Monday, January 31, 2011

Zero-sum gender.

Rowdy mentioned to a coworker that I have more power tools than he does. "Wow," the coworker said, "doesn't that kinda challenge your masculinity?"

In one sentence, so many layers!
1) Power tools are masculine. Owning power tools indicates, or perhaps causes, masculinity.
2) One would not expect a woman to do anything masculine.
3) If a woman is masculine, this makes her partner less masculine.
4) If a man isn't masculine, that's terrible.

All of which is particularly unfortunate considering that power tools are so useful. I didn't buy an electric drill to feel like I had a big swingin' cock (when I wanted that, I bought a big swingin' cock); I bought it because I was assembling furniture for my old apartment. Is it feminine to sleep on the floor?

But the interesting part for me is step 3. It's the idea that there's a limited amount of each gender role in a relationship, so if one partner is more masculine, the other must be more feminine. You see this a lot in the way certain people approach homosexuality--the idea that every lesbian relationship is butch/femme, or every gay relationship top/bottom. "Which one of you is the 'man'?" I think it even underlies more outright homophobia--how can you have a marriage or raise a child if you don't have people playing two distinct roles?

It's a bizarre extension of this thinking to be in a heterosexual relationship, but violate the unwritten rules just a tiny bit, and get "which one of you is the 'man'?"


Man I love strapping on a cock. It's not that I am or want to be a guy, just that it's nice to have the option from time to time. There's something fundamentally pleasing and satisfying, even comforting, about having a nice chunky piece of sexual equipment filling up my pants.

(I've always felt like this comic describes a fun way to be.)

It's not about dominance either, by the way. Having a cock does not make you automatically the top, as quite a few boys I know could tell you. I have had my cock ridden by a guy who was holding me down.

And I love having a boyfriend who is nearly as enthused as I am about the whole subject. He has a little hesitancy about the physical implications of playing with my cock, which is understandable, but not about the "oh no, if I enjoy having sex with a girl, but it's the wrong kind of sex, then that's like gay sex, which might make me gay, which would be terrible."

Then again, I'm amazed at the things Rowdy actually enjoys that in other relationships I would hope to "get away with" at best. Sexual perversion, of course, but also my enduring lack of competence or enthusiasm in the realm of femininity. Finding out that he actually thinks I look good with no makeup in cargo pants, rather than just putting up with it when I'm too "lazy" to get into drag proper feminine attire, is such a "you can have chocolate every day" feeling. Also, farting: not a dealbreaker. (Don't laugh; "girls don't fart" is a fucking issue. God knows how many belly cramps we've suffered holding it in over the years.)

Last night Rowdy and I were watching porn and cuddling and he was alternating between stroking my cock and playing with my pussy, and all I could think was, shit, what the hell deodorant should I be wearing?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Buying deodorant etc.

Buying deodorant; or, how to drive yourself completely insane via the most trivial interactions of popular culture and feminist thought.

I am stinky! My hippie all-natural deodorant without those chemicals that my dad says cause Alzheimer's (scientific evidence is inconclusive) does not effectively unstinkify and I think people are noticing! As a girl I get treated bad if I'm not pretty and this smell is very not pretty! This is worth risking my health over! Time to buy some Alzheimer's deodorant!

Okay, I'm in the drugstore, I'm at the deodorant aisle, and... it's cut in half. Everything on the left is black and red and dark blue, and everything on the right is pink and purple and pale blue. I don't have to be told which one is for me, or why they've been divided visually this way and not by brand or antiperspirant/deodorant-only or gel/stick/spray.

I pick up some bottles and sniff them, and I can tell with my eyes closed, too. The left-side deodorants are all citrusy or spicy; the right-side ones are all flowery or powdery. (A couple of the left-side ones give me unexpected sense memories. Old Spice was like a goddamn cascade of ex-boyfriends in a bottle.) Maybe this makes some sense, because males and females do smell a little different, so maybe these are more complementary scents to our natural odors? Yeah, that's a stretch.

So the extremely First World Problem that faces me: if I buy a men's deodorant, will people notice that I smell like a man and think I'm weird? Can you get in trouble for being cross-deodorized? But if I buy a women's deodorant, aren't I just buying into the system? I think I like the men's deodorants more, but is it really the smells I like or is it the association with masculinity which is in turn associated with superiority? Oh fuck it, are there any neutral deodorants here?

There aren't.

In the end, I get Arm & Hammer deodorant, which I think is a men's brand--it's on the left--but is sort of middley, with an orange bottle and an air-freshener-y smell. (Also I have this vague idea that anything with Arm & Hammer in it must work extra well because baking soda is magical or something.) I think I can live with this.

Oh fuck, I just went to the website and the slogan on it is "All The Muscle A Man Needs." There's a picture of a veiny man's bicep too. It fooled me in the store, but no, I am definitely not invited to use this deodorant.

All I want to do is make my armpits less stinky, and I can't do it without negotiating gender in a million ridiculous ways.

Punnett squares.

In my tenth grade biology class, while we were learning about genetics, our teacher gave us an interesting take-home assignment. It was a list of genetic traits where the inheritance is relatively simple in humans--attached vs. unattached earlobes, curlable vs. uncurlable tongue, that kind of thing--and instructions to document which we had and which each of our parents had.

The awkwardness this might cause adopted kids, or kids who had no contact with one parent, was evident at the time and the teacher did kind of skate around it with a "well, just list your traits if there's, like, an issue." But I didn't realize until just now why else it might have been a bad idea.

"Mommy, if you're blood type A, and daddy is type O, why am I type AB?"

Whatever it is that you might find out about your family, that's a hell of a way to find out.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Supply-Side Rape Prevention.

I've posted quite a few times (1, 2, 3, and more) on why the commonly given "rape prevention" advice is mostly ineffective, sexist, and often cruel. I'm well covered on cursing the darkness. In this post, let's talk about how to light a candle.

The usual feminist response to the rape prevention thing is something on the order of this perennial list--that potential rapists, rather than potential victims, should be responsible for preventing rape. And I agree, but the message has to go beyond "hey! don't rape people!"

A certain proportion of rapists are just monsters. They've got some kind of damage way deep down that's beyond the reach of polite society and well-meaning attempts at education and rehabilitation; their behavior and thought patterns are completely beyond the understanding, much less the influence, of decent people. All we can do is lock them up. I believe that "just monsters" make up a minority of rapists. The rest are people--people who did a horrible, inexcusable thing, but not an unfathomable one. They acted for reasons that made sense at the time, and it's possible for us to suss out what that sense was, and thereby figure out how to make it not make sense the next time.

Here are some steps--they're broad and philosophical and lack "who's going to do this and how" detail, but at least they go beyond "don't leave the house after dark!" or "remember not to rape anyone!"--that make sense to me. I'd love to hear more in the comments.

Redefine "rape" in the public discourse.
Jump-out-of-the-bushes stranger rape is largely the purview of the "just monsters." But it's also far, far less common than boyfriend-won't-take-no rape. When we call the second kind "gray rape" or "date rape" or mutter even more half-assed things about how it's kinda sorta violating her boundaries and kinda sorta not very nice, we let that boyfriend feel a lot better about himself. I've heard more than one rape victim comment that her rapist felt he was doing her a favor by protecting her from all the real rapists out there.

When we treat rapes between acquaintances and in relationships as rape-rape--in the news, in the legal system, in our conversations--we reinforce the idea that they're just as wrong and shocking as jumping out of the bushes. When we can call domestic violence "violence" without qualification, we send the message that people who do this aren't just sorta criminals. "You have no more right to your partner's body than you do to a random stranger" is a message our society needs.

This PSA (note: extremely violent video) is a great example of sending that message.

Redefine "sex."
What is sex, really? It's not a penis going into a vagina. Nor is it a penis going into an orifice. Nor is it the touching of sexual organs. Sex is the pleasure obtained from arousal and intimacy. Without that, it's a gynecologist appointment.

So sticking your dick in someone means nothing. Gets you nothing. Absent the arousal and intimacy, it's just an unhygienic gynecologist appointment. Not only is sticking yourself in someone not right to do without their enthusiastic participation, it's not even sex. Most of things a person would really want from sex that they couldn't get from masturbation--emotional comfort, ego reinforcement, social status, physical closeness--are not things you can take by force. I would like to spread the meme that rape isn't getting laid by unethical means, it's not getting laid at all.

Rewrite the sexual script.
The paradigm of "women trade sex to men for affection/favors/security/etc." is an extremely dangerous one. Because it posits that women never really want sex, it makes the bright line of "no, this time I really don't want it" fuzzy, as if this were merely a breakdown in the bargaining process. It makes women seem unreasonable or even greedy for refusing sex when they've been properly "compensated" (see also: PUA culture) and makes men feel that sex with a woman who doesn't want sex isn't fundamentally abnormal.

