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Does a Podcast Have to be About Sex to be Feminist?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Salon’s resident feminist Jenny Kutner chronicled her top 7 feminist podcasts that are “way sexier than Serial“. A spin-off of This American LifeSerial is a non-fiction podcast that harkens back to the golden era of radio, sourcing material from old headlines to generate serial tales of true life criminal investigations. It’s as remarkable as any other product of the entertainment industry in that it’s managed to put a slight twist on a tried and true endeavor. But feminist? Not particularly. And neither are Kutner’s alternatives.

Sexy, yes. Six out of the seven essentially discuss only sex. The seventh, Crybabies, is a podcast hosted by two women who get weepy. A lot. As in “let’s listen to this Adele song and cry”. It’s strange that a contemporary feminist would cite a crying female podcast as a feminist totem given all that angry bra-burning for which they’re supposedly famous. Isn’t crying contradictory to their anti-biology trend?

In any case, why does a podcast have to be about sex in order to be considered feminist? Are buzz words like “frank and funny” or “deep and interesting” enough to justify discussions about orgasms, phone sex and drag queens as being feminist? What’s the alternative for women looking to embrace their empowerment outside the bedroom?

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Getting Divorced in New York? Serve the Papers on Facebook

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

It may be the coldest possible way to do it. The ruling may nevertheless prove appropriate in some cases. From the Wall Street Journal:

Previously, if you couldn’t find a defendant, you had to leave the notice at a last-known address or publish it in a newspaper, and there was no guarantee the defendant would know about it…

In that context, getting served via Facebook may actually be an improvement. Besides, does the news really sting less served any other way?

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Woman Trades Baby Wishes for Open Marriage

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Robin Rinaldi wanted children more than anything. Instead of pursuing the journey of motherhood, she wound up experiencing what is being dubbed “feminist enlightenment” through sexual exploration, chronicled in her new book The Wild Oats Project:

When she was in her mid-30s and engaged to be married to a man several years older, Rinaldi, the author of a new book called “The Wild Oats Project,” entered premarital counseling with a quack named George. Rinaldi wanted kids, and her future husband did not.

…In fact, he had a vasectomy. And so Rinaldi decided that if she couldn’t have children, at least she should get to have a lot of sex with a lot of different men and women — and men and women together.

Yes, the logic escapes me, too — and I read the whole book. It seems to have something to do with the fact that both having children and having promiscuous sex are expressions of her “femininity.” Regardless, her husband apparently felt so guilty (or spineless) that he agreed to “open” their marriage for a year.

…Trying to suppress maternal desires in an effort to seem enlightened has the potential for disaster — as Rinaldi quickly learned.

Rinaldi’s conclusion: “I learned I didn’t need a man or a child in order to experience true womanhood.” Apparently she needed several men … and other women, for that matter. Which leads to the question, why did she “seethe” when she learned of friends’ pregnancies and dedicate her book to Ruby, the daughter she never had?

Is feminism still a movement focused on women’s equality, or has it become a narcissistic cult proffering temporal ego-satisfying sex in exchange for the eternal fulfillment of motherhood?

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Is Successful Feminism Capitalist Feminism?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Dame Stephanie “Steve” Shirley, while a wife and a mother of a special needs child, pioneered an all-female staffed software company in England in the 1960s. Fascinated by technology, she also had a head for business. Possessing an interest in employing working mothers, her staff were able to work from home in a variety of capacities, including as coders and programmers. A self-made millionaire, Shirley turned many of her employees into millionaires as well by opening stock options to them at a time when that was a relatively unheard of benefit. 

Adopting the nickname “Steve” in order to get her foot in the door with male clients, she employed “extraordinary energy, self-belief and determination” in a pre-second wave feminist era. Shirley didn’t wait for bras to be burned or Gloria Steinem to appear in her bunny suit before taking charge. In fact, the UK’s Sex Discrimination Act of 1975, a direct result of the second wave feminist backlash, required that Shirley hire more men into what she was proud to make a nearly all-female company.

This pioneering businesswoman’s story flies in the face of second wave feminist tropes regarding female business owners, women in the workplace, equal pay and women in STEM. Which demands the question: If feminism seeks to be an empowering voice for women, what can it learn from the ideologies, like capitalism, that it chooses to berate or ignore?

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VIDEO: What’s More Sexist, Meghan Trainor Singing to Her Future Husband, or JCPenney’s Butt-Firming Jeans for Teens?

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

You have to admit the retro stylings of YouTube star Meghan Trainor make for some catchy little tunes. But in her latest video, Dear Future Husband, the siren dons pinup-wear while scrubbing the floor of a 50′s kitchen and warning her husband he’d better compliment her every day and buy her jewelry. Contemporary feminists are in an uproar over the classic imagery, but does Trainor have a better grip on the inherent power of her sexuality than the teenage girls who feel the need to buy “butt-enhancing jeans” at JCPenney?

The national department store catalog includes:

The “YMI Wanna Betta Butt Skinny Jeggings” boasts: “With a slight lift and shift and contouring seams, our wanna betta butt skinny jeggings hug you in just the right places to give you a firmer, more flattering look.”

Rewind Smoothie Super Stretch Booty Buddy Skinny Jeans” features “rear-end-enhancing structure” designed to “augment your jean collection — and your backside” and comes in an acid wash finish.

Penney’s isn’t alone. Several online stores including Modaxpress, Hourglass Angel, and even Amazon offer butt enhancing denim to a teenage crowd. Where’s the feminist outrage over a wardrobe enhancement specifically targeted to those vulnerable teen girls suffering all those dreaded body-image issues? Perhaps they’re too busy in Trainor’s kitchen arguing over who gets to make the pie.

