Review: The Erotic Playbook of a Top Earning Sex Worker

tim-ferris-showI’ve prepared something different for you today; a review of an episode of the podcast, the Tim Ferriss Show. I’m a big fan of the show and I listen to it regularly. This is why I managed not to miss the recently released episode, an interview with an exclusive sex worker, Alice Little.

If you’ve ever watched American movies or series like The Deuce, you’re probably aware of the fact that sex work is illegal in the United States and it can get you in trouble. However, in Nevada and more specifically in one part of the state it is legal to provide sex work. The industry is also regulated and sex workers need to be tested and pay taxes on their earnings. The guest of the podcast works on The Moonlite Bunny Ranch as an independent contractor. She didn’t go in too much details but I’m assuming it works like with Virgin Active personal trainers, meaning that both pay a monthly fee for the use of the premises.

Such arrangement of course has its perks. Alice talks about safety on the ranch in terms of personal safety of a sex worker but also of the clients. They know they’re using services of a professional who’s free of STDs and STIs and the service is safe for credit card use as the transaction is named something different than “sex worker services”. The ranch has also a very good reputation, which can help the contractors with finding clients. Alice, however, does not seem to struggle with it. She’s a highly rated and popular sex worker with her own website, where you can learn all about her services. I obviously checked it out and was a bit surprised by the nudity right out there (no, are you 18? questions) but the website is tasteful and Alice looks exactly how I imagined when listening to the podcast.

Miss Little is a strong advocate of legalization of sex work. She believes that sex is a need and not a want and this fact should be recognized officially. In the interview audibly excited Tim Ferriss asks her a lot of questions. It turns out, for instance, that the most popular service is the girlfriend experience. She also speaks about virgins she works with, teaching them not only how to have sex but more importantly how to treat and touch a woman. Another service in high demand are threesomes, which Alice really enjoys as a bisexual individual.

Little also gives very detailed instructions on how to have sex and in particular oral sex better. She tells you about sex toys, explains what’s important during an intimate encounter in terms of touch and technique. Perhaps more importantly she talks about the human connection that’s crucial during intercourse. She stresses that she’s trying to know her clients as people, before she starts knowing them as sexual partners.

Alice seems to be a real professional and is very self-aware. She sounds honestly passionate about her job and has a good sense of humor. The podcast is very light and interesting to listen to. It’s also absolutely not safe for work. I may not agree with all she says (like for instance, how she finds threesomes beneficial for couples) but I certainly have a lot of respect for her after listening to the podcast, as you would have for any professional who’s passionate about their job and has high work ethics. I’d recommend this episode especially to those who think that sex workers are always people somehow forced into the profession. I think it would be fun and interesting for anyone, though. You can find the episode of the podcast here.

Enjoy, Dear Rinser, and don’t forget to let me know your thought about it in the comment section, when you’re done listening to it.

 

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Why Sex Work Should Be Legal

clipartI think sex work should be legal. This post was inspired by a number of things: The Deuce, an interview on Tim Ferris show with a legal sex worker I’ll review for you tomorrow, encountering a representative of Sweat (a South African organization fighting for sex workers rights and well-being) and a loud-mouth lady, whose argument against sex work I’m going to be discuss.

Honestly, I’m not sure why I feel so strongly about sex work being legal but I think it mostly has to do with the society denying how humans truly are. Sex work has always existed and it will always exist. This is because humans have a need for sex that they’re going to meet in this or other way. You can tell teenagers they’re going to go blind from masturbating and they’ll still masturbate. If you tell them that you will just make them feel guilty about their sexual needs which may make their sexual lives more difficult in future but you won’t stop them (and why would you want that anyway?). Honestly, why just not to accept that humans are sexual being and sex is an important ingredient of well-being?

I don’t find sex work appealing on the receiving end. I don’t think that paying someone for sex can make it as rewarding as with someone who just wants to do it with you. I’m not everyone, though and perhaps for some people it’s a perfectly acceptable and fulfilling experience. Perhaps other people because of some issues struggle to find sex partners and that’s the best they can get. What is more, I think we have a misconception of sex workers as being forced to do the profession because of some circumstances. It may be true for many but I’m sure that some of these ladies and gents are truly enjoying their work. I mean, they’re having sex all day! I’m sure there are worse things one can do, like spend 10 hours per day in an office in a meaningless job that makes you question the meaning of life, for instance ūüėČ

Now so that’s it’s clear, I’m talking here not only about decriminalization, which means sex work is a grey zone and which is already present in many countries but about legalization. What I think should happen in any country is a creation of a proper legal framework that would eliminate or at least ¬†significantly minimize the issues associated with sex work. Such problems are: human trafficking, workers unchecked for STDs and STIs who may be engaging in risky sexual behaviors (not using condoms, for instance), safety risks for sex workers in terms of abusive clients, exploitation of children and teenagers below the age of consent, exploitation of sex workers in general and connection of the whole sex industry to the world of organized crime. All of these problems could be at least partially solved if sex work became a regular industry, the representatives of which would pay taxes and had to be tested. Why not to approach this issue responsibly, given that it exists anyway?

