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Dec 2011 02

by Yashar Ali

When most people are seeking love, they have a basic list of check boxes they hold up to their prospective partners. On this list are questions like: Is he single? Is he ready to be in a relationship? Is he emotionally available? Does he want to be in a relationship with me?

It makes me wildly uncomfortable when all the boxes on that list are checked. I am attracted to and fall in love with unavailable men.

For years, especially in the past three years, I have slept with married men, men in relationships, and emotionally unavailable men (the latter would be fine if sex was all I was after).

And with some of these men, I have developed serious romantic attachments as a result of our sexual relationship and friendship. I would wish, even hope that they wanted more than sex, that they would want a relationship with me.

Why have I been so self-destructive?

I have put myself in these emotionally trying places out of fear that my imperfections and weaknesses would be exposed in the course of a serious, long-term relationship. I didn’t want anyone close to me because closeness calls for a release of all pretenses; I would be forced to expose my strengths and my faults. In a healthy relationship, accountability and questions are part of the deal. I didn’t want any questions; I didn’t want to be accountable when it came to my problems. So I chose men who I knew would not or could not be in a relationship with me.

My entanglements with unavailable men allowed me to avoid men who would see the real me and also gave me the opportunity to experience the feelings of love and emotional and sexual attraction that we all need.

I always knew going into these situations, that the men I was seeing weren’t available for actual relationships. I never had to be told by others that, “He’s just not that into you.” None of the unavailable men with whom I have had sexual relationships can say I pushed them to do anything. I never bothered pursuing romantic relationships with these men because I knew, point blank, that they were unavailable. Instead, I stewed in my frustration and sadness, sharing my pain with one or two friends.

Over the years, my friends have made multiple attempts at setting me up with prospective boyfriends, but I always knew these men would be emotionally, mentally available. What a turn off – right? So I would refuse the set-up, or I would find a reason why that particular man wouldn’t work for me after going out with him.

I would occasionally date romantically available men for short periods of time; I gave them a small chance. But I would never allow them into my world, they wouldn’t meet my friends, they wouldn’t be a part of my life. And soon, they would either tire of the situation or I would find a polite way to move on.

The concept of unavailability in men comes in many different forms and it’s an issue I’ve seen many of my friends struggle with. For some, it’s about being in a relationship with a man who could physically be in the same room, but is a million miles away in terms of his emotional commitment. For others, it’s about falling in love with a man who will never be open to a sexual or romantic relationship. For me, an unavailable man is someone who gives me enough to live on emotionally and sexually, but is someone who is totally and literally unavailable for a relationship.

Sometimes, when we chase after things, we are not necessarily chasing after something that is inaccessible. My relationships with unavailable men have nothing to do with wanting what I can’t have. These relationships are about doing everything to avoid what I want the most.

The way I would fall in love with unavailable men was always the same. In fact, it had become so textbook that a few close friends would often notice and point it out when I was heading in that direction. I would sleep with a man, whether I knew he was available or not, and once I confirmed that he was unavailable, I would become more attracted to him. It wouldn’t take much for the emotional attraction to happen. If he said something sweet to me, or asked me the right questions, I couldn’t help but feel drawn to him. Whether the attraction would last for days, weeks, or months, it was incredibly intense and emotionally draining. And I lived out that pain in private.

The process would only be prolonged when I received a perfectly timed text-message or phone call from one of my unavailable men. These connections would provide the warmth and sense of closeness that I desired. Those text messages and phone calls were enough to keep me giving them what they wanted — so I could get what I needed.

My problems, my imperfections are the kind that everyone has. But for some reason, I felt like I had some sort of invisible cloak that prevented people from noticing these flaws unless I let them in. I was wrong. Everyone saw them, as any attempt at covering up problems only leads them to be revealed more publicly. My choice to engage with unavailable men stemmed precisely from this fear of intimacy and a fear of exposing my faults and inadequacies.

My attraction towards unavailable men taught me a big lesson, a lesson about my aversion to revealing my shortcomings to the world. I have fundamentally shifted how I see privacy and what it really means to be private.

