Sunday, October 31, 2010
A Zogby Interactive poll found that 37% say they believe in human or animal ghosts, 23% believe they have been visited by a dead relative or friend, and 20% say they have seen or heard a ghost. Another 22% say that while they have not experienced a ghost, they know someone who says they have.
(h/t/ to Sam Smith)
Friday, October 29, 2010
Well, the right wing Brownshirts are already out in full force and the elections is still a few days off. One young progressive activist had her head stomped and another democratic operative was taken down and arrested by goons paid for by tax payer money. You can be sure the bigots will be out in full force on Election Day trying to intimidate people of color. All the more reason you should go out there and vote, people. The local elections are more important, have more of an impact than the nationals. Don’t be a fuckin pendej@ -- VOTE!
-=[ The War on Sex ]=-
Speaking of elections, one phrase that continually pops up is “culture war.” This familiar expression is actually part of the problem. You see, the phrase suggests there are two sides of equal strength lined up, honoring more or less the same rules of engagement, wanting to conquer each other.
But what is called a “culture war” is nothing like that at all. Those who fear and hate sexuality (erotophobes) are attacking those who appreciate or tolerate sexuality (erotophiles). Erotophiles are not attempting to force erotophobes to live more sexually adventurous lives. In fact, erotophiles aren’t trying to make the erotophobes do anything they don’t want to do. However, erotophobes demand that both sides -- everyone -- live according to their anti-sex (erotophobic) values. For example, erotophiles say, “If you don’t want to go to a nude beach, don’t go, but don’t shut it down to prevent me from having that choice.” Erotophobes respond, “I don’t want to go to a nude beach, and I don’t want you to have the option of going either, so it must be closed.” In a similar way, erotophobes want to control and mitigate the sexual rights of those they fear. For example, erotophiles say, “If you’re against gay marriage, don’t marry one.” Erotophobes respond by waging campaigns of hate against the LGBT community.
While erotophobes recognize there’s a huge range of opportunities for erotic stimulation, satisfaction, and imagination, they want to deny everyone, not just themselves. Ironically, erotophobes (like most conservatives) claim to be the victims in this culture war.
They say they are the ones who are being attacked, their values undermined, and their way of life destroyed. From their paranoiac perspective, they see so-called indecent entertainment, changing fashions, recent court decisions, internet access, and a range of contraceptive technologies as an intrusion -- as being force-fed sex. They can’t, they wail, turn on a TV, go to a mall, boot up a computer, or even go to work without being assaulted by sexual images. Furthermore, they claim, even when they are not being literally confronted, they are still forced to abide others’ sexual activity next door and all over America -- behavior that is immoral, disgusting, and sinful.
I have no doubt this is true for them. However it is irrelevant to the governance of the U.S. Nowhere in our founding documents is there mention of regulating anything considered immoral, sinful, or disgusting. On the contrary, the United States was founded on the idea that people should be able to choose what to do and with whom to associate based on their personal values and ideals -- not those of a king, feudal lord, or religious hierarchy. Nor even, as James Madison declared, the tyrannical majority in their own town, state, or nation.
When erotophobes demand that we eliminate entertainment, fashion, medical technology, bedroom activity, and businesses that are in their estimation “immoral” or “sinful,” they are calling for a dismantling of the core values our nation was founded on. Such changes would result in governance that would bring us closer to modern Saudi Arabia, the former Soviet Union, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Nazi Germany.
Historically, the U.S. has tried to balance the rights of individuals and community responsibility. Therefore, for example, while you enjoy the freedom of speech, you don’t have the right to yell “fire” in a crowded theater. Another fundamental U.S. is that the law should address actual crime and actual victims, and it should be drafted in ways that limit negative unintended consequences when solving a problem.
Today’s culture war seeks to disrupt that balance, and it has already succeeded in many ways. Historically, it was against the law for someone to actually kill your cow, or doing something makes you worried about someone killing your cow. Attempting to criminalize abortion isn’t enough for conservatives, they also attempt to ban over-the-counter availability of emergency contraception, saying such availability would “encourage promiscuity.” Progressives respond with scientific data that clearly shows it won’t, and in that way, one more battle is joined. Erotophobes respond that (as is usual) they have no data, they have “concerns” and “feelings,” which are now considered seriously in public policy debates.
Although our country makes cars safer in case of accidents, has school athletes wear helmets in case they fall awkwardly, and establishes poison control centers in case toddlers get into cleaning supplies, these sexual jihadists don’t want to reduce the consequences of unauthorized, unprotected, or unfortunate sex. They say that doing so encourages bad sexual choices. That’s like saying seat belts encourage dangerous driving and poison centers encourage sloppy parenting practices.
Forget that children who learn abstinence-only have as much sex -- only they use condoms less often. Erotophobes have manipulated the American public into fighting sexual expression, not sexual ignorance or poor sexual decision-making.
Let’s be clear, a large part of the culture wars is really about the pathological need to control sex. Erotophobes fear sex. They fear sexual expression, sexual exploration, sexual arrangements, sexual privacy, sexual choice, sexual entertainment, sexual health and sexual pleasure. They want you to fear it as well. Today’s conservavie/ fundamentalist political movements present a horrifically distorted picture of sexuality. It’s a narrative of danger and fear; a narrative of sin and, therefore, of self-destructiveness. While erotophobes typically describe their fear in socially acceptable terms (i.e., “protecting children,” “defending marriage”), what they really fear is sexuality as they understand it.
The outcome of these battles will determine how our children will live for decades to come. It will determine what books they will be allowed to read, what they will be taught to fear, what they know about their bodies, and how much control they will have over their own fertility.
Millions of Americans are afraid of sex. Some admit it, some don’t. Millions more hate sex, and some have declared war on it. America’s pluralism is despised by fundamentalists around the world -- including those right here on our soil. If you’re interested in sex, you’re part of this war whether you like it or not. If you watch TV, use a sex toy, go to the movies, need an abortion, enjoy dirty online chat, want a physician trained in sexual medicine, or have a child in school, the guns of the culture war and the war on sex will be pointed at you.
It is imperative that we begin asking the right questions, right now, because the answers will matter.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
The midterm elections are coming up and I fear too many people fail to understand exactly what hangs in the balance. In a very real way, how we define freedom and the kind of sciety we want to create is what is at stake. I know many so-called progressives are angry and even disillusioned, but disengaging from the political process is no different from cutting off your nose to spite your face. More on freedom tomorrow on Subversify...
* * *
-=[ The Myth of Freedom ]=-
“A man is either free or he is not. There cannot be any apprenticeship for freedom.”
