Sunday, December 31, 2006

Dr. Laura on Sex as a Commodity

Prompted by the sale of the domain “Sex.com” for $12 million, Dr. Laura penned this column on the commodification of sex. Now normally I try to avoid Dr. Laura altogether. I find her lack of insight into… oh… reality to be frustrating. There’s no reasoning with that, there’s no rebuttal that would make her think twice about what she’s saying, there’s no reason to bother driving myself crazy over it. But this particular piece was delivered to my inbox by the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, and when they send something I know it’s worth a read.

And it was. It was full of her usual vitriolic blather about people who have sex without total emotional commitment and how we’re causing society’s downfall – and normally that would cause me to start tearing at my hair and spouting facts about sexual abuse in marriage, but this time I was able to take it all in stride with a bemused smile on my face, all because of this line:

“[…]check your local University course handbook and you’ll find courses in perversions and pornography presented in as positive a perspective as anti-United States politics!”

I admit it, I had to read it a few times to be sure of what she was saying. The first time I read it, I snorted with laughter, then kept reading. A few lines down, I thought to myself, “self, there’s no way she would actually be saying what you think she’s saying.” So I went back and read it again, and tried to give her a little more credit. The third time through I realized it was no mistake: Dr. Laura thinks universities are full of PERVERTS and COMMIES!

(Well, she probably meant “anti-United States politics” to mean “those evil Middle-Eastern countries that don’t want to be homogenized” and not “those damn reds.” The message is the same, though.)

Knowing that Dr. Laura is stuck in a cold-war anti-intellectual mentality made it a lot easier to handle the rest of the piece, which included comments like

“While males and females are physiologically and temperamentally quite different creatures; women into nesting, bonding and nurturing, and men into conquest, providing, and protecting, they are quite similar spiritually.”

And

“How did this begin? […]I think it obviously starts with birth-control”

And, the worst:

“Well, I’m here to tell you that this experiment has failed. Nobody, except the perverts, pedophiles, narcissists and sadists are happy with sex becoming a commodity.”

to which I would just like to say: She forgot masochists! Some of us get off enormously on being sexual commodities. Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think your average middle-American, Howard Stern watching, church-going, beer-drinking Joe benefits quite a bit from the commodification of sex. As do many other people, of course, but the rest of them are all perverts and commies and should stay in their universities and leave the rest of us alone.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Dear Blog

Dear, darling, neglected blog...

I have been lax in my attentions to you, and for that I am eternally sorry. It's just, what with the holiday and the moving and the not having the internets at our new "home" (that is to say, the apartment I'm staying in at the moment, which feels a lot like home because of who we're living with), it's hard to find the time to write, or even to read all the stuff I'd otherwise be posting on you. Give me time, and I promise I'll be attentive and loving and make it all up to you after the new year.

Love,
Amanda

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Free Genarlow?

This story has been getting a lot of press lately: A young man in Georgia has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for engaging in consensual oral sex with a 15 year old girl when he was 17. Georgia law states that anyone engaging in oral sex with an underage female is committing a crime. There's more to it than that, though, even though "Free Genarlow" has become the rallying cry.

The whole thing went down like this:
Someone threw a really awesome party -- the kind you want to go to when you're 15, and the kind your parents don't want you going to ever. People were drinking, smoking up, and having sex -- and there was a video camera. Genarlow Wilson, the young man in question, was caught on tape having sex with a 17 year old who appears very drunk, or at least very sleepy. Later, he and several other young men are seen receiving oral sex from a 15 year old young woman, who says she wasn't drinking that night and that the acts were consensual. The next day, the 17 year old brought rape charges against Wilson and several others. Under Georgia law (and that of many other states), an intoxicated person cannot give consent, so sex acts occurring while a partner is drunk can be considered rape if that person later feels she has been violated and taken advantage of. Wilson was charged, went to trial, and found not guilty of rape in this instance, but found guilty on charges of aggravated child molestation for receiving oral sex from a 15 year old.

