Saturday, August 1, 2009

Those awesome single dudes WILL become doofy husbands

Sarah Haskins deals with the apparent idiocy of all men as soon as they become husbands. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A new look at free love: polyamory

by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux

Terisa is sleeping with Matt, but he's married. That might be a problem, except Matt's wife, Vera, is also sleeping with Larry. But then again, Larry is sleeping with Terisa - who is also dating Scott. We're left to wonder how much of this Matt and Vera's 6-year-old son knows about this - or how he addresses Terisa. If your head is spinning, don't worry - mine is too. The situation is confusing, but only if you're accustomed to our cultural monogamous paradigm, which would completely shatter if confronted with even half of the complex sexual pairings among these five people. Forget ugly divorces or child custody battles or jealous brawls on daytime TV talk shows - in a "traditional" American family, this would result in complete fucking chaos (pun - I swear! - unintended).

But for them, it doesn't. In fact, it's their chosen lifestyle, one that makes them happy. Newsweek has a fascinating story, published yesterday, about this "polyamorous" group, and about polyamory as it exists in modern American society. "Polyamory" refers to relationships with multiple mutually consenting couples, and no, this is not a synonym for "swinger" - these people are not pursuing casual sex. Rather, the confines of monogamy do not, for whatever reason, work for them, and they have created their relationships with the knowledge and consent of all parties. The article is fascinating, focusing on ncluding its rather tormented relationship with the gay rights movement, who are clear in their stance that while homosexuality is not a choice, polyamory is.

You should read the article for yourself to hear the whole story. But the most interesting part for me was the ability of people within polyamorous relationships to thwart jealousy by being entirely clear about what's going on emotionally and sexually. In many ways, they sound more sensitive to their partners' needs than most monogamous couples, simply because part of the appeal is making sure that your partner is physically and emotionally satisfied, even if you're not the one who's satisfying them. There's a specific jargon with words like "polygeometry" and "polyfidelitous", a rather tormented relationship with the gay rights movement, who see polyamory as a life choice and thus not part of their agenda, and an ongoing debate about the impact on children within polyamorous families (to the point where the Polyamory Society warns parents against "putting their family at risk" by coming out to the public or allowing their children to be interviewed by the press), but at the center of the article is a compelling thought - that happy nonmonogamous relationships can be achieved. This is an idea that's been tossed around quite a bit recently (notably by Tristan Taormino, who's mentioned in the article, and who will be speaking at Princeton in November about creating healthy nonmonogamous relationships in a college setting), and I'm glad to hear it articulated again, because even if polyamory isn't for you, the ideals of honesty and openness that it requires are crucial for monogamous relationships too, and they're in shockingly short supply.

Thanks to Aku for the tip!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Some "words of wisdom" from former model Elle Macpherson

by Gracie Remington

While so many models attempt to profess their profound depth and erudition by either carting around some absurdly large philosophy text or using words with more than three syllables, it's nice to see one own up to her absolute stupidity and shallowness. In an interview last week with the Guardian, Elle Macpherson discusses the fashion industry's alienation of larger women ("Perhaps larger women haven't been as celebrated and therefore haven't been interested in themselves, but today larger women, or all different body types, are celebrated”) and feminism (“There's a stereotypical perception that a feminist is somebody who believes in equal rights for men and women. Well, I believe men and women are different and they have different needs, therefore the concept of equal rights doesn't really sit with me in many ways”) among other things. Thank you, Elle, for shedding light on these issues. Your insights are truly invaluable.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

An orgasm a day, Ben Roethlisberger, and robot models

by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux

This is a little old, but I thought it was very worth sharing. Britain's National Health Service in the city of Sheffield has produced a pamphlet which has a surprising message for teens - sex doesn't automatically equal moral degeneracy and STIs, and sometimes it actually feels good. What is this, you say? We should be telling our youth that sex is something that should be enjoyed? The pamphlet includes a section called "an orgasm a day" that focuses on the positive physical and emotional results of sex and masturbation. It also contains information about safe sex, but the creators are definitely unique in their ability to connect safe and pleasurable sex. Steve Slack, one of the designers of the pamphlets, says that one of the key aims is to make sure that teens can delay sex until they know that they are physically and emotionally able to enjoy it (which is why it is so important to talk to teens about masturbation), but of course there are those who think that this pamphlet will lead youth straight down the path of sin and gonorrhea.

"Some of it is good sense, but I think it's wrong is to suggest that 16-year-olds should wantonly enter into having sexual intercourse for pleasure," said Anthony Seldon, headmaster of Wellington College, a school for teens. "I think this is medically wrong and emotionally wrong and will increase teenage pregnancy and impact negatively on the formation of a long-term loving relationship." Well, there you have it. Sex and long-term loving relationships have nothing to do with each other - and god forbid that sex should feel good. And we wonder why there are so many adults who are totally uncomfortable with their sexuality.

The NYT has also had a slew of good articles recently, which I'll run through quickly. Nicholas Kristof's latest column tells the story of a young Pakistani woman who was kidnapped at the age of 16 and repeatedly raped by a group of thugs and then, when she was finally delivered to the police, raped by four police officers. Instead of committing suicide, which would be the socially acceptable way to cleanse her family of the shame that she brought by enduring horrible pain and violation for a year, she has chosen to do the unthinkable, and prosecute the rapists and kidnappers.

Women are better managers? An interview with Carol Smith, senior VP for the Elle Group. I'm always a little wary of trying to compare people's work skills based on little things like their genitalia, but it is refreshing to see people asking why there aren't more women in corner offices, when they are clearly incredibly qualified. I didn't appreciate some of her generalizations about men and women though.

This is just fucked up. A robot walked the runway in Japan this week - just to emphasize the extent to which our standards of beauty are completely fucking unrealistic. But at least the robot did give "sidelong glances" to the front row, so she's almost as good as a real woman.

Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, is being sued for rape by Andrea McNulty, a hostess at a Harrah's in Lake Tahoe. This is causing quite a stir over at ESPN, which told its reporters not to cover the story - ostensibly because no criminal charges were filed. The whole situation is proving that rape culture is alive and well - starting with Harrah's security chief Guy Huyer, who apparently told McNulty that she should feel "lucky" that she "got" to have sex with Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers have an insane fan base (I should know - my dad is a Steelers fan from way back, and our house goes crazy whenever they play), and McNulty is getting some pretty brutal treatment in the press and on the internet. The phrase "lying golddigger" is getting thrown around a lot, simply because McNulty filed civil and not criminal charges. Jaclyn Friedman has a great post here about why civil charges were filed, but sadly, I think we can expect even more attempts to tarnish McNulty's reputation as the case goes on. She's a brave woman for standing up to this kind of horrible scrutiny, and we can only hope that the fact that it's being covered at all will force people to recognize that this happens far more often than we allow ourselves to think.

In memoriam: George Tiller

This is a wonderfully sensitive piece about the life of a man who tried to give women the option of an abortion, despite massive obstacles and threats against his life. Read it - it will remind of just how tragic his death was.

Thanks to Gracie for the tip!