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A Social Experiment, or Am I Just Looking For Validation?

11 Jun

Most of the people I meet I find online. It’s a sad fact of being married and polyamorous, that’s the only place I can find new people. When I see a cute girl at the coffee shop, I can’t exactly go up to her and strike up a conversation, sooner or later she spots my wedding ring and leaps to the conclusion I am looking to cheat, and no amount of explanation can counter that initial negative reaction.

And so I look online. That’s just fine, OkC is a great site, and I’ve met a lot of great people there. But the other day I came across a dating site with a unique twist. Beautifulpeople.com. Only the most beautiful people are allowed on to this ‘exclusive’ site. When you sign up you are required to post a picture of yourself, and then existing members of the opposite sex have 48 hours to rate your attractiveness, and if you don’t score high enough you are rejected.

I had to try this.

Now, I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly attractive man, and despite what my wife and girlfriends tell me, I was positive I would never make the cut. I was expecting that rejection, actually. Counting on it. Partially I was keeping my expectations low, and part of me was looking forward to being able to rant about how this superficial and narcissistic site was a symbol of all that is wrong with society.

I called it my Great Social Experiment. To see if I rated well enough to be accepted, and once there, to take a peak into the minds of the most attractive people.

I will admit that there was this tiny part of me that wanted to be accepted, to be told I was ‘beautiful’.

So I uploaded a pic of myself, and sat back to watch the votes roll in. I chose one of my favorite pics of myself, one my dear Meredith took when she came to visit. It’s my FB profile pic, and those who know my love it, saying it’s quintisentially me. In hind-site, a pic of me clutching a cigar might not have been the best choice…

BeautifulPeople uses a 4 pt rating system, those being ‘Beautiful’, ‘Hmmm OK’, ‘No’, and ‘Absolutely Not’. They display a bar graph breaking down the various votes you’ve received, and a running total of ‘In’ or ‘Out’. I started out well, with a few ‘Hmmm OK’s and a handful of ‘Beautiful’s, with slightly less ‘No’s and slightly more ‘Absolutely Not’s. It was interesting to watch the score vary over the course of the day, back and fourth. And yes, I will admit that each ‘Absolutely Not’ stung just a little, but on the other hand each ‘Beautiful’ felt glorious.

In the end, I made it by the the narrowest of margins.

And I’m not sure how I feel about that.

I spent a day poking around before deleting my account, seeing what was going on. And there really weren’t any girls on there I would want to date. First, I am judging them by their interest in joining such a site; and secondly it becomes clear my concept of beauty does not conform to society’s ideal. Also, men are bastards, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

A while ago on OkC this girl messaged me, asking about the poly community, expressing interest in meeting me. I am polysaturated at the moment, and I told her I was unable to meet anyone new. We exchanged a few messages, and I wasn’t impressed by her grammar, and then suddenly she asked me where she could fine ‘only the attractive poly people’. Only. The. Attractive. Wow. Well, I didn’t know about BeautifulPeople.com yet, so I shrugged off the question. Now of course I can send her to where only the shallow and narcissistic people hang out. I’m sorry, but you will never convince me there is anyone worth dating on that site. If you think you are so attractive as to deserve to only date, or even have your profile looked at by the most beautiful people, then you and I are quite simply not going to get along.

My concept of beauty. Right. I like women with unique faces. I like character in a face, personality, I like expressive faces. I do not like conformity. I am not attracted to Cover Girl models. And that’s what this site offered.  Every girl who had a good rating looked exactly the same, and every single applicant I was drawn to was rated very strongly in the ‘Absolutely Not’ category.

Which brings me to Men Are Bastards. Seriously, there is no middle ground with doods. When rating women myself-to be intellectually honest about my experiment I had to participate fully in the process-it was either all the way ‘Beautiful’ or nothing but ‘Absolutely Not’.

I have to imagine that the women of this site were not much different. And I’m not quite sure how I feel that I made the cut. I’m a little relieved I barely meet their standards, honestly.

 

Incidentally, this is the pic I used:

 

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Apparently I’m a Sexist Douche Bag

20 Sep

The other day I received a message on one of the dating sites I frequent quoting a section of my profile stating that it was ‘grossly offensive’.

What the fuck?

I was seriously taken aback. Offensive? To whom? How? I read the offending paragraph, which expressed my preferences in women, and scratched at my head. I replied asking for clarification, and was informed that my preferences were sexist. I was really stumped.

It’s not that hard to find blogs about the offensive ‘nice guys’ of dating sites. There are men who call themselves feminists yet think women have a moral obligation to shave their legs. There are men with the handle NiceGuy327 who say in their profile ‘Fatties need not apply’. There are even men who claim to be progressive and at the same time want a woman to have a job and be able to take care of themselves instead of relying on a man to buy dinner.