So, despite the fact that Wilson was an honor student, high school track and football star, and homecoming king, he wasn't exactly a prince, and there were social factors at play here -- not just the age of the young woman involved, but also her relative social status and the power-dynamics involved there. These factors contribute to sexual manipulation (of people of all ages and genders, although young women are particularly vulnerable) on a daily basis. It isn't surprising that he was charged, given the context in which the sex act took place; because of the way the law was written, the proof that he had in fact received oral sex from a 15 year old (the video, that is) meant that the jury had no choice but to find him guilty. Although he was acquitted of the rape charge in the case of the 17 year old woman, I'm still willing to go out on a limb and say: ew. I don't care if he wasn't convicted, what happened to the 17 year old was absolutely disgusting and a poor decision on his part. It speaks volumes that this part of the story is being swept under the rug by the media and Wilson is being painted as a hometown hero wrongly accused.

Jessica of Feministing is quite right in pointing out the incredibly sexist implications of the law that Genarlow Wilson, the young man, broke:
Consent laws are overwhelmingly enforced to "protect" young girls, even if some of them don't need protecting. I find it pretty insulting that any teen girl who has sex is an automatic victim.
She also points out that charges may not have been brought at all if it had been the young man performing oral sex, and not the other way around. Regardless of the fact that many are manipulated and violated, this particular young woman has not said she felt that way. Law states that she could not legally give consent (because she was 15 at the time), and that law denies that she, as a young woman, is capable of making decisions about her body and her life.

Back in the day, when I was a majorly sexually active minor, the idea that either myself or my partner were doing something illegal was inconceivable. What I was doing was punishable in the court of My Mother's House, sure, but in a court of Law? According to this article in The Sunday Times (UK-Scotland edition), many young people are startled to learn their randy behavior is punishable by law:
When Paul lost his virginity to an older girl, he never thought he might be committing a crime. Emma, his first girlfriend, was a year older than him at 15 and already sexually experienced. But when her parents discovered the nature of their relationship, it was 14-year-old Paul who was threatened with the law.
For the record, Paul was not charged, but under Scottish law he could have been.

In Georgia, Wilson recently lost his appeal. Meanwhile, Georgia lawmakers are in the process of rewriting the law under which he was convicted to match that which applies to intercourse. Under the new "Romeo and Juliet" law, teens within 3 years of each other in age will not be able to be charged for oral sex (unless, of course, it isn't consensual, but that's a whole other law).

In the meantime, a recent study by the Guttmacher Institute found that 9 out of 10 US citizens have engaged in premarital sex. I wonder how many of them were committing a crime at the time? In any case, the study provides ample evidence that abstinence only until marriage might not be the wisest of choices when it comes to sex education.

More:
Wilson's Attorney Answers Questions
NY Times Op-Ed: Free Genarlow Wilson Now
Why is Genarlow Wilson in Jail?
Interesting Debate in the Feministing Comments

Monday, December 18, 2006

Tool of the Patriarchy.

I went into CVS for asthma medicine. I left with: volumizing conditioner, pomegranate-mango body wash, hair dye, cosmopolitan magazine, and tampons. Oh yeah, and the asthma medicine.

What the hell happened? Let's take it one item at a time, shall we? The volumizing conditioner I needed because I'm out, and the person I'm staying with right now... his conditioner just doesn't cut it. It took me a solid half hour to detangle my hair this afternoon. The body wash is because, for the first time in a long time, I don't want to smell like boy. I want to smell pretty and feminine. I'm not exactly sure why fruity=feminine, but since it wasn't labelled "For Men" like the other body wash I felt safely ladylike. The Nice'n'Easy (hair color, or motto?) is because believe me, it's time. And I'd like to dye it before I get it cut so the hairstylist will think I'm less of a slob. The Cosmo... I don't know what happened there. I haven't bought that magazine in a year at least. I don't think I've read it much more recently. I used to read it occasionally for a laugh. Today I told myself I was buying it for blog-fodder.

And the tampons. Brand-name, bleached cotton tampons. That's right. Do you know, I've had not one but TWO boyfriends tell me I should use The Keeper instead? It's not that I think there's anything wrong with it as a product, and I recognize the economic and environmental benefits of it. When a woman friend recommends it to me, I have no problem discussing it with her and telling her the reasons I don't use it. But a GUY? Please. Until you deal with bleeding on a monthly basis, don't be self-righteous about my use of tampons. I'll deal with my period however I choose. For the record, the sight of that much blood (even the thought of it, really, and even though I know there's more to menstrual fluid than blood) makes me dizzy and faint, and the idea of needing to empty The Keeper in a public place makes me feel incredibly socially anxious.