I think part of the problem that people have with sex work is that, well, it’s sex. This is already a taboo and something a lot of people don’t want to think about. Many certainly think that the legalization would work as some sort of encouragement. Legal sex work won’t encourage people to cheat or look for sex work professionals for other reasons, though. People who have an interest in such activities will find their way there, anyway. If that wasn’t the reality, all the problems I enumerated above wouldn’t be taking place. The loud-mouth lady I mentioned before said that sex work is a job with no career prospects. If you’re a waitress, she argued you can save money and buy a coffee shop. If you’re a sex worker what will you do? The answer is: earn a lot of money, save and be much more likely to buy a coffee shop than a waitress. I’m not arguing here that you should necessarily pursue a sex worker profession. I don’t think it’s for most people. However, if some people don’t mind providing a service that is in high demand and make a lot of money out of it, I don’t see how it’s anyone’s business what they do with their body? The only interested party could be the government but if they want to get a chuck of someone’s earnings, they have to first provide a legal framework that will protect the workers, just like they do for all other professions.

What’s your opinion on this issue, Dear Rinser? Any experiences you are willing to share? Thoughts? Anything?

Review: The Big Sick

the big sick“The Big Sick” is a love story about a cross-cultural relationship in the modern USA. It took me by surprise as I was expecting more of a “Notting Hill” sugarcoated and occasional chuckle type of story rather than an extremely funny and yet very moving film about family and cultural issues.

Pakistan-born Kumail meets Emily and they quickly, yet somehow reluctantly fall in love. They seem to be a real match: they have a similar sense of humor, way of thinking, they’re supportive towards one another. Unfortunately Kumail comes from a very traditional family. They don’t want him to pursue his interest in comedy and more importantly¬†they want him to enter an arranged marriage with someone from their culture. When Emily contracts a mysterious disease, he’s forced to make a choice about his future… What will he do?

I cannot stress enough how much I liked the movie. It has a very strong drama element in it and I felt deeply moved numerous times but the comedic aspect of it was equally important. I don’t remember ever watching a movie that had such a perfect balance of both. I could really relate to the main character and his struggles. He knows what he wants but feels like he should rather want what his family wants for him. It’s also difficult to think that you owe nothing to your parents, if they moved countries to give you a better future.

The main couple has a very good chemistry on the screen. Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) is cute in a dad kind of way and his acting skills are really impressive. He almost always jokes, even if a situation doesn’t call for it. Emily (Zoe Kazan) is also very convincing in her role of a slightly crazy girl with a great sense of humor. They form a couple you really cheer for when watching the movie. The drama element is so strong, however, that you have no idea what’s going to happen towards the end of the movie.

The film has a lot of un-PC humor about race and culture. Watching it is a very refreshing experience in the world of movies these days which are obsessed with appropriateness. The main actor is also the co-writer of the script and, I have a feeling, a major source of jokes in the film. The story line and comments on culture’s clashing bring to mind Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None”, even if it’s much more comedic and light in nature than “The Big Sick”.

Last but not least, do yourself a favor and don’t read too much about the movie before you go to watch it. The Internet is full of spoilers and particularly with this movie, knowing too many details will not serve you. Try to trust me if you can and just go for it!

Do you think that parents have a say in a choice of their children’s partner and career when the child is financially independent? Is it acceptable for parents to bully and blackmail their children to make they do what they want? Have your say!

 

 

You Don’t Owe Anything To Your Parents

angryIt’s good to be a nice person in life and help others, especially if they’re in need. There’s no point in being disagreeable or mean. However, it’s also important to design your life according to the rules that matter to you. This often means that you have to disappoint your parents in this or other way but that’s okay because you don’t owe anything to them.

The common misconception is that you owe to your parents because they brought you into this world, gave you food and clothes and sometimes even emotional support. That’s all cool and you should be grateful for that. It doesn’t mean, however, that you’re now in debt and have to live your life in order to please them. Your parents made a (somewhat) conscious decision of bringing you to this world because they wanted to have a baby. Some of them just had this feeling that it’s the right thing to do, others wanted to have a mini me in terms of looks, yet another group of parents count on their children achieving what they didn’t and the last group uses them as a surety for the future, just like a savings account in a bank. The thinking of the latter two groups of people is: I’m going to give birth to this thing and it’s going to do what I want it too/help me when I’m old. It’s like as if they were signing¬†a contract in their heads with someone who didn’t agree to the terms of it. Did you ask them to bring you to this world? No? Exactly, this is why a contract signed only by one party doesn’t work.

