The Reddit Support Group for People Trapped in Sexless Relationships

by Harry Harris

The first thing to remember is this: Some relationships will die in their sleep. When you’re in the throes of a lust-filled, wide-eyed romance, you feel like the only way it could end is if it gets cut down prematurely: a strike of lightning in the middle of a clear day. In reality, the likelihood is that the end will be far more prosaic: a small sickness that creeps and grows, until it’s eventually too much.

In terms of a litmus test for how well things are going, it’s very easy to just tally up the frequency with which you have sex and compare it to what it was like in the early days. According to a study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour, Americans are having less sex than ever — particularly married Americans — and yet arguably society is more sexualised than it has ever been. How do you coalesce the two in your own head? You make excuses, you rationalize, and if that fails, you look for support. Luckily, it’s 2017, and no matter what problem you’re going through, the internet is on hand to remind you that people are going through similar. In this case, specifically, Reddit is on hand.

Welcome to Dead Bedrooms, a 45,000-member subreddit for people in failing relationships; a de facto support group for those whose sex lives have plummeted, but who haven’t yet turned off the relationship’s life support. From newlyweds to long-term couples, all genders, all ages, all grappling with insecurity, depression and fear — all directly attributed to how much action they’re getting.

It’s hard reading. In one recent post, a regular member pleads that she just wants her SO (that’s “significant other” — Reddit is pretty hot on ’90s MSN-style nomenclature) to pay her any sexual attention whatsoever: “It seems like the kind of thing other people in other relationships just get to have. For me, it’s just a wild fantasy.” In another, a woman complains that her husband will only have sex with her if she agrees to film or photograph it — and this is after he’s already been unfaithful. Scroll through the pages and you’ll see titles like “Desperate for *some* sexual intimacy,” “I’m at the absolute end of my rope,” and one that’s just: “How fucked am I?”

It’s weird to consider that the overriding feeling of the group is one of grief, but really, that’s exactly what it is. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. It’s all here as people grieve for the death — or impending death — of their relationships. And according to ToughKitten, a female DeadBedroomer who credits the group with helping her leave her marriage and now acts as one of the moderators, “those who remain in sexless marriages rarely come round to acceptance.”

Another moderator, SimianSupervisor, who has also found solace in the group, told me that most of the moderation is focused around the anger that people feel toward their “denying partners,” and trying to limit that: “At the end of the day, though, we need their input and perspective from the other side in order to ever have a chance of understanding what’s going on.”

This separates Dead Bedrooms from, say, the “incel” (involuntarily celibate) movement, which, though it began in a similar fashion, descended into violent misogyny and men’s rights activism thanks to the echo chamber of certain internet forums, and was a key motive for Elliot Rodgers’ killing spreein Isla Vista, California, in 2014. “The redpill community does make evangelical attempts here; we make it front and center of our moderation to protect our subreddit from that,” ToughKitten said.

Which is not to say that Dead Bedrooms is totally free from misogyny. In one post entitled “Learn from my mistake. Please,” a man talks about how his sex life ended as soon as he put a ring on it. Immediately the replies become very accusatory. Words like “ambush,” “trap” and “bait and switch” are used to refer to the wife in this scenario. This kind of post is far from an outlier; similarly many men post when their sex lives take a backseat after the birth of a child. In situations like this, mods will often kick in to explain how healing from childbirth and then breastfeeding can mean that yeah, they won’t have sex for a while, and they’ll just have to be patient…



What is good rhetoric?

Resultado de imagem para Martin Luther King addressing residents of Watts, Los Angeles in 1965. Photo by Bettmann/GettyPhoto edited by Web Investigator – In the pursuit of truth: Martin Luther King addressing residents of Watts, Los Angeles in 1965. Photo Getty

Plato said we ought to be suspicious of persuasive speakers and the appeal to emotions. But rhetoric can be a civic good

Tushar Irani holds a joint appointment in the Department of Philosophy and the College of Letters at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. He is the author of Plato on the Value of Philosophy: The Art of Argument in the Gorgias and Phaedrus (forthcoming, 2017). 