Our need for privacy, for secrecy, for keeping our imperfections hidden is seriously taxing our lives — it took me away from myself and nearly destroyed me. We ironically admire this internal suffering as a strong character trait, “Oh, she’s so private,” or “He’s so private.” We seem to think this kind of silent suffering is honorable. It’s not.

For me, sharing my time with unavailable men was a major way to hide parts of myself. Being with these men was my version of privacy. Being forced to talk about my relationships with these unavailable men or being forced to talk about the resulting pain made me feel like I was being exposed to the world. For me, talking about my problems was a weakness. And that’s why I never did it. Until now.

Our tendency towards privacy often relates to our desire to hide our problems and our desire to conceal our fear of exposing personal issues and imperfections. But problems are generally not solved behind closed doors. I also think it’s nearly impossible to cover up or hide our general imperfections or issues — human beings are so perceptive that most people will soon realize that something is wrong. For me, privacy is now about keeping things special or keeping other people’s secrets. Privacy is no longer about burying my own secrets or imperfections. I just don’t care anymore about being judged.

Usually people wait until they’re extremely successful or well past their problems to discuss them. We are often willing to talk about our secrets or our problems once we have solved them. It’s so much more comfortable to say, “That’s how I used to be.” I’m not there yet. I thought about unavailable men yesterday, I thought about them this morning, and I am thinking about them now.

While revealing this issue about my life may be embarrassing for some to hear or know about, I no longer have an issue admitting that I have never felt truly close to anyone. Until now, I have not truly felt close to myself.

I really want to be in relationship. But I know I am not ready. There’s nothing I want to do more than respond to the text from one of my unavailable men that I just received. That text still gives me enough, even though it truly offers nothing. I still have the desire to get what I need from someone who doesn’t want to give me more than sex and a kind word, someone who won’t ask me any questions, someone who won’t require me to be a better person, someone who let’s me keep my privacy, and someone who allows me to keep all of my faults and shortcomings at bay.

But I know I have to stop sleeping and falling in love with unavailable men — because my need for privacy has left me feeling incredibly lonely.

I’ve been knocking on a door when I know that no one is home. I’m tired of waiting around for him to answer.

***

Yashar Ali is a Los Angeles-based columnist, commentator, and political veteran whose writings about women, gender inequality, political heroism, and society are showcased on his website, The Current Conscience. Please follow him on Twitter and join him on Facebook.

He will be soon releasing our first short e-book, entitled, A Message To Women From A Man: You Are Not Crazy — How We Teach Men That Women Are Crazy and How We Convince Women To Ignore Their Instincts. If you are interested and want to be notified when the book is released, please click here to sign-up.

Related Posts:

When Everything Is On His Terms
Now…Give Your Uncle A Kiss
The Modern Day Version of “Just The Tip”
Men Who E-Maintain Women
He Doesn’t Deserve Your Validation: Putting The Fake Orgasm Out of Business
A Message To Women From A Man: You Are Not Crazy

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Dec 2011 02

by Daniel Robert Epstein

“You fight because you realize that anything that would cause that much trouble must be worth fighting for.”
– Veronica Monet

Doing the interview with Veronica Monet was the first time I’’ve ever talked with a professional escort that didn’t end up costing me $300. Monet is a semi-retired escort that has just written the book, Sex Secrets of Escorts. It details all the things men want that she has gleaned from her 15 years of servicing them. While some may look down on the idea of women making money from having sex, Monet is a bit different. She’’s written a number of books, is a certified graduate of San Francisco Sex Information’s Sex Educator training and has appeared on such television shows as Politically Incorrect and A & E’s The Love Chronicles. So stop yapping about pocketbooks and listen up.

Read our exclusive interview with Veronica Monet on SuicideGirls.com.

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Nov 2011 25

by Yashar Ali

“I’m not going to talk to you when you’re acting this way.”

Whenever I ask my women friends about this phrase and what it means when they hear it from the men in their lives, they always have a strong reaction. One of frustration, anger, and annoyance.

You know how it makes you ultimately feel. This statement is about communication, a way to shut down the potential conversation that should happen. Men typically use this phrase as a way to avoid an uncomfortable or awkward moment — usually a situation in which they are being held accountable for their actions.

