Thursday, January 11, 2007

More on Nudity

Matt Savinar of has been picking up some pieces from this blog over at his site, and the one he most recently added was my suggestion for a calendar of male peak oil luminaries posing, as it were, as nature created them Now Matt and I periodically have clashed on the great Freudian question, "What Do Women Want," usually right around the time I bring up the suggestion that Matt, who unlike Congressman Roscoe Bartlett is not 83 years old, ought to be our pull-out centerfold. He's pretty much the youngest major figure in the movement (as far as I know), and he has most of his hair and faculties intact (also as far as I know). Matt sent me this a while back, under the title, "Video of Hot Stud Inside" - I offer it to the world for their collective imaginings of how Matt would look as Mr. October

First of all, let me be absolutely clear that I never actually took this idea seriously. I never planned to do it. I could care less what Colin Campbell looks like in the altogether. I'm probably happier not knowing. With four small children, I have a hard enough time finding energy to lust after my own spouse, much less strangers talking about oil depletion curves. I presented this as a joke, but also to illustrate two points. First of all, that very rich people and corporations are presently selling the message that everything will be ok, that we can hold our basic life together by just converting to ethanol or whatever the dream of the week is. And they are doing this with lots, and lots of advertising (big surprise). Someday, people in the peak oil movement might also want to tell the story of our future to the world, probably though advertising. So raising money is important and so is disrupting the primary cultural narrative in as many creative and funny ways as possible.

The second point is, as I have written before, peak oil needs women (and minorities, and younger people, and just about everyone *but* middle aged petroleum engineers - we're doing ok there) to participate, and thus far we're doing a spectacularly crappy job of getting the attention of much of the populace. Whatever we do to address this, we've got to get women involved and included. *AND* we have to learn to laugh at ourselves. Self-righteousness will get us only so far before everyone gets bored and wanders off to watch "Snakes on a Plane."

Now Matt is right that the peak oil club is full of men who are famous for their intellects, not shapely behinds. There are a couple of exceptions. My co-writer Aaron Newton (and honorary boyfriend) has a not-unimpressive backside. I personally have a prejudice against men with chickens on their heads, plus we're both happily married, but some of you might find him enticing (sssh...don't tell Aaron that if the book gets published and we get famous, he's going to have to pose ;-) - and I'm sorry, you'll just have to imagine his rear end. It isn't my fault he left the important bits out). Back when I was in college, and Jaime Hecht of was my TA (we were briefly in the same Ph.d program as well), he was pretty damned hot. I haven't seen him in a decade or so, and he could resemble Bob Hoskins by now, but I'm guessing not - it would be a long trip down.

The germ of this idea came to me more than a year ago, when we ran a screening of the film _The End of Suburbia_ with some friends. One couple brought their two teenage daughters to see the movie, and the younger of the girls said to me that she was looking forward to the movie, because she'd heard the guys in it were really hot. After I finished cracking up, I managed to find out that she thought the film we were about to see was not a peak oil expose but a biopic of a band called, "Suburbia" or something. And somehow we got from there to playing a game we called "Peak Oil Idol," voting on the comparative cuteness of the talking figures in there.

Now it was probably a combination of lack of exciting options and the fact that several of the louder guests were women in their 40s and 50s, but Richard Heinberg won our competition with a slight lead over Julian Darley. I then took them off for a quick internet tour of the other options, people who did not appear in the film, including Bob Waldrop, who was then running for mayor of Oklahoma City and was a dark horse candidate for best looking peak oiler based on his really cool beard, visible here:

Now all of this is pretty stupid and arcane (although if you want to vote on who *you* think is the sexiest gent in the peak oil movement, feel free to do so in the comments - I'll definitely pass them on to the winners), and let's be honest, if there were more women in the peak oil movement, people would be making the same jokes about me in comparison, say, to Megan Quinn, that Matt's making about Roscoe Bartlett.

But what happened that night is that two teenage girls who were prepared to be bored and resentful of their parents' attempt to drag them to see an improving documentary had a really good time. And they got the message, and took it seriously. One of them is now in college, and on a recent visit home she mentioned that she was thinking hard about how the future is going to play out for her.

And the other adults had a good time too. Think about the enormity of that statement - they had a good time learning about peak oil. When was the last time *that* happened? Yes, they laughed at the gentlemen in question, but they also *heard* them. And the laughter wasn't the kind of laughter of frat boys pointing at the ugly girl, but the kind of laughter that comes with female culture, a slightly raunchy and affectionate kindness. Because women don't care that much how guys look. Matt made precisely this point a while back, and I agree with him - looks aren't the issue. What I disagree with is his conclusion, that because women don't judge men on their appearance in the same way that men judge women, women wouldn't want to see those pasty guys.

Because what women like is courage, and humor, wisdom and honor. And strip a smart, courageous, funny man down, who has the balls (and I mean that literally and figuratively) to stand up for what he believes in, no matter what it costs him, and you've got someone that most women would look at, naked or clothed, with admiration. Pasty isn't the issue. Fat or thin isn't the issue. It is that you can sometimes see something about how a man thinks of himself, and what he's willing sacrifice, where his ego is and what makes him laugh if he's willing to throw caution to the winds and risk something. Women who buy those fundraising calendars "Naked Guys of Rural Maine" or whatever don't do it because of prurience, for the most part. They do it for a good laugh, a little fun, and a look at what a certain kind of integrity looks like. It isn't something you have to strip to get at, but maybe it helps a little sometimes.

Again, I don't really have any plans to do this, but I'm still waiting for a better suggestion. And while I'm waiting, feel free to flood Matt's email account and tell him you want to see him pose, maybe with a small, cute sheep ;-).



RAS said...

LOL. While I appreciate the humor, as someone who lives an "alternative lifestyle" (or whatever the politically correct euphemism is these days) I must say that even if I was attracted to men, seeing a bunch of pasty white middle-aged petroleum engineers in the buff might just be enough to turn me to the other side!
(That's not meant to offend btw -a rough attempt at humor is all!)

Jana said...

I agree with what you say, but I think we do need petroleum engineers. I am a degreed, but not practicing chemical engineer. We are trained problem solvers. You will need people like us to get every bit of efficiency out of the resources that are available. Whether it is petroleum or not. Problem solving skills are readily adapted to solar heat and the like.

Keep on preaching!

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