Friday, October 28, 2011

Test tubes.

I know I promised a buttsex post, but there's something you should know about me: I am a liar.  Also something more outrageous happened.

I'm in nursing school.  I'm an "adult learner," since I'm 25 and already have a bachelor's (in film and rhetoric, seemed like a good idea at the time), as are about half the people in my class--some are in their 50s and are grandparents.  Which made Tuesday's lab even more inappropriate.

It's a microbiology lab, and usually we do things like isolating and culturing bacteria, doing stains, preparing and viewing microscope slides, and the like.  Not real politically charged.  So I was taken aback when Tuesday's lab was straight out of an abstinence-only horror story.

The lab procedure, in brief: each of thirty students was given a test tube with a few milliliters of nutrient broth.  One of the test tubes contained a sample of harmless bacteria; the other twenty-nine were sterile.  We had to randomly partner up and transfer fluid between our test tubes, then find another partner and do the same, for four rounds.  At the end we swabbed our broth onto agar plates, and next week we'll see which ones grow bacteria.  All this was supposed to represent the spread of an STD.

It made me very uncomfortable, because it's a demonstration that works on two levels.  On one level, it's modeling an epidemic, which is appropriate subject matter for a microbiology class for nurses.  On another level, however, it's all about how people who have sex are dirty.  We're going to have sixteen (or slightly fewer) people turn up with the "infection," and then we're all going to shake our heads and reflect upon how dirty and dangerous sex with four people (so slutty!) is.  It's spherical racehorses--it's intended to be--but it's racehorses made spherical in a way that grossly magnifies the riskiness of sex and "simplifies" away the existence of safer sex and STD testing and treatment.

The frustrating part is that it's almost impossible to argue with this, because the attitude I'm facing isn't opposition; it's impatience and apathy.  I asked if we could do a round with condoms on our test tubes, and the professor laughed and brushed me off not with "we're trying to show how sex has consequences, don't interfere" but with "we're trying to get this done on time, don't slow us down."  When I talked to other students about the lab, most of them expressed the same sentiment--whatever, let's just go through the motions and get this done with--although one of them said to me "It's a good thing I've only slept with one person!"

I don't think this apathy makes the lab okay.  I think it makes it insidious.  "Yeah yeah, sex is dirty, sluts have diseases, just copy the answers off the board and we'll get out of here before ten" is a much nastier and more dangerous thing than if we'd had an overtly ideological discussion of the subject.  It makes it a given thing, a thing not needing discussion, that sex is dirty and nothing can be done about it.

It also makes me seem like a bit of a sex-obsessed weirdo for getting all fluffed up about it.  But this is an attitude with consequences.  "She's probably got STDs" is a synonym for "ewww, slut" that I've heard many, many times.  And equally bad: "He wanted to use a condom with me? I'm not the sort of person who has diseases!"  (Yes, I've heard that.  It was in college, in fact, during my first go-round.)  Linking sex to inevitable STDs--and STDs to dirtiness--is not merely obnoxious, it's dangerous.  It stands in the way of condom use, STD testing, and honest disclosure with partners, and it reinforces the idea of sexually active people as tainted and less valuable.

I'll try to bring these issues up when we get our results in the next class.  I'm also considering talking to the professor about it although I'm not quite sure what to say or what constructive suggestions to make.

Mostly I'm just flabbergasted that the professor had the nerve to walk into a college class with grown adults in attendance and host one of the old "you have to keep your scotch tape sticky for your future husband!" shenanigans.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Recently I've been criticized by other feminists for being a "sex-pozzie"--a sex-positive feminist, someone who believes that unraveling our culture's sexual repression is a key part of fighting women's oppression.  On this MetaFilter thread, for instance, there's quite a few accusations that I'm "pointing out that she loves trotting merrily back into the kitchen and that being in the kitchen is what feminism is all about."  Or in this article I was linked yesterday, which is positively dripping with disdain for women who appeal sexually to men, and full of conflation between women whose "sexy" pictures are being used without their consent and women who are intentionally presenting themselves as sexy.

This hearkens back to those "Twisty Faster Is Fucking Insane" posts I did, and I admit, if I had it to do all over again, I wouldn't have called them that. "Fucking insane" is ableist language; Twisty Faster and similar-minded feminists who look down upon "sex-pozzies" are merely obnoxious, elitist, sexist, and counterproductive.

