote much time and effort to create a presentable figure in hopes of finding someone. Some even resort to using fake profiles and avatars, via the internet to make this possible.
            Socializing has always been an attempt to increase the amount of relationships one has, whether it's a friendly relationship or a romantic one. This usually begins in the early teens, starting from junior high school. A regular morning can take up to two hours for a teenager to get dressed and ready to leave the house.  On average, women spend 76 minutes getting ready on Mondays —with almost a third of that spent on their hair—18 minutes on make-up, 16 minutes trying on different combinations of clothes and the rest taken up by showering and washing. This figure is not very different with men. Imagine if all of that time can be eliminated. That's where social networking websites come into play. has been one of the most popular social websites, with over 185 million registered users. It's is very simple to use, requiring an email address, name and age. The site allows you to customize your profile including your personal hobbies, interests, music, and a photo of your choice. Not only that, but it allows you to create a variety of posts that display your opinion of almost any topic. Once a profile has been created, the user can begin to search for people that he/she knows. This allows social interaction without having to leave your computer desk. At one point or another, the user will begin to add people who are either friends of friends, or random strangers in hopes to expand their social web.
            There are many aspects of this form of socializing that create not only a false image, but also a false basis on which relationships are formed. Ideally, the website allows the user to create a realistic persona based solely on the user's character. However, in many instances people begin to stretch the truth. It can be anything as simple as the correct age to having a different picture. So why are people socializing with others while using a false profile? Some users admit to the fact that having a MySpace account is solely to increase the amount of friends one has and to gain recognition for simple things like a picture. Why else do you think that MySpace users spend so much time updating their MySpace layouts, commenting other profiles with MySpace glitters and sending out MySpace bulletin after bulletin asking friends to "Comment my pics!"  Without your MySpace friends, your MySpace profile is nothing more than a lame web page. Therefore, a user would rather have 1000 fake friends based on a fake character than to have 100 real friends based on his/her real characteristics. This might seem like a harmless motive for using this website, but certain people have taken it to the next level. Online dating has been growing for the past few decades and social networks have given people a free opportunity to take advantage.
            Many teenagers who use social websites like MySpace or Facebook are either looking for a relationship or looking to rekindle a previous one. This motive is not as harmless. Beginning a relationship using comments and messages does not portray the actual characteristics of the user. Many people rate a person not solely based on conversation but also on a physical standard. This is very hard to accomplish through a website, especially when it is possible that the profile is not real. One instance that many people are aware of is the tragic suicide of Megan Meier. Megan was a thirteen year old girl who was befriended by a boy named Josh Evans. He claimed to be a 16-year-old boy who lived in the same neighborhood and was homeschooled. They became close friends over a period of a month, until Josh began to send her cruel messages stating he didn't want to be friends anymore. After several weeks of this cyber-bullying, Megan hung herself. After a few months, the Meier family learned that the profile was created by a neighborhood mom who was upset about Megan and her daughter not being friends anymore. This situation not only portrays a false impersonation, but evidently a fatal outcome.
            Social websites were created in efforts to increase social skills and how people interact with one another. It allowed people to express themselves freely without feeling self-conscious. Some even use the websites to interact with people who they don't see regularly due to circumstance or geographic location. However, it has caused people to lose the basic necessary skills needed to interact with someone. Being able to approach a person in a bar or a coffee house has always been a challenge for some people, but it seems lately people would rather go sit at a coffee house with a laptop. So does having more friends on a website really increase your social skills? NO. All it does is allow you to surround yourself with the mentality that people on your so-called "friends" list are actually people who you have spent time befriending.
            In conclusion, radical romance does exist in today's society but it is not depicted in any of the sources we have discussed in class. Yes these are situations that come a long way from what we consider as traditional romance, but taken into consideration current social norms, they do not represent reality. Knocked up depicts a relationship that is sparked due to an unplanned pregnancy. In reality, this is considered a radical method in starting a relationship, but it is not realistic. Many women choose to have an abortion to prevent having a child that will interfere with their daily lives. That is to say even if the couple is in a loving relationship, having a child that is unplanned will most likely result in an abortion. Knocked up gives the audience a different point of view, one that is much more unrealistic. It is obvious that neither Alison nor Ben are fit to be parents, much less be parents together. In The 40 year old Virgin, we see a man who is in his early 40's that has never been in a sexual relationship with a woman. Yet he is idolized and eventually given the opportunity to fall in the arms of a beautiful single mother. This is unrealistic on a few different levels. One, it is very rare to see someone reach the midpoint of their life without having sex, when society makes it almost impossible to graduate high school without losing one's virginity. Two, for a man to be socially absent and sexually inactive and find true love is a very big stretch. Andy is portrayed as a very childish adult who spends most of his time playing with action figures and video games. Then were introduced to the false representation of what it means to socially network. virtually allows anyone to create profile with any information he/she desires. This can be done to increase the ease at which people interact with one another or to create a relationship bases solely on cyber conversations. This freedom to create a cyber-profile very commonly leads to false impersonations and weak structural relationships. Overall, love can be found in many different ways and some are not as traditional as others. But current media gives misleading methods on which this can be accomplished.

