Dear Mineshaft: I am in a two-year committed heterosexual relationship, and we recently moved in together. A few weeks ago, we were having a relationship check-in, and the topic turned to sex - it's been less frequent lately for a variety of reasonable causes. But while we were at the conversation, I pivoted to oral sex. He doesn't do it much and it bugs me - maybe 8 times in these two years. I asked for an honest answer. He sat quiet for a while. He said he didn't want to say, and I said "just say it" so he said it's my smell. Before the hurt settled I asked "just me? or all women?" He said just me.
At first I was stunned and started tearing up. I pressed further - is this just oral, or does he think this in general when we have sex? He said it's in general that I smell bad. Not that I have a general body odor outside of the bedroom, but when it comes to sex, in general sex smells. Later it became a sob fest, where I couldn't stop crying. I was/am so humiliated. I kept running it over in my mind and getting embarrassed, remembering when he had done oral and wondering if the whole time was gross, and that made me feel gross. And it's already a general fear sort of thing, as a woman.
I'd suspected he had shower or cleanliness issues, and I had tried to initiate under those sorts of conditions before, but that hadn't worked to make anything happen.
Since then, I've been to my ob, who think really highly of. She examined me and said that I don't have an infection or anything, and that she didn't smell anything unusual. Most likely, if I smell at times, this is a bacterial thing that comes and goes, but is basically part of me and my composition, and that there's no real way to cure it.
In most of life, my boyfriend and I are both great feminists, but this has exceeded our capabilities in different ways. He feels terrible and is very scared I'll leave him over this, but has not retracted any of the facts on the table.
How can I get in touch with my feminist chops on this topic and stop feeling so humiliated and awful about myself? Also, how can I enjoy sex with this asshole again? I pretty much clam up now.
Heebie's take: Ugh, this is so awful. I'm so sorry. We ALL have bodies, and they're ALL gross, and he should just fucking be enthusiastic and not share hurtful things. I suppose that ship has sailed.
Mineshaft? How shall she get her mojo back?
I have been requested to post the following comments by ajay:
- Things are all a bit grim these days. Can we have a Culture novels reading group? Or some other cheerful but non-lightweight subject matter.
Culture novels: there are eight of them, plus a couple of short stories, so I think we either limit the number under discussion (perhaps to the first three, "Consider Phlebas", "The Player of Games" and "Use of Weapons", which give lots to be going on with), or we give a few months of warning to allow Thorn, Barry et al to read them all.
Or we could simply pick one and limit ourselves to that, in which case I'd go for "The Player of Games".
Minivet wrote this on Wednesday, "How about a celebratory/what's-next thread today for last night's wave?" and I'm sure I had something terribly important that had to go up that very day, like snot rags in a coffee cup, instead.
But perhaps in lieu of Friday WTFuckery, we can take a small, modest, victory lap and paint some rosy pictures. What's your favorite bit? I think Roehm's "He's my constituent now" line is my favorite moment.
This Politico piece on Trumpland is making the rounds, which means it's time for my regularly-scheduled rant: it's not the fucking slack-jawed yokels. It's the morally bankrupt white-flight UMC assholes who get the willies from brown kids and vaguely feel that taxes are theft, although who can say.
This time I went searching for some numbers. There are a few articles who've made this point. But they're thin on the ground. If you google "trump suburban voters vs rural voters" those sorts of articles are absolutely swamped by articles focusing on rural voters and how they controlled and dominated the presidential election. When I searched just "trump suburban voters" I got a bunch of articles about the suburban rebellion and Trump's suburb problem, and only some of them are in response to this past Tuesday.
So just to be clear:
Nationally, 26 percent of Americans described where they live as urban, 53 percent said suburban and 21 percent said rural.
And Trump's breakdown is:
So nationally, Trump-urban votes were 9%, Trump-suburban were 26.5%, and Trump-rural were 13% of the electorate.
And if you just decompose Trump voters alone:
(The sooner the decomposition, the better.)
So rural voters are actually a true minority of Trump voters. While they're super red, racist, and poor, there just isn't that many total rural voters.
What is my personal unique takeaway?
1. Shut up about the fucking rural voters. Let them benefit from progressive economic legislation, try to contain the damage from their shockingly aggressive racism, and then just stop getting fucking trolled.
2. Focus on the suburban voters aggressively. I don't have any clue what strategy works best on these terrible people, but let's start with some public shaming, and make them own the terrible features of Republicans that they enable. Because fuck them.
