"Tom, museum curator and expert in Renaissance jewelry, doesn’t think his boyfriend Peter is 'The One.' Peter is perfectly happy with Tom, but Tom is obsessed with the artist Benedetto Emilio Nesci—exciting, passionate, extraordinarily talented… and dead for over 400 years.
Tasked with researching a bejeweled codpiece, Tom abandons his professional ethics—and his sanity—to try on the codpiece and is transported halfway around the world and back in time, right into Florence, Italy and Nesci’s workroom."
Read more here.
During a visit to a migrant shelter, a German Imam refused to shake hands with this German politician, Julia Klöckner, because she's a woman.
This raises myriad sensitive and complex issues of equal rights and cultural integration, such as: "Dude, can this majestic Nordic MILF get any hotter?!", and "WTF Abdul, are you freakin' blind?"
And Lo, The Lord Spake: 'You Shall Turn Your Swords into Plowshares and your Bicycles into Sex Toys'
Ever wondered what to do with your old bicycles? The students of the Berlin Technical University have a suggestion:
Once in a while it's good to whip out Auden's cheerfully misanthropic book of aphorisms:
Forty years of romance make a woman look like a ruin and forty years of marriage make her look like a public building.
So heavy is the chain of wedlock that it needs two to carry it, and sometimes three.
The music at a wedding procession always reminds me of the music of soldiers going into battle.
Marriage is the only adventure open to the cowardly.
That sudden and ill-timed love affair may be compared to this: you take boys somewhere for a walk; the walk is jolly and interesting-and suddenly one of them gorges himself with oil paint.
From Slate, an interesting tidbit about what is often called 'slut-shaming':
New research into the science of slut-shaming has found that promiscuous women can’t get a break—even from other promiscuous women. For a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, researchers from Cornell University asked college women to read a vignette describing a hypothetical female peer, “Joan,” then rate their feelings about her personality. To one group of women, Joan was described as having two lifetime sexual partners; to another group, she’d bedded 20. The study found that women—even women who were more promiscuous themselves—rated the Joan with 20 partners as less competent, emotionally stable, warm, and dominant than the Joan who’d only boasted two.
Apparently there's an international movement to combat what's called 'slut-shaming', with so-called 'slut walks' happening all over the developed world, even in Berlin, although the website looks pretty moribund right about now.
Now, I hold mainstream views on most of these issues. Discrimination is wrong, no means no, etc. But the crusade to end 'slut-shaming' strikes me as silly for a few reasons. First, this is a quintessential first-world problem. In most parts of the world, young, sexually-promiscuous women are going to face a fate much worse than mere social disapproval. Second, this seems to be a classic case of a social movement launching a frontal assault on an immutable component of human nature.
Note that most of the disapproval of sexually-promiscuous women comes from other women. The study quoted above shows, for what it's worth, that even women who bed-hop themselves attribute negative personality characteristics to their fellow, er, sluts. I myself have heard many women engage in 'slut-shaming' almost reflexively, seemingly unaware that this behavior is supposed to be considered anti-feminist.
It's all a matter of your station in life. If you're an attractive 20-year-old college student (note how the discussion so often focuses on the 25% of women who attend college, not the 75% who don't), you may well be interested in a an argument for social change that promises to allow you to experiment sexually without repercussions.
Now add 22 years to that same woman. She now has a husband, and two kids. Let's say the husband hires a young, attractive 20-year-old female intern with a slutty reputation. Will the wife and mother -- fondly remembering her younger, wilder days -- stand up for the young woman's right to sleep around and discover her sexual identity? Of course not. She will perceive her husband's daily exposure to an attractive, sexually available young woman as a potential threat to the stability of her family, and she'll be right. If you want to hear slut-shaming at its most vitriolic, listen to a 43-year-old divorcée discuss her ex-husband's new 23-year-old girlfriend.
Disapproval of sexually-promiscuous behavior by young women is as close to a cultural universal as you're going to get. And there are reasons for this, since young, attractive, sexually promiscuous women pose a threat to monogamy. Now, this isn't so much the case if the woman limits her partners solely to unattached males her own age. But the very idea of promiscuity implies reduced selectivity and impulse control. A woman who enjoys having a variety of lovers and being desired is likely, at some point, to sleep with all sorts of men (and women), including married ones. And since discovered infidelity generally leads to a serious marital crisis in Northern Europe and the U.S., one 'slut' could theoretically endanger many unions during her career of promiscuity.
Of course, this is a glaring double standard, since sexually-promiscuous males aren't subject to the same stigma. But thousands of double standards utterly permeate our social reality, so merely acknowledging something as a double standard doesn't argue for its elimination. And besides, a young, attractive man won't pose as much danger to these settled unions, because young, attractive men are interested primarily in mating with young, attractive women who are less likely to have settled down. The cougars might be out there, but they're the exception that proves the rule, and they're not catching many cubs:
After examining the age preferences expressed in 22,400 singles ads on popular dating websites in North America, Europe, Australia and Japan, he found no sizable cohort of women seeking younger men. To the contrary, almost all of them wanted men their own age or older. Nor did he find evidence for the proliferation of cubs: the overwhelming majority of men displayed their eons-old preference for younger women. "I do believe the cougar phenomenon is a myth and, yes, a media construct," [psychology prof Michael] Dunn, who specializes in human evolutionary psychology and mating behavior, told the Australian Associated Press.