Works Cited
1.      The 40 Year old Virgin. Judd Apatow. Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd. 2005.
2.      Knocked Up. Judd Apatow. Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl and Paul Rudd. 2007.
3.      Guttmacher, Alan. "Abortion Statistics." / The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform. Web. 2008.  <>.
4.      "Single-parent." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. 8 Dec. 2010. Web. 02 Dec. 2010. <>.
5.      Henshaw, Stanley K., and Lawrence B. Finer. "Disparities in Rates of Unintended Pregnancy in the United States, 1994 and 2001." Guttmacher Institute: Home Page. 2 June 2006. Web. 10 Dec. 2010. <>.
6.      "U.S. Teen Sexual Activity." Kaiser Family Foundation, Jan. 2005. Web. <>.
7.      Daily, Allure. "How Long Do You Take to Get Ready in the Morning? - Fashion Beauty on Shine." Shine: Fashion and Beauty, Healthy Living, Parenting, Sex and Love, Career and Money, Food, and More - Shine on Yahoo! 3 June 2010. Web. 10 Dec. 2010. <>.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

response paper

Response Paper
            Up to this point, we have discussed many different forms of sexuality and culture. We have identified varieties of relationships and what aspects make each one different and why. Most relationships are defined by what role each member plays in the relationship. Some of the common types of relationships include the classic boy and girl, the friends who become something more, and the friends who are too afraid to express their feelings. Some of the uncommon types include the chauvinist male with the passive female, or the forbidden relationship. One source that comes to mind which embraces all of these is the TV show "The Office". This show is about a group of people who work in a paper company, including a regional manager (Michael Scott), a receptionist (Pam Beesly), salesman (Jim Halpert and Dwight Schrute), and a huge variety of characters, each one with a different personality and quality.
            The first and most common romantic comedy situation we see is between the receptionist and a warehouse employee (Roy Anderson). Pam and Roy have been in a relationship for over 10 years, engaged for the last 3 of those years. They portray the classical boy and girl fall in love after high school and plan to get married. The comedy part of this is that they fail to take their relationship to the next level, constantly planning and canceling a wedding day. This relates closely to the relationship depicted in Jerry Maguire between Jerry and Dorothy. The similarity derives from the roles each member plays in the relationship. In The Office, Roy is the macho warehouse worker and Pam is the quiet and passive receptionist. In Jerry Maguire, Jerry is the successful sports agent and Dorothy is the naive employee who falls in love with him. Both this relationships show their ups and downs, but in the end they always end up together.
            Another familiar relationship is when two friends who have a lot in common slowly fall in love with one another. This is seen with once again our receptionist Pam and Jim. Their friendship begins with Jim constantly joking and spending most of his time near the reception desk. Keep in mind; this is happening while Pam is engaged. This situation brings up the question of fidelity. Some may say flirting is absolutely acceptable, whereas others might consider this a form of unfaithfulness. The more important question is who is to blame? Is it Jim's fault for pursuing an engaged woman or is it Pam's fault for allowing herself to flirt with a man when she is engaged to someone else? Similar to the love triangle in Fatal Attraction, who is really to blame for the infidelity? Many say it is the man's fault for being assertive and pursuing a woman who is clearly unavailable, or pursuing a woman when he is clearly unavailable. Society has taught us that women control the outcome of a date and whether it will lead to sex. If this is the case, then shouldn't Pam and Alex (Maude) be blamed for allowing the situation to continue into something more.
            The perfect example of a relationship being led by a woman is the one we see between Angela, an accountant and Dwight, one of the salesmen. Angela is also engaged but finds Dwight's male libido irresistible, leading her into having a love affair for the majority of her engagement. Dwight's character portrays a chauvinist male who values superiority and dominance. "Women are like wolves. If you want one you must trap it. Snare it. Tame it. Feed it." "Reject a woman and she will never let it go. One of the many defects of their kind – also, weak arms." "How would I describe myself? Three words: hard working, alpha male, jackhammer…merciless…insatiable…" Since Angela's fiancé (Andy Bernard) is the extreme opposite of what Dwight depicts, she is automatically drawn to him.  
            Dwight believes that the male race is superior to the female race. "People have tirelessly sought to prove that woman is superior, inferior, or equal to man. Some say that, having been created after Adam, she is evidently a secondary being: others say on the contrary that Adam was only a rough draft and that God succeeded in producing the human being in perfection when He created Eve." (Beauvoir 1949) This is obviously a topic discussed through religious eyes. But I believe that society and nurture has a lot to do with how someone views this subject. For example, Dwight was born and raised on a beet farm with his German family. "The Schrutes consider children very valuable. In the olden-days, the women would bear many children so we would have enough laborers to work the fields. And if it was an especially cold winter and there weren’t enough grains or vegetables, they would eat the weakest of the brood..."
            One of the most important characters is Michael Scott, the regional manager. Michael's character is a goofy 40 year old that doesn't really have an intimate or social life. He bases most of his jokes on the expense of women. He is really famous for the "that's what she said" statement. This is said after a sentence that can be interpreted sexually. Jim: "Yeah, I'm definitely gonna go alone." Michael: "No, no! I need two men on this! That's what she said!"  
            Overall, The Office is filled with characters and relationships that relate to the the traditional/nontraditional romantic comedies we know and love. We have a classic love triangle; a classic girl loves boy, and a chauvinist who takes advantage of a desperate engaged woman. Even though this show is shot in the 21'st century, some of the values can be related to those 50 years ago. This is why I believe The Office is the perfect response to today's romantic comedy.

