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Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

Beyond the Pale

Last week I saw this question linked on Twitter, and I was rather dissatisfied with the answer the advice columnist gave.  So even though it wasn’t directed at me, I am going to answer it in case any of my readers is ever in a similar situation.

My husband wanted to try anal…I let myself be talked into trying.  I hated it.  We tried again.  I hated it.  We tried with toys of slowly increasing sizes. I hated it…We try it now every few months at most…and I inevitably cry during and after…I want to never ever do this again or even hear him ask about it, suggest it, or joke about it.  He keeps saying he doesn’t want it to hurt, but thinks it’s fair for him to keep wanting it and keep asking for it…thinking of my husband as the man who sometimes pesters me to go through this kind of pain on his behalf has done a lot of damage to my enjoyment of sex and intimacy in general.  He says he needs some variety.  An open arrangement is not on the table.  Is one of us being unfair?  Are both of us?…

First of all, I really hate the word “fair”, and this is a perfect example of why.  Reality is reality, and it doesn’t change just because one person (in this case your husband) is unhappy with the results.  It isn’t “fair” to my friends that I get to claim the front seat in every car ride where I’m not driving, but because of my severe vertigo it’s necessary unless somebody wants to clean up vomit and listen to me crying like a little girl.  It doesn’t matter whether your aversion to anal is physical, emotional or something else; the fact is that it exists, and that’s that.  You clearly want to make your husband happy, but you’ve made the effort many times with the same result, and he needs to accept that; now it’s his turn to make you happy by giving up this butt obsession before it utterly destroys your sex life and possibly your relationship.  You say you don’t want an open relationship, and given his inability to respect boundaries I think that’s wise; however, please recognize that if he’s as obsessed by this as it seems, he may go behind your back anyway, and if that happens you will need to decide if you’re willing to continue trusting him.  In any case, stop trying to do something that distresses you so; set a firm boundary and tell him you are done even talking about it.

For the husband:   Dude, WTF?  I understand you’ve got a fetish for anal, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  But there’s plenty wrong with your insistence on repeatedly violating your wife’s consent.  It was fine for you to ask her once, and even to wheedle her a bit if she was reluctant.  But to continue insisting, begging, haranguing or whatever else you’ve been doing to get her to try something she obviously hates over and over and over is sadistic, and I don’t mean that in a good way.  You are harming both her and your relationship, and for what?  If you absolutely must experience this, do what ethical men have done since time immemorial and go hire a sex worker who is open to this activity.  Do not try to pick up some amateur in a bar, or go on some dumb dating site, unless you actually want to destroy your marriage; find a discreet professional who offers this service and see her as needed.  Do not just pick an escort at random and assume Greek is on the menu, because not everyone offers it (and the ones who do may not offer it to everyone, or not on the first date, or some other stipulation) and it requires special preparation (which, judging by your wife’s letter, you seem not to comprehend).  And if you do go that route, please be discreet yourself; it’s OK to get your needs met, but it’s not OK to hurt your wife because you’re too damned selfish to think with the big head.

(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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I can’t breathe.  –  Mohammed Muyhamin

Six decades after his heyday, Tom Lehrer remains as funny and topical as ever, as evidenced by his “Christmas Carol” from 1959.  The links above the video were provided by Emma EvansDave KruegerJesse WalkerJillian Keenan, Jesse Walker again, and Tim Cushing, in that order.

From the Archives

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Coincidentally, this article about “financial abortion” came to my attention just the day before yesterday’s reader question did, but they both touch on the same subject:  the oppressive “family court” and mandated-child support system.  The article points out that while a pregnant woman has the right to “opt out” of the burden of unwanted motherhood by choosing abortion, the man who got her pregnant has no similar right; if she chooses to have the baby he’s on the hook financially for over two decades, even if she told him she was using contraception and he strenuously objects to fatherhood.  Some MRAs, anti-abortion nuts and politicians have proposed that a man should have veto power over a woman he has impregnated, but this is obviously an abomination; every person owns their own body, and absolutely nobody else (and certainly not the state) has the right to control what that person does with their body.  At the same time, it seems reasonable for a man to have some recourse against consent violation, so some have proposed that a man could legally sever all ties during the pregnancy, dodging his financial responsibilities by voluntarily surrendering his parental rights.

