Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

High School Sexual Culture

The trip had begun like most of our church youth group trips had, with me working on the 1970-too old, Dodge Crap-O-Van. Was it a new water pump that time or a bad alternator? I can’t remember. I do remember the crunch of gravel under my feet and the singing of the cicadas from the church parking lot’s only tree, so I know it was in August. I remember praying to God for the strength to get through the whole repair without using sinful language, but I prayed that prayer frequently working on old vans.

I can’t remember what the trip was for, either. Were we going to some Bible college? A Christian rock concert? Or was it the trip to Denver where we spent two weeks doing vacation Bible school puppet shows? It’s been so long since then, but those youth groups trips were incredibly important to me, at the time. My father’s post traumatic stress and my mother’s agoraphobia created a home where friends weren’t very welcome. We lived deep in the cornfields, where dad could shoot paper targets until the fear went away and mom could drink in the sun and trees until the strain of normal life was lifted. I came of age not at school, not hanging out with my friends, but at Bible camp, in Sunday school, and on the sticky vinyl seats of our church’s 15 passenger van.

For whatever reason we’d gone, I will never forget the trip back. We were exhausted, and all of us were fading in and out of sleep. The engine was a continuous roar, drowning out conversation and the tires droned out a hypnotic hum down the interstate. I was in the first passenger seat, in the middle between several thousand dollars of sound equipment on the right, and Darcy Trigg was on my left. I laid my head against the cold, hard fiberglass of the roadie boxes, and closed my eyes.

We hit bump and I awoke, conscious only of scratchiness across my face. I moved my hand up to the scratchiness, and confusingly found something soft and warm. The fog of sleep clearing, I realized that in my sleep I had turned away from the hard case, and turned instead to Darcy. My eyes fluttered open, and I froze. The scratchiness was the collar of Darcy’s sweater, stretching across my face from chin to widows peak. Not only had I turned to her in my sleep, I had laid my head on her chest and slid down. One eye looked down the front of her sweater, but the other was on the inside, her ample breasts and white satin bra, cast a warm pink by the sunlight shinning through her top.

She must be asleep, I thought, and there is no way, that if she wakes up she is going to believe this is an accident. She’s going to to know what a disgusting pervert I am, and no girl will ever talk to me again…I will be “that guy.” I closed my eyes, and very carefully and very slowly moved away, sitting perfectly straight, and not opening my eyes until I was in a position to stare straight ahead. Then, and only then, did I slowly turn my head to Darcy.

Her chin was in her left hand, her elbow on the window sill, watching the cornfields shoot by. She’d been awake the whole time! Clearly she hadn’t pushed me off or woken me because she was mortified with embarrassment. I was so ashamed, and yet I didn’t want Darcy to think that I thought she was ugly. I wanted to say that I thought she was beautiful but at the same time I was terrible sorry for violating her. My mouth was dry and I felt shaky.

“Darcy..” I whispered loud enough for her to hear, but too quiet to carry over the road noise to any other listening ears, and leaned towards her for greater privacy.

“I…I was asleep…I…didn’t…” I stammered.

She turned to me slowly, her eyes big and kind, bashful from underneath her brow, a slight smile upon her lips. She leaned toward me, closing the space between us I’d made by sitting up straight, and laid her hand on my knee.

“I didn’t mind,” she said softly. She searched my eyes, her serenity and kindness pitying my confusion and fear. Squeezing my knee, she sighed contentedly and returned to watching the landscape out the window, giving me a last over-the-shoulder smile.

I sat in total confusion. Darcy was the kindest, most gentle soul I knew at the time. Growing up in a world that divided women into nice girls and sluts, Darcy’s credentials as a nice girl were impeccable. She was quiet, demure, modest, and serious. She knew the Word, and walked the walk…and she told me that I had done nothing wrong and she enjoyed me having my face down her shirt. I realized then that maybe good girls did want to be kissed, held, and touched. Maybe, just maybe, good girls might have sex drive, and maybe a girl could want me, the geeky guy with the thick glasses, because I was OK, and not because she was screwed up.

November 11, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, feminism, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Open marraige contintued,

In my last post, I told a story.  I told the true story of how I came to no longer see open marriage as evil. Included in that story was the fact that ultimately, my wife and I don’t have what most people call open marriage.  I told this in story form, because I thought it would help people identify with what was going on.  It would show them a journey that made a little more sense of how a person who used to be a Christian came to think open marriage could be an option, before he de-converted.  Instead of making it easier for people to understand I seem to have made it harder so let me try again, laying out the principles I wanted to make clear last time.

