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Touch Isolation: How Homophobia Has Robbed All Men Of Touch

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Homophobic prohibitions against male touch are hurting straight men as well.

Touch Isolation

By Mark Green

“Boys imitate what they see. If what they see is emotional distance, guardedness, and coldness between men they will grow up to imitate that behavior…What do boys learn when they do not see men with close friendships, where there are no visible models of intimacy in a man’s life beyond his spouse?” -Kindlon and Thompson, Raising Cain
(With thanks to BRETT & KATE MCKAY)

Recently I wrote an article titled The Lack of Gentle Platonic Touch in Men’s Lives is a Killer in which I asked people to consider the following:

American men, in an attempt to avoid any possible hint of committing unwanted sexual touch, are foregoing gentle platonic touch in their lives. I’ll call it touch isolation. Homophobic social stigmas, the  long-standing challenges of rampant sexual abuse, and a society steeped in a generations old puritanical mistrust of physical pleasure have created an isolating trap in which American men can go for days or weeks at a time without touching another human being. The implications of touch isolation for men’s health and happiness are huge.

Gentle platonic touch is central to the early development of infants. It continues to play an important role throughout men and women’s lives in terms of our development, health and emotional well being, right into old age. When I talk about gentle platonic touch, I’m not talking about a pat on the back, or a handshake, but instead contact that is lasting and meant to provide connection and comfort. Think, leaning on someone for a few minutes, holding hands, rubbing their back or sitting close together not out of necessity but out of choice.

Yet, culturally, gentle platonic touch is the one thing we suppress culturally in men and it starts when they are very young boys.

Touch Isolation2While babies and toddlers are held, cuddled, and encouraged to practice gentle touch during their first years of their lives, that contact often drops off for boys when they cease to be toddlers. Boys are encouraged to “shake it off” and “be tough” when they are hurt. Along with the introduction of this “get tough” narrative, boys find that their options for gentle platonic touch simply fade away. Mothers and fathers often back off from holding or cuddling their young boys. Boys who seek physical holding as comfort when hurt are stigmatized as cry babies.

By the time they are approaching puberty, many boys have learned to touch only in aggressive ways through rough housing or team sports. And if they do seek gentle touch in their lives, it is expected to take place in the exclusive and highly sexualized context of dating. This puts massive amounts of pressure on young girls; young girls who are unlikely to be able to shoulder such a burden. Because of the lack of alternative outlets for touch, the touch depravation faced by young boys who are unable to find a girlfriend is overwhelming. And what about boys who are gay? In a nutshell, we leave children in their early teens to undo a lifetime of touch aversion and physical isolation. The emotional impact of coming of age in our touch-averse, homophobic culture is terribly damaging. It’s no wonder our young people face a epidemic of sexual abuse, unwanted pregnancy, rape, drug and alcohol abuse.

In America in particular, if a young man attempts gentle platonic contact with another young man, he faces a very real risk of homophobic backlash either by that person or by those who witness the contact. This is, in part, because we frame all contact by men as being intentionally sexual until proven otherwise. Couple this with the homophobia that runs rampant in our culture, and you get a recipe for increased touch isolation that damages the lives of the vast majority of men.

And if you think men have always been hands-off with each other, have a look at an amazing collection of historic photos compiled by Brett and Kate McKay for an article they titled: Bosom Buddies: A Photo History of Male Affection. It’s a remarkable look at male camaraderie as expressed though physical touch in photos dating back to the earliest days of photography.

The McKays note in their article the following observation:

But at the turn of the 20th century, … Thinking of men as either “homosexual” or “heterosexual” became common. And this new category of identity was at the same time pathologized — decried by psychiatrists as a mental illness, by ministers as a perversion, and by politicians as something to be legislated against. As this new conception of homosexuality as a stigmatized and onerous identifier took root in American culture, men began to be much more careful to not send messages to other men, and to women, that they were gay. And this is the reason why, it is theorized, men have become less comfortable with showing affection towards each other over the last century.

Spend some time looking at these remarkable images.  You’ll get a visceral sense of what has been lost to men.

These days, put ten people in the room when two men touch a moment too long, and someone will make a mean joke, express distaste, or even pick a fight. And its just as likely to be a woman as to be a man who enforces the homophobic/touch averse stigma. The enforcement of touch prohibition between men can be as subtle as a raised eyebrow or as punitive as a fist fight and you never know where it will come from or how quickly it will escalate.

And yet, we know that touch between men or women is proven to be a source of comfort, connection and self-esteem. But while women are allowed much more public contact, men are not. Because how we allow men to perform masculinity is actually very restrictive. Charlie Glickman writes quite eloquently about this in his article, Escape the “Act Like a Man” Box. Read it. It’s a real eye opener.

