Archive for December, 2006

links for 2006-12-30

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Oh my god, Women write books! About stuff that happens to them in their lives! And one of these things is sometimes motherhood! Crazy!

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A study released yesterday by the Guttmacher Institute finds that premarital sex is “nearly universal” among Americans, and has been since the 1950s.

The vast majority of Americans have sex before marriage, including those who abstained from sex during their teenage years, according to “Trends in Premarital Sex in the United States, 1954–2003,” by Lawrence B. … Further, contrary to the public perception that premarital sex is much more common now than in the past, the study shows that even among women who were born in the 1940s, nearly nine in 10 had sex before marriage.

The new study uses data from several rounds of the federal National Survey of Family Growth to examine sexual behavior before marriage, and how it has changed over time. According to the analysis, by age 44, 99% of respondents had had sex, and 95% had done so before marriage. Even among those who abstained from sex until age 20 or older, 81% had had premarital sex by age 44.

I think the above paragraph makes it a little unclear … 95 percent of 44-year-olds had pre-marital sex? What about, say, 18-year-olds? If they haven’t had sex yet, would they be counted as not having pre-marital sex, although they could very well have sex between now and the time they get married? Or did the study only measure those over a certain age? I suppose I could find all this out, but I’m not going to.** Suffice to say, a whole hell of a lot of people are fucking before marriage, and they have been for a while, despite conservative nostalgia fantasies about the 1950s.

The whole thing got me thinking, however, about premarital sex in general, I suppose. And here’s a question I’d love to hear more people’s thoughts on: does having sex early on in a relationship lead to a more egalitarian arrangement?

Almost all of my long-term relationships pretty much started out with sex. I didn’t word that right, exactly – what I mean to say is not that we were having sex and then started dating because of it, but that once we liked each other, the whole sex thing shortly followed. And I think this stems from my intense dislike for the intricacies of the whole will-we-or-won’t-we process in the early dating stages. I have no patience for it.

Now I’m not saying that it’s good for ALL dating couples to shack up right away. There are a lot of good reasons why either party might not be ready to get sexual until a certain point in the relationship (health issues, safety issues, trust issues, a sort of mutually-agreed-upon prolonging-the-anticipation, perhaps). But I think all too often, girls/women say no out of some sense that its the proper thing to do until a certain threshold of time has been passed (or money has been spent), even if they would, otherwise, be down with having sex. This leads to what Amanda at pandagon so brilliantly refers to “hide the bunny.” Women withold, guys woo, back and forth until the female feels that a suffiicient amount of time/money/effort has been spent that can justify her “giving it up,” so to speak (a term which is in itself commodifying).

The problem is that this sets up, from the very beginning, an unequal situation. From the onset, its a woman as commodity, male as purchaser situation. And once a relationship has been set up as such, I think it’d be hard to overcome, even with all other things being equal. The relationship has been founded on terms that are inherently un-egalitarian. It also plants the idea that sex isn’t something that should be mutually enjoyed by both members of a couple, but rather some sort of weird tool used to obtain power, etc.

On the other hand, if people just have sex when they want to have sex and don’t worry about whether its the proper time or not, then it sort of sets up sex as a mutually gratifying thing, and avoid that whole messy buying/selling scenario. If either party isn’t ready to have sex, fine. But if you’ve got a situation where someone wants to but is holding out in order to see how high the offer will go, then … well, I just don’t understand.

(and please don’t tell me it’s because of evolutionary psychology)

** Okay, Washington Post clarifies: By age 20, only 12 percent of people interviewed had married, but 77 percent had sex, and 75 percent had sex before marriage. By age 44, 99 percent of people were no longer virgins, 95 percent reported having had premarital intercourse, and 85 percent had married at some point.

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If anyone followed the Project Runway this year, Kayne designed a stella dress for Tara Conner a Miss. USA pagent girl. (Hell, does anyone still watch that show, except to see the Kayne design?)
Anyway, looks like Trump likes giving second chances. The boozing, supposed coke sniffing underage pagent party girl is still representing the U-S-A.

It’s a story that has happened many times before to many women and many men who came to the Big Apple. They wanted their slice of the Big Apple and they found out it wasn’t so easy.

Pagent Party Rehab

No, it’s not news. But it’s booze and drugs and stories of incenst that sell.

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New Republic tells libertarians to fuck off

I don’t blame libertarians for wanting more than the lesser of two evils. But, when your beliefs are wildly unpopular, supporting the lesser of two evils is about the best you can expect.


