Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Polyamorous Heart.

[Guest post by Rowdy]

One of the typical assumptions about monogamy is that the heart is a defined quantity, to love more than one person is to divide it, to find a new love is to push the last completely out, and each person it's given to gets the same thing.

That’s never felt true for me, the way I experience love. When describing my heart, I’ve found this metaphor works pretty well:

I like to think of my polyamorous heart as a house with many rooms. It’s constructed by the people I love, and filled with warmth and memories. It grows as each person I love adds something to my house, maybe a decoration or boardgame, maybe an entire new room.

Many people enter my heart, friends and strangers, and hang around in the common spaces... sometimes just a short while, and sometimes much longer. They wear down the floors and scuff the walls, they throw parties and help me fix the place up.

Each new romantic love builds their own room, an addition onto my house. We work on it together and it grows over time, a special place filled with emotions, experiences, and memories. There is always space to add another room, and build additions onto the rooms already built - it only takes time and energy, the material provided by our lives. No two rooms are alike, each one shaped by the person who built it.

Some of those people may leave my life, but the room they built in my heart stays, like the bedroom of a child moved off to college, a place of growth, accomplishments, and warm memories - saved just for that person who made it their home for a while. Some people leave their room nicely as a place for fond memories, others trash the room on their way out, but the place they built in my heart stays.

They may come by occasionally, or they may make their life in other hearts and never return, but there will always be a place of happiness that they built in my heart, a place they are always welcome to visit.

Sometimes my house is a loud party, sometimes it is lonely and quiet; there are parts of it I visit every day, and others I haven’t visited in ages.

This is my poly heart. A house built by the people who’ve lived there, filled with the warmth of life, love, and memories.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Women's horniness and the worm-in-mouth paradigm.

I am horny. Oh my god am I horny. I was horny driving home from work this morning to the point where I could barely hold it until I got home. Of course, I was horny at work this morning. I was horny before work last night, come to think of it. Then again, maybe it's just the time of the month. I've got my period now and that always makes me horny. Although right before my period I get kinda randy. And right after my period I'm so ready for sex. And in between periods of course there's a surge in my sex drive.

I think you get the picture. Everyone I've ever dated has really gotten the picture. I think I've said "no, not tonight, honey" about a tenth as often as I've said "oh alright, not tonight, honey."

Why does this matter? Because it gives me visceral proof that women can be horny. I know I'm off to one side of the bell curve, but I also know I'm not alone, and my experience of being a woman is one of being physically and emotionally ravenous for sex. Not dates, not cuddlewuddles (those are awesome, but they're separate desires), fucking.

It seems like a fact of life to me, but it puts a big ol' hole in a creepily common worldview, paraphrased thusly:
Women don't have any innate sex drive. Sex for them is kind of undignified and gross, like holding a worm in your mouth. Now, unless you're particularly squeamish, you can be convinced to hold a worm in your mouth. You'll do it for money or gifts. You'll do it if someone special says "darling, it would mean the world to me if you'd put this worm in your mouth... for me." You'll do it if you're insecure and all the cool kids have worms in their mouths. You'll do it if you're convinced that no man will ever love a woman who doesn't mouth worms. Hell, sometimes you'll do it just because you're not sure what you want out of life and putting a worm in your mouth seems like it's worth a shot.

But you will never, ever, in any of these situations, like the taste of the worm.

The implications of the worm-in-mouth paradigm range from the annoying:
Porn is for men; romance novels are for women.

To the horrifying:
If a woman doesn't want to have sex, that's no big deal, because women never actually want to have sex and they're used to coping with that. She's just holding out for better compensation.

How lesbians have sex is a mystery for the ages. (Usually it's resolved by either declaring them honorary men, or by conjecturing that they all suffer "lesbian bed death" and just "lie around and hug.")

There's this entire mess of social phenomena, from my ninth-grade health teacher telling me to "respect yourself more than that," to PUAs trying not to arouse women but to appeal to their insecurities, to "women need a reason to have sex; men just need a place," to the freaking bazillion people buying into the "being a rich man is like being a beautiful women" thing, that can be punctured with one simple and ridiculous phrase.

"I love worms."


The inspiration for all this (besides certain third-grade incidents) was being forwarded this article, from "Time" magazine: He Wants Sex, She Doesn't. Are Beads the Answer? I'm not doing a full fisk because some days I just don't have the energy for an extended session of Logical Fallacy Whack-A-Mole, but I'll hit the highlights. Such as "what the hell? BEADS?"

A fortieth birthday is a big deal that calls for a big present. How about 40 straight days of sex? That's the gift that Carolyn Evans bestowed upon her husband, Ray, in January 2009. Immediately, she regretted it.
“I woke up the next morning and thought, I will not survive this,” says Evans, 40, who ostensibly did not receive an identical gift on her milestone birthday.

I'm not sure what the "ostensibly" is doing there, because if this is her attitude toward sex, her husband better not pull that shit. That's like getting himself a present for her birthday.

But the "I will not survive this" is really bugging me. And it's not explored in the article; it's treated like a normal thing, like having sex every day would naturally be a hardship on a woman (and not on a man). I'm curious what she means by it, though. Is the sex physically painful for her? Is she too tired at the end of the day? Does she not experience pleasure during sex? Does she feel embarrassed or uncomfortable having sex? Does she not like her husband, or not desire him sexually? Is she ashamed of her body or her performance? Is her husband just really, really, really bad at it?

Because "ugh, sex, am I right, ladies?" isn't a normal thing. It's a sign of a specific problem, and I wish they'd dig into what that is. Or at least acknowledge that it could be a problem, instead of the inevitable, semi-humorous way of the world.

(From the author's mostly unenlightening blog: I became painfully aware of the fact that I don’t have the emotional stamina or bodily constitution [to] survive that much sex. I saw myself laid up in a hospital bed accepting antibiotics intravenously.
Holy crap, just how bad is her husband?)

“I was at a friend's shop and I complained to him. He said maybe a token system will work better.”
Reaching under the counter, her pal pulled out a dusty Mason jar housing a collection of Venetian glass beads. Forty beads, to be precise.
That's the title of Evans' new book, due out Tuesday. Part memoir, part treatise on why men like sex more than women, part instructional manual in her proprietary method that she credits with transforming a marriage on the rocks into a happily-ever-after, Forty Beads is relayed in a straight-up, slightly raunchy tone reminiscent of a giddy gathering of too-tipsy girlfriends.
The premise behind “beading” is simple: The woman keeps a bowl, a.k.a. beadcatcher, by her bedside. When her husband (or lover) is in the mood, he drops a bead into the beadcatcher. The woman has to be ready to slide between the sheets within 24 hours.

This friend and his charmingly rustic, handily planted jar (with the exact right number of beads!!!) are fictional. Let's get that out of the way right now. I'd feel more respected as a reader if she said aliens gave her the method.

So, hey, why do men like sex more than women? I'm kind of intrigued if there's a substance to that, if it goes beyond "well, duh, they totally just do." (Perhaps it's evolution--like how I evolved to get a mate and get my eggs fertilized--or anatomy--like how I can have more orgasms in a half hour than most men can have all week.)

But the really disturbing part, of course, is "has to be ready [...] within 24 hours." Has to. Ouch. Apparently the way to address an imbalance in sexual desire is to just go with whatever the man wants, and soften the blow by at least providing some advance warning.

Hey... when I want to fuck the ever-loving shit out of him, where's my little bead bowl?

Looking out for the best interests of its female readers, Healthland asked Evans whether a woman has any recourse should her man act like a total jerk; thankfully, Evans has a clause for bad behavior. “If a bead has been dropped and the husband exhibits real a—hole behavior — not just run-of-the-mill irritating behavior — he can get turtled,” says Evans, referring to a maneuver in which the disgruntled wife turns the beadcatcher over so beads roll off. “My husband got turtled once in a year."
I didn't check Urban Dictionary on this one, but I think my boyfriend got turtled last Saturday.

But why is it a matter of being an asshole or not? What about a matter of "darling, you're my schmoopy-boo and you've done nothing wrong, but Little Holly just ain't feelin' it?"

Well, continuing to say "but I put my token in the vending machine, and you better give me a good reason why I don't deserve sex or I'll lean you forward and shake your Skittles off the coil you'll be breaking the ruuuuules" after I explained this would be real asshole behavior. So I guess that's a self-correcting issue.

To be honest, I don't have a great solution for couples with mismatched libidos. (Well, I do, but "hey, you don't have to fuck just me" isn't the solution for everybody.) But I'm absolutely positive that "women just need to work out a cute little system for doing their wifely duty" isn't it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The [Unquestioned Assumptions] About Beauty.

God, "Psychology Today" is such a shitrag. Today, someone linked me to this article about beauty, and why it's only for women, and why women who think they have any value besides decoration are deluding themselves, and why any woman who isn't beautiful needs to get with the program already, and other novel and kind-hearted sentiments.