In life there are no guarantees. You may spend a few years in a relationship, sacrifice yourself for a person and then they meet someone else and they leave you. It seems ungrateful and harsh but that you made a decision to make sacrifices, doesn’t oblige people to give you the same thing back to you. It’s exactly the same thing with parenthood. Sure, it’s nice if you help your parents through thick and thin when you’re an adult but it’s up to you to make such a decision.

Financially help your parents when they get older is one thing and most people would agree that it has more to do with human decency than with owing anything to anyone.¬† Nevertheless, your parents expectations are certainly not something you’re obliged to meet. If something doesn’t cost you anything, you can do it to avoid family frictions. Your mother really likes you to eat your greens? Sure, why not to comply with it. At the same time, when your mother wants you to be a doctor and you don’t want that, you’re not being difficult for not listening. If your parents are religious and you aren’t you don’t have to pretend that you are either. Last but not least, if your parents would like you to make a choice of whom you should marry, it’s also an important issue you should fight for.

Now, I’m not saying it’s easy. As much as theoretically we don’t owe anything to our parents, it doesn’t mean that on the emotional level we don’t think we do. My parents, for instance, always thought they were bringing up a lawyer. I’d even internalize it to the point that for many years I’d tell people that that’s what I was going to do. Then puberty happened and I realized that it’s really not something I want for myself. I fought and fought and eventually my parents understood I made up my mind. Still, neither of the two options I wanted “had a future” according to them and instead of becoming a psychologist or a journalist, I studied languages. It was an acceptable compromise that I wouldn’t have to be making if I could afford to pay my way through studies myself. A part of us relying on our parents is, of course, financial. This is why up to some point in our life, they actually have a say in our decisions. Ideally, they’d love us for who we are and accept our choices just wanting us to be happy and bla bla bla… but mostly they think they know better. Fair enough, if our parents are supporting us, we must obey some of their rules. They’re a bit like an Airbnb hosts till we’re truly adults.

At the point when we become financially independent, however, we can truly make our own decisions. A lot of people shy away from doing so because of a thing called “respect”. Oh, you see, my parents are religious I couldn’t live with my boyfriend before we got married. It’s just a matter of respect. Oh, my parents would never accept me if I decided to date someone outside of our culture etc. Those are just excuses. You shouldn’t respect your parents just because they’re your parents, you should respect them for being human beings and such respect should be mutual. In other words, if your parents are trying to impose on you how to live, it’s not you being disrespectful towards them, if you disobey. It’s them having no respect for you as an individual and understanding that you’re no longer a child they can control. As an adult everyone is entitled to make his or her own decisions. Sometimes such decisions are contrary to our parents preferences.

I’m not just theorizing here. I did disobey my mom in a rather serious way once (my father didn’t even know). I fell in love and pursued a relationship with a Muslim. My mom’s grievance was mostly on the grounds of racism, telling me things I wish I never heard from anyone. The relationship lasted for over two years and during this time I my mother would constantly go on rants. When I say constantly, I mean daily. Shouting, offending me and my former partner, emotionally blackmailing me, intimidating me and using all sorts of disgusting techniques to make me break up with him. Eventually, I fell out of love and I ended the relation. I kept quiet about it for a month because it did feel like the unconditional love your parents are supposed to have for you, wasn’t really a thing. After all the fits, when I told my mother about the break-up, she just said “Great, you’ve finally came to your senses”, smiled and never spoke about it again unless I brought it up. My mother, of course, was proud as she “won”. In her head I understood that she was right all along. The problem was that she was wrong. I made my own decision about the break up because of a shift in feelings and it had nothing to do with her shouting and screaming. Without it, the relationship would have ended too but my mom and I would have had a chance at a relationship like adults do. We don’t have it now and we never will because since then, as much as I love her, I do not treat her as a source of support or advice. I tell her what I think she’ll be fine with hearing and otherwise I just have a thousand layers of a secret life she’ll never get access to. Even if our decisions turn out to be objectively wrong, we have the right to make them and no parent should try to take it away from us. They have their own lives to live.

Parents can react to what we do in outrageous ways and perhaps even cut us off for the time being but they usually come around. Sometimes they’re just broken people and their my way or no way attitude is so strong, they’d rather lose a child than be disobeyed. This is their cross to bear and you can never satisfy such parents, anyway. This is why rather to try to pleas them, we should focus on pleasing ourselves. It is difficult to come around ourselves, if we decide not to pursue a relationship with someone we love, abandon a passion or in another significant way, decide not to do something that’s important to us. Parents may hink that they know better but with things like profession, marriage, having or not having children, they don’t. We may not know what we want exactly but we usually know what we don’t want. We don’t owe anything to our parents as financially independent adults. We may tell ourselves we do and decide to please them but we should never compromise on important things.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my longish post, Dear Rinser. It was inspired by a movie “The Big Sick” which I will review for you tomorrow. What do you think about the issue? Have you ever disobeyed your parents? Were your parents respectful of your life choices?

