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« Hiding a B-17 Bomber Factory | Main | Whatever Happened to Geopolitics? »

April 23, 2009

Sex-roles Linkage

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Welcome to the new monogamy.

* Legal conundrum for the day: should "sexting" teens be charged with child pornography? I'm baffled by this one myself.

* Whassup with these new "bromancing" young men? Gay? Bi? Or just metro?

* Who needs men anyway?

* Completely unrelated but hard to resist:

Best,

Michael

posted by Michael at April 23, 2009




Comments

Given that there was no coercion involved in the sexting episode--the girls photographed themselves--I'd file this one under "extremely stupid" but not illegal.

Posted by: Steve W on April 23, 2009 1:45 PM



Re "Bromancing"

I don't buy it that there is any sort of groundswell of women that are turned on by male bisexuality, just as I've pointed out that men overplay their attraction to bisexual or lesbian women.

The little increase there probably is is only a figment of pop culture.

Posted by: Chuck on April 23, 2009 2:21 PM



Statistics on how many women have traded boyfriends and husbands for girlfriends are hard to come by...

Yep. l love these trends based on a story or two. Women leaving men for women? Hey, just a little while back it was women leaving women for men: remember Anne Heche returning to driving stick after her tribadistic interlude with Ellen G? Or Julie Cypher fleeing the world of carpet-munching to marry some guy?

Trends schmends. This stuff is no more a trend than women leaving men for men who leave women for mistresses or men or something...

Jack Schafer of Slate has excoriated the New York Times (and CNN too) for that kind of anecdotal coverage, and I hope they get the message and stop deducing massive social change from stories told by three women in Manhattan.

And hey, Michael, I love anecdotes too. But you can't get in your conclusion what you don't have in your premises. And from anecdotal premises only anecdotal conclusions can be drawn.

Oh, and Lindsey Lohan is not a dyke. Not in a million years. And "bromances" aren't gay.

Although it is true that "bisexual" men are nearly always gay, and "bisexual" women are nearly always straight. Another manufactured "identity" to try on for the pathetic denizens of this new Dark Age.

Posted by: PatrickH on April 23, 2009 4:56 PM



I'm kind of with Steve W above. But sexting will undoubtedly end up putting a lot more pictures of underage kids on the internets - good news for chickenhawks, creepy for us parents.

Perhaps our understanding of child pornography will need to become a little more fine-grained. I don't know exactly how, though. How about: no prosecuting kids who send photos of themselves or kids possessing photos sent by the photo subject. Surely such a situation is not what child pornography laws were intended for.

Posted by: robert61 on April 23, 2009 5:38 PM



Michael,

I'm sorry I hurt your feelings. You're one of the good guys.

I still owe you lunch.

Hope that we can get together soon.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on April 23, 2009 8:16 PM



There is no such thing as "bromancing" -- the stories written about it are a lame and futile attempt to help the coinage catch on, and make the people who use it feel cool.

"Yeah, I was using that word way before it became mainstream."

Posted by: agnostic on April 23, 2009 8:32 PM



Or Julie Cypher leaving the world of carpet munching

A tragically obsolete expression :(

Posted by: Peter on April 23, 2009 10:20 PM



God, will this "open marriage" trope never die? Every five years, it seems like some new batch of late-20s people latch onto the concept like they've stumbled onto some sort of brilliant insight.

Posted by: omw on April 24, 2009 3:03 AM



-I'd file this one under "extremely stupid" but not illegal.

No, minors "sexting" *is* clearly illegal and the solution is, as usual, a trade-off.

The obvious and current solution is the current one - making and possessing child pornography is illegal under all circumstances and then assume that the authorities and police use a modicum of common sense to decide when to prosecute.

This provides maximal protection of children. Unfortunately, it also sacrifices a number of children and families who fall afoul of authorities missing that afore-mentioned common sense.

The other side is to try and form laws that somehow prevent the stupid, but essentially innocent from being sacrificed. However, the protection that you give to them *will* be exploited by those that you truly want prosecuted. (Men using boys to 'store' their pictures, etc.)

Reality, as is almost always the case, is that you get to choose between protecting the few who deserve protection by protecting a good number who most definitely don't.

In most cases of this nature, I lean towards protecting the innocent at the cost of some of the guilty going free. However, in this case, I'm really not certain that overall the gain of stopping these travesties of prosecutorial idiocy is worth the cost of providing greater protection for pedophiles.

