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Guys: How Not to Be a Douche When Commenting on Threads About Feminism/Women’s Issues/Men’s Transgressions

Guys… we need to get something. Most of the time, when we comment on threads on Facebook and elsewhere about feminism, “women’s/trans/queer issues” (which should be EVERYONE’s issues), and/or men’s transgressions, we completely fuck it up. Then we get called “douches.” Then we get defensive, angry, and menacing for being called douches, and/or we get mopey and sad. Then we commit all the douchey things women are asking us not to do again in response, digging ourselves deeper. Then the dialogue (or more commonly, debate or flame war) ends when everyone involves gets too sick of continuing it. Then everyone leaves the encounter feeling even more shitty and like nothing was resolved.

Guys, we need to do better, and we can do better. Which is why I’m writing this post. To help us, at the very least, be less douchey starting right now, and ideally, not douchey at all and even constructive and supportive, if/when we choose to participate in the online dialogues and threads that are (understandably) becoming both more frequent, and more heated, now that we have a narcissistic, openly misogynist, paleo-patriarchal asshole in the White House

(Douchey being defined as, some combination of: arrogant, defensive, entitled, ignorant, willfully ignorant, tone-deaf, explicitly or implicitly sexist or misogynist, disrespectful, and/or condescending.)

The first thing I should say in this article is that anything I know about this topic at all, I learned, unfortunately, by violating each one of the points below at different times. Then hearing very pointed and sometimes rageful feedback from women on comment boards when I violated them, then doing the typical thing of getting defensive with them, digging myself in deeper, and then finally realizing that these women were right, and were in fact taking time and emotional labor to educate me despite their upset, and then thanking and feeling grateful to them.

Specifically, several years ago, I wrote something about sex workers in the BDSM world that was intended to fit into my “brand” as an “edgy, wild, taboo-breaking writer,” but looking back, was astonishingly insensitive, and got (appropriately) attacked quite harshly. Worse, I then continued to do most of the things below (the standard playbook for guys when they feel attacked and judged), digging myself deeper into doucheland. I am very grateful to the women who volunteered their emotional labor (including what must be the frustratingly familiar emotional labor of being angry at a douche and then having him be defensive), and for patiently educating me, even through your anger and frustration. The whole process taught me to spot these things in myself and others, and (to the best of my current ability) not do them anymore.

The one thing I consistently hear women say, when men ask something along the lines of “What can I do to support you feeling more safe and respected in the world?” is something like, “Educate yourself, then educate your fellow men–because we’re sick of doing this emotional labor ourselves.” (Emotional labor will be a topic described below.)

So, this post is in that spirit. I’m by no means perfect in these regards still, or in others ways I have treated women, but I can say I’m educating myself, and I feel I’m at a point where I’m ready to do some of the emotional labor myself of talking to my fellow men about these issues, so that (I hope) some women have to do less of it.

This post is addressed to “guys” like me–you know, hetero dudes, cisgendered (another term dudes need to learn), probably white. Since I travel between the entrepreneurial worlds, the counterculture worlds, and the personal growth/spiritual “woo woo” worlds, it is primarily addressed to guys in those worlds–tech bros, groovy Burner dudes like me, and/or sensitive new age guys (SNAGS) like me who “honor the goddess” and “worship the divine feminine” and so forth. But all of this can apply to any guys.

[For those who are not “guys” reading this, I welcome any further points or clarifications you wish to contribute, if you care to do that emotional labor. But part of why I’m writing this is so that you don’t have to. I’d also like to take it upon myself to do the emotional labor of handling and educating the guys who will inevitably be triggered by this post–something I’ve repeatedly heard women say they wished men would do, rather than leaving it to women.]

I have tried as best I can to write what follows in language that I think most guys in the circles I run in can understand, without sacrificing (too much) fidelity to the way these topics are discussed by women in more explicitly feminist spaces, which is often much more nuanced and detailed than what I’m writing below. I’m sure not everyone will be totally satisfied with what’s below, and I welcome feedback, but I hope it is a solid start. (I should also add that I am not attempting to speak for women or anyone else. I am creating my own syntheis and expression, aimed towards men, of what I have learned from women.)

We guys need to get that the dialogue around these issues online has evolved a LOT over the last say 10 years, since the spread of social media, and the baseline of what is required of men to participate in dialogues online about these issues, has gone way up. It’s like entering college as a freshman, as opposed to entering high school as a freshman–we’re just expected to know more at this point. If you enter online dialogues with women about issues they feel passionate and upset about (and that I hope you feel passionate and upset about too), without demonstrating a basic-level understanding and awareness of these concepts below, you will be called a douche, and asked to STFU and leave. If you stay and persist in your doucheness, the anger coming your way will only grow stronger, and the chorus louder.

You really don’t need to have a graduate level understanding of these topics, not even a college senior level. How about a college sophomore level? That’s not too much to ask. This is roughly what women are expecting of us now (in the blue-state world, which is what I’m addressing–this stuff is way outside the purview of Trumpland- and if you’re a Trump supporter or sound like one, I will delete your comments and block you. Go fuck yourself, I have no interest in talking to you. This is a “safe space” from Trump supporters.) And if we haven’t learned these things, internalized them, and developed an intuitive ability to spot them in ourselves and others, we will be asked to return to high school, or even more likely, the kindergarten playground. That’s the level many of us are on. We need to do better.

