What Are Women Earning? (And How Are Men Shrinking?)

If you’re following my Dare To Be A Feminist topic at Scoop.It (or have just been paying attention to the news), you probably noticed all the discussion about the Pew Research Report that states that women are earning more than their husbands in 40% of American families with children:

A record 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The share was just 11% in 1960.

These “breadwinner moms” are made up of two very different groups: 5.1 million (37%) are married mothers who have a higher income than their husbands, and 8.6 million (63%) are single mothers.1

The income gap between the two groups is quite large. The median total family income of married mothers who earn more than their husbands was nearly $80,000 in 2011, well above the national median of $57,100 for all families with children, and nearly four times the $23,000 median for families led by a single mother.2

If you, like many other people, just skimmed that headline, here’s what you need to really know about this discovery:

Compared with all mothers with children under age 18, married mothers who out-earn their husbands are slightly older, disproportionally white and college educated. Single mothers, by contrast, are younger, more likely to be black or Hispanic, and less likely to have a college degree.

The growth of both groups of mothers is tied to women’s increasing presence in the workplace. Women make up almost of half (47%) of the U.S. labor force today, and the employment rate of married mothers with children has increased from 37% in 1968 to 65% in 2011.3

(There’s also discussion of the dreaded single mothers; so I urge you to read the entire Pew findings.)

One should also note that this is not simply a matter of “feminism having won, so just let it all go away.” For the findings also reveal that “total family income is higher when the mother, not the father, is the primary breadwinner.” Thanks, pink collar ghetto, unequal pay, and continuing notions of gender inequality in the workplace. Not to mention all the BS traditional notions of motherhood.

Never mind the facts, however; let’s just get to the million dollar subtext question Liza Donnelly put forth regarding the 37% — the married mothers who have a higher income than their husbands: Can Husbands Handle Being Outearned By Their Wives?

The answer is, quite clearly, “No.”

Exhibit A: Lou Dobbs and his all-male panel of guests. Here, the comments range from Doug Schoen’s “a catastrophic issue” that “could undermine our social order” to Erick Erickson’s statement that this is the real “war on women.”

Yea-gads.

If you want to dismiss all this as the ramblings of irrelevant talking asshats on Fox (for which I will gently remind you that their rhetoric is often too dangerous to be dismissed), you’ll need to also know about this other study, called In Sickness and In Wealth, from Washington University in St Louis’ Olin Business School.

This research found that “men are more likely to experience problems with erectile dysfunction and other forms of mental and physical anguish as a result of his female counterpart being the primary breadwinner”.

Olin Business School professor Lamar Pierce and Michael S. Dahl of Aalborg University in Denmark write: ‘Male sexual desire and behavior is tied to cultural and social factors such as patriarchy and money, potentially causing men to suffer reduced sexual desire or dysfunction when perceiving their traditional role of provider to be usurped.

‘In fact, the medical literature has shown that anger and frustration can lead to serious sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction (ED), a problem also linked to unemployment and decreasing household income.’

Additionally, Pierce told NBC News: ‘There is a powerful social norm for many men that it’s important to make more than their wives and, essentially, when that social norm is violated, what this does is make them feel emasculated.’

And men do not usually suffer alone, as research found that the female breadwinner also has problems with insomnia and anxiety.

Men in such a relationship have also been found to be more likely to cheat in an effort to regain their bedroom mojo.

Seriously?!

Seriously.

It seems we have not come a long way, baby, in terms of marital duties, especially not in terms of how men think. Shudder. Bigger shudder. Because this all sounds like a lot more permission slips are about to be handed out.

Of course, not all men are this primitive. But for some reason, primitive still prevails in the politics (and libidos) of our lives.

guys love it

Domestic Violence Permission Slips

refuge 1 in four domestic violenceWe, as a society, give many permission slips to abusers, excusing their abuse, violence & control with claims of “understandable stressors.” Perhaps no category of these permission slips is larger, more pervasive, than the economical permission slips.

Since society is made up of individuals, this is not surprising to me; I’ve seen the permission slips handed out personally — and in my own life.

When my ex husband, who was convicted of battery, first began his regime of oppression, I talked to others, including my parents, siblings, and friends.

When I complained that he was unrealistic in his expectations (a perfectly clean home with kids, the mandatory shutting of window blinds a specific time every evening, my accounting for every purchase down to each nickel, etc.), I was told to give him a break, “He’s got a new family,” “There’s a new mortgage,” “The economy’s bad in his industry,” etc.

When I expressed fear over his irrational anger (swearing, stomping, yelling, threatening to kill the cat), I was told the same things… And I could do a lot to help his disposition & my situation by doing the little things he asked for, like shutting the blinds at 5:30 and providing him with receipts and my left-over change for every purchase, including a soda pop at the gas station.

It may seem to you like “little things to do.” That even if they seem petty or downright silly, they are things I should have done to make him happy — and stop his yelling & stomping & threatening. I did them; I assure you I did. But there are problems with this theory, you see…

For one, my doing what he asked did not make him happy — or even happier. He simply made more lists of things I should be doing, and if I didn’t do them (or did them, but stopped doing the other things as well), the yelling & stomping continued. His greed for control grew.

And his power grew too.

I can’t say that he knew about my conversations, but he did know I was complying and doing the “fast as I can, Master” dance to please him. And so he knew he could ask for more.

And, boy, did he ask for more.

I mention this not just to point out examples of excuses we automatically give to controlling, abusive people, but to illustrate what happens to the one who is controlled and abused.

It wasn’t only that in doing such things I was devalued & debased — what adult, let alone a parent, has to account & atone for buying a soda and lazily dropping the change into her purse — or is forced to shut the window blinds at home for a man who is not there anyway?

It wasn’t only that I had more irrational rules to follow & unrealistic things to do for him.

While those things are bad enough by themselves (and if you see yourself, your sister, your friend in such a situation — get help!), probably the worst thing is that I was losing my support system.

With every “silly” complaint I made, I was losing credibility & respect outside my own home; I was the complainer.

Every time someone else that I went to for help told me to “buck up” (which, in reality, was saying, “knuckle under”), I lost my ability to trust them.

As time goes by, these are the things which only widens & deepens your isolation. You, bit by bit & one by one, kill-off your relationships and don’t have a support system.

Then, when you are on your own, you only have two voices: His & yours. And you can’t trust yours because you were wrong, see — otherwise your family & friends wouldn’t have said those things, wouldn’t have split…

I know because I lost my ability to trust myself.

I thought I should just “buck up” and “knuckle under” because that’s what everyone had said I should do — my own voice needed to shut-up, my own gut was horribly wrong.

So even if you have a person left who is willing to listen to you, you fear your fears will only be heard as whiny complaints… And if that’s what they are, complaints & not fears, then you are wrong. You are as wrong & bad & worthless as he treats you — no wonder you have to account for every nickel you spend & be given a time to shut the blinds & stomped at for not reading his mind! Saying anything to anyone else was a giant “I told you so!” — proof that he was right.

So you say less… Say nothing. Until you are bereft of power as you are support (external & internal support systems). The only thing you have is him, and when you’re so dependent upon him — you’d better do what he wants.

Giving him excuses, was giving him permission to be so controlling. With each additional permission slip, he was granted more power & control — while I was reduced to nothingness, completely dependent upon him because I was isolated & unable to trust myself.

