report this user
Mar 14, 2012 echizen_kurage commented on Savage Love.

This reminds me of why, while I empathize with and respect feminists and generally think their goals more a good than not, I doubt I'll ever be able to trust them fully. Of course they'd eradicate male homosexuality if they could, and, looking at it from their point of view, I don't blame them . . . Men who can't be controlled by making them pay in one form of currency or another for sex serve no useful purpose whatsoever - unless they're good consultants about things one finds important.

No. Just . . . no. Yes, with enough digging you can unearth some radical second-wave feminists who argued that male homosexuality was a pathological manifestation of extreme misogyny. (Andrea Dworkin is probably the most notable example of this, although I think she eventually changed her stance.) But antipathy toward gay men is by no means a standard feminist sentiment. I don't claim that everyone who identifies as a feminist is a shining beacon of perfect enlightenment, totally purged of any and all prejudice, because this is very obviously not the case. But I honestly do believe that any randomly selected feminist is probably more likely to be accepting of male homosexuality than any randomly selected non-feminist -- after all, homophobia plays a key role in reinforcing the prescriptive gender roles that most feminists are committed to dismantling.

Also, speaking as a woman and a feminist, I am not looking to "control" men through sex or any other method. If I want to win people over to my viewpoint, I don't play Lysistra; I vote and write letters to my elected representatives and participate in the marketplace of ideas, just like anybody else. If I want nice things, I don't wheedle them out of some poor lust-addled man; I go to my job and work so I can buy them for myself. I have every respect for the women (and men) who choose to be sex workers, but the mere fact that I have a vagina does not automatically make me one of them. And I sure as fuck don't look at gay men as defective cash cows who refuse to be properly milked by my vagina.

Are there women out there who do think this way? Of course. Some of them probably even identify as feminists (although I would argue that feminist women are on average less likely than other women to buy into the toxic view of heterosex as a commodity that men "take" and women "give" in exchange for compensation). But for fuck's sake, don't go around claiming that the perception of women as sexual gatekeepers (or, more accurately, sexual toll booth operators) is a core feminist principle, and that the desire to eradicate male homosexuality is therefore an inevitable corollary of feminism. It's just not true.
Feb 29, 2012 echizen_kurage commented on Savage Love.

Worst fucking idea I've seen in all my years of reading SL.

A year or so ago, there was a letter from a pedophile who was considering babysitting for his friends -- I think that one takes the prize for "worst fucking idea." Still, SLASH definitely deserves an honorable mention.
Feb 29, 2012 echizen_kurage commented on Savage Love.

WYICCUW and SLASH need to remember one thing. Rape is an act of violence and power by The Patriarchy. Women are entirely without power and privilege. Ergo, women cannot rape, and neither should act like that's something to worry about.

You do realize that this is not actually Standard Feminist Doctrineâ„¢, right? Yes, Dworkin, MacKinnon, and Brownmiller -- the beloved strawwomen of anti-feminist reactionaries -- all operate on the assumption that only men can be rapists, but they are speaking for and from a strange and distant fringe. I'm not going to play the No True Scotswoman card and claim that Brownmiller et al. aren't "real" feminists, but they sure as heck don't speak for all feminists.

Needless to say, I don't speak for all feminists either. Nonetheless, I am fairly confident that a substantial majority of self-identified feminists would take it as self-evident that women can and do commit rape, albeit less frequently than men do. (Here, the legalistically-minded might be inclined to quibble about terminology, but let's assume for our purposes that "rape" simply means "to engage in sex with a non-consenting party," and try to avoid any semantic grandstanding over what constitutes "sex.") If any actual feminists -- as opposed to feminist-baiting trolls -- would like to prove me wrong and seriously argue that women are categorically incapable of committing sexual violence, please feel free to do so . . . but I'm not holding my breath.
Feb 28, 2012 echizen_kurage commented on Savage Love.

EPIC FAIL. Seriously. Let me count the ways.

First, and most importantly, you fail as an ethical human being. It's not okay to try to trick your sex partner into doing things that s/he has already told you s/he isn't comfortable doing. Period, full stop, end of story, no discussion.

