Death of online privacy due to SESTA and FOSTA

There has been much written and talked about the Facebook data leak at the hands of Cambridge Analytics. What I don’t think folks realize is that has all been rendered pointless through recent legislature at the federal level. While there was congressional hearings where Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, was subjected to “grueling grilling” by members of congress, other members of congress were passing legislation requiring all US-based internet providers to sensors and monitor all activity on their systems. Let me explain what I’m talking about.

Recently two federal legislations became law, Stop Enabling Sex-Trafficking Act (SESTA) and Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA). The names of these laws make claims that all decent human being can’t help but get behind, I mean who doesn’t support fighting Sex Trafficking, or any form of human trafficking for that matter. This may have contributed to how quickly this passed through congress., there was only like one or two nay votes on these bills. As is so often the case the name of these bills and the associated sound bits are misleading or dare I say fraudulent and manipulated. These bills do nothing to stop or fight sex trafficking as most people would interpret that term. Instead what these bills do is take away any sort of safety net that sex workers might have, increasing the chance they be abducted into the sex slave industry, attacked, abused or just plain killed, and in the process kill all online privacy.

Let me start by declaring that human trafficking is a horrific problem that any decent human being would be against. It’s not a new problem, just a modern name for the centuries old slave trading issue. Also this isn’t isolated to sex work industry, so to frame the issue as a sex trafficking is just wrong. Slave trading or human trafficking is known to be a problem in garment industry and there are rumors of it existing in the farming industry as well. I’m sure there are other industries plagued with it as well that we just don’t hear about. Why don’t we hear about garment trafficking (the news accurately refer to those cases as human trafficking), that would make just as much sense as talking about sex trafficking. Lets call a spade a spade and just refer to the whole problem as slave trading, because ultimately that’s what it is. In order to solve the slave trading problem we need to focus on it holistically. Even if we were to manage to stop one particular industry from using slaves, that does nothing to stop the overall slave trade problem. The slave traders would just focus on the other industries. So let’s stop using the phrase sex trafficking as it really does nothing but skew the issue.

Now back to my statement that SESTA and FOSTA are more likely to increase the slave trading in the sex industry, and possible other industries as well, than they are to reduce it. Let me explain my thinking there, which is influenced by Twitter posts from actual sex workers along with common sense and critical thinking. The bill promoters proclaim that by shutting down platforms used by sex workers, preventing them from both networking and advertising their services, they won’t be able to find any clients and ta-da all human traffic problems are now solved because all sexworkers are certainly nothing more than sex slaves. Obviously the slave traders are just dumb brutes and if they can’t take out ads on BackPage they’re just going to let all their victims go free and become law-abiding citizens that respect women. Hopefully you caught on to the dripping sarcasm in that statement. If you found those statements dumb beyond believe, congratulation you are capable of critical thinking. I seriously doubt that the slave traders are advertising on the open internet, and finding one or two isolated cases of that does not a trend make. I believe most of criminal activity, including slave trading, happens on the black market and the dark web. Shutting down sites like BackPage wont do one iota of difference or deter criminals one bit. I believe the men that do business with slave traders, especially those that specialize in selling women for sex, are your average wife beaters, rapists and men who think abusing women is just good old fun sport. I believe no decent guy would do business with guys like that. I am of the believe that all criminals (including rapists, abusers, etc) network together through word of mouth, dark web and general black market and they do not rely on public online marketplaces that hard working providers depend on for their livelihood.

What is important here is to differentiate between sex workers that have chosen sex work as their preferred carrier, versus folks that have been kidnapped and sold into slavery and forced to do sex work. Any guy that understands consent (i.e. not a rapists) can easily tell the difference and would not do business with those types.

What happens when you shut down sites like BackPage and the like is you are taking away the livelihood of women that have voluntarily chosen to work in the sex industry. Now they need to scramble for new ways to find clients, which usually means taking to the streets. This results in rapid increase in street walking sex workers. Street walking sex workers are extremely vulnerable to predators, rapists, kidnappers and murderers. This means that the likelihood that they be kidnapped and sold into sex slavery goes up significantly. So instead of eliminating the problem like the promoters of those bill would like you to think they end up making the problem worse. So instead of making life better for women and rescuing them from their captures, they are making things much worse risking them getting killed, abused and kidnapped. They are less likely to screen their clients and more likely to end up with rapists and killers.

SESTA and FOSTA hold online hosting provider responsible for any illicit or illegal activity taking place on their platform, including sex workers networking for safety. The only way any provider of any social media, online forum, or even email service, can be compliant with these laws is to monitor and censor everything that is going on. Skype has updated their terms of service prohibiting swearing and other offensive language, which I’m guessing they’re going to enforce by listen in and sensor every conversation. There are reports that providers are taking down sites that discuss something as important as safe sex, as well as reports that providers like Google are deleting PowerPoint slide decks that promote safe sex from peoples Google Drive. All this within the first week after these laws were signed, what do you think will happen as time goes on. I also recently saw reports that Amazon is considering removing steamy romance novels and errotica from their inventory as they include too much sexual stuff and they fear they will become target of SESTA/FOSTA selous enforcers. Do I need to mention what a chilling effect all censorship has on free speech? I doubt it so I leave that discussion to a possible future blog. Maybe SESTA/FOSTA will demand that this blog be taken down, I guess time will tell.

