Thursday, June 4, 2015

It is all about Consent

A couple of thoughts on Human Sexuality:

First, your sexuality is your own.  Nobody owns it.  You don’t subjugate it to someone else when you get married. You certainly do not subjugate it to a god.  As such, as parents or adults we do not own our children’s sexuality.  We merely defend their right to consent.  That defense should be against anyone who wishes to take their right to consent away from them.  I think molestation and the perversion of defining sex and sexuality as sinful or immoral is equally damaging to a child.  Teaching children to fight their natural urges because there is some eternal punishment waiting for them takes away their ability to consent. 

Children should be free to explore their own sexuality on their own terms. That means masturbation is an activity in which they can give enthusiastic consent to.  It is not something we should wrap in guilt and control (outside of teaching it is personal and private).  That does not mean it is a free-for-all. Part of exploring sex and sexuality is acknowledging that there are ground rules.  In my house that included a “Don’t Rape” conversation in which we discussed who is legally and ethically able to give consent. It also means discussing the consequences of sex including disease and pregnancy.  We certainly have on going discussions around what a healthy relationship looks like.

The individual defines sexual preference.  To deny someone their own sexual identity and preference, in the framework of consent, is to deny them the ability to consent. In that, teaching rigid gender norms also denies the child, in part, the ability to consent, as they become adults.  They are unable to engage in sexual expression that is free of guilt or shame. Consensual sexual behavior should not be wrapped in guilt.

When it comes to marriage/committed relationships monogamy is one relationship style.  It is not the only relationship style.  There are times when it certainly is not a healthy relationship style. While Lisa and I have chosen monogamy and it works for us, I don’t think any less of those who successfully practice polyamory. I also do not have an issue with non-religious polygamy, serial monogamy, asexuality, co-habitation, or fetish lifestyles like BDSM.  The question that has to be asked when evaluating any relationship is, "Does consent exist".  If it does, its none of my business.

Pornography is not addictive.  That does not mean that there are not compulsions that exist around sex and sexual behavior.  But the underlying mental illness is not in the media.  It is in the compulsion itself. Many studies have found that a stressor triggers compulsions.  When the stressor is removed, the compulsion diminishes or disappears.  There is some data that suggests our puritanical views of sex and sexuality creates that stressor.  We tell women they are not only the subjects of their husbands but also the gatekeeper of all that is moral and wholesome in the household.  It is their job to watch their husbands so they don't stray.  That includes watching the husbands Internet use to see if he is looking at pornography.  This leads to secrecy and in many case triggers a compulsion.  Its not the pornography that triggers it.  It is the secrecy.  This brings me back to my original assertion: “Nobody owns your sexuality… not even your spouse”.  There are many reasons to not like pornography.  You may find it exploitative.  In some cases it has been.  You may find it reflects unrealistic expectations on how sex works.  It does.  But at the end of the day if consent is given in the production of the pornography and your spouse views it privately, it is none of your business.  It remains none of your business until he/she asks you to partake. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Colonoscopy: Not as bad as you are led to believe

Lisa and I both had our colonoscopies this week.  There is much information on the inter-webs about what you can expect, how horrible the experience is, the worst case scenarios, and as with anything health related or consumer related you look you find on the internet you should know... the whiners and complainers will be the first to review a procedure or product... negatively.

Here are my tips for getting a colonoscopy:

