Monthly Archives: May 2015

Newsletter – May 2015











Teacher says to me, “I agree that sex is good in a loving relationship.”
                        I said, “It can be plenty terrific without.”
                               He looked shocked. Shocked.


May Greetings, Dear Friends…

Sex is a powerful drive. While it may not have been as necessary as eating, it came close in my earlier years. But in my 70’s, even though I still enjoy looking and flirting, my life is basically non-sexual. This previously unimaginable path has surprised me with the gifts it brings. Peace, contentment, patience, openness, receptivity and understanding are examples of these gifts. My 97 year old friend and mentor, Elder Ed, uses the term “Relaxing Into Participation” (RIP).

RIP is of a different nature than intellect. Intellect wants to be in control. Maturity does not. My solitude has helped me understand Elder Ed’s suggestion of RIP. By this he means “Relaxing Into Participation” with the Universe, Oneness, etc. (whatever you want to call it will do) which means surrendering the notion of being in control.

Surrendering the notion of being in control is a real stretch, isn’t it?

Haven’t you always sought ways to be in control? I have – and I haven’t. Even though I was constantly terrified of losing control, I also sought it. This is the connection between sex, RIP and maturity. There are many methods of losing control – alcohol, drugs, rage, submission, etc. I’m so glad sex was there for me, a haven where I discovered surrender, merging, caring and sometimes love. Those experiences serve me well now as I learn RIP with Ed.

So in these golden years I’m slowly giving up pretensions of being in control. Is this an aspect of maturity and wise eldering? I think so. With Ed’s help I’ve experienced the power in this acceptance, and there is a grace experienced in giving up this awful burden of unfulfillable responsibility. It is not pleasant to strive to be in control once you accept that it’s impossible.

The benefits are simple, but like most very simple realities, cannot be understood until on
e has lived the experience, in this case truly surrendering our absurd attempts at control. This process of unlearning deeply imprinted patterns in our unconscious is no simple feat! And a dominant rationality can block rather than support this process.

According to Ed, when you “Relax Into Participation” your personal and unique “Sources” will speak to you; that is, guidance and understanding will come from levels unavailable to the controlling rational mind. We can only open to them by acknowledging we are not in control. This is what Ed has gifted me with, and I hope to share that gift with you with this simple yet very difficult suggestion:

Whenever you’re caught in a RIGHT/WRONG mentality, try stepping back, taking a deep breath, Relaxing Into Participation and opening into a vast “not knowing.” Insights and inspiration beyond the strictly rational help transform destructive EITHER/OR perceptions and release BOTH/AND visions. This enables you to embrace and flow with your life in the moment.

This may seem very difficult when you begin, but does it ever make life easier as you get the hang of it! Just to reiterate, remember it’s taken this old Father William the best part of 77 years to do this with some consistency for himself.

Raised Catholic, my earliest memory of sex is that to make our first confession at age six, we were taught very specifically how to confess to missing Mass, stealing, lying, and disobeying our parents. But when it came to sex, we were told to say only that “I’ve done bad things.” There were priests who wanted more info, but that was personalities, not the church.

I took my religion very seriously until my mid-teens, and the imprinting of sex and guilt as one lasted into my 30’s. In the middle 50’s, we didn’t “hook up”; we “went steady.” And most of us were sleeping with our “steadies,” but, very unlike “The Last Picture Show” portrayal of teens celebrating a young couple’s first coupling, we never admitted, even in the locker room, we were sleeping with our girlfriends. Why? Because our upbringing meant we could only see girls as madonnas or whores. Of course we laughed about the ones we designated as whores, but that never included our steadies. How terrible we were to everyone, ourselves included.

When I luckily got to become part of the 60’s (my peers mostly missed them) by working
at universities from 69 to 76, I began my sexual rehab, and I am more grateful for that time than I can say.

But these Musings are not about my sexual history except for how screwed up it was and a bit of why. My goal here is to offer us all, parents, grandparents and descendants, possibilities for broadening narrow moral attitudes and changing the behaviors that follow from them. Bigoted sexual attitudes and behaviors surround us and offer constant opportunities to practice developing openness, receptivity and understanding. I hope you will find these articles helpful for you and your families. The thinking in them, while sometimes appearing outrageous, echoes what I’ve tried to pass on to my kids and grandkids.

