Healing Wounds of the Gender Wars

06-Dec-2009 14:53 | Comments: 10 | Categories:

Sometimes when I see a need I can't help but imagine possible solutions. On average I probably have one new business idea every other month, but I'm not really driven to make money. One of my newest real-life heroes is Suelo. I'm comfortable financially and a bit envious of his freedom. Janis was right: Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose. However, I don't think this will be the blog I've mentioned about the Middle Way, even as I continue to dance with the illusion of sexual duality. Nor do I think this is the promised blog on epistemology, though I have to admit that all illusions have their own form of reality. It is possible that neither of those blogs will ever be written, as I expect to continue this dance around the subjects for a long time to come.

The real starting point for me here today is a condition called Love Shyness. I'm not going to further define it, but will quote wikipedia now in case that page is ever vandalized or lost:

Love shyness is a phrase created by psychologist Brian G. Gilmartin to describe a specific type of severe chronic shyness. According to his definition, published in Shyness & Love: Causes, Consequences, and Treatments (1987), love-shy people find it difficult if not impossible to be assertive in informal situations involving potential romantic or sexual partners. For example, a heterosexual love-shy male will have trouble initiating conversations with women because of strong feelings of anxiety.

I've met men who identify with this condition to varying degree. There don't seem to be any good options. They may seek out help in therapy where they may or may not have luck finding someone equipped to really help them. I expect there are a variety of problems related to this condition (ranging from Asperger Syndrome to PTSD and beyond). I know that in some cases people have turned to overeating in their loneliness. In the belief that they are unworthy of love, they've physically manifested a condition that virtually everyone else will find unlovable. They have self-defeating beliefs that are even more difficult to change once they've been manifested in the flesh.

Many people have damaged views of the opposite sex. They probably all need therapy even as social stigmas about mental illness create resistance. I believe that many if not most can be helped. I believe that people's views may be damaged, but that damage is usually reparable and their inner beings can be whole if they choose to believe in themselves and do the hard inner work that necessitates.

I can't help anyone who doesn't want to change. I may not even be able to help everyone who does want to change. But I believe that I do have something to offer. Because life is short, there's a chance I will not be able to achieve everything I dream of doing in my lifetime. I'm willing to put this idea in writing now, and even risk having it "stolen" because it is so important that I'd be almost relieved if someone else has the means to take it and put it into practice before I can. It is my major focus for 2010.

This is really a set of three complementary businesses that I'll describe below. If I do this they will be structured under a non-profit umbrella, with all proceeds going back into scholarships for people who cannot afford treatment. Some people have self-esteem issues that prevent not only relationships, but jobs. Lacking confidence to get a job presents a catch-22. How do you get therapy to address that problem if you can't afford it?


Branch I: Therapy for Relationship Problems

This is the core of the three businesses from which the other two arise as logical needs. It will be open to men and women alike even as I will begin with marketing toward the love shy. I do not expect to deal with anyone under the age of consent. I could some day develop a separate curriculum using the same basic principles just for adolescents and believe such a thing is needed, even as it is not my current focus.

I also do not intend for this branch of the program to do any couples' therapy. It will be designed for people who are single and looking for love. We will always seek to have good referral resources for everyone who comes needing help but who may not be eligible. I guess I think of the intake phase as a kind of triage even. In order to be successful it needs to appeal to a very broad range of people. The end goal is to change the way our entire society dates. Participation in this program will be a mark of honor, not shame.

While I would absolutely welcome all orientations, I don't expect to market directly to gays and lesbians. The coursework could be equally relevant, but only to a certain degree. I'm still envisioning heterosexuals as the primary target market. The reason here is that we are repairing damaged views of the opposite sex where it inhibits relationships. There are misogynistic gay men and misandrist lesbians, but they lack real motive to address those issues. So it's back to I can't help anyone who doesn't want to change. People who have psychological barriers to finding love still have a need to be loved and hence, a very strong motive to change. Therefore I imagine there would be more benefit for gay men suffering misandry or lesbians suffering misogyny.

