homosexuality, lessons learned, music, religion

Musical object lessons…

This morning, as I was waking up and checking out Facebook, I saw that someone in the Duggar Family News group had shared a few screenshots of Jill Rodrigues and her family singing a song called “Come On Down to the Farm”. I had never heard of the song before, but the author of the post commented that it’s a song about how animals procreate, used as an object lesson as to why gay marriage and homosexuality, in general, ought to be forbidden. I was kind of struck by the photos of Jill and her brood. They were clearly happy, mouths agape as they played and sang the song with much gusto. Here are a few screenshots:

Since they seemed to be so enthusiastic about singing this number, I decided to look it up on YouTube. Below are the lyrics:

Charming lyrics, huh? I guess, based on this musical object lesson, marriage is ONLY about making babies.

If you’d rather hear a slightly more professional version of the musical object lesson, check out this video with Rick Wingerter performing it.

It’s a catchy tune. I warn you…

Music can be a very powerful and effective teacher. It can be a lot easier to listen to a lesson delivered in a well-crafted and played song, especially if there’s fun involved. I’m not sure if the Rodrigues kids enjoyed playing this number, although they seem to have been well-trained to follow their mom’s lead. One thing I did notice as Jill was playing is that she sort of casts her eyes sideways at her daughter playing the fiddle. It could be because of the lighting or camera angle, but to me, she actually looks like she’s shooting her a warning glare. And then, at about the 5:30 mark in the video, the smallest girl kicks the family dog, who no doubt was in pain listening to the very enthusiastic, high volume squawking. I think the Rodrigues family is marginally better at playing instruments than singing.

As for the “musical object lesson” they’re teaching, I have a couple of observations. Now, I’ve actually spent a lot of time in barns and on farms. I’ve seen all kinds of interesting sexual behavior involving animals. I’ve seen geldings mount mares, even though they’ve been castrated and shouldn’t be interested in sex. I’ve seen male and female dogs humping each other or dogs that are the same sex as they are, mainly to establish dominance, even if they don’t have sex parts. And since animals lack a concept of marriage, and a lot of them are going to eventually be slaughtered and eaten, anyway, I’m not sure I would take object lessons from observing them on a farm. In any case, I don’t think I would take a lesson from farm animals about human sexuality. Animals aren’t capable of the same level of thinking that humans are… or, at least most humans. I’m kind of having my doubts about Jill Rodrigues.

I wonder what she thinks about people who are infertile? Should they not get married because they aren’t capable of making babies? Is marriage really only about having and raising children? And if people can’t have children, do they serve a purpose, in her view? She’s probably never thought about it… but then, she doesn’t seem to respect that not everyone believes in God, or even just her interpretation of God. In her simple world view, everyone on Earth should be following the Bible according to white Christians from the United States. Forget about any other religious books or traditions. Forget about other cultures and mores. We should just believe in the Christianity Jill and her ilk do. Seems very boring and limited to me. No thanks.

Lately, I’ve noticed I’ve been getting a lot of hits on my posts about Jill’s daughter, Nurie. Nurie, you may recall, is Jill’s eldest daughter. She is married to Nathan Keller, who is Anna Keller Duggar’s brother. That means Josh Duggar is Nurie’s brother-in-law. I remember that Jill Rodrigues was very excited that Nurie was marrying a Keller, and it seemed to be because that meant her family would have a link with the Duggars. I wonder how she feels about that now. I think Jill should sing a song about the evils of child pornography. That would be a more effective musical object lesson than a song about how “wrong” she thinks gay marriage and liberal views are. Moreover, as “unnatural” as Jill thinks homosexuality is, I would submit that viewing child pornography is even more so. Why isn’t she singing a song about her daughter’s brother-in-law’s perversions? If she did that, then I might be more impressed.

Nurie, by the way, is currently pregnant, and is due in the fall sometime. Her unborn baby is going to be a cousin to the Josh Duggar clan. I know this because Jill posted a video about it, probably a few minutes after Nurie conceived. And while I don’t follow her myself, Jill Rodrigues gets a lot of traffic in the Duggar Family News group. That’s really the only reason I know anything about her or her family.

Anyway… I think Jill is wrong about homosexuality and homosexuals. Having read so many tragic stories on the Recovery from Mormonism messageboard about people who have been affected by homosexuals trying to live like heterosexuals, I can’t agree that people should simply pair up with someone of the opposite sex if they aren’t attracted. For most people, marriage is difficult, particularly if there are children involved. I know there are a lot of people who have been taught by their religious customs that they must live a “straight” life, even if they aren’t straight. So they suppress those natural feelings they have, marry someone who doesn’t share their sexual orientation, and proceed to have a marriage that isn’t as loving as it could be.

