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  • Why I Was Wrong About the Patriarchy (and Why It Doesn’t Matter)

    April 17, 2013
    Why I Was Wrong About the Patriarchy (and Why It Doesn’t Matter) © google images
    Nearly 3 years ago, I wrote a blog post asking: “Does the patriarchy really exist?” and enjoyed the spirited debate it generated. But recently, I’ve realized that I was absolutely wrong about the issue.

    I’ve come to realize now that of course “the patriarchy exists” – just not in the way it had ever been “sold” to me as a concept.

    I Blame the Feminists

    I blame those who call themselves feminists, to be honest. Like in so many things, their dogmatic beliefs are often grounded in reality, but phrased incredibly crudely. You need look no further than “all men are potential rapists” to understand what I mean (no, not all men are potential rapists – but given the frequency of sexual assault, women must assume that any man she meets could potentially be a rapist. The latter description is a sad observation; the former is a sexist and offensive accusation.)

    Likewise, every time a feminist refers to “the patriarchy”, it’s in a way that seems to imply that there’s a shadowy cabal of sinister men pulling the strings of this malevolent conspiracy – perhaps sipping cognac in the Sky Room of the Chrysler Building as they plot out the continued oppression of vagina-owners worldwide.

    That was the “patriarchy” I had been presented with – and brushed off as laughably absurd.

    But I’ve come to realize now that despite their clunky language, the “patriarchy” feminists refer to is a very real thing. It’s so real, in fact – so intrinsic to our daily lives – that the reason so few of us recognize it is because it’s as natural to us at the air we breathe.

    The patriarchy, you see, is just another name for the type of society we live in.

    We live in a “patriarchal” society – one which historically has had men in charge of it.

    The alternative – as realized in countless science fiction novels (my favorite being Edmund Cooper’s “Who Needs Men?”) – would be a “matriarchal” society, in which women are in control.

    So the “patriarchy” is how our society developed, and how it exists now, albeit in a much diluted form from how it was just a few decades ago.

    In a patriarchy, men and women are encouraged to adopt gendered roles. Society teaches men that they should be “the breadwinner” and the provider, and the fact that most of our leaders are men is simply an extension of how the strongest members of the tribe – the men – were the ones who became their chieftains and defenders.

    In contrast, our patriarchal society encourages women to be mothers and homemakers; and despite decades of feminism and a more equal society than mankind has ever experienced before, many women are more than happy to adopt that role.

    And that’s the secret about “the patriarchy” - the majority of both women and men enthusiastically embrace this type of society. In fact, while most women ostensibly support the concept of equality, they still support patriarchal traditions like men opening doors for them, paying for dinner during a date, and other quaint customs like that. (To paraphrase one male friend of mine: “Women’ll only be equal when they’re willing to get that spider out of the bathtub their damn selves.)

    “The patriarchy” isn’t a sinister conspiracy, like the feminists try to tell us it is. It’s just the way society is. In another lifetime, it could have been the other way around. (In fact, in some tribes and societies, that’s exactly what it is.)

    So when you’ve come to understand what the nature of “the patriarchy” is, it suddenly puts all the feminist dogma into a starkly different light.

    Most of us who claim to be sex positive don’t challenge the feminist belief that the “patriarchy” is a bad thing – but perhaps we should do! After all, what is the alternative?

    Now I’ve come to understand its existence, I’ve realized that the “patriarchy” is as much a part of American culture as capitalism. It’s a societal construct; and ultimately only as “good” or “bad” as those who live it.

    Feminists who attack the concept of the “patriarchy” are kind of like the self-identified socialists who attack the concept of American capitalism. They have a legitimate conceptual belief that the way our society is run needs to change – but while we can respect that belief system, we don’t need to accept it.

    Capitalism has its bad points – but most Americans wouldn’t want to live in any other type of society. Likewise, the patriarchy presents serious issues for both men and women (although as a society, we’re all working to address those) but most people who live in a patriarchal society are actually okay with the expectations it places on them as men or women.

