Saturday, June 27, 2015

Homophobia: An Analysis from the Gender Role Protection Theory



Yesterday we started our family vacation, which involved driving about 500 miles. Since I spent the whole day in the car, I missed the news that our Supreme Court ruled on Obergefell v. Hodges, which extended the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause to homosexual marriage. As a long-time supporter of gay rights, this came as exciting news. I'm celebrating by enjoying a nice continental breakfast in a small slightly-redneck-ish town in Northern California. By coincidence, I'm preparing to officiate my niece's wedding.

Anyway, a quick perusal of my Facebook news feed reveals the expected dichotomy of opinion - many people celebrating wildly; a few others bitching about judicial activism and predicting the end of the world as we know it. That last sentiment is interesting. Until recently, I never really understood the visceral disdain some people have for all things gay, especially from people that supposedly support the idea of individual liberty. Even the religious argument doesn't make a lot of sense considering the ultra-religious don't really get their panties in a bunch over other crimes against the Bible to the point where they protest. Why would anyone give a fuck about complete strangers getting married? It made no sense to me... until I stared playing around with the reasons we have gender roles.

Before I get into the explanation, read the explanation of my Gender Role Protection theory and my analysis of liberal and conservative beliefs first. They're short; it won't take much time. It will properly frame the ideas. Otherwise, it'll make little sense. 

It's okay, I'm not going anywhere.

Got it?

Okay, let's get to work. Homophobia has long been an issue that interested me, mostly because a bias against an entire segment of the population based entirely on who they're attracted to seems arbitrary and pointless. Yet homophobia still persist.

Why?

My hypothesis provides a pretty simple answer. At the heart of it, homophobia isn't about hate. It's about vulnerability. I've noticed a weird phenomenon. Pretty much without exception, my conservative friends have strong anti-gay attitudes. Until, that is, they get to know one or more masculine gay males. If they only knew gay males that had an effeminate personality, the bias persisted.

That's when I connected the dots. Effeminate males are assumed to exhibit feminine traits. Remember my chart from the last two posts? Femininity is the protected group, not the protector group. That's important because it brings another weird Sheepdog behavior (usually but not exclusively found in males): Sheepdogs are always evaluating others to determine if they have the chops to protect the herd. That's the same motivation behind hazing behaviors and rites of passage - they're tests for physical, psychological, and emotional fitness.

This is absolutely necessary because the sheepdog has to know the fellow sheepdogs has their back. When you're going to war, mutual protection is absolutely necessary. That's a fundamental aspect of playing the protector role. This effect is mostly a male construct because there are more masculine men than masculine women, which is a result of evolution. Men, on average, are more physically suited for violence.

We know conservatives, by definition, play the protector role within our society. As such, conservatives are the group that evaluates others for their fitness as protectors. If a conservative views gay men as effeminate, they assume (probably correctly) that they're going to make poor protectors. This is one of the reasons I think the "Will and Grace" stereotype that all gay men are effeminate was done more damage than good. Anyone that knows more than a handful of gay men knows this is nothing more than a stereotype. In fact, masculine and feminine traits seem to occur in the homosexual male population at pretty much the same rate as the heterosexual population. 

This is why conservatives getting to know masculine gay men tends to shatter the homophobia. Through personal experience, they recognize the effeminate gay male stereotype is just that - a stereotype. It's as if the conservative Sheepdog suddenly thinks "Wow, I've been wrong about these gays all along! I can totally rely on this masculine gay dude when we're protecting the tribe!"

Just like that, the homophobia disappears. Maybe all we need to do is start getting people to understand the homosexual population is no different than the heterosexual population.

So it doesn't quite work like that with all conservatives, but I've witnessed this very thing enough to at least consider this as one potential cause of homophobia. Some religions complicate matters, and this says nothing about the Sheep that may harbor homophobic attitudes, but it's a start. And sometimes that's all that's needed. While yesterday's Supreme Court decision was a huge victory for personal liberty, it also opened the door for an eventual (and more emotional) showdown between the Fourteenth Amendment-protected rights for gay marriage and the First Amendment-protected right of religious liberty. It's in our best interest to investigate the actual causes of homophobia. Until we really understand the construct, any attempt at reconciling the differences between these two groups will fail miserably. And that hurts all of us. 


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Sunday, June 21, 2015

What Type of Man Are You?


Over the last few days, I've spent a great deal of time explaining the ins and outs of my Gender Role Protection Theory, starting with the actual theory, discussing how it applies to political affiliation, and discussing how it applies to homophobia. In this installment, I'm going to talk about the various facets of this theory and how it applies to men. Seems appropriate for Father's Day, huh?

The goal is to give men a little more insight as to where they may fit within this theory. The very first question we'll explore is which side of the "willingness to engage in violence" horizontal axis do you fall? 


Are You Capable of Violence or Not?


Before you answer, it's important to note all of us, assuming we have the physical capability, can be provoked to act violently. History has taught us this with the German population that aided the Holocaust. One of my personal experimental social psychology heroes, Stanley Milgram, also confirmed this idea with his now infamous obedience experiment. The general rule of thumb: You can compel anyone to do pretty much anything if you manipulate the right social and environmental variables.

Now that we have that out of the way, let's answer the question. How do you feel about violence? Ignoring all other information, could you use violence at the drop of a hat with very little provocation? Or are you the type of person that would only use violence as an absolute last resort? People that have the capability to become violent at will do not hesitate to answer this question. There are no qualifiers, there is no discussion. Just an immediate and enthusiastic yes. Those are the folks at the far right side of my graph.

If you did have to pause and consider your answer, you'll likely fall somewhere to the left of those folks. At the extreme left, you'd have people that would rather watch their children get raped and murdered in front of them than resort to violence. Worth noting - that extreme probably does not exist.

Men that are Sheepdogs or Wolves


If you fell somewhere to the right of zero, congratulations! You're violent! Now let's see if you're a Sheepdog or a Wolf. Generally speaking, do you try to help people, or do you try to exploit people? It's okay if you say "it depends"; most of us would answer this question based on specific conditions. 

If you absolutely would always help anyone, any time, anywhere and would never exploit anyone for any reason, you're an unequivocal Sheepdog. Your relish the role of virtuous protector, and you do it well. You can sometimes be harsh with the sheep, but it's done to keep them out of harm's way. You know your herd well and are extremely sensitive to and untrusting of outsiders. Sheepdogs also have a willingness to give up their lives to defend the herd. It's important to note that MOST men are sheep, but will assume a Sheepdog role if the situation warrants. One of the eventual goals of my San Diego Man Camp is helping men learn how to mentally, physically, and emotionally prepare to be better Sheepdogs to be able to protect their loved ones if the shit hits the fan. 

If you never help anyone else, only think of yourself, and are willing to hurt people to get what you want, you're a Wolf. Given you are not burdened with morality or a conscience, you are the epitome of what we consider "evil." You're a hunter that preys on the weakest of the weak from the herd. The better protected the herd, the more likely you'll avoid it and seek a weaker herd. Wolves also have the willingness to risk their lives to get what they want.

Men that are Sheep or Rats


If your answer landed you somewhere left of "zero", you're either a Sheep or a Rat. I know what you're thinking - "Shit, I don't want to be a sheep OR a rat!" Nobody wants to be a rat because, well, they're creepy scavengers that carry disease and eat the bag of Halloween candy we stored in our garage so our nosey little sister wouldn't find it (yes, my disdain for rats is personal.) But Sheep? Aren't they lovable and cuddly? Indeed, but the Internet age has given birth to the purgative term "sheeple", which is a common retort used when we point out ideas like GMO, chemtrails, or 9/11 conspiracies might, in fact, be insane. 

Anyway, if you're nonviolent and prefer to help your fellow human beings, you're a Sheep. You're kind, gentle, and go about your day-to-day routine in as peaceful of a way as possible. You're a bridge-builder that fights for social justice. You help smooth out non-critical problems with nonviolent conflict resolution skills. Your're productive and useful. You are the force that makes our society great. You know there are Wolves out there, but you're confident the Sheepdogs will keep you safe. 

If you're nonviolent and capable of being productive but prefer to mooch off others? Congratulations, you're a Rat! You're nonviolent, so you rely on petty crime like shoplifting, drug dealing, or jacking cars to pay the bills. Sometimes you may stoop to something like welfare fraud or identity theft. Other times you may mooch off or manipulate Sheep (i.e. - friends and family), beg for cash outside the Piggly Wiggly (or the more white middle class version of panhandling - GoFundMe.) You're generally despised by the other groups because you're unwilling to contribute your fair share. Society tolerates you because, like real rats, you're really fucking hard to eliminate without tremendous time, effort, and expense.

