Wednesday, September 09, 2009


In my earlier post "Sex Education: Time for a Reform," I mentioned that I intended to go to my local library to find Victor Malarek's book The Johns - Sex for Sale and the Men who Buy It. Well, it took me a while to get it (the book was on reserve for two other readers ahead of me) but, last week, it finally became available. I picked it up last Friday; I finished it today.

Most of it talked about things I agreed with already and might've even written myself. However, there were a few things in there that took me by surprise and altered my perceptions considerably; I'll be tackling some of those ideas in future postings. For now, however, I'd like to start with something I read in an early chapter that got me thinking about something a lot of people, particularly in meatspace, have asked me.

I'm single right now. People often ask me if I intend to pursue another relationship. The answer is not a simple "yes" or "no." I don't believe in "pursuing" relationships the way most people think of it; I don't believe in "dating." I've said that to many people, male and female alike, but when pressed to explain I was never able to put into words what I meant. However, strangely enough, something I read in The Johns helped me, finally, to come up with a clear explanation.

In Chapter Four, "Single By Choice," Malarek talks about men who go to prostitutes because they've given up on the dating scene in frustration because they haven't been able to "get any" through conventional dating. I found that attitude a bit disquieting. These men apparently have the attitude that, if they show a woman a good time, that obligates her to performing "favors" for the man at the end of the night.

Charles, an office manager from Dallas, Texas (quoted from page 52 of Malarek's book) is typical of this attitude (emphasis mine):
I spend and I spend and I spend, and I don't even get a kiss goodnight. I take them to fancy restaurants to wine and dine them, and all they do is whine and whine. They complain and bitch incessantly about stuff that makes me want to yell, "Shut the fuck up! Your boring life sucks. Get over it." But I listen, hoping that maybe after she's finished her rant, we can have sex when I take her home.
I've overheard countless guys make those kinds of comments: "I spent all that money on her and she wouldn't even have sex with me!" Whenever I hear things like that, it makes my skin crawl and, from what I've heard of the experiences of my dating female friends, that seems to be the prevalent attitude of men who "date;" they feel treating a woman to a night out gives them the right to expect sexual favors at the end of the night.

To me, this kind of attitude is just a whitewashed form of prostitution. When you get right down to it, what these men are saying is that if you can't get sex out of a woman then spending time with her is a waste of time; in effect, they're saying, "Sex is all women are good for."

If that is what "dating" is all about then I want no part of it. The very idea of specifically trying to woo someone I'm only just getting to know to climb into bed with me is repugnant to me. As I said in "Sport Nookie," I don't want someone I barely know touching me in the most intimate way two people can touch. When I've tried to explain that, particularly to men, I'm often met with puzzled stares. Occasionally, I'm accused of being homosexual. They just don't get it.

To me, going out with someone has nothing whatsoever to do with sex. That doesn't necessarily mean I'm not attracted to the woman I'm asking out; what I mean is that the night out itself has nothing to do with that. In that sense, going out with a new female friend and a new male friend are virtually the same experience for me. I buy a beer and a meal for both for the same reason: if I ask someone out, I want to have a good time and get to know them.

The sad thing is, though, that even women tend to assume I have a hidden sexual agenda if I try to treat them to a night out. That's the main reason why I usually don't ask women out. It's not because I can't or I don't want to; I just don't want a woman to assume I'm asking her out only in the hope of getting into her pants. Unfortunately, because that's what most men in the dating scene seem to be looking for, that's now what most women seem to expect on a date.

In my posting "Revelation," I spoke of the irrevocable connection between friendship and love. In brief, my theoretical "formula" of romantic love is, "Attraction+Friendship+Trust=Romantic Love." In other words, I believe love, and therefore healthy sexual relationships, grow out of friendships, not out of attraction. It's when you feel attraction, friendship and implicit trust, all for the same person, that love ignites.

So I do not "date." Instead, I work on making friends, male and female alike. Before the friendships get close, gender doesn't matter; I simply enjoy the company and get to know them. Only once friendships get close do I make a distinction between the male and female friend. Essentially, I look at any close female friendship to someone I'm attracted to as a potential romantic possibility in the future.

Now that doesn't mean I "pursue" my close female friends trying to start a sexual relationship, either; that, too, would be a form of "dating." What I mean is that I'm aware that any woman I'm attracted to who is also a close friend could be a potential romantic relationship if, at some point in the future, she ever becomes attracted to me.