More significantly, this phrase is about taking control. When someone says this sentence, they are defining the situation on their terms — a man’s terms.

It’s gaslighting.

 But this phrase is related to a larger issue I’m exploring: why is the tone, tenor, nature, path, and dynamics of the relationships (and not just romantic relationships) that women have with men, so often on the man’s terms?

The man setting the terms of a relationship may seem obvious when we think of romantic relationships, or perhaps, even work dynamics, but I want to engage in a larger exploration about all the kinds of relationships that women have with men, from male relatives, to male friends and co-workers.

[..]

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Nov 2011 24

by Laurelin

The holidays are upon us. Halloween is over, and even with the turkey worshipping holiday only a few days away I find the world around me skipping over the gluttony and jumping right into the greed of the Christmas season. It’s everywhere: the commercials on TV, the lights going up all around my beautiful city, and my roommate bringing home scented candles that fill the house with the scent of peppermint and evergreen. I can’t help but feel a bit like the Grinch when his heart grew and burst out of that little metal box– I love this time of year. It makes me hopeful, the end of the year. Gathered with family, ready with friends to start a new year, a better year.

“It’s boyfriend season,” my friend Lindsay said the other night. We were appropriately perched at my bar just as I had gotten off of work, my ex having taken over for me. Sundays are weird, us working together. We need to be friends, so I stay even when my shift is through. I glanced up at him quickly, our eyes meeting for an awkward fleeting moment as I flashed back to Lindsay, nodding and clutching my pint of beer. My knuckles were white around the glass and I thought it might break. It didn’t. Neither did I. God, every minute here is like an hour, trying to not look like an asshole, trying not to just run screaming from the room. Winter is more like ex-boyfriend season. I seem to be on a roll starting the holidays on my own year after year. How festive.

Even with a few failures looming over my head I always feel lucky this time of year as well, impossibly lucky to have such an amazing family who supports me in everything I do. Never a word from my parents about who I was dating now and how it inevitably ended. Not a word about why I chose bartending, or why I chose writing. They know I chose a hard life, but one that makes me happy. I don’t have a husband or children to bring to Thanksgiving dinner or a lot of money in my bank account for retirement, I don’t have that amazing sense of style that my cousins have, the one that always makes me feel like I’m playing dress up no matter how nice I thought I looked when I left the house. I don’t have those things, but I feel lucky to have all of them, my family.

During the holidays we all sit by the woodstove in our slippers, and drink our coffee with Baileys and we talk. We talk about everything, and I feel so lucky to be the black sheep in a family who loves me. We remember when my brother was sick for years, and my family had no money so everyone would come to our house and bring food for Thanksgiving. We remember when my cousin Matt was fighting in Iraq, and my aunt and uncle were too heartsick to travel, so we all went to their house and decorated a tree and hung stockings from the fireplace. I had arranged for my friend Lisa who worked for the USO to send Matt and every man in his company Christmas care packages, and when I told my Aunt she said it was the best present, and we all cried.

I guess winter to me isn’t exactly boyfriend season– it’s the perfect season to be grateful for everything else that you have. It’s been another long year, a year of hard work and harder play. I know that I’m a little different than everyone else; still bartending, writing about drinking and ruined relationships. Just broke up with a new one, starting this new year alone. Again. Yes, I’m happy. Yes, seriously! Yes, I have more tattoos. No, you won’t like them. Pass my yellow duck slippers, I don’t know what I’m wearing but it’s not from The Gap and since the cousins showed up I feel frumpy. Pass the Baileys, we drink to my brother’s good health and his new marriage, to my cousin’s new baby and Matt’s safe return home. I might be in the midst of ex-boyfriend season, but it’s almost a new year, and we start it together. I can’t wait.

[..]

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Nov 2011 24

by Darrah de jour

All over the United States, a band of activists has sprung up to take the law into their own gloved hands. “Real life Superheroes” are anywhere from 18 to 62 years old, run the gamut of ethnicities, backgrounds, and gender expressions, and have no real training in fighting crime. However, captured in the Michael Barnett documentary Superheroes, they appear to be part of a movement that’s taking flight.