Philosophers have had a longstanding problem with rhetoric. The standard view of the quarrel is well-known: philosophy is a truth-directed activity concerned with reasoned argument, while rhetoric is uninterested in truth and concerned merely with persuasion. This view is often traced to Plato, but it is too crude. As Plato himself recognised, philosophers need to present their ideas in persuasive form if they are to gain acceptance, and there are uses of rhetoric that can further our commitment to truth rather than frustrate it. The power of an effective speaker to captivate an audience is apt to arouse our suspicion in democratic politics, yet we should also acknowledge that the practice of rhetoric can serve a civic purpose. The real question here is what distinguishes good rhetoric from bad rhetoric.

Plato was deeply interested in this question. Although a concern for truth pervades his thought, this is not the main or the most important problem he has with rhetoric in his dialogues. To understand Plato’s critique, we need to read it against the backdrop of a deep mistrust of persuasive speaking that he shared with his contemporaries following Athens’ loss of the Peloponnesian War against Sparta in the late fifth century BCE. Apart from the huge death toll and casualties suffered by the city, the loss had a monumental impact on the Athenian psyche. In the Laws, usually regarded as Plato’s last work, he has his Athenian Visitor state that ‘[E]very Greek takes it for granted that my city loves talk and does a great deal of it, whereas Sparta is a city of few words, and Crete practices cunning more than talk.’

No doubt there were many factors that contributed to Athens’ loss of the war, but if there is one thing we can point to above all, it is the fact that the Athenian people themselves were persuaded by charismatic statesmen and generals of the period to undertake a series of disastrous military campaigns. As many writers – historians, tragedians and comedians alike – would lament during and after the war, it was in large part the Athenians’ ‘love of talk’ that led to their defeat.

Athens’ downfall provides us with a cautionary tale in our own era. While it would be wrong to reject a persuasive speech simply because the speaker fails to belong to our preferred political party, it would be equally wrong to think that we should accept every speech that strikes us as persuasive. Adolf Hitler’s Nuremberg Rallies of the 1920s and ’30s were highly effective propaganda tools in consolidating power for the Nazi Party and influencing the views of the German people, but the wider effects of his ability to fabricate a redeemed Germany were devastating for the country. The principle here is simple: good rhetoric is not reducible to persuasive rhetoric. Persuasion might often be the goal of the rhetorician, but if rhetoric is to serve some civic good, it must serve the people on whom it operates. Plato was the first to observe that persuasion cannot in fact be the proper end of rhetoric, since it is an open question how it serves the interests of an audience to have their views influenced by a persuasive speech.

In his Gorgias and the Phaedrus, Plato therefore takes a different approach to the value of rhetoric. Together, these two works put forward a comprehensive theory of when and how a persuasive speech qualifies as good rhetoric. The Gorgias is best interpreted as a critique of the conventional practice of rhetoric. In this dialogue, Socrates argues that the chief purpose of conventional rhetoric is not (properly speaking) persuasion, but flattery. His point is that the practice of persuasive speaking typically achieves its effects by satisfying the pleasures and desires of an audience…




Beware the Dogs of War: Is the American Empire on the Verge of Collapse?

by John W. Whitehead, Guest, Waking Times

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes… known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. — James Madison

Waging endless wars abroad (in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and now Syria) isn’t making America—or the rest of the world—any safer, it’s certainly not making America great again, and it’s undeniably digging the U.S. deeper into debt.

In fact, it’s a wonder the economy hasn’t collapsed yet.

Indeed, even if we were to put an end to all of the government’s military meddling and bring all of the troops home today, it would take decades to pay down the price of these wars and get the government’s creditors off our backs. Even then, government spending would have to be slashed dramatically and taxes raised.

You do the math.

