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Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

Peak Relationship

The idea that sex is some sort of magic, holy sacrament despite the fact that all but the simplest life forms engage in it is a perfect example of how delusional humans can be.  Though sex is a powerful drive, so is hunger, and I don’t see anyone claiming that eating with someone else creates some magical bond between them.  I honestly feel sorry for those who truly believe that the best way to “connect” with other people is by boinking them, and the notion that people must boink to feel “connected” is a tragedy.  Sexual relationships are held up as the pinnacle of human interaction, but they’re not even close; they’re in fact nearer the bottom because they’re extremely conditional.  The true pinnacle of human interaction is intimate friendship; it persists under conditions that destroy “romances”, lasts much longer on average, and is an incredibly powerful connection despite governmental attempts to place other relationships (including sexual & familial ones and even the one-sided “relationship” between individual & State) above it.  Friendship is the most powerful kind of love in the world, which is why government constantly tries to weaken it; it persists despite the fact that, unlike practically every other relationship between two people, it has absolutely no legal status.  Other relationships require government to prop them up; friendship is the only one which is able to stand completely on its own.

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Alexandru Tanase…confessed to cleaning the teeth of Sandi Mullins.

Though I could’ve featured any number of videos for this week’s celebrity deaths, this one seemed the most appropriate.  The links above it were provided by Popehat (x2), Tim Cushing, Franklin Harris & Scott Greenfield, Radley Balko, and Amy Alkon, in that order.

From the Archives

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I understand why professionals fake orgasm, but why do women in committed relationships do it?  Isn’t that kind of counterproductive?  Wouldn’t it be better to be truthful and tell the partner what would get them off?

Sometimes I wish the myth that men don’t give a shit whether their partners climax or not were true.  Maybe it was at some time in the past, but in the present day most men I’ve been with (and that’s a very large number, as you can probably guess) care very much about it.  Now, that may be because many men feel they have “failed” at sex if they can’t get a woman to climax, due to copious messaging that men are “selfish” or incompetent or both in that department.  In other words, for some (many? most?) men it may not be about whether a woman is actually enjoying the experience, but rather about coddling his insecurities (such as worrying that she’ll run off with some other dude who can “do it better” or whatever); in other words, for these men (however common or rare they may be) a woman not orgasming during sex may poke the same emotional vulnerabilities as having a penis he believes (correctly or otherwise) is “too small”.  However, even men who are genuinely concerned for their partner’s satisfaction for reasons that couldn’t be called “selfish” without considerable logical contortion, generally labor under the delusion (cultivated by popular media) that most women are able to climax dependably if only their partner does everything “right”, as though a woman’s body were a video game which spits out the prize called “orgasm” once the player reaches a high enough total of points.  I once explained it this way:

The competitive, result-oriented male mind sees female orgasm as the target, the goal, the finish line of the “game” of sex, so his sexual pleasure is greatly enhanced if he can “score” it.  However…it isn’t that simple.  For many women orgasm is more like hunting than it is like football; it’s not just a matter of aiming a shot with proper force and accuracy into a static area, but rather of hitting a moving target which may or may not elect to show itself on that occasion…But…the average man…just can’t comprehend that the right combination of moves and techniques could through no fault of his own somehow fail to achieve what it was intended to achieve…

Because of this, men will annoyingly delay their own climax or even pepper a woman with questions about what they “did wrong”; a fake therefore acts as permission to the man to orgasm himself (rather than forcing his partner to endure tens of minutes of pistoning because he thinks that’s what women want and won’t listen if told otherwise), and fends off pointless questions and the need to perform emotional labor by explaining that it isn’t his fault and he’s not a caricature.  But before my lesbian readers get too smug (as so many do every time some report says lesbians climax more frequently than straight women do):  female partners can be just as annoying for women like me who A) simply aren’t very orgasmic; and B) dislike whatever it is that the female partner wants to do to her (often cunnilingus).  In other words, a lot (though by no means all) of fake orgasms (outside of work) are motivated by a desire to spare the partner’s feelings and circumvent the common but erroneous perception that a woman not orgasming is always due to some failure on the part of her partner, when often that may have little or nothing to do with it.
(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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In “Bad Advice”, a man was concerned about losing the image of his wife’s body as the years rolled by with no sexual contact with her.  Several readers noticed I didn’t say anything about that aspect of his question; the truth is, I didn’t feel I could answer it because men are much more visual creatures than women, and I honestly wasn’t sure what I could’ve said that wouldn’t have sounded either Pollyanna or dismissive, so I left it alone.  But one regular reader has had similar experiences himself, and last week he sent me this short answer and told me it was OK to share it.