Everyone who enters the program will be given individual counseling with a licensed therapist throughout their time in it. It is my hope that for many, insurance will cover most of the costs. Again by structuring as a non-profit, I will seek to make it as accessible as possible. I think this is one business that can only succeed in my wildest dreams by becoming THE preferred way for men and women to meet and form long term fulfilling relationships. We've all suffered damage to our views of each other as sexual beings. Our culture itself isn't healthy, and I think that is too often an excuse for inaction. Excuses don't buy me  anything. I'm only interested in hearing explanations in order to better understand past behavior so we can work together to create a new reality that breaks the old patterns of destruction and retribution.

Everyone who enters the program will also participate in group coursework. I may teach some of this myself to start, but envision hiring others as the business grows. There are a couple very important concepts that the program will be based around that I will address in the methods section.


Branch II: The Monitored Dating Service

The need for a dating service arises logically out of the goals of treatment. It could be devastating to attempt healing of sexual wounds and then send the person back out to meet with other people who are still wounded and who may play mind games because they don't know what they want. There has to be a safe place for interactions. Is the idea of bringing wounded men and women together asking for trouble? This is the scariest part of the program to me. If each is able to more honestly communicate and understand the other, I believe there is real potential for healing here. It all comes down to the willingness of the participants to act with integrity and self-awareness. While the program will not independently provide relationship counseling to people who haven't participated in the core curriculum, that will absolutely be available to everyone who is dating inside it. The only reason to exclude the already coupled* is because they don't have the same incentives to complete the coursework. The program could some day grow to include the needs of those people separately as well.


Branch III: The Weight Loss Program

In many cases the relationship disorders either stem from, or are the cause of, obesity (and really I expect it to normally be an inter-created condition). There will be other disorders as well, including drug and alcohol problems that this program will not deal with and which will be sufficient for rejecting a person from any participation until they've cleaned up. I realize that actual diagnosis of such is often difficult and relies upon self-reporting that can't be trusted. There may be a requirement for both drug and STD tests in Branch I & II. Testing positive for an STD wouldn't necessarily be a prohibition from entry, but would still require disclosure inside the community as a condition of entry.

The weight loss program incorporates a couple crucial concepts and will be valuable even for people who don't suffer obesity. There is a chance this will be called something else, perhaps Body Image Healing. After all, one's body image is a mental construction. The core problems that most people face in forming relationships are mental. We can treat multiple types of problems with a similar group therapy. I will still absolutely insist on the importance of the individual therapy in Branch I. There is no One Size Fits All even as some shared concepts will be absolutely vital.


The Basic Methods

1) Many people are suffering from some type of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). EMDR and gestalt therapy are two of several therapies I'd like to be able to offer in the individual therapy sessions.

2) Concepts such as Radical Honesty and Compassionate Communication will be introduced to everyone in mixed-sex classes. We will role-play a wide variety of scenarios that people encounter when dating and in relationships. The importance of understanding one's own needs in order to communicate and enforce boundaries is paramount. Dating is only one small part of the larger picture of establishing a relationship.

3) A new understanding of the sense of Self will be presented. We are the synthesis of many things, but primarily we can be viewed as the consciousness, unconsciousness and physical body. The latter two seem to blur or merge, and we will explore that merger. There are three vital techniques I want to teach:

a) Programming Your Internal Alarm Clock - This is a very simple exercise that will seem stupid without any context. When I was about 10 years old I wanted to get up every Sunday morning to watch my two favorite T.V. shows, Batman and Bewitched. I wasn't allowed to get up at 4:00am and watch T.V., so setting an alarm clock wouldn't work- my parent's bedroom was right next to mine. But I knew if I could wake up on time, I could sneak downstairs and use a pair of headphones to listen in silence by huddling in front of the set. So I would fall asleep Saturday night after noting the time with only one thought on my mind: 4:00. Over and over I thought of that hour and without fail, I woke up within 15 minutes of it unlike any other day of the week. Everyone in the program will be invited to try this exercise as a precursor to the others. Even if it does not work for everyone, the other concepts may still have validity.

b) Satisfying Your Hunger - Around the same age I found myself in class one day after skipping breakfast. It was about 10:00am and I was starving with two hours to go to lunch. My stomach was making noise and physically hurt. So I began to imagine that I was eating. I tried my best to imagine every detail - the taste, smell, texture and temperature. I even chewed and swallowed just a little bit. Then I had seconds, and thirds. I just continued to imagine I was eating until suddenly, I felt physically full. I didn't want to eat any longer. This exercise will also benefit everyone, so that they can experience changing their physical reality by changing their minds. We will have a group fast and we will face our fears and hungers together.

c) Changing Your Reality - Both of the above exercises are precursors to what I believe is the most important exercise. If our personality is the synthesis of conscious and unconscious, then everything we say while we are awake is heard and reflected back by our unconscious. The time when we fall asleep is a very important time. By giving the unconscious certain messages, it will begin to give those same messages back:

- I am loved

- I am confident

- I am whole

Anyone could choose to manifest something more specific, but I'd start with these simple ones that are repeated every night of every week of every month for the duration.