And this is why being extremely public about being an extremely horny woman is fighting rape.

Less frivolously (not that I think that's frivolous, actually) we need to get rid of the idea of sex as a tradeable commodity. Thinking about sex in terms of commerce leads to thinking about what you're "owed," and rape as a remedy for getting a bad deal. Better to think of it as an activity, a partner sport; nobody owes you the chance to be their tennis partner, almost nobody plays tennis for some secret ulterior reason besides enjoying tennis, and nobody really wants to play tennis with a partner who doesn't have their heart in it.

Stop blaming victims.
Not just because it's cruel and wrong. Because when you do it, potential rapists are listening. Saying "she was taking a big risk, being drunk and in that clothing" doesn't just hurt her and trivialize the crime against her. It also says "hey everybody, women who are drunk and dressed like this are up for grabs."

Treat men like people.
Very often, men are talked about like they're animals who can't control themselves sexually. Women are taught how to work around men like they're a force of nature, like they can never be trusted. Men are taught that it's in their nature to take whatever they can get when it comes to sex. Again, the problem isn't just that it's wrong, but that some men will take these messages to heart, and believe that decency isn't expected of them. (There's also a secondary problem that people who aren't men may believe they could never be rapists because that's a man thing.)

I would like to live in a world where rape is always treated as an exception. Where the phrasing isn't "a man lost control of himself and" but "a person decided to." Where it's believed that a man's natural instinct is to cooperate with others for mutual survival, rather than to spread the seed at all costs. Where anti-rape activism never falls into "men vs. women" but is quite clearly "society vs. rape." Where men aren't let off the hook when they rape, and also where men are credited with generally not wanting to in the first place.

There's a lot more to say on this topic. How do you convince people not to rape, without antagonizing or alienating them? How do you create a pro-man, pro-woman, pro-sex, anti-rape culture?


I told my family about being poly. I didn't mention being kinky and I didn't get into gritty details--lots of "the three of us go out together, like a family!" not so much group sex and "well, it's not just us three exactly"--but I let them know that Sprite exists, at least.

My dad was fine with it, mostly because he and I long struck a "we're both adults and there's no judgement here, but it would be best if we didn't share details" pact. He went "huh, okay" and moved on.

My mom went through all five stages of grief, each of which might have been upsetting to me at an earlier age, but were just amusing at this point:

Denial. "Well, lots of people date around casually."
Anger. "You're better than this! I don't want you to diminish yourself!"
Bargaining. "Okay, which one of you is really his girlfriend?"
Depression. "If you do this you're never going to have a real relationship and never have a family and I'm just so worried about your future now."
And finally, a halfhearted acceptance. "Well, I guess I can't stop you, can I?"

The funny part now, though, is that every time I bring up my relationships--again, not in an outrageous way, just a "oh, Sprite hates this cold weather" way--my mom just freezes. It's like I used a racial slur and she's trying to not make a scene but she can't quite stifle her outrage. Just mentioning Rowdy or Sprite's existence brings any lively conversation to an instant "Oh. Fine. Whatever."

I suppose in her hilariously rude way she is being decent. She still talks to me (yay?) and I haven't been written out of any wills or crossed off any Bar Mitzvah guest lists. She doesn't even try to argue about it that much.

On the whole I'm relieved, just because I don't have to tell weird little lies of omission to my family all the time. Having a dirty secret can be sort of fun sometimes, but ultimately it's wonderful to feel like you have nothing to hide.

Well, not as much, anyway.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cosmo on rape--the perfect shitstorm.

I can't believe I didn't write about this article before.

From Cosmopolitan: A New Kind of Date Rape
Executive summary: rape is only rape if a total stranger jumps out of the bushes at you with a knife. If someone only forces you to have sex against your will, that's sort of a gray area and who can really judge?

After the dance, they went to Kevin’s room and, eventually, started making out. She told him flat out that she didn’t want it to proceed to sex, and he said okay. But in a few minutes, he had pushed her down on the couch and positioned himself on top of her.
“No. Stop,” she said softly — too softly, she later told herself. When he ignored her and entered her anyway, she tensed up and tried to go numb until it was over. He fell asleep afterward, and she left for her dorm, “having this dirty feeling of not knowing what to do or who to tell or whether it was my fault.” While it felt like rape to her — she had not wanted to have sex with Kevin — she was not sure if that’s what anyone else would call it.
[...]Alicia’s “gray area” experience is something that is becoming so common, it has earned its own moniker: gray rape. It refers to sex that falls somewhere between consent and denial and is even more confusing than date rape because often both parties are unsure of who wanted what.

But he wasn't unsure. "She told him flat out that she didn't want it to proceed to sex, and he said okay." And then she said "no." And then she was tensed and frozen the entire time it was going on. Does failure to hire a fucking marching band to create and perform an original composition entitled "NO I DO NOT WANT SEX" constitute consent?

This isn't even about the (extremely reasonable, thank you) belief that sex should be a matter of "yes" rather than "not no." She said no multiple times and he acknowledged understanding. Don't give me this "unsure." If he was unsure, he was ignoring so many signals that I don't even care. And that makes this not gray-rape, but your plain garden variety rape-rape.

And it’s a surprisingly common occurrence. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 1 in 5 college women will be raped at some point during a five-year college career; that about 9 out of 10 times, the victim will know her assailant; and that half of all victims will not call what happened rape. Sixty-two percent of female rape victims in general say they were assaulted by someone they knew, which includes dates, acquaintances, and random hookups.
Fun fact: most non-sexual physical assaults are between people who know each other. Does that make it a "gray beating"?

And as for not calling what happened "rape," well, you're really helping that situation, Cosmo. But even without articles like this, there are reasons someone wouldn't want to use that word. Labeling yourself "a rape victim" can feel sullying and disempowering, especially if you didn't report it, or if it didn't involve physical brutality, or if you're a man, or if you're gay, or if you think you somehow deserved or encouraged it. The fact that the label is uncomfortable does not necessarily mean it doesn't fit.

Many experts feel that gray rape is in fact often a consequence of today’s hookup culture: lots of partying and flirting, plenty of alcohol, and ironically, the idea that women can be just as bold and adventurous about sex as men are. How can something so potentially empowering become so damaging? Cosmo investigates.
Many experts feel that no, you're a poopyhead. These many experts are so accommodating.

Other than the obvious fact that sluts must be punished for their filthy ways, you'd think that women being more sexually aggressive would make "innocent misunderstanding" rape less common. If you expect women to be demure, then maybe you're expecting a consent that sounds like "no no no okay maybe." But if you're used to women being aggressive, then you're used to consent being more like "I want to fuck you now." In an atmosphere where women ask for what they want, it ought to be a lot easier to tell when they're not asking for it.

A generation ago, it was easier for men and women to understand what constituted rape because the social rules were clearer. Men were supposed to be the ones coming on to women, and women were said to be looking for relationships, not casual sex.
If the social rules are that women mustn't go looking for sex, then this blurs the line between "she's saying no because that's what women do, so they won't seem slutty" and "she's saying no because really, no."

Shari Rosen, a media recruiter in New York City, found that out on a business trip to Los Angeles. She and a coworker met a man in the bar of the hotel where they were staying. They ended up going with the man to a party, and then he and Shari returned to the hotel. On the way in, he kissed her deeply. They had a few more drinks at the hotel bar, and then he asked if she wanted to go to his hotel room to see some family photos.
She went to his room but after a few minutes said she needed to go. He pinned her on the bed and, according to Shari, sexually assaulted her. She struggled with him and managed to escape. Shari reported the incident to police but didn’t press charges.

How the hell is this gray? He pinned her down! Dear readers: if you have to physically restrain a struggling person to do something to them, and they have not very specifically arranged this in advance, they are probably not consenting to it.

I guess the "gray" comes from going up to his room. But I'm pretty sure this doesn't constitute consent to sex. More likely it comes from not having a polite way to say no to "come on, it's just some photos, how paranoid are you that you won't even look at some goddamn photos."

Anthony Moniello, 24, a radio personality for ESPN, says, “I’ve had girls tell me ‘I don’t have sex on the first night.’ And I say, ‘That’s fine, I respect that. Mind if I play with you a little bit?’ A girl will say no, she doesn’t mind, then she’ll get so hot, she’ll say, ‘Let’s do it.’ That’s the scariest part. Is it then my responsibility to say no?”
That's actually a fair question, and I'd say no (unless she's very drunk or high). It might be nice to remind her "you said you don't do this; are you going to regret it?", or even to just say you don't want to, but it's not rape if you don't. People can change their minds, and as long as that's communicated by saying "let's do it" rather than by not refusing as loudly, that's okay.

The psychological effects of what a victim did or didn’t do can last for years.
Oh those wacky victims, always victimizing themselves with nobody else in the room.