But me?

I like round women. I like women with strong opinions and knee jerk opinion and occasional bouts of insanity. I like freaks and geeks and craft store hippies. I like strong and confident, I like shy and awkward. I don’t like high maintenance plastic barbie types.

This really hit me hard, and I still don’t know why. I would say I don’t like the idea that I’ve offended people, but then I actually like offending the easily offended, conservative nut jobs and right wingers and religious fundamentalists. So why did this time bother me? Maybe because when I argue with a fundie and they tell me I’m going to hell I expect that: I’m an atheist and expect that kind of insult. But sexist? I’m the sensitive feminist guy!

During our conversation it was revealed she found my profile on a blog mocking sexist profiles. She claimed she was not the only one who thought my profile was sexist. It felt like I had been kicked in the gut. There was an entire blog post about how sexist my profile was, with several woman all joining in with complaints? I was sick to my stomach.

It took me a while to find this blog, and it turns out the owner is a self labeled Anti-Feminist who hates the words Rape Culture because, he claims, it promotes militant feminism, anti-male sentiment and also encourages ‘regret sex rape accusations’. My profile in particular was linked to in a rant about a forum thread four years ago in which I called him on being a superficial twat. The subject of the thread was men who felt attacked because they received criticism for expressing a repulsion for ‘fatties’. This guy was one of those guys who wrote in their profile ‘HWP only, no fatties’. As I said, I called him on it, and instead of fashioning a reasoned and articulate reply, he attacked me and a few others on his personal blog.

And this was the source of this woman’s complaint about my profile?

Ok, I’m starting to get it now. There are no real complaints, this woman simply reacted emotionally to something I wrote, and took personal offense.

Apparently stating a preference, ANY preference is sexist. To borrow one quote from a Tumblr blog mocking sexist dating site profiles: Pro tip: The only thing that turns me off more than you telling me how loving/caring/gentlemanly you are is you telling me what you’re looking for in a woman.

To quote from a previous blog post of mine: I prefer women with long hair. I like glasses. I like curvy girls. Punks and goths and hippies and librarians. I like sun dresses and leather jackets and combat boots. I like jeans and sweaters and flip flops… Are these preferences wrong? Am I being superficial for having them? I also like smart women, educated women, opinionated women. So am I repressing the dumb and the ignorant and the milquetoast?

Somehow that makes me an offensive sexist douche bag. Because I gave voice to things I have noticed I tend to notice.

I don’t like high maintenance plastic barbie types. That’s the kicker right there, the line that offended her. I was told that was offensive to women who have had plastic surgery, and that whole high maintenance thing really set her off. The word ‘plastic’ in no way links to cosmetic surgery, but is used to imply shallow and superficial. Ok, maybe I can see how you might be offended by criticism of high maintenance girls, in a different context. I was not ranting about girly girls or fashionistas. I was not attacking anybody, it wasn’t a criticism, though there are certainly unintended tones of negativity. I think there is definitely a difference between Refined and High Maintenance, between being able to express a desire for attention and demanding material things.  I thought I was clear I meant the superficial and demanding, rather than worth the effort. I’ve found quite a few blogs defending the term High Maintenance, and so have removed that from my profile. It’s a bit contentious, like taking ownership of the word Slut, and is too in depth to delve into here.

I think this woman was perhaps a bit too overly sensitive, and reacted emotionally to one or two lines. But she got me thinking, about good guy sexism and about derogatory terms like High Maintenance. And that’s always a good thing.

Time for Goodby

27 Feb

Given that my most recent post was at the beginning of December, I think it’ll come as no surprise when I say that this is my last post here.

I always find it a bit annoying and puzzling when people just abruptly stop updating their blog, with no goodby. But I’ve been putting off writing this post because I find I really don’t have much to say about why I’m going. It’s been fun, but I’ve a need to spend my time elsewhere. Myrddwn and Bayani are going to continue to blog here and I’ll pop in as a commenter from time to time.

Be well and be happy.

 

Personal Space

7 Oct

Money is tight around here. Desperately tight. My time as a Stay At Home Dad might be coming to an end. My wife and I still want me here with the kids during the day, getting them up and fed and dressed and off to school. I still want my day free to do laundry and yardwork and remodeling on the house. And day care is freaking expensive, at the wages I could make going back to work as a carpenter, more than half of my income would be going to pay someone else to raise my kids.

So I have decided to look for a night job.

Last week I went for a tour of the UPS hub, looking at a position as a Package Handler during the Twilight Sort. There were about twenty other people in my tour. And as we each walked up to the guard shack and signed in, we were instructed to wait over by this picnic table. I was the fourth one there, and I sat down at the last open corner of the table. Now, that table would have held all twenty of us easily, but only four of us sat there. Each stranger stood about six feet from the others. We could have each extended our arms and not touched another person.

