The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

New Coffee Shop Opens and The Q's Guide To Gentlemanly Behaviour

Since this is ostensibly a blog about the neighborhood, just let me note that a cute little coffee shop and kids clothes store opened on the west side of Flatbush between Parkside and Beekman, 696 to be exact. Called "Loud Baby." Love it! And a restaurant is going to move into 626 Flatbush's other retail space - that should put a lot of rumors to rest, though still not sure what sort of place. Methinks bourgie to go with the tower, but methinks wrong sometimes. Speaking of...

It has come to the Q's attention of late that many male titans of arts, politics & industry regularly read The Q at Parkside (too many to list, I'm afraid. too too many...) It has also come to the Q's attention that many of these powerful men (and they are nearly all men, let's admit) have allowed their God-given sexual appetites to cloud their moral vision. Any man of sound mind should understand the difference between consent and non-consent, and yet these very "sane" men often claim that they were engaging in consensual behaviour - over years and years and dozens of occasions -- only to find that "whoops," they're knee-deep in legal and professional scandal. My guess is that most of them loosened their definitions of consent over time to meet their fetishes and, receiving no push-back from their colleagues, media or law enforcement, came to the jaundiced conclusion that their behaviour was well within the limits of reasonable, though naughty, behavior. They were just being bold, taking the bull by the horns (so to speak), behaving with rough masculinity, or maybe they even managed to convince themselves that this was all well within the realm of kinky but normal sexual behavior.

So for those of you - ye great men of overflowing passions and enviable success - if you seem befuddled by the outcry, I would like to offer some advice from the heart. The Q is no Lothario or great lady's man, or even a particularly adept suitor. He has, however, mostly handled his personal and carnal affairs with a degree of dignity, and so I offer these few "Q" tips for your edification.

Business is Business: When conducting business, even informal or "after-hours" business, do not attempt to negotiate matters of the flesh. That is to stay - keep your jimmy in its cage. Don't refer to it. Don't engage it. In fact, don't press your luck by going in for anything more than a handshake where warranted. You are in a place of work, even when that place LOOKS like a place of play. If there is a current, past or potential business relationship involved, always err on the professional, the dignified, the gentlemanly.

Why? It is illegal, unseemly and abusive to use your professional standing to push your advantage sexually. That's it! Simple. Doesn't matter if you're a Senator or Manager of a Burger King. No sex, or even flirtation. If the woman is interested in pursuing something she will do so, and you will not miss the signs. Promise.

Done? Hardly.

Sex, if you hadn't noticed by your own predilections and histories, is a barely understood and somewhat distant bi-product of reproduction. At best. What turns you on is no one's businesses and anybody's guess, unless you come out and say it (or in frightfully many cases, SHOW it without so much as a warning.) But even the most taboo fetishes are difficult to contain, particularly for men I think. Some are relatively banal - guys who are turned on by this part of the anatomy or another, or tall or short or dark-skinned or platinum blondes or legs or fingers or, I dunno, nostrils. Then there are the somewhat socially acceptable fetishes - positions, activities, orientation, role playing. It gets kinkier of course, but even those things (so I hear) become erotic and playful within consenting situations. Some of them might even LOOK like illegal or inappropriate behavior. But again, the consenting adults have made plans and safe words and maybe even a list of do's and don'ts. Fair enough. Rules within rules.

All of that requires enormously clear communication and trust. And while many of us engage in or say we're fine with "casual" sex, particularly when participants are single, the words "casual" and "clear communication" don't really line up. What's the result? Lots of unwanted "hookups" and awkward, perhaps even demeaning experiences to relay down the road to friends, therapists or fellow inmates. Why, women might ask, would it be so hard for men to remain dignified in the sexual realm, to know how to keep their libidos in check, to recognize the signals accurately and to proceed only when given the clear green light? Ever seen a guy go uber-ape when he IS given the green light? There's your answer. The floodgates unleashed, watch out downstream. Same for women of course. Once the gloves are off, it's a fool's bet to figure what's to come of it.

Not for a minute would I excuse ungentlemenly behavior, in any way shape or form. But I have two young daughters, and I'm not going to leave them in the dark. Men want sex. They are clever animals, but animals nonetheless, with not a particularly noble ancestry. And they have but one primary biological imperative. To say that we have somehow moved beyond that basic animal fact is ludicrous. Try telling a horny teenager to better manage his hormones. Not bloody likely.

If we've decided (or perhaps I should say if we decide FOR REAL) that we want our boys to grow up understanding what's happening to them, sexually, when biology and maybe their buddies are telling them one thing but morality says another...we're going to have to do a hell of a lot better job explaining something that for many of us adults is barely comprehensible. The blind leading the blind; or the libidinally confused leading the pubescently challenged.

Are you, my male reader, fully in charge of your sex drive? If you do you must have an extra special chromosome that I've yet to encounter in the real world. Perhaps you've found a good mitigant - religion or some spiritual practice, some tonic or potion, maybe anti-depressants. Maybe you've been castrated (nothing wrong with that of course!) Or perhaps you've got one of those socially taboo fetishes that have forced you to push it all down, way way down, like so many Catholic priests have done to the detriment of legions of young boys (and girls) again and again and again and again. On some level, I can't believe this conversation hasn't been decided. There are temptations that will leave even the best-intentioned man to wander far from his supposed morals. Unchecked, by power or station, we have Mr. Hydes to contend with.