Here is my suggestion for how to combat the horrific problem of sex slaves. First let me pose a question: Who do you think is most likely to come across sex slaves and be in a position to do something about it. I think the answer is obvious. The person in the best position to notice and report on crimes going on in a particular industry are the honest folks working in that industry. So in this case sex workers would be in the best position to help combat this horrific problem. Arresting and abusing honest sex workers or their clients that would never harm a fly certainly isn’t going to do anything stop the problem.

So here is my recommended plan:

  1. Decriminalize sex work
  2. Law enforcement cultivates a trusting and cooperative relationship with the sex work industry. This is going to be tough due to decades of abuse by law enforcement against sex workers, while it is a difficult task, maybe even mission impossible, it is a crucial step and the onus is on law enforcement in general to gain trust. Unless law enforcement can gain the trust of sex workers there is no hope to stop the sex slave problem.
  3. After trust and cooperating has been established between sex workers and law enforcement then the two professions can establish a working relationship so when sex workers come across a slave trading case they can work with the community and law enforcement to stage an effective rescue and get the perps arrested.
  4. If clients of sex workers stumbles onto a provider that is being coerced they can bring that to law enforcement without fearing arrest.

Sex workers, just like any decent human beings, are horrified about the sex slave trading that goes on in the world. With the current climate getting involved when they come across a case like that is extremely risky for them. They’ll be arrested if they go to the police, and can get kidnapped themself if they get too close to the victim.
After sex work has been decriminalized and relations between law enforcement and sex workers have improved then sex workers can report assault to law enforcement without fear of being abused by the officer taking the report which would lead to the police having a chance to get some of the predators, abusers and rapists off the street. That in itself will help with the problem.

Abuse, slavery, kidnapping, rape, coercion, these are crimes already with hefty penalties. So there is no need for new legislation, just need to enforcement existing ones.

In the current climate there is the impression that law enforcement is more concerned with arresting sex workers than stopping abuse and slave trading and in many cases law enforcement are the abusers, multiple stories about sex workers reporting rape or abuse to the police only to be raped by the officer taking the report and then arrested for being a sex worker. While that sentiment is prevalent and society treats sex workers as disposable subhuman who aren’t worthy of any human right or dignity we’re not going to solve the slave trading problem.

The law seems to assume all sex workers are slaves, victims of slave trading and need to be rescued, after all no one could possible choose sex work. That assumption makes about as much sense as saying everyone in the textile and garment industry works in a sweet shop and is a victim of human trafficking. It is an absurd assumption that has absolutely no basis in reality.

My assumption and opinion is that the falsehood around sex work is fabricated by the conservative religious patriarchy that doesn’t want women to be able to control their body and their destiny. They are upset that women are taking control and profiting from their lust (which is no doubt against their religious beliefs). Just another way the patriarchy is trying to control women’s every move. I’m sure if they had their way women would still be their property, just like slaves were once, and women wouldn’t be allowed to vote or drive. I’m guessing they would rather decriminalize rape and assault than to decriminalize sex work (just how messed up would you have to be actually hold that believe?). Well the bad news for them is that we no longer live in the 18th century. Decent human beings of this century recognize that owning and controlling another human being is just plain wrong, just like any decent human being knows that assaulting anyone is wrong. I’m even going to go so far as saying that sexual assault is by far the worst type of an assault.

Now let’s debunk some of the objections to sex work that come to mind:

