Revisiting Masculinity

Quite some time ago (before most of you were regulars here) I did something of an exercise in self-exploration.  I had a bit of an emotional stimulus (caution – link is NSFW) and I felt…something about it.  In an effort to get to the bottom of what I was feeling, I picked it up and wrote until something significant came out.  The result of that was this post on gender roles, sex, and power.

I wasn’t confident that I was done exploring that topic…I think clearly I have a lot more to work out on the subject…but I’d written more or less all I could think of at the time and I moved on to other things.

Not terribly long ago, though, Crisitunity came through (I’m guessing via my “On Relationships” page?) and left a very long and quite thought-provoking comment.  I didn’t have time to give it the attention it deserved at the time, but I promised her that I’d come back and do so in the future.  I’ve been thinking about it on and off for a few weeks now, and I think it’s about time.  (Besides, it’s been a while since I did much serious relationship talk here.  What the hell?)

I’m going to intentionally not take a whole lot of time to organize my thoughts on the matter in the hope that a gut reaction will be more real.  I think of this whole thing as opening a dialogue on those issues of gender roles, sex, and power – and I’d love to have anyone who’s willing chime in with their take on it.  B’gawd, let’s talk about it – I think talking this sort of thing, especially when it’s a little uncomfortable, is part of the way we’ll grope through this whole Mars/Venus shit.

For the sake of convenience and with Crisitunity’s permission, I’m reproducing the comment here.  I figure I’m mostly directly responding to the comment itself rather than the blog post, so I’m not going to excerpt that here.  If you want the background on what I said that led to what she said, well, clicky the linky.

Here’s Crisitunity’s comment, and rather than address it internally I’ll post it in its entirety and then come back and address it a point at a time afterward.

You are not the first intelligent, sensitive man to try to have this discussion with me (I mean, I know this discussion is not specifically with me, it’s with the internet, but there’s no other grammatical construction that works) about this issue, but you have succeeded in not dancing around the issue at all, and for that I applaud you. My previous boyfriend of a few years and I did a lot of dabbling in S&M, from both sides. Sometimes he would scare himself, with exactly what you’re talking about, and sometimes I would scare him, with my intensity. No way could I have physically dominated my ex – he had me by about 200 pounds and six inches – but nevertheless, my intensity sometimes made him afraid of me. I guess the fear is realer somehow when the man is on top, but you couldn’t have gone by my ex. The only time our safeword was ever used, it was by him.

Also, I would sometimes scare him with the hidden resentment that often came out when I was dominating him. Therein lies the point of this comment: perhaps it’s unfair that men can hurt in realer and more terrifying ways in the blink of an eye (or the opening of a door), but the emotional hurt that women can wreak has the potential to spend a lifetime in a man’s brain. Not that a man isn’t capable of saying precisely the most awful thing he could say to wreck his partner’s psyche, but you must agree that female cattiness has no equal in any plottings of men.

Maybe I’m wrong about the above. But emotional hurt is the stuff that stays with you. The unlucky sexual experiences I’ve had have stuck with me emotionally far longer than the residual physical effects and the reflexive fear of sex did. And while men are obviously capable of emotional hurts, my experience tells me that women are the ones who use words, and emotional manipulation, to wound with permanence.

“deep down it’s nothing but a selfish desire for an expression and recognition of power” [This is a quote from my post – TB]

Is it? I’m not sure. The paragraph, which I am not afraid to admit turned me on a little, didn’t feel like a power play to me, so much as a “let me in, baby, and we’ll have some serious fun.” Does every masculine tendency have to be pigeonholed under the wish for power? I think it has to come from a place of “I am doing this to you, and you are irrelevant” before it becomes domination. I feel your rant comes from a place of “I am doing this with you, for both of our pleasure”, even if it’s expressed a little intensely, and is a little selfish about its desire for eminence (that is, being the best she’s ever had). But you also seem to be mixing the wish to be accepted by women who would have rejected you long ago (give me a chance) with chauvinism (I want to fuck you), and I’m not sure which one is really prevalent.

I have a lot to say about women who are afraid of admitting it when violent rape has happened to them vs. women who falsely accuse bosses they don’t like of sexual harrassment, but I don’t know that I can add anything new to the discussion.

I continue to wonder about the nature of the beast; being a woman, I just don’t have one. Is he always bad? Is he what drives men to compete and succeed in insane ways? Is there a way to let some of him out without ruining your life or your partner’s? It’s mysterious to me, especially with the little I’ve experienced of the beasts of men I’ve known and slept with.

There’s so much more to this topic, including the unfortunate fact of the physicality of sex (something I’ve read and written about a lot), the way that nice men are forced to say nothing when they want to be honest (as you talked about), and how stereotypes screw up the capability of people to talk plainly to each other about sex. Plus stigma! Let’s not forget stigma. But I’ve obviously written enough for today.

Now you see why I thanked Crisitunity for the comment.  This was as thought-provoking in its own way as Vix’s original post that started the whole thing.  Now to get right down to it.

Here goes.

First off, I can’t say I’ve done a lot of dabbling in S&M.  I think just about anybody who’s not totally, completely vanilla (and downright sugar-free vanilla to boot) has done a little teensy bit of bondage, blindfolding, whatever, but without going too much into my own checklist of “done that, not done this, done that” I’ll just say that I haven’t done all that much of it…mostly because, well, at bottom domination and submission (at least by my own definition of “subjugation of the will”) don’t really get me off.

That said, I can completely buy that, in that situation, I would probably be less likely to push hard at a boundary than a given woman might.  My wife isn’t the willowy, fragile type (another thing that doesn’t turn me on – women should have curves, b’gawd!) but on some deep subconscious level I think I’d always be afraid of hurting her.  If I’m not already always afraid of hurting her somehow.  In some ways, that could be a problem, but if so I’m not exactly sure how to go about solving it.

On the flip side, while I have a hard time imagining exactly what sort of “intensity” might scare me (and don’t take that as a request to be filled in, C!) I can in the abstract believe that it’s totally possible.  It comes back partially to the point I was making in the original blog about women having in some ways more license to use their sexual power…and, in a way that I hadn’t contemplated in the original post, I can see how that a woman’s resentment of the shackles of male society could give impetus to that sort of intensity given the right sort of (S&M-ish) circumstances.  I think that on the flip side of my “there’s a black-horned beast within every Nice Guy” theory, there’s also inside every Nice Girl someone who’s fucking sick and tired of the glass ceiling and the double standard and all their assorted cousins.  Put her in the right position on the right day, and watch out, brother.

I suppose the question there is, to what extent is it healthy and to what extent is it harmful to let that Nice Guy and Nice Girl work out their frustrations and their identity crises on their sexual partners?  I think it can be healthy and it can be harmful, but I don’t know how to define the line – or if there is a concrete and immutable line, or if it’s a shifting gray area.  I have no idea, and I’d love for someone to enlighten me with an opinion!

