book reviews, sex

Repost of the my review of The Big Butt Book by Dian Hanson…

Here is the last installment of my Dian Hanson book reviews.  She has other books besides the three I’ve reviewed, but I’ve determined that my heart and my stomach can’t take too much more nudity. This was originally written in April 2012 for Epinions.  Enjoy!

Mood music!

Yesterday, I reviewed experienced porn producer Dian Hanson’s book, The Big Book of Breasts 3-D.  In that review, I explained how I managed to find Hanson’s sexy book about breasts.  I was walking through Munich and spotted the non 3-D version in a store window, but didn’t feel like shelling out 40 euros, especially since I couldn’t know if the book would even be in English.  Well, I finally purchased the book in its 3-D version on Amazon.com.  And anyone who has ever bought anything on Amazon knows that suggestive selling is king there.  That’s how I came to purchase Dian Hanson’s 2010 follow-up, The Big Butt Book, along with The Big Book of Pussy.  I may need a couple of Xanax to get through the latter book, so today I will focus on The Big Butt Book.

Sorry to butt in…

Hanson’s breast book originally appeared in 2006.  I’m guessing it was a big success, because now I see that she has a whole line of big, heavy, colorful follow up books dedicated to the sexiest, most fetish-worthy parts of the human body.  The Big Butt Book is a glorious photographical ode to the human posterior.  Thumbing through this luscious volume of female derrieres, I can’t help but realize that I actually like this book better than The Big Book of Breasts, even though it’s not in 3-D.

Hanson presents this subject with the same sense of playful fun as she does her breast book.  However, there are a few differences to note in The Big Butt Book.  First off, there’s more written substance to this book; it’s not just a volume of pictures.  Like The Big Book of Breasts 3-D, this book includes commentary in English, German in French, presented in vertical columns.  Hanson’s writing is suprisingly scholarly and informative, as she explains why behinds are so beguiling for so many people in so many different cultures.

Aside from her own thoughts on butts, Hanson also presents a section on noted porn producer/director John Stagliano, as well as a chapter on Buffie the Body, a sexy black model with a most impressive @$$.  She includes an interview with Robert Crumb, the man who is notable for founding the underground comics movement.  This section is particularly interesting, since it includes some of Crumb’s butt-worthy comics.  There’s also a chapter about “Watermelon Woman” Andressa Soares, a young Brazilian model with a butt of very impressive proportions indeed, and commentary about Coco, another noted butt model.  Tinto Brass, an Italian filmmaker whose later work focuses primarily on the @$$, gets a chapter, as does Eve Howard, a writer with a penchant for spanking.

In living color… sometimes, anyway

Many of the photographs in The Big Book of Butts are presented in black and white, but there are also quite a few in color.  And while there are plenty of vintage models in this book, there are also quite a few younger models from the 80s, 90s, and 00s.  This variety of eras and styles may offer a more broad appeal to readers than the older models presented in the breast book.  While it’s fun to look at photos in 3-D, this book is eye catching and exciting enough not to need 3-D gimmicks, especially given that so many of the pictures are in color.

Mostly tasteful…

I think most of the photos in The Big Butt Book are tastefully done.  Yes, the photos are sexually provocative and revealing, but none appeared to be truly sleazy or vulgar to me.  In fact, many of the models appeared to be having a lot of fun with their photo shoots.  The photos also overwhelmingly focus on the butt, though there are a few that include naked boobs, too.

Sorry ladies… one reason to be bummed out about this book

One thing that is missing from this impressive photographical butt collection is the male perspective.  This book contains page after page of beautiful female butts, but no sexy male butts.  Seems to me a book called The Big Book of Butts ought to give equal time to the other gender for those of us who appreciate them.  Alas, this book is apparently just for straight, horny, men who love sexy women’s behinds.  What a bummer.

Overall

I think The Big Butt Book really kicks @$$!  It’s a fun volume celebrating beautiful behinds.  I would recommend it to anyone who appreciates bountiful butts, as long as they like butts of the feminine persuasion.

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book reviews, sex

Repost of my review of the Big Book of Pussy…

Obviously, this book review is going to be too much for some readers.  I originally reviewed Dian Hanson’s Big Book of Pussy on Epinions.com and I wanted to preserve the review before it gets lost forever.  I originally had it on my sex blog, but I’m in the process of dismantling that.  So here’s my reposted Epinions review from 2012, for better or worse…   Enjoy!

Pussy is a curious thing, All pink and covered with hair,
Looks like the mouth of a Methodist preacher, And stinks like the @$$ of a bear. 

Page 10 of The Big Book of P*ssy

Leave it to Amazon.com’s suggestive selling efforts to get me to purchase Dian Hanson’sBig Book of P*ssy (2011).  Not long ago, I decided I wanted to order Hanson’s book The Big Book of Breasts in 3-D.  Amazon.com, in all its salesmanship wisdom, presented me with the option to puchase two other Hanson titles, including The Big Butt Book and The Big Book of P*ssy.  I went for it, figuring I would probably enjoy the butt book and might learn something from the pvssy book.  So for the past few days, I’ve been reading and perusing a trifecta of photographical tributes to the female form.  Hanson also has two other books that I know of, one celebrating legs and the other celebrating penises… in 3-D, of course!

