Archive for August, 2012

So, this list comes from the book Why Men Love Bitches, and it horrifies me. Ok, perhaps “horrify” is a little over-dramatic, but it gets the point across. I have some serious problems with this stuff and I’ll try, briefly, to address each one of them from the perspective of a guy who genuinely loves women in general and loves his one woman most. This comes as a result of a post by LoveAshley.net. She’s worth reading because she’s honest. Guys, do yourself a favor and read some female bloggers. You will learn a lot about the psyche of women.

1. Anything a person chases in life runs away.

There are things worth chasing.

2. The women who have the men climbing the walls for them aren’t always exceptional. Often, they are the ones who don’t appear to care too much.

I will say that for some men, this is true. But it smacks of playing games. If you like a man, tell him. Be plain. Be up front and truthful, always. Relationships built on shenanigans crumble.

3. A woman is perceived as offering a mental challenge to the degree that a man doesn’t feel he has a 100 percent hold on her.

A woman should be independent, but the fallacy of this is in the “hold” statement. I feel like I have a 100 percent hold on my wife; that doesn’t mean that I control her, but that I am confident of her love for me and me alone. I have no fear of adultery. In layman’s terms, we call it “trust.”

4. Sometimes a man deliberately won’t call, just to see how you’ll respond.

Aaaaaaaaaaaand…those men are idiots. Don’t play those games.

5. If you start out dependent, it turns him off. But if it is something he can’t have, it becomes more of a challenge for him to get it.

Again with the games. Dependent is different than “interested.” I’ve seen women play the “hard to get” card enough times that they missed out on a guy who was into them. He read her “challenge” as disinterest and moved on to someone who made him feel valued.

6. It is your attitude about yourself that a man will adopt.

This has some merit, though I am not sure “adopt” is the right syntax here. If you are confident and strong, you will be perceived as such.  But this is more about your own feelings of self-worth. No one respects someone who doesn’t respect themselves.

7.  Act like a prize and you’ll turn him into a believer.

Or, he’ll move on to the next carnival booth. Could go either way.

8. The biggest variable between a bitch and a woman who is too nice is fear. The bitch shows that she’s not afraid to be without him.

I guess this relates to being “too clingy.” This you just have to work out for yourself as to the level of affection you show at what stage in the relationship. But it’s exactly that – relational – and cannot be governed by rules.

9. If the choice is between her dignity and having a relationship, the bitch will prioritize her dignity above all else.

As should anyone. But rarely is this about generalizations. If a man treats you disrespectfully, run. Period.

10. When a woman doesn’t give in easily and doesn’t appear docile or submissive, it becomes more stimulating to obtain her.

The same could be said of hunting a wild boar. Are you a woman or a game animal?

11.  Being right on the verge of getting something generates a desire that has to be satisfied.

The psychology behind this is that the initial attraction and your personality are not enough. That someone has to be manipulated into a relationship. That’s not the case. I’m not a bass chasing after a sparkly lure. If I found you attractive, you need to be you. Because after the manipulation is gone, I’m left with you. The part of you that wears sweatpants and doesn’t always wear makeup and makes funny noises when she laughs. If I can’t be happy with that, our relationship will never last.

12. A man knows which woman will give in to last-minute requests.

Booty call? Have respect for yourself. Otherwise, not sure where this is going.

13. Whether you have terms and conditions indicates whether you have options. Almost immediately, you present yourself as a doormat or a dreamgirl.

Or, you could just be an attorney. Seriously? Who wants to date someone who says, “I’d like to date you, but here’s my terms and conditions under which I will make this happen.” No one. You can make these apparent as he gets to know you.

14. If you smother him, he’ll go into defense mode and look for an escape route to protect his freedom.

Perhaps. Unless he’s into you. Romance is crazy that way.

15. Whenever a woman requires too many things from a man, he’ll resent it. Let him give what he wants to give freely; then observe who he is.

Agreed.

16. A bitch gives a man plenty of space so he doesn’t fear being trapped in a cage. Then..he sets out to trap her in his.

W.T.F. Perhaps the art of romance involves working to impress a woman, to show her that she is valuable to him. Beyond that, again, are you a game animal?

17. If you tell him you are not interested in jumping into a relationship with both feet, he will set out to try to change your mind.

Bullshit. If he wants a relationship, he wants a relationship. He’s not being coy. AND, if you force him into a relationship through manipulation, he will end up feeling trapped or not value you. Either way, he’ll likely bail or betray you. And he’ll be justified because you decided to play immature games with his affections.

18. Always give the appearance that he has plenty of space. It gets him to drop his guard.

Unless you are in an elevator. Or revolving door. Or bed.