Anyway. So, I leave CVS and almost immediately run into a friend -- a grown-up friend, whom I respect and admire. And I was immediately ashamed of the contents of my CVS bag. Not that I think she'd care that much, but still.

So what happened to make me buy all that stuff? I think it's about control. I'm feeling stressed and like I don't have a grasp on things, and my femininity is not only something I have control over, but also something that can help me regain control over my life -- the more I fit in to the mainstream ideal, the more likely things are to fall into place for me.

Yuck. Watch as I add "find new ways to feel in control of life" to my to-do list. Right next to "Buy plane ticket to San Francisco."

Sorry for the weird post, guys -- it's been a weird week!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Speaking of Adverts: Viagra Much?

Kids see too many anti-impotence ads, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The doctors released a statement, as a part of their general stance on youth exposure to television advertising, that
"We'd like to see more birth control ads," Strasburger said, "and less ads for erectile dysfunction drugs because it makes sex seem like a recreational activity."

Okay, so it's a bit of a conflicting message. After all, commercials for birth control don't exactly encourage people to think of sex as sacred or solely for procreation. And if it isn't for procreation, isn't it for... recreation? Well, sure, sometimes. But the AAP statement points out that there continues to be more advertising in prime time for ED drugs than for birth control, and that
This is despite the fact that 2 national polls have found that a majority of Americans favor the advertising of birth control on TV.

The statement also points out that
Research has definitively found that giving teenagers increased access to birth control through advertising does not make them sexually active at a younger age.


The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is also giving serious thumbs down to Viagra's advertising, claiming that
Pfizer's marketing treats Viagra as a tool to improve one's sex life instead of a drug for a medical condition.

I would agree with that claim, and I do think it's irresponsible on the part of Pfizer. On the other hand, I also think there's something not quite right about the organization's response campaign: Ads in the Village Voice and in gay publications in New York, LA, South Florida and San Francisco will show a doctor's prescription pad "which contains the message that Viagra combined with crystal methamphetamine creates a prescription for HIV infection." I guess what I find so startling about this campaign is that Viagra is the target. The idea is that meth can cause ED during the high, but pair it with Viagra and you're free to screw whoever you want. But... shouldn't the emphasis be on not having unsafe sex? After all, if a side effect of meth wasn't temporary ED, Viagra couldn't be the scapegoat.

Hotter than Monica and Bill? Just Barely.


Kinda hot? I think so. It's from the Naked Cigar Calendar Company's 2007 edition. The perfect gift for your favorite cigar aficionado (assuming s/he likes naked ladies). (Via Fleshbot)

Pizza, Drinking and Sex

HAH! From ifilm.com to my blog, for your viewing entertainment.

Monday, December 11, 2006

One Less?

Merck has chosen the slogan “One Less” to advertise Gardasil, the HPV vaccine that helps protect women from the four kinds of Human Papillomavirus that are most likely to cause genital warts and cervical cancer. They advise women that by getting the vaccine, they (or their daughters) could be “one less life affected by cervical cancer.” Solid advice, but genital warts are never mentioned. Neither is the fact that HPV is sexually transmitted. But I’ve vented about all that here before, and today I have a different soapbox to stand on.

I realize that a commercial isn’t behavioral psychology, but there are some basic tenets which seem to carry over. Medicines for asthmatics, for example, aren’t marketed as “you’ll wheeze less!” Instead, they’re marketed as “You’ll finally be able to run through fields of flowers with your dog without stopping to take a puff on your inhaler!” Positive reinforcement, if you will.

Now don’t get me wrong: I, and the women I know, all want to be “one less” cervical cancer statistic. But in a culture that constantly negates women’s thoughts, women’s work, women’s experiences, is “One Less” really a wise slogan? Essentially, it’s negative reinforcement. At the very end of the television commercial, a group of girls are jumping rope and chanting “O-N-E-L-E-S-S, I wanna be one less (ONE LESS!)” I found it absolutely haunting. I don’t want those little girls to think of themselves as less! I want them to think of themselves as one MORE woman who is protected against HPV.

