Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Not dead!

Okay, it's definitely not appendicitis and it's most likely not Flesh-Eating Parasitic Hellbeast Disease either. Probably a kidney infection? Which is bad, but not surgery bad or "set your affairs in order" bad. I'm still waiting on lab results for a definitive diagnosis but the doctor assures me that I am not dying.

Whoo.

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EDIT: "Abdominal pain, cause unknown, call us if anything changes." Fuck! It's equal parts aggravating (thanks for the help, guys) and embarrassing (they presumably think I'm a crazy drug-seeking hypochondriac now).

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The sicks.

I have a wicked stomachache and a low fever. Is this:

A) Appendicitis or something horrible, go to the hospital
B) Gastroenteritis or the flu, stay home from work
C) Just whining, go to work

I'm leaning toward "C" for reasons having less to do with common sense and more with the knowledge that medical staff resent anyone who goes to the hospital with complaints less serious than "chainsaw explosion." Whereas working when you're clearly sicker than your patients is a sign of great toughness and dedication, rather than just being a contagious idiot with a martyr complex.

Either way, bleh.


---

I'm always annoyed when people are annoyed that Viagra is covered under health plans. Covering Viagra and not birth control is messed up, but the simple fact of covering Viagra isn't. It's not "frivolous" just because it's sexual and you don't have to have sex to live; healthcare is supposed to provide a quality of life beyond "not dead."

I can tell you this: if I were afflicted with a physical condition that made me incapable of experiencing most forms of sex, fixing this wouldn't be "recreational" or silly or gross; it would be a goddamn emergency.

Monday, June 28, 2010

No sex please, I'm a complete twit.

There was a time, when I was very young, when I thought of the New York Times as a very authoritative newspaper, a paper run by grownups who put in a real effort to spell everything right and read op-eds before they printed them and maybe not print incredibly stupid shit.

But then there's things like Camille Paglia's op-ed on "female Viagra." It's... well, it's fiskable, that's for sure.

WILL women soon have a Viagra of their own? Although a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recently rejected an application to market the drug flibanserin in the United States for women with low libido, it endorsed the potential benefits and urged further research. Several pharmaceutical companies are reported to be well along in the search for such a drug.
"Viagra" is really a poor term for a libido drug, since Viagra is fundamentally a vascular drug. It'll give you blood, but not desire; in the absence of libido, it makes sex possible, not fun. The "female Viagra," then, is just lube. But ignore all that and just get the gist that we're talking about a drug to increase libido in women.

Which I think is not a fundamentally bad idea. Certainly it could be used as relationship-glue, as a "c'mon, just take your pill and let's do this thing," but it could also be a useful option for women with sexual dysfunction. Ideally, the point of such a drug is to give women more control over their own sexuality, and that's a good thing.

The implication is that a new pill, despite its unforeseen side effects, is necessary to cure the sexual malaise that appears to have sunk over the country. But to what extent do these complaints about sexual apathy reflect a medical reality, and how much do they actually emanate from the anxious, overachieving, white upper middle class?
I was not aware we were going to medicate the country. I was under the impression that women were individuals and some of them had sexual dysfunctions and some of them didn't. Silly, silly me. I'm always mixing up zeitgeists and general cultural feelings and grand sweeping trends with things that happen to humans in reality.

I was further unaware that every woman in the country, or every woman with sexual dysfunction, was a member of the white upper middle class. I guess the implication here is that those lusty ethnics and blue-collar types surely have no such problems?

Only the diffuse New Age movement, inspired by nature-keyed Asian practices, has preserved the radical vision of the modern sexual revolution. But concrete power resides in America’s careerist technocracy, for which the elite schools, with their ideological view of gender as a social construct, are feeder cells.
Apparently "Asian," like anything that isn't white and upper-middle-class, is one of those concepts that just means generally foreigny and requires no specifics or research. If I get some vague associations of incense and spiritual stuff and flowy fabrics, it's either Asian or a liberal-arts dorm room, right?

I'm sure that the teachings of "elite schools" are a major factor in the sexual health of the average American.

Most aspects of gender are social constructs. I asked my female guinea pigs if they would prefer to wear pink dresses or blue pants; they tried to chew on the dress a little, then got nervous and hid in their cardboard tube. Stupid guinea pigs don't know that dresses are innately coded in their estrogen receptors.

In the discreet white-collar realm, men and women are interchangeable, doing the same, mind-based work. Physicality is suppressed; voices are lowered and gestures curtailed in sanitized office space. Men must neuter themselves, while ambitious women postpone procreation. Androgyny is bewitching in art, but in real life it can lead to stagnation and boredom, which no pill can cure.
Well, yes, men and women are the same at work, because they're there to work. Men going around grunting and swinging their cocks around, and women going around buying shoes and cooing at babies, are not workplace assets. I sound like I'm kidding, but I seriously don't know how I should express my gender at work. How do I do CPR like a woman?

Androgyny can be hot as fuck. Androgyny is not sexlessness, or even genderlessness--it's another form of gender expression. If acting like a "real man" or "real woman" gets you off, have at it. But don't tell me that just because I was born with a vagina I have to play along too.

There are enough debates about whether someone's partner should ever change their gender expression to accommodate them, and you think that everyone on Earth needs to play your little game? Wow.

Meanwhile, family life has put middle-class men in a bind; they are simply cogs in a domestic machine commanded by women. Contemporary moms have become virtuoso super-managers of a complex operation focused on the care and transport of children. But it’s not so easy to snap over from Apollonian control to Dionysian delirium.
Yeah, my ol' lady is in charge of the dishes and the laundry and the vacuuming, so I guess you could pretty much say she runs the house, ho ho.

And as for the "care and transport of children," well, what would you like done with the children? Sheesh.

Nor are husbands offering much stimulation in the male display department: visually, American men remain perpetual boys, as shown by the bulky T-shirts, loose shorts and sneakers they wear from preschool through midlife. The sexes, which used to occupy intriguingly separate worlds, are suffering from over-familiarity, a curse of the mundane. There’s no mystery left.
See, this is low journalistic standards right here: a sweeping generalization based on a sloppy and hackneyed stereotype, where not only was formal research obviously out of the question, but even momentary anecdotal (i.e., looking out the window) research seemed like too much work. It's just a nationally published opinion piece, I can knock this off before lunch.

Anyway, of course this is all insanely insulting to women who have biologically based problems with their sex drive. You don't need a pill, honey, you need him to put on a nicer shirt! It's on the level of telling people with clinical depression that they just need to think more positive thoughts.

Furthermore, thanks to a bourgeois white culture that values efficient bodies over voluptuous ones, American actresses have desexualized themselves, confusing sterile athleticism with female power. Their current Pilates-honed look is taut and tense — a boy’s thin limbs and narrow hips combined with amplified breasts. Contrast that with Latino and African-American taste, which runs toward the healthy silhouette of the bootylicious Beyonc√©.
Okay, I'm not one to scream "racist" at just anything, but this is kind of proble... it seems to be verging on... the implications carry certain historical... IT'S FUCKING RACIST!

Also apparently skinny people don't have sex. I'm learning so many things today.

On the other hand, rock music, once sexually pioneering, is in the dumps. [...] Late Madonna, in contrast, went bourgeois and turned scrawny. Madonna’s dance-track acolyte, Lady Gaga, with her compulsive overkill, is a high-concept fabrication without an ounce of genuine eroticism.
That ellipsis covers three paragraphs, but the tl;dr is "I haven't listened to music in thirty years."

Pharmaceutical companies will never find the holy grail of a female Viagra — not in this culture driven and drained by middle-class values. Inhibitions are stubbornly internal. And lust is too fiery to be left to the pharmacist.
Fun fact I found out doing some reading for the last Twisty post: before the invention of bronchodilator medications, asthma was thought to be a psychosomatic illness, and talking cures involving working out the "suppressed baby's cry" of wheezing were attempted. (The funny thing is, asthma can be emotionally induced. And if that's the case... a bronchodilator will still save your life.) I don't need to spell out the analogy here, do I?



I've seen both feminist and anti-feminist objections to "female Viagra," from concerns it will be used to try to "cure" asexuals or pornify women to the "we just need to go back to the days when men were REAL men, women were REAL women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were REAL small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri" nonsense on display here. But my feeling is that technology is good and choice is good. Some women with low libidos don't want them raised, some want to work out psychological causes, and some want to treat it medically. And dammit, they're all right and they should all have the option to do what they want. Between living in a world where I can take a libido drug or refuse it, or a world where I can only refuse it--I choose the former.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pining for apocalypse.

Apocalypse stories area always a little popular, aren't they? Whether it's nuclear war or pandemic or zombies, the upshot is the same: 99% of people are dead, and the story follows the other 1%. Their lives are utterly changed, and utterly refined down to the basics: get food, get shelter, don't get killed. There's something bizarrely appealing about this. Watching Zombieland for instance, the fun part isn't (just) blasting away zombies; the fun part is that the heroes all pile in a car and just go. They leave their homes with nothing and never come back.

I'm frustrated sometimes by the amount of stuff that's attached to me. I'm not just a woman; I'm a woman and a job and a family and a blog and a history and a group of friends and two guinea pigs and a chest of drawers and way too many books. I like all this stuff, but it's a lot to carry around. It takes up almost all my time; almost all my self. I spend half my waking life working at a job to afford the possessions and pursuits that take up the other half. Now, that job contributes an important service to society and those possessions and pursuits give me great value and joy, so it's not a bad deal and I don't intend to ditch it. I just wonder sometimes what it would be like to have a different deal with life.

