The Enticing Moral Claim

There is a tribe called Jhurk where all sorts of lies are told. Easy ones – “no you don’t look fat in that,” malicious ones – “no I didn’t steal your sheep, a wolf ate it,” and even beneficial ones – “no, invading war chief, I have no one else for you to capture in my home.”

One day a man named Goolag, who recently caught his wife with the local voodoo master when she’d sworn she was only going out to pick berries, comes up with a rule.

“Lying is bad!” he proclaims. “I hate liars!”

Nobody likes being lied to. Everyone agrees with Goolag, and they start putting up anti-lying flags. Soon their religions pick up moral tales about how their deities refused to lie. Young Jhurkian men signal how moral and hip they are to Jhurkian women by saying “I don’t date liars.”

Demonstrating how much you are against Lying becomes a quick and easy way to get moral points with the group. Everyone cheers with Goolag when he screams FUCK LYING.

Because everyone generally agrees that “being a liar” is a terrible thing, accusations of lying become especially powerful. Because accusations of lying are so powerful, they become broader – and the people of Jhurk are either “Liars” or “Not-Liars.”

Once someone in Jhurk receives the ‘Liar’ label, nobody cares to investigate further. The lie might have been harmless, horrible, or even occasionally beneficial – but under all the excitement about decrying lying, it’s packaged into one single, binary switch – Liar or Not-Liar. This isn’t a deliberate decision on the part of the Jhurkians, but more a result from a learned sense of outrage.

One woman, Zokk (whose husband was recently shunned for lying about a surprise party) tries to defend Liars. But all of Jhurk knows that Liars Are Bad – and they bring up Goolag’s wife, that dirty whore, and Gneb, who lied about the money in the tribe treasury, and Ved the traitor, who lied about being allied with Jhurk when really he was just selling tribe secrets to the rival tribe across the river.

“Why would you defend Lying when Liars do all these things?” they say. “You are a Liar-apologist!” and thus both Zokk and her husband are shunned.

“Lying is bad” was turned into a moral law in exactly the same way moral laws in religion operate. In religion, a set of “correct behaviors” are agreed upon, and adherents are ‘good’ and the rebellious are ‘bad.’ This can feel very deep and true, like how religion decries homosexuality so hard that people start to genuinely feel disgust and horror reactions about it.

Identifying a general sin is a very efficient way of dealing with social problems, but also very mindless and inaccurate. Jhurk’s lying problem was certainly eradicated, but eradicated religiously – in a strong, oversimplified, and demonizing sense.

New moral laws are usually the most exciting to signal (No dating site profile is cool for saying “I only date people who are against slavery”). And because they’re so exciting, they’re also the most virulent and religious.

I was reading about this commune back in the 1970s where they operated by the new and exciting moral law of Tolerate Everyone (as in allow anybody to live on this commune). This was a revolutionary concept to them and they took it very seriously. There was a strong social pressure to Tolerate Everyone, and anyone who did did not Tolerate Everyone was shunned by the group.

And over time the excitement wore off and they realized this wasn’t sustainable. The commune became a magnet for the drug addicted, the severely mentally ill, people who wouldn’t work, and dangerous criminals. Maybe something like Tolerate Everyone Except Those Who Are A Detriment To Your Community would have been better.

Of course Tolerating Everyone is a good idea and they were right to identify it as desirable – but it’s not desirable not as a law. The world is complex and nuanced and every situation has to be taken individually. This takes much more gentle thought and mental effort, but it might have saved that commune, and Zokk’s husband.

I think the terms “racism” and “sexism” are being used almost exclusively as religious law today.

Ideas having to do with race and sex are vast and complicated. Some come out of fear of culture, others out of mindless fear, others out of statistics. Some are more extreme than others. Some are justified, others entirely invalid. All of them have personal causes.

And in using the easy, simplistic, blanket term of ‘racism’ or ‘sexism’ to address any issue that even smells a bit like race or gender hostility, we are guilty of exactly the same trap that the religious fall into – except they’ve usually had a couple centuries to chill the fuck out while we’re still excited about it.

