The gentleman’s guide to going down on a woman

So it’s occurred to me that some men simply don’t know how to do this properly.  And I get it.  It’s intimidating, there’s a lot going on down there, where your own setup is pretty basic.

This is often exacerbated by the fact that women don’t often tell men what they like.

But here’s why:  Because most of you are all so wrapped up in your precious little egos, that the slightest constructive criticism is interpreted as an attack on your very manhood.  It’s ridiculous.  Laughable.

I’m serious, we literally make fun of you for that.

But it’s annoying, too.  Because now we have to find some other way to tell you what we like, and how to pleasure us better.  Most of the time, we just train you to respond to different moans.

It’s stupid.  It really is.  But we’d rather do that, because you suddenly crying in the corner, or shouting about how ultra macho manly you are, and you’re God’s gift to women, just isn’t sexy, and we wanna cum, goddammit.

So learn to take suggestion.

And then follow the fucking suggestions.

Kazander, who is actually very talented in this department, has phases where he’s just awful at the following suggestion thing.  I’ll tell him to move higher or lower, and he won’t move.  I’ll reach down and literally move his head where I want him, and as soon as I let go, he’ll go back to his original spot.

I have literally held him in place by grabbing fistfuls of his hair.

And that’s not fun.  It’s distracting, it’s annoying, and it makes it take even longer for me to cum.

He’s far from the only guy to do this, too.  He just has phases now and then.  I’ve been with guys where it was a constant battle.

That’s not sexy, okay.  It’s frustrating.  And if I’m frustrated, chances are I won’t be all that interested in giving you anything you may want.

Follow directions.  If we tell you to move a certain direction, do it.  If we move you to a certain place, fucking stay there.

Also, and I’ve actually only had one guy who didn’t do this, all the rest of you are just terrible at it, but when you do something we like, don’t fucking change it up right as we’re about to cum.

Jesus fucking Christ, that’s the most annoying thing ever.  I finally asked a guy why he did it, and he said it was kind of like a big finishing move.  He was trying to make the build up more intense.

Ugh.  No.

Unless we specifically tell you to go faster or harder, don’t do it.  Obviously, what you’re doing is working.  We’re getting close.  We’re about to cum.  More often than not, when you try to do your “big finish,” it either ruins our orgasm (yes, women can have ruined orgasms, too) or completely derails it and now you have to start over.

When what you’re doing is working, don’t change it.

Also, it’s a tongue, not a fucking shovel.  Too many times, guys get way too rough, way too fast.  My clit is attached, m’kay.  Don’t try to dig it up out of my body.

It’s a hell of a lot more sensitive than you think, a hell of a lot more sensitive than anything on your body.  So be gentle with it.  If she tells you she wants you to go harder or faster, then do it.  Otherwise, start out slow and gentle.

The mindset seems to be that the faster and harder you go, that faster she’ll cum.  Yeah, it doesn’t work that way, literally at all.

It only just doesn’t even feel good.  And it’s distracting.

Be patient, take your time, and she’ll cum a lot faster than if you try to rush it or get super aggressive with it.

And try to keep the noises to a minimum.  Unless she wants you to, don’t do any moaning, and for God’s sake, don’t make any slurping or lip-smacking noises.  If you sound like a cow, that’s not sexy.  It’s distracting.

You want her focused on how good everything feels, not all the other shit.

I’ve also seen a lot of guys who just don’t know how to use their tongue at all.  Like, it’s been so bad, I just made a couple of guys stop, because it was a waste of time.

The alphabet thing is stupid and cheesy, but it works for someone who is unsure or just learning how.  It’s a good starting point.  Just don’t use the very tip of your tongue.  Often, that’s just too much pressure, and goes back to the too-hard-too-fast-doesn’t-feel-good thing.

Once she cums, don’t just suddenly stop.  Women’s orgasms last longer than men’s, and if you stop right as she starts cumming, it just falls off and basically feels like a ruined orgasm.  Super disappointing.

Keep going through the orgasm.  Go with the previous rule.  Just keep doing exactly what you were doing to make her cum.  Wait until the orgasm is over to stop.

And then, when she’s had a few minutes to relax, ask her if there’s anything she wishes you had done differently.  She should be more willing to tell you now, after she came.  Because hell, she came already.  It doesn’t really matter if you throw a fit because she gave you constructive criticism.  She already got what she wanted.

But she’ll also be in a very mellow, relaxed, good mood, so she’ll likely be very gentle and tactful in how she says things.  Just take her suggestions to heart, and next time, you’ll have a better idea of what to do.

Like with all things, practice, practice, practice.

Reining in my inner bitch

So Kazander has this friend.  And the first time I met him, he was nice enough, I guess.  I drove him home after the Super Bowl because he was breathtakingly drunk, and told him I’d disembowel him with a plastic spork if he puked in my car.

But then, the more time I spent around him, the less I liked him.  When he refused to let me join the fantasy football league he’d invited Kazander to join, citing “No Chicks” as the rule, my opinion of him plummeted.

Because the poor boys just can’t handle a woman doing better than them, apparently.

I was beyond annoyed, and immediately lost pretty much all respect for him.  But I was civil and polite.  He has a daughter around the spawn’s age, that the spawn actually likes (in small doses, the kid is a huge brat, and even the spawn would lean over and whisper in my ear, “She doesn’t have very good manners, does she, Mommy?”), and the spawn has a birthday coming up (she wants a haunted house theme for her birthday party, which is super easy to do in fucking August), and she doesn’t have a lot of friends her age (mostly because I can’t fucking stand kids her age), so I’m trying to be nice.

The other day though, and then today, it took every ounce of willpower I have to refrain from unleashing my inner psycho-Domme crazy bitch on him.

It started when he made a stupid mistake, and yet another sexist remark.

I was talking about my dream car, which, as all my longtime readers know, is a Dodge Charger Hellcat.  Which may be considered odd, given my penchant and passion for sports cars and muscle cars, as the Charger is neither.

Sorta.

It’s a sedan.  But it’s a sedan with 707 horsepower, a top speed of 204 mph, and can complete 1/4 mile in 11.0 seconds.

Yeah, it’s faster than its Challenger brother (all cars are boys in my head.  Not girls.  ‘Cuz I’m a rebel).  Because, as it turns out, and this was totally unexpected by the designers of the car, the longer body makes it more aerodynamic than the Challenger.

It only comes with an automatic transmission, which makes me sad, but I’m somewhat consoled by the degree to which you can customize how and when the gears shift by programming it.

AND…

Let’s compare it to some other cars, shall we?  We know that the Charger Hellcat has 707hp, 204mph top speed, and insanely enough, it costs about 65 grand.  It can also seat 5 people.

Conversely, the Lamborghini Aventador Pirelli has 691 hp (slightly lower), a top speed of 217 mph (slightly higher), sits 2 (slightly lower), has a V12 engine (even more of a gas guzzler than the Charger) and is a steal at $400,000 (just slightly higher).

And Ferrari, the Starbucks of supercars (I say that because, while Starbucks is indeed very good, it is undeniably overpriced and they seem to care more about merchandising and their logo than they care about the product.  There is a Ferrari watch, a Ferrari camera, and – and this is true – a fucking Ferrari Segway, for fuck’s sake.  Jesus Christ), struggles to keep up, too.  The cheapest one you can get, pretty much the only one someone who isn’t a millionaire would be likely to get, is the California T, which starts at $200,000.  And it seats 2, has a top speed of 196 mph, and 550 hp.

A fucking Charger sedan can hold its own against names like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and MacLaren.  For under $70,000.

I mean, are you kidding me?

Of course, one must remember that the Ferrari, Lamborghini, and MacLaren are specifically designed not just to go fast with a shit ton of power, but to stay on the road when you take turns at high speeds.  The Charger has the power and the speed, but not the control and precision of the cars 5 times the price.

M’kay, cool.  But I don’t want a car that costs 3 grand a month to maintain and I can’t park in any parking lot, because I don’t have all that much faith in human beings.  The Charger Hellcat is very unassuming and doesn’t draw a lot of attention to itself (when it’s parked and turned off), because it’s a sedan, and it says Dodge Charger on it, and most people just assume it’s a regular family car.

I’m seriously rambling.  The point is I love that fucking car, and I was talking about all the things I love about it.  Sexist Douche heard me going on and on about it (I can occasionally ramble a bit) and got all super condescending and said, “Are you serious?  You couldn’t handle that car in daily life.  Do you know how horsepower works?”

Oh, you poor, silly little man.

Kazander sensed me getting ready to let loose, and let out a groan as soon as Sexist Douche uttered the words.  He knew I wasn’t going to let that go.

But first of all, what???  Do I know how horsepower works?  What the hell kind of question is that?  How do you even answer a question like that?  That’s like asking, “Do you know how counting works?”

Do I know what horsepower is?  Yeah, bro.  It’s a unit of measurement, invented by James Watt a long time ago (honestly, I don’t remember when, and don’t care enough to look it up.  The fact that I can name the inventor is usually enough to shut up the assholes who think boobs make it impossible to know about cars), defined as the amount of coal a single horse can lift out of a mine in one minute (or 33,000 foot-pounds).

Do I know what horsepower measures?  Yeah, bro.  It measures the total power and acceleration of an operating car.  As opposed to brake horsepower, which measures the total output of the engine, without all the shit that an operating car has attached to the engine that slow it down.

So I mean, no one can match me at getting condescending.  I’m a master of it.  And I took great, childlike joy in utterly humiliating him.

And for the record, no, I’ve never driven a car with 707 hp.  I did, however, handle a 562 hp Lamborghini Gallardo pretty well, with a very respectable lap time, above average for the day (and one of the employees told me I and the woman with me were the only females there that day).

Also, just by the way, I made my goddamn living handling a 600 hp diesel Cummings 18-speed engine pretty fucking well.

He thinks he’s special?

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No, ladies and gentleman.  That is not an 8-speed.  I know there are 8 numbers there, but you see those little H’s and L’s?

Um…  Yeah…

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Can he figure out what range and what gear he needs to be in, hauling 80,000 pounds, on a 6% incline?  Or worse, a 6% downgrade?  Engine brakes won’t do shit for you at that point.  And it won’t take much to burn out your brakes and lose them completely.  With the company I worked for, if you ever lose control and need to use one of those truck runaway ramps, you immediately get fired.

