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The Dark Heart of Homophobia

No podcast today, but there is this…

I’m riding the bus when we come to a stop near a local high school. Five teenage boys get on. They’re all jocks—football, probably. Their jackets are emblazoned with varsity letters and they appear to be fresh from practice. Each carries an oversized duffel.

They are boisterous and full of menacing bravado. The bus is immediately overwhelmed with a rush of testosterone. As they move toward the back of the bus, they purposely jostle everyone in their path. They’re rude and crude and every other word is fuck.

The bus lurches forward, and my fellow passengers instinctively know not to make eye contact. The older women clutch their belongings tight to their bosom. Everyone is tense.

The pack mentality emboldens the young men, who are flush with their newly discovered sense of male privilege. Hormones rage in their adolescent bodies, yet there is an awkward childishness about them too. They are alpha, but only in as much as they are part of a pack.

They have off-color comments for everyone around them. Girls are singled out for the most abuse. They make insinuations about their sexual prowess, while pawing at their groins. The women blush with embarrassment.

Despite being loud, obnoxious and brutish, they lack conviction. They giggle too much, indicating self-consciousness. It’s apparent that, at their core, they are still very uneasy about themselves, and have yet to grow into and own the alpha maleness they mimic.

The bus approaches the next stop, and several of us get up to exit. A nerdy boy with glasses and a violin case accidentally trips over one of the teen’s duffel bags. This is the spark. The jocks erupt, lunging at the offending kid. He is easy prey. He’s petrified, but his survival instincts kick in, and he quickly maneuvers further up the aisle. I grab his shoulder and push him toward the door ahead of me. He makes his escape.

Now I’m in the line of fire. The rear door is only a couple steps away, but I stand my ground. The jocks size me up. I’m not an easy mark; I’m older and more dominant than any of them as individuals, but they trump me as a group. I may even be dangerous. In a split-second, the teens reevaluate the situation and instead of coming at me, they try to take me down with their best verbal shot: “You motherfucking fag!”

I move to the door. This could end very badly for me, but I will not show any weakness. Adrenaline courses through my bloodstream. I alight from the bus, holding the door open so I can briefly yell back. “Hey, thanks for the recognition. Oh, and for your information, its father-fucking, brother-fucking and/or son-fucking fag, never mother-fucking. Get it?”

By the time the jocks realize what’s happened, the bus is in motion, and I am safe.

The teens thought better of physically attacking me, so they did the next best thing. It’s what most threatened males do: they tried to diminish the threat by calling into question my masculinity.  And they do it in that time-honored way—by inferring I was a defective male, a queer, and a sissy. Trouble is, I am queer, and I owned it—right in their faces. On top of that, I stood up to them and even had the temerity to publicly shame them. So that had to be unsettling to them on several levels.

How did the derogatory epithet fag become the quintessential means of destroying the male ego? Why has the only somewhat less offensive slur, “that’s so gay,” become emblematic for everything stupid, negative or girly? These questions get to the root of our culture’s deeply ingrained homophobia.

I contend that homophobia is rooted in a fear and hatred of women. It’s no accident that when we want to denigrate a man we call him a pussy—the same word we use to refer to female genitals. In our culture, men are superior to women—it’s the oily by-product of male privilege. A man who falls short of this lofty ideal, or, god forbid, assumes a passive role in sex, cheapens the “privilege” for all other males. This is a particularly sensitive issue for ostensibly heterosexual men.

This prohibition is so deep-seated in our culture, one can trace its roots back to the Bible. Leviticus 20:13: “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death.” In biblical days, women were nothing more than chattel. For a man to behave like a woman—particularly in a passive, receptive sexual way—back then was an even greater insult to the male privilege than it is nowadays (which explains the whole capital punishment thing.)

Women are also objectified as sexual objects before men dominate them. A woman is not so much a person as she is a collection of parts—tits, pussy, ass, etc. A heterosexual man, familiar with and practiced in this dynamic, will not tolerate another male objectifying him as a sexual object, either real or imagined.

These cultural triggers are exceptionally easy to trip. With very little effort at all, we can debase a man simply by suggesting that there’s a whiff of the feminine about him. In turn, the slandered male is burdened with proving the contrary, which often leads to overcompensation. To deflect suspicion, some men affect a macho bravado so as to appear even more masculine than their peers. And how better to do that than to suggest someone else is a pansy?

