Existential Crises

When I was 15 years old, I confronted my first existential crisis. It was not my only one, and it is unlikely to be my last, but as far as crises go, it was pretty profound.

This wasn’t a depressive event, and though I did undergo moments of melancholy when I was a teenager, and this particular event caused me to re-examine almost every aspect of my life, I would not learn what the word depression really meant for another two decades.

You see, I was always a bit more mature and thoughtful than I should have been as a kid and still as a teenager. I was raised in a Roman Catholic family and we went to Church every Sunday. I went to CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) classes twice a week after school all through elementary school. In Junior High School I was part of the Church’s Youth Group. I was a leader there. I was a ‘perfect’ child. I never received anything less than an ‘A’ in my classes, I was respectful to my elders, I always practiced my piano, I was in team sports (soccer and baseball until Junior High, then I switched to track in the spring, and in High school I added wrestling for the winter,) I was in student government, I was involved in student service groups, I was a Lieutenant Governor in Key Club, I was Editor-in-Chief of the High School newspaper, I was even lead in the school play…

Much of that was actually after the event that I am about to describe, but it’s still descriptive of how I led my life at that time. I was larger than life. I had everything going for me that a person could hope to have at that point in my life. I got my first paying job at the age of 12 (though it wasn’t strictly legal.. I was doing contract technical writing for Broderbund software with a false SSN and an assumed name… people were so much more trusting back then) and by the time I was 16, I’d saved enough money to buy a car, and I did. When I was 16 I got a part time job writing software and I was suddenly cash flow positive in a very big way. I could pay for my gas and car insurance and still have enough left over to be a stupid teenager.

But I wasn’t.

I was an ‘old soul,’ according to my mom.

I identified strongly with the persona of Yama, the Vedic god of Death. He was old before he was young, and so was I. The fact that I even knew who Yama was at the age of 15, growing up in a rural community and a Catholic family in the pre-Internet era is something of an anomaly itself, in retrospect, but that’s not the the thrust of what I’m after here. It would, however, come to color the events that caused me to change so drastically from the Christian Beaver Cleaver overachiever that I was and become something new and different.

When I was eight or nine, I made friends with a boy who was in my CCD classes. We went to Vacation Bible School together in the summer. It was only a day camp, but it was the first camp I’d ever been to, and the only one that I would attend until I finally went away for my one year of sleep away camp when I was a teenager, but that was after the Transformation.

This boy, who I will refer to as Charlie, though that was not really his name, was not my best friend, as I understood such things to be at that time, but he was a good friend. We would play with Transformer and Gobots together. He even had some of the cool Gundam toys, straight from Japan, that you couldn’t get in the States. I’m still not sure how he got them, but he would always let me play with the one that I liked best, so I didn’t really care.

Charlie was a year older than me, and at that age, that’s a big deal. He still liked to play with me and I thought that was cool. Charlie and I would have playdates (a word which means something very different to me now…) and we would meet before camp and before school, and even though he was a little strange and the other boys didn’t like him, he was my friend.

Charlie’s dad was gay, and I didn’t know what that meant, but it did mean that Charlie’s mom and dad no longer lived together and that Charlie’s dad wasn’t allowed to go to our Church. My parents told me that he was a bad man and that he did things that people are not supposed to do, and that is why God hated him and he wasn’t allowed in our Church. I thought that was wrong, because Charlie’s dad was very nice to me and he got the best toys for Charlie and I never saw him be mean to anyone or even say anything unkind, despite the fact that people were very unkind to him while he was not looking. I had always been told that kind of behavior was wrong, but for some reason, whatever it was that Charlie’s dad had done made it okay to be mean to him.

For a couple years this would go on, and I eventually came to understand what it meant to be gay and what the Church’s stance on this was and I was torn.

I was a true believer.

I believed that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and lived and preached and suffered and died on the Cross for our Sins and that was the only way that any of us would ever make it into Heaven.

Over time I lost touch with Charlie. The year of difference in our ages meant that he left our elementary school and moved on to Junior High before I did, and that year apart, coupled with my own struggles as I approached puberty (which I hit earlier than all of my peers) caused us to drift apart. I was becoming more aloof and socially ostracized as a result of my undiagnosed Aspergers Syndrome, but I was still every bit as much of an overachiever. I was still involved in Church Youth Group, and my Faith was becoming stronger and broader. I would stand toe-to-toe with my Atheist friends and debate them on the logic of Faith. I felt like I would win these arguments, but in retrospect I see the same fallacies in my arguments that I came to disdain.