“As much as gay men have faced the brunt of homophobic violence, straight men have been banished to a desert of physical isolation by these same homophobic fanatics who police lesbians and gays in our society.”

Male touch isolation is one of many powerful reasons why I support gay marriage initiatives. The sooner being gay is completely normalized, the sooner homophobic prohibitions against touch will be taken off straight men. As much as gay men have faced the brunt of homophobic violence, straight men have been banished to a desert of physical isolation by these same homophobic fanatics who police lesbians and gays in our society. The result has been a generation of American men who do not hug each other, do not hold hands and can not sit close together without the homophobic litmus test kicking in.

The lack of touch in men’s lives results in a higher likelihood of depression, alcoholism, mental and physical illness. Put simply, touch isolation is making men’s lives less healthy and more lonely.

Recently, when visiting my 87 year-old father for a few days, I made a point to touch him more. To make contact. To express my affection, not just by flying a thousand miles for a visit but to touch the man once I got there. It may seem simple, but choosing to do so is not always a simple thing. It can raise a lifetime of internal voices, many of which speak of loss and missed opportunities. But I hugged him. I put my arm around him as we shared a cigar and cocktails. I touched him whenever I walked past his chair. Each evening, we would watch a movie. As part of that nightly ritual, I would sit in the floor, take off his shoes and socks and rub his bare feet for while. It is something I will remember when he is gone. Something I did right. Something that said to him, I love you. Spoken on the same deep touch levels by which he connected with me when I was a toddler sitting next to him, his strong arm around me as I watched the late show fifty years ago.

This touch thing is so crucial. I kiss and hug my son constantly. He sits with me and on me. I make a point of connecting with him physically whenever I greet him. The physical connection I have with him has been transformative in my life teaching me about my value as a human being and a father.

We need to empower men to touch. We need to fix our sexually repressed/obsessed American culture and put an end to distorted and hateful parts of our culture that allow homophobic people to police all men everywhere down to the very tips of our fingertips.

It’s too late in my life for the impact of these stigmas to be fully undone, but I have great hope for my son. When we collectively normalize gay life and relationships, my son, whatever his sexual orientation turns out to be, will be free to express platonic affection for others, be they men or women, in any way he sees fit. The rabid homophobes who have preached hate in America for far too long will finally be silenced, and men will be free to reach out and touch each other without fear of being labeled as somehow less of a man.

It’s a dream for a better America I can already see coming true.

Complete Article HERE!

You’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’…

Name: James
Gender: Male
Age: 45
Location: Canada
During my teenage years I had a few girlfriends and enjoyed having sex with them. There were never any problems. However at around age 20 while still in College I began to experience sexual dysfunction with my partners after the second or third time we would have intercourse. The symptoms were, I’d be horny, have a good erection but a few minutes into intercourse my penis would start to feel numb and I either would not be able to have an orgasm or I would lose my erection. I would also start to feel sexually repulsed by my partner. This pattern continued for the next 15 years as a single man. I thought I was simply easily sexually bored and dealt with the problem by breaking off the relationship as soon as the sexual dysfunction would start and move on to someone new. One night stands and new partners were never a problem. It just happened after we would have a few dates. It also happened when I met my future wife. It didn’t seem to bother her that much although she thought it might be a good idea to make an appointment to see the Doctor about it. After we were married we basically stopped having sex (we weren’t having much to begin with) because it just proved too stressful, humiliating and it had no payoff for me. I started seeing therapists and for the next 8 years I went through 7 different therapists including marital counselors, sex therapists and psychiatrists. Now I have been married almost 15 years and the marriage has been sexless. My wife doesn’t like it but has made her peace with it. I can masturbate with no problems at all and have been told by doctors there is nothing physically wrong with me. But none of the therapists were able to pinpoint what was causing my sexual problem. I have had a few sexual encounters outside my marriage over the years and the sex was great, no problems at all. Mind you none of these “affairs” lasted very long, a half dozen sexual encounters at most. Any ideas what might be causing this inability to ejaculate and inability to keep an erection plus the feeling of sexual revulsion with a partner after two or three sexual encounters?

YIKES, James, you just recounted 25 years of deep seeded psychological problems and you expect me to make an insightful comment in the precious little time I can afford any one of my correspondent. That’s a pretty tall order; don’t you think?

Ok, for all it’s worth, here goes. My guess is that you don’t have a sexual dysfunction at all. But you do have a huge rift between your sexual life and your intimate life. And this expresses itself in the ways you outlined above.

