J.T. Benjamin

All Worked Up About Nature

“This thing, what is it in itself, in its own constitution? What is its substance and material? And what is its causal nature?”  The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius,  Book VIII, v. 11 George Long Translation.

True story.

Last month, my Lovely Wife had to have surgery.  (Nothing life-threatening, an outpatient procedure.  Thanks for asking).  A week before the big day, we were talking with a friend of ours, whom I’ll call “Carol.”  Carol, a sweet lady, volunteered to bring dinner for our family during my Lovely Wife’s convalescence, and the conversation ended up being about the procedure itself, and Carol asked my Lovely Wife if she was nervous.

My Lovely Wife answered, “No, not really.  My doctor seems to know what he’s doing.  I’m confident in him.”

I added, “Plus, she thinks he’s cute.”

My Lovely Wife turned three shades of crimson.  “What makes you say that,” she asked.

I responded, “You’re generally a very flirtatious person, but when you’re really attracted to a guy, you kick it up a notch or two.  Whenever you’re with Doctor Hottie, your flirt-o-meter goes into the red.”

My Lovely Wife had no answer for that, because she knew I spoke the truth.  We both turned to look at Carol, whose own cheeks were the full spectrum of red, pink, and crimson blush, and whose jaw was on the floor at what she’d just heard.

Carol spent a good fifteen seconds finding her voice.  “You think you’re doctor’s attractive?”

My Lovely Wife, facing one of those rare moments when I have her on the spot, gulped and nodded her head.

Carol said to me, “And you’re aware of this?”

I said, “I couldn’t not be aware; we’ve been married almost twenty years.”

Carol said, “I just can’t believe it!  It’s just so unnatural!”

I usually leap at the chance for a  spontaneous argument, but I opted not to that time.  As I said before, Carol is a sweet, generous lady, plus she makes a mean lasagna.  In addition, she gave me the idea for this month’s column, so I suppose I should return the favor and bring her family dinner sometime.

Anyway, part of the reason our friend Carol was so stunned by My Lovely Wife’s and my revelation is that for Carol, marriage is an institution deeply impacted by her religious faith and by that faith’s rules and traditions.  True marriage isn’t just a civil union until death do us part but it’s a bonding of two souls by God, for time and all eternity.  The husband has one role and the wife has another role, as defined by scripture and doctrine going back centuries.  An essential component of marriage through Carol’s eyes is absolute fidelity towards one another, as exemplified by The Gospel of Matthew 5:28, “whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

For poor Carol, the idea that 1) My Lovely Wife had eyes for Dr. Hottie, 2) that she expressed those feelings to me, AND 3) that I wasn’t going “Incredible Hulk” green with rage as a result were incomprehensible. We might as well have admitted to being Kenyan-born Muslim socialists advancing Obama’s secret agenda to undermine the United States from within.

For me, the standout word of the conversation was “unnatural.”  Carol had felt that My Lovely Wife’s and my conduct didn’t comport with the “natural” order of things.  There is a right form of marriage and a wrong form of marriage, and ours didn’t meet with what Carol considers the “right” or “natural” form of marriage.

I should add at this point that both Carol and her husband seem as perfectly happy in their marriage as my Lovely Wife and I are in our marriage, so the “Mind Your Own Business” streak in me is inclined to shrug my shoulders and say, “Hey.  What’s natural for them isn’t natural for us, and vice versa.  It’s no big deal either way.”

However, on a larger, societal, and even species-wide scale, the issue of “natural” and “unnatural” interpersonal relationships has profound applications.

Throughout most of human history, the concept of marriage (as attested to by our friend Carol), has been that of one-man/one-woman, in a bonding that exists for life.  “’Til death do us part.”  My friend Carol (and most other otherwise sensible people) can therefore make the strong case that the one-man/one-woman lifetime relationship model is and always has been the “natural” model, and that correspondingly, any other type of interpersonal relationship is therefore “unnatural” and should likewise be discouraged.

For example, one of the most popular arguments against gay marriage is that it deviates from the “natural” one-man/one-woman model, making it easier to justify opposition.  Other relationship and sexual practices which “deviate” from the “natural” order of things, and which likewise justify opposition or suppression, include multiple sexual partners (or sexual promiscuity), polyamory (multiple love interests), and polygamy, (multiple spouses).  While certain societies have sporadically allowed polygamy, for the most part those arrangements have been among the upper classes, and virtually all have been harem-like one-man/multiple wife arrangements.

However, what if information came to light that the monogamy model wasn’t so natural after all?  What if it turned out that human beings, through biology, sociology, or both, were geared not so much for the aforementioned “one-man/one-woman-til-death-do-us-part” model, but that the “natural” order of things was in fact geared toward us having multiple sexual partners?  Multiple short-term relationships?  Yes, even homosexuality?

Consider, for example, the bonobo chimpanzee, (Pan Paniscus), native to the Republic of the Congo.  Both the bonobo and the more common chimpanzee are the closest genetic relatives to Homo Sapiens.  Bonobos were discovered only in 1928, and they’ve fascinated zoologists ever since; they make tools, walk upright as much as 25% of the time, have narrow shoulders, larger female breasts and longer legs than the common chimp, so that they bear a stronger physical resemblance to human beings than do common chimps.

However, it’s the bonobo social structure that has zoologists (and human sociologists) in a tizzy.  Unlike virtually every other primate, (including humans), bonobo society is largely matriarchal.  Not only that, bonobos are the only primate species besides humans that has sexual intercourse primarily face-to-face instead of via rear entry.  Take a deep breath, because this is where it gets really freaky.  Bonobos are also the only primates besides humans that have sex at times other than when the female is ovulating.  That’s right, bonobos can and do have sex whenever they feel like it, not just to propagate the species.  And bonobos feel like having sex a lot.  In lots of ways.  They’ll do it rear entry, female on top, anally, orally, homosexually, and even in orgies.  Bonobos use sex to defuse tensions within groups and to resolve disputes.  A bonobo mother can count on several male members in her group to help provide food for her baby, in part because she might have had intercourse with as many as a dozen males the day that infant was conceived.  Scientist characterize bonobo groups (usually of between 100 and 150 individuals) as being “extraordinarily peaceful” and an embodiment of the “make love not war” approach to societal living.

As astounding as the biological and sociological implications of bonobo behavior may be, the theological implications may be even more profound.  If homosexuality, for example, is an “unnatural act,” yet in the “natural world” of the bonobo (among other species) it occurs all the time, is it possible that maybe homosexuality isn’t so “unnatural” after all?  And what of the bonobo’s immortal soul, if it has one?  If homosexuality is still a sin, can the bonobo be punished for committing such a sinful act?

A reader named “Wes” at “Psychology Today’s” website blog, (full article is here: www.psychologytoday.com) who happens to be a Baptist minister in North Carolina weighed that question very carefully. Quoting Wes: “(H)omosexuality is a sin…but animals don’t sin…they don’t do righteous or unrighteous acts.  So…what am I to make of these animals that engage in homosexual activity?  It seems to me that this behavior reveals a sense of brokenness in the natural world….just as natural disasters aren’t normative, neither is homosexual activity within animals.  The creation itself is marred with the effects of sin (i.e. death).

A thoughtful, contemplative answer to be sure, but nevertheless confusing.  “A sense of brokenness?”  The natural world is itself…unnatural?

Call me crazy but for me the natural thing to do is to be open to the possibility that “nature,” like every other element of the human experience, needs to be constantly re-evaluated and possibly re-defined.  Whether we’re more like the hypersexual bonobo or more like fallen angels, at the very least we owe it to ourselves to consider the possibility that maybe our natural state isn’t quite what we’ve always imagined it to be.

By the way, my Lovely Wife’s surgery went just fine, thanks.  In fact, while she was being prepped, my Lovely Wife and one of the nurses spent several moments in good spirits, commenting on how Dr. Hottie managed to surround himself with equally-attractive interns such as Dr. Sixpack-Abs, Dr. Tight-buns, and the med student Dr. Bedroom-eyes.

At one point, another person walked by the examination room and my Lovely Wife asked, “Who was that?”

The nurse asked, “Who was who?  I didn’t see.”

I said, “You mean the hot-looking brunette with the spiked heels and the black skirt slit up the thigh and the tight short-sleeve blouse with the plunging neckline and the 36DD breasts in the black lace Victoria’s Secret push-up bra?  Probably a drug rep.”

The nurse asked, “How’d you notice all that?  She passed by the doorway and was gone in less than a second.”

I said, “Hey.  You’ve got your natural impulses.  I’ve got mine.”

P.S.  For a far more effective and scholarly examination of the “natural” state of human (and bonobo) sexuality, may I again recommend Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha, published by Harper Collins. [see Rob Hardy’s excellent review of Sex at Dawn]  If you decide to buy this excellent book via Amazon, please do so through the link provided. Doing so allows ERWA to have a cut of the take, helping to keep this excellent website going.  Thanks.

J.T. Benjamin
October 2010

“All Worked Up” © 2010 J.T. Benjamin. All rights reserved.

All Worked Up about What’s Next

If I had a quarter for every time I got into a discussion about gay marriage over the past ten years or so…I’d have lots and lots of quarters. It’s been one of the hottest hot-button issues over the past decade, and I’ve gotten into it with everyone from the editorial board of the local daily rag to elected officials to my brother-in-law to passersby on the street. I’m talking about lots and LOTS of quarters.