I made my own path, and it was one of Righteous Indignation and I wore the Cloak of Faith and Righteousness in every act in which I engaged. I was a Paladin and I was going to march right up to the Gates of Hell and take the fight to Lucifer himself.

I still saw Charlie from time to time. He and his sister, who was of an age with and friends with my own younger sister, were friends, and he was in the Church Youth Group, though with split custody and his father’s excommunication (and yes, his father was excommunicated for being gay and having the audacity to donate money to the Church) he was not there every week. He and I were no longer close friends, but I never forgot that he was my friend, even if his father was doomed to spend Eternity in Hell for the things he chose to do (note that I no longer believe that he had a choice in the matter – this is reflective of my ignorance at the time – I was only a child, after all.)

I kept on my merry, ignorant path, and could see no reason why I would not remain so as long as I lived.

When I was 13, the Pastor for our Parish, Father Thomas, would retire. In his place, we were assigned Monsignor Heinz, an extremely intolerant and very powerful (within the Church) man who was tasked with ‘turning our backwater Church around.’

I had no idea that there was any trouble, but apparently our Parish had some of the lowest per-capita tithing of any Church in the Diocese. And not only that, but there were apparently some thinly disguised ‘disreputable elements’ in our Parish.

Monsignor Heinz would have none of that.

He conducted interviews with each family individually. He demanded to see tax returns. He set tithes of at least 20% for each family, and when people would complain that they could not afford such exorbitant tithes, he would send Parish accountants to help them file their taxes and make sure that the Church got it’s pound of flesh.

The secondary purpose of these family interviews was to root out the undesirable elements from the Parish.

My own family was found lacking. My father had not been tithing appropriately, and I was ashamed for this. But at least we were found to be morally sound (which I don’t really understand either, but that’s not the subject of this piece.)

Charlie’s family, however, was not. Charlie’s father was excommunicated, and Charlie himself was found to have gay tendencies and was told not to return to the Church.

This did not compute with me.

Charlie was not gay. (He was, and he is, but at the time, I could not comprehend this.) The Church made a mistake.

I didn’t have the normal social constraints that people around me did, so I confronted Monsignor Heinz about this. Charlie must not be expelled from the Church. Excommunicated or not, this would almost certainly mean that Charlie was being sent to Hell, all because Monsignor Heinz had a feeling about him, a feeling which I was certain was incorrect.

Charlie was a good person.

Charlie was my friend.

By this time I’d read The Bible cover to cover at least twice. This is a very unusual thing for a Catholic to do. Monsignor Heinz quoted Scripture at me, and I quoted contradicting Scripture right back at him. Eventually he started quoting things at me that I had not read.

Where was he getting this information? I had to know, so I shifted my arguments and started asking some very pointed questions. Suddenly, my curiosity and conviction were not the Scourge of the Devil, but they were a Path to the Light. Monsignor Heinz was convinced that I was Destined for the Seminary and would be a Beacon for the Faithful. He told me of the Apocrypha and for a short time my ire was deflected.

Ultimately, however, I could not Rationalize how someone as kind and good and pure as Charlie had to be sacrificed and sent to Hell, and someone like myself, who had begun to have some seriously impious urges concerning girls could be a Paragon of the Light.

I could not bring the two things together in my mind, and I realized that I was the Heretic. Charlie was good, the Church was hiding Secrets from people, and I was being driven to think and feel and act in ways that were un-Godly.

The strain of trying to keep these things consistent in my head eventually broke my Faith.

If Charlie deserved Hell, then surely I deserved something much worse than that. I hated myself. I thought to myself: I will someday die, and when I do, what will my legacy be? I have accomplished nothing. I have lived in the shadow of others, reading the writings of men dead for centuries, and blindly accepting what they said, claiming their ideas as my own and extolling the virtues I was handed, with no free thought of my own. I was not a stupid kid – I did get straight A’s and that included A’s in classes like AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Physics… I knew the power of the Scientific Method, and I’d been turning a blind eye to it in the name of Faith for years. I was afraid to go against the Church because then I, too, would be Destined for Hell. My Faith was broken, and without that, without the love of Jesus, I would perish in a lake of fire, and yet…

And yet… without a testable hypothesis, and without a fair trial, how could I say for certain that any of these things were true. I had Occam’s Razor, and it cut the fabric right out of my Faith, and yet, I was not yet ready to accept the path of Atheism.