    Tearing down the “patriarchy” is like tearing down capitalism – it is the fundamental destruction of the way our society is currently ordered. And while I can actually understand people who want that to happen, I think we need to stop for a second and realize that this is an extreme belief.

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  • Dear Daughter: Live Without Limits

    March 13, 2013
    Dear Daughter: Live Without Limits
    In a few days, I’m having another baby. In recognition of International Women’s Day, here’s what I’d like to tell her about life, if she’s a girl.

    Dear Coco,

    Welcome to the world! You’re going to love it here.

    First off – your name. Don’t worry; it’s not permanent. Mum and I didn’t know whether you were going to be a boy or a girl until the moment you arrived, so “Coco” is a nickname your Auntie Clare came up with.

    You’re going to love your Auntie Clare, by the way.

    Now that you’ve arrived, we’ll be saddling you with a truly magnificent, equally improbable name soon enough.

    Secondly – now you’ve arrived, there are some things you need to know.

    You’re a woman, and you’re American – which basically means you’ve won the lottery of life.

    As you grow up, you’re going to encounter a lot of people who call themselves “feminists”. They’ll tell you that, as a woman, society is a horrible place and you’re an oppressed victim of a shadowy thing called “the patriarchy”, but – as you’ll soon discover – a lot of so-called feminists are full of bullshit.

    Coco, you have been born into the best era for women ever. It’s only going to get better, and you’re going to play a vital role in making sure of that.

    Women in America today enjoy more rights, more freedoms and more recognition than at any other point in history. And right now, we’re watching the beginnings of a cultural shift take place, in which highly educated women are starting to take the lead in politics, business, science and engineering.

    It’s been a long time coming – today is only the “best” era for women because it’s been kind of shitty for them for the rest of the 100,000 years leading up to this point – but be aware that you’re going to become an adult in a world that, for the first time ever, will potentially be ruled by women.

    But don’t think that’s going to make it easy for you.

    One of the first challenges you’re going to face being a woman is that everybody and their mother (including your own mother) will expect you to look, and act, and talk a certain way. Your presence will be challenging to them, and they will want you to conform to an expectation that makes them feel comfortable. People – especially other women – want to control women.

    From kindergarten to adulthood, you’re going to be pulled left and right by other people’s expectations; and if you ever intend to be happy in your life, you have to ignore all of them.

    One of the reasons so many women are so miserable, even in our modern era of equality, is because they are trying desperately to meet the expectations of other people without ever taking time to think about what it is they want, for themselves.

    There are women who get themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars into student loan debt, and sacrifice relationships, friendships – even sleep – climbing the corporate ladder because they were told “you need to have a career.”

    There are women who marinate in frustration as stay-at-home moms, popping out 2.5 children and cooking and cleaning and driving a mini-van, because they were told “you need to have a family”.

    Then there are the wretched bitches who are slowly losing their sanity in a vain attempt to do both; because they got sold on the expectation that women can and should “have it all.”

    I’m telling you right now – decide what it is you want from your life, and don’t let anybody else’s expectations get in the way of achieving that.

    Only you have the power to make your world the way you want it to be, and if you give up that power – to a husband or partner, or to the expectations of feminism – you merely become a jigsaw piece in somebody else’s world. That will never make you happy.

    And that’s the secret people don’t tell you – that you have the power to shape your world. Life is literally like a vending machine, in that you select what you want out of life, put in the correct payment (in the form of hard work, focus and determination) and hold out your hands to (eventually) receive what it is you set your mind on having.

    Society is going to lie to you, and tell you that this isn’t how things work. Feminists, especially, are going to try and sell you on a mentality of victimhood – that the evils of a patriarchal society are keeping good women like you down, so there’s no point in even trying to succeed.

    But the “victim” mentality is just an excuse. Sure, it’s tougher for women to achieve the same things (or, hopefully, greater things) than a man, but just because it’s tougher, doesn’t mean it’s impossible or not worth doing.

