Tag Archives: popular culture

Teaching About Sex, Consent, And Relationships (Through Video Games)

Let’s face it. Most kids aren’t that eager to learn about the stuff that their teachers, parents, and school administrators want them to learn about. They’re not interested in knowing the skills that will make them healthy, productive, tax-paying consumers who will keep society running. They’re interested in the skills that will make them popular and/or get them laid.

The deficiencies of our education system are many and I’ve made no secret of my disdain for the experiences I had within that system. However, I don’t want to dwell too much on that this time. Talking about how much I hated high school is rarely that sexy.

Instead, I want to focus on something that most kids are eager to enjoy and how some people are using that to improve their understanding of sex, sexuality, and relationship. What could kids possibly excite kids that much to learn about something that they would rather not learn from the same gym teacher that makes them run laps in winter?

The answer is more obvious than you think. It’s video games. Admit it, that almost makes too much sense.

There’s no question that kids love playing video games more than learning about quadratic functions. According to a survey done by the MacArthur Foundation, approximately 97 percent of kids between the ages of 12 and 17 play video games. When it comes to statistics and surveys, you can’t get much more definitive without asking kids whether chocolate fudge tastes good.

Kids might not be able to agree whether Superman could beat the Hulk, which he totally could, but they agree that video games are awesome. So if kids love video games so much, why not use that love to teach them valuable lessons about sex, relationships, and consent?

That’s not a rhetorical question. I’m not being facetious either. It’s not about the medium or whatever asinine controversies it may have. It’s about working with what kids already love and using that to help them in valuable ways. It’s not that radical a concept. Hit movies have been made about it.

When it comes to teaching kids about sex, though, I wouldn’t expect Edward James Olmos to star in a movie about that. That doesn’t mean the concept is entirely flawed. Teaching kids about sex is hard enough. Teaching them in a way they’ll remember and take seriously might be beyond the power of Hollywood.

That still doesn’t stop some from trying. In a story by Kimberly Lawson at Vice, an associate professor of medicine at Yale University has helped create a game called PlayForward: Elm City Stories. It’s a fairly straightforward, two-dimensional role playing game that is less about killing aliens or Nazis and more about guiding players through a narrative, showing how their decisions affect them along the way.

That’s not quite as radical as it sounds. Role-playing games represent a large chunk of the video game industry. Major game franchises like “Mass Effect” and “Final Fantasy” are built around the idea of having players make choices and face repercussions of those choices. Take away the aliens and the monsters, though, and you’ve got a solid basis for understanding real life choices.

PlayForward: Elm City Stories plays less like Dungeons & Dragons and more like the classic board game, Life. In it, you play as avatar in a fictional, but fairly realistic city where you have to navigate a variety of activities and make choices along the way.

Some of those activities involve who you your friends are. Some involve going to certain events and parties. Some even involve whether or not to make out with a cute girl. It may sound mundane, but like most RPGs, the appeal is diving into the world of the character and leading them through it. Here’s how Vice describes the experience.

Players have to make important, life-changing decisions, including whether or not they should go upstairs to make out with someone, if they should use a condom or not during sex, and whether they should accept pills found in someone’s grandmother’s medicine cabinet. At any point, they can fast-forward to the epilogue to see what their character’s life looks like at 30, based on the decisions they’ve made.

Through that experience, players learn about more than just saying no to the guy on the street corner offering a free hit of crack. They experience both the short-term and long-term impacts of their decisions. Given the notoriously short attention spans and limited foresight of kids, that kind of insight in indispensable when teaching them about sex and relationships.

It’s no “Super Mario Brothers,” but the lessons it conveys are more valuable than any princess. It puts the players in a position to choose the right and wrong path. It shows them just how right and wrong those paths can be in the long run for their character and themselves, by default.

Beyond just consequences, the game gives players a chance to explore situations involving intimacy, consent, and relationships. Their choices help forge the relationships they have throughout the game. To get a better outcome, they actually need a better understanding of intimacy and consent. The fact that gives them tools to apply those lessons in the real world just a pleasant side-effect.

In a sense, PlayForward: Elm City Stories is coming along at the perfect time. We live in a world where sexual harassment and sexual assault are heated issues. We, as a society, are not as willing to turn a blind eye to these sorts of indiscretions anymore.

Just punishing the Harvey Weinsteins of the world isn’t enough, though. We need to teach the emerging generation that there’s a time and a place to show a beautiful woman your genitals. Knowing those circumstances will be the difference between having a great sex life and being sued into oblivion.

Kids aren’t going to learn those skills through lectures, after school specials, and cute puppets. Some of the most effective learning methods involve active engagement with real activities that offer real rewards. In that sense, video games are the perfect medium for that kind of teaching.

While I doubt that PlayForward: Elm City Stories will win any game of the year awards, it sets an important precedent that is worth building upon. Saving princesses and shooting killer aliens is still fun, but learning about relationships, consent, and sex will take a player much further in life.

Kids, and people in general, learn best when they don’t know they’re learning something. Video games may still have a nasty reputation in some circles, but it offers opportunities to teach valuable skills that aren’t easy to teach, especially to hormonal teenagers. We should take advantage of those opportunities and hopefully, PlayForward: Elm City Stories is just the beginning.

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Filed under Current Events, gender issues, sex in media

My Top 5 Favorite Fan Theories

There are many guilty pleasures on the internet these days, although only a few require a total clearing of your browser history. I don’t deny enjoying some of those pleasures, but there is one in particular that I’ve grown fond of in recent years. It’s one of the few that requires extra thinking, but in a fun, non-tedious sort of way.