Many people who have difficulty with intimacy can still perform sexually pretty much like everyone else. Obviously the performance thing is not dependent on the intimacy thing. In these cases, sex is rarely more than a mechanical bodily function — get it up, get it on, get it off, the end. The hard part comes when these people try to ground these mechanics in a healthy emotional context.

The fact that you can’t bone the same person more then a couple of times without revulsion, and that you can only tolerate your long-suffering wife if your marriage remains sexless; tells me you need to investigate why you can’t connect sexual expression with intimacy. You exhibit all the classic signs of a sexual dysfunction, but they’re only symptomatic of a much more profound disability. And you’ll never get to the bottom of dysfunctions until you get to the root of your intimacy issue.

When I see a person, like you, in my therapy practice, I try to help my client overcome his/her rift by encouraging him/her to gradually increase the amount of intimacy he is comfortable with every sexual encounter. It’s a simple behavior modification technique. It often is very successful, but most of my clients are highly motivated to heal the fracture in their life. Also, they don’t have a 25-year history of this to overcome.

You on the other hand, don’t seem to be particularly motivated. I can see that you’re curious about your sexual problems, but you’re not making that all important connection between your bodily functions and your emotion capacity. There’s a blockage there that is so ingrained it would be very difficult to undo. It could happen, but you’d have to be very passionate about making it happen and then stick with the therapeutic intervention till there was a breakthrough. This no doubt would involve reversing a lifetime of selfishness and egotism. And I see no evidence that you have that kind of moxy.

Good luck

Hey dr dick! What’s that toll-free podcast voicemail telephone number? Why, it’s: (866) 422-5680. DON’T BE SHY, LET IT FLY!

No, seriously…

Name: PaunFarr
Gender: Male
Age: 41
Location: Ohio
Dr. Dick, I’m feeling the intense letdown of the ballot issues passed this week in California, Florida and Arkansas. Especially CA, where they had gay marriage but now have lost it, and my heart goes out for all those married couples now in limbo. I don’t understand this. Ohio passed their “marriage protection” act a couple years ago, and it was a devastating blow to me. Why is ok for the majority to restrict the rights of the minority? Where is our defender? Where is justice simply because it’s the right thing, not necessarily the popular thing? Will Barack Obama be able to turn around the tide of hatred and discrimination that George Bush has sewn for eight years? How long must we wait to be recognized as equal citizens and not made to feel like the lowest form of person possible? Looking for some advice on how to hold my head high when we’re so often given the message to slink away.

Yeah, I’m bummed too.  But the November 4th vote is not the end of the story.  There dr_dick_1976.jpgare many more chapters yet to be written.  Don’t let your disappointment and frustration take the wind out of your sails.

The very first thing I learned in the 30 plus years I’ve spent fighting for human rights, is that equality and justice never comes easily.  The second thing I learned is that my dignity and self-worth is not dependent on the approbation of others.

You learn to hold your head up because you KNOW you are as good as anyone else.  You fight inequality and injustice wherever you find it, not just in the gay community.  You make allies of all the other people in your community who are marginalized for whatever reason.  You build a coalition.  When your efforts fail, as they often will, you support and encourage your colleagues and plan your next assault on the in equitable and unjust system.  In fact, you redouble your grassroots organizing to broaden your base by reaching out to others in a language they will understand.  One thing is certain; other minorities will not automatically understand your oppression as a gay man any more than you will automatically understand what oppresses them.  But working together to find common ground will provide you the means to achieve your goals of equality in the dominant culture.  That’s how it’s done.

And ya know what?  This struggle is never over.  If you leave the battle once your rights have been secured, then you signal to your allies that you were only in it for yourself.  Nothing will undermine a coalition faster than selfishness.

Whatever you do, don’t be lookin for a defender to swoop in and save the day for you.  That’s the stuff of fairytales.  If you’re not on the front lines making this coalition happen, then don’t expect anyone, from the president on down, to come to your rescue.  Remember, dignity is not the result of the struggle; dignity is in the struggle.  Make this your life’s work and you won’t be discouraged with one, or even several, set backs.

Name: Paige
Gender: Female
Age: 22
Location:  Tulsa
I am engaged to a wonderful guy.  I’m excited about my upcoming marriage, but I’m also afraid that it will fail.  I know you are going to think we’re freaks, but my fiancé and I have decided to save ourselves for after we are married. Some of our friends even our recently married friends are having trouble with their relationship and with the divorce rate so high, what are the chances that my marriage will work?  Do I just have cold feet or am I not ready to get married?