19. More than anything else, he watches to see if you’ll be too emotionally dependent on him.

I am not sure men are “watching” for anything. We date out of a primal urge to mate and we are looking for the woman who makes us laugh, who makes us feel sexy and who makes us feel like we are a complete man. We look for the women who, by mere association, make us better people.

20. He must feel that you choose to be with him, not that you need to be with him. Only then will he perceive you as an equal partner.

Not bad advice. The relationship must be equal as often as possible. But there are trade offs. I am taller than my wife, so she asks me to reach things on shelves above her. That doesn’t make her less equal. It means my strengths combine with her weaknesses and vice versa so that we are truly partners.

21. If a man has to wait before he sleeps with a woman, he’ll not only perceive her as more beautiful, he’ll also take him time to appreciate who she is.

As a general rule, yes. It’s not only slightly more moral, but its safer.

22. Sex and the “spark” are not one and the same.

True.

23. Before sex, a man isn’t thinking clearly and a woman is thinking clearly. After sex, it reverses. The man is thinking clearly and the woman isn’t.

Possibly, but not sure what the implication is. If you are at the sex point and you have spent time getting to know each other, the above doesn’t matter.

24. Every man wants to have sex first; whether he wants a girlfriend is something he thinks about later. By not giving him what he wants up front, you become his girlfriend without him realizing it.

Unless all he wants is sex, and then you are just a harder conquest. A real man wants a relationship, not an encounter. Learn to distinguish the two.

25. A man intuitively senses whether sexuality comes from a place of security or from a place of neediness. He knows when a woman is having sex to appease him.

Sadly, this is true. And in most cases, appeasement sex is far, far worse because it becomes the gauge by which a man will judge the likelihood of all future sexual performance.

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I spend a fair amount of time in my car and online, though thankfully for other drivers, not at the same time. Recently, I’ve been listening to the tales of woe that come from dating in our present time and, more specifically, guys giving advice to women on topics ranging from dress, behavior, sex and more. I find that I am continually at odds pretty much with all of these men and that baffles me. Am I the odd man out?  For your reference, readers, I point you to this Yahoo! article, The Bert Show on Q100 (primarily Atlanta, but nationally syndicated), and I am sure there are others. So here I present my answers from a distinctly different male point of view.

Q:  When should I tell a guy that I am a single mom?

A: Right now. In fact, if you can have it printed on a T-shirt to wear on dates, that’d be great. No one – not even women who date single fathers – want to be surprised by this information ever. Some men are not built to be dads, and some men are not yet ready to be dads. You don’t want either of those guys in your life. Not because they are not handsome, cool, or making you feel great, but a man needs to be accepting of the “whole woman.” The fact that you are a mother is a HUGE part of who you are. Does this lessen the dating pool? Sure. But first and foremost, you must place you and your child out there. Even though your ex may be a great father, the role that this man might play in your life is significant and you don’t want someone who can’t handle that role, who can’t navigate the relationship with your ex, and who can’t find the way to put you first in his life to be in yours.

Q:  My breasts are natural, but I can afford and am willing to go get breast enhancements. My husband tells me that I don’t need to, but I see him looking at other women’s breasts all the time. Why?

A:  Little secret? They’re boobs. Guys like boobs, all shapes, all sizes. There’s a great line from the recent movie “Friends with Benefits” starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. Kunis’ character looks down at her chest and says, “Really? I think they’re kind of small.” Timberlake replies, “Thy’re still boobs.” Truer words have never been spoken. Men are visually aroused far more than women. For those who are attracted to breasts (we all seem to have quirks as to what fires our attraction cylinders.), large boobs are like colorful billboards. Just because you see the ad doesn’t mean you are going to go buy the product. I know that many times for me, it’s been purely reactive. I am aroused by the female form. This has nothing to do with the attraction or level of love I have for my wife. It’s physiochemical, not a matter of wanting something different than what you have. In the same way that my wife can look at Bono and say, “I find him terribly attractive,” and not go on a four-country stalkfest of the guy because she’s married to me, I can appreciate that another woman is attractive without actually desiring that woman.

Q:  Can men in committed relationships truly believe that sex is meaningless?

