BroadSnark

Thoughts on politics, religion, violence, inequality, social control, change, and random other things from an autonomous, analytical, adopted, anarchist, atheist who likes the letter A
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Archive for the ‘Sex’

To All the Marriage Pushers

March 04, 2011 By: Mel Category: Politics, Sex

If I have to read one more article on how a group of people must somehow be damaged because they aren’t in a 1950s nuclear family, I am going to spit nails.

Kay S. Hymowitz has a piece in the Wall Street Journal where she complains that men in their twenties “hang out in…a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance.”  Poor Hymowitz and her fellow women can’t find a husband and breed.  All the guys are playing video games, fucking around in bands, smoking pot, or watching porn and comedy central.

Don’t feel too bad, dudes.  Tracy McMillan, has been married three times and so styles herself some sort of expert on what is wrong with those loser women who haven’t even managed to get married once.  According to her, women are shallow, selfish, slutty, lying bitches who don’t spend enough time acting like a doting mama to their men. And if you are a black woman who isn’t married, well then your lack of a mate is headline news and asshats like Steve Harvey make money telling you all the ways you should change yourself in order to attract a charmer such as himself. (I just threw up a little.)

Why is it that people are so fixated on marriage?  Why is it so fucking important to them that they will excoriate anyone who doesn’t hop right onto the marriage bandwagon? (Why the hell is our tax money going to try to make poor people get married?)

Usually, marriage pushers say some crap about marriage being the foundation of society. Horseshit. Marriage as a monogamous death pact has not been the foundation of society. The foundation of society has always been much bigger than the fragile nuclear family.  If marriage has historically been the foundation of anything, it is privilege, hierarchy, sexism, and the accumulation of property.  The kind of marriage we are familiar with is an ownership arrangement.*

If you really want to get to the heart of why people are so marriage obsessed, you must read the conservatives on the subject. Here I actually appreciate them. Most people pretend that they want you to change your entire self for your own good. They tell you it is what you really want. They tell you it is about love. At least some conservatives are honest.

Sam Schulman says that marriage is about controlling sexuality, especially women’s sexuality.  And we can’t possibly let the gays marry, cause gay marriage has nothing to do with controlling who people can fuck. It’s like telling everyone they can go out and fuck willy nilly.  We can’t have that. And my god, didn’t you realize that,

Even in modern romantic marriages, a groom becomes the hunting or business partner of his father-in-law and a member of his clubs; a bride becomes an ally of her mother-in-law in controlling her husband.

How the hell are two gays supposed to navigate those all important elite and gender specific roles? I mean all our parents hunt and belong to a club right? (Seriously, you should read his piece.  You can’t make that shit up.)

These people piss me off so much. They want you to revere an institution that gives them privileges. They want you to modify yourself to serve their needs. They want you to give up looking for something real so that you can be as miserable as they are. They want to stuff you into the same tiny box they have stuffed themselves into.  They want you to have the opposite of love.

Love is not about putting people into boxes, making them into something that suits you. As James Baldwin put so perfectly, “Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” These people are telling you to put on more masks, to be as phony and miserable and deluded as they are. And for what? So rich people can have a system for property inheritance? So selfish people can delineate which tiny group of people they have to care about in life? So men can delude themselves into thinking that there is some virginal housekeeper waiting to take care of him who will never, ever want to fuck anyone else?

To hell with that.

Guess what? Not every girl has that Disneyland princess fantasy that McMillan and the rest claim we do.  As Violet so eloquently put it, some women listen to all that crap and think “Yes, I’d like to put a ring on it. The kind attached to a ball gag.” And here is another crazy fact for you. Men are actually human beings with feelings and not just walking hornbots. No, it is true.  I swear. It is possible to be a man and actually want something more than sex or money from people. I know, I could hardly believe it either.

