Glenn Beck and the unbearable whiteness of being

The Thinker by Rodin

Every generation brings us great leaders as well as mediocre ones. Every generation also brings us charlatans: people optimized to reinforce our prejudices and whip us up into a cyclonic frenzy. In this decade, there is quite a queue of people competing for this position, but arguably none are trying harder than Fox News commentator and telegenic crybaby Glenn Beck.

Beck’s rants and chalkboard “lessons” are a confusing muddle of selective history and bad analysis. However, they do serve the purpose of stirring up his base. Political change happens only by action, so in that sense Beck is a genius. Beck’s world is a weird, hyper-paranoid sort of world. As much as Beck rails against Nazis, in fact Beck and Adolph Hitler share much in common. Hitler may have been promoting the Aryans and Beck might be fighting for the poor and oppressed WASPs of America, but both are essentially racists. Beck would doubtless say he is not a racist, but based on his passion and vitriol he sure cares a whole lot more about white conservatives than other ethnicities. Both depend on bogeymen and straw men to peddle the false assertion that whites are being discriminated against and are blessed with some sort of enlightenment absent the rest of us mere mortals.

Jokesters like him would normally be laughed off the stage, except Beck has an exceptionally uncanny ability to connect deeply to the greatest fears of conservative white American then stoke them. He is the Father Coughlin of his generation. Beck and Coughlin are chips off the same block. Coughlin was a radio minister during the Great Depression. Beck has both a radio and television show. Coughlin’s fears were largely focused on Jews. Beck’s bogeymen are Muslims who because they are not Christian or Jews are therefore scaaaaary. In fact, his bogeymen are pretty much anyone who is not white or conservative. He just picks one of the shelf to fit the message of the day.

Nowhere is this clearer than in his abhorrence for all things Barack Obama. As much as he fears Islam, he fears his false projection of Barack Obama much more. Barack Obama is apparently every encapsulation of evil imaginable, a true Antichrist. Among Obama’s many sins is Beck’s conviction that Obama is a black racist with a deep-seated hatred of white people. Granted, there is no evidence to support this ludicrous claim. If it bore any semblance of truth, perhaps Obama would have started with his own white mother who he loved rather than abused or abandoned. His mother stood by him, nurtured him and helped him fit in the largely white world they inhabited. In fact, Obama grew up largely estranged from black culture. It was not until he finished college and moved to Chicago that he really connected to his African American side. Even today, many African Americans view him as not quite one of their own. These little details of course are lost on Beck because it does not fit his projected image of the nefarious and evil Obama that he wants to promote.

More recently, Beck counted as one of Obama’s defects the liberation theology he claims he believes in. Apparently this version of Christianity, in Beck’s (and others) minds, is wrapped around the notion that we are all oppressed and part of being a Christian is to free yourself and others from the yoke of oppression instead of just sin and the devil. At the same time that Beck rails against Obama’s brand of Christianity, he also asserts that Obama is a secret Muslim. Many others on the right (but not Beck) assert that Obama is not a native born citizen of the United States, hence an illegitimate president. At the same time (wait for it), Obama is neither a Christian nor a Muslim, but a secret secular atheist, as attested by the fact that he is not become a settled member of a congregation since he became president. Barack Obama: the amazing polymorphic president! It’s obviously past time to find a stake and a bulb of garlic. One cannot be too careful with these Antichrists.

At most only one of these can be true but of course, facts hardly matter. As Hitler and many before and after him have learned, what is true is irrelevant; what matters is what you can get people to believe. If you repeat a lie often enough and convincingly enough a certain number of us sheep apparently accept it as fact. The dishonest formula never changes: pick selective facts, distort other facts, openly lie about many other things and (most importantly) stoke what makes us anxious.

