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Steven Ing
Illuminating Human Sexuality Through Reason and Knowledge
Illuminating Human Sexuality Through Reason and Knowledge

Steven Ing's posts

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January 8, 2015
By now you have to be living under a rock not to have heard of the murders of writers and cartoonists in Paris this week.  The whole thing is just so sad on so many levels.  Sexual futurists send their thoughts and best to the survivors and the families involved.  The murders are a tragic reminder of how threatening words and conversations can be to people who have run out of ideas.
In honor of Charlie Hebdo the following Help Wanted goes out: Cartoonists, wanted for satirical takes on human sexuality across the spectrum of the human experience including religion, politics, business, family and so on.  Please contact us.  Let’s change this world.

#jesuischarlie   #charliehebdo  

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Direct from both the sexual part of the brain and (way over on the other side of the brain in a roped off area) the religious part.  From Faith Forum‘s discussion of the question “Should men, women sit together?”
While many of us are used to attending mixed-gender religious services where men and women sit together, many religions/denominations separate men and women…. of Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish movement says: “One obvious benefit of separate seating in a synagogue is that it helps ensure that the main focus is on the prayers and not on the opposite gender …during prayers we shouldn’t be trying to impress anyone other than G-d  …Men and women need space from each other to help them become attuned to their higher selves.”
Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States, a Christian denomination, says on its website: “Separation of sexes in the Church was a universal Christian custom until the Protestant Reformation ….  …In early Christian writings, the separation of sexes was also seen as a safeguard against temptation….”
So much for the Christian and Jewish wings of the Abrahamic faiths.  From the leader of my area’s Muslim community came this observation:
In Islam, mixing between men and women in general has special rules that intend to protect the hearts of the Muslims, both men and women, from any tempting ideas or evil suggestions….  As the ritual of the Muslim prayer involves standing in very close proximity of each other as well as bowing and prostrating, one can conclude that the wisdom of separating men and women during prayers is to keep their hearts sincere and busy only with the prayer….
Clearly, these faiths are saying that sexuality cannot really be integrated into spirituality because, at it’s core, sexuality is carnal and therefore the enemy of true religion and true spirituality.  But what is so particularly off putting about sexuality?  Indeed, our sexuality is the most portable and most intimate part of who we are–it accompanies us wherever we go and whatever we do.  What of gay men in the congregation who are placed squarely in the the exclusive company of men?  What is it about sexuality that would make our hearts insincere?  Our faiths should seek to inform and integrate our sexuality into our spirituality rather than directly opposing it and trying to smother it–an impossible task anyway.  (BTW, can you believe we’re having this conversation in the 21st century?) Come, reason with us.

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Funny thing about sexuality–it can be very funny.  You may have realized this in your house of worship–those guys understand the need to cut up about things that are awkward to discuss.  Or perhaps you experienced sexual humor in a sex education class in school–easier to learn when we can all relax.  Or in your family conversations that involved Aunt Edna (a former missionary), Grandpa Lester (fresh out of a 20-year prison stretch) or after the sour look Mom gave Dad when some familial black sheep pipped up with a lighthearted “Ever hear the one about the preacher (or rabbi or imam) who fell in the tub and landed on his…?”  None of these?  Well, sexual humor often gets low marks for social impropriety.
Yet sexual play and sexual humor remain one of our most important sexual needs.  Humor helps us to not take ourselves so seriously that we can’t see things in perspective.  Humor helps let the air out of our pomposity.  Humor helps us to realize we will always be sexual beings and thus, sexual humor helps ground our lofty (and disconnected) spiritual thoughts in the reality of our biology which cannot be escaped and, after all, who would want to–unless you’re not enjoying your sexuality.
And some people cannot enjoy their sexuality.  They don’t enjoy their bodies, they don’t enjoy discovering their common humanity with others (better than that you see).  They don’t enjoy the urges, the fantasies, the foibles and the truth that our own bodies tell us.  After centuries of dark repression from so many sources, a little sunshine feels pretty good, doesn’t it?  We laugh to give us courage to face what we would otherwise find too much for us.  If you can’t laugh about human sexuality, if you haven’t taught your children to laugh about it, if you have so many rules that any sexual joke seems to violate propriety beyond the pale–then you might want to take a look at that because, frankly, the rest of us could use a break.  Imagine you had a sex life that was perfect in every way–except that it was humorless and devoid of play–would it, could it, be perfect any more?  Come, reason with us.