-- Imamu Amiri Baraka (1934 –)
American playwright, poet, novelist, essayist
I once became lost in a national park in Connecticut many years ago. I was about 19-20, a busload of us city kids planned a trip, and we all trekked up to some park in Armpit, USA. I am a dyed-in-the-wool city boy. And when I say city, I mean city. Please, I’ve traveled around this country and some places that use the term “city” are laughable. Yes, I am a NYC snob: anything above 14th street for me is Hicksville. Anyway, grew up in the city and the first time I saw a hog live, I thought it was a cow! When I thought of pigs, what came to mind was that pig Arnold from the 1960s TV sitcom, “Green Acres”
Whatever… always the adventurous one, I convinced another poor soul to go “exploring” with me. We got lost for close to 48 hours. LOL! We kept walking in circles. There was this lake not too far from our campsite, you see, and I (being the “Brainiac” of the two) surmised if we followed the lakeshore, we would eventually end up where we started. The thing is we kept walking in circles, not around the lake, but within a confined space. We realized this after hours of walking because we kept seeing a rock formation that looked eerily familiar. The reason for that was that it was the same rock formation! LMAO! By this time, it had gotten dark and there was a pronounced early October chill. Too add to matters, my poor friend had inadvertently fallen into a cascade that hid a cave – he was freezing, but we thought the cave was the best place to stay for the night.
We had nothing – no matches, flashlight, compass, food – nada. We had to stop because of that annoying tendency towards complete darkness in the country. I mean, you can’t even see your own fuckin hand in front of your face. Sheeesh! More troubling, I swore I heard a wolf’s howl. I’m serious! Now, I don’t know if wolves actually exist in some Connecticut state park, but to this day, I swear I heard a howl! In addition, I didn’t make things better by voicing my conviction that the cave we had taken refuge in was some Grizzly bear’s home.
So, there were, hungry, cold, and lost.
Eventually, we somehow found our way to a road the next day, but they had a whole posse of people looking for us, which ruined the trip for everyone else. We walked down the road until we came upon some ranger in a car who then proceeded to ask us if we had seen two Puerto Rican kids walking around lost… DUH?!?! Hellloooo?!?! Fuckin’ hicks…
Of course, being the philosophically inclined one, I found all sorts of metaphors and meaning behind our little adventure, while my companion, who was freezing to death, cursed me the whole time. Still, it fascinated me that, left to our own devices, we kept walking around in circles. Shit, we tried to walk differently, making lefts, where we had previously made rights, and still we walked in circles. What does that say about our own habitual patterns, I asked my friend, as he conjured new swear words in my honor.
For the next fifteen years of my life, that incident was to become a metaphor for how I lived: doing what I wanted, how I wanted, when I wanted, and mistaking that for freedom. I think many people mistake “following their bliss” for freedom when in actuality walking around in circles without a compass is the ultimate prison. It’s the ultimate prison because we can’t see the bars, for they exist in our minds. We’re all “doing time,” when we come to think of it.
True freedom, for me anyway, takes practice. Actually, it takes a set of practices that serve as a guideline and map to freedom. Walk around rudderless without direction long enough and you’ll find you’re creating the same wreackage repeatedly.
I like to joke that I became free while I was incarcerated but this is very true. Many years after that incident in the woods, I found myself at a maximum-security “facility.” LOL! I’m not proud of that, but I have to admit there’s some irony in this story -- at least for me there is, so I find some humor in all this now. when I became free, it was early spring, my favorite time of the year, and I was in a prison yard looking at some mountains and feeling really depressed about being locked up.
Then the realization hit me... I was actually free. Just like that. I realized that though I was physically incarcerated, only I could give anyone permission to imprison my mind. It may not sound like a lot to you, but for me it was transformative experience. The fact that I could choose to be free no matter where I found myself was an option I had never entertained and it literally blew me away.
Looking back, I understand now that this shift in consciousness didn’t happen all at once, that my epiphany that day wasn’t something entirely spontaneous. I understand now my realization came about because of the inner psycho-spiritual work I had put in, but it hit me that day like a bolt of lightning in the middle of a completely dark country night: I was free. Free, right then, at that very moment.
It was an amazing realization. I could choose to be free. a part of me struggled with this -- this couldn’t possibly be so simple and so true. Nevertheless, I felt it in the very fiber of my being, this freedom was real, palpable, a part of me, an uncovering of my heritage as a human being. When I went back to my cell later that day, I shared my revelation with my neighbors and they all started laughing at me. They were like, “Eddie, you in jail, bro!”
And they were correct, of course, I was in prison . However, my realization was that while I could be coerced into prison physically, only I could give another permission to incarcerate my heart and mind. What I saw clearly for the first time in my life was that I was giving the prison authorities this permission to take my mind, to imprison my heart. From that day on, I became free and my life, even within the prison walls, changed dramatically. I no longer was at the mercy of sadistic prison guards or all the other insanity that goes on in prison. From that day on, I was free -- really free -- and all my interactions reflected this realization of freedom. What happened was that people began responding to me differently: guards, who previously were able to press my buttons, didn’t know how to deal with the newer, free me, leaving them confused and anxious.
Other inmates would ask me why I “looked” different: was I exercising more? did I gain weight? Eventually, freedom would influence my immediate surroundings and those in contact with me began doing their own inner work, in the process transforming our collective prison experience. The effect was so palpable that I was eventually transferred from that location because I was deemed too dangerous. LOL! But by then it was too late, even in solitary confinement, they couldn’t take my freedom away.
I became free that early Spring day and though there are times I choose to give up my freedom -- especially when I come into contact with people with hate in their hearts -- I have chosen freedom more often than not these past nineteen years. My personal liberation, I have found, is not individual, dedicated solely to me, but instead it comes with a responsibility and an awareness that it affects everything around me. That other prison we all share: the myth that we are separate from others, has also dissolved and as a result your personal liberation is also important to me.
Ultimately, I have learned that my freedom demands I choose happiness. I never even knew I had that choice. It is my responsibility as a human being, actually, this choice. This is why I always say that everything we ever need for our happiness exists right here, right now, this very moment… this very life. This is true whether your prison is made of concrete and bars or psychic cockroaches.
May you all know true happiness… and freedom.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Looking forward to doing nothing this coming weekend. Do you realize how hard that is?
* * *
-=[ The Freedom to Rape]=-
Greed is good.
Check this out... I came across a similar post a few years ago. I've changed it to suit my purposes, but I think it works:
Rape is a basic and necessary expression of human nature. Sexual assaults have been present in every society since the dawn of time. It is the natural drive of man to reproduce, to compete successfully for advantage in the marketplace of life and evolution. In fact, it is this innate compulsion to reproduce that motivates man to do anything productive and worthwhile in the first place.
It is this competitive drive that motivates man to aspire to greatness. Can you imagine men striving for greatness were they not motivated by their drive to reproduce by any means? Of course not, because the drive to reproduce is at the very core of mankind’s fundamental nature. As long as we disregard childish “God” superstitions and recognize that a man is ultimately responsible only to and for himself, we therefore recognize that any measures that attempt to suppress this natural and intrinsic drive to reproduce by any means are inherently wrong.
To suppress sexual assaults is the perverse anti-human dream of the superstitious rabble. In fact, no human society has successfully eliminated rape, despite innumerable measures designed to curb sexual assaults. If man were only truly free to pursue this integral part of his nature we would walk as the masters of the Earth that we are.
