Tag Archives: higher education

How The Internet Has Weakened (But Not Destroyed) Organized Religion

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The current state of organized religion is ripe with conflict and mixed messages. On one hand, religious affiliation has significantly declined over the past 30 years. According to a 2018 survey from Eastern Illinois University, around 23 percent of the US population identifies as having “no religion.” For comparison, that number was only 5 percent in 1972.

In other industrialized countries, the decline is even more pronounced. Throughout Europe, more and more people are drifting away from organized religion. That’s especially true of young people, who are one of the least religious demographics in modern history. In terms of the bigger picture, organized religion is facing a generational time bomb that’s just starting to go off.

At the same time, however, religion still exercises an absurd amount of political power. Religious groups, particularly those who align themselves with conservative politics, have enormous influence. Its platform is tightly woven with that of a major political party. Many people in positions of power identify as religious. Many more rely on a religious base to get elected.

It’s a strange trend that seems counter-intuitive. How can something be weakening due to declining adherents, but still wield so much power? In an age where the egregious crimes of religious institutions have been exposed and more people are educated on the many absurdities of various holy texts, it feels as though organized religion should be on its death bed.

While there are many factors behind this situation, I believe that one particular factor is more influential than most. It also happens to be the same factor that has done the most to weaken religion while helping to sustain its political and social influence. It’s a force that has already radically changed everyone’s life, regardless of their affiliation.

That force is the internet and its impact on religion cannot be overstated.

I’m old enough to remember what it was like to talk about religion in the pre-internet days. You listened to your parents, relatives, priests, mullahs, rabbis, and monks. They told you the history and tenants of their religion. You might ask questions. You might not understand the philosophy behind it. No matter how curious or skeptical you were, you could only do so much to question it.

Most of the time, you just had to trust your elders that they knew what they were talking about. You also had to trust that they wouldn’t lie to you, which is often a risky bet. If you were really motivated, you might go to a library and do some research. Even then, you’d have an uphill battle a head of you, given the many complexities behind religion and why people believe in it.

These days, it’s exceedingly simple to fact check an absurd religious claim. If someone were to claim that a 900-year-old man built a 300-foot wooden boat that housed two of every kind of animal for 40 days during a global flood, you wouldn’t have to spend years in college to learn why that’s absurd. You could just pull out your phone, do a few simple searches, and find out why this claim is completely wrong.

Even a kid who has only taken a basic science class can look up any of the stories their priest, mullah, rabbi, or monk tell them to find out whether they’re based on real history or embellished folklore. Religious institutions, parents, and schools can fight to control the information their young people receive. Many organizations do engage in activities that are outright indoctrination.

However, as demographic trends show, the effectiveness of those efforts only go so far. The information about the absurdities, inconsistencies, lies, and agendas is still out there. It’s widely available to anyone who can access a smartphone or a computer. There’s only so much anyone can do to prevent someone from accessing that information.

As a result, organized religion will never have the same sway it once did in centuries past. No matter how much conservative reactionaries complain, it’s impossible to go back. The combination of modern education and accessible information ensures that major religious institutions will never wield the power they once did.

Given the complexities of modern societies and the geopolitics surrounding it, it’s just not practical for a centralized religious institution to exist. The Vatican can still make statements about morality, ethics, and spiritual matters. It just has no means of enforcing them, as evidenced by how little typical Catholics follow their edicts.

Even without this power, the same internet that has permanently weakened religion is also the same thing that sustains some of its considerable influence. In fact, the internet might act as a catalyst that can turn certain individuals from nominal adherents to ardent zealots.

Think back to the young people sitting in churches, mosques, synagogues, or temples. While some might casually look up the religious claims out of curiosities, others might go out of their way to find information that confirms these claims. Even if they’re factually wrong, they’ll look for any bit of information that they can twist to make it seem true and cling to it.

This is why creationism still persists, despite extensive resources that thoroughly debunk it. If someone is really determined to find information that affirms their beliefs, they’ll find it on the internet the same way people find cat videos and knife-wielding crabs. There will even be unscrupulous people to exploit them, including those who are convicted felons.

Like it or not, there are people who sincerely want to believe their preferred religion and will cling to anything that strengthens that belief. Given the open nature of the internet, shaped by the whims of users rather than objective truth, it’s distressingly easy for someone to customize what kind of information they receive.

If someone only wants news and memes about how their religion is true while everyone else is doomed to eternal torture in Hell, then that’s what they’ll get. They can get their news and information from exceedingly bias sources while brushing off others as fake news. There’s nothing from stopping anyone from using the internet in such a manner.

We already see how this has divided people along political lines in recent years. I would argue that this has been going on with religion for even longer. The rise of the religious right and the prevalence of religious media has done plenty to tighten their grasp on ardent believers. While less people may identify as religious, those who do tend to be more dogmatic about it.

