If the situation had been reversed…

Writing this blog has been about, in one regard, shooting my mouth off. This is my opinion; take it or leave it. But in reading what others have written, I quickly realised that in the blogging world and maybe everywhere, people write articles stating their opinion but fail to back up their opinion with any facts. There are no references, no footnotes; just their opinion that the world is flat. I don’t mind you saying the world is flat, but some scientific studies with photographic evidence would go a long way to solidifying your position. In other words, people say the darnedest things based on a lack of information or misinformation or a completely biased and distorted view of the world. I’ve learned that a lot of people start with their conclusion then back up collecting so called facts which prove their point as opposed to doing a double blind test or something objective like that. Are you out to find the truth or are you out to make everybody accept your opinion?

As a consequence, I always try to include with my writings a reference section with links to scholarly works, newspapers, or Wikipedia whose points are footnoted with legitimate sources. The purpose, my purpose is to hopefully find the truth, not just my truth or my opinion. If I’m wrong, I would like to be big enough to admit it. On the other hand, if you tell me something which isn’t provable, don’t expect me to swallow it.

Oddly enough, there are many aspects of our lives which do not fall into a category where somebody can neatly and definitively say, “Two plus two equals four.” There ends up being a lot of subjectivity as for each individual, their situation is somewhat different so their results are somewhat different. The best and most obvious example of this would be human relations which I keep coming back to from time to time in my blog. Sex, love, marriage, divorce; it’s all a convoluted labyrinth of perilous twists and turns for which no dating manual can possibly describe successfully and exhaustively all the permutations of the game which exist. It’s a wonder that we manage to get together at all. *laughs*

In these pages, I have concluded… no, the experts I’ve cited have concluded that men “tend” to be visual while women are more cerebral or emotional. With some biological reasons to back this idea up, men are out to spread their seed to make children while women tend to want to build a secure nest to raise children. However, I would like to quickly add that the word “tendency” does not mean that every person in every situation every time is going to 100% match such definitions. There are many variations and intensities in the application of these ideas. It is not objective and when you throw in the other factors such as religion, society, laws of different countries, different cultures, etc., etc., you have such a subjective mix that formulating a hard and fast rule about anybody’s behaviour is almost impossible. In the past eight months of researching on the Net, I have run into so many conflicting viewpoints that my head is sometimes spinning with the thought of what the truth is.

The “Shameless” husband
Pamela Madsen has been a fertility advocate for some time, but recently added sexuality coach to her résumé. She is the author of a book called Shameless in which she chronicles her personal quest for sexual fulfillment all while remaining in a committed marriage.

In Pamela’s book – which I purchased and read cover to cover – the author recounts her sexual self-discovery which included events which are anything but of mainstream society. I say that not as a criticism but as an observation I’ve made frequently about how North American society tends towards the puritanical and seems to be very much hung up about its sexuality. The author’s odyssey involved erotic massages (I mean massages which resulted in orgasm), visits to sexual shamans, and her personal admission to enjoying BDSM role playing. Publishing this book is an act of bravery considering the potential condemnation from the prudish mainstream. In fact, she ends her book describing how she was let go from a job because the organisation was afraid of a “sexual scandal” if it was seen associated with her book and its contents.

Ms. Madsen’s explorations went on in secret for a number of months before she confessed to her husband. In her book on page 156 she writes about her fear of telling him everything she had been doing, “What if he condemned my ‘therapy’ as cheating?”

It turns out that Gavin, as she calls her husband in the book, after some initial surprise and maybe a little fear about the possible end of his marriage is accepting of his wife’s doings and open to exploring with her some of what she’s done. In originally researching the book, I discovered some comments from female readers describing Gavin as a wonderful man who supports his wife. This man deserves a purple heart for bucking the all-too-common lure of “poor me” or “she must not love me if she’s feeling this way,” or “what the hell is happening to my life, this is not what I signed up for.”

I have a question. Speculating on how men and women are different – oh how they are different – what if the situation was reversed? What if Gavin wrote the book Shameless and was the one revealing the secret to Pamela?

