How To Address The Stupid Arguments Against Marriage Equality: a cut out and keep guide

Most of these sorts of discussions end very productively.

Most of these sorts of discussions end very productively.

Dear The Internet,

One of the nice things about having a column is that I get to rant about stuff I think should be ranted about, but sometimes I just want to rant EVEN MORE. And the biggest thing that’s baffling me at the moment is the pointless and downright silly arguments against same-sex marriage being implemented in Australia.

There is a strong, sensible argument against marriage equality, and it goes like this: “I don’t like gay people and I don’t want them being happy.”

It’s intellectually honest, it cuts right to the heart of the matter, and it doesn’t mess around pretending that the speaker cares about civil rights or human happiness. Unfortunately it also makes clear how little someone’s personal ick-feelings should contribute to crafting legislation in a modern democracy.

Thus campaigners prefer to go with elaborate justifications about how they’re actually worried about protecting marriage and and preserving the sanctity of marriage, and respecting the values of tradition, because they’re largely meaningless statements that are therefore hard to argue against, and also because bigots get very sad when people call them bigots.

And then there are more practical arguments which I’m sick of slapping down regularly on Facebook, so here’s my list of responses to the current crop of stupid, stupid arguments against marriage equality. This way I can just send a link and get on with my day.

Stupid Argument The First: This is so very very important a change that we should have a Referendum, like in Ireland! You know, to see what The People think!

No, we shouldn’t. More specifically, not only do we not need to, but it would achieve literally nothing.

In Australia a Referendum can only be called in order to change something in the Constitution, and since the definition of marriage isn’t in the Constitution – it’s in the Marriage Act, a piece of Federal law – it can only be changed through federal legislation. You know, like the Howard Government did in 2004. Remember that referendum about defining marriage as being between “a man and a woman”? No you don’t, because there wasn’t one.

The other option that’s been thrown around is a plebiscite, which is like a Referendum but a) not necessarily a compulsory vote, and b) not about something in the Constitution. That’s what we had about changing the flag, for example.

The problem with that is that the Constitution prevents the Federal Parliament from limiting its own power to create laws, so a plebiscite would have to be non-binding BY DEFINITION in order to work. What’s more, it would leave any change potentially open to a High Court challenge regardless of the result.

So either way, it would require Parliament to change the law independently of any such citizen vote – exactly as it does at the moment without one.

Stupid Argument The Second: B-b-but kids deserve a mother AND a father!

Leaving aside that this is a meaningless statement – kids grow up without one or both parents all the time – this has absolutely nothing to do with the Marriage Act. Parental rights are determined by a suite of laws mainly created by the states, and if you’re worried that kids might be legally raised by same-sex couples if the definition of marriage was changed then you might want to sit down: it’s already legal.

More specifically: same sex couples can adopt in WA, the ACT, Tasmania and NSW, and a same-sex partner of a parent can legally adopt their partner’s child in WA, the ACT and NSW. In the other states a partner can apply for a Parenting Order, which is much the same thing but doesn’t remove an existing parent’s rights as per an adoption.

So if that’s the big concern then a) the Marriage Act is the wrong target and b) that battle’s already been lost.

Stupid Argument The Third: OK, let’s make all partnerships “civil unions” and define “marriage” exclusively as a church-sanctioned thing!

Well, for a start this would require altering the Marriage Act to change the definition of marriage – which is the exact thing that people are so gosh-darn worried about doing, right?

But also, this would require stripping marriage from heterosexual couples who didn’t have a religious ceremony, which is the vast majority of Australians. Removing it from a majority of straight people seems a bit at odds with arguing that it’s a precious special magical thing for man and woman to share.

Then there’s the fact that an increasing number of churches are totally fine with marriage equality, which will kinda dilute this terribly important distinction, surely?

But the main thing is that it would never get public support necessary for it to be passed. People like being married, which is why people want to be married. That’s the entire reason this discussion is happening in the first place.

But what if, on the other hand, churches want to decide that the only marriages that “count” are ones done in their own faith tradition? Well, in a lot of cases, they… um, already do.

Stupid Argument The Fourth: B-b-but the law will make religious me do gay things I don’t like!

A popular side argument to the above is “b-b-but these changes will force me, a religious minister, to marry gay people against my faith! My religious freedom will be curtailed! CURTAILED!”

Except that churches won’t be forced to marry gay people they don’t want to marry. You know why? Because they already don’t marry straight people they don’t want to marry.

Most churches at least require the couple to be part of their faith, and usually also their congregation. There are already arbitrary hoops through which people have to jump to get access to any religion’s clubhouse.