Anyone with a relatively functioning forebrain will immediately see that this is a excruciatingly faulty and dangerous chain of reasoning. Just because the drive to reproduce is inherent in humans, it doesn’t follow that sexual assault and rape stem from that drive and are a part of human nature. Furthermore, the assumption that every society has had sexual assault and none has successfully eliminated rape, doesn’t necessarily mean that sexual assault and rape are good things that should be encouraged; or that there wouldn’t be disastrous and apocalyptic consequences were people given carte blanche to rape.
Now, reread the paragraph but this time replace every occurrence of the words “sexual assault” with the words “free markets,” and replace every occurrence of the word “rape” with “capitalism,” and every occurrence of the word “reproduce” with “acquire wealth.” It is now word-for-word the position of economic neoconservative types. You will find this same line of thought in the teabagger diatribes against universal healthcare, for example.
Well, boys and girls: what have we learned? First, my aim here is not to equate capitalism with rape (which upon reflection is not a stretch). Rather, my aim is to point out fallacious reasoning. Certain things might (or might not) be inherently part of human nature or cannot be completely eliminated, but that isn’t a sufficient condition for a logically cohesive argument that they should be encouraged. If you want to argue that they should be encouraged, you must give other reasons.
The only other reason I seem to get is the unthinking and reactionary response of “Communism doesn’t work,” which displays an ignorance of the enormous and diverse body of economic and ethical thought that is not neoconservative.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Take a moment and imagine you could affect the outcome of an election. Imagine, just for a moment, that your words could impact another individual; that you have more power than you give yourself credit for...
* * *
-=[ The Runaway Society]=-
I don't give a damn about semi-radicals...
This is not a time of gentleness.
It is not a time of lukewarm beginnings.
It's a time for open speech and fearless thinking.
-- Helen Keller
Towards the end of Emile Zola’s Beast of Man, an engineer and a fireman are quarreling in the locomotive of a passenger train. In his rage, the fireman has stoked the engine’s fire into an inferno. They grab at each other’s throats, each trying to force the other through the open door. Losing their balance, both fall out and perish. The train rumbles on at breakneck speed. The passengers, soldiers en route to the war front, are sleeping or drunkenly unaware of the impending disaster.
Zola’s story has been seen as a parable of modern runaway societies. Those supposedly in charge, embroiled in their own personal dramas, paralyzed with performance anxiety, or caught up in their ambitions, have left the driver’s seat. Meanwhile we, their oblivious passengers, are about to pay the price.
A common conservative strategy is setting up government agencies for failure (via taking away funding, for example) and then blaming any failure, not on deregulation, but the very agencies they set up to fail. We ignore the fact that a gun endows people -- many unstable -- the power to inflict destruction like no other instrument. Sure pencils don’t cause people misspell words, but let me see how many people you can shred with one pencil as opposed to an assault weapon.
The genius of the conservative movement lies in how they have convinced you that a regressive rather than a progressive tax structure is better for you (they call it “tax relief”). It’s how they convinced a number of you to go along with trickle-down economics -- an economic theory no real economist has ever backed.
In any case, our opinions are most often driven by the beliefs -- or better put: by the metaphors -- we live by. Conservatives have known this for some time and that’s partly why you voted for Bush and why you vote against your own economic interests, or find some identification with something called a teabagger. Conservative operatives discovered long ago that people vote their values, not on the issues. Therefore, if you can frame, say, “family values” in a conservative way, you have co-opted the most important metaphor we all live by -- families.
Progressives have labored under the false notion that reason or issues should come first. Yes, issues are important, but people vote on values (frames) and if you can’t connect with people on values, you will never get your agenda on board. Let’s take the following facts as an example:
On the Iraq War, an overwhelming majority of Americans want a timetable for pulling out our troops. On economic policy, most Americans support stronger government regulations to protect citizens. On trade, polls consistently show the public is very suspicious of the free trade agreements that have hurt the middle class. On health care, surveys consistently show that about two-thirds of those asked desire a government-guaranteed universal health-insurance system -- even if that means higher taxes.
If the mainstream is more left of center, then why aren’t these issues on the table for public discourse? Why? Because they haven’t been framed adequately. One of the ways issues are framed is through repetition. Jon Stewart from The Daily Show has made a career highlighting hilarious video clips of the right-wing noise machine using the same words over and over on the same day. This is a very effective way to express and embed an idea. The words come with frames of reference attached. Those frames in turn latch on to and activate deeper, subconscious frames. When repeated over and over, the words serve to reinforce deep frames by actually strengthening neural connections in listeners.
In that way, I can stand up on a stump and yell out catch phrases like “family values!” or “tough on crime!” and immediately in your brain a barrage of conservative-framed issues appear. I can blurt out, “tax and spend” and immediately conservative frames come to your mind. “Tough on crime!” “Traditional marriage!” “Choice!” For the last 40 years, a vast media network of think tanks, newspapers, radio and TV shows have embedded these values into the mind of unsuspecting or apathetic Americans, creating a passive mindset. Shit, people in France, who are taking to the streets to fight for their equal share are wondering, “Have the Americans fallen asleep?” Sadly, we have, and the train is hurtling towards sure disaster...
Friday, October 22, 2010
Today is my "Women’s Prison Workshop" followed by the "Relationships for Men in Recovery Workshop" day. So I’ll be unreachable for most of the day and early eve…
* * *
-=[ Harry & Sally on my Couch ]=-
Men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.
-- Harry & Aristotle
Well, actually, Harry (the character from that intolerable movie, When Harry met Sally) and Aristotle did not say this, but, as I hope to show, Aristotle and Harry seem to sleep in the same philosophical bed (pun intended). Our sexual/ romantics relations are the way they are today not because that’s “how they have always been,” but because we live within a cultural context. Philosophy matters, my dear friends, more than we know…
When Harry met Sally begs the question: can men and women be friends and then answers it so: “Men and women can’t be friends -- because the sex part always gets in the way.”
But is this true? Are there reasons friendship between men and women isn’t possible? Or more to the point: are there reasons why friendship between men and women are more difficult to maintain than same-sex friendships?
As we shall see, most of the assumptions we carry around regarding these and other questions are established in ancient Greek philosophy and their latter day Christian interpreters. Aristotle strongly suggested that a romantic relationship can never become the highest form of friendship. He made a distinction between a bond like friendship, grounded in “exalted” character traits and involving choice (philia), from a bond based solely on an attraction (eros). And while there can be friendship between lover and beloved, he added, it would not be the highest form of friendship. It would be a friendship based not on character but in pleasure -- and therefore will likely fade. Still, Mr. Aristotle concedes (perhaps acknowledging how one form of love may grow from another), “many do remain friends if, through familiarity, they have come to love each other’s character… ”
At this point, I will concede (somewhat) that eros and philia are indeed different forms of love, even if sometimes they come together as a package deal. In making a different but related point, noted Christian writer, C.S. Lewis suggested the following experiment:
“Suppose you… have fallen in love with and married your friend… now suppose that you were offered the choice of two futures: ‘Either you will cease to be lovers but remain forever joint seekers of the same God, the same beauty, the same truth, or else, losing all that, you will retain as long as you live the raptures and ardours, all the wonder and the wild desire of Eros. Choose which you please.’”