First off, all marriages are open. There is no magical force imbued in the marriage license that “closes” your marriage.  Every person in every faithful marriage is so for one reason only: their feelings.  Even if a person says “No, no, no! I am faithful out of a sense of duty!,” it is their feelings about duty that make them think duty is a worthy reason to be faithful. If they felt duty was a pointless concept, they wouldn’t believe it was a worthy reason to be faithful.  Being faithful is choice every married person makes every day, based on how they feel about it at the time.  As such, ALL marriages are open because everyday, either partner can sleep with whoever they want, whenever they want,   The fact that most people chose not to says that most people feel that the consequences are greater then the benefits, not that marriage is magically a “closed” relationship.

Second, if any readers are familiar with personal property rights, they will know that what makes private property “private” is not only the right do do what you wish with it, but also the right to exclude others from doing anything with itMarriage is as much about who is excluded and from what as who is included.  This is why marriage is a legal status, and not just a relationship one.  The government is aiding the contract holders (the married people) in enforcing their legal right of exclusion of all others.  Because of the difficulty in pinning down anything else, legal marriage is what defines this right of exclusion primarily on the act of coitus.

The problem is when people carry the legal definition as a relational definition, because sexual monogamy is a road, not a point. The confusion is because sexual intercourse and sexuality are not the same thing.   Most married people have a huge problem with their spouse having sexual intercourse with someone else.  Very few married people have a problem with their spouse speaking to someone else.  However, whats the line between chatting and flirting?  Not a whole lot.  When does flirting (which implies a lack of serious interest) become dirty talk?  And at what point does dirty talk become virtual sex? Where is the line between a friendly squeeze and a grope?  When does a pat (noun, usage 2) become petting? (usage 2)  When does chit-chat become opening your heart?

My point is not that by creating infinitely fine gradients the difference between behaviors is erased.  For instance, there is huge difference between chatting and phone sex, and everybody knows it. My point is that each couple has to determine how far down the road of non-monogamy is “too far” for their individual relationship.  You will find few people to whom fidelity means merely refraining from coitus. (Bill Clinton famously among them.)  This is because despite popular usage the word “fidelity” has no intrinsic connection to sex. Webster’s says fidelity means faithful.  So what does Webster says faithful means? Steadfast in affection or allegiance, firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty.  Even the dictionary confirms, couples work out what faithfulness means in their own relationship.  As long as you adhere to the promises you made to your spouse, and observe the duties that you agreed to, you are being faithful.

There are intimacies of different kinds, including but not limited to emotional and physical. Since marriage is about excluding others as well as about including one, each couple has to work out where that line is crossed and others aren’t being excluded anymore.  I know couples where each person doesn’t have any opposite sex friends because, for them, even a friendly conversation crosses the line of exclusion.  I know couples where each person doesn’t look at pornography or read romances because, for them, that crosses the line of exclusion.  I know couples that don’t sleep with people of the opposite sex until their spouse has met them because, for them, that crosses the line of exclusion.

Stereotypical open marriage means at least one spouse sleeping around with the consent of the other spouse.  My point was not that that is something positive, but that I no longer see it as something implicitly negative .  My claim that it is not bad does not mean that I am saying it is good. I am saying, above all, that fidelity is something every couple gets to work out on their own terms, and no person has a corner on what a “good” marriage is.

So, having realized (1.) Every relationship is open anyway. The legal status of marriage does not change this fundamental reality of relationships.  (2.) Every couple has to work out their own working concept of fidelity together, respecting both voices.  (3.) As such, a loving, healthy, and respectful marriage can include another person.

Understanding that lead to make the MAIN POINT OF THE WHOLE BLOG: “Love fearlessly.”  Don’t let the fear of intimacy, be it of the emotional or physical prevent you from making the choice to fall in love with someone–just keep your spouse aware the whole time of what is going on. You are being faithful as long as you don’t cross the line of exclusion.  When your spouse says “stop” because you hit that line, then stop, and you remain a loving, faithful spouse.  Cross it and you are unfaithful, because when your spouse asked you not to, you did anyway, not because of the nature of the act you were asked not to do.  No person has a right to say where that line is but you and your spouse, so don’t fear crossing anyone’s lines but the one you and your spouse marked out and said “This is ours.”

LOVE FEARLESSLY! That was the point.

Now, a note here on my marriage: The legal status of our marriage is merely a tax shelter; it has no say whatsoever on what makes marriage sacred to us.  Sacredness comes from feelings.  Whether you believe your marriage is sacred because of your feelings about a deity or because of your feelings about yourself and your spouse, either way the sacredness comes from your feelings.  My wife and I consider marriage a partnership, a meeting of equals for mutual gain.  We hold our marriage as sacred.

