Archive for the ‘ Sex/Gender/Sexuality ’ Category

How Gays Marrying “Threatens” the Institution of Marriage

It has been often claimed, and the claim often ridiculed, that gays marrying threatens the institution of marriage. Proponents of marriage equality seem mystified by this: how could a marriage between two people constitute an attack on somebody else’s marriage? The usual interpretation is that the claim is merely repeated uncritically by bigots seeking to rationalise their bigotry, and this may often be the case. Gay marriage does, however, threaten the concept of marriage which some of its opponents hold, not because of the particular unions between any particular homosexuals, but rather because it represents and reinforces a change that has already taken place. By marrying, gays make it apparent what straight people are already doing, but which many traditionalists never approved of, seek to reject, and have until recently been able to mostly successfully ignore.

Gay couple

Many epistemic shifts have occurred in recent history, radically changing the way in which we conceive of society and relate to one another. Marriage we have come to view as the ratification of a love bond (“I love you, let’s get married!”), instead of as a contractual agreement geared toward the production of families. However it is conceived of, a particular marriage may or may not involve romantic love, and may or may not lead to the production of a “family,” and this remains true no matter what gender(s) the participants usually find sexually attractive: the transition has been in the perceived purpose of marriage. This transition has already taken place, but incompletely: one married couple I know chose each other largely arbitrarily, believing that marriage ought not to be predicated on a prior love relationship which is likely to change over time: a shaky foundation to be sure, absolute and eternal as it may feel. Indeed, many Christians (and others) were never part of the (mostly big city) culture in which the shift largely took place, or else have chosen to resist it. These are people who would balk at the notion that a couple would divorce because they don’t love each other anymore. The way we date and have sex (for pleasure!?) is shocking to them… but they don’t have to see it, and can go on mostly pretending it isn’t happening, that their way is the official, proper way.

Of course, once we began to see marriage as the recognition of love between two people, gay marriage became a logical necessity. If marriage is about love, then anyone who loves should be able to marry (unless lack of consent or other factors should intervene). But by legally recognising same sex unions, we entrench in law what was previously subtle: just as gay marriage follows naturally from the transition, so recognition of the transition follows naturally from legal gay marriage. No longer does the movement toward romantic love as the basis of marriage merely inhere in the practices and beliefs of some or even most couples; now it’s official, and part of the same legal framework that purports to grant legitimacy also to the marriages of the traditionalists. It has become obvious: the majority of contemporary marriages, hetero or otherwise, are radically removed from the “traditional” conception of marriage. This revelation has devastating consequences for the symbol systems of those who still hold to a different tradition, and until now thought that the legal system was an extension of their values. It is not. They do not control our ideas, or our definitions, or our behaviours. And they never really did, but now they can’t even pretend anymore.


This is almost the same reason why some parents are uncomfortable with their children’s friends dating someone of the same sex. So long as their child is dating someone of the opposite sex, they can play a “don’t ask, don’t tell” game where they secretly know they’re having sex, and that they probably won’t marry, but the possibility remains that they might be working toward the production of a new reproductive marital unit. With a gay couple that isn’t seen as a possibility, so the same strategy of wilful ignorance no longer applies, and the fact that they’re really in it for something other than reproduction is revealed not just for the gay couple, but for all couples within the cultural group, some of whom may jump to the defence of the gay couple, proving what their parents feared. Thus, the gay couples are threatening, not because they’re different, but because they’re the same as the rest of us.

Sex and Drugs

Drugs provide powerful tools for altering consciousness; so does sex. What about combining the two? For many, sex and drugs are separately the most pleasurable experiences they know, and in combination they can be even more powerful. This article explores a few of the reasons why the two are sometimes combined and a discussion of various advantages and disadvantages.

Psychedelic Sex Blast


A lot of us are really conflicted when it comes to sex. Sometimes because of guilt or past traumas and associations we want to do something on one level but on some other level we’ve got a mental block that keeps us from following through with it. People in this situation may turn to an inebriant to help “loosen up” and do what they secretly want, or to overcome social anxieties, making it easier to find a partner. For a lot of people this can be an important part of getting sex to happen at all, but it comes with a tradeoff: if you’re fucked up, chances are your performance is going to be impaired.