 

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VIDEO: Would You Get ‘Married at First Sight’?

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

A&E’s “docuseries” Married at First Sight had its second season premiere last night. The theory: arranged marriage cultures have a radically lower divorce rate than non-arranged marriage cultures. Therefore, a group of four experts (a psychologist, a sexologist, a sociologist and a spiritual advisor) conduct thorough testing to match up couples who will literally meet each other at the altar.

With a 66% success rate in its first season, the matchmaking panel appears to have a lower divorce rate than America at large. In the era of Tinder-generated fruitless casual sex, is trusting your romantic future to a pre-arranged scenario a logical alternative to a series of dead-end one night stands?

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Presbyterians Approve Gay Marriage: Forward-Looking or Surrender to a Culture Gone Wild?

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 - by Michael van der Galien

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The Presbyterian Church has once again confirmed its progressive reputation:

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved redefining marriage in the church constitution Tuesday to include a “commitment between two people,” becoming the largest Protestant group to formally recognize gay marriage as Christian and allow same-sex weddings in every congregation.

Is this a sign that Presbyterians are forward-looking and profoundly modern, or are they selling out? Opinion polls show that 55 percent of Americans now support same-sex marriage. No church can survive when it ignores the wishes and ideas of the culture at large. Gay marriage is going to be legalized nationwide eventually, as the culture is moving in that direction. Might as well get on board now rather than wait and be accused of being out of touch.

On the other hand, many devoted Christians rightfully argue that the Bible clearly states that a marriage is an arrangement between a man and a woman. They’ll claim they’ve got Genesis to back them up if they believe in a literal interpretation of Christianity’s holy book:

Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

What do you think? Are the Presbyterians right and should other churches follow suit, or are they selling out their religion in a desperate attempt to stay relevant in today’s society?

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image illustration via shutterstock / 

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VIDEO: What Lena Dunham Doesn’t Want to Know About Sex

Monday, March 16th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

In last night’s episode of HBO’s Girls, Hannah’s father came out of the closet.

Blah, blah, blah, right? At least until the end of the episode when Hannah confronts her father and says, gay or straight, she doesn’t want to know about his sex life.

Wait a minute? Is there something slightly traditionalist about Ms. Dunham after all?

No kid in her right mind wants to consider that her parents have sex. Yet for Ms. Dunham, who grew up around a considerable amount of father-generated sexual art, scripting a character who makes such a pedestrian proclamation is actually out of the ordinary.

Where is the line drawn in the progressive mind when it comes to loved ones and their sexual exploits? Could it be that the Queen of Sharing doesn’t want to share so much after all? Or is it more like others aren’t allowed to share as much as she does?

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Contemporary Feminism’s War Against Women in the Name of Radical Islam

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Owen Jones opines in the UK Guardian that women are “taken less seriously than men” and, as a result, the “pandemic of violence against women will continue.” Coming on the heels of the famed Arquette faux pas at the Oscars, his essay easily reads as more of the same old “War on Women” schtick, and to a great extent it is. However, his opening argument is worth noting for what it does say and for what Jones does not. Somehow, like most contemporary feminists with a platform, he manages to acknowledge the grotesque abuses of women living in Islamic cultures while completely refusing to point out that radicalized Islam is the number one serious threat to women across the globe.

Jones begins by recounting the story of Özgecan Aslan a 20-year-old Turkish college student who was tortured, raped and murdered, her body then burned as evidence, by a bus driver.

Across Twitter, Turkish women have responded by sharing their experiences of harassment, objectification and abuse. But something else happened: men took to the streets wearing miniskirts, protesting at male violence against women and at those who excuse it or play it down. Before assessing how men can best speak out in support of women, it’s worth looking at the scale of gender oppression. The statistics reveal what looks like a campaign of terror. According to the World Health Organisation, over a third of women globally have suffered violence from a partner or sexual violence from another man. The UN estimates that about 133 million girls and women have suffered female genital mutilation, and believes that nearly all of the 4.5 million people “forced into sexual exploitation” are girls and women.

He stops there, short of pointing out that the WHO statistics cited clearly show that the greatest threat of violence against women exists in primarily Islamic countries. While he mentions female genital mutilation, he again neglects to tie in the fact that FGM is most commonly practiced in Muslim countries and among extremist Islamic cultures.

Jones bases his argument in a story of a Muslim girl tortured and murdered by a man in a Muslim country that is growing more religious by the day, only to devolve into the same demeaning politically correct tropes of contemporary gender feminism. He finds it ironic that men dare to call themselves feminists and decides “…men will only stop killing, raping, injuring and oppressing women if they change.” Change what? Their gender? For Jones, as it is for so many other feminist activists, it is easier to just throw a blanket of blame onto men than to confront the source of evil that exacts a real “campaign of terror” against women: radical Islam.

What’s worse, Jones doesn’t hesitate to make his case for women all about gay men. In yet another ironic twist, after accusing men of co-opting the feminist movement for their own egotistical needs, he uses gender feminist theory to defend a tangent on gay rights:

And while men are not oppressed by men’s oppression of women, some are certainly damaged by it. Gay men are a striking example: we are deemed to be too much like women. But some straight men suffer because of an aggressive form of masculinity too. The boundaries of how a man is supposed to behave are aggressively policed by both sexism and its cousin, homophobia. Men who do not conform to this stereotype – by talking about their feelings, failing to objectify women, not punching other men enough – risk being abused as unmanly. “Stop being such a woman,” or “Stop being such a poof.” Not only does that leave many men struggling with mental distress, unable to talk about their feelings; it also is one major reason that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50.