Invariably, for me the discussion comes down to one central issue. I say, “Give me one GOOD reason to deprive homosexuals of the same marriage and property rights that heterosexuals enjoy.”

Just as invariably, I hear about how gay marriage would damage “the sanctity of marriage” or of how straight marriage is the best way to raise children or about how homosexuality is immoral and against God’s wishes and all that, and when they’ve spoken their piece I respond with, “No, I said give me one GOOD reason.”

You see, every popular argument against gay marriage is so flimsy and weak and unimaginative that I can easily respond with stirring and logically coherent counter-arguments that whiz past them like a Serena Williams forehand. They refer to the “sanctity of marriage” and I respond with the fact that marriage is and always has been a property contract; there’s nothing “sanctified” about the distribution of property. I can reference half a dozen sociological studies which show that children of gay relationships are typically just as well-adjusted as children of traditional male-female relationships. When the other side brings up God’s disapproval, I respond with a long list of other things of which God disapproves, from women dressing as men to dietary rules to violations which warrant the death penalty, such as marrying outside one’s faith, working on the Sabbath and talking back to one’s father or mother.

In fact, I’ve spent so much time studying and dissecting arguments for and against gay marriage I think I ought to be a spokesman, or at least a Fox News talking head. Come to think of it, if instead of receiving quarters for every time I discussed gay marriage I got a hundred dollar bill, I’d really be raking it in.

I bring all this up because, if you’ve been living under a rock the past month or so, I should mention that the gay marriage debate has taken a seriously dramatic turn. I’m talking about California’s Proposition 8.

In case you’ve been living under that aforementioned rock for not just the past month, but for the past couple of years or so, let me sum up.

In early 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that the state’s prohibition against gay marriage violated the state constitution, thus enabling homosexuals to join each other in holy matrimony. Predictably enough, the homophobic sticks-up-their-asses crowd hit the roof at the idea that consenting adults were going to marry whomever they wanted, and a campaign was launched to amend the California Constitution to repeal the Supreme Court’s decision and re-illegalize gay marriage. The ballot initiative was called “Proposition 8” and, to national attention, the initiative passed in November, 2008.

Gay marriage supporters of course appealed, and the case was heard in the latter part of January of this year by the Honorable Vaughn Walker of the U.S. Court for the Northern District of California. Judge Walker issued his ruling on August 4.

In a nutshell, Judge Walker ruled that Proposition 8 was and is unconstitutional, on a wide variety of grounds. To deprive homosexuals of the right to marry, Judge Walker concluded, was a deprivation of their fundamental rights. It was considered a landmark ruling.

What does it mean?

In the short term, nothing at all. Immediately after issuing the ruling, Judge Walker issued a stay of the order repealing Proposition 8, a stay which has, as of this writing, been continued until December to allow Prop. 8 proponents time to file with the U.S. Court of Appeals. In other words, while Judge Walker has concluded that homosexuals should have the right to marry, he’s not giving them that right until after Prop. 8 supporters have the chance to appeal to the next level.

And what is that, you may ask.

The next step is the United States Court of Appeals, which should hear the case and issue a ruling sometime in the next eighteen months or so. After that, the loser of the appeal will surely file another appeal with the United States Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court decides to hear the case quickly, they might do so by the fall of 2012 and issue a ruling sometime in the spring of 2013. MAYBE in three years, the matter will be settled. Maybe.

What does Judge Walker’s ruling mean in the long term? In the long term, the effects are profound; explosive; even, dare I say, earth-shattering. Speaking as a law geek and a political science geek, and having read the 136-page opinion several times over, I have to confess that Judge Walker has raised the bar when it comes to issues in the gay marriage debate.

Here’s what it boils down to. This case, dubbed “Perry v. Schwartznegger,” is unique compared to the many, many other gay-marriage court cases that have been weaving through the various jurisdictions of the American legal system over the last dozen years or so.

First, “Perry v. Schwartznegger” is a Federal case, applying Federal law; that is, the U.S. Constitution. Until now, every gay marriage case litigated across the country has been applying the law of the state in which the case was brought. A decision issued in compliance with the New York constitution applies only to New York. A decision issued in compliance with the Florida constitution applies only to Florida. When Massachusetts declared gay marriage legal, the ruling applied only to Massachusetts. Judge Walker’s ruling, applying Federal law, crosses state boundaries. If, as is expected, the U.S. Supreme Court hears the case and issues a ruling, that ruling must be followed by every state in the Union. The idea that a gay marriage made in Iowa can’t be acknowledged in Texas will be gone by the wayside. The Court’s decision will be applicable in all fifty states. Without question.

Secondly, Judge Walker issued his ruling as a trier of fact. That means that he sat in the position of a jury; he heard evidence, he weighed credibility of testimony, he considered the validity of every argument made. This is significant because one of the fundamental principles of American jurisprudence is that appeals courts can’t make decisions based upon factual evidence; only upon the applicable law. The U.S. Court of Appeals can’t consider whether this witness or that bit of testimony was as believable as Judge Walker thought it might be. The Court of Appeals (and the Supreme Court) can only consider whether Judge Walker applied the law in an inappropriate fashion.

Thirdly, and this is most important, Judge Walker heard every conceivable argument against gay marriage and, in his considered opinion, “Mene, mene, tekel upharsin.” (My humble apologies. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of the Old Testament.). For those not up on the Book of Daniel, the arguments against gay marriage have been weighed in the balance and have been found wanting.

Judge Walker’s decision considered every legitimate argument against gay marriage, and he, with the experience of more than thirty years on the Federal bench, concluded that those arguments just didn’t measure up.

The argument that children prosper most in a male-female household? No good. The evidence is contrary. The argument that traditional marriage must be preserved? Nope. There’s no legitimate state interest in preserving one form of relationship over another. The argument that God condemns gay relationships? Sorry. Moral objection alone cannot justify the deprivation of equal protection under the law.

Ultimately, it comes down to one essential fact. Opponents of gay marriage can’t come up with one GOOD reason to deprive homosexuals of the right to marry.

So good to be proven right.

What’s next?

Hard to say. MAYBE the U.S. Supreme Court will issue a ruling by the spring of 2013. Currently, the best guess is that if the court’s composition doesn’t change between now and then, Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito will vote the neo-conservative line and rule against legalizing gay marriage. By the same token, Justices Ginsberg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan can reasonably be expected to rule in favor of gay marriage. Which leaves Justice Anthony Kennedy as the deciding vote.

Justice Kennedy was appointed by George H.W. Bush, so he’s considered a conservative. However, Justice Kennedy also wrote the majority opinion in two of the most pro-homosexual rulings of the past twenty years. It’s been observed by more than one commentator that Judge Walker’s decision seemed to be a letter directly to Justice Kennedy, explaining Judge Walker’s ruling in language Justice Kennedy himself has used in the past in his own rulings.

What’s next?

MAYBE the court’s lineup won’t change between now and 2013. MAYBE the breakdown of votes will shift. MAYBE somebody in the “nay” column will, after due reflection, change his mind.

In any event, it’s clear that Judge Walker’s ruling was anything but the last word on the subject.

Stay tuned.

J.T. Benjamin
September 2010

“All Worked Up” © 2010 J.T. Benjamin. All rights reserved.

Get All Worked Up about Monogamy

My Lovely Wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary last month.  Nineteen happy years of marriage to each other.  (At this point, if I were a comedian, I’d add that we’ve been married twenty-four years, but that little joke would earn me a sock on the arm and a night on the couch.  Since, as my Lovely Wife reminds me, I’m really NOT a comedian, I’ll just emphasize that yes, we’ve been married for only nineteen years, and all of them have been happy).

If you were to ask me the secret of our success, I’d have to honestly shrug my shoulders and say, “I dunno.”  We’ve been a fairly typical couple, with a fairly typical history together.  We met, fell in love, got married, and had four terrific kids together, in that order.  Fairly typical, right?


Just for kicks, my Lovely Wife and I made a list of twenty of our closest relatives and mutual friends.  We counted the number of divorces, co-habitation arrangements, children, step-children and children out of wedlock, and came up with some interesting numbers.  Of our list of twenty, sixteen of our friends and relatives have gone through at least one divorce, with an average among them of 1.75 divorces per.  Of that group of sixteen, twenty-seven of their forty-eight children were born outside the relationship, or 56.2%.  This includes children of a previous relationship, step-children, or children otherwise born out of wedlock.

Of the other four couples on the list, one couple admits the marriage is over for all intents and purposes, and that they’re staying together for the kids.  A second couple is still together, but they had a rocky patch where the husband couldn’t keep his dick in his own pants.  That leaves two of twenty whose relationship fits the same category as that of my Lovely Wife and myself, where they’ve stayed married to each other, had children with each other after the marriage, and no ending of the relationship is in sight.

“Fairly typical,” indeed.  Now that we think about it, My Lovely Wife’s and my relationship seems extremely atypical.  I won’t pretend that our little survey is in any way scientific, but we’re in the ten percent range.  I’m sure anyone out there who performed a similar little survey would find similar results.

From a more scientific perspective, as of 2008, 40% of all marriages in the U.S. are expected to end in divorce.  Similarly, 40% of all U.S. births since 2000 have been out of wedlock.

