It Feels Like an Ass

Warning: Discussion of Butts, particularly squeezing thereof.

I’m going to vent for just a second.

During the course of my 55 years on this earth, I’ve felt some butts. In fact I felt one about 20 minutes ago – it was in the shower, and it was mine. It felt familiarly warm, soapy, furry, and too small to keep my pants up without a belt. I’ve felt big butts and I cannot lie, small butts, tight butts, butts of various colors, butts in pants, butts in panties, butts in leggings, and once – well – I’m not exactly sure if a butt is “in” a kilt or not but I was tussling with a kilted someone at a reenactment event and discovered that kilted butt feels a lot like naked butt. I’ve felt old butts and young butts (the youngest being mine own butt) but I did change a diaper once so that was a pretty un-erotic butt for me. I recognize that some people might be turned on by poopy butt, but I’m not. Animal butts: my cats used to insist on my examining their butts in detail and my horse often used me as a scratching-post for his mighty slab-like 600-lb draft-horse butt. And there were some dog butts, too. I think that no matter how dear the dogs were to me, their butts were my least favorite part of them.

In my 30s I frequented strip clubs every so often and so I’ve had butts rubbed on various parts of my clothes. It was that, which got me thinking: “most of these look kind of similar.” For a long time my thought was “yeah, similar ‘nice’ – that similar.” But that wasn’t it, I realized. I had conversations about this with my philosophically inclined mathematician friend: why, after checking out a couple of butts, don’t we establish a butt-baseline and conclude that we know enough about butts that they’re really not worth looking at any more? That kind of ruined strip clubs for me, to be frank. In fact, I could fairly accurately predict a lot about someone’s butt based on the assumption that it’s going to be as fuzzy as their neckline at the top of their chest, it’s going to be the same color as their face, and it’ll be about as muscular as the rest of them, generally sized appropriately for their frame, etc.

In other words: if I walk up to a complete stranger, I can close my eyes for a second, and imagine pretty much exactly what feeling their butt would be like.

Imagining what “contrite” looks like.

Don’t worry, I won’t imagine butt-squeezing you. Because, once I realize that I have the power of knowing what your butt probably feels like, I really don’t feel the need to think about it. I’m deeply familiar with my own butt, from soaping it many times (and nursing some bruises on it that have to be seen to be believed) and I don’t feel the need to think about it and more than I feel the need to think about yours.

I’m not saying I don’t care about your butt. I’m just saying I’m really happy with my current relationship with your butt and I’m not going to shift my lazy ass to do anything about it. (see what I did there?) What I’m really not going to do is blow my promising political career to shreds in order to put my hand on your butt. OK, I don’t actually have a promising political career – but I can imagine what having a promising political career would feel like and I can imagine how fucking stupid I would feel if I was blowing a promising political career to bits because I was unable to use my imagination to imagine what yet another butt feels like. Wow! As I let that imagined scenario go through my mind, I am imagining what it feels like to be incredibly embarrassed.

I’ve screwed up before. In fact, I screwed up tonight, and the screw-up was one I had spent imagining before it happened. That is part of my screw up avoidance process: I imagine what it feels like to screw up, and how much I hate that feeling, and then I try to do things in a way that avoid my having that feeling. Anyone who is going to have a promising political career needs to have a screw up avoidance process, because politics will give you nothing but opportunities to screw up. Worse, politics will give you opportunities for broad, national-level screw ups that can get other people killed. I could make a crazy argument that, if someone blew a promising political career just so they could feel what one more butt feels like, and The Empire fell because the wrong politician got in power because of that blown up career, that “is this the butt that launched a thousand ships / and burn’t the topless towers of Ilium?” Why didn’t Al Franken realize that he had a screw up in progress around squeezing people’s butts and set himself a little mental reminder, “whenever you think about grabbing someone’s butt, think about your entire political career becoming a wretched disaster like your comedy career”?

People are rallying around, now, saying “Al Franken shouldn’t step down” because, you know, promising political career and all that. But I don’t agree. Franken is an utter blockhead. He could have glanced side-long at those butts and kept his hand off them. Besides, he already knows what they feel like. They feel like slightly springy denim (or whatever fabric) and maybe they’re warm. But fuck’s sake alive, someone who is so stupid that they’re going to detonate a promising political career in order to feel a pair of pants is too stupid to – aargh – I can’t even come up with a good bunch of words for how dumb that is. There are bags of broken cinder-block that have more basic common sense than Al Franken and concrete is not noted for its perspicacity. And Al Franken never more shall be, either.

