Tag Archives: morality

RANT: Labels Kill Sexuality

Four years ago I wrote a posting about cheating and in it I had a little rant about being called an “older woman” by the letter-writer when I was only 32. The posting is here, and today I deleted a comment that referred to the rant-within-the-posting with this comment that I’ve chosen to delete for its stupidity:

“The sound of a cougars claws slipping down the slope called age.”

That was the comment in its entirety, aside from quoting the entire paragraph under the blockquote-box’s question.

It pissed me off. Why?

I’m the anti-cougar. Continue reading

Lenny Bruce, Obscenity’s Legacy, and Today’s News

I wrote this late last night, when I should have been in bed. I was out for coffee this morning when The Guy emailed me with a link and said, “This will make you very angry.” Rightly so. It turns out the Supreme Court of the US has decided not to hear a case on internet-based obscenity, meaning that internet obscenity laws are to be decided on a local basis. IE, small towns can decide what’s “obscene” on the internet.

Think about this for a minute. REALLY fucking think about the ramifications of this, people. This is huge. You’re going to have Buttfuck, Idaho deciding on whether or not materials that are being used and seen by people AROUND THE WORLD are obscene… in the land of “free press.”

It all comes back to you. Your vote. It comes down to voting for leaders and politicians because you’re looking for a fucking tax break, but you fail to realize the implications of what that leader’s choices for life-long appointments to the Supreme Court are. Life-long: Meaning decades of deciding the interpretation of YOUR constitution.

You want to tell me that America’s passion for freedom of speech is greater than any other nation’s. Not anymore. Never has been. That’s the greatest lie ever told, my friends.

This year’s the 40th anniversary of the death of Lenny Bruce — a guy who met the wrong end of every obscenity law ever passed in the US. Four decades have passed, and this is the bullshit that’s starting to cycle back into action.

AGAIN, I ask you: Where is your voice?

The timing of that news is just strange, since I’d planned to post this today anyhow. A sad fucking day for freedoms, my friends. Know that.

__________________

The writer I am today is a result of the reader I was then. To tell the truth, I’m barely a reader today. I seldom settle in with a book, but I hope to change that behaviour.

I recently took some time to organize my bookshelves, and this book in the photo, my tattered copy of Lenny Bruce’s How to Talk Dirty & Influence People, still stands up on display, right behind my grandmother’s 1955 rotary dial phone, which still rattles and rings anytime someone dials me up. Next to it, a first-edition of the Arrow paperback version of HST’s Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas.

When I was 18, my narrow, protected view of the world was shattered by HST, but then came Lenny. Like HST’s classic tome, it gets off to an unforgettable start – particularly if you’re an 18-year-old kid. Unbelievably, I had the balls to recommend this to my 14 year old student last week.

“Filipinos come quick; colored men are built abnormally large (“Their wangs look like a baby’s arm with an apple in its fist”); ladies with short hair are lesbians; if you want to keep your man, rub alum on your pussy.

Such bits of erotic folklore were related daily to my mother by Mrs. Janesky, a middle-aged widow who lived across the alley, despite the fact that she had volumes of books delivered by the postman every month — A Sane Sex Life, Ovid the God of Love, How to Make Your Marriage Partner More Compatible–in plain brown wrappers marked “Personal.”

She would begin in a pedantic fashion, using academic medical terminology, but within ten minutes, she would be spouting her hoary hornyisms. Their conversation drifted to me as I sat under the sink, picking at the ripped linoleum, day-dreaming and staring at my Aunt Mema’s Private Business, guarded by its sinkmate, the vigilant C-N bottle, vanguard of Lysol, Zonite, and Massengill.

At this tender age, I knew nothing of douches. The only difference between men and women was that women always had headaches and didn’t like whistling or cap guns; and men didn’t like women – that is, women they were married to.

Aunt Mema’s Private Business, the portable bidet, was a large red-rubber bulb with a long black nozzle. I could never figure out what the hell it was for. I thought maybe it was an enema bag for people who lived in buildings with a super who wouldn’t allow anyone to put up nails to hang things on; I wondered if it was the horn Harpo Marx squeezed to punctuate his silent sentences. All I knew was that it was not to be used for water-gun battles, and that what it was for was none of my business.

When you’re eight years old, nothing is any of your business.”