So…if a large portion my circle of friends doesn’t comply with the societal norm, does that mean my circle of friends is abnormal…or is the norm?

A new book, Sex at Dawn written by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha, (available, among other places, at Amazon, please buy through ERWA’s link, Sex at Dawn, thanks) brings up again the age-old debate about what is (or should be) man-and-womankind’s “natural” state when it comes to personal and sexual relationships.  Are we as human beings meant to be, like my wife and myself, plus a minority of our friends and relatives, monogamous, strictly devoted to one spouse until death us do part?  Or are we supposed to engage in the mating dance like most other creatures in nature, having multiple partners over the course of our lives?

On the one hand, pro-monogamy advocates argue that long-term, stable relationships provide the best opportunity for emotional and mental health, not just for the mating couple but for the children of that couple as well.  Monogamy also curbs the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, so physical health is also affected in a positive way.  In addition, most religious and moral belief systems are pro-monogamy and hey, if God says it must be so, it must be so, right?  (Never mind the fact that Abraham, Jacob, Muhammad, David, Solomon, Brigham Young, and many other religious leaders and patriarchs had multiple wives).

On the other hand, anti-monogamy advocates point to several pieces of biological and social data which indicate that a wide variety of sexual partners over the course of one’s life is good for  humankind because variation in sexual partners is critical to diversity of species, which is also critical to evolution.  Most living species on the planet, including virtually all of our primate cousins, for example, have many sexual partners.  Restricting ourselves to one mate for life is bad for the species, and it goes against nature.

Pro-monogamy advocates usually then claim that anti-monogamy advocates are really looking for rationalizations to commit adultery.  Anti-monogamy advocates then usually tell pro-monogamy advocates they’re living in a fantasyland if they think monogamy is the norm since virtually nobody practices it.  Pro-monogamy advocates then call the anti-monogamy advocates hippie degenerates, and the anti-monogamy advocates then call their opponents fascist assholes.  The debate usually collapses at that point.

The full implications of the nature of this debate are profound.  If polygamy (or at the very least, polyamory—multiple lovers), is wired into our DNA, maybe homosexuality is biological as well, and it’s pointless to try to legislate or moralize it out of existence.  One might as well try to restrict personal freedoms on the basis of skin or eye color, right?

But on the other hand, the one-partner single family unit has itself evolved over thousands of years of human development, hasn’t it?  Wouldn’t that indicate that man-and-womankind has benefitted from that arrangement?  That it works?  If, hypothetically, it was announced tomorrow that people could form sexual partnerships with whomever they want, whenever they want, wouldn’t that invite anarchy?  Are we prepared to take the risk that a complete restructuring of the family unit would have only beneficial consequences?  And what of love?  Wouldn’t a world which approves of multiple partners cheapen the idea that one person is devoted to one other person forever?

I have no answers to these questions other than those which are strictly anecdotal.  From a personal standpoint, I’m very much pro-monogamy in my own life.  I’ve got one wife, whom I love very much, and without whom I can’t imagine having a happy existence.  Likewise, I can’t imagine caring about another wife anywhere near as much as I care for Lovely Wife Number One.  That is, Number One-And-Only.

However, as my long list of non-monogamous friends and relatives indicates, I know many many people for whom monogamy hasn’t worked out; some are happier with their new life partners, (or without the burden of same), some are more unhappy.

Then, there are Fred and Wilma. (Not their real names).  They’re one of the two-couples-in-twenty I mentioned at the beginning of this column; one of those rare couples who met, got married, had kids, and have stayed together ever since; monogamy personified, right?  Well within the so-called norm of which society expects and approves.

Except Fred and Wilma happen to be swingers.  Every so often, they meet up with other like-minded couples, have a few drinks and some sparkling conversation, then they get naked and have casual, consensual sex with these other couples.  Are they being monogamous?

According to Fred and Wilma, absolutely!  They entered into the swinging “lifestyle” freely and without reservation.  They’re not interested in forming relationships with these other couples that go beyond a playful romp in the hay.  They have set up a strict set of rules about with whom they may hook up and what may be done, they never do anything without discussing it and coming to an agreement, and they’d never dream of going behind each other’s back with someone else.  They’re having sex with other people, they say, but they’re not cheating.  They’re not betraying the trust that exists between them in their marriage.

When I talked with Fred and Wilma about their relationship, they’re adamant that they consider themselves monogamous and faithful.  Wilma says, “There’s a difference between sex and a loving commitment to each other.  If we’re not considered monogamous because we’re having casual sex with other people, then that means that monogamy’s only about sex, and it doesn’t matter whether we love each other or not.”

Fred, the blunt one, says, “Piss on societal norms.  I don’t care what other people think a monogamous relationship should be, or even if it’s a good thing or not.  Wilma and I are happy with each other now, and that’s all I care about.  It’s nobody’s business but ours.”

Spoken like a true reader of this column.

Ultimately, the issue of whether we’re supposed to have a single partner for the rest of our lives, or whether we’re supposed to hop from bed to bed cannot be answered from a societal standpoint.  Monogamy appears to be one of those things that, like virtually every other aspect of human sexuality, must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  Some people are meant to be intimate with only one other person.  Some are meant not to be.  Different strokes for different folks.

As for my Lovely Wife and myself, you may be wondering if, despite all appearances, we ourselves comply with the societal norm.  We may appear to behave within the spectrum of appropriate behavior, but is there something that maybe I’m not disclosing about my relationship with my Lovely Wife?  Is there something in our marriage that indicates we’re not so much the (apparent) rule when it comes to monogamy, but in fact are part of the (apparent) exception?

Well, to quote my good friend Fred, that’s nobody’s business but ours, isn’t it?

J.T. Benjamin
August 2010

“All Worked Up” © 2010 J.T. Benjamin. All rights reserved.

All Worked Up about Making Sense of Religion

Anyone who reads this column and/or personally knows me knows I’m a student of world religions and faiths. That being said, I must also say that what frustrates me as a student of religions, is that of all the disciplines to be studied, religion is the only one where nothing ever really falls into place; there’s never really a moment of clarity and complete comprehension; when the little lightbulb turns on over one’s head and one says, “Ah. It all makes sense, now.” If you study physics or medicine or the law or Shakespeare or chess or Russian or the nuances of the “West Coast Offense,” when you’re first trying to make sense of it all, there’s nothing but confusion. However, study long enough and hard enough and with enough discipline, eventually all the pieces come into place, there’s a moment of sublime clarity, and the student says, “Ah, it all makes sense now.”

Not so with religion. At least, not so for me. Not yet.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t tried. I’ve read up on several theories not only about religions themselves, the origins and interpretations of various scriptures, the histories of the great world faiths, the various sociological and psychological purposes religions serve and how and why they might have come into being, those parts are making sense to me.

I’ve got a good idea about the various thought processes applied to religions throughout history; what I don’t get are the thought processes related to religious faith TODAY.

In the First Book of Kings, Chapter 7, verse 23, (and again in 2 Chronicles, 4:2, a cistern in King Solomon’s palace is described as being ten cubits across and thirty cubits around. That is, the cistern’s circumference is exactly three times its diameter. Now, any high school geometry teacher will tell you that when you measure any circular object anywhere in the universe the circumference is, was, and always will be 3.14159265 etc. etc. etc. times the object’s diameter. That inviolate, invincible, indestructible ratio is called “pi” after the Greek letter, and it’s the subject of endless fascination among mathematicians. But I digress. The point is, that anyone, upon reading that scripture, would logically conclude that either the writer made a mistake, the builders of the cistern made a mistake, or that someone, somewhere, made a mistake, and that the cistern’s circumference wasn’t really thirty cubits, but was instead 31.4169265 cubits around, because that’s what pi times the diameter of the cistern ought to be.

That is, unless you believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, without mistake, misinterpretation, or error of any kind. If that’s the case, then clearly, when the builders of the cistern measured its circumference, it was exactly thirty cubits around. I’ve had this argument with countless Holy Terrors, and their answer is always the same. No mistakes here. One particular young believer said to me, “I don’t know why you don’t get it! If the Bible says it was thirty cubits, it was thirty cubits! God can do anything!”

I bring all this up because this conflict between what appears to be simple common sense and rigid, religious dogma seems to strike to the very heart of every aspect of human life, including, not surprisingly, human sexuality.

Take, for example, masturbation. Throughout human history, masturbation has been considered one of the most evil and depraved human acts, the source of all manner of miseries, from blindness to hair in the palms of one’s hands to, even death according to the Book of Genesis, 37:8-10. “And Judah said unto Onan, “go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. And Onan knew that the seed should not be his, and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the Lord; wherefore He slew him also.”

Of course, in these more enlightened times, we have a more enlightened view of masturbation. It turns out that masturbation can reduce blood pressure and stress, the risk of prostate cancer in men, cervical infections in women, and even heart disease. Masturbation even, (get this) appears to increase fertility, especially in men. It seems that sperm have an expiration date, so jacking off on a regular basis apparently gets the stale product off the shelves so that it can be replaced by the fresh stock.

In light of all this scientific evidence of the benefits of masturbation, what are the positions of most of the world’s major faiths on the subject of tossing off for the sake of health, well-being, and fertility?

Roman Catholicism: Masturbation is “gravely disordered, as it frustrates the natural purposes and ends of sexuality,” Pope Paul VI, “Humanae Vitae,” 1968.

