Skepticism

Alabama can **** you, but you can't **** yourself.

“it is unlawful for any person to knowingly distribute any obscene material or any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs.”–Alabama State Law

For Valentine’s Day, the Alabama Supreme court had the final word on a case that’s been rolling around for at least 8 years: Is it a sex crime to sell a strap-on?

The answer, apparently, is Yes.
Yes, it is.

One would have thought after the (very surprising, but happy) strike down of all US sodomy laws in 2003, that the fundamental right to privacy affirmed by the US Supreme Court would also apply to what you diddle yourself with at home.

Au contrare! See, this isn’t about sex, or your privacy. It’s about commerce. And that the state *can* regulate.

In fact, several other states restrict sales of even the most innocuous of Hello Kitty vibes: Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas. Coincidentally, these states all allow concealed carry of weapons, and have some of the loosest firearm restrictions in the US.

As boing boing so brilliantly said, under this law one could stroll down Alabama’s streets selling semiautomatic rifles and dildos, and be arrested for the dildos.

As I mentioned in my earlier rant about scrotums, I just don’t understand the mindset at work here. Apparently the risk of a person being exposed to these devices is so high, it’s worth using valuable police time to stage a sting operation to entrap a woman selling DIY fun.

I pondered why this ban on toys, but only sometimes porn, and here’s what I came up with:
The laws are made (99.99% of the time) by heterosexual men.

What do uptight hetero men fear?

  • They fear gay men.
  • They fear vibrators, because they think sex toys will do a better job stimulating women than they can.

I’m here to proclaim the gospel:

Uptight Men of the World:
you have nothing to fear from vibes and lube.

First, gay men like other gay/bi men. The thrill of the chase isn’t about subduing unwilling prey. They don’t want your skanky ass, all flabby from thumping the bible instead of…well, anything else.

Second, vibrators are your friend. Don’t fear them–embrace them! Even the best carpenters use powertools. (See–a Manly Metaphor.) Also, read the Song of Solomon more often if you need inspiration.

Of course, this doesn’t solve the problem of uptight hetero women.

I kind of got a hint of what they’re thinking when I happened to catch CyberSeduction on cable the other night. It’s been called the Reefer Madness of porn addiction. I suspect the people that made that film are the same ones that are so afraid of a body they get a teacher fired for taking kids to a museum where they saw a nekkid statue.

What can we do for our uptight hetero sisters? Well, perhaps point out that more vibrator use will make them care less about the fact that few women are in the legislative bodies that write these laws, or that we still get paid 20% less than men.

Other than that, I’m too depressed to think about it anymore.

**A tip of the antenna to Rebecca, who gave me the post title.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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61 Comments

  1. It just boggles the mind.

    Does anyone say *why* they want to ban the sale of these toys? I can't imagine what the real reasons are, but do we have any idea of what the publicly stated reasons are?

  2. Bug_girl, you should get a Molly award. :-)

    Oh, and because I'm a very organized packrat, I have a very old clipping out of a Village Voice newspaper:

    Most men can't keep it up long enough to fulfill a woman's God-given right to orgasm. Fortunately, the vibrator can now lengthen heterozexual relations.

    ~Gore Vidal~

    Take it as you will.

  3. One might try an obvious dodge around the law by simply stating that "we sell these dildos for the primary use of visual entertainment (aka 'they are funny to look at'). Anything else, any secondary use they put these things to, is beyond our control.'

    But would anyone try that?

  4. "[uptight hetero men] fear vibrators, because they think sex toys will do a better job stimulating women than they can."

    Can there be any doubt about this? Of course vibrators do a better job, but women have been faking orgasms for centuries. Clearly a man's incompetence at pleasing a woman doesn't completely negate his "job security", as it were.

  5. yeah, you can get a better (faster) orgasm with a vibe, but it's hard to cuddle afterwards. And there's no reason not to have BOTH the great orgasm and the other person involved.

    Also, I am very relieved that we have a new quote on the side bar :)

  6. First, gay men like other gay/bi men. The thrill of the chase isn’t about subduing unwilling prey.

    Actually, I have had a few gay male friends hit on me, and a few total strangers too. Lots of gay men assume that just because you're in a gay bar you must be gay.;-)

    Most of them were totally cool once I made it clear I was straight, but some were very persistent, but the first time it happened, I remember thinking, "wow, so this is what it's like for women when a guy doesn't take 'no' for an answer," so I found the experience somewhat eye-openeing.

  7. Speaking of quotes, here's my personal favourite of the day:

    By the way, a woman friend of mine in DC whose favorite color is lavender told me some really interesting things about [Ann] Coulter, but I can't say a lot more. I really can't risk using the phrase "pussy-licking wildcat" in the same sentence as her name without having to go into rehab. Don't ask, I can't tell.

    Geoffrey K. Pullum at Language Log.

  8. It's all projection. While most men are not psychologically equipped to deal with the depressing reality, deep down, every guy knows that if we could give ourselves blowjobs, the human race would be extinct in a hundred years.

  9. On the subject of cucumbers, I remember years ago reading an old 60's era set of rules for a girls school. They had a list of banned items at the school. Interspersed throughout the list them items such as bananas, carrots, and soda bottles (which would have been the old glass ones at the time). At first, I puzzled over these items inclusion in the list, especially why soda bottles were banned but soda cans were not. Then, the light came on.

  10. It’s all projection. While most men are not psychologically equipped to deal with the depressing reality, deep down, every guy knows that if we could give ourselves blowjobs, the human race would be extinct in a hundred years.

    When I read something like I it makes me wonder if I'm really not like other guys in a significant way. Not only does the thought of giving myself a blowjob totally gross me out, but I'm not even that crazy about masturbating. I'm not trying to say I think it's morally wrong or even imply that I've never done it. It's just that it doesn't appeal to me that much. To me, sex is all about communicating with another person. Without that connection to another thinking, feeling human being, it's just not interesting. It's like talking to yourself.

    Am I weird or what?

  11. TheCzech said:

    It’s all projection. While most men are not psychologically equipped to deal with the depressing reality, deep down, every guy knows that if we could give ourselves blowjobs, the human race would be extinct in a hundred years.

    Wait…if? :-P

    Buck Fuddy said:

    …but I’m not even that crazy about masturbating. I’m not trying to say I think it’s morally wrong or even imply that I’ve never done it. It’s just that it doesn’t appeal to me that much. […]Am I weird or what?

    In a word…yes!

    All kidding aside, what you describe sounds ideal. It's just not that easy or uncomplicated for all of us. While I'd love to communicate to a thinking, feeling human being, odds are I won't be able to do that oh, whenever, without violating one or two of my moral precepts. Plus, I'm not GOOD with PEOPLE. Until I find some kind of decent relationship, the whole communication thing is not an option. But that doesn't cut out on certain, shall we say, needs? So until then, in the immortal words of Jayne Cobb:

    "I'll be in my bunk."

  12. But that doesn’t cut out on certain, shall we say, needs?

    See, there's another difference. I've never considered it a need. It's a desire, sometimes a very strong desire, but it's not a need. And it's not so much an internal drive as an attraction to another person, a desire to be with her and share that intimate connection. It's not that I never find myself thinking, "gee, I'd like to have sex with someone" in the abstract, but more often it's triggered by meeting someone and wondering what it would be like to make love with her. Can anybody relate to that at all?

  13. Buck Fuddy said: Can anybody relate to that at all?

    I should hope so. Without some type of mental connection, having sex with somebody is basically fulfilling a physiological need – might as well go out for a jog or ride a rollercoaster. Or masturbate. Physical pleasure is going on, chemical reactions are happening, but it's like eating plain pasta without any sauce or butter or oil, ya know? Sure, it's food and it fulfills a need, but it's not the same thing. (Lame analogy alert) I have a movie quote for this, but I can't recall it exactly right now. Will look up.

    Expatria said: While I’d love to communicate to a thinking, feeling human being, odds are I won’t be able to do that oh, whenever, without violating one or two of my moral precepts. Plus, I’m not GOOD with PEOPLE. Until I find some kind of decent relationship, the whole communication thing is not an option.

    I couldn't let this go by – I don't get this. I've looked at your blog several times and your comments here and it's curious to think you're not good with people. Unless you're being a total poser online, which is another topic altogether, you just don't come off as having issues with communication or "not being good with people." Moral precepts? Not sure exactly what you're referring to – can you not communicate and cuddle without having sex? Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater! (Lame cliche alert)

  14. Without some type of mental connection, having sex with somebody is basically fulfilling a physiological need…

    But that "need" is the thing that I don't really feel. It's hard to put it into logical terms when it's such an emotional thing, but it's kind of like I don't feel a need to go out and find someone to have sex with so much as I keep meeting women that I feel powerfully attracted to, and that attraction is where the desire comes from.

    – might as well go out for a jog or ride a rollercoaster.

    I'm not much of a jogger, but if I had to choose between wanking and riding a rollercoaster, that's a no brainer. I'll take the coaster! =:-)

  15. Lovely… so a group of people who probably have no clue where the clitoris is are telling me what I can and can't do with mine? Luckily, I don't live in Alabama, but I'd be looking to move if I did.

    There are two ways "prudes" can look at sexual devices that help them sleep at night – as "marital aids" (which excludes single people), and as a way to keep single people from engaging in promiscuous sex (which excludes married people). I don't agree with either way of thinking – I'm not married or promiscuous, and I own 3 such "illegal in Alabama" devices. But, no, in Alabama, they have to exclude everyone. I want out of the south so bad it hurts.

  16. While I’d love to communicate to a thinking, feeling human being, odds are I won’t be able to do that oh, whenever, without violating one or two of my moral precepts.

    I'm not sure what you're referring to here, but I hope I didn't give you the impression that I like to use women for sex. I don't feel that way at all. In my book, being desired is is the biggest turn-on there is, although I've sometimes settled for mere willingness. There's nothing more deflating to my ego than having a woman come back and say she wished she hadn't slept with me, because it's something that can't be undone, so I always go out of my way to make sure I'm welcome.

  17. It's interesting that fundy nitwit homophobes are quick to stereotype gay men as promiscuous and forward, forever making unwanted advances on straight men, but totally ignore the stereotype of gay men having great aesthetic taste.

    You'd think they'd take an advance by a gay man as a compliment.

    I guess it's just one more example of selective reality.

  18. Melusine and Buck Fuddy:

    All I mean by 'moral precepts' is that I personally don't have an interest or feel it to be 'good' for me to go out looking with the intention to just 'hook up' or have a one-night stand. Those encounters are, to me, unfulfilling, and I don't personally feel justified in taking things anywhere if I don't have the intention of finding a genuine relationship. That's what I meant to say, I suppose.

    Buck, I didn't think you meant that you USED women, no worries! I just read into your comments a rather, say, healthy sexual appetite and something of an extant love-life, which is a lot more than one could say for me. As I can't honestly say I'm out there actively seeking sexual activity, I attempted to sort of draw the line between you and me. While I respect the idea of a 'connection' to someone, I don't find it so simple to come across. That's all :)

    Melusine, maybe I am a poser! :-P No, I just communicate more effectively when writing than when speaking. I'm also terribly shy in person, particularly in new environments or crowded places, and don't have much confidence in speaking with strangers. Heck, when I say 'Thanks' (or 'Cheers, as is more common here) when someone holds a door for me, even that is barely audible. Plus, there's the whole thing where I don't find very much in common with most people for various reasons (don't drink, don't like bars/clubs/pubs, atheist, skeptic, etc) and so feel even LESS assured of myself when dealing with others. I EXPECT them not to like me!

    And, let's face it, the ladies aren't exactly beating down my door or coming up to me when I am in public, either. I'm no handsome fellow; no ladykiller, I. So, as I said, it's not that simple. :-P

    But enough of my kvetching. This threads about dildos! How can one frown when dildos are up for discussion! They're just funny, and it's a funny word. Alabama needs to lighten up, but it IS Alabama we're talking about, so that's about as likely as me getting a date. Hehe.

  19. It’s interesting that fundy nitwit homophobes are quick to stereotype gay men as promiscuous and forward, forever making unwanted advances on straight men, but totally ignore the stereotype of gay men having great aesthetic taste.

    I always take it as a compliment at first and also feel a little guilty for anything I might have done to give them the impression I was gay. I don't like to lead people on, and it must be embarrassing for them. It's only when a guy is insistent that I start to get annoyed, but I feel this is more a case of a guy being a guy than a gay thing. If anything, heterosexual guys are even pushier than gay guys. I've never had a gay man make me feel threatened, but my women friends have no shortage of horror stories about aggressive straight guys who have made them feel physically threatened.

  20. Expatria,

    I wouldn't say that I'm "out there actively seeking sexual activity." I'm just very attracted to women and always open to the possibility of sex if the attraction is mutual. I've found that most women are flattered if you take a genuine interest in them–as a person, not just a prospective sex partner–an more often than not will reciprocate, and things just grow from there.

    You shouldn't be so hung up on looks. While they may be useful for getting attention, it's not what most women care about. Qualities like empathy and honesty count for a lot more. More than anything, I think women just want to be understood. That's not something you can fake, but I think it's a skill you can hone, and it's not such a bad thing to be good at understanding other people.

  21. "Not only does the thought of giving myself a blowjob totally gross me out…"

    Jooooooooooke.

    Actually, there is an Egyptian world creation story that is essentially the creator god masterbating out the universe. There is plenty of Egyptian art (that you will never see in any children's textbook) that depicts the creation of the universe as the creator god fellating himself.

    We're all made of God's number three! All hail the Flying Autofellatio Monster!

  22. Buck Fuddy

    Sorry I wasn't more specific. I didn't mean to give you the impression I was responding to your earlier comment, I was actually responding to Bug_Girl's original post.

    I agree that persistence can be annoying and unwelcome, no matter who it comes from.

    Bjornar

    The short answer is "yes".

    The longer explanation can be found in <a href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&ct=res&cd=1&url=http%3A%2F%2 Fwww.moralityinmedia.org%2Fnolc%2FstateObscLaws%2Falabama.pdf&ei=1APVReS8DobcwALRg4jbDA&usg=__0lRGB7Ntg0y2LBuUJHw3SQuY-KI=&sig2=f_hV4KOq66tVSwhX-4t5qw” target=”_blank”>the PDF of the actual statute and in the post and comments at Sex In The Public Square.

    The answer of medium length is that the statute contains exceptions "for a bona fide medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial, or law enforcement purpose".

    So I suppose it's OK to sell a 12" vibrating dong to your state legislator as long as he's going to use it to screw the people.

    As for "bona fide medical purpose", let me repeat my earlier comment from over at SITPS:

    Imagine the ridiculousness of having to ask your doctor for a prescription for a 10â€&sup3; purple vibrator on the basis of “bona fide medical purpose”.

    “Hi doc. My vibrator wore out and I need another one or my head is going to explode. Think you could call it in to Walgreens for me?”

    I can see the legislative and judicial exception, however. Screwing the people is apparently part of the job description for legislators and judges in Alabama.

  23. I don't buy this "nice guy curse" bullshit. I'm a very nice guy. I don't know what the difference between me and you guys is. Could we get some input from the women here? What is it about a guy that makes you want to go from being "just friends" to "friends with bennies" or a casual dating relationship?

  24. Buck,

    For what it's worth, I think the difference for ME at least comes down to various different versions of one concept: Confidence. Women most definitely respond to that. Lacking confidence in, say, your ability to attract a woman, in your ability to hold her interest, in beginning to flirt, in making a bold suggestion or the first move… all of those things can doom a potential relationship to 'we're-just-friends' status right off the bat.

    I don't deign to speak for exarch, of course, but for at least MY version of 'the curse,' confidence (or the lack thereof) is to blame. That's why it often becomes difficult for ME to talk to someone I might see as potential girlfriend. That bit of fear, the hesitancy, it throws me off and makes me over-read the situation (Hmm. She's looking at my friend, she's probably more interested in him…she laughed at my joke. Was it funny, or is she flirting, or what?)

    And, on whatever level, the girl picks up on that uncertainty. Most either DO NOT recognize it for what it is and over-analyze things a different way, or DO recognize it and know to avoid someone displaying those signs because it's very hard to be with/date a 'needy' or overly-self-conscious person.

    But again, that's my take, and I echo Buck Fuddy's call for female input.

    Heh…heh…mheh…I said 'female input'…heh heheh.

  25. Hmmm. So it's fear of rejection that leads to rejection. Well, you know, FDR was right about so many things. ;-)

    There's a great line in the book, Who Moved My Cheese. It says, "what would you do if you weren't afraid?" I mean, really. What's the worst that can happen?

    If you go to a dance and you ask a girl to dance, there's a slight chance you're going to end up sitting it out, but if you don't ask someone, there's a 100% chance. Don't you just have to roll those dice?

  26. Buck,

    I understand women just fine. Sometimes too much so. That’s why I’m the ‘just friends’ guy, the guy they talk to when some other guy treats them poorly. And, frankly, I’m tired of that role.

    It’s not to say I don’t like helping people out; far from it, I enjoy giving advice and assisting people in understanding their relationships. Working through other people’s problems often brings clarity to my own issues. But A) Anything that STARTS with someone you ‘rescue’ from a bad relationship will inevitably end poorly, and B) As fun as it is riding the bench, cheering your teammates on, everyone wants to get into the game at SOME point.

    So, because I haven’t a clue where to find the sorts of girls where interest would be mutual, and because, honestly, the effort is far too great for me, I’ve pushed it to the back burner for almost as long as I can remember. If it weren’t for my ‘needs’ I’d just as soon call myself functionally asexual: though I remain attracted to women (indeed, very much so) for all practical purposes I could just as well NOT be, since it’s not as if I’m going after them.

    Which is just one more reason (after the weather, of course) why, despite having family in Mobile and actually rather liking that region, I’ll never move down to ‘Bama…if you know what I mean. :-P

  27. March 7, 2007 at 7:36 am, Melusine wrote:
    I couldn’t let this go by – I don’t get this. I’ve looked at your blog several times and your comments here and it’s curious to think you’re not good with people. Unless you’re being a total poser online, which is another topic altogether, you just don’t come off as having issues with communication or “not being good with people.” Moral precepts? Not sure exactly what you’re referring to – can you not communicate and cuddle without having sex?

    I don’t presume to know what Expatria meant, but I’ll relate my own thoughts on the matter.

    First of all, I wouldn’t expect most women to understand this. It’s sort of the “nice guy curse”. While talking to women is not a problem, talking to women you like and would want to date is, for some reason, a lot more difficult. Coupled with the fact you’re not looking for cheap, meaningless one-night sex (which a “nice guy” could probably get if he really wanted to), you’re probably passing up a lot of it because it would be with “unsuitable” women, and thus not having much sex at all.

    It’s kinda hard to explain, but when I really hit it off with a girl at a bar for exampe, my goal for the night is not to get her into my car and out of her panties, my goal is to get her number and meet her for something like a movie a few days later, and hope she’ll turn out to be girlfriend material.

    I could probably score quite a bit of parking lot sex if I really wanted to, but I don’t want to, since for one, I’m a nice guy and I abhor the idea of just using people for your own needs, whatever those may be. Plus I’d probably just end up hoping it could be (or become) something more than it really is, and mess myself up emotionally in the process.

  28. Wow. Once again exarch gets inside my brain:

    Plus I’d probably just end up hoping it could be (or become) something more than it really is, and mess myself up emotionally in the process.

    ‘Messed Myself Up Emotionally In The Process’ would be a good name for my autobiography. Well played, sir!

    And kudos on the ‘nice guy curse,’ that’s precisely what I’m talking about.

    And Melusine, I can think of no better way, once I’ve wrapped up this MA in Film Studies, to put that degree to use than by ‘communicating and cuddling’ on the couch with some special girl while watching a couple Criterion Collection DVDs. I lead a boring life, with simple and solitary pleasures. And it would be a great thing to find someone with whom to share those simple things, sex or no.

    (Sheesh, how sappy. And you wonder why I’m bit by the ‘nice guy curse?’ :-P)

  29. While talking to women is not a problem, talking to women you like and would want to date is, for some reason, a lot more difficult.

    I think the difference is all in your head. I rarely talk to any woman whom I might not potentially want to date, and I can’t tell whether or not I would actually want to date her until I’ve talked to her for a good long while.

    Is there anything in particular about certain women that determines whether or not you’d like to date them or that makes it hard for you to talk to them? And why would it be harder for you to talk to a woman you like? Doesn’t liking someone and having things in common with them usually make it easier to converse? I find it much harder to talk to someone I dislike.

    Isn’t it usually the case that, when you meet someone for the first time you’re usually a little uncomfortable, maybe a little nervous talking with them, but when you realize, hey, this is someone I really like and I’d enjoy spending more time with her, that’s when you relax and the conversation really starts flowing?

  30. bug_girl said,

    March 6, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    "yeah, you can get a better (faster) orgasm with a vibe, but it’s hard to cuddle afterwards. And there’s no reason not to have BOTH the great orgasm and the other person involved.

    Also, I am very relieved that we have a new quote on the side bar "

    "Hard to cuddle afterwards," B.G.? Then check THIS out–

    http://www.realdoll.com/maledoll1.asp

  31. Just a note on the "nice guy curse" – it's not a curse so much as a lack of confidence and an overabundance of insecurity. I've turned down a few "nice guys" who would have made amazing boyfriends except for the fact that they were horribly insecure. Of course, the sad irony in this is that rejection in most cases makes insecurity worse. And it turns into a cycle. And I can't remember who said they did this, but when you enter a situation expecting people to not like you… well, I'm no psychologist, but in my experience, you inadvertantly send out visual and auditory cues that either you don't like the other people around or that you don't care about them. Which again, kind of works as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    I just have to say too, from this girl's perspective, a little nervousness can be cute and endearing. When it's to such a degree that it becomes insecurity, it's a huge turn off. I hate to sound mean, but it's kind of like a "if you don't even like yourself, why should I like you?" mentality. Or maybe to be more accurate "if you don't even think you're good enough for me, why should I think you are?". And it may not even be that you don't like yourself or that you don't think you're good enough for that person – but that's ALWAYS how insecurity comes across.

  32. Buck Fuddy said:

    There’s a great line in the book, Who Moved My Cheese. It says, “what would you do if you weren’t afraid?” I mean, really. What’s the worst that can happen?

    Hmm. I wonder if that's a bit like asking a hypochondriac, 'What's the worst disease you think you could get?' I could think of any number of awful scenarios, of course, and I've lived through a few myself, but that won't disprove your point, which I will concede. The 'curse' is not in my stars, but in myself. Unlike 'The Secret', however, there's no mysticism involved in this version of 'like attracts like,' only the reality that displaying a lack of confidence will ultimately lead to rejection.

    It was good to see kellbelle1020 back me up more or less on that point. I've absolutely come across as apathetic or negative towards other people just because I was in a self-conscious mood, or didn't feel like being social at the time. And as a homebody whose hobbies (film, video games, laziness) aren't particularly SOCIAL, those forced interactions are quite common.

    But then I've had a number of occasions (especially in work or school environments) where, upon my mentioning my 'not being good with people' or my confidence issues, others are SHOCKED to hear it. 'You're not introverted!' they say, 'you talk more than anybody else!' (as the number and verbosity of my comments on this topic will attest). SO I guess I CAN appear confident. Yet even in those situations I'm not appealing to the ladies, so who knows?

    Part of it is also my near-total brutal honesty. The phrase 'honest to a fault' doesn't even begin to describe me. A friend once compared me to one of those sex offenders who has to go door-to-door telling people what he's done. In other words, if I weren't always so open and willing to demonstrate my own problems, other people wouldn't know they were there. Again, these comments are a case in point. I need to just sit quietly in the corner while the sane people chat!

  33. Thanks, kellbelle1020. That kind of confirms what we thought. I'd also add that if someone is insecure, they are overly self-conscious, which means they are preoccupied with thinking about themselves, worrying about how they look, how they act, etc., and it's just no fun being with a person like that.The whole point of being on a date or even going to bed with someone is to be attentive to the other person. If all your energy goes into worrying about yourself, you're not paying attention to whether or not your date is having a good time.

    So how do you break this vicious cycle? You can work on it yourself by spending more time in social activities and concentrating on paying attention to other people's emotions rather than focusing on your own. Or you can get therapy. Therapy can help you identify incidents in your past that might have caused you to be insecure and work through your unresolved feelings about them. Or you can do both. Whatever happened in your past, you don't have to let it screw up the rest of your life. The future is still unwritten. Write yourself a happy ending.

  34. Hey, can that doll do calculus? :-)

    Kidding. He's kinda Stepford Husband-looking. Yuck. Sometimes I wonder if that's the future…

    I agree with the great comments Kellebelle made.

    Also, Buck Fuddy said to Expatria: Qualities like empathy and honesty count for a lot more. More than anything, I think women just want to be understood.

    I agree, but I think people want to be understood. There's nothing more disconcerting than waking up 3 1/2 years later and saying, "This person doesn't know me." Honesty, trust, support, and well, just liking the other person count a lot more than looks, degrees, etc. (Those things didn't help my parents!) And the thing is, attraction isn't this nice logical thing – there are so many little factors that trigger responses in one person or another, and they may be far from what you think they are. IOW, a person will say to me, "This person is so right for you…he likes this or that or this.." as if a mere laundry list of tastes and credentials would do it. Ugh. I've never "operated" on checklists – maybe other women do. Expatria, I'm just saying don't make too many assumptions about what people may or may not like and just be yourself(s). If you don't do that then you will merely "falsely" attract somebody. But you seem like an upfront sort of person anyway.

    Also, Expatria, you've said more than once that you're not a "handsome fellow." Ok, since you keep saying so I'll believe you. Now, do you look like a warthog with Alien drool dribbling down your neck? I doubt it. Do ugly guys get pretty women and vice versa – yes. How? Because they have so many other things going for them that their looks just grow on the beloved and love is slightly blind, or something.

    BTW, Criterion puts out good quality DVDs. They have "The Seventh Seal" on their list among other notables, and then some doozies like "Armageddon," which I did see in the movie theater. (I admit that I wanted to see the special effects as I did with Starship Troopers and the bugs sucking the brains out of their heads.) :-)

  35. March 7, 2007 at 1:05 pm, Buck Fuddy wrote:
    "Is there anything in particular about certain women that determines whether or not you’d like to date them or that makes it hard for you to talk to them? And why would it be harder for you to talk to a woman you like? Doesn’t liking someone and having things in common with them usually make it easier to converse? I find it much harder to talk to someone I dislike."

    It's not that. I suppose there's more of a fear of messing up with a girl you really don't want to blow your chances with. While on the other hand, with a girl you have no immediate interest in dating, there's nothing on the line so to speak. If she doesn't like you? Whatever …

    March 7, 2007 at 1:23 pm, Expatria wrote:
    "For what it’s worth, I think the difference for ME at least comes down to various different versions of one concept: Confidence. Women most definitely respond to that. Lacking confidence in, say, your ability to attract a woman, in your ability to hold her interest, in beginning to flirt, in making a bold suggestion or the first move… all of those things can doom a potential relationship to ‘we’re-just-friends’ status right off the bat."

    I think in my case, the insecurity/lack of confidence lies in my ability to attract women. Part of the reason why I like fishing for compliments from women online I suppose :D But since none of those women have ever shown any romantic interest in me, I am still somewhat in doubt about my attractiveness towards the opposite sex :P
    I'm sure this dates back to being a very unattractive, nerdy, unpopular, shy teenager.

    My second problem lies in making the first move. I usually know exactly when/where I missed my cue. Afterwards :?
    I never really know when would be the right time to act, to ask a number, to make a move, etc…
    Sometimes I get it right, but far too often, I don't. I suppose it's because I dread the repercussions of simply throwing myself at a girl, possibly giving the impression I'm not interested in them. This is clearly more a "fear of rejection" thing, in combination with a simple lack of experience of what you can get away with without getting a slap across the face or being arrested, and anything inbetween.

  36. Buck:

    Trying to force being social and therapy, eh?

    Been there, done that, written the novel on BOTH counts, my friend :) In the end, I always come back to just being me.

    Honestly, another large part of the problem is that I have an IDEA of what I'm looking for, and I've almost never come across it. It's not that I've got SUCH high standards, mind, just some rather DIFFERENT standards. I'm relatively content to NOT seek out women.

    Melusine said: " but I think people want to be understood

    Bingo. I'm honest and upfront, yeah, and I hope to find someone who understands me and what I'm all about. And for them to understand a lot of my choices, they'd LIKELY have to feel similarly. The drinking thing, for instance, is a big stumbling block. Very few people understand that choice, and while male friends ARE worse about it than female ones, almost everyone thinks they are going to be the one to 'break' me and show me how I was missing out on all that boozy fun all along! :-P

    Though there are CERTAIN things I'm looking for in a relationship, it's not a laundry list, that's for sure. It's more so about the CHOICES she makes. I have to understand her reasons, and it's important that (as I said before) she is able to understand my OWN choices and reasons.

    I'm always myself, warts and all, and if I play up those warts a bit, then maybe I'll be alone until someone recognizes that that's just ME and gets past it. It's something that I FEEL will increase in likelihood as I get older. (I've always said, it's the middle aged or older women who can never grasp why I'm single :-P ) Maybe I'll never find the sort of person I want; I don't know. But I guess that's what I'm after and I believe that will be more satisfying than more frequent disappointing or unfulfilling situations.

    Now, that said, it wouldn't hurt to be hit on every once in a while. I think that what I find MOST disheartening is giving someone a little smile and not getting even that much in return. Though I may ACT like it, I know I'm not TOO bad-looking. But it's been said that an 'average looking' woman will get hit on far more than an 'average looking' man (due in part to the male aggression Buck mentioned earlier), so there is that.

    Alright. Any more out of me and I'll officially be giving myself the 'Go Cry, Emo Kid' lifetime achievement award!

  37. Expatria said: But it’s been said that an ‘average looking’ woman will get hit on far more than an ‘average looking’ man (due in part to the male aggression Buck mentioned earlier), so there is that.

    That's why women don't like being hit on. It happens all the time. It's like spam. They have to filter it out. Most women have very effective spam-blocking software. :-) That's part of what you're up against.

    Expatria said: I think that what I find MOST disheartening is giving someone a little smile and not getting even that much in return.

    Try giving a BIG smile. Seriously. You should be smiling a little all the time. If you can't then maybe you do need therapy. If you can, make sure you do it all the time. Practice in front of a mirrior. If you're used to your friends saying "what's wrong?" instead of "hi, how are you?" you need to work on it.

    exarch said: I suppose there’s more of a fear of messing up with a girl you really don’t want to blow your chances with.

    I still don't understand exactly when this uncomfortable conversation with "someone you don't want to blow your chances with" comes in. If it's someone whom you've gotten to know and like, you should have enough familiarity with her likes and dislikes to be able to avoid "blowing it." If you don't know her that well, how do you know she's someone you'd be interested in?

    When I think of "blowing it," I imagine saying something like, "boy, that George W. Bush sure is a dumb shit," to a girl who turns out to be a rabid conservative. Sure, that would blow my chances of getting her to date me, but who gives a crap? I wouldn't want to hang out with her anyway. Imagine going to dinner with Ann Coulter!

    In my experience, the most discomfort I have in talking with someone is that first conversation, but if you don't hit it off with a total stranger, who cares? There's no shortage of total strangers in the world. I'm not saying I like to go around alienating people, but when I start to sense somebody has a lot of values and beliefs that aren't compatible with mine, unless she seems like someone who can respectfully tolerate differences, that's when I say, "have a nice day."

    So in these initial conversations, the risk is high, but the stakes couldn't be lower, and as the stakes go up, the risk goes down. So I'm still confused about when these high-risk, high-stakes conversations of yours are happening.

  38. Melusine said: I agree, but I think people want to be understood.

    That's certainly true, but I've found it's less of a challenge for guys. Most women can figure me out in seconds flat. ;-)

    Women, on the other hand, seem to have this problem with guys always thinking they are something they're not, because their perceptions are based more on their own needs than on understanding her as a person. Most single guys are out looking for "a girlfriend," and every girl they meet is a potential girlfriend until something goes wrong–usually rejection. Women tend to do just the opposite: she may be yearning for a partner, but a guy's got to convince her step-by-step that he's the one.

    Melusine said: Kidding. He’s kinda Stepford Husband-looking. Yuck. Sometimes I wonder if that’s the future…

    The thing that skeeved me out when I looked at the female dolls was that it just gave me the impression of having sex with a dead person. Then I saw that banner ad for the "half torso," which totally grossed me out. The thought of some guy having sex with a headless, armless, legless female torso is just so disturbing on so many levels…

    Okay, I shouldn't have let my mind go there.

  39. Sorry Buck, I quite plainly don't buy into the 'smiling all the time' thing. I tend to see people who smile all the time as vapid and unaware rather than genuinely happy. I'm not saying that I walk around glowering or in tears. Rather that I keep a pretty neutral look on my face unless something I see or think about pleases me.

    Personally, I'd rather encounter a girl who gives a little Mona Lisa smile at me as I walk by than one who is already smiling and breaks into an even BIGGER one. I'm SURE there are women out there who prefer the same thing.

    I wouldn’t want to hang out with her anyway. Imagine going to dinner with Ann Coulter![…] (W)hen I start to sense somebody has a lot of values and beliefs that aren’t compatible with mine, unless she seems like someone who can respectfully tolerate differences, that’s when I say, “have a nice day.”

    That's most people, to me, actually. That's what makes me feel a bit disaffected and disinterested. I am kind, certainly, to the people I meet. But I say 'have a nice day' in my mind pretty frequently too.

  40. If you can get yourself a copy, an interesting take on this is a book by Norah Vincent, "Self-Made Man", in which she spent time disguised as a man doing "manly" activities. As she says, it's one person's biased view, but quite interesting nonetheless.

  41. For what it's worth, I disagree with Buck Fuddy's proffered solutions. Being someone you're not, being fake, can be an even bigger turn-off than insecurity (I find people who smile all the time creepy, actually). I'm more like you, Expatria, in that I'm kind of a naturally anti-social person. I've had to learn that it's OKAY to be introverted. It doesn't mean there's something wrong with me. And you're already 20 steps in the right direction by being content with yourself and looking for someone who likes you for you.

    However, that said, there is a HUGE difference between being artificially social and entering situations with the expectation that people will dislike you. And the former is not the solution to the latter. Maybe just change your expectations of other people around a little bit. They might surprise you.

  42. kellbelle1020: I'm not suggesting anybody should be fake. I'm just saying that the natural reaction to someone who looks like they're hurting is to give them space. Maybe you're different, but most people like to be around people who are happy. No one smiles all the time. Not even me. I was just hoping that by encouraging him to smile all the time he might start to smile some of the time, and that might start to make a difference. Clearly, what he's doing now isn't making him very happy. I, on the other hand, am pretty happy with my life. I'm trying to understand what the difference is and see if I can help him be happier.

  43. Buck Fuddy: I do see your point. You're right, most people don't like being around people who are unhappy. But smiling doesn't equal happy. If someone is unhappy, and they smile (even only some of the time) to project an image of happiness, then they stop being real. To themselves and everyone around them. And most people like being around genuine people too.

    Like I said before, I am kind of an anti-social person. You seem to be a very social person. What works for you won't necessarily work for someone else, especially in the social arena! And encouraging an anti-social person to just be more social simply causes an excess of stress, and ultimately MORE unhappiness – I know that from experience.

  44. kellbelle1020, thanks. I agree with what you say in the end, there, about changing expectations a little bit. That I've managed to do just fine, in terms of friends I've made. I guess I don't really assume people will DISLIKE me, so much as I assume that they'll be about as disinterested in my quiet, mostly self-sufficient lifestyle as I am in their outgoing, plans-every-night lifestyle. And you know what? In most cases, it's PROBABLY true. And when I'm out with people in an environment I don't USUALLY enjoy, and I'm in a relatively social mood, I get along just fine with people and can get past the stuff that makes me uncomfortable in those places/situations.

    But when it comes to the relationship area, I'm not so willing to compromise. As Buck suggested, I'm a bit stubborn. I'll cop to that. But I've got a pretty clear idea of what I DON'T want, and I'm unwilling to just take that on a 'for now' basis. I can't say I'm UNHAPPY, after all, just in a sort of semi-content stasis.

    Could I be happier? Certainly. Are there ways I could seek out that extra bit of happiness? Perhaps, though I'm not sure what they are given my interests (or more importantly, disinterests). But am I OK, most of the time, with being kind of a loner with his own agenda? Absolutely. Would I like for someone to share that agenda? Most definitely, but I'm not in a hurry and know all too well the ways in which FORCING someone to fit into your own personal sphere can go wrong. So until someone comes around who steps inside my sphere, looks around, and says 'Hmm. It's cozy in here!' I'm content enough to get through most days.

    And as a price for that static semi-contentment, I'll take the occasional blue period, as long as they remain occasional. If the blue periods become PERSISTANT (which is certainly a risk) I know the avenues to explore to help things even back out again. So yeah, I'm FINE. It may be 'abnormal' to most people's standards, but I'm distrustful of 'normality' or other popular things. Taking the harder route is one way I express that distrust, and someday I'm confident that I'll meet a girl who sees and understands that, and who has, perhaps, travelled a similar route. Then I'll know I'm home :)

  45. kellbelle1020: Maybe people are different, but I think that given the way our brains are wired to our faces, if we smile, we tend to be happier. Or maybe it's just that you have to think about something that makes you happy in order to smile. I don't know. I've always seen neurobiology as a kind of chicken and egg thing. What comes first, the thought or the brain chemistry. That is, you can measure chemical differences in the brains of people who are depressed, but is that the cause of their depression or just a symptom?

    I don't exactly believe in the notion of free will, but it's obviously true that we can make choices and we are capable of learning and changing our thought processes and literally rewiring our brains.

    I used to be a college professor, and I had to deal with a lot of sad, depressed students, and I honestly believe that in most cases I was able to help them, at least a lot of them told me I did, and what I did mostly was to point out what their good qualities were and encourage them to think more positively and to spend more time doing things that made them happy.

  46. Thad,

    Yes, I know. It's because I don't sleep with married women. :-D

    But, seriously. Do women stop masturbating when they get married or something? If so, why????

  47. Buck Fuddy, I suspect (and I suppose know to some degree) that when people are married, and especially when they have kids, that they are often too exhausted to do anything, especially if they both work…anything including the time to please themselves (in a variety of ways). Let alone just the space to be alone. That's part of it. So, when they can actually fit in time to have (or find the energy) to have sex with their spouse, it functions as double duty. I don't think this is any different from unmarried couples who live together for years.

    To be honest, I find "sex" studies of this nature to be as useful as reading horoscopes. Seriously.

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