As for the “psychic vs. physical scars” part of sex, I really don’t have much to add other than an “I agree.”  Hell, probably the most fucked up I’ve ever been about sex was when it didn’t happen to me and wasn’t even necessarily happening to somebody else.  That fucked me up for a decade or more, and hell, anything short of a spinal or brain injury would have healed up by then.

Now for the paragraph that really made me think – backing up to the paragraph in Crisitunity’s comment that begins with “Is it?”  I agree with her point that it’s not so much a “I am doing this to you, you are irrelevant” but a “I am doing this with you” – but that doesn’t completely change my own internal interpretation of the black-horned rant.  It’s not a desire to dominate but a desire to be an object of, for lack of a better way to put it, abandon rather than submission.  To have a partner so enraptured as to throw caution to the wind and pour everything into this momentary encounter without a hint of guilt or reservation.

I think Crisitunity’s point that I’m mixing a desire to somehow validate myself in the face of past rejections with a pure hedonistic (even atavistic?) urge – but like her, I don’t know which is prevalent.  It probably changes from day to day.  I think the desire to be someone at whom women throw themselves in that way is, in a way, connected to my definition and concept of power.  I guess that says a lot more about me and my own personal mapwork of scars than about women in general , but I don’t think I’m alone in that conception, either.

That unreported rape vs. false accusation of sexual assault thing is a whole separate discussion, so yes, let’s let that one go for now.  I feel strongly about it, but I’ve got a long enough post goin’ here!  (If someone else feels strongly about it, say so in the comments and that’ll kick start the next round, I guess.)

Again, a critical set of points that Crisitunity makes with regard to what I term the “black-horned beast” – as a woman, she says she doesn’t have a beast and so doesn’t understand it, so she asks questions.  Is it always bad? I think the answer to that is “no, it’s not always bad, but it can be very very bad for particular places, times, and partners.”  With a familiar, long-term partner, you can sometimes get a feeling for when it’s right and wrong…but before you can do so, you have to have a certain comfort level in letting the beast out to see her reaction.  If you’re too afraid to do so, then a long-term relationship is usually too valuable to risk something so potentially destructive.  With a stranger, there’s less to lose, but a higher risk of LEO involvement if this turns out to be a “Bad Beast Day” or a bad time or person to let him peek out, wouldn’t you say?

Is it part of the male competitive drive? You know, I wouldn’t have thought of it, but I think yes, they’re related in some fashion.  I think that, by our cultural definition and probably by my own subconscious one, the BHB is somehow both the root of and the most horrid extreme of masculinity.  It’s maleness stripped of the restraints of civilization.  While I still maintain that this does not necessarily make it always evil, I think the potential is freed to make it so.  At any rate, I buy the link.  I think my unusual lack of competitiveness could be connected to my tight rein on my own BHB.  Maybe if I were more in touch with it I’d be a more hypercompetitive bastard?

Is there some way to let him out without ruining your life or your partner’s? I hope the answer is “yes,” but I really don’t know.  I guess I’ve personally been too afraid to try and find out the answer is “no.”  I worry that the BHB is a genie that can’t be put back into the bottle.

I suppose that, at bottom, this may be sort of a Jungian shadow problem.  I suppose that one could say that I have defined myself in opposition to the monstrosity of a rapist, but that at some basic level I fear that part of me which could become that monster, and the hatred of the shadow and fear of being subsumed by it feed a self-stoking cycle.  If so, I don’t know that I’d say the idea of “holding back the beast” was wrong necessarily, but it clearly comes at a cost.  The question, I suppose, is how one can judge the cost if one doesn’t allow oneself to know the extent of the beast.  And, again, this is a question for which I have no answer.

So, at bottom, I guess I’ve advanced no further than I have since the last writing.  I still recognize that I’ve got some black-horned beast which requires a significant portion of my strength to suppress, I still wonder if he should be suppressed, and I still fear my ability to control it in moderation.  I guess I’m one fucked-up pup.  Despite this, my wife still likes to sleep with me, so I suppose it could be worse.

But I’d love to hear other people weigh in on this one.  As Crisitunity says, how does a Nice Guy say what he thinks instead of saying nothing…and still remain a nice guy?  How does a man balance the BHB with the Nice Guy – masculinity with civility – in an honest way?  I’d like to think that my day-to-day life is my answer to those questions, but I don’t think mine is the only answer, or necessarily even the best one.  And if there’s a better one out there, I’d sure like to find it!

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24 Responses

  1. “If I’m not already always afraid of hurting her somehow. In some ways, that could be a problem, but if so I’m not exactly sure how to go about solving it.”

    Well, that’s what safe words are for, silly. The larger implication of this statement worries me – that you may not trust your partner’s ability to say stop. I understand that you’re concerned about suddenly crossing a line before she can think to say stop, but still…I think that’s the key in all sexual relationships, that you have to have trust, that you have to be plugged in to each other enough to know where each others’ boundaries are. I wonder if this point of view states better than anything else the inherent trouble with this whole subject – as a male, you believe that your own power is overwhelming and possibly unstoppable by a woman. But you have to see that as an intelligent, sensitive man, the slightest hint of “stop” from her would stop you. The fact that you worry and think about this means that she is safe, that you can trust her to trust you.

    I ain’t talking about the sort of situations in which one commonly uses safe words – although I suppose having an overall safe word wouldn’t be a bad idea for any couple, hmm? Amusingly, Dys and I discussed something very similar to that several years ago, and agreed upon a word that wouldn’t routinely be used so we’d know exactly what it meant…and now I can’t remember it for the life of me. *rolls eyes*

    Now that Dys has posted, I can be a little more forthright – it’s not so much that I don’t trust her, or any partner in the abstract, not to stop me or that I believe my power is unstoppable so much as I’m afraid I might do damage in that quick instant before anyone could react. To be perfectly honest, as MTAE has said below I’ve had a past history of getting involved with women who I perceived needed help. I would guess that that and my fear of hurting them are linked, I just don’t know exactly how.

    Have I missed the point there? Have I insulted you? I’m very sorry if so. I’m just throwing things out, not necessarily talking about you personally.

    Nope, not hurt or insulted at all. We’re all good.

    I’m not sure what my own S&M dabbling says about me, about how my feminism fits into my personality and so forth, but that would be a much more personal and lengthy discussion than is wise here. I will say that in my experience, all the lines in S&M are gray and wobbly aside from the one beyond which you say “STOP.” The line between roleplay and real-life frustrations, the line between healthy and harmful, the line between pain and pleasure. None is immutable that I know of. The only immutable thing is the safeword.

    I couldn’t presume to talk about the interplay of feminism and S&M, but I think it would make for an interesting subject. (I sure as hell wouldn’t presume to talk about your dabbling!) But I can definitely see and appreciate your comment about the lines being broad, gray, and shifting…up until the safe word.