The point of "dating" is to try to entice someone sexually. That is the part I don't believe in. My way of thinking is that I don't have the right to push myself on someone who is not attracted to me; either she is or she isn't. That is what I mean by close female friends being potential romantic relationships. If a close female friend ever becomes attracted to me, then is the time to pursue a romantic relationship because only then is it truly "real."

This applies even if I fall in love with someone. The way I see it, if you truly love someone, you respect them and their boundaries. No matter how much I might want to express my love to a woman intimately, if she's not attracted to me, I'm not going to make any effort to try to push her into a relationship she doesn't want. Instead, I just show her my love in other ways, through friendship and support in hard times, with a fierce loyalty.

Many men just don't get that. In fact, most of my male friends who know I have feelings for someone will give me all kinds of unsolicited advice on how to seduce them. They just can't seem to grasp the idea of being "just friends" with a woman they "love." I think that, too, is a symptom of the stereotypical male point of view that sex is the "ultimate goal" of forming a relationship with a woman; they can't imagine wanting to stay around if they don't get it.

Seduction, to me, is a form of manipulation; you manipulate the woman into feeling something for you she might not otherwise have been inclined to feel. This makes it artificial. You sweep her off her proverbial feet and she's caught up in the whirlwind of romance, sex and endorphins and, for a time, thinks you're the best thing that ever happened to her but, when the seduction wears off, the illusion collapses and she wonders what possessed her to be with you.

I've seen many women go through this cycle. A man arrives, often when they're at their most vulnerable, and they fall for his charms. More often than not, however, these guys turn out to be bad news because most guys who deliberately seek out to seduce a woman, particularly in the first date or two, are always bad news. I even saw one man who seduced an otherwise decent woman so thoroughly that she got into bed with him before he even learned her last name.

That's the danger of actually trying to initiate a sexual relationship. Even seducing a woman you love is just as dangerous. How? Well, to her, the "love" created from seduction is still an illusion. When the illusion wears off for her, she will most likely realize she made a mistake. In the end, both parties get hurt. In some cases, even the original friendship can be lost because of all the awkwardness afterward.

So why do men try to seduce women? In effect, for the same reason the men above who gave up on dating pay for prostitutes; they have this irrational belief that they "need" sex. A man may trick himself into believing he's "in love" with a woman he's strongly attracted to and delude himself into thinking his pursuit of her is "romantic" but all he's really doing is creating an illusion, a fantasy into which both he and the woman he pursues are ultimately drawn.

I've said it before and I'll continue to say it: sex, to me, is just another way to say, "I love you." Granted, it's the most beautiful, and intimate, way, but it's not one that's appropriate for all relationships; whether it's appropriate depends not only on how I feel but how the other person feels as well. If I'm in love with someone, of course I'll hope she might feel the same way some day but, if she doesn't, I'm happy as long as she's in my life and I'll be there for her regardless.

But I'll never try to make that happen; it either happens naturally, or it's not meant to happen at all.

That is why I don't date.

That's also why I can't say whether I'll pursue another relationship or not because that depends, not on whether I want one, but whether I ever again find myself in love with a woman who also loves me back.

So my answer is this: Yes, I'd like to be in another relationship some day but, if it never happens, so long as there are people in my life that I love and who love me back, regardless of how that love is expressed, I'll be content.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

An Apology

Ideals, by definition, are one's vision of "perfect" behavior. Of course none of us are perfect; we all fall short of our ideals. That doesn't negate their purpose, however. Ideals offer us a benchmark, a goal to constantly reach for. In reaching for our ideals, one can usually manage to live up to them a majority of the time. When you do fall short of your ideals, and you realize it, you apologize, make amends and hopefully learn from that mistake.

This is the very concept upon which the Catholic Sacrament of Penance (also known colloquialy as "confession") is built. The Catholic Church recognizes that people aren't perfect, that we are all "sinners" and that we will make mistakes. The Sacrament of Penance offers one an opportunity to admit one's mistakes and confess to them. In effect, God forgives us when we have the courage to recognize our imperfections, admit to them and try to learn from them.

I'm not Catholic but I believe in God and go to Sacred Heart every Saturday to pray for the people I love. I chose a Catholic church simply because the persons I love most are Catholic. I have never participated in the Sacrament of Penance; I prefer to confess my mistakes in the open, ideally directly to the people they affect. Even my most personal mistakes I prefer to confess to people I love and trust, not a priest, therapist or counselor who does not know me.

