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May 16, 2016 · 5:56 pm

Why Henry Cavill Shouldn’t Apologize For His Comments On The Anti-Harassment Movement (But Still Had To)

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What does it say about the state of a society when people have to apologize for voicing honest, legitimate concerns? Pragmatically speaking, it implies that the value of truth and just has been subsumed by other influences. Whether it’s politics or ideology, it’s not hard for society to get to a point where unreasonable forces subvert reasonable issues.

In that sense, it’s ironic that the latest person to experience those influences once played Superman, the personification of truth, justice, and the American way. Henry Cavill, whose star has risen significantly since he broke out in “Man of Steel,” got into some hot water recently after an interview with GQ.

In that interview, he essentially made the same mistake Matt Damon made when he tried to comment on the anti-harassment movement. He said something that was reasonable, honest, and understandable from a purely logistical standpoint. He’s worried that something as simile as flirting with a woman could somehow be construed as harassment, which could lead to a full-blown scandal.

For reference, these were his exact words from the interview and the ones that subsequently led him down the same path as Matt Damon.

It’s very difficult to do that if there are certain rules in place. Because then it’s like: ‘Well, I don’t want to go up and talk to her, because I’m going to be called a rapist or something’. So you’re like, ‘Forget it, I’m going to call an ex-girlfriend instead, and then just go back to a relationship, which never really worked’. But it’s way safer than casting myself into the fires of hell, because I’m someone in the public eye, and if I go and flirt with someone, then who knows what’s going to happen?

Now? Now you really can’t pursue someone further than, ‘No’. It’s like, ‘OK, cool’. But then there’s the, ‘Oh why’d you give up?’ And it’s like, ‘Well, because I didn’t want to go to jail?’

Think about what he’s saying here and take a step back to see how he got to that point. He’s talking about being called a rapist just for going up to a woman and talking to her. How is that reasonable? It’s not. It sounds paranoid, but it’s perfectly understandable in the current social climate.

It’s easy to picture a scenario where someone like Cavill walks up to a woman, starts flirting, and ends up saying something inappropriate. That’s not just something men do. Women do that too. Being vulgar knows no gender. However, if the woman in this scenario takes particular offense, it could be construed as harassment or even assault.

If a woman was especially vindictive or just prone to exaggeration, she could accuse him of assaulting her. Even if those accusations aren’t even close to warranting an actual crime, it would still be devastating. The accusation alone would be enough to derail a promising career.

You don’t have to look far for evidence of this. Aziz Ansari was not charged with any crimes for the infamous incident that came out earlier this year and even if he had been, there’s no way he would’ve been convicted. An incident built entirely around a he said/she-said situation doesn’t come close to meeting the burden of proof for a criminal conviction.

That doesn’t matter, though. Ansari’s career has already taken a major down turn. His hit show, “Masters of None,” has not been renewed by Netflix since the allegations came out. Men like Henry Cavill, whose careers are ascending, certainly take notice of that. They don’t even have to commit a crime and suddenly, everything they worked for is in ashes.

For powerful men in Hollywood, it’s a reasonable concern, but one they probably won’t get much sympathy for expressing. Men like Henry Cavill are rich, successful, and handsome enough to comfortably wear Superman’s skin-tight costume. He’s a man who can attract women just by breathing. However, that may end up making him even more vulnerable.

Most people aren’t going to be inclined to make a big deal about someone who flirts inappropriately. When that person is a celebrity, though, the incentives are much stronger. You need only have an overreaction or a burning desire for attention to twist it into something much worse.

It’s for that reason that Cavill shouldn’t have apologized for his comments. His concerns are legitimate and after all the work he’s put in, he’s right to worry about the forces that might destroy it. That still didn’t matter. His comments still triggered a major backlash on social media. He also had to apologize for it. These were his exact words.

“Having seen the reaction to an article in particular about my feelings on dating and the #metoo movement, I just wanted to apologize for any confusion and misunderstanding that this may have created. Insensitivity was absolutely not my intention. In light of this I would just like to clarify and confirm to all that I have always and will continue to hold women in the highest of regard, no matter the type of relationship whether it be friendship, professional, or a significant other. Never would I intend to disrespect in any way, shape or form. This experience has taught me a valuable lesson as to the context and the nuance of editorial liberties. I look forward to clarifying my position in the future towards a subject that it so vitally important and in which I wholeheartedly support.”

Notice that there’s nothing in that apology that expands on his concerns. Cavill doesn’t attempt to re-frame his point or address some of the complaints levied against him. He just throws his hands up and apologizes about everything, as though every word he said was factually wrong.

Now, to be fair to Cavill, it’s very likely that the statement he gave was written by a publicist or agent. Chances are he was pressured to read that as quickly as possible in order to prevent him from getting labeled a misogynist or someone who did not wholly support the anti-harassment movement. Even if he didn’t feel inclined to apologize, he still had to do it in order to preserve his career and reputation.

Regardless of his reasons for doing so, he still apologized for telling the honest truth. The backlash he received didn’t even argue that truth. Most of it amounted to scoffing at the concerns of a rich, handsome celebrity who is undeserving of any sympathy. One commenter even went so far as to call him a wannabe victim.

Such criticism is every bit as absurd as the kind Matt Damon got when he dared to point out that there’s a difference between patting a woman on the butt and full-blown rape. They also fail to acknowledge that it’s entirely possible for a woman to be vindictive enough to falsely accuse someone of a heinous crime for the sole purpose of ruining their career, despite documented cases that this has happened.

It’s one thing to expose the serious crimes of predators like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein. Those cases did have evidence and are being processed through appropriate legal means. The behaviors Henry Cavill described don’t even come close to that kind of conduct.

The fact that Cavill had to apologize sets a dangerous precedent for the anti-harassment movement. History has shown that any movement that throws off honest truth and basic justice is built on a poor foundation. In time, that foundation eventually crumbles and the merits of the movement get lost.