Sarah Belanger, 28, a communications specialist who works in Boston, has been trying to find a middle ground in her own life. “If you make the choice to leave the bar with the guy, then you are also creating the opportunity for something to go wrong,” she says. “I think that is the point that needs to be driven home to everyone who participates in the hookup culture. Yes, you can practice safe sex. Yes, you can have casual sex without strings. But this behavior carries a risk.”
I think what she's saying is that you shouldn't leave the bar with someone unless you're sure you want to fuck them, because like it or not that's what's coming.

I just have one question about this attitude: does this include anal? Apparently it's established that agreeing to "can I walk you home?" or "want to come up and see my albums?" is exactly the same thing as agreeing to oral, manual, and vaginal sex. But I'm just not that into anal, even with people I'm into. How do I communicate this in "you have to expect him to be a rapist"-Land?

Or what about lying on my arm? Sometimes people lie on my arm funny and it gets all numb and I have to ask them to move. Does going home with a guy constitute consent for him to lie on my arm? I'm not just being offensively facetious here. I'm trying to demonstrate how even the most trivial interactions require continuous and explicit communication. If getting close to a guy meant giving blanket consent to anything he could possibly think of, I'd never get close to a guy at all, because my fingers might drop off.

The article closes with some decent advice--don't try to compromise on "okay, just a little sex" with a guy who's pressuring you, know your rights under the law, communicate clearly. And some not-decent advice--don't get drunk, ever, because it's just not safe for a little lady.

But ultimately I'm just amazed someone could write an article about "gray rape" and not realize that was a, er, fully-saturated bad idea. There may exist situations where a person doesn't want sex but their partner has no way to know that, where for some reason "yes" really meant "no," but I don't see any of that in this article. All I see is situations where "no" should have meant "no," and there's nothing "gray" about it.

Zoe and Wash.

In the sci-fi series Firefly, two of the main characters--tough-girl first mate Zoe and goofy pilot Wash--are married to each other. They start the series as a long-married couple and they finish it married. They're obviously nuts about each other and they have plenty of sex, and they don't go through any drama with their relationship.

Or rather, they go through lots of drama--attacks by crazed space barbarians and traitorous space pirates and the evil space empire--but their relationship is stable through it all. The series isn't about their relationship; it's about wacky space action and they just happen to be happily married.

(I acknowledge that this is probably because the series didn't run long enough for Joss Whedon to put them through the most miserable, wrenching breakup imaginable, and he probably only kept them together so long so it would hurt more. But let's work with what's on the screen, not what we damn well know was coming.)

Zoe and Wash's marriage made me realize how rare this is in fiction--the depiction of a stable couple as still being interesting people. So often, the formation of a couple is the end of the story--our hero got the girl, credits roll. It's rare enough to see "our hero got the girl, but they still have space pirates to fight," much less "our hero got the girl before the story even started, but they still have space pirates to fight." (It's also significant that Zoe and Wash got together because they were attracted to each other, not because Wash was so good at fighting space pirates that he "got" Zoe.) The idea that life and struggle don't culminate in love, but that your story continues after even you fall in love, is very rarely found in Hollywood.

And it's too bad, because in real life, relationships are not the end. The credits don't roll and you don't get to enter your high score. Life doesn't get magically easier or simpler, and the relationship itself is an ongoing process. Love becomes not a reward that you can sit back and enjoy, but a part of your life. (Oh, and people in relationships still have sex like whoa.) So you're in love, true lasting love; good for you, but together and on your own, you've still got a hell of a lot of battles left to fight.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

How to make your own simple strap-on harness: a photo guide!

First of all, to establish my dorky maker cred (as if that needed doing), this is the bed I sleep in every night:

Oh yeah--it lights up.

It lights up by remote control.

Anyway. Let's get to the fun part. Er, the part where you have fun.

How To Make a Thong-style Strap-on Harness

All you need is:
84 inches of 1-inch-wide nylon webbing

Obviously this could change with body size and shape, but the design is very adjustable, so the measurements I used should fit most people with a 42-inch waist or under.

Fittings for the webbing (you can get these at Strapworks and similar retailers):
2 side-release buckles
3 friction slides
1 O-ring

I used a 2-inch-diameter ring, which holds smaller dildos snugly, but if you want to wield a very girthy cock you might have to go up a little in size.

The only tools I used were a lighter and a needle and thread.

Cut the nylon webbing into four segments:
45 inches for the waistband
25 inches for the crotch strap
Two 7-inch stubs for the buckles

Use the flame from a lighter or candle to sear off the edges to keep them from fraying. Be careful; one pass through the flame does it. Extended toasting will release nasty fumes and melted nylon, which could give you a horrible burn, which I learned the hard way.

Stitch the end of the crotch strap to the center of the waistband. A sewing machine would be nice for this, but I just stitched it by hand, sewing a box around all four sides of the overlap as well as an "X" shape inside. For comfort, this should be on the outside of the waistband, away from your skin.

Attach a "male" buckle half and a slide to each end of the waistband. Keep in mind with each of these steps which side of the waistband will be toward your skin; the view here is how it should look from the outside.

Use the third slide to attach the free end of the crotch strap to the O-ring.

Take each of the two stubs, fold about an inch over the O-ring, and sew it in place.

Attach the "female" buckle ends to the other ends of the stumps, again folding over and sewing in place.

(The photos for this section didn't come out well, but they should give you a general idea of where the fittings go, at least.)

With the ring facing forwards, just click the buckles shut over your hips. Fuss with all three slides to get it symmetrical and snug.
The front should look like this:

And the back like this:

Now unbuckle. Get a dildo with a broad base or "balls" on it, thread it through the ring, buckle back up, and ride 'em, cowboy.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Maker Love.

"I reject your cuddles and substitute my own!"

It's one thing to merely quote Adam Savage, or even the parallel universe Adam Savage who only talks about cuddles. ("Today, on Cuddlebusters--is it possible to cuddle with a cuddler while cuddling? And later: Grant, Tori, and Kari cuddle for science!") It's another, far awesomer thing to do so after playing with sex toys you built yourself.

Wearing a strap-on harness makes me feel all cool and powerful anyway, but wearing a strap-on harness that I built, and therefore is perfectly fitted to my body and adjustable in exactly the ways I want, makes me feel like a goddamn stud.

Quick note on fattedness.

Like most fat people, I'm not fat because I take in more calories than I burn. I'm fat because I take in the same amount of calories that I burn. A 170-pound woman with a stable weight eats only about one slice of bread more than a 120-pound woman of the same activity level with a stable weight. I'm not 170 pounds because I overeat, but because I eat, literally, exactly as much as I need to.

Whether I should start eating less than I need is a complicated question and one I go back and forth on. But it's not a matter of merely "stopping overeating."

The decision to diet is not to "eat healthy." It's the nontrivial question of whether to eat deliberately unhealthy in hopes of a long-term tradeoff.

(The terminology question of how to say I'm not the same height-weight ratio as the ladies in the magazines always drives me nuts. "Overweight" implies that there's some Platonic ideal Holly whom I'm fatter than. Things like "chubby" are evasive and imply I'm ashamed of myself. [And I'm really not "curvy." I'm built less like the Venus of Willendorf, more like a miniature linebacker.] So I go with "fat," even though I worry that it makes me sound fat-fat, headless ladies in news reports fat, when I'm not even a plus size. But getting too pointed about "hey, I'm not even a plus size!" is kinda undercutting to people who are, and aren't somehow worse than me. So, yeah, "fat.")

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Atlantic on: Why porn proves sex is grim and miserable!

This is one of those links that have been peristalsing their way around the blogosphere for a little bit: Hard Core: The new world of porn is revealing eternal truths about men and women. Writer Natasha Vargas-Cooper has a bit of a rambling problem and this really didn't need to be a four-page article, but the gist of it is that porn is grim and nasty because male sexuality is grim and nasty. And the gist of my response is "well, sometimes, but it doesn't have to be and it's nicer when it's not."

There, I saved you four pages. Let's get wordy anyway, and pull some quotes.

As recently as 15 years ago, if somebody wanted vivid depictions of, say, two men simultaneously performing anal penetration on the same woman, securing such a delicacy would require substantial effort because the pornographic repertoire was still limited by the costs and imprecision of distribution. Leaving aside matters of taste and propriety, just how big an audience of horny derelicts or hurried businessmen would wriggle into a Pussycat Theater, with its sticky floors, and, in the company of others, watch a double-anal double feature?
VCRs weren't news in 1996. Double anal definitely wasn't news in 1996. But more to her point, double anal isn't a form of torture. It's definitely a challenge, it's not something I'm up for myself, but it's a sex act. It's arousing because it's a whole lot of dick in not a lot of hole, not because it's the worst thing you can possibly do to a woman.