Also it's illustrated with (marginally NWS?) silhouettes of naked women, just to really class up the joint. Funny thing is, I can't really tell to whether the women are "beautiful" or not. They're just naked. If being pointlessly, even inappropriately sexual is beauty, then I can be beautiful too! Although I might get arrested.

There are certain practical realities of existence that most of us accept. If you want to catch a bear, you don't load the trap with a copy of Catch-22—not unless you rub it with a considerable quantity of raw hamburger. If you want to snag a fish, you can't just slap the water with your hand and yell, "Jump on my hook, already!"
The article kicks off with two of my favorite argumentative fallacies:

The Fallacy Of That's Just Life: "What do you mean, you have pneumonia and you want antibiotics? Listen up, sometimes you just have to cough and choke and wheeze, and that's just life. Suck it up, grow the hell up, and deal. Life's not fair, and sometimes life hands you infections. God, stop acting like problems can be solved."

This fallacy is excellent for dismissing any kind of social injustice whatsoever, or for that matter, any kind of statement whatsoever. There is absolutely no observation, no matter how banal or penetrating, that cannot be handwaved away with "whatever, that's just life." Thanks a lot for that insight, champ. Everything's life... and life can change.

The Fallacy Of The Completely Batshit Analogy: "If you want to change your clothes, you don't eat an entire bucket of red paint. So don't expect to start your car by turning the key!"

This fallacy is excellent for creating the outward appearance of a rhetorical point, but be aware that this appearance is only 0.013 microns deep, and even light fingernail scratches may completely rupture it. For example, it turns out that men are not bears or fish (well, some of them are bears, but bear with me here) and that beauty is not hamburger or nightcrawlers. Also, a dead man in a trap in my apartment would be both legally inconvenient and sexually useless.

Yet, if you're a woman who wants to land a man, there's this notion that you should be able to go around looking like Ernest Borgnine: If you're "beautiful on the inside," that's all that should count.
Fun fact: Ernest Borgnine is married. It's almost like he has something interesting or appealing about him besides his decorative value! Oh, but wait, he has a penis, so all the rules are completely different for whatever reason.

Also, if you look like Ernest Borgnine--if you literally look like him, rather than just looking like an average woman who's a bit slovenly and a bit overweight, which I'm sure is what the writer means here and is expressing in the most schoolyard-bully terms possible--ain't no beauty regimen in the world gonna change that, so you're not "going around" that way, you're stuck with it, and for the writer to rub it in that you can't possibly deserve love is just a pointlessly assholish move.

Welcome to Uglytopia—the world reimagined as a place where it's the content of a woman's character, not her pushup bra, that puts her on the cover of Maxim.
Yeah, yeah, I get that, I'm a hilarious strawman for hallucinating that anyone cares about about the character of a person woman. But I'm still hoping for a world where it's the content of a woman's character that puts her on the cover of "Time" or "Newsweek."

While we wish things were different, we'd best accept the ugly reality: No man will turn his head to ogle a woman because she looks like the type to buy a turkey sandwich for a homeless man or read to the blind.
That's fine, because I don't actually get much out of being ogled except creeped the fuck out. Ogling so rarely leads to a healthy long-term partnership.

I used to give sandwiches to homeless people every day. I worked at McDonald's as a teenager and I'd bag up my employee meals and give them to the local street people. And you know, it didn't get me laid. It got homeless people fed. Forgive me if I'm going off topic here, but there are things in life that can be important and valuable regardless of whether they get a dick stuffed in you or not.

The features men evolved to go for in women—youth, clear skin, a symmetrical face and body, feminine facial features, an hourglass figure—are those indicating that a woman would be a healthy, fertile candidate to pass on a man's genes.
This again. I've never been convinced that these actually have anything to do with health and fertility beyond not having gross malformations, but what I'm noticing this time is how this doesn't even begin to cover the modern beauty standard. Try being a young hourglassy etc. woman who doesn't wear makeup, doesn't shave her legs, cuts her hair short, wears cargo pants and is overweight, and you'll... probably meet guys who are into that, actually, but that's not my point. You're not going to get a lot of credit from society at large for being "objectively beautiful" just because you look healthy.

And while Western women do struggle to be slim, the truth is, women in all cultures eat (or don't) to appeal to "the male gaze."
Well... yeah. Unfortunately. I guess the thesis of this article is "the concept of beauty exists, therefore it must be right."

Men's looks matter to heterosexual women only somewhat. Most women prefer men who are taller than they are, with symmetrical features (a sign that a potential partner is healthy and parasite-free). But, women across cultures are intent on finding male partners with high status, power, and access to resources—which means a really short guy can add maybe a foot to his height with a private jet.
No he can't. An unattractive guy can get more chicks with a private jet, but the chicks are thinking "if I marry him I can quit my job and I'll never be hungry again, and he's not that bad," not "my vagina is responding directly to his wealth and I am so wet." And should a single woman ever acquire a private jet (they're letting us own property these days), I have a sneaking suspicion she'll suddenly have quite a few guys willing to overlook minor asymmetries.

An unattractive guy without a private jet can also take the here-unmentioned option of being an interesting and likeable person. Appearance and "status" aren't the only two dimensions of a human being.

Yet, while feminist journalists deforest North America publishing articles urging women to bow out of the beauty arms race and "Learn to love that woman in the mirror!", nobody gets into the ridiculous position of advising men to "Learn to love that unemployed guy sprawled on the couch!"
That's because it's not the same thing. Beauty isn't the female money. Money is the female money.

But you don't help that woman by advising her, "No need to wax that lip fringe or work off that beer belly!" (Because the road to female empowerment is...looking just like a hairy old man?)
The road to female empowerment is looking just like a hairy old woman, if that's what you look like. And still having some damn power.

The more attractive the woman is, the wider her pool of romantic partners and range of opportunities in her work and day-to-day life. We all know this, and numerous studies confirm it—it's just heresy to say so.
It's not that we don't want to acknowledge reality. It's just that we don't want to settle for the current reality, not when it's balls-terrible. (Particularly the "work and day-to-day life" bit.) The fact that discrimination exists doesn't justify discrimination.

I'm particularly bothered that the author isn't bothered that this is almost entirely a problem for women. Apparently the immutable, undeniable, writ-in-our-genes-for-eternity "power of beauty" just goes away completely if you have a wiener.

We consider it admirable when people strive to better themselves intellectually; we don't say, "Hey, you weren't born a genius, so why ever bother reading a book?" Why should we treat physical appearance any differently?
Because knowledge is useful. Being someone who's read a ton of books actually isn't particularly desirable, but being someone who's read a ton of books and synthesized the knowledge into a new theory or invention is. Whereas you make yourself "beautiful" (by the standards of the editors of "Maxim" magazine circa early 2011, I'm guessing) and then... you stand around being all beautiful and stuff. Whoooo.

At one end of the spectrum are the "Love me as I am!" types, like the woman who asked me why she was having such a terrible time meeting men...while dressed in a way that advertised not "I want a boyfriend" but "I'm just the girl to clean out your sewer line!"
Is there a way to dress that advertises "I want a boyfriend"? Seriously now. I want diagrams.

Me, I kind of like dressing in the way that advertises "I want a boyfriend, but only if I can have one who will let me 'get away' with dressing in a comfortable and practical manner, the way he takes for granted when it comes to himself."

At the other extreme are women who go around resembling porn-ready painted dolls. Note to the menopausal painted doll: Troweled on makeup doesn't make you look younger; it makes you look like an aging drag queen.
Oh, ouch. The whole article up to this point was about "ladies, you only exist so you can conform to the beauty standard and you shouldn't expect anything out of life if you don't," and then there's this sudden swing to making fun of women who believed this and tried too hard. Apparently if I wasn't considerate enough to be born a supermodel and stay one my entire life, I should just... just... just fuck off, I guess, because the author's attitude here to people who don't look good even after doing the "beauty" stuff seems to be that we're so subhuman as to be unworthy of consideration.

French women, too, buy into the idea that there's some fountain of youth at the Clarins counter. But, perhaps because feminism never seeped into mainstream culture in France like it did here, they generally have a healthier and more realistic relationship with beauty, accepting it as the conduit to love, sex, relationships, and increased opportunities. They take pleasure in cultivating their appearance, and in accentuating their physical differences from men. They don't give up on looking after their looks as they age, nor do they tart themselves up like sexy schoolgirls at 50. They simply take pride in their appearance and try to look like sensual, older women.
I'm not French or a Franceologist here, so I'm just putting this up in case I have any French readers--madames et mademoiselles, is France in fact the land of universal beauty, where all women have found perfect happiness through perfect femininity?

And if so, what do you do with the women who were just born funny-lookin' and don't have anything to "cultivate"? Do you ship them all to Belgium?

To understand what it takes to be beautiful, we need to be very clear about what being beautiful means—being sexually appealing to men. And then, instead of snarling that male sexuality is evil, we need to accept that it's just different—far more visually-driven than female sexuality.
I don't think male sexuality is evil. (I think it's kind of awesome sometimes.) It's just not my problem.