These observations have broad relevance: Trump did hurt his campaign a bit with his Access Hollywood comment (not enough, but then he was trying to appeal to stupid people anyway, so being stupid made him a kindred spirit) it’s stupid. It’s all so stupid. The really crazy part is that if Al Franken posted a “Hey can I squeeze your butt?” call, he probably would have been able to give himself carpal tunnel syndrome squeezing consensual butts. He could ask Mix-a-Lot to come down and do some music and make it an event on statehouse lawn, why not? As crazy as that idea sounds, it would have done less damage to his career. On new years’ day, 1907 Teddy Roosevelt set the record for “most hands shaken in one day” when he had an open house at the White House lawn where anyone could come shake his hand: 8,000+ people. I’m not saying that it would have helped Al Franken’s political career to have a butt-squeeze-a-thon, but it wouldn’t have hurt it as badly as his amazing demonstration of stupid has.

Did that squeeze of denim feel that awesome? How does one risk so much for so little?

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A digression: a number of years ago, I found myself wandering around INTEROP with router algorithm genius Radia Perlman. We got to talking about the year that INTEROP was held at the same time as the AVN (Adult Video News) conference, and the cultural collision that ensued. After a bit, Radia said, quite seriously, “you know, at a certain point – which we have probably already passed long ago – there’s too much porn that anyone could watch it and ever see the same clip again in their lifetime.” I allowed as that sounded about right. Then, she asked, “so, why are they still making more?”

It seems easy to answer “because, personal preferences” but: not so fast. Since we accept that nobody can watch all the porn in their life-time they don’t have any way of knowing what actually fulfills their preference best. Consider Al Franken, and a line of 2.5 billion women’s butts he can squeeze. That’s too many for any one set of hands to squeeze in a life-time; at some point does Franken just surrender and say “enough! no more butts!” but what if the next woman in line has the perfect butt that he’d die to squeeze. I know that sounds over-dramatic but Franken has basically killed his political career to squeeze butts, so let’s assume he’s very very serious about his butt-squeezing.

I think my mathematician friend and I have the right answer: we squeeze them all inductively by assuming they all feel more or less the same within a basic range of parameters. I wish I had been able to throw that back at Radia; she’d have probably had some brilliantly funny take on it. Joking aside, doesn’t Rule #34 basically say that for all intents and purposes, you’ve already seen all the porn?

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“Don’t worry, I won’t imagine butt-squeezing you” – the wild thing is that Chuck Tingle appears to be able to imagine what having sex with a human-sized cup of cappuccino is like. Take that, gender norms! Since I don’t know any of you personally, I don’t have a mental picture of what any of your butts look like, but if I had Chuck Tingle-like powers, I could imagine groping your email address. I won’t do it. Because it feels just like groping my email address!

Tonight’s screw up: I was afraid that when I hit the power for the new electrical runs I installed in my forge-shop, that I might have gotten something wrong and I’d hear the “POP” that says “something is wrong.” Normally that’s not a terrible thing – you just reset the breaker – except the breaker-box at my studio is ancient and the switches are getting funky and unreliable. Now, I have one of the switches disengaged and it won’t re-engage, and the switches went out of production decades ago and I am either going to have to find a replacement on ebay, or reconstruct the entire breaker-box with new breakers or hire an electrician. I used that fear of screwing up to motivate me to make sure I did the wiring right but apparently it wasn’t good enough. So, I just bought myself days of additional work

Washington Post has a good article about Bob Packwood: [wp] another political molester and groper, who kept a detailed collection of notes about his groping. So there’s hope for Al Franken: there actually are dumber bags of broken cinder-block than him.

I mentioned a while ago that I intend to eventually write about some things regarding gender identity and what is beautiful. That’s actually tied up in the thinking behind this posting. Consider this: if your eyes are closed, and you’re squeezing a butt through a pair of jeans, can you tell the gender identity of the butt’s owner? And does it matter? You’re not actually feeling a butt, you’re feeling a pair of jeans. Why is this interesting? Why is any of this interesting? What is actually going on when someone grabs a big handful of denim and gets a big erotic charge out of it? What, exactly, the hell is going on here? I started thinking about this and then I was swirling down a rat-hole: why is it interesting to squeeze someone else’s butt, but not my own? If I can’t tell the gender of the butt I am squeezing, then what about whatever gender norms I am supposed to be concerned with? I think that this confusion I am feeling is transmuted into discomfort and arousal and some people’s reaction to that is anger, whereas I am just mightily puzzled.