I’m referring about fan theories, also known as the biggest chunk of Reddit that doesn’t involve celebrities answering random questions about their genitals. Now, I didn’t realize how much I loved fan theories until I started exploring them. Like pumpkin spice lattes, they’re one of those strange novelties you don’t know you like until you try them.

I didn’t even know they were a thing until Cracked.com started doing articles about them. I was among those who didn’t bother reading too much into a TV show, movie, or song. I just took them in, singled out the ones that had beautiful women in bikinis, and enjoyed the extra butter in my popcorn. Fan theories inspired me to dig a little deeper and sometimes, it can change the overall experience for the better.

Granted, some fan theories are going to be much more absurd than others, as many “Game of Thrones” fans will attest. Some are so absurd that creators have to come out and shoot it down, as a “Friends” co-creator had to do when a theory involving Phoebe and meth-fueled fantasies gained popularity. Yes, these theories can get that crazy.

Sure, those crazier fan theories are good for a laugh, but I prefer fan theories that add nuance and depth to the story. Even if they require a few contrivances here and there, I find that they enhance the overall impact of the narrative. Sometimes, they can even clarify some ambiguous plot points.

As a general fan of stories that have impact, both in the heart and in the loins, there are certain fan theories that resonate with me more than others. That’s why I’d like to list my top five favorite fan theories and why I think they improve the overall story. If nothing else, I hope it gets people to watch a little closer at the media they consume. They may surprise themselves by how a little imagination can add to the experience.


Fan Theory #1: James Bond Is A Title, Not A Name

This fan theory is beautiful in its simplicity. It doesn’t require a huge stretch of the imagination. If anything, it helps connect a few dots that you didn’t even know where there. No matter which version of James Bond you prefer, from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig, this theory fits into it.

The concept is simple. James Bond, like the 007 designation itself, isn’t the name of an actual person. It’s a title. This doesn’t necessarily mean that every James Bond movie ever made fits into the same continuity. It just means James Bond is less a person and more a concept.

He represents the epitome of a spy, a badass, and a smooth-talking ladies man. In every era, from the Cold War to today, there’s a need for men like that. James Bond represents the ideal for those men. Like Navy Seals, only a few have what it takes. Those select few earn the right to go by that name that makes women of all eras swoon. I find that inherently poetic.

If you subscribe to this theory, it even enhances other movies. It ties directly into a theory about the movie, “The Rock,” and somehow it makes Sean Connery even more badass. The sheer reach of this theory is part of why it’s my favorite.


Fan Theory #2: Stan Lee Is The Watcher

As a die-hard comic book fan, which I’ve made clear on many occasions, this theory is near and dear to my heart, if only because it further immortalizes the legend that is Stan “The Man” Lee.

As anyone who has seen a Marvel movie since 2000 knows, Stan Lee often appears as a cameo in every movie. From a hot dog vendor in “X2: X-men United” to a Fed Ex guy in “Captain America: Civil War,” he seems to pop up everywhere, regardless of which studio owns the movie rights.

Well, this fan theory takes those appearances and turns them into something more than just a fun gimmick. It says that Stan is actually playing the same character in all his appearances, namely that of Uatu, The Watcher. Those who know Marvel lore understand why this is a big deal and why it makes so much sense.

The Watcher is like a cosmic historian, documenting and cataloging every major event in the Marvel universe, going back to the beginning. He’s been known to change appearance and show up unexpectedly throughout the comics. Who better encapsulates that spirit other than Stan “The Man” Lee?

This is actually one of those theories that became so popular that it was effectively confirmed in “Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2” wherein Stan Lee is shown interacting with the Watchers. It could mean that this theory might expand the breadth of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, a feat that only Stan himself could hope to accomplish.


Fan Theory #3: R2-D2 And Chewbacca Are Secret Rebel Agents

I don’t deny it. I’ve seen every Star Wars movie to date in the theaters and I love every one of them, Jar Jar Binks notwithstanding. I know there’s a popular Jar Jar fan theory that helps make “The Phantom Menace” somewhat more interesting, but I don’t think it does much to enhance the overall saga.

That’s why this theory about R2-D2 and Chewbacca is much more intriguing. It claims that at the end of “Revenge of the Sith,” R2 did not get its memory wiped. Why would it? It witnessed the rise of the Empire and the fall of Anakin Skywalker. That’s very useful information for the future rebellion.

However, R2 and anyone else associated with the old Jedi order needs to lay low once Palpatine comes to power. That’s where Chewbacca comes in, who already established a relationship with Yoda in “Revenge of the Sith.” By becoming an agent of Yoda and the rebels, he can coordinate with R2 to spread intel among the rebellion right under the Empire’s nose.

It also explains how he ended up with Han Solo, a smuggler who constantly annoys the empire with his criminal activities. By being on Tattooine, he can keep an eye on Luke along with Obi-Wan while relaying intel.

More than any other theory, it provides connective tissue between the prequels and the sequels. It also makes R2 even more lovable, which in and of itself is quite an accomplishment.


Fan Theory #4: Andy’s Parents Are Going Through (A Nasty) Divorce

Honestly, who doesn’t love “Toy Story?” I question the emotional health of anyone who doesn’t. It’s such a fun, upbeat story full of heart and emotion. It helped make Pixar the gold standard for animated movies that make adults cry like children.

Well, get some tissues because this fan theory makes “Toy Story” just a little bit more emotional, if you can believe that. It helps make sense of why Andy is so imaginative, preferring to play with toys for hours on end in his room. The answer is simple, but solemn. His parents are going through a nasty divorce.

While there’s nothing in the movies that directly hint at it, the absence of Andy’s father is somewhat telling. Some eagle-eyed fans have even pointed out that Andy’s mother isn’t wearing a wedding ring. That hints that there’s something amiss in his home life. Either Andy’s father left his family or he got kicked out of the house. It also explains why the family was moving in the first movie.