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Sure the ultraconservative clerics of Saudi Arabia are crazy and no, there is no actual law forbidding women from driving cars there.  Nevertheless, the Kingdom of Saud arrested two women for driving and then referring them to terrorism court.  Just to bring you up to speed, consider another “Christmas miracle” as reported by the New York Times on Christmas day.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Two Saudi women detained for nearly a month after they defied edicts that prohibit women from driving were referred on Thursday to a court established to try terrorism cases, several people close to the defendants said.  The cases of the two women, Loujain al-Hathloul and Maysa al-Amoudi, were sent to the antiterrorism court in connection with opinions they expressed on Twitter and other social media sites, according to four people close to them….
The Specialized Criminal Court, to which their cases were referred, was established in the capital, Riyadh, to try terrorism cases but has also tried and given long prison sentences to a number of human rights workers, peaceful dissidents, activists and critics of the government.  …This is the first time women detained for driving have been referred to the court, activists said.
Organizers…say the ban on women driving is related to wider issues about guardianship laws in Saudi Arabia that give men control over women’s lives.  One activist said the driving ban was also part of “a wider effort to quash any chances of raising the ceiling on civil liberties” in Saudi Arabia….
The real story here is that change is frightening.  Some would even agree that change is terrifying.  And what then about sexual change?  Women who drive wherever they want could lead to their thinking they, could, well, go wherever they want!  Even that they are people, just like corporations my friend!  Change IS frightening and sexual change is even MORE frightening.  The remedy: people who are being forced to think about sexuality in ways that their schools, parents and religions have never prepared them can now avoid thinking by simply charging uppity women as terrorists.  Rush, are you listening?  They’re not just sluts anymore.  Come, reason with us.

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“Well here it is, folks, all the sexual news you can use.”
None of us have ever heard a legit news outlet make such a claim but someday we will and here’s why.  Two words: the Internet.  Although the Internet is new, OK, newish, the principle of systematic desensitization is as old as our species.  What was formerly taboo to discuss or what was simply not important enough to command the attention of a species struggling to survive–that is, human sexuality–is now out, way out, of the bag.  A sample of one day’s silly and serious offerings:
A town council in Poland voted down using Winnie-the-Pooh as a playground mascot because “he doesn’t wear underwear” and he is of “dubious sexuality.”  Asexual?  Hermaphrodite?  Vanguard of Gay Apocalypse?
Spanish police arrest three priests and a religion teacher for sex abuse after a man wrote the pope about his abuse.
Turkish President says at a women’s rights conference that “women could never be equal to men.”  A hate crime?
Rebooting his political career, former French President Sarkozy takes cue from Putin’s anti-gay campaign, seeks to reverse marriage equality.  Gays can’t be the same as the rest of us, can they?
Buddhist priests in Myanmar want to deny Buddhist women the right to choose their husbands–unless those men are Buddhists–what would Buddha say?
And finally, in science, some good news: kissing, that is, REAL kissing, long, lingering, wet kissing is really good for your health.  Your immune system loves it!
All of this brings up the question: can it be long before someone bites the bullet and offers up Sexual News along with Business News, Sports News, Weather News, and, well, the News?  There’s an audience of youth who have already become desensitized about reading about sexuality and who seem to think that sexuality IS important and that it IS newsworthy.  What is missing is a media effort to organize this information in a manner that would be tasteful (Are you listening, Mr. Murdoch?) and not sensationalizing (Hell-ooo, Mr. Murdoch!) Come, reason with us.

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A brilliant article in the NY Times recently described how Cyrus Vance, Jr., is approaching crime–more acting, less reacting; more prevention and a lot fewer victims; smarter and cheaper rather than more police state emphasis on violence.
“Nowhere have declining crime trends been more striking than in Manhattan, where last year burglaries, shootings and murders were the lowest since the city began keeping formal records in the early 1960s; so far this year, statistically speaking, the epidemic of civility rages on. It’s still a shock — where did Gotham go, the dangerous dark of nighttime Central Park, the East Village addicts brandishing box cutters, the cardsharps and sallow denizens of Times Square, which now seems overrun by Elmo impersonators and wide-eyed naïfs in fanny packs?”
“…Vance’s most significant initiative, one that has been emulated in jurisdictions from Brooklyn to San Francisco, has been to transform, through the use of data, the way district attorneys fight crime. ‘The question I had when I came in was, Do we sit on our hands waiting for crime to tick up, or can we do something to drive crime lower?’ …I wanted to develop what I call intelligence-driven prosecution.”

