Adonis Diaries

Archive for April 23rd, 2020


Sex needs a new metaphor: All current terms come from baseball?

Posted on March 11, 2017

Sex needs a new metaphor: No more sex as a competition

A lot of sexuality education hat in the USA that happens today is so influenced by the baseball model, and it sets up education that can’t help but produce unhealthy sexuality in young people. And those young people become older people.

Note: Re-edit and re-arrangement of a talk by educator Al Vernacchio.

The metaphors for talking about sex in the US all come from baseball — scoring, getting to first base, etc. (Does that metaphor extends to all States where baseball is the main sport activities, like Japan, Cuba…?)

The problem is it frames sex as a competition, with a winner and a loser.

Instead, Al Vernacchio suggests a new metaphor, one that’s more about shared pleasure, discussion and agreement, fulfillment and enjoyment. Let’s talk about … pizza. (Not comfortable with this alternative metaphor. Are we lacking in imagination?)

“I’d like to talk to you today about a whole new way to think about sexual activity and sexuality education.
If you talk to someone today in America about sexual activity, you’ll find pretty soon you’re not just talking about sexual activity. You’re also talking about baseball.
Because baseball is the dominant cultural metaphor that Americans use to think about and talk about sexual activity, and we know that because there’s all this language in English that seems to be talking about baseball but that’s really talking about sexual activity.
So, for example, you can be a pitcher or a catcher, and that corresponds to whether you perform a sexual act or receive a sexual act.
There are the bases, which refer to specific sexual activities that happen in a very specific order, ultimately resulting in scoring a run or hitting a homerun, which is usually having vaginal intercourse to the point of orgasm, at least for the guy. (Goal, goal say soccer fans)
You can strike out, which means you don’t get to have any sexual activity. And if you’re a benchwarmer, you might be a virgin or somebody who for whatever reason isn’t in the game, maybe because of your age or because of your ability or because of your skillset.
A bat’s a penis, and a nappy dugout is a vulva, or a vagina. A glove or a catcher’s mitt is a condom. A switch-hitter is a bisexual person, and we gay and lesbian folks play for the other team.
And then there’s this one: if there’s grass on the field, play ball.” And that usually refers to if a young person, specifically often a young woman, is old enough to have pubic hair, she’s old enough to have sex with.
This baseball model is incredibly problematic. It’s sexist. It’s heterosexist. It’s competitive. It’s goal-directed. And it can’t result in healthy sexuality developing in young people or in adults.
So we need a new model. I’m here today to offer you that new model. And it’s based on pizza.
Now pizza is something that is universally understood and that most people associate with a positive experience. So let’s do this.
Let’s take baseball and pizza and compare it when talking about three aspects of sexual activity:the trigger for sexual activity, what happens during sexual activity,and the expected outcome of sexual activity.
So when do you play baseball? (Is the female partner to clarify the name of the game before agreeing on the sex activity?)
You play baseball when it’s baseball season and when there’s a game on the schedule. It’s not exactly your choice. So if it’s prom night or a wedding night or at a party or if our parents aren’t home, hey, it’s just batter up.
Can you imagine saying to your coach, “Uh, I’m not really feeling it today, I think I’ll sit this game out” ?
That’s just not the way it happens. And when you get together to play baseball, immediately you’re with two opposing teams, one playing offense, one playing defense, somebody’s trying to move deeper into the field. That’s usually a sign to the boy.
Somebody’s trying to defend people moving into the field. That’s often given to the girl. It’s competitive. We’re not playing with each other. We’re playing against each other.
