Don’t Hide Your Love Away: An Open Letter About Sex and Communication

This post is for men. Ladies, you’re free to read it, and hopefully you can help the guys learn a little about love and sex. Mostly, it’s for all those fools who think it’s better to withhold their feelings. It’s the 21st century. Men are allowed to have a more refined sense of awareness and expression when it comes to their feelings.

John Lennon was wrong. You don’t have to hide your love away. You can, but you’ll regret it. Sure, it may feel like people are laughing at you, and maybe they are. If they are, it’s because you expect to be immune to suffering, yet you bleed out every day by your own hand. Love is something to be experienced to its fullest. You simply can’t do that if you hide it. Men are taught to keep their feelings inside, never to be shared even with their most intimate lovers. Women are taught to be attracted to men who bury their feelings and never discuss them. I’ve met a lot of really feminine women who seek a sensitive, creative, affectionate man in theory, only to act on naive notions of caveman culture, to be beaten into submission and dragged off and raped. I have actually heard educated women say out loud “I wish he would just come over to my house and rape me. God, that would be so hot!” The first time I heard that, I was horrified.

Do we need an intervention? Show me on the Pikachu doll where the bad man touched you, honey.

Jokes aside, it’s much more complicated than that, and yet simple at the same time. Women are indoctrinated at a young age to compartmentalize their affections. Their fathers were busy building the family foundation, earning money so they could, in point of fact, bring home the bacon. That bacon was what the whole family ate every morning, and without it everyone would suffer. Fatherhood evolved as a form of automata. Mom’s job was to fend off disease, starvation, and boredom. Dad’s job was to keep Mom equipped with a constant supply of food, water, and shelter and defend against attacks from external influence. Mom is a nurturing provider, while Dad is a stoic sentinel. These roles are far more pervasive in modern society than we might want to admit.

With the advent of the first world came a more sensible egalitarian philosophy about the delegation of responsibilities in the household. Since Mom is now allowed to vote and earn money, the lines are blurred. The stay-at-home Dad phenomenon became a viable option when Mom’s skills in the workplace were potentially more lucrative than Dad’s skills. The hardest part happens when Mom and Dad both leave the house to exercise their skills to bring home dinner. Yet we still read in popular media all about how families struggle with gender equality in the natural order of things in the home. Men continue to have the attitude that women cook and clean. Women complain about being treated like live-in maids. Women continue to develop complex sexual fantasies involving the rugged and trustworthy milkman, even though milk hasn’t been delivered to anyone’s home in nearly 50yrs. Men continue to develop inherent mistrust of any other man who might wander within 20m of the house when they’re not home, as if their wives are helpless victims-to-be. That doesn’t sound like a healthy respectful atmosphere to me.

At the root of it all is the core behavior of withholding our feelings about love and sex. American culture is steeped in the doubt and self-loathing of sex as currency. We use competitive metaphors to describe how men “win” sex from women by rounding the bases on a baseball field. Teenage boys brag about “making it to third base” instead of talking about how much they respect the girl next door for her creativity and intelligence. In their minds, they are conning her into “giving it up,” as if she derives no pleasure from the experience. Imagine their confusion when she says frankly “I want to have sex with you now.” Some part buried deep in their caveman brain will think she’s deceiving them, that it can’t be so easy. Instead of having open honest communication resulting in mutual satisfaction, their defenses go up and they label her a lying bitch, thus destroying the moment that would otherwise have led rather quickly to the thing they both wanted in the first place.

Have we all regressed to being insecure children about this most fundamental aspect of humanity?

Communication doesn’t need to be the thing that destroys the mystery. I promise there’s plenty of mystery to go around. Communication is the hardest thing anyone can ever do. It requires mountains of patience, a willingness to be humble and honest, substantial self-worth on all sides, and the tools and training to build trust and chart a path to mutually beneficial outcomes. It all comes down to being confident in your own desires and having the courage to state them clearly.

