Category Archives: Bedroom

I had a dream last night – bear with me, this is not just a post about my “weird dream” – that I was out somewhere and there were these cute baby goats. I kept trying to take a picture of the baby goats with my phone but the camera on my phone just wouldn’t work. I never got a picture of the goats and, in fact, even said to myself “There are no goats. This is a dream.” right before I woke up.

But the goats aren’t the important part. The camera is. As it happens, I’ve been having some difficulty with my camera phone lately. So the problems in the dream were not usual or off-the-wall. But I’ve had this dream before. This is the first time it has involved goats, but my inability to take a picture has become a recurring thing.

I wonder if anyone else has had that happen in a dream. Or more than one. And if so, what that might be tapping into.

Collective dreams are not that uncommon. A lot of people have dreams of losing their teeth, showing up naked, or that class that you’ve never studied for and there is a test. That last one is of particular interest because it is the most situation or society specific. Losing teeth is one of the oldest problems in the history of problems. Being naked goes back to whenever we first started wearing clothes. But school? As a universal thing? In the greater scheme of things, that’s pretty recent. Yet our collective subconscious has adapted it into an exemplar of unpreparadness.

These social dreams are interesting because they don’t appear to be something we get from one another. It’s not that we hear about someone having a dream about X and our subconscious says “Ohhhh, that’s a good way to rag myself over lack of preparedness.” A lot of us have these dreams for really long times before realizing that other people are dreaming them.

Do any of you have dreams involving cameras or other modern inventions malfunctioning?

Category: Bedroom

Sorry, infidelity will never be normal or harmless | New York Post

In the last week, Vice, New York magazine and, for some reason, Bride magazine have all opened up on open relationships. There was the piece in The Post titled “It’s time to rethink cheating in marriage.” Barcroft TV in April brought us “POLY TRIAD: I’M DIVORCING MY HUSBAND SO WE CAN MARRY OUR GIRLFRIEND.” And The New York Times Magazine had an extended exploration of the subject called “Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?”

Not to ruin the ending, but no one who read that article came away thinking the answer was yes.

The Times piece focused mostly on a couple named Elizabeth and Daniel. He asked her to open their marriage; she said no. Years later, she became attracted to another man and decided she was into the open marriage thing after all. Without discussing it with Daniel, Elizabeth started a full-on affair. When Daniel expressed pain over the arrangement, she refused to end it.

Sounds amazing. Why aren’t more people into this?

I’m trying not to feel a sense of smug superiority regarding Daniel’s fate here. But it’s just too perfect.

There has been something kind of weird going on with this lately. A lot more writing lately on unboxing marriage. A natural consequence of winning the SSM is that liberals don’t need to pretend to value marriage like conservatives Except One Thing? Or is this mostly Fake Trend Stuff?

I’m not sure it matters that much. These ideas aren’t really new and they have failed to gain traction in the past for reasons. I’m mostly surprised they haven’t managed to tie it in to SSM more than they have (“What straight couples can learn from openly married gay couples!”

Category: Bedroom

Nice guys like to think they’re peculiarly disadvantaged when it comes to love, sex, and dating. And they’re none too fond of the competition, either. But Nice guys aren’t as nice as they think.

I used to think I was a nice guy. I was wrong. I used to think my only shortcoming was social awkwardness. I was wrong again.

My first mistake was not realizing how off-putting “mere” social awkwardness can be. The evidence was right before me. I knew people even more socially awkward than me, and I didn’t like to be around them. If they were socially awkward enough, I might talk about them behind their back, or make fun of them, or not hang out with them. Awkwardness is unfair and difficult to shed. As the song says, “nobody wants to know you now and nobody wants to show you how.” But I was just as guilty of acting against others’ awkwardness as my dating interests were to mine. Why should I have expected more of them than I did of myself?

