Tag Archives: human relations

Gender, Equality, And The Pain That Binds Us

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Imagine, for a moment, there are two kids playing on a playground. Both are young, rowdy, and energetic. They run around, rough-house, and engage in the kind of reckless fun you would expect of most kids.

Then, at some point, they both run into each other. They both get hurt, sustaining similar bruises and experiencing similar pain. They both start crying. Those cries are equally loud and they each shed the same volume of tears. Naturally, this gets the attention of nearby adults.

However, in responding to the cries, one child ends up getting more attention than the others. Most crowd around that child, offering solace and treatment. All the while, the other child is still crying just as loudly. Only a handful of other adults tend to that child, but the crying and the pain persist.

Does what I just describe sound fair? Does the idea of one child’s pain getting more attention than the other strike seem wrong to you? Absent any larger context or notable personality disorders, I believe most people would agree. The idea that one child’s pain warrants more attention than others is wrong. It offends that innate sense of empathy and justice that binds us as humans.

I tell this story to make an important point about pain. To some extent, pain is the ultimate egalitarian. It doesn’t care about your gender, your race, your ethnic background, your politics, your ideology, or your religion. It also doesn’t care about how many arguments you win, how much virtue signaling you do, or how informed you may be. It still hurts all the same.

Pain is, effectively, the one uniting force that reasonable and unreasonable people alike can agree on. It affects us all. Too much of it can leave lasting scars. When someone’s pain is ignored or overlooked, it still feels like an injustice. On the most basic level, pain reveals just how similar we are in the grand scheme of things.

I make this important point in lieu of a revealing conversation I had with someone on Reddit. Every now and then, you find yourself interact with people who help you come to profound realizations without seeking them in the first place. It’s a conversation that I feel is worth sharing, if only to thank the person who inspired it.

The conversation began with a woman posting a brief inquiry in the Men’s Rights subreddit. That, in and of itself, is pretty remarkable and says a lot about the woman. She identifies herself as a feminist, yet she goes out of her way to start a conversation in a place that is sure to have differing opinions. In this era of highly bias media exposure, we should all take a moment to appreciate her open-mindedness.

The substance of her post was not combative or hostile. At no point did she come off as anything other than sincere and curious. These are the exact words she used to start the conversation.

I’m a woman and for lack of a better term a feminist and to be honest I don’t understand why there has to be conflict between men’s rights and women’s rights. The way society is set up at the moment I think women face more challenges, the majority of which are created by men. But on the flip side men also face challenges due to their gender, but these problems are often created by men as well. I’m not saying for either gender men create all the problems, as women we have to step up and acknowledge what we do as well.

I guess what I’m asking is why not try and work with the feminist movement?

When I first read this post, I admit I was somewhat worried about the reaction it would generate. In my vast experience with Reddit and message boards, people who go out of their way to talk to those who disagree with them tend to start conversations that get easily derailed. Whether it’s feminism or Star Trek, people can get pretty passionate with their opinions and that can cause problems.

In reading through some of the comments, there were indeed some crass remarks. You see those in almost any subreddit or message board in some form or another. Not everyone was reasonable during the conversation, but I still felt it was a conversation worth having.

That’s why I made it a point to submit some comments of my own. In doing so, and getting a few generous responses from the woman, I came to this critical realization about pain and how it affects gender issues, double standards, and identity politics as a whole.

When you get down to the most fundamental level, it all comes back to pain. Feminism, men’s rights, the LGBT community, racial politics, ethnic conflicts, and even clashes within a sub-culture all build their movements around the pain their group experiences.

Whether it’s political oppression, social stigma, legal discrimination, or just plain hostility, these groups and the agendas they pursue are forged by the pain they experience. The most divisive part of that agenda, though, is the idea that their pain matters more than others.

With respect to gender, which was the primary topic of the discussion the woman started, much of the arguments could be broken down into categories of pain. For the feminist crowd, the pain they experience from discrimination, slut shaming, harassment, reproductive rights, and specific health issues takes priority and understandably so.

It’s just as understandable that the men’s rights crowd would prioritize the pain they experience by damaging double standards, legal discrimination, circumcision, social pressures, and violent victimization. When they feel their pain is deemed less important or trivial, it doesn’t just inspire resentment. It sends the message that someone else’s pain doesn’t matter.