Am I being silly? Language is so incredibly important and so easy to overlook. Everything in this country is informed by a culture that negates women. Every little thing, even down to telling girls to be “one less.” While I’m sure those who designed the ad campaign weren’t thinking “Oh, let’s make young women feel reduced,” the language isn’t innocent or innocuous. Why use negative language when a positive phrase would work as well, if not better? Language has impact regardless of intent.

That being said: if you're eligible, please consider being vaccinated. The you, too, can be one more woman protected against HPV.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Durex Condoms Contain Silicone Lube

So, you've taken the advice of your friendly local adult store employee/sex educator/toy-savvy friend, and you always cover your dildos with condoms to make for easier clean-up and to keep porous toys from getting germy. You even switch condoms between orifices. Congratulations!

But do you know what kind of lube is on your condom? I posted about this several weeks ago, after I emailed Trojan, Durex and Lifestyles to inquire about the lubricant used on their condoms. Trojan quickly wrote back to inform me that only their polyurethane condom (Avanti) uses a silicone-based lubricant. The rest use water-based lube. I took that response from Trojan, along with Kimono's proud advertisement of their "unique" water-based lubricant, and felt safe in generalizing that most condoms were probably lubricated the same way.

Oh, but I was wrong. This email arrived recently from Durex:
All of our lubricated condoms contain lubricants that are silicone based
except the lubricant used in our Natural Feeling condoms which is water
based.
Now, I'm sure you recall hearing from your friendly local adult store employee/sex educator/toy-savvy friend that silicone lube is bad news for silicone and cyberskin toys. It breaks down the material, although I can't honestly tell you to what degree. I've heard reports that a nickel-sized amount of silicone lube and a little friction will literally melt a silicone dildo. I've also heard that the effect isn't quite as visible, but just as sad: silicone lube degrades the material, making it porous and ruining one of the best things about having silicone toys! Since I know better, I've never had a silicone meltdown accidentally, and (let's face it folks) who has the extra cash to willfully ruin a perfectly good sex toy, even if it is in the name of science?

That being said, I can't tell you for sure what the effect of a silicone-lubed Durex condom is on a silicone toy. I definitely think it's possible that the combination of
silicone-on-silicone and lots of friction could create a reaction. Anyone else want to weigh in? If you've ever had a major condom-related dildo meltdown, or if you use Durex on your Johnny all the time and have never noticed a problem, or if you have more hard facts about the science, I'd love to hear from you.

In the meantime: Trojan and Kimono are (mostly) water-based, and Durex uses (mostly) silicone. Still no response from Lifestyles. I feel like I should write an investigative report... think 20/20 would buy it?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Serious Linkage

I don't know that it's actually true, but there seems to have been an inordinate amount of sex-related news this past week, and I missed most of it (what with the being away business). So, here are a whole bunch of links -- you may find some of them to be old news. I promise to be more up to date after this.

Someone mentioned that I never really wrote about World AIDS Day. He's right, but it's a bit late now. I think I'll wait a couple months and bring it up when everyone's stopped talking about AIDS again. In the meantime: Global AIDS statistics which, in many ways, speak for themselves.

Everyone (and her bubbe) seems to be cracking jokes about the recent decisions by the highest court of Conservative Judaism. The decisions (there were three of them, based on different aspects of Jewish law -- two against and one for) essentially allow individual schools and synagogues to decide whether to admit openly gay rabbinical students or perform same-sex unions.

In addition to World AIDS Day, I missed out on commenting on Free EC Day! Planned Parenthood clinics across the country were giving EC away to the over-18 crowd. Younger types could also get the EC by filling out some paperwork and having a short counseling session. Just because you didn't get around to getting some yesterday, though, doesn't mean you should forget about EC altogether: if you're having (or might be having in the future) potentially-reproductive sex, it's a great idea to go get Plan-B to keep on hand. That way, if the condom breaks, you don't have to worry about rushing out to get it.

So... Iranian President Ahmadinejad may have been caught ogling some lovely dancing and singing ladies -- or at least not leaving the room when they arrived. Iran's law forbids women from singing or dancing in front of men, and government officials are expected to conform to those laws even when abroad on official business. Is he a hypocrite? I don't think that's the important point here. What's important is the demonstration that attraction is deeply ingrained, and even those most dedicated to its denial can fall pray to it. Maybe the lesson is that old adage, "Everything in moderation."