Posted by: Tom West on April 24, 2009 6:36 AM



Tom, perhaps a solution might take into account the ages of the charged. If a 15 year old is sharing a picture of a 15 year old with another 15 year old, that's a different matter than a 30 year old doing the same.

Up here in Canada, I believe the age of consent for sex is 14, but there is some kind of provision that older individuals (18+) cannot legally have sex with 14 year old. Something like this might be written in child porn laws too. I mean, c'mon, isn't one of our reaasons for outlawing child porn precisely because of the need to protect the young from adult exploiters? What's next, calling a 13 year old boy who plays spin the bottle with a 13 year old girl a pedophile? What's up with that?

Posted by: PatrickH on April 24, 2009 9:05 AM



omw:

No, it will never die. When I was younger, back in my early 20s, I destroyed a LTR with that stupid shit. Hey, we were both liberal, kinky, and open-minded, what could go wrong, right? Wrong. Our monkey minds aren't like swans, but they sure as hell aren't like bonobos either.

Wanna know the sad thing? Something tells me that if my (theoretical, as right now I'm single) girlfriend wanted to invite a friend, I probably would still jump at it. The mind is moral, but my flesh is still weak, all too weak.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on April 24, 2009 9:17 AM



LOL, Spike, I do know what you mean. So many things we know are destructive, and yet we crave them anyhow. Sick, innit. Human, too.

I imagine there are probably a slim minority of couples out there who stumble onto a successful formula for polyamory.

But it seems to me that there's a very delicate, very individual set of circumstances and personalities and social settings that permit it to work when it does, and those factors can't be blithely recreated at will by just anyone with an itch to scratch.

Posted by: omw on April 24, 2009 10:30 AM



Regarding open marriage, Spike and omw, I agree with both of you. I've never had any experience of that nonsense, never having been married, but I've certainly watched it being revived over and over again, and always with the same air of discovery.

Something that seems to be common to those who revive the open marriage debate: when they look at those of their elders who have tried it, they always say "oooh, they're so creepy!" So Em and Lo laugh at the hippies in purple muumuus, or the frumpy midwestern swingers, and announce that the open-marriage practitioners whom they interviewed were much "hipper" than that. They don't seem to realise that hipness is one of those traits that doesn't age well, and that the hip swingers of today will be the dowdy ones of tomorrow.

Clio

Posted by: aliasclio on April 24, 2009 10:31 AM



Spike:

"In most cases of this nature, I lean towards protecting the innocent at the cost of some of the guilty going free."

So who is innocent? The 14 y.o. girl sending a picture of her tits to her 16 y.o. male classmate is innocent?

How about we prosecute if that "pornography" makes it onto a website or is trasmitted between *adult* males? You're worried about a man storing his raunchy pics on a boy's cell phone? If this is the case, I'm not really too worried about the ramifications of such a situation. The adult "pedophile" has to track down the boy to get his fix? That doesn't worry me too much.

I have a better idea to all of this...if you're a parent, and you find your daughter sending naked pictures to her friends, take away her cell phone priveleges. If you're worried about the ramifications of such "tough love", then you're a crappy parent.

If she continues after her cell phone has been reinstated, slap the shit out of her.

Posted by: Chuck on April 24, 2009 10:58 AM



So who is innocent? The 14 y.o. girl sending a picture of her tits to her 16 y.o. male classmate is innocent?

I meant innocent only in terms of not deserving full-blown criminal prosecution for the creation of child pornography. Termination of cell-phone privileges would be the least of it.

PatrickH, there's no doubt other solutions can be found. However, I'm old enough to understand that *every* system will be abused and gamed. To reiterate, the trade-off stands every time: the more you try to protect those undeserving from punishment, the more 'guilty' will use the same means to escape punishment, and vice-versa.

All we get to do is choose where on the continuum we want to stand.

Laws like you suggest will no doubt protect more kids from being prosecuted, but don't doubt that it will result in some people we both consider criminals from escaping punishment.

Posted by: Tom West on April 24, 2009 12:46 PM



ST -- You hurt my feelings? When? Where?

Others -- Of course they're fluffy trend pieces. Doesn't mean they aren't fun and they can't provoke fun conversations. Besides, why so hard on journalistic fluff? 1) You don't think there's enough significant news to fill up every single column inch of a newspaper or magazine, do you? 2) Are you saying you never enjoy the light sections of a publication? 3) How many people would buy a publication that had no lighter, fluffier pieces? This stuff is journalistic entertainment. Why get all serious about it? Besides, sometimes the fluffier pieces do catch and reflect a little bit of the passing scene.