 

The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama

The_Art_of_HappinessThe Dalai Lama and his teachings may be far away from what you’d consider typical life and self-help advice in general but “The Art of Happiness” has been co-written with a psychiatrist Howard Cutler to suit the Western audience better. It may not be the most engaging read ever but it has a number of good tips on how to live well.

The Dalai Lama’s book will tell you one of the most important truths that so many people want to escape and/or ignore: life is suffering. It’s not suffering all the time but you must accept that suffer you will, seems to be a Master Yoda reading of the book. People can entirely escape suffering only by enlightenment, which comes from years and years of earthly pleasure deprivation and meditation. The Dalai Lama isn’t there yet so let’s agree that it may not be the way to go for all of us, regular mortals. However, with meditation and acceptance of feelings that comes with it, we can all learn to live more in the present moment and less in our heads. Meditation practice doesn’t make the pain of every day existence disappear but it helps us alleviate it. There’s plenty of modern research showing benefits of meditation. I’m a regular meditator myself and I can tell you that it has done wonders to my anxiety, stress levels and much more.

Apart from the meditation practice, the Dalai Lama encourages us to seek happiness and not pleasure in life. What we need is contentment and serenity, while pleasure brings us only short-term highs and lows. Happiness, on the other hand, is long-term. Think about the difference in this way: this slab of chocolate may make you feel better when you’re eating it and when the sugar rush hits you but soon you’ll feel low because of eating it. It’s an indulgence, it’s not particularly healthy and it doesn’t give you much nutrition. Eating healthy is, of course, better for your long-term well-being. We make similar choices between pleasure and happiness all the time in life. Do I want to have a one night stand? Do I want to get completely wasted? Impulsive choices may serve us as temporarily pain killers and distractions but pursuing them actually makes us less not more happy long-term. You want to be happy? Then choose happiness above pleasure in life as often as you can. And yeah, no one said it’ll be easy.

The love and dating advice from the Dalai Lama also goes with the pleasure vs happiness principle. If you get hooked on the drama in the relationship or just the sex, it’s not a good relationship. You should look for wholesome relationships that give you stability and at the same time you shouldn’t depend on your partner entirely. You may wonder what someone who has never had sex or a partner may know about these things but if you think about it, these are the same rules he preaches otherwise. Besides, you would agree his tips are apt, even if they completely dismiss how difficult it may be to find the wholesome relationship, right?

The Dalai Lama teaches us also how to connect to human beings in general. I think a lot of us may feel disconnected and somewhat lonely in this world. We look for people who are almost exactly like us and get upset when others don’t meet our expectations. The Dalai Lama has a solution to that! Instead of getting hanged up on the differences between you and other people, like for instance that you’re Team God and someone isn’t or the other way round, you can try to relate to them on a basic, interconnecting level. We’re all humans, we all want to avoid suffering and find happiness. By applying such thinking it’s easier to grow compassion and empathy towards others and therefore feel more connected.

The Dalai Lama discusses some meditations techniques and some Buddhist teachings in the book but doesn’t go into too much detail. Where his advice may seem unclear, Cutler uses Western examples to make it more understandable for a typical reader. All in all, it’s a good but somewhat unsubstantial read. It will make you maybe ponder on some issues and introduce some better life habits but I think “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” is doing a better job at selling unpopular yet crucial views to the modern audience. The Dalai Lama’s book will probably only be picked up by those who’ve been doing some soul searching for a while and to those people it’ll look very superficial and basic.

Are you actively searching for happiness, Dear Rinser? Any meditators hear? How do you try yourself to lead a happy life?

A Few Words on Giving Up on Love

giving_up_on_loveI’m sure you have encountered these people in life who have told you that they’ve given up on love. Some of them say they’re happy that way (often somewhat aggressively), others don’t think like trying anymore as it never worked out for them so what’s the point. To me the point is that we only have one life and we should try to make the best of it.

I don’t think that being single is a bad thing. Even prolonged singledom can teach you great things about yourself and you have to be able to be comfortable on your own to be capable of entering a healthy (=not clingy) relationship with another human being. I don’t think a relationship should be a goal, but a happy one should. Humans are social beings, we’re happy when we feel connected and we’re happier in a stable relationship than on our own. The people who decide to throw it out of the window just because it’s difficult are deciding to get rid of a very important part of their life. Sure, you can survive without a partner. In the same way you can survive without friends, job satisfaction, a family and all other things that make the life actually worth living. The question is: why would you?