First off, I don’t think you’re a freak for reserving full sexual expression till after you bride32.jpgare married.  It wasn’t too long ago when that sort of thing was the norm.  And as you say, even though nowadays most people enter marriage as established sex partners, that alone won’t insure a marriage will be a success.

So ok, if a successful marriage is not dependent on sexual experience what does it take to make a marriage work?  Hell, if I knew that I’d bottle it and make myself a well deserved fortune.

For the sake of argument, let’s just say you are the marrying kind and that you simply have cold feet, like every bride and groom to be does.  Let’s say that you and your fiancé have made the right choice…for you…to enter your marriage as virgins.  What’s next?  Possibly you need to jettison the Pollyanna notion that marriage is a breeze.  Your recently married friends are having problems because there are always problems in a marriage.  It’s the nature of the beast.  Hopefully, the problems you guys will face won’t be insurmountable.  But, sure as shootin’, problems will be your constant companions, sometimes they’ll even big problems. So count on it and prepare yourself accordingly.

If you have an unwavering commitment to one another to do whatever it takes to make your overall relationship work, you’ll probably be ok. Being sexually unfamiliar with one another may be a liability or it might be an asset.  One thing is certain, if you guys start to have problems with the whole sex thing, as often happens for newlyweds, get help right away.  There should be no shame or embarrassment about that.  In fact, you might want to be proactive and start looking around for sexual enrichment courses or videos to help you grow together as lovers.  Look to my Product Review Page for some video and toy suggestions.

bride0020.jpgHere are some generic tips.  Great sex is dependent on mutuality.  Be sure your partner knows he or she is loved, appreciated and respected.  One of you may discover that he or she has a stronger libido than the other.  That’s pretty common.  Deal with this immediately, like adults. Don’t wait for your relationship to go broken. Accommodations and compromise are always necessary in seeking the common good.  And people come to compromise and accommodation through effective communication.  If you don’t know how to do that, your relationship is doomed.

Passion is not a dirty word, nor is creative sexual expression a sin.  If you have religious scruples about enjoying your body and that of your fiancé you’re headed for trouble.  Boredom in the bedroom, particularly for newlyweds is a recipe for disaster.

Saving yourself for your wedding night does not preclude you being well versed in self-pleasuring.  In fact, the more you know about your body and the mysteries of your sexual response cycle the smoother things will go for the two of you on your wedding night. Nowadays there is absolutely no need for anyone to come to their marriage bed uninformed about sex in general and his or her sexuality in particular.  And come prepared; always have lots and lots of lube handy!

Like I said, mutuality is the key.  And since we all evolve sexually, both of you will need to grow right along with your partner.  Make your sex play an adventure.  Never hesitate to check in with one another to see how the pleasure thing is going.  What worked last time is not necessarily gonna work the next time.

Spontaneity is always a real good thing.  Traditional marriage doesn’t mean you have to be stogy.  Both of you need to take responsibility for seeing that your intimacy needs are being met.  Sometimes that will involve fucking like bunnies, other times it will mean vegging-out in front of the boob-tube with a fist full of Häagen-Dazs.

Openness and honesty about your most secret sexual desires and needs is essential.  Can’t trust your partner with your secrets, you oughtn’t be married to him or her.  Take responsibility for your own sexuality.  Ask for what you want and need, but don’t neglect caring for yourself.

Seek your partner’s pleasure before your own.  This is particularly important for a man.  If you become too busy to celebrate your sexuality together, you are indeed too fuckin busy.  Prioritize your life with your partner at its center.

There’s a fundamental difference between making love and fucking.  Both have their place in a healthy marriage.  And there ought also be room for solitary sex too.  Everyone in entitled to privacy and private time, especially in a marriage.

Have some creativity about your sexual expression.  Toys, fantasies, role-playing, they’re all good.  Don’t be afraid to experiment.  Attend to making your sex play spaces fit the mood — romantic to down and dirty.  One size does not fit all, if you catch my drift.

If you plan to go to seed once you’re married you can be assured that the fire will go out just as soon as you do.  Stay in shape, get plenty of exercise, and keep yourself attractive to your partner.  Pay attention to your personal hygiene. No one wants to bump someone with a smelly body and bad breath.

Make sure your partner is fully aroused before full-on fucking.  And remember sex is way more than the old in an out.  Finally, have a sense of humor about the whole thing; it will help take the edge off.

Name: Steve
Gender: male
Age: 46
Location:
Safe to swallow?  Improve the taste?

I just love it when ya’ll take the time to write or call me to tell me about your spunk. I like it for two reasons. First, it reassures me that ya’ll are paying attention to your sexual response cycle.  And  that you continue to be fascinated with how your body works. These are two really good things.

