Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Years Choice

When I started this blog in October, I had the idea that I would write for a month or two and then develop some kind of cohesive-ness, be it reoccurring themes or some overarching structure, to give the blog more traction. So, about a month ago, I decided I had enough ideas to boil things down and make this restructuring a reality. I started writing down my summary, hoping to reveal it in a day or two.

40 pages, littered with wikipedia entries, mantras and all capital pep talks later, I am giving up, for now, on trying to have an overall point. I'm too all over the place to try and simmer things down. And, like everything, this has applications to my life overall.

Every minute, we're choosing one specific thing over the infinite. Most of the time, our choices are basically unconscious. Sitting on the couch, not the chair. But even our conscious decisions, most of the time, seem on some level to be out of our control, be they comforts, habits, addictions, or just the myriad of things that we repeat enough times to then consider them a part of our personality, something definite and tangible that we can hold on to as ourselves. But all they are, all they ever are, are choices.

Choices are unbearable to me. Whenever I feel conscious of a decision, it's like two halves of myself split, and I see these two people I could be in my mind's eye. And then, somehow, I'm suppose to pick the person I'm suppose to be? I think the hardest choices are the ones that are the contours of our contradictions, that force us to come to terms with the parts of ourselves that are more easily made separate. As soon as I begin to lean towards someone, the other side of the choice pulls me back, reminding me of these parts of myself I'm cutting off.

This unbearable weight of choice almost always leaves me static. But I think my biggest confusion is that this stasis, too, is a choice. Time doesn't allow us the luxury of decision making, every moment is us making our decision. I wish I knew right now what this blog was meant to be about. I wish I had some definite way to sum it all up, but right now that's too hard. Instead, all I have is the choice to write at all, and the resolve to do it. Even when choices seem impossible, the choice between action or inaction is simple. Not to say it's easy. It's always easier to do nothing, but I at least know that at the end of the day, I want to be someone who chose something. Here's the first post in honor of that choice, of the new year. And to my prayer that everyone can chose that something they've been putting off---no matter how long!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Married Sex--Overcoming Bias

This is an answer to a blog post that got me very heated this morning. If you click that link you can see the whole discussion I got into with him. Sorry I have been lagging in blog posts--I'm developing a new construction/structure for my blog, which should be rolling out by the end of the week!

I have just been lurking at this blog for about 3 months now, and am truly shocked by this article. It SO poorly argued and presented, it strikes one as a complete joke. Overcoming Bias? Are you kidding me? And are you serious with saying “people express strikingly little sympathy for sex-starved men.”? Basically, as I understand it, Robin is trying to argue that the reason most marriages are sexless is because women withhold sex in order to gain power over men. He argues this by stating that women are “allowed to be confused” about sex, but this really just masks the fact that they withhold sex to gain power over men in marriage.

“This complexity allows women to be honestly confused about what they want, but it can also hide motivated differences between what women say or think they want, and what really drives their choices.
THUS: For example, reduced sex might come from wives respecting husbands less than before, from seeing overly willing wives as lower in status, or from withholding sex to gain bargaining power on other issues.”

He then takes selected comments from Weil’s deeply nuanced story and extremely long chronicle of marriage improvement to demonstrate the power dynamic he outlines. I have read this entire article, and his interpretation of their overall dynamic is strained at best, completely irresponsible at worst.

I’ll start my critique of this argument with it’s first premise—women are ‘confused’ about sex, but this is just a cover for the fact that they use sex to gain power in relationships. Is it possible that women are “confused” about what they want when it comes to sex because they are told by their culture from a very young age that they are not to desire sex? When sex is constantly being forced upon them as their only value and worth in society, their only bargaining chip, instead of an act that will bring them pleasure or strengthen their love relationships? Models for girls who desire to have a healthy sexual relationship are basically non existent.

It is a huge taboo in our culture to allow any images of women pleasuring themselves, while boys and men masturbate constantly and without much societal rebuke. Only women who are exceptionally beautiful engage in the sex they want in our television shows, movies, magazines and novels, while average and even ugly men (RE:Knocked Up) engage in all kinds of sexual escapades without anyone batting an eye.

Could this possibly be contributing to the fact that most women are not sexually satisfied–that upwards of 10% of women report never experiencing an orgasm, and anywhere from 33%-50% have trouble experiencing one when they want to? Are you really going to say “people express strikingly little sympathy for sex-starved men.“? Do you have any clue how ridiculous that sounds? You can masturbate for god sake! A lot of women can’t even find this sort of pleasure on their own, let alone with a partner. Are you really still buying into the idea that these 50% of women don’t have orgasms when they want to because they physically can’t? How rational does that sound, could there be any biases involved in that?

Sure, there are biological differences between men and women’s sexual desire. But these biological differences do not need to be “recognized” as Eric puts it. Eric’s insistence that “For example, that it will never work, speaking in general, for women to be chasers and be sexually pressing/forward, its just not sexy for people on average. And that men have to be able to stand up to and deal with other people very assertively, and be self-confident, in order to be attractive, whereas this is significantly less true for women,” as if this is some forgone biological conclusion, is so utterly ridiculous. It is just one man’s insecure hope, as he feels intimidated by women who are willing to take a stand and say what they want when the want it. Why don’t we try to increase women’s sexual education and make it okay for women to want and enjoy sex from a young age? Perhaps then men can stop feeling insecure about this and instead understand the pleasures of being chased and captured, as women have for many years now. Sure, there are traditional tropes and reasons that they existed. But if the gay/transgender/bi movement has had any effect on culture in general, it has been to soften the stark contours of what it means to be a MAN or a WOMAN and instead blur the lines, increasing equality for both.

I’m very young–22. I know that I am idealistic and extremely naive when it comes to the amorphous pending blob that is marriage. But I don’t see how ensuring men get the amount of sex they want when they want is even a slightly interesting or enlightening way to approach the myriad of issues that surround gender, sex and marriage in 2009.