Jan 27 2012

Spinster aunt has a past

A propos of asexuality, which, devoted readers will recall, was discussed on this blog as recently as 2005, is the revelation — currently taking the nation by storm! — that Tim Gunn hasn’t had sex in 29 years.

Who the hell is Tim Gunn, you ask?

To answer that question, I must reveal something horrible about myself. But I want you to know that I have navel-gazed my way down the noble path of self-help, and of 12-step platitudes, and have graciously decided to forgive myself for it. Besides, my lawyers have advised me that it’s unlikely I’ll have to do hard time. So what is it already?

I used to watch “Project Runway.”

“Project Runway” is a horrible reality show hosted by supermodel Heidi Klum wherein aspiring fashion designers compete for the opportunity to pimp their line at New York Fashion Week. They all live together, sewing ugly clothes and backstabbing each other as they present a new look for the judges each week. Of course everything about the show endorses femininity, so watching it is like little knives shooting out of the TV into my eyes.

Tim Gunn is the “style guru” who mentors the designers. His prim but lovable ass is the reason I watched this stupid show.

Aside from virginal 40’s film star Loretta Young, Tim Gunn has possibly the most correct posture I have ever seen on a human being. I marvel at his relaxed yet anal-retentive bearing. His internal organs must be marvelously well aligned. His suit is meticulously tailored, his skin cells buffed and radiant, his albino hair just so. When he lovingly enunciates every syllable — “holler at your boy” — a tear springs to my eye. He is truly a freak of nature, the whitest dude on the planet. I’m only human, dammit! I can’t look away!

Anyway, Tim Gunn says he hasn’t done it in 29 years because he hasn’t felt like it, but don’t worry about him, his life is perfectly fine and he feels perfectly fine. He’s fine. Despite his fineness, today there appear in major newspapers pieces on whether or not it is “weird” to feel fine about not fucking everything that moves.

USA Today plays it for laughs — that zany homo! I suspect this is because there isn’t any real data to support the view that Tim Gunn is crazy. USA Today’s expert hasn’t ever heard of anything like his decades-long “dry spell” but agrees that if Gunn is happy, what’s the big whoop? Lack of data, however, doesn’t stop the LA Times from trying to pump up anxiety over some anti-American sexual deviance requiring the intervention of experts. Their shrink diagnoses Gunn as mentally ill because

“It’s not a natural sort of decision, nor is it biological or physiological — we are not wired that way,”

If she were treating him for this “illness,” she says, she would get to the bottom of his debilitating trust issues, for Man Must Boink!

But naturally the burning question is, what does all this mean for straight people?

Good news, heteros!

Gunn’s refreshing honesty nonetheless might come as a relief to many, especially for the 15% to 20% of American couples who are reportedly in “no-sex relationships.”

So I guess one out of five straight people is mentally ill, wired wrong, and unnatural. Or maybe it just dawned on them, as their pubescent hormones began to evaporate into the aether, that sex is overrated, has nothing to do with good health, is annoying or sort of ludicrous, and they’d rather read a book about mushrooms.

In closing, I’d like to thank my supporters for supporting me as I self-accept myself and courageously salute my bravery in fessing up to my “Project Runway” past. I rock.


Skip to comment form

  1. KittyWrangler

    Where is the Catholic Church when you need it? Their sputtering, chronically offended culture warriors ought to be out in droves defending the sanity of the vast majority of their saints, shouldn’t they? It’s a War on Christianity!

    I also admire Tim Gunn. The producers of Project Runway probably intended Heidi Klum to be the equivalent of Paula Abdul on American Idol: beautiful eye candy who says mostly supportive things to the contestants so as not to be unappealing to the public. Instead Heidi really reveled in being an sarcastic asshole and letting her inner contempt shine. Despite being a woman who says unobliging things she is well liked! But that has probably already disappeared down TV producers’ memory hole.

  2. Comrade PhysioProf

    Yeah, I used to watch Project Runway, too, and almost solely because Gunn has such an endearing personality and character. You got the sense that he genuinely did see himself as a mentor to the contestants.

    While the entire show from stem to stern is, of course, grossly misogynistic, the thing that finally got me off watching it was Michael Kors, because he doesn’t even try to pretend that the whole point isn’t punishing women:

    Your model looks like a two-bit pregnant syphilitic hooker in a burlap sack on her way to buy beer and cigarettes with food stamps and give them to her pimp.

  3. Daisy Deadhead

    I still watch it. (((shame)))

    The first step is admitting you have a problem!

    I always say it’s just going to be one, just one, and next thing you know, watching those whole-season marathons…


    I also blame Santino, as well as Tim. (And Santino’s impersonations of Tim.) I love Tim! I love him even more after this post.

  4. Bushfire

    Sex is annoying and/or ludicrous?

    I certainly don’t think it’s as important as the dominant culture makes it out to be, but I think its at least as much fun as ice cream.

    Then again, I do it with women.

  5. Phledge

    Yes, Twisty, yes you do rock. As do people who have abnormally normal posture. I love straight backs; also I love gay backs, but especially I love poise and grace.

    God, what am I doing here? Oh, I remember: as one of the 80%, I feel more mentally discombobulated than when I was one of the 20%, mostly because of the cognitive dissonance of sleeping with the oppressor. I could a) stop, b) keep going, or c) switch teams, but all of those choices have repercussions in the P, ie being shamed, humiliated, and coerced into changing my mind.

  6. MaryK

    In the same vein, my ongoing addiction to “RuPaul’s Drag Race” continues to this day. I find that show’s take on genderf*ck quite fascinating. Of course, femininity is performance, as these ladies show so well. Plus, their makeup skills are masterful.

  7. susanw

    This is one more reason to like Tim Gunn. Now that I am older than dirt and libidinally dead, I am no longer blinded by hormones to the boy-cooties all round me. Immune to the chemicals of lust, I can see with discouraging clarity that it was my Nigel, your Nigel, everybody’s Nigel. No more internal sweet gooiness that makes excuses for bad behavior, overlooks blatant sexism, or blames myself for being too sensitive. Celibacy is freedom.

  8. sexlessinseattle

    Wwhile I can’t lay claim (see what i did there) to a bout of celibacy anywhere near as impressive as Tim Gunn’s I do find sex vastly over rated and think of myself as kind of a sex camel, I can store one night of passion up for months… Nice to know that 15-20% of Americans are with me on that one.

