Casino
polyamory

Polyamory Doesn’t Equal Cheating

We’ve got another awesome Sex and the State guest post! If you would like to submit a guest post, please fill out my contact form with an brief outline of what you want to write about.

A recent article from The Guardian delved into a common issue associated with polygamy and polyamorous relationships—cheating.

Guardian contributor Emer O’Toole described a recent interaction with a man at a party, where the man expressed his desire to be in a relationship like O’Toole’s, a polyamorous arrangement. When O’Toole asked the man if he discussed the possibility with his partner, the man said she was too traditional and narrow-minded to consider it. He then flatly told O’Toole that he cheated on his girlfriend because she wouldn’t go for a polyamorous relationship.

O’Toole made his opinions of the man’s actions known, calling it an “unfortunate attempt to use poly identity as an excuse for shitty treatment of his girlfriend.” But his story brings up an interesting point: people outside of polyamory seem to think it’s a form of cheating. However, O’Toole made it clear that that is not the case or the mindset of those within the community.

While he admitted that it’s not easy to define polyamory, he has no trouble explaining what it isn’t. “Poly isn’t cheating. It isn’t lying. It isn’t a disregard for the agreements you share with the people you love,” he wrote. “And it certainly isn’t positioning monogamous people as more blindly traditional or less emotionally evolved than you.”

Unfortunately, it seems that the man O’Toole ran into isn’t an isolated case for those looking to branch out from their partner. According to a survey about cheating performed by Adam and Eve, there are several reasons why people decide to cheat on their significant others. Most people (45 percent) claimed it happened out of the blue, but 33 percent said they cheated because it was exciting. After that, 30 percent claimed sexual boredom as their reason while 23 percent simply said they were lonely.

While people may associate these reasons with the drive to be polyamorous, the real reasons behind the decision to be polyamorous has little relation to cheating at all. According to this post at Love More, one partner isn’t searching for another because they’re unhappy with their current partner, which usually leads to cheating. Instead, they want to love their partners equally, sharing their intimate feelings emotionally, spiritually, and physically with both. Then, when outside desires no longer have to cause the end of relationship, you can create a polyamorous relationship that is stronger, more open, and more honest than any monogamous relationship could ever be.

Now, that isn’t to say that people in polyamorous relationships are more evolved or at all better than those who choose monogamy. Actually, perhaps polyamorous site More Than Two describes it best when they say that “Poly people have a different preferred relationship style, that’s all.” The writer at that site continues to state that “I’ve seen monogamous people who are enlightened, passionate, caring, compassionate, wise, and benevolent people. I’ve met poly people who are selfish, inconsiderate jerks.” In conclusion, it seems that “people are people,” meaning that you can be pretty much any type of person, regardless of your relationship model.

I couldn’t agree more.

Angela Peck is a twenty-something freelance writer and photographer. She lives in Knoxville, TN, with her two rescue dogs, Bits and Bobs.

Sophia and parents

New Learn Liberty, DPA Documentary is Pretty, Moving, and Kinda Late to the Game

For new readers, let me warn you that I’m an asshole. However, I’m a true believer that all publicity is good publicity, so trust me when I say that I’m writing this out of love. Learn Liberty is definitely the best thing IHS has going right now. While I consider most of the team close, personal friends, I say that earnestly and as impartially as possible.

You should definitely watch their latest video. It’s a beautifully shot, moving documentary about Sophia Nazzarine, a 7-year-old girl who suffers from epilepsy which can only be controlled through medical marijuana.

This is a personal issue for me. I suffer from a digestive disorder for which cannabis is the most effective medicine. My ex has Crohn’s disease and cannabis is the only drug shown to put it into remission. My sister and her fiance are moving to Colorado this summer to help move the cannabis industry forward. (Plz comment if you have any job intel)

Legislation has been introduced by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-­KY), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D­-NY) to allow states to allow patients access to this powerful, effective medicine. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States­ CARERS ­ Act is the first-ever bill in the U.S. Senate to legalize marijuana for medical use and the most comprehensive medical marijuana bill ever introduced in Congress. Obvs I support it and am grateful to these organizations for bringing awareness to the issue.

