Jesse Bering, author of “Why is the Penis Shaped like That?” gamely tossed around some ideas: “First, I’d be willing to bet that nearly all such phallic graffiti were by male hands. I can’t imagine girls/women scribbling naughty images of penises to the extent that boys/men seem preoccupied with doing so. If one wants to get a bit Freudian, perhaps it’s a way of making public what one isn’t allowed to show in public otherwise, a sort of symbolic “unzipping” which may bring some catharsis. It’s exhibitionism but not quite exhibitionism, if you catch my drift.”
“My first instinct is say that the dick joke never goes out of style — especially for adolescent males,” Nando Pelusi told me. He is a contributing editor at Psychology Today and a clinical psychologist specializing in cognitive behavior therapy was willing to take a swing at this too.
“Pubertal male primates show their genitalia only after status has been achieved through either brute strength or brains,” he said. “In fact genitalia get attacked directly by male primates defending their territory from intruders, because the penis is the locus of competition. Status, for humans and other primates, means access to mates, a very competitive thing.”
Psychologist Nando Pelusi: “Few people are indifferent to an erect penis, because it is either a challenge, or come-on, or declaration of status.”
“In an anonymous context, like most graffiti in the modern world, a drawing of a dick is a proximate way of signaling in a manner that is not easily ignored something that most males wouldn’t do publicly (at least from an evolutionarily relevant point of view) because it would get called out or punished.”
“Usually, penises get covered or sheathed, otherwise males tend to feel very self-conscious; I think that shame evolved as adaptation to social forces that had real consequences for most of human history where punishment and group cohesion could mean life or death, especially for males establishing their status, so graffiti is usually done secretly and anonymously. Few people are indifferent to an erect penis, because it is either a challenge, or come-on, or declaration of status. Males do most graffiti, and pubertal males are most interested in their newfound obsessions; anything relating to status, making your mark — sometimes literally.”
“Males compete for females, and the erect penis is a flag that gets unfurled only when you’re very confident — unless it’s done with a crayon late at night (what we might call the “pussy’s” way out).”Stephen Totilo, Why Do People Love to Draw Dicks In Games? An Investigative Report
I feel like our culture, as a movement, has come to revolve around either the memoir or the closet, after work in the sex trades. You can make a career transition without hiding your past or living in it, and that might be the best legacy of all: to show that one can treat work in the sexual spheres just like any other job, and do what’s right for you and your path while honoring the one you once walked.
I would love it if we stopped looking at leaving sex work as an eventuality, the beginnings of a ‘real career,’ a victory for someone else, or an admission of defeat and simply saw it as switching jobs. There’s a lot of unneeded pressure on our colleagues to remain in the profession as a fighter or to leave it as a victim. It’s work, and when it no longer fits and our larger work takes us elsewhere we should listen.Sabrina Morgan
There’s a lot of pressure to assume that sex work is so intrinsically demeaning that nobody would do it unless they were forcibly coerced into it. But we rarely apply this same logic to other kinds of work. How many people would take jobs in the lower rungs of the food service industry, or as unskilled laborers, or as janitors, if they had the full freedom to choose their work? No less than sex workers, they are earning with their bodies, as well as their energy and their time. Many people labor in hazardous conditions, or work absurd hours, or in work which they hate utterly, because quite simply they need the money.
When we make an artificial distinction between sex work and other kinds of work, we start to assume that sex workers have it much worse than everyone else – which both leads us to ignore the real problems of workers as a whole, and to assume that the sex workers are either being coerced (and passing laws which assume that!) or are evil people. (And passing laws which assume that!)
None of these things are true. Some people are most certainly coerced into sex work; some people are not. Some people are most certainly coerced into factory work; some people are not. If we begin our discussions of the quality of life of workers by separating them into the “good” workers and the “bad” ones, based on their trade or the language they speak, we’re setting up false divisions among ourselves.
Rather, we should think about work as work: Are the conditions equitable? Do the workers have sufficient economic power, either singly or in organizations, to meaningfully negotiate with the people they work with so that the economic assumption that work is a contract freely entered into is true? Are there circumstances creating wage pressures that force large swaths of the population into poverty and peonage, no matter how hard they work?
These are questions that matter. Sex workers are workers just like everybody else; we shouldn’t treat them as though they’re foreign and different.Yonatan Zunger, https://plus.google.com/103389452828130864950/posts/Ky2ZuHfbqLK
November 9, 1938
I’ve read the story carefully and, Frances, I’m afraid the price for doing professional work is a good deal higher than you are prepared to pay at present. You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner. This is especially true when you begin to write, when you have not yet developed the tricks of interesting people on paper, when you have none of the technique which it takes time to learn. When, in short, you have only your emotions to sell.
This is the experience of all writers. It was necessary for Dickens to put into Oliver Twist the child’s passionate resentment at being abused and starved that had haunted his whole childhood. Ernest Hemingway’s first stories “In Our Time” went right down to the bottom of all that he had ever felt and known. In “This Side of Paradise” I wrote about a love affair that was still bleeding as fresh as the skin wound on a haemophile.