You might be surprised how exciting it is to express that you’d like to lick something off your partner’s naked body and see them reach for the whipped cream and start slicing berries. The simple act of participation can be orders of magnitude more interesting than the hope of being overpowered. And with the right kind of open expression, you can ask to be roughly handled, bordering on abuse, taking you closer to the edge than you ever thought possible, all without ever losing the trust and safety with your partner. This is possible because of open discussion. In fact, conversation is what brings us all closer together, not just the mingling of slippery body parts. Just remember to agree on a safe word and always respect the safe word. Knowing where the line is and refusing to cross it will help strengthen your bond. When you’re near that line, remind your partner how much you love them. Actually, any time you think of your partner during the day, let them know. Over time, you’ll find those little moments add up to a deeper relationship.

Also remember this: vaginas are tough; testicles are the fragile parts. Think about that next time you call someone a pussy.

Concept Thieves and Copycats – Underhanded and Completely Legal

As VP of Engineering for a start-up company developing intellectual property software for real-time due diligence auditing, I learned quite a lot about IP law. I had many detailed discussions with the legal experts on our team about the rules and how they are broken. Through that experience, I developed a unique (and arguably dangerous) perspective. My science brain thrives on factual information. It helps me sort through on my own a lot of the little procedural questions most folks have. That saves the company money in those rare cases we need to seek legal counsel. I can cut to direct questions about scenarios and outcomes, bypassing a lot of the time folks normally spend having their lawyer explain some complicated shit to them. I’m not a lawyer and don’t want to be, but it’s nice to have an insider’s perspective. That is, until you find out someone has shamelessly copied your idea, taken it as their own, and attempted to compete with you directly, all after having been an employee some few months earlier. What’s worse – this is completely legal.

I am collaborative by nature. I am an active participant in the open source community. It was hard for me to take a job in IP because at the time I believed patents to be stifling more innovation than they inspire, and the notion of copyright was amusing. Protecting bunches of binary data seemed counter to the way of the 21st century. I still believe ideas can not be owned, but now I understand why specific things are protected in specific ways. Some ideas are held in strict confidence because they are so incendiary, so disruptive, that the mere mention of a few words together in public might spark a creative geyser in anyone within earshot. Those ideas are best protected by simply not sharing them in public. The upside to this is protection of your trade secret. The downside is you can’t build awareness for your new brand until you’ve already sunk some capital into it to have momentum, in the inevitable event that someone copies you. Let’s face it. Just about every great idea has been copied.

Instead of the trade secret route, my partner and I took the open approach, discussing the project publicly, even via Twitter. Months went by, and we quietly published our app as a public beta. We’ve had limited success, but there is a steadily growing trend of users and downloads, and we’re very pleased with the analytics we’ve collected. In fact, we’re very close to the official 1.0 launch. One day last week, as I was coordinating pre-release binary distributions for device testing, I saw an email from my partner, wherein I found a link to a website for this competing product. I looked just long enough to notice they have not yet launched and don’t appear to offer anything we aren’t offering. I knew it was inevitable. The space was ripe when we started. I am very confident in our ability to deliver a superior product to anything on the market. Then, my partner did a little digging.

As it turns out, the company promoting this new competing product is based in Sarasota, only an hour from our office in St Petersburg. At quick glance, I often ignore little details of things like websites, especially when I don’t normally care about things like bylines because I’m not writing a book report on yeti and I don’t need to contact the author or credit them. This was one of those cases. It took a few glances to notice that the byline in this case was amazingly the same name as a former employee of my partner. Must be coincidence, right? It couldn’t be. A quick search on Facebook reveals that this former employee had indeed recently changed their employment status to Lead Developer for the very company introducing a competing product. There was ample opportunity for this employee to hear detailed discussions about the product, including features and concept themes. Instead of expressing interest in participating in the development, this person chose to secretly take notes and use the opportunity to steal the concept.

I want to publicly shame this person by revealing their name. I really do, but I am better than that. Instead, I choose to take a different approach. Consider this a challenge.

Dear Copycats & Concept Thieves,

I brought something great to market through careful and deliberate consideration. I dare you to do better. I wake up every morning thankful for the opportunity to stand up and say,

“I built this company and others from nothing, without fear of rejection or potential competition. I don’t give a damn about what you do. If you want to go out and make something to compete with me, good luck to you. In fact, competition validates my investment. Know that all you do will only inspire me to work harder and smarter.”

I hope you brought your A game. You’re going to need it.