Stories From A Life

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Sally Swift

Sally Swift
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
June 14
VP, Repartee
Swift Retorts
sally: a journey, a venture, an expression of feeling, an outburst, a quip, a wisecrack ... me


Editor’s Pick
JUNE 11, 2008 12:14PM

Sex and Relationships - 15 Tips

Rate: 6 Flag

Yin, Yang, Jung

"We control fifty percent of a relationship. We influence one hundred percent of it." Dr. Joyce Brothers

"My husband said he wanted to have sex with a redhead, so I dyed my hair." Jane Fonda

To state the obvious, I'm a fan of lists. They're compact, succinct, to the point. So, here comes another one. 

As follow-up to my advice for those about to wed this summer, this one's about sex and relationships. I've drawn from my own experience, plus that of my friends, but I also did some outside research.

I scoured the Internet for intelligent information on love and sex, and frankly -- blech. I won't bore you with details. I'll just note that there are 76.7 million sites on Sex. And interestingly, 84.8 million sites on Relationships.

There's a recurring theme repeated on many sites, mostly about Restoring The Balance of Responsibility. Whoa. A relationship is a health care corporation? A government agency? A trust fund? Apparently many experts believe so.


A good relationship is a cooperative effort between two very different people with diverse needs and goals who both want their own way -- and have learned how to get it, together.

Some of the tips I found and compiled here have value, some are obvious and simplistic, some are just stupid. If you haven't guessed, my tongue is firmly in my cheek, but hit me with your best shot anyway.

1. Keep a sense of humor!
Well okay, off to a good start. If you can't laugh together, at life and occasionally at each other, your relationship will be boring as hell.

2. Set up a time for talking.
Before sex for men. After sex for women. This is the only time you can count on getting and keeping the attention of either one.

3. Spill the beans -- tell each other what's on your mind!
Do NOT under any circumstances do this. Unless you want the relationship to end. I'm not advocating a code of angry silence, just common sense. Some things are better left unsaid. "Your mother's right, you're a pig and I'm tired of picking up your socks!" Or "If I have to clean up after dinner, the least you could do is learn to cook." Rethink how to communicate this in a kinder way and you'll still get it off your chest, but you might also get what you want.

4. Let the one who is the better organizer take on the job of organization.
Ya think? Actually, the caveat to this is sharing information and asking for help. Nobody should shoulder the whole load solo. S/he will either feel far too superior or get really pissed off at the disorganized partner.

5. Make a list of what you want the other person to do and give it to them on the day it's supposed to get done.
No no no! Make a list well in advance. Post it prominently. Mention it often. Then hand him a piece of paper with one to-do item at a time when you know he's got the time.

6. Avoid the pattern of mess-maker and cleaner-upper.
This is totally impossible if one of you is male and the other female. Just live with it and move on.

7. Avoid the pattern of pesterer and tuner-outer.
Actually, this is excellent advice. And can be achieved if you schedule pestering before sex.

8. Avoid the pattern of victim and victimizer.
This is 100% important. Critical. Deadly serious. If you find this pattern evolving in your relationship, seek counseling. I am not kidding.

9. Avoid the pattern of sadomasochistic struggle as a routine way of interacting.
Hmm. Okay, if the struggle is victim/victimizer, see advice above. If we're talking about verbal or physical abuse, get out. Fast. If it's just about sex and you're both on board, go for it.

10. In general, watch out for the dynamics of control and dominance.
Good advice for the day-to-day interaction of a relationship. Again, not necessarily a bad thing if it involves sex.

11. Break the negativity cycle.
Bigtime advice. Negative energy sucks all the joy out of any relationship -- man-woman, parent-child, friend to friend. And that's the critical point here: relationships only work well if you are good, supportive, positive, responsive friends.

12. Use praise and encouragement frequently.
As a woman I can tell you this works as well on men as it does on dogs. Reward them lavishly for picking up their socks and you might eliminate the need for # 6 entirely.

A tip for men on this one: "You look/smell/feel great." said sincerely and often will get you laid much more frequently and pestered much less.

13. Pay attention to your sex life and to your partner during sex.
Bingo! This is the Big Kahuna. I may take some hits here, but I firmly believe that good sex is ultimately the woman's responsibility. And women who withhold sex as punishment or revenge (or any damn reason at all save genuine illness) are stone idiots. So...

Ladies: no thinking about new wallpaper or carpool schedules. No enduring. No making him ask/beg. And no faking. Figure yourself out. Help him figure you out. Go for the gusto, the seduction, the fun, the finish. You have no one to blame for bad sex but your own dumb self.

Men: no thinking about baseball stats or the Victoria's Secret catalog. This is the woman with access to your food and your bank account -- talk to her. Savor her. Help her enjoy herself ... and you. Oh, and by the way, act out some of those creative fantasies you have 50 times a day -- she'll love you for it.

14. Make time for each other.
In today's world, this might be the most difficult goal to achieve. But it's totally worth it. Take a walk together, sit on the back porch or the front stoop, go out to dinner, lock yourselves in your bedroom. Do whatever it takes to create a bubble for just you two.

15. Keep a sense of humor!
Advice so nice, they said it twice. If you can laugh at life as one, you'll go a long way toward staying two.