Some people do marry for practical and business reasons, and I have no issue with that as long as both parties are aware and agree. But I also know that sometimes homosexuals marry heterosexuals because they’re afraid of offending God; they want a family; or they can’t face disappointing their families and the fallout that can come from that. They go through the motions of the marriage. Maybe they’ll be strong enough not to cheat, but they’ll never be truly satisfied. And the spouse might be wondering the whole time what he or she did “wrong”, when the spouse just isn’t that into them.

Some time ago, I wrote a post about Lois Smart. Lois Smart, you might know, is Elizabeth Smart’s mother. She has six children with her ex husband, Ed Smart, who was very visible on television when Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her home at age 14. On the surface, they looked like a picture perfect family. But all along, Ed was hiding a secret. He’s gay. And in the Mormon faith, a woman needs to be sealed to a temple worthy man to take her “through the veil” and into the Celestial Kingdom after they’re both dead. Imagine how Lois felt when she found out her husband of many years, the father of her children, was gay and hiding that secret for so many years. As a believing Mormon, Lois is now left without a “temple worthy” husband.

While I personally don’t agree with Mormonism or its tenets, I can see how this revelation would be hard for Lois Smart. Because she presumably married her husband thinking they would be together forever. Now that Ed has come out, that dream may be dead. Now, Lois Smart could presumably remarry. She might find a temple worthy LDS man who will marry her and with her connections, I have no doubt she could get a temple divorce without too much issue. Lois Smart is probably considered Mormon royalty of sorts. But her situation is just one of many facing religious people who don’t believe that people should be with those who interest and attract them.

I think it’s time that religious people evolved. Life is difficult enough as it is. People who are capable of consenting should be allowed to choose the right partner for themselves… or they should be free to choose NO partner, if that’s what makes them happy. Jill Rodrigues and her ilk should focus on their own lives and do away with the musical object lessons that do more harm than good… not to mention hurt the ears of anyone with an appreciation for music. One tip I would pass on to her is that singing and playing louder doesn’t equate to singing and playing better.

Moving on to the next musical object lesson.

This next bit is going to be shorter and a lot vaguer, mainly because I can’t get into specifics at this point in time. But this subject does kind of have to do with musical object lessons and getting meaning from songs. It’s particularly relevant in this situation, because object lessons in the forms of music and/or children’s literature are favorite props used by the people I vaguely allude to in this cryptic passage. Bear with me.

Over breakfast this morning, Bill and I were talking about a major decision he recently made that could possibly rock some worlds. At some point in the following weeks, things could get somewhat dramatic. On the other hand, it’s also possible that they won’t. We’re now at the stage at which we’re watching, waiting, and speculating about what could be coming in the very near future. It’s kind of like dropping a lit match in a forest. What happens next? Will the match quickly burn out and do no harm? Or will there be a raging and destructive forest fire? Time will tell. Either way, changes have already begun.

As we were talking, the song “Wrapped Around Your Finger” by The Police popped into my head. Here’s a video and the lyrics:

This song is brilliant… it’s loaded with symbolism and subtle, yet eloquent messages.

Lyrics:

You consider me the young apprentice
Caught between the Scylla and Charibdes
Hypnotized by you if I should linger
Staring at the ring around your finger

I have only come here seeking knowledge
Things they would not teach me of in college
I can see the destiny you sold turned into a shining band of gold

I’ll be wrapped around your finger
I’ll be wrapped around your finger

Mephistopheles is not your name
I know what you’re up to just the same
I will listen hard to your tuition
You will see it come to its fruition

I’ll be wrapped around your finger
I’ll be wrapped around your finger

Devil and the deep blue sea behind me
Vanish in the air you’ll never find me
I will turn your face to alabaster
When you’ll find your servant is your master

You’ll be wrapped around my finger
You’ll be wrapped around my finger
You’ll be wrapped around my finger

As Bill was talking about this big decision he made and his subsequent action, I was suddenly reminded of the bridge of “Wrapped Around Your Finger”:

Devil and the deep blue sea behind me
Vanish in the air you’ll never find me
I will turn your face to alabaster
When you’ll find your servant is your master

The decision that Bill made a few days ago is a very long time in coming. There was a time when he really wanted to take action, but felt he couldn’t. He was restrained by doubts, fears, and worrying about potential consequences. Even today, he’s a little worried about the chain of events he’d set into motion and the possible fallout. But then I reminded him that the things that held him back in the past no longer apply. He’s not very accessible anymore… he’s not as vulnerable as he used to be… and pretty soon, someone is likely going to find out that their former servant(s) are now about to “own” them.