This made me easy prey for Jubal McReady and his gang, but that is a story for another day…

When I was 15, I lost my Faith in God and Jesus and the Trinity. I lost my path to Heaven. I Despaired over the fact that when I die, I’m gone. I will simply cease to exist. At first, this notion was terrifying to me. It caused me to lose sleep. I spent days where I could think of nothing else but the fact that the Universe is cruel and careless.

But today… today, this same thought brings me peace.

When I am gone, I will not have to bear any of this any longer. I will not have to try to be Zen. I will not have to try to live without expectation. Nor will I be a prisoner in some theme-park paradise or for better or worse, some Infernal realm of the Underworld. I will just be done. My work will be complete, and History will judge me as it does. I couldn’t care less. I won’t be here to see it.

This was something of a story and perhaps a bit of an admission.

I am Rant, and this is slice of me.

Rant off.

Hypocrite

I am a hypocrite.

Nearly everyone is a hypocrite, if you look close enough, or pay enough attention, but I have one issue on which I am a planet-sized hypocrite of the worst kind.

Forgiveness.

I preach forgiveness.

I literally proselytize the virtues of forgiveness.  I attempt to convert the unwashed masses to my own personal religion of sorts.  I tell anyone who will listen that the path to happiness can be found by forgiving others and letting go of your own expectations.  I tell people that you can walk the path to happiness by doing your best and then allowing whatever happens to happen without prejudice or expectation.  And as an example of this, I tend to point to myself.

I have all sorts of stresses in my life.  I’m a single parent, I have constant physical pain, I have a career that can be demanding at times, I live in one of the most expensive places to live in the world, and I have relationships with other people, so I am constantly affected by the things that affect them.  Compounded, it would be rather easy to allow these stresses to overwhelm me.  Each individual thing is something easy enough to cope with, but all together, the weight of this burden could crush me.  No one would fault me for wanting to wallow in it, and from time to time I have.

But that is not my hypocrisy.

I point at myself and I say, “I am happier now than I have been at any other time in my life, because I stay in the now and I don’t worry too much about tomorrow.  I plan, I am prepared to deal with eventualities, foreseeable and unforeseen, not because I worry about them, but because I have the basics covered and I believe in my own ability to deal with things as they occur.”

I give myself as an example to others, saying things like, “let go of your expectations and be present in the now and you will be happier for it.”

And yet… forgiveness…

I’ve mostly forgiven or forgotten things that affect me in life.  I’ve forgiven Sonia for tossing me out.  I’ve forgiven my ex-wife for leaving me for another man.  Although I won’t ever forget it, I have forgiven the people that molested me as a teenager.  I have even forgiven my ex-wife’s boyfriend, the guy that she left me for and is still dating, though I did want to ask him for a very long time, “did you know that she was married when you fucked her?”  So… I guess there is a kernel of bitterness there still, but I’ve had a conversation with the man and I didn’t jump down his throat for it, so I think I can safely say that I’m mostly past all of that now.

But my father… him I have not forgiven.  I have not forgotten that he took advantage of me when I was most vulnerable, that he stole from me when I could least afford it, or that he has simply never been there for me except when it served his own narcissistic purposes.  That is my hypocrisy and that is the burden that I can never seem to unload.  And I would really like to…

Most of the time he won’t even admit that he has done anything wrong.  I don’t mean just as it pertains to my life, but in other aspects of his life as well.  He has done criminal things to his friends, he has manufactured issues in order to avoid other problems.  He lies, he cheats, and he steals.  And yet, he lives in total denial of it all, and perhaps that is the most galling thing.  If he would apologize to me, I would forgive him, but I should be able to forgive him without the apology, because I know it will never come.

I know, without a doubt, that the times that I get struck down, the times that I lose sight of my goals and get stuck in problems that I can’t let go, most of those things would disappear or at least be drastically diminished if I could let go of this one last thing… I know that I would be happier and I would be more capable of dealing with the setbacks and holding to my non-attachment practices, if I could just let go of this one. last. thing.

And yet…

And yet, I haven’t been able to do that yet.

