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?

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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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#ReindeerBoob and the Fine Line About Censorship

Last week, a friend of mine sent me a few images of #reindeerboob and I was immediately smitten with them.  Combining my love of costumes and showing off I knew this was a photo shoot I needed to do.  So, I sipped some wine and started drawing out what would become a set of antlers, picked out a shirt and enlisted my partner to take some pictures of the completed look.  After taking the pictures, I grew a little sad that this photo album would be for my Patreon fans only.  What a waste I thought!  And then, yesterday, on Facebook of all places I saw it, a post of #Reindeerboob in all its public glory.

But wait a minute, Facebook is supposed to be a family friendly platform, so how was this post not flagged as inappropriate?  Why is what is basically a bare breast with a little bit of glitter and decoration suddenly OK to show?  Well, while it may be flagged as offensive by some, it actually doesn’t violate the prime policy Facebook leans on, and that is the display of the female nipple.  The other component, is that in this case, the breast is not sexualized (well I mean arguably it’s more humorous than randy), but the fact remains, the breast is not being displayed in a way the elicits any sexual behaviour.  It is simply a fun place to put a reindeer, and all the naughty bits are covered up.

Does this seem a little weird or fishy to anyone else?  Why is this the line?  What makes the nipple something worthy of censorship?  Why are we all so afraid of seeing this particular body part?

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Honestly, I have no answer.  There is little rhyme or reason other than someone was asked to draw a line in the sand about what to censor and the nipple was poking just a little too far out.  It was bright and perky, and got noticed.  And well, I now keep my nipples out of the sunlight.  I keep them hidden from public platforms like facebook, and show them off less proudly on my blog.  That’s a hassle I just don’t need in my life.  I have zero desire to have someone tell me that my nipples violate anything and need to be put away, or hidden from view.  No one tells me what I can and cannot do with my body!  So, I toe the line.  I adhere to the policies of the public platforms I use, as best I can, and instead of challenging a faceless entity with my pictures, I use my words.  I use this blog, and the vlog to shout as loud as I can, that censorship is bad, and #FreetheNipple! And when I see the opportunity to follow the rules and show off?  Well, obviously I pounce!  So enjoy this wonderfully festive hashtag.  Make your own #reindeerboob.  Share it with pride!  Have fun with it!  And most of all make this your most sex positive holiday yet!

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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. 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.  There is zero place for censorship!

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.

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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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My Holidays, My Family, My Way

In just a few weeks, my partner and I will pack up our car and begin our annual road trip south for the holidays.  It has become our tradition and something that I just couldn’t imagine not doing.  But when I tell people that we are doing this, the very first question I get asked is, “oh are you going to go visit family?”.  Well, let me just preface this by saying, my partner and I are a family.  For us, Christmas isn’t a time for visiting our family.  It is a time for us.  We go down there because we love it, it gives us a chance to relax, do whatever we want without any obligations and simply to have just a total and complete reset.  It is our Christmas Vacation, on our terms,

It’s funny though the looks you get from friends and acquaintances who just cannot imagine ever not spending the holidays with their family.  It is almost a moral obligation.  We are outsiders, again, straying from the norm.  Here’s a familiar term within my blog, I am once again an outlier in the way I do things.  Just because you have always spent time with your family does not mean that you have to continue to do that.

In my immediate family, the holidays were about obligation, and stress.  It was about dividing time between families, and scheduling dinners, and basically pleasing everyone but myself.  I was informed that I was only allowed to make my own holiday traditions once I had children of my own.  Until then, I was on everybody else’s clock.  And for a while, I was compliant.  I spent my 20’s just driving from house to house, having quick little visits and then heading home craving that celebratory drink, thankful that I survived another year without tears or having huge blowouts with certain family members.  Writing this, I honestly cannot believe I actually tolerated this way of spending the holidays for so long.  Especially knowing what I know now.  The holidays can actually be really fun, relaxing and completely drama and stress free if you choose to do it that way, and you better believe that I do.