Second, well hell, I just get a kick outta hearin’ about your joy juice discoveries. Gosh, seed2.JPGIt warms the cockles of my poor old heart.  So keep it up, so to speak, and keep the good doctor informed. Who knows one day I may hear something I’ve never heard before.

Back to you Steve, there ain’t nothin’ to get all freaked out about.  Eatin’ your spooge will not make you sick. If you get off suckin’ up your own seed, knock yourself out. Have a ball! Oh wait, you already are!

Think about it for a minute, there couldn’t possibly be anything in your cum that could harm big old you, because that would mean it would also be harmful to your cute little defenseless sperm. But it’s not, so there.

Technically speaking, your joy juice, semen to be more precise, is mostly water. There’s also a simple sugar to keep you’re hard workin’ sperm alive and well. And, the rest is pure protein, baby. So look at it this way, your eating habits, so to speak, will require you to eat just a little less tofu than the rest of us.

And I do know a little something about making your spooge…spunkalicious.
Most of our ejaculate is produced in our seminal vesicles and prostate gland: not in our testicles, as most folks think. Only our sperm is produced in our balls, and sperm makes up only a fraction of our ejaculate. Our prostate gland is influenced by what we consume; eat, drink, smoke, things like that. So if you want to have sweet tasting jizz, for yourself and others, watch what you consume. Oh, and drink lots of water too.

Eating celery and/or parsley can have an almost immediate effect on the taste of your cum. Some report that the effect can be as swift as 30 minutes. So not only do celery and parsley freshen your breath, but they freshen your spunk as well. Hey, it’s like having two mints in one.

Oh and I can turn you on to a brand new product.  So brand new, in fact, that I have yetsmallermaple.jpg to publish a review of it on my Product Review Page.  Let me introduce you to Intimate Teas.  They have this special tea called My Maple Cookie.  It’s a unique blend of premium herbs specially formulated to change the female genitalia and male semen to smell and taste like pure maple.  How fun is that?  And it really works too.  I mean, who doesn’t want his/her juices to smell and taste like dessert?

If your diet is heavy with meats and fish your jizz will most likely have a bitter taste. A high concentration of dairy products creates a foul taste…so does all that coffee and nicotine. Lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet (except for asparagus that is) will produce a slightly sugary taste. And if you like your cocktails (the kind you drink, silly), it’s best to stick with high-quality, naturally fermented beers, wine or liquor. The cheap stuff, the rotgut, will not only give you a wicked hangover, but will cause your spooge to have an extremely acidic taste.

Name: Alva
Gender: female
Age: 40
Location:  New Mexico

It has been over six years since I have had sex. My husband of 12 years died cancer 5 years ago.  There was no sex in our relationship the last year of his life.  He was the love of my life and I still miss him so much. I would like to get back into the swing of things.  I just don’t know how.  My friends tell me I should get on with my life.  They tell me I’m still an attractive woman and that I’m wasting my life.  Sometimes they badger me so that I don’t want to be around them.  Maybe there’s something wrong with me.  Maybe I’m dead inside.  Why can’t I just move on?

You raise some very interesting issues, Alva, concerns that are often ignored or misdiagnosed by healing and helping professionals.  Grief has a profound effect on grief-1.jpgevery aspect of our lives.  Yet there is hardly any literature on the effects grief has on our sexuality.  To my mind, grief is the leading causes of sexual dysfunction for those who have experienced the death of a loved one.  And you, my dear, present some of the classic symptoms — indecision, self-doubt, lack of libido, a desire to isolate.

Before I continue I want to underscore that grief is not depression.  And treating grief with an antidepressant is counterproductive.  It can actually take away the impetus to resolve the grief and get on the rest of one’s life.

Now, is six years of grieving enough?  Apparently your friends think so. But what do you think?  Would reviving your sex life sully the memory of your dear departed husband?  I believe it’s time for you to bring this concern to a professional for help.  I suggest that you get some therapy from someone who is well versed in both sexuality and grief counseling. I say this not because I’m siding with your friends, but because you, yourself, identify this as a problem.

What could a counselor do for you, you may ask?  Well, I can only speak for myself, and the work I do in my practice.  A good portion of my practice is with sick and dying people and their friends and family who survive them.  I know the impact a terminal illness and the dying process can have on the surviving spouse or partner.  We often go into survival mode, shutting down so much of ourselves in an effort to have the strength to cope with this life-altering experience.  Of course, trying to kick-start our life afterwards is often a monumental effort.  Without the support and guidance of a professional or a group of similarly challenged people, some of us just sink to the lowest common denominator and stop fully functioning.

grief.jpgTraumatic events in our lives can radically shift us out of living mode into merely surviving mode.  And if this goes on for a long time — and six years is a very long time in my opinion — surviving mode begins to feel like living mode.  But it’s not!  Good thing we have friends to tell us when we are off course.  You are right to say that sometimes the interventions of our friends can feel like badgering.  And I know that’s not helpful.  But how else are they to convey their continued concern for your wellbeing?