I found this interesting. There was more than enough room for each of us to sit, had we been willing to touch another human being. But we chose not to.

During the tour I was surprised by the cramped working conditions. It was a labyrinth of twisting walkways and cramped work stations. There was a row of perhaps sixty to eighty people standing shoulder to shoulder in front of a conveyer belt, receiving packages which they then sorted into one of the nine slots behind them. They had barely enough room to turn around.

This stood in stark contrast to the six foot clearance we had preferred earlier.

I could tell some of the applicants were seriously turned off by the conditions and type of work presented. Not me. I’ve been doing physical labor for fifteen years now, I am no stranger to it. In fact, I miss it. This sedentary life I have chosen is not good for me. I need to move, to stretch, to strain and work my muscles.

It seemed as though each of us were simply not used to being that close to people, to touching. No one sat at the table in a way that would have required us to touch, as if the idea of contact were unpleasant. As a society we have become too distant from each other, separated by chat rooms and cell phones.

It got me thinking about personal space.

For me, the personal space I value is not so much the immediate space around me, as it is my home. My home is inviolate, sacred. My time with my children is personal space that I value. I don’t want to give that up any more than those other applicants wanted to stand shoulder to shoulder with me, and that is why I won’t take another job that would require me to give up that time. Some people would never want to give up their evenings, but right now I would rather have my mornings and days with my children.

My writing is also a kind of personal space for me. A way to work out stress or ideas or worries, a way to express myself, to stretch my creative muscles, a way to exercise my mind. I think part of the reason I have not been able to write very much lately is this lack of exercise. I have access to the computer all day, it squats there like a high-tech toad, mocking me, teasing me with distractions(yes, porn is one such). Ideas don’t build up for hours while I am working, ready to burst onto the screen the moment I sit down at the keyboard.

So I am hoping this job will help with that. Get me out of the house for five hours a day, to let my creative mind wander, build up imaginative steam, till I am ready once again to sit down at the keyboard and write.

And as far as real personal space with people, I think I am a bit backwards. I desire my closeness with people who are important to me. I’m a hugger. And with those people I share an erotic relationship with, I’m a toucher and a cuddler, I allow myself to indulge in physical affection.

Last summer we attended an event with Fanny and her parents. I had to keep my hands to myself and I didn’t like it one bit. Her parents invaded my personal space, preventing me from holding hands or kissing her neck or even placing my hand on the small of her back.

There are lots of spaces I consider personal, places and ideas and times and relationships, things I do not want violated.

Having to choose to give up my evenings with my wife, dinner with the family, was a tough choice. I had to prioritize which of my personal spaces were important. I let my need for money intrude into my Evenings With the Family space. So be it. Some personal spaces are more inviolate than others.

Oh, I got the job. I start monday.

Theory on the De-Evolution of Man

30 Sep

I have this theory, that when faced with a problem, mankind will inevitably begin with the most technologically advanced option, and will then proceed backwards along the evolutionary scale until we eventually reach Hit It With a Rock and finally Bite It.

Right now that scale tops out at Particle Accelerator, or if you are not an astrophysicist, a Smart Phone App.

This theory was confirmed recently while watching two friends try to figure out why their car would not start. They both pulled out their smart phones and downloaded automobile repair troubleshooting apps. Then the internet was consulted. The Great Google God of Information. Next, volt-meters were applied. Then ratcheting wrenches, hammers, and and finally one lost his temper and just kicked the damned thing. The loose wire was eventually tracked down and repaired.

But the real story is the event that lead me to developing the theory in the first place.

Kasini’s story of lighting herself on fire reminded me of this one friend of mine I used to go camping with. One time, and this is not the relevant story but a segue, he was trying to start the fire using kerosene. Predictably, the can caught on fire, causing him to scream bloody murder, throw the can down, and proceed to stomp out the fire. He stomped on the can of kerosene, which then crushed and sprayed flaming fuel twenty feet across the campsite. I emerged from my tent to see a wall of fire separating me from what appeared to be a deranged orangutan running in circles screaming ‘oh god oh god were gonna die.’

No eyebrows were lost, the forest didn’t burn down, and he has yet to live down the event.

One a subsequent trip all our food for the entire three day back country packing trip, except for a bag of instant rice, was in cans.

Guess who forget the can-opener.

I did not find this out until we had set up camp five miles down Lower Courthouse Wash in Arches National Park. Not only had he failed to bring the assigned can-opener, but my emergency opener, which was wired to the zipper of my backpack, had mysteriously disappeared.

We didn’t have a particle accelerator, or a smart phone with a can opening app. But we had a hatchet.

