Jul 142015
 

On Saturday, I posted a link to this article — Tennis’s Top Women Balance Body Image With Ambition — to Facebook, with the following comment:

I read this article last night, and it made me want to cry. I like what many of these women have to say, but it’s just horrible that professional freaking athletes feel such ambivalence about putting on muscle just because they’re women. And dammit, they look amazing.

A friend asked me why I was horrified, and I wrote the following comment. It’s a bit rough, but I thought it worth reposting here:

Ah, now that’s a bit difficult to articulate, but let me try.

Overall, I’d say that conventional body standards for women in our culture are pretty irrational. As far as they concern what women can control, they’re almost exclusively about being more slender. That’s the top priority — to be pursued and/or achieved at the price of health (short-term and long-term), capacities (not just athletic pursuits but daily life tasks), etc.

That’s seen in the supermarket “fitness” magazines (which always showcase slender, non-muscular women on their covers) … in the focus on “losing weight” (rather than losing fat and certainly not gaining muscle) … in the ridiculous belief / fear that lifting any kind of weights will cause women to quickly resemble bodybuilders (as if!!) … the quick and near universal compliments obtained from slimming down (whatever the price) … and so on.

So the fact that the standards are irrational and damaging to women’s health and performance is part of the problem here. That’s the easy part, I think.

The more difficult part, I think, is perhaps seeing that greater physical strength and capacity in a woman need not undermine her sense of her own femininity, nor a man’s appreciation / enjoyment of that.

Yes, greater physical strength and capacity in a woman might present a greater challenge to a man in a sexual relationship — not just physically, but because of the greater self-confidence that comes with that. And some men might not be willing or able to live up to that challenge. But many can (or could) — and that meeting of strength with strength can be something special in a sexual relationship. Moreover, the feeling of being deeply embedded in the body that can come with intense physical training… well, again, something special.

I’ve got quite a bit of raw strength relative to the other women in krav, but I’ve now sparred with enough good men to know, in a deep-down way, the overwhelming power of masculine strength, when cultivated. (It’s pretty freaking awesome to experience that, in fact.)

Even apart from these more physical dimensions, I think that our culture has the view that vulnerability cannot come from a position of strength. That’s why men aren’t supposed to be vulnerable (or terribly emotional) and women are supposed to vulnerable due to weakness.

I suppose that’s one way to do it, but I’m opting for a “vulnerability through strength” and “strength through vulnerability” route — both psychologically and physically. And so far, difficult tho it might be, it feels freaking amazing and so right. And in the process, far more dresses and other girly things are being worn, and that feels really right to me too. Fancy that. :-)

Sexual Desire and Assertiveness

 Posted by on 22 June 2015 at 10:00 am  Love/Sex, Psychology
Jun 222015
 

Wow, fascinating stuff from When Women Pursue Sex, Even Men Don’t Get It:

Bergner explains that, in the past, “scientists fixated on what the rat female did in the act of sex, not what she did to get there.” And if you’re friends with any single women or are one yourself, you know that “what she did to get there” is often the most taxing part of the sexual act. It’s also where cultural factors really start to work against women’s newly documented desire. Bergner makes a pretty strong case that women are socially, not biologically, discouraged from initiating and enjoying sex. … Men and women have been barraged with the message that women are not naughty by nature. They are thought of as hardwired to hunt for a partner and a mate, while men pursue sex as a pleasurable act in and of itself. It follows from there that women — at least good women — must be pursued and coaxed into sex, and men enjoy the thrill of the chase.

There are other factors propping up the idea that women prefer to be sexually passive. Bergner reports that preliminary research indicates women are most turned on by their partners’ desire for them. It’s easy to see how this could be misconstrued as passivity — especially because more than a century of conventional wisdom says women don’t like sex as much as men do. But if we accept Bergner’s radical thesis that women do, in fact, like to get off, and get off on being desired, the question of who pursues whom poses a real conundrum for single women.

Think about it: Women want sex, and in particular, they want sex with people who really want them. But socially, many straight men still find it a turnoff when women are sexual aggressors. Which means that, for women, aggressively pursuing the thing they want actually leads to them not getting it. I suspect this is the source of much sexual dissatisfaction of the modern single lady, who’s so horny she’s running across the street to Walgreens to buy more batteries twice a week, but is unable to pick up men despite social conventions that men are “easy” to bed and women have to be coaxed into casual sex. The thing women are told they can access any time is, maddeningly, often just out of reach.