As for the sexting ... I dunno, if a 14 year old girl phone-mails a nude jpg of herself to her 16 year old b.f., does it make sense to come down harder on him than on her? (If anyone's to be come down on ...) To what extent can the boy in this case be called the guilty party? If he deletes the jpg in 5 minutes, is he in the clear? How about he doesn't delete it for 30 mins? How about a week?

Funny/scary thing is how many of us might have made similar "mistakes" if only cameraphones and the web had been around when we were kids. Given the silliness and giddiness of youth and the ease and fun of today's gadgets, it's a miracle more kids aren't doing this kind of thing. But maybe they are -- my hunch -- and they just haven't been caught. Remember how popular Polaroid cameras used to be? As a Polaroid exec once said to a friend, "We know why most people buy our cameras."

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on April 24, 2009 1:24 PM



Nobody else thought the Nike ad was pretty funny and well-done? Tony Manero lives.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on April 24, 2009 1:30 PM



Another sex-role switcheroo: Suicide Girls appropriate "Fight Club."

LINK

Given what many young men say "Fight Club" means to them, that's gotta be the ultimate challenge to today's malehood.

Oh, that link is NSFW. I hope I'm not too late in letting you know that.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on April 24, 2009 1:48 PM



Trend journalism is mostly annoying, and almost never indicative of an actual trend in the early stages. Real trends don't seem to end up in newspapers until after most everyone is aware of them.

I agree the open marriage thing is both not new and not workable in the long run for almost everyone.

"Sexting" and its online component via MySpace is an actual problem among teenagers. Some of me teenage son's friends have gotten caught up in it with some unpleasant consequences, mostly extreme embarrassment. However, I don't think it should be prosecuted if it's among like-aged people, just as I don't believe in statutory rape if the age difference is small. ANd I agree with Chuck. If I found any of those types of pictures on my son's phone, that would be it for his cell phone privileges. I don't have daughters, but I have to say I'd probably be even more strict if I did. I don't understand these fretting parents I read about (if they even exist) who catch their kids in the act and then worry about how they'll rein them in, all the while NOT taking their damn phones away.

Posted by: JV on April 24, 2009 1:51 PM



I had no idea people were trying to move "bromance" into a more explicitly sexual arena.

I'd always thought a "bromance" was supposed to be an unusually tight pair of young, otherwise unattached, straight guys.

That said, I've never seen an actual bromance in action. Single guys of my acquaintance travel in small packs till they settle into a LTR.

There's that awkward transitional period, too, where the guy tries to integrate his girlfriend into his "pack--" sometimes you'll see five guys and two girls all hanging out.

Three single guys, two couples. It never seems to last.

Eventually the couples drop out, the pack acquires new members, repeats the process again.

Posted by: omw on April 24, 2009 1:55 PM



"Given what many young men say "Fight Club" means to them, that's gotta be the ultimate challenge to today's malehood."

Uh, not sure that photoshoot is a "challenge" to anything. To confirm, I'll have to study it a bit more. :)

Seriously though, ideas like the Fight Club photo shoot are the kind that seem revolutionary to the women participating in it and adorable to the men consuming it. Which, I don't know, seems to please both parties, so why not?

Posted by: JV on April 24, 2009 2:04 PM



PatrickH: Although it is true that "bisexual" men are nearly always gay, and "bisexual" women are nearly always straight.

I guess it's just a question of different samples, but in my experience bisexual men are almost always bisexual, while "bisexual" women are almost always lesbians who want to reassure their husbands. But, hey, I've also observed I think the rant in Chasing Amy about what "everyone needs..." got the plumbing reversed.

omw: God, will this "open marriage" trope never die? Every five years, it seems like some new batch of late-20s people latch onto the concept like they've stumbled onto some sort of brilliant insight.

Where one stands depends on where one sits. I've noticed the same cycle, but I would've expressed it as, "Every five years, it seems like some new batch of sheltered late-40s journalists latch onto the concept like they've stumbled onto some sort of brilliant sui generis novelty, when it's been going on continuously for thousands of years across nearly all cultures."

The man who once said, "Every generation thinks it invented sex," was on to something. So was the one who wrote for a play: "(H)e is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature."

Posted by: Hal O'Brien on April 24, 2009 2:36 PM



Different samples is right, Hal. I'd say that my sense of how "bisexual" is used is quite literally exactly and completely the opposite of yours, right down to every single specific detail.

"Bisexual men are almost always bisexual." I've never met or heard of a self-described bisexual man who was anything but gay (though often able to function with women). Gay has always struck me as being a much harder more fixed identity than lesbian and certainly bisexual.

