Showing posts with label girls. Show all posts
Showing posts with label girls. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Rules Of Engagement: Sex And Dating In The 21st Century - Part 2

Continuing on from part 1, I've argued that there is a gray area when it comes to the rape/non-rape and harassment/non-harassment divide because, among other things, the definition of consent is not agreed upon. And there's a series of new problems on our hands given the seemingly new rules surrounding appropriate communication we all must abide by: Women don't want to be harassed. Men don't want to be rejected. But neither do women want men to not ever pursue them, and neither do men want to be harassers (well most of them at least). In light of the recent allegations against Aziz Ansari, this is now more needed than ever.

So, I've decided to write my suggestions on the new rules of engagement: a 21st century conversation on sex, dating, and consent. This is one of the things we absolutely need analytical philosophy for. Sex and dating should be no exception.

I've broken this down into several areas covering day-to-day situations, bars and nightclubs, dating, and sex.

Let's start with day-to-day situations first. I'm defining a day-to-day situation as situations where you're in public, in a restaurant, on the street, on a subway or bus, in a common area in a college, or any place open to the general public, like the kind we frequent on a day to day basis.

A question arises: Is it OK to approach someone in a flirtatious manner or comment on their sexual attractiveness in these day-to-day situations? Consider these scenarios:

  • A guy catcalls a woman passing by on the street by telling her she looks really beautiful and that he would love to get her number. 
  • A guy tells women passing by on a busy street that he thinks they're beautiful. 
  • A guy politely strikes up a conversation with a woman next to him in a bookstore or cafe to talk about a non-controversial subject in a manner that is a bit flirtatious. 

I'm using a guy in all my examples because I want to focus on the main area of controversy, which is in the way men approach and behave with women. There is a kind of woman who would consider all of these situations harassment and a kind of woman who wouldn't. And some women may consider it harassment only at certain times, with certain men. Given that at least some women would find it to be harassment, should men behave according to the feelings of those kinds of women and refrain from such behavior with all women?

Friday, November 10, 2017

Toxic Masculinity From A Man's Perspective — Let's Go There

Author's note: I've been wanting to write more about social issues and sexuality for a while now. And since I just wrote a long follow up to why I'm an atheist, I thought I'd give atheism a rest for a little but. So I'm going to be focused on non-atheism and non-religious topics for a bit.

Just about a year ago I became aware of the term "toxic masculinity." While I had not been familiar with the term, I was aware of the concept. It's something I've been dealing with basically all my life. So what is it?

According to Wikipedia,

The concept of toxic masculinity is used in the social sciences to describe traditional norms of behavior among men in contemporary American and European society that are associated with detrimental social and psychological effects. Such "toxic" masculine norms include dominance, devaluation of women, extreme self-reliance, and the suppression of emotions.

According to Geek Feminism,

Toxic masculinity is one of the ways in which Patriarchy is harmful to men. It refers to the socially-constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth.

The "toxic" denotes a distinction between masculinity simpliciter. There's masculinity, and then there's toxic masculinity. In other words, some masculinity is good, and some masculinity is bad. (More on this later)

I definitely agree that there are common attitudes among men that are extremely destructive. I grew up in New York City and was exposed to the thug culture where you had to always be strong, never show any fear, and be willing to kick someone's ass at the drop of a hat if they disrespected you, otherwise you were a "pussy" or a "fagot." Now luckily I never went too deep into the thug culture, but I know from experience how utterly destructive it is.

Thug culture exemplifies the very worst of toxic hyper-masculinity. Every boy and man is trying to be the toughest muthafucka out there. No one's nice out of fear it will be confused with weakness. You can never show any emotion, vulnerability, or weakness of any kind. Women are to be used and abused to enhance the male ego and gratification. Homophobia is ubiquitous: gay males, or perceived gay males are to be bullied, harassed, mocked, and beaten up. The most aggressive, sexist, sociopathic male gets the most respect. It's insanity.

That was the culture I experienced growing up and I hated it. It was toxic masculinity on steroids. While other varieties exist to varying degrees, there are common threads: men must be strong, aggressive, unemotional, womanizing, competitive, and avoid doing things commonly associated with femininity. 

There are a couple of things to say about toxic masculinity as I see it from a male perspective. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

"Locker Room Talk" - Some Thoughts

OK, I feel the need to weigh in on the recent comments made by Donald Trump from his Access Hollywood appearance back in 2005. If you haven't heard about it, Trump got caught on a hot mic saying that he kisses married women without their consent, and he tries to fuck them, and he likes to grab women by the pussy, also without their consent.

Aside from the fact that we've never had a presidential candidate caught on recording saying such things in the modern era, I want to talk about Trump's explanation that this was all just "locker room talk."

