Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cosmocking: June '11! Part Two!

I'm finishing this!

There's an article on "Dirty Talk That Drives Men Wild," and with 78 examples, it has more hilarity than I can type. I'll try to pick some of the best ones. They seem to fall into general categories:

The Icky
"She said, 'That orgasm was so intense, my eyes rolled so far back into my head that I could see my insides!"
"A girl once said to me, 'it's like you're scraping the back of my brain!"

The Loutish
"We were joking around, and I was trying to impress her. She rolled her eyes and said, 'Okay, okay. You're hilarious and charming. Now take off your pants."
"The alarm clock sounded, and she hit the snooze button. Then she rolled on top of me and said, 'We've got nine minutes. Let's do this.'"
"She cooked me dinner, and it was delicious. Then she leaned over and whispered in my ear, 'For dessert, you're going to eat my cake.'"

The Martian
"'Okay, now bend me over and say ahhhh!'"
"Out of nowhere, she straddled me, beat her chest, and made the Tarzan call."

Special Award: The Sexiest McMuffins Ever
"She made me breakfast in the morning. She said 'Good morning, babe' and gave me two egg-and-cheese breakfast sandwiches. I had a boner from here to Africa."

The vibrator article is actually pretty straightforward. It doesn't say much more than "here are some upscale vibrators that don't look like cartoon penises. Try putting them on your hoo-ha."

Now we're up to "The Weird Trait Guys Look For in a Date," featuring some of the most long-stretch amateur "evolutionary psychology" that I've ever seen.
That trait?
"Finding a mate to pass along your DNA is a primal human impulse," [...] "A man naturally responds to those biological urges by moving forward with a woman who will potentially be able to raise his children, even if he doesn't want kids soon--or ever."
Yep, the number one thing guys want in a date is that you'd be the perfect mommy! Not for purposes of actually having kids, though. For purposes of being more femaler.

I will never understand why the supposed biological urge to have perfect babies is imagined into every aspect of psychology except wanting babies. If it's so in control of your sexual preferences that you're measuring waist-hip ratios for peak fertility or whatever, what kind of wacky loophole makes us capable of feeling indifference or repulsion--or most importantly, the ability to consciously think about it and decide how we feel--toward the idea of actual reproduction?

I think the answer is twofold. Part of it is that we're so damn over-smart as a species that we're able to make conscious choices that go against our survival urges. This is why dieting is possible, or for that matter working at a non-food-gathering job. And part of it is that most people have a powerful biological urge to have sex, and an urge to nurture babies once the've happened, but since less intelligent animals don't understand that sex leads to babies, a psychological drive specifically to create babies never really came about. In terms of drives, your "wiring" (ugh, but bear with me) seems to be to have sex and then deal with whatever results, not to intentionally make babies.

But you know what? Now I'm making random guesses based on personal observations and generalizations, not on any archaeological, anthropological, or genetic evidence whatsoever. So take that "I think" at the beginning of the previous paragraph and set it in VERY LARGE TYPE, and never ever publish what I just said as any kind of "science."

"It's fundamental to infant survival that a mother be able to react calmly and think on her feet in a crisis situation." [...] Back in prehistoric times she would need to have the wherewithal to grab the kids and run from a predator--becoming hysterical would quite literally be the kiss of death. And it's just as important today: showing you can stay levelheaded when minor things go wrong proves to him that you're a strong, capable woman he can trust with the kiddies.
Or it just proves to him that you're a strong, capable woman. The entire article is like this; they name a positive characteristic as something that guys like, then say that it would also be a positive characteristic in a mother, and that's why guys like it. I'm not sure if I can put a name to this logic; it's just... dopey. It's an unnecessary, unsupported extra step.

And it's a particular extra step that works beautifully to suggest that women are only good for popping out babies, and when it looks like they're doing other things that might be admirable, those things are secretly also about babies.


So? That thing all guys secretly want at 9 p.m.? A head massage. Huh. I mean, head massages are nice and all, but the specificity... I dunno, I don't make this stuff up.


Q: My boyfriend always wants to go down on me, but I just don't get off that way. How can I let him know when he heads south that there are plenty of other things I would rather have him do?
A: The best way to cut your guy off at the pass without losing the moment is to tell him, "Wait, I've been thinking about you ____-ing me all day."

I know I said this before, but: That isn't sex advice. That's survival tactics. That's the kind of thing you say to Buffalo Bill--"wait, don't put me in the Woman Pit, I've just gotten so hot for you, baby." The only reason to desperately distract your partner with sex instead of saying "no" is that you're afraid something bad would happen if you said "no."