  • The most recent and prevalent campaign these days is the “no little girl wants to grow up to be a prostitute” campaign.
    • This claim is both absurd and completely lacking all factual basis
    • Should we be basing policies on what little girls want?
    • Why are these folks using little girls to slut shame sex workers, that is just beyond disturbing.
    • I’m willing to bet significant sum of money that if an objective and unbiased survey was conducted that significantly higher number of women would report wanting to be sex worker than say a waitress, a janitor, a maid, a secretary, etc.
    • BTW it has been uncovered that the folks behind this campaign had political motivation, big surprise there. Apparently they are supporting a candidate in Nevada that is competing with a Nevada Brothel owner for a legislative spot.
  • Then there are those that simply argue that sex work is illegal therefore it is wrong.
    • To those I advice to separate the difference between morally right and legal
    • To that point it used to be perfectly legal to abuse your wife as well as your slaves. After all they were just your property
    • Freeing slaves from an abusive owner was considering property theft and punishable under the law.
    • Thankfully society no longer tolerates those things but they are examples of cases where something was legal but wrong, and illegal but right.
  • Others are saying that choosing the sex work industry out of sense of survival, because they feel they have no other option, isn’t a valid choose as it is a choose made under duress and thus they are victims.
    • So under this argument choosing an industry that will enable you to pay your bills, put a roof over your head and food in your stomach is a bad thing???
    • How is this different from those that choose to work as waitress, a maid, a secretary? How many waitresses or maids are doing those jobs because they have a lot of other viable options and their choice is 100% free of any duress? I believe the answer is they are doing those jobs because it pays the bills.
    • They’ve identified that people who are doing their best to survive in this cruel world, identified that they chose their current profession as a last resort, so they decide to try to take their last resort away from them. How cruel and messed up is that?
  • Sex workers don’t enjoy their work, they’re just doing it for the money.
    • Again I’m willing to bet a significant amount of money that an objective and impartial survey will find a significantly higher job satisfaction among sex workers than say waitresses, secretaries, maids, etc. I’m guessing that sex workers would be good 20-30% higher in satisfaction rating.
    • “Just doing it for the money” isn’t that why pretty much why everyone is employed?? How is sex work different from any other industry in this regard?
    • Someone lands a really good paying job, maybe they don’t totally love the job but they love the money, maybe they feel a bit like an imposter. Does this scenario only play out in the sex industry? I think not, I think this happens in multiple industries all across the country all the time. Should we pass a law to make sure no one ever experiences this, like never, in any industry? If not why single out sex industry in this regard?
  • Sex work is demeaning and exploits women
    • I beg to differ big time with this one. This one rests completely on the shoulders of society at large and the patriarchy in particular. Sex work leverages societies desire to exploit women and empowers women to profit from this failing in society. I’m betting that this is exactly why the patriarchy is so upset with sex workers, and most likely the true reason behind SESTA, FOSTA and every other law that seeks to control sex workers and the sex industry. It’s about controlling women, not about saving them.
    • To those that hold that believe: Did you not follow the #MeToo campaign? Are you blaming sex workers for all the sexual violence in the world?
    • Two words: Rape Culture
    • Are you promoting that women quit their sex work, go work in an office somewhere for fraction of what they are currently making, so they can be harassed, used and assaulted? (See the #metoo campaign for details on this one).
  • They are selling their body
    • Doesn’t this argument work for any physical laborers? Don’t construction workers, welders, plumbers, carpenters, warehouse workers, etc., all sell their body in some way or another?
  • I could never be a sex worker, I find it demeaning and immoral
    • If we were to outlaw all professions that someone doesn’t like there wouldn’t be many professions left
    • If we are going to outlaw professions that are objectionable and immoral, lets start by eliminating used car sales, marketing and advertisements. Those industries are filled with fraud and manipulation, many times that what is seen in other industries. If fraud and manipulation isn’t immoral I don’t know what is.
  • Sex workers allow folks to avoid relationships
    • So are we now going to require everyone be in a relationship for the sake of being a couple. Are they going to assign you a partner now?
  • Sex workers encourage infidelity
    • To claim that people who cheat on their relationship with a sex worker is the sex workers fault and not the person doing the cheating is just beyond absurd.
    • Cheaters cheat, that’s what they do. While some of them might be using the services of a sex worker, I’m sure many more are cheating with non-sex workers (amateurs if you will)

There are numerous stories of sex workers taking what society would call normal job (sales clerk, waitress, maid, etc) and quit to go back to sex work because they couldn’t deal with sexual exploitation, harassment, etc. Other stories are about women getting fired from those “normal” jobs because management discovered they are former sex workers. The problem is not the sex worker or the sex worker industry, the problem is with society at large. To quote Jack Sparrow: “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem”

Sex workers provide an important service to society. There can be multitudes of reasons why someone might want physical intimacy but doesn’t want a traditional relationship.

  • They may lack the social skills to be able to find a romantic partner
  • They may not like the emotional baggage that all romantic relationships come with
  • They may have social anxiety to a point where the only physical intimacy they are capable of is with a sex worker
  • Their career may get in the way of maintaining relationships, or they are prioritizing their career over a relationship.
  • They simply just don’t want a relationship for reasons that are their own.

Society needs to be accepting and appreciated of these services that sex workers provide. Why force folks to be lonely, or in ill fitting relationship? Would it be better for a guy to manipulate a non-worker into having sex with him under the false pretense of a relationship or should the guy hire a sex worker to provide the physical intimacy he craves.

We should not be trying to control or discriminate about how people choose to earn a living. As long as there is no fraud, assault or murder involved it is all good. Let’s focus our effort on eradicating professional hit men, folks that use violence and assault in their career with organized crime, along with fraudsters and leave honest folks alone in choosing how they make a living. For example claiming to be a therapist when you lack the credentials, that would be fraud. However if someone can make a successful career out of just talking to folks about the problems while being honest about having no license or credentials no one should have a problem with that.

There are all sorts of service providers out there. You’ve got carpenters, plumbers, therapist, doctors, psychologist, etc. Sex workers need to be accepted to that list. When a person sets out to hire a service provider, they determine what their needs are, what skill set and service they seek, and set out to locate a service provide that fits their needs. Then they negotiate a statement of work, agree on a rate for the services rendered (including flat rate vs hourly) and the service commences. Why does it matter what the service is? Like I said above as long as there isn’t fraud involved, such as claiming to have credentials or experience you don’t have it should be all good. Naturally the service in question needs to be mutually and consensually agreed by all parties impacted or affected.

I shouldn’t have to say this but I’m going to say it anyway, it’s is never OK for a provider to assault their client or the client to assault the provider. Just because you are paying them does not give you the right to assault them.

In closing let’s examine some of the hypocrisy and double standards of laws related to sex work.