Because it does a lot of damage to a truck they’re still likely making $900 per week (no, that’s not a typo.  $900 per week) payments on, and it’s a completely preventable disaster.  If you ever need a runaway truck ramp, you fucked up pretty spectacularly.

When you’re that heavy, with all the fucking roaches (roaches are 4-wheeled cars, and to all my readers, please know that I say this as lovingly as possible: you all piss us the fuck off, literally every time you drive.  Stop being a dick to truck drivers.  They work 11-14 hour shifts, they get paid pennies per mile, and the entire country would literally lose its fucking shit if truck drivers ever go on strike.  Vegas would be dead in days.  We rely on trucks for pretty much everything.  And you cannot demand a service while simultaneously being a dick to those who provide that service, m’kay.  You like living in literally any city in the country?  Want to continue being able to buy food in that city on a somewhat regular basis?  Don’t be a dick to truck drivers.  Unless you live on a farm or across the street from a cattle ranch, you will literally starve without them), it’s hard to maintain a slow enough speed.  Going fast is bad for semis on downgrades.  The brakes will literally catch fire.

I have no idea what I was originally talking about.

Oh yeah…

So I cheerfully humiliated the Sexist Douche.  And, naturally, as most Sexist Douches do, he backed off and crawled away with his tail between his legs when he realized I knew more about cars than he does.  End of story.

Until today.

I had to play Designated Driver today, and we had actually seen a Challenger Hellcat on the way there, so I was totally gushing about it. I was talking to the FIL about it when none other than Sexist Douche walked up.

He inserted himself into the conversation, but he was decidedly less douche-y, so I engaged with him.  We got on the topic of Mustangs, the Harley Davidson of sports cars (I say that because people who don’t know anything about motorcycles – of which I am one – think that Harleys are extremely powerful and fast, the elite of the elite.  But they’re not.  They just have the iconic name and the iconic shape.  Much like the Mustang.  But don’t get me wrong, there’s this attitude that you’re not allowed to like what you like if it’s not the absolute best in the world, and that’s stupid.  You like the Mustang?  Awesome.  It’s popular for a reason.  Harley is popular for a reason.  Cool.  Drive the hell out of it.  Enjoy it.  Just don’t pretend it’s something it’s not.  Same with the Ferrari.  Lots of people like it.  It’s popular for a reason.  Starbucks is popular for a reason.  Cool.  Drive the hell out of it.  Enjoy it.  Just don’t pretend it’s something it’s not).

And for awhile, it was going fine.  Until

“Well, Mustang’s biggest problem is that it became a bitch car.”

“A what?”

“A bitch car.”

I assumed he meant that the car was wimpy, or it didn’t have a lot of power.

Oh, but he wasn’t done.

“No offense.  But it’s just that a lot of women started driving them.  So, like, real gearheads lost interest, and ever since then, Mustangs in general have just gone downhill.”

Wait, what?

What the actual fuck, you unbelievable misogynist asshole?

I honestly didn’t even know what to say to that.  I was basically just done with him as a human being.  I was over it.

I realized that nothing I, or any woman, could ever say would change his perception of us.  He sees us as an intrusion on the car enthusiast world.  Something to be tolerated, at best.  He will never take me, or any other woman, seriously.  Girls stick to girl stuff, while boys stick to boy stuff.

thought I had opened his eyes a few days ago, when I revealed that I knew more about horsepower than he did.

And for anyone who’s never experienced that, it really is just such a shitty feeling.  It’s the same feeling I get whenever I take my car to the shop by myself and the mechanic scoffs and laughs when I tell him I replaced the O2 sensor.  When he says, “You replaced it?  You?”

It just makes you feel so invalidated, and helpless, because there’s nothing you can ever do about it.  You can’t just stop being a woman.

And it’s just another reminder that you’re going to have to deal with this for the rest of your life.  You can’t win.  If you “stick to girl stuff,” you’ll be belittled because you’re “just a woman,” of course you don’t know things like how to change a tire.

But if you take an interest in “boy stuff,” you’ll be belittled because the boys will never take you seriously.  You’ve got to know more, you’ve got to work harder, you’ve got to hold yourself to higher standards than a guy in that field.

Most men don’t know the difference between horsepower and brake horsepower, for example.  It’s just not something that’s super important, in the big scheme of things, because it’s more a theoretical measurement, than anything else.

But if I were to be talking to a gearhead, and he mentioned brake horsepower, and I didn’t know the difference, it would be “just another reason why girls just don’t know anything about cars.”

When I was dealing with the shit with the leukemia, my doctor, who is actually really good, I like him a lot, at one point tried to tell me my symptoms were because of “stress.”

Which, let’s be honest, is just this century’s version of female hysteria.

I asked him how many men he’s said that to, how many men have come into his office with any number of symptoms, and were told the cause was “stress.”

And you could watch him realize just how many women he’s said that to, and how few men he’s said it to.

And to be fair, he immediately retracted the comment and started taking me seriously.  Four-ish months later, I had a leukemia diagnosis.

It’s everywhere, it really is.  Thankfully, the majority of men, when they realize they’re doing it, immediately stop and correct.  Because it’s not something they do with any kind of malicious intent or because they don’t respect me.  It’s simply because society has ingrained certain attitudes and mindsets into the heads of everyone, men and women, and it’s not always easy to recognize it.

So most of the time, it’s not a problem.  Most people are generally decent and good human beings, and most people, when they realize that they are belittling another human being because that human being has boobs, they are quick to correct.

But then you have the Sexist Douches, who are either too stupid to understand, or too pathetic and small-minded to care about the fact that they are belittling another human being.

As is obviously the case with this Sexist Douche.  I mean, really, what’s the point of continuing that conversation?  What’s the point of giving him any of my time?  If he still belittles women, even after I showed that I have an extensive knowledge of both supercars and American muscle cars, when I could meet him as an equal as we debated whether a Shelby GT500 is better than a Charger Hellcat, even after I established myself as his equal on the subject of supercars (we were talking about horsepower, and he mentioned the Bugatti Veyron.  I rolled my eyes and said, “Sure, if we’re looking at that kind of car, we might as well just go with the Pagani Huayra.”  He said, “Yeah, but the emission system isn’t street legal.  You’d have to modify it.  And that’s like ten grand.”  I laughed and said, “Yeah, so if you have the kind of income that warrants spending 1.5 million dollars on a car, ten thousand dollars to modify the exhaust is just too far out of budget.  But why stop there?  The Huayra BC is street legal, and only about double the price.”), even after all that, he still sees me as beneath him, then there’s just nothing I can do or say.

I could build him a fucking MacLaren P1, from the ground up, using parts from a Bugatti Chiron and a Ferrari Pininfarina Sergio, because why the hell not, by myself, in 12 hours, and he’d still look at me as less than him.

Those are some of the most expensive cars in the world, by the way.  And I want to think only like 10 of the Ferrari were ever made.  Kinda hard to find, even if you happen to have 3-ish million dollars lying around.  And that MacLaren is fucking sexy.

But the point is, it just doesn’t matter what you do or say.  People like that will never change.

Jesus fucking Christ, and this guy has a daughter.

I kind of understand why the kid is such an obnoxious little shit, now.

No, but in all seriousness, I actually, legitimately, genuinely am heartbroken for her.  Because she’s going to grow up with a man who constantly belittles and demeans her.  She’s going to grow up thinking that she’s not good enough, she’ll never be good enough.

And what’s more, she’s going to grow up thinking that’s what a man is supposed to be.  So she’s going to end up with a stupid, pathetic, small-minded misogynist loser just like him.  And the saddest part is that, because she won’t know any better, she’ll let that stupid, pathetic, small-minded misogynist loser treat her like shit.

I’m a grown ass woman.  I can handle the misogynist douchebags.  But to be brought up like that?  It just sucks.  It really just fucking sucks.

To reproduce or not to reproduce

Jen,

Long time reader, first time writer.  I really love your blog and how matter of fact you are with everything, it’s so refreshingly honest.

I’m 28, my husband is 26, and we’ve been married for about three years and both of our parents have been pressuring us to have kids.  Aside from the fact that we’re two gay men and that process is a bit more involved than with a straight couple, there are a number of things that make us hesitate to go through with it.  Most notably, and maybe most selfishly, we like our life.  We like having time to ourselves.  We like being able to do things on our own schedule.  Most of our friends have kids and it’s all “I need to check with my sitter” and “I need to get back and relieve the sitter” and “I have a soccer game that day.”

And that’s not to mention the kink aspect.  I’m mostly submissive to my husband and one of the things I love is the spontenaity.  I could literally be sitting on the bed folding laundry and he’ll walk in, grab me by my hair, and just start fucking my face, just without a word.  Or I could be putting dishes away and he’ll walk in, bend me over the counter, and just start fucking me.  It’s one of my favorite things about our sex life.

You’ve talked about having a kid and how it has impacted your kink life.  I’m really just looking for an honest, matter of fact answer because everywhere I look all I see is stuff about how kids are the most amazing thing ever and “Oh I wasn’t complete until I had kids” and “You haven’t lived until you’ve had kids” and honestly, it’s all just overwhelming.

I need someone who can be honest with me, who can tell me the good and bad, and can tell me if it’s worth it.  I need someone who can tell me what life as a kinky parent is like without all the ooh-ing and ahh-ing that everyone does.

Please, anything would help.  And thank you so much.

Will

Will, dear, I actually take quite a bit of pride in saying this: You’ve come to exactly the right place.

And before I get into all this, I do want to do the obligatory I-love-my-kid thing.  In my specific case, yes, I think it’s worth it.  It comes with some pretty major fucking caveats, and some massive fucking disadvantages, but at the end of the day, I’m glad my kid is here, and if I could go back 7 years and do it again, knowing all the disadvantages and bullshit that goes along with parenthood, I’d still do it exactly the same way.

But what’s right for me may not be right for you.  And the only one who can make that decision is you.

Yes, having a kid will have a massive impact on your life, including (and perhaps especially) your kink life.  That spontaneity will all but disappear.