Maggie gave me some excellent advice over 6 years ago in “On a Mountaintop”.  I took that advice, and am very glad that I did.  Seeing sex workers brings touch back into my life, affirms my sexuality, and makes me feel more whole.  My mind is more clear and focused, my mood brighter, my outlook better.  It’s been a wonderful set of experiences and I have no regrets.  But I can tell the man what will happen, or at least what happened to me.  This rejection of a man’s sexual being, coupled with his continued love and desire, creates a wound that never heals.  It’s been 10 years since I last had sex with my wife, but when we are watching a movie or TV show and a romantic scene is shown, it can penetrate my armor; when the scene suggests a happy and fulfilling sex life between an older married couple, it pierces my heart like a hot needle.  There’s nothing a sex worker can or should do about this; I am responsible for my decision to stay and endure this occasional injury.  Long term marriages are complex things, with economic and familial ties and obligations, vows and trusts and all manner of complications known only to the couple.  I have no advice for the man who wrote, just the knowledge that he will probably experience the same pain.

Here is a wound that never will heal, I know,
Being wrought not of a dearness and a death,
But of a love turned ashes and the breath
Gone out of beauty; never again will grow
The grass on that scarred acre, though I sow
Young seed there yearly and the sky bequeath
Its friendly weathers down, far Underneath
Shall be such bitterness of an old woe.
That April should be shattered by a gust,
That August should be levelled by a rain,
I can endure, and that the lifted dust
Of man should settle to the earth again;
But that a dream can die, will be a thrust
Between my ribs forever of hot pain.  –  Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Prisons act as though decades of labor law violations entitle them to exploit people in perpetuity.  –  Jacqueline Stevens

Harm Reduction

Guys, sex workers are both safer and cheaper in the long run:

…a Florida man held his wife’s lover at gunpoint and cut off the man’s penis before fleeing with the flailing appendage…Alex Bonilla was arrested hours later…Bonilla broke into his neighbor’s home…tied the neighbor up and mutilated his genitals with scissors…then took the severed penis and fled across the street to his own house…Bonilla caught his wife and the victim having sex in May…

I’m sure that from now on, whenever he wants to have sex, this dude will think of how much money he saved getting “free” amateur sex.

Elephant in the Parlor 

In other news, bear shits in woods:

Jason Miller, the former communications chief for the Trump campaign and transition team, said he hired numerous prostitutes and visited “hand job” massage parlors as recently as a few months ago…Miller made the [incredibly mundane statement] while testifying…in connection to his lawsuit against the digital media company Gizmodo …The suit accuses Gizmodo of defaming Miller with a story citing an allegation he slipped an “abortion pill” to a Florida strip[per] he impregnated….Miller denies the allegation…

Smoke and Mirrors

Another of those cases whose reported details don’t add up:

Two teenagers have been [arrested] by police [at] a property that was involved in the “sex industry” [in]…Bedfordshire…five [adults] were [also] arrested for suspected human trafficking offences…They have been released on…bail…[except for one] man [charged with]…drug…[possession]…and [the]…teenagers [held without bail under pretense of]…safeguarding…Det Insp Katie Dounias [vomited up a lot of Swedish poison about]…exploitation and human misery…

Naked Truth (#314)

Sex workers all over the world are demanding their rights:

On Saturday, July 13, 2019, a dozen prostitutes gathered before the Court of First Instance of Tetouan [Morocco] to protest against the Chief Commissioner of the city of Martil, Abdelouahab Tahiri…[who] launched a [series of pogroms] against the brothels and against the prostitutes who work in the city…The King’s Prosecutor was quick to [suppress] this demonstration, ordering the arrest of prostitutes and opening an investigation into the origin of the protests, in particular the involvement of drug barons and pimps…

Note that in Morocco, as in the US, prohibitionists pretend women can’t possibly be intelligent enough to demand our rights; whatever women do must be planned and organized by “pimps”.