We need to stop making excuses for abusive behaviors, stop giving them excuses for why they control, stop handing them permission slips for unacceptable actions & belief systems. We need to start believing in the “complaints” and fears of those who are abused, help them stand up for their rights, support them if/when they need to leave, and show the victims that we both hear them and are here for them. We must stop giving control freaks & abusive jerks excuses which are permission slips for continuing their persecution of the very people they profess to love.

Image from Refuge.

Dating Rules: Should You Say “I Love You” First?

From the “Rules that everyone tells you that are just plain stupid” files…

Relationship rule myth: Never, and I mean never, say ‘I love you’ first.

OK, suppose every single person the world-over adopted this rubbish — who would ever be told the three magic words? Someone has to say them first.

The real rule here is not to rush into saying such important words.

Learn to discern love from infatuation; love from good sex; lasting romantic love from loving attention.

No matter how genuine your feelings, don’t blurt such sentiments too soon. How soon is too soon? Well, there’s no magic rule here, unfortunately, but use some common sense. Has he or she even known you long enough, well enough, to have fallen in love with you?

Just ‘cuz you’re on the emotional express train, doesn’t mean you need to express your emotions before the guy or gal catches up with you.

When you’re convinced not only that what you are feeling is lasting & real, but that the object of your lifetime worthy affection has had enough time to possibly know enough about you to feel the same, then go ahead, be the first to say it. Leave them the sloppy seconds of saying so too.

But if they don’t, well, so what? Maybe you were too quick on the draw with your love bullets this time — only more time will tell, right?

The Sweet Smell of Sex

Over at Pretty Dumb Things, Chelsea Girl wondered about her committed relationship and why they were having less than stellar sex:

And I have tried, I have tried and I have tried to get Donny to hear my complaints. I have mentioned how he used to tie me up and wasn’t that fun, wouldn’t he like a go at the old ropes again? I have said, wow, I really liked it when you dripped me with candle wax, whaddaya think, got a match? I have said, you know, I really enjoy being spanked. How about spanking me? I have insinuated, intimated, directly addressed, queried, said outright and asked point blank. I have done so for almost a year, and for almost a year, I have seen our sex life get more and more firmly entrenched in what I can only term in absolute honesty as a rut.

Saturday, I lost patience, and I kinda sorta, no really, let Donny have it. I told him that I was dissatisfied. I reminded him of the sex we used to have–long, languorous and perverse loops of time and experience where we held each other suspended in passion and occasional pain. I told him that I realized that this kind of sex wasn’t an everyday option, but given how rarely we do fuck, that I needed it to happen more frequently than it had.

I told him, in short, that we were in a rut. I told him that I wanted out. Whether I meant the rut or the relationship was intentionally ambiguous.

“Well,” he said, a stricken look on his face, “when I met you and we did all that stuff, I wasn’t in love with you. But now I love you, and…” his voice trailed off.

Which leaves me to wonder. What has love got to do with it? Why now that my boyfriend is in love with me and I with him, now that he takes care of me, now that he’s committed to me, why with all of that, does the nasty need to go away? Why can’t he fuck me like the little whore I used to be (and still am in my mind)? Why must I sacrifice the wild ecstatic pleasures to the domestic delights? Why do I have to lose my lover to gain a partner?

Why can’t I have it all?

…I hope fervently that we can relearn how to be beasty in the bedroom and keep the commitment. It’s a lot less easy than I thought it would be.

Yes, Chelsea, it is. It will be. Relationships take work and sometimes that work along with the daily grind make sex between committed partners seem more like sex with a friend or a sibling even. (Yeesh!)

That spark, that je ne sais quoi, that makes folks tumble into bed together is dampened if not completely put out by the wet blanked of security, familiarity and comfort which we all prize in our relationships — well, at least until it smothers the sex, then we wonder if it’s all it’s cracked-up to be.

Without trying to play counselor to Chelsea and Donny — the former I’ve ‘conversed with’ a few times, the later I don’t know from Adam — I do have general advice for this general situation of a general sexual rut. And it’s really simple: Hit him in the nose.

No, not literally. Use his sense of smell to get him in the mood.

Memories, complete with all associated emotions such as arousal and lust, can be prompted by smell. I’m serious — it works for both men and women. And I’m not talking about pheromones or other odors you either aren’t aware of or cannot control; I’m talking about recreating the fragrances you both fell in lust with. Your perfume, his cologne, candles, incense — even the smell of a smoky bar can literally be that magic “something in the air” which you’ve been missing.

Smells are strongly linked to memory, so simply spritzing on that signature perfume you always used to wear when you were dating or lighting candles in the same scents you first made-out to can take your partner back to those emotional feelings. I personally know a couple whose sex life soared to re-newed heights when she took a part-time job back in waitressing. Every night that she returned home smelling of fried foods it took him back to when he used to pick her up after work late at night… They were young then, and their night was just beginning…

Who knew fried foods could be so sexy?

Well, in truth, it’s not the fried foods but the smell connected to emotion. One whiff and he was transported back in time… A time when he couldn’t wait to get a chance to feel her up under her polyester uniform and prayed for more. His drive returned with the memories (and she made a bit of extra spending cash to buy herself new trinkets which made her feel sexy too). Win-win!

So dig out that bottle of perfume or cologne you once put on for every date night — I don’t care if those fragrances are so last year (or even so 1980’s), just put them on again. (Unless these bottles themselves have turned bad, then head to the store and buy a new bottle. If they stopped making that fragrance, ask the lady at the perfume counter to help you find the latest scent which is the closest match.) Ditto on the candles — burn Christmas candles all year long if you were getting hot and sweaty during holiday time.

If you don’t believe me, then believe Dr. Alan Hirsch founder of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. Dr. Hirsch has studied olfactory-evoked nostalgia (sometimes called the Proust Effect) and he says, “The quickest way to affect somebody’s moods or behavior, quicker than with any other sensory modality, is with smell.”

This is because of how smell and memory are linked — in fact, we must first remember a smell before identifying it. This means that not only is odor linked to experiences, that smell evokes memories, but that smell is better at this memory cue effect than the other senses. So if you want him to remember a special time, a special feeling — that feeling — think less about how you look or what you are wearing, but about what you both are smelling.

This is entirely unconscious, so you need not get your partner to agree — or even tell them about your sweet-smelling seduction plans!

Of course, some scent memories may have changed over time. For example, some women can no longer wear their old favorite fragrance because that smell is linked to the memory, and nausea, of morning sickness. But this too is good news — it’s proof that your smell-memory connection can be relearned. If your partner isn’t keen on smelling like fried foods every night just to get it on, start spritzing on a new perfume, lighting candles, or even get a new car fragrance tree on the rear-view if you can’t wait to get home to do it — whatever new scent you add to the hot steamy sex will quickly become the new sexy smell memory.

If all else fails, serve him pumpkin pie while burning a lavender candle. Or burn a pumpkin candle and a lavender candle at the same time. Because Dr. Hirsch found the smell of pumpkin pie, when mixed with the smell of lavender, stimulated male sexual arousal more than any other aroma tested. It increased penile blood flow in test subjects by 40 per cent, 13 times more than designer perfume.