Or, on another, stickier level, it's degrading, but it's supposed to be hot-degrading, not just unhappy. I'm pretty sure the intended mental image is of the woman afterwards going "ooh, those boys just used me, mmm," not of her going "oh God I'm disgusting and I hate myself" and curling into the fetal position.

Finally: the fact that double anal wasn't a big seller back when porn had less selection suggests that it's not a majority interest. If every man secretly wanted double anal, double anal would have been the naughty nurses of its day.

So, perhaps it’s no surprise that, for those who crave the more drastic masturbatory aid, the Internet offers easy access to a Grand Guignol of the outright bizarre (Midget Porn, Clown Porn, Girl-Fight Gang-Bang Porn). What is surprising is what now constitutes widely available, routine stuff in the major porn portals: episodes of men—or groups of men—having sex with women who are seven months pregnant; the ho-hum of husbands filming their scrawny white wives having sex with paunchy black men in budget motels; simulations of father-daughter (or mother-daughter) incest; and of course, a fixture on any well-trafficked site: double anal.
These aren't really "routine"; they exist, but I'm pretty sure that the genre of "conventionally attractive young women shimmy around naked and have vanilla sex" is still King Of The Porns.

Anyway, what's Grand Guignol about diversity? The porn industry certainly doesn't handle the subject with great sensitivity, but it's not intrinsically bizarre or gruesome for a pregnant woman or a little person to have sex, or for people to play around with cuckoldry or roleplay. It seems the writer is confusing "different types of sex" with "darker and nastier sex."

MEN, SO THE CONVENTIONAL wisdom goes, tend to desire more than women are willing to give them sexually. The granting of sex is the most powerful weapon women possess in their struggle with men. Yet in each new sexual negotiation a woman has with a man, she not only spends down that capital, she begins at a disadvantage, because the potential losses are always greater for her. A failed or even successful single encounter can be life-altering. Whatever “social construct” you might impose upon the whole matter, nature imposes much more rigorous consequences on women than on men.
I impose the social construct of condoms with backup willingness to use the morning-after pill or abort. Pow. Then I impose the reality that people can't even tell what my sexual history is, let alone perceive how much "capital" I've "lost," whatever that even means. Ka-bam.

And as for my vagina as a "weapon" to be "granted" in the "struggle"... If I did have magical feminine wiles that let me manipulate men, you know what I'd use them for? Getting laid.

But the reactionary political correctness of the 1990s put forth a proposition even more disastrous to women than free love: sexual equality.

This is an intellectual swindle that leads women to misjudge male sexuality, which they do at their own emotional and physical peril. Male desire is not a malleable entity that can be constructed through politics, language, or media. Sexuality is not neutral. A warring dynamic based on power and subjugation has always existed between men and women, and the egalitarian view of sex, with its utopian pretensions, offers little insight into the typical male psyche.
So, male readers, I have a question. Is the desire to subjugate and degrade women something that just naturally sets in around the time the deep voice and body hair get going? Do you have boyhood memories of waking up with unexpectedly sticky sheets and a sudden urge to see a woman devastated for your pleasure?

Because if so, I'm moving to a very small island.

Internet porn, on the other hand, shows us an unvarnished (albeit partial) view of male sexuality as an often dark force streaked with aggression.
And what do these dark, aggressive men want? Mostly to see pretty girls enjoying sex. OH THE DARKNESS.

You could be poking around for some no-frills Web clips of amateur couples doing it missionary style, but easily and rapidly you slide into footage of two women simultaneously working their crotches on opposing ends of a double-sided dildo, and then all of a sudden you’re at a teenage-fisting Web site.
Wow, that sounds exactly like that time I smoked a little weed with my friends, and the next day I was a homeless heroin addict with suppurating abscesses and a felony warrant.

Oh, and I see lesbian sex is intrinsically dirtier than straight sex.

But how is sex, as a human experience, anything less than extreme? Not the kind of sex (or lack thereof) that occurs in marriages that double as domestic gulags. Or what 30-somethings do to each other in the second year of their “serious relationship.” But the sex that occurs in between relationships—or overlaps with relationships—where the buffers of intimacy or familiarity do not exist: the raw, unpracticed sort.
Sex in relationships? That's laughable! Let's just toss that whole idea out.

At the heart of human sexuality, at least human sexuality involving men, lies what Freud identified in Totem and Taboo as “emotional ambivalence”—the simultaneous love and hate of the object of one’s sexual affection. From that ambivalence springs the aggressive, hostile, and humiliating components of male sexual arousal.
I don't believe this. No snark even. I just flat don't believe that guys in general hate the women they sleep with. That's not a normal dynamic.

Sometimes, man... sometimes I'll be having sex and I'll look up (down, back, in the mirror, behind the robotic octopus) at the guy and he's just smiling. Just grinning like an idiot that he's getting laid. There's no secret hatred. No dark psychodrama. Just "Dude, there's a cute chick on my cock! How awesome is that? Dude!"

Never was this made plainer to me than during a one-night stand with a man I had actually known for quite a while. [...]We quickly progressed to his bed, and things did not go well. He couldn’t stay aroused. [...]in a moment of exasperation, he asked if we could have anal sex. I asked why[...] He answered, almost without thought, “Because that’s the only thing that will make you uncomfortable.” This was, perhaps, the greatest moment of sexual honesty I’ve ever experienced—and without hesitation, I complied. This encounter proves an unpleasant fact that does not fit the feminist script on sexuality: pleasure and displeasure wrap around each other like two snakes.
I think you could use this same logic to justify poo-eating as everyone's deep dark desire. Hey, you wanna be really uncomfortable?

But the author's on to something here. Sometimes, a certain irreconcilable, truly nasty darkness is a part of sex, and sometimes even though it's not justifiable or even okay, it feels right. Sometimes sex is mean and cruel and wrong, and it's the hottest thing.

Other times, sex is so full of love that you're almost brought to tears, and it's the hottest thing.

Other times, sex is giddy and giggly, a silly experimental game you're playing with each other's bodies, and it's the hottest thing.

Other times, sex is muscular and striving, your bodies soaked with sweat from the sheer effort you're exerting on each other, and it's the hottest thing.

Sex is a lot of things. Don't point at your personal kinks and your general stereotype of what you think porn looks like, and tell me that's all of sex. Oh, and while you're at it, don't tell me about a sexual encounter that you participated in and you clearly got off big-time on and tell me that it was 100% about male sexuality.

Pornography neatly resolves the contradictions—in favor of men. They fuck with impunity. Women never dream of staying. And if, God forbid, the women get pregnant, well, they can be used in pregnant pornos and then in an episode of Exploited Moms. What a marvelous means of delving into the heads of men.
It's pretty sad to imagine that men never want to be in relationships and never want to have families. No, wait, it's very, extremely, super, ridiculously sad. And I wonder what on Earth would make someone think this was the natural order of things. And I really wonder what on Earth would make someone think this is the natural order of things, and keep having sex with men.

For someone who praises stark "sexual honesty," the author is remarkably obtuse about what she gets out of sex with the horrible monsters that are men. If you're a masochist, lady, or if you like the idea of being used and discarded, or if you don't want a loving relationship yourself--own up.

ONE OF THE most punishing realities women face when they reach sexual maturity is that their maturity is (at least to many men) unsexy.
Now we're just in Wackyland. I don't even know what to say here. Dudes, you've just been upgraded from exploitative sadists to exploitative sadist pedophiles.

[Amateur sites like RedTube are] largely a grim parade of what women will do to satisfy men: young wives fingering themselves on the family couch, older wives offering themselves to their hubby’s Army buddies, aging moms in shabby corsets shoving their sagging rear ends into the camera.
If she hadn't grimmified the diction there, it'd be a party. Young women playing with themselves! Swinger ladies fucking hot guys in uniform! Women in corsets showing off their bodies! OH THE DARKITY DARK DARKNESS.

It goes on, but I've played into the ramble-a-thon enough already. At this point I'm just writing a disorganized response to a disorganized argument.

(Also, I have to go to work. And I got distracted from this entry by making a strapon harness--which looks and works great, except I burned myself. I was using a lighter to seal the ends of the nylon straps, and... I'm clumsy. Ow.)

It's a mess of an article, as writing and as thinking, never even mind the sexual politics. But if you do mind the sexual politics, all you get is the following:

1) Porn is always dark and miserable.
2) Therefore, male sexuality is always dark and cruel.
3) Therefore, sex is always grim and destructive.
4) Therefore, please publish me in "The Atlantic."

I didn't find it real insightful.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The card table paradigm.

Since the PUA post seems to be stirring discussion, I want to talk about just one small part of the whole wacky mindset: card tables.

