The Question on Everyone’s Mind “How Should Men Behave?”

This time last year I wrote about An Unbalanced Gender Culture, and how things were rapidly coming to a head (which I encourage you to read before continuing), with regards to uncertainty within our standard gender roles and how we relate to each other.  I have been blogging and tweeting about Baby It’s Cold Outside and the #MeToo movement with concern about what effect this is having on our perceptions.  And the problem being that we are ignoring the underlying issue about the roles changing between men and women, and more importantly how we are perceiving these changes.  And this is bringing up a multitude of questions, including, “where is the new line?”

Just yesterday, I was bartending, and one of my regulars told me with sincerity, that he no longer knows how to talk to women because of the #MeToo movement.  The last thing he wants to do is offend anyone, but the reality is, he is a newly divorced 50 year old man, and he wants to get out dating and flirting again, but the old ways don’t seem acceptable anymore.  He is completely open to changing his ways, but he also feels too old to walk on eggshells and not be authentic or truthful.  I think his challenges are completely relatable to almost everyone.  The world is changing, and what’s super scary is that we are trying to go back in time and retroactively punish people, media, etc with our currently unclear new world view.

Now let me be clear here, that this statement is not meant to scold the brave women for standing up against Weinstein or any rapist or abuser.  That, I need to be clear going forward, has always been wrong, and will continue to be wrong.  That isn’t hindsight.  That is bravery on the part of these women for finding the courage to say something, even years later.  There is a very clear difference between knowing something is wrong, or that gut wrenching action that made you feel horrible at the time, and what I am discussing here with regards to using todays new cloudy lens then seeking out situations from our past that, probably would not be acceptable by todays standards.  This is the key problem we are currently facing, we are focusing on digging up past situations instead of finding solutions for the current world view or thinking about what we want our future to look like.

So, with that in mind, let’s ask the question, how should men today, flirt and interact with women that they are interested in?  Where is the new line between coy, flirty and fun, versus rude, crude and inappropriate?  The answer, and I am really, really sorry about this, but… there isn’t one.  This is a grey area.  We do not have a solution yet.  So far, we can all agree that we have to start listening to the word no, and further we have to start using the word no in a more responsible and in a firm manor.  It cannot be said with a playful or coy intonation, and whenever used in that context it has to be taken at face value (precisely the reason why Baby It’s Cold Outside cannot be viewed with today’s new standards, no was used in a playful manor).  But aside from that, I struggle to find any other all encompassing rule that can help guide us in a sex positive behavioural direction.  Or in a less wordy way, to help us all get our flirt on and feel good about ourselves later.  Things remain really fuzzy and this is why I suggest we start with the simplest question first, where is your line?

I know where my lines and limits are, and just to give you a little insight or help point you in the right direction I will share or overshare as is often the case; I don’t enjoy flirting with strangers.  I like getting to know someone, and them in turn getting to know me.  Even just a coffee or two in a completely platonic way helps bring my guard down.  After that, flirting becomes fun and an enjoyable action, and I feel free to make dirty jokes, touch, and even drive things towards a much more physical setting.  So for this reason, online dating has never been an effective way to date.  Instead, it’s a way to find someone for a first meeting and then go from there.  I just don’t get off flirting or sexting with strangers.  And this is only an example of what works for me.  This insight will not work for every person out there, not even close.  As there are many women who won’t waste their time meeting someone if they haven’t been told they are attractive or have caught the eye of a stranger.  Expressing desire goes a long way for many, hell it even goes a long way for me, but again, never in an opening message or before an in person conversation (again just my opinion and will not work for everyone which is why I am asking you where your own line is).

My earnest hope in you reading or listening to this post is that you take a little comfort in knowing you are not alone.  And that you don’t give up, or go to the other extreme, which I hope I don’t need to spell out here.  We will find a solution, and we will get out of this grey area together.  Flirting will be fun again!  Mistakes will once again be allowed to be made without witch hunts, and we will again find the humanity in our sexuality, and even our sensuality.  It will just take time, education, asking tough questions and of course accepting a few more stumbles and growing pains.

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Baby It’s Cold Outside and the #MeToo Movement

 

I had planned for my first post of December to be light and fluffy and super fun.  I even created my very own #reindeerBoob (which you can see a sneak peak of on my Patreon) and was going to babble about my thoughts on this internet sensation, however, this post is much more important than my little bit of fun.  For you see, this morning I woke up to the news that various radio stations are banning a song (Baby It’s Cold Outside), and calling it a step forward in the fight for the #metoo movement.  And quite frankly, that is bullshit.

In 1990, 2 Live Crew was arrested after performing a banned song with very sexually graphic and violent lyrics.  This began a trial that was ultimately going to determine the fate of an artists freedom of speech.  Spoiler alert, musicians won, and freedom of expression and speech were protected.  And here we sit, 28 years later, banning music, yet again to protect our little sensitivities.  Have we really learned nothing?  Why do we have to keep making the same mistakes over and over again to only end up in the same place?  This is the definition of insanity.  It’s time to wake up and stop banning things just because you don’t like them.  Censorship never has the intended effect, EVER!

