Yer Cheatin’ Heart


As a woman who has looked for casual sex online, I’m no stranger to getting propositioned by married men. The excuses were all over the place, though the conversation rarely went far. I had little interest in cheaters; I’ve got a strong sense of sisterhood, and I would never want to cause another woman the emotional pain that cheating does. But that didn’t stop them from trying. I had plenty of them try to convince me it was okay. Maybe for them, but for me? Not so much.

(True confession: twice when I was in my 30s I knowingly slept with a married man, and once stepped out on a college boyfriend during a time we were mostly broken up. Like everyone, I like to think that I’m capable of growth and change, and of learned to discern right from wrong. The last couple of times I found myself in the dating pool, I wasn’t interested in sleeping with cheaters. If that makes my opinions unworthy because I’m a cheating hypocrite, so be it.)

Still, on the occasions I did talk with men about it, I heard a lot of stories that weren’t quite as black and white as we’d like to believe cheating is. Plenty of guys are stuck in what I call monogabacy: they are in monogamous relationships that have turned celibate. Several of them talked about still loving and wanting to have sex with their wives, but continually getting the cold shoulder; others talked about their deep love for their children, and how their marriages were decent other than the sex part. Men who couldn’t leave their spouses for economic reasons (both their own and their partners), or guys whose wives had health problems. Many of them felt guilty for what they were doing, but figured sleeping with a woman they met online was less onerous than hiring a sex worker.

And yes, there were plenty of men who were horndogs who just wanted to fuck a bunch of different women, and made no bones about it.

I don’t know if other women typically slam the email door in cheaters’ faces, but I suspect they do. If the huge number of men looking for extra-marital sex in every corner of the internet is any indication, many of them are looking fruitlessly. It’s no wonder they got lured in by the promise of hot, available pussy on Ashley Madison. If the statistics are correct, and anywhere between 1 in 5 and 1 in 2 men have consummated an affair, then there are a lot of married men out there who are unhappy with their sex lives. And sexually dissatisfied men in marriages are usually partnered with sexually dissatisfied women.

Men have long enjoyed non-consensual non-monogamy. For thousands of years, men have visited prostitutes, kept mistresses or married multiple women. While countless women have suffered because of this, there was little they could do: women had no choice but to stay with their husbands, because divorce wasn’t an option. (And let’s not forget that prior to the 20th century, sex often resulted in more children; perhaps it was a relief to have their husbands getting their needs met elsewhere so they didn’t find themselves pregnant again.) For women to cheat could meant death or being ostracized. I have no doubt that there were men who remained faithful to their wives, and couples who enjoyed passionate, erotic connections, but they were probably the exception, not the rule.

Let me clarify: I am by no means condoning cheating here. There are few things harder to bear than betrayal by someone to whom you’ve opened your heart and made yourself vulnerable. Cheating rarely ends well for any of the parties involved, and make things a whole lot harder and more complicated if/when it’s discovered. I don’t think cheating is the solution to the problems we collectively seem to have with marriage, monogamy and commitment, though, as stated above, it’s a solution men have chosen repeatedly throughout the ages.

I’ve had many female friends who have experienced cheating get triggered by the Ashley Madison leaks as they remembered the pain they experienced when they had discovered a cheating spouse, and they inevitably sided with the women who were about to find out that they too had been betrayed (although, to be fair, I’d wager to guess that not too many folks were actually hooking up through the website).

While I wasn’t interested in being a party to men cheating on their wives, I could certainly understand how they got to that point. I, too, had been an unwilling participant in monogabacy, with a husband who didn’t want to have sex with me, yet refused to tell me what kind of sex he did want to have, or what needs were going unfulfilled and causing him to turn away from me. I spent many years being cranky and frustrated and patient and sad and angry and confused: I loved my husband, was crazy attracted to him, and wanted to have an intimate, erotic relationship with him.

Instead, I got years of, well, pretty much nothing. He wouldn’t even kiss me most of the time. Regardless, I remained faithful, until I thought it would be a good idea to fix our relationship with polyamory. I tried this route for a year (more on that in a bit), and finally decided to ask him for a divorce. Unlike many other folks in sexually dead marriages, there wasn’t enough else good in the relationship to make me want to give up on sex for good, especially when it had taken me many years to find a partner with whom to share it. I reasoned that if I was going to commit to being monogamous, the sex better be damn good.

While we gleefully moralize, shame and judge those poor bastards who wanted to get laid by someone other than their lawfully wedded wives, we seem to be unwilling to admit that people have sexual needs that are frequently not met in marriage. Life intervenes, and people change. Health concerns, children, aging and stressors with work or family cause our sex drives to ebb and flow. No one should be forced to dispense sex on demand if they aren’t interested in having it, but is it really right to expect that when we commit to another, it may mean giving up on sex altogether? Surely there must be a better solution, some sort of middle ground.

Of course, at this point in our evolution, we have set ourselves up to fail. Despite the fact that the ball of wax that is love, sex and intimacy is the most important part of our lives, we have almost no education about these things. While culturally we worship porn on one end of the spectrum and romance on the other, we aren’t taught how to be present and close to another, how our bodies work, what turns us on, how to deal with conflict and a host of other skills that might prepare us for navigating the uncharted territory that lies between two people. Toss in a healthy dose of shame around our bodies, and make people obsess about their appearance. Teach one sex to be passive about their desires, and ask the other to suppress their emotions. Tell young folks to ignore the hormones surging through their bodies and save themselves for their one true love, and then throw a pair of ‘em together with zero experience, mismatched libidos and an expectation that they will stay committed to each other for fifty years.

What could possibly go wrong?

One of the things I see bandied about constantly in discussions about infidelity is that people shouldn’t commit to monogamy and marriage unless they are ready to commit. The current iteration of what marriage means, and what it’s for, is pretty new. Never in the history of partnering have we put so many hopes and expectations onto the romantic coupling between two people. Our significant other is supposed to be a best friend, a mirror for personal growth, a partner in adventure, a roommate, a support system, a parent to children and – above all – a faithful lover who fulfills all our needs for love, sex and intimacy.

Tear people’s attention away from their soulmate with the obligations of work, friends, daily chores, self-care, family and creative pursuits, and we are putting a lot of strain onto one institution. It’s little wonder it’s not working out so well. Because our society is oriented toward individuality and success, and downplays the importance of interdependence and relationships, few of us have the time and resources to create a successful partnership we aspire to in marriage. A therapist I know often tells her clients that a relationship is like a part-time job. How many people treat it that way?