There are plenty of behaviors among celebrities and non-celebrities that warrant outrage. What Henry Cavill said wasn’t one of them. The fact he still had to apologize for his words does not bode well for anyone concerned with the values that heroes like Superman embody.

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Filed under Celebrities and Celebrity Culture, Current Events, gender issues, media issues, political correctness, sex in media, sex in society, sexuality

Technology, Slavery, And The (Distressing) Future Of Both

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Picture, for a moment, the perfect slave. Try to do it without making it a commentary on the current state of gender inequality, racial politics, or working at a fast food restaurant. Treat it like the other serious thought experiments I’ve proposed. What kind of traits would such a slave have?

Naturally, the perfect slave would have to be obedient. He, she, or it wouldn’t just obey an order without question. The idea of not obeying an order never even crosses their mind. In addition to obedience, the slave would have to be robust, durable, and capable. That may require some level of cognitive ability, but only to the extent that it can serve a master.

I bring this issue up knowing that slavery is an emotionally-charged topic with a bloody history. While we, as a society, have made strides in confronting the ethical issues surrounding it, including wars and social movements, slavery is still relevant today. At this very moment, millions of people are living as slaves.

The fact that many people find slavery morally reprehensible says a lot about humanity’s capacity for justice. The fact slavery exists despite that aversion says just as much about the economics behind it. Producing anything requires labor. Cheap labor ensures more profit. It sounds simple, but it understates the massive financial incentives at work.

It’s because of those incentives that slavery, as abhorrent as it is, will likely have a place in our future. Ideally, the rapid growth of technology and automation will eliminate the need for human slavery. Advanced machines that have no sense of self basically circumvents the moral problem entirely.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. We also don’t live in a world where everyone exercises similar moral standards. Some are perfectly okay with utilizing slaves. Some of those people, sadly, are rulers of entire countries.

As such, it’s distressingly possible that emerging technology could be utilized to expand slavery rather than reduce it. I think it’s an unlikely scenario, given current social and technological trends. However, I worry it’s a road our society could go down if our choices are wrong and the incentives are strong.

To contemplate how, it’s important to note the limitations of slavery. While it does provide the cheapest possible labor, its inherent flaws tend to work against any society that relies on it and not just because of moral condemnation.

In any system that uses slavery, there are hidden costs that go beyond human suffering. Slaves require significant maintenance if you want them to produce. A master, no matter how ruthless, needs to care for their slaves so that they’re healthy enough to work. The logistics of that, especially in a world without modern medicine, made slavery a risky investment.

You could say the same about feudal societies that relied on serfs. While it wouldn’t be accurate to classify them as slaves, they still survived by providing slave-like labor to landlords. That may be a good deal for the landlords, but the system has a lot of vulnerabilities.

Historically, waves of death caused by disease, famine, and war hit these lower-class people first. When so much of the society relies on their cheap labor, it tends to collapse or stagnate. It happened after the Black Death and it happened in the American south.

It’s another byproduct of incentives. When you have cheap labor, there just isn’t much incentive to innovate. A lack of innovation over the long haul tends to doom empires and economies alike. In a modern context, that’s a good thing because it ensures slave-based economies can’t function over the long haul. However, emerging technology is in a position to change that.

Think back to the perfect slave I mentioned earlier. Those traits are currently unattainable for a human or a machine. On top of that, human beings are stubborn in their desire to not be enslaved. Refinements in biotechnology, genetic engineering, and cloning could change that, though.

This is where the dystopian potential of technology reveals itself. Even if robotics continues to advance, there’s a chance that the labor they provide isn’t adequate or the maintenance involved is too costly. In that scenario, those with the exceedingly flexible moral standards could resort to tapping genetic engineering to fill the gap.

It’s already possible to edit a genome, thanks to tools like CRISPR. It’s also possible to partially hack an existing genome, although that process is still in its infancy. In theory, there’s no reason why someone with the right tools couldn’t re-engineer a human being into a perfect slave.

That being may or may not look human. They may have a body, a similar muscle structure, and a series of specified cognitive abilities. However, every trait they have, biological or otherwise, would have the sole purpose of obeying and serving a master.

That means editing out the parts of the brain that give someone a sense of self or suppressing it with a brain implant. That also means limiting the slave’s capacity for thoughts and desires beyond serving their master.

Their bodies, as a whole, could also be engineered to minimize maintenance. Their digestive system could be made to require only an intake of cheap gruel. Their genetics and immune system could be structured in a way to resist disease. They could even be made sterile through gene editing or implants.

This is where the influence of cloning technology and artificial wombs enter the picture. One of the costliest parts of the old slave trade was traveling to remote areas, buying or subduing people into bondage, and then transporting them to areas where their labor could be exploited. Once you’ve engineered the perfect slave, though, biotechnology could effectively create a copy-and-paste process.

It goes beyond labor, as well. I’ve mentioned before how advances in sex robots could allow people to create customized lovers. Well, if it’s possible to engineer the perfect slave for labor, then it’s just as possible to engineer the perfect sex slave. The implications of that raise a whole host of disturbing possibilities.

Whether for sex or for labor, crating such slaves would be an incredibly tedious, incredibly risky feat. However, given the economics of slavery I mentioned earlier, the incentives are already there. With these advances, coupled with cybernetic augmentations, and the potential payoff is even greater.

Suddenly, there’s an endless pool of labor to work in factories, fields, and homes. There’s no need to worry about labor unions, minimum wage, or slave revolts. When slaves are engineered at the cellular level to be a slave, then it makes too much financial sense to use their labor.

As a result, future societies will find some excuse to justify this kind of slavery. The precedent is already there. It wasn’t that long ago that people found excuses to justify enslaving an entire race. In this case, though, it would be even easier.

If these slaves don’t come from existing populations and aren’t even genetically “human,” then it’s easy for someone to see this brand of slavery as something different from the kind we’ve utilized throughout history. If these slaves are engineered not to suffer or feel any discomfort, then that makes it even more tenable.

