“How To Stay Married,” is a web series that is actually the delicious appetizer to the book I am writing, “Take My Spouse Please: how the rules of comedy will keep your marriage happy, healthy and thriving!” (Shambhala Press, January 2015).
After one particularly tough night with my husband, huddled up on the bed hugging a pillow, I remembered something people used to say to me all the time when I was a comic, “Stand up comedy? That is the hardest thing in the world to do, I could never do that, that is the hardest thing!”
Wiping my tears with a pillowcase, I didn’t think so. At least a comedy set is over in two hours, max. Being married, now that was something you could really lose sleep over.
I decided to consult a syllabus I used to teach a course in Stand up Comedy at UCLA for almost ten years and see if any of the tools I taught people who wanted to be comics, the other hardest thing to do in the world, would help me persevere in what is genuinely the hardest thing to do, staying married.
Turns out most of the lessons were spot on. Listening, showing up, paying attention to timing, letting go of a bad night, these were all things that could absolutely help me in my marriage.
Then I decided to also go out and talk to long term happily married people to see how they did it. Emphasis on happily. Anyone can stay married, but I was looking for people to learn from and who could inspire me.
“How To Stay Married,” then, is filmed excerpts of some of the couples I interviewed. The show focuses specifically on those key challenges in every marriage of handling money, fighting fairly, having sex, and continuing to surprise each other.
These couples certainly surprised me! They also made me laugh and inspired me. I know you are going to love them. You can watch all four videos, starting with making sex a priority right here.
Tell us what you think of Dani’s web series in the comments below and pass along to the couples you know!
A recent Causes petition exhorting Target to stop carrying sexy Halloween costumes for young girls recently landed in my in-box.
“From sexy witches to naughty leopards and “slutty crayons,” Halloween costumes that encourage young girls to sexualize themselves are everywhere. News flash: little girls aren’t sexy – do we really want society to look at our daughters this way?“
I’d almost added my electronic name to the petition when it suddenly hit me. Wait a minute. You have a choice as a mom and a choice as a consumer. If it offends you, don’t buy the product.
Easy for me to say—I don’t have the terrific task of explaining to a kid in various stages of public whining, pouting and storm just why a particularly slinky, slit-to-there witches outfit isn’t for her.
“It’s not appropriate.” Was there ever a more tired response guaranteed to trigger more “why not?” whining than that? And how, in God’s name, can anybody adequately explain inappropriate sexual behavior and what it might trigger to an eight-year-old anyway? In a store? Running late for gymnastics class?
And how did society get us in such a terrible place that we have to have this kind of conversation in the first place? Is it as bad as I think it is? Or is it a generational thing? I remember my mother saying things like, “You’re wearing that over my dead body.” But I was at least 16 at the time.
Times have indeed changed if eight is the new 16.And not in a good way.
Sexualization of women and little girls has reached epidemic proportions. And then there’s Miley Cyrus in a class by herself where she’s apparently always wanted to be. No wonder the petition-starting mom wants to cut the conversation off at the source! But darn-it, are the stores really the source? Is Target really the target?
I don’t think there’s a conspiracy driving the sale of revealing clothes—although it’s a great gimmick for the garment industry selling clothes with less and less actual cloth in them for ever higher prices. And I don’t think there’s a conscious desire to sexualize children. Corporations are just following the buying trend. And the trend of ever-more-exposed, younger female flesh is visible in almost any magazine, billboard, video game, advertisement, movie or TV show.
Maybe it’s a response to global warming?
Nah. It’s a time-honored tradition, and, as any salesman knows, you don’t mess with a good thing. You just keep ramping up the show. Yes, sex sells. Why child sex sells I cannot fathom or want to fathom. But here’s what’s puzzling. Over 85 percent of consumer sales, no matter what the item (okay, maybe not automatic rifles), are made by women.
In an average year, women control over $20 trillion in consumer and business spending worldwide. Hello? Do we have a clue how much power lies in our hands?
If we don’t like how something is presented or over-packaged in plastic—we can kill it. If we don’t like how our food is grown, sprayed, polluted with toxic chemicals and GMO’d into something our bodies can’t even recognize as food—we can kill it. If we don’t like how our bodies are portrayed or how our little girl’s bodies are being exploited—we can kill it.
