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While Money Can Get You In, It Doesn’t Buy You Game… Necessarily!

So, I am in a cab on a Friday night at about midnight. I’m on my way to a downtown Buffalo hotel, where I will do two presentations Saturday, one in the morning for a group of Nursing faculty and the other presentation will be in the afternoon for a group of students. I was a bit tired, because I had worked most of the night before on an analysis of survey results for a company I consult to, as well as graded papers for the Examining Diversity through Film course I co-teach at SUNY Plattsburgh. Friday itself had not been grueling, but just busy. You know those days where your phone just rings, and it seems everywhere you turn you are in a conversation with someone. Not that those conversations aren’t energizing, but have enough of them and your energy will nevertheless begin to drop.

The cab driver was an older man, probably around sixty, very witty, quite charming, and on his way to retirement. He described himself as only a weekend driver now, essentially semi-retired, and Italian, which made me an honorary Italian for the duration of the ride because he continually and very comfortably called me “brother.” I liked that!

We were chit-chatting and he was bringing up different topics for me to weigh in on since he had earlier asked what I did and I told him college professor/administrator, consultant, lecture/presenter. When I told him I taught diversity/philosophy courses and named some of them, I don’t think he heard anything after I said Romance, Sex, Love, and Marriage. That led him to ask me about the recent gubernatorial happenings within New York State.

It is a funny thing to discuss the Spitzer situation alone, in the company of men. After I weighed in and revealed my excitement about the new opportunities that lie ahead for New York State with a doubly underrepresented person accepting the mantle of leadership, thus spoke the sagacious driver: “But Spitzer was stupid. He could have had women, many of them, and never had problems if he had game.” I was caught off guard with his assertion of Spitzer needing game to avoid the situation he was in. I’m curious as to what some of you may think he meant by Spitzer not having “game.” What is the game that Spitzer needed to have to have avoided his situation?

I also wondered how different our conversation might have been if I had been accompanied by a female colleague. Would the cabby’s disdain for Spitzer’s actions have surfaced in more of a politically correct way, or not at all? Would the cabby have been more judgmental in terms of Spitzer’s morality if a woman had been in on the conversation between us? Why would a woman’s presence have changed the dynamic of a reaction to Spitzer’s infidelity? Lastly, how would American society have treated Hillary different if as a married woman she had purchased the services of a male escort? And let's pretend she didn't owe Bill any payback!


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Most of the women I know say of the Spitzer situation something like "he was so stupid!" or "what a horrible man" or "how could he do that to his wife and daughters."
Most of the men I know ask something like "what do you suppose you get for $5000 an hour?"

I was discussing this whole thing with a mixed-gender group of co-workers last week and it actually amazed me at how frank we could all be with each other. The men in the break room could agree with the women (if for different reasons) that the former Governor was just plain dumb in the way he went about everything. He should have known better than anyone else, not just THAT he could easily be caught, but HOW he could be caught, having used some of the same survailance techniques as Attorney General. And the men could also identify with the women that what he was doing was horrible, frankly; horrible to his wife, and his daughters and the fact that he's such a public figure makes it all the more difficult on his family.
And the women could laugh with the men too - wondering just what $5000 an hour buys. In fact, some women even joked that perhaps they were in the wrong line of work if there was something out there for them at that hourly rate!
As I reflect on the discussion I feel pretty good that everyone could feel safe offering their opinions, jokes, and jabs in a respectful, safe environment. Guess I work with a pretty easy-going crew.
On the cab-driver's comments...just what is "game?" Did he perhaps mean just plain masculine attraction? Like a Casanova? I suppose he's right. Why purchase that which you can get for free? I have my own theory - I think for some reason he WANTED to get caught.
On Hilary - Sorry JW - just can't separate the woman from the History. Frankly, most of the women I know would say something like "good for her!" or "you GO girl!" And I have a feeling - given Bill's transgressions - the media would probably give her a pretty big pass as well.
More generally, I think there's a double standard when it comes to men, women and paying for sex (newsflash). I can't remember ever hearing about a woman being prosecuted for BUYING sex, nor a man prosecuted for selling it (do you call that a "call-guy?"), at least, not any high-profile cases.
Item - NPR interviewed a Madame in Albany (imagine that) who's comment was something like "well, you'd think he'd keep at least SOME of that money in the state by buying local!"
Item - Also on NPR I heard a story that, in most cases like this, the "John" is almost never prosecuted and it's the woman, or, the call-girl ring leaders that do the most serious time. In this case, there's a better-than-even chance that Spitzer (the John) WILL be prosecuted and the woman (Kristen?) won't spend a second in jail.
Item - Another NPR story? In Sweden, selling sex isn't illegal, but, BUYING sex is. So, the idea is you criminalize the customers and treat the prostituetes as victims. That way, the prostitutes don't feel like they're getting themselves in trouble by turning in someone or reporting abusive customers.