Even if that lit match in the forest burns out with no apparent consequences, I know that the reality is, things have forever changed. The roles have switched. The dynamics are different. I picture a face turning to alabaster– pale and frozen– when the realization hits them that they have seen their “tuition come to fruition”, as Sting puts it. Or… perhaps in less elegant terms…

Someone is about to get served. Whether or not it will be “on”, remains to be seen.

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condescending twatbags, healthcare, sex, slut shamers

This just in! “Unintended pregnancies” are caused by having sex!

Okay… now that I’ve had a walk and all of my other chores for the day are done, I’ve just thought of something else to write about… and that is, “unintended pregnancies”. This morning, I learned that they’re caused by having sex! Who knew?

I recently read about how scientists are concerned because not enough people have gotten pregnant during the pandemic, that will eventually cause a shortfall in people to care for the elderly. I blogged about that revelation, which came from information in an article with the headline “Experts sound the alarm on declining birth rates among younger generations: ‘It’s a crisis’.

This morning, I read another alarming headline “The pandemic has caused as many as 1.4 million unintended pregnancies. Here’s how that impacts women’s lives.” I was confused, since I have seen several headlines lamenting the baby bust. The lamenting over the baby bust also confused me, since I’ve been hearing for years about how overpopulated the world is. And the fact that people weren’t getting pregnant over the past year means fewer abortions, right? But apparently, there hasn’t been a baby bust after all…

I started reading the article and discovered that it was about women in developing countries. In places like East Africa, South Asia, and Latin America, plenty of people were getting pregnant. They had lost access to birth control, thanks to widespread closures of facilities that weren’t needed for treating COVID-19. According to the article, a lot of women were unable to get birth control even before the pandemic. After it struck, things got markedly worse, and the women were faced with a potentially terrible choice– have a potentially unsafe abortion (obviously depending on the location) and worry about the stigma attached to that, or be forced into a potentially unsuitable marriage.

Well, none of this is news to me. I used to work in maternal and child health as well as healthcare policy. My older sister is also in public health and spent years traveling to developing countries to research and promote contraception. But, as is my habit, I decided to read the comments anyway. Lots of people who didn’t read were chiming in, as usual. And one man came up with this illuminating comment:

The pandemic caused pregnancies? I know science is distorted these days, but I still believe sex caused those pregnancies.

Another man came up with this one…

And here I thought pregnancy was a side effect of having sex…

When someone asked why he thought this was an amusing subject, he said…

“where did I say it was amusing? Its a fact that pregnancy is a result of sex, don’t want to be pregnant and can’t get access to birth control? Don’t have sex, pretty simple.”

I suppose it is simple, as long as men respect a woman’s right to say no to sex. But, as we all know, some men don’t respect that right. That is especially true in developing countries, where women are thought of as second class citizens and/or property. A couple of other guys chimed in about how women shouldn’t be having sex if they don’t want to be pregnant. When someone else brought up the issue of consent, or lack thereof, a guy asked “So all these women were raped?”

To that question, a woman replied, “only men can be having this stupid conversation. And maybe you should educate yourselves a little bit: even using birth control a woman can get pregnant.

Then, Mr. Brilliant added, “If you get pregnant using a condom you should name that baby Houdini.

Maybe… except this article was about women in developing countries, who may or may not have access to condoms or partners willing to use them. And then, someone else suggested butt sex, which does not result in pregnancy. But it does result in a pain in the ass. Not everyone is that chocolate, either. I know I’m about as vanilla as they come… maybe with a little fruity ripple and a few nuts.

Jesus Christ!

And then someone made a comment about Republicans and manages to add in a blurb about face masks. I agree with her comment about Republicans, but it has no place on this article, which has nothing to do with the Republican Party. It’s about the worldwide shortage of condoms and access to contraception. I WISH PEOPLE WOULD READ BEFORE LEAVING THEIR DUMB COMMENTS.

Wow… for once, I’m with the guys.

And it went even further, with talk of dildoes…

Midgets? WTF?

Well… it’s true that sex causes pregnancy, at least most of the time– barring any medical procedures, that is. But being in a pandemic, with reduced access to contraception and medical care, more women are getting pregnant without meaning to get pregnant. Before I studied social work, I used to refer to the unintended pregnancies that resulted in unprotected sex as “unwanted”. But I was corrected by a field instructor and told I should use the term “unintended”. I’m sure that has a better ring to it, especially in a state like South Carolina, where legislators are continually trying to control women’s uteri. We don’t like to think of pregnancy and the resulting births, which many people consider to be a blessing, as “unwanted”. Many religious folks consider children gifts from God, and they proclaim that God will provide. Except when God doesn’t provide and the women need help.