I absolutely think the #MeToo movement is valuable and woke a lot of people up to a major problem in our society.  It made the word consent meaningful.  It began conversations with peers and parents alike about what we can do in our social circles, and how we can better raise the next generation.  Conversations and education are the most precious things we have at the moment to move forward as a society with awareness and compassion alike.  I fully support using the hashtag #MeToo to spread awareness of facts.  What I have an intense problem with, is when groups of people rally together to start banning music, books, media, etc in the name of social change, and in this case a hashtag.  For the past couple of years, people have been rallying to ban Baby It’s Cold Outside.  And when that didn’t work, they even tried to change the lyrics to a more socially aware little ditty.  And now they are just outright pulling it from public airwaves, siting a movement that quite frankly has nothing to do with the song.

NoMoreWetSpot.com

And before you ask me, have I even heard the lyrics, yes, yes I have.  And as I write this, I have the original on in the background with a man singing it to keep his lady friend from going home, and the very funny flip of a woman singing it to keep her man from leaving.  It was written to be sung, with the irony of how a man and women singing the same lyrics would be perceived, in a comedic setting.  Light hearted fun, fit for the times, and with such a beautiful melody, it has been recorded countless times over the years with people eager to give their try as this catchy duet.  Now if you read the lyrics, with zero context and get to the line where the singer says “no” it is firm and playfully ignored.  And I would be a fool to say that this is not a huge problem in our current society.  It absolutely is, no, should always be no.  But I ask you this, what can possibly be gained by banning this song and just removing it from our musical archives?  If you guessed nothing, you would be absolutely right.  And what can be gained from having a conversation about why that part of the song is so offensive and off putting, oh that’s right, EVERYTHING!

We have an opportunity here to educate and change the perspective of people going forward.  We do this by having dialogue and debate.  We talk about what offends us and we work to improve things.  We do not just sweep things under the rug and hope they will go away, because we all know that doesn’t work.  So please, let’s not go back in time, banning music that doesn’t suit out delicate constitutions. Instead, choose to listen or turn it off.  Talk about what we can do to make more socially aware changes in your own life.  And finally, if you have ever thought about blaming a song for you being socially inept and ignoring the word no in your own life, please, sort that shit out, because you are the problem, not the song.

 

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An Unbalanced Gender Culture

I wrote a post in 2013, discussing the loss of male identity, and I highly encourage you all to please give this a quick read before continuing: A Push for Individuals.

I wrote that piece after a particularly difficult genders studies course in University.  Our professor was discussing rape culture, and the variation of machoism throughout our world.  How in some cultures men are encouraged by their male counterparts to cat call, grope and fondle passing women as a signal of how masculine they are.  While there are other cultures where men are the main caregivers, and they are taught to take care of, educate and play with the children while the women sew, farm, and make the political decisions.  What I found striking about all these cultures is that men and women seemingly had their gender specific place, putting aside natural outliers for the moment, but gender roles served their society.  The cultures existed and thrived based on gender specific traits that were cultivated and taught for generations.

Ok, so where am I actually going with this?  I have been cautiously waiting for the gender breakdown to occur in our own society.  And right now, before all of our eyes, it’s happening.  And I am nervous, anxious and trying to find a place of hope.  What do I mean by that?  Well, women in the 60’s right up through the 80’s gave a very hard push for equality.  Everywhere they looked they felt inferior and less valued in society, and they rallied together to change that, now known as the feminist movement.  A push for a female identity that was equal to men.  And the only way to do that successfully was to overshoot the target.  Woman not only proved that they were equal to men, but in many ways reached further to show that woman were and are actually better than men in many areas.  This was a revelation.  Women were not lesser, but rather had strengths and weaknesses, and enriched our culture outside of the home as well as in.

Are you with me so far?  Because here is where I get a little nervous.  Women united as a feminist movement with a clear goal of seeking equality.  And not only was there a vision, but there were real monetary and social checks that would show when we had succeeded.  To be clear there was a specific goal, that goal was clearly defined, with a finish line so to speak.  To be treated and receive the same rights as the husbands, fathers, brothers and coworkers.  Just one clear example is the wage gap, a clear monetary goal, that once achieved, we would get satisfaction and could do our jobs with security and certainty.

But now we have run into a little snag.  In all the focus on raising women up, to an equal place with men, we forgot that many men would feel that they have to come down to achieve gender equality.  That in order for the scales to find balance, men will not get to keep their status quo, the position of power and dominance.  And do you remember what I mentioned in that piece I asked you to read about men being breadwinners, etc?  That is a fundamental part of their male identity and it is being taken away.  So, in order for equality to be achieved there is a real give and take.  And the thing is, if the men are not willing to give, the women are fully prepared to take.  All personal opinions aside for a moment, the tides are changing, there is no stopping this forward movement, and there is no telling where the new shore will be.