That very notion, the idea that someone else’s pain is more important than another, undermines some of the most fundamental facets of our humanity. That’s not to say there aren’t times when certain pain takes priority. When there’s an ongoing atrocity, like a mass shooting or a war crime, then that’s an instance where we should prioritize that pain.

It’s an indirect message that few intend to send, but many find themselves surmising. A woman stands up and should that their pain is important. Others interpret that as her saying that the pain of men doesn’t matter. A man does the same, shouting that their pain is important. Even if they’re wholly sincere, women interpret that as opposition.

When it comes to discussions about gender politics, racial politics, ideology, or social justice, though, the act of elevating someone else’s pain over the other will only ever serve to breed resentment. It’s rarely direct, but that’s exactly what makes it so impactful.

If there’s one message that I took away from the conversation, it’s that one person’s pain can undermine the other when agendas take priority over understanding. Whether they’re feminist, men’s rights, LGBT, religious, or racial in nature, building that agenda around a particular pain requires that it be elevated to some extent.

That may be understandable within a certain context, but when the agenda takes on the character of an ideology, it turns that pain into a force for division. Given our tribal nature, those divisions can widen considerably and at a time when there are over 7.6 billion of us, that can be more damaging.

Even with these divisions, the conversation with that woman gave me hope because it reminded me of just how similar we are when you get down to it. We all experience pain in our lives. We all tend to elevate our own pain compared to that of others. However, the fact that we’re all vulnerable to such pain proves that we’re more equal than we think.

I believe we can take comfort in that, if only to remind ourselves that our pain matters as much as those of others. We are, at the end of the day, a compassionate species. We may have any number of ways to divide ourselves, but we have far more powerful ways to bring us together.

To the woman who posted that message, I sincerely thank you. I hope your effort will inspire others as much as they inspired me.

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Logical Fallacies And How They Mess With Your Caveman Brain

I like to think this blog offers something useful other than announcements on books from a no-name aspiring erotica/romance writer. I want to both entertain and enlighten with my writing. If I can also titillate and arouse, then that’s a nice bonus. I’d like to enhance that bonus down the line, but for now I’m willing to be flexible.

Since I started this blog, I’ve talked about numerous topics. I’ve touched on controversial issues like unfair divorce laws, body shaming, and misogyny in modern society. I’ve also touched on lighter, less serious issues like sex-positive superheroes, terrible love triangles, and the joys of sleeping naked. For the record, I still sleep naked and I don’t intend to stop.

Through many of my twisted, and sometimes perverse thoughts, I use a common phrase. That phrase is “caveman logic.” It’s something I may want to copyright or trademark because I find myself applying more and more of it to various issues, be they exceedingly serious of overtly juvenile. It’s not intentional. It’s just that it works so damn well in making sense of the craziness in this world.

I’ve started contemplating a new idea, one that would be a major departure from my typical romance/erotica aspirations. I’m thinking of writing a non-fiction book to flesh out the concept of caveman logic. It’s an intriguing thought. What else could I apply to? Politics? Economics? Religion? More overly sexy issues to explain the insane sexual landscape of this crazy world? I think you all know which one I’m leaning towards.

As I contemplate this idea, it’s worth exploring more of the finer details of how caveman logic works and how it affects us. It’s important to understand because if we can at least acknowledge the mechanisms of our craziness, then we can at least appreciate it in the right context.

Make no mistake. Context does matter. People aren’t going to stop doing crazy stupid shit. We’re a species that obsesses over cat videos, hashtags, and the size of Kim Kardashian’s ass. We’re not a logical species. We can’t expect ourselves to make logical choices in religion, government, popular culture, and sex. I’ve already covered some of the sexy parts of this illogical nature. There’s still plenty more to cover.

The main crux of caveman logic is that human beings are not wired, be it by nature or whatever magical deity you think made us, to be logical. Our biological programming, from our brains to our body chemistry, is wired for two things: survival and reproduction.

Whether it’s by nature or by deity, it makes sense in that’s exceedingly pragmatic. It doesn’t matter how smart you are. If you can’t survive long enough to get laid, your species is screwed. This is why jocks and their meathead kids still dominate in the halls of public schools today. It’s why they’ll likely keep dominating, no matter how many shitty teen movies Hollywood makes.