*** CB, the wealth of information at your finger tips never fails to amaze me. The women in your crew sound as if they themselves have game (whatever that is, right?). As I exit you should know this... as long as you are willing to take a turn dealing Card Buddy I will continue to play! *** J.W.

It seems to me that the cabbie was alluding to the fact that Spitzer needn't have had to pay for women. Had Spitzer had "game", he could have had his pick of women, and wouldn't have had to expose himself to breaking the law.

Your cabbie apparently wasn't moved by the fact that cheating on one's wife is reprehensible whether it's paid sex or not. The fact that he got caught was the salient point for him. "Game" would have helped him avoid the pitfalls of his secret liasons.

And speaking of "game"...Paterson must have what Spitzer doesn't? He must have "game", right? He had his fling, and didn't have to ante up!

And JW...I've got a question for you. In your post, you refered to the new Governor as "a doubly underrepresented person accepting the mantle of leadership". Was it necessary to state this?

I think half the problem we have with fairness in the way we treat people is that we always stress the differences we have. We point out handicaps and ethnicity. We group people needlessly.

On some level I understand that we need to do this to show the progress we've made. But I think we need to focus on people's accomplishments...their actions. All I know about Paterson from the recent bombardment by the press is that he's from downstate, he's black, and he's blind. Wouldn't it have been nice if the press focused on what he did for his constituents rather than his physical attributes?

*** Whaler, I am not going to endorse or criticize Paterson as having game because he successfully avoided getting caught up in a scandal because of infidelity. Infidelity, or alleged infidelity, is always as layered as it is problematic, especially when the details are not accessible. From what I understand the Patersons have acknowledged their human failings to the vows they took, and have built a stronger relationship as a result of it. So, fortunately, unlike the Spitzers, the Patersons are currently walking towards a so-called happy ending. And I am one of those people who believe that what happens in cojuples relationships should be there business! Most people tend to only gravitate to this position when they are the ones who are on the hot seat. Until that time far too many people are somewhat sanctimonious!

No it wasn't necessary to state that Paterson was "doubly underrepresented," but it also was somewhat important to do it. Not to take you anywhere that might provoke your ire, but the fact that you would even question the merit of identifying Paterson as a doubly underrepresented person speaks as much to your privilege as it does to the need to proclaim his unique status. When I say privilege I mean your/other's social position that doesn't necessitate your/their having to contemplate (not that you don't do this) other's realities, or at least consider them in the light of the benefits that people like Paterson may be lacking which others different from them have. So, on some level, my male privilege precludes me from fully understanding the excitement that many women may have about the Hillary Clinton presidency. However, other dimensions of my underprivileged status can serve as a template for me to better engage and mediate my privilege.

Paterson is more than just a governor. He is living proof that underrepresented people can atttain. He is also living proof that in the year of a woman, Hispanic, and Black presidential candidacy, none of them need be viewed as rare occurrences. Granted he ascended to his new/prominent position through the failings of someone else, but he nevertheless is there. While some might say Paterson is lucky I would agree if they define luck the way I do: Luck is the residue of preparation!