Here are some of my dogs in this fight:

Most critics of sex-positive feminism have not bothered to figure out what sex-positivity is.
It's not the giggling, hair-twirling exclamation of "it's feminist to be sexayyy!"  It's really not.  I'm not going to defend that strawman.  (I also think it's funny how often I get accused of being a Hooters-girl-bot, when I'm about the least Hooters-looking-person ever.)

This is what a sex-pozzie
funfeminist looks like!
Nor is it the demand that everyone be sexy or have sex.  Nor is it the claim that everything that involves sex is beyond criticism.  Nor is it the suggestion that sex will fix all the problems of feminism.

Instead, sex-positivity is the belief that sex and sexiness are... okay.  It's the belief that people shouldn't be judged by the sex they have.  It's the belief that consent matters and social norms do not.  It's the belief that porn and erotica are valid media of expression (not that the current porn industry is hunky-dory, cause it's not) and that sex work ought to be just work (not that it currently is).  It's the belief that neither "slut" nor "prude" should be an insult.  It's the belief that every sexual and gender identity is valid.

Sex-positivity is, in a nutshell, the belief in sexual freedom as a key component of women's freedom and of having a better world in general.

If you want to argue with that belief, we can talk.  But if you want to argue with "everyone should be a Hooters girl because showing men your boobies is like totally the most feministical choice!" you're not really arguing with me.  I just think that I'm in no position to judge Hooters girls or assume that they're dimwits, sexists, or helpless victims because of what they do for a living.

Criticism of sex-positive feminism is often sexist.
A lot of criticism of sex-positive feminism is really criticism of sexy women.  It's hard to find a piece that isn't dripping with disgusted descriptions of women who wear high heels and shave their legs and then they giggle and they act all flirty and give blowjobs, oh my God.  And it's hard for me to see the difference between this and plain old slut-shaming.  It always seems undercut with the implication that sexy women aren't just unfeminist, they're icky.

If you treat sexy women with disgust and pity, you're not protecting their rights; you're just gleefully participating in their public humiliation.  (You're also often attacking them on a subject that's highly intertwined with culture, class, age, and even body shape. Not everyone who looks "sexy" to you is doing it on purpose, much less doing it to serve the patriarchy.)

And you're falling into the old sexist trap of judging women by their sexuality.  A woman being sexy doesn't make women part of "the sex class"; refusing to see a woman as a powerful individual because she's sexy absolutely does.  It says that her sexiness speaks louder than her actual voice, that who she is sexually tells you everything you need to know about who she is as a person.  It's hard to get more sexist than that.  At least Playboy publishes little interview blurbs with their sex objects.

This criticism goes beyond mere criticism, and into denying sex-positive feminists' agency.
If you tell me that I'm wrong, I can talk to you. I'll probably use bad words and too many italics, but I'll talk to you. We disagree.  But if you tell me that I don't really think what I'm saying, that the words coming out of my mouth aren't mine, how the fuck do I answer that?

Here's a bit from the XOJane article:
So you should go ahead and do things that are patriarchy-approved, if you want to. Buy new nail polish! Care about celebrities! Have a giant wedding! Wear a thong in your hair! Put your picture on the Internet! Look good according to particular patriarchal ideas of what looks good! Be flattered when men wolf whistle at you, literally or metaphorically! Whatever aspects of being a “Hot Chick” work for you, enjoy them. Maybe except the hair thong. But don’t fool yourself that you’re doing so of your own unconstrained free will.
That's right; women who are sexy are victims of mind control. You can tell by looking at them.  There's no way a woman can choose to wear nail polish or care about celebrities.  I know I've been harsh on femininity myself at times (mostly I'm just harsh at the idea of me being feminine), but this goes beyond criticism of femininity.  This is a claim that femininity is a symptom of Borg assimilation.

(Even worse than the Borg claim is the claim that feminine women are deliberately sucking up to men to get cookies from their oppressors.  Ugh.)

It's also, implicitly, a claim that women who reject femininity aren't influenced by patriarchy, which is even more unfortunate.  You don't break free from our entire social system and all the behaviors and preconceptions that come with it just by growing out your armpit hair.  If we are all blinded by the culture we live in and the privileges we have, then it's the height of arrogance to claim that you're so enlightened you've risen above all that.  If women don't have full agency in the patriarchy, where the fuck do you get off claiming that you do?