Read the article and see if you don’t agree that Sexual futurists around the world will be fans of Vance’s rational approach and his demonstration of how getting to “smart on crime” stomps “tough on crime’s” candy butt into the ground.  But….
But there’s no mention of sexual crime.  Whaaaat?  Just like media often misses the story about sexuality (along with most of us readers), this story on crime prevention NEVER addresses the idea of preventing sex crimes.  What’s worse–we know how to do this. 

As a group sex offenders are characterized by:
Having no real friends in whom they can confide.
Have no real career satisfaction–either underemployed, unemployed or just miserably unhappy with their work
Have a shocking dearth of intimacy skills that would empower them to get their needs for love met legitimately–and legally.

And we can see these risk factors early enough to do something about it–if we care to look.  So if we really care about preventing crime, shouldn’t we be talking about the root causes of sexual criminality?  If we really care about victims–and every politician says that they do–shouldn’t we care enough to prevent future victims?  Before prosecutiong, policing; before policing, educating.  Come, reason with us.

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While men’s fashion remains obsessed with getting laid the women’s fashion scene continues to evolve as a portal for human rights, spirituality and yes, beautiful clothing.  Men’s fashion remains juxtaposed against travel advice, work out tips, and Top Lists like Best 10 Bourbon’s and so forth.  It would appear that the boys are just a bit behind the curve of integrating their sexuality and spirituality.  OK, it would be more accurate to say that men are about a century behind the level of social evolution of the ladies.  The gap between the two genders in regard to the integration of sexuality and spirituality is more like 1,000 years.
Consider the current issue of Vogue.  Instead of a grown-up version of a talking Barbie (“I like new clothes!”), the magazine regularly features insights into social responsibility, thoughtful interviews with intelligent men and, along with teaching aesthetics in personal wear, the latest in girl power.  This month’s issue of Vogue (not available online) actually contains an update on an actual girl superpower–tetrachromatic supervision.  Instead of a million colors, apparently these ladies (and yes, it’s only the ladies) see hundreds of millions of colors.
Elle magazine is about fashion, sure.  But also about female role models like Reese Witherspoon and her film Wild and Women in Art featuring twelve women who are changing the world of art as artists, curators and collectors.  And sex?  Yes, sex, with not one, but two articles on monogamy and hints in just what to do after infidelity.
Marie Claire has always had a strong commitment to gender equality and human sexual rights.   Marie tells us about “Female Viagra–Why Are We Still Waiting for it?”  So yes to straight talk about sex but also the latest updates on equality for women in India and how getting women a seat at the table of major corporations is changing the world of women…and men who love women…for the better.  Human sexuality for grown-ups (don’t tell the US Congress) and human sexual rights–all surrounded by beautiful clothes.  Why can’t men have magazines this good?  Come, reason with us.

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Fashion matters.  Fashion says something.  Your fashion choices say something about you…and your sexuality.  Tom Puzak, from Gear Junkie, observes a new fashion trend that is actually another iteration of an old trend: lost men trying to find some path toward authenticity and a sure shot to nookie.  Behold the lumbersexual:
First let’s put this [phenomenon] in a smaller context by looking at a real e-mail exchange between a customer shopping for a lumbersexual shirt, and a small company that makes them.
A discerning customer wrote: “I figure the Hazelnut plaid gives a warm and kind vibe, and would get a strong response from chicks looking for a guy that would be a good father.  The “Vivid” plaid, I figure because it’s bright, is going to get a favorable response from chicks that want a guy who is confident and comfortable being in the spotlight.  What do you guys think?  Alternatively, are Fog and Leaf, the colors you have in stock, ranking highly right now?
From the plaid purveyor …here’s a quote:
‘The Leaf color is bright and exciting.  Upon seeing your choice of fashion-conscious, highly enlightened apparel, women will find you irresistible.  You will likely find these babes gather around you like the first burst of bright sunshine in early spring.’
Big surprise.  Men have been dressing in hunting camo ever since God invented leaves and the skins from last season’s hunt.  But this time, a clever twist.  Hunting women and finding a way to project that “warm and kind vibe” without having to actually become warm and kind.  Just dress the part and those beautiful women with their wee craniums will be gobsmacked with your attractiveness.
Like those straight men who picked up on the well-groomed, great abs look of some gay men and became the oh-so-passé metrosexual, now the “guy in the know” is going lumbersexual, the straight version of the bear, a gay man who wears flannel shirts, has a big gut and a furry back.  So the straight guy, so lost he’s willing to play dress-up to be whatever he thinks “is going to get a favorable response from chicks” is once again going back to the well of other men who seem to be successful and happy, not just gay.  For white males, getting on the gay is a bit like the trend of copying hip-hop artists who, in turn, were copying convicts.  All seem to be thinking, “Could someone, for the love of God, just tell me what masculinity is?”  Might be easier to just get a soul guys.  Come, reason with us.

