Tuesday, March 10, 2009


The Sacramento Bee recently ran an opinion piece by a part-time documentary filmmaker, William Preston Robertson,* titled “Head of Household? Let’s Talk to my Wife”.

The crux of the piece:

“I'm proud of my wife. She is the breadwinner in the family. She's a brilliant, dynamic, powerful woman. She works incredibly long hours and is compensated for that in a way that your average ukulele documentarian could never hope to be.

“But when my wife and I file our taxes or apply for loans, the computers, by default, make me the head of the household and my wife the ‘spouse.’ And they do this despite all of the usable data being located in her section of the form and all of the goose eggs being located in mine.

“I find this annoying… because it bestows upon me an unearned status and it robs my wife of a status she has not only earned, but worked hard to attain. And as I've previously mentioned, bizarre as it may be, I'm proud of my wife.

“We live in a society that presumes in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that men are and should be the breadwinners in a household and that any other arrangement is wrong and shameful.”

I had the same feeling of annoyance, plus awkwardness and inauthenticity, when my wife and I went to our tax guy last month and I was given a tax return to sign as “Taxpayer” while my wife signed as “Spouse.”

This after my wife, the obvious CFO (and CEO) of our family, did all the talking, responded to all the questions, produced all the documents with explanation, from mortgage interest to charitable deductions, conducted a sidebar conversation with the tax guy’s loan expert on doing a refi of our house. I said almost nothing, a couple of jokes, really, and was acknowledged only occasionally out of politeness by our tax guy.

Like the filmmaker, I’m proud of my wife and her leadership. What’s wrong with wives being the head of their household and family? Aren’t they almost always, in fact if not in name? Isn’t it about time that they be allowed to take that pride of place?

Now I’ll climb down from my mini-soapbox (my version of an op-ed) and, as is my wont, let some other loving female authoritarians and happily led husbands do the rest of the talking:

“We both would like to try out the ‘female head of household’ concept,” a Norwegian husband writes to Emily Addison, the better half of the Around Her Finger
team. “Two HOH’s in a home is one too many, and I think my wife is the better manager. Serving her and taking on much more of the domestic chores are only fair, and if I can be wrapped around her finger - that is all the better.”

Sounds pretty mainstream to me. As does this sensible husband: “My wife has been essentially Head of Household since we were married twenty years ago. She was a Navy officer and I an enlisted man, and to say she is smarter than I am is an understatement. Valedictorian of her high school class, and so on. Since the beginning, she has controlled the finances and many more aspects of the marriage. I'm not submissive, in fact by many measures I am a man's man. But I have come to nearly worship my wife.”

“My wife is unquestionably the leader of our marriage,” agrees another wife-worshipper, “but she tries her best to show me how much she appreciates my role as her husband. It's like she controls me without having to be bossy or bitchy, and I know deep in my heart that I would die for her if I had to.” By the way, this guy’s cybernym is “Mr. Jenny.”

Most female-led hubbies don’t object to a bit of bossiness, even a superabundance thereof. On their above-mentioned blog, Emily Addison, speaking for husband Ken, recommends a candidate wife-leader assume a clear authoritarian tone: “We believe that an open and ongoing acknowledgment of the wife’s authority combined with orgasm management are the fundamentals of a successful female-led relationship… You are entitled to consider his requests and then accept or dismiss them as you see fit. You are the head of household, you make the rules, and you set the guidelines… period, end of story.”

Usually it is the husband who proposes the wife be HOH, less often the wife. Even less frequent are those idyllic matches when the marriage role reversal is by mutual consent from the get-go:

One guy, signed “Obedient Husband,” told LFA psychologist Elise Sutton that both he and his bride agreed during their engagement that she should be undisputed head of household and take the lead “sexually, socially, emotionally, and fiscally. I regard her authority completely without question… I have been very happy in our three years together and would not seek to change a thing.”

Another wife informs Ms. Sutton that her husband “recognized from the beginning that both my native intelligence and career ambitions were superior to his own and he willingly conceded to my preeminence as Head of Household. It was thus with relative ease that our marriage soon settled into its essentially Matriarchal pattern that enabled me to launch my own legal career—and also helped establish the First Rule of Our Relationship: We discuss; I decide; he obeys. In cases where my mind is already made up, or I feel strongly about a particular issue, the need for discussion is obviated and [he] is simply informed. This eliminates the need for discussion in about seventy percent of all cases, allows [him] to concentrate on his career and leaves other issues in my far more capable hands.”

The marriage of “Mr. Louise” to “Mrs. Louise,” described on the old Spouseclub message board, epitomizes living this lifestyle to the hilt: “We were fully aware of our roles before we walked down the aisle. I took her name. No, not secretly and not just on paper. We walked into our reception as Ms. and Mr. D. (her name) and I've never looked back. Our union is wife-centered and wife led. She is the authority I recognize and submit to and in turn she loves, cherishes and supports me. Our friends know just what I mean when I jokingly say I am under her skirt and that our marriage is ‘a petticoat government.’ They can see her obvious maternal/matriarchal control over our house and accept us.”