Most of my life, I'm not trying to get laid. I'm going to work, shopping, walking around my neighborhood, hanging out with friends, whatever. If beauty is all about giving dudes wood, I don't see why I should be beautiful at those times.

And while wood has its place in dating and sexual attraction, if someone tells me that I can't be hired or taken seriously or treated decently because I don't give him wood, he's an asshole. Male sexuality isn't evil; but believing that male sexuality should be catered to in nonsexual situations or determines someone's human worth is evil.

There seems to be a huge conflation in this article (and, unfortunately, in a lot of other places) between "you should be be beautiful to get a man" and "you should be beautiful all the time and everywhere, just because." The first is sort of true, with the caveat that men's preferences differ considerably and their attraction isn't purely physical. The second is complete sexist bullshit.

So, ladies, read lots of books, develop your mind and your character, exercise the rights the heroes of the women's movement fought for us to have, and strive to become somebody who makes a difference in the world. And, pssst...while you're doing all of that, don't forget to wear lipgloss.
But if I do forget to wear lipgloss, pssst... don't forget about my mind and character and rights and striving to make a difference in the world.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Cosmo tells me not to "bark orders like a drill sergeant," ("DROP AND GIVE ME FIFTY THRUSTS! HOOAHH!"), but I think one of the hottest kinds of sex is the kind where one partner knows exactly what they want, to the half-inch and half-second, and is able to tell the other person in real-time.

I'm not talking about "I want you to put your finger in my ass," here. I'm talking about "I want you to put your finger just a little in my ass and let me relax... okay, now a little further, okay, add a little more lube and then push it in... oh yes that's good, bend it forward and rub my prostate but don't thrust and let me get used to it again..."

It's an interesting power dynamic, it's excellent communication, it's just plain fun on both sides, and there's something wonderful about just how in touch with your body you can become by doing it.

The hard part, even in a very supportive relationship, is giving yourself permission to do it. My default "script"--somewhat culturally learned, somewhat my own tendencies--is to basically play "hot and cold" with my sexual responses. I'll stop you if you do something unpleasant and I'll encourage you if you do something nice, but when it comes to what these nice things are, I tend to just take what I'm given. I worry that I'll ask for something my partner doesn't want to do, or that I don't even know what I want.

The truth is that my partner, if they're any good at all, wants to do most things that make me happy and is perfectly capable of giving an non-horrified "nah, not that" if they don't. And more deeply, the truth is that my body often does know what it wants, when I listen. My body is amazingly adept at knowing just exactly how its own pleasure works, when just a touch more stroking would be perfect or whether I need you to hold just right there don't you dare move, when pain will hurt and when pain will feel better than coming. The truth is that I have no problem at all knowing that the best things in the world are deep firm pressure in my pussy and big bruising bites on my shoulders. I just have trouble believing and saying it.

Cueing your partner through sex isn't something to do every time; it's too one-sided and frankly could get annoying if you always did it. But it's a wonderful exercise in saying--and in knowing--exactly what you want.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cosmocking: May '11! Part Three!

God help me I'm ending this.

Heels today are actually built like weapons. They're higher and thinner than they've ever been before. [...] We don't endorse violence, but if you find yourself in a scary situation, it is nice to know you could protect yourself. Self-defense expert Steve Kardian, who specializes in women's safety, says the ideal way to wield your heel is by gripping it right above the toe with the bottom pointed away from you.
So it's come to this, Cosmo. Telling women to defend themselves by using their high heels as weapons. This is the end of the road, isn't it. For some reason I can't stop thinking of the end of Apocalypse Now when Martin Sheen reaches the huge temple in the jungle with people in cages and dead bodies just lying around and realizes that this is it. Civilization has crumbled away and the degradation of humanity is complete.

Also, the caption is "Fashion victim just took on a new meaning." and that only makes it worse.

[Picture of a guy carrying a shoulder bag]
"Worse than a fanny pack. Haven't you heard? The man purse is way out."

I never really thought about this before, but it must be hard to carry things when you're a man. You've either got to fit it in your pockets or go straight to a backpack. If you want to carry a glasses case, a book, a water bottle, anything at that level--what do you do? Carry a briefcase everywhere? If we don't at least keep up our respect for the "messenger bag" and "satchel" as manly masculine grrr, there's going to be knapsacks and suitcases on every damn subway seat.

Or we could throw out all this nonsense and declare that everyone's allowed to carry their possessions however strikes them as practical, and next thing you know, men in skirts, mass hysteria, cats and dogs living together, which would be terrible because... well, cats and dogs just aren't supposed to live together, that's why.

Now I'll shut down your thought processes by laughing a lot and stressing my voice sarcastically when I talk about the very concept, because if I called it "wrong" you might argue, but if I call it "ridiculous" then I'll just call you "ridiculous" if you argue and who's going to bother to listen to a ridiculous person? Ha ha ha, man purses.

Most men aren't super-detail-oriented creatures--duh! So whether you want to make a lasting impression on a first date or just want your long-term beau to remember crucial facts (like that your sister's upcoming birthday party is a surprise!), mention them while wearing a rose-scented perfume.
Wow. See, I expect casual misandry from Cosmo, and I expect things that make so little sense that I frown and tilt my head like an eager-to-please dog who knows "sit" and "fetch" but was just ordered to "quorbazartie," but I've never seen them working in such perfect concert before.

This is the end... beautiful friend... this is the end... my only friend, the end...

Bikini Emergency Plan
I have a bikini emergency plan, in case I am ever emergently required to wear a bikini.

STEP ONE: Put on bikini.
STEP TWO: Walk around in bikini, lie in sun, swim, etc.

"Guys sometimes have a middle-of-the-night uncontrollable craving where we need pleasure right now. Well, that was when her legs became a closed vice, and I'd lie there until she woke up... but by then, the animalistic drive was gone."

Of our elaborate plans... the end
Of everything that stands... the end
No safety no surprise... the end
I'll never look into your eyes again

[palm trees go up in flames]

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My fake wedding fantasy.

Someday, I want to get pseudo-married. I've been dreaming of this for years (seriously). I have it all planned out. I'm a veritable pseudo-Bridezilla. Here's how it's going to go down:

For the ceremony, we're going to pseudo-elope. We're going to run away to Vegas for a long weekend, drink and gamble ourselves stupid, catch Penn & Teller and Zumanity (this isn't exactly part of the fantasy; it's just something I have to do if I'm in Vegas), and at about 3 AM we're going to stagger into the 24-hour Elvis quickie wedding place. And then we are not going to sign papers. We're just going to tell Reverend Presley that we'll pay him to go ahead and do up the whole ceremony, walk me down the aisle and stand us up at the altar and say the words, but not do anything legal.

It will be the happiest day of my life.

For the reception, we're going to do it formal and proper, sometime in my life when I have enough money to do it right. (So maybe not right after Vegas. Hell, maybe not with the same person. Doesn't really matter who my partner is for this as long as they're into it and understand my intent.) You know how people's first weddings are usually their most lavish and elaborate? That's what I want from my zeroth wedding. I'm going to pick colors and hire a planner for all those little details and rent out a banquet hall and get a caterer and a DJ and a photographer and invite all my friends and relatives and I am going to wear an absolutely ludicrous dress. We're going to have a gigantic formal party until late into the night and I'll obsess over every detail and it'll be an absolute blast.

Then comes the pseudo-wedding night. Oh baby. Here's one part we're not faking.

Although I'd like to do these things with someone I at least like, honestly, I don't care if we stay Together Forever or whatever. Maybe I'll do that someday with somebody, but that's a totally separate thing. And whether I ever make it legal with someone is probably going to have more to do with legal or financial practicality than with fairy-tale romance. But that doesn't mean I don't want to have that fairy-tale day every girl supposedly dreams of. I just want only that day.

I don't want a marriage. Just a wedding.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How to get into BDSM (the short version).

So many negative posts lately! This is what happens when I don't get laid for an entire week. (Yes, yes, world's tiniest violin. It's called the "hedonic treadmill," guys, I have to be fucked in the manner to which I have become accustomed!) So now I'm going to do something positive, and provide a resource.

A Very Brief Primer on Getting Started in the BDSM Community

Step 1: Are you interested in BDSM?
Well? Are ya? This is something you just have to answer for yourself. A lot of kinksters feel like they've always been fascinated by pain, capitivity, and/or servitude; some only gain an interest when they learn about BDSM as adults. Two things that are important to know here:

1) What kind of interest do you have in BDSM? BDSM is what you and your partner(s) make it, so never feel that you have to do it "correctly"--anything safe and consensual is correct. So suss out, maybe even write down, what parts of BDSM interest you and in what role or roles you see yourself. Do you want to experience physical pain, or give it? Do you want to experience humiliation, or give it? Do you want to serve others, or to be served? Do you have specific fantasies or fetishes you want to fulfill? This stuff is all a la carte, remember, and there's no reason you can't receive pain while being dominant or neutral, or want to command someone but not hurt them, or any of a zillion other combinations. And whether, when, and how you add sex to this mix is also a la carte.

