Category Archives: Dating

The Dishonour of Honour Killings

Recently, here in the Great White North, a murder trial ended and the accused were sentenced to life.

A father and his son killed his daughter, all because she was too progressive to be a good little Islamic girl.

Muhammad Parvez and Waqas, his son, murdered Aqsa Parvez on December 10, 2007, in the guise of avenging their family pride in the face of her scandalous embracing of Western culture and lifestyle, even though they lived here.

These cultural-killing cases weigh heavily upon me.

I loathe what they do to the image of Islam, and what they do to my thinking, despite my best efforts.

Honour killing: image from The Baltimore Reporter.

I used to teach ESL a long time ago. Here, there. In people’s homes. It always gave me an interesting perspective on cultures I’d only ever seen from the flipside of a take-out menu or on the big screen.

For the most part here in Vancouver, that meant working with Taiwanese, Koreans, and the Mainland Chinese.

Once, though, I worked with two young Islamic women from Saudi Arabia. They were both married, under age 25, and would wear full burqas when out in the world, but, at home, wore tight jeans and cute trendy t-shirts that clung tightly to their breasts.

Their husbands were charming kind men who spoke to me often about our culture and tried to compare that with their traditional culture at home, so I could know more about them.

Their hospitality and the respect they showed me was warm and sincere. I always felt welcomed and appreciated, and never judged for being “Western” and very liberal. They even knew I wrote about sex, and the men found my blog entertaining.

I truly thought they were all wonderful people, and the kindness and graciousness shown me by them has lingered long in my memory as an example as what the true basic beliefs in Islam are — very similar to any a “good Christian” might follow.

But the burqas never sat well with me — the hypocrisy of bouncy, beautiful breasts being savoured in private but the pretense that this feminine beauty doesn’t exist in the world, or the suggestion that they’re doing what is right and good by Allah when hiding the feminine form from the world at large, despite the fact that Allah created all they hold in esteem.

But that’s a whole other issue that’s too large in scope to tackle, and which I’m not nearly informed enough to weigh in on without research.

It is, however, indicative of just how large a chasm exists between fundamentalist Islam and the standard Western world-view.

So, when a  family like the Parvez move here from Pakistan, there’s a galaxy of culture-clash to contend with.

Me, I’m so white I’m of the fish-belly variety of humans. With Irish/Scottish and French dotting my ancestry, I don’t even have a culture, let alone any experience with culture-clash — except for that which lands on our shores.

But that’s who we are. We’re Canadians.

We’ve got an open-door policy, and because we’re the most multicultural country on the planet, we’re constantly shaping who we are as a result of the immigrants who land here and build lives, for better and for worse.

You know what? I love that.

I love that, when Pierre Elliott Trudeau died, I had to take a cab that day and my driver was a man from South Africa. He was constantly wiping his eyes and sniffling as we moved slowly through rush-hour traffic.

In his thick, thick accent, he told me how hard he’d struggled to move to Canada two decades ago, that it had become his dream after this Canadian Prime Minister had been the only leader in the world to cry out against Apartheit in South Africa in the 1970s, that he saw Canada as being a place that held true to the belief that all men were equal — even beyond our borders.

This man made me cry that day — this immigrant, he and his love for my country, what we stood for, and what he wanted it to keep standing for now that he had given up his S.A. citizenship to become a Canadian. We cried together over a leader who divided the country but ultimately contributed more to what “being Canadian” meant than any leader in our history.*

It’s conversations with men like him who make me believe deep down inside that the majority of those who emigrate to Canada are those who ultimately admire our lifestyle and our tolerance of others.

So, yes, when I hear of honour killings, I’m left wondering how much it hurts the progressives who’ve immigrated long before these fundamentalist assholes, and how hard it makes life domestically for them.

Muhammad and Waqas Parvez are not your typical Pakistani-Canadians.

They are not your common Muslims.

And while honour killings aren’t common in Canada, they do happen.