Biology does NOT favor women in the species when it comes to sexual coercion. Size, patriarchy, testosterone and physical strength conspire, as does the tendency for men to band together with like-minded brothers to reinforce the worst in behaviors. There is no progress without an open dialogue in the home, with boys, with colleagues, about the true power of the sex drive, and like absolute power, its ability to corrupt absolutely.

There are those who will say that these high-profile cases from C.K. to Harvey to Cosby to Trump to Roy "Dick" Moore are about power, not sex. And I will take heat for what I'm about to say next I'm sure. I will say they are about sex first - but that the men are using their power to get the sex. That is, they do what all men do at every station in life. They use whatever tools they have available to convince a woman to have sex with them. Good looks, nice bod, hot car, good sense of humor, good father instincts, good timing, liquor...yes, yes any man who tells the truth will tell you he uses whatever advantage he can find to attract a mate (and I do mean mate in the most carnal sense, as well as the more Victorian rituals of pair-bonding). OF COURSE there are also other aspects of mating that are special and outsized in our species - including love and friendship and a desire for lifelong mating and shared child-rearing. But when sex happens, it happens with a spark that's absolutely insane, counterintuitive, bizarre, and many times far beyond our control. I really don't think we can control the fantasy or the urge, any more than we can control our first thoughts on just a bout anything. We can only seek to choose the right action. But to deny that the urges are there only makes matters worse.

Take Bill Cosby, for example. One of things most people thought and said when they found out that he had essentially been a roofy rapist for years was...gee whiz, the guy is rich and famous and funny. He could have any girl he wants! Really? Well, what if the sex he wants must allow him to drug his partner and have his way with her? How many women might be turned off by that fact? Sure he could have, and probably DID have sex with lots of ladies consensually. But that's not what consumed him (of course I don't know this for a fact; this is conjecture). What drove him crazy to the point of acting out was immoral and illegal, and unlike homesexuality (which was and in some places IS both of those things) I don't see society deciding that roofie rape is suddenly hunky dory. There are probably tens of thousands of Bill Cosby's out there. To think otherwise is foolish. He had the enablers and resources to get away with it for longer than most. But I doubt his predatory predilection is that much different than the average necrophiliac, the pedophile, the person with desire for beasts or family members or any other horrendous sexual deviation that seems to happen in hundreds of thousands or who knows how many people worldwide. You can't lock them all up for their thoughts. You have to figure out how to prevent the acting-out in the first place.

How do we change a culture that encourages, or at least doesn't DIScourage, coercive sex? I don't know to be honest. But it will involve vigilant reporting and authority figures empowered to do something, to SAY something, whenever and however it happens. Men must stand up against other men. Much as I've argued here previously, Trump is WHITE AMERICA'S PROBLEM. He is a symptom of a deep sickness in a fearful and manipulated electorate. 60% of whites voted for the guy. That is ASTONISHING. Take that home to Thanksgiving, and remember to go easy. Screaming at the Trump voting relative is not going to change minds. Appeal to their hearts, to their sense of decency and patriotism. And if that doesn't work, kick them hard and fast in the groin.

It will require all women to recognize they cannot allow a man to get away with the behavior, since not doing so is just kicking it down the hall to the next victim. Women AND men can venerate the truth tellers and castigate the belittlers.

But we also have to tell our boys that they're not sick or immoral for having the fantasies or urges to control women or worse. We have to differentiate between fantasty and reality, and build empathy for those who are vulnerable as an opportunity to own our dignity as modern men, men capable of knowing the difference between right and wrong and then acting accordingly. 

Men: cop to your own darkest fears and fantasies about sex. Then relay your strategies for dealing with them. Your son is not weird for his fetishes. But his dignity, and ours, is in danger if he behaves badly to women. It's really that important, and our daughters deserve it.

Every victim deserves our attention. Every son is a potential sexual assaulter. Let's see that it's not ours, because ours is ALL of ours.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is this new restaurant? I'd love some details.

Anonymous said...

You were going along okay till you lost your mind sputtered: Men must stand up against other men. Much as I've argued here previously, Trump is WHITE AMERICA'S PROBLEM. He is a symptom of a deep sickness in a fearful and manipulated electorate. 60% of whites voted for the guy. That is ASTONISHING. Take that home to Thanksgiving, and remember to go easy. Screaming at the Trump voting relative is not going to change minds. Appeal to their hearts, to their sense of decency and patriotism. And if that doesn't work, kick them hard and fast in the groin.

The Kennedys, all of them, Clinton, even FDR. The lion's share of Hollywood. Hilarious. And then there's that part about Trump as white America's problem, which means you believe the problem of sexual misconduct in black America deserves its own special place, because -- it's worse. But you want to separate the two groups the way anti-gun people separate, which is to focus on the one small segment of gun violence where whites are over-represented.