While many of these desires will come from or change with your experiences in BDSM, and while "I don't know, I'd have to try it" is a legitimate answer to the questions above, it's a good idea to have at least a rough idea to begin with. The more you know about what you want, the better your kinky experiences will be.

2) If you just want "sex, but spicier," you are probably not kinky, or at least don't have a thorough understanding of what kink entails. There's nothing wrong with wanting to have sex with someone who wears tight black stuff and has a femme-fatale demeanor, but that's not really what the BDSM community is about. If that's all you want, you don't really need to get into BDSM at all, but simply try to get your vanilla partners to add that in.

Although kink and sex are often mixed, the kink community is not a swingers' or free-love community; there are more people here that will beat you but not fuck you than vice versa.

Step 2: The Internets.
Hands-down, the best site for BDSM socialization is Fetlife. It's not a dating site, and to this end it deliberately does not allow you to search for people along parameters like "submissive women under 30 in Boston." The point of Fetlife isn't to find individuals to hit up for play, but to find events in your locality and discussion groups about your interests. If you become a serious member of the BDSM community, kinky friends will be a far greater asset than partners--get people to talk with first, people to commit acts of sexual violence with second.

Kinky friends will teach you BDSM skills, tell you who's good people and who's not, tip you off to secret things that aren't talked about on the Internet, become your partners or help you find partners, and help you keep some goddamn perspective in our wacky mirror-world. They're a wonderful thing to have and will make your life in BDSM a million times more fun and real. You may crave partners, but you need friends.

Step 3: Your First Munch.
A munch is a public meeting of kinky folk where everyone just talks and socializes. These are easier to find in major metropolitan areas, of course, but there are some munches all over; check "events near me" in Fetlife. Dress in normal street clothes and don't expect any play. Do expect to be pleasantly surprised by the diversity, vivacity, openness, and "hey, these are just people"-ness of your local kink community. And while it's lovely to meet a partner at a munch, don't expect to, especially the first time out; as online, Objective Number One is to build up a strong support network of friends.

Once you start meeting people in person, remember that You Do Not Talk About Kink Club. BDSM is still illegal in a lot of places and frowned upon in most, and you don't know who's "out" to their friends and families, much less employers. Don't call people by their "scene names" outside kinky contexts (not only is yelling "Hey Mistress DarkFyre!" at someone on the street gauche, but yelling "Hey Jennifer!" can also cause her problems if the people she's with don't know her as Jennifer) and don't talk about who attends kinky events. Don't talk about where or when kinky events are, either. Careless words can absolutely devastate people and sometimes entire scenes.

Also, three notes on kink etiquette:
1) Don't touch people or their toys, even casually, without asking.
2) Call people by the names and pronouns they give you, even if they seem hopelessly silly.
3) Do not act submissive or dominant to someone unless you have negotiated this with them. (And don't let anyone do this to you.) You're all just people and all equals until you specifically agree to act otherwise.

Step 4: Actually Playing.
This part I can't cover in a quickie one-post guide, but I'll hit the highlights:

-Playing at a party, or with non-participating friends around, is much safer than playing one-on-one. This goes double if your play involves bondage. Use a lot of judgement and vetting before you let someone hurt you or tie you up when there's no one around who would hear you scream. (If you're a top, you're somewhat safer, but there are still untrustworthy or downright dangerous bottoms around, so it's still a good idea to have your first play experiences somewhere with witnesses.) If you are going to play with someone one-on-one, get your kinky friends' opinion on them first or make sure you know them damn well. Before the date, tell a kinky or sympathetic friend who you'll be with and where, and make sure your partner knows that your friend knows.

-Negotiate! That is, before you and your partner lay a finger on each other, sit down and talk about what it is that you propose to do to each other and what you absolutely mustn't do. No need to script the whole scene, but get an idea of what they're looking for--being hit? how hard? being given orders? to do what?--and of their limits. There is no "usual" and almost nothing "goes without saying."

-Always have a safeword. This is a word that stops everything dead. It's the emergency brake, the circuit breaker, the ejection seat. The instant someone uses it, you don't argue and you don't question; you immediately let them out of any bondage, stop any stimulation, drop your role, and just let them cool down. Sometimes that means cuddling them and sometimes it means not touching them, but either way, stay in cool-down mode until you've talked about exactly why they used it and whether they want to start again or call it a day.

Don't be afraid to use your safeword. It doesn't mean you're not strong enough or "real" enough or you're accusing them of doing something wrong. It just means that they're not a mindreader and didn't realize you were feeling bad about what was happening(physically or emotionally), and there's no reason you should tolerate feeling bad in a recreational activity. Relieve them of the need to mindread and tell them.

I like to use a "stoplight" safeword system--red is the true emergency brake, yellow means "ease up, but I'm not done" (I'll also use it to state my needs, as in "yellow, it's hard for me to breathe in this position"), and green means "this is awesome, don't you worry about me, keep on doing the awesome stuff."

Every bit of this goes for tops too.

-Experiment. Within the limits of safety and consensuality, never be afraid to break the mold of what play is "supposed" to look like. Sometimes it's one of you naked and cuffed to a St. Andrew's Cross being flogged; sometimes it's two clothed people on a sofa just using their bare hands. Sometimes it'll have you laughing your ass off, sometimes it'll have you fighting back, sometimes it'll have you in an altered state, sometimes it'll have you coming your brains out. It's all a la carte and you are not doing it wrong.

There's a lot more to say--there's whole books more to say--but I think that's a decent beginning.

The eternal contradiction.

"Women can get laid whenever they want. Their only job is deciding who they don't want to sleep with. Women don't even know what sexual scarcity is like."

"Men aren't attracted to women who don't have large breasts and small waists and symmetrical faces and no body hair and no blemishes and long hair and tasteful makeup and good dress sense and cheerful feminine personalities and correctly groomed toenails. Or if they're over 35."

I've never heard this explained. Although I suspect the answer--at least the honest one--is that "women" never included creatures like me and most of my friends in the first place.

(Also, the deeper you get in this shit, the harder it is to remember that gay people exist. Or any other kind of gender non-conformance. Really, the hardest thing to remember sometimes is that joy exists. That in the real world, sex is fun and love is wonderful, and both of them are often silly and sweet. That when I spend time with my boyfriend, it's not the culmination of an intense sexual power game, it's a chance to grill sausages and talk about robots and see his owl impression. [Owls, in our world, shake their heads rapidly from side to side and go "WHEEEE!" It's... complicated.] Reducing all this giddy humanity down to gender and sex and power isn't just wrong, it's incorrect.)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The 80% Conundrum.

One of the most dearly held yet utterly inexplicable tenets of the MRA/PUA/creepy-Internet-men-in-general complex is the following (paraphrased):

The top 20% of men are alphas, and can get a woman at the snap of a finger. The other 80% of men are either betas who almost never get laid and have to wheedle and connive to get the scraps that they get, or omegas who can't possibly get laid no matter what.

The hole that immediately becomes apparent in this thinking (well, the second one, after the "have you ever been to Earth?" hole) is: what about teh womenz?

That is, if 80% of men are near-celibate, what the hell are 80% of women doing on a Friday night? (Even if we assume Alphas sleep around so much that all women get laid, this still leaves them alone 80% of their time, at least.) If 80% of men are involuntarily celibate, does that mean 80% of women are voluntarily celibate? 80% of us could be getting laid and loved and are just like "eh, no thanks"?

The only way this works is if women don't have sex drives, if women are so picky that they'd rather be alone together than sleep with a guy who's only average, or if 80% of women are so hideous that even a man with years of frustration wouldn't want them. I'd say something about how this doesn't fit with my observations of reality, but really, my observations of reality are so many miles away, I feel like I'm explaining to a Martian that pigs aren't green and mice don't go woof.

My observations are that the majority of people are in couples, with moderate minorities either slutting it up or voluntarily celibate, and small minorities involuntarily celibate. And most of those for reasons that have a lot more to do with themselves (either in a "life circumstances" way or a "total creeper" way) than with their desired gender or with the "system."

I guess what most of these guys are saying is "I'm not getting laid and I see that other people are, so those other people must have some super magical unfair advantage." Well, sort of, but that advantage is a lot more common than you think, and has a lot less to do with "being a millionaire lawyer with perfect abs" and a lot more to do with "acting like women are people." As long as women are The Challenge, The Enemy, The Gatekeeper, The Quarry, or any other fucked-up-all-to-hell metaphor, you're going to keep having trouble with us.

If we're people, well... no more and no less trouble than any other kind of people, is all I can promise you.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cosmocking: May '11! Part Two!