As we can see from reading this article, unintended pregnancies happen all over the world, and they can and do have a devastating effect on the lives of the people who aren’t prepared for them. And while the headline for this article could have been better considered and more accurate, the fact is, a lot of women are pregnant and didn’t want to be because of conditions caused by the pandemic. That’s the main idea of the article. I got the point; did you?

I’ll end with a poem…

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condescending twatbags, mental health, modern problems, musings, sex

Transaction denied!

This morning, as I enjoyed coffee and a chocolate cream cheese muffin with Bill, I read today’s Dear Abby. The first letter was this:

DEAR ABBY: Two months ago, I met a lady I will call Amber. We were instantly attracted to each other. The first date went well, and we reached first base (kissing). On the second date, we reached second base (fondling). On the third date, which was also going well, after I finished paying the check for dinner, I asked her if she wanted to continue where we had left off. Amber said no. I was fine with it.

Later that night, when we spoke over the phone, I pointed out, nicely, that she did not even say thank you for dinner, and Amber got offended. I decided to end things after that phone call. I felt she was being disrespectful of my feelings by not listening to what I was saying.

Fast-forward: Her birthday is in two weeks, and I don’t know if I should bury the hatchet by dropping her a Happy Birthday text that day because I really did overall like her. — BRAND-NEW IN NEW JERSEY

Dear Abby, to her credit, very diplomatically set the letter writer straight. She wrote:

DEAR BRAND-NEW: Amber may have become offended when, after she declined to proceed with further intimacy, you told her she “hadn’t even” thanked you for the dinner. When I read that line, for a moment I wondered if you equated the two and had expected that after buying her dinner you were guaranteed sexual favors in return. The two of you have a significant communication deficit. Contact her again only if you are willing to acknowledge that fact and hope she is willing to work on it with you.

As I read this piece, I was reminded of a post I wrote on the original Overeducated Housewife blog. Actually, I wrote a few articles on this subject– about the idea that if a man takes a woman out for dinner, she owes him sex. Or she owes him ANYTHING, except perhaps money if the date is a “Dutch treat”.

In April 2018, I wrote about a woman named Amanda Burnett, who went out with a guy. He paid for dinner, but Amanda never texted him back afterwards. A few weeks later, Amanda got a letter from this guy, along with an invoice for about $40, because she didn’t respond to his request for another date. In true 21st century fashion, Amanda posted the “bill” online. It proved to be a controversial move. Many people felt Amanda’s date was rude to send her a bill. Others felt that Amanda was the asshole for “ghosting” the guy. Dating is not cheap, and the least she could do is thank him for taking her out and treating her. Except he didn’t really treat her, since he expected her to pay him back for the dinner.

Generally speaking, I agree that ghosting someone is a shitty thing to do. It’s disrespectful, rude, and hurtful to just disappear without a trace. However, Amanda may have had good reasons for ghosting the guy. Maybe he gave her the creeps. Maybe he was too intense for her. Perhaps she detected a bent in him toward being controlling and petty. She may have even been concerned about her safety. I would submit that any guy who is dickish enough to send someone a bill weeks after a date is probably not someone most people would want to spend time with long term. On the other hand, I also understand that money doesn’t grow on trees, and whether or not they want to admit it, a lot of guys do expect something in return for investing in dinner.

What prompts me to write about today’s Dear Abby is, that as I read the letter, it seemed pretty obvious to me why “Amber” got offended by the guy’s chastisement for not saying “thank you”. He clearly was hoping for sex after their date. After all, on their previous two dates, Amber had allowed him to get to “first and second base” (is this guy still in the 70s?). It probably seemed to be a given that Amber would let him get to “third base” on their third date. When she demurred, he thought she owed him gratitude for taking her out to eat. While it would have been good manners for Amber to say “thank you”, there are any number of reasons why it slipped her mind. For him to basically insinuate that Amber is rude for A, not fucking him, and B, not saying “thanks for dinner”, I get the sense that this guy has a very transactional view on relationships. I do something for you. You do something for me. If you disagree, we’re done.

But now he admits that he likes Amber, even though she didn’t want to put out and didn’t say “thank you” for dinner. And he wants to know if he should wish her a “Happy Birthday” via text. Abby wisely told him not to contact her unless he understands why Amber got offended by his chastisement and is willing to acknowledge it. My guess is that he won’t want to do that.