I’m curious, too, what this type of honesty makes the dating landscape look like, especially for the many women who seem to be making the strident demands for monogamous marriage and commitment; from what I hear from the dating trenches, there’s already a dearth of such men out there. If we’re insistent that men be more honest about their sexual desires, we can’t be surprised when they tell us that maybe monogamy isn’t for them. Think most of them will choose monogamy? Fair maidens, get thee to the closest gay bar, talk to one of your favorite gay friends, or put a profile up on Grindr and feast thine eyes on male sexuality that doesn’t take women into the equation. It can be pretty damn promiscuous, but most men don’t mind because, well, they’re men. Many gay men in committed relationships don’t equate love with fidelity, and it works out just fine for them.

Of course this gives women a choice about whether or not they are involved with someone who wants/needs multiple partners, but it also leaves them with many fewer partner choices in the pool of available candidates. It’s clear that many men aren’t being open about their desires, but if the number of cheaters is high, like 1 in 2, then that essentially cuts the pool in half.

The desire for monogamy is largely female-driven, though not entirely, and has been linked to biology. (My partner is much more inclined toward monogamy than I am. Good thing I chose a guy who fulfills my sexual needs beautifully.) If women don’t appreciate being forced into anal sex and threesomes by their male partners, men shouldn’t be forced into monogamy by women. Why should women’s emotional desires prevail over men’s sexual needs, especially since the current setup doesn’t seem to be making either gender happy and sexually satisfied? Perhaps the women who feel that modern life leaves them too stressed and distracted to have and enjoy sex, and just seek companionship and a life partner, are better off partnering with other women (and keeping their Hitachi Magic Wands close by).

Diamonds, you're no longer a girl's best friend.

Diamonds, you’re no longer a girl’s best friend.

I’ve also heard a lot of people say that in addition to being honest, if married folks want to seek extra-marital sex they should just be open about it. From personal experience and watching many others, polyamory is not only a poor option for fixing a relationship, it exacerbates existing problems in horrible ways. When my husband and I tried it at my request during the last year of my marriage, I thought it would be a good solution. I was a perfect candidate: I worked part time, was child-free, had a good sense of boundaries and am not overly jealous. We were in good shape financially. I had plenty of friends who were practicing consensual non-monogamy, and had spent a ton of time studying alternative relationship styles.

Instead of getting my sexual, emotional and intellectual needs met, I found myself going on lots of dates but not clicking with anyone. (Plenty of guys want to get laid, but not many want to be in a relationship with a married women, even if her husband says he’s on board with it.) Meanwhile, my husband got into a serious relationship with another woman immediately.

I ended up spending a lot of time managing his schedule and supporting him in being successful with her, adding yet one more item to my to-do list. It did nothing to address the problems we were having between the two of us – I felt increasingly isolated and frustrated and lonely. And because he was getting his emotional needs met elsewhere with someone who was still new and fresh, he neglected to put any work into our relationship. The month before I decided to leave, I asked him to stop seeing her and focus on what was going on between us, putting her in a painful position as well. (He immediately went back to dating her after we split up, and continued to date her for a few years.)

Consensual non-monogamy is a lot of work, and for women who are already carrying a heavy emotional load with partners and children, it’s probably not a viable option. I have friends who manage to pull it off successfully, but they are few and far between. If people don’t have the time and bandwidth to deal with the relationship issues they already have, adding more people and complexity usually just makes it worse.

And let’s talk about honesty for a minute. While being honest throughout your relationship is a good thing, the honesty needs to be there from the beginning. Actually, the honesty needs to be there long before we get involved with anybody. People who don’t want to be monogamous must be honest about those needs with themselves first. If our libidos are low, we long to be tied up, or we’re attracted to several genders, we owe it to our partners to come clean about our desires, even if it reduces the number of potential partners.

Sex certainly isn’t the only part of a relationship, but it can consume so much of our lives when it’s out of whack. And if we hold the expectation that our life partner is going to fulfill all our sexual needs, then maybe we need to prioritize finding the person who delights us in bed. Of course there are many factors that go into evaluating a potential life mate, but sexual compatibility needs to be much higher on our list, even – and especially – if that compatibility means sex is something we want only once a month.

Recently I met a woman in her mid-20s who had hooked up with a guy who told her that he liked his ass played with during sex. She was squicked about it and didn’t want to see him again. He had done both of them a favor by being honest about his desires. Doesn’t it make sense for him to meet a woman who says, “awesome! Let me grab my strap-on!” and for her to not to waste her time dating a guy whose desires are a turn-off?

Instead, women will oftentimes think to themselves, “well, he makes great money, and I bet he would be a great dad, so I will keep seeing him and he’ll just have to forego the finger in his ass while we’re making love because I don’t like it.” Because that shit happens ALL THE TIME. Are there sexual compromises in relationships? Yep. But doesn’t it make sense to find someone who is as sexually compatible with you as possible?

Honesty also means getting real about the fact that our sexual needs are not static, and that we may go through periods where our partners can’t or won’t be able to perform. My man and I have these conversations frequently: I’m in perimenopause, and he has some pretty substantial health problems, so we know there is a high chance we will experience a physical disconnect at some point. Since our sexual relationship is vital, and vitally important to both of us, we absolutely need to be able to bring our concerns to each other and know that said concerns will be heard without judgment or guilt. I have no idea what a workaround in this area might look like for us, but being able to acknowledge it and be prepared for it long before it becomes a problem is a relief, especially after being with someone who responded to sexual issues by shutting down communication.

Maybe if we spent more time planning our marriages instead of our weddings, we’d be more successful at making them work.

Perhaps most importantly, we need to become better acquainted with our sexual and intimate selves long before we involve another person. What does a good sex life look like? (Hint: “good sex” usually means something completely different to each of us.) What sort of touch makes your body sing? Can you be vulnerable, in and out of the bedroom? Can you ask for what you need? What are the top 10 fantasies on your sexual bucket list? How do you handle conflict, and what did your family of origin teach you about love and sex? What does an ideal partnership look like, and what does marriage mean? Is it something I actually want? (And yes, I realize that this sort of introspection is more available to those who can afford it. Privilege definitely extends into our bedrooms.) Maybe if we spent more time planning our marriages instead of our weddings, we’d be more successful at making them work.

Do you REALLY want to know what's inside? Ooops! Too late!

Do you REALLY want to know what’s inside? Ooops! Too late!

And since we’ve opened Pandora’s box of what marriage is about, maybe it’s time to admit that it’s unrealistic to expect one person to fulfill all our needs, not just for sex but also for intimacy, emotional support, childrearing, leisure activities, care-giving and day-to-day living. The nuclear family unit has been largely isolating and burdensome for many, especially for women. Perhaps if we extend our definitions of what relationships mean, and our networks of people we can go to when we need something, we can take better care of ourselves and our loved ones and spread out our support systems instead of putting it all at the feet of our one true love.