As I mentioned in the original post explaining the theory, there's an important difference between Sheep that want to be productive but, because of circumstance, cannot currently be productive and the Rat that can be productive but chooses not to. 

Nice Guys, White Knights, and Social Justice Warriors, MRA's, and The Red Pill


Over the last few months, I've talked about a slew of different "types" of males. I'll explain how each of these groups fits into the theory. 

Let's start with "Nice Guys." If you haven't read it, take a look at this post. It's one of my best. "Nice Guys" are Wolves in Sheep's clothing. They hide among the other sheep that are genuinely decent men. They're not interested in robbing or killing their victims; they're interested in fucking their victims. They mold their persona to match whatever their female target is looking for in a man. Unlike wolves that have no need for emotional attachments, "Nice Guys" require female validation and will do anything to get it. Their most common strategy is to give with the expectation of getting their needs me in return. 

White Knights are the men that will defend women without being asked. In many cases, the "saving behaviors" are unwanted and intrusive. The White Knight will usually be "saving" the woman from guys HE deems as unfit for her. The goal is t hopefully impress the woman enough so she'll have sex with him. White Knights are Sheep through and through, but they've learned to bark like the Sheepdogs. They can usually be identified by extreme peacocking because they rely on people fearing their threats. If they do get themselves into an actual physical confrontation, they'll back down immediately, thus revealing their true Sheep persona. 

Social Justice Warriors (SJW's) appear a bit like White Knights. They're continually defending people, but not just women. They'll defend any minority or oppressed group. Unlike White Knights, SJW's usually have virtuous goals of expanding society to make it better for all of us. The problem with SJW's is their opposition to the Sheepdogs. SJW's believe the world is a fundamentally safe place and believe the Sheepdogs do more harm than good. The problem, of course, is that SJW's have a really difficult time telling the difference between sheep from other herds and the Wolves that are dressed like them. 

Men's Rights Activists (MRA's) are an interesting group I don't discuss much here. This is a group of men made up of Sheepdogs and Sheep that recognize the other Sheep do not like the Sheepdogs and will always try to either convert them to Sheep or ship them off somewhere else (like prison?) The MRA's like to blame the other sheep (especially the eweist sheep.) MRA's fail to see that the ebb and flow of safety and danger is what's responsible for the waxing and waning of "men's rights", not a concerted conspiracy carried out by a particular group or movement. They do serve a useful purpose though. They act as a bit of a buffer to between the Sheepdogs and the Sheep that want to get rid of them. SJW's and MRA's, for what it's worth, engage in some bitter but amusing debates.

The Red Pill folks are another group I've mentioned, but haven't really discussed all that much. They're essentially a group of mostly men (there are a few women that are part of the movement) that sort of do the same thing as the MRA's, but with a different focus. At the heart of it, they're men that have realized masculinity is vilified in times of peace and security and attempt to learn, discuss, and share the new rules of the game. TRP folks could occupy any of the four quadrants, so they could be Sheepdogs, Wolves, Sheep, or Rats. I personally I found their insight to evolutionary psychology-based gender and relationship dynamics to be spot-on (this coming from a dude that's studied sex and gender for about two decades.) Following their long-term relationship advice will result in a happier, healthier relationship than following pop psychology relationship advice. However, a lot of their writings are littered with anti-Feminist dogma (some valid, some not so valid) which scares away a lot of the Sheep that could use their message. Many sheep perceive them as wolves, but I've found that's probably the least-represented animal group in their community. 

Conclusion


Well men, this post should give you a little more insight to where exactly you fit in this theory. Remember, your position is fluid (it can change over time and with new experiences) and situational (you may be in different quadrants based on what's happening around you.) More importantly, you have the power to learn the roles (hopefully you're a Sheep interested in becoming a Sheepdog... we already have too many Wolves and Rats.) 

How would you identify yourself? Leave a comment!


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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Liberals and Conservatives: A Gender Role Protection Theory Explanation

In yesterday's post, I proposed a theory explaining "protection" as the reason gender roles developed. In short, "masculine" gender roles serve as society's protectors, whereas "feminine" gender roles are the protected. That's obviously not the only function each role serves, but it's the foundation. In my theory, we have: 

  • Sheepdogs (the protectors that are willing to use violence to protect), 
  • Wolves (the bad people that are willing to use violence for crime), 
  • Sheep (the friendly, peaceful masses), and 
  • Rats (the nonviolent societal mooches.)

This is what my graph of the types looks like:



I specifically developed this theory to better understand interpersonal attraction and relationships, but the theory can be applied to all kinds of societal issues and constructs. Political affiliation is one such construct. We've known for some time that there appears to me measurable differences between the biology of conservatives and liberals. One of the most significant differences: Liberals have a tendency to think the world is safer than it really is and try to expand society, and conservatives have a tendency to think the world is more dangerous than it really is and try to protect society. As a result, conservatives tend to lean towards the Sheepdog side of the graph and liberals tend to lean toward the Sheep side of the graph.

In times of relative peace (like today in the United States), we don't have a great need for protection. As such, liberals tend to set most of our public policy which is geared toward expanding society to make conditions better for all of us (this is the "progressive" part.) This is manifested in ideas like sex, gender, and racial equality, universal health care, disarming the police and disbanding the military, expanded gun control, clean the environment, open our borders, opposed to the war on terror, etc. When it comes to how they see others that are different than them, liberals tend to be supportive and welcoming because, in a safe environment, strangers aren't a threat to the tribe. Liberals also tend to be more represented in the "helping" fields like education and medicine.

In times of danger (like war, post-9/11, etc.) we have a greater need for protection. As such, conservatives tend to set most of our public policy which is geared toward keeping America safe. That's reflected in support for military spending, keeping people that exhibit feminist characteristics from taking on protection roles (like the military), eliminating gun control, favoring commerce in favor of environmentalism (to be better able to defend ourselves), closing our borders and cracking down on illegal immigration, etc. When it comes to seeing others that are different than them, conservatives are skeptical and cautious because any stranger is a potential threat to the tribe. Conservatives tend to be represented in the "defending" fields like law enforcement and the military.

The tricky part (and annoying for me) is neither side really understands the other. Liberals scream from the top of their lungs "WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU SUCH A PARANOID BIGOT!" while conservatives scream back "WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU SUCH AN OBLIVIOUS HIPPIE!" Neither side really "gets" the other side at all, which results in a perpetual struggle for power to carry out their respective agenda. Liberals would like nothing more for conservatives to go away. Conservatives want the exact same thing.

Based on my theory, I argue both are necessary because sometimes our world does get dangerous and we need protection. And when that danger recedes, we need to expand our society so we can make progress as a species. A quick look at human history reveals a few telling things. First, every culture in the history of forever has had a conservative and a liberal dichotomy. Second, the influence of each ebbed and flowed depending on the specific situation at the time. Third, and probably most significantly, if by some weird chance one group or the other disappears, the society quickly collapses. A society of all liberals is easily overrun because they can't defend themselves. A society of all conservatives quickly collapses because it can't keep up with it's rivals.

The lesson - we NEED both liberals and conservatives to maintain a balanced society.

So How Does This Influence Gender Roles?


It's important to qualify this discussion by stating that "masculine" and "feminine" do not necessarily refer to male and female. A woman can exhibit masculine characteristics and a man can exhibit female characteristics. There are usually specific responsibilities that come with those combinations, such a masculine "protector" woman usually has to do more to prove her worthiness as a protector. Likewise, a feminine male usually has to prove his worthiness as a nurturer. While that may strike us as unfair, it's the small price of violating the conventional norms. It's also important to note that most of us exhibit some combination of masculine and feminine characteristics and will use them depending on the situation. 

Okay, got all that?

Some of the biggest issues we face today have to do with the vilification of masculinity. While many people like to place the blame squarely on the Feminist movement, I call bullshit. Throughout history, every time of relative peace has experienced this move to expand society and promote progress, which almost always includes giving the formerly protected groups more power. This is absolutely necessary because the masculine sheepdogs that keep society safe kinda suck at improving society. 

In Dave Grossman's article I discussed yesterday (and served as the primary inspiration for the theory), he discusses the idea that the sheep fear the Sheepdogs. They have sharp teeth, bark and growl, and are always eager to fight. That's not necessarily all that bad... except the Sheepdog looks a lot like the Wolf. And the sheep SHOULD fear the Wolf, but most do not. Fearing the wolf would mean they would have to accept the world is a dangerous place, and sheep really do not like to do that. They much prefer to go about their daily lives of producing useful shit and making our world a better place. Since the Sheepdogs move freely among the Sheep, they're a constant reminder the wolves are out there, which makes denial really difficult.