Basically, like Alice Dreger, I suggest asking oneself, “When I have sex, how will I do it safely, enjoyably and with caring for self and others?” This lets us think of sex as normal human activity, like mountain climbing or drinking alcohol, appropriate at some times and in some places. Are there down sides to mountaineering and alcohol? Absolutely. Do we feel dirty or guilty when we’ve done them safely, enjoyably and with caring for self and others. Not at all. Same with sex. Same with all human possibilities.
So see what how you react to the articles that follow, and, if you have thoughts you’d like to share with me, send them along to
Much love, FW



FW:  Seems like there’s lots of “banning” going on in schools these days, and much of it is about sex in various forms – sex education, or lack of, young ladies’ choices of dresses or other outfits for proms, etc. My generation thought we had hit the great divide over sex in the 60’s-70’s and the issue, like racial equality, had finally reached ‘the tipping point’ and been decided for future generations. We were not naive; we knew there would be a long, slow process taki
ng a generation to bring everyone along.

But, measuring generations as 17 years long, that would mean three (3) generations came and went by 2011. And, as you can see by checking out the links above, in many sub-cultures the progress still hasn’t reached the 50’s I grew up in. And now Alice Dreger, at her son’s request, learns what sex education in 2015 consists of in East Lansing, Michigan. Note we are not talking backwoods Mississippi here; this college town has been home to Mich
Alice Dregerigan State University since 1857…

An American mum couldn’t quite believe her ears at her son’s s
ex education – but was banned from the school after live tweeting details from the lesson.

Alice Dreger, a professor of medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, was shocked at the school’s abstinence-only stance and began tweeting the contents of the lesson after being invited by her son to sit in on the class. 

She had planned to sit quietly in the back while the state-required course on abstinence was taught, Dreger later told CBC Radio.

But she couldn’t hold back after hearing the stories being told to the kids.

“I can’t stand this. They’re teaching “abstinence stories” that worked and non-abstinence” stories that “led to consequences,” she tweeted. 

After being told abstinence education reduces premarital sex, a man, visiting with the sex-ed teacher, got up to tell the class about his experiences with sex as a teen. 

“Now he’s talking about getting a girl preg and them hiding it from their parents. Yup, that’s what sexual shame does, dude!” Dreger tweeted.

“Preg girl got picked on so her friends desserted her (sic). That’s what happens if you have sex, kids! Yup! Pregnant and NO FRIENDS!

“The whole lesson here is ‘sex is part of a terrible lifestyle. Drugs, unemployment, failure to finish school – sex is part of the disaster’.”

For the next part of the class, students were told “on average one in six condoms fail”.

To demonstrate how easily the contraceptive method fails, everyone was given a number. They rolled a dice and every time a student’s number came up, they were given a paper baby.

“Paper babies are being handed out to EVERYONE. They have ALL HAD CONDOM FAILURE AND THE WHOLE CLASS IS PREGNANT,” Dreger tweeted.

After Dreger’s tweets started trending online, the school made a statement claiming abstinence wasn’t all they taught. 

High school principal Coby Fletcher said in the statement released to the Lansing State Journal: “Abstinence-based instruction teaches that abstinence is the only way to be completely safe, but the curriculum also reviews contraception choices. This parent attended on a day where abstinence was being taught.”
Dreger has since been banned from the high school after swearing at the class following the lesson.

“In the meantime I’ve been banned from the high school (except for drop off/pick up/concerts/conferences) for saying ‘f…’ after class,” she wrote. 

But as Mic reports, sex education doesn’t have to be this way.

“It’s possible, and important, to teach kids the value of safe, consensual and respectful sex,” without just focusing on the negatives, its article says.

“Almost from the beginning…It was clear to me what they were going to impart in that classroom was the story of how you can abstain from sex and have a delightful life or you can not abstain and have a terrible life and that’s exactly what went on to happen,” said Dreger.

“The lesson was…that when you meet a girl who says no that’s the woman you want, basically slut-shaming the girls who might say yes.”

The mum may have angered her son’s school, but she has found support from fellow parents.”

I found out some students in the school had already been organising to change the state legislation to stop this teaching being required.”

“I found out some students in the school had already been organising to change the state legislation to stop this teaching being required.

FW:  I admire Alice and the students who are shocked and doing something about this primitive approach to sex ed in Lansing. But the reality of absurdities like this ricocheting around the world’s ‘Culture Wars’ disturbs me at more troubling levels.

With all the information available, and all the popular technology to put that info so easily at our finger tips, how is it possible we human beings can continue to believe in such conflicting realities? And act as if those we believe in are the ‘right’ and ‘only’ ones?

