An Ordinary Man

Or, Men 101

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What It Will Take? Common Sense Is What

With all due respect to Marianne Schnall – and in total agreement with her goal – I think she didn’t quite get it right in today’s Commentary on CNN.com about what it will take to elect a woman president.

According to her, “[t]he first step is acknowledging that we have a problem to fix and then doing everything possible to get many more women in the political pipeline.”  For the foreseeable future, she’s dead in the water right there; far too many people (many of them in my deme) simply will not make that acknowledgment.  Ever.  And as they die out, they are grooming their replacements.  We cannot wait for a first step that is never going to happen.

Instead we need common sense.  Donald Trump got elected by pretending he (“alone”) had answers to all the problems that bedevil the also-rans in today’s society; i.e., 99% of us.  Hell’s bells; I almost voted for the man because I wanted so badly to believe him – he was going to solve everything and I have so much that needs to be solved.  What stopped me was he offered no details (and no wonder, he – alone – seems to be the only one who didn’t know health care was so complicated).  If a candidate had been able to come out and make common-sense arguments for or against some proposition, I daresay that candidate would have had a good chance of winning.

But not some activist.  This was not an election in which I could really care that much whose lives mattered, or who was being grabbed, or whether somebody’s sacred lands were being violated; it was about me making it through the year.  It was completely selfish.  You show me how I’m going to make it, and THEN, but only then, will I start truly caring about things outside my orbit.  And you might be surprised with how much I agree with you.

The glass ceiling, police brutality, DAPL, DREAM, etc, are all COMMON SENSE issues; making them political ones mean the good people LOSE, almost automatically. Hillary Clinton, a supremely well-qualified candidate, lost for the same reason the Tea Party has failed to advance – like them, she got bogged down in highly-divisive social issues.  Whoever the next qualified candidate is, I want to hear from her how I can make it to the next election.

 

International Women’s Day

No words, other than Respect, Hope, and Love.

Emma Watson’s Chest

emma watson

Full Disclosure: I am a confirmed Emma Watson addict.

Let’s state the obvious first.  Emma Watson is lovely; that top is hideous.  And, as CNN.com and many, many other outlets anxious to have a reason to display this image from Vogue note, she is being subjected to some backlash from those who think it fails to square with her well-known “feminist” attitudes (I’ve put feminist in quotations because what she is advocating is simple common sense, which I don’t think makes her an -ist of any kind).

The reason for this is because we as a society continue to sexualize a secondary sex characteristic; breasts are simply a manifestation of beauty, just as biceps and pecs are a manifestation of something we don’t really seem to have a word I can think of for – maybe beauty set free from its typically female connotation (I’ve heard women call men beautiful and it makes perfect sense, even to a straight guy), and it makes no more sense to relegate breasts to the hinterlands, only to be brought out on special occasions for that special person than it does to require guys to keep their shirt on at all times.

In the proper setting, a display of physical attributes – male or female – is perfectly appropriate and completely apolitical.  Vogue magazine is certainly a proper setting.

But I like how Ms. Watson herself put it so much better: “I really don’t know what my tits have to do with feminism.”  Beauty, brains, and common sense.  I remain a fan.

The “Orgasm Gap”

CBSnews.com reports that scientists are continuing to seek answers to the question of why women are famous for having a lower orgasmic rate then men, having had it confirmed recently that the rate for heterosexual women (65%) is far below that for heterosexual men (95%), but also below gay men (89%), bi-sexual men (88%), gay women (86%), and bisexual women (66% – their involvement with the men, I assume, bringing the average way down).

Dr. Richard Wilson, addressing his evolutionary biology class in my novel, An Ordinary Man, had this to say in response to a student’s question: why don’t women come all the time?

“Some of us in biology have come to what we consider an inescapable conclusion – that the female orgasm is an evolutionary artifact and serves no true biological purpose. It is, for want of a better term, a happy accident.”

Tanya stared at him, whether with hostility or merely intense curiosity, so he began his elaboration by looking directly at her.

“To understand this, one has to understand human embryology, which is not that different than any other kind of mammalian embryology. Although the individual’s gender is determined at the moment of conception by the presence or absence of the Y chromosome, the developing embryo does not show sexual differentiation until several weeks later. The blueprints for human anatomy are not all that different between males and females in that most of our systems operate exactly the same way; our circulation, digestion, sensory, et cetera. That’s why males have nipples, even though they normally never go on to secrete milk for the young; they were in the joint blueprint and there’s no mechanism for nature to take them out so they get built.

