The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Brooklyn's Finest (2010)


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"If a relationship with a good man is what you're looking for, you can forget about it happening if you have sex with him before he's in love with you. Waiting 90 days isn't the answer...keeping your legs closed is the answer." ~ Dedan Tolbert

One of my students over on the 101 Forum posted this. And I have to admit that the attitude has my sympathies. Sex without love is great fun. Add love and it is magical. I can't remember the quote (anyone out there?) but Shakespeare writes about how men will say anything, promise anything , do anything to get laid, but then will lose interest immediately afterwards. While that isn't strictly true, I have to admit that if I had to give a piece of advice on this subject, I would indeed suggest that the woman in question, if she wants a long-term relationship, wait until the bonds of love, or real affection, are formed before tumbling into bed. Sex plus love seems to open some fascinating perceptual doors--you can begin to sense the possibility of a future together. When sex, love, and common sense all combine and say "yes" there is a wonderful chance of something worth sustaining. Note that Napoleon Hill suggested that the combined emotions of "Faith, Love, and Sex" combine to produce genius.

Now, again, I don't want to imply that sex by itself can't be hellacious fun. But both my wife and I reached a point in our dating lives where we committed to avoiding casual sex, until a deeper connection could be found. The result was a massive explosion when we finally met. Well, actually "finally" is the wrong word. The truth is that I made the decision one night, and met Tananarive the next morning. So...would this apply equally to men? Probably not quite. But enough to make channeling your sexual energy an important consideration. I wouldn't anchor guilt, shame and sin to the concept, but there is something valuable here. What do you guys think?

##

"Brooklyn's Finest"

This cop drama by Antoine Fuqua, is a very 70's style gritty cop drama about three officers (Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, and Ethan Hawke) reaching very different turning points in their lives. Gere is about to retire. Cheadle has been undercover so long he is losing his sense of identity, especially when gangster Wesley Snipes (in a terrific return to the big screen) returns to take his gang over. Hawke is desperate to move his pregnant wife out of the mold-infested house, and is eyeing drug money in a very unhealthy way. It all plays out fairly predictably, but the performances are excellent and the direction strong. Overall, I'd give it a "B"

WARNING: SPOILERS AND SAMBO ALERT

A "B" unless you're black. In which case I'd give it a "D-." Every single black man is a criminal. Most of them die. The only black woman character is a hooker...who has sex with Richard Gere. Oh...there is a brief image of a black man with the same hooker, but we never even know his name. Gere rescues several white women who are sex slaves to evil black men. Director Fuqua is black, and the only good thing I have to say is that I appreciate him bringing Wesley back in from direct-to-video hell...which happened because David Goyer reneged on a promise to let Blade have a love interest, leading to some serious unpleasantness on the set of Blade III. One of those "you'll never work in this town again" situations.

I really, really, hate this shit.

27 comments:

etc @ www.fierceandnerdy.com said...

I really hate when men advise women to "keep their legs closed" like it hasn't been said before and like there's some woman on the face of this earth who hasn't heard this advice like a thousand times already. It's not revolutionary and I would argue that it's not needed. There's already a ton of slut-shaming out there. Do women really need to be told by supposedly well-meaning men that they shouldn't have sex too soon? Here's an idea, why don't these well-meaning guys tell EACH OTHER not to have sex too soon? I mean I know a ton of male sluts. Why aren't we telling them over and over again to keep it in their pants like their children as opposed to grown adults?

Everyone's in charge of their own sexuality. I'd advise everyone to have sex when they feel comfortable doing so and leave it at that. If you sleep with a lot of people, you can still get married and find true love. If you don't sleep with a lot of people, you can still get married and find true love. Love isn't reserved for people who eschew casual sex.

"Good girls" aren't the only ones who deserve love. And I become highly suspicious when people try to shame women into good girl practices that might not mesh with their natural sex drives.

What I worry about is BOTH men and women who have sex BEFORE they feel comfortable doing so. Outside those circumstances, I wish this meme would just die already. Seriously.

Shady_Grady said...

I didn't read any "slut-shaming" into what Steve wrote.

etc @ www.fierceandnerdy.com said...