I’m afraid I know the answer and even more disturbed by what it is. Simply put, there are those who need to control and consume excessively, often pathologically. I mean “need” as opposed to “want.” They have been programmed at unconscious levels so they are not in conscious or rational control of their actions. This is why so many different forms of psychological therapy have emerged – if we want to control our choices rationally, we have to do the slow and hard work of unconscious renovation.–and-is-then-banned-from-the-school



FW:  “Peyton Place” was an sexual earthquake a decade before the 60’s impacted the US. It seems Ardi Cameron has done a brilliant book showing how much that earthquake shook us Yanks up…


     “Published in 1956, Peyton Place became a bestseller and a literary phenomenon. A lurid and gripping story of murder, incest, female desire, and social injustice, it was consumed as avidly by readers as it was condemned by critics and the clergy. Its author, Grace Metalious, a housewife who grew up in poverty in a New Hampshire mill town and had aspired to be a writer from childhood, loosely based the novel’s setting, characters, and incidents on real-life places, people, and events. The novel sold more than 30 million copies in hardcover and paperback, and it was adapted into a hit Hollywood film in 1957 and a popular television series that aired from 1964 to 1969. More than half a century later, the term “Peyton Place” is still in circulation as a code for a community harboring sordid secrets.

     “In Unbuttoning America, Ardis Cameron mines extensive interviews, fan letters, and archival materials including contemporary cartoons and cover images from film posters and foreign editions to tell how the story of a patricide in a small New England village circulated over time and became a cultural phenomenon. She argues that Peyton Place, with its frank discussions of poverty, sexuality, class and ethnic discrimination, and small-town hypocrisy, was more than a tawdry potboiler. Metalious’s depiction of how her three central female characters come to terms with their identity as women and sexual beings anticipated second-wave feminism. More broadly, Cameron asserts, the novel was also part of a larger postwar struggle over belonging and recognition. Fictionalizing contemporary realities, Metalious pushed to the surface the hidden talk and secret rebellions of a generation no longer willing to ignore the disparities and domestic constraints of Cold War America.”  -Cornell University Press

     “Unbuttoning America is a wonderful book about a fascinating and historically significant topic: Grace Metalious, her novel Peyton Place, and her readers. It is clearly argued, strongly researched, impressively structured, and beautifully written. The consistent use of readers’ fan letters, combined with quotes from Metalious and her personal and professional contemporaries, provides a thorough analysis and vivid sense of the production and reception of this literary blockbuster. The energetic writing, with Ardis Cameron’s voice coming through on every page, makes the book lively. Cameron’s rich historical contextualization allows the reader to grasp the full meaning and significance of Peyton Place and its cultural work.”  -Jennifer Frost, University of Auckland, author of Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood: Celebrity Gossip and American Conservatism

     “Seldom have I encountered a book as well-written and argued as Unbuttoning America. Ardis Cameron has mastered a tremendous amount of knowledge of the historic era, popular literature and popular culture, women’s writing, women’s reading, the literary marketplace, New York publishing, the history of sexuality, the construction of New England, consumer culture, and the sociology of everyday life. Cameron deploys this material lightly, with consummate skill, to produce a revelatory account that illuminates how a popular book enters and transforms the cultural landscape.”  -Judith E. Smith, University of Massachusetts, Boston, author of Visions of Belonging: Family Stories, Popular Culture, and Postwar Democracy, 1940–1960


     “Don’t pick this one up thinking it’s going to be a fun, ‘pop culture’ book. It’s far more academic than that – meticulously researched and well-written, but not exactly a page turner (and it’s not intended to be)…. This was an excellent and interesting book to get my teeth into. It is also the perfect time to read it —for those who are still curious about the ‘hype’ of “Fifty Shades of Gray”….and for those who were fans of Peyton Place. Remember the old saying, “History repeats itself”?  -Anjuli at Dorking

     “University of Southern Maine American Studies professor Cameron (Radicals of the Worst Sort) presents a unique synthesis of historical research and fresh analysis in this study of Peyton Place by Grace Metalious, a bestselling 1956 novel later made into a movie and TV series. Eisenhower-era America experienced the book, with its overt treatment of socially taboo topics like female sexuality and ethnic disenfranchisement, as the literary equivalent of the H-bomb. Cameron dexterously tracks the shock waves, unearthing gushing fan letters as well as scathing reviews that deemed the book ‘a lethal weapon aimed at the purity of family life.’ Cameron’s intelligent treatment of a racy novel meant to be read “often at night, under bedcovers, a flashlight illuminating the guilty pleasures of the act” makes for a fascinating read in and of itself. It is a rare feat for such an overtly academic work to have such a smooth, comfortable prose style. While Peyton Place is often remembered as frivolous, Cameron reminds readers of its resounding cultural impact, which uprooted ideas of normalcy and helped set the tone for modern America. (May)”  -Publishers Weekly



FXN Breasts BlurredBlurred lines: The Fox News treatment of Picasso’s The Women of Algiers.