And when you show up to play baseball, nobody needs to talk about what we’re going to do or how this baseball game might be good for us. Everybody knows the rules. (Even the female partner?)
You just take your position and play the game. But when do you have pizza?
Well, you have pizza when you’re hungry for pizza. It starts with an internal sense, an internal desire, or a need. “Huh. I could go for some pizza.” (Laughter)
And because it’s an internal desire, we actually have some sense of control over that. I could decide that I’m hungry but know that it’s not a great time to eat.
And then when we get together with someone for pizza, we’re not competing with them, we’re looking for an experience that both of us will share that’s satisfying for both of us, and when you get together for pizza with somebody, what’s the first thing you do? (Divide the pieces according to the fatest?)
You talk about it. You talk about what you want. You talk about what you like. You may even negotiate it.
“How do you feel about pepperoni?” (Laughter) “Not so much, I’m kind of a mushroom guy myself.” “Well, maybe we can go half and half.”
And even if you’ve had pizza with somebody for a very long time, don’t you still say things like, “Should we get the usual?” (Laughter) “Or maybe something a little more adventurous?”
Okay, so when you’re playing baseball, if we talk about during sexual activity, when you’re playing baseball, you’re just supposed to round the bases in the proper order one at a time. You can’t hit the ball and run to right field. That doesn’t work. And you also can’t get to second base and say, “I like it here. I’m going to stay here.” No.
And with baseball,  you need specific equipment and a specific skill set. Not everybody can play baseball. It’s pretty exclusive
But what about pizza? When we’re trying to figure out what’s good for pizza, isn’t it all about what’s our pleasure?
There are a million different kinds of pizza. There’s a million different toppings. There’s a million different ways to eat pizza. And none of them are wrong. (Not necessarily)
They’re different. And in this case, difference is good, because that’s going to increase the chance that we’re having a satisfying experience.
And lastly, what’s the expected outcome of baseball? Well, in baseball, you play to win. You score as many runs as you can. There’s always a winner in baseball, and that means there’s always a loser in baseball. (They are all the males: they are Not fit (erogenous locations) to get any substantial pleasure or sustain the aroused desires to the practised female)
But what about pizza? Well, in pizza there’s no winning. (All those who didn’t experience stomach ache?)
How do you win pizza? You don’t. But you do look for: “Are we satisfied?” And sometimes that can be different amounts over different times or with different people or on different days. And we get to decide when we feel satisfied.
If we’re still hungry, we might have some more. If you eat too much, though, you just feel gross. (Laughter) So what if we could take this pizza model and overlay it on top of sexuality education?
if we could create sexuality education that was more like pizza, we could create education that invites people to think about their own desires, to make deliberate decisions about what they want, to talk about it with their partners, and to ultimately look for not some external outcome but for what feels satisfying, and we get to decide that.
You may have noticed in the baseball and pizza comparison, under the baseball, it’s all commands. They’re all exclamation points. But under the pizza model, they’re questions. And who gets to answer those questions? You do. I do.
So remember, when we’re thinking about sexuality education and sexual activity, baseball, you’re out.
Pizza is the way to think about healthy, satisfying sexual activity, and good, comprehensive sexuality education. Thank you very much for your time.
Al Vernacchio. Sexuality educator. In his 12th-grade Sexuality and Society class, Al Vernacchio speaks honestly and positively about human sexuality. Full bio

