Archive for March, 2013

On Homophobia

by Jason Stotts

I think the topic of homophobia is fascinating, because I think all too many people misunderstand what homophobia means.  Most dictionary and common-use definitions consider “homophobia” to be a fear of, or aversion to, homosexuals.  I, however, don’t think that’s quite right.

I think the term “homophobia” is great.  It is a combination of Greek homo- standing in for “homosexual” and  –phobia, which is Greek for fear.  Homosexuality is, of course, desire or attraction for a person of the same sex.  Actually, what homosexuality is, is a very interesting discussion in it’s own right.  Is it a kind of person or a disposition for action?  Is it primarily about a person’s attractions?  Is it about the kind of person they could imagine themselves being in a relationship with?  Is a person always right about their sexual orientation?  But, we’re going to leave those questions aside for now.

Returning to homophobia, I think the term is great because it denotes a fear of homosexuals.  What sets me apart from most people, though, is that I think of this quite differently.  I think that homophobia is a fear that the subject themself might be gay, not that they are afraid of gay people. Let me elaborate.  I think that when a person is feeling homophobic, and there is no doubt that this is often triggered by an external source or event, but the true object of the fear is not this external source. Rather, it is the fear that the person who has the fear is himself gay.  So, for example, let’s say John sees two guys holding hands, and perhaps kissing, and John feels homophobic, I think that the actual source of John’s fear and anger is a latent, perhaps repressed, thought that John, himself, might be gay.  Although John might be thinking “Look at those two faggots, I can’t believe they would do that in public!”  His vehemence is actually coming from the thought “I wonder…what would it be like to kiss a guy or fool around with one?”, recognizing that this thought is “inappropriate” for him, quickly repressing it in order to maintain his self-identity, and then reacting with anger and fear to the object that provoked the thought, since reacting to the thought itself would be psychologically untenable for him, since he couldn’t have possibly had that thought.  He’s straight, after all, he couldn’t possibly want to do things with men.

The point is that I think the object of the fear is not external to the person, contrary to their beliefs, but rather that the object of the fear in homophobia is a person’s own desires and fears about their desires.  In some ways I think this is similar to the reason that some people fear legalizing marijuana or other illicit drugs: the fact that it is illicit is the only reason that the person is not engaging in the activity and they know that they want to, so they need someone else to tell them it’s wrong and prevent them from doing it.  If it weren’t prohibited or illicit, then they might just go ahead and partake in the drugs or the homosexuality.  They lack the will to control themselves, so they feel like them must be controlled by others.

This is further compounded by the ideas that we “are” a certain sexual orientation, that this identity is a large part of our overall identity, and that our orientation is fixed, inflexible, and unchanging.  I am straight, or bi, or gay and I will always be that way because part of who I am is to be gay or straight or bi.  That’s how we conceive of ourselves in our culture and that’s just the way it is.  Yet, that’s not the way it’s always been and it’s not the way it’s been in all cultures.  As I alluded to earlier, some cultures thought of homosexuality and heterosexuality as categories of actions and not categories of people.  Thus, I am not gay when I fellate another man, but the fellation is homosexual.  The difference is in the object of the homosexuality: is it me as a person or is it the thing I’m doing.  It makes no small difference.  If I’m a homosexual, then homosexuality is part of who I am.  If simply some acts I do are homosexual, then I am not constrained by the category of homosexuality, it is simply a descriptor for some of the things I do.  There is a whole world of difference here.

If I am “a homosexual,” that category of identification will act to norm my behavior in some ways.  This effect might be pronounced, but it might also be a subtle psychological effect.  If I am straight and what it means to be straight is to never have an attraction for another man, then I can’t let myself have an attraction to another man, because that’s not part of what it is to be straight, and I am straight, therefore I don’t have an attraction to another man.  If I were to have an attraction to another man, I’d have to work to repress it, as it would violate my sense of identity: I’m not gay, so I can’t have gay thoughts.  Actually, it must not actually be me having a gay thought, since I’m straight, it must have been those gays putting gay thoughts in my head, since straight men can’t have attractions to other men. So I don’t have to worry about my own heterosexuality.  It’s not me that’s the problem: it’s those damn men kissing in public.