From Wikipedia:

Human Rights Watch defines “honor killings” as follows:

Honor crimes are acts of violence, usually murder, committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family. A woman can be targeted by (individuals within) her family for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce — even from an abusive husband — or (allegedly) committing adultery. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that “dishonors” her family is sufficient to trigger an attack on her life.

Let’s face it. Much of what women have gained in the West, in terms of freedom to be who they want to be, has come in the last 60 years. We’re a young culture, too.

Islam, however, and its main regions of practice (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq) forms the seat of all of civilization.

For thousands of years these principles have been in place. They’ll come undone, but it’ll be slowly.

The world needs to stand against honour killings, and while these sentences are a start here in Canada, they’ll do little to effect change in the high mountains of the Khyber Pass and throughout Mohammad’s land in Saudi Arabia.

Here, in Canada, some will experience anger and disdain toward Islam, as if these men represent all of what the Qu’ran teaches.

Like most religions, Islam teaches some pretty fucked-up things. Ask any cartoonist.

Any religion has proverbs that, taken word-for-word, could unleash hell with the devout. Islam is certainly not far from the path of nuttiness with ideas like Jihad and honour killings and the rants against cartoons and Salman Rushdie.

It doesn’t mean Islam’s unholy and hell-bent on destruction or death. That’s bullshit.

What men like the Parvezes do, though, is, they give validity to those who would tar Islam and rail against its practitioners with the belief that all who practice it are extremists who are literal about Allah’s messages in the Qu’ran.

And they make women like me scared of dating Islamic men.

I hate that.

The thing is, I’m not particularly afraid of dating a Muslim man — as long as he’s not a fundamentalist.

But I wouldn’t date ANY religious fundamentalist. I’d probably try to avoid most men who practiced religion of any kind, really, but I would think a Muslim would better understand why I’m not following his faith than a Christian would, since I was raised in Christianity and now reject the practice of it. Try to make sense of THAT, eh?

So, yeah, I’m not afraid of dating a Muslim man at all.

I’m afraid of dating his extended family.

Let’s face it. Families are nuts. You should meet mine.

There’s some serious fuckin’ wackadoos in the extended-family works here, and I would hate for anyone to judge me on the basis of being related to them. But they’re there.

And that’s the thing. A Muslim guy might be incredible, and god knows I find men of Persian descent incredibly hot, but I’m scared what Uncle Mojinder might be like or what distant Cousin Navez might get up to if I get a little rowdy one night, since I’m not exactly Miss I Don’t Drink.

It’s hard enough keeping philosophically on-page with a lover, but when there’s a cultural heritage that has the potential of honour killings in their extended family, it’s a little unnerving a concept for some of us who are given to misbehaviour.

I’m not sure how to end this piece, I don’t think there’s a comfortable “pat” conclusion I can offer.

It’s a terrible thing, honour killings — for what it does to women, for the rise of the fear and suspicions we nurse against an entire faith, all because of what some select group of them do.

It’s horrible that I feel justified in my fears, that I’m apprehensive of men based on their faith, not because I don’t trust them but because I fear their families.

And even that is hard on me, because I love what I know of the traditional Indian, Pakistani, and Middle Eastern family lives.

Yet.

Yet this one thing exists, a small niggling fear — this negligible concept of  “honour” and what it is for and to others, and the price one can pay for damaging it.

In the end, there’s a reason I’m not religious anymore. I stopped believing in Catholicism in my teens, and by rights all other religions, because of the fear and judgment they sought to have me live life under.

Life has many chains that will bind me, but religion will not be amongst them.

I want to know, I guess, how honour killings affect you.

What do you think of them? How have they changed your thoughts on Muslims?

If you’re a woman, does it make you apprehensive of dating men who are Muslims but super-hip and very liberal, just because you fear their family?

Have you ever had a friend who has been under the thumb of this religion and wanted out?

Talk to me. I want to hear about this.

*On his death, the stories I heard from second-generation Canadians who immigrated to Canada with their parents when Trudeau was leader, just blew my mind. The reverence they held for P.E.T., and the esteem they held Canada in, made my heart explode with patriotic pride. Yeah. That’s who we are, Canada. We’re the port in the storm.