Mr. Lewis seems to be saying we have to recognize the reality and difficulty of a choice between the different loves. We can have one or the other, but not both. He captures this difference effectively in the following sentence: “Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest.” Friends, therefore, are more likely to be happy to welcome a new friend who shares their common interest, but eros is a jealous love which must exclude third parties.
Lewis believed that friendship and erotic love may go together, but in many respects he agreed with Harry and Aristotle that the combination is, at the very least, a tenuous one. Mr. Lewis’ contention that a friendship between a man and a woman can exist, but that it can do so only if the parties involved are not physically attracted to one another, or one of them loves another. Otherwise, the friendship will slip into the erotic realm eventually.
This is not too different from Harry’s view, who after stating at the very beginning that sex (eros) will always get in the way, later adds the qualifier, “unless both are involved with other people.” But then, in one of many convoluted pieces of dialog that damns this movie (Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan are two of my most hated of Hollywood actors, BTW), he adds, (and I paraphrase loosely here) But that doesn’t work because the person you’re involved with doesn’t understand why you need to be friends with the other person. She figures you must be secretly interested in the other person -- which you probably are.
Lewis is a little less gloomy than Harry. Lewis suggests that lovers who are friends may learn to share their friendship with others, though not, of course [!],erotically. Still this does not address the main point in all this: the supposed precariousness of friendships with members of the opposite sex.
Perhaps it is best to cede the point that friendship between men and women will be more difficult within the context of a culture that’s terribly paranoid and repressive about eros (desire, sex, love). Friendship between men and women (and individuals with a romantic potential) will almost always be more difficult than same sex friendships. There will always be at the least a faint sexual tension not present when only one sex is involved. However, this tension might give the friendship a flavor not easily achieved any other way. In my experience there is no conversation better that that between a man and a woman who are not in love, have no intention of falling in love, but yet might fall in love; a pair who know each other well, but are also aware that there are frontiers yet to be explored.
This point might describe what many found appealing in When Harry Met Sally. In one scene a friend expresses doubt why Harry would pursue a relationship with Sally when there is no prospect of sex. His answer is telling, “I can just be myself,” Harry says, “cause I’m not trying to get her into bed.” That sentiment right there -- the absence of an agenda (or at least being transparent about it) -- is what makes all the difference. At least it makes all the difference for me. When I decided to hold a moratorium on romantic relationships after coming to the sad realization almost all my relationships were horribly dysfunctional, it opened the gate for me to understand women as human beings. Freed of “the agenda,” I was able to be myself and in the process learn how to be with women in ways I never imagined.
Even with the sexual tension present. Eros is a problem for friendship between men and women, though it can also be wonderfully enriching. Eros is a threat because, unlike friendship, many experience eros as a jealous love that does not like sharing...
My ex-wife was my dear friend before we married. We even slept in the same bed once or twice and it wasn’t something that was uncomfortable or complicated. Once, we had talked all night at her place and we just fell asleep. Eventually, ours would evolve into a romantic love, but it was a love that grew out of friendship between a man and a woman. Today, we are no longer married but I count her as one of my most trusted and dearest friends.
So yeah, to answer the question, not only is friendship between a man and woman possible, it is imperative.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
I haven't been writing at all. My project is in danger of folding (due to lack of funding) and that's taking most of my time these days.
Man! Am I gonna get ripped for today's post! ::runs::
* * *
-=[ The Marriage Myth ]=-
-- Khalil Gibran, The Prophet
Everywhere we look we’re being told that the institution of traditional marriage is in a state of crisis!
There’s a bit of dishonesty in that sentence. And it’s not that marriage is in crisis. It’s that the institution of marriage isn’t, nor has it ever been, “traditional.” Human unions have gone through a number of transformations. We would be wrong to assume that it was ever a stable institution. On the contrary, marriage has always been in flux. It has only been based on the concept of love for 200 years; before that, it was a way of ensuring economic and political stability. Historian Stephanie Coontz points out that since hunter-gatherer days to the modern era, “almost every marital and sexual arrangement we have seen in recent years, however startling it may appear, has been tried somewhere before.” So when we think of cohabitation, gay marriage, or stepfamilies as deviating from the so-called “norm,” we are wrong, because there has never really been a “norm.”
This should be a wake-up call for a country obsessed with the image of the perfect nuclear family -- mother, father and two kids. In fact, the nuclear family, as espoused by religious fanatics and “born agains,” is actually a downsized version of the closest we can say a family represented. Today’s family is a fragmented version imposed by the exploitive effects of the industrial revolution.
We are trying to force ourselves to be something we never really were, or were for a very brief period of time. Instead, we need to be more tolerant of and open to different forms of union. People with traditional “family values” lack the skills to adapt to social realities that have changed marriage, such as the increased independence of women.
I would agree that many of our familial woes come from an unrealistic, idealized version of marriage. Forever after is a perfect ideal in an imperfect world. I think advocating for a more liberal interpretation of marriage would help. What I am stating here isn’t new, many have had this idea before, and centuries-long historical documentation confirms it.
Coontz’s basic thesis is that what we think of as the traditional marriage -- marriage based on love -- was not the purpose of marriage for thousands of years. Instead, marriage was about acquiring in-laws, jockeying for political and economic advantage, and building the family labor force. If you were a farmer, you had children in order to increase the workforce, for example. Admittedly not very romantic, but very pragmatic. It was only 200 years ago that people began to believe that young people could choose their own mates, and should choose their own mates on the basis of something like love, which had formerly been considered a threat to marriage. As soon as people began to do that, all of the demands that we now think of as radical new demands -- from the demand for divorce, to the right to refuse a shotgun marriage, to even recognition of same-sex relations -- were immediately raised.
But it was not until the last 30 years that people began to actually act on the new ideals for beloved marriage. Social conservatives say that there has been a crisis in the last 30 years, and I agree with them, that marriage has been tremendously weakened as an institution. Where I disagree with them is whether this is such a bad thing. What is clear is that marriage has lost its monopoly over organizing sexuality, male-female relations, political, social, and economic rights. I agree that this shift poses tremendous challenges, but I disagree with the idea that one could make marriage better by trying to shoehorn everyone back into the older forms of marriage. We need newer, more relevant metaphors to live by because the main things that have weakened marriage as an institution are the same things that have strengthened marriage as a relationship.
Marriage is now more optional, because for the first time ever, men and women have equal rights in marriage and outside it. Well, maybe not total equal rights, but there has been progress in gender equality. Women today have greater economic independence. This means that you can negotiate a marriage, and make it more flexible and individualized than ever before. So a marriage when it works is better for people, it’s fairer, it’s more satisfying, it’s more loving and fulfilling than ever before in history.
