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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 18,889

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When Sex Isn't Sex

It's a good thing our species is programmed to enjoy sex. However you want to describe it, the physiological mechanism of more than one human sharing stimulation that results in orgasmic release is one of the things that keeps our species going.

And not just in terms of reproduction. If you look at our closest relatives, the bonobos, you can see how sexual enjoyment serves a social species by weaving a bonding fabric holding groups together and allowing the formation of complex linkages. Much more functional than the strictly hierarchical dominance mechanisms of other species, mutual sharing of pleasure and the resulting interpersonal and social bonds both enables and requires the development of versatile tools for communication and interaction.

Also, of course, it's fun.

Or at least, it should be.

Sadly, we seem to have made a right hash of things when it comes to sex.

Patriarchal culture and the religious constructs developed to enable and perpetuate its economic and social structures have freighted sex with so much baggage it's hard to tell whether we're even enjoying ourselves, much of the time.

Most sex seems less about having fun with someone else we'd like to form a social or personal bond with, and more about the gratification inherent in either affirming culture-bestowed status and/or privilege or transgressing cultural norms and expectations.

Which is just an overly-sociological way of saying that we have sex to prove how successful we are, or we have sex to prove we can succeed in spite of rules we don't agree with. The physiological pleasure is a nice adjunct, but there's so much more to it than that.

A potpourri of concepts to illustrate this:

The "pickup artist" is an extreme example of the whole "you can tell what an important powerful person I am by the number of people I have sex with. And by their perceived status."

Then there's the "I'm so hot, no one can resist me" person whose self-worth is deeply tied into their perceived sexual attractiveness.

And the people who have internalized various religiously-promoted models of sex in the context of socially and theologically sanctioned relationships, and whose sense of fulfillment is tied into how effectively they are actualizing their chosen model.

Those models are the source of a whole array of transgressive models of sexual pleasure: The thrill of "kinky" sex. The drive to get affirmation of potency or attractiveness long gone from a marriage. The power of pornography to take sexual imagination beyond a mundane here and now.

Very little of that is about "Hey, wanna have fun together? We can rub our bits against each other!"

Sex in our culture is all too rarely about mutual enjoyment and/or forming personal bonds.

It's about self-worth and ego gratification. It's about power. It's about competition. It's about fitting in. It's about social hierarchy. And most of all, it's about selling a product, whether that product is soap or stories or actual bodies.

We have commodified sex for the benefit of a patriarchal culture. If it's even a desirable goal to un-commodify sex, it's not a very realistic possibility within the lifetime of those born after 2010, at any rate. So we may want to re-examine whether it's possible to commodify sex in a way that ensures equity in spite of historic inequity. If so, what would that look like?

What forms of social and economic regulation would it require? How could we prevent those who wish to perpetuate inequitable norms and gratify their own culturally-shaped desires from exploiting such a system?

That's a huge discussion. We can't expect it to go smoothly.

But as with every other conversation about redressing historical oppression and inequity, to be effective it requires awareness of privilege, awareness of the complexities of vulnerability, awareness of history, respect for individual agency, and willingness to examine change.


What "Saving Unborn Babies" While Protecting Women's Rights Over Their Bodies Looks Like

So you want to save unborn babies from being aborted. It's a moral bedrock for you, a do-or-die issue that you'll go to the most extreme barrier imaginable (or unimaginable) to accomplish.

It's about the UNBORN BABIES, not about controlling women, not about trying to restrict their rights, nothing to do with limiting their choices over their lives and their bodies. But when it comes to a choice between those rights, and saving the life of an unborn baby, something MUST give way, and to you, that's the already-born woman's autonomy and control over her body and her choices.

Let's start with a basic stipulation:

Even the most complete legal restrictions on abortion possible or imaginable- even dumping the whole Constitution in the shitter and going full-on "Handmaid's Tale" controls, COMBINED WITH unimaginably sophisticated medical technology, will not accomplish the goal of allowing every conceptus to be carried to term.

You can't even ensure that the majority will be carried to term. Somewhere around sixty percent of natural conceptions fail for one reason or another: They don't implant, they fail to develop, they spontaneously miscarry even before the mother has missed a period, etc.