Respect Yourself

I’m tired of women who get into a relationship, lose all of themselves in the man, the relationship ends in a matter of weeks, they come apart at the seams, and it’s “Oh, I’ll never love again.”

Please.

Get serious.

And to moan and piss and whine like this publicly, on social media sites?

Please.

Get serious.

I’m not lying and saying I’ve never done that.

I have, and I’m not proud of it, but it’s been a few years since. I don’t respect myself for having been that way, but at least I know it was because birth control fucked up my estrogen. Even then I knew it was shameful, the way I was coming apart over this guy I knew didn’t really deserve me or my heartache, not now, not after all I’d come to learn about him.

It’s a few years later and I know now that, this dude I came apart for, I wouldn’t even date today. I’d be friends. I probably wouldn’t get turned on by him, and I sure as hell wouldn’t be having the delusions of marriage I entertained then, but maybe it’s because I saw how he became in times that got bad.

All of us are pretty undesirable when our lives go off the deep end. We’re not ourselves. That makes sense, it should be apparent to others.

Times get bad. Hurts happen. Sadness is inevitable. Anger bubbles up.

These are human elements and we’re at home with each of them.

But I draw the line at tolerating victims. I draw the line at anyone who thinks shit keeps landing on them on purpose and that they have nothing they can do about it.

In the last decade, the amount of shit that’s come my way — man, if I thought someone had it in for me and it was happening to me intentionally, I’d just cry. And I’ve kept my head on reasonably straight about this throughout more than one depression.

Just an example: This back injury that debilitated me for a year? Rehabbing it repaired most of my other long-ailing injuries, and taught me that I finally understood how to eat properly to maintain my weight, and gave me insight into really seeing what living a long-term compromised life did to others, and I think the whole horrible year made me a FAR better person.

Almost every negative that has found me — including my mother’s death — has resulted in incredible personal growth and insight.

Am I tired of the endless struggle? Fucking right I am. But am I feeling like a victim? NO.

I’m feeling like someone who’s woken up and realized all the fighting I’ve been doing just to survive has been completely misplaced — those energies can be better spent, my attitudes & goals can be refocused.

If anyone can do it, I can, and don’t you even think I don’t know it.

I know I’ve overcome incredible odds, but the odds I’ve overcome are the kind that HURT the bank account and HURT the bottom line, not help them. To the outside, I’m some underachiever getting by in an expensive town with a job that doesn’t nearly compensate me for my skills and talents, working too little to really get anywhere, with a stubbornness about “selling out” to get by.

TO ME, though, I’m an incredibly resilient person who’s been kicked somewhere new by life almost every 6 months for 10 years, but I still keep improving, I still get better, I develop more empathy not apathy, and I grow from every single thing that hits me.

I don’t need to be a social butterfly or the talk of the town. I don’t need a fancy car or pretty things. Like Atwood says, as a woman, I need a man like a fish needs a bicycle.

What do I need?

I need to respect myself and know I’m doing what a girl’s gotta do. That’s it.

I got that. I’m down widdat. On it like Oprah on a ham, baby.

I still like the directions I’m going in. I wish I could have more — I wish I had a man on this beautifully full plate of mine, someone to sink my teeth into and a relationship to take shelter in on weekends, but space to enjoy during the week. I wish I had the energy and money for friends and good times.

But money and love, they’re out there, and I’m getting to them. They’re usually the icing on your life cake, and patience is needed.

I know, deep down inside, that I’m changing at a clip I can’t believe. The last thing I need is to get into a relationship with someone who’s where they want to be while I’m going a mile a minute. I need some stability and some comfort with where I am before I think I can choose rightly as far as man-things go. The more of this “self” I enjoy discovering, the more I’ll have to offer in a month or two or three, as my newly changing realities take firmer hold.

A month or two? Yeah, I’m not biting at hooks TODAY but I’m looking as of now. Why not? What’s the worse that can happen? I love a little, get left a little, hurt a little? Okay. So be it. I’ll try.