While there have been many males arrested in sex workers stings it is always, I believe, for being a customer. Has a man ever been arrested for being a sex worker?

What about labels? Society likes to label male sex worker gigolo which has a much more positive connotation than the prostitute term which is used for female sex workers. Let’s get rid of both terms and just use the generic term sex worker. Kind of how we got rid of steward vs stewardess and replaced it with attendant (i.e. flight steward vs flight attendant)

Why is sex work even illegal in the first place?

  • It is perfectly legal for people to just give each other money, you don’t need a reason to just hand a complete stranger money.
  • It is perfectly legal to ask another consenting adult to have sex with you
  • It is legal to pay someone to have sex with you on camera for the sake of pornography
  • However it is highly illegal to pay another consenting adult to have sex with you when there is no camera involved. That’s kind of messed up don’t you think?
  • Check out this tweet which captures this in a cartoon format https://twitter.com/ChayseRose/status/987584545011597312
  • Check out the following hashtags for tweets on this topic

Of self confidence, social programing and more

I’ve been thinking a lot about this thing we call self confidence and how there seems to be a big lack of it these days. I believe the root cause is in what I call social programing. Social programing are the messages that are everywhere, messages that society as a whole tend to propegate. You’ll find this messages burried in how we talk, everything on TV, etc. Social programing these days seems to be all about making everyone feel inferior, which naturally will lead to lower self confidence. It seems to suggest that everyone should conform to the same mold. According to this social programing we should all be the same size, have the same desires, wants, and generally just all be mindless drones. This same programming seems to suggest that we all need to blend in and not be noticed. For the record I think this social programming is all wrong, complete hogwash if you will. Can you imagine a world were everyone is identical in everyway, everyone just blends in to the crowd? Sounds like a horrible sci-fi horror movie to me. We are all unique beautiful people and we should be celebrating our differences and our diversity, not try to hide it. As far as blending in, more hogwash. Stand out, be notice celebrate your uniqueness and how special you are. If people don’t like it that’s their problem, they’re the weird ones for being judgmental. Being normal is so boring and weird. Why would anyone want to be normal? When people say they want to be normal, what exactly are they wishing for? Are they saying they wish they didn’t have their challenges and think someone else has a better challenge our maybe no challenge? I believe we all have our challenges, most people don’t show their challenges so it is easy to think they don’t have any. I believe it is our challenges that make us who we are. Anyway I digress, back to social programming.
Think about how often in a given day you are told, or see some sort of message, that tell you how you should loose weight, be tanner, have less wrinkles, have some part of your anatomy enlarged or reduced depending on which part is being discussed (see my post about vanity for another take on this). We are also supposed to be reserved about our sexuality while sex is used heavily in marketing, with all the double standards that go with that. Guys are studs and looked up on if they have had multiple sex partners while women are sluts and looked down upon if they act like guys are supposed to. For the record I think this another area where you can celebrate your personality, if you enjoy sex there is no reason for you to hide that.  When you think about that double standard you should realize how insane it is. This is bound to lead to feeling of ineqatcy, insecurity and certain level of neuroses. Like I said, it all seems to be about making us feel bad about ourselfs with this constant judement and negativity. The society teaches us that it is OK to be critical of others and I couldn’t disagree with that more. While being critical of yourself is OK to a degree (as long as it is for the right reasons, i.e. not for vanity) we have no business being critical of others. It is non of our business what choices people make with their lives, even if it seems like they are wasting their lives as it is their live to waste. To those that like to bring up riduculous extreme examples in an attempt to disprove something I have a disclaimer. Of course my statements does not condone assault (sexual or otherwise) or any form of abuse (more on that later) or any action that directly affect a non-consenting party. To clarify what I mean by that statement here are couple of examples of decisions that don’t affect you vs. what decisions do affect you. What a person decides to wear, have for lunch or be in a relationship with does not affect anyone else. If someone decides to burn down your house, that obviously does affect you. While anyone who knows me would attest to the fact that I am not a religious man a very wise man made some statements around 2000 years ago that I am big believer of. The first is “thou shall not judge” and the second is “love thy neighbor”. I think if we could all learn to live by those words I think we might just manage to achive world peace.
So my first challange to you the reader is to do less judging a more loving. With my preceding disclaimer in mind there is no such thing as bad or wrong love. This doesn’t mean you have to like everyone or be everyones best friend. It does mean that you should be friendly and nice to everyone. Don’t treat people differently based on their apperance but by there actions. Note I said actions, not apperance or decisions. You shouldn’t treat people differently because they don’t belong to the same church, golf club, social club, as you do. Or because you don’t approve of their wardrobe, choice of friends or choice of romantic partner. Also treating people differently because you find them unattractive is also unacceptable.
That being said it’s OK, actually very good and highly recomended, to distance yourself from people that don’t treat you well. It doesn’t matter who they are, even if they are close family or romantic partner. If they don’t treat you with all the respect and dignity you deserve you don’t need them in your life, seek out people that do and make them your family. I know people that have and been much happier for it. Sometimes people change but you can’t count on it as it happens very rarely, and you for sure can’t change anyone but yourself. If people you distanced yourself from do change you can reevaluate if you want them back in your life or not. However note that it usually takes people years to change, and most people never do, so if it’s been only few months it is safe to assume they have not really changed.