Now and then I have goofy little fantasies about walking into the wilderness and whatever random spot I ended up at, there I'd be. I would need only food and water, know only trees and dirt, sleep when I was tired and eat when I was hungry. When I moved around I would bring nothing with me. I would exist only as myself. ('Til I starved to death in an abandoned bus.)

The closest I can get to that state, the little taste of apocalyptic wilderness, is sex. In sex I am naked and many things do not matter. I have a tight and sensitive pussy and that matters; what my job is and whether my car needs maintenance do not. Depersonalization, in this way, isn't a degradation but a relief. Sometimes I don't want to be all the complex and beautiful things that make up me. Sometimes I want to be a body.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

TWIFI: Porn Comments!

Sometimes I feel bad doing the Twisty posts, because she's not much of a real-life threat, is she? The effects of sexism can be felt in daily life; the effects of Internet radical feminism seem rather safely contained to a little circle of crazy-person blogs. I feel like I'm arguing with flat-Earth believers: yes, they're wrong, and if anyone listened to them it would be very dangerous, but they're not doing any harm, sheesh.

But hey, I'm not exactly dictating public policy either, am I? So I might as well have fun. And oh is there fun to be had. Let's read the comments on the porn post.

I’m so sick of (dudes using) Danish people as the measuring stick of “healthy “progressive” European freedom. Yes, they can smoke do heroin and look at prostituted women in red-lit windows drunk on Guiness after smoking expensive hash in a cafe. Therefore they know everything there is to know about life? Durr.
Ladies and gentlemen, Denmark.

"And their wooden shoes and their dikes and their stupid little windmills too. Just because they have tulips and Gouda they think they're soooo special, those Danish people."

When people argue that sexology research is actually kind of important, Twisty replies:
I remain unmoved by this romanticized mystification — it’s so “wondrous” and “complex” — to which sex is constantly subjected. Whatever bangs your box, of course, but to me orgasms lack the nuance and sophistication of other human pursuits (such as playing the autoharp, or reading to the sick) and so fall a bit short when you’re talking about high moral purpose.
Well that's nice for you. But you know what? I don't play the autoharp, but I would never tell anyone else not to, or talk as if autoharp mastery was some sort of forbidden knowledge. How about you devote yourself to autoharping, and I devote myself to the study and pursuit of sex, and we live happily ever after?

Don't tell me "whatever bangs your box" and then tell me that my form of box-banging is rape and won't exist when you get your way.

Alas, this is why I prefer to hold up women’s intuition, which is actually a rational scientific tool of reasoning, over dude science any day. That doesn’t mean science is bad, it means that woman’s intuition is often far superior.
I have asthma. It's not the worst, it only comes up occasionally if I breathe really nasty dust, but when I get an attack it doesn't go away on its own. In any time or place that didn't have albuterol (or at least epinephrine), I would never have made it to adulthood. And albuterol, I am led to believe, was not developed through intuition and the deep wisdom if the Earth. It was made in a lab, by scientists, and it's the reason I haven't painfully choked to death.

So if it's all the same to you, I don't want to assign intuition to women and science to men, because science is really really useful and women contribute to it. I mean, am I really the one on the side of sexism here? You're the one telling me science is some dude thing and that ladies should just stick to having feelings! Christ!

I hate how ‘free speech’ is used to silence the most undebatable research and arguments. That phrase has no meaning or value. It’s ridiculous and is used in every rebuttal to complaints against sexism. ‘free speech’ is starting to sound more like an insult every time it’s used.
Okay, you know that thing you just said? How other people are able to see it and you will face no adverse legal consequences for saying it--probably no adverse consequences at all? That's your meaning and value, dumbass.

A man can’t gag, strike, humiliate, abuse, rape and physically punish a woman legally (ok…he can’t nominally), but if he records it and calls it ‘porn’ suddenly he can. What’s the difference?
Oh come on, would you people take the tiniest effort to learn what porn actually is? I have to shop around to get good humiliating and physical punishing. (Which, of course, I enjoy not because I hate the actress but because I assume she's having as much fun with those things as I do.) Most porn just has fucking. And fucking, I hate to tell you, is pretty much legal in all 50 states and Denmark.

Never in my life have I known a woman to seek out porn to get her through a lonely Saturday night.
Well hi. My name is Holly. You know me now. Stop making sweeping assumptions about my gender.

They like watching it because it degrades and harms women, and women don’t like it. Else porn would be full of women doing things that delight us sexually, none of which would include being choked by phalluses, receiving ejaculate on the face, being anally raped, or any of the other myriad “harmless” porn activities the dudes so frantically defend.
Well hi. My name is Holly. I delight in these things. Stop making sweeping assumptions about my gender. (Actually I have trouble with the "choked by phalluses" part because I have a really tricky gag reflex, but I love sucking cock as long as it's not a choking thing, so I'm, like... a human being with preferences and quirks that you can't know just by looking, how 'bout that.)

If gang rape can be a quotidian scenario in porn, how long until children, animals and murder become the new lows to meet the insatiable desires of the masturbating consumer?
Oh Nonsensical Slippery Slope, my old friend. "If we allow Dr. Pepper at soda fountains, how long until they start serving human blood?"

But you want someone to prove they have the right to dictate “meaningful consent” so okay let’s go there. My definition of meaningful consent is consent without the presence of socialized brainwashing since birth.
Well great, now no one can consent to anything ever. Big help there.


This shit is like Kevin Bacon; it takes less than seven steps from any topic to explaining why women can't consent to sex. Ugh. Now I remember the real reason I feel bad after I write these posts.

TFIFI: Porn!

To quickly get the "porn vs. erotica" argument out of the way, before we even start: I have never heard any definition of "erotica" that didn't translate to "the porn that I happen to like." (Or worse, soft fuzzy wuzzy vaseline-lens porn that's all about cunnilingus and spooning. Because rough sex is evil and all women hate it.)

So, in a post that is apparently rocking the Internet or whatevers, Twisty Faster vs. Porn. Oh, and also science, a little bit.

The setup: a scienceblogger proposes a mostly-tongue-in-cheek "experiment" in which he watches a shit-ton of porn, then reports whether his view of women has changed. Not really scientific, but as a silly little blog-project, seems unobjectionable to me--he also discusses a lot of more real research on the effects of porn.

Hahaha! An experiment where you have to watch tons of porn! That’s a funny joke! It reminds me of real sexology experiments. Like the ones where subjects are naked and “invasive probes and electrodes” are inserted into their vaginas. Those researchers are, of course, totally objective professionals when it comes to getting grant money to make porn right in their own labs.
It would be better to never study what goes on inside vaginas, and leave them as enigmatic, untouchable mysteries forever. To do otherwise is undoubtedly both sexual and wrong.

Also, everyone doing vagina research must be a straight man, because science is like totally a dude thing, right?

You know, the usual. Pornography is “free speech.” Pornography is only harmful to the user when he is a deviant perv to begin with. Male aggression is associated with buttloads of porn use only in a select few previously-messed-up douchebags. ‘Normal’ porn consumers, i.e. ‘most’ men (fully 98% of all men, apparently, and 80% of all women), are happy, healthy, well-adjusted, and brimming with contentment. It’s the kook-and-psychopath minority out there who get all compulsive on your ass, or who act out all rapey, giving well-adjusted exploiters a bad name.
Well... yeah. Exactly. Repeating a valid argument in a snotty voice hasn't counted as a counterargument since fifth grade.

(What I did above was a penetratingly revealing rephrasing, okay? Sssh.)

Goldman cites no research on the effects of pornography on the pornulated women themselves, or of porn culture on women’s status within the sexbot continuum.
This is the great paradox of Twisty Faster: the insistence that women should never be viewed as sexbots, combined with continual annoyance that so many dumb sluts go around being sexbots.

What if--I'm just blue-skyin' here--there was a woman who had been photographed naked but was not a sexbot? What if this woman liked to read old science fiction, grew tomatoes on her balcony, had been photographed naked, was afraid of sharks, and loved the smell of the earth after a summer rain? Is calling her a "pornulated sexbot" really an insult to our culture--or to her?

Second question: does updating "been photographed naked" to "been photographed covered in welts and tears with one man's cock in her ass and another's fingers in her cunt" change a goddamn thing above?

In fact, he seems to suggest that there are but two possible stances on porn. You’re either for it, or you’re for banning it. He omits to consider other, more elegant schemes. Such as the solution we advocate here on Savage Death Island, wherein pornography is made, not illegal, but obsolete, via elimination of the sex class, which may be accomplished by feminist revolt. There is a difference between banning porn and eradicating the demand for porn, a delicate nuance that no dude ever seems able to contemplate.
Yes. The difference is that the former is possible but ill-advised, and the latter is completely fucking impossible. Because the desire for porn is, essentially, the desire to masturbate. I don't get off if I don't fantasize. Why is borrowing someone else's fantasies different? Certainly porn can be unethically produced and often is, but that's not a fundamental problem--the concept of filming consenting adults fucking and then jerking off to the film seems dandy to me.

Anyway, what the hell kind of revolt is this going to be where people won't masturbate anymore? I know, I know, that's twisting the argument, after the revolution people will masturbate strictly to thoughts of cuddles and frank emotional discussions. (Wait... is cuddling exploitative? Like if the woman is only a cuddle object to you? Problematic.) Or while facing a blank wall.

Like all men who claim to have a bunch of sex-poz feminist BFFs and who consider that access to porn is guaranteed under the Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women,
"Claim to?" What am I, chopped liver? Oh, that's right, I'm the wrong sort of woman, thus removing my voice and vote is best for society. FEMINISM!

Hey, another question: what about gay porn? Like, with two dudes? Would two-dudes porn be okay? I can usually get off to that.