I couldn’t help thinking when I read about Gavin “deserving a purple heart” that as a man, he would be far less threaten by the sexual activity of his wife then the other way around. Why? Quite plain and simple, men are titillated by sex. If a woman shows interest in sex, a guy isn’t going to first think that this is the end of the relationship; he is going to be intrigued. I am not convinced that it’s the same the other way around. I can’t help thinking the woman is going to feel threatened and betrayed. Any sexual activity on the part of man which does not take place within the confines of the couple is a danger to the maintaining of the status quo.

A double standard
In my blog Pamela Madsen, Jack Layton, and an erotic massage I compare the situation of Pamela Madsen to the situation of a politician. Ms. Madsen is a woman. She is being lauded for her forthrightness and for helping women with their sexuality. She paid for an erotic massage which resulted in her having an orgasm. The politician is a man. He paid to have a massage but newspapers were vilifying him for possibly having paid for an “erotic massage” which would have resulted in him having an orgasm. The police pointed out to the politician that having an erotic massage is illegal and he would have been charged with a crime and fined. Ms. Madsen makes no mention whether her erotic massage was legal or not but I would raise the question to not just Ms. Madsen, but to her husband and to all her readers that if there is supposedly nothing wrong with having an erotic massage, that is, one which results in the person having an orgasm, why is it that society would charge the politician with a crime and fine him? Ms. Madsen is being praised for doing the same thing.

Can sex just be sex?
I reprinted my posting Pamela Madsen, Jack Layton, and an erotic massage at Open Salon and the author herself, Pamela Madsen, left this comment:

Dear William:
You might find this interesting….”What if It’s Eating not Cheating” By Rachel Clark over at Psychology Today –
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/marry-divorce-reconcile/201103/shameful-what-if-it-s-eating-not-cheating
Shamelessly yours,
Pamela

I quoted the Rachel Clark article in my original review of Madsen’s book. Ms. Clark makes this interesting statement:

It might not be comfortable, but the provocative issues this memoir erects thrust to the heart of a culture that may have mistaken “eating” (normal, human and primal sexual needs) for “cheating” (our ideas about betrayal, monogamy, and affairs).

What? Am I hearing heresy? Is the author suggesting that an individual’s sex can be just that, sex and it can exist outside the confines of the couple all without threatening the continued existence of the couple? Since Ms. Madsen pointed out this article is she too suggesting the same thing?

Rachel Clark goes on in her article:

But it seems to me that Pam’s story begs a suite of bigger, harder, cockier questions: Is there a tragedy here? Is a culture that ostracizes affairs, “betrayal,” open marriage, and sexual exploration while in a committed partnership, healthy for human beings? Can we love our partners and still have sexual experiences or feelings for other people, and be okay with that? Is it possible that our culture of monogamy–handed down to us through the twists and turns of relatively recent human history–is deeply out of whack with the innate nature of human beings and the evolutionary basis of our sexuality?

Just how far is Rachel Clark – and Pamela Madsen – going with this idea?

I think of all the families and children–thousands upon thousands–ripped apart because of affairs, betrayal, undeniable needs for sexual exploration, or feelings of love outside the marriage (mine included). Would those families have imploded if, instead, we had known and accepted that humans are made this way–to have powerfully erotic, social relationship needs that may stretch far beyond a primary pair-bond?

Interesting idea, but…
Dr. Marty Klein is an American sex therapist, educator and public policy analyst. His goals are to educate the public and policymakers about sexuality, help people feel sexually adequate and powerful, and to support the healthy sexual expression and exploration of both women and men.

In his article of May 6, 2011, entitled “Porn Addict or Selfish Bastard? Life Is More Complicated Than That“, he discusses a type of case which he is seeing on a regular basis where wife or girlfriend finds out husband or boyfriend watches pornography and basically freaks.

In a different world, Mr. Porn Consumer would turn to Outraged Wife/Girlfriend and say “Wow, I can see that you’re really upset about what I’m watching. Let’s talk about it and see what we can do.” In the real world, however, most men are so loaded down with shame about their sexuality that the second their partner attacks them for watching porn, they collapse and allow their partner to seize control of the relationship.