To be completely honest, of the three Hanson books I now own, I was the most nervous about looking at The Big Book of Pussy, even though I am a mature woman who happens to own one.  Frankly, until I forced myself to look at Hanson’s book, I didn’t find the vagina that mystical.  It was just a hairy part of my body that occasionally got stinky and sometimes gave me great pleasure.  However, I can’t deny that my “lady parts” give my husband great pleasure… I can see it in his eyes.  😉  So it makes sense that I might get better acquainted with my “muff”… and maybe even celebrate it.

The Big Book of P*ssy… a visual feast or a hell of a shock…

I opened the book and was immediately confronted with rows of women’s faces interspersed with pictures of labias.  Once I got past the initial shock of seeing those private parts, I looked closer and noticed that no two were alike, suggesting that just like snowflakes, women’s vaginas are highly individual.  Being a heterosexual woman, I have to admit that I had never considered such a concept, though it’s only natural.     

I continued reading and, once again, was drawn in by Hanson’s refreshingly frank commentary on vaginas.  She touches on art history, writing about how the vagina has been depicted in art across the ages.  From Paleolithic cave paintings in Europe to cave paintings in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the vagina has often been recreated and admired by artists.  Hanson even describes The Cave of Vulvas, found within the Tito Bustillo cave in Spanish Asturias.  I can only imagine the travel review I could write about that place!

Aside from art, the vagina has also been celebrated in other ways.  For example, Hanson found a well-produced German Web site selling a line of scents called Vulva.  It comes in several different varieties.  And yes, Hanson did order a small vial for the princely sum of 24.90 euros ($34).  She describes the scent as smelling like perfume, musk, and urine.  I bet she could hardly wait to dab it behind her ears!

She also writes of an interesting sideline job for broke college students.  Back in the 1980s, she helped write form letters to horny guys looking for female companionship.  The letters came with a pair of “dirty panties”, complete with a musky aroma.  Lucky recipients might even find secretions or skid marks on their pair.  Hanson explains how those panties were actually created and the creative ways the college ladies came up with to make each pair look authentic.

We’ve got bush!

Hanson’s big book also educated me on the history of feminine hygiene.  A black and white photo of a woman with hairy thighs and an equally hairy bush is captioned as having been taken in 1940.  Hanson explains that most American women have been shaving their armpits since around 1925.  They didn’t start shaving their legs until around 1945; therefore, hairy legs on a woman in a picture can offer a clue as to when the shot was taken.  Hanson explains that it wasn’t common for women to groom their “bushes” until the 1980s.

Trilingual

Like the other two Hanson books I own, The Big Book of P*ssy is translated into English, German, and French.  The translations are presented in three vertical columns, making it quick going through the pages of this book.

The photos

The Big Book of P*ssy consists of lots of photos in black and white and color, from 1900 until 2011.  Some of the photos are tasteful.  And some– I won’t lie– are rather disgusting.  Some of the photos are funny and some show women in impossibly athletic poses.  Some of the pictures feature incredibly hairy “honey pots”, and some sport hairless slits.  Almost all of the models appear to be sexually mature, though I did see one or two that made me stop and wonder.  It wasn’t her vagina that made me question; it was her face.  She looked like a wide-eyed doll.  Casting my eyes south, I eventually determined there was no way she wasn’t full grown.

The models who appear in this book are all model types.  You won’t see any really heavy women or women who aren’t somewhat attractive.  However, Hanson does include a wide array of different ethnicities, as well as some clever artistic adaptations of lady bits.  Are you ready for a photo of an Asian woman who appears to have a sideways vagina?  How about a picture of a vagina that appears to double as a man’s beard, complete with a face drawn on the model’s flat stomach?

Just want to read the articles?

I’m happy to report that this book is not just about pictures of vaginas.  Hanson has included several articles from models, including one from a woman who calls herself “Mouse”.  Mouse is famous for being a “vaginal performance artist” who makes art with her pussy.  In one provocative photo, she is shown with what appears to be dynamite sticking out of her nether regions.  In another, there’s a Barbie doll that appears to be experiencing a second birth.  A newsy article accompanies these “interesting” shots. 

There’s also an article about Steve Shubin, the “Faux Vagina King”,  Shubin is an ex-cop from the Los Angeles area whose wife is an ex-professional tennis player.  His wife got pregnant with twins.  The doctor, noting Shubin’s wife’s advanced age (40), advised the couple to avoid sex for the duration of the pregnancy.  Shubin was crushed. Knowing that the prospect of avoiding sex for that long would tempt him, he designed his own faux vagina.  He got the patent for it in 1995.  I’m reminded of that old saying… “necessity is the mother of invention”! 

Other articles include one about “Flower Tucci”, champion female squirter, and Buck Angel, the man with a pvssy.  Buck is physically, psychologically, and legally a man, but he also has a fully functioning vagina.  Yes, he was born with it.

I was skeptical, but now I’m kinda sold…

Yes, The Big Book of P*ssy is about a taboo topic.  I was a little squeamish about reading this book, mainly because I don’t find vaginas that interesting to look at…  Or, at least I didn’t think I did until I picked up this heavy duty coffee table book (and I dare you to display it on your coffee table!).  To be honest, if this was just mainly a book of photos like Hanson’s Big Book of Breasts is, I probably wouldn’t like it.  As it is, there’s only so long I can look at these vaginas without feeling distinctly uncomfortable.  But Hanson spices it up with some very interesting and educational commentary that touches on a wide variety of subjects.  I appreciated the interesting articles, too, though I was interested in some more than others.  I probably could have done without reading about “Mouse”.