I deal with my father when it is required of me.  I am civil to him, if a bit cold.  I make sure that my daughters know him and are involved in his life.  His birthday was this month, and I had them call him to wish him a Happy Birthday, nevermind the fact that he doesn’t do the same.  Without me reminding him about their birthdays, he would forget them completely, and he has, more often than not.  I got used to him forgetting mine, but the way he drifts into and out of my children’s lives bothers me.  It shouldn’t.  I should accept that is how he is, and I should just be grateful for the things that he does remember, but this bitterness will not budge.

And so, I am a hypocrite.

Perhaps someday I shall not be, but for now, I still can’t completely let go.

I am Rant, and maybe someday I will be everything I want to be, but for now, I do the best I can.

Rant off.

 

Five Hundred Words

Five hundred words.  That is my daily writing goal.

I used to be a rather prolific writer.  I enjoy writing, and it is a skill that definitely diminishes over time if left unused, so the fact that my life became chaotic and I pushed aside my daily goal to keep writing is something that bothers me.

So, much like I would do for a submissive in my care, I’ve set myself a task to write at least five hundred words a day.  It’s really not that much, but it does require that I actually sit down, empty my mind, and put something on the page.  That first step can be oh-so-difficult some days.

I’ve been in and out and at the periphery of the kink scene for a very long time.   One of the things that I have always thought to be true, though my understanding of what it means has changed with time, is that in order to be Master to someone else, you must first be Master of yourself.

That is a tall order, but how can I task a submissive with the things that I think will improve her life if I do not even have my own in order?  This has recently been a struggle of mine.  I’ve had some personal setbacks, and while I do always manage to correct them and find my true path again, I have spent a few days in the weeds, during which time I find that I am all but incapable of being the Dominant that I am needed to be, both for myself, and for my partner.

I don’t think I’ve spent more than three contiguous days in a state where I was not fully Master of myself, but these occurrences have happened with enough frequency lately that it is nearly half of the time for the last several weeks, and that is purely not acceptable.

Sure, I am human, and I am entitled, just as everyone else is, to have off days or to not always be in control of things, but as Master, I have a duty not only to myself, but to my submissive as well.  When my submissive partner is having trouble, a firm hand is usually what she needs to get back on course.  When I am in my right mind, I see this, and I act upon it, but when I am the one who needs the firm hand, and it has to come from within me, there I run into trouble.

So – I need something that will persist across that line, where I no longer feel in control and when I feel like I have to have direction put in front of me.

I don’t know why it never occurred to me before, but the answer was always in front of me all along.  Writing forces me to sit quiet with my thoughts for a time, and commit them to paper.  When I am feeling most chaotic, I cannot do this of my own accord, unless I feel like I have a persistent demand that requires it of me.  And so….

I’ve tasked myself.

I will write 500 words a day, every day, whether they be in my blog here, as a post on fetlife, or in continuation of one of the several novels that I have started and not finished.

I am now at 565 words, and this piece has achieved my goal for today, and I will force myself to write something tomorrow, even if I don’t feel like it, because my Master ordered me to do so.

I am Rant, and I am Master to Myself.

Rant off.

 

Aggressive Days

Today I’m having what I describe as ‘an aggressive day.’

I’m getting over a cold and I am still slightly sick, so I think that’s probably got something to do with it, but I can’t be certain.  If I were feeling more contemplative, I’d remark on how it’s interesting that so much can happen in my body that affects my mind for which I have no control, but today I just want to choke someone.  Not necessarily in a bad way, and not necessarily in a sexual way either, I just want to put my hands on someone’s throat and squeeze until I feel better.

I used to think that this was evidence of the fact that I’m a monster.

Now, I’m certain that it is… *grin* – but I’m no longer concerned that being a monster is a bad thing.  Letting the monster loose is half of the reason I am involved in this lifestyle.  For too many years I pushed him down and kept him penned in.. it made me a very unhappy person to be denying a part of myself in such a way.

Aggression and passivity are often placed at separate sides of the same spectrum, but I know things to be infinitely more complex than that.

Is this aggressiveness of mine a factor in my choosing the Dominant lifestyle?  Absolutely, but it’s not sufficient, and I would once more caution any aspiring submissives in my audience that aggression is not a necessary or sufficient criterion for being a Dominant.