  9. Cheryl

    Just as supporting a woman’s right to choose also means supporting her right to make a ton o’ babies (see: that other guilty pleasure, 19 Kids and Counting), being sex positive also means being celibacy positive. Tim Gunn seems to make it work.

  10. figleaf

    “If she were treating him for this “illness,” she says, she would get to the bottom of his debilitating trust issues, for Man Must Boink!”

    Yes! Thank you! That whole “man must boink” business is as clearly socially constructed as a Windsor tie. What’s really chilling is that a man who doesn’t isn’t just weird, he’s broken and wrong and by gum we’d better fix him or else really break him!

    Call it the opposite of the other obligatory gender construction, “slut shaming.” A man who, when given a choice to take it or leave it picks “leave it” ought to be ashamed of himself. And the only reason people don’t shame the crap out of them is there are just a whole lot more places to hide, and a whole lot fewer witnesses (how does one witness not doing it anyway?)

    There are a lot of really bad consequences to this assumption that “man must boink.” Really bad. And given that, going back as far as the late 1970s researchers have notice that as many as 15% of adult men really would rather not, that’s a lot of potential bad stuff. For instance you know that eternal “joke” about how 90% of men masturbate and the other 10% are liars? If you’re not one of the 100% who everyone “knows” wants sex then you’re going one of a couple of ways, none of them very good and some really bad. For instance you might do really ugly stereotype-ish things because you’re trying to “pass.” Or you might take the prim/prudish path and say all sex is sin and should only be done “for reproduction.” If that. Or you might just lie a lot. But since we live in a misogynist culture pretty much all the ways of “passing” involve misogyny, and since people trying to pass tend to be over the top then, yeah, you cab end up with a lot of over-the-top misogyny.

    Most of which (though not all) could be mitigated (though probably not eliminated) if the asshats at USAToday and “experts” from the L.A. Times would keep their ignorant, stereotype-enforcing pie holes shut.

    A few years ago, Jill, I got a brainstorm from one of your posts and decided that in a lot of ways it makes more sense to say that men are the “sex class” (meaning they’re the class constructed to be reflexively, uncontrollably, obligately sexual) while women might be better designated as the “no sex” class where it’s simultaneously inconceivable and intolerable that a woman would ever experience, let alone admit, sexual interest. In either case, people who don’t fit their respective stereotypes aren’t just somewhere on the bell curve, and they’re not just maybe a little quirky, and they’re not maybe in a minority, they’re broken, sick, wrong, and actually kind of a threat. One that needs to be “mended,” or explained away or even outright denied.

    The opprobrium heaped on Gunn just makes the case. He’s male but not obligately sexual and he’s suddenly weirder than if he had three buttocks.

    More proof, by the way, that society’s patriarchal. And classed. And gendered.

    Me? I’m not on the same part of the bell curve as Gunn but since my first trip through a gym lockerroom in 7th grade I’ve experienced intense pressure not just to “be a man” but to be compulsively sexual. Sexual’s fine — I like being sexual — but compulsively? No, that’s not been good at all — it pushed me into places I’d rather not have gone, before I was ready to go there, and I’m just continuing to confront, over and over, the places that pressure told me to go that I really should never have gone and wish I hadn’t.

    I wish Tim Gunn and all the other asexual and unsexual people in the world the best of luck, sure, but even more I wish they got a little more understanding too. Actually, more than that, earnestly hope someday they’ll be as tolerated and accepted as “not broken” as anybody else.

    Ugg. Sorry about the rant. Hope it doesn’t sound like man’splaining, it’s just… I’ve got a lot of frustration about this. And I’m really glad you brought it up, Jill, because if we’re ever going to get out of the patriarchy/gender trap (I know we have different opinions about whether we can) we’re going to have to get people to stop contemplating psychiatric “fixes” for men who don’t fit the “and the other 10% are lying” stereotype.


  11. Sarah

    Boinkin’ or no boinkin’ we’re all doin’ it in the P. Doin’ it sans assistance? Doin’ it below the radar? Doin’ it for Illadelph? It’s all in the P, yo. Even doin’ it stealth.

  12. Lidon

    We all have our guilty pleasures. I was watching The Bad Girls Club for a little while. Can’t get much worse than that.

    “Celibacy is freedom.”

    Indeed it is! Freedom from STD’s, infections, being told you need to wear this, not wear that, change this or that about your body, freedom from lots of life-sucking crap! Count me in as one of the “crazy” ones.

  13. thebewilderness

    Now we know why he has such excellent posture. My posture is also excellent and I have been unsexual for 22 years, so I think this study is ready to be published in psychology today.

    Watching Project Runway was at the same time fascinating and appalling. I turned the teevee off in self defense in the Spring of 2008, when I suddenly realized that I did not need to watch it in order to know what the “he-man woman haters club” was up to. They are always up to what they are always up to.

  14. sjaustin

    Well this is shocking – the longest comment on this post is from a dude! But this is totes awesome, because I really really want to know as much as possible about dudes’ opinions on sex and dudes’ opinions about other people’s opinions on sex. It’s all just so enlightening.

  15. Comrade PhysioProf

    Any blamers who liked the genuinely creative and competitive aspects of the show should check out Top Chef, especially if you like food and cooking (although not if you’re a vegetarian or vegan). It lacks the overt misogyny of Project Runway, and the chefs who are women kicke some serious fucken asse.

  16. tinfoil hattie

    figleaf is a dude?

    (I enjoyed the rant)

    My secret feminist TV guilt is Investigation Discovery, with all the heinous stories of women being stalked, kidnapped, raped, murdered, and otherwise discarded. I don’t know why I watch it.

    Why do I watch it?

  17. sjaustin

    I assume figleaf is a dude, because otherwise I don’t know why he would feel pressure to “be a man” or insist that he’s not mansplaining.

  18. yttik

    They cut Tim Gunn off when he was confessing and I wish they hadn’t because he was just starting to get to the heart of the matter. He said he had had a partner that had made him feel like he was doing sex wrong. In other words, he had a relationship with a man who acted like many men, sex was about dominance and control, not affection and intimacy. If you’re a woman this is so “normal,” chances are you don’t even see it. Tim is a fairly privileged guy, so he simply didn’t think he deserved to be treated that way. I wish more women could hear that.