WE’RE NOT BUYING IT. I guarantee when we don’t, markets will change.
Yes, I can hear the screams of millions of frantic-to-be-popular little girls about how “everybody else is doing it, wearing it, and piercing it.” I can hear the howls of young men when their sexually degrading, physically abusive to women video games are wrenched from their clenched fists and thrown in the trash. I can hear the sighs of boyfriends and husbands as certain magazines hit the dustbins and the TV remote CLICKS off a particularly gruesome show or movie showing yet one more violent rape, stabbing and disemboweling of yet one more terrified, victimized woman.
Too bad, so sad.
Will it be easy? Hell no. Is it the “right” direction to go? What do you think? And now, excuse me, I’m going to go sign that petition. Every message counts.
Warning: This video contains graphic content that may not be appropriate for the workplace or young children.
The Westboro Baptist Church is famous for protesting the funerals of soldiers killed in action, terrorist victims or other noteworthy people to say that those deaths are God’s penance for rampant homosexuality. The goal is to enrage those trying to bury their loved ones to the point of physical violence so they assault any of the protestors – and then the Westboro Baptist Church sues. Pretty despicable, right?
Many have come up with creative ways to deal with these monsters – from blockading the protestors from their intended funerals or buying the house across the street and painting it with rainbow colors – but a California punk band called Get Shot! may have come up with the most outrageous way to protest the WBC.
They filmed their bassist masturbating on the front lawn of the church headquarters. (Video is below. Warning again: Graphic)
Get Shot! has been known for other headline grabbing press stunts according to the comments of the Gawker article. But you have to admit it’s a creative, if totally twisted, way to get back at WBC for their hate speech tactics. Obviously the band will benefit with more clicks to their website, and maybe even sell a few CDs, but does it do anything to WBC itself? Does it make us feel any better that this happened?
It’s at least a little funny for those with a crude sense of humor (and there’s nothing wrong with that) but the stunt feels almost like dropping down to the WBC level. Maybe you make a few of them uncomfortable, but does any change come from that discomfort or do they just re-up their efforts? The best way for us to rise about the hatred spewed by the WBC is to rise above them, to show love for one another and be the better example. If we stoop to their level just to grab headlines – are we really any better?
What do you think of the stunt? Was it a good idea or a cheap shot at attention? Tell us in the comments below!
To love, trust and honor yourself is the ultimate foundation for any relationship. The relationship with yourself is mirrored in the relationship with the partners that you attract into your life. Each moment we are at choice. A choice to choose love or a choice to choose fear. A choice to cheat or a choice to live with integrity. Every relationship is the opportunity to practice integrity and to live your spirituality in everyday life.
When you don’t honor what you truly feel or your deepest truth in a relationship, you cheat on yourself. This is when unfaithfulness begins. When you are in a relationship and compromise who you really are, you are cheating on yourself. When you remain in a relationship that no longer nourishes your authentic soul expression, you are cheating on yourself. When you enter into a relationship even though your intuition tells you something isn’t right, you are cheating on yourself. When you don’t honor yourself, you also cheat your partner from having all of you, as well as the opportunity to find the fullness of love that might be available for them too. When you truly trust yourself then you make choices that reflect this. You choose people that are trustworthy and able to honor you.
Start by being really honest about what you deeply want in a relationship. Then find the right person to create the commitment that most honors your unique expression as a human being on this planet. You can’t prevent yourself or your partner from having an attraction to someone else. Attraction is a natural part of life. It will happen. Energy is just energy. If you suppress that natural flow of attraction, what will often happen is that you will end up disconnecting from a part of yourself, which will in turn affect the flow of chemistry between you and your partner.
Now, how you manage that attraction to another person is what requires real integrity. Rather than simply acting out your attraction and cheating on your partner, it is important to acknowledge the feeling of attraction up front. Then you can communicate what you feel with your partner, if it’s something more than just a fleeting feeling. Before you act on your attraction with another partner whilst in a relationship with someone else ask yourself, “Is this the most loving action? What would love do? Does it really serve to have sex with this other person? Will it truly serve both me AND my partner?”.