Ellen G. White, one of the founders of the Seventh Day Adventists, believed masturbation was a “solitary vice” which actually caused all manner of ailments, including but not limited to lung disease, cancer, insanity, and physical disfigurement.

Spencer W. Kimball of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, said masturbation is a form of “slavery to the flesh,” and “is not approved of by our Lord or by His Church.”

So, in light of all this scientific evidence about the benefits of masturbation, most world religions retain the same Dark-ages type mentality they’ve been practicing for centuries. This should not be a surprise. After having persecuted Galileo Galilei for supporting the theory that the earth revolves around the sun, it took the Catholics 500 years to say, “mea culpa.”

Pick virtually any element of human sexuality that doesn’t relate to procreation, from pornography and erotica to sex toys to homosexuality and gay marriage, for every study, article, or theory that sets forth the possibility that those elements are beneficial, (or at the very least, do no harm), you can bet that religious activists will be lined up around the block to oppose that element, if for no other stated reason than, “Because I said so!”

I bring all this up because exactly fifty years ago, in 1960, the birth control pill was introduced to the world. It’s no exaggeration to say that this event ranks up there with the right to vote as one of the most significant advancements in the history of women’s rights in the last thousand years. Freed from the risk of unwanted pregnancies, women found it easier to enter the workforce, obtain higher educations, and, yes, enjoy sex with more security and less risk. It’s no accident that the “sexual revolution” followed closely upon the heels of easy access to The Pill.

Of course, where sexuality is involved, so is religion. In his excellent article for the New Yorker, “John Rock’s Error,” Malcolm Gladwell documents the conflicts that Dr. Rock, inventor of the Pill, faced as he extolled the Pill’s benefits in light of the opposition of the Catholic Church, and of his own membership in that church. The upshot of the article, (which is excellent, by the way, find it here www.gladwell.com or in his most recent book, What the Dog Saw. Better yet, order What the Dog Saw through ERWA so our website benefits. Thanks)..where was I? Oh, yes. The upshot of the article is that Dr. Rock’s stated purpose in researching and developing the Pill was not only to curb unwanted pregnancies, but to generally improve the state of women’s health. Although hard numbers didn’t emerge for several years after 1960, it turns out that the Pill not only reduces the risk of complications stemming from pregnancies, but it reduces the risk of breast, ovarian and cervical cancer, not to mention the numerous discomforts and pain stemming from menstrual cycles.

It took the Catholic Church eight years to make up its mind about whether to support or condemn the birth control pill. Should the Church endorse the pill as a positive element of women’s health, or should the Church condemn the pill as something that interferes with the only appropriate use of sex, namely procreation?

Ultimately, the Catholic Church opted to oppose the use of not only the Pill, but any form of birth control other than the so-called “rhythm method.” This was announced in the aforementioned “Humanae Vitae” declaration by Pope Paul VI in 1968. While the document’s stated rationale for opposing birth control went on and on about acceptable and unacceptable purposes of intercourse, about the sanctity of human life and the objectives of procreation, at least some of the Church’s reasoning was more…pragmatic.

August Bernhard Hasler, in his book, “How The Pope Became Infallible, quoted a report to Pope Paul VI made by, among others, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, who later became Pope John Paul II. “If it should be declared that contraception is not evil in itself, then we should have to concede frankly that the Holy Spirit had been on the side of the Protestant churches…(which had supported birth control as early as in 1930)…It should likewise have to be admitted that for half a century the Spirit failed to protect…the Catholic hierarchy from a very serious error. This would mean that the leaders of the Church, acting with extreme imprudence, had condemned thousands of innocent human acts, forbidding, under pain of eternal damnation, a practice which would now be sanctioned.”

In other words, the Catholic Church was faced with the prospect of either 1) endorsing something with proven medical, social and economic benefits, in light of improved scientific evidence and advancement, or 2) rejecting that endorsement and maintaining the same cold, hard, rigid, inflexible position it had held for centuries. The Church hierarchy chose option 2 simply because choosing Option 1 meant ADMITTING THEY’D BEEN WRONG.

Ah. It all makes sense, now.

J.T. Benjamin
July 2010

“All Worked Up” © 2010 J.T. Benjamin. All rights reserved.

All Worked Up about Spirituality

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

One day during Sunday School, the teacher asks her students, “When someone goes to Heaven, which body part gets there first?”

Little Timmy raises his hand and says, “Your head, Teacher.”

The teacher says, “Interesting answer, Timmy. Why do you say that?”

Little Timmy says, “Because Heaven is up and so when people go up, they go head first so the head gets to Heaven first.”

The teacher says, “Very clever, Timmy. Does anyone else have an answer?”

Little Susie says, “I know, Teacher! Your hands go to Heaven first.”

The teacher says, “Why do you say that, Susie?”

Little Susie says, “Because when you pray you hold your hands out and put them together, so your hands are the first things to go up to Heaven, teacher.”

The teacher says, “Very interesting, Susie. Does anyone else have an answer?”

Little Dirty Johnny says, “I know, I know, Teacher! Your feet go to Heaven first, Teacher!”

The teacher says, “Why do you say that, Johnny?”

Little Dirty Johnny says, “Because, Teacher, I was hiding in my mommy’s closet watching her and the mailman on her bed and her feet were in the air and she was yelling, ‘Oh, God, I’m coming!’ and if the mailman wasn’t lying on top of her, she’d have floated up to Heaven right then and there!”

Thank you! Don’t forget to tip your waitresses!

Seriously, though, when you think about it, spirituality and sexuality really fit like a hand in a glove. Although, for that matter, the fit might be better described as being like a penis in a vagina, or if you prefer, a penis in a mouth, or a tongue on a clitoris, or a three-speed vibrating dildo in a…never mind. I’m getting distracted.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Sexuality and spirituality go together more easily than one might think.

Consider, for example, some of the terms used to describe both spiritual and sexual enjoyment: rapture, bliss, sublime pleasure, delight, high spirits, and so on.

Any student of comparative religions and mythologies can’t help but notice the essential role that sex plays in virtually every belief system known to mankind. Pick up any book of mythology and read about how this god fornicated with that goddess or this mortal and produced a great hero or a terrible villain and launched a thousand adventures. Babylonian myths, Chinese myths, Hindu myths, Japanese myths, Greco-Roman myths, Native American myths, and on and on and on.

I bring all this up for two reasons. First, this month’s theme on the ERWA email list is “Mythology,” and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the resulting mythologically themed stories that will appear in the July edition of ERWA’s erotica gallery. (Shameless plug, here).

Secondly, I’m discussing sexuality and spirituality this month because I got into it with one of my conservative friends a few weeks ago about the current state of sexual affairs (pun intended) that has been hitting the news recently.

We were discussing the Tiger Woods scandal and my friend (we’ll call him Mitch) said he approved of something FOX News commentator Brit Hume said last January. Namely, Mr. Hume said that Woods’ Buddhist faith was inadequate for him to adequately atone for his numerous infidelities. Mr. Hume said, “The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith. He is said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. My message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”

Mitch’s opinion was that Mr. Hume’s commentary was spot-on. Only Christianity would adequately address Mr. Woods’ sexual issues, or those of anyone who strayed because “only Christianity puts sexuality into its proper place.” That is, sexuality’s only proper role is to create families and to bring babies down from Heaven. Sex for anything other than procreation was, in Mitch’s opinion, abhorrent, and the Bible reflects that, he added.

To which I retorted, “Which Bible do you read?” The Bible is chock-full of sexy, lustful, carnal stories of every type in which reproduction plays no role whatsoever. David and Bathsheba. Tamar and Judah. Samson and Delilah.

“Yes,” said Mitch. “But all those stories are about physical lust. And people are punished for their lusts.”

“What about the Song of Songs,” I answered. “That one’s all about sex.”

“No it’s not,” said Mitch. “It’s describing the love God has for the Church.”


My friend was as serious as a heart attack. “The Song of Songs is a metaphorical love poem between the bridegroom, which is God, and the Church, which is His bride.”

I whipped out my copy of the King James Bible, which I keep handy for just such an eventuality. I said, “Seriously? Listen to some of this language. ‘1:13. A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; he shall lie all night between my breasts.’ 5:4. My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. 7:2. Thy navel is like a round goblet, which wanteth not liquor: thy belly is like a heap of wheat set about with lilies.'” I said, “This book is about sex. Two lovers are describing their feelings about each other. They’re talking about each other’s body and about how they look and feel and smell. If this is about how much God loves the Church, why does God bring up the Church’s breasts over and over and over? 4:5 ‘Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins.’

Mitch looked at me with thinly veiled disgust. “Leave it to you to find a way to put sex into everything.”

I said, “And leave it to you Holy Terrors to TAKE sex out of everything. This is a poem about two young people, in love and in lust for each other. They’re basking in each other’s presence, each drinking in the other’s sexual identity. This book is in the same vein as Romeo and Juliet’s conversations with each other.”

Mitch said, “If this book is about sex, then why is it in the Bible?” He folded his arms in triumph, indicating that he had me boxed into a corner.

I said, “Maybe it’s serving as a reminder that love isn’t all about devotion to a divine being that can’t be touched or seen. It can be about physicality as much as it’s about spirituality. It’s about embracing the feeling of touching the divine not just with the mind, but with the body, too.”

Mitch looked at me with disgust.

One more story.

