Punda Malidadi

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Posting, posting, posting. This time: Sex.

I just finished reading my favourite sex column: "Savage Love" by Dan Savage(I'd link it, but blogger seems to be nonfunctional this evening).

Once again, he was *so* right, even though he went off on a slight tangent in his response. The letter was from a woman who had just recovered from alsmost a decade of severe cancer, and who wasn't very confident about her sexual abilities, since the cancer struck her in her early twenties after she had slept only with one guy. She wanted to know where she could find men willing to engage in casual sex with her to educate her abilities before going for the real thing, i.e. a relationship. The fact that she doesn't know that the answer to that question is "absolutely everywhere, just ask" alone reveals her sweet, sweet innocence. At the end of her letter she says, "I am at this time more comfortable without the nervousness of an emotional entanglement—so please don't tell me to just find a nice guy".

Dan Savage answers,

"Sorry, FSSS, but I'm going to have to tell you to find a nice guy — but one who, like you, isn't looking for an emotional entanglement.

You don't say so explicitly, FSSS, but the implication is loud and clear: You believe there are two kinds of guys out there. There are nice ones, those men seeking sex coupled with an emotional entanglement, and there are not-so-nice ones, those men seeking sex free from an emotional entanglement. This assumption is commonly made, FSSS, and it makes me lose my patience. Everyone seems to agree that people seeking emotionally entangled sex are kind and considerate and moral, while people seeking NSA — that's "no strings attached" — are cruel and selfish and immoral. But it ain't necessarily so.

Being in a long-term relationship with someone — whether you're just going steady, planning to marry, or already married — is no guarantee that you're going to wind up with someone "nice." Newspapers, divorce courts, and criminal trials are crammed with examples of people who found themselves emotionally entangled with cruel, selfish, and even homicidal lovers and/or spouses. Conversely, FSSS, bedrooms, backseats, and dungeons across this great land of ours are crammed with kind, considerate, and deeply moral people enjoying NSA/entanglement-free sex. Casual sex doesn't have to be cold, ugly, or diminishing anymore than marital sex is guaranteed to be warm, beautiful, and uplifting. That there are kind, considerate people out there searching for NSA sex should be apparent to you, FSSS—I mean, aren't you one of them?[...]"

I couldn't have said it better. A little while ago, I talked to a girl who had just met a guy, made out with him, and told him afterwards that she is saving herself for marriage (hey, I just typed 'saving herself FROM marriage'- clearly a Freudian, and shows you *my* attitude towards marriage right there. But I digress).

To cut a long story slightly shorter, she never heard from him again. She was hurt, and told me that "an asshole like that who only wants sex doesn't deserve me anyways". Insensitive as I am, I had to take his side on this. First of all, she didn't know if it was *just* sex he wanted. All she knew was that he wanted sex to be *part* of the package.

This does not make him an asshole, I told her. It makes him a young man who would like to have sex with his girlfriend. A relationship is a voluntary association, and if you are allowed to be attracted to him because he's goodlooking and he dresses well and has a nice car, he sure is allowed to be attracted to someone who will indulge him sexually. And if you still think that having sex as a requirement for a relationship makes you an asshole, I said, then feel free to consider me one too. I am in my mid-twenties, and if I met a guy who explicitly told me that he had no intention of sleeping with me before we get married(yeah, right), I would shake his hand and wish him a nice life.

Secondly, even if all he wanted was sex, this does *still* not make him an asshole. It makes him honest. After all, he could have concluded something along the lines of "if she made out with me on first date, she might sleep with me if I pretend to be in it for the long term". Wouldn't be the first time this happened to a girl.

Do you want to know what makes a guy an asshole in my mind?

1. Using deception to get into someone's pants, such as fake promises and "I love you"s.

2. Staying in a half-assed relationship just so you can get laid regularly, while knowing that your girlfriend has serious feelings and expectations.

3. Cheating repeatedly in an exclusive relationship(we all make mistakes sometimes, and in very aggravated scenarios, even cheating once can make you an asshole in my mind. Cheating repeatedly unquestionably makes you one).

As you can see, the underlying principle in HONESTY.

So, what do I think is at the root of this problem?

Once again, I think it's all society's fault. As long as sex is regarded as something that women do for men's enjoyment in return for emotional commitment and economic and social status, this dilemma won't change. In my political science class(Human Rights in World Politics), we talked about FGM(female genital mutilation, also known under the euphemism of female circumcision). As a heads up for people unfamiliar with this practice(such as the girl from the above anecdote was until I told her about it), there are three degrees of FGM: the least common form involves the removal of all or part of the clitoris and/or its prepuce(the foreskin of the clitoris). The most common form of FGM is the cliterodectomy(removal of the clitoris, and part or all of the labia, also known as excision). The most severe and invasive form of FGM is infibulation, which is the removal of the clitoris, the labia, and the stitching up of the whole area leaving only a pin-sized hole for menstrual blood and urine (the scar is forced open when the woman loses her virginity after marriage, and usually reclosed several times during her adult life. But I digress again. If you want to read a really interesting Autobiography of someone who went through this, read nomad-cum-supermodel-cum-bondgirl Waris Dirie's "Desert Flower").