I have no intention of getting married. I knew that by about the age of fifteen. It doesn’t make me damaged. It makes me someone who actually thinks about things before doing them. I have no idea if my fourteen-plus year relationship will last another four years or fourteen years or forty years. I do know that I love my video game and guitar playing, pot smoking, porn and comedy central watching bfriend. And I have no intention of telling him to “grow up” and fit into some Ozzie and Harriet idea of what a man is supposed to be. And I know that he loves me, not despite the fact that I am angry and raunchy and thoroughly undomesticated, but because of it.

So to all you marriage pushers who want the rest of us to sacrifice our happiness on the alter of your delusion – I know you hate to see people be honest about who they are, despite the harsh social consequences people like you met out for not conforming.  It must remind you of your own phoniness, unhappiness and mediocrity. I kind of feel sorry for you, but mostly I just want to tell you to suck it.

____________________________________

*  If you have never read Stephanie Coontz’s book, Marriage A History: How Love Conquered Marriage, I would highly recommend it.

Am I a Rapist?

December 24, 2010 By: Mel Category: Sex

I don’t want to talk about the Assange rape charges. There are more than enough people doing that already. But I would like to talk about something that Jaclyn Friedman said during her debate with Naomi Wolf on Democracy Now. Friedman essentially said that a sleeping/unconscious person cannot consent to sex and therefore it is rape. Always.

I paused the video.  The bfriend and I looked at each other and said, huh? He’s woken me up like that before. I’ve woken him up like that before. We never discussed doing it.  Does that make me a rape victim? Does it make me a rapist?

Blanket statements, the kind where people give no gray area whatsoever, usually bother me, because few things in life are that clear. And this was a blanket statement that made me into a rapist. At first, I must admit, I was inclined to roll my eyes and dismiss her.

But I just kept thinking about it.

I do not believe that consenting to one thing means consenting to everything else. I don’t believe in implied consent. That’s like those asshats who think marital rape is impossible.  It’s possible and all too frequent.

Now, I could say that I just knew it would be o.k. The bfriend and I have been together for more than 14 years. There are some things that we don’t really have to talk about anymore.

But that would be a bullshit answer. It’s a bullshit answer because there were other times before the bfriend, where I wouldn’t be able to say that. It’s a bullshit answer because it brings us back to the marital rape issue.  And it’s a bullshit answer because, if I have learned anything over the years, it is that false assumptions often precede relationship misery.

Besides, how can we really be sure that our assumptions are based on knowledge of the individual and not some social norm or gender essentialism?  It must be o.k.  Guys always want to have sex, right?  I mean when a woman decides not to have sex because she doesn’t want to risk pregnancy or STDs or just doesn’t think she is ready, that’s expected.  But a guy who turns it down, he must be some kind of freak.  So I can just assume, right?

The truth is that we should have talked about it.  We should have talked about a lot of things, right from the beginning, that we didn’t.

Last month, I came across a couple checklists of sexual activities – one on Scarleteen and one on the Beautiful Kind.  Even just going through the Scarleteen one, you know the one meant for teens, the bfriend and I ended up talking about things that had never come up in fourteen years.  And that is just sad.

Most of us have this Hollywoodized idea of sex.  It is always heterosexual.  All sexual activities end with male to female penetration.  The hottest sex is spontaneous.  When it is right, the other person is just going to know (magically) what you want.  There is no need to talk about it.  Just kiss, blow, fuck, done.

That is why you get guys who think that there is some point of no return where a woman cannot say no anymore.  That is why you have scenarios like this.

Her account to police, which Assange disputes, stated that he began stroking her leg as they drank tea, before he pulled off her clothes and snapped a necklace that she was wearing. According to her statement she “tried to put on some articles of clothing as it was going too quickly and uncomfortably but Assange ripped them off again”. Miss A told police that she didn’t want to go any further “but that it was too late to stop Assange as she had gone along with it so far”, and so she allowed him to undress her.