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brava! bravo!

There are many epigrams here worth memorizing. This is a well-considered, well-rendered post. Based on this alone, and ignoring our previous conversations, I would trust your advice on most anything.

Thanks, well done Sally.
Ha! I'd never heard the Jane Fonda quote until now. There is a very good reason I'm a dyed red head. My husband likes to say he gets all the benefits of being with a redhead without the fiery disposition downside.
Well, since we know it's about sex, I'm shocked do didn't put in anything about toes, but what struck me is that, if you take out #13, it could serve as a pretty dang good guide for raising kids, too.

I'll now always have Buddy Guy in my head when I think about you, Sally, except I'll change the words...

List-ang Sally, you got to slow yo list-ang down!

Lonnie, you are so right, it goes for kids too, which I mentioned in #11 but didn't think how well it applies elsewhere.

Just so you know, the ringtone on my cell is Mustang Sally. Which was my first new car ever, navy with white leather seats and a white vinal top, what a chick-mobile. Didn't get another new car (life was all about used Toyotas and mini-vans, etc.) til The Company let me get a Lexus RX300 to commute from Philly to VA. Which is when I finally understood the thing guys--and Arlene--have with cars.
Good list Sally. Definitely an improvement over the things to consider before marriage one. :)

On #12: Marriage/relationships researcher John Gottman claims that healthy relationships have a ratio of praise to criticism at least 5 to 1. When it falls below that, the relationship gets in trouble. Makes sense to me.

Humor is very important. I was impressed that my future wife liked Monty Python and Mel Brooks movies. Of course, sense of humor goes much beyond a few movie preferences, but that was a good start.
Hey, Turtle, I don't mind what you say about me, just spell my name right. Actually, I agree with you, but don't tell anyone I said so, then I'll have to be nice to everybody...
I bought you a VINTAGE Mustang, 1965, all you do is drive around SIGNIFYIN' woman, you won't even let me RIDE! Mustang Sally now, baby. Girl you better slow that Mustang down. One of these early mornings, you're gonna be wiping your weepin' eyes. Oh yes you will.

I know Lonnie. The Buddy Guy version is the best!

Re: #13 Sally. What? You mean I can't be running through the catalog of every good looking woman I've met lately while my wife is running through the catalog of every interesting man she's met lately while we're having sex with each other? Well, what the hell fun is that?
You know you do it, too. Don't lie.
I was just registering my strong disagreement on that one post. I agree with most your stuff. :)

And I loved your story about Dan Rather!

I'll try to spell your name right. But sometimes it's hard when I'm typing one-handed while holding a tired baby. I hope no one would take too much offense to an inadvertent typo.
Turtle, Mah Boah, what we have hee-ahh, is a failyure to communicate...

I was just kiddin around, because believe me, if I can't take constructive criticism or commentary, I wouldn't be any kind of a writer. Plus, feedback only serves to make me better at my craft. And, at giving my fellow OSers a good ride.

Hang on to that baby and check out my Open Call Father's Day post in a bit. I have a feeling you'll appreciate. And btw, HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!
Dan Rather's just a common tater.
So wise, so insightful, so simple and so often totally missed. Thanks for this. Oh, and as one who was made to feel endured during my longest marriage (to date), thanks for dropping that little bit of science.
I'm sorry to say, but you sound like Dr. Laura Schlessinger, and a sexist.
LeC, I think actually its fairly gender neutral. The truth is that either partner can be the critic, or the praiser, or not make time. Aside from a few gender-speific pieces of advice, it's really not geared towards either women or men.

And i don't think that its Schelssinger-esque to suggest that kindness, courtesy and restraint in both men and women is one of the keys to a good relationship. Schlessinger is about women deferring to men and giving up their lives for thier men. I don't think Sally is suggesting that at all.

It always struck me as odd that we'll go to great lengths to be kind to strangers but treat the people we supposedly love like crap. And then we excuse it by saying that we should be able to "be our true selves" around each other, is if the only truth worth fostering in ourselves is crass, demanding or selfish.
Thank you, Bagheera, for your articulate and accurate defense. I am actually offended by the comparison to Dr. Laura, whose take on relationships is not only old fashioned but insulting to both partners. I am indeed advocating mutual respect, kindness, understanding and love, which is the ONLY way a marriage--or any relationship--should work. And btw, sexist? ME?

Le Castor, did you not read the bit about "tongue in cheek"? Do you not think it's possible to be lighthearted at all about relationships? Jeez, the editors choose a quote about "picking up his socks." Do you think they did that from outrage?

Okay, Sally, breathe. JD, can you take it from here please? I'm getting too het up again.

(And I'd just like to add my voice to those decrying the Thumbs Down button without requiring the 'rater' to say why. That's how dialogues get going).
FYI - I'm the other thumbs down. To be honest, I'm more offended by the lack of originality than the liberal use of gender stereotypes.
Sally, you write: "I am indeed advocating mutual respect, kindness, understanding and love."

Yet, I am puzzled how you can put that together with what you have written.

2. Set up a time for talking.
Before sex for men. After sex for women. This is the only time you can count on getting and keeping the attention of either one.