Onto my gripes. Get bolder! Medical marijuana already has majority public opinion support. Sure, there are some holdouts, but fuck ‘em. Put this money, time and energy into ginning up support for more contentious issues. A great topic for exploration would be why most anti-sex trafficking bills would actually hurt sex workers. I’d love to explore why we should legalize all drugs. Let’s go deep into how the Chicago Police Department is disappearing citizens into CIA-style black sites. I want a documentary about how the FBI is infiltrating Mosques, entrapping hapless Muslims, and claiming it’s fighting terror.

For new readers, my philosophy tends to be go big or go home. If we want to change anything, human stories like Sophia’s are the ones we need to be telling. Please share this video/post so this documentary does well. This is already a huge step forward from their previous videos, which tend to be more dry and academic. Hopefully Learn Liberty raises the stakes again with the next one.

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Sex Advice From a Fuck-Up: He Doesn’t Want Up In These Guts

Text from a girlfriend:

I’m “dating” this guy. I don’t really date but he straight-up asked me if I wanted to be his monogamous girlfriend. I was like uhhh I guess.

He’s hot. And we have lots of mutual interests. We’ve been dating for about six weeks. He won’t have sex with on my period, I can tell he’s uncomfortable going down on me. I’ve literally dropped my towel — ass naked — and told him to fuck me. And he’s like, “I’m busy.” Or “I don’t feel like it.” Also he was uncomfortable when he accidentally rolled over onto my vibrator which I accidentally left under my pillow and was weirded out that I’ve had sex with a girl. Are these legit reasons to break up? Had to share, want your opinion.

First thoughts, he sounds like he’s not super into vaginas. In my experience, people who enjoy vaginas aren’t weirded out when they bleed, get masturbated, and have sex with other vagina-havers. It also sounds like his sex drive is lower than yours. Bottom line: These are all perfectly legitimate reasons to decide someone isn’t an ideal partner, especially a monogamous one.

However.

When I was younger, I felt rejected and insecure when my partner’s sex drive dipped below mine. Since then I’ve learned that my sex drive is unusually high. Plus, the difference between men’s and women’s average libido is much smaller than I’d been conditioned to believe. And there’s much more to sex drive than attractiveness.

Ideally, a lower sex drive is an inconvenience, not a source of angst. But you’ve got to be real with yourself here. If it gives you angst, is this something you can work through?

What would still give me angst about this guy is his apparent attitude toward my ladyparts. I’m not saying that an aversion of indifference toward a pussy means misogyny. Clearly not all gay men or asexual individuals hate women. But it does set off some alarm bells. Beyond that though, I just can’t imagine having sex with someone who’s not crazy about my vag. Seems like a drag to feel like my partner is freaked out by or indifferent about getting all up in these guts.

Side note: One of my favorite memories is an early boyfriend who got down there and stayed there. It wasn’t about pursuing a goal to make me come and proving he’s good at it. Instead, he took the tack that he didn’t know what he was doing and wanted to learn. He took his time, no pressure, no hurry, just learned by experimentation how I liked being touched. It’s never happened like that since. I certainly can’t see it happening with someone who doesn’t adore your pussy.

But, I’ve also discovered in my nearly 30 years on this planet that not everyone uses sex as a basis for making decisions to quite the extent that I do.

Being partnered up is something I used to take for granted. Six months ago, I became single for the first time. Since then, I’ve been thinking for the first time about whether I want to be partnered again. Partnership has many benefits outside of sex — stability, shared property, economies of scale, the simplicity of knowing who’s going to pick you up from the hospital.

In many ways, partnership is actually antithetical to good sex. Women’s sexual attraction to their partners drops off more significantly and faster than men’s. And research shows women actually need more novelty for arousal than men do. A good friend of mine doesn’t have sex at all with her husband. She’s probably not the only one, but she’s the only one who’s upfront about it with me.

