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January 31, 2006

Teens Who Make Abstinence Pledges Just As Likely To Get STDs As Teens Who Don't Make Pledges

You know about those abstinence pledges conservatives urge teens to take. Teens can even get a silver abstinence ring to seal the pact. However, The Washington Post has reported that "...teenagers who take virginity pledges -- public declarations to abstain from sex -- are almost as likely to be infected with a sexually transmitted disease as those who never made the pledge, an eight-year study released yesterday found." Teens who make the pledges delay having sex, marry earlier, and have fewer sexual partners, but they are also less likely to use condoms and are "morel likely to experiment with oral and anal sex." Despite their pledges to abstain from having sex until marriage, they are having sex anyway. Unprotected sex. [Via Echidne.]

Posted on January 31, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Flukeworm Harasses A Blogger

A flukeworm who will go unnamed has harassed a blogger who had written about his case on her blog. This asshat even contacted her ISP, threatening to sue for libel. He doesn't have a leg to stand on. However, her ISP made her take down the posts she wrote about him. This guy has visited my blog, posing as a reporter for CNN. He brought up lots of "facts" about his own case while pretending to be a reporter. He can't intimidate me. This really sucks. Some people will bully anyone who stands up to them. I have had plenty of trolls over the years who are nothing more than bullies who feel as if they have no power, so they gripe on my blog. I delete that sort without even reading their rants.

Posted on January 31, 2006 at 09:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

Bible Belt States Have The Highest Divorce Rates

I've posted about divorce rates in Bible Belt states before, but a Townhall article by former jailbird-turned-evangelical Chuck Colson made me realize I need to bring up the research again. Here's what Colson had to say:

It's becoming increasingly clear that strong families depend on churches, and churches depend on strong families.

That statement sounds obvious to some folks. But in fact, it challenges the conventional wisdom. For a long time, misinterpreted statistics made it seem that the connection between strong faith and strong families had weakened.

For example, my friend Ron Sider of Evangelicals for Social Action has said for years that evangelical Christian families were no different from secular families. According to Sider, "evangelicals and born-again Christians . . . divorce at the same rate as—or slightly more often—than other Americans." Sider also has published data that seemed to show that Christians were having extramarital sex at the same rate as their secular neighbors.

Well, now researchers are discovering that Sider's data is flawed. At a "Summit of Religious Leaders" that I attended last fall, the eminent authorities Dr. Brad Wilcox and Dr. Byron Johnson made a presentation showing that strong religious faith genuinely is connected with strong family life.

In collecting data, Wilcox and Johnson examined the religious practices of people who called themselves Christians—something previous studies had not always done. In particular, they checked rates of church attendance. Their findings were striking. Although church attendance is down, those who do attend, especially weekly, are less likely to divorce. Instead they are more likely to report that their marriages are happy. And regular church attenders reported being happier in general than those who did not attend regularly.

As Wilcox and Johnson pointed out in their presentation, "For much of our nation’s history, religious institutions have been the primary custodians of marriage. . . . Family, in turn, has oriented Americans to the religious life." It's no coincidence, then, that church attendance and marriage declined together as divorce and illegitimacy rates rise. And it's no coincidence that regular church attendance still correlates with marital faithfulness and happiness.

Sider's research is nothing new. Barna Research had already found that born again Christians are just as likely to divorce as non-Christians. Barna also found that born again Christians are less likely to co-habit and just as likely to divorce.

Barna also found that the Bible Belt has the highest divorce rates:

2001

The region in of the nation in which divorce is least likely is the Northeast. In that area, 28% of adults who have been married have also been divorced, compared to 32% in the Midwest, 35% in the South, and 38% in the West.

Overall, 33% of all born again individuals who have been married have gone through a divorce, which is statistically identical to the 34% incidence among non-born again adults.

Religious Tolerance Org. has also posted statistics about divorce in Bible Belt states. The organization cited Barna.

George Barna, president and founder of Barna Research Group, commented: "While it may be alarming to discover that born again Christians are more likely than others to experience a divorce, that pattern has been in place for quite some time. Even more disturbing, perhaps, is that when those individuals experience a divorce many of them feel their community of faith provides rejection rather than support and healing. But the research also raises questions regarding the effectiveness of how churches minister to families. The ultimate responsibility for a marriage belongs to the husband and wife, but the high incidence of divorce within the Christian community challenges the idea that churches provide truly practical and life-changing support for marriages."

Colson also blamed same-sex marriage for declining marriage rates. He wrote that "... And of course, they should join in efforts to preserve the definition of marriage as a union of one man and one woman, because we also know that when gay "marriage" is recognized - as in Norway - traditional marriage declines." Marriage rates in the U. S. have dropped nearly 30% over the past few decades. Socio-economic factors seem to be a major cause for the drop in marriage rates. Same-sex marriage alone won't affect the drop in marriage rates, so Colson is wrong in saying we "know" gay marriage will cause a decline in traditional marriage.