The paradox is that the same things that make it so are the things that allow people not to marry, or to leave a marriage that they find unsatisfying. I would agree with those that say you can’t have one without the other. Therefore, we need to learn to deal with the alternatives to marriage. Alternatives to marriage being singlehood, cohabitation, divorce, and stepfamilies -- and all of these kinds of alternatives to marriage that have arisen.
What we need to be doing is not necessarily strengthening the union of marriage as it’s been known, but adapting better to new forms of marriage.
With every evolutionary leap, there are opportunities and crises. The industrial revolution opened up new opportunities for many people, but it also created havoc in peoples’ lives. It also downsized family from extended to nuclear. But the point is that there was no way to go back to turn everyone into self-sufficient farmers. So we had to reform the factories, and we had to deal with the reality we faced. I say that it is the same with marriage. There is no way to force men and women to get married and stay married. There is no way to force women to make the kinds of accommodations they used to make, to enter a shotgun marriage, or to stay in a marriage they find unsatisfying. We have to learn to adapt to both the opportunities and the problems that contemporary life raises for us.
It’s a fact that evangelical Christians are just as likely to remain single or divorce as atheists. And this is just one demonstration that this is in fact an irreversible revolution in personal life on the same order as the industrial revolution. It doesn’t matter what your values are. Everyone is affected by this. Even people who want or think they are in a traditional marriage are not exempt from these changes. So that the divorce rates of evangelical Christians are the same as those of agnostics and atheists shouldn’t surprise us. Nor should it comer as a surprise that the highest divorce rates in the USA are found in the Bible Belt. People who believe that sex outside of marriage is immoral, tend to get married early. And in today’s world, that is a risk factor for divorce. So that’s one of the reasons that they tend to divorce more. We are experiencing a revolutionary change in the way that marriage operates, and the dynamics of marriage. It’s so much more important now to meet as equals, to be good friends as well as lovers, to have values that allow you to change through your life and negotiate. And a lot of people who claim so-called traditional values in fact don’t have those skills.
I think we can start from the beginning, acknowledging that people need support systems. We live in a very unfriendly environment for families. Ironically, it’s the social conservatives -- the same who like to spout empty rhetoric about “traditional family values -- who are least friendly to families. They oppose, for example, many policies that help married couples. If they’re going to keep their marriages going, couples need things like parental leave, subsidized parental leave, so it’s not a class privilege to take some time with your kids. They need family-friendly work policies. They need high quality, affordable child-care. So that they don’t have to call in sick or quit a job or spend hours agonizing about their kids.
The lack of these social supports for families really stresses families. So it’s very ironic that many of the people who claim to be most in favor of marriage do not spend any time building these support systems.
Coontz, S. (2005). Marriage, a history: From obedience to intimacy, or how love conquered marriage. New York: Viking.
Click here to go to Stephanie Coontz’ website, which offers dozens of articles by the author.
Friday, October 15, 2010
The weather is slowly changing and the days are getting shorter. Soon autumn, dressed to the teeth, will appear at that moment when you most need change.
Have a great weekend, people…
* * *
-=[ Resolution ]=-
Many of us search and search and some of us have stopprd trying. Whatever the case, a man cannot be fulfilled until he has ceased searching the fool’s gold of release. True sexual freedom is grounded in the relaxation of your true Self, moment to moment. Similarly, no woman can be fulfilled until she has stopped searching outside of herself for a way to fill herself and is grounded instead in the presence of radiant love.
When a man is grounded in his true Self, he no longer fears losing his woman, nor is he afraid to lose himself in relationship with a woman. Instead, he welcomes her gleaming enchantment and freely surrenders himself to her loving. He ravishes her, penetrates her with his presence, loves with no inhibitions, and she opens, surrendering to love and is fulfilled. Don’t be mistaken, she’s not filled by him; rather, she is fulfilled by grounding herself in her own fullness as love. She is fulfilled by the expression of the powerful love overflowing her heart.
Uninhibited loving is the fulfillment of her heart. The problem is that very few men are ready to dance with the dynamic presence of such love and deep surrender. Similarly, for a man, being grounded in the natural freedom of his true Self is the ultimate fulfillment of his quest. It is just that few women are ready to embrace a man who is already free -- who neither needs her, nor fears her.
We receive very little guidance or support needed to come to rest in our inherent freedoms and the radiating power of our natural loving. Instead, we are taught that we are supposed to be searching. This search is supposed to be the basis for our lives. Everyday, we’re supposed to go out on our quest for freedom -- whether it’s financial, creative, or psychological liberation. Everyday we are supposed to engage in relationships that promise love. Our quests and relationships are supposed to fulfill us, but do they?
Somewhere down the line, we have to come to the realization that no amount of money, sex, knowledge, or affection will satisfy us. No matter how much we experience all these things we are always seeking for more. When will realize that these feelings of insufficiency arise from the tension of the search itself, and if only we relaxed into our heart right now, we will feel complete?
As long as we doubt the validity of our true selves and hearts, we will continue veering off into the dead end streets of hope. And most of us end up in the same dead ends: food, family, money, work, sex, or intellectualization. Most of us also sense that, no matter how good our lives seem on the surface, underneath the façade we fill unfulfilled. We do not feel totally free or even ecstatic in love. Even in our intimacies, our deepest desires are often denied.
Our style of sexing reflects this tension, this anxious search, our unwillingness to sacrifice ourselves entirely in the giving of uninhibited, passionate love.
I want to surrender
I want to feel you surrender.
We must confess this to our lovers and to ourselves.
PS: Sex is good for you.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Caution: you may not want to read the following story. Seriously.
* * *
-=[ Letting Go of Guilt ]=-
I have written about guilt before. In a way, I believe guilt (along with ignorance) should be considered one of the deadly sins because it’s responsible for so much suffering.
I usually make a big stink about my birthday -- celebrating it and letting as many people as I can know about it, but it wasn’t always that way. Many years ago, my stepfather, Vincent, a man I loved and saw as a surrogate father, committed suicide in the early morning hours of my birthday. He put a gun to his temple and pulled the trigger. Just like that...
I’m asleep in a drunken stupor. I’m vaguely aware of someone trying to shake me awake. I think it’s Vincent, but I’m not even sure if it’s him or a dream. Annoyed I shrug him away and tell him to leave me alone, and I crawl back under his car. He tells me he really needs to talk to me and I tell him, or the dream, that it can wait. To leave me the fuck alone.
It was the day before my birthday and we were living in Houston. It was Friday and my stepfather had picked me up from work and I asked him to stop by the liquor store to stock up for our usual Friday family get-togethers. In retrospect Vincent seemed a little different that day, more pensive, and we spoke on the way home. He told me a lot of things: how he was feeling pressure to maintain the quality of life; he spoke of disappointments -- he spoke about a lot things.