Overall

I don’t think this book is quite as accessible as Hanson’s other books are, mainly because the pussy is such a private part of the body.  Also, I would advise prospective readers to keep an open mind as well as a steady stomach.  Some of the photos in this book are pretty vulgar and gasp inspiring.  Not all photos are suitable for the squeamish.  Still, I would by lying if I didn’t enjoy parts of The Big Book of P*ssy and gain a little more appreciation for my own female parts.  I recommend it with four stars.

ETA: I would NOT pay $1499 for this book.

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book reviews, sex

Repost: A review of The Big Book of Breasts in 3D by Dian Hanson

Believe it or not, this is a fun book… and I am reposting this review, because it was a fun book to read. Also, I discovered it when we lived in Germany the first time. Great if you like boobs!  I left my copy in the States, though, because it took up too much of our 5000 pound moving allowance. The review appears here as it was written in 2012.

Good mood music for this topic.

Picture it.  It’s June 2009 and I’m in Munich, Germany with a bunch of American tourists who had come up from Garmisch-Partenkirchen for the day.  We pass a bookstore.  I cast my eyes to the right and spot an intriguing looking book in the window.  There’s a picture of a lovely woman’s torso in a lacy black strapless bra.  On the cover, it says The Big Book of Breasts by Dian Hanson.  Even though I am a heterosexual woman with an impressive set of breasts of my own, I was halfway tempted to buy that book.  But the price was 40 euros and I didn’t feel like paying that much.

Fast forward a few years.  I’m on Amazon.com and suddenly remember that book I saw in Germany.  I search for it and easily find it, along with several other “body part” books.  Only this time, I see that aside from the normal Big Book of Breasts I spotted in Germany, there’s also The Big Book of Breasts 3-D!  And the book comes with its very own set of 3-D glasses!  Curiosity gets the better of me and I buy it.

An eye-popping cover

The Big Book of Breasts 3-D made an immediate impression on me when I removed it from the Amazon box.  The book was shrinkwrapped and the front cover has a grooved plastic layer that makes the brassiered torso look like it’s in 3-D.  Opening the cover, I see a vintage looking picture that looks like lots of people from the early 60s wearing 3-D glasses.  When I turn to the back cover, I find a pair of cardboard and plastic 3-D glasses neatly tucked into a plastic sleeve.  Is it strange that this coffee table book is all about milk producing glands?

Gives new meaning to the term “pop art”… 

On page 7, the very minimal text of the introduction begins, written in English, German, and French.  The three languages are presented in narrow columns.  Photographer Dian Hansen explains the origins of the word breast and the history of 3-D technology.  Then she marries the two topics, explaining that the first topless photo was produced in 1839.  The breasts were French and not particularly large, but they cleared the way for more daring photos.  Hanson writes that nude stereo views soon followed the naked French breasts.  The models were mostly Parisian prostitutes and many French men were familiar with the nudes, though they kept them hidden from their families, since such photos were considered pornography.

Bare breasts began appearing in American magazines back in 1925.  Most of the photos were billed as artistic photo instruction manuals.  Of course, once they began appearing, the nude photos began to appear with openly sexual titles.  The nudie pictures prospered until 1933, when Prohibition failed.  Once people began drinking legally again, the citizens’ decency leagues started focusing their efforts on suppressing the nude shots, pressing for censorship of the sexy photos.

Surprisingly scholarly…

Though this book is chock full of campy vintage photos of topless women in sexy poses, Dian Hanson’s introduction is surprisingly interesting and educational.  However, I sincerely doubt most people who would purchase this big heavy book are after Hanson’s intellectual discussion of how nude photography came about.  Nevertheless, as a heterosexual woman with a modicum of artistic curiosity, I thought Hanson’s introduction was very informative and interesting.  Dian Hanson was the editor of JUGGS magazine in the 1980s, so she has an intimate view of how this genre of photography evolved.  In the 80s, it was unsusual to see a woman with enhanced breasts.  Nowadays, of course, it’s a career necessity for a boob model. 

Hanson’s introduction runs a full seventeen pages.  After that, it’s titty city!  From page 25 until the end of the book, it’s nothing but large black and white photos of topless vintage model after model, posing in various sexy positions.  The opposite pages have only the model’s name in large, appreciative print.

Really?  In 3-D?

Yes, these photos are all in 3-D.  Looking at them with the naked eye, you will see subtle red and blue outlines that are not too intrusive.  Slip on the cheap 3-D glasses, and you’ll get an eyeful.  Though not every 3-D photo is equally successful, there’s plenty of reason to bother with the 3-D glasses, if only because they make the models look like they’re popping off the pages.

Is this book “dirty”?

While I’d definitely describe The Big Book of Breasts 3-D as sexy, I wouldn’t call it dirty or pornographic.  Many of the women are photographed in a tasteful, coquettish, flirty, or even an innocent way.  There are only a few shots that looked vulgar to me.  And though there are a few shots of other female private parts, most of the women in this book are only showing their breasts.  Admittedly, many of the breasts are very large, but they are mostly quite beautiful and natural.

Do I feel threatened?

I am a married woman, but I don’t care if my husband looks at this book of boobs.  I know he loves my boobs best!  Besides, the models in this book are vintage ladies from the 1950s-70s.  They are not threatening to me.