In the context of caveman logic, it’s important to understand that the traits that aided our survival and ability to bone emerged in the African savanna. Biologically, our bodies are adapted to an environment that allows small tribes of humans to hunt, gather, and farm food. There’s nothing in our DNA that equips us to deal with smartphones that can download unlimited amounts of free porn.

Civilization, despite its many glories, doesn’t always do a good job of complementing or supplementing our caveman brains and bodies. Nature is, by and large, a blunt instrument and not a scalpel. It can’t tweak and fine-tune itself for us as we would like.

As a result, civilization and the complexities of the universe tend to screw us over. When the situation before us doesn’t involve survival and reproduction, humans tend to do a sub-par job of making use of it. This often reveals the faulty programming of our caveman brains. It’s the reason why we do things like mutilate our genitals or overly repress our basic desires.

This faulty wiring can manifest in very specific ways. Some call them logical fallacies. I just call them bugs in human software that nature is not going to fix as soon as we’d like. Evolution and adaptation are painfully slow. Societal progress is painfully slow. There are still countries that practice slavery for crying out loud.

That’s not to say we make no progress. Indoor plumbing, smartphones, and bacon flavored lube are all testaments to just how far we’ve come as a society. However, the bugs are still there. The flaws in our biological program still fuck with us every day.

Just how much do they fuck with us? Well, the fine folks at Cracked.com once again provide a valuable service by highlighting some of those kinks in our programming and they do it in a way that’s funny. For that, I thank them and share with you just how bad those kinks are. If you’re scared, worried, or depressed afterwards, I recommend getting some bacon-flavored lube. That’ll make your day better in some way or another.

Cracked: 5 Logical Fallacies That Make You Way More Wrong Than You Think

Five: We’re Not Programmed to Seek “Truth,” We’re Programmed to “Win”

Go on any message board or talk politics with anyone who voted for George W. Bush twice. You’ll see just how deep this bug in our system runs.

It’s called the argumentative theory of reasoning, and it says that humans didn’t learn to ask questions and offer answers in order to find universal truths. We did it as a way to gain authority over others. That’s right — they think that reason itself evolved to help us bully people into getting what we want.

It helped us get laid and get food. That’s all evolution needs.

Four: Our Brains Don’t Understand Probability

Anyone who plays lotto is proof of this. For the record, I play lotto. Yeah. I’m part of the problem here.

It’s called neglect of probability. Our brains are great for doing a lot of things. Calculating probability is not one of them. That flaw colors every argument you’ve ever had, from the tax code down to that time your friend totally cheated you in a coin-flip.

Again, think back to the African savanna. Overestimating the probability that there’s a giant bear hiding under a rock may be stupid, but it decreases your chances of being eaten by a bear. That’s good enough for nature.

Three: We Think Everyone’s Out to Get Us

It’s not just bear attacks we like to overestimate. Remember, survival is a blunt instrument. You’re not going to do brain surgery with a sludge hammer and avoid collateral damage. So of course you’re go a little overboard when assessing threats. Again, you’re less likely to be eaten by a bear and that’s still good enough for nature.

Think about all the people you’ve disagreed with this month. How many of them do you think were being intentionally dishonest? Experts say you’re almost definitely overshooting the truth. It’s called the trust gap, and scientist see it crop up every time one human is asked to estimate how trustworthy another one is.

So can we trust ourselves? To an extent, we can. Let’s just be careful about that extent.

Two: We’re Hard-Wired to Have a Double Standard

I’ve talked about double standards before. There’s no logic to them, but remember. Nature doesn’t give a shit about logic and nor do our caveman brains. It sucks, but it helps us survive and get laid. That’s good enough.

It’s called the fundamental attribution error. It’s a universal thought process that says when other people screw up, it’s because they’re stupid or evil. But when we screw up, it’s totally circumstantial. Like if you notice a coworker showing up to work high on mescaline, it’s because he’s an out-of-control peyote hound. But if you show up at work high on mescaline, it’s because you had a flat tire and you needed the distraction.

So the next time you hear an athlete meltdown at the end of a post-game show, you know why he or she makes excuses. They still have to pull them out of their ass, but that’s our brain’s default setting.

One: Facts Don’t Change Our Minds

Go to any message board that talks politics and try to convince someone to change their mind. After you’ve punched your computer screen enough times, you should have sufficient proof that this is real.