The Sheep's solution? They try their damnedest to turn the sheepdogs into sheep. They yank out their teeth, spray paint the Sheepdogs white, and lead them to the pasture. Some Sheepdogs go along, but most simply cannot ignore the Wolves they know exist. This is precisely where the destruction redefining of masculinity comes into play. It's nothing more than the sheep trying desperately to yank the teeth from the Sheepdogs. 

We've had an unprecedented period of relative peace and prosperity. We are, right now, better off than any other humans ever. We're so well off, almost all of our most serious threats to our well-being come from eating too much food. Needless to say, the need for Sheepdogs has never been lower. 

The mistake liberals make is the assumption that this peace and prosperity is linear, not cyclical. A day will come when the shit will hit the fan and the herd will be overrun with wolves. When that happens, we'll once again need the Sheepdogs. It'll be okay, though, because most of the Sheepdogs don't really relinquish their teeth... they just change the way they smile. They're still there; they just learn to say "Baaaa!" instead of "Woof!"

This is a major reason why, as a male that falls pretty far towards the "Sheepdog" side, I've pretty much come to peace with our society's aversion to masculinity. It's also the reason why I don't blame Feminism for stupid shit... the feminists are a major reason why we're enjoying the prosperity we have today. The Sheep build it; the Sheepdogs protect it. Our seemingly new disdain for masculinity is a temporary issue. The real advantage of being a Sheepdog, of course, is that the Sheep simply don't have the capacity to force the Sheepdog to go disappear. We might as well sit back and enjoy our unprecedented progress.

Next time you get in a bitter debate with someone with an opposing political view, chill out a bit. If you're a liberal, realize the Sheepdogs you're talking to have provided and will provide the protection needed to keep us safe. If you're a conservative, realize the Sheep you're talking to are the reason you have such a valuable society to protect. Now kiss and make up. ;-)




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Friday, June 19, 2015

The Protection Theory of Gender Roles: How the Belief in Oppressive Masculinity Harms Our Daughters and Sons

I've been working on a new way to frame gender roles in light of the work I've been doing recently. The old gender theory I used was based on the idea that masculinity was an oppressive force, and femininity was the recipient of that oppression. It's based on the widely-accepted idea that served as the basis for the gender equality movement that has given females legal, career, and educational equality here in the United States. 

This theory is also used to rationalize an implicit or explicit movement to destroy masculinity, usually by compelling men to adopt androgynous or feminine traits. The idea is pretty simple - masculinity is aggressive and violent and domineering and our world would be safe, secure, and peaceful if only we could slay this vile monster. This is almost always framed as attempts to "redefine" masculinity to save males from the oppressive forces flowing through them. 

Sounds logical, right?

I thought so, too, until I started digging deeper and making some weird observations, including:
  • Women, especially during ovulation, are sexually aroused by masculinity.
  • Androgynous or effeminate males do not sexually arouse most women, especially after the "honeymoon" period of relationships end.
  • Almost all men, even those that supposedly accept the idea that women are strong and capable, have a drive to protect women.
  • When a dangerous situation develops, both men and women look for strong masculine figures for protection and leadership.
  • Suppressing and vilifying masculinity has a tendency to produce emotionally-manipulative "Nice Guys."
  • Suppressing and vilifying masculinity discourages females from engaging in masculine activities or displaying masculine personality traits.
  • Relationships without a strong masculine presence (from males or females) tend to end prematurely because the passion dies out and cannot be rekindled.
That's just a partial list I've encountered recently. The deeper I dug, the more apparent it became that masculine and feminine gender roles were not only complimentary, but necessary. According to my previous belief about gender roles, that saddened me because it meant we'd never really be able to eliminate the oppressive force of masculinity.

But what if masculinity wasn't oppressive? What if it were protective? Once I reframed gender that way, shit started to make a lot more sense. The pieces started to come together when my friend Shane sent me an article from Dave Grossman "On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs." The summary - Sheepdogs are the individuals that protect the masses (the sheep) from the bad people (wolves.) The sheepdogs and wolves are the more masculine members of a society; the sheep are the more feminine members of society. The masculine characteristic, in this application, best refers to a willingness to engage in violent behavior. By definition, the feminine characteristic represents an unwillingness to engage in violent behavior. I adopted this dynamic and placed it on a spectrum. All of us will fall somewhere along this spectrum:


The biggest problem I encountered was differentiating between the protector Sheepdogs and the criminal Wolves. Further, aren't there "bad people" sheep? To rectify this issue, I added a vertical axis measuring the broad concept of "giver" and "taker." This dynamic also added a fourth animal to the mix - The RAT. The rat falls in the lower left quadrant of anti-social feminine gender expression.GIVERS are people that give back to their fellow humans. They do pro-social nonviolent activities like volunteering, donating to charities, and generally try to make other people's lives more fulfilling (sheep), and violent pro-social activities like physically incapacitate and/or kill bad people (sheepdogs.) TAKERS, conversely, are selfish and care more about promoting their own welfare. They're more likely to engage in anti-social nonviolent behaviors like stealing, cheating, relying on others for support if they're capable of self-support, and exploiting the weak (rats.) They also engage in violent anti-social behaviors like assaulting, raping, or killing (wolves.) When graphed, it looks like this:

An important key to this theory - gender roles operate independently of genetic or biological sex. In other words, females can be sheepdogs and wolves; males can be sheep and rats. In practice, most of us fall somewhere on the graph, but our position could change based on the environment, social conditions, or internal mental states. Furthermore, our position on the graph can change as a function of time and/or experience. 

Further, your position on the graph is determined by your actions, not your beliefs, morals, or self-perception. Why? Carl Rogers noted this in his explanations of positive psychology - humans, even serial killers, are exceptionally good at rationalizing their behaviors. In other words, we engage in decidedly anti-social behaviors, but convince ourselves that we're actually doing something good for the world. Here's a quick synopsis of each animal's defining characteristics:
  • The Sheepdog - this is the stereotypical police officer, military personnel, or popular leader (think MLK, Gandi, Teddy Roosevelt, etc.) They love their fellow tribe members and will enthusiastically sacrifice their lives to protect others. The farther they fall towards the upper right quadrant, the bigger their tribe they protect. The sheepdog loves the fight and eagerly anticipates the opportunity to defend the tribe. The sheepdog will use violence without hesitation or remorse in order to protect.
  • The Wolf - this is the stereotypical bank robber, rapist, serial killer, or criminal mastermind (think Al Capone, Jeffrey Dahmer, or Ted Bundy.) The wolf is not burdened with a conscience that produces shame, guilt, or remorse. The wolf can exploit, harm, and kill freely. The wolf is also sneaky and ever-vigilant of the sheepdog, which is why the wolf almost always targets the weakest, most vulnerable members of the herd. The wolf, just like the sheepdog, does not hesitate to use violence to get what they want.
  • The Sheep - The sheep are the masses. They're generally peaceful, kind, and go about their lives without too much fanfare. The sheep also engage in pro-social behaviors. Specifically, the sheep help other sheep that need caring for and actively work to make the land more peaceful and accepting for all sheep. The sheep have no inclination for violence, and need extreme provocation to invoke violence (think a mother's child being attacked by a stranger.) The sheep like to feel safe and secure, so they have a tendency to deny the wolves present danger or even exist at all.
  • The Rat - The rats hang around the herd of sheep. They're not going to harm the sheep, but they will take whatever they can get. The rats are scavengers and petty criminals that would rather mooch off others (legally or illegally) than take care of themselves. Rats do not have a propensity for violence, but they may resort to violence if cornered and desperate. Rats CAN take care of themselves, they just choose not to. This is different than a sheep that simply does not have the means to care for itself. 

So back to gender roles. As Grossman pointed out in the linked passage above, the sheep don't really like the sheepdogs all that much because they're kinda scary and look a lot like the wolves. The presence of the sheepdogs interfere with the sheep's denial that the wolves are lurking somewhere around the perimeter. Specifically, the sheepdogs have sharp teeth and sometimes do scary dog stuff like growl and bark and play fight. But the sheepdog are necessary to protect the sheep from the wolves. While the rats don't threaten the safety of the sheep, they can can annoy them by stealing their food and other important shit. The sheepdogs are there to take care of the rats, too. 

Let's take a look at a real-world example. In the last post, I talked about the danger in the "rape culture" idea that's become a bit of a fourth wave feminist fad. Rapists are wolves. The reason they're so dangerous is wolves are really sneaky. They know how to pick out the weakest sheep in the herd and either isolate and attack by surprise -OR- dress up and act like a fellow sheep. The sheepdogs are there to stop the wolf from preying on the weakest of the sheep. 