I was surprised because Vincent was the type of man who never complained. He was cut from old school: never let them know how you feel. He was a rock. He was a worker. Vincent was made of the stuff that made this country. He got up in the morning worked very hard, and he provided. That’s what he was taught a man was supposed to do. But he would never really talk about what was going on in his mind. He was a stoic in that sense. He did what he had to do without complaint.
On the way home that day we talked and we explored how maybe we can do things differently. I was working and I could help him financially (he wouldn’t accept money from me) and that he should let my mother know about the financial problems and stop trying to put up a façade that everything was fine.
When we got home that day, there was no one there -- everyone had left to go fishing. My mother’s an avid fisher and it wasn’t unusual for her to round everyone up and go crabbing or fishing. At the time, my sister and brother, as well as myself, were all staying in the house. My sister, had a live-in lover, as did my younger brother. Actually, my sister had only recently moved out, but she was there all the time. My other sister, lived nearby and was always around. We were a tight-knit extended family that spent a lot of time together.
That day, when I got home and went to wash up, I found a bloody pair of panties that had been left in the wash basin by my brother’s live-in girlfriend, whom I couldn’t stand. I showed this to my stepfather, who was outraged and it just fueled the whole conversation about letting people know there things were going to change, blah, blah, blah.
And we drank…
Towards the end of my drinking, I became what’s called an “ugly drunk.” I could get confrontational and say and do and say spiteful, hurtful things, and start shit, and that day was no different. By the time the rest of the family showed up, both Vincent and I were well into a quart of Bacardi and I was in rare form. Before the night was over, my brother and I almost came to blows (he took exception to me calling his girlfriend a pig), and Vincent argued with moms. Finally, my mother threw me out of the house because, “ I was acting like a garbage can.” Actually, she tried drop-kicking me but I was too fast for her. I don’t know where she found the strength, but she picked up this huge potted plant and threw it at me, barely missing my head.
I went to my sister’s house which was nearby in the same sub-division and started talkin’ shit there until, mercifully, I went to sleep under my brother-in-law’s car in the garage. No one knew I was there.
I am awakened by a cousin. “We’ve been looking for you, Eddie! Something terrible has happened! It’s Vincent! Hurry!”
I wake up thinking there’s been a fight or major argument but I’m completely unprepared when I see my mother’s eyes -- I see it all in her eyes and I’m wrenched into sobriety. My mother only manages to say, “Oh Eddie… ” or something like that. Nothing prepares me for the next time I see my dear Vincent, an incongruously neat bullet hole in his temple. I scream out in denial because I can’t accept this -- this can’t be... And I hold his head in my hands and beg him to wake up.
Outside the hospital, my brother challenges me yelling out, “It’s your fault! If you wouldn’t have been startin’ your shit this would’ve never happened… ” And he goes on a harangue for what seems to me too long and all I can do is stay quiet. And every word is like a knife into the very heart of me. When I try to form the words, nothing comes out, I have nothing, I’m empty inside, as if the very life force of me has been sucked out.
The details are hazy, but I remember someone trying to wake me up. I thought it was Vincent. He kept calling for me to wake up and he tried to take my arm, but I shook it off, telling him to leave me alone. I’ll never be sure if this really happened because I was so drunk. Was I dreaming? Was it really Vincent trying to wake me up and telling me he wanted to talk to me, or did I make the whole thing up? I don’t know…
All I know is that sometime in the night one of my cousins found me and told me to get up quick because something terrible had happened. I looked at my cousin and she saw my anger and said, “Get up, Eddie, Vincent shot himself.” I’ll never forget those words.
They rushed me to the hospital and the last time I saw Vincent he was already dead. A part of my mind couldn’t wrap itself around that. There was my mother crying and everybody else and there was Vincent dead, having shot himself in the head in a drunken stupor/ rage. What’s worse, he did it in front of my youngest brother, his son Vinnie, who was maybe 5-6-years-old. He locked himself and my little brother in his car and blew his brains away.
At the hospital, it got ugly. My brother confronted me and told me that it was my fault because I had gotten drunk and instigated a series of events that ended tragically. Vincent wouldn’t have shot himself if it weren’t for me, he said. And I looked around and while the rest of my family didn’t say it outright, no one disputed it either. I jumped at my brother, the rage welling up in me was uncontainable.
Looking back, I can’t blame my brother. Our lives were irrevocably, senselessly changed that day, and it was something unfathomable, it was impossible to make any sense of it. I know that in my own heart I also felt Vincent’s death -- it was my fault.
They say that all suicides are accompanied by a psychological phenomenon known as psychache. Psychache refers to the pain, anguish, and psychological hurt in the psyche, the mind. Truth is, Vincent had attempted suicide before, but was unsuccessful. Sometimes when he drank, he would lose it completely. There were demons inside of Vincent -- who knows what lurked in his mind? What traumas he harbored? And while things weren’t all that smooth, he was experiencing the most success ever.
But I took my brother’s words to heart and I couldn’t forgive myself for Vincent’s death. From where I stood, I killed him. I created the circumstances leading to his suicide by fighting and inciting Vincent. Vincent’s actions that night almost destroyed my family; the repercussions would be felt for years. It was my fault as surely as if I had put that gun to his head.
Tragically, suicide is not as uncommon as we think. Within the United States, suicide ranks as the eleventh leading cause of death among the general population, the second leading cause of death among 25-34 year olds, and is the third leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds. Of the 240,000 annual suicide attempts, most do not end in death and despite the frequency of suicide, there is a huge social stigma attached to it.
I left Houston as soon as I could, returning to New York and distancing myself as much as I could from my family. I was unable to face the hurt, the destruction, but no matter how much I ran, I lived with that guilt in my heart for so many years. I can honestly say that Vincent’s suicide marked the beginning of my personal descent into hell. For many years after, I became more and more self-destructive, gradually surrendering to my dark side, throwing myself into an addiction that knew no satisfaction. And whenever I thought about changing, or doing something to save myself, my guilt was there, something I could flagellate myself with, ensuring that I would never feel worthy of some measure of sanity, some peace of mind.
I like to say that feeling fucked up is habit-forming, and it is -- you can rewire your brain for misery if you feel fucked up long enough. I couldn’t change in part because I didn’t feel worthy. I was unworthy in all areas of my life. I was a failure as a father, as a son, a lover, a brother, I was someone who never fulfilled his potential -- all these things drove me and my addiction. Most of all, I felt so guilty for my mother, who suffered so much.
Guilt is a completely different thing than remorse. In our culture, “guilty” is a verdict hammered out by a judge in court. And if no one else punishes us, we look to punish ourselves, in some way or another. Guilt for me meant punishment deep inside my psyche. It created in me my own psychache.