A:  Yes and no. Can we have meaningless sex? From a moral standpoint, no. From an emotional standpoint, probably. Though I can’t, not really. And I would argue that many, many, men are more affected by sex than they admit. I have to be honest that I have never been the “hit it and quit it” type of guy who goes bar prowling for chicks on a regular basis. I’ve tried to act naturally on the attractions of people who I knew something about before diving straight in to a sexual relationship. Perhaps I am a product of the 80’s when we were learning that random sex could kill you; maybe it’s just that I have always been a Don Juan-style romantic. I do know guys who claim that they repeatedly have sex with women just for the hook-up itself, but I would note that most of these men are heading into their mid-late thirties and early forties and have yet to truly have meaningful relationships. There’s something to be said for the first time you have sex with a person – it’s all excitement and adrenaline. But I will tell you that the best sex I’ve had in life has come from being in a committed relationship where the rhythmic patterns of emotion merged and made it a truly transcendent event. That just doesn’t happen in one-night stands. So before you take advice from the “cad-about-town,” consider asking a few guys who have been married for 15 years or more and are still devoted to their partner.

Q:  How long should I wait to call a guy after a first date?

A:  The “rules” on this sort of thing vary from magazine to magazine and all of them are terribly, terribly stupid. Call him whenever you want. Text him the next day. If you like the guy, let him know. I’m not saying become crazy-stalker woman, but let him know how you feel. If he brought you flowers, thank him for the flowers when you look at them the next day. He’ll appreciate knowing that his gift made you happy. It’s as simple as that. No mind games, no odd “laws of dating’ treatise. And you should expect the same from him. If a guy is playing those sorts of games, run, because he’s not treating you as an equal. He’ll treat you like a doormat.

Q:   This was one of the actual quotes from the Yahoo! article: “If she has to be at work at 6am and uses the hair dryer, it wakes me up. Then, just when I get back to sleep. She is wearing her heels in the bathroom and the kitchen. Click. Click. Can’t you wear slippers?” -Pablo”

A:  This really sums up most of the issues guys had in the Yahoo! article. If this is your guy, or if he sounds like ANY of the guys in that article, flee. Get a new ID, color your hair and find a new part of town because that guy, he’s everything that’s currently wrong in men-women relationships. First, Pablo – if she’s getting her butt up to go to work at 6AM, it’s because she either HAS to work or she has a career. Unless you just came off the late shift, get the hell outta bed and make that chick some breakfast instead of bitching about the fact that she has to put herself together like a knight donning armor because we – men – have pretty much made it so that she has to do all these things just to be accepted. Make no mistake – she’s not tuning up her brain with that hair dryer, she’s getting her hair ready so that she will be seen as feminine. She’s also probably putting the same investment in herself when she goes out with you, idiot. So deal with it. Second, really? This is what peeves you about your woman? What I wouldn’t give for my life to be so uncomplicated, you worthless, douchey excuse for a human.

Q:  My boyfriend wants to go “Dutch” on everything, but I think he should be paying when he asks me out. What do you think?

A:  For a couple of dates, especially if you were friends first, this is acceptable. But I’m old-fashioned when it comes to this. If you take a woman out, you pay. If it’s dinner and a show, you pay for both. Now, I am highly disturbed that many women are looking for “the successful man” because many times it’s code for “I want a guy to give me stuff” and that’s just not right. Perhaps its my Southern upbringing, perhaps I just believe my father to be the greatest gentleman I’ve ever know, but if you are a prime specimen of manhood, you buy. It’s like opening doors – it’s not something that’s done to be condescending and it’s not done because women are “the weaker sex.” It’s done to show you care, to show respect and mostly, to show that you value that person. Further, it’s been my experience that if you want to impress a woman, it’s not just that you pay for dinner, it’s that you are going the extra mile to make her feel special. Like anything in life, the more you put into her, the more you will get from her. Okay, that sounds sketchy. But invest, gents. Invest in her.

Q:  Do gentlemen really prefer blondes?

A:  Yes. Also, brunettes and redheads. And women with black hair, pink hair, blue hair, no hair and hair half-shaved. Pretty much any color hair. Pretty much women.

Q:  My boyfriend and I have been dating for seven years. When we talk about marriage, he says he’s just not ready. When will he be ready?

A:  Never. There are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, he just doesn’t want to marry you. And the exceptions are so extreme, it’s a million to one that you are not it. He’s afraid that constitutes a binding commitment and it does. If he moves to that position, he can’t just leave you when he decides he’s unhappy. Unfortunately, all of that – it’s him, not you. And when he leaves you, that’s what he’ll tell you and he’s not lying. If you have been with someone long enough to outlive a bankruptcy or long enough to pay off a mortgage, you know whether or not that person is “the one.” In fact, you most likely knew years ago but have become co-dependent and unable to move to something better. And by better, I don’t mean that you, ladies, aren’t worthwhile; it means people are only happy with who they are happy with. If your mate isn’t willing to formally become your mate, there’s an unspoken issue between you. Best confront it now.