If gender stereotypes are a cause of male suicide, they only have gender feminists to blame. Wait – wasn’t this supposed to be an argument in favor of feminism and the female voice?

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Why American Sniper Is a Much Better Love Story Than Fifty Shades of Grey

Friday, February 20th, 2015 - by Lisa De Pasquale

For the last several weeks the mainstream media has been promoting the movie Fifty Shades of Grey as if their life depended on it. For NBC Universal, perhaps it does. As Roger Sterling on Mad Men said, “Hollywood isn’t happy unless things are extreme.”

After the Today show on NBC spent weeks building up the movie with exclusive clips, interviews and insight on its presumptive popularity, it’s no surprise that millions of women flocked to theaters over the three-day weekend.

However, I’m worried that men may think that Christian Grey is what women want.

A male friend emailed me:

The majority of women have spoken as to what they want out of a man. I’m not interested in competing with the character in 50 Shades because I actually have a conscience. Do the majority of women who are fans have a conscience?  At this point I’m not convinced they do.

The worst lesson men could take from the movie’s temporary and forced success is to think it represents the real desires of women.

All of the attention the media is giving to Fifty Shades of Grey reminds me of the fervor for Sex and the City. For years women have been told by the media that it is cosmopolitan to consume sex-obsessed entertainment and pursue casual, and physically and emotionally dangerous sex.

Now that Fifty Shades of Grey has surpassed The Passion of the Christ’s opening weekend the media is drooling. Have women finally embraced the message Hollywood and the mainstream media have been feeding them?

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Image illustrations reimagined by Lisa De Pasquale and Brett R. Smith.

Ultimately, I’m not worried about what women take away from Fifty Shades of Grey because it’s fantasy. Also, the media seem to leave out of their reporting on casual sex as entertainment and “mommy porn” that the endings [SPOILER] usually portray a traditional relationship. The women of Sex and the City ended up with significant others and all but one married. Would Fifty Shades of Grey be as popular if the female character lived the rest of her days as a sex slave? Women might imagine life with a billionaire in a helicopter, but not life in a dungeon as a kept woman.

There is one movie in theaters that tells an amazing love story. Speaking of Fifty, this movie recently became one of only 50 movies in history to surpass over $300 million in domestic ticket sales. This feat was done without the mainstream media begging the public to see it. That love story is American Sniper.

Though you wouldn’t know it by the coverage, American Sniper had far less blood-thirst than Fifty Shades of Grey and a much more realistic depiction of a romantic relationship that women and men should want to emulate.  Though a majority of the movie is devoted to Chris Kyle’s four tours in Iraq, the story of Chris and Taya’s relationship is significant.

Chris ultimately decided to retire and focus on strengthening their marriage and raising their children. While Fifty Shades of Grey is about a transactional relationship, American Sniper is one of a love greater than oneself. It shows love for another person, love for country, and love for family.

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In a recent interview with People, Taya Kyle said,

I miss him so much. I loved being in his arms. I loved holding his hand. But what I miss most about Chris is the feeling when he was in the room. He just changed the feeling whenever he walked in. I missed him even when he was just gone from the room.

Taya went on to say of Chris, “He was a man with a huge heart and charisma and kindness.”

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Fifty Shades of America’s New Dark Ages

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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This year you could spend your Valentine’s Day in a theater full of middle-aged women oozing over a hot-bodied twenty-something whipping his blindfolded secretary to the point of striking blood in the name of “love.” Daytime television loves to play up to the Soccer Mom demographic (a title first dubbed to describe Clinton fans, ironically) seeking fantasy fulfillment in the form of sexual fiction. It was corny enough when shirtless Fabios graced the covers. Now that the most popular sex trilogy focuses on a woman who willingly allows herself to be sexually abused, is pop culture humoring those bored housewives too much?

While the majority of Fifty Shades fans are typical middle-aged marrieds dissatisfied with their partners (or even themselves), anywhere from 5-25% of Americans “show affinity” for BDSM (Bondage/Domination-Discipline/Sadism/Masochism) in the bedroom. On an issue that poses a particular sexual threat to women, feminists are split 50-50 between being against sexual abuse and for a narcissistic “if it feels good, do it” sexual ethos. Hence, a pervert who trolls Fanfiction.net (the original home of Hobbit-inspired Elvish/Dwarf porn) can turn her twisted sexual fantasies into an overnight sensation. After all, it’s all about love in the end. Or is it?

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Porn? Playstation? ‘Pain-In-The-Ass’ Dates? What Are the REAL Reasons Millennial Men Aren’t Marrying?

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015 - by Helen Smith

I was in LA last month and stopped by the PJTV studios to do a roundtable discussion on Millennial men and marriage:

Dr. Helen Smith, author of Men on Strike discusses the state of the young American male with PJTV’s Andrew Klavan, Bill Whittle and Matt Orr. Are men shunning marriage because of the economy, or do they have alternatives to marriage, like porn and easy sex? Could it be that women simply giving-up on the hopes of having a relationship with the current pool of men in America? Hear the answers.

Or maybe American men have given up hope on the current pool of women in America: as one of the panelists notes, “Dating is a pain in the ass.” Here is our discussion:

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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Whatever Happened to a Hint of Sex?

Thursday, January 29th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

A few days ago a friend of mine who loves and lives vintage shared this gem from HuffPo showing a series of modern-day “pin-up” pics paired with the argument that “every body is gorgeous.” The pin-ups, all retro-themed, featured a varying number of body shapes and types in clever poses and even cleverer clothing designed to hint at sex. Because sex, good sex, ultimately relies on stimulating the human imagination. Bad sex, on the other hand, has everything to do with telling the mind what to think instead of letting it take the hint. Which is why sex today, quite frankly, stinks.