I mean, it won’t disappear completely.  You’ll learn, and your husband will learn, to be more opportunistic.  The kid is taking a nap.  Cool, come ride my cock.  Quickies in the bedroom while the kid is watching Barney, a quick blowjob in the shower in the morning before waking the kid up, a hurried, frenzied fucking before work while you’re making the coffee, I mean, there are ways around it.

But nothing really prepares you for that kind of loss of freedom.  Even when I was pregnant, I could still go where I wanted, when I wanted, and do what I wanted.  I could get up and go to the grocery store.  I could go out to dinner.  I could go to munches and play parties and doctor appointments and whateverthefuck I wanted.  I mean, I had limitations placed on me because of the complications with my pregnancy, but you get the general gist of it.

I had no damn idea.  And that was the first big revelation I had about my new reality as a parent.

Once she was born, even things like running out to get a quick lunch at a drive thru became an event.  It took planning.  Forethought.  And going out to dinner?  Yeah, that wasn’t something we could decide to do on a whim.  At 5:30pm, I couldn’t turn to my husband and say, “I don’t feel like cooking.  Let’s go out instead.”  We had to make arrangements.  Plans.  All the shit your friends say about sitters?  I’ve said those exact words so many times, it’s comical.

And let me just tell you right now: babies fucking suck.  I mean, you’ll either be adopting or using a surrogate, so there are some things (like breast-feeding vs formula, and then breast-feeding in public) you won’t have to worry about, but that doesn’t mean you get a free pass.  Midnight feedings, lack of sleep, exhaustion, frustration, resentment of the baby and/or each other, I mean, it’s fucking brutal.

Neither of you will be feeling very horny those first few months.  Newborns are the worst kind of baby.  They suck the hardest.  Every spare moment you get, all you’ll want to do is sleep.  Luckily, that part only lasts a few months, and then things start getting easier.

I love my kid, okay, and I loved her when she was a baby.  But I can also be completely honest.  There’s not a whole hell of a lot about the first six months of her life that I can look back on as a positive memory.  I mean, her first smile was awesome, her first laugh was amazing, watching her personality develop was fantastic, and really helped me bond with her.

That’s one thing you might actually be spared from, I’m not entirely sure.  Unfortunately, I don’t know many gay men who have kids, so I don’t know.  But for me, and many mothers, there’s this assumption and expectation that you’re supposed to be completely, 100% in love with your kid from the moment it leaves your body.  I don’t know if you’ll experience that expectation, but I imagine you’ll get at least a portion of it.  If you go through a surrogate, you’ll likely be expected to love it just as much as a biological mother would, from the moment it’s born, and if you go through adoption, you’ll likely be expected to love it just as much as a biological parent would, from the moment you sign the papers.

Either way, I’m going to do you a favor right now, and tell you that it’s completely bullshit.  I mean, I know even less about adoption than I do about surrogacy, so I’m just going to write the rest of this assuming that you decide to go through a surrogate.  I’m also going to write it from the perspective of a biological mother, since that’s the only perspective I can speak on with any degree of authority.  Obviously there will be things that are different with adoption, and with you being fathers, but I imagine the gist is about the same.

But there’s this expectation that you’re supposed to be completely in love with the kid from the jump.  And for some people, I guess that’s what happens.

It sure as hell didn’t happen for me.

I mean, I wasn’t completely indifferent to her, it wasn’t like that.  I’d been waiting for her for 9 months.  I’d been feeling her growing and moving around (and kicking the shit out of me, consider yourself lucky you don’t have to deal with that).

The point is, some people fall in love with their kids right away, and some don’t.  I didn’t.  Hell, I didn’t know her.

And then of course there was the guilt, because I didn’t fall in love with her instantly, that I must be a terrible mother, and then all the baggage with my own mother made its way to the forefront of my hormone-crazed mind, and what was I thinking, and what have I done, and how badly am I going to fuck up this poor kid?

Now I know it’s all bullshit.  You may not feel anything for the kid right away, and that’s fine.  I personally was reassured when the IV they had in her leg (she had to stay in the NICU for a week) started causing her pain.  I saw it, I recognized the IV burn, and I told the nurses.  Who promptly ignored me.

And then the mama bear instincts kicked in, and I went on a rampage until her next scheduled dose of antibiotics, where they realized, “Hey, it’s an IV burn,” and moved the IV.

She still has a scar from it, by the way.  Almost 6 years later.

So that was reassuring for me, because even though I didn’t really love her the way people say a mother is supposed to love her newborn, she was still mine, and I would do whatever it took to protect her.

So that’s something I tell new mothers, and it’s something I’ll tell you, too.  You may not be completely smitten with your kid right away, and that’s fine.  You don’t have to be.  You don’t know anything about the kid.  It’s a complete stranger.  It’s fine.  Because if something happens, if the kid needs you to protect it, those instincts will kick in and you’ll do what it takes without a second thought.  It’ll just come naturally.  Whether you’re a mother or father, whether the kid is biologically yours or not.

Because even though you didn’t carry it, and even if you don’t share a biological connection, you know that’s your kid, and if it needs you, it’ll flip the same switch in your brain that it flipped in mine.

We carry so much guilt as parents, because we put having kids up on this pedestal, and it’s all just stupid.  I’m glad I had my kid, I think she’s worth all the bullshit that comes with reproducing, but I can admit that there are parts of parenthood that just suck.

But while I didn’t feel that connection to her immediately, and I resented her more often than not, I did enjoy watching her learn, watching her personality develop, and that’s where we really started bonding.  That was really special, and for me, that’s the one thing that made all the other hell worthwhile.

Once they leave the baby stage, it’s easier.  And now, she’s almost 6, and she can do things independently, she does chores, she can hold conversations and she’s actually really into politics, interestingly enough.  I mean, it’s all got to be watered down, she’s fucking five, so there’s a lot that goes over her head.  But she does not like Trump.  Which is an opinion she formed on her own, independent of my thoughts or Kazander’s thoughts of the man.  I mean, she knew he was the president, and she’d seen a couple of interviews and speeches from Obama (most notably his Thanksgiving speeches, with all the dad jokes), but that was about all she knew.

It started when we were in NC, in the hospital room with my mom, who was watching a press interview with Trump.  I didn’t think she was paying attention, I was too appalled and disgusted to notice that she was actually watching, until she said, “Mommy, he’s mean.”

I said, “Yes, baby, he sure is.”

“I don’t like him,” she declared.  “You’re not supposed to be mean to people.  Especially if you’re the president.”

“You’re absolutely right.”

“I miss the old president.  He was nice.”

“I miss him too, baby.”

So she, quite proud of her new opinion of the president, started telling everyone she met.  Which was fucking adorable, okay.

The problem is that a small town in North Carolina is probably not the best place to voice that particular opinion.  Reactions ranged from awkward silence to dismissal to feigned cheerfulness.  And she picked up on that, and started to doubt herself, so a few days later, she said, “Well, I like him a little bit.”

“What?  Why?”

“Well, he’s the president.  You’re supposed to like the president a little bit.”

“No the fuck you’re not,” I corrected.  “You’re supposed to respect him a little bit.  There’s a big difference.  You don’t have to like him at all.”

“You don’t?”

“Not even a little bit.  I don’t like him, either.  And neither does Daddy.  You absolutely do not have to like him, and you don’t have to support him or stick up for him.  He’s a cruel man, and I will never like a cruel man, even if I have to respect him, or even if other people like him, or even if I feel like I’m supposed to like him.  If you want to like him, that’s your choice.  But there has to be something more to like about him than him just being the president.”

That made her feel better.

So I mean, it’s fun now.  She can have these kinds of conversations, she can develop opinions of her own.  She says she wants Michelle Obama to be the next president, and she was quite irritated when she found out that she won’t be allowed to vote in 2020.

Seeing the world through the eyes of a little kid is pretty fucking awesome, too.  You kind of realize how jaded and cynical you are, and it’s so refreshing to sort of let go of that for a little while, and look at the world completely differently.

But there is one thing I’m noticing here, in reading your email.  And I mean, forgive me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like you don’t even really want to have kids.

So if that’s the case, I’ll do you a favor now, and tell you this:

You do not have to have kids.  At all.  Ever.  Like, literally ever.

I know exactly that attitude you’re talking about, and I despise it.  Every time someone said that bullshit to me, about how I’m “not complete” until I’m a mother, I wanted to hit them in the face with a chair.

Uh, no.  I was not an incomplete human being before my spawn was born, m’kay.  I am more than just a baby-making machine.  That is just as true for you and your husband, even though neither of you will actually be carrying the baby.  You are two whole, complete, autonomous people.  You do not have to reproduce in order to be human.  You are more than a series of chemicals and DNA that must be passed down to another generation.

That being said, I’m my father’s oldest child, and he came from a very old-fashioned Mexican family.  Legacy was and is a big deal.  He could trace his roots back a dozen generations.  He instilled in me the spirit of our family, and that as his eldest child, it’s my job to carry that on.  I mean, shit went a little sideways, so that fell off a bit, but the attitude is still there.

The point is, having been brought up like that, I mean, family was everything, legacy was everything.  So yeah, I felt obligated to carry that on in a way my little sister and my cousins never really understood.

Because I’m the oldest child of my grandparents’ oldest child.  In an old-school Mexican family.  Yeah dude, I was told basically from birth that it was my job to carry on the family line, and have lots of babies.  I have male cousins to carry on the name, but it was my job to carry the legacy.

So that was great.

But there’s this pressure to reproduce, this idea that reproducing is the end-all, be-all of existence, and that’s all just utter bullshit.

“Oh, you haven’t lived until you’ve had a child.”

“Your life isn’t complete until you’ve had a child.”

“I didn’t know what love was until I had my child.  You have no idea what real love feels like until you have a child.  Your life is just empty.”

Jesus Christ, shut the fuck up.

I mean, honestly, how much does your life has to suck to think that you were incomplete before you had a kid?

I kinda liked my life before the kid was born.

Sure I like who I am as a mom, I’m damn good at being a mom, it’s a role I take a great deal of pride in, but I also liked who I was before my kid was born.

And some of the bullshit was ridiculous.  I remember, early in my pregnancy, before I even started showing, I wore a T-shirt that had Cartman on it, from South Park.  My mom saw it and said, “You know you’re not going to be able to wear that once the baby is born.”