Q:  My husband has cheated on me twice. We separate for a bit, but I keep taking him back. I don’t want the kids to be without a father. What should I do?

A:  Divorce. Now. I wouldn’t tolerate a single instance of infidelity, but I can see forgiving someone for a single mistake. But he did it again, so he clearly didn’t learn his lesson. It’s much, much tougher to divorce when there are children and it’s a good idea to consider them before taking any action which might upset their view of familial relations. But look at what you are doing – you are basically demonstrating to them that it’s OK for their dad to treat you like crap. To lie to you, to betray you in the most personal way possible. That guy, though he may have fathered great kids, is a loser and half a man. You need to leave him now. Especially if you have daughters, because they will see their father’s behavior as normal and it’s not. It’s reprehensible. In my days as a private investigator, I had a case of a woman who hired my firm to investigate her husband to see if he was cheating on her. He was. We know because before I got the case, other investigators in our firm had caught him twice. I caught him twice more. Every time he would promise to go to church, counseling, be a better man, but he wasn’t. I’m not sure he could stop. What I do know is that she was not important to him. She represented stability in his life, not the equality of a loving partner.

Q:  My husband and I have completely separate accounts. We have divided up the things we each pay for, so I pay for my car and the mortgage. I’m not sure, really, how much money he makes. I think we should have joint accounts, but he says this is the best way.

A:  Some financial analysts will tell you this is the most practical way to handle finances. And I will show you many financial analysts who commit suicide or die alone. Look, you are married; you have joined your lives together. If you cannot combine your finances and trust one another to make financial decisions, the big challenges in life that deal with feelings, emotions and that are life-changing, will suffer. It’s about basic communication. I’ve never done a scientific study, but I have heard this tale from a LOT of divorced women. When it comes to being partners, you become partners. Disjoining part of your life from your partner this way, to me, signals a false sense of commitment. It means that one of you doesn’t trust the other to have spirited financial discussion like adults. It also smacks of “This will be easier to sort out when I leave.” Stephen Covey was fond of promoting his “Begin with the end in mind” philosophy on projects and goals. Yeah, it doesn’t apply to marriages. Anyone who starts out married being worried about how the marriage will end isn’t ready to be married and moreso, doesn’t want to be married.

Q:  I’m a Tennessee Vol gal and my boyfriend is a Florida graduate. We often argue over which is the better SEC team. Is this a problem?

A:  No, as there is a certain amount of smack talk that comes with being an SEC fan. I find that’s actually healthy in a marriage.  Naturally, you are both wrong because LSU is better than either, and at least your prospective mate isn’t an Auburn fan. That could lead to real problems.

Q:  My man would rather look at porn and be “by himself” than come to me and have sex with the real thing. Why is that?

A:  While there is no problem with masturbation, especially within the bounds of marriage, the scenario you present is a problem. It indicates a problem he has with you or with himself that he’s not discussing with you. If this is a one-off kinda happening, I wouldn’t stress over it. If this is a regular occurrence, I would term it as sexual dysfunction and he needs to be honest with you about the cause, even if it’s something you don’t want to hear. Maybe you’ve gained a few pounds and he is no longer attracted to you as much as he was when you first got together. If that’s the case, that’s pretty shallow, but if he’s honest and that’s how he feels, it is probably an issue he can’t control and the two of you seriously need to consider parting ways. I can honestly say that in the years wherein I watched porn, I never turned down sex with the woman with whom I shared a bed.

Q:  Can men and women have friends of the opposite sex when in a committed relationship?

A:  Despite what TV will tell you, my answer is no. I’m sure a whole lotta people will tell me otherwise. It’s almost impossible for men in a relationship to be friends with single women. There’s a high degree of sexual tension there and a natural tendency to confide in that woman as opposed to the woman you are dating or married to. By doing so, you are creating a false intimacy with the woman you are with and very real intimacy with the woman you should not be with. THIS IS HOW MOST AFFAIRS HAPPEN. The woman at work. The woman at the club. My friend from college. The woman at the gym. It’s great to be friends with people, but you can easily go too far.

Now that I have hit this solo, perhaps the next time we do this, I’ll ask a couple of other gents to weigh in. I would appreciate it if all hate mail was addressed to British Airways, Greenwich.

When I was young, it was a big deal to have my own money. I’d like to think that it still is and that somehow, these very young children carrying around lots of cash is just the by-product of the affluent circles in which I travel, but that’s off-point. Anyway – pocket full of cash. My family and I took a weekend trip somewhere in the highlands of North Carolina and we stopped in this small town. There was a bookshop there and I went in and bought my very first book. I’d read other books, sure, but this was the first that I went in and bought with my own money of my own choosing.