“Most of the female parts are homologous to the males – or vice versa. Most notably, the undifferentiated embryonic genital tubercle becomes the clitoris in the female and the penis in the male, but there’s quite a listing of sexual homologues available on the internet for those of you who might be interested.” Presumably that would be all of them, with the luckiest going on to make side-by-side comparisons in the privacy of their dorm rooms. He didn’t think it advisable to stand up there and tell them that the mons was the feminine counterpart of the scrotum, or that her inner lips matched the spongy erectile tissue of his dick. Labia was one of those words that was just a little bit too tangible for polite conversation, even in an academic setting. “The upshot of all of this is that the female body receives all of the necessary components to make orgasm possible, even if it is not, strictly speaking, essential for the continuation of the line. But I do not want to leave anyone with the impression that the sexuality of the human female is somehow jury-rigged or cobbled together from left-over spare parts as it is quite likely that its functioning, whatever its origination, has been honed over the centuries in that women who enjoyed sex presumably have out-bred women who do not, thereby tending to perfect it just like any other form of selective pressure. Not exactly survival of the fittest, but of the happiest, I guess. Alright, thank you, Tanya, for the interesting detour, but we must now turn our attention back to the syllabus.”

[NB: although I haven’t read it, it seems that Elisabeth A. Lloyd’s The Case of the Female Orgasm covers similar ground.]

All is not lost, however; as the article points out, oral sex is correlated with a much higher orgasmic rate and I would submit that it shouldn’t matter too much if a nice guy or a nice woman was doing the honors.  Gentlemen?

Attention: Kennedy OR Clinton …

There has been some speculation that the scions of two powerful political families from the same party may be interested in the same Senate seat if it opens up in 2020.  What makes this interesting to me is that the seat would open because a woman, Kirsten Gillibrand, might make a run for the Presidency, leaving two other women, Chelsea Clinton and Caroline Kennedy, potentially interested.

But what worries me is that men like me – old white guys – will be put off by too much symbolism being read into this.  I want a government based upon actual common sense (versus DJT’s alternative-reality common sense); I want my politicians to tell me – a human being – how their candidacy is going to help me and my country.

The fact of the matter is that while #ShePersisted, #NastyWoman, and #PantsuitNation might be very exciting and make some people feel better, empowered, or whatever, I will be much more receptive to #CommonSense, #JusticeForAll, #ResponsibleSpending, #AffordableHealthCare, etc., and you still need my vote.  I will never vote for women’s rights, LGBT rights, or civil rights over my own interest in having a decent job and an affordable life but if I get those things, I will embrace them, because they are, simply put, a matter of common sense.

Isn’t it great “scion” no longer necessarily refers to a male?

Deadly Serious

A 76-year-old man has admitted shooting his 62-year-old wife because after 7 months of marriage, they had not consummated their union and she still refused to have sex with him.   This leaves me at a loss for words.  Was it justified?  Of course not.  Do I understand it?  Of course I do.  If you don’t, may I suggest reading my book?

 

They’re Insulting Who? Lady Gaga?

The New York Daily News – my favorite tabloid – ran an article today with the rather lengthy title of Lady Gaga Has a Message for Internet Trolls Who Body Shamed Her during Super Bowl Halftime Performance.

I have no objection to the article itself but I’ve grown tired of the term “body shaming” because that’s NOT what’s going on.  Let’s look at the definition of shame as it pops up on Google:

shameAs you can see, the definition is based upon a “consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.”  Boom, there you have it – not having the stomach of a supermodel is not wrong or foolish behavior.  She is in better shape than 80-90% of us, so there is no need for humiliation, mortification, chagrin, embarrassment, etc, because of this, so she cannot – and apparently was not – “shamed” (plus, I happen to find a bit of a belly endearing, especially given that I have a bit of one myself).

What people are doing is insulting Lady Gaga and that is simply rude.

Here’s how Richard Wilson, the namesake of An Ordinary Man views it:

Liz had stopped wearing two-piece suits long ago, rejecting Richard’s argument that the slight slackening of her belly after bearing Sean was unavoidable but also sort of sexy, and wore a tight maillot. It pushed her breasts up and the high cut to the leg extended her toned thighs while flattening the offending belly. She looked good. There were two other families at the pool and one of the husbands was not shy about enjoying proximity to a woman considerably more attractive than his own wife.

Normal men do not demand perfection, whatever the hell that would be.

The Future is Female

makers

I’m fairly comfortable with my knowledge of sexual politics, having been a student thereof for over forty years, but less so with my knowledge of political politics.  And then there is that this blog is supposed to be about the former, but there is an observation I’d like to make regarding Hillary Clinton’s “the future is female” remark, as reportedly made at the Makers Conference.