  1. GET ONE!!!! ...if you are 50 or over and/or if you have a family history of polyps or cancer.  It is the best way to detect colon cancer early and to prevent polyps from growing into cancerous tumors.  
  2. Have a physical and know your medical issues before scheduling your procedure. This will help you avoid the pitfalls of #3.
  3. Don't read the crap on the internet.  It will lead you to believe you already have the cancer, are going to have an allergic reaction to the medication or you are already in renal failure.
  4. Eat a low fiber diet and avoid nuts and popcorn for two days (at least) before you start the colon prep.  Think, as you consider what to eat, "How will this feel coming out... UNDER PRESSURE!"
  5. Use Vaseline on your anus.  This will help keep your but from cracking and bleeding and burning.
  6. The colon prep is not that bad.  The lavage you ingest is not "Nasty".  Its not pleasant or delicious but its not nasty.  You won't feel like you have the flu.  It will literally flush you bowels out.  It is inconvenient but not horrible.  In fact, neither of us found it was that big of a deal.  
  7. Plan to spend time in the bathroom.  Take your iPad, a book, or your phone with you.  Have plans to feed your spouse, kids, and pets during the two evenings before your procedure.
  8. Drink plenty of fluids before you start.  Dehydration is the worst... and it wasn't a problem for us.
  9. They day of your procedure you should plan to have nothing planned.  It will take you a couple of hours at the hospital to be prepped, have the procedure done (you probably won't remember it) and to recover from the sedation.  
  10. Celebrate with a delicious but reasonable meal the evening of.  You won't really want anything too rich but you will want something tasty.  For me it was the most exquisite peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Followed by Pizza... Okay the pizza wasn't the best idea.  I realized this at 3:00 in the morning... heart burn!
It really wasn't that bad.  I will do it again in 10 years.  My colon was healthy.  No polyps. No disease. No CANCER!  However, had it not been.  I would have wanted to know.  That is how I am staying on this path to live past 90!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dear Neglected Readers: Its time for an update!

I am now in my second year of graduate school.  Christmas has wound down and now I am in that odd time in-between semesters.  You know, that time when you should be doing something that will make the next semester easier and recognizing that you just don't have the energy yet to face it.  I am Halfway though my program and now am applying for jobs is on the immediate horizon.

This is our second year in Iowa.  It has been nice to finally feel like we are home in Iowa.  Although we left so many humans in Utah who we are fond of and miss terribly, we don't miss passive-aggressive and smug Utah culture.  We have really enjoyed being allowed to be adults.  Iowa normalizes adulthood.  You can buy your hard liquor in bulk at the Costco if you choose.  Wine is sold on the aisle ends by the checkouts at Hy-vee. Almost everybody drinks coffee.  You can find a wide variety of personal lubricants on the shelf at Wal-Mart.

I have found that being away from Utah and specifically Mormonism, has resulted in fewer conversations about the religion and its negative impact our our family. I have less of need to be surrounded by "like minded people" to insulate me, intellectually and emotionally, from Mormonism.  I have unplugged from all but two ex-mormon groups on Facebook.  I still visit the A Post Mormon Atheist/Agnostic group and a group that discusses the issues of sex and sexuality in a Post Mormon Context.  I have still been know to challenge assertions made by the faithful and occasionally in a dick-ish way.  One observation I made over the last year: It doesn't really matter if you are nice or a dick when you challenge the delusional beliefs of others, the net result will be the same.  You will be unfriended, ignored, and pitied by them.  I have not put up a post related to Mormonism specifically for a little over two months now.

With John Larsen's exit from the Mormon Expression podcast, I decided it was also time to stop listening to the ex-mormon related podcasts and deleted and unsubscribed from all.  I have hid most TBM's from my newsfeed.  While I am interested in them as people, I can't really stomach the delusion that one must engage in to believe any of it is real.  It doesn't mean religion is safe from my criticism.

So what is important to me?

I still rant about alternative medicine and pseudoscience.  I openly and unapologetically challenge vaccine deniers and woo pitchers.  I will continue to do that because I think it is more important than religion.  The harm is immediate.

Michael will graduate from West High School in in Iowa City this year.  Kiera is a freshman at the same school.  They both seem to be doing well.  They are great kids and we are proud of them.

I turn 50 this year.  With that milestone, I recognize that I am on the downhill side of mortality.  I might make it to a 100 (if I stay off Facebook and manage my stress) but it is unlikely.  So it is my desire to seize the moment... each and every precious moment.  I am no longer 10' tall and bullet proof.  I have had friends and colleagues see their time cut short by genetics or poor lifestyle choices. I can control one of those factors.  I need to control what I can because both of my parents were dead by 70.  I have lost 22 lbs. since August.  I would like to loose 10 more.  I need to find a away to continue to exercise through the cold Iowa winter.  Although through discipline I have avoided the holiday weight gain.  Lisa is on a similar path.  We want to hold off the health effects that come from poor lifestyle choices.