And keep those candles burning until you are done and both (I hope!) blissfully basking in the afterglow, because after sex there’s an increase in the production of the hormone makes the brain to form new neurons in the olfactory center. Which not only improves sense of smell, but, again, helps link the smell to the sense of satisfaction.

Cosmo Aims To Sweep Her Off Her Feet With Bad Sex Advice

At Motherhood Metamorphosis, Deanna writes, “You Know Sex Ed Is Really Bad When… Cosmo can’t even get it right. In their instructions for Sex Position of the Day: Sensual Shower, their diagram for how to achieve erotic thrills literally misses the mark — the genitals don’t even line up.”

And then she proves the point, by illustrating the error of Cosmo‘s ways.  (If you’re a curious grown-up who won’t be offended, click here to see the line drawings.)

The one thing that Deanna failed to note is that along with impossible penetration, the female form is levitated. Perhaps that’s Cosmo pandering to men again, allowing him to imagine his pen-is a mighty sword, capable of lifting women off of the ground

Does Makeup Keep You From Getting Laid? (Or, When He Professes He Likes The ‘Natural’ Look)

Don’t you just hate it when your man turns to you and says, “I like you better without make-up,” or makes some comment about how he “prefers the natural look” — and you remember how you looked when you met, all dolled-up. You (and I) know that he was drawn to you for how you looked that night… His lust was written all over his face — in his own drool! Yet here is now, acting like that never ever happened. Infuriating, isn’t it?

So just what is the deal, anyway?

Is he complaining about the artifice because he feels tricked? No, not if he’s been with you for months, treating you like a queen, married you; he’s already gotten over you, your morning face, and the fact that your push-up bra is a devilish bit of engineering and your lips aren’t naturally that rosy.

Is this his way of making you less attractive to other guys? Well, I can’t rule that possibility in or out without knowing more… Some controlling guys do do that. But I can tell you what I know.

Fact: Men are naturally, biologically, attracted to beauty. So when they say they don’t like the ‘unnatural’ beauty what they are really saying is that they don’t like living with it. And not because they aren’t man enough to shave at the same sink where pink lipstick sits.

Sure, men see you all dolled-up and are attracted to it, but that’s more of an unconscious thing, a perception; their complaints are based on more direct and palpable experiences.

Think back to your own first experiences with makeup… Remember when you first put on that Chapstick, Bonnie Bell Lipsmacker, gloss or lipstick? You sure could feel the pure petroleum, the carnauba wax, and whatever else puts the Eeeiiww in eeeiiww-mollients. It took some time getting used to… But you put up with it for the attention you got. Men (at least the complaining sort) don’t find any perks for dealing with it and just plain don’t want to get used to it.

Some guys will accept a girl who is high-maintenance because she’s needy, neurotic or controlling longer than they will a high-maintenance glamour girl, simply because it’s a lot easier for them to avoid the emotional sticky-stuff than it is the unappealing tactile issues of cosmetic goo.

So just how does a woman balance the application of makeup to highlight her features and be desirable yet remain touchable?

For help I enlisted the help of some other women who make their livings off of being attractive to men: sex workers. Yup, I asked strippers, escorts, and call girls for some beauty advice. I figured they’d be the ones to know.

(I shouldn’t have to say this, but many people are paranoid when it comes to sex workers, so I will. No one is stating or implying that men seek the services of a sex worker simply due to makeup issues; those reasons are far more complicated. No one is making the comparison between the use of cosmetics and being a whore; so-called ‘painted ladies’ are everywhere now. And, for the record, not all sex work is illegal; and let’s not get all tied up in the ‘morality debate’ — today anyway. This is just about working girls sharing how they work the makeup.)

Beauty Tips From Sex Workers

When it comes to make-up, less is definitely more. You want to create “come hither,” but not “look, don’t touch!” So don’t go the model route, with layers of concealers, color correctors, foundation, lip liner, filler, and stains. You’re not posing for hours here, looking aloof and untouchable, so don’t create any unnecessary barriers to being touched.

If you don’t want to discourage the nooners, that potential kiss at the office, or you just don’t want to wake-up scary (plus sleeping in makeup does bad things to your eyes and skin), the old K.I.S.S. — Keep It Simple Stupid — really does apply to makeup application.

Skip the foundations; just use a sunblock and powder. If you insist, blusher. And if you’ve got a blemish or two, just dab on a concealer (or concealing zit treatment) before you powder.

Keep your eye makeup simple too. The most natural eyeshadow color is a violet or mauve — these are shades naturally found it most every complexion, believe it or not (think of the tint blood vessels give the thin skin on the eyelid) so they look the least like “make-up.”

Either use waterproof mascara that will last; or one that is super easily removed (with soap & water or baby wipes — very portable!). Several of these sex workers also said that they ‘cheated’ by using mascara as a liner, using the tip of the applicator to line at the base of the eyelashes. It gives a less noticeable line and it stays put longer than eye liners.

Do not ever line the inside of your eyes with liner. Not only does it actually make your eyes appear smaller, but it’s not good for your eyes and it always goos-up in the corners of your eyes. Not a good look for intimate situations, when he’s taking in your every little detail.

Powder, powder, powder! Use a light application of loose powder to set everything from your blusher to your eyeliner and eyeshadow. Your makeup will wear longer, rub off less, yet it’s easily removed when you want to take it off.

Lipstick: Red lips work. Get a really good sheer red lipstick (One worker specifically noted some shades: “I love Lauder’s Sheer Cherry, though I think that color’s not regularly sold anymore; look for it in the Gift With Purchase sets and seasonal sets. And Avon’s Slick Tint in Glossy Wine is fab!”). If you keep your lips exfoliated (easy to do when you wash your face by gently rubbing your lips with a wet washcloth), you can use a liner to fill in your lips beneath the for extra vibrancy and longer staying power — but if your lips tend to be dry, beware how dry the liner will make your lips look if you blot your lipstick off. Of course, if the skin around your lips is very dry, avoid reds and other bright colors as they bleed and make a mess even before you kiss.

(Of course, there are plenty of guys who get-off on smeared makeup — especially when your eyes tear from err, taking it deep & gagging. But these aren’t the guys who are going to complain that you’re too made up!)

Some men are extremely sensitive to scents & smells and you might be surprised just how many smells there are on you when you’re using beauty products — especially when things heat up and scents start to rise into the air. Take it from the women who make a living off of men who don’t want to go home smelling like another woman: avoid lots of scents. Look for ‘sensitive skin’ beauty & skin care products as one of the first things they remove are the perfumes and masking scents. This includes your skin care, your shampoo, your body care products too.

Men don’t like hair they can’t touch. Generally speaking, they want to pull your pony during doggy; not get slapped by you for mussing the ‘do or harming a weave.

Oh, and finger nails! Sure, long nails are pretty in faux lesbian porn, but generous men worry that you won’t be able to rub-out your own orgasm, voyeurs worry they won’t be able to watch it, selfish or quick guys know theire days (and nights) are numbered, and very few men want to see a dragon lady nail going for their prostrate! (One escort noted, “I compromise and have 9 long ones, keeping ‘the shocker’ short.”)

Now that he’s taken you up on the come-hither-offer, it’s time for clean-up. You know that furtive post-coitus pee you take (or at least you should be taking it — urinating after sex helps wash away bacteria; otherwise you risk urinary tract infections) — use that to fix makeup smudges or wash it off entirely and reapply it in minutes. You’ll look as fresh as a daisy — that’s just been plucked!