Alcohol’s the obvious case study here. Some people find a glass or two of wine makes them tingly and sensitive, but drink too much and it impairs motor control and dulls sensation, so drunk sex usually doesn’t feel nearly as good as sober sex. It can also make consent even more complicated than usual. You may be drinking to loosen up, but what do you do when someone is pushing your limits and you’re too drunk or high to know how to respond? Make sure you think about your limits beforehand: what are you okay with doing, and with whom? It may be good to have a friend who knows your limits watching out for you so that you don’t end up doing something you’ll regret. Also remember that some people may give booze or other drugs to make you more likely to sleep with them. Avoid bad situations, watch how much you take, and don’t tolerate this kind of douchey behaviour; if your friend tries to get someone drunk so they’ll “consent,” call them on it. Not cool.

Note that within this is the implication that inebriation can be used to surge past limits into experiences of wild abandon. Just remember that Dionysus is god of wine and orgies, but he’s also insane.


Enhancement has two sides:  improving your performance and improving your experience. Exactly what it is you feel needs improving and what you would consider to be an improvement will change what is appropriate here, such that two things that can separately be seen as improvements might be antithetical. For example, hashish might help you make intimately connected, passionate love, whereas amphetamines might help you fuck the shit out of each other. Which is it you want, if either? (I don’t mean to imply a dichotomy here, by the way! Just that you should consider your intentions carefully)

Stimulants like coke and crystal can lead to really intense, hard fucking, as you’ll be energetic, impatient and won’t get tired as easily. As hot as that can be, the harder you fuck, the more likely that you’ll hurt yourself or your partner. Cuts and tears make it much more likely to transmit infections like HIV, and coming down hard at the wrong angle can literally break a penis! Use lots of lube, and change condoms if it’s taking a long time. Getting your heart rate up too high can lead to a heart attack or stroke, especially if you also took Viagra — and many drugs can make it hard (hehe) to get an erection or to achieve orgasm, even if it feels great. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with taking a breather and drinking some water, and if you can’t cum, that’s fine: don’t force it

Cannabis, on the other hand, makes sensations more intense, and causes us to get really into whatever it is we happen to be doing. So if we’re running, running becomes more pleasurable and we can keep going longer, or if we’re sitting around on the couch it can be hard to be motivated to do anything. Applied to sex, that means we usually have less desire to initiate sex if stoned — so it’s not true that pot is an aphrodisiac. However, if sex is initiated, it can make it much more intense, so we get really into it and stay into it for longer — just like how it effects us when we go running. Unlike stimulants which make us fuck harder, pot will often make slow fucking feel that much better. Many women have reported that they’re only able to orgasm when stoned!


Sex by itself can be psychedelic: soul revealing, ego-destroying and triggering of deep insight. Mixing sex and psychedelic drugs can amplify both and be one of the most unbelievably intense things imaginable. If you Google around you’ll find many awesome stories of experiences so profound that you’ll probably be envious and want to try them yourself. Don’t!

Taking a powerful psychedelic with a lover and having sex sounds like an awesome plan on paper, but in practice it can be incredibly awkward, because once you come up, who knows how you’ll be feeling… these drugs are so powerful that they can easily overwhelm us and make it so that sex simply isn’t on our minds at all, whatever our intentions may have been. What’s worse, because of the way they can activate and amplify latent psychological processes, a bad sexual experience while tripping could be incredibly traumatising, and in the moment you might be completely incapable of expressing to your partner what it is you’re going through.

The truth is that sex on psychedelics can be totally amazing: ego boundaries dissolve and you fuse into one another, transformed into archetypal, primal energies, transpersonal divine beings of infinite beauty and love, pleasures upon pleasures unfolding into secrets of Ultimate Reality. If you ever get into that sort of space with somebody, count yourselves profoundly blessed. But do not expect it, or plan for it. What happens, happens, and that’s okay. 

On any drug, you may end up being too high to go searching for condoms and lube, so if you think you might have sex later (whether or not you’re planning to), be sure to already have everything you need with you before you get high, and don’t forget to have to take care of yourself! Make sure to eat and drink.

