Monthly Archives: October 2015

Open relationships post on How Do I Date

swinging people on ride black and white

I am blogging for How Do I Date and I love the comic they chose for this new blog on how to be open about being in an open relationship. Check it out at http://howdoidate.com/relationships/how-to-open-up-about-being-in-an-open-relationship/

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Filed under Blog, How Do I Date, open relationships

Hopes & Fears post asking if we are meant to be monogamous

serial dating mug shot

In this new post, Hopes&Fears asks experts like Stephanie Coontz, Dossie Easton, Christopher Ryan, and Elisabeth Sheff if they think human beings are meant to be monogamous.

http://www.hopesandfears.com/hopes/now/question/216753-are-humans-meant-to-be-monogamous

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Filed under interview, non-monogamy

Revenge of the Vegans

veggie heart

Turns out those veggie eaters have been right the whole time, according to new findings from the World Health Organization that found eating processed meats like bacon or sausage to be as carcinogenic as cigarettes and asbestos — scary stuff! Not only is meat-eating deadly for the environment and contributes more global climate change gases than all transportation sources combined, it is also deadly for people to eat super-processed meat products. Even unadulterated red meat might be more carcinogenic than we thought — not as bad as the processed meat foods, but not great.

If you are a meat eater like me, that is some bad news. Meat is not only yummy, but it adds a great firm texture to foods. As a texture person, this is important to me. Luckily, there are some great vegan options that can add both flavor and texture to food.

I know tofu has gotten a really bad reputation for being disgusting, but it can be absolutely fantastic when spiced and cooked correctly. I like to slice it to about a 1/2 thickness, spray lightly with olive oil, spice liberally with the spice family of the rest of the meal — usually Mexican, Italian, or Indian in my household — and cook in a panini press. That last bit about cooking it in a counter-top grill that both cooks and presses it at the same time turns out to give the tofu an excellent texture that is so hearty that it is unrecognizable as the mushy and tasteless white goo people usually think of when they consider tofu.

Lesser known than tofu, textured vegetable protein (TVP) has become my new favorite because of its versatile flavor and great texture. We just had nachos with TVP done like ground beef, and they were great! I cheated and put real cheese (instead of vegan cheese) on mine, and they were great. My wife is a vegan and ate hers with vegan cheese and she loved it too. Some people think TVP is not great, but it is definitely better than red meat so if you are trying to find something that works better for your own health and the global environment than ground beef, TVP is a choice worth considering.

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Filed under Environment, Health, Vegan, Vegetarian

Why use the term White Privilege?

white privilege card

One of my readers, Wortmanberbger, responded one of my previous blogs on White Fragility with the following :

Fine, but there is the danger of an ideologically distorting influence inherent in the phrase “white privilege”, which tends to frame these discussions. Whites are not privileged. Black people are oppressed, and white people are not, generally speaking, not to the same extent, not necessarily for the same reasons, although white people are also oppressed if they are poor or occupy an economically precarious position. This should not be forgotten and implicates the unwholesome influence of identity politics, which is beyond this comment. The terminology should be explicitly political: that of rights (the works: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness) being violated in the case of blacks, not privileges being had in the case of whites. This linguistic orientation is not mere semantics. “White privilege” subtly tends to suggest that the people at a higher social position should be brought down, instead of that the people at a lower social position should be raised up, taking their equality for granted. It is this aspect of the “discussion about race” that, I would argue, makes white people like me uncomfortable or not inclined to enter this constricting discourse frame.

Here is my response that evolved over time:

Hi Wortmanberger,

Thanks for your thoughtful response, and for giving me your permission to post it in a blog. I use it here because I think it is emblematic of the arguments against the concept of white privilege.

I use the term white privilege very intentionally — not for distorting influence, but to describe the truth of our social reality. You say that: ” Whites are not privileged. Black people are oppressed, and white people are not, generally speaking, not to the same extent, not necessarily for the same reasons, although white people are also oppressed if they are poor or occupy an economically precarious position.” Black folks and other people of color (POC) are oppressed by institutions in the US (and around the world), and that oppression boosts white people up. The two are intricately bound together — white people are advantaged economically, socially, and politically as a direct result of disadvantaging people of color.