Would I recommend The Big Book of Breasts 3-D

I would.  I do wish Dian Hanson had written more instead of just relying on the eye-popping photos.  I thought her introduction outlining the history of nude photos and 3-D was very interesting and would appeal to those who want to learn something rather than just ogle the sexy women.  And as a heterosexual woman, I don’t get that much out of looking at boobs, especially really big ones.  I am glad I didn’t pay 40 euros for this book, but I do think it’s entertaining to look at.  I will warn that it’s a large, heavy book… not unlike my boobs!
Overall

I give The Big Book of Breasts 3-D four stars and my recommendation.

ETA: I see that the version I own is now out of print and offered for big bucks. There is a “little” version of this book going for a lot less money. Personally, I like the big book with its 3D schtick. Wish I’d brought it to Germany!

More mood music!

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book reviews, divorce, Ex

Repost: My review of Say Goodbye To Crazy by Paul Elam and Dr. Tara J. Palmatier

This is a repost of a book review I wrote in 2015, about 18 months or so before Bill reconciled with his younger daughter. At the time, I was hanging out on Shrink4Men.com, run by Dr. Tara Palmatier. I have less of a need to hang out on that site now, since Bill has reconnected with his daughter. I still think this is a good book, though, so I’m sharing this as/is review for those who might find it useful.

In November of this year, I will have been married to my husband, Bill, for thirteen years.  We have had a great marriage for the most part, except for dealing with his former wife and the two kids he had with her.  Those adult children are extremely alienated and haven’t spoken to Bill since 2004– with the exception of letters they supposedly wrote in 2006, formally disowning him.  One might think that Bill is an utter failure at being a parent, but I know the truth about what happened and I know that had he not chosen to have kids with a crazy woman, he would have been a much beloved and highly successful father.  In fact, he was much beloved by his kids until he got divorced and married me.

Before anyone asks– no, I am not the cause of Bill’s first marriage breaking up.  I did not meet Bill in person until 2001, almost a whole year after he and his ex wife legally split.  I did meet him online prior to that, but Bill’s marriage was already in a death spiral by that time.  Moreover, we were strictly platonic until the divorce was final (and really until we actually met in person).  Ex, on the other hand, had a boyfriend and was quick to move him into the house Bill was paying for right after they separated.  Boyfriend is now Ex’s third husband.  She has five children with three different men, and after each of her divorces, the resulting children ended up alienated from their fathers.

It’s been a few years since Ex last directly harassed us, though every once in awhile she rears her ugly head and does something to remind us that she’s lurking.  Overall, things have gotten much better for us, though.  It’s sad that Bill lost contact with his kids and former stepson, but letting go of them ultimately proved to be the best thing he could do for his sanity, his wallet, and our marriage.  Even though Ex mostly leaves us alone now, I am still fascinated by people with high conflict personalities. 

A few years ago, I found Dr. Tara Palmatier’s excellent Web site, Shrink4Men.com.  Dr. T’s blog is written for men who are involved with abusive women and the non abusive people who love them.  While many might scoff at the idea of an abused man, I know for a fact that there are a lot of guys out there who have suffered abuse at the hands of a woman.  I think Dr. T’s Web site is an important resource that serves an underserved group of people.  There are plenty of places for abused women to get relationship help if they need it.  Men, by contrast, often have to go it alone.

This year, Dr. T and noted men’s rights activist Paul Elam teamed up to write a book called Say Goodbye To Crazy: How to Get Rid of His Crazy Ex and Restore Sanity to Your Life.  This book, which was released on Mother’s Day, is primarily written for women like me, married or in a relationship with a man whose ex is toxic and abusive.  Why?  My guess is that it’s because women are more likely to read self help books than men are.  Look at all the heavy hitting books out there that have been popular like Women Who Love Too Much and Men are From Mars; Women are From Venus.  These are books directed to women about relationships with abusive men.  They were hugely successful with their easily quoted titles.  Even though both of those books been around for decades, people still remember their titles.  I think Elam and Dr. T were smart to recognize who their audience really is.   

Though Say Goodbye To Crazy is a great book for men trying to reclaim their lives after being involved with a destructive, “crazy” woman, the authors write as if it’s the man’s new wife or girlfriend reading, rather than the abused man himself.  They refer to the destructive ex wife or girlfriend as “Crazy”, as if that’s her name.  Using a conversational, empathetic tone, the authors explain what and who “crazy” is and describe some of the destructive antics women with high conflict personalities will stoop to in order to get their way and wreak havoc on other peoples’ lives. 

Reading about things “crazy” does was like reading Bill’s life story for the ten years he was involved with her and the few years immediately following their divorce, as she struggled to keep him bending to her will.  As I read, I often found myself nodding in agreement, both in terms of our experiences dealing with Bill’s ex wife and the things we did that finally got her to leave us alone.  It is unfortunate that in Bill’s case, saying goodbye to crazy meant also saying goodbye to his kids.  On the other hand, not having contact with the kids and not letting Ex use them as weapons means that we also have no contact with Ex.  And that has meant peace, harmony, sanity, and prosperity.

Say Goodbye To Crazy helps men choose appropriate and effective attorneys and therapists.  For instance, the authors explain what kinds of questions to ask therapists and attorneys before hiring them.  They point out ways to spot biased and/or ignorant therapists and lawyers before wasting time and money.  They also explain the differences between counselors and their training.  Indeed, they even take a shot at social work, the profession I was trained to enter before I became an Army wife.