The amateur, seeing how the professional having learned all that he’ll ever learn about writing can take a trivial thing such as the most superficial reactions of three uncharacterized girls and make it witty and charming—the amateur thinks he or she can do the same. But the amateur can only realize his ability to transfer his emotions to another person by some such desperate and radical expedient as tearing your first tragic love story out of your heart and putting it on pages for people to see.
That, anyhow, is the price of admission. Whether you are prepared to pay it or, whether it coincides or conflicts with your attitude on what is “nice” is something for you to decide. But literature, even light literature, will accept nothing less from the neophyte. It is one of those professions that wants the “works.” You wouldn’t be interested in a soldier who was only a little brave.
In the light of this, it doesn’t seem worth while to analyze why this story isn’t saleable but I am too fond of you to kid you along about it, as one tends to do at my age. If you ever decide to tell your stories, no one would be more interested than,
Your old friend,
F. Scott Fitzgerald
P.S. I might say that the writing is smooth and agreeable and some of the pages very apt and charming. You have talent—which is the equivalent of a soldier having the right physical qualifications for entering West Point.F. Scott Fitzgerald in response to Frances Turnbull, who had sent him some of her work to review. F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters; via Letters of Note (via approximation)
Andrew, as you know, the issue you raise is one that I’ve thought about for years. Even though my job puts me in the public eye, I have tried to maintain some level of privacy in my life. Part of that has been for purely personal reasons. I think most people want some privacy for themselves and the people they are close to.
But I’ve also wanted to retain some privacy for professional reasons. Since I started as a reporter in war zones 20 years ago, I’ve often found myself in some very dangerous places. For my safety and the safety of those I work with, I try to blend in as much as possible, and prefer to stick to my job of telling other people’s stories, and not my own. I have found that sometimes the less an interview subject knows about me, the better I can safely and effectively do my job as a journalist.
I’ve always believed that who a reporter votes for, what religion they are, who they love, should not be something they have to discuss publicly. As long as a journalist shows fairness and honesty in his or her work, their private life shouldn’t matter. I’ve stuck to those principles for my entire professional career, even when I’ve been directly asked “the gay question,” which happens occasionally. I did not address my sexual orientation in the memoir I wrote several years ago because it was a book focused on war, disasters, loss and survival. I didn’t set out to write about other aspects of my life.
Recently, however, I’ve begun to consider whether the unintended outcomes of maintaining my privacy outweigh personal and professional principle. It’s become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something — something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true.
I’ve also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible. There continue to be far too many incidences of bullying of young people, as well as discrimination and violence against people of all ages, based on their sexual orientation, and I believe there is value in making clear where I stand.
The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud.
I have always been very open and honest about this part of my life with my friends, my family, and my colleagues. In a perfect world, I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business, but I do think there is value in standing up and being counted. I’m not an activist, but I am a human being and I don’t give that up by being a journalist.
Since my early days as a reporter, I have worked hard to accurately and fairly portray gay and lesbian people in the media - and to fairly and accurately portray those who for whatever reason disapprove of them. It is not part of my job to push an agenda, but rather to be relentlessly honest in everything I see, say and do. I’ve never wanted to be any kind of reporter other than a good one, and I do not desire to promote any cause other than the truth.
Being a journalist, traveling to remote places, trying to understand people from all walks of life, telling their stories, has been the greatest joy of my professional career, and I hope to continue doing it for a long time to come. But while I feel very blessed to have had so many opportunities as a journalist, I am also blessed far beyond having a great career.
I love, and I am loved.
In my opinion, the ability to love another person is one of God’s greatest gifts, and I thank God every day for enabling me to give and share love with the people in my life. I appreciate your asking me to weigh in on this, and I would be happy for you to share my thoughts with your readers. I still consider myself a reserved person and I hope this doesn’t mean an end to a small amount of personal space. But I do think visibility is important, more important than preserving my reporter’s shield of privacy.Anderson Cooper in a letter to Andrew Sullivan, published on the Daily Beast, July 02, 2012
Wanting to feel beautiful does not make you a bad feminist or a bad woman. It does not mean that you are being oppressed or that you lack the ability to think for yourself. Wanting to adorn ourselves is natural & normal — very few of us live in houses that are all function & no form, & while we COULD all drive boxy Volvos, the truth is that most of us are attracted to beauty — however we choose to define it.
This whole idea that we should all look the same, that we should make no attempt to differentiate ourselves, that it’s “shallow” to give a moment of consideration to your appearance, is extremely outdated. Of course, balance is essential. If all you care about is how you look to the exclusion of everything else, you will probably become some kind of superficial monster — but I don’t think that’s even a possibility for most of us!
I also don’t believe that policing other womens’ choices moves any of us forward. In fact, I have seen over & over again that most of those people who are obsessed with other peoples’ choices, are usually trying to avoid having to take responsibility for their own lives.
I think this idea that “real” feminism has to be austere & minimalist, that you should dress down & not make a spectacle of yourself, is total bullshit — & just as oppressive as what we all say we’re against. If you want to wear high heels, DO IT, but do it for yourself, not for anyone else.Gala Darling, Am I a Hypocrite for Professing Radical Self-Love while Wearing 5-Inch Heels?
I live in a bizarre satire where corporations are people, pepper spray is a condiment and hoodies constitute probable cause.— A.V. Flox (@avflox) March 23, 2012