If we are unwilling and unable to do this, we have two choices: the first is to continue as we are, having expectations based on our ideal relationship fantasies, and being blindsided when our partners and their needs change, and the dissolution of said relationships tear apart our families, both economically and emotionally.

The second is to make sure that when we do choose a partner, we choose someone whose goals and desires match our own and make sure it’s a good match before we commit. I know I didn’t meet the person who rocks my world in and out of bed until I was nearly 50 and had being involved in several long and short relationships. He drives me crazy, and challenges me in many ways (and vice versa), but I have a lot less to “settle for” because I had gotten clear about my own desires, especially sexually. Whether we’re doing some sort of role play and fantasy, having a drawn-out romantic seduction or saying, “hey, let’s have sex,” go in the bedroom, unceremoniously get naked and fuck, the sex we have is deeply satisfying. Monogamy – and continuing to be turned on and horny – hasn’t been hard to do because we fit each other so well sexually.

Of course the second way is risky, and means that we may end up alone because we are being a lot choosier, but that seems to be happening anyhow – look at all the single people out there who don’t have any sort of relationship at all. Even more telling, look at the people who are married and see how few of them seem to be having sexually satisfying marriages.

We have been given an unprecedented opportunity to have some serious conversations as a society about the future of marriage, monogamy, families and faithfulness. Perhaps going forward we can spend a little time considering what it is we need from our partnerships instead of blindly going into them without forethought and having our hearts broken when expectations and reality don’t line up. Is it less romantic to write relationship contracts than to be swept off of our feet? Absolutely. But we have a much better shot at monogamy and marriage if we can define what they mean to us, and can find someone who shares our desires.

What my fans are saying

I recently did a tarot reading for someone in Seattle, and she gave me this glowing review. Rather than trying to paraphrase and edit, I’ll reprint it here for you.


One of the sweetest, most powerful birthday gifts I’ve enjoyed this Jane-uary was a Tarot reading from Epiphany.

If you know me well, you know I live in the grey area between cold hard science and sympathetic magick woowoo. I love the Tarot because it gives you an opportunity to overlay your intuition about yourself onto a probably random arrangement of metaphors. It’s a powerful exercise that triggers fresh ways of thinking about familiar things, teasing out ideas that are hiding under your empirical mind. Is it governed by spiritual forces? That’s up to you to decide.

Working with Epiphany makes the already powerful experience of a reading even richer. She has extraordinary intuition and emotional intelligence that I think comes from an innate talent for understanding people combined with the rich lessons of a life well adventured. The insights she brought to the reading felt absolutely true and added so much to my understanding of my midlife path.

I wholeheartedly recommend getting a reading from her. She’s in Austin, but our reading via Skype was almost like being in the room together.

No predictions?

A lot of the tarot readings I do are party gigs. The host pays an up-front fee for me to show up and give three-card readings to the guests for a specific amount of time. ask a nurse . Because I’m part of the entertainment, I usually wind up reading for lots of people who have never had a tarot reading before, and would never seek out such a thing.

Oftentimes they sit down and want to know what their future holds, and they are surprised when I tell them that they won’t be learning about their future from me. I know there are readers out there who do see the future, or claim to see it, but I’ve never worked that way. To me, the present is much more interesting and relevant…and can help you create the future you want.

I view tarot as a mirror; it only shows you back to yourself. You may not like what you see when you look in the mirror, but it’s good to have an objective outside opinion about why things are the way they are. Actually, that is not entirely accurate – the person sitting in front of me picks out the cards, so it’s a reflection of what you might need to know/hear in the moment.

One of the most popular questions I get is about romance.

Osho Zen Tarot Lovers card. Often the Lovers encourages you to love yourself.

Osho Zen Tarot Lovers card. Often the Lovers encourages you to love yourself.

Single people always want to know when they are going to meet the love of their life. If I were a more traditional tarot reader, I might say something like, “two weeks from now, you’ll be sitting at the bus stop and a guy in a blue backpack will walk up and strike up a conversation with you. He is your next boyfriend.” And the person getting the reading hops off on their merry way, convinced that they have to do nothing other than sit back and relax and wait for this guy to show up (and likely too they will come back and get another reading soon – after all, the reader made them feel happy).

So what if this really does happen, and the person getting the reading does meet this knight in shining backpack, and starts a relationship? Usually, things can click along well for about 3-4 months…and then the same relationship problems start happening again. The same problems experienced in the last relationship.  Why is this? Doesn’t meeting the man of your dreams make everything okay?

Yeah…not so much. When I get asked this question, the answer might have to do with a fear of intimacy or rejection, an inability to be vulnerable, not noticing when people are interested or baggage from a previous relationship that needs to be given closure. Because ultimately, the only person you can control is you. And doesn’t it make more sense to work on the aspects of your own heart and mind instead of waiting for someone else to come along and fix it for you? It’s usually the opposite that happens: rather than fix it, once the honeymoon period wears off a new love interest will bring the problems to the forefront of our consciousness. Every. Single. Time. Why not get a jump on working on them?

Longer readings (which I vastly prefer doing) are designed to delve deeply into a single question and bringing many aspects of the issue to light. People often tell me that it feels like a year’s worth of therapy, or a time-release capsule which will continue to yield information long after the reading is over. I won’t solve your problems for you, but I will definitely make you think…and keep you thinking.

There’s little in the way of mysticism or magic to what I do. Rather, it’s just a game of connect-the-dots. You can take the information in, digest it and decide when/if you want to make a change. Maybe it’s easier in the short run to have someone else tell you how it’s all going to turn out, but growth, change, healing and evolution yield much better results.

Just as the tarot is a mirror, so is the world around you. Our experiences, thoughts and feelings (especially in the arena of love) manifest back to us. If we’re not paying attention to the parts that are hidden in shadows, they can often show up in unpleasant ways. Why not take a good, long, hard look, at the parts that are good and the parts that are bad, and reshape them into something beautiful and sustaining?

Burners and Boundaries

I wrote the following this morning in response to a discussion about rape culture amongst my Burner friends in California. This is something I have had a chance to contemplate, deeply, over the past 10 or so years. I think it is an elegant, simple solution to dealing with predators and bullies. I hope you find it useful.


It is no secret that our  members tend to hate rules and boundaries. With that in mind, I would like to make a very modest proposal.