Plenty of us are anxious these days, just as our parents or grandparents were during the great uncertainty of the Great Depression. When you feel uncertain, you are much more likely to believe the implausible or the downright ludicrous. You need something tangible that you can grasp onto to make sense of the suffering and chaos, rather than the intangible reality where cause and effect are often murky. Beck has proven to be a master of feeding our fears and vanities. In his mind, white America is and has always been gifted, glorious, entrepreneurial, deeply Christian and intimately involved in a sacred quest for righteousness directed by God himself. Our actual history of course is replete with voluminous episodes to the contrary, such as our enslavement of African Americans (and others), subjugation of women, forced extraditions and massacres of Native Americans and, more recently, illegal and immoral wars in the deserts of the Middle East. I am not suggesting that the history of White America is entirely bad, just that we, like every other ethnic and racial group out there, have a checkered past. It is dishonest to pretend otherwise, but truth is apparently irrelevant when it does not suit a particular political end. The masses must be fooled into thinking they are nobler than they are.

What I find personally most grating about Beck (and the same is true with Sarah Palin and the many, many others generally lumped under the “Tea Party” umbrella) is he emulates the whiny, victimized people he is supposed to loath. Goodness, they are so oppressed; it’s amazing they can even get out of bed in the morning given the onerous taxes they are paying, even though federal taxes are the lowest in generations. They are innocent victims of sinister forces flagrantly out to oppress them at the enrichment of everyone else. These are the same sorts of ridiculous persecution arguments that Hitler made. What malarkey! We should naturally recoil against them.

In fact, large numbers of White Americans are suffering, particularly in largely white areas of America like the Appalachians. This is because of many factors, but principally is due to the Great Recession, which itself was primarily caused by the overleveraged society Republicans fostered in the 2000s. Whites have been hard hit in many areas, but in most cases were not as severely hit as other ethnic minorities. Whites as a class will probably never have to deal with the high unemployment rates of blacks, or teenagers in general. For those who fell off the economic cliff, it hurts badly, regardless of your ethnicity. However, despite the paranoid rants of people like Beck, no one is out to get whites in particular, which means Beck and those like him are either charlatans or delusional. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

The bad economy falls into the vague category of “shit happens”.  Much of it was probably preventable. We could have lived more prudently over the last few decades. We could have balanced our budgets. We could have not rushed into wars of choice. Nevertheless, even if we had done all those things, there are still larger forces at work, such as the rise of China as an economic power, that would still have impacted our economy, perhaps even triggering our current recession. Suggesting that these problems are because Obama is a secret Muslim, a black racist, or is deliberately targeting whites for economic discrimination shows their incredibly shallow thinking. It also perpetuates a culture of victimhood, which, call me crazy, I thought conservatives were against. I thought conservatives were all about accepting your licks and standing on your own two feet. I thought more so than Democrats, conservatives realized that life was unfair so just get over it.

That’s the image, of course, but the reality is now the opposite. Beck is the poster child for white victimization, a role he is glad to accept as it makes him independently wealthy. So where does one look today for real manhood? Where do you find the attributes of great men: graciousness, civility, and someone who does not thrive on a culture of victimization and whine about the unfairness of life, but pragmatically deals with the mess life has thrown at him? There are millions of us out there, but for Beck, he could look at Barack Obama as he actually is. It is no wonder that Beck, Palin and so many others loathe the man. He is demonstrating the way they should behave if they had real character, if they had not grown up spoiled and whiny. Obama is the grown up. They (and Beck in particular) are playing the role of the whiny brats on the playground. It should be embarrassing to anyone to see this behavior in people who are adults.

Obama understands what Beck fails to grasp: you don’t deal with reality effectively through a policy of extreme adherence to orthodoxy. Heck, we just got over the ultimate test case with George W. Bush’s eight years of national folly. If you find yourself surrounded by shit, which was exactly where Barack Obama was on January 20, 2009, you grab a shovel and start shoveling. That has been what Obama has been doing since his first day in office. He is not naïve enough to think that he will make every decision correctly, but he is smart enough to realize that blind orthodoxy cannot change reality. Instead, you first accept reality in all its messiness and ugliness and find realistic ways to deal with it.