FW:  It’s time we all worked to recognize and accept how politically and religious antagonistic our world is (not has become). I think it’s always been this way, but globalization, especially technologically, has misled us into believing we are more alike than the Charlie Hebdo attack demonstrates. This is also true in the US, supposedly the country where state and religion are kept separate. Not when Fox News presents art masterpieces…

A leading US art critic has blasted Fox News for being “sexually sick” after the network blurred out the breasts on Pablo Picasso’s The Women of Algiers (Version O) in a report about the masterpiece selling for a record-breaking US$179million (NZ$243m) in New York on Monday.

The New York magazine senior art critic Jerry Saltz took to Twitter to voice his disapproval, tweeting: “How sexually sick are conservatives & Fox News? They blurred parts of the Picasso painting #SickMinds.”

The full, unblurred version of The Women of Algiers (Version O).

His consternation was echoed across various other Twitter users, who labelled the move “bizarre” and “pathetic”, with one user including the hashtag #freethenipple, referencing the recent campaign against censorship of the female form.

In the screen grab of the report on Fox News, the nipples of three female figures are blurred out, despite its significance as a major artwork.  

The 1955 work became the most expensive painting ever sold at auction, with the record-breaking total reached in 11 minutes of furious bidding, surpassing its pre-sale estimate of US$140 million.

The 121cm-by-152-cm canvas, the Cubist masterpiece depicts courtesans in harem. The artist created 15 variations of Les Femmes d’Alger, inspired by the French master Eugene Delacroix, who in 1834 had painted Women of Algiers in their Apartment. Picasso embarked on the epic project in honour of his friend and competitor Matisse, who died in 1954, and the final 1955 canvas – Version O – is the most highly acclaimed.



FW:  For me, the purity ball phenomenon is bizarre. I encourage you to look at the rest of Magnusson’s photos  on Huffington Post and vote your take…

For those unfamiliar with the ritual, a purity ball is a religious ceremony in which fathers and daughters dress up in ball gown attire, spend a night of dinner and dancing together, and end the evening with a vow to abstain from sex until marriage. As photographer David Magnusson explains in “Purity,” a photography book on the subject: “The girls make a pledge to ‘remain pure and live pure lives before God,’ to stay sexually abstinent until marriage. Their fathers sign a commitment undertaking to protect their daughter’s purity.”

Magnusson had been fascinated by this traditional rite — so much so that he embarked on his photographic endeavor to document the fathers and daughters who together take the vow.

Of course, there’s a lot to take issue with regarding concepts that govern a purity ball. As Flavorwire’s Tom Hawking put it, “it’s hard to know where to start with this: the notion of sex as ‘impurity,’ the fact that it’s all daughters and no sons, the idea of dressing a preteen girl in something that looks awfully like a wedding dress.”

“When we teach girls that their virginity makes them special and valuable, we’re sending the simultaneous message that without their virginity they are tainted and damaged,” The Guardian’s Jessica Valenti wrote.

Yet according to Magnusson, the more he learned about the culture of the balls, the more he warmed up to the idea, realizing some of his initial judgments were overly critical. “When I first heard about the Purity Balls I imagined angry American fathers terrified of anything that might hurt their daughters or their honor,” Magnusson explained to The Huffington Post.

“But as I learnt more, I understood that the fathers, like all parents, simply wanted to protect the ones that they love -– in the best way they know how. It was also often the girls themselves that had taken the initiative to attend the balls. They had made their decisions out of their own conviction and faith, in many cases with fathers who didn’t know what a Purity Ball was before being invited by their daughters.”

Rather than viewing the bizarre tradition as inherently right or wrong, Magnusson used the balls as a lens through which to examine how our culture and upbringing shape our ideals.