If you follow these tips, you likely won’t hear him complain about makeup anymore. (But don’t blame me if he can’t keep his hands off you!)

Two Tickets To Erotica Novella-Land, Maxim Style

In a real shocker, Maxim publishes obvious sex information with girl-on-girl photos. (Just ‘cuz hubby got shafted with a Maxim replacement subscription when Stuff folded, does he have to keep re-subscribing? Maxim ain’t no Stuff; Stuff was Stuff. ‘Nuff said?)

Anyway, the article is all about how people have more sex (including kinkier sex) on vacation because they’re relaxed. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, the best vacation spots for steamy sex are literally hot spots, like the tropical islands. I think the only stereotypical thing Maxim missed in the trite and trashy Have Condom, Will Travel was a reference to powerful thrusting love swords.

Anyway, if your man’s a subscriber to Maxim and he suggests taking you away for a relaxing vay-cay, well, you know what he’s expecting.

maxim-have-condom-will-travel

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Of But-Tirades & Tirades About Arsehole Jon Gosselin

While fellow Twolia bloggers are debating Kate Gosselin (here — which I agree with — and here), I thought I’d point out what you can learn from Jon Gosselin’s latest stunt.

In front of cameras and people charged $20 a pop, non-Jewish Jon appeared with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach at New York City’s West Side Jewish Center on Sunday night to give what was touted to be his apology to his family & Kate. Only neither Jon nor the Rabbi seems to be aware of the fact that an apology followed by a but-tirade (as in “but she blah blah blah”) about the very person you’re supposedly apologizing to is no apology at all. It’s an attack. A passive-aggressive attack.

Something we’re all used to from Jon “It’s not my responsibility” Gosselin.

However, the lesson here is this: Don’t end your apology with a but — of any kind, let alone about the person you’re apologizing to. If you do, your but-tirade just makes you more of an ass.

Jon Replaces His 8 Plus?

Rumor has it that Jon (of Jon and Kate + 8) may be doing a “reality show” dating the Octomom. I heard it on some TV show or other, but Christine Navratil’s talking about it too.

What I don’t get is how they could even hope to apply the word “reality” to such a show. Everyone knows Jon’s not interested in settling down again (even the chick he professes to love can see that), let alone to a woman with kids; Jon can’t handle responsibility.

Oh, I’m sure Jon would sign the contract and do it, even have his kids participate (you remember his kids, the ones he’s saying shouldn’t be on TV now); but then it’s acting. Or whoring. Not really dating.

Tips For Dating A Married Man?!

At HelloBeautiful.com, Von-Anise McCoy posted No Judgement Fridays: Five Tips To Follow When Dating a Married Man. While I applaud the spirit of no judgements, and I certainly agree that a man or woman in a committed relationship is the one doing the cheating (not the one dating the married or previously committed person) and is one who will likely cheat regardless of your individual “yes” or “no,” I cannot applaud this article.

I take great issue with McCoy’s tips for what they represent: agreeing to a relationship with a person committed elsewhere is to agree to center the relationship based on their needs, not your own.

That is a tacit agreement to make yourself secondary, if not worse. And by “if not worse,” I refer not only to the number of your subjugated position on the list, but to the game playing involved.

The whole set-up is abusive — and when you agree to that, you abuse yourself.

Look at McCoy’s rules — spot the degradation, the use (abuse) of others, the game-playing and dishonesty which plagues not the married or committed person, but the one dating him/her and others involved!

You are number two in his world so play your position.

Keep a man and when I say man, I mean another male companion.

Low-income men are not an option.

Never say the three words, “I Love You!”

This last one is an oldie but a goodie: He is never leaving his wife for you, never, ever, ever no matter how much he may complain about their relationship.

The advice isn’t wrong; it’s all sound if you want to play that game. But who wants to play a game that defeats them at every turn, with no chance of winning because the game is skewed to screw them (literally & figuratively) while it panders to the married or taken?

Wouldn’t the best sound advice be to point out to these women just how unfair to themselves dating a married man is?

I agree these women do not need a morality lecture, but wouldn’t these women be best served by advice which points out the truth of their own willingness to settle for less the least for themselves?

Who Came Last, Brad Pitt Or Your Eggs? Maybe It Was You…

This economy has everyone worried about money, and more results from that sex survey in September’s Health magazine prove it.

According to that survey, women think men would rather have more money (53%) than more sex (47%). (My husband asks, “Why not more of both?”)

And a whopping 89% of the women asked aren’t above admitting that they’d prefer a $1,000 bonus at work over sex with Brad Pitt. As one respondent, “Katrina from Scottsboro, AL,” put it, “Brad Pitt would be nice, but I’m sure $1,000 would last a lot longer!”

I’m not sure if that’s a slight against Mr. Pitt, or if Katrina doesn’t have a large balance due on her electric bill, car loan, or MasterCard… In most cases, a phone call to make a payment on any bill — even with waiting on hold &/or pressing the keypad in response to prompts — lasts less than 4 minutes. I suspect Brad lasts longer than that; Katrina, I think you owe him an apology.

Anywhooooo…

The Health survey also reveals that 30% of (their surveyed) women would sell their eggs in a money crunch. And they aren’t talking about their hen’s eggs, either.

Apparently, the women Health surveyed came in a little under recent figures: “Our calls have just about doubled,” says Robin von Halle, president of Alternative Reproduction Resources in Chicago.

But the question was, “Who Came Last, Brad Pitt, your eggs, or you?” and sadly, it’s “you.” Or the women who took this survey anyway.  Because when asked to choose between financial security or orgasms every time they”do it,” 80% of the women opted for the money.

According to one “Susan” from North Carolina, she’s “perfectly happy with orgasms every other time!”

Uh, these poor women must not be having the orgasms I’m having.

I’d not trade my orgasms for money or “financial security” or all the money in the world.  In fact, my quality of life is directly tied to my ability to get off. Money may be a necessary evil; but there’s nothing evil about my orgasms.

Maybe Susan et all are “perfectly happy” with every other time… Maybe that’s a dream for them… Maybe they don’t know how to achieve their own orgasms by themselves… I don’t know. But it sure explains why they would turn down sex with Brad Pitt — even in a fantasy question. I know I can get myself a whole lot more “happy” just thinking about that than I can fantasizing about spending one grand.

(As usual, you can click the image to get a large scan.)

sept-health-4

Money & Career Woes Affect Sex Lives (Who-da-thunk!)

More from that What’s Sexy Now survey published in the September issue of Health magazine, the surprising reveal that only 25% of women claim to have used sex to get their partner out of a money or career funk.

I find that very hard to believe. Not because women are manipulative, but every relationship expert and mental health professional knows that the endorphins from sex lift spirits and personal connections bond & build already secure relationships — sex is quite often a helpful, healthy suggestion for what ails people in monogamous sexual relationships. And the question is “have tried,” not “were successful.

If these women didn’t out-and-out lie, and it’s a strong possibility, it’s only because a “money or career funk” is actually depression for most men — and when men are depressed, their sex drive takes a big dive. Men’s self-image and identities are very connected to their work; their self-worth is directly connected to their libidos. Further proof lies in the survey results in which half the respondents (or their men) gave the old “Not tonight, honey” because of work and/or money worries.