Addendum on aphrodisiacs:
The idea of an aphrodisiac is a drug which produces sexual desire where it wasn’t already. Many plants and drugs are claimed to be aphrodisiacs, but few truly occasion new feelings (damiana and bremelanotide are notable exceptions). My approach to aphrodisiacs is to recognise that if we’re unable to get horny, there’s often a somatic problem at the root of it, such as a headache, low energy levels, anxiety or indigestion. Better (and effective!) to treat these problems directly, rather than skipping ahead to a substance specific to getting you to have sex. My favourite aphrodisiac, therefore, is ginseng, which is primarily a stimulating “adaptogen.” Lots of people get randy after taking some… personally it makes me want to dance more than anything, so I usually have some when I go to a party. Energy can be used for lots of things! Ginseng is good for you; it’ll make your headache go away, it’ll help you think more clearly, and, yes, it may help you have more and better sex.

Yet Another White Man’s Burden (Normal: Redux)

Made some revisions to my recent major paper about magic, construction of sex and prostitution. Sharpened it up a little and addressed some  of the critiques people had made. Added a concluding paragraph because apparently people like those, and a couple appendices, because I like those — they let me laugh in the face of length restrictions; Appendix I is about privacy concerns and the erasure of identity. The other I’m including below.

Check it out! I think it’s pretty snazzy.

Appendix II: Yet Another White Man’s Burden

After the first time he had sex with a prostitute, Chester Brown felt that a burden he’d been carrying was lifted and has never returned. This offhanded remark, elaborated on briefly in his appendices, is very important, and is something in which I can easily see myself. The burden he describes is the pressure to initiate sexual interactions with women; it was lifted because, once he paid for it, there was no longer a need to seek it out in other ways. In this appendix, I will be looking not at the act of sex, but its pursuit. In focusing on my and Brown’s experience of difficulties surrounding sexual interactions, I do not mean to imply that ours are somehow worse than those of others. Our privilege as white heterosexual men in Toronto is not in dispute: I merely wish to explore one problem particular to our otherwise very advantaged sexual demographic.

Heterosexual men in this society are in a strange place when it comes to the pursuit of sex. On the one hand, we’re expected to do the “hitting on,” a vague, violent metaphor for “our role” in the mating dance. Many women who might be sexually attracted to us will still very much want us to “make the first move.” On the other hand, we’re vilified for doing so: we’re “pigs” who “only want sex,” and if we “hit on” the wrong person at the wrong time or in the wrong way we’re likely to be labeled as “creepy” and stigmatised, sometimes with disastrous consequences for our reputation and self image. Yet, rather than consensus on what the “right” time or the “right” way might be, we’re faced with many contradictory accounts. If I give the same description of a situation to two of my female friends, asking what they think is the appropriate thing to do, one might tell me to be sexually forward and the other insist that doing so would be invasive and disrespectful. So what are we supposed to do? This is further complicated by an awareness of feminist writing about sexual violence. Very few men wish to think of themselves as violent towards women, and yet most want to think of themselves as sexual towards women. So what to do with arguments from theorists like MacKinnon who suggest that sex is inherently violent?

Clearly men are not collectively paralysed by this. Most of us will proceed anyway in one way or another, evaluating social cues to the best of our ability to determine what is or isn’t appropriate in a given situation and finding ways of seeking out sexual interactions while minimizing the discomfort for everybody involved. Not all of us are always successful at this, nor do all of us even care that much; many men are profoundly inconsiderate, others downright abusive. But some of us both care, and are not always successful at navigating the complexities of social interactions. Some of us even have cognitive disadvantages here.

Aside from being white hetero male writers in Toronto, Chester Brown and I most likely also have something else in common: high functioning but undiagnosed autism-spectrum conditions. Those familiar with such things will likely spot it in Brown right away, in his emotional neutrality (one of his friends describes him as a robot) and atypical response to social cues, as well as in the particulars of his analytic style, but he’s old enough that even had he met all the diagnostic criteria of Asperger’s Syndrome as a child, he would not have been tested or diagnosed. Whether or not he meets the full diagnostic criteria, it’s very likely that he shares some of the key features, and thus is at a particular disadvantage in evaluating the appropriateness of any given social action, or in initiating social interactions and maintaining them without violating conversational expectations more generally. To maintain his self-image as a “good guy,” he then errs on the side of inaction much of the time, which typically precludes the possibility of sexual encounters.