Less importantly, but still worth mentioning, you fail as a member of the slash community. (Granted, the term "slash community" implies a degree of shared identity and central organization that doesn't actually exist; "slash communities" or "slash network" might be more appropriate. But you know what I'm talking about.) My personal philosophy is that fandom is like Fight Club: you don't fucking talk about it. But if you are going to talk about fandom -- in a nationally syndicated column, no less -- then please, please, for the love of Kirk/Spock, don't imply some sort of causal relationship between your fannish activities and your casual disregard for other people's sexual boundaries. ("I write slash, therefore I am compelled to trick my unwilling husband into acting out my fantasies in real life!") Obviously I can't speak for anybody but myself, but I'd bet good money that if I took a poll and worked out the percentage of slash fans who were happy to have their hobby publicly associated with your delusional, amoral asshattery, I'd wind up with a number starting with a decimal point and a couple of zeros.
Feb 23, 2012 echizen_kurage commented on SL Letter of the Day: How Many Is Too Many?.

Totally tangential to the main point, but "one, two, many" counting systems are not apocryphal; they have been documented in languages from Australia, New Guinea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Micronesia and the Amazon. Some of these languages do go a bit beyond two (up to three or four, say) before jumping to "many," and many of them allow for the expression of higher numbers via equivalence, even if they don't have specific words for those numbers; for instance, a speaker of Mabuiag might hold up seven fingers and say "this many." That's a comparatively simple example, however -- in many cases, speakers of "one, two, many" languages don't rely solely on digit tallies, but also use systems of tallying body parts that may reach as high as thirty or forty. For instance, in a system where the nose is the twenty-eighth body part, one can point to the nose to indicate "twenty-eight," even though no actual word for twenty-eight exists. Moreover, the use of numerical cycles -- e.g., "ten tens" or "two twenty-eights" -- is a standard strategy in many languages with limited number words. In other words, it's not as if speakers of "one, two, many" languages regard everything beyond two (or three, or wherever their numbers cut off) as equally "many."

. . . oh, wait, was I supposed to be commenting on the letter? Man, I got nothing. If CAN were concerned about what his boyfriend's high partner count says about his ability to remain in a monogamous long-term relationship, I could sort of sympathize, but the whole "physical revulsion" thing is way over the fucking line. At least I can point to this letter the next time an evo-psycher tries to back up some bullshit gender-essentialist argument by claiming that, liberated from the shackles of female pickiness and frigidity, all gay men live in a magical wonderland of constant casual sex.
Feb 22, 2012 echizen_kurage commented on Savage Love.

I was going to go with the more standard phrase "frantic monkey sex," but on a whim, I decided to mix things up and substitute a different primate. As it turns out, my choice of "lemur" may have been cruelly ironic. According to this article:

The vagina of mouse lemurs is sealed year-round except for a few days around mating and parturition, and females are sexually receptive for only a few hours during one night per year.

Apparently, this is standard practice for most lemur species. So, LOST, if you're reading this: cheer up, it could be worse!

(On the other hand, who wouldn't want to pledge eternal devotion to this? AWWW, LOOK AT THAT LITTLE FACE.)
Feb 22, 2012 echizen_kurage commented on Savage Love.
Assuming LOST's marriage isn't completely beyond hope -- and I'm none too confident that this is the case, but hey, miracles can happen -- perhaps he should try asking her what gets her off. Or, to put it more bluntly, he should ask her if she's getting off at all.

(At this point, a disclaimer might be in order. I am absolutely not implying that any given woman's disinterest in sex is necessarily the fault of her male partner, and that all the lower-libido straight women out there would falling all over themselves to have frantic lemur sex with their higher-libido husbands/boyfriends . . . if only their husbands/boyfriends weren't so unromantic or selfish or flat-out sexually incompetent. This may be the case sometimes. It may even be the case with LOST, who doesn't exactly come across as the world's most enlightened man. But this is obviously not the one, true etiological model of m>f libido mismatches, and I'm not claiming that it is. And now back to our regularly scheduled comment.)