We say “if you’re racist don’t message me” on our dating profiles because it’s an easy and safe and exciting thing to signal. We use “sexist” as an immediate weapon word against situations that are in the line of fire but they might not be that terrible, we don’t know, we don’t have all the facts yet.

I’m not saying that discrimination against people based on race or gender isn’t terrible. It is – sort of like how maliciously lying to your neighbors is also terrible.

But I distrust the transformation of bad things into a label that can be used as a wide, inaccurate scythe that mows down the worst offenders, the mild offenders, and anybody innocently standing at the edges of the problem, all in the same sweep. It stifles discourse, it reduces empathy, it turns neighbors into opponents, and it mirrors the thinking of the mindless, traditionally religious.

The religious aren’t religious because they’re stupid, they’re religious because it’s enticing. Beware the enticing moral claim!

Are there other genders?

Bob: Gender is real – man and woman. There are two genders. People claiming that there are multiple genders, being third-gender or bigender or whatever – are usually just trying to feel special.

Alice: Wait hold on – but gender is a cultural construction in the first place. We associate things like ‘wearing dresses’ with ‘woman,’ but that’s not absolute. Why can’t we say it’s manly to wear dresses? It’s all in our heads and the narrative society feeds us.

Bob: Well to clarify before I continue – we’re not talking about sex. People can have different genitals, sometimes both genitals at once. There are medical differences. Obviously claiming your physical sex as the ultimate say in your gender is a bit of a silly idea.

Alice: Well we agree there. I’m talking about the mental conception around the way we should behave, which is frequently but not always associated with our genitals.

Bob: Yes. Gender is a cluster. “Maleness” does communicate something – it’s associated with things like sports, being unemotional, aggression, sex drive, bravery. It’s also associated with physical things like beards, large muscles, and penises.

And these things are associated with each other. People who have penises tend to be aggressive. People who like sports tend to grow facial hair. Because we see these things appear together all the time, we give it a name – Male. And even if a male doesn’t watch sports, or if he doesn’t have muscles, he still usually has enough of the cluster so that he is way closer to the “male” pattern than the “female” one.

This is why our culture has an idea of “x is not manly.” What they mean is that x is not typically found in the “male” cluster. A man wearing a dress isn’t manly because “dress wearing” isn’t commonly found in people who are similar to him.

Alice: I feel like you’re making my point for me – that of social construct. We’ve identified this pattern, sure, but it’s only just because it’s common. There is a ton of different possible patterns that aren’t the male or female pattern! Everyone is different and varied. Why do I have to be “manly” or “unmanly”? Why is it that belching isn’t feminine, and why is it that when I do present as feminine, people assume that I’m feminine in other ways as well, like being terrified of mice or some shit? I fucking love mice. This is the entire point – that we break down our conceptions about previous pattern. By identifying as something other than male or female, I am declaring to the world that I am my own unique pattern, with its own unique name. I will not be defined in comparison to preexisting norms.

Bob: I partially agree with you. It’s true that the patterns of male and female aren’t absolute in any way, that it’s an idea that society has.

But the point I’m trying to make isn’t that the male-female patterns are fundamentally arbitrary and culture-bound, but rather that they carry meaning in a way that things like “third-gender” doesn’t, and so to equate them is a bit silly.

For example: we’ve had the word “cunt” in our vocabulary for a long time. It is a very loaded word. It’s banned on television, you can’t say it around your grandma, and if a young child says “cunt” a lot, we get worried.

Is it fundamentally arbitrary? Yes. Is it a social construct? Yes. But that doesn’t mean that you can come along and introduce a new word – “bogus” – and expect it to carry the same weight. You can’t cry “bogus is a bad word!” and expect people to have the same reaction to ‘bogus’ as they do to ‘cunt.’ And that is essentailly what you’re doing. Male and female are concepts that are extremely ingrained in our awareness, and you can’t make a new gender equivalent just by proclaiming it aloud.