There’s a great line from Starship Troopers in which a teacher says, “Figuring things out for yourself is about the only freedom we really have.” (paraphrased from memory) And that’s true, and that’s why that moment was so memorable to me. I made the choice. It was money that I earned (as much as a nine-year-old can earn money) and I made the transaction with the vendor. It was part of the self that was developing within me. The book was The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle.

Peter is one of my heroes. He’s written more than the Last Unicorn, and in fact, despite the massive popularity of the Last Unicorn, was largely screwed out of the profits that came from it and its subsequent film adaptation by Rankin-Bass. (You can find out more about the whole thing and Beagle in general by clicking your heels together twice and smacking BAZINGA with your mouse.)

The Last Unicorn turned out to be a great book. The interactions between male and female characters were both stereotypical and advanced, helping people like me form ideas on how women and men should interact. Not just from a heroic standpoint, but from an emotional one. And truly, understanding our emotions as men is one of the ways we become our strongest. We, men, are typically stronger than women physically. With that, comes an understanding that true strength means knowing when that strength should be held back rather than flaunted. I have found that the characters in fantasy books, really compelling books, advance that sense of strength not just in the face of adversity but in the face of relationships as well. The strongest act is that which lifts another up.

Unicorn was one of the first of many books that would challenge my perceptions of what it meant to be a man and how that related to women. Not just women in the context of  “the fairer sex,” but women as equals. I’m sure it helped that I had a mother who worked in a management role as I was growing up because I never really saw my parents in competition with one another. But it was the fantasy worlds that involved maidens and dragons and uppity maidens and knights and sultry maidens and wizards that really formed my concepts of who I wanted to become in the real world. We can say what we like about the “geek” culture, but you will generally find more evolved people there. Maybe not socially, but then, maybe more socially developed than we suspect. While the recent uptick in misogyny among gamers related to console video games has tainted the geek culture, those of us who still haunt gaming and pop culture conventions are a breed apart from those fools. Its the story, not the combat, that we relish. And in the story are found the clues to our concepts of masculinity and femininity.

Given the recent national attention on rape, it seems to me that most of us need to read the book Deerskin by Robin McKinley. Not only is it great fantasy literature, but its an intriguing look to understand the horror of physical and sexual violence.

I’m not into summarizing plots, but they key point here is the violation of a young woman  that forces her out into a fantasy world. It’s truly an ethereal read, and the concepts are all presented from her viewpoint – thus giving the reader a greater insight into the subject of interpersonal violence. I know that many male writers have put this kind of thing down in their books, but it takes a female writer to truly express the full measure of challenges presented in the female psyche. And we, as manly men, would do ourselves great favor by reading these. 

I’m not saying that fantasy literature will save the planet. But it might. As we look at science fiction and see the world created in Star Trek where the planet managed to conquer most crime, poverty, hunger and other social ills, we see that at the heart of every great story is the will to be better human beings. And that, my friends, is what manhood is all about.

But you guessed this already. In fact, pretty much anything I write on the subject would be redundant. And, truthfully, we men are not often the victims of rape, nor was Rep. Akin referring to men in his comments. So, instead, I refer you to the fine bloggette over at People I Want To Punch In the Throat. You can find her rant here: http://www.peopleiwanttopunchinthethroat.com/2012/08/rep-todd-akin.html.

Warning: She gets a bit more extreme in her language than I do. It’s part of her charm.

I love “teh womens.” And by that, I mean “I love women,” and by that, one woman in particular who has managed to live with me now for nearly 18 years without setting me on fire while I sleep. That’s a huge accomplishment, because if you know me at all, you likely have that urge a lot. (To set me on fire, not sleep.) Anyway, this is not about me. 

It’s about vaginas

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The forbidden lands! What treasure may lie there…

When I started this blog, I promised it would not be overtly political because that’s not what this is about. Sure, being politically active is a high-minded pursuit for we men, but it usually distracts from the topic at hand. This time, it’s bound to get a little political, but only from the perspective that women’s health is a colossal issue that you should take the time to get to know. And despite what you think, it’s not all about the vagina. Though, it kinda is. Lemme do some ‘splainin.

First, we’ve had more discussions in the last year about the anatomical amusement park that is a woman’s body and who can purchase tickets to that venue than we have in about the last 20 years. But it’s a good thing. Second, you should thank your president for bringing vaginas to the forefront of the national discussion. (He totally said “vagina.” Probably.) The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has provisions in it that many find controversial.I, for one, do not when it comes to guaranteeing healthcare for women. 

