Thursday, March 31, 2011

Scott Adams Quick-Fisk.

Oh lord, he's like a kid who's just discovered that yelling "fuck" makes everyone look at him and make a big fuss. (Analogy stolen from LabRat's excellent post here.) Scott Adams is still at it.

No point-by-point, but a few things that were just so egregious.

Take the question of equal pay for equal work. If you see it as a gender issue, aren't you leaving out a few dimensions that are also important? I saw an interview the other day with the woman who is the lead plaintiff for the class action suit against WalMart. Her complaint is that WalMart discriminated against her for being a woman. The thing that fascinated me is that somehow she managed to discern that the discrimination she experienced was because of her gender and not the fact that she's also obese, unattractive, and African-American. Based on the interview, she also seems to have a sketchy command of grammar. I couldn't judge her height or personality, but those are two more factors that have a big impact on career advancement.
Classy motherfucker, ain't he? And then he goes on to acknowledge that he's a "a short, hair-challenged, nearsighted, unattractive, over-the-hill individual" so he's faced discrimination too ya know, plus even more discrimination for being a white male... while somehow missing the part where he's rich and famous.

I don't really get the point here, though. It's a huge class action lawsuit, so presumably there are some skinny pretty white women in the class too. And if Wal-Mart was "only" discriminating against her size/appearance/race, that would be... okay?

(In fact, here's a picture of some of the plaintiffs in the Wal-Mart suit. Three are white, at least one is definitely not fat, and "attractive" is subjective but c'mon, they're definitely not "too ugly to promote," whatever the fuck that would even mean in what wasn't exactly a glamor industry to begin with.)

So I propose a simple test to determine if you, individually, are a victim of gender unfairness. If a genie gave you the chance to magically switch your gender, and become a member of the other sex, would you do it? And let's say the new you would be about the same as now on the scale of attractiveness, intelligence, ethnicity, circumstance, and health. The only real change would be gender. Do you take the offer?
If your answer is no, then maybe fairness isn't what you really want. Maybe what you want is all the advantages you have now plus the good stuff that other people have. I totally understand. I want the same thing.

Actually, yeah. I do want all the advantages I can possibly get. Um... how terrible? I want women to have all the good stuff available to men and vice versa. That actually sounds just dandy to me.

The whole point of feminism (at least my feminism, blardy blah) isn't that men have it so much better than women. The point is that gender roles screw everything up for everybody. I don't want to be a man. (Well, I'd like to try it, but this isn't about me.) I want to be a person.

I apologize to anyone who was offended by this post.
I repeat: classy motherfucker.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I'm in the home stretch now. Only six shifts left. I'm so glad. Getting off work at 7 AM, getting home at 9 AM, having far less than eight hours of highly fragmented sleep, and heading right back at 10 PM--it's wearing a lot off of me. (I worry that it's wearing a lot off my writing too. I still try...) I'm on three hours of sleep right now. The last post was written on zero. I haven't reread it, so I, uh, hope it's in a language used on Earth. I've made that mistake g'Pawwta wraragh.

This chronic exhaustion hasn't killed my sex drive. I still get horny, I still masturbate even when I'm half-asleep. I have less time for sex than I'd like, but when I have the time, I take it. (I might be on the bottom with a glazed look in my eyes, but I'm still enjoying myself, I swear. Besides, I do that anyway.)

What it has killed, or at least dampened horrifyingly, is my kink drive. I find that BDSM takes tremendously more energy, mental and physical, than simple sex. Taking a punch is physical work, taking pain is mental work, and taking domination is emotional work. Wonderful and rewarding work, mind you. At its best, kink makes me feel strong, loved, fulfilled, and whatever the adjective form is of "coming my brains out." But it's hard to feel strong when you aren't strong because you used all your strength wiping diarrhea off a 300-pound end-stage-dementia patient at 4 AM.

I still have fantasies. I still want to get thrown against the wall and punched and kicked like I lost a fight. I still want to get tied up and fucked like he wouldn't fuck me if I could get away. I still want to be called all those words you're not ever supposed to use on a woman and made to gratify whims from "get me a beer" to "no, on second thought, shove the bottle up your pussy." I still want to feel the fear of a knife against my skin and the horror and relief of it just barely breaking through. I still want to feel the limits of my body and mind, the things I'm capable of and the things I'll sink to.

I still want, maybe more than anything, to dabble in "defilement" and discover thereby that I cannot be defiled--that throw anything you want at me, in the morning I'm just as smart and strong and goofy as I ever was. To make over again that wonderful discovery that to be humiliated is not to be lessened, but to become ever more beautifully aware of my own inner strength.

I still want to not just throw out "oh yeah, I'm kinky" as some informed attribute of my sex-positive street cred, but to live it in the most visceral and sick and joyous ways I can.

I just need to sleep for like five weeks first.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Scott Adams is being interrogated from the wrong perspective!

Oh, it's been too long since I had a good fisk. And this one's a doozy, coming from the author of "Dilbert" of all people. It's actually two posts--one about why women suck and are beneath him, and one about waaah, people who disagree with him just don't understand his brilliance. He posted the first, deleted it when people called him out on it, and then when people called him out on that, he reposted it prefaced by the "dear negative reader" justifications.

...Does that make any sense? You can see the end result here. I'm going to fisk in chronological order.

The topic my readers most want me to address is something called men’s rights. [...] According to my readers, examples of unfair treatment of men include many elements of the legal system, the military draft in some cases, the lower life expectancies of men, the higher suicide rates for men, circumcision, and the growing number of government agencies that are primarily for women.
I support men's rights. How could I not? But the thing currently called the "Men's Rights Movement" is a huge fucking mess. They have some legitimate grievances that are absolutely buried under a mountain of misogyny and anti-feminism. The movement as it currently stands is so focused on the idea that men's rights are obtained by fighting women's rights, and so crowded with members who haven't even gotten that far but just think of it as a new venue to talk about how bitches suck, that it's hard for me to take them seriously when they do have a point.

You may have noticed that when I talk about why feminism is necessary on this blog, I try very hard to blame "society" and "culture," and do not blame "men." This is because I realize that women are often participants in keeping women down, because I know that simply being born a man doesn't dictate who you'll be and how you'll treat women, and because the cooperation--not capitulation--of men is necessary to advance women's rights. Besides, a lot of the same forces that make life suck for women also make life suck for men, and we both stand to benefit from eliminating gender roles and discrimination. Also some of my best friends are men.

When the men's rights movement gets to this same place, to talking about how men can deal with society instead of how men can deal with women (and also when their commenters aren't 90% plain old-fashioned sexists who've found a home), then I can take them seriously.

Generally speaking, society discourages male behavior whereas female behavior is celebrated. Exceptions are the fields of sports, humor, and war. Men are allowed to do what they want in those areas.
I'm not sure what constitutes "male behavior," but if I turn off my brain and go with "you know, grunting and eating steak and punching things, c'mon you know what I mean," I think the list of exceptions is more like sports, humor, war, government, media, socialization, family, sex, and business.

Also fishing.

So actually kind of a lot.

Women will counter with their own list of wrongs, starting with the well-known statistic that women earn only 80 cents on the dollar, on average, compared to what men earn for the same jobs. My readers will argue that if any two groups of people act differently, on average, one group is likely to get better results. On average, men negotiate pay differently and approach risk differently than women.
This is sort of true. Now ask why this is true. It isn't because vaginas make you hate money. It's because women spend their entire lives being trained not to be a mean pushy bitch, and can't just turn that constantly reinforced meekness off at salary negotiation time, and if they do are frequently dismissed as mean pushy bitches. It doesn't help that these salary negotiations are frequently being done with men.

And it doesn't help that salary negotiation is a red herring anyway. The real thing women do that hurts their earnings is care for children. The jobs you can hold and the hours you can work with a one-year-old at home and a partner either absent or very busy with his Important Real Job are why women earn less. We don't need to "approach risk differently," we need to approach family differently.

Women will point out that few females are in top management jobs. Men will argue that if you ask a sample group of young men and young women if they would be willing to take the personal sacrifices needed to someday achieve such power, men are far more likely to say yes. In my personal non-scientific polling, men are about ten times more likely than women to trade family time for the highest level of career success.
That's because the personal sacrifice a man stereotypically makes is "I don't see my children enough, and my wife does almost all the raising." The personal sacrifice a woman's expected to make is "I can't have a family at all."

Also, even if a woman is willing to make the personal sacrifice, she'll have a hell of a time getting the top management headhunters to believe that. She'll also have a hell of a time dealing with the fact that she's less likely to have great business connections on account of how many of those are forged by Man Time Between Men, and the fact that inevitably she either presents as too feminine to get ahead or too manly for people to like.

Now I would like to speak directly to my male readers who feel unjustly treated by the widespread suppression of men’s rights: Get over it, you bunch of pussies.
I know he chose the word "pussy" to mean "weak and pathetic," but the fact that it means "weak and pathetic, like a vagina is, haw haw" kinda jumps out at me here. One of the most common insults on Men's Rights websites for a man who's seen as giving in to feminism is "mangina." The worst thing a man can be is a woman.

No one ever insults me by calling me a cock, a tomboy, or telling me I've got my boxers in a twist. I mean, not that I exactly want them to, but I'm just noticing.

The reality is that women are treated differently by society for exactly the same reason that children and the mentally handicapped are treated differently. It’s just easier this way for everyone. You don’t argue with a four-year old about why he shouldn’t eat candy for dinner. You don’t punch a mentally handicapped guy even if he punches you first. And you don’t argue when a women tells you she’s only making 80 cents to your dollar. It’s the path of least resistance. You save your energy for more important battles.
I don't need to carefully deconstruct this, do I? It's... it's kinda out there. God damn.

I will say that Scott Adams always likes to fancy himself a master manipulator, someone who totally knows people and always thinks in terms of how people will take what he's saying and how his words are engineered not to express himself but to produce results. In that case, you'd think he'd have picked up that just maybe this wasn't the right metaphor to use.

I don’t like the fact that the legal system treats men more harshly than women. But part of being male is the automatic feeling of team. If someone on the team screws up, we all take the hit. Don’t kid yourself that men haven’t earned some harsh treatment from the legal system. On the plus side, if I’m trapped in a burning car someday, a man will be the one pulling me out. It’s a package deal. I like being on my team.
That "team" stuff is just fluff and bullshit. Tell me about the great "teams" formed between rich white men and poor men of color sometime--because if you're in the former group, very often the legal system is suddenly magically able to overlook your maleness. If you're in the latter group you're a whole lot likelier to take one for the team, rah rah rah. Go team.