The plan for 2015:

  • Colonoscopy scheduled for the first week in January.
  • Physical scheduled for March
  • Drink less alcohol:  Make it a social event or an occasion.  Avoid daily consumption.
  • Monitor blood pressure and cholesterol:  Eat less meat and salt and more veggies.  This has resulted in appreciable weight loss.
  • Manage stress:  If you know me at all this is my achilles heel.  I am an obsessive thinker and a worrier.  I have tried deep breathing and relaxation but the narrative in my head always seems to dominate. 
  • Have plenty of sex!

So there it is.  I may find the inclination to write a little more as the ever evolving me finds something else to say.  We'll see where this year takes me.  I do know that I have grown quite a bit in this experience.  We are looking around and trying to determine where the next move will take us.  What we know is that we are only in Iowa for another 16 or so months.  That time will go quickly

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Who is watching and why it matters how we talk about homosexuality

A couple of years ago I was engaged in a discussion on gay rights on Michelle Willis's board.  The subject was the Jc Penney ads featuring lesbian mothers.  It was argument I engaged in with passion.  I supported, as I have since 1984, the rights of homosexuals to live a genuine life.  I was up against the pious and self-righteous Mormons on Michelle's board.  Trite arguments were volleyed back and forth.  I knew there was no way to "win" the argument with these people but I was still up for the fight.  In the middle of the whole mess I got a private message.  It was one of Michelle's friends who had been watching the debate.  The messages was a "thank you for the support".  'I thought Michelle was my friend.  I can see that she is not.' Was the tone.  While Michelle lost a friend that day, that person knew there was an ally who was willing to stand up.

Last Friday, a federal judge struck a fatal blow to Utah's amendment 3.  The Facebook feed blew up.  I have engaged in as many conversations as I could on those feeds.  Some might even call me a troll because I engage even when I am not invited


Because people are watching that is why.  I was reminded of this when I read a friends beautiful and eloquent response to his mother who was asking if his support for gay rights would change it it were his own child.  He of course said no... and that people are watching.  People in pain who are trying to find someone to talk to.

So when you are fighting equality in your Facebook feed who are you helping?

Are you standing up for your god?

Does he really need you to stand up to him?

Are you standing up for your church?

Are you on the church's legal team?  Do they really need you.

Are you standing up for freedom and the constitution?

Are you a constitutional attorney... and don't you see the hypocrisy?

Who are you hurting?

You are likely hurting someone who isn't vocal.  Someone who is sitting in the dark crying because they feel like there is something wrong with them.  Someone who may be your child, sibling, maybe even your own parent.  What they are is a human being who needs support, love and acceptance.  They didn't ask for this and to ask them to deny who they are is harmful.  To characterize their being as a "sin", as a "choice" as a "lifestyle" or one that is "not to be acted on" inflicts an undue amount of pain.

The LGBT community inside of Mormonism has one of the highest suicide rates.  The LGBT community in the United States has a suicide rate that exceeds the national average.   It is time we stop treating them like they are throw aways.

I am a supporter of equality.  I support the choices consenting adults make out of love. I support teaching our children how to develop healthy fulfilling intimate relationships with whomever they love.  It is not about sin.  It is about humans.

Conversely, I do not support bigotry and on this blog I will identify bigots by first and last name.  The world should know who you are.  Those who are watching should know who is not safe.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Why it didn't take....

I was talking to my friend Grant a couple of years ago about Mormon indoctrination.  I offered this Jesuit quote:

"Give me the child till the age of seven 
and I will show you the man." 

He quipped back, "Well if that were true why don't we still have you?"

It is a good question.  Why?  I was raised in American Fork, Utah.  You will not find a more fundamental Mormon community.  This was especially true in the 70's and 80's.  Everything about daily life centered on the Mormon tradition.  All of my mentors, outside of the home, were faithful practicing Mormons.  I had the utmost respect for them and admired their spirituality.  So why am I now a militant atheist?

As I pondered this question it dawned on me.  Because I was never fully "in".  My parents were "Jack-Mormons".  They lived outside of the bubble.  For the first 20 or so years of my life they still believed but chose not to do Mormonism by the book.  I think their level of belief started to fall off as they aged.  More importantly they didn't accept all of the tenants of Mormonism as truth or even as what they perceived a just god would condone.  My mother would frequently ask why.  'Why can't blacks hold the priesthood?'  'Why can't women?'  'Why is this guy a bishop when the whole town knows he is crook?'  'How did this guy get to stay as the bishop when was molesting children? '

My Dad was known for saying, "Well that's bullshit."