I know that an unsuccessful search for a partner can be disheartening. The reason why a lot of us struggle is because we had these or other family issues. Maybe our household was in some way dysfunctional in the sense that it was missing out on love. Serial killers happen because their mothers treat them like shit, just watch “Mindhunter” to learn more about it. Listening to how emotionally abused one of the characters was by his mother and how he thought it was logical for him to kill her because of it, made me wonder why I myself have not become a serial killer. The point is, a lot of us are brought up by narcissists and mean people who make us feel worthless. That they don’t know any better doesn’t change the fact that it’s sad and horrible to start your life with emotional deficits. Have your moment now and curse the heavens for that, if that’s the case for you! Now, keep reading. The point is, this is a problem of so many people that you’re not unique. Most of us don’t become serial killers and have a chance at a happy relationship if we work on ourselves.

You must realize that the world isn’t conspiring against you. If you keep being attracted to the same kind of a person that ends up giving you a heartache, your choice of partners is a problem. Recognize the pattern, make a list of no nos, break the pattern. It sounds easy but it’s not at all. I remember meeting all these guys I was attracted to during my sex drought and telling myself not to go for them because it won’t lead anywhere good. It’s tough! When you do that there’s also seemingly no guarantees that it’ll pay off one day. All you can do is try! If you don’t break the pattern yourself, you’ll just keep doing the same thing over and over again. You’re the problem, you’re the one who chooses the wrong people, you have to force yourself to make better choices because you deserve better than more drama in your life.

One of the things that makes it difficult for people with unhealthy choice of partners to follow this piece of advice are romantic ideals that mainstream TV and movies ¬†impose on us. In the movie, it’s often difficult at first but such difficulty serves a bigger purpose (=getting the loved one). In real life a bad start rarely leads to a good relationship. Once you make the right choice things should go smoothly. However, if you keep doing the same thing you’ve done all along it gives you the impression of being “easy” because you do something you know. You still feel somewhere deep in your heart it’s not right but it’s “easy” to follow the pattern or at least, much easier short term than to break it.

People get upset that others had better family backgrounds or that they find relationships easy for other reasons such as better looks. They get upset because they tried and things didn’t work out, so now they have the right to stop trying. Of course, everyone has the right to do so but don’t do it just because it’s difficult to change yourself. I need do be a bit crude hear but who the f*ck told you anything in life was going to be easy? Meaningful things in life often require effort. Do you want a happy relationship? A satisfying job? A bucket of money? Most good things for most people mean hard work in this respect or another. You can get hung up on the fact that the British royal family has money and they don’t work but how exactly is that going to help you in your own life? Life isn’t fair. It’s a fact. Think about all the kids with cancer, who will die before they even get a chance to find love. Don’t you think you’re better off? [Also, if that’s your attitude, I suggest you read “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson (no, he’s not dead, Richard Manson died, the serial killer, who perhaps just like you had mean parents).]

I find the giving up on love (or anything else) attitude childish. Not that I don’t have the moments of weakness and upset myself when, for instance, I need to work weekends now as I’ve started to work for myself. You can allow yourself to grieve, be angry and scream about the lack of success in an area. Then continue with your efforts. This is the only think you can logically do. Remember that if you give up on love apart from missing out on all great sex and other amazing moments of intimacy and connection, you can end up eaten by your cats when you die. The latter can also happen to you if you end up married but life is a lot about trying to improve your chances.

Perhaps the throwing the toys out of the cot attitude has to do with entitlement. People I know are usually comfortable in life in general: they have food, they have work, they have a roof above their head and they even have enough money for entertainment. This is already more than most of the world has. Material wealth aside, people in the so called Western world also have other freedoms like choosing your partner as a female or the fact that no one tells you it’s okay when your partner beats you up black and blue. They also have other choices they can make, such as the choice to work on one’s self (for instance, I’m sure it’s much more difficult to focus on the quest for love when you’re an uneducated teenage girl who’s married to an old man and a mother of three)¬†or even to pay for professional help if they need help with working on themselves. They have all that but instead of finding opportunities, they choose to get upset with life because it’s somehow difficult in that they can’t find what they’re looking for fast enough. Consequently, they try for a bit, often still behaving against their better judgment in exactly the same way that didn’t bring them any positive results and then get upset it’s not working out. Then they’re like: Here, look, I’ve tried!

Last but not least, stop complaining and sort your shit out. There’s someone out there for you who’ll have to get married to their second best if you don’t show up in their life.

Do you know people who have given up on love (and often) sex? Do you think it’s a viable option? How do you think we can help such people get out of their cocoon? Should we even try?

 

Review: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

the_subtle_art_of_not_giving_a_fuckI occasionally read Mark Manson’s blog. He’s a rather smart guy with good, counter-intuitive and certainly not mainstream advice about how to live. Among others, he preaches certain pragmatism in dating which of course makes me his fan. This is why when I saw his book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck” in a bookstore, I decided to give it a go.

