My Sexual Resolutions

(Note: This piece discusses my personal sexuality and tastes in porn. Family members and others who don’t want to read that, please don’t.)

Champagne I’m one of those scary people who makes New Year’s Resolutions and takes them fairly seriously. I like having an annual tradition of taking stock of my life and my goals, thinking about what I want to accomplish in the coming year and deciding what I need to do to make that happen. I think it’s my hyper-responsibility gene kicking in. (“Happy New Year! Are you really living up to your potential?”) I even follow through on my resolutions more often than not.

Usually my resolutions have to do with my writing career: finishing a book proposal, contacting new publishers, etc. But this year, I’ve decided to take my own advice about making sex a priority. I’m going to put some conscious thought into what I want my sex life to look like in the coming year — and what actions I need to take to make that happen.

If this inspires you to make some sexual resolutions of your own — speak up in the comments and tell me what they are!

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Thus begins my latest piece on the Blowfish Blog, My Sexual Resolutions. To find out more, read the rest of the piece. (And if you’re inspired to comment here, please consider cross-posting your comment to the Blowfish Blog — they like comments there, too.) Enjoy — and Happy New Year!

Happy Birthday To Me

Monkey Birthday Happy birthday to me
I don’t live in a tree
But I look like a primate
Because I am one.

I was going to write a new evolution- themed birthday song for myself this year; but I didn’t get it together in time, so I’m reviving this one from a couple of years ago. Happy birthday to me — and Happy New Year to all y’all!

Atheist Meme of the Day: Atheists Feel Love and Connection

Scarlet letter Today’s Atheist Meme of the Day, from my Facebook page. Pass this on; or don’t; or edit it as you see fit; or make up your own. Enjoy!

Atheists feel love, connection, compassion, and empathy as much as anyone else. We don’t think these experiences come from a god or an immaterial soul; but we feel them just as passionately and take them just as seriously as any religious believer. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

New Fishnet Story: “High Noon”

Fishnet “Doctor by day, dominatrix by night.” I can see the headline, the tacky picture of a discipline queen, whip in one hand, stethoscope in the other. After all, why not? I’m good at my day job. People undress at my command everyday, passive and grateful. “Whatever you say, doctor,” they say, “You’re the doctor, you tell me.” “Thank you, doctor,” they generally say sincerely afterwards, “that was a thorough exam all right.” I have them bending over and spreading for me all day. Why not take it to the night, spice it up? Probably make more money without the insurance hassles. The doctor was definitely IN. In charge, in control, in the mood.

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That’s an excerpt from a new story on Fishnet, the online erotic fiction magazine I’m editing. It’s titled High Noon, by Mollie Shannon. To read more, read the rest of the story. (Not for anyone under 18.) Enjoy!

Atheist Meme of the Day: Death is Part of Life

Scarlet letter Today’s Atheist Meme of the Day, from my Facebook page. Pass this on; or don’t; or edit it as you see fit; or make up your own. Enjoy!

Atheism does have comfort to offer in the face of death. Among other things, it offers the idea that death is an inherent part of life — necessary in order for life and change to move forward. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

Moving Goalposts and Important Faith: Religion and the Universality of Bad Excuses

Apparently, the bad excuses for the lack of good evidence supporting religion aren’t limited to Christianity and Western theology.

They seem to be universal.

Transformers Over at Friendly Atheist, we have a story from Liberia of people who believe that some hunters can transform themselves into animals. A visiting researcher, Chris Blattman, offered them cash money if someone could demonstrate this ability to him… an offer that got upped substantially when they got wind of the James Randi Educational Foundation’s offer of one million dollars to anyone who can demonstrate evidence of paranormal, supernatural, or occult powers or events under carefully rigorous scientific conditions.

On hearing of this potential windfall, the believers in the human/ animal transformers became very excited. At first, anyway. But then, as you might expect, the parade of excuses began trickling in.

Excuses that will look all too familiar to anyone who’s spent any time at all debating with religious believers and reading religious apologetics.

In the end, it turns out he can’t perform the full transformation in the city, only in forested regions. We offered to drive out of the city, but it seems only in his home county of Nimba can he do so. Nimba will have to wait for my next trip (we have, in fact, a project there) but you’ll forgive me if I haven’t reserved judgment.

Goalposts I can name that excuse in three notes! It’s Moving The Goalposts! Commonly seen in the form of, “To prove evolution, you need to find a transitional fossil between Thing 1 and Thing 2… okay, now you have to find a transitional fossil between Thing 1 and Thing 1.5… well, fine, but now you have to find a transitional fossil between Thing 1 and Thing 1.2.” Or, “The Bible is infallible and reliable. Well, okay, not the Old Testament, there are glaring factual errors in the Old Testament — but the New Testament is infallible and reliable. Well, okay, major parts of the New Testament seem to be flawed and mistaken — but you can’t absolutely prove with 100% certainty that those mistakes are really mistakes, and until you do, I will retain my faith.” Or, “God made all these wonderful things happen in our lives… but when bad things happen, it’s because God works in mysterious ways, and it’s not up to us to question him.”

