Steubenville, consent, alcohol, and me: my stories of sexual non-quest

This post is going to contain some stories about my personal life – specifically, my sex life. If you’d rather not know that kind of information about me, this is probably where you want to stop reading. Also trigger warning for discussion of rape (but I swear there’s nothing explicit).

I generally don’t blog about rape. My specific opinion on the topic (spoilers: I’m opposed to it) is barely marginally helpful, as I am just as likely to set foot in the wrong place as I am to say something profound, and there are people who are much more directly affected by the discussion than I am. My preference is to read the opinions of others who have more pragmatic experience with the topic, either as someone who has been raped, someone who works with rape victims, or someone for whom fear of rape is part of their daily life and decision making. Listening to those voices has been immeasurably helpful to my own understanding of the topic and the sociology underpinning it.

One of the biggest shifts in my thinking – more crystalization than a real ‘shift’ – is about the topic of consent and how it relates to alcohol. I managed to figure out on my own that you shouldn’t do anything drunk with someone that you wouldn’t do sober, and that you should extend that to a potential partner – if ze wouldn’t fuck you unless ze was wasted, it’s not okay. I don’t know that I considered that ‘rape’ before I began reading feminist writings (I probably would have just thought it was a shitty thing to do to someone), but I have no problem identifying it as such now.

I have avoided talking about the rape of Jane Doe in Steubenville, Ohio because, again, I don’t think I have anything useful to add to the topic. I’m glad the judge didn’t buy the argument that a girl who was so drunk that she had to be physically carried out of a room was still sober enough to consent to sex. I think that anyone who thinks that the blame starts and ends with the two boys who raped her is severely deluded, as are those who wish to completely exonerate them. Hopefully this case will be high-profile enough to spark a discussion about the messages we send boys about masculinity and about sex and about women and about consent. [Read more…]

HIV/AIDS & Stigma (Canadian Edition Lite)

A post by Jamie

This past Saturday was World AIDS Day. If you didn’t know, that’s OK. Now you do. As I was walking up to the site of an anti-abortion hate group demonstration to go picket them, a group of people in my city were giving out free hugs to anyone who wanted one, and passing out red ribbons to spread a message of compassion for everyone who is presently living with or at risk of HIV/AIDS. And while prevention of the spread of HIV/AIDS and raising awareness to reduce stigma faced by people living with HIV/AIDS are both really important sides of the conversation, there’s another side to it that often gets overlooked or completely ignored: institutionalized HIV/AIDS discrimination. For the purposes of relative brevity only, I am limiting the content of this post to HIV/AIDS discrimination in Canada, and will not be addressing the racial component (i.e., which racial groups are at highest risk). It should go without saying that this is already a loaded topic. I’m going to warm this post up by providing you readers with a video link for the trailer of a powerful documentary about the life-long effects of discriminatory North American laws (specifically in the U.S.) on HIV-positive people, before I break down some basic terminology:

HIV Is Not A Crime – A 2011 Documentary by Sean Strub

[Read more…]

Good thing we’re studying the important issues

We live, as we ever have, in a time of great uncertainty. Climate change is undeniable, but specific and plausible paths forward are seemingly beyond our grasp. We face an inscrutable economic future, with a whirlwind of contradicting ideas constantly blowing around us. Despite the progress we’ve made unlocking the mysteries of the cell and the double-helix, human health is still very much a crap-shoot. Genetic manipulation of food, once seeming to hold the promise for the cure to world hunger, has revealed itself to be far more complex than we could have imagined. In the face of these interminable unanswered questions, it’s hard to look at the scientific enterprise as something upon which we can consistently rely.

And yet, even with such epistemic despondency so justified, there are occasional bright spots where we can lean confidently upon the rigour that science provides us and make confident conclusions about the world. For it is science, that great illuminator, that has finally bestowed upon our poor race a great and fundamental certainty, answering once and for all one of the great questions that has plagued mankind, lo these many years: does getting an HPV vaccination turn your daughter into, like, a total slutbag? [Read more…]

Paging Dr. Freud?