And a serious question: is it the specific porn actress that we're worried about being used, or the general idea of women? Because if it's the specific actress, the answer is to only watch ethically made porn where you can be reasonably sure that everyone involved is sober and giving informed consent and not paying off a pimp or something. (Yes, this exists. I think.) And if it's the latter, I feel like Twisty is confusing sexual attraction with use. As long as sex isn't the only way someone interacts with femininity, I frankly enjoy it when it's one of the ways.

Goldman doesn’t appear to grasp that patriarchy — a social order predicated on the oppression of women as a sex class — is actually real, and that as such, ours is a culture of domination wherein the ‘art form’ known as pornography is the graphic representation of rape.
No. It's the graphic representation of sex. There's so much footage of so many different kinds of sex out there in Pornland, that saying "all porn is rape" is equivalent to saying "all sex is rape." At which point there is no such thing as sex, at which point we are no longer on Earth-1218.

There's some back-and-forthing about the comments to someone else's blog that I'm going to skip over because at some point it's just not worth it to metametametametablog everything, but what Twisty considers the money quote is:
Paying for a luxury item with such an immense human cost is deplorable. No porn is worth it, and I don’t think people should be free to buy something that causes the rape of women. What is crazy is that the rape of a woman can become speech if someone takes a picture.
But how does the sex life of a woman become rape if someone takes a picture?

Look. I'm not going to wear myself out defending Max Hardcore and Joe Francis here. Sectors of the porn industry--I'm not sure how dominant those sectors are, but they're not small--are sleazy as fuck and treat women like shit. (There are also producers like NoFauxxx and Pink & White that maintain excellent reputations for operating in above-board and decent fashion.) But let's talk about the very concept of porn here, not the execution. I'm naked right now, as I type this, and I'm kind of playing with a dildo, just idly. (My writing process is very complex.) If I take a picture right now and sell it, am I--necessarily, intrinsically, 100% of the time--getting raped?

And don't tell me that isn't porn, unless you want to explain exactly where the line is. If the answer is "it's porn when it's rape!" that would actually be awesome, because then we can still have lots of videos of people fucking! Whee, we all agree now, let's go home.



Comments next! Oh I do love the comments.


POSTSCRIPT: After I wrote this, I went and jerked off to some porn. (Don't worry, I only use organic free-range artisanal porn.) I'm not trying to be difficult or whatever by mentioning this, I just think it's funny. And now I'm much more relaxed. Ahhh.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

In so many words.

For the longest time I agonized about how to say certain things. How do you ask a boy if he likes you? How do you ask for freaky things in bed? How do you tell your friends, when it's relevant or it's just gnawing at you, that your love life is a little different? How can you possibly communicate these concepts?

The answer, I'm finding is, "in so many words." Just say it. So how do you find out if a boy likes you? Turns out the magic words are: "[Boy], do you like me?" There's no trick to it, there's no secret code; the way to say a difficult thing is simply to say it.

What I was really asking, of course, is how I could say these things without taking any risks. I didn't want to know how to tell if a boy liked me, I wanted him to like me. I wanted to know some magical way to ask that the answer would always be yes. My pretended difficulty in asking was really a difficulty in hearing the truth.

There were two separate difficulties within that: the fear of opening Schrödinger's box, and the fear of asking wrong. The first fear is real, but useless. It's the feeling that "right now there's a 50% chance that he likes me, so I can enjoy the feeling of being theoretically 50% liked! If I find out for sure, he could say "no" and the waveform will collapse and I'll have 0% of a boy!" I was so afraid of finding a dead cat that I never looked in the box and ended up with no cat at all.

The second fear, that of asking wrong, was even harder to get over. This is the idea--the hallucination, really--that there's a way to phrase the question that will make a "no" into a "aww, you're really sweet but I don't feel that way right now, but things are still developing"; and another way that will make a "no" into a "no way, not ever, how could you even ask, in fact I hate you." Or worse yet, that the way I asked could somehow in itself make the difference between "yes" and "no."

But the truth is, I think, that people aren't really that subtly and dramatically influenced by my phrasing or timing. People's opinions aren't subatomic particles; they aren't irreparably changed by being observed. Even a clumsy question will get a sweet response out of a sweet guy, and there's definitely no remotely honest way to ask that will turn a "no" into a "yes." The question is simply "do you like me?" and the answer has already been formed in his mind and all your previous interactions.

The search for the magical phrase is over. The search for the way to suss things out without asking asking is finished. The way to say a thing is to simply say it, and whether things go your way or not (sometimes really not), at least you know what the hell is going on.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Best Friend Rape Prevention.




One of the ongoing kerfuffles in Internet Feminism is the idea of rape prevention advice. On the one hand, it's good to know anything that might keep you from getting raped, right? But on the other hand, some people don't like the slight undertones of "those stupid rape victims, they should have known this stuff!" Or the non-slight undertones of "ladies can't just go outside and interact with the world any old way they'd like, because they're ladies!" Which usually gets countered with "look, it may not be fair, but rapists aren't fair!" And then the comment thread gets really grouchy.

My take on the kerfuffle: I apply all rape prevention advice to one simple test. "Would this protect me from my best friend?" Because that's how it usually goes down, doesn't it? Random goons on the street and invading homes have nothing statistically on friends, dates, and partners.

So let's look at some common rape prevention tips in that light.

-Always be aware of your surroundings. Avoid walking alone in isolated or poorly-lit settings.
My best friend is right here with me and I'm aware of him.

-Don't get drunk around people you can't trust. Never leave your drink unattended.
I can totally trust my best friend to take care of me if I get smashed, and he'll watch my drink.

-Never pick up hitchhikers. Never, ever get into a stranger's car, and fight them tooth and nail if they try to make you get in the car.
Of course not, but I'll give my best friend a ride. And sure, I'll let him give me a ride.

-Carry mace or a stun gun [or, depending on the politics of the list-writer, a handgun]
I can't shoot my best friend! Maybe, maybe if he gets all "Grrr, I'm going to rape you now," I'll be able to mace or stun-gun him. (Mace, incidentally, is an extremely double-edged sword indoors.) But if his approach is more "I thought you liked this, why are you being so cruel to me?"--or if it's "I'm already basically on top of you and you can barely breathe much less surreptitiously reach for anything"--there's no way I could do it.

Never open the door for a stranger.
Of course not, I opened the door for my best friend.



The fact is, I have no defenses against close friends. I'll let myself be alone with them, I'll get in their cars, I'll fall asleep in their presence, I'll undress in front of some of them--and I wouldn't have it any other way. I trust my friends, and I know that a lot of rape victims also trusted their friends, and I don't think there's anything I can do about this.

(To any friends reading this: I don't mean you, honey! I don't think you're going to rape me! Although that's kind of the point here.)

I could stay safe by treating my friends like strangers, but then they wouldn't be friends, and that's just not worth it to me. I take my chances, and I don't like it when I think about it in this light, but I take my chances and try to choose my friends carefully, and I try really really hard to ferret out and ostracize "she friend-zoned me, but I deserve sex" thinkers, and I think that's all I can do.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Various quick thoughts.

-I know it's supposed to be insulting to women and juvenile and stuff, but "The Shocker" seems like it would actually feel pretty good. It might be awkward for your hand though.

-True fact: speculums (specula?) come in "small" and "medium." I can think of at least two different reasons everyone wanted to avoid the "nurse, I'm going to need a large here" scenario.

-Before this weekend, I had never actually been "motorboated."

-I can take much bigger, um, insertions during phone sex than I can during masturbation. Even though nothing is physically different! It's just the power of the mind! It's things like this that make me believe magic is real.

-The ratio of "how much intercourse I've been having : how happy I feel about my sex life" has never been lower. Not that I'd mind some intercourse. It would make me so happy that the ratio would actually drop further.

-For a long time, I was pretty attached to the whole "Oh, I'm not really a submissive, I just roleplay it under very specific circumstances!" thing. Which is still technically true, but I'm starting to wonder if it wouldn't be fun to expand my circumstances. Like the whole "I'll get off on it, but I won't do your dishes!" thing... I think I might get off on dishes. Maybe.

-I've mostly stopped wearing underpants. The exception is scenarios where I'm likely to take my pants off. Then I wear them because I wouldn't want to be too forward or anything.

-You know, I do like confident and attractive and highly sexual men more than the alternatives. Is this... unfair?

-I fucked a Twilight chick once. I didn't find out about the Twilight thing until the next morning. I... I don't want to talk about it.

-Sometimes I grope myself. Not like masturbation. Just like, man, I have kind of a nice smooth round ass. I should get a feel of that. Oh yeah.

-I have to get blood drawn today. I'm terrified. I spend half my life sticking needles in other people with no remorse, and the other half being voluntarily subjected to pain and humiliation, but I don't wanna do this, wahhh.

[Edit: They did the draw and I barely felt it. So much for terror.]

-Mostly, I don't want to go to the doctor at all, even though I really need to, because in my experience there's a 50% chance that the answer to everything will be "You're fat. Probably all your problems stem from being fat. Have you tried eating less and exercising more?"

-Not that this is necessarily wrong in all cases, although I do think it's over-applied by some doctors. It's just an awkward situation all around when a medical condition also happens to be one of the gravest insults in our culture. "Ma'am, I believe your illness is exacerbated by your being more [lazy and greedy and sexless and disgusting] than is appropriate for your height."

-On the whole, though, I'm feeling better than usual about my body lately. Like, I feel like I actually have something to offer boys, rather than something that hopefully they'll forgive. I'm all "you want this" instead of "you want this?"

-Some of this is because of something I realized lately: I haven't been insulted much recently. (Well, some at work, but that never counts; if someone says that they're Zorblax of Mars or that they had "just two beers," I don't take the rest of their opinions to heart.) I feel like I used to get much more flak about my appearance, and now it's been a long time since anyone's described me as anything other than a reasonably cute young woman.