I have no doubt Whaler that if you were Black, or a physcially challenged person, you might view the Paterson ascent differently, and actually may have been appalled if the "fourth branch of the government," the media, hadn't put it out there for you to embrace. *** -- J.W.


You sounded a little more aggressive with your comments this time around. You're still learning who I am…and we’re still working on understanding each other.

Taking your last point first...your view that I would view Paterson's ascent differently if I were black or disabled is absolutely false. That was a big leap on your part, and you missed the mark. I may be in the minority, but I do not care what my elected politicians look like. Further, I'm only interested in their background to the degree that I have some assurance as to how they are going to govern NOW.

I'm a runner. When I win a race, I don't make it a point to tell everyone that I work full time and have a family. These are things about me that factor into my performance...they are background information. In the end, I'm only compared to the other runners in the race by my finishing position. Should I complain if I get beat by a professional runner who trains all day every day and is coached by the best? Should I point out to everyone at the race that I only finished second because I have responsibilities as a father that the other guy doesn't?

I recognize that I'm speaking to a professional in this area...and I'm not as well versed in this field as you...however the whole notion of privilege, to me, is academic. Yes...there are reasons why people are the way they are. Yes...there are even justifications. And yes...I understand the road others have traveled down as a result of their situation. But...the way you frame the definition of privilege is such that unless I'm a black man, I can never understand. If I'm not a white woman, I will never get it.

I simply do not buy that definition of privilege. That perspective belittles the power of the human mind to apply my past experiences to others in different, but similar, situations. I'm not black...but I know what it's like to feel discriminated against. I'm not a woman, but I know the feeling of breaking through timeworn barriers. [Note: In fairness you did use the term “fully understand”, so you partly qualified your position.]

The past brings us to where we are. It’s important, but if we continue down the road we’re following, we’ll all be part of some group that can claim it’s been slighted. I judge people based on their actions…their performance. That’s why I equate Paterson’s affair with Spitzer’s (with the caveat that Spitzer broke the law and Paterson didn’t). They both cheated on and lived with, while lying to, their spouses. They chose to work in the public arena…therefore their lives become public. If these men are so willing to lie to the people closest to them, why should I as a citizen of NY think he wouldn’t lie to me about how NY is being governed? It not as simple as you saying, “…what happens in couples relationships should be there business!”

*** Whaler, let's rap, and I mean really rap! First, my sounding aggressive easily could be construed a figment of your imagination, or the way many people have been socialized to see people like me! I was asserting some points and I would think that would have made me sound assertive, not aggessive.

Secondly to state that you would see Paterson the same if you were black or disabled is really naive. Are you black? Are you disabled? If not, then how can you seriously make that claim? PRIVILEGE, my man, privilege! You making that claim, and stating it as an absolute, or to borrow your own words, "your view that I would view Paterson's ascent differently if I were black or disabled is absolutely false," is as ridiculous a claim as if you said you know how it is to be a woman. I know you wouldn't say that, now would you Whaler, my man!"

Your point about the races was fascinating in the fact that it was intriguing. However, your struggle and ultimately inadequate attempt to frame privilege baffles me. Are you playing coy, or really missing other dimensions of privilege here, as much as we talk about it on this blog? Your statement "the way you frame the definition of privilege is such that unless I'm a black man, I can never understand. If I'm not a white woman, I will never get it" is either quite rudimentary, or sublty calculated. Are you trying to lull me to sleep here? You know that the fact that we are engaged in a provocative and stimulating exchange on this website, both probably from our warm comfortable homes, on nice computer equipment is a sign that both you and I are privileged. So, how could you say that the way I frame "privilege" is problematic. I have framed it over and over again as a phenomenon that visits us across many aspects of our lives. Many people don't want to own that they are privileged, but we are. And in a certain context, because of that privilege, we will often dominate someone, or become inconsiderate of someone. As a society we have done it, do it, and will continue to do it unless we put an end to it. But when the conversation extends too far into some of our yards we start to feel guilty, and defensive. I know I have been inconsiderate of other's abilities in my life. I know I have benefitted because of my ability within a society that is structured towards people like me. I HAVE ABILITY PRIVILEGE!!! I can't be ashamed of it, but I don't have to revel in it. I can understand exactly how I am situated, appreciate what I have, and contribute to the betterment of society by attempting to promote my awareness of my privilege so that it doesn't continue to benefit me at the expense of others. It is called social justice.