“The film touches on a zeitgeist-y moment. I think we’re in a very troubled time right now as a society,” Director Barnett tells me over a whisky on the rocks in the dimly lit Santa Monica bar, The Yard. “#OccupyWallStreet is a very power to the people movement. People are fed up and they feel like they don’t have control and they don’t have a voice. And they’re trying to create one. This movement is so on par with that. Though a little more eccentric, it is a protest,” he asserts. “It’s saying ‘I don’t think government is efficient, I don’t think they’re helping us. I don’t think that help is coming from the top down.’”

The perky waitress seems thrilled to interrupt us to refill empty glasses and eavesdrop. The subject of our banter, which careens into after dark street patrolling and hand-made weaponry, is no secret however. In fact, there are a plethora of online forums (such as RealLifeSuperheroes.org) where you and I can engage with these Stan Lee-esque vigilantes, and now, they are under a worldwide spotlight.

Having just returned from a London screening, Barnett, a commercial director who self-funded the film, reluctantly reveals that Superheroes has won multiple awards. Accolades include The Audience Award at Calgary Underground Film Festival and The Grand Jury Award at the Los Angeles United Film Festival, among others. Shot over 15 months, this lauded and still slyly hip documentary shines a well-balanced light on a growing phenomenon, which is spearheaded by people who are self-sacrificing but not martyrs, unassuming but politically-conscious, proactive but not reward seeking.

During the day, RLSH are security guards, teachers, tattoo artists, and stay-at-home dads. But, at night, not unlike Clark Kent’s famous transition into Superman, these young men and women transform into “Dark Guardian,” “Amazonia,” “Mr. Xtreme,” “Zimmer,” and “T.S.A.F” – which stands for The Silenced And Forgotten, and belongs to one of the three female Superheroes represented in the doc.

Their real identities remain under wraps, as do their faces. Wearing sunglasses, baseball caps, head scarves and then, of course, their masks (with the exception of Zimmer, an out gay New Yorker for whom a mask would be too much like crawling back into the closet) none of the crime fighters reveal their true selves. Who they are during bank hours is less important – sometimes even to them – than who they are after dark.

***

In 1964, a 28-year-old Catherine “Kitty” Genovese was stabbed multiple times in the New York neighborhood of Queens, and left to die. She was brutally assaulted – physically and sexually – and left to bleed out. Another shocking aspect of this violent crime is that a number of neighbors saw or heard the attack in progress – and did nothing. Rather, they chose to turn out their lights and draw down their curtains. Allegedly, one neighbor even turned up his radio to drown out her screams. They simply “didn’t want to get involved,” one witness said. Kitty’s death made international headlines. In our own backyard, our most defeatist trait was killing women. Apathy.

The memory of Genovese’s death, and what is now termed “the bystander effect,” served as a call to arms for Mr. Xtreme, a San Diego superhero and a central figure in the film. He told me, “Genovese is an icon. There’s a lot of Kitty Genovese’s out there, and whether male or female, young or old, I see this happening all the time. It gets us fired up and outraged.” A mentor for youth and would-be Superheroeshe explains, “We want to show young people an alternative to gangs, drugs and the criminal life. Saving a life is the most rewarding part of being a real life superhero. And inspiring people.”

The 35-year-old activist and founder of The Xtreme Justice League, who has a working relationship with police, was recently recognized as a key tool in the capture of the Chula Vista Groper – a man who for five years groped and possibly sexually assaulted women in the area. San Diego Deputy Mayor Rudy Ramirez commended Mr. Xtreme’s help in spreading public awareness. Ramirez said, “The work that Mr. Xtreme has done with posting the fliers certainly contributed to…the capture of the Chula Vista Groper.”

While some dismiss these Superheroes as just outfitted danger seekers, the truth is, many are soldiers for the homeless population in their neighborhood. “Zeta Kits” – Ziplock bags filled with twenty-dollars worth of ‘must-haves’ like deodorant, socks, toilet paper and lip balm, are purchased out of pocket, and passed out by Portland power couple Zetaman and Apocalypse Meow. Irony beware, during Comic-Con, while caped wannabe’s paraded their latest and greatest, winning awards and recognition, the humble RLSH population banded together on the streets in shady intersections, helping the down and out improve their luck.