Recently, I was guilty of a hypocrisy. I'm here to admit it and apologize.

During recent turmoil in my life, discussed at length in the pages of this blog, I frequently lamented the fact that people tended to judge me without even trying to get my side of the story. Most of these people were taking the opinion of a single individual who'd had a recent conflict with me as if that one opinion painted a complete picture of me, my life and who I am.

I know how frustrating it can be when people form opinions of you without ever even having spoken to you. That's why, ideally, I make a point of getting the other person's side of the story before I form an opinion of someone. However, recently there was someone online whom I judged unfairly without getting their side of the story.

I didn't do this deliberately; I didn't even realize I was doing it until very recently. Over the last few years, I've had many frustrations, some of which upset me to the point of affecting my judgment. That's what happened here; I ended up getting caught up in someone else's negative opinion about someone because I simply didn't have the emotional energy to investigate for myself.

Now that I'm finally clear of that former mess, however, I can look back on my own actions with a more objective eye. When I did, I was forced to realize that I was doing to this person the very thing others were doing to me that I found so frustrating: I was judging her without getting her side of the story.

I began to realize my mistake when I started reading her blog regularly. I first went there mostly to watch her reactions to my friend when he made digs at her (something he delights in doing, unfortunately). However, as I read more and more of her blog, and as she and I started exchanging E-mails (originally prompted when she wanted to discuss some comments I'd made to her blog) I began thinking, Hm. She doesn't seem anything like what I was led to believe.

I have since made a point of getting to know her, at least as much as she has been willing (her opinion of myself was also skewed by the opinion of the aforementioned individual with whom I'd had the conflict). That's when I began to realize how badly distorted my perspective of her was. As I got to know her better, I realized there was a lot more to the story than my friend's side. I should have known that but I was too blinded by my own pain at the time to see it.

Now that I have, though, I'd like to apologize publicly and for the record to "Bonobobabe." I castigated her for the way she runs her blog. Specifically, I criticized her choice to censor some comments and sometimes make the whole blog private in order to avoid my friend's comments. I thought she just didn't have the stomach to deal with the inevitable troublemakers blogging brings; I thought she should just get out of the proverbial kitchen if she couldn't stand the heat.

Although I cannot go into detail suffice it to say that, having gotten her perspective, I now understand why she did what she did. I still maintain she should open her blog up to the wider public (in my opinion, there's not much point in having a blog that isn't open to the public; the whole point of a blog is to express your ideas to society at large) but I now understand, and respect, her decision to make it private.

I'd also like to point out that I am, at this point, not on any side here. Having seen both perspectives, hers and my friend's, I feel that they both have made mistakes. I now consider them both friends. If, some day, they ever wish to try to come to some sort of understanding, I'd be happy to help them "clear the air." As someone who's heard both sides, I'm in a unique position to help; all they have to do is ask.

Even the best of us are hypocrites once in a while. To err is Human; we all make mistakes. The difference between someone who makes a mistake and a true hypocrite, however, is the person guilty of hypocrisy who refuses to admit it and apologize for their mistake.

In this situation, I was a hypocrite. I realize that now.

I apologize.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Internet Neutrality

I just stumbled onto a group on Facebook called "Dissolve the CRTC." In brief, it's a group who believes that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has strayed from its mandate to protect the interests of Canadians in the media in favor of corporate interests; the group is advocating the dissolution of the CRTC to replace it with a more neutral organization.

On their website, they had an article called "Canada's Internet Explained" which linked to this video on YouTube:

What concerns me here is the concept of "Internet neutrality" (also known as "network neutrality"). For more details, I strongly recommend watching the video above; it explains it very well. However, in brief, the principle of Internet neutrality states that ISPs may not restrict the type of equipment, protocols or content you can use and access on the Internet. Everything connected to the network is equally accessible to everything else.

This blog, for example, is just as easy to access as a huge media giant like CNN. If you type in "" then, "," both sites come up just as easily. In effect, I can compete directly with CNN, reaching just as wide an audience; if I happen to have a story more interesting than anything CNN has at the time, I could conceivably "scoop" them. Me, one man, one computer, competing against a worldwide media giant.

Of course, that's not the nature of this particular blog; I'm not a journalist, but you get the idea. Anyone out there who wants to compete against anyone else on the network, whether that someone else be a major worldwide corporation or a single person sitting at a single machine, the playing field is completely level. Unlike with traditional media, the individual can conceivably generate just as much exposure for themselves as any major media outlet.

