New Fishnet Story: “In the Stacks”

Fishnet logo There could have been better places to do it. I knew that. Sure. I know a lot of things, but processing information is always a little bit harder when you’re pressed up against a shelf in the stacks with a girl making sure you stay there, all curves slotting into your own curves like a fucking puzzle piece, all black hair and mint gum and hands rough and chapped from the cold wind outside.

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Thus begins the latest story on Fishnet, the online erotic fiction magazine I’m editing: In the Stacks, by Sunny Moraine. To read more, read the rest of the story. (Not for anyone under 18.) Enjoy!

Greta Speaking at Stanford About Atheism and Sexuality, May 10

Stanford-seal_logo I have a new speaking gig scheduled! I’ll be speaking at Stanford University about atheism and sexuality — my two favorite polite dinner-table topics — on Monday, May 10, from 7 to 9 pm. I’ll be speaking for an hour, with plenty of time for Q&A afterward. The event is sponsored by Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics (AHA!) at Stanford, and is part of my ongoing gig on the speakers’ bureau of the Secular Student Alliance. (Who are awesome, by the way, and you should become a fan of them on Facebook.)

The event will be at Building 420, Room 041, Main Quad, Stanford (here’s a map). If you’ll be in the Bay Area, stop by, listen to me gas on, and come say howdy!

Atheist Meme of the Day: Religions Are Inconsistent

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

If God is real, why are people’s perceptions of him so wildly different, and even totally contradictory? The physical universe is also huge and complex and bizarre — and yet, by comparing notes and collaborating, our understanding of it has moved forward dramatically. That is conspicuously not true of religion. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

Mis-Matched Libidos: Can Mixed Marriages Ever Work?

If your partner doesn’t like sex nearly as often as you do — or if they like sex a lot more often than you do — what can you do about it?

And when pondering this question, would your first and only answer be, “Break up”?

Dan_savage There’s this thing that happens to me freakishly often. I write a piece inspired by a Dan Savage “Savage Love” sex advice column. I spend a little time surfing around, looking at other stuff he’s been writing. And I find something that makes the top of my head come off in rage. Or at least, in profound irritation. I like the guy’s thinking most of the time… but when he gets it wrong, he gets it really, really wrong.

In this particular instance of wrongness, Savage was writing about a pattern he sees a lot in his letters: the problem of couples with mis-matched libidos. In many couples, one partner is more interested in sex than the other, and likes to have sex more often. A whole lot more often, in many cases. It’s a very common problem in relationships, and sex educators/ couples’ counselors/ sex advice columnists encounter it again and again and again. (And no — it isn’t always the man in opposite-sex couples who wants sex more. Very often, it’s not.)

Savage’s advice? To all these people?

Give up. It’s never going to work. He’s just not that into you. Or she. Save yourself a lot of misery in the years down the road… and just call it quits now.

A piece of advice that left my jaw hanging open in shock.

Really, Dan?

That’s your first and only answer?

Really?

I mean, just off the top of my head, I can think of half a dozen options that couples with mis-matched libidos might want to try. Without even thinking about it all that hard. Before we go advising couples around the world to call it quits, why don’t we take a look at some of these options? (And if you can think of ones I don’t mention here, btw, please speak up in the comments. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of ideas — just a handful of the more obvious ones.)

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Thus begins my latest piece for the Blowfish Blog, Mis-Matched Libidos: Can Mixed Marriages Ever Work? To find out what specific options I think couples with mis-matched libidos might want to try — and to gape in astonishment with me at Dan Savage’s “one size fits all” answer to these questions — read the rest of the piece. (And if you feel inspired to comment here, please consider cross-posting your comment to the Blowfish Blog — they like comments there, too.) Enjoy!

Atheist Meme of the Day: Supernatural Explanations Have Never Been Right

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!

Throughout history, supernatural explanations of phenomenon have never once proven to be right. Upon careful examination, they have always been replaced with natural ones — thousands upon thousands of times. So why would we ever assume that any unexplained phenomenon is probably supernatural? Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

Atheist Meme of the Day: “Religion Is Useful” is a Bad Argument

Scarlet letterToday’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!

“Religion is psychologically or socially useful” is not a good argument for why religion is true. And it’s very often not correct: religion has historically been extremely divisive, and countries with high rates of non-belief tend to be countries with high levels of social functioning. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

Atheist Meme of the Day: Criticism Is Not Disrespectful

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!

There is a big difference between criticizing an idea, and being disrespectful or intolerant of a person. And that’s just as true for religion as anything else. It’s not intolerant for atheists to say we think religion is mistaken… any more than it’s intolerant to say any idea is mistaken. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

After You, My Dear Alphonse

Alphonsegaston “Oh, I don’t know. What do you want to do?”

It took me way too many years to learn that this is not always a nice thing to say. That, in fact, it’s usually not a nice thing to say. It took me way too many years to learn that, although “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” may seem like a good way to be polite and accommodating and easy-going, much of the time it’s actually a gigantic buzz-kill. It’s a great way to wind up not doing anything fun at all. Especially if everyone involved is playing the same game, in endless rounds of, “After you, my dear Alphonse.”

And that’s just as true with sex as it is with general social intercourse.

I was inspired to write this, as I often am, by a recent Savage Love sex advice column. In this column (second letter from the top), the querant was asking what she and her boyfriend could do about a sex life that she described as “meh.” And she said:

We often ask each other, “What else can I do for you?” I’ve shared a couple ideas, which we’ve explored to my minimal comfort, but he always says “Nothing” when asked if there’s anything he wants to do or try. We have discovered that neither of us particularly cares if we, ourselves, reach orgasm, but we both care very deeply that the other is satisfied. In this light: While I don’t care much if the sex is mediocre for me, I do want it to be better for him.

[facepalm]

I actually do have sympathy. I have so totally done this, way more times than I care to admit. I’ve held back on asking for what I want in bed, not just out of fear of being seen as freaky and sick (or as boring and trite), but out of fear of being seen as selfish. Even when my partner was asking me, “Is there anything in particular you’d like to do?” — in other words, even when they were making clear, in explicit, unambiguous, actual words, that they wanted to know my sexual desires so they could potentially have the pleasure of satisfying them — I’ve still dodged, equivocated, said some version of, “Oh, I don’t know — what do you want to do?”

So I have sympathy. But at the same time, this letter makes me want to smash my forehead repeatedly into the nearest flat surface. And then smack the querant on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper. (Along with her boyfriend.)

Because this dynamic is a perfect recipe for mediocre sex.

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Thus begins my latest piece on the Blowfish Blog, After You, My Dear Alphonse. To find out why forgoing your own desire in favor of your partner’s is a recipe for mediocre sex — and why it’s actually a less generous approach to sex than it appears — read the rest of the piece. (And if you feel inspired to comment here, please consider cross-posting your comment to the Blowfish Blog — they like comments there, too.) Enjoy!

Greta Speaking This Weekend at Secular Student Alliance New England Regional Summit

Logo Ingrid is (a) doing somewhat better and (b) spending the weekend with her mom, so I’m off to the Secular Student Alliance New England Regional Summit. I’ll be giving my talk on What Atheists Can Learn from the GLBT Movement. If you’re going to be there, be sure to say howdy. (And on Friday, I’ll get to see Mythbusters on Humanism the Mythbusters are getting the Annual Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism, presented each year by the Harvard Secular Society on behalf of the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard and the American Humanist Association. Neat!)

I’ll be back on Sunday, hopefully back to blogging at a semi-regular schedule, although my time and energy may still be pretty shredded, and I’m making no promises. Anyway, see y’all soon!