Any man who sends a woman a bill for not agreeing to more dates or, any man who is rude enough to criticize a woman’s manners after he buys her dinner and she doesn’t put out, is likely a major asshole. It’s also likely that Amber and Amanda behaved as they did because these guys offered major clues during their dates that they’re assholes who strongly believe that paying for dinner means they get access to the woman’s company and, eventually, her body.

A $40 dinner is not a fair exchange for a woman’s health or well-being. Sex is a big step for a lot of women. Bill and I did not have sex with each other until two weeks after our wedding. Now… it’s not that I was against having sex before marriage. I would have had sex with Bill if he had wanted to have sex with me. But it turns out we are compatible when it comes to that. When we first met, Bill was a Mormon, and Mormons don’t officially agree with premarital sex. Granted, he quit practicing Mormonism while we were dating, but I was a virgin and he had only been with his ex wife. And we both wanted to wait for marriage. Then, on my wedding day, I had the same problem Ginny from Sixteen Candles had…

Yep. I got my monthly bill on my wedding day. It also rained. Isn’t it ironic?

Fortunately, I didn’t take a muscle relaxant or tranquilizer before I walked down the aisle. In fact, Aunt Flow even had the decency to wait until after the reception. I don’t regret waiting, and I’m grateful that Bill was willing to wait. He was concerned about my comfort and didn’t see our relationship as transactional. He has never acted like he has the right to free access to my body. Eighteen years later, we’re still in love. We probably would be in love anyway, even if we’d had sex before marriage. But I can honestly say Bill is the best lover I’ve ever had. I never had to experience worrying about pregnancy or STIs. I don’t have any bad memories of sex with some jerk who used me, or had the idea that after a certain number of dates, I needed to either fuck him or end the relationship. Waiting until marriage was the right decision for me. Bill loves me for who I am, and not just how I can make him feel when his dick is inside of me.

In any case, I don’t think either Amanda or Amber have anything to be ashamed about. Granted, it’s rude to ghost someone, as Amanda did, but if she was really a gold digging hussy, she would have kept stringing the guy along. He should have been glad she only cost him $40, if he’s that concerned about money.

And Amber might have been shocked that “BRAND-NEW” had requested sex and put her in the position of saying no thank you. I can tell you that I would have been pretty upset if I was on a third date with someone and they expected sex that early. Some women are fine with having sex that early in a relationship, but a lot of us aren’t. It sounds like the guy was rather forward in his request. When he later “nicely” reminded Amber that she hadn’t thanked him for dinner, he was sending a big clue as to what kind of a man he is. And when she got irritated with him for calling her out, then he decided not to call her again, he sent another clue. For all he knows, Amber has a history of sexual abuse or another issue that makes her less sexually adventurous. I’ll bet by the third date, they hadn’t ever talked about that. Which, to me, is the more amazing thing, especially for those of us who grew up in the era of HIV/AIDS. I would certainly want to know my partner’s basic history before I opened myself up to him sexually.

In my April 2018 post about this subject, I wrote:

A lot of guys seem to think that if they pay for dinner, they are entitled to sex or company or whatever else.  The fact is, a $40 dinner is not a fair trade for someone’s health or well-being.  No one owes another person access to their body.  If one party wants more than good times on the town and the other person doesn’t, then it’s probably best to just find another partner.  Paying for a date entitles you to absolutely nothing more than a person’s company, for as long as he or she wants to offer it.  Moreover, I’d love to see that guy actually collect his bill.  I don’t think it’s gonna happen.

I have never “ghosted” anyone, but it has happened to me before.  I was in college when I had a “date” with a guy who didn’t spend a dime on me and got disgusted when I wouldn’t put out, hours after I met him.  After that, he wouldn’t even speak to me.  In retrospect, it was really no big loss.  But no… I’ve never ghosted anyone and generally speaking, wouldn’t… unless I had a very good reason.  

I wouldn’t mind singing this song about ghosting, though…

In that same post, I continued with a story about a guy I used to know who has probably been ghosted a few times and scared the fuck out of me…

Back in the fall of 1999, right after I began graduate school, I ran into a guy I used to know from ACOA (adult children of alcoholics) meetings.  He and his ex girlfriend had a baby and he wanted to know if I wanted to see the little girl.  Although I had plans for later in the evening, I agreed.  Stupidly, I rode in his truck with him.  After we visited his adorable little girl, we got back in his truck and he proceeded to drive to the Colonial Parkway, which is, if you’re familiar with the Tidewater area of Virginia, a well-known pretty drive that has also been the site of several notorious unsolved murders.  