Today I know that Vincent’s suicide wasn’t my fault, but it took me a long time to get here. I also had a lot of support and did a lot of “inner” work therapeutically and otherwise. And still I almost didn’t make it. I too attempted suicide once and when that failed, I tried to get others to do it for me. But I’m here today, and I can celebrate my birthday and not be angry with Vincent for taking what I thought was the easy way out. For so long, I was so angry with Vincent. How could he do such a thing? How could he leave us? I still miss Vincent, and today I still love him…
Today, I know I can never really know why Vincent did what he did. Today, I try to honor Vincent’s memory by remembering all the good he did while he was here: his selflessness, his compassion, his commitment to providing for us -- five children, four of whom weren’t even his own.
Vincent always encouraged me to use my intelligence. He would take me to his co-workers when I was a child and announce, “This is my son and he’s real smart. Ask him any question -- go ahead.” LOL! It was a lot of pressure and I hated it when he did that, but nine times out of ten, I would get the answer right and Vincent would beam with pride. He paid for my cherished encyclopedia Britannica because, although he never had a formal education himself, he understood my intellectual curiosity needed to be nurtured. My greatest hope is that he really understood what he meant to me -- to all of us.
I guess the most difficult part of my journey was convincing myself that I deserved forgiveness and absolution. For so many years I lived with this crippling guilt. Then one day, I realized that if I wanted live, I would have to let go of the guilt -- forever. That was the day I broke out of my inner prison.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
* * *
-=[ Hate ]=-
Hatred is never anything but fear -- if you feared no one, you would hate no one.
-- Hugh Downs
The only sin is ignorance.
A gay man was tortured in a house on a quiet block in the Bronx set on a steep hill in the Bronx. He was lured there because he was told there would be a party. He showed up last Sunday night as instructed, with cans of malt liquor. What he walked into was not a party at all, but a night of torture -- he was sodomized, burned and whipped.
Before setting upon their 30-year-old victim, the nine attackers, ranging from 16 to 23 years old and calling themselves the Latin King Goonies, had snatched up two teenage boys whom they beat, one of whom was sodomized with a plunger, until they admitted having sex with the man. All punishment for being gay.
The greatest evil is that good people do nothing… I have to admit outright that I am ashamed to say these animals call themselves Latino. They bring shame to every Latino/a -- every human being. Hate kills, and if you stand by and do nothing while something like this happens, if this doesn’t at least make you vote for asshole politician who at a sane outlook on sexual orientation, they you’re part of this crime. You’re part of every crime committed against people who’s only perceived transgression is having been born with a different sexual orientation than yours.
I have a friend who was once almost beaten to death. After she was beaten and brutally gang raped, her tormentors laughed as they urinated on her and left on a road like discarded trash. As a result of this beating, she lost sight in one eye, suffered broken facial bones, and had to go through months of a painful recovery process. As extensive as her physical injuries were, they paled in comparison to the psychological and emotional damage she endures to this day.
Why? What did this sweet and beautiful young woman do that warranted such treatment, I asked myself as I looked at her lying there in the hospital, her swollen, deformed face barely recognizable. The answer was quite simple: she was brutalized because she was perceived as being different by a group of predators. She had the audacity to be different. I couldn't understand and my mind could not grasp the degree of inhumanity evident in this act.
Hate and fear...
But even if I hadn't had a loved one brutalized in this manner, I would still fight against this blind hate. It affects all of us regardless of whether we're aware of our connection to it. The simple truth is that the things we often hate most about “other” people are reflected within our selves. Homophobes attack homosexuals because they fear their own inner insecurities about their own sexuality. Repression is never morality and what happens is that when we push our fears into the dark, they acquire power over us.
I have seen and witnessed this hate all my life. I am Puerto Rican, but my features could be considered European and as a result, I have heard many comments about Latino/as or blacks not normally uttered by whites in public. It works the other way around too: I remember once two Latinas making comments about me in Spanish, thinking I was white. The comments were very suggestive and as we were getting off the elevator, I wished them a nice day in Spanish and they freaked.
I have heard Blacks talk about “spics” and “whitey,” Latino/as talk about “niggers,” and whites talk about everybody. I learned early that this whole deal was screwed up. I learned early that people fear difference... and what they really fear and hate is themselves.
I bring this up because what these ignorant animals did shouldn’t be allowed to happen in any civil society. And if you really think this has nothing to do with you, think again: who will speak for you if you’re ever targeted for being perceived as different? I think about my friend lying broken on a hospital bed and I shudder at the thought that as a society haven’t truly progressed all that much. Because it was this same indifference by some, and outright hate by others, that contributed to that crime that night long ago.
Someone somewhere said that the greatest evil one can do is to do nothing, or something like that, and I have to agree.
Friday, October 8, 2010
I love New York City, the place of my birth and where I choose to call home. It is totally crazy, totally not like where you live, but who wants to live where you live? really LOL! I have lived here for most of my life and I can tell you I still haven't fully explored this City. With this in mind, please note that doors will be opened and welcome mats laid out all over the city this weekend (October 9 and 10) during Open House New York, highlighting many historic locations that are closed to the public for most of the year. Go to the Open House website for more information or pick up one of their guides (click here).
* * *
-=[ Sex Wars ]=-
Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood.
-- Henry Miller, Tropic of Capricorn
The erotic impulse should be the basis for a joyous dance between the sexes, a filter through which we could better with each other, a vehicle through which can understand the masculine and feminine essence within each of us. It could and should be an opportunity to experience a little of that which we are not, an honoring of differences; a way of seeing the world through the other side of the gender looking glass.
Instead, our erotic experiences are more like a war -- a battle in the sexual marketplace. Heterosexually speaking, we’re often reduced to men trying to get sex from women and women resenting the male preoccupation with sex. What happens is a lot of anger: Men angry that women have sex and won’t give it to them and women angry that men try to take something from them through sex.
I look at the sexual landscape and it seems to me we’re all embroiled in an elaborate sexual power game, both blatant and on the DL. Sex pioneer Wilhelm Reich pointed out long ago that sex becomes a commodity, whose value is exaggerated by a created and artificial scarcity. As it happens with all commodities, the basic question becomes who gets what from whom and at what price. Sex, in this context, becomes a basis for the exchange of money, financial security, attention, personal favors, and most of all, the illusion of affection. This illusion becomes even more pronounced in the cyber arena. I know of some individuals who act out sexually solely via cyber space.
If that isn’t whoring, then I don’t know what is… Welcome to the Thunderdome. Instead of love and appreciation -- instead of an exquisite dance of love and mystery -- we too often experience the erotic as an field of manipulation. And we’re left feeling a profound emptiness from which springs the anger, resentment, confusion, and tears -- all of which we then blame on the erotic impulse, as if it were to blame.
A great deal of this sexual confusion and pain comes from the fundamentally different ways men and women are socially conditioned when it comes to sexuality. The erotic training of boys is so radically different from that of girls that we might as well have been raised in entirely different cultures. In fact, it would probably more helpful to think the sexual wars in just those terms. If we were to come together with a curiosity to learn about each other’s customs, we might be able to begin to perceive, without blame and judgment, our different perspectives on Eros (the sexual impulse). It would be like one person saying, “Among my people, sex is generally a prelude to intimacy, a way of making one emotionally vulnerable.” Another person could respond, "Really? Among my people it’s the opposite -- emotional intimacy is required before a person would feel safe enough to allow this vulnerability of being sexual.”