I am not really a big supporter of the whole “anti-gay bigots are secretly closeted gay men” meme. I find it far too ‘pat’ an answer – human behaviour and beliefs are multifaceted and complex. While there have been a number of examples where anti-gay crusaders (Eddie Long, George Rekers, Ted Haggard) have turned out to be something other than the sterling avatars of pure heterosexuality that they claim to be, there are enough men in public life who hate gays with equal sincerity and virulence who show no evidence of being gay, secretly or otherwise. Whatever the relationship between gay hatred and self-hatred by gay men, I find that particular explanation sometimes borders on succumbing to ‘shaming’ straight men for being gay, and that makes me uncomfortable.

All that being said, sometimes there doesn’t seem to be any other explanation*:

“Untrammeled homosexuality can take over and destroy a social system,” says [anti-gay activist Paul] Cameron. “If you isolate sexuality as something solely for one’s own personal amusement[1], and all you want is the most satisfying orgasm you can get- and that is what homosexuality seems to be-then homosexuality seems too powerful to resist[2]. The evidence is that men do a better job on men and women on women, if all you are looking for is orgasm.” So powerful is the allure of gays, Cameron believes, that if society approves that gay people, more and more heterosexuals will be inexorably drawn into homosexuality[3]. “I’m convinced that lesbians are particularly good seducers,” says Cameron.

“People in homosexuality are incredibly evangelical,” he adds, sounding evangelical himself. “It’s pure sexuality. It’s almost like pure heroin. It’s such a rush[4]. They are committed in almost a religious way. And they’ll take enormous risks, do anything.” He says that for married men and women, gay sex would be irresistible. “Martial (sic) sex tends toward the boring end[5],” he points out. “Generally, it doesn’t deliver the kind of sheer sexual pleasure that homosexual sex does[6]” So, Cameron believes, within a few generations homosexuality would be come the dominant form of sexual behavior.

There’s a lot to unpack here: [Read more…]

A tremendous loss to us all

Some day soon I will detail some information about the kind of mansplaining douchebro I used to be in the not-too-distant past. It will have to suffice for now when I tell you that I have said just about everything that those who use the term “feminazi” feel comfortable saying (with the exception of rape threats and the use of the suffix ‘Nazi’, because I was an asshole, not a goddamn moron). As a result, I understand where they’re coming from, and because I managed to claw my way out (thanks to a lot of help from some of my fellow FTBorg), I know where the handholds are.

That being said, it’s also a constant source of shame to recognize my old self in asshattery like this:

A letter written on an OKCupid profile to all women

Yes, someone has become so infuriated by his repeated rejection on a dating site (I am told it is OKCupid) that he has placed an MRA manifesto in place of a self-description:

Hello ladies(1).

I am no longer looking for any female companionship. Infact, I have abandoned the idea of women all together(2). Instead, I have decided to go my own way(3).

I am now officially a M.G.H.O.W(4) and a political activist for the Mens Rights Movement, known as a MRM.

I am actively standing to go on a marriage strike(5) and to fight the evil hate cult known as feminism(6), condeming all males for being.. male(7).

I know writing this won’t ever convince you to care(8) and you can simpley pass me off as “gay”(9) since I won’t bow down to your vagina(10), but I am informing you of this for one simple reason(11).

This is reality. Men are standing up(12). And a wave of indignation for the damage of the female species(13) has finally hit the tipping point. Men are bailing out of the system, and when we leave, the entire thing will collapse(14), and your world of shoes and purses will follow with it(15).

That’s right, you caused it “ladies”(16). I have had enough.

No more entitlements, no more free presents, no more chivalry(17).

Our fathers, brothers, and sons are tired of dieing for you while you cower in your house all day(18) demanding us men go and die for your freedoms(19).

1. Look at your monitor. Now look at me. Now back at your monitor. Now back at me. I’m on a rant!

2. The idea of women! Not just removing himself from the dating pool, but the very idea that women exist! Something tells me the reason he’s having a tough time is because he’s been trying to stick his dick in his ‘idea of women’ rather than, y’know, dealing with a real person.

3. Make sure you use lube and clear your browser history afterward.

4. Man Going His Own Way. I Google these things so you don’t have to.

5. “You hear me? All these wedding rings you’ve been offering me? I will now begin to REFUSE them! See how you like THEM apples, women who won’t sleep with me!”

6. A line which reminds me of one of my all-time favourite Jet Li movies.

7. Being a man isn’t the same as being a misogynist. Feminism is anti-misogyny, and if you think that makes it anti-male, then you hate men more than any feminist does.