What do you base this on? Isn't this disrespectful to both men and women to imply that one only listens if it is his gateway to sex, and the other only when there is post-sex intimacy?

5. Make a list of what you want the other person to do and give it to them on the day it's supposed to get done.
No no no! Make a list well in advance. Post it prominently. Mention it often. Then hand him a piece of paper with one to-do item at a time when you know he's got the time.

You slipped up with your gender-neutral articles here. Women dig themselves into a sexist and resentment hole by "assigning tasks" to their husbands, because the implication is that the husbands need to be managed. It's a pretty sexist and shrewish way to be. Not advocating mutual respect for sure.

6. Avoid the pattern of mess-maker and cleaner-upper.
This is totally impossible if one of you is male and the other female. Just live with it and move on.

How is it advocating mutual respect to say that men are just all messy, and women just have to accept being their part-time maids?

And here we get to the Dr. Laura-esque material:

12. Use praise and encouragement frequently.
As a woman I can tell you this works as well on men as it does on dogs. Reward them lavishly for picking up their socks and you might eliminate the need for # 6 entirely.

This is a very Dr. Laura sentiment -- that men are simplistic beings who need "proper care and feeding" like a dog would. Comparing men to dogs, not sexist? Where's the mutual respect and kindness in this ditty?

A tip for men on this one: "You look/smell/feel great." said sincerely and often will get you laid much more frequently and pestered much less.

How is this promoting mutual respect and sincerity, if you are trying to incentivize compliments with sex?

13.I firmly believe that good sex is ultimately the woman's responsibility.

This is what Dr. Laura said in the aftermath of the Spitzer scandal. I really don't see how you can defend this statement without resorting to some sexist assumptions.
*** gender-neutral pronouns here.
For what it's worth, I read this article as having a relatively light-hearted tone, and as such, I can't see myself getting upset or offended by any of the parts that I happen to disagree with.

(ps--How does everyone know so much about what Dr. Laura says? I don't think I've heard that woman's voice in over ten years...)
Not to put a too fine of a raging feminist point on it, but "this is lighthearted" is just a rewording of "it's a just a joke, lighten up, don’t get your knickers in a twist."

Why jokes can't be validly criticized for sexism is beyond me...
You'll probably read this the same way, but another way to put it is, "Life is short, so I prefer to choose my battles." This article struck me a as a silly battle to choose. But (apparently) that's just me. Knock yourself out.
I don't want to take sides here. It's best I shut up. I hardly ever do what's best. So with that said, here goes:

There is a great schism between the generations. Boomers like me, and whatever the 20-somethings are called now. Millennials? I think X-ers are hitting their 30s now and starting to get ground down by the realities of life. They weren't as critical of us geezers as they were just ten years ago. They are finding that idealism and reality can't always be rectified. It's good to try. But believe me, I think by the time they hit their 50s, they'll be making lists like Sally's.

We're all just trying to find our way here people. Le Castor is right in that there are some cringe-worthy statements in Sally's list, whether she meant them as humor or not. Sally, it's good for you to remember that some things are changing. Nobody likes being stereotyped according to sex. I know I don't. I'm a dish washer and carpet cleaner, window washer and bath tub scrubber. I don't need a list.

Le Castor, Sally came of age in a different time. She did the best she could as she saw it. Now she's just trying to impart some wisdom borne of personal experience. Take it for what it's worth. I'm not saying be grateful, but try to be understanding. It may not be the way you want to go, but it's the way Sally got through it.

May there be peace.
If I still ran my own outfit, I'd want JD to handle the union negotiations.

It's Friday night and I ain't been been paid, but I
Won't let it stop me from tryin' to get laid
C'mon now, baby let's dance!
Rat in a drain ditch
Caught on a limb
You know better but
I know him
Like I told you
What I said
Steal your face right off your head.
Thank you, Blake, you hit it on the nose. LC, I'm sorry my lightheartedness offends you, but since we are clearly living in alternate universes, please believe me that further argument is pointless. But JD, we're both Boomers, you cringe instead of smile? Earlier in this thread you were crackin jokes at me. I don't get it. What I do get which LC could perhaps try to see, is that you either laugh at a joke or you don't, breaking down each element and critiquing it sucks all the life out of the room. And btw, thank you Liar for id'ing yourself. Sorry to disappoint. But well, choc and van.
My dear Madame Swift ~

"If it's just about sex and you're both on board, go for it." As a thrice-divorced and currently unattached gentleman, I shall consider this my epigraph for the weekend!
Shine my shoes, Obama!

Come on, it's a lighthearted joke! Why are you not laughing?
I believe Ms. LeC will be much more fun to have around après Bar.

You better not pull a JFK, Jr. on us, sister.
Okay, I understand now. By LeCastor's estimation, Sally's post on relationships is the sequel to "Mein Kamf."

I feel I must say something, breaking out of my more typical approach avoidance style.

I reread Sally's post, and I still have the same feelings as when I first read it. I read it, then as now, as instructed: a lighthearted list with tongue firmly planted in cheek. I thought it instructive too that JD's take was a description of generations looking at things differently.