When I was a much younger man, these things would happen more frequently.  I suspect that it is something that is correlated with the levels of free testosterone that I have in my system, and there are several studies in recent years that would seem to indicate that testosterone levels in men begin to decline at age 35 and rapidly decrease over time.  But then again, I have also ingested a great deal more caffeine today than I am accustomed to, so that may be a factor as well. Regardless of physiological reasons for it, sometimes I like it, sometimes I don’t.. today, I’m having fun with it.

It’s a powerful feeling.

I walked to the store today to get a salad for lunch, and I was feeling aggressive, so I was projecting asshole with a chip on my shoulder as I walked.  People get out of my way; it’s amusing to watch.  I don’t have to say a thing and groups part so that I can split them.  I walked into a crosswalk and a van actually backed up to get out of my way.  Perhaps he was merely being polite or it might have just been my bright orange shirt, but I like to think that even he was affected by my body language and decided that the prudent course of action for him was to get out of my way.

As a Dominant, there is little that is quite as satisfying as having someone bend to my Will without even having to speak.

I feel like I can think faster, like I can cause the world to bend to me rather than me reacting to the world around me.  It’s a trick of perception, of course.. the universe doesn’t care about me in the least, but for those moments of delusion, it’s fun.

I am reminded of a client that I used to have.. she would not have described herself as a submissive, or even as kinky, but she really liked it when I would be aggressive with her, physically, emotionally, and mentally.  She was a small woman, and she loved the fact that I’m a physically intimidating man at times.  I’m only six feet tall, so I’m not the biggest man in the world, but she was only five feet tall herself, and she might have weighed 90 lbs.  She didn’t like the implements of BDSM.  She was scared to death of floggers and whips, she did not enjoy being bound with ropes or restraints, but she loved it when I would pick her up and toss her around.  She actually liked to be thrown at the wall… we would spend the majority of our session with her charging me and I’d grapple her, choke her, hold her down, or pick her up bodily and toss her away from me, where she would hit the wall or the bed or couch and then get up and charge me again.  It was probably one of the more physically demanding things I would be called upon to do.

It was not clear to me, and probably not to her as well, which confuses me a bit, that it was always play.  At times it was light-hearted and fun.  She’d giggle as she charged me, and squeal when I would catch her and lift her over my head and toss her away.  But sometimes it would get rough.  She’d bite, hard, and I’d backhand her to get her teeth off of me, hard.  She’d have bruises at the end, and I would have bite marks that lasted for days.

She’s scream at me and tell me that I was weak and that I had a small cock and that she was going to kick my ass.  Humiliation is really not my bag, her telling me these things did nothing at all for me, but they sure got her fired up.  I’d respond by telling her to give it her best shot and that I was going to fuck her until she bled.  She’d run at me and I’d grab her by the throat and push her down or even lift her up in the classic comic-book move where the evil warlord is holding the protagonist up by the neck with one hand.  It was only because she was so small that I could do this at all and not for very long at that.  She would kick at me and flail at my arm with hers, and she could have broken my grip and got free at any point – it’s actually nearly impossible to hold a person in that position, but she didn’t want to.. she wanted to be held that way, it was a fantasy for her.

I’d grab her throat until she started to turn blue and then I’d respond with a quiet voice, “See, little girl?  You’re helpless and now I’m going to hold you down and fuck you until you break.”   And then I would hold her down and fuck her, with her saying, “Hurt me.  Harder. Please hurt me..”  over and over again before she came.

It was some of the kinkiest sex I’ve ever had, and yet, she would still maintain that she wasn’t the least bit kinky at all.  People are strange.

Today I would have given her a proper session, but I wasn’t always able to on command.  I used to get down on myself for this fact, and sometimes I still do.  I haven’t done anything nearly so intense with my current partner, and I know she wants me to, I just have to be in the right frame of mind and be feeling physically capable, which is something I have struggled with since my car accident.

But days like this are encouraging, and the pain today is not too strong, so I look forward to the next time schedules and moods intersect, and though my partner isn’t expecting it, I’m pretty sure that she’ll approve when it occurs.

Even if she doesn’t, it is my Will, and I am the big D in our relationship, so it will eventually happen.

Breaking things is sometimes fun, and fixing things is sometimes too.

Best though, is when you can do both at once.

I look forward to it.

I am Rant, but this was an admission and a story.

Rant off.

Radical Consent

I’ve just spent the majority of the past couple hours reading other people’s journal entries and notes and whatnot on a relatively popular kink social site, and one thing is abundantly clear… there are some gifted writers and smart people here, but these concepts that we’re tackling are hard to grasp, difficult to enumerate, perhaps even impossible to grok in a universal way.

There were several writings that struck a chord with me, but I’m going to pick on one in particular, because I both respect the author and think that he got a few things wrong.

I don’t know what makes me believe that adding my voice to the chorus will make a whit of difference, but here I embark upon that quest anyway.

Consent is one of the pillars upon which we build our community and trust.  Without consent, what we do is abuse.  This is an important statement, so please bear with me as I ask you to read it again, and be sure that you see there are no hedge words here: without consent, what we do is abuse.

I would never take it upon myself to invade a scene and put a stop to any actions that I saw taking place, even if, to me, they looked like abuse.  This is a conditioned response, and it was *not* something that came naturally to me.  This thing that we do is a highly ritualized and distinct universe from the reality that makes up day-to-day life for most people.

I have been witness to things that would make my blood boil and invite violence if the context from those actions was missing in my mind.  I can walk into a public dungeon and see things that if I saw them in a vanilla nightclub would warrant intervention, and I have.  But because I understand that the playplace I am at has house rules, and I accept that it is valid for me to assume that the people in scene have pre-negotiated their own terms, any intervention on my part is unwarranted, unwanted, and indeed harmful.

I have a great deal of respect for the writer of the piece I’m talking about — he goes by the name of Master James — and in his writing, he talks about consent, but he throws context out the window.  He lambastes the masses for failing to understand something that I have difficulty with even after more than a decade in this lifestyle, more if you count the years I spent at the periphery.  Our community is the only place I know of where people are able to give informed and radical consent.  Outside of the ivory tower, this is a much more muddled subject matter.

I have a contract with my partner.  She signed it willingly.  In fact, the task of writing the contract was a task that I delegated to her, because I wanted to be absolutely certain that her consent was informed, deliberate, and incontrovertible.  Not that the document itself has any legal standing, or that it cannot be changed (she was very insightful when she put the clause that allowed for modification of the contract into the contract itself) – but whether it has standing or not, whether it can be changed or not, it represents the pinnacle of consent.  It outlines the terms under which I can take action, the things that are expected of me, and most importantly, the things that I am not to approach.

Because of this, she is the only person in the world with whom I would have sex if she were intoxicated.  Because I have sober and persistent consent from her, I do not worry that she might not be able to consent to things for which we have previous history, but erring on the side of caution, I would not, even with her, attempt to push boundaries that we have not approached before when she is intoxicated.

This is all well and good in a perfect world, but the world is not perfect, not even in the highly idealized world in which we reside as kinksters.

However, this is the point where the illusion breaks down and Master James’s argument takes hold…

What if **I** am also intoxicated?

Now, I *am* a feminist, and I object to the term ‘radical feminist’ on the premise that the word ‘radical’ has become demonized and to apply it to a person is an attempt to discredit them by appellation, but I will admit that there are variances in the degree to which people cleave to this ideal, and since I am not a woman, I will never probably be as fully cognizant of the struggles of women as I should be, so I may not be as adherent to this ideal as I could be.

As far as I understand things, this is the argument that the feminists would make:

1) Alcohol and other intoxicants alter your inhibitions and cognitive abilities, making informed consent impossible.

2) Social pressures exist for women that take hold in the situation described in 1) above, and therefore, for a woman, even simple consent (as opposed to informed consent) is impossible for women even when only moderately intoxicated.

3) I am a man, and the dangers for me are significantly less than they are for a woman, so I should endeavor to err on the side of caution in all of these situations, and I should police my own actions.

On the face of it, I agree with all three points.

Point 1) is a simple fact, proven over and over again by numerous studies and real-world scenarios.  This is only reinforced further by the fact that the number one date-rape drug of all time always has been and will continue to be alcohol.

Point 2) is arguable, but you’d have to be something of a horse’s ass to make that argument.  There is no doubt in my mind that women have pressure put upon them from even before they reach sexual maturity to ‘put out’ for the boys – this is something that we can change, and changing perceptions like this is the reason I call myself a feminist.

Point 3) is also arguable, but again, it’s a reasonable argument to make.  As an atomic argument, I have nothing to say against it.  The first part of the statement is pure fact – sex is much more dangerous for women than it is for men.  There are STIs that are much easier for women to contract and for which the consequences are much more dire than they are for men, but even if that were not the case, unwanted pregnancy is a huge problem for a woman and significantly less so for the man.

If you take each of these individually, I would say that this represents a very strong argument.

However, the problem comes up with the intersection of points 1) and 3).

Sex is less dangerous for me, so I should err on the side of caution.  Roger, I’m with you there, totally on board, 100%, no problem.

Alcohol reduces inhibitions and impairs cognitive function.  This is every bit as much true for me as it is for her.  I have been taken advantage of when intoxicated.  I didn’t report it, because, well, that point 2) up there? there are societal pressures for us men as well…

But more importantly than my own experiences as a victim, when I am cognitively impaired and my inhibitions are reduced, remembering point 3) is potentially impossible for me, and I think it is not a broad generalization to apply that to any person.

Rape is a really ugly word.  Worse than ‘radical’ by a long shot.  The thing that many feminists are trying to do is to divorce the concept of intent from that of rape.  This is where I think the problem lies, and something that I disagree with, vehemently.

Rape is legally defined as the unlawful compelling of a person through force or duress to have sexual intercourse.

This is an overly narrow definition, not the least of which because it explicitly calls out sexual intercourse when I would classify a whole host of other sex acts as potential rape, but inherent to this definition is the concept of compelling someone to do something, and that requires intent.

If I don’t intend to rape you, I cannot rape you.  At least, not in the eyes of the law, and I’m pretty sure that intent should also be the litmus test that we use for applying that term outside of the law as well.

Intent can take on many forms.

If I am at a party and I see a girl who is alone and drinking a lot, and I encourage her to drink more with the idea that I will then take her back to my place and have sex with her, that is rape.

If I am in a long term relationship with you, but things are rocky and we haven’t had sex in a while and I keep refilling your wine glass because I know that you loosen up when you’ve had a bit to drink and I hope that I can then coerce you into having sex when we get home, that is also rape.

If I am at a bar and I’m flirting with a pretty girl who is matching me drink for drink and then she invites me back to her place to have sex and I go along, is that rape?

I don’t think it is, but I’m not sure, and if I wasn’t just as drunk as she was, I would have collected her contact information and NOT gone home with her, because of point 3) above, but I’m drunk, and I’m human, and she’s pretty and she invited me to her place…

Have I ever violated the consent of someone?  It pains me to say so, but I probably have.  Not all consent violations are rape though.

No one has ever told me that I have violated her consent.  Not once, not ever.  None of the actions of my youth resulted in my incarceration, or even arrest.  I have never lost a friend because we had sex and she later decided that she didn’t want to.  I have never cultivated a friendship on the hopes that one day in a moment of weakness she would sleep with me because that was what I really wanted from the beginning…

However… I have had one night stands.  The premeditated intent to have sex was never a factor in any of those one night stands.  Never have I ever set out at the beginning of the evening thinking, “I’m going to get laid tonight,” but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t happened.

Does this make me an evil person?  I don’t think so, but I’m not sure.

Have I ever had sex with someone, while drunk, that I would not have, had I been sober?

Of course I have… and you can bet your last dollar that it will probably happen again at least once before I can’t get it up any more, but I am a man, and those incidents were a lot less dangerous for me than they are for a woman.

Determining intent can be hard to do, even when you are making every effort to be honest with yourself, and in the end, adjudicating rape may end up much like Justice Stewart’s famous description of hard core porn versus art: “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”

In his well-written and thought out piece, Master James makes the connection between a woman’s inability to consent while inebriated with being a child, and that’s where I think he’s just dead wrong.  Women are facing more danger than men in these situations and that must be considered by any rational man.

Feminism goes beyond seeking equality between the sexes because they are inherently distinct and unequal.  No matter how much I would like to be able to do so, I can never conceive a child, and that is both a blessing and burden that I can never face.

Let us, as rational beings, make things equal where they are, and accommodate the things that are not, and this is one of the things that is not equal.

I will continue to do my best to hold to points 1), 2), and especially 3) above, but I will not always succeed perfectly, because these three things are not complementary and they are not even really points, but instead they are spectra, but I know who I am and what my motives are, and I sleep very well knowing that I do the best I can.

I believe that is all any feminist, ‘radical’ or not, would ask of me.

I guess I was in the mood to rant…

I am Rant, and I have opinions, but I’m not always right.

Rant off.