    The successful women of this era are the ones who just went out and fucking did it – and that’s what you should do, too. Oprah Winfrey was raised in a poor, black neighborhood and became the most powerful woman in the world. Hate on her all you want, but Sarah Palin became governor of the biggest state in the Union, and got closer to the White House than any woman before her, and she did it all without the free ride that was the fact she shared her last name with a former president.

    You have the world at your fingertips. You were born in the country in which more opportunity awaits you than anywhere else on Earth. You can be – and have – absolutely anything you want out of life. And the only person standing in the way of that is yourself.

    But as you grow up, you will face a sustained onslaught of criticism and complaint, and obstacles both physical and mental, thrown at you by a society that is terrified of your success.

    People – and feminists especially, because you’re a woman – won’t want you to achieve your ambitions, or do great things, or live on your own terms, because it is a raw and painful reminder that they haven’t done the same.

    In life, you will be surrounded by people who consider the rewards of your hard work an insult to them; who believe that they can bring equality and balance to society not by rising up, but by dragging you down.

    And the greatest weapon in their arsenal is the ability to make you doubt yourself.

    So, ignore them. Look at life through your own eyes. Have faith in your dreams, and faith in your power to achieve them. And if you ever falter, know this: The question isn’t who is going to let you; it’s who is going to stop you.

    And the answer? Is nobody.

    You’re a woman. And you’re magnificent. And I cannot wait to see what amazing things you do with your life. I haven’t even met you yet, baby Coco, but already I’m proud of you.

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  • Is Porn Ruining Men’s Sex Lives?

    February 06, 2013
    Is Porn Ruining Men’s Sex Lives?
    Some people are starting to wonder if the instant gratification of high-speed, online pornography is warping men’s sexuality.

    I’m a big supporter of porn – and porn’s been a big supporter of mine. I helped found an erotic magazine, I used to review porn online, and through my writing on sex and sexuality, have actually ended up on first name terms with a number of porn performers.

    But despite all this porn advocacy – I’m no longer convinced that Internet porn is “good” for guys.

    It’s a realization I had while browsing Reddit.com, normally one of my go-to places to find erotic images and content. Girls post their pictures on a subreddit called /gonewild...and it’s everything a lonely and horny guy could wish for!)

    While there, I stumbled into another subreddit called /NoFap, and it made me think.

    /NoFap is a subreddit dedicated to men who are attempting to give up “PMO” – or Pornography, Masturbation and Orgasm. Why the hell would they want to do that, you ask? Because many of them believe it’s ruining their lives.

    The movement’s origins stem from the theories of anatomy and physiology teacher Gary Wilson, who argued that the way technology has allowed men to access porn has totally screwed with the way they’re evolutionarily programmed to respond to sexual stimulation. On his website, YourBrainOnPorn.com, he writes:

    “To the human brain, Internet porn is as different from erotic magazines as “World of Warcraft” is from checkers. This has major implications for your neurochemical balance.

    “High-speed Internet pornography users in their twenties are increasingly developing sexual performance problems (erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation). Italian urologists recently confirmed the impotence-porn use connection via a large survey- with 70% of the young men seeking clinical help for sexual performance problems using Internet pornography habitually.

    “Most men are astonished to learn that pornography use can be a source of sexual performance problems. Only after they experiment for themselves do they become fully convinced that pornography use was indeed the source of their dysfunction.”


    It’s something that resonated very powerfully with me, as I’d been noticing similar problems with my own sexual performance recently, and it had coincided with me looking at more porn on the ‘net.

    Internet porn, you see, is kind of like the fast food of sexual stimulation. When I was growing up, in the days before the Internet, I used to get turned on by reading sexy segments from my mother’s collection of romance novels (anything by Julie Burchill or Jilly Cooper is good).