    He also said the AIDS epidemic came along and he didn’t think sex was worth dying for. That’s one disease. Think about the health risks women have to deal with, AIDS, but also HPV, PID, STD’s, cervical cancer, abortion, pregnancy, and all the health risks associated with various birth control, not to mention rape and domestic violence. I wish more women could hear that too, sex is not worth risking your life for.

    I’m really not for or against sex, but I am for women losing their cognitive dissonance about the health risks and dangers of sex and being able to think highly enough about themselves that they realize that their health and well being should always come first, especially if you are being viewed as nothing more than collateral damage in somebody else’s quest for dominance.

  19. Nimravid

    Yep, figleaf’s comment re: “The Unique Male Experience of Patriarchy” was pretty clearly dudely. I didn’t like the implications of the idea that one reason we need to work on accepting the whole spectrum of male sexuality is because insecure dudes play over-the-top misogynists to divert attention from their non-boinking- that the problem of men being misogynists could be “mitigated” by making sure dudes don’t get upset. In much the same way that the problem of domestic violence could be solved if we made sure dudes didn’t have such a bad day at work.

  20. Keira

    One of the crappiest results of the anti-asexual thing patriarchy’s got going is that it leads to women in crappy sexual relationships to think, “yeah, this sucks, but hey, what you gonna do?”.

    For women who choose (ha!) sexual relationships with men, does it get in the way of attempting to find less crappy and abusive partners or practices? Or is it that just prohibited by, you know, everything else the P does?

    (No blame coming from me onto women who are in relationships with men. I’m one of those myself. As per usual, patriarchy gets all the blame.)

  21. aphrabean

    This is the first comment I’ve left in ages, though I’m a frequent reader, because I myself have just read two books in a row about mushrooms! It’s very difficult for me to discuss fungi at this point without violating the commenting rules against excessive exclamation points.

    Here are the two I just finished: Mycelium Running, by Paul Stamets, and Mycophilia, by Eugenia Bone. Twisty, might I ask if you’re referring to a specific book about mushrooms? Also, are they not the most amazing things? My apologies for seizing on the minutia of a very excellent post.

  22. quixote

    Not to forget mating strains in some fungi. Five, six, seven sexes, and not one of them a godbag.

  23. figleaf

    @Nimravid: “I didn’t like the implications of the idea that one reason we need…”

    Well. Good thing that wasn’t my only reason for calling out gender enforcement and erasure so strong that psychiatric care is indicated to “cure” men who fail to fit social expectations of male sexuality.

    Not to change the subject but does anyone know about this Dr. Berman, the “expert” the L.A. Times asked to decide whether Tim Gunn’s sex life (or lack thereof) is “natural?”


    p.s. Not to sound prickly but “dude” is kind of a slur. I’d prefer not to be called that.

  24. buttercupia

    Another Ru Paul’s Drag Race fan here. I can’t get enough. The contortions to perform femininity are astonishing to watch. And Ru cracks me up, and is wise. “What someone else thinks of me is none of my business”, wiser words were seldom said.

  25. Twisty

    Figleaf, I quote from the Ancient Texts:

    By popular demand, this blog endeavors to cultivate dude-free discourse. Therefore, any comment that expresses views proceeding from any discernible male-identified perspective, even if it is superficially pro-feminist, is not suitable for posting here.The Unique Male Experience of Patriarchy is not an appropriate topic.

  26. Nimravid

    I don’t like the implication that any of the reasons to make sure men aren’t insulted is that they will be less likely to abuse women. I did object to other items on a few of the pages of your comment, but not to all of them.

  27. figleaf

    Sorry about that, Jill.


  28. JR

    “It’s not a natural sort of decision, nor is it biological or physiological — we are not wired that way,”

    I have never watched Project Runway, as I don’t watch television at all, but if I ever start one of those new-fangled tumbler things, one of my ideas is to make one devoted to mocking the extreme overuse of the idea that we are “wired” to do anything.
    There are no wires in my head. Well, I don’t think I am a cyborg. I suppose unless I were to cut my own head open and look with a mirror I wouldn’t know for certain. But evidence suggests that it’s merely biological matter up there.

  29. Hari

    tinfoil hattie: “My secret feminist TV guilt is Investigation Discovery, with all the heinous stories of women being stalked, kidnapped, raped, murdered, and otherwise discarded. I don’t know why I watch it.

    Why do I watch it?”

    So do I ask myself why I watch fictional crime shows like CSI and The Closer, others–ever my fave genre. I once eschewed TV pretty entirely, expressly to avoid constant reminders of how bad it is for womyn in the P. Hey, gotta protect the happy bubble of delusion somehow, right? But recently in need of more narcotizing than usual (and quite underemployed, with time on my hands) I watch a lot of it. Where once I hated being constantly reminded of the mostly-womyn-centered and mostly rape-centered violence that abounds in the P–now it’s almost as if I refuse to look away lest I forget.

    Fricken LOL, as if I could forget! The major downer-elements of my life right now–the things that lead to a need for narcotizing (but ‘safely’, since I still have a kid at home)–all spring directly from a life-wrecking collision with a misogynist psychopath and other elements of the P such as midwifery being illegal in my state. Of course, we can all agree that the ‘major downer elements’ of life are all about the P. Just to say that given my circumstances, it’s way more crushing obvious than I ever noticed when my life was ‘better’. Now, there ain’t no way to dismiss the cognitive dissonance yttik mentions.

    Yeah, yttik! We NEED our cognitive dissonance.

  30. speedbudget

    For women who choose (ha!) sexual relationships with men, does it get in the way of attempting to find less crappy and abusive partners or practices?

    Yes. Absolutely yes. It starts in about middle school. Women’s and girls’ social status in middle and high school is derived not from their own accomplishments and club memberships and athletic endeavors but from the accomplishment, etc., of whatever male they are partnered with. If you do not have a boyfriend at all or nearly all times, you are excoriated, presumed to be lesbian, abused, etc. So women start young with attaching themselves to some dude, any dude.

    So there is high demand for the jock, the cool kid, the student council president, etc. No matter if he is a total douchewad. It’s certainly better than being single! How pathetic, you single girls are. You don’t have a man’s identity to showcase!

    I watched it time and again. Some girl I knew, who was pretty badass in some seriously badass ways, would hook herself up to some dude, and he would proceed to drag her badass into the mud. But at least she’s not single! Because nothing is scarier than being single.