Mary Cheney is preggers! My congratulations to her and her partner Heather. I feel bad that her pregnancy is so public, but this was bound to stir up controversy. The one thing I can't get past is how everyone keeps saying "Now Cheney will see! He won't be able to sleep at night!" Y'think? Really? I think Cheney is way past losing sleep over a little thing like his granddaughter.

Congress tried to sneak in one last anti-abortion bill, but that all came to bupkis yesterday. The bill, which would have required doctors to give patients information stating that a fetus can feel pain starting at five weeks, was criticized for its lack of scientific backing. Doctors also would have been required to offer women anesthesia -- for the fetus. The bill did not receive the 2/3rds vote it needed from the House in order to pass.

It's true, Babeland is fabulous. But if you're in the (pioneer) valley, consider shopping locally: Oh My, located in Northampton, has a great selection of high-quality sex toys, lubes, and other fun bedroom (kitchen/shower/anywhere you want to do it) products. The store is run by a mother and daughter, both very knowledgeable, and the manager of their currently-under-development toy party program is a really fabulous sex educator friend of mine from college. I bought some Pink there this weekend. It's good stuff.

Finally, a quote from Heather Corinna's Why I Stopped Putting All (or most) of My Efforts into Erotica post:
[...] all of the work I do in sexuality, women’s sexuality and feminism is a lot harder than I’d like, hurts my brain and heart a lot more, and demands a LOT more of me. It means that I have to come at this stuff from both angles: I have to find ways to work on the sexuality aspects while also still working on the bigger context our sexuality lives within.
Lordy. Smart people make me so happy.

Monday, December 04, 2006

This Feminist Likes It Rough

A Quickie from Noho -

Jessica over at Feministing posted about the myth that feminists don't like rough sex. The piece is filled with funny (and slightly unnerving and mostly unbelievable) quotes from two other authors. The discussion that followed in the comments was pretty interesting too.

I'm pretty sure that Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon are at the root of this cultural misconception about feminism -- or rather, I think that the simplification of their work as it's read is to blame. Interesting stuff.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Promises Should Be Kept: World Aids Day 2006

Today is World AIDS Day, and the theme this year is accountability. In 2000, heads of state around the world made a pledge to stop the spread of AIDS by the year 2015 -- are they keeping their promise?
New reports by UNAIDS and the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that, as of 2006, the epidemic continues to spread in every region of the world. By now more than 65 million people have been infected with HIV and well over 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981, 2.9 million in 2006 alone. At this rate, the WHO predicts that in the next 25 years another 117 million people will die, making AIDS the third leading cause of death worldwide.(From a World AIDS Campaign press release.)

This year, World AIDS Day is calling leaders to account for what progress has -- and has not -- been made.

I'm away for the weekend for some inspiration (send me a message if you're in Northampton and you want to hang out!), but I would like to leave you with this link: the trailer for The Bi Apple, written-produced-directed by the amazing Audacia Ray. Congrats, Dacia! Get excited for this one, kids, it's gonna be good.

EDIT: Clearly, when I said today I meant Friday December 1st, not Thursday November 30th. That's what I get for preparing a post ahead of time!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Circumcision as STI Prevention?

The New Zealand study which found that circumcision reduces the risk of STI infection in males has been showing up everywhere. When I first saw I thought about blogging it, but I couldn't quite gather my thoughts enough to be coherent.

Generally speaking, I've had better luck with circumcised men. Since my most serious relationship was with a Jewish man, I spent years assuming that my little baby boys would be circumcised. I gave some thought to it at that point -- what it meant as a sign of the covenant, whether it made sense even if the children wouldn't be raised Orthodox -- but since then I haven't had the opportunity to reevaluate my thoughts on the subject. The only way it enters my consciousness now is when I hear about anti-circumcision activism, which often likens the removal of the foreskin to female genital mutilation. That kind of rhetoric terrifies me. They're not comparable. Period.