Sex still matters.
So these are all reasons that people who think it's okay to call me a stupid cock-sucking bimbo under the guise of "feminism" are poopyheads.  But what's my reason for remaining a cock-sucking bimbo?  Why do I think sexual freedom is important to feminism?

Well, for the long answer, see this entire blog.  But for the short answer: because it's impossible for women to be accepted as human beings if we aren't accepted as sexual beings.  If women's dignity is contingent on our not being too sexy, we're never going to have dignity.  We have to accustom ourselves to the idea that someone can be highly sexual, publicly sexual, sexual in a way that we would totally never do ourselves because whoa... and still have dignity.

If there's a secret motive to my making my sexuality public, it's that I want to show someone can be sexual and also other things.  I want to show that I can be sexual and also funny and interesting; I want to show that I can be sexual and also ornery and argumentative; I want to show that I can be sexual and also save lives and get colds and play with guinea pigs.

Finally, part of making life better is about making sex better.  I don't just talk about sex to say "HEY EVERYBODY I'M INTO SEX"; I talk about it in terms of promoting enthusiastic consent, promoting body acceptance, promoting the idea of finding out and coming to terms with your own sexual desires.  I think having the sex life that's right for you is an important part of being a self-actualized person.  And I'm not going to avoid these discussions just because someone might think they're titillating.

And beyond finally, I do like sex.  I do think about sex a lot.  That's not a political position; it's hormones or something.  It's who I am and I'm not going to hide it.

...Wow, that got long and preachy.  Next post is about buttsex.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cosmocking: November '11! Part Two!

Let's finish this! Mostly because I've been sitting on it in "ugh, do I have to?" misery and it's been stopping me from writing a real post! Sadly nothing in the second half can possibly top "penis mommy!"

People expressed curiosity last week about what the "kinky sex" would consist of, and now the big reveal: underpants.  Kinky now means underpants.  I don't even question these things anymore. (Phase 1: Collect underpants. Phase 2: ????? Phase 3: Kinky!)  And then it's all the fun you'd expect from an article themed "underpants" in a magazine too conservative for anything genuinely edgy but too salacious to be bound by good taste.
Use your underwear as a scrunchie.
Either no one can tell that it's underpants, in which case it's not doing that much to spice up your love life, or everyone can tell that it's underpants, in which case I wholly support this plan and would love to see lots of Cosmo girls doing it in public because I could use that kind of entertainment.
Be a down-south dominatrix... with yourself. Touch your lady parts through your underwear in front of him.
So now we have this week's "can anyone explain the connection between these two sentences?" challenge.  I guess it's because to Cosmo "dominatrix" is a generic word meaning "sexy woman of some sort," and touching yourself, wow, that's pretty sexy?
Have him place his ankles in the holes of your underwear, almost like you're tying his feet together. He'll feel dominated--aka massively turned on.
The dynamics of this work a little differently if I'm not a wispy little thing with wispy little underpants.  (Several other tips, like planting your "tiny thong" for him to find, also assume dainty proportions.) Otherwise he's just going to be standing there looking goofy with his feet in my underpants.

...Actually, no, I'm pretty sure this looks goofy no matter what your underpants size.
Q: My boyfriend wants to have sex all the time. Even if I tell him no, I end up waking up to him humping my leg. How do I let him know what a turn-off that is?
A: I'm no scientist, but I think there are two reasons why he constantly wants to have sex with you: One, he is a dude. Two, he thinks you're hot.
Does she mean literally? Because that's not normal.  It's not normal and not okay to hump someone in their sleep.  (Unless you work it out in advance, but obviously that's not an option in Cosmoland.) And it doesn't strike me as an innocent expression of dudely appreciation.  It strikes me as a passive-aggressive way to punish for her not putting out, to prove that she can't stop him from using her body anyway.  If I were her, I'd be very clear about saying "Please stop trying to do sexual things with me after I've said no. If you don't commit to stopping this, I don't feel safe sleeping in the same bed as you."

Cosmo's suggestion is "I love having sex with you, but when I'm sleepy, I don't feel sexy." Because God forbid you actually not want it sometimes; you have to give a better excuse than that! And then they go on to recommend that she have more "spontaneous" sex with him, because clearly his real issue here is that he's just a spur-of-the-moment sort of guy!

