May 25

Women With Guns

James Rummel why men keep teaching women to shoot, despite the fact that they tend to outdo us at this manly pursuit.

As a man who makes something of a hobby of teaching woman to shoot, I can answer in two ways:

One: Women need to learn to shoot more than men do. Men have a 2:1 advantage in upper-body strength over women. Most criminal assailants are men. While we Y-chromosome types have a fair chance of fighting the average assailant off without technological help, women do not. I teach women to shoot on the principle that the only good rapist is a dead one.

Two: A pretty woman with a gun in her hand is way sexier than one without. Why this is I don’t know, but I do know that I am far from the only male with this reaction. There was that legendary video of bikini-clad models firing automatic weapons…

Which reason is more important? Let’s just observe that all interesting behavior is overdetermined and leave it at that.

May 25

Women With Guns

James Rummel

asks
why men keep teaching women to shoot, despite the fact
that they tend to outdo us at this manly pursuit.

As a man who makes something of a hobby of teaching woman to shoot, I can answer in two ways:

One: Women need to learn to shoot more than men do. Men
have a 2:1 advantage in upper-body strength over women. Most
criminal assailants are men. While we Y-chromosome types have a fair
chance of fighting the average assailant off without technological help,
women do not. I teach women to shoot on the principle that the
only good rapist is a dead one.

Two: A pretty woman with a gun in her hand is way sexier than
one without. Why this is I don’t know, but I do know that I am far
from the only male with this reaction. There was that legendary video
of bikini-clad models firing automatic weapons…

Which reason is more important? Let’s just observe that all
interesting behavior is overdetermined and leave it at that.

May 25

Sexual Competence

Most of the participants in the recent blogospheric
mini-flap
about a Yale Press Daily article on the fine points of
fellatio
either make crude jokes, dismiss the article as either a sophomoric
exercise in tweak-the-fogies or shocking evidence of the depravity of
today’s youth.

I think both are missing the real point. Well, OK, the
tweak-the-fogies camp is not completely off base, but there is
something the Natalie Krinsky who wrote this item of tweakery
understands that they don’t seem to. And that is this: today,
sexual competence is a mainstream virtue — part of the
normal toolkit of adults, like table manners or choosing appropriate
clothes.

And by “sexual competence” I specifically do not mean just the
ability to get laid, but being good in bed once you get there. Sexual
competence includes the ability to give and receive sexual pleasure.
It includes the ability to express one’s playfulness, affection, lust,
passion, and love towards a sexual partner with physical acts; to give
pleasure with behavior that is considered, purposed, and conscious,
and which expresses pride in and enjoyment of one’s own sexual
nature.

In the dark and backward abysm of time (that is, before about
1973), nice people weren’t really supposed to work at being
good in bed. Only prostitutes, gigolos and sex symbols were allowed
the privilege of treating sex as a conscious art of pleasure.
Everybody else was, essentially, only allowed to be good in bed only
by accident of endowment.

There was a limited exception for married couples and other people
passionately in love. They were permitted to improve their sexual
competence as long as the goal was to affirm the relationship. The
idea that competence at giving sexual pleasure could be a good in
itself, even in a one-night stand, was simply not part of our culture.
The outraged critics of Ms. Krinsky’s article seem still to be living in
that world.

But the reality around them has changed. Alex Comfort’s The
Joy of Sex
was probably the breakthrough, nearly thirty years
ago now. Today’s college kids have grown up in an environment in
which questions of sexual competence (and expectations about it) go
way beyond “will-she/won’t-she?” and “can he avoid coming too soon if
she does?”.

Today, even teenage boys and girls expect each other to cultivate
sexual competence; those who don’t are simply not competitive in the
dating-and-mating game. Ms. Krinsky’s article may have been intended
to tweak the fogies — but it also describes learning behavior that is
perfectly adaptive for today’s environment, because oral sex is a
gateway behavior for the aspiring hedonist.

That is, learning how to give good head is usually the first
pleasure-giving behavior in sex that is not a straight-line
elaboration of instinct. Kissing, caressing, and intercourse are
wired in; one can refine technique, but the behavioral basis is
already present. Oral sex is the usually the first behavior sexual
hedonists acquire that has to be completely learned.

A significant and related fact is that taking pleasure
from giving head has to be learned, by a kind of transference from the
pleasure taken by one’s partner. Experienced fellatrices and
cunnilinguists may learn to take direct sensual pleasure in the act,
but that usually follows from and is conditioned in by the
transference effect rather than leading it. Thus, for beginners,
giving oral sex is a particularly unselfish and adult skill.

Finally, for most pairs of partners oral sex is the most important
method of orgasmic gratification other than vaginal intercourse. So
learning to give good head is not just a gateway behavior, it’s one
that tends to remain central in the adult repertoire.

Therefore, a teenage girl teaching herself how to give a good
blowjob is not merely learning how to give a blowjob. She is
declaring her intention to acquire the (now mainstream) virtue of
sexual competence. She is matter-of-factly reaching not just for a
particular skill that she knows will be expected of her as an adult,
but to learn the attitude and sensitivity that will take her
further on the path of sexual ability. She is growing herself
up.

Looked at this way, it’s hard to see why anyone living in 2002
should find Ms. Krinsky’s report of her self-training exceptionable. One
might just as well object to her teaching herself how to cook, or drive,
or dance.

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