Play the body-positive feminist angle of the photos all you want. What really makes these photos awesome is that they are a reminder of a time when sex was a hint and women were in control of exactly how far they went with the nudge, the wink, the euphemism, and the nudity. Contemporary feminists love to argue that being completely naked in public is the ultimate proclamation of sexual power, because they cannot comprehend the unspoken language of sex. Anything that isn’t laid out clearly in a multi-part contract is somehow an inconclusive sexual assault. No wonder they love gays and lust after drag queens. These are the only demographics still allowed to speak the unspoken language of glamour and inference. The shaggy-haired, pantsuited crew wishes they could be that comfortable in a sparkling evening gown and heels.

The truth is, contemporary feminists don’t know how to handle the power that comes with the clothes. Naked they get. Naked comes with a contract and court protection. The resulting shock value, best left to celebrities on red carpets protected by the lens of the camera, is especially defended and praised. Second-wave theorists once decried cinema’s voyeuristic male gaze. Now they taunt it openly, flashing breasts and bottoms to the point of sheer boredom, arguing that familiarity with the naked figure will somehow both grant women ownership of their bodies and tame evil male lust. (Tell that one to the booming porn industry.)

No one is more adept at the naked game than Miley Cyrus, Disney’s good girl-gone-bad who has apparently decided to challenge Lena Dunham at her own flesh-revealing game. Her latest shoot for V magazine wasn’t a shoot, per se, as much as a catalog of naked Polaroids (the Insta-variety no doubt) snapped by a friend while on her latest tour. Compare her nude antics to original Disney bad girl Annette Funicello, who ignored Disney’s advice and dared to bare her navel in a two-piece for a series of bikini beach movies in the 1960s. Funicello’s legacy is that of teen sex symbol. Miley’s on the other hand is that of teen slut.

In the Slut Walk era, Miley is just another bare-breasted woman in the crowd of feminists bent on denying psychology and biology through visual over-stimulation and court-protected denial of responsibility for inevitable consequences. As Camille Paglia so smartly comments to the pro-slut crowd:

Don’t call yourself a slut unless you are prepared to live and defend yourself like one.  My creed is street-smart feminism, alert, wary, and militant—the harsh survival code of streetwalkers and drag queens.  Sex is a force of nature, not just a social construct.  Monsters stalk its midnight realm.  Too many overprotected middle-class girls have a dangerously naive view of the world.  They fail to see the animality and primitivism of sex, historically controlled by traditions of religion and morality now steadily dissolving in the West.

The sexual revolution won by my 1960s generation was a two-edged sword.  Our liberation has burdened our successors with too many sexual choices too early.  Their flesh-baring daily dress is a sex mime to whose arousing signals they seem blind.  Only in a police state, and not even there, will women be totally safe on the streets.  Honorable men do not rape.  But protests and parades cannot create honor.

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Contemporary feminism isn’t just about nudity. Its ancient, paganesque obsession with body image puts more demands on a woman’s body than the simple shedding of attire. Ancient Jews who desired to fit in with their Greek overlords painfully reversed their circumcisions. Today’s women go to great lengths to emasculate their otherwise feminine figures to do what, exactly? Pursue a level of strength biologically and psychologically associated with the male gender? Or carve a comfortable trans-niche of their own, not quite glam like the drag divas but not nearly as boring as the Hillaryesque powersuit crowd?

Whether it’s female body building or superhero chic, flat abs, four-packed and more, are now the ultimate pursuit in female happiness. Women once considered themselves liberated from the forced flat abs of the corset generation. Now they’re demanding their own bodies do the work of the whale bones. Cinched in tight, these picture-perfect bodies eliminate the belly pouch made famous in elegant female art for centuries. (The un-tightened belly pouch that also makes the round ligament pain common in an expanding pregnant belly easier to bear.) Goodbye, Botticelli’s bellies and all the promise of fertility within, hello flat abs and the emasculated figures that come with them.

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Hyper-muscular demands on a feminine physique can have more than just an aesthetic effect on their womanhood:

A Norwegian population-based survey of nearly 4,000 women under 45 found a clear link between exercise intensity and fertility. Women who were active most days were more than three times more likely to have fertility problems than inactive women. And those who exercised to the point of exhaustion were more than twice as likely to be infertile than those who engaged in less strenuous activities, according to results published in Human Reproduction.

It is the great irony of flat abs and nude figures that women, who claim to possess a greater hold over their own sexuality, are in fact rendering themselves powerless over their own sex. Whether they are work-out freaks who reduce their chances of becoming mothers or women insisting that baring it all isn’t an invitation to a dangerous sexual encounter, contemporary feminism has crafted a cadre of goddesses willing to sacrifice themselves on the altar of so-called liberation. The only thing they’ve been liberated from is the one thing they’re after: Being thought of as sexy.

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Why Whiskey Is Better Purchased with a Wingman

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015 - by Audie Cockings
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Exhibit A

When one has indoor plumbing some things are simply better purchased with a wingman. Not the proverbial “wingman,” but an oversized, fortified male accompanying the said female in procurement of goods, minimizing her mocking for sheer amusement of purveyor staff.

In my experience these purchases include fast cars, Cuban cigars in Paris (Churchills not cigarillos), and high-end spirits. Never have I been so unabashedly snickered at as when inquiring about whiskey.

It all started four years ago. My husband was having a major birthday and I desired a distinctive offering. I thought about a really ripe Cabernet Franc (his favorite) but we already had enough garnet-hued libations in the basement. Collecting red wine involved more babysitting and added expense than initially anticipated.  It’s an indulgence requiring quick consumption after opening as it begins to decline soon after. And wine has obstinate storage needs. If you have something special waiting to peak, it can easily become soured in less than ideal conditions.