My second mistake was not realizing I had greater problems than social awkwardness. To be sure, I said and claimed to believe (and probably on some level did believe) all the right things. I believed it’s wrong to objectify women, that gender discrimination is real, that sexual harassment happens, and that in most environments women disproportionately fear for their safety more than men do. All of that, I said/claimed to believe/(probably believed) ought to enter into the equation when it comes to such things as love, sex, and dating.

But in practice I objectified women without realizing–or more honestly, without admitting to myself–that I was doing it. More important, I also had and have anger issues and control issues. I won’t go into them here. My point is that those qualities were potentially creepy and definitely not “nice.” On the one hand, they can be chalked off to youth and inexperience. But on the other hand I had work to do and as long as I believed I was a nice guy that wasn’t going to happen.

At the same time that the work wasn’t happening because I still thought I was a nice guy, one convenient foil for my frustrations was the “bro dude,” although I’m not sure I’ve ever used that exact term and probably didn’t even encountered it until about a year ago. The bro dude is a jerk. He’s crass, rude, and a bit of a slob….but women love him. He comes out ahead but doesn’t deserve it while the nice guy finishes last.

But just as I was mistaken about myself, I was mistaken about “bro dudes,” too.

My definition of “bro dude” was too broad. Pretty much anyone I didn’t like and who had a girlfriend qualified. And “anyone I didn’t like” often meant “anyone I perceived as competition.”

Bro dudes weren’t as boorish as I believed them to be. They evidently had something to offer the women who dated them. While women, like all people, sometimes make poor relationship choices, it’s wrong to assume women aren’t capable of living their own lives and making their own choices. That assumption is inherent in anti-bro-dude’ism.

And boorishness isn’t all bad. Maybe some of the behaviors I called boorish were just ways to be oneself and maybe some ways of me being myself seem boorish to others. What’s more: Some behaviors I used to think were boorish were probably just the guy being willing to be honest with his emotions.

As an aside but not really an aside, boorishness–and being a “bro dude”–is often mistaken for stupidity. The “they’re stupid” trope by itself is best kept at a distance. Nice guys love to imagine themselves as smart, but delicate flowers that need and deserve special treatment because of their alleged intelligence. They rarely stop to admit they may not be as smart, talented, or sensitive as they think they are. They even more rarely stop to think about the implications behind giving more intelligent people special treatment. There’s an important sense in which “smart people should be given more respect (because they’re smart)” is equivalent to “strong people should be given more respect (because they’re strong).”

I guess my moral is “if you feel you’re being especially oppressed because of how good you are, maybe you’re not either oppressed or good.” “Bro dudes” aren’t to blame. They might not even really be “bro dudes.”

Now, my parting caveats and CYA concessions. I’ve overgeneralized. I admit it.

Yes, there probably really are guys who have a lot to offer and aren’t as appreciated as they should be. There are definitely guys who are too controlling of their partners, and some are even more than just “too controlling.” More likely, most men fall between those extremes, having something to offer but also having a full range of weaknesses and faults.

And yes, I still believe it’s wrong to objectify women, that gender discrimination is real, that sexual harassment happens, and that in most environments women disproportionately fear for their safety more than men do. And I still believe all of that needs to be taken into account when it comes to love, sex, and dating.

And yes, I’m a straight, white, cisgender, upper-middle class, American….you get the picture.

Finally, I don’t want to deny anyone’s feelings of loneliness or awkwardness. It’s legitimate to feel sad or distressed or frustrated. I think it’s also understandable that such feelings sometimes translate into categorical bitterness against entire groups of people. And while we must draw a line between acceptable and unacceptable ways of expressing those feelings, it is usually be a good thing to withhold judgment and listen first.

Category: Bedroom

I’ve seen a few people pass around this link, on the efficacy (or lack thereof) of abstinence pledges:

The results were even more striking for out-of-wedlock pregnancy: About 18 percent of the girls who had never taken virginity pledges became pregnant within six years after they began having sex. Meanwhile, 30 percent of those who had taken a pledge—and broken it—got pregnant while not married.