I’m not going to waste my time or energy in a fruitless Mars/Venus emotional discussion about men’s inability to keep their dicks in their pants, the responsibility for contraception, the “unfairness” of Nature, “But the children!” or any other insoluble malarkey.  Nor do I believe for one second that a government which claims every citizen as property of the state and uses violent threats in an insane attempt to micromanage every aspect of its citizens’ lives, to the point where it is willing to lock people in cages to keep them from experiencing pleasure in a way it doesn’t approve of, or literally force unwilling women to endure the dangers and burdens of pregnancy and childbirth against their wills, would ever agree to let men out of a convenient noose and women out of a trap where they’re forced to rely on Big Brother and be tied to a useless man for two decades.  Puritanical US “authorities” want sex to be as dangerous and consequence-laden as they can make it, which is why prostitution is criminalized, abortions & birth control are the subjects of so many ban attempts, and “family court” is a nightmare for everyone but the lawyers and bean-counters.  The only thing I want to do here is to propose (not debate, sorry) a framework which a hypothetical free society (in which the rights to contraception and abortion were unquestioned) might use to resolve this dilemma.

The principle of self-ownership demands that the government stay completely out of the lives of individuals who have not committed violence against others, and that includes their reproductive lives.  Therefore, the only just and ethical way of dealing with the situation is to simply recognize reality: the child is the chattel, sole responsibility and sole right of the mother.  Up until the advent of DNA testing just a few years ago, there was no sure way to determine the male parent of a child anyway, so the whole concept of “legitimate fatherhood” hasn’t any more tangible connection to reality than angels dancing on pinheads (as any loving adoptive father or stepfather will tell you).  Fatherhood in the social sense has absolutely nothing to do with DNA and everything to do with emotional and economic investment in the child, and the idea that someone can be compelled to love by court order is as vile as it is absurd.  If the biological parents of a child want DNA tests, in other words if biological parentage matters to them, well and fine and may Hera bless them.  But the outcome of such a test should have absolutely no legal weight; it should confer neither paternal rights nor paternal obligations.  If a man wants the former, he can offer the mother the latter; if a mother wants the latter, she can offer any man (not necessarily the biological father) the former.  If they both agree on the terms, a lawyer makes a contract and they’re done; disputes are settled in ordinary civil courts under ordinary contract law, with no special “family” mumbo-jumbo involved.  No more custody battles; no more bureaucrats making intimate decisions for mothers.  Just the recognition of biological reality and the removal of one of government’s most effective means of controlling the individual.

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I’m a sex worker in love with a wonderful, kind, but very weak man who, after years and several children with an abusive, mentally ill wife is financially fucked and legally cornered by a Kafkaesque divorce court system.  Jail might be in his future, if not suicide, and in the meantime court-ordered child support and other payments have left him literally unable to afford rent so he’s now homeless.  I feel like I will have to decide to leave him because he can’t emotionally or financially survive the abuse by his ex and the court, and I can’t be in relationship with a broken person who feels entitled to a reality that will not come.  Any advice would be appreciated. 

Since he has allowed this to go on for far too long, whatever chance he might have had at the beginning has long since gone down the toilet; the only way he’s going to carve out even the most basic protection is to hire a top-notch divorce lawyer who will fight his ex’s no-holds-barred assaults with even more ruthless assaults.  What could such a lawyer win for him?  I have no idea, but at this point, he will be doing well to be left with some money to live on and protection from further spurious accusations.  Of course, if he doesn’t even have enough money to pay rent, he can’t afford a lawyer.  And that means you need to decide – I’m sorry, but there’s no nice way to say this – if this relationship is worth your emotional and financial investment.  I believe you when you say that he’s a wonderful man, and that you love him.  But I also agree with you that he’s weak, and has not fought this to win but to “roll over”.  From what you describe in your very detailed letter, he made a long succession of mistakes in every single interaction with his ex from the very beginning, starting with his decision to fuck her in the first place.  Does that mean he “deserves” what has happened to him?  Absolutely fucking not.  And yet, here we are.  And you need to make decisions based in current reality, not romantic fantasies or might-have-beens or “if I won the lottery”.  If you stay with this man you will be supporting him until his youngest child is out of university, and maybe even longer than that.  Any legal fees will need to come from you.  His housing and support will come from you.  Whatever malicious fees the court levies on him?  You.  And he’ll expect you to provide all the usual emotional and practical labor as well, because beside being a man he’s too devastated to provide emotional support even to himself, much less you.  I hear that you love him and he’s wonderful, but is whatever he gives you enough to justify that cost?  He is already draining you like a vampire, emotionally, financially, sexually and even physically, and that will not stop unless you stop it.

I’m sorry, honey, I know this is incredibly painful, and I wish I had some good news or happy thoughts for you.  The legal system of this country is designed to grind people into pulp, and your boyfriend obediently jumped into that machine on the orders of a dangerously unhinged woman.  So now the only thing left for you to decide is whether to risk getting sucked in yourself by reaching into the gears on the probably-vain hope of pulling him out; to just stand there and be splattered by blood and gore as the machine does its horrifying work; or to wash your hands of the whole thing.