Alice: But how else do you start? There are people out there who genuinely don’t adhere to either gender role. Male and female feel intuitive because they are predictable. We generally know what women are like and how to talk to them, what their bodies look like, that they get pregnant – and same for men. This is why we identify those clusters so strongly, because of the strong and well-known association.

But if we start using bogus like a bad word, maybe eventually it will become a bad word. If we want to make other genders a recognizeable pattern, we have to start actively treating them as such.

Bob: I’m not against that in principle, but I think that’s much harder than it sounds. The traditional gender pattern clusters have one huge advantage – that part of their pattern is their physical bodies. If you’re talking about pattern being valuable due to prediction, then you’re not going to be able to beat the powerful predictive ability of visual input.

It’s like – if every time you said the word “cunt,” grandma passed out. And every time you said the word “fuck,” Jesus shed a tear. The words are associated with something measurable and obvious.

And then if someone comes along and says “let’s make bogus a bad word,” you might agree – but if isn’t associated with either your grandma fainting or Jesus crying, then somewhere deep down, you’re not going to feel like it’s a bad word. You’re going to feel like it belongs to a different category entirely, despite people keep claiming it has bad-word properties.

Maybe if every time you said “bogus”, hell got a little hotter, then you would feel like “bogus” was associated with something, and thus a real word. And maybe if we had a physically distinct third gender with a unique role to play in the reproduction process, then “third gender” would carry more meaning.

But it just doesn’t. Patterns are powerful, and they exist because they correspond to something that we “discover,” not something that we invent.

But I am not against shirking your traditional gender role. I think anyone can be anything they want, behave however they want (as long as they don’t hurt anyone). There is no reason for a male-bodied man to be obligated to adhere to the male-cluster. I just think that the words are useful. If you’re a man who wears dresses, you’re less manly. And that’s completely okay.

Kinks and Kinkiness

I recently did a kink survey, where I had you guys rate how kinky (in the sense of taboo or socially scandalous) they thought various kinks were.

I picked 31 different kinks, fetishes, preferences, and types of play. I grouped together some kinks in the same family (monsters/tentacles, diaper/infantilism, etc.). A lot of people either misread or didn’t read my instructions at all, and so I unfortunately had to throw out around 15% of the results. Lesson learned – I’ll be clearer next time!

I ended up with a total of 443 usable responses, with 121 female and 322 male. (I eliminated the ‘other’ category because there were only 12 usable answers)

So without further ado, here is the Official Kink Rating:

  • 1.38: Sex positions (doggystyle, 69ing, etc.)
  • 2.37: Uniforms (costumes; police, maid, etc.)
  • 2.42:  Spanking
  • 2.68: Light Bondage (fuzzy handcuffs, silk blindfolds, etc.)
  • 2.7:  Anal sex
  • 4.08: Sex outside (at work, in public bathrooms, in nature)
  •  4.2:  Latex
  • 4.32: Voyeurism
  • 4.33: Dominance/submission
  • 4.46: Exhibitionism
  • 5.21: Masochism (arousal from receiving pain)
  • 5.29: Transformations (from smart to bimbo, growing muscles, limbs, inflation, etc.)
  • 5.8:  Sadism: (arousal from giving pain)
  • 5.74: Lactation (breast milk)
  • 5.81: Inanimate objects (attraction to shoes, panties, buildings)
  • 5.93: Asphyxiation (choking self or others)
  • 6.16: Futa (girls with dicks)
  • 6.32: Heavy bondage (full immobility, suspension, predicament bondage, etc.)
  • 6.59: Monsters (tentacles, aliens, deformities, etc.)
  • 6.62: Rapeplay
  • 6.82: Watersports (urination)
  • 7.16: Dirtiness (soiled things, decaying things, disgust)
  • 7.25: Piercing/cutting (the act of piercing)
  • 7.8:  Incest
  • 8.01: Diaper/infantile (or any other form of child roleplay)
  • 8.34: Insects (including other creepy crawlies, seafood, etc.)
  • 8.61: Vore (being consumed or consuming another person/creature)
  • 8.78: Bestiality
  • 9.05: Pedophilia (I am aware many do not consider this a kink please stop messaging me)
  • 9.07: Scat (poop)
  • 9.51: Necrophilia (sexual attraction to dead bodies)

Men rated kinkiness on average at a 5.86, while women rated on average of 6.0

There were some differences in gender for individual kinks. Here are the top 7 discrepancies.