I personally think this is why men are having such a difficult time with the consent movement.  Not only are women telling the men that they are no longer allowed to grope, or touch females without their express consent, we are going back in time to show example after example of when men crossed a huge line.  Now, my issue here, is that although its obvious now looking back what that line should look like, it wasn’t so clear back then.  We have told men that sexualizing women without permission is a crime, but we have not offered any solutions for them to fix the behaviour other than to stop it, change overnight and in fact somehow go back in time and stop their past from doing what they did.

Feel free to pause here for a moment and yell and scream at me if you want.  Men should never have objectified women in the first place.  When a women says no, or looks uncomfortable or is in a position of lesser power such that her future and livelihood depend on pleasing the male at the top, men should have recognized that this was a problem and stopped.  But they didn’t, they were in fact often encouraged to continue by their fathers and peers, and now here we are.  In a turbulent time, filled with apprehension and discord all around.  In a perfect world, I wish  men could change over night and undo their past indiscretions.  Obviously that cannot happen, and women are so angry that nothing is filling the void we feel.  No apology is good enough, no career damaged enough, no action heartfelt enough to sooth the injustice of male dominance over our bodies.

It’s bad out there, and I think it’s going to get worse.  The male identity is lost, and they are going to get angry and push back.  Female equality feels so close to our grasp, and yet, there is so much past pain, that when we finally have it, in every single part of our lives, are we going to be content or do the scars run just too deep.

From my personal perspective I do not feel a part of the feminist community.  Instead, I feel like I align more closely with the humanist movement.  One free of genders, or biases, and one filled with individuals working together for a common good, the expansion and survival of our beautiful species.  I envision a world where we break free from gender norms or roles, where the boxes that contain us are broken apart.  I look for a world beyond equality, a world where we just exists in peace, love and unity.  For now though, I want to bring clarity to the real issues.  Men fucked up.  And women, we need to figure out how to educate them on how to treat us, and figure out a way to move forward after a harrowing past.  So keep spreading the #metoo movement, and explain why consent matters, that all people are equal, and autonomy over our bodies is a positive thing for both men, women and all future generations to come.

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Consent: Why is it Not Getting Through?

Last night I could not shut off my brain.  An exciting idea struck me that I would be doing my part for Online Dating by creating a PSA to talk about getting consent before having sexual conversation or sending nudity to a stranger.  I worked it all out, and fell into a restless sleep, where I edited it throughout the night in my head.  This morning I was fueled with motivation to film it, edit and publish it for the world.  Yes I thought, this would be a positive contribution, this video would make a difference in someones life.

And then, shortly after publishing it and sharing, I sobered up.  Reality struck me, and it struck me hard.  People do not want to listen, or change their behavior.  We are all stuck it this very weird place whereby we know sending an unsolicited dick pic is bad but we don’t do anything about it.  Just today I saw a Tweet of a guy who received a dick pic over facebook and he wasn’t outraged or offended, just rather surprised by it.  And I admit, that the first time I received a dick pic, I felt exactly the same.  It wasn’t a violation the first time, instead it was a curiosity and I remember showing it to my girlfriend and laughing about it over some wine.  But by the second and third time it happened, I got angry and wrote my piece called Dear Random Penis.  And are you ready for this crazy fact?  The guy who was the last straw with sending me dick pics, and inspired the writing of that post, to this day used Dear Random Penis in his searches to keep tabs on my blog.  And sometimes late at night he even comments lewd and harassing messages.  The point was not taken, in fact, it gave him a point of pride that I wrote a piece about him.  Are you starting to see my issue here?

When we receive a nude picture or a sexually driven message on an online dating site, what do we do?  Block?  Ignore?  Start a Twitter account aimed at outing all these uneducated souls?  For my part, I felt great relief when I wrote my post about dick pics.  And all it did was get agreement from people who already knew that, and created an abusive situation for me from the guy who inspired it.  My choice to discuss, and educate fell on deaf ears.

And here I sit, after posting my video about consent and online dating, worried that I have just created the same situation for myself.  That by speaking out and trying to educate people, I will instead be putting myself in harms way.  Or even more depressing, that I will be completely ignored.  That my words will fall yet again onto deaf ears.  And this makes me very sad.

Consent is not difficult to obtain.  Asking permission before you start sexting can even be fun, interesting or at the very least a great way to practice your communication skills.  There are blogs dedicated to teaching people fun and new ways to obtain consent.  But rather than educate ourselves, we prefer the push boundaries method and seek permission after the violation.  This way of thinking needs to end.  We don’t need apps, like Legal Fling (Use caution if you google this as it might send you into blind rage) to obtain permission or consent.  We need to grow the fuck up and start talking to each other.  To communicate and to stop looking for elaborate solutions to a very simple problem.  You want to kiss someone for the first time?  Ask!  You want to sleep with someone?  Ask!  You want to flirt and send sexy messages?  Ask!

I won’t stop trying to fight the good fight.  But today, I am tired.  I am worn out.  And I am saddened to read each new article about some woman who is speaking out for the first time about her experience with harassment.  I’m tired of feeling that #MeToo feeling.  I’m tired of all the memories of abuse, and sexual harassment that are a part of my past.  I’m ready for a world where consent is the expectation rather than a difficult burden.  Please don’t let this plea go unheard…

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