Um, what?

“Why the hell not?”

“Well, that show isn’t really appropriate for kids.  And you won’t be able to curse, either.  You have to change a lot when you have kids.”

Yeah, fuck everyfuckingthing about that.

I’m not going to stop being who I am just because I made a person, m’kay.  I don’t lose who I am, I don’t become reduced to nothing but my spawn’s mother.  I still curse, I still watch South Park, I still drink, I still party and have fun, I still am who I am.

And my kid understands that some words I say are “grown up words,” and she will be able to say them when she’s a grown up.

Which works.  She just doesn’t curse.  Even though I curse all the time around her, and even when I’m talking to her.  I talk to her the same way I talk to anyone else.  I don’t pretend to be something I’m not around her, and I’m not going to change who I am as a person because she exists.

I haven’t changed who I am, I just added “Mom” to it.

And I’m still not a kid person.  I still hate other people’s kids.  I love my kid to death, I think she’s fucking awesome, and I get compliments on her behavior all the time, because I believe in discipline, goddammit, and I’m not going to raise an obnoxious heathen who cannot sit quietly in a waiting room, or who annoys the hell out of people on an airplane, or who screams and throws tantrums in a grocery store, or who whines and throws shit in restaurants.

So I love my kid, but I am not and will never be a “kid person.”

You don’t have to change who you are when you have a kid, because there is nothing “missing” without them.  I mean, if you want kids, and you honestly do feel like something is missing without them, then cool.  But not everyone feels that way.  I didn’t feel that way.

There’s nothing wrong with not having kids, if you don’t want to have kids.  You sound like you’re happy with your life, like you enjoy the life you and your husband share.  If you don’t want to change it, then don’t.

You like having free time and disposable income?  Feel like giving it up for the next 18 years?

Right now, you can literally be driving in the car with your husband, and you may drive past a new restaurant that just opened up.  And you can turn to your husband and say, “Hey, that place looks nice.  We should check it out.  We can go literally any time we want to.”

Giving all that shit up is not something you should do on a whim, or because your families tell you that you should, or because you feel like that’s what people are supposed to do when they’ve been married for a while.

If your families are pressuring you to have kids, tell them to fuck off.  I got it when my kid was about 2, and everyfuckingbody and their damn dog suddenly were all like, “Well, it’s time for a sibling!  You’re going to give her a little brother or sister, right?  Isn’t it time to get started on that?”

“Uh, no.”

“What?  She needs a sibling!”

“She really doesn’t, actually.”

“Kids are always happier with siblings.”

“They are?  Well shit, I never got that memo.”

“They’ve done studies.  You need to give her a little sibling.  It’s better for her developmentally.  Besides, you’re not really a parent until you have more than one.”

“Oh wow, I’m not?  I never knew that.  Well fuck, and I’ve spent the last two years raising this thing for no reason, then.”

Holy fucking shit, dude.  And no, none of that is even remotely an exaggeration.  I literally did have people try to guilt me into reproducing again, and I literally had people tell me I’m not a real parent because I only have one.

Just ignore them, or tell them to fuck off.  They’ll shut up eventually.  After about a year of those kinds of conversations, I started getting less and less tactful.  They stopped after awhile.  I haven’t heard any of that bullshit for… shit, probably 2 years, now?  Something like that.

Don’t let people pressure you into having a kid if you don’t want one.  You don’t have to have kids.

I mean, I can’t tell you whether you should or shouldn’t.  That’s not a decision anyone can make except you and your husband.  And for me, yeah, it worked out, and I love it, and I think my kid is one of the coolest people on the planet, and she’s more than worth all the disadvantages and all the limits it places on my time and my kink life.

For me, yeah it’s worth it.

Is it worth it for you and your husband?  That’s not something I can answer.

Beauty and the Beast

One of the longest running subjects Kazander and I bicker about is the fact that I love musicals and Disney movies.

Although he can’t say much about the Disney thing anymore, because he likes Force Awakens and Rogue One.

Disney knows their shit, y’all.  They generally don’t fuck shit up.

But the classic Disney Princess movies have caught a lot of shit, and 90% of it is completely undeserved.

One of the movies that catches the most hell is actually my favorite Disney Princess movie: Beauty and the Beast.

You hear people criticize this movie all the time, how it’s an example of Stockholm Syndrome, how it encourages women to stay in abusive relationships, hoping that the boyfriend will change, etc.

As far as the abusive thing goes, really?  You think a damn Disney movie will turn a woman into an abuse victim?

It just goes to show how truly ignorant some people are when it comes to the psychology of abuse victims.  But because I don’t want to turn this into a 10,000-word psychology lesson, we’re just going to sum up what I would’ve written and say that no, that claim has no basis in reality whatsoever, because facts, m’kay.

And the Stockholm Syndrome thing is the product of gross oversimplification, and completely misses the point of the movie, and annoys the ever-loving hell out of me.

First, you have to remember that Disney did not come up with the story.  Like all the other Disney Princess movies, Beauty and the Beast was based on an old fairy tale.  They made it more kid-friendly, as they do (you have a problem with Sleeping Beauty?  Check out the original fairy tale.  Holy shit, dude.  Disney’s version is a feminist anthem compared to the original).

Although Disney did break from its normal pattern, and actually made the Beast more aggressive and scary than he is in the original.

The original Beast isn’t aggressive or scary or angry.  Instead, he’s depressed and emo, and he wasn’t cursed for turning a homeless woman away, he was cursed because a sorceress tried to rape him when he was 16, and when he fought her off, she basically did the if-I-can’t-have-you-I’ll-make-it-so-no-one-wants-you thing.

The live-action Disney remake made the Beast slightly more like the original, and in my opinion, it just doesn’t work as well with Disney’s version of the story.  Disney’s Beast needs to be aggressive and angry and hostile.

But politically correct people don’t like that, so they toned him down, and the scene where Belle runs away after the Beast finds her in his room (which is one of the most important scenes in the damn movie) is just awkward in the remake, and it doesn’t fit either character.  The remake really ramped up Belle’s independence, and the fact that she’s a very strong woman.  The Beast barely raises his voice to her, once, and that’s enough to terrify her to the point of choosing certain death over staying in the castle?

No, dude.  It doesn’t work.  Disney’s original version, with him being scary, is better, and they should’ve kept it, for more reasons than just that scene.

Honestly, Disney’s 1991 version is a million times better than the original fairy tale.  A big part of the reason why is because of Howard Ashman.  He deserves the credit for changing the story so completely, and for turning it into the amazing, incredible, touching, heart-wrenching movie I watched as a kid.

I mean, do you understand what’s happening in the story?  Do you really understand it?

First, let’s a take a look at Belle and the village.  They often say she’s pretty, but she doesn’t fit in.  She’s an outcast.  They stare at her.  They mock her.  They shun her for being different.

Meanwhile, Gaston, the villain, is lauded as a hero.  And that’s truly the scariest thing about the movie.  Not the Beast, not the Beast’s temper.  Not the long claws or sharp fangs or dark castle.

The scariest thing about the movie isn’t that Gaston exists, but that he’s universally loved by society.

He fits everything society says a man should be.

They fall over each other praising him, ignoring how cruel and selfish he is, because that’s not as important as fitting in to society’s man-shaped box.

Meanwhile, Belle, who is kind, and smart, and loving, is ignored and shunned because she doesn’t fit what society says a woman should be.  This is one area where the remake actually got it right, in that they make the town even more hostile toward her, where in the 1991 film, the scenes in the town just aren’t long enough to provide as much of that attitude.

But even in the 1991 film, it’s obvious that being good and decent is not as important as fitting in, and the good, decent people suffer for it.  Bullies are rewarded and loved, as long as they fit in.

Because we’ve been conditioned to think that those who are different are somehow less than us.  And it’s everywhere.  Immigrants, Muslims, women, the homeless, the sick, the disabled, criminals, those who are gay (this is a big one, I’ll get to that), those who are poly, those who are atheist or polytheistic or pretty much anything other than Christian, those who are trans, I mean, the list goes on and on and on.

People like Trump, true, cruel bullies, are rewarded for criticizing and further ostracizing those who are different, because people are so quick to see them as less.  That they don’t fit in, so they don’t belong with us, and they must be put in their place.  Or killed.

This is a common theme that comes up in many of Disney’s movies, but the only one that even comes close to Beauty and the Beast is the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

So, look at the Beast.  He’s bitter and angry, and hates himself.  In the original, the Beast asks Belle to marry him every night.  Disney’s Beast doesn’t ask, doesn’t bother asking, because he’s convinced himself that he’s unlovable, that he’s a monster, and that he’ll never be anything more.  No one trusts him because of the way he looks, because he’s a beast, because he’s an animal, because he’s less than human.

His character, and the bitterness you see in that character, shows just how badly being ostracized can mess with your head.  It shows how being told by society that you’re a monster makes you start to believe it, yourself, and affects the way you see yourself.

Howard Ashman worked on the musical score, he wrote all the lyrics while Alan Menken wrote the music, and while he didn’t direct or write the script, this movie is and always will be his.

He was an openly gay man, dying of AIDS, when this movie was made.  And sadly, he passed away before it was released, and never got to see the success of his last great work.

But the story was very different when they gave him the script and told him and Alan Menken to write the music for it.  For one, it wasn’t originally supposed to be a musical.  And secondly, the Beast wasn’t meant to be a central character.  There wasn’t much to his character at all, really.

It was Howard’s idea to make it a musical, and to change the Beast, to make him one of the main characters, to make him more central to the story.  He recognized immediately the way Belle is ostracized by society, and gave birth to the love story in which she and the Beast can find comfort in each other after society rejects them both.

As an openly gay man, dying of AIDS, in 1990, he knew quite a lot about that.  He connected with the way Belle is treated by society, while Gaston is beloved.

He, as a gay man, also faced the same stigma that they wrote into the Beast’s character.  Because compare the Beast and Gaston.  Under the bitterness and anger, the Beast is kind, compassionate, and selfless.  Even in his rage, he never hurts Belle or her father, and he risks his life to save her after she runs away (and is injured to the point that he cannot stand or walk on his own).