Being spiritual is not about being perfect. No human being is perfect. Nor is it an excuse to cheat either. Being spiritual is a courageous commitment to truth, and living the deepest truth you are able to access in any given moment. As you evolve, this will grow and change as you do. Being spiritual is the willingness to take a deep look at yourself, to take responsibility and clean up whatever mistakes you might make. When you suppress your truth and compromise your heart, you betray yourself. This is the real pain.
When you communicate your authentic feelings you may find that just by allowing this non-judgmental space to share your desire, it dissolves. In communicating it can also open up the opportunity to deal with the deeper issues in the relationship. As a result facilitating deeper intimacy and healing. When you suppress and hide your feelings of attraction to others, often the energy can grow and act itself out in less than conscious ways, i.e. infidelity and secret affairs. When you cheat you dishonor yourself. When you cheat you dishonor your partner. When you cheat you dishonor love.
It’s not about right or wrong. It’s about integrity. It’s about honoring whatever agreements you made with each other. When you cheat you don’t give the other person an opportunity to choose. If you let them know how you feel up front, they at least have a choice whether to continue in relationship with you or not, rather than being there under false pretense. If you both agree to being monogamous and faithful to each other, then honor that commitment. But if it’s not your authentic truth and you are simply agreeing to what you think you should, then you are already being unfaithful to yourself and your partner.
If your agreement no longer feels true for you then honor yourself, honor your partner, honor your love by speaking the truth. Have the courage to renegotiate your commitment and find a new relationship format that allows for more love to be expressed between you both. Commit to love each moment of your relationship. Sometimes this will cause you to end a relationship. But other times it may mean you must commit more deeply to working on your relationship, even though it’s challenging. Just because you feel an attraction to someone other than your partner is not enough of a reason to act on it. Real freedom is not necessarily doing whatever you want, whenever you want, with whomever you want. This is simply to be a slave to your desires. Remember that desires are fleeting and often endless.
Real freedom is to be connected to your authentic self and making choices that are in alignment. Real freedom is a discipline of the heart. Real freedom is to sacrifice what is lesser for what is more. Real freedom is a commitment to love.
So commit to love.
Recently a woman from my MAN Breakthrough seminar asked me “Kute, would a spiritual man or woman ever be unfaithful in a relationship? And is it ever forgivable or is that a sign that perhaps the relationship is not the real deal ?” The essence of my response is below and in the video below.
If you a ready for big love, and to transform the hidden blocks that keep you from having the love you deserve. Join me at www.themanbreakthroughexperience.com October 18th-20th.
Even putting aside the moral and ethical arguments against prostitution, there are some sound concerns expressed over the practice. For one, we must take health and safety into consideration any time people will be coming into close contact with one another. And as a still largely underground industry (unlike the medical field, where bodies also come into close contact) there is very little precedent for regulation in prostitution.
What if governments decided to stop prosecuting prostitution and instead establish measures to ensure safety and fair-play? That is exactly what Switzerland, the small, beautiful, chocolate-rich country, has been doing since 1942 when it legalized prostitution. And now, in an effort to enforce safety regulations, the Swiss city of Zurich has instituted what are colloquially being called “sex boxes.” This is essentially a drive-in brothel where cars can enter a small park with sex workers lined up all around, and clients and prostitutes can negotiate with one another to determine an agreement. Once paired, they’ll enter small wooden garages to…conduct their business.
Though there won’t be surveillance, prostitutes will need permits in order to use the facilities and will have access to panic buttons and on-site social workers in case of emergency. There are also policies in place in the country to enforce health checks and screenings in order to reduce the risk of HIV and AIDs. And the “sex box” sites also offer showers, lockers, laundry, and other facilities. As reported by the National Post:
“We built the place to be secure for the sex workers. It also had to be discreet for the sex workers and the clientele,” said Michael Herzig of Zurich’s social welfare department. “But we thought if we build the place, we can also make it look good.”
Here’s a look at the facilities:
You might be surprised to learn that Switzerland isn’t alone in such policies. Eight European countries currently have legal and regulated prostitution, and countless others in Europe and around the globe have legalized but unregulated prostitution. Here’s a map outlining prostitution in Europe:
What do you think of Zurich’s “sex boxes”? Can you imagine a U.S. city instituting something along those lines? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!