There was this Buddhist monk who’d spent years and years trying to obtain enlightenment, which is the highest state of consciousness or awareness, the ultimate goal of Buddhism. He stayed in his monastery with no contact with the outside world. While his fellow monks sometimes snuck out of the monastery and cavorted in the nearby city, this particular monk maintained his discipline. He studied and meditated and pondered for more than a decade, with no satisfactory result.

Finally, the monk decided that he was getting nowhere, and he decided to quit. He would announce his decision to the head of the monastery in the morning, and then leave. However, before he did so, the monk wanted to enjoy the same things his fellow monks had enjoyed, the pleasures of which he’d deprived himself all those years. So, after night fell, he snuck over the monastery wall and into the city. He went to a brothel, met an attractive girl, and went to bed with her. Long story short, at the very moment of his climax, the monk obtained enlightenment. He’d reached the ultimate degree of understanding.

Frankly, I know how he felt.

J.T. Benjamin
May-June 2010

“All Worked Up” © 2010 J.T. Benjamin. All rights reserved.

Still All Worked Up after all these Years

A few years ago, in this very column, I waxed rhapsodic about an article on the “Focus On The Family” website called, “Is My Child Becoming Homosexual?” The article consisted of a series of questions that parents ought to ask themselves to determine if their child was gay. Such questions included whether a child preferred the company of girls or acted in an effeminate way, had a tendency to cry easily, dislike athletics and avoid roughhousing. In all honesty, I answered almost all those questions in the affirmative, leading me to conclude that in the eyes of Focus On The Family, I was gay, notwithstanding my heterosexual sex life, my long-term marriage to a woman, and my lifelong love of all things vaginal.

One question struck particularly close to home. “(Does your child have) A susceptibility to be bullied by other boys, who may tease them unmercifully and call them ‘queer,’ ‘fag’, and ‘gay.'”

Guilty as charged, Your Honor. Not only did I inherit my mother’s short, stubby legs and not only was I a late bloomer, I’d been born two days before the cutoff date to enter kindergarten. As a result, I was easily the smallest, slowest, weakest kid in my class. Since I was also the smartest (hey, I don’t believe in false modesty, why lie?), and since I was completely incapable of keeping my mouth shut, feeling compelled to shout out all the answers and demonstrating to these knuckle-dragging idiots how it was done, I was on the receiving end of more than my share of bullying from those aforementioned knuckle-dragging idiots. I heard all the usual taunts: “shrimp,” “shorty,” “teacher’s pet,” “smart-aleck,” “show-off,” and yes, even “queer” and “faggot.”

Now, when I was little, I had no idea what a “faggot” was, so I can be fairly certain the knuckle-dragging idiots had no clue, either. For the first few years of school, I deduced it was a nickname for something like “easy target” or “kid who needs a pounding” or “wounded baby zebra.” Once I did learn what the term meant, and that there were boys out there who wanted to kiss boys, and girls who wanted to kiss girls, I concluded that my tormenters would have to all have good-sized rocks transplanted into their skulls to meet the minimum intellectual standard set by the term “knuckle-dragging idiots.” Maybe I WAS short and a teacher’s pet and a show-off, but watching lovely little Karen Saunders on the playground swings, her white skirt and her long black hair flowing as she soared into the air, one thing I also knew was that I’d never EVER have the urge to kiss a boy as much as I wanted to kiss Karen Saunders.

It is an unfortunate truth that as long as people come in all shapes, sizes and temperaments, certain people, including but not exclusively children, people will find ways to tease, torment, torture and bully each other, with every sort of cruel name they can think of. I heard many of them as I dodged punches and headlocks and wedgies, but one of the ones that didn’t bother me much was being called a “faggot.” That’s because I knew I wasn’t homosexual, and simply calling me one didn’t make me one.

But then, as I’ve said before, I’m not gay. As bad as the teasing got, I know if I DID in fact harbor same-sex attractions, and that my knuckle-dragging idiot peers saw that fact as a reason to torment me, it would have felt only worse.

There’s been a lot of news lately about the bullying of young both gay and perceived to be gay, to the point that they feel compelled to commit suicide to stop the torment. One tragic example is of 18-year old Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, who jumped off a bridge after two of his asshole classmates (excuse me…ALLEGEDLY asshole classmates) allegedly secretly recorded him kissing another (male) classmate, and then allegedly broadcast the clip on the internet. Mr. Clementi’s story has been only one of many such stories of young men and women, some in their early teens, who committed or attempted suicide after having had enough of teasing and bullying for being, or for being perceived to be, gay. While sociologists report that gay teen suicides have not dramatically increased in recent months, it’s a sort of good-news/bad-news situation. It’s good news that there’s no epidemic of gay teens killing themselves, but it’s bad news that it’s an apparently ongoing phenomenon which has only recently gained public attention.

In response, sex advice columnist Dan Savage launched the It Gets Better Project. The project encourages people of all sexual orientations to broadcast messages of encouragement and hope to young LGBT people that as much as they may feel isolated and intimidated now, as they mature and grow, things will get better for them. Messages have been broadcast by not just ordinary people, but by celebrities like Adam Lambert, Ellen DeGeneris, Tim Gunn, President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Secretary of State Clinton, and Houston, Texas city councilman Joel Burns, who tearfully made his statement during the middle of a city council meeting, to sustained applause.

So, in the aftermath of a series of tragic anti-gay bullying events, gay and straight Americans have responded by banding together to deliver a message to suffering LGBT teens that there is hope, that bullying is wrong, that they aren’t alone, that they aren’t depraved, and that their situations will improve.

And yet…

Although Focus On The Family scrubbed their “Is My Child Becoming Homosexual” article from their website years ago, they’re still up to their old tricks. On August 29, 2010, an article in the Denver Post outlined the Colorado-based Focus On The Family’s fear that school programs which promote diversity, tolerance, and bullying-prevention initiatives must be fought because they’re promoting a hidden pro-gay agenda. Candi Cushman, Focus On The Family’s resident education expert, said “We feel more and more that activists are being deceptive in using anti-bullying rhetoric to introduce their viewpoints, while opposing viewpoints by conservative Christians are portrayed as bigotry.”

The more things change, the more things stay the same. Five years ago, being bullied was a sign you were homosexual. These days, it’s a sign you’re being encouraged to be tolerant of homosexuals. Either way, trying to stop one kid from calling another kid “faggot” and beating him up is a bad thing to do, in the eyes of Focus On The Family.

To quote Kurt Vonnegut, “So it goes.”

Seven years ago, Adrienne, the esteemed goddess/guru of this fabulous website, (may her virus scans always come up clean), gave me free rein to give vent to whatever bothered me. Turns out, quite a lot gets me All Worked Up. I’ve teed off on the Holy Terrors on the far right, on their “War On Whoopie,” their attempts to stifle all things fun about sex, gay marriage, Proposition 8, the benefits of pornography, the virtues of BBWs, teen lust, the hypocrisy of Newt “Impeach the adulterer! No, not me! The other adulterer! No, not him! The one in the White House!” Gingrich, Mark “Appalachian Trail” Sanford, David “How much for a handjob” Vitter, Larry “Wide Stance” Craig, and Ted “Spending Weeks In The Arizona Desert With Three Guys Cured me Of Homosexual Impulses” Haggerd. I’ve ranted about porn chic, obscenity, the Purity Myth, the Monogamy Myth, the Sanctity Of Marriage Myth, and how we’d all be much better off if we just abided by a simple, direct credo, namely that when it comes to what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedrooms, we should all adopt my credo of “Mind Your Own Business.”

I’d like to say that after I’ve let off so much steam, I’m a much mellower and calmer person now, having allowed the benefits of my advancing age and wisdom to soften the harsher edges of my argumentative personality.

I’d like to say that, but I’d be lying.

The truth is, as the first part of this column indicates, I still get just as royally pissed off about the general state of affairs in the world today as I did years ago. In fact, I’m more pissed off. Because no matter how much I’ve been ranting and raving, certain idiot segments of the population out there still haven’t gotten the hint.

There’s a famous old saying that goes, “Give me chastity and give me temperance, just not yet.”

With apologies to St. Augustine, “Give me the serenity to suppress the urge to choke the ever-loving shit out of some sexually-repressed asshole trying to ruin everyone else’s good time, but not yet, I’ve still got a few more scores to settle.”

There’s another famous old saying that goes, “All good things must come to an end.”

Just not yet.

It’s time to move beyond the hallowed cybernet pages of ERWA. I’m launching a new blog called, (appropriately enough) All Worked Up.

And there’s this newfangled thing called “Facebook” I’m trying out as well. Come by to sign up and be my online friend, join my “All Worked Up” group and we’ll go from there.

“All good things must come to an end?”

Fuck that.

I’m just getting warmed up.

It’s worth a shot.

J.T. Benjamin

“All Worked Up” © 2010 J.T. Benjamin. All rights reserved.

All Worked Up about the Closet

I’m glad I’m not gay.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being gay. I’ve been advocating for gay rights and marriage equality both in my personal life and ever since I started this column back when we were chiseling our email messages onto stone tablets.