Let’s go back to the beginning for a moment, and the theory that people figured out how to build arguments as a form of verbal bullying rather than a method of spreading correct information. That means that there are actually two reasons somebody might be arguing with you: because they actually want to get you to think the right thing, and because they’re trying to establish dominance over you to lower your status in the tribe (or office or forum) and elevate their own. That means there’s a pretty severe cost to being on the wrong side of an issue completely separate from the issue itself.

Facts are wonderful things. They help us make sense of the universe, seek universal truths, and expand our understanding. However, they don’t do quite enough to help us survive and have sex so they’re shit out of luck.

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Virtual Reality: The Future/End of Intimacy?

There was a time when the idea of having a hand-held device that allowed you to communicate directly with others, translate multiple languages, and access a near-limitless database of free porn seemed absurd. In fact, it seemed so futuristic that these fanciful devices often showed up in sci-fi shows like Star Trek. How many people who watched that show really thought that such a device was even possible?

That time really wasn’t that long ago. I’m still old enough to remember pagers and flip phones. That alone makes me feel way older than I want to, but it illustrates an important point. What seems like crazy science fiction today can become a reality in the future. It can even happen within our lifetime.

There are people who grew up watching Star Trek who now have smartphones. I can only imagine how amazed they must feel whenever they send an email, translate a conversation, or watch free porn. It’s an amazing and beautiful thing, right?

There’s another futuristic, seemingly impossible gadget that, for the moment, is still relegated to the world of Star Trek. It’s a gadget that also relates to my ongoing discussion about hugs and the importance of human contact.

It’s a gadget that has the potential to disrupt society in ways that pales in comparison to smartphones. In fact, it could be so disruptive that some speculate that it could be mankind’s last invention. Which invention could be this disruptive? Ladies, gentlemen, and those of unspecified gender, I give you the holodeck.

Without getting into the sci-fi jargon that will probably get me beat up by angry Trekkies and physicists, I’ll stick to the basics here. A holodeck is basically the ultimate extreme in virtual reality. It creates simulations so life-like that they’re indistinguishable from reality. If our feeble brains, which are still working under the assumption that we’re cavemen living on the African savanna, interprets it as reality, how can we possibly tell the difference?

Our brains are already easily fooled. It’s not just funny brain teasers that make us question our own internal wiring. As I’ve pointed out on this blog many times before, our brains aren’t wired to make sense of reality. They’re wired to help us survive and reproduce. That’s part of why we have such wonderful evolutionary manifestations like orgasms. In that context, it stands no chance against a holodeck.

It may seem like such an advancement is a long ways off, but I imagine early Stark Trek fans thought the same about smartphones. This invention is already in its nascent stage. At the moment, we call it virtual reality and it’s just starting to develop a consumer base.

Thanks to continued advances in computing power and a growing market for more immersive experiences, VR is becoming more mainstream and affordable by the average consumer. Like personal computers and smartphones before it, VR is creating a new market for new experiences. Those experiences, by the way, will probably involve virtual porn.

New markets mean new profits. History shows time and again if there’s a profit to be made, it’s going to happen. It’s the reason the War on Drugs is doomed to fail. It’s the reason the wars on porn, smoking, and everything fun that religion and government despises is doomed to fail. It’s also the reason why VR will become more and more indistinguishable from reality as time goes on. The recent success of Pokémon Go is proof enough of that.

So that begs the question: what happens to us when we reach the point where we have a functioning holodeck? What does that mean for the human race? What will it mean for our basic desires for intimacy?

Well, let’s all channel our inner horny teenager for a moment and state the obvious. Just as we saw with VHS and home video technology, VR and holodecks will likely be used for porn. This isn’t speculation. This is a certainty. Someone is working on this right now as we speak. You can count on it.

Do a quick thought experiment and picture how you’d use a holodeck. If I’m really horny, I could create an entire army of beautiful women that look like a mix of Kate Upton, Halle Berry, Scarlett Johanson, and even Starfire from DC Comics if I want. In case you’ve forgotten, Starfire looks like this.

See where I’m going with this? On top of that, with the right programming, I can make these simulations do whatever perverse shit I can think of. If I want them to cover their bodies in oil, pour chocolate on my dick, and take turns licking it up, I can do that.

I’m sure that’s not the kinkiest thing I could do. I’m sure there are others out there with far kinkier proclivities. A woman using such a device could create a football team of Channing Tatums and Brad Pitts, each programmed to cover her body in honey and lick it off.