If Men Were Angels

“Youth pastors” are as bad as cops:

A…youth pastor who worked at a megachurch owned by his parents got just three years in jail…for sexually abusing a teen girl.  Jordan Baird…[got] his light sentence [via plea bargain even though]…she wasn’t even his only victim…”There were other underage girls and young adults, two of whom spoke at the sentencing hearing.  Last year, Baird was convicted for sexually abusing Morgan Harding who was also 16 at the time…Baird was sentenced to eight months in prison in that case and was forced to register as a sex offender“…

Yellow Fever (#509) 

This hodgepodge of idiotic lies, myths, wild exaggerations, wanking fantasies and long-debunked propaganda was shoveled into a column by Business Insider and presented as “surprising facts and statistics”.  You’ll recognize most of it, but my favorite is the claim that “In 2015, five out of 10 of Homeland Security’s ‘most wanted’ sex traffickers were from Tenancingo…There were estimates that one in 10 people from Tenancingo were involved in trafficking.”  In truth, the actual number of “traffickers” was two, and the actual number of “victims” 26; the operation ended in 2011, four years before the claims that “1 in 10” people were involved (the actual population of the town is about 10,000).  When I point out that this article appeared in the same publication only 5 days earlier, you may understand why this appears under this particular heading.

If It Were Legal (#656)

So much for any hope this myth would be dead by the next election:

In one year, Democrats will choose their choice for president, right here in Milwaukee.  But big events like political conventions come with a dark side…as tens of thousands of people plan to descend on the city [like locusts]…Emmy Myers of Lacey’s Hope Project [vomited]…“We want people to know that these victims that may be at the DNC or any other large gathering are going to look like normal people [even though they’re really subhuman whores]”…“Paid sex is forced sex. You are paying to rape someone” [she fantasized, moaning with her hand in her pants]…

Don’t worry, Republicans; if the past is any indication, your convention will also be the subject of similar prohibitionist masturbatory fantasies.

Schadenfreude (#668) 

“Education” here means confinement in the notorious Prey Speu prison, which you can learn more about at the subtitle link: “[Cambodian] police rounded up prostitutes who solicit on the streets and under the trees around the historic site of Wat Phnom…A total of 49 prostitutes, 37 women and 12 men/ladyboys were sent for education…

Pyrrhic Victory (#888) 

Another step toward the end of privacy, everywhere:

…Like the iris or fingerprint, our unique cardiac signature can be used as a way to [identify] us…Crucially, it can be done from a distance…Other long-range biometric techniques include gait analysis…But…cardiac signature…remains constant and cannot be altered or disguised…A new device, developed for the Pentagon…can identify people without seeing their face[s]: instead it detects their unique cardiac signature with an infrared laser…it [currently] works at 200 meters…[but] longer distances could be possible with a better laser…the new device, called Jetson, uses a technique known as laser vibrometry to detect the surface movement caused by the heartbeat.  This works though typical clothing like a shirt and a jacket (though not thicker clothing such as a winter coat)…

Business As Usual (#905)

Columbus wants to give every pig the opportunity to rape women rather than limiting it to one rape gang:

Four months after disbanding the Columbus police vice [gang], Interim Chief Thomas Quinlan is bringing…it back in a new format [designed to distract the attention of the gullible]…The [gang] will…rotate [cops] in and out to [supposedly] prevent [them] from becoming too comfortable with each other…the [gang] will have specific directives and…supervisors [just like all the other cops who go arounf robbing, raping ad murdering people]…Former [gang member] Andrew Mitchell is currently under federal indictment [for raping] at least two women [and murdering]…Donna Castleberry [when she resisted his attempt to rape her]…

Don’t Call It Trafficking (#934) 

It’s good to see the fascist establishment hoist with its own petard:

…a senior executive in the nation’s second-largest private prison company went to [ICE] with a desperate plea: to pick up their multimillion-dollar legal bills.  Over the last five years, a series of people formerly held in GEO Group’s private immigration [prisons] have sued the company over [their enslavement while]…detaine[d]…[those] who refuse [are locked in] solitary confinement.  Half a dozen suits are challenging the [enslavement]…and seeking damages for detainees from GEO and CoreCivic, another private prison company…[because] the [schemes] break a landmark law against human trafficking

To Molest and Rape (#939)

Your regular reminder that rapist cops are not limited to the US:

A [Merseyside cop] who stopped women [using the pretext of] speeding and then used official records to target them for [rape] has been [given a slap on the wrist].  Ben Murphy…would give women smaller penalties, such as for not wearing a seatbelt even when they were, to gain their trust.  He [then stalked his] victims on social media, before using police records to contact them…He targeted at least [ten women before being] reported to an MP by a nurse…he [targe]ted in November 2017, triggering a police investigation…Murphy was jailed for [a mere] two years and four months…

Believe Them (#952)

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time“:

An unofficial commemorative coin has been circulating among Border Patrol agents at the U.S./Mexico border, mocking the task of caring for migrant children and other duties that have fallen to agents as families cross into the U.S.  On the front, the coin declares “KEEP THE CARAVANS COMING” under…a caricature of the “caravan” from last fall, which started in Honduras and attracted thousands of people as it moved north…The coin’s reverse side features the Border Patrol logo and three illustrations: a Border Patrol agent bottle-feeding an infant; an agent fingerprinting a teen boy wearing a backwards baseball cap; and a U.S. Border Patrol van…

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I’ve followed Cathy Reisenwitz‘ work since I started this blog, yet somehow we’ve never had a guest column from her!  So when I saw that she’s started a new newsletter, I jumped at the excuse.

It’s a tragedy of feminism that so many of us are stumped by a very easy question:  Is sex work a choice?  Ask any current sex worker and they’ll tell you:  Sucking dick for money under patriarchal capitalism is as much a choice as cleaning toilets.  But one pays a lot better.  Is being a housewife a choice?  If your view is that society worships motherhood and despises ambitious women, then obviously those forces will influence women’s choices.  But an influenced choice is still a choice, something many radical feminists don’t like to admit.  Radfems like to straw-man arguments for female autonomy as choice feminism.  But when the women in question have power, suddenly the question changes.  While downtrodden and oppressed women aren’t allowed to make their own choices, women in positions of power are afforded unlimited options.  I find a particularly interesting example of this “choice only for the powerful” phenomenon in feminist author Jill Filipovic’s treatment of presidential hopeful Kamala Harris.  While Filipovic equivocates about sex work and choice feminism, she asks for nuance when considering Harris’s choice to use her powers as a prosecutor to deprive women of the choice to engage in safe sex work.

Harris’ record as prosecutor reveals a woman who is more than happy to use the criminal justice system to keep other women from engaging in sex work without fear of violence, arrest, or imprisonment.  Harris arrested Backpage.com executives and illegally charged them with pimping and conspiracy, then after a judge threw out the case Harris filed nearly identical charges in another California court; the First Amendment Lawyers’ Association described the maneuvers as “a gross abuse of prosecutorial discretion.”  Harris fought Backpage and continues to support FOSTA in the name of fighting human trafficking, yet everyone from Amnesty International to the World Health Organization says that decriminialization leads to lower rates of sex trafficking.  Despite this, Harris has consisently sided with prostitution prohibitionists and supported police raids of sex workers.  And while San Francisco Bay Area police officers were committing actual sex trafficking, Harris and her office pretended it wasn’t happening.  Jill Filipovic is quite aware of the “Kamala Harris is a cop” meme, but has a more nuanced take.  In a recent op-ed, Filipovic asks readers to consider the competing interests Kamala had to take into account when making choices as a prosecutor (if Harris hadn’t defended the death penalty she risked alienating politically powerful police unions; if she hadn’t fought the California anti-overcrowding court ruling the state would’ve missed out on slave labor, etc).  I’m not sure how to justify her choice to become a prosecutor in the first place; as Joe Biden pointed out in the recent Dem debate, “I was a public defender. I didn’t become a prosecutor.”  Filipovic is able to see Harris’s choices through the lens of a woman navigating a minefield of racism and sexism while also balancing careerism and her own conscience, yet when it comes to sex workers, all that nuance is reduced to “choice feminism.”