Also, let’s be realistic here: no sane person is going to decide to hold a celebration of partnership and commitment, surrounded by all the people they love most, that’s officiated by someone who openly despises them. Weddings are typically delightfully upbeat affairs, and that would kinda bring down the mood.

Stupid Argument The Fifth: But tradition! TRADITION!

Even assuming that tradition was a strong prima facie reason to not change something (which, as the replacement of the traditional practice of bloodletting with the modern alternative of antibiotics has demonstrated, it is not), which tradition are you talking about, exactly?

The first recorded marriages in history predate the major religions by a few thousand years, were in Egypt (and quite probably in other places that didn’t conveniently have a written language that was preserved in stone) and were designed as a way for families to record lineage of offspring in order to maintain family ownership of property. They were a romantic people, them ancient Egyptians.

And while there are plenty of examples of same-sex, polygamous and weird sibling-heavy arrangements in different epochs and locations, we’re perfectly cool with ignoring those traditions when they don’t suit what we like, or what our society will accept.

That’s because marriage is like so many other things that humans care about, like the unalterable word of God in religious texts, or the Star Wars prequels: people inevitably pick the bits they think are good and quietly ignore those they don’t, whether it’s prohibitions on wearing mixed-fabric clothes or the existence of Jar Jar Binks.

So inevitably it comes down to people being very selective about the traditions they want to follow, which is why we currently have the very modern idea of two people voluntarily entering into a partnership for reasons predominantly connected with love. It’s hard to see why the genitals of these people would make a fundamental difference to that broad concept.

Stupid Argument The Sixth: But changing the definition of marriage will inevitably lead to polygamy/child-marriage/dogs and cats having adorable tiny weddings!

Since those are all entirely different questions, no it won’t.

The argument behind this otherwise-silly statement presumably goes something like this: “if we alter the definition of marriage in the Marriage Act now, what’s to stop us altering the definition of marriage in the Marriage Act again later?”

And the answer is “nothing, beyond having the motivation to actually do it”.

More specifically, we can change any word of any Act at any time, provided that Parliament has the numbers to do so and can be arsed spending the time doing it. That’s literally the entire point of Parliament. They make and change and repeal laws, loads of them, all the time (for an average of 50-ish days per year, at least).

If your fear is that Parliament might alter words in a law sometime now or in the future, then perhaps representative democracy isn’t the right political system for you.

Stupid Argument The Seventh: Oh, why is this still a thing? I mean, who cares? There are more important things to worry about!

Exactly. It’s a pointless and tedious argument, and it’s going to keep going until we finally have marriage equality because more people want it than don’t. If it gets brought up in Parliament and defeated, that’s not going to make it go away (hey, it didn’t last time). It’s going to keep going and going and going and going until it happens.

You want the endless debates to finish? Pressure for same sex marriage to pass so we can all get on with our lives.

Yours ever,


Are you worth your Cost Per Orgasm?

Originally published at Daily Life, 17 August 2014

Dear all women,

The very notion of human value has a long and dignified history, until the first time someone swapped money for another human being over whose body they could exert complete control.

However, in these more sophisticated times it’s often difficult to know exactly how much someone is worth in dollar terms – which are the only terms that matter.

And sure, there are some useful rules of thumb – you’re worth 70% as much money as a comparable man, for example, going by the accepted gender disparity in Australian salaries – but what if you want to know specific dollar amounts? Are you economically worth it, in the eyes of men (which are the only eyes that matter)?

Well, you’re in luck!


Dawson Stone – a brilliant economist and sociologist and definitely not a sad, terrified little man peddling pick-up culture nonsense on the internet – has come up with a helpful metric by which men can work out whether you’re worth ejaculating inside of.

(The site is here, and you can click on it if you must, but remember: your clicks are only worth 0.7 of a man’s click, and why must you women go disturbing men with your intrusive page views?)

“Here is how it works. You tally up 100% of the money you spend on a woman during the course of ‘dating’ her and divide that amount by the number of times you have sex with her.”

He then breaks it down into how the sort of shitty semi-male who doesn’t even realise how much women are just wasting their time when clothed might fare:

“If you are a traditional beta male, you buy a woman three expensive dinners at ~$200 each, and try to close her on the third date. If you were successful and had sex twice, your CPO would be $300 ($200 * 3 / 2). As a beta, there is a decent chance you don’t even close. You could argue that you should only use the money spent on her (divide the numbers in 1/2) and your CPO is still $150.”

Because he is awesome and cool, he explains that his is obviously better. And why would he – a forty-something year old man who’s attempting to sell his patented pick-up tips on the internet – have any motivation to mislead you?