(I should also say that almost ALL of these concepts apply, with some adjustment, to when white people start entering into dialogues about race, straight people talk about queer issues, cisgendered people talk about trans issue, or anytime a privileged person enters into a dialogue around issues pertaining to that privilege or to any marginalized/oppressed group. I should also presence that, while I believe I’ve come to a solid and intuitive understanding of these issues around gender, sexuality, and queerness, and a moderate–though not yet good enough–understanding of trans issues, I am still woefully under-educated and I think to a large degree still in denial around race and white privilege, and class privilege, something that needs to change within me as well ASAP.)

OK, enough preamble. Here are what I take to be the basic concepts we guys need to understand if we choose to participate in online dialogues about feminism/”women’s issues,” “queer issues,” and men’s transgressions as they occur in the news or within our communities.

1. Safe Spaces

We guys wince at this term. It feels to us like all the things we judge and stereotype women about: over-sensitivity, “man-bashing,” “reverse discrimination” etc. The politics of safe spaces may seem to us like it is going to ridiculous, absurd, Orwellian extremes online and in college campuses, and maybe, in some cases, it is.

But here’s the thing we guys need to get. It’s the most basic thing we need to get. Women are not feeling safe around us right now. There’s a president in power who has openly boasted about sexual assault. The most extreme forms of misogyny, queer-bashing, personal threats, harassment and stalking, disrespect, and misogynistic trolling are commonplace for all women online, and even more if they are outspoken on these or other political issues, or if they are sharing anything about their sexuality online. Women and queer and trans people still generally don’t feel safe walking around in their own cities and neighborhoods. They are still subject to daily violations of their space which feel menacing and insulting at best, or downright dangerous and violent at worst. In many quarters, we men are regressing in our awareness of these issues, and digging into defensiveness, righteousness and entitlement. A very strong backlash against the many gains and advance women and queer and trans people have won over the last several decades is forming among men, even “liberal” men.

So, can you get why women and queerfolk and trans people would want forums online (and offline) where they are not subject to these dynamics? Where they can discuss these issues and support each other, without feeling attacked, mansplained to, condescended to, belittled, disbelieved, and without having to do the emotional labor of catering to men’s emotional needs or assuaging our defense mechanisms (something they already likely have to do in their workplace and/or at home?)

You probably don’t realize just how hostile a place the online world is for women. Go look at Reddit’s Red Pill forum – which is one of the main gathering places for the misogyny wing of the alt-right. (Link in the comments- content warning: extreme and copiously detailed levels of open misogyny and bile.) There is nothing remotely comparable to this online towards men. There are a few queer/lesbian sites that advocate female separatism. There are many feminist/queer/trans spaces that want nothing to do with “cishet” men (that’s a term we cishet men need to learn and stop being so defensive about–do some googling.) There some “Male Tears” mugs for sale online. Men do not typically fare well in family courts, and white cishet men are starting to be less popular and dominant on college campuses. Men feel that there is a “trail by Internet” dynamic happening towards us around consent violations and accusations–a counterbalance to the utter humiliation and lack of justice victims have received in the legal system. But just nothing so bilious, menacing, threatening, and in-your face as what women face online and offline every day. Nothing.

If women and queer or trans people don’t want even a *molecule* of that bile in their online (and offline) reality (and they don’t), just understand and respect that. It’s really not that complicated. They want to feel safe, respected, and understood, and they want a space where they don’t feel repeatedly triggered by the same patterns from cishet men again and again, and if we can’t contribute to them having that space, then we need to leave the space.
Contribute to being a part of the solution around online misogyny, hate and disrespect, not the problem, and contribute towards the Internet (and of course the offline world) being a more welcoming, positive, affirming, and yes, safe, space for women and queer and trans people. Call out (or “call in,” another topic) men you see exhibiting misogyny, sexism, insensitivity or stupidity along the lines described in this article. Learning about all these topics is a good start. Do a lot of googling on these topics. Talk to women and queerfolk who are willing to talk with you about these topics.

2. Male fragility/male tears

Again, this seems incredibly unfair to us. There’s not a single guy out there who hasn’t been at times extremely exasperated by what we perceive to be the emotional fragility of women. We have also been repeatedly bashed, ridiculed, and shamed and had our masculinity questioned (in our childhood socialization and beyond, and including from men and women) for having feelings, or being emotionally sensitive as men–as evidence of being “wussy,” “pussy,” “gay,” “faggot,” “not masculine,” “girly,” etc. So to have our feelings around things these things further mocked, disregarded, and ridiculed, seems incredibly unfair.

But here’s the thing we need to get. Women are and feel oppressed by us as a group of people. Yes, we at times feel oppressed by them too (in relationships, dating, and some arenas like child custody, etc.) But there is a structural difference and power imbalance that is not even remotely comparable. They really don’t give a shit how it feels for us to lose some of the power and privilege our gender has enjoyed for so many thousands of years, as these vast structural imbalanced come into more balance. They really don’t. Their feelings about male transgressions and dominance and rule have been disrespected, discounted, silenced, and suppressed for thousands of years. They don’t care how we feel about their true opinions, now that they have a voice to share those opinions within social media, and without male or patriarchal gatekeepers.

