Stephen W. Browne Rants and Raves

June 27, 2009


Filed under: Relationships — Tags: — Stephen W. Browne @ 1:44 am

Boy that got your attention didn’t it?

It seems to have everyone’s attention these days. At the latest count there are two political sex scandals in the news, one writer humiliating her soon-to-be-ex husband in print, and 24/7 coverage of the death of an accused pedophile pop megastar.

To wit:

– Senator John Ensign (R-NV) revealed he had an affair with a staffer – and was by the way cuckolding another staffer.

He came clean after they pulled what looks suspiciously like a Badger Game on him.

Anyone else remember that idiom? Its’ an old con: woman seduces man, her husband walks in…

No less a politician than Alexander Hamilton fell for that one.

Ensign’s wife issued a statement, “Since we found out last year we have worked through the situation and we have come to a reconciliation.”

Since “we” found out? Was Ensign sleepwalking during this affair? Perhaps he had amnesia?

Of course liberals are ecstatic about this one. Oh the hypocrisy! Ensign is a born-again Christian and got awful holy about Clinton’s adulteries a while back.

Leftist politicians are by definition not hypocrits about sex and extramarital affairs. It’s only hypocrisy if you believe what you’re doing is wrong.

The likes of Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy are not hypocrits, merely opportunistic liars. Their only regret is getting caught.

The hypocrits are the feminist leadership who make excuses for them when they treat women as disposable conveniences to be used and discarded, sometimes in shallow bodies of water.

Ensign showed a measure of backbone by refusing to be blackmailed.* Like the Duke of Wellington when a would-be blackmailer threatened to publish some damaging correspondence.

“Publish and be damned!” Wellington replied.

Of course, by that time the Iron Duke was in the House of Lords and didn’t have to stand for no steenking election.

The Ensigns have three kids.

Note: remember that I foretold you here:

Starting I think a year after Obama takes office, if there is a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, it’s going to get very bad.

If the Republicans succeed in keeping a one or two-vote filibuster number, how much do you want to bet the news media can find a scandal or two to knock at least one Republican politico out of congress?

Told you.

– South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (A Republican with a libertarian bent) fessed up he’s been having an affair for, evidently a while now. His wife kicked him out of the house a while back, and more importantly didn’t stand up with him in public while he made his obligatory public abasement. (Good for her!)

The thing that makes this scandal actually, you know… interesting, is the sheer airheadedness of the way Sanford sent emails which wound up in the hands of a local paper for months before the scandal broke, and left the state without doing his constitutional duty to turn the office over to the Lieutenant Governor during his absence.

By now EVERYONE knows emails should be considered about as private as a postcard. His ineptness in covering a flight to Argentina**, where he spent five days crying in homage to Evita, suggests that on some level Sanford wanted to be caught.

Governor Sanford’s public confession was a weird mixture of painful and kind of sweet to watch.

It’s always painfully embarrassing to watch a man fall apart in public. What was kind of sweet was, as he was maundering on about his Argentine inamorata, it became plain the guy’s in love with her.

This isn’t a Bill Clinton/Ted Kennedy-style conquest f**k, Sanford plainly adores this woman. Can you doubt this after reading the emails?

Lust can make you do extremely stupid things, but it takes true love to really motivate you to screw your life up.

He could have pulled a Sarkozy, divorced his wife, and married the exotic hottie. Liberals are always going on about how the Europeans are so much more sophisticated about sexual matters than we grim American puritans, they’d scarsely be in a position to kvetch* – but he’s got four young boys.

If you think they’re not going to hurt for a long time over this, maybe forever, you’re fooling yourself. That goes for you too Sandra. Tsing Loh, sweet chariot…Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Well, as Paul Harvey used to say, “After all guys, it is their turn.”

Sandra Tsing Loh, writer and performance artist (with a B.A. in physics, I’m impressed) has a piece in The Atlantic that has a fair number of conservatives in a twitter. (Oh wait, that means something different now. And BTW, Sandra makes puns on her own name as well. She once had a radio show called, “The Loh Life,” which I thought was pretty clever.)

“Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”

The author is ending her marriage. Isn’t it time you did the same?