“I have diligently tracked my CPO for the last 4 months. It was $44.15, $20.82, $36.75 and $37.20… My CPO might seem a bit high, but in my defense, I always have 1-2 women in my monthly rotation that are out-of-towners. In fact, in my most recent 4-month period I had an unusually high number of women (eleven) that were out-of-towners. Most of them are struggling college students, so I do buy their plane ticket. But I plan in advance and can usually get a ticket for between $200-$250. If it wasn’t for this variable, my average CPO would be closer to $10-$12.”

Numbers don’t lie, ladies. And it’s worth remembering that these are American dollars, so at current exchange rates you should really be looking to get a man off at least once for every $12.91 he spends in your vicinity.

Now, there are worthless semi-men who might respond “But Dawson, what if I disagree with the notion that all romantic interactions with other people can be reduced to a direct financial exchange, since I am not a broken, hideous monster angrily cry-wanking on a blog about how scared I am of women?”

Because Dawson is very, very smart, he’s already thought of that.

“Sex is about money! If sex wasn’t about money there wouldn’t be alimony, child support, pre-nups, palimony, engagement rings, and weddings that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. I could go on forever.”

And that’s a great point: so the lesson that Dawson Stone has taught us is that sex is, frankly, too expensive.

Why, not only are we internet sex-alphas expected to break a $20 note every time we shrug one out, then there’s also alimony, child support, and weddings that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Heck, I could go on forever!

Fortunately, there’s a cheaper way to get the most bang for the least buck for awesome cool guys like Dawson that find dealing with women an onerous and tiresome condition for getting the sex to which they’re naturally entitled.

A 60-sheet box of Kleenex Facial Tissues Extra Care is a mere $2.40 (and they’re the ones with aloe vera in them – go on, treat yourself!). Divide that by 20 orgasms (at three sheets per: one to collect the ejaculate; two for the lonely, lonely tears) and it gives you a CPO of a mere 12 cents per orgasm! You can’t beat that price!

You’re welcome, Dawson. No need to thank me – not least since I’m sure you’re already across this, in both a metaphorical and stickily biological sense.

Wash your hands before writing your next economic opus, though, there’s a good chap.

Being friends with someone you find attractive

First published Daily Life, January 16, 2014

One of the most tiresome subjects regularly trotted out in the endless men-are-from-Vulcan-women-are-from-Tatooine discussions around gender relations is “can men and women ever just be friends?”

It’s the basis of a million rom-coms – well, When Harry Met Sally and the 999,999 rom-coms ripping it off – and countless books and articles. It’s a question that’s even inexplicably intrigued some of the greatest minds of the day. Even the venerable AC Grayling – philosopher, intellectual and warm, cuddly face of public atheism – recently delved into it in his book Friendship.

Legs, yesterday.

Legs, yesterday.

Which is all a little confusing since the answer is incredibly simple to anyone who’s spent any time dealing with other humans: yes, men and women can just be friends, obviously.

No-one aside from the most virulent pick-up artist, crazed separatist or poisonous Men’s Rights Activist could think otherwise. If you don’t have platonic pals of the opposite gender, you’re either a good deal crazier and/or sexually irresistible than anyone I know. And I know some exceptionally hot and crazy people.

So here’s another question to ponder: what’s with the “just” part?

See, the question “can men and women just be friends?” has a hidden assumption embedded in it, which is that the addition of sexual desire in a not-explicitly-romantic relationship somehow invalidates a friendship. And I’d like to argue that this is not just incorrect, but downright ridiculous.

So: you meet someone, they seem awesome. You get along like houses aflame. You also think they’re kinda cute – maybe not cute enough to ponder ending the romantic thing you already have going on with someone, or to stop the perfectly fine unpartnered life you’re currently living, or even to get your shag on. Still, they’re attractive enough that you idly think “y’know, under different circumstances, dot dot dot”. What do you do?

Well, you could maintain the idea that friendship and desire are mutually exclusive, freak the hell out, violently curse your filthy mind and run screaming from the bar. Or you could smile to yoursdelf, get your round in and enjoy the company of an excellent person.

Of course, this flies in the face of the prevailing wisdom of “friendzoning”, which makes clear that a chap needs to make his wang-move during the tiny, tiny window of opportunity before women mysteriously and irretrievably exile him to the dreaded Land of Empty, Worthless Friendship and Lonely Masturbation.

The problem with friendzoning is that as far as I can see, it doesn’t actually happen.

For one thing, fairly obviously, a lot of couples start out as being friends before they get romantically involved. One that’s particularly close to me were friends through their school and uni years, even sharing houses before they (finally, thankfully) hooked up. They’re now married, one of the loveliest couples on the planet, and hopefully going to provide me with some nieces and nephews before too long – and I don’t think their decade-plus of friendship was somehow retroactively rendered venal and manipulative just because they eventually fell in love.