What I’ve come to realize is that we all have some sort of insecurities, call them issues if you will. Sometimes it may seem like you are the only one with issues but I can guarantee you that is nit true, appearances can be deceiving.
As I said before I think the growing trend of insecurities is in large part due to the social programing I mentioned before. We all think that so-and-so has it perfect, if I just had xyz then everything would be great. Or so-and-so is so great at xyz, why can’t I be that good at that. These are all very bad misconceptions that stem from couple of different things. Frist we are comparing someone external face with our internal mess. Just because someone is good at hiding their neuroses doesn’t mean they don’t exists. Those that you are comparing against are probably doing the exact same comparison with someone else. The second falacy we make has to do with talents. We all have our talents and because we are all so wonderfully diverse we all have different talents. Some come naturally and some require more practice and efforts than others. We have a tendancy to compare our weak talents against someone elses strong talent. Also we don’t know what it took them to become that good, how many hours a day they practiced etc., and if you put in the same level of efforts would you be as good or even better. So focus on you strengths not your weaknesses.
I feel like I’ve been all over the place with this post so I better get back to the self confidence thing I started out with.
I believe the first thing you need to do to reduce your insecurities and improve your self confidence is distance your self from people in your life that are critical and negative, no one needs that in their life,  doesn’t matter who they are. If there is abuse, physical or mental, then totally cut those people out of your life and never look back. Just for sake of clarification those that tell you are no good, you don’t deserve anything (or worse that you deserve bad things) or that no one is going to want to be with you, are mentally abusing you.
The second thing you should do is pay less attention to TV, there is much more to live than watching TV. Feel free to reach out to me if you need ideas.
I often hear people talk about how if they just got more complements they would be more secure and I speak from experience when I say that they got that backwards. Once you start to act more secure you’ll get more complements. Self confidence has to come from within, maybe that is why it is called “self confidence” and not “other confidence”. Another way to look at it is, if you don’t belive in yourself why should anyone else. Have you ever purchased a product from a sale person that did not seem to believe in the product they were selling?
Your goal in life isn’t to please everyone because that is a mission impossible that can not be completed. Your goal in life should be to be yourself and have a positive influence on other people. Stop worrying about your physical attributes, if your chest, waist, biceps, thighs, etc., is the right size. The same goes for size of your nose, ear, neck, etc. I’ve meet women that worry about what they call “double chin”, they think of it as a flaw. I tell them I find it qute sexy and I think of it as a positive thing. The point is that whatever physical attributes you are stressing over or thinking of as a flaw, chances are good someone else is admiring it (again see my post on vanity for more on that). An analogy for you on that, think of a piece of art, any piece of art. Is that piece of art trying to be all things to all people? No it is what it is, nothing more and nothing less. Will everyone appreciate it and find it beautiful? No they wont, some wont even understand why it is considered art. But that is OK. A good art dealer will specialize in one form/type of art and market to those people that appreciate that form of an art and doesn’t worry about that don’t. Walk into an art studio and start bad mouthing the art in there and you’ll quickly be thrown out.
Another way to look at is, do you like everyone and find everyone attractive? If you answer yes, make sure your noise didn’t just grow as it did for Pinocio when he told a fib. If you answer no, then why are trying to make everyone like you?
I think Drew Berrymore is attributed to the following quote I really like “let your freak flag fly high so that those with the same flag can find each other”. Meaning focus on being who you are, own it and be proud of it. Those that appreciate you for who you are will admire you for it, those that don’t do not matter in the least. 
If you want to improve yourself, improve who you are as a person. Work on improving how you treat other people and the type of impact you are having on people around you.
Once you have cut negativity out of your life, you have identified who you really are (watch the movie runnaway bride if you are confused why this is important, “how do you like your eggs” is what you should be paying attention to) and live everyday being proud of who you are your confidence will grow day by day and insecurities will start to fade away (or at least be sidelined and easier to control). As your confidence grows people will start to respond to that, which will feed your confidence and help it grow even more. Your insecurities will probably always be there, but that is OK as long as you are in control. As long as your insecurities aren’t controling you things will be great. Even if they stay in the back of your head nagging you, as long as you are in control you can just tell them to be quiet.
Remember you can always fake it until you make it and don’t listen to those that critique who you are, if they don’t appreciate you their opinion doesn’t matter.

Vanity where does it come from???

I’ve been pondering lately about this thing called vanity that seems to be gripping the nation worse than ever. What is it, where does it come from, why do we care, etc.

I get that one wants to look the best by observing good personal hygiene, choosing a hair style we think suites us and dressing in a manner that expresses our individuality. Maintaining healthy weight and just generally staying happy and healthy is also a good thing. Disclaimer: by healthy weight I am not saying you should subscribe to AMA’s crazy BMI scheme, those guys are out of whack which is whole different rant. So many people people are overly focused on attaining the weight specified by AMA’s BMI chart that it becomes unhealthy. What I mean by healthy weight is maintaining weight that enables you to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You can have an ideal weight based on the BMI chart, but that doesn’t mean you are healthy. On the same vane you can be considered obese by AMA BMI chart yet life a very healthy lifestyle and overall be very healthy. More on that in a different soapbox.