Now as a man I am very familiar with so-called "locker room talk," but bare in mind that it doesn't include talking about sexual assault. Yes, many men talk about women in very sexual and sometimes very degrading ways, and I too have been guilty of it, but that's different from bragging about sexual assault. In heterosexual male culture there is a kind of expectation that you're supposed to talk about women as sex objects and brag about all of your sexual exploits with them. And yes, there is an incentive to exaggerate on the juicy details whenever necessary. This has been going on probably since we've had language as a species, and it might not ever end. Not all men or boys do this, and not all the time. But generally speaking, your average male has done this at some point in his life.

For a long time this kind of behavior was chalked up simply as "boys will be boys." But now of course this excuse is increasingly not being accepted by society. Here's my view on this. First, we have to keep in mind that what Trump talked about was actual sexual assault, not just having sex with women consensually. We cannot have any tolerance for sexual assault or rape of any kind, period. Second, when it comes to talking about women in sexually degrading ways, my view is that we men should refrain from it, but I wouldn't go so far as to say two men should never talk about women in sexual terms. It's possible to talk about someone as a sex object while being able to fully recognize them as a human being. We've evolved to look at each other as sex objects. That's how nature gets us to reproduce. But you can look at a women as a sex object and as a human being without being a hypocrite, because how you see her depends on the context.

So I'm not asking that all people all the time talk and act as if they were on national television because that would make the world into a politically correct 1984 dystopia. We should be free to say what we want in private but know that it might become public and we should be prepared to deal with the potential consequences, however frightening that may be.

Most men who engage in "locker room talk" are not rapists or would ever sexually assault a woman and so they know how to understand the context. But again, remember what Donald Trump did: he bragged about having had sexually assaulted women in the past. I'm not justifying that. I'm just saying that it's OK to talk about women in sexual terms when men are together alone, so long that they treat women with respect when they're near them. That also means not referring to women as "bitches," which is still very prevalent, especially in the black community — but referring to them as "women." It almost seems like an expectation in some circles to refer to women as "bitches" to the point where if you don't you must be a pussy. We've got to stop that.

There are at least two ways that I've thought of where we can remedy the situation:

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Has Political Correctness Gone Too Far? Yes

This weekend I'll be hosting a debate on political correctness and on whether it has gone too far — which is gotten me in a fix because as the host I'm expected to me impartial. I make it no secret that I think modern PC has gone too far. Political Correctness is defined as:

the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.

Let's look at a few examples of where I think it has:

  • Debating/Open Dialogue: Recently, when a debate over campus sexual assault was organized at Brown University, some women on the campus feared such a dialogue would enable trigger warnings and under the university's guide were given a safe space room to retreat to equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as reported by the New York Times.
  • Clapping: As reported by ListVerseThe National Union of Students Women’s Campaign, a feminist college student group in Britain, announced in March 2015 that they would ban clapping at their future conferences held at UK colleges. The feminist group claimed that the act of clapping could “trigger some people’s anxiety,” and therefore should be banned from all of their conferences. Instead, the feminist students instructed those who attend conferences to use jazz hands—to wave their hands silently in the air—when they wished to display approval.
  • Cultural appropriation: As reported by ListVerseTrouble began for a band called Shokazoba when they were scheduled to play a Halloween concert at Hampshire College in Massachusetts. Shokazoba plays a genre of music called Afrobeat, which is a fusion of funk and jazz music with African rhythms. However, this style proved to be the band’s undoing because of one problem. The band’s members are mostly white.
  • Microaggressions: As reported by The College Fix: The University of California's president recently declared some staples of small talk to be inherently racist or sexist. Saying “America is the land of opportunity,” “There is only one race, the human race” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job” are among a long list of alleged microaggressions faculty leaders of the University of California system have been instructed not to say. Other sayings deemed unacceptable include:
    • “Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough.”
    • “Where are you from or where were you born?”
    • “Affirmative action is racist.”
    • “When I look at you, I don’t see color.”
  • Due process: Under pressure from the Obama administration, some universities have abandoned due process in favor of a guilty until proven innocent attitude in sexual assault cases. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, colleges that refuse to curtail the due process of the accused may lose federal funding. Through an interpretation of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act universities will be strongly discouraged from questioning or cross examining the accuser. 
  • Feminism: Critics of modern day third wave feminism, like Christina Hoff Summers, who challenge popularly believed statistics like that 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted on campus, or that women earn 77 cents on the dollar to men, make “trigger warnings” by their very presence on college campuses and are banned or protested against from speaking.

Friday, April 8, 2016

When Liberalism Shoots Itself In The Foot

I feel the need to write more about politics given that this is an election year and I've always been a political person. I want to gravitate towards writing about higher level phenomena like politic and economics, and discussing the issues and the philosophies around them.