I admit to having friends who, in moments of ill-advised and generally drunken bravado, I have attempted to woo. In most cases, they have gently patted me on the head and called me a cab. In a couple of cases we’ve ended up going out. In none of the cases has it forever rent our bond in twain, so appalled were they by the realisation that our previously chaste friendship was distorted by my kinda fancying them. Ditto for the (admittedly few) occasions I’ve been on the receiving end. If anything, it’s something we embarrassingly grin about to each other now.

I have exes with whom I am friends, and a couple of friendships that began as one night stands. And those friendships still feel completely legitimate, even though we’ve totally seen each other in the nuddy.

This is because the things that make someone click with us as a pal – a sense of humour, complementary interests, similar outlook on life – are the same things that most people also look for in a partner. Attractive people, as the description suggests, are attractive.

Humans are social animals. We’re constantly making subconscious assessments of other people – whether they’re a threat, whether they’re a friend, whether they’re trustworthy, whether they’re a potential mate.

This subconscious process is so valuable to human interactions that there’s a huge worldwide research programme going on to discover why some people lack this skill. If we didn’t think it a significant part of what it is to be human, causes of autism would be a research topic on par with “causes and outcomes of Clive Palmer’s fashion sense”.

Yet this notion prevails, that a true friend would never do something as vile as idly wonder what you look like naked. Even though we’re programmed to do exactly that.

Perhaps it’s a hangover from our teenage years, when there was a need to clearly delineate and identify what the nature of each relationship was lest inexperienced and hormone-ravaged people got confused and hurt. More likely it’s another manifestation of the pervasive sex negativity in our culture, where there are Good Feelings like love and Bad Feelings like lust, and the latter always defeats and destroys the former.

So maybe it’s time to reframe the question: men and women can be friends, and they can be more than friends, and they can occupy all the points in between. And that’s pretty great.

Dan Savage interview

Published in Time Out Sydney, 20 September 2013

The acclaimed US advice columnist tells us how to be “monogamish” 

If you’re not familiar with Dan Savage, then… actually, just get your hands on his column and/or podcast, both of which are called Savage Love. It’s the smartest, sharpest, funniest and least-bullshit sex and advice source on the planet and if you’ve had anything to do with humans before, or any plans to in the future, you should acquaint yourself with it right now. Off you go. We’ll wait.

OK: since you’re now a fan of Dan Savage’s work, you’ll feel very sympathetic toward his insane globe-trotting schedule of late.

“I’m in Seattle, and I’m struggling with jetlag,” he sighs. “I went to Berlin and back, then London and back, and now Sydney. I expect to be dead by November.”

The reason he’s coming to Sydney is to appear at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, where he’ll be holding forth on the concept of “monogamish relationships”: the idea that being in a committed relationship can involved outside sexual contact, and that infidelity per se is not something worth destroying a relationship over.

“I’m not against monogamy,” he insists. “I don’t go to monogamous couples and say ‘oh my god, you’re doing it wrong!’ Yet those of us who are not monogamous hear that every day from people: you don’t really love each other, it’s not really a commitment unless you’re strictly monogamous.”

Savage married his long-time boyfriend Terry Miller in Canada in 2005 (until Washington ratified same-sex marriage last year he referred to him as “my husband in Canada, my boyfriend in America”) and the pair have an adopted son, DJ. For someone so often accused of being anti-marriage, he insists he’s a huge supporter of the institution.

“It’s a shame when marriage is constantly framed as this fucking nightmare, like it’s this scorched-earth long slog to the grave. Marriage, when it works, should mean it’s more pleasure to be together than not.”

In fact, Savage argues, if you want to have a successful, long-term monogamous relationship, you first need to acknowledge that it’s genuinely difficult.

“The culture says that if you’re in love, then monogamy is easy and that if you’re in love you won’t want to fuck anybody else. And what’s absolutely and blatantly and blaringly true is that you can be crazy in love with someone, and you’re still going to want to fuck other people – and so is the person who’s in love with you. And if you can just be honest about that, it might be easier not to fuck other people.”

Savage fears that confusing love and desire leads people to throw away a great relationship because they figure that if they find someone else attractive, they mustn’t be in love.

“They’ll interpret the desire to fuck someone else as proof that they’re not in love with their partner anymore, that it’s mutually exclusive: feelings for someone else and for my partner cannot occur concurrently in the same universe. So you’ll see people end relationships, when all they are is horny for something new, or a sexual adventure.”

And that, in essence, is what Savage means by “monogamish”. “If we could define our marriages in such a way that we could still have that adventure – hopefully and preferably together and consensually – without having to drag the marriage out behind the barn and shoot it first, more marriages would survive.”