So beyond those basic thing (hygiene, clothing, hairstyle) why are we so obsessed with beauty? We all are in some way or another. Either we are obsessed with obtaining it, or we are obsessed with observing it.  To make a very generalized and stereotypical statement, women are obsessed with being beautiful and men are obsessed with looking at beautiful women. I’m not claiming to be immune from this stereotype.  Is it strictly a feedback loop? Meaning women want to be beautiful because men want to look at beautiful women, in other words is it all about women getting attention from guys? I find that very hard to believe because women that are generally considered very beautiful do get a lot of attention from guys and complain about all the “creeps” that are always checking them out and bothering them. Is it a matter of wanting what we don’t have, that is simply being unhappy with what we have? I find that a much more plausible theory.

It seems to be a “societal programming” that’s gone hey wire.  From what I hear women are intensively competitive about who is the fairest of them all, and to what end. Is it so that everyone will like them? If so that is a very unreasonable expectations. You don’t like everyone so why would you expect everyone to like you? Like I said those that get a lot of attention complain about how much attention they are getting, which could be a case of “be careful of what you wish for”.

Guys aren’t any better. While they seem to be generally less competitive about their own looks, they aren’t immune. They feed into this more by being competitive about “scoring” the most beautiful woman.

Meanwhile no one seems to acknowledge that there are so many different form of beauty and how everyone has their own taste of what they consider beautiful. Both genders totally buy into the programming that there is a single standard for beauty, which is totally ludicrous. Guys are probably worse about this than women. I’ve talked to guys who talk big publicly to show how they follow the programming, yet when when you have a more private conversation with them it comes out that they don’t necessary believe that. The programming is deep that they will never admit to it though.

When it comes to art though everyone realizes that there is no single standard for beauty, it all comes down to personal preference. This is why there are so many form of arts, and everyone likes different things. I really don’t know enough about art to go deeper into this analogy, but I think you all get my drift. Why can’t we apply the same thinking about each other and stop thinking that life is a beauty context where there can only be one winner and realize that we are all beautiful in our own way, that not everyone is going to like us just the way we don’t like everyone the same.

I have no magic bullet answer to this question/dilemma. There is most definitively a feedback loop component that is going to be hard to break. Speaking from a guys perspective you get caught in a no win situation because of this. You focus on someone’s beauty too much (whether by verbal complements, or the way you look at her) you get labeled a creep who only appreciates her body (or you’re sex crazed guy using complements to get your way). If you don’t focus on her beauty you are insensitive because you never complement her looks.

Bar stool economics

Bar Stool Economics

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all
ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it
would go something like this:
The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.
So, that’s what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every
day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the
owner threw them a curve. “Since you are all such good customers,” he
said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.” Drinks
for the ten now cost just $80.
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so
the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But
what about the other six men-the paying customers? How could they divide
the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?
They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they
subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth
man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.
So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s
bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the
amounts each should pay.
And so:
The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).
Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four
continued to drink for free. But once outside the bar, the men began to
compare their savings.
“I only got a dollar out of the $20,”declared the sixth man. He pointed
to the tenth man, “But he got $10!”
“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a dollar,
too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I did!”
“That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back
when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!”
“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison, “we didn’t get
anything at all. The system exploits the poor!”
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat
down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill,
they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money
between all of them for even half of the bill!
And that, ladies and gentlemen, journalists and college professors, is
how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the
most benefit from a 20% tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them
for being wealthy, and they just may not show up any more. In fact, they
might start drinking overseas.
For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) debate

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) debate has been going on for some time now and I just though I pen some of my thoughts on the subject. Just a quick thing about me first that I am super straight heterosexual male in my 40’s and those who know me I would expect can testify to how “girl crazy” I am. 

There are so many aspect to this debate it is hard to know where to start. There is legal, moral and multiple religious aspects. I guess one of the first questions that often comes up in such debate is “is homosexuality wrong?” which I suppose is very legit question. To me equally legit question is “is it wrong to be vegetarian?” Both questions can be debated at length without really coming to a conclusive answer, as it all comes down to your believes. My personal philosophy is that it’s not dinner (or lunch for that matter) if it doesn’t involve a big chunk of a dead animal. I’m kind of the opposite of a vegetarian, a meatatarian if you will, as I don’t eat much vegetable at all. I digress from my initial point, lets get back on point.