8. *Sniff*

9. Surprisingly, men who don’t sleep with women are not de facto gay. That’s not how that works.

10. Which is how all the feminist cult meeting start. The high priestess puts a camera on the end of a speculum, inserts it into her vulva, and the rest of us bow down and worship her vaginal canal. True story.

11. I have zero difficulty believing that any of the reasons this guy does anything are the definition of ‘simple’

12. “and we’re not putting down the seat afterwards! So DEAL with it!”

13. Saaaaaame species. Men and women are not different species. Between this and the “bow down to your vagina” comment, I think this guy might never have even met a woman before.

14. I smell Ayn Rand.

15. This is my favourite line. SHOES AND PURSES!

An animated .gif of a man on a boat, laughing

16. “By failing to adhere to my expectation of what it is that women are like (mostly an amalgamation of shoes, purses, and vaginas), I hereby ROB YOU of the title of ladies, and insert sarcastic scare quotes! Kneel before the awesome might of my sophistry!”

17. Chivalry, interestingly, is a fundamentally sexist concept that relies on an image of women as weak and requiring the aid of men.

18. “Sitting on the couch (that a MAN bought for you! Or better yet fashioned with his OWN BARE HANDS out of the carcass of a FREAKIN’ MOUNTAIN LION) and eating bon-bons!

19. Because women in the army (I assume that’s what he’s talking about) don’t exist. And also he serves in the army, fighting bravely for the freedom of women who won’t fuck him no matter HOW many pushups he did at basic.

So yeah… this is particularly painful for me to read not only because of the stupidity and various language errors, but because I can see myself bitterly ranting along much the same lines. It took a long time for me to stop “outsmarting” myself and realize that the problem wasn’t everyone else – the problem was my own fucked up expectations of what the world (and specifically women) owed me.

Also, letters like this are the reason I don’t take MRAs seriously, and while they will never elicit much more from me than mocking dismissal – y’all are silly! If a guy like this feels more welcome in your “movement” than he does among feminists, then y’all are fucking welcome to him. As far as the whole “marriage strike” goes, I hope that it is not too presumptuous to answer on behalf of straight women:

An animated .gif of a woman saying "okay" sarcastically and giving a thumbs-up

You’ll be sorely missed

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Movie Friday: I am the ANTIPOPE

For some reason I cannot fathom, there is an OLD story from the Telegraph with the most misleading headline of all time that is currently floating around the Facebook walls of my friends. No clue why it’s popping up, and why people who I generally know to be reliably skeptical didn’t bother to read the timestamp before hitting the ‘Share’ button.

The story is supposedly about a “dramatic shift” that the Pope made with regard to the Vatican’s stance on condoms. I covered this story when it was actually news:

Come the fuck on, Ratzinger! Condoms are only appropriate in exceptional situations? Apparently in the Pope’s world view, it is better for a woman to become pregnant with a child she does not want and cannot afford to raise than it is for her to protect herself during sex. It’s better for a man to become inextricably yoked to another person for the rest of his life than it is for him to use a piece of latex.

And why is it a male prostitute?

Not all sex results in pregnancy (and I thank my lucky stars for that fact), but there’s always a chance. Many people want to have a child, for whatever reason, and are in a position to provide for it. Using condoms, unlike implants or hormone therapies or other intrusive forms of birth control, do not prevent people who want to have children from doing so. It is a simple technology that harms nobody (unless you count sperm, which I don’t).

Whatever claim to some kind of moral insight or authority that the Catholic Church pretends to have is repeatedly undermined by the ethical stupidity that is repeatedly on display from the Vatican.

The Pope deserves no cookies for saying that an HIV-infected (male) prostitute MIGHT be okay to use a condom. That’s not a “shift” in anything. That’s just him continuing to be a gaping asshole.

So today’s video is in honour of Pope Benedict XVI (seriously… 16? Get some new names going on, guys!):

A bit of humorous absurdity to balance out the totally-not-funny absurdity that is the internet today.

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Putting your (thunder)foot in it

I haz a sad.

Look I’ll make it simple, the point of a bar isn’t to make everyone maximally safe (indeed if it were, they would ban bars, as it would be far safer if everyone just stayed at home and did nothing), it’s to let everyone have the most amount of fun.  The reason people don’t go to bars that are maximally safe, is because they are DULL, with folks always living in fear of crossing some random rule written by  some hypersensitive pencil-necked PC jockey.