A guide to not giving women ‘the wrong idea’

First published at Daily Life, 28 August 2013

It’s so difficult these days to know whether or not you’re flirting with someone. You might think that it might be fairly obvious whether you’re sexfully interested in a person, but it transpires that we can’t always control those cues that we’re sending out.

A man in the workplace, yesterday.

A man in the workplace, yesterday.

And in these complicated times, when men and women are working together as equals – equals who aren’t paid the same or anything – we need to be extra conscious of not firing up the loins of our easily mis-cued colleagues.

Fortunately the ladies have had it all explained to them recently in the US by Jhana, an employee training and education service, via their excellent piece “What if a male colleague gets the wrong idea?” (which they sadly and inexplicably took down – but not before Jezebel took some helpful screenshots. The piece explained to the ladies that sometimes chaps get the wrong idea, which is their responsibility and definitely not just the dudes’ problem.

In a perfect world, women would feel free to dress however they want without being stigmatized for it. But know that revealing clothing and certain verbal tics, such as ending statements with an upward inflection in your voice or struggling to accept a compliment, can affect others’ ability to take you seriously.

But ladies, don’t think that you’ve been failing to take responsibility for the actions of your colleagues because you’re some sort of harlot – hey, maybe you’re just an idiot!

Don’t say or do anything you wouldn’t say or do in the presence of your grandmother. If you sense that you could start unconsciously flirting (you’re human, and sometimes it happens), imagine that your grandmother is in the room. If you’d feel embarrassed saying or doing whatever you’re about to say or do in front of Grandma, don’t go there.

And that’s the sort of helpful, not-at-all idiotic advice that helps everyone get along without conflict, let alone challenging any of those statuses or quos. But what about the poor, baffled men out there worried that they’re sending “the wrong signals” when they’re confronted with terrifying women? Don’t worry chaps, I’ve used Jhana’s insights to help construct some similarly helpful tips for the confused Y-chromes.

1. Watch what you wear, whore!

Oh sure, you should be able to wear whatever you like – if this was Shangri-la! Anyway: the point is that you might think that you look quite smart in your suit, but what message are you sending, really? We’ve all seen Mad Men, and thus we know that wearing a suit basically means that you’re totes DTF.

Casual clothes also send the message that you’re easy, and avoid anything that clings to your body and shows off things like arms or legs or necks or hands. Basically, cover your entire body in such a way that makes it appear that you’re not at all sexual, while also ensuring you look hot. But hey, have fun with it!

2. Watch what you say, moron!

We’ve all been in that awkward position where we’ve realised too late that we’ve said something flirtatious in the workplace, like, “Would anyone like a coffee?” or “Is someone trying to use the printer?”  Now use your “common sense” to determine whether you merely think the idea, or yell it out of your mouth like a crazy person. Imagine that your grandmother is watching, except that she’s very, very small, lives in your skull, is entirely under your control, is part of your brain, and isn’t your grandmother. If what you’re about to express is inappropriate, threatening or batshit insane, we say: don’t go there!

3. Nudity? No-dity!

This is connected with the first point about appropriate clothing, but this is more specific to your flirtatiousness and attitude, and whether you’re the sort of guy that is a bit touchy-feely and maybe likes to wander around the office with your junk dangling proudly like a fleshy windsock.

Strangely enough, many people find the sight of naked colleagues to be somewhere between “distracting” and “the very stuff of nightmares”, so it’s best to use your discretion to determine whether or not you genuinely believe that No Pants Thursdays is likely to get enough organisational support to become a regular thing. Rule of thumb: if you need to ask someone if they’re down with seeing your penis, they’re not down with seeing your penis.

Next week: other handy negotiating-the-workplace tips, including “when is it appropriate to start a fire?” and “running through the office screaming and slapping people: faux pas, or faux plus?”

You’re welcome.

A 99 page manual on how to date this guy

Originally published at Daily Life, 11 August 2013


The phrase “too much information” gets thrown around so much that it’s lost all meaning. Knowing your friend has had sex? TMI. Your partner had a nasty bathroom visit after a late night kebab? TMI. Thing your kid did that was actually pretty mundane but you’re terribly excited about because it’s your damn kid? Look, we’re not going to say it to your face, but rest assured: TMI.

And it’s a shame, because it means that it’s impossible to explain just much I of which this one anonymous Perth dater has given TM.

This was first brought to the world’s attention via US gossip site Gawker, who claim that it was forwarded to them from a potential datee of this chap. They had been communicating on a site for a bit and were planning their first meeting. The chap then forwarded her a document in preparation. As you do.

And dear god, it’s comprehensive.