Dr. T and Elam explain that social workers tend to be female centric and biased toward feminism.  As someone who has a master’s degree in social work, I have to agree with them.  While there are social workers out there who are open minded about gender, the profession is female dominated and people within the social work profession generally deal with women’s issues.  There was a time when this strong emphasis on feminism was needed.  Unfortunately, I think in some situations it’s gone too far in the other direction and some men are being treated unfairly by social workers due to their gender. 

Please don’t get me wrong.  It’s not that I don’t think women need champions or that women aren’t victimized by men; it’s more that if you are a male who is dealing with an abusive woman, you don’t need someone telling you to be more empathetic and tolerant toward her crazy behavior.  You need someone to be YOUR champion and help you escape the abuse.  If you can find a competent social worker who can do that for you, by all means, take the help.  Just remember who the patient/client is.   

Elam and Dr. T also write about the concept of “parallel parenting” and why it’s so important when you are trying to raise a child with a high conflict parent.  They offer advice on how to find mental health and legal professionals who will support the idea of parallel parenting to minimize the post divorce craziness in your life.

Dr. T and Paul Elam write about the many ways “crazy” will try to manipulate and control people– anyone who is within her sphere of influence.  I can speak from experience that Ex tried very hard to get me under control, even to the point of inviting Bill and me to Bill’s father’s house for Christmas one year.  She expected me to go along with her wishes in the interest of “making nice” and showing the kids that we’re all a big happy family.  She did not ask me if I wanted to go.  She did not speak to me about it at all.  Instead, she told Bill this was how we’d all be spending our holidays and just expected that I would acquiesce.  She thought I would be desperate to try to win over the kids and the in-laws.  I understood that the kids had no interest in seeing me and the in-laws just wanted to hang out with the grandkids, so that made it easy to say “no” to her crazy and ridiculous demands.

I stayed home while Bill visited his kids at his dad’s house.  He booked a hotel while Ex and her current husband stayed with Bill’s family.  Ex ended up looking like a gigantic asshole as Bill sat alone at the Christmas table with a hotel reservation and a rented car.  Bill’s dad and stepmother initially blamed me for not coming and tried to get Bill to stay with relatives.  He declined, since he’d already paid for everything and he wanted his family to understand that his ex is an asshole… and by allowing this spectacle, they aided and abetted her asshole behavior.   

Of course, what Ex was really trying to do was force me to bend to her will and get me on turf where I’d feel forced to tolerate her abuse.  To achieve that end, she used her own children like human shields.  I suspect she figured I would not want to risk upsetting or alienating them or my husband’s father and stepmother, but she made a serious miscalculation in her assessment of me.  I understood that I could never take her place as the mother to her kids and wouldn’t want to try.  I have my own family and I don’t even tolerate much manipulative bullshit from them anymore.  Why would I take it from my husband’s former wife?

In the short term, I got a lot of crap from Bill’s dad and stepmother for not going with Bill and standing by him while also enduring Ex’s toxic bullshit.  However, in the long run, not going was the best and smartest thing I could do.  Crazy, high conflict people are masters at finding peoples’ hot buttons.  Had I exposed myself to Bill’s ex wife, she would have gotten information about what makes me tick.  She would have then used that information to drive a wedge between Bill and me and others in his family.  At the very least, that holiday would have been completely ruined and, God forbid, had it gone well, Ex would have a reason to make it an annual event. 

You may think I’m being dramatic.  I’m not.  I am deadly serious about this.  High conflict people, males and females, live to cause drama and love to destroy friendships, romantic relationships, and family ties.  Bill’s ex wife successfully alienated him from his two daughters.  But that wasn’t enough.  She also tried to turn his own parents against him.  She told them bald faced lies about the kind of person he is, twisting situations and things that were said to make it look like their beloved son is a monster who hates women.  She went on a campaign to turn his extended relatives and friends against him.  And she did all of this despite the fact that he really is a decent guy who bent over backwards for her and their kids. 

I am aware that there are a lot of men who walk away from their parental responsibilities.  Bill is not one of those guys.  He paid a lot of child support for his two daughters and Ex’s son from her first marriage (whom Bill never adopted).  He frequently tried to set up visitations and phone calls.  Ex successfully did everything in her power to thwart his attempts to stay in his kids’ lives until they finally sent him hateful letters disowning him just in time for his birthday.  Ex also sent adoption papers, which she invited Bill to sign so that her current victim could legally become “daddy”.  Bill didn’t sign, though the temptation was certainly there.

While I have pretty much written off Bill’s kids, Bill has not.  He still loves them and would see them if they asked to meet.  I, on the other hand, don’t care if we never see them again.  As far as I’m concerned, they’ve revealed to us who they really are.  They claim we don’t deserve to know them?  I submit that the opposite is true.  I would never tolerate that behavior from people I don’t know.  As far as I’m concerned, Bill’s kids are strangers, not family members.  I have only met them once and I am not their mother.  In fact, I barely qualify as a stepmother.  And I am not the one who made them strangers to us; that was their mother’s and their own decision.  Understandably, Bill has different feelings about his daughters.  If and when they eventually contact him, he will handle the situation as he sees fit and I will do my best to stay out of it.

