Em & Lo's RSS Feed Em & Lo's Daily Email Feed Be Our Facebook Friend! Follow Us on Twitter!


Archive | Personal Post RSS feed for this section

How Sex Addiction Almost Ruined My Life

March 31, 2015

0 Comments

photo via flickr

Brian Whitney is a recovering sex addict and the author of the book Raping the Gods: A Tale of Sex and Madness, available at Amazon now. Today on EMandLO.com, he shares the story of how rehab helped him move past his sex addiction:

I don’t like calling myself a sex addict. When people hear that term, most of them tend to have one of three reactions.

Some people think sex addiction doesn’t exist, that it is just a made-up term to excuse bad behavior. A second group thinks that a sex addict is a crazy, out-of-control freak who thinks of nothing but getting laid every second of every day. The third group thinks it sounds fun: “What are you complaining about, man? You get laid all the time and you think it’s a problem?”

I was always different sexually, and it was a problem from a very early age. Of course I didn’t think of myself as an “addict” for quite a while — that took a few decades of my life being a disaster. I could tell a lot stories about what I was doing, but I’d rather just say I was really screwed up. My major issue was infidelity. I was often involved in three or four different relationships at once. I got an enormous rush from having multiple sexual partners and lying to all of them. This wasn’t about sex, although I did enjoy that; it was about control and power.

At one point I was married, having sex with three women at work, and telling two of them I loved them. To you that might seem horrible, or it might seem exciting. I don’t know. To me it was like walking around electrified, all day, and all night long. I would have sex with at least two women a day, sometimes four, and when I found time in between, I would beat off. It was a wild ride.

It might go without saying, but this caused problems in my life. I had numerous opportunities to stop taking this scene further, but I kept pushing it to the bitter end.

And that is where what the professionals call the “addiction” part comes in. I did things sexually, over and over again, that completely fucked up my life. Acting in the way I did gave me a huge rush, an enormous shot of dopamine.  Later, I would feel shame, depression and anxiety over my actions, and the only thing that would make me feel okay again was the rush I got from doing crazy shit sexually all over again.

And I couldn’t stop. No matter what happened, no matter how bad things got, even when I lost marriages and then homes because of my infidelity. I could never keep a job because of my sexual behavior. Instead of stopping, I was getting further into it, going into darker and more depraved places.

To many people, the thought of going to rehab for such a thing still seems bizarre. It seemed bizarre to me, but I went anyway, because what else could I do? But I didn’t want to do inpatient. Being locked up with twenty other guys like me for thirty days sounded like hell. So I chose a place in Los Angeles that did intensive outpatient work: I would stay in a hotel for two weeks, attend groups and individual counseling all day, go to Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings at night, and after two weeks I would come home, cured.

Just taking that step was dramatic. When you fly across the country and spend thousands of dollars to get help, there is no pretending anymore. The days of rationalizing my behavior as merely hedonistic were over.

They tried to integrate our families, girlfriends, ex-wives, and so on. At the end of the second week they all flew out, to meet with us and see how we had progressed. The answer to that question, at least when it came to me, was “not much.” You can’t change a lifetime of compulsive behavior by hanging out in L.A. for two weeks, going to groups in the day, and eating sushi at night with a bunch of other addicts.

Though my behavior seemed under control, my thoughts, fantasies, and impulses remained the same ones that had been roiling my brain for the last thirty years. Naively, I had thought that after two weeks of treatment they would be gone. But the only difference was that now, when I did something, I really felt like shit about it. At the end of two weeks it was obvious I wasn’t ready to deal with real life yet. So it was off to Philadelphia for a month of inpatient.

This was an entirely different scene: It looked and smelled gritty. This wasn’t a pretty place in Arizona where we climbed mountains and did equine therapy. It was in a shithole. We had to go to bed at a certain time, we slept on crappy beds, we couldn’t leave the facility, we had roommates. It was like a minimum security prison for people who did weird things.

The people were different here as well. Their problems were more serious. My roomie was straight out of jail for exhibitionism. There was a former NBA player who had the same problem; he had just come from prison, too. There was also a millionaire who had slept with thousands of people, from anonymous guys in subway bathrooms to beautiful female models. And a male nurse who went to sex clubs and screwed ten guys a night. It was hardcore.

I hated it there; it made me uncomfortable. I did things I didn’t want to do and dealt with issues I didn’t want to face, but, in the end, I did begin to change. I stopped having affairs and acting out in other ways, and I went on with my life. I got back together with a woman I cared about.

That was seven years ago. It is still a struggle of course. I am still me, I still get turned on by the same things. It isn’t that I don’t have sex anymore. I do, and I still have the same kinks. Writing about it helps. I recently wrote a book called Raping the Gods that tells the story of an out-of-control sex addict.

In my 40s now, I feel different and, dare I say, better. Over the past year or so there has been some change. I don’t hate myself so much. I keep the darkness off to the side. I just stay honest with people in my life and let them know who I am. And I don’t cheat on my partner. The thought of doing the things I used to do is thankfully no longer a turn on.

Brian Whitney is the author of Raping the Gods: A Tale of Sex and Madness, available at Amazon now.