If we want to continue having an environment of permissiveness, fun and wacky, crazy, raunchy, silly social activity, there MUST be a baseline of acceptable behavior. I propose that assaulting people sexually, physically or psychologically, stealing and vandalism are grounds for being ejected from large group activities (people are, of course, free to continue friendships with individuals on their own in small, intimate settings, if that is what they choose).
That leaves things very wide open for all sorts of activities, behaviors and craziness – it allows for most things. But the behaviors named above, while widely practiced in our world, are not considered acceptable, ethical behavior in any society or group anywhere. I do not think it is too much to ask to be able to go to an event or gathering or party and not have to feel in danger because of the presence of another member of the community. I think it is reasonable to ask that a firm boundary be put in place on these things. Without it, all other boundaries, big or small, are invalid. It is simply not possible to have an anything goes environment, and to continue to pretend it does will only result in further deterioration of the social fabric of the group and individuals getting hurt.
Now, of course, there are many in the group who like to test, push, expand and demolish boundaries. I think it is fantastic that we have created a place where people can do these things, and I want to see this continue. And here I am going to propose something radical and unheard-of. It is subtle, but it makes a huge difference in how we interact with each other, and could go a very long way to keeping people from being hurt, intentionally or unintentionally.
It is fine to play on the edge with your own boundaries. But if you want the freedom to do this in a way that involves other people, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure that  others actually WANT their boundaries pushed. We tend to say that it is the responsibility of the person who doesn’t like or enjoy the activity to remove themselves from the situation (see: blame the victim), but I disagree with that. You want the freedom? You take the responsibility for what you do. And it is a very simple, tiny thing to stop and check in with the other person or people.
By adopting this guideline, three things happen: first off, people who want to push the boundaries of others can continue to do so. Second, they get to play with people who want their boundaries pushed. And third, and most importantly, it gives those who don’t want to play the chance to say no, possibly avoiding a situation where the individual opting out could be damaged by their unwilling participation. All of us are raised with almost no instruction about how to set our boundaries, negotiate getting what we want and – most importantly – saying NO. When people get their boundaries crossed because someone else pushed them, we then put all the onus on the person who was injured for not setting firm boundaries in a way that we find acceptable (see: blame the victim again).
This is not about what people are doing. It is about the non-consensual nature of what they are doing. I will tell you, from my own personal experience, when others selfishly and narcissistically set out to provide others with an experience they don’t want, there is no way to predict what the consequences of such actions might be. I’d like to give you a quote from one of the women who psychologically raped me 9 years ago:

“I would like to propose (what seems to be) an unpopular opinion.  There is nothing at all wrong with making people feel uncomfortable.  In fact, I think it is impossible to *make* anybody feel anything at all.

I propose that comfort breeds complacency, stagnancy and other nouns which cause my heart of hearts make a noise that sounds like “Blech!”  Pushing buttons is fine.  Boundaries cannot be breached if they are not tested.  Boundary crossing is bound to happen.  Continuing to cross a boundary after someone has asked you to stop can range from impolite to jail-worthy.  But suggesting that boundaries ought not be crossed at all is unreasonable.”

Apparently what the people being made to feel uncomfortable wanted or needed didn’t factor into the equation. At all. I know for a fact that these people were not bothered in the slightest that I was physically ill for a year because of their radical self-expression; after all I “didn’t take personal responsibility for myself” and remove myself from the situation. This attitude was defended, glorified and excused so many times that I ended up leaving the group, permanently. I know this is an extreme example, but I see people doing crap like this in ways large and small, and those who dare to speak up are shamed, mocked and attacked for not being hardcore enough. Put up or shut up is not a good way to run a community, and smacks greatly of the claim of censorship that people use to justify exercising their freedom at all costs, regardless of the effect it might have on others. If people want to play on the edge that’s fine, but we need to make sure that there is room in the spectrum for those who seek a different experience that might be considered more traditional, quiet, introverted, etc.

My boyfriend is often fond of saying that we claim we want to live in a free society, but what we really want is to live in a narcissistic society where we can do whatever the fuck we want and there are no consequences for our actions. I have seen a lot of that sort of behavior in the nearly 20 years I’ve been involved with Burner culture. At its mildest, it can be merely annoying, but at its most extreme, it can destroy someone’s life. It certainly isn’t practiced by everyone – I do believe that most burners are good people who want to connect, belong and take care of their fellow freaks – but our continued tolerance for the bad apples simply cannot continue.

I know I have just opened a huge can of worms, but as a friend said, it’s like the Berlin Wall of rape culture is currently coming down in our society. It is time to address this stuff head on in our own circles, especially since we tend to think of ourselves as cultural pioneers who are forming new ways of relating to each other. I have conversations about this stuff all the time with my women friends, but I also know none of it will change until men start standing up and speaking out as well. This group is filled with men I love, admire and respect, men who are thoughtful, respectful and protective of their friends. If you are one of those men, please add your voice and thoughts to this conversation.

Get off my lawn!

I recently went on a campout with about 100 people in the woods of Northern California. Our group has been going to this particular spot for about 12 years. My friends are extremely eccentric, and many of the folks do a lot of experimentation with sex and drugs. Things have calmed down quite a bit from where they were when we first started, but things often get crazy. We have spent a lot of time establishing rules around what is permissible and what is not. We like to keep things open, and there is a high degree of tolerance, but it is not an anything-goes environment (though it would certainly look like one from the outside).

A couple of years back, the campground changed its policy and made the venue 18 and up, but years ago we had campouts where kids were included. Because there were children present in a place with adult activities, we created spaces where said activities could occur but they would not in front of the children. This system has worked well. One of the hard and fast rules has been around the lawn (the central gathering spot). “See you on the lawn” is a standard sign-off in conversations prior to a campout. We do yoga, have classes and game shows, and read, talk, knit, nap and relax on the lawn. It is the equivalent of a family game room or living room.

Even though children no longer come camping with us, we have maintained that the lawn is a sex-free environment. I have described it thusly: it’s okay to have sex in your living room. It’s okay to have sex in your living room with other people, if everyone is having sex. It’s not okay to have sex in your living room if there are people sitting around reading books and having conversations.

You kids get off my lawn!

You kids get off my lawn!

This rule has been broken on multiple occasions, and this weekend was no exception. Saturday afternoon I was attending one of many workshops (ironically, a workshop about sex), and three people started fucking. I was sitting about 5′ away from this action, and considered telling them to stop, but ended up not doing so. Some folks were watching, others moved away. People were unsure what to do – was this acceptable behavior? There were many people there who had never been to one of our events and they genuinely didn’t know how to respond.

Sunday, the same individuals started having sex on the lawn again. This time, a few people were uncomfortable enough to approach one of the organizers, who told the fornicators that they needed to stop. They discontinued, and moved to a table next to the kitchen where dinner was being prepared (another very public area where, to my knowledge, no one had had sex before).