I didn't either. I was talking about Tolbert and other guys like him who insinuate that the reason women can't find a good man is b/c they sleep with guys too soon.

In fact, I respect that Steve and his then-future wife were both in the same place with their stance on a casual sex. That seems much healthier and way more reasonable than proposing that all women should wait 90 days to have sex w/o suggesting that men do the same.

Shady_Grady said...

@etc

Do you think it might make sense to posit that all else equal men and women have different approaches to/investments in "casual sex" and that women need to keep that in mind if they are looking for marriage/LTR? I think that's all the Tolbert blurb was saying.

etc @ www.fierceandnerdy.com said...

@Shady

I actually don't think that's fair to say. It assumes that women take casual sex more seriously than men, which is not necessarily the case. Also, the advice is given to women, but not to men. Why?

It also assumes that women need this advice, which I would argue they don't. I know very few women over the age of 25 who hasn't already heard some incarnation of this ad nauseum. I wonder why men especially feel compelled to give it over and over again. And it feels like the equivalent of saying, "The reason you don't have a man is because you're being true to yourself and sleeping with them too soon." I don't think that's true.

Sex catches a lot of blame for simple truths that people have trouble accepting, I think. The fact is that all but one or two of the people you sleep with will not work out in the long run. It's not your fault, it's not his. That's the way dating works. Why can't we just say that as opposed to telling women over and over again that their perfectly reasonable approaches to dating are wrong?

Also, if you sleep with a guy and you think it's a love connection, but he doesn't call you back. GREAT! He ruled himself out and early in the game, too. Move on. No need to feel ashamed or like you did something wrong.

Just once, I would like to hear someone say to women, "Hey, sleep with a bunch of guys until you find someone you like" which is exactly what many men do -- and hey it works for them.

Mike Ralls said...

>Also, the advice is given to women, but not to men. Why?<

Human males are ale to abandon every single one of their unborn children while those children are gestating and their genetic legacy can still be transmitted to future generations (even if the odds of that transmission are less compared to if they had stayed around). Women lack the ability to abandon all of their unborn children in the gestation phase in such a way that their genetic legacy can be passed on to future generations. Human societies have evolved around this basic fact, and double standards have arisen because of this. That is ultimately why the advice is given to women more often then men.

etc @ www.fierceandnerdy.com said...

I would argue that this is no longer the case. If a man gets a woman pregnant it can have SEVERE financial and emotional repercussions these days. When I was a single starving artist, I lived in a cheap studio apartment building filled with men twice my age who had children. There were a lot of divorced guys there, too. I loved my $750 apartment, but it was little more than a room and a kitchen, and I would not have wanted to live there past the age of 40. I plan to advise BOTH my daughter and possible son to "keep their legs closed" if they don't have protection on hand. I don't see why we would want either or sons or daughters to suffer unwanted pregnancies.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

I'd describe the risks of sex differently from Tolbert. It's not that you can forget about a long term relationship ever happening if you sleep with the guy before he's in love with you. Men can and do fall in love with women they sleep with, and I have at least one male friend who married a woman who had sex with him on the first date.

Rather, it's that, if you, male or female, have sex with lots of people quickly and carelessly, two things are true: 1) If you're looking for a long term relationship, you have no reason to be confident the other person is, so you'll go through a bunch of people who never had any intention of forming any kind of lasting relationship with you, and 2) If you're looking for a casual fling, you have no reason to be confident, just because other people sleep with you quickly, that their intentions were equally casual, so you'll break a bunch of hearts as you go.

Now, even if you've both known each other for months and told each other a zillion times that you love each other, before you actually have sex, there's still the possibility that your lover will be out the door soon after you sleep together. But the less you check a person out before sleeping together, and the less the two of you have communicated about what you want, the less you know. (I'm leaving out of consideration the case where neither of you wants a long term relationship and you both made that explicitly clear, because however well or badly that works, the Tolbert quote is qualified such that it doesn't seem to apply to that situation.)

Shady_Grady said...

@Mike
100% accurate and dead on..

@Lynn
I liked your description about the risks to both parties of too quick casual sex. That is something that should be repeated.

@etc
If a particular individual woman finds that taking a more "stereotypically male" approach to sex works for her, then more power to her. =) Men often like that sort of thing-for short term reasons.