A good example was the much-anticipated 2004 Merryvale Profile finally opened on our anniversary last month–an utter disappointment. The bottle had been too close to the radiant heat floor and consequently the cork dried out, allowing air to filter through. We took a sip and puckered up, promptly committing the remaining tainted wine to the crock that houses my French Mother. What a waste.

My husband is incredibly difficult to buy for and rarely gets excited about anything—the only downside to his even keel. Before he was into wine, he really enjoyed whiskey, which was at the time absent from the liquor cabinet. I began my internet search for a spirit to parallel a major birthday for such a man and came across the annual “spirit” awards (as in alcohol, not cheerleaders).

The mentioned imported whiskeys (spelled “whiskies” in Scotland, Canada and Japan) were the Scotch and Irish bottlings, Canadian and, surprisingly, some Japanese. There were several standouts, but no solitary bottle that prompted a Hallelujah. So I headed to the American offerings in which one bourbon (we’ll get to a whiskey/bourbon comparison in a sec) won seven notable awards in 2010 and a score of 97 points by Wine Enthusiast. That bottle was the 20-year Pappy Van Winkle, referred to by loyal devotees as “Pappy.”

That solitary distilled spirit commandeered recommendations and reviews from every possible venue: lowly college kids that accidentally found a bottle hiding in the local liquor store to chefs in Manhattan to bourbon gurus in Kentucky. The 20-year Pappy seemed the overwhelmingly obvious choice, and I was relieved to find my husband’s soon-to-be birthday gift.

Then came the crushing reality. I was tremendously naïve regarding process acquisition of the illusive “Pappy.” There were thousands of folks (generally men) on wait lists across the country trying to land a bottle, and no respectable liquor store in Maryland was willing to sell to some girl wanna-be whiskey connoisseur sans wingman. The fact that shipping alcohol to Maryland was illegal at the time only upped the ante.

Three weeks later the exchange took place. Within arm’s reach was not one, but two bottles of Pappy Van Winkle in trademark velvet bottle sleeves. I had managed to talk an unnamed someone out of both a 15-year and a 20-year Pappy for the agreed price of $500. My blue-collar background objected via inner dialogue but was snuffed out the second I cradled that plain brown box in my arms. I had closed on a Hail Mary, securing honorary sainthood among future generations of American wives.

Finally the day came. He opened the box, at once astonished. After putting his jaw back into place, he snapped a photo with his iPhone and off it went to his brother in Dallas, who’d been trying to get his hands on any bottle (or even just an ounce) of Pappy Van Winkle for well over a year.

That first Pappy procurement swiftly launched me into the “Wifee Hall of Fame” (his words, not mine). I’ve never seen a tough guy act so dorky. He texted photos of himself posing with his Pappy to nearly every drinking buddy he’s ever had. But my victorious endowment also created a problem… He was hooked.  The limited supply of Pappy merely tickled the scratch of increasing consumer demand in the following years.

I again called all the liquor stores who might obtain an allocation, usually one case or less, in late November. After booking my parents’ babysitting services for Pappy allocation day, the hubby and I hit every liquor store (like Bonnie and Clyde) that was expecting at least six bottles.  We went in each location separately as there was a one-bottle limit per person. At the end of the day we had four new bottles. The following year we obtained another four bottles to add to our modest collection (see exhibit B below). Pappy allocation day had become a standing date between us… like a treasure hunt for grown-ups with OCD.

Whiskey!

Exhibit B

This past November, we were down to eight bottles and hoped to pick up two or three more. But the UPS trucks had all arrived at liquor stores with lines forming outside and the few bottles sent to each location sold immediately upon arrival. Didn’t even make it to the shelves. Other stores that were expecting a modest delivery got the big goose egg and were consequently pretty pissed off. Despite five well-managed attempts, we went home empty handed (sigh).

A few hours after returning home defeated, one of my husband’s employees called with intel regarding someone who might sell us a bottle of the Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye. When my dedicated spouse arrived at the nondescript liquor store, the 80-something owner looked him up and down, asked him a few questions and made small talk. After all, the guy wasn’t about to sell Van Winkle to a jerk (or worse, an unworthy palate). Luckily, my husband passed the interview. They had bonded over a mutual interest, hockey.

The older fellow then discreetly disclosed that he had rye in the back. My husband followed him to a room of what seemed to be boxes full of easily attainable American whiskeys. But the contents of the boxes did not correspond with their entry-level housing.

Not only did my husband secure a Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye, he also came home with a unique bottling of Colonel E.H. Taylor, and the humdinger… the 18-year Sazarac Rye that I’d been trying to get a hold of for two years (see exhibit A). The Sazarac Rye had been the second most absurd request I made at local liquor stores. And it is absolutely delicious! Not nearly as angry as the Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye because the smooth toffee-like Sazarac had another five years to mellow into an uber-refined gentleman.

So, here’s a quick education on American whiskey and bourbon. There are actually laws that specify what they can be made of, what they are aged in, the temp of the fluid when entering the barrels, and how high the alcohol content must be for each. It’s a lot of info, but Maker’s Mark generated a great visual that presents the basics in a rather unconfusing manner.  I wish I would have found this back in 2010:

Bourbon-vs-Whisky

An unforeseen bonus to our rather tantric Pappy fixation is that it has only increased in value, nearly three-hundred percent. And, it keeps for ages, unlike the red wine stewing on our heated floors.