Quick tangent:  It’s interesting to note that in this scene, after he collapses, unconscious, in the snow, Belle turns to her horse, intending to leave him there to die.

She doesn’t, of course.  She changes her mind and helps him, but that’s a significant moment.  He risked his life for her, he protected her even when he was angry, even when he knew that she would never love him, she would never break the spell (because at this point, you know he doesn’t think she’ll ever forgive him for his outburst).  He saved her, not for his own selfish reasons, but because he’s a good man, and that’s what a good man does.

Belle, on the other hand, turns to ride off.  For that moment, she becomes society, she sees him the same way society sees him.  She turns her back on him, she intends to leave him there.

But she stops, and it’s a very important, revealing moment in her character development.  Because it shows that she’s not perfect, that she’s human, that she can let her fear and distrust overcome everything else, the way any human can.  And it shows just how easily even good people can become victim to the conditioning society has ingrained in us.  She could have easily gotten on her horse and left.  She was tempted to.  It’s what she wanted to do.  But she turns, she sees him lying there, and sees herself in him.

It’s not the fact that he saved her that makes her stop, but her own realization, her own discovery of the man underneath the monster.  She shows her own strength here, in her ability to go against society, her ability to go against what society says she should do.  She makes the conscious decision to see him as more than a monster, and she helps him.

He’s completely stunned by this, and by her fearlessness when he yells at her later, while she’s tending to his wounds.  She inadvertently hurts him, and he roars so loud, right in her face, that it blows her hair back.

But unlike the last time he roared at her, there’s no fear.  She meets his anger fearlessly, she yells right back at him, she matches his fire with her own.  It’s yet another important point in her character development.  She is never the “damsel in distress,” at any point in this story, but here we see her not as his prisoner, but his equal.  She establishes herself as his equal, she commands his respect as his equal, and now that she sees him as a man, the roaring and the temper don’t scare her.

Again, she made the conscious decision to see him as a man while he was lying there in the snow, and now that she does, the monster doesn’t frighten her.  She yells right back at him, she doesn’t hesitate, she doesn’t show even a hint of fear.

It’s safe to assume that no one has ever spoken to him like this, and this is obvious in the way he stammers and stumbles over his words, his anger immediately gone.  It’s here that he starts to see her as more than just another person to reject him, and it’s here that he lets her see a glimmer of his vulnerability.

His anger and his frightening appearance have become the walls to keep everyone out, but inside, he’s lonely.  And sad.  And hopeless.  But he endures.  He keeps going, even though he’s so sure he will never be anything worth loving, he will never be anything more than a monster.

Meanwhile, Gaston is cruel, selfish, intolerant, and close-minded.  But he’s good-looking, charismatic, “brave,” and successful, so society loves him.

He’s everything society says a man should be.

But what is a man, really?  What makes a man?

Is it just a grown male human?  Is that all it is?  Or does it go deeper than that?  Does it mean more than that?

The Beast is Howard Ashman.  Being gay and being sick in 1990 carried a hell of a stigma, and most of society didn’t see him as a man.  He wasn’t what they said a man is supposed to be.  So he was ostracized, ridiculed, and attacked for it.  This was something he understood at a very personal level, and he wrote it into the story.

Because when you look at the Beast and Gaston, you have to ask; which is the monster, and which is the man?

Belle is the only one who can see the truth.  She looks past the Beast’s appearance and gets through the walls he keeps around himself.  She teaches him that he has a soul, that he’s worthy of love, and that he’s not a monster.

The only thing I don’t love about the story is how depressed he gets when she leaves, because he’s based his entire concept of self-worth on the fact that she cares about him.  When the angry mob attacks, he gives up, he doesn’t care, he simply wants to die.  He’s lost all hope, as he had before she came, but this time, he doesn’t want to fight anymore.

But given the story itself, and the life of the man who created the character, along with the fact that he was extremely ill while writing for the movie (he was tired, too, and knowing that his death was inevitable, I have no doubt he had moments where he just wanted to give up), I can understand it.

For Howard, it was a metaphor for AIDS.  It was a curse, that brought sorrow to him and everyone who loved him.  It was about his self-loathing, his regret, his despair, and through it all, the tiniest seed of hope, that he didn’t even want to really acknowledge, that maybe, just maybe, there was a miracle waiting for him, a way for the curse to be lifted.  And through it all, his partner, the man who stayed with him despite the stigma, the one who loved him when he couldn’t love himself, was there by his side.

Knowing this, the lyrics to the songs take on a whole new meaning.  You look at Human Again (which was originally cut from the film, but they added it back in when the special edition was released), and you see Howard’s own hope in it.

When we cast off this pall
We’ll stand straight, we’ll walk tall
When we’re all that we were
Thanks to him, thanks to her
Coming closer and closer

The Mob song is by far the darkest, most frightening song of the movie, not just because of what’s happening in the plot, but because it shows so clearly the mob mentality that turns men into monsters, and how easy it is to incite that kind of fear, and violence.

We don’t like
What we don’t understand
In fact it scares us
And this monster is mysterious at least
Bring your guns!
Bring your knives!
Save your children and your wives
We’ll save our village and our lives
We’ll kill the Beast!

In the title song, the way the Beast sees himself is really illustrated, and it touches on Belle’s ability to show him that he’s worth loving.  She shows him he can change, that he can let down those walls, that he can let her in.

Tale as old as time,
Tune as old as song,
Bitter-sweet and strange
Finding you can change
Learning you were wrong

Belle saves him, more than once.  First she saves him from his bitterness and despair.  Then, she saves him from his own self-loathing.  Next, when Gaston is standing over him, ready to kill him, she saves him by giving him something to fight for.  And lastly, when he is lying there, dying, she saves him again by breaking the curse for him.

People deride this movie, saying that Belle is “weak,” and I want to punch them in their stupid faces.  Belle is every bit the hero of this story.  She gives the Beast something to live for, she shows him that he’s not worthless, she teaches him how to love himself by letting him love her, even before she’s able to reciprocate it.

She makes it clear from the beginning that she doesn’t need the Beast (his name is Adam, but it’s never mentioned in the movie).  She doesn’t need anyone, and this shows in all her actions.  In the beginning, he’s her captor, but she doesn’t care.  When Madame Garderobe tries to talk to her, tries to convince her to get to know him, she snaps, “I don’t want to get to know him!  I don’t want anything to do with him!”

She’s strong and defiant, and even when she was afraid of him, she damn sure wasn’t going to let that affect her.  She wasn’t going to give in just because she was afraid.  She wasn’t going to let him have his way just because he could get loud and scare her.

She pushed him, she forced him to break out of the anger and bitterness that had become his defense.  And once he did, she fell in love with the man she found underneath.

This story is about how society sees people who are different, how quick the mob is to attack, and how that mindset is wrong.  Both Belle and the Beast are good, kind people, but because they’re different, they’re ostracized and rejected.  This story is about how two people, lonely and misunderstood, find comfort and understanding in each other, and can turn to each other when society turns its back on them.

And this is a story that’s actually paralleled in Phantom of the Opera, which, while most likely unintentional (although it’s possible the author took inspiration from Belle et la Bete), is eerily similar.  And I love that the same people who criticize Beauty and the Beast just love Phantom of the Opera, and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s version is seen as one of the greatest love stories.

…. Are you serious?

The only difference between the two stories is that Belle is strong enough to be Adam’s equal, while Christine is too weak to do the same with Erik.

Belle forces Adam to shed the walls he has around himself, she doesn’t let his anger and outward appearance scare her, and she doesn’t allow him to continue being bitter.  She’s strong enough to stand up to him, even when she’s frightened of him.  She’s strong enough to go against society’s expectations, she’s strong enough to see the man under the monster.

She’s strong enough to face him, to basically tell him, “Alright, that’s enough.  You’re going to stop being a dick, and you’re going to stop now.”

Christine, on the other hand, cannot do that with Erik.  She can’t stand up to him, she can’t push him, she can’t stop him from becoming the monster society has convinced him he is.  She’s weak, she takes the easy route, she goes with the pretty face that society loves (although Raoul is obviously not a villain like Gaston is).

She goes with the one that’s the easiest to love, and the one society loves.  She goes with what society says she should do, and Erik is left abandoned.  She’s weak, and she allows herself to be manipulated, even when she’s aware that it’s happening.

Throughout the story, she never does anything.  She never moves the story along on her own.  She requires other characters to drive the story, and all she does is follow and react.

I love the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, but I can’t stand the story.  I can’t stand Christine, I can’t stand the fact that she turns her back on the beast, and I can’t stand that she allows him to manipulate her even when she’s aware that he’s doing it, and she lets her own fear defeat her.  I can’t stand the fact that she can’t meet him as his equal, she can’t say to him, “Alright, that’s enough.  You’re going to stop being a dick, and you’re going to stop now.”

Both Adam and Erik suffer from the same curse.  They’re both shunned by society.  They’re both seen as monsters.  Convinced that it’s true, they both use it as their defense, to keep people away.  They both take advantage of it, because they prefer people being afraid of them to people being repulsed by them.

Unable to love themselves, they both look to a woman, hoping she’ll be able to love them.  Still clinging to their bitterness, they both end up kidnapping and/or imprisoning her, even as they hope she’ll be able to see what’s underneath all the anger and bitterness.  Through their despair, there’s still that tiny, tentative hope.

Belle rises to that challenge, she breaks right through the Beast’s defenses and society’s expectations, and she saves him.  She lifts his curse.

Erik’s curse is never lifted.  Because Christine is too weak and small and scared to meet him as his equal.  She can’t save him.  Hell, he’s the one who kind of realizes, “Hey, I’m being kind of a dick.  Maybe I should knock that off.”

In the musical, he realizes this and even finally shows her his vulnerability on his own, lays himself completely bare to her, he shows her every part of himself.  He realizes everything he’s done wrong, everything he’s done that has hurt her, and how he had been trying to control her, rather than love her.

He realizes this and opens himself up to her, he lets go of the hate and anger, and shows her the man underneath.

More than that, he begs her to save him.  Publicly.  He begs her to be strong enough to love him.

He submits wholly to her in that moment, he gives himself completely over to her.  In that moment, he is hers, and he’s begging her to accept him, to save him, to lead him, to guide him and teach him how to be a man, instead of a monster.