What is it with you and this "black" and "woman" thing? No one said you were black or a woman. Oh, it's the Hillary and Barack thing, I get it. Listen, the intellectual party that we are in the midst of when we exchange features more than those two dimensions. So why are you playing yourself and trying to play me.

In a Judeo-Christain dominated society such as ours marriage is huge. Violating public vows is something that get's people's attention. If you are a public figure you will get more attention. However, my perspective hasn’t changed on this. It is their business, be the couple celebrity or impoverished. What if the couple discovers one of them is gay, but can’t leave the relationship for an array of reasons (losing job, children)? What if the couple is impotent but love each other, and they agree that she should be able to satisfy her needs? What if it is an open marriage? I imagine you definitely can’t stomach that. The fact that their celebrities doesn't make a difference to me. They still deserve their privacy and shouldn't be held to a higher standard when we don't have access to the details.

Whaler, my man, you just want to run with absolutes. That is what privilege affords people, the ability to run with absolutes. Well know this, absolutely, we may just have to agree to disagree on the fact that I know I’m privileged and will work to situate it appropriately in our society. You don’t see yourself as privileged. In the end who makes the worst mistake, in terms of what they are trying to do within our society, the people trying to give up things to make the world better, or the people who try to hold on to things to make the world better. Quite the interesting conundrum, don’t you think? *** -- J.W.

Whoa! I may have gotten the aggressive/assertive thing wrong in my last post, but I certainly didn't miss the tone of your response. Impatient? Bordering on condescending? Close, JW? What gives?

You did get a couple things right...I'm not black and I'm not a woman. Although I'm actually surprised at your response. How much do you really know me, other than from our short conversations here at your blog? Your response is much like your understudy's (KMP) a few posts ago. I don't think I'm misreading when you call my argument "ridiculous", "naive", or "lulling you to sleep". That's taking a disagreement about a topic and making it personal. What was personal about my post to spark your attack?

Anyway...I'm thick skinned. But I still disagree with you. You're a seasoned speaker...I can see that in your responses. You're good at trying to "frame" my position. You said in your last paragraph that I "don’t see myself as privileged". Where on earth did you get that idea? Did I actually say that? NO...if anything, I inferred the opposite. I am privileged in many ways...and I understand how I fit into the world. Just like I understand how circumstance and history has affected other people's place in the world...whether they be black, white, male, female, differently abled, etc. I guess that I made the mistake thinking that we were discussing things on a higher plane...that I didn't need to overstate the obvious in my writings.

You say it's ridiculous for me to say I would not think differently if I were black...yet it's not ridiculous for you to say that I would? Come on...what kind of logic is that? Did your philosophy school teach you how to get inside my head? I can't tell you how I would feel in a different situation, but you can assuredly TELL ME how I would feel in that same situation. I think I'm starting to catch on to your ground rules JW!

I don't want to spend two pages defending myself. I like your blog, and the topics you bring up, because they have value. And I like you, because you typically give constructive criticism in a fun and light way...but also in a way to keep people thinking. However...just because you're the professor, doesn't mean you're always right. Just because you are an expert in your field, doesn't mean that your perspective is gospel, and that other perspectives aren't credible. Your response came from a perspective of a father talking down to his son. You may not like some of the points I make...but they are coming from a well thought out perspective. Teachers teach...but they also listen. I'm not saying I'm right, but I also am saying I'm not wrong.

And as for Paterson's situation...cheating on your wife is wrong. ALWAYS. It was very clear in his admission that his flings were a result of nothing more than a "rough patch" in their relationship. This is an absolute I am very comfortable with. And as for all your potential mitigating factors...they would be irrelevent if the couple talked about it UP FRONT. Then it's not AN's just another joint decision made by two married adults. [I'll ignore the snide remark about open marriages.]