The Pappy purchased and opened several years ago is just as enjoyable, if not more so. And the best part? I get between twenty and twenty-five servings per bottle, under $15 for a 1oz. pour of 23-year Pappy, the brand’s flagship. In contrast, our big reds cost more per pour, offering only six servings per bottle. Buck for buck, our whiskey is by far a superior value for initial investment.

We’ve still got four ounces left of that first 20-year bottle I bought back in 2010. Those last well-loved milliliters will be finishing a long distinguished life in form of a bourbon cake in the next few weeks. I realize this is spiritual heresy, so feel free to protest should you feel led.

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Exposing Feminism’s Patriarchy Myth on Campus

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Arthur Chu wrote a wandering epithet over at Salon on “bitter nerd” Scott Aaronson’s rant against feminism. Aaronson’s complaints as detailed in Chu’s piece are far from new. As a graduate teaching assistant I had many male students (rather nerdy types) walk out of film theory classes declaring they were “horrible people” and “secret rapists” because they were born male. In the wake of the campus rape lies of 2014, who can blame these guys for believing feminism is conducting its own War Against Men:

This is not a debate about gender roles. It is not about economics or the esoterica of hateful radicals in an ivory tower. This is a war, an ideological campaign to smear all men as moral monsters. It is not a war against “patriarchy” or some imagined evil rich guy. This is a war on men as such – of all races and social classes. It is a war against your brothers, sons, fathers, friends and relatives. And right now, the bad guys and girls are winning.

“…[H]ow could [Aaronson] be targeted by books written by second-wave feminists when he was a toddler?” Chu asks incredulously. Camille Paglia answers Chu in her book Vamps and Tramps, and most recently in her Time magazine piece on the overblown campus rape epidemic. Second-wave feminists believe themselves to be superior human beings through a pseudo-science that negates biology, psychology and religion in favor of a sterile view of the world as a grand social order which must be maintained and controlled through Marxist politics. To put it rather simply, the second wave threw out biology and psychology and mocked God, making a target of every man like Scott who reads feminist literature only to walk away convinced that he’s an inherent rapist because he was born male. As Paglia explains:

The horrors and atrocities of history have been edited out of primary and secondary education except where they can be blamed on racism, sexism, and imperialism — toxins embedded in oppressive outside structures that must be smashed and remade. But the real problem resides in human nature, which religion as well as great art sees as eternally torn by a war between the forces of darkness and light.

Paglia details that Marxist feminists “…simplistically project outward onto a mythical ‘patriarchy’ their own inner conflicts and moral ambiguities.” Men have no such external myth on which to blame what Chu calls “internal demons” which is why for men these moral struggles are easily chalked off as “slippery things.” Chu writes

I do know that what could help women… is to find the guys who are doing bad things to her and stop those guys from doing that. That’s why feminism is more focused on women’s issues than men’s, because women’s issues are the things happening out in the world where we can do something about them.

This absurdity is an outgrowth of the second wave’s politicization of male rape. Female rape, highly eroticized in the ’70s, was legitimized by the feminist movement as sexual fantasy only to become an illicit crime when acted out by a male counterpart. Paglia notes, “…the illicit is always highly charged,” which is why the issue of campus rape has become the most highly charged issue of feminism today. This also explains why rape has become the source for such incredible moral ambiguity and why men, the mythical figures onto which the moral ambiguities of the female sex are projected, are increasingly blamed for women’s bad sexual decision-making.

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The story of Molly Morris and Corey Mock is nothing new to the campus rape scene. Having met on Tinder, a social media app designed to fulfill hook-up scenarios, Mock pursued classmate Morris, who played hard to get until agreeing to a breakfast date. Morris took Mock up on his invitation to a party, but wound up not arriving until 2 a.m., only to find a bunch of male wrestlers with few female faces in the crowd. Partaking in plenty of booze, Morris implies she was drugged and woke up the next day naked in bed with Mock. She decided not to go to the police because “she was not emotionally ready to enter a criminal justice system that would scrutinize her life and choices.”

Her’s is a pathetic excuse that permits the consequences of her bad decision-making to be projected onto the mythical patriarchy represented by Mock and the criminal justice system. When Morris finally did approach their university’s administration Mock was found innocent, then guilty, then granted a stay and finally expelled from the school in what amounted to a politically motivated public relations debacle. Mock’s side of the story is only given by his father via the comment field at the end. He explicitly details his son’s sexual encounter to make it clear that it was, indeed, consensual. After explaining what happened to his son, he concludes, “Morally and ethically I want to say, don’t have sex until you get married. We all know that would be naive.”

Would it? The reality is that abstinence has become the only 100% guaranteed way to avoid being falsely accused of sexual assault. That reality check highlights the long-forgotten intrinsic value of abstinence culture. The moralists who promoted that antiquated agenda understood that the allure of sexuality and the power of sex needed to be contextualized through marriage so societal order could be maintained. When society rejected marriage culture, it implicitly accepted the second-wave feminist alternative. Hence, every man is a rapist and every woman a victim.

Paglia argues that “rape will not be understood until we revive the old concept of the barbaric, the uncivilized.” Likewise, the problem of campus rape – that is, second-wave feminism’s grotesque predilection for falsely accusing male sex partners of assault in an attempt to soothe their own wounded pride and troubled souls – will not cease until moral order, built on a solid biological and psychological understanding of the individual and an acceptance of moral responsibility on the part of both parties, is restored.

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Thank God for Marvel’s Agent Carter Feminism

Saturday, January 10th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Don’t let the stereotypical G.I. lunks distract you with their butt-smacking, “don’t you need to file something” portrayal of 1940s masculinity. Marvel’s Agent Carter is far from your oh-so-played-out second wave feminist portrayal of manhood – and womanhood, for that matter. Which is why it’s the best show going on television for feminism today.