Since those kinds of believers can be mobilized and pandered to, they’re a more unified political force. As such, appealing to them means gaining power. That power may be tenuous and limited, but it’s still viable power that plenty of politicians exploit, sometimes to an egregious extent.

In a sense, the internet has made it easy for both the extreme zealots and the inherently skeptical. Those who might have identified as religious out of tradition in the past are more comfortable identifying themselves as non-religious today. It also helps there’s not as much stigma to being a non-believer as there used to be.

At the same time, those who were devout before can become outright zealots if they consume enough extreme content. In fact, their declining numbers in the general population might give them more reasons to become zealous. History has shown that small bands of religious zealots can do a lot of damage. The internet might hinder their ability to gain adherents, but it might also make them more desperate.

It’s a scary possibility, but one I tend to believe is remote. While I might not be a fan of organized religion, I still have many friends and family members who are religious and wonderful human beings. The internet hasn’t changed that. In the long run, I believe that basic humanity that binds us all will win out in the long run. The internet won’t always help, but it’s certainly a valuable tool.

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Filed under extremism, human nature, philosophy, politics, religion

What “Daria” Can Teach Us About Educating (Uninterested) Teenagers

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Some shows have one particular episode that you can watch again and again while still enjoying it. Great shows have multiple episodes like that. By that measure, “Daria” is greater than most. Even by the standards of late 90s animation, the show stands out in so many ways. It’s one of those rare shows that has aged remarkably well and feels more relevant now than when it originally aired.

I’ve already praised “Daria” for its unique approach to shedding a critical light on a world full of lies, half-truths, and fake news. I’ve even singled out a single episode for how the show handled a sensitive issue like mental health. These are issues that have only become more relevant since the show went off the air.

In that same spirit, I’d like to highlight another episode from the show that highlights another major issue. It also happens to be my favorite episode and the one I’ve probably re-watched the most. That episode is “Lucky Strike,” the sixth episode of the fifth season. On top of being one of the funniest episodes of the series, it also has some of the shows best moments while still tackling a major issue.

The issue, this time around, is education. It might not be the kind of a hot-button issue that makes for major headlines, but it’s still as relevant as ever, especially if we’re referring to the American education system. It’s not hard to find stories about just how bad it is, especially when compared to how other industrialized countries do it.

It was a big deal in the 90s and early 2000s, as well. Fittingly enough, this episode aired just a few months before the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, which has been the cornerstone of the American education system. While reasonable people can debate how well it has or hasn’t worked, “Daria” has already made one of the most effective arguments about what constitutes good education.

The premise of the episode begins with a teacher strike, an issue that has become distressingly common in recent years. Lawndale High’s notoriously uptight principal, Angela Li, short-changes a group of teachers who are underpaid, under-appreciated, and have to deal with uninterested idiots like Kevin Thompson and Brittney Taylor. By any measure, they have a very good reason to strike.

Never one to concede defeat or express genuine concern for student aptitude, she keeps the school running by hiring substitute teachers, some of which demonstrate limited qualifications at best. One even showed an overtly creepy attraction with one of the female students. This leads to Daria getting roped into teaching a class.

As it just so happens, the class she’s teaching is the same class that her sister and unapologetic popularity whore, Quinn, is in. Given how Quinn has spent almost the entire series denying she’s even related to Daria, it’s a great opportunity to make things awkward. Daria makes more than a few quips about it in her own wonderfully misanthropic way.

However, when it comes to actually teaching the class, Daria does something that sets herself apart from most substitutes. Even if she’s only doing it to mess with her sister, she takes her role seriously. She shows a genuine desire to teach, but she doesn’t use the same approach as the rest of her teachers. She utilizes her own unique way.

It helps that the class is an English class. Daria is a voracious reader. That is established in the first episodes of the series and belabored on multiple occasions. It also helps that the assignment is simple. The class is reading Romeo and Juliet, a story that almost every high school English class reads at some point. In terms of substitute teacher gigs, it’s as standard as it comes.

I remember reading this play in high school as well. I don’t remember it fondly, though. In class, we would just read through each act, do a few assignments in a textbook, and take a test at the end. Most of the time, the test involved multiple choice or short answer. There were only right and wrong answers. That was really all there was to it.

Daria’s approach is different. Daria doesn’t just teach from a textbook. She has the students read the play, but not so they can get the answers for an assignment. She takes the time to help them appreciate it. When one of her air-headed students doesn’t appreciate a particular part, she helps put it into a more relevant context. It doesn’t just work. It makes the story feel like something other than an assignment.

It’s an approach that anyone who loathes standardized tests can appreciate. I’ve made my disdain for standardized tests known before, but it’s not a personal peeve on my part. There is legitimate research that indicates that standardized testing is not a good way to educate kids.