Paik explains this in part through the phenomenon of “cultural lag” —the idea that people might reject certain values faster than they update the actions supporting those values. In this case, the pledge breakers abandoned the idea that they should be virgins until marriage, but unlike people who never made the pledges, they didn’t use birth control and condoms, Paik theorized. (Many sex-ed programs and cultures that promote abstinence only until marriage also teach that contraceptives are ineffective.)

“Our research indicates that abstinence pledging can have unintended negative consequences by increasing the likelihood of HPV and non-marital pregnancies, the majority of which are unintended,” Paik said in a statement. “Abstinence-only sex education policy is widespread at the state and local levels and may return at the federal level, and this policy approach may be contributing to the decreased sexual and reproductive health of girls and young women.”

Boom! Science! Proof! Abstinence pledges are reckless!!!!!!

Okay, that’s not quite a fair interpretation of the responses. Because it’s said more in sorrow than excitement, as often as not. And The Atlantic article actually says later that all pledges are not bad. But still. Science! Data!

Except that this is not especially useful data in the broader debate. If you’re looking at the efficacy of abstinence pledgers, you can look at it all number of ways and control for all number of things. You could, for instance, control based on race and socio-economic status. You could try to control for religiosity. Or you could control for nothing at all and let the data chips fall where they may. This study didn’t control for any of those things, and to the extent that they did let the chips fall where they may, the only result mentioned in the article was that the pledges made no difference in HPV rates.

What they controlled for was the number of sexual partners. Which is to say “Assuming that the the pledge had no effect on the number of sexual partners a girl has, then what are the results?” Except that affecting the sexual activity of pledgers is the point of the pledge. This is literally a case of counting the misses and ignoring the hits. Maybe it’s effective on that score, maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s effective enough to overcome poor condom usage and such, or maybe it’s not. But looking at the data this particular way is almost designed to result in this particular outcome. Even most boosters of abstinence-only education are likely to concede the point. Even if we assume it’s just apolitical “Just the science, ma’am” this is asking to be misinterpreted by journalists, but judging from the press release they knew full well what they were doing.

Now, hidden behind the paywall, there may well be data to support the conclusion that abstinence-only education is bad. According to The Atlantic there isn’t any difference in HPV rates, but maybe there is for pregnancy. The press release hammers home the statistics that only include the pledge-breakers and control for number of partners. This is where it is helpful to have some ideological diversity in the area of social sciences. If, that is, they are interested in getting down to the guts of the issue.

And even granting all that, I still believe that the lead scientists got his conclusion somewhat wrong. Unsurprisingly, he focused on the political by making it mostly about sex-ed and a little bit about culture:

Using data drawn from more than 3,000 teenage girls originally interviewed in 1994-95 who are now adults and part of the ongoing National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, the researchers found that because virginity “pledgers” are more likely to receive cultural messages downplaying the effectiveness of condoms and contraceptives and be exposed to the framing of premarital sexual activity as a form of failure, girls and young women who take abstinence pledges but later break them may be less prepared to manage the risks associated with sexual activity by obtaining condoms and contraceptives themselves, or less apt to initiate conversations about precautions with their partners.

I come from Pledgeville, where such pledges were common. I have known a number of young women (and men) who have struggled with this issue. There is some doubt about the efficacy of condoms and the like, but that’s not really the issue. It’s not a matter of policy nearly as much as it is a matter of religious psychology. Again, something where it might be helpful to have someone on the team for whom this is less alien.

The psychology, as I’ve seen it, basically works like this: Sex before marriage is wrong. It is a sin. Now, lots of things are a sin and we all sin. Most Christians do keep this in perspective. Everyone makes mistakes. However, there is a difference between spontaneous sin and premeditated sin. It’s one thing to have a moment of weakness where you give in to the flesh. it’s spontaneous. You were weak. Maybe you are weak whenever you are around a particular guy or gal. Not good. Beg for forgiveness. Onward and upward. However, if you are on the pill or are taking a condom with you, that’s a different ballgame. That’s premeditation. If this sounds weird to you, imagine it from a parent’s perspective. Imagine a child that broke the rules on a lark, and one that had planned meticulously to break the rules. Would your response be the same? Mine wouldn’t.

