Em & Lo: Sex. Love. And Everything in Between. » Personal Post http://www.emandlo.com Your daily dose of advice, news, and stories about sex, love, and other important stuff. No yoga mat required. Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:05:06 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.3.1 An Open Letter to Our Readers About That Football & Rape Piece http://www.emandlo.com/2014/10/an-open-letter-to-our-thoughtful-readers-about-that-football-rape-piece/ http://www.emandlo.com/2014/10/an-open-letter-to-our-thoughtful-readers-about-that-football-rape-piece/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:20:01 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=30420
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

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Confession: Binge-Watching Saved My Marriage! http://www.emandlo.com/2014/10/confession-binge-watching-saved-my-marriage/ http://www.emandlo.com/2014/10/confession-binge-watching-saved-my-marriage/#comments Fri, 03 Oct 2014 20:53:51 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=30248
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)

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I Took My Kids to the Jeff Koons Retrospective (Oops) http://www.emandlo.com/2014/09/i-took-my-kids-to-the-jeff-koons-retrospective-oops/ http://www.emandlo.com/2014/09/i-took-my-kids-to-the-jeff-koons-retrospective-oops/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 22:32:03 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=29955
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.

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Confession: The Problem with Bisexuality http://www.emandlo.com/2014/04/confession-the-problem-with-bisexuality/ http://www.emandlo.com/2014/04/confession-the-problem-with-bisexuality/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 09:35:46 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=27970

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!
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Confession: (My) Bisexuality Is Really Not That Complicated http://www.emandlo.com/2014/03/confession-my-bisexuality-is-really-not-that-complicated/ http://www.emandlo.com/2014/03/confession-my-bisexuality-is-really-not-that-complicated/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 13:54:15 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=27964

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.”

But stigma doesn’t really explain it either. The brighter line than gay vs. bi is the divide between straight and not, and the ability of so many gay and lesbian people to come out makes it hard to attribute the bi closet, at this point in history, to stigma alone.

There’s something about bisexuality that seems to lend itself to erasure, and not just by an oppressor class but by bisexuals themselves. I think some of the reason is contained in the bright-line distinction mentioned above: Our culture is so infused with assumptions of heterosexuality that crossing that line—between heterosexuality and everything else—becomes a far more meaningful act for many LGB people than where, exactly, we land on the other side.

But the territory on that other side is now taking on new importance in a world where so many gay rights battles are being won. And so it seems an apt time for a closer look at broader questions about the spectrum of sexuality.

A great deal of confusion around bisexuality seems to stem from the crucial but often-misunderstood distinction between identity and behavior. Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern critiques the Times piece—and bi activists—for insufficiently defining bisexuality as an “identity,” and for leaving the impression that it’s largely “something you simply do” rather than someone you are. If this is true, bisexual erasure is to be expected. Whatever our feelings about monogamy may be, and whatever our success rates in achieving it, most of us, at some point, hunker down with a single partner. If bisexuality is acts-based, it can seem largely irrelevant to say you like both sexes when you’re partnered with one.

On the surface, there’s something perfectly reasonable about defining bisexuality as acts-based. That’s what we do with other identities. Bakers are bakers because they bake. Firemen fight fires. Criminals commit crimes. So bisexuals sleep with both genders, right? But from this simplistic understanding, sloppy stereotypes too easily emerge: Bisexuals must desire both genders equally or they’re not really bi; and if they desire both genders equally, they’ll never be satisfied with monogamy, because they must sleep with someone of each gender consistently to be identifying as bi. Openness to both genders gets redefined as needing both genders. And having a range of desires—which, as Freud pointed out, is the most obvious way to characterize all humans—is reconverted back into the binary our culture just can’t shake: You can like one sex or you can like two equally, but none of this weird spectrum crap.

This is silly. Some feelings and beliefs, as opposed to acts, are considered so profound and enduring that people identify around them regardless of how they behave. Romantic desire may be one of these things. You’re straight or gay even if you’re a virgin. So why not bisexual? Faith is another source of enduring identity, and many religions have their own internal debate about this. Some people don’t consider you a Christian if you don’t, as an act of will, believe in Jesus. Yet I’m a Jew no matter what I do.

I’m also bisexual, no matter what I do—and I don’t have to renew my bi card by sleeping with a woman every 10 years. I don’t scream it out, but I refuse to exorcize that part of myself when the question comes up. I suppose my bisexuality is not as politically or socially useful as my gay identity, accounting for the difference in how I bother to identify publicly. But it’s there nonetheless.