Really?  He undressed you and therefore it was too late to stop?  You had to go to the end?  Where is the end exactly?  Does he now have carte blanche to hog tie you, ball gag you, and whip you until you bleed?  Cause, for some people, that is where that undressing is going.

For responsible people in the BDSM community, it is a no-brainer to discuss what is o.k. and not o.k. beforehand.  There are parameters set.  There are safe words decided upon.  But for most people, it is all based on assumptions.  And those assumptions lead not just to rape, but to really bad sex.

I so wish that I had those checklists twenty-two years ago when I started having sex.  That is not because I was doing things I didn’t want to do, but because I would have done a lot more shit a lot sooner.  And I could have avoided a lot of mediocre sex.

People make fun of the idea that you should get an o.k. every step of the way.  Can I touch you here? How about there?  This o.k.?  Let’s draw up a contract and have it notarized.  But it seems ridiculous mostly because we are so horrible at talking about sex and because we make so many assumptions about it.  We should talk to our partners, future partners, and our kids about sex.  And we should talk about the entire pantheon of activities, not just assume that everyone is a vanilla, heterosexual couple.

That said, even though I’m not rolling my eyes at Friedman’s statement anymore, am I a rapist?  I understand that hard and fast rules make it easier to prosecute crimes.  Even though I would like to see prisons go the way of the rack, I realize that we cannot just let people get away with committing that kind of violence.  But consistency is not justice.  In fact, it can often be the opposite of justice.

When I was sixteen, my boyfriend was twenty-two.  By Florida law, that was rape.  But I was a willing participant.  I was not victimized by my boyfriend.  Do you know what would have made me feel victimized?  It would have made me feel victimized if somebody had prosecuted my boyfriend for rape.

And it happens.  Because well intentioned people want to keep grown-ups from having sex with seven year olds, some poor seventeen year old kid in Georgia got a ten year prison sentence for getting a blow job at a party.   There are people who are permanently on sexual predator lists for statutory rape.  And let’s not even get into the general disaster that is mandatory minimum sentencing.  Consistency is not always a good thing.

We are all suffering from some serious societal sexual dysfunction.  And we should be calling it out.  But, as unpleasant as it may be, we still need to leave some room for ambiguities.  Because by Friedman’s definition, I’m a rapist.  But the bfriend has now given me explicit permission to view his morning wood as an open invitation.  And I don’t think the state should be able to prosecute me for that.

Are all Johns (and Janes) the Same?

November 18, 2010 By: Mel Category: Sex

Last Tuesday I linked to an article that really bugged me, but I hadn’t quite put my finger on all the reasons why.  It was about a brothel for women that is opening in New Zealand.  The author of the article was predicting that the brothel would be a failure because women “have to be paid to have sex with strangers.”

At first I thought what was bothering me about the article was that same old tired trope about women wanting relationships while men just want to get off.  There is no way to know for sure what women would or would not want if we lived in a society where women having sex with multiple partners (or any kind of sex) didn’t come with such massive social disapproval.  There is no way to know for sure what men would or would not want if we lived in a society that didn’t hold up James Bond as their emblem for promiscuous, manly virility.

Even in our present culture, surveys show that the number of sexual partners that men have and women have aren’t very far off.  And in some of the surveys, where the numbers are farther apart, the respondents who reported high numbers admitted to lying.  Not to mention all the societies that have had much different ideas about sex. Jesuit missionaries from France were shocked by the sexual freedom that Montagnais-Naskapi Indian women had.*

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that wasn’t what was really bugging me about the article. What was bugging me was the portrait this woman was painting of who would go to a prostitute and why.  She didn’t go so far as to claim that every guy who goes to a prostitute is some emotionally stunted pervert who just wants to get off without having to treat the other party like a human being (as so many people do).  But she did infer that the only reason someone would go to a prostitute was because they wanted to have anonymous sex with strangers.  And she implied that they prefered that anonymous sex to other options that they had.   But what were the other options?