The end result could be something similar to what George Orwell envisioned with the proles in “1984.” There would be this massive underclass population that exists solely to work, serve, and obey. To some extent, it would go even further than Orwell did.

This population of slaves wouldn’t need to be placated with meaningless entertainment, indulgence, or distractions. Their default condition would be to serve their masters in every way necessary. Anything beyond that is never even a thought.

I don’t deny that the scenario I just described sounds bleak. If you have even a moderate sense of decency, you would be aghast at any society structured in such a way. Even if the slaves seemed happy and the people who served as their masters had no moral qualms with it, chances are it would still bother you and that’s a good thing.

I think it’s because of that inherent revulsion to slavery that this dystopian path is not likely. I believe advances in robotics technology is already outpacing the rate of biotechnology. By the time we have the tools to create the perfect slave biologically, we’ll probably already have the tools to make machines that can function just as well.

That’s still not a guarantee. Nobody can predict the future, especially not an aspiring erotica/romance writer. It’s still a potential path, though, and a very dark path at that. As a society and a civilization, we’re still recovering from the scars of slavery. Those are wounds we should avoid opening for the society we’re hoping to build.

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Jack Fisher’s Sexy Sunday Thoughts: Men’s Fashion Edition

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Growing up, I didn’t care much for fancy suits. In fact, I often avoided wearing them whenever I had to go to some fancy occasion like a wedding or party. In time, however, I came to appreciate the finer points of men’s fashion. As an adult, I’ve even had fun with refining my wardrobe and ensuring I look like the kind of man who takes care of himself.

It may be superficial, but there’s a logical purpose to it. How you dress affects how others see you. You send a message about yourself when you show up to an event in a clean suit that you’ve taken the time to wash, press, and accessorize. It further shows that you’re willing to put resources into your image.

That matters to people and I’m not just referring to women. The way you dress and groom yourself conveys just how eager you are to embrace this crazy world we live in. Show others that you’re willing to put in the work and they’ll be more likely to share in the rewards. I can personally attest to how much this affects the way you feel, especially around those of the opposite sex.

I personally own multiple suits and a set of ties that I probably overpaid for. I also make it a point to overdress for informal occasions, if only to stand out in the right ways. If that makes me weird, so be it. That’s why I’m dedicating my Sexy Sunday Thoughts this week to men’s fashion and those who put in the effort. It doesn’t always show, but it sends the right message about the kind of man you are. Enjoy!


“Logistically speaking, unattractive men are more likely to fuck better because they have more incentives to make it count.”


“Sweat during sex is like grease on pizza in that it’s an unavoidable, yet delicious byproduct of something great.”


“When you think about it, big tits are the only pop-up ads that men don’t mind seeing.”


“A woman’s flexibility during sex is directly linked to her lover’s ability to help her exercise it.”


“The female capacity for multiple orgasms ensures that lesbians will always have the edge in terms of sexual stamina.”


“In principle, an orgy in which everyone is satisfied is the truest manifestation of democracy.”


“Seeing a sex therapist is a lot like getting tech support for your genitals.”


I hope that got everyone feeling as bold on this beautiful Sunday morning as I do when I put on a freshly-pressed suit. It’s a special feeling, one that men and women alike can appreciate. No matter what day it is or what occasion you face, looking sharp and well-groomed will make it better. Few men can ever be like James Bond, but at the very least, you can look at fancy as him.

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“Midnight Secrets” A Sexy Short Story

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The following is a sexy short story I wrote involving forbidden love and secret sexy time. I don’t know exactly what it inspired it, but it captures some of the best elements of romance and sex appeal. Enjoy!

It was just ten minutes until midnight. For every other student at Mighty Spirit Divinity School, it meant dead silence and deep sleep. That wasn’t just the norm. That was the rule and it was strictly enforced by a legion of teachers, nuns, and security personnel. For Zachery Barns, though, the rule was merely an obstacle and one worth breaking.

“It’s time,” he said in a voice so quiet that only the angels of Heaven could hear him.

Wearing only the black cotton pants and bland white shirt that all boys had to wear, he slipped out of his bed and put on a pair of dirty loafers he had next to his dresser. He briefly checked on his roommate, Herb, who was fast asleep. He might have been faking, but he kept his eyes closed and didn’t dare glance in his direction, assuring Zach that he was in the clear.

There was an unwritten rule at the school, one that everyone learned after the first week. The Mighty Spirit Divinity School had one of the strictest discipline policies in the state. The running joke was that they micromanaged students so much that their preferred form of worship involved mimicking God’s omnipotence. It was a good thing that the administrators weren’t divine because their record was anything but perfect.

“I owe you one, Herb,” Zach said.

If, by some chance, he was still awake, he hoped his roommate got the message. He’d done the same for him, just as many others were expected to do. Thanks to the staff being so strict, but so mortal, it wasn’t that rare or difficult to get around their uptight policies. Zach knew multiple classmates who’d snuck beer into a dorm, shared heavy metal music that the headmaster deemed Satanic, and gotten around the school’s elaborate internet filters.

To achieve those minor acts of deviance, students and roommates alike exercised a policy of see-nothing, hear-nothing, and say-nothing. Even if someone suspected something was going on, they were expected to actively maintain their ignorance. That was the only way they could avoid getting caught and not have to lie to anyone.

That worked fine for simple forms of deviance. However, there was nothing simple about what Zach intended to do. The risks were greater, the price was higher, and getting caught meant instant expulsion and a very unpleasant phone call to his parents. Despite all that, he didn’t hesitate for a second to take that chance.

“Here I come, my love,” he said, once again making his fateful choice.

With the utmost tact, Zach slipped out of his dorm room, made his way down the darkened hall, and descended a flight of stairs. At that point, he couldn’t pretend he just had to go to the bathroom if he got caught. As soon as he entered the first-floor corridor, the risks became real.