You see what happens here?  Our category of identity traps us into its mold and this mold helps to shape our thoughts and behaviors.  In this case, it is very much the person’s identification of himself as heterosexual and his belief about what heterosexuality is and isn’t that is causing his fear and anger.  If, for example, he were to have thought of heterosexuality and homosexuality as categories of actions and not of people, and thus didn’t rigidly designate his own sexuality and bound his thoughts and behavior by it, then he would not have been afraid of what the possible interest in other men meant and he wouldn’t have reacted with anger.

So, perhaps we should say that homophobia at the end of the day is a fear of being the same as something that you find repugnant. And the more you try to push it away in yourself, the more militant you will be about it in others.

This is all I have to say on this topic for now, but I encourage you to think about how you conceive of sexual orientation and how that impacts your self-identity and action.

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How to Fake an Orgasm

by Jason Stotts

I don’t recommend faking orgasms, but if you’re going to, you’ll need this instructional video.

CollegeHumor’s Favorite Funny Videos

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Same-Sex Marriage and the Supreme Court

by Jason Stotts

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I’ve been busy getting the podcast together and getting ready for another interview with Radically Candid today.  However, I want everyone to know (like you wouldn’t already know this), that Erosophia fully supports same-sex marriage and will continue to fight the philosophical battles related to same-sex marriage and just gays being treated like real people with real rights.

We’ve come a long way, but there is still a long battle ahead (no matter which way SCOTUS rules).

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Shane

 by Jason Stotts

This is an essay I wrote almost exactly a decade ago about the novel Shane.  I only bring it up now because I was thinking recently about the similarities between Shane and The Walking Dead, where a man named Shane also helps a couple with a young boy who idolizes Shane and a mother who has sex with him.

Some of you may be interested in seeing a very old essay and the  great differences in my writing.  Also, some of you may be interested to see that I’ve always been: 1. a smart-ass about writing assignments I thought were silly and 2. interested in sex.

There have been no alterations to the essay, it is the exact same as I turned in for an “A” 10 years ago.

—–

Jason Stotts
Dr. Wanat
FYS 101-05
Textual Analysis Essay #1
Final Draft
2/17/03

When Being Helpful Goes Too Far

While the novel Shane has been hailed as an “exceptional novel”[1] and “a classic,”[2] many people who read it are unaware of the underlying complexity that the novel truly possesses.  While the characters and situations in this novel may appear to be purely straightforward and simple, they are actually quite intricate.  The best example of this complexity is the issue of Marian’s “infidelity”.  While Shane may have been the “man” Joe needed to help around the farm and deal with the rancher Fletcher, Shane may have been more “helpful” than Joe anticipated.  Throughout the novel, there are very strong indications of an affair between Marian Starrett and Shane.  However, the relationship remains indistinct all the way through the novel since the narrator is a child.  The narrator, Bob Starrett, is a young boy who idolizes both Shane and his parents.  His youth and adoration for the adults renders him unable to see their faults or understand exactly how they relate to one another.  This obviously leads to great ambiguity surrounding the issue of Marian’s infidelity.

While the affair remains ambiguous throughout the novel, many passages of the novel serve to strongly support the impression.   The first indication of a possible liaison between Marian and Shane occurs early in the novel.  Bob notices that as Shane was talking to Marian, “Mother gave what in a girl I would have called a giggle.”[3]  She seems to be flirting with Shane in front of her husband and son.  In the next chapter, Marian modifies her clothing to Shane’s specifications and demands attention from both Joe and Shane.  Bob describes her at this point by saying that “She was the freshest, prettiest thing I had ever seen.”[4]  She seems to make more of an effort to cook and look pretty after Shane arrives, and Bob seems to notice this.  What Bob does not notice, however, is the very overt hints that Marian lets slip.  While they are talking in the kitchen, as Joe and Shane are chopping on the stump, Bob says “[…]I was scared of whatever it was that might happen,” to which Marian replies “I think I understand[…]He’s made me feel a little that way too.”[5]  Marian is very clearly articulating her fear of what she might do with Shane.  She follows this by saying “I hope Joe knows what he’s doing,”[6] meaning  she hopes that Joe realizes what he is doing by allowing her and Shane to spend time together.