"Bisexual women are almost always lesbians who want to reassure their husbands." I would say this is a much more common lie from gay men who marry women. Single women who describe themselves as bisexual are nearly always young "campus lesbian" types, while married women who claim to be bisexual are straight women who play lez not to reassure their husbands, but to turn them on, often in a swinging subculture.

Female sexuality in general is far more diffuse than male sexuality, more context-driven than object-driven, with a powerful component involving being turned on by what turns on a valued partner. Hence the number of swinger wives who describe themselves as "bi-curious" or "very bi".

Not to be harsh, Hal, but your utter mischaracterization of "bisexual" men and women strikes me as being built on a complete failure to understand the difference between male and female sexuality. That "bisexuals" who fit your description exist is certain (though real bisexuals are very rare). It's just that the types I described are far far more common.

Posted by: PatrickH on April 25, 2009 8:55 AM



patrick h remember Anne Heche returning to driving stick ?
LOL Love it!

I read a story about a young woman who was charged with child pornagorphy after sendong a nude photo of herself to a firend. Mind you it was her own pic that she sent.

Jack Schafer of Slate has excoriated the New York Times (and CNN too) for that kind of anecdotal coverage, and I hope they get the message and stop deducing massive social change from stories told by three women in Manhattan.
LOL and that's exactly what those stories are but don't doubt the influence they can have on people. Just look at how having a sE.x tape in so common these days after only a couple of celebrities made them.

Anyone notice how many of those "trends of the moment" stories focus on Japan?

Posted by: chic noir on April 25, 2009 4:51 PM



If she continues after her cell phone has been reinstated, slap the shit out of her.

Posted by Chuck

Now chuck, you know Americans can no longer physically disapline their children. To do so may led to your child being taken away as well as having your pic placed on the child abuser web site.

Posted by: chic noir on April 25, 2009 4:56 PM



PatrickH:"Not to be harsh, Hal, but your utter mischaracterization of "bisexual" men and women strikes me as being built on a complete failure to understand the difference between male and female sexuality."

Funnily enough, I would say the same about you. Though I wouldn't characterize you as "Harsh." One of the differences between us appears to be that I acknowledge others' observations may be different, while you write as if you do not. It reminds me more than a little of people willing to pronounce with certainty what's happening to the climate of 197 million square miles of earth on the basis of their local 1000 or so.

I will say that the view you're presenting is very much the one our society generally promotes of both male and female sexuality (although not all societies, nor at all times). Here's the problem with that:

I believe societies are generally lazy and/or efficient, depending on which side of that normative fence one comes down upon. Given that, they generally promote behavior they don't believe happens often enough, and discourage behavior they believe happens too often. Consider how we encourage charity, and discourage murder.

Now consider the implications when it comes to what "everyone knows" about male and female sexuality.

"Female sexuality in general is far more diffuse than male sexuality, more context-driven than object-driven, with a powerful component involving being turned on by what turns on a valued partner."

If it comforts you to think so, sure. I'll speculate you've been told so many times by your partners. Although one should remember George Burns: "Sincerity is everything. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made."

Posted by: Hal O'Brien on April 26, 2009 12:31 AM



PatrickH:"Not to be harsh, Hal, but your utter mischaracterization of "bisexual" men and women strikes me as being built on a complete failure to understand the difference between male and female sexuality."

Funnily enough, I would say the same about you. Though I wouldn't characterize you as "Harsh." One of the differences between us appears to be that I acknowledge others' observations may be different, while you write as if you do not. It reminds me more than a little of people willing to pronounce with certainty what's happening to the climate of 197 million square miles of earth on the basis of their local 1000 or so.

I will say that the view you're presenting is very much the one our society generally promotes of both male and female sexuality (although not all societies, nor at all times). Here's the problem with that:

I believe societies are generally lazy and/or efficient, depending on which side of that normative fence one comes down upon. Given that, they generally promote behavior they don't believe happens often enough, and discourage behavior they believe happens too often. Consider how we encourage charity, and discourage murder.

Now consider the implications when it comes to what "everyone knows" about male and female sexuality.

"Female sexuality in general is far more diffuse than male sexuality, more context-driven than object-driven, with a powerful component involving being turned on by what turns on a valued partner."

If it comforts you to think so, sure. I'll speculate you've been told so many times by your partners. Although one should remember George Burns: "Sincerity is everything. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made."

Posted by: Hal O'Brien on April 26, 2009 12:36 AM






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