We decide the “line of exclusion” on a case by case bases after much discussion.  If either partner says “I don’t feel comfortable with X” then X stops. Because to us, the day we desire an act with another person more than the whole hearted approval of our spouse, our marriage dies.  The tax shelter would live on, but the sacred union dies.  To me that is the only moral foundation for our marriage.  When I talk about “open marriage” that is the context I am referring to.

And a note here on open marriage.  Other people can define “sacred marriage” how they wish, but I find the way most people live out open marriage would absolutely not be sacred for me.  In most of the open couples I have meet, the man can have sex with whoever he wants, and the woman (if she is allowed to have sex outside the marriage at all) is only permitted other women.   If I were to live that way, I would be lying to myself and my wife to make such a life appear sacred to me.  I can’t say that is the case for other men.  But again, when I talk about “open marriage” the normal version is not what I describe. I call our relationship open because we don’t rule out or accept behaviors with others based on a preconceived notions, but on a careful study of facts, our emotions, and mutual consideration and meditation.

Will our marriage go toward the ultimate conclusion of openness with either of us actually having coitus with another person (assuming I am not bound by the UCMJ at the time)?  I doubt it in the extreme.  But, the point is, it would be ruled as crossing the line of exclusion by both of us, after long discussion and consideration, and not by one person for the other, and most certainly not by arbitrary social limits drawn by strangers about certain acts regardless of context.

I say again, LOVE FEARLESSLY!  Please, if you didn’t read anything else, or don’t remember anything from this, remember this:

Love everybody.  Fall in love whenever you can.  Sometimes you will run into fences, like being straight and/or married.  Those fences are there for a reason, don’t cross them.   Sometimes you might need to move a fence out a bit, like saying its OK to have emotional intimacy.  Sometimes you will get hurt, or run into consequences and realize you need to move a fence back a bit.   The important thing is not the fences.  The important thing is this: Don’t let the fear of hitting the fence keep you from loving people.

November 7, 2009 Posted by | Christianity, feminism, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Feminism and me

So, I mentioned previously that I am trying learn about feminism.  My wife is taking a minor in woman’s studies for her associates degree because (aside from the fact she is truly interested) it’s a study path that gives her the most credits transferable to her bachelors in political science. So, I’ve been reading her textbook and some of the recommended supplementary reading.

So, here (at my currant level of ignorance) is my opinion of feminism.  First off, I think feminism makes a lot of valid points.  It asks questions that it wouldn’t occur to most people to ask.  For instance, most people are probably aware that women, in general make about 75% of what men make.  Some people are aware that women primarily make less because they work less hours, for fewer years, with more frequent career and work site changes.  Adjusted for this, you would find that women make 93% of what men make.

Feminism, looks to the fewer hours, for fewer years, with more frequent career and work site changes and says, but why? Because we have a two tier job market: One tier for people who have no other imperative responsibilities but servicing the job (most of whom are men), and a second tier for people who might need to change hours, or be absent from time to time (most of whom are women).  Now, lest you think the first tier exists to provide good employment, it doesn’t.  The high wage earning man can be fired at any time.  No, the first tier exists to service the industry, and the second tier exists (with poor wages) to subsidize the industry of  first tier and not the people in it.  Factories can’t keep churning if the (predominately men) on the line have to nip off to pick up sick kids.  Nope, thats the woman’s job.  Women make less because if they don’t take crappy jobs that let them take care of the kids in addition to work, their husbands will get fired.

Bravo feminism! I would have never noticed that on my own.  The perspective of women showed me something I, as a man, would have never thought of.  It turns out that there is a lot more flexibility of hours (and far less hours all together) in Germany and France, and better social protection (ie, getting paid even when you can’t go to work) yet according to the UN and CIA those countries have as-good-or-better a standard of living as the US.  So, a system with less hours, more flex, and more social protection doesn’t even have to hurt.

But then, I randomly run into these perspectives, under the umbrella of feminism, that are just bat-shit insane. Notably, that Marxism could fix everything if it was just given the right chance, that the phrase “blaming the victim” is a magic spell that can be invoked in any context to absolve the victim of any responsibility whatsoever* and that a the media, and not a person’s choice to believe all outlets of the media are a fount of truth is the cause of bad self image.

*I note here, there in some cases the victim has no responsibility; Rape is such a case. Child abuse is such a case.  Poverty is not. Poverty has many causes, some are systemic but some are personal.  The people of the US, and the government they elect has not even scratched the surface of the systemic causes of poverty, but that policy failure does mean that we can ignore the personal issues.