There seems to be this idea that meat markets consist of women setting up card tables, which men then line up at and submit applications to receive sexual favors. The men make formal approaches, and the women then make the decision whether to accept or reject each man. Any woman present in a social situation without a male secort has her card table out, and any woman not rejecting a man's social overtures is at least considering accepting him as a sexual partner.

There is no, absolutely no, such thing as a "friend," or people who go to bars or parties to "enjoy themselves."

I'm not going to make a point-by-point rebuttal just now. Instead I'm just going to list how I met some of my partners.

-Long-term friends since high school, we turned out to have had long-term crushes on each other.
-We were assigned adjacent rooms in the dorm, and my roommate was horrible, so I took refuge in her room.
-He was an actor in one of my student films, and after the project was over we kept hanging out together.
-On OkCupid, he was my very highest ranked "match," so I sent him a message inviting him out for Phad Thai.
-We were members of the same online BDSM community, and started trading private messages that became increasingly more intimate.
-After talking to each other at a BDSM munch, we kept talking outside the venue after it closed, then decided to go home together.

If this just sounds like a big random pile of coincidences--good. It was. And yet they were deliberately encountered coincidences in a sense, because I made friends, met my dorm neighbors, worked on films, joined online and real communities, and so forth. In the course of living a full life, I happened to meet people, and in the course of meeting people I happened to discover sexual chemistry with quite a few of them.

Oh, and when I go out to a bar with a group of female friends, it's usually because I wanted to spend some time with those friends. FYI.

Monday, January 17, 2011

War of the sexes, with pretentious line breaks.

If we are at war

and men lose by falling in love

and women lose by making love

who would ever want to win?

Poly Morality.

"If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it's yours. If it doesn't, it never was."

I believe that. It's hard sometimes to reconcile with the toddler part of my brain, the part that can't distinguish "want" from "should have," but it's right, and I think ultimately it's inescapable. Having someone's love because they're not allowed to do anything else is as untenable as it is pointless.

I also believe love is about what you do, not what you don't do. If someone gives me kindness and affection and companionship and spectacular sex, what right does that give me to tell him what to do in the rest of his life? "You love me? Oh, that's wonderful. Don't take up fencing."

And I find in my own heart, what I feel for one doesn't diminish what I feel for another. Playing with one person never made me less horny for another, and being close to one never made me farther from another. To have multiple lovers seems as natural to me as having multiple friends--no one of them means exactly the same thing to you, but it would be ridiculous to say that means only one of them is "real."

It wouldn't be fair to say I think only polyamory is moral--certainly lots of people make a considered choice to only be with each other romantically and sexually, and hell, I've seen weirder things.

But I'm starting to think it's the only thing that's moral for me. It's not even about dating multiple people. It's about accepting that your partners are not your property, extensions of yourself, employees, or anything you can control or even fully understand. They're just people you happen to love.

I also believe that chosen families make for the best warmfuzzies.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Pick-up artist "Gunwitch" shot a woman in the face at a party. 20-year-old Amber Tripp was in critical condition at time of last news reports.

This wasn't some dude who had a few PUA books in his apartment and posted on a forum the one time. He was in The Game, he sold courses, he had followers. Still has followers. Nor was this some unrelated incident; according to totally unreliable Internet sources, he was touching Tripp inappropriately and she fought back and that's when he shot her.

His official website has been taken down, but his page at Fast Seduction is still up. I don't really want to go through it in detail now though. I mean, I'm sure it's full of total howlers of misogyny and social ineptitude and just plain wrongness, but fuck, he shot someone. It's hard to nitpick "hey, don't talk to people like that" when he's got problems more on the scale of "hey, don't shoot people in the face like that." (He's also not much of a writer, to put it mildly. No wonder he sold audio lessons.)

PUA is, fundamentally, all about women as Other. You've got you and other men, who are people, with thinking and decision-making much like your own--and then you've got women. They're something else. You need a special method to interact with women because the methods you use for interacting with people won't apply here. There's a lot of "women all do this and are all like this" talk. Hell, sometimes it's not even negative. Saying "women are generally rational and have their own sex drives" can be, with enough twisting, just another way of putting "women" outside the Venn diagram of "people".

And seeing someone as unlike yourself, as unlike human beings, makes it a lot easier to pull the trigger. The frustration and resentment of not getting laid when you really want it--that's something I experience too, frankly, but I can temper it with "well, I know how he feels, because sometimes I feel that way myself." Take away that empathy and you just get pure rage that a not-exactly-person would hurt the feelings of a person.

It's horrible, but not entirely surprising, that sometimes that rage and dehumanization would turn to violence.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Evolution, rape, ovulation, and how to get your opinions labeled "Science."

I should declare, before going on, that I just finished my period and haven't ovulated yet. So take the following with a grain of awareness that this is just my post-period-pre-ovulation opinion.

A reader sent me this link from Slate about how women have supposedly evolved to protect themselves from rape. It falls victim, severely, to the usual process of pop-evolutionary-psychology:

1. Get a little bit of data. A self-reported survey administered to fifteen undergrads (the portion of your 9AM class who returned the surveys) is more than enough.
2. Break that data down by sex. Make sure to never ever ever break it down by age, socioeconomic status, level of education, nationality, or any other way people could conceivably differ from each other.
(2b. Make sure that you treat gender as absolutely biologically fixed. Disregard the possibility of non-heterosexual subjects, or for bonus points, attempt to lump gay men in with straight women and vice versa.)
3. Search for differences and discard similarities. Ways in which men and women are alike could never be significant findings! For bonus points, design your study in a way that is incapable of finding similarities--only test one sex, or test two sexes in different ways without a control.
4. This is the creative step. A less brilliant researcher would find that, say, women have a higher pain tolerance than men (as tested by heat exposure to the skin), and publish a paper entitled "Gender and pain tolerance in heat exposure." You are better than that! Because you know how to speculate wildly! Make up a completely ludicrous story that could have produced the results you found, and present it as your conclusion. Be sure that this story references "cavemen," justifies stereotypical gender roles, and act like proof of your data constitutes proof of your story. In the example given above, your paper should be entitled "Women naturally adapted to cooking; cavewomen adapted to the heat of cooking fires while making their men a nice mastodon roast when the men were away doing important things."
5. Release your findings to the popular press with an air of "This is the proclamation of Science and henceforth must be considered objective truth." Promote the story you came up with as the headline and bury the boring ol' actual data.
6. Get read by millions of grandparents, chatty neighbors, and suburban ER nurses who are spectacularly susceptible to the appeal to authority fallacy, and respond to all objections with "but that's just your opinion, Holly, and this is Science."

So, the article.

Women, gather round, read carefully, because this gay man—who once, long ago, feigned sexual interest in your bodies—is about to shine a spotlight on some hidden truths about your natural design.
That's a heck of a weird opening. I thought opening a post with my menstrual cycle was weird, but at least I didn't get all "I used to act like I thought you were sexy, but no." Great beginning for a science article.

It's by no means a perfect system, but evolution has endowed you with some extraordinary, almost preternatural abilities to prevent your own sexual assault. And these abilities are especially pronounced when you're ovulating.
This is the main thesis of the article, and contains two different weirdnesses:
1. Wanting to prevent sexual assault is evolution, instead of, like, wanting not to be assaulted.
2. Being sexually assaulted when you weren't ovulating, well, that wouldn't be so bad.
Expect these two assumptions to go blissfully unquestioned as we continue.

There is some evidence that convicted rapists are physically unattractive, at least as judged by women on the basis of their mug shots.
There is also evidence that attractive men aren't as often convicted as rapists, because they have an easier time setting up date rapes and because juries figure it must've been consensual if he's all studly.

And spousal rape is most likely to occur when the husband finds out (or suspects) his wife has been unfaithful, suggesting that he is attempting to supplant another man's seed.
Or suggesting that he's, you know, angry and jealous and attempting to punish her or reassert his possession. I don't think you need to resort to speculative evolutionary psychology when psychology-psychology has you pretty well covered.

Furthermore, UCLA psychologist Neil Malamuth and his colleagues found that one-third of men admit that they would engage in some type of sexual coercion if they could be assured they would suffer no negative consequences, and many report having related masturbatory fantasies.
Since these men were certified to have no families, peers, schooling, culture, life experiences, or media exposure, clearly evolution is the only explanation.

We've heard the argument that men may have evolved to sexually assault women. Have women evolved to protect themselves from men?
The thing I can't help thinking here is, you know, male and female genomes cross over every generation. It's not like these are two species evolving in parallel. Obviously there are traits that are expressed in one sex more than the other--hello, vagina--but I would suspect that for a trait to evolve in only women is more complicated than evolving in all humans. For the physical traits, there tends to be at least vestigial crossover--female clitorises, male nipples--and a significant portion of males who develop breasts and females who develop chest hair. So while of course males and females do express different traits, the image of us competitively coevolving like cheetahs and antelope is at best oversimplified.