Why? Anyone familiar with the phrase “If Momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy?” After 16 years of marriage, I get that concept way too well. For you younger men, pay attention. It may seem like you are giving up man points here, but trust me, its far more Machiavellian to head off problems long before they become problems than to blindly suffer the wrath of an unhappy woman.

You think talking to them now is tough? Try doing it while their hoo-hoo is on fire because its sick. You’ll be channeling Schwarzenegger and screaming “Get to tha choppah” as you run screaming from the room.

While individuals in the talk media have made this issue about sex, they’re only half-right. Granted, the ACA does provide for contraceptive consultation and prescription, which is all about sex. It’s also about lessening cramps and related symptoms of the menstrual cycle which can hit women hard. You call it the ugly red monster’; women call it a “license to kill.” And for good reason – the women I have dated and known throughout my life have suffered from a wide spectrum of issues related to menstruation. I’ve watched them go through massive mood swings, depression, weight gain, intense abdominal cramping, migraines, abdominal swelling, upset gastroenterological processes and massive chocolate cravings. (Not just for Dementors anymore!) Many of these issues are caused by hormonal imbalances that can be modified by the proper contraceptive prescription. Just because a woman is on birth control doesn’t mean she’s a slut; in truth, she may not want to have sex at all. She may just want a cease fire between the crazed biological processes that make women…well, women.

In addition, such preventative healthcare picks up on and provides counseling for sexually-transmitted diseases. Remember the hoo-hoo on fire comment? (Hoo-Hoo on Fire – great name for a band.)  If you want to be around women, you don’t want them constantly complaining about how their nether regions are transforming into angry woodland creatures. (Notice how I could have said “beaver” there and totally resisted it? Mom would be proud.)

But apart from the sexual realm are things like urinary tract infections, screening and counseling for diseases like HIV, HPV (human papillomavirus) and gestational diabetes. pregnancy and breastfeeding counseling, screening for interpersonal violence issues and well-woman office visits related to the general function of the va-jay-jay, boobies and every other body part we snicker at when mentioned in public. 

In the words of the great philosopher Robin Williams, the reason we do just about everything on the planet is: to woo women. Women will not want to woo if their hoo-hoo is not currently woo-hooing properly. So before we get on our collective guy soapboxes and talk about how the whole issue with contraceptive health issues in the ACA devolves down to the fact that “she’s gotta have it,” let us consider for just a moment that the issues are just never that simple. Also, the next time a state legislator like Lisa Brown of the Michigan House of Representatives has the courage to mention her vagina from the House floor, we should all listen closely to what she has to say. 

Because I bet it will involve the word “vagina.”

Two young women I know are likely paying a lot of attention to Olympic volleyball this week and next. It’s not for nothing; these two are heavily involved in the sport as juveniles. Like really involved. Like “we drive out of town for tournaments” volleyball.

They are upstanding women of high moral character. One day, while I was picking up my sons at their school, I noticed a bus pull up and offload a bevy of young ladies clad in battle attire for throwing down on the volleyball court. Battle attire, largely, comprised of hot pants so tight you wonder if the girls have any circulation at waist-level.

Hot pants like these.

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Now, these pants on an adult are a wonderful thing. Like most men I know, I believe God had a hand in shaping women a certain way and these garments do augment their features. However, while the young women I mentioned earlier are certainly beautiful, I have a hard time seeing these 16 year-olds as anything sexual, yet this attire seems to imply something different.

So, these two aforementioned young ladies attend my church and I lead the older one in a discipleship group. (Yeah, me. I know, right? Stop laughing.)  Seeing the opportunity, I asked her what the point of wear such shorts – especially at her age – was.

“The reason they tell us is that they give us freedom of movement.” I couldn’t stop from snickering.

She looked at me askew.

“So, in volleyball, you have to wear crotch-hugging pants in order to move around freely in a 20×20 box on the court, but women basketball players who have to run the entire length of a basketball court are able to do it in shorts that go down to their knees and are loose-fitting?”

She gave me that nod that said “I know, it’s stupid, but its what we do.”

So I figured it must be a volleyball thing. Surely the men wore the same gear. Here’s the hot pants that men wear:

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While I am sure that there are athletic supporters that keep their “volleyballs” in place, I’m relatively sure that they don’t suffer loss of freedom during a game.

So, the question is, why the difference? Ironically, it’s choice. The National and International organizations that govern volleyball have no restrictions on tightness. Marj Snyder, a spokeswoman for the Women’s Sports Foundation, said that these type of uniforms often change with the whims of current fashion.