Teaching kids to take a test is not the same as teaching. They’re learning how to memorize answers for a test. That’s not real learning. You can memorize all the answers for a particular test, but not know why those answers are correct. For someone like Daria Morgendorffer, who places a high value on thinking for yourself, this approach just doesn’t work for her.

For everyone else, the test is the only thing that matters. For the always-superficial Quinn, that’s her primary concern. She laments about how her sister might screw her over or worse, undermine her popularity. It’s such a burden that actually reading the play and knowing what it’s about barely registers.

Then, in one of Daria’s finest moments, she further deviates from the traditional educational model and gives her class a simple essay test. There’s no multiple choice or short answer. She just gives them a simple question.

What is Romeo and Juliet about?

That’s it. The only requirement is that they write at least 250 words and support their answer. For those who didn’t care enough to read the play, like Quinn’s equally-superficial posse, the Fashion Club, it’s the worst possible scenario. For Quinn, who actually read the play, it was easy.

In fact, it was because of that test that Quinn also had her finest hour. In one of the few moments of the show in which she’s actually likable, she defends Daria’s approach to teaching to the entire class. Then, in another pivotal moment for the series, she admits that Daria is her sister.

In addition to this critical moment of personal growth, Daria shows that she truly values people who think for themselves. Even when one of her students makes an objectively foolish comment about Romeo and Juliet, she still gives him a good grade because he actually tried to back it up. For her, that’s more valuable than simply knowing the difference between Paris and Tybalt.

Her approach is even appreciated by her students. Keep in mind, these are the same students who show little to no interest in class throughout the show. They are, like most teenagers, not that big on having to be at school for seven hours a day, learning things they don’t want to learn about. Daria understands this and tries to make the class less tedious. It’s something even an air-headed teenager can appreciate.

Most of them, anyway.

It’s also a valuable lesson that has real-world applications. Some places have even applied Daria’s approach, to some extent. Countries like Finland have a system that doesn’t rely so heavily on standardized tests. Not surprisingly, Finland’s education ranking is significantly better than the United States and by a significant margin. Daria would’ve actually fit in with that system.

It’s not just because that system eschews standardized tests. It actually emphasizes teaching a student how to think and reason. A test isn’t going to reveal that. On top of that, teachers are better-educated and well-compensated in places like Finland. They would not have had to strike like the teachers in this episode.

In some respects, Daria showed how much better someone could teach a class if they didn’t have to deal with the constraints of the current system. It even helped that the Principal Li was more focused on outwitting the teacher union than she was with teaching students. Without those constraints, Daria managed to teach a class in a way that her students appreciated.

Between that moment and the moment she shared with her sister, “Lucky Strike” accomplishes a great deal. Daria has a chance to shine and makes the most of it. On top of that, she demonstrates that it is possible to educate a room of disinterested teenagers in a way that’s genuinely effective.

There are many other moments in “Daria” where major complications, and the many absurdities they entail, get cut down by the show’s distinct brand of misanthropic humor. Daria rarely sets out to make big statements, be they about the educations system or our flawed understanding of mental health. However, she still finds a way to make her point and never crack a smile.

That’s why Daria is so lovable. It’s also why we need wisdom like hers more than ever.

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Filed under Current Events, Daria, human nature, psychology, television

What I Wish I Learned In Sex Ed

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I like to think I had a good education in sex growing up. I grew up in an area that heavily promoted comprehensive sex education and did not solely rely on telling horny teenagers to abstain. On top of that, my parents were very upfront and transparent on sexual issues. They did not lie to me and they did not avoid the issue whenever I asked them questions.

In that sense, I consider myself luckier than most. I’ve heard way too many horror stories about kids getting a form of sex education that’s downright damaging. At the same time, there are some things I wish my teachers and parents had taught me. I feel like it would’ve saved me a lot of stress, confusion, and uncertainty later on in life.

While some things can only be learned through experience, I think in matters of sexuality, insight goes a long way. It’s one of the few acts we’re biologically wired to seek. Even if we find something out on our own, we’re not always going to understand it and that often means making flawed assumptions. That can make things awkward, to say the least.

What follows is a list of minor, but relevant aspects about sex that I wish I’d learned more about growing up. Some of these issues are things my teachers probably couldn’t have mentioned in a health class without getting into trouble with parents, but that’s exactly why they’re worth putting out there. I think these are conversations worth having with young people, especially as we enter a new sexual landscape.


Number 1: What Orgasms Are And How They Differ With Gender

Looking back on my experience with sex education, this feels like the biggest oversight. I learned about male and female anatomy. I learned about pregnancy, contraception, and diseases. I even learned a little about healthy relationship skills. At no point in any of these discussions did orgasms come up.