After Joe and Shane have uprooted the stump and Shane has accepted the position of farm hand at the Starretts, Joe says, “We’ve got ourselves a man.”[7]  He does not use the word “hand” as Shane does, but instead the word “man”, as if to say that Shane will fulfill more duties around the farm than a regular hand might be able to.  Sensing that this may have been a loaded statement, Marian asks, “What kind of work can a man like that do?”[8]  She seems to realize at this point that Joe may purposely be bringing Shane in to fulfill the “Man’s” role in the family and everything that that entails.  Joe answers her question by saying that “He’s my kind of a man.”[9]  Joe knows what may happen between Marian and Shane and he does not seem opposed to it.  A little later in the novel, Shane approaches Marian when there is no one around in order to have a private conversation with her.  Marian starts by saying “I’ve been wanting to talk to you when Joe wasn’t around.”[10]  While Marian is speaking. Shane is regarding her “with a tenderness in his eyes he had for no one else.”[11]  The conversation continues and Shane asks Marian if she needs him as well, she replies to this “Yes.  It’s only fair to say it.  I need you too.”[12]  She is telling him, in a very direct manner, that she needs him to fulfill a role in her life that her husband is unable to handle.  She “needs” him (sexual innuendo intended).  Shane considers her gravely and asks her if she is aware of what she is asking.  She tells him “You’ve got to stay[…]no matter how hard it is for us.”  When she says “us” here, she does not mean the homesteaders and their fight against Fletcher, instead she means between herself and Shane.  She is telling him that he cannot leave her yet, no matter how hard it becomes for them to keep their affair a secret from everybody.

After the fight in the store, as Marian is cleaning the wound on Shane’s head, Bob watches an important scene unfold.  He describes the scene thus:

It pained him plenty as the warm water soaked into the gash under the matted hair and as she washed the clotted blood from his cheek.  But it seemed to pain her more, for her hand shook at the worst moments, and she was the one who flinched while he sat there quietly and smiled reassuringly at her.  Father came in and sat by the stove, watching them.  He pulled out his pipe and made a very careful business of packing it and lighting it.[13]

In the scene, it is quite apparent whom Marian cares more about, since she treats Shane before she even treats her own husband Joe.

After she treats Shane, she stands in the middle of the kitchen, looking from one of the men to the other.  She is obviously torn between them.  She looks at Shane and tells him “You were so cool and quick and…and dangerous and…”[14]  She is so impressed with Shane she has to stammer out what she feels for him.  Next, her voice starts climbing and she looks back and forth between the two men, losing control of herself:  “Did ever a woman have two such men?”[15]  She is very upset because she knows that she has two great men now, but that she cannot keep them both.  They realize this and it really shows as the story continues with the two men staring at her and then at each other in that adult knowledge that was “beyond Bob’s understanding.”  Shane rose and stepped over by Marian; he put a hand gently on her head, and then walked quietly out the door into the night.

After Shane leaves, Marian and Joe finally directly talk about the affair.  Joe starts by saying “Do you think I don’t know, Marian?”[16]  He directly asks her whether she thinks that he doesn’t know about their affair, to which she replies “But you don’t. Not really.  You can’t.  Because I don’t know myself.”[17]  She attempts to cover for herself by saying that since she is unsure of her own feelings, it is not infidelity.  Joe tells her “Don’t fret yourself, Marian.  I’m man enough to know a better when his trail meets mine.  Whatever happens will be all right.[18]”  Joe is flat-out telling her that if she wants to have an affair with Shane, she can.  At this point Marian breaks down and says “Oh, Joe…Joe!  Kiss me.  Hold me tight and don’t ever let go.”[19]  She wants to stay with Joe, but at the same time a large part of her would much rather have Shane and all he represents.