Voyeurism (.8)

Men: 4.1 Women: 4.9

Lactation (.6)

Men: 5.6 Women: 6.2

Dirtiness (.6)

Men: 7 Women: 7.6

Futa (.6)

Men: 6.4 Women: 5.8

Inanimate Objects (.5)

Men: 5.7 Women: 6.2

Diaper/infantile (.5)

Men: 7.9 Women: 8.4

Light bondage (.4)

Men: 2.8 Women: 2.4

Followups, all at .3, are incest, bestiality, monsters, creepy crawlies, and sadism, all which women think are more kinky.

The two that men consider more kinky is futa and light bondage, while they think all the others are less kinky than women do. I’m not really sure how to interpret this. My first thought was that people were rating according to perceived backlash, so for example men think futa is kinkier because society might mock them for being gay, but that doesn’t explain things like voyeurism, which has a worse stigma against peeping men, but is rated less kinky by men.

I also asked people to count how many of the listed kinks did turn them on (a good test being – have they or would they have searched for porn of it – or does it make your penis hard/vagina wet?).

Men: 10
Women: 8.5

so men on average liked about 1.5 more items on the list than women did. This might because I subconsciously listed more male-friendly kinks? I’m not sure. I initially thought it was too woman-friendly, because I am a woman and a lot of kinks I thought of were kinks that I had. But who knows. So I added up the score of all the kinks I have and got a total rounded sum of 68.

Is that a lot? I don’t know. Add up your total and reblog this post with your kink score!

(if you would like to be notified for future surveys and results, submit your email to the mailing list)

Power Imbalances and Sex

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I saw a gif of a woman talking about how women (supposedly) make less than men in the film industry, ending with ‘the only industry where women make more than men is porn!’ Her point was about the objectification and sexualization of women, and that women are only valued as sex objects.

And this is true – women are definitely sexualized and objectified. They are featured half dressed to sell alcohol or to spice up music videos. Porn is a huge industry. Discussions on cat calling, sexist remarks during the Olympics, skimpy impractical women’s clothes, etc. are dominating the internet right now.

Why?

Because people want to have sex with women. A lot.

And let’s not blame them. Women are certainly very attractive. I also want to have sex with women a lot. And we are designed, not just culturally, to have a sexual response to the sight of a woman indicating sexual availability. This is how we’ve continued the human race for thousands of years, and we shouldn’t shame anybody for it.

I think this sense of unease among women from this “sexual gaze” comes from something a bit deeper. Men want sex from women, really, really badly. Women have the power (particularly in today’s society) to give it to them, or withhold. When women have this Thing that men want, and men have to submit/earn/beg/work to get it, then this creates a fundamental inequality in interactions. The problem is a power imbalance.

A woman thinks – is this man interacting with me for me, or is he after the Thing I have that he wants?

A woman has to make sure she’s not accidentally using the Thing men want in order to manipulate men.

A woman has to be wary of men upset about her having the Thing he wants, and lashing out or taking it by force.

A woman has to deal with men focusing on the Thing she has rather than all of her other accomplishments.

———————

Imagine you have someone who is very rich, with a bunch of poor friends. If everybody is civilized and sensible, the rich person can hang out with the poor friends, and the poor will be careful to pay for their own meals and not ask for anything, because they don’t want the rich person to feel like the friendship is about money. But if everybody is a bit less civilized, then rich person would probably have to learn to always be on guard for friendly people who just want money. Maybe they learn to start suspecting all nice interactions. Maybe all they want to do is dress like they’re not rich and hope nobody notices that they have money.