Mike Jones is the gay male escort who outed Ted Haggard.  He wrote a book about his life called I Had to Say Something.  In it, he describes some of his experiences with clients.  He wrote about a client who had diabetes and lost both of his legs, about a client who was ninety and just wanted someone to touch him, about clients who were filled with shame because they lived in a society where their desires – for men, for cross-dressing – were considered vile.  In other words, a lot of his clients were people who had serious challenges to having sexual relationships. Surely it isn’t only men that face those challenges.  Should they be ashamed? Vilified? Criminalized? Abstinent?

There is something really disturbing to me about someone who refuses to see whole groups of people as human. And that goes for people who may be participating in something that is problematic in a lot of ways.  There are serious issues related to the sex industry – trafficking, violence, economic exploitation – but the people who vilify all the Johns and victimize all the sex workers are being just as dehumanizing as they claim the people in the industry are.

Isn’t it possible to understand that human beings have complex reasons for the things that they do?  Isn’t it possible to recognize the humanity of people who do things that you may not agree with, while still being honest about how they may be contributing to a problematic system?  Can’t we hold two thoughts in our head at the same time?

* From Stephanie Coontz’s Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage

What is Pornography?

September 23, 2010 By: Mel Category: Sex

I was getting all ready to write a long diatribe in response to another one of those anti-porn feminists who claims that all porn is rape.  You know, the people who refer to those of us who disagree as male-identified, “fun feminists.”  This “feminist” was particularly irritating me.  It’s bad enough when we women judge each other, but this feminist was a man.  And I really don’t appreciate some man labeling women as victims or oppressors because we don’t excoriate anyone who participates in porn.

But then I decided that, if I’m going to dive into the porn fray, I need to get a little more basic first.  I need a good definition of pornography.  So what is it?  According to dictionary.com, it means writings, drawings, photographs, films, etc. that are

  1. obscene
  2. designed to stimulate sexual excitement
  3. of little or no artistic merit

Well shit.  Now I have to define obscene, evaluate the artistic merit of a work, and crawl into the mind of the creator.  I guess I’ll start with defining obscene.  Back to dictionary.com.  Looks like obscene means disgusting, offensive, indecent, immodest, depraved, corrupting, repulsive, repellent, unacceptable, and causing uncontrolled sexual desire.

I think I’m beginning to get it.  If a whole bunch of people think it’s yucky, then it’s obscene and nobody should be able to do it or watch anyone else do it.  And if society thinks it’s yucky, but the person watching it can’t help but get turned on anyways, well then it is triply as bad and they should probably be put on a sex offender list somewhere.

O.k.  Let me give this a go.  I think the first half of Monsters Ball had artistic merit, but the second half was crap.  I don’t think the whole movie was designed to stimulate sexual excitement, but the sex scene between Billy Bob and Halle Berry probably was.  I find watching Billy Bob have sex really yucky.  Which means it’s obscene, right?

Crap.  I thought I had it.  But I’m just confused all over again.  Do we ban Monsters Ball or not?

Arrested for Posession….of Condoms

May 09, 2009 By: Mel Category: Sex

Think twice before you come home with that value pack of condoms. Police from San Francisco to Tel Aviv use condoms as evidence of prostitution.

San Francisco police continue to use condoms as evidence in prostitution cases.

In Tel Aviv, massage parlors are raided by police and, if there are condoms on the premises, they are assumed to be “brothels.”

A prostitutes organization in the United Kingdom, where condoms have also been used as evidence, wrote an open letter to the home secretary decrying the practice.

According to a 2004 Human Rights Watch report, arresting women for carrying condoms is prevalent in the Philappines as well.

In a moment of sanity, and in an effort to control the spread of HIV, the Chinese government recently decided to end the practice of using condoms as evidence of prostitution.

Presumably the anti-prostitution police are taking action based on their supposed concern for prostitutes, or at least for public health. So explain to me why they do something that makes prostitutes less likely to use condoms? Stupidity? Hypocrisy? Worse?