Sadly, and to my horror, I am divorcing. This was a 20-year partnership. My husband is a good man, though he did travel 20 weeks a year for work. I am a 47-year-old woman whose commitment to monogamy, at the very end, came unglued. This turn of events was a surprise. I don’t generally even enjoy men; I had an entirely manageable life and planned to go to my grave taking with me, as I do most nights to my bed, a glass of merlot and a good book. Cataclysmically changed, I disclosed everything. We cried, we rent our hair, we bewailed the fate of our children. And yet at the end of the day—literally during a five o’clock counseling appointment, as the golden late-afternoon sunlight spilled over the wall of Balinese masks—when given the final choice by our longtime family therapist, who stands in as our shaman, mother, or priest, I realized … no. Heart-shattering as this moment was—a gravestone sunk down on two decades of history—I would not be able to replace the romantic memory of my fellow transgressor with the more suitable image of my husband, which is what it would take in modern-therapy terms to knit our family’s domestic construct back together. In women’s-magazine parlance, I did not have the strength to “work on” falling in love again in my marriage. And as Laura Kipnis railed in Against Love, and as everyone knows, Good relationships take work.

The rest is rather rambling and disjointed. In the middle it reveals that she finds some of her friends are thinking of doing the same, claims her two daughters are just fine, and ends with a rousing call to… what? Get rid of marriage?

Not quite, in spite of the title and subtitle. She does point out that marriages over time tend to get almost intolerably dull.

One is tempted to congratulate her on the triumphant discovery of the obvious.

She says the company of a good man who is a great father was ultimately never going to be as heart-poundingly exciting as trysts with her lover.


Although, there is curiously little about her lover in the piece. He, like her husband and even children, appear briefly onstage as curiously two-dimensional characters. The only people in the piece who appear fully fleshed-out are her female friends, who seem to stand in as extensions of herself and her need to gas on endlessly about her favorite subject, herself.

And though her encomiums to her husband abound in the article and the videolog she’s keeping about the divorce process, one has to wonder what he did to her to piss her off so much that she should humiliate him in public?

Oh, she never meant to do that when she implied, or actively stated that she found him a bore in bed and cuckolded him with someone so much more exciting?

And no doubt her children will never get it back from their schoolmates because little kids don’t read The Atlantic, and their parents would never talk about that kind of thing in front of them.

But do read the article, she does in fact have some interesting things to say. Also a great many misleading ones, such as the prevalence of divorce in America.

“One in two marriages ends in divorce,” is true but does not mean that most couples are going to get divorced. Most people do in fact wind up in stable, long-lived marriages.

What the statistics (and observation) reveal is that the divorce average is inflated by 1) people who have one early marriage that fails, remarry and stay married the next time, and 2) a much smaller number of much-married relationship junkies who raise the average way high all by themselves.

(An ex of mine had just divorced husband number five last I heard. Which was some time ago, she may have done even more to raise the average by now.)

Loh discovered that living with the same person for a long time can become, we shall say routine, and going to bed with a good book and a glass of Merlot is what she looked forward to every day.

This, as I mentioned, is not news to the vast majority of married couples. So what is to be done?

There’s good old-fashioned cheating of course. But that involves deception, which Loh evidently couldn’t live with.

For Christ’s sake, even Dear Abby (the original, not her daughter who took over the family business) said, if you slip; bury it, live with it, and don’t burden your partner with it.

Open Marriage*** has it’s advocates, though Loh admits the concept is kind of icky.

It is indeed, and I would point out that over thirty-odd years, couples I’ve known with open marriage agreements have had a 100 percent failure rate. Making “open marriages” far less stable than merely adulterous ones.

Listen, I understand, really I do. The desire for sex with someone new is a drive probably hard-wired into our brains by evolution, and I’ll deal with that in a subsequent post.

Perhaps even more than the discipline of fidelity, the responsibilities of marriage with children weigh upon one. No matter how happy or content you are, from time to time you are going to be tortured by the possibilities that would lie before you if you didn’t have the responsibility of caring for little persons who would be helpless without you.

I don’t mean the freedom to tom-or-tabbycat around. I still dream of building that oil-drum raft and pushing off into the Pacific ocean like that 70-year-old man I read about in my youth.

Maybe I will someday – but that day is not yet. Not while there are little ones relying on Daddy to be there for them.