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*****News flash ******
I am Time magazine’s person of the year. Amazing, isn’t it? Little did you know that the first post by Raee you’d read you would meet the Time person of the year. It’s pretty damn hard to keep up with all the calls.
The E-Citizen is the person of the year. The one who uploads daily videos of their friends throwing dead animals out the window, the one daring their friends to drink and vomit, yes, you. You are the person of the year. You who spend hours upon hours on Myspace.com uploading pictures of yourself half naked. You are the person of the year. You who such an effect on pop culture. You who will bring humanity together.

This is an opportunity to build a new kind of international understanding, not politician to politician, great man to great man, but citizen to citizen, person to person. It’s a chance for people to look at a computer screen and really, genuinely wonder who’s out there looking back at them. Go on. Tell us you’re not just a little bit curious.

Raee The Person of the Year

I shouldn’t be too suprised. Nothing like some self indulgent love. Congrats You.

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Columbia Journalism Review has a post about Jesus cover stories at newsmagazines which seques into exploration of the Times cover archives, a searchable database of Times covers devoted to various topics.

CJR found that dogs far outweigh cats on Times covers (7 to 2), Darth Vader beats Dick Cheney (4 to 3), and journalism beats poverty (40 to 14).

I want to play!

Adolf Hitler – 7
Al Gore – 9

Blacks – 18
Hispanics – 3

Catholicism – 41
Judaism – 8

Family Values – 1
Communism – 94

Jesus – 21
Bill Clinton – 34

Margaret Thatcher – 3
Marilyn Monroe – 2

Playboy – 1
Poets – 14

Timothy McVeigh – 3
Tom Cruise – 3

Women 83
Men – 0

Cowboys – 6
Opera Managers – 5

I suppose I’m not curious enough to actually look, but I kinda wonder what all those cover stories on opera managers were about …

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I’ve been resisting this whole Second Life phenomenon for a few months now, despite being inundated with Second Life discussions in all of my classes this semester (i’m a public comm student) and despite the fact that one of my best friends and fellow blogger raee here has become something of the resident second life expert in our program.

Second Life’s been a bit uquititous in the media lately. Raee could tell you about it better than I can, but if you haven’t heard of it, it’s an online MMORPG (massive multi-player online role-playing game) based on real economic transactions and not really involving much of a “game” in the traditional sense at all. People exist, the move around, they interact with each other and buy and sell virtual real estate and products, and brands such as American Apparrel and aloft hotels are already setting up a virtual presense in the Second Life world.

I’m thinking I need to check it out soon, though, before I completely miss the tipping point, to borrow from Malcolm Gladwell’s vocabulary (I just finished tipping point last month, and loved it). I’ve always been a reluctant adopter of anything new. something of a luddite, i suppose. I protested cell phones. I protested text messaging. I protested blogging, for christsakes (until late 2003, when I took a tentative plunge a la the dear diary of all blogging sites, livejournal). the thing is, I seem to hang out with a lot of tech-geek and maven-style friends who try to get me hooked on things way before the curve, so even though I go through I put on my best luddite face for a few months, I end up accepting and even getting excited about phenomenon/technology/idea-of-the-season before it cathches on in the general public. I suppose, to borrow from Gladwell again, you could say I’m a late early adopter.

Which brings me back to second life, and how its about time I join, if only to see what its all about. And in that vain, iVillage.com has a kind of neat thing going on to introduce new audiences (and espeically women) to second life. iVillage, an online community for women, will host a biweekly “Girls Night Out” in Second Life, in which a different Second Life resident will lead iVillage members on biweekly tours through the Second Life universe, introducing them to locations and personalities of interest and various virtual music events, discussions and tours (which have been cropping up more than one might think In November, MacArthur Foundation president gave a speech in Second Life annoucing a new grant and Ben Folds played a private concert).

The first Girls Night Out took place last Thursday. To particpate, you have to already be a member of Second Life (which is free to join, p.s.). Participants get an iVillage branded tour application (which will be automatically updated to let participants know about tour events and locations), which can be obtained at the iVillage Loft inside Second Life on Sheep Island. For more info:

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(or, follow our normative heterosexual agenda or else we’ll talk really bad about you behind your back, imply something is wrong with you and shame you implicitly)

For some reason this myspace blog post from a friend of mine really struck a chord in me:

My sister-in-law beams at me from across the room, the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree reflecting in her eyes.  “You’re going to love this gift!” she says.  I tear into it, not knowing what to expect…and discover a Halloween costume – for an infant.  All would be fine, I guess, except for the fact that I don’t have a child.  Nor am I pregnant.  Another reminder of what I am *supposed* to be doing.