I've been thinking for some time now about the negative, and perhaps, unintended consequences of political correctness that some on the left don't seem to acknowledge. One of the problems with political correctness is that it sometimes forces you to deny reality—to deny facts, in the name of not offending people. There are some facts about this world that are inconvenient to the liberal agenda. But facts shouldn't conform to political ideology. Rather, ideology should conform to the facts.

I think political correctness when gone too far can sometimes hurt the liberal agenda by shooting itself in the foot. Let's look at two examples.

Take the issue of the treatment of women in Islam. You have feminists in Western countries who will challenge every aspect of the patriarchy, and every perceived threat of male dominance to the status and treatment of women, yet on the issue of Islam and how women are treated in cultures dominated by that religion, the criticism almost disappears. Instead, the idea goes, since most Muslims are brown, and since the Western colonial powers have historically done bad things to brown people, criticizing Islamic culture for its treatment of women exemplifies this legacy Western colonial dominance, and so we must be respectful of not criticizing the treatment of women is Islamic cultures too harshly—or at all—thereby enabling the mistreatment of hundreds of millions of women to persist. This is a case of political correctness hurting the liberal agenda.

Or, take the dicey issue of race. Political correctness has made talking about race and racism more difficult. The social justice warriors of our day want to effectively shut down anyone who disagrees with their "facts" or who violates their preapproved accepted terminology on how to "properly" talk about race. If someone accidentally "misspeaks" and uses the wrong word, they are labeled a racist and must either step down, be fired, boycotted, or shamed into apology or hiding. What this ends up doing is making many people terrified to talk about race publicly. But racism still exists and not talking about race doesn't make racism go away. We have to talk about race in order to address the causes and solution to racism, and if everyone's terrified to talk about race because they're afraid of accidentally offending someone and being labelled a racist, then no one talks about race except for those perhaps on the far left, and actual racists. This will alienate people in the middle who might have important input to the discussion but who don't agree with the most liberal positions of the far left agenda, and who don't want to get associated with the actual racism of the far right. And so hugely important issues about race might never get discussed and addressed. This is a case of political correctness hurting the liberal agenda. It's 1984 with a liberal Big Brother.

I understand the need for some level of political correctness. I don't want to live in a world where everyone is openly racist and sexist like it was sixty years ago. I abhor actual racism and sexism. But political correctness gone too far shoots liberalism in the foot—and I still consider myself a liberal, by and large. We have to be able to be real with one another when talking about the tough problems we deal with as a society. For example, if you suggest that black culture is partly to blame for the systemic problems in many black communities, should that automatically disqualify you from the conversation? No. If you say that the Islamic religion and much of the culture based on it has sexist elements and is a large part of the problem with how women are treated in Islamic cultures, should you automatically be labeled a Islamophobe who's upholding the racist colonial dominance of an oppressed people? No. We need to be able to discuss about these things without the PC police shutting down the conversation before it even starts.

This is by the way, not an argument against liberalism, but an argument about how liberalism should change, because too much political correctness is hurting it. This is enabling a backlash that is empowering the rise of the far right. And I don't want to see that happening.

Unintended consequences.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Double Standards On Sex

Politically speaking, I'm a left-leaning independent populist and a progressive secularist who is socially liberal, especially on matters of sex. I'm a "feminist" in the sense that I believe in full gender equality, but I generally prefer to call myself a "humanist."

I've found that for many people, especially men, raised with traditional, old fashioned attitudes towards gender norms, one of the hardest things for them to accept—if they want to be a liberal progressive like myself—is the idea that women should be able to have as much casual sex as they want without slut shaming.

If it is perfectly morally acceptable for a man to be able to have casual sex, monogamously or non-monogamously, then it should be perfectly morally acceptable for a woman to be able to do the same. There should be no sexual double standard. This is logically entailed if you want to support sexual and gender equality, as most left-leaning progressive secularists claim they do. But, there are still those among us who call ourselves "liberals," or "feminists," or who openly claim to support an end to the "patriarchy," and who pay lip service to "gender equality," who still think it's proper that women should guard their sexuality in ways men shouldn't.

Why? I think for some men there are inherent fears that a true liberation of female sexuality will unleash the sexual beasts within them, and these women who engage in casual sex will spark inner fears of jealousy. Many of us, perhaps most of us, are prone to sexual jealousy. We're fearful of those we love or desire having sex with others. Similarly, some women who are more on the monogamous side of the spectrum are afraid that the sexual liberation of women will make it more likely that their male partners will cheat on them due to the abundance of having so many easy sexual prospects (and as Chris Rock said, men are only as faithful as their options). It of course goes without saying that many religions cause many of these attitudes and so traditional religions obviously have to go.