I love many things about Christmas.  I love watching movies, baking cookies, and drinking all the Christmas cheer I can get my hands on.  I love getting dressed up for the parties, and wishing happy holidays to strangers on the street, and just the general joy that seems to be in the air.  It has a sense of wonderment and magic that makes me so happy.  But I also appreciate that I can do all those things completely obligation free when I am far away from those that have kept me locked in tradition for so long.

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Last year, we had our entire campground to ourselves for Christmas and spent the morning drinking beer, taking sexy photos and just enjoying each other’s company and the sunshine.  In the evening we got invited to a potluck for all the people who didn’t have family that year, and my goodness it was amazing!  Everyone was so thankful to be there, that Christmas cheer was overflowing.  There was absolutely zero dinner stress.  There was no bickering, no drunk aunt that was going to say something offensive and possibly ruin the rest of the night.  There was no secret sign between partners as to when the appropriate time to make your leave was going to be.  There was absolutely zero, and I mean zero drama or even a hint of it.

That is how I choose to spend my holidays.  That is how I want to celebrate this joyous time of year.  That is why I have zero qualms about driving for nearly 30 hours at a time to arrive at this little peace of tranquil perfection.  I firmly believe that the relationships in your life should enrich you in some way.  We cannot choose our family, but we absolutely have a choice in how we spend our time, and with whom.  Even if you feel the overwhelming obligation or guilt this year, try and remember to take a little time for yourself.  Spend authentic time with those that are important to you this holiday.  And perhaps you will be lucky enough to have the mindset spill over into the rest of the year.

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Money and Relationships

AKA The Adage of Never Mix Business with Pleasure: Relationship Edition

I doubt there is a person out there who has never heard the warnings against mixing business with pleasure.  Announcing plans on going into a financial partnership with your best friend will elicit gasps, dire warnings, and a whole barrage of “never do that” anecdotes.  It’s a very simple concept to grasp, when finances are involved the relationship will suffer at one point or another, and very often erupt into irreconcilable differences that sever the friendship.  Ok, so we all agree that this adage is well known, and is ripe with a million and one examples?

Then how the hell are relationships supposed to survive this very thing.  Mixing sex, love, a partnership with the obvious financial merging of two people is supposed to be taboo (never sleep with a coworker as an example).  Something that we are supposed to avoid in friends but have zero choice about in long term relationships.  Does anyone else find this mind-numbingly insane?  Instead of teaching partners on any level about how to do this legally or otherwise we completely and almost universally clam up about this.  It’s almost as if society seems grateful that two people can share financial difficulties as a unit and solidly behind closed doors.  It takes the public pressure off of this glaring deficit in our societal norms.  There is no medium for dealing with these things.  Instead we completely remove finances from the public discourse, very similarly to the way we avoid talking about sex in public.  And the bottom line for me is that the subject of money is my weakest link.

I, feel great shame talking about debt.  I feel even worse feeling like a financial burden on my partner and would love to continue just avoiding the whole conversation.  And yet, there is simply no way to separate the money from the relationship for any length of time.  It’s impossible.

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And it freaking sucks!  Money should not be the cause of such a high divorce rate in our culture.  And there should not be a gender gap when it comes to income earning and I could honestly just go on and on about all the crappy reasons and excuses that I can to explain why I feel so lost and helpless at this very moment.  I’m struggling to understand how two people, who are supposed to be partners can survive if there is financial disparity.  Is it up to one to be burdened by the guilt of the other?  Are the two just supposed to accept the past mistakes and help each other move forward?  Or as in my case, is my extreme stubbornness to fix my own mistakes and problems going to be the detriment of the most amazing relationship that I have ever had?

These aren’t easy questions to ask, and even harder to answer.  But ultimately that’s where you end up when things in your culture, society or even household are taboo.  You end up in what feels like a no-win scenario.  Wishing you could fix things with the snap of a finger or press the magic reset button that will allow you to move forward without having to face the music head on.  I’m talking about money and relationships because it is hard and scary, especially for me.  I am clawing my way up from debt one day at a time.  That is my mission and mandate.  And most importantly, my promise to myself.  And someday, I hope that this small step forward will lead me to be able to more openly discuss my finances, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

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