– And then there’s Michael Jackson, the celebrity death that surprised me least.

I really can’t bring myself to say much about that sad, pathetic person-of-male-gender.

Was he an active pedophile? So far all we have is a Scotch Verdict, “Not proven.”

De morituris nihil nisi bonum est, but…

1) Paying a multi-million-dollar settlement is not the behavior of an innocent man. On the other hand, after paying once and realizing it really encouraged others to make the same accusation, he did fight tooth and nail the next time it happened. On the other hand, the behavior of that “welfare mother” Geraldo Rivera so plainly despises looked a lot like a greedy mother getting a kid to “take one for the team” – shades of The Godfather!

2) The saddest thing of all is that he hired women to create children for him, to be his playthings. Anyone want to take bets on how their lives turn out?

3) If he wasn’t an active pedophile, his behavior with little boys was still mega-creepy.

Rest in peace Michael. Sadly, this is probably the only peace you’ve ever known.

* I’m going to say this again. The leftie sophisticates’ claim that sophisticated Europeans see nothing wrong about this kind of thing is misleading at best. True, many cultures European and non-European like the Philippines, allow a man to keep a querida on the side, but the rule is you do not let it affect your marriage and you DO NOT humiliate your wife.

** It has however, produced one really great joke. His staff misheard when they said he was hiking the Apallachian Trail. He actually said he was tracking some Argentine tail. Thanks Gov.

*** ‘Open Marriage’ was the title of a book published in 1973 by anthropologists George and Nena O’Neil that quickly entered the language as a synonym for what the Brits call a “relaxed marriage.”

The book was basically about marriage where the couple were comfortable enough with each other that they didn’t feel the need to live in each others’ laps, gave each other their space, etc. Stuff that sounds pretty orthodox now.

In precisely one short chapter they discussed the possibility of non-monogamous relationships – which were seized on by bunches of readers as permission to cat around.

They came to bitterly regret this, and Nena specifically argued for fidelity in a subsequent book. Largely because every one of the couples they knew with ‘open marriages’ got divorced in the interval between the first book and the second.

Previous posts on marriage, sex and relationships:

UPDATE: That article where Tsandra Tsings is evidently striking a chord. The morning after this was posted I opened MSN to find the article in full and a video interview of Sandra, with the obligatory defense of marriage shrink by her side.

Sandra’s argument is weak, though to be fair she probably had all of 90 seconds to make it. The interviewer paraphrased it for her first: marriage is an invention of agrarian societies because intact family units were needed to work the farm.

No, marriage predated agriculture. It is a universal feature of hunter-gatherer societies as well.

Sandra made a revealing statement before the video cut off, “I decided I had better things to do with my time than over-parent my kids.”

So is she divorcing her husband or her kids?

* UPDATE: Nope, it now turns out Mommy and Daddy were paying off the couple to the tune of $96,000 – so far as of the time of this update. That’s not bad for pimping your old lady. The payments were explained as “gifts” to the wife, husband, and children.

I hope she was good John, that is one expensive piece of tail.

Hey kiddies, Mommy’s taken an extra job to earn your college money.

November 29, 2008

A bad time for lovers

Filed under: Book reviews,Culture,Relationships — Tags: — Stephen W. Browne @ 9:15 pm

There has been a bit of Net buzz lately over Kay Hymowitz’s two articles about the marriage and dating scene, published this year in City Journal.

Hymowitz first looked at the scene from the point view of women’s complaints in the Winter 2008 issue, Child-Man in the Promised Land.

Now meet the twenty-first-century you, also 26. You’ve finished college and work in a cubicle in a large Chicago financial-services firm. You live in an apartment with a few single guy friends. In your spare time, you play basketball with your buddies, download the latest indie songs from iTunes, have some fun with the Xbox 360, take a leisurely shower, massage some product into your hair and face—and then it’s off to bars and parties, where you meet, and often bed, girls of widely varied hues and sizes. They come from everywhere: California, Tokyo, Alaska, Australia. Wife? Kids? House? Are you kidding?