Racism is different from personal disadvantage because it happens at both an individual and collective level. Everyone has some form of personal disadvantage, regardless of race, and some people have more personal disadvantages than others. Individual white people may have terribly difficult lives and some people (parents, siblings, friends, partners, or dates) may treat them horribly, but we white people are still the social default in institutions.

As an example, I am considered “too fat” by the larger culture (for what, they do not specify – wear a bikini I suppose), overweight certainly and possibly even obese depending on which measurement scale you use. The social stigma associated with my weight has been an impediment to me socially, romantically/sexually, and to my self-esteem. Pretty much anyone who is overweight in the US experiences some kind of stigma for their excess body fat at some point. My white privilege buffers me from some of the negative impacts of that stigma and discrimination, in a number of ways: 1) doctors provide me better quality care and take me more seriously as an educated white consumer, when I ask them questions they respond to me and do not generally talk down to me; 2) if a doctor is inappropriate with me about my weight – shaming instead of simply recommending (yet again) that I lose weight lest I give myself diabetes – then I can go to a different doctor and expect a different outcome, and I can keep looking for appropriate and sensitive care because I can assume that I am not being discriminated against because of my race; 3) if I am fat and “slovenly” or “lazy” or whatever other negative things people associate with fatness then it is just me, I do not have to bear the burden of being an example of how all of “my people” (the white people) are lazy, untrustworthy, fat, slovenly, or whatever – I am just me, not a stand-in for my whole race because white people are allowed individuality on a personal level; 4) if I decide I want to exercise more to lose weight then I am more likely to be able to live in an area where I can safely walk outside, and even run without fear of police harassment; and most importantly 5) because society is designed for my comfort and I do not feel under constant attack for my race, my stress level is lower than it usually is for people of color, which means my body produces less cortisol, and I am healthier even if I am rounder. So while I am disadvantaged by fatness, a person of color is disadvantaged by institutionalized racism and fatness – my white privilege buffers me from the impacts of institutional discrimination that make the personal negative outcomes so much worse.

In the United States, we must talk about and name white privilege because it is a systematic and race-based system of favoritism: Structural advantages built in to the system have helped white people and we often don’t even know it. Being excluded from these privileges makes life much more difficult for POC. This has given white people enhanced life chances and better job opportunities, and myriad daily comforts such as the relative freedom from surveillance by security or differential treatment by police. Whites don’t notice our privileges, so it is easier to both take credit for our own successes and be oblivious to the impact of racism on others.

Today white privilege expresses in residential segregation, vast wealth disparities, educational segregation, higher levels of unemployment among people of color, and significant racially based disparities in infant and maternal mortality, life expectancy, quality of health care, and simply the stress of dealing with racism and micro-aggressions all the time, which leads to higher rates of heart disease and stress-related illnesses (and contributes to lower life expectancy).

In another blog soon, I will talk about what white people can do to face white privilege and how we can be better allies to people of color.

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Filed under Race and Ethnicity, White Privilege

Poly in the Cities interview with Elisabeth Sheff

Polycule-Front-Cover-FINAL3

My new interview with Poly in the Cities podcast talks about my new book, Stories from the Polycule, and other things too.

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Purple Prose: Bisexuality in Britain

Those funky Brits are at it again, talking about the smart and interesting parts of sex in all their varied forms. This time Kate Harrad heads up an all star team of editors extraordinaire to create a guide to bisexuality in the UK. Please check out their Indiegogo campaign page with tons of interesting information, and consider contributing while you are there.

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How Do I Date Expert Column

dog in glasses at computer

The website How Do I Date has invited me to blog for them as well. You can check out my profile at http://howdoidate.com/team/elisabeth-a-sheff-ph-d/

They have lots of great experts giving a wide range of advice, so check out How Do I Date today.

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Filed under Blog, love, marriage, relationships, sex, sexuality