MORE LIKE THIS ON EMandLO.com



Why I Won’t Ever Regret Getting My Tubes Tied at 28

March 26, 2015

1 Comment

by Chelsea Hottovy for YourTango  |  photo via flickr

What I want is to be happy.

I’m often told that I’d make a good mother. Depending on my relationship with the person making this wildly incorrect statement, I have one of two reactions: either a small, insincere smile and a “mmmm” response that does not invite further discussion or a hearty laugh followed by a firm “NO.”

Don’t get me wrong: I love kids. They’re hilarious, they’re adorable, and I (mostly) enjoy spending time with them. But without a doubt, I do not want them. And here’s why.

I don’t want to worry about diaper rash and “tummy time” and I don’t want to know what colic is.

I don’t want to put a kid on a Kindergarten waiting list and I don’t want to decide between public and private education. I don’t want to coordinate basketball practice drop-off with ballet lessons pick-up, I don’t want to help with trigonometry and darling, I will not deal with your teenage angst because you best believe I invented that sh*t. I’d rather have bamboo shoots shoved under my fingernails than try to figure out how to pay for my child’s college while I still owe roughly twelve kajillion dollars for my own degree. I’ve more than once done something “just to tell the grandkids about it,” but I never actually planned on there being any grandkids.

It amuses me to tell people I don’t want children because no one ever quite knows how to respond. I’ve gotten “Well, when you meet the right guy, you’ll change your mind,” which is basically suggesting I’m incapable of making decisions regarding my own life without consulting a nameless, faceless FutureMan and is, by the way, astonishingly offensive. Others immediately ask what I do for a living, as though my employer holds the key to my womb and has locked it up until I retire. I don’t really consider myself a career-minded kind of girl; I’ve always worked to live, not lived to work.

Two mothers have actually said to me, “I didn’t know what love was before having a baby. You should reconsider.” I’m happy they’re happy now but “not knowing love before kids” is one of the most acutely sad things I’ve ever heard. Occasionally, I get a hearty “F*ck Yeah!” from like-minded women, some of whom will eventually become mothers and some of whom will not. I appreciate the support.

But at this point, it doesn’t matter how much anyone tries to change my mind because the decision’s been made – permanently.

Last October, I spent a wonderful morning with my doctor, during which he performed a tubal ligation on me.

Yep, I got my tubes tied at 28.

I admit that once my doctor agreed to perform the surgery, I had a moment of panic. It immediately crossed my mind that maybe everyone was right and I was wrong and I would wake up at 30 and want a baby more than anything in the world or that maybe my “hard pass” on kids was a rebellion against expectations simply for the sake of a rebellion.

Maybe I would love the complete upheaval of my priorities and schedule and life in general. Shortly after these hysterical thoughts raced through my mind, though, I regained my sanity. I picked a date for the surgery. Done. Tubes tied.

Here’s the thing: I’ve spent years carefully crafting the most amazing life I can.

I’m surrounded by people I love very much, who love me in return. I’m well-educated and well-traveled. I have endless time to learn about things that interest me and to see wonderful things and to meet the greatest people on earth. I leave piles of library books all over my bedroom and plan fabulous trips all over the world. I stay up until 6am watching Sons of Anarchy because I know no small person is relying on me to feed them in a few short hours. I occasionally eat chips and salsa for breakfast and drink beer for dinner and feel no guilt that I’m teaching anyone horrific eating habits. I spend my days finding my bliss, like all the inspirational posters beg of me.

All this being said, I can’t wait to be an auntie. Whenever my friends start popping out kids, I’ll be there with inappropriately loud and expensive presents. I’ll be the aunt who slips them a vodka martini on their 16th birthday and I’ll rant and rail with the best of them whenever they feel slighted by other kids.

And when I’m off for six months teaching SCUBA in Venezuela, I promise to send lovely postcards. 

I get the reasons people want kids. I do. I’m not such a heartless, selfish monster that I’m incapable of understanding the appeal of a small person who loves you unconditionally and relies on you to guide them safely through a scary world. Parents are brave and strong and incredible people. But so are astronauts and brain surgeons and I don’t want to be those things, either.

What I want is to be happy.

And I’m doing that. I’m there, I’m living that dream. I’m happiest not being a mom, but hey … call me if you need a babysitter. I’m great in a pinch.

More from YourTango:

Is It Wrong NOT To Tell My Boyfriend That I’m A Prostitute?

10 Harsh Truths Your Husband’s Prostitute Wants You To Know

How Does An Affair Start?



What Does a Male Orgasm Feels Like? 4 Guys Explain.

March 5, 2015

0 Comments

by Melissa Noble for YourTango | photo via Flickr

Ever wondered what a male orgasm is like? Four men tell us ladies what it feels like to get off.

So what does a male orgasm feel like? Do orgasms differ drastically between the sexes? On our search to find out what exactly goes on in a man’s head and body during sex, we first examined what we already know:

For starters, the male orgasm is significantly shorter, more intense and can, usually, only be experienced once during a single sex session. Women on the flipside, if properly stimulated, can pop out a series of orgasms with little recovery period. Secondly, the male orgasm unleashes a rush of drowsy hormones — norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin, nictric oxide and the hormone prolactin — making it next to impossible for men not to feel sleepy after sex.