    What they don’t get is that you can accomplish some pretty awesome things if you aren’t tied up with some douche whom you have to constantly clean up after, metaphorically or literally. No bailing him out of jail for drunk driving at 3:00 in the morning! No cleaning up his puke after an all-nighter of drinking with the boys! All kinds of time suddenly appears before you, time in which to make yourself that much more awesome.

    I’ve said it here before, and I will say it again. For hetero cis women who find themselves wanting to be in a relationship, the first and most proper course of action is be single for a period of years. This tends to cleanse the palate, and it also tends to make it so your first thought on meeting some guy isn’t about what you can do to get into a relationship with him. Your first thought generally is more along the lines of “This dude better prove he’s worth giving up my swinging, awesome single lifestyle or he’s out the door.” Plus, you’ve already been single for a period of years. The Worst Thing Ever. So it’s no biggie if you find you’ve got to dump his ass.

  31. speedbudget

    P.S. tinfoil hattie, I stay up until the wee hours of the morning sometimes watching Investigation Discovery. I just can’t help myself. I am also addicted to “I Survived.” There are usually three people telling their stories on that show, and every episode has the woman who barely escaped the abusive current or ex-boyfriend on it. If that’s not some commentary about the P, I don’t know what is.

  32. zibber

    Maybe this faux “controversy” is what put the House writers onto the subject. The last episode featured a pretty horrible arc about asexuality. The gist of it was that people can’t possibly be asexual, so when Sherlock House stumbled onto a couple claiming to be so, he worked tirelessly until their heinous lie had been exposed. One half turned out to have a brain tumor inhibiting libido, and the other had been faking asexuality to appeal to him. I’m not asexual, but that was pretty offensive.

  33. Hari

    By golly, speedbudget, thanks–you just helped me understand a mysterious plague of my earlier life as a womyn. That is, before I actually decided to be my fully badass self. Seriously.

    See, when I was younger, people used to tell me guys found me ‘intimidating’. This just did NOT compute in the least. Even though blessed with a high IQ, I was not a performance freak (hehe, too smart to be taken in by the stupidities of modern ed)–and I was also careful not to be too brainy out loud, especially around the boys. I was actually pretty humble and far too nice to one and all. Ah, but I wasn’t eminently fuckable. I was looking for the Right Guy, and was so worshipful of guys in one way that it made me shy around them. Didn’t date much in high school or even college (tho I did sleep around some in college–just didn’t do longterm hookups).

    “Intimidating”? Silly literalist (and reader/lover of words) that I am, I thought of ‘intimidating’, in people anyway, as an active thing, willfully expressed.

    But the point simply is, I was more often single than mated. Regardless of how much I actually *wanted* a man, I maintained some standards and was content *enough* when single. Went 7yrs between marriages with only a couple of short term ‘hot affairs’, mostly not dating while waiting for Mr Right. And therein lies the claim of being ‘intimdating’: not being always attached at the crotch to a man. Too obviously failing, seen in my willingness to be single, to define the crux of my value (to myself or anyone else) in having a man, any man, who would validate my existence.

    I get it now! I wasn’t ‘intimidating’ by virtue of purposeful attempt to make anyone else feel timid, in willful displays of power over others. It was just in my essence *as interpreted* by those who think a womyn disinterested in having a man for entire sake of having a man, is unnatural, and probably a ‘man-eater’ and otherwise way too potent in her own right to be a normal womyn. A normal womyn: fuckable, ownable, intimidatable being by nature.

    So glad that’s settled. Of course, doesn’t make a difference now, because now, when I’m cranky I’m cranky and don’t give a hoot who feels intimidated. Still, it’s good to lay to rest one of the previously baffling mysteries of my life in the P.

    Been single now for 14yrs. I sometimes miss what I *always* missed, even when mated: true partnership, respect, fully mutual give-and-receive in creating a life together (I know, I know, ROFLMAO). But I never miss for one second any of the inevitable personal and social bullshit that accompanies het relationships. Clean up puke? Put up with man-defined sex? Spend time with the ladies, mate-bashing cheerfully together, just to release the rage better spent figuring a way OUT of that crap? No way sisters. Don’t miss that at all.

  34. Keri

    The first step is admitting you have a problem and one of mine is Tabitha Takes Over. She also has incredible posture.

    P in the V sex makes me want to vomit but I still like the all female kind. I do have to say, though, that at age 45, satisfaction in other endeavors is enriched by waning hormones. It’s nice to be free from the libido of youth which took up way too much of my energy. Now, it’s taking some “sex turns” on my snowboard in fresh pow or just being high up in the mountains that gets me quite randy indeed.

  35. sjaustin

    Figleaf, did you seriously bust into a woman-only space, spew your opinions about how men should be treated, and then complain about being called a “dude” because you think it’s a slur? Or do I need a second cup of coffee? My ladybrain is having trouble processing this.

  36. Twisty


    might I ask if you’re referring to a specific book about mushrooms?

    Mushroom by Nicholas P Money. It’s the first mushroom book I’ve read outside of a field guide. How do you rate the two you mentioned? I’ve been experiencing an adult-onset case of mycophilia ever since I moved Spinster HQ permanently to the Faster family seat out in the middle of nowhere. The crazy mushroom situation on the manure pile started me off, and now I’m finding them everywhere.

  37. Greywolf

    Thanks for this story. I always felt like I was weird. As a teen, I was focused on what I saw as more important than dating: my future. Then later, almost no men have been interested in me and, unfortunately, I’m not interested in women that way. I feel like I’m weird because I’ve never had a dating relationship (a few dinner/movie dates, but nothing more). Thanks for a post that tells me I’m not weird.

    This is my first comment. I don’t think I’ve broken any rules, but apologies if I did.

  38. speedbudget

    @Hari, you’re intimidating because it’s obvious you don’t need a man in order to live a fulfilled life. I was “intimidating” for most of my 20s and early 30s. It freaks guys (and women) completely out to see a woman living a fulfilled, happy life alone.

  39. Hari

    Ah yes, speedbudget–but back then, see, I didn’t see myself as living fulfilling life, because I was usually without a mate! In fact too often I felt unfulfilled, a misfit I didn’t want to be in that respect. That is the really hilarious thing. Of course, I didn’t lie around pining–I was involved with life, people, etc. So I suppose all that coded as ‘completely fulfilled w/out a man’–else I’d have been more actively seeking a mate. Or at least taking up every sex-invite I got. Ugh. Especially from married men, who *knew* (cuz they told me this) I needed me some of their PIV–everyone knows that a single mom is desperately horny and will take whatever she can get! Gag me. Now, if I get lonesome, I just remember that at least I’m not lonely AND dealing with a man in my house and vagina.