Click the image to read more results from the survey.

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How Rude!

An “Emmy Award Winning Talk Show” has placed the following casting call: I May Break-up With You…Because You’re TOO Rude!

Is it just me, or is the person who responds to this equally — if not more — rude as the person they are complaining about?

Even if the casting call insists, “Don’t write in unless both of you are willing to appear on a national TV show,” can you imagine that conversation?

“Uh, honey, we need to talk…”

Sighs as they silently think, “Oh crap!” — but replies, with a tentative, “Now what?” (Or maybe because they are in fact rude, they reply with “Crap, now what?”)

She continues, “We need to talk… On national television.”

“Whaaa?”

“About how rude you are.”

“How rude I am? How rude I am?! What the f***?! Can you even spell irony?”

Health Reader Survey: What’s Sexy Now?

In this month’s issue of Health, reader survey results on the subject of sex.

sept-health-mag-sexy-now

Some survey results (and my comments):

75% believe that it is cheating to have a secret e-mail relationship with an old flame

I do believe the “secret” part is a problem, as it connotes an attempt to cover-up. My husband never asks me who I email… If I would be emailing with a former boyfriend or lover, would that mean I would be lying or keeping a secret by omission? Or does his not asking just mean he doesn’t care about my endless emailing? *wink*

34% are friends with an old boyfriend on Facebook or another social networking site

Please note that this apparently includes being friended by one’s 8th grade boyfriend; call me old fashioned, or just plain old, but one’s 8th grade boyfriend is a rather harmless — near forget-able relationship, online or off.)

33% are keeping the social network friending of old boyfriends a secret

If it’s the 8th grade or high school varieties, it isn’t the fear of a “wildly jealous husband” that keeps you mum, it’s the embarrassment, dears.

64% say they “absolutely do not” mention their sex lives via Twitter or other social media site, saying it’s “a perfect example of TMI” — yet 29% “might” read someone else’s “sex tweets”

I suspect this has more to do with people “marketing” aka spamming themselves via Twitter et all and therefore aren’t showing any real aspects of themselves to begin with. But how can your sex live be any more ridiculous than discussing your love or reality television? And perhaps more importantly, how can tweeting about your sex life be any less alienating, personal and off-putting then disclosing your politics or religious preaching? Now that’s too much information.

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(As always, click the pics for larger scans.)

Now this next one (the last one I’ll cover today) is very interesting…

The questions was: Whose affair would be more likely to end your relationship?

The response: 41% said their own affair; 59% said his affair.

Naturally, this discloses that Health has limited it’s questioning to heterosexual couples; uncool. But the question itself, the apparent answer options, and the answers themselves are sort of confusing — not because of the nearly 50-50 split, but because I’m not sure how the respondents interpreted the question… Were they answering that his affair would mean he was ready to move on, so their relationship would end? Or did they mean that they would, selfishly, be (albeit slightly) less tolerant of his affair then they expect him to be of their own?

I’m not sure how I would interpret the Q & A, so I’m completely unclear as to my own answer.

There’s more from this survey, but I’m saving it for later.

New Film Explores Sex Offender Status

A December 8, 2009 DVD release date has been set for the new dramatic film Warning!!! Pedophile Released, starring Kai Lanette, Sean Cain, Shane Ryan and Molly Wryn.

warning_pedophile_panic_film_poster

Synopsis
An 18-year old boy is accused of molesting a 12-year old girl. They call each other “soul mates” and claim they never more than kissed. He’s put away for 6 years and she waits for him but in the meantime is beaten, gang-raped, impregnated and thrown out onto the streets only to eventually turn to a life of drugs, theft and prostitution. Did society make things better for her by putting this “sex offender“ behind bars? And when he’s released can they ever go back to how things once were? This is the story of true love.

DVD details
110 minutes, color and black & white, ntsc, 16×9, not rated, 2009 production

Trailers for the film can be found here:

http://vimeo.com/4961420
http://vimeo.com/5646592
http://vimeo.com/5586389

Questions? Contact Alter Ego Cinema at alteregocinema@yahoo.com for more information.

wpr-official-poster

Quick, Check Your Stone Tablet For The Date!

A recent study reports that today, in 2009, 71% of Americans think women should take their spouses name after marriage — and half of the respondents said the act should be a legal requirement!

Researchers from Indiana University and University of Utah say these findings come despite a clear shift to more gender-neutral language. “The figures were a bit sobering for us because there seems to be change in so many areas. If names are a core aspect of our identity, this is important,” said Brian Powell, professor of sociology at IU Bloomington. “There are all these reports and indicators that families are changing, that men are contributing more, that we’re moving toward a more equal family, yet there’s no indication that we’re seeing a similar move to equality when it comes to names.”

Laura Hamilton, the Indiana University associate professor who lead study, was interviewed at NYDailyNews:

When the respondents were asked why they felt women should change their name after the wedding, Hamilton says, “They told us that women should lose their own identity when they marry and become a part of the man and his family. This was a reason given by many.”

Other respondents said they felt the marital name change was essential for religious reasons or as a practical matter.

“They said the mailman would get confused and that society wouldn’t function as well if women did not change their name,” Hamilton says.

Americans who feel that women should take their husband’s last name also tend to be conservative in other areas, according to Hamilton.

“Asked if they thought of a lesbian couple as a family, those who believe that women should take their husband’s name are less likely to say yes,” she says. “If you’re more liberal about the name change issue, you tend to include a larger population in the definition of family.”

Breast Implants Identify Murder Victim

Playboy model Jasmine Fiore has been found murdered. Her body was badly beaten & naked, left in an Los Angels trash bin on Saturday — her fingers & teeth “forcibly removed” in an apparent attempt to not have the body be identified, but her remains were identified by the serial numbers on her breast implants. (Now there’s something many feminists don’t know about the benefits of breast implants!) The preliminary coroner’s report indicates that Miss Fiore was strangled.

Her former husband, Ryan Alexander Jenkins (formerly a contestant on VH1’s reality show Megan Wants a Millionaire) is wanted for questioning. You can read all the details here; but here are some of the warning signs people should have heeded:

Court records show that Mr Jenkins was charged in June in Clark County, Nevada, with a misdemeanour count of “domestic violence” when he was accused of hitting Miss Fiore on her arm.

Mr Jenkins was also charged with assaulting his girlfriend in July 2005 in Calgary and given a conditional discharge with 15 months probation.

I may have more to say about this; but I have to go cry & throw-up first.

Why Do They Stay?

One of the things people have difficulty understanding about domestic violence is why the victim of abuse stays with his or her abuser. There are many reasons, but a very common one is dependence.

Not just financial dependence, but utter dependence… Self-esteem is so shattered — especially when compared to the batterer’s physical & emotional power, the latter of which extends to public life past the home.

It’s rather like the domesticity of dogs: your life, no matter how good or bad it is, depends upon that being, so you are ever alert to their whims, wishes and commands. You please them because your life, such that it is, depends upon them.

This is greatly multiplied if you have children or others dependent upon you.