It’s really something that people struggle with. I mean, sure, some are just pious hypocrites, but for better or worse some struggle. So when I look at the statistics of 6-10 partners, and I look at the pledgers who break the pledge that many times with that many people, and I suspect that there is a lot going on in their minds. You may be dealing with some serious self-loathing problems. You may be dealing with someone who is in open (and reckless) rebellion. You are far less likely to be dealing with someone calmly and meticulously doing a risk assessment on how to avoid getting pregnant or an HPV.

Now, you can look at these individuals and say “Wow, pledges suck” and further this study demonstrates how much pledges suck for these people. I am inclined to agree. And so in that sense, I do agree with the conclusions of the studies. Pledges can cause problems. Heck, I even agree with them about abstinence-only education! Lain will have comprehensive education at home. We’re not sure how comprehensive, but I am an advocate for more comprehensiveness than even my wife is. Which makes me wonder why I am nitpicking here. But academically this study kind of sucks, at least as presented. The distinctions it elides seem more important than the (intuitive to the point of being obvious, to me anyway) results of the study. What is happening and why it’s happening seem important.

A Sea of Pins & Feathers

A Sea of Pins & Feathers II

Category: Bedroom

I love dreaming. I mean, the real thing of dreaming at night when I’m asleep. When I was younger, I was always a very vivid dreamer. It’s like having the imagination unleashed. Though I have the loose tooth and missing class dreams that everyone does, it has in the past given me characters and scenes for stories. The mind tries to subdue dreams after you wake up, but some I can remember scenes for years afterwards.

I still dream sometimes, but not nearly as much. I have mostly attributed this to getting older, but I’m wondering if there isn’t something else at play.

When I was younger, I used to go to sleep listening to music. That was kind of a big deal for me because I’d spend time selecting precisely what music to go to sleep with. The wrong choice would energize me and make it more difficult to go to sleep. Or, in the case of Chris Isaak’s fantastic-but-depressing CD “Forever Blue”, would leave me in a depressed funk if I listened to it on too many consecutive nights.

Getting married meant listening to no more music when I go to sleep. She tends to be very sound sensitive when she sleeps (while I tend to be very light-sensitive). It’s a small price to pay for being married and all that.

Clancy has been working a lot lately, though, and sometimes not coming home at night. Which means, hey, I can listen to music! So I decided to do so, and two nights straight it has produced very vivid dreams.

It has also, alas, not produced good sleep. I typically get by on between 6-7 hours of sleep a night (though will usually have one “catch-up” night a week). The days after, though, I have been especially draggy. This makes sense intuitively, though there is some research suggesting music can help with sleep. That could apply mostly to instrumental music, though?

Category: Bedroom

Dr Phi wonders how the following three things can be true:

* The number (indeed, the mere existence) of prior sexual partners strongly predicts marital failure;

* Successful marriage has lately become the preserve of the upper classes; and yet

* To the extent that Paul and Emma, or I am Charlotte Simmons, are representative, our future upper classes spend their college years whoring around.

I’ve wrestled with this seeming paradox myself. I’m guessing that #3 is less true than the other two. Certainly, it’s the one that hasn’t been demonstrated statistically. But the drop-off in marital success rates with just one previous partner still leaves me uncertain how to proceed. Presumably, the upper classes aren’t saving themselves for marriage. Presumably those who do save themselves are more likely to marry young rather than old. While I can enact scenarios where even though they’re single throughout their twenties they’re likely to have fewer partners, but I’d think that you’d see a “sweet spot” where the number of premarital partners prior to one’s spouse is 2 or 3 with lower than that having lower success rates due to younger marriage and over that due to SES factors and other things. But that’s not the case.

The best I can do is assume that the numbers are being pushed around by atypical cohorts. The number of no-previous-sexual-partner types being a relatively small percentage of each cohort, they don’t affect the aggregate numbers all that much. So they may buck the statistics and do well despite marrying young, while people who marry young are disproportionately shorter time-horizon people who throw the averages completely in the other direction.