I don't have much more to say than "ugh." I'm not a sexless shrew-harpy, I swear, but I don't think the answer to every problem is "gently coddle his ego while sexually servicing him." Men are grownups and they won't crumble into tears or leave you forever if you talk to them in grownup language.
Announce your big O on Twitter:
Go all the way on November 4, then announce your orgasm by tweeting #CosmoDontFakeItDay
Right, because there's nothing that'll help out a woman who has trouble orgasming like being expected to perform on a specific date and announce it publicly!  Someone who takes this stuff to heart is going to end up faking her "Don't Fake It Day" tweet, and that's every kind of wrong.
Earlobes: These spots are packed with nerves that connect directly to the brain, so stroking them feels particularly amazing.
This is how Cosmockings seem to work, lately. I read some stuff that genuinely angries me up, and some stuff that just makes me giggle and point.  I'm pretty sure every part of your head "connects directly to the brain," but hey, earlobes, super sexy.
Signs You May Be Dealing With A Psychopath
 Serial killers often blend into society, but there are clues to look for that hint something is wrong below the surface.
-He stands stiffly
-He speaks only about himself
-His words seem rehearsed
-He is detached
-He exaggerates tiny gestures
Oh no!  He's a serial killer!  Or he's socially awkward!  Maybe he even has one of those mental illnesses that don't make you murder people but just make you talk awkwardly!  About half of these describe me, the other half describe plenty of my friends, and none of us have serial-killed hardly anybody.  Considering how many serial killers have been described as normal or even charming, this bit of "people who act different really are as horrible as you always suspected" isn't even helpful.
Describe your dream sex life.
A. Hot quickies with your man whenever and wherever you want them
B. A mix of sensual encounters as well as wilder ones, like in the bathroom at a party
C. Tons of foreplay plus a new position or prop every time
B is correct.  The other ones are incorrect and indicate some sort of problem.  It doesn't matter what you like, because Cosmo has figured out what you should like.

I guess that's Cosmo in a nutshell for ya.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cosmocking: November '11! Part One!

White cover! Nicki Minaj! What the hell is going on with her neck?! Sex secrets, kinky sex... sexify your eyes! I am not sure I want my eyes sexified! I might get conjunctivitis! This image is stolen from the Internet; for some reason the "bigger, better pleasure" headline isn't on my copy! Maybe because "enlarge someone else's penis" is the kind of thing even doesn't promise!
[quiz result] This guy is crazy for you... and crazy intimidated. Men are terrified of rejection, so you have to make it clear that if he makes a move, it'll be well-received.
Apparently it's not just men who are terrified of rejection. I'm not even sure how I'd let him know a move was welcome without that being in itself a move, but knowing Cosmo, it probably involves standing with my shoulders at a slightly different angle. Something quietly receptive. Funny thing is, if you think rejection anxiety is bad, it's got nothing on the anxieties that come up when she's thinking "does he not like me or is he just not getting the signal?" and he's thinking "does she not like me or is she sending a secret signal?"

Never even mind more political stuff about rape culture and women's roles as objects versus actors and whatnot--if you follow Cosmo's advice, your dating life is going to be like trying to get asked to slow dance at the seventh grade social... forever.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 65 percent of financial analysts are men. So head to the neighborhood Starbucks during your lunch hour.
I will buy a venti triple mocha skinny caramel macchiato for anyone who can explain the connection between these two sentences.
We spoke to experts, who gave us the full monty behind five boner-improving secrets. Obviously, we don't want you to become his penis mommy, which is why we came up with ways to implement these on the sly.
Penis mommy. Penis mommy. PENIS MOMMY.

The secrets, if you're curious, are that you should feed him blackberry jam, make sure he had enough sleep, make sure he isn't drunk, make sure he isn't on a full stomach, and have sex twice in a night because he'll last longer the second time. So that's four obvious but decent points to one "blackberry jam? guh?"

Penis mommy.
Run a pair [of your underwear] under hot water, then wrap it around his shaft and squeeze. The heat helps increase his blood flow down there, making him rock hard and explosion-ready.
This doesn't say "hot and sexy" to me. This says "oh my God, he's filthy... I have to find some way to sponge him off before I'm going to touch that thing."
Two words: Edible underwear. It exists. Wear a pair and let him devour it.
...That's twelve words.
My man went to guys' night at his buddy's house. When I called to say hi, I heard a female voice. I asked about it, and he said it was just guys. Later, he called to say he was coming home because a girl started undressing in the room he crashed in! I feel betrayed--why did he lie?
I don't have the whole story here, but I'm guessing he lied because he was in a relationship where he wasn't allowed to socialize with other women ever, not even in a group, not even if he was going out of his way to avoid any sexual involvement with them, and that wears down a human soul after a while.