I’ve been thinking a whole lot about the psychology of sexual desire of late. The complexities, even just on a personal level… well, they’re complex. :-) Hence, much of the above commentary on mistaken assumptions about female sexual desire resonates with me. Plus, I wish that sex wasn’t treated in our culture as A Topic Not To Be Discussed Among Friends Except In Terms Of Vague Generalities and Allusions. I’ve had that as an explicit policy for years… but no more, and life is better for it.

Devaluing Marriage

 Posted by on 21 January 2015 at 10:00 am  Business, Conservatism, Culture, GLBT, Love/Sex, Marriage
Jan 212015
 

This news doesn’t surprise me… but I wish I’d predicted it! From Once, Same-Sex Couples Couldn’t Wed; Now, Some Employers Say They Must:

Until recently, same-sex couples could not legally marry. Now, some are finding they must wed if they want to keep their partner’s job-based health insurance and other benefits.

With same-sex marriage now legal in 35 states and the District of Columbia, some employers that formerly covered domestic partners say they will require marriage licenses for workers who want those perks.

“We’re bringing our benefits in line, making them consistent with what we do for everyone else,” said Ray McConville, a spokesman for Verizon, which notified non-union employees in July that domestic partners in states where same-sex marriage is legal must wed if they want to qualify for such benefits.

Employers making the changes say that since couples now have the legal right to marry, they no longer need to provide an alternative. Such rule changes could also apply to opposite-sex partners covered under domestic partner arrangements.

The news doesn’t surprise me because it confirms my long-held view that companies offering benefits to unmarried people living together was largely a way to provide benefits to same-sex couples. And that’s part of why I think that conservatives have done more to devalue marriage than anyone else in recent decades. By opposing gay marriage, they encouraged people to view living together as basically the same as marriage. But… it’s not.

If you want to know why I think that, take a listen to this question about the value of marriage from the 17 February 2013 episode of Philosophy in Action Radio. The question asked:

What is the value of marriage? How is it different from living with a romantic partner in a committed relationship? Is marriage only a legal matter? Or does it have some personal or social benefit?

You can listen to or download the relevant segment of the podcast here:

For more details, check out the question’s archive page. The full episode – where I answered questions on the value of marriage, antibiotic resistance in a free society, concern for attractiveness to others, semi-automatic handguns versus revolvers, and more – is available as a podcast too.

Jun 122014
 

Bodies of 800 babies, long-dead, found in septic tank at former Irish home for unwed mothers:

In a town in western Ireland, where castle ruins pepper green landscapes, there’s a six-foot stone wall that once surrounded a place called the Home. Between 1925 and 1961, thousands of “fallen women” and their “illegitimate” children passed through the Home, run by the Bon Secours nuns in Tuam.

Many of the women, after paying a penance of indentured servitude for their out-of-wedlock pregnancy, left the Home for work and lives in other parts of Ireland and beyond. Some of their children were not so fortunate.

More than five decades after the Home was closed and destroyed — where a housing development and children’s playground now stands — what happened to nearly 800 of those abandoned children has now emerged: Their bodies were piled into a massive septic tank sitting in the back of the structure and forgotten, with neither gravestones nor coffins.

That — and the abuse, neglect, and ostracism suffered by these children detailed in the article — is a painful reminder of the evil of stigmatizing children born out of wedlock. Speaking generally, raising children is difficult and demanding work — mentally, emotionally, and financially. I see the value of bearing and raising children within the stability and support of a family — particularly in less wealthy cultures where women don’t have the resources or capacity to raise and support a child on their own. Yet that’s a far cry from demanding that any pregnant woman marry her sperm donor, regardless of his suitability as a husband. And it’s light years away from subjecting innocent children to the torture of abandonment, neglect, abuse, ostracism, and perhaps death because their life is the result of religious sin.

This is one of the many ways in which western culture is so much better than it was, even just 100 years ago. I don’t want to go back!