    Btw–on the topic of Tim Gunn/Project Runway. Somehow all that seems worse to me that shows about rape. Kinda like, oh here we obedient womyn are, getting ourselves all gussied up for our daily appointments with exploitation, abuse, or just plain invisibility (except as sexbots).

    Golly I’m feeling very blamey today!

  40. susanw

    I see your ”Project Runway”/”Tabitha’s Salon Takeover” and raise you one “Millionaire Matchmaker”. This is compellingly horrible in it’s embrace of women’s commoditization, and I have to watch it just so I can yell at the screen that I may be old, fat, ugly, and deliberately unfuckable, but I wouldn’t touch any of those dudes with a barge pole. Patty’s advice emanates from some hyper-patriarchy where everything I loathe has been exaggerated into ridiculousness. Sometimes I hope it’s secretly, subversively feminist, and that viewers will have a WTF moment and start thinking. Ever the optimist.

  41. PSG

    Hari: yes, yes, one thousand times yes! “Intimidating” – what does that mean when one is not actively doing anything aggressive? Yet, as speedbudget pointed out, it must be that the act of existing contentedly single is aggressive to any dude who relies on a pool of women desperately seeking male affection.

    Thank you both. I needed a reminder of why I should not submit myself to the desperate search for a partner. It seems much better to find one from the place of content with being alone.

    Additionally, since taking Twisty’s advice to chuck my TV, I have found myself with more time, more money, and so many reactions of shock it is hilarious. I can get my fix of shows on the internet, including all those horrible police procedurals I love, showing women in labs and crime scenes dressed for the P instead of their jobs. Hopefully, I will now stay away from my bigger temptation “The Biggest Loser.”

  42. Suezboo

    One can easily live a satisfactory life without that Old Black Magic. Thousands, millions (?)of people have done it through the centuries. Why, the very concept of Spinster Aunt implies it is possible. Personally, although I am A Spinster Aunt of heterosexual leanings,I have not had any sexytime doings in 24 years.Mainly because depression killed my libido, with an assist from menopause, but also because I am not the fembot type likely to attract dudes.I do not miss it in the least.

  43. crickets

    Yep, some people like it, some people don’t, and some people change their minds. If only we could just leave it at that the world would be a better place, but unfortunately it seems to be such a damn touchy subject – it seems people who like it are supposed to feel guilty for doing so, and people who don’t for not, and there’s always someone who’ll tell you you’re doing it wrong anyway. More than enough reasons to stay away from it for 29 years – who wants the hassle? Any problems i’ve had with sex have come from other people having a fixed idea of how it should be and how I should be, and it’s good to have got to the stage where i’m comfortable enough to shrug it off as no deal whatsoever, because I know there’s nowt wrong with me – I think I’ve come to that conclusion relatively early in life, and it’s good to know I’m not going to spend my 20s agonising about something so ridiculous. Sex IS ridiculous, no matter how much you might enjoy it or how seriously you might take it, you gotta admit it’s ridiculous.

  44. TwissB

    @twisty on mushrooms “now I’m finding them everywhere.” Texas does that to you. Get closer to Galveston Bay and the prevalence and joy intensify – unless they’ve got the whole thing blacktopped over by now.BLAME DEVELOPERS.
    At least up there in Rattlesnake County you can crawl around, camera in hand, without having to put up with being dubbed “The Mushroon Lady” by neighborhood kids on their way to the pool. Rule: there can never be too many mushroom books.

  45. Gayle

    “I see your ”Project Runway”/”Tabitha’s Salon Takeover” and raise you one “Millionaire Matchmaker.”

    Okay then, since it’s time for true confessions: I TIVO “Dance Moms.”

    That’s right, I choose to watch “Dance Moms. It’s a tragic comedy of gargantuan proportions and I can’t get enough. Don’t shame me!

  46. IBlameRonPaul

    Welp, I guess this story proves that not only women are considered “defective” by American culture when we don’t desire sex. Men, too. It’s a big heap of shitty for everyone, from a sex-obsessed culture that both condemns sex and exhorts everyone to be doin’ it at all times.

    Now why don’t I feel better about this, when I could just throw up my hands, pronounce the culture infected beyond repair, and get on with my day? Oh, right, because not having a sex drive or wishing to abstain from sex should NOT BE A BIG DEAL, nor should it be anyone’s business. And more than anything, the nosing around and pronouncing judgment from a high horse is the aspect of American culture that pisses me off most.

  47. janna

    p.s. Not to sound prickly but “dude” is kind of a slur. I’d prefer not to be called that.

    *derisive snort*

  48. tinfoil hattie

    @janna: Why are you picking on figleaf? I totally relate. Why, I’d prefer not to be called slut, bitch, cunt, whore, skank, slag, slash, pig, harpy, shrew, bimbo, cocksucker, or dog, but NONE of those is as bad as “dude.” Where is your humanity?

  49. Keri

    I think I may trump your millionaire matchmaker and dance moms with “Toddlers and Tiaras”. I hate myself for watching that lobe exploding pixie stick sucking extravaganza but it’s like trying to look away from a train wreck. I really do need a 12 step intervention to quit.

  50. Cycles

    Tim Gunn identifies as gay, but he doesn’t have gay sex. This is interesting, because the homophobes who spend all their time thinking about other people having gay sex probably don’t know what to do with this bit of information.

    Is Tim Gunn gay in their eyes, if he doesn’t do the one thing that, to them, defines him as gay? Not that I give a rat’s bunghole what homophobes think, but it’s a sort of zen koan that lead to thoughts outside their hateful little boxes. Thoughts like: maybe human relationships and affection are not defined solely by acts of pronging. Maybe sexuality is more than a linear continuum of gay vs. straight; maybe it’s an infinite 3D sphere, or a mobious strip, or not a shape at all. Maybe there is no sexuality, just individual humans bumping around doing stuff, and liking or not liking each other’s company and the stuff they do together for various periods of time.