Discussions raged about this transgression for the rest of the campout. The gossip ranged from admiration to incredulity to slut-shaming to disgust to anger. One friend who had attended our event only once before had brought a couple of newbies along, and they wondered how this sort of thing was usually handled, and was it really okay? I told her that what usually happened was that people would sit around feeling uncomfortable about it, no one would say anything, and then when we got back to town people would start whining and complaining about it on email…which is exactly what has happened. I’m curious to see how/if this will be resolved, but I suspect that it will be happening again next year.

So, oh yeah, I was going to talk about boundaries. After watching this scenario go down a few times, I had several thoughts about ’em.

  • We are socialized to have particular customs around boundaries, and when we are presented with a situation where the boundaries and rules change, we often don’t know how to respond.
  • Boundaries tend to be very fluid. There are some things that may be acceptable with certain people in certain places and at certain times, but not at other times. And it’s hard to remember that each of us has a very individual set of boundaries that differ greatly from person to person. (To be honest, some people know that others have boundaries different from their own and just don’t give a fuck.)
  • I have often observed that people who have more stringent, conservative boundaries internally shame themselves or wonder what is wrong with them because they don’t have much interest in participating in non-monogamous or kinky sex. There is absolutely nothing wrong with living and loving in a more traditional way, and in my perfect sex-positive universe, we each get to have our own, satisfying sex life regardless of where we fall on the vanilla/kinky spectrum or the non-/monogamous spectrum.
  • Worse than feeling bad about having more conservative boundaries than others is that people don’t speak up when they are uncomfortable because they don’t want to appear as a spoilsport or buzzkill to others’ fun. This makes one person’s boundaries more acceptable than others, and it ain’t right.
  • People feel that they can’t speak up because they are “not in charge.” This sort of parental approach to boundaries – that Mom or Dad needs to handle it – leaves people feeling disempowered and looking like victims. On the other end of that spectrum, it seems like sometimes people push/break boundaries just because they are told that a boundary is there. To me, this is letting the inner teenager take over and it’s extremely obnoxious.
  • American culture is so steeped in individualism that oftentimes people think they have the right to do whatever they damn well please, even when it is at the expense of others. This is an attitude I find selfish, self-absorbed and self-centered, and it can and has harmed others. (Note: I don’t classify this particular situation as harmful, but this attitude espoused by others can be.)
  • One of the people who was having sex on the lawn was a long-standing member of our group who has been warned in the past, and definitely knows the rules (I suspect the involvement of new participants to our event was deliberate). This particular person is a very beautiful, sexy woman; had she been a man, she would have been kicked out of our group years ago. There are definitely double standards for men and women when it comes to sex, and the ones that benefit women are just as bad.
  • When you see people breaking boundaries, it gives others permission to do so. One woman told me that she and her girlfriends had a couple of different men put their hands on them without asking. The only way it’s possible to have an environment of experimentation and permissiveness is to have boundaries be respected. (Of course, not everyone knows what their boundaries are, or that they must assert them, but that’s a whole different story.)

I have no idea how this particular situation will turn out; personally, I think that it’s gone past the place where a slap on the wrist will suffice and someone needs to draw a firm line in the sand. Alas, it’s not my event and since I’m not an organizer, it’s not my call to make. My good friend Mrs. B has succinctly put words to a long-standing problem I’ve seen in my group and other alternative groups: what happens when you have a group of highly tolerant people, and there are those who repeatedly break the social contract and there are no consequences for such actions? I think this is another thing that harks back to our younger selves: so many of us were rejected by our peers in school that exclusion of anyone for anything reminds us of the pain we felt when we were rejected, and so we show no one the door. (This is from that most excellent of documents, Five Geek Social Fallacies. If you are part of an alternative community, you should print it out, read it, then chew it up and swallow it so it becomes part of the very fiber of your body.) In the end, it bites us in the ass because we allow people and practices to flourish for way too long in a disruptive fashion.

The Pleasure Principle

The past couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about pleasure. It’s been on my mind – quite literally. It must be good for me – and the world – to experience orgasm for 30-60 minutes at a time. I can’t help but think that this forges new neural pathways in my brain. It’s certainly improved my outlook on life; this morning, I told a colleague of my boss’s that I was feeling fantastic in response to his standard, “how are you?” pleasantry. He said he thought I was the only person he would encounter today who might say that. Too bad more folks don’t feel that way.

I’ve also been trying to analyze, wrap my head around the powerful sexual connection I have with my new boy. Is it mere chemistry? The way our bodies fit together? Is it stamina or skill? Desire? Or is there something more spiritual to our connection? We have yet to figure it out; all I know is that it feels amazing, better than any dick I’ve ever had inside of me. It has continued to improve, every time we have been together. I hope this bodes well for our future trysts, and that it doesn’t fade away a few months down the road. I can’t help but compare to past lovers, but I know that I will do everything in my power to appreciate and nurture the times when we’re lucky enough to be together.

This week, I’ve been reading Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth and the Politics of the Body by Riane Eisler, author of The Chalice and the Blade (truly one of the best books ever). She is looking at how sex went from being sacred, with pleasure (along with the role of women) a central concept, to a culture where sex is equated with pain and domination. So far I’ve been enjoying it, though I have to question where those of us who enjoy consensual BDSM fit in (I haven’t gotten to that part yet). While the subjugation of women is at the heart of much of the current debate around birth control and women, there is also a deep distrust/hatred of sex for pleasure, and pleasure itself.

Miss Jordan if you're nasty.

Miss Jordan if you’re nasty.

I wonder why we are so fearful about it. I can see how it would be a threat to the capitalistic, Protestant-work-ethic mindset – I know my boy doesn’t have much interest in going back to work after we finish one of our lunch-hour trysts – but what is the point of wanting others to have a miserable existence where sex is only used for procreation? Perhaps it’s about denying that connection often comes from physical sharing. It’s hard to hate, or even think of someone as other, when you’ve been vulnerable with them, or seen their vulnerability. Divided we fall….

Animals crave touch and affection: as I write this, my cat is climbing all over me, trying to push her head under my hand so I will pet her (or maybe she just wants me to feed her?). It is our natural state of being. I’m huge on washing or dyeing people’s hair, or shaving men’s faces – social grooming is something we used to do with each other, though these days it’s a solitary activity. (I do draw the line at picking/eating lice from people’s hair.) 😉 We never lose the desire to be held and cuddled, even when we’re told as adults that we shouldn’t want it. There’s nothing like the feeling of safety that comes from being in the arms of someone you trust. Hugs are a lovely exercise in simultaneously giving and receiving.  Why is this considered a bad thing?