So what do we do about these fears that tend to make us hold onto traditional gender norms? Well, it's complicated. First, allowing women to have sex as much as they want without fear of slut shaming doesn't mean that all women will have to have casual sex. It means they should be able to if they want to. There shouldn't be any rigid gender norms imposed on men or women. Men and women should be allowed to have casual sex if they want to. Or not—if they want to. While I do think that the potential for female sexuality in the arena of casual sex or polyamory is greater than it is, I don't think it will be everyone. Second, we need to, as a society, learn to get over our sexual jealousy. I've known many men who in the same breath will complain about women not being easy enough to have sex with, and then complain that a certain woman is a slut or a whore for having too much sex. It's totally illogical and hypocritical. You can't slut shame women for having casual sex, while complaining that you're not getting enough casual sex from women. Third, we still need to respect monogamy for those who are monogamous and for relationships where there is an expectation of monogamy. I'm certainly not trying to advocate in this post that we all just cheat on everyone. Not at all. We should all be open and honest to our partners about who we're having sex with and whether we're monogamous or not. If you promise a partner you will be monogamous with them, then you should be monogamous with them. Period.

No doubt there will be lots of new complexities that arise from fully liberated sexuality and gender equality, but we'll deal with them, much like we dealt with the complications that arose from racial equality. Although, I'd prefer we take a much more rational approach.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

It's Time To Be Thankful Again - A Short Rant

So, it's been another year since Thanksgiving. This time last year I was recovering from surgery and having to work from home. That episode involved two operations and two nights in the hospital, and totaled nearly 40 thousand dollars. It was $7,000 per night just to stay in the hospital. The hospital was decent but the food was absolutely horrible. Can you believe it costs that much to stay at the hospital per night? It's outrageous.

Thankfully though, I had health insurance, and good health insurance at that. I only ended up paying $500 out of pocket for the whole thing. Had I needed surgery a few years earlier when I was unemployed and without insurance, I would have been financially fucked. So this has made me appreciate what I've got and its always good to set aside a time of the year to remind us of this. I have a good job that is low stress, pays good, and provides me good health insurance. I'm a middle class person living in a first world country. Right there I have it better than 90 percent of the world's population. I live in the best city in the world. I have good friends. My family relationships are mostly good. I have my health (thanks to my insurance). And I have a new girlfriend and things are going well (so far). Right now my life is pretty good. I don't really have anything that's causing me tremendous stress. Things aren't perfect of course. I have problems here and there, but overall things are pretty good.

And this is mostly due to pure luck. I'm simply lucky that I was born with a healthy body and a healthy brain, into a secular middle class family in a first world country where I enjoy levels of freedom billions of people are not afforded. I got dealt a good hand. I lucked out in the genetic lottery. That's the reality of my situation. I'm just luckier than most other people in many ways. But with that luck I plan to make this world a better place so that other people can be just as lucky as me. That way, a greater number of people in the future will win this genetic lottery. If anything we should always thank the people who've made the pleasures in our lives possible. I thank them mostly.

I am optimistic that the world will get better. We no doubt have problems—climate change, income inequality, terrorism, war — plenty of stuff. Religion is declining in the West and I'm happy about that. We're going to have problems with the Islamic world for generations to come unfortunately, but I think the Islamic world will eventually liberalize and secularize. It won't be easy. Technology is going to improve all of our lives. Diseases will be eradicated by genetic manipulation. We've not even begun to reap the rewards of our ability to manipulate DNA and realize its potential. This is going to utterly change our ability to combat disease and make nature work for us. We can't pray for change, we must be active agents in making the world a better place — at least in the sense of making it a point to not cause any unnecessary suffering. If we all were negative utilitarians in this sense, the happiness and well being of the world would go up tremendously. That's one of the reasons why I had to give up eating meat.

This will also be my first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian. It will be interesting, but I like mash potatoes and stuffing enough to call it a meal.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Maybe I'm Not Human

I'm going to get a little personal here for a moment.

I think I'm missing out on one of life's most amazing gifts: being in love. I'm in my early thirties and I have never once been in love before. By "being in love" I mean being in a loving relationship with someone who is also in love with you. I do not mean to say loving someone who does not love you back. I'm talking about the full package, the two-way street of mutual love. I have never had a relationship where I've been in love with the person I've dated where she loved me back. I thought I came close to it once, but in retrospect, I don't think I could call it true love. It may have been obsession masquerading around and fooling my brain into thinking it was love.

Some of you have been in love. Some of you maybe are in love. Some of you fell in love, got married and are still in love with your spouse. But love for me so far has never happened. I'm very picky about women. I need a girl with a certain look. I tend to fall in love with my eyes pretty easy, but that isn't really love, that's lust. True love means you have to be able to look past the surface to the inner core of a being. You have to accept them for all their flaws, you have to still be able to love them at their worst moment. That for me is the hardest thing to do. I have a really hard time loving the whole person and seeing past their flaws. The most beautiful woman are far from perfect.