I don't even get the whole "why are you playing yourself and trying to play me" thing. But it sure sounds like you think my post was wasting your time.

So...would you like to get back to the important stuff?

*** Whaler, my man I like your style, really I do. And I agree, we should stay focused here, but before we do, let's put a few things on the table.

You want to take me to task for "the personal" but you start your first response off with a personal statement about my style as "aggressive," but when I respond in a similar fashion with "naive" and "ridiculous" somehow your comment was acceptable and mine not. Oh, as you said, I understand "your game" now, there is a different standard for J.W. to engage his audience. We can comment on his style but if he does so in retaliation, he can be called to the carpet. A few other points before we "get down to business. I guess your not so subtle jab at KMP as my "understudy" was fairplay. What did he have to do with our engagement? Shame on you Whaler. And your constant references to my "expertise" right before your challenge any of my assertions is as veiled a compliment as I have ever seen. As well as your duplicitious statement of thinking we were "discussing things on a higher plane." Is the higher plane your reference to what "philosophy school" I ascend from, or how I'm "always right." Whaler, as you often say, we are getting to know one another (and I am thoroughly enjoying it), so it is probably important that two passionate people define the rules of engagement we will have so that we can get our intellctual swerve on. I know you respect my mind, as I do yours, but if we want to do this intellectual dance, then let's do it without out the intellectual foreplay that often only leads to an intellectual ...! You get my point.
Oh, and I never think you are wasting my time. You generally bring A game and that gets my attention. I like the challenge, that is how I grow, and hopefully others who don't necessarily weigh in, but are thinking along the lines of you or I.

Now, back to the lesson at hand...! I am not in agreement with you on how you would not think differently if you were black. First, you want to equate it with logic and attempt to build an argument on the fact that I can't assert a point of what you would do anymore than you can assert a point of what you wouldn't do. Okay, I can buy that in theory. But when you, or anyone states that they truly think their world view would be exactly the same as it is now if they were to all of a sudden become a member of a societally oppressed group, well Whaler my man, I'll let the reading audience judge the soundness of that argument. I just know that I would never begin to think that I have insight into what it must feel like to be disabled, white, rich, gay, etc. until I truly have access to that reality, and most of those realities I will never have any level of access to where I could begin to articulate them with authenticity.

Nor am I in agreement with you that you fully understand your privilege. If you do, then you are a much more provocative thinker than I am, and as you often say, I do this for a living. Many of us recognize our privilege when we are philosophizing about it, but when the rubber hits the road, when we are truly pushed to accept that we are privileged, pushed to the point where we may have to forfeit some/many of those priviilges, we all of a sudden become oblivious to them, or go into denial about them. That is the level of privilege I accuse you and others, including myself, of not being fully engaged with. It is like the old saying "Morality is honored more in the breach than it is in the observance."

Whaler, I like the fact that you articulate a perspective that many others have, as I hope I do as well. Please don't let my passionate speak take your energy away. That is not my goal. But I get excited when someone whose mind I truly respect offers a contrary opinion. It is a golden opportunity for me to test my theories against another's theories or practical experiences. What I see as your veiled, subtle, strategic posturing (and that is just my perspectve which doesn't make it right, or wrong) brings out the prankster, mischievous meddler in me. It's not personal my brother. It's all philosophical! *** -- J.W.

WOW, I better offer a distraction by dropping an intellectual bomb before possible misunderstandings of tones cause a Cyber War. It never ceases to amaze me how a writer can put thoughts out there with one tone, and then another can read it, and becasue of agenda or misunderstanding, perceive the statements in a radically different tone.

I agree that the flings orchestrated by Spitzer and Paterson and his wife are their business. Questions such as, "Do they have an open marriage," and, "Did they confront the issue and come to their own satisfactory conclusion," are important to consider. And unless some sort of deity appears before me and proves she exists (the only way I think I could shrug off the massive scientific evidence indicating otherwise), I'll never be convinced the above-mentioned actions were morally wrong.