Somewhere in a past thread, Erica mentioned that whenever yet another "my wife/girlfriend never wants sex" letter appears in SL, she can't help but wonder if the wife/girlfriend in question isn't having orgasms at all. I also wonder the same thing, particularly in the case of LOST's wife, because it sounds like her sexual experience is quite limited. It makes sense that she wouldn't have much interest in sex if she's never had an orgasm -- and if she's a woman on the less-orgasmic end of the spectrum who isn't willing to put in some effort and experiment, this is entirely possible.

Of course, we have no way of knowing if LOST's wife is pre-orgasmic. There are any number of other explanations for her disinterest in sex, although this one seems plausible enough to merit exploration, particularly because it's something they might actually be able to address.
Feb 17, 2012 echizen_kurage commented on Savage Love.
@ Erica:

Any simple comparison of rates of male sexual dysfunction in circumcised versus non-circumcised countries would be rendered meaningless by a host of confounding factors (different rates of other health problems, different rates of reporting and diagnosis, et cetera). In any event, it's fairly obvious that except in rare instances of gross surgical error, male circumcision is not massively sexually crippling. The question is not if infant circumcision dooms boys to a lifetime of psychological trauma and genital anesthesia, but rather if it deprives them of a source of sexual pleasure (and possibly a degree of tactile sensitivity) that they would have otherwise possessed, and I'm not at all confident that the answer to this latter question is "no."

Men who have undergone adult circumcision don't inevitably report reduced genital sensitivity, but there are enough of them who do that I think there are some very real red flags. There have been precious few attempts to quantify tactile thresholds in circumcised and uncircumcised men, and the data from these studies has been mixed, but at least two reasonably sizable studies have found a correlation between circumcision and diminished genital sensitivity.

One of the more striking findings of the Danish study was that circumcised men were significantly more likely than uncircumcised men (11% vs. 4%) to report frequent difficulty achieving orgasm. However, circumcised men were not significantly more likely to report decreased sex drive or erectile dysfunction, so it's hard to attribute their greater rate of orgasmic dysfunction to a simple sense of shame over their "non-standard" penises -- if psychological issues were at the root of the problem, I'd expect to see signs of a more generalized sexual dysfunction.
Feb 17, 2012 echizen_kurage commented on Savage Love.
Aaaaarrgh. The last word of the first paragraph at @142 should be "unequivocal," not "equivocal."
Feb 17, 2012 echizen_kurage commented on Savage Love.

After doing some further reading, I am willing to concede that the potential benefits of male circumcision may be greater than I initially believed, although the study that you linked to is hardly above criticism. (Note that Fergusson's findings conflict with those of several significantly larger studies.) At this point, I think it's probably fair to say that the evidence supporting the health benefits of circumcision is non-trivial, but it's also far from equivocal.

Whatever role circumcision may play in reducing STD and cancer risks, part of that benefit (although obviously not all) would be rendered redundant by universal HPV vaccination. I am aware of the potential benefits of circumcision as a method of reducing the transmission of HIV in Africa; however, as I am sure you are aware, the epidemiology of HIV in Africa differs markedly from the epidemiology of HIV in the West, and I'm not convinced that continuing to enforce circumcision as a cultural norm is key to managing HIV in the US. There are, of course, any number of confounding factors, but one can certainly point to countries in which circumcision is extremely rare and HIV rates are well below those of the US. (Denmark and Japan are two that come to mind, but I'm sure there are others.)

Finally, neither you nor mydriasis address the possibility that circumcision may in some cases result in diminished sexual sensation, or the reality that it necessarily involves removing erogenous tissue from a child who could not possibly consent to any such removal. Ultimately, my position on infant circumcision is essentially the same position advanced in this paper: the demonstrated medical benefits of infant circumcision do not outweigh the ethical concerns.


Virtually every human opinion or behavior can be described as a cultural artifact. I'm not sure what your point is.


I agree that "mutilation" is an extremely fraught term, which is why I haven't been using it. If you can think of a better term than "amputation" to describe the surgical removal of an external body part, I would be delighted to hear it. (Upon reflection, I suppose that "excision" might be a better way to describe the process, but that still doesn't sound terribly warm and fuzzy, does it?) I'd also be delighted if you didn't trivialize ethical concerns about infant circumcision as merely "political."