I’ll stop speculating right now because I think I’m revealing too much about my own perverse fantasies. Also, they’re making me very hungry. Maybe writing this on an empty stomach was a bad idea, but it’s too late now.

It doesn’t matter how perverse your tastes are. They can even be outright illegal. So what if someone uses a holodeck to have sex with a baby elephant? It’s a simulation. It’s technically not hurting anyone or anything real. Even so, the mere fact that someone will probably use a holodeck to do something like this is kind of a mood-killer.

Again, our brains aren’t wired to be rational and make sense of reality. It’s wired for survival and reproduction. So if a holodeck simulation is that realistic, our brains literally aren’t equipped to tell the difference.

Imagine the kind of confusion this would cause. Hell, this would be 10 steps beyond confusion. This is a dissociation with reality on par with The Matrix. When a simulation becomes that real and malleable, would we even want to escape? It’s either face a cold, harsh reality or spend more time wrestling naked with Starfire and Halle Berry. That’s not a balanced decision, to say the least.

Whether you’re an anti-social sociopath or a hugger like me, a holodeck can literally give you everything you need to fulfill all the physical and emotional needs you want. I can go from having a three-way with a couple of supermodels to hugging every member of my family, even those who have passed away, on a whim. The caveman wiring of my brain will tell me I’m doing exactly what I need to survive and reproduce. Why would it want me to stop?

The cynical side of me says that I’ll join the billions of other humans on this planet who will go extinct with a big, content smile on my face. However, the less jaded side of me, which also happens to be the side that helps me craft sexy romance stories, thinks there are other possibilities.

If history is any guide, and it often is, human beings can and do adapted to these major disruptions. The 20th century gave us a number of examples, but one in particular stands out. It involves the impact of contraception and, to a similar extent, antibiotics.

It’s easy to forget in a era where contraception is so ordinary that only right-wing religious nut-jobs like Rick Santorum speak against it. Women today have all sorts of methods for controlling their fertility, deciding when and in what circumstances they’ll bear children.

This is a huge shift compared to the bulk of human history where contraception was limited to pulling out, make-shift condoms, and the medical treatments on par with smearing chicken entrails on tumors. Then, after centuries of uncertainty and superstition, we created something that worked. It worked so well that it disrupted a great many these assumptions we once had about society.

Think, for a moment, how jarring that must have been. Suddenly, women don’t have to lament whether or not they’ll get pregnant after one night of reckless indulgence. Suddenly, society has some measure of control over a basic human function. It was exciting and scary. Hell, the Catholic Church is still scared to death of contraception, which is saying a lot from the folks that gave us 2,000 years of hellfire and brimstone.

Despite what religious institutions and bad reality TV shows would prefer, contraception is not going away. It impacted society immensely, but you know what? Society adapted. The human race hasn’t gone extinct. Civilization hasn’t collapsed. The fact that people can now hump without as many consequences as before didn’t destroy humanity. It just freed us up to focus on other things.

By and large, this shift has been positive. As society has adapted, violence throughout the industrialized world has declined sharply. Opportunities for women have risen as well and not just because they can have sex with fewer consequences. This disruption that upended centuries of limits did so much good. So how much good can advancements in VR and holodecks achieve?

It’s impossible to say, but it’s a question worth asking. What do people do when they have a means of meeting their physical, emotional, and sexual needs with relative ease? We’ve never lived in a society like that before. Remember, though, until recently, we had never lived in a society where women had control over their fertility. We had no idea what to expect, but we adapted. We improved as a civilization and there’s still room for improvement.

I don’t want to be too much of an optimist. With every advancement comes challenges and pitfalls we can’t possibly foresee. At some point, somebody will use VR or holodecks to do something that’ll make us throw up. However, like those who use ski-masks poorly, we must take the good with the bad.

In the end, I believe the good will outweigh the bad. I think when human society has a means of meeting all their physical, emotional, and sexual needs, the sheer breadth of human potential will be realized.

What form might this potential make? How would such a society function? How would it adapt? These are all important questions to ask, but they’re impossible to answer right now. That said, they could make for an interesting premise of a book. Think about it, a story involving a holodeck told by an erotica/romance writer who writes stories about strippers and sex cults? That could be interesting, among other things.

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