    But Internet porn has come along and now you don’t need to thumb through a dog-earred paperback for some sexy prose. You can find whatever sexual fetish you’re looking for at the click of a mouse; in explicit, high-definition video.

    And what does this mean for regular guys? That reality pales in comparison to what’s being offered up by the Internet, and our sexual performance is affected as a result.

    There are two ways in which this manifests itself.

    The first is physical. As Gary Wilson mentioned, a large number of healthy young men are experiencing erectile dysfunction as a result of looking at porn. Because porn serves up every sexual permutation you could possibly dream up at the click of a mouse, some men are finding that “real” sex doesn’t get their body responding in the same way; and when they’re in an intimate situation with a real person, they can’t perform.

    The other way in which porn can affect men’s sex lives is by denying them one in the first place. Porn gives men an easy way to relieve themselves of sexual frustration without any effort, or fear of rejection. As a result, men don’t go out – and it robs them of the drive to turn their sexual fantasies into sexual reality. This is the reason many men cite when they explain why they are experimenting with /NoFap.

    But what does No Fap mean?

    It’s a hiatus on “fapping” (masturbating) and a complete cold-turkey on Internet pornography. The results, according to the thousands of posters on Reddit.com/r/NoFap, can be incredible. The term “superpowers” even gets thrown around occasionally.

    As Sker wrote:

    “NoFap is one of the greatest tools to actually do what I want in life. I'm finally reading the books of the great writers I always wanted to read and get in the company of. I'm finally not wasting my talent and writing like I'm supposed to (not in English). I'm finally learning myself about (screen)writing, what I always wanted to do.”

    So it’s something I’ve started to try myself. And I do feel like a kind of “porn funk” has been lifted from my brain, and the hours I used to spend browsing for porn online has been invested much more productively elsewhere.

    But am I saying that is porn bad?

    I don’t think you can say “porn is bad” any more than you can say alcohol is bad, or fast food, or smoking pot. They’re addictive substances, and can negatively impact your life if abused, but in moderation they can be enjoyed responsibly – and I believe high-speed, Internet porn is exactly the same.

    But the difference is that people are educated about how alcohol and junk food can be bad – but not Internet porn. In fact, once you get past the puritanical rubbish that the Christians and Feminists try to sell us (that all porn is inherently bad) most people seem to think that porn and masturbation are positive things.

    And while for women that might be true, I think that the average male brain is simply not wired to process high-speed Internet porn in the same way. As a result, I think the connection between porn and male sexual performance is something we’re going to be hearing about a lot more in the coming years.

    What do you think? Has internet porn affected your sexuality? Or that of somebody you’re close to? Do you think /NoFap is a legitimate movement? Or is this all fantasy, stemming from our society’s puritanical obsession with sex and sexuality. I’d love to know your thoughts.

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  • Anonymous attacks Steubenville students accused of rape – but do their facts add up?

    January 07, 2013
    Anonymous attacks Steubenville students accused of rape – but do their facts add up?
    Hackers affiliating themselves with the Anonymous movement have turned their attention to the Steubenville rape allegations – but their version of events doesn’t always match the facts.

    There are few rules on the Internet (my personal favorite is Rule #34) but the first and most important one is: Don’t fuck with Anonymous.

    An anarchic viral movement, comprised of thousands of hackers all over the world, Anonymous has proven time and again that they have the power to take down banks, governments, and even the military through their deftly organized hacking attacks.

    Now the town of Steubenville is in their sights, with a faction known as Knightsec turning their attention to the High School and the Sheriff’s department; both of which are accused of trying to cover up a horrific sexual assault conducted against a 15-year-old victim.

    Steubenville High School felt the impact of Anonymous first when hackers broke into and then defaced their “Big Red” fan website, posting their accusations for all visitors to see.

    They then started posting personal information and photos of those they accuse of attempting to cover up the horrific crime, or of being part of the “Rape Crew” who committed the alleged sexual assaults.