The other thing is that there may be a male-female component to it. The statistics about previous sexual partners seem to mostly (and at least sometimes solely) female sexual behavior. Meanwhile, I’ve read that the divorce rates are driven more by the age of the male at the time of marriage. So the numbers could be changed by mildly older guys marrying younger women, leaving the statistics were most likely to look at relatively unchanged (because the guy is 28 and the lady is 23 and so the “age” counts as 28 and the “no previous partners” comes from the 23 year old).

In any event, I suspect this is where my lack of formal training in statistics fails me.

Category: Bedroom

I used to think being gay was wrong. I supposed that if you asked me, I would have said “being gay” wasn’t wrong, but “choosing to live as a gay person” was. I’m not sure I made that distinction at the time. I also thought it was appropriate for the state to encode its objection against homosexuality in its laws. While I probably would not have supported outlawing gay sex or instituting/continuing a formal program against gays, I believed the state shouldn’t offer any protections to gay people as gay people.

For example: In 1992 (I was 18 then), Cibolia had an amendment up for consideration by voters that would have invalidated then existing civil rights protections for gay people. These were laws that Danvar and a couple other cities had adopted to forbid discrimination in housing, hiring, and other practices based on sexual orientation. I supported that amendment, not so much because I bought into the “special rights” argument that amendment supporters invoked. I supported it because I thought such anti-discrimination laws meant the state “legitimized” and therefore implicitly recognized that being gay was acceptable. (For the record, the amendment passed and was overturned by the US Supreme Court 4 years later, the first of a string of decisions written by Justice Kennedy that led to Obergefell.)

My views then made up an almost textbook case of “bigoted position.” I can see that now. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I didn’t see that then. It took me a long time to change my mind on such issues.

The principal reasons I changed my mind were the following, in descending order of importance:

1. I noticed a pretty strong disjuncture between the Lockean idea of consent of the governed and the need for civil liberties with laws restricting gay rights.

2. As I grew up and from a variety of personal experiences and revelations, I came to have more empathy for gay persons.

3. Gay rights activists forced me to try to justify and rethink my position.

No. 3 was in last place for a reason, and in my opinion, was the least important for my conversion. My anti-gay views at the time certainly had a hearing at Cibolia State University, but it was a minority view there. I don’t think I ever voiced it, in part because the pro-gay rights position, as I heard it, was of the shaming sort, similar to what we find in Sam Wilkinson’s post Over There. It wasn’t uncommon to hear any objection to gay rights be answered with “why are you insecure about your sexuality?” or with a lecture about how Ancient Greeks thought homosexuality was good, so we should, too.

One thing the activists accomplished, however, was to compel me to justify, at least to myself, why I opposed gay rights. The stark reasons I mention in the first paragraph of this post solidified as my own answers to activists’ positions. As later events challenged and undermined those reasons, I began to see them as I see them now, as bigoted positions.

Perhaps my position would have changed sooner if the activists had tried to engage people like me more empathetically than they did. Perhaps not. But I realize that the goal of such activism isn’t necessarily to change my or anyone else’s mind or to honor my position on the matter. It could be to rally those who already agree, or to marginalize a certain position as bigoted or beyond the pale. In 1992, it was probably as much of a defensive posture as anything. Matthew Sheppard’s murder still hadn’t happened yet. And not only was Cibolia State University very close to where the murder would happen, it wasn’t a comfortable place to be gay or to support gay rights despite what seemed to me at the time to be the majority pro-gay rights view. There was one story  of a person wearing a “straight but not narrow” button being physically assaulted, assuming I’m remembering things right.

Even now, in 2015, the righteous, crusading, vengeful tone we see in Sam’s post is probably not wholly about righteousness, crusading, and vengeance. It’s still probably not safe to be openly gay, regardless of what the Supreme Court says about the right to marry. Still, perhaps that tone ill serves the cause, as several on that thread, including Will and Mr. Blue from Hitcoffee, have tried to note there.