However judging by what many women say, they are not as satisfied as men may be with short term hookups.

It's generally not men who bemoan the lack of marriageable mates or worry that a partner is just using them for sex or refuses to commit.

Another reason for the "double standard" is also rooted in biology. A man can't bring another woman's child home and pass it off as his wife's. But an adulterous wife could trick a husband into believing a child is biologically his, when it's not.

So a man would have extra incentive not to quickly commit to a woman that might be "promiscuous". Make a error in judgment and he might be prevented from passing his genes to the next generation. Different biologies-different mating strategies-neither one is "right" or "wrong", just complementary.

Mike Ralls said...

>I would argue that this is no longer the case. <

Regardless of if that is or is not no longer the case it's important to remember that human genes are sending the same signals to us that they sent to Og the caveman. Genes have no idea what the modern situation is. None. Our biological impulses are designed to maximize the spreading of genes in a hunter-gather society, not a post-industrial one.

>If a man gets a woman pregnant it can have SEVERE financial and emotional repercussions these days<

CAN is the key word. Probability is what is important, and in pure statistical terms; 84% of single parent households are headed by mothers which strongly indicates that the burdens of parenthood fall disproportionately on females in comparison to males. (http://social.jrank.org/pages/581/Single-Parent-Families-Single-Fathers-Compared-Single-Mothers.html)

>There were a lot of divorced guys there, too<

Following divorce, the average woman's standard of living falls by 27 percent while the man's living standard INCREASES 10 percent. (http://health.discovery.com/centers/loverelationships/articles/divorce.html)

Anonymous said...

"I can't remember the quote (anyone out there?) but Shakespeare writes about how men will say anything, promise anything , do anything to get laid, but then will lose interest immediately afterwards."

That never made sense to me. Doesn't dumping his girlfriend after the first time they have sex together and starting all over again trying to find another woman, instead of staying with her after the first time they have sex together, *postpone* the next time a man can have sex with a willing female partner? It's as if they turn temporarily frigid after their 1st times with new partners.

"Every single black man is a criminal. Most of them die. The only black woman character is a hooker...who has sex with Richard Gere. Oh...there is a brief image of a black man with the same hooker, but we never even know his name. Gere rescues several white women who are sex slaves to evil black men."

Bleah and boring! Not cool, even if you're not black.

"What I worry about is BOTH men and women who have sex BEFORE they feel comfortable doing so. Outside those circumstances, I wish this meme would just die already. Seriously."

Good points!

"Rather, it's that, if you, male or female, have sex with lots of people quickly and carelessly, two things are true: 1) If you're looking for a long term relationship, you have no reason to be confident the other person is, so you'll go through a bunch of people who never had any intention of forming any kind of lasting relationship with you, and 2) If you're looking for a casual fling, you have no reason to be confident, just because other people sleep with you quickly, that their intentions were equally casual, so you'll break a bunch of hearts as you go."

Yeah, that adds up well.

"So a man would have extra incentive not to quickly commit to a woman that might be "promiscuous". Make a error in judgment and he might be prevented from passing his genes to the next generation."

That applies if he *wants* to pass on his genes to the next generation. Some guys prefer not to, would rather avoid the extra financial risks of fatherhood, etc. I've even heard of a few guys out there leaving their wives for other women because of the effects pregnancies had on their wives' bodies.

Tim N said...

Probably says it more than once, but here's one:

By Gis and by Saint Charity
Alack,, and fie for shame!
Young men will do 't, if they come to 't;
By cock, they are to blame.
Quoth she, 'Before you tumbled me,
You promised me to wed.'
'So would I ha' done, by yonder sun,
An thou hadst not come to my bed.'

(Ophelia -- Hamlet, act iv, scene v.)

Shady_Grady said...

"That applies if he *wants* to pass on his genes to the next generation. Some guys prefer not to, would rather avoid the extra financial risks of fatherhood, etc. I've even heard of a few guys out there leaving their wives for other women because of the effects pregnancies had on their wives' bodies."

Eh?
An interest in spousal fidelity generally applies regardless of a man's desire for children.

If a man wants kids he might be rather upset/hurt/disappointed if he discovers children he thought were his aren't. If he didn't want children in the first place, I think he would be that much more enraged.