I wish I could interview Al Franken and ask him “exactly what did you get out of squeezing those women’s butts, anyhow?” And then I’d ask him, “are you aware that there are butt models? You probably could have spent a happy hour consensually squeezing a top-notch professional butt in whatever garments you prefer, but you’d have had to ask.” He could have just done it and posted it on his Instagram. But I think that it’s the not asking part you get off on…


  1. Ketil Tveiten says

    I think Rule 34 works the other way around: instead of you for practical purposes already having seen all the porn, it just continuously generates (possibly hypothetical) new porn you haven’t seen yet.

  2. Ketil Tveiten says

    About the two questions you ask: even though we’ve pretty much seen all the butts there are, we still look at new ones with interest for pretty much the same reason as that we still have a beer, even though we’ve pretty much tasted all the beer there is.

    Why do they still make new porn? Same reason they still make new books. The point at which the total amount of porn passed any one human’s ability to consume it within a lifetime was probably a very long time ago, but the fashions back then are not cool enough for today. Consider, the too-much-to-get-through-in-a-lifetime point for written text was (if I recall correctly) in the 800’s; and you know there’s basically only five possible stories anyway. Still, people write new novels and no one ever asks why we don’t stop since we already have enough.

  3. chigau (違う) says

    The point is not the buttfeel.
    The point is to prove your power / privilege / status and to make the butt owner uncomfortable.

  4. says

    Exactly. That’s why I made a point of not going too far down the rathole of groping someone’s email address. I can imagine it might make someone uncomfortable, so I didn’t.

    I’ve been slowly realizing that people like Franken are really silly.

    This piece was an alternate take on the more thought-out version I posted yesterday. I’ve been coming at it from multiple angles because it genuinely baffles me how anyone could be this stupid.

  5. says

    The whole power angle weirds me out. I always figured that the point of power was that then you could use that power to get what you really wanted. Except, if you want to grab a butt, there are much easier ways of doing it. So, why go to all this trouble?

    I can only conclude that the exercise of power is itself the point.

  6. says

    Indeed the point is the exercise of power. Just look at Bill Cosby. At the time many of the assaults Cosby is accused of took place he was rich as hell. If he liked the idea of having sex with unconscious women he could have found or hired people to act out that fantasy with him. Some might have been willing to actually be drugged. But that wasn’t apparently enough, he had to actually assault women.

  7. silverfeather says

    This is the first article I’ve read on this topic that actually made me smile instead of burn. It was a bitter smile, but thanks for that.
    That said, I keep hearing people calling him stupid. I don’t think an assumption (no pun intended) based on an entire lifetime of getting away with it and watching others get away with it makes a person stupid. He just failed to imagine a future where these women wouldn’t slink quietly off to complain only to their friends about what a creeper he was.
    It also seems premature to say he’s ruined his political career (though I think by rights it should have been ruined after the first instance came to light). There are still a whole lot of democrats/progressives saying essentially that what he did isn’t such a big deal, or that this is just a republican hit job and it’s all a pack of lies, as well as making more nuanced arguments that amount to him getting to stay in office.

  8. Holms says

    People are rallying around, now, saying “Al Franken shouldn’t step down” because, you know, promising political career and all that. But I don’t agree.

    What about those that think a person shouldn’t lose their career from something as simple as a grabbed arse?

  9. John Morales says

    Holms, before I quote you and respond, I note that this is not IMO directly on-topic.

    What about those that think a person shouldn’t lose their career from something as simple as a grabbed arse?

    Dunno about them, but I do know if that’s the situation, then it follows that the arse-grabber then knows simple arse-grabbing won’t cost them their career.

    Here, the arse-grabber is functionally an ally in government, but quite possibly a hypocrite in real life. Alas, it’s not a simple matter of short-term pragmatism.

    (obviously, there are other considerations)

  10. says

    He’s just clowning around.

    Now that I’ve gotten your attention, let me try to caveat the hell out of that and try to explain what I mean by it. And I am not trying to use to to justify anything, just to try to understand what Franken might be thinking and how this has happened multiple times. And also to maybe address why, until now, Franken never even thought what he was doing was related to sex or sexual harassment.

    Remember, Franken is/was a comedian. Comedy takes liberties with all sorts of things; that often makes them better comedians. Even with Louis C.K. (despite now knowing the background), I don’t think people can deny that he was funny (even if a bit uncomfortable). Or even look at some older Seinfeld routines that we cringe at now.