The mere existence of this 99 page document makes it tempting to give an armchair diagnosis of obsessive/compulsive disorder and/or a placement somewhere on the autism spectrum. And there’s nothing obviously malicious in here: at no point in this voluminous screed does he outline what he expects his potential girlfriend – or, as he unfortunately dubs her, “My Woman” (yes, capitalised) – to look like, for example. However, it does make clear that he really doesn’t know how this “courting” thing works.

After the two page introduction (which is headed “Private and Confidential” – sorry, dude), which includes a glossary explaining his preferred terms (“cock”, “boobs”, “pussy”, “spunk”, “My Woman”) and a 10 page table of contents, we learn about his birth, family, education, first sexual experience, popularity (very high, apparently), future interests, diet, how he purchased his house, the renovations done to it, a breakdown of his outgoing costs, his friends, a detailed breakdown of how he splits his time over the 168 hours available to him per week (49 hours for sleep and sex, if you’re wondering), a comparison breakdown of how he would seek to free up some of that time if you were to become his partner, interests, projects (business and personal), position on public displays of affection (pro, within reason) and exercise regime.

With these preliminaries out of the way, we come to Page 27: his “Seeking Criteria”, including his “Imaginary Wakeup Test”:

I have an Imaginary Wakeup Test. Can I imagine waking up next to My Woman each and every morning of my life and smiling as well as nice words and perhaps Kissing or Cuddle. Then not only continue to Respect myself but to also Respect My Woman, and to Respect us as a Couple. It’s great to feel that all around Respect can be there for substantial Times.

From here until page 36 we learn that he values a relationship, and is concerned about STIs. Very concerned. There are those that might think that calculating the risk of contracting a blood-borne disease through skin abrasion is maybe a second-date subject, but he gives a breakdown on the topic along with a list of STIs for which he has never been tested positively, and the two that he has (thrush and Chlamydia, both treated). This is important, because it becomes clear down the track that he’s really not expecting to have to use condoms (except when you’re on your period – but let’s not jump ahead!).

But what of that magical first date itself? Unsurprisingly, he’s given that some thought too.

There’s five pages on the “pre-meeting stage” (pages 37-41), in which he stresses the value of spontaneity and unpredictability among his meticulously collated dot points before explaining among many, many other things the makeup of any sexy pix that might be sent (or, as he puts it, Very Naughty pix):

I also like getting (from you) the following types of Naughty pics, before we even meet up on the night:

a) All these other pics without your Face showing,

b) A Full frontal pics – naked – in front of perhaps a mirror,

c) Your Boobs (preferably in an aroused state),

d) Legs apart looking up,

e) Your vulvae with Vaginal opening – with your Legs open, Aroused.

f) Inside your Vagina,

g) Your Clitoris – right in. Aroused with Clit hood back as needed.

Feel uncomfortable about these details? Don’t worry! This list is followed by reasons a) though f) as to why you should send them to him anyway, which should allay any fears you may have. Oh, and does helpfully note that “The Vagina gets typically one third bigger during sex”, so don’t feel inadequate, ladies. Why this doesn’t come up on page 45 – “Relaxed Dialogue” – is baffling.

He also explains his moisturising and depilatory regime ahead of the date, suggests a dress code (skirt or dress for you, smart casual for him – don’t expect jeans as he only has a couple of pairs he wears when renovating), a list of the likely thoughts you should expect him to have going through his mind, and what you can expect when you turn up:

If I like what I see I will almost certainly greet with a firm Cuddle or two (or 6). I will sense your response but it is an early signal to you:

a) I like what I see,

b) It’s a relief to see you arrive,

c) Let’s Enjoy ourselves.

…and a proposed schedule of how the date will go with several options, including that “After a Coffee or a drink, a walk and a nice meal (if not earlier) we should express our interests in each other.” (emphasis his). Assuming you are amenable to seeing him, he’d like to seal the deal with some “Good quality Sex”. After all, as he points out a few pages later, “if we do not make Love with each other on the first date / night – then we are probably not matched.”

The bit on dating and how the rest of the night will go after that first declaration of intention takes us up to page 57, where we get into the nitty gritty of how exactly the sex is going to work. This is broken down into several sections under the heading “Early Next Stage Toward Love Making”. Here he explains his orgasms (recovery time, semen taste, consistency – watery for first and second, dry for third and subsequent), your orgasms (clitoral, vaginal and G-spot), cock size (“I am just over 11 inches at full throb; and Cock Width or Cock Girth is 2.3 inches”, his methodology for measuring said cock, advantages and disadvantages of his cock size, and why sex is important.

Then, at page 70, we get to foreplay, with particular emphasis on the “Clitorus”.

Like I said, comprehensive.