Steven Barnes said...

My observation: men marry women they can see raising their daughters. Like it or not, the rules are different, because the biology is different: men don't get pregnant. That has ALWAYS changed things. A couple of generations of social engineering doesn't change that. There is probably no culture on the planet where women are encouraged to be MORE sexually aggressive than men. What this means is that it is useful to know which "rules" one is bending, and which ones one is adhering too. If you aren't getting the results you want, default to the more traditional position (in general). I can understand why this advice would feel constricting to women, but there are rules for guys that are just as limiting. Maybe in a few more generations it won't be as powerful a meme, but for now, it is damned useful for someone to break the "rule" consciously as opposed to accidentally or for political point.

Steven Barnes said...

My observation: men marry women they can see raising their daughters. Like it or not, the rules are different, because the biology is different: men don't get pregnant. That has ALWAYS changed things. A couple of generations of social engineering doesn't change that. There is probably no culture on the planet where women are encouraged to be MORE sexually aggressive than men. What this means is that it is useful to know which "rules" one is bending, and which ones one is adhering too. If you aren't getting the results you want, default to the more traditional position (in general). I can understand why this advice would feel constricting to women, but there are rules for guys that are just as limiting. Maybe in a few more generations it won't be as powerful a meme, but for now, it is damned useful for someone to break the "rule" consciously as opposed to accidentally or for political point.

Steven Barnes said...

And oh...I've heard of mothers giving this advice to their daughters far more often than fathers.

etc @ www.fierceandnerdy.com said...

So much to say. I love all of these comments, btw, even the ones I don't agree with.

@Lynn, I would argue that if you like sex and are looking for a long-term relationship, then if a guy dumps you b/c you made a personal connection and had sex before 90 days, then you're well shot of him and can now move on to the next guy. If you're waiting 90 days b/c somebody told you it would prudent to do so as opposed to having no sexual desire for this person, then I'd say you're not in genuine connection w/ your sexuality and should explore that. Most women don't feel comfortable enough to sleep with a guy on a first date unless alcohol or abs no desire to see this fellow again is involved. My argument is that women should be encouraged to be attuned to their own sexuality and then sleep with the man or woman they are dating when they feel comfortable doing so. If he judges her for that, move on. It probably wouldn't have worked out anyway. The majority of pre-marriage relationships don't work out. 90 days is extreme to me. What are you going to find out in 90 days of no sex that you wouldn't find out in 30 days of no sex? What purpose does this serve? And more importantly, can any of these people that advise waiting point to any IRL statistics that back up their points?

@Mike I think that statistic is going to get worse. Wait for it! If we don't started teaching men to take responsibility for sex AS WELL as women, it will be detrimental to both society and children. It's also a simple step that parents can take that would make a world of difference. Again, I know how society has traditionally been, but why not give this advice to men?

@Shady Again, I would want statistics to back these points up. Until then, we can only argue personal experience. Here's what I know from my experience: every feminist and "promiscuous" woman I know from my younger days is married if she wants to be. I seriously can't think of anyone I know that fits this bill and is not married. There's a lot going around about what will disqualify you for marriage. But imo if you stay true to yourself and put yourself out there and are aggressively yourself -- as opposed to who someone else tells you it is proper to be -- you will find someone who loves that about you. Authenticity trumps being the traditional ideal every single time. And I can't tell you how many of my single girlfriends who sleep with men after a perfectly reasonable time have said, "M/b I shouldn't sleep with him so soon" as opposed to "m/b I should get therapy" or "m/b I should work on self" or "m/b I should stop trying to fit into this one dating box." Having sex in a way that is connected to your own desire, in my experience, has never held women back.

@Tim Technically Hamlet would have married Ophelia if not for huge, life-changing circumstances. Shit happens. I might have settled down sooner if not dealing with the wild grief of my own mother passing. This is life. This does not mean that Ophelia shouldn't have slept with Hamlet. She was in love with him. "To thine own self be true" -- advice given to Ophelia's brother as opposed to Ophelia. It should have been given to both of them.

etc @ www.fierceandnerdy.com said...