It’s not as if there haven’t been suspicions, either. More than one of my critics have accused me of being secretly gay, since I’m so obviously a “gay lover” by my writings. I suppose that should be a compliment to my persuasive skills. For that matter, I was called “faggot” a lot when I was a kid, because I was smaller and not as athletic as the other kids, and naturally that’s a tell-tale sign of latent homosexuality. Seriously. Focus On The Family’s website offers a test to allow worried parents to determine whether their children might be gay. Signs include whether a boy is more prone to be bullied than to be a bully, whether a boy is more likely to read books than be athletic, and whether a boy is quiet and studious. I once took that test and I must say I passed (or failed, as it may be), it with flying colors. One might even say it was a “rainbow” of colors, as it were.

The only thing that keeps me from completely embracing my homosexuality is the fact that I only want to have sex with women. Notwithstanding the opinions of James Dobson and several assorted punk bullies at Park Street Elementary School, I have to say that I’m reasonably certain I’m not gay, and I’m happy about that fact for two reasons.

First is the obvious fact that I love women. I mean, I LOVE everything about women. Eyes, hair, bodies, voices, skin, breasts, butts, vaginas, all of it.

Second, and more seriously, I think I’d have a hard time living with a very critical element of being homosexual, namely “The Closet.”

“The Closet” is, of course, a metaphor for the choice homosexuals have to make about their sexual identities. They can either be “out” of the closet and openly gay to their friends, families and the world in general and therefore risk ostracism, bigotry and homophobic violence from self-righteous assholes who can’t mind their own business, or they can be “in” the closet, deny their homosexuality, be safe from persecution by those bigots, and basically live a lie.

If I were gay, I don’t relish the prospect of having to make that choice. In or out? Paint a big red-and-blue gay-bashing target on my back or deny something fundamental about myself and my sexuality? I’m glad that, as a straight person, I don’t have to make that tough call. My life is complicated enough as it is; I don’t need one more thing like that to worry about.

Of course, gays and bisexuals are not so lucky. Sexual preference might be only one element of their lives, but that one element completely identifies them to the exclusion of everything else, if they choose to be “out” about their sexuality. Take, for example, a gutsy young lady named Constance McMillen, an 18-year old high school student from Fulton, Mississippi. Ms. McMillen, who is openly gay, asked permission from school authorities to dress in a tuxedo and take her girlfriend to her senior prom. School authorities had a collective shit-fit at the prospect of a girl-girl couple having the same sort of fun as boy-girl couples might have, and cancelled the prom in response. As of this writing, Ms. McMillen has sicced the dogs of the ACLU on her school district, and she’s gained national attention for her cause. Lost in the shuffle is the fact that Ms McMillen has a loving father who supports her, ample scholarship opportunities, and a 3.86 grade point average. For the rest of her life, Ms. McMillen will be tagged as “the gay Mississippi teen who wanted to go to prom with her girlfriend.”

It could be worse. At the other end of the spectrum, consider the case of California State Senator Roy Ashburn, a Republican from Bakersfield. State Senator Ashburn’s career is noted for some virulently anti-homosexual legislative positions, including opposition to a day commemorating the life of openly gay slain San Francisco Assemblyman Harvey Milk.

So, a funny thing happened to Senator Ashburn last month. He was pulled over late one night for Driving Under The Influence. While leaving a gay bar. With another man in the passenger seat. In the face of overwhelming evidence, this married father of four said, a few days later, “I’m gay. Those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long.” State Senator Ashburn then joined the ever-growing Fraternity Of Gay Politicians Who Live In The Closet But Get Busted Doing Something Stupid Instead Of Just Admitting Who They Are. Said fraternity’s other members include Senator Larry “Wide Stance” Craig of Idaho, former Florida Congressman Mark “Love Those Interns” Foley, and former New Jersey Governor Jim “Being Gay Is The Least Of My Problems Because I’m From New Jersey” McGreevy.

There seems to be a closet (pardon the pun) industry centering around politicians who take anti-gay positions on virtually everything, but who nevertheless turn out to be homosexuals. I highly recommend the documentary “Outrage,” written and directed by Kirby Dick. In Mr. Dick’s own words, “This film is about politicians who live in the closet, those who have escaped it, and the people who work to end its tyranny.” The film documents the work of journalists like Michael Rogers, founder of BlogActive, Bob Norman of the Broward-Palm Beach New Times, and Michelangelo Signorile of the Sirius/XM radio show “OutQ” among others, who have made careers out of tracking down rumors, interviewing witnesses, and outing closeted gay politicians, particularly those who have made careers out of using homophobia to sabotage gay rights.

Some of the politicians and movers and shakers featured in the documentary include the aforementioned Sen. Craig (who still denies being gay), former Governor McGreevy, (who admits it), and other politicians including former Congressman Ed Schrock, (R-VA), Congressman Jim McCrery (R-LA), Congressman David Dreier, (R-CA), Ken Mehlman, Manager of the Bush/Cheney 2004 re-election campaign, and Governor Charlie Crist (R-FL) who’s currently in the battle of his political life in a race for the U.S. Senate. All of the aforementioned politicians deny being gay, some of whom do so in light of compelling evidence otherwise, but all of them also are known for some virulently anti-gay rights political stances, including not only opposing gay marriage and adoptions, but funding for AIDS research and education and anti-discrimination statutes.

Many gay rights activists oppose these involuntary outings as invasions of privacy. However, many others endorse them. To quote Rodger McFarlane, former Executive Director of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis organization, “That closet can kill other people, and it has…before AIDS, we were concerned with privacy. After AIDS, that was collusion with genocide. Being silent, being invisible, …particularly being an elected or appointed official whose responsibility it is to respond to this health crisis, and they didn’t because they were closeted gays…My personal experience of the good activist is it is all driven by rage—righteous indignation. People are suffering and dying because some self-promoting asshole is telling a lie.”

Upon reflection, I think I’d like to retract the first sentence of this month’s column. Rather than say, “I’m glad I’m not gay,” I think it’d be more appropriate to say, “I’m glad I’m not a closeted gay politician.” Life in or out of the closet would be one kettle of fish, but I think it’d be another to be in the closet while simultaneously taking political positions that harmed my own rights and those of people like me. That sort of personal anguish would, I can only guess, turn my stomach inside out.

Then, of course, there’s Karl Rove. You know the guy. The mastermind behind the political success of former President George W. Bush. The puppeteer who manipulated the worst elements of human nature, exploiting homophobia and bigotry to depths hitherto unseen in American politics. In Rove’s new memoir, “Courage and Consequence,” Rove addresses a persistent rumor of his family history, when his stepfather divorced his mother and moved to California. “Could Dad (Rove’s stepfather) have been gay?…To this day, I have no idea if my father was gay. And, frankly, I don’t care. He was my father, with whom I had a wonderful relationship and whom I loved deeply.”

As can be expected from anything coming out of Mr. Rove’s mouth, there’s his version of events, and then there’s the truth. According to James Moore, author of “The Architect,” another biography of Rove, “He (Karl) was obviously hurt by the divorce. It’s just absurd when he says, ‘I had no idea what the problems were with my parents and their marriage.’ He knew damned good and well what was going on. His father had decided to come out of the closet. In fact, according to Louis Rove’s best friend Joe Koons, Rove not only knew his father’s sexual orientation but also was comfortable with it and had accepted his father’s honesty.”

I must therefore retract my earlier retraction. It’d be one thing to be gay and live in the closet. It’d be another thing to be a gay politician and live in the closet while at the same time exploiting homophobic fears for the advancement of my own career while at the same time undergoing personal anguish about my own identity.

It’d be another thing completely to be gay, come out of the closet and cause my family personal anguish, and then to have one of my children accept my homosexuality and have a good relationship with me while at the same time exploiting homophobic bigotry to advance the agenda of one of the most virulently anti-gay political movements in Western Civilization.

I’m glad I’m not Karl Rove’s father.

J.T. Benjamin
April 2010

P.S. If you want to show your support for Constance McMillen, feel free to join the Facebook page, “Let Constance Take Her Girlfriend To Prom,” and sex columnist Dan Savage has graciously provided updates and contact information. I’m sure they’d love to hear what ERWA readers think of their position. Additionally, the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition and the ACLU LGBT Project, are working to ensure the safety of gay teenagers across the country. They’d be happy to accept monetary donations.

“All Worked Up” © 2010 J.T. Benjamin. All rights reserved.

All Worked Up about Writing Porn

“Why porn?”

I get asked that question a lot. “Why do you spend so much time writing about sex and pornography and watching porn and reading porn and contributing to the ERWA website? You could be applying your talents and energies to so many more worthwhile pursuits.”

Let me answer these questions in reverse order, if I may. Firstly, I contribute to ERWA because it’s the classiest and best forum for the readers and writers of porn (excuse me…erotica) on the internet and I consider it an honor to be, in some small way, part of what makes it great. (Shameless plug).

To answer the next question, I look at porn movies and read dirty stories and visit porn websites for …uh…research purposes! Pure and simple. Next question.

Why do I write porn? The answer to that question’s a little more complicated. First, we need to clarify exactly what is “pornography.” The most popular definitions of porn usually involve legal authorities, such as, “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it,” as quoted by Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, or as the old legal maxim puts it, “Pornography is whatever gives a judge a hard-on.” The most effective definition I’ve ever come upon was by writer and social commentator Wendy McElroy, who said, “Pornography is the explicit artistic depiction of men and/or women as sexual beings.”