He’s willing to let go of all the hate and anger that has kept him going for his entire life, he’s willing to leave everything behind to follow her, if she’ll just accept him.  He begs her to accept him, to lead him, to save him.

Say you’ll share with me one love, one lifetime,
Lead me, save me from my solitude
Say you’ll want me with you here, beside you
Anywhere you go, let me go, too.
Christine, that’s all I ask of you

Of course, she fucks that up, too, because she’s an idiot and a coward, and he goes right back to the anger, but now he’s even more pissed off because he knows that she will never love him.  It makes him even more of a dick.

Until, again, he realizes he’s being kind of a dick, and he should probably knock it off.

He redeems himself, because she isn’t strong enough to save him.  Even when she finally sees him for what he is, even when she finally sees the man through all his anger and self hatred, she still rejects him.

Because Raoul is prettier.  And younger.  And wealthy, we can’t forget wealthy.

No, Beauty and the Beast is the way this story is supposed to go.  Phantom of the Opera is what would’ve happened if Belle was weak, the way the movie’s critics like to say she is.

The movie is dedicated to Howard, saying he “gave a mermaid her voice, and a beast his soul.”  He was made an executive producer of the movie, due to how much he influenced the story, and his life and influence played a big part in the live-action remake.

Disney has played with gay and queer themes before, but it had always been subtext, or implied, or just enough to make people wonder.

Yeah, they didn’t do that with the remake.  I mean, the director of the remake is openly gay, but openly gay crew members isn’t anything new (as evidenced by Howard Ashman, himself).  Adding it to the movie, however, is completely new.

Not only do you have LeFou, the first openly gay Disney character (and I just have to say, I’m totally in love with Josh Gad.  Laugh if you want, but find me something he’s done that is not unbelievably awesome.  Totally in love with the guy), but you’ve got quite a few little queer things thrown in.  Most notably, you’ve got the bisexual man and his cross-dressing “wife,” and you’ve got one of the mobsters completely thrilled with Madame Garderobe’s transformation of him.

I actually love the changes they made to LeFou.  Especially the changes in the Mob Song, where he really starts to doubt Gaston, and starts asking himself whether Gaston is a man or a monster.

There’s a beast running wild, there’s no question
But I fear the wrong monster’s released.

And I totally awwed at the end, where he and the cross-dressing mobster accidentally find themselves in each other’s arms.  Totally adorable.

But it’s a more optimistic picture of society than what Howard painted.  How even Gaston’s closest follower and most loyal friend, the one who followed him blindly, the one who worshiped him, the one who idolized him, even he can realize that what they’re doing is wrong.

LeFou was Gaston’s biggest fan.  Completely in love with him, there’s nothing LeFou wouldn’t do.  No one loved Gaston as passionately as LeFou did.  No one clung to the idea of Gaston’s heroism like LeFou did.

But even LeFou, when confronted with what Gaston is, knew that what they were doing was wrong, and eventually turned away from him, saving Mrs. Potts’ life.

It’s a more hopeful outlook, that even the most close-minded and fanatical can change, that no one is too far gone to turn back.  I really like that idea, I really like the idea of redemption.

But with Howard Ashman being so instrumental in making the story what it is, it’s fitting that this is the movie in which they decided to bring the gay and queer themes out from obscure subtext and make them prominent, fearlessly facing the backlash they knew would come from the very people Howard Ashman felt ostracized by.

A company as universal as Disney would generally try to avoid taking sides in any political or moral divide.  The fact that they very obviously and proudly chose a side here is a beautiful tribute to Howard.  It’s his pain that made the story, it’s his struggles with society that inspired the Beast, and it’s his spirit that Disney was loyal to.

The rest of society turned its back on Howard, and everyone like him, but Disney showed here that they would not forget Howard Ashman, they would not forget that it’s because of him that Beauty and the Beast became such a massive success (it is the first ever animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture), and they would not forget the battle he fought and the pain he endured.

I mean, when you look at the story, when you see it for what it is, it’s impossible not to love it.  The heart of the story, the way Belle saves the Beast, the way she teaches him how to love himself, the way she teaches him that he’s worthy of love, is beautiful.  She teaches him to be vulnerable, she allows him to take comfort in her as she takes comfort in him.

And it begs the question, “What makes a man?”  And it encourages us to take a long, hard look at ourselves, at the way we see those we don’t understand.

Yeah, not Stockholm Syndrome, m’kay.  Don’t tarnish Howard Ashman’s memory by reducing his work to that.

When you live in Vegas…

… What do you do when you want to get away?

I mean, we already live in the tourism capital of the world.  I was born here.  I was raised here.  It’s nothing new to me.  Nothing special.

So Kazander and I were looking at places to do another stay-cation this year.  We considered the Luxor again, but honestly, that place has just gone so far downhill, neither of us wanted to go there again.

Which is sad.  I remember when it first opened, when I was a kid.  I loved that place.  I loved staying there whenever my parents did a stay-cation.  The first time Kazander and I stayed there, I was shocked at how bad it had gotten, but I was still nostalgic.

After the second time, though, even I had to admit that it wasn’t what we wanted.

Where, then, would we go?

He suggested the bustling metropolis of Laughlin (pronounced lof-lin, like in “loft”), NV, population, 8,000.

And I promptly laughed.

But then he said, “Well, they’ve got the river, and a couple of beaches, and jet skis and things.  It could be fun.”

Hmm, that’s actually a good point.

I’d driven through Laughlin a million times, but never actually stopped in the town.  I never gave it much thought.  It was just one more tiny little town in the middle of the desert.  A couple of casinos and a post office.

Big deal.

But the Colorado River is pretty cool, and I haven’t been to any part of the Colorado River since I was a kid.

So I looked it up.  And sure enough, there’s enough other stuff to do there to keep us entertained for a few days.

Who knew?

Hell yeah, actually.  I could definitely go for that.  It’s out in the middle of the desert, which I love, in a nice, climate-controlled room, which I love, literally right on the bank of the river, which I love.

Hell yeah.

So we made the reservations and drove out today.  We’re going back on Sunday.

And it just feels so damn good to get away.

Things are quickly reaching a boiling point with us living so close to his family.  I’ve been wanting to move out for years, but never really pressed the issue, because I don’t work, and that wasn’t fair to him.

Then, in the last year or so, I started pressing.  Because I need to get away from them.  I know myself well enough to know my patterns, and they’ve been pushing me and pushing me.  When I break, there will be no going back.

And his MIL and SIL (Mother-in-law and sister-in-law) have officially gotten me to my breaking point.

I have a friend, who used to be SIL’s friend, until he realized the kind of human being she is.  But she did introduce us, and we hit it off great.

I was hanging out with him the other day when he got close and said, “I have something I need to tell you.”

My curiosity was piqued.  “What is it?”

“SIL has been asking about you and Kazander.”

“What do you mean?”

“Like, she’s been asking if you’re into any kinky or freaky shit.”

At first, I brushed him off.  “She’s done that before.  She’s just bored and nosey.”

But the friend was not so easily assuaged.  “She wants to find dirt on you to take the spawn from you.”

“WHAT???”

“She and MIL want you out of the picture.  They want to find a reason to declare you an unfit mother.”

“She said that?”

“Not in those words, but she might as well have.”

He’s not known for lying or exaggerating, or drama-mongering, so I completely believe him.

“But they’d never want to take her from Kazander,” i protested.

“They think he’ll side with them.”

I started to laugh, then stopped, thinking back to all the times MIL just insisted that Kazander would side with her on different things, or agree with her, or take her (poor) advice, etc.

Yeah, she absolutely would think Kazander would side with her.

Holy fucking hell.

So I got home and told Kazander what was going on.  He was shocked, but dismissive, and that angered me.

And I mean, I could see where he was coming from.  He would never side with them over me, so there’s nothing they would ever be able to do.  They could talk to lawyers if they want, but I have no record, I don’t do drugs, I volunteer with homeless veterans, I’m a total, upstanding citizen and all that jazz.  I mean, there’s not a lot they could use.  They’d have to do some serious digging to find anything remotely close, and he pointed out that they’re not intelligent or creative enough for that.

Okay, so cool, I’m in no immediate danger of losing my child.

That’s not the whole point, though.

Because we are living in an environment where people are conspiring behind my back to take my daughter from me.  Whether or not they can succeed is irrelevant.  I don’t want to be around that, and I don’t want my daughter around that.

That’s toxic.

So I told Kazander, “We need to move.”

He scoffed.  “We’re not going to move.  They can’t do anything.  There’s no point.”

“I don’t care if they can’t do anything.  It’s the fact that they want to do something!”

But he remained dismissive.  Even after I said, “Either we need to move out, or I do.”

So I started looking at options.

I wasn’t going to play tug-of-war with my child.  If they want her so bad that they’re willing to destroy her entire world, then fine.  They can have her.  Losing one parent would devastate her, but if Kazander’s family went through with this, she would either lose both parents (if his MIL and SIL won), or every member of her extended family (if he and I won).

That would hurt her so much more.  God, that would crush her.  I don’t think she could easily recover from that.  It’s been so central to her whole world, her whole existence, ever since she was born.

God… That would… That would just kill her.

I could never let that happen to her.

And I have faith in my daughter.  I have faith in the way I raised her.  I have faith that, even if she’s brought up around those pathetic, terrible, small people, she will know the truth as she gets older.

It was Sounder who suggested another tactic, one that would keep my family together.

So I talked to Kazander again.  I told him I wanted to move out.

He said, “What if I want to stay?”

I shrugged.  “Then you can stay.”

That angered him a bit.  “You’d break up with me over that?”

“Over your family having ridiculous amounts of control over us?  Over you choosing them and that control over me and your daughter?  Yes the fuck I would.”

So we agreed on a six-month trial run.  We’ll get an apartment for six months, and then reassess and decide if living away from them is worth the inconvenience of not having them there.

And of course we won’t be going far.  The family is still so important to the spawn, so we’d absolutely bring her over 2 or 3 times a week to spend time with them, or even spend the night once in awhile.  But she won’t be spending weeks with them anymore.  I told Kazander, in no uncertain terms, that’s coming to an end.