I like this theory because it adds some context to Andy’s home life. It makes me understand why he loves his toys so much. He creates these wonderful worlds in his mind to escape and cope with a tough situation. Compared to what he could’ve done, I think it’s both healthy and refreshing.


Fan Theory #5: The Dinosaurs In “Jurassic Park” Are NOT Dinosaurs

The appeal of “Jurassic Park” is pretty easy to understand. In terms of summer blockbusters, it checks all the right boxes. It involves cute kids, running from monsters, and wondrous imagery that doesn’t entirely rely on CGI. It’s so wondrous that you don’t care that the dinosaurs in that movie look nothing like actual dinosaurs and the science behind making them is impossible in the real world.

That’s why this fan theory is so compelling because it adds an extra layer to that wonder. Simply put, Jurassic Park has no dinosaurs. All those creatures you see in every movie aren’t based on any actual creatures that once lived. They were all genetically engineered to simply look like what people think are dinosaurs.

While that may help make sense of why the creatures in the movies don’t resemble anything we see in the fossil record, it adds an even greater amount of intrigue to “Jurassic Park” because it gives Dr. Hammond a more subtle motivation. Why would he even ask a couple of paleontologist to visit his park in the first place?

This theory gives a more clear-cut answer in that Hammond knew that if he could fool a couple of paleontologists, then he knew he was onto something. He could call the creatures in his park dinosaurs instead of some zoo for genetic monstrosities. Remember, he wants to appeal to family and kids.

This theory, like the Stan Lee/Watcher theory, actually got some level of confirmation in “Jurassic World.” In that movie, Dr. Henry Wu flat out says that “there are no dinosaurs in Jurassic World.” Everything was engineered to up the spectacle. It’s one of those theories that makes too much sense, but in a good way.

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Filed under Celebrities and Celebrity Culture, Comic Books, Jack Fisher, Superheroes, Jack Fisher's Insights

(Possible) Taboos Of The Future

Whenever I talk about the future on this blog, which is an awful lot for an erotica/romance writer, I always feel I need to make the same disclosure. I’ve made it before whenever I try to make predictions about the future. I still feel it’s worth making because I don’t want to give the impression that I’m smarter than I actually am.

Here’s the honest truth. Nobody knows for sure what’s going to happen in the future. Nobody knows for sure what kind of technological breakthroughs there will be. Nobody knows for sure how our understanding of physics, biology, and chemistry will change. Nobody knows for sure whether Kardashians will be broke and sell insurance tomorrow.

It’s the same advice I gave everyone frustrated by news, politics, and everything in between. Nobody knows anything. They can make educated guesses that may or may not be accurate. Some are far less educated than others. At the end of the day, though, nobody really knows for sure.

I say all this because I’m going to take a moment to predict and/or speculate on what sort of taboos we’ll have in the future. I talked a bit about taboos and why they exist. No matter how advanced we get as a society, relatively speaking, there will always be sort of taboo operating behind our social norms. Most of those norms will have to do with sex, gender, and how much poor people are screwed over.

Now, those dynamics might change when technology like brain implants or smart blood become sufficiently advanced. They might change even more if we adopt policies like a universal basic income. For our entire existence, as a species, we’ve been at the mercy of our caveman brains, whose wiring is basically set by the painfully slow processes of evolution. Once that changes, then all bets are off.

With that massive flaw in the dynamics of taboos, I’m still going to try and make a few predictions. If you think I’m stupid, dead wrong, or just plain trolling, then please know that I’m at the mercy as the same limits as everyone else. I’m just as capable of making a stupid predictions, just like the idiots who thought the internet was a fad.

So, with no illusions as to the accuracy of my predictions, here are the taboos that I believe we’ll see in the latter parts of the 21st century. Some of them deal with technology. Some of them deal with social policies. Yes, some even deal with sex. I’m sure that will shock no one. Whatever they involve, the issues are the same. These will be things that will carry with them an odd, but unique stigma for future generations.


Taboo #1: Having Babies The Old Fashioned Way

I’ve talked about artificial wombs before, primarily as a means of leveling the playing field between genders. Initially, the technology will be used to save infants born prematurely and help infertile couples have children. This is all technology that’s in development right now and we’ll likely see it refined within our lifetime.

It’s when you push it out beyond that when things get really interesting. At some point, using artificial wombs will be healthier, more efficient, and more convenient than old fashioned birthing. It’ll probably be a lot more comfortable too. Talk to any woman who has ever endured the joys of childbirth without pain killers and they’ll tell you how much they’d love to see technology like this advance.

So if there’s a method for making babies that’s safer, easier, and involves much less screaming, why would anyone opt to make babies the old fashioned way? That’s like people who opt not to drink unpasteurized milk, which is fraught with a lot of health risks.

We may come to a point where people who give birth naturally will be seen as irresponsible, reckless, and downright weird. Whenever the health of babies is an issue, taboos tend to follow. No matter how advanced we get as a species, our concern for the health of infants will still be an issue.


Taboo #2: Identifying As A Gender And NOT Going Through A Complete Transition

This taboo is something we’re already seeing, to some extent, with ongoing transgender issues. At the moment, most of those issues involve discrimination, harassment, and the “ick factor” that a lot of minorities tend to deal with at some point in their history. Those issues are relevant for a reason, but that reason will change considerably in the future.

At the moment, sexual reassignment surgery is a messy, expensive, tedious process that’s full of various risks. It’s also not entirely perfect. Transgender women still can’t give birth and transgender men still can’t father children. They can look like their preferred gender all they want, but the biological mechanisms within still won’t be the same.