If this seems too simplistic or unflattering for humans; if you can’t see how, in reality, being a human trained for another human’s service is worse… That you are held hostage… That you become grateful for the scraps…. Check out Dr Joseph M Carver’s Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser.

~~~

This post is part of the blogathon for Hope For Healing.

You can help too: Comment, link, Tweet & use this special link to iSearch.iGive.comclicking it and performing searches will raise money for HopeForHealing.Org.

Maybe You’re Not Juliet

When Chelsie Hightower & Mark Kanemura Dance danced to Leona Lewis’ Bleeding Love on So You Think You Can Dance (choreography by Napoleon & Tabitha D’Uma), I was mesmerized…

But the lyrics disturbed me; doubly so when the girls, my daughters, began singing it. Especially the chorus.

But I don’t care what they say
I’m in love with you
They try to pull me away
But they don’t know the truth
My heart’s crippled by the vein
That I keep on closing
You cut me open and I

Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love
I keep bleeding
I keep, keep bleeding love
Keep bleeding
Keep, keep bleeding love
You cut me open

Now, technically, according to the full song lyrics, neither the cutting nor the bleeding is real; it’s metaphorical teenage poetry expressing the pain of trusting and loving after having been hurt before by others. But…

There’s also this part:

But I don’t care what they say
I’m in love with you

Whoever “they” is, be it family or friends, why don’t you trust them?

I know it’s social acceptable — required, even — for teens to rebel. (And love songs are filled with teenaged angst & longing, even if they aren’t of the pop variety — which Bleeding Love is.) Teens aren’t supposed to trust their parents. But parents are the very same people teens have to thank for keeping them alive all these years. They don’t have an ulterior motive. They want you alive, safe & happy — even if your definitions of the latter differ greatly.

And what if it’s your friends who don’t like the guy — or girl? OK, occasionally, you have a frenemy who wants the dude (or babe) for themselves… But if you aren’t wise enough to keep away from frenemies, you probably aren’t mature enough to date (or have sex) anyways.

My point is, unless what “they” say is that you shouldn’t date or be with him is because he’s too short, or her nose is too big, or some other superficial thing, shouldn’t you at least listen to their reasoning & evaluate it for yourself?

They try to pull me away
But they don’t know the truth

Oh, you might be temped in that dramatic romantic way to believe you know more than “they” do — but really, why would “they” try to pull you away unless they saw or knew something was bad or even dangerous?

Ignoring the people who’ve known you longer, if not better than anyone else; resisting the warnings of the people who’ve cared for you, invested time and money in you, because you want to be right or play Romeo & Juliet, is not maturity. (See comments about frenemies.)

It scares me when I hear songs with lyrics like these… Hear people singing along, like it’s a mantra… Romanticizing “forbidden love” to the extent that they mistake warning signs for meddling, mistake dangers for a chance to prove themselves “right” rather than being safe.

True love doesn’t hit, soul mates don’t control or hurt you, and families & friends (the “they” sung about) don’t lie about your safety — the people who love you, family members & friends, want to like & love who you love. At the very least, they don’t want to upset you — but “they” will upset you, try to pull you away from things & people who are not good for you.

Maybe you’re not Juliet.

So maybe there’s no reason to drink from the poison cup.

~~~

This post is part of the blogathon for Hope For Healing, a wonderful event raising awareness of domestic violence & funds for supporting victims.

Twolia generously sponsored me, and you can help too! Comment, link, Tweet my posts!

And use this special link to iSearch.iGive.com to perform searches; it will raise money for HopeForHealing.Org.

Got Love Boat Stories?

To celebrate National Romance Week, Princess Cruises has joined with Cruise Critic to conduct a search for real-life love stories that have taken place on the decks of Princess ships; Deanna just wants to impress Captain Stubing. *wink*

This (quick) post is part of the blogathon for Hope For Healing, raising money for & awareness of domestic violence; use this special link to iSearch.iGive.com — clicking it and performing searches will raise money for HopeForHealing.Org.

It’s National Romance Week

National Romance Week was established in 1995 by Michael Webb. Set the second full week in August, it’s six moth opposite to Valentine’s Day is by design because Webb intended this week to celebrate romance by focusing on people & relationships — spending time and attention, not money on “things” &/or events, like going out to fancy dinners.

Webb, who does sell romance on his websites, says, “Real romance comes from the heart, not the wallet” — but he does offer free tips, including a free 101 Romantic Ideas ebook to those who subscribe to his free newsletters. So, if you’re stuck for “things to do that show you care,” you can get the generic commonsense tips & give ’em a try.

In this economy, who couldn’t use a reminder that love & romance & need not have a price tag?

My advice, however, is to begin by doing as Web says and focus on the person in your life and think about what pleases him or her specifically. You know, those wishes & requests they make everyday…

From “more sex” to “pick up your socks,” from saying “yes” to the request for a back massage to saying “no” to another invite to dinner during an already busy week, from “put the toilet seat down” to picking the kids up (from the mall, soccer practice, etc.), from letting her have the remote to not acting so remote…

Huh, maybe I should write 101 tips book. *wink*

Oprah: At Least 6 Years Late On Domestic Violence

The August 2009 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, has a feature story (beginning on page 154, after the book reviews?!) on how the laws against domestic violence aren’t enforced. The piece, titled “Why Didn’t They Stop Him?” (by Phoebe Zerwick, photographs by Mary Ellen Mark) is an excellent one — and long overdue.

Not only did I pitch this story roughly 6 years ago to Oprah, but the horrible especially because it’s true story of the ordeal of Vernetta Cockerham which resulted in her daughter’s murder is really only half the story.

Every time I start to blog about Oprah and her ignorant stance on domestic violence (she thinks it’s as simple as leaving), I get so infuriated I have to quit; I have 7 posts in draft to prove it. And this one will be short so that I can finally get to posting something without getting so outraged or ill that I cannot continue.

For the past 6 years I’ve contacted Oprah by every means I could find: via her website’s online form, via email, via phone messages at Harpo, and even spoke directly to producers of the show — who told me the half-dozen books and another half-dozen studies on the subject weren’t enough; call back when I published my own book.

Grrr — I’m in the middle of a battle for my own safety & that of my children; the book, and 1 million other things, will have to wait.

Wait for the day someone wants to open their minds to the realities — before another woman &/or her child(ren) dies.

Yes, Oprah, I told you about the Massachusetts study in 2000 which said that as many as 60-80% of restraining orders are not enforced; and I have the personal experiences to prove it. Running from my abuser kinda kept me a bit too busy to write that book.

Yes, I told your staff about the U.S. Department of Justice study that same year which said that arrests were only made in:

47% of the cases in which the victim reported being raped

36% of the cases in which the victim reported being assaulted

29% of the cases in which the victim reported being stalked.

I especially went into great detail about what happens when children are involved in domestic violence cases.

And I emphatically stated how all of this not only results in victims having a loss of faith in the system, how it not only results in keeping victims with their abusers, but how it is further abuse of victims by the system & how it impacts the children involved.

I even offered to put myself at further risk by going on-air to discuss this.

So, while I applaud you for finally getting to the truth of some of the matters involved in domestic violence, Oprah, I wonder why it took you so long? Especially when you had 6 years of my nagging.

I wonder how much longer it will take for you to heed my voice and take up the other issues I have brought to your attention?

And I wonder how many more women & children will suffer & die during that time.

But I guess death just sells more that saving lives, doesn’t it; don’t worry, continue to ignore us, and you’ll have more deaths to put on the cover of your publications.

Oprah, and staff, be prepared for more calls & emails from me.