But what exactly does a male orgasm feel like, we wonder. To find out, we asked a few bonafide, penis-owning individuals if they could put it into words that coveted five seconds of orgasmic bliss. What we found? The question was downright hard. Asking men to explain the male orgasm was akin to having them describe the color orange. Regardless, we managed to cull a few truths.

1. The brain shuts off, and then a moment of clarity arises.

Andrew, a 30-year-old computer programmer said that during sex he’s in a trance-like, robotic state. While he’s physically there, his mind wanders into deep horny forests, that if asked about, are just as ephemeral and hard to explain as the orgasm itself, but after he comes? “Everything makes sense for a split second. Like I’m seeing things clearly for the first time. That to me is the most powerful thing about orgasm, the moments afterward.”

2. It’s feeling of passing “energy.”

Adam a 27-year-old set designer says his orgasms are different depending on whether he’s masturbating or having sex. Masturbation for him results in an orgasm out of necessity, but when he comes inside a woman he explains it as almost spiritual. “I feel like I’m passing the core of my soul to someone,” he said. When we thought he couldn’t be serious, he concluded, “not to be cheesy, but its like sharing your energy with somebody. Being so close to someone during a very vulnerable period.”

3. The intensity varies depending on how long he holds out.

Paul, a 23-year-old actor says his most intense and earth shattering climaxes happen after he’s reached the edge and held out a few times. “There’s a differences between just letting loose when you first feel the urge and challenging yourself to hold out. I’m a million times more exhausted after I’ve stopped and kept going.”

4. Women’s are indeed longer — and possibly better.

Wes, a 26-year-old advertising copywriter, reiterates the already known fact that the male orgasm is inherently shorter than a female’s. It also doesn’t seem to be quite as euphoric. “My girlfriend seems to experience her orgasm in lingering waves. Ours isn’t like that. We have a very intense 3-5 second burst, if that, and then our entire body goes numb. It feels good, but I get the feeling hers are better.”

This article originally appeared on YourTango.

More from YourTango:

 



Confession: A Cab Driver Found My G-Spot & Spoiled Me for All Boyfriends

November 6, 2014

0 Comments


by Dori Hartley for YourTango  |  photo via flickr

The year was 1985. I was walking on Third Avenue in New York City, probably going to the store for no good reason. It was a gorgeous day. On the corner, a cab stopped at the light. The car was free and the driver smiled at me as I passed in front of his vehicle. I couldn’t help but notice how drop-dead gorgeous he was: exceptionally handsome face, long, raven-black hair. I was immediately attracted to him. I raised my hand to hail him down, and he pulled to the curb to let me in. I sat in the front seat. The sexual magnetism between us was break-the-Richter-scale material. I wasn’t there to be his fare and he wasn’t there to be my driver.

Bear in mind, this was the ’80s. Right before things like AIDS and safe sex became part of life as we now know it — the idea of casual sex and instant sexual gratification were not only considered normal, but appropriate for the times. It was cool to have sex with anyone you wanted back then and we did it freely, happily and without conscience. While the ’60s may have been the era that ushered in the concept of free sex, it wasn’t until the ’80s that we really got our freak on. As soon as HIV hit the scene, we all knew that the game had changed forever. As it grew into an epidemic, our days of unsafe sex slowed to halt — for those of us who were using our brains, anyway. I’m just saying that back then — as stupid and reckless as we truly were — we had a damned good time of it.

So there I was, in a stranger’s taxi on a beautiful day. Turns out that the driver — whom I will call Nile — was hilarious. Not only adorable, but a comic genius. His sense of humor was so off the chain that I just decided to drive around with him all day long. We picked up passengers and drove them everywhere. And, as the day got on, we decided to go to a motel — and I mean a real, vile, disgusting ‘one-hour’ motel somewhere in Queens.

I’d never done anything like that in my life, but I was unafraid and willing to take a chance. Sure, these days, the thought of such a thing is enough to give you five heart attacks in a row, but back then, we were all fearless. And I was absolutely fearless, and in some odd primal way, it paid off.

I’d never been with a guy who was mainly interested in pleasing me. In fact, every guy I’d ever been with had turned out to be an “I get off, you don’t, and then I fall asleep” type of lover. Why I ever went back for more was always a mystery to me, because my experience until that point had shown me that guys enjoy sex to get off, and they don’t really care about the woman’s orgasm. Anyway, all that changed with Nile.

Nile had no qualms whatsoever about going down on me, right there, first thing. I don’t even think I took my clothes off. I don’t even think he took his clothes off either. All I know was that by the time we reached the bed, he was nose-deep in my stuff. And let me tell you: it was a calling for him. This was no regular ol’ guy; this was The Cunnilingus King. There was no one higher than Nile when it came to this specialty. He set the gold standard for goin’ down. If an award could be given for this act, then Nile would be able to fill mansions with hard-earned trophies. I went from a slightly inhibited free spirit to a screeching sex banshee in a matter of a few wondrous, slowly paced minutes.