-This is partly because I've gotten better at choosing who I associate with--trying to get the approval of assholes is almost as addictive as it is pointless--and partly because I think I've changed how I present myself. I used to do a lot of either seeking approval ("do you think I'm fat?") or trying to hide myself ("if no one can see my body under this XXXL men's outfit, no one can hate it!"), and these days I tend to go out with the assumption that I'm a reasonably cute young woman, and should conduct myself accordingly. I think that assumption is contagious, even to assholes.

-Although clearly I'm not 100% cured of body-image issues, since I still write things like this.

-Wow, the "random thoughts" format kinda broke down there, didn't it?

-Is it weird that my emotional reaction to people with polyamorous and/or kinky households is much less "so hot" and much more "aww, warm fuzzies!"? Because it is. It appeals less to my "oh yeah lots of fucking" impulses and much more to my "big happy family!" ones.

-I get crushes on Internet sketch comedy members alarmingly often. Michael Swaim, Zach Weiner, Trevor Moore--SO HOT.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Search Term... Sightseeing Journey! Part III.

cissplaining
Although I have never heard this term before, I instantly understand the meaning, and the meaning has something to do with "well, yes, I know it's your entire identity, but what about bathroom stalls? And pronouns? Dear God won't someone think about the bathrooms and pronouns?"

roissy asshole
Six different people searched on this phrase this month, and I love them all.

"paradox fetish"
So I want to go back in time and fuck myself, but I don't remember fucking myself, but if I go back in time my memory of that will change, but if my memory changes I won't be fucking myself for the first time, but it will be the first time for me... OHHHHH GOD I just came.

invisible nipple


how to fuck a girl in first date
This seems to have surpassed "can I get pregnant by doing X?" as my most frequently asked terrible question. And my answer is that probably you can't, but the two most important steps to improve your odds are:
1) Politely ask. Women may assume that you're not interested in fucking on the first date, and for that reason aren't going to make advances. Even I'm pretty reluctant to initiate sex on a first date unless I'm receiving some very clear signals.
2) It's not a "first date" if there's no chance of a second date. Guys who pressure girls for sex, then write them off as slutty or "already beat that game, now it's not interesting" afterwards, have burned a lot of otherwise-eager girls.

And using a date to fuck a woman you aren't interested in at all, without telling her that it's only casual sex--that's not a date, that's a scam.

"are there heterosexual women"
Yes.

"feminist histrionics"
You know, I don't think I've ever seen such a beast. Even radfems, who are about the loopiest people using the label "feminist" that I know, aren't really histrionic. They're wrong, often offensively wrong, but I wouldn't say that they're over-emotional or flailing around loudly or whatever. I've really never heard a feminist in a political discussion--even a crazy one--shriek.

(Side note: I hate, hate, hate the descriptor "shrill" when dismissing women. Yes, women's voices do tend to be high-pitched.  Thanks for noticing.)

"multiple parasitic beasts"
With every search term, I get a little note of how long the person stayed and how many pages they viewed. Often, especially with off-topic terms like this, they only stay a few seconds before realizing I wasn't what they wanted and backing out. But this person stayed. Whatever page they found on my blog that matched this query, they liked it.

% of alpha males % beta males in general population
Someone hands you a survey. "Are you an alpha male or a beta male?" You know what the fuck they're talking about, know the answer unambigously, and write it down honestly. Thousands of other people, in a fair sampling of the male population, do the same. A pig soars high above, wings shimmering in the afternoon sunlight.

beta male fucking cunt bitches
"And I just don't know why women don't love me!"

can you look like an ordinary guy and have a girlfriend
Oh no, never. That's why humans ordinarily live in harems with large outlying packs of bachelor males, as you can easily see in the media or among your friends or any time you fucking go outdoors and see what human society looks like.

cfnm site aimed at straight men
That would be all of them.

first they're nice then they're bitchy pua
The usual order of things is "first they're nice, pua, then they're bitchy."

how to tell if you were a prodigy and just didn't express it
It's like how you tell if you're a natural blonde and just happen to grow brown hair.

if you dont fuck me i'll leave you free porn
Win/win?

the venusian arts how to pick up a barista
Oh god, people, please leave your baristas alone. They have to smile at you, okay? Their bosses tell them to. That is the smile of "I'll lose my income and health insurance if I don't smile." It does not mean you "really have something special there."

why do beta males get no love?
I have a huge, huge number of queries about "beta males," and they all annoy and depress me tremendously.

YOU ARE NOT A WOLF. THERE IS NO SUCH FUCKING THING AS AN ALPHA OR BETA HUMAN. TAKE SOME GODDAMN RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELF.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Bad Thing.

[For several obvious reasons, there can't be details here.]

A Bad Thing happened at work. Which is no surprise; my work by definition is knee-deep in bad things, but this Thing was worse. It was really quite bad. Not to me, I was fine, but to some stranger.

I didn't cry afterwards, which was strange. I don't cry at work, of course, but when something really shakes me up I usually get in a few sniffles on the drive home or before I go to sleep. This time I did not. All I could think was "it's somebody else's problem," and I felt blank. Not "I'm in shock, everything is in slow motion and far away and much too quiet" blank, just okay. Like I'd just been handling luggage or whatever. Like I was intellectually aware that bad things happen in the world, but my day was fine except I have this annoying cut on my knuckle that catches every time I take off my gloves.

I actually tried to make myself cry when I woke up. I watched sad videos about animals until I successfully got tears, but I think I was only crying for the animals. I mean, awww, little girl lost her doggy, sniffle. That's something I can cry about.

I think the answer is that I'm really okay. I don't think I'm suppressing some horrible gush of emotion, I think I've just dealt with the Bad Thing faster and more effectively than I expected myself to. It's not my first Bad Thing and it was in no way personal for me. And this not-caring is expected and good, right? You can't cry every time a bad thing happens to a stranger, and it shouldn't make that much difference that you merely witnessed it. I'm not fucked-up, I'm adapting--for my own protection, for my usefulness to others. And everyone does. The old cliche ER doctor going "It. Never. Gets. Any. Easier!"? Not only does it get easier, it's supposed to. Does anyone want to be attended by a crying EMT?

Maybe next time I won't even care about not caring.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Shoes.

I was feeling really happy earlier this morning. My life is better than I ever thought it would be. I've got a fun job, I live in a great place, I've got good friends and I've got sexual options. I'm more able to be myself and to have fun than I ever thought would be. It's a good time and my future looks bright.

Then I picked up a copy of "Redbook" that someone from another shift had left at my desk at work. It had an article on "things that are better than sex." They were all pretty bullshit--not that sex is the best things ever, but these were all really petty things--but the one that got me was about shoes.

[paraphrase] "Finding a great new pair of shoes is way better than sex. Every time I put them on I get that 'yes, yes, yes!' feeling."

And that just brought down my whole mood.

Fucking shoes, man. I have, like, five pairs? Sneakers, sandals, dressy boots, hiking boots, steel-toes. I'm good with that. I mean, nothing against people who like shoes for fashion, that's fine, but I find that the basic set fits my personal needs. I don't get sexual ecstasy from any of them. Okay, a little bit from the steel-toes. But even then, it's not literally a "yes, yes, yes!". And sex is literally that.

(Or it's a "no, no, ooh please no Daddy," but as so often in these feminism posts, I have enough trouble explaining regular sex to some people. Bringing "well it's not incest it's Daddy-girl and that's different" and "well it's not rape it's just reluctance role-play" is wayyyy too many cans of worms for someone who'd rather buy shoes. These things coexist for me, though. I tend to speak from a pseudo-vanilla perspective just for the sake of making points on the mainstream, but it's not like my kink turns off. I'm not reading about shoes as someone who'd rather fuck, I'm reading about them as someone who'd rather get held down and fucked by Daddy. Which makes everything just that much weirder.)

The funny thing is, I'm not sure sex is the best thing in the world. I mean, it's up there, but compared to, I dunno, the completion of a long difficult project or the saving of a life or the creation of a perfectly expressive work of art? Oh, but women don't do stuff like that, that's for grown-ups. Women buy shoes.

Fucking shoes, man. It's kind of a slur to talk about women and shoes, isn't it? It's a hurtful stereotype. Oh, not that we wear shoes, but that shoes are this thing for us. The Dreaded PC Police have told me that comparing oppressions is naughty so I won't go into any analogies, but repeatedly hearing "you people all like this particular trivial thing," even when the thing itself is harmless, is offensive.

You know what I really like? Being barefoot. It's not safe in a lot of settings, but when it is, it feels so good. It opens up an entire new dimension to be constantly perceiving the touch of the world. The difference between dirt and pavement, wood and tile, between sunlit and shadowed ground, so trivial in shod life, becomes suddenly significant. Being barefoot opens up an entirely new surface of my body, and it's wonderful.

Still not better than sex though.

Secretary.

First, a quick link: this is COMPLETELY FUCKED. I'm not going to write a full entry on it, because other bloggers have said a lot already and it's very self-evident why this is fucked. But in case you hadn't heard about it, you should, because it's really fucked.

---

Last night I got the weird urge to rewatch Secretary. I kind of love this movie. Partly because it's just about my only option for positive portrayals of BDSM in the mainstream media; certainly it's the only positive portrayal of male domination that I can think of. Here are some of the things I love:

-James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal are so sexy oh my god.

-There are no stereotypical BDSM outfits and gear. God I'm sick of black leather strappy stuff--almost invariably on a woman or a comic-relief gay man--being shorthand for "kinky" in the media.