The Atlantic has an interesting piece on the return of the rhythm method:

With its blinking face and patented “LadyComp algorithm,” Daysy seems newfangled, but its core technology is one septuagenarians would recognize. It relies on the basal body-temperature method of family planning, based on the fact that women’s bodies are a few degrees hotter just after ovulation. But while in past decades women who employed this method had to hand-chart their temperatures on graph paper, Daysy tracks the readings automatically and ports the data onto a companion iPhone app that lets the user see her “cycle forecast” and “temperature curve.” Because it’s personalized, it claims to predict a woman’s chance of pregnancy with an accuracy of 99.3 percent—roughly the same as that of birth-control pills.

Becca began using Daysy in June after stints on the Pill and on Nuvaring, the hormonal vaginal ring. (All of the women in this story asked me to use only their first names.) Both methods caused mood changes that she found unsettling, such as bouts of unexplained crying, and the Pill made her nauseous nearly every morning. She and her boyfriend had been together for a while, so although he was wary of “natural” contraception at first, the Pill’s nasty effects on Becca persuaded him to give it a try.

Becca has about 10 “green” days a month, and at other times, the couple uses condoms.

Jennifer Fitz at Patheos argues that abstinence, and not condom use, should be the order of the day for the remaining ten days:

Meanwhile, when the CDC publishes rates for the effectiveness of condoms (and other barrier methods of contraception), they are assuming that you are blithely using a condom whether you are fertile or not. The pregnancy rate for condom use lumps together both the times when it was impossible to conceive (most of the time) and the sliver of time when you might have been able to conceive.

Thus if you are using fertility awareness and are counting on a condom or other barrier method to avoid pregnancy during your fertile time, be aware that your contraceptive is much less effective than the number calculated by the CDC.

That’s not accurate. Well, it is accurate to say that, as the title of the piece does, that all condom failures actually occur during fertility days. I mean, a condom may burst outside that window, but it won’t be a failure because no pregnancy will result. Where Fitz is wrong is how the CDC compiles its numbers. It’s a common misunderstanding.

A common example of CDC literature is this PDF or this chart which looks at the various forms of contraception and their efficacy over the course of a year. With no contraception, a 85 women out of 100 will get pregnant. The numbers go down from there to various degrees. However, since we’re talking about over the course of a year, the efficacy of condom use in and out of the fertility window is actually accounted for.

Let’s assume Dick and Jane have sex twice a week. Let’s assume a month with 8 days of fertility, and on their schedule sex will occur twice within that prior and seven times outside of it. All seven of the outside-window instances will not result in pregnancy, obviously, and so it really doesn’t matter whether he is wearing a condom then or not (for pregnancy’s sake, anyway). Since we’re talking about the course of a year, they do not affect the CDC’s statistics since failure rates will, as Fitz points out, always occur during the fertility window. So the failure rate the CDC uses is the failure rate during the periods that Fitz is talking about.

The danger of using condoms (and various other forms of contraception, including the diaphram and withdrawal) only during that window is that you will misjudge and be left entirely without protection. That’s what the app The Atlantic talks about is trying to address. Various forms of measuring out the cycle have met with varying degrees of success, and perhaps this will have the outstanding degree of success that the app developers claim. Or perhaps not. And perhaps people will be flawless in their execution, and perhaps not. That’s outside the scope of Fitz’s complaint, though, because she’s focusing on the condom aspect.

My own view is actually, is not all that far from Fitz’s. If you’re worried about pregnancy, steering clear during that week is not a bad idea. Or slowing down. It’s very prudent advise. However, there’s no reason not to incorporate multiple methods (cycle+condom, cycle+withdrawal, cycle+withdrawal+spermicide) if you want to make love four weeks out of the month. The good news is that if you can monitor it, you know which weeks you don’t have to worry.