While I knew what they were, no teacher ever said that word or even hinted that they were a normal part of sex. They either avoided the issue or pretended it didn’t exist. They described sexual function the same way my biology teacher described how animals digest food. This led me to wonder that adults were hiding something from me and my peers.

Later on, as I learned more about sex outside of school, it gave the impression that adults just didn’t want to tell young people about things that felt good. Never mind that orgasms have a lot of health benefits and are a great way for a couple to bond. Not even mentioning them just sent too many mixed messages that only get more mixed over time.


Number 2: Feeling Horny Is Natural (And Not An Affliction)

This was especially common in middle school. Granted, most teachers said that thinking about sex is natural. However, actually wanting it might as well have been the same as wanting to steal a car. In any case where someone might have wanted sex outside of marriage, it was framed as something deviant and wrong.

Again, this was not a religious school. This was a secular public school in a community that was not overly-religious. Even so, every health teacher gave the impression that being horny was no different than having a violent impulse to choke kittens. I’m thankful my parents did plenty to counter that, but it did leave me feeling more stressed than I already was as a teenager.


Number 3: The Sex You See In Porn Isn’t “Real” Sex

Most reasonable adults understand that the sex they see in porn isn’t supposed to mirror actual sex. That kind of sex is designed to be shot, edited, and exaggerated for erotic effects. The problem is that too many reasonable adults, some of which teach health classes to teenagers, assume that only adults are watching porn.

I knew what porn was when I was a teenager. I knew how to access it. Everyone in my class knew as well and anyone who claimed they didn’t were liars. While there were discussions about sex in the media, it never got beyond things like body image and peer pressure. They never actually explained to uninformed teenagers that porn is not a good representation of what sex is.

For men who think they’re supposed to hump for 40 minutes straight and women who think they have to hiss every half-second, it’s an important tidbit that’s worth sharing. It also doesn’t help that porn does a terrible job of depicting romance. Just a simple explanation at how exaggerated it was would’ve gone a long way towards developing a healthy understanding of what non-pornographic sex was.


Number 4: Not Having Sex Isn’t The End Of The World

This issue is similar to the issues associated with the DARE program that tried to convince teenagers to not do drugs. That program not only doesn’t work. It gave me and my peers a very flawed image of drugs for years to come. The way my health teachers talked about sex wasn’t much different.

Beyond skipping the joys of orgasms, they often described sex as this scourge that was spreading disease and misery to countless teenagers. If you weren’t doing it, then something must be wrong with you. At the time, I already had severe self-esteem issues that were compounded by a terrible acne problem that made me feel ugly and unloved.

While no teacher ever said that people who don’t have sex are somehow flawed. They only ever framed people who didn’t have sex as safer and less likely to get diseases. That’s not the same as saying it’s okay, it’s not the end of the world, and it’s actually pretty common. That revelation may not seem like much now, but at the time, it would’ve made a world of difference.


Number 5: Sex Can Be Emotional, Intimate, And Fun

This is a bit more personal for me because I was a closeted romance fan. I’d been a romance fan before I was a teenager and once sex entered the picture, I knew there was a link. My health teachers just did a terrible job of explaining it. They talked about sex as though it was just a formality, like a wedding or a tax refund. Romance and intimacy never entered the picture.

Sex was either just a small part of human reproduction or this dangerous thrill sport on par with juggling chainsaws while wrestling a hungry grizzly. There was no emphasis on intimacy, romance, or just the fun of it all. Couples do have sex for fun. There’s nothing wrong with that. My own parents even told me that. My health teachers, on the other hand, gave the impression they were completely unrelated.


Number 6: Some People Are Just Wired Differently For Sex

This may have been a product of my own teenage angst more than anything else. The way my teachers talked about sex made it seem as though everyone had this scary creature lurking inside them and a good chunk of our lives are spent keeping it at bay. Everyone had to do their part to tame their sexual demons. There was no way around it.

However, that’s not how peoples’ sex drives work. Some people just aren’t that sexual. They don’t get as horny as the average people. When they do, the things that satisfy them are wildly different than the things that satisfy others. Some people have elaborate kinks. Some are happy with a quickie in the shower twice a year.

This idea that everyone has their own sexual makeup wasn’t even hinted at. It made it seem as though everyone in the world, myself included, had the same sexual proclivities. Even though we can’t agree on gods, the afterlife, or pizza toppings, we’re all somehow in agreement on this. I know it sounds like common sense to an adult. To a teenager, it framed the world in a strange, overwhelming way that I could’ve done without.


Number 7: Not Every Woman Goes Crazy On Their Period

I know people don’t like talking about women’s bodies, especially when it comes to that time of month. They’ve been taboo for centuries and for a long list of frustrating reasons. When young men learn about what women go through during pregnancy and menstruation, though, they get the impression that their hormones turn them into meth addicts in withdraw.