Also, he's right about the burning cars, because it's fucking impossible for women--and I'm talking here about women who pass the physical qualifications with no modifications, women who can run and crawl with a charged hose and drag a 150-pound dummy solo--to get hired as firefighters. She just doesn't fit into the station culture, or she looks like she might not be strong enough regardless of her physical results, or she's great but I'm old frat buddies with that other applicant. (It's also yet another job that only lets you have children if you have a very accommodating partner at home.)

I've dragged a whole lot of people out of non-burning but quite smashed cars, though. And when you go from your burning car to the ER and the burn unit it'll be largely female nurses and aides caring for you. I think that gets us a spot on the goddamn team.

I realize I might take some heat for lumping women, children and the mentally handicapped in the same group. So I want to be perfectly clear. I’m not saying women are similar to either group. I’m saying that a man’s best strategy for dealing with each group is disturbingly similar. If he’s smart, he takes the path of least resistance most of the time, which involves considering the emotional realities of other people.
I'm not saying they're similar, just that you should treat them with the same detachment, condescension, and complete disregard of their words and actions. And understand that all their grievances are really just emotional lady things and they really just need a "yes, dear" and a hug! So that's comforting.

Also if you're such an expert at considering emotional realities you might have found an analogy that was a bit less emotionally provoking, eh?

A man only digs in for a good fight on the few issues that matter to him, and for which he has some chance of winning. This is a strategy that men are uniquely suited for because, on average, we genuinely don’t care about 90% of what is happening around us. I just did a little test to see if I knew what pajama bottoms I was wearing without looking. I failed.
I started this fisk by talking about how men and women aren't opposed to each other, but are actually facing some of the same enemies, and what a wonderful example. Women can't be reasoned with so their rights don't matter, but men are oblivious lumps so their rights don't matter. As so often happens, misogyny and misandry aren't opposites, they're friends!

That was the original post. Now the part where he gets, as they say in slightly sexually-troubling Internet parlance, butthurt.

This weekend the top twitter meme in the solar system, at least for a few hours, involved Feminist blogs calling me an ignorant, misogynist asshole. Meanwhile, over on the Men's Rights blogs, I'm being called a wussy, asshole, douche bag.
So he said things dismissive and insulting to both men and women, and both men and women took offense, and poor snookums had to deal with some nasty mean words. No part of this post is an apology, just a "clearly you didn't understand my genius, also you hurt my feewings."

I thought it would be funny to embrace the Men's Rights viewpoint in the beginning of the piece and get those guys all lathered up before dismissing their entire membership as a "bunch of pussies." To be fair, they have some gripes worthy of discussion, especially on legal issues. But I'm been experiencing a wicked case of "whiner fatigue." It feels as if everyone in the world is whining about one damn thing or another. In normal times, I can tune it out. But lately the backdrop has been world class problems on the order of financial meltdowns, tsunamis, nuclear radiation, and bloody revolutions. THOSE are problems. Your thing: Not so much.
Ah, the old "there are children starving in Africa, so who cares if your boss pinches your ass, you're lucky to have a job" argument. Good for shutting down any discussion about anything. Hey Scott Adams, why are you wasting time defending yourself on your blog when there are CHILDREN STARVING IN AFRICA?

Regular readers of my blog know that the goal of my writing is to be interesting and nothing else. I'm not trying to change anyone's opinion, largely because I don't believe humans can be influenced by exposure to better arguments, even if I had some. But I do think people benefit by exposure to ideas that are different from whatever they are hearing, even when the ideas are worse. That's my niche: something different.
Actually, "men should just man up and ignore women's stupid little complaints about their periods or whatever they're complaining about" isn't different at all. It's depressingly similar to shit I hear every day.

And enough with the "no, I wasn't saying the things I was saying, and you're a fool for thinking that." If you're in the habit of just saying words to make word-juice, and aren't actually advocating the things you're openly advocating, you need to hold up a little sign or something.

A few people appreciated the meta-joke of removing the post. If you didn't get it, read the deleted post, consider the feminist backlash, then think about the fact that I took down my post and ran away.
It's not a meta-joke, though. It's a meta-insult. The message of "ugh, women and their woman problems aren't even worth dealing with" is not something that gets better when it gets meta-er.

I also didn't predict that critics would reprint the post one component at a time so they could dissect it, which has the fascinating effect of changing the humorous tone to something hideous. Humor requires flow and timing. A frog isn't much of a frog after you dissect it.
Oh, I see. His brilliance is simply too holistic, too crystalline to be understandable when broken into mere sentences. Fisking isn't a way of addressing individual points in a way that's comprehensible and amusing for readers, it's tampering with his comic art.

I linked to the whole post at the top, though, so you can read it in the perfect intact state its creator intended. Tell me if you think it's funny. Like, even if you turn off the critical-thinking part of your brain and don't analyze it ideologically at all, just as a piece of writing, is it even funny? It really doesn't read as someone being amusing. It could really fool ya for someone saying what he thinks.

Next came the labeling. Once the piece had been reprinted on feminist blogs, the "with us or against us" instinct took over. I clearly wasn't supporting every element of the Feminist movement, and therefore I was presumed an enemy and labeled a misogynist. I was also labeled an asshole, which I have come to understand is a synonym for male.
Oh for fuck's sake. He compared us to children and people with mental retardation, and he thinks our problem with him is "gosh, you just don't like men"?

But perhaps I can summarize my viewpoint so you can understand why I'm such a misogynist asshole douche bag. Here's my view in brief:
You can't expect to have a rational discussion on any topic that has an emotional charge. Emotion pushes out reason. That is true for all humans, including children, men, women, and people in every range of mental ability. The path of least resistance is to walk away from that sort of fight. Men generally prefer the path of least resistance. The exception is when men irrationally debate with other men. That's a type of sport. No one expects opinions to be changed as a result.

Funny thing is, he's kind of got a point here. Changing people's minds on controversial topics is a hell of a thing. It does happen, but slowly, and generally not through direct argument. Debating, and particularly blog-debating, is the fine art of preaching to the choir.

Gosh, somehow I managed to say that without saying that women get less money because they deserve less and men should ignore their childish whining. Guess I'm just pithy.

To the best of my knowledge, no one who understood the original post and its context was offended by it. But to the women who were offended by their own or someone else's interpretation of what I wrote, I apologize.
"In conclusion, if you don't love me, you just don't understand me. But if you got angry because you didn't understand me, I'm very sorry that you got angry."

Scott Adams sure is a master manipulator of the human mind.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Why feminists have no sense of humor.

I'm a feminist, or at least a believer in sexual freedom and equality who uses the label "feminist" because that takes less syllables and means the same goddamn thing dammit. And I think I have a sense of humor. I enjoy comedy and sometimes write it, and if I haven't got the knack of creating laugh-till-you-fall-over material entirely consistently, I know it when I see it. For example, the following clip, while being completely idiotic, consistently makes me laugh until I'm leaking bodily fluids: NWS dialogue and also terminally nerdy.

But there's two kinds of jokes out there:
1) Jokes which hinge on absurdity. "Ha ha, that could never happen!" A horse walks into a bar...
2) Jokes which hinge on recognizability. "Ha ha, that always happens!" What's the deal with airline peanuts...

The first kind is pretty reliably inoffensive, at least to me. There are no crypto-patriarchal implications to robot boners. It's also why I'm generally okay with dead baby humor and "The Aristocrats"--the content may be offensive, but the real joke is that nobody wants to kill babies and nobody would put on a show like that, so it's ridiculous to even consider.

The second kind, well, it depends what you're positing as the "always happens." If your joke is only funny in a universe where women are shallow/stupid/sexless/etc., and you think your joke is funny... then yes, you actually are accountable for believing that. The fact that it had a setup and a punchline doesn't mean it exists in some parallel Joke Universe where nobody is responsible for anything they say about anything.

The same joke can be either kind, depending on the person telling them. This can cause some hurt feelings when I understand that my friend isn't really sexist and thinks it's absurd to say that about women, but someone else doesn't know him and thinks he really means it. This is the reason that we have the "it's only okay to tell that joke if you're in the group it's mocking" rule, too.

Funny thing, though; people who tell offensive jokes don't usually use the "I was saying it's absurd to think that!" defense when they're called out on it. Instead they're usually quite willing to say "c'mon, you know it's true." And the next thing, of course: "don't you have a sense of humor?"

I have a great sense of humor! That's why I have a pretty good sense of when something's funny, and when it's not.

I feel bad that this post, ironically, wasn't funny. Here, have some genuinely funny jokes about rape! (NWS dialogue, but definitely not the "rape jokes" you're thinking of.)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rape Culture: Hope.

Enough about problems. Enough about the way our culture hates women and men and sex. I could bitch all day and into next year about what's wrong with our culture, inclusive of the fact that it's called "bitching" in the first place. And I probably will, but right now let's not talk about everything that's fucked up in the world. Let's talk about hope.

In the battle over gender and sex, the good guys have one key, game-changing advantage: our way is more fun. Sure it's right, sure it's fair, but beyond that: the world of equal and consensual sex is happier, smarter, hotter, more real and more fucking alive than anything rape culture could ever offer.

Because there's so much that you can't force, you can't bargain for, you can't manipulate someone into and you can't do contemptuously. You want to stick your wee-wee into a hoo-hoo? Rape culture's got you covered.

Rape culture does not have you covered if you want to sleep with someone and learn from them, or sleep with someone as a gesture of friendship, or sleep with someone because you are so seriously in love with them like you didn't even use to believe in. If you want to be with someone and know that they truly want to be with you, not "want to be with you because," but that they want you, rape culture's not much help. If you want to fuck someone and not have it mean anything--or if you want to fuck someone and damn well decide what it means--rape culture isn't gonna let you get away with that.

If sex is an expression of male dominance, how can I bite a man's shoulders black and blue and smile when he sends me photos of how the bruises are turning out? If a woman's sexuality is a depreciating commodity, how can I find that the older I get and the more I fuck, the better it feels? If relationships are about trading sex for affection, how can I feel such glee from squeezing my boyfriend's perfect ass and how can he snuggle up to me at night with an absolutely unabashed "wub oo"? If men and women are fundamentally different and opposed, can how can we experience life joyfully, honestly, and together?

Consent, as I've said before, isn't just homework. Consent makes sex better. Consent makes life better.

And that's why there's hope. Because one of these days (actually, one of those days, because this has already started), people are going to wise up and realize this. The fratboys of the world are going to realize that parties where the chicks want it are the sickest shit ever, dudebro--and if you don't mock "sluts" and don't take advantage of them, you get a whole lot more of them at your parties. The Cosmo girls of the world are going to realize that the number one way to please your man is to treat him as a friend and lover and fellow human being. Even the unredeemable assholes of the world are slowly and haltingly realizing that even if all you want is to get your Neanderthal rocks off, you can do it better and more often and with less trouble when you do it in an atmosphere of freedom and consent.