-The soundtrack is really nice. It's neither sleazy nor over-serious, but... languid, almost meditative, but not chaste. Leonard Cohen makes the sexy montage sexier, and "Chariots Rise" gets me close to sniffles.

-This is the only movie I've ever seen (including porn!) that shows a woman masturbating the way I actually do it! Let's hear it for face-down hand-humping!

-Maggie Gyllenhaal never loses her sympathy or dignity when doing very undignified things. Whether she's getting spanked or jerked off on or pissing herself in a wedding dress, she comes off as confused but brave, not objectified. She's also brave with her body, and does a nude scene that doesn't read as "ooh, the nude scene" but as symbolic of her character development.

-The way James Spader makes a better secretary out of Maggie Gyllenhaal is almost as hot as the actual kink and sex. Something in the patient, firm way he corrects her is fascinating to me. I can picture my own secretarial skills increasing immensely under such situations.

-Cosmopolitan Magazine shout-out!

-The ending where James Spader washes her and beds her on a completely fucking mysterious bed of grass. It's bizarre and a little romance-novely, but I love the way he worships her body without losing his Domliness.

-The scene where he jerks off on her back is so fucked up. In a good way. It's one of those experiences that's so fucked-up you can't even totally justify it in Kinkland, you can't justify it to anyone including yourself and your partner, it's crossing from the "tee hee so naughty" to the "really not okay." Even if crossing that line is rarely a good idea, I love to see it explored.

-Spanking!

-"...and four peas."

And here are a few things I don't love:

-Maggie Gyllenhaal's only encounter with the BDSM world outside James Spader is a bunch of tomato-fetishizing freaks. What's up with that? They're not the only two kinky yet reasonable people in the world, and believing that you're the Only True Kinksters is, in reality, somewhere between snobby and dangerous.

-She coulda let her fiance down a little easier, for Christ's sake. She knew months in advance that he wasn't what she wanted, and her decision to go ahead with the wedding anyway isn't agonizingly conflicted, it's just assholish.

-Their "Justice of the Peace" wedding seems a little sad to me. I mean, maybe that's just the way they wanted it, but it seems like there's an implication that because they're kinky they must be isolated, that they couldn't have invited any friends and family to the wedding.

-At times the movie seems to have a certain "no actual kinksters were harmed" feel to it, like everyone did thorough library research on the subject but of course they're normal. I can understand why the cast and crew might not want to publicize such a thing, and I assume that someone involved in the writing was actually kinky, but it sometimes comes off as almost anthropological, a view from the outside.

-The sexual-harassment-tastic job interview.

-Horse tack? Complete with straw on the desk and a carrot in her mouth? Really? Really?

-Let's face it, "I'll sit at your desk until you marry me" is a little bit crazypants.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Withholding.

Fox News: Reasons Women Withhold Sex.

I think I'm about done with the phrase "withhold sex." In fact, I'd be okay not using any more phrasing about how sex is given or taken. Sex isn't an object, it's an activity, and it can only be had or not had. So let's talk about "Reasons Women Don't Have Sex."

Which is like "Reasons Women Don't Have Lunch," isn't it? Sometimes women simply aren't hungry or have no food available, but other times they may find the food choices unpalatable, or not have time to eat, or wish to avoid others in the dining area! Fascinatingly complex creatures.

Some women make a habit of withholding sex from their partners, while some only do it under very specific circumstances. To men, this seems like cruel and unusual punishment.
Some women have sex very often, while others prefer to have sex less often. To men who think everything is about them, this seems like it's all about them.

Of course, there is a difference between a woman simply not wanting to have sex and purposefully withholding it.
This sentence stands alone, with no attached "ways to tell" discussion, so I assume the rule of thumb is "if she doesn't want sex and this makes you feel bad, she's purposefully withholding it."

I'm not trying to deny that women sometimes don't-have-sex because of their feelings about their partner, or to manipulate their partner. But that's not every time. Personally, I've never withheld sex in a relationship, because I couldn't withhold it from myself, but I've turned down sex, um, ones of times! For reasons that had to do with both my partner and myself. And most importantly, reasons that I wanted respected at the time, not "solved." If I'm not fucking you because I'm unhappy, the main problem is the unhappiness; the fucking problem is only a symptom.

She’s pissed
This is probably the most common reason that women withhold sex. If you’ve done something that made her furious, she may not be above punishing you by keeping the one thing you really, really want out of your reach.

It's not about how bad you want it. It's about how I don't really like to fuck people I'm not fond of at the moment. I'd have to smell their breath and do stuff for them and everything. When I'm angry at you, I don't want to have you inside my body. This is not some ultimate cruelty that I'm "not above."

Sometimes simply acknowledging that you’ve done something wrong is enough to make her calm down. Other times, the only way to get out of the doghouse is to participate in one of those long, heartfelt conversations in which you share feelings.
Oh what a chore. Definitely not something any man would ever want to do, sharing emotions with someone he has a supposedly emotional relationship with.

She’s asserting herself
If she’s keeping the good loving from you, it may be an attempt to assert her power over you and the relationship. If there’s one area of a relationship women think they have control over, it’s sex. She may just be doing it to show you who’s boss in bed or she may be compensating for feeling powerless in some other aspect of her life. Maybe she has a cruel boss, a domineering best friend or an overprotective mother.

No, no, an overprotective mother makes me fuck more; you've got it so backwards. But yes, women do have control over sex, in the sense that they can say no to it. Wow, what amazing power. It's like saying that because I can refuse to take a job, I have total power over where I work; there's two separate misconceptions in there. Veto power is a very limited sort of power, and few people really enjoy just vetoing everything.

She’s manipulating you
Another reason women withhold sex is to get something out of you. When no other methods of getting what she wants are working, she might resort to revoking your sex privileges until you agree to what she’s after.

This isn't going to be a mystery, though, is it? Generally you either flat-out say "We're not having sex until X", or you at least make your requests for X very obviously coincident with the non-fucking, right? So this isn't something that has to be subtly puzzled out. Unless she's crazy and wants you to read her mind, but in that case--are you sure you want to fuck this person?

Again, ugh, "sex privileges." It's not like I can just hand you the key. I have to be there the whole time and everything.

Playing games
Women withhold sex because men let them get away with it.

Oh Jesus. I don't have to explain why this is extremely fucked up, right?

It’s pretty clear it’s the one thing that most guys can’t live without and that they’ll do pretty much anything to keep it coming on a regular basis.
It's pretty clear that most guys can live without it, considering how many single men won't hire a prostitute or even have casual sex that isn't quite right. Partnered sex isn't like oxygen for men; it's just nice. Very nice, certainly, but you won't wither and die. A unilaterally-decided lack of sex is a relationship problem, not a torture method.

If you and your girlfriend can openly communicate, you should be able to talk through these issues as they come up instead of getting to the point where she’s closing her legs while you’re begging for it.
Articles like this always seem to end with an admonishment to communicate and be respectful and all those things that the rest of the article told you not to do. Just to prove that they really do support responsible behavior, despite what you might think from reading the entire rest of the article.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Locus of control.

Okay, sleep deprivation temporarily resolved, back to putting effort into this blog. Apologies for the less-effort, I know it's been showing lately.

---

The ancient Greeks believed there were two kinds of fate. There's the kind that you earn in consequence for your actions, and the kind that just happens because it's fate. Maybe your goats died because you had it coming, or maybe they just got sick. Consequences and destiny.

(I feel bad saying "the ancient Greeks" like that's one thing, but I'm having no luck looking up the actual source on this. I want to say it was the Cynics but I'm not sure. Either that or it was some idiot at a Pagan group making up totally deep, man shit and claiming it was the ancient Greeks and now I'm repeating it as fact. Anyway.)

This is a dichotomy that I think is important--and difficult--in the dating and meat markets. Sometimes people are attracted or not attracted because of you, and sometimes because of them, and usually it's a complex combination of both. Which is more correct: "He wasn't attracted to me," or "I wasn't attractive to him"?

Both attitudes become toxic when taken too far. Make your sexual locus of control entirely internal and you start acting entitled if you have a big ego or self-critical if you have a small one--sex becomes about what you deserve. You can also fall into obsessively rating yourself and others, since if only your perspective matters, attractiveness can be considered objective.

An entirely external locus of control, however, leaves you helpless. You feel resentment toward people who aren't attracted to you and a disturbing gratitude toward those who are, and view your preferred gender as a complete mystery. You also don't try very hard, because sex will come to you or not, there's nothing you can do. True love will see right past my stained sweatpants and shallow assholes will never like me anyway, so I won't change anything.

I skew toward internalizing; every time I get rejected in ways big and small I'm not angry but constantly concerned what I did wrong. (This is not just in sex; 98% of the time a non-crazy person calls me an asshole, my response is "oh God I'm so sorry" rather than "fuck you, asshole!") At the same time, I'm not all the way there, and I'm progressively getting better at understanding that someone else's decisions regarding me are not 100% about me.

I can't help but notice from my fortune-cookie descriptions that PUA is basically all about going from an external locus of control to an internal one--albeit usually way too far over, straight into "but if I'm sufficiently awesome no one should ever say no" territory.

As my usual radical-moderate self, I can only say that the answer is somewhere in the middle. You have some input, but sometimes you'll just run up against fate, and you have to be okay with that. People make decisions about you, so look good and be charming; but people make decisions for all kinds of reasons, so don't think it's all the failure or success of your charm. Finding this middle is ridiculously hard, and requires a very careful balancing of humility and confidence, but it's necessary or you'll end up one kind of crazy or another. In sex and in life.

---

I hate it when people call women "females." I have one friend who does it because she was in the military and it was standard practice there, and occasionally I'll say it when I specifically mean biological females rather than women, but 98% of the time it's douchebaggery. Rule of thumb: if you say "females and males" it's okay, but if you say "females and guys/men," you're probably a douchebag.