And some unborn babies have such profound damage that even if they get past the implantation and begin to develop, they will spontaneously abort, sometimes in the process killing the mother.

And some mothers have various conditions in which the effects of the pregnancy may kill them before the unborn baby is even viable enough to incubate.

And some mothers will find ways to kill themselves and their unborn baby if forced to carry the pregnancy, no matter what you do. (There is virtually NO way to prevent someone who is determined to do so, from killing themselves.)

And some mothers will find ways to abort their unborn baby even if it means jail or their own execution for the crime.

But those last four contingencies, you'll say, are RARE.

(There is actually room for dispute about the "rarity" in that last case- women who will find ways to abort, no matter what, based on data accumulated during prior periods of history. But for now, we'll stipulate that women can be sufficiently coerced to make such attempts rare.)

We are also stipulating that you don't really want that level of totalitarian, draconian control. You just want women to make the "morally right" choice to carry every pregnancy to term, and want the law to provide some disincentives to keep women from making a "morally wrong" choice to end their pregnancy.

But disincentives are rarely as powerful as incentives. We're looking to assure maximum possible rights for women, minimum possible "murders of unborn babies".

Is it even possible?

Well, actually, it may be.

What would that look like?

First, contraception would be safe, would not interfere with sexual enjoyment, would be no-cost and easily accessible, and would be available equally to men and women. That is, it would almost always be a positive choice, requiring positive action and consent on behalf of both parties, for a conception to even be possible.

While such contraceptive options aren't quite available yet, they are easily within reach of existing medical technology and could almost certainly be brought into reality with a comparatively modest investment.

At that point, almost every intentional conception would be wanted, and the number of abortions would plummet.

There would still be some "terrible regret" pregnancies, perhaps forcibly initiated in criminal circumstances (that would be "RAPE" ), perhaps entered into willingly and then with a change of relationship or financial circumstances, appearing to be unfeasible for various reasons.

If we focused social resources on raising our boys and young men not to be rapists, that would reduce rape-related pregnancies to very near zero.

And by offering complete and unbiased mental health services, ongoing expert counseling, financial and social support, reliable judicial redress, top-quality health care, and generous adoption programs to the few remaining rape victims, it would be easier for the ones who share the socially-demonstrated value for unborn life to act on that value. They would have confidence in the availability of lifelong generous support for their recovery from the trauma of both the rape and the pregnancy.

It won't keep every single rape victim from exercising the option to abort, but it may substantially make a dent in the number who make that choice, and since we've already reduced rape to a rare occurrence, that would make such choices more than rare.

What about those other "regrets"?

Most of those are rooted in a woman's contemplation of the responsibilities of raising a child with the grotesquely inadequate social and financial support available to single mothers in our society. We could tackle that by making high-quality pregnancy and infant parenting support readily accessible at no cost, making quality child care services universally available and accessible, improving the public education system, subsidizing other costs of raising children for women without financial resources, making health care universal, making college tuition free or low-cost, and ensuring the availability of safe, attractive, affordable housing.

Do all that, and you'll get the "regrets" factor down to almost nothing, as well. Add in generous support for adoption options, reduce it further.

So if you're looking for a world where unborn babies are MOST likely to make it out of the womb and the rights of women to autonomy over their bodies are fully respected, try those three things:

1. Universal, safe, free contraception for both genders.

2. Eliminate the patriarchal fostering of rape culture and enabling of rape as a crime.

3. Provide generous and universally-available support for parenting and raising children.


Yes, there will still be some "RARE" issues to address. But once we've saved so many unborn babies, and rejoiced in their lives, we can probably find common ground and positive ways to address those as well, don't you think?

Or is it really just about controlling women's choices and keeping them from having full autonomy and rights over their bodies?

Be honest, now.


I have never listened to a woman's narration of sexual harassment/assault without...

... according her the respect of believing she is narrating the truth of her experience.

On the other hand, I have never been the responsible party conducting a formal investigation of a sexual harassment complaint, without examining every possible circumstance and every possible item of evidence. And doing so from a point of view that assumes no factual conclusion until after the complete collection and review of evidence is accomplished.

There is a real difference between saying "I believe her" or "I believe him" and saying "My belief about the truth of this matter is founded on the examination of a complete array of evidence."