1. When threatened by sexual assault, ovulating women display a measurable increase in physical strength. In 2002, SUNY-Albany psychologists Sandra Petralia and Gordon Gallup had 192 female undergraduate students read a story about either a female character being stalked by a suspicious male stranger in a parking lot (ending with: "As she inserts the key into her car door she feels his cold hand on her shoulder …") or a similar story in which the female character is surrounded by happy people on a warm summer's day (ending with: "She starts her car, adjusts the stereo, and as she pulls out of the parking lot those nearby can hear her music blasting"). The researchers measured the handgrip strength of each participant before and after she read the story, and compared the scores. [...] Only the ovulating women who read the sexual assault scenario exhibited an increase in handgrip strength.
I'd like to see the results of a third group that read a story about being threatened by, say, a wolf. (We would specify it was not a horny wolf.) I suspect that would do a bit for your handgrip too. Without that third scenario, we can't really distinguish between "ovulating women are protecting the purity of their sexy ladyparts" and "ovulating women are protecting their freakin' hides."

I also think the undergrad should become formalized as an SI unit of lazy psychology research. "We performed a 1.92 hectoundergrad study..."

2. Ovulating women overestimate strange males' probability of being rapists. [...]The researchers showed 169 normally ovulating women videotaped interviews with various men and asked them to rate the men on several dimensions, including their tendencies toward sexual aggression, kindness, or faithfulness. The more fertile the woman was at the time of her judging, the more likely she was to describe the men as "sexually coercive." Ovulating women didn't see these men as being less kind, faithful, or likely to commit—only more inclined to rape them.
I read the original study for this one (and I'm grateful that there actually was a direct link), and you know what, I'm going to break with Pervocracy tradition and buy it. Not as The New Immortal Truth About Women, but their methodology and results sound fairly plausible to me. In my personal anecdata, I do get noticeably hornier during ovulation (which is saying something believe me), and that means more aware of sex in general, and thus more likely to project sexual motivations onto people.

3. Ovulating women play it safe by avoiding situations that place them at increased risk of being raped. [...] At least two studies have demonstrated that women at the peak of their fertility are less likely than their peers to have engaged in high-risk activities such as walking alone in a park or forest, letting a stranger into the house, or stopping their cars in a remote place over the preceding 24 hours.
Walking alone in a park is a high-risk activity? Stopping your car? MOTHER OF GOD. I'm a fucking extreme adventurer and I didn't even know it. I've gone years engaging in high-risk activities every day! Twice a day sometimes when I couldn't get a ride in the morning and had to walk through the park both ways.

I don't even know what to say about the ovulation connection or whatever here. I'm just stuck on the implication that being outdoors while female is a high-risk activity. You know, this Monday I was planning on going for a nice long walk in the snow out in the boonies, maybe taking some photos, maybe doing some journaling, and I really didn't add "but of course I have to take the rape factor into account" to my plans. Until now.

Then again, I'm not ovulating, so of course I didn't.

4. Women become more racist when they're ovulating. At least white American ovulating women do when it comes to thinking about black American men.
Hoo boy.

Those are the jaw-dropping, politically incorrect findings of Michigan State University's Carlos Navarrete and colleagues.
Quick note: can we stop using "politically incorrect" to mean "harsh truth?" It really just means harsh.

While we're at it, can we stop trivializing decency in discourse by labeling it "political correctness"? Avoiding discriminatory and hurtful language isn't some partisan posture. It's just a basic step in not being a dickhead. Characterizing black men as rapists of white women isn't a daring rebellion against oppressive thought police, it's just racist.

White, undergraduate females were evaluated for race bias using several variants of an implicit association test, which asks participants to perform a word-matching task that indicates the relative accessibility of certain stereotypes. The women who happened to be ovulating scored especially high when it came to fear of black (as opposed to white) men, a fact that the authors interpret as reflecting an evolved disposition to avoid so-called "out-group males," who "may not have been subject to the same social controls as in-group members and would have constituted a threat in antagonistic situations." In this case, skin color serves as a convenient marker of group identity.
The entire history of American racism, washed away in a beautiful evolutionary flood of "it's perfectly reasonable not to trust the out-group!" The fact that this particular out-group has been specifically libeled with "coming after our white women" since the end of slavery has nothing to do with anything ever, since culture does not exist.

Stereotypes about the particular out-group being prone to violence may also play a role, so, at least in American society, cultural transmission works alongside evolutionary biology in promoting racism.
Oh, okay, culture exists. Oh my god, how to deal with this? Think... think... aha! Perhaps it merely works alongside my pet theory that explains everything!

Above is a set of astonishing truths that, had an evolutionary approach to studying complex social behavior not been adopted so rigorously over the past quarter-century and applied to human sexuality, would have gone entirely unnoticed—not least of which by a Kinsey-6 gay man who wouldn't know what to do with an ovulating woman if she came with instructions.
So now they're not studies suggesting certain things. They're "truths". A study showing that a limited population of young white women had negative associations with black men while ovulating is now somehow the TRUTH that ovulating women are racist (and they're right to be).

No. This is not how science works. A high p value doesn't mean all possible implications of a study are True. It means that the study itself--as in, the actual population tested and the actual tests done, not the various things they might symbolize--showed a correlation unlikely to be chance alone. You may have suggested something about women and the way they think, but you have only proven something about white undergrad American women in Michigan and the way they take implicit association tests. That's the only thing you can call truth. Everything else is somewhere between guessing, generalizing, and making shit up.

In conclusion, I'd like to say that I'm bisexual but more attracted to men. I hope this clarifies my views tremendously.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Kind of awesome: having a theme date.
Awesome: the theme is "Robo Date."
Very awesome: as in "let's have a date where we build a robot."
Super awesome: the date culminates in fucking involving, in keeping with the theme, a stainless steel dildo.
Wicked awesome: having completed the mechanics but not the electronics for the robot, we make a second date entitled "Solder & Sodomy."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Do you scream?

You're a girl. You're youngish, smallish, and while you're certainly not helpless, your assertiveness skills are only medium.

Guy grabs your breasts. Do you scream?
"GET OFF ME YOU CREEP!" Hell yeah you do. He just assaulted you and you have no shame about shaming and repelling him and letting everyone know.

Guy starts talking to you, and you don't find him attractive, and he's giving you kind of a weird vibe. Do you scream?
Of course not. He's only talking to you. You can't make some crazy rule that only people you find acceptable are allowed to talk to Her Highness, for chrissake.

Guy starts complimenting your appearance, again sort of heavy-breathey. He's kind of persistent in talking to you and you can't--or don't, at least--find a polite way to say "it was nice to meet you, bye now." Do you scream?
Of course not. It's a compliment. And if he's still conversing with you, that's half your doing, isn't it?

Guy touches your arm. You really don't like him and it gives you the screaming willies. Do you scream?
No. It's just your arm. And you were talking, and he was being friendly, and touching friends on the arm isn't so weird. If you screamed you'd just look crazy.

Guy gives you a hug. Do you scream?
Talk about crazy, again. Screaming because someone hugged you? Especially when you were already being friendly and touching, it's only natural that someone who sees you as that sort of friend might hug you.

Guy grabs your breasts. Do you scream?
Suddenly it's tougher. I mean, you did lead him on this far. You gave him every reason to think it was okay to flirt with you and touch you and hug you--can you totally blame him for taking that wrong and trying to make a move? Screaming will make him feel angry, make a big dramatic deal with you at the center, put your actions up for judgement. Maybe if you scream people will think you're the crazy one. Maybe you really aren't justified in screaming. Maybe it's best to very very quietly and politely let him down. Or just shrink away silently. Or to just put up with it.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why "women should just stand up for themselves when guys are inappropriate," while certainly not wrong, is not always simple.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snowed in.

Due to heavy snow and a demanding schedule, I didn't go home today. A few other employees and I commandeered extra beds and slept in the hospital. Not terribly comfy, but safe.

It's sort of weird sleeping with your butt on an incontinence pad. I'm pretty sure I can hold it, thanks.

And it's a little pathetic how much willpower it requires for me to fall asleep without masturbating. It's not even horniness. (Well, it's that too.). It's just like trying to sleep without a glass of milk and my blanky, you know? It breaks the ritual.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Male Victim.

The other night at the ER we had a man who had been assaulted by his girlfriend. This wasn't some demure little ladyslap either. This was nasty. It could easily have killed him and will permanently scar his face.

And I couldn't fucking believe my coworkers.
"Whooee, I wonder what he did. You know he did something."
"Boy, I wish I could [graphic description of how the man was attacked] my husband sometimes!"
"She sure got him good!"

I didn't just sit there stewing in my moral superiority (the way I do when they talk about Weight Watchers, oh my God shut up about Weight Watchers you goddamn self-hating pseudoascetics); I stood up. It didn't do any damn good though.