I’m not going to say “suck it up and deal”–that is the same kind of shaming that we men have gotten about our own emotionality within patriarchy as well (patriarchy being, among other things, a system that devalues all traits within everyone that are perceived as feminine, with emotions and somatic/body reactions–as opposed to reason and logic, which are perceived as masculine–being the at the top of the list.)

But I am going to say, if you’re feeling hurt by how women feel towards you, individually or as a man in general, or having a difficult time, talk to your fellow men about it. Vent if you have to, offline, feel seen and heard. Maybe even by a few close women who are willing to do the emotional labor of supporting you through this process. But don’t expect strangers online to be sympathetic to how you feel about having some of the same shit we men have been heaping on women for thousands of years, heaped back on us. Return to the dialogue if/when you can do so in a calm, non-defensive, non-triggered state, ready to see how you personally, and/or men in general, have played into the power dynamics women are critiquing and complaining about.

This doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything. It doesn’t mean you have to swallow all of the feminist “party line” (by the way, hint–there is no “party line”–feminism is not a single thing but an incredibly diverse field of views and stances, many of which conflict with each other. That doesn’t mean it’s “hypocritical.” It means that women and feminists are–gasp!–human, and they disagree with each other about things, just as all humans do.)

But it does mean you will have to demonstrate a LOT (and I mean a LOT) of listening, and evidence that you have actually considered and internalized at least some of these concepts, before talking and expressing your own views. I do not believe women want men to simply be parrots to their own views. I believe women want us to bring our critical faculties and our own reason and experiences and insight towards moving past patriarchy, to be “our own man.” But, in taking pride in not just submissively parroting the views of others or any “party line,” and being an “independent thinker,” not beholden to political correctness, be sure you are not just in return parroting the same recycled tropes and argument-fragments and memes that men have been using for millennia to avoid looking at ourselves in the mirrors.

3. Emotional Labor

I’ve used this term several times before, so let me be more clear about what it means. It means, spending time/energy/frustration, etc., usually unpaid, usually by women or other people with less privilege, to handle and manage the emotions of others.

There is a much wider discussion online of women’s emotional labor in the workplace, at home, etc. (do some googling) but the specific way it plays out in online forums is that women need to do emotional labor to defend against the attacks and bile men throw at them online, particularly when talking about feminist-related issues, and pierce the defensiveness men exhibit. Many women have (as activists) taken it upon themselves to expend the emotional labor necessary to educate us men from a playground-level understanding of these issues where most of us are, to at least a college freshman level, and better yet, a college senior level. (I know I wrote a book bashing higher education, but I’m using these “grade levels” as metaphors.)

Women are sick of doing this emotional labor. It is slow and painful slogging for most of them who choose to spend their energy educating men (including for those who, I’m grateful, chose to spend their energy educating me.) Because of patriarchy, we men don’t really listen to women, not nearly enough. So this is a message to men better delivered to men by fellow men (because it provokes less defensiveness, and because we can talk guy talk, “man-to-man.”)

That means WE men need to do the emotional labor to unlearn patriarchy and contribute to post-patriarchy. There are many visions of what post-patriarchy might look like. Educate yourself, choose one of them, and (preferably under the guidance of a woman mentor in these issues) start working towards the transition. The best way you can be supportive of this transition is educating yourself, making the appropriate and necessary changes in your own life, with guidance and feedback from women and queerfolk who are willing to give it to you, and then taking the load off women in educating your fellow men. (Notice also if you are congratulating yourself for doing so, feeling your ego puffed up, seeking kudos for doing so, or to look good or sexy or seductive to women for doing so–another topic to be discussed soon.)

4. Mansplaining vs. listening.

If you notice yourself trying to explain some point of disagreement you feel really passionate about online to a woman, especially with lots of garnered facts and arguments and a sense that you’re being the “rational” or “logical” (vs. emotional) one in the dialogue, just stop. Women have been getting this shit from men for thousands of years.

Instead, listen, Listen. Listen more. Respect women’s experience and feelings about the topics. See if you can understand why they feel the way they do, and why they hold the position they hold, rather than dismissing their feelings and views.
Then, and only then, is it a good idea to venture into adding your own perspective on these topics. Notice if adding your perspective is leading to more of a sense of constructive dialogue, bridging communities, and creating alliances, or contributing to more online bile, divisiveness, and bitterness. If the latter, stop again, and listen more. Or if you have to, just leave. Mansplaining is NOT welcome anymore in spaces where women are sharing their opinions, feelings, and experiences.

Instead, let’s start reverse mansplaining–i.e., educating ourselves about these issues, and mansplaining them to our fellow men.

5. “Reverse sexism,” “both sides of the issue,” etc.

Human beings judge each other. Human beings identify in groups, and put the in-group ahead of the out-group, and develop entire ideologies or self-justifications around why the in-group deserves more attention, benefits, resources, rights than the outgroup. Human beings mistrust people in the “other” group. Human beings are incredibly prone to engaging in prejudice, stereotyping, discrimination, and out-group bashing and mistrust, along all kinds of lines.