One of the reasons love, sex and relationships is my avocation is that I want more pleasure in the world. I want to help other people figure out what makes them happy in the bedroom, and learn how to ask for it so that they can get what they want/need. I don’t know how or why sex has gotten so complicated…it’s an intersection of so many social, cultural, economic, religious, biological, evolutionary and gender issues, among others. It’s endlessly fascinating to me – I could literally spend all day talking to people about this stuff. But it’s obviously so necessary – above all, people want to feel accepted, to know that they aren’t freaks, that their desires, kinks and fetishes are normal. Seems so simple, but it is in very short supply in my corner of the world. Much easier to guilt people, demand that they suppress their desires and perpetuate models of relationship and sexuality that are unsatisfying, restricting and limiting.

Many religious practices believe the key to enlightenment is transcending or denying the body. Yet we are here, in bodies, and we can’t really escape them. Seems much better to work with them, embrace them (and other bodies!), care for them, and enjoy them. And apparently, that is a radical concept.

Me, myself and I

Over the years, I’ve gotten really good at getting myself off. I went through a period when I first moved to Austin, where I decided to be celibate, but I kept on with the masturbating. I got into some pretty powerful sexual spaces all by my lonesome, and am an expert on how my body works.

I know that many women have g-spots, but I must say that mine’s pretty spectacular. You can feel it from the outside of my body. It’s a ridge that runs downward, over my pubic mound, toward my clit. By stimulating it from the inside and the outside, I can give myself amazing, strong orgasms. I would even venture to brag that I’m the best lover I’ve ever had, though I’d much rather be getting off with someone else.

It’s a beautiful spring day, overcast and a bit rainy, mid 70s. Everything is alive and growing, trees and plants in bloom, somewhat like my libido. SXSW has finally ended, and I have my houses back to myself again. I was supposed to have a rendezvous with a lover, but he isn’t feeling well. Just because he’s unavailable doesn’t make me any less horny.

I walk back into the bedroom, and smile to myself. The dull, late-afternoon light falls on the bed. I’m very aware of my body, and the erotic current that is humming through it. I begin to take off my clothes.

I lie down, and grab my pyrex glass dildo from the nightstand. It’s a beauty, smooth and curved, with an egg-shaped head that hits my g-spot perfectly. It was my housewarming present to myself when I bought the house. It was an expensive sex toy, but breaking it down, the cost per orgasm is really quite reasonable.

I lube it up, spread my legs, and begin teasing myself with it. Slowly, I put it inside. I’m so hungry for penetration; I can’t get enough of it.  There’s a noticeable thud when the head hits my g-spot. I grasp the shaft, and begin moving it in and out, angled slightly upward, rubbing the head on my g-spot. salesforce service cloud . With the other hand, I begin rubbing over my g-spot from the outside of my body, making a circular motion. I can feel the tension start to build as my pelvic muscles start to tighten.

There is one particular spot where the orgasm looms, and it seems to move around, withdrawing deeper into my body, closer to my cervix, moving from side to side. I stroke myself both inside and out, faster and harder, trying to tickle that spot enough so that I can finally come.

X marks the spot - follow the map.

X marks the spot – follow the map.

My wrists begin to hurt; between typing and masturbation, my arms are pretty fried. I begin moaning as my pelvic area becomes tenser and tenser. i still can’t reach just the right spot. My arms hurt, but ain’t no way I can stop myself from chasing down that orgasm. My pace increases, I continue to go faster and harder until finally, I reach the top. Instead of being able to let the orgasm go and go, the spasm is so intense that my body stops, clenches but won’t keep going. No multiple orgasm for me today, but if I’m only going to have one, it’s a pretty good one….

I stop, breathing hard. I’m blissed out, lying back on the bed, exhausted and smiling. If I was still a smoker, I’d definitely have a cigarette after that.

The world is beautiful, but it’s also a bleak, harsh place. We’d all be much happier if we pursued pleasure on a daily basis, made it a priority. Spreading self-induced dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins through the brains of the populus will make us nicer, happier, more tolerant and willing to talk to each other. It’s sad that the old, white guys who run this country are so scared of the female capacity for orgasm. I honestly believe it has the capacity to change the world….

Riding in cars with boys

It’s Tuesday night around 9 and I’ve gotten lost four times in North Austin. As a general rule, I try not to go further north than MLK, but the new boy has gotten under my skin like a whole summer’s worth of chiggers, and I have to scratch that itch. Hell, I’d even drive to Georgetown to see him. Fortunately, his office is within city limits. Unfortunately, he works nights, so our time together is very limited. We’ve taken to meeting up on his lunch hour to hook up, and Tuesday is our night. I cannot seem to get enough of having him inside of me, and my inability to remember the way to his office is only adding to my anticipation and frustration.

I finally manage to locate the right street, and drive past deserted office buildings. When I pull in, I call to let him know I’m here. I go and stand against the back of his car, leaning back, smiling to myself, looking at the stars, lost in my fantasies about having his hands on me once again. It’s been four days since we’ve seen each other, and that’s about 3.5 days too long to be apart at this early stage in our courting.

He comes out with a glass of cold ice water for me; I know that I’ll be very thirsty by the time we’re done. He hugs me and gives me a kiss, and tells me the office cleaning people are gone, so if I’d like to come in and get bent over and fucked on the conference table, we could do that. I smile at the thought, look up at him and ask him what he wants. He opts for the car. I can’t blame him…it’s fun to act like teenagers. I climb into the front seat next to him, and we start driving. When he casually puts his hand on my knee, my body shudders a bit.

We drive behind the deserted warehouse that has become our spot, and check to see if there is anyone behind the next building over. We didn’t realize people were there last week; if they saw or heard us, they must have gotten quite a show to go along with their Lone Stars and bad Mexican schwag. Tonight, though, we’re all alone.

If this car's a-rockin', don't come a-knockin'.

If this car’s a-rockin’, don’t come a-knockin’.

We smoke a cigarette, and he leans over and starts kissing me. It’s a bit awkward with the console between the seats; heavy petting in cars must have been much easier when there were seats that went straight across. My knees flop open (ooops, forgot my aspirin tonight), and his hand travels down my back and around the curve of my hip to rest on my knee. He pushes my dress up my leg. I slouch down in the seat a bit and throw my right leg up on the dashboard. He pulls away, and looks at me. I’m wearing a black and white striped dress with cleavage for days, and a pair of gold cowboy boots with very pointed toes that showed up  earlier in the week in a big box full of shoes from a girlfriend in California. I love getting dressed up for him, and will do anything to turn him on and make him want me more.