  51. Fleur Pillager

    Tim Gunn, not unlike your esteemed Spinsterly self, is a wordsmith. His turns of phrase — “that dress looked like a Yule log from the forest primeval” ; “continue to caucus, designers” — kept me under the spell of Project Runway for many a year. It was so nice to witness someone unabashedly employing the language with such skill and without rendering it into a series of grunts like 99% of television.

  52. susanw

    OK, you win with “Toddlers and Tiaras”. Maybe we watch these awful shows as blame fodder. They also offer an oportunity to introduce a feminist perspective around the watercooler.

  53. Notorious Ph.D.

    Speedbudget, I loved this:

    For hetero cis women who find themselves wanting to be in a relationship, the first and most proper course of action is be single for a period of years. This tends to cleanse the palate, and it also tends to make it so your first thought on meeting some guy isn’t about what you can do to get into a relationship with him. Your first thought generally is more along the lines of “This dude better prove he’s worth giving up my swinging, awesome single lifestyle or he’s out the door.

    A million times Yes. Three years single now, and I’m feeling stronger and happier than I have, ever.

    And Hari, I’ve also scratched my head at the frequent “intimidating,” since I consider myself a friendly person. I recently asked a male friend to translate for me, and he told me that it meant that I gave off a strong impression of having my shit together. And honestly, I think that says it all.

  54. Ponkeen

    I must fess up to a “past”, a torrid late night affair with America’s Next Top Model. Crapulous, you say? Only as crapulous as cheeseburgers, cheetos, gummi bears (with an ‘i’), and boxed wine.
    As for The Gunn… wouldn’t sex rumple his sleekness? We can’t have that, now can we?

  55. Hari

    Notorious Phd: “I’ve also scratched my head at the frequent “intimidating,” since I consider myself a friendly person. I recently asked a male friend to translate for me, and he told me that it meant that I gave off a strong impression of having my shit together. And honestly, I think that says it all.”

    Doesn’t it just. I had a convo w/mate during the waning time of my 2nd marriage, where, in response to his whining about ‘needs’ and how I seemed to deny mine and his both, thus in some way preventing ‘intimacy’ I said in effect “why does it have to be about needs in the first place? Why can’t it be about wants–a desire to enjoy and support each other while we create a life together? About wanting each other’s company, instead of needing it?”

    Did not compute for him at all.

    But wait, I *did* have a need! I needed for him to do his part in the work of making a home for us/kids without whining–as he expected from me. For him to stop being so needy, and stop defining ‘intimacy’ as ‘enmeshed via emotional neediness, codependently reliant on each other for mutual reinforcement of deep emotional issues arising from our fucked up childhoods’. Gah.

    Keri–as for Toddlers and Tiaras–yep, totally a win for you there! If that’s not totally an exercise in child porn, and sexboth grooming, too, nothing is. I’m with susanw on that:

    “They also offer an oportunity to introduce a feminist perspective around the watercooler.” Thankdog, a redeeming quality for that slimy vomitous piece of raging misogyny.

  56. allhellsloose

    Well Gunn’s not branded with the term sexual prude, at least that’s something. I also add to those who watched project runway and I always warmed to him. Time to stop the isms when it comes to lifestyle choices.

    As this seems to be a day for confessions, I’ll write and run. I’ve watched TOWIE (the only way is essex), but just the once – honest guv.

  57. ytiik

    “I hate myself for watching that lobe exploding pixie stick sucking extravaganza”

    No need to hate yourself, there’s plenty of other people lined up to do it for you. But seriously, these shows can be validating. They rip the veneer right off the patriarchy and leave all that ugliness exposed. One episode of Tots and Tiaras and you’ll no longer have any illusions about what’s going on.

  58. Mildred

    I enjoy viewing “I want to hurt my baby” — a harrowing but enlightening show about post post-partum depression which should be called “I want to hurt my husband” because there will always come a point in the show where she’s losing her shit which is a completely reasonable reaction to having to subsist on minimal sleep and receiving no support and he says “ta ta now, I’m off to play a spot of golf.”
    I’m always disappointed that they NEVER dump them!

    Anyway, do you guys remember that guy who had a blog on the internet about how much he hated women and then killed a bunch of women. Well look at what Dan Savage had to say! No sex makes men homicidal maniacs. The only cure is MORE PROSTITUTES!

    “A woman I knew at college — an antiviolence activist, righteous and right-on — used to say, “Testosterone is gasoline, porn the match.” I disagree. Testosterone is gasoline — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing (gas makes things go) — but sexual frustration is the match.
    I’m not suggesting that this tragedy could’ve been averted if only some selfless woman had “taken one for the team” and married Sodini, an asshole and a sociopath. The women who rejected him obviously saw him for what he was and were right to run in the other direction. But if someone had told Sodini, who hadn’t had sex since 1990, to see sex workers — something I advised the guys in my column two weeks ago to consider (among other things) — it might have taken the edge off his anger and kept it from curdling into homicidal rage. Maybe if we, as a society, valued sex workers and sex work, if we legalized and regulated it, and if we viewed “paying for it” as a legitimate option for guys who would otherwise go without for decades, perhaps this tragedy could have been averted.
    Don’t get me wrong: I wouldn’t wish a client as sick as Sodini on any of my sex-worker pals. But if Sodini had started seeing sex workers back in 1991 and not, say, two weeks ago last Monday, perhaps he wouldn’t have snapped.”


  59. sjaustin

    So he wouldn’t wish a client that sick on anybody he knows, but sex workers he’s not personally acquainted with aren’t real people? What the fuck is this?

  60. Twisty

    Whoa Mildred. What about the prostituted women Savage would have had Sodini pay to rape for the past 20 years? Psychopaths must have access to human toilets to keep their murderous urges in check? My lobe is blown. That fuckwad Dan Savage has always exhibited the worst kind of hipster liberal dude misogyny.

  61. Cyberwulf

    . Your first thought generally is more along the lines of “This dude better prove he’s worth giving up my swinging, awesome single lifestyle or he’s out the door.

    Thirty and single here – shortly to be a spinster aunt, in fact! I have a house, a dog and a job. A dude would be a complication.

    Psychopaths must have access to human toilets to keep their murderous urges in check?

    Isn’t it interesting that it never occurs to men like Savage, who advocate for the legalisation of prostitution so that men can have easy access to sex, that there’s something incredibly fucked up about the idea of buying sex like a fucking candybar? “But men neeeeed sex!” they whine. No, Mr. Liberal Dude, you just think you’re too good to use your fucking hand.