Still moving swiftly and quietly, he navigated the darkened halls to the library. Getting out of the Golgotha Dorm before midnight involved more than just sneaking out the back door. There were security guards placed at all entrances. While most were just off-duty cops hired to keep an eye on things, they had incentives to catch rule-breakers. That was why anyone looking to get off campus had to escape through a window.

“Five more minutes,” Zach said to himself. “Just five more minutes and I’ll see her.”

His heart raced at the prospect, more so after he slipped out of the oversized window and onto the wet grass outside. It had rained earlier that day and the skies were still cloudy. Zach didn’t care, though. In fact, cloudy skies and no moon only worked to his advantage. He saw that as a divine signal that he would be forgiven by God for doing what he did, even if the school didn’t.

Once outside, the young man and former track star sprinted across the grass, purposefully avoiding the concrete paths and the street lights that illuminated them. Like an escaped criminal evading the police, he weaved his way through the row of dormitories that occupied the south end of the campus.

Eventually, he reached a large gate that separated Mighty Spirit Divinity School from the heavily wooded areas the separated the school from the nearby town of Milestone. That was the destination for most young men in his position, seeking a taste of unholy freedom. That wasn’t Zach’s destination, though. He sought somewhere even more sinful.

“Four minutes,” Zach said, eying the fence as though it were a monster that needed slaying.

With growing determination, he scaled the fence with ease, not caring about any dirt or mud he got on his clothes. He intended to trash them anyways and claim he dropped them in a puddle if anyone asked. He refused to think that far ahead, though. Once on the other side, he focused only on his ultimate destination.

“I’m coming, Angel,” he said, no longer muting his voice.

He sprinted forward again, moving even fast than before. He followed a narrow path, one that both he and dozens of other students had carved before. They called it “the sinner’s trail” because of where it led them and what they did when they reached the end. Zach hated that name. He didn’t consider what he was about to do sinful. His brain said otherwise, but his soul always reassured him.

With each urgent step, navigating piles of mud and thorny bushes, Zach drew closer to his destination. It was so dark, relying only on the distant lights from the school and the town of Milestone. Having made this deviant journey before, his eyes adjusted quickly. He didn’t need to see through the darkness. He just needed to get far enough to see one particular sign.

Time seemed to speed up with each step. It was like running straight into the bowels of Hell, but God help any demons or devils that dare got in his way. Nothing was going to keep him from his love. Neither Hell nor Heaven could keep him apart from his angel.

Finally, after what felt like a sprint across the world, he saw it.

“There!” Zach said into the night. “Angel…I can already feel you.”

It pierced the night like a divine spark. A small light from a large, solar-powered lantern hung from a tall tree in a clearing not far from the Uptown Creek. To get to that clearing, he had to step off from the sinner’s trail and cut through some thick vegetation. He’d endured more than his share of guts and scrapes, but the sting was well worth it.

Once he made it into the clearing, the secret sanctuary, as he called it, came into view. To anyone else not as driven as Zach, it looked like a run-down old cabin that someone had abandoned several years ago. To him, it might as well have been a slice of Heaven.

“I’m here,” he said finally stopping to catch his breath, “and with a minute to spare.”

Despite his lungs aching and his legs burning, he made his way up to the cabin. It was dusty and decrepit, having no electricity or running water. It used to have gas, but even that had been turned off. Significant undergrowth covered half of it and the wood had already begun to rot in some areas.

How it looked didn’t matter, though. The structure was still intact. The walls were still upright. That was all he needed…that, and the loving presence that awaited.

“Angela? Angel, I’m here!” Zach called out.

Fighting through fatigue and adrenaline, he approached the front door, which barely worked due to the rusted hinges. He still managed to get it open, revealing an interior that reeked of dust, dead leaves, and mildew. Through that ugly blight, though, the most beautiful voice emerged.

“Zach…is that you?” it said through the thick darkness.

“It’s me, Angela,” Zach said. “Who else would run through the mud this late just to see you?”

As soon as he uttered those words, a couple of lights turned on to pierce the darkness. They came courtesy of a couple of battery-powered candles, the kind that did just enough to keep the cabin looking abandoned while still illuminating the beautiful figure before him.

No matter how many times Zach made this devious trip, her presence astonished him to no end. Angela Carpenter, the daughter of a prominent preacher and a Sunday School teacher, was the kind of woman who could make Hell shudder and Heaven take notice. She face that might as well have been forged by divine forces, a smile that would’ve melted the heart of Satan himself, and a figure that could tempt even the holiest of souls.

“I’m convinced. It’s you!” Angela said.

“Good. Can I convince you to kiss me, now?” Zach said playfully.

“I’ll save you the trouble this time.”

With a grin that empowered his soul, she rushed over to him with an excitement that defied the late hour. Shaking off his own fatigue, he met her several steps from the door, welcoming her into his loving embrace as she threw her arms around his neck, practically jumping him on the spot. When their lips met in a deep, powerful kiss, Zach swore it tasted better than all the fruits of Eden.

“I missed you…so much,” he told her, already breathless.

“Me too,” she told him.

The way she kissed and clung to him, anyone would’ve been forgiven for thinking they hadn’t seen each other in ages. In reality, they’d seen each other three weeks ago. It still might as well have been three centuries. That was how long it felt whenever he and Angela were apart.

She was the kind of woman who attracted saints and sinners alike. It was probably for that very reason that her pious parents decided to homeschool her, carefully managing her life and her education the same way the administrators at Mighty Spirit Divinity School did for its students. The only way he knew her was because her father regularly preached at the school and she often visited with her mother, giving church-approved health lectures.

Angela could’ve connected with anyone and won their heart. By whatever fate or divine will, though, she connected with him. It started with a simple conversation during a fundraiser. That quickly turned into flirting, which in turn became a forbidden affair, one that neither her parents nor the school would approve of.