Beck, basically you are a whiny brat. It’s no wonder that you loathe Barack Obama so much, because real manhood scares the shit out of you. Obama demonstrates true manhood every day: you deal pragmatically with what is before you with civility and grace.

Beck, be a real man. I dare you. I double dare you.

We have to go, and go, and go

The Thinker by Rodin

Friend, do you suffer from BPH? If you are female, I can definitely say no. For you have to be born male to get BPH. Men generally discover by the time they are forty or so one inconvenient truths about middle age men, specifically they cannot get through the night without shuffling a couple times to the bathroom to go Number One. If this sounds like you, congratulations, you are a normal middle-aged male. You also have Benign Prostatic Hypersplasia. With a name like that, you can see why urologists prefer to say you have BPH.

If you have BPH, your prostate is swelling to an inconvenient size. This is good news in a way because it means you are still producing testosterone. It also probably means you do not need to reach for Viagra in order to be intimate with someone. Your prostate is swelling because testosterone is causing your prostate to create something very similar, DHT or Dihydrotestosterone. Your prostate has been producing DHT since puberty, but over time, it has the side effect of making your prostate swell. Your prostate is a gland that provides most of the fluid when you ejaculate. Your prostate is also inconveniently located just below your kidneys. When it swells, it tends to constrict the urethra, making it harder to go and also harder to fully empty your bladder. So your bladder rarely fully empties, which means you tend to go more often and when you go it can take a while. This condition can also contribute to urinary tract infections.

I, like most men my age, feel part zombie because my bladder inconveniently wakes me up throughout the night. On a good night, I will only shuffle to the bathroom once. On a bad night, it can be up four or five times. I must have developed BPH at an early age because this has been a problem of mine for at least twenty years, and I am 52. It generally arrives in men by age forty, although it may develop so gradually that it seems normal, which in fact it is.

The good news is that if you suffer from BPH you probably do not have prostate cancer. That’s why it’s called benign. If you are a smart man, you will have regular physicals. Your doctor will place his fingers into your colon and feel your prostate. It can be enlarged, and if it feels smooth like a balloon that is good. If when he presses on it he detects nothing hard, it suggests there is no cancer. That won’t solve your frequent urination problem, however.

I learned all these things this week because my employer invited a urologist over to talk to us about BPH. She came with all sorts of very clinical illustrations and actual pictures taken at Reston Hospital by special cameras that slide up your urethra. The lecture was actually interesting. Just as interesting as the lecture was listening to my fellow middle-aged men in my room. It is nice to know I do not suffer alone. This is not the sort of thing guys tend to share with other guys, or even their significant others. I am sharing it here in part to spread enlightenment.

Moreover, at least the men who attended the lecture are not morons. Many men avoid physicals simply because they want to avoid the prostate examinations, which can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Sensible men, like those of us at the lecture, realize we have a condition. We also know that prostate cancer affects most men in life, although many die unaware that they have it, as in most cases the cancer grows very slowly. We do not consider ignorance in this area a virtue.

These same men thirty years earlier might have been bragging about their bedroom conquests. Now we come with bags under our chins and eyes and receding hairlines (well, not me, at least not yet). It was remarkable how straightforward and clinical we could be in a group setting when given the opportunity to question a urologist at length. Will surgery cause impotence? Will drugs to treat it cause impotence? Can BPH be cured? Do some men not get BPH? (Answer: yes, those who die young and who stop producing testosterone at an early age.) Our main concerns were “Are we likely to get prostate cancer?” and “Will we ever be able to sleep through the night again?”

On the latter question, there is hope. There are drugs to treat BPH of a class called Alpha-blockers. They relax the smooth muscle of the prostate and widen the urethra channel. (Flomax is probably the best known, but ask about Hytrin or Cardura because they are available as generics.) However, they might cause ejaculatory dysfunction. Another class of drugs, the 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors will also shrink the prostate, but not very much, and can cause a diminished sex drive if not outright impotence. For many men, fear of the latter makes us think that getting a good night’s sleep is highly overrated. (On the other hand, our wives may secretly be relieved.)