I've been on many sides of the love dilemma. I've been in what I thought was love with women who didn't love me back. I've had women who were in love with me that I didn't love back. I've been in love with a woman's looks but hated their personality, and I've been in love with a woman's personality but wasn't attracted to their looks. It is not fun being in either of these situations and they all lead to emotional suffering for those involved.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Atheism, It's A Guy Thing

Statistically, if you're an atheist or an agnostic you are much more likely to be male. Just look around at atheist gatherings and conventions. It's practically all guys! A pew survey from 2012 showed that men out number women 2 to 1 for those identifying as atheist/agnostic. Wow. I didn't know it was that bad.

So why aren't women embracing non-religiosity as much as men and what can be done to increase their numbers? The same survey also showed that women, more than men, are more likely to be affiliated with a particular religion. I hate to stereotype here, but I think the numbers might be due to the emotional dependency many women naturally have. Studies have shown that it is harder for women to quite smoking than men for example, because they are more likely to use cigarettes as an emotional comfort. And since religious belief is primarily emotional and not logical, it would make sense that women, being more emotional than men, naturally would find greater security in it.

So, just as it appears women find it harder to kick the habit with smoking, they too find it harder to let go of religion. That means deconverting from theism to atheism is generally a much more difficult emotional experience for women, whereas for guys it is comparatively easier. I didn't have a harrowing deconversion experience that many current atheists have had, so I can't speak from experience. But it seems that women will need more emotional support on their way out of religion. Perhaps that means it is necessary that a welcoming, emotionally supportive atheistic community exist that could provide the same levels of emotional security that religion is currently providing, in order to get larger numbers of women to embrace atheism. That means atheists should squash a lot of this in-fighting. And when it comes to counter-apologetics, maybe emphasizing the more emotionally-tinged arguments like the ones that show how all religions are pretty much sexist and have less than ideal views towards women, would better appeal to women who might embrace atheism.

Many women who reject traditional theism I think will find spirituality more comforting than atheism. Within spirituality you can conceive of god as a goddess, synonymous with mother nature, or a great feminine spirit. That will likely appeal to women more, and the statistics of the "nones" who are not atheist/agnostic appear a bit more even in the gender gap. The "spiritual but not religious" identity I'm sure many atheists would prefer over traditional theism, especially fundamentalism. But the atheist community would really like to see more women embracing full frontal atheism bereft of any spiritual mushyness.  

We've got work to do.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Feminism Is Tearing Apart The Atheist Community

For most of the past year or so on my blog I've been balls deep into counter apologetics, taking on every religious argument that crossed my radar. While that currently is and probably will continue to be the primary focus of my blog, that's not all I want it to be about. So let's talk about some social issues for a bit.

The atheist/skeptic/free thinking community has been divided over feminism for the past few years. AronRa spoke about this recently in a new video he put out about how stupid all this in-fighting really is and how bad it's making the community look. This is even more pressing when you consider that atheists are already one of the most despised demographics in the US. Our focus as a community should be in promoting the naturalistic worldview as best we can, and promoting free thinking devoid of religious dogma as the practical and healthy alternative.

I've generally avoided in-fighting other than making a few criticisms of what atheists sometimes do usually in the area of defending atheism. But this whole thing about feminism has gotten me riled up. If feminism is defined as equality between the sexes, then who today would be against that? Yes many republicans wouldn't but they're batshit crazy. I mean what normal person today would be against equality of the sexes? Part of my criticism of religion is that most religions are extremely sexist. And I can't use that as a counter-argument against religion if I myself am a sexist. So integrity forces me not to be a hypocrite on this issue.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sex & The City: The Time I Dated A Christian

Several years back I found myself sitting alone in a Starbucks coffee shop in Manhattan killing time. I had no idea that I was being watched. The young barista working there came up to me and smiled. She said she thought I was cute, and then offered me her phone number. I was pleasantly surprised since these kinds of things didn't happen everyday. I accepted her offer and eventually left. I remember her smiling to me as I walked out.

Several days later I either called or texted her and we decided to meet in Union Square Park, right across the street from the Starbucks. Like many first dates, it was awkward, but this encounter was even more so because we didn't even know each other at all. So we spent the day walking around the city, talking, and getting to know one another. We ended up in a Barnes & Noble sitting on the floor, looking at pictures in magazines and making gross jokes about the people in them.

She was a southern girl, with a slight accent, from Georgia - right outside of Atlanta if I can remember properly, and came to New York to chase her dreams of becoming an actress. (Oh how cliche.) I wasn't familiar with the ways of the south all that much but she was very easy going and we got along. She told me she thought I was cute and decided to be brave and go for it. I remember her telling me her thoughts before doing so. The worst that could happen, she told me, would be either that I was gay or taken, and that in either case she'd be risking humiliation. I praised her courage.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fate Reconsidered

Growing up, I felt an inner-disgust whenever I heard anyone speak of fate. The notion that there was some sort of spiritual force dictating events and making things happen according to some grandiose plan, made me want to vomit. I was adamantly opposed to such possibilities and happily preferred to be ruled by chance and chance alone. To me there was no grand purpose, there was no such thing that anyone could call fate, everything just happened by chance and coincidence.