I learned from my parents, that questioning authority, demanding evidence, and being willing to declare something bullshit when the facts didn't support the claims was a virtue.  My personality made it difficult for me to compartmentalize for any prolonged period of time.

I also think this is why many members do not allow their children to play with non members, children of apostates or children of Jack-Mormons.  Because if they find out that it is reasonable to not believe... it won't take.    

Friday, October 25, 2013

Sexism: Just another reason David Alvord is Wrong for South Jordan!

:  prejudice or discrimination based on sex; especially :  discrimination against women2
:  behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex

My discussion around David Alvord's candidacy for Mayor of South Jordan has been as much about temperament as anything.  Well David can't help himself.  If you are from Utah and know anything about Mormonism you have probably heard of the Ordain Women movement.  It is a feminist movement that asks the Mormon church to treat members of all sexes equally.  They staged a protest during the last LDS General conference.  They are brave women who know asking for equality means they risk excommunication and ostracism.  However David Alvord, the sexist, thinks it is fair to belittle their request.

   So he was supported by a few folks but largely criticized by others for his flippant insensitivity and sexism.  As a result, David did what he usually does... he deleted the post.  He also did what he usually does... put up another post to make his point.

  I support David's right to "BLURT".  I would just think he would use a filter knowing that he was running for political office and someone like me might write about it.  Why would he do such a thing?  Well, because he was defending the church thats why!

I think, most importantly, he thinks sexism is ordained by god:

It is becoming clearer that David Alvord lacks the temperament to be Mayor.  He has a context in which he looks at the world that makes him a poor candidate to represent the rest of the community.  South Jordan needs a leader that is fair to everyone no matter their sex or religion.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Alvord: Wrong on Housing... Still Wrong for South Jordan

Hot off the presses:

David Alvord, and now his buddy Steve Barnes, are pushing misinformation and fear.  AGAIN!

In the above photo (taken from David's campaign site) he claims there is a link between tax rates and high density housing.  He has also claimed that high density housing overburdens the schools and stress the city's infrastructure.  There are Alvords and Barnes' claims... and then there is reality.

This is one of those topics that has been studied exhaustively.  There is no negative relationship between tax rates and high density.  There is no negative relationship between high density and school size or traffic congestion.  And in communities that had low crime rates before high density there is no change by adding high density housing.

This study discusses the numerous studies on this matter:

I know, it is a study, it uses objective facts, it is Alvord proof.

What you might notice that they refer to affordable housing in this study.  That is really what Avlrod and his buddy Barnes are talking about.  They don't want affordable housing in South Jordan.  Affordable Housing units bring in those disgusting poor people who have poor habits.

Lets look at his argument:  "A $500,000 dollar home will pay more taxes than a $300,000 home."  This statement is true when said by itself.  This statement is inaccurate when applied to the high density housing argument.  A home worth $500,000 is not built on .19 acres of land.  It is built on at least a .25 parcel and mostly on a .33 acre parcel.  You can feasibly build two $300,000 dollar homes on the same parcel.  That means now we have $600,000 in taxable property.

Now we really aren't talking about $300,000 homes when we talk about high density.  We are talking town homes, condominiums or apartments.  In each case the density of the units equals higher property values for either the management company or each individual owner aggregated in the same area.  So we now have a $2,000,000 building occupying the same foot print as the half million dollar home.  Alvord's math just doesn't add up.

So what is the issue.  Alvord tells you.  It is about keeping the level of housing (or price) high.  By doing this you keep the "other" out.  What they aren't telling you, is that South Jordan is required to provide a certain number of affordable unit to its citizens.  It isn't allowed to discriminate by class.  The city must serve the interest of the poor with equal fervor it dedicates to the rich.

Alvord also claims that he didn't want to debate this issue with Scott Osborne's son.  He would rather debate the issues with Osborne... except that he wouldn't.  He declined to let Scott make a point in an earlier post.  This is what he said:
...But I'm not going to use my campaign page to let Osborne spread the talking points of the left. 
Because Alvord's arguments are... indefensible.

Again, Alvord is demonstrating that ideology trumps reality.  His brand of politics is just plain bad; not only for South Jordan, but for the human race.