There are also surgical alternatives, including a microwave procedure and vaporization of part of the prostate with a laser (Greenlight Laser). Some of these can be done on an outpatient basis.

You may also want to embrace a prostate-healthy diet. Unsurprisingly, it is probably not a diet you will like, as it emphasizes lower amounts fats and eating soy. The diet will probably do nothing for your BPH, but it does reduce the risk of acquiring prostate cancer, which for men is something akin to breast cancer in women: to be dreaded and prevented if possible.

If you have BPH, and most men of a certain age do (but may not be aware of it), it’s good news in a way. It means that you are a survivor. A few generations ago, you were likely dead from something else by the time it became a problem. Today, you likely have a few decades of life ahead of you. You just have to decide whether to treat it or not. The condition can become so chronic that you end can up in an emergency room because you are unable to void your bladder. You probably do not want to reach that stage, so at some point you will want to have a deeper conversation with your doctor about BPH and perhaps see a urologist for a better diagnosis. You should also want your doctor to regularly give you a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test. If you are developing prostate cancer, it will probably detect it, plus it can be used to help determine the severity of your BPH.

I know I will be talking with my doctor about drugs for BPH during my next physical. I hope that any side effects will be mild on me. I know I sure would relish a night of uninterrupted sleep again.

The Price of Being Male

The Thinker by Rodin

The price of being a male is 5.4 years of life. At least that’s the bottom line for males born in 2001 according to InfoPlease. If the projections are correct then the average male born in 2001 will live to be 74.4. The average woman will live to 79.8. For men close to my age born in 1960 (I was actually born in 1957) we can expect to live 66.6 years vs. 73.1 years for women. So the price for me for being born male is about 6.5 years.

It’s unfair! It’s sex discrimination! In my case had I been born a woman I could look forward to a life that is nearly ten percent longer. Instead because I have male genitalia if I want to even the score with the other gender I need to lead an accelerated life. Perhaps that explains why men tend to be more assertive than women. With our candle burning quicker we have to make the most of our limited light.

Or perhaps there is more to this issue than simply chromosomes. That’s my belief. I think men die earlier for lots of reasons, and I doubt having XY pairs of genes is one of them. I think men die younger because we are conditioned to die young.

For example a woman finds an unusual spot on her skin. Most likely the first thing she will do is call the doctor and get it checked out. What will the typical male do? My bet is he will not notice it at all until it is the size of a dime. If they do see it they will probably ignore it. “It will probably go away,” is what passes for thinking for many of us males. And it often works. But sometimes the spot is a melanoma. Had we gotten it checked out right away it might have been safely removed. But since we didn’t and it’s a dangerous form of cancer we are dead within a year. For similar specious reasons we are likely to avoid physicals, prostate exams, visits to the dentist and psychologists.

It’s things like this that I believe skew the favorable mortality statistics toward women. Men are conditioned to minimize life’s trials and tribulations. Mostly we shrug them off. But what we really do is internalize them. In extreme cases the Mister Rogers among us go postal. Or turn into Jeffrey Dahmers. Let’s face it when it comes to causing sick crimes men have women beat at least ten to one. For many men sports is a good way to let off a little steam. But these days this doesn’t mean that we are actually out there playing basketball. Instead we are parked in front of the TV watching basketball while eating Cheese Its and guzzling beer. Or if we consider our tastes more refined then perhaps we are watching tennis while enjoying Brie on crackers and wine.

Life comes with different expectations when you are male. For a woman it’s okay to go home and take care of a sick child. If you are a man your boss often gives you a jaundiced look. What’s the matter with you? Don’t you know your work is important? Don’t you know your job is your life? The message for men is that the business world is more important than your family because after all you are a breadwinner, dammit. If you are running home to take care of Timmy’s earache you may join your wife in finding there is a glass ceiling in your future. Or you may be out of a job.