Through my ongoing study of physics and philosophy, I am now somewhat reconsidering my attitude towards fate. And the main culprit behind why is due to the strong possibility that we live in a completely determined universe. If we do, then "chance" events are not really by chance, they were determined to occur, and they could have never been avoided. No other possible scenario could have unfolded. This means that if two people were to meet in a way that looked like a chance encounter, it was in real a sense fate that brought them together. Not fate guided by some conscious spiritual force, but fate guided by the laws of physics.

There have been times in my life when I've met somebody special, like a girl that I dated, where the circumstances under which we met made it seem magical - as if all the pieces fell right into place. It almost did seem as if fate was working behind the scenes. Previously, I'd never allow myself to entertain such notions in the past, but now I am reconsidering that we might all be truly fated in everything we do.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Natural Born Skeptic: My Atheist Journey Part 4

Nihilism And The Search For Deeper Meaning

For a while in my early twenties I suppose you could say that I had lapsed into a kind of hedonistic existential nihilism. I started partying more to the point where it basically became my life. Drinking and smoking marijuana became an almost daily routine. The metal head crowd that I had hung out with in high school had fragmented into smaller groups who shared common mutual interests and I had followed along with the ones who were the more heavy drinkers and users. My best friend at the time was a Russian immigrant who came to the US as an early teen. He actually believed in the ancient Norse gods Odin and Thor. Although most of the time we were busy drinking and smoking and going to nightclubs, we occasionally had an intellectual conversation where our world views came into the light. I’d ask him how sincere he was about his beliefs and if he actually thought Odin was real. I’d occasionally attack the logic he used to justify his beliefs and I quickly found out just how irrational some belief systems are and what absurdities they can be founded on. My best friend had came to the conclusion that Odin was real when he was camping one day in the woods and had run out of water. Feeling like he was going to die of thirst, he prayed to Odin and shortly thereafter found a bottle of water sitting in the woods. To him, this was a sign from Odin that he was real, and from that moment onward, Odin was his god. Now mind you, I was probably high when he told me this story, but you can imagine for yourself how utterly preposterous his applied logic was in determining that his god was real.

Most of my other friends were atheist, agnostic, or lapsed Catholics. I did however have one Muslim friend who was one of the heaviest partiers of us all.  One day after driving me home from a party he gave me a book entitled, A BRIEF ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING ISLAM. He told me that he was meaning to give it to me for some time because he recognized in me that I was smart and a thinker about some of the bigger and deeper issues. It was one of those books that tries to use modern scientific discoveries to show that they were predicted in the Qur’an hundreds of years ago before anyone else could have known. This is offered as a case that the Qur’an is “proof” that it was divinely inspired and therefore that Islam is the one true faith. Now the skeptic in me has looked at this supposed “proof” and concluded that it is a ridiculous stretch of the imagination. The Qur’an is so vague in its descriptions of these purported “facts” that it take great leaps of faith to reconcile them with modern science, and on top of that, it gets many of its “facts” flat out wrong. But at that time, I wasn’t fully aware of this, and after briefly looking through the book, I literally threw it down on a shelf and it collected dust for about 5 years.

During this nihilistic party phase in my early twenties I just wasn’t that interested in religion and philosophy. That early spark of intrigue had faded and became replaced by hedonistic indulgence. Living in New York City where there are thousands of bars and clubs, my life revolved around bar hoping and club hoping, chasing after the next one night stand, and getting fucked up on beer, liquor, marijuana and the occasional club drug. I was a nihilist living in the moment, working the odd job here and there, with no deeper purpose, meaning or direction. The occasional discussion about metaphysical worldviews always involved me articulating my skepticism and disbelief but it was almost never seriously challenged because most of the people in my social circle either weren’t believers, or if they believed, they weren’t religious about their beliefs. Although I had an affinity for indulgence myself, as the years went on I started gravitating towards deeper more intellectual topics. I wanted to have intellectual conversations with my friends instead of just talking about whatever gossip and drama happened to be going on at the time. I started growing tired of the mindless self-indulgence that I saw going on everyday amongst my friends. I stopped caring about the silly one-upmanship that we were all trying to pull on each other to gratify our precious egos. I was searching for something deeper and more intellectually satisfying in my life but unlike those people who are susceptible to religion, my natural born skepticism wouldn’t steer me towards god.