That did little to stop them. Through texts and emails from secret accounts, they fell in love. He – the youngest of five half-siblings from a broken home – fell in love with a young woman whose life had been guided by quasi-divine decrees from her parents since birth. The nature, extent, and passion of that love soon escalated to a level their respective peers might call sinful. Zach preferred to think he and his love turned sin into something uniquely holy.

He and Angela lingered in their holy embrace, kissing and holding one another with an energy more powerful than any barrier that had kept them apart. As he tasted her luscious lips, he carried his love deeper into the cabin. Along the way, she partially released her hold on him, returning to her feet. When their lips finally parted, if only because of the need to breathe, she stopped just next to the electric candles.

“Zach,” Angela told him, a hint of desperation in her tone. “We don’t have much time.”

“Isn’t that always the case?” he quipped.

“More so than usual, I’m afraid,” she said. “My father has become a lot more…paranoid lately.”

That’s never a good sign, especially for a man of faith.”

“I can’t say I blame him. Last week, he found out my neighbor’s daughter, Ellen, is pregnant.”

“Ellen?” said Zach. “Isn’t she that sweet sixteen-year-old girl who’s friends with all the nuns?”

“The very same,” she affirmed. “Turns out, she hooked up with some older guy she met a bake sale of all places. They tried to keep it secret, but…”

Her words trailed off. Zach didn’t need to know the details. He could figure it out and surmise the implications.

Milestone wasn’t the most devout town in the world, but when sin happened so close to a famous preacher’s home, he was bound to take notice. He could see the worry in his love’s eyes, the extent of her father’s reaction. He could only imagine the lengths she’d gone to in order to get away on this cold night. The fact she still made it showed the breadth of her love.

“He’s been a little extra fiery in his sermons lately,” Angela went on. “About 80 percent of what he preaches now involves sex, lust, and why it’s so sinful. I’m worried he’s this close to fitting me for a chastity belt.”

“Would that stop you from wanting to see me like this?” he asked her.

“God no,” she replied without hesitation. “I’ve been extra careful lately, staying out of his way and smiling like a good girl. In my private moments, though, I think about us…and sometimes I do more than just think.”

A wide grin formed on his face. Only a woman like Angela could speak with the grace of an angel, but still manage to sound sexy. She even managed to make sexy sound more alluring than any sin. She didn’t hide the fact that she often took extra-long showers back home, taking time to touch herself in ways no pious priest would approve.

Those thoughts and the mental images they conjured helped Zach in his private moments as well, but thoughts only went so far. Despite all the forces working against them, they were together now and Angela looked intent on making the most of that.

“So what are you thinking now?” Zach asked, trying to sound at least half as sexy as her.

“I’m thinking we shouldn’t waste a single moment together,” she said, now grasping his shoulders. “If we’re going to pursue our love like this, then let’s make the most of it…literally and figuratively.”

As if to prove her point, Angela briefly slipped out of his embrace and stepped back. Then, she removed the dirty white T-shirt she’d been wearing, which she’d probably worn to bed earlier that night. She had no bra underneath so once it came off, Zach got a perfect view of her wonderfully round breasts.

As he stood in awe of her exposed upper body, she also slipped out of her pink cotton pants as well, revealing that she hadn’t been wearing underwear either. She must have known they would need to make their love with extra urgency tonight and had prepared accordingly. Now fully naked, his love’s feminine features exposed in all their glory, Zach’s passions went into overdrive.

“Hurry, my love!” she told him. “Get undressed. Let’s make that love here and now!”

“Angel, I can’t think of anything I’d rather pursue,” Zach said.

Treating it like a request from the Almighty, he took off his shirt as quickly as he could. Before he could even throw it to the floor, Angela reached for the hem of his pants and pushed them down to his ankles, boxer shorts and all.

Upon stepping out of his loafers, he felt the cool, muggy air of the late night surround his naked body. He immediately sought his lover’s warmth, who once again embraced him and captured his lips in another kiss. It was even more intoxicating than before, the added feel of her smooth skin making contact with his. The way her breasts pressed up against his chest and the way her butt felt in his hands helped elevate his passions for her.

As the embrace deepened, they collectively made their way to the corner of the cabin where an old mattress waited them. It was hard, uneven, and covered only in a set of old white bedsheets that Angela’s mother threw away several months ago. That didn’t matter, though. It didn’t have to be neat or comfortable. It just had to support the weight of two eager lovers in desperate need of a greater intimacy.

Their lips and tongues entwined, Zach summoned his strength and lifted her up off the floor. Angela, now holding onto his shoulders as though they were the edge of a cliff, instinctively threw her legs around his waist so he could hold her up by her butt. Now fully in his loving arms, he laid her on the bed adopt the wrinkled sheets.

“Zach,” she gasped as he kissed down her neck, “such a strong, loving man.”

Now on top of her, their bodies enmeshed by both gravity and desire, he felt even more motivated to express his love to his angel. He learned early on that Angela responded intensely to men who actively demonstrated their strength. In the pious world they lived in, men were supposed to exercise restraint and humility. He could easily see why that would be so arousing to someone like her.

Zach made full use of that kink of hers, playing a more active role in turning their love from feelings to actions. Once settled on the bed, he led a fervent make-session, complete with tongue-heavy kissing and heavier petting. He felt up the full length of her feminine curves, tracing his hand from her lower thigh to her face. She responded with equal intent, eagerly raking her fingers over the sinews of his back, shoulder, and arms.

Together, he and Zach created an aura of heat that made the poorly-vented cabin feel like a sauna. They also helped accelerate the desire. On most other nights he would’ve dedicated more time to such foreplay, but having taken his love’s words to heart, he opted to step up his efforts.

“Lie back, my angel,” he whispered into her ear. “Let me show you how strong my love is for you.”