I appreciate and understand your passion and the points you make Le Castor (perhaps more limited in some ways as others, and perhaps with more intuition and empathy as others still). Some new acquaintances here may know a bit of my background, but I will affirm now that even with my shortcomings, I have an atypical view of gender issues drawn more stark in contrast in this most superficial city in which I live. That is, I gave up my career as vice president of a flourishing architectural millwork firm to support my bride's career and to raise our children as a full time househusband some 20 years ago. I get a lot of stuff. I'm also dumb about a lot of stuff. It really is only a joke, self deprecating as it is, when I say something like "We have a saying in our home: 'We compromise and do it Eve's way.' " I have lived support and nurture, I have lived in a way trying to find the balance between defining the subjunctive and asserting self worth.

Passion and tact are not easy bedfellows. You did make your point LeC, forcefully. I do appreciate your passion. I agree that archetypes need to be dismantled. But I feel compelled to say that the Obama repost struck me as particularly graceless. Of course it has truth in it, but in this context I don't believe it should have been said. And it pains me to say that. I'm confident you and others will disagree with my view. I'm ok with that.

This is a long way to go, with all these words, which may result in some further consternation, to make a point about the art of tactfulness.
Well, Blake and Lonnie, I'm actually still pretty fun. "Pick your battles" was about the only sensible thing I've heard in response so far, in addition to JD's very fair post.

No one has yet endeavored to explain why lightheartedness or joking makes the sexism beyond reproach.

And the thing is, the sexist jokes, are they worth it? Men are incurable slobs, hardy har har. No, I've never heard that one before!
Bbd, I appreciate your point of view.

The Obama repost came from Judith Warner's NYT blog post about sexism directed at Hillary, in which she mentions an article by one Andrew Stephen, wherein he said that while "Iron my shirt" was laughed at by the media, "shine my shoes" said to Obama would not have been treated so lightly.

Racism isn't okay, even if in a joke. Why is sexism okay in a joke/lighthearted material?

Warner's post ends bitterly with:

Oh, lighten up, I can hear you say. Don’t get your knickers in a twist.

Earnestness is so unattractive (in a woman).
"Hey, lighten up, I was only joking." Last time someone said that to me I had just objected to a comment he'd made about wife beating. You're right LeCastor, in all your arguments. Trouble is, you are talking to people who are quite confident in our own liberalness. We don't want to be told we aren't progressive enough. So you can tell us, with irrefutable arguments, that we are wrong and we should reexamine our views. Most will not change their minds and will resent being made uncomfortable. It's the sad truth.
To those I have not offended and who don't think me a sexist, racist, humorless bitch, thank you truly, deeply, sincerely for defending my honor as a lady, a liberal, an adult, a writer, a human being. The young jouster will, I believe, grow into her heartfelt passions more gracefully and learn to apply them with a lighter touch, but until then... No tongue in cheek on this one:
11. Break the negativity cycle.
Bigtime advice. Negative energy sucks all the joy out of any relationship -- man-woman, parent-child, friend to friend. And that's the critical point here: relationships only work well if you are good, supportive, positive, responsive friends.

Plus, today is my birthday and I want some respect, dammit!
One important aspect to sexism and racism is the appearance of malice. I described Sally's post as "light-hearted" because I didn't feel like she was "out to get anyone," or motivated by spite or anger. But I didn't think it was "funny," so I didn't think she was "joking," either.

But the "Shine my shoes" line, and the "Iron my Shirt," bit could only be taken as mean-spirited. There's nothing "light-hearted" about them. And saying otherwise is dishonest.
Happy birthday, Sally! Honestly and sincerely.
Thank you, Le Castor (feels a bit odd not using your first name), really and truly. If we start over with only #11, I think we have a lot to teach Each Other.
Sally - Happy Goddamn Birthday!

I perceived the post as funny - definitely tongue in cheek - but I'm the tail end of the boomer generation. I cut my teeth on Saturday Night Live in 1977 and I suppose my sense of humor was shaped thusly.

Le Castor probably laughs at things that would leave me staring blankly into space.

What delighted me about the exchange, however, was LC's passion about feminism. My age group (40-45) sort of dropped the ball on the topic and the women ten years younger even denounced feminism. Although the interchange was sticky for awhile, I say hooray for LC's righteous feminist anger! It gives me hope.

I'm going to call you LC because I know it has that obnoxious Hollywood ring and I'm hoping it will annoy you enough that you'll break down and give us a proper name with which to address you. Something like "Farmer"...
Ann, as usual, you are a peach! And on target. Which I guess is the point. I was directing that piece to a target audience which would not, perforce, include LC. (Uh, oh, next I'll get hit with ageism).

I'm closer (certainly with this b-day) even than you to the earlier wave of Boomers, (45-50+), but our sensibilities are more similar to each other than to LC and this whole new breed.

I honor their commitment and passion. And I submit--though they might not want to hear this--it's similar to us Boomers' from the late 60's and early 70's who fought many of the battles that allow such open discourse today.

So LC, let'er rip, it's about time a generation got serious about important causes again. And guess what? We're on the same side, just--as JD pointed out--coming from different points of view.