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Morning Hangover Post

Last night a friend of mine convinced me to go partying in the Meat Packing district in Manhattan. I was originally in the city just enjoying a sunny, relatively mild Saturday afternoon absorbing the sights and sounds. I hadn't been out leisurely in quite a while since I'm not really a friend of the bitter cold, but the weather seemed like a prelude to Spring and I didn't want to waste it.

I had on a vintage jean jacket and my black Levis skinny jeans, advertising the rediscovery of my rock and roll roots. While chilling in Union Square park soaking up the Winter sun, a few people approached me due to my style. It's always complimentary to the ego when your looks alone get others interested in you. This one group of people wanted my picture because I looked similar to one of the men in the group. Then later a woman who was researching information on fashion came up to me and wanted to interview me about my style, on camera. Since I had nothing to do I decided to give it a shot. So she asked me about how I describe my style - which was a topic already on my mind. I told her my style is kinda vintage rocker with a little modern hipster thrown in, and that I've gone through many phases in fashion over the years, some of them very embarrassing. Then she asked me what I'd change about my body - a slight curve ball of a question that I didn't quite expect, and so I told her that if I could change anything I'd probably want to be more muscular. It's hard to admit one's bodily shortcomings, especially for a man, but for me I've always wanted more muscle definition, without actually having to work out of course.

After the interview we talked a little about the reasons behind fashion - like what motivates us to dress how we want to. For me, fashion and style are a way to express to the world visually how I want to be thought of. I've always wanted to be in a band, but was never able to commit myself to the amount of practice it takes to actually be in one, so with fashion I can at least look like I'm in one.

Anyway, after the interview I called my friend who wanted to meet for drinks at a bar in the West Village. He knows the owner of the bar and so it was free beer all night - no complaints from me. Since I hadn't seen him in a while, we had to catch up on things. He told me he's actually giving up Facebook for lent. I didn't even know he was a practicing Christian, and so it got me asking him about religion. It turns out he doesn't actually believe that the Old Testament is the true word of god, which explains why he supports gay rights. The variety of Christian belief is astounding. But since my friend isn't exactly the deep thinking intellectual type when it comes to his beliefs, my probing didn't evolve into a lengthy discussion. And so after his girlfriend showed up and another friend of mine came through, we all decided to go to the Meat Packing district.

Now I'm not a huge fan of the Meat Packing district to be honest with you. Sure it's trendy and full of really hot women, but at my age, I'm just not into that scene anymore. Most of the clubs and bars play that kind of in-your-face techno that I lost interest in before I ever even had it. When it comes to electronic music I generally prefer chilled out house or electro. The crowds in the MPD draw the usual assortment of Jersey Shore guidos and Latino thugs that I'd prefer not to acknowledge the existence of. My entire time there I was really just observing the Saturday night rituals of a crowd and a culture that I've left behind years ago. I used to be a club promoter, and every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, I was surrounded by the Manhattan club scene in the MPD and Chelsea. Now there's no amount of alcohol that could make this scene tolerable and it's too bad I didn't drink enough to black out and forget it all.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer 2011

We are in the midst of a sweltering typically New York City heat wave. Temperatures are in the high 90s and the humidity is not much lower. So far summer has been nothing but work. Last weekend I slept in and didn't even go out. I was just too damn tired. I realize now what a stupid decision that was. Summer will be over before I know it, and I should spend every free day I have out enjoying life and the outdoors even if it is by myself.

Work is still sucking my life and time away. I have money now so I can't complain, but it seems that I have no time to spend it. It's such a catch 22: last summer I was unemployed and had little money, but I had all the time in the world to hang out and enjoy my life. This summer I have plenty of spending money but I'm working like a dog, and it seems like I have no time to spend it, let alone enjoy it.

Weekends seem to disappear over night. Before I know it, it's Monday morning and time to go to work. I even have to work on the weekend sometimes. It is such a horrible wager to make. Be broke, or be busy all the time.

I'm going to Washington D.C. in the end of August, I'll take a flight over to Oregon after that. Something to look forward to but not much. I need to get out more, but my job pretty much ruins the possibility of doing anything on the weekday. I remember back when I used to be a security guard and I worked 40 hours a week. This was the summer of 2005. I remember that summer as been a particularly fun summer mostly because I discovered this bar called Lit in the East Village and it was a particularly good spot for easy hook ups. But I can't remember what I did on work nights. I assume I mostly went home, I think a few nights I went out or hung out in friend's houses. I smoked a lot of pot back then so memory is a bit hazy.

It's mid-summer and so far the fun has yet to begun.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Something Else To Mix With Soda

I was thinking of maybe taking this blog in a whole new direction. Perhaps writing more about my personal life and thoughts, and my experiences being a young man in contemporary New York. Sure there are thousands already doing that, but no one quite like me. No one is as crazy and weird. I got back into partying on the weekends. I love going out and meeting new people and losing myself in the moment. There's more to life than just being an Atheist. I can comment on each experience, each situation from an Atheistic perspective.

