Been There, Done That

Mr. A and Ms. B have been married twenty years; when they wed she was a virgin, while he had had intercourse a few times with someone else. Their wedding night was an unconsummated mess, resulting in tears and confusion. Several days later, on their honeymoon, they tried again—“and we failed again,” Mr. A recalled. Her vagina didn’t get wet enough, he couldn’t get his penis in, and eventually he lost his erection. They each took turns blaming themselves; the next morning they took turns blaming each other. For years, sex was an infrequent, discouraging hassle. Now they can’t remember the last time they did it.

Without the wedding night and the honeymoon part, of course. Some people are just not suited sexually, whether they are virgins or have decades of intense sexual experience. The best thing for them is just to stop massaging themselves into a relationship they are simply not meant to maintain. I didn’t realize that soon enough, so the wedding night and the honeymoon happened years after the “Mr. A and Ms. B experience.”

Of course, the linked post that started out well just had to end badly. Just like every sex advice post I have ever read:

If it took God a week to create the world out of nothing, couples need at least that much time to create a sexual connection out of nothing.

I don’t know about God but sexual connections kind of create themselves without any effort on people’s part. You can’t create desire if it isn’t there.

The quoted blogger ends the post with the following inanity:

I feel bad for Mr. A and Ms. B, who didn’t do anything wrong.

As former Ms. B, I have to object. Of course, these people did plenty wrong. They married somebody they did not desire and spent 20 years punishing themselves and their partner for not desiring each other. They sold their sexuality for the price of fulfilling a social mandate and probably produced a bunch of miserable, sexually unfulfilled children in the process. And if you read the post carefully, you will discover that the female part of this tragic sexual equation is still trying to force the unhappy, sex-deprived husband back into the misery of sexless monogamy.

Interest in Politics

Students in my afternoon section told me they never heard the words “welfare state” and “austerity measures.” I asked them in English to make sure and they just batted their eye-lashes and looked confused. Nobody knew about the protests in Spain and Italy and nobody had any idea about what is happening in Greece.

“Don’t you follow the news?” I asked in exasperation.

“No,” the students drawled, looking very bored.

“Why???”  I asked.

“We don’t watch television,” one student explained.

I don’t watch television either but that doesn’t prevent me from following the news.

Internet generation, my ass.

Why Are Women’s Halloween Costumes More Sexy Than Men’s?

I’m so overwhelmed with work obligations right now that I even forgot that today was Halloween. When I started scrolling down my neglected blogroll, however, I was reminded of the date by the proliferation of posts that try to answer the question of why there so many sexy women’s costumes for Halloween and so few sexy costumes for men.

The usual answer of “because women are sexualized by society” makes no sense to me. This is a very Puritanical, prissy society we live in where people tend to have very unhealthy attitudes towards any exhibition of healthy human sexuality. Remember folks having heart attacks when Sandra Fluke mentioned the word “contraception” in public?

This Puritanical uptightness is precisely the reason why female Halloween costumes tend to be on the sexy side and men’s don’t. Halloween is a carnival, and a carnival always has the following meaning:

Bakhtin’s theory of carnival, manifest in his discussions of Rabelais and “forbidden laughter” in medieval folk culture, argued that folk celebrations which allowed for rowdy humor and the parody of authority offered the oppressed lower classes relief from the rigidity of the feudal system and the church and an opportunity for expressing nonconformist, even rebellious views.

Halloween offers women a rare opportunity to exhibit their sexuality freely. At a carnival, the popular imagination identifies an issue – in this case, an inequality in terms of sexual freedom between men and women – and brings it into the open at least one day a year. This is definitely a very positive phenomenon because it offers evidence that the problem is identified and recognized.

Women who wear all of these sexy costumes at Halloween are agents of important social change. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with donning different kinds of costumes, of course. At a carnival, one should play out the issue that bothers one the most. If sexual freedom is not an issue for you personally, then you won’t be tempted to enact it, and good for you. But judging people for addressing this inequality in a playful way is neither productive nor fair.

Political Systems

In class, we are talking about Spain’s political parties.

“I don’t get this,” a student exclaims. “Why are you saying that Partido Popular is a conservative party located to the right of the political spectrum if it supports all these social programs?”

So I had to explain that political Left and Right have different meaning in different countries and that President Obama is located to the right of Spain’s major conservative party.

Then I told the students that the other major political party in Spain is the Socialist Party.

“What is Socialism?” I asked.

“It’s like what Obama is!” several students responded in unison.

So I had to explain that Spanish Socialism has nothing whatsoever to do with Obama.

Then I moved to the Communist Party of Spain.

“What is Communism?” I asked.

There was a pause and then one student suggested in a small voice, “It’s like what Obama is?”

I think now everybody is completely confused.