In full disclosure, the friend and her husband are trying to conceive, so its not as if the baby costume is fully random. however, they haven’t conceived yet. so it’s still a sort of presumptuous/obnoxious gift (even if i was pregnant, I think I’d be pissed if people started using my birthday/christmas gift opportunities to give me articles of clothing for my unborn child … like, uh, yeah, I’m gonna be a mommy, but I still really could have used a pair of pants or season 3 of arrested development or whatever….)

But anyway — she’s 29, been married for 6 years. From what I understand, most of their relatives and some of their friends have been harping on them for years about not having children yet …. its been sort of inconceivable to everyone that they didn’t get married and immediately start getting toward the god-given purpose of marriage, to procreate as early and much as possible, obviously. heaven forbid they want to spend a few years together as married adults of their own agency before bringing another life into the picture.

I understand they want grandchildren or nieces/nephews, or whatever.  I get that.  I also understand that my husband and I have been married for a long time and have been “unproductive” – which is unfamiliar territory to a largely Catholic-based family.  What they don’t seem to understand is that we really weren’t ready until now, and now that we are ready, it’s not happening easily. 

the worst part is, I’ve heard people talking about them, and it’s always: “well, you know, I think he would have been ready to have kids years ago but she didn’t want to.” i have no idea whether this is true or not, but they’re a pretty egalitarian couple and if they decided not to have kids yet, I’d wager it’s because THEY decided not to have kids yet. But I think it seems like it happens a lot, that the woman in the couple gets blamed for this. Even if she does want children and the husband doesn’t, she’s blamed for not somehow forcing him to participate in child-rearing against his will …

and if she’s not getting to the business of making babies, like my friend isn’t, there’s a lot of people who have no business making it their business speculating about why the woman doesn’t want to, and, in so many words, what is wrong with her. because everybody knows you’re not a woman/wife ’til you have children, and that’s all women really secretly want to do anyway ….

anyway, my friend and her husband are trying to conceive now, having finally decided its the right time, but they are having a hard time of it. and it’s so sad to see my friend blaming herself for not being able to conceive, and second-guessing the decisions they made:

The pressure is on, I feel like time is running out, and it’s out of my control.  I feel broken – like this is something that should come naturally and easily, and I can’t produce.  I have failed. I start wondering if I shouldn’t have put this off. 

that last sentence really got me. its very sad to see her have internalized that thought process that putting off pregnancy was wrong and led to some sort of karma that won’t allow her to get pregnant now … i feel like this is part of a sort of great unspoken mechanism used by society to shame women/couples into having children … the “you’ll regret it later if you don’t start now” wisdom, or, for those who are trying to start, “well, perhaps you should have started earlier.” either way, if you don’t reproduce, you’re wrong, and if you can’t reproduce, it’s your fault.

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Hipper-than-thou Eliza Gonzalez Clark has an article over at the San Franciso chronicle lamenting some of her friends’ lifestyle decisions. More specifically, she’s pissed that they’re now changing diapers instead of making out with strangers in club parking lots. Or something like that. Regardless, Clark wants you to know that she is Punk. Rawk. And they are not, because they gave birth. Or something like that.

Amanda at Pandagon has some good commentary on how drivel like this plays into stereotypes about those who don’t want children, and generally just makes the deliberately childless look bad. I agree. While Clark’s piece nicks the surface of what could be interesting commentary about the fetisization of motherhood, or why modern parents (men and women) fall into the trap of sacrificing their own lives for their children’s, what it ends up amounting to is a lot of whining about why her friend won’t put on a mini-skirt and go out looking for men with her anymore …

One of the commenters at Pandagon suggested that the article was really “a lament of having her friend buy into the Woman==Mommy ideal so much that she had erased all of her pre-baby interests and personality.”

Perhaps. But that’s not what Clark says. Instead, she sticks to surface indications of her friend’s descent from rocker chick to desperate housewife (oh no! not the suburbs! not diapers!)

I’msingle, childfree, relatively young, and still in (graduate) school. I have a friend back home who recently got married and had a kid, and I rarely ever call him anymore when i’m in town. However, that’s more a function of the fact that all he and I ever did together was go out and get wasted and do massive amounts of drugs, which, while still plausible with my current lifestyle, is kind of incompatible with his.