In fact, I’m fairly sure that this was what he needed to be doing with his life. After being with Nile several times, I really believed that every woman on Earth would benefit from a night with this incredible lover. No woman should be denied a night with Nile. It was just how I felt. And if every single heterosexual man could just study this guy in action, the world — all of it — would be a happier place to live.

And, to boot, he really didn’t care about much else in the sex department. Oh sure, he liked to be pleasured as well, and the act of coitus was just as lovely to him as anything else. But nothing brought out the best in this guy like bringing a woman to a full throttle, massive overhaul orgasm with the simple use of his tongue and his fingers.

I stayed with Nile for almost five years. The funny thing was, we really couldn’t stand each other after a while. We were in love, but not so much. We fought all the time, but I’m pretty sure that was all so we’d have a good excuse to get to the make-up sex, which was all about — you guessed it! — pleasing me. Phew, the things I did to keep the peace.

After Nile I and eventually broke up, my capacity for having earth-shattering orgasms had grown to such a height that no man alive could ever come close. He had set the bar too high, and no one ever did come close. I tried to analyze just what Nile was doing that made him so much better than everyone else, and I found it: He had discovered my g-spot with his fingers, up in there, while doing the licky thing on my super erogenous zones.

The g-spot that I never thought existed, that I laughed at when I heard other women speak of. It existed and all those Hallelujah sessions were made possible because of it. I just didn’t know it at the time. Nile was a g-spot master.

I’d always been under the impression that the g-spot could only be accessed through intercourse. Post-Nile, I put two and two together and realized, “Ah, so that’s what he was doing with his fingers all that time!” He would push, from the inside, towards his mouth, which was working at some kind of rate that only angels can achieve, and the feeling of receiving both clitoral and g-spot stimulation at the same time — well, you’d stick around for five years too!

I’ve tried to tell other guys to do what Nile did, but they just insist on doing it their way. They don’t get the hint. And it’s so simple too.

Guys, do you want to please your lady in the bed? Here’s how: two fingers on the inside, an eager tongue on the outside and most of all, a real desire to revel in her orgasm — because she will give it to you. Again and again and again.

More from YourTango:

This article originally appeared on YourTango: How a Cab Driver Found My G-Spot and Gave Me the Best Sex Ever



An Open Letter to Our Readers About That Football & Rape Piece

October 21, 2014

0 Comments


photo via Flickr

Dear Readers (Robert in particular),

Our recent post, Is Football More Important Than Rape, syndicated by us from YourTango and written by Charles J. Orlando, ignited one of the most spirited and thoughtful debates EMandLO.com has had in a long time. The first response came from Robert, a long-time reader, now (sniff) no-more:

I come to Em and Lo to read articles that are fair and interesting. I like reading about empowering women, gender equality, and sexual exploration. BUT I will not do it at the expense of my beliefs in due process, racial equality, and just being [a] good human free of hate.

The incendiary piece puts forth Orlando’s opinion that FSU football player Jameis Winston is guilty of the date rape he’s been accused of (despite a lack of trial or conviction) and that the police, the FSU Athletic Department, and Winston’s friends are all accomplices by not reporting it, not investigating it properly and essentially covering it up — and that these people did this because money, football and winning are more important than the victim.

In all honesty, we were not that familiar with the Winston case when the piece came to us. We skimmed Orlando’s post, thought it was relevant to all the recent revelations of football industry cover-ups, and posted it without much thought and without any intro or commentary from us. Admittedly, not ideal.

We agree with Robert that the open letter format and the tone of the post did not subscribe to the “innocent until proven guilty” presumption our justice system affords every citizen; it was definitely judgmental and condescending. We also agree with Robert that if Orlando had instead written a calmer, more general piece about what’s wrong with football culture, it would get less attention, generate less discourse. And we just appreciated — perhaps a bit myopically — a man expressing outrage over the larger, very real institution of sexism in our culture which keeps sexual harassment and assault, rape, and domestic abuse against women at epidemic levels despite this being the 21st century. We think it’s important to keep these topics — the football industry’s cover ups of crimes, America’s rape culture, issues of money and power and (in)justice, etc —  open for discussion and debate. And we trust our smart readers to be able to engage with this kind of piece, even when they don’t agree with it 100% (or at all). Finally, while our justice system is a model for the world, it doesn’t always get things right, and sometimes gets things very wrong, so people are free to form opinions that may not square with judicial outcomes. For all those reasons, we just went with it.

Other thoughtful readers chimed in, including our MVP commenter Johnny (natch):

Robert’s right that everyone should just stay out of this and let the law run its course. Dave is right that the law needs to actually step up and do just that. Which they might have if the accuser had aggressively pursued the issue.

But this is talking about an ideal world, not the real world. In our current situation, the law is not adequately dealing with this and other related cases because of so many issues: sexism, secrecy, shame, power imbalance, advertising dollars, etc. Let’s take another example: Should African Americans be profiled by the police? No. Are they? Yes. Should football players get special treatment when it comes to crimes committed? No. Do they? Yes. So people can’t and shouldn’t stay out of these things (even the reactionary loudmouths).