Just like Buddha and other Buddhist folk, Mark tells us that suffering is a natural part of life. The problem with the modern society is that it doesn’t want to accept it as a fact. We try to find various ways of relieving the pain of life or entirely get rid of it, which just doesn’t make sense. The mainstream media promotes a happy clappy reality, which just isn’t, well, realistic. We’ll all suffer in this or other way and we should embrace it, says Manson. In his mind it means choosing the things we give a f*ck about. You know how people get bent out of shape every time something doesn’t go exactly like they expected it to? This is giving a f*ck about something they shouldn’t. Some things are beyond our control and there’s no point in excessive anger. There are other things, however, which are important and which are worth fighting for. In other words, we will suffer but we can choose what’s worth suffering for.

Of course, Mark tells the reader much more in his book and explains his ideas in more detail but the above summary should give you an idea about the tone. I like Manson’s no bullshit approach to life. Oh, boo hoo, it’s difficult to have the courage to change your job? Well, life is difficult. Is it important enough for you to try? Manson also analyses why humans act against their best interest and uses good examples to explain why things are the way we are. The book is a good read and certainly an eye opener particularly for those people who never encountered Buddhist teachings. However, it’s not free of flaws.

First of all, Mark gives you nothing in return for changing your life views. He pours a bucket of cold water on your head and then he leaves you out there, in the cold in, with no clothes on. Buddhism after doing the same gives you meditation as a way to improve your life. Therapy gives you tools to deal with new information such as practical exercises aimed at changing your habits. Hell, even other self-help books give you practical advice on what to do. Manson doesn’t and he claims he doesn’t have to, which is surprising for someone who claims to well know the human nature. Another weakness of the book is that even I, as an irregular reader of his blog, have recognized big chunks of the text as being copy pasted from his online work. This isn’t cool particularly for his faithful readers. There are different ways to say the same things and this device is just lazy. Last but not least, he digresses quite a bit and the book could have been structured in a better way.

Having said that, I still think that Manson is brilliant. He’s the only widely read person I know, who stands up to the harmful beliefs that the main culture is ingraining in us. He’s a free thinker and I have a lot of respect for him. I recommend this book to everyone, particularly to those who are comfortable with their illusions about how life should be nice and fluffy.

Do you read Manson’s blog, Dear Reader? What blog do you read (apart from this one, of course)? Can you recommend any books that opened your eyes? I’m looking forward to reading your comments.

The Things We Stop Talking About When We Grow Up

little_girlsDo you remember how you used to tell everything to your BFF when you were little? She knew all your secrets and you knew everything about her. Even when you were a teenager there were those girlfriends you told about how disappointing your first sexual encounters were. Then something happens around the time we get into a committed relationship and some things we used to talk openly about become taboos. What are those things, why does it happen and is it necessarily a negative process?

First of all, money becomes a thing. Sure, there are some people who were born with a silver spoon in their mouth but most of us lack money to some extent. As kids we dream about buying more bubble gum and sweets than our pocket money (and reason) allows us too. As teenagers we moan about not being able to buy cigarettes and booze. As students we never have enough money to experience everything we would like to and as young professionals we usually stand on our two feet for the first time and we learn that EVERYTHING costs money and more than we would like. As we have a common ground of complaining with our peers, there’s no shame in telling someone that we’re broke and we can’t do this or that. We also openly complain about how little we earn and we know exactly how much that “little” means for our friends.

As we grow in experience and our salaries get bigger, however, the money taboo appears. Somehow, it’s not okay anymore to ask your friend how much they earn and even if you do they may get cagey about the question. Sometimes some vague estimates are given publicly and you can see the other members of the party having fumes coming out of their ears, trying to count exactly how much does that mean and whether it’s more or less than themselves. Perhaps with age we become more competitive, jealous and full of ourselves? Who knows. The fact is that apart from my husband only my sister-in-law knows how much I earn and that’s because she has no boundaries. I honestly feel quite comfortable not knowing what people earn, as I know it’d eat me up to know that someone less educated and more importantly lazier than me earns more than I do.

Another thing that’s affected by the lost of sincerity is a sex life. I used to have girlfriends with whom I would share everything. We knew with whom, when and how many times. Especially those who didn’t have long-term boyfriends were open about their sexplorations. Even the more settled ones, however, would often tell me more than I wanted to know, which made it difficult for me to look at their partner in the same way. Generally, the rule seems to be: the more serious and committed the relationship, the less you will hear people commenting on their sexual lives. It makes sense then, why in our youth we are more sexually verbal. When we get older and we have more respectful relationships we naturally tend to keep certain things between ourselves and our partner.