  62. ytiik

    Many serial killers not only use prostitutes, they have relationships with women and are married. I remember the Green river killer’s wife trying desperately to point out that there’s something just not right about this guy. Nobody listened to her. Not far from where I live, I’ll never forget this preacher’s wife standing in the rain watching the cops dig bodies up in her front yard. Her biggest worry had been all the “affairs” he kept having.

    So no, a lack of sex is not the problem.

  63. buttercupia

    Don’t even get me started on Sodini. He worked with my uncle and one of his victims was the sister of one of my co-workers. Uncle said he didn’t have a clue dude was whack. I bet every woman he went out with had a clue. I blogged about it back when it happened and tied it in to a certain rapist football player.http://buttercupia.blogspot.com/2009/08/what-happens-when-women-are-property.html

  64. buttercupia

    (that piece on the POS QB was written before the second rape charge. My delusions of his potential innocence have been well and truly expunged.)

  65. speedbudget

    How exactly does sex-as-murder-deterrent work? I mean, seriously. What is the connection there? Yet another way women are to blame for our own shitty outcomes.

  66. TwissB

    @Mildred-“One episode of Tots and Tiaras and you’ll no longer have any illusions about what’s going on.”

    Or next time you’re in your neighborhood drugstore,check the birthday card rack to be dazzled by all those “For Girls” cards fraught with tiara-crowned, huge-eyed, Little Mermaid-bodied princesses, all pink frothy-gowned, with nothing to do but look glamorous as Hedy Lamarr described it: “Stand still and look stupid.” For Boys it’s all funny talking cars for the little guys and, for the rest, lunging action figures, their steel-muscled bodies encased in skin-tight suits and – most importantly – their faces totally masked. No place here for Tim Gunn.

  67. quixote

    If sexual frustration turned people into serial killers, then the proportion of female to male killers would be 99:1.

  68. ytiik

    Funny Quixote! You have a point. Considering how much bad sex women are subjected to, we should all be axe murderers by now. I guess sexual frustration does not turn people into mass murderers.

  69. Shelly

    Ladypeople are not real people (you know, men), so the opposite is true for us. No sex turns people into killing machines, while having sex turns ladypeople into killers. If you don’t believe me, watch one of those “killer women” shows on ID. Every single damned one of the women is portrayed as oversexed. Some of them even have *gasp* lesbian sex.

  70. Lovepug

    Said it before and I’ll say it again: Real sexual freedom is not just freedom to, it’s freedom from.

  71. LS

    I just want a platonic life partner because the rent is too damn high.

  72. Jezebella

    LS: amen, sister.

    Confession: I still watch Project Runway, but the last few seasons have been pretty awful. The new “PR All-Stars” is quite good because they have new judges (no more Heidi Klum! No more Michael Kors!), and every competitor actually knows how to design and sew clothing. I miss Tim Gunn terribly, but the truth is, they’d been editing his role down more and more the last few seasons, as he was the only person telling the truth about the crapulent design that the judges were ooh-ing and goo-ing over. New mentor what’s-her-name is doing a creditable job, but there’ll never be another Tim Gunn.

  73. Carpenter

    I recall the PR season filmed in hot and sunny Los Angeles when I really though Tim Gunn was doomed to spontaneously combust any second. Bless his blindingly pale head.

  74. Lurker Lyn

    The misogynist programmes may be awful, awful dross, but it depends what else is on. I’d rather watch a programme about women, even if it’s sexist, than watch dudes duding on about how dudely they are.

  75. Shelly

    I’d rather watch a programme about women, even if it’s sexist, than watch dudes duding on about how dudely they are.

    So you’ve seen Guy Fieri’s body of work?

  76. Lurker Lyn

    Ha! No, but googling his picture he looks like the guy the Man vs Food dude wishes he was if he had any other skill than inhailing wasteful amounts of meat products.

    I avoid cooking programmes. Aside from the dudeness they remind me that food is supposed to be porn for women. It’s not. I have no desire to hurt or oppress cheesecake, nor does it hypontise me and make me powerless to resist destroying and consuming it.

  77. Kali

    I am also addicted to “I Survived.”

    I’m addicted to “I Survived” too. From the feminist perspective I think there are several key distinctions with crime shows like “CSI”, “Law and Order”, etc. The people on “I Survived” tell their own stories. They are not objectified or sexified. Instead of being treated like a piece of meat, they inspire respect and awe at their courage and survival against all odds. They, not the perpetrators, not the detectives and lawyers, are the heros and protagonists of the stories. Also, one cannot watch several episodes of “I Survived” and not notice that for most women, their lives are threatened by men, though for most men, it is about an even split between being attacked by men and accidents or natural disasters. Also, women are rarely the perpetrators.

  78. Katherine

    Ha, Project Runway here too. Mostly I think because, having no personal interest in fashion, it was genuinely interesting to see a bit of a world I had no knowledge of. Obviously, a semi-scripted faux-competition isn’t a window into the reality of fashion, but it was a window into the minds of some people who really wanted in. Every time I watched it, I swore I wouldn’t again, and then I’d be back for more.

    And now I can’t stop watching NCIS. Eek.

  79. Jezebella

    NCIS is addictive because I so enjoy watching Zeva (or is it Ziva?) constantly kicking people’s asses.

  80. Barn Owl

    Maybe sexuality is more than a linear continuum of gay vs. straight; maybe it’s an infinite 3D sphere, or a mobious strip, or not a shape at all.

    Thanks for that, Cycles – from a spinster aunt whose sexuality has never fit on a linear continuum.

    I remember the Green river killer’s wife trying desperately to point out that there’s something just not right about this guy. Nobody listened to her.

    Of course the P rarely, if ever, listens to women. Case in point: Jaycee Dugard, abducted at age 11 by a repeat sex offender, held prisoner in his creepy backyard, repeatedly raped, and somehow managed to raise two children under these conditions. Women visiting adjoining properties repeatedly reported suspicious noises, weird tarp-covered structures, and evidence of children occupying the creepy backyard. Did anyone listen to them and investigate? No. “Silly women, you’re imagining things. Why, dudely parole officers have been to this house many times, and they noticed nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing at all.” Apparently the parole officers never bothered to check out the yard behind the house.