With advances in biotechnology, especially advances like smart blood, we may advance to a state where we can basically shape-shift our bodies the same way Mystique from the X-men does. If someone wants to be a particular gender, then the technology will be there for them to make that transition so completely that nobody would ever know they went through such a transition.

When that time comes, the act of being transgender won’t be taboo. However, those who identify as another gender, but don’t go through a transition, may get their share of odd glances. That would be like someone offering you a limb you once lost and then refusing it. If you can be whatever gender you want to be, why would you continue to live in the wrong body?


Taboo #3: Allowing Yourself To Be Sick

This also ties into biotechnology and the advances we’ll make in fighting disease. Tools like CRISPR are already in development. There may come a time in the near future when nearly all disease, especially the infectious kind, is effectively cured.

So when those diseases are gone, why does anyone get sick? Why would anyone even allow themselves to get sick? Throughout history, society has had all sorts of rules and rituals as to how they treat the sick. A society full of sick people is an unstable society and it’s always in everyone’s interest to minimize that.

Like with those who drink raw milk or religious groups who refuse modern medicine, there may be a segment of people who choose not to use tools like CRISPR or smart blood. When those people get sick, they’ll likely be major anomalies in a society where most of these diseases are cured. Like someone getting measles again, it’s a dangerous act that will likely carry plenty of stigma.


Taboo #4: NOT Being On Some Form Of Contraception

This is where our sex lives come into play. Admit it, you know I was going to get to something like this. I’ve talked a lot about contraception and the future of birth control, often with plenty of side-notes as to how this is going to affect our sex lives and gender dynamics. Naturally, that’s going to include plenty of taboos.

In a future with artificial wombs to grow the population, the mere act of not being on contraception will be inherently risky. Pregnancy already kills a lot of women, even today with all our advanced medicine. In a future where we don’t need women to put themselves at that kind of risk to grow the population, why would society even encourage it?

While this may be outrageous for those currently locked in the pro-life/pro-choice debate, technology will change the dynamics. If birth control technology gets to a point where it’s safe, effective, and cheap, then it requires people to go out of their way to avoid using it. Like people going out of their way to avoid seat-belts, we’ll see that as irresponsible, reckless behavior.

This would definitely have huge implications for our sex lives. In a world where contraception is the default setting for everyone, people would likely treat sex as something separate from reproduction. We’ve already done this with food, thanks to technology, so it’s possible sex will undergo a similar process.

Like someone who tries to poke holes in condoms or get pregnant from a partner, which does happen, people who forego contraception will likely become deviants who disrupt the norms surrounding sex and reproduction. Deviants often put a face on taboos and it’s rarely a pretty face.


Taboo #5: NOT Being Healthy Or Physically Fit 

In the same way that not being on contraception will be taboo, not being fit could also become an anomaly that someone has to go out of their way to achieve. That’s hard to imagine now with obesity being a major issue throughout the industrialized world. Right now, the weight-loss industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that’s full of fads, diets, and pills that turn peoples’ insides into raging tire fire.

In the future, advances like smart blood will make obesity nothing more than a subject of niche genre porn. Even those without eight-pack abs can still be healthy and fit because enhancements to our biology and brains will make that as easy as downing a tub of ice cream on a hot summer day.

Biotechnology will basically allow us to hack the biology of our bodies and make it so we don’t have to eat and work out like the Rock to be fit. We just need something like smart blood in our bodies to let it know that we want it to look a particular way and anything that might make us not look that way should go straight to the colon.

In that future, one where women all look as fit as Jennifer Lawrence and men are all as toned as Hugh Jackman, being unfit and unhealthy would be a conscious choice rather than struggle. It would also make people more prone to health issues and illnesses that would burden a society full of beautiful people. That would definitely make it a taboo.

I’m not saying those who opts not to use this technology to look as sexy as possible are wrong or bad people. They may have legitimate, personal reasons for doing so. However, that choice makes the society around them seem less healthy and less sexy. That’s usually an easy way to become taboo and not look good while doing it.


These are just a few ideas. Again, it’s very likely they’ll be dead wrong. Most reading this blog might not even live long enough to see some of them. Either way, it’s fairly certain that we’ll still have taboos in the future that seem weird to every other generation that ever lived. It’s just a matter of how weird they get.

With that in mind, I’d love to hear what others think might be taboo in the future. Please let me know in the comments. If enough people submit them, I’ll do another post on this subject. I’d like this blog to be more interactive. This is just one opportunity for doing so.

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Filed under Sexy Future

Weird Taboos (And Why They Exist)

When it comes to taboos, we love to laugh at the crazy practices of the past while ignoring the equally-crazy ones in the present. We look at how ancient people used to sacrifice goats, sheep, and parts of their genitals and laugh and/or cringe. Then, we go back to wearing our lucky underwear because we think it’ll help our favorite football team win.

The failure to see the irony in that sentiment reveals the power of taboos. I’ve talked about them before, but usually in a narrower context. Being an aspiring erotica/romance writer, I’m naturally going to focus on the distinctly sexy taboos, as well as the overtly non-sexy ones. I doubt that surprises anyone.

However, taboos actually get much more ridiculous than what we can or can’t do with our genitals. You don’t even have to go back to the Bronze Age to see them. Some of those taboos happened within the past two centuries. Some of our grandparents were alive when they were popular. It’s kind off funny when you think about it, but it’s also kind of tragic.

Recently, our old friends at Cracked.com did a little article on some of the weird/crazy taboos we had in the past. They called it “15 Everyday Things That Used To Be Scandalous.” Today, they seem so innocent. Back then, though, they were a big deal. Breaking them meant social stigma, condemnation, or even arrest. These days, most people are just concerned about becoming an internet meme.