(Programming note: I'm going to be out of town from today til Tuesday or Wednesday next week. I'm taking the netbook, but I never know how posting will or won't go.)

But right now it's just me and my wacky friend Cosmo. Oh Cosmo. Where were we?

Fortunately, a new batch of sexperts decided to break the CAT [Coital Alignment Technique] out of its time capsule. They had women who had never been able to climax during missionary put this method to work... and when they did, they experienced a 56 percent increase in orgasms after a mere three weeks.
Okay, that's still zero.

This magical sex position itself is basically missionary, but the guy sorta scoots up toward your head after penetration so his penis will be pointing... more uppier. It's something I've heard of independently from Cosmo and I'm not a good person to judge this since I can come from anything anyway, so I won't knock the idea itself. Just the math.

Spread [lube] onto his pubic-bone region so you get a tingly feeling every time he thrusts.
That's not "tingly." That's just "soggy."

Sweetie, Honey, Darling, and any other name that could be used interchangeably by his mom or an elderly waitress at a diner have no place in your relationship [...] "Not only are these terms anonymous, they're also genderless, and if you use them enough, you lose what makes your bond unique."
"Hi penis-Honey!"
"Oh hi! I missed you, vagina-Darling!"

There. Gendered and unique. Or you could just accept that these are English words denoting affection, and whether you like them or not is completely up to personal preference rather than universal unwritten rules.

So calling him Snuggle Bunny is akin to agreeing to an open-door bathroom policy: It's kinda comfortable, kinda gross... and the longer you do it, the harder it can be to feel like you want to rip each other's clothes off.
Do you close the door for poops? This is important. Pee ain't no thing, but if the bathroom directly adjoins the bedroom or kitchen, closing it for poops has nothing to do with intimacy or mystery.

But Cosmo is right about one thing: no one wants to have sex with someone who goes to the bathroom! Ewww. Next thing you know you'll be breathing in front of each other. There goes the romance. ("Romance" here is almost entirely equivalent to "not believing your partner is a person just like other people.")

It's fine if it's a little cheesy--like Stud or Loverboy--especially if it's busted out in the bedroom.
So calling someone "Honey" is out because it's too generic and belittling, but "Stud" is in. Cosmo, I... sometimes I can't do anything funnier than repeating back what you just said.

After a few weeks of this anytime move, your abs will look totally sick in your swimsuit.
Tummy Tightener: Sit with your butt 2 inches away from the back of the chair. Plant your feet on the floor, place your hands on your thighs, and lift your feet a few inches off the floor, keeping your stomach sucked in and your shoulders back. Hold for 5 seconds. Do 10 reps three times a day.

Wow, it's like one-eighth of a crunch! I mean, I guess it's not literally zero exercise, but I'm pretty sure "take your feet off the floor for a couple seconds!" isn't where six-packs come from.

Cosmo exercises are always ridiculously watered-down like this. I'm never sure if it's because they don't want their readers to hurt themselves, because dainty little ladies mustn't do hard manly exercises, or because you're supposed to just not eat and that'll solve everything. I think the last is a lot of it. Ladymag exercise tips always make me think "I could do fifty times that"; ladymag diet tips always make me think "oh my god I would start gnawing at my own flesh."

Any displays of excitement (or disappointment, for that matter) can confuse male coworkers. Since they have difficulty processing feelings and logic at the same time, they don't get that we're able to show both.
It's like the writer never met a man. Or read any work of fiction or nonfiction created by a man. Or gave any consideration to the idea that if the human brain was really that sexually dimorphic, dialogue between the sexes would be literally impossible. Or ever saw a man excited or disappointed. Or, like, lived on Earth.

And people say feminists are misandric.

The Habit: Buying a few happy-hour cocktails once a week.
The Cost: $936/year.
What You Could Have Bought: Six Kindles.

But I don't want six Kindles! The whole idea is you only need one! (Mine's named Ralph. Well, Ralph II, because a bad thing happened to the original Ralph. Anyway.)

Cosmo does this every month, deconstructing little spending habits that add up as if they were a terrible mistake instead of a simple allocation decision. Did you know, ladies, that instead of buying a lot of cheap things you could get a few expensive things? Did I just blow your little lady-minds?

And the idea of saving that $936, instead of buying something completely goofy with it, is definitely off the table. Maybe if more banks and investment brokerages bought ads in Cosmo...

Okay, I really have to hit the road now. But I'm not done, so that means there's going to be a Part Three! I'm so sorry.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Imaginary Feminism 101.

I was reading the blog Manboobz, which is fascinating in a sort of constantly infuriating way, and has, er, "lively" debate in most of the comments sections, and realized that there was a fundamental disconnect there between the Men's Rights types (MRA, Men's Rights Activists) and the feminists. The feminists were arguing in favor of feminism, but the Men's Rights fellas were arguing against Imaginary Feminism, or IF. And they were right to do so! This is a truly toxic movement! Let's explore IF in detail.

Imaginary Feminism is monolithic.
This is very important. Anything said by anyone calling themselves a feminist can be assumed to be true of anyone else calling themselves a feminist. Some random thing Andrea Dworkin said in 1973 is tattooed on all IF's chests backward so they can read it in the mirror. All IFs simultaneously subscribe to the beliefs of Valerie Solanas, Catharine McKinnon, Betty Dodson, Phyllis Schlafly, Twisty Faster, and that person who wrote those weird articles about Firefly. Or, I mean, all the beliefs you know about. Don't feel over-pressured to actually learn anything about these people.

If an IF tells you she does not hold a particular belief, there are two possibilities, and only two:
1. She's lying. She's got the SCUM Manifesto printed on her ceiling so it's the first thing she sees when she wakes up, and you know it.
2. She's not really a feminist at all! And she didn't know it, poor thing! She's been suckered! Pat her on the head for being "one of the good ones" and welcome her into the MRA fold.

Imaginary Feminism is playing a zero-sum game against men.
"Women's rights" are entirely obtained by reducing men's rights. For example, when women got the vote, men saw the value of their votes decrease by half! There's no justice in this world. And they want to push it further. The ultimate goal of IF is for women to have all of the rights and men to have none of the rights, and the only way to oppose them is to advocate the opposite. "Feminism helps men too" is a meaningless statement, because the very definition of feminism is opposition to men.

This can be applied to just about every issue, although you will have to sorta squint at times. For example, when IFs ask for reproductive rights, that's their way of evilly killing men's babies... or evilly bearing men's babies and then having the gall to want child support. Or when IFs ask to be protected from sexual harassment and assault, that's their way of setting up men for false accusations!

You may be noticing at this point that everything IFs do is really about men. This is correct. For example, when IFs set up women's shelters, they're doing that specifically to exclude men--the whole "sheltering women" thing is kind of a side effect. When IFs advocate for more representation of women in media and government, this really means less men. The actual impacts of these things on women are secondary.

IF has no real grievances.
Women got the vote in 1920, and since then, IF has been totally irrelevant. The truth is that our current society is totally ruled by women. For example, IFs claim that women earn less than men, but the truth is that men do all their work to support women--every woman has a supporting man and spends her spare time on the couch eating bon-bons. [What even is a bon-bon? Is it a chocolate thing? I've seriously never had one.] Or IFs claim that women are kept out of high-status professions, when really women just don't like being powerful or successful and don't choose those paths.

Worst of all, IFs claim that women are subject to harassment, intimidation, and violence, when a cursory glance at crime statistics will show you that men are also victims of violence. This makes violence against women okay, because as long as violence is something that happens to everyone, it's kind of a non-issue and we should all just suck it up. Plus, the fact that women sometimes abuse men proves that women are evil anyway.

Imaginary Feminism is virulently opposed to sex.
IFs hate porn because it's sexy. IFs hate sex work because it involves sex. IFs hate pick-up Game because it gets men laid. IFs hate women being sexy because, you know, sexy. IFs are sticklers about consensual sex because asking for consent is never sexy, and because they know that if men have to ask for consent they won't get laid. IFs favor a world of gray coveralls where women are never troubled by men's baser needs.

There are three possible explanations for this, which aren't contradictory in the slightest:
1. IFs are uggos who can't get laid, so they want to ruin the fun for everybody else.
2. IFs are actually very traditional ladies who want people to only have sex after making a major chocolate-and-diamonds commitment, and they're pissed that men are getting away with having casual sex.
3. IFs, like all women, have no sex drives of their own. But unlike other women, they don't understand that they're supposed to sell their sex to men for money or ego boosts or to award a particularly deserving man.

Imaginary Feminism is recklessly sexual.
Forget everything I just said. IF is all about letting sluts be sluts. IF believes that women should walk down the streets with their boobies out, fuck tons of men and run away without any consequences. IF just wants to enable hypergamy, which is women's desire to fuck successful, confident, and attractive men, which is horrible of women. So maybe it's most correct to say that IFs want to deprive nice decent guys of the sex they deserve, but bed-hop relentlessly between aggressive hyper-masculine Alpha Males. That's the real meaning of "sexual empowerment"--chasing their biological urge toward hypergamy.