Rape culture is doomed, and not just because we're fighting it. Rape culture is doomed because it sucks for everybody, even the people nominally on top, and things that suck just don't last forever. There's work left to do, and a lot of changes won't just happen on their own, and there's a lot of places less amenable to change than a hip liberal college town, and a lot of people who'd rather have a little power than a lot of freedom.

Still there's hope. Not because freedom is "right," but because it's awesome.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I quit my job.

Well, I went per diem, which is the coward's quit, because I can still make money. But I won't get benefits and I won't get regularly scheduled shifts. April 10th is my last "real" day. After that I'll need to find a real job, but if things get tight I can pick up shifts, so I won't be under oh my god poverty doom pressure to find a real job.

I'm so glad. I know this is where the regret and fear are supposed to kick in, or at least a little shame that I'm in a privileged enough position that I can quit a steady job just because I don't like it, but I'm looking forward to the prospect of not being tired. Right now sleeping eight hours in the dark is a privilege for days off. I'm unreasonably stoked about the prospect, whatever the cost goddamn it, of doing this every night. It seems like the ultimate luxury.

It would also be somewhat luxurious to not have to deal with bodily fluids and the threat of assault so much, or at least not the threat of being assaulted with bodily fluids.

(As happened last night. What the hell place do you have to be in your life when "I know! I'll cut myself and smear my blood on the ER staff! That'll solve my problems!" seems like your best option?)

I knew things were bad when a coworker and I watched Dirty Jobs together, and both of us were consumed not with disgust but with envy. "So this guy has to handle fish guts. You know, he's working outdoors, doesn't have to deal with the public, seems to get along pretty well with his fellow fishgutters, he's union, he's day shift... ahhh... that must be the life."

I'm not 100% sure where I'm going from here. Story of my life. It's worked out okay so far.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

No and no and no and yes.

I was at a play party a ways back, and they were sealing people into a latex vacuum cube. This is a big cube that looks like this (your head sticks out) and seals to your body, cutting off all movement. All movement; once the air is pumped out, you're not wiggling your toes without the cube's say-so. And it says "nope!"

So it's a fairly intimidating thing. And when people asked me if I wanted to get into the cube, I was nervous.

But in BDSM-land, you can negotiate. It's not "get in the cube and come what may, you're taking it." I trusted the people there more than that, or I wouldn't have been playing at all. So I said: I just wanted to feel what it was like in the cube. I did not want to be hit, groped, rolled around, or otherwise messed with while I was in there. And I got in and they pumped the air out. I felt what it was like--interesting, frankly kinda creepy--and they let the air back in and let me out.

In other words: because I could say "no" to the things I didn't want, and trust that "no" would be respected, I felt safe saying "yes" to something fairly wacky. If I hadn't been able to set limits on the experience, I wouldn't have been having the experience at all. If I sounded like Little Miss Prissy saying "not this, not that, none of that kind of fun either," I wasn't all that prissy when the end result was me getting sealed into a freaking latex vacuum cube.

I do this for regular sex, too. If I can say that no, we're not raw-dogging it; no, you're not sneaking it up my ass; no, you really have to stop when I say stop; then I can say "yes" to the sex itself. Limits may feel all limity, but within those limits, some fucking hot sex can happen. Without limits, you're not allowed in my house, much less my vagina.

You can have sex without explicit limits, but there's a catch: it has to be extremely predictable generic sex. If you have totally culturally "normal" sex--man initiates, manual, oral, then genital, orgasm and go to sleep--then there are some limits built in. But the instant you go outside that norm in any way, you make your partner worry how else you might go outside the norm. If you can't talk about that, it means that everything "weird" is off the table automatically, because enforcing total "normalcy" is your only way of ensuring they don't suddenly come at you with a greased pineapple. It's only possible to break the generic-sex script when you can explicitly say to each other, "we're going to do some weird stuff, but we agree, no pineapples."

Consent isn't just about the right to say no to everything. Sometimes it is, and that's part of it; I had every right to not go in the cube at all. But sometimes it's about saying the no's that make yes possible.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The visions.

I'm getting weird synesthetic visions almost every time I have sex now. I can't really explain it.

Last night, I was having sex with Rowdy, and I was seeing gold vines twining up a green background, forming shapes like an Oriental rug. I was still aware of the room in reality, and of Rowdy of course, but every time I closed my eyes the vines were there. This happens almost every time, with different imagery, always very fixed and abstract. I'll be fucking and I'll have the image of a series of purple hills rushing past, or of examining every facet of a blue gem. It's not really pleasant or unpleasant in itself, it doesn't interfere with my pleasure in sex, and it's not something I feel any voluntary control over. It's just a strange sort of waking dream.

I've always experienced sex as a sort of altered state, as something that took me out of this reality. But it's still odd that it's causing me to literally--and lately, reliably--hallucinate.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rape Culture: Defending the indefensible.

Comments sections on the Internet have a strange sort of entropy, in the literal sense of reverting to lower and lower states unless they receive a constant input of energy. And if the lowest state is a seething morass of "FIRST" and "TL;DR TROLOLOL", the second lowest is the tendency of comment arguments, no matter the original subject, to revert to one of just a handfull of perpetual controversies.

Any article on science, for instance, can be relied upon to spawn one commenter who argues young-Earth evolution, fifteen who disagree but don't actually understand evolution, ten who disagree by saying "see, religion makes you stupid," and it goes on merrily from there. Any article involving a crime committed by someone with a non-white-sounding name will provoke an immigration and racial debate regardless of the actual citizenship/race of the person in question. Any article touching on sexuality or sexual health will quickly become a seething morass of "gay people: are we going to just let them get away with that?" and/or "in my day girls kept their legs shut and we didn't have all these problems."

And any article on rape will attract the predictable victim-questioning, victim-blaming, and rapist-sympathizing reactions. And this is not just on the Internet--the Internet produces easily referenced written records of these arguments, but I hear them at work and from family and some of my crappier friends and sometimes on the freakin' bus. I've written before about what these reactions are. Now I'm wondering why they are.

Most of the people expressing the "that poor accused rapist, this must be so hard for him" and "you know she acted very provocatively" viewpoints are not rapists themselves. Most of them aren't knowingly friends with rapists. They're not exactly pro-rape itself. But they have this tenacious, surprisingly emotional attachment to, if not precisely defending rape, enforcing the narrowest and most skeptical view of rape. Why is this? We'd expect rapists to be emotionally invested in this debate, and rape survivors and their loved ones, but why do apparent third parties get worked up? What's in it for them?

I have some theories. And a "bullet point" hotkey. (Alt-8.)

• The Just World Fallacy.
This is the idea that everyone gets what they deserve, good things happen to good people, and bad things only happen to bad people. This is crucially emotionally important because it means that people have complete control over their destinies. Or more specifically, that if I am pure of heart and say my prayers by night, nothing bad can happen to me. Unfortunately, to maintain this feeling of safety, you have to insist that anyone who did suffer a bad thing must've done something terrible.

An important feature of this fallacy I noted when I wrote about bullying earlier this week: the idea that these totally fair punishments and rewards are handed out by the universe itself, and are entirely based on the victims' choices. This means that any choices that the attackers may have made aren't significant, and the attackers can't really be blamed for doing the universe's dirty work.

• The Male Gaze.
This is the way our society tends to lock us into seeing things from the point of view of a heterosexual male. It's sort of assumed that you'll find "sexy" women appealing and "sexy" men funny or gross, that anyone will want to follow male role models but female ones are only for girls, and that the public discourse in general is aimed at straight men unless specified otherwise. And of course all this is tremendously magnified if you are a heterosexual man; with an effort a woman can find female perspectives, but men are almost never forced to take on a female viewpoint. Marie Curie and Amelia Earhart are never held up as heroes for little boys.

The relevant end result of this is that when someone--particularly straight men, but not only them--sees a story about a woman accusing a man of rape, they put themselves in the place of the man. They don't think "wow, what would it be like if I were raped?", but "wow, what would it be like if I were accused of rape?"

Well, I certainly wouldn't commit rape! So if I assume that this person I'm empathizing with acts the same way I would have, he must be innocent, and dealing with this false accusation must be tremendously frightening and frustrating for him. As long as you see the alleged rapist as the protagonist, the "you" of the story, the furthest you're able to stretch is "maybe he raped her for a really good reason?"

• The "Consent as Contract" Model.
I believe that consent consists of wanting to have sex or do another activity. In practical terms, when you're with a non-telepath, consent requires expressing that desire, but the expression still isn't the important part; the desire is.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don't seem to see consent this way. Instead, it's a binding contract: generally in exchange for something, a woman commits her pussy as payment. She isn't really expected to enjoy the sex; she's expected to tolerate it, and enjoy the dinner or jewelry or hugs or however the fuck this is supposed to work. Therefore, a woman in a situation that seems to be leading up to sex who then refuses to have sex is in breach of contract (and frankly being a little unreasonable), and letting her off the hook is an act of grudging generosity on the man's part. And a woman having sex without making the consent contract is being ripped off, but not really violated, because pussy is just a tool women wield dispassionately anyway.

This mindset doesn't just justify and trivialize rape; it also makes for some really shitty consensual sex, based on the "you're not supposed to like this part, you're supposed to like the dinner and this part is for me" mindset. Which ultimately doesn't even work out that great for guys, because "here, fine, have my pussy, you've earned it" isn't exactly a recipe for brutally passionate lovemaking.

• The Plain Old Fashioned Assholery.
There's also a certain contingent of people, both on the Internet and sadly also in reality, who think that being mean and narrow-minded makes them totally cool hardasses. (One of a billion examples: the recent Twitter trend #waystopissoffafatperson, in which "pissing off" is somehow equated with "winning victory over," as if simply showing aggression to someone proves your superiority to them.) There's nothing to be done for these people except hope they grow the fuck up one of these decades, and try not to give them any money or attention--or God help us, votes--until they do.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Gray coveralls.

One of the more high-level charges frequently brought against feminism is "you want men and women to be the same!" The intended image, I think, is a society of people with shaved heads in gray coveralls addressing each other cooly as "comrade" and regarding sexual passion as a primitive relict.

Well... yeah. I do want men and women to be the same. But that doesn't mean I want people to be the same. If men and women were the same, there would still be tall and short people, shy and flamboyant people, cold and nurturing people, people who want to do it on the first date and people who're waiting for a ring, people who work as nurses and people who work as pilots, people who wear short skirts in the winter and people who wear long sweaters in the summer, people in pink and blue and red and black and purple. They just wouldn't have it decided for them randomly at birth.