Make no mistake, though. A lot of these taboos are pretty ridiculous, even by non-21st century standards. There’s a damn good reason why they didn’t last or fell out of favor. We humans may be slow when it comes to embracing social change, but we eventually get around to it. It’s just never as fast as we’d like.

To give you an idea of how ridiculous those taboos were, here’s a quick sample from the Cracked article. Remember, they may seem crazy now, but there was a time when simply talking about it would earn you unwanted attention from the nearest constable, priest, or parent/teacher association.

Entry 15

Entry 14

Entry 12

Entry 7

Entry 6

Entry 1

I know. They are pretty ridiculous. I mean soda pop and reading at night? How could that possibly count as taboo? You can kind of understand why people would be a little reluctant about women in bikinis, especially in the days before internet porn, but soda pop?

Ridiculous or not, there are a few common themes in these taboos. If you go back far enough and look at some of the most overt taboos, you’ll notice how a lot of them deal with female sexuality, rebellious teenagers, and empowering poor people in any way. I know that all sound like stuff that angry rich old men whine about when they haven’t taken their meds, but it actually runs much deeper than that.

Taboos don’t happen in a vacuum. People don’t just make them up because they want another excuse to be a dick to each other. We already have plenty of those. There are reasons they often take the shape they do. It’s rarely due to some grand, patriarchal/communist/hippie conspiracy. A lot of it just has to do with people being weary of things they don’t see as “normal.”

I put “normal” in quotes because the very concept of “normal,” even in a legitimate scientific context, is laced with bullshit. However, there is something to be said about the unspoken social norms under which we all live. Those norms, as crazy as they might be, are an integral part of how we function as a society and a species. The fact those norms tend to screw up our sex lives is kind of a nasty side-effect.

The way it works uses a mix of both caveman logic, faulty brain writing, and skewed common sense. We, as individuals and as groups, tend to function better when there’s a sense of predictability. If we can be more certain of how people will react in certain circumstances, then that can help us create a system, of sorts, to carry out the various functions of a tribe or a society.

Think about it. The systems we have for standing in line, driving on the highway, and complimenting someone’s ass all have certain checklists of sorts that we go through in our minds. Not all of them are enforced by laws. Some aren’t even enforced by anything. It’s just one of those basic understandings that we all collectively acknowledge, albeit indirectly.

Here’s a simple example. When I was going through the soul-crushing process that was high school, there was this unspoken taboo on the bus. When you got on, you never just sat in the front seat. You always went to the back and filled it up from there. If you did dare sit up front, you got weird looks, as though you’d just rubbed your ass on the window. Nobody ever talked about why we did this. We just did it.

That’s a fairly simple display of how unspoken social norms manifest. Considering it happened in high school, it wasn’t even the tenth most awkward thing I endured. However, it does help put some perspective into these ridiculous taboos.

Now, take that perspective and add a little sex appeal to it. Suddenly, you’ll sense a few assholes tightening. There’s no getting around it. Even in 2017, we still have weird attitudes towards sex, especially when it comes to female sexuality and teenage sex. We have almost as many weird attitudes about the poor. As such, it makes sense that so many of our taboos are built around both.

To understand the ridiculousness behind those taboos, you have to imagine yourself in a society that’s very different from your own and operates under a very different set of social norms. That’s not easy for some people. Being an aspiring erotica/romance writer, I like to think I have more imagination than most.

You’re living by a certain set of norms and practices. They don’t always seem logical. Maybe you never wear red clothes on a Friday. Maybe you salute every pregnant woman you meet in public. Maybe you shave your ass every other Tuesday as part of some elaborate cleansing ceremony. It can be anything really. The key is that it just doesn’t have to be too detrimental to our ability to survive and reproduce.

By living with these norms and practices, they start seeming right. They seem like this is how society is supposed to function. Anyone who questions them might as well be promoting dead puppies on every street corner. You, and everyone around you, are convinced that these taboos have merit, even when they have no logic behind them.

That sentiment is understandable to some extent, but it’s when you inject sex and social class into the mix that it gets really messed up. As I’ve pointed out before, people have all sorts of weird hang-ups and attitudes about sex. Some of them have some merit, such as the real health issues that often come with sexual promiscuity. Others are more subversive.

The key to any successful society is some measure of stability. To have stability, you need some level of control over various social functions. Like it or not, sex is a major social function. Without it, societies can’t propagate. New generations can’t take over for those that die off. Naturally, people are going to put a lot of emphasis on it, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly.

This is why you get societies where most marriages are arranged and marrying for love is actually taboo. It’s also why controlling female sexuality is so heavily emphasized. They’re the ones who carry the babies inside them. They’re the ones who nurture them after their born. Since sex makes babies, people are going to want to control it to some extent, as fruitless an effort that might be.

It’s just as bad for the poor. In every society thus far, there has to be some sort of underclass that toils in factories, farms, and various low-paying, low-skilled labor. I say there has to be because, until we can get robots to do it for us, their work is literally the foundation on which civilization is built.

That puts the rich despots, kings, and business people in a tough position. They understand on some levels that if the poor knew how much they were being screwed over and how their toil subsidized the obscenely lavish lifestyles of the rich, they wouldn’t be too happy about it.

That’s why having taboos that discourage laziness, education, and questioning persist. That’s why there’s an entirely mythology around the “dignity of work.” They’re an indirect way of maintaining existing social norms and protecting whoever happens to be benefiting from them from the horrors of inconvenience.