4) In combination with (b) above, the Miracle Berry tablets will be an excellent aid to altering perception and hence, consciousness, without actually taking a mind-altering drug. When we have a group fast and shared encounter with hunger, I do not anticipate ever denying anyone. I envision sitting with fruit and tablets in front of us, doing imaginary eating exercises just to see how long we can resist, with no shame at all to anyone who gives in. It will become more of a game than self-denial.

If possible, I'd like to offer 1-2 week long workshops in remote and beautiful locations. I think you need to really get people out of their routines and away from their habits to bring about lasting change.

Even as we address issues related to obesity, we will also directly confront our issues of body image. There are powerful biological imperatives in attraction that cannot be denied. However, understanding them is vital to knowing when they lead us astray. Many people do not couple in order to have children, even as their attractors are oriented toward that biological imperative. Will understanding change biology? I tend to think not. The most I can ask for is consciousness in the process.


Mike Lewinski

Denver, CO

December 7, 2009


* Already coupled is a pretty biased phrase with regard to people who practice polyamory. They are clearly the furthest from our obvious target demographic even as some probably suffer the same issues.

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Mike Lewinski: on 07-Dec-2009 09:57

I realize that I left something pretty fuzzy at the end:

Even as we address issues related to obesity, we will also directly confront our issues of body image. There are powerful biological imperatives in attraction that cannot be denied. However, understanding them is vital to knowing when they lead us astray. Many people do not couple in order to have children, even as their attractors are oriented toward that biological imperative. Will understanding change biology? I tend to think not. The most I can ask for is consciousness in the process.

It might seem like this last paragraph negates the entire "change your reality by reprogramming your unconsciousness" mode of operation. I'll give a specific example.

My last lover told me she liked the way I smell. This is a vital thing in her choice of partner. I agree as well - if a woman smells offensive, there is nothing I can do in my mind to change that perception (short of wholly blocking it with a parlor trick like the Miracle Fruit tablets, i.e. perfumes).

I know from experience that I can become intellectually stimulated by (and attracted to) almost anyone with a sexy enough brain when dating online and odor or appearance aren't issues. So now I see some major pros and cons to Internet dating that many people don't acknowledge very well. Though it has really been many years now, these are the lessons I recall:

1) Growing overly attached (romantically) to someone you've never met is risky. Either one of you may lose that attraction when you finally meet, for any number of reasons. Everyone acknowledges that either the physical attraction is there or it isn't. I've tried to have relationships with people I wasn't very attracted to physically, and that simply didn't work for me even as I felt love for the other as a friend. I feel that such "settling" does both people a disservice, but there are probably some couples who are quite content in such a life too and I wouldn't disparage it if it truly works for them. I also recognize how concepts of limerence play into the matter as well.

2) You can find someone "just like you" online. There is some truth to the "opposites attract" cliché, but probably not for all people equally. Some of the deeper and enduring relationships that I've had tended to be with people that I fought with the most too because of our differences. Stability and normalcy become boring, which even my cat assures me is a fate worse than death. There's a bit less of a chance for serendipitous encounters that are originally based on a mutual physical attraction.

So, back to body image. The Internet lets us put our best image forward, and that will tend to lead to some (often mutual) disappointment on finally meeting. Many of the people dating online haven't been able to find the right relationship elsewhere in part because they do not fit people's standards of beauty.

Those standards are unhealthy and need to be changed, but again, we have some limits to what natural selection has favored. For example, symmetrical faces indicate a desirable gene for reproduction. An asymmetric face becomes something of a turn-off at a subconscious level that some people cannot overcome even if they aren't planning to procreate.