Having grown up in a house with multiple women, sharing a bathroom, and just being around a lot of women in general, I know that most women don’t radically change when they’re on their period. Some do have issues. Most are understandable, treatable, and not a reason to fear an entire gender.

In the sex ed I got, I had multiple male teachers joke about how glad they were to not have to deal with periods. These teachers were married, by the way. It made me wonder whether they knew when to leave town or sleep in the basement during certain times of month. It also made me wonder if the women in my family were different because they didn’t seem to go crazy every month.

There’s certainly room to talk about women’s issues during sex ed, even among teenage boys. However, a little perspective would’ve gone a long way. It made being around girls more awkward than it already was. I was a teenager. There’s only so much awkwardness I could handle and I handled it poorly. I’m not saying better sex ed would’ve fixed everything, but it sure would’ve helped.

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Filed under gender issues, Jack Fisher's Insights, men's issues, sex in media, sex in society, sexuality, women's issues

Sex Education Vs. Love Education: Why We Need More Of The Latter

Talk to most teenagers about the awkward moments of their lives and they’ll usually agree on a couple themes. Puberty did all sorts of weird things to their bodies, talking about sex with parents is very uncomfortable, and there’s no easy way to explain certain stains in your underwear.

Even adults who survived their teenage years would agree. That jarring transition from kid to adult is fraught with all sorts of challenges, obstacles, and exceedingly embarrassing moments. I’m not just talking about awkward boners either. It’s overwhelming, so much so that we often need guidance, even though most never admit to seeking it.

This is a big reason why sex education is so difficult, which I’ve discussed before. At least parents, teachers, priests, and poorly-produced after school specials tried to teach kids about these topics. Sure, some of it was misguided and misleading, but at least it wasn’t ignored.

There was one particular topic, which happened to be closely related to sex, that rarely got mentioned. In fact, it was only ever hinted at indirectly, if not overlooked purposefully. It might very well be the greatest oversight that school, parents, and society have committed, short of informing teenagers that pictures of their genitals are never secure.

It has to do with love. No, I’m not talking about the kind we make in a bedroom or within my sexy novels. I’m talking about the real, sincere love that most of us only know from old Beatles songs. Yes, I realize that sounds cheesy as hell, but that’s exactly my point.

Growing up, talking about sex was awkward and uncomfortable. It evoked all sorts of giggles, jokes, and crude remarks, often with respect to certain aspects of human anatomy. At least we talked about it. At least we acknowledged that it’s there and it’s something adults at least try, albeit haphazardly, to teach us about.

The same can’t be said for love. In some respects, talking about love is even more taboo than talking about sex. There was never a class about love. There was never an open discussion about what it meant, how it felt, and how to approach it. We, as hormonal teenagers, were left to figure it out on our own. That already leads to all sorts of problems with sex. Why wouldn’t the same apply to love?

Unlike sex, though, the silence on love has nothing to do with the agenda of religious zealots, government bureaucrats, or parents too horrified to think about their children getting naked. It had more to do with our attitudes, as teenagers.

I don’t know how it is now, but when I was a teenager, I hid the fact that I enjoyed romance. In many ways, my love of comics provided a shield since comics have all sorts of great romance stories. If someone found out I read comics, that wasn’t too big a deal. Liking comics wasn’t too taboo, but liking romance was different.

To enjoy romance, especially for a man, was to be a sissy. It was like there was something wrong with you to actually be into that sort of thing. Just talking about love made you less manly. Never mind the fact that men have done some insanely manly things in the name of love. Just being a fan of love and wanting to explore it was akin to dressing up in bunny pajamas and going to a Metallica concert.

For women, it was somewhat easier, but not by much. Girls were more expected to be into love and melodrama, but that came at a cost too. I knew girls in high school and college who got a lot of crap for being too sentimental, so to speak. Whenever they would talk about love, I could actually see others rolling their eyes and secretly wishing they could mute their friend.

In any case, talking about love was just something that seemed uncool, lame, or insipid. Never mind the fact that everyone seeks love, on some level, and that it goes onto become a major driving force in our lives, just like sex. We just didn’t talk about it and were expected to know it when we felt it.

That, unfortunately, was the most anyone ever dared teach me about love. It was the advice I got from parents and relatives. It was the advice I got from teachers. They would tell me the same things.

“Love is just one of those things you’ll know when you feel. Trust me!”

Now, I trust my parents and teachers with a lot of things. For the most part, the advice my parents give me is pretty damn good. When it comes to love, though, their advice felt empty and unsatisfying.

To some extent, I suspect they said that because even they didn’t know. I doubt they got an education on love, even if they got an education on sex. It’s also worth remembering that our concept of love and actually marrying for it is fairly recent. However, that doesn’t make the lack of insight any less jarring.