PS to LC: Please don't read the second half of the Father's Day post I will put up shortly. Or this will start all over again. :)
Sally- Funny you should mention that LC sounded so much like the vocal feminists of the 1960's and 1970's. I couldn't agree more.
I'm late to this party, but after reading all the comments felt compelled to contribute my .02.

I couldn't disagree more that LC's feminist passions 'suck all the life out of the room, or, in any way, shape or form, represent negativity. Like Blake, I did not find Sally's post particularly humorous, nor, by definition, in agreement with my own views of sex and relationships and what makes both work. I didn't feel strongly enough to speak up, which had more to do with being too busy to take the time to formulate a thoughtful response than it did with 'picking my battles'. I have been actively irritated by the 'you can teach men to do what you want using animal training technique' advice that has been making media and blog rounds for the past 9 months or so (ever since that NY Times article) , but frankly felt too exhausted by this sort of so-called 'lighthearted approach' to relations between the sexes to respond to any of it. I don't find it funny, I find it both depressing demeaning to men and women, keeping us all firmly in our patriarchal-defined roles in this brave new century. I can't IMAGINE the outrage we'd see if a man had posted how 'training' a woman as if she were a poodle or a lab is the best way to get what you want.

I was actually happy to see LC's response to Sally's post, though I wish it had been delivered with more stinging humor, I have no problem with the sentiments she expressed or the way she expressed them. (though I have to say making her point with the Obama/shoes line, and the Mein Kamp and "OK so I"m a bitch" responses were all examples of how giving free reign to emotion can make such exchanges more toxic than they need to be.)

I also have to say that I don't find it a product of her age - I was told the same thing at her age, to let sexist insults 'roll of my back' and 'choose my battles'. It offended me then and it offends me now - I was choosing my battles, and at 44 I still am. I will react to sexism every time I witness it, whether intended or not. I happen to think it's the only way the world will change. What I've learned with age is that there are many different ways to fight it, some more effective than others.

Sally's post didn't inspire me to write a comment like LC's, though LC voiced many of my own thoughts - rather, my way of responding was to think, hmm, ok then, I guess I'll be posting my own 15 tips on sex and relationships, and take care as I do it to make the points I think advance the cause of feminism, and, therefore, humanity. But I'll try not to be as tedious as that last sentence sounded. I might even try to be funny, which means accepting that I might fail and get egg on my face. Or draw the negative karma of Brightstar to my post - I just know he's lurking out there somewhere.

Cheers to Sally for her post, cheers to LC for her sincerity, cheers to everyone in the comments gallery!
Gotta agree with Sandra, and of course, LeC. The article that Sandra alludes to was expanded into a book. And to be fair to Amy Sutherland, the author of What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage, by the end of the book, her husband was using the animal training techniques she'd used on him, on her. So the lesson was that we can all be "trained" by positive reinforcement. Many people took the sexist and offensive "train your husband like you train your dog" lesson and left it at that.
LeC, to go point to point on this:

#2 is not gender neutral. But to acknowledge that men and women have been socialized with regards to sex in certain ways is not engaging in sexism. It is dealing with the landscape as it is. If your goal in having a talk is to get the other person to listen, you pick a time to talk that works for them. Yes, it contains some gender assumptions that may not hold true in every case. But to write anything without any assumptions of any kind would be an incredibly beleaguered exercise. This is why reading a contract is like having teeth pulled.

#5 really IS gender neutral. In my relationship, my husband and I BOTH have "to do" lists for each other. And both of us resent it when the other lays the pressure on too thick or doesn't allow enough time to plan. To me, this is an issue of courtesy to a partner, not gender. The only one making a gender assumption to this point is you, not Sally.

#6: Again, gender neutral. The dynamic of messy vs. clean in a relationship doesn't know a gender boundary, nor has Sally assumed one. My husband is the neat freak in our relationship. We've made a deal regarding my shoes: I agree to thin the herd from time to time and in exchange he does not object that the herd roams freely about the house. Again, this is about courtesy, not gender, and Sally correctly made no assumptions about gender in this point. You did.

#12: Yes, Sally's example is not gender neutral, but the principle works both ways. Neither a man nor a woman likes to be criticized for everything they do. And praising behavior you would like repeated is just basic common sense -- it works on animals, yes, but it works on people too. Without it, parents become shieking bombasts and spouses become nitpicky pains in the butt. Again it amounts to courtesy -- we have the power in every day to bless our loved ones or curse them. That one should have better results than the other is not sexist.

#13: Now here, I'll concede some sexual stereotyping, and I'll admit I don't agree with Sally that good sex is ultimately the woman's responsibility. But to take one point, blow it up out of proportion and declare the entire piece some kind of Dr. Laura-esque pean to sexism is perhaps grandstanding a little, don't you think?
Bagheera, thank you again for supporting my points, such as they were, and as I intended them to be read... generational lighthearted humor poking fun at dual-gender behavior. Not funny to some? Choc and van.

And, most important to me personally, you acknowledged that I was not in any way, shape or form attacking Anyone.