Maybe I'm a fatalist, but I think that if someone wants to cheat on me, they'll cheat. If they don't want to cheat on me, they can go to a skinny-dipping-and-soapy-Twister party with thirty-eight beautiful single women and not cheat. But trying to keep them from cheating by having weird rules (other than "don't cheat on me") about who they can associate with--that falls somewhere between creepy and downright abusive in my book.
[Ways to flatter your guy's friends:] "God help the person who tries to go up against you in Duck Hunt."

"Totally radical Pac-Man skills!" "Bodacious Pong moves, dude!" "Cowabunga, Tennis For Two played on an oscilloscope screen using a room-sized mainframe with vacuum tubes!"

Hey, I can make a lot of you feel old: Duck Hunt came out before I was born.

One of the other suggestions is "Hanging with you guys is like watching a funnier version of Jackass," which is practically a cutting-edge reference considering that show has only been off the air for nine years. (Also it's kind of insulting, unless they're the sort of guys who are really, really into shooting bottle rockets out of each other's anuses.)

But wait, there's more! But you will have to wait because I'm all out of time now. Next week we'll explore "kinky" things you can do with your underwear! Hint: all of them involve "put your underwear somewhere on his or your body, okay, now you're kinky!"

Penis mommy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Beyond not rape.

Everyone (well, everyone cool) agrees that consent is the most important thing in sexual activities.  It's the difference between harassment and flirting, groping and foreplay, BDSM and abuse, between sex and rape.

But is that all it's about?  Not violating your partner?  Obviously that's a big deal, but...

Yesterday Rowdy and I had amazing sex.  It was loving and passionate and messy and rough, the kind of sex that scares the neighbors and soaks the mattress, the kind of sex that left me literally high afterwards, falling asleep spooned around Rowdy and whispering "I'm flying" into his ear.

You know what I didn't say to him afterwards?  "Oh baby, that was so not rape."

Having sex that isn't rape is like cooking food that isn't poison.  It's the bare goddamn minimum.  If your list of sex tips consists of nothing but "don't rape" and then goes straight into physical details, you're missing something in the middle.

Few things worry me more than people (okay, men) who say it's difficult to know if someone's consenting or not.  This suggests to me not just that they could be violating someone's consent, but that even if they aren't, they're having terrible sex.  If your idea of sex is limited to "one partner silently gets on and grinds away and the other tolerates it," it can be consensual, but it's probably not much fun.

Sexual communication does have gray areas and fuzzy middle grounds.  It's just that they aren't between rape and not rape--if that isn't a bright glowing line then you have a bright glowing imperative to stop cold until it is.  No, the gray area is between okay sex and great sex, between compromise sex and consensus sex, between "alright, sure" sex and "oh my god yeah let's do this" sex.

The lowest level of communication between Rowdy and me was "do you want to have sex?"  That's the part that made it not rape.  But it wasn't the end of the process.  Things like "I want to fuck you while you're doing yourself with the Hitachi" and "I want you to fist me"--and even smaller things, bits like "squeeze me tight" and "kiss me, kiss me now."  (By the way, I'm just flabbergasted by people who think talking during sex isn't sexy. I mean, you don't talk about the weather, but if these quotes aren't sexy, what is sexy like on your planet?)

So it saddens me when sexual communication is treated as being about consent only.  Consent is step one.  Consent is getting the keys to the car.  But it isn't knowing how to drive it.

And it flat-out horrifies me when sexual consent is treated as fuzzy, because if you don't know for sure if your partner even wants to be doing this, you definitely don't know what they actually like.

Seeking enthusiastic consent is awesome!  By all means, keep it up!  Not raping people is super important!  But it's not nearly enough to build a sex life on.

Police action.

Last night, Occupy Boston got ugly. The police ordered media away and violently attacked a peaceful protest in the middle of the night.  Veterans for Peace were beaten, medics were arrested, and protestor's personal property and medical supplies were thrown in garbage trucks. 100 people are in jail right now and I'm sure some of my friends are among them.

I was out there last night but left before the arrests began, because I was told I might not get a nursing license if I had a "disorderly conduct" on my record.  It was infuriating to walk out when I had friends staying behind and standing their ground, but one of the ugly dynamics of this movement is that too many of the people who need it can't afford to protest.