Because I know, who I am has nothing to do with a man. My attitude, my goals, my abilities, my dreams, they’re all me. Would I like to share them? Sure. But no one’s co-opting them or taking over the driver’s seat. Not now, and hopefully never again.

I think, biologically & anthropologically, something in women hardwires us to pairbond for security and protection.

But what happens in 2010 when a girl’s forced, through economic & social realities, to survive on her own? To get her own security taken care of? To protect her how interests?

Then what’s she looking for in a man? What’s she need now?

Does anthropological history and biological predisposition still kick in? Or does a different quality of pairbonding happen? “I’m the queen, I’ll let you rule in my kingdom alongside me. You, your chair is there. Don’t even think about sitting in mine.”

I don’t know.

But I know I look at men differently now than I did four to five years ago.

And I know I’ve proven I’m a survivor of the kinds of things that most people would rather not test themselves through.

So, a girl’s got to wonder.

What am I really looking for, and what’s it going to take to get it delivered? (Grin.) I really don’t know. I really don’t care. ‘Cos I know I’m gonna find out. Don’t know how, but I’m gonna. So are you.

And if, or when, it goes south, since there’s 95% chance of that when every relationship starts, well, I’ll try to hold myself with a little decorum, because I’ll be pretty confident in the knowledge I’ve overcome bigger things than a boy.

On Becoming a Sometimes-Sex-Blogger Again

As a so-called sex writer, I went off the reservation a long, long time ago.

As a writer, I’m writing a book, and it means revisiting all my work from the last few years. In the process, I’m tagging & categorizing all my posts so you’ll have an easier time to search relevant topics.

But, boy, is it interesting taking a look at all the passion I wrote about sex with in The Old Days of this blog.

It’s important, too, because I’m remembering why I used to write about sex.

For example, I came across one of my first postings on this blog, Shut Up and Screw, in which I wrote “During sex, when I’m not using my mouth for pleasure, I keep it shut.”

And, it’s funny, like the addendum note at the top of the posting said in 2008, I’d drastically revisited that position about liking quiet lovers.

Ahem, I probably revisited the position in probably more ways than we should be counting, but there was a moment later that year with a certain lover in which I made the jump from quiet to vocal, and it was a profound jump in a lot of other sexual ways, too… and maybe even in some inner-life ways.

I realized that there was this psychological place that you get past when you no longer care if someone hears you climaxing. It’s like that great philosopher George Michael sings, “Sex is natural, sex is good, not everybody does it, but everybody should.”

Unfortunately, I’m one of those that doesn’t do it these days — I’ve been celibate for an embarrassing length of time now, despite the occasional date, the men who’ve propositioned me, and so forth. I got to that place where I finally had no libido, and life was simpler not pushing it. If my libido was active, my social life would be a whole ‘nother story. Then, I mean. Now’s getting to be a different story.

She’s in there, the feisty one. And she’s starting to emerge, now that life’s moving past the always-be-surviving mode I’ve been stuck in for so long. Now that I don’t have to just focus on getting through this week, this month, etc, I really want to start playing outside my sandbox again.

Back then, when I wrote that silly little posting, was when I probably entered into the best two years of my dating life. I was dating often, getting tons of interest, and keeping very satisfied sexually, thanks to a couple partners over that time.

One of whom was later that year, the one who made me vocal in ways I never assumed I’d be. Oh, wouldn’t you like to know more. Tsk. Good thing you’ve got your healthy imagination.

That orgasm? Pretty life-changing. What? An orgasm? Life-changing?

Yup. And why not? When you finally get to that place after a lifetime of hangups, where you can loudly and proudly hit a climax and not feel like you should be ashamed and silent about it… yeah, it’s a big shift of self.

And that’s why I write this blog.

Or why I did.

And why I want to again.

Because everyone needs to take that journey.

Everyone needs to think more about how small things — whether it’s saying what you really think, expressing how you really feel, or just screaming out with a little sexual pleasure — can redefine who and what we are.

I believe in the examined life. I believe in accepting & appreciating that the little things do add up, that they profoundly change the landscape of our lives.