For every lunk there’s a hero, Carter’s colleague Agent Sousa being one of them. One brilliant expository exchange sets the tone, demonstrating exactly how appealing real men find Carter’s fearless independence:

Carter: “I’m grateful. I’m also more than capable of handling whatever these adolescents throw at me.”

Sousa: “Yes, ma’am. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

Carter: “Well that’s another thing we have in common.”

Carter is a fully empowered female. Sousa knows it, respects it, and likes it. And Carter likes him for it. This kind of His Girl Friday exchange gets equity feminism the screen time our culture so desperately needs. Unlike her Avengers’ counterpart the Black Widow, Agent Carter isn’t squished into slicked up body suits and forced to perform gymnastic feats in order to intrigue her male audience. And unlike gender feminists, Carter draws authority from her sex and uses it to save the day.

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The 10 Most Ridiculous Marriages

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015 - by Karina Fabian

“True Love takes many forms.” How poetic… and how bizarre when it comes to what some people consider “true love.” Taken to its logical conclusion, love leads to marriage, but what happens when the object of your desire is, in fact, an object?

There is a psychological term for it: object sexuality, in which someone not only feels attracted to an inanimate object, but views the object of their desire as a partner. Apparently, the Eiffel Tower is a popular, pardon the term, object of women’s desires. (But then again, it is tall, slim and French…)

Of course, there’s a difference between falling in love with a thing and marrying – and yet, there are some willing to support an “Anything goes, as long as it’s Love” mentality. Here are some of the most bizarre marriages on record.

1. Woman marries a bridge.

Peh! Who needs the Eiffel Tower? Popular, city-thing that it is. Julie Rose apparently goes for the sturdy squat, country-type, which is why she married the Le Pont du Diable Bridge in southern France. The relationship seems a stretch considering the 600-year age gap, but with the blessing of the mayor of the neighboring town, and while the bridge was silent about it, Julie said it’s fine with her loving other men – and bridges.

I suppose a bridge would consent to an open marriage.

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4 Fallacies Killing Feminism

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson, two wannabe-famous New York twenty somethings, teamed up to talk sex via their “running soap opera,” “almost reality TV show” podcast Guys We F*cked. Broadcasting under the “anti-slut shaming” banner makes Guys We F*cked appealing to the contemporary feminists at Salon who never turn down the chance to normalize twisted sexuality. Salon assistant editor Jenny Kutner sat down with the comedy duo more commonly known as “Sorry About Last Night” who, as they enter season 2 of their famed podcast, are looking to crowdsource funds from fans while noting that their careers are “…getting better because of the podcast, which is really exciting.”

Performing an editorial feat, Kutner defines the duo’s narcissism as “comedy with a purpose” in her attempt to define the two as feminists. In doing so, the assistant editor at Salon exposes exactly why contemporary feminism is failing 21st century women: Today’s feminists have worked to sever feminism from its historical roots as a biblically-grounded movement for women’s independence. What they’re replacing it with, a “social media feminism” as artist and feminist April Bey has dubbed it, is a mere mask for narcissistic, death-obsessed, goddess worship.

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Why Is Prohibiting Adultery Essential To Building Civilization?

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Daily Question

See the eighth commandment here.

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The Key to a Woman’s Sexual Power

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Editor’s Note: See the first two parts in Susan L.M. Goldberg’s series exploring ABC’s Scandal through the lens of Biblical feminism: “What’s Evil Got to Do with It?,” ”Women and the Scandal of Doing It All Alone.” Also check out an introduction to her work and collection of 194 articles and blog posts here.

The husband/wife relationship is central to feminism. Historical, first-wave feminism studied matrimony in terms of legal rights. Contemporary, second-wave feminism approaches marriage in terms of sexual and economic power. Biblical feminism seeks to understand the spiritual relationship between a husband and wife, and how that spiritual relationship manifests into physical action. To do so, we must begin at the beginning, with Genesis 3:16:

To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

“Rule over you” is a phrase that sends chills down any feminist’s spine. But, what does it truly mean? A study of the original Hebrew text provides radical insight into one of the most abused verses of Torah:

This brings us to perhaps the most difficult verse in the Hebrew Bible for people concerned with human equality. Gen 3:16 seems to give men the right to dominate women. Feminists have grappled with this text in a variety of ways. One possibility is to recognize that the traditional translations have distorted its meaning and that it is best read against its social background of agrarian life. Instead of the familiar “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing,” the verse should begin “I will greatly increase your work and your pregnancies.” The word for “work,” izavon, is the same word used in God’s statement to the man; the usual translation (“pangs” or “pain”) is far less accurate. In addition, the woman will experience more pregnancies; the Hebrew word is pregnancy, not childbearing, as the NRSV and other versions have it. Women, in other words, must have large families and also work hard, which is what the next clause also proclaims. The verse is a mandate for intense productive and reproductive roles for women; it sanctions what life meant for Israelite women.

In light of this, the notion of general male dominance in the second half of the verse is a distortion. More likely, the idea of male “rule” is related to the multiple pregnancies mentioned in the first half of the verse. Women might resist repeated pregnancies because of the dangers of death in childbirth, but because of their sexual passion (“desire,” 3:16) they accede to their husbands’ sexuality. Male rule in this verse is narrowly drawn, relating only to sexuality; male interpretive traditions have extended that idea by claiming that it means general male dominance.

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Women and the Scandal of Doing It All Alone

Sunday, November 16th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Editor’s Note: See Part 1 of Susan’s ongoing series analyzing the connections between ABC’s Scandal, current events, and Western values: “What’s Evil Got to Do with It?