Thus does my new blog-neighbour thunderf00t button his argument that sexual harassment policies at conferences are onerous and unnecessary. Apparently TF thinks that asking conferences to put in place clear policies about how sexual harassment and assault will be handled will deprive him of his favourite bar-night activity: eating the calves of strangers.

A picture of thunderf00t biting someone's leg

I wish I was making this up. I’m not.

[Read more…]

Less relevant by the minute

Since I was a little kid, I’ve loved stories. Even as an adult, I am drawn to the narrative arc – the pacing, the twists and turns of a good plot, the art of a well-crafted climax – these have always been like magic to me. In my younger days though, I was drawn to Greek mythology in a big way. It wasn’t just the fanciful tales, although I liked that aspect a lot – it was the fact that each story was attached to some kind of lesson. They weren’t just stories told for amusement – they were expositions of human foibles and an accounting of how ancient peoples saw the world.

While Aesop’s Fables are not, strictly speaking, Greek mythology, they are perhaps the best exemplar of that type of morality and psychology as taught through story that we have. While Jesus of Nazareth (supposedly) taught in parables, it can often be an arduous exercise to pick out the nuggets of useful knowledge from the heaps of nonsense (what kind of shepherd abandons an entire flock to search for a single lost sheep? A bad one, I’d imagine). The fables attributed to Aesop are far clearer and more real-to-life.

One of the most famous, at least among the secular community, is the Emperor’s New Clothes. The reason it’s famous in our clique is because it so perfectly mirrors the public perception of religion – everyone is told how important and meaningful and significant it is, but as soon as someone takes a critical look at it the whole edifice quickly unravels to reveal one naked fallacy after another. However, turned on its head, there’s another valuable lesson contained in that story. One about the vanity and blindness that accompanies unchecked power and how it can lead people into situations where they completely fucking embarrass themselves: [Read more…]

Flirting, fucking, and tossing the pigskin

So immediately after my first-ever atheist conference, the atheist community was all a-Twitter about people trying to fuck other people at conferences. It’s kind of difficult (I avoid using the word ‘hard’ intentionally) to suppress my ego, but I’m going to go ahead and conclude that this was simply coincidence, and not a sign that everyone was secretly trying to bang me. At any rate, people are talking about it, and there’s the usual crowd of folks managing to miss the point, so I thought it might be fun to throw in my two cents.

I have had a few interactions with people who write, or play music, or do their jobs, solely to achieve some other goal. They write because they want to be influential. They play music because they want to be famous. They’re in their respective fields because they want to get rich. I suppose the term for people like that is ‘goal-oriented’. The various things they take part in are a means to a more enjoyable end – they’re the necessary legwork required to attain the true object of desire.

For my purposes, I tend to align myself more to being ‘process-oriented’: I do stuff because it’s fun and I like it. I write because I like to organize my thoughts and to play with words. I play music because I enjoy the intimate collaborations that are made possible by mixing it up with other musicians. I do my job because it’s challenging and interesting. Any notoriety or attention or wealth I gain from doing these things are all of secondary importance. [Read more…]

Rock me sexy Jesus

So maybe I’m disclosing more about myself than anyone really wants to know, but I’ve never understood our society’s pre-occupation with sex. I think of sex in much the same terms as I think of a game of pickup beach volleyball – a lot of fun if you have the opportunity, but if it doesn’t happen I’ll find something else to do with my time. My casual attitude about the whole venture stands, at least to my eye, in sharp contrast with piously intoned truisms that come from all corners of society – that sex is a deep and profound part of the human experience, that expressing your sexuality is a fundamental human right, that a person’s sexual identity is an intrinsic part of who they are. Maybe it’s a facet of hetero/cis privilege, but I just can’t get that fired up about the subject.

That being said, there are fewer people who obsess over sex more than religious folks. To be sure, most religious people are just as laissez fucke about other people’s sex lives as I am, but if you want to find people with a level of obsession that borders on the psychotic, you need look no further than religious hardliners. The scriptures are replete with proscriptions about where, when, how, how often, with whom, and exactly how terrible you should feel about yourself afterward. Some folks think that this is an issue of population control – that by controlling this oh-so-crucial component of human life, religious authority can tighten their grip on every aspect of human life. As you might conclude from my first paragraph, I am less than convinced. [Read more…]