Another question frequently brought up in the LGBT debate is the question of why, or why are homosexuals sexually attractive to the same gender. The reasons offered during such debate tend to be grouped into two buckets that could be labeled nature vs. nurture. In other words are they born that way or is it a learned behaviour or maybe some sort of a psychological disorder that needs to/can/should be cured. My believe is that they are born that way and it is not something that needs to be fixed or cured. I base this believe on couple of different factors. First I’ve read that there have been studies done to show that femininity/masculinity is developed early in the womb by the proper dose of hormones at the precise right time of fetus development. If this hormone dose is the wrong amount or the wrong timing it will affect how masculine/feminine the baby will be to the point of affecting their sexual orientation. While I can’t vouch for the authenticity or scientific validity of these studies, and I certainly don’t believe everything I read, this does make a lot of sense to me so I am inclined to believe it. Think about why some women are very feminine and others are much more of a tomboys, or why some straight guys are more masculine than others. To me it stands to reason to me that sexual orientation is a continuous scale of masculinity to feminine. My other reasoning is based on my personal reflection, as I can’t imagine a scenario where I would be sexually attractive to guys. I’ve had few different “what if” debates analyzing different scenarios surrounding social norms, upbringing, values, etc., and I always come to the same conclusion that I could never be attractive to guys, or even pretend I was in order to fit in. Then I take that ideology and extrapolate on it. If me deciding or pretending to have a different sexual orientation is so unthinkable it stands to reason that others are the same way regardless of what their orientation is. So then to me any arguments claiming it is a choice, upbringing, etc., makes absolutely no sense to me which leads me back to the nature argument (i.e. they are are born that way, it’s just the way they are, etc.)

With all that being said I’m actually going to argue that the why doesn’t even matter, here is why via analogy. I hate nuts, pretty much all nuts in all forms. The absolutely worst type of nuts for me is peanuts, and especially peanut butter. Just the smell of it turns my stomach. I know a lot of folks don’t understand how I can hate something so passionately that they love so much. We could try to analyze the reason, maybe I have some sort of nut allergy and my body knows it at some level without my brain recognizing it and then try to “cure me” so I can enjoy the same love of peanut butter as so many enjoy. In the end does it really matter why I hate peanut butter? And discrimination against me for hating peanut butter, such as denying me right or a privilege simply based on the fact that I hate peanut butter, is just wrong. Does it really matter why vegetarian don’t like meat? Should we try to cure them? Should we pass a law requiring all restaurants to only serve meet dishes? Does it really matter why we have the preference we do?

Lets look at the religious aspect of this debate. There are number of religions out there that teach that homosexuality is wrong, immoral, sinful, etc., They mainly site the Bible (or their holy book, such as Koran, etc., depending on the religion) as the reason. I was brought up in a Lutheran house hold in a Lutheran society in Europe and I was never taught that. I was taught to love thy neighbor unconditionally and without judgment. I do not believe that Jesus and God discriminate based on your preferences, I believe you will be judged based on how you treated those around you, not by who you choose to love. I believe that all love (and I mean true love, not manipulation and control tactics labeled as love) is good and there is no such thing as sinful or immoral love.

Lets look at the legal aspect of the LGBT debate which is often referred to as “the same sex marriage debate”. The US federal government passed a law in 1996 called “The Defense of Marriage Act (Public Law 104-199)” commonly known as “DOMA.” This law defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman.  It also allowed states, territories, possessions and Indian tribes to choose whether to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Since then six states and the District of Columbia have passed laws to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. All other states, with three exception, plus the federal government do not recognize same sex couples married in these six states as legally married and do not grant them the legal rights that are granted to couples that fall under the DOMA definition of a marriage. It seems to me that the arguments behind DOMA are all religious based, which to me seems a violation of the first amendment to US constitution often referred to as “separation of church and state”. However it seems that so far the Supreme Court disagree’s with my opinion, despite other less relevant issues have been deemed a violation.

Some say the term “marriage” is a religious term and since their religion believes homosexuality to be wrong the term “same sex marriage” is offensive. They say that same sex unions can have all the same rights as long as it isn’t called a marriage. That’s a fair point, but it doesn’t seem to allow for the possibility that some other religion believes there is nothing wrong with homosexuality, so if marriage is a religious term it should be open to all religions to use according to their believes. The solution to me seems to be to either ban the word marriage altogether and replace it with union and/or prepend it with religious affiliation such as Catholic-marriage, civil-marriage, Baptist-marriage, Presbyterian-marriage, etc. If we are going to be really specific about the definition of the term marriage based on religion we need to allow each religion to define it based on each religious views. Or we can just all be tolerant and accepting of other folks views, believes and preferences.

After all it basically boils down civil/human rights issue to me. There was a time when child labor was perfectly acceptable, women had no rights, and folks with colored skin had even less right and in many cases were someone’s property simply based on the color of their skin. We look back on those days with horror as we have matured way past those sort of discrimination or so we like to believe. However I believe the current “same but different” attitude against LGBT folks is of the same mindset. It didn’t work back in the sixties for the blacks and it doesn’t work any better today for LGBT people.

In the end I believe we all just need to be accepting and tolerant of others view, believes and preference. We shouldn’t be worrying about what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their homes, nor should we try to control who people choose as their spouse.

As always I am very interested in your thoughts and comments on this issue.

Are women better than men?

Are women better than men?

Someone once asked me if I though men or women were the better gender so I figured I’d blog a little on my opinion there, what my thoughts are surrounding that and my reasoning. For those that don’t know me I am a red blooded heterosexual male in his early 40’s at the time of this writing.

First a little disclaimer: I’m going to be talking generalities and stereotypes here. As such when ever you talk generalities and stereotypes you tend to over generalize, and as such it is very easy to find cases where such overgeneralization fails. I’m specifically staying general while acknowledging that it doesn’t hold true in all cases. I further acknowledge that I will be over generalizing, and exaggerating on purpose to illustrate a point. OK with that out of the way there are at least three separate topics embedded in the question “Are women better than man”.