The government is $19 trillion in debt: War spending has ratcheted up the nation’s debt. The debt has now exceeded a staggering $19 trillion and is growing at an alarming rate of $35 million/hour and $2 billion every 24 hours.  Yet while defense contractors are getting richer than their wildest dreams, we’re in hock to foreign nations such as Japan and China (our two largest foreign holders at $1.13 trillion and $1.12 trillion respectively).

The Pentagon’s annual budget consumes almost 100% of individual income tax revenue. If there is any absolute maxim by which the federal government seems to operate, it is that the American taxpayer always gets ripped off, especially when it comes to paying the tab for America’s attempts to police the globe. Having been co-opted by greedy defense contractors, corrupt politicians and incompetent government officials, America’s expanding military empire is bleeding the country dry at a rate of more than $57 million per hour.

The government has spent $4.8 trillion on wars abroad since 9/11, with $7.9 trillion in interest: That’s a tax burden of more than $16,000 per American. Almost a quarter of that debt was incurred as a result of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and Syria. For the past 16 years, these wars have been paid for almost entirely by borrowing money from foreign nations and the U.S. Treasury. As the Atlantic points out, we’re fighting terrorism with a credit card. According to the Watson Institute for Public Affairs at Brown University, interest payments on what we’ve already borrowed for these failed wars could total over $7.9 trillion by 2053.

The government lost more than $160 billion to waste and fraud by the military and defense contractors: With paid contractors often outnumbering enlisted combat troops, the American war effort dubbed as the “coalition of the willing” has quickly evolved into the “coalition of the billing,” with American taxpayers forced to cough up billions of dollars for cash bribes, luxury bases, a highway to nowhere, faulty equipment, salaries for so-called “ghost soldiers,” and overpriced anything and everything associated with the war effort, including a $640 toilet seat and a $7600 coffee pot.

Taxpayers are being forced to pay $1.4 million per hour to provide U.S. weapons to countries that can’t afford them. As Mother Jones reports, the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Finance program “opens the way for the US government to pay for weapons for other countries—only to ‘promote world peace,’ of course—using your tax dollars, which are then recycled into the hands of military-industrial-complex corporations.”

The U.S. government spends more on wars (and military occupations) abroad every year than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety. In fact, the U.S. spends more on its military than the eight highest-ranking nations with big defense budgets combined. The reach of America’s military empire includes close to 800 bases in as many as 160 countries, operated at a cost of more than $156 billion annually. As investigative journalist David Vine reports, “Even US military resorts and recreation areas in places like the Bavarian Alps and Seoul, South Korea, are bases of a kind. Worldwide, the military runs more than 170 golf courses.”

Now President Trump wants to increase military spending by $54 billion. Promising “an historic increase in defense spending to rebuild the depleted military of the United States,” Trump has made it clear where his priorities lie, and it’s not with the American taxpayer. As The Nation reports, “On a planet where Americans account for 4.34 percent of the population, US military spending accounts for 37 percent of the global total.”

Add in the cost of waging war in Syria (with or without congressional approval), and the burden on taxpayers soars to more than $11.5 million a day. Ironically, while presidential candidate Trump was vehemently opposed to the U.S. use of force in Syria, as well as harboring Syrian refugees within the U.S., he had no problem retaliating against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on behalf of Syrian children killed in a chemical attack. The cost of launching a 59 Tomahawk missile-strike against Syria? It’s estimated that the missiles alone cost $60 million. Mind you, this is the same man, while campaigning for president, who warned that fighting Syria would signal the start of World War III against a united Syria, Russia and Iran. Already oil prices have started to climb as investors anticipate an extended conflict.

Clearly, war has become a huge money-making venture, and the U.S. government, with its vast military empire, is one of its best buyers and sellers…


About the Author
Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute, where this article (When Government Evil Triumphs, Freedom Falls) was originally published. He is the author of A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State and The Change Manifesto.