From 77 we get a breakdown of his exact moves (including the tantalising Concluding Cock Slip and Dip) and positions, which are sadly lacking in detail beyond “more to follow” under a selection of headings. Toys come in on page 83 – he has an impressive collection – and what he enjoys in a mastubatory setting. Page 88-89 explain more about the early stages of the relationship, and then there is the world’s most giggle-inducing index:

Cock, 2, 95


Size 10, 64, 66, 95

Measuring 10, 95

Hygiene 36, 44, 95

Length 40, 64, 66, 80, 95

Width, 64, 66, 95

Girth, 64, 66, 95

Cock Slap 11, 77, 80, 98, 99

Coffee 4, 24, 26, 42, 46, 48, 56, 95

Cote d’Azure 95

The entire thing can be read here, and you’re going to want a coffee (pages 4, 24, 26, 42, 46, 48, 56, 95).

Then again, it makes a change from “a/s/l”? at least?

Should relationships last ’til death do us part?

First published in Daily Life, January 14, 2013

“I wasn’t looking to get into a relationship at all,” she said, as we gently agreed that we were no longer seeing one another, “but when someone like you comes along, you can’t not at least try.”

It was the single sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me, and it was the perfect end to a short but lovely relationship.

Yeah, enjoy it while you can, stock photo models.

Yeah, enjoy it while you can, stock photo models.

Tania* and I had been seeing each other for a couple of months and it had been superb – not least because she is an incredible cook and had a spectacular habit of making us dinner before we went out. We saw bands; we watched DVDs; we propped up bars, stayed at each other’s places, and even had a little weekend away with her best friends. And it was around then that we realised that it wasn’t to be a love for the ages.

It was predictable, really: both of us were not far out of long-term relationships, neither had envisaged getting into anything serious, and it became clear that, much as we liked each other, this was not It.

And so we transitioned into being friends instead (in fact, I’m writing this before attending a picnic she’s throwing). She’s still one of my favourite people and I’m proud to have introduced her to the awesomeness that is Party Down – and delighted to have learnt how to pan fry peaches in brandy.

It’s easy enough to look at a short-lived relationship and feel relatively sanguine about it; but it’s harder when it’s a long term thing that you honestly thought would end in holiday dinners surrounded by grandkids and a tearful eulogy at your partner’s funeral. Sure, we all know that most relationships end – cue the appearance of the oft-cited a-third-of-Australian-marriages-end-in-divorce statistic – but I believe that that US sex and relationship advice columnist Dan Savage put it best in a recent podcast: “Every relationship ends until you find one that doesn’t,” he said to a fresh dumpee, “and you only know which one that is once you’re dead.”

Yet it’s nearly impossible to see a relationship as anything but a failure once it ends. Why is it so difficult to accept these things might have a use-by date and yet that our lives are still the richer for having experienced them – even taking into account the pain and loss that involves?

After all, a marriage that ends in divorce is invariably described as a “failed marriage” – and I have one of those myself. My divorce was the hardest thing I ever went through, and by the standards of most splits I’ve seen happen it was relatively amicable. However, I had to let go of a 16 year relationship, pretty much my entire adult life, and recalibrate my expectations for everything from having a family to my financial security to my own self-image as A Husband.

And it hurt. It hurt impossibly. And I wasn’t the same man after it as I was going in.

These days, however, I keep in regular (if not especially frequent) email contact with my ex-wife, who now lives in Montreal with our cat, and we’re continually recommending books and records and films to one another. I’ll explain why she needs to hear Melodie Nelson, say, and she’ll send a long nerdy rant about things Prometheus got horribly, horribly wrong knowing that I’ll violently agree with every point. It’s easier for things to be convivial since we’re separated by an entire planet, sure – but regardless of our current status, her influence on my life has been immeasurable. For all of the agony of losing her, I wouldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t for our time together – and even at this remove, I’m glad she’s still part of my life.

Conversely, I’m not on speaking terms with my last serious girlfriend and may well never be again. However, the Moon globe marked with the Apollo landing sites that she bought me for my birthday still has pride of place in my kitchen, and those memories remain precious. We may never want to be in the same room again if either of us can help it, but I don’t regret our time together. And I never want to be the sort of person who would.

Because ultimately, every union ends one way or another – until, as Savage says, we’re in one that doesn’t. We get our hearts knocked about, and all of us end up marked by the relationships we’ve had. We love and we lose; and when we lose we cry and we drink and we fuck and we bitch and we promise that we’re absolutely never going to do this again, and then we notice that the bruises have adequately faded, brace ourselves, take a deep breath, and plunge back into the fray.

By the time most of us are in our thirties we’re covered in smudges of old loves and while they fade with time, they never vanish entirely. And while that process can be exquisitely painful – and it is, dear god it really is – who wants to see out their days unspoilt and pristine? Like a good pair of boots, you want your life to be properly lived-in before giving it up.