Not every taboo can be attributed to repressing sexuality or keeping the poor in their place, but the dynamics are the same. They have just as much potential to be ridiculous, illogical, and even downright cruel, as many boys can attest. So long as our caveman brains keep using them to preserve our social norms, they’ll always be here. I just hope we can one day ditch those that involve mutilating our genitals.

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Another (Potentially Distressing) Thought Experiment

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Whenever I pose one of my thought experiments, be they the sexy or unsexy kind, I do so with the hope of inspiring novel, entertaining ideas that get people thinking for all the right reasons. Ideally, these ideas are fun and enlightening. If they make people horny in the process, then that’s just a bonus.

Every now and then, however, it’s not enough for an idea to be enlightening or sexy. Sometimes, for a thought experiment to work, it needs to make people feel uncomfortable. It needs to create some sort of mental distress.

I know that’s something most people avoid. People come to this blog to read about erotica romance novels, sexy thoughts, and sex robots. I’ve even pointed out how our brains are wired to do anything and everything to avoid mental distress, even if it leads to outright hypocrisy.

Well, as uncomfortable as it is, mental distress has a purpose. It forces us to contemplate an idea that highlights a major problem in the world. It’s often one of those problems we know is there on some level, but avoid thinking about because it’s too daunting. For this particular thought experiment, it’s not so much that the idea is overwhelming. It’s more that it reveals something about our attitudes that we don’t often scrutinize.

So with that in mind, here’s the experiment. Think back to any action scene in any major action movie of the past couple decades. Given the glut of superhero movies and “Die Hard” rip-offs out there, that shouldn’t be too difficult. Specifically, think of a scene where a female character was kicking ass. Given the rise of strong female characters, that shouldn’t be too difficult either.

A good example comes from the memorable Black Widow fight scene in “Iron Man 2.” By any measure, it’s a wonderfully entertaining scene. It has Scarlett Johanssen kicking ass in a skin-tight outfit. What’s not to love about it? Most people who watch this scene, especially comic book fans and people who find Scarlett Johanssen sexy, would be rightly entertained.

Here’s where the thought experiment comes in. This is where it gets really uncomfortable and not in the awkward boner sort of way. Watch the scene above once as you usually would. You don’t need to know the context too much. This is just Black Widow beating up the hired goons of Justin Hammer, the primary antagonist of the movie. Use that first reaction as a baseline of sorts.

Now, watch the scene again. This time, though, reverse all the genders of the characters involved. Make Black Widow a man. Make Justin Hammer’s goons women. Let it play out in your mind, this lone male character beating up all these women. Does the scene evoke the same reaction? For most people not named Chris Brown, it probably makes you sick to your stomach.

This goes beyond the typical double standards between men and women, which I’ve talked about before. It even goes beyond strong female characters, which I’ve also touched on in various ways. This is one of those dynamics that has always been there right in front of us. We just don’t take the time to scrutinize it.

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We can watch scenes of James Bond beating the crap out of a bunch of SPECTRE henchmen and be entertained. We can also watch scenes of Black Widow, Sarah Conner, and Furiosa do the same and be entertained. Swap the genders, though, and it becomes extremely distressing. We don’t see powerful characters kicking ass anymore. We just see a man beating up multiple women.

Find a scene like the one above from “Iron Man 2” and do the same thought experiment. Look for a scene where a woman beats up a much of male thugs. Then, swap the genders. Chances are, the feelings it evokes are just as distressing.

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For a greater sense of context, I came up with this thought experiment after reading an article on Cracked.com about the way Hollywood treats men. I’ve cited Cracked before because and while I don’t always agree with them, they’re good at tackling serious topics in a humorous way, even sexy topics. This one, however, had a hard time being funny.

6 Backwards Ideas Hollywood Still Has About Men

Some parts of the article were more inane than others, like pointing out how every leading man has to be at least a half-foot taller than the average guy or how tortured men are somehow compelling. Some of those details are just quirks, blatant examples of style over substance.

Beyond the quirks, though, there are some genuinely disturbing dynamics at work. We find such entertainment in women beating the crap out of men. We also find entertainment in men beating the crap out of men. However, when it’s men beating the crap out of women, context doesn’t matter. Substance doesn’t matter. It always makes us feel disgusted and repulsed.

The thought experiment I just posed highlights that. However, it goes beyond violence as well. Rape is one of those super-sensitive issues that’s impossible to make funny or sexy. However, if you put it in the context of prison rape where men rape men, then that somehow changes things, so much so that jokes about rape will even find their way into an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants.

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Then, there are the cases where women rape men. Yes, that does happen in real life. Women are capable of domestic violence against men. However, it’s still okay to joke about. Christopher Titus has even worked it into his standup. It even finds its way into cartoons that air on primetime.

The best example of this is the “Futurama” episode, “Death By Snu Snu.” In that episode, the cast encounters a planet populated by big, hulking, hostile Amazonian women, albeit not of the Wonder Woman variety. Through a series of hilarious antics that are entirely appropriate for a show that has a hard-drinking, sociopath robot, the male characters end up captured.

This is where the line between hilarity and distress blurs if you dare do the same thought experiment. Once captured, the Amazonian women decide to “torment” their prisoners with “snu snu,” which is their alien verbiage for sex. The reaction of Fry and Zap Branigan is a mix of horror and intrigue.

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Granted, it’s presented in a funny way, but that doesn’t change the actual substance of what happens. The women rape these men. They rape them and it’s portrayed as humorous. I’m not going to lie. I did laugh somewhat at how the episode played out. Most people with a healthy sense of humor would.

However, if you do the same thought experiment with the Black Widow scene in “Iron Man 2,” it takes on a very different context. Watch the episode again, but turn the hulking Amazons into men. Then, turn Fry and Zap into women. Suddenly, that scene takes on a much darker undertone.