Royal Pains, Crazy Love, Stereotypes, Abuse Excuse, & Big Fines

Last night’s Royal Pains gave me a royal pain in my donkey. Normally I love the show (especially the MacGyver-medical stuff), but last night…

UGH.

One of the plots in this episode (titled Crazy Love) revolves around a “passionate Latino couple” from Caracas. (I’ll spare you my diatribe on the stereotypical ick of that — and most of the hour long show’s plot — and just get to the part that makes me want to slap Royal Pains with a fine.) “Passionate Latina” Sophie (played by the lovely Roselyn Sanchez), discovers that along with paying for her boob job, her adoring husband (who is having financial troubles and so fears his beautiful wife will leave him) has had a GPS device implanted in her without her permission. This is discovered when she’s having an MRI and the device tries to pop through her chest (incredibly gross!), and gives her radiation poisoning.

royal-pains-promo-stillWe never see Sophia upset (though the concierge doc, when confronting the husband with moral & medical outrage, tells the husband to “give her some space now” — and Divya, when asked by the doc how Sophia is doing, says, “She just keeps saying (in mocking Spanish accent), ‘Why me? Why me?'”). When Sophia lays in the hospital bed, recovering from the surgery to save her from the radiation poisoning, her sheepish husband shows up at the door to her room and asks if he may come in. Sophia says yes; he says he’s so sorry. Sophia’s reply?

(Get ready for it, because it’s so infuriating!)

Sophia’s reply to her controlling spouse who has had her secretively implanted with a GPS device so that he can track her, to a man who nearly killed her with such abusive behavior, is… “I didn’t know you loved me so much.” And then they kiss so much that everyone leaves the room.

Ho-ly crap.

Didn’t anyone during the writing, acting, editing — any part of making this show — violently puke at the idea of even suggesting a happy, sexy, “forgive & forget” reaction to the discovery that a man has violated his wife by secretively implanting her with a tracking device?!

I guess it’s all a-OK because he was stressed over money & insecure; isn’t that the excuse we so often offer abusers? We see the incidents (at least the reports) increase during times of economic down-turns, and we study those connections, but do nothing about it — other than use it to justify, to excuse the control & violence.  Here, in this show, literally.

And they didn’t even leave it at that!

This lovely-dovey stuff makes Divya covet such passion for herself with her (presumably arranged) engagement. Barf barf barf barf barf.

Isn’t one woman mistaking love for abuse enough? No, you had to show us another woman craving it, thinking that’s the secret sauce missing from her happiness sandwich.

Knowing all this, doesn’t it make the episode’s title of Crazy Love wildly inappropriate? You’re going to inform us that you can check for blood type matches in a jiffy using a silver tray, but you’ll pass along the dangerous mythinformation that love = control?  Bad math, bad science, bad idea.

Shame on all of you at Royal Pains. I sentence to you to a fine of $60 million to, payable to two different abuse & crisis centers (each receiving $30 million) — one organization specifically helping Hispanic women.

And don’t ever do this again. I want to keep watching your show — but if you ever do this again… Well, let’s just say that I doubt you’ll be responding to me with a “I didn’t know you loved me so much.”

This One’s For Jon & Kate

I know you’re probably sick of Jon & Kate + 8 talk, but…

I just don’t get why people keep on calling Kate Gosselin the bitch when it’s so obvious that Jon’s a passive-aggressive jerk. Well, I got it at first; passive-aggressives always make the other person look like the bad guy — and that public perception combined with the private hell that is living with a passive-aggressive spouse will drive you crazy. It truly is a special kind of hell.

I know; I’ve lived it.

And I wish people — especially now that they know all the BS Jon’s done (the dating, the spreading rumors about Kate, the complete self-absorption) — would just stop blaming Kate.

I’ll admit that I’ve been a fan of the show for years, but I’ve been complaining about Jon since I first saw it. In fact, that’s why my husband often won’t watch the show with me; he hates to hear me bitch about how lazy Jon is, about how Kate has to plan & do everything because Jon can’t or won’t initiate anything that’s not about his selfish needs.

Arg! I really dislike that man — and those like him.

So when I spotted this at a rummage sale recently, I had to snap it up. The vintage metal trivet, now on my wall, reads, “If more husbands were self-starters the wife wouldn’t have to be a crank.”

more-husbands-self-starters-wife-would-not-have-to-be-a-crank

It’s funny because it’s so true.

And serves as a little reminder of reality for all who enter my home. But Kate, if you want this, contact me and I’ll send it to you, darlin’. I am so understanding of & sympathetic towards you & your position.

Sensationalized Sexist TV That’s Mean To Men?

Have you seen these screaming headlines yet:

Is your boyfriend/husband HAIRY and you are sick of it?? Now Casting

and

America’s Uggliest Husband — Is he yours?

Can you imagine if we saw headlines & programs dedicated to calling women ugly? If we saw casting calls announcing how husbands who were sick of their wives looks could get help — as if it were acceptable?

The media would have a field day, bringing on expert after expert to discuss female body image pressures & concerns & how this sort of valuing females for their looks was abusive. But do it about men? Oh, that’s fine.

Not.

Even if women are taught to be more (self) conscious about their appearance and so are (often) more obsessed with make-overs etc., even if these shows are aimed at a (materialistic  & superficial) female audience who wants to see men transformed back to some snazzier (more romantic novel looking) version of themselves, these sorts of shows are just plain mean.

Double-standards flipped back to bite the sexist stereotypical hand that feeds them BS are not what equality & respect are about.  Physical makeovers and unrealistic romantic notions are not the stuff that gets you through a healthy, longterm relationship. And dragging your mate in for a show which wants to make him less hairy because “you are sick of it” or pronounces him “ugliest” is a sure way to run your relationship off of a cliff.

If you’re really considering such a thing as being on such a TV show, just ask for a divorce, you shameless bitch.  Don’t prolong the guy’s agony, don’t encourage shows like this — and don’t let me hear about it. I have rolled-up newspaper; will travel.

Is He Just Killing Time With You Until The Next (Or Better) Girl Comes Along?

Have you ever wondered if your mate would stray if given the chance? Do you question if you should trust he or she? Have you been dating for a short period of time and question how committed they are to the relationship? Instead of going the mature route, why not put them to the test with hidden cameras — and then broadcast it on television?

Pitman Casting is now casting men and women for a new relationship gameshow which will test your mate’s intentions with the help of hidden cameras.

Mmm, sounds exploitative and humiliating; but if you’re into that sort of a tasty bitter dish, email photos of you and your mate as well as a paragraph about your relationship to: castingmate@gmail.com

Tell ’em Alessia of Relationship Underarm Stick sent you (and sure, tell ’em I mocked it too lol).

Is Paying For Phone Sex Infidelity?

Hi Alessia,

I’ve been happily but stressfully married to my husband for 5 years. I say “stressfully” because my job takes me away from home & to other countries for weeks & even months at a time. As a result, we’ve had to really work on communication and our sex lives long distance.