I believe in the resilience of the human spirit.  I believe that we can honor our dead and continue to live and love too.  Now it’s true that some animals and even some humans mate for life.  And when the mate dies they never mate again.  However, this doesn’t sound like you, Alva.  It sounds to me like you have a desire to get on with your life, to fill the void, to make new connections, but you simply don’t know how.  Acknowledging that fact is a real good place to begin.

Perhaps you could start by reawakening your sexuality through self-pleasuring.  Reconnect with your body and the joy it can bring you.  Six years is a long time to be without, so starting up again may take some effort.  While you are working on resolving your grief in a grief support group, you might want to connect with another group member who will no doubt be experiencing much the same things as you.  You could explore your sexuality together.

Reestablishing a social life will no doubt follow, slowly at first.  But the inevitable tug of our basic need for human to human contact will draw you, if you let it.  Remember the best testament to those who have died is to continue to celebrate life itself.

Good luck ya’ll

Room With A View

Look for my new

Video Reviews!

This week we have two great titles: COUPLES MASTURBATION and EVERY COUPLE CAN.

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“I think we can all agree that there’s nothing more fundamental to a happy and healthy sex life than masturbation. Dr. Michael Perry. Ph.D., ACS, the producer of these fine movies, introduces the concept of masturbating with and for your partner.”

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“This R-rated video (EVERY COUPLE CAN) has much more of a story line than the previous one. First we meet Sam and Marie, a sexually frustrated couple. Sam turns to a sex surrogate to learn how to overcome his sexual problems in the hopes he’ll be able to save his marriage. Sam’s friend Trevor and his wife are having sexual difficulties too. What a surprise! “

…full reviews here

Plan “B”

Name: Cade
Gender: Male
Age: 23
Location: Alabama
A couple of weeks ago you responded to an Iraq vet who was having trouble in his marriage because he couldn’t get it up due to his PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I want to thank you for discussing that. It was helpful to me too. I’m an Iraq vet. I lost my right leg, to just above the knee and three fingers on my left hand to an IED. I think I’m doing ok with the physical rehabilitation. My prosthesis is state of the art and I’m even learning to run again. I joke that I’m the bionic man. Here’s what’s freaking me out though. I’m getting hit on by some really hot chicks, the kind I never could score with before Iraq. I come to discover they are hot for my leg stump. And I’m gettin all skeezed out by it. I’m passing up getting laid because this is fucking with my head. What gives with this shit?

Dude, you’ve stumbled upon, no pun intended, a silver lining of sorts, of being an amputee. Honestly, I’m not pulling your leg here, your good leg that is. Ok, ok really this is for real, Cade. But I think you already know that, huh?

Let’s begin with a definition. There is a fetish, or a paraphilia, if you prefer, calledamputee.jpg Acrotomophilia, or amputee love. It’s relatively rare, but there is a sizable Internet presence. You need only do a search for “amputee love” to get you started. These folks, often called devotees, are turned on by the limbless among us.

Here’s an interesting phenomenon, with the spike in seriously maimed vets returning from our numerous war zones and the media attention they’re getting these days — thanks the inadequate care some are receiving at our nation’s veteran’s hospitals — this fetish is growing by leaps and bounds.

A couple of weeks ago, I was having a beer with a bunch of gay men. We were discussing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the horrific images we were seeing on tv. Without missing a beat, a couple of the men in the group started talking about the number of totally hot young vets they were seeing on the news. Sure they had missing limbs, but for some in the group that made them even hotter. A couple other guys were goin on and on about how they would get off on servicing some of these returning service men. Instead of the conversation weirding out the whole group, as I thought it might, most of the guys were like getting totally into it.

I was being quizzed about the sexual issues, of course. Does an amputation affect a guy’s ability to get it up? …and things like that. I was totally blown away. Not by their questions, but by the fact that these men, who would otherwise be put off by a guy with a bad haircut; were beginning to fetishize seriously maimed vets. Then I thought to myself, OMG, I am watching the birth of some brand new baby devotees. And that, my friend, is how all fetishes begin.