Photo credit: AP Photo / John Heilprin
Photo credit: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images
Photo credit: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images
Map credit: Wikimedia Commons
Every now and then a story like this comes into the public arena. Burdened by college loans and living costs, a girl turns to porn (or escort services or being a dominatrix) just to stay above water. We feel sympathetic to these stories, bemoaning a troubled education system or the poor job market. But with social networking sites like MyGirlFund now littering every corner of the internet, and every fetish, fantasy, and “deviance” attainable at the click of a button, such techniques may become the way of the future. And that’s a scary reality.
MyGirlFund markets itself as a place for men and women to come together to “achieve their specific goals.” By that it means that women sign in to the site and set a fundraising goal they’d like to meet. Men sign in and can peruse the women, engage them in chat and video conversations, and contribute to their funds if they wish. The women will up the ante by posting nude or semi-nude photos and videos of themselves and set prices to certain “goods.” As an example, one woman posted: “$55 til goal… hit it for me and you get 6 vids.” Another posted: “All content $30!!” And there’s no mistaking what the “content” entails.
MyGirlFund is now reporting that many college girls are flocking to the site before matriculating, hoping to make some money for their college tuition. The site’s Director of Business Development, Stefan Patrick commented:
Members list their financial goals when they join and the new coeds are vocal about their tuition needs. One new member penned the memorable line, ‘When good girls can’t pay their tuition, anything can happen,’ on her profile, but overall these are young women who would never consider stripping, porn or public group cam shows.
Patrick argues that the women have total autonomy and that the site can actually be very empowering for them, allowing them to achieve their goals in a safe and private environment. Clearly this guy, and others involved with the website, can’t appreciate the deeply degrading and sexist system we live in that makes girls think their bodies can be assigned monetary value. But we’ve lived in this world with its rampant gender inequality long enough to know that men will pay for women to bare their bodies.
On that note, we’d like to know who these men are who get pleasure out of gawking at women in such a materialistic way. Perhaps it wouldn’t seem so offensive if the exhibitionism and voyeurism at least went both ways, but MyGirlFund organized the site in such a way that male and female roles are rigidly defined. Either way, we have to find healthier ways of paying tuition and making a living — not to mention connecting with other human beings in meaningful ways.
What do you think? Is this an acceptable way for girls to earn their college tuition, or is this as backwards, sexist, and disrespectful as it seems? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!
Last year I ended my last long term relationship. For a long while I was happy being single but lately I’ve been tempted to “get back on the field.” Recently, a man approached me while I was taking my dog for a walk. He was very complimentary, forward even and asked for my number. I’ve never been socially outgoing and get uncomfortable with that sort of unabashed attention, but I thought that maybe I need to be more flexible so I gave him my number. It also seemed easier to give it to him than to risk confrontation by saying no. Now he’s texting me about going out and I’m not sure about what to do. Is it just me being awkward that is causing my hesitance? Is it okay not to want to go out with him? How do I turn him down if that’s the case?
On the Edge
Dear On The Edge,
Today we are going to talk about two very important subjects – safety and consent. Your letter reminded me immediately of the Margaret Atwood story where she asked a male friend why men felt threatened of women he answered, “They are afraid women will laugh at them.” When she asked a group of women why they felt threatened by men, they answered, “We’re afraid of being killed.”
Unfortunately, we live in a world where women have to confront that fear on a regular basis. It feels to me that you giving this man your number had almost nothing to do with wanting to hear from him again but mostly what you felt would be the safest path to exit the situation. You’re right, you avoid confrontation in the moment, but what you’ve done is invite this person further into your life. Statistically, he was probably just a man on a walk who decided to hit on a woman he thought was pretty and means no harm. However, are we supposed to just live with the risk that maybe he does have menacing motives? No, we aren’t. If you are uncomfortable in the situation you have every right to deny him your number. You can just say no, or even “Sorry, I have a rule that I don’t hand out my number to strangers.” If he persists then you find any excuse to walk away.
If you take one thing away from this article please let it be this: No woman is obligated to give a man her number, no matter how complimentary they are to her. That’s your information, your space and your privacy. You only give it to people you feel comfortable with.