Vive la difference? Vive la six and a half billion differences.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The death of desperation.

At the beginning of a sexual relationship, you tend to have sex pretty much any time you see each other and you've got more than 10 minutes of privacy. (You do, right? I probably shouldn't be using the presumptive "you." I do, anyway.) Some of it is the thrill of a new relationship, but some of it is that feeling that you haven't had this kind of sex in a while and maybe you won't get so many chances to do it, so you better grab when you can. It's sex that's partly based on wanting to have sex, and partly based on fear of not having sex.

And then comes the point when you're comfortable coming over, having plenty of time and privacy, and you share some dinner and talk a bit and hug a bit and go home. It's easy for this to feel like you're getting desexualized, domesticated, like the lust and passion are dying. But I don't think it's necessarily so. A little bit is the loss of that initial flame, but it's also the loss of that initial desperation, that worry that "I could lose this at any moment, gotta get while the getting's good." Having someone you can fuck, and not fucking them, can be an act not of passivity but of fearlessness.

Fucking like there's no tomorrow can be awesome. But there's great comfort and strength in the way you can live when you believe there is a tomorrow.

(Also: Hi JM's mom! I hope you are feeling better soon! Stay strong!)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Growing up ugly.

I was, from about the time that appearance mattered (about middle school) up until I got into the kink scene, an ugly kid. Not three-eyes-ugly, but there were some things going against me: I've been fat since I was a baby, I had no idea how to dress myself, I have really weird hair, I hit puberty relatively late, and I'd skipped so many grades I was three years younger than everyone in my class. So when I got to high school, everyone else was in hot pink belly shirts and long blond ponytails and had breasts, and I was in an XXL denim shirt with hair like a tumbleweed and two years away from even a trainer bra.

I didn't get laid in high school. (Admittedly I was fifteen when I graduated. But still, when you're twelve years old and people tell you that you're unfuckable, you don't have the perspective to go "duh, I'm a child." I was devastated.) I had a brief, clandestine, and extremely chaste thing with another girl at the absolute bottom of the social ladder and I graduated.

And now, with the gift of hindsight and the much larger gift of never having to relive those days, I'm kind of glad. Being an ugly kid taught me a lot. Things like:

I am horny.
Duh, right? But never really going through the "boys will want you now" phase means that I got to experience my own horniness as a thing completely separate from male desire. Being sexually frustrated for years on end is no fun, but it teaches you to appreciate the realness of your own sex drive like nothing else. How could I buy into crap about "girls only put out for money/emotional stuff/social status" when my own vagina was going nuts with the desire just to get some goddamn cock already?

I can make the first move.
I did eventually get laid, at age 15, which may not sound like "eventually" to you, but for me it was the culmination of an absolute lifetime of frustration. I didn't do it by sitting around looking pretty and waiting for a boy to approach me. I had a crush on a male friend and I came on to him pretty hard. Even after we were sexual, having intercourse was my decision and something that I planned. I bought the condoms and I started out on top of him. The fact that boys weren't showing up at my doorstep with Boyfriend Applications didn't mean I had to hide in a hole; I just had to bypass this whole bullshit "boys approach, girls consent" protocol and go out there to work out some handshake deals with some sexy boys.

I am more than my looks.
So I wasn't pretty, or even socially acceptable, in high school. That didn't mean that I didn't exist. I had friends--"loser" friends, sure, but friends I loved absolutely dearly--my academic achievements were frankly amazing, and I generally had a full life that I was reasonably successful at. I didn't spend my time not-getting-laid but had a hell of a lot else to occupy myself with. I spent a summer before I'd even been kissed planting trees in clearcuts in the Cascades. I had never touched a penis when I got a 1580 (out of 1600) on the SAT. While I did feel down about not being sexy, I had a self-worth that had nothing to do with sex.

Sexy has nothing to do with sex.
When I started having sex, I was not appreciably hotter than I'd been before. Puberty had left me with small mismatched breasts and that was about it; I still had the body of a very small refrigerator with an untrimmed bush on top. And the sex was fucking amazing. Turns out that I can come from vaginal penetration just the way they claim women can't. Maybe "can come" is understating it. I can come fast, hard, and loud, over and over again. I wasn't sexy and my boyfriend wasn't sexy, but the actual sex we had was fantastic. I don't know if the sex bikini models have is good or not, but I don't think it could be much better.

When people give you shit, it's not because you deserve it, it's because they're shit-givers.
In high school, I got bullied a lot. People would openly make fun of me in the hallways. They'd chuck stuff at me from their cars when I was walking home. I have vivid memories of two guys in my freshman math class loudly discussing the money they'd pay to fuck various girls, then ending it on "Holly? Twelve cents." (Realizing how many things are fucked-up about that story is like one of those "count the triangles" pictures.) People spit in my food, they Sharpied my clothes, they threw trash in my hair, and at one point a group of kids actually threatened to set me on fire.

Then I got to college, and the relief was amazing. People in general didn't necessarily like me, but they were decent. Being unpopular meant that you didn't get invited to parties, not that you got passed love notes with "ha ha just kidding you are an ugly pig" inside. I realized this wasn't because I was better-looking or more "confident" or whatever. It was because college students are adults and they don't do that shit.

I didn't report most of the things that happened to me in high school because I was embarrassed to. I felt like any adult I told would respond with some polite version of either "and you just let them do this and didn't say anything?" or "well, things like this are going to keep happening until you get some confidence and learn to fit in better." It was only when the bullying stopped that I realized it wasn't about me. It wasn't the universe at large meting out things I had earned. It was just a bunch of fucked-up little assholes.

Some of those same kids also shot several pet bunnies and cats in my neighborhood. I'm glad I at least had the perspective not to react with "wow, those bunnies must have really sucked."

It gets better.
This isn't the Ugly Duckling story. I have a little bit more style and social skills now, but I'm no swan. I never did grow nice tits. I never did lose the weight. I didn't even get my hair under control. But nonetheless I grew up. And although I don't think I got pretty, I got to feeling pretty. I became first unafraid to wear normal clothes (i.e., the correct size instead of XXL, colors and designs other than "please don't notice me"), then unafraid to be naked when the situation called for it. I stopped trying to hide my belly during sex. I stopped apologizing for my appearance. I started expecting people to treat me decently.

For the longest time, I had this fantasy that I'd be beautiful someday. That I was just in my "awkward stage" and then one of these years I'd really get my shit together and lose 80 pounds and my hair would be straight and long and blonde and my face would be all lips and eyelashes and cheekbones. I was just a weirdo right now, but around 25 I'd have lots of friends and be married and own a house and maybe be pregnant and I'd have a good job as vice-president of something.

Well... I have lots of friends. Besides that, no, not so much. No conventionality, no perfect fitting in, not much conventional "success," and definitely no rapid settling-down into suburban placidity. I didn't get the life I wanted.

I got something way better.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rape Culture: Against The Door.

Wow, the "Rape Culture Two" post is taking forever to write. In the meantime to keep the theme alive, here's a scenario that's happened to me many times, and has never been rape, but nonetheless stands as an excellent example of rape culture.

Trigger warning? Probably yeah, trigger warning.

You're a woman. You're out at a public place and you meet a guy and get to talking. He seems awfully attractive, and you're single, and frankly, you're interested. He invites you back to his apartment on some lame pretense like "want to come up and see my platinum record?" (Benny had a platinum record. Not that he'd earned it or anything. He just bought it on eBay from someone. Apparently when an album goes platinum the record label makes a ton of those things and a lot of "assistant to the lead marketing team" type people get them and don't necessarily care. Anyway.) You nervously say yes and follow him to his home. On the way there, all you talk about is tense little nothings.

The instant you get to his apartment, he closes the door behind you, pushes you up against the door, and starts kissing you forcefully. His hands are wandering all over your body and he pulls up your shirt and drags your bra out of the way to grab your breast. He grinds on you and you can feel his erection pressing against your groin. (Or stomach, if you have Holly Pervocracy proportions.)

At this point, things can go three ways.

1. You moan and grind back.
This is awesome! It's passionate and spontaneous and you're powerfully turned on. Hot sex ensues.

2. You go "whoa whoa whoa" and push him off.
This isn't what you wanted. You really did just want to check out the platinum record. Or you really needed a chance to sit down and relax and talk to him for a bit first. Or you don't even know exactly what you wanted, but this isn't it.

And then he:

2a. Apologizes, backs off, and lets you catch your breath before asking what you want to happen next.
2b. Backs off, opens the door, and shows you out, not getting your number.
2c. Doesn't stop.

3. You go cold and don't get into it, but don't push him off.
This isn't what you wanted. But you're painfully aware of option 2c up there. He's a big guy. This is unfamiliar turf. And you realize that you really don't know him at all. If you're getting fucked either way, at least if you go along with it you won't get hurt.

Or maybe it's subtler than that. Maybe what's on your mind is just 2b--can you really trust your own desires here? You agreed to this, sorta kinda; isn't being not-into-it now just fickle? Do you want to be a mean bitch and completely alienate someone who likes you? Sure you're not hot for him and you're not into this, but you're just not steeled for the step of shoving him off you and treating him like a rapist. I'm not sure if this scenario is rape but I think we can agree it's not sexy.

And the solution is so, so simple. The solution is that instead of inviting people up with "want to come up and see my platinum record?", you ask "want to come up and see my penis?"

Alright, it's more complicated than that. But not much. The heart of it is communication. You can't be afraid to ask for what you really mean, and you also can't be afraid to agree to what you really mean. People who agree to the platinum record, tee hee, nudge nudge, but balk at the explicit mention of sex, but really do want to have sex, are also a big part of the problem here. In a world where saying you want to have sex is a taboo that makes men creepy and women slutty, people have to speak in oblique hints--and not everyone can take a hint.

Sex is way too important to go without saying. Platinum records are really boring to look at anyway. Don't ask people if they want to have sex any way other than "do you want to have sex?" and don't agree to have sex any way other than "oh yes I want to have sex."

Saturday, March 12, 2011

On Cavemen.

There is no such thing, in anthropology, as a "caveman." Some early human groups lived in caves, yes; others lived in tents or huts or plain old houses. I guess there's a bit less of the primitive-romance ring to "houseman."

But if by "cavemen" we mean hunter-gatherers without metal tools or formal government, here are some things you should know:

1. These groups exist today.
When metal tools and agriculture were invented, not everyone took them up. Or they took them up and abandoned them. These were not irrational decisions--being an HDTV-owning Westerner may be more comfortable than being a hunter-gatherer, but being a subsistence farmer (or factory worker, for that matter) isn't necessarily.