About #13. I'm not saying that good sex is the solely the woman's responsibility ... it is of course a mutual endeavor. I'm asserting that a woman must not expect romance novel sex wherein the hero instinctively knows exactly how to take her to peeks of otherworldly pleasure. In the real world, a woman should ultimately take responsibility for understanding her own body and communicating clearly what will give it pleasure. Experimentation is also a good idea, which I may have forgotten to mention.
um "peeks" ??? hahahahahaha, got myself with that one... should of course be peAks (and lots of em)
I didn't like this article. But I didn't comment because it seemed harmless but less funny than I some seemed to think.

I blamed myself for being too serious about certain subjects, which I have chosen to drop for the moment to regroup and reassess.

Here's the thing, Sally, at some point you have to stop using the words.

Bill Cosby said it when he told "his" people to stop using the N word for any reason. That it isn't funny, you can't appropriate it, you can't cssualize it and by doing so neuter it. It is a word that needs to be excised from the language like a cancer. It has such extreme conotative value that it has no independent denotative value.

You just have to be the generation that stops using it.

Modern, and I mean really modern, like right now, feminism is at that point. LeCastor is right.

It isn't funny that we can't use computers.
It isn't funny that we can't speak equally with our spouses.
It isn't funny that we treat our spouses as dumb animals.
It isn't funny that we must control our *mutual* sex lives to come.
It isn't funny that we are 100% responsible for homes we share.
It isn't funny that we can't have opposing political opinions to the DNC without being called traitors...

I understand the idea of not taking everything so damn seriously, but if we don't do it, it won't get done. Because the ones that made it, the traditional patriarchy and the women that loved it, have no interest in changing it.

You have to be the solution. And I am confident that women like you ARE the solution.

We just have to stop using words of oppression. They are not funny.

We need some new jargon, a new model for how to talk about domestic issues, an equal share in all aspects of life.
Wait, wait, have you read any of my own comments here? Why is everyone focusing on the dog reference, which some found funny and some most assuredly did not? For which I've already apologized. It's a generational thing which cannot possibly be used as a vehicle to partner the N word with feminism. What did I say in that same graph? Men: pay genuine attention to your partners. You don't have to like the way I phrased it, but the sentiment is not only true, it's RIGHT. If anyone wants to stay happily married or partnered, s/he needs a good, respectful and loving sex life, running in Both directions. And Must have humor.

It might not be Your kind of humor, but why not just say that instead of accusing me of demeaning women and setting back the cause of feminism? I was around at the beginning. I paid heavy dues. My mother had a serious professional career when it just wasn't done. And so did my sisters and I because she taught us to go after what we wanted, that we deserve it, we're equally qualified. That we're not just ornamentation or someone for a man to fall on whenever he wants. Thank god for her example and for my sisters and mentors in the 70's.

Throughout this piece I also rail against abuse, victimization, negativity, lack of respect. Btw, I HATE television sitcoms and commercials which still, in the 21st Century infantalize men while their wives roll their eyes in supposedly "humorous" disgust. Horrible. Degrading. Furthers the worst kind of stereotype.

Virtually everything I've said here is about MUTUAL respect and cooperation. You're right, maybe we do need some new jargon, a new model for how to talk about domestic issues, an equal share in all aspects of life. But to tell all of us of a certain generation to change our jargon on a dime is unrealistic. Plus, many of us know the code of our own jargon and aren't offended by it in the least.

And, I stand by the belief that any woman's unrealistic, overly romantic expectations about sex will hurt her--and not give her the pleasure she seeks--because she must take responsibility for her own body. That's not about oppression, it's advocating empowerment.

The most important lesson I've learned here is how vital it is to understand the variety of your audience and truly respect all sensibilities. The rest of the lessons put foward in yours and others' very valid points, though this particular post might not demonstrate same to you, believe me, I already know. And fought hard for the right for you to let me have it here and anywhere else.
I'm late speaking up at this party... but I've been sitting in the corner watching for awhile, trying to decide whether to say anything.

Even though I think of myself as being one of the last wave of boomers, I'm in the 50+ crowd, and LeCastor's voice and her concerns and arguments speak to me. So do ePriddy's.

I can still remember trying to explain to an old boss and a coworker why sexist jokes at work were not okay, and I won't tell you the example I used because it was worse than the shoe shine.

Still, I try to have a better sense of proportion now than I did in my 20's, and to choose my battles, too, which is why I was trying to decide whether to jump in. But then the discussion just kept getting better...

And I think what happened here was a combination of changes in tone/voice and some uses of satire that made it all a bit jarring. At least humor-wise.

Some of the tips were offered in good faith, others were meant to be satirical or, in some cases, slapstick. I'm not really a big fan of slapstick, and satire is tricky, because it's most effectively used by those lower in status to prick the ego or the bubble of those higher in status. When used in reverse, it falls flat, which is why the GOP's answer to The Daily Show was such a flop, and why you don't find a lot of good humor at that end of the political spectrum. It would mean being self-deprecating, and they don't do that very well.

Here there was a mixture of all of it... and if an alien from another galaxy were to try and understand it, they would be confused about humor, as well as sexual politics.

In any case, I do hope you had a good birthday, Sally! Geminis are among my favorite peoples.
So many people still don't know the code.

This primary and all the bullshit surrounding it has pointed out how important the code is.

I want to live in a world without having to speak in and with codes.