I won't say that it can't be overcome, I will say that few people lack the motivation to change at that deep of a level. So we will do what work we can with the larger questions of body image as presented in media. We will discuss all manner of eating disorder so that everyone understands why those unrealistic body images are so damaging and how they can start to change their own perceptions of advertising. We need to start economically punishing companies that create unrealistic standards of beauty. Awareness is the first step.

Jen: on 10-Dec-2009 16:37

I have to admit that I take umbrage with some of your comments on obesity. You have one line in one of your posts that I've read today (and I am paraphrasing) that with regard to body fat, if you simply don't eat, it will burn off eventually.

That may be true-- but to dismiss metabolism as a major source of weight gain is a mistake. And it sounds like it is spoken by someone who doesn't have trouble with his weight ;).

Did you see this note I wrote about my own experiences? I am writing this today as a woman who spent 7 years overweight and then proceeded to get my body and sense of self back by changing a medication. That was it. It was that simple. However, the journey there was not simple, and it was actually destructive in a lot of ways.

Here is the link.

[Edited by Mike to embed the link]

Mike Lewinski: on 10-Dec-2009 17:14

The nature of obesity has been on my mind a lot. I do have some biases that I don't like and am working on them, but only so far because I don't want to normalize any unhealthy body images (whether obese or underweight). I know what I wrote was harsh and thought about adding some more qualifiers. I often see people in wheelchairs and think "how could they do that to themselves?" But I know that in many cases, they aren't in wheelchairs because they are obese. They are obese because of another disability that put them in a wheelchair and lacking exercise, had no real hope of avoiding it while still having a reasonably comfortable life (even if that obesity will just compound their overall health problems and shorten their life further).

My problem does come up when obesity itself is treated as a disability and the person gains status from it as a victim. If someone is too fat to walk anymore, I feel like we need to give them nutritional help, a personal trainer, a therapist - whatever they need to walk on their own again. Giving them a wheelchair is the wrong response. I do resent people who've let obesity put them on disability. Some of that resentment is misplaced and I try hard not to ever make assumptions about anyone in particular when I don't know their particular issues.

Almost every woman I've ever dated has had weight issues (at least in her own mind, but not mine). I've done what I could personally to reassure them that it wasn't a problem for me and provided copious compliments at appropriate times. Honestly, it wasn't ever a problem for me, but I probably wouldn't be happy dating someone who became extremely obese either (I'm not dating any more which is why I feel a bit more free to just speak my mind on such things?)

Women's bodies tend to have curves and my own idealized views of the feminine figure include what is euphemistically called Rubenesque along the lines that Rubens actually depicted (wikipedia notes the definition varies widely).

I certainly have no business presuming what body is right for anyone (except perhaps when poor lifestyle choices begin to drain public resources). Certainly whatever my idealized views are, they are just mine and I don't expect any particular woman to conform to them.

I have found it saddest when women who were truly nowhere near overweight obsessed constantly. Their intense need to look beautiful in order to feel they have worth can only be crushed over time if they cannot shift their own self-images. I know that I lack the ability to change it for them.

I suspect that Japan's weight loss mandates was accepted in part because they tend to have less genetic factors and less obesity in general. If it really affected more people it wouldn't have been passed as easily?

Jen: on 10-Dec-2009 19:12

Right-- I can understand all of these points. And I wasn't sure how you were defining obesity. I think there is a difference between curvy, overweight, and obese-- and certainly we can applaud people's attempts to take care of themselves.

I had to laugh about your comment about the drain on public resources, because a) you seem pretty liberal (anarchist?), I don't often hear that complaint from liberals and b) because I [still] smoke. [Can I take this comment about public resources to mean that you don't smoke anymore? ;) ] Just this morning, a friend of mine sent me an email with the following:

"I've begun reading "Filthy Lucre" again, a book I'd started some while back, and, at about chapter four realized I needed to start over, take notes, and really absorb the principles. Months went by, but I've finally started again.

"From the introduction comes this tidbit that I thought you'd appreciate. He's talking about how rampant economic fallacies are, and that every time you see a cost-benefit analysis done in a magazine or newspaper, it's almost always done wrong. Here's the quote:

'My favourite example of this is when people talk about the "costs" that smoking imposes upon society. Usually the intrepid antismoking crusader will add up such things as the value of last wages due to sickness and absenteeism, along with the cost to the public health care system of treating smoking-related illnesses like emphysema, lung cancer, heart disease and various vascular disorders. Yet they ignore one absolutely fundamental principle: everyone has to die of something.