The problem with believing gender roles are based on the idea that masculinity exists to oppress femininity should be obvious. It gives the herd of sheep a rationale to compel the sheepdog (using Grossman's analogy) to "redefine masculinity" by yanking out his teeth, spray painting herself white, and joining the herd of sheep. And yes, that pronoun was intentional you sexist fucks. ;-)

This theory of gender roles serving a protecting role explains all sorts of weird phenomena, which I'll address in a future post. 

Conclusion


Framing gender roles as masculine = oppression, feminine = oppressed not only is inaccurate, but it actively harms us. It gives people the rationale to destroy redefine masculinity to the detriment of society in general and interpersonal relationships in particular. Further, it robs people of the freedom of self-expression. In a just society, there's absolutely no acceptable rationale to prevent people, regardless of genetic or biological sex, from assuming whatever gender role they wish. The folks that wish to redefine masculinity are robbing us of that freedom of expression. Ironic, considering most rationalize their advocacy on the grounds of giving men the freedom from masculinity. While I wholeheartedly support giving men the freedom from masculinity, it's not really freedom if we don't give men the freedom to be masculine. 

I have two sons. One displays considerably more feminine characteristics; the other displays considerably more masculine characteristics. Am I really supposed to fully accept the former while trying to change the latter? To me, that's as morally repugnant as disowning one of them if they were gay or a trans female. 

And what about women? They deserve that exact same freedom to be masculine if they choose. My daughter is probably the most masculine of all my children. I cannot, in good conscience, look her in the eye and tell her she can't roughhouse with her brothers, assume leadership of a group, or punch a bully to defend a victim on the playground. Odds are good she's going to be a Sheepdog. Interfering with that is as bad as indoctrinating her to believe her place is barefoot in the kitchen serving her man. 

Masculinity and femininity are complimentary, not adversarial. We need them both. More importantly, we need to give all genetic and biological sexes the freedom to express whatever gender they wish in whatever situation they wish. As I mentioned in the rape culture article, as long as we cannot screen the general population and cull the antisocial personality disorder folks, we're going to have wolves preying on the sheep. We need the sheepdogs, and there's no justifiable reason we should prevent anyone, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, age... whatever, from fulfilling that role. 

That, in my book, is what "gender equality" really means.


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Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Problem With "Rape Culture" and How to Actually Fix the Problem of Sexual Assault




Over the last few weeks, my research on developing the San Diego Man Camp has brought me to some interesting places. One of the most fascinating has been an exploration of "rape culture." While I've been aware of the idea of rape culture in feminist circles for a very long time, I did not follow recent developments by many of the the fourth-wave feminists. 

After doing a lot of reading, all I can do is shake my head and say "Wow." 

What is Rape Culture?


By definition, "rape culture" is:

A concept in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality.

This sociological concept was first introduced in the 1970's as an effort of second-wave feminists to raise awareness of the prevalence of sexual assault in our society. Prior to their efforts, most Americans assumed rape was an incredibly rare occurrence. Further, most people did not understand that any nonconsensual sexual encounter constituted rape. For example, the ideas of "date rape" and "spousal rape"not only didn't exist, in some cases they were legal due to legal codification.

Needless to say, this effort was both virtuous and needed. And successful.

By the 1990's (when I started studying sex and gender), we had moved well beyond the overly-simplified societal construct of "rape culture" and started looking at individuals. The scientific community correctly identified a slew of antecedents to sexual assault and spend a lot of time and effort to continue digging deeper. Researchers were searching for more reliable and valid antecedents, searching for better triage methods to determine who could most benefit from intervention, and searching for more effective interventions.

By the late 90's, I was teaching high school psychology full-time and backed away from sex and gender research. I did, however, teach comprehensive units on anything and everything we knew about sexual assault and domestic violence. It was my attempt at making a difference.

Eventually I left teaching, traveled a bit, then started blogging about sex and gender here on the Sexpressionists blog. That eventually led to exploring the state of modern relationships. Using my background in second and third wave feminist theory, I started exploring the sex-positive third wave movement and how modern couples are really bad at keeping the spark of passion alive long-term, which led me to publish No Bone Zone. There were some weird gender role implications that didn't quite make sense, which led me to my recent exploration of how we treat gender roles as a society.

Eventually that led me to a few interactions with "rape culture" advocates. Based on their level of discourse and apparent knowledge of sexual assault, I dismissed them as naive people that got their information from memes more often than published literature. It popped up enough, however, to cause me to do a little more digging. That's the point where I discovered the fourth wave feminists, many of which were too young to remember the 90's. It became immediately apparent their concept of "rape culture" wasn't based on the science we've been collecting for years; it was based on vague sociological writings that were based off anecdote. 

My Theoretical Underpinnings


Before I get to the nuts and bolts of my discussion, it's important to lay out my exact current philosophical belief about sex, gender, sexual assault, etc. I'm a staunch supporter of equality. More specifically, I believe all of us, regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, marital status, body weight, breakfast cereal preference, or whatever other demographic grouping we care to create, all have a fundamental right to equal opportunity, equal possibility, and equal responsibility. 

This does NOT mean we give preferential treatment to one group over another group in a way that interferes with equal opportunity, possibility, or responsibility. This also does not mean all of us have a right to equal outcomes, nor does it mean everyone should be given equal resources. We have a strong, stable socioeconomic system in the United States, and we enjoy incredible political stability. Yes, we have a lot of crazy extremists all over the place, but the crazy balances out nicely. 

In regards to sexual assault - it's a horrible crime that all of us should work towards eliminating. It affects individuals in negative ways, most of the time devastatingly and profoundly. The ripple effects of sexual assault not only affect the individual, but everyone within that individual's sphere of influence. In short - it fucks people up, and it fucks our society up. HOWEVER, we also have to understand that we currently do not have the tools to completely eradicate sexual assault. No matter what we do as a society, we cannot control all of the worst offenders - serial rapists that have no conscience (those that are afflicted with antisocial personality disorder.) We have trouble identifying them, catching them, keeping them incarcerated, and fixing them. Unless we can develop and implement Gattaca-like technology, we'll always have wolves roaming among the sheep. Anyone that believes otherwise is woefully and dangerously naive. 

That last part is important because it gives us the rationale to teach people how to avoid being victimized, which is one of my big beefs with the "rape culture" advocates.

But Wait, You Can't Speak For Me!!!


When discussing this issue and taking a stance critical of rape culture, pretty much every opponent will play the "you're a straight white cis-gendered middle class male, you can't speak for me/ have an opinion/ not understand this issue!" My response to that?


"Fuck you."


I can say with absolute certainty I've spent more time digging around the science of this issue than 99.9% of the people that buy into the modern idea of rape culture. I was trained as an experimental psychologist with degrees in psychology and history, both of which focused on sex and gender (the history degree focused on the social aspect of 20th century America.) I taught these concepts for over a decade, have read thousands of peer-reviewed empirical published studies related to sex and gender, and have written hundreds of articles about sex and gender. 

None of that really matters though. I'm human and I care about others. That's all the qualification I need to discuss the issue. If more is needed, this issue is personal. I have an uncomfortable number of people in my life that have been raped. As a parent of three kids, I need this to change. As such, I have little tolerance for dumbass ideas that aren't going to affect real change.

Lastly, the "you belong to this group, therefore your opinion is invalid" stance is hypocritical as fuck. That's doubly true if you're unfamiliar with the actual research that's been done on sexual assault and the antecedents and interventions that has been conducted over the last four decades. If you're supposedly supporting equality, you don't get to pick and choose which people have a "right" to speak. By playing that card, you're engaging in the exact same behaviors you're supposedly rallying against. If you do not understand that, it's probably best you stop talking about equality. You're doing more harm than good. 

What Does Rape Culture Get Right?


The idea of "rape culture" isn't entirely bad. In fact, many of the observations, on the surface, are accurate. The real problem comes from the explanation of the observations, which tend to be laughably inaccurate. But there are some rays of sunshine that poke through the clouds.
  • Our tendency to blame the victim. This is one of the most significant aspects of sexual assault. When we blame victims for the crime, it increases the likelihood of the perpetrator getting off with little or no punishment. Since most rapists tend to be repeat offenders, our failure to remove them from the population automatically makes the problem worse. The problem, which I'll elaborate on later, is that this idea isn't unique to sexual assault. We do this all the time with pretty much anything and everything negative.
  • Some populations do actually actively or passively encourage rape. The idea that our entire society condones rape is flat-out stupid. However, there are specific groups and populations that DO implictly or explicitly encourage rape. It doesn't take a lot of digging on the Interwebz to find these groups. I refuse to link to them for ethical reasons. 
  • Porn is a problem. I love porn. I think porn is a net win for society. Unfortunately, porn is just like violent movies and video games... it's rarely an accurate depiction of real life. The problem arises when porn consumers assume porn is real life. This is obviously a problem with rape-themed porn (which caters to the rape fantasy crowd which is sort of an offshoot of the BDSM community and very different than actual sexual assault.) Since porn is now ridiculously easy to find and view, we'd be well-served to start teaching our kids about porn in the same way we talk to them about media violence.
  • We need "consent education." Most people get piss-poor sex education, which leads to a lot of bad sexual decisions. The idea of consent is one such blind spot. While it's easy to assume people should know exactly what consent is and how it's applied, that assumption comes with some serious consequences. I believe we could eliminate a great deal of acquaintance rape if we did this. We NEED to teach everyone at a young age (I recommend 10) exactly what consent means.