IFs also want to tease men with their bodies, put themselves in compromising positions with men, and then get out of having sex. This doesn't accomplish any basic female goals, it's just funny.

IFs love to shame men into silence.
Any time an IF calls you a "sexist," "misogynist," "chauvinist," or anything along those lines, she is merely trying to shame you into silence, and you shouldn't fall for that old trick. In fact, the shaming language just got you out of listening to anything else in her argument! Anything an IF says is invalid in toto if she failed you to address you as "Gentle Scholar."

Particularly note the old IF trick of acting "angry." She does this to shut you up and intimidate you. Women never actually experience anger. Feel free to test this by needling and insulting her repeatedly, and watch how her facade of reasonable answers to your questions quickly crumbles as she gives in to acting "angry," an IF's last and basest resort.

Remember: if anything, ever, makes you feel bad about yourself and your actions, it's because people are evilly trying to make you feel bad! Don't fall for it.

Any time a man does something good or a woman does something bad, this disproves Imaginary Feminism.
Well, duh. The entire thesis of IF is "women are better than men... just better," so this is a direct contradiction.

IFs are just old-fashioned proper ladies at heart.
You know what an IF really wants? She wants a man to commit to her and take care of her, kill mastodons for her and give her lots of babies. She's just going about it all wrong.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cosmocking: May '11! Part One!

The new Cosmo is here! Blue cover! Hayley Williams! She looks vaguely "alternative-y" and against my better judgement I'm kind of charmed! But what's with the blatantly Photoshopped-on titties, seriously, this is being sold to straight women anyway, can't women ever just have a chest! "Call Him or Text: The New Rules!" There are no "rules" but the ones between the two of you; there isn't some Central Relationship Administration issuing these things! "This Sex Position Increases Female Orgasm by 56%!" I want to see the margin of error and p-value if you're gonna be that specific, Cosmo! "Look Sexy! Makeup That Flirts For You!" No thanks, I prefer to do my own flirting, because sometimes I don't wanna flirt with some people and the makeup wouldn't seem to allow for that!

Next, dust cheeks with pale pink blush and swipe a rosy gloss onto lips; blot to take down the shine (a semimatte finish is less girlie-girl).
I usually don't do the makeup and fashion sections, for the same reason that I don't review sailing magazines--I have no idea whatsoever about the subject matter. But this jumped out at me. Because if you really don't want to be "girlie-girl," couldn't you just, I dunno, use your skin? My skin is semimatte! And it even comes with pink cheeks! (I guess they're a little blotchy? Any guy who can't handle very slightly blotchy cheeks won't be able to handle a lot of things about me.)

A new survey found 74 percent of people search for their exes online. Here's why you do it...
65%: "I'm just curious."
16%: "Oh, I only look him up to confirm that letting me slip through his fingers ruined his life."
11%: "I want to make sure he's not dating someone hotter than me."
8%: "I need visual confirmation that he's fat and bald right now."

What's with the normalization of ex-hatred? I understand it if you broke up because he cheated or abused you or otherwise acted like an asshole (although then my preference is to never hear of him again, not to dig for schadenfruede), but what about breakups where you were in the wrong or it was just a "this isn't working" deal? It seems like Cosmo expects you to bitterly hate him then too. I don't want most of my exes to be bald or have ruined lives or be dating someone ugly (unless he, like, likes her)--I want them to be going on with their lives.

And it seems like ~65% of women feel the same way, but the survey wasn't set up to expect that. Apparently everyone doesn't hate their exes, but Cosmo really wants us to. It's some weird combination of "love doesn't count unless he's The One and it's for Forever" fairy-tale thinking and plain old "I am the center of the world" thinking. And it's being projected onto us despite actually not being a majority opinion.

"I'd made plans to go out with two guys one weekend and, in a ballsy move, decided to meet them the same time at the same restaurant to save time. I met one at 7:00 for drinks, and he headed out at 8:40 as I pretended to go to the bathroom before leaving. Then at 9:00, the second guy came to meet me for dinner. While we waited for our table at the bar, I felt like a badass... until, to my horror, the first guy returned to get the credit card he'd accidentally left there. He saw me with the other dude, stormed over, and told him everything. They both left in a huff.
That's not a True Confession. That's a scene from "Mrs. Doubtfire."

But really, this sounds like they were both first dates, and who expects to be exclusive before the first date? It's probably sort of gauche to let them actually run into each other (I wouldn't know; I live in a world so far from this bullshit that it's considered polite to introduce the people you're fucking to each other) but it's not some kind of terrible betrayal. Does love have to be Forever with The One before you've even had drinks?

"I Exposed a Boyfriend Stealer"
Okay, this is a really disturbing story. Cliff's Notes: the author is friends with a girl named Ali who comes to her sorority parties, gets sloppy drunk, and has drunk party sex with tons of guys, including other girls' boyfriends. But then the sorority sisters realize that Ali isn't really drinking that much, but is playing drunk to "excuse" having sex. So they serve her a cup of O'Doul's, and when she starts acting drunk, call her out, and, as people do in Cosmo stories, instead of going "what the fuck is wrong with you people," she slinks away in defeat and is never heard from again.
Ali wasn't drunk; she was just a skank.
Apparently it's okay to have sex drunk, but if you're sober, you're a filthy slut. Or it's even okay to sleep with other people's boyfriends drunk, but if you're sober, that makes it worse because... I guess because you were in control of your actions. So the idea of a woman having sex while not in control of her actions doesn't bother them? Or is it just the general idea that casual sex is never okay if you do it on purpose?

Also, the whole concept of guys being sentient beings who have some goddamn control over who they sleep with doesn't get a look in. A boyfriend who can be "stolen" by any girl who acts drunk and flirty wasn't exactly firmly committed to monogamy in the first place. And a boyfriend who's most interested by a girl who acts like she's so drunk she's not in control of herself is... kind of a rapist. Wouldn't want to lose that catch!

Q: What's the It nail shape right now?
A: The squoval

Oh Cosmo. Sometimes I think you're glossing over the widespread acceptance of campus rape, and sometimes... I just want to ruffle your hair and buy you a lollipop.

HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS MY WORK IS IN COSMO. HOLY SHIT I AM NOT EVEN KIDDING. There's a still of Cory Monteith in a movie I worked on, and he's working on a painting that I FUCKING PAINTED! Holy shit, y'all. That makes me famous now, right?

(Yes, I know this makes my real identity fairly easy to suss out. Do me a favor and don't be weird about it? I'm not Clark Kent here, I'm just trying to not show up on the first page of a casual Googling of my real name.)

75 Sex Moves His Ex Didn't Do
This title is incomplete. The full title should read, "75 Sex Moves His Ex Didn't Do And He Didn't Ask For." They're all things like:
"She didn't play with my nipples. They're sensitive, and I like it when a woman flicks them with her tongue."
In the entire length of the relationship, did he mention this? In most of the cases, it sounds like he didn't. Which is:

A) Just weird to me, because after a few months I know my partners' sexual preferences the way I know what they do at work and what kind of beer they drink--it's just something that comes up in a relationship.

B) Part of Cosmo's eternal Romance of Silence thing. Apparently if you ask for a sex act, then it doesn't "count" or something, because it's only sex if it just magically happens? That's the closest I can get to making sense of this.

Also, there's this. You're eighteen, Esteban. The photo kinda hammers home that you're still a boy. Chill the fuck out and learn to enjoy the sex you're having. Or come up with your own goddamn positions! What's with this "I resent her for not doing things I couldn't even think of" bullshit? That's the sort of thing that's awesome when a partner does it, but it's not their job, and particularly not when said partner is a high-schooler, for fuck's sake.

It's really creepy to think that there's this kind of pressure on high school girls, not just to put out (putting out is awesome when you do it because you're horny and you want to, but that's not the kind of pressure I'm talking about here), but to put out like porno superstars when they've barely lost their baby teeth. Not only is it plain old creepy, but it gives them no room to develop their own sexuality--if you're being pushed to always be a Mega Hottie Porn-Star-Experience Fuck, you don't have a lot of freedom to find out how you actually like to fuck.

That's all I can take right now. But I always stick it out to the bitter end (and accompanying weird phone-psychic and herbal-breast-enlargement ads), don't I? More later.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

On Eating Our Own.

Here's something I'm still conflicted about: finding a statement that is basically feminist, basically accepting, but has some flaws, and tearing it to fucking shreds. It's the old problem of "homophobia is retarded"; do you say "hell yes, thank you for accepting gay people," or do you say "do you have some kind of fucking problem with mental disabilities or have you just never considered you're insulting real people there?" The second is more fair, more correct. But it also runs the risk of making someone who's just starting to come around to your side decide that your side is a bunch of unpleasable Language Police who derive more joy from proving others wrong than from actually doing anything right.