Moby Hick writes: The assault on Rand Paul has got me thinking about community and rootedness and petty-ass grudge keeping. I have now lived in the same place for 13 years. If you don't count the pre-K years where I was too small to do much, this is as long as I lived in the place where I grew up. Growing up, I basically knew everybody I interacted with. What I learned from that situation is to always be careful who you ask to buy you beer and that somebody who was an actual adult disliked me enough to stop me in the hall just before I graduated from high school in order to tell me, at considerable length, that I was conceited. (I maintain it was just a mild case of senioritis.)
Even though I don't know everybody I interact with here, I have now had long term interactions with enough people that I'm sure there's somebody who hates me. I just don't know who or why*. I only know that either they don't hate me enough to jump me from behind or they're smaller than me or they've never caught me at unawares because I don't wear headphones in public.
My question is how can people walk around in public wearing headphones? Even if they aren't sufficiently rooted to know that somebody local hates them, aren't they afraid they won't hear a bike speeding behind them or a car turning?
* Obviously, it was something I said, but I don't know what.
Heebie's take: Mobes!
I also had a high school teacher (or two) who loathed me and lectured me on my hubris and inability to know what was my problem. I also wrote a post long ago here about my particularly vindictive 5th grade teacher, who leveraged a series of escalating punishments over the course of several months around the 5th grade school play, after I'd pissed her off before the auditions. My feelings were super hurt over that one.
I don't know when people hate me, exactly, but I know a few people where I get the feeling that they're annoyed by me in a way that reminds me of being the a pesky kid sister again. I loathe the pesky kid sister feeling, and try to avoid those people altogether.
Then there's this Elderly Texan dynamic, where there's a million silent dog whistles and every pause is laden with meaning, and the Elderly Texan speaks very. fucking. slowly., which I'm convinced is a form of dominance, because they're demanding that you stand there silently with a perky expression on your face for as long as they please. I can sometimes tell that they're irritated/angry at me, and I generally dgaf to know why if there's nothing to go on.
In short: I don't wear headphones in public.
Appreciated: the supreme gentleness with which a Starbucks employee handed me back my travel mug, its interior festooned with a crumpled kleenex I had not noticed while giving my order, and the even more supreme gentleness with which he asked, "Would you...like...to...take that out of there?" I wish I had had the balls to say No. Complete with steely-eyed glare: No. I want that IN there, young man. I want you to pour the coffee right on top of that kleenex. How dare you question how I take my coffee.
Mimi Smartypants still makes me laugh out loud.
Domestic violence is so tailor-made to be downplayed as a problem. Nobody condones it, they just aren't moved to do any of the things necessary to actually make a dent in it. It just comes up now and then in these mind-boggling statistic throw-offs like, "Actually, mass killings don't kill nearly as many people as suicides and DV!" and "All these mass killers also beat their wives and crack the skulls of their little babies!" and so on.
It's such a nightmarish problem, but it doesn't have the adrenaline-appeal of stranger-danger or stranger-shooter or I don't even know. Everyone is so extremely comfortable with the status quo. (By which I mean the people with the power to allocate resources and policy towards changing things, obv.)
What would be the best thing to do? Do you crack down and do mass lock-ups of domestic violence offenders? Plus fund meaningful support programs for the victims? Or do you just try to legalize pot and get them to mellow the fuck out a bit? ("Hit this, not that!" Ugh, I'm sorry.) Probably both. It's not rocket science, just indifference.
Prediction time - do you think they'll be able to get it done?
Is it possible to have separate conversations (just here, on Unfogged, not anywhere real) about the immorality of the tax cuts for the rich, separate from the pros and cons of axing various deductions on the middle class? Or is the grotesqueness of the GOP too sweeping?
If it weren't this moment in time, there is plenty of interesting things about how middle class deductions are problematic - how they're invisible as a subsidy and it would be better if everyone were mailed a check, how more luxurious homes give you a bigger subsidy than cheaper homes, what exactly is being incentivized in various scenarios, and so on. I just don't know if it's possible to have a Parallel Universe conversation about tax deductions that is independent of this moment in time.
And I'm once again reminded why I stopped commenting here, and why commenting is not just a time-wasting hobby, but actively destructive for American politics. Whether you know it or not, you all (including Heebie, for putting up the thread, and me, for commenting) are part of the problem, not the solution. You're probably mostly decent people, do something else with your lives. Bye.