I realize that you must be facing enormous hurtles, Cade, (again no pun intended) to regain your sense of self after the disfigurement and amputation. It hardly seems fair to throw yet another curve ball your way. But, as we all know, life is supremely unfair. I suspect that you’re already feeling enough like an oddity without some chick — even a sizzilin’ hot one — coming on to you because of what you’ve lost. And that’s why I suggest you withhold judgment about all of this until you have a bit more information about this particular fetish and it’s practitioners.

Many amputees go through life without ever meeting a devotee. Others have intimate experience with these fetishists. One thing for sure, even though a devotee’s interest in you may creep you out; you can be certain that their interest is sincere. They are not like most of the other well-meaning people you’ll meet in your new life as a bionic man. A devotee will not pity or patronize you. Devotees, curiously enough, see you as more whole and desirable than those who have no missing parts. In other words, devotees are hot for you for how you are. This is definitely not a “let’s pity fuck the gimp” sorta thing. I know this can be mind-bending, but I hope you can see the fundamental difference between the two.

Some amputee/devotee relationships are long-term, marriage and children included. Others are more recreational in nature. I suppose that if you have your head screwed on right, you’ll be able to discern what might be best for you, if any of this appeals to you. Actually, in this realm, you’re absolutely no different than all your non-maimed peers. They too are trying to make sense of how love, sex and intimacy fit together.

amputee00.jpgI know some amputees are put off by devotees. They’re indignant that someone would objectify them for their stumps and not accept them as a human being first. Well, ya can hardly argue with that, can ya? But in reality, all of us do our share of objectifying. What about all the guys who flock around the blond with the big rack? You know they only see her tits and not her brain. Is the amputee/devotee thing any different? I think not.

You know how you are doing all this physical therapy to regain your ability to walk and run with your new bionic leg and foot? Well, there’s probably as much emotional and psychological therapy you need to do to adapt yourself to your new maimed-self. Part of this psychological adjustment may be embracing and celebrating the fact that you are now an object of desire for a whole new group of folks.

So ok, your hotness is not the same hotness you may have had pre-Iraq, but it’s hotness none the less. You may not yet appreciate how a person could be sexually attracted to another person simply because of an amputation. Hell, the devotee may not even know why he or she is wired this way, but that don’t make it any less a fact. The confusion that can result from these desires or being the object of these desires can often sabotage a perfectly viable amputee/devotee sexual relationship.

Acrotomophilia, like all fetishes and paraphilias is learned behavior. Some devotees recall early childhood erotically charged encounters with women or men who were amputees. But just as plausible is the fetish began like the story I recounted at the beginning of my response — a group of people fantasizing about sex with a hot vet, who happens to be an amputee. You can see how just a little of that highly charged erotic reinforcement could turn anyone into a devotee. So it’s not so mysterious after all, is it?

I realize you didn’t choose this for yourself. But, for the most part, none of us is really in charge of what we eroticize, or what others eroticize about us. I know I nearly went to pieces the first time someone referred to me as a daddy. It wasn’t till I came to grips with the fact that I was no longer a young man, and that younger men might find me desirable, even at my seriously advanced age, that the whole daddy thing settled in with me.

What you do with all this information, Cade, if anything, is completely up to you. Will you embrace your new bionic gimp hotness and let it take you for a ride? Or will you resist? Either way, at least you’ll be a bit more informed about what gives with this shit.

Name: Tammy
Gender: Female
Age: 36
Location: Springfield IL
My parents were Laurel Canyon hippies of the first order, free love, drugs and all that stuff. I used to be disgusted by all the sex my parents were having with other people. I just couldn’t understand why they didn’t just want to be with one another or divorce and remarry someone else. As soon as I could, I left the west coast for the Midwest. Now all these years later my own marriage is in trouble. My husband unilaterally ended our sex life after the birth of our last child three years ago. I haven’t let myself go. I’m still very attractive and have even improved my body after the babies. But nothing I do brings him back to bed. He said that we have children now, and people with children don’t do that sort of thing!

To spite him for shutting me out, I turned to another man for sex. I just wanted to feel desirable again. I fear my affair will be found out and it will destroy my marriage. Funny thing, my parents with all their multiple sex partners remained happily married for 51 years till my father’s death two years ago. They were honest about their lives; I am not! I feel ashamed, but I am also having the best sex of my life and I won’t give it up.

My husband is a decent man and a good father. How can I continue to live this lie? If I come clean it will likely break up my family and I’ll look like a cheating slut. Is there any other option? I wish I would have been more accepting of my parent’s lifestyle; maybe the karma wouldn’t be so rough now.

Ahhh, bad luck doll! That karma thing can sure enough be a bitch. And it’ll bite you in the ass sure as shootin’.