So "cavemen" aren't purely a matter of speculation and pottery shards. You can go out and talk to some. Ask them about their freewheeling matriarchal pansexual utopia or their animalistic primal male brutality.

...No, neither is the case. It's impossible to generalize about hunter-gatherers since I'm talking about completely separate groups in different parts of the world, but none of them are nearly as wacky sexually as "cavemen" have been made out to be. A lot of them even just have marriages.

2. Everything we know suggests that anatomically modern humans were also mentally and emotionally modern humans.
The jokes are about cavemen going "ugga ugga FIRE ug," but a better quote from the Paleolithic would probably be "Good morning! Let's go fishing; I just traded some pots my wife made to the guys across the river for some bone fishooks. Now I better bring back some big fish or she's going to be mad." (In caveman language, of course.) They were people, living people's lives.

Obviously not all of their cultural values were in common with modern Americans, but we're talking like foreign-country different, not like chimpanzee different. (And while I'm at it: even chimpanzee different is not irrational or pointlessly brutal. Chimps have structured societies and they only express agression under certain circumstances and there are tons of examples of them putting social cohesion over physical urges. Even animals aren't "animalistic.") You might not always have agreed with them, but you would have understood them. And not like "the male is providing for his mate to prove his genetic quality" understood. Like "yeah, I can see why he kinda owes his wife after selling her stuff" understood.

Here are some things we know Paleolithic people did: Care for the sick. Bury the dead. Make art. Wear jewelry. Keep dogs. Travel in boats. Trade with each other. Follow calendars. Play musical instruments.

Boats? Boats that could get to Australia. You take some trees and some rocks and sail to Australia. (And when you get there, ain't exactly a Foodmaster in the neighborhood, so you're going to have to pull some Bear Grylls shit. For your entire life. While raising children.) Then tell me about primitive cavemen following their animal instincts.

3. Human culture changes much faster than the human genome.
I mentioned above that hunter-gatherer groups are quite different from each other. Someone from the Pirahã people in the Amazon wouldn't have all that much to talk about with someone from the Sentinelese people in the Andaman Islands. But the genetic differences between them--and between either of them and you or me--are extremely slight. Their culture was shaped by their circumstances and their history, not by genetics.

So to call the process by which other hunter-gatherer groups started farming and specializing and forming civilizations and colonizing until they became you and me "evolution" is a gross misuse of the term. It's sure as hell not genetic evolution, at least. People who farm don't dominate the world because there's a "farm gene" that has become prevalent, but because farmers had more children and they taught those children to farm. Farmers having more kids is NOT "survival of the fittest" in the Darwinian sense; if you raise one of those kids in a hunter-gatherer society, they're not going to spontaneously plant a garden.

Things that are way, way too new to be codified in the human genome:
Dating (arguably, my grandmother is older than modern dating)
Groups of people larger than your high school graduating class
Written language
2011 standards of physical beauty (again, ask my grandmother)

Behaviors relating to these or other modern concepts are extremely, extremely unlikely to be directly "hardwired" into our genetics.

4. You are not a caveman, anyway.
Yeah. Don't sit there at your computer wearing your pants enjoying your central heating and tell me that sexuality is the one specific area of human behavior where people are helpless against their genetics.

Slightly off the caveman topic, but a thing I wanted to say:
5. Physical beauty does not indicate "quality genes" and sexual frequency does not indicate "fitness."
"Fitness" means the number of children you have who survive to reproduce themselves. To a lesser degree, the survival and reproduction of your other relatives and your tribe also increases your fitness. So being kind and responsible to your family isn't just ethical, it's adaptive. Considering the amount of work involved in raising a human child (particularly in preindustrial times), conceiving a bunch of embryos and running off doesn't necessarily get you a lot of grandchildren.

As for the "quality" of a hottie's genes, all you can really say is that the children are more likely to be hotties themselves. Doesn't make them more (or less) fertile, intelligent, healthy, aggressive, cooperative, or good at parenting. Mating with a square-jawed broad-shouldered dude who carries genes for asthma and has no malaria resistance is no way to ensure "quality" genes. That'll just get you a bunch of square-jawed broad-shouldered kids with asthma and malaria.

It may be super boring to suggest that being in a stable relationship with someone who's nice as well as healthy is the "fittest" thing for both sexes, but I think it's a hell of a lot better bet than a supermodel fucking an egomaniac.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rape Culture: What Is Rape Culture?

I'm hoping to make this the first of a series of posts. Only the first couple are going to be about problems. The rest are going to be solution-focused.

(And yes, some of this does go against things I've said previously on this blog, particularly pre-2009 or so. But then, a lot of the older posts aren't entirely in line with what I currently believe. I've been over a lot of ground while writing this blog and I never intended it to be a single coherent manifesto.)

It was while reading Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti's Yes Means Yes that I finally understood what the phrase "rape culture" really means. And that yes, we live in a rape culture.

What Rape Culture Is Not
It does not mean that our culture explicitly approves of rape. It does not mean that rape is a universal experience--the majority of people will never be raped and a larger majority of people will never rape. And it isn't a concept pertaining only to rape itself. Rape is the purest expression of rape culture, but far from the only one.

When I name something as part of rape culture, I don't mean that the thing itself is a form of rape. Rape is the act of engaging in physical sexual activity with someone without their consent, and to call other things "rape" cheapens and muddies the issue. So abstinence-only education is part of rape culture, but it's not some kind of goofy "educational rape."

I'm also not saying that every aspect of rape culture "causes" rape. While I believe abstinence-only education contributes to rape, I'm not trying to posit some kind of direct "video games cause violence!"-type causation here. Abstinence-only education is one facet, a phenomenon that is both effect and partial cause, of a big complicated paradigm which, taken in total, enables and tolerates rape.

Also: none of this is calling you a rapist. (Or a rape survivor, for that matter.) But that doesn't mean it's not about you. Learning how you're contributing to rape culture--and, later in this series, both philosophical and practical ways to work against it--is still a way of fighting rape and exploitation. If you say "well, I didn't rape anyone today," I'm not going to disagree. I'm going to ask if you did or said or thought something that enabled someone who enabled someone who raped. If you didn't, you can stop reading now and apply for sainthood. Bye.

Now that it's just us sinners here, let's get started.

What Rape Culture Is
Rape culture is the collection of beliefs and behaviors that enable rape.

With very few exceptions, rape is not a random act of violence. Hitting someone with a spaghetti squash while dressed as Eddie Munster is a random act of violence. Forcing someone culturally considered different and lesser to engage in an act culturally considered taboo and mystical and ego-defining is an extremely specific act of violence. Rapists are not "just evil people," they're people being evil in a way that rape culture encourages, enables, and tolerates.

(Rape is biological? Bullshit. Pissing is biological. Pissing in a toilet while wanting privacy and cleaning yourself with paper is cultural. Sex and aggression may be innate, but the ways we express them are as culturally defined as rock'n'roll.)

The effects of rape culture include rape. They also include other forms of violence, such as many murders and assaults, and other forms of sexual exploitation, such as forced prostitution and exploitative porn. They include completely nonviolent forms of sexism and homophobia. They include plain old bad sex and relationships. None of these things would go away if rape culture was eliminated, but they'd be much less common and much more clearly recognized as wrong when they did occur. Rape wouldn't be gone forever, but it would no longer be an integrated part of our world.

I'll get into detail about what the beliefs and behaviors of rape culture are in the next post. But I think the most fundamental ones are:
1. "There are two clearly defined and opposite genders."
2. "Women are the other one."
3. "Sex and the sexual body are taboo."
4. "Sex and love are magical and mysterious."
5."The sex you have defines your entire self."
6. "Sex is an object, not an activity."
7. "A person's sexuality can be separated from their self."

Obviously, your average Joe Rapist would not articulate most of these thoughts, but he believes them, on a certain knee-jerk level. To believe that sex can be taken from a person, that it's worth taking, and that you need to take it is to buy into those beliefs.

And rape culture is when people who mostly aren't rapists continuously believe and reinforce these things.

My Day In Rape Culture
This is not any sort of "composite." All of these things literally happened yesterday.

00:00 - I sit down at the ER secretary desk and read through the list of patients. Two (out of about twenty) are women who were assaulted by their male partners that night, and another one is a psychiatric patient with PTSD from a rape.

01:00 - Coworkers at the ER discuss a sexual assault patient from that other shift. She was drunk, you know, and awfully naive. I'm sure they won't prosecute, I mean, what kind of case do they have? Can't be responsible for people who can't even take the simplest steps to protect themselves. Sure the guy was scum, but it wasn't really super rapey rape, and what did she think would happen?

02:00 - Two male coworkers read from a "wacky sex facts" phone app loudly at my desk. At first I laugh along--and I am amused, even though I know they're being kind of inappropriate. I stifle the urge to contribute any personal knowledge, because it would be socially alienating or even job-risking to reveal my sexuality. I also note that the sex facts are almost all "woman facts," skewing heavily to description of the female anatomy and of how to please a woman.

04:00 - The psychologist who evaluates psychiatric patients to see if they need to be admitted comes by my desk muttering about how the PTSD patient barely speaks goddamn English and they shouldn't let them into this country to use up all our resources. (She is a legal resident.) The order for her to be discharged pops up on my computer shortly after.

07:00 - I leave work. The song that comes up on my car radio is about following a woman around until she loves the male singer, no matter how long that takes.

09:00 - I stop at the craft store to pick up some jewelry-making supplies. Every person there is a woman. This is a little because women are more likely to have time bored alone at home, and a lot because a guy stitching a sampler or stringing a necklace would be so gaaaay.

10:00 - I get home. I keep the curtains to my bedroom shut unless I'm awake and in the room, because I have a ground-floor bedroom that faces a public space. When I'm away, I close them to hide my computer and TV and stuff. When I'm sleeping, I close them to hide myself.

10:30 - To fall asleep, I masturbate. I think about having rough, painful, and specifically forced sex and it gets me off. This may just be my personal tendency to masochism, or it may be the absorbed idea that this would be the most intense and passionate sex of all. It's a fuzzy distinction, and one that's hard to face head-on philosophically when it's only in your head and you're about twenty seconds from orgasm. I sort of try to tell myself "oh, she had a safeword, she totally just decided not to use it."

(12:00 - I wake up and can't fall back asleep. This isn't rapey, it's just really really annoying.)

13:00 - I look at the Pervocracy comment moderation queue. There's a lot of stuff in there that I feel weird about prior-restraining, but can't bring myself to take the action of publishing them either, so they just sit in the queue rotting and making me frowny every time I update my comments.

I know women will never take personal responsibility for their own actions(Getting drunk,thinking it's ok to ruin a man because he didn't return a call etc) but i felt the need to defend men because of this outrageous blog. Now I don't even care when women cry rape because I'll be honest i think they 99% of them are liars.