Truth be told, it just seems odd to me that the person I live with, buy groceries for, and pick up from the airport needs to be the person I fuck. Those are completely different activities, are they not, with different requirements?

What I’ve figured out is that for the purpose of making my life easier, friends are much better than boyfriends or husbands. Being single has given me the time, and impetus, to develop a nice squad. They specialize, so one doesn’t have to be good at meeting all my needs. Their number means one is likely to be free when I need help. And my friends don’t get jealous when I talk to other friends.

But the other thing I’ve figured out is that while friends will work in a pinch for the purpose of sex, they’re really far inferior to a romantic partner. Mutual respect and emotional intimacy are kinda necessary for great sex for me, and getting to that level with multiple people just takes a ton of time and work.

So at this point, I couldn’t imagine partnering with someone for any purpose other than mind-blowing sex. It’s the one thing a partner can more easily provide than my friends. (I’m not buying a house or having kids tho, that may change the calculus.)

And I think as long as couples are honest about the need for novelty sex can stay fun, or ideally improve, as time goes on.

So, if this dude is ideal for having kids and buying a house with, and sex isn’t important to you, or you can work out a poly arrangement, and he’s definitely not a misogynist, I say go for it. If not, I say break up with him, lean on your friends for practical and material support, and go find someone who really wants to get up in them guts!

ella

Heterosexual Christians Want The Government Out of Their Bedroom Too!

We’ve got another awesome Sex and the State guest post! If you would like to submit a guest post, please fill out my contact form with an brief outline of what you want to write about.

There is an old saying that marriage is like flies on a screen door — the ones on the inside want out and the ones on the outside want in.  This seems to be true in the debate over gay marriage.  I wrote in my blog  about a new law in Oklahoma that was proposed to end the legalization of marriage by privatizing it to avoid the federal laws causing states to legalize gay marriage.

I write about how I agree with this, because I believe marriage is a sacred rite, and not something that should be regulated by the government.

Apparently, I am not alone in my feelings and, in a new twist over the debate, I have found a Christian couple that refused to have the government “legalize” their marriage.  They opted not to get a marriage license because they felt that the government should not have control over their marriage. They had a marriage presided over by their pastor and witnessed by family and friends.  They created their own contract, not unlike the contract used in Jewish wedding ceremonies, signed and witnessed by the attending pastor.

They did not go down to the country clerk’s office to get the government’s permission for something that (they believe) is deeply personal, between and man and a woman and the God of their faith.

As I reflect on this, it reminds me of how African-American slaves created their own ceremony to sanctify what was then an illegal union by “jumping the broom.”

In a recent article by Jeffrey Tucker he equates marital laws in the U.S. as a form of eugenics.  These laws were instituted to control who could legally procreate.  The laws outlawed interracial marriage and to this day in some states a clean bill of health is required for marriage-as Tucker puts it, “To plan the gene pool just as socialism planned the economy. The ambition was to wipe out undesirable recessive genes in one generation.”

So maybe it is time to get the government out of our private relationships.  Maybe it is time to take a stand-like my Christian friends and say “no” by opting out of legalizing marriage at all.  Maybe we could then opt out of the thousands of intrusive laws that tell us what to eat and drink and put in our bodies and who we can do business with and what kind of written consent you need to have sex and on and on and on……

We are only as free as the laws of the land allow us to be.