    “It’s not a desire to dominate but a desire to be an object of, for lack of a better way to put it, abandon rather than submission. To have a partner so enraptured as to throw caution to the wind and pour everything into this momentary encounter without a hint of guilt or reservation.”

    This caught me off-guard and made me think really, really hard. I realized that, well, this is how I have approached nearly every sexual encounter in my life. To go about sex any other way, to me, would be sort of…dull. I would really, really love to hear what anyone else thinks about that.

    I’d like to think the same, but I can’t say that it’s always been true. Which is my own fault for not being able to shed my baggage as I should be. I think I’m better about it now than I used to be, but I think I still have a ways to go. I think in general I try to hard, because my self-image has been too wrapped up in a) being a Good Guy, and b) just plain being good. Which is something that a therapist said once that put me back on my heels: “So, what you’re saying is that if you’re absolutely on your A game and everything is perfect at that moment…you’re almost good enough?” Uh, yeah, that’s what I was telling him, and I hadn’t even stopped to think how fucked up that was. Food for thought for another time, perhaps.

    “I think that, by our cultural definition and probably by my own subconscious one, the BHB is somehow both the root of and the most horrid extreme of masculinity. It’s maleness stripped of the restraints of civilization.”

    I think that what you have to say is entirely valid, but this train of thought spun me off onto another one. I am still trying to see clearly the spectre of maleness, not the cultural one but the one that exists inside all the men I’ve ever known. The one you talk about is just a ridiculous exaggeration of the BHB, as opposed to the genuine masculinity that all men express to a degree. The most recent example of this thing that I do not understand happened when I watched Obama’s victory speech – a certain way that he moved his head while he paused, the way he reached inside his body for his voice, was indisputably masculine, but it wasn’t scary or dominating. I see the same thing when BF stands up and reaches for his keys, sometmes. I saw it in my dad when I watched him interact with his subordinate officers. I think it’s the same reason (seriously nerdy example) that Jonathan Frakes looks better with a beard than without. I told BF I thought he looked more masculine. But why? What is all this about? No comprendo.

    I’m not sure I could give you a good answer, because I think it’s well understood that the male conception of masculinity and the female conception thereof have a gulf between them. The best example being men’s bodies – I remember reading that men think they should look like bodybuilders because that’s what women find masculine, whereas women are actively turned off by guys who are as bulked-up as men seem to think they’d like. We’re sending each other signals about how to perceive masculinity and femininity, but they’re being lost in translation.

    “I suppose that one could say that I have defined myself in opposition to the monstrosity of a rapist, but that at some basic level I fear that part of me which could become that monster”

    Ooooooooh. Interesting! I have never thought about this from this angle. When I was at college – a women’s college – I found that I was trying to define myself in opposition to what everyone told me I should not be: a passive, meek housewife, who likes decorating and cooking and homey things. Discovering myself as a strong, intelligent woman who still likes decorating and cooking and knitting and staying at home…that was goddamn difficult. I would suggest that trying to embrace your masculine side without creating it in opposition to the BHB would be just as difficult. But perhaps that’s where you find that spectre of the masculine.

    I think your touching upon the definition in opposition to a role is a good comparison. To take it a bit farther, cooking and knitting at home weren’t going to earn you time in the Pen, or have you labeled as a monster. A traitor to the cause, perhaps, but not a monster. So add that impetus to the fear of that definition…

    SOMEONE ELSE TALK ABOUT THIS. I CAN’T SEEM TO SHUT UP.

    Now you know how I felt! Blah blah blah SOMEBODY STICK A SOCK IN MY MOUTH.

  2. Holy crap TB. I must not have been around for the original post.

    I might completely wander off on a tangent here…so hold on. This might be a little more “personal” and detailed than I get…even for one who is without an identity.

    The years I spent, to quote a president, “mis-underestimated” growing up 5’8″ and soft spoken didn’t make me less of man, bit it did get me less attention that the rest of the high school population.

    Amen. And by the way, I’m 5’9″ without the shoes, so you’re not “diminutive” to me!

    To have that added to a life of abuse made me much more “sensitive” to the needs and feelings of others…sometime at the sacrifice of my own needs and feelings, both emotionally and sexually.

    See, there’s something that I found out through a bunch of reading, therapy, and introspection. I was quite happy in my relationships to sacrifice myself in order to pour myself into that other person so they would give me back…exactly what I was in the first place. Stupid. I didn’t like myself at all, but I was idealistic enough to expect someone else to give back all the good qualities that I didn’t recognize in myself…while simultaneously expecting them to reflect back something that had everything to do with my expectations and nothing to do with who they were as a person. Crazy, but seemed to make some strange kind of sense at the time.

    Being someone diminutive in height, I see it when someone “tall, dark and handsome” walks into the room, just as women see our heads turn when an attractive woman walks in the room.

    Personally, that doesn’t bother me at all. Inside of me, I am pretty confident that I can please ANY woman because for that time we are together, my focus is 100% on her. My pleasure is derived from her pleasure and that heighted state of awareness of each other is an amazing place to be…

    I’m confident that I can please a woman, I’m just rarely confident that a woman would even consider the possibility. That’s the root of my insecurity which I believe in turn feeds the ol’ BHB.

    That look of “shock and awe” from a suprised woman is the most “power” I have ever felt over someone.

    To be able to tell when a woman needs “immediate” satifaction, ravaged, brought to the brink and back down again or needs to be satified “repeatedly”, is the best part of the experience.

    Okay, now you’re just flirting with me, aren’t you? 😀

    The whole process might actually be me needing to prove myself…I never thought of it like that. It might just really be a lack of security on my part that makes me only derive real satifaction from whether or not she is satisfied.

    I can definitely empathize there. As I said above, I think that’s been part of my problem – sometimes I think I’m too focused on building myself up by satisfying my partner to be truly there. Which doesn’t sound like a huge problem but I think it can be.

    Admittedly, I could have a little trouble with a woman that needed S&M or being dominated, so I could cave on that point. But I couldn’t imagine being in a situation like that unless I ran into a woman with a hidden “beast”.

    I would also have to admit that my “sex only” relationships are not great in number…they have all had some intense emotional attachment to them also. I might not have that same intensity without that emotional attachment.

    My “sex only” relationships are, uh, zero. I can’t recall if I’ve said it bluntly on this blog or not but I know I haven’t recently, so I’ll confess how little I should be saying on this topic: by common definitions, I’ve had two partners, and I married the second one. Even if you use the de-Clintoned “if it involves the genitals, it’s sex” definition, then I’ve had four partners. I ain’t exactly Wilt Chamberlain over here.

    The trouble for the “nice guy” is that he doesn’t get a chance to show that very often.

    “Nice guys” are nice guys, but it surely doesn’t mean that given the opportunity to bring that intensity to a sexual situation, that we can’t deliver, but we just aren’t looked at that way when we have our clothes on and are walking down the street.