Recently my husband confided that he’s been using phone sex services to help, umm, bridge the gap in sexual loneliness and frustration while I’m way.  I honestly didn’t know what to say…

I’ve got really mixed emotions — and logical reactions — to this.  On one hand, he’s not physically cheating, just masturbating; and I totally understand his needs because I certainly use a lot of batteries in my hotel rooms. I know he watches/downloads porn, and that doesn’t bother me at all. But on the other hand, he’s interacting with another (other) women.  And because phone sex is all we have for long periods of time, I feel more than a bit jealous.  But then I go back to the facts, which are that with time differences etc., there are weeks when not even that is possible…

Alessia, can you help me figure this out so that I can understand myself well enough to communicate with him?

Thanks so much!

Kate

Dear Kate,

First of all, the matter of what is or isn’t cheating is something that the two of you must decide on.  It’s one of those areas that couples think is “so obvious” that they often don’t discuss it; but then you’ve got a relationship — and in this case, because you are married, a commitment — based on assumptions.  You know what happens with those.

(At this point, the cheating guideline are the horse already out of the barn; but I have to mention this need to clearly define your idea of “cheating” and coming to an understanding & agreement with your partner about the issue for other readers.)

So now you find yourself in this ambiguous situation; so let’s deal with that.

Since you said that you don’t mind his use of adult materials, at least while you’re away, I’m going to believe that you’re not just jealous in general for his *ahem* affections.  Porn usually upsets women more than erotica… Since you’re OK with his use of porn I have to say that personally, I don’t find paying for professional phone sex providers much different than erotic stories. Other than the ability to shop for the specific character you want and the ability to “write your own stories” with an interactive person, as opposed to a static erotic text or audio story, what’s the harm?

There’s no shared fluids; and because she’s a professional, she likely isn’t at all considering running off with your man like some girl in an IM or chat room. He’s just a guy paying (or helping to pay) her bills.

That’s no different than the girl in the films & photos, right?

So I’m gathering your personal reaction of jealousy & discomfort comes from two fear-filled places.

One, a fear that because she is real (not a fictional character that only exists & remains fixed in a written or read story) that there is the potential for your husband and the phone sex girl(s) to talk about other things…

For example, if he’s calling one of these women to discuss his bad day at the office, his loneliness without you, etc., rather than telling his buddies or family members, then perhaps there is more to their relationship than “just sex.”  If he’s growing dependent upon one phone sex provider for something more akin to a relationship — and that’s at the expense of your relationship as husband & wife — then you might want to establish clear boundaries.  Remember, though, do not accuse him of such emotional dependence or infidelities out of your fear; tell him of your concerns and establish whatever boundaries you have regarding them.

The second fear is likely that of performance anxiety.

We women can be very insecure creatures.  Just as some of us take our man’s lusty delight of a swimsuit model’s figure and turn it into fear that we will never measure up to that standard, you could be feeling that you will not be able to “give good phone sex” as well as a professional phone sex operator.  Since phone sex is one of the few ways that you and your husband can remain sexually & romantically intimate while you travel, this fear is likely increased.  But remember, you have lots of things the phone sex girls don’t, including the fact that he knows (and therefore can “see”) your body (always a great asset for turning men on), you have an intimate knowledge of his body & emotions (you know the buttons to push), a history to build on (“remember that time we…”), and the power of longing (he misses you!). Phone sex girls don’t stand a chance against you!

I suggest that you consider these issues for awhile and ask yourself not only how much they apply to you, but if these issues were removed, how much of a non-issue would his use of phone sex services be?

And once you have those answers, yes, communicate your thoughts, needs, and fears to him. And listen to his.  I suggest you long distance lovers do this via email so that you have time to carefully word what you have to say so that you are asserting your concerns without being attacking and accusatory. Plus, then you can save your precious phone time for *ahem* more fun conversations.

Let me know how it goes!

Alessia

When He’s (Sexually) Shrinking From You, Violet

In response to my “Helping You Get In The Mood” Contest, Violet writes in:

Hey, Alessia,

I have the opposite problem — I’m always ready and my husband’s never ever in the mood.

I’ve tried all the crappy magazine suggestions and the tips from your readers in response to your contest, but all I have is more rejection.

Any ideas besides spiking his coffee with little blue pills disguised as sugar cubes?

Thanks,
Violet

Violet, your situation is not as unique as you might think — frustrating & painful, yes; but it’s not rare for women to have, err, blue ovaries.

First, I’m hoping you read this — and this. Because that will save us all some time & ovary-ache.

Second, please consider having hubby get a check-up — and not just for the plumbing & physical parts, but for depression & other mental health issues. One of the most typical signs from men who are struggling with anxiety &/or depression issues is a lack of interest in sex. (Over) simply put, they do not feel worthy of having sex. It’s the emotional equivalent of women packing on the pounds (whether depressed or not) whereby males think they are not “masculine” enough in terms of “success” etc.

However, if hubby passes such screenings & is otherwise fine, the honest to gawd’s truth is the exact opposite of what most women’s & men’s mags tell you.

Cover text screams that men want sexually aggressive women — but that’s a lie. A big fat stinking lie.

At least for some men.

“Aggressive” should not be confused with “confidence”; confidence is sexy period, no matter the person or the gender. But when it comes to making the moves, giving out the sexual invitations, many men (unless they are into Dominatrix scenarios) literally shrink from sexual offers, Violet.

And it’s not just about the pressure to perform; it’s about a perception of your sexual value.

I know I’m going to get a bunch of men (and women) telling me this is BS. But please spare me your anecdotal evidence; I’ve got my own & I raise you some basic evolutionary evidence.

Men are hunters, providers; they are the risk-taking, chest-beating victors to whom the sexual spoils go because they have won. In this case, they’ve won “the woo” so they get to bed you.

Now, when you, female of the species, are on the sexual hunt yourself — especially when you are living with them or are otherwise sexually available to them — men no longer have to work, woo or win you & your favors. They lose interest because there is a shift (in their perception) of your value.

If you think I’m nuts, ask yourself why so many men are led around like bulls with rings in their noses by spoiled princess-types who demand trinkets or deeds in order to put out.

Some men just have to work for it in order for it to be any good.

Some women think, instinctively, that they can ignite more heat with a few sparks of jealousy; but don’t do it. Even if it works in the short-term, it’s eventually likely to garner you additional issues to sort out — and doesn’t he already have enough reasons not to go to bed with you? Let’s not add insecurities about your faithfulness to the mix. Not to mention that he might feel it’s fair game now for him to go after those other birds rather than your bush…

No, the best way to increase your sexual value & “up” his desire, is to have him think it’s all his idea — that he’s worked for “it” or talked you into “it.”

How?

For starters, just stop asking, hinting, insinuating and throwing yourself at him. I don’t mean become a cold mean bitch; just make yourself a little less obviously available… Instead of suggesting sex (verbally or by lounging naked in Saran-wrap), just relax.

It may mean dialing down your sex drive — pushing it out of your mind so that you aren’t watching the clock, expecting that since 15 minutes (or a two days) has passed, that he out to be lunging at you by now. And if you are having difficulty doing that, let me remind you that May is Masturbation Month. Spend some quality time with yourself — it will relax you in any case. (He’s likely doing it — otherwise how does he manage to function? If he’s not, I’d really drag him in for medical care — seriously.)

Generally speaking, a few days or weeks maybe and most men find themselves thinking of you in that way…  From there, you’ll likely find a balance for yourself between “aggressive” and “willing” that won’t feel like game-playing.

If you honestly have dialed down your sexual pursuit of him and he’s still just not that willing to get into you, then seek counseling. Because something’s just not right.