Klein describes “freaking” as the woman thinking that the man doesn’t care for her; he’s a pervert; he’s unfaithful; or he’d rather be with other women. Klein goes on to describe how “a lot of women” insist the man just doesn’t have a reason to masturbate; he has “no right” to masturbate.

The whole article makes for interesting reading but essentially, it boils down to this: the woman cannot accept anything sexual outside the bounds of the couple. Period. While Pamela Madsen and Rachel Clark may talk of an ideal where sex is just sex, what hurtles are to be overcome in the current state of affairs in our society before such an ideal is attainable? Not everybody who reads the book Shameless is going to buy into it. Then again, not everybody is going to read it. Period.

Final Word
According Rachel Clark’s bio, she married, divorced, loved and lived with somebody else, then at some point remarried her ex-husband. That’s a story I would like to read.

It’s difficult if not sometimes impossible to formulate an all-encompassing rule to explain something. Anybody and everybody has their own experiences or some anecdotes which may contradict a rule forgetting that every rule has its exceptions or special cases.

I come back to wondering that Gavin, as representative of our typical man, can accept Pamela’s personal explorations, but Pamela, as representative of our typical woman, would have accepted – maybe divorced – Gavin doing the same thing? If the situation had been reversed… What’s good for the goose may not always be good for the gander.

Rachel Clark’s article on the book Shameless and Pamela pointing this article out, lead me to conclude that here are at least two women who are suggesting there’s more to this question of sex than what we all assume means infidelity, betrayal, and ultimately divorce.

Is it true? Has Pamela managed to find a way to get more out of life sexually while remaining in a committed marriage? It’s curious. I see in this the suggestion that people have affairs because they see this as the only way to get more out of life sexually. If people had another way, would they have an affair? If people were satisfied, would they not stay in a “committed” marriage?

Reference

my blog: Sex fantasies make for better sex lives
Differences between the sexes are interesting. In studying responses to pornographic films, researchers noted that men focus on the woman’s body whereas women focus on the man’s interest in her body. Men’s fantasies contained more visual imagery and explicit anatomic detail, whereas women’s sexual fantasies contained greater reference to affection, emotions, and story line. Yes, both sexes react to visual stimuli, but men focus on the visual action while women focus on the emotional action. – There is some truth to the idea that men are visual and women are cerebral or emotional. – The authors cite a study which concluded that for women more than men the buildup which precedes sexual encounters was an important part of their sexual fantasies. The same study stated that 57% of women and only 19% of the men focused on “feelings” while 81% of men and 43% of women focused on the visual.

my blog: Sex: Men are visual
…while men are more likely to get ‘turned on’ by visual stimuli, it’s because of social conditioning versus actual physiology. … Women, until recently, have been taught to repress their sexuality as much as possible. Therefore, it is not ‘right’ for women to be titillated by visual stimuli lest she be labelled a jezebel, for she is focusing on the ‘carnal’ and physical side of the issue.

Men, OTOH [on the other hand], are taught to repress their sensuality. They (we) are conditioned to separate the physical acts from the emotional and mental corollaries. This is not to say that things can’t change. … The ‘problem’ here is not that we are not excited by certain things, but that we refuse to let ourselves be excited by them.

my blog: Pamela Madsen, Jack Layton, and an erotic massage

my blog: Book Review: Shameless by Pamela Madsen

Sexual Intelligence – May 6/2011
Porn Addict or Selfish Bastard? Life Is More Complicated Than That By Dr. Marty Klein
I’m seeing an epidemic of “porn addiction” in my office. Not of porn addiction, but of “sex addiction.”

Here’s how it looks: Wife/girlfriend somehow assumes that husband/boyfriend does not watch porn (guess that’s what she means by “he’s one in a million”). One day, his porn watching comes to her attention (he leaves something on the screen, she searches his website history, he gets an email or bill from some friendly porn site, etc.).

She freaks.

She decides what his porn watching “means”:
* He doesn’t care for her
* He’s been faking sexual desire or enjoyment
* He’d rather be with other women (or men, or kangaroos, or whatever he’s been watching)
* He’s a pervert
* He’s unfaithful

If the situation had been reversed, none of this would have happened.

Click HERE to read more from William Belle

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