    Preach it, brother! I suppose if I were brutally honest I would say I’m a little disappointed about that fact. I just don’t know what to do about it. Or if anything should be done.

    Everyone has boundaries and it is fun and exciting to push them slowly and steadily. I think I have had the advantage of being with partners with relatively equal experience levels and it made it so we could experience pushing the envelope together.

    I am sure I have gone off topic here a bit and not really addressed the “power and control” part of this, but there is just so much here that I am overwhelmed.

    Me too, man!

    The one thing that I have found out about myself from this post (and comment), is that my insecurities in life play out exactly the same sexually too.

    Mine too, and I’d rather have that not be the case.

    TB…Wow! I comment you on a set of completely throught provoking and “soul searching” posts.

    I’d better hit “submit” before I delete the whole thing…

  3. I’m sorry, TB, I don’t think I have the energy to get into this one right now.

    Wow.

  4. LOL! I am thinking I should have done the same…

  5. Maybe the BHB needs to discuss this with Dys and see where she stands on it… 😀

    The BHB is skeered of her. 😀

    This is (as usual from me) probably not going to be very cohesively written and may ramble, so sorry in advance. There’s also stuff I’d like to say, but cannot because I don’t have anonymity here and my blog is only one click away…I don’t wish to hurt my family.

    I’ll say this to Suzy and anyone else – if you want to comment anonymously, just log out and leave a totally anonymous comment. You don’t even have to clue me in.

    I may not be the best person to comment. I’ve been in the same relationship since I was 20, so we’ve largely grown up together. Our relationship is very much founded on equality, both in bed and out, and I am not the kind of person who would do well in any other kind of partnership.

    Sounds like a great relationship to me.

    I’m not an S&M fan. To me (coming from a very long term, stable relationship, lol) either submissiveness or domination, when you’re actively trying to do it, both take away from the enthusiasm of a genuine response. Of course, there are times when one person becomes more dominant, but that’s not the same thing at all. Actually setting out to have sex where one person is in charge and one person is dominant doesn’t interest me, though of course I’ve tried it. Just isn’t my bag, and I am certainly not saying it’s a bad thing for some people or that there is anything necessarily wrong with it in the right environment.

    I think it’s fun to dabble in on occasion, and I think it works quite well for some people on a larger scale than that, I’m just not one of them. It doesn’t bother me or shock me or anything, it just ain’t me.

    I personally think that ALL of us have a bit of BHB in us- unlike Cristiunity, I think it exists in women as well as men. Maybe as women, we’ve grown up with the expectation that the Nice Girl will always be in place, to a greater extent than that expectation is of men…so the female BHB is even more suppressed than it would be in a man.

    Are you speaking about the BHB in a sexual context, or in a more general context of aggression (typically thought of as male), a combination thereof, are you referring to the feminine equivalent of the typical female roles, or other? I’m just not sure I entirely follow.

    That said, I think this is all about finding someone who is on the same wavelength as you, and finding ways to let the BHB off the leash every so often in a safe environment. I think that the point the BHB becomes a problem is if you are not in tune with your partner and yourself. The lines get blurred.

    There’s probably truth to that. If you and your partner are in perfect harmony with yourselves and each other then the BHB would find an outlet…or, I suppose, just integrate back into your daily self and vanish as an “Other.” But damn, I have enough trouble getting in tune with myself…now you’re gonna throw another person and all their variables into the mix? I’m so screwed. 😀

    The last longish term relationship (a year long- I was 18) I had before my current one- that was a problem. He wanted to dominate me- his BHB was WAY out of control, and what was worse, his BHB did not bring out mine! That kind of relationship, to me, is massively destructive and a complete turn off. I don’t know if he thought I’d meekly submit, but I found it boring and claustrophobic, and left. He had big issues. I think the big dividing line here is that some people recognise the BHB and realise that, although for sanity’s sake, it needs some kind of release now and again, for the most part, it has to be kept under control. He did not WANT to control his. To an extent, I judge myself that I let myself be in that kind of environment for as long as I did, but I was just a kid and I don’t think I trusted my own judgement enough, somehow.

    Yeah, that dude sounds like a problem. I think anybody who doesn’t WANT to control the dark side of their personality, however it’s expressed, has some significant problems. Probably not the best choice for a partner. But when we’re young, none of us know the right signs, you know? And/or we’re idealistic enough to think that people can change, especially if they have a good impetus (i.e. ourselves) to change.

    Everyone is different. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer here. I think you have to work with what you’ve been given, and if you can find someone who is in the same place as you, so much the better.

    An excellent summation, ma’am!

    To me, though, it’s the desire to keep the BHB in check which humanises us. It SHOULD be repressed, but it also needs to be recognised. It’s when people don’t realise they have one or try to control it that bad things happen.

    True. I think my problem is that I try to shove it back too far, and it’s not healthy. I need to learn how to deal with it a little more rather than just trying to chain it up out of sight and not admit its existence.

    Wow, I am exhausted now! 😀

    Me too, and only a dozen or so comments left to answer! Heh. Me and my big mouth.

  6. Hey guys, I’m just checking in quickly on a Saturday morning and so like Heather and MTAE I really don’t have the time to give your comments the thought and response they deserve!

    But I appreciate ’em – you’ve given me some serious food for thought in return, which is exactly what I hoped for.

    I didn’t really post this to get some answers so much as to open a dialogue so we have the opportunity to see how each other thinks about this weird-ass stuff I (and others like me) have buried in the back of my skull. So thanks, feel free to keep ’em comin’, and I’ll get back to these things later – by Monday at the latest.

  7. Well, I don’t have this particular brand of weird-ass stuff buried in the back of my skull. I have my own set, understandably.

    Mine is of the “Are we really supposed to be monogamous? Are we going against our basest nature just because we’ve been conditioned to for so long?”

    See…we’re mammals. We’re the only mammals that get busy just for the fun of it. But we’re also some of the only class of mammals that are monogamous. Strange, no? It’s like saying “Yes, you may live in the candy store but you may only have red jelly beans.”

    I’ve been around so many people who cheat. I’ve been cheated on and I’ve been cheated with. One particular couple exchanged ‘get out of jail free’ cards. This meant at any time they could sleep with someone else. One time. No questions asked. I know people who swing/partner swap/live with open relationships. They don’t love the partner that they’ve chosen any less, but there are times they want something other than red jelly beans.

    I MIGHT be able to forgive a meaningless sexual encounter more than I could forgive my significant other falling in love with someone else. That might not make sense to anyone else, but we’re knocking around in MY head here for a moment and it doesn’t have to.

    It’s the whole sex vs. intamacy thing. I, myself, can understand having a very detached attitude regarding sex. It reminds me of a line in Chasing Amy (hi Kim) where Amy asks Banky “Haven’t you ever had sex with someone you didn’t love?” and he answers with “Some of them I downright loathed.”