Posted on January 31, 2006 at 09:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

So What If You Rip Your Episiotomy Scar Wide Open? Have Sex Because It's Your Duty.

Mary Elizabeth Williams' article at Salon about her sex life after having a baby. I read it, and could only think of one question.

What the hell was she thinking?

Amanda at Pandagon also had plenty to say about this article, which didn't surprise me since she writes about sex. I have an advantage over her, in that I have given birth. I have a unique view of this issue that she doesn't have. My statements will only add to her insightful observations.

Maybe it's because I'm forty-five now and my son is about to go to college. I have much healthier attitude about sex now than I used to have. I don't think sex post-baby is "something I am supposed to do". Her unspoken words are "... because my husband wants to fuck just like we did before I got preggers." I won't say much about my previous marriage, which was not a good one. I was told to wait six weeks post delivery to have sex again, which was fine by me, since I had a episiotomy which hurt like hell. In case you don't know, doctors will give a woman an episiotomy to make the hole bigger for the baby's head to come out of. While it's healing, it hurts like you wouldn't believe. Regular sitz baths helped a lot, but it still hurt. My ex wanted to have sex at about the fourth week, and I was still in pain. I gave
in, and ripped my episiotomy scar wide open. Big mistake. He was very inconsiderate, which was nothing new for me. Despite my bad marriage, I still loved sex. I did not let a bad marriage get in my way of knowing that I deserved a healthy and vigorous sex life. I just didn't have one at the time. I have always had a very high sex drive, and my bad marriage did not affect my libido. I wished for great, hot sex, but I didn't get it.

What really irked me was the attitude some men had about me as my belly expanded. I have always been a very attractive woman. I've been compared to Natalie Wood (my age is showing). Younger men and women have compared me to Demi Moore. I can take a compliment like the best of them. When I became pregnant, I was very active in community theatre, an atmosphere that bases a lot on what you look like. I always did crew work, mainly lighting, scenic art, makeup (including prosthetics), and assistant directing. Men who used to drool over me were completely turned off as I gained baby weight and my belly expanded. I felt like an incubator who had no sex appeal whatsoever. It was a great blow to my ego, but I knew it wasn't my fault. Luckily, after I gave birth, I went right back into theatre and lost the baby weight very quickly. Shortly after I gave birth, I began working in union shops, and making quite a bit of money. I also was used to hauling around 50 pound lamps (lights), so I buffed up very quickly. My body looked like Vasquez's body from "Aliens". I couldn't do chin-ups, but I could swing a fresnel (a type of light) around with the best of them. The men who had been repulsed by my baby belly suddenly started paying attention to me again. I was irritated, but I liked the attention. At the same time, new men I met on my union jobs found me very attractive, and they were surprised to learn that I had a baby (and later toddler) at home. I even was hit on by women. This is theatre and entertainment, after all. I knew I looked good, and I flaunted it.

This section of Williams' article made me sit at the computer with my mouth hanging open:

The baby's sleep was still as easily and noisily set off as a car alarm on a Sunday morning. At the first sign of her buzz-saw-like snore, we plopped her drowsing form in the other room, where fitful gurgles told us we'd better try to wrap it up as soon as possible.

We undressed quickly and he fondly touched my breasts, a pair of old friends he hadn't seen in a while. I cringed. His hands felt like sandpaper on my raw skin. It wasn't just that it was painful, though; it was worse than that. After having the baby on them all day, I wanted them all to myself for a while. They'd gone from sex props to utilitarian devices, and the thought of having somebody else needing my tools filled me with dread. I swatted his hands away with a grimace. He looked at me, a mixture of hurt and concern on his face. So much for foreplay.

It didn't get any steamier from there. "How do you want to do this?" he whispered huskily, while I paused to contemplate my options. I climbed aboard, figuring that would afford me the greatest measure of control.

It was agonizing. You'd think that after delivering something the size of a Thanksgiving turkey, a woman would feel like she'd just added a lane or two to her private highway. Instead, I'd lately been looking at my ultra-slim tampons and thinking, Oh God, no, never. My earliest sexual exploits had been awkward and a little uncomfortable, but full of fun and foreplay. This? This felt like the Amityville Horror, my husband in the role of unwelcome interloper and my lower half ominously commanding, Get out!