Even as a kid, I wanted to learn more about love, but had no idea how to go about it or who to talk to. I suspect others felt the same, but didn’t want to bring it up because it was just too uncool. I ended up learning most from comic books, TV shows, and movies like “Crazy/Beautiful.”

While those offered some insights, you generally don’t want to learn too much from mass media. That’s why we have an ongoing issue about kids learning about sex through porn. It’s also why we, as a society, don’t trust movies to teach teenagers how to drive. We understand mass media is going to horribly skew reality. However, we seem okay with letting it teach us about love.

Naturally, that’s going to cause problems. There are any number of doomed or toxic romances that the media loves to convey as romantic ideals. At least with sex, given the physical elements involved, it’s a bit easier to figure out you’re doing something wrong. Usually, your partner will tell you. With love, though, its a bit harder.

How do you know your understanding of love is healthy or even feasible? How do you know that your concept of love isn’t misguided or flawed? How do you even go about pursuing love, forging intimate bonds, and working with someone to strengthen that bond?

Those are not rhetorical questions. Those are actual questions that never get asked, let alone answered. Humans are a very emotional species. Love is among the most powerful emotions any human can feel. To not talk about it is akin to ignoring that at least half your body is on fire. At some point, the burning becomes too intense.

I don’t deny that our current standards for sex education have room for improvement. However, we haven’t even contemplated standards for education about love. Like our desire for sex, love is one of those innate human feelings that we cannot and should not turn off. It shouldn’t be one of those issues that’s uncool to talk about. It sure as hell shouldn’t be one of those issues that we ignore, especially for young people.

In a sense, though, maybe this is one of those rare issue where adults and teenagers are on the same page. Neither can claim to have a firm understanding of love. That may mean we have to learn and teach it together, but as an aspiring erotica/romance writer, I can think of few things more worthy of learning.

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Filed under gender issues, Love Or Obsession, Marriage and Relationships

Another Sexy College Story (Kind Of In The Way You Think)

By now, I imagine most college freshmen are settling into their new life of exams, late-night studying, and awful cafeteria food. I understand it’s a transition. It takes some getting used to, living on your own for the first time and having to be responsible for your own laundry. It can be jarring at first, but you come to appreciate it quickly.

College is a strange, but amazing experience. It’s like the last rest stop on the road to adulthood and you’re not entirely sure if your bladder is up to task. However, once you go through and do your business, you’re off on your own and ready to be an adult. It’s scare, but you really come to appreciate being able to buy beer without a fake ID.

Compared to the prison sentence/nightmare that was high school, college was breath of fresh air and a mouth full of chocolate fudge. I learned more in those four years than I did the last ten of public school. I actually got to forge my own path, make my own decisions, and carry myself like an adult and not some brooding teenager. It might have been the best therapy I could’ve gotten at that point in my life.

As part of that process, college had its share of sexy experiences for me, but not entirely in the way you think. There were a number of events in college that really made clear to me that I was an adult now and being horny wasn’t something my health teachers would treat like a goddamn chronic illness.

I’ve already shared one of those sexy college experiences on this blog. To date, that still ranks as one of the sexiest. It involved a party, a lot of drinking, and a couple showing off their sex appeal in front of a cheering crowd that I was proud to be part of. You can’t get much more college than that without a John Belushi look-a-like crashing the party.

While that night might have been one of the most memorable experiences I had in college, it definitely wasn’t the only one. Since the last one I shared went over so well with readers, I’d like to share another. This one isn’t quite the spectacle, but it’s still sexy in a more direct sort of way. It doesn’t involve a party or anything. However, it definitely helped inspire the young erotica/romance writer in me.

This particular incident happened in my sophomore year of college. It also happened to be the first year I stayed in a co-ed dorm. It was an upgrade compared to my freshmen year when I stayed in an all-male dorm. Believe it or not, when you put a bunch of young, hormonal men in a confined building who have never been without parental supervision before, it tends to get messy.

Living in a co-ed dorm did help balance things out, somewhat. There weren’t as many fire drills at two in the morning and not as much of the building smelled like sweaty socks. Don’t get the wrong idea, though. Contrary to what “Animal House” rip-offs would have you believe, it’s not as sexy as it sounds.

You learn quickly that putting young men and women in a confined building who aren’t used to being on their own can be just as messy, but with a few twists. When the sexes mix, it changes the dynamics and not always for the better.

It’s not just that young, hormonal men do stupid things when in the presence of women they’re trying to sleep with. Sometimes, the presence of both genders just means both have more chances to do all the crazy stuff they hesitated to do when they were still living at home. This story is a nice reflection of that.