I read an article just yesterday about the phenomenon of “pick-up culture.” It circles around the controversy over a Reddit author trying to get his book – that blatantly encourages sexual assault – published through a Kickstarter campaign. The author’s blatant misogyny aside, it is disgusting when men think that the right combination of compliments or “lines” will lead to sex. It is horrifying when women also buy into it. It has nothing to do with social awkwardness or level of outgoing attitude – if you are uncomfortable with a man’s advances then they are inappropriate, end of story. If you feel safe enough to do so please tell him that he is being too forward or that you are uncomfortable. We can only expect to reverse the current mentality if we start to stand up and correct it ourselves. If you don’t feel safe walk away, keep your keys gripped in your hand just in case. I wouldn’t call you paranoid for having a small bottle of pepper spray on your key chain either.
It saddens me to have to respond to this in such a defensive manner. Not every man that approaches a woman or hits on her is a potential rapist or intending to do any harm. However, as women we have limited options in figuring out a suitor’s true intentions upfront. Your gut instinct is one of those few options. If your intuition is telling you that something doesn’t feel right, go with it. It’s better to be safe.
Don’t believe that because someone compliments you or hits on you that you owe them something. You aren’t going to find a worthy partner out of obligation or the idea that you’re supposed to like that kind of attention. It seems obvious to me that you don’t find that level of advancement to be flattering or charming. That doesn’t mean you’re awkward, sweetheart, it is a personal level of comfort that every person is entitled to.
That being said you have a couple of options to end the situation (because I gather that’s what you actually want.) You can simply not respond to the texts – though I fear that might bring unwanted conversations should you run into this man again. So I suggest texting a simple reply, “It was nice to meet you, but I’m not interested in something romantic right now,” and let that be it. You don’t have to explain yourself more than that.
And this might be my over-protective father upbringing speaking, but look into that key chain pepper spray.
Sexuality tends to get a bad rep in spiritual practices, and vice versa. But are they all that different after all? In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra explores the connection these two energies share.
Sexual energy manifests itself as charm, attraction, love, infatuation, and intimacy. It is the merging of consciousness and the emergence of new life. Spiritual energy, the energy that comes from pure consciousness, is the creative energy of the universe. Without that energy we would not be alive and nothing would have life in it as life is the vitality of pure consciousness. But sexual energy is also the creative energy of the universe, and we would not survive without it. Therefore sexual energy and spiritual energy are the same.
Many wise traditions considers the peak moment of sexual energy the death of the ego. When somebody experiences intimacy and reaches orgasm, we feel vulnerable, intimate, we are defenseless, spontaneous, joyful, carefree and there is a sense of timelessness. These are the characteristics and true nature of our spirit. Living your life with this level of intimacy would allow to emerge the evolutionary impulse, the creative energy of the universe, which is your spirit.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below!
You may know the magazine Cosmopolitan as a titillating and dare-we-say trashy indulgence – a women’s magazine dedicating to sex, beauty, and celebrity fashion. Because that’s all women care about, right? Regardless of how enthusiastic or critical you may feel for the publication, there are some aspects of its history that might surprise you:
1. It was first published in 1886.
2. It began as a family magazine, with articles on household concerns, childcare, and recipes.
3. After some time it transitioned into more of a literary magazine, publishing works by writers like Upton Sinclair, Kurt Vonnegut, Willa Cather, and H. G. Wells.
4. In the 1960’s, Helen Gurley Brown took over as editor and began running covers and articles that reflected the sexual liberation movement of the time.
5. Cosmopolitan is published in over 30 languages and is distributed in more than 100 countries, which (perhaps surprisingly) includes places like Armenia, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Taiwan, Mongolia, Latvia, Turkey, Serbia, Colombia, India, and more.
To feature some of Cosmo‘s diverse influences and past lives, one clever Tumblr user created the mash-up Cosmarxpolitan (in reference to the philosopher and cultural theorist, Karl Marx.) These fake magazine covers display famous philosophers’ faces superimposed on studly male bodies, with article titles like, “Sex Tips so divine, he’ll call you the opiate of his masses,” “The Asiatic mode of production and your butt,” and “How to Smash Capitalism (while you work out!)”
These intelligent, light-hearted mash-ups are meant to be humorous, but they also call into question the ways in which we consume popular culture. Is sex all that sells? Without disrespecting the sexual revolution and all that our society gained as a result, what if Cosmo reunited with its literary past and gave their audience something to think about beyond the next orgasm? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
Images via Tumblr