As for my own experience of this, the simplest way to sum up my social philosophy is that I live by the anthropologist’s motto: “homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto:” “I am human, nothing human is alien to me.” No matter how you feel, it’s okay to feel that way – it’s just one way to feel, and we would all do well to strive toward an understanding of as many ways of feeling as possible. Social reality is unfathomably complex, and therefore we ought to be candid about our thoughts and desires rather than taking for granted that simplistic, inherited modes of interaction will be sufficient to inform our behaviours: through honesty we’ll discover compatibilities where they exist, and learn to avoid those interactions that are causing suffering. To me, this formulation makes perfect sense… but social interaction doesn’t generally work out this way. Even if I think I’m being totally candid, somebody may think that I’m implying a whole lot more than I meant to, or through my candour I may speak explicitly about that which they would have preferred to remain coy. Add to this a natural difficulty that comes with autism spectrum disorders to accurately assess whether or not you’re making somebody uncomfortable, and moreover an even larger difficulty guessing exactly why they are uncomfortable if such cues are noticed, and pursuing sexual interactions quickly becomes seriously problematic. Thus, over time, I’ve become more and more hesitant to express myself sexually towards people. Although the number of women with whom I’ve had positive sexual interactions exceeds the number with whom I’ve gotten into a truly awkward situation, the few bad situations have been sufficiently traumatic as to make me afraid of repeating them, and therefore, like Brown, I’ve learned to err on the side of caution. This may be for the best, but when combined with the rest of the above, it leaves me with a strong desire for sex, social expectations that I’ll be the one to seek it out, and the incapacity to actually do so.

Brown evidently used to suffer from the same problem. He mentions various times when women called him “cute” or otherwise reacted positively to him on the street, which perversely resulted in insecurity. Feeling that he may have missed rare opportunities for sex, while at the same time fearing causing discomfort by wrongly assuming that they were okay with being approached sexually, he would endlessly obsess over his inaction: this was his “burden.” This is a regular occurrence for me, and I still haven’t figured out what to do about it. I absolutely do not feel comfortable hitting on somebody simply because they were being friendly toward me… it could mean too many things, and I don’t want to immediately sexualise every encounter. However, I do want to have sex, and I also know that many women do find me attractive, so presumably some of those who are friendly towards me would like me to hit on them. But what ought “hitting on” even consist of, if I’m to transcend the violent model of sex? I have no solution to this right now other than to wait for the “right” situation in which things will seem natural and it will be clear that everybody’s comfort levels are being met. Because I’m young and reasonably attractive, chances are good this will work out for me, but what if I was older and uglier? My refusal to play the game isn’t really much of a solution except for a desirable few, and I don’t know how we as a society can adequately deal with this. Chester Brown claims to have found the solution: by paying for sex, we make the arrangement explicit, and the difficulties of pursuing interactions and assessing appropriateness diminishes remarkably.

I must say, there’s something compelling about his solution. I have never paid for sex, but I’m probably a lot more likely to now that I’ve read his book, and I know I’m not alone in that: a male friend of mine just yesterday told me that reading it made him think of calling an escort. This is what I was describing as sorcery in my essay: through what he wrote, Brown has influenced patterns of social behaviour in non-trivial ways, and brought us closer to the society he envisions. Like anyone else, of course, I have friends who insist that prostitution is always exploitative, but I can’t accept this. If I were to pay for sex right now, the most likely person I’d pay would be a female friend who occasionally escorts and who, due to the nature of our relationship, is likely to be sexual with me at some point in the future even if I don’t pay her. However, she’s very busy, and has other partners, so if I want to sleep with her tonight, not “likely… at some point in the future,” calling her and offering money I know she could use would certainly speed up the process. If I need the sexual release badly enough, why not?