As little as we talk about sex when we settle down, there is an exception to this rule, namely procreative sex. Especially when you’re married, everyone and their dog feels entitled to ask you whether you’re trying for a baby yet (=are you fucking without using contraception) and about your plans in this respect (=when are you planning to fuck without using contraception). People will share their news about being pregnant over a meal (gross guys, I’m eating and I don’t want to be thinking about you two fornicating!) and even tell you about their trouble with conceiving (I AM LITERALLY PUKING IN MY MOUTH HERE). The reason for that is that society (Team God, in particular) has been trying to separate the two issues of procreation and sex as if they were entirely unrelated. “You wouldn’t like your child to know you had too much fun making you, now, would you?” they seem to say. Well, I don’t know. Personally I hope my mom had a multiple orgasm in the process.

With age it becomes also more and more difficult to share both happiness and unhappiness with people. I have written about the latter here so I won’t repeat myself and focus in this post on the difficulty with sharing happiness. Perhaps this particular taboo has to do with similar reasons as the money one. The truth is, even if we like our friends we don’t like to see them more successful than we are. If ,on other hand, we are the successful ones we don’t want to rub our “better-offness” in. People both feel uncomfortable sharing their happiness (=showing off) as being on the receiving end of such behavior (=feeling inferior).

As kids we don’t really judge ourselves according to a strong superiority/inferiority metric. Perhaps, a kid gets mocked sometimes because it wears a cap on their head in – 20 degrees winter (true reason of mockery in cold countries – cool kids are always cold) but it takes a while before we develop our insecurity to the point that it really bothers us. Hell, I remember being proud that I had friends who were smarter/prettier/more fashionable or cooler in any other way than I was. Look at adults, though. Have you ever noticed what happens if one of your friends at work becomes a manager? All of a sudden, people stop being friendly with him or her (especially her!) and start gossiping about how they’re full of themselves or whatever else bullshit is being said about them. In reality their promotion is no mystery because they did just work so much harder than everyone else.¬† And yet, people prefer to label them as lucky because if the new manager is better at their job than they themselves are than they are worse. And that bloody hurts. Let me hold my horses, here, though. Our lovely #englishrosiee has written already about the difference between being lazy AF and unlucky in the context of love.

I do believe that we have the right to be happy about being happy and we shouldn’t stop ourselves in most cases. A good example of when we should stop ourselves is, for instance, when someone’s cat died. This is really not a good moment to tell them how happy you are about your new puppy or even a raise. Otherwise, we should grow our appreciation and gratitude for life rather than the skills of moaning and complaining.

To sum up, as we grow up we stop talking about certain things with our friends and basically anyone who isn’t our partner. Part of this tendency, is jealousy and insecurity and a part of it is just closeness to our partners. As much as our friends may do without the details of our marital coitus we should try being more open with them and allow the relationships to grow. Perhaps, learning that a friend earns much more than we do, will initially make us feel bad but then may inspire us to take some steps towards a career change.

Hello, Dear Rinsers! Do you talk about money with your friends? You sex life? Do you agree that the things we talk about with our friends change as we grow up or am I being a lunatic?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Deuce: Sex, Sex, Sex and James Franco

the deuceI haven’t seen such a sexed up series in a while. Game of Thrones or Spartacus are truly romance stories for teenage girls by comparison! In this review you’ll learn what #zlotybaby thinks about this series about prostitution and porn in New York of the fabulous 70s.

The first season of the series focuses on quite a number of main(ish) characters. Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a disillusioned prostitute who refuses to be pimped and aspires to direct sexy movies. Abby (Margarita Levieva) comes from a rich family but doesn’t feel like she belongs to the overly proper world so she tries to make ends meet as a bartender. There’s also James Franco in a double role of twins, Vincent and Frankie Martino. The former is the more level-headed business owner, the latter your typical trouble maker. The series also follows a number of secondary characters: the main pimps played by Gbenga Akinnagbe and Gary Carr and their protegees, Darlene (Dominique Fishback), Lori (Emily Maede) and Ruby (Pernell Walker). Let’s not forget about a nosy and beautiful journalist Sandra (Natalie Paul) who wants to write an article about it all with the help of a slightly corrupted police officer (Lawrence Gilliard Jr).

The big number of characters may be initially confusing but they’re all quite memorable. The cast is very well chosen and it also facilitates remembering who is who. There are some weak points in the choice of actors, though. Abby, a 20 year old girl, is played by a woman quite close to her 40s and it hinders the character’s credibility (and yes, I’d also be protesting if it was the case of a male character). Another weird choice was James Franco x 2. The characters of the twins are not different enough (or perhaps it’s Franco’s acting fault?) and I often felt confused about which one is which. I get that many women could watch Franco in all the roles but alternative movies like “Being John Malkovich” or “Adaptation” are a better fit for such questionable cast choices. Having said that, I was really impressed by great costumes, make-up and acting in the TV show in general and in particular on the side of the pimps and the prostitutes. You almost could forget that this isn’t what they do in their every day life!