Every human does this. There is no escaping it.

And, in the basic outlines, a lot of the judging/putting down/misunderstanding/fear/exclusion/insult feels the same, no matter what direction it’s going in. Most people find it very hurtful and triggering when they are judged. Many of the psychological features of in-group/out-group dynamics look and feel the same, no matter who the in-group/out-group is or in what direction.

All that said, some groups have MUCH more power than others. Some groups have much more power, resources, and historical precedent to cause harm than others based on their ingroup/outgroup judgments, insults, threats, beliefs, and resources.

To ignore these power imbalances, when talking about the judgements and exclusions and finger-pointing and insulting and disrespect that inevitably flies between different groups that feel threatened or hostile towards each other, is to perpetuate the power imbalances. I know very well that every side believes the power imbalance is skewed against them. And still, I stand firm in my awareness that the imbalances in regard to gender issues (not in every single specific arena, but overall) are massively in favor of men, and masculinity. That just seems unquestionable to me, and I’m not particularly interested in debating people who think otherwise, I think that belief is the starting point for the kind of work towards post-patriarchy I’m describing.

Women have been dealing with men’s judgments, prejudices, insults, misunderstandings, exclusions, and aggression towards women as an out group of patriarchy, for millennia. Do not be surprised when judgments, prejudices, misunderstandings, exclusions and aggression, insults, and anger come right back. Until women have MUCH more power in society than they do now, those judgments/prejucides/acts of disrespect or exclusion have incomparably less power to harm us, then when it’s going from us to them. That’s just a basic reality.

It hurts when people judge us, insult us, act aggressively or angry to us, show unwillingness to see our side, or impatience or contempt for our efforts to explain or defend our positions. Do the emotional labor of dealing with this hurt yourself, and with your fellow men first, and maybe with your female friends (you do have many female friends, I hope?). But don’t expect women you don’t know on the Internet to nurse and cater to your hurt, or to extend deep and compassionate listening, especially before you do so to them. They’re nursing and supporting each other through far too much of their own hurt from us not listening to them for too long.

Guys, this is work we need to do. It’s work we need to do, whether we like it or not, and whether it benefits us or not, because it’s the right thing.

That said, it’s also work we need to do for ourselves, because I sincerely believe moving beyond patriarchy will make everyone’s lives better, including our own. So there is both self-interest in making these changes, and moral interest. It’s time for us to get to work. For real.

In forthcoming posts, I will add to this list with discussions of further terms/concepts/realities we need to acquaint ourselves with and educate ourselves about, rapidly. Again, my discussion is intended as education for guys, not meant to be mansplaining towards women. We guys need to become familiar with the topics/concepts of: trigger and trigger warnings; “You’re not allowed to say that”; tone-deafness; “not all men”; women’s rage and tone-policing; spiritual bypassing; victim-blaming; “the perfect victim”; abuse; rape and rape culture; consent and affirmative consent; expecting cookies and kudos for doing basic self-education; macktivism (i.e., trying to use knowledge of these issues for seductive/attractive power); privilege; intersectionality (that’s more of a “graduate” level topic–but that’s the level the current online dialogue is among liberal women, queer, trans, and people of color, while we white liberal cishet men remain at elementary school level); prounouns and newly-labeled gender identities; feminism; and the history of patriarchy and the move towards post-patriarchy.

I’m by no means an expert in all or most of these topics, and–as all men have–I have violated many of them. But I am learning actively, and I do hope, my fellow men, that this post will be a spur to you learning as well.

In further posts I will also add resources for further education (and I welcome you posting your own you’ve found, in the comments section). For now, I will leave one resource I think every man needs to read immediately. It is written by a fellow man, and it is extremely hard-hitting. In my opinion, this book sets an extremely high bar and serves powerful guide how men need to learn about and respond to misogyny. And that book is titled, appropriately, “A Brief History of Misosgyny: The World’s Oldest Prejudice” by Jack Holland (link in the comments section.) Download it on Kindle, put it on your Audible, right away. It’s not fun reading, but we men need to do a lot of not-fun reading ASAP.


6 Annoying Cliches of “Conscious Sexuality” and How to Move Past Them

Here is my second in a series of audio interviews with Michaela Boehm, one of the most subtle, advanced and wise teachers about sexuality, spirituality, and the intersection of the two, currently teaching.

Today’s interview gets controversial- it is entitled “6 Annoying Cliches About ‘Conscious Sexuality,’ and How to Move Past Them”

In this interview, we analyze several ideas about “masculine” and “feminine” that have become dogma within teaching about conscious sexuality.

Specifically, we examine the cliches that men are supposed to be “present, deep, and on purpose” in order to be masculine, whereas women are supposed to be a “wild storm of emotions, radiant, and surrendered” in order to be feminine.

These concepts have become so ingrained in the west coast workshop and personal development culture that we rarely step back to examine where the concepts might be leading us astray.

We discuss where these ideas came from, how they are misunderstood and misapplied, and ways to think about these concepts that don’t lock people into rigid pre-defined gender roles.