Lenny Bruce, if you’ve never heard much about the dude, was a pioneering comic who broke all the rules. The Jim Morrison of comedy, he had his ass busted for obscenity more times than Dick Nixon would proclaim he was not a crook. It was on his heels, on his ground-breaking sacrifices and legal hassles that Richard Pryor and every other comedian would follow. Without Lenny Bruce, there might not have been a Pryor, or a Hicks, or a Rock, or a Leary. Lenny Bruce said fuck you to the man, and he said what was on his mind.

These days, there’s something still admirable about someone with the balls to say “What you think is obscene is what others do behind closed doors.” As someone I quite like recently said, let’s meet at the corner of The 21st Century and Get Over It.

Laws of acceptability are drawn by people with the courage (or the accidental happening) to push envelopes in defiance of what accepted norms are. For instance, fucking can now be used as an adjective after 10 pm all because Bono accidentally said it as such during a broadcast of (insert irrelevant music awards ceremony name here).

But the ones who discover whole new lands, they’re the journeymen like Bruce because they’re the ones who consciously know what the accepted is, but choose to go far beyond it, consequences be damned.

You open to any fucking page, anywhere, and there’s something that even today is relevant. Me, my copy’s so fucking tattered it’s permanently mated with an elastic band, the only thing that holds it together. The page where the spine breaks clean in half, page 91, yielded this pearl from 1963, 10 years before my birth.

“Why don’t religious institutions use their influence to relieve human suffering instead of sponsoring such things as the Legion of Decency, which dares to say it’s indecent that men should watch some heavy-titted Italian starlet because to them breasts are dirty?

Beautiful, sweet, tender, womanly breasts that I love to kiss; pink nipples that I love to feel against my clean-shaven face. They’re clean!”

So many of us sex bloggers, we’re up in arms against this Moralizing of North America; the legislative attempts to arbitrate morality; this pitiful attempt to turn back the clock and eradicate sex and desire from the consciousness of the average person.

Got news for you, folks. We’ve been fighting this battle for decades. Whether it’s a brilliant writer and commentator like Lenny Bruce or a filthy fat fuck like Larry Flynt, the battles ain’t new, the war ain’t new, and the blood’s long from dry.

What’s different now, though, is the medium. Enter blogging. Enter podcasting. Enter streaming video. Now we have a voice. Now we don’t have to wait any longer for a voice crying out in the night, for a black-as-hell knight to ride in with a filthy leer and a winning argument. Now the undersexed, underfucked, randy-as-hell, crop-flogging, chain-wearing, paddle-using, nymphomaniacal, cross-dressing, same-sex fucking, porn-loving, and swinging folks, NOW they all have the ability to have a voice.

The thing about activism is that it’s not about ground breaking wide open in one fell swoop. Like any hole, it start with one push of the shovel. And another. And another. There will be rocks and boulders that limit progress, but with persistence, it all comes out. The greater the chorus of resistance, the harder it is to ignore. The greater the groundswell, the more ground we can break.

Unfortunately for the battle, Lenny Bruce died too fucking young. He should’ve died right around now, in his 80th year. Instead, a needle in his arm, he toppled off his toilet, and crashed to his death – a disgraced, bloated man who was mocked and ridiculed out of the mainstream, and instead, placed post-humously upon a pedestal by those who would continue to wage what was known as his crusade against semantics.

The book’s afterword ends thus:

“One last four-letter word for Lenny.
Dead.
At 40.
That’s obscene.”

And it was. It is. Few people ever have the balls that Lenny Bruce lugged around with him, and it’s a crying fucking shame. And still, here we are, fighting for the same things, dreaming of the same freedoms as this long-dead Jewish-American comedian, in this, the 21st century.

A Reader Asks: What is Promiscuity?

I like sex, a lot. A lot more than I have it, tragically, and that’s not for lack of opportunity, but, rather, because I have moral preconceptions and perhaps even fears that I just can’t get past (IE: STDs, my Catholic youth, etc.).

I’ve said before that anyone can get laid if they set their standards low enough. I still believe that, and doubt that will change anytime soon. But I went and made a comment in response to one of my readers’ comments a couple days ago and have since received an email asking me my definition of promiscuous. That alone would have given me pause for thought, since definitions are generally arbitrary, but the moral semantics of it, that’s a different beast altogether. But then the reader went on at length and that then left me utterly flummoxed. This is the hefty tome I received:

What makes one promiscuous? It seems that promiscuity has a negative connotation; Is this because of a description based on religious, cultural, moral or philosophical matters? IE: Experiencing sexual desire is limited to procreation only; monogamy; one man with one woman… And if this doesn’t fit the scheme, are we sinning or acting amoral? Is it gender related? If a woman sleeps around, more than likely she will be considered a slut. Say a man has the same amount of sexual partners… “well, boys will be boys and need to be experienced.” I don’t think a man would be “accused” of sleeping with too many partners — oh, maybe in the gay community. Okay, so what is it – the quantity? How many times with different partners – 3, 10, 25 – what is the cut-off number? Or is it a matter of timing/frequency – a different partner every month? I know some people can’t even remember the names of their lovers! And are you promiscuous if you (even just once) sleep with someone for other reasons than “just” making love? I am thinking about a “sugar daddy”, IE: financial gain other than prostitution. Or is it then a matter of feelings and emotions; consequently, the lack of emotions and/or just a fulfillment of desires and needs? Would a married family man be considered promiscuous if he (once) had sex in a swinger club — kissed the wife good-bye in the morning, and in for a quickie with another woman the same night?

What, are you trying to make me work for a living? Hardy-har-har.

Here’s what the dictionary wants us to believe, for starters:

1. Having casual sexual relations frequently with different partners; indiscriminate in the choice of sexual partners.
2. Lacking standards of selection; indiscriminate.
3. Casual; random.

First things first: I’m not here to judge anyone, for anything. That said, I think the point of the definition above is that anything outside of a regular relationship, as soon as casualness or randomness enters the picture, is promiscuity. However, the tone that the word takes on depends on the perspective of the speaker. Are you judging the behaviour? If so, then the word is a negative one. Are you simply stating fact? Then it’s merely a pragmatic, honest descriptor.

Fact is, I’m actually a pretty old-fashioned girl, in some ways. I want one guy to shower with affection, and nothing more. (Although I don’t wish to be married, but that’s another posting for another time.) I don’t want to experience a rainbow of lovers, I have no interest in that. I feel a sexual relationship gets better the longer you’re in it, provided you maintain open communication and a willingness to experiment. If a guy cheated on me, I’d probably walk. That’s just me.

Have I slept with a guy on the first date? Yeah, absolutely, and that was promiscuity. Have I had sex outside of a relationship? Yeah, I have, and that was promiscuous. Would I have sex with someone other than a lover I was presently involved with? No, I doubt it. Would I consent to being the other woman? In the past, no, I haven’t (and I’ve actually busted a dude who lied and said he was single, when I knew his girlfriend). In the future, I really don’t know, but I’d find it hard to justify being the “other woman.”

I don’t think you can argue the literal definition of what promiscuity is. I think the nature of the sex you have (with emotions, without, with a commitment, without) defines whether it’s a promiscuous act or not, and that’s not really a matter of semantics, but rather, simple fact. The question then is, is that amoral? And what’s the answer? Then, dear reader, you’re absolutely entering into a philosophical debate, and a difficult one, at that.

Is morality subjective? That is, does the morality of an act depend on the situation and the beliefs of those involved? The majority of the world will tell you no, that morality is not open for discussion, because X religion deems that virtue as being Y. It’s one of the oldest arguments known to mankind, except in polygamous/polyamorous societies, and one that there’ll never be a proper answer to, and certainly nothing definitive will ever tumble from the fingers of this lowly writer.

A lot of people will comment that it’s not the act itself that indicates morality or the lack thereof, but rather, the underlying intention. Yada, yada, fucking yada.

Ultimately, I think what it all boils down to in life is, can you sleep at night? When you wake up in the morning, do you feel a little more whole, or a little less so? Are you satisfied with who you are, with what you do or have done? Can you own up to your actions on your own terms? (Owning up to things in a social, public forum is not necessarily an indicator, because there are a lot of judgmental assholes out in the world, whether it’s Pat Robertson or the dude down the street.) Granted, sociopaths have their own little club where they feel none of these questions apply, and then you indeed have to look at what a moral median might be for society at large, which is how we get laws in the first place.

I know what gets me to sleep, I know what keeps me up nights. I know what leaves me tinged with disgust, I know what leaves me with warm fuzzies day in, day out. I have few illusions of the moral high-ground I’ve set for myself, and while those standards are ones I strive to hold true to, I wouldn’t judge another for failing to meet them – unless they were involved with me, because then it should become an understanding, something to strive for together, something to embrace. Ah, proof: A romantic at heart, I is.