And of course there are benefits to this. If you have a Thing everyone wants, you can use this to your advantage. You can make a lot of money in an industry where you sell the Thing. People will be nice to you if they see you have the Thing. People will give you gifts in hope that maybe you will share your Thing. You probably won’t have to do nearly as much as people who don’t have the Thing, and the standards for you will be set lower.

I think this leads to a sort of internal dissonance, because on one hand, there are benefits to having the Thing, and it’s nice to have a good standing in society, for people to treat you well, for images of your Thing displayed on billboards as objects of worship. But on the other hand, having the Thing means that everybody is constantly pawing at you for it, and that your life centers around protecting the Thing and trying to navigate dispersing the Thing, and that isn’t very fun at all.

————————————–

I think this also explains the differing views towards women’s sexuality. Some men look at women’s power and feel resentment. They are upset that women have this automatic, inherent Thing that they want, much like someone might feel resentment towards a rich friend who got all their money through an inheritance. This is where you get things like The Red Pill, where the men focus on reducing the women’s power and heightening their own. “Here is how to get the Thing. It’s easy to get the Thing if you just follow these steps. Men who want the Thing and can’t get it are beta pussies.”

And some women feel very resentment about this whole setup, too. They feel upset at the world constantly trying to pry the Thing out of their hands. They feel as though their worth is reduced to the Thing and the Thing only, because that’s what everyone seems to pay attention to. A catcall isn’t just a catcall, it’s a symbol for the entire social structure around the power exchange of sex. It is no longer a compliment – an acknowledgement of the desirability of their Thing – but rather an insult, a claim that they are only desirable for their Thing.

And of course, some people love both sides of this. Some women revel in the power game, in withholding and dispensing their Thing, and some men love the hard journey (and reward) of getting to the Thing.

——————– ————————————–

 

My first thought about what differentiates “men who hate the game” and “men who love the game” was whether or not they are winning. Maybe men who don’t get laid are ones that hate the game? But this didn’t make sense – a lot of men who get laid frequently still hate the game and hate women. You probably know some of these people.

So my second thought was a loss of control thing. To be a man in the sex game is a very weak and vulnerable position, because you are at the mercy of unknown feminine forces you frequently don’t understand. You are the one asking people out, you are the one trying to be nice and getting nowhere, you are the one sending all the messages on dating sites, waiting for replies that never come. It’s not a huge leap to imagine that some people feel like they’re humiliated, being kept at arm’s length, at the mercy of another. They probably really hate the game.

And what differentiates “women who hate the game” from “women who love the game”? I think this is a bit more complicated. If I had to reduce it, I would guess a deep caring about the way strangers and society perceives them. Women who hate the game hate that society perceives them as sex objects. Why do they care that they are reduced to sex in the eyes of society?
Some people might think this question is silly – obviously you don’t want to be seen as sex in the eyes of society! – but a lot of women don’t mind, or even enjoy it. The women I know who love the game don’t seem to care about what society thinks. Catcalls on the street are fine, because they are 100% okay with being a one dimensional sex object to strangers. (although they might still dislike being one dimensional sex objects to friends or people close to them.)

Sometimes I feel like women who are trying to end the game don’t realize that the game exists because women have the Thing, and people want the Thing and aren’t getting it. The only real way to end the game would be to equally dispense the Thing so that there is no more imbalance. This could be done in probably two ways – either we all start giving away the Thing until it’s no longer a rare commodity, or we invent amazing sex robots with good mobile joint movements and realistic audio sounds. I think we’re closer to the latter.

In conclusion, I don’t really feel that any of these views are right or wrong, because they all seem understandable. Everyone can relate to a fear of loss of control, everyone can relate to a desire to be viewed more than one-dimensionally in the eyes of society.

I feel like I fluctuate between all these views. Sometimes I am enraged for men at the helplessness, sometimes I am infuriated for women at the objectification. And sometimes I just gyrate on camera to hundreds of masturbating men, cause fuckit.

Going Braless in Saudi Arabia

A few weeks ago I spent seven hours in a Saudi Arabia airport.