I can say for certain that all those boys on the bus had been, at one time or another, accused of being a fag. It’s exceedingly common in sports for even teammates to insinuate a fellow athlete is not performing up to expectations. Each of them must have known the sting of that reproach. Some may even have had self-doubt about their own sexual tendencies. That’s why they hurled at me what they knew would hurt any other self-respecting male the most.

What they didn’t count on was that I had, long ago, inoculated myself against this poison. I own, even revel, in my queer sexuality. An insult doesn’t work if the one insulted self-identifies as the slur.

Institutionalized homophobia, on the other hand, is more insidious. The dominant culture enshrines male privilege and, like the boys on the bus, punishes anyone who attempts to undercut the paradigm. Discrimination is so widespread, ingrained—and sometimes so subtle—that many non-gay people don’t even notice most of it. But those of us on the receiving end of the bigotry are keenly aware.

It’s a particularly acute problem for young people who know they are different, and different in a way that isn’t tolerated of by the dominant culture. They are much more vulnerable because they have yet to developed the emotional resources to counteract the oppression. They don’t yet realize that it’s society’s problem, not theirs. Their peers mercilessly persecute them. And for the most part, authority figures don’t even try to stop the torment. That’s why young gay people commit suicide at a rate of about seven times that of straight kids.

You may have noticed that I’ve framed this presentation in terms of the natural world. Dominant and submissive behaviors in other species often have sexual overtones, especially in other primate species. A dominant male will harass a male subordinate until he submits and presents his rump. This establishes a pecking order in the troupe: a subordinate male is submissive and the dominant male is in control.

Some straight men see gay men as a threat, instinctively fearing a supposed challenge to the established order of things; who is in control. It’s basically a struggle for dominance and troupe status. A gay person who is a productive member of society, who is indistinguishable from his heterosexual counterparts, ups the ante. He’s a threat to anyone who believes what he may have been told all his life—that gays are perverted, miserable, lonely people who live short, desperate lives.

Institutionalized homophobia impacts so many aspects of our culture. It may be obvious how it skews our notions of sex and sexuality, of who can do what to whom and when. But did you know that it is often an underlying cause of much male sexual dysfunction? It also contaminates national policy in terms of public health issues, military readiness and the rights and freedoms we afford our citizenry. The business sector also suffers. Harassment and intimidation of gay workers result in loss of productivity costing businesses millions every year. But the most tragic is the toll it takes on individual relationships. Families are torn apart, friendships end, and people sometimes are killed or kill themselves over a futile and misguided attempt to uphold the status quo.

A Fall From Grace

Hey sex fans!

This is a first for us, The Dr Dick Review Crew. We are compelled to post these follow up comments for the once lauded Lussuria Rechargeable Vibrator by Vida.

Kevin and Gina, the couple that gave the Lussuria such a glowing review and insisted that it be among our top products of 2010  contacted me in mid January to say that their unit was malfunctioning. (See their original review HERE.)

Kevin and Gina went on to explain that, on three separate occasions, the Lussuria vibe turned itself on. They recounted the story of hearing this really weird sound; a sound unfamiliar to both of them. Their dog, Laddie, was also going nuts. Finally, they tracked down the sound only to discover the Lussuria had turned itself on inside their bedside drawer. It was making a very odd sound indeed; vibrating against the wood of the closed drawer.

Kevin and Gina had a laugh and thought nothing more of it. That is until it till it happened again and then again. The final time happened in the middle of the night and it scared the bejesus out of them both as well as their dog. They got so pissed off, this last time, that they wrapped the defective toy in a towel and hide it in the dark recesses of their garage. They basically just let the vibe depleted its charge.

The following week they brought the lifeless vibe to me and ask me if I could get them a replacement.

I immediately put out an SOS email to my contact at Topco Sales, the giant multinational corporation that owns the Vida brand. I waited a whole week for a response, but none came. The following week I called my contact at Topco Sales. I asked her if she got my email. She said she did. She said she was sorry to hear we were having problems and invited me to send back the toy for a replacement. I said, “fine!” She said she’d send me instructions on how to return the unit along with prepaid shipping. That never happened.

So, on top of having a very expensive, yet defective toy on our hands, {which we can only assume carries a fatal design flaw} we also get stiffed by the inattentive and dismissive Topco Sales people. That sucks, and not in a good way.

As a result, we’ve removed the Lussuria from our Best Products of 2010 list and added this warning to the original review. We advise our loyal followers to avoid the Lussuria like the plague. A truly monumental fall from grace!