I realize that not all men who have been married to crazy women have situations as extreme as ours has been.  For those guys (and their girlfriends or wives), Say Goodbye to Crazy is an excellent guide.  For me, it was just more affirmation that as “crazy” as Bill’s ex has always seemed, there are many more people like her, male and female.  In fact, many people have it much worse than we ever did.  We are not alone.  If you have the misfortune of being in a relationship with a high conflict person, you are not alone, either. 

I highly recommend Say Goodbye To Crazy. Dr. T also has a YouTube channel that might be helpful.    

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book reviews, religion

Double repost: Two reviews of books written by wing nut James Dobson…

I originally reposted these two book reviews on books by James Dobson on May 4, 2014. They were both written for Epinions.com in 2006 and 2007 respectively. I am reposting them again, as/is. Bear in mind that these reviews were written for a review site, rather than a personal blog. I probably would have been much snarkier on my own space. I also didn’t have the gift of wisdom that comes from years of living. I used to get a kick out of buying books from Fort Belvoir’s thrift shop… stuff I would never buy on my own!

Note from 2014

I’m inspired by another blogger to repost these book reviews I wrote of books written by James Dobson.  I actually had some fun reading and reviewing these books several years ago and don’t want to lose them to the Internets… so here they are. 

Written in the 1980s, this book promotes values of the 1950s…

And I’m not sure how I feel about that. Truth be told, I’ve never been much of a fan of Dr. James Dobson’s very conservative viewpoint when it comes to counseling married couples and children. Nevertheless, I was curious when I spotted his 1983 book Love Must Be Tough: New Hope For Families In Crisis at Fort Belvoir’s Thrift Shop. My husband Bill and I are not in a crisis, but I am his second wife. The reason I’m his second wife is because he and his first wife got a divorce. At this point, we’re nowhere near having marital troubles, but it’s not lost on me that second marriages fail more often than first marriages do. My husband sadly knows about that firsthand, since he was his first wife’s second husband. The book was priced at $1 and it’s still on the market today, over twenty years after it first appeared in bookstores. I figured I’d read Dr. Dobson’s sage words of advice for couples in trouble.

It doesn’t surprise me that I was taken aback from the very first pages of Love Must Be Tough. Dr. Dobson starts his book with an introduction. In the introduction, Dobson presents a scenario that would outrage most married people. A jerk of a man tells his wife that he’s been having an affair with another woman for the past eighteen months. He wants a divorce. He apologizes, telling his wife that he never meant to hurt her, but he’s in love with the other woman and wants to marry her. He asks his wife to “make it easy on him and the kids”. Then he says everyone will be better off when the whole thing is taken care of once and for all.

My immediate reaction to that scenario was disgust and offense on behalf of the wife. I read the scenario aloud to my husband and told him that if he ever approached me in such a way, I’d knock his block off. Then I gave him a hug, because I know my husband will never approach me that way because he loves me. He also respects me; likewise, I respect him. According to Dr. Dobson, mutual respect is very important in a marriage; in fact, it’s every bit as important as love is. Then Dobson explains why mutual respect is so important to maintaining a successful marriage. I agree with James Dobson on that point. No one can be happy as another person’s doormat. Likewise, it’s hard to love and appreciate someone you don’t respect.

Dobson goes on to outline disastrous scenarios in which a spouse doesn’t show respect… or on the other hand, scenarios in which a spouse who is not getting respect engages in nagging, pleading, or sniveling behavior in a desperate bid to save the relationship. I like the fact that Dobson didn’t aim his book just at women. In fact, I thought it was refreshing that even back in 1983, this psychologist recognized that women are not the only victims of disrespectful spouses. I also think Dobson made sense when he advised spouses who were feeling desperate and clingy to take a step back and give the other spouse a chance to breathe.

What I didn’t like as much was Dobson’s extremely conservative viewpoint concerning homosexuality and divorce. I knew from reading his newspaper column and his work with Focus on the Family that James Dobson is a very well known proponent of Biblical values. Love Must Be Tough is liberally sprinkled with Bible verses. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But then, toward the end of the book, Dobson rants about the evils of homosexual behavior. He includes a letter in his book from a woman whose marriage is on the rocks because her husband is gay. She writes in her letter to Dobson that homosexuals are very self-centered people. When they have sex, it’s only to please themselves. Dobson commiserates with the woman’s sentiments and takes the opportunity to bash homosexual behavior. Of course, he quotes the Bible… and then much to my amazement, he advises the woman NOT to divorce her husband. He insists that homosexuality can be cured and gays and lesbians can go on to enjoy fulfilling lives as heterosexuals if only they’d seek treatment.

I know that some people agree with Dr. Dobson and his stance on homosexuality. I’m not one of those people. I found his anti-gay sentiments offensive. I was especially offended by the graphic section he included (along with a warning disclaimer) describing homosexual behavior in a gay bath. I have no doubt that some of the more lurid sexual acts he describes do go on in some places in the world, but I doubt it’s the norm. Even if it is the norm, as long as it goes on between consenting adults and I don’t have to watch it, I don’t think it’s my business. A couple of times in Love Must Be Tough, Dobson goes on to insinuate that AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections are God’s way of punishing those who commit sins of a sexual nature. I can’t help but wonder how Dobson explains children who are born infected with HIV. Moreover, he describes homosexuals as if they are vermin. I caught an undertone of disgust as Dobson acknowledged that gay people are everywhere in society, working in hospitals, drilling teeth, and gasp– teaching children. I have to say that Dobson comes across as pretty ignorant at times.