What the impulse to say "I believe her/him" says about your own experience, your biases, and your assumptions will differ greatly from person to person.

Making an assumption about the source of someone else's impulse to say what they say about belief also reveals something about your own experience, biases, etc.

At some point, the signal-to-noise ratio becomes so disproportionate that the only ones who benefit are those who are deliberately attempting to advance a specific agenda.

At that point, justice gets crowdsourced, which serves no one well.


Can anyone tell me why...

The entire Executive Branch of Virginia state government is five-alarm Major Scandal territory and eating news cycle after news cycle because:

The Governor's racist behavior from medical school was highlighted and he responded in an embarrassingly inept way; and

The Lite Goob has been accused of sexual something-or-other by someone and is bitterly denying it and calling for a full investigation to clear himself of the charges and has referred to his accuser in private with opprobrious and arguably sexist epithets; and

The Attorney General called a meeting and released a statement admitting to racist behavior in his past, too.


The entire Executive Branch of the United States government is a reeking sewer of uncountable, well-evidenced and egregious incidents past AND present, demonstrating rampant and unashamed racism, misogyny, corruption, personal greed, contempt for the truth and criminal negligence, and it's, like, ho-hum, so what?

Can anyone tell me that?

'Cause I seriously want to know.


Oh, Those Wacky Schoolboys...

They boof, whatever that is.

They like beer.

They pal around in racist regalia.

But hey, it's all in good fun, right?

They're just schoolboys. Schoolboys do stupid things.

Should doing stupid things when you're a schoolboy come like a bat out of left field and whack you upside the head decades later to totally fuck up your whole life?

I mean, is that fair?

Um.... let's talk.

First, the "we all do stupid shit when we're young and stupid" thing.

A. No, honestly, some of us manage to avoid that level of stupid even when we're young. More on that later.

B. A lot of us manage to confine our youthful impetuosity and poor decision making skills to relatively benign situations.

C. Some of us do pretty stupid things, even criminal things (have a toke, pal!) but the nature of those stupid, even criminal things is NOT related to being encouraged to believe you're somehow better than people with dark skin, or a different religion, or a vagina, and are thus entitled to mock, exploit, or bully those people.

Yeah, well, maybe that's so... but yanno, if we rule out everyone who was once an entitled little prick and maybe even grew up and saw the light and was sorry about it and tried to do better from running for office, we'd disqualify an awful lot of otherwise electable Democrats, right?

Ummm, no.

No, we wouldn't. If by "electable" you mean, "candidates with 1) a melanin deficiency, 2) a penis, and 3) plenty of powerful establishment connections because of their educational and professional networks."

Because, see, those things might spell "electable" to other people who share one or more of those factors, but- and pay close attention, here: That's the exact problem with our system that we are trying to overcome, not perpetuate.

There are lots and lots of potential candidates with high melanin levels, with a vagina, who went to the kind of schools where they aren't "networked" into powerful connections, who have excellent qualifications to serve the public in elected office.

And here's the kicker (told you I'd get back to this) almost all of them knew damn' well they COULDN'T AFFORD to make stupid mistakes they could blame on youthful impetuosity and poor judgment, because they were already struggling against odds to achieve educational and personal goals like escaping poverty, helping their families, and getting the next level of education and/or a good job.

Now, I hear you saying, "so does this disqualify all white males with private school or Ivy League educations from running as Democrats"?

Hardly. There are plenty of good ones who never let their status as entitled schoolboys lure them into the kind of racist, misogynist, idiotic mistakes that tend to smack you upside the head decades later.

And for those who DID make those kinds of mistakes, and who HAVE seen the error of their ways and truly want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem, there are other options: Like making hard choices to sacrifice power and achievement to demonstrate that their change of heart is real and lasting.

Like owning up to a past of stupid mistakes BEFORE running for office, and making that part of their "why"- "I did this, and now I want to change things so other youngsters don't get that boys-will-be-boys enabling."

Like picking a form of public service that doesn't require being a candidate for election themselves: Helping others get elected, becoming an expert on something useful, getting appointed to serve in appointed positions, starting a business or nonprofit dedicated to serving the public good.

So yes, I've had enough of those wacky schoolboys.

I'm done with them.

I'm over them.

And I'm hoping other Democrats are, too.

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