“You have an amazing ass,” he says, as he continues to stroke my leg. “And beautiful breasts. And an incredible pussy.” With this, his fingers begin to caress my labia through my underwear. I begin wiggling, trying to get him to move his fingers so they are touching my skin. My panties are tight, though, and it’s impossible for him to push them aside, though he doesn’t seem in any hurry to do so. I marvel at his self-control; I have none. I feel like I’m going to explode if he doesn’t get down to business soon.

Normally when I meet him, I wear thong underwear, which he loves. I had been wearing a brand-new pair earlier in the day, but they proved to be too small, and I changed into a pair of little white boy shorts that ride up on my ass cheeks. I like the way they look on me, and hope he does too. I tell him what I’ve done.

“Perfect,” he says. “Bootie shorts are my second favorite after thongs.” He begins kissing me again, and I grab his hand and guide it under the top of my shorts. His fingers graze over my clitoris gently, and I push my pelvis up, trying to get him to stick his fingers inside of me. As usual, I’m drenched.

“Mmmm, you’re so wet,” he says. “I’m pretty sure that’s all your fault,” I tell him, gasping a bit. He laughs. “Okay, I’ll take the blame.” We continue this way for a few more minutes, our kisses becoming more frantic. Finally I tell him we need to climb in the back seat. We pull apart, and I walk around the corner to empty my bladder. My PC muscles are contracted tightly, and it takes a minute to relax my body enough to piss. On the way back to the car, I pull off my dress and throw it in the front seat. I walk around the side of the car wearing nothing but my gold boots and white underwear.

He’s finished moving the seats forward – we have quite a bit of room in the back of his small SUV – and he’s sitting in the back seat, taking off his shoes, socks and pants. I open the door, and turn around so he can get a better view of the little white shorts riding up into the crack of my ass.

“Goddamn,” he says. “Okay, those are a tie for first place with the thongs. But then again, I think your ass would look great in a potato sack.” My cellulite is quite appreciative of the compliment. I hop into the back seat with him, throw my arms around his neck and begin nibbling on his earlobe. His cock is starting to get erect, and I grab at it through his underwear. After a few strokes, he removes his underwear to give me better access. I kneel sideways on the seat, lean forward to take his cock into my mouth, and begin sucking. He starts moaning. A couple of days earlier, he has emailed me to tell me how good my blowjobs were, and I intend to do him proud. His cock is a bit smaller than what this size queen is used to, but it’s more than adequate, and I love that it’s easy for me to take the whole thing in my mouth. The more turned on he gets, the hornier I become. Finally, I stop, and look at him pleadingly.

“Will you please put on a condom and fuck me,” I beg. “I need it really bad.”

“I think we can arrange that,” he says, and reaches for the condom he has coveniently set on the console within easy reach. He puts it on, and sits back. I pull off my underwear, but leave the gold cowboy boots on, and ask him to move more toward the center of the car. Once he does, I straddle him, and lower myself onto his cock.

Because I’m so wet, no lube is necessary, and it’s easy for him to slide into me. As I start riding him, the energy in the car changes, it feels more solemn and raucous at the same time. It’s electric – he’s put the plug into my socket, and my nervous system lights up like a stadium. I can’t believe how good it feels to have him inside me, how responsive I am to his every thrust. I put my arms around his neck, and start bouncing and grinding on him. Within a minute, I feel the first of many orgasms begin – I can come practically the entire time he’s inside of me. I put my arms around his neck, and he buries his face in my breasts. I ask him to move forward a bit so I can get a better angle. Somehow, I can’t possibly be close enough, or have him deep enough. I kiss him over and over. His arms wrap around my waist to pull me toward him. Our moans fill the car, and float out of the open sunroof. The temperature begins to rise. At one point, he stops, and begins talking to me about a sexual fantasy he has, but he has yet to climax, so I kiss him to shut him up and start grinding again, moving my hips back and forth. Speed, friction, moans and urgency increase until he finally climaxes. As I hold him tightly, panting, I feel like I want to cry. I’m filled with peace, and my heart is expanding. The chatter in my brain has calmed, and is marinating in a lovely cocktail of dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins. Years ago I lost count of how many men I’ve slept with, but this is the good stuff, what people write songs and poems about. Breathlessly, he repeats, “oh my god” several times. I must agree; it’s pretty fucking divine. Not sure if it’s chemistry or skill, but damn, do we work well together.

He looks at me, and asks if I thought that was even better, more connected than the first time we had sex in the back seat of his car. I concur – the sex has improved every time we’ve fucked. I wonder what it might be like when we’ve been sleeping together for six months or a year, and know each other better. We talk about our plans for the weekend. I tell him I think I’m falling for him, hard, and he smiles and kisses me. I’m glad he approves; wild horses couldn’t peel me off his dick right now.

While I could have gone for rounds 2, 3, 4 and 5, his lunch hour is unfortunately over, and we get dressed for drive back to his office. I throw my panties in the front seat, knowing that sometime in the next couple of days, he will drape them over his cock and masturbte into them until every inch of them is coated in cum.

We arrive at his office, get out of the car, and he kisses me goodnight. I look at him, and realize he has put his shirt on inside out. I point it out, and start jumping up and down with my fists in the air. “Yes! I made you orgasm stupid!” I say triumphantly. He doesn’t seem overly concerned.

Reluctantly, I say good bye and let him go back into his building. I hop in my car to drive home. I’m sleepy and smiling, and this time I don’t get lost. And while I can’t prove it, I’m pretty sure that my gold cowboy boots are shining just a little bit brighter….

Living in a porn film

Apparently my life has turned into a porn film. I have a potential new lover, one I met in a very x-rated flick kinda way. He showed up on my doorstep to deliver me a pizza. Quick: turn down the lights, cue the cheesy music and let me get my clothes off so I can fuck him.

Of course, that’s what everybody thinks when they hear how I made his acquaintance, even though it didn’t go down that way. This boy caught me completely off-guard, and when I first laid eyes on him standing on my front porch, sex was the furthest thing from my mind – I was starving and wanted some dinner.

Oh, you brought me a pizza! Let's fuck!

Oh, you brought me a pizza! Let’s fuck!

Not only did he pursue me, but he did so quite patiently. He didn’t even try to kiss me until the end of the third date, gave me time to talk to him, allowed me to get to know him and feel safe with him. There was a flurry of text messages, and then I left town for a couple of weeks. We still haven’t had sex (at my request…it’s more fun to drag it out and torment each other for a little while, allowing the sexual energy to build), though the sexting has been hot and heavy, and the night we spent fooling around was extremely erotic and left me wanting more. I invited him out, got way dressed up and took him to dinner. His eyes popped out a bit when I walked up to the restaurant. Which was exactly what I wanted…. Telling me that the meal I prepared him was better than what we ordered in the restaurant was a nice touch (my cooking skills leave a lot to be desired).