Cool down on Convictions: “Fact is a bitch”

Note: Re-edit “Fact is a bitch,  (Written in November 24, 2007 and posted in 2008)

The most common starter in any conversation is: “The Fact is…”

Our politicians, journalists, and commentators use “Fact is…” to mean truth, evidence, axioms, observation, conjecture, deduction, opinion, belief, interpolation, or personal experience in arguments…

Even practiced scientists have sometimes hard time differentiating what is fact and what is Not a fact most of the time.

For example, scientists in human sciences have reached a consensus that if the analysis of data is significant at a level of 5% that is, the chances that less than five observations out of a sample of 100 observed might not exhibit the general behavior statistically, and hopefully based on a judicious experimental design, then the behavioral scientist might be inclined to state that the effect in a relationship is a fact.

(The dangerous events is what happens on both extreme tails on this “Normal Curve“))

If a scientist decided to repeat the same experiment and set the level at 1% because the phenomenon is most important from his point of view, and the effect turned out not to be significant, then would the relationship stops to become a fact?

Even in “hard sciences“, dealing with materials and natural phenomena, which do not vary that much as humans vary in their characteristics, the laws are applicable within certain ranges and conditions. (If you apply any equation with considering the magnitude of the problem, you run in deep problems for the users)

Can we consequently deduce that fact is relative?

May we go one step further and claim that the only fact is that everything is relative?

Or this is called truth?

What is then the difference between fact and truth?  Maybe it is the relative degree of uncertainty in the proclamation?

When people say: “It is a fact”, do they mean anything such as a “pass partout” concept? If what they observe with their senses is considered fact, then a colorblind person or with other defects has the right to disagree with what “normal” people senses?

Again, the concept of normality is a matter of consensus, or is it not?

If for example the sample of individuals contains 10% color blind in an experiment related to discriminating among colors, then a mindless level of 5% is certainly not appropriate if the scientist failed to control that “fact” or factor.

Let us move from scientific lucubrations to questions weighting on the mind of middle-aged individuals.

For example, we can say it is a fact that “everyday is made to be lived before we leave this world“, but the truth is we can’t help but think one second ahead of time, and about tomorrow, and thus relinquishing the power of the moment.

Another example, we may say it is a fact “not to take ourselves too seriously: nobody is going to survive”, but the truth is we believe that we are actually surviving all calamities and pandemics.

Worse, we believe that our immediate offspring is going to acquire all the best qualities that we believe we have: Are we ignorant that nature has a way of tending toward average in its progress and development?

If I state that, logically, there is no meaning for life: we are going to die, the human specie is going to vanish and Earth is a goner as well, sooner or later. Is that logic a fact because billion of species have vanished and billions of planets and stars have disintegrated? With what facts can you counter such a logical statement?

If I say: “Give me a delicious stupid reason to hang on to in order to forget this harsh reality, since we enjoy thinking ahead of time and planning for our survival” then can you be kind enough to offer me an antidote for excessive logical or deductive tendencies?

Does anyone have a character, firm and insensitive enough, to ally completely with logic and rationality?

Maybe nothing is real for modern man as deep feeling is, and the hope that a boring paradise is waiting at the end of the rainbow with unlimited pleasures, probably cloning what we have been experiencing on Earth, these pleasures that we have forgone because of aging and diminishing power?

If I say: ” The fact is I started enjoying the stories of novels, and do not care that much about the endings; I do not rush to know how the story ends: if I got a happy ending then I feel depressed and if it is a sad ending then I say “this is not news to me”. Would that sentence expresses logic, a state of mind that varies from day-to-day, or it could be accepted as a fact for the moment in the individual psychic?

Maybe the common denominator among modern men is relishing rediscovering the wheel, and then feeling happily surprised that an ancient philosopher has stolen his copyrights.

Content is necessary, but it is the variations on the main content and how it is communicated that set individuals apart.

I am shocked at editors who believe it is their right to transform the style of an author to suit an abstract targeted public.

Go Graphics, do your communicating!

What this dream told me?

Note: Re-edit of “It is a Fact”  (Written in 1999 and posted in October 2008)

The sun was peeking into my new Morning.

My consciousness barely awakening

In a twilight drowsiness

And out of nowhere, a huge banner flashed in my mind,

It said “You shall die“.

My mind was blank before I read it,

It was blank for a long moment afterward.

My semi waking conscious scrambled

Into filling in real and imaginary activities,

“What am I to do today”?

Appointments that I am to tend to, today.

The concept that all of us shall die, was clear to me.

A Fact to others,

Still a Fact to me,

In the distant future,

Rushing wildly now

To tell me that it is a Fact.

How gentle have you learned to be during this pandemics?

Note: A poem that I wrote in 1997 “A Gentle Touch”

Prettier than white dust

You shall never be.

Uglier than a skeleton

You can never be.

Toward the scared souls, scared of death,

Scared in living,

Let your stretched hand

Be gentler, your voice softer.




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