We will say this: we definitely did not decide to run this rant because a black man had sex with a white woman, or because we believed this fueled Orlando’s motivations for penning the piece in the first place. We didn’t even know what color Winston’s skin was until after we had decided to post it and went looking for an image of him. Nor did we know what color the alleged victim was until Robert mentioned it in the comments. What this makes us guilty of, at most, is not being very responsible or professional bloggers. As a feminist site about sex and love, EMandLO.com’s first concerns with this story are sexism, sex crimes, and sex just gone horribly, horribly wrong. Both racism and sexism are alive and well in this country; the focus of this site happens to be on the latter. And as anyone who’s ever read our site  (Robert?) knows, we are big supporters of love in any combination of colors, orientations, and numbers, so long as it’s safe, sane, respectful, and consensual.

We’re sorry we disappointed you, Robert, and we hope you’ll reconsider your decision to break up with us. Not everything we post by someone else — be it a writer or a commenter — perfectly represents our own views and philosophies. We appreciate your detailed response, and are grateful for the conversation it generated and the questions it has raised (even if we don’t have the answers!). Please consider coming back every once and a while and helping to keep things interesting and challenging around here.

Sincerely,

Em & Lo

RELATED ARTICLES ON EMandLO.com:



Confession: Binge-Watching Saved My Marriage!

October 3, 2014

0 Comments


by YourTango  |  photo via flickr

It didn’t matter what we were binge-watching; it just mattered that we were binge-watching together.

I sat at my desk waiting for the clock to tick just close enough to 5:00 p.m. so that I could duck out early from work. My man was waiting for me at home, and I didn’t want to keep him waiting any longer than necessary. I was excited to get home, throw on some comfortable clothes, and curl up on the couch with my favorite man of the moment, Walter White. Granted, I wasn’t so much physically curling up with him as I was spending my evenings peering inside his mind, but either way, I couldn’t wait to find out what else was going to happen on Breaking Bad. After all, my marriage depended on it.

Sound strange? It shouldn’t. My husband and I had been slowly drifting apart for a few months. After work, he would often retreat to the basement to work on the non-profit he recently started. I’d flip open my laptop and continue to work after he went downstairs, knowing I’m a lot more productive at night when nobody’s around to respond to my emails. (I’m also more productive when I’m not wearing pants, but that’s neither here nor there.) Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like our marriage was falling apart, but our closeness was definitely drifting. We didn’t notice it at first. After all, we both lived under the same roof every night and we weren’t cheating on each other or spending too much time with our friends. But still, there was distance.

I vowed to fix it. I knew my husband and I needed to find something in common that we could unite over. Our interests are very different, so I knew there was no chance of successfully enjoying dance lessons or going to the gym together. We needed something we could enjoy together that would spark discussions and give us something to look forward to every night, TOGETHER. And then it hit me: binge watching Breaking Bad was the secret to saving our marriage…

Read the rest over at YourTango.com: Breaking Bad Saved My Marriage (No, Really)



I Took My Kids to the Jeff Koons Retrospective (Oops)

September 10, 2014

2 Comments


from the Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney

My family had an opportunity to visit New York City for a full week recently. It was the longest my husband and I (the Lo half of Em & Lo) had been there since having kids. Before breeding, we’d lived there for years, gorging on the countless cultural opportunities at our disposal. Post-spawn, we moved to the Hudson Valley and have only managed the occasional day-trip back. But thanks to friends whose summer plans left their kid-friendly Brooklyn apartment empty, we got to live the life of city parents, complete with a borrowed Maclaren (natch).

I was determined to pack it in:

  • MoMA – check!
  • Off-Broadway show with discount tickets from TKTS – check!
  • Row boat ride on The Lake in Central Park – check!
  • Outdoor family movie at South Street Seaport – check!
  • Visiting all 9 playgrounds of Brooklyn Bridge Park…in one day - check!

The only thing left was a visit to the Whitney to catch the popular Jeff Koons retrospective. With its bright bubblegum colors, its larger-than-life scales, its cartoonish sensibilities, it would be perfect for kids, right?

My husband had to work that day, so I hauled my daughter, 6, my son, 3, the snack bag and the stroller from Carroll Gardens all the way uptown on the F, and then the 6, in sweltering August heat. By the time we got to the Whitney, the kids were done. Not one to let something like my kids’ exhaustion get in the way of their cultural education or my own artistic enjoyment, I was determined to visit all six — count ‘em, six — floors of the show (it’s the first time a single artist has taken up so much real estate at the Whitney).

I felt a cool breeze coming off the ticket salesperson. Was it the poor fit of my mom jeans or my sensible shoes? Could he tell I was dragging these poor kids along against their will? Or did the fact that I failed to donate money to the museum beyond the cost of my ticket irk him? (Hey, kids tix are officially free. Plus, this new economy can be brutal on bloggers.) When I asked which floors were must-see for kids, I got no friendly warnings.

We started with what would be the surest kid-pleaser: the 4th floor, with its ginormous, metallic, balloon-animal dog; the rainbow-colored mountain of Play-Doh poop; and the oversized kitten hanging in a clotheslined sock. As we rode up the crowded elevator, I imagined my children’s eyes widening with wonder and their jaws dropping open with awe at these sights.

The elevator doors opened, we took a look around, and within 30 seconds they both told me they were ready to leave. This was going to be a challenge.