She replied with only a soft purr, but it got the point across. Lying back on one of the two pillows they had on the bed, Zach kissed her on the lips again before trailing his lips down her neck. From there, he ventured further down her body, making his way past her breasts, over her hardened nipples, and down her toned abdomen. Upon reaching the area just above her pussy, Angela immediately spread her legs.

“God, I want this,” Angela moaned.

“I can tell,” Zach said with a smirk. “I intend to give it to you.”

Putting his hands on her inner thighs, he held her legs open as he began eating her pussy out. She was already aroused, her outer folds wet with feminine juices. He’d been told by many male peers in private that it took a lot to get most women in the mood. Then again, Angela wasn’t most women. She was his angel.

Like a man on a holy crusade, Zach gave her oral sex, using his lips and tongue to stimulate her tender flesh. Angela’s heavenly moans soon filled the cabin, a sound that echoed with her growing desire. It didn’t matter that their surroundings were dirty and the lighting was limited. He loved going down on his angel. He loved the taste of her pussy. It was the true forbidden fruit, so succulent and delicious.

As he licked and teased her lady parts, Zach felt his own arousal grow as well. It had become a kink of his own. Giving his love oral sex made his dick hard, more so than any illicit picture he could download from the filtered parts of the internet. That sexy quirk perfectly complemented Angela’s, which made achieving a level of mutual arousal that much easier.

“Are you ready, Angel?” he asked, looking up from her pussy that was now so hot with desire.

“Yes!” she gasped. “I’m ready, Zach! Please…I want you inside me.”

Heeding the call of his angel, Zach ceased his oral teasing and got back on top of his lover. Her legs remained spread, now hitched around his waist to draw him in. As her loving gaze locked onto his, he aligned his body with hers. Then, with a strong thrust of his hips, he pushed his rigid manhood up into her waiting womanhood.

“Zach…my love!” she cried out.

“Angel,” he said while caressing her face.

The hot sensations of his flesh merging with hers fill his body. Empowered and impassioned by such feelings, Zach began making love to her as much as any man could for an angel.

Digging his knees and feet hard into the faulty mattress, he began moving his body with hers. Again, he set the tone, establishing a strong, steady rhythm. His dick slithered effortlessly within her hot flesh, their naked skin gliding together with each motion. It created even more intimate heat that ignited the brisk night, transforming their sinful liaison into a heavenly experience.

“Oh God! Oh my God! Zach…ooh Zach!” she moaned. “Do me…feel me…make love to me!”

“My angel…my sweet, sexy angel!” Zach said to her.

As their bodies moved together, they kissed and touched as only two lovers could. She always made it a point to feel over every masculine contour, from his face to his chest to his butt. He often did the same, committing every inch of her flesh to memory with his hands and his lips. They had to be especially thorough tonight, given the forbidden nature of their love.

That meant making every touch, thrust, and affectionate gesture count. With that in mind, Zach pushed the limits of his sexual endurance with his angel. Together, they rolled around atop the tattered mattress, making love in various positions, not caring which were considered sinful by the church. She got on her hands and knees so he could thrust into her from behind. She got on top of him and rode his cock like an unrepentant temptress. He even laid her down on her side and took her from behind, allowing him reach around and fondle her clitoris, which he knew she loved.

“More! Make love to me more, Zach!” she kept saying in between.

He continued to oblige, never once losing focus on his angel. The way she moaned and gasped a few times, Zach was fairly certain his angel had climaxed more than once. Angela once said that being the sheltered daughter of a preacher meant having a lot of pent up energy, as she called it. As such, it did not take much to make her orgasm. She claimed having to do so much in private made her extra efficient.

In any case, her cries of euphoria helped fuel his own pursuit of bliss. Always one to make their sex memorable, Zach made sure to maximize the total experience. Even with time, circumstances, and possibly divine forces working against them, he still worked his way towards a powerful climax.

“I’m close, Angel! I’m so…so close!” he grunted, his body aching for his release.

“Me too, my love,” she told him. “Come…let’s share it together.”

Fittingly enough, they were in the position that required the most strength. Propped on his knees in the center of the mattress, his lover’s legs arched over his arms as she held onto his neck, he eagerly bounced her up and down his cock. She supplemented his every motion, really working her tight folds along the length of his manhood. Between his strength and her dedicated effort, they achieved the kind of release that was nothing short of divine.

“Ohhh Angel!”

“Ohhh Zach!”

It hit like a lightning bolt, striking him in the depths of his core and spreading rapidly in all directions. In an instant, their bodies froze. He dug his nails into her hips while she did the same to his neck. In that moment of pure ecstasy, they climaxed.

He wasn’t sure if their orgasms were simultaneous, but it must have been pretty close. Waves of intense, powerful pleasure surged through his body in conjunction with his sexual release. He felt his member throb inside her, his cum mixing with her juices. It was a perfect blend of physical intimacy with emotional intimacy. Gazing at his angel, her face almost as sweaty as his, the line between love and bliss disappeared.

“I love you,” he said to her.

“I love you too,” his Angel told him.

“No matter what keeps us apart…divine or otherwise…I’ll find a way to love you.”

“And I’ll find a way to embrace it.”

Giving him another one of those beaming smiles, she kissed him and he kissed back. As their naked bodies settled from their shared orgasm, they laid back down on the mattress and cherished their embrace. Zach understood as much as her that there were a lot of forces working against them. However, the fact they had to go to such lengths just to express their love made him all the more certain that it was as blessed as anything in Heaven.

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Reflecting On The Balanced (But Bland) Romance In “Ant Man And The Wasp”

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Whenever I go into a Marvel movie these days, I often wonder whether this will be the movie that finally derails the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s unprecedented winning streak. Whenever I to go to see any other kind of superhero movie, I just wonder whether or not it’ll fail miserably. For some, the extent of that failure can be pretty egregious.