To the extent that I care about bisexual identity, it’s obviously on me that, by too often failing to identify as bi, I’ve contributed to bisexual erasure. And there are some good reasons to care. As Zack Ford points out over at ThinkProgress, “affirming bisexuality is a public health concern,” since bi-identified people face disproportionate mental and physical health challenges, including greater partner violence and harassment.

This is an obvious concern. At a personal level, however, my concern is simpler: I don’t want my feelings negated. It’s not that I need to let it all hang out and be affirmed; I just don’t like people telling me that I don’t (or didn’t) feel what I feel. Especially not if it’s because they have too limited a view of how the world works—there is a narcissistic aspect to the belief that others must have the same sexuality as you do, an inability to step outside of the self to contemplate genuine difference.

What’s it like to have feelings for both sexes? In high school, I was uninitiated and inexperienced in the ways of love. I had crushes on straight boys that went nowhere and did nothing to help deepen my understanding of how to navigate a viable relationship. But I also had sustained crushes on girls. I figured one day I’d have a wife, and I didn’t often stop to contemplate whether that would mean forgoing the kind of sex that excited me even more than the kind you could have with girls.

Had this been as far as I went with women—that is, not far at all—I may never have bothered to identify as bisexual then or since. But it wasn’t. In college and throughout my 20s, I pursued relationships with women (along with more furtive ones with men). A few became serious, lasting on and off for years. We had romantic dinners, long talks, and extremely satisfying sex. Some aspects of those relationships I’ve never matched since. They were deep, intimate, sexual, and satisfying. No matter how you look at them, they were real.

Still, they ultimately didn’t satisfy me enough. I longed for both the male body and connection with what I once described to a therapist as a man’s “himness.” And when it came to sex with women, I was a bit icked out by some sex acts—not really so different from other folks who are icked out by this or that form of sex. A rather analytic person, I agonized for years over what it was about men that I really pined for, something a wiser me later came to appreciate as a mystery better left unsolved.

What’s most notable to me about these experiences is how similar they are to those of non-bi people, even as our culture insists that sexual identity, but not other identities, conform to limiting binaries. Tons of people have relationships with someone who isn’t ultimately right for them, and we don’t say they were faking it for selfish gain. A guy whose strongest attractions were always for leggy blondes could fall for a short brunette, only to leave her for someone more to type. A Jewish girl committed to marrying another Jew could find herself deeply in love with a non-Jew and struggle through a relationship that brings great joy but is ultimately not satisfying (or is). Were these relationships fake, or built on lies?

I’m more drawn to men then women. But the more-than-platonic feelings I had for women (and could let myself have again if I weren’t happily engaged) were real. Gay men don’t have these feelings, so in that one, wholly neutral, and not very interesting way, I am different from gay men. I’m bi. That’s part of my past and, therefore, part of who I am.

I must say, I can’t blame people who worry about dating bisexuals. Given the pressure to be straight that still lingers in our culture, it seems quite reasonable to wonder if a bisexual person of the opposite sex is with you in an effort to be straight, and if you’re dating a bisexual of the same sex, it’s reasonable to wonder if that pressure will eventually get the better of him or her. That’s why our task in life involves knowing ourselves and seeing each other for who we are. And working to avoid the perpetration of unnecessary stigma, which exacerbates this problem. If more of us would focus on those things and less on boxing each other in, we’d all be a bit better off.

Nathaniel Frank, author of Unfriendly Fire and a visiting scholar at Columbia’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, is writing a book called The Anti-Gay Mind. This article originally appeared on Slate.com.

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Confession: My Husband Has No Penis http://www.emandlo.com/2013/10/confession-my-husband-has-no-penis/ http://www.emandlo.com/2013/10/confession-my-husband-has-no-penis/#comments Tue, 15 Oct 2013 12:00:17 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=25765
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.

 

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Comment of the Week: I’m Jealous of My Wife’s Friends http://www.emandlo.com/2013/08/comment-of-the-week-im-jealous-of-my-wifes-friends/ http://www.emandlo.com/2013/08/comment-of-the-week-im-jealous-of-my-wifes-friends/#comments Wed, 28 Aug 2013 16:00:52 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=25285

Reader Jeff posted the following in response to our post, “Your Call: Why Is My Husband Jealous of My Female Friendships?” We thought it would be a great jumping off point for a debate about how to compromise in a relationship when one person wants a lot more solo time with their friends than another. How and where do you draw the line, if at all?

I freely admit to people that I have discomfort and feelings of jealousy about my wife’s time spent with her numerous friends and co-workers, some single some married. To begin, our Saturday morning time may be interrupted before we are up and about with phone calls and instant messages. I rarely complain about it but it has a cumulative effect over time.