    As far as I know (caveat!), Franken wasn’t doing any caressing of the women’s butts. Was he even stroking? Was all he was doing “goosing” them? “Goosing” has a long tradition of being funny. When I think of it, my mind turns to old cartoons (I guess that’s where the images are coming from) of people or animals sproinging away with an arched back. Comedy. It’s even a “silly” word. (Isn’t the word “goose” kind of funny sounding?) (And this may be all that was going through George H. W. Bush’s head, too.)

    [I’m reminded of my grandfather when I was about 8 or so. He thought it was funny to pinch my knee at the pressure points around there. It’s make me squirm. Did I like it? No. In retrospect, though, I realize he was having “fun” with me, just “clowning around”. He was giving me attention.]

    Body parts are funny. Think about “Whose line is it anyways?”, more with Drew Carey. In “Living Scenery” it was common to use women’s “bumps” as dials (hence Franken’s picture). Men’s bumps were made fun of in other ways. It’s just clowning around.

    Also think about improv training (which I imagine Franken has had). It’s always “Yes, . . . and”, not “No, . . . but”. (No butt?) I can see that coming to the fore when in situations where too much thinking isn’t going on.

    And then there’s the feedback. Try to think about what sort of feedback Franken was getting (and one needs feedback to chance one’s behavior. Here’s a picture he took with Ariana Huffington that Page Six is getting on his case about: Newly surfaced pics show Al Franken grabbing Arianna Huffington’s breasts and butt. Arianna’s reply: Arianna Huffington Denies Article That Claims Al Franken Groped Her. ““He was no more ‘groping’ me than I was ‘strangling’ him in
    the photo I just tweeted,” the media mogul says.”

    The women he offends stay quiet about it. The women who think it is funny gave him positive feedback.

    That’s not going to change behavior (or even make one aware of it).

    So, to wrap up, I’m not trying to justify Franken. I’m just trying to get a grip in my own mind how it all could have led to this, and how it really might be possible that Franken was clueless about it until now. (And yes, we can argue forever about whether he should have figured it out–I’ll just say that I still do stupid stuff that, when pointed out to me, I wonder how I ever thought is was funny. Franken has written about how, when running for the Senate, he had to learn not to give funny answers and how to redirect questions. Well, this may have been an area that nobody thought about for retraining away from “clowning around”.)

  11. says

    I’d expect a comedian to know the first rule: If your audience doesn’t think it’s funny, it’s not funny.

    As a comedian, it’s your responsibility to tailor your jokes to the audience at hand. It doesn’t matter what you think. It doesn’t matter what your previous audience thought. It matters what the person you’re joking with right now thinks. That’s the difference between a comedian and an asshole.

  12. says

    George Carlin on butts:

    Black guys were always bugging me about my ass, because I got no ass. I’ve a straight line from the shoulders to the heels…. There are three kinds of asses, basically, I’ve numbered them 1, 2 and C. I’m never very good at indexing. But, uh, the first one’s the fat ass, which you all know—you can’t miss it. Even in the winter, in a tweed overcoat, at the bus stop, you can see. ‘Look at the guy in the tweed overcoat and the fat ass, over at the bus stop, there!’ Then there’s the regular ass, the everyday, normal, garden-variety, all-American, run-of-the-mill, you-seen-one-you’ve-seen-‘em-all ass, just the regular ass. Then we have the unfortunates—my group—no ass at all. You wear a fat wallet and three handkerchiefs, right? [unintelligible] Black guys used to be on me, man. ‘Say, man, where yo’ ass at?’ ‘Man, ain’t got no ass! Shit, how you holdin’ those pants up, man? Guy’s got no ass, man, shit.’

  13. Dunc says

    The thing you’ve got to remember is that nobody with a lick of sense goes into politics in the first place.

    Re: the breakers – if you can no longer replace them, that’s Thor’s way of telling you to rewire the whole box. Seriously, electricity isn’t hard, but you do need to respect it… Mind you, I’m British, so I think everybody’s wiring standards are rubbish…

  14. Dunc says

    Well, OK, let’s qualify that a bit… Almost nobody goes into politics for any reason that doesn’t ultimately boil down to enhancing their ability to grab asses. There may be some who genuinely believe that they can advance some cause or other, but they’re a statistically insignificant minority, and they mostly don’t last very long. Money, power, it’s all about ass-grabbing in the end.