Dating in NYC – The Dreaded Ghost

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People ask me all the time why I’ve decided to label myself as feral and completely leave the dating pool.  I admit my self-classification as “feral” is tongue-in-cheek.  It’s just my way of fully embracing my single identity.  A number of things have made me disillusioned about dating in the Big Apple.  The worst thing I’ve encountered more than once though is the dreaded ghost.  It’s not a wandering spirit or aberration who hasn’t made peace with the afterlife.  A ghost in terms of dating is a partner who’s decided to simply walk away with no contact or explanation after an intimate encounter.

The worst example ghosting happened to me years ago.  The man was someone I knew well, or at least I thought I did.  To protect his identity I won’t reveal anything about him – his age, occupation or any physical characteristics.  I’ll simply call him Kevin, although that’s not his real name.

Kevin worked with me in a situations where we were often stuck together for 12-14 hours at a stretch.  We weren’t close friends but we could talk easily and had decent chemistry.   He was always a bit flirtatious but things accelerated for some reason after we knew each other about three years.  I worked with Kevin in a freelance situation so I didn’t see him on a regular basis.  I was definitely attracted to him but I was extremely unsure about the situation since we sometimes worked together.  He was also  bit younger than me, but most single men I encounter are at least 8-10 years my junior if not more.  He made it clear that he just wanted to hookup.  I wasn’t sure about it but I hadn’t had sex in forever and the only offers I was getting at the time were for casual sex from total strangers.  At least I knew Kevin.  I remained hesitant and Kevin went so far as to call me on the phone and talk me into it at length.   I was impressed that he called me as it seemed no man in New York City knew that phones could actually be used to make phone calls.  Most men sent texts usually filled with smut and the occasional dick pic.  A phone call seemed old school and classy.

The plan was made.  He picked me up from a job I had we went back to his place.  He treated me politely and friendly as he always had in the past.  The sex was intense and over the top.  The build up of three years had sort of worked its magic.  As soon as things were done, he turned away from me as if I was toxic waste.  I was a bit shocked as I wasn’t expecting cuddling afterward but his body language was extreme.  Not one molecule of his body was touching mine.  It was as if I wasn’t there.  The first few moments were incredibly awkward.  I decided to break the tension by mentioning something personal about him.  I saw a sports jersey that was hanging in a prominent position in his bedroom and asked him.

“What’s that from?  Are you on a team or something?”

He responded.

Why are you asking that?  I’m not going to tell you that.

It was as if a switch had gone off in his brain and he was punishing me for having had sex with him.  I lied there wondering how I messed up this situation so badly.   I never did this.  I hated hookups. I had known this man for years.  When he was convincing me to do this with him he kept me on the phone for over an hour.  Now he was treating me as if I had crawled into his window uninvited.  A feeling of dread passed over my body.   I felt like I wasn’t even there anymore and that I was somehow floating above the bed.  What the hell just happened?

Some pleasantries were exchanged.  He apologized for not being able to give me a ride home.  I insisted on taking the subway anyway.   I walked myself to the subway stunned and sickened.  The whole experience was 100% consensual but he made me feel like I was a used Kleenex he tossed after masturbating.

I waited a few days and sent him a text about a gig I knew he had coming up.  I wished him well.  There were no heart emojis or anything romantic.  He was short and brusque back.  I thought maybe I was reading too much into it.  Maybe I was projecting things on him that weren’t there.  I waited a few days and sent a couple more texts only to get blanked over the next week or so.  I kind of snapped and started sending him pleading messages.  I just wanted a response, any response.   I wasn’t professing my love to him, I wasn’t expecting an instant boyfriend.  I had no expectation that we would start dating.  I was just reaching out.  I’d known him for three years.  I thought he was my friend.  The whole thing felt like some epic Madonna/Whore test that I had failed miserably.  I’m not sure if I was supposed to continually spurn his advances or go full Jezebel and ask him for a three-way with a woman I picked up on OKCupid.

He never responded again.  Since my divorce I haven’t exactly had the greatest track record dating but my experience with Kevin was by far the worst.  My head was filled with the same thoughts bouncing back and forth through my skull for days.

How could he do this to me?  He knows me.   I’m not some stranger off the street.  What the hell is going on?  Why is he treating me like garbage?  What’s wrong with me?

It wasn’t that Kevin was some great prize or that I wanted a relationship with him.  I was just shocked that he treated me so horribly.   Without hesitation that experience has been the worst consensual sexual experience of my life.  It wasn’t abuse just inconsiderate and callous.  I played the whole incident over and over again in my mind trying to figure out what I had done wrong to make him treat me this way.  I decided that it didn’t matter.

Of course I did run into him again a few months later in work-related scenario.  As soon as I saw him he looked right at me.  I diverted his gaze.  I decided in the moment to act  like I had no idea who he was.  If he was going to treat me with such disregard I’d do the same.  His response was not surprising as he kept staring at me from across the room.  I’m not sure how he was expecting me to react.  What was I supposed to do? Run up to him and embrace him?  Ask him what he was up to the past couple of months?  I just wanted him to disappear.  Finally near the end of the job I was being ushered by my supervisor right next to where he was standing.  I could feel his eyes burning into mine but I refused to make contact.  When things got to the point of absurdity I turned to him and said simply “Hey Kevin” and kept walking.  I didn’t even make eye contact.  If he had tried to talk to me I would have just nodded and walked away.

The hardest part of it was not blaming myself.  I dissected and analyzed everything I said and did in the time I spent with Kevin trying to figure out what caused him to be that way.  Ironically the whole experience would have been much easier to get over if Kevin was a total stranger.  In his mind I was just garbage and if I wanted to be treated better by men I would have to go back to my old standard.  A guy would have to ask me out on a proper date and put some effort forth.  If they wanted a no-strings attached sexual situation then they could ask someone else.  I don’t judge others who live that lifestyle it’s just a bad fit for me.

Things haven’t gotten much better.  I’ve been ghosted since my fling with Kevin.  I wish I could say there was some sort of magical set of clues that would indicate when a seemingly grounded man will emotional disappear but I’ve got none.  I’ve sadly learned to expect it.

I never saw Kevin again and I’m glad I haven’t.  If I did see him he’d simply be someone I have no recollection of meeting much less having sex with.  Feral life suits me better anyway – no attachments, no commitments and no expectations.  I’d rather have nothing than the dreaded ghost.

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Dating After Divorce: On Turning Feral…

A couple of years ago while watching a documentary I discovered a house cat can revert to its natural state under the right circumstances. I imagined my obese ginger male going from his prescription canned cat food to hunting and feasting on rodents and birds. His once silky coat now matted with dirt and leaves. His fat haunches transformed into lean muscle.  Instead of dramatically crying for his supper twice a day, he’d hide in alleys and beneath parked cars avoiding contact with humans while ruling the night. As I stroked Otto’s fur I decided I’d was no longer single, I’d turned feral instead.

When I  went through a difficult divorce nine years ago I suspected my dating life would be difficult.  I had no idea it would become a soul-crushing, near impossible endeavor.  Right out of the gate, I had two fairly tragic rebound relationships that imploded almost as soon as they’d started. Online dating felt more like an exercise in attrition and increasingly lowered expectations.  I’d get the obligatory emails from men involved with BDSM – twice as many submissives than dominants. Couples would email me hoping I want to join in some three-way play. My inbox would overflow with email from men in other countries and far away states. Traveling business men would contact me late at night, expecting me to drop everything to run to their hotel room and be their unpaid prostitute.  Dates rarely materialized and if they did they were often two awkward people sitting across from each other with nothing in common but judgmental stares.  Men openly criticized me for my profession, the circumstances around my divorce, and pretty much every lifestyle choice I had made up until the point of meeting them. When I met men offline it seemed like the only interested parties were either married or so young they could easily be mistaken for my son. I’d also met guys who expected me to go home with them five minutes after meeting them. If I showed any hesitation at all I was quickly forgotten for the next random woman who would say yes.

When I showed interest in anyone I was usually treated like a completely crazy person. I realize I’m not every man’s dream woman.  I have a big personality.  I talk a lot.  I’m so nerdy that I can blather for hours about the rise of fascism or the madness of Kaiser Wilhelm II. I won’t know anything about the latest movie that came out but I could tell you more than you’d ever want to know about the life of Nikola Tesla or how mutations take hold in a genome.  I’m opinionated and stubborn.  I will disagree and challenge men often and openly.  For amusement I get onstage and yell at total strangers in darkened basements that are masquerading as makeshift comedy clubs.  I’m a sledgehammer of truth.  Some folks find my qualities charming while others, find them incredibly annoying. My natural nemesis seems to be the classic khaki wearing, boat shoed finance bro alpha male. On multiple occasions I’ve found myself in screaming matches with a half drunk, angry day trader minutes after meeting them.

I’m also not all that interested in finding my dream man.  I have massive trust issues and pretty much assume every man is lying to me from the moment they open their mouth.  Because my ex-husband was a closeted gay man I pretty much assume all men are gay until proven otherwise.  Any nurturing qualities left in me were stamped out by my dysfunctional and broken marriage.  I don’t want to fix a man, pay his rent, make him forget his last girlfriend or guide him through rehab.  If he’s not ready to wear I’ll just toss him back on the pile.  I have zero interest in being an unpaid and untrained psychotherapist. There’s no part of me that longs to hang out with people I can’t stand because they’re friends with my partner.  I don’t want to sit through plates of hot wings and beer when I’d rather have vegetarian Chinese takeout. If he’s wounded and broken, I’ll leave him for someone who can handle wounded and broken.  I’ve got a freight train worth of emotional baggage and a hair-trigger that will cause me to bolt the second I sense danger.  If a man blanks me on a text, I will delete them from my phone.
I’ll leave my apartment with glasses, messy hair, ball caps and dirty jeans.  No fucks are given.  I watch my weight like a hawk because I have to for my industry but I honestly don’t care if someone finds me “pretty.”

I’ve got no online dating profiles. I waste no glances as men walk by. I pose no questions about a man’s dating status.

I live in an apartment the size of an average single car garage. My 450 square foot space is so small that no man would look at it and see an inch for his belongings. There’s no spare drawer or extra closet space. If I was actually trying to date I’d issue parking rules on my front door. – Four hour minimum or mandatory tow.

I look forward to my future as I grow increasingly strange and eccentric.  I’ll become the 60-year-old with blue hair who still wears Doc Martens and has birthday parties for my cats.  The lack of companionship has caused entire sections of my personality to atrophy and die.  I encourage others now to eschew the label of single and embrace the feral mindset.  We are no longer waiting for our Mr. or Mrs. Right, we are hunting proverbial birds and mice in the night and loving every second of it.

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Communication: How to Avoid an Awkward Date from Hell

Last week a debate about what constitutes sexual assault and what doesn’t erupted on social media.  I won’t rehash the horribly written article about Aziz Ansari and I won’t hyperlink to it either.  That site has gotten plenty of traffic in the past week.  I don’t want to debate the language, tone or content of the piece.  Whatever could be said about it has been said about it.  I’ve officially reached Aziz fatigue.

What I do want to continue however is the discussion about the weird grey area that exists between enthusiastic obvious consent, and less than thrilled uneasy consent.  This is a very real problem for both genders, although women have been conditioned to accept it more so than men.  Most of us have been there.  We agree to do something sexually that we’re not sure we want to do.   Again, I’m not referring to the Aziz article or anything in it, I just wanted to explore what many of us talked about in discussions about awkward sexual experiences.  In a perfect universe we should strive for obvious enthusiastic consent, but we’re also not going to get rid of hundreds of years of social conditioning overnight.  We are currently in a strange new world where some of the shame and stigma regarding human sexuality has been lifted, while still living with outdated perceptions of gender norms and what constitutes appropriate behavior.

The most compelling insight on the piece came from a surprising source – the sex positive community.   I have a few friends who are so sex positive they have orgies for fun.  They plan sex parties for a living.  Many of them are in polyamorous or non-monogamous relationships with multiple partners sometimes of both genders.  Some of them have worked as strippers, prostitutes, dominatrixes and even sexual surrogates.  They speak of their sex lives as easily as most of us would talk about our pets or hobbies.  They openly brag about having over 100 sexual partners or more.  The general tone that I got from nearly all of them was.

What we have here is a lack of communication.

For decades it’s been drilled in our heads that we are not supposed to talk about sex.  Human sexuality is rarely something we have frank and open conversations about, at least with new sexual partners.  We are fed a myth our entire lives that amazing sex can be had with total strangers with very little communication.   The exact opposite is true.

Sex is like rocket fuel to humans.  It’s so important to us it’s literally how we create human life, yet at the same time we try to treat it like it’s something we can engage in without a second thought.  Of course we can but we need some ground rules with a new partner if that’s going to happen.  No one would think to jump out of an airplane without first being shown how to use a parachute.  I don’t know why we can think we can magically enter into highly emotionally charged situations without figuring out appropriate boundaries first.

This list is about some of the strategies a person can use to avoid awkward, clumsy and uncomfortable consensual sexual encounters.

Everything on this list with a couple of exceptions is meant for BOTH GENDERS.  Although I wrote this with straight couples in mind, some of the same principles could be applied any sexual orientation or gender identification.

*This list is only in regards to consensual sexual encounters.  No amount of communication will deter a sexual predator.  In those cases the only thing a person can do is  physically fight back, escape a situation or scream for help if that’s an option.  I want to make this distinction now as I don’t want anyone to think a person can simply talk their way out of a sexual assault.  I speak about this as a survivor of sexual assault myself.  Sexual assault is a criminal act where one half of the situation is given no agency, no control, no voice and no choice.  

Tips for avoiding awkward sexual experiences.

Ask for what you want. 

There is nothing wrong with simply asking for what you want.  Both partners should be direct and open about boundaries and comfort levels.

The phrase “Do you want to have sex?” can be very sexy.  It’s also incredibly unambiguous.   The phrase “Can I kiss you?” can also be smolderingly hot if said in the right situation.  It’s also perfectly acceptable to say what you don’t want.  The best way to do this is to use clear language that cannot be misunderstood.  Words like “No” “Stop” or “I don’t want to do this” are hard to misinterpret.  Again this goes both for men and women.  Men also find themselves in situations where they are not comfortable.  Neither partner can assume the other one knows what they want without direct communication.

You are NEVER obligated to do anything you don’t want to do. 

It doesn’t matter how much someone spent on a date.  It doesn’t matter what you’ve already done on a date.  Making out doesn’t mean you consent to oral sex.  Having oral sex doesn’t mean your consent to anal sex.  Having anal sex doesn’t mean you consent to new partners being added to the mix.  If you don’t want to reciprocate or you’re not feeling it you can say no.  You can stop at any time in the date.  It might be awkward or strange to end the date abruptly, but the momentary awkwardness will be easier in the long-term than going through with something you’re not sure you want to do.

You don’t have to be polite if you don’t want to do something. 

This is the only guideline on this list that is directed at women more than men.  As women we are programmed almost from birth to be nice, sweet and accommodating.  When you enter into a sexual act you are kind of putting yourself on the edge of a proverbial cliff.  You don’t really know how your partner might treat you or react.  During a sexual encounter a human being is about as vulnerable as they are ever going to be.  This is not the time to worry about being polite.  If you are freaked out or scared, you can just let it all out.  No need to worry about how you’ll be perceived.  Speak your truth.  Stand up for yourself.  If someone expects you to have unprotected sex and you insist on using protection say NO as loudly and as strongly as possible.  There is NO WAY IN HELL you should put yourself in a potentially medically dangerous situation just to seem nice.

Real life is not a porn movie.  

Porn is probably the worst teaching tool for having great sex.  In most porn scenarios next to no dialog is spoken.  A man somehow just knows that it’s OK to do all sorts of violent and depraved things to a woman he’s just met, he might even include another male partner without even remotely checking in with the woman.  This is of course a fantasy.

Real life is not a fairy tale. 

You might get lucky and have some incredibly romantic near perfect dates that end in beautiful, connected, and full-filling sex with someone you barely know.   It does happen.  It’s quite rare.  Most amazing sex happens with someone you know well and have been having sex for some time.

When in doubt – check it out

If you suspect your partner is not into something stop and ask them.  One of the craziest stories I’d ever heard came from a friend of mine who told me that in the middle of sex a new partner smacked her across the face.  She stopped him immediately and said, “What are you doing?  Why are you doing that?” he claimed his last partner was really into it.  My friend told him she wasn’t.  He stopped.  She never had sex with him again.  Because he immediately stopped the behavior after she requested it, she doesn’t consider this sexual assault.  It’s a great example of a man assuming she would like something his last partner enjoyed.  These assumptions happen all the time with both men and women.  It’s ALWAYS better to check in before you take the risk of entering into behavior that could be seen as predatory, violent or criminal.

If it’s bad early on, it will probably stay bad. 

I hate to say it but you can tell a lot from a kiss.  If a man or woman’s idea of a hot kiss is your idea of a disgusting one, you’ll probably never connect sexually.  It’s fine to simply make up some excuse and get out of the situation before you find yourself in a much more awkward experience later that night.  Everyone goes through this.  If a partner looks great on paper and you like him or her otherwise but her or she repulses you sexually, you’re probably better off not taking things further.

Excessive alcohol use can blur your judgment.

What I just typed is common sense.  What I just typed has also been labeled as sexist, regressive, abusive and part of rape culture.  The problem with the simple statement of “Don’t get drunk” is it’s often only told to women.  Of course women should be able to drink alcohol if they want to and even get drunk.  This exact same advice should also be given to men.  Just as it is far more difficult to drive a car or walk down stairs, it’s also much more precarious to enter into a sexual situation when we are severely intoxicated.  No one is perfect and people will sometimes accidentally drink too much.  The dangers of excess alcohol are just a good thing to remind yourself of if you’re about to go out with a total stranger.  I want to stress this again.  BOTH GENDERS should heed this advice.

Gender specific “rules” that should be thrown out the window

For women

  • Men won’t respect you or ask you out again if you have sex too quickly after meeting them.
  • Don’t go out with him if he asks you out with less than three days notice for a date
  • Don’t go home with a man on a first date.
  • Don’t make out with a man on a first date.
  • Tell him you’ve had three sexual partners in your past. (For most of us that would be a lie)
  • Don’t openly talk about sex or act interested in sex.
  • Never really say what you feel always play the game
  • (Many more rules/assumptions too many to list here – basically that women must remain virginal, pure or at least appear so.  Women must also act coy, not be direct and constantly appear nice)

For men

  • If a woman goes home with you on the first date she wants to have sex
  • If a woman has sex with you on the first date she has less value
  • Any woman can be convinced to have sex with you if you just keep trying
  • If a woman has more than three sexual partners in her past she has less value
  • If a woman makes out with you that means she wants to have sex with you.
  • If a women dresses in a revealing manner she wants to have sex with you.
  • If a woman has joked or flirted with you that means she wants to have sex with you.
  • Never really say what you feel always play the game
  • (Many more rules/assumptions too many to list here but basically that men should pursue, pursue, pursue even when things seem pathetic.  Basically the cliché of a boss chasing his secretary around the desk.)

These are all antiquated ideas about love and sex.  Most of these “rules” leave both genders confused and frustrated.  The best way a man can find out if a woman wants to have sex with him is to ask her directly.  Even though it’s usually wise to avoid sex with perfect strangers, I’ve known several long-term loving relationships that started out just like that.  We have to stop thinking in rigid terms of gender roles and old-fashioned codes of behavior.  We have to smash the ideas of playing hard to get, acting like we don’t really want sex when we actually do, and generally blurring the lines of open communication.  We have to speak up as openly and clearly as possible and empower ourselves to say no when needed.  Again this goes for both men and women.

The last guideline really has nothing to do with awkward sex but is more about the flip side.

You can have great sex with people who are terrible partners

This is probably one of the toughest lessons in life that both men and women learn the hard way.  I think all of my friends have had amazingly hot, passionate sex with people who were absolutely horrible to them.  Sex is great, but if someone is really treating you like garbage outside of the bedroom you’re better off without them.   You can always find another partner who you will click with completely who won’t emotionally abuse or neglect you.

I’ve read a lot of articles regarding this topic that were all saying the same things I’m saying here.  This is also extremely obvious advice, I admit that openly.  I just wanted to get this out in a way that didn’t seem preachy, use words like patriarchy, misogyny, toxic masculinity or any other ism.  Even though this is a widespread problem that is deeply entrenched in our culture we don’t have to think in terms of lofty goals to solve it.  It starts with each and everyone of us.  If we all want to have good sex we just need to start talking to each other about everything and anything.  Don’t feel weird asking questions and never assume you know what’s going on in anyone else’s head.

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To call the Aziz Ansari date from hell sexual assault in an insult to survivors of sexual assault.

 

A couple of days ago a the website babe published an article entitled

“I went on a date with Aziz Ansari.  It turned into the Worst Night of My Life” The premise of the article was about a young photographer referred to only as Grace who went on a date with the television star Aziz Ansari.  I admit I don’t know much about Ansari’s work.  Apparently he’s fashioned his image as some sort of woke male feminist.

As soon as the article hit the internet the outrage machine was in full force.  People were decrying that Ansari was a rapist and that if anyone disagreed with them they were a rape apologist or supporting rape culture.  The term “victim blaming” was thrown around quite a bit.  I read and then re-read the article and kept coming to the same conclusion.  This doesn’t read like sexual assault it just seems like a bad date.

When I posted my misgivings about the article on my Facebook page, a few woman I know shared similar views.  Some even said they found it insulting as survivors of sexual assault themselves that something like this was being lumped in with real abuse.

I won’t break down the whole article beat by beat as I’m sure many others have done the same.  What I couldn’t help but notice though with each re-reading:

 

  • Ansari was overtly blatant about his intentions.  He went for sex almost as soon as they entered the apartment.  He mentioned a condom and performed oral sex on this woman within 10 minutes of them being alone together.

 

  • The woman was playing coy.  She had high expectations for this date.  He was a celebrity.  She had bragged about this date to her friends.  She was under the impression that Ansari would be more like his stage persona, and less like the man who was acting like an entitled prick.  She never really gives him a hard “No, I don’t want to do this” until after she’s performed oral sex on him twice, admittedly not whole heartedly.

From his perspective he’s not going to necessarily know she’s not into this if she has had his penis in her mouth twice that evening.  Of course any woman at any time during a sexual encounter has the right to slam on the breaks and end it.  Just because a woman agreed to make out with a man doesn’t mean she wants to have sex with him.  Just because she might consent to oral sex, doesn’t mean she wants to take things further.  What’s missing here is communication on both of their parts.

Ansari isn’t being subtle.  If anything he’s being too overt.  He’s acting like an spoiled brat who is used to having women throw themselves at him.  He’s probably assuming this woman is a huge fan of his and this is just as exciting for her than it is for him.  Ansari with all of his flaws is communicating nearly everything he wants.  He isn’t telling this woman he’s madly in love with her.  He didn’t bother with any pretense of wanting to get to know her better as a person.  He wants sex.  He wants sex immediately and keeps stating his intentions openly.

The woman is not communicating her needs as clearly.  She only does so when things get so bad for her that she finally snaps.  She moves away and mumbles, she tells him to “chill out” but she doesn’t tell him NO.  She doesn’t use the one word that can’t be mistaken for any other meaning.  The one word that he cannot misunderstand.  She continues to make out with him and engage in sexual contact with him.

The real tragedy for me in this whole thing is not that she was sexually assaulted.  I still don’t think she was sexually assaulted.  Honestly if this really is the “worst night of her life” as she is quoted in the article then she has lived a charmed life.  By the time I was 22 years old I’d had several bad dates like this one.  I’d also survived molestation, sexual harassment, sexual assault and attempted rape.  In all of those encounters I had no control whatsoever.  It didn’t matter what I said or did, the men who were abusing me wouldn’t stop.   I wish I could have started crying and asked for a cab to make it all stop, but no amount of tears or denials worked.

The real tragedy is that as a woman she’d been conditioned, probably since birth, to not speak up for herself in the moment.  She somehow thought she could turn this horrific situation around by playing coy.  She also thought that he might pick up on the fact that she “went cold” and stopped responding sexually.  Again she was answering clear oral communication with vague non-verbal cues.  She thouhgt she might change his mind by staying in sexual encounter but still stopping short of sex.  She felt she had to “play nice” and not speak up for herself.  The other tragedy is that Ansari had also been conditioned to believe that women can be coaxed into sex if men just keep pushing.  Although her actions would be confusing to most men, when she finally said “Let’s chill out.” that should have been a cue for him to maybe ask her directly and bluntly what she wanted in that situation.  Instead it was his turn to be vague and pretend they were really going to just watch television.

This was not an assault, it was a miscommunication of epic proportions with both sides making mistakes.  I also honestly feel bad for the woman in this situation.  I’m sure she was hurt and disappointed by all of it.  He didn’t treat her well but sadly there will probably be far more dates like this one in her future.   If a man says he wants to have sex 10 minutes into the encounter very little is going to dissuade him from his mission.  He made his intentions clear early on.  If she didn’t want to have sex with him, that should have been her cue to leave.  Most women will find themselves in these situations countless times.  At least Ansari didn’t mislead her, lie to her and tell her he had deep feelings for her, have sex with her and then never speak to her again.  That move is also quite common and insidious with men of all ages.

If women want to be taken seriously as equal members of society we can’t pretend we are suddenly hopeless lambs without agency or power.  If we don’t want to do something we have to say NO.  We have to sometimes say no loudly, repeatedly and say it with purpose.  Women don’t owe a man sex if he just bought us dinner, lives in an expensive apartment or is a television personality.  We don’t owe a man a reciprocal blow job if he’s already gone down on us.  If we aren’t comfortable we need to say so and not wait until the next day, ruminate over the whole thing and then decide we are violated.   If a man has made it clear to us that he wants to have sex and nothing more, then we can make the choice to agree to it or not.

Honestly I fear that the article will be used by MRA (Mens Rights Advocates) who try to argue that date rape doesn’t really exist.  That date rape basically boils down to women regretting their choices from the night before and then crying rape/sexual assault after the fact.  Sexual assault is a vicious and ugly thing to endure.  It robs people of control over the most personal part of themselves, their body and dignity.  I don’t see that type of ugliness in this scenario.  I see instead a young inexperienced woman who was still holding on to an idealized fantasy of how the date should have gone, and a entitled, immature man intent on getting laid.  When she finally gave him a forceful NO he stopped.  She went home and cried and he probably jerked off to porn.  It was an awkward and uncomfortable sexual experience for both of them, not a criminal act.

This whole thing reminds me of a time when a friend of mine went out with another celebrity I won’t name.  He was quite a bit older and also presented himself as a woke type who respects women.  On their date after dinner and drinks he sat down next to my friend in her apartment and put his arm around her back.  Before she knew it he was on top of her and had whipped out his erect penis.  Now my friend is an athlete.  She used to compete in professional pole dancing competitions.  Before he knew what hit him, she shoved him off with all her force and screamed  “GET OFF OF ME!  WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”  His response was a meek “Sorry, sorry, sorry.  I thought that’s what you wanted.”  It wasn’t.  They never went out again, but now my friend had a hilarious story to tell at parties.  In her case he wasn’t a rapist either, just a clueless entitled idiot who backed down the second he got a hard refusal.  These things happen, they’re called bad dates, not sexual assault.

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Why Monica Lewinsky is NOT my feminist hero.

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Last week was apparently the 20th anniversary of the Lewinsky-Clinton scandal.  I’m not sure why we need to celebrate or commemorate such a fiasco but this morning I discovered this tweet by Eve Peyser, a staff writer at Vice.com

 

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There’s a lot in this one tweet.  For starters I don’t how it’s very feminist to make negative blanket statements about two entire generations of women.  To encompass all baby boomers and generation X women in one sweeping generalization like that is really condemning most women in the United States.

I’m not a fan of broad generalizations about any group, and I have a more nuanced view of the Lewinksy scandal so this was my response to that tweet.

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(I actually made a mistake when I wrote my tweet.  For years I always thought I was slightly younger than Lewinsky.  I only discovered when researching this article that Monica and I are actually the exact same age.)

For starters I didn’t learn about the Lewinsky-Clinton scandal from textbooks and news articles.  I lived through it.  I won’t delve into the minutia of the entire ordeal and I might get a couple of small details wrong but the basics go like this.  A young privileged woman (Monica Lewinsky) open and aggressively pursued a married man (President Bill Clinton) who had a long history of infidelity and womanizing.  The GOP leadership was already investigating Clinton for a past real estate deal when they stumbled upon evidence of the affair.  When Clinton denied it, Republican representatives filed for articles of impeachment on grounds that he’d lied under oath.  Every torrid sexual detail was exposed.  Several horrible people profited from tell all books and tabloid exclusives, but when the dust settled Clinton, although permanently tainted from the scandal, stayed in power.  In the upcoming years several of the men who lead the charge against Clinton, ended up in far more lurid sex scandals of their own.

Lewinsky received a disproportionate amount of negative press for her role in the affair.  She was called everything from a slut, whore, home-wrecker, and opportunist.  The press mocked her weight, clothing, and appearance.  Her personal life was dissected and analyzed and nearly everything written about her was negative.  Intimate sexual details between her and the president were printed for all of eternity in the special prosecutor’s report.  Her face graced the cover of newspapers and magazines for months.  Lewinsky tried to profit off of her notoriety by selling her own line of handbags, a venture which quickly failed and did nothing to improve her image.

After millions of tax dollars were spent on the investigation, the whole mess ended up backfiring for the GOP as the general public sentiment could be reduced to the simple question:

Was all of this necessary for a blow job?

Now back to the idea of Lewinsky being bullied and slut-shamed.  Regarding the charge of bullying.  Although the press was overly harsh toward her, most women I knew had mixed feelings.   Social media didn’t exist at the time and none of us could really have done anything but sit back and watch the train wreck.  I’m sure Lewinsky got mountains of hate mail but no one could tweet at her, make video rants about her, mock her online, share unflattering photos of her, or dox her personal information.  The general public wasn’t nearly as interactive in such affairs in the 1990s.   We just didn’t have the means to get involved.

As far as slut-shaming is concerned, that’s also a bit complicated.  There is a faction of third wave feminism that promotes the idea that anything sexual a woman does should be championed or celebrated.   For centuries female sexuality has been viewed as evil or something to be controlled.  There is nothing wrong of course with two adults in a consensual sexual relationship.  Things get blurry however when sexuality crosses over into unethical behavior.   A person can think whatever they want about the institution of marriage, but they don’t exist in a cultural vacuum where everyone shares the same belief system.  Knowingly having an affair with a married person is a high risk behavior.  When one enters into an adulterous relationship with someone they know is married they are suddenly involving other people without their consent.  Although they might get away with their affair, it could also have extreme negative consequences for both the spouse and children of the person they are sleeping with.  Infidelity is a selfish and unethical act that involves lies and betrayal.  Deception destroys trust in any relationship, and can cause untold damage to the faithful spouse.  Two atheists can tear each other apart in a marriage without the concept of religious sin or morality ever entering the picture.  Simply put an extramarital affair might be fun for the two people involved in it, but it might also wreck emotional havoc on an entire family.

I also don’t think Lewinsky is the best example for the #MeToo movement.  Clinton never threatened Lewinsky’s job.  There’s no evidence that he did anything of the sort.  He never told her he’d destroy her career, harm her family or ruin her reputation if she didn’t go along with his advances.  She has never testified to as much, and there’s nothing in the Starr report that would indicate it.  Lewinsky was much younger than Clinton, but he didn’t exactly coerce or force her.  If anything she was a starstruck girl who got a rush and sense of self-importance by having sexual relations with a very powerful man.  She openly bragged about their affair, about flashing her thong underwear during meeting with him.  She also boasted about “bringing her presidential knee pads to the White House” before she even met him.  Lewinsky probably did have emotional scars from a previous relationship she’d had with another older married man.  She probably had a warped view of relationships with older men because of her past.  Clinton had a long history of inappropriate behavior with women.  It was unprofessional and foolish to get involved sexually with a young subordinate.  As the POTUS he had more important things to worry about.  He used poor judgment, lied to his wife, lied to the American people and ruined his own legacy in the process.  He had far more life experience and more at stake, and should have used restraint.  He wasn’t the first president to have an extramarital affair, and Lewinsky if far from the first woman to have sex with one.

What also compelled me to reject the label of “feminist hero” toward Lewinsky are Lewinsky’s own words and actions since the scandal ended.  At first she tried to ride her notoriety with a line of handbags.  That wasn’t exactly a bold step forward for feminism or women’s rights.  It was a crass attempt to cash in on the media attention.  That venture failed quickly and she faded into relative obscurity.  When she returned to tell her story many years later she was contrite.  She took ownership of her mistakes and failings.  She started a platform to raise awareness of the dangers of public humiliation in the media.

The irony is of course is that although she was humiliated by a vicious press, Lewinsky’s actions also caused great humiliation to Bill’s wife Hillary and their teenage daughter Chelsea.  Hillary was far from unscathed from this whole mess.  Although Hillary has been long-suffering through Bill’s many dalliances she chose to stay in the marriage and forgive her husband.  She has also bore the burden of his actions and poor choices.  Bill’s past with women was constantly brought up during her failed presidential attempt.   Her moral center was questioned even though she’d done nothing wrong but try to defend her husband.   As much as Lewinsky might feel she has to endure a permanent scarlet A on her chest for her youthful mistakes, Hillary also wears the badge of enabler, doormat, or frigid shrew.

Lewinsky didn’t improve the plight of women, and she didn’t do anything heroic through her extended ordeal.  She did have enough personal strength and insight to take responsibility for her actions many years later.  She’s also tried to improve the lives of others through her anti-bullying campaign.  If anything she’s a survivor who tried to use her personal pain for good, but to call her a hero is a bridge too far.

If millennial women are searching for an actual feminist hero of the #MeToo movement the choice should be obvious.  Just a few years before the Lewinsky-Clinton scandal a young attorney testified that she was repeatedly sexually harassed by her boss Clarence Thomas.  She spoke up because he had just been nominated to a position on the supreme court.  Anita Hill sat alone in front of the all male senate judiciary committee and the world to describe her ordeal in brutal detail.  During her brave testimony she was viciously picked apart by the press and Thomas’s supporters.  She also endured an avalanche of scrutiny of every detail of her life, background and personal relationships.  She went through as much grief as Lewinsky if not more.  In the end Clarence got his seat on the court and Anita Hill never changed her story.  At time of her testimony 60 percent of Americans believed Thomas over Hill, yet after her testimony, the number of women filing harassment claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission doubled.  Anita Hill is a feminist hero in every way possible, in fact she’s a feminist superstar.

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Dear Mr. President – Here’s a Bulleted List about White Supremacy.

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Dear Mr. President,

I’ve heard you like bulleted lists so I’ll try to keep this brief.  You said the following regarding the recent racially motivated violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time

I’m not sure what you mean by both sides, or many sides for that matter.  I’m just going to ask you some questions.

  • Do you know a time in US history when black men enslaved white men?

 

  • Has a white life ever been considered 3/5th the value of a black life?

 

  • Has there ever been a time when white men were routinely rounded up and hung by their necks from trees for offenses as minor as “whistling at a black woman?”

 

  • Was there a period in our history when law enforcement became infiltrated by black men who turned a blind eye to violence against white men?

 

  • Have white folks ever been beaten or bullied at the polls by black people when they’ve tried to vote?

 

  • How often have white families woken up in the middle of the night to broken windows and flaming crosses on their front lawns?

 

  • Has there ever been a time when a white child needed to be surrounded by armed guards in order to attend a school full of black children?

 

  • Has there ever been a single incident of a white person being dragged out of a swimming pool only to see it drained and sanitized to make it suitable for black patrons?

 

  • How many white churches have been burned to the ground, sometimes with people inside of them by angry black gangs?

 

I know you won’t bother to research this so I’ll give you the answer.

None of those things have happened to white people at the hands of black people.  NONE OF THEM.

Everything I just wrote has been inflicted on black Americans.  I’m really only scratching the surface here as I could literally write a book on this subject.  I’m not going to focus on the many things our government has done to harm the black community.  I’m ONLY going to focus on what groups like the KKK and other white supremacists have done to further marginalize, terrorize, intimidate and demean black Americans.  I’d lend you a copy of one of many studies on the history of racial violence in this country, but I know you don’t really read.

So again I’ll break it down in bulleted list form.

  • There is NO EQUIVALENT OF THE KKK IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY.  You can probably find small fringe groups that espouse some type of horrible rhetoric but they don’t have any real influence.  They have no history of atrocities.  They haven’t left generations of whites in the South to fear for their lives and safety.

 

  • The political spectrum includes radical fringe groups with hateful ideas yet none have left a body count as large as the KKK.  Here’s a link about lynching, from your favorite paper the “Failing NY Times”  I know you won’t read it, so I break it down for you.  White people killed black people, mainly because they were black.  Sure they hanged some white folks too, but the majority of their victims were black.

 

  • The Black Lives Matter movement DOES NOT promote the idea that black lives have more value than white lives.

 

  • White supremacist DO promote the idea that people of European ancestry are a superior race and every other ethnicity is sub-human.

 

  • White supremacists DO have a history of murdering and terrorizing millions based on their ethnicity: Jews, Romani, Slavs, Poles, Ukrainians, and of course black people.  They also rounded up Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, LGTB men and women, disabled people, and anyone they deemed a political opponent or threat.  The Nazis in Europe are not that much different from the Neo Nazis in the US.  They use the same rhetoric, symbols, and flags so I don’t see any reason to differentiate them.  The term Neo means new.  I’m sure you’re learning a lot here.

 

  • Neo Nazis aka the Alt Right, White Nationalists, White Supremacists, whatever you want to call them HATE JEWS by the way.  Your favored daughter, your son-in-law, three of your grandchildren and your long-term attorney are all Jewish.  If the Neo Nazis got their way all of the Jews would be forced out of the country, thrown in a camp, or killed.  I’m sure you really wouldn’t want to support any group that would do that to your family right?
So again if you are comparing the legacy of white supremacists and black Americans there is no comparison.  One group has been victimized, terrorized, and exploited while the other has left nothing but ignorance, bigotry, violence and death.  You might want to acknowledge this difference before things get much worse.  Do you really want to be known as the Nazi sympathizer president?
Most decent Americans on all sides of the political spectrum reject the ideology of the Alt Right (Neo Nazis).  If you want to shrink your base to the most radical voices go ahead.  The rest of us will defend our fellow citizens.  We will fight back without using violence.  We will expose these monsters for who and what they are.   We will march in the streets, pester you on twitter, call our reps and senators until we break the congressional switchboard.  Oh and we will come out in droves for the midterm elections.  We will RESIST.

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Dating in NYC: He says he’s Single. He’s anything but.

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I’ve been single now for about eight years straight since my divorce.  In that time I’ve had a few short-lived relationships but for the most part I’ve flown solo.  I’ve discovered the hard way that the term “single” means a lot of different things to different people.  This city is so large and so densely populated it seems some can’t help but constantly see a never-ending array of choices for potential partners.  I’ve had so many men bold-faced lie to my face regarding this issue that I’m tempted to hand them a survey, and tape the entire exchange so when they say

I never said I was single

I won’t really do that but it’s frustrating that I feel like I have to ask questions like a prosecutor in order to get the truth out of some random dude on a date.

So what does it mean to be “single” in the city that never sleeps?  I’m not including polyamorous or non-monogamous men in this list because they tend to be incredibly upfront and honest about their relationships status.  This is for about the “single” boys who just like to blur the truth.

Single Single: You aren’t having sex with anyone on a regular basis.  You try to date but nothing seems to work out.  You mostly hang out with your friends and maybe watch porn.

Mostly Single: You are casually seeing someone. You’ve hooked up countless times, you socialize together and most of your friends consider you a couple.  Although you’ve both being seeing each other on a regular basis for months neither of you like “labels” and you’re not sure if she’s having sex with other men or not.  You take photos of your friend and post them on social media but never with yourself as a couple.  Even though she’s met your parents and you’ve taken trips together she’s DEFINITELY NOT your girlfriend and as far as you’re concerned you’re 100% single.  You flirt with other women and lead them on, but usually stop short of hooking up with them.

Single on Facebook Single: You’ve been dating someone for months now, you just haven’t bothered to change your relationship status update on Facebook yet.

Friends With Benefits Single: You’ve got a rotation of women that you text on the weekends and late at night for sex.  You like them alright but you’re hoping none of them get too clingy or text you too much. All of these women know they aren’t the only one in your life and you are NOT serious about any of them.  There’s one gal on your list who you tend to text more often and dump all your emotional garbage on them.  For now she puts up with it.  If she starts telling you too much about her life you’re out.  You’re still hoping to find that perfect someone if she exists at all.

Tinder Single: You like to have sex with lots of women, but usually only once. Tinder is your favorite method of hooking up. You sometimes accidentally swipe right on a girl you’ve already banged. Things can get awkward. You’ve also learned it’s better to call women by a pet name since you’ll forget their name seconds after meeting them. They all become honey or babe to you, if you even bother to have a conversation before or after sex.  You’re definitely single but single for life.

We Broke Up I Swear Single: You broke up with your girlfriend months ago but you’re both on a lease and finding a new apartment in tricky in Brooklyn. Neither of you would say you’re dating. You’ve even got a couple of roommates but since this is a three bedroom apartment, that means one of you has to sleep on the couch and there have been plenty of late nights when you’ve ended up hooking up again.  You still fight so it’s a bad situation but it’s only temporary and for the moment you’re looking for love!  Maybe you’ll end up moving in with your next girlfriend.

I’m totally over Her Single: The love of your life just left you. OK she didn’t just leave you it’s been almost two years but you’re TOTALLY over her. Sure you still have every photo you’ve ever taken together on your social media accounts, and yes you still constantly bring her up but you are TOTALLY over her.  You still call her mom from time to time but her mom is a really nice woman.  You’d do the same thing!   Last weekend you helped her move into a new apartment and assembled most of her furniture.  She knows she can call you at any time of the day or night but you are OVER HER.  She’s a great and beautiful person and it just didn’t work out and you wish her nothing but the best.

I’m a Liar I’m not Single: You tell women you’re single because you want to have sex with them.  You’re a married man or you’ve had the same partner for years and have kids with her.  According to the tax code you’re single but by just about every other metric you are very much one half of a couple.

My category – Feral Single – I’ve been single for so long now I don’t know if it’s possible for me to have a relationship anymore.  I LOVE living alone.  I never want to compromise on anything or make any major decisions in my life again that involve another person.  I’ve gone feral.  Like a former house cat who was once fed and cared for I now survive by my wits.  After a long hard day I come home vent on Facebook and talk to my cats.  I’ve become the ultimate loner – self-sufficient, wily, and not likely to be tamed any time soon.

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Can we please stop bashing LGTB people?

I’ve been accused of the past of being homophobic.  To say I was angry about this would be an understatement.  My life was irrevocably harmed by a gay man, and yet I fight with everything I have inside of me for further LGTB understanding and acceptance. This dichotomy might seem strange to some but my relationship with the LGTB community is a long and complicated one.

In 2000 I met the man of my dreams, or so I thought.  We were married two years later and went on to work together onstage and off for seven years.  I eventually discovered that not only was my ex-husband secretly gay he was lying to me from the first day I’d met him.  He admitted in therapy that he knew he was gay since he was 8 years old.  He also admitted that he never really wanted to be with me as husband and wife.  I was a human prop or shield to mask his doubts and fears about being gay.   I think he also liked working with me as a partner onstage but he’d already replaced me in that role before the marriage was over.

Meanwhile his older brother was openly gay and had been for over 20 years.  His brother was not rejected by the family and had an extremely close relationship with his parents.  My ex was not in a field or part of the country that was especially anti-LGTB, in fact as a performing artist in New York City he was in one of the best places he could live as an openly gay man.

To add the cherry to the top of my sundae of despair, I found out the truth regarding my ex-husband in the middle of Chelsea (A gay neighborhood in Manhattan) the week before Pride week.  As we stumbled out of that therapist’s office I was surrounded by gay pride rainbows and flags being sold in every direction, and large Pride banners hung from every light post.  Our couple’s therapist largely ignored me in our one session and instead focused on my soon to be ex-husband.  The lies, deception and betrayal I’d just suffered was ignored, while my soon to be ex was given deference, sympathy and an overwhelming amount of empathy by this horrible therapist.  I was literally suicidal and she couldn’t remember my name during the session.

You’d think after all of this, that I would be on a mountain top bashing gay men, decrying their perversion and deviance in the loudest way possible.  I’ve had several people assume that was the case, because I do not care for or have a relationship with my ex-husband in any way shape or form.   Instead I have championed gay men and the acceptance and normalcy of the LGTB community.  .

I have done this because I know that just as I am blonde, my ex-husband is gay.  It’s simply in his wiring to be attracted to and want to have relationships with other gay men.  My ex-husband doesn’t get off the hook for all of the many horrible things he did and said to me.  He doesn’t get a free pass because he lied to me repeatedly and mislead me into a fraudulent marriage.   At the same time he DOES NOT represent all gay men. He is only responsible for his own actions.  Some gay men in his position have had the courage and conviction to be open and honest with their partners.  Although those types of marriages are rare, they do exist and the outcomes are usually much better than what I and millions of others have been through.  The larger LGTB community does not bear the burden of accounting for my ex-husband’s many transgressions.  I have many kind and caring gay male friends who have supported me through this hellscape when some straight people have not.

The most important reason however that I promote the idea that being gay is just as benign as being blonde is that it gay normalization is the ONLY way we are going to cut down on mixed orientation marriages.  I also believe deeply in my heart that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being gay.

There is a school of thought that believes we can shame, correct and cure homosexuality. Even though those methods have been denounced by the mainstream medical and psychiatric community,  these ideas persist.   Conversion therapy (converting people from gay to straight) is considered abuse by most medical experts and is banned in 9 states and several municipalities.   There are also those who falsely conflate being gay with pedofilia, something that has been researched at length and debunked numerous times over a period of decades.  To quote the American Psychological Association 

Studies on who commits child sexual abuse vary in their findings, but the most common finding is that the majority of sexual offenders are family members or are otherwise known to the child. Sexual abuse by strangers is not nearly as common as sexual abuse by family members. Research further shows that men perpetrate most instances of sexual abuse, but there are cases in which women are the offenders. Despite a common myth, homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men are.

Most of the current research into pedophilia has pointed more towards brain damage, or brain defects as the cause.   The current scientific movement in regards towards pedophilia is for effective treatments and prevention of crimes against children.  No one but a few depraved pedophiles themselves are calling for acceptance of these depraved acts.

The demonization and shaming of LGTB people accomplishes nothing than more people retreating to the closet. I’ve written about this before at length.  The more we try to shove people back into that dark place, the more likely they will drag others with them. The more gay people try to suppress their orientation the more straight spouses like myself will find themselves in tragic mixed orientation marriages.

I’m proud to know many loving and caring gay parents.  I’m proud to have many gay men in my life as co-workers, friends, confidants, and shoulders to cry on.  I feel eternally blessed to have so many amazing supportive, creative, kind and brave LGTB people around me.   Because I feel so strongly about this, and I want to end misconceptions about LGTB people I’ve provided several links, to reputable non-biased sources that back up my beliefs and opinions.  I will support both straight spouses and the LGTB community until my last breath.   I want straight spouses and sham marriages to be a thing of the past.  We aren’t going to win this battle with superstition, hate and bigotry.  Knowledge is power and there is a wealth of information out there.  Of course there are conflicting opinions regarding the LGTB community but they largely come from religious organizations.  Everyone can make their own conclusions, but as a non-religious person I’d defer to experts on the human mind and body.  I prefer data, research and peer-reviewed clinical studies over passages from ancient texts or pseudoscience.

To quote the American Psychological Association

Since 1975, the American Psychological Association has called on psychologists to take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with lesbian, gay and bisexual orientations. The discipline of psychology is concerned with the well-being of people and groups and therefore with threats to that well-being. The prejudice and discrimination that people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual regularly experience have been shown to have negative psychological effects. This pamphlet is designed to provide accurate information for those who want to better understand sexual orientation and the impact of prejudice and discrimination on those who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Myths about Being Gay

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If you think Gender did NOT play a role in this election…

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Today a white left-leaning political comedian posted the following on social media.

Voting for Hillary Clinton was not an act of feminism. Now it’s time to prove your true feminism.

I wasn’t the only woman on his thread to react negatively to his statement.  I posted two comments. One was along the lines of

Wow that’s tone deaf

Then I waited a moment, thought about it again, and completely unloaded a rant about feminism, putting up with misogyny, and how liberals are far from immune from white male privilege.  I kind of lost my shit and blocked him.  I didn’t know this man well but there was something about the paternal quality to his request that set me over the edge. He might believe he has empathy for feminists, but he honestly has no idea what it would be like to put up with sexism EVERY SINGLE DAY OF HIS LIFE.  He also doesn’t understand the complexities that gender played in this election.

Voting for Hillary was not a feminist act, but watching this election cycle unfold has been intensely difficult for many women.  To act as if Hillary’s gender did not play a role in how she was perceived by the media and the public at large is a complete farce.

To give an example, let’s take both Trump and Hillary at face value. Now imagine them switching genders.  We would then have a wealthy, bombastic, outspoken political novice with five children by three different husbands.  Her current spouse would be a former model, over two decades younger than her, and a stay-at-home dad.

She’s a self-purported billionaire, born into wealth with a self-aggrandizing ego the size of the moon.  She announces her candidacy with an overbearing, profanity laden, extended rant in which she tears apart entire ethnic groups, and repeatedly declares the United States is deeply broken. Over the course of her primary battles, she encourages violence against protesters and stokes the flames of racial tension. She also flings personal insults at her opponents, mocks a disabled person, and gets in late night twitter battles with private and public citizens.  She even insults the mother of a dead soldier and a Gold Star family.  Any time she is criticized, she reacts in an emotional and dramatic way often resorting to harsh language and personal insults.

The same candidate doesn’t bother to prepare for all three presidential debates, and only keeps her cool for the first 25-30 minutes each time.  Instead of discussing her policy specifics she hurls insults at her opponent and moderators.  She is caught in lie after lie during interviews, and gets basic facts about US foreign policy completely wrong.  This woman even goes so far as to speak admirably about dictators and despots while managing to insult our allies.  She never releases her tax returns, despite promises of the contrary, and openly admits that she hasn’t paid federal income tax for the past two decades.  She’s caught on video bragging about sexually assaulting much younger men; and audio footage is released in which she admits to walking in on teenaged boys just to get a peek of their naked bodies. Nude photos of her unemployed, formal-model husband are released to the press.  In speeches and interviews she declares that she does not seek help or advice from others, and that she is the only person who can solve all of the country’s problems.  Then to top it all off, she’s endorsed by the KKK and the Alt-right movement.

If anyone believes for a moment that the female version of Trump would have lasted more than a week in this primary battle they are living in a bastion of male privilege or they’ve wrapped themselves in a blanket of patriarchal delusion.  In reality if Trump was a woman, he would not even be considered a viable candidate based on his two divorces, and five children by three different men.  That fact alone would have caused the public to turn against him.  Even ONE emotional outburst or twitter war would have doomed her candidacy.  Women are simply held to a different standard than men.

Watching the fall of Hillary on Tuesday night felt personal.  What I saw was a professional and immensely qualified woman get trounced by a boorish, thin-skinned, sexist man-child who had no intellectual curiosity or desire to learn anything new.

Every woman, Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal has been made to feel lesser at some point in her life based solely on her gender.  We have worked twice as hard, only to have someone reduce us to our looks or break us down into body parts.   We’ve sat silently in the room when a man in a position of power makes degrading remarks about our gender. We’ve had to overlook and ignore sexually inappropriate behavior because we didn’t want to lose our jobs or get a bad grade in school.  When we have spoken up for ourselves we are labeled as bitchy, shrill, difficult, mannish or worse.  We’ve had to walk down the street as strange men hurled insults at us, blocked our paths or even grabbed us simply because we didn’t stop to chat, smile, or make eye contact with them. We’ve consented to sexual acts we didn’t want to do because we realized giving in would be easier than fighting back. We’ve had every boundary pushed and ignored by men who decided we were more object than human being.  Many of us have been sexually assaulted, beaten or stalked by men we knew and trusted.  We have learned to fear all men in certain situations – to not walk home late at night, to be constantly aware of our surroundings, to not get too drunk, to worry about our drinks getting drugged, to avoid wearing short skirts or low-cut tops, to understand that we could be sexually attacked by a random stranger.

White men in this country have the gift of being neutral.  They are judged on their words and actions.  Everyone else, in every demographic, is filtered through a lens of gender or ethnicity.  Throughout the entire ordeal of the process the public and press measured Hillary by a totally different standard than they did Trump.  With all of his talk about the media bias against him, the overbearing white male could say and do anything, while the woman had to carefully watch and monitor her every move.  Even then she was criticized for being too inauthentic, robotic, and finely polished.  Voters would declare they just didn’t like her, they didn’t know why, but something about a strong and an accomplished woman shook them to their core.

So yes, voting for Hillary was not a feminist act, but watching her lose to an undisciplined, abusive, ignorant, sexist, racist and xenophobic bully hurt me deeply as a woman.  I couldn’t help but think of all the times in my own life I’ve been underestimated, torn down, humiliated, picked-apart and ashamed just because I was born female.  I could list all of the incidents but this article would become far too long, and every woman I know could also fill several pages with stories of her own.

The smug white progressives can save their advice for how I, or any woman should process this loss.  For me Hillary represented all of us, with all of her flaws and shortcomings she was the woman working twice as hard getting half the credit.  She won’t be the last woman to run for president, but in many ways she was the sacrificial lamb for the next woman to follow.  Maybe by then, our first female president will be judged more on her words and actions, rather than the narrow constraints of what it means to be a woman.

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