  1. Can one survive (individually and/or as a species) without the other
  2. Which one is more capable, wider skill set, etc.
  3. Personal preferences

Can one survive (individually and/or as a species) without the other?

The short answer to that one is an unequivocal NO. Of course the species can not survive with only one gender. So lets expand the question into exploring which gender “needs” the other more. Naturally each gender will claim that they don’t need the other one. However I’m going to argue that men would have a much harder time being without women than the other way around. While I presume most guys will deny this and argue against this, even make derogatory statements against me for making this argument with statements such as “I’m revoking your man card”, I think those same guys would agree with me when they think about it even if they can’t admit it. One only needs to analyze a random sampling of single men vs. single women to see evidence of what I’m talking about.

As a species which would work better to repopulate society, lots of women of child bearing years and only handful of guys, or lots of guys and only a handful of women. Again I’m going to argue that here women have the upper hand. While it is still necessary for sperm to come from a man, a man doesn’t actually have to be involved with the process of impregnating women. Modern science has made it possible for a women to get pregnant without ever having to even see a man. I have not heard of science growing a baby without a woman carrying it to term. While it may run counter to social norms one man can impregnate many women even without any scientific means. While some might argue that this makes the man more useful, etc., it does demonstrate that fewer men than women are needed to maintain the species, making the women more important.

Lets look at an analogy. Lets say for the sake of argument that a person could either know how to drive a car or know how to start it, that it was impossible for the same person to both know how to start the car and drive it. Ideally the number of starters would equal the number or drivers. They are both important as without the one the other is useless, you can’t a drive car that doesn’t start, and there is no point to start a car than no one can drive. If there a lot of starters and very few drivers, most of the starters have nothing to do. However just because the drivers are factor of magnitude greater in number than starters things can still work smoothly. Drivers may have to wait a bit until a starter comes along but ones the car is started the driver is on their marry way and the starter can move onto the next car. To put the analogy in context of bringing a baby into the world, a man gets the process started but after the woman is pregnant the man is not really needed. Therefore I submit that women are better than man in this context.

Which one is more capable, wider skill set, etc.

Here again I’m going to argue for the woman. First lets examine what men tend to be better at generally speaking. The most obvious one is that a man can generally lift heavier items than women, in today’s society though there isn’t a lot of need for that, so how important is that ability? The other is that men tend to have greater spatial abilities. Spatial abilities is the ability to visual objects both in two dimensions as well as in three dimensions (for example to take a two dimensional architectural plan and visualize it in 3D), the relationship between the objects and the ability to rotate those objects in your head. Key example of this ability is when you are looking at a map, those with high spatial abilities keep the map oriented the same way regardless of which direction you are going, those with lower spatial skills will want to rotate the map so that the direction they are going points up. Men tend to have higher spatial skills, this has been attributed to men being greater navigators and scientists. Some have argued that all the greatest inventors in history have been men as well as the greatest warriors and politicians and thus men must be superior. This is a false argument in my mind as we don’t know all the variables. Throughout history woman has always been the caretaker of the family and as such undoubtable has had little time to be tinkering with stuff that would lead to invention. Men on the other hand, history tells us, were not that involved in their families and thus had a lot of time on their hand so they would tinker with stuff. So what is the true reason for all those great inventors through history were men? Is it just because men have superior spatial abilities, or because women were too busy raising families to have time for that, or a little of both? We will never know the answer to those questions, I suspect the answer is along the lines of “little of both”. So we’ve identified two things men tend to be superior at: lifting heavy things and spatial abilities. So now lets look at things that woman are better at. Here are few items I can think of where women outshine men:

  1. They can multitask. Guy’s are very single focused. Each gender is amazed at the other in this regard and both have their uses. In today’s society being able to focus on a lot of different things is a huge advantage in my opinion.
  2. They can tell the difference between eggshell, cream, ivory, and off-white, as well as the difference between hunter green and forest green and all the other different shades of colors. To guys it’s white, red, green, blue, etc. Not so much as critical skill set I suppose but still amazing to me.
  3. They can give birth to a child, talk about miracle of life!
  4. They are better communicators. They can talk about more than sports and cars. Most guys that seems to be all they talk about. I am constantly amazed the breadth of conversation women can have, sometimes all at the same time.
  5. They are much better at paying attention to detail for example they actually remember your birthday. As result they are better care takers.
  6. They can talk about their feelings, this is not something a guy is capable of doing. Guys can’t even identify their feelings let alone talk about them.
  7. They have stronger immune systems which may explain why they tend to live longer

So with 7 items versus 2 items I think it is clear which is the greater gender. Some may argue that men are greater leaders but is that really true? Are men really greater leaders or do women just let men think they are greater leader, in which case is that a strength or a weakness? My take is that is strength. If you look at most households men may claim they are in charge but up on closer inspection it is really the woman that is in charge.

Personal preferences

I have been called “girl crazy” which is a accusation I can not deny. As I think is evident from this post that I hold women in the highest regard. I guess it is all summed up in this joke:

Question: What did God say after he created Adam? Answer: I can do a lot better than that!!!!!

Then he created Eve and was pleased with his work.