    Do we make sex more difficult than it has to be by mucking it up with all of the feelings that get involved? Would less people cheat if the rules weren’t so strict? (‘Monogamy is too cruel a rule!’ I miss Friends.)

    Could I live with an open relationship? I’m not so sure. Could I have sex just for the sake of feeling good? Sure. Do I have to be in love with that person? NO. Does this make me a bad person? I don’t know. I’m sure there’s some big book of rules somewhere (and I belive I know what it’s called) that says that I AM bad and immoral.

    These are the weird-ass questions that knock around my head when I think about our interactions with each other and when I think about our nature and not what we’ve been taught/conditioned/brainwashed.

    Yeah.

    Now, see, that’s a whole separate six-page blog post together with thirty pages of comments. 😀

    Seriously, it’s a topic I find fascinating (and you made several excellent points already) but I think I’m gonna bookmark it and save it for a future post. And hope that I don’t say something during it that makes my wife bash my face in with a frying pan while I sleep…

  8. I guess when we were created/evolved/(insert your own option of how we happened to occupy this planet), we were given a more advanced means of commuication and the ability to pursue more that living and advancing the species.

    This is the ultimate flaw in the system and now look at us…there are probably about 4 billion people on the earth and each and every one of us has a different view of sex and relationships/

    That’s a simple truism, isn’t it? We may all speak the same language but we all have different dialects and local slang and personal connotations. It’s a wonder we manage to procreate! (It’s a good thing it feels good enough to keep trying, otherwise the species would be doomed, I tell you, doomed.)

  9. MTAE: “Being someone diminutive in height, I see it when someone “tall, dark and handsome” walks into the room”

    I thought this was interesting because of that scene in Fight Club, a film about rampant, destructive masculinity, where Ed Norton talks about “everywhere we went, we were sizing people up.” I have always thought that that’s gotta be a pretty harrowing way to live – constantly worried about where you stand, and how you’d come out in a fight, in regards to the person next to you. What does everyone think about that in relation to masculinity/power? Is that not what you meant, MTAE?

    I don’t go through life sizing everyone up in regards to fighting them – unless the situation merits it, like if there are lots of opposing-team fans at a football game, or I’m in a bar, etc. But there are also situations in which I size other men up in terms of how I think women would perceive us – I think I do that one more frequently.

    Heather, I loved what you had to say. I’ve asked myself questions like that a LOT. There’s actually a species of primates relatively close to us in the evolutionary line, Bonobo monkeys, that uses sex to solve social problems. They’re one of the most peaceful species on the planet. Of course, the problematic possible result of this is like Brave New World, where sex is disposable and the identity of your partner is meaningless.

    Again, another blog post someday. But that last bit sounds kinda crappy. (Admitting my illiteracy, I haven’t read Brave New World. But I can sing the Iron Maiden tune of the same name…badly and off-key.

  10. Damn…too bad TB isn’t around for this. I have exposed more of myself in this post/comments than maybe a year of all of mine. I think he won’t mind us talking amongst ourselves…he can catch up later.

    You’re right; I don’t mind. In fact, I often think that a blog sort of takes on a different life of its own once people start commenting back and forth to each other as much as to the blogger.

    Interesting you bring up “Fight Club”. It was a horrible movie as a whole (the ending is what made is so bad…it really had potential and the first 3/4 was intense), but that scene with them on the bus is the one thing that made me stop and think…I just saw it for the first time last weekend.

    This is where my personal history comes into play. I was the victim of severe and constant physical and emotional abuse from birth to the day I left home. There isn’t one second that I walk this earth that I am not completely aware of every person near me…my guard is down in my house…until someone drives out front.

    It is a horrible way to live. My wife says that I sit up every night, every hour and look around the room before going back to sleep.

    That really must be a horrible way to live. It takes a strong person to come through all that and still be able to show even an outward facade of sanity.

    This is a part of what drove me to silat in Germany. It taught me a lot about breaking out of my shell and not being a victim any longer. All this really did was give me confidence…I probably should have seen a psychiatrist too, but the sessions as a child went very poorly and he betrayed me to my parents and made things worse.

    My guide/trainer in Silat was not a remarkable man by the standards set by society, but he showed me where to draw my strength from…from me.

    That’s a lesson I wish everyone could learn at a young age. Preferably without traumatic events showing us the way…but it seems that that’s how most of us find it, doesn’t it?

    So, yes, I am ALWAYS sizing myself up to those around me. I don’t enjoy it, but it is the truth. If you look at the sub-title of my blog…it is “disguised as a functioning member of society.”

    On the outside, you’d never know my past. I laugh about my internal struggles. It is funny, but I am in as much control as I can be…I have been involved the only three physical altercations after my return from Germany, where I put my hands on someone. Two of the three I stopped when I had my knee on the head of the instigator and he gave up. The third, the man was stopped after he swung and missed me.

    Prior to that time on the mountain…I was out of control.

    I know I have wandered from the “sexual” part of this post even further, but for me…everything is connected.

    I completely agree that all these things are connected – the looking over your shoulder, the aggression, all different faces of what I call the BHB.

    To all of you now…I know that I sound “insane” and “dangerous”, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. I am in more control of my life than I have ever been…and people should actually feel pretty safe around me…I have their back.

    Christunity, I know I have only been reading you for a couple of weeks and I don’t know how much of my stuff you have read, but I have devoted my life and everything I do to helping those around me in their daily lives. Not for religious reasons. I work very hard at lifting burdens from them and taking that stress on myself because I can help make things better for them. I know what people need, when they are hurting and when there is nothing I can do for them other than give them my support.

    It is my great strength that I have built from the turmoil that used to be my life. I haven’t put it all behind me…it is all still there.

    There are similar facets to my own personality. I wonder now, as I think about it, if there are portions of that that are my own attempt to prove I’m a good person to spite the part of me that would not be so benevolent.

    I could explode tomorrow and be Naked on the Roof with a rifle, but I am pretty good now.

    Christunity…that was a very good quick analysis and even a more impressive comparison to that scene in “Fight Club”. I would SO love to meet the people who put that scene together…it probably meant nothing to them and everything to me.

    I am not so sure it is about masculunity and power, but maybe it could be…I am so fucked in the head that I don’t think you could pin it down to something specific like that.

    Forgive the grammatical errors and typos…this is me unedited.

    Nothing to forgive; unedited is cool.

    I also thought Fight Club was an awesome movie, and although I hadn’t thought about it in such terms, I think while avoiding most of the sexual-identity issue we’re mainly discussing here, it does deal with the touchy issue of how to define masculinity in a society that disavows the most naked, stereotypical aspects thereof. And it closes somewhat ambiguously at an intersection of anarchic destruction, self-destruction, and salvation.

  11. This is a really interesting post, yet it’s something I feel I’m not qualified enough to add anything intelligent and/or original to. I’m with Heather on the monogamous issue; having been married nearly ten years, I still question the reality of that.
    This is a really cool way of having a calm, thoughtful conversation on topics that aren’t always comfortable to discuss in person.
    Maybe I’ll have something to add eventually, but in the meantime, thanks for the insightful writing.