And then we get this shabby excuse for why people cannot, as it turns out, turn into animals:


this whole post is demeaning, sensationalist, and it casts you on a very bad light. Whether this individual transforms himself into an animal in a way that matches your Hollywood-informed imagination is not as important as the fact that many people around him operate as if this was possible and true. Also, I’m hard pressed to imagine how such a belief could be detrimental to these people


Prayer Can you name that bad excuse? I thought you could! It’s “It doesn’t matter whether religion is literally true: what matters is that it’s psychologically true, or that people act as if it’s true, or that it’s important to people to believe that it’s true.” With the bonus excuse, “If it isn’t hurting anyone, what difference does it make what people believe? What do you care? It’s so intolerant of you to criticize other people’s beliefs!”

Funny how this excuse only applies to one’s own religion, or religions one approves of. You so rarely hear fundamentalist Christians say that it doesn’t matter whether Islam is literally true — what matters is that Muslims act as if it were true. You almost never hear progressive ecumenical New Age believers say, “It doesn’t matter whether Jesus really hates homosexuals — what matters is that people believe that Jesus hates homosexuals.” And you definitely never hear either of these groups say, “What difference does it make what these people believe? How could these beliefs be detrimental? What right do you have to criticize them?”

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. But given how alien this particular belief is to the most common Western religions, I was very strongly struck by how instantly familiar these apologetics were. I half expected to see someone say, “You can’t prove with 100% certainty that people don’t turn into animals — therefore, it’s reasonable to believe that they do.” Or, “When we say that people turn into animals, we don’t mean it literally — it happens in the spiritual realm, and the spiritual realm is beyond questions of physical evidence.” Or, “You’re critiquing a primitive form of this belief that nobody takes seriously anymore: you just don’t understand the advanced modern theology of human/ animal transformation.”

So I guess what I’m saying is this:

Armor 1 The excuses for why religion can’t pony up — the massive body of armor religion has built up against the expectation that it support itself with evidence — don’t seem to be specific to one religion or another. They seem to be universal: a fundamental part of how the religion trope functions.

Which means that those of us who are trying to persuade people out of it have a long, hard road ahead of us.

We better bring some snacks.

Atheist Meme of the Day: Pascal’s Wager Still Sucks

Scarlet letter Today’s Atheist Meme of the Day, from my Facebook page. Pass this on; or don’t; or edit it as you see fit; or make up your own. Enjoy!

“Believing in God is a safer bet” is a terrible reason to believe in God. It assumes that the consequences of believing in God when God doesn’t exist are neglible — and this is simply not true. People make major decisions based on their belief in God: decisions that can cause harm to themselves and others. Pass it on:… if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

Getting In the Mood

This piece was originally published on the Blowfish Blog.

In the mood How do you get in the mood if you’re not in the mood?

I’ve written before, many times, in lavish praise of scheduling sex. I’ve written about how scheduling sex can be one of the best ways to keep sex alive and lively for people who are getting older, people who have been together a long time, people who are just plain busy and overscheduled. I’ve written about the myth that being swept away by passion (as opposed to consciously making room for sex in your life) is inherently the best kind of sex… and how this myth reinforces the idea that sex is dirty and bad and the only valid excuse for it is that you were overcome by passion. And I’ve written about how you don’t need to be in the mood to have sex when you start having it: you just need to be willing to get into the mood.

All very well and good.

But how do you get there?

How do you get from A to B? If you’ve made a plan to have sex on Sunday afternoon, and Sunday afternoon rolls around and neither of you is feeling it… how do you get yourself feeling it?

How — specifically, practically, strategically — do you get in the mood?

This is a big topic with a lot of different possible answers, and I can’t hope to cover it in one little blog post. But today, I want to at least get a start on the subject. Today, instead of advocating for the broad principle of scheduling sex, I want to talk about some specific, practical strategies for making it work. I want to talk about some specific, practical strategies for making the transition from A to B: strategies for shifting mental gears, away from work or worries or errands or whatever, and towards the more intoxicating topic of the small of your lover’s back.

Burlesque 1: Dressing up. I don’t necessarily mean putting on elaborate costumes. (Although I certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone from that!) But getting out of your work clothes, your dress clothes, your errand- running clothes, and slipping into something more comfortable — or less comfortable, as the case may be — can be a great way to shift how you think about your body, and how you think about yourself. And seeing your lover in something naughty and revealing and specifically designed for sex can definitely be a great way to shift how you think about their body, and about them. The look of a sexy outfit, the feel of it on your skin, the meaning and unspoken language of it — all of that can shift your gears in a hurry. The same way dressing for a party can get you in a party mood, the same way dressing for a ball game can get you revved up to watch or play… dressing for sex can make you feel sexy, look sexy, get in the mood for sex.