That said, Livestrong.com posted this article as if they were actually answering my direct question. Apparently, a number of teams feel that the tighter pants cover that which need be covered, hold pads in place to protect players who fall or dive and, because they are form-fitting, prevent exposure of any of the women’s mysterious ladyparts. Apparently, there’s a whole untold litany of times when women are de-pantsed during sports events.

While I am inclined to agree with that take, I call “marketing nonsense.” While the pad part – the theory that because the pants are tight, they hold pads in place that might otherwise slip – does ring with some truth, I’ll note that football pants include a host of pads that need to be held in place but still manage to reach the calves.

I venture that this is simply another case of the oversexification of our children. And oversexification is totally a word. Don’t let spellcheck fool you.

Those of you slightly older than the Jell-O hardening in your fridge will remember a Calvin Klein ad campaign from the 1980s involving actress/model Brooke Shields that caught a lot of flack for being mild child porn. I guffawed at that because at the time, I was a teenager myself and there are few things teenage boys like more than seeing teenage girls partially dressed. But as I grew older, I realized the nature of what I was viewing. Sex sells, but we have somehow turned that into “sexy children sell” and then have the ‘nads to get angry when some guy rapes or molests a child.

While I am not at all calling for the downfall of volleyball or modern civilization, I think it’s important that we all keep in mind what kind of things we tell our daughters are OK. They need clear lines of definition that don’t involve hot pants as much as should involve hot bouts of raising self esteem, pushing education and letting them know that they are equals if not better than any man.

And they need not show off any part of their body to show off that they can compete on the same level.

And now, Gluten-free Bacon. Why Gluten-free? Because all bacon, technically, is gluten-free because its a meat product. HOWEVER, some bacon goblins choose to “sweeten” the bacon with stuff that includes a wheat-base; therefore, gluten.

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All Your Pre-Packaged Awesomeness Are Belong To Us. For great justice!

It wasn’t that long ago that I was an avid player of board, miniature and tabletop RPG games. I’ve largely moved on to the digital market, but I try to make time to play board games of all kinds with my two boys. It’s a blast and a great activity to do together. It’s harmless and fun. Playing the pen and paper games like Dungeons and Dragons, Paranoia, Gamma World and other forced me to read thousands of pages of rules, character enhancements and stories that were written on a collegiate level (usually by college students.) Since I started doing this in 5th grade, it led to me having a huge leap in understanding grammar, syntax, sentence structure, and perhaps most importantly, vocabulary. I went to conventions and immersed myself in gaming, science fiction and fantasy.

Doing so had a big impact in my life. While there have constantly been negative accounts about gaming (specials aired during my teen years about the evils of Dungeons and Dragons and how it was corrupting our youth), most people who actually played the games will tell you that it was about two things – acting and heroism. Such games were just acting with the added props of dice, paper and reference books. In most of the cases, we built heroic characters because it was in our nature – and a key focal point of the game – to act as a champion. Sure, we did evil campaigns from time to time; everyone likes to be naughty at some point. But those days helped me formulate ideals about justice, law and doing the right thing even in the face of adversity. I’ve never regretted those days. I’ll be a gamer ’til the day I die.

One of the things that was rare back then – our White Stag, if you will – was women. It led to a ton of jokes about the likelihood that most of us would never kiss a girl, much less make it any further, but we took that in stride. Until the day we would walk in and see a woman seated at the table, her fair skin glistening like a Twilight vamp, her antlers rising high and majestic…ok, so it wasn’t exactly like that, but that’s what it felt like.

Me: Dude, there’s a chick at the table.

Mack: Yeah, it’s Rob’s friend. She…games.

Me: No way! Is this like her first time or something?

Mack: Nah, she’s…gotten around Greyhawk, if you know what I mean.

Me: Sadly, I do.

NOTE: I never actually had a friend named Mack, but I always wanted one, so this is his debut. His real name was probably Kevin. Or Neil. Or Sean. Or James. Or David. Or Butch, which is almost as cool. But I don’t really remember.

And it would just get more stupid from there, so I’ll spare you that. My point is that we were in awe, and probably really turned on given that we were not only gamers who weren’t often around women, much less one that might talk to us, but teenagers as well. At the end of all of it, though, was respect. She might eventually become part of the gang and we might give her a good verbal ribbing, but there’s was never malice. There was never jealousy and there was never a thought that this woman was somehow ruining the game for the rest of us. In fact, they always made it just a little bit better, even if that was because we thought they were high on the eye candy scale.