The Dr Dick Review Crew and I can only conclude that this is what comes from a toy company that grow so huge that even a slew of bad press doesn’t effect them; a cautionary tale for all toy manufactures. And that, my friends, is a crying shame.

Oceans of Lotions

Hey sex fans!

It’s Product Review Friday again and we’re comin’ at ya with two brilliant GREEN products. And they come to us directly from the manufacturers too. We are proud to welcome Seven Oaks Farms of California  and NuruSlide from Japan.

Let’s begin with Dr Dick Review Crew Members Gina & Kevin.

Nuru Gel Original from Nuru Slide—— $21.99

Gina & Kevin
Gina: “We’ve done dozens of reviews as members of the Dr Dick Review Crew, but today we have a first.”
Kevin: “We’ve never reviewed a massage product before, that is until today. We are delighted to bring you news of a fantastic product, Nuru Gel.”
Gina: “I proudly acknowledged that I am, what Kevin calls, a massage slut. There is nothing more satisfying than body-to-body contact. Of all the things I enjoy in life, and there are many, I crave massage and bodywork the most.”
Kevin: “It’s true! But she is leaving something out. Not only does she love to receive massage, but she also enjoys giving massage. And I, I’m happy to report, am the lucky recipient of most of her hands-on loving. She’s got the touch of an angel.”
Gina: “Isn’t he sweet? Don’t get me wrong, I love sex and I’ve also discovered, thanks to Kevin, that I can be a raunchy bitch when I want to be. But there is nothing more nurturing and loving than massage; both giving and receiving.”
Kevin: “That’s why when we were offered Nuru Gel to review I knew we were both in for a real treat!”
Gina: “The thing is, we didn’t exactly know how big a treat it was going to be. Let me explain. Unlike any other massage cream, lotion or oil I’ve used; Nuru Gel works best when we’re both wet. This is a totally new concept for me so we started our massage night in the bath together.”
Kevin: “This is the added bonus of a Nuru Gel massage. We got to lounge in the bath, play a bit with some of our waterproof toys to get the evening started.”
Gina: “Instruction on the Nuru Gel website suggest that the massage happen on an air mattress or vinyl sheets. This is so both people, or if there was a massage group, everyone would be slippy and sliddy. This is the nature of a Nuru massage. Look it up online if you don’t believe me. Actually, we wound up using a rubber sheet that we sometimes use for our kink play under a regular cotton sheet. We didn’t what to lay down directly on the rubber.”
Kevin: “You will be mixing the Nuru Gel with some warm water to reach the desired consistency. The whole event is gonna get a little messy, and I mean that in the best possible way. So have a few couple towels within easy reach. We also rolled up a towel placed across the top of our mattress where the one receiving the massage could lay his head.”
Gina: “Once we left the bath we dried off a bit and then Kevin laid face-down on our mattress. I poured the Nuru Gel/water solution, one handful at a time, over the back of his body. I then applied a couple of handfuls of the solution over the front of my body and laid down on top of him. Nuru Gel is so slick we had a ball rubbing all over each other. It’s both therapeutic and sensual all at the same time. I absolutely loved it. We wouldn’t be able to do this with any other product I know of, so the Nuru Gel was a real treat.“
Full Review HERE!

Now here’s Review Crew Member, Angie.

Aloe Cadabra with Vitamin E & Natural Aloe —— $9.95

Angie
In my time on the Dr Dick Review Crew I’ve developed into quite a connoisseur of personal lubricants. I’ve tried more products in the last couple of years than most women try in a lifetime. I’ve discovered a precious few products I like and way more that I didn’t care for. I decided some time ago that I would never use a conventional, chemically filled lubricant ever again. I just figure that life is too short and my body is too precious to contaminate it with needless chemicals. In other words, I’ve gone GREEN!

That’s way I was overjoyed to receive this 2.5oz container of Aloe Cadabra to review. It is a plant-based personal lubricant made from 95% organic aloe vera. The clever play on words, that is the product’s name, tickled me no end. And, as their name suggests, Aloe Cadabra is pretty magical.

Aloe Cadabra is lusciously silky and totally free of glycerine, parabens, alcohol, hormones or any other foreign chemical substances. I have the Vitamin E enriched formula, but there is also a Tahitian Vanilla and French Lavender formula. I intend to try all three.