The protestors were peaceful and unarmed and were attempting open communication with the police and city. Their only crime was occupying a public park.

It scares and saddens the hell out of me, both for my friends who were there and for the idea of protest in this country. Free speech and assembly doesn't mean much if they're subject to the whims of the police deciding "no, we meant approved speech and assembly through the proper channels."

I'm also infuriated by the persistence of the "dirty hippies and creepy anarchists" image of Occupy Boston.  A lot of media outlets have been selectively interviewing and photographing the weirdest-looking and least coherent people there--ignoring the presence of nurses, ironworkers, veterans, teachers, and other such fringe subversive elements.  (This is a tricky issue because I don't want to devalue the voices of hippies and anarchists and funny-lookin' people, but at the same time, I know the public does, and selectively showing those people in the media is definitely encouraging a bias against the movement.)  Most of us either have jobs or want jobs; most of us are intelligent people who know exactly what we're doing out there; none of us were violent.  And if it makes you feel better, plenty of us were nicely dressed with clean hair and everything.

The only good news is that Occupy Boston just got a whole shit-ton of free publicity, public sympathy, and new supporters, courtesy of the Boston Police Department.

I intend to head back out there and make the most of that.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Occupy Boston.

I marched with Occupy Boston today.  I'll be back tomorrow. (I'll be working as a first aid volunteer. Come say hi! Or if necessary come say "oh god please get this pepper spray out of my eyes.")

It's scary and inspiring.  It's flawed in a whole bunch of ways.  It's worth being a part of.

It struck me as a very different kind of protest than any other I've seen.  Because it encompasses so many issues--healthcare, education, war, corporate personhood, national debt, jobs--and yet the central one is clear and emotional and obvious: "99% of us are eating the crumbs of 1%, and fuck that shit."

It's a different kind of protest because in many ways, it's less a protest than a forum.  There was a lot of talking at the Occupy Boston camp.  A lot of disagreement.  A lot of different issues being raised.  The camp was being run as a mini-democracy, not a party headquarters.  This is why the Occupy movements aren't releasing demands--because their goal isn't "enact a solution now" but "we need to start working on solutions."  That's a confusing, messy cause to be marching for, and also a tremendously humble and important cause.

The Occupy movement is also a different kind of protest because of the strange way it encompasses both the radical and the eminently reasonable.  Or really, how it shows that the reasonable has become radical.

The radical-looking people in the photo--the dirty-hippy types and the scary black-masked folks--most of them weren't screaming for the downfall of the State or the overthrow of capitalism.  They were shouting things like "fund healthcare and education" and "reduce the deficit."  I live in a country where people are putting on masks and writing a defense attorney's phone number on their arm so they can say things like "rich people should pay more taxes."

Maybe the crystallizing moment came when some doofus yelled "get a job" at us, and the crowd yelled back--not "fuck the system," but "we want jobs."

There was another crystallizing moment, though, of a different sort.  We were gathering and preparing to march, and one woman asked timidly, "are we allowed to march here?"  The answer: "we're always allowed to march."

Maybe all that we're proving is that protest still exists in this country--that a person with no "power" except the ability to stand in the street and hold up a sign is still a person with a voice.  That's pretty fucking important right there.

I don't know, now, if this is the start of a powerful snowball of dissent or if it's a little blip.  I don't know if it's going to be co-opted by people with ulterior motives or if it's just going to whither away as people have to go back to school and work.  I don't know if it's going to turn scary and violent or if it's going to turn big and important.  I don't know if it's going to change the country.

All I can say right now is that I'm glad it wasn't just another day in the Financial District.

P.S. Occupy Boston is ongoing in Dewey Square just outside South Station.  If you're going tomorrow, tweet me @pervocracy and I'll say hi!

P.P.S. The people who are saying "this is just a bunch of silly hippies who don't even know what they want" are the same people who said "this is just a bunch of silly girls who want to wear slutty clothing" about the Slutwalks. Pay them no mind.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Economics vs. apples.