Saturday nights are best spent very intoxicated, and around a lot of people. A cool bar or lounge will do. A loud club will do too, on some occasions. Making out with a cute girl you just met on the dance floor will definitely do. Running your fingers through her hair while inhaling her scent will do even better. Getting kicked out of a bar after being falsely accused of selling cocaine in it will definitely not do. Looking for more girls to talk to after already making out with one is, well, what you do when you're drunk.

I'm in a weird state of affairs right now. I kind of want to settle down, and be monogamous to one special girl. But then a part of me wants to live the party life that is oh so glamorized. I suppose the right girl can change everything. Is there anything immoral about that lifestyle of debauchery and carnal lust? Everything in moderation is what I believe in, but periods of indulgence are hard to refrain from.

I have to admit that I have not forgotten how fun it was to party every weekend. During my college years, I was working the night shift as a security guard on the weekend. I was taking night classes and that was leaving me with literally no time for any partying. I was sleeping all day and working all night. There was a 2 year period where I think I might have went out less than a half-dozen times. 2008 was the most boring year of my life. This period of my life was my sacrifice, it was my propitiation, but of course not to any god. It was what I had to do to get where I am today, with not only a degree, or a job, but with a career. I have every right to party my ass off now. I sacrificed more than 2 years of the prime of my life, often falling into deep depression because of it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Conversation

We sat talking at the edge of the bar, oblivious to the noise around us. She was a pretty young brunette who had just transferred here from California. I was an overworked, jaded New Yorker in need of some Friday night beguilement. "I work in advertising" she says, barely audible. "Oh nice" I respond, "So what's better, New York or L.A.?" This question is one I frequently ask everyone I meet who moves to New York from L.A. I'm always comparing people's experience of New York to that of where they grew up. "Well," she says digging deep into her little mind, "New York is more convenient because everything is close by. And, you don't have to drive everywhere." I feign interest and pretend like her point is something I haven't heard. Unfortunately, I've heard it all.

I, the jaded New Yorker, have had this conversation one too many times. It's gotten to the point where, I already know what they're going to say. To spice things up, sometimes I play the guessing game, where I guess where they're from, or their ethnicity or religion. Just the other week, I correctly guessed two girls were Jewish just by knowing what neighborhood they grew up in.

Then suddenly, the conversation got interesting....

Monday, September 6, 2010

Short Days, Long Nights

It's that time of the year, the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer. I can see the sun setting lower in the sky. This is the time of the year where one has to take full advantage of every pleasant day if you live in northern latitudes. In my beloved New York that is especially true. For a long cold winter is almost certainly ahead. Maybe this winter won't be so bad. I hope not. It was a decent summer. I'm not sure what my best summer was. Maybe the summer of '99. I partied a lot that summer and had my first sexual experience. It was a hot one. I always want to show off my body that I've sculpted all winter long in the summer, but this past winter I did no such thing. Consequently, my summer body this year was just as scrawny as it was for many past summers.

I didn't go shopping this summer to show off any new looks. I had the same old same old wardrobe. There have been clothes that I've fantasized about having, and that having it will make me happier. I too am not immune to materialistic pleasure. I usually never get that item of clothing, but in fantasy I wear it and rock that look I so desperately want. I constantly evolve and so does my look. Now that I'm getting older I've changed and matured my look a bit. I no longer dress like some 20 year old pot head. I want to fashion myself as an intellectual. It doesn't always go with my company or environment. I don't want to dress too square. I want to be stylish yet sophisticated. To do this I need to be creative since buying a new wardrobe is a little out of the question.

No summer love this year. I think I already mentioned that in a previous post. My friend keeps convincing me to go to this local bar that I can't stand. I hate the girls that go there and the general atmosphere. I only ever go there because it's closest to me. I barely went out "bitch hunting" as we used to say, this summer. I went to the South Street Sea Port several times where I did meet one pretty young European girl that I briefly dated that quickly went nowhere. I didn't really hit my usual stomping grounds or the bars most favorable for meeting single ladies. Come to think of it I barely went bar hopping this summer. I guess on the account of how expensive it is.

I'm noticing that I'm writing too much about my personal life here. This blog is not suppose to be a personal blog. I guess the fact that I'm writing period is a good sign of productivity, since I can on occasion, go long periods without writing.

I'm reading C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity now. He is a writer most know probably for writing The Chronicles of Narnia. He is a Christian often cited in religious debates and he is credited with bringing a slightly more modern interpretation of his faith to the masses with his book. Even though I see through his arguments in favor of his faith and god like a fishnet bra on a hooker. I guess that if I wasn't educated in the new atheist's philosophies that have made my atheism stronger and unbreakable, I might possibly fall for some of Lewis' arguments. Perhaps if I was younger.


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