I want to be moved out by the time the spawn starts school.  So I’m looking at apartments and Kazander is talking to his dad about how he’s going to manage the finances without living there.  It can be done.

It will be done.  Because staying there, keeping the status quo, is not an option anymore.

I’m stressed.  All the time.

I’m on edge.  All the time.

I’m short-tempered and irritated.  All the time.

I can’t do this anymore.  And I hated having to give him the ultimatum, but I was literally at a point where it was either that, or I would have to walk away.  I’m not going to live in a place where people conspire to take my family from me.

It’s just not happening.

So due to the financial burden that moving out will be, we decided not to go to Cancun, as we’d planned in October.  We’d need that for moving costs and rent.

But Kazander said, “With us not going, you really just need to get away for a few days.  You need to get out of the house.”

Yeah, I really did.

Okay, so Kazander and I have very different ideas of a perfect vacation accommodation.  I want a nice room.  I want a suite.  I want… not crazy expensive, but definitely not Motel 6.  At least 3 stars.

Kazander hates paying more than he absolutely has to for a room.  He’d do Motel 6’s the entire way.

And I get where he’s coming from.  When we go on vacation, we have a budget.  He’d rather spend the money on activities and cool things to do than the room.  Where I would rather do cheap or free activities and be comfortable in the room.

So we’ve always compromised, and met in the middle.

Not this time.

We’re staying 4 nights, in a casino that has two separate kinds of suites.  The second-tier suite, and the first-tier suites.  He said we could get the top-tier suite.

You guys don’t understand.  He has never agreed to anything even remotely like that, much less offer it himself.  I was blown away.

And I appreciated the hell out of that.  So I looked on the casino’s website, juggled some things around, combined a couple of promo packages, and found something that was $300 cheaper (I’m really, really good at doing that.  I’m good at finding deals when I need to).

We’ll stay the first two nights, tonight and tomorrow, in the second tier suite.  Then, on Friday, we’ll check out of that room and into the top-tier suite, where we’ll spend Friday night and Saturday night.

After him going so far as to give me the best suite in the hotel, I’m more than happy to have the second best for two nights to save him some money.  It’s definitely worth the minor inconvenience of checking out and then checking back in.  And the packages I combined come with some nice benefits and coupons that save us even more money on food and activities.  So all in all, we’re looking at saving about $500.

Hell yeah, I’ll take the second tier suite for that.

So we drove out today, checked in, and walked up to our room.

And the room isn’t bad.  I mean, you have to understand, it’s Laughlin.  This is not Vegas.  This is not even close to Vegas.  The casino resort we’re staying in is, according to what I read, the nicest one in Laughlin.

…… That doesn’t really say much for Laughlin, m’kay.

Without the promo, after taxes and fees, the second tier suite would have cost $5 more than the pyramid suite at the Luxor for the same nights.  And it’s about that quality, just without the big tub that the Luxor suite had.  Or without the 12 years of dust hanging from the air conditioning vent that the Luxor suite had.

I mean, it balances out.

Still, kinda disappointing when you’re under the impression these are the “elite” rooms offered.

But it’s nice, it’s comfortable, we had a fantastic view of the sunset from our room, and the river is beautiful, and brings back so many memories.  We’re going on a river cruise, we’re going to one of the beaches, we’re thinking about renting jet skis, I mean, it’ll be a really awesome stay.

 

Sounder is coming out this weekend, too, to spend some time with us.  And honestly, both Sounder and Kazander are doubtful, but I promise, promise, promise that my reason for wanting him to come out to spend time with us is not to play, but to just hang out.

Kazander and Sounder are complete opposites in a lot of ways, but they’re almost eerily alike in other ways, especially regarding their senses of humor.  I think they’d get along really well.

And my dream is to have all of us live together one day.  Sounder and Kazander will have to spend way more time with each other than the occasional drink at a bar or the occasional cock in Sounder’s mouth to find out if that’s a possibility or not.

These are two very strong personalities, in two very strong men.  It could turn out wonderfully, or it could turn out badly.  I’ve had enough tense roommate situations to know that I don’t want to jump in to one again, without at least an idea of what we can expect and how we can all put in concentrated effort to make it work.

The only way to be able to make any sort of educated prediction about that is to have them spend more time together.

That’s why I want Sounder to come out.  Not to play.

Although, of course, while we’re in the room, I’ll expect him to wear girls’ clothes.  I mean, that’s just a given.  He should be wearing girls’ clothes 24/7 when he’s not in public, anyway.  Obviously he’ll wear it here, too.

And I mean, should the opportunity for play present itself, I won’t stop it.  As I told Sounder earlier today, I will never pass up the opportunity to put a cock inside him.

But even if we do play, that’ll just be a small, short part of the evening.  That’s not going to be the bulk of our interactions while he’s here.  For the most part, it’ll just be chill, seriously just innocent hanging out.

So yeah, y’all…. I am beyond looking forward to the next few days.

And for someone who lives in Vegas, who has done the “Vegas tourist” thing over and over and over again, this is a welcome change.  Hell, this might actually turn out to be my new favorite stay-cation place.  Who knew?

Kazander often has good ideas, but he hit it way out of the park with this one.  That was just sheer fucking brilliance.

Who would’ve guessed, Laughlin?

A common mistake

So I received this email yesterday, and with Omega writing my last post, I thought it fitting that I post this today.

Miss Jen,

I was wondering if you could help me.  I married a wonderful vanilla woman who was open to D/s.  Over the past couple of years we’ve gradually been moving closer and closer to a TPE.  But lately it’s come to a complete standstill.

She got a new job and it’s really been stressful for her.  She comes home stressed and tense but it seems like whenever I try to help her, it just makes it worse.  Whenever she starts venting and I try to help her it just makes her more annoyed.  I’m at a point where I really just don’t know what to do.  I almost wish she’d just quit her job.

Thank you for anything you might be able to provide.

Sigh

Alright, so I know that you’re trying to help, and your heart is in the right place, and all your intentions are pure.

But you’re making a huge mistake here.

Don’t feel bad, pretty much all men make this mistake.  And since I’m in a good mood, I figured I’d take this opportunity to tell all the men who make this mistake why they need to stop doing what they’re doing.

The thing is, all you men want to swoop in like knights in shining armor and solve all our problems.  And cool, that’s admirable.

But you’re going about it in completely the wrong way.

There’s this show I watched when I was a kid, and one particular scene stuck with me.  A girl was locked in the bathroom, the door was jammed, so she called for help.  Her parents came and said, “Have you tried the knob, honey?”

She said, “Of course I’ve tried the knob!  I’m not an idiot.”

So then the repairman-superhero came and asked what was the matter.  The parents explained that the door was jammed, their daughter locked inside.  So the repairman walked up to the door and said, “Have you tried the knob, honey?”

I didn’t know why it stuck with me, but now as an adult, I get it.  It’s funny, but what most men don’t realize is that it’s funny because it’s true.

Picture this for me:

A young maiden is out in a field, picking flowers and putting them in her basket.  Suddenly, a group of cruel men run up to her, hold a knife to her throat, and tell her to give them her purse, with all her gold, or they’ll rape and murder her.  She’s terrified, she drops her basket.

But then, the valiant young knight comes riding into view, galloping on a magnificent steed to save the day.  He quickly dismounts and picks up her basket, then sets to picking flowers, filling it up the rest of the way.

The men take the maiden’s gold and run off.  And then, the knight hands her the basket, filled with flowers.  “Here, milady,” he says cheerfully.  “I’ve filled it for you.”

“Have you lost your mind?” she shouts.  “How was that supposed to be helpful?”

The knight is offended.  “See if I ever help you again.”

Now picture something else:

Stephen Hawking has agreed to teach a math class to a group of young students.  After his first class, he is annoyed at how little they know, and he vents to his friend.

“I have to start all the way from the beginning,” he says.  “They don’t even know the prime numbers through 100.”

His friend tries to be helpful.  “Oh, well I could help you find the prime numbers if you want.  It can’t be that hard.”

“What?  Are you insane?  Do you not know who I am?  I’m Stephen-fucking-Hawking.  I know the prime numbers up to a thousand.”

“Geez, I was just trying to help.”

And one more:

A young woman is driving through Amish country and gets a flat tire.  A young Amish man, completely unfamiliar with cars, comes to her aid.

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s a flat tire.  So annoying.”

“Well, have you tried turning the car on?”

“What?  How would that help?”

“Don’t they pump up the tires automatically?”

“No.”

“Oh.  Well what about using a straw to blow air into it?  That would work, right?”

“No.”

“I see.  Well what about replacing it with a wooden wagon wheel?”

Now the woman is irritated.  “Look, stop pretending you know more about this than I do.  I’ve already called a tow truck.  I’m annoyed because I have to wait so long, but I’ve already solved the problem.  I don’t need your help.”

Yeah these scenarios are exaggerated, but that’s literally how ridiculous you all sound when you try to help us solve our problems.

Because the thing is, we don’t need your help.

To the gentleman who wrote this email, I’d say your specific situation is the third one.  Do you know the ins and outs of your wife’s job?  Do you know everything about it?  Do you know it better than she does?

I’m going to assume you don’t.  So you “trying to help” isn’t helping.

It’s demeaning.  Fuck yeah, it makes the situation worse.

We’re not idiots and we’re not children.  We know how to solve our own problems.  We don’t need your help.

Whenever I’ve had this same identical conversation with any man, it’s always been the same.  He, trying to be helpful, suggests obvious things that even a child would’ve tried.  Or completely irrelevant things.  Or he tries to pretend he knows the situation better than I do.

Kazander is very good at very many things, but he is particularly bad with this, no matter how many times I correct him.  It’s a habit 38 years in the making.  It doesn’t break easily.

Most recently, I couldn’t find the TV remote in the bedroom, the spawn has the habit of moving it to random places.  So when Kazander texted me to ask how my day was going, I told him I was annoyed because I couldn’t find it.

He replied with, “Have you looked under the bed?  Or with the spawn’s toys?”

Oh wow, you know I never thought of that.  I would’ve just stood there in the middle of the room like an idiot if he hadn’t suggested those things.

Yeah dude, that’s demeaning as fuck.

Of course that’s not the way he intends it.  The last thing he wants to do is disrespect me.  He genuinely thinks he’s being helpful.  He’s trying to help me.