Women are fixers. It should come as no surprise to anyone with an understanding of the sexes that the leading female figure on primetime television is none other than a fixer named Olivia Pope. Fifty years ago women primarily played the role of mother on screen and, in doing so, they fixed things and life was pretty darn perfect. But perfect doesn’t fly on network television any longer. Today it’s all about drama, and drama is conflict. So, we get Olivia Pope: beautiful, intelligent, who fantasizes about marrying an already married man, having his children and fixing a nice little life in the Vermont countryside for them, but is too embroiled in fixing her own life and the lives of those she loves to ever quite reach her American nirvana.

Like Israel’s matriarchs, Olivia Pope has a vision of justice, of order, of the way things should be. The wearer of the “white hat,” she wrestles between good and evil in her many attempts to manifest this divine sense that has been humanized as her “gut” instinct. Watch her and you’ll see the woman in white when she pursues truth, the woman in black when she has given over to evil, and the woman in gray when she questions everything she knows. Being a fixer is a woman’s inherent power and inevitable struggle. It isn’t that we want to “do it all” because doing it isn’t as hard as taking responsibility for it, for the lives under our care. Olivia Pope cares for everyone, wants to save everyone, wants to repair everyone and make everything all better. Her struggle, like that of the matriarchs, is in placing the sole burden of responsibility on her own shoulders. But, the greatest lesson of God-given responsibility is that you are not expected to carry it all alone.

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Is Marriage Worth Saving?

Saturday, November 1st, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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The American Enterprise Institute has a new study that looks at the benefits of marriage:

This study documents five key findings about the relationships between family patterns and economic well-being in America.

The retreat from marriage—a retreat that has been concentrated among lower-income Americans—plays a key role in the changing economic fortunes of American family life. We estimate that the growth in median income of families with children would be 44 percent higher if the United States enjoyed 1980 levels of married parenthood today. Further, at least 32 percent of the growth in family-income inequality since 1979 among families with children and 37 percent of the decline in men’s employment rates during that time can be linked to the decreasing number of Americans who form and maintain stable, married families.

Growing up with both parents (in an intact family) is strongly associated with more education, work, and income among today’s young men and women. Young men and women from intact families enjoy an annual “intact-family premium” that amounts to $6,500 and $4,700, respectively, over the incomes of their peers from single-parent families.

Men obtain a substantial “marriage premium” and women bear no marriage penalty in their individual incomes, and both men and women enjoy substantially higher family incomes, compared to peers with otherwise similar characteristics. For instance, men enjoy a marriage premium of at least $15,900 per year in their individual income compared to their single peers.

The study announces some public policy changes to encourage marriage, such as launching a national campaign to pursue school, work, marriage and parenthood, in that order; doing away with the marriage penalty; adding childcare credits; improving vocational programs; and expanding the maximum earned income tax credit for single, childless adults to $1,000, increasing their marriageability.

The study seems to miss the point: marriage is a liability for men (and for some women, though the law is on their side). The extra income might be nice, but when it gets you stuck with extra child support, alimony or just plain half your stuff taken away, what’s the point of making the extra dough?

Public policy should include making the marriage arena a more fair and equitable place for men. How about doing away with or reducing alimony, giving more equal access to children, making more fair domestic violence laws, doing away with jail time in child support cases and making them more fair, and providing at least some civic education for men and boys on their limited rights so they can make an informed decision?

But the real question is, is marriage worth saving?

More from Dr. Helen: 

On Men and Catcalling

*****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen, image illustration via shutterstock / alphaspirit

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The Feminist Lesson in Mom’s Night Out

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Twenty-four percent of married couple families with children under 15 have a stay-at-home mom. Ninety-nine percent of stay-at-home moms in the movies get a really bad rap. Search “Best Movie Moms” and you’ll get lists that include Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment, Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, Shelly Duvall in The Shining, and more than a few mentions of Psycho. The majority of movie mothers are either widowed or divorced, careerists or working class, alcoholics or impregnated by UFOs. The closest you’ll get to a stay-at-home mom in post-1940s cinema is Kathleen Turner playing the psychotic Serial Mom or Michael Keaton taking on the role so his wife can pursue her career in Mr. Mom.

In fact, outside of Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side there hasn’t been a truly admirable middle-class, white, stay-at-home mother on the silver screen in over 50 years. Which is probably why Mom’s Night Out received such a negative critical reception when it premiered last spring. We have been acculturated out of believing in the power and purpose of stay-at-home moms. Yet, the criticisms leveled at Mom’s Night Out for its “depressingly regressive” spirit and “archaic notions of gender roles” were not applied to a similar film about a stay-at-home mom released only two years prior. This Is 40 received mixed reviews, but praise for yielding “…some of [Judd] Apatow’s most personal observations yet on the feelings for husbands, wives, parents, and children that we categorize as love.”

So, what made This Is 40 palatable in a way that Mom’s Night Out wasn’t? Is there, perhaps, a culturally acceptable way to be a stay-at-home mom?

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10 Ways to Avoid Regretting Your Wedding

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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The average wedding in America costs roughly $30,000. Egged on by countless wedding TV shows, magazines, and websites, people throw what appear to be pseudo star-studded events that aim to rival the kind of blow-out parties you only see in movies. In the end you wind up with one night of clouded memories, a ton of photos, and a group of hungover people hovering over breakfast in the hotel lobby the next day. The bills may last you months, even upwards of a year. And for what? To make your grandmother happy? Because you really liked that episode of My Fair WeddingYou can have a great, regret-free wedding without sacrificing yourself to the Wedding Idol. Here’s how.

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