'This has some immediate and obvious consequences. Anyone who doesn't die of one particular thing dies of something else. Thus all of those smokers who don't die of lung cancer, or who don't die of heart atttacks, are bound to die of another cause. Whatever this other cause is, it's likely to be a whole lot more expensive, since lung cancer is basically untreatable and heart attacks are one of the cheapest, fastest ways to die. A moment's reflection is enough to suggests that smokers probably save 'society' a lot of money. Proper cost-benefit analysis concluded that the average smoker generated a net benefit to society of 30 cents per pack, before even factoring in the taxes paid.'

There you go. Smokers are benefitting society... course, they're doing it by dying younger and faster, but! It's a benefit! The bottom line is that (second-hand smoke and modelling concerns aside), you're haming no one but yourself."

So, take that for what it's worth. I know smoking is bad for me. I do it anyway. That means I am a hypocrite. And even worse, an informed and educated one.

Back to weight, my initial statements above in this comment, and also our conversation the other day about personal responsibility: One of the fundamental problems I had when I was heavier was that because I *do* try to accept responsibility for my own behaviors. I *knew* that I wasn't doing anything to warrant being at that weight. And none of my attempts (running up to 8 miles at a time; 5 on a regular basis; eating non-processed foods) to control or rectify it did any good. That fucks with your head after awhile. Not to mention the fact that I felt sluggish, tired, and just bad in my own skin.

I will conclude this tl;dr with this highly personal and probing question: Why are you not dating anymore?

Mike Lewinski: on 10-Dec-2009 19:26

I really, really needed to read your note on weight loss. You've definitely given me a lot to think about.

I did quit smoking a few years ago. I guess I'm less critical of that behavior than I probably should be? I think one reason why I'm harder on obesity is that at a certain point, you no longer have to work (and contribute to your medical care) because your disability qualifies you for assistance. Does that happen to some sick smokers? I guess it's a relative thing. I expect the smokers die of cancer a lot quick by the time they get that far gone to be on disability. But maybe not. I do see a lot of people toting oxygen tanks around.

On not dating - I realized after my last relationship that I'm just not suited for it. I need far too much time to myself. I'm happier and more comfortable when I'm alone. It's selfishness I suppose, of the same order that couples who don't have children are occasionally seen as selfish (I don't see it that way, but some people do).

I've realized that I have a lot more close female friends than male friends, but they tend to be women I've dated in the past. I had a really interesting time last night hanging out with an ex and two of her friends. We went to see a special pre-release screening of Nine to benefit the Global Down Syndrome Foundation. As part of the ticket admission we all agreed not to review the movie, but I think I can safely say that it will be worth seeing (and I'm NOT a fan of musicals normally if that says anything).

It isn't to say I'll never date again. I might. I'm just too happy being single right now. I get all the socialization I really need. I fear I will only disappoint expectations of being emotionally present and involved as I'd need to be in a relationship. Back to my selfishness I guess.

Jen: on 10-Dec-2009 19:34

Thanks for the reply. I was wondering if you were exploring celibacy, and given what you've written about sexuality (True Blood, anyone?), that didn't really seem to fit.

As the mother of three sons, I absolutely do not view your decisions as selfish. I need a LOT of time to myself also, and I have my patience stretched completely thin sometimes in my effort to be present in my family (I tend to check out for periods, not hearing them when they talk to me, not really listening when they talk, and that is bad, but I think it's also part of how I preserve my own sanity). Studies show that people who *know* they don't want children are happier than people who have children (regardless of how much they did or did not want them beforehand). Not many people with children are comfortable with those studies, but why the hell not? Being a parent is very demanding. It is hard to be "selfish" and be a parent, so people who know they need a lot of alone time and space are smart not to do it. I have no regrets-- but I also have an ex-husband, and he is keeping the kids overnight tonight so I can get work done (YES, I am procrastinating-- this is much more interesting). So, in some respects, I get to have my kids and eat them too. Wait. Have my cake and eat kids too?
Eat my cake and have kids too. That last one.

BTW, I do recognize a distinction (if I am reading the undertones correctly) between not dating anymore and celibacy, LOL.