Filmmaker Barnett and I continued our tete`-a-tete´ well past the first drink, adventuring about the technical and philosophical facets to life as a superhero. Listen in.

Darrah de jour: Let’s start with a technical question. What type of camera did you use?

Michael Barnett: Canon 5D mark II.

Ddj: Do you think that your film has resulted in an upsurge of real life Superheroes?

MB: Definitely. Mr. Xtreme of the Xtreme Justice League in the beginning of our film was an army of one. Now, I think there’s fifteen in his unit in San Diego and they’ve opened a branch in Oregon.

Ddj: Are there any international Superheroes?

MB: There are a ton of international Superheroes. They’re all over.

Ddj: I noticed that a lot of Superheroes in the film had a traumatic upbringing or events that turned them into crime fighters as opposed to being criminals themselves. What are your thoughts on that?

MB: I think it’s an astute observation. I don’t often make generalizations about this community because each person does it for their own reasons and they do it in their own way. But the one thing I really did discover is that by and large – not every one of them – but a large percentage, had some tragedy or trauma happen to them and it’s now manifesting itself as a need to do good for others.

Ddj: One of the Superheroes mentioned that he traded in alcohol for fighting crime. Do you think that a lot of these guys are adrenaline junkies?

MB: Some of them are adrenaline junkies, some of them abide by the law, some of them are fearful in their approach. Some of them really are in it to have a physical encounter with other people.

Ddj: Stan Lee is in the film, and he mentions that none of them have actual superhero powers and that they are putting themselves in danger. What do you think is the greatest danger they are encountering at night on patrols?

MB: These guys patrol in terrible neighborhoods. And America is hurting right now. It’s a tough time for this country. There are very dangerous places all over this country, in every city, and these guys go right to the epicenter of the worst parts of their communities. So it’s not the safest job in the world.

Ddj: Is there any level of in-fighting or politics in the group?

MB: There is. These guys do this because they’re really fed up. They’re fed up with bureaucracy and society status quo and they’re looking for a way to make grassroots change. And in the end there’s no rulebook or manifesto, so they’re trying to make their own rules as they go and they don’t always agree with each other about what those rules should be.

Ddj: A lot of them had handmade weapons. I have a list: a flashlight that doubles as a stun gun, or a 16” baton Amazonia had, a ring of Pharaoh’s fire, bear mace and a sonic grenade. Which weapon was your favorite?

MB: My favorite weapon was Master Legend’s Iron Fist. It can do incredible amounts of damage. It could be a cautionary tale and I think it will be in the near future with one of them getting hurt in a situation.

Ddj: Dark Guardian had a very protective costume. Who do you think had the most appropriate costume for crime fighting?

MB: Master Legend had a costume like a tank, a bullet proof vest, helmet, boots.

Ddj: The animation in the film made you feel like you were watching a comic book. Who did the animation?

MB: We wanted every character to have their own very distinct look. Mr. Xtreme felt very indie comic, very Ghost World. So we hired Jeremy Arambulo. New York Initiative felt very dark and sharp, so we got the well known Rev. Dave Johnson to do that. Master Legend – the art there was so beautiful. That was Andy Suriano. Captain Sticky was very retro. So we went with an old school comic book artist, Richard Pose. They drew the panels and then we handed them to Syd Garon who brought it all to life. I think fanboys will specifically respond to this film.

Ddj: I really appreciated the fact that there were multiple ethnicities reflected as well as women who are RLSH. You introduced Stan Lee talking about a comic book where a female protagonist was running in heels and he thought that her legs looked good in heels, but that wedgies would be more realistic. Was there any subliminal feminism or commentary in why you entered with that?

MB: I just thought it was very funny. Women are drawn in comics so specifically. I had fantasized as a kid about so many women in comics. Rogue from X-Men. Stan’s 90 years old and I thought it was great that he’s still so aware. I thought it was perceptive and nostalgic. He knows his audience.

Ddj: Mr. Xtreme’s family wasn’t extremely supportive of his life choice to be a RLSH. If you were a parent, how would you feel about your child being one?

MB: It would be a mixed bag. I would do everything I could to get them trained properly.