I'm honestly torn on "homophobia is retarded." I have the feeling that I "should" come out against it, but I think it depends on context. If the person saying it is pretty new to the idea of not being homophobic, and if they're using "retarded" thoughtlessly and without intended malice, I'd really let it slide, or be very gentle in correcting them. I'd rather have an imperfect ally. On the other hand, if someone is an established ally and is just throwing words around, then it is the time to call them out on "hey, that language really isn't okay."

And then again, I'm sorry, but there really are people who are do spend all their time eating their own, who never found a statement so open-minded that they couldn't call it "TOTAL FUCKING BULLSHIT" for not being open-minded enough. There's an example here. I like the comic. I think it's sweet and funny and so gay. It's envisioning a better world. And then in the comments underneath it gets ripped apart as "shitty and cissexist" with "so many fucking problems."

I don't prioritize gay rights over trans rights. But I prioritize rights movements over the endless internal criticism of those movements. Sometimes that criticism is right and necessary (as when feminist movements veer toward being Rich White Straight Ladies' Liberation), but it should never eat the movement. Progress should not be abandoned in favor of perfection. SMBC is a comic with a wide audience and probably quite a few of them do say "that's so gay." Getting them to think about that literally is a really good thing. If it could be done in a way that included some more permutations of "gay," I guess that would be better, but this isn't bad.

If someone is 98% on your side, you know what? Cut them some slack. Otherwise you might have to actually deal with the people who aren't on your side at all. They're a whole lot meaner.

Multiplicity and the feeling of opening your mind.

A multiple system, or one of its members (apologies because I will fuck up terminology here) commented on my last post about how often they face the "well, you're different, there's yer problem" attitude themselves. And it made me realize, this was one of those things I'd pretty much been skating with the prevailing wisdom on--"oh come on, you're crazy or a liar." And this was the first time I thought to question that. Here's the process I went through:

What have I heard from other people about this?
In Abnormal Psychology, we covered "Dissociative Identity Disorder" very briefly. The professor told us that it was a very strange phenomenon occurring very rarely after extremely severe trauma, and that any cases we encountered clinically were likely being faked for attention. (Doing something "for attention" is the worst in psychology. Yes, it's often disruptive or annoying when someone is "LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME" all the time, but some degree of attention is a legitimate need and a lot of people in psych treatment settings are freaking starved for anything more than "that's nice, now sit down and shut up.") And, of course, we should all be on guard for the personality that's an evil murderer, because there's always one of those.

Then again, Abnormal Psych also classified sexual sadism and masochism as terrible disorders in need of curing. Admittedly there's a little addendum about "if it is causing distress or impairment", but there wasn't any discussion whatsoever about how S/m without distress or impairment is a normal variation.

In addition, I'd run into some Internet Common Wisdom that pretending to be multiple is up there with pretending to be a dragon, as far as excessively imaginative people exaggerating their differences in order to be a Special Snowflake goes. (Being a Special Snowflake is the worst, because as in the psych hospital, it would be so much more convenient for me if everyone but me would accept their place as an out-of-focus background character in my story.)

What do people actually in this group say about themselves?
I followed the link in the comments and found--well, instead of filtering this through my own reading of it, I'll just link you directly to these FAQs about multiplicity: Ok Questions, Rude Questions.

Why do I feel differently about this?
If someone tells me that his name is Jeff and he's a man, but I can totally see he's got breasts, I don't tell him that he's "really" a woman, and if he disagrees he must have a disorder or just be some kind of attention-grubbing Special Fucking Snowflake. Or if someone tells me that his name is Jeff and he's a man and he's dating another man, I don't tell him that he's "really" attracted to women, and anything else is a mistake he made. Or, for that matter, if someone tells me that her name is Jess and she's a woman and she's working in a technical job and not having children, I sure as hell don't tell her what "real women" do with their lives.

In short, I don't prioritize my cognitive bias for having people live exactly the way they "look" over those people's rights to live their lives.

So why is this different? Why do I feel an urge to tell these people that they're "really" one person, because only one person can "really" exist in a brain? Honestly, I haven't got an answer beyond sheer familiarity. I'm used to only knowing one person per brain, and I feel like I've only got one in mine. But I'm far enough beyond infancy that "I'm not used to you, so you can't be real!" really shouldn't be a part of my worldview.

What's the worst that could happen?
The worst that could happen if I stick with the psych professor and Internet asshole's viewpoint, and go "ah hah, this person is either super crazy or just making shit up," is that I deny the existence of entire people. If it's upsetting for me to be told that some parts of my identity aren't real or healthy (fun fact: a woman who dates men can't possibly "really" be bi!), how much more would it suck to be told that I literally didn't exist? And while I'm thinking "crazy or liar," I can't treat multiple people with any kind of understanding or decency or even politeness, online or in the real world.

The worst that could happen if I accept people's own self-definitions of their minds and their lives, trusting that they know themselves better than some Internet stranger who took a psychology class? Well, I could be wrong. I could be getting suckered. And then what? I'd look a little silly. I'd be using the "wrong" pronouns and names, oh no. No one would be really harmed or discriminated against. All that's really on the line is my ego.

It's not all about a cold "well, what's the harm?" balancing, of course. Fundamentally, I do believe that people know themselves, at least better than any pompous outsider proposing to tell them who they really are inside. But it helps to keep in mind that believing someone about their identity, and being wrong, is not nearly as bad as the reverse.

So that's my journey, in one particular instance, from prejudice to at least trying to accept a class of people different from myself. I don't expect a cookie, but I do hope to provide a template. Mostly for the next time someone's identity makes me go "aw c'mon, you're not really that."

Friday, April 8, 2011

Model minority.

One of the subtler nastinesses about having an "alternative" lifestyle is the fear of revealing any personal conflict or angst to any "normal" people, even the nominally friendly ones, for fear that the answer will always be "See, this proves your whole lifestyle is flawed!"

If I'm arguing with my boyfriend, he's being a jerk or you two just need to work this out. If I'm arguing with my poly boyfriend, well, sounds like this poly thing just doesn't work in the long term, huh?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Too tired for a real post.

Sorry I've been quiet the last few days. The last week of work seems determined to see me out with a proper "YOU FUCKING BITCH I WANT SOME FUCKING VICODIN RIGHT NOW OR I'M GOING TO PUNCH YOU AND THEN SUE YOU." Work, sleep, wake up, wonder why I'm lying in the driveway, go inside to my bed, sleep, work.

Tomorrow is my last day. After that, I have no excuse not to write on-topic posts. But right now I've got a great excuse! So instead of a proper Pervocracy post, here's a scene from "The Zombie Cure."

It was a warm night after a cold rain, and in the beams of the floodlights, the ground was steaming. Gary Cantrell, twenty-nine, pale, lanky, sweating like a horse, crouched in the darkness and waited. A pump-action riot shotgun was slung over his shoulder. He didn't want to use it. But he was glad as hell to have it there. He reached back and touched it, silently comforted.

The trap was a crab-pot design in hurricane fence--a broad funnel going into the corral, a narrow gate coming out. Gary held one side of that gate. Shealyn, only a few feet away but nearly out of sight in the blackness, pulled on her leather gloves and took hold of the other side. "We're ready," she whispered under her breath, and Bee stepped out under the floodlights, into the maw of the trap.

"COME ON YOU ZOMBIE MOTHERFUCKERS," she bellowed. "WHO MOTHERFUCKING WANTS SOME?" Bravado. The words didn't matter anyway; all the zombies knew was the sound of a human voice. The dinner bell.

For too long there was no sound. Gary shifted his weight uncomfortably. He didn't like hearing the mindless groaning of the unholy dead. But God, it was better than nothing. He wished he could see the moon, or some stars. Except for the pool of light on Bee and the trap, the blackness was absolute.

"I'VE GOT SOME NICE JUICY MOTHERFUCKING BRAINS!" Bee yelled. Gary realized that she had been a good girl before, a quiet smiley girl who never really learned how to swear. But they were all pretending to be tough guys these days. Hell, every time he used that damn shotgun he acted like his ears didn't hurt and he didn't want to puke even a little bit. "HEY YOU MOTHERFUCKING ZOMBIES, YOU GONNA SHOW UP OR YOU GONNA FUCK YOUR MOTHERS ALL NIGHT?"

Then the sounds finally, finally came. But instead of the usual moans and shuffling footsteps, it was the quick pitter-pat of running feet. Human feet. And what ran into the light was not a shambling mound of rotten flesh. It was a woman. She was crying.

"My baby," the woman said. She was tall and still looked strong, but bone-thin and filthy. Gary had been in worse shape himself when he came to the Fortress. The woman ran up to Bee, nearly screamed "my baby," and collected herself. "My daughter. Ellen. She's six. We had a safe place. But she went out and she. They. ...She got bitten."

Without a second's hesitation, Bee hugged the woman. "You're safe here," she said. But Gary and Shealyn stayed where they were, silent, in the dark, with shells chambered. "We have a good place here. There's food, and beds, and a doctor will see you. It's going to be okay."