It’s like the rah-rah speech Pacino gives in Any Given Sunday.

“You find out that life is just a game of inches. So is football. Because, in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small. I mean, one half step too late or too early, you don’t quite make it. One half second too slow or too fast, and you don’t quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They are in every break of the game — every minute, every second.”

If, in every moment in life, we milk just a little bit more — from that kitchen you’re cleaning through to the kiss you want to deliver — the payout is so greater than “just a little bit more”. It’s the difference between surviving and thriving, liking and loving, and the difference between mere enjoyment and ecstasy.

I think, in some ways, my battle to make people see that has been successful, but more so in the earlier days of these writings.

I’m not satisfied with “more so in the early days”.

And this inspires me to somehow bridge the gap between the writer I’ve become and the writer I was — a reminder on the importance of spreading the word about sex in a non-porn way, while also continuing the exploration of outside-of-sex selves that I’ve been trying to journey through over the years.

It’s kind of awesome, this little walk through memory lane. Creatively and personally.

If you haven’t read a lot of the content over 2005 to 2006, and you think I’m a good writer, you really might want to take a read through those times. It’s probably the best creative period of my life. But I know it’s not the last.

If you’ve been around a long time? Thanks for your support, readers.

If you haven’t been around for much of those 5 years? I hope you will be around for the future.

‘Cos I plan to be here — in ever-changing and ever-growing ways.

Oh, You Naughty Librarian!

In college, I was a librarian. I worked both in books and in the audio-visuals section. Then I was a bookseller.

Everything I ever needed to learn about sex, I learned on the job. It’s probably the only thing escorts and librarians have in common.

Okay, well, no, not everything I ever needed to learn… but it sure as hell helped me write informative web sex commentaries like:

What can I tell you? There’s nothing like being paid in quiet work moments to go searching through shelves for titles you’d never have the balls to take out if you were just Joe Public, like Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man by Dan Anderson.

A quiet rainy night and no one in the bookshop, and I have a date with my boyfriend later? Sure, why not learn new oral techniques or read about the psychology of sex in the Guide to Getting it On by Paul Joahannides?

I was ALLOWED to read on the job. Clients might enter and ask about those books! (And in 3 years, only one did, and when I gave her Dan Anderson’s book and pointed out a couple passages worth really absorbing, she cancelled her evening plans then and there and invited her guy over for breakfast, laughing while I rang the book in.)

Will Manley reports over on his blog that, in 1992, he had more than 5,000 librarians answer his Librarians & Sex Survey, but the results were quashed by Those Who Be who thought, perhaps, that librarians couldn’t appear THAT naughty.

I woulda scored pretty good in some of the categories, I suspect, but thank god I’m not relevant here because you people just don’t need to know too much. Hi! I’m Steff the sometimes-sex blogger with boundaries.

But all this comes back to what I strongly believe — great sex requires:

  • great knowledge
  • communication
  • articulation
  • attention to detail
  • ability to be versatile
  • openmindedness
  • access to information and resources
  • insight and commentary
  • ability to not take things too seriously

Furthermore? I believe the people with the healthiest sex lives are usually people who are most open to other people’s points-of-views and lifestyle choices.

Why? Because being a great lover means realizing the world has more tastes than just yours. And accepting that personal taste matters.

The reality is, just because you think you have a money-shot doesn’t mean it works on everyone. Sex isn’t about YOU. It’s about your partner. And if your partner thinks that way too, then congratulations, you probably know what it’s like to have your mind totally blown by sex.

But if either of you think it’s all about the orgasm, or that your performance reflects on you in a “being-graded” kind of way, or that sex is about obligation or routine, then you probably haven’t transcended that place that takes some of us from being mere enthusiasts about sex to feeling profoundly sorry that the rest of the world doesn’t get what we’re talking about.

Frankly? If you haven’t been laid by a sex geek, you’re probably missing out.