I told the guy that I had plans to meet a friend– and I did.  I was meeting a male friend from college for dinner.  The truck driving creep wanted me to “blow off” my friend because, apparently, he found me alluring that evening and wanted to “hold me”.  I had to insist that he take me back to my car because my friend would be waiting, and I told him he would call the police.  My friend probably wouldn’t have called the police, but the dude driving the truck didn’t know that.  

The whole way back to my car, my body was numb with fear as he lectured me about how wrong it is that I “let other people dictate what I do” (and apparently not realizing that he was trying to dictate to me how I should spend my evening).  We got back to my car.  I heaved a sigh of relief and got out of his truck, about to crap my pants because all of my fight or flight impulses were firing off at full steam.  Yes, had that been a date, I absolutely would have ghosted him.  In fact, some months after that incident, I ran into that guy again.  He acted like nothing had happened while I fought to control the nauseating sense of fear I had, seeing him again.  I feel sorry for his ex girlfriend, who presumably had to share their daughter with him.  She’s a grown woman now.  I wonder how she feels about her creepy dad.

Amanda might have had a good reason for “ghosting” the guy who billed her. Maybe he gave her the creeps. However, I think it’s more likely that he wasn’t scary. If he was, she wouldn’t have posted his bill on the Internet. She probably just found him boring and stingy. Ghosting him was rude, but since he sent her a bill, my guess is that she probably found him offensive on the actual date. Amber’s date sounds like he might have been too pushy. Any guy who refers to steps in intimacy in baseball terms, especially in 2021, is probably a jackass. I don’t think I would have wanted to fuck him. Of course, he probably wouldn’t have wanted to fuck me, either. 😉

So… I do understand why some men think women are rude for ghosting them, not thanking them, or not having sex with them. But I also think that women should always remember that there’s “no obligation to buy”. A $40 dinner is not a fair trade for one’s health or well-being. And we have to protect ourselves from diseases, pregnancy, and the mental anguish from being intimate with assholes, literally and figuratively. Decent men, who were brought up properly, understand this. Frankly, I think that if all you want is sex, you should simply hire a professional and pay her for the experience. That way, you don’t have to shell out for dinner and there won’t be any crying jags. Unless, of course, you pay extra.

Today’s featured photo is a screenshot of Andrew McCarthy and Anna Maria Horsford, who played a black prostitute named Naomi in the film St. Elmo’s Fire. When Andrew’s character, Kevin, asks Naomi why she never tries to sell her wares to him, she says, “I thought you were gay.” Then she goes on to explain why a prostitute is a better deal for a man who just wants sex.

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book reviews

Repost of my review of Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality

And finally, another review I originally wrote for Epinions.com. I wasn’t a fan of this book, but sex sells, so here are my thoughts. This review was written July 5, 2011.

I’m always up for a good book on social sciences, especially if it’s also about sex.  That’s why I sat up and took notice when fellow Epinionator telynor wrote a review of Gail Dines’ 2010 book Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality.  I have to admit that I find the subject of porn interesting.  I was exposed to it at a very young age, thanks to a creepy neighbor who used to show me his stash of mens’ magazines.  I also had parents who didn’t pay much attention to what I was watching on television, so I saw many films that were not intended for young eyes.  Though my childhood exposure to adult films and magazines probably made me more precocious about sex than I should have been, astonishingly enough, I came into my marriage with very little actual experience.  Maybe I was one of the lucky ones.

According to Gail Dines, my experiences seeing pornography as a youngster is no longer all that uncommon.  Apparently, many American boys have seen porn for the first time, on average, by age 11.5.  The parents of today have to contend with things that my parents never had to worry about, thanks to the Internet and cable and satellite systems that include hundreds of television channels.  Some parents are taking extreme measures to protect their kids from what they deem “inappropriate” images.  Not long ago, I ran across a posting on a public messageboard for moms written by an anguished woman who had decided to ban Amazon.com from her home.  Her reason?  The store sells underwear and has pictures of models wearing them.  Of course, plenty of other parents seem to be much more ambivalent about these so-called “porn images”.  According to Gail Dines, that’s a problem.  She claims that porn culture is very sneakily creeping into pop culture and desensitizing people against grotesque, violent, sexual imagery.