This got under my skin more than it should, probably. I briefly considered responding on the front page, even. [Ed: Well, I changed my mind, see below.] This response is obviously for third parties. I'm taking "Bye" at face value.
Also I have insomnia because I had two weak drinks around 6 pm or so, followed by drinking bubbly waters until midnight.
1. I think it's narcissistic to the point of silliness to think that this community contributes to anything besides the well-being or lack there-of of the people who read and/or comment here.
2. Whether online discussions are actively destructive?
It seems insane to me to paint all online discussions with a single brush.
3. Which online discussions are good? What is good about online discussions?
i) When people are collaborating, discussing in good faith, and teasing out distinctions that are hazy to them, then online discussions are a vast improvement over the pre-internet world.
I would even put the Brazille thread in that category, even though I knew it was a dumb thing to post when I posted it. Pre-internet, I probably would have heard a blurb about Brazille's book on NPR or skimmed a headline, and idly incorporated it into my worldview without giving it much thought, because I don't find the 2016 primary very interesting.
Because of the internet, I have a vast network of people who I've spent years determining to be super smart. Not just on unfogged - various blogs and news organizations. If I hadn't had blogs highlighting which journalists are very smart, I think it would have taken me much longer (or never) to start to form opinions of any single journalist.
So instead, I read a couple quick takedowns by people I've built respect for - and I only read them because they show up, unsolicited, in my FB feed, here, and on a few blogs - and now I have a well-formed opinion going forward into the world - if it comes up IRL, I will roll my eyes and promote the opinion of the respected online personalities I read. I still find the topic of the 2016 to be basically very dull, but now I know to be dismissive and eye-rolling about it.
Halford is being willfully ignorant of the benefit of comments like his 14. Changing public opinion is an incremental business. If you're insightful and able to phrase things well, you are creating a large public good by giving a shortcut to those who use you as a barometer.
ii) It cannot be understated how much voice the internet gives to marginalized people. Jammies and I marvel often about how many funny people exist - best of the best comedian level funny, just existing in day jobs through out the world - who would never bother to try to break through the gate keeper function of the comedy world, pre-internet.
The gate-keepers in every form of discourse were super fucking shitty pre-internet. Now there is no gate-keeper at all, and we don't know exactly what that means, but it does mean that there are vast networks of every minority, and every marginalized group, talking and developing their response to current events and growing and developing.
Unfogged as a group has matured in striking ways over the years. The old threads are very funny at times, but they also spend a lot of time and energy making points that have since been absorbed as canonical. We don't have the same arguments we used to have, in part because we actually hashed it out and the individuals were left with a better, more nuanced understanding than we started with. (Also because some of the cranky, ornery people left. Selection bias plus growth of those who remained.)
4. When are online discussions destructive? Two instances:
i) When people are arguing in bad faith, spreading lies, destructing the canon of knowledge and contributing to the epistemic crisis.
Actually, I have a good link about the epistemic crisis - maybe I'll make this a FPP after all. "What if Mueller proves his case and it doesn't matter?"
(I don't agree with the conclusion - Trump will only be impeached if Democrats re-take the House next 2018, and it was always thus. But I do agree with the scenario predictions of how the Republicans will happily ignore and discredit Mueller forever.)
And on this point - destructive discussions - it really boils down to Fox News, Breitbart, and Russian Trolls. If you are not contributing to the power of those three voices, then you are not making the world a worse point by arguing online.
ii) when individuals are participating in discussions beyond what they can cope with. Mental health is no joke, and it's difficult to figure out what's best for your own mental health. This is an individual-by-individual crisis. I assume this is actually what precipitated the comment that set all of this off.
What should individuals do? They should curate where they spend their time online very carefully, with an eye on their own blood pressure. Everyone has a responsibility to clear a baseline hurdle of staying informed about the world, but that is a fairly low bar. After that, be very judicious about how media affects you. Figure out which areas you care about and try to make the world a better place, and there's a lot of really good TV out there.
How hard should you try to make the world a better place? That is really a conversation to have between you and your therapist. Or maybe here.
5. Should there be guidelines about internet discussions going forward?
i. Yes, and I think eventually etiquette guidelines will trickle down to public schools, the way the public schools currently teach internet safety. Those guidelines will more or less be to conduct yourself with journalistic integrity, and they will be disregarded wholesale by the right wing blogosphere.
ii. It also hinges on some sort of legal mechanism for saying that voracious doxxing trolls and the like are committing a crime, and funding/caring about having police track down and arrest online serial abusers. I doubt that will ever happen.