In this interview (linked from the comments section), Michaela teaches us about:

5:00 – The folly of trying to teach men to become “deep and present” by teaching them to copy the body language of deep and present men, or trying to “look spiritual”
8:20 – How men can actually develop authentic, deeply-sourced presence
12:30 – The difference between emotional reactivity vs. emotional responsiveness in women
14:25 – The danger of encouraging women to show men their “kali” (destructive energy) without discernment
17:58 – How encouraging men to “penetrate” women with their “presence” can end up being a spiritualized form of invasiveness – and the danger of assuming that if a woman doesn’t “surrender” to these, that she’s “too much in her masculine”
22:00 – Why gender polarity should primarily be played out in the bedroom, and not in the rest of a relationship
34:20 – “Often the most dressed up and shiny women are not the ones who are most sensually alive”
46:01 – The problem with differentiating between “purpose” and “surrender” – because living your purpose requires surrender
46:45 – “You can only fuck well when you’re being fucked well.”
48:40 – “Beware of those whose purpose is telling you to find yours”
51:13 – The difference between purpose and goal-setting- and the folly of trying to set goals and “be accountable” for achieving your purpose
52:15 – Should we use non-gendered terms to express polarities and erotic tension? “Go vs. flow,” “Dark vs. light,” “Active vs. passive,” “Penetrating and penetrated,” “Dom vs. sub” – beyond “masculine vs. feminine”
54:36 – What is the essence of tantra?
1:01:30 – Surrender, boundaries, control, consent, and the feminine
1:11:58 – The importance of pushing sexual edges only with established partners
1:18:50 – How cultural romance narratives around “ravishing,” “being taken” and “surrender” can lead to people to disconnect from and mis-calibrate the sexual interaction and can lead to consent violations
1:22:48 – How do we reconcile our notions of romantic ravishment and “sweeping her off her feet” we see in the movies, with proper consent conversations which seem like they may take away from the spontaneity and passion?

Enjoy! I hope you find this interview as illuminating and provocative as I did.

Here’s Why a Judge Thinks Prop 60 Would Be a Horrifying Legal Precedent – Vote NO

no-on-prop-60At an event I attended last weekend, I happened to meet an actual, currently-working judge (the first judge I’ve ever met in person.) I asked her for her opinion on Prop 60, and she’d never heard of it, and she had no opinion on condoms in porn. But the more I started telling her the legal details, the more she literally started to both laugh and gasp at the outrageousness and legal absurdity of what she was hearing.

She said laws that encourage so-called “taxpayer lawsuits” initiated by citizens to sue alleged violators of regulations were common. But she had never heard of a law or proposed law that offers large financial bounties to citizens to initiate these lawsuits. She said this was an incredibly dangerous and ominous prospect, because once it passes it becomes standing legal precedent.

Why would that be bad? Because, she said, then any politician or regulator or special interest group or hate group with an ax to grind will now have a legal precedent allowing them to politicize any obscure regulation that vaguely intersects with some group they hate (immigrants, women, queer people, sex workers, abortion providers, pot growers and dispensaries, Muslims–the usual targets), and set up bounty-systems of vigilante justice to target the alleged violators.

She was particularly worried about how this would play out at the local level. Let’s say there’s one gay bar in some conservative town, and homophobic locals have been trying to shut it down for years. Well now, any bigoted members of the local government have a standing precedent to institute a large bounty for all citizens of the town to sue and harass the proprietor of the bar for even *alleged* violations of any number of minor local bar regulations and ordinances (which would normally be enforced by some local inspector, not by angry mobs of citizens), eventually overwhelming and shutting the owner down with frivolous harassment lawsuits.

The judge also had a field day with the licensing and reporting requirements in the act. She said it was totally unprecedented, and legally absurd, to require business owners to write in to an agency and affirmatively assert, under penalty of perjury, that they are following a regulation, each and every time they perform the activity being regulated.  She used an analogy of regulations in a hair and nail salon. Imagine if salon owners had to write in a letter swearing they had properly sanitized each set of scissors, etc., after each use. That would snow the business owner under a mountain of ridiculous and unnecessary reporting. That’s just not how industry regulation works, and Prop 60 is legally absurd for this reason as well.

Finally, the judge pointed out that, if Prop 60 passes, countless shady legal outfits, akin to ambulance chasers, will set up shop and initiate countless lawsuits against (female, queer, trans) porn performers. If even a fraction of these result in judgements, these legal bottom-feeders will have ample reason to spend every work day of every year harassing every porn performer they possibly can.

You could think porn is bad, and yet I hope you would STILL oppose setting up a standing legal precedent that allows hate groups and special interests to deal with societal issues by empowering angry mobs to initiate vigilante lawsuits against individual workers, incentivized by large bounties. It’s just an awful, awful precedent, for the entire state and nation, and I enjoin you to vote NO on Prop 60.

Don’t Give This Man Vast Censorship Power – Vote NO on Prop 60 in CA

No Prop 60

Imagine if one single man had the power to censor all Hollywood films showing car chases, in order to promote the message that viewers should always drive 55 MPH. Imagine if this man could censor all films showing drug use, to send a message to viewers to lead clean and sober lives. And he could censor all films showing murders or thefts, to send a message to live on the right side of the law.