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Even people who have a lot of sex (or at least try to) often labor under the irrational belief that they’re comfortable talking about sexuality.  They are mostly wrong.  Even educated adults who “do it a lot” often mistake a discussion about coitus or intercourse for a discussion about the bigger topic of sexuality and a subtopic that could be called “relationship technology.”  Consider a recent Men’s Journal article entitled “Is Monogamy Insane?”:
I started this essay hunkered down in my basement apartment, more or less in hiding as the forces of decency closed in. A few streets away was one woman I’d been dating, from whom I was on an uneasy hiatus. The next neighborhood over lived the other woman I was dating.  …I’d been dating the two women for a few weeks – not man-hiding-under-bedan unheard-of or unethical practice – but after half a dozen dates with each, I got the feeling that it was time to let them know that I was seeing someone else.  …Both appreciated my honesty but informed me that they could not continue to see me as long as I was seeing someone else. Both insisted this was not an ultimatum and got irritated when I called it one.
…What I should have done was tell both women that I wasn’t ready to commit to an exclusive relationship – though this would have meant losing them both.  At the last possible minute, inflicting the maximum emotional damage on all concerned, I finally chose one.  I had hoped the decision would at least calm my anxiety, but instead I found myself still secretly panicking.  Had I just committed myself to an exclusive relationship with someone I hadn’t even slept with yet?"
The author, a 47-year-old, is not an idiot.  He is not a psychopath, nor a lecher, nor a play-ah.  He IS uninformed and his thinking errors include his belief that monogamy “can be a bitch” when actually the harsher truth is, he simply sucks at negotiating his way through, well, the negotiating.  He has gone on six dates…over even fewer weeks…and he has this crazy irrational belief that he somehow owes these other adults full disclosure about the rest of his private life, that is, that he “was seeing someone else.”  Isn’t this a sexist variation of “the knight in shining armor rescuing the damsel in distress…or at least in a wheelchair?”  Isn’t he setting himself up for a relationship based on inequality where he is responsible not only for their feelings but also their future possible feelings?  He didn’t lie to either woman or lead them on, at least as he relates the story.  He simply dated them.
Monogamy is not insane; monogamy after six dates, now that’s insane.  Come, reason with us.

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November 16, 2014
 ”Well, those grapes were probably sour anyway,” pouted the fox after failing to get the crow to share the fruit which was out of his reach.  From The Week:
“…Apple’s Tim Cook, “the CEO of one of the largest companies in the world,” publicly admitted last week he is gay. “While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either,” wrote Cook in a Bloomberg Businessweek essay. “Let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”  …The most significant thing about Cook’s announcement? said Mark Gongloff in It was “blissfully mundane: On Wall Street, the news caused barely a ripple in Apple’s stock price.”
That’s because “no one cares,” said Derek Hunter in "Liberals act as if “it’s 1950 and the townsfolk are ready to grab their pitchforks and torches anytime someone ‘different’ is spotted on Main Street. The only place homophobia is alive and well these days is in the imaginations of the liberal media or the occasional aggressive drunk.”
Yes.  People care.  It does matter.  In 29 states in the US you can get fired for saying what Cook said.  The religious right (and those folk who like milking them for votes) cannot stop working to keep gay people as second class because, hey, it’s part of the faith as in 1st Stalagtites 2:34, where the Lord said, “I’m not really into gay people…or the poor without health insurance…and don’t have sex.”
The expression is “sour grapes.” From Aesop’s Fables, “sour grapes” simply means to make a false pretense to form a rationalization that one really doesn’t care about something–that one really cares about a great deal.  After fighting for decades to prevent marriage equality, to deny access to abortion, to deny access to contraception, to deny gay adults the right to adopt–well, they still care.  They just don’t want you to know they care and that it hurts to lose. 
Gandhi was right about the progression:
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
But he could have added, “And then they act like it never mattered to them.”  Come, reason with us.
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