"Hey, he's really hurt."
"Oh come on, have a sense of humor."

"Wouldn't that be a really messed-up thing to say if he were a woman?"
"Yeah, but this is different!"

"I just don't think it's appropriate for us to..."
"You know what, you're just a tech. Go answer 18's call light and do an EKG on 14."

To be fair (and to evade any "so you see how men are victims of the matriarchy" blather), most female rape victims in the ER also endure intensive break-room analysis of their appearance, behavior, substance use, mental health history, "situation she put herself in," ad fucking nauseum. And the only things I can say about it seem to translate to "HI I'M HOLLY AND I'M STUCK UP AND NO FUN."

Well, there's no foolproof way to reshape everyone's opinions to match mine. Kinda sucks though, when the opinion in question is "deviating from traditional gender roles makes the victim of a violent crime laughable and/or culpable."

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cosmocking: February '11!

Pink cover! Mila Kunis! Whoever that is! "The Attitude that Makes Her Effortlessly Sexy!" Yes, with only years of diet and exercise and acting training, professionally applied makeup, a custom-tailored designer dress, studio lighting and photography, and a butt-ton of Photoshop, she's effortlessly sexy! "Bad Girl Sex!" "Flatten Your Belly!" Because breaking the rules is totally sexy, as long as you don't break, you know, those rules! We have rules about how to break rules, here!

There's a guy I used to know in this issue. That was a "holy crap" moment. One of the guys profiled in the "Fun Fearless Males 2011" section is Cory Monteith. Who I worked on a film project with, back in the day. We weren't really friends or anything, but it's still bizarre to see someone I knew as a regular person being presented as a Famous Person. And in fuckin' Cosmo! Holy crap.

In a man's brain, the bridge that communicates between the two hemispheres is smaller than in a woman's. Since it's smaller, it can't handle as much thought traffic--which explains why dudes are more single-minded and have a harder time multi-tasking.
Okay, I already covered in the last Cosmocking that this isn't factually true. Also if it were true that wouldn't account for the existence of people who have no corpus callosum and are cognitively functional. Also I doubt that the conventional meaning of "multi-tasking" is reflected literally in brain function.

So this time, I just want to point out that this is hate speech. Making a false claim that a group of people are mentally inferior because of the way they were born is not a tee-hee matter. "Men are lesser beings" may carry less historical and societal baggage than "women are lesser beings," but that doesn't make it okay. That's not something to toss out as a casual little "check out this nifty factoid, it totally explains so much, lol!" It's fighting words.

You just met a cutie at a party and would love to see him again. Send these body-language symbols to guarantee he'll ask for your number and follow through by actually dialing your digits.
Oooh, I know this one! Use your body--specifically, your larynx and tongue--to say "You're a cutie and I would love to see you again. Can I get your number?"

Of course not. Cosmo advises that you should smile at him, gesture with your palms up, and look at his lips while he talks. The idea is that he'll feel compelled to ask you for your number and not even know why. I can understand being tempted to do this out of sheer cowardice, because it's easier to put the burden of making an unambiguous advance on someone else, but I don't think that's Cosmo's reasoning. I think it has more to do with the idea that a woman can't appear to be using anything other than her beauty to attract men. If a woman can't spur a man to action through her sheer gorgeousness alone, she must not be gorgeous, and therefore she's a failure at life.

In a weird way, the Cosmo method actually sets you up for much harsher rejection, because when a man fails to spontaneously hit on you, he's not just rejecting but actively insulting you. And he doesn't even have to know it! The Cosmo method enables a man to deliver a devastating, ice-cold rejection while honestly believing he's making pleasant small talk.

Grab binoculars and set your sights on Jupiter (besides the moon, it's the brightest thing this time of the year). Face southwest, and gaze a third of the way up the sky. Jupiter is the peach-colored disk with four bright spots next to it in a line (those are its moons.)
I just don't know how to break to Cosmo that planets, er, move. Now I know how Copernicus felt.

25 Fun Things To Do With Your Guy
-Pretend you're not in a fight when you are

This is a novel definition of "fun."

Do this dirty flirting technique: Hold his gaze for 15 seconds, and imagine stripping his clothes off. As you become turned on, your body will send out sexual signals that his brain will pick up on, and as a result, his libido will leap to attention.
Okay, but what if I'm not dating Professor X? Then I'm just staring, and wow, you'd be surprised how long 15 seconds really is.

One of the important revelations of adulthood is that other people can't read your mind. You can't expect people to apologize because you feel angry, or to comfort you because you feel sad, unless you actually express your emotions. You may feel like you're radiating giant fumes of anger and look exactly the same on the outside. And likewise horniness. Feeling horny at a guy is not a way of communicating with him.

... and thank God, really, because I'm pretty sure I don't want to live in a world where you can automatically tell who's thinking sexy about you.

Men are hardwired to notice big breasts (shocker), but it's not for the reason you think. Back in caveman days, men needed a way to tell a woman's age. "They had to look at physical signs," says Satoshi Kanazawa, [noted sexist blowhard]. The giveaway: her mammary glands. "Larger breasts sag over time, so it was an indicator that a woman was older."
Oh, of course! Nothing else about a person's appearance changes with age! The average forty-year-old and twenty-year-old look exactly the same with shirts on!

Or at least they did in caveman times. I think it's gotten to the point where you can say absolutely anything about cavemen and it just goes. In caveman times, everyone ate through their butt and pooped through their mouth! Hush now, don't argue with Science.

Apples and pears are about to go out of season, so enjoy them while you still can by sipping a wintry cider this Sunday evening.
This may be the smallest nit I've ever picked in a Cosmocking, but... the apple and pear season ended in October, Cosmo.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Vidi, vici, veni.

I've always found the notion of sexual "conquest" kind of hilarious. You let someone see you naked, touch your most sensitive and private places, share in something as personal and vulnerable as your sexuality, and you've conquered them?

Oh yeah, I hit that, giggity giggity, that little hottie now knows that sometimes I cry a little when I come. Booya.

Spot of tea?

My friend was fucking his girlfriend doggy-style. I was underneath them, licking her pussy, and every few strokes he would pull out and I would suck his dick. As he thrusted away, with my tongue on the girl's clit, my face was right under his balls, feeling them gently slap at me over and over and over again.

"How was that for you, baby?"

"...Kind of like getting killed in Halo."

Friday, January 7, 2011


The meat of my pectoralis muscle is hidden under my breasts, but at the top, there's an exposed strip, a sweeping curve running over my ribcage to my shoulder on each side. It's hard, tough, and surprisingly large, and with one hand on my ribs, I can feel it flex. It's a strange strength to find within myself.

The other day at work, an old lady started to lose her balance. She'd had a stroke and one leg was weak but she was trying to walk anyway, and in slow motion she started to wobble and crumple and sink down. And didn't fall. I wrapped my arms around her and picked her up and bodily lifted her back into bed. I put her down all crookedwise and awkward and kind of on the edge, and it took two more people to get her situated properly. When it was just a matter of getting everything all lined up nice, I could barely lift a third of her.

I complained earlier about being bad at being on top during sex. I'm not always. When I fuck Rowdy on top, the motion I use is... like I was fucking him. Like he had a pussy and I was driving a cock into it, hard. All this is obviously the exact opposite of what's going on. But that's how it feels and that's when it works. The mental image of "I'm going to slide my pussy up and down your cock" doesn't mean anything to me. What I want to do is grab his shoulders and fucking slam into him.

Maybe it's cliche to find the sexiest part of a man to be the muscles. Maybe I'm cliche. It's funny, though, I've never been into big showy muscles, six-packs and all that. I just want to feel the muscles, under the surface. To see an arm--clothed, smooth-skinned, average sized, little light hairs, entirely ordinary and civilized-looking--and wrap my hand around it and feel the hard little lump of animal beneath.

I like to fight back sometimes. Submission doesn't always mean serving yourself up on a silver platter, patiently holding every limb out for their convenience so they can tie it just so. Sometimes it means "if you can take me, you can have me." I'm strong enough to put up a fight and not so strong that I have to hold back. Getting hit, or fucked, or both, is a different thing when you're fighting back, With all your muscles working, with your mind and adrenaline racing, with your body poised to act rather than merely receive, sex changes. It transforms from a dynamic of a hard surface against a soft one, to two hardnesses, not in harmony but in delicious tension.

...Giant whiteboards?

Man, how did people ever manage polyamory before Google Calendar?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Back in the day, we picked up a very drunk guy in the ambulance. (Actually, this was back in nearly all the days. Ambulancing is a drunktastic field.) I was driving and my partner was in back, when the drunk guy suddenly yelled very loudly at my partner: "You're a breeder! BREEDER! I bet you have twenty babies! BREEDER! B...R...E...E...E...DUR!"