Not so long ago, the average mid-twentysomething had achieved most of adulthood’s milestones—high school degree, financial independence, marriage, and children. These days, he lingers—happily—in a new hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance. Decades in unfolding, this limbo may not seem like news to many, but in fact it is to the early twenty-first century what adolescence was to the early twentieth: a momentous sociological development of profound economic and cultural import. Some call this new period “emerging adulthood,” others “extended adolescence.”

Then evidently she received a deluge of mail from angry, resentful men, and had another look – from the point of view of twenty-something men, in the Autumn, 2008 issue, Love in the Time of Darwinism.

It would be easy enough to hold up some of the callow ranting that the piece inspired as proof positive of the child-man’s existence. But the truth is that my correspondents’ objections gave me pause. Their argument, in effect, was that the SYM (Single Young Male) is putting off traditional markers of adulthood—one wife, two kids, three bathrooms—not because he’s immature but because he’s angry. He’s angry because he thinks that young women are dishonest, self-involved, slutty, manipulative, shallow, controlling, and gold-digging. He’s angry because he thinks that the culture disses all things male. He’s angry because he thinks that marriage these days is a raw deal for men.

Here’s Jeff from Middleburg, Florida: “I am not going to hitch my wagon to a woman . . . who is more into her abs, thighs, triceps, and plastic surgery. A woman who seems to have forgotten that she did graduate high school and that it’s time to act accordingly.” Jeff, meet another of my respondents, Alex: “Maybe we turn to video games not because we are trying to run away from the responsibilities of a ‘grown-up life’ but because they are a better companion than some disease-ridden bar tramp who is only after money and a free ride.” Care for one more? This is from Dean in California: “Men are finally waking up to the ever-present fact that traditional marriage, or a committed relationship, with its accompanying socially imposed requirements of being wallets with legs for women, is an empty and meaningless drudgery.” You can find the same themes posted throughout websites like AmericanWomenSuck, NoMarriage, MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way), and Eternal Bachelor (“Give modern women the husband they deserve. None”).

I have to say, I think it’s admirable of Hymowitz to turn around and consider that there is, after all, another side to the problem.

Perhaps I’m not well-qualified to speak to this issue. For one, I haven’t dated an American woman in about twenty years. For another, I’ve been married for eight years – a new personal best in relationship longevity for me.

When I was last single in America, my experience was not good. I wrote in a previous post, ‘Have some free relationship advice’.

(UPDATE: Now divorced and raising two kids alone. The ex Americanized rapidly.)

I’m a survivor of two really bad long-term relationships. I won’t go into the details because, 1) they’re really not relevant, and 2) in spite of the Oprah-age, let-it-all-hang-out culture we live in, I think it’s vulgar. Suffice it to say, together they consumed a total of ten years of my life and had repercussions that echo to this day.

It wasn’t until the end of the second disaster (nice word that, it means “evil star”), that I realized I had made the same mistake as the first. The first was excusable, I was young and new to the serious relationship scene. The second time, I thought I’d hooked up with a partner who was different in every way from the first – physically, intellectually and personality-wise.

What I realized too late was that they had both had something in common that overrode all their basic differences – they were unhappy people.

I have had no personal contact with either of these former partners for many years. I have heard of them though, and the evidence would seem to indicate they are both still unhappy people. (One is married with two grown children and still cruises bars, less and less successfully as she ages. The other had divorced husband number five when I last heard of her. That game isn’t going to get easier as she approaches 60 either.)

Slightly better were relationships with single mothers raising children with zero help from the fathers, financial or otherwise. Yes they wanted a meal ticket, but at least showed evidence of being willing to show gratitude for it.

In that whole period of my life, the best relationship I had before I left for Poland was a purely utilitarian one. I was working on finishing my Master’s, she was in the middle of a divorce and neither of us had time for complications. We were introduced by mutual friends, and used to meet for conversation and physical release, no strings attached.

Understand, I liked her just fine, she was good company. And she probably liked me too. But we walked away without a backward glance, in spite of some good times together. I remember her quite fondly, but I probably think of her least often – and I suspect the same is true of her.

It would be easy for a man to blame this on American women – and some do. (See:

I recently had a conversation with a friend in Texas who is getting his doctorate in Mathematics, so his income prospects are pretty good. He’s good-looking, well-travelled, cultured – and single.