@Steven Again, show me the statistics that men are really turning away women b/c they are "too promiscuous" as opposed to "not a match." I don't see this happening. And I know a ton of "good girls" who are single. What I'm asking you to do is question, I mean really question why this meme is so powerful and whether we should give it any credence. Survey the women that you know, the women you have slept with on first dates and not called back. Are they still single. And if so, is it really b/c they have sex too soon? Are there really married women who say, "Oh my God, I decided to stop having sex until [x] amount of time and it totally worked!" In other words, actually ask happily married women if this advice has worked for them as opposed to telling single women to adhere to it w/o any evidence whatsoever that it works.

Also, I've almost always been true to my sex drive and have never received this advice IRL. My mother didn't tell me this. My father did. My aunts didn't tell me this. My friends didn't tell me this. M/b I had an awesome family and awesome friends, who trusted me as a grown woman to find my own way down the dating path w/o all sorts of unhelpful advice about how I should restrict my sexuality or try to fit into a traditional mold of how a woman should be. But lo and behold, I was myself and I found someone I've dubbed to be "the best husband on the face of the earth." He denies it. But I think it's true. :)

I will encourage my own daughter to do the same.

My point is, just because this advice is given doesn't mean it's true. So much "conventional wisdom" has been debunked over the years. I seriously question the veracity of this advice.

I feel the same way when people tell women that they should learn how to cook if they want to snag a man. C'mon. Again, all my domestically-challenged friends: rocking the ring. The truth is doing your best and being your best -- no matter what kind of person you are is still the best way to find the one. And no I don't consider "not cooking" a detriment to being your best.

Think hard about what and (perhaps more importantly) who is serves to put restrictions on women's sexuality and to insinuate that they'll "get in trouble" if they follow the natural curve of their desires.

One more thing: Yeah there's no culture on the planet where women are encourage to be more sexually aggressive than men. That's fine. That's not what I'm arguing. I'm arguing that women should trust themselves and follow the pattern of their OWN sex drives, b/c they're adults and perfectly capable of deciding when to have sex ON THEIR OWN -- especially the women in the age group that Tolbert's advice is aimed at.

Note to commenters: I've had so much fun debating this topic with you guys and will read your follow-up comments if you care to answer. But I have a rough draft deadline to hit, so I'm restricting myself from commenting outside my own site for the next two weeks. So I won't be able to answer them as going back and forth on this is really lovely but such a time suck. Discipline, FTW!

Ethiopian_Infidel said...

"So a man would have extra incentive not to quickly commit to a woman that might be "promiscuous". Make a error in judgment and he might be prevented from passing his genes to the next generation."

In an age of widespread contraception and abortion, the risk that pairing with a sexually lively woman might cuckold her straight suitor is substantially diminished. While acknowledging the persistent impact of ancient mammalian breeding strategy on human sexuality, I hope that freedom and power bequeathed by the new reproductive technologies can erode the confining and destructive “Slut vs. Good Girl” BS and permit women to enjoy sex with as much abandon as men.

Shady_Grady said...

In an age of widespread contraception and abortion, the risk that pairing with a sexually lively woman might cuckold her straight suitor is substantially diminished. While acknowledging the persistent impact of ancient mammalian breeding strategy on human sexuality, I hope that freedom and power bequeathed by the new reproductive technologies can erode the confining and destructive “Slut vs. Good Girl” BS and permit women to enjoy sex with as much abandon as men.

Who's writing anything about women not enjoying sex as much or more than men? I think that's all to the good. My only point is that both men and women have an interest in the other party's fidelity-occasionally for different though complementary reasons.

I'm not sure that increased access to contraception or abortion has anything to do with the risks of cuckolding. In most states the law is pretty unambiguous-any child born to a married couple is the legal responsibility of that husband-no matter what might be discovered later concerning parentage. A woman doesn't face that particular result as a result of a man's cheating-she can't be forced to take care of someone else's child.