I am glad there are feminists out there, and their probably needs to be more.   I think feminism is imperative to the healthy functioning of democracy. If I had a sum of money to give away, I could give it to some feminist agencies with clear conscience.  I support the goals of the movement.  I support the spirit of the movement.

But if Marxism is the answer, what was the question?

October 18, 2009 Posted by | feminism, Government, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Slice of life, Transportation, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Miley Cyrus is not a pole dancer.

Just a quick, throw away post about current events. (Health Care IV will come soon.)  Ok, I don’t follow celebrity news, if fact I don’t follow celebrities at all.  I’m a big believer in Cintra Wilson’s theory “Celebrity reexamined as a grotesque, crippling disease” .  But I feel a need to weigh in on this one.

Miley Cyrus does not disturb me.  What deeply, deeply disturbs me is what the world has done to her.  She is a goddess of sexless purity.  Parents make her hero to their daughters because she is pure, and clean, and good.  We know that she is pure, and clean, and good because she is unsullied by any sexuality whatsoever.  She has no sexual identity.  Her gender exists completely in following social convention.  She is the plastic, sexless ken doll of the age, to be dressed and positioned however the narrative of her sexless perfection demands.

The problem of course, is that I am describing a fictional character.  This is not the flesh and blood Miley Cyrus, but the highly successful Miley Cyrus brand.  Let me steal from Wikipedia here…

Careful brand management, supported by a cleverly crafted advertising campaign, can be highly successful in convincing consumers to pay remarkably high prices for products which are inherently extremely cheap to make. This concept, known as creating value, essentially consists of manipulating the projected image of the product so that the consumer sees the product as being worth the amount that the advertiser wants him/her to see, rather than a more logical valuation that comprises an aggregate of the cost of raw materials, plus the cost of manufacture, plus the cost of distribution. Modern value-creation branding-and-advertising campaigns are highly successful at inducing consumers to pay, for example, 50 dollars for a T-shirt that cost a mere 50 cents to make, or 5 dollars for a box of breakfast cereal that contains a few cents’ worth of wheat.

Ford doesn’t really have a personality.  Diseny doesn’t have a personality.  These are massive, multinational conglomerates.  But people treat brands like people: they have personalities, values, wishes, etc.  And the key to the $3.5 million per annum Miley Cyrus brand is the perverts’ idealization of childhood: A perpetual thirteen, one foot poised on childhood, one foot poised on sexuality.  Perhaps Britney Spears said it best with the song “I’m not girl, not yet a woman”.  Unfortunately for the Britney Spears brand, a perpetual gum chewing, curl twirling 13 year old did not appeal as much to the brand’s name sake as growing up.  Britney Spears first real controversy?  Her development of full breasts.  She went, as most young women will, from a B cup to a C cup.

The spokes person of the brand shattered the sick fantasies of nation by having hormones.  The response? Unchecked rage, which only grew worse as she committed such horrible sins having sex drive, or having adult relationships.

Back to Miley Cyrus.  Her first controversy was a “topless” photo in Vanity Fair.  The words “child pornography” were thrown around.  Pornography has a fascinating entomology, being Greek for “Writings about whores”.

cusl02w-miley

If this image is pornographic to you, you need to talk to a therapist.  There is nothing sexual about this image at all.  (See comment).  Unless you’re a pervert.  But by doing this photo, she make clear that she had intentions of becoming a woman. That at some point in the future there would a person who was experiencing sexuality instead being totally oblivious to it.   And for that, all the perverts were up in arms.  They wanted her to stand between girl and woman so they could desire her, but tells themselves it was a pure healthy desire.  The image forced them to admit they were sexually attracted to her.  And for causing that revelation, she had to become “bad”.

But the point here is Miley Cyrus’s most recent flub.  SHE WAS POLE DANCING…SEE

miley-cyrus-pole-dancing-teen-choice-awards-03

Words like “pole dancing” “leather clad”,  “provocative” “dressed like a hooker” were bandied about.  Of course, the less popular version of this photo is this…

Miley-Cyrus-pole-dancing-20090810212121

Yeah, see she wasn’t “pole dancing” she was hanging onto a pole on top of a moving cart so she wouldn’t fall off.  It’s called a “stage show”.  Her ability to do that, while lip syncing, dancing, smiling, and not smudging her make-up, is one of the reasons she makes a couple million a year and most of us don’t.