Update: The burial location wasn’t a septic tank, as this Forbes article explains, but instead a kind of mass grave:

Today the Irish Times has published a reader’s letter that has further undercut the story. Finbar McCormick, a professor of geography at Queen’s University Belfast, sharply admonished the media for describing the children’s last resting place as a septic tank. He added: “The structure as described is much more likely to be a shaft burial vault, a common method of burial used in the recent past and still used today in many part of Europe.

“In the 19th century, deep brick-lined shafts were constructed and covered with a large slab which often doubled as a flatly laid headstone. These were common in 19th-century urban cemeteries…..Such tombs are still used extensively in Mediterranean countries. I recently saw such structures being constructed in a churchyard in Croatia. The shaft was made of concrete blocks, plastered internally and roofed with large concrete slabs.

That’s all well and good, but not really essential to the point that I’m making about the story. Honestly, I don’t care too much about how the dead bodies were treated: I care about how living people — pregnant girls, mothers, and children — were treated. That’s not under dispute.

 

I found that photo on Facebook a while back, with the following caption:

This photo was posted on STFU, Conservatives Tumblr page last night [here]. The reason why I’m sharing it is not because of the photo itself (which is epic in it’s [sic] own right), but for the comments it generated.

One person wrote, “but then again, its kind like putting a meat suit on and telling a shark not to eat you”.

STFU responded (with bolded text):

We (men) are not fucking sharks!

We are not rabid animals living off of pure instinct

We are capable of rational thinking and understanding.

Just because someone is cooking food doesn’t mean you’re entitled to eat it.

Just because a banker is counting money doesn’t mean you’re being given free money.

Just because a person is naked doesn’t mean you’re entitled to fuck them.

You are not entitled to someone else’s body just because it’s exposed.

What is so fucking difficult about this concept?

Bravo.

Indeed. Also, Laura Jedeed has some really excellent comments on rape and this image too.

Happily, the rights of women in western countries are more widely recognized and better protected today than at any other time in human history. That’s a huge achievement, and part of why I’m grateful to live in modern America.

However, more progress awaits us. One example was in the news last year:

A recent court case just exposed a barbarity in California law, namely that it’s not rape to trick an unmarried woman into sleeping with you by pretending to be her boyfriend.

Julio Morales was convicted and sentenced to three years in state prison for entering an 18-year-old woman’s bedroom and instigating sex with her while she was asleep after a night of drinking at a house party in 2009. According to prosecutors, it wasn’t until “light coming through a crack in the bedroom door illuminated the face of the person having sex with her” that she realized Morales wasn’t her boyfriend. Holy shit.

But a panel of judges overturned the conviction this week because of a law from 1872 that doesn’t give women the same protections as married women because, as we all know, single women are always down for nonconsensual sex, even when they’re asleep and/or purposefully tricked into the act.

The court admitted that “If the woman had been married and the man had impersonated her husband” it would be rape. But since there was no ring on her finger, it’s not!

Eugene Volokh had some comments here. I agree that rape by fraud shouldn’t be a punishable offense, except in cases of impersonation of a lover or spouse. (I’m not sure of the case of mere friends.) As Eugene says of such impersonation:

It is, thankfully, apparently a rare sort of lie; it is very far outside the normal level of dishonesty that people expect might happen in their relationships; it is one for which there is no plausible justification or mitigation; and criminalizing it is unlikely to sweep in the garden variety lies that, unfortunately, often appear in people’s sexual and romantic lives.

California law obviously needs to be updated.

Here’s another example. The 2012 election was replete with politicians making ridiculous and offensive comments about rape in order to rationalize their across-the-board opposition to abortion. Most notable was Todd Akin’s justification for denying abortions to women pregnant due to rape:

… from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.

Conservatives need to recognize that forced pregnancy — not just pregnancy due to rape but any unwanted pregnancy — is a morally abhorrent violation of rights, not a gift from God.

Alas, the third example hits closer to home for me. In a February 2012 podcast, Leonard Peikoff said that a man is entitled to force himself on a woman if she has a few drinks with him and then goes up to his hotel room. Thankfully, he corrected that a few weeks later, but only in part. By a rather strange analysis, Peikoff concluded that a woman cannot withdraw consent after penetration. In reality, that means that the man can do whatever he pleases to the woman after penetration, even as she kicks and screams and yells and cries in protest. That’s seriously, seriously wrong — and dangerous too.