Another female-empowerment psychologist, Paige Harrison, also advocates the matriarchal aspect of the wife-leader: “The Woman as the Matriarch in a love relationship can redefine family and romantic attachments. Many males tell me their strong desire to live with their Wife as the Head of Household and Domestic Disciplinarian. The Mommy-child relationship works especially well If your Wife is an extremely Maternal Woman.”

And this final amen on the subject from an old standby, Au876: “More and more women are becoming the head of their households. I am proud to follow my wife’s lead with my service, my actions and my heart. I may often disagree with her when we reach a fork in the road, but when she makes her decision it becomes mine and I devote myself to making it work.”

* Mr. Robertson is identified below his op-ed as “a writer, filmmaker and well-kept man who lives in Sacramento.”

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Big ‘O’ Overrated?

The “Big O” for a lot of guys of a certain age instantly conjures up basketball legend Oscar Robertson, once widely considered the game’s greatest all-around player. That was, of course, way before the advent of Dr. J, Bird, Magic, MJ, Kobie, Le Bron, et al.

Was Oscar overrated? No way. He really was that great.

But that’s not the “Big O” under re-evaluation here. I’m talking about the male orgasm. Not knocking it, heaven forfend, but matched up against the female orgasm, the “Bigger O,” does ours really deserve top spot on the awards podium?

Let’s not delve too deeply into point-by-point matchups—frequency, degree of intensity, duration, etc. You can look all that up. The consensus seems pretty clear: Guys come in a distant second on the Bliss-O-Meter in all these comparisons, big-time.

Unless—and here’s my point—we opt to go with the female flow… hang on for dear life… and surf along on the breaking crest of our partner’s orgasmic tsunami (sorry, I’m getting really carried away)… till it finally subsides… way the hell up the beach.

In other words, make her ecstasy your ecstasy. To the extent that we even forget (at least temporarily) about our own. To the extent that we are truly fulfilled by being a part of her powerful, all-encompassing completion.

I don’t want to give myself too much credit here, but I’ve always pretty much felt this way, from the moment I vicariously experienced my first female orgasm. It was a revelation, a redefinition of “peak experience.” The notion that I had been involved in, or a facilitator of, anything so rapturousy cataclysmic made me feel like a superhero.

Still does. That’s what I daydream about when I think of sex—hers, not mine.

And those early formative experiences came during an era when the ideal of ultimate hetero-sex was the simultaneous climax—after, of course, a long interlocking gallup. It acquired near-mythic status in popular culture, starting with Papa Hemingway (For Whom the Bell Tolls: "Come now, now, for there is no now but now. Yes, now. Now, please now....") and his legion of schlocky imitators to all those erotic cinematic climax-montages dissolving into the shared, post-coital cigarette.

Not knocking it again, but, like the de rigueur vaginal climax, this kind of seismic togetherness doesn’t happen as often in real life as in books and movies.

These days sexual synchronicity is being replaced by another paradigm, which is neatly encapsulated in the title of one popular book,
She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman by Ian Kerner.

Wife-worshippers along with advocates of Wife-Led Marriages and Female-Led Relationships take this prescription a bit farther. Like, for instance, She comes first… and second… maybe even third.

And what about her partner in passion? He is admonished to be patient, be a good boy, and wait for her to give him the green light.

Is this a good thing? A lot of men say that it is. I joined that chorus myself in my book, especially Chapter 4, “A Playful Step Beyond”: “…[it] extends and intensifies the husband’s pleasure, saving him from a quick release followed by an even quicker loss of desire—climax and anti-climax.”

“Save yourself for her direction,” I quote a happy husband as advising another chap. “Your satisfaction will be intensified.”

And here is complementary advice from a woman whose husband has now learned to worship her as his queen: “[The woman] should never feel that denying her male orgasm for long periods of time is overly cruel. In fact, rather than cruelty, long-term orgasm denial is a gift she provides her male. When the male achieves orgasm it is accompanied by a release of all sexual tension. As being in a state of sexual tension is so blissful, the male orgasm is always to one extent or another a disappointment.”

This hubby definitely concurs: “People ask me how I can go so long without sex. They don't get that my wife and I are having sex pretty much 24/7, we just go a long time between orgasms. Making my Goddess have orgasms is one of the greatest feelings in the world for me. God, I love my life!”

And one final hurrah for the Female O: “I pleasured my queen this a.m. and without a word she just fell asleep when she was done. It makes me feel great to experience her orgasm, and then to see her relax that much and to know that I've contributed to it by not making demands on her for my pleasure.”