She has done fifteen vacations with friends away from me in the last fifteen years where she is the only married woman, usually for less than 7 days out. My wife is astounded that I even have a count on how many but I remember every one, very well. She is constantly being asked by her single friends about where to go next on girls trip, some very costly. I actually agreed to let her go to Vegas with 1 single friend recently if she behaved herself, which she seemed to have done. A girlfriend of hers that did not make the trip gave me crap about letting her go there which almost caused me to say some fairly unpleasant things to her that would have caused a serious rift in the friendship and marriage. ( p.s. advise your “friends” not to say such a thing to your husband if he actually trusted you !)

Bottom Line: I try not to resent my wife’s high level of time spent personally, on the phone, and on vacations with friends. It’s not good for our marriage. I have said that I have never had a desire to vacation without her and told her that I have no concept of what motivates her to want to go places without me. My guy time is done same day, there and back.

Men will generally always have an issue with being left home for two, but especially three weekends in a row, while a wife travels. Men will generally resent too much phone time if they have an active work life and little time with the spouse. Women, you just need to understand that this is not “3 year old” emotion, its called commitment and results from an honest desire to be with your wife. If there is a problem fitting your marriage into your agenda then the marriage is going nowhere good.

It is natural for men, especially after 20 years of marriage, to be concerned that their wife has more fun in her relationships with friends than in the marriage. If one has never noticed a the marriage where the wife drifted away from her spouse emotionally then one is just not paying attention. Any who cares is not going to stand idly buy and let that happen.

There is a spectrum to judging this type of jealousy as to whether it is normal or healthy. Who among would say jealousy is not a normal human emotion when loss to a rival is possible. Kneejerk reactions that this is about control aren’t doing anyone any good. Not allowing your wife any friends is over the top and ridiculous. Having your marriage interrupted by constant friend communication, friend time, and “girls” trips of more than a few days is also over the top.

Most men will draw the line on this issue somewhere — be assured of that. Be reasonable.

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Spam Poetry of the Week: Hurt of Condom http://www.emandlo.com/2013/08/spam-poetry-of-the-week-hurt-of-condom/ http://www.emandlo.com/2013/08/spam-poetry-of-the-week-hurt-of-condom/#comments Tue, 06 Aug 2013 12:00:59 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=25094

The following email recently arrived in our inbox.  We’re particularly fond of the line “there is not sweet taste for / Sex meeting.” Pure poetry. You’re welcome!

HURT OF CONDOM
WHICH USED AS CONTRACEPTIVE
TO PREVENT PREGNANCY IN
WOMEN
_______________________

When the man using
CONDOMS
As contraceptive the woman
Become mad and crazy… this duo to the semen of
Man is remaining In the CONDOMS
And it was not ejaculated and dropping in
Vagina of women there is not sweet taste for
Sex meeting .
Like that you are drinking tea or coffee with out
Sugar the coffee or tea is not sweet it is bitter.

Semen
Of man is like Sugar it make the coitus and
Sex meeting sweet to woman
The sex meeting
Sweet With out
CONDOMS
When man is not Using
CONDOMS
In sex meeting with woman the
Semen of man will Ejaculated and dropping and
Falling in vagina of Woman then the semen is
Absorbed by vagina wall and inter the blood
Circulation and reached the brain
Then the women mind become in a convenience
Mood and good feeling she is not be a Madden Or Crazy woman
______________________

ADVICE FOR YOU
_______________________
To good enjoy and pleasure in your sexual live
And good ERECTION of your CLITORIS i give
You this ADVICE

STOP

Practice reading and writing
Because practice reading and writing
Loosening and lowering the SEXUAL ability and power of you.
GO TO LIVE IN Villages and forestry far from cities and towns
Practice READING and WRITING make you unusual
Woman or SODOMITE (SODOMY) women.
__________________________________
SO WE HAVE NEW METHOD FOR
CONTRACEPTION
————————————————————————————————–
BARLEY AS CONTRACEPTIVE AND
SEX TONIC FOR MEN AND WOMEN
___________________________

BREAKFAST
* Barley loaf – bread
* Margarine
* Jam
* Tea or coffee
________________________

LUNCH
* Barley loaf – bread
* Grill ham
* Salad – (Cucumber, celery, Pepper, lettuce)
* Pickly – mayonnaise
* Pepsi cola
______________________________

DINNER
* Barley loaf – bread
* Fried egg in vegetable oil – With out shaking the yolk
* Prawns
* Oyster
* Shrimp
* Salad -(Cucumber, celery, pepper, lettuce)
___________________________________

IT IS FORBIDDEN TO EAT THE
Following FOOD cause it increase
Fertility in WOMEN and MEN
—————————————–
* RICE
* HONEY
* FRUITS (DATE – GRAPE – FIG – APPLE -
APRICOT – BANANA – PEACH ……..etc)
* OVINE MEAT (SHEEP)
* BOVINE MEAT (COW)
* FISH
________________________________________________________

The statistical indication of Successfulness of this method is finding
Out in population of
CHINA
Cause they depend on RICE since old or ancient times.