Men in fact often lack common sense. I plead guilty to this myself. I can’t count the number of times I’ve dragged my sorry and sick ass into work, coughing and sneezing and likely infecting half the floor because I convinced myself (as my wife tells me) that I am not really sick. For you see for us men sickness is a sign of weakness. We can’t be sick, even if we really are sick. When the ambulance carts us off to the hospital then we know it’s time to call the boss to tell him we won’t be in. When the hearse carts us off to the cemetery then we know we are dead. Oh wait, we won’t know that either. We’ll be too busy convincing ourselves that we are not really dead that we’ll never even know we are dead.

I think that we men die early in part because we become experts at denying and repressing our feelings. While I’m sure it’s no bed of roses for women either, men think that survival means rigorous oppression of your true personality. You must project an image because you don’t want to be seen as a wimp or effeminate. God forbid that people should see you as a Jimmy Carter. If you have to be religious then you better darn well be righteous.

In fact we men love to be righteous. It’s one of our primary skills. It’s a neat way to let off some psychic steam. In general the more we oppress ourselves the more righteous we are. While there are certainly fine examples of righteous women out there, they are relatively few and far between. Righteousness is about projecting influence and strutting your certainty. When you are righteous you are a human peacock. I love being righteous. I enjoy few things more than writing blog entries castigating my fellow males on the other side of the political spectrum. Just step across my line in the sand, big boy! I’ll sling some choice metaphors your way. Writing entries like this is a lot harder. It forces me to be circumspect. Humble even.

Here are some our most common male nightmares. Being Jimmy Carter is not half of it. What really scares us? What really makes us break out in cold sweats? Being downsized. Forced to go from a position of power to being a peon. Going from banker to pushing a broom – most of us would prefer suicide rather than suffer this fate. Living in your brother’s basement.

Some lesser sins include not following the male stereotype. Crying? Not good, unless your team lost the Superbowl, and maybe at your mother’s (but not your father’s) funeral. Hugging is okay, providing it is largely limited to the other gender. Generally guys aren’t supposed to hug other guys. But if you do it should for a special occasion like your team won at the bottom of the ninth being two runs down. Hugging Dad on his birthday is okay, but do it quick and don’t linger for more than a fraction of a second. If you do you might be exposing an effeminate feeling. And that means you are potentially vulnerable.

Perhaps worse than showing unauthorized feelings is to actually disclose unauthorized feelings out loud to another guy. Here are some feelings you should never disclose to another guy, unless maybe he is in your support group. Never discuss how depressed you feel. Never disclose that you are in hock up to your eyeballs. Never disclose that you are impotent. Never disclose that you haven’t gotten any in years. Never disclose that you prefer fat women to skinny ones. Never disclose that you have a tender side. Don’t tell another man how beautiful a bouquet of flowers look. However it is okay to say how majestic a mountain range looks. Go figure.

Of course we know in our heart that this stuff is bullshit. But the price of not conforming is perceived to be so steep that we have to go along. We cannot afford to be ostracized by our own sex because we could lose power and influence. And so we project appearances but bottle in life’s other honest feelings. Much of the time even we aren’t aware of how we truly feel. Every time we find a socially unacceptable connection between our true feelings and our behavior we have to quickly find that connection and snip it.

Thank god for women. Thank god for our wives. For most of us men, our wives are our best friends. They may not totally understand us. But if there is one person on the planet with whom we can be ourselves it is our spouse. Secretly we admire our wives and girlfriends. We smile when they are doing girl talk with a friend on the phone. We think it is cool how they weave intimacy into their lives. We are often tickled pink to have a meaningful level of intimacy with a woman. But sometimes we blow it. Sometimes we cannot even be a teeny bit vulnerable even with the opposite sex. In many cases we express this anger in physical, sexual or emotional abuse of the women we claim to love.