Bawdy language 2: Using sexier language to describe your mood. Sometimes you can change a mood just by reframing it. If you’re tired, say instead that you’re relaxed, or languid. If you’re stressed, say that you’re keyed-up or excited. Say it to your partner; say it to yourself. A bad or disinterested mood can be shifted to a sexy one, not by trying to change your physical and emotional feelings, but by viewing those same feelings through a different frame. And the language you use is part of what sets that frame.

Ecstasy in berlin 1926 3: Reading, watching, or looking at porn. A classic, for a reason. It can help get you in the mood… and it can give you ideas of things to do once you’re there.

Japanese vibrator 4: Picking out sex toys. Just looking at toys you’ve had fun with in the past can put you in the mood for sex, simply by reminding you of those good times. And if there are toys in your collection that you haven’t tried yet, looking them over and considering whether to give them a whirl can get you into an adventurous spirit. Plus, the blunt, garishly sexual, often somewhat silly look of so many sex toys can help ease that awkward transitional stage from not-sex into sex. Or rather, it can remind us that awkwardness and sexiness aren’t necessarily contradictory. It reminds us that sex doesn’t have to be a magnificent, brilliantly choreographed, many-splendored production: it has a goofy, silly, “What would the space aliens think of they saw us doing that?” aspect to it… which doesn’t have to get in the way of the sex being intensely hot, and can even amplify its hotness.

What’s more, when you go through your sex toys and decide which ones you might want to use today, it gets you talking about sex: specific sexual options, as well as the delightful topic of sex generally. Which leads us to the all- important final item on today’s list:

Complete sex dictionary 5: Talking about things you might like to do. This can help get you in the mood in at least two ways. It gets you thinking about the topic of sex generally. And, of course, it gets you communicating and making plans, so once you do get in the mood and get things going, you have a clearer idea of what to do once you’re there. It doesn’t have to sound like it was written by Henry Miller, or even by Rocco Siffredi. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be classic dirty talk at all. It just has to be honest.

So for the sweet love of Loki and all the gods in Valhalla, when you’re sitting down for your evening’s scheduled entertainment and your lover asks, “What would you like to do?”, do not answer, “Oh, I don’t know, honey. What would you like to do?” That is the kiss of death for sex, as much as it is for dinner and movie plans. When your lover asks, “What would you like to do?”, do both of you a favor, and tell them already.

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None of this is a magic bullet. The transition from not-sex to sex can feel awkward and silly no matter what you do, and to some extent you have to just accept that. In order to schedule sex and have it work, you have to let go of the idea that sex should always be a graceful and perfect erotic ballet; that lightning should always strike both partners at the exact same time, with the exact same set of filthy ideas, without ever having to talk or even think about it.

Calendar And now and then, you’ll have to be flexible about your plans: to let them go and re-schedule, even if you’d been looking forward to it. If one or both of you is deeply exhausted or in a truly lousy mood, if the day wound up being much longer and harder than you’d anticipated and one or both of you just doesn’t have it in you… then you might need to call it off, and do it another day. (Or else do a quickie instead of a marathon.) You do want to take your sex dates seriously and not blow them off just because you don’t happen to be in the mood right at the moment — but at the same time, you don’t want sex to be like showing up for a dentist’s appointment or getting to work on time, something you have to go through with even if it’s the last thing in the world you feel like doing.

But assuming you have good sexual chemistry together, these preliminaries can be a good way to shift your mental gears, away from the daily routine, and into erotic awareness and excitement. And they have the added benefit of moving the awkward transitional stage back a bit in the proceedings. You may feel a bit silly during the preliminaries… but by the time you’ve gotten into full swing, you’re in the mood and raring to go.

So those are a few starter ideas. What works for you? If you’re someone who schedules sex in advance, how do you shift gears? How do you get your mind off of work dramas and shopping lists, and into the gutter where it belongs? Inquiring minds want to know.

Atheist Meme of the Day: Atheist About Zeus, Leprechauns, and God

Scarlet letter Today’s Atheist Meme of the Day, from my Facebook page. Pass this on; or don’t; or edit it as you see fit; or make up your own. Enjoy!

Most atheists don’t say we’re 100% sure God doesn’t exist. We simply see God the way we see Zeus or leprechauns: impossible to 100% disprove, but highly implausible, and not supported by the available evidence. And unless we see better evidence, we’re proceeding on the assumption that Zeus, leprechauns, and God don’t exist. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

Atheist Meme of the Day: Atheists Enjoy the Holidays

Scarlet letter Today’s Atheist Meme of the Day, from my Facebook page. Pass this on; or don’t; or edit it as you see fit; or make up your own. Enjoy!

Atheists enjoy the holidays as much as anyone else. We don’t observe the religious aspects, obviously; but we care about family and friends as much as anybody, and we are as happy to celebrate with them during a time of darkness and cold as much as anybody. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across. And for those who celebrate it: Merry Christmas!