But the public has to do this.  When ever Miley Cyrus the person (who actaully exists and has needs and desires) conflicts with Miley Cyrus the brand (which is pure fabrication to sell shitty merchandise) society at large must lose it’s pathetic little mind.  Because if Miley Cyrus isn’t child anymore, she forces people to admit they are getting old and their attraction to her is a bit perverse.  Thinking she is “dirty”, “slutty”, or “bad” is much easier then admitting they have problem.  Miley Cyrus’s (TM) owners however, make a lot more money if this pathology is encouraged.  Tellingly, the first person called in when she was accused of making child porn was not a lawyer specializing in anti-liable cases, or even a PR rep, but Disney brand consultant.

Oh, and my original thought, before this turned into a multimedia, decently researched post? Just because someone is famous, doesn’t mean they are a role model. In fact, it might  just mean they’re not.

August 29, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, feminism, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Feeding babies = unwed mothers.

Controversial Doll Lets Little Girls Pretend to Breast-Feed

It’s come to this.  This is a doll that simulates breast feeding.  And people are appalled, not because electronic dolls are creepy, but because they think playing feed the baby (without a bottle) would lead little girls to have sex earlier.  Um…uh…Yeah.

Hey stupid people: heads up, I hate you all.

P.S. Yes the doll is incredibly, horribly creepy, but not because breast feeding is creepy. You pervs.

August 6, 2009 Posted by | Christianity, feminism, Politics, Religion, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Male Privilege and me

Privilege.

Hello, I am a white, straight, male. This means I am the privileged member of the Patriarchy.  When I first started reading feminist blogs the whole Patriarchy thing really pissed me off.  It seemed this whole bugaboo with really bogus standards of existence: “Don’t believe in the Patriarchy? It’s because you are the Patriarchy!” I mean, I’m not sure that there isn’t a conspiracy which that couldn’t be applied to.  “Don’t believe in the Reptilians? It’s because you are one!”  “Don’t believe that Elvis is alive and the truth is being suppressed by a conspiracy? That’s because you are part of the conspiracy.”

Several (male) posters made this argument.  A lot of the responses were vindictive, cruel, and not particularly helpful.  With time, though, I heard some good data.  First of all, that the concept of the Patriarchy is the most misunderstood concept in feminist thought.  The Patriarchy as visualized is bunch of old white dudes with mutton chop side burns and full beards.  They’re these semi-immortals that have been locked in a boardroom since 1885.   They’re wearing old suits, sitting in overstuffed leather chairs.  There’s mounted endangered species everywhere from antelope to zebra.  The guy at the head of the table leans back in his chair and pulls a long drag on his huge, expensive cigar.

mutton1

“Boys,” he says with British accent, “we gotta do something about these feminists!”

General “Harrumphs!” ensue.  The men smoke cigars and drink bourbon from crystal glasses as they control and manipulate the whole world, sliding little brass tokens across a sepia world map.

The truth is both simpler and more complicated.   There is no boardroom.  This is not a conspiracy of the grand sort, this is a conspiracy of peers.  Friends take care of friends.  People feel most comfortable with people that look like them, act like them, value what they value.   That’s the basis of a whole lot of ‘isms, racism and sexism most obviously.  It’s not a purposefully conspiracy, it just happens.  Life is series of choices.  When we don’t force ourselves to think about, we make choices that are helpful to people like us.  The people that aren’t like us don’t quite advance as fast as we do.  With time, people think the backwardness of the people who “aren’t like us”, is accepted, a given.  It’s the way it was meant to be.  Then come moral statements.  They’re like that because they are morally inferior.  They don’t advance because lack the moral fiber it takes to succeed.   Because we don’t hold them down on purpose, it seems like the most reasonable explanation for their failure is themselves.

The Patriarchy is the end result of this advancing people just like us.  The tiny, top of the pyramid of exploitation. The reason that most people in charge of the world are white, straight, and male.  I am member of this privileged class.  I get that now, and I accept it.

But it would wrong to feel guilty for it.  I didn’t choose to be born the straight, white, male child of two college educated parents.  That which I did not chose, I will not apologize for.  I didn’t do anything wrong.  Now, if I use this position of privilege that fate granted me to fatten myself at the expense of others less fortunate, then I have done something wrong.  I have become the exploiter.   But on the other hand, I did not make this world.  I am not the person who said a white, straight, male’s opinion was more valuable than other peoples’.    And I will not take my “bully pulpit” and ignore it.  Me not using the position of privilege I have as the person I am to make the world a better place,  would be as wrong as me refusing to walk just because there are people out there who can’t.

I admit it.  Society privileges me.   And I vow to use that for good, and not evil, and never to feel guilty for it.

April 16, 2009 Posted by | feminism, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments