Fast Sex, Slow Love

I wrote a little thing in the RedEye about how casual fast sex doesn’t mean the end of love. But that we have to change the gendered stereotypes we have connected to casual sex so that it stops getting in the way of our love!

“With all this social conditioning tied to sex, we end up with feelings after sex that have little to do with the actual sex and everything to do with how society tells us we should feel about the sex. And those feelings often are not linked to love but to shame or ego-tastic pride or even hate.

But if, as Fisher suggests, times are changing and more people are starting to embrace sex as part of the path to love, then maybe we can shed all this extra weight of the gendered “shoulds” of sex. Maybe if sex could be just sex—something that could mean the start of something awesome but more likely means a decent roll in the hay and a new pancake recipe—then as human beings we would be more free to explore and create our romantic love and attachment.”

check it out here

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Here’s to the losers

Someone reminded me today that sometimes it is hard to be the one fighting in the rink, the one risking it, the one challenging the status quo, for lack of a better word sometimes it is hard to be a maverick. Often, it is so difficult because you fail, you lose, you go in full of luster and you still fall sort. But it is worth it, because you live life, because you are trying. Trying really in the end is what it is all about.

Here is some Garfunkel and Oats to remind us of this in song form. It is always better to try and lose than to not try.

The Future of Women in Porn

Last week I wrote a piece exploring the possible future role of women in porn. As much as is possible in a 500-word popular press piece written for 20-somethings, I tried to express the nuances of this whole feminism and porn intersection. So often when talking about porn we are forced to put either “pro” or “anti” in front of our names. After studying porn for going on two years now, I have found myself see-sawing between the two unrealistic dichotomies, now settling on the fact that porn, like many media, is flawed but redeemable. I strongly believe in creating fair trade porn, porn that incorporates fair working conditions, shatters existing sexist and racist tropes in porn and creates sexier, more realistic images of sex and pleasure. Of course people will disagree and many will form opinions without even reading the piece. But I really hope we can get off the opposing warring sides of this “porn debate” and start having some fruitful conversations about the future of women in pornography.

To read the full piece click here.

Why they don’t love you, why you love

A piece I’ve been working on for 2 years finally made it into the ethers, although it was made very gender-specific through revisions on Quarterlette. Because I just love this piece so much, I wanted to publish it here in its original lengthy and less gender-specific version…..

ORIGINAL: Why they don’t love you, why you love

There are two reasons why they don’t love you and neither one matters.

The first reason is because she doesn’t, he doesn’t love you. This is the reason that breaks our ego. They don’t love us simply because of who we are, or because of who we can’t be.

Because they want to love someone smarter, thinner, more cultured, with more hair on their chests, with a larger record collection, with a less alcoholic father, with less baggage; someone who is hot, someone who is less hot than they are. someone who expects less but wants more, someone who loves dogs and hates cats, someone who went to a big state college, someone who knows who Faust is, someone who puts bear posters in their bathroom and wears a fez while driving.

They can’t love us because we aren’t enough, not attractive, well-spoken, graceful, artistic, passionate, or laid back enough; we look terrible in skinny jeans, we forget to shave our legs on Friday nights, we wore board shorts to dinner one time, we talk about our exes too much, we’re getting our MFAs, we aren’t Jennifer Lawrence or Ryan Gosling, we love too openly, we won’t go to CrossFit with them, we use big words to make ourselves feel superior. Because we don’t make them feel love.

This reason is dangerous because it makes us think we can and must change ourselves to save our egos, to find love. Because he didn’t love the way I chew on my hair when I’m nervous, the way I say um to fill space, the way I stand pigeon towed at concerts, because he didn’t love this, no one will. Because she doesn’t love my weird random patch of back hair, my need to plan out every activity on my google calendar, my lame puns, my videogame friends, my lazy eye, my lazy life, because she doesn’t love who I am, no one will love me and who I am.

I could tell you that you are wrong; that someone will love your stubbly legs and your use of the word nefarious in everyday conversation, but you won’t believe me, not yet. Because right now all you can remember is that they didn’t love you because of you.

The second reason that they don’t love you is maybe because they can’t. This reason does damage to our sensibilities. If they don’t love us because of us, we try to change ourselves. If they can’t love us because of themselves, we want to change them, we think we can change them.

Maybe they are heart broken and unable to imagine loving anyone the way they loved him, or maybe they are just broken, lying flat on the floor waiting for the world to end, maybe they can only love alcohol right now, maybe their band is taking off, maybe they have to find themselves eat, pray and fuck style, maybe they can’t afford to take the risk of love right now, maybe they are incapable of love.

You must think, you will think, maybe I can fix, help, guide them, maybe I will be the one to change them. I could tell you that you won’t be, that of course they are the only ones who will decide they can love, but you won’t listen because you’re too busy saving love, saving hope, trying to mend a wing that is dissolving in your hand.

Really though whether they don’t love you or can’t love you all that matters is that there is no love and what you do with that fact.

You have two options.

You can stay. You can stay curled up on your January-frozen hard wood floors, starring at the spot he last stood. You can repeat the anguish to yourself every day, remind yourself how much it hurts, tell yourself it will never go away, know that it will never go away, that you have invited heartbreak in and it has made your heart its permanent home, you can update your miserable status again and again with yet another Smiths song, you can stay in perpetual lovelessness.

Or you can move, not necessarily move forward but just move. Go to the clubs and make out with a MILF, take a improv class no matter how clichéd it feels, take aimless walks along the lake on days it is too cold to do so, tell a story out loud, get drunk at a Cubs game and puke in an alley, have sex with that friend you shouldn’t have sex with, go to AA, move in with your parents and start making candles to sell on etsy. Move, do something.