I kicked it into high gear, breezing through each gallery, swerving around patrons’ toes, wrangling the kids and reminding them about 20 billion times not to touch anything — all so we could get in and out without any meltdowns from my kids (or me). In my haste, I must have missed the small plaque that apparently gives a warning to parents and those with delicate sensibilities about the graphic content of the works around one corner.

So there we were, suddenly face to face with Elvis, a painting depicting a plastic blow-up toy in the shape of a lobster flanked by two images of topless (and, for all intents and purposes, bottomless) Playboy Playmates, with their silicone breasts and impossibly smooth skin. Kind of funny, if I’d had a second to think about it, but my visceral reaction was, I don’t want my daughter to think that this is what women are supposed to look like. I must have made some involuntary groan. It was the first time during our visit that my daughter really looked at the art. (Fortunately, my son was more interested in the intricacies of his belly button than the pictures on the walls.)

Pressing on — quickly, quickly — we turned another corner and found one of the mural-sized works from his 25-year-old “Made in Heaven” series, featuring a naked Jeff Koons and his Italian porn-star soon-to-be-wife (now ex). His penis and testicles and her pube-free vulva were at kid eye level. A woman behind me told her friend rather sternly — and loudly — “This is not appropriate for children.”

I panicked, mumbling something to my kids like, “Nothing to see here!”, and bee-lined it to the next, less scandalous room.

We made it out alive. The kids hopefully made it out unscarred. But I sure didn’t help matters. One might think a person who writes about sex for a living, endorses comprehensive sex education, uses accurate anatomical terms with her kids (e.g. wash your vulva; boys have penises, girls have clitorises), answers questions about where babies come from honestly and without shame, and tries to exude a positive body image in all states of dress (even if she has to fake it) would be able to handle her kids seeing nude artwork with aplomb and grace. But my fear of being perceived by strangers as a bad parent, along with my own deep-seated embarrassment, won out.

I realize now that my frazzled reaction made this nudity a bigger deal than it was, made it instantly taboo, and therefore gave it more power, mystery and allure than it would have had otherwise. After all, we all have bodies — and genitals — that come in different shapes and sizes; just as everybody poops, everybody is naked under their clothes. The most offensive thing about the painting of the couple was actually the incredibly tacky ’80s accessories the woman was wearing. (I mean, white lace thigh highs and a floral headband? Come on!) Even Elvis‘s fake boobs — which I am generally not a fan of, for both philosophical and aesthetic reasons — weren’t as offensive as some of the violence portrayed (and thus condoned) in contemporary kids’ cartoons and movies. But I’ve certainly let my kids watch those without as much guilt. (I mean, machine guns in Disney’s Cars 2? Come on!)

What I should have done was acted normal and unfazed, gotten through the museum in a calm and orderly fashion, then asked my daughter what she thought of the show and if she had any questions about what she had seen. Probably not a teachable moment on the ills of the cosmetic surgery industry or the benefits of pubic hair. But maybe something a little less Nudity = Shame.

Actually, what I really should have done was bitten off only what I and my kids could realistically chew, been content with seeing just the 4th floor, and then taken them to get ice cream, stat. But that’s another parenting article altogether.

MORE LIKE THIS ON EMandLO.com

 



Confession: The Problem with Bisexuality

April 1, 2014

2 Comments

Yesterday, Nathaniel Frank gave us a male perspective on bisexuality; today, we’re getting a female perspective. In honor of the culmination of Bisexual Awareness Month yesterday, our long-time contributor Ariel E.M. Servadio wrote the following article on her recently relaunched Cephaloblog about her own bisexuality, which she’s graciously allowing us to reprint here today. 

 

Make up your mind already.

My problem with bisexuality is not that “they just can’t decide.” My problem is not that “they’re confused.” My problem is not that “they’re being greedy”. My problem is that “they” are me, and you probably didn’t know that.

Really, it’s just not fair – bisexuals can live under the guise of being straight, and therefore conform more nicely into society somewhat unintentionally, if they just happen to only meet and date people of the opposite sex. I know this, because it’s what I’ve done all of my life.

 

It makes me feel guilty. In a culture where LGBTetc. rights are finally getting the respect and legal recognition that they deserve, and more people than ever are truly “out and proud,” I am hiding in plain sight. I guess I’m not out – but truthfully, I was never really in. Because I’m gay. And I’m straight. Once, in complimenting my outfit, my friend told me “You kind of look like a lesbian”1 and I replied, “that’s funny, because I am kind of a lesbian!” Jokingly, I’ve described myself as half-lesbian, or half-gay.

Growing up, I just thought I was very open minded. I felt that for me personally, it was more about the person inside than their genitalia. I realize that’s not the case for everyone and that’s fine – that’s just how I’ve always felt. But it never really occurred to me that that person would ever be a woman, because I was only ever attracted to and dated men. Although I occasionally found myself sexually attracted to women throughout my post-pubescent life, no one needed to know about it, because I had no intentions of acting on it. I never met a woman I wanted to date. It just didn’t happen. Once, much later, I finally did meet a woman that I wanted to date, and we ended up becoming great friends instead.2

And this is really where the problem with bisexuality comes in: the truth of the matter is, I have a choice.