Jokes not very many people will get.

Do I make a lot of noise during sex? Baby, I yelp, wail, and T3.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Theory.

Fucking sleep deprivation. This evening wasn't a matter of getting laid or not, it was a matter of pulling off my road and sleeping in my car because I didn't have what it took to even drive home. Cripes.

----

A friend recently suggested what I think is a brilliant theory: the best Doms are people who can get away with dead baby jokes. There's a certain personality that can say things that, in their words, completely violate my ideas of what's okay to even joke about, but I find myself laughing so hard I can't breathe. (Note that it's not just a matter of telling disgusting jokes, because I know some people who really can't get away with them.) And these people are generally the same ones I would consider to be very confident and sexy dominants.

It's the same concept, I guess, of making you enjoy something you wouldn't normally, and of knowing how to break the rules of society without just being an asshole. And it seems to be a common trait of the same Alpha Geek personality that Doms tend to have, too. Or maybe it's just a sign of someone who's very socially confident, and confident people are great in bed, and I only know about Doms because of my own biases. All I know is that if someone can get away with the "what's the best thing about fucking a four-year old?" joke, they can generally get away with making me call them Daddy.

What's the opposite of "sour grapes?" Greener grass, maybe.

It's 4 AM. I have to get up for work at 6 AM. (FML and all that. But I slept all day, so it's not as bad as it could be, this is really just a nap.) I am, at this moment, about the horniest I've been all year. I want it so bad and I would give it so good.

But tomorrow night! Tomorrow night I'm off all night and all of the next day. If I can secure a partner, I can hump like a crazy monkey tomorrow night.

The only question is, tomorrow night, will I still feel like it, or will I have a sudden compulsion to rearrange the spice rack and play Wii Fit and do some beading? Or will I try and find no one, or no one appealing?

The way I feel right now, when I'm can't just go out and have sex--man I want to hang on to this until I can.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Cosmocking: July '10! - Part 2!

Gprzlytmfff. Awake again! I'm still adjusting to the graveyard schedule, as probably shows just a teensy bit lately. Anyway, back on track!

The Sexy Way to Make Smart Decisions: Fantasizing about sex amps up your analytical thinking skills, while daydreaming about love boosts your ability to think big-picture.
Meanwhile, thinking about the actual decision you're making is for chumps.

A recent study analyzed 22,777 Harlequin romance novels and discovered that the titles were written to trigger women's evolutionary impulses. The covers feature words that tie into the themes of commitment, reproduction, and financial resources--three basic needs we're hardwired to want in a mate.
"Financial resources" is an "evolutionary impulse"? I'm not even sure what the fuck an "evolutionary impulse" is; it sounds like I'm sitting here going "oh baby, I want to have a beneficial mutation right now." But even if we were monkeylike slaves to the breeding urge, I'm pretty sure monkeys don't care much about your financial resources.

"Commitment" and "reproduction" are at least vaguely relevant to monkeys, but I still have to wonder who got their grant approved to prove that romance novels are generally about romance.

After this there's a fitness article which demonstrates some exercises to "Score Sexy Cleavage." Because yes, apparently that's how it works. (I can't help noticing that the model demonstrating the exercises, while very pretty, is like an A-cup.)

And then after that there's an article on vaginal plastic surgery, which I have to admit that Cosmo takes a very reasonable "well, it is your body, but this shit's pretty stupid" stance on. Although this part was weird:
The vast majority of labia minora extend past the labia majora. Inivisble labia minora are very rare in developed females; it's usually prepubescent.
My labia minora (why do these things not have common names? "Inner lips," I guess.) are inside the majora! They're not "invisible", but they're only visible when I'm spreading way open. I didn't know this was super rare.

...Does that mean it's super desirable? Is this a selling point? Do I have the nigh-unattainable Ideal Vulva?

Watching a graphic sex scene with a new man can be as awkward as it is erotic. With the lights off, you don't have to maintain your poker face.
No, watching a graphic sex scene with your parents is awkward. Watching one with a date is just fine. (And if you're watching it somewhere you have control over the lights, presumably there's some comfort level there.)

Bubble baths and naughty fantasies go together like champagne and, well, anything. Light candles, then lower yourself into the tub, Now take your imagination where it's never gone before.
Where did this "women masturbate in the tub" stereotype come from, seriously? The wink-nudge for guys is lotion and Kleenex, and for girls it's a bathtub and candles. I don't ever masturbate in the bathtub, because I can't get wet in the water (yes, that makes sense) and it's awkward to spread my legs in the confines of the tub. I have a bed for these things.

Shut off the lights, and try Skype sex with your boyfriend. Since you'll be in a shadowy room, you won't feel too self-conscious. Plus, you won't have to worry about evidence being left behind, since Skype can't record.
I know the theme of the article is "things to do in the dark," but most webcams can't see shit in low light. And while Skype itself doesn't have a record button, if your boyfriend is remotely technologically competent, don't fool yourself--he can find a way if he wants to.

Haven't tried Chatroulette.com yet? Dim the overhead light, and start clicking. Hey, you never know who may pop up to chat with.
I feel like distributing this information to people in a non-tech-savvy demographic with no warnings is somewhere between hilarious and downright irresponsible.

Women Who Don't Shave Their Legs: I know shaving sucks and can sometimes lead to a serious shower injury or a strained calf, but we all have to do it. And it's my suggestion that any woman who doesn't should rethink her game plan. I can hear the response right now: "I don't need to. Men don't. So why do I have to do it? If a man can't love me with hairy legs..." This isn't the '60s, and there is no room for that sort of thinking.
No, it isn't the sixties. It's fifty goddamn years later. Feminism isn't something that came and went, it's something that came and changed the world. So now that it's not the sixties, it's okay to shave your legs and it's okay to not shave your legs. There's no "have to"--says who? These dictates don't come out of the aether--they come from men and women who tell you their own preferences, and you're free to listen to or ignore them as you see fit.

I shave my legs. I like the look, I like the feel, and frankly I like keeping open my sexual options with guys who like shaved legs. But I don't have to.

One-quarter of an ounce of dark chocolate--roughly one-sixth of a regular-size candy bar--contains a ton of good-for-you antioxidants and has been shown to be healthy for your heart.
Interesting, because earlier chocolate was so evil that we were supposed to be eating flavored goddamn air rather than sully ourselves with it.

(Also, is it just me or is the copy editor really in love with hyphens this month? There's a clear everything-that-possibly-could-be-hyphenated-is-hyphenated preference here.)

As your man nears climax, his muscles involuntarily tense up and raise his boys closer to his body. "If you gently tug his testicles down by the base as he's about to orgasm, it will actually prolong his release," explains [female "sexologist"]. The opposite is also true. "If you cup his balls and push them up for him, this speeds him along, making his orgasmic rush even more powerful."
I tend to get contradicted in comments when I generalize on these things, because as a non-ball-owner I don't always understand the mechanics, so I'll just ask: gentlemen, do you come with a throttle mechanism between your legs?

Cosmocking: July '10! - Part 1!

White cover! We just had a white cover in April, I'll never figure these things out! Shakira, wearing a doily! Seriously, the top isn't just "lacy", it's a giant piece of lace! Best cover story: "Vaginas Under Attack!" Least likely-to-be-accurately-titled cover story: "99 New Sex Facts!"

Invented by a Harvard engineer and sold at LeWhif.com for about $2 each, new inhalers deliver java- or chocolate-flavored air to curb cravings sans calories.
Yeah, because my problem with coffee is all those calories. And seriously, I can't imagine being so miserably self-denying that flavored air seemed like a good idea. I would rather eat a small piece of strong chocolate and let those ~20 calories go straight to my thighs than resort to ridiculous rock-soup solutions.

Why More Girls Are Kissing Girls
"I kissed a girl... and I liked it!" When Katy Perry's infamous ode to the girl crush first rocked the airwaves two years ago, it felt ballsy--shocking, even. Now? Eh.

No, Cosmo, lesbians and bisexuals were not invented just last week. (Fake bisexuals-for-attention neither.) It's long been obvious that the kink community and feminist movement do not exist in the Cosmo universe, but it's a little weird to find out that they didn't even know about gay people.

Run a bath or cozy up on the couch with a glass of wine, and try imagining yourself in a relationship with someone of the same sex. If you can picture it clearly, you may have more than a girl crush.
"Like OMG Becky I totally took Cosmo's advice and now I'm like totally into being bisexual now, OMG!"

10 Reasons We're Still Obsessed with R-Patz
1. We're aware a lot of our readership is thirteen years old.
2. Or emotionally thirteen years old.
3. We always wanted a hundred-year-old murderer to stalk us.
4. But not fuck us.
5. SPARKLES!
6. EYEBROWS!
7. PALLOR!
8. BIG HAIR!
9. We think he probably has a penis, presumably.
10. We have to be obsessed with a male celebrity at all times, and he seemed as good as any.

Don't wait to feel turned on before you make a move. Most women experience arousal after the fun has already begun.
So, uh, when should I initiate sex, if I can't trust my own feelings and plan to inflict a "well, you'll like it once it's happening, baby" on myself? At total random? Since I actually do experience sexual desire, can I ignore this, or do I still need to force myself into sex with a bone-dry pussy and hope for the best?

The average number of sexual partners for heterosexual men is 7; for heterosexual women, it's 4.
No, that's the average number self-reported by these groups. It could conceivably be the median (although that's unlikely), but I can very much guarantee you that on average, men fuck women exactly as often as women fuck men.

A fetus responds to Mom getting it on: It can sense blood-pressure and heart-rate changes, and it feels nonsexual excitement.
I'm pretty sure they threw the "nonsexual" in there just so it wouldn't be weird or anything.