What Does Rape Culture Get Wrong


Almost all of the problems related to the belief of "rape culture" come from a misattribution of elements of sexual assault. This becomes problematic when we try to develop solutions for those various elements. 
  • Rape culture promotes the belief that we currently have the capability to end all sexual assault if only we could push through the appropriate agenda. This is one of the most dangerous failings of rape culture because it's often used as a rationale to avoid teaching people how to avoid getting raped. As I mentioned earlier, until we understand exactly what antecedents lead to sexual assault and develop effective interventions, we'll never completely eliminate rape. Given that about 3-4% of our population can be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, this shouldn't even be debatable. 
  • Blaming sexual assault on "culture" diffuses responsibility. Rape is 100% the fault of the perpetrator. The moment we say "we live in a culture that normalizes rape", we reduce that 100% number, thus giving the perps an excuse. "Hey, I can't help it. I was raised in a culture that normalizes rape!
  • Rape culture creates a generalized fear of men and situations, which severely handicaps our innate intuition to recognize actual danger. Gavin de Becker, one of the world's foremost experts on personal protection, wrote an excellent book called "The Gift of Fear." I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone and everyone. Basically, we get so many false positives, we can't respond when actual danger presents itself. This puts us in situations we'd normally avoid. Our intuition is our best defense against all forms of violence, including sexual assault. 
  • Blaming vague social constructs like "patriarchy" or "masculinity" without regard for specific dispositional characteristics, and automatically assigning these traits to all men while ignoring women that may have the same traits creates the very situation the first and second wave feminists fought so hard to fix. We have a pretty decent idea which personality characteristics are most often correlated to sexual assault, and they include hypermasculinity, hostile beliefs about women, a desire to be in control, and an acceptance of violence against women. Not all men possess these traits. Furthermore, some women possess them, too. We cannot solve the problem of sexual assault by relying on lazy stereotyping. 
  • "Rape culture" fails to identify actual antecedents to sexual assault. This is a severe problem with the entire field of sociology, which is why it's important to view social problems with multiple levels of analysis. This is glaringly obvious when rape culture proponents are asked for actionable, effective solutions. They come up with dumbass ideas like "let's start a petition" or "let's raise awareness." No, fuckers, we advanced past that point decades ago. Study the literature before you open your mouth.
  • The current paradigm limits prevention interventions to educating college-age males, usually about acquaintance rape. Because rape culture advocates fail to see the individual antecedents to sexual assault, they also fail to create interventions that work. While on-campus programs are better than nothing, we have a knowledge base that could be used to develop far more effective (and early) interventions. 
  • Victim-blaming, police indifference, or supporting the accused by friends and family are not unique to rape. Other ideas like slut-shaming and sexual objectification are completely misunderstood. We don't blame victims because we support rape. We blame victims because of the just-world theory. Police aren't indifferent to rape victims because they support rape. Police are indifferent because they habituate to the pain and suffering they see daily. It's a defense mechanism experienced by doctors, nurses, military personnel, even teachers. The friends and family don't support rape if they support the accused. That's just the human drive to protect members of our in-group. Slut-shaming? That's a strategy women use on each other to disqualify sexual rivals. Sexual objectification? That's our biological imperative; both males and females are physiologically-aroused by the bodies of the members of the sex we're attracted to. 
  • Conflation with Marxism. I can only assume this is a function of fourth-wave feminists learning their ideals from radical left-leaning college professors. This idea first came to light when I stumbled upon a blog post ranting about the dangers of rape culture... and the blogger had a picture of Che Guevara in the sidebar. If you don't understand the problem with this idea, check out some historical primary sources on the actual treatment of women in communist countries. 

The Real Solution to Sexual Assault


At the most basic level, I'm a pragmatist. If there's a problem, I want to solve it. I have zero interest in creating and continuing problems just to fuel a greater agenda. That inspired my opinions about sexual assault when I first studied sex and gender in the 90's, and it still inspired my opinions today. We know far more about sexual assault than the rape culture advocates state, which means we have the ability to develop far better intervention strategies to actually reduce the instances of sexual assault. Here are a few of my recommendations:
  • Teach age-appropriate comprehensive sex ed starting in elementary school, complete with a discussion on consent, the different types of sexual assault, the warning signs, methods to avoid it, and pornography education (treat porn like video games.) Americans, as a whole, are sexual morons. Personally I blame abstinence-only sex education programs. If we taught a huge swath of our children about the topics I just listed, we'd immediately see a significant drop in sexual assault. 
  • Teach everyone self-defense, including situational awareness and basic physical self-defense. This does not mean we're blaming the victim if they get raped. We know rapists prey on the weakest members of the herd, most notably those that are unlikely to fight back, are chronically oblivious to real dangers in their environment, and those that lack the assertiveness to say "no." Shit, we could cut the numbers of rapes by 80% if we did this. I would go as far to say that advising people to avoid learning to defend themselves should be considered criminally negligent. Aside from reducing the number of rapes, it would dramatically reduce the number of potential victims that DO NOT have the capability to learn to defend themselves, which makes it a whole lot easier for the rest of us to protect them. Let's assume there are 100 million people in the US that we could identify as being at high risk of sexual assault. If we train them in self-defense using a program like IMPACT, we could dramatically reduce the number of people at high risk. 
  • Teach us how to understand inter-gender communication better. This is actually addressed in the IMPACT classes I mentioned above, and I've written about it here on the blog. Men and women are really, really bad at understanding each other's communication methods. It's not a mystery, but we have to be willing to do the research. It's what inspired my series on understanding females and a major reason I started the San Diego Man Camp
  • Acknowledge that alcohol is a huge problem, then devise strategies to mitigate it. Much like porn, I love alcohol. A lot. But it's also a factor in around half of all sexual assaults and affects both the perp and the victim. It clouds our ability to communicate, impairs judgment, and lowers inhibitions. I don't like the idea of outlawing shit (that's my libertarian leanings rearing their ugly head), so I'd fully support adding discussions on alcohol to comprehensive education programs for kids. I'd also support teaching ideas like using designated sober people to watch over drunk friends in situations where sexual assault could be a possibility. 
  • Fund research to further understand the genetic and early life correlational and causal antecedents to sexual assault (like history of physical, verbal, and/or sexual abuse, ADHD, conduct disorder, hypersexuality, sociosexuality, impulse-control, antisocial behavior, hostility toward a person's preferred sex/gender), and continue to develop early intervention strategies. We can't change genes and have limited ability to influence biology and personality, but we may be able to prevent them from influencing us from committing sexual assault if we can influence the negative environmental influences that cause the gene expression. In other words, we need to abandon culture-blaming and focus on individuals.
  • Understand the actual purpose of gender roles in sex and relationships and work to preserve them, not extinguish them. This involves reassessing the idea that patriarchy developed because of male power versus a mutually-beneficial protection paradigm (to be discussed soon in another blog post.) Feminism has done a lot of great things for our society and other societies around the world. Feminism hasn't been infallible, though. There are some abysmal failures, and almost all have to do with messing around with attempting to change gender roles. Here are a few things we need to change:
    • We can't stop "objectifying" each other without stopping our sex drive. Scantily-clad women cause men (and the reverse, too) to become sexually-aroused. No amount of shaming or "educating" changes that. We could change it... if we also eliminate our desire to reproduce.
    • The more we require a mechanization of sex, the less people will buy into the ideas that are sold. Sex is fun. If it's consensual, it should be fun for all parties involved. I've come across people that suggest we use formal contracts before any sexual encounter. I've also come across people that suggest positive consent be required for every single sexual act, so Sally would be required to say "May I kiss your lips? May I stroke your arm? May I fondle your genitalia?" Those are noble ideas. They're also idiotic ideas that ignore how people actually have sex.
    • Vilifying masculinity and insisting men act more feminine will never work as long as women are sexually aroused by masculinity. Hypermasculinity IS an antecedent to sexual assault, which has led to a widespread belief that we can make the world safe for women by killing masculinity (the gender role, not "kill all men".) This is almost always expressed as a call to redefine masculinity, which is essentially turning men into androgynous beings or feminized men. Either way, this is incredibly damaging to any man that doesn't naturally gravitate towards a feminine gender expression (which I fully support, by the way... that's a freedom I demand based on my concept of equality.) This idea not only undermines how interpersonal attraction functions, it's horrifically unethical. Saying we'd solve a lot of problems if only men would act more like women is exactly the same as saying all black people could solve their problems by acting like white people. Masculinity isn't the problem. Rapists are the problem. Conflating the two because of a correlation is flat-out stupid.
    • Seduction is not egalitarian, and men aren't always in the driver's seat. This is a tricky problem that has to do with our inability to communicate. Seduction involves some sort of pushing and pulling with one person taking the lead. Based on my own observations, younger people today are really, really bad at flirting, mostly because men are hyper-vigilant about pursuing if a woman uses any sort of coquette-like seduction strategy. This has given rise to concepts like "friend-zones", white-knighting, and a host of other weird interpersonal relations. Telling people to not engage in seduction is about as effective as telling people to stop using drugs, stop having sex, or stop breathing. The only viable solution here is to educate people on inter-gender communication so men get better at discriminating when a woman is seducing versus being nice and women get better at discriminating when men are being assertive or giving off signals that indicate they're probably a rapist. 
  • Keep both fathers and mothers in the picture unless they're shitty role models. This idea can be extended to gay or lesbian couples, too. In my Utopia, all kids would have great role models that would give them a framework to understand whatever gender role they associate with. Ideally, their parents would also provide great role models for a solid, healthy romantic relationship. Unfortunately, less than 25% of families fit that mold. Keeping decent relationships together was a major motivator for writing No Bone Zone, and my borderline-militant support of gay marriage serves the same purpose. Kids need role models, and this is probably more significant today for males. If a relationship is toxic, it needs to end... but far too many people throw in the towel for silly reasons (like "the sex got boring".)