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Cindy Biondi Gobrecht is the author of the book Confessions of a Christian Twihard My Life Lessons and the Twilight Saga  and newly published Blessed are they that Hunger-Young Adult Fiction, America and the Bible both available on Westbow Press. She lives in Sacramento, California and is a Sales Director for Mary Kay Cosmetics. She is single with a daughter who is in the Marine Corps Band stationed at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California. Cindy has a BA in Linguistics with minors in Literature and Anthropology from the University of California, San Diego. Cindy led Bible Studies for all ages for over 30 years in churches in California and South Carolina. She is Chair for the Sacramento County Libertarian Party. Her blog is www.cindybiondigobrecht.wordpress.com

dress

The Subreddit That Proves I Know Absolutely Nothing About Straight Men

http://www.reddit.com/r/wtsstadamit

wts

I have a lot of male-dominated interests, and a lot of male friends. And yet, at the end of the day, I am a straight(ish) woman with no brothers, a dad who lived 30 min away while I was growing up, no stepdad until I was in my mid-20’s, and no fucking clue how the straight male brain works.

It’s not for lack of trying. The boy crazy started early. Before the guy friends, who started once I grew (little) boobs and they started being able to see me. But no matter how much I write about bitcoin or how many graphic novels I read or how many times I argue anarchy vs. minarchy I still am continually surprised by them.

I’ve been told that guys don’t really talk about sex amongst themselves, except in the broadest terms. I’m not sure I believe that. I’m always trying to get all my friends to dish to me. I didn’t name my blog Sex and the State just for the clicks. So this morning one of my best dude friends gchats me “do you know the wtsstadamit subreddit?” I’m a casual reddit user, so I’m not surprised I don’t. Then he types:

When
the
Sun
Shines
Through
a
Dress
and
Makes
it
Translucent

http://www.reddit.com/r/wtsstadamit

And I go. And I’m a little horrified.

The first memory it brings up is in college, a friend photographed me and my future husband backlit with sunshine. It was a beautiful photograph, well composed. Except my skirt, unbeknownst to me, was made translucent by the sun. Being an extra skinny bitch back then, you could tell exactly where my cootch began.

The second is far further back, to YMCA camp. We went swimming every day, so every year I got a new bathing suit. I’m not sure how I noticed that boys were staring at me underwater through their goggles. But someone definitely had to explain to me why. That bitch puberty’s decision to show up had unfortunately coincided with my ill-fated choice of a white bathing suit. I’ve always been a tiny person, so maybe the manufacturer didn’t anticipate the thin white fabric having to cover actual lady parts? It never occurred to me that white fabric goes see-through when wet, and that this might be of interest to anyone.

That general cluelessness impacts my interaction with straight men to this day.

So yeah, the whole “oops you can see my goodies” thing. I get it. I think. Maybe? I mean, surprises are nice. They weren’t for me either time, because, you know, I knew to be ashamed once I realized I’d been showing basically my naked body to everyone at the YMCA camp pool and my cootch to people walking by me in the sunshine at Samford.

So is that the appeal? The good, modest woman who made a mistake? The sneak peek you’re not supposed to be getting?

But the women in the photos on reddit don’t look ashamed, or unaware, to be ashamed later. At least the ones who have faces in frame look like they’re fucking owning their sun-made translucent dresses. So maybe it’s just a novel way to show, but not fully show, lady parts.

To be honest I’m still taken aback that a woman’s body, devoid of context, is of such interest to straight men. None of the boys staring at me underwater ever tried to talk to me. That was the greatest ambition of mine, to know boys, to hear their thoughts and get acquainted with their hopes and dreams. I remember it was high school before I really, really wanted to see any boy naked.

I remember a year or so ago following all these Tumblrs with gorgeous photos and gifs of beautiful men and women in various stages of undress and coitus. And I’d scroll through regularly for a while, maybe weeks, maybe months. But it was a phase. Without context it got boring to me and I haven’t done it for a really long time.

What is the appeal? How is this not boring as shit? Maybe men make up a backstory. “Angela loves the feel of sunshine on her skin through a thin layer of linen. She grew up in Alaska so…”

Who knows. It’s taken me thirty years to figure out that I haven’t changed much since middle school. I like writers who are much smarter than me and know exactly what to say. I love men with rich inner lives — I can’t resist the urge to plumb depths of emotion and analysis. My husband was a Philosophy major. That boy in high school was a poet with a penchant for peppering his speech with phrases from hip hop and a canny awareness of what one needs to say to an insecure literary magazine editor to make her want to drop her panties. If someone could approximate that with a Tumblr that would be awesome. For now the most erotic medium for me is Twitter.