(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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Why, in discussions about monogamy, do you use the words “harm reduction” or “pressure valve” to characterize the act of seeing a sex worker within an outwardly-monogamous marriage or partnership?

Every person has the right to control their own sexuality and no one else’s.  What this means in a monogamous marriage is that if a partner (nearly always the wife) loses sexual interest, she has the right to refuse sex; she does not, however, have the right to stop her husband from procuring what he needs elsewhere.  But while this is ethically true, most marriage laws take a dim view of so-called “infidelity” even if the only alternative is celibacy.  And even in jurisdictions where the court isn’t supposed to consider “fault”, in fact many judges do, and a husband who is caught “stepping out” is likely to get an even shorter end of the stick than he otherwise would.  Furthermore, marriage is primarily an economic and social arrangement, despite the popular lie that it’s about love and romance; even a sexless marriage may have many benefits, and the husband may wish to remain with his family rather than weather the pain and upheaval of divorce.  So if he’s going to get his sex elsewhere, it’s better for all parties if he does so discreetly, from a qualified professional practicing safe sex who has no interest in him romantically and is highly motivated to keep his secrets, rather than from an unpredictable amateur with questionable hygiene who may get pregnant, become emotionally entangled with him, start making extracontractual demands and otherwise making a mess out of what should’ve been a simple business transaction.  In simpler terms, I call sex work a harm reduction method for monogamy because it is.

(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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A phantom pregnancy is actually a real pregnancy but you have a phantom inside you rather than a human baby.  –  Amethyst Realm

Our society is in love with unnecessary warning signs, but the ones in this video (courtesy of Lenore Skenazy) are absurd even by modern US standards.  The links above it were provided by Mistress MatisseFranklin HarrisRadley BalkoWalter OlsonPhoenix Calida, Emma Evans, and David Ley, in that order.

From the Archives

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As anyone who knows me well can tell you, I’m a very affectionate person.  I touch a great deal, I like to hold hands when I walk with a partner or friend, and people I love are likely to hear me tell them so at least once every time I see them (and most of the times I text with them).  I don’t form romantic partnerships easily, and when I do they tend to be long-lasting (and devastating to me when they end); while they endure I enjoy spending time with my partner and having special things we do together, even to the point of having pet names and private jokes and all that good stuff.  I’m telling you all this so that you understand that I’m not actually biased against love or romance when I say that in the West in general and the US in particular, the “couple” has become a cultic totem second only to “The Children!” in repulsiveness and maladaptation.

Now, I’ve been part of couples for a large fraction of my adult life, and probably so have most of you reading this.  But in all that time, I have never tolerated a partner who attempted to own me, control me, or monopolize my time.  Jack’s childish jealousy was one of the reasons we fought so much and broke up so often, and even as a young adult I was never very sympathetic to girlfriends who whined that their boyfriends had interests other than them and didn’t want to spend every fucking free minute with them.  I’ve always disliked Valentine’s Day, and one of the reasons my relationship with Matt endured for 14 years was that he traveled a great deal and had interests other than me.  So when I saw these creepy things in a tweet recently, they reminded me of the hallucinations Greg Kihn’s character has when looking at the wedding guests in this video:

Sorry, couples; you’re not actually “one flesh” with a conjoined circulatory system, and it won’t hurt you to sit separately for the length of a domestic flight:

Alaska Airlines faces a public-relations storm after a gay couple were forced to give up their seats on a flight from New York City to Los Angeles…to make room for a straight couple.  Though the complainant …accepted an apology from Alaska, which said the outcome was a mistake [due to the gate agent’s being given incorrect information] and not reflective of any disrespect, dissemination of the incident on social media has damaged the airline’s image…as…gay-friendly…David Cooley, owner of a popular upscale gay bar in…West Hollywood…[was] on board [with his partner] in their assigned premium seats when a gate agent asked his companion to give up his seat and move to [steerage] so that another couple could sit together.  Although Cooley…protested that the two men were also a couple and wanted to sit together…the agent insisted that his traveling companion had to either move to coach or get off the plane…

NOBODY, single or coupled, queer or straight or asexual, should be forced to move from their seat so a “couple” can sit together.  What the fuck is that about, really?  “Hi, you need to move because these two people like to shove their body parts into each other’s orifices.”  Really?  Wanna sit together?  Plan ahead & get reserved seats; done.  And if you have those seats, as Cooley and his partner did, you shouldn’t be forced to move for those who didn’t (and certainly not moved from First Class back into the cattle car).  I’ve been separated from partners on planes because of circumstances (standby flying, last-minute plans, poor planning on our part or whatever) before and we lived.  But then, we weren’t the devotees of a weird religion which teaches that we somehow deserve precedence over other people because we habitually boink each other.

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