No need to make one right, the other wrong. No need to laugh at or resent our differences.
Almost from birth, adults relate to boys’ bodies differently than they do girls’. Boys are held less, fondled less, and allowed to cry longer before being answered with touch. Later, they learn not to be sensual because sensuality is framed as feminine, and there is a masculine identity to be forged in which rejecting the dominant figure of the mother plays a big part. Boys are taught that it is not cool to want to be held and comforted, not cool to want to be softly stroked. What is cool, even necessary, is to want sex. The entire urge for touch, comfort, care, gentleness, and intimacy is reduced into the single outlet of sex.
At the same time, girls are taught that sex is their enemy. Sex is a monster, a male beast, and it is the task of the female to tame the beast. Sex contains the danger of pregnancy, and also the danger of destroying one’s status among the society of “good girls.” Sex as pleasure is only permitted if it’s essentially an expression of love for a partner, but sex for its own sake -- lust, desire -- is unfeminine.
So here we are thrown together in this mess. The boys, and later men, try to get all of what they have condensed into sex from the girls and women, who have reduced sexual desire to a romantic detail. Ultimately, the men are left feeling rejected and angry; the women feel pressured, objectified, and angry.
We all bleed.
Sadly, the first casualty in this war is the pure nature of the erotic dance. Lost, along with all of its potential for magic, healing, pleasure, intimacy, and fulfillment.
We need to take back our erotic impulse and begin looking honestly at the different perspectives on eroticism. We need to explore how desire is aroused differently in men and women. We need to take stock of the consequences of teaching men to pursue sex at all costs, while at the same time teaching women to be afraid of sex. Perhaps we can begin by looking at the basic childhood experiences of boys and girls. For example, how does the fear of being subsumed by a dominant mother, versus the fear of being abandoned by an emotionally absent father, affect desire in men and women later life?
While male and female perspectives on erotic desire and sexual union differ greatly, we can still share a deep appreciation for the depth and wonder of human sexuality that transcends the imposed social limits of gender.
PS: Sex is good for you.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
A little bit of humor…
* * *
-=[ Thinking Allowed ]=-
Or: Thinking Aloud
Quick! Stash away your brain. Yes, you know that gelatinous matter between your ears? I know you don’t use most of it (the unused 90% is higher for teabaggers). However, the editors here at the [un]Common Sense Blog have discovered that your brain is illegal. The U.S. government has criminalized the chemical compounds of peyote, even though one of them, dopamine, is a primary neural transmitter in the human brain. Our brains also produce anandamide, a substance that’s nearly identical to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
::watches disdainfully as some fools set their brains on fire::
So much for the “they hate us and our freedoms” view of Islam. According to my computations (not really) more than 1.2 billion Muslims live under democratically elected governments, and there is a steady movement towards democratization, civil rights, and political freedom in many other Islamic nations (click here for source).
And this here from our “Good News/ Bad News” department: The U.S. Air force has complied with the Environmental Protection Agency’s ban on ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). It has removed CFCs from the cooling systems of ballistic missiles that carry nuclear warheads. “If they are ever fired,” Access to Energy reported, “there will be an environmentally friendly nuclear holocaust.”
At last! A man I can admire. A blind German clairvoyant named Ulf Buck claims he can foretell people’s future by feeling their naked buttocks. I’ve been trying to tell women this all my adult life! Believe me, if I can feel your naked buttocks, sweetie, I will definitely be able to tell your immediate future (“I see you experiencing a refreshing soreness and deeply felt sense of surrender in the near future.”)
From our historical department comes the following gem: The first humans to arrive in Hawaii were led by “wayfinders.” These miracle workers navigated uncharted seas by reading star positions, discerning weather patterns, and interpreting the ocean’s colors and movements. Shoot, I know some families can’t make it to Disney world with a map without killing each other along the way! More than seven centuries before a few European men dared to sail beyond the safe boundaries of their known world, entire Polynesian families crossed the vast expanses of the Pacific Ocean in, yup, catamarans.
I’ve been reading again, folks. Yup. In his book The Naked Woman, best-selling author/ biologist Desmond Morris (The Naked Ape), takes us beyond the G-spot. He says that in addition to the G-spot, women have three other highly sensitive erotic zones in the vagina. He calls them the A-Spot, C-Spot, and U-Spot (more to come at a later sex blog).
From our “subversive acts” files: a few years ago, members of the Barbie Liberation Organization sneaked into toy stores and swapped the voice boxes of 300 GI Joe and Barbie Dolls. Boys who later purchased the plastic soldiers were shocked to hear the toys make comments such as, “I like to go shopping with you,” while the girls who came to own the mutated Barbies heard commands like, “to the front lines, men!” (click here to view video)
Finally, our crack research team (really a Dominicana with a great ass!) came up with the following morsel: In her book, A Natural History of the Senses, Diane Ackerman observes that in many cultures the word for kiss means smell. “A kiss is really a prolonged smelling of one’s beloved, relative, or friend,” she writes. “Members of a tribe in New Guinea said good-bye by putting a hand in each other’s armpit, withdrawing it, and stroking it over themselves, thus becoming coated with the friend’s scent. Other cultures sniff each other or rub noses.” Now, before you get all culturally myopic on me, please note that my preferred manner is to put my hand in the crack of your ass while I’m kissing you and then smelling my hand.
I lurrrrve the baby powder!
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
In some cultures, part of the coming-of-age ritual involved announcing yourself to the world. It was a way of identifying your gifts, of establishing who you were, and what you were bringing to your community. In a way, the praise poem tradition forced a member of a tribe or society to recognize and commit to their gifts. The following poem, written by Aurora Levins Morales, was inspired by her multicultural heritage and diversity. In it, she identifies the virtues of her diversity, the power she derives from her multi-ethnic make up. Perhaps you can write a poem following her format describing your own ethnic background.
-=[ Child of the Americas ]=-
I am a child of the Americas,
a light-skinned mestiza from the Carribean,
a child of many diaspora, born into this continent at a crossroads.
I am a U.S. Puerto Rican Jew,
a product of the ghettos of New York I have never known.
An immigrant of the daughter and grandaughter of immigrants.
I speak English with passion: it's the tongue of my consciousness,
a flashing blade of cristal, my tool, my craft.
I am Caribeña, island-grown. Spanish is my flesh,
Ripples from my tongue, lodges in my hips:
the language of garlic and mangoes,
the singing of poetry, the flying gestures of my hands.
I am of Latinoamerica, rooted in the history of my continent,
I speak from that body.
I am not African. Africa is in me, but I cannot return.
I am not taína. Taíno is in me, but there is no way back.
I am not European. Europe lives in me, but I have no home there.
I am new. History has made me. My first language was spanglish.
I was born at the crossroads
and I am whole.
-- Aurora Levins Morales