Promiscuity simply is what it is, sex acts committed in a random, casual manner; a hedonistic enjoyment of the flesh. And that’s not all bad, particularly if both parties are on the same page. When people get hurt, when disease gets spread, when irresponsibility transpires, then it’s something I frown on, that I judge. The rest of the time, well, we’re all adults, and if there’s agreement, then that’s all that matters. It’s the interpretation of those acts that get us into these arguments of semantics. The definition is clear, but it’s the moral interpretation of what “random” and “casual” mean that have you asking your question. Semantics, my friend, are indeed a bitch.

But what do you think of promiscuity? What do you think of my two cents?

1. (I’ve been asked in the past what I think of polyamory, and perhaps the above gives those askers a little perspective on my response, but I will likely do an entire posting on that at some point as well, because it’s an interesting topic, and one that I feel is largely misunderstood, though not quite my cup of tea.)
2. (And in regards to the posting below, yes, I’m still broke, yes, I’m still scared a little since my financial safety net has disappeared, and yes, I could still use help. Feel free to pitch in, at any amount. Thanks!)
3. (How come I never saw that episode of Warner Bros.’ Saturday morning cartoons, hmm? I guess that was before TiVo.)

Being Good But Behaving Badly

Despite the onslaught of winter here in Vancouver, I took a nice long bike ride by the river yesterday, capitalizing on the selfdom-seen sunshine while I could. On my way back through the industrial lands along the river, a large delivery truck passed me by. Its paintjob dominated by dirt, I saw a message scrawled into the caked-on dirt on the back door:

“Wish my girl was this dirty.”

I had a great laugh as I continued peddling my way home, but it left me thinking about the dualities that every lover should have, but that many don’t. In writing about something similar not too long ago, I said, “When it comes to the bedroom, I’m able to balance being sensual, doting, and romantic with being pretty wicked and dominant when I feel like it. Sex is supposed to embrace all aspects of our personalities, and it’s the one time in our lives when we really have the chance be the person from our fantasies.”

If I can get personal for a moment, I suspect I can break down the evolution of a lover as it should happen for most people, and did happen for me.

As a kid, I was raised Catholic. My parents felt the religion was important, but as with anything in my life, when I believe something, I believe it with a zealous passion. By the time I was seven or eight, I was taking the priest’s sermon and teaching it to the athiest kids in the neighbourhood. At about nine years old, I was seriously thinking I should be a nun when I grew up. Seriously.

Like I said, passionate. In my mid-teens, a few things happened that made me realize that I might believe in the principles of the church, but that the folks who ran it were pissing me off. It didn’t take me long to walk away from it, and within a couple years I began learning about other faiths and realized we’re all in this together. I lost my dogma, and just kept the ethics.

As a result, though, I grew up with a lot of really religious takes on sex. For me, it was a sin. I never had sex until I was 18, and I felt wrong about it for the first two years. It wasn’t fulfilling, not really, despite my enjoying it, because I felt like I was going to be judged by a higher power or something. Around 20, I met a guy who introduced me to bondage, and I lost a few hang-ups then, but I really never got past myself until my mid-20s.

In my late 20s, I took an extended break from sex while I Dealt With Shit, but slowly began to realize I’d been cheating myself and depriving myself. I realized that I’m by nature a very mischevious person, and a person who needs that intimacy in order to feel whole. Why did that never translate to the bedroom, I wondered? Why was I so repressed and such a good-girl lover when I knew I could sometimes be oh-so-very-bad? I decided to force myself to try out the role of the “bad girl” and see what it did for me.

What it did, was get me off. What it also did, was get my lover sizzling hot. That look in his eyes told me he wanted to devour me whole, then and there. I’d never seen such unbridled passion, though I’d always had a fulfilling sex life. What next, though, I wondered? Would he treat me different? Were we going to have a weird situation after this? I realized that depended on me. Would I act normal when it was all said and done, return to the fun, irreverent Steff I knew myself to be? I had to, I decided. I had to see if I could be both.

I did, and I was. I realized then that the lover I was behind closed doors wasn’t the only person I was at heart. I was both. I was, as they say, every woman. Every woman I wanted to be, I could be. I could be bad in order to be good to my lover, and not have that impact who I was on an ethical level.

This is a dilemma I think a lot of people need to come to terms with — that playing games and being bad in the bedroom doesn’t necessarily reflect who you really are. Living out your fantasy version of you is something that can co-exist with your reality. The trouble is simply getting past whatever moral code it is that we’ve had imprinted on us by a society that doesn’t really get the fact that duplicity isn’t always a bad thing.

Have you managed to get past your hang-ups? How did you do it? If you haven’t, are you trying to? Let’s hear it, folks.