I can’t speak for all heterosexual men but I will come out and admit that the men I admire most are usually gay. I cannot be gay because at best I am a 0.5 on the Kinsey scale. But gay men intrigue me because the ones I notice are usually breathtakingly alive. They overflow with honest feelings in all directions. They seem not afraid to be themselves. Heck, I don’t just admire gay men. In some way I envy them, even though I know the cruel discrimination inflicted on them by us so called “normal” people like me add a lot of pointless misery to their lives.

Men are ever vigilant. We are on our guard, waiting, ready and prepared. We are not sure why we are so vigilant but boy we sure are prepared, though we can’t necessarily explain why we need to be prepared. But no matter because we are impregnable. We are not human beings. Human beings are allowed to laugh silly. Human beings can cry. Human beings make mistakes. No we are not human beings. We are beyond feelings. We are men. Many of us cannot even be authentic to ourselves. On the inside we can be a mass of conflicting feelings and emotions. But on the outside we must be calm yet aggressive and powerful. Ideally we have a row of hot looking women swooning behind us.

And so it goes until of course the façade no longer works. And then like salmon after spawning season we croak, usually pretty suddenly. Of ulcers. Of alcoholism. Of obesity. Of cancer. But perhaps we really die from righteousness, crotchetiness and from living half a life when we could have lead an authentic life. It is our façade that usually kills us. We leave behind the women we love who perhaps on some level are also relieved. For while they loved us they also knew a part of us was false. And perhaps they are not sad to see that part die.

Dear Amy: Here’s a Lesson in Men

The Thinker by Rodin

In my last entry I suggested that there was nothing else I could contribute to the topic of pornography. But I was wrong. Well, actually I’m right. Advice columnists though have it all wrong. They just don’t get pornography and men and never will. Perhaps it’s because most of them are women. Anyhow, today’s Ask Amy shows once again that if this attitude represents typical American women-think, American women are seriously out of touch:

Dear Amy:

You ran a letter recently from “Broken Wife,” who found porn sites on her husband’s computer’s tool bar.

Before this woman and her husband head off to marriage counseling for his supposed actions, might I suggest that they have their computer scanned for spyware and viruses? Awhile back my husband, bless his heart, came to me because he was getting strange e-mail and his Yahoo Messenger had weird names on it. We found out that our computer had been hijacked and that all sorts of porn and other rather obnoxious stuff was being saved to our hard drive. His e-mail was flooded with messages, and his messenger had “buddies” he never approved.

I’m not saying that this man is or is not having a virtual affair, but given the propensity of Internet hackers, I’d say give this man the benefit of the doubt before condemning him.

Virtually Been There

I appreciate the possibility that a hacker might have infiltrated a computer’s hard drive, but there is a world of difference between a husband who comes to his wife with evidence of hacking and a wife catching her husband with evidence of porn.

Sometimes the computer needs a virus scan.

Sometimes the computer’s owner needs a virus scan.

Attention women: men are hardwired to enjoy pornography. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are rushing down to the 7-Eleven to buy the latest Hustler on the first of the month. That doesn’t mean they prefer the airbrushed women in magazines and dirty DVDs to you. It just means the same way cats instinctively love catnip, men enjoy pornography.

Yes, a husband in a committed relationship who spends his time trying to pick up women on Craigslist instead of working through his bedroom issues with his wife has big problems. He and his wife should probably be seeing a marriage counselor to work through some issues. But a guy who occasionally watches pornographic videos, spends some time in the bathroom in private with a Maxim, or who download pornographic pictures or movie clips off the Internet is a normal man with a normal sex drive.

Here’s the thing, ladies: men are not women. No doubt you have heard it before but clueless women dispensing dubious advice like Amy Dickenson need a reality check. With men our libido is always on. Sometimes it’s like a Christmas light and hardly there at all. At other times it’s a 500-megawatt behemoth. But anyhow, it’s always on. We’re not like women who often need thirty minutes of foreplay to get in the mood. Stop projecting your values on men! When you do so you just make yourself look stupid and foolish.