Ms. McElroy’s definition is useful, but for the purposes of this essay I want to go a little bit further. Specifically, I want to go back to the very beginning. The very word “pornography” didn’t come into common usage until the latter half of the 19th Century. That’s when British archaeologists began digging through the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, two Roman cities which had been buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in C.E. 79. The archaeologists were shocked to discover perfectly preserved examples of highly erotic writings, etchings, sculptures, frescos, and other artistic depictions of sex. The British intellectual community was highly troubled by these discoveries, so much so that they encouraged the passage of the first anti-pornography laws to keep these sexually charged finds away from the wandering eyes of the general public. The fears of the British intellectuals were—and I’m not making this up—that if the masses learned of the existence of these highly erotic works of art, they’d be so sexually worked up they’d spend all their time masturbating instead of working, and the Industrial Revolution and the expansion of the British Empire and, dare it be said, the advancement of all mankind would correspondingly grind to a halt.

Therefore, from the very invention of the word, there have been two critically distinct elements of the word “pornography.” First, the term “pornography” indicates content of a sexual nature and, correspondingly, when the content is of a sexual nature, the element of “art” is removed. This much is obvious. While the artistic depiction of nudes has been commonplace throughout history, it’s only when the depiction takes on a sexual context that the question, “Is this porn and is it therefore unartistic” arises. Compare reactions to the famous sculpture, “Venus de Milo” with those of Manet’s “Olympia” and you get the idea. Manet’s model is blatantly and unabashedly sexual in her pose and in her depiction by the master. It’s a stark contrast to the most common reaction to the “Venus” sculpture, which is that of a pristine, untainted depiction of the female figure.

More recently, a few years ago the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case in which the central question was whether Erie, Pennsylvania could prohibit public nudity without violating the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. In a nutshell, the Court concluded that if a stripper wore pasties and a g-string, any message she was trying to convey was as completely effective as if she’d been wearing nothing at all. In other words, pure sexuality, in and of itself, has no artistic value. In fact, it detracts from the artistic value of the message.

Secondly, once it is clear that the artistic depiction is sexual in nature, the common reaction is that the depiction must be kept away from exposure to the general mass of people. Let people stare all they want at non-sexually oriented media, but once the element of S-E-X enters the picture, hide it away. This turns the common perception of art completely upside-down. Under most circumstances, the uneducated masses are free to look at all the uncouth, ugly artistic depictions that they want; the higher, more refined depictions of the human experience are reserved for, and are more appreciated by, the cultural elite. However, when it comes to depictions of sex, the more ugly and graphic depictions should be reserved for the elites, while the more sanitary and more culturally bland stuff is best left to the unwashed masses.

These two concepts appear to contradict each other. Sex has no artistic value in and of itself, but sexually charged media has so much impact upon people that only the truly educated and sophisticated can appreciate whatever value it may have.

If we extend that line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, it therefore seems that when it comes to graphic depictions of sex, the more explicitly sexual content a form of media has, the more closely that media resembles…high art, right?

No. That can’t be right. All those x-rated websites and magazines and books and stories that leave nothing to the imagination, those can’t be considered “art”, can they?

Just for fun, I went digging through some of my library’s books of quotations, and I came across a few gems.

“Art was made to disturb,” Georges Braque, French painter.

“True artists scorn nothing,” Albert Camus, Nobel Prize-winning French novelist.

“Art is vice. One does not wed it, one rapes it.” Edgar Degas, French artist.

“Art is always subversive. It’s something that should NOT be free. Art and liberty, like the fire of Prometheus, are things that one must steal, to be used against the established order.” Pablo Picasso, Spanish artist.

“The task which the artist implicitly sets himself is to overthrow existing values, to make of the chaos about him an order which is his own, to sow strife and ferment so that by the emotional release those who are dead may be restored to life.” Henry Miller, American writer.

“It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.” Anais Nin, American writer.

Taking these artists at their word, (and why shouldn’t we?) it seems clear that to them, art challenges the established order; it subverts the conventional paradigm. It sows strife and ferment. It disturbs. It shocks.

What, then, is more disturbing and shocking to most people than the explicit and graphic depiction of men and women as sexual beings?

When it comes to motives, I cannot speak for anyone other than myself. However, speaking only for myself, the answer to the question, “Why porn,” is simply, “Because I am an artist, and porn is art.”

It’s art! Art, art, art, art, art, art, ART, dammit!

J.T. Benjamin
March 2010

“All Worked Up” © 2010 J.T. Benjamin. All rights reserved.

All Worked Up about the Same Old Same Old

When I was studying news articles and trends about which to possibly write for this month’s column, a few ideas came obviously to mind.

Tiger Woods and the problems he’s had keeping his driver in his own golf bag? Nope. Too easy. Anyway, just a few months ago I wrote about how public figures ought to get one “Get out of jail free” card when it comes to adultery I’d only be repeating myself.

I will say this about Tiger Woods, though. Dude! ELEVEN mistresses? When the hell did you find the time to play golf?

Marie Claire magazine’s January cover displays a curvy, nude Jennifer Hawkins and V magazine has devoted several pages of plus-sized models, nude and clothed, as part of the fashion industry’s discovery that women other than size zero can sell clothes and be sexy.

Great idea and great pictures, but I wrote about that topic only two months ago. Again, I’d be covering the same old ground.

You’d think it’d be quite a burden being so consistently ahead of the curve as I am, yet I find ways to cope.

I was standing in the supermarket checkout counter the other day, and I saw Sarah Palin and her daughter Bristol on the cover of the latest In Touch magazine, both holding their new babies with the headline proudly proclaiming, “We’re Glad We Chose Life!”

I realized I haven’t discussed Sarah Palin for a while. But what more can I say to that In Touch cover?

Sarah and Bristol, I’m glad you CHOSE life too, as long as you made the CHOICE after due consideration of which CHOICE was best for you and your respective families, and about how important it is to make CHOICES about these very important issues and about how great it is to live in a country where women can make that sort of CHOICE about their lives and bodies free from the meddling interference of self-righteous hypocrites who want to limit that kind of CHOICE and…and…oh, never mind. It’s like shooting ducks in a barrel.

So, not wanting to rehash the same old same old when it comes to topics for this column, what’s left?

Well, I can talk about gay marriage. Again.

Specifically, I can talk about California’s Proposition 8. Again.

In case you didn’t know about Proposition 8, or knew but had simply forgotten, let me recap. In the spring of 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional under California law to deprive gay couples of the same rights that heterosexual couples enjoy with regard to matrimony. In other words, the California Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. Homosexuals rejoiced and flooded their respective county courthouses and city halls for marriage licenses. Naturally, the forces of homophobia and bigotry shit a ton of bricks at this news, and they got a petition placed on the California ballot to put the matter before the people in the 2008 General election. This proposition, dubbed “Proposition 8” simply stated that the state of California only recognizes “marriage” as a union between a man and a woman. The proposition passed, (with the financial help of several out-of-state religious groups, including the LDS Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations).

Get all that? In other words, the California Supreme Court said, “Gays can marry,” and six months later the people of California said, “No, they can’t..”

Naturally, hordes of lawyers invaded California courts, arguing on the one hand that the electorate didn’t have the power to revoke the right of gays to marry, while lawyers on the other side argued that the electorate DOES have that right. In May of 2009, the California Supreme Court, the same body that ruled that gays have the right to get married, ruled that the people do have the power to revoke the very right that the judiciary had granted only a year before. What had been given had now been taken away. Interestingly, though, the California Supreme Court also ruled that some eighteen thousand unions that had been solemnized while gay marriage was legal would still be considered valid.

After the California Supreme Court’s ruling, the next step in this long, complicated battle was the Federal court system. The case is called “Perry v. Schwartznegger,” and as of this writing it’s being heard by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker for the Northern District of California in San Francisco.

Now ya gone and done it. Someone woke the Big Dog.

Let me explain the full implications of this action by simplistically comparing state-versus-Federal jurisdiction to a baseball dispute. Let’s say the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, (two American League teams), are in a dispute over the interpretation of the designated hitter rule, a rule which applies only to teams in the American League. They make their case to the President of the American League, who makes a ruling. This ruling doesn’t affect me or my team, because my team’s in the National League. But if the Red Sox (buncha crybabies) don’t like the ruling and appeal it, they would take their case to the Commissioner of Baseball, who governs both the American AND the National League. HIS ruling could very much affect every team in the majors, including my own.

Thus it is with gay marriage. To this point, every single legal and electoral challenge for and against marriage equality has been on the state level, interpreting state laws, state constitutions, and state constituencies. When Judge Walker issues his ruling, it will affect every state in the U.S. 9th District, which includes not only California, but Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Montana, Arizona and Idaho. From there, the decision will (certainly) be appealed by the loser to the Federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and from there, the United States Supreme Court. Any ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court would likely affect the rights of gays to marry in every state in the Union. A positive ruling for Prop 8 opponents could finally legalize gay marriage once and for all.

What’s ironic about all this is the fact that the homophobes brought this on themselves. Their strategy nationwide has been to fight marriage equality tooth and nail, at every opportunity, in every state, never giving an inch. They’ve not only fought gay marriage, but civil unions, allowing gays couples to adopt kids or be foster parents, and to even resist allowing gay people to teach school. How strident have they been? In Texas, a pair of men who’d married in Massachusetts and moved to Dallas tried to file for divorce last year, only to have Texas’ attorney general Greg Abbott intervened. Mr. Abbott argued that the state’s gay marriage ban prevented the Texas court from recognizing the union as being legitimate.