Now I’m imagining a straight dude reading Will Moyer thinking, “This is boring as shit. When does someone get naked?”

ted

Where is Ted Cruz on Bitcoin?

On Monday, Texas Senator Ted Cruz announced that he’s seeking the nomination for GOP presidential candidate at Liberty University. His stump speech included goals such as abolishing the IRS, securing the border, growing the economy, and protecting religious liberty. Cruz did not mention bitcoin or cryptocurrency, getting closest with “Imagine innovation thriving on the Internet as government regulators and tax collectors are kept at bay.”

The four years following 2016 are likely to be transformative for bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Earlier this year, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss announced they had recently began building a “fully regulated” Bitcoin exchange. As peer-to-peer, decentralized payments systems come into their own, regulators will have to balance consumer demands for risk pooling with entrepreneurs’ need to have the freedom to innovate.

On the issue of entrepreneurial freedom, Ted Cruz has been fairly clear. “Which has greater innovation: the United States Post Office, or Facebook and Twitter? Which has greater innovation: Taxi commissions in local cities, or Lyft and Uber? Every time you put unelected bureaucrats in charge of the market, they stifle innovation,” CNN reported Cruz saying at Reboot Congress in February.

MSNBC quoted him as saying “The principle I’m going to suggest to you is, don’t mess with the Internet!”

Cruz supports auditing the Federal Reserve, and on Twitter took a jab at expansionary monetary policy:

expan

While Cruz might be sympathetic to tech innovation, his campaign has not quite mastered it. People trying to donate to his campaign were stymied by 404s and redirects. Those who found his actual home page found it lacking an SSL certificate, or basic encryption to prevent you from donating to Nigerian princes. Speaking of, when a Vox reporter manually typed in the “https” prefix to the URL, they noticed that “nigerian-prince.com” is listed as an alternative domain for Ted Cruz’s campaign donations.

Cruz is the first Republican to announce a campaign for the 2016 nomination. He will likely be joined by Kentucky Representative Rand Paul, who has been vocal in his support of bitcoin. At Reboot Congress, MSNBC reported that Paul, “bantered easily back and forth about Bitcoin currency” onstage with TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington.

Cuomo to Public Schools: Stop Destroying Our Kids

teacher

The absurdity starts immediately. “At 8 a.m. this morning I was shivering outside PS 10 in Park Slope.” Way to make the story about yourself, bro. Gothamist memoirist Jake Dobkin is a rally to protest Governor Cuomo’s education budget plan.

Kids sang “All we are saying is give Public Schools a chance… testing, testing, all we do is testing… Listen to us Cuomo, give Public Schools a chance,” to the tune of John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance.”

So what are these terrifying proposals? Cuomo wants state-administered tests to weigh more in teacher performance evaluations for grades three through eight. That’s because while 97.5% of New York public school teachers for grades three through eight are rated “effective,” only one-third of their students are proficient in math and English language arts, according to the passing rates set by the state. He also wants to raise the charter schools cap and give parents some choice in their kids’ education. Or, as Dobkin writes, “force public schools into a Darwinian competition for dwindling public financing.”

It’s odd that New York’s public school teachers can teach kids bastardized John Lennon songs to protect their underperforming colleagues, but can’t teach more than a third of them how to read.

The biggest problem with protecting schools from Darwinian competition is that there’s nothing to protect students from it after they drop out or graduate. While teachers can stay employed their entire careers while utterly failing literally two thirds of their students, no such protection from market forces exists for those illiterate children.

Perhaps a victim of New York public education herself, parent Amy Schwartzman was quoted as saying “Cuomo’s plan to fire teachers whose students don’t test well will destroy our public schools. This plan creates so much fear that teachers will feel they have no choice but to do endless test prep.”