I would hate to feel that any of the people I’ve loved represented time wasted, because – for better and worse – they’ve been strongly responsible for most of the best parts of the person I’ve become.

Every love leaves its mark and, for all of the pain it’s involved along the way, I hope to be well-mottled by the time I get to the grave. Some loves aren’t meant to last forever, and you know what? That’s actually OK. Because when someone like that comes along, you can’t not at least try.

*Names have been changed.

Loving someone with depression

Originally published in Daily Life, December 21 2012

Depression, to use an official medical term, is arse.

While other recognised health conditions have the good grace to do flare up, do their illness-related business and then go away, depression lingers around sapping energy and ruining everything it touches. It’s pervasive and it’s nasty, a relentless time thief that drains the colour out of everything good. Beyondblue estimate 20 percent of Australians suffer from depression at some point in their lives, which means that almost everyone I don’t know personally must be getting along fine.

Almost everyone I know has had treatment for depression at one time or another, and I’m no exception. I’m a pretty relentlessly busy fellow partially because I like doing stuff, but principally because I know that the abyss isn’t ever that far away and there have been times where the pressure of external responsibilities is the only thing forcing me to get out of bed.

A person in bed, yesterday.

A person in bed, yesterday.

During those times I am, typically, not a barrel of laughs. Depression is hard. However: it’s also hard on the people who care about me most. And it took me an inexcusably long time to realise this.

Loving someone with depression is a lot of work. They’re suffering and obviously you want to help them out of the hole. Depression is generally linked with low self-esteem and hence some severely depressed people have limited motivation to help themselves, since they don’t think they’re worth it.

And, obviously, we want to help the people we care about.

And that’s part of the problem: the act of giving people that attention and love can just as easily motivate someone to wallow exactly because it gets them so much wonderful attention and love.

Worse still: person with low self-esteem is given love and support by partner; person feels unworthy of said love because of aforementioned low self-esteem; person then throws said love and support back in partner’s face, thereby confirming unworthiness, because what sort of person would be so unkind? An unworthy one is what. And boom: the circular argument is complete.

And make no mistake, there’s a sneaking contempt in there of the form “I clearly suck, so if you love me you’re some sort of idiot and therefore not worthy of my respect.” This is one way that people use their depression against their partner – and it’s an insidious trick, because the victim feels guilty for accusing the abuser of their abuse.

Thus depression creates victims that are not themselves depressed, and it’s as much a challenge for the person suffering to moderate their own behaviour – to seek help, to actively fight their condition – as it is for those trying to support to know when they need to get out for their own sanity and happiness.

Now, let me be clear: this isn’t about blaming people with depression. Depression is a nightmare: the pit, the darkness, the black dog. What it’s definitely not, however, is some sort of mystical Get Out Of Jail Free card for cruel behaviour.

“Sorry, I’m really depressed at the moment,” might be adequate for not attending an acquaintance’s picnic; it’s definitely doesn’t cut it for reducing your partner to tears as you meticulously explain why every suggestion they’re making as to how you might feel better is completely stupid. It’s an explanation, perhaps, but it’s sure as hell not an excuse.

And while depression isn’t specifically a gender issue, depression within a straight relationship so easily can be: the cliché of the tortured artist and the accommodating muse provides a potent model for women who are already socialised to be carers to continually prop up their oh-so-suffering man at the expense of their own happiness.

To take an excitingly astronomical sidetrack here: stars that are between a certain size range end their life in an enormous, destructive explosion called a supernova. However, there’s a very specific type called a type 1A supernova that astronomers are very fond of as they are all identical in brightness (and therefore great for working out distances between galaxies).

In such a case there are two stars orbiting one another, neither large enough to become a supernova by itself. However, they’re so close that the larger one actually pulls mass from the surface of the smaller until it finally ticks over the size threshold for a supernova (about 1.38 times as big as the Sun, fact fans) and promptly explodes, destroying both stars and everything else nearby.

A relationship with a depressive can be just like this, with one partner dragging love and energy from the other until finally the whole relationship explodes messily, taking out everyone involved.

It took me a long, long time to realise that my moods were neither the fault nor the responsibility of the people who cared about me. And lovely people were unnecessarily hurt.

So: if you’re a sufferer, take a moment to ask yourself, “Am I using the love and support of the people I’m relying upon to help get me through this difficult time, or am taking some sort of weird pleasure in having all of my beliefs about how much I suck reaffirmed by my sucky behaviour?”

And if you love someone with depression, take a moment to ask if they genuinely appreciate your support, or just enjoy dragging you into the pit.