Women, if your husbands are looking at smut on the Internet, maybe it’s time to have a civilized discussion with your husband on the topic. It’s okay to tell your husband that you don’t like pornography and you don’t want to see it but it’s not okay to demand that he get rid of it unilaterally just to spare your feelings. Most of us men pick up your attitude from the ether. That’s why we don’t usually download it when you are around. When we do this it is not because we are ashamed of seeing Internet porn, it is because we respect you as a human being and are sensitive to your feelings. If it strikes you as “sneaking around” that’s your problem. Don’t give your husband an unnecessary guilt trip. Just relax. Most likely if you extend trust to your husband then he is not out trolling for whores and bimbos. He may be getting off on occasion when his testosterone levels are high but yours aren’t. But if his worst sin is he is he is using his right hand — well, you can’t get safer sex than that.

Yep, I’ve got porn on my computer. It’s there if I want it. I don’t save it on my desktop. It’s not conspicuous and I have it reasonably secure in the unlikely event that minors want to troll my PC looking for stuff. I realize it may not be your cup of tea, but it is mine, at least on those times when I want to look at the stuff. It’s not an obsession. I wouldn’t even characterize it as a hobby. It comes way behind lots of other stuff including chores, blogging here and my responsibilities as a parent and a spouse. It’s there if that’s how I choose to spend my leisure.

Ladies, when you take out that little silver beeper and press it to that delicate spot, dream of that delicious ex-lover you had or that hunky lover you wistfully might want to have, do you feel guilty that you are denying your husband something? If you do perhaps you need some counseling, but there is nothing inherently wrong with you self-pleasuring yourself from time to time. And since most men (I suspect) have a higher sex drive than their wives, stop the worrying if your man gets off by himself now and then without you. He doesn’t need the guilt and you don’t need it either. When a man is making love to you that’s all the proof you need that you are still sexy. Erections don’t happen unless a man is turned on. Every erection is obvious proof that you are desirable to him.

Now it just so happens that my wife is into homoerotic fan fiction, or Slash. Slash is full of sex. Take away the sex and I suspect it just becomes trashy romance. Here’s the thing: I don’t get Slash at all. I often wish I did because perhaps it would ripple over to our sex life. But I don’t. I’ve tried. I’ve really tried. But I’ll never get it, just like women don’t get men’s interest in pornography, I don’t get Slash. And if you are the type that reads romance novels, your husband probably doesn’t get your interest in them either. For a while I was concerned. But now I’m okay with it. My wife can read and write as much of this Slash stuff as she has the leisure to enjoy. And I happen to know she collects not just written homoerotic fan fiction but has some explicit videos (likely with Slash related themes) somewhere on her hard drive. I am sure she watches it on occasion. But since she knows it doesn’t trip my trigger she watches it when she has time and privacy. And that’s cool! It means she’s a sexual human being instead of a Stepford wife. It also means she respects my feelings and isn’t trampling on them. I could I suppose snoop around her hard drive and find the stuff. I could even give her a hard time about it and suggest that Slash is destroying our marriage. But I don’t. I keep things in perspective. And it doesn’t offend me. I don’t understand it, but it doesn’t offend me. It doesn’t give me any anxiety. It doesn’t mean I am worried that our marriage is in jeopardy and she’s about to run off with a lesbian girlfriend. It means I am okay with her having personal sexual space and she is okay with me having personal sexual space. It’s all okay! Marriage does not mean tearing down every wall of intimacy. It means leaving a few to ourselves so we can remain unique people.

Of course you are unlikely to measure up to the lurid pictures of airbrushed women in Penthouse. And likely your breasts will never be as perfect as a porno star’s. (After all you had the good sense not to get implants.) Pornography is about fantasy. Men understand that. Those of us who have been around the block understand that women are not sex objects, but complex people. Relax. Take a Valium if you need to. Find more important things to fret over. As long as your husband isn’t spending hours every night downloading porn instead of spending time with you there is nothing to worry about. Respect him by giving him a little space. Make sure you get a little space too. Most likely you will both be happier.