This is an important message, and one that I fully support, but we just lost a critical election, perhaps in part because of statements like these.  In the election of 1992, the tagline for the other Clinton was “it’s the economy, stupid,” and, unfortunately, it still was in 2016.  I mocked Donald Trump’s candidacy in a course in American Government I taught back in the earlier stages of his campaign, but as an under-employed older white male, as much as my brain shouted “fraud,” my heart listened to his pledge to create jobs because I needed one so very badly and it took a fair amount of strength to keep from voting “what-have-I-got-to-lose?” in the voting booth because of this.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign was too much about empowering various groups that may – do – need to be empowered, but my concern is my bank account’s ability to put food on my table and pay the mortgage at the same time.  I’m not a feminist per se, nor a racist, and suspect a lot of the LGTB community does in their bedrooms exactly what I do in mine – nothing – so I wanted to hear about jobs, period.    In a proper economy, discrimination against anyone is rarely economical, so let’s get to that proper economy and not talk about whose lives matter, sartorial choices, or what colors I see in the sky after a rain.

If I was working, I would have a chance to hire the best person for the job, whatever that person’s nationality, color, religion, sexual orientation, etc, was, but if I am not working, too much talk about their interests sounds suspiciously like being against mine.

Donald Trump won because he lied about jobs and the forgotten workers; Hillary Clinton could have won if she talked the truth about jobs and the forgotten workers.  Let’s not let that happen again.  The best argument for equality across the board is an economic one.

“… that we’d spend time with you?”

coco-de-mer

This isn’t going to come out right, but it is in line with thoughts I’ve had as I contemplate the tensions between men and women with respect to sex.  I happened to be watching Michael Che Matters on Netflix the other night and he, a young urban black male, had almost the exact same thought that I, an older suburban white guy, have had.  He had gotten to talking about sex toys and the fact that for some reason it was more, what – socially acceptable? – for women to have them then for men to have them.  If I find your vibrator, that’s not near as embarrassing as if you found my artificial vagina.

He got a little crude, noting that women could even use things available in the grocery store produce aisle, with the audience laughing at the outrageous truth behind this.  But then he stopped and asked a simple question: if there was a vegetable out there that felt as good to a man as a woman does, do you think we would waste our time dealing with you?  Or something like that.

We are forced to engage with you because you control our sex life, and although in many, many cases, it is wonderful to engage with you for many, many reasons, there’s a fundamental truth in this that sometimes gets lost in the discussion.  As a straight male, I am pretty much 100% dependent upon a female for sexual satisfaction, but as a straight female, you are not nearly as dependent upon a male, who might not, in fact, be as good as that thing you happen to have in the drawer of your nightstand.

Wherever there is an inequality of power, there is the potential for the abuse of that power.

Like I said, that didn’t come out quite right, but I hope you understand nonetheless.

Note: the image is of the famous coco-de-mer palm nut of the Seychelles

 

Ariana Grande Might Not Get It

I feel bad when anyone feels diminished under any circumstances and I’m sorry Ariana Grande felt “objectified” the other day by a fan who congratulated her boyfriend for “hitting that” [meaning, I believe, having sex with her].  But it may not be what Ms. Grande takes it to be. Consider a random shot of her in concert stolen from the internet:

ariana-grande-performs-at-honeymoon-tour-in-anaheim_2

bare shoulders? check

bare midriff? check

ultra-short skirt? check

thigh-high boots? check

high heels? check

provocative pose? double check

In other words, an image carefully calculated to grab a young man by the testicles and not let go until he’s in the shower someplace.  It doesn’t do that with me, incidentally; I’m 62 years old and not given to what would amount to pedophilia, but I do remember being young and completely gob-smacked when I realized that Lee Majors got to sleep with Farraah Fawcett-Majors:

farra-fawcett_poster_1976

Being in awe of the man who holds such a privilege as that is not always about simple ejaculatory pleasure.  It can also encompass envy at being the one who is with the woman with all that that implies; being able to enjoy her aesthetic beauty, her laugh & smiles, her conversation, having coffee with her, looking into her eyes, drying her back after her shower, watching her dress, holding her hand, sharing all the joys and sorrows of life with her, etc, etc, etc.  But that is quite a mouthful and language is a lost art these days, so maybe the fan was being crude, but maybe not.

Just today I had reason to chastise a man who failed to appreciate being the partner of a special woman and while that of course included his implied sexual prerogatives, it was by no means limited to that. So, you might not have been objectified, Ms. Grande, you might have simply have been deeply appreciated.