Her lower body was housing The Devil, and it needed a priest for exorcism? Where the hell did she get this horrible opinion of her own body and Teh Sex? As far as the sore nipples and breasts go, she should have gone without a bra for a few years before having the baby. I never wear a bra (new information for my trolls to bug me about. Heh heh heh.). I didn't have a problem with tender nipples as my baby nursed because I was already toughened. I have never viewed my breasts as "utilitarian devices". They are mine, I grew them, and I like them. A lot.

I call myself a "sex-positive feminist", but I'm not sure I like the term. The implication is that the opposite is "sex-negative feminist", but I seriously doubt that there is such a thing. I don't know of one feminist who dislikes sex. Some feminists have opinions about how patriarchal notions have harmed the enjoyment of sex, but they don't dislike sex. I'd like to find a better term than "sex-positive feminist", but I haven't thought of one or discovered one yet.

She continued, and the scenario became even more dire. She made the mistake of blaming herself for not being ready for sex, yet she blamed herself for being a poor lover.

We didn't last much longer after that. We hadn't even fully gotten to penetration, let alone thrusting, let alone pleasure. After a few uninspired minutes, I defeatedly flopped down beside him.

I had what is tactfully referred to as a performance problem. In a previous life, I might have gamely switched tactics, attempted some partner-pleasuring tricks of an oral or manual variety. Instead, I sulked. My husband didn't push it. You'd be surprised what a few yelps of "Ow. Ow. OWOW NOOOOOO" can do to dampen a man's mood. In retrospect, if he'd still been up for it at that point, I'd have considered the possibility that I had married a sadist.

I lay in bed thinking, I have failed.

There is a reason a woman's body says "Ow. Ow. OWOW NOOOOOO" after she's had a baby. It means her body is not ready for intercourse. She needs to heal completely before resuming intercourse. It's not her fault that intercourse hurt. She did not fail.

When are straight people going to learn that there is more to sex than intercourse? If she and her husband want to have sex, but her body is not ready for intercourse yet, there are plenty of things she and her husband could have done that would have been just as enjoyable as full-blown intercourse. They could have given each other oral sex. They could give each other massages or scratch each other's backs and heads. They could have used exotic oils to massage each other. He could have inserted a couple of fingers into her to get her used to the sensation again. Once it hurts, it's time to back down a bit. They could have masturbated each other. There are countless possibilities for great sex without intercourse.

Williams went on to announce that she would no longer hold onto bad notions about having sex:

I would no longer have the luxury of making love to prove my prowess. I would no longer have sex because I believed it was what I was supposed to do. I would have sex because I wanted to, because dammit, I believed it would be fun. I would discover all over again for the first time what would work for me and what wouldn't. It's not that things ever quite went back to exactly as they were, but I began to understand that they didn't have to. This new stage would have its rewards too.

I'm still open to possibilities, eager for novel ways to discover bliss.

I'm just not such a hardass about it anymore. Six weeks after my second child was born, I was back at the doctor's office, in the same undignified, scooted-down position. "You're ready to resume sexual activity," he pronounced authoratively, as if speaking ex cathedra. I smiled indulgently, thanked him, and immediately resolved to ignore him. Because this time, I was going to be the one to decide when I was ready. And I knew that someday soon, I really would be.

Well, it's about time. The irritating thing is that we don't know how she's changed her attitude about intercourse. That last paragraph is where the article ends. All we know is that she blamed herself for suffering through painful intercourse before her body healed, and she blamed herself for the bad sex she made her poor husband suffer through. I wanted to read more! I wanted to read about how she discovered "novel ways to discover bliss". I described a bunch of them. I wanted to know how she found the fun in sex. I didn't get to hear that, though. I just heard about how she blamed herself for her rotten sexual experience after having intercourse too soon after giving birth. I'm convinced that some women don't give themselves enough time to physically heal from giving birth because their husbands want to have intercourse too soon. I'm convinced that too many women have sex after giving birth because they think that is what they are supposed to do. That's just so wrong. There are lots of ways to give yourself and your husband pleasure in bed, and intercourse is only one of them. Once men and women learn all the different ways to give themselves and each other pleasure. they will learn that sex is much more enjoyable than they had ever imagined.

Posted on January 31, 2006 at 07:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (37)

January 30, 2006

Ten Views I Hold Without Evidence

I saw this from Jill at Feministe. There aren't many views I hold without evidence, but there are a few.

1. Peter Jackson's "Dead/Alive" is a much better movie than his "Lord Of The Rings" series.

2. Brussel sprouts taste good. And Mexicorn is the spawn of Satan.

3. "Lost" is losing its grip. And Charlie whines too much.

4. Lauren will update us soon with a post. She can't resist blogging.

5. There are many relationship and family forms that are just as good as if not better than traditional heterosexual marriage.