Ddj: The New York Initiative used “baiting” as a tactic during night patrols. What are your thoughts on having a flamboyant, gay character like Zimmer played to trap a homophobe? Do you think it’s ethical?

MB: It’s hard to be present for crime. The police deter crime and solve crime after it happens. Very rarely are they there for crime. You have a team of very young, ambitious, intelligent, motivated RLSH in the NYI and they don’t want to sit around and wait for crime. They want to root out criminality in a courageous way, that’s rarely been done. It was super unsafe and terrifying to shoot. They’re risking their lives.

Ddj: If you could have any superpower what would it be?

MB: The power to stop time.

Superheroesthe movie is playing on HBO and in select theatres nationwide. It’s also available on DVD. For more info visit: www.SuperheroesTheMovie.com

***

Post-feminist sex and sensuality expert Darrah de jour is a freelance journalist who lives in LA with her dog Oscar Wilde. Her writing has appeared in Marie Claire, Esquire and W. In her Red, White and Femme: Strapped With A Brain – And A Vagina columns for SuicideGirls, Darrah will be taking a fresh look at females in America. Hear her being interviewed about female sexuality on the WingGirlMethod.com, visit her blog at Darrahdejour.com/srblog, and find her on Facebook.

[..]

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Nov 2011 21

by SG’s Team Agony feat. Aadie

Let us answer life’s questions – because great advice is even better when it comes from SuicideGirls.


[Aadie in Time Out]

Q. I’m 27 years old mother of three with a boyfriend that I’ve been with for four years. He is driving me nuts but he is the father of my youngest and he’s good with the kids. My question is about this other guy that I play video games with. He is a 28-year old single parent with two kids and we are really good friends. I can’t take my mind off him and that too is driving me nuts/ I’m like so torn up about what to do. I can really see myself with this guy but I don’t know if I’m messing up by thinking about letting my boyfriend go (he has broken up with me like 30 times). I don’t know what to do?

A: I think that most single men are pretty much exactly the same, just with different faces. This is so we can tell them apart – lol.

So keep that in mind (new boy = new problems). If you’re falling out of love with your boyfriend, you should be true to him and true to yourself. You can A: Leave him, or B: stick it out for your children. But whichever path you find yourself walking, I strongly hope you will be steering clear of your male video gaming hombre.

I think because this male friend is there and is listening to you, he’s a source of comfort given that your current situation is causing you distress. You’re therefore more drawn to him now then you normally would be. Leaving one man and running to arms of another won’t help you solve anything. Maybe you just really need some “on your own time” to think things through with your boyfriend, but don’t forget to communicate with him either.

Aadie
xoxo

***

Got Problems? Let SuicideGirls’ team of Agony Aunts provide solutions. Email questions to: gotproblems@suicidegirls.com

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Nov 2011 18

by Yashar Ali

The shocking and tragic events at Penn State that have unfolded over the past two weeks, which exposed former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky as a sexual predator, have (yet again) brought the issue of child sex abuse to the forefront of our collective consciousness.

In light of recent events, I want to discuss an issue, a behavior, that has bothered me for some time. It’s about how we encourage our kids to abandon their sense of self-trust –– their instinct and intuition –– in order to be polite by showing physical affection to adults.

How often, especially during the holidays, are children confronted with moments like this one: a relative comes to visit and the child’s parents say something like, “Now, give your uncle a hug and kiss.”


And when the child refuses to provide physical affection, or hesitates at the request, they sometimes hear things like, “You’re hurting your uncle’s feelings. It’s not polite. Now, go give him a hug and kiss.”

Some of us even remember our relatives asking us (some may say pleading or begging) for affection, “Aren’t you going to give me a hug and kiss? Please?!”

I think insisting and cajoling a child into showing physical affection towards an adult in this manner is incredibly dangerous. Whether it’s a relationship between a child and his/her relatives or one between a kid and an adult who is an acquaintance, family friend, or mentor, this type of behavior, in which children are expected to show physical affection as a sign of respect, is something I think we all need to be careful about.