In her well-written book, Pornland, Dines explains the history of porn, starting with Hugh Hefner’s relatively innocent Playboy magazine of the 1950s.  Playboy eventually got competition from its somewhat raunchier competitor, Penthouse.  And then, along came Larry Flynt’s still sleazier Hustler magazine.  Dines notes that as these three magazines became more popular and earned more money for publishers, the pornography industry really took off, leading to video and DVD sales.  Mainstream publishers and advertisers realized that sex sells, so now it’s everywhere.

Dines argues that the widespread commercialism of porn is making Americans less sexually liberated.  According to Dines, the “hard-core, violent, sexist, and racist” images that Americans are regularly exposed to, is a public health problem that requires attention.

Besides being a public health issue, Dines points out that porn is also a religious and political issue.  Mitt Romney is a well-known Mormon who attempted to run for president in 2008 and is now bidding for President Barack Obama’s job in 2012.  The LDS church is famously anti-porn, so many voters would expect Romney to be anti-porn in alliance with his religious beliefs.  However, Mitt Romney served on a board for Marriott hotels from 1992 until 2001.  Marriott hotels, like most other major hotel chains, are major players in the porn industry, making on demand pornography available to hotel guests and picking up millions of dollars in revenue.  According to Dines, the LDS church pressured Mitt Romney to put a stop to selling porn at Marriotts, but the powers that be at the hotel chain refused to cave.  Consequently, Marriotts still sell porn.  Interestingly enough, Marriott was founded by J. Willard Marriott, who was a prominent Mormon.  Mitt Romney eventually tried to distance himself from the Marriott hotel chain, but when he lost his bid for the Presidency in 2008, he quietly rejoined Marriott’s board.

Dines also writes about pseudo-child pornography (PCP), which is porn that depicts women who are legal adults, but appear childlike.  Dines worries that the violence depicted in porn can lead to more sexual assaults and molestation, by feeding inappropriate fantasies and leading to crimes against women and children.

My thoughts  

Gail Dines is a feminist and an academic.  She writes well and I learned a lot from reading her book, which I felt was well-researched and included some compelling arguments against porn.  That being said, I don’t agree with some of Dines’ arguments.  It’s true that some people can get into trouble with pornography, but people can get in trouble with just about everything.  What’s more, what constitutes porn is subjective.  To one person, an Amazon.com underwear ad is porn.  To another, porn is a very specific genre with images much more graphic than underwear.  To some people, porn is offensive and gross.  To others, it’s exciting and fun.  Who gets to determine what porn is and whether or not it’s exciting or offensive?

Dines is also very graphic in some of her descriptions of porn.  Some readers might be turned off by some of her lurid accounts of the pornography she encountered while researching this book.  Readers who might be offended by frank descriptions of sex acts and raw language might want to steer clear of Dines’ book.

Overall  

I’m not sure Dines managed to convince me that porn is hijacking sexuality in America.  In fact, I think there are a lot of people out there, particularly women, who use the concept of “porn addiction” as an excuse to demonize, control, and shame men.  A lot of people, women included, enjoy viewing porn.  That doesn’t necessarily make them sick, violent, or criminals.

I can’t say I really “enjoyed” reading Dines’ book about pornography, but I can say I learned new things from it.  I want to thank telynor for alerting me to this book by writing her fine review.

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book reviews

Repost: My review of Sex Disasters

I wrote this review of the excellent and funny book, Sex Disasters, for Epinions.com in September 2003. I am reposting it because it’s a great book and marks the beginning of my career as a book reviewer on Epinions.

I also reposted this on my old blog… and this was what I had to say about it in March 2014…

Back in 2002, I bought a hilarious book called Sex Disasters.  While I can’t say that I have ever experienced any of the situations outlined in the book, I can say it’s a hilarious read.  And I enjoyed writing this book review back in 2003.  I’m reposting it here for posterity. 

I shared this book with my older sister, Becky.  We had a big bonding moment over it.  I count discovering this book as one of the happier times in 2002.

Warning- This review contains frank sexual content. If this kind of stuff offends you, please skip this review!

Last summer, while wandering around the Border’s in Fredericksburg, Virginia, I happened to gaze upon a paperback book with a picture of a pair of sock and shoe adorned male legs wearing a pair of gathered pants dropped around them. Intrigued, I moved closer to see what the title of a book with such interesting cover art might be. Aha! Charles Moser’s, Ph.D. and Janet W. Hardy’s Sex Disasters and How to Survive Them (2002) was the object of my interest. This had to be good, I thought to myself, as I opened the book and immediately beheld a crudely drawn picture of a dripping condom with a couple of lightening bolts strategically positioned over it. I smiled slowly… heh heh heh… I hate to admit it, but this is my kind of book!