Unlike my previous story, this one doesn’t take place at night or during the weekend. This takes place in the middle of the day, on a weekday, and right around mid-terms no less. It’s a stressful time, to say the least. There aren’t as many parties going on and some of the dorms, mine included, mandate certain “quiet hours” so residents can study.

In terms of timing, it may very well be the least sexy time of year. My roommate, who had a girlfriend, seemed to understand that. I remember him being a lot less energetic during that time, even when his girlfriend was around. However, other couples on my floor didn’t get the memo.

One of those couples, fittingly enough, lived right next door to me. Now, I knew my neighbors pretty well. I often went over there and watched TV with them when my roommate needed some “alone time” with his girlfriend, of which I totally respected. On this day, though, it wasn’t my roommate who was the issue.

It starts at around two in the afternoon. I’m in my dorm, my roommate is in class, and I’ve got my last mid-term of the week in about an hour-and-a-half. Naturally, I’m eager to get it over with and take a breath. Then, just as I’m trying to study, I hear something in the dorm next to mine.

It’s moaning. Namely, it’s the very sexual kind of moaning.

At first, I thought my neighbor accidentally left his speakers on while watching porn. It was kind of an unofficial rule. If you’re going to watch porn, you wear headphones. It’s just common courtesy. Then, as I listen closer, I realize this is not coming from a speaker.

I soon recognize one of the moans as belonging to my neighbor, the same guy who was nice enough to let me watch TV with him and his friends every weekend. I don’t recognize the girl, but I do recognize real, sexy moaning. It doesn’t take a porno connoisseur to know the difference.

Needless to say, I’m a little taken aback here, but I’m also very much intrigued. Remember, these are midterms. These might be the most stressful parts of the semester for some people and yet here’s my neighbor, dealing with it by having sex with his girlfriend. I’m not saying it’s a bad way to deal with stress. I’m just saying it’s a bit surprising, given the circumstance.

I quickly find myself listening a little closer. At one point, I think I stood close to the wall, right next to my closet, to make sure my ears aren’t playing tricks on me. I determine my senses were in perfect working order. This was really happening. A couple was having sex just a few feet from me, separated only by a cinder-block wall.

They weren’t very tactful either. I heard a bed rocking. I heard gasping, grunting, and moaning. It didn’t sound like a gentle, romantic kind of sex. This was the rough stuff and they seemed to really like it. I know because the girl was pretty vocal. I heard a few things from her that would probably get her fined by the FCC, but I doubt she minded.

It created this powerful scene in my head. I could vividly picture my neighbor and his girlfriend in the bed, going at it and loving every second of it. It might not have been romantic, given the setting, but they still made it sweet in their own special way. I like to think it helped lay the foundation for my future efforts as an erotica/romance writer.

I don’t remember exactly how long it lasted. I just know that the moaning and grunting stopped. Maybe they still went at it for a bit longer, but it was hard to hear at that point. That didn’t stop me from listening a bit longer, trying to pick up on the details. Eventually, though, it got quiet again and I surmised they had finished.

All this happened and I still had a mid-term in less than two hours. I’m not going to lie, that was quite a distraction, but one I didn’t mind. If anything, I found it to be kind of refreshing, given how stressful everything had been all week. I remember eventually going to my class, taking my mid-term, and not feeling as overwhelmed as usual. I guess my neighbor and his girlfriend deserve some of the credit for that.

I saw my neighbor again a few times after that. I didn’t mention what had happened that day. Neither he nor his girlfriend brought it up either. Every time I looked at them, though, I couldn’t help but laugh a little. During a stressful time in college, in a less-than-romantic moment, these two found a way to get sexy and intimate. For an erotica/romance writer, that’s nothing short of inspirational.

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Idiots And How They Effect Your Love (And Sex) Life

For certain topics, there’s just no way to be subtle. There’s no way to soften the blow. The facts are just too plain and too true. This is one of them so I’m not going to try and be funny, witty, or sexy about it. I’m just going to come out and say it.

The world is full of idiots.

I doubt that sentence will shock anyone. Hell, even other idiots would agree with it. There are so many idiots in this world that it’s hard to keep up.

There are people who kill each other over what they think happens when they die, but fail to see the irony. There are people who pay more money to drink water from a bottle than from a faucet, even when the water from the faucet is just as good. There’s just no way around it. The world is full of idiots.

I bring up this simple, inescapable truth to highlight an issue that is both relevant and timely. At the moment, the school year is ending for many kids out there. While I’m sure plenty of them are looking forward to a summer of sleeping until noon and then taking a nap, the issue of education as a whole is much bigger.

Also, and you knew this was coming, it does affect your sex life. I’m not referring to the inherently futile issues surrounding teenagers and their insatiable desire to bone either. I’m talking about our collective sex lives, both as teenagers and adults. Education does affect that. It affects our sex lives a lot, often in ways we don’t think about.