When a child gives us the sense that they don’t want to be physically affectionate with someone, our tendency is to encourage the child, at that particular moment, to abandon their intuition and instinct –– it’s a small step towards the erosion of that child’s sense of self-trust. At that moment, we are telling them, “Forget about how you feel. Do something that makes you feel uncertain and uncomfortable, so that someone else (an adult) can feel acknowledged and respected.”

We are all built with a natural, innate sense of what feels right and wrong. Every species of animal is born with an instinctual drive. Unfortunately, the human species is the only one that is continually taught to ignore their instincts by their elders.

There is, however, a difference between intuition and instinct. Even though the words are often confused as synonyms for each other, there is a simple way to separate the two. We are all born with instinct, but intuition is built through education, living, and practice. Our intuition is linked to a keen and quick insight.

These two internal senses, intuition and instinct, make up my idea of self-trust. I see self-trust as related to trusting your reactions, your feelings about people, circumstances, and decisions. I see self-trust as the most authentic reactions and feelings.

I acknowledge that some kids are just being difficult, but it’s not about their motivation so much as it is about our reaction. When we initiate a process where we require boys and girls to have physical interaction even if they don’t want to, we’re also telling them to ignore their sense of self-trust. We are teaching kids that adults are in charge of who they should be and are affectionate with. We are telling them that they don’t have the right, or power to make their own decisions about human, physical interaction.

Again, it’s the little moments that create a big collective weight over time.

But my point is, no one has the right to demand affection, or an innate right to receive it, especially from a child. It’s not merely part of normal, polite interactions. It’s extra.

Insisting on a hug or a kiss may seem innocuous enough to us, as adults, but can you imagine asking, or expecting an adult to hug and kiss another adult as a way to show acknowledgement or respect?

Normally, we wouldn’t encourage two adults to have that sort of interaction because we all have a sense of what kinds of physical affection are appropriate in a given circumstance. We have a sense of what we feel comfortable with and we react according to our gut.

Why can’t we allow children to tap into this same instinctive, internal sense?

This doesn’t mean I think we should live in a society without affection. To the contrary.

But the idea that a child can be forced, guilt-tripped or cajoled into affection is disgusting to me. It’s not a light-hearted or funny moment, it’s sad. In that instance, we are telling that child to give up their physical selves in order to appease us adults, for reasons that they don’t fully understand or appreciate. Our motivation, whether it’s social embarrassment or a desire to connect with the child, puts us first, rather than thinking of them first…as it should be.

When it comes to acknowledging other people, the most we can expect from children is for them to politely and verbally greet adults. As far as I’m concerned, anything beyond that is expecting too much and is patently unfair.

Some may say that this way of handling interaction between adults and children will build up cynicism in kids, will rob them of their innocence, and will make them overly cautious of adults – or even teach them to be aloof.

Well, our childhoods have never been innocent (now or ever). One out of every four girls and one of out of every six boys will face sexual abuse before their 18th birthday. We only have to look at the numbers to understand that for many kids, there have never been bright, sunny childhoods.

For much too long, they have been filled with silent moments of sexual abuse, we just haven’t discussed them. They have been hidden away, just like the victims of Jerry Sandusky. It’s only when we shatter this myth of a childhood era of innocence that we can begin to understand what children truly face.

Sexual abuse completely revamps the blueprint of the victim’s life. Their worldview shifts, the way they process trust, how they build relationships, their sense of safety, are all permanently altered.

So, I think I’d much rather have our children be slightly cynical and aware, to encourage them to follow their sense of self-trust, and, as a result, give them a better chance of protecting themselves, than to insist that kids must show physical affection regardless of whether they feel comfortable doing so.

After all, it’s not like we’ve done our part to protect our kids, not at all. And if we have any doubt about that, all we have to do is think about Mike McQueary, looking on as that poor boy was raped in the locker room shower at Penn State.

***

Yashar Ali is a Los Angeles-based columnist, commentator, and political veteran whose writings about women, gender inequality, political heroism, and society are showcased on his website, The Current Conscience. Please follow him on Twitter and join him on Facebook

He will be soon releasing our first short e-book, entitled, A Message To Women From A Man: You Are Not Crazy — How We Teach Men That Women Are Crazy and How We Convince Women To Ignore Their Instincts. If you are interested and want to be notified when the book is released, please click here to sign-up.

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