Now, obviously I'm not talking about some strident "NO MEANS NO, STOP NOW!" (although that is your right at any time). I'm talking about "Honey, I'm not that into getting oral sex. It's just the funny way my body works. But I would seriously get off on it if you would ____ me." Is that so hard? This is your boyfriend. You're allowed to talk to him. And if you can't--if he'd start doing it anyway or he'd throw a hissy fit--that's one suck-ass boyfriend you got there.

Of course, Cosmo then winds around to:
But since it sounds as though this is something your boyfriend really wants to do, why not give exploring it another shot?
Because Cosmo doesn't understand "no" either. I mean, I get that this isn't like a life-or-death situation, that it's more of a "not my thing" than a "I can't possibly stand it," and so it might be okay to do it occasionally to retest how she feels or as a favor to the boyfriend, but... the lady said no, Cosmo. She has tried it, and she's saying no. Come on and listen already.

It's important that "no means no" isn't just about rape. For two reasons:
1) Bodily autonomy isn't all-or-nothing. Something doesn't have to be the worst thing in the world for you to be allowed to say you don't want it and to have that respected. I don't curl up and die if someone tickles my armpits--it won't cause me pain or make me cry or anything--but I find it unpleasant, and since the only point of doing this stuff in the first place is to be pleasant, I have the right to ask that people not touch my armpits.

2) This leaves a giant loophole for "that wasn't rape, it was just... sex she wasn't into!" that can only be closed if every "no" is a real "no." If a "no" pertaining to the treatment of one's own body can be overruled or ignored because it's not a serious big-deal "no," that leaves way too much room for "well, I would have stopped if she'd said, like, NO, but she only sorta said she didn't wanna."

21 comments:

  1. Long time cosmo reader...

    Point 2 has kind of hit home. That's a terrifying thought.

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  2. Hershele OstropolerMay 10, 2011 at 9:24 PM

    I like a woman who doesn't stab me in the face. It means if we have kids, she won't stab them in the face.

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  3. I mean, some of those dirty talk things might have been hot AT THE TIME: I've gotten some pretty good mileage out of some pretty stupid dirty talk. It's the idea that other people have to imitate them that's kind of ridiculous.

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  4. A point about evo-psych, and Cosmo's treatment of it:

    It's a pretty self-evident consequence of evolution that every part of your body exists because it helped your ancestors to survive and reproduce (or at least, because it did not hurt your ancestors' ability to survive and reproduce). This includes your brain and anything that happens to be hardwired into the brain; you taste sugar as nice rather than nasty because that helped your ancestors to survive and reproduce.

    However, there're a few big caveats to that:
    1. It only applies to parts of your brain that are hardwired, and a look at the great variety of things that people find attractive should be enough to prove that attractiveness is mostly not hardwired. Even a no-brainer (for reproduction, I mean; no other implications intended) like heterosexuality isn't present about 5% of the time versus almost never for something like not having arms, or even not tasting sugar.

    2. Even if what's attractive were hardwired, taking what modern American culture says is attractive and then theorizing why that must be good for survival is missing the point. A ton of men (from personal experience) find fat women attractive; why isn't that because it signifies an ability to survive famine longer or something?

    3. As it happens, the kind of woman you find on covers of Cosmo wouldn't last a week out in the African Savannah, even if we ignore all the ways they're made artificially more "attractive", and even if we grant them some knowledge of how things work out there. For one, at least reasonable if not large fat stores are necessary in any environment where food is difficult to get. And large muscles would've been very helpful as well for all kinds of things. And, since we're talking about Africa, black skin helps to not get a nasty painful rash from working in the sun all day.

    But Cosmo's cover lady is always a thin white chick. Isn't that funny.

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  5. Hershele OstropolerMay 10, 2011 at 11:08 PM

    Ozymandias: There is no circumstance under which "I feel like you're scraping the back of my brain" is sexy.

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  6. You realize, Hershele, this is a challenge. :)

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  7. "I'm not sure if I can put a name to this logic"

    Momification.

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  8. Hershele -

    If m'Lady said, after having a screaming, shuddering orgasm, "God, Aaron, that felt like I came so hard by eyeballs rolled back into my head and scraped the back of my brain", I would hug her tighter, kiss her, and be supremely content.