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Confession: I Want to Do My Boyfriend with a Strap-On http://www.emandlo.com/2013/06/confession-i-want-to-do-my-boyfriend-with-a-strap-on-2/ http://www.emandlo.com/2013/06/confession-i-want-to-do-my-boyfriend-with-a-strap-on-2/#comments Thu, 20 Jun 2013 12:00:54 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=24410 Strap-on harnesses are available for sale at GoodVibrations.com

Our contributor, a woman who wishes to remain anonymous, has a confession to make.

My boyfriend’s butt is beautiful. It’s pretty. It’s plump. It fits in the palm of my hand. I can’t keep my hands off it, and simply touching it turns me on. I’ve spanked it, kissed it, rubbed it, grabbed it, bit it — and now I want to stick something in it.  A strap-on dildo to be exact. I want to bend that boy over, face down, bum up, and do him in the most dirty of ways. I want to make his prostate gland giddy with anal afternoon delight.

So last November I said to him, “I want to do you in the butt with a strap-on. I think it’s only fair.” He’s not only put his peen in my vajayjay, he’s poked me in the tush too.

“Um, no.”  He laughed nervously and changed the subject. Needless to say, this no-bullshit approach did not work.

Unwavering in my attempt to stick my strap-on where the sun don’t shine, I approached him again in December with a more sensitive strategy:  “Just because I want to pack your fudge and you let me doesn’t mean you are a fudge packer, baby.”  I thought assuring him I wouldn’t think he was gay, but rather a try-anything-sexual would work for sure. Sadly, this simply wasn’t the case.

“I know,” he replied, “I just don’t want a dick in my butt.  It’s not going to feel good.”

With this important information, I devised a more detailed put-it-in-the-pooper plan.  In January, sounding oh so scientific (and as cute as can be), I spouted off some knowledge gleaned from this very site:

“The prostate gland is similar in size and shape to a walnut. It is located at the base of the bladder and surrounds the ejaculatory ducts and urethra. It is essentially the equivalent of the female G-spot, hence it’s called the P-spot.  When stimulated during anal sex, it can produce orgasms. The P-spot is your best friend and you’re ignoring him. That’s not very nice, now is it?  From what I hear he is very fun to hang out with.  Perhaps you should make a play date.”

Silence…more silence…then finally, what my pretty little ears have always wanted to hear.  “Maybe…”

After a month of many talks about how to travel the brown brick road, we agreed that purchasing a vibrating anal plug would be the best way to get things started. February arrived and with it a text message from my boyfriend that read, “I’m really excited for you to do me in the butt. Wanna buy a butt plug today?”  Hell yes I do.  Butt plug today, strap-on tomorrow!

Last week we went to Fascinations, a local sex shop, and purchased our very first 4-inch blue butt plug.  We rushed home, stripped off our clothes and jumped into bed.  He looked a bit uneasy.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” I asked him. “I only want to do this if you’re comfortable with it.”

“It’s probably going to feel like a turd,” he laughed. Not the response I was hoping for, but he bent over, face down, bum up, just as I’d imagined, and after applying a little lube I eased that blue puppy in.

I started slow and soft, in and out, in and out, then applied a bit more pressure. After a few minutes I turned on the vibrator located inside the butt plug.  It was loud.  Very loud. The longer I sat there on my knees behind him, the more I felt like I should be wearing latex gloves and a lab coat; perhaps throw in a clipboard and stethoscope as well. Probing is the word that came to mind.  It felt far too formal for my liking, and I could tell by his silence and his face in the mirror behind our bed that he was not enjoying the ride.

“Okay,” I said. “Let’s try a different approach.” We sat for a few minutes and discussed what would feel good.  We agreed that foreplay first without the butt plug was a good idea.

Some plug-free fondling led to some plug-free fellatio. And when he was good and ready, I popped the plug back in. He liked this combination of front and back attention much better, as did I. But after a while my mouth and hands needed a break, so we resumed the prostate exploration in the spooning position. I inserted the butt plug half-way in and angled it up towards his belly button to start. “That feels really good. It’s vibrating my balls.”  Then I pushed the plug all the way in and started feeling around left to right.  “That doesn’t feel so good,” he said.  So I started making soft, slow circles inside.  He liked that a lot.