Conclusion


The persistent belief in "rape culture" not only is bad science, but potentially harmful. We need to closely examine how and why we buy into this idea, which includes carefully examining the available research. I intentionally left out most links to the published research because I write colloquially, not academically. For those that insist on data, Knight, Knight, and McBride provide a phenomenal overview of the data that can be found on the National Online Resource for Violence Against Women website

Rape is a ridiculously damaging crime that requires a level of discourse that goes far beyond the trivial nature of "rape culture" proponents. If you're not convinced, dig though the VAW link above. Educate yourself and be skeptical of topical dogma. Don't just be an advocate that raises awareness. Holding up a hand-written sign for a social media selfie, contrary to popular belief, doesn't actually solve problems.  Actually do something to make a difference.


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Friday, June 12, 2015

Why Feminism Jumped the Shark



Let's play a fun little game. Warning: It's going to cause the vast majority of you some degree of discomfort. For some, it may even cause you to <gasp> reevaluate your thought process. All I ask is that you hold off on the venomous emails until you've read the entire post. 

Anyway, read the following passage taken from a KKK website. As you read through the list, carefully analyze your physiological state. Notice your mood. Pay attention to how you feel. After reading the passage, close your eyes and really savor your visceral reaction.

Enjoy!

Ten Ways Black People Can Become Better White Allies to the White Power Movement

  • Understand that white people are leading the way and affirm their capable leadership. Don’t assert yourself at the forefront.
  • When it comes to issues that directly pertain to white experiences, be quiet and listen.
  • Back people don’t get to determine if they are “allies” to the white movement. White people do.
  • Take responsibility for addressing black people's issues with other black people, rather than expecting white people in the white supremacy movement to do all of the work.
  • Use your black privilege to encourage other black people to work towards racial equality under white people's leadership.
  • Don’t use the label of ‘white ally’ as a way to try to get white people to like you — that’s disingenuous and counterproductive.
  • When given opportunities to execute professional tasks related to white supremacy issues, consider referring other white people instead.
  • Educate yourself about the history of white supremacy and how white people of different backgrounds have approached the movement.
  • Acknowledge that sometimes, white people need opportunities to discuss white supremacy issues without the presence of black people. And that’s okay.
  • When white people criticize your involvement in white supremacy, don’t talk over them or talk down to them. Actively listen and be accountable.
Take a moment before reading on. 



Close your eyes and process how you feel right now.



Got it?



Okay, let's move on. Based on the title of this post, you probably realized this game by the second or third item on the list. It's not produced by the KKK to instruct "white allies"; it's a modified list written by a feminist to male allies to the feminist movement. Here's the actual list if you don't want to follow the link:


  • Understand that women are leading the way and affirm their capable leadership. Don’t assert yourself at the forefront.
  • When it comes to issues that directly pertain to women’s bodies and experiences, be quiet and listen.
  • Men don’t get to determine if they are “allies” to the feminist movement. Women do.
  • Take responsibility for addressing men’s issues with other men, rather than expecting women in feminism to do all of the work.
  • Use your male privilege to encourage other men to work towards gender equality under women’s leadership.
  • Don’t use the label of ‘feminist’ as a way to try to get women to like you — that’s disingenuous and counterproductive.
  • When given opportunities to execute professional tasks related to feminist issues, consider referring other women instead.
  • Educate yourself about the history of feminism and how women of different backgrounds have approached the movement.
  • Acknowledge that sometimes, women need opportunities to discuss feminist issues without the presence of men. And that’s okay.
  • When women criticize your involvement in feminism, don’t talk over them or talk down to them. Actively listen and be accountable.
I've been spending a great deal of time studying sex and gender over the last few months starting with the writing of No Bone Zone, writing posts on the nature of women, "Nice Guys", and beta males, right up to the development of the San Diego Man Camp (still consisting of just a Facebook group.) During that time, I've interacted with a lot of individuals and couples. I've also read extensively on the current understanding of the nature of gender roles, including "The Red Pill" communities and blogs. 

One thing became abundantly clear - there are a whole lotta people out there that really do not like feminists. Assuming this was just a matter of bias in my research (I focused on couples that were in trouble, people that had recently ended relationships, and men that had some reason to not trust women), I largely ignored the anti-feminist sentiment. Really, I just found it hard to believe so many people were opposed to the goals of feminism.

Back in the day, I had a lot of great feminist thinkers as mentors that helped shape my ideas of social justice. The first lesson I learned was the idea that everyone should have equal opportunity and equal responsibility. The second lesson I learned (what is essentially referred to as "Queer theory" these days) is that sex, gender, and sexual orientation all occur on a spectrum and we should have the freedom to fall anywhere along those spectrums. There is no justification for a gay African American transsexual female to face any other institutional barriers than me, a straight white cis-gendered male. 

To this day, this philosophy is a foundation for pretty much every one of my ideas and opinions about anything and everything from my teaching methods to parenting to how my relationships work. Hell, the entire premise of No Bone Zone is essentially derived from ideas postulated by the modern-day sex positive feminists. Needless to say, I'm intimately familiar with feminism. I didn't get why so many people seemed to hate a movement, especially since everyone I asked supported the idea of gender equality. I dug around for some research to persuade myself this was just a fluke. Unfortunately, it wasn't. This poll pretty much summed up what I had observed, and this study gave a little insight.

Back in my more activist-ish days, I was used to most people reacting negatively to the more extreme versions of feminism (like Dworkin or MacKinnon), but nothing on this scale. Curiosity led me to investigate more. What I found was both surprising and disappointing. The new-found widespread disdain for feminism seems to result from a confluence of issues.  Some is related to a few of the second and third wave feminists' failed ideas (like feminizing men, convincing women they could put off having kids in favor of a career without negative consequences, and the destruction of male-only spaces.)

Most of the disdain, however, is directly related to the perception that feminists hate men. It doesn't matter if it's real or imagined, the vast majority of men AND women do not like that narrative because it directly contradicts the supposed goal of feminism - gender equality. The problem with modern feminism, especially the newest "4th wave", is that feminists have seemingly lost sight of the fact that our society is pretty damn equal and continually attacking stupid shit (can anyone say "mansplaining" or "manspereading"?) or important shit related to flirting, dating, and relationships ("We need to stop men from approaching women in bars!") is going to turn off almost everyone. Which is exactly what's happening.

Remember the exercise from the beginning of this post? The first passage dealing with race was probably horribly offensive to anyone and everyone except this guy. But what about the second? It was written by a feminist on a site that also featured several articles explaining why feminists don't hate men. I've found far too many feminists are completely clueless that they're actually spewing out pretty hateful shit and they rationalize it away under the virtuous umbrella of "social justice." Hate is hate is hate.