I get it.  And yeah, it’s sweet that he tries to help me.  Still, he’s going about it in entirely the wrong way.

Stop it.  All of you.  Just stop it.

Want to know how to handle it when your wife vents to you after a hard day?  Easy.  Remove all the suggestions and replace them with, “Damn, that sucks.”

You want to help her?  You want to be the knight in shining armor?

Say it with me: “Damn, that sucks.”

When your wife/girlfriend/literally any woman vents to you, that is your mantra.  And build on it if you need to.  I mean, make it your own.

“Damn, that sucks.  I’m sorry you have to deal with that.  It’s got to be rough.”

That’s how you do it.  Don’t belittle her by trying to solve her problems for her.  That’s not what she wants.

She wants support.  She wants empathy, or at the very least, sympathy.  She wants to know that you’re there for her.

If she wants your help, she’ll ask for it.  Until then, don’t offer it.  Just offer support.  Do that, and you’ll be shocked at how quickly her anger will fade.

So do that for a week.  And I’m serious, don’t make any suggestions.  Don’t “try to help” her.  Don’t try to solve her problems for her.

Hell, I’m a living example of how well that works.  Sounder is very good at the “Damn, that sucks” thing.  And it’s almost eerie how quickly he can calm me down when I’m annoyed or irritated, or flat-out enraged.

When I need his help or his advice, I ask for it and he readily gives it.  Other than that, he generally sticks to the “Damn, that sucks” thing, and even I’m continually surprised at how effective it is.

Stop “trying to help” your wife and actually help her by giving her what she wants.  Do that for a week, and then let me know how it works.  Tell me it doesn’t make a huge difference in your marriage, in her ability to cope with the stress of her new job.

From the other side

This is a guest post written by a trans man who wishes to remain anonymous.  For purposes of discussion, he goes by Omega.

I’ll keep the history short.  We all have different stories, but at the heart of them, they’re all the same.  Our entire lives, we knew something wasn’t right.  We knew something was off.

But I’d learned to live with the Off.  I’d accepted it as part of me.  The bitterness I felt at having the wrong body was the thing I assumed all women felt.  Some hate their thighs, some hate their breasts, some hate their hips or their stomach or their calves or their shoulders.

I hated….

Well, I didn’t really hate it.  Not once I became an adult, anyway.

The woman I was outside was the Off, but she had her uses.  I’d learned how to work with her, how to use her to get what I needed.

And she’s a tough bitch.  She knew how to protect me when I needed it.  She covered me up, she built walls around me to keep out those who would hurt me.

She’s stronger than anyone else I’ve ever met.  And she’s tireless.  A warrior.

Because she’d lived in this world as a woman, and I never really understood what that meant until I set her aside and entered the world as a man.

The things she’s endured, the things she’s dealt with…

There’s honestly no way to comprehend it without living it.

I respect her.  I admire her.  I resent her for existing.  I resent the fact that I needed her for so long.  I resent the fact that I still do.

Because it wasn’t until I was able to pass as a man that I realized just how strong she was.  How strong she was forced to be.

I took advantage of her; I used her.

Because I never knew what it meant to be her.

The truth, the pure and objective truth, is that sexism is alive, and male privilege is depressingly real.

She noticed it before I did.

Because it was subtle at first.  There was so much else going on, I didn’t notice it.  I was too worried about things like going to the public restroom.  But she noticed it.

It devastated me again to realize it.

People speak to me differently than they did to her.  They look at me differently.  They react to me differently.  Cashiers, waiters, car mechanics, the postman, employers, employees, the entire world sees me differently than they saw her.

The amount of respect strangers unthinkingly show me is different than the respect they showed her.  The level of competence people assume I have is different than the level they assume she had.  The way they accommodate me is different than the way they accommodated her.

It’s not everyone, and it’s not every situation, but it’s consistent enough to be a pattern, and the pattern holds true.

I realized how hard she is.  How hard she needed to be.

I realized just how much of the anxiety and dislike of myself wasn’t due to anxiety or depression, but from the way people saw me, the way they treated me.

It’s so unfair, what she had to go through to protect me, the way the entire world shrugged her off as having less worth.  The car mechanics who scoffed at her, the computer and technical repairmen who ignored her, the plumbers and electricians who walked into her home and blatantly disrespected her, the way doctors shrugged her off, the demeaning comments from any man who disagreed with her, the way everyone subconsciously belittled her.

I never even realized it until it suddenly wasn’t there anymore.  I look back on my childhood, on my adolescence, on my young adulthood, and realize that I had been a victim of sexism all my life.

Even she didn’t know the full extent of it.  Not until she saw the difference in the way I’m treated now.

For a long time, I hated her.  I hated her because she wasn’t me, because to me, she represented every lie I had to tell, every secret I had to keep, every part of myself I couldn’t acknowledge.  She was everything about myself I hated.  She was everything about myself that was off.

Now, I realize that she’s the strongest part of me.  Because she had to be.  She had to learn to stand tall when people scoffed at her, when people shrugged her off and dismissed her, when they belittled her, when they told her she was worth less than I am.

She learned how to stand up against those who felt entitled to her body, she learned how to let go and not let their touch haunt her the way it haunted me.  She learned how to protect us from those who saw us as nothing but an object to fuck.  From those who grabbed her on the street, those who sneered at her, who leered at her, who tried to break her.  She learned how to protect us from those who wanted to pull her down and destroy her, from those who wanted to make her less than human.

She learned how to be hard, how to be defiant, how to prove them wrong.  She was everything that was off about me, but she was my protector in a world that hated me not just because I was trans, but because my voice was high and my body was feminine.

And she’s far from the only one.  So many women go through worse than I did.  So many women hurt worse than I did.  I was lucky.  And I’m lucky in that I don’t have to deal with it anymore.

I never truly appreciated the constant battles she had to fight until I didn’t have to fight them anymore.  I never appreciated the strength it took to be her until I saw how much easier it is to be me in our society.

I’ve only been reliably passing as male for a year or so.  I’m still learning who I am outside of her.  And she’s still there to jump to my defense when I need it, because she grew up in a harder world than I live in.

I will always admire the strength it takes to be her, to be every woman.  Even they don’t realize how hard it is to be them, and that makes me angry.

These women have fought these battles every day.

Not against everyone, but against enough.

At least once a day, they are somehow, someway told that they are worth less than men.  But they keep going.  They keep fighting.  They learn how to get past it.

They don’t realize their own strength.  Just as she didn’t realize her own strength.  She didn’t realize what it took to live through a normal life as a woman until she saw how much easier it is to live a normal life as a man.

She resents that.  And so do I.  All the insecurity, all the doubt, all the pain of feeling not good enough, she thought there was something wrong with her.

But no, she was perfect.  She wasn’t me, but she was perfect.  It was society that let her down.  Not any fault or shortcoming of her own.

No man will ever understand the strength it takes to be a woman in a world where women are worth less.  No man will understand the strength it takes to be a woman in a world where no one wants to acknowledge the battles they still fight.

Where people pretend it doesn’t exist.  Where they shrug off a woman, where they brush off her battles.

Women can vote and have bank accounts.  What else could they possibly want?  Why can’t they stop whining?

It repulses me.  It makes me want to turn from the world.

But she’s not heartless.  Because, while I wanted to hate every man for what she went through, while I wanted to sneer at the little trials they thought were just so hard, she was the one who stopped me.

She reminded me that pain is not exclusive to women.  She reminded me of the good men who do fight for women.

She reminded me of the women in my life that I admire.  Women like Domina Jen, who are unbelievably strong, who will never understand the true extent of their own strength, who don’t need anyone to hold them up, but who graciously love and respect the good men in their lives.

But even that a battle in and of itself.

Domina Jen made a mistake once.  She let me see the contents of her email inbox.  And that brought on a whole new wave of bitterness.

Because I will never again have to deal with what she deals with.  The things she considers normal, the threats and the insults that she and everyone around her dismiss, the nonchalance people who love her feel at the way she’s treated, even her own simple, graceful shrug, saying, “That’s just the way it is.”

It infuriated me.  Because it’s not fair.  And who is going to stand up for her?  Who is going to fight for her?  Who is going to let her lean on them the way I could lean on her?

Who could she lean on when the weight of holding me up got to be too much?

No one.

And the internet is only one small facet, one small glimpse of what it’s like to walk through life like this.

A constant and cruel punishment for the unforgivable crime of having a high voice and feminine body.

No man fully understands what paying for that crime feels like, and how deeply it hurts to be met with the dismissive, apathetic attitude so many men exhibit.

Because they don’t want to see it.  They are uncomfortable with being confronted by it.  They are uncomfortable realizing how much harder things like going to the bank or getting your oil changed or running a business are for women.

There’s no rest for these women.  I escaped it, and seeing it from the outside made me realize how bad it really is.  But for the rest, there’s no escape.

I wanted to be angry forever.  I wanted to lose myself in my anger.  And even Domina Jen couldn’t snap me out of it.

But she could.

She was the one who reminded me what it feels like to love a good man.  She was the one to remind me what it feels like to have a good man love me.

She kept me from getting cold.  She kept me from letting the bitterness consume me.

The same way she kept me from letting the bitterness consume me when she had to be my mask.

I know that one day, I won’t need her anymore.  I’ll be able to put her in a little box, close it, and lock it forever.  I’ll be able to leave her behind and move ahead as me.

But that box will always be close to my heart.  Because she saved me, every moment of every day, and she will continue to save me right up until the moment I don’t need her anymore.

It’s isolating, seeing the world from both sides, and it’s why I have gravitated to other trans people.  Because I’m not the only one who sees it.  All trans men see this.

Trans women see the reverse, and my heart hurts for them.  Because they have no way of understanding this world they’re coming in to until they walk into it.

Because transitioning is awful enough, it is anxiety-inducing and depressing enough, without having to come to terms with this new reality.  Having to understand that being true to who they are means that the world will forever see them as less than their mask.

It makes me cynical, but she won’t let me lose all hope.  She stubbornly hangs on, reminding me that giving up never made anything better.

One day, it will be better.  I have faith in good people.  I have faith that good people won’t give up.

I have faith because I know that she isn’t the only fighter around.