It says something about the brand that Kevin Feige and Disney have created when the quality of a movie is assumed by the audience. Ever since the first “Iron Man,” the MCU has found ways to raise the bar, match it, raise it again, and make billions in the process. The brand is so strong that it can turn obscure comics involving talking raccoons into a global phenomenon.

It’s for that reason I wasn’t at all surprised when Feige and our Disney overlords turned “Ant Man” into another successful franchise. Granted, he’s not nearly on the same level as Iron Man or Captain America, but he doesn’t have to be. The fact his first movie made over $500 million is proof that even obscure characters can play a part in the MCU’s winning streak.

For the most part, I thought “Ant Man” was a decent movie. It was fun, but not on the same level as “Guardians of the Galaxy” or “Thor: Ragnarok.” However, what really got me excited for the inevitable sequel was the promise of a more meaningful romantic sub-plot between Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne.

When I heard that the title of the sequel was “Ant Man and the Wasp,” I grew even more hopeful. The first movie did a lot to establish the connection between Scott and Hope. Unlike the other romantic connections that have emerged in the MCU, this one had the potential to become something more than just a standard plot device.

It’s an understated, but emerging issue in the MCU. When it comes to romance, Marvel movies have a frustrating tendency to only go so far. Sure, it has romantic moments between Captain America and Peggy Carter, Tony Stark and Pepper Potts, and Black Panther and Nakia. However, those moments rarely go beyond moving the plot forward.

With Ant Man and Wasp, there’s an opportunity to inject a more refined level of romance into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Beyond just giving characters added motivation, this is a relationship that can function more like a partnership rather than a plot catalyst. A good romance, after all, is an exercise in developing quality partnerships.

This is what I was hoping to see with “Ant Man and the Wasp” in addition to Paul Rudd finding new ways to be hilarious. Being a self-professed lover of romance, I wanted to see this romantic evolution happen on-screen and within the context of a larger story. Looking back on it, I might have been hoping for too much.

That’s not to say my hopes were dashed for this movie. I’ll gladly go on record as saying that “Ant Man and the Wasp” is a solid movie that improves on its predecessor. At the same time, though, I felt this movie was a missed opportunity to give the MCU an element that it has been sorely lacking for a while now.

Ever since Thor’s relationship with Jane Foster was unceremoniously cast aside after “Thor: The Dark World,” Marvel movies have been doing the bare minimum when it comes to romance. I would argue that has been part of a larger trend within superhero movie not involving Deadpool.

From the beginning, “Ant Man and the Wasp” sets itself apart by having Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne operate as an equal partnership. They both have plenty of moments where they show off their skill. Hope gets to show off early by really shining as Wasp. Scott contributes later on in ways that are both cunning and hilarious.

In my opinion, the most important achievement of this movie is establishing how complementary Hope and Scott are as a duo. On their own, they show they’re plenty capable. However, they can only achieve what they want when they work together. That, in essence, is the foundation of any meaningful romance.

Unfortunately, “Ant Man and the Wasp” doesn’t do much to build on that foundation. There are a few romantic moments, but they’re very small and usually involve puppy love glances. There aren’t any instances where Hope and Scott get that intimate. They work together and they work well, but it’s exceedingly basic.

There’s never an impression that their relationship deserves to be elevated above a relationship like Thor and Jane. Even though Hope and Scott is a lot more balanced in terms of how they function together, it’s not necessarily the kind of love story that will strike an emotional chord.

They work well together and they’re attracted to one another. Their romance is basically not that different than a typical office romance. In many respects, their relationship is overshadowed by the one between Hank Pym and his missing wife, Janet. That ends up being a more compelling love story, which is saying a lot given the complications of their relationship in the comics.

Even that romantic element is relatively basic, though. Much of the conflict revolves around Ant Man and Wasp’s efforts to save Janet from the quantum realm, where she’s been trapped for years. It creates plenty of family-driven drama, which certainly has its appeal. In terms of overall drama, though, it only goes so far.

Outside those romantic elements, “Ant Man and the Wasp” does everything it needs to in order to maintain the brand of the MCU. It’s coherent, concise, and entertaining. The movie relies heavily on the comedic elements, which fits perfectly for a character who rides around on ants.

Ant Man is not Black Panther, Captain America, or Thor. Wasp is not Black Widow, Gamora, or Peggy Carter. They don’t try to be more than who they are. They stick to the core of their character. In an era where superheroes try too hard to be like Batman, this counts as an accomplishment.

In this same era, there’s a similar effort to develop more balanced female characters who aren’t Wonder Woman. Wasp definitely counts as progress in that effort. She can hold her own, kick ass, and complement those around her, whether that’s Scott Lang or Hank Pym. She’s still no Wonder Woman, but Marvel may be saving that effort for “Captain Marvel.”

In terms of the villain in this movie, “Ant Man and the Wasp” manages to get by with Ghost. While there is some intrigue with her character, she does little to make herself memorable. Compared to Erik Killmonger, who stole the show in “Black Panther,” Ghost was more an obstacle than a villain. She still got the job done and did so with personality.

Overall, if I had to score “Ant Man and the Wasp,” I would give it a 7 out of 10. It’s an all-around solid movie that’s fun, entertaining, and satisfying. It’s definitely a breath of fresh air after the grim circumstances surrounding “Avengers: Infinity War,” at least until the post-credits scene. However, the romance lover in me still feels that it left much of its potential untapped.

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Filed under Movie Reviews, movies, romance, superhero movies

The following is a review I wrote for PopMatters on X-23 #1. Enjoy!

It’s Back to Brutal Basics for Laura in ‘X-23 #1’

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July 12, 2018 · 6:03 pm

Why I Don’t Use The Term “Social Justice Warrior” And Ideas For A Better Label

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Every now and then, I get comments and criticisms about my writing style. Some are constructive. Some are just angry rants that I’m perfectly content to ignore. There is one criticism, though, that I feel is worth addressing.