This is one of the Internet's founding principles; it's something we all understand about it instinctively. What concerns me is the fact that this concept has been given a name. Why does that concern me? Until now, the concept described by the term was part of the "common sense" of the Internet. It didn't have to be defined; it's part of what makes the Internet what it is. The fact that it has to be defined, however, implies that this is no longer "common sense."

If "Internet neutrality" is no longer common sense then it stands to reason that something is changing about this fundamental nature of the Internet; if this is true then it also stands to reason that at least some part of the Internet is no longer neutral. In fact, it's not. There have been many stories in the media lately of major ISPs restricting access to competitors' sites and technology; this is a violation of Internet neutrality.

Now that I think about it, though, violations of Internet neutrality aren't really new. AOL, for example, is most famous for its restrictive interfaces and proprietary protocols that make it very difficult to use non-AOL products to connect to their network. AOL, therefore, is probably one of the earliest examples of a company that violates the principles of Internet neutrality by attempting to control how its users connect to the network.

Of course, AOL used to be fairly unique in this. Most ISPs would allow you to access the network free and clear with any platform and/or software you wanted to use; so long as it was compatible with the Internet's protocols and you knew how to use it you could use it. Unfortunately, however, the idea of trying to control how an ISP's users connect is starting to go "mainstream;" most of the major ISPs today have been guilty of this in some way, shape or form.

That's why I prefer smaller, independent ISPs. They have no motivation to restrict their users' access because their open, unrestricted access itself is their biggest advantage over the bigger ISPs. That's why I chose Eastlink; they offer decent broadband speeds with no restrictions. I can use whatever computing platform, browser, E-mail client etc. I want and visit any site I want. That's the way it should be. That's what makes the Internet the powerful tool it is.

Most people tend to just go with what the majority uses. Windows, for example, is the most common computer operating system not because it's the best but because it's what everyone's used to. The problem is, once people get used to something, even if it's not the best product available, people tend not to aim any higher; they get used to the performance of a given product and stick with it because it's familiar.

The videocassette format wars, for example. VHS and Betamax ("Beta" for short) were the major formats. As we all know, VHS won that war but what most of us don't know is that VHS was actually the technologically inferior format; Beta had superior resolution and sound quality but (in the beginning) fell short in recording time which was its downfall. Due to its superior quality, Beta continued in professional video use but for home use it disappeared entirely.

Beta did fix its recording time issues; later versions of Beta allowed recording times to rival VHS and Beta picture and sound quality continued to be superior. So why didn't Beta trounce VHS? For the same reason that the Macintosh doesn't trounce Windows: once people are used to something, they tend to stick with it because it's familiar even when better products or services are available. Most people prefer conformity; they prefer to be part of the majority to "fit in."

Being in the minority, however, can have advantages. Most Macintosh users, for example, don't have virus protection. Why? The Mac is in the minority; there just aren't as many out there. A virus written for Macs won't spread nearly as far as one written for Windows so most virus writers focus on Windows so their viruses will spread. Also, the Mac has superior security; writing a virus for a Mac is therefore much more difficult in the first place.

If it wasn't for Internet neutrality, Microsoft might very well have prevented Mac users from accessing the Internet in the first place. It is Internet neutrality that allows Mac users like myself to access the Internet equally with Windows users or, for that matter, users of other even less common systems like Linux, Solaris, Amiga OS and so on. Everyone has the right to access the network with whatever compatible piece of technology they wish; that's as it should be.

Big media giants are trying to change that. They want to restrict the Internet and monopolize public media access the same way they once did when newspapers, television and radio were the only major worldwide media accessible to the public. Back then, if you wanted to be heard by the world, you were at the whim of the companies that ran these media; if they didn't want to put you on, you were out of luck.

If you want to be heard on the Internet, go to any of a plethora of blogging services, get a page up there and, within minutes, your words can be seen by anyone in the world who wishes to read them. Get on YouTube and you can even let people around the world see and hear you with less restriction even than traditional television. There are no channels or range restrictions; a video on YouTube is instantly global the moment it goes live on the network.

The Internet is, in effect, the ultimate evolution in freedom of speech; restricting Internet access would, therefore, amount to censorship. Do we want to go back to the days when the major media decided what we, the public, sees, or do we want to be able to decide for ourselves what we want to see?

"When liberty is taken away by force it can be restored by force. When it is relinquished voluntarily by default it can never be recovered." - Dorothy Thompson