I hypothesize many young feminists have come of age in a society where the vast majority of the population supports gender equality, yet they're fed a steady diet of "women are victims of patriarchy" messages. This leads them to call out (a wonderful byproduct of social media </sarcasm>) men for every imagined sleight they perceive. For example - slut-shaming. Slut-shaming isn't a male construct. It's a female construct. Women do it to disqualify potential competitors for male attention. Yet men are still blamed for it. 

Modern feminism has other issues, too. It doesn't help that far too many have conflated Marxist ideals with third-wave feminist ideals, which is never a popular message in a blended, democratic economy. Feminists' tendency to shame women for their decisions certainly doesn't help (see "mommy wars".) The rest of the population, females especially, see that for what it is - really, really stupid behavior. The net effect is to simply write feminists off as crazy activists with too much time on their hands.

I personally have a problem with this because a) we still have pockets of our society where gender equality is NOT the norm (I'm talking to you, STEM industry), and b) there are parts of the world where women are brutalized and actually need advocates. Instead, we have feminists fighting for people to think they're presentable even if they're not wearing makeup, fighting battles that were won decades ago, fighting to stop others from making judgments about them, or fighting to stop guys from being interested in dating them

In other words, people don't like feminism because it's become a ridiculous, laughable caricature of what it once was. Sadly, the same fundamentals of ruthlessly fighting for legal and institutional equality IS still needed in places today, but the entire movement has moved itself into the realm of irrelevant. I would like to be optimistic and think someone somewhere will come along and right the ship, but I don't think that'll happen. The entire fourth wave of feminism is doomed because they don't understand the things they're fighting against have nothing to do with patriarchy, and in most cases, have nothing to do with men or oppression. Worse, they're blinded to the fact that their perceived hatred of men is going to keep them marginalized by the masses that have a more accurate view of reality. People are smart. They see through bullshit, even when it's done in the name of gender equality.



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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Everything You've Ever Wanted to Ask About Threesomes

I get a regular stream of questions about threesomes. All of the posts I've written that mention threesomes get a significant amount of traffic. It's abundantly clear this is a popular topic. After skimming the 'Web, I was disappointed to find very few "frequently asked questions" articles covering threesomes, so here ya go! 

Not all questions will be applicable to all people in all situations, so just ignore those that have no bearing on your situation. The questions are not organized in any particular order. If you have a question that's not answered or a question is inadequately answered (I'm intentionally brief), feel free to post it as a comment and I'll answer as soon as possible.

Disclaimer - I'll make this point throughout the post, but it's important enough to explicitly spell out: I do not believe threesomes (or any variation of social sexuality) is right for all people in all situations. Social sexuality can get really messy really fast, and far too many people jump in the pool and drown. If you or your partner is uneasy about dabbling in social sexuality, proceed with extreme caution.

Are threesomes moral?

Some say yes; some say no. That's for you and your partner to decide. Me personally? I'm cool with pretty much anything as long as all parties are adults and have consented to said activities.

Fantasy versus reality... is it really worth it?

For many, the fantasy of threesomes is enough to inject excitement into a boring relationship. Fantasy is great because you have complete control over the situation. In a real threesome, introducing a third party always complicates matters. Always start with fantasies. Let them play out for a while. Eventually you'll know if you want to take the next step and make fantasy a reality.

How do I convince my significant other to try a threesome?

I actually wrote an entire piece on this (and it's my most popular post here.) 

What if my spouse wants a threesome?

If your spouse comes to you with a request to have a threesome, consider why they're asking. Assess the health of the relationship. If things are solid, it's usually okay to entertain the idea. If the relationship is on the rocks, this is sort of like a desperate hail Mary. It may save the relationship, but odds are good it'll be a final nail in the coffin.

What if one of us is into it but the other isn't?

This is what I like to refer to as the "initiator"/"compomiser conundrum." The initiator is the person that presents the idea. The compromiser is the person that reluctantly agrees. This sets up a situation that will likely turn out to be really, really bad. Most commonly, the initiator will have a blast while the compromiser silently suffers with feelings of jealousy, envy, insecurity, or inadequacy. Less likely, the compromiser has a blast and the initiator is left out to experience the negative emotions. either way, the relationship is destabilized. I would go as far as to say having both people totally into it is a fundamental prerequisite to having a threesome. 

What's the worst that could happen?

Worst-case scenario: Your partner could leave you for a more attractive, richer, more sexually-adventurous person and leave you to die alone crippled with a variety of sexually-transmitted diseases. 

Or, more likely, the threesome will cause problems that doom the relationship. Social sexuality is a risky activity that should be avoided by the faint-of-heart.

I don't know if we can handle this emotionally. Is there any sort of test we could do?

Take baby steps. Does talking about it elicit negative emotions? How about watching your partner flirt? Or dance with someone else? Get a blow-up sex doll; have your partner fuck it. How does that make you feel? 

All of these things can be used to get a feel for your emotional response. Having said that, social sexuality can and does evoke unexpected emotions. For some, those emotions are really, really positive. For others? Not so much. 

Take baby steps.

I'm interested in finding a couple for a threesome; what should I know?

If you're a single man or woman (or part of a couple and your partner either gives you  a "hall pass" or you're doing this behind their back), finding a couple is fairly straight-forward. I'd recommend the 'Web. There are a lot of great "social sexuality" websites and apps out there. If you're female, relatively attractive, and not insane, you'll find plenty of opportunities. If you're male, you have A LOT of competition. You need to be on top of your game.

Other than that, my best advice would be to find a compatible couple. You can find couples looking for what is essentially a living, breathing sex toy (they're going to use you) to couples that are looking for a long-term triad (polyamorous love triangle.) Figure out what you want, then search out the appropriate couple.

Should we choose a male or female?

This is a surprisingly complex question and probably has more to do with your relationship dynamics than anything else. Some things to consider: The same-sex member of the couple is likely going to experience the most jealousy and insecurity. For example, in a MMF threesome, the dude in the relationship will invariably compare himself to the third wheel. If he's more insecure, it would be better to go with a FFM threesome instead. 

Also consider the bisexuality angle. If you're choosing a female, will the girls play together? If it's a guy, will they be crossing swords? It's more common for girls in social sexuality to be "bi-comfortable", but there are still plenty of guys that aren't going to flip out in the presence of another dude's erection. 

Should we choose a friend or a stranger?

Both have pros and cons. Friends are known entities, may be more trustworthy, and can be available for repeat performances. However, if things don't go well, the friendship may end. Even if they do go well, it's hard to avoid some sort of drama afterward. Strangers eliminate that problem and help assure anonymity, but also might turn out to be really weird or crazy (assuming that's not what you're looking for.) If you and your partner are totally cool with completely random, physical sexual encounters with no strings attached, strangers are usually a safer bet.

If you DO decide to recruit a friend, I'd recommend making a list together. Make three headings: Would, Maybe, and Pass. Start going through the people you'd consider. Place them in one list. If they're in the "maybe" column, discuss why. Minimally, this activity will give you a very good idea of exactly what you're looking for in a third.

What if we have different tastes?

"I like women with huge tits and a plump ass; she likes women that are rail-thin supermodels. What do we do?"

Compromise. Either find someone that you both dig or take turns. 

Is it okay to use a "disposable" person?

This was a weirdly-phrased question that was essentially asking "Is it okay to treat the third wheel like a human sex toy?" My answer - assuming it's okay with the third person, sure! Ideas like respect and dignity are overused in the realm of sexuality. Some people really get off on knowing they're being used, and being used by a couple is even more arousing. The key is full disclosure - make sure the third knows exactly what you're expecting from the experience. Do no, under any circumstances, lure a third into a threesome under false pretenses. 

Which partner does the asking?

I highly recommend the same-sex partner always does the initial contacting. For example, if you're setting up a FFM threesome, have the woman do the planning. If it's a MMF threesome, leave it to the dude.

How do I know if my partner is really into this or is just doing it for me?

You can't fake real passion. You'll know. 

If it turns out they're just going along to appease you, do both of you a favor and stop. Half-assing threesomes is never enjoyable and always results in a shitty outcome eventually.

Should we choose someone in "The Lifestyle?"

"The lifestyle" refers to people that engage in social sexuality, usually swingers, polyamourous folks, or some variation between those two. There are both single males and single females that are involved in the lifestyle specifically for the threesome experience. Odds are good they know what they're doing and are a safer bet than a random stranger or a friend. It's not their first rodeo, and when it comes to threesomes, experience matters.  

Who is going to be the center of attention?