Then he fell silent, leaving me and my (childless, as if it even matters) partner to contemplate the strange ways of the world.


Anyway. I was idly (idly! IDLY!!) pondering the concept, as we talked in the ER today about seeing a pregnant 15-year-old and a pregnant 50-year-old on the same day, of what breeding would be like.

-Excuse to participate in kid activities again.
-Sort of cute-ish, at certain stages, if you get a cute one.
-Opportunity to indoctrinate a human mind.
-Theoretically sort of a fun relationship project.
-Passes on amazing genetics for super-intelligence.
-Opportunity to find out what breastmilk tastes like, try ice cream and cheese recipes.
-Parents may enjoy grandparent role; would certainly shut up about it, at least.
-Creates "family," whatever exactly that means.
-Opportunity to practice high-minded notions of childhood autonomy and personhood.
-Would be totally awesome, dude, to do in utopian poly commune context where the kid would totally be raised by a village, dude.
-Some sort of magical joy thing I couldn't possibly understand.
-Enters my legacy into the human race for all time, sort of, maybe, if you want to do it that way.

-No takey backsies.
-Birthing process unspeakably horrifying.
-Costs infinity dollars.
-Totally unfeasible with current housing and work situations. Also many likely future housing and work situations.
-Finding care for guinea pigs over vacation hassle enough. Apparently children are not supposed to be left at home for even like ten minutes? DEAL. BREAKER.
-Genetics other than super-intelligence not so amazing.
-Child likely to rebel against my righteous indoctrination.
-Poor track record with cacti (RIP Spike), goldfish (RIP John, Paul, George, Ringo), gerbils (RIP Salt, Sugar), geckos (RIP Baby Geck), hermit crabs (RIP... large bucket of dead crabs).
-Major cockblockage.
-During certain stages of socialization, child will be either tormented outcast or horrible little fascist.
-Big mess of patriarchal associations and obligations taken on with "mother" role.
-High-minded notions of childhood autonomy and personhood prone to sudden, catastrophic collapse first time child acts like unreasonable little shithead.
-Difficult to explain poly/BDSM to six-year-old. Impossible to explain to thirteen-year-old.
-No magical feeling of internal, intrinsic desire for children.

On balance, childbearing and rearing seems like an interesting little adventure, but not something I really want to shape my whole life around. If I were more assured that I could have kids on the side and still basically be me, I might consider it, but as things stand, it seems like that's--financially, socially, culturally, practically--just not possible.

Maybe what I really feel is that I might want kids, but I wouldn't want to be a mother. I'm just too damn selfish. I know my own life is limited and I want to just enjoy the hell out of it, and if that's a character flaw--fuck, better that I recognize it before I inflict it on some helpless little kid, right?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Quiet night.

Last night Sprite and Rowdy and I got together and... pretty much just stayed in. We ate some takeout, exchanged belated Christmas presents (Sprite gave me a huggy dinosaur and Rowdy gave me a subscription to MAKE magazine; I gave Sprite a flogger and Rowdy a robot kit), and then we just hung out. We fucked a little, slept in a big warm pile, fucked a little more and watched Muppet Show clips and cuddled a lot.

Sometimes happiness is just that simple.

It's not much to write about, I guess. But it's kind of... part of what I always wanted for my life. (I might not have always envisioned certain details.) Not to be boring all the time, but to be happy even when it's boring. To be able to have promiscuous public kinky sex with the people I love, and to be able to take a nap with them. And in particular, to take a nap with them and not find myself saying "bleh, you guys aren't any fun unless we're having promiscuous public kinky sex." Love is love and happy is happy, and sex is just the cherry on top. Fuckin' awesome cherry though.

Also: Sprite and I have finally, I think, settled the terminology question of what to call our relationship. We're not really girlfriends with each other. But "my boyfriend's other girlfriend" is cumbersome and indirect. Apparently common poly terminology is "metamour," but eh. Or "paramour," which is kind of clever except it's already a word.

Anyway. We are "sister girlfriends."

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Money Is Not The Problem Economic Theory.

I'd apologize for going off topic, but people never seem to mind--in fact, seems like I get more "ugh, sex again?" mail then I get "hey, stick to the sex!" So if you want your underinformed economic opinions from your kinky sex blogs, read on. (I did take a semester of Econ, but only because I was already buddies with the professor and babysat her kids so I figured easy A... but in the end the "oh god, I can't embarrass myself by turning in junk to my friend!" shame made me work harder. I did get an A though.)

My personal macroeconomic theory is that Money Is Not The Problem. Money is a symbol. A symbol that can mean a lot microeconomically--how much of it you have, or how much your business has, sure feels like it matters--but on the scope of a nation or the world, money isn't the cause of most problems. Goods and services are.

For example, healthcare. The reason healthcare sucks in America is because we don't have enough doctors, nurses, hospital beds, or medications. In the hospital where I work, we often have people stay overnight in extra beds at the back of the ER when they should be admitted, because there isn't a single empty bed upstairs. We also suffer from frequent shortages of medications as basic as morphine. These aren't money problems, these are stuff problems. Declaring morphine free wouldn't make poppies grow any faster.

And I think this is the problem with attempting to address income inequality by redistributing money. If the things to be bought with that money don't change, then socioeconomic classes don't change. If everyone can afford a mansion, but your city has one neighborhood of mansions and ten of run-down high-density apartment blocks... run-down apartments get a whole lot more expensive. (In theory, who lives in the few available mansions could change, but history says good luck with that.)

The problem a society has to solve if it wants everyone to be wealthy, or at least everyone to be doing okay, is how to get everyone good stuff. Money is a small piece of that puzzle. Technology is a much bigger one, as are education and entrepreneurship.

There aren't any doctors sitting around idly in empty offices wishing someone could afford them. You want better healthcare in America? Train more doctors and nurses. Open more hospitals. Make more drugs. What they cost will be a whole lot easier to sort out--in fact, may work itself out--once there's actually enough of them. When you're trying to feed fifty people with one pie, don't waste your time thinking up wacky schemes to cut it just so; go bake a bigger pie.

And this is why I don't buy organic.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I usually don't do the New Year's Resolutions thing, because resolving to do something is very personal and not for a big public holiday, right? But then it turns out, often as not, that I don't actually make any February 17th Resolutions either, so surely conformity beats complacency.

I resolve to be okay with wanting what I want. I will not let myself feel unworthy, creepy, or "crazy" because I'm attracted to a person, or because I want a specific activity. I will never imagine that I have nothing to offer to others. I will also say what I want, rather than relying on psychic phenomena to orchestrate my sex life.

I resolve to be okay with not getting what I want. People have every right to say "no" and partners have every right to say "I don't want to do that," and there's nothing I can do to fix this whole "other people have free will" thing, and that's okay. It's no reason to be angry at them, angry at myself, or to in any way increase the net misery in my world.

I resolve to take things seriously. When I talk to or touch another person, that's happening for real, for keepsies, and although I may be joking or playing with them that doesn't mean I have any licence to be disrespectful or dishonest. And likewise, going "it's a joke, jeez" is no free pass for fucking with me. (This doesn't mean I'm anti-joke, or even anti-crude-joke. But I can tell the difference between "this insult is funny because it's absurd" and "this insult is funny because it's just so true.")

I resolve to not take things too seriously. A badly chosen word or misplaced touch, from an otherwise decent person, is not cause to bare my teeth and snarl. (In particular, a new person should not be cast out of the Feminist Club nor the Kinky Club because they don't know all the rules yet.) Not everyone has the exact same rules of ettiquette as me, and giving a little allowance can make situations go a lot smoother and keep people from just closing me out.

I resolve to learn how to educate as well as debate, to not always go straight to "here's why you're wrong, asshole," but when appropriate to say "here's why I believe what I do, and I hope you'll find some truth in it."

I resolve to find a job that sucks a bit less of my soul, and to only hold that job until, through entrepenuership or schooling, I have a career.

I resolve to make the Pervocracy better, shinier, more interesting, to revamp the site and make it more useful and appealing than this design from 2006 with the horrible background color. And every post should either enlighten, entertain, or educate; if all I can write is some blither that does none of the above, I just won't post that day. I also resolve not to say "just," "actually," "X, but Y" or use italics quite so often. Also I should get better about semicolons.

I resolve to keep my room a whole lot cleaner.

I resolve to pet my guinea pigs more.

I resolve to answer my email occasionally.

I resolve to sell, donate, or throw out all that stuff in the "misc. useless items" box. Okay, boxes.

I resolve to screw around on my boyfriend more. (I also resolve to screw around on my boyfriend.)

I resolve to go outside more.

I resolve to whine less.

I resolve to consume less and create more.

I resolve to never, ever, even a little bit, unless I torture a puppy or something, hate myself.

I resolve not to torture puppies.