Just because I know what "nucular" means and implies doesn't mean I ever want to hear it again.

I have immense respect for you and your generation. I want to see the work go forward. And at some point, the code has to change. When is ultimately up to us.

I agree with much of the marital advice in the column. I have a happy marriage of 16 years because of some of it.

And it still ruffled my feathers.

My remark about Cosby was not equating anything. It was to illustrate that at some point, the people people listen to have to just tell their audiences to stop with the bullshit.

Nobody is going to listen to me. But they listen to you. And they will follow your example, whether it is perpetuating coded language or not. It's your right and responsibility. I trust you!

And I really really like you, too.
I will be specific in my complaints and agreements, just to be fair.

1. no problem. agree.
2. stereotype, funny
3. spot on
4. I think everybody should have their own room.
common spaces negotiate
5. I don't believe in lists. hee hee
seriously, when did I or he become the sargent doling out
chores to other grown people?
6. stereotype. sexist. bad code.
7. stereotype, accurate.
8. true.
9. true.
10. true.
11. true.
12. true. bad examples. bad dog. ruff.
13. uh...women are not the owners of using sex for punishment or revenge. This was the worst put point.
14. true.
15. so true.
Priddy, it is a privilege and an inspiration to debate and discuss with you, and to learn from you. I love your list. I don't understand your problem with #13 but maybe it's personal. My experience and stories from older women have pointed to women as typical withholders. But whatever, times change. And nobody should withhold.

I've been happily married 26 years, there must be some karma in our 10 year spread. I wish you as much joy and love and uh, learning levels (i.e. fair fights) and daily happiness as we've had and plan to continue.

People are already listening to you. I know I am. Please keep talking. I not only like you, I'm so impressed I want to know you better.
ktm, thank you for a thoughtful and thought-provoking message, especially since we are in the same checkbox. I need to follow your example to listen more and talk less... though you might have guessed that's hard for me. But I've enjoyed listening to many on this interesting journey, especially including you. Geminis rock And roll.
My problem with 13 is multi-layered.
And this is more than anyone would really want to know about it!

The admonitions to ladies were very negatively toned, but to the men, positive.

The implication that we are ready for loding except in the dire hold of illness is out of date and out of touch. You can not want to have sex for many reasons, many of them occurring outside illness. And your willingness to engage should be based on desire, not obligation or the threat of infidelity if you don't, or that it is saturday, or that he is home with a hard-on and a twink in his eye. You might be tired, or worried about bills, or just off the phone with a relative, or tired. Did I mention tired? (I have a 3 year old)

Even young men should be afforded the benefit of the doubt. An erection is not always an Erection.

Men are not always ready. The older they get, the more this is true. The viagra revolution notwithstanding, men aren't slavering wolves always ready and eager for sex with the next image crossing their internal screens. They also have to want it. Viagra, bless its heart, has pointed out something about older men: they have to be in the mood as well. Just because you can make it hard doesn't mean you want to un-make it.

(And if it lasts all're doing it wrong!)

Which brings it back around to the first objection. Just because I can lube up and take it doesn't mean I want to.

People need to be motivated for sex by desire. You have to want to be desired. You both have to make the effort in your appearance and hygeine and comportment.

If you hate the sight of tighty whiteys because it makes you feel like you are being approached by a child for sex, mention it. Buy him some other underwear. Not "sexy" underwear, but just some attractive ones that give him a better chance of looking good as he switches out of his work clothes.

And you do the same. Get rid of the MOM underwear and have some kind of awareness of how you look as you change. With crossed schedules, you might not even see each other in the morning, but a brief glimpse of your intended could ignite a spark or quench a flame, depending on how you look. That requires planning.

The sexiest opportune times at my house are the glimpses from down the hall as I spy on him changing. Cause he has nice underpants. Cause I got him to switch. I haven't seen the dreaded white briefs in years, but I had to ask, and find some comfortable ones to replace them.

Men and women should remember that assuming fidelity, you are the only person your partner has to have sex with. That being the case and mutually agreed upon, you are now responsible to be available, desirable, and willing to please on a regular schedule with a mindfulness of distance between events.

And once that is the arrangement, the persistent denials should go away. And good sex will be had by all.
Priddy, thank you for a very wise and logical overview of a real life, hopefully monogamous, successful sexual relationship. We can all learn from your suggestions and counter-suggestions.

But I have to ask, it possible you read more vitriol or pressure or anger into my own comments to men and women than I wrote? Obviously, as I've said, generational humor doesn't always translate. But maybe I just didn't make my point clearly enough. So please hear me now: NEITHER partner should EVER use sex as a bargaining chip. Both partners should treat each other with love and respect and as much passion as possible when BOTH agree it's time for passion. And sometimes, let's face it, partners give unbegrudging pleasure simply from love even if they're really not in the mood.

Finally, after 26 years of marriage, I can attest that everything old can become new again if you're both committed to compromise, exploration and fun.
I think I bought into the whole idea of Cosmo's "how to trap yourself a man" thing when I was 16 and stayed in a very bad
relationship for 2 years. Bad sex, bad sexist treatment.

Then I grew up and got a real man.

I may have a hypersensitive ear forthis stuff. I think you have me there!