The "sexual pursuit" part of a man's brain is two-and-a-half times bigger than a woman's.
Ah yes, the clearly delineated, sole-purpose, and well-understood "sexual pursuit" lobe. Stands out like a neon sign in any dissection.

Giving him a massage may get you excited. Fingertips and pads are the most sensitive parts of your skin.
I don't know about that; I don't think I'd take it nearly as well in stride if I opened an envelope wrong and got a papercut on my clitoris.

That glazed look a man gets when he sees breasts? His visual brain circuits are on the lookout for signs of fertility.
That conscious look a man gets when his eyes are open? His visual brain circuits are processing visual information.

Keep a glass of ice water on the bedstand, and once you've both climaxed, take a drink, holding and swirling the cool liquid in your mouth before swallowing. Then immediately envelop his balls with your lips, one at a time.
I don't even have balls, and I just felt them jump about two feet up into my stomach.

[Q: My boyfriend has a foot fetish. I'm okay with that. Somehow this is a question, rather than just a statement.]
A: Your guy's preference is only a concern if he can't get an erection without foot-play. If that's the case, he'll need to see a therapist.

Why? Why is that the dividing line? It's okay to have a fetish, as long as you're still able to be "normal"--but if you actually need your fetish, then it's no good any more? The guy likes feet, he dates women who let him play with their feet, and all is well in the world; no therapy required.

"Doctor, doctor, I can't get a boner unless I do this!" "Then do that."



There's more, but I have to sleep; more later.

Friday, June 11, 2010

OkStupid.

OkCupid (I know, I know, but 98% of my social life is coordinated online, so it seems stupid to say "online dating is for losers!" in light of that--especially if you say that online...) has a feature where it displays how often you reply to messages. You get a little green light if you "reply often," an orange one if you "reply selectively," and a red light if you "reply very selectively."

Roughly ten seconds after opening my account, I had a red light. I Googled "'replies very selectively' + OkCupid", because I was curious where they drew the line. I didn't find a clear answer on that, but I found a huge number of blog and forum posts complaining that girls with a red light are stuck-up picky bitches who expect perfection and won't give guys in their league the time of day.

Well gosh, I'd hate to look like I'm stuck-up. I resolve to truly engage with the gentlemen who give me their time and put themselves out there emotionally!

NEW MESSAGE FROM OKCUPID: "wats up lol"
NEW MESSAGE FROM OKCUPID: "more coushin for the fuckin"
NEW MESSAGE FROM OKCUPID: "I have not had sex in two years and I hate it and I am getting bored with pleasuring myself all the time..."
NEW MESSAGE FROM OKCUPID: "do u do anal?"

(These are not jokes. These are not exaggerations. These are copy-pastes.)

Yeah... I don't think I have the intestinal fortitude to earn myself that green light.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Do you really want to know the answer to that?

If you ask me to lick your butt, and we have that sort of relationship and you're very very clean there, I will.

But if you then ask me how it tastes, I'm going to tell you.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Quick note on prettiness.

The best thing about feeling pretty isn't the ability to get laid. (Although that's a close and rather important second.) The best thing is the ability to not get laid, and still feel okay about yourself. To turn someone down without feeling that maybe they were the best you can get, or to get turned down without feeling like it's a crushing mortal insult--those are the really nice benefits of feeling pretty.

The Nice Guy's Guide to Realizing You're Not That Nice.

I have people to do and things to be (and I slept really late... like 5 PM late), so all I have is a link, but it's Lore Sjoberg, so it's plenty awesome.

On Nice Guys. You might not want to read the comments.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pretty.

Being around kinky people tends to make me feel pretty. Which is not something I feel around normal people; there's some part of my brain that internalized the message "you are a total dog" around age 12 and will never totally let it go. But around kinky people, even when I'm not getting any play, I feel desirable. Even if nobody at all is saying "yes" to me, at least I feel like I'm being taken seriously as a sexual being.

I guess it's because in Kinkland, I have something to offer. Sometimes I feel (unfairly, I'm sure) that in Vanilla-land, because the range of activities is narrower, appearance matters more. In Kinkland, just the fact that I'm an eager and horny submissive gets me some points. (And likewise, a guy I might not give the time of day under other circumstances gets a whole lot of bonus points for being sexily dominant or super-skilled with rope.)

It's also because the kink world in general is pretty size-positive. It's almost impossible to go to a munch and feel like "the big girl," and it's pretty hard to go to one and not meet a guy who likes big girls.

In a funny way, I also feel prettier in Boston than I did in Seattle. I don't know if it's because I've been moving in kinkier circles here, or I was older and more confident when I got here, but I also feel like there's more women here who look like me, and more men willing to take me seriously. I'm not sure if this perception is true or not, but either way... I feel much prettier now than ever before in my life, and I really love it.

Not-friends with only one benefit.

Dorkiewitch sent me this article, and it is amazing. I was uncertain if EzineArticles should be completely beneath my notice, to be honest, because I'm not sure anyone reads them, but this particular scribbling managed to be offensive in a sort of interesting way.

Occasionally, you'll meet a girl you have a lot of chemistry with, but for some reason, you don't want to commit to her. So you remain friends with the girl, while still being intimate with each other. It can become a problem though, if the girl is insistent upon turning it into more than that. She might try to suck you into a relationship. To prevent this, you need to lay some ground rules.
No, you need to lay one ground rule: this isn't a romantic relationship, and if you try to make it one while I still don't feel the same way, it would be best if we stopped altogether. Unless she's a full-on stalker (in which case any sexual relationship, "intimate" or not, is likely to set her off), she's actually capable of understanding this if you just say it in words. Just about everything that follows isn't maintaining boundaries, it's distrustful humiliation. But don't take my word for it.

1. No spending the night.
Letting her spend the night, or spending the night at her place sends the wrong message! It communicates a desire to settle down. If you can, keep the encounters at her place, and then leave. It's much nicer than kicking her out of your place.

Is she your fuckbuddy, or not? Because if she is, then she'll most likely want to leave, or be able to sleep over without making a thing out of it. And if she isn't, this isn't going to help. Either way, sometimes "I'm sleepy and don't feel like driving home" actually means it. Or hell, even "I'd enjoy sharing a bed with you"--sometimes I like a warm bed and some skin contact, without it meaning the guy is entrapped in my tentacles forever.

This article has a lot in common with Cosmo's "communication by whipped cream" philosophy--it totally discounts the messages you might send in words.

5. Don't discuss anything real.
Remember, we're trying to avoid intimacy here, and nothing creates intimacy like talking about important things. No family history, no favorite colors, no goals, no personal triumphs or tragedies. If you want to keep it a friends with benefits situation, you have to stay light: movies, bands, and favorite brands of booze.

Then you're not friends with benefits, because you're not friends. This shit isn't all-or-nothing; you can be slightly closer than strangers at the DMV and still not end up accidentally married with five kids, or whatever you're so afraid of.

What is this guy so afraid of, seriously? Say the worst-case-scenario happens and his fuckbuddy starts introducing herself as his girlfriend--then he tells her it's not so, there's a few minutes of really ugly crying and yelling, and it's over with. The worst that could happen, the result if she really gets her evil woman-tentacles in you, is just not that bad. It seems like one big fight and some hard feelings is vastly preferable to an entire relationship of mistrust and humiliation.

And it is humiliation; this kind of stuff doesn't make me feel like I'm not a girlfriend, it makes me feel like I'm not a person.

9. Always play it safe!
One of the sad realities of life is that women will sometimes do dirty things to hook a guy, and one of those things is getting pregnant. So always, always, ALWAYS use condoms and birth control when playing with your friend with benefits!

Okay, here's the worst worst-case scenario. It's not that common, and using the discretion to not fuck the craziest woman you know will probably do more for you than a condom, but say it happens. Say she calls you and says she's pregnant and now you have to get married. You say that you'll go halfsies on an abortion or she can take you to court for child support. It's harsh (but so is using a human life as a trap, which is why remotely-sane girls don't do this), but 98% of the time this results in a "miscarriage."

I still think you should always use condoms with fuckbuddies, because you're not fluid-monogamous and birth control can fail, but you can do that without expressing your hate and mistrust of all womankind.

I can tell you from sad personal experience, too, that guys like this never manage to be subtle about this shit. It's never "let's use a condom for safety"; it's always "YOU'RE TRYING TO MAKE A TRAP BABY YOU BITCH I KNOW YOUR TRICKS." (And boy, you know I'm not in this for the emotional fulfillment if I still fuck you after that.)

Joseph Matthews has been instructing men how to meet women since 2004, and is widely known as an authority in the subject of confidence building and dating advice.
Confidence building? Confidence? Confidence is being able to trust someone even if they aren't your schmoopy-bear, and being able to say "no" to them if you can't trust them. Confidence is realizing that you can deal with worst-case-scenarios so you don't have to spend your entire life on edge. Confidence is acknowledging that it's okay to have emotions and not all of them mean that you have to get married. Confidence is being able to say what you mean, instead of getting into a relationship with no spoken agreements and trying to communicate everything via whipped cream and toothbrush placement.

If you want to stick your dick in a warm hole, but you absolutely don't want to talk or go out or cuddle or sleep together or look a woman in her treacherous entrapping eyes--soak your Fleshlight in warm water and leave human beings the hell alone.


Wow, I got through this entire post without mentioning Benny. But even Benny, who was the absolute king of stiff-armed "know your place, woman" antics, wasn't this cold. (Actually, we started out genuinely dating, and it sort of devolved after I broke up with Alan. But even at its coldest it wasn't this cold.) He let me sleep over and we cuddled and stuff. And as you can see I became devastatingly attached and am now carrying twelve of his babies. He better buy me a really big ring!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Pleasure Factor.