Works Cited
1.      The Office. Greg Daniels. NBC. March 2005.
2.      De Beauvoir, Simone. "The Second Sex: Woman as Other" 1949. Available
3.      Jerry Maguire. Cameron Crowe. Tom Cruise, Renée Zellweger. Tri-Star Films, 1996.
4.      Fatal Attraction. Adrian Lyne. Michael Douglas, Glen Close, Anne Archer. Paramount Pictures, 1987.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Ruben Zakaryan
English 313
Professor Wexler

            My observation took place at a Starbux located on Ventura and Cedros. I decided to observe people during mid afternoon on one of the busiest streets I know. When I first arrived, I witnessed three different tables where people were sitting outside. I walked in and there were two gentlemen sitting alone with laptops. There was also a woman sitting inside reading a book. After I got my coffee, I took a table outside and began to observe. The first table, there were two men and one woman sitting around a laptop. The first man seemed to be in his late 20's. He was wearing regular jeans and a t-shirt. He also had tattoos all over his arms. The man and woman sitting next to him were probably in their mid 50's. They were dressed in more proper attire and showed no signs of body art or piercings. The younger man seemed to be discussing something and was focused more towards the man rather than the woman. She spoke a few times but was immediately interrupted by the older man. They spoke for the entire time I was there. The second table, there was a single man sitting with his dog lying by his feet. He was in his late 60's and was reading a newspaper. He kept putting his newspaper down and taking out his cell phone. He also kept looking around at the surrounding people sitting outside. The third table, there was a man and a woman sitting across each other drinking coffee and having a conversation. The man was in his late 30's and the woman was in her mid 20's. As they were having their conversation, I noticed the woman kept giggling and looking down at her phone. After about twenty minutes, the man from the second table got up and approached the people sitting at table three. He introduced himself and said something funny which made them laugh. He stood there for about 5 minutes talking mainly to the woman. The man at the table kept trying to enter the conversation but no one seemed to pay attention. After a while, the girl seemed to feel uncomfortable so the the older man began to talk about his dog. Then he went back to his table, but continued to communicate with the man from table three. After this interaction, the people at the tables continued with their regular routine. There were constant people walking in and out of the cafe but no one seemed interested in the people sitting outside. After being there for over an hour, I left.
            There are a lot of elements at play here. We see a typical male to male interaction that casts the female aside. We also see a romantic scenario that is interrupted by an interfering male whose only purpose is to attract the woman. The older man and woman sitting at the first table seemed to be a couple because they were sitting on one side of the table. The younger man was trying to sell or convince the "couple" using his laptop as a visual display. In a typical society, the man is the one who makes the decision, not the woman. We see this in this situation because not only was the younger man speaking directly to the man but the woman was being interrupted every time she began to speak.  "Now, woman has always been man’s dependant, if not his slave; the two sexes have never shared the world in equality. And even today woman is heavily handicapped, though her situation is beginning to change. Almost nowhere is her legal status the same as man’s, and frequently it is much to her disadvantage." (Beauvoir 1949) This quote was written in the late 40's but as we can see it is still accurate in some situations today. The woman in this scenario was not given any decision-making power due to the fact that her "spouse" was present and well capable of making the decision for both of them. In addition, when she attempted to give some insight, her opinion was disregarded. This public display of chauvinism is rarely seen in middle class surroundings but as we have learned, men of this nature do not take account social hierarchy as a formality. "Similarly, the most mediocre of males feels himself a demigod as compared with women." (Beauvoir 1949)
            The second scenario consists of a typical romantic "date" between a couple who are faced with an external element. Religion has taught us that adultery is a sin; however society has shown that this is a very common resort in today's romance. Now I'm not implying that the man approaching the table had the intention of committing adultery with the woman sitting at the table because for one, we do not know if the man is married or single and we cannot be sure the woman is in a relationship with the man whom she is with. What we can grasp from this situation is that the man seemed more enticed with the woman more than the man. Many will say this is an instinct that the male species is born with. On the other hand, one can argue that this is a way of showing neither male is homosexual. By approaching a table with a man and woman, and choosing to speak solely to the woman ensures the man's heterosexuality. "To claim that there is no performer prior to the performed, that the performance is performative, that the performance constitutes the appearance of a subject as its effect is difficult to accept" (Butler, 725)

Works Cited
1.      De Beauvoir, Simone. "The Second Sex: Woman as Other" 1949. Available
2.      Butler, Judith. "Gender Studies, Gay/Lesbian Studies, Queer Theory: Chapter 7, Imitation and Gender Insubordination". (pp 722-730)