I am post-menopausal so I have a real problem with vaginal dryness. But rather than suffer with this condition I have the utmost confidence using Aloe Cadabra. It is the closest thing to the natural lubricant my body used to make in abundance. I have several other health and beauty products that are mainly aloe vera gel. At first I was concerned that Aloe Cadabra would be too dense or might dry out or get sticky during use. But it wasn’t and it did not. Its silken consistency is neither too thick nor is it watery. It is the ideal personal lubricant for all my pleasurable moments, the ones I enjoy by myself as well as the ones I enjoy with my husband.

Speaking of which, my husband loves Aloe Cadabra too. He likes it because it’s never greasy and it’s perfect to use with even our finest silicone toys. And when he gets some in his mouth (my man is a passionate oral pleaser) Aloe Cadabra doesn’t taste bad. It is also condom friendly. My husband and I don’t have to worry about that, but I know many people in our audience need to know that.
Full Review HERE!

ENJOY

SEX WISDOM With Christopher Ryan — Podcast #257 — 01/19/11

Hey, hey sex fans! Welcome back.

I’m all a flutter, sex fans. I feel like the most popular boy in school just asked me to the prom. So ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. It’s more like the most popular boy in school just told me he wants to bugger me senseless. No, wait a minute; this isn’t coming out precisely as I hoped. Let’s just say that I’m thrilled to overflowing to have today’s guest join me for this SEX WISDOM podcast.

As you know, this series is all about talking with people who are changing the way we look at our sexual selves. And no one in this series so far has exceeded the impact of today’s guest on that discourse. I have the honor of welcoming psychologist, Christopher Ryan, coauthor of Sex At Dawn; The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality.

I confess; this book simply blew me away. And that’s pretty hard to do considering I’m such a jaded old queen. But honestly, I can’t remember being so impacted by anything I’ve read on the topic of human sexuality in like…evah! Sex At Dawn is nothing short of revolutionary. Despite this being a scholarly work, Christopher and his wife, Cacilda Jethá, have gone out of their way to make their presentation completely accessible even to a layman. There is nothing pretentious about it; the book is full of humor and fascinating antidotes. But I can assure you that it will reshape how you look at your own sexuality.

Christopher and I discuss:

  • The book tour and the media’s response;
  • The absence of a prescriptive element in the book;
  • Humans, extremely libidinous apes;
  • Our failure to question the default human sexual premise — long-term and sexually exclusive;
  • Ingrained behavior not the same as human nature;
  • Agriculture not the advance it’s cracked up to be;
  • Prehistory is 95% of the human experience;
  • The remnant hunter and gatherer societies;
  • Classical evolutionary theory is contaminated with Victorian assumptions;
  • The role of sex in hunter and gatherer societies;
  • Historical reports of first contact with indigenous peoples.

Christopher invites you learn more about Sex At Dawn by visiting their site HERE!  Look for him on Facebook HERE! And enjoy his twitter feed HERE!

(For a little icing on this already marvelous cake, enjoy the slideshow below.)

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Today’s podcast is bought to you by: Dr Dick’s Sex Advice and Dr Dick’s Sex Toy Review.

BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!

Check out The Lick-A-Dee-Split Connection. That’s Dr Dick’s toll free podcast voicemail HOTLINE. Don’t worry people; no one will personally answer the phone. Your message goes directly to voicemail.

Got a question or a comment? Wanna rant or rave? Or maybe you’d just like to talk dirty for a minute or two. Why not get it off your chest! Give Dr Dick a call at (866) 422-5680.

DON’T BE SHY, LET IT FLY!

Look for my podcasts on iTunes. You’ll find me in the podcast section, obviously, or just search for Dr Dick Sex Advice. And don’t forget to subscribe. I wouldn’t want you to miss even one episode

Human Rights + Sexual Rights = Sexual Freedom

On this the first annual National Sexual Freedom Day, sponsored by The Woodhull Freedom Foundation, I’d like to propose something quite radical. I suggest that our sexual freedoms, here in the United States, are intricately linked to universal sexual rights. And I contend that the notion of universal sexual rights is at its core a respect for human rights and human dignity.

In a world wracked by poverty, disease and war; where we threaten our very existence with climate altering pollution, nuclear proliferation and extreme population growth; is there room to talk about human rights that include sexual rights and sexual freedom?

I emphatically answer yes! In fact, I assert that sexual inequality and oppression is at the heart of many of the world’s problems. I contend that trying to address human rights without including the essential component of sexual rights and sexual freedom is ultimately doomed to failure.

An absence of sexual rights and sexual freedom leads to domestic and societal violence; human trafficking; suicide; a rise in Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs); unplanned pregnancies, abortion, and sexual dysfunction.

