Trigger Warnings Are For Children

I’ve been reading a lot lately about trigger warnings. Students in classes getting upset because their professor didn’t warn them about something that was going to be discussed in class. And, frankly, some of it is just ridiculous. A painting or a drawing of a nude woman is not pornographic material. If this bothers you, perhaps you’re not mature enough to be taking college courses.

If you need to be shielded from things you see and hear in class that might make you feel uncomfortable, maybe this should apply to your everyday life too. So, no more social media, television, radio, cell phones, magazines, or books. You should probably refrain from going outside too. Become totally isolated. This way, you’re guaranteed not to see or hear anything that your overly sensitive little brain can’t handle. You won’t feel uncomfortable. Yes, I’m being facetious. You can call it mean or insensitive if you’d like. I really don’t care.

There are certain classes where you should expect to see and hear things of an adult nature. A woman’s studies class, a human sexuality class, a psychology class. College is not only meant to educate you, it is also meant to teach you critical thinking skills. From what I’ve seen and heard about what’s going on in the world today, you need to learn it in college because obviously your parents didn’t teach it to you.  In order to learn critical thinking, you need to talk about subjects that may be uncomfortable. Adult subjects.

Look, if you’re in college you’re of an adult age. I say “adult age” because I don’t believe that just because someone has had their eighteenth birthday they’re now an adult. Adulthood should be based on more than just your age. As someone of an adult age, it’s time you start behaving like an adult. Adulting requires that you learn to deal with your feelings and thoughts about the things that you see and hear in the world. How do you do this? You talk about it. And what better place to discuss these topics than in a classroom with other adults. Because, here’s the thing. What I think and feel about something may be different than what you think and feel which may be different than what others think and feel. You see what I’m getting at? If you have these deep conversations with an open mind, a mind that is willing to learn and respect others, you will learn critical thinking.  You’ll see things from someone else’s perspective. You’ll ask questions.

I took an English course about a year or so ago. My instructor was black, her words not mine, as was about half of the class. We read a short story about “white privilege”.  When she told us what it was about, I thought “What?! There’s no such thing. I have no idea what you’re talking about”. I’ll admit, I felt a little uncomfortable. However, after reading the story, I got it. I understood how someone of color could view the world in this way. Until then, I’d never thought of things that way. My perception, my view, of the world is based on what I’ve seen, heard, read, and lived. Yours is based on your life experiences. They’re not going to be the same.

My point is, it’s ok to be a little uncomfortable. If it wasn’t, people wouldn’t be encouraged to step outside their comfort zone. As an adult, if you see or hear something that makes you uncomfortable or offends you, and that’s a topic for another time, you should spark up a conversation. The world would be a better place if people just talked to each other and respected others perspectives.

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Sex is NOT the Problem

I’ve read numerous books on sex and relationships. I could give you the list if you’re interested. Some of them I’ve enjoyed immensely. Having been in a relationship for the past 26 years, I think I’m qualified to discuss those subjects with some degree of expertise even though I’m not an expert and I have no credentials.

I read this article by Susan Pease Gadoua; “Sex in Marriage Causing You Problems? You’re Not Alone!” There are as many reasons for not having sex as there are types of relationships; probably more. Here’s one.

“You feel neglected, ignored, dismissed, alone, frustrated, tempted, beaten down emotionally, you feel like roommates instead of spouses.”1

And then you hear the complaint about “withholding sex”. It’s not withholding sex. Why should a woman submit to having sex just because her husband wants it? I’m sorry, but if I feel like I’m being used just so you can get off I’m not going to be “in the mood”. I don’t know about you, but I need more than sex. I need kissing, intimacy, passion. I need to feel wanted; desired. If there is none of that, I don’t want to have sex. It’s not about withholding, it’s about feeling like you want sex and I just happen to be there. It’s not me you want. You just want someone.

We’ve all heard that the best relationships have open and honest communication. Couples need to discuss their desires and their need for intimacy. Intimacy means different things to different people. So, what happens when you try to have this discussion and it’s one sided? What happens when you tell your partner what you need to no avail? You become disappointed.

“So what people do to avoid admitting and feeling that level of disappointment is either become angry or shut down, both of which eviscerate intimacy in a relationship, cause burnout in a job, or cause depression in themselves.”2

I think Maslow got it wrong. According to his hierarchy, there are five stages of needs –

Biological and Physiological needs – air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep.

Safety needs – protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, freedom from fear.

Love and belongingness needs – friendship, intimacy, affection and love, – from work group, family, friends, romantic relationships.

Esteem needs – achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, self-respect, respect from others.

Self-Actualization needs – realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.3

Maybe it should be called Maslow’s hierarchy of male needs. I think it would look a little different for women. Or maybe it’s me personally. I think the order in which the needs are to be fulfilled is wrong. Or the items on the list are in the wrong group. What I’m trying to say is that intimacy, affection and love, romantic relationships, and respect should come before sex on the hierarchy of needs.

It seems like a hopeless cycle. At some point in the relationship, you start to feel these emotions (neglected, ignored, dismissed, frustrated, tempted, beaten down emotionally), so you quit having sex which leads to accusations of withholding sex. This leads to communication, preferably discussions about wants and needs as opposed to arguments, which sometimes goes nowhere and, once again, you feel ignored and dismissed which leads to frustration. Then you shutdown. Why? Your need for intimacy, for physical contact (hugging, kissing, sex) aren’t being met. You’re no longer communicating. You don’t want to feel the way you’re feeling. It’s no wonder so many women are on antidepressants.

Sex is not the problem. That’s just a symptom. Why you are no longer having sex? That’s where the problem is.

________________________

[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/contemplating-divorce/201512/sex-in-marriage-causing-you-problems-you-re-not-alone

[2] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/just-listen/201512/unexpressed-disappointment-the-great-intimacy-killer

[3] http://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html