And a belated Happy Birthday!
Ms Priddy, you quite simply Rock. So there. :)
#13 is the number that put me off the whole post. That's *MY* own issue, but the issue with #13 is real.

" but I firmly believe that good sex is ultimately the woman's responsibility. " Wow. And wow again. And..WHAT???????? It takes 2 people to have sex. It takes 2 people to have good sex. It is not ultimately the woman's or the man's responsibility. Both have equal responsibility.

"And women who withhold sex as punishment or revenge (or any damn reason at all save genuine illness) are stone idiots."
The idea that women wiithold sex is somewhat sterotypical. I know it's a trope that women do this..but I never have, and I don't know any woman who has. I know women who don't want to have sex because they are tired from a full time job plus handling more than half of the household and childrearing responsibilities - but not because they are 'punishing' anyone. All of these reasons are legitimate reasons to not be in the mood for sex - illness isn't the only reason.

A woman, or man, who is consistently not in the mood has to take responsibility to do something about it - if that means talking to the spouse about taking on more hh tasks, then do so. If that means doing something about poor body image or low libido, then do so. Good sex is the responsibility of both people....but that doesn't mean that there is a guarantee of a consistent flow of good sex at all times. Both have to work at it.

"Ladies: no thinking about new wallpaper or carpool schedules. No enduring. No making him ask/beg. And no faking. Figure yourself out. Help him figure you out..Men: no thinking about baseball stats or the Victoria's Secret catalog. "

Certainly women are coming off more negatively than men in these comments. And again - while this old stereotype might have *some* truth, the reality is, many many women have higher libidos than their partners. I was in a sexless relationship because of the low libido of my partner. I had to leave the relationship. It was a very difficult thing to do - but intimacy was and is too important to me to let that part of myself just starve and die. I have friends with similar issues. Mismatched libidos are a reality, and it's not always about the guy being hot to go while the woman 'endures' while making lists, not by a long shot.

And no - it is not true that women have 'no one to blame for bad sex but your own dumb self.' My bf just polled 5 friends on their sex lives. All were between ages 38 and 45. All admitted to their sessions (so to speak) lasting 10 minutes or less with the feeling "why does it need to go on longer? that's alll the time it takes me to get off!" None of them perform oral sex (but all expect to be the recipient of it) As for more creative sex play - forget it. I can't imagine all of their wives are totally happy with this situation - my own past suggests at lease one or two of them are choosing to deal with it because of other good parts of the partnership.

All by way of saying - bad sex is sometimes the product of a guy who is a bad lover, whether because he is selfish, clueless, whatever. And not all guys are open to be instructed how to become a better lover. Some guys just don't get it and don't want to get it. This part of the post didn't seem to make any room for that reality.

Finally - you start #13 with the comment "I may take some hits here". Based on this thread I kindly, smilingly suggest that you seemed to understand this in theory, but less so in practice. You did take some hits but pretty consistently if not strenuously objected to them. No fair not playing by your own rules!

I do realize you made this post in good fun. That you didn't intend to offend, that any stereotypes were either inadvertent or being presented in what you thought was a satirical vs. harsh way. But the thing is - it's not just a 'generational thing' to object to someone scolding me that I shouldn't endure sex or fake my orgasms or avoid sex. I don't do those things, never have, but because of sexism it's just assumed that if anyone's doing it, it's me, and not the man. I've been with men who are selfish lovers, cluelesee lovers, and interested in having sex about once per year. I have a number of friends who have had the same experiences with men. And yet these realities continue to exist under the radar, ignored because the old tropes of women making lists during sex is just more fun.....the result being that women continue to bear the burden of negative assumptions about partnered sex life.

ePriddy's comment that sometimes, you have to stop using the words that perpetuate these stereotypes is spot on. Words have power - the power to keep things as they are, or the power to change them. Both can be done with humor.
Sandra, did you read my penultimate reply to Priddy? Perhaps will shed some light. I'm way glad you don't endure or fake, but far too many women do. Yes, plenty of men are bad lovers, but I maintain smart women have much to teach them, and should certainly try if they seek pleasure for themselves. You're right, some men don't or won't try, their loss.

Btw, when I said I might take some hits, I never said I wouldn't hit back... :) Though some are phrased as such, I don't take these comments personally. I learn from some. We all learn --and raise the discussion above the radar-- from this fascinating and passionate exchange.
Sheesh. Fifteen things to remember?

Can we go back to the days where men just bonked women on the head and dragged them by their hair back to our cave?

From my experience, most problems happen because couples do not understand the difference between goals and desires. Any goal requiring other people to participate will most likely end in frustration and are not goals but desires. You may "desire" a closer relationship with your spouse, but you cannot set a goal to have a close relationship. To make this a goal requires both parties to agree not just one member.

Now if your desire is to have a closer relationship, you can set a personal goal to change yourself. For example if you are quick to anger or critical of your spouse, you can set a goal to be more understanding and deal with your anger. If you are a poor listener then you can set a goal to learn to listen. Those only require your participation.

If you become a more loving, listening and up lifting spouse, those things tend to make you more appealing to your spouse. It is not a guarantee, but it will make you a better person and those qualities are usually found in a close relationship.