That does not, however, mean that I’m ultimately convinced by Brown’s approach. The world he describes in which paying for sex is seen as normal and common seems completely unrealistic to me… it doesn’t seem to acknowledge the complexity of either social or economic life, particularly in the context of global systems of domination and discrimination, and it exaggerates the agency and independence of the various social actors. That’s not to say it won’t be an excellent solution for some people… it may well be. Though I don’t doubt it was an excellent solution for Brown, it will not be so for everybody. I have no moral qualms about paying for sex, but that doesn’t mean I actually can afford to start doing so, for one thing, and even though I know my friend is not opposed to either sex with me or sex for money, that doesn’t mean that entering into a financial arrangement wouldn’t complicate, even compromise, certain aspects of our friendship. What if I pay once, and then invite her over another time just to eat dinner and hang out? Will she assume I’m going to be paying her, or that I’m after sex? Employer/employee relations can easily become problematically unbalanced. Since we’re both intelligent adults, no doubt we could mitigate such miscommunications by talking it over, but the bottom line is that sex and affection create highly charged spaces which not everybody is equally capable of navigating effectively. Brown’s solution makes that space easier to navigate for one group who otherwise are at a marginal disadvantage: men who lack social skills but have money. Hopefully, as scholarship in gender studies continues to produce material about masculinity, and we do more to collectively negotiate the meaning and value of romantic, intimate and sexual relations, more alternatives for sexual fulfilment will emerge – not just for the privileged, but for everybody.

The Paradox of Normal

This week I wrote a major paper for Feminist Studies in Sexuality, WGS374, a women’s studies course at UofT. I figured, considering the title of the course and its contents, that I should go balls out. It’s about Chester Brown’s new graphic novel, Paying For It. Check it out.

“Nearly everybody who has put any thought into it agrees that the dominant construction of sexuality is problematic: we don’t all agree about what it should be like, but nobody wants it to go on like this. Those who see the extent and systematic nature of violence, dominance and degradation may be wise in taking the most radical position conceivable to them at each moment; if a situation is bad enough, anything you can do to destabilise it could allow the emergence of something better. The tools for this include reflexivity and deconstruction, subversive irony, heterodoxy, drag: anything that will confuse, shock and challenge. Actively resist categorisation, and you cause the categories to shift. This is, however, not Brown’s objective, and these are not his tools. His presentation is minimally challenging and minimally heterodox: his lovers hide all their thousand faces. His politics are simple and straightforward, his representation of sexuality as uncomplicated as his goal: to insert a slight alteration. To revise, not to reject. He wants not to smash an irredeemable patriarchy, but only to shift it in the direction of wisdom, to make it see that prohibition makes things worse for everybody. For prostitution to actually be accepted as completely “normal” seems implausible, but its abnormality hinges on a stigma he has endeavoured to Imagine away, and he has already had some small scale success.”

… seriously, just view the pdf.

I feel like it’s in need of an appendix or two and some revisions, but those will have to wait a week or two. Maybe I’ll do a Normal: Redux in a couple weeks (whoa, one appeared. How about that?).

More  psychedelia next week. My brain was too broken after this endeavour to put effort into a new article this week. Next will be about the concept of Insight — people claim to be receiving insight from using drugs, but what does that even mean? Is it possible?

Keep On Trollin’

Keep On Trollin’: 

 Contemporary heterosexual struggles with female gender presentation: two examples of drag juxtaposed in a popular YouTube video(view or print as PDF)

Ray William Johnson (RWJ) is a comedian with more than two hundred YouTube videos, each with millions of views. His format is simple: each episode discusses three videos which have become very popular (“gone viral”), or otherwise interest him. His commentary tends to be deeply self-referential, “low brow” (fart jokes, sex jokes, self-deprecation, etc), and generally indulges in stereotypes, blatant but self-conscious sexism/racism (making racist comments and then admitting that they’re racist), “your mother” jokes… whatever will entertain people enough to make them watch his videos. He’s also highly tuned in to internet culture, dropping casual references to internet memes both popular and obscure. Because of this, and particularly because of his astounding popularity, I consider him to be as close to an embodiment of the young, cool mainstream as exists. By seeking out and surrounding himself with everything that fascinates people, and by indulging in every stereotype, he serves as a screen for the state of our[1] culture.

Not all of his videos are primarily about sex and gender; I’m just lucky that way: this came out after I’d sat down to write about gender, but before I chose a compelling topic. That said, this video is almost entirely focused on gender construction, and because of RWJ’s willingness to indulge in stereotypes, it’s very revealing of the current mainstream discourse on gender among plugged-in youth. Here’s a “quick” roundup of some of the sex/gender representations in the film.