6. My chocolate mousse is the best in the world.

7. The Royal Spawn is the best kid in the world.

9. My marriage is happier than most marriages.

10. Coldplay makes good music. (I'm going to get whacked for that one.)

I tag anyone who wrote about Alito in the past week.

Posted on January 30, 2006 at 11:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)

For The Count And Other World Of Warcraft Fans - World Of Warcraft Google Maps

World Of Warcraft maps operate just like Google Maps. Now I can find out where the Crazy Cat Lady lives any time I like. Too bad it doesn't give driving directions. Since you ride horses, tigers, and mythical creatures in WoW, the maps would have to give those kinds of directions.

Posted on January 30, 2006 at 09:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Italy's Berlusconi Vows No Sex Until Election

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is well known for opposing same-sex marriage and for supporting "family values". In his latest publicity stunt, he promised "two and a half months of complete sexual abstinence until April 9", the day of the election. This "family values" guy has been married twice. He is also vain - he is proud of being physically fit. He has had a facelift and a hair transplant. He's been criticized by feminists for his "use of sexual innuendo and sexist jokes". In June, "he sparked a diplomatic incident with Finland when he said he had used "playboy tactics" to persuade its woman president to give up a bid to site the European Union's food agency in Helsinki, rather than the Italian city of Parma".

Now, he vows "complete sexual abstinence" until election day. I wonder if his wife begged him to do it?

Posted on January 30, 2006 at 09:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Is Someone Annoying You For A Date? Here's The Perfect Phone Number To Get That Person Off Your Back.

Ladies and dudes, is someone in your office pressuring you for a date? Is some drunk moron at a bar begging for your phone number? Well, The Rejection Line might be exactly what you're looking for. [Via Kiss 'n Blog.]

You can leave this number on bathroom walls. Plug it into your cellphone for emergencies. Give it to telemarketers. Give it to those people at bars and art show openings who won't leave you alone.

There are other Rejection Lines opening up around the country. There is one in Boston. I might keep that one handy in case some lout annoys me.

Plus, The Rejection Line is hiring! They're looking for "creative, ambitious, motivated individuals" to join the team.

Posted on January 30, 2006 at 08:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 28, 2006

Hollywood Doesn't Have An Original Idea In Its Pointy Little Head

There is an amazing number of sequels either already released or in the works now. I had no idea there were so many sequels coming out. When is Hollywood going to come up with something original that is good? One not on the list is a remake of that suspense classic "When A Stranger Calls". I rented the original starring Carol Kane not long ago from Netflix. I also bought it for The Royal Spawn's best friend for Christmas. He told me about the upcoming remake.

Here are some remakes on the list:

"The Pink Panther"

"The 8th Voyage of Sinbad" - If you haven't seen "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad", find it. Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion animation makes that movie good. He invented stop-motion animation.

"Basic Instinct 2 - Risk Addiction"

"Beverly Hills Cop 4" - It's rumored that Quentin Tarantino will direct.

"The Breakfast Club 2" - Spare me.

"Bubba Nosferatu" - Starring Bruce Campbell. I wonder how Joe Lansdale feels about this, since he wrote the short story "Bubba Ho-tep". Lansdale's books are a bit hard to find, but that story is a riot. I own the book it appears in.

"Evil Dead" - I own the original, and it's one of my favorite movies. It's already been remade. The remake was "Evil Dead 2". Why remake it again? It's fine on its own.

"Candyman 4" - Say it. I dare you. "Candyman... Candyman... Candyman... Candyman..." ;)

"Casino Royale"

"Fahrenheit 9/11 1/2" - I'm sure the wingnuts will go apeshit over this one.

"Graduate 2"

"Halloween 9" - I could have sworn they were up to "Halloween 250" by now...

"Indiana Jones 4" - I thought Harrison Ford was getting too old to do this again?

"Love At Second Bite" - The original starred George Hamilton, he of the eternal suntan.

"Police Academy 8" - Spare me, part 2.

"Rocky 4 6" - Starring Stallone, who may direct like he did the original "Rocky". [Thanks to a commenter who alerted me about my mistakes on this one.]

"X Files 2" - I'll see this only if Duchovny and Anderson play Mulder and Scully. I'm a major X-phile.


Posted on January 28, 2006 at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

I Bet Roman Catholic University Seton Hall Wasn't Expecting This

International callers to Roman Catholic university Seton Hall were in for a surprise when they dialed the college. Two of the numbers in the phone number were accidentally transposed, and callers instead reached a sex talk line. According to the article I linked to, "the error was in online and printed applications that are sent to freshman and transfer students." The error may go back several years. Seton Hall spokesman Thomas White "says he's surprised it wasn't caught before." I wonder how many people decided to stick with the sex talk line once they made the call?

Posted on January 28, 2006 at 09:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)