The movie sounds interesting-- I'll have to check it out. After I finish my deadlines. I am friends with some of my husband's exes, and I guess some people may view that as odd, but it kind of almost feels like family. I am not, however, friends with my ex-husband.

Mike Lewinski: on 10-Dec-2009 20:29

LOL at the cake and kids! I have a friend who feels the same about his daughter who is now off to college. He was divorced when she was very young, certainly less than 2. I asked him once how he was able to make that decision. He said they talked about it and decided she'd have a better chance at finding her own happiness in life by growing up in two happy homes instead of one unhappy home.

And thanks for bringing up that True Blood blog because there is a quote relevant to the topic of Healing Wounds of the Gender Wars that I meant to incorporate into this blog.

My broadest goals here are inspired by Rilke's vision in Letters to a Young Poet. It is sad, but I don't think I've yet quoted it anywhere on this site. Some day it may be on the entrance page, perhaps over one of the kiss-in photos:

Perhaps the sexes are more akin than people think, and the great renewal of the world will perhaps consist in one phenomenon: that man and woman, freed from all mistaken feelings and aversions, will seek each other not as opposites but as brother and sister, as neighbors, and will unite as human beings, in order to bear in common, simply, earnestly, and patiently, the heavy sex that has been laid upon them.

- Rainer Maria Rilke

There was a time when I saw some fulfillment of that vision in the pansexual BDSM community. I believe there is yet more promise there. But it is hard to sort it out from the egos and other bad reasons people get involved with it too. I haven't been to a club or event in many years now, and even if I wanted to start dating again, I am not sure that is where I'd turn.

You're right- not dating doesn't mean celibate. I'm largely abstinent however. Wikipedia defines the differences as follows:

Abstinence is the absence of intercourse (even for an individual who is married), but celibacy is the avoidance of all forms of sexual activity (including, but not limited to, the state of marriage itself).

Of course, even definitions of abstinence vary widely.

The articles on this site have been something of an exercise in Radical Honesty for me. I hope to take one of those week-long workshops soon. I feel like I'm at least 75% of the way toward where I ought to be. Meaning, I can probably write another blog or two with semi-scandalous personal details and really at this point have no reason to hold them back. Could all this come back and hurt me trying to get a job some day? I guess I don't want to have a job that requires lying about who I am.

Jen: on 10-Dec-2009 21:26

I have mostly stopped blogging, but I struggled with the issue of Radical Honesty for years. Some of the reasons I have stopped blogging are directly related to the fact that I was not comfortable discussing many aspects of my life in a public, internet venue (such as this, haha). For me, the risks are greater than future employment: The custody of my children could be challenged. Whether or not that challenge would be successful (highly doubtful), many people (especially in the small towns of the Midwest) are not able to grasp abstract concepts and nuances. There is risk even in admitting that you have entertained certain thoughts.

What are these week-long workshops? I think that I do need an outlet for Radical Honesty (though, honestly, there are things I wouldn't write about because people whom I care about could be hurt in very specific ways-- not including their feelings-- if I did). (If you are curious, we can discuss this via email, but it's pretty pedestrian. You have my email address on these comments). When I was going through my divorce, my ex-husband subpoenaed my journals. It was wildly violating. I don't think I have felt safe as a writer since-- I never stop looking over my shoulder, and I never take for granted that what I am writing won't fall into the hands of someone with nefarious purposes. It's a sad, paranoid place for a writer, and it frustrates me. I can feel it in my very core-- it is festering, and I need to find a place for which Radical Honesty is possible for me. I lie all the time. I even lied in my journals about being somewhat happy when I was, in fact, completely miserable. There was enough misery though to secure custody of my children, though.

None of what you have said seems to violate anyone's privacy or hurt anyone. I wrote a slam poem a couple of months ago about my mother's dementia, and it was so mean, so ANGRY, I couldn't bring myself to perform it in public. Even though she wouldn't be there-- it seemed disrespectful to her position in the Office of My Mother, even though SHE is essentially gone now. How does one get around this with Radical Honesty? I wrote the poem, but if I bury it under a rock, does it exist? Is it a form of journaling, then, if I keep it away?

Did you ever take non-fiction or any other classes with David Lazar at OU? I did after I graduated. He would scoff at the above-paragraph and tell me that I can't be a true writer if I have those kinds of inhibitions. Maybe not. Maybe I'd rather be a human being-- a genuine and caring one whose art isn't at the expense of those I hold dear. Perhaps it's possible to use fiction as a way to get at truths. I am not a fiction writer though. That's never held much sway for me.