Remember that Friends episode when Carol sets up a threesome with Ross and Susan? The ladies go at it and more or less leave Ross out?

Avoid that by having a discussion beforehand. While a lot of the threesome experience awesomeness is serendipitous, having a ballpark idea of what you want to happen goes a long way. If one or both people are givers, make the third the focus. If one of you like being the center of attention, make that the focus of the threesome. If both of you like attention, either alternate during the threesome or shift focus between different threesomes. 

Sex has a lot of symbolic meaning for me. Should I go forward?

"Symbolism" of sexuality is, in my opinion, one of the biggest social sexuality red flags that exists. If you attach a lot of meaning to sex in general or specific sex acts in particular (like kissing, cumming on her face, etc.), threesomes probably will not be for you. Or at the very least you might want to consider more of the "poly" love triad idea than the casual sex threesome. 

What questions do I ask a potential third?

Determine what both of you want out of the experience, then devise questions that will determine if the third is a fit or not. This is a process that requires a little trial and error. In the beginning, it's perfectly okay to err on the side of asking too many questions.

What should I expect? expect enthusiasm

Threesomes are like fingerprints - each one is different and sometimes they get really dirty. There's usually a little more awkwardness than expected, so it helps to have a good sense of humor and the ability to keep things very light-hearted. Also, expect your partner to be far more into it than they are when you engage in your "we have three minutes before Game of Thrones" quickies. Sexual novelty is intensely arousing for both men and women, and we do all kinds of kinky, unexpected shit when we're really aroused. Expect your partner to bust out shit you may not have seen since you were first dating. Or ever. Don't take it personally, and understand you'll get a taste of that enthusiasm in the days and weeks afterward. 

Is the sex really all that good? Don't you need a deep emotional connection first?

The quality of any sexual experience increases and decreases as a function of the mood and disposition of the participants and the various elements of the situation. Some people can have incredible sex with complete strangers, Other people require a deep emotional connection first. Still others are adaptable and will enjoy themselves if the right variables are present. 

So... yes, threesome sex can be amazing. It can also be pretty shitty. Since it's entirely dependent on the people involved, experience is really the only way to learn what will make for a great experience. 

Where should we hold the threesome?

I always recommend neutral territory (a club or hotel) unless you know the third wheel pretty well and you're not especially sentimental. The familiarity of home can be comforting, but it can also cause post-traumatic stress disorder reactions to your own house if things go badly. 

Is it possible for a threesome to equally benefit all three parties?

Sure. In fact, this should be the goal. Everyone gets what they're looking for.

Who runs the show?

Egalitarianism is great everywhere except sex. One of the three participants will have the strongest assertive tendencies. Designate them as the director. If you're not comfortable, vetoing directions is perfectly fine.

How do we manage expectations?

Earlier, I mentioned the fantasy of threesomes is almost always better than the reality of threesomes. Odds are really good you'll have fun, but it probably won't be the hottest experience of your life... at least not the first time. Just be cool with whatever transpires. 

What about jealousy, envy, and compersion?

First, some operational definitions. Jealousy is the fear of someone taking what you have. Envy is wanting what someone else has. Compersion is deriving joy from seeing your partner receive pleasure. All three factor into threesomes.

Jealousy happens when we think the third might be trying to poach our partner. Most people involved in social sexuality dismiss this emotion. I don't. I think it's actually useful. There ARE people that engage in threesomes as a means of looking for a good partner. The danger of someone trying to poach your partner, even though it's remote, is real. If you feel jealousy, don't just ignore it. Talk it over with your partner. If your partner experiences jealousy, listen to them. 

Envy is often confused with jealousy, but they're entirely different emotions. Envy would be something like "I can't believe my wife is letting that dude fuck her in the ass; she never lets me do that!" Unfortunately, the excitement of a novel partner often lowers inhibitions, which opens the door to a whole lotta envy. This usually isn't a problem if everyone understands why inhibitions are lowered.

Compersion is, in my opinion, the single best predictor on whether or not a couple can manage threesomes or not. If both partners genuinely enjoy seeing each other receive pleasure, the outcome is almost always going to be very good. 

Should I surprise my significant other?

For a first time threesome - no. After you know each of you can handle the emotions - sure.

What rules should we set?

"Rules" are basically designed to mitigate jealousy and envy by controlling what can and can not take place during a threesome. Generally speaking, the number of rules a couple establishes has a direct effect on the enjoyment of the experience. The more rules everyone has to follow, the less fun it is. However, rules can also help newbies ease into threesomes. 

Will nonmonogamy make our relationship less stable?

In almost every case- yes. For some couples, it will strengthen the relationship because it dramatically increases the need for communication. 

What if my partner is thinking of the third wheel afterward?

This is one of the most common threesome fears - my partner is going to think of/ fantasize/ fall in love with the third wheel. It's pretty much inevitable they're going to at least recall the experience. Odds are good they'll recall the experience while you're having sex. As far as falling in love? There's always a chance. But that can happen without having a threesome, too. 

It's important for both members of a couple to be secure enough and confident enough to know they're fucking awesome no third wheel can come close to providing what they bring to the table. If one or both partners do not have this mindset, threesomes are a really bad idea.

What if my partner wants to leave me for the third?

See previous answer. 

What about STD's?

STD fears are interesting because most people have zero idea how they're actually spread. Most people assume using condoms during vaginal intercourse is all that is needed without realizing any skin-to-skin contact or contact with any bodily fluid can transmit almost all STD's. Unless a total impermeable barrier is kept between all participants all the time, there is a risk of catching a disease. If a full-body condom isn't desirable, steps like testing and using condoms and dental dams can help lower the risk, but there's still a risk. Some people are okay with that. Some are not.

What do we talk about afterward?

Baseball.

Should we designate a "let's get the fuck out of here!" signal?

Yes. Always designate a signal that will immediately, no matter what's happening, shut everything down. If you're not feeling comfortable about something, it's always more prudent to stop and try again another day. If you need an excuse for stopping, blame it on the burrito you had for lunch. The threat of explosive diarrhea is a fairly universal mood killer.

Will this make me gay/ lesbian?

I always thought this was a weird concern, mostly because I assume people wild enough to have a threesome wouldn't be especially concerned about labels. But it comes up regularly. So... it depends on your definitions.

Threesomes pretty much always result in at least some same-sex physical contact. Hell, that's why a lot of people are interested in the first place. You know your own comfort level. Just stick to what's comfortable. 

When planning a threesome, some definitions might help. The term "bisexual" usually refers to someone that's aroused by males or females. "Bi-curious" usually refers to people that think they might be attracted to the same sex and want to experiment. "Bi-comfortable" usually refers to people that aren't aroused by the same sex, but are also comfortable with same sex physical contact. 

What happens when one of the people turns out to be weird?

As a weird person, this question makes me chuckle. This question is always in reference to the third wheel and is one of the dangers in seducing strangers. It may turn out they only get aroused by being beaten with raw bacon while listening to The Black Crows. If that's the case, roll with it. It'll make a great story some day.

What about kinks? 

Rule of thumb: No matter what you're into, you'll find other like-minded people. Literally. I already know I'll get at least three emails from people inviting me to their bacon-beating parties. If you have a specific kink, you'll be able to find someone out there. Search the 'Web. 

How do I avoid the crazies?

We're all a little bit crazy in some way or another, so this will be futile. It's probably more important to avoid stalkers. Setting expectations early helps. If this is going to be a one-time thing (I would recommend always framing it as such just in case it sucks), let them know. If they don't get the hint, I'm not above threatening them to back the fuck off. 

What about alcohol or other drugs?

If you need a lot of alcohol or drugs to actually follow through, you're probably not ready for a threesome. Having said that, I am in no way opposed to drunken and/or drug-fueled sexual adventures. Just don't drive. Or OD.

What if one (or both) of us like this too much?

If both of you REALLY like this, that's not necessarily a bad thing. I know a couple that engages in social sexual adventures on average about every three days. While that seems a little excessive to me, they're stupidly happy with the arrangement. 

Bigger problems arise when one person is really into it but the other isn't. That's an inherent risk of introducing threesomes... one person may realize they need it while the other can't stand it. That almost always dooms the relationship eventually.

What about hiring professionals?

"Professional" = prostitute. Legal issues aside, I'm all for it. Prostitutes are skilled, probably have some threesome experience, and are paid to leave afterward (i.e. - no drama.) Advice from a couple that occasionally ventures down this path - do your homework and understand price really does matter.

Conclusion


There you have it - around forty of the more common threesome questions I receive. As I stated in the beginning, many of the answers are short and to the point. Each one could be an entire post themselves. If you want to know more, post in the comments. I'd be happy to clarify or expand on anything.

Have fun!

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