In less than a week, Californians will vote whether to give one single private citizen, Michael Weinstein, head of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, such censorship powers, not in Hollywood, but in the adult film industry.

Michael Weinstein has gone on-record numerous times arguing that porn should be required to show condoms, in order to promote safer sex among viewers. In one Huffington Post article, he wrote, “The fact that most straight porn is made without condoms sends a horrible message that the only kind of sex that is hot is unsafe.”

It’s a great message. But his solution to get this message out might as well be a plot-twist in 1984, with Weinstein playing the role of Big Brother. Via absurdly disproportionate and rabidly aggressive legal manuevirng in Prop 60, is he is trying to bully an entire segment of the entertainment industry into becoming one giant PSA for his preferred message that you should always use condoms.

To force porn producers and performers to spread his health message, Proposition 60 sets up draconian fines, reaching up to $70,000, for any producer whose content shows condomless sex [section 6720.4(b)]. (Since most performers also have their own sites and cam shows selling content directly to their fans, they are mostly all producers as well, and thus this law also targets them. Which is why nearly all performers in the industry vehemently oppose to Prop 60.)

As a comparison, in California, you could commit felony arson for 30% less than that penalty (just $50,000.) And you could try to bribe a police chief or district attorney for $10,000– 85% less than the penalty uploading and selling one video clip of the kind of sex Michael Weinstein doesn’t think you should be having.

Weinstein knows that the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), the regulatory body that would be charged with enforcing Prop 60, has little interest in this issue. Cal/OSHA has to keep people who dig tunnels, build bridges and skyscrapers, and operate heavy machinery safe. In 2014 alone, there were 375 work-related fatalities in California, and not one of them on or from a porn set. There were fatalities from “violence and other injuries by person or animals” (75!), “transportation incidents” (119), and “falls, slips and trips” (72.) In contrast, there has not been a confirmed on-set transmission of HIV on a porn-set since 2004. In order to work in the industry, porn performers must undergo rigorous STD testing every two weeks, and this protocol has been working remarkably well to keep them safe.

Performers say that gutting this testing-based system, and replacing it with Weinstein’s system that relies on condoms (without required testing), will leave the performers themselves far less safe, for three main reasons. First, it does away with the mandatory testing, so performers will not know the STD status of their partners; performers find this prospect dangerous and terrifying, and far less safe than the testing-based system they’re currently using.

Second, condoms are designed for people who are only having sex for an hour or two at a time (at best!) In contrast, porn performers are often having sex for 6 hours or more in a day. Condoms cause chafing when used for that long, leading to micro-abrasions, tears, and cuts inside the vagina or anus. This makes performers much less safe when they go to work the next day.

The third reason Prop 60 makes workers less safe is more sinister. Unable to get Cal/OSHA to divert its attention from mines and bridges and factories, to porn performer’s crotches, Weinstein has hidden a dangerous and sneaky provision deep in the act. In section 6720.5, Weinstein creates a legal mechanism whereby, if Cal/OSHA doesn’t initiate action on violations of the act, private California citizens (read, Michael Weinstein and probably a whole team he’ll set up for this purpose) can sue performer/producers directly, and get 25% of the penalty as profit.

On a fine of $70,000, that would be a $17,500 bounty per violation on nearly all porn performer’s asses. With Prop 60, Michael Weinstein is trying to turn the promotion of his preferred pro-condom messaging into a highly-profitable cottage industry for himself and his cronies, at the expense of performer’s safety.

That’s a money shot that performers/producers truly need protection from. But it’s dangerous way beyond money. It would allow any overzealous fan, stalker, or religious fundamentalist nut to get the real name and home address of porn stars via this provision and harass them ceaselessly. Violence and stalking against sex workers, particularly women, trans and queer sex workers, is a real danger for them, and this law would open the floodgates to that.

It’s absolutely outrageous that a man should be dressing up his safe sex PSA crusade in the guise of protecting workers, while exposing those same workers to very serious threats of stalking and harassment. This is why the main, performer-supported site against Prop 60 is called “Don’t Harass CA.” The bill should not be called the “Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act” This title is a classic (and predictable) example of Orwellian doublespeak, as the act would actually destroy the safety of adult film workers. Instead, it should be called the “Stalking and Harassing Adult Performers Act.”

Some porn performer/producers, who know that they’re in the business of selling fantasies, and who know that viewers don’t want to see rubbers in their fantasies, might follow the law but otherwise disguise the use of condoms, edit them out, or use angles that don’t show the condoms.

Not so fast! Condom cop Michael Weinstein, in his zealousness, is trying to force every performer/producer to make sure they’re showing condoms clearly and affirmatively in their content. If a performer/produce chooses to use angles where you can’t see the condom, or otherwise disguises the use of condoms, under section 6720(h), they’re presumed to be in violation of the law, even if they were in fact using condoms. This subjects producer/performers to vastly more liability, as even the suspicion that a condom was not used could land them in court. Michael Weinstein wants to turn California into the East Germany of safer sex.