It’s not clear to me how one destroys something that is already broken. Nor is it any clearer how test prep would be anything but an improvement over whatever is currently happening in New York classrooms, as I assume that in the course of test prep all students would learn reading and basic math.

City Councilman Brad Lander is as bold as Schwartzman is dense. “We demand the $2.7 billion that New York owes our kids. Our public schools are too important to be held hostage to anyone’s political agenda.”

Being a politician, perhaps he could explain how using public school students to protest in order to protect teachers from competition and evaluation isn’t holding schools hostage to anyone’s political agenda, but trying to reform a broken education system is.

In fact, if I had to assess which political agenda was holding schools hostage, from innovating, from competing, from hiring and firing at will, I’d look to Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers. She and Mike Mulgrew, current president of the United Federation of Teachers, took turns answering the question at the rally: “Whose school? Our school!” How right you are.

Dobkin is himself a product of New York public education, which may explain his deficient critical thinking skills. Walking home from the protest, he ponders “how much worse off my life would’ve been if my family hadn’t had access to free public schools.” It’s a sentence as self-absorbed as it is irrelevant, as no one is threatening state-sponsored, compulsory K-12 education.

I also thought about all the good teachers I’d had in those 13 years, and wondered if any of them would go into teaching now, with all stress that comes with testing, and all the politicians constantly blaming the performance of schools on teachers, instead of say, poverty or lack of funding.

Who would want to work a job where half your yearly evaluation was based on something you had very little control over?

Everyone. Everyone wants to teach in New York. Probably because you can get rated effective by only teaching a third of your students.

What would happen if we fired all the teachers with low-scoring classes, since most of those teachers work in schools in the poorest neighborhoods? How would you replace all those teachers?

They’d be replaced immediately. New York is currently facing an oversupply of teachers. There are more people who want to teach than teaching jobs, despite testing requirements and badmouthing politicians.

Dobkin doesn’t need to muse on these questions. He can Google “job market for teachers in New York” just like I did to find the answers. But he doesn’t, and he gets published anyway. Maybe the real world isn’t that Darwinian after all.

sex-criminals

I never write anything when I’m happy

I never write anything when I’m happy

It’s funny that for my love of positive psychology, which begins with the idea that maybe people interested in mental health should study mental health, and not exclusively focus on mental illness, I never, ever write when I’m happy. I’m always angry, or at the very least irritated, or sad, or disturbed. These feels make me write.

I guess it’s because there’s nothing more boring than someone else’s happiness. Ughhhh. Yay for you! Happy families are all the same, etc.

I like positive psychology so much I actually read books about it. What is more exciting than the idea that you can, through “mere” habit, alter your baseline level of happiness? Nothing. That’s what. But lately I’ve been reading other books. The first is a history book, Modern Times. A great friend who I want to be a closer friend recommended it to me. After gently poking at me for not reading books. Sorry I have zero attention span or interest in something that’s been available for public consumption for more than a few hours. #sorrynotsorry

But it’s good. The writing is dry but sassy, if that makes sense. And the other book I’m reading, well, it’s a comic book. I LOVE Strangers in Paradise, but I haven’t read a comic book since high school. But, I’m doing this fake girl geek thing right now, with the purple hair and comic book movie and a recent Dr. Who party I invited an amazing girl to after she couldn’t come to the comic book movie, for which I customized a TARDIS dress (no I didn’t sew the whole dress, weirdos. I would have sewn one that actually fit me. I bought that one when I was skinny). So I bought Sex Criminals, and fuck me if it isn’t the best thing in the entire universe.

tardis

As I told the friend who has me reading history, you can pry my funny memoirs about people with fucked-up families from my cold, dead hands. I do read those books, along with blockbuster YA fiction. And the occasional, like one every three years, chick lit book. Like Jennifer Weiner or Gone Girl.