    Exactly. All of us sitting in a bar could hardly have this conversation with any sort of honesty – but here we have a little more rein to let our guard down. That’s what I like best about blogging.

    Now if we can just dodge the trolls….

  12. Suzy is right – Dys could say a lot on the issue. And actually, I have. I wrote out my own verbose comment last night, before many comments had been added, and I decided that I would hold on to it for a couple of reasons. (1) As the author’s matching puzzle piece, I generally try to stay the hell out of these particular conversations – because it requires a level of exposure of our life, because it opens me up personally on a level that I’m not sure I’m okay with in this forum (true anonymity is a farce when you put yourself in print, period), and because my input has the potential to drastically change the tone of the conversation being had, whether it be because it invites the whole damn world to address me personally on the issue or because it worries folks in the ‘circle of friends’ enough to change what they might have to say. Let’s face it: This blogging thing is as much social experiment as it is journal or personal commentary, and reading things from my chair as TB’s wife can be interesting on a level that I sometimes don’t even want to witness. (True, I don’t read every word he writes — where the hell do y’all find the time 😉 ) (2) I would never post a comment like what I’ve written without showing it to him first.

    I LOVE the “where do you find the time” crack. 😀

    In short, however, I do just want to say thank you, in particular to MTAE, for talking about how your past has evolved your present. As someone who has been abused myself, I can completely appreciate the difference between appearing in control and being in control, but it took me a while to learn it.

    Anyway, definitely more to follow, but for now, I’ll just be waiting quietly in my chair in the corner, sipping my drink.

  13. More randomness- I wish I could write as well as some of you!

    Heather- I agree totally with what you say about sex v. intimacy. For me, intimacy is necessary for a long term relationship, but I haven’t approached every relationship that way. I used to have a boyfriend who was damn hot, just beautiful to look at, and we both fancied the pants off each other…we didn’t actually like each other very much and there was certainly little intimacy or tenderness between us. It made for an interesting couple of months, but that was it. I’m not convinced that all of us are programmed to be monogamous. I read an article recently which suggested that humans are best suited to have approximately 3-4 long term monogamous relationships in their lives! I don’t know if I buy that, and think there are a lot of generalisations out there. I guess the trick is finding someone who feels the same way about it all… 😀

    And a hell of a trick it would be, huh? 😀

    MTAE- what an interesting comment…do you feel that you’re atoning in some way for your parent’s actions? Everything in your life is so geared around proving that you are not them, and dissociating yourself from their actions- I can only marvel at how you’ve turned out so well having been brought up in that environment. It’s no wonder you want so much control over your life when your childhood has been characterised by such an abuse of power.

    Chrisitunity- I am interested by what you say about sizing ourselves up in relation to the next person and wondering where we would come out. Do you think this is solely something men do, or do you think women do it too? I agree it sounds like an exhausting way to live; however I’m not at all convinced I don’t do it sometimes. I can have insecurity issues, and I know sometimes I worry too much about appearing in the best light to others. There can definitely be an element of feelings of inadequacy when I compare myself to others- maybe it’s just human nature to need a place to slot in to society. Do we do this solely within our own sex, or do we compare ourselves to the opposite sex too? Is the power struggle always about sex, or is it simply humanity’s way of organising society?

    I would argue that we all do it, male and female, but that we predominantly do it within our own sex…unless you’re talking about office politics, and I think that sort of conflict takes place on an entirely different plane of consciousness. I think the sizing-up that we’re talking about is much more primal and primitive than that. I don’t think it’s always about sex, but I think when you’re on that primitive plane of consciousness sex is never too far away.

    Dys- I can see how this could feel weird, lol! I’ll be interested to hear what you and TB have to say!

    Me too! 😀

    Another question- is sex ALWAYS about power, and a power struggle both internally and with your partner? Is the BHB always about sex?

    I don’t think sex is always about power, but I think it is for the BHB. And I don’t think the BHB is always about sex, but I think he is always about power in some sense or another. So, circularly, I guess my logical conclusion there would be that I interpret the BHB to be a primitive consciousness that concerns itself with power and so only conceives sex in that respect. Does that make sense as a concept? Even if it makes sense, is it believable?

  14. MTAE – thank you for sharing all that pain with us. I would say that I think you have a unique perspective on masculinity/power/sex, but I think that everyone has a unique perspective…hence all the comments here. I don’t think you sound insane or dangerous – just working out some issues from childhood (aren’t we all). I would ask you the same thing as Suzy – are you atoning for your past? I try to help people too, but for me the key is to keep everything in balance. I won’t comment on Fight Club here, because I thoroughly disagree with your opinion of the movie. 🙂

    Dys – I’m glad you showed up, because I have been a bit concerned about your perspective on all this because I’m worried that we’re all traipsing on an issue that’s personal to you considering your relationship to the author of this blog. My intention (and I’m sure that of everyone else here) in commenting here is never to upset you, and I hope you know that. I look forward to hearing more from you, whatever you have to say.

    Suzy – I think that women size themselves up in different ways than men do, or at least in different ways than they were talking about in that scene. I think ours has more to do with a complicated pecking order, how fashionable your sweater is and whether you have a manicure and how many afterschool activities your kids do, whereas for men it’s more “can I beat him in a fight?” I might be oversimplifying there, but that’s my impression. I have no idea if we compare ourselves to the opposite sex. I subscribe to de Beauvoir’s notion of the Other, and for that reason I think that men and women have great difficulty identifying with each other enough to form comparisons like that, but since a lot has changed since she formed that theory I could be wrong.

    I’ve been amazed at how strongly some women seem to feel competitive on the mothering front. Not that dads don’t do it, but wow.

    I also think most men and women just don’t understand each other enough to try to compete the way we do with members of our own sex.

    I don’t believe that sex is always, or even often, about power. I believe that there’s an inequality that it’s difficult to acknowledge in a healthy relationship – BF could easily overpower me if he wanted to, and the mechanics of sex mean that he is invading my body no matter how you slice it, but it’s possible for humans to overcome this problem emotionally if they’re connected enough.

    As someone said above (I think Suzy? I’m losing track!) if everything is in sync in your relationship then it’s only about power when it’s all fun and games. The problem is, how often are things in sync? As opposed to “Damn it, he/she keeps doing that thing I hate so much, he/she must not respect me…” and when respect comes into question, the power plays come out also.

  15. CU-Fight Club was bad just for the VERY last scene, with the buildings going down…it could have been much more. I was left disappointed. As you can imagine, the movie had me “hooked” from the beginning. It was on “G4” or “Spike” and they showed it twice in a row and I watched it both times…

    All-I wouldn’t call my behavior/attitude/life an actual atonement for anything. That would indicate an attempt at balancing the scales for my “family”. If forced to characterize my life, it would be “panicked fear” of turning into them or producing offspring that were capable of similar actions.