Last month, over 100 porn performers took to the streets in one of the first and only political protests by porn performers ever on the planet, to protest Prop 60 in front of Weinstein’s office. (See the photo above. There has not been a porn-performer rally in favor of Prop 60, as it’s almost impossible to find a performer in favor of it.) When an act you’ve created to supposedly protect workers, has those same workers taking a day off of their work to hold placards denouncing you on your doorstep, you’re probably on the wrong track.

There are so many reasons to oppose Prop 60. The main reason is that the people most affected by it, the workers themselves, oppose it vehemently, and we should stand in solidarity with them.

But there are also deeper political and philosophical reasons to oppose the law. This is America. If you want to promote a message of safer sex, that’s great. Hire performers (the same performers who are protesting Prop 60!) and make porn that promotes safer sex. But in America you shouldn’t be able to use strong-arm legal tactics to force an entire segment of the media and entertainment industry to become the mouthpiece for your preferred messaging about healthy living.

As Chief Justice John Roberts has written in a Supreme Court decision, “Some of this Court’s leading First Amendment precedents have established the principle that freedom of speech prohibits the government from telling people what they must say.” In America, you can’t even force schoolchildren to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. You damn well shouldn’t be allowed to force an entire industry—whose bread and butter is selling fantasies of wild sex without consequences—to take on the function of what sex-ed classes should be teaching instead (if we had any real sex-ed in this country to begin with!)

You’d probably resent if a maker of green-shake mixes forced Hollywood to replace all scenes of people drinking beer with scenes of them drinking green shakes instead. For the same reason, you should resent that a single private citizen is trying to make the entire adult film industry become one big lecture on safer sex.

Why am I so personally passionate about this issue? I’ve been hearing safer sex lectures my entire life, and for the most part I’ve followed them. I’m near-religious in my use of condoms in my own sex life. I hate using them with a passion, as they kill most sensation for me, but I recognize they’re a necessary evil. Which is precisely why, when I enter into my fantasy life, I want no sight of condoms anywhere. My fantasy life is the last place I can enjoy sex without them, and I don’t want Michael Weinstein forcing them there.

With Prop 60, Michael Weinstein is trying to insert himself, and his views about safer sex, into my own fantasies, and those of the millions of other people who watch hetero and gay porn. Porn is, after all, about fantasy. With Prop 60, Michael Weinstein is saying that a certain kind of fantasy—the fantasy of skin touching skin during sex—is so dangerous, you’re not allowed to have it (and he’s going to shut down anyone who tries to produce representations of it), lest you get any wrong ideas about what kind of sex you should be having.

Basically, Michael Weinstein is trying to mind-fuck and Dom us, without consent, inside our own fantasies, to nip at the bud any chance that we might dream or get off on watching sex the kind of sex he thinks people shouldn’t be having. Michael Weinstein is trying to become the Big Brother of our bedrooms and our sexual imaginations. Even if you don’t watch porn, or don’t watch porn with cocks in it, I still hope you’ll join me in saying HELL NO to this kind of paternalistic intrusion into the fantasy lives of millions of Americans.

In article on the AHF website arguing in favor of requiring condoms in porn, because of the “broader public health benefit” of doing so, Michael Weinstein states, “People emulate actions, behaviors, clothing, hairstyles and other things they see in mainstream movies all the time—why would it be any different with porn? From Farah Fawcett hairdos in the ’70s to kids copying Jackass movie stunts today.”

True, people do emulate actions in movies. But, because of something called the First Amendment, there are not and cannot be laws against Farah Fawcett hairdos or Jackass stunts in movies—nor should there be laws forbidding people from watching the fantasy that just maybe, somewhere on the planet, someone is fucking without a condom, and having fun while doing so.

If you care about worker safety in the adult industry, please listen to the workers themselves, and vote NO on Prop 60. You’ll be joined by the California Democratic Party and the California Republican Party, both of which officially oppose Prop 60. (When you have Democrats, porn performers, and Republicans all agreeing in their opposition to a law, you know that law must be real piece of shit. It really is.)

Prop 60 is also opposed by the editorial boards of the seven largest newspapers in the state, including the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Diego Union-Tribune and the Sacramento Bee.

Finally, if want to live in a country where private do-gooders cannot censor the content and messaging of your own entertainment choices in your own home, then please vote NO on Prop 60 (even if you really hate Farah Fawcett hairdos!)

If Prop 60 passed, it would be an ominous day for the First Amendment, and a dangerous precedent for all of America.

Please share this with your friends who live in California, and join me on election day in voting YES for Hillary, and NO on Prop 60!

The Dark Side of “Conscious Sexuality” – Interview with Michaela Boehm

I’ve interviewed famous billionaires. I’ve interviewed rock stars. I’ve interviewed NYT-bestselling authors. And yet, of all the interviews I’ve done, the one I’m most excited about is the one I’m sharing with you now.

Michaela Boehm is in my opinion the most advanced, master teacher on sacred sexuality currently teaching. For 13 years, she traveled and co-taught with David Deida, author of The Way of the Superior Man. She has now branched out to share her own unique blend of wisdom, synthesized from her 22 years of counseling practice, along with her training and experience as a lineage holder in a tantric tradition of Kashmiri Shivaism. Her private clients include Oscar-winning actors, producers, writers, and multiple Grammy-winning musicians–and now she’s sharing her wisdom with us.

