An Ordinary Man

Or, Men 101

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.

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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.

 

It Takes Two to Tango

last-tango

Bernardo Bertolucci just announced that the stick-of-butter scene in Last Tango was not consensual.  Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider are no longer with us to confirm this, although both had spoken out against the film before they died.  If, indeed, someone has been raped in the course of an artistic endeavor, it is no defense to claim it was for the benefit of the art.  But I’m not sure what really happened here and I am certainly not sure what it means. So let me throw some things out.

1. Study the image above.  Brando’s pants are very tight and up over his buttocks.  Not having first-hand experience with either his anatomy or his tailor, there is still some question as to whether or not an erect penis would be sufficiently liberated to achieve penetration here without substantial discomfort to the male.  For what it’s worth, I have never had sex with my pants that high.

2. Study the image below:

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-15-11-22-0

Schneider is lying on the floor, bare-assed, with Brando right beside her, down by her naked hips.  In a real-life situation, he IS going to play with her ass.  And by that, I do not mean simply caress her butt cheeks, but by going deep into the murky depths that lie there.  There are no ‘no trespassing’ signs on any square inch down there; it is ALL on the plate.  Things are going to happen that might surprise both parties absent a nearly constant stream of  feedback.  Do not offer your ass to a male without being fully aware of this, and stay on your back if it’s unacceptable.

3.  Nineteen or not, what the hell did she think the stick of butter was for?  I simply cannot image laying there like that and seeing a stick of butter materialize.  Even if she wasn’t aware of its potential as a lubricant, this clearly was not the set-up for an eating scene and it wasn’t exactly hidden. What was butter doing there?

4.  I am involved in a relationship with a younger woman that we both want to turn sexual, at least once.  She is older than 19, but the proportional difference in our ages is almost the same.  One of the things holding me back is whether or not one is ever really ‘okay’ with what can happen during sex.  Did you really mean to do that? Did you really let them do that? Did such-and-such really happen?  Looking back at last night in the light of today is rarely a good idea.  Consent at the time? Sure, but does that translate into approval the next day, when oxytocin levels have returned to normal?  Sex without a certain degree of second-guessing is not sex I think I’d like.

Our war on good sex continues.

Postscript:  I just watched the scene on YouTube.  She knew all about the butter – she brought it to him.  Wouldn’t she have asked what it was for; what it had to do with the scene?  Maybe she was overwhelmed by it all and let what happened happen because of that, underscoring the fact that sex without true love is always dangerous.

Misery Loves Company

I am acutely aware that my novel about the sexually-frustrated husband, An Ordinary Man, strikes some as nothing more than a pathetic screed by one no longer able to seduce his wife.  I am also acutely aware that it could have been written by any one of, say, ten million American males, one of whom I met last night in my night job as a driver for Uber.

Conversations in my car can turn astonishingly intimate in a very short time, given that participants are shielded to some extent by darkness, seating arrangements, relative anonymity, and the certainty that we are unlikely to cross paths again.

But after finding out I was separated in large part because of the interference of Us (my wife and I) by Them (our children), my passenger quickly revealed that he was headed down the same path; with children aged 5 and 3, sex had become reduced to a monthly event.

He told me he wanted it from her more than from anyone but that he wasn’t going to stand for not getting it from anyone.  I reminded him that something caused him to throw in with her and that he’d be wise to try to rekindle that, but not to expect tangible progress for four to six months, knowing that he, like me, like all normal men, will probably tire of of waiting that long.

America’s divorce rate will continue to climb.

 

An Extraordinary Woman

kate-upton

I’m not up on either my super models or my sports heroes so I cannot assess the validity of Kate Upton’s complaint re her man not getting the Cy Young pitching award but I do salute her tweet for its recognition of a central, critical fact: she is the only one who gets to fuck her fiance.

And I hope she continues to recognize and appreciate that fact long after they get married because that is one of the key things that makes a woman a wife, partner, soulmate, lover, or whatever she wants to be with respect to a man she has thrown in with.

Richard Wilson, the frustrated husband in An Ordinary Man, thought of it thusly:

That you are permitted, even expected, to sleep with your wife is part of what makes her your wife. She is your fuck. That’s what men mean when they say they ran into your wife the other day, or saw her someplace: I saw the woman you have sex with. It’s not a judgment call, a critique or evaluation per se – it’s an acknowledgment of a central tenet of your relationship. A critical one; it’s common enough to run into, and even befriend, women who are younger, prettier, shapelier, smarter, more attractive than the woman you married on any of several levels. But you don’t fuck them. At the end of the day, there is only one woman there who is specifically intended, designated even, to receive your bodily fluids and you hers. He used to see her in the distance and think, yes, there she is, that one-in-one-hundred-million who you could take home and possess as if you owned her because in a way, you did, just as she owned you in exactly the same sense. The ultimate partnership.

You rock, Kate Upton.

Not An Ordinary Man

trump-quoteI’ve billed my novel, An Ordinary Man, as an unflinching look at marital sexuality and describe man’s powerlessness in his pursuit of sexual gratification.  My guy, Richard Wilson, is led to contemplate infidelity when the give and take of married life leaves him wanting a bit more “take” and I make no qualms about justifying his appetite on a biological basis. Indeed, that is what makes him the ordinary man of the title.

Our next president appears to fail to understand that the joy of sex is in consensuality – a word I just made up, maybe, which perfectly joins the words consent and sensuality – bragging that star power permits something the ordinary man does NOT want: non-consensual sex, i.e., rape or, at least, assault.

That he feels that way does not make him extraordinary, it makes him a criminal to the extent he has acted upon it.  There is nothing ordinary about that.

 

Thanks, Trump. You, too, Howard. Assholes.

On of the few joys left to me as a single man in my sixth decade is the friendly smiles I used to get from women at the grocery store, who seemed to understand that I was completely harmless.  A trip to the grocery store was always enlivened by a younger woman (sometimes much younger) who felt free to give me a friendly smile because she knew she was not thereby opening herself to unwanted attention, that I would just smile back, and continue filling my cart.

That seemed to change this morning, when I went to the store for the first time since The Trump Tape was revealed.  The women seemed colder, disgusted even, and certainly less friendly.  Was it because they have been confronted with the fact that men of all ages can be pigs?  Is it because they wonder if I am thinking about grabbing them by their genitals – a move that, frankly, mystifies me as much as it repulses me?  Am I  a creeper in disguise, if not an actual rapist?

The big surprise here should not be that Trump, a man of considerable means, was lewd and crude, as sexual gratification is the biggest prize of all for many, many men, but that Howard Stern has prospered for years – decades even – with his revolting shtick, having recently received a long-term contract paying him $90 million a year for talking about things such as whether or not it’s okay to refer to Trump’s daughter as a piece of ass.  A celebrity who appears on his show should automatically fall off the A-list.

Don’t get me wrong; perhaps the majority of men objectify women at some point and few of us would want to hear tapes of things we’ve said.  My book, An Ordinary Man, attempts to portray the force sexuality exerts on ordinary men and is not pretty, but you can safely blame men like Howard for helping to make men like Trump. Pigs of a bristle.

SiriusXM shouldn’t come out of this unscathed, either.  Ninety million for Stern’s garbage mouth?  Show them as well what you think of their support for it.

 

 

Sex & Politics

Don’t mix. Period. Drop it. Everyone. Now.