    They also outline what happened the night of the alleged crimes, but that’s where the few facts we know about the case start to contradict Anonymous’ version of events. Most notably, they claim that following her ordeal, the victim of the alleged assault was dumped, naked, in the front yard of her parent’s house in a nearby town. According to the New York Times expose of the Steubenville rape allegations, she’d actually awoken in the basement of one of the houses in which she was assaulted.

    Why does this matter? Because if Anonymous has some of their facts wrong, it throws all of their allegations into question.

    And they make a lot of allegations.

    For example, Anonymous claims that the 15-year-old victim was administered a date-rape drug by her ex-boyfriend at the party she was attending that night, which might well be true, but is impossible to prove at this point.

    They also claim that the attacks and sexual assault were conducted as part of deliberate revenge against the 15-year-old victim, claiming Cody Saltsman messaged his friends a month before the alleged rape: “nobody breaks up with Cody Saltsman, Ill ruin that bitch.”

    Again, that might be true, but Anonymous fails to provide any evidence to support these claims. Given the fact that their account contains discrepancies with other versions of what happened, it’s difficult to take any of these accusations at face value.

    And their allegations go deeper than that.

    Anonymous managed to hack the private email account of an avid “Big Red” fan, Jim Parks. They claim to have discovered pornographic images, including one that was “surreptitiously shot in the girls bathroom at the high school.”

    They provide the image in question on their website, but unless Steubenville High School has especially unique and identifiable paper towel dispensers, it’s impossible to tell the image apart from the thousands of self-shots young women post voluntarily on Reddit’s /gonewild subreddit.

    Anonymous’ allegations also extend to Coach Saccoccia, the coach of the Big Red football team (and, after warning a nosy journalist that she’d “get hers”, apparently an unlikable specimen of humanity).

    They claim that Saccoccia told the players on his team to “lie till they die” about the events on the night of the alleged sexual assault. Their allegations went further, also stating (as fact) that Saccoccia had “allowed and even encouraged” his players to cheat on school tests so they’d maintain grades high enough to stay on the team.

    Once again, these allegations are made without any evidence to support them – which doesn’t mean that they’re not true, but it does mean that people with half a brain have to question them.

    And that’s the problem. In the face of a horrific event like the alleged sexual assault and rape of a 15-year-old girl, we shouldn’t have to pick and choose which disgusting accusations are true, and which are merely conjecture on the part of Anonymous. We want to know what really happened.

    And while we might never know the answer to that – because even the victim has no recollection of the night in question (which supports Anonymous’ claim that she was drugged) – we should be able to pin enough facts down to make sure that the players charged with this horrific crime are found guilty and get the punishment they deserve for their crimes.

    Anonymous’ accusations and innuendos aren’t helping us achieve that.

    And that’s sad, because despite being a law-abiding citizen, I ultimately have a certain fearful respect and admiration for Knightsec and Anonymous.

    Despite the problems I see in the way they’re tackling the Steubenville rape case, I am heartened by the fact that they are tackling the case. Their hearts are clearly in the right place here, which is something that can’t be said of the football fans who vehemently defend the alleged rapists.

    I just wish Anonymous would take what they’re doing a step further. Instead of posting baseless accusations, I wish they'd post all the credible evidence they’ve discovered so that we can see for ourselves what happened that night. Then the police and prosecutors can’t help but sit up, take notice and throw the book at the alleged rapists.

    Anonymous writing “she was raped” means nothing. It’s hearsay at best, conjecture at worst. But Anonymous has the power to show us the evidence that led them to say that she was raped, like the disturbing video (warning: vid linked there could be triggering) they posted of one of the alleged rapists describing the attack. It’s that evidence which will ultimately make all the difference in this case.

    So please, Anonymous. No more pranks. No more trashing websites. No more emotive diatribes.

    Instead, dig in and give us what this 15-year-old girl deserves, and what the town of Steubenville is trying to hide. The evidence needed to lock her attackers up for years to come.

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