He’s a 5th generation Texan, and has the gentlemanly behavior, sweet southern charm and nice manners that come when a boy is raised in the Lone Star State, but with the extra benefit of having lived on the west coast for a while. He is handsome and boyish, with brown hair, blue eyes, a scruffy beard and a soft, round belly. He has almost no hair on his chest. He’s just shy of 6’, which is a bit taller than I prefer, though I could almost look him in the eyes when I wore platform shoes out to dinner. He’s almost 20 years younger than me, though it doesn’t make much of a difference. In the bedroom, we seem to be well-matched, with high libidos and mutual wicked imaginations. I’m actually more than a bit surprised that I don’t intimidate him. When we were making out on the couch after dinner, I looked at him and said that  most men were scared of my sexuality. He laughed, kissed me again and told me I had been hanging out with the wrong guys. Okay, you don’t have to convince me – I want to know where to find the men who say “yes, gimme more.” For the moment, though, I’m happy to have found one of them. It feels really good to have someone appreciate my libido, instead of treating me like I should be ashamed of my sexuality.

When I was married to my ex-husband, I would be climbing the walls because our sex life consisted of about five minutes, start to finish, once a month. He would get resentful and tell me I was a sex addict because I wanted to have sex with the man I had said “I do” to. It occurred to me, at the time, that perhaps it was better to find someone who wanted what I wanted rather than for him to convince me to live in his world (which I did, for the better part of five years), or for me to wait for him to live in mine (something that never happened, regardless of how patient and understanding I was). Neither sex life is better or worse, and people deserve to have sex how they want and when they want it, but when sex drives are that badly mismatched, nothing good can come of it. I was a cranky bitch most of the time, and couldn’t figure out how to shift the energy, make him want me, or even get him to tell me what it was that he wanted or needed. In retrospect, I was just way too much for him – he needed something that more resembled an old Ford truck, and I was a Lamborghini.

The new boy, though…I think he’s driven a sports car a time or two, and knows when to accelerate around the curves, and when to put on the brakes. I’m enjoying learning how it feels when his arms slip around my waist, the softness of his tongue sliding between my lips when he kisses me and watching him jump when I bite his extremely sensitive tiny nipples. I loved watching him masturbate to see what sort of strokes he used (and filed the information away for when I wanted to get him off with my hands), and delighted as he quickly became erect when I sucked on him. I kept coming back to his cock, torturing myself by allowing him into my mouth but not into my cunt, where I really really wanted him. I think he likes the way I squirm…he’s quite up for playing this game.

I have no idea of how our relationship might develop – I don’t really have much interest in having a boyfriend at the moment. But having a lover or three, that sounds like a damn fine idea. Nice to have a willing victim.

Cultural paradox

Last night I ended up going to a bar on the west side of downtown Austin. I almost never go downtown on Saturday night, but an out-of-town friend called and invited me to come out for his girlfriend’s birthday. They were watching the Saints game at Lucy’s Surfer Bar, a place where his girlfriend hangs out frequently (it’s a local haunt for ex-pats of the Crescent City).

I got there as the game was ending, which was a good thing – I’ve never been a fan of football. The bar was packed, and spirits were high: New Orleans had just won. It took me several minutes to make my way to the back of the bar. It was a fairly typical downtown Austin club scene – loads of people 25 years younger than me indulging in my least-favorite drug: alcohol. I finally found my friend and his girlfriend, and spent a few minutes catching up. It was decided that we would go to another bar, and we started making our way toward the exit. My friend’s girlfriend got distracted and started dancing, and it looked like we were going to be there for a while. Loud, crowded and drunk are probably my three least favorite environments to be in. (I may have mad social skillz, but I’m really an introvert.) I excused myself and headed home.

It has been an eye-opening experience to be single in my late 40s, and to discover how invisible I have become.

This invisible woman gets a whole lot more attention than I ever did.

This invisible woman gets a whole lot more attention than I ever did.

My inside reality is completely disconnected from the outside feedback I get. When I look at recent pictures of myself, I think I look more physically beautiful than I ever have, and am comfortable with the erotic, sexual parts of myself that are so integral to who I am. I know myself well, and like the person I’ve grown to be. I have more than a clue about what I have to contribute to the world. I feel like I’m at the peak of my power, and that I will continue to grow wiser, kinder, happier and more content. And yet, when I’m someplace like I was last night, I don’t even merit a second glance. Men rush past me to get to younger, prettier, thinner (and less challenging) women. I’ve stood by while men come up and try to hit on my friends and ignore me completely, or watch them wriggle to get away from having conversations with me because I’m cutting into time when they could be hitting on girls they are interested in. It’s not that I’m attracted to these guys, or trying to hit on them, but if I want to sit alone and drink, I’ll stay home and do it. There’s a reason I always strike up conversations with women when I’m in a new social situation….

Another older friend of mine was telling me about an experience she recently had of being in a bar and being similarly ignored. Only when an alpha male friend hugged her and chatted with her did the other men in the bar change their attitude toward her – all of a sudden she was someone desirable because this man who commanded their respect gave her this seal of approval. I suppose I could go out dressed like a slut, get myself drunk and throw myself at some guy, but that was so 1990 for me.

There is more than a kernel of truth in the adage, “men are judged by what they do, women are judged by how they look.” In keeping with this, society accords women the greatest amount of power when they are under 25 (I’ve known some poised women in their early 20s, but by and large, they are only shadows of who they become when they hit their 40s). When I was that age, I wasn’t valued for my looks at all, so you would think I would be used to it by now. Still, it stings to be told by society that you have no worth past your appearance. I often see women who traded on their looks in their youth, and as they start pushing 60, they are devastated to be losing their source of their power. It makes me glad I have brains, curiosity, creativity and generosity – those things only grow stronger with age.

One of our biggest generations of all – the baby boomers – is aging, and as women live longer than men, there is going to be a massive group of older single women. Already you hear stories about nursing homes where there are ten single women for every man. Perhaps some of these women will find that their sexual orientation is fluid, and they will become partners, romantic companions and lovers with each other. But not all women will; many will internalize society’s homophobia, others like me may find that they are incapable of switching teams and seem to be hard-wired to only desire men (a factor about myself that I find endlessly frustrating and depressing). What becomes of us? Sure, we can enjoy strong, intimate friendships, but what of those of us who still want/need sex, who desire to have an erotic life?