It would push the line even for the most hardcore porn. Think about how that would play out, a group of warrior men taking a couple of women who just stumbled upon their world and deciding to rape them to death. It wouldn’t just be rated NC-17. It would be outright banned and subject to protest from every women’s group in the world.

What does it say about our attitudes, our culture, and our attitudes when we’re okay with one gender dynamic and not the other? Now, there are inherent differences in those dynamics. Human beings are a sexually dimorphic species. That means there are inherently different traits within the genders that are impossible to overlook completely.

However, the sheer breadth of the disparity here is cause for concern. If flipping the genders of a story or scene evokes such a different reaction, then that’s a serious disconnect that’s worth scrutinizing.

That’s not to say that the scenes in “Iron Man 2” or “Futurama” are wrong or not entertaining. There’s just something inherently revealing about ourselves when we flip the gender dynamics and react to the same scene. We may not like what that reveals, but it’s not something that can or should be ignored.

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New Deadpool Cartoon Announced (And Why It Matters)

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In addition to being an aspiring erotica/romance writer, I have a fairly diverse set of interests. I talk about many of them on this blog. I love superhero comics, superhero movies, futuristic technology, and activities that involve nudity. I like to explore these topics because the world is a diverse and sexy place. I want this blog to reflect that, as well as entertain/titillate.

So when news emerges that involves superhero comics and a potential for entertainment/titillation, expect me to mention it at some point. When that news involves someone like Deadpool, a character who has built his entire appeal on that and dick jokes, you can pretty much set your watch to it.

I’ve talked about Deadpool many times before. I’m not the only one either. Deadpool is the new golden boy for Fox, Marvel, and the entire superhero genre. He was once a niche character with an especially loyal set of fans and cos-players. Then, former sexiest man alive, Ryan Reynolds, made Deadpool the hottest thing in spandex not named Jennifer Lawrence.

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The Deadpool movie wasn’t just a game-changer. It dropped a metric ton of napalm on the game, blew it up with C4, and roasted marshmallows over the entrails while strippers danced in the background. If that sounds crazy, then congratulations. You now have some insight into why Deadpool is so appealing.

The first Deadpool movie completely shocked the established superhero genre, grossing $783 million on a $58 million budget. At a time when many superhero movies need budgets of at least $250 million to be taken seriously, that’s not just impressive. That’s downright jarring.

The fact that Deadpool did this while being rated R, complete with exposed breasts and Ryan Reynold’s jerking off with a stuffed unicorn, makes it all the more astonishing. It proved that superhero movies could be mature, sexy, and appealing. It also proved they can be extremely profitable and nothing speaks louder in the entertainment industry than money. Why else would Disney have made fivePirates of the Caribbean” movies?

The impact is still being felt, but it’s already starting to show. Just this year, Fox proved that Deadpool’s success was not a fluke. The R-rated “Logan” movie made $606 million on a $97 million budget while generated critical acclaim. Once can be an anomaly. Twice is the beginning of a trend.

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In an effort to continue that trend, Fox and Marvel announced this past week that they will be making a Deadpool animated series for the FXX network. That’s the same network that hosts such kid-unfriendly shows like “Archer” and “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.” There couldn’t be a more appropriate home is what I’m saying.

Now, this news might not seem like a big deal to non-comic fans. Deadpool had a successful movie, making Fox and Marvel a boatload of money. With a sequel already in the works, why not capitalize on his popularity with a cartoon? It sounds like a normal money grab by big corporate media giants who are never satisfied with merely having a few pools of money to swim in.

There’s no doubt that’s part of the dynamic here, but there are far larger implications, some of which might have an impact on erotica/romance. Bear with me, here, because this is where I try to gaze into a crystal ball and not throw up. Since I haven’t won the lottery or predicted the Super Bowl yet, assume my ability for foresight is limited.

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Earlier this year, I talked about the success of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie, as well as the challenges associated with creating quality erotica/romance. Some of these challenges aren’t insurmountable, but they are daunting. The success of “Game of Thrones” might be nudging public attitudes to some extent, but only to a point.

Since Hollywood is too damn impatient when it comes to exploiting a market, I speculated that animation might actually be the key to future erotica/romance. It effectively circumvents many of those daunting challenges I mentioned. Cartoon characters don’t get too testy when you ask them to take their clothes off.

With a Deadpool cartoon being on FXX, there’s a lot more potential for raunchy sexiness. We already see it in shows like “Archer,” which doesn’t shy away from the kind of crude humor that is usually reserved for “South Park.” Unlike “Archer,” though, Deadpool has more brand recognition. He generates far more attention and not just because he’s been known to cross dress every now and then.

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Deadpool will be entering a market that’s ripe for growth. Adult-themed animation has been around for years, but has never been more than a niche market. That might be changing just in time for Deadpool.

In recent years, shows like “Archer” have inspired other shows like “Rick and Morty,” gaining more than just a cult following. These shows get away with plots and humor that would never make it past the network executives who are routinely terrified of getting a call from the FCC. By being animated, they can push the proverbial envelope in ways that go far beyond an exposed nipple.

Deadpool doesn’t stop at nipples, though. He’s a character who married a succubus and flirted with Spider-Man. He does things that made the kid-friendly executives at Disney faint. With a cartoon, they can even do things that Ryan Reynolds would never agree to and he’s the guy who agreed to do “R.I.P.D.

The potential that a Deadpool cartoon has cannot be understated. He can do more than just create another hit cartoon for a network that already has a few under their belt. He can foster a new audience that’s hungry for more mature animation.