    Because not only am I a total dork, but that must have been one *hell* of an orgasm I gave her. :)

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  9. I always figured that part of the problem with evolutionary psych is that it assumes a man and a woman in a vaccuum. We're social animals! A lot of what we are, including our sexual behavior seems connected to that. Though that level of speculation (even about microbes or flies) would get you torn to shreds in an evolutionary genetics circle, unless there was real substance to back it up.

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  10. Anon from 12:54:

    Hardly, evolutionary psychology is actually a real field in science, having evolved to be social is not a claim that they would have larger problems with than any other unbacked claim.

    Sadly, it's also probably the single most abused science field when it comes to people making up shit and then yelling "You can't argue with it, it's science!" - I really feel for those actual scientists working with it, it must be hard to see your field being mistreated like that.

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  11. Sobering point at the end there, Holly, good show.

    Also, we are so far removed from cavemen, it's not even funny. I've never killed an animal, and I think I would wuss out if I ever was about to. And even the guys who do hunt, they use guns. I mean, compared to a guy who has to get close to the animal, close enough that it could probably slaughter them? Not really a contest. Cavemen don't use hand sanitizers, and while I've never asked any, I doubt any of them male or female had any use for shaving. Maybe it's some misguided attempt at asserting their manhood, or they feel threatened in this culture or something, who knows?

    Whatever. Anyway, good write, Holly.

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  12. "becoming hysterical would quite literally be the kiss of death"

    What? No.

    Also, as a blunt person I sometimes go with "Okay, can we have sex now?" And I definitely like hearing it too.

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  13. Man the neurosurgeons in their editorial department sure love their logical fallacies, don't they?

    I think that one's called "affirming the consequent."
    i.e.: "Some traits can be linked to some evolutionary mechanism, therefore EVERY ASPECT OF EVERYTHING EVER is due to evolution."

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  14. Clearly I need to start making egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches. I never knew they were such effective seduction techniques.

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  15. well, wanting to have sex is evolutionarily useful, and so is the tendency to be fond of your babies once you've got them. I think the not-wanting-babies thing is just not a Darwinian issue because birth control, even primitive varieties, is so RECENT in human history. (I do have one friend who was never into babies at all until she had her own, but as she predicted, she does like THAT one.)

    I think the "you're going to eat my cake" line might work pretty well on one boy I might try it on... as long as he isn't really hoping for actual dessert that night. (Oh but what am I saying? He wants a HEAD MASSAGE. I mean, look at the time!)

    flightless

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  16. Humans don't optimize for making as many babies as possible. We know what a species that does that comes out looking like --the trade name is "r strategists" -- mammalian versions pop out 6-8 offspring at a time, once or twice a year, give them a few weeks' care and push them out of the den. Invertebrate versions do even better, making tens of thousands of offspring per pop and giving them no care at all.

    Humans optimize for raising a few babies successfully to adulthood ("k strategy"), which involves very different tactics. Optimal k-strategy childrearing may demand limited numbers of offspring well spaced out, non-breeding helper adults, lifespans well past the end of reproductive capability permitting grandparental care.... it's a very different scenario. Pop evo-psych often seems to assume we're r strategists, which is crazy.

    Homosexuality could be a non-selected trait or a side effect of some other selected trait, but it could also be an effective adaptation to reduce the number of breeding individuals in a group. Sometimes the best way to get copies of your genes into the next generation is not via your own offspring but via your relatives' offspring. Many species have non-breeding helpers; perhaps human non-breeding helpers tend to be homosexual because that preserves the important social roles of sexuality, or simply because selection happened to find homosexuality an easier way to promote non-procreation than asexuality.

    I also think that pop evo-psych tends to ignore the huge role humans play in *keeping each other alive.* Having sex with you could be a total evolutionary win even if we never procreate, if that means you feed me or comfort me or stick around me when the jaguars are hunting. (There is solid evidence that young female chimpanzees moving into a new group use sex in exactly this way--they are not fertile, but they have sex, and it helps get them integrated into the new community. Since lone chimps are at very high risk of death, this is an important role for sex. It won't be the same in humans but *some* survival role of sex seems quite likely.)

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  17. Firstly, this is frickin' hilarious. Love it.

    You are spot on throughout, particularly with the babies thing. Let's not forget the wonderful people that tell girls who don't want kids "Ah, you'll change your mind when you've got them/when you're older/at some arbitrary indefinite point in the future meaning I can never be wrong about this". Why, I oughta...