We are each able to create our own reality, especially after acknowledging that nearly all systems of ethics that came before us were, likely, man-made, or at the very least, created by individuals living in a community guided by a man-made, Puritanical reality. And therefore, it's no more legitimate than the one I could create for myself. One could argue I am part of a community ruled by social contracts to avoid chaos - I find waging war at the costs of billions and hundreds of thousands innocent lives for the profit of a few anything but chaotic - and that living in a vacuum would be social suicide. I'd respond, "And?" That may not make sense to the person challenging me, but the only mammal it has to make sense to, should I choose that route, is me. One could counter with, "Well what if someone who chose their own morality did something to your family, how would you feel then. That's a cheap shot relied upon when intellectual argument is absent. Plus, biology and conditioning make non-rationale responses impossible to avoid when it comes to our family, especially our children.

Anyway, Spitzer and Paterson shouldn't be judged by the Vice Squad until we know the ins and outs of their relationships, and even then, that's not a badge I want to operate with. Both men are allowed to make their own decisions and live with the consequences, or not, but that's another kind of suicide.

At the same time, Spitzer broke the law, which is not something our state's leader, in my opinion, can do and remain in office. He must be held to a higher standard, especially given the fact he held all around him to one. Once he went beyond having an affair, and paid for it, all bets are off, and whether or not you agree with the illegality of prostitution, it is, and he broke the law.
I'm not judging his morality. Spitzer's allowed to break the law, but SINCE we live in a society with social contracts, we have little choice but to face the consequences of breaking them.

I'm dumbfounded when people judge others' sex lives, especially if it's between consenting adults.
We live in a society where a gratifying physical act is made dirty unless done a certain way, yet we sit in front the television salivating and squealing as people are beaten physically and emotionally and horrificly injured on reality-telvision shows. That makes sense, get the family giggle on over violence and pain, but don't let the kiddies watch sex.

One of the reasons people with so-called alternative lifestyles sometimes have psychological difficulties is because they live in a society where nearly all around them tell them they're immoral and ostracize them, not because their chosen lifestyle corrupted them.

As far as Hillary goes, I'd hold her to the same standard I held BIll when he dripped on the dress - NONE! Just run my damn country please! Perceived poor moral decisions in one's personal life doesn't have to eliminate the ability to act in the best interest of the electorate.
Of course, that's null and void considering the government is overwhelmingly in the pocket of the Corporate Elite, which has grown morbidly obese raking profits off the backs of the underprivileged around the world.

Sadly, I look around me, and it appears the beast's belly burst long ago and infected a significant portion of the population with its self-serving ways. Hey, just because I try not to judge, doesn't mean I AM NOT ALLOWED to aspire toward a more humanistic version of society, strive toward that, and shed tears at the suffering around me when the capabilities exist to eradicate it.

"how would American society have treated Hillary different if as a married woman she had purchased the services of a male escort?"

Sadly, I expect the public would react much as they did in the film The Contender. Male sexuality is far more acceptable in contemporary American society (and probably past American society too!) while women displaying sexuality is still taboo.

For some reason (I'm guessing that it is the attempt to maintain this male-dominatied society we have) sex isn't something women are supposed to do for the fun of it. I fear that we still have some very strong puritanical roots sticking out; another example of this can be found in the ratings given to Hollywood films. A good discussion of this horrendous film-rating system can be found in the indie documentary "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" In it, the filmmaker Kirby Dick investigates the very secretive process of film-ratings.

His findings are disturbing: The film rating board has two members of clergy, a catholic and an episcopal priest. These priests do not rotate with clergy from other church demoninations. Nor does the film industry seem to care about violence too much--look at any James Bond film and you see tons of death, but no nudity--so it's PG13. Yet a afilm like Kevin Smith's Jersey Girl gets an R rating because Liv Tyler discusses how often she masturbates!