  81. GMM

    ytiik, are you sure about the Green River killer’s wife? Because I saw a program about it and she said she had no clue, that he was a kind, loving and devoted husband, and “he made me feel like a newlywed everyday.” None of his friends and co-workers could believe it either.

  82. Sylvie

    Hi LS – me too.

  83. ytiik

    The Green River killer had 3 wives. I think it was the second one who complained about his obsession with having sex in public places (where he had dumped bodies) and how he liked to sneak up behind her and try to strangle her. Wife number 3 had a horrible abuse history, so her denial was pretty staggering. She didn’t even meet Ridgway until after he was already a suspect.

    People knew. He was first a suspect back in 1983, right after the murders started happening. It took until 2001 to get enough hard evidence against him. So for 18 years people had a hunch that something just wasn’t right with this guy. Former girlfriends, ex wives, prostitutes, had all tried to get somebody to listen. Back when he was 16 he had even led a 6 yr old boy into the woods and stabbed him. So Ridgway had this long history that was basically ignored.

    But I mentioned Ridgway to debunk Dan Savage’s “lack of sex leads to serial killing” theme. Ridgway killed just under 100 women, most who he had picked up as prostitutes.

  84. aphrabean

    Twisty, I’m checking out Mushroom now! Mycophilia was a highly entertaining introduction to both mushrooms and the various subcultures that have sprung up around them. I found it a little too facile and politically misguided in parts – her investigations into the world of seasonal mushroom pickers made me cringe – but all in all, it definitely roused my interest enough to tackle Stamet’s book, which I’d been given a couple of years earlier.

    Mycelium Running is an odd, evangelical book – there’s a lot of very good information interspersed with passages about bioaccumulation which end with “I can’t help but feel that the fungus knows what it’s doing, and is sacrificing itself for the good of the earth.” Stamets holds several patents for specific strains of mushrooms and really knows what he’s talking about, despite a perhaps too-assiduous application of psylocybins during his writing process. Your mileage may vary depending on your tolerance for hippie-dippieness, I guess.

  85. GMM

    yttik, thanks for the clarification. When he was arrested, his wife Judith claims she was completely blindsided. When he was first considered a suspect he convinced her it was a case of mistaken identity.
    I didn’t know he was married three times. I don’t remember the name of the TV show I saw her interviewed on, but it was pretty misleading.

  86. speedbudget

    Ah, yes. Ignore the ladies and they will shut up.

    If only someone had known that the crash to the American economy was coming! If only someone would have said something to stop it. Well, someone did. Three someones. Unfortunately, all three were women, so they were roundly ignored.


    Us ladies never know what we are talking about in our coffee klatches.

  87. Moonlight

    Late to the party, but notice this item from Huffington Post about a declining interest in sex in Japan.

    But do you think something was lost in translation? (No movie reference intended.)

  88. FM


    For hetero cis women who find themselves wanting to be in a relationship, the first and most proper course of action is be single for a period of years. This tends to cleanse the palate, and it also tends to make it so your first thought on meeting some guy isn’t about what you can do to get into a relationship with him. Your first thought generally is more along the lines of “This dude better prove he’s worth giving up my swinging, awesome single lifestyle or he’s out the door.”

    Being single is a fantastic benchmark for all relationships with dudes. Most dudes measure up poorly to the “None of the Above” option. I think this is also why so many dudes automatically get jealous of their girlfriend’s pets: they know that any direct in-room comparison against the dog or cat (a surrogate for the “None of the Above” option) will go badly for them.

  89. ily

    Longtime lurker, first time commenter. I did watch Project Runway for awhile, until I got too annoyed by the judges (also, the challenges got really repetitive). Tim Gunn was the best part. He didn’t seem to care about every garment being sexy or feminine, as with other fashion shows (What Not to Wear…sigh.) As an asexual, I can relate to his reasons for not having sex. Since sex would be boring for me at best, it’s really not worth the risk of disease, pregnancy, side effects from birth control, and dudes on power trips.

  90. Lurker Lyn


    I think the statisics may have been massaged here, I mean, the survey was 16-19 year olds, practically highschoolers. Despite the hormones of teenage years a lot of people don’t really come in to their sexuality until their twenties anyway.

    Also, lack of interest in sex does not equate to lack of interest in childrearing. Just as an interest in having a lot of sex does not mean that one is trying to get pregnant.

  91. pearlsbeforeswine

    Arg. I wish I was asexual, but I’m not, though I am celibate and probably always will be. See, I find piv sex to be repellent, and it seems like its not only dudes but also dykes who are obsessed with penetration. Getting pronged by a peen or dildo is a horrific nightmare for me, and I have little desire to be the “tough boi” who prongs the “femme” . Lesbian sexuality of late seems as penetration obsessed and role obsessed as het sexuality, and all this opposition based domination/submission crap is a huge turn off for me. So unless I wake up one morning a gay man, it’s frustrated sex for one and celibacy for me. Ibtp.

  92. pearlsbeforeswine

    Dan savage also displays the most stereotypical and all too common brand of gay dude misogyny. Sure they won’t rape women but they can’t shut up about tuna, gaping axe wounds, and how ugly and worthless women are compared to men. Why do so many women worship them and glorify in terms like fag hag and queen’ s loyal servant? Gag. Also, I had the unfortunate occurrence of attending a drag show where the queens’ running joke was how gross vaginas smelled, and would actually go up to women in the audience, kneel by their crotches and then hold their noses and pantomime gagging. The ostensibly straight doodz laughed at their dates’ humiliation, as did all the gay guys. I left, shaking with anger, as the queen on stage yelled “someone is too afraid to face the truth…or maybe that’s what I’ve been smelling all night, after all, the rest of you ladies are here with men”. Har Dee har. So much for glbt family. P.s. I am not knocking trans women at all, I know a few who are blamers and dykes. These performers did not identify as women, they did drag to make fun of women, and they worshiped cis men and identified as gay men who did drag. Their performance illustrated the bull carp of femininity, but at the expense of the genitals that those of us born female happened to have. From what I learned, after I left they did a parody of a well known lesbian musician’s song where the lyrics identified lesbians as too ugly to be men and too much of bitches to be “real women”. When I complained to the manager, a gay man, he told me that I just proved everything the drag queens sang about to be true and if he could keep feminist dykes from coming in, he would, but our money was green too and it was fun to watch us go through “instant pms”. I wonder what other blamers think of drag shows.

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