"But my baby."

"It's going to be okay," Bee said again, but hollowly.

"No, you don't understand," the woman said. "She's here."

Then Gary heard it. The familiar groaning, but quiet and higher pitched, coming from a smaller throat. The mindless shuffle of little feet. And into the light stumbled cute little Ellen. Her eyes lolled crazily in their sockets. Blood was smeared across her face and her teeth were bared like an animal's. She looked dully at her mother and Bee, looked right through them and held out her arms, grasping at them.

Bee and the woman ran to the back of the corral and Bee shoved the woman over the back fence, boosting her up and letting her fall on the ground outside. Then she turned to face the little girl. Slavering, the girl grabbed Bee's jacket, but Bee was already in a fighting stance. Without even changing her expression she braced herself and flipped the girl over her hip. Fifty pounds of tiny zombie hit the dirt with a very small thump. "Let's do this like usual, folks," Bee said, and that was the cue.

Gary and Shealyn slammed the gate shut and vaulted themselves into the corral. The zombie righted herself and snarled. Gary realized that her hair was still in pigtails, tied with little pink beads on the elastic. Bee made a little clicking sound, almost smiled, and they moved as a team. Shealyn grabbed the girl's right arm. Gary grabbed her left. Bee pulled her legs out from under her and the four of them went to the ground.

Little Ellen's head rolled crazily and she snapped and gnashed her teeth. She clawed and thrashed with the strength of the undead, the strength of a creature that knows no pain. It took everything Gary had, both hands and a knee and all the blind stupid courage he had in him, just to hold one of her arms as it became wild and clawed. If the fight went on she would literally tear herself apart.

With the practiced moves of a woman who had done it a hundred times and still not learned to swear properly, Bee released the girl's legs from her hands and in an instant trapped them again under her knees. She pulled a syringe from her back pocket, yanked the cap off with her teeth and spit it aside, and darted it into the girl's buttock, right through her pants. Bee jammed the plunger down fast and had the needle out before the girl's struggling could break it off. "Okay," she said when it was done, and the three of them released the zombie and ran for the fence. They were over it before the zombie could regain her feet.

Then it was just a matter of waiting. And of telling the mother that it was just a matter of waiting. The girl snarled and paced in the corral, clawing uselessly at the fencing. In a few minutes she slowed, then crumpled to the ground, seemingly asleep but for the lack of breathing.

It took a moment. Not seconds but minutes. Then the little girl's chest heaved, once. The mother put her hand to her mouth. Another long moment, thirty seconds, or twenty. Another breath. And then another. And then the girl's eyes were open, not blank and wild but bright and clear. Shakily, she sat up.

This was why they built the trap. This was why they left the safety of the Fortress to come out there every night and bait it with their own bodies. It was times like this, watching the little girl be a little girl again, watching her get up and walk, unsteady but alive and human, so beautifully human in her every movement, and run over to reach out to her mother through the fence. Her hands, now that they were no longer claws, were so tiny. Her mother grasped them and kissed them.

"Mommy?" little Ellen said. "Why are you crying, Mommy?"

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Positive TV!

(In which the author makes a precipitous descent into pure hippiedom.)

Ozymandias left the following comment on my last post, and it really got me thinking:
I occasionally have daydreams of running a major TV network and creating a show called the Compliment Show.

The Compliment Show would impersonate one of those you-suck-fix-yourself shows-- the ones with the British nannies, or the your-fashion-sucks shows. They would film your life, your wardrobe, your kids, whatever, and then they would say:

"Your style is individual, yet attractive! Good job!"
"Your kids are perfectly normal for their ages. In fact, your daughter is very intelligent, and your son has such artistic skill. We're impressed."
"In general, you are a good person, and there is nothing at all wrong with you."

It would probably get cancelled very quickly.

I want to envision an entire Positive TV channel. Here's some of the shows I've come up with:

Political Collaboration Hour - Pundits from across the political spectrum discuss: which laws and candidates would benefit the country more, and how can we help more people be safer and happier? The host, whose catchphrase is "Now let's look for the common ground!" encourages the pundits to find the fundamental principles they agree on even if they believe in applying them in different ways.

Survivors - Each week, the teams must cooperate to complete an island-survival-themed challenge together. No one gets voted off, because it's important that the teams learn to work with the people they have, who are all useful in some way. At the end everyone is nicely compensated for appearing on the show. The entertainment comes from watching the lengths they have to go to and the ingenuity they apply in attacking the challenges.

Bob Loves Luisa - In this hilarious family sitcom, the husband and wife genuinely understand and want to work with each other. One of their children is very intelligent and the other is very creative, and Bob and Luisa encourage them both to do what they love! Dramatic conflict arises from temporary misunderstandings and outside challenges, and is resolved through open--but wacky--communication and teamwork! Also there is a goofy next-door neighbor.

Dirty Jobs - We'd just syndicate this. No editing required.

Nightly News Flash - Our intrepid news team reports in-depth on charity and relief projects, promising scientific research, and on the rapid spread of useful technology around the globe. There'd be special segments on dramatic rescue missions and promising young people, and exposés revealing which lawmakers are really making personal sacrifices to serve their country better.

America Does, In Fact, Have Talent - Performers demonstrate diverse skills in music, dance, comedy, magic, and other entertainment arts. Everyone who made it through the offscreen auditions is so good that the show really just exists as a venue to let people enjoy their talent. After each performance, three judges who are well-educated in theater and circus history briefly give the audience a perspective on the heritage of the art form being showcased, then discuss the ways the performer honored and diverged from tradition in their work.

Self-Esteem Makeover - People who want plastic surgery, extreme weight loss, or a total style makeover meet up with an elite team of clinical psychologists who teach them that who they are and what they do--and even the unique and human way they look right now--matters so much more. In the second half of the show, these people are taught how to eat a balanced and varied diet and engage in fun physical activities, then assisted in designing a makeup and wardrobe for themselves that fits well with their individual style.

I'm totally going to think of more when I'm at work. Add your own!

EDIT: Yep, here are some I thought of at work. There are lots of great ideas in the comments too!

This Land Is My Land - This travel show has a different host each week, as a native of the featured region gives our camera crew a tour of their homeland. Learn about their own society, history, cuisine, and landmarks from the perspective only a true insider can give! Hear moving stories of how the host's personal history and daily life tie into the unique culture of their region--first hand.

The Zombie Cure - In a world overrun by shambling, mindless monsters, a small group of human scientists holed away in a jury-rigged urban fortress have found a cure that restores the zombies back into sentient humans. This epic and darkly comic series follows them from their first successful experiment on a chained, perilously captured zombie in the fortress basement through the long hard road of un-zombifying the world. This week's episode where our heroes confront a snarling little girl zombie, then gently restrain her so she will have no injuries when she returns to consciousness, is guaranteed to thrill and chill you, then delight you when she wakes up with only minor bruises and gives her mommy a hug!

Real Teens Out Of Control - Tania is expelled under a "zero tolerance" policy for possession of the pepper spray she carries for self defense. Alberto is charged with disorderly conduct for taking part in a political protest. Franklin is thrown out of the prom for trying to attend in a dress. Juliet is sent to the district's special "behavioral problems" school for choosing to keep her pregnancy. Hear the thrilling true-life stories of teenagers who broke all the rules... and had a pretty good point, which they will articulately explain on camera as they go through the process of challenging the system.

Exhibition Game - In this old-school game show, contestants have to use both brains and brawn: one moment answering trivia questions, the next doing physical challenges. A contestant might find themselves improvising rock lyrics, then bungee-jumping off an actual rock! At the end of the game, everyone gets nice prizes and fancy vacations from the sponsors, because all of the contestants contributed to making the show entertaining, so they should all reap the rewards. Besides, seriously, how do you even score bungee-jumping? "Best falling technique?" Whatever.

Sesame Street: Adult Edition - Short, engagingly animated adult-level lessons on science, history, math, civics and language alternate with the Muppets' lovable antics and catchy songs. Don't act like you're too cool for this. You'd so watch it. You know it.

Beautiful Dream.

(Yes, I'm so tired I've been reduced to coming up with post material while asleep. Four shifts to go!)

I dreamed was walking down a busy street, and there was a woman standing by the curb yelling at people as they passed by. Horrible things. Insults of every kind--racial, size-based, sexist--anything about them that was anything, that distinguished them from a department store mannequin in any way, she would pick out and scream at them. People were cringing and shying away, kids started crying. I was horrified and upset.

I stopped just out of her earshot and called the police. "We know about her, ma'am," said the dispatcher, sounding tired. "We can't do anything about it. It's a First Amendment issue."

So I decided that I would stand next to her, and every time someone came by, tell them something good about themselves. I wasn't condescending; I put all of my love into it. As long as she stayed there, I did, screaming at strangers:


I couldn't shut her up, but I could add my voice.