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard this same story from a frustrated and desperate man or woman trapped in a sexless marriage, I’d have enough money to lay down my keyboard, give up my status as the most fabulous and revered sexpert in the universe and retire to Maui.

Unfortunately, by the time I hear from most of these people they have already suffered through years of abstinence, all the while begging and pleading for the sex they want, need and deserve. By the time they write to me it’s often way too late. The die is cast. They’re married with kids and often have a stray affair workin’ on the side. As you suggest, Tammy, it’s a pretty unbearable situation.finfidelity01.jpg

My first thoughts are that by the time things get to the point of sheer desperation, a happy ending is virtually impossible. A lot of people are gonna get hurt regardless of how this resolves it self. If that’s a given, mabe you should be asking yourself; what can be salvaged from the impending wreck?

Tammy, you write something very telling in your message to me. When talking about your parents you say; “They were honest about their lives; I am not!” In the end, if you can reclaim your integrity, regardless if it means the demise of your marriage and family as you currently know it, you will have regained something of inestimable value.

I also want to address your comment: “If I come clean it will likely break up my family and I’ll look like a cheating slut.” Perhaps, but at least you’ll no longer be a lyin’ cheatin’ slut. Come on, how could what others think of you trump what you already think of yourself. You are down on yourself because you expect sex in your marriage. And when that disappeared, you didn’t shut down as a sexual being. Does that alone make you so bad, a slut even?

I wholeheartedly believe that married people deserve a rich and fulfilling sex life, unless there’s mutual agreement for another arrangement. Unilaterally depriving a spouse of a rich and fulfilling sex life is an act of sexual violence. The kind of sexual violence that will cause frustration, anger and desperation. And inevitably lead to infidelity, which in turn destroys the marriage and traumatizes the kids. So Tammy, if kiss008.jpgyou are a cheating slut, what does that make your husband? Neither you or your old man is without blame. So time to buck up, darlin’, and do the right thing. Regardless of how the chips fall.

And one more thing, you say you were disgusted by your parent’s hippy, free love lifestyle — at least they were open an up-front with you about who they were. Consider the trauma your kids will experience when they learn dear old mom was bumping someone other than dear old dad. What kind of example are you setting for them? You see where the honesty thing is a good idea right from the get go, huh?

Ok, so I think there’s a consensus that the truth must be told. I suggest that you generously offer your husband the first right of refusal. He may not deserve it, but that’s the way to go nonetheless. Offer to stay with him and raise your kids together, but not in a sexless marriage. If he can’t bring himself to bone you the way you need it, when you need it, with vigor and passion; then he needs to free you up to find that bone in someone else’s drawers. And if he can’t live the cuckold life he ought at least to be man enough to leave the marriage with as little stink as possible.

Name: Jack (not my real name)
Gender: Male
Age: 40
Location: Boston
I have a bunch of little bumps on my penis near the tip. Each one is kind of lumpy. They don’t really bother me. I’ve had them for a while, but now there seems to be more of them. Should I be concerned?

Yes, jack…not your real name, there is reason to be concerned.

Listen up everyone, whenever there’s a change in the look, feel or sensations in your genital area there is cause to have a medical professional look at the disturbance immediately. If you’re like jack…not his real name, you could have an infection that could be transmitted to your sex partners. It’s one thing to foolishly disregard your own health and wellbeing; it’s quite another thing all together to risk the health and wellbeing of an unsuspecting sex partner.

sexual_health.jpg

Sounds to me, jack…not your real name, that you have genital warts. They’re relatively easy to detect; small lumps that typically have an irregular cauliflower-like surface. Sound familiar? I thought so.

If you’ve been dippin’ your warty wick in some pussy, mouth or asshole, you’ve likely passed on the infection…thank you very much. And if it’s been pussy you’ve been messin’ with the lucky lady (or ladies) may now have warts inside their cunt.

Genital warts are pretty benign, but they’re mighty unsightly. Some people experience irritation and itching around the affected area. Women can get warts on the vulva and perineum but they can also appear on the vagina, cervix, and asshole. Men get warts most often on their dickhead and foreskin, but they may also appear on the shaft of your cock, scrotum, and asshole. And anyone can get them in their mouth.

A carrier of the virus doesn’t even have to have a visible outbreak for the infection to be transmitted. Probably, that’s how you got infected yourself; jack…not your real name.

Genital warts can be a bitch to get rid of, because, like all warts, these little devils have a tendency to reappear. Treatments may include: Liquid nitrogen to freeze small warts or another topical solution to treat warts inside the urethra, anus, mouth and/or the vagina.

Do us all a favor; jack…not your real name, consult your doctor ASAP.

Good luck, ya’ll