That didn’t work.

Neither did a pocket knife, or keys or anything else we could think of . Finally, out of sheer frustration and desperation, I hit the damn can with a rock, which burst open, spilling forth its delicious guts of chicken and gravy. I swear, had the rock not worked I would have just bitten the damn thing and sucked out the juice, I was that hungry. There may have been warpaint applied, I cannot recall.

Half an hour later we found the can-opener that my friend had stolen off my backpack to try to gouge open a bag of beef jerky.

She Does It, Why Not Me? or To Shave, Or Not To Shave

9 Sep

I was at this party last month, one of those wild ones with bottles of absinth lounging about in sexy poses and a pile of discarded and empty clothing on the table, when the condition of my pubic hair became the topic of conversation.

Well, this was a bit classier than that, this was no orgy, just a wild party. It was a Corset and Glamor party, with a select crowd who could be trusted to behave a safe and non threatening drunken and debacherous manner.

I walked out to check on the stew of lovely ladies simmering in the hot-tub, and this new friend of ours, let’s call her Peaches, loudly demanded to know why I refused to trim my pubes.

Continue reading

Things With Faces

23 May

A friend recently roasted an entire pig to celebrate his birthday.  His soon to be step-son made the connection that meat used to alive and walking around, and he has now decided to become a vegetarian.

As the unofficial pork and barbecue expert in our group, I was asked to be involved.  Not in the making of a vegetarian, in the roasting of the pig.  This was a first for me.  Not only my first whole pig, but my first time cooking something with a face.  It was a little unnerving to look at the dead animal’s eyes as I was covering it with rub and placing over the pit we had constructed.  It had eyes and toes and teeth.  I can easily see how a person could be so moved as to give up meat after such an experience.

But it was just too delicious to pass up.  And there is just something primally enjoyable about gnawing charred flesh from a bone.  We are far too civilized in my opinion.

Besides, the animal was already dead.  It was a locally raised pig, we were told, from an ethical pig farmer who did not use high density feed lots.  I was comfortable dining on the flesh of such an animal.  I have been trying to eat more responsibly, researching growers and farms, finding sources for responsible meat.  This is difficult at times, and rather expensive.  We eat a lot less meat these days, but the quality more than makes up for it.

For some time I have been saying that there is an enormous disconnect between our food’s source and our plate.  Meat comes from the store, wrapped in paper.  Milk comes in jugs(plastic ones, not my preferred fleshy jugs<ok, milk does come from those but I am not interested in pouring it on my frosted flakes>).  Eggs come in cartons.

We do not like to think about where our food comes from, we have spent far too long not knowing, and it has become distasteful.

I don’t want my children to have that kind of disconnect, I don’t want them to grow up thinking that food comes in little cardboard boxes.  Just add hot water and stir.

Which is why we are getting chickens.

I’ve wanted chickens for some time now.  Eggs are perhaps my favorite source of protein, and farm-fresh eggs are definitely in my top five favorite foods, with Brick Oven Pizza, a Charcoal Grilled Garlic Burger, a Really Damn Good Grilled Cheese and a Peach fresh off the tree.

A few years ago, while working as a carpenter, my boss and I were building a garage for my cousin who happens to keep chickens.  He also happens to be a vegetarian who won’t eat eggs (don’t ask me to explain why he keeps chickens).  Every day he would send us home with a carton of fresh eggs.  White and brown and even blue and green.  My boss had never in his life eaten a brown egg.  To him, eggs were white.  He was very brave and tried a brown egg, but could not bring himself to eat a green or blue one, even knowing rationally that what was inside was exactly the same.  It was simply too far outside of his experience for him to be comfortable with it.

My kids fought over who got the blue and green eggs.

I decided I wanted chickens too.  And while talking about it with the family, my oldest daughter, who was six at the time, made the connection that chicken(meat) and chicken(bird) were one and the same.  She refused to eat chicken anymore.  I patiently explained that the dumb bags of meat that are grown for consumption are not the same as the clever, funny, and cute birds people keep as pets.  Crisis averted, burgeoning vegetarianism nipped in the bud.  She still devours chicken with gusto.

That event did cement my resolve to get chickens.  I want my daughters to see where some of their food comes from.  We have a garden, and they eat the produce they see growing there.  They will have to help care for the chickens, and they will collect the eggs from beneath them.

I do not plan on slaughtering any of my chickens.  They will be pets, not food.  And I do not plan on getting a pig or turkey to fatten up.  I doubt my own resolve.  I do not think I could look an animal in the eye, one that I had raised and fed and watched play, and then either kill it or deliver it to be slaughtered.  I have been too civilized, I have been far to disconnected from my food.

And I am ok with that.