One more irksome aspect of the film rating industry is that homosexuality almost always gets a harsher rating than hetrosexual activity. As an example, in the film "But I'm a Cheerleader" a homosexual female is masturbating, over her clothing, with no nudity, but that gets an NC-17 rating, while Kevin Spacy masturbating in the shower in the film American Beauty only gets an R rating.

This country has a lot of work to do in updating its sexual morals; we are no longer puritans in name, but we may be in spirit.

And yes, I realize this is a bit of a side-topic tangent, but still worth thinking about, I hope.


For the sake of argument...let's grant your view of moral relativism. To each is own...according to himself. Keep what's private, private.

You're right...we don't know the ins and outs of either Governor's personal life...other than what they told us. And in both cases, the men have both confessed that their affairs were KEPT FROM their spouses. They made an attempt to hide their actions. From their own words, that negates the need to understand more about their relationship. The issue is NOT about whether someone can have an open relationship, it's about honoring a vow to a spouse. Governor Paterson can sleep with as many women as he chooses as far as I'm concerned, as long as it's a condition agreed to up front with his spouse.

You said, "I'm dumbfounded when people judge others' sex lives, especially if it's between consenting adults." On the surface, in an ideal world, I'd agree with you. But in OUR world, both these cases involved MORE than two adults (and children too). The two having the affair consented...but how about the spouses? Is it OK by you to have so much individual freedom that it trumps the vow you made to your spouse?

[BTW, that's a generic "you". I don't know if you're married. :) ]

Brennan brings up such an interesting and needed topic of discussion.
My daughter is 13, and therefore we are beginning to watch movies together that I may pick out that contain, I guess, what would be considered mature elements.
I'm dismayed the rating system, and many parents, will let violent themes slip by with, say, a PG-13, but toss in a masturbation discussion, the loss of virginity, or just about anything sexual, epsecially when the sexual encounter transcends what is deemed acceptable in a puritanical society, and it's trouble in river city.

Why should we hide our young adults from sexuality, a physical act that is dually, or singly, and at times higher numbers, gratifying, yet see nothing wrong with exposures to violent themes that result in serious injury and death(s). At PG-13, it may not be graphic violence, but thematically it is violence nonetheless, so apparently that is okay. But like Brennan stated, the masturbation scene was not graphic sexuality, yet GOD forbid the kids see that.

I think watching such movies offers the possibility for amazing and enlightening discussions between parent and child. It also offers an avenue to connect with your child in a way that is understandable to both, depending on how well the flimmakers relay the topic. Such connections are priceless, something I definitely value with a 13-year-old daughter living with me. I've loved watching her grow, but this age, or stage of development, has definitely had me scratching my head in frustration.


I think we understand each other on the personal comments thing. We both tested the waters, and found that its a pool we dont want to swim in. Sometimes strong minds clash but once the boundaries are established that's when ideas start to flow. But let me be as clear as possible about one thingthere is nothing, and will never be, anything veiled in what I write. Thats not me. I believe in saying what I think, and if I think I need to hide behind my words, what Im saying isnt probably worth saying. So in regard to any perceived disrespect, particularly what you may have perceived as veiled compliments, be assured Im here, and I wouldnt be if I didn't respect your mind and what youre doing here.

So, back to business.

The comment I made referencing KMP, while I thought a little humorous J , was also meant to make a point. From my perspective, I think the concept of privilege is a social construct. As such, it is not law. It is debatable, and to what degree privilege actually affects our daily interactions is a valuable topic of conversation. I got the impression from some of my back and forth with KMP that he was coming from the perspective that the concept of privilege is an absolutethat I had to accept the definition of privilege he has in order to have the discussion we were having. The disagreement we had, I felt, was more fundamental. So, to explain the connection to our conversation, I felt you were coming from the same perspective. Granted, I know thats your perspective, but I wanted to make the point that on a very fundamental level, Im not yet convinced how much privilege does, or should, impact our daily encounters.