Magnusson reached out to organizers of different Purity Balls in the U.S and, over the course of around 5 months, contacted a variety of father-daughter duos willing to pose for portraits. Mostly teenage girls, the daughters don formal gowns and pose with their father figures in a loving embrace. The resulting images are striking to be sure, marked by unusually serious expressions and overly dramatic poses. But Magnusson’s portraits refuse to pass judgment, allowing an image to simultaneously ring beautiful to one viewer and offensive to another.

“I wanted to create portraits so beautiful that the girls and their fathers could be proud of the pictures in the same way they are proud of their decisions –- while someone from a different background might see an entirely different story in the very same photographs,” the artist explained. We’d say Magnusson certainly succeeded, crafting images that, whether or not you approve of them, will stay emblazoned in your memory for quite a while.

See the images below and let us know whether you find them beautiful or bizarre in the comments:



FW:  My experience is that repression of psychic energy in any form only bottles it up. Pressure cookers are useful if you know when to turn them off, but, if you don’t, they explode. We manage pressure cookers much more intelligently than we do our psyches.

PS:  This is an excerpt – you can read the entire article here.

In the fall of 1969, Merle Haggard topped the Billboard country charts for four weeks with “Okie from Muskogee,” the song that quickly became the anthem of red America, even before we called it that.

“We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee, we don’t take our trips on LSD, we don’t burn our draft cards down on Main Street, we like livin’ right and bein’ free,” Haggard declared. “We don’t make a party out of lovin’, we like holdin’ hands and pitchin’ woo.”

Times have changed.

Today Muskogee, Okla., a city of 38,863, has nine drug treatment centers and a court specifically devoted to drug offenders. A search for “methamphetamine arrest” on the website of the Muskogee Phoenix, the local newspaper, produces
In 2013 just under two-thirds of the births in the city of Muskogee, 62.6 percent, were to unwed mothers, including 48.3 percent of the births to white mothers. The teenage birthrate in Oklahoma was 47.3 per 1,000; in Muskogee, it’s 59.2, almost twice the national rate, which is 29.7.

Muskogee County voted decisively for Ronald Reagan in 1984 and for Republican presidential candidates in the last three elections. In 2012, Romney beat Obama 57.4 to 42.6.

Why am I talking about Muskogee? Two reasons.

The first is that the Baltimore riots have become a vehicle for conservatives to point to the city as an emblem of the failure of liberalism and the Democratic Party. The current state of affairs in Muskogee suggests that the left does not deserve exclusive credit for social disorder.

The second reason is that worsening conditions in working-class white Republican communities indicate that the conservative moral agenda has not decisively won the battle for the hearts of America’s youth…

…In fact, this map shows that the Southern Baptist Convention, one of the most socially conservative denominations in America, is dominant in every one of the nine states with the highest white teenage pregnancy rates, with the sole exception of West Virginia.

Births & Abstinenc
Conservative religions have proved powerless to halt unwed motherhood, cohabitation and other trends that defy traditional morality — in part because these trends reflect the limited authority of the old order in the face of a global phenomenon known among researchers as the “second demographic transition.”

Regions as diverse as Europe, Japan, South America, Canada and the United States are undergoing a profound shift in fertility, reproductive attitudes and behavior. The changes include rejection of premarital virginity, social acceptance of single parenting, and the replacement of values stressing family obligation with values stressing personal autonomy…

…The problems of majority black Baltimore are extreme, but many of the trends found there are as extreme or more so in majority white Muskogee.

The Baltimore poverty rate is 23.8 percent, 8.4 points above the national rate, but below Muskogee’s 27.7 percent. The median household income in Baltimore is $41,385, $11,661 below the $53,046 national level, but $7,712 above Muskogee’s $33,664.

If conservatives place responsibility on liberal Democrats, feminism and the abandonment of traditional family values for Baltimore’s decay, what role did the 249 churches in and around Muskogee play in that city’s troubles?

The fact is that the poor and working classes of both races were not well equipped to adjust to changes in behavior driven by the sexual revolution and the second demographic transition – a collection of forces that are inexorably changing the family, marriage patterns and child rearing worldwide

Those who seek to exploit the transformation of reproductive norms for short-term political gain are tearing at the social fabric. The right willfully ignores the benefits, and the left willfully ignores the costs, of what is, for better or worse, a world of radically diminished moral constraint. It may be asking too much of the political process to resolve conflicts like these.®ion=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region&_r=2

Maybe that there are dimensions of our human natures (like sexuality) that withstand brain-washing better than others (like who we vote for). Maybe there’s a clue in all this as to how we individually can choose not to become a minion of the cyborg big money is paying for…






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