Minus the international layover lounge, every single woman in the rest of the airport was wearing abayas (dress cloak thing), and nearly all of them were wearing niqabs (face covering veil).

They had a separate security line for women, where I had to pass into a side room where female officers patted me down.

I was wearing skintight leggings and a loose shirt with no bra and feeling very uncomfortable. I put a scarf loosely around my head to try to make up for it, but it didn’t help very much.

While I was waiting for my flight, I struck up a conversation with a Saudi businessman. He told me about how the West had a lot of misconceptions about Islam. Islam is really a religion of peace and fairness, he said. All the Muslims in Saudi Arabia thought that radical Islam was a bad thing. Saudi Arabia was really a wonderful country and that I should visit.

“Maybe I will come back!” I said, halfway to be nice and halfway because I was curious.

“Of course you need to bring a male guardian,” he said. “You can’t go anywhere alone. Women cannot drive here, it’s illegal.”

He didn’t say it apologetically, and I was a little surprised. I guess I’d expected him to be at least a little apologetic about it..

I wasn’t really sure how to respond. “the West doesn’t really support that,” I said.

“The West sees it as oppression!” he said, getting excited. “That a woman is a man’s slave and she is under his thumb. This is not true! In Islam, the man is to love the woman and esteem her higher than anything. Really, the woman is the fortunate one. She gets everything provided for her and the safety of a man, commanded by Allah, to take care of her. The man has to go out and make the money and support the household. It is hard for the man. The woman lives like a queen because the man must fight and be a hero for her. ”

Do women really want a hero? I was doubtful. But I didn’t really want to loudly debate women’s rights as the only woman in tight leggings surrounded by niqabs, so I just nodded.

Later, thinking about it, it made more sense than I liked.

Of course I support women’s rights. I really like driving and the only thing that in this world that could drive me to commit murder would probably be having a male guardian who has to give me permission for things.

But it seemed to me that this Saudi culture treated the idea of responsibility more as a burden. If you were expected to earn money, that was hard. That was not inherently desirable. Men had to be strong because of the weight on their backs. Being a hero was glory at a very high cost, and they emphasized the cost.

The idea of responsibility as a burden is something that exists in our society too. We view a state of excess wealth and a life of leisure as desirable. We want to have jobs where we wake up at noon and stroll pantsless into our art studio to paint whatever genitals we feel like that day. We emphasize things like welfare, where you get monetary assistance to help you if you fail at life. We talk romantically about being a carefree child again. Being a responsible adult who has to take care of yourself is hard, and a lot of us don’t really want to do it.

Obviously having the ability to choose is important, and that is where Saudi Arabia is lacking. If a man would prefer to stay at home and have his wife earn all the money, he would be laughed out of the country and/or stoned to death or something. If a woman wants to work, her ability to do so is hugely restricted. Saudi Arabia picks the two categories and just fuckin hammers the two genders in and eyeballs it and goes ‘yeah that looks about right’.

But that businessman beamed so much when he talked about women being queens that a part of me ended up sympathizing. Yeah, responsibility does suck. Yeah, having someone else there who is going to pay for food on your table forever would be kinda nice. I can see why they think women have it good.

But then I remembered that Saudi Arabia segregates its genders. There are separate male and female entrances to nearly all homes and businesses. A woman requires consent from her guardian in order to hold a job – and she is only allowed to work in a job where she serves exclusively other women. Women gained the right to vote last year. Men receive a text message if a woman under his custody leaves the country. Polygamy is legal and marriages are frequently arranged. And all of this is largely supported by both men and women. My sympathy shrunk a little bit after that.

But the question remained – do Saudi women really want a hero?

The next day (after I was safely out of Saudi Arabia and in Africa), this song came on the radio:

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong
And he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the morning light
He’s gotta be sure
And it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life

Somewhere after midnight
In my wildest fantasy
Somewhere just beyond my reach
There’s someone reaching back for me
Racing on the thunder and rising with the heat
It’s gonna take a superman to sweep me off my feet

And I couldn’t help but feel like maybe things weren’t so different, deep down, after all.