This is sort of a long and rambling way of getting to a couple of your points. You have mentioned two things of interest: 1) pansexualism (dual sexuality) and 2) BDSM.

With regard to 1), I definitely fall in love with women, and I am also sexually attracted to women. I suppose I consider myself to be heterosexual because I am in a heterosexual marriage, but I have had one female lover. As much as I enjoyed the experience, there were certain things about having sex with men that I missed: the shape of the male ass, the cock, the stubble, and yes, the smell (you spoke about that somewhere on here too). The female mouth is too small, too soft; the ass too heart-shaped; the face too soft; and the smell-- well, my lover wore perfume, and I am not a fan, so that was difficult. So, I wouldn't say that I would never have sex with a woman again-- but that also would bring complications to my life.

My husband and I have talked about polyamorism extensively (speaking of pansexualism), and even pursued it in small ways (mostly online, but a bit in real life). (I fear going to clubs anywhere near here, but I admit I am curious). I am not opposed to the idea in theory-- but in practice, I have found that most people [I have encountered] who are open to polyamorism are, for lack of a better word, crazy. And so it's the actual people I have a problem with, rather than the concept.

Also, back to what you said in another post about how pornography can help a man in a monogamous relationship-- we have talked about that extensively as well. And the inclusion of another woman or couple or man in our bed. However, at times, this exploration was, cough, conducted without my knowledge, and suddenly it felt very much like betrayal.

2) With regard specifically to BDSM, I actually have a membership to a BDSM site, LOL. I developed it as a joke, actually, and found myself drawn into it in ways I did not expect (nice, Mormon upbringing and all). I am not disclosing which one here. I have enjoyed myself on there, but I tend to agree with your assessment that the reasons why some people are attracted to that lifestyle are due to misogyny or self-hatred. I generally hold that most of these people need lots and lots of therapy, and I don't go out of my way to be active there anymore. For some reason, though, I have not de-activated my account and have logged inm on and off, in the past month or two, so there must be something there I am not finished with yet. I discovered, to my intense surprise, that not only do I enjoy fantasy elements of BDSM and enjoying erotica about it, but that I am also about as far from submissive as I could be. So, I did learn things about myself and my own sexuality from it, and that was fascinating.

I will conclude this comment (and hope it has some sort of cohesion) (if this is not Radical Honesty, you or your readers must be wondering what the HELL I can't blog about-- but I tend to think that I'm pretty safe here-- no last name and all, and no mutual friends on FB that I know of) by saying that I hold two opposing ideas at the same time, and yes, it does lead to a certain amount of frustration and misery (at times) (remember Keats' negative capability here): I don't think monogamy is natural or really even possible. However, I persist in believing that I am in a monogamous relationship. So, technically, I find myself in a situation that by my own definition does not exist.

Isn't negative capability great?

Jen: on 10-Dec-2009 21:34

* that should read enjoy writing erotica, though I like reading it too, LOL.

Mike Lewinski: on 11-Dec-2009 11:42

Wow, I'd forgotten all about negative capability, thank you! - that is very useful to me right now. It completely describes my approach in some ways. A new rainy-day project (because I spend so much time outside these days) will be to pursue some of the results of the Google query for Heisenberg uncertainty and negative capability.

We're on the same page on so much. There are some people doing polyamory with integrity, but they are in the minority I think. A lot of them would be better off just going to the swinger community and not pretending its about something else.

I'm really horrified to hear about your journals being subpoenaed. I just cannot image.... I completely understand the ramifications of custody. There are people out there who figure that if a parent comes out later as gay, it is better for them to hide that and live a lie in the closet than expose their children to such "immorality". Tragic.... From my time in both the pagan and BDSM communities, I've come to appreciate the custody issues as it affects other people.

I've got about 10 other relevant thoughts, but this and our other FB conversations have dovetailed in so many places that I'm just going to stop here for now (especially as I just crashed the browser with this draft unpublished). But on the question of the Radical Honesty workshops, the site is here but they currently only have one on the schedule and it is a shorter 3-day. I have heard there will be more week-long ones scheduled for the spring, probably in Shenandoah.

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