Ive been thinking about why we seem to have a disagreement about the concept of privilegewhat it is that Im reluctant to accept about it. And I think I may have come up with something (lets hope I can get the idea here on paper). I think you may be looking at privilege from a broader perspective than I am. Youre seeing it as something that's pervasive, something that's weaved into the fabric of society. It is a tool that can be used to explain/justify/understand why we behave the way we do and act the way we act. On that level, I would agree. Its undeniable that experience shapes and molds, and impacts our future.

I think Im looking at privilege from the perspective of the immediate, the present moment. When I encounter another person, on the street, at work, or at home, I expect that the encounter be civil and respectful. I recognize that as humans were all different, and we all have different backgrounds. Our experiences shape us. Generally there is a good reason why people act the way they act. But in the end, I control my thoughts and actions. I chose what I say and do. I may be influenced by my past and even by society, but in the end I make my choice based on today, on the situation, and what I think is right at the time I act. Regardless of what has occurred in my past, or the past of the person Im interacting with, I have a responsibility to act accordingly in that situation (as does he). I dont accept the notion that privilege precludes this responsibility. I dont believe that those living with privilege are slave to their privilegeand those who dont have it are powerless against it. I dont have such a fatalistic view of the world. If it were really the case, then no one would escape the ranks of the unprivileged without a handout from someone privileged.

OK, I hope this is enough of a foundation to tie in your critique that you think I lean too much on absolutes. Why are we so threatened by absolutes? Is it because the whole concept of privilege is based on relativism? Arent those absolutes in the world what protect us? Civil rights laws say that its a CRIME to discriminate based on gender, race, age, sexual orientation, etc. The law protects us (at least its intent is to protect us). Obviously the law doesnt change attitudes and it doesnt change the fact that there is inequity out there. Butit does give the powerthe oomphbehind the argument that people should be treated as people. Not black peopleor homosexual peopleor poor people. Just people. It puts the onus on the individual to act appropriately regardless of whatever preconceived notions one might have.

*** Whaler, I thoroughly enjoyed your articulation of how we may not have been reconciling our two notions of privilege (mine being broader while yours is more immediate). You definitely provided me with something to consider. Hey, did I just acknowledge that you taught me something? *** -- J.W.

This is one of the most enlightening, exciting exchanges I've been involved with on this blog. That must be why I'm punishing readers with my third post.

First, a shout out to Whaler. I agree with your challenge to part of my "moral relativism."
I stand by my belief that morality is up to the individual, but when it comes to say affairs, even if two consent, there are always two other spouses, and unless they consent - I wouldn't necessarily say the act was morally wrong without all around consent, because I still have a problem with blanket morality - but it surely negatively impacts those other two people and definitely goes against my desire to live a more humanistic existence.

I learned this first hand. When I was married while in the Army, I recall being out in the desert training and seeing a cartoon drawn on a porta-potty wall that depicted a woman with two men and it read, "This is your wife while you are out here training." Indeed, that was my first wife.
Sadly, I dind't learn a lesson from that, maybe because I didn't have an emotional investment in my first wife becasue of other circumstances I won't get into.

I've always had custody of my daughter from that marriage and remarried. Unfortunately, I made mistakes in my second marriage and truly hurt my spouse, and while that outlined clearly, painfully so, that deception can hurt someone you truly care for, it is unfortunate I had to learn that by being the jerk who hurt someone who didn't deserve it, thinking somehow that my decision between two consenting adults wouldn't affect the other two adults involved. This I will never do again.
So Whaler, you are right.

I have to say, that I agree, at least so far, with JW's definition of privilege. At the same time, I agree with Whaler that no matter how solid the theory seems, absolutely no one has a monopoly on the truth. So yeah, be a crusader and pass along your definition of privilege, but to think your ideas are absolute, no matter how many people agree or how many textbooks support the ideas, doesn't make sense and doesn't provide valid argument to convince me otherwise.

Anyway, what stimulating conversations we have had here. Bravo JW for initiating these discussions and bravo to people such as Whaler and Card Buddy who add their own valuable insights!!!!!!!

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