* Thanks to Audacia Ray and Stacy Swimme who brought this up at their session on Sex Work in the Time of Obama at Sex 2.0 this weekend.

Vibrators and Test Tube Babies Destroy the World

April 29, 2009 By: Mel Category: Sex

This morning my fax machine spit out a flier from the Utah based group America Forever. The title was, ironically, Do Not Be Ignorant! The purpose of the flier is to stop the “homosexual movement” from enacting hate crime legislation, which they refer to as “a crime of the century against children.”

Apparently, homosexuals (whose “Homosexual Declaration of War” was read to congress back in 1987) are trying to convert all children to “unnatural” homosexuality. Once we’ve all been converted, only test tube babies will be born. Those test tube children are going to take over the country and “stifle free speech and religious freedom.”

I’m fairly certain this group is affiliated with the one the Dead Milkmen told us about, ya know those queers working with the aliens to poison the soil

The most interesting part of the whole fax is how upset these people are about “unnatural” stimulation of any kind. They claim that homosexuality should be in the “same class as hookers (and) pornography since this sexual conduct uses toys of stimulation to fulfil nature’s sexual desires in an unnatural way.”

I know people think vibrators and dildos are embarrassing. I had no idea people think they are a source of evil. Kind of makes you want to do a humanitarian vibrator drop over the state of Utah. Somebody needs to help those poor women.

Who is with me?

The Wrestler: Selling Sex and Violence

February 09, 2009 By: Mel Category: Movie, Sex, Violence

Randy “the Ram” Robinson sells his body for a living. He is a wrestler. For decades he has been going out into a ring and punishing himself and others for public entertainment.

He is old and broken. He’s living on pain medication and steroids. He’s been punched, kicked, and (in a more gruesome scene) stapled. But even though he has no money, lives in a trailer, and is long past his prime, within his world he receives respect from his fellow wrestlers and admiration from his fans. He’s a legend.

Cassidy also sells her body for a living. She is a stripper. She has also, presumably, been earning money that way for a long time. She is older than your average stripper, but not broken. Yet Cassidy does not get respect or admiration. She is looked down upon. She is dismissed by many of the patrons in her strip club. Even Randy, who treats her decently, seems surprised that she looks “clean” in her street clothes.

It isn’t as though Randy wasn’t also selling sex. He has coked up sex in a public bathroom with some girl who remembered his hot poster on her brother’s wall. He does all the things a stripper would do to keep up appearances. He works out. He bleaches his hair. He hits the tanning bed and shaves all his body hair off.

Strippers and other sex workers are seen as beneath other people, even by (perhaps especially by) supposedly feminist women. I went out with some women from my work the other day. They were relating a story about how they had some drinks with a couple the night before. The husband was an attorney for the Department of Justice. The wife was a stripper.

One of my coworkers seemed quite proud of herself for treating stripping as though it was just another occupation – at least to the stripper’s face. She didn’t believe that the couple was really husband and wife, because she didn’t believe an attorney with the DOJ would be married to a stripper.

The implication is that a stripper is “below” a DOJ attorney in our societal hierarchy. It’s a pretty outrageous statement when you think about it. We recently learned that members of the justice department wrote memos justifying torture.

And we know that the justice department illegally fired attorneys for their political affiliation. Yet I am supposed to believe that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a man who had to resign due to criminal allegations, is somehow “above” a stripper?

There is a hilarious line in one of Chris Rock’s stand-ups about a father’s job being to keep his daughter off the pole. Is stripping really the worst thing that could happen to someone? Would you rather have your daughter writing memos condoning torture? Would you rather have your daughter beaten up every night in a ring?

Why is the way Randy “the Ram” sold himself more acceptable? Why is selling violence (with a little sex on the side) more respectable than selling sex? Why is sex dirtier than violence?