Except in a few urban enclaves or perhaps remote tribes, it will never be possible to remove the social stigma attached to female promiscuity. To ask whether this is good or bad strikes me as pointless. Is it good or bad that the sky is blue, or that deciduous trees drop their leaves each year?
If you ask me, the focus shouldn't be on a futile attempt to eliminate stigma in the Western World, but to address the dozens of societies in which a mere allegation of female promiscuity can lead to fates far darker and bloodier than social shaming.
Over the weekend, the center-left German newspaper taz published a fascinating interview (g) with Oliver Burdinski and Kurt Gehrl, two zoophiliacs. That is, men who have sex with dogs. Those are their real names. The point of the interview was to protest against a bill pending in the German Parliament which would increase penalties for bestiality. Both men are members of ZETA (g), an organization whose name roughly translates as 'Zoophiles United for Tolerance and Understanding'. The point of the interview was to remove some of the stigma and shame from their passion, and to foster understanding of the sodomite next door, so to speak. As I read the interview, I felt myself actually beginning to sympathize with their cause.
The interviewer, plainly fascinated by the opportunity to ask these men about their sex lives, goes into great detail. One of the men first realized his orientation when he became aroused by an image of a centaur from early Hercules and Xena shows and from old computer games. He then progressed to make-out sessions with dogs, and the rest was history. One of the men is actually a 'bottom' -- he lets male dogs mount him. There's plenty more fascinating detail in the interview, but I will leave it for others to discover. Let's just say that if you want to know about the details of how grown men have sex with dogs, this interview is a great place to start.
Interestingly, both of the men totally reject the thesis, put forward by a German psychologist, that zoophiles are responding to childhood experiences. They say their childhoods were just fine, it's just that as long as they can remember, they have mainly been attracted to animals. This is yet another reminder how many German psychological 'experts' are still wedded to 1960's-era notion that many adult behaviors are related to childhood experiences. I am pretty sure that zoophiles, like most homosexuals, are simply hard-wired genetically and neurologically to their preferences, and would have turned out precisely the same way no matter what sort of childhood they had. In fact, one of the men interviewed for the article says he'd be happy to be a subject of scientific inquiry.
Of course, the interviewer brings out the standard counter-arguments, to which the men have ready responses. Here's my summary:
- It's just perverse. That's what people used to say about homosexuality, consensual BDSM, single parenthood, etc. Passing laws based on generalized distaste or outdated religious notions without any proof of harm is simply legislating morality, which is foolish and unjust.
- You're cruelly exploiting the dogs. The dogs willingly engage in sexual behavior, it's hard to argue that a dog who is mounting a human has been coerced. Forcing dogs to have sex against their will or injuring them is criminal and awful animal abuse, and precisely the sort of behavior that true zoophiles abhor. In any case, the kind of dogs who are of interest to zoophiles weigh at least 70-80 pounds and up, and getting them to do anything they don't want to do is quite a tall order. Dogs like having sex as much as humans do, if not more, and don't care who they have it with.
- Isn't pedophilia next? No -- children are not sexual beings, and introducing them to sex before it's appropriate is criminal and wrong. Dogs, however, are sexual beings, as anyone who has ever owned one knows.
- How do you know they consent? Because they either initiate or tolerate lots of sexual behavior, and often visibly enjoy it. Look at our dogs: they're perfectly happy and healthy (the interviewer confirms that this seems to be so). They're objects of our love, and as such, we take excellent care of them. And how many dogs have ever consented to being spayed or neutered?
- Wouldn't the dog rather have sex with one of its own kind? After thousands of years of domestication, dogs view humans as members of the pack. Their behavior shows they don't make lots of distinctions between humans and other dogs.
I have to say, I think they make a pretty good case. I cringe in horror at the image of their sexual practices, but then again, I cringe in horror at lots of things that I don't think should be against the law, such as Bauernsülze. Why not just leave them alone?
This unsettlingly thorough 'Danish Neve Campbell Webpage' is a pretty good candidate for inclusion in the list of 23 ancient websites that are still alive. It raises more questions than it answers: Why Denmark? Why Neve Campbell? Is there a dank basement waiting in Copenhagen for Neve if she ever meets the website's founder? And most pressing of all, hvorfor er stedet ikke på dansk?
Via Pop Sensation, this codpiece-ripper:
Notice how the author's (incorrectly umlaut-free) pseudonym. Nothing says gay porn like Scandinavia!
In every bookstore you visit in Beirut, you see advice books by Steve Harvey everywhere, including Act Like a Lady, Think like a Man: What Men Really Think about Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment, and Straight Talk, No Chaser: How to Find, Keep and Understand a Man. Apparently Lebanese women are having problems understanding their men, and are, for some reason, turning to this affable American black radio talk show host to solve them. Perhaps they're finding Ayatollah Fadlallah's advice on such questions less than useful in today's modern now-a-go-go world.*
And what sort of advice are they getting from Steve Harvey? To find out, just listen to this segment from Harvey's advice series, "Strawberry Letters", in which Steve Harvey advises -- or, more to the point, mocks -- a woman who screwed her grandfather, meaning that her husband's son will be his uncle:
* So, just to forestall the angry comments, I am aware that Ayatollah Fadlallah is a Shi'a Muslim cleric, and that only 30-40% of Lebanon's population are Shi'a Muslims, and that at least a third of Lebanese are Christians. Interestingly, nobody knows for sure exactly what these percentages are, because there's been no census in Lebanon since the 1930s.