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  18. An addendum to Point 2 means that a yes doesn't REALLY need to mean yes, as long as it's said. Doesn't matter how much gouging and coercion it took; as long as the person says yes, it counts as "consensual sex they weren't into" rather than actual, you know. ABUSE.

    I unfortunately have encountered that as well.

    --Rogan

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  19. As someone who is often responsible for other people's children, can I point out that "child in immediate danger" is not "minor?" It's a major emergency, with big flashing letters. It's a lot easier to stay calm when you can't find your car than it is to stay calm when you can't find a child.

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  20. An addendum to Point 2 means that a yes doesn't REALLY need to mean yes, as long as it's said. Doesn't matter how much gouging and coercion it took; as long as the person says yes, it counts as "consensual sex they weren't into" rather than actual, you know. ABUSE.

    I unfortunately have encountered that as well.


    Ugh. As someone who has, regrettably, been nagged into unwanted sex before... I feel you. It may not be rape, but it sure ain't cool.

    To be fair, sometimes the things people enjoy change. Much like the lady who wrote the letter, I didn't enjoy receiving oral sex for quite some time. I knew my husband enjoyed giving it, though, so every now and then when the stars were aligned, I would agree to it. Imagine my surprise when one time, I not only liked it, but REALLY liked it? I'm still only occasionally in the mood for it, but when I am, it's great. So I can sort of understand the advice to keep trying it... but only if you feel ok with it, and only if it's something you want to experiment more with.

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  21. ""She said, 'That orgasm was so intense, my eyes rolled so far back into my head that I could see my insides!""

    I once had a girl say that her orgasms were such that her brain literally lost the ability to make noise. No problem. But then she said "the way the human brain works, when women really orgasm they can't make noise. That's why loud women are faking it." At that point you've crossed the line from talking about yourself to giving bullshit. When I called her out on it? "Why are you denying my experience?" Hun, just because you were in a plane doesn't mean that gravity stopped working while you flew from LA to New York.

    I feel like the same thing here. If a girl said that to me I'd probably respond with "If that had happened you'd have not just strained but torn several key muscles in your eyeball, and in addition you would have to have holes in your skull for that to work because it's not like the lightbulb that shows you have an idea is real."

    "A girl once said to me, 'it's like you're scraping the back of my brain!""

    ... what the fuck.

    "Then she leaned over and whispered in my ear, 'For dessert, you're going to eat my cake.'"

    "But you *know* I prefer pie..."

    ""Out of nowhere, she straddled me, beat her chest, and made the Tarzan call.""

    ... that sounds like one of those stories of weird sex, not sexy sex. "Dude, this one time this girl just straddled me, beat her chest, and made the tarzan call." "LOL WTF REALLY?"

    ""She made me breakfast in the morning. She said 'Good morning, babe' and gave me two egg-and-cheese breakfast sandwiches. I had a boner from here to Africa.""

    I loved when my gf brought up some scones she made in the morning and some OJ. I'm not a morning person and she is, plus her breakfasts are delicious. Did they make me want to have sex with her? Well it wasn't arousing (though they were pretty good scones). It made me feel like she cared about me though...

    "Or it just proves to him that you're a strong, capable woman. The entire article is like this; they name a positive characteristic as something that guys like, then say that it would also be a positive characteristic in a mother, and that's why guys like it. I'm not sure if I can put a name to this logic; it's just... dopey. It's an unnecessary, unsupported extra step."

    The thing is, it's true. A good mother is smart and thinks on her feat.

    I really like though that the woman's job when faced with a predator (there are no predators I'm aware of, having studied animal biology, that would attack a human unprovoked in ordinary circumstances) is to RUN AWAY. Um... likely the woman that a man would prefer to have would be the one who picked up the sharpened stick and maimed the fucker for even daring to threaten the child they had. I'm pretty sure no man I know has the attitude of "I wish my gf would let me do all the work."

    "The only reason to desperately distract your partner with sex instead of saying "no" is that you're afraid something bad would happen if you said "no.""

    Being rejected is hurtful... so I disagree with this sentence.

    "It's important that "no means no" isn't just about rape. For two reasons:"

    One thing well established in a post on masculinity over at NSWATM (that may not make it into mainstream because it's kind of... touchy) is the concept of compromise in bed. Maybe you don't enjoy giving blowjobs but your guys likes it so you do it anyways. That's kind of the basis of a healthy sexual relationship just like "I'm not a huge fan of italian food but my boyfriend loves it so on his birthday I made a lasagna."

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