After about an hour our anal endeavor was over and the search for his prostate gland was called off.  He didn’t orgasm and he was strangely quiet as we lay there. It occurred to me that maybe I was asking too much. Maybe expecting amazing orgasms from just the push of a button was unrealistic. Maybe we should have thought of the plug as a side dish rather than the main course. Maybe P-spot stimulation just doesn’t work for some guys, just like some ladies hate having their G-spot touched…

Then he turned to me, smiling, and said, “Practice makes perfect, baby. I’m ready for round two.  What about you?”

Like I said, butt plug today, strap-on tomorrow.

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***AN EM & LO ARCHIVE CLASSIC***

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Confession: I Am Heteroflexible http://www.emandlo.com/2013/06/confession-i-am-heteroflexible/ http://www.emandlo.com/2013/06/confession-i-am-heteroflexible/#comments Thu, 13 Jun 2013 12:00:32 +0000 emandlo http://www.emandlo.com/?p=24393

Our contributor is a college student who wishes to remain anonymous. She has this to say about labels…

I’m definitely not straight, definitely not gay, nowhere near asexual, and not exactly bisexual.

In its simplest form, the meaning of heteroflexible can be found on the sexual spectrum as a sliding scale between straight and bisexual — and this is the label I am most comfortable with, if I’m forced to give my sexual orientation a name.

I’m often not attracted to the conventional manly/good-looking man, and I like men who explore their own sexual flexibility. I often find myself sitting silently when my friends swoon or trade obscene sexual quips about men in magazines or on the streets. Even when I was as young as 2nd grade, I can remember not having as many crushes on my fellow peers as everyone else. In middle school, I had an unusual amount of male friends — and as it turned out, my best male friend had just as many female friends. Not surprisingly, under those circumstances, combined with hormones and peer judgement of preteens, we had more than one conversation about whether or not we were gay. Thus the contemplation of my sexuality began to evolve.

As soon as high school hit and puberty was in full swing, I was certain guys were on my mind and they were absolutely in my bed. But I still wanted to kiss girls too.

At that time, however, being bisexual had more of a stigma, even for women, and it wasn’t something people were jumping to identify with unless they’d had a “real” relationship with a woman. If you were like me, and had only kissed and crushed, then it was easier to just be a straight girl who liked watching The L Word.

And then, at the beginning of college, I took a class where the professor had us write down three one-word self-descriptors — such as “tall, white, male” or “lesbian, Asian, woman” — and then had us each cross one out. I crossed out my sexuality. Being “straight” didn’t feel right. I crossed out the descriptor that felt the least important to me. Maybe it didn’t feel as important because as a straight person I felt little oppression, but it also didn’t belong on the list because it didn’t feel a part of me.

This was a significant exercise for me because it allowed me to really think about my own sexuality. I always felt like my sexuality was very fluid, but at the time I had only ever had boyfriends and had only kissed women before. I felt like, if I identified as bisexual, I would be discriminated against. And also that I’d be a “poser” because I’d never had a girlfriend or even slept with a woman before. In other words, as Britney Spears almost kind of sang, I was not straight, not yet bisexual.

Part of me still feels uncomfortable about the idea of being in a relationship with a woman. Women and romance is still a mystery to me. I don’t even know what kind of woman would like me. The role I play and the type of relationship dynamics I have in my female vs male friendships are very distinct from one another. So I can’t help but think that a romantic relationship with a woman would be very different from the relationships I have with men. I think I would take a more submissive, possibly not as confident, position in a relationship with a woman. Whereas with men, I feel a perfect balance between mutual nurturing and free spirited-ness. The thought of being with a woman can feel scary, because it is an unknown.

I still think about women and have crushes on women, though. I sleep with women. I fantasize about women and how different being with a woman might be from being with a man. However, I always end up with bigger, more accessible relationships with men. I consider myself heteroflexible because that is what I feel is the closest label to my reality.

I could go without a label. Or pansexual even hits close to home. But heteroflexible feels more honest and genuine to what I’ve experienced. Maybe it’s simply my lack of experience that leaves me identifying as heteroflexible — or maybe it’s my heteroflexible nature that makes me lack a more bisexual existence. I suppose only time and self-exploration will tell.

Our sexuality can feel intimately intertwined with who we are. Labels can make us feel closer to or further from ourselves. They can map out and give us little pushes in the movement and labyrinth of defining oneself — being comfortable with accepting of oneself. For now I will let my heteroflexibility, sexual fluidity, and (oh yeah, thanks to Freud) my pleasure principle guide me.

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