And just as a sidenote for all you mundanes out there who laugh at the concept of going to a gaming convention – sure, it’s Nerdville, USA. But let me tell you this – Nerdville has a HUGE population of women, many of whom want to wiggle into spandex or PCV costumes that are – AHEM – on the wee side. But you’ll also find women hotter than Victoria’s Secret models who will not only let you play XBOX as long as you want. THEY. WILL. ACTUALLY. PLAY. WITH. YOU. DUDE. SERIOUSLY.

Which brings me to Anita Sarkeesian. (Yep, totally referenced Wikipedia right there. Take that, college professors!) She’s a feminist author and social scientist who proposed taking a close look at gender roles in gaming. She’s beautiful and I think, given the fact that women in the gaming world were such a rarity until recent years, we’re probably overdue for some serious scrutiny on who plays the games, how they are designed and what the outcomes are for men and women. From a purely marketing standpoint, this kind of research tells designers how to better reel us in. From a purely anthropological standpoint, it’s just a good idea to evaluate the things in which we invest time. That’s what Sarkeesian proposed, and she created a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to raise the dough for the study.

She didn’t call people names. She didn’t offer to end gaming or other avenues of wasting time as we know it. She didn’t call for a ban on video games. Yet, what she received was digital harassment, death threats, threats of rape and racial slurs (her background is Armenian.) One kid in Canada actually designed a video game in which you could punch Sarkeesian’s face repeatedly to rack up scars. (There’s no link because that’s vile and I won’t support it, even in educating you about it.)

What. The. Hell? This is probably an age-old feminist rhetorical question, but what is so threatening about women joining us in the next iteration of HALO? Or Silent Hill? Or Skylanders, for that matter? What is sop off-putting about women gaming that we, as a gender, would rise up in such a detestable way? The concept is so foreign to me that I was honestly left speechless as a pored over article after article on the web about what she was going through. Plus, Sarkeesian’s GORGEOUS. Why hate on the hotties?

As with many such campaigns (like The Oatmeal, a case in which a website stole artwork and then threatened to sue the artist for calling them on it; the artist attempted to raise $20,000 demanded by the art thieves so he could give it to charity and ended up raising over $200,000) on the web, the detractors really ended up making her case for the study that much stronger and, by causality, helped her raise about 25 times her goal, which was a mere $6,000. She ended up with $158,922, over 2000 supporters and national recognition.

Way to go, Trolls.

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“Suck it, fanboys. Your lunacy made me an extra $150k. Talk about Karma.”

Games were meant to be fun. None of us who grew up gaming picked up a game at the hobby store because we thought we’d have a lousy time. It’s a release, an escape and a fascination all in one. Perhaps the devolution of men in gaming began at the era of video games, where you could wander into an “Aladdin’s Castle” or similar video arcade and find dozens of guys jamming on the games but virtually no women. But gaming has an appeal that is cross-gender, just like the US military has an appeal that is cross-gender. It’s not just for boys anymore. That’s probably why Miranda Pakozdi started gaming in the first place.

Miranda signed up to play in the “Cross Assault” video game tourney, unlikely to win but still willing to give it the ol’ college try. Now, Miranda has endured her share of “trash talk” while playing and I can tell you from experience that this is common between males. For some reason, though, we have learned to devolve into little more than apes when we play and this had led to us saying things that we would never say in a more public setting.

During her competition, she endured her team’s coach ogling her on camera, pointing a webcam at various body parts, encouraging her to undress and talking rather openly in sexually harassing terms. This is not one of those cases of he said/she said or where a comment might have been misconstrued (Thank you, Justice Thomas) but a full-on sexual assault of who she was simply because she was an American with boobs.

Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE BOOBS. But you won’t find me walking up to random women on the street and loudly talking about the woman’s rack. Why? Because it’s ignorant, disrespectful and you’d have to be a moron to do it. Not only that, but my wife is like a ninja in her ability to whip her purse around and deliver a crushing blow to the head (or sub-abdominal dangly-bits region).There is virtually no place on the planet where respect should take a holiday. That includes the virtual space.

We’ve hounded women for years (there’s a reason that’s a dog reference) in the workplace. They still make less than we do on average. Women are still raped at a level that’s egregiously high compared to men (www.rainn.org), about 80 percent of the trafficking victims in the world are female, and in 250 years as a nation, we’ve yet to have a female President. Given the fact that some men think that’s its a good idea to drug a woman and take her home to rape her, I probably shouldn’t be surprised about what Sarkeesian and  Pakozdi have experienced. But I am. And as men, we have a responsibility to speak out about it. More succinctly, we have a responsibility as men who play these games to speak out against these trolls who believe that harassing women online or in person is a sport.

It’s clear that their manhood is really, really small. Even so, we can’t be silent. Not on this.