The sex-ed I had going through school tended to be a bit on the myopic side. In middle school, it was mostly about abstinence. Too young to have sex, truly, but also not trustworthy with contraception. Fair enough. High school shifted to condoms for the boys and the Pill for the girls, which was good. However, if anything was taught about cycles, it didn’t stick as a form of fertility suppression. In a lot of conversations about contraception, this-time-of-the-month-but-not-that-time-of-the-month was never discussed. There was the vague notion that sex during ovulation was bad, but nothing of the female cycle was explained to the boys either in sex ed or out of it. The cycle method wasn’t even given the (questionable) “it will always fail” explanation that withdrawal was.

I think the reasoning goes back in part to why a number of abstinence-only or abstinence-plus advocates worry about teaching contraception or leaning on it too heavily even apart from proscriptions on sex: Kids can’t be trusted to do condoms or The Pill right. People who think that’s nonsense, on the other hand, often seem wary of teaching young people about the cycle or withdrawal with fears along similar lines: The more you teach it, the more they’ll think it’s okay and will do that in lieu of better methods of contraception.

Hopefully, this will all eventually be moot because there are rock-solid forms of contraception available. Distributing it broadly will require money and an attitudinal shift. While general contraception availability in general has less-than-stellar results in preventing unwanted pregnancy, it’s difficult to imagine wider IUD availability – or free pricks to the prick – not having more impact than the less reliable forms we often rely on. And if we’re not going to have truly comprehensive sex ed, we need to start focusing a lot of energy on that.

Category: Bedroom


It is a general problem in this country and the world the extent to which contraception is a “woman’s issue.” This is the product of a lot of things, including but not limited to the unavoidable that women can get pregnant and men cannot, and so they are closer to the center of the repercussions of pregnancy. There is also a substantial amount of social bias perpetuating this assignment of responsibility, together with and independent of the logistical repercussions. But it doesn’t end there. Another big factor is that women have far more tools at their disposal to avoid pregnancy than men.

I’ve had various unintended paternity scares over the years. Not for lack of protection, but due to the protection I thought we had either malfunctioning or not being properly utilized on her end. The result being that I was left either with condoms or at the mercy of the precautions she took, or didn’t take.

The truth for me is, I hate condoms. Not out of some abstract opposition to the manliness of passing off my sperm. I hate them because they diminish my enjoyment to almost null, I don’t feel protected with them (the two earliest “scares” involved condom malfunction), and – at the risk of TMI – they can negate my ability to perform at all no matter where I am when it goes on.

Which, for a guy who wants to be careful about such things, and who doesn’t want to rely on the efforts of someone else, something of a problem. I wore the condoms. I didn’t (usually) whine about it. Truthfully, I didn’t even know how much I hated them until I thought that I would not have to wear them again.

Even so, I would have given my left arm for a Male Pill. I would have loved there to be something that would have allowed me to take more control over my reproduction in a way socially acceptable and palatable to me. Science appears to be getting closer to there. The response, so often, tends to be similar to that of Jessica Valenti:

But the options men do have, they’re not necessarily using.

After all, condom use across the United States is on the decline despite ease of use and a near total lack of pointy-things aimed at men’s sensitive bits. A report from the Centers for Disease Control showed that there was a 4% decline in condom utilization between 2006 and 2010, and among teenagers condom use decreased almost by 50%. In both cases, the decline of condom use was correlated with large increases in the use hormonal and other (IUD, etc) methods of birth control.

And while condom use has improved in the west and China, it has declined in Africa and India, and the most used form of birth control in developing countries is still female sterilization.

It is a shame that more men do not use what is available. I wish I could say that she is wrong insofar that this would get us even in the ballpark of parity in contraception usage.

But the dismissiveness here is maddening. The truth is that men don’t have a lot of options, and having more options will increase usage. Further, it will provide more and better arguments in favor of men taking more control over there reproduction. The more men who do it, the more of a social expectation there will be.