You know how we are always being encouraged to Think Globally and Act Locally? Well while we busy ourselves securing and celebrating our sexual rights here in this nation, I think we’d do well to focus some of our attention on how our struggle binds us to the rest of the human community.

I offer three examples of what I’m talking about. I invite you to consider how a myopic sexual rights and sexual freedom agenda, divorced from the overarching issues of human, economic and social rights, can be ineffectual and even counterproductive.

***

In 2008 the research community was all aflutter about ‘conclusive’ evidence linking HIV transmission and uncircumcised males. While I’m certainly not ready to take this data on face value, let’s just say, for the sake of discussion, that the link is conclusive. A massive campaign of circumcision was proposed as the best means of HIV prevention. The medical community would descend on epicenters of the disease, scalpels in hand; ready to eliminate the offending foreskins from every male in sight, young and old.

But wait, there’s a problem. Most HIV/AIDS epicenters are in underdeveloped countries. In these places, access to enough clean water to drink or attend to even the most basic personal hygiene, like daily cleaning under one’s foreskin, remains an enormous chronic problem. Without first addressing the problem of unfettered access to clean water and adequate sanitation, which according to The United Nations is a basic human right, further disease prevention efforts are doomed.

I mean, what are the chances that surgical intervention would succeed—one that would involve significant and sophisticated aftercare—if there is not even enough clean water for drinking and bathing?

These well-meaning medical personnel suggest imposing a strategy that not only works against nature—our foreskins do have a purpose after all: a healthy prepuce is a natural deterrent to infection. But this intervention would also violate long-held cultural and societal norms—circumcision is abhorrent to many of these same cultures. Wouldn’t this proposed prevention effort to stem the tide actually make matters worse?

***

Indentured sex work is another indicator of how human rights, sexual rights and sexual freedom are intertwined. Until the economic and educational opportunities for women throughout the world improve—which is a basic human right according to The United Nations—women will remain chattel. Families in economically depressed areas of the world will continue to be pressured to sell their daughters (and sons) simply to subsist.

Closing brothels and stigmatizing prostitutes overlooks the more pressing human rights concerns at play here. Sex is a commodity because there is a voracious market. Men from developed nations descend on the populations of less developed nations to satisfy sexual proclivities with partners they are prohibited from enjoying in their own country. Young women (and boys) in developing countries are viewed as exploitable and disposable, because they don’t have the same civil protections afforded their peers in the developed world. And runaway population growth in countries that deprive their women and girls access to education and contraception inevitably creates a never-ending supply of hapless replacements.

Addressing the endemic gender inequality in many societies is key. Equal access to education and economic resources must come before, or at least hand in hand with any serious sexual liberation effort.

***

Finally, people in the developed world enjoy a certain level of affluence and economic stability which allows them to indulge in sex recreationally. Thanks to effective birth control methods we can ignore the procreative aspects of sex and replace it with a means of expressing a myriad of other human needs. Not least among these are status, self-esteem and self-expression.

If we’re trying to prove something to ourselves, or others, by the way we conduct our sexual lives, simple prohibitions against certain sex practices won’t work. If I’m convinced that unprotected sex with multiple partners and sharing bodily fluids is edgy, cool fun, without serious consequence, as it’s portrayed in porn; I will be more likely to express myself the same way. This is especially true for young people who are already feeling invincible.

Case in point: there has been a startling uptick in seroconversions among young people, particularly gay men, which indicates that disease prevention efforts, even in the world’s most affluent societies, are simply not up to the task. It’s not that there is a scarcity of resources, quite the contrary. It is more likely that these efforts are not connected to a fundamental understanding of the role sexuality plays in the general population. I believe that sexual expression and sexual pleasure are the overarching issues here. These too are fundamental human rights.

No amount of safer sex proselytizing is going to prevail unless and until we look at why and how we express ourselves sexually. As we unravel this complex jumble of motivations and behaviors, effective prevention strategies will manifest themselves clearly. We must develop a sex-positive message; one that celebrates sexuality, builds self-esteem and counteracts the prevailing media messages of sex with no consequences.

***

National Sexual Freedom Day brings into focus the micro-strategies needed to combat a macro problem. But it also shows that we cannot work for and celebrate sexual freedom in a vacuum. It’s imperative that we see how global health and wellbeing is completely dependent on basic human rights, including sexual rights that include gender and reproductive rights, the elimination of sexual exploitation and the freedom of sexual expression.

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