Let me affirm that I do not believe sexual orientation is a lifestyle choice in any way, shape or form. To quote Lady GaGa, “I was born this way, baby.” But I do, perhaps to the detriment of our already quavering reputation, think that bisexuals have a choice in the way they live their lives. Regardless of whether I’m born with an attraction to both men and women or not, if I only seek romantic relationships with the opposite sex out of societal conditioning, convenience, fear or utter cluelessness, I can live an easier, more socially acceptable, straight life.

I could spend the rest of my life choosing not to pursue romantic relationships with the same sex and live as a heterosexual, as far as everyone else knows. If federal and state laws don’t go my way and don’t respect homosexuals as human beings that deserve the same rights as all other human beings, no sweat – I can marry a man, adopt a child with him, whatever I want, and everyone will be 1) none the wiser and 2) never disgusted by how I live my life.

And that’s just not fucking fair.

You can’t help who you fall in love with, that is true – I mean, hey, I’m as big a fan of Chasing Amy as anyone. But is it unrealistic to think that I can, and have, influenced my sexual orientation over the years by unconsciously not considering women dateable? Being straight is so easy, so smiled upon, so normal – who would choose to live any other way?

No one would, and that is why it is a certainty that sexuality is inherent. I guess in a sense, we all do have a choice when it comes to sexuality: to be happy and live as who we truly are, or to be unhappy and socially acceptable. And anyone who chooses unhappiness, despite how much society shits on you otherwise, is choosing wrong. Your happiness is everything. The entire point of life is to be happy – why choose anything else?

What my problem ultimately comes down to is this – if I never date and fall in love with a girl, I could live the rest of my life as a straight woman. But I’m not going to. Because whether I ever end up doing so or not, I know that I would, and I won’t limit myself with a binary label. I’ve made up my mind: I’m bisexual.

1. She sincerely meant this in the best way possible – she loves lesbians. 

2. This can be a problem with women, I’ve found – real crushes can turn into friend crushes which can turn into incredible friendships with no romantic possibility, ever. Sigh, the sapphic life. 

Craig Ferguson perfectly articulates my feelings about coffee, tea and bisexuality:

Craig, where do yo come down on the tea vs. coffee debate?
There is no tea vs. coffee debate!
You're making it up!
I like tea, I like coffee!
I like milk chocolate, I like dark chocolate!
I like penises, I like vaginas!


Confession: (My) Bisexuality Is Really Not That Complicated

March 31, 2014

2 Comments

In honor of the last day of Bisexuality Awareness Month (it’s sort of ironically fitting, given how overlooked bisexuality so often is, that we only just realized March was Bisexual Awareness Month), we’re publishing an essay by our friend Nathaniel Frank, originally posted on Slate. He is best known as the author of the book Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America, and was an expert witness in two Constitutional challenges to “don’t ask, don’t tell,” whose success helped end the policy. And though he’s been a friend for years, until he published this essay, we’d always assumed he was gay. Which is one of many reasons why we wanted to publish it…

Bisexuality has been the subject of chatter lately, since the New York Times Magazine ran a cover story on the quest to prove it exists. There was a time when I used to dread this topic. I’m one of those people who, when pressed, identifies as bi, but far more often says I’m gay. And I’m not alone: When surveyed, a majority of LGB people say they’re “B,” but how many self-identified bisexuals do you know? Most Americans have gay or lesbian friends and associates, but many fewer seem to have bisexual ones that they know of, despite their statistical ubiquity among LGB people.

Why don’t bisexuals like me come out more? Part of it is laziness. But you don’t find many gay or straight people identifying as something other than who they really are just because they’re lazy. Part of it is stigma. As discussed in (and, some say, perpetuated by) the Times Magazine piece, bisexuals get little respect, not only from the world at large, but specifically from gays and lesbians, some of whom have long insisted they don’t exist. There is a widespread belief that those who identify as bi are either in a transitional stage or are lying (to themselves or others)—trying to savor the status of straightitude while enjoying the pleasures of gaydom. And this suspicion of the enduring reality of bisexuality contributes to “bisexual erasure,” which the Times piece defines as “the idea that bisexuality is systematically minimized and dismissed.” Read the rest of this entry »



Confession: My Husband Has No Penis

October 15, 2013

7 Comments


photo via Flickr

Amy Bronwen Zemser — “writer, squirrel hunter, breastfeeder, homosexual” — just launched her new, provocative blog, AmyBronwenZemser.com. We have the honor of publishing an abridged version of one of her recent hilarious posts about coming out, homophilia, and cases of mistaken sexual identity (read the unabridged version here). Enjoy!

***

I’ll tell you a secret.

I still have some internalized homophobia.  So I get squeamish when I have to come out.

I don’t have to come out very often, but the situation does arise if I have to say, switch opthamologists.  Or if Ray wants to play with a child whose parent I do not know. Just recently, after I told the mother of a child in Ray’s Suzuki violin class that I was one of two moms, she looked at me with a completely straight face and said,  “There was a girl in my daughter’s class who had that.”