For me to talk about this must make me sound like a hypocrite to some extent because I’ve repeatedly and excessively bemoaned how much I hated high school. Let me make one thing clear before I continue. Yes, I hated high school. No, that doesn’t mean I hate education in general. I actually enjoy learning and not just with respect to comic books, cartoons, and female breasts. I’m a curious person in general. I like learning new stuff.

Curiosity is one of those universal traits that’s hard-wired into our brains. We see such a crazy, complex world around us and want to learn more about it. That’s a good thing. By understanding it more, we’re able to adapt, survive, and prosper. It’s one of the few instances where caveman logic works to our advantage and doesn’t screw us over.

The problem is that when it comes to education, we’re still going about it like idiots. It’s like trying to get an idiot to fix your computer. Sometimes, he or she might do something right by accident. Other times, however, they’ll just make things worse.

Idiots are a reason why we still have so many problems. Crime, corruption, injustice, and inequality are largely driven and/or propagated by idiots. That’s not to say those idiots are malicious or cruel. Being idiots, they just don’t know any better. They see what they’re doing as right and can’ think on a level that allows them to understand why their approach is stupid in the first place.

Idiots are also a reason why we have so many problems in our love lives. Think about it. How many bad relationships or failed romances are a byproduct of stupid decisions from people who didn’t know the difference between genuine love and hopeless obsession? Why else would we have creepy stalker pop songs and iconic romances that are uncomfortably unhealthy?

Beyond the dumb decisions we make in our love lives, it gets even worse when we apply that to sex. Even though nature wired our anatomy to ensure that even idiots can successfully reproduce, we still find ways to screw it up.

There are still boys who don’t know the first thing about how a woman’s vagina works. They don’t understand there’s a right way and a wrong way to ensure their partner enjoys the process. At the same time, there are girls who don’t know the first thing about how a man’s penis works or how to keep it working. They either overestimate its durability or underestimate its efficiency.

This is why we have issues like the orgasm gap, which I’ve discussed before. It’s also why we have people who develop unhealthy attitudes about sex, love, and relationships in general. It’s not just that they’re idiots. They’re never given the kind of education that would allow them to improve the situation.

Make no mistake. Education does a lot to improve our situation. It improves our job prospects. It improves our ability to make informed choices about the economy. It improves our ability to form stable, loving relationships that turn into successful marriages. It improves our ability to raise our children. It also improves our sex lives. If a man or women knows how their lover’s anatomy works and can maximize that knowledge, then they have everything they need for a great sex life.

This isn’t a controversial position. Everyone from every side of the political spectrum, with the exception of some religious zealots who want to keep society locked in the first century, agrees on the value of education. They may not agree on the type of education that we should champion, but they do understand the value of having a society with fewer idiots.

In a sense, we’ve made a lot of progress on educating the human race and reducing the number of idiots in the world. Literacy, as a whole, is at an all-time high. More kids today have access to schooling and educational resources than at any point in human history. This is an objectively good thing. It’s why poverty has gone down. It’s why violence has declined to its lowest level in history, despite what the news may tell you.

However, there’s still room for improvement. There are still some woeful inefficiencies in our education system. I know this because I, and anyone else who survived high school, have lived through those inefficiencies.

There were times during my schooling where I really didn’t learn much. There are a few painfully long stretches where the only lesson that stuck was how much I hated school and how to count down the seconds until it ended. Pretty much every year after the fourth grade was like that for me.

Conversely, there were some times when education taught me a lot and really sharpened my thinking skills. A lot of this happened in college. That’s where I learned a lot more about the world and how to make sense of it. That’s also where I refined many of the writing skills that I employ now on my novels. Getting a college education is probably one of the most enlightening experiences I ever had.

That education didn’t come cheap, though. I know I’m lucky. There are some who simply can’t afford getting the kind of education I got. It also doesn’t help that the rise of student loan debt has turned an entire generation of otherwise well-educated students into debt slaves, which is almost as bad for society as being an idiot. That’s a major flaw that prevents too many people from enjoying the benefits of an education.

There are some countries that do a better job. The education systems of Finland and South Korea are well-known for their achievements in education. It shows in their rankings as first-world nations. They are, by nearly every metric, some of the most prosperous nations on the planet. There are other countries that are catching up, but it’s a race with no losers in the long run.

If there’s one message I’d like to belabor when it comes to education, it’s that the world needs less idiots. There are over seven billion people on this planet and it takes only a few idiots to ruin something for the rest of us. By having fewer idiots, the world is inherently better for our societies, our families, and our sex lives. Even if you hate school, chances are you still hate idiots just as much. Whether we’re still in school or graduated decades ago, we should all remember that.

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