The dismissiveness that often follows around discussions of a “male pill” mostly serves, in my view, in letting men off the hook. Rather than the common assumption that men who don’t want to wear condoms simply don’t want to be responsible for contraception, these developments are a great way to delineate between those who would demur for specific reasons and those who want to evade responsibility. The more options out there, the fewer excuses men have.

This is not unrelated to scoffs (which Valenti alludes to) of attempts to make condoms more pleasurable, less restrictive, and so on. Whether it’s that condoms suck or there is a lack of choice, the more reasons and excuses we knock down the better. While condoms will always have the advantage of STD protection, protection only works if you actually use it. The more ways we get people to use it, the better.

With a sample set of one, at least, Valenti’s quasi-dismissal of this innovation on the basis of a prick to the prick represents a profound misunderstanding of where the objections to condoms lie, seeming to attribute it to questions of manhood rather than the very real logistical issues they represent. I would honestly prefer a jab to the penis over taking the pill, and I’d rather tinker with my hormones once a day with a pill than put on a rubber. The only thing better would be if I could put copper in my crotch.

Valenti herself does express at least some excitement, but the attitudes she contributes to counterproductively sends a message that we shouldn’t bother because men will be men.

Category: Bedroom

Some research suggests that smartphones are killing your sleep and hurting your productivity:

‘Our new research indicates the greater connectivity comes at a cost: using a smartphone to cram more work into a given evening results in less work done the next day,’ he says.

‘The reason for this, as we’ll explain, is that smartphones are bad for sleep, and sleep is very important to effectiveness as an employee.

‘Unfortunately, smartphones are almost perfectly designed to disrupt sleep.

‘Because they keep us mentally engaged with work late into the evening, they make it harder to psychologically detach from the most pressing cares of the day so that we can relax and fall asleep.

‘Perhaps the most difficult aspect of smartphones to avoid is that they expose us to light, including blue light.

‘Even small amounts of blue light inhibit the sleep-promoting chemical melatonin, meaning that the displays of smartphones are capable of producing this effect.’

I used to be really bad about this. Except that even when I had a Real Job, it wasn’t particularly a matter of late night work. It had more to do with Hit Coffee, and Ordinary Gentlemen, as it still does.

Now, though, I have a more important job than I did then. Or, at least, my performance in the morning is more important than it used to be. When I worked at that large software company, I could wake up, get moving, and the only think I would have to be conscious enough to do for the first hour or two is drive. Now, driving drowsy is driving drunk of course, but it at least lent itself to a waking up progress. The further along I was, the more awake I would become.

20140210_000740-Lain, on the other hand, doesn’t want to wait an hour or two in the morning. In fact, the morning is often when she is at her most energetic. She also needs to be fed pretty early. I need to juggle all of this with taking the dog outside, making my breakfast, and a whole lot of other things that become more complicated with a little one.

Shorty after the Lain was born, I found the options on my phone to tell it to shut the hell up after midnight. The ding-dings that used to tell me that someone had commented on something I had written or that I had gotten an email were no longer a petty annoyance but something that would make my next morning more difficult. I am also trying to use it as a reminder to myself that I need to be going to bed.

Along these lines, I’ve started taking more seriously the ways that screen time inhibit sleep. I still look at my smartphone at night, but television is no longer a part of my nightly routine. I also try to keep computer time to a minimum. The phone itself is sent to minimalize lighting in day or night (white text on black backgrounds, on most of the apps I use).

I’ve had somewhat limited success. I no longer wake up in the night to see if I have texts, no longer give my eyes a jolt whenever I look at my screen. But I still have difficulty getting to sleep before 2am. There is so much that I can only really do at night, when the baby is asleep. The baby, despite being energetic in the morning, tends to like to define “morning” as 9 or 10am and defines sleep-time as 11 or 12. It’s a hard habit to get her out of. If I were really on the ball, I would be going to bed right after she does. Unfortunately I fall into the same trap mentioned in the article. I want to get things done, and instead of getting up a couple hours before the baby (which would be better off for all involved, and not by a little) I get a couple of hours done late at night.

Category: Bedroom


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