Since People Keep Asking: Lena Dunham’s Pro-Obama Ad

Reader el asks me how I feel about this notorious pro-Obama ad:

I hate this ad and find it to be not only tasteless but also offensive to me as a woman. Can a young woman do nothing, not even vote, without some sexual meaning being attached to her actions?

Anybody who has been reading this blog for any period of time knows that I’m no prude and that I don’t overuse words like “objectification” and “sexualization.” But if there ever were an instance of a young woman being objectified gratuitously, needlessly, and ridiculously to make some completely idiotic point, this is it.

Of course, I don’t see a single “feminist” website criticizing this ad. When a lingerie commercial shows half-naked women, that gets criticized as sexualizing because God forbid anybody should connect the idea of lingerie and sex. But when there is an ad protagonized by a woman who pretends to be a total air-head and argues that she only votes because of something vaguely sexual, no feminist condemnation is forthcoming.

It also annoys me that the ad uses a mix of extremely conservative cliches about female sexuality to promote a supposedly progressive message.

I don’t know what the point of the ad was. That women only vote for Obama because he is cute? That young women are stupid and can only blabber incoherently about nothing whatsoever? That young women are “hormonally driven” in all of their decisions? That Obama only appeals to those who are not extremely brilliant?

P.S. Yes, yes, I know this shit is supposed to be funny. If this clip entertains you, you probably really enjoy Hollywood comedies as well. I don’t, so forgive me for gagging instead of laughing. Feel free to go watch some American Pie to calm yourself down.

Not My Type of Lit Crit

Courtesy of The Sister:


I have to work very hard to convince students that this has nothing to do with literary criticism. This is just a parody of my profession they learn in high school.

I always warn my students from the outset that if anybody tries to tell me what the author meant, that person will become my sworn enemy.

Classics Club #7: C. P. Snow’s The Affair

C. P. Snow’s novel The Masters changed my life 14 years 3 months and 26 days ago.

I read this book while I was emigrating from Ukraine to Canada. It was a long journey. First I had to take a train from Kharkov to Kiev, then fly from Kiev to Shannon, Ireland, then take the connecting flight to Toronto, and finally travel in a car from Toronto to Montreal. On the way, I had time to read the novel twice. As a result of that reading, the purpose of my emigration changed significantly.

When I embarked on the journey, my goal was to become a literary translator from Spanish. As I read The Masters, however, I discovered the fascinating and complex world of academia. Mind you, the novel is in no way a paean to the academic world. The Cambridge dons C. P. Snow describes in the book are petty, mean, flawed, and quite unlikable.

Still, the novel showed me a completely different world. I had no idea anything of the kind even existed. And since the entire reason for my emigration was to move to a different universe, I decided that it would make a lot more sense to explore this unknown world of academia than to make a much less significant change from being a technical translator to translating literary texts.

Since then, I never read anything by C. P. Snow. The experience of reading The Masters had such a profound importance for me that I didn’t want to tarnish it by a later encounter with the author.

Now, however, I decided to read Snow’s novel The Affair that belongs to the same series titled Strangers and Brothers.

Continue reading “Classics Club #7: C. P. Snow’s The Affair”

Women and Cockroaches

You know why there is no war on women in their minds? Because there are no women. Women don’t exist as actual human beings. If somebody tried to make the war on cockroaches or the war on dust mites into a centerpiece of a political campaign, I would also be quite annoyed. “Come on,” I’d say. “Don’t we have more important issues at stake than the reproductive rights of cockroaches?” And I’d feel completely justified in my opinions, too.

The reason why I care about abortion rights is not because I want to get an abortion. I never have and I don’t want to start now. It’s because I don’t think I’m a cockroach. I have this annoying tendency to see myself as a valid human being. How totally silly of me, right?

What Offends You, the War on Women or That It’s Being Discussed?

Will stated on ABC’s This Week that “professional women with college degrees” resent the “condescension of the Obama campaign, which says” to women: “don’t you trouble your pretty little heads about these men’s issues like unemployment and all the rest, worry about contraception, which has been a constitutional right for 47 years.” Will continued: “It’s a distraction. The entire war on women trope, and I think professional, educated women find it offensive.”

What this professional educated woman finds offensive is the existence of stupid creatures like this Will fellow who dare to open their idiotic mouths to take her name in vain.

Go stick your opinions about what women want up your ugly ass, Will. “Unemployment and all the rest” of economic issues for women, you stupid, stupid idiot, begin precisely when women cannot control their own reproductive systems.

Fucking idiot.


I’ve been so busy that words fail me when I try to describe everything I’ve been doing these days. This is why I’m kind of out the loop about this hurricane that is supposing to be on its way. But now that people I haven’t talked to in years are calling to ask if I’m all right, I have started to worry.

Does anybody know if the St. Louis area is in the path of the hurricane? Could you look it up for me, please? Should I be worried?

Stay safe, folks!