    Right where I’m thinking as well. I worry not so much about atoning for rapists and other bastards by my own behavior as the fear, however irrational, that I was somehow capable of being one.

    My relationships with women have always been about saving them from bad times in their lives. I never really thought about it until a few years back, but when I write down the names, and think about their situations, that is what comes up.

    So, when we talk about sex in relationship to that, it might explain the emotional attachments both myself and partners have put on the “act” itself.

    I touched on this above, but only recently did I notice this pattern in my own life. Now I try to be a lot more careful in how I interact with all women. Placing myself in some sort of “knight in shining armor” position, no matter how idealistically romantic I may be attached to that notion in my head, really isn’t fair to either of us.

    So, going back to the original “dominating” point of TB post, I am probably not capable of such “behavior”

    I have only been with one woman where there was no emotional attachment…and that was my first experience. That was also a scar, and something I had erased from my brain until now…

    ARRRGHHHH!

    Sorry for bringing out the scar, dude. 😦

  16. The aforementioned previously written comment below (wow, that was an interesting thread of descriptors!). I actually have another comment brewing as well, but it follows another path of the discussion so it will be done separately. 🙂
    —————————————

    As the author’s partner, I generally try to stay the hell out of these conversations, but something caught my attention that I wanted to address from my side of the curtain. I don’t know how to do that without being pretty openly personal, so hopefully TB’s head won’t explode by my doing so. 🙂

    For the record, she nicely asked me to read the comment first, and not only did my head not explode but I thanked her, said it was awesome, and asked her to post it as-is.

    Crisitunity – it was the first paragraph of your comment, and I’m going to maneuver a bit for my purposes: ***I wonder if this point of view states better than anything else the inherent trouble with this whole subject – as a male, you believe that your own power is overwhelming and possibly unstoppable by a woman.***

    While your point is valid in some applications, I personally don’t believe that it applies to this particular man (will be funny if he disagrees). Could he physically hurt me? Of course, but that’s face value, and I think in the case of many nice guys, particularly because nice guys often do have a painful past, the concern is much more deep-rooted than that and is actually tied to: If I hurt her, even if I don’t mean to, then will she leave me? And if she leaves me because I hurt her, what does that say about me? So, at the absolute nitty gritty, it can boil down to the fear of rejection — not just of the impulse, drive, or want to ‘let the beast out’ but ultimately of the person. Now, that said, your premise that it comes back to trust still holds, but that brings me to my next point.

    I was absolutely floored by the philosophical turn this point took…that hurting my partner could be viewed not as the thing to fear, but the thing that brought about the thing to fear, that being rejection. I was momentarily dumbfounded, because this took me completely off guard and I think it’s completely correct. It’s not just being a monster that is frightening…it’s being branded by my society, my family, my partner, and myself as a monster – and facing the rejection of any and all of those parties. So at base, it’s the fear of rejection that’s at play.

    So, one in this position faces rejection for not being masculine enough, and for being TOO masculine – to the point of the BHB taking control. You have to find a way to walk the line, and I guess it’s up to each of us individually to find that way?

    ****The larger implication of this statement worries me – that you may not trust your partner’s ability to say stop. … The fact that you worry and think about this means that she is safe, that you can trust her to trust you.****

    There are 2 entirely different forces working in these statements. The man trusting the woman to stop him before he ‘hurts’ her, and the woman trusting the man not to ‘hurt’ her. Again, while the points are valid, ‘hurt’ comes in different forms, and physical pain is usually the least of it. As someone who has been molested, raped, mentally abused, and physically abused (all separate incidents by different men — oh happy days), I’ll take the ass-kicking any day (absolutely no disrespect meant to MTAE, as I am speaking of incidents not years and adults and not children). I can get over that, but as you mentioned, it’s the emotional pain that is the problem. Even the woman who is utterly well-adjusted and has never had a moment’s sexual trauma to her life can suddenly find herself in a dom-sub situation and be utterly overwhelmed by the surrealness of it, to the point of not extricating herself from it until the time that emotional damage has already been done. Add to that mix someone who does have a topography influenced by sexual trauma, and the concept of ‘trust’ becomes something all together different.

    This is an issue that I danced around in the original posts, although that may not have been apparent to anyone else but Dys and myself. But now that it’s in the open, I can say that among other things I’m the partner of someone who has suffered sexual assault. I abhor the fact that she, or any woman, has had to face such violence at the hands of men. I think that even before I met Dys I was a guy predisposed to having trouble dealing with his BHB. Knowing the things she survived, I don’t think it’s any wonder that I have such trouble. But still, what do you do about it? Is it fair to her, or just the opposite, to be half-a-man for fear of harming her?

    And as an aside, I continue to be absolutely staggered by the fact that nearly every single woman that I know well enough (or am sufficiently anonymous to, I suppose?) to discuss this sort of thing has survived some sort of sexual assault. The apparent ubiquity of sexual assault just boggles and horrifies my formerly-naive mind.

    With that, we’re brought around to the issue of being ‘in tune’ with one another. My husband and I have been together a very long time. We’ve been through some totally idealistic highs and some devastatingly abysmal lows. We’ve been through individual and couples therapy. We’ve sat and had hours (and ohmyfarkingod hours) of conversation about ourselves and our relationship, and we both know that we can each teach the other about themselves on a regular basis because we have an understanding of each other that others will never have of us. But…because of my past and how it shaped me, even with the unequaled way that the man knows me, asking him to read me when it comes to mixing trust and sex is like asking him to read Sanskrit, upside down, from Mars. And that is no fault of his, but it is something puts him in one hell of a situation.

    “and ohmyfarkingod hours” 😀 That one made me laugh.

    It’s also fair to say that asking Dys to read me is like asking her to read Arabic, sideways, from Venus. I had a whole long series of issues both with myself and with the opposite sex before she came along that I carefully glossed over and/or hid from her (like we do, right) that rippled through our relationship through no fault of hers. I think they made for some of our great times, but they certainly also contributed to some of our worst times.

    To extrapolate that to generality, I submit to the world that I think every woman out there has her own peaks and valleys to her sexual topography (and it works both ways, but I’m trying to hold to the premise of gender typing here). Our experiences, like rivers and wind, shape the mountains and canyons of our psyches. There are rewards to be had by exploring our sexuality, our boundaries, and hell even our mores, but with every chance for reward also comes inherent danger. The inherent danger in any situation like this is that you cannot, under any circumstance, predict how you will respond when put into the position, let alone how someone else will. Which, ever so neatly, brings us full circle to, Will I be rejected?

    Completely agreed all the way around, and as an added comment, can this lady turn a phrase or what?

    Be sure to tip your waitress. Good night.