Had what?  The malaise of homosexuality?  The disfiguring disease of conjoined motherhood?

Once, when I was adjuncting at St. John’s university, the topic of homosexuality came up.

“I heard it runs in families,” an English professor said.

“Oh yes,” I chimed in.  “My brother and I both inherited homophilia.  Haven’t you heard?  It’s very catching.  Do you want your spoon back?”

I don’t want to be labeled, see.  Who does?  Even if only a portion of the lesbian population have wiffles,  I still have trouble coming out with it in ordinary conversation.  I hate the word “lesbian” because it makes me think of a bunch of women wearing patchouli and making out with each other on some Greek island.  Gay is generally a term for the boys (although I do use it) and queer still means strange to a lot of people.  I do love the word homosexual because there’s a whiff of the scientific there, and it’s funny, but admittedly I say the word in a humorous way as a coping mechanism.

Hi, I’m Amy, and I’m a homosexual.  A HOMOsexual.

To call oneself any one thing — a homosexual or a writer or a parent or a squirrel killer, for that matter, is just plain reductive. Nobody want to be any one thing.  I am the sum of all my complicated and contradictory parts.

But sometimes, as with the Suzuki violin mother, introductions occur, and you have to come up with something better than same-sex touchmonkey or Zena warrior.

I have found a solution to this issue, though.  I have my own special little stock phrase that I integrate into a conversation, when I have to let someone know that my spouse is female, and so far it has worked out beautifully:

My husband has no penis.

This is a very effective strategy.  It is funny, it is fast, and you don’t have to use the words transgender or queer.

Fine, I give you that it’s a lot longer than the word gay, but it’s infinitely more original, especially when you are at a gas station having a cigarette and you can casually blow smoke out the side of your mouth and say, oh, you know, my husband has no penis, so we just use the same rest room at the truck stop.

When Lynn and I were first trying to get pregnant, we spent a lot of time at the fertility clinic.  We spoke to many physicians at the outset who tried to convince me that we needed to use medical intervention in order to get pregnant, even though we had no idea whether, at 37, I was infertile or not.  Conversations would invariably get to this point:

Me: I’ve never tried to get pregnant before. I don’t know if I’m infertile.  I mean, do you have any statistics?

Fancy Fertility Doctor: What kind of statistics?

Me: Like, how many women come to the infertility office to get pregnant not because of low sperm count or advanced maternal age, but because, you know, their husband has no penis.   Ha ha.  HA HA HA HA HA.

FFD: (silence)

Me: My husband has no penis!  HA HA HA HA HA HA

I can’t get pregnant, I’d go on, pointing to Lynn.  We try and try but something must be very wrong with him, doctor, I really do think something is terribly wrong.

At this point Lynn turns purple and looks out the window.  Sometimes she’ll smile meekly and say this is Amy from the Catskills Resort, and her next joke will be….

For some reason I find my little joke absolutely hysterical.  I realize it sounds inane and embarrassing and puerile, like I’m in the seventh grade in Gloria Vanderbilts and feathered hair.  But every time I say it, it just gets funnier.  More importantly, it also makes real sense.  What could be a more banal, a more pedestrian and reasonable way to work into a conversation that you are gay than to say that your husband has no penis?

Since my husband has no penis, we don’t have federal marriage protection under the law.

My husband has no penis — of course we love the Indigo Girls.

Sure do wish my husband had a penis.  If he did, he surely wouldn’t need to adopt his own three kids.

Since my husband has no penis I had to drive all the way to Mt. Kisco to get my ovaries fluffed before Tuesday’s insemination in Manhattan.

Usually nobody laughs at my private joke, but I am always happy to have it.  It means I don’t have to say lesbian.  Gay.  HOMOsexual.

I hate the label, so I make a joke.  I don’t want to be reduced, so I make a joke.  I make a joke, I make a joke, I make a joke.

One time, at one of my poker games, my friend Melissa, a dentist, told me that after I had gone in for a cleaning, her administrative assistant shook her head sadly after me, saying, “That poor woman.  Did she tell you? Her husband,” and here she lowered her voice to a whisper, “Her husband has no penis.”

It took Melissa a while to explain to the woman that I was a lesbian, and that I didn’t have a husband at all.

“But what about the penis,” she insisted.  “What happened to it?  How did it come off?  How terribly painful that must have been.  For both of them.  In different ways, of course.”

Melissa said they had to go around a few times before it was all straightened out and the next patient could go in for his bite wings.

At this point most of the women around my Texas Hold ‘em table were wiping their eyes and crying over this poor office assistant who  seriously thought the reason I was having trouble conceiving was because, despite vigorous attempts, my penis-less husband was unable to squeeze any seeds from his fruitless loins.

I must admit that I would love to know if any of you use different terms to get around the discomfort of coming out.  If you are reading this and you are not a homosexual, then try and drum up a gay memory or two, perhaps the time you made out with your best friend in college.  Please share your experiences and thoughts on my very public forum.  What do you have to lose?  At worst you’ll be deeply humiliated. At best there is always deep shame.  It’s all good.  Everybody wins.

***

For more hilarity on artificial insemination, gay parenting and squirrel hunting (for real!), check out  AmyBronwenZemser.com.