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Between the success of movies like “Fifty Shades of Grey” and TV shows like “Rick and Morty,” Deadpool is coming along at the best possible time. By creating a larger audience, it’ll let the big wigs at major media studios that audiences do want sexier content. They want media that’s fun, sexy, and not afraid of showing a few nipples every now and then.

There will always be a place for kid-friendly cartoons, but animation need not be a medium that appeals to one segment of the population. There are many more people out there who want sexier material and they don’t need to whine to their parents for money to buy it.

A Deadpool cartoon definitely has plenty of appeal, especially to those who enjoyed the sex and violence of the movie. It has everything it needs to be success. However, it’s the implications of that success that may have far sexier implications.

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Important Announcement: It’s OKAY To Be Sexy

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Today, I have a very important announcement to make. No, it has nothing to do with the release of my upcoming book, “Passion Relapse.” That’s still coming out on April 18th though. Yes, I’m going to promote the hell out of it in the coming weeks so get used to that.

This announcement is every bit as important as my first book. It may even be more important. Since I’m a long way from success as an erotica/romance writer, I don’t say that lightly. However, I do feel that this is worth saying. It needs to be said so brace yourself. This may shock a few people.

It’s OKAY to be sexy!

I’ll give everyone a moment to recover from the shock. Take all the time you need. I know. This is a startling revelation, but hang in there. We’ll get through this together. I promise.

Okay, that’s enough sarcasm for now. I’ll ease up on the melodrama, but it was necessary for a reason. I say it’s a good reason too because this is one of those topics that has no middle ground. Either people just shrug it off or they’re downright hysterical about it.

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Since I’m trying to break into the erotica/romance world, this subject actually affects me and could very well affect my future career. The stakes are higher for me is what I’m saying. So what exactly makes this announcement so vital?

Well, to answer that, here’s some context. It wasn’t that long ago that people didn’t make too big a deal about characters in movies, video games, and comic books who were overtly sexual. I’m not saying some people got their panties in one too many knots. I’m saying that, for a time, it really wasn’t high on the list of things that pissed us off.

That time wasn’t too long ago. For reference, allow me to cite one of the most iconic female characters of the past couple decades, Lara Croft. She’s always been one of those characters with a special kind of sex appeal. You could argue that her sex appeal helped make her an icon. How could it not? This is what she used to look like.

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That’s pretty sexy. I won’t deny that it’s somewhat impractical for a soldier or a fighter, but Lara Croft is still a badass, globe-trotting fighter who happens to look good in short shorts and bikinis. There’s nothing wrong with that. As a man, I greatly appreciate that sort of visual appeal.

Then, back in 2013, her character was essentially revamped and rebooted. The sex appeal was downplayed, if not outright purged. Lara Croft went from being a badass, globe-trotting fighter with a sexy attitude to just a badass, globe-trotting fighter. She’s still a beautiful woman by most objective standards, but she’s not allowed to be quite as sexy anymore. This is what she looks like now.

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Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with how Lara Croft looks now. That hasn’t made her video games any less enjoyable to play. However, the removal of her sex appeal is somewhat jarring.

Lara Croft isn’t the only female character to undergo that change either. Remember when I did my list of female characters that make men hate women? Well, on that list, I put a character named Felecia “Black Cat” Hardy. She’s a typical female vixen character from the Spider-Man comics. She’s another character whose persona is built around sex appeal, as evidenced by her costume.

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Well, like Lara Croft, she underwent a change too. No, she didn’t become any less likable. Yes, she’s still a character who will make men hate women on some levels. The only difference now is that she doesn’t show as much cleavage.

It’s part of an ongoing story in the Spider-Man comics to make Black Cat more of a crime lord than a vixen. The story has been mediocre for the most part. I won’t say it’s bad, but I will say that it has done nothing to change the parts of Black Cat’s character that make her so unlikable. Whether she’s fully clothed or wearing a G-string thong, she’s still a character that make men say stupid crap about women.

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I find this trend somewhat troubling and not just because it means less visible boobs. It troubles me because for some reason, the image of sexy women is somehow a bad thing. Granted, sexy women have always made people feel a bit uncomfortable and not just in their pants, but this is getting into dangerously regressive territory.

There’s no doubt that there’s a certain level of sexism in the media. There’s also a vocal component of radical feminism that has this mentality that any man who admires the image of a sexy woman is somehow sexist, perpetuating sexism, or contributing to rape culture. For a guy just admiring a beautiful woman, that’s pretty extreme.

Beautiful women, pictures of beautiful women, and any female character that has some form of sex appeal is now somehow contributing to this concept of “toxic masculinity.” That’s basically a catch-all term for all the terrible things men do and, conveniently enough, the cause is something that’s hard-wired into their own biology. That’s like calling a man sexist because he sweats more than most women.

Never mind the fact that the ideas of toxic masculinity and rape culture are somewhat flawed concepts. Never mind that since 1995, rates of sexual assault against women have declined by 58 percent. Apparently, all these sexy images are causing a crisis somehow.

Regardless of the facts, these crises are becoming more and more petty. Last year, I mentioned some of the laughable outrage generated by a comic book cover for Invincible Iron Man. Maybe I should’ve pointed it out then too, but that was just one sign among many.

Whether it’s due to concerns about body image or female representation in media, there’s a new moral crusade brewing. This time, however, it’s not being led by clerics, mullahs, monks, and popes. It’s being led by ordinary, educated people who have somehow convinced themselves that being sexy or admiring sexy things is somehow wrong.

I’m here to say that’s simply wrong. It’s okay to be sexy. It’s okay to admire sexy images. Whether you’re a man or a woman, you’re not a bad person for enjoying things you find sexy. You’re just a healthy mind in a healthy body. There’s no reason to apologize for that.

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