  17. I can’t speak for everyone but I have to size up myself in relation to the opposite sex, especially since I work in a male dominated field and always have. Again, I don’t walk in wondering if I could take the guys in a fight (although, I’m sure I could in some cases 😉 ) but in the ability to perform my duties. I think that’s where my competitiveness rears it’s head now and again.

    I think the workplace counts, but as I told Suzy, I think it’s on a different level. One you think with your head, and the other with your guts. Or your balls/ovaries as the case may be. 😉

  18. Heh. See, here’s the deal with me and weekends – we’re currently down to one computer that’s connected to the web, and that’s the one that Dys works on. And it’s a rare time when I’m home and awake that she’s not working, including nights and weekends – and when she’s not, we’re trying to have family time, ya know? Luckily on Saturday she was passed out cold on the couch while our son watched cartoons, so I could sneak down and read some comments.

    I couldn’t be happier with the discussion we’ve got going on here. I’m going to try to go back and do my comment-in-a-comment thing with most of these, although I admit I considered doing a whole new post to answer them. And who knows, maybe I’ll still fall back on that.

    Anyway, replying is gonna take some time, as I have other things to do (and get paid for and all that) and there are probably a few points that I’ll need to muddle on for a few minutes. But I’m gonna get going on it.

    Thanks a ton to all of you for the thought put into this. It’s all fascinating to me, not least of which are the things that make me re-examine my own thinking. Too cool!

  19. I feel compelled to comment on this entry, and the subsequent comments, though I don’t feel particularly qualified (as Heather said, my “weirdness” points elsewhere). I know I missed a lot of nuances in TB’s posts and all of the heartfelt comments left by everyone, and I don’t want to leave anyone out. So instead of responding to everyone’s thoughts and maybe missing some, I’ll just say this: I think it’s awesome the amount of response that TB has gotten and the thought that everyone has put into their comments. What a diverse little family of friends we have here.

    I wholeheartedly agree.

    My husband and I fall into rather traditional lines when it comes to gender “roles”. Some of them I’m comfortable with, some of them the wee small feminist part of my brain rebells against. Some of his he’s comfortable with, some of his he’s frustrated with. I can’t get into specifics without sharing more than what my husband would perhaps be comfortable with. All I can say is, when in a long-term relationship, you HAVE TO spend “ohmyfarkingod” hours talking about expectations – inside and outside of the bedroom. I’d say, leave the concept of “roles” out of it all. Just let it be about what you both want and need, and disregard the masculine and feminine in favor of “you” and “me”. To refer to “Californication” (and if you’re not watching that show you should be!), sometimes girls want it to be about “F**king and Punching”, and guys want it to be about gentleness and snuggling. Sometimes it’s the more traditional vice-versa. As long as there are open lines of communication – EVEN and ESPECIALLY DURING the “act” – then people mostly won’t get hurt. Sure there will be mistakes and errors and hurt feelings. Sh*t happens. Talking to each other is the only way to make anything work. Calvin and I talk EVERYTHING to DEATH and we still manage to screw things up on a regular basis. Trial and error.

    I think most people want and try hard for those open lines of communication, and sometimes we still fall short. And when we do, usually nothing bad happens, but nothing all that good either. Sometimes something good happens, sometimes something bad. Whattaya do, I guess.

    Oh, and you can say “shit” and “fuck” here. Shit shit fuck fuck, fuck fuck shit. 😀

    And now I’m just spewing out random thoughts. How come it’s harder for me to leave a comment in a linear fashion than it is to write a blog entry? Oh editor, my editor!

    Personally I think it’s a hell of a lot easier to write, and write cohesively, when I’m responding to something else (another blogger’s post, a comment, something I saw on the news, etc) than when I’m making it up altogether. I think it’s because you already have a framework to use? I dunno.

  20. Geez, I have yet a 3rd comment to post, and I haven’t even had a chance to write up my 2nd one yet. (*@$^%)(@!#

    And still don’t! Fark!

    Well, I guess you won’t have as much FFT now that you’re famous! 😀

  21. I laughed at the thought of you going through all of this to add your comments.

    Whew! It was like you threw a ping pong ball into a swimming pool full of mousetraps and didn’t get to stay around for all of the fun.

    Good thing we taped it for you!

    Man, that mousetrap analogy is PERFECT!

    All told, in and amongst other things I had to do it probably took me five hours to go through everything…holy comments, Batman!

    Still, it’s a pretty cool problem to have.

  22. All such interesting stuff. Especially what Dys had to say. But I am losing steam on the subject. Just a couple of things and then sock will meet mouth.

    Honestly, I’m losing a little steam myself – I guess plugging away on these comments for hours at a time will do that. 😉

    “To take it a bit farther, cooking and knitting at home weren’t going to earn you time in the Pen, or have you labeled as a monster.”

    You’ve never met the people I went to college with.

    Heh, touche’!

    “While your point is valid in some applications, I personally don’t believe that it applies to this particular man”

    I think you’re surely right, I just threw it out there.

    “The apparent ubiquity of sexual assault just boggles and horrifies my formerly-naive mind.”

    Sorry for the rude awakening, but…well, what I have to say about this is ugly so I’ll keep it to myself.

    “Sure there will be mistakes and errors and hurt feelings. Sh*t happens.”

    Frankly, this is partially the reaction I had to your original original post, TB, where you fretted about what damage a moment could do. The “shit happens” theory combined with the “sexual assault is horrifically ubiquitous” theory makes me wonder just how awful it can possibly be if your beloved partner makes a momentary mistake. (I’m sure that because Dys has been through what she has, you have other considerations, but I think my point remains.) There have been times when I’ve had sex when I didn’t particularly want to, which is a form of unconsenting sex, but while I don’t look on those episodes with fondness I don’t consider them scarring. Know what I mean? Maybe someone can contradict me there.

    I think there are two ways to approach someone you love making a momentary mistake – “Bah, he/she loves me, it’s no big deal, I’ll get over it”, and “OMG if YOU of all people would do this, who is there to trust in this wide world?!?!?!?” The reaction depends on the person, place, time, and alignment of the stars (scars?), I suppose.

    Likewise, there are different sorts of “I didn’t particularly want to,” ranging from “Aw c’mon, honey, I know you’re sick but it’s my birthday…” to “I’m so stupid stupid stupid to have put myself in this situation, now I can either scream and take a chance of a laundry list of bad things happening OR do what he wants.” The first episode of In Treatment comes to mind. (Am I the only one that watched that show? Anyways.) Again, how scarring it is depends on a whole shitload of factors that really aren’t predictable by the participants at the time.

    Gah, this whole sex thing is so complicated! Maybe the monks and nuns have the right idea.

  23. Dood, this is just too much for me to think about right now, but I re-read my comment on the post you linked to, and I started thinking about what I said. I’m going to post on my blog about what I said. Look for it tomorrow.

  24. And all I know is that the flip side to what Vix was talking about in that post is there are guys…wait, just read my blog tomorrow.

    Looking forward to what you have to say!

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