I said, in my class, that under no circumstances should the Canadian government allow these operations to happen legally on Canadian territory. Once again, as a heads up, the argument here is that it's better for them to have it done safely at a hospital and with anaesthetic than in somebody's kitchen with a bread knife (and no, I'm not exaggerating. Sometimes glass shards are used on 12 year old girls without sedatives).

I am convinced, and said so, that no woman *wants* to have her clitoris removed. I actually managed to cause some controversy in otherwise sleepy classmates, who insisted that it's a woman's choice what to do with her body. While I couldn't agree more fully, the reason that many women want to have the procedure done is that they depend on it for their social and economic status, as they are considered unmarriagable with a functioning clitoris, and would be shunned from society. This clearly does not make it a women's choice, but makes her the victim of coercion. If we allowed these procedures to happen, we would have to allow stonings and other forms of corporal punishments to happen in Canada too, as long as the victim agrees to be tried in the traditional way(and don't underestimate the force of culture and ideology- this *would* happen). Humane stoning, medically supervised, paid for by the Canadian government, anyone? Maybe a little amputation for that guy who got caught stealing?

Also, while I am at it, FGM has no basis in Islam as often falsely believed. FGM is a cultural practice that is much older than Islam or Christianity, and is perpetrated by people of many religions and beliefs. Heck, until rather recently, we did it in Canada and other "western" nations- it was supposed to cure all kinds of things such as lesbianism, hysteria, schizophrenia, and most of all, that absolutely horrendous crime of promiscuity. If you were lucky enough to be in tune with your sexuality, you had damn well better hide it those days, otherwise your husband might drag you to the general practitioner for a cliterodectomy("Doctor, Doctor, she's showing signs of enjoyment during sex! That must mean she's doing it with everybody in the neighbourhood!")

FGM is just plain wrong. It is aimed at nothing else but controlling and subjugating women's sexuality and reproductive capacities. It is violent, harmful, unethical, sexist, and in no way do I believe that cultural relativism has any place in this discussion - I find it almost as horrendous that we let women cut open their chests to insert plastic pouches(which often harm the nipples' sensitivity, which isn't helpful at all when it comes to women's sexual enjoyment).

I mean, the fact alone that *women* challenged me on my statement that no woman wants to have her clitoris removed as a free choice is phenomenal.

Have you never had an orgasm, ladies?

Oh, god. Please don't tell me. I'm afraid I know the answer.

How it came to be that my academic career hit rock bottom.

In the first days of class, my prof seemed alright. He had a very heavy eastindian accent that would distort the emphasis of many words; for example,"purchasing" would become purr-*chay*-zing, and "determining" would become "dee-ter--*my*-ning". That didn't really bother me at all though- having English as a second language myself, I am fairly inventive when it comes to deducing how somebody would develop false hypotheses about the unpredictable pronunciation of the English language, and therefore I could derive the meaning of what he was trying to communicate easily enough. Maybe it was the fact that I thought about lingusitics too much during class, or maybe I have suddenly gotten a whole lot dumber(one of my biggest secret fears), but for some reason I got back a 25% assignment with an abysmal 56%. Just for comparison,here's what I got in my other Economics classes: 9, A, A, A. It's by far my best subject, I like it the most, and it always came easily to me.

And it wasn't that everybody else did badly either- the average was a respectable 74%, with a majority of people above average. And to think that after a few classes, he effectively banned me from raising my hand, because I was the only one answering his questions!

Over the last few weeks, slowly but surely, the understanding of the material evaded me. He never gave definitions, used the same variables for real and nominal values, and didn't tie together what he explained. I never had any idea why we were doing what we were doing, but apparently, everybody else just chewed their way through the book(which I didn't really like either) to understand things. I read the assigned chapters in the book, but as he said, "reading the book only once won't do". Well, Mr. C*******y, it damn well should. At least I should understand the concept after your lecture and reading the relevant chapter. Especially in a summer term, which is effectively five weeks long.

To cut a long story short: I ran to the faculty of arts undergraduate desk and withdrew from the stupid course.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

And so it came to be that my academic career hit rock bottom.

I am withdrawing from a course. An economics course, no less. I do not understand this teacher.

My pride is in shreds.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

"I'll let you out half an hour early, but only if you promise to go home and think about Stoning"

Classes are back on. The new residence is finally habitable.

You wouldn't believe the things we found when we cleaned up the basement and the closets here: an electric pseudo-olympic flame, a fibreoptical peacock, two knifeblocks,

20-some dollars, 14 pairs of shoes, several bags of clothes, 14 rolls of Christmas wrapping paper, 30-some gift bags, roughly two miles of phone cable and 7 miles of, uh, cable cable I guess, two alarm clocks, five functioning lamps, an aquarium, a kinder surprise of questionable age, a good 20-some placemats(some of them Christmas, some of them season-neutral), 4 sets of curtains, a shark tooth necklace, a suit jacket, a Columbia jacket, a spice rack, binders, printing paper and notebooks, a dirt devil, a Christmas tree, other Christmas decorations, table cloths, an original Nintendo box(sadly without the contents), a handmixer, 3 glow-in-the-dark penis straws, a set of Lego, two black wigs, two bedframes, a microwave, several chairs, two armchairs, a bookshelf, a bike lock, blankets and throws, a mattress pad, sheets.

I am also pretty sure that list isn't exhaustive, but I am exhausted, so I'll leave it at that.