Remember, though, this book was written in the 1980s. Dobson uses a few song lyrics from popular songs of the 1970s and early 80s that will no doubt remind readers that this book was written in the 1980s. You know the book is old when the author quotes the song “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield and claims that it’s a recent release! For those who don’t know, “Jessie’s Girl” was a big hit in 1981!

As I read this book, I couldn’t help but think that some of Dobson’s insight was good. I wasn’t around when my husband was married to his ex wife, but he did tell me some of the things that went on in their marriage. I know that my husband’s views about what went wrong in their marriage are bound to be distorted from the truth, as are his ex wife’s. It’s rare that people can be objective when they talk about things that have gone on, especially when they’ve gone wrong, in life. Furthermore, no one is ever totally innocent when relationships fail because no one is perfect. Nevertheless, as I read Love Must Be Tough, I could see my husband’s situation. I’m not sure who played what role in the demise of my husband’s first marriage, but a lot of Dobson’s anecdotes were very familiar to me because they sounded a lot like my husband’s stories about his time with his ex wife.

But Dobson believes that people ought to stay married, especially for the sake of the kids. He offers very few reasons why people might not stay together. On the surface, I’m inclined to agree with him. Divorce is an ugly business; I hope it never happens to me. It’s been bad enough dealing with the aftermath of my husband’s divorce from his ex wife. On the other hand, I think that divorce is sometimes very necessary. Sometimes, it’s not worthwhile to try to save the relationship, even if kids are involved.

Dobson mostly focuses on the evils of infidelity, but he also delves a bit into alcoholism and domestic violence. I wish he’d devoted a little more attention to these two areas. I also wish he’d acknowledged that men can be victims of domestic violence, too. I know that some will say that women are more often the victims, so the focus should be on them. I will agree that statistically speaking, it does look like women are more often beaten up by their spouses than men are. But I also think that most people don’t consider that men tend to be very reluctant to get help in a domestic violence situation. I’m sure it happens a lot more often than we’d like to think. It would have been very enlightened if Dobson had figured that out and included it in his book instead of just focusing on female victims.

I was expecting to read a lot of Christian rhetoric and Biblical doctrine when I picked up Dr. Dobson’s book. I’m not surprised that he’s against homosexuality. But I was not prepared to read what amounts to blatant bigotry. Dr. Dobson is not a theologian, but he does a lot of judging in his book. A couple of times, he even writes that sinners, whether they be adulterers, drunkards, or homosexuals, will have a hard time when they meet their maker on the day of accountability. Many Christians will agree with Dr. Dobson. Suffice it to say that those who don’t believe in conservative Christian viewpoints probably won’t like this book much.

I don’t necessarily disagree with a lot of what Dr. Dobson writes in Love Must Be Tough. On the other hand, there’s a lot in this book with which I do have serious disagreements. And because it’s so dated, I’m inclined to believe that there are better books out there for couples in trouble.

Focus on the Family’s Web site: www.family.org

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And…

James Dobson thinks your kids are going to Hell…

I must be a glutton for punishment. Last week, while I was searching Fort Belvoir’s thrift shop for cheap shelves for our new home, I found myself in the book section. My eyes landed on the 1990 book, Children at Risk: Battling for the Hearts and Minds of Our Children by Focus on The Family’s Dr. James Dobson and his friend, Gary Bauer. Having already read and reviewed a book by James Dobson, I already knew what to expect from him. I had a feeling Children at Risk would outrage me. I was right. But shoot, the book was priced at just $1.75 and I figured that was a cheap way to get my adrenaline flowing.

The premise behind Children at Risk is that today’s youth is at a serious risk of heading down the tragic path of immorality thanks to what Dobson considers overly liberal laws, too much freedom of speech and religion, homosexuality, pornography, and abortion. Dobson contributes the first few chapters of this book, which mostly consists of his own ranting about the aforementioned subjects. Then, he introduces attorney Gary Bauer, who was once Ronald Reagan’s Domestic Policy Advisor and the Senior Vice President of Focus on the Family. Bauer contributes his own slightly less rabid ranting about the path our country is supposedly taking toward Godlessness. The two authors continually accuse the U.S. government of being taken over by heartless secular humanists.

I have to say, having read Dobson’s earlier book, Love Must Be Tough, I used to think Dobson was a bit overly conservative but capable of some rational thinking. After reading Children at Risk, I don’t think I feel that way anymore. What changed my mind about Dobson is the following sensationalist passage, which appears on page 28.

… I should mention one more monument to the humanist movement that came straight out of hell. A father dying of kidney failure artificially inseminated his 16 year old daughter with the help of her physician. Seven months into her pregnancy, the child was taken from her uterus by cesarean section its kidneys were removed sugically and transplanted into the father (grandfather). The infant was then left to die of uremic poisoning.

Yes, you read that passage right. I read it aloud to my husband when I suspected that it was BS. My husband concurred with my assessment. Dobson presents this anecdote as if it’s a fact. I don’t know… maybe it did actually happen somewhere. But Dobson does not offer any sources that would allow readers to find out the actual details of the account. Dobson is credited as having spent 14 years as an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Southern California’s medical school and a 17 year veteran on the Attending Staff of the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles in the Divisions of Child Development and Medical Genetics. Perhaps in his medical capacity, he did have occasion to witness or hear about such a case. But he doesn’t reference the case so that readers can verify the veracity of his account.