The title is “GIRLS ARE CRAZY” (often, a man’s behaviour is seen as due to him and a woman’s as due to her gender). The audience is referred to as “guys” and generally assumed to be male. An unusually animated expression on a man is a “rapeface” and signifies him as a molester and/or rapist. Because the man in question is black, his likely victims are “white bitches.” Typical internet behaviour for guys is “Lookin’ for beatin’ material.” A man is initially identified as a girl based on clothing, movement, and serving as an object for male enjoyment. Guys who enjoyed this mimicry prior to knowing the performer’s biological sex are called “so gay.” Being gay is assumed to be something that guys are afraid to be, and of which “having a boner” is evidence (“body… regarded as access to unmediated truth” (MacKinnon, 1989)). Viewers think everyone is either a “douche” or a “fag” (gendered insults used in other than explicitly gendered ways). Our prototype of cool would enjoy the visual stimulation regardless of the actual gender of the performer, but uses the gendered insult “bitch” to demand the subservience and continued objecthood of anyone performing female gender traits. A penis is the default “weirdest part” of a man in drag. Reference to a “tranny bar” (bars are seen as the appropriate place for drag, despite the moustache which makes it highly unlikely that Steve is a “tranny”). RWJ speaks “for everyone” in complimenting Steve’s ass. If a young girl lacks a boyfriend, she feels something must be wrong with her. What guys want is lots of makeup, for her to be tan, to dance for them and to pose in ways that exaggerate sexual characteristics. RWJ calls her “sweetheart,” and suggests she “do the dishes.” Guys are easy to attract. Having a penis is an impediment to this, but it’s still easy. An appropriate response to stupid behaviour is violence directed at male genitalia (note that one of the pictured people when he says this is a woman). “Anywhore” replaces “anyway” and is used as a transition. The girl is recognised as giving a satirical “socio-political performance,” and Johnson compliments her on doing a great job. He then refers to the viewing guys from earlier as gay.

That’s a lot of gender and sexuality for just over 5 minutes worth of video. What I find interesting here is the parallelism between the two instances of drag, by which I mean conscious performance of gender presentation.[2] We have here a juxtaposition of two very similar behaviours: a biological male and a biological female performing certain elements of female gender presentation to a male audience as a form of “trolling” (internet behaviour in which you trick somebody to provoke some form of desired response). And, notably, both are complimented on doing so effectively, although the man is complimented on his ability to be sexually desirable (“nice ass”), and the woman is complimented on the “socio-political” statement she has made. That the man’s performance is also a socio-political statement is not considered, though in the words of Judith Butler, he is certainly “working sexuality against identity.” (Butler, 1993) The contemporary fluctuation in appropriate female gender presentation is revealed in both as inconsistent and tied in with oppression. The binary is assumed, as is men’s desire to watch women show off their bodies and dance. Particular traits – lack of body hair, revealing clothing, makeup, willingness to engage in sexual performance, facial hair – are highlighted as gender markers. (Tauches, 2011)

The way heterosexual males grapple with the implications of incidental attraction to men is also interesting. The manly response here is to recognise the drag as a joke and play it off, presenting as savvy and tolerant. Note that the viewing guys in the video say “very nice” after seeing Steve’s moustache, but RWJ still assumes they will now question their sexuality, and later calls them gay. By implying that, unlike them, he is certain of his heterosexuality and therefore can get sexual enjoyment out of a man in drag without questioning it, he gains status. Thus, homosexuality is experienced as a challenge to heterosexual identity (Butler, 1993), but not being bothered by that has become a mandatory part of masculine identity. The success of drag performances in rendering this mandatory, in particular via trolling as a cultural mode, demonstrates the relevance and effectiveness of Butler’s strategies for the undermining of identity, and the discursive changes they can bring about in a relatively short period of time. RWJ therefore succinctly echoes Butler’s politics: “keep on trollin’.”



Butler, Judith, 1993. Imitation and Gender Subordination. In The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, edited by Henry Abelove et al.New York: Routledge. 307-320.

MacKinnon, Catherine. 1989. Sexuality. In Toward a Feminist Theory of the State.Cambridge:HarvardUniversity Press. 126-154

Tauches, Kimberley. 2011. Transgendering: Challenging the ‘normal.’ In Introducing the New Sexuality Studies, edited by Steven Seidman et al. New York: Routledge. 134-139.

[1] By “our” I mean young people on the internet (prototypically but not exclusively the North American, English speaking internet – he’s also very popular in Russia, Japan and elsewhere).

[2] I would argue that presentation becomes drag when it is consciously, rather than tacitly, chosen