I love funny, factual, ribald books that offer to teach me new stuff while still entertaining me. And I’m certainly not above laughing at crude body humor at all. I like gross humor, and some might think that makes me immature. This book is full of gross humor. But it’s also full of a lot of great information that may very well save someone’s… ahem… well, you get the idea. Think of it as a “Worst Case Scenario” for the sexual arena. The authors have teamed up with lawyers, doctors, EMTs, cops, veterinarians, therapists, and sex educators to help readers deal with all sorts of nasty surprises that can arise during the glorious act of sexual intercourse. Speaking of which, here are a few scenarios that are addressed in this handy gem of a book.

*I can’t get this cock ring off! What follows is advice on how to get the device off of that, ahem, part of the body without doing permanent damage to the male anatomy. The authors have consulted doctors from emergency rooms so that readers will know when they can do the job themselves and when a visit to the hospital is in order.

*Ewww, look at these sheets! Here, readers learn how to remove stains effectively so that their linens aren’t ruined. One can find out how to get out all sorts of body fluids, from blood to semen to urine to feces. Handy information to know, even if you didn’t get the stains on your sheets from having sex!

*Well, she said she was eighteen! In this situation, the authors consulted a lawyer who provides readers with advice on what to do if it turns out their date isn’t as old as he or she presented themselves to be.

*I think my cat ate a used condom! You guessed it… a veterinarian was consulted in this case, so that readers will get expert advice on what to do if their beloved Fido or Fluffy gets ahold of something yucky.

*Hey, where’d the condom go? Believe it or not, this is probably NOT a medical emergency! The authors tell you how to find the condom, even if it’s, uh, not in the sheets somewhere.

*But officer, it’s just a little sex party… The authors tell you how to prevent a visit from the cops in the first place and what to do if they happen to show up at your door.

There are, of course, a lot of other, even raunchier situations listed that I won’t include here for obvious reasons. I think ya’ll get the point, anyway, that this is a fun book if you’re into books about sex. The book also contains useful sections aimed at men and women, such as “A Man’s Guide to Menstruation” and “A Woman’s Guide to Erections”, as well as instructions on how to put on a condom. Those of you who are concerned about the mysteries pertaining to your partner’s body may be happy to read these sections explaining body processes that not everyone experiences. The authors do a good job laying out what goes on with men and women in a layman’s terms.

I brought this book with me to my sister’s house and she happened to read it after I finished it. She thought it was hilarious. I also thought the writing was very funny and witty and the fact that it was written by both a man AND a woman gives the book a little more credibility than if it were just written by someone of one gender. Sex disasters, after all, happen to everybody and since men and women have different plumbing, it’s good to have representatives from both genders on hand to lend their expertise.

Now for a few cons… if you’re in the least bit a prude, this book probably won’t appeal to you. It’s quite graphic and the authors go ahead and use dirty language. Personally, that doesn’t bother me, but it might offend some people with more delicate sensibilities. Others, who unlike me, have their minds out of the gutter, might say that it weakens the authors’ case if they’re trying to make a statement that this book should be taken seriously. After all, this book is written in anything but an academic style! However, this book was not written for academics. It was written for everyday people… people who might find themselves in these kinds of situations… people who are maybe just a tad irresponsible sometimes… people who get into a little mischief… people who are accident prone… people who like to party a little bit… and maybe those people would respond to a few cuss words and some graphic language regarding the act of sex. I think the authors were targeting the right audience. Prudish people probably wouldn’t find themselves having trouble removing cock rings, anyway!

Also, this book is not really organized. There’s an index and a table of contents, and subjects are cross-referenced if they relate to another subject that is covered, but it’s not like the book is laid out in an orderly fashion. On the other hand, at less than 200 pages, this is not a big book, and if you don’t mind reading about this stuff, you’ll probably read it straight through anyway. It’s that entertaining!

I think this is a great book and if you know of a swinging couple about to get married, it might make a good shower or bachelor party present! Shoot, it might even make a good wedding present! One never knows when or where a hairy situation might arise, especially within the bonds of matrimony!

If you’re a really liberal parent, you might even consider giving a copy of this book to your college student. It’s pretty frank and gross, but let’s face it, the information is accurate and it’s written in a way that will speak to college students, especially the guys. You may not approve of your college aged kids having too good a time at school; but if they do party, at least if they have this book around, and they’ll be informed of what to do if something bad happens. It’s definitely something to think about. 

Edited to add in 2021: I liked the hard copy of this book so much that I downloaded another copy.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission on sales made through my site.

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