I suspect that in today’s litigious society no doctor in his or her right mind would ever consent to taking part in such a scheme. Even if a doctor did willingly participate, I doubt the outcome would be the way Dobson describes it. I’m no doctor, but as I understand it, there’s a lot to organ donation. I can’t believe that a seven month old fetus would be a viable candidate for organ donation to a full grown man. And again, I just can’t believe that any doctor, let alone the large number of doctors and other medical professionals required to carry out both an organ donation procedure and an artificial insemination procedure would touch that case with a ten foot pole. That leads me to believe that Dobson’s anecdote as it’s written in Children at Risk is complete and utter hogwash.

But enough about the seemingly half baked portions of this book. Dobson and Bauer go on and on about the evils of homosexuality and the way it’s causing people to change the way the public defines family. Dobson and Bauer are convinced that families are ONLY mommies, daddies, and their children. There is absolutely no room for any other configuration. And what’s more, women have no place in the work force if they have children. According to Dobson and Bauer, mommies belong at home, raising their young. Personally, I agree that it would be nice if parents could spend more time at home raising their kids instead of putting them in childcare. I even agree with Dobson’s and Bauer’s assessment that our society unfairly judges people who choose to stay home to raise their kids or maintain their homes instead of having a career. But I don’t believe that mommies are the only ones capable of being good parents. I don’t believe that daddies always have to be the breadwinners in their families. I also don’t believe that all homosexuals are bad people simply because of their sexual preferences, nor do I think that they can will themselves to be straight. I don’t know what it’s like to be gay, but I also don’t think that most people choose to be gay just because they want to be sinful. Above all, I don’t think that simply being gay makes someone an unfit parent or undeserving of family or marriage.

Dobson and Bauer are also very unapologetic about their objections to abortion. But personally, I don’t think that abortion is always a bad thing even though I doubt I would choose it as an option for myself. I’m glad that for the time being, it’s still a safe, legal option for women in this country. According to this book, Dobson and Bauer believe that a lot of doctors don’t want abortion to go away. Why? Because abortion is supposedly a “money maker” for them. But again, this assertion doesn’t ring true to me. First of all, I don’t think that many doctors are performing abortions. A lot of them have personal objections to the procedure and I suspect that many of them fear for their own safety. After all, abortion clinics have been bombed and doctors have even been killed by pro-lifers intent on saving fetuses, no matter that when they bomb clinics, they endanger the lives of people who are already born, women who are considering having abortions, and those unborn fetuses that they are trying so hard to save. Yes, I understand that many people think of abortion as murder and I give credit to Dobson and Bauer for not suggesting that readers bomb abortion clinics (they want them to picket them instead). But the whole disgusting notion that doctors who perform abortions are “simply in it for the money” is repugnant to me. And once again, the authors also do not provide any kind of real proof of this notion that abortion providers are just looking to make money, which they present as a fact.

I guess therein lies my problem with Children at Risk. I’m probably not one of the people Dobson and Bauer were trying to reach. I’ve already made up my mind about most of the issues they are ranting about and their approach does nothing to sway my opinion the other way, even though I can see their points about some of their concerns. For example, I agree that too many kids are having sex too young. I agree that in some situations, our society is too politically correct and lacks common sense. I agree that sometimes the government exerts too much power when it comes to letting people choose how they want to raise their children. But Dobson and Bauer want us to go back to the way things were in the 1950s. Throughout this book, these two authors continually harp on how much more family oriented we were back in “the day”. They conveniently ignore the fact that the 1950s were far from a perfect time period. They present cultural awareness and racial equality is if they’re bad things. And it seems Dobson and Bauer believe that any religion that doesn’t follow the Judeo-Christian ideal is not right and should be excised from American culture. They offer ideas to their readers on how they can counter society’s negative influences on their children.

Dobson and Bauer write this book in a way that conveys sorrow and disdain toward American culture. And I agree, that some of their concern has merit. Too many of today’s children do have too much access to harmful media influences and not enough supervision from their parents. Too many children today are growing up having to deal with difficult situations including divorce, abuse, and suicide. But I find the authors’ tactics for reaching their readers to be offensive and insulting to their intelligence. The passage I quoted above was an immediate turn off for me and made it hard for me to consider their ideas in the rest of this book… some of which were not that unreasonable.

What’s more, I don’t think the situation today– or even back in 1990 when this book was published– is as bad as Dobson and Bauer seem to think it is. For example, these two authors seem to think that every teenager is having rampant sex, getting high, and dropping out of school. But I can assure them that while there are a lot of kids doing those naughty things, not all of them are. I sure wasn’t back in 1990 and I definitely had the opportunity. And even those who are doing those things as teenagers don’t necessarily grow up to do them as adults, nor do they always find their lives ruined forever just because they experimented when they were kids.

I don’t think I can recommend this book to anyone, even those whom I think might like its message.Children at Risk was published a long time ago, so it’s a bit dated. Some of the information Dobson and Bauer present is highly suspect and the authors don’t always cite their sources of information. They ask their readers to believe what they write simply because they are presenting themselves as authorities. But they didn’t convince me that they were worthy of being called authorities. And again, I think their shrill tone undermines their message to the point that it becomes unbelievable and downright offensive. I don’t know how available this book is nowadays, but I will advise most of my readers not to go looking for it unless they want to be outraged too.

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