As I love to do, in this interview we dove right in to the nitty-gritty – “The Dark Side of ‘Conscious Sexuality.'” I’m a student of conscious sexuality—but every scene and every philosophy has its own shadow side. What is the shadow side of the “sacred sexuality” scene? In this wide-ranging, no-holds-barred interview, we dive into the conversations no one else is having, and the things no one else is saying, around this controversial topic. Some of the topics we cover include:
2:30 – The true meaning of the “shadow side”- as opposed to how it is usually used in personal development circles

6:55 – Why “sacred sexuality” should not be used as a tool for healing

12:46 – The most important factor for healing old sexual wounding

23:00 – How so much spiritual practice ends up being a futile quest to gain love or approval from “daddy” or “mommy” in our minds- and what to focus on instead

26:11 – How so many teachers or “gurus” of spirituality and sexuality use scarcity and subtle shaming to keep students hooked on constant up-sells.

29:40 – Why the focus on “commitments” and “accountability” in Men’s Groups is misguided and ineffective, and what Men’s Groups should be focusing on instead

37:25 – How Women’s Groups often end up perpetuating the same shaming of women that the women are going into the groups to avoid, and what Women’s Groups should be focusing on instead

40:08 – The rise of the “Stepford Dakinis”

42:33 – Many women ask “Where are all the good men?” – and why asking this question is barking up the wrong tree .(The discussion we get into for the next 15 minutes is hands-down the most controversial segment of any interview I’ve ever done, watch out!)

57:36 – How can independent, strong-minded women (who are into men) find the man they want?

1:01:47 – How can a woman who wants the experience of surrender with a man, decide which man she can trust?

1:09:55 – How polyamory often bogs down and leads to “a lot more discussing than fucking”

1:16:03 – Why the tantra worlds and BDSM/kink worlds often judge each other, and how they can be integrated

1:22:15 – The single best first step for opening to the divine in sexuality Get ready to get riled up.

Join us for the discussion!

The interview is available on Soundcloud here.

Find out more about Michaela Boehm here.

Dominance for Nice Guys – With Nina Hartley and Michael Ellsberg

Around 100 million women bought 50 Shades of Grey–which means if you’re a guy, there are probably women standing around you at this very moment curious about exploring sexual submission to a man. It’s one of the biggest “open secrets” of hetero female sexuality.

If you’re an average “nice guy”—the kind that cares about women and respects them—you might think that this is not for you, that you have to be an emotionally damaged billionaire (or at least some kind of cocky alpha male asshole) to make a good Dom.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

Because the reality is, average “nice guys” have what it takes to make the best Doms.

What??!! Huh??!! Continue Reading

On-Ramps to Sexual Play

Unless it’s intentionally for procreation, sex is purely a form of play (non-goal oriented activity). Men who are into women usually want to engage in much more of this form of play with women, than they’re currently doing. But they don’t know how to go from just talking, to playing sexually, in a way that women consistently say “Hell Yes!” to.

Recently, my friend Shana James interviewed me on this topic, in a segment she titled “Stepping Into the Sexual Power That Makes Women Melt”.

This is some of what I shared with her: you can’t just go from talking, to sexual play, without something in between (obviously.) So what is that something in between? Many guys think it is a bunch of pick up lines or funny banter. But that rarely works for most men. Continue Reading

How to Be a Woman’s Best Sexy Friend

For women who are mostly into men, a woman’s best sexy friend is the sexually experienced man she can explore her sexuality with (or aspects of her sexuality that have been repressed, and that she wants to unleash) without the pressures of a relationship, and without fear of being judged or shamed for her sexuality. Often, this is in service to her finding “the one”–in service to her being totally sexually open, awakened, and alive and ready for her match.

This is different than a “fuck buddy” because I take the word *friend* VERY seriously. When you are woman’s best sexy friend, you are showing up for her first and foremost as a FRIEND–a true friend–in the realm of sexuality, and beyond. There is a code of honor for earning the privilege of being a woman’s best sexy friend–instead of being her BFF, you are her BSF–and I take that code very seriously.

–Code of Honor for Being a Woman’s Best Sexy Friend (BSF)– Continue Reading

Affirmative Consent and Erotic Tension

If I’m connecting with a woman, and it begins to go in a sensual or sexual direction, I pause for a moment and say: “I’m attracted to you, and I want to feel free to express my desire with you. And, I’m committed to you feeling totally safe and comfortable with me. So if anything I do with you tonight makes you feel even slightly uncomfortable, I want you to say ‘Stop’ or ‘Slow down’ immediately and I’ll stop or slow down.”

This almost always puts a woman I’m already connecting with at ease; she usually thanks me for saying that and tells me how much more comfortable she feels with that in place.

I then often also combine this with affirmative consent. If at any point I want to escalate the physical touch, I will look her in the eyes and say, “I want to kiss you. May I?” etc.

This means she has affirmatively agreed to any touch between us, and she knows she is totally free to stop what we’re doing at any point: we have set up a space where yes means yes, and no means no, layered on top of each other.

Which means, we are both more free to explore our desires and attractions, knowing everything is totally consensual and we can stop easily at any time. That, it turns out, is a very hot space. Continue Reading