When Wilson kills Ernie Wright and all of the homesteaders gather at the Starretts, Bob notices that Marian had little attention for any of the other men, “She was just watching Shane.”[20]  After Wilson and Fletcher influence Joe to fight, Joe tells his family “Things could be worse.  It helps a man to know that if anything happens to him, his family will be in better hands than his own.”[21]  Joe is telling them that he doesn’t expect to win this fight, but he knows that Shane will continue in the role as the man of the family and protect Marian and Bob.  Although it seems that the only reason Joe is really saying this is to motivate Shane to fight in his stead.  After Joe says this, Shane gets up and quickly exits the house.  Bob watches as “mother was up and after him, running headlong.  She stopped abruptly at the house corner, clutching at the wood, panting and irresolute.  Slowly she came back, her hands outstretched as if to keep from falling.  She sank again on the step, close to father, and he gathered her to him with one great arm.”[22]  It is obvious that she really wants to choose Shane, but in the end felt she must return to Joe and her family.  At this point Joe says “I’m counting on you, Marian, to help him win again.  You can do it, if anyone can.” While speaking, he smiles a strange little sad smile.[23]  He is telling Marian to “influence” him to help them, by whatever means necessary.  It seems that Joe has had a change of heart and now wants his wife back and Shane to go to the fight in his place.  This would end both of his problems, insofar as it would get rid of Shane and Fletcher at the same time.

Falling right into Joe’s plan, Shane takes it upon himself to do the honorable thing and protect the Starretts.  Accordingly, Shane pistol-whips Joe so that Joe will not try to stop him; little does Shane know that Joe did not intend to try to stop him. After Shane pistol-whips Joe, he talks to Marian in a moment that was all their own.  Marian asks him “But there is something else I must know.  We have battered down words that might have been spoken between us and that was as it should be.  But I have a right to know now.  I am part of this, too.  And what I do depends on what you tell me now.  Are you doing this just for me?”[24]  She is telling Shane that the time for secrecy in their affair is over and that they can speak freely about it.  She wants to know if she is the only reason that he was doing this or whether he is doing it to be honorable and help the homesteaders too.  Shane hesitated for a long, long moment before finally answering, “No, Marian.”[25]  It is apparent that she is the real reason, but he does not want her to feel guilty about that.  After the final confrontation, at the very end of the story, Marian says, “See, Joe.  See what I mean.  We have roots here now that we can never tear loose.”[26] She is implying that only after Shane do they have roots and that now they will be able to stay.

While the affair between Marian and Shane is never made explicit during the novel, there can be no doubt that it transpires.  Schaefer makes too many references to the affair in Shane for it to be otherwise.  The affair serves to add a depth to the novel that it would have otherwise lacked; it makes the characters more vibrant and life-like.  The complexity that the affair adds also serves to make the book a classic that can be read and enjoyed by many people on different levels.  Although some may say that the affair does not take place, it clearly exists and plays a role in the novel.


[1] Statement appears on back of novel.

[2] Statement also appears on back of novel.

[3] Page 77

[4] Page 95

[5] Page 98

[6] Page 98

[7] Page 118

[8] Page 119

[9] Page 119

[10] Page 175

[11] Page 176

[12] Page 176

[13] Pages 200-201

[14] Page 201

[15] Page 202

[16] Page 203

[17] Page 203

[18] Page 203

[19] Page 203

[20] Page 215

[21] Page 238

[22] Page 239

[23] Page 239

[24] Page 245

[25] Page 245

[26] Page 271, Emphasis added on the word ‘now’ in the quotation.

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Erosophia Podcast #4: Circumcision

Podcast_Cover

In this episode of the newly relaunched Erosophia Podcast, Jason, William, Devin, and Joia talk about circumcision.

News

1. Rape case in Ohio

2. Kansas’s Strip Clubs

3. Sentencing of the “Cannibal Cop”

Follow-Up Questions

“Do you think that there certain sex acts, or certain aspects of sex acts, that are naturally dominant and submissive? I think there’s an extent to which putting someone’s sex organs in your mouth, or accepting a penis into your anus or between your breasts, or (especially) having someone ejaculate onto your face are acts that are by their very nature submissive acts.

I would be very interested to hear/read more discussion as to whether I am right that acts such as these are by their nature dominant/submissive, and the implications of this on gender roles and sexuality. For example, we know that Ayn Rand’s depiction of heterosexual relationships in her fiction is very focused on a male dominant/female submissive type of relationships, and I know that you do not entirely agree with this idea, but is there anything to be made of the fact that most of the acts I listed above would follow that male dominant/female submissive pattern in a heterosexual relationship?”