About 4 months back there was a NYT magazine article about married or formerly married men who had run afoul of this law through no fault of their own. In one case, an adulterous wife divorced her husband and married the biological father of her child. But the former husband STILL had to pay child support.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/22/magazine/22Paternity-t.html

And I'm unfamiliar with studies that measure the impact of abortion/contraception on female adultery/cuckolding. The only thing I could find on short notice was this:

A 2005 scientific review of international published studies of paternal discrepancy found a range in incidence from 0.8% to 30% (median 3.7%), suggesting that the widely quoted and unsubstantiated figure of 10% of non-paternal events is an overestimate. However, in situations where disputed parentage was the reason for the paternity testing, there were higher levels; an incidence of 17% to 33% (median of 26.9%). Most at risk were those born to younger parents, to unmarried couples and those of lower socio-economic status, or from certain cultural groups

http://jech.bmj.com/content/59/9/749.long

If a woman is cheating on her husband can she necessarily be trusted to use contraception or abortion? Maybe, maybe not. She is after all, cheating. Anyone-male or female that cheats on a spouse or loved one is not someone will do the "right" thing.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

@Steve: I don't really agree with "If you aren't getting the results you want, default to the more traditional position (in general)." I'd say, if you aren't getting the results you want, look at what other people are doing and what results they get. It might be that, comparing your results to those you see women getting who take a more traditional position, you like your results, with all their difficulties, better (that's how I feel, for instance, about being a woman working in the computer field). It might be that the people who are getting closest to the results you want aren't actually taking a more traditional position than you.

@etc: I'm not arguing for a 90 day rule; that's Tolbert's position, not mine. I'm saying, wait to have sex until you know about the other person the things you need to know. "you're well shot of him and can now move on to the next guy" can go harder after you've slept together than before, and it's worth thinking ahead of time about what things you really want to know about someone, or ask from someone, up front.

suzanne said...

a big A(wo)man!
to etc!

I personally have found
that having sex when I was comfortable with it
often upon the first meeting
in no way detracted from developing
a deeper intimacy

and having done marriage
twice and once for long long term
I have no interest in repeating the process

I am currently gleefully involved
with a Beloved who accepts and loves
the whole of me
not just my physical package

one should be wary of arguing from the shaky foundations of
evolutionary psychology
since it is a fiction
in some cases perhaps an accurate fiction
of "how things were"
but then again
also
perhaps not.
so those discussions
might well be arguing from
something that wasn't true
and isn't in
our genetic makeup

I first got those lectures
about keeping legs closed
at my father's knee

of course way back then
birth control wasn't what it became
and the desire to not get pregnant
foremost
as "mother" wasn't what I had planned
for my future
I was on the road to learning
how to look after my Self

eventually when I did make that decision
it was a conscious and deliberate
CHOICE.

and having passed the age of
active mothering
what I seek in the relationships
I have is the abilty
to grow and express my love
in my suzannish way

to view finding a Beloved
as a [Machiavellian] game plan
which must be strategized
along a specific assumptive axis
(Power/Beauty)
floats not
my boat

Anonymous said...

"So a man would have extra incentive not to quickly commit to a woman that might be "promiscuous". Make a error in judgment and he might be prevented from passing his genes to the next generation."

Isn't that jumping to the conclusion that promiscuity = infidelity?

IRL it's totally possible for someone to be promiscuous while never cheating on her or his partners. For example, never having a one-night stand with A while already in a relationship with B or anyone else. For another example, having sex with C 30 days after beginning to date C and 60 days after having broken up with D.

Shady_Grady said...


Isn't that jumping to the conclusion that promiscuity = infidelity?

IRL it's totally possible for someone to be promiscuous while never cheating on her or his partners. For example, never having a one-night stand with A while already in a relationship with B or anyone else. For another example, having sex with C 30 days after beginning to date C and 60 days after having broken up with D.


promiscuous:
characterized by or involving indiscriminate mingling or association, esp. having sexual relations with a number of partners on a casual basis.

Such a person, all else equal, doesn't sound like someone who would be the best marriage material. Either they will cheat on you during the marriage or they just won't stick around too long. Either way, I don't see why a man or a woman would want a spouse who fit that description. But to each their own..

Scott said...

"Every single black man is a criminal."

Don Cheadle, the *lead*, isn't; tut. Moral standard of the white guys - burned out alcoholic (Gere) and thief (Hawke) isn't particularly high, either.

"There is a brief image of a black man with the same hooker, but we never even know his name."

So does that count for your black guys having sex onscreen in big movies?

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