A day doesn't go by I don't see an article like this one.  I'm not going to try to deconstruct it point by point, because it's the same old shit.  I'm just going to pull some quotes and talk about my weekend.  I suspect you'll get my point.
Women are jumping into the sack faster and with fewer expectations about long-term commitments than ever, effectively discounting the “price” of sex to a record low, according to social psychologists.
Rowdy and I had agreed to a date, but neither of us was feeling in the mood for a "date" date on the night.  Instead, we just got snacks and juice at the drugstore and sat together on the cover of the subway tunnel, listening to street musicians in the square, laughing at little kids playing run-in-circles-really-fast games, laying back and cuddling on the concrete.  Because of the kids around, I whispered the dirty things into his ear, very quietly, so they wouldn't know why he was laughing.
“The price of sex is about how much one party has to do in order to entice the other into being sexual,” said Kathleen Vohs, of the University of Minnesota, who has authored several papers on “sexual economics.” “It might mean buying her a drink or an engagement ring. These behaviors vary in how costly they are to the man, and that is how we quantify the price of sex.”
We split up to head back to his home; he biked and I drove.  On the way I stopped at the liquor store to surprise him with a pack of beer from his hometown.  At home we drank the beer (he dressed his in a little lederhosen first), undressed, and cuddled naked while watching porn.  It didn't turn into sex.  The porn was too ridiculous for that.  It turned into giggling--helpless, naked, wiggly giggling.
By boiling dating down to an economic model, researchers have found that men are literally getting lots of bang for their buck. Women, meanwhile, are getting very little tat for their . . . well, you get the idea.
At the end of the night, I stroked his cock, at first slowly and gently, almost comfortingly, then for real.  I kissed the tip of his cock and when he groaned appreciatively I took the whole thing in my mouth.  It was a long, sloppy blowjob, popping his cock out of my mouth and then swallowing it down again, both of us still a little giggly.
Men want sex more than women do. It’s a fact that sounds sexist and outdated. But it is a fact all the same -- one that women used for centuries to keep the price of sex high (if you liked it back in the day, you really had to put a ring on it). With gender equality, the Pill and the advent of Internet porn, women’s control of the meet market has been butchered. 
It was my turn next.  I slipped a condom on his vibrator and went to town while he held me, stroked my breasts, gently pulled my hair, and whispered fucking filthy sweet nothings in my ear.  I came and didn't want to stop.  So I didn't.  I just kept pleasuring myself over and over, Rowdy's hands on my ass and his lips on my cheek, until I was exhausted.
“Every sex act is part of a ‘pricing’ of sex for subsequent relationships,” Regnerus said. “If sex has been very easy to get for a particular young man for many years and over the course of multiple relationships, what would eventually prompt him to pay a lot for it in the future -- that is, committing to marry?”
We slept late into the morning, curled around each other.  It's been more than a year of nights like this and I'm still stupid in love--the kind of love where I think his snoring is cute, the kind where I'm charmed and a little turned on when he scratches his balls.  When he woke up he held me and kissed me and reminded me that with him I'm safe enough to be that stupid.
Did you answer, “Love”? You’re adorable. “Sexual strategies for making men ‘fall in love’ typically backfire, because men don’t often work like that,” Regnerus says.
Later in the day, Sprite came over and we went apple picking.  It really makes no sense to pick your own apples, economically; I'm sure we paid three times what it would have cost at the store.  What we were really paying for was a day in the orchard, walking through rows of trees in light misty rain, eating impossibly sweet and crisp apples right off the trees.
So, what can women do to return the balance of sexual power in their favor? Stop putting out, experts say. If women collectively decided to cross their legs, the price of sex would soar and women would regain control of the market. Like a whoopie cartel.
After we gathered our apples, we sat together at a picnic bench under a tree, drinking hot mulled apple cider, talking about our childhoods and our schoolwork and tractors (that one was mostly Rowdy) and various forms of perverted sex we were planning to have.

The point here isn't that my relationship is super special, or that my relationship represents every relationship.  But my relationship exists in the real world--the messy, complicated, wonderful real world.  It's a place that has masturbation and apples, cuddles and really bad street musicians, group sex parties and muddy shoes.

I'm sure there are relationships in this big ol' world where women coldly trade sex to men for commitment and compete joylessly to see who can get the biggest diamond for the fewest fucks.  It's just that there's a universe of other relationships out there, and they're way more fun.  I mean, shit, if the woman's withholding sex strategically or having it pried out of her economically, when does she get to enjoy feeling a man's arms tighten around her as she comes?  And if the man's only giving as much love as he needs to get sex, when does he get to enjoy sneaking kisses behind an apple tree?

So I don't just want to brag here.  I want to tell stories to show that no one has to live that way.  And oh my God is life better when you don't.

Next time we're together, we're going to bake apple crisp.