I'm aware that this is probably a troll. That doesn't negate the fact that they decided I should be trolled and I should be trolled in this way.

14:00 - I flip through Cosmopolitan briefly.

15:30 - I take a shower. I wear a bathrobe to go from my bedroom to the bathroom, even though it's like three feet away, in case my roommate sees me. I'm not afraid of him, but there's still a rule he shouldn't see me naked.

16:00 - I get dressed to go out. Nothing too revealing--I've gotten shit before for looking too slutty. Nothing too slouchy--I've gotten shit before for looking too gay or too unsexy.

17:00 - I get ready to meet a male friend for dinner and take him home to fool around. I've had him over before and I know him to be an entirely gentle and respectful person, and one who's well aware of gender and sexuality issues. Of course I don't think he's going to rape me; I don't think he's even going to be impolite to me! Yet even then there's a certain nervousness I can't quash. A certain feeling that once I open my door to him I'm committing to something, if not intercourse, something beyond what I might really desire.

(18:00 on - Everything goes great and when I'm too tired to do more than a little fooling, he doesn't push me and just cuddles and is sweet. You did not rape-culture me, friend!)

Obviously these things cover the gamut from "holy crap that's horrible" to "wow, that's a stretch, the craft store is rape culture?" (It is! I'll stand by that! But it's a rather tangential expression of the more abstract parts. I don't think that getting men into beading is an anti-rape Priority One task.) But that's one random day.

Coming up: "The Beliefs and Behaviors of Rape Culture," and then the fun parts: "Kink Versus Rape Culture," "Feminism Versus Rape Culture," "Queerness Versus Rape Culture," "Joy Versus Rape Culture"! Or something like that. TBD.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cosmocking: April '11! Part Two!


My coworker grabbed my Cosmo at work and was reading it unironically. I don't think she understood why I kept babbling things like "you are a beautiful and complete human being just the way you are" to her.

The last thing you want is for your significant other to think you're actually sadistic.
Yeah, God forbid you actually be into anything you're doing here. Then again, in Cosmo, God kinda forbid you be into anything. It's not just fetishes but even preferences they seem to be interested in squashing--the idea of a woman having authentic desires of her own doesn't much enter into it.

Cosmo does acknowledge that women want sex and pleasure, which is a step up from a purely "ways to please your man" model, but it can't take the idea of female desire much further than that. Sex in Cosmoland is a strangely homogenous blend of things that can be sketchily claimed as "natural", things that are presumed to look "sexy" to straight men, and things that don't threaten to be "abnormal" as judged by a heterosexual cisgendered monogamous vanilla person who is in about ninth grade.

To be fair to Cosmo, to be actually sadistic, to take pleasure directly from another's pain, really would be a horrific thing in the absence of communication and specific explicit consent. And the thing I can't quote from this article--because it isn't there--is the part where they even touch on these concepts. This isn't an advanced-level feminist-theory deal here. This is "honey, it would turn me on so much to treat you a little rough in bed, and you can stop it at any time and you can tell me 'no' right now, but would you be willing to try that?" You can seriously get this going with one sentence.

The closest Cosmo gets is suggesting that you watch a music video with bondage themes and murmur that you think it's hot. But the final paragraph is this:
Or you could not say anything and leave a pair of handcuffs by the bed. "Pick up a pair that are furry or a bright color," says Kerner. "Those are obviously more playful and will signal that you're just looking to have fun. When your guy catches sight of them, trust us, one or both of you will be naked in no time."
I guess that is communication of a sort. But it's the sort that leaves a whole lot of questions open--Who's going to be wearing these? What's going to happen when they're on? What is the appeal of this for you? If he doesn't want to do this, are there other kinky things you could agree on?--and judging by the jump cut to "will be naked," I don't think you're ever expected to address these things explicitly. Sex just happens!

Man, you want to talk about "rape culture"? (I've been reading up on this and have a couple in-depth non-fisk posts coming on the subject. Despite the name, it's about a lot more than just rape.) The idea that "sex just happens" is a major aspect of rape culture. If what "just happens" with those handcuffs is he slaps them on you and throws you down and starts fucking you roughly, the line between "how spontaneous and passionate!" and "oh God this isn't what I wanted at all" is... murky.

How about "oh God this isn't what I wanted at all, but it's not like killing me and he seems into it and I don't want to start a lot of drama, so I'll think of England and hope he finishes up quick"? That's not exactly rape, but it's a close relative and sometimes precursor of rape, and at any rate it sure as hell isn't what sex should be.

Check out this ad for "imitation whipped cream flavor vodka." (Ew.) Because the only reason a man would be ironing is because he's (hilariously, unrealistically, unmanningly) doing what a woman wants! Not because, he, I dunno, owns clothing that needs ironing. Or even that he lives in a household where clothes need ironing, and he's a part of that household. And as usual, there's an anti-male message partnered with the anti-female one--not only are you supposed to think "normally he would have a woman do that for him!", you're also supposed to think "without a woman around he'd be too slovenly and undisciplined to do that himself!"

I do like the male flesh in the ad, though. The vast majority of the ads in Cosmo feature sexy women with the implication "don't you want to look like her?", so it's nice to see a little acknowledgement that men can also be looked at.

Q: Do guys have signs they look for to guess whether a girl's going to be good in bed?
A: Yes. The top sign is that she's crazy--getting into fights, being super jealous, and just doing insane stuff. Why? If a woman acts like a maniac in public, there's a good chance she'll be as unrestrained in public.

No, this isn't followed by a "but seriously now," it's followed by directives on how to be just crazy enough (tell a dirty joke or a story about skinny-dipping! but not skinny-dipping with a boy! I'm not making this up!) without scaring guys off.

(By being "crazy" and doing "insane" stuff I'm fairly sure he does not mean suffering from painful and confusing mood and thought distortions. But of course not. You know what I mean, just sort of like a mentally ill person.)

This isn't really about mental health, though. It's about Madonnas and whores. Either a girl is a nice person but boring in bed, or she's great in bed but barely housetrained. There's no concept that a person could have more than one side to them, much less that self-control and respect for boundaries actually can lead to better sex.

And when I say "better," I don't mean like "oh life partner, that was such a mutually fulfilling experience." I mean growling, hands-on-wrists, sloppy wet, violently orgasmic sex. Trust me here. This boundary shit ain't just homework. Because once you've gone through the process of discovering what isn't a boundary and what wouldn't scare your partner off, of building trust that you can go off the standard script without going out of control, of demonstrating that you'll still see your partner as a whole and dignified person no matter how filthy they get... you can go places that would never be possible if sex just happened. Ecstatic, fluid-spattered places.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cosmocking: April '11! Part One!

White cover! Those are my favorite! Olivia Wilde! It looks like a tank top, but no, I guess it's a dress! The outlines of her breasts visible beneath the dress do not line up with her cleavage in any comprehensible manner! Also her head is perfectly level even though her neck is angled! Try doing this in a mirror! "50 Ways to Seduce a Man (In a Minute or Less)"! Turns out these are ways to tell your boyfriend you want sex, not seduce a man from scratch, so it's not really that hard! "Kinky Sex"! No it's not!

We're hard-wired to enjoy items more when they have a higher price tag.
New rule. Cosmo writers, you're not allowed to use the phrase "hard-wired" any more unless you:
A) Present proof of completion of one semester of evolutionary biology, two semesters of anthropology, and one semester of neuroanatomy
or B) Are discussing electronics.

Maybe with enough education, they'll finally realize that words have specific meanings, so you can't just orangutan brownie woodchip.

Q: Is it rude to wear heels that make me taller than my guy?
A: It depends on the guy. Some have issues with being vertically challenged[...] If yours is one of them, rock glam flats on date nights. Even if size has never been an obvious sore spot for your man, aim for a heel that makes you no more than an inch taller than him. It's great that he doesn't have a complex... and you don't want to give him one.

Poor Sprite. She's six feet tall. To avoid complexifying most guys (including Rowdy), she'll have to dig a small trench everywhere she goes. (To avoid giving me a complex, she'll need to sit on the floor.)

"Women should be shorter than men" thinking comes from the same place as "women should shave their legs," I think. The average woman is shorter and less hairy than the average man--with tons of exceptions on both sides, but on average--and somehow this went from descriptive to prescriptive, to the edict that a woman must have no body hair and must be shorter than any guy she's seen with, or else she's a man or her boyfriend isn't a man or something.

It's amazing the work a woman has to put into not being a man, considering how she wasn't a man in the first place.

Warning: Cougar-in-training
This is the caption on a picture of Selena Gomez (18) kissing Justin Bieber (16). Yeah, way to work that "confident older woman who's been around the block" vibe, you, uh, teenager.

You know, it's cute now, but just think: when he turns 30, she'll be... 31.

"I Kept a Secret Sex Blog!"
Oh boy Cosmo. This'll be fun. (Although admittedly this blog is currently about as "secret" as the Washington Monument. I introduce myself as "Holly Pervocracy" at parties, for chrissake.)

I imagined myself as a next-generation, just-married Carrie Bradshaw. And maybe, if I was super racy and held nothing back, I could even get a book and movie deal!
Oh honey. If you could get a book and movie deal for writing "and then his woody went in my hoo-hoo, like for serious you guys!", I wouldn't be processing body fluid specimens at 3 AM.

Really, I think it has less to do with how "racy" you are and more to do with writing excellent query and proposal letters and having good industry contacts.

Immediately, I began brainstorming topics and drafting entries about my bikini-wax preferences and how I fantasized about christening every corner of the house we'd just purchased.
Wow. How racy. I, uh, shave and I have roommates so I can't really go around "christening" everything, but one time Rowdy's roommates were away and we broke the living room futon. ...Because it couldn't support five people at once.

Every thought and conversation that I had that had anything to do with sex--Would I ever be up for a threesome? Were our best friends really swingers?--went on the blog.
I'm fairly sure I would be up for a threesome. I am also fairly sure that some of my best friends are swingers. The funny thing is, I've kind of gotten to the point where I don't even find these things noteworthy. I've had threesomes that I didn't bother to write about on the blog because it was just, you know, a night in with my loved ones, and hashing out the details each time seems... boring. (Three-way cuddles really are the best, though. Three-way sex can take a bit of choreography, but being in a "drawer of spoons" is just plain warm and fuzzy and awesome.) At this point in my sexual evolution I'm more interested in the meaning of weird and free sex than the mere fact that I'm having it.

I know this isn't about me. I'm just comparing sexblog dicks at this point. Mine's bigger. Let's move on.