In Supporting Sex Workers’ Rights, Opposing the Buying of Sex, Filipovic writes, “[In Utopia], sex would be a fun thing, a collaborative thing, always entered into freely and enthusiastically and without coercion.  Of course women should have the right to do what they want with their own bodies, and of course there are many sex workers who aren’t trafficked or forced into the trade.  But that smacks a bit too much of ‘I choose my choice!’ feminism, which I find to be incredibly intellectually lazy.”  What’s really incredibly intellectually lazy is to spend hundreds of words apologizing for a woman who chose to arrest and incarcerate sex workers and make their jobs less safe to bolster her own career, and then dismiss the fight for sex work decriminalization as “choice feminism.”  Are sex workers not doing the best job they can considering there are negative consequences to every position they could take?

A look at my own experience with sex work may be helpful in illustrating this.  From the time I walked the aisle at a tent revival and confessed my sins and gave my heart to Jesus at five years old, I’ve always been a true believer.  I’m not sure if I ever signed a purity pledge, but I might as well have.  I met my favorite high school boyfriend at a good old-fashioned Southern Baptist abstinence retreat, and I lost my virginity at 22, on my wedding night.  As I pulled away from religion, my husband drew in; by the time I said I wanted a separation four years in, he said he’d only see the pastor and his wife for marriage counseling.  I studied her perfect highlights as they refused to talk about the problems in our marriage until my relationship with Jesus was fully addressed.  Sometime between the divorce and today I got paid for sex for the first time, because once you see that traditional marriage is just one long, nominally exclusive mutually beneficial arrangement you really can’t unsee it; then the question becomes how long, and how exclusive, do you want the arrangement to be?

I was a sex work activist before I was a sex worker, because a feminism that doesn’t include self-ownership is no feminism at all, and women don’t own our bodies if we aren’t allowed to rent them out.  Contrary to the carceral feminists, I don’t believe any kind of consensual sex should involve arrest or imprisonment.  In what universe can a woman consent to cleaning a toilet for money under capitalism, but not to sucking dick?  Such a conception is utterly infantilizing, superstitious, and antifeminist.  It’s not despite my femimism that I support sex work decriminalization; it’s because of it.  Whoring has always been one of the only ways a low-born woman could rise above her station; sex work enables more women (and men) than you’ll ever know who don’t have trust funds to pursue social justice, music, comedy, and acting.  Or writing feminist screeds, in my case.  I’m neither proud nor ashamed of having done sex work.  If I had been a great sex worker I’d be proud, but I wasn’t; I didn’t find most of my clients interesting and I’m bad at pretending.  Yet I found sex work empowering even though I didn’t like doing it; maybe it’s my libertarian showing, but I tend to believe more options are better than fewer.

I’ve been writing about feminism, sex, and capitalism for the past ten years, mostly at Sex and the State; in that time I’ve changed my thinking on everything from abortion and sex work to the social safety net.  My writing is thinking aloud and learning in public.  I’m honored to have learned from women like Maggie, who turns the “prostituted woman” trope on its head; far from being abused or oppressed (except by cops and an overinvolved state), no one could prostitute Maggie except Maggie herself.  I’m still a true believer — evangelical as the day is long — but what I’m preaching has changed quite a bit.  I invite you to join my sex-positive libertarian feminist tent revival, by subscribing to my daily email.

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The witch Thiana Gian seems to be a nice sky.  –  Paul Simon, kinda

I discovered another clever YouTube channel this week; this one is from a young woman who uses Google translate to translate the lyrics of various songs into several different languages and then back into English, and then sings the results.  She has lots of examples, but this one is straightforward and not overlong and gives a good sample of what the others are like.  The links above it were provided by Scott Greenfield, Jesse Walker, Angela Keaton, Matt Welch, Violet Blue, and Mike Siegel, in that order.

From the Archives

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