Sex Criminals is that, but with art and sex. God, it’s so good.

Speaking of good things, and friends, I’m at another friend’s place tonight and she puts on this video.

Which is, you know, everything. And I’d literally just suggested another friend fill his bare wall with Metamorphosis of Narcissus that afternoon.

Anyway, I can usually rant about something with a proper outline when I’m pissed. But when I’m happy? Why? Is it the fact that I feel good about my speech for Alt SXSWi? Is it that I’m really happy for my sister on her engagement to a wonderful woman? Is it my beautiful, interesting, hilarious friends?

Earlier I was thinking that I’m at a job which is clearly meant for people with families. But I have a family. I have one that’s bound to me by DNA in Pentagon City, Virginia, Virginia Beach, Virginia, Huntsville, Alabama, Beavercreek, Ohio, Houston, Texas, and Niceville, Florida, at least. And I have one that’s bound to me by nothing more than a willingness to put up with my awkward, foot-in-mouth, failed-to-land joke making, self-absorbed ass. And they give me book recommendations and show me awesome videos and give my jokes mercy laughs. And I’m happy.

kingsman

Kingsman and the DOJ’s Ferguson Report

I watched Kingsman: The Secret Service tonight. Highly recommend it. But one scene had me profoundly uncomfortable. Spoilers ahead (I think? I don’t really know how to plot so I’m not sure how important this point is.)

The scene takes place in a church that’s been labeled as a hate group. And as it began, I recognized it immediately. From the wooden pews to the shitty interior to the screaming Southern pastor and callbacks from the congregation. I’d been in that church. One of my step sister’s high school boyfriends went there, and we went with him one Sunday night.

Not it, exactly. The pastor in Kingsman was using the n-word and going on about “faggots.” The pastor at the church I attended didn’t use that kind of language. In fact, I couldn’t really tell what he was on about, with all the shouting, in an almost lilting way, starting low and getting louder, reaching a crescendo, callbacks, then it would start again.

In Kingsman, the congregation started getting killed. And as all the horrible bigots died, the people in the theater laughed. But I couldn’t.

Earlier today the DOJ’s Ferguson report came out. And in the face of evidence that not only did Ferguson officers enjoy passing along explicitly racist jokes, but that the data reveal that this racism was enacted through their policing practices, some people decided to publicly gloat that Officer Wilson won’t be charged.

I felt such overwhelming anger and confusion that after reading about dogs’ teeth ripping into black, and only black, flesh, anyone would choose to respond this way.

I was angry at them. Angry at people who could read about systematic, violent racism and get excited that one more officer evaded indictment after killing one more black man.

But then I watched those bigots get killed on screen. And I remembered sitting in that church. And I remembered praying my sister would stop being gay. And remembered blaming “black culture” for what decades of racism wrought. I remembered being that bigot I was angry at this afternoon. I remembered I’m still a bigot. Despite being angry about racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, there are shitty knee-jerks in me I’ve yet to examine. The culture I live in clings to me like a stench I shudder to acknowledge, let alone address.

In Kingsman, class is an issue. And Hemingway is quoted: “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”

Liberalism really ruins movies. Especially fun, popcorn superhero movies, where there are good guys and bad guys and the bad guys get their due and the good guys prevail. It ruins it by preventing the total suspension of disbelief in good guys and bad guys.

Transgender teen Leelah Alcorn took her life by throwing herself in front of a truck last year. In her suicide note, she described the anguish of not being accepted or supported by her parents. You can gather everything you need to know about their reaction to her desire to transition by the fact that even after her death they refer to her as “our son.” People were so furious.

But I wasn’t furious at them.

There’s a trick to life, and it’s exhausting and confusing and impossible, like life itself. It’s this. We have to believe that Hemingway is right. Not that being superior to your former self is noble. That’s fucking obvious. That being superior to your former self is possible. And it’s possible for other people too.