Books referenced: Greek Homosexuality by K. J. Dover.

If you want to ask a question, contact us at Podcast@JasonStotts.com or on twitter via @ErosPod.

Tonight’s Big Topic: Circumcision

Tonight we talk about circumcision and whether it could be moral and if it should be legal.

Books referenced: Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha

Essay referenced: Objectivism, Masculinity, Femininity, and Homosexuality: Initial Thoughts

Subscribe to the Podcast

You can subscribe via iTunes or RSS.

Support the Podcast

You can support the show by making a donation via PayPal (see bar to the right) or Amazon Payment (or any other payment method you might want, just get in touch with us).  You can also use Erosophia’s referral link to Amazon to buy things.  You can sign up for Kasidie, the best lifestyle site on the web.  Or you can tell your friends and spread the word about the podcast.

If you want to advertise on the Erosophia Podcast, please contact us at Jason@JasonStotts.com or on twitter via @ErosPod.

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Polysexuality and Cultural Acceptability

by Jason Stotts

I linked to an article the other day on Scientific American that said:

On Valentine’s Day, images of couples are everywhere. They’re buying each other diamond rings, making eyes over expensive restaurant meals and canoodling over chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne. But two-by-two isn’t the only way to go through life. In fact, an estimated 4 to 5 percent of Americans are looking outside their relationship for love and sex — with their partner’s full permission.

Think about that for just a minute. Let’s focus on just this part: “an estimated 4 to 5 percent of Americans [are polysexual].”  Four or five percent.  The current US population (according to the US Census for July 2012) is 313,914,040 people, 313 million people.  So, that means there are 12,556,562 to 15,695,702 people who are actively polysexual in the United States!  And that number is sure to be dramatically underreported as fears about privacy and shame keep people from honestly reporting.  If you put all those polysexual people in one state it would be the 5th most populated state in the US.

You know what’s a shame?  That those 5% of the US population, those 1 in 20 people feel ashamed at their desires and feel like they will be rejected by society at large.  They feel like they need to hide their real selves and their real desires so as not to be shunned by our society.  What’s really a shame is that these 5% of people are the ones acting most naturally according to our human nature.  We are a naturally polysexual species and if it weren’t for the judeo-islamic-christian hatred of the body, then more people would feel free to be themselves and act according to their nature.

Consider a contrast case.  Most estimates put the homosexual population of the US around 3.5%.  Think about that for a minute.  What was life like in the US for the gay population in the 50’s?  What is it like now?  What’s the difference between the gay population now and the polysexual population now?  There are more polysexuals, so it’s not that.  The difference is that some brave gays stood up and fought to be recognized as real people.  They fought against the religious hatred and mysticism and fought to be recognized as a normal and natural sexual orientation (which it is).

Why not the polysexuals?  There are more polysexuals than gay people (although, admittedly  there is definitely overlap between the populations).  Why can’t the polysexual population stand up and say: “We are not ashamed of our sexuality!”  All the movement needs is a charismatic leader who is willing to be the face of the movement and who can argue clearly why polysexual is both natural and normal and nothing to be ashamed about.

Frankly, I think it’s time that polysexual people stop hiding in their closets and come out to their friends and families about their lifestyles.  If 1 in 20 people came out, there would be no stopping the movement.  Even if you don’t think you know someone who is polysexual, if you know more than 20 people, the you definitely do.  It’s time that we end this crazy puritanical fear about sex and started living our lives in whatever way works best for us without any fear or shame.

A world where people can sexually be themselves is a world I want to live in.

—————-

See also my related essay: Sexuality and Privacy

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College Basketball Star Heroically Overcomes Tragic Rape He Committed

by Jason Stotts

I love The Onion: their satire is brilliant and often scathing.  I’m aslo impressed at how quickly they can get their videos together.

 


College Basketball Star Heroically Overcomes Tragic Rape He Committed

 

In case you don’t get this, you should watch the news more often (or click here).