The truth is, the more I learn about other people’s hang-ups, the more I read up on the difficult journeys many of us take as we fumble from awkward through to confident lovers, the more I’m able to accept myself as a total vixen-rockstar-lover while also being a woman who has all the insecurities most women have… and it’s okay. ‘Cos openness and vulnerability have their own hotness-factor, too — so long as I realize it’s in my head, I’m not the only person that feels this way, and I can admit it. Besides, that vulnerability is part of what makes me this unique blend of who I am.

My vulnerability is not all I can admit. I’ve found power in confessing things like this, that go against the supposed “sex blogger” image, even though I’ve written one of the most plagiarized how-to-give-blowjobs postings on the web. Why? Because I know I’m not alone, because I’ve shared in that human condition that writing & literature can inform us about.

It’s learning, reading, and sharing in others’ experiences and sexual journeys through blogging and the written word, and just plain learning biology, that has really allowed me to own my insecurities and stop apologizing for them.

So-fucking-what if I’m insecure about my size sometimes? If I tell a lover that and he uses that knowledge to covet ALL of me, it helps fight that insecurity — because it’s hard to fake that attention, it’s hard to be disingenuous as you consume someone whole. You can’t easily sell being turned on by a flabby belly, you know.

It’s my knowledge and life experience that helps me understand how and why we all differ sexually — I don’t have hang-ups about talking to a lover about how he likes it, what he wants, and other little fantasies and peccadilloes that shape each of us as a lover. It’s not some reflection on me if he doesn’t like it when I do X to him — that’s a reflection of how his body’s wired, and I can’t change it, no matter how good my X skills might have proven in other encounters.

That’s the kind of confidence that comes from education. It’s getting past THOSE conversations that make good intercourse become the kind of mindblowing sex that everyone dreams of having.

Learn something. Ignorant lovers are lousy lovers. Get over yourself. Learn about your partner, learn about how their sexual tastes differ. Teach them about you.

That’s when carnal knowledge is sexual power.

So: Do you think your knowledge about sex has changed you as a lover, and how? What are your thoughts on this?

Photo is by Dumio_Momio, and is Creative Commons.

Dating Options 101: Whatchagot

I had too much wine on Saturday night, wrote this. Didn’t publish it for fear I might’ve said too much. In vino veritas and all. So here’s the version you see. :)

I’m being antisocial. Again. I’m at that point where people are draining me, so I know I need my time to myself.

Some guy’s aggressively pursuing me. I could be shagging this weekend, not lounging around in ugly clothes. The thought fills me with a little doubt as I look down at my yoga pants and my shitty concert t-shirt. God knows it’s been long enough. If landscapes were sex-life allusions, then mine would be the Sahara in a drought. I’m okay with this, though. Except, you know, at those moments when — SCHWING — I’m so not. Fortunately, self-inducing oblivion helps avoid those moments.

I’ve been rebuffing said attempts. Pretty sure he’s not really my type. It’d be just sex. Incredibly-hot-guy-with-no-mental-connection sex. If things were less complicated, maybe. Like I say: A dry season in the Sahara. The problem with hormones is, once you turn ’em on, it’s like the switch gets broke. They get this mind of their own. I’d prefer not to fuck my mode and just avoid sex entirely unless it’s for the “oh, YOU might be a sidedish of WOW” kinda manly potential right now. Continue reading

When We Were Kids: Growing Up John Hughes

I’ve been foiled by the evil estrogenies on my long weekend Monday, and my monthly female visitor is making its presence known. Happily, I’m now medicated.

More happily, TiVo ate some Breakfast Club and is serving it up fresh for me this morning — one of those few movies I can recite more than half. It’s surprising how many of those movies I can recite are of the John Hughes Library.

_am_ the John Hughes Generation. I’m so sad he passed away before 60, and bitter he stopped his brilliantly insightful teen movies when he did, back in the ’80s. I always wanted to go through college with John Hughes as my guide. Thank god Cameron Crowe peaked when he did. I’ve not yet written about Hughes’ death, though, and have been meaning to say a few words.

Everyone in my crowd has their own John Hughes memory. This is the biggest of them all, for me: The Breakfast Club. Continue reading