On a more positive note, you’ll find my own views on the nature and limits of consent in sex in this podcast. (It’s a pretty lengthy discussion… about over 40 minutes.)

Ultimately, my point here is that the rights of women matter — and they’re not yet fully protected. The image at the top of this post reminds us of that. The fact that she’s half-naked doesn’t make her any less of a person with the absolute right to forbid another person access to her body.

That’s a lesson that some people still need to learn, unfortunately.

 

The half price sale on my podcast on finding good prospects for romance and friendship is ending soon… so now’s the time to buy it! It’s just $10 now, but that sale price will expire on January 20th.

You can find more information about the podcast below, as well as order it. If it’s a gift, just let me know that (and the email address of the recipient) in the comments field on the order form.

About the Podcast

Many people lament the difficulty of finding good prospects for a lasting, deep, and happy romance. Others have trouble finding worthwhile friends. Yet most people who bemoan the lack of prospects could be doing much more than they are to increase their odds of success. Too many people don’t adopt a purposeful approach but instead wait passively… and complain. This 90-minute podcast discusses how to make yourself a good prospect — and how to find good prospects — for romance and friendship.

The structure of podcast:

  • Opening remarks
  • A bit of theory:
    • Types of social relationships, visualized as a target
    • Major axes of compatibility in relationships
  • Practical advice:
    • Make yourself a good prospect
    • Expand your social network
    • Engage with other people
    • Cultivate your social skills
  • Questions and answers from pledgers:
    • How can a person get better at evaluating other people’s characters when meeting them?
    • When should I reveal a psychological problem like bipolar disorder to someone I’m dating?
  • Closing remarks

Remember, the podcast doesn’t just concern finding good prospects for romance but also for friendship. So even if you’re happily attached, you’ll likely find the techniques of use.

Purchase the Podcast

This podcast was originally funded by pledges, and it’s now available for purchase for half-price — just $10 — until January 20th. You can pay online via Dwolla or PayPal. Or you can send a check or money order via the US Mail, including with your bank’s bill pay service. If you want to pay by some other method, choose “Other” below and explain in the comments. I recommend using Dwolla: it’s a payment system with lower fees, stronger security, and better interface design than PayPal. A Dwolla account is free and easy to create.

Terms of Sale: You may share the podcast with members of your household, but not beyond that. Do not ever post the podcast in any public forum.

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What Do You Go for in a Girl?

 Posted by on 31 December 2013 at 10:00 am  Literature, Love/Sex, Sexism
Dec 312013
 

This video asks: What do you go for in a girl? The answer might surprise you!

(H/T to Howard)

 

If you’ve been interested in my podcast on finding good prospects for romance and friendship, now’s the time to buy it! It’s on sale for half price — just $10 — until January 20th.

You can find more information about the podcast below, as well as order it. If it’s a gift, just let me know that (and the email address of the recipient) in the comments field on the order form.

About the Podcast

Many people lament the difficulty of finding good prospects for a lasting, deep, and happy romance. Others have trouble finding worthwhile friends. Yet most people who bemoan the lack of prospects could be doing much more than they are to increase their odds of success. Too many people don’t adopt a purposeful approach but instead wait passively… and complain. This 90-minute podcast discusses how to make yourself a good prospect — and how to find good prospects — for romance and friendship.

The structure of podcast:

  • Opening remarks
  • A bit of theory:
    • Types of social relationships, visualized as a target
    • Major axes of compatibility in relationships
  • Practical advice:
    • Make yourself a good prospect
    • Expand your social network
    • Engage with other people
    • Cultivate your social skills
  • Questions and answers from pledgers:
    • How can a person get better at evaluating other people’s characters when meeting them?
    • When should I reveal a psychological problem like bipolar disorder to someone I’m dating?
  • Closing remarks

Remember, the podcast doesn’t just concern finding good prospects for romance but also for friendship. So even if you’re happily attached, you’ll likely find the techniques of use.

Purchase the Podcast

This podcast was originally funded by pledges, and it’s now available for purchase for half-price — just $10 — until January 20th. You can pay online via Dwolla or PayPal. Or you can send a check or money order via the US Mail, including with your bank’s bill pay service. If you want to pay by some other method, choose “Other” below and explain in the comments. I recommend using Dwolla: it’s a payment system with lower fees, stronger security, and better interface design than PayPal. A Dwolla account is free and easy to create.