At the end of the day you may find yourself back where you started, back on that cold hard wood floor. Or you may find yourself on a different cold hard wood floor looking up at a cracked ceiling with new legs wrapped around yours. When you move you don’t know where you’ll end up, but if you stay you know exactly where you will be in a month, in a year, tomorrow. There is safety and extreme sadness in that knowing.

I could tell you to move but it doesn’t really matter what I say. If you want to stay, you’ll stay. If you want to move you’ll move. No matter what though remember that you loved. That is perhaps the only thing that does matter.

We live in a world that prioritizes being loved, glorifies the act of being sought after and revered. We forget often that there is no magic in being loved and not loving. We forget all the importance of our lives is not in who loves us but in our ability to love. Loving and not being loved back doesn’t mean it wasn’t love, it means something mattered to you, something meant enough to you even if it was just for a moment, a summer, a marriage, that you loved it, you gave those words and that meaning to it.

The reason they don’t love you doesn’t matter, the fact that you loved does.

International Women’s Day and some reflection time

Five years ago on International Women’s Day I started my first feministy blog called Third Wave in the Second City. Two years ago, after I was accepted to IU, I started this blog, originally called Super Woman’s Day Job and now called “I’m a Fucking Feminist.” Although International Women’s Day isn’t really “a thing” here in the states, to me it always meant the day I remembered I had a voice and that voice mattered.

As I dive, or am swallowed, further into this academic life, I feel the power of my voice growing. I know important words now. I can cite studies with authority. I have a key to the lab for Christ’s sake. I matter. And while this feeling is mainly delightful, I know in the upcoming decades I need to remember this is not the experience for many women. Many women feel silenced or unheard. Many women don’t believe in the power of their stories, or they don’t have the priviledge of an ivory tower pulpit.

I recognize my new life, and my new role, gives me the ability to have authority with my voice and my story. This is an incredible gift. Whether it is on this little blog, for the RedEye (or hopefully something even bigger in the future), or for an academic journal, I want to remember this matters, writing matters, telling my story matters. And I want in the future to help as many other young women as I can recognize this power as well.

Happy International Women’s Day everyone!

The Sum Total of Love

While I was walking to school the other day, I was listening to a Sex Nerd Sandra podcast called Love Lab. A 34-year old listener called in and told Sandra he had been alone for every single one of the past 34 Valentines Days. He was sick of it; more accurately, he was bitter and discouraged. You could hear it in his gruff but slightly shaky voice, the raw emotion of what felt like an eternity of lonely Valentines.

Of course, this youngish man’s plight made me think of my past 29 Valentines, from the Mickey Mouse cut out cards to the over-the-top-bouquets to the binge drinking of $2 long island ice teas.

When I was little, like all little kids, I loved Valentine’s Day because it meant candy, lots and lots of delicious, fructose-corn-syrup-enriched candy. In true Midwestern style, everyone gave everyone else a valentine in my rural little elementary school; not because we had to, not because the school made us, but because we were in Wisconsin and that is what you did. Valentine’s Day meant spreading the love via sugar.

As I grew up, I remember the significance of Valentine’s Day becoming apparent to me with my first crush in middle school. There were usually school dances during which I danced with one of my very platonic and eventually gay male friends. And for the most part, I was fine with this, as the idea of actually touching my crush made me dry heave.

In high school, I vividly remember my Dad bringing home my mom and I carnations from the gas station one Valentine’s Day. They were hideous and cheap and died in about 2 days, but for a stoic 250 pound man, this simple gesture was one of sheer love.

In college, if Valentine’s Day fell on a Thursday through Sunday, I drank through it. If it fell on a Monday through Wednesday, I only drank through half of it. Needless to say I don’t have a lot of distinct memories from these Valentine’s Days.

Then came “adulthood.” During the past 7 years on Valentine’s Day I have, in no particular order, been broken up with on the phone, lost my virginity in a terribly clichéd and lovely way, cut off my hair into a shaggy Justin Bieber style cut and then partied like a rock star, cried through the day on the pull out couch of my parents’ retirement condo in Florida, gone on a completely average and forgettable second date, waited for someone to call, made dinner for a broken hearted friend, and found out I had been accepted to grad school, which immediately led to drinking like an undergrad. My Valentine’s Days have been a hodgepodge of lovely, terrible, mediocre and drunk.

But the thing that strikes me the most about reflecting back is looking forward; I have another 50, or if I’m being optimistic, 60 years of Valentine’s Days. I have 50 more days of possible love, heartbreak, solace, excitement, disappointment, resentment, jealousy, apathy, and most likely uncertainty. I have 50 more days of potential.

What the love lab caller hasn’t yet realized is his life, his joy, his worthiness, is not a sum total of all of his Valentine’s Days, it is not how many people have loved him, how many dates he has taken to fancy Italian restaurants, how many people have slept in his bed. His life is not a sum total of romantic love.

Although his life, our lives, are love. Our lives are all the things we have loved, do love and will love, whether that be the our yet-to-be-born children, our parents or our now-gone grandparents, our childhood friends, the Green Bay Packers, our amazing jobs, our golf clubs, our Vampire Weekend album on vinyl, our in-progress medical degrees, our rock-tumbling hobby, our yearly trips to Burning Man,  our cats and/or our current or to-be-found future loves. We are all a sum total of what we love and the potential for what we have to love.

On this Valentine’s Day, let’s choose to think in sum totals instead of zero sum games, let’s feel all the love we have instead of that which we have lost or that which has not found us yet, let’s look with gratitude on this day of love that we are able as human beings to both love and lose love, heal and find love again. Let’s be grateful that, if we really think about it, love abounds even if it doesn’t feel like it in our lives today.