You have friends that are your friends because you like to go out to concerts and get wasted and do drugs and, if you’re Clark, “make out with bad boys” together. And you have friends that are friends because you share their life values and attitudes, enjoy them as a person, care about them, care about what’s going on in their life, enjoy their perspective on your life, etc. etc. In the latter case, it really shouldn’t matter what stage of life you are at and your friend is at, you’re still gonna be friends because you appreciate who they are. In the former case, lifestyle changes make a big difference, because your friendship is not based on who they are but what you do together.

Point of this long rambly-ness is: if Clark feels her friendship was somehow destroyed by her friend’s decision to have a child, get married, and stop spending time moshing with skinheads, they probably weren’t really friends on that sort of deeper level to begin with anyway … And it’s kind of disingenuous to turn that into a larger critique of having or not having children …

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We have reached a point where the reinvention of America is impossible, even if that were what we wanted. Even if that were what everybody wanted.

Perhaps. Although I’m gonna say this speaks to optimism right here:

You might think the government is corrupt, and you might be right. But I’m surprised it isn’t worse. I’m surprised they don’t shoot us in the street. It’s not like we could do anything about it, except maybe die.

Touche, Chuck, touche. That’s my brand of optimism right there.

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At the risk of further contributing to a debate I’ve recently come to hate, I can’t help but muse on the whole recent “liberaltarian” conundrum. It’s an issue I feel like I’ve been reading incessantly about since David Boaz at Cato published “The Libertarian Vote” in October, and with Brink Lindsey’s coining of a term, “liberaltarianism,” the issue has tipped into downright blogosphere frenzy, with every good libertarian blogger and commenter wonking off about it.

Democrats and Libertarians will now hold hands and skip through fields of legalized marijuana while it rains civil liberties!

A Democrat and Libertarian alliance will make Milton Friedman weep acid rain over the Beltway!

And so on and so forth ….

I think James Markels at AFF got to the crux of the matter in his commentary today about “purity-test libertarianism,” which he described as “the insufferable way that libertarians squabble amongst themselves to prove who is more consistent or pure in their ideology.”

There’s been a lot of this going on lately, and particularly vitriolic were some of the responses to David Weigel’s post about a Libertarian/Democrat alliance over on Reason Magazine’s blog. The mere suggestion that a Dem-Lib alliance might not be the Worst Thing Ever got Weigel accused of being a “Democratic shill” unworthy of deigning to call himself a libertarian …

I know that the Republican Party has traditionally been the institutionalized home of small-L libertarian voters, but it makes me cringe to see the more liberal-leaning libertarians berated and out-ideologized by smarmier-than-thou purity test libertarians.

The Republican Party has “security moms” and Christian fundamentalists and good old boys and Reaganites; the Democrats claim middle-class populists and lofty hippies and upper-crusty intellectuals. The point being, each party encompasses a range of individuals and groups with various social, political and economic agendas. So why can’t libertarians, as a group, agree to do the same?

I think it can be boiled down to an argument I was having with a friend of mine while drinking beer in the mall a few weeks back. We were discussing the issue of gay marriage, and he just didn’t understand why it seemed so important to me. He supported gays’ right to marry, but a politician’s views on this issue just didn’t really matter that much to him, and the same with several other social policies. He was going to vote for the most fiscally conservative candidates possible, regardless of anything else. I, on the other hand, am much more concerned with social and civil issues, and no amount of amazing tax policy could ever make me vote for a candidate that was anti-homosexual, anti-choice, etc. I’m a libertarian because I believe the government should stay out of our living rooms and bedrooms. He’s a libertarian mostly because he thinks the government should stay out of our wallets.

There’s a place for both positions within the libertarian label. At the core, social libertarians and economic libertarians share the underlying belief that the government should, in general, leave us alone. In a perfect world, I would support the entire range of libertarian positions, economic and social, but when forced to choose between the two, my priority is social policy, which means I’m always going to skew Democrat. If your priority is economic, you’re going to skew Republican. It’s as simple as that.

In-fighting amongst libertarians about who’s too-Democrat or too-Republican isn’t going to help anything. The PTLs may vote a straight-libertarian ticket (or not vote at all), but most of us are going to have to choose between two separate-but-equal enemies when voting. And that’s okay.

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