I can’t consistently remember this. I keep getting angry at people. But the truth is that bigots aren’t our enemies. And besides, there’s no bright line separating “us” from “them.” We all believe stupid, regressive things and act in ways which aren’t conducive to the world we want to live in. We are all drowning in the stew of our own privileges, unable to see oppression beyond what we experience.

Bigotry is our enemy. The belief in us-versus-them is our enemy. Our greatest enemy is the belief that we’re enlightened. Because enlightened people don’t have former selves.

Anyway, go see Kingsman. It’s a great time.

 

kim-gordon

PUAs, Kim Gordon and the Narrative of the Scorned Woman

Kim Gordon’s husband left her for a younger woman. Literally nothing could be more boring. This is the way of things, the most normal, mundane, expected story that has ever or could ever play out. He left her for a younger woman because he could. Because he’s rich and she has nothing on him. Because she dared to get old, and lose all her value. Because he doesn’t have the integrity to keep to his commitments. And commitment is the only thing reason men with options keep old women around.

Her story is interesting because she’s Kim Gordon, and he’s Thurston Moore, and they were Sonic Youth. “The couple everyone believed was golden and normal and eternally intact, who gave younger musicians hope they could outlast a crazy rock-and-roll world.”

Her story is also interesting because even the fantastically talented, still beautiful, paradigm-shifting, rock-and-roll changing Kim Gordon is, at the end of the day, just like everyone else. “Just another cliché of middle-aged relationship failure — a male midlife crisis, another woman, a double life.”

What a terrifying fate. Cast aside, just when no one else wants you. Lied to and betrayed, then left alone to die. Used up and then discarded, never to be touched again. The prevailing narrative of what it is to grow old as a woman is designed to put women in their place. Make no mistake, it’s a warning to us: Find a good man while you still can. Ensnare someone who will love you even after it’s a sacrifice for him to do so, or else.

But back up for a second. This narrative rests on some assumptions. Mainly, on the assumption that women get less valuable as they get older. It’s a biological reality that women lose their fertility before men do. It’s a social reality that reproduction is only a small part of what makes a woman valuable.

Which is not to say this is a reality that all people will grasp. For some, a woman’s value beyond reproduction is too frightening a thing to fully appreciate. Some people cling to ordered views of the world where people have their place, men before women, young women before old ones. More subtle differences, characteristics, traits, and contributions are lost on some people, either because they are too dull to pick up on them, or too afraid to acknowledge them.

A woman is made valuable, by and large, by the same things that makes a man valuable. Most men and women acquire these as they age. Wisdom, virtue, work ethic, patience, kindness, self-control are learned habits, honed over a lifetime.

It is difficult, though, to appreciate wisdom without a modicum of wisdom, virtue without a modicum of virtue, etc. As a sex-positive feminist, I’ve often been asked about my feelings about Pick-Up Artistry. The truth is that it saddens me deeply that there exist so many men whose ability to appreciate women goes only as far as sleeping with them once. I can think of little sadder than trying desperately to get into the kiddie pool when the ocean awaits. Whether they are too stupid to fully appreciate a woman or too afraid to try varies from man to man. Regardless, I find myself too wrapped up in pitying the lack of ambition in their goals to worry much about their tactics.

It’s like, with our acceptance of the scorned woman stereotype as representative of women’s fate, we’ve replaced critical thinking with a PUA view of women. To limit women’s contributions to fertility or signs thereof is to swim in the kiddie pool of one half of humanity.

The narrative is wrong. In fact, women initiate more than half of divorces. In fact, most splits are over money, not sex. In fact, women get better as they age, just like men do. And there exist, in this world, despite the narratives, despite the PUAs, despite people who need to enforce rigid roles for men and women because to do otherwise scares them, men and women who understand this. Who value what women gain as they age more than what they lose.

More than that, the narrative is deleterious. And we’re fools if we believe it. I’ve got a new warning to us: Be a good woman because you can. Only tolerate someone who will love you because they know they’re lucky to be able to do so.