Specifically, it involves some specific terms I avoid using. Most people with an internet connection or access to cable news have probably heard the term “social justice warrior” at least once. It’s rarely in a positive light. It’s often used as an insult or a signal that you’re about to say something that’s going to evoke a lot of angry comments on social media.

I’ve been tempted to use it in the past. I’ve discussed many topics involving feminism, men’s issues, and social inequality that often get people throwing that term around as though it were a demonic chant. There’s a reason I’ve avoided it, though, and I hope to demonstrate that it’s a good reason.

First off, I want to make clear that I despise the term “social justice warrior” almost as much as I despise “toxic masculinity,” a phrase I believe cannot fade from our language fast enough. I see this label as one of the worst manifestations of the English language since the hippie era and at least they could blame psychedelic drugs.

I also believe that its continued usage will do more to breed hatred, outrage, and division at a time when we’re already more divided than ever. It derails a conversation and detracts from discussions about serious issue involving society, justice, and gender. This term is literally holding back progress, which is ironic given the nature of its definition.

The actual definition of a social justice warrior, or SJW as it’s colloquially used, is somewhat vague. It’s a modern-day catch-all term for a particular brand of politics and social attitudes. According to Wikipedia, the definition is as follows:

A pejorative term for an individual who promotes socially progressive views, including feminism, civil rights, and multiculturalism, as well as identity politics. The accusation that somebody is an SJW carries implications that they are pursuing personal validation rather than any deep-seated conviction, and engaging in disingenuous arguments.

I think that definition covers most of the most common ways the term is used, but I think it underscores how much vitriol it inspires. Spend any amount of time on social media and you’ll find some of the most hateful, demeaning, and divisive rhetoric you can imagine.

However, it’s not just the extreme rhetoric this term inspires that discourages me from using it. It’s not even the tendency for a conversation to devolve rapidly as soon as the words “social justice warrior” show up in a sentence. What I find most objectionable about this term is how fundamentally dishonest it is.

To illustrate how, look at the anti-abortion movement, another extremely divisive issue that tends to evoke all the wrong emotions. There are some pretty passionate opponents to abortion, but they don’t call themselves anti-abortion. They call themselves “pro-life.” It’s a disingenuous term, but from a marketing standpoint, it’s brilliant.

That’s because, if you go by the literal meaning of the words, it means you’re for life in general. It doesn’t directly imply anything about abortion. By calling themselves “pro-life,” they skew the meaning so that they can claim they’re on the side of all things alive and good.

Again, it’s a smart ploy, but it’s also dishonest and George Carlin did a brilliant job of explaining why. Those who use the “social justice” label use a similar tactic. They use words that denote inherently positive concepts like society and justice. However, I would argue that this ploy is even more dishonest than those hiding behind the “pro-life” table.

Most reasonable people are for justice. They’re also for a functional society in which people of any race, gender, religion, or ethnic background can live in peace and enjoy the same protections under the law. On paper, we have that. In practice, there’s room for improvement.

However, whenever I listen to someone who adheres to the Wikipedia definition of “social justice warrior,” I never get the impression that their ideas of justice are genuine. They tend to reflect a personal, selfish brand of justice that is more concerned with how the world makes them feel and less with how it really works.

A “social justice warrior” will look at issues like female depictions in video games, cultural appropriation in media, and proper pronoun usage and not see the full picture. In fact, they’ll go out of their way to ignore that picture and focus only on the parts that sends their emotions into overdrive.

It’s not enough to just criticize these injustices. A “social justice warrior” has to treat them like some grand conspiracy by wannabe fascists who bathe in the tears of orphans and wish they could still own slaves. It becomes a potent blend of holier-than-thou grandstanding and virtue signaling. To say that brings out the worst in some people would be an understatement.

Talk to most people outside a 4chan board and chances are, they’ll be in favor of a just society whether they’re liberal, conservative, progressive, feminist, or whatever other political affiliation they may have. The fact that “social justice” now has more to do with misguided outrage and little to do with actual justice is downright tragic.

The term gets thrown around so often that I’ve made a conscious decision to just avoid using it in my writing. After this article, I intend to use different words that I feel are more reflective of the outrageous attitudes that “social justice warrior” evokes.

I’m not doing that because using words gives them power and I don’t want to give “social justice warrior” more power than it already has. While I doubt that’ll reduce the vitriol it currently carries, I still prefer terminology that’s more reflective of these damaging attitudes.

In the name of offering some potential solutions to this issue, I want to put forth a new approach to dealing with the “social justice warrior” phenomenon. I believe that it reflects an ideology that’s worth confronting. It espouses attitudes that promote censorship, infantilize groups of people, and elevates one person’s feelings over another for all the wrong reasons.

These are people and attitudes that will continue to make noise and push bad ideas on a society that already has too many circling around. For that reason, I believe that warrants creating some new labels for them, one that I think is more descriptive of what they truly area. Here are just a few.

Professional Whiner

Regressive Whiner

Weakly Whiner

Sad Whiner

I think the theme here is pretty obvious. Most of the time, “social justice warriors” don’t really protest. They whine. They whine in a way that’s worse than any child. They don’t try to solve a problem. They don’t try to learn the facts and figure out a better process for doing something. They just whine.

That’s not just pathetic. That makes whole “warrior” part of their label hypocritical. Warriors are supposed to fight and not whine. When reality doesn’t cater to your feelings, whining never changes that. A “social justice warrior” may even understand that, but they also understand that without validation of some sort, their outrage is empty.

That, I believe, is the key to confronting the misguided attitudes of the “social justice warrior” phenomenon. Attitudes that have little to do with actual justice or a healthy society need to be called out for what they are. I say that as someone who does have attitudes that some may consider progressive, but I understand that whining about them won’t do much to further those ideals.

At the end of the day, if all “social justice warriors” have to go on is whining, then the harsh reality of the world will do plenty to undercut their attitudes in the long run. Calling them what they truly are will just help remind them a little sooner.

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