"One morning, I served my guy breakfast in bed, but I told him he could only eat if off my body."
Good breakfast foods for this: Fresh fruit, whipped cream, small pastries
Maybe: Yogurt, cereal, toast
Bad: Fried eggs, sizzling bacon, piping hot oatmeal

"I asked my husband to grab something out of my purse, knowing he would find the dirty book--and the especially hot scene that I'd dog-eared--stashed in there."
I know that risk-taking is sexy and all, but this seems like it runs about a 90% chance of him going "here's your thing, honey" and going on his merry way, and then you have to either scrap the whole plan or resort to increasingly pathetic "hey, baby, did you notice anything else in my purse... no, keep looking... it's in the big pocket... under the glasses case, yeah... no, not the phone charger... okay, sheesh, just look at the book... now look at the dog-eared page... no, the other side of the page" maneuvers.

"The guy I was dating was writing a mid-term paper. When he got up from his laptop, I inserted the words Let's bleep. He met me in the bedroom ASAP.
1. This would have turned out awesome if he hadn't noticed.
2. It would also be kind of awesome if she literally wrote "bleep."

Scoop an ice cube out of his drink, and drop it down your blouse... then lean back and tell him to find it.
"And, GYAAHHHH, quickly!"

Walk up to him, slap a pair of handcuffs on his wrists, and tell him he's your sex slave for the night.
Negotiation, motherfucker, do you speak it?

Here's the thing this is missing: men can have triggers. Not everyone's feelings about being physically restrained are totally comfy and fun, and some people have had some really really bad experiences with being unable to move. If it turns out, for example, that your boyfriend was a survivor of police brutality, it's possible his reaction to being unexpectedly handcuffed won't be entirely boneriffic.

Or maybe it will. Maybe he has no bad associations, or he does but he's fine doing it in a safe and sexy context. You don't know unless you ask. And if you think it's awkward talking about sex, well, frantically apologizing and unlocking and apologizing again is a whole lot more awkward.

There's more. So much more! But if I don't get my three hours of beauty sleep I'll be just a wreck when I literally wreck my car from sleep deprivation. To be continued...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Face beyond beauty.

Rowdy got a new camera (this was a more involved process than most house purchases) and last night he was taking pictures of me and showing me the super-duper high-quality results.

At first, I was a little bit appalled. I'm aware that I don't look like the ladies in the magazines, but the photos made it so painfully obvious how little I look like them. If angular faces with big eyes and graceful expressions and coiffed hair are beautiful, I'm round-faced and narrow-eyed and guffawing and frizzy.

But you know, so I am. Is that why I'm not beautiful, or is it why I look like me and not somebody else? Is a linear scale from "good" to "bad" really a way to fairly describe anything in the world, much less a human being? When you go to the grocery store, you don't shop for "the best food"--you put carrots and potatoes and milk and chicken in your cart, because they're different things. Because the very best carrots are really shitty milk.

So I looked at the photos again, and made an effort to stop seeing them as not-Jessica-Alba for ten seconds and instead see what is there. It's me. It's a combination of genetics and luck and history and choices that exists nowhere else on Earth. I don't look like other people because I'm not other people.

We took some pictures of Rowdy too. One of them came out really nice; the focus is crisp, the pose is cool, and there's a lot of personality showing in his face. But Rowdy also has a weird discoloration in one eye, and this is very visible in the photo. "I'll retouch that out," he said. And I questioned: why would he? That's what his eye looks like. It's kind of cool. (It gives him eyes that are different colors! How awesome is that?) Is it more important to have a picture of the Theoretical Perfect Eye than of his eye?

I mean, there's a reason I took that photo of him and not of somebody else. If I just wanted the "best" possible photo, I would've put a picture of John Barrowman in the album. So is the best photo of Rowdy one that makes him look the most like John Barrowman while still being sort of recognizable--or is it a photo that shows what he looks like?

None of this is a protest that I'm beautiful, or that Rowdy is. (Although he so is.) Instead, it's about looking beyond beauty, as seeing appearances as conveying things in entirely different dimensions than "prettier" or "uglier." Not everything in my life is about who wants to bang me, so not everything in my face is about how bangable it is. (Not that bangability requires perfection anyway, considering what else happened last night.) I've posted about how I'm more than that, but even my appearance itself is more than that.

Am I hot or not? I'm Holly.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Every time you use the letter "u," I'm going to smack you on the nose. That's the consequence if you use that letter.



"Ow! Why are you..."


"Aagh! Okay, I get it. Only it doesn't make any sense. Why does anyone care if I use..."


"Stop it! God dammit, stop doing that! Yes, the enforcement is consistent, and yes, it's possible for me to comply. And no, there's no concept that I can't convey absent that letter, if I make an effort. Still, it's not necessary to enforce this restriction. It does no good and prevents no harm. As far as I can tell, y... the person I'm speaking to merely decided to do this. Why am I--and my nose--held responsible for that?"

"Oh, and I'm really getting sick of this, so... FUCK YOU!"


You know what the problem is with kids these days? They just can't handle consequences.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Good, giving, game.

I like Dan Savage, for the most part. He's funny, he's unflinchingly sex-positive, and he provides a voice for queer and kinky sexualities in some surprisingly mainstream venues. So this is not a "Dan Savage said a bad thing and now everything he ever wrote sucks retroactively." But Dan Savage did say a bad thing.

I'm a 24-year-old straight male. For the past six months, I've been dating an amazing GGG girl. We have amazing sex. The other night, after a week of no sex, I came on to her in bed. She turned me down and said that she was okay with me masturbating on the other side of the bed so she could sleep. After a very unsatisfying orgasm, I told her I understood her need to sleep, since we had an early engagement the next morning, but that this was difficult for me. She said we'd have great sex the next day, which we did. Which one of us needs to be GGG in this scenario, should it happen again?
Fucking Early Engagement Botches Lovely Evening

A week is a long time to go without at your age and at six months and prekids, I realize, but it sounds like the girlfriend more than made it up to you the next day. As for who needs to be GGG in this scenario, should it happen again (and it will)...
GGG demands a little something of both of you. GGG requires you to stop whining about having to wait 24 whole hours for awesome sex, FEEBLE, and GGG requires her—if she isn't completely exhausted (and it appears she wasn't, as she was still awake when your "very unsatisfying orgasm" was over)—to come through with a loving assist when you're desperate and she's not feeling it, i.e., lie with you, talk dirty to you, stick a finger up your butt—whatever—for the 5 or 10 minutes it takes you to drain your sack.

Okay, so the letter writer is patently ridiculous--oh no, we didn't have sex one whole night, how can I go on--and Savage does get that. He probably picked the letter specifically because it was so ridiculous. But then we get into the creepy area of "GGG." This is Savage's pet acronym for "good, giving, game," and was originally created to symbolize the idea that people should be willing to try things their partners are into, even if it's not their cup of tea, because giving is part of a relationship. Which, okay. Could use a little more "unless it's a limit for you," but I generally agree--"we'll do your fetish tonight" is on some level the same kind of good and necessary relationship giving as "I'll get the dishes tonight." Except this dishwashing involves doing things to intimate parts of your body that could be disgusting or painful for you, so, you know, not exactly the same.

But GGG seems to have undergone a disquieting metamorphosis into the sensitive new-age sex-positive way to say "partners are obligated to satisfy all sexual demands." And it seems to have been co-opted by assholes--"c'mon, baby, be GGG!" is the new "you can't leave me with blue balls!" It's just a cheap guilt trip used to override a "no." Maybe most dangerously, it seems to have been turned around, from something you decide to be to your partner, to something you demand that your partner be. "I'm GGG, so I'm putting on the diaper for you" is a very different thing from "you need to be GGG and put on this diaper."

I propose an alternate theory of dealing with unilateral desires or fetishes: LAHTW. Lead A Horse To Water. In other words, you communicate your desire, and... that's it. Once they know what you want, they go where they go with that knowledge.

So my advice for the letter writer:
"Hey, girlfriend, want to have sex tonight? I do!"
"No, but it's fine with me if you masturbate."
"Oh, okay."

I think a lot of people are opposed to such blunt constructions of consent because it conjures up the fear "but then I'll never get laid!" But, as I say so often, women are horny. If your girlfriend is having sex with you so much that a whole week off seems like an eternity, then she's probably horny for you. She probably wants to make you happy sexually (most of the time and within her limits). And if she doesn't, if she really doesn't care about your pleasure or if she just can't get into the things you're into, then a cute acronym and a guilt trip aren't going to change that.

This is the same reason I can't get jealous in relationships. If someone I love wants to love me, awesome, and if they don't, well, fuck. It ends there. Once I've communicated that I want to be close (and acted all sweet and wuvable to them), there's nothing more I should--or ultimately, can--do to ensure that. Trying to make "no fair falling out of love with me!" rules is either unnecessary or hopeless.

I've been on both sides of the "nope, but your exciting consolation prize is a handjob!" negotiation. It's not an invalid compromise. But it's not an obligatory one. Sometimes no means not even a little bit. Or sometimes no means "eh, rather not" rather than being a giant "ABSOLUTELY NOT IT WOULD KILL ME" line in the sand, and if your partner feels comfortable doing this and if you respect it, that's a really good sign for the relationship.

Ultimately, I don't believe the old saw about "Relationships are about compromise!" Relationships are about doing what you want to do, and discovering to your delight that what you want to do is make your partner happy. If that want isn't there, no set of imposed rules--not GGG, not The Rules, not even the Standard Western Heterosexual Relationship Unwritten Rules--is going to make up for it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Gentlemen Prefer Grinning Automatons.

Recently linked in the comments, another case of Someone Is Wrong On The Internet. Fisking stuff that's obviously wrong is strangely fulfilling to me not just because I get to swear at a more successful writer and make them look silly, but because it's a way to clarify my own views. In making the step from "this is wrong because it makes me angry and it's wrongity wrong wrong," to "this is wrong because X, Y, and also Z," I'm able to work out beliefs I might not otherwise have examined. It's also good practice in critical thinking, in identifying the overarching fallacies of sexism, and in providing just a bit of counter-evidence for the people who say "but sexism is dead now!"

It's also entertaining.

So. Why You're Not Married. (Because you have a personality. Men hate personalities.)

You want to get married. It's taken a while to admit it. Saying it out loud -- even in your mind -- feels kind of desperate, kind of unfeminist, kind of definitely not you, or at least not any you that you recognize.
I don't know if I want to get married. It seems to me that marriage doesn't necessarily make a huge difference--if you didn't have a close and committed relationship before, this isn't going to help, and if you had a close and committed relationship before, well, what are you hoping to accomplish? Tax and other legal benefits mostly. So maybe it's really up to H&R Block if I'm ever going to get married.