That’s right. The state of Texas is so horrified by gay marriages they actually fight attempts to end them. A Texas judge ruled the couple could divorce, but the case is still making its way through the court system.

The point is that gay marriage opponents have fought so vigorously their arguments border on the absurd. In “Perry v. Schwartznegger,” Charles Cooper, the pro-Prop. 8 lead attorney has claimed that he will show that gays are not harmed by the gay marriage ban, that gays don’t suffer discrimination or unequal protection of the laws, that heterosexual marriage will be harmed if the ban is lifted, that heterosexual marriage is mostly about raising children in a male-female household, that California laws permitting divorced couples, ex-felons and single parents to raise children DON’T harm children more than gay married couples would, that banning gay marriage is different from banning interracial marriage, and on and on.

So what’s the upshot? Until now, gay marriage arguments have been made on dozens, even hundreds of small scales. State laws, state principles, state courts, state jurisdictions, state electorates. A victory for one side in Iowa meant nothing in Arkansas, the same way a victory for the other side in New Jersey had no impact in Vermont.

Now, however, it’s a different game. The small scale battles have started to be fought on a larger battlefield, a battlefield that will only grow in size. For the first time, the Federal court system is having to listen to all the arguments, for and against marriage equality, determine their validity, and weigh those arguments in light of the United States Constitution. The more often the Feds have to listen, the more often the Feds have to decide, and the impact of those decisions will be so much the greater.

So, what’s going to happen now? Hard to say. Regardless of how “Perry v. Schwartznegger” comes out, the loser’s going to appeal. If the case made it to the U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow, the pro-Republican majority would probably rule against gay marriage. However, it would take at least two years and more like three to five years before the case makes it to the high court. What are the chances the court’s makeup will change before then?

Rest assured, I’ll be following this one much more closely than I am the Tiger Woods saga.

J.T. Benjamin
February 2010

“All Worked Up” © 2010 J.T. Benjamin. All rights reserved.

All Worked Up about the Fashion Industry

It was an eventful third week in November in the Benjamin household. That’s because two of the biggest reality shows on TV, “Project Runway” and “America’s Next Top Model” had their season finales on consecutive nights. To My Lovely Wife and My Three Beautiful Daughters, all of whom are fashion conscious, this made the third week in November equivalent to the build-up to the Super Bowl.

Being a conscientious husband and father, I did my best to allow myself to be caught up in the excitement along with the Women In My Life, and I daresay I’m just a tiny bit more familiar with the fashion industry than are most American heterosexual men.

Still, at one point, I had to confess to My Lovely Wife, “I just don’t get the fashion industry.”

My long-suffering Lovely Wife sighed in that ever-knowing way she does and she said, “What’s not to get, Honey?”

We were watching a televised fashion show, where models parade down the “catwalk” or “runway” as it’s called in the industry, displaying the latest designs by the hottest designers. I said, “Look at all that stuff. All the feathers and outrageous costumes and colors that make one bleed from the eyes. Nobody wears that stuff in real life. You don’t see those outfits on city streets. Why do they go to all the trouble?”

My Lovely Wife said, “The things we’re seeing right now aren’t meant to be worn ‘in real life’ as you put it. The designers come up with the outrageous-looking things to attract attention from the magazines. Once they’ve gotten their interest, then the designers show off the more sensible and practical outfits, the ones that people buy in the stores. These outfits are like billboards or like the photos in your men’s magazines that advertise those phone sex numbers and websites. Use the hook to attract attention and then they see the real stuff.”

“Oh,” I said. That made sense. We were quiet for a while. Then I said, “There’s something else I don’t get about the fashion industry.”

My Lovely Wife sighed. “What now,” she asked.

At this point, we were watching “America’s Next Top Model.” I said, “This season, ANTM made a big deal about the fact that all the contestants are shorter than five feet seven inches tall.”

“That’s right. Five feet seven inches is considered the industry standard for fashion models, and ANTM wanted to promote the idea that shorter women can be professional models, as well.”

“That’s all well and good,” I said. “But look at these women. Short or tall, you’ve got to admit they’re all really thin.”

“Yes they are,” said My Lovely Wife. “Most of the highest-paid fashion models are size zero when it comes to the clothes they wear.”

“How small is that,” I asked.

During a commercial break, we hit Google and learned that for women, “size zero” translates to measurements of anywhere from 30-22-32 to 33-25-35. That’s considered really, really tiny. A Miss’s size 4, for comparison, is considered appropriate for a woman about five feet four inches tall, about 115 pounds, and with dimensions of 34-25-35. So a girl who can fit into a size zero is smaller than that, and probably has to run around in the shower to get wet.

During the same commercial break, we also learned that the median height and weight of American women aged 20-29 is about five feet five inches tall and about 133 pounds. We also learned from brittanica.com that less than two percent of American women can wear size zero clothes.

“So here’s the upshot of what I don’t get,” I said. “Lots and lots of girls want to be fashion models, right? It’s a glamorous-looking profession.”

“Right,” said My Lovely Wife.

“But to be a high fashion model, a woman has to be over five feet seven inches tall, yet considerably less than 115 pounds, and to basically have the dimensions of a pencil.”

“Right,” said My Lovely Wife.

“All this to be able to wear clothes that aren’t meant to be worn by ordinary people, and even if they were, the clothes are too small for ninety-eight percent of American women to fit into them anyway.”

“That’s right,” said My Lovely Wife.

“Just as an example, our perfectly healthy fifteen-year old daughter is too heavy by at least ten pounds and too busty by at least three inches to be a fashion model.”

“Pretty much,” said My Lovely Wife. “She’s also too short by three inches.”

“I just don’t get the fashion industry,” I said.

“It’s a real problem for the industry,” said My Lovely Wife. “Lots of girls in America are obsessed about their body images and they end up thinking they have to starve themselves to look like the models they see in the magazines and on TV. It’s tragic.”

My Lovely Wife and I spent a little more time on Google. Names like Ana Carolina Reston, a model who died of starvation at the age of twenty-one, came up. Sisters Luisel and Eliana Ramos, also models, died at the ages of twenty-two and eighteen, respectively, suffered from anorexia nervosa and who also literally starved themselves to death.

I spent a few moments staring at the pictures of these dead young women, with faces that were considered beautiful for a time, but whose beauty began to literally erode and wither away, resulting in gaunt, skeletal, haunting stares into a merciless camera.

I also came across a couple of fashion-related news items while I was surfing the net between commercials. It seems that in November, fashion institution Ralph Lauren got busted for airbrushing photos of models Filppa Hamilton and Valentian Zelyaeva to the point where the models’ heads were bigger than their photoshopped waists. I suppose doctoring pictures is better than endorsing anorexia.

In another scandal, size zero supermodel Kate Moss bragged last month that “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” which led one wag to conclude, “Moss is a woman whose job it is to wear nice frocks. She isn’t paid for her intellect.” This may be true, but it’s also true that sculptor Marc Quinn created a life-size gold statue of Moss, called “Siren,” to place in the British Museum. Mr. Quinn called Miss Moss, “The ideal beauty of the moment.”

“This is depressing,” I said. “Essentially, the industry wants walking coat-hangers in lipstick.”

“There’s hope,” said My Lovely Wife.

“How,” I asked. “Our daughters watch this stuff, and as beautiful as they are, they’ll never physically match these insanely unhealthy standards.”

My Lovely Wife said, “Well, in the first place, your daughters know that YOU find ME attractive, even though I’m nowhere near a size zero.”

This is true. I’ve bragged on My Lovely Wife’s voluptuous, sexy, curvaceous body many times, including in this very column.

She also said, “Plus, some of the fashion magazines are starting to pick up on the idea that larger women can be models, too. She tossed me the November 2009 issue of “Glamour”, the one with Scarlett Johannsen on the cover.

Inside the magazine, I came across a picture of seven beautiful, curvy, sexy women, all plus-sized models, all seductively and nakedly displaying their assets for everyone to see.

One of them, Crystal Renn, actually used to be a size DOUBLE-ZERO and weighed only ninety-eight pounds on a five-nine frame. In an ultimate feel-good story, she announced she’d had enough, started eating again, and now she’s getting work as a model for clothes in sizes fourteen to nineteen, and she’s proud of weighing 165 pounds.

Oh, yeah. And she’s a helluva lot sexier as a plus-sized model, too.

Another model in the photo, Lizzie Miller, first created a stir when she’d appeared in the August issue of “Glamour” wearing nothing but a g-string and letting the whole world see her one-hundred eighty pound, sexy, curvy frame.

The response to both photos has been overwhelmingly positive, and the editors of Glamour hope this will spark a revolution and banish into the dustbin the notion that only size zeros can be models.

“So you see,” said My Lovely Wife. “There’s hope for the industry after all.”

“One more thing,” I said.

“What,” sighed My Lovely Wife.

I said, “High fashion’s all about wearing clothes, right?”


“So the most talked-about photos of fashion models these days are the ones where the models have taken their clothes OFF!”

My Lovely Wife sighed and gave up, turning up the volume on the TV.

I just don’t get the fashion industry.

J.T. Benjamin
December ’09 – January ’10

“All Worked Up” © 2009 J.T. Benjamin. All rights reserved.

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