Terms of Sale: You may share the podcast with members of your household, but not beyond that. Do not ever post the podcast in any public forum.

Name:
Email:
Item:Podcast: Finding Good Prospects for Romance and Friendship ($15)
Add a tip? Total:
Payment Method:
Comments/Questions:
I’d love to hear what motivated your purchase in these comments.
 

Once you submit this form, you’ll be automatically redirected to a page for payment. Within 24 hours of the receipt of payment, you will receive an email with information on how to access your purchase. If you have any questions or further comments, please email me at diana@philosophyinaction.com.

To order multiple items from Philosophy in Action, use this form. To create a recurring tip, use this form.

If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me. If you’ve already purchased this podcast, you can access it via its private page with your login and password. If you have forgotten that, just e-mail me.

The Affordable Relationship Protection Act

 Posted by on 20 November 2013 at 10:00 am  Funny, Love/Sex, Medicine, Politics
Nov 202013
 

Chris Land posted this to Facebook yesterday, and it’s too awesome not to share:

Announcing the AFFORDABLE RELATIONSHIP PROTECTION ACT

Looking for a romantic partner takes time, energy and money. Sadly, many American adults are currently unrelationshipped. Who can they turn to in need? To whichever institution is in the best position to help, that’s who!

A few years after the passage of the Affordable Relationship Protection Act, the website YourLoveMatch.gov will go live. Unrelationshipped adults can then create an online profile with the help of specially funded Coaches. Based on your individual selection criteria, an exciting new partner will be assigned in 4-6 weeks. Love at last!

To provide the necessary funding, all adults will be required to set up an account or face a small penalty (this is not a tax unless it needs to be for legal reasons). Those already in a relationship will be required to register that relationship. Government is what we do together.

IF YOU LIKE YOUR PARTNER, YOU CAN KEEP YOUR PARTNER. Any significant changes (like change of job or residence or a new tattoo) will require re-registration. Approval will be routine unless you’ve selected a substandard partner. In those rare cases, your new partner will be a big improvement!

Sure there will be a few bugs to work out. A few kinks, some bumps in the road. But let’s all keep the end goal – happy relationships for everyone! – firmly in mind. Anyone against this WANTS people to be unhappy. Stride forward, comrades! Forward to the future!

I’m looking forward to upgrading my substandard partner soon! Sure, I’ll have to pay a bit more, but I’ll get something much better, right? Right?!?

Oct 102013
 

This excellent blog post on Kant’s various crazy views by UC Riverside philosophy professor Eric Schwitzgebel details some of the crazy views that I covered in my recent broadcast on Kant’s views on sex. It’s worth reading though for its tidbits on including on organ donation, women in politics, and more.

At the end of the post, Schwitzgebel draws two lessons, both worthy of consideration:

First, from our cultural distance, it is evident that Kant’s arguments against masturbation, for the return of wives to abusive husbands, etc., are gobbledy-gook. This should make us suspicious that there might be other parts of Kant, too, that are gobbledy-gook, for example, the stuff that transparently reads like gobbledy-gook, such as the transcendental deduction, and such as his claims that his various obviously non-equivalent formulations of the fundamental principle of morality are in fact “so many formulations of precisely the same law” (Groundwork, 4:436, Zweig trans.). I read Kant as a master at promising philosophers what they want and then effusing a haze of words with glimmers enough of hope that readers can convince themselves that there is something profound underneath.

Second, Kant’s philosophical moral reasoning appears mainly to have confirmed his prejudices and the ideas inherited from his culture. We should be nervous about expecting more from the philosophical moral reasoning of people less philosophically capable than Kant.

I added the bold, because I think that’s so damn true. Kant does not merely handwave on occasion. So many of Kant’s arguments are rationalistic, pie-in-the-sky handwaving, where mere associations between words are supposed to give the force of argument.

My only point of disagreement is that I strongly suspect that the various horrifying ethical claims surveyed in the blog post were significant worse than the prejudices of his culture. For example, children born out of wedlock might have been stigmatized, but I doubt that more than a few crazies thought they could be killed with impunity. Then again, maybe I’m overestimating the moral culture of Königsberg.

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha