Thursday, November 23, 2017


revenge of the fantasized
    Sexual socio-politics is certainly at a disruptive distance from the imaginings and slick fantasies of Hugh Hefner. This passage of "revelation and reckoning" is on our thanksgiving list, like cranberries-bitter sweet and essential.
     As tough as it is for women to unearth moments of victimhood, it contributes to the good for everyone. Healing, we hope.
     Men are telling other men to inventory their own actions. We are stunned by the list of those who have fallen. For the present this is a type of national catharsis, and it is a time to be careful.
     Thought and deliberation are necessary. I think most of the fallen have personality disorders-they are creeps, "perverts" and abusive. Not all of the behavior is similar, though all of it may have been unwanted. Some is disturbed, some is poor judgment and the difference is important. 
      The assaults, physical or emotional are connected to  history and we have allowed it. I recall how a woman colleague at a radio station was subjected to salacious and lascivious comments by another colleague. It happened almost daily. I was embarrassed by it, but I did not write it up or report it. The humor at that time, our company attitude and even public standards reflected an uneven field. Social standards were complicit in abusing and objectifying women, systemically. 
       Careful accounting is important. Rebecca Traister, an author who is also a writer-at-large for New York magazine raises a curious dilemma. She asks how culpable were feminist leaders and other women who "condoned" Bill Clinton's sexual escapades because he supported their agenda?
     We need to recall little boys growing up amidst social cues and norms. The Hefner influence objectified women, sexualized their appearance and body, made a behavioral game of sexuality. That also shaped culture and behavior.
Harvey Weinstein appears to be a lout and a debased egotistical slob, and while it is not a justification he is right in saying the "culture was different." The change happening now is evolution. 
     But this reckoning raises questions. How then does someone  flirt or "come on," seek and pursue a potential romance or love interest? What is an appropriate way to begin? What are acceptable opening lines? 
     Should we no longer complement friends or colleagues on a haircut, style or anything of their appearance?
     How far back do we go to seek an apology, explanation, or justice? Could the zeal or emotion of this social change impact its legitimacy and legacy?
     How do we question the authenticity of an accusation without seeming to further victimize? Are the accused entitled an explanation? Could a comment or action simply have been ill-conceived or a case of misperception? Will we rush to judgment? 
     When does the focus turn to the sitting president, quick to criticize others, but also accused of sexual assault?
     You see how careful we must be. 
     This appears to be a most profound cultural change, an inflection point on social history. Anger alone should not be the architect of what is to follow.

autumn settings on the central coast
vineyards adopting fall color
a house concert
Katherine's sand box. Art by Neal.
a grand entrance
Cayucos night light
Piper Riley Evans-a Scot's salute
Joie and Karen in thought
A birthday petite four 
       These old boys have seen many changes on their watch.
More are on the horizon.

       Welcome to the season. Thanks for your readership.

      See you down the trail.


  1. As one who came of age during the Playboy culture, I tried not to take liberties with dates. It did not comply with the respect I was taught to afford all people, all friends. Then I fell in love, several times --as a teenager in the '60s, I sometimes fell in love when nobody else was around and dismissed it to hormones. Then, in 1970, I fell in love with my best friend. She is still my best friend and still my wife. I don't blame Hugh Hefner too much. He saw a market and seized it, but I don't think he tried to over ride good manners. There were plenty of other publishers on the threshold eager to take it over the top.

    1. Geo.
      Your story of your love affair with your best friend and still your wife is thing of beauty. I'm fortunate also to be with the woman I fell in love with in the late 60's.

      Your point about Hefner and marketing is spot on, nor do I think he was ever crude or distasteful in his "art." I also realize everyone has their own reaction to the Playboy depiction of the body.

  2. TC - I don't think it is fair to blame HH for "objectifying" women -- a concept btw that bears scrutiny. HH may have commercialized sexuality, but I don't think he was responsible for making a "behavioral game of sexuality." Genesis implies such. The Homeric epic poems describe it, as does Chaucer, Shakespeare and countless other cultural translators. You are wrestling with an aspect of human nature (GENDER ROLES) that is in massive transition and has been, sadly, politicized in the extreme. The male abuse of female within the species will not be solved by gender neutrality. As you know, I ascribe to the premise that the idea of gender neutrality only accelerates abusive masculinity, and that the end of abuse begins with this premise:
    "The crucial process of civilization is the subordination of male sexual impulses and biology to the long-term horizons of female sexuality. ... It is male behavior that must be changed to create a civilized order. ... The prime fact of life is the sexual superiority of women." Those three sentences are on page 1 of George Gilder's book Men and Marriage, a rebuke of the feminist movement that was originally titled Sexual Suicide.

    1. My good friend you have just tossed a grenade and departed. This is one deserving a good amber drink and a few hours.
      Where to begin? You are correct, Hefner commercialized sexuality and some of us who were reared in his era responded by "objectifying" women, especially those who were naked. Indeed the behavioral game has risen with the evolution of humankind, though at that time in the 50's and 60's, particular generations were especially vulnerable to the social cues, me included. Slick magazines like Playboy, emerging cinema portrayal, literature and music were part of the silo in which many of us young dudes came to maturity. Just as I was beginning to understand the physiological nature of it, my body responded to photographs of Brigit Bardot.
      GENDER ROLES-yes the latest wave in the transition, and evolution, of human beings has been politicized. We are witnessing what appears to me to be a break away from a dualistic idea about human sexuality. So this is problematic when getting into the issues raised with Gilder's book and for that matter the so called "battle of the sexes."
      "Changing male behavior to create a civilized order" is a sentence that just scares me. The former is oppressive, the later is a pandora's box and in combination it sounds terribly Skinneresque or Orwellian. The idea of subordination of male sexual impulses is a concept acceptable only with lab animals, and even then only as a perhaps in necessary (however that may be defined) circumstances. Women may indeed be sexually superior, but by what standard does one derive that?
      However again, we are probably better advised to discuss human sexuality-that is frame the discussion- in a broader context than male-female relationships. The human mind and human sexuality is deep and complex. Social norms are beginning to catch up with human biology and psychology. Having said that, however humanity expresses and engages its interpersonal sexuality, there matters of respect and mutual inclination that should be the foundation to what we consider civilized and legal.
      Deep water here pal. I think it best to steer away from sexual politics in an adversarial nature and try to navigate toward human fulfillment and sensitivity.

  3. Ha! Didn't mean to throw a grenade -- ok, maybe a little. But not Destructively. There is just so much more to this national conversation we are all having about essentially abusive treatment of women by men. It ranges from essentially rape to rude to whatever one calls Bill Clinton's addiction. But note the common theme here, TC. I'm not seeing any claims of women abusing men -- although Brigit Bardot was certainly complicit (thankfully) in those great photos -- but there I go again, "objectifying" a woman. So there may be some female participation in "objectifying women, but where oh where is the female objectification of men?
    There is nothing frightening at all about "changing male behavior to create a civilized order." My friend Gilder argues that the entire history of the species has THIS as its theme and overarching story line. i.e. civilization itself is the story of women civilizing men. You are quite right that this subject requires a week of discussion and few bottles of amber AND a case of claret.
    But mark down my starting point for the conversation -- and I say this as the husband of a professional and sexy woman for the past 39 years and the father of two lovely girls -- on both counts just like YOU -- the female is the preeminent of the species and the natural state of male behavior must be curbed to her wishes.

    1. We do indeed need to continue this conversation! For others who are reading these comments, I will vouch for the correctness of your comment as husband and father and add you are man who exercises well the space between your ears! To Be Continued....