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On Companionate Marriages

by Jason Stotts

There are lots of different kinds of marriages, and I don’t just mean same-sex marriages, poly-marriages, and other “non-traditional” marriages.  There are different ways to have just “regular” old marriages between two people.  One kind of marriage is a romantic marriage where two partners intertwine their lives and share a high level of intimacy and sexuality.  Another option is the oppositional marriage, where two people cohabitate, but are always fighting each other.  There are many other style of marriages, but the one I want to focus on here is the companionate marriage.

A companionate marriage is one where two people cohabitate and might share even a high level of intimacy, but have little to no sexual contact.  This kind of marriage looks like it’s between two companions, or friends, who just happen to be married.  It can result from mutual agreement or from one person not being interested in sex.  Regardless, the defining characteristic is the fact that the partners have little to no sexual interaction, even though they might have a high degree of intimacy.

A companionate marriage works well when it’s to the mutual agreement of both partners.  In that case, where the partners just aren’t interested in sex, this kind of relationship lets the partners have all the parts of a relationship they want without any of the parts they don’t.  Unfortunately, though, companionate marriages are much more commonly due to one partner not being interested in sex, much to the chagrin of the other partner.  This presents an insurmountable problem in our culture: marriage is between one man and one woman and they can only have sex with each other.  So, the usual solution is to divorce and throw away all the good parts of the marriage in order for the partners to find other partners with whom they are sexually compatible.  Sadly, if their marriage was otherwise good, this doesn’t always go well.  A good relationship is hard to achieve and it’s common for people who leave companionate marriages to end up in relationships that are more sexually satisfying, but less emotionally satisfying.

What if, however, there was another answer?  What if a person could maintain their companionate marriage and all of the positive values it brings and also have a satisfying sex life? Obviously, this can be done if we throw away the monogamy requirement.  In fact, the emphasis on monogamy is nowhere as destructive as it is in this particular situation.  If a couple in a companionate marriage were to open their relationship, they could maintain their intimacy and the good parts of their marriage and, at the same time, both partners could have the kind of sex lives they want.  The person who wants little to no sex could continue having that with their original partner (or, if they wanted, another partner; although this isn’t likely given their inclinations) and the person who wasn’t sexually satisfied would be free to pursue more satisfying sexual encounters with others.  This could be done on a purely sexual level or it could evolve into polyamory, depending on what the couple wanted to do.  Through removing the monogamy requirement, the couple can end up having the best of both worlds.

Unfortunately, sometimes the partner who is less interested in sex won’t understand the desires of their partner who is more interested in sex and won’t want to open their relationship or engage in sex more frequently.  Sadly, often in our culture, with its christian taint, the person who was less interested in sex will take the moral high-ground and decry the sexuality of their partner and they can hold them hostage: neither having sex with them nor letting them satisfy their desires elsewhere.  This, I think, is completely unacceptable.  Sex is an important part of a human life and a person should not have to go without sex and its pleasures in order to conform to a cultural requirement whose only basis is superstition from an old book.  This is the situation I had in mind when I wrote “The Importance of Sexual Satisfaction.”  Sex is a normal and important part of a human life and a person should not have to suffer its deprivation.  In fact, lots of studies have shown that not having sex can actually lead to all sorts of illnesses including cancer, while having sex improves both our moods and our health.  Forcing your partner to go without sex literally harms them.

If our culture were more sex-positive, then answer here is obviously non-monogamy.  However, even in our culture, a person can still refuse to give up the moral high ground and should openly talk to their partner about the options.  Realistically there are only two: non-monogamy or dissolving the relationship.  In most cases companionate marriages start out as romantic marriages and slowly evolve over time as passions cool, jobs take precedence, kids are born, etc.  To me it makes no sense to throw away a happy marriage, a stable household, your children’s other parent, your shared past, and all the rest, only for the sake of maintaining monogamy.  And this is why a companionate marriage that is sexually open can be the ideal solution in certain contexts: even if it isn’t the abstract optimal condition, it might still be the best option open in a person’s real life.

So, far from decrying the companionate marriage, I think that the companionate marriage can end up working quite well for some couples, especially if the couple sheds their pre-conceived notions of what a “proper relationship” should look like and they look to their real lives and how to achieve their happiness in the real world.

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