(Sidenote: I've always liked the idea of a wedding, however. I have a longstanding fantasy of going to one of those Vegas quickie-novelty-wedding places and hiring Reverend Presley to do the whole ceremony dealie even though we're not signing papers, just for giggles.)

There's also the issue that my current relationship can't get fully legally sanctioned even in Massachusetts.

But look at me here approaching the issue rationally. I ought to have figured this out while crying into a bridesmaid dress:
Then, something happened. Another birthday, maybe. A breakup. Your brother's wedding. [...] You started to hate the bride -- she was so effing happy -- and for the first time ever you began to have feelings about the fact that you're not married.
Something this article never gets too clear on: am I starting with a boyfriend? Is this a "can't get a man to look at me twice" problem or a "can't get my man to commit" problem? Those seem like two very different things. And trying to accomplish both steps at once, trying to get a date so you can marry him, doesn't seem like a good idea to me. Particularly if you're using marriage as shorthand for "happy and intimate marriage" rather than "I literally just want to be married to something."

Also, not to sound like Holly-Two-Shoes here, but I've never been to a wedding where I hated the bride! I mean, I don't go to weddings of people I don't like, and when I like a person, it's nice that they're happy! Maybe with age I'll learn the womanly art of bitterness.

It basically comes down to this: I've been married three times. Yes, three. To a very nice MBA at 19; a very nice minister's son at 32 (and pregnant); and at 40, to a very nice liar and cheater who was just like my dad, if my dad had gone to Harvard instead of doing multiple stints in federal prison. I was, for some reason, born knowing how to get married.
"I'm great at quitting smoking; I've done it ten times!"

I know how to get married too. If all I wanted out of life was a marriage certificate with my name on one line and someone who could fog a mirror on the other, I could've been married years ago. But this is so irrelevant to my goals that it's meaningless. It's like having the recipe for sewage lasagna; it doesn't matter if I know how, because I'm not dumb enough to actually execute such a pointless plan.

I don't know how to marry someone awesome who will stay in love with me and whom I will stay in love with. But it's pretty clear that neither does she.

But I won't lie. The problem is not men, it's you. Sure, there are lame men out there, but they're not really standing in your way. Because the fact is -- if whatever you're doing right now was going to get you married, you'd already have a ring on it. So without further ado, let's look at the top six reasons why you're not married.
There's a weird little grain of truth buried here: the problem is never an entire gender. If your problem is with "men" or "women" in general and as a group, then the problem is indeed on your end.

That said, we haven't exactly established that I'm trying to get a ring on it at all costs. So the fact that what I'm doing right now hasn't resulted in a ring is what we call "a feature, not a bug."

1. You're a Bitch.
[...]The deal is: most men just want to marry someone who is nice to them. I am the mother of a 13-year-old boy, which is like living with the single-cell protozoa version of a husband. Here's what my son wants out of life: macaroni and cheese, a video game, and Kim Kardashian. Have you ever seen Kim Kardashian angry? I didn't think so. You've seen Kim Kardashian smile, wiggle, and make a sex tape. Female anger terrifies men. I know it seems unfair that you have to work around a man's fear and insecurity in order to get married -- but actually, it's perfect, since working around a man's fear and insecurity is big part of what you'll be doing as a wife.

So now I know how to marry a 13-year-old. ...Ew.

Or really I just know how to get a 13-year-old to jerk off to me, since I doubt that loving partnership is really part of the kid's designs on Ms. Kardashian.

And holy fucking hell to "working around a man's fear and insecurity." I'm not going to marry someone I have to work around. Work with, certainly; everyone has some fear and insecurity. But that's something to comfort or confront, not avoid by never taking any risk of upsetting them. To "work around" someone implies that they themselves cannot be dealt with, that they're a child to be pampered or a tyrant to be tiptoed around. I have a little more respect for men than that.

Also: there's few things I hate worse than someone playing the "I know it's unpleasant and you don't want it to be true, but reality is cruel" card when saying something that isn't true. There are situations where "suck it up and deal, that's life" is true, but there are also a lot more where it's used as a smokescreen for things that really aren't right.

2. You're Shallow.
When it comes to choosing a husband, only one thing really, truly matters: character. So it stands to reason that a man's character should be at the top of the list of things you are looking for, right? But if you're not married, I already know it isn't. Because if you were looking for a man of character, you would have found one by now. Men of character are, by definition, willing to commit.

Apparently being "of character" is a static and binary thing. You're of character or you aren't, fellas, and it's stamped on the packaging. And if you are of character, you'll marry basically the first woman who talks to you.

3. You're a Slut.
[...]That's due in part to this thing called oxytocin -- a bonding hormone that is released when a woman a) nurses her baby and b) has an orgasm -- that will totally mess up your casual-sex game. It's why you can be f**k-buddying with some dude who isn't even all that great and the next thing you know, you're totally strung out on him. And you have no idea how it happened. Oxytocin, that's how it happened. And since nature can't discriminate between marriage material and Charlie Sheen, you're going to have to start being way more selective than you are right now.

Oh god, the oxytocin thing. Oxytocin is a magical hormone that makes a lady instantly fall in love with anyone who's around when she has an orgasm, which is why my true and deepest and first love is that pillow I had in sixth grade. (The creepiest permutation of oxytocin lore is the threat that you can "run out" if you have too many orgasms with people who aren't your true love. No, that doesn't make any sense.)

Facetiousness aside, you know what really gets me about this sort of thing? If it were true, you wouldn't have to be told about it. Falling in love after sex would be like getting thirsty on a hot day--blatant and predictable. "Welp, now I'm in love with you" would be as everyday as "welp, now I want a nap." When someone tells you something about your own nature and it comes as a surprise, skepticism is in order.

I dunno if "nature" can distinguish between marriage material and Charlie sheen, but I can. But wait... I'm made of nature!

4. You're a Liar.
It usually goes something like this: you meet a guy who is cute and likes you, but he's not really available for a relationship. He has some condition that absolutely precludes his availability, like he's married, or he gets around town on a skateboard. Or maybe he just comes right out and says something cryptic and open to interpretation like, "I'm not really available for a relationship right now."
You know if you tell him the truth -- that you're ready for marriage -- he will stop calling. Usually that day. And you don't want that. So you just tell him how perfect this is because you only want to have sex for fun! You love having fun sex! And you don't want to get in a relationship at all! You swear!

I don't exactly disagree with this section. It's pretty much an exercise in constructing an imaginary woman who is comically stupid, then telling her that she's stupid. It's not wrong, but it's so obvious that it's not exactly something I needed to hear from a MARRIAGE EXPERT, either.

"I know what you're like: you're eating your toes. 'They're delicious!' you say, gnawing on some distal phalanges. 'I'll grow more!' 'Toes are great to eat!' Well, thank God I'm here with my great wisdom to set you straight."

Either that, or this section is just her way to justify to herself the existence of women who claim they're only having sex for fun--clearly all liars, since there is only one Woman and we are but her appendages, and Woman is ever-hungry for enagement rings to stuff down her chthonic maw.

5. You're Selfish.
[...] A good wife, even a halfway decent one, does not spend most of her day thinking about herself. She has too much s**t to do, especially after having kids. This is why you see a lot of celebrity women getting husbands after they adopt. The kids put the woman on notice: Bitch, hello! It's not all about you anymore! After a year or two of thinking about someone other than herself, suddenly, Brad Pitt or Harrison Ford comes along and decides to significantly other her. Which is also to say -- if what you really want is a baby, go get you one. Your husband will be along shortly. Motherhood has a way of weeding out the lotharios.

Don't you call me a bitch, bitch, especially not by way of my hypothetical nonexistent children. Is this even an article or do you just want a fight? I'll take you down.

If marriage and kids require the complete ablation of the self, I'm more confused than ever why I would even want these. Wait... if it doesn't matter what I want, how can I want marriage or kids? This is like those Internet Submissives who claim they're so submissive they won't admit to deciding to be submissive.

6. You're Not Good Enough.
Oh, I don't think that. You do. [...]Here is what you need to know: You are enough right this minute. Period. Not understanding this is a major obstacle to getting married, since women who don't know their own worth make terrible wives. Why? You can fake it for a while, but ultimately you won't love your spouse any better than you love yourself. Smart men know this.

How fucking heartwarming. Articles like this always try to go heartwarming in the homestretch after being reprehensible the entire rest of the time. Except in this case, the contradiction with the rest of the article is a little more blunt than usual.

Wait... I'm good enough right now, but I don't believe that, and not believing that means that I'm not good enough!

The bottom line is that marriage is just a long-term opportunity to practice loving someone even when they don't deserve it. Because most of the time, your messy, farting, macaroni-and-cheese eating man will not be doing what you want him to.
No. I'm no marriage expert, but I think marriage is a long-term opportunity to practice loving someone when they deserve it. Just because someone farts or eats mac and cheese (huh?) doesn't mean they don't deserve love. But if they don't deserve it in other ways, that's not a marriage, that's volunteer social work. This whole article seems to be setting up marriage as something that has shit-all to offer women, but that they should want because... because... you better shut up, men don't like women who take things to their logical conclusions!

But as you give him love anyway -- because you have made up your mind to transform yourself into a person who is practicing being kind, deep, virtuous, truthful, giving, and most of all, accepting of your own dear self -- you will find that you will experience the very thing you wanted all along:

Yeah, well, if I wanted to pour all my love into a totally indifferent lump just to get the experience of loving something, I woulda gotten a Pet Rock.

The funny thing is, for all the disrespect this article shows to women--you're nothing without a man, but you're kinda nothing with him too--it's even harsher on men. Women are mostly stupid and their only hope in life is an upgrade from miserable spinster to martyr wife, but men are beyond hope. Men's lumpen, selfish, macaroni-smeared nature is taken for granted, then framed as something women have to accomodate, not hold them accountable for. It's an insult that lets them off the hook, but it's a pretty grave insult nonetheless.

This article also stands as an illustration of the nasty devolution that the "traditional marriage" paradigm seems to have suffered. It's supposed to be "she keeps house and raises children and is sweet and sexy, he supports and leads the family"--which is a lousy deal to be locked into, but at least it's a deal. But too often it seems to have mutated into "she keeps house and raises children and is sweet and sexy, he... keeps her around." I'm no fan of traditional masculinity, but traditional femininity in a vacuum, washing the dishes not of a patriarch but of a clueless macaroni-eater, is even sadder.

If I lived in that world, I'd say that the reason I'm not married is because men aren't worth my time. But I don't. I live in a world where men are people and some of them are pretty awesome. The reason I'm not married is simply that I'm happy unmarried, and while I guess I could be happy married too, ain't exactly any rush.