Partially thanks to the actors, it’s very easy to get into the world presented on the screen. You feel for the girls and just like them you have a hate and love relationship with their pimps. Sex in this series is just a commodity that can be bought and in general is rather deprived of romanticism. What do you want? The world of prostitution and porn is cruel. The women are abused not only by their pimps who are supposed to be protecting them but also by their clients. The business is dangerous and it doesn’t pay that well after “your man” takes his cut. The idea that it’s easy money seems to be far from the truth.

The sad, depressing world of “The Deuce” is in some twisted way entertaining. I compulsively wanted to learn more about the characters, even if a lot of the time I wasn’t expecting anything good happening to them (GOT fans surely get it). There are no easy fixes in the depicted world. How to escape the business? Especially if there’s a video out there on which you’re having sex? Even if it’s possible, can you forget about all the penises you had to suck? I’ve never worked as a prostitute but as a teenager I made money sex texting in my first post matric job. I felt dirty for a long long time after I quit. I was also very doubtful about the nature of men in general for years to come. Of course, they’re not all the same but when you’re constantly exposed to one kind it does become your perception of the whole. Still, I’m quite interested to see what the future holds for the women of the night in this series.

“The Deuce”¬† is a bitter-sweet tale that shows us a world which doesn’t exist anymore. And yet, 50 years later just like 200 hundred years earlier, both prostitution and porn prosper. Perhaps it’s time to get off our high horse and recognise that interest in sex, including paid sex in reality and on the screen is a part of the human nature? Legalisation would bring safety to men and women involved in the industry but also to their clients. Brutal assaults, killings, spreading of STDs – all these issues could be avoided if only more governments had the balls to address the situation.

Last but not least, “The Deuce” really has a good soundtrack mostly suited for the presented period (I wouldn’t know any better but my husband did occasionally voice his doubts about the music truly being from the 70s). I really recommend this series to anyone who likes a TV show that takes them to a completely different place. I also can promise you that if you look at the problems of people on the screen, you will almost immediately feel so much better about your own.

What’s your opinion about legalisation of prostitution and pornography, Dear Reader? Any secrets to share? Have you already watched the series?

 

 

Review: The Vegetarian by Han Kang

The_vegetarian_-_han_kangPerhaps the literary awards are political and biased but I’m a bit of a sucker and I always try to read the books and authors awarded with a Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize or anything else which has the name Prize in it, even if it’s awarded by the Kansas Board of Paper Manufacturers. This is how I ended up reading “The Vegetarian”, the winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize.

The book is divided in three parts which focus on different characters. The first one tells a story of the main trouble maker and the plot catalyst, Yeong-hye. She is a Korean stay-at-home wife, who one day decides to become a vegetarian due to disturbing dreams. The otherwise obedient wife and daughter is extremely stubborn in her new eating regime. Her surrounding will not accept her trying to redefine herself and find her true self (whatever it may turn out to be)…

The Han Kang’s novel is a great read. The author has created a compelling cross-genre narrative with elements of Grimms’ fairy tales, a dark poem and a manifesto of non-compliance. Yeong-hye, just like Bartleby from Melville’s short story, would prefer not do some things. What starts with a refusal to eat meat expands to other areas of her life. Is her stubbornness a sign of her finding a voice of her own or pure madness? And if it’s the latter does an individual have the right to explore it? Who is to decide what’s normal and what isn’t? And aren’t we all crazy by leading the lives we don’t really want, according to rules which aren’t our own? You may find answers to these questions in the novel…or not. It all depends on how you’re going to interpret it. If you’re keen on exploring such ambiguities I’d also recommend an excellent novella by Henry James “The Turn of the Screw”.

“The Vegetarian” will certainly make you think and this is what, in my opinion, literature should do. It also gives you a glimpse into a Korean society which is presented in the novel as highly patriarchal. This is why the novel isn’t just a story of non-conformism but has a clearly feminist flavor to it. If you’re wondering where’s the difference coming from I’ll reply with a quote from “We Should All Be Feminists” by Chimamands Ngozi Adichie: “Some people ask: “Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general – but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women. That the problem was not about being human, but specifically about being a female human.”¬†This novel isn’t just about the right of an individual to decide about himself or herself. If the protagonist was a man, his “eccentricity” would have probably been accepted and maybe only gossiped about behind his back. A disobedient woman, however, has to be put in her place.

If you end up reading the novel and thinking it’s…ummm… different just bear in mind that the Korean compatriots of the author also thought that it was weird. It takes some getting used to but the read is really worth it.¬†It’s a literary feast and food for thought at the same time. “The Vegetarian” is a short read but it doesn’t mean it’s light. I will certainly read more by the author in Deborah Smith’s translation (the female translator has received the Man Booker International prize jointly with the author, in recognition of her efforts to preserve the original qualities of the novel).

Have you read the book, Dear Rinser? If yes, what did you think about it? Any favorite stories of non-compliance or more specifically female non-compliance, you’re willing to share?