He told me, “If a woman expresses an interest, about half the time I’ve found she’s setting you up for humiliation.”

If I’d had time though, there are a couple of women I could have introduced him to. Both in their 30s, intelligent, great personalities (I’ve known both of them since they were kids), real lookers – and single.

I could even have introduced him to another academic (not American), who is highly intelligent and goddam gorgeous. You’d think she’d have to beat off potential suitors with a club.

I’ve never seen her at a social function with a date.

What the heck is going on?

Well, women are delaying marriage for career reasons. This is actually not new, Thomas Sowell pointed out that this was actually more common in the early 20th century than it became in the 1950s – so perhaps this is the upswing of another one of those cycle things.

And yet something is different this time around. A woman may have married later back then, but she was expected to arrive without the baggage of kids with no father in sight (unless she was a respectable widow), and any sexual history was supposed to be discretely buried.

Some conservatives blame the Sexual Revolution and Women’s Liberation.

Well, the Sexual Revolution deserves a re-thinking for sure. Birth control, and antibiotics, delivered us (for a while at least) from our biology – but not from our nature.

“Sexual liberation ought logically to have brought in a time of ‘naturalness,’ ease, and candor between men and women. It has, on the contrary, filled the country with sexual self-consciousness, uncertainty, and fear.” – Wendell Berry

People who sleep together regularly, tend to fall in love, get possessive, sexually jealous and all that old-fashioned stuff. Unless they are emotionally retarded, or deliberately, by a conscious act of will, shut off a part of themselves from their partners.

(Or unless they are sleeping with someone they are at least adequately attracted to – and don’t like. And believe me, there is something enormously liberating about that -in a thoroughly soul-corrupting sort of way.)

And what we kept running into was, young girls who become sexually active, on a level below rational thought, want to get pregnant. It’s one of those basic biological drives that extreme environmentalists (like Marxists) don’t want to believe in.

Can there be any other explanation for the combination of readily available, effective birth control and the skyrocketing rate of out-of-wedlock births?

For nearly two generations, newly-discovered antibiotics could handle nearly all common STDs. Then our vacation from history was over with, first herpes – then AIDS. In essence, we were thrown back to our grandparents’ world of incurable STDs. AIDS, was the new syphilis.

Women’s lib started as a righteous demand for women to be let into the work force and judged on their competence like anyone else, and for men to stop patronizing them.

Watch some of those TV commercials from the ’50s and early ’60s if you don’t think that last was a valid complaint. They are absolutely cringe-making in the patronizing attitudes towards women they display.

Then it got hijacked by lunatics. Now whatever it’s about, it’s not equality. The Larry Summers affair at Harvard demonstrates that with certainty. Women on colleges across the country demanded the right to punish a man – not even for an opinion, but for a tentative speculation based on a demonstrable truth. For Thoughtcrime in fact.

But who started this? Anthropologist Lionel Tiger (what a wonderful name!) speculated that Women’s Lib was a response to men abandoning their responsibilities of support for partners and children. Which for women is scary enough to drive them pretty crazy.

My generation’s contribution to Men’s Lib, “Like wow, this fatherhood trip isn’t my thing. See ya.”

Tiger speculated the implicit message of Women’s Lib was, “If you won’t support us, then give us your damn jobs!”

I could speculate forever, but won’t here, yet. I’m getting too far from what I’m really sure of.

I will venture one guess, two things are different from previous times of great social change.

One is that while previous codes of morality and behavior may have been harsh, they were at least based on a generally good understanding of what human nature is, and formulated rules accordingly to control the excesses of behavior that we are prone to by nature.

They didn’t know about evolutionary biology, back in Old Testament times, but they had what I call a “pre-scientific intuition” of its consequences.

In these times, the lingering legacy of the extreme environmentalist position has it that there is no fixed human nature, or that “human nature is infinitely plastic” (Sir Arthur C. Clarke, who really ought to know better) and can be molded to whatever form we desire.


The other piece of philosophical lunacy is that there is no fixed reality and that truth can always be redefined contextually.

The consequences of this are far-reaching and show up in unexpected places. One of which I suspect may be the youth suicide rate. The notion that there is no place to plant your feet is terrifying for young people.

What all this adds up to is, here and now, it’s a bad time for lovers.

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