One of my coworkers is expecting a son, and she was talking about her decision to have him circumcised. All of the men in the department, cut and not, were vehemently, legs-crossedly against it. Most of the women--actually all of them except me--were for. It's cleaner, doncha know. Better to do it when he won't remember than maybe have to do it later. Some studies that I can't quite find suggest that maybe it reduces AIDS transmission by 0.01%. It just looks nicer.

I argued a bit about how it's not right to cut off a perfectly harmless and normal part of a person's body, and it makes about as much sense as cutting off a kid's ears just because you think that's normal. ("Hey, he can still hear fine! He won't remember it! Ear-lopping is our tradition! And you won't have to wash his ears!")

But then, because I'm me and I have no discretion, I brought up the one thing neither the pros nor cons had said. "It's, um... it's kind of better with an uncut guy."

Yeah. I know how to kill a conversation dead.

It's easy to talk about your son's cleanliness, or his health, or even his supposed sense of "normalcy." It's likewise easy to counterargue about his bodily autonomy, or his natural state, or the pain of the procedure. But it's somehow taboo to bring pleasure into the conversation. It's pedophilic to consider the pleasure of a baby, incestuous to consider the pleasure of your son, and decadent to consider anyone's pleasure at all ever. It's hard, in almost any context, let alone that of discussing an unborn baby with his mother, to ask "But what about his orgasms?"

Although I certainly believe in, y'know, the whole bodily intactness and autonomy deal, that's just a cover. What I really think about in circumcision debates is the way the foreskin just glides up and down a man's shaft with perfect smoothness, the way it just feels so right in my hand and the way it slides in my pussy. I can certainly have fun with a circumcised penis, it's not a dealbreaker or anything, but all else being equal--I'd never want an uncut guy to get cut, I'll tell you that.

The debate was just for fun, of course; my coworker had already made up her mind to have her infant son strapped down and his penis clamped and an incredibly sensitive and irreplaceable part of his body amputated with no or minimal anesthesia. (She's Jewish, doncha know. She eats pork and works on Saturdays, but when it comes to genital mutilation, that's where she makes her stand.) All I can do is make up my mind that when I make decisions in life, I won't discount pleasure. It's not the only factor--I use condoms even though I think they reduce pleasure--but it matters. Embarrassment or propriety shouldn't make us leave pleasure out of our cost-benefit questions.



Figleaf has a post up on a study that purports to show that lube can actually increase disease transmission in anal sex. The reporting on the study is probably more "SCIENCE SAYS" than actual science, but even if it did prove that lubeless buttsex is marginally safer--it still wouldn't be worth it. Having no buttsex at all is safest, after all; no one needs to have buttsex. To say that the pleasure and comfort of lube don't count for anything compared to small-percentage risk reductions is Just Not Getting It.

Although, if you do have buttsex without lube, it'll probably work better if the top is uncircumcised.

The Fear.

I get a little bit terrified when I know I'm going to have sex later. When I was younger, it was stomach-churning (literally; I lost 15 pounds from pre-sex puking during my first relationship), but even now, knowing that I'm on my way to fuck someone gives me a weird sense of nervousness.

It's emotional, not cognitive; I'm not afraid of anything in particular. I don't think of bad scenarios, I just feel my stomach knot up and my hands shake. I have to push through that feeling to go ahead with the sex. Once things start, once we're past the first couple kisses, the feeling disappears. But it's almost always there beforehand, no matter how well I know my partner or how many times we've done it.

In Mary Roach's Bonk, there's a compelling description of a young female monkey, in her first heat, making advances to an older dominant male. She's very small and very low-ranking and thus absolutely terrified of both the male and his mate, but she's also experiencing desire for the first time in her life. So she screws up her courage and makes the smallest, subtlest gestures toward him, sitting a little closer to him than usual, sliding a hand slightly toward him, her combination of fear and lust just this side of paralyzing and lust only barely winning out. I can sympathize with that little monkey.

This is the sort of thing that comes to me when I hear stereotypes about women being supremely sexually powerful, about us using our sexuality to pull men's strings--me, freshman year of college, cheerfully taking--or making!--a "hey baby why doncha come over" phone call from my boyfriend, then puking in the bushes because my stomach wouldn't even let me get to a bathroom. And then cleaning myself up and going over anyway, because I just wanted it that bad.

I was a young girl dating an older man and frequently initiating sex with him--shouldn't I have been a minx, a vixen, a little seductress? Shouldn't I have been calmly, almost smugly doling it out to him at my leisure? There's nothing in romance novels and nothing in Cosmo (and wow, definitely nothing in the PUA world) about being so nervous you puke and so horny you rinse out your mouth and fuck him anyway.

It wasn't just that relationship. I've got a better handle on my stomach these days, but I still feel the fear every time. It's a quiver through my whole body. I don't know exactly where it comes from, but it has a grip on me from the moment I know I'm having sex soon, to the moment the sex actually starts.

It's all very well to say "women have desire!" But I, at least, have crazy-making desire; I have desire that overpowers fear and common sense and sometimes common decency. My attitude toward sex isn't "I can take it or leave it, so I should get something out of it"--it's "oh God I want it so bad I can't stand it." I want it so bad that I shake, and embrace a man with shaking arms, and at least I have the goddamn insight not to imagine that he's some stone-souled cruel overlord doing this to me deliberately.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Short Essays from the ER.

These aren't sexy, sorry, but I just wanted a place to write them.

Gray Goo
One part of my job is taking patients to CT scans. I move them onto the table, position them and strap them in as needed, and retreat into a little leaded-glass cubicle with the CT operator while the scan takes place. The weekday operator is a big, thuggish-looking but friendly guy with a heavy Baaahstan accent, and he points out relevant anatomy as we watch the slices of the person's body appear one by one on the monitor. There are the kidneys, the lungs with blood vessels in a spidery tree through them, the intestines in their massive coils, each bone white and sharp on the scan.

And there is the brain. Scanning from the top of the skull, the first thing you see after bone is the wrinkles of the surface, the sulci and gryi, like a bowlful of thick noodles in the head. Then there's just... solid, just a gray hunk of stuff, and then the ventricles, little lakes of fluid deep inside the brain. Then more stuff of no particular character, and then you're down to the spine. The full scan looks like this. It only takes a single swipe of the operator's mouse to scroll through the entire brain.

Afterwards I go back out to help the patient off the table, and I talk to them. They tell me how they're feeling, what they're thinking, they make little jokes, they recall how they got hurt, they worry about the future, they gripe about how long all these hospital things take. It seems unimaginable, impossible to me that all this comes out of a single mouse-swipe's worth of gray goo. The old lady saying "bless you, dear" even though she's in pain, the argumentative drunk saying he really doesn't need this but fine he'll do it, the scared little kid trying to be brave with tears in the corner of her eyes--all that comes out of that little chunk of gray goo.

I can't help thinking that there's something the CT can't scan. Not in the fuzzy "soul" sense, I mean literally. Seeing someone from head to toe on the inside, there doesn't seem to be enough in there to explain them. Everything inside a person can be seen and named, every inch of their body laid bare to X-rays and educated minds, but I always think there's something held back. What I can see just looks too simple. The part that explains it isn't in there.

I see everything inside a person's head, then go out and talk to them, and I realize that I have not seen their mind.



Post-Traumatic Rest and Order
Another part of my job is cleaning up after traumas. I have a role during the traumas too, but there's not much room for contemplation then. There's a grim little joke in EMS: "Bleeding always stops." Trauma always ends, one way or another, and the room empties out. The patient goes to surgery or up to a room or down to the morgue, and the doctors and nurses go on to other tasks, and I'm the only one left in the room.

It's very quiet then. I can take my time. There's aftermath everywhere; all the packaging for bandages and needles has been dropped where it was opened, and the unwrapped bandages are still open on the bed. There's a big knot of linens on the bed, warmed blankets and absorbent sheets. All the machines and carts and toolkits that were used on the trauma lie around the room. And there's blood. Blood on the bed, the floor, the linens, the equipment. Sometimes there's stuff besides blood.

It takes about fifteen minutes to make it all shiny again. I start by putting the machines back, because another patient might need them; I wipe them down with antiseptic, roll them to tidily labeled cubbyholes, and plug them back in to charge for the next time. The next step is picking up all the trash, a frat-house's worth of plastic and paper and junk on every surface. I make sure there aren't any needles or other surprises in the linens and roll them into a plastic bag for the laundry. I clean the bed and all surfaces with disinfectant, wiping the blood away, as if nothing had ever happened. Everything is non-porous, plasticized, stain-resistant, so it's easy work; the room is made to forget. The last step is to make the bed and set it up for the next patient.

Cleaning up after a trauma is silent and solitary in every way that the trauma was not. My task is to restore functionality and cleanliness, of course, but it also serves to wipe away memory. A clean trauma room looks like nothing bad ever happened there; the screams do not absorb into the walls, the pain does not soak into the bed. As I pull a fistful of wipes across a bloody mattress, there is horror and drama ahead of my hand, and nothing behind it. Just wet plastic. Leave it wet for five minutes and it will be purged of 99.9% of pathogens. It'll just be plastic. Ready for the next one.

I like cleaning up after traumas. It's like I'm restoring all the order in the world. My hands take away everything painful and dirty and messy, and leave only those things that humans intended. The dirty trauma room is a creation of circumstance and chaos; the clean one is a product of careful planning and best intentions. A clean trauma room, antiseptic and filled with brilliant technology conveniently laid out, is everything that people want the world to be. I love creating that place. The trauma room is a perfect little outpost of humanity in the wilderness, until chaos comes again.