So when a close friend told me this afternoon that his sons would never be circumcised, I was surprised. And nervous. I asked why, but I wasn't sure I wanted to know the answer. If he said anything about FGM, I was going to be pretty upset. Instead, he shocked me by offering an incredibly sensible argument against circumcision:
There was a recent study published that uncircumcised men are more likely to end up with STIs and I fear that parents will run with that. If your son knows how to protect himself he doesn't need to lose his foreskin for it. And if he's taught how to clean he'll be clean. And if he's taught that it's ok for his to look different than his classmates' he'll be ok with that, too. It doesn't make sense to change someone's anatomy for your own comfort.

And suddenly, my entire perspective shifted. He's right! Sure, circumcision can reduce the risk of STI infection in men. But using a condom can too, and if we would just instate comprehensive sexuality education maybe we wouldn't need to perform genital surgery on infants. How silly does it seem to surgically alter the bodies of our children rather than just educate them about safer sex?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sugasm #56

This week’s best of the sex blogs from the bloggers who blog them. Highlighting the top 3 posts as chosen by Sugasmer participants. Want in Sugasm #57? Submit a link to your best post of the week using this form.


This Week’s Picks

Same Time Next Year (http://nocloudnine.blogspot.com)

“She nodded again, grabbing the doorframe as she pushed against the finger.”

Fuck me- it’s friday. (http://dirtylittlecockslut.blogspot.com)


“I won’t pretend to be coy- because I know what I want.”


Sexual Things You Don’t Know About Me (http://www.taratainton.com)

“My own erotic inner self has been piqued these last few days by a wonderful fantasy; maybe I can help pique yours by sharing.”


Mr. Sugasm Himself

Happy Thanksgiving (http://sugarbank.com)


Editors’ Choice

Fast and Furious (http://edinerotica.blogspot.com)



Sponsored Link

iBuzz Two - the new iPod Sex

Toy for couples
http://www.lovehoney.co.uk/ibuzztwo/


“Next-gen vibrator gives everything you and your partner need to enjoy music

and music-activated vibrations at the same time.

Even works with a Zune ;-)


More Sugasm


Join the Sugasm




Sex News & Reviews

Lesbian Sadomasochistic Schoolgirls for PlayStation 2 (http://adelehaze.com)

Q: Can non nude porn be hot? (http://ylovesporn.com)


Remote Control Wireless Vibrating Egg Review (http://stilettodiaries.blogspot.com)


BDSM and Fetish

Happy HNT - Classroom paddling (http://darkside-journey.blogspot.com)

A Nawty Story: Kitten’s After School Special (http://anawtymouz.blogspot.com)

And One for Luck (http://www.spankingwriters.com/blog)

Working late, Part I (http://www.betweensheets.net)


Erotic Writing and Experiences

100 Things I Want To Do Before I Die (http://perverselypoly.blogspot.com)

clIMax for breakfast (http://junohenry.wordpress.com)

Home cooking, part 3 (http://erotischism.blogspot.com)

Hotel (http://slutissimo2.wordpress.com)

The Other Side of Jen (http://drtycplinva.blogspot.com)

Throbbing Cunt… OH I Need An Orgasm! (http://totalsensuality.blogspot.com)

What I did to Devil in a Blue Dress (http://dirtytalk.wordpress.com)


Sex History

Instruction And Advice For The Young Bride (http://bratmaster.co.uk)


Sexy Humor

Chicken Man (http://radicalvixen.com/blog)

Those sexy italians (http://hard-and-fast.blogspot.com)


NSFW Pics (& videos)

Alison Angel - Christmas (video) (http://hotboxbabe.thumblogger.com)

Black and White Erotic Photos by JS Hicks (http://www.ddgirlsblog.com)

Half-Nekkid and Begging to Be Asked (http://www.TarasNaughtyShop.com)

Happy Thanksgiving! (http://kitchen-girls.blogspot.com)

Shay Laren Masturbates (video) (http://myhotbox.blogspot.com)


Sex Work

PSO’s Thanksgiving (http://sabrinainstockings.com)


Thoughts on Sex and Relationships

Craigslist Personals (II) (http://pornster.blogspot.com)

Soft Porn is Greedy (http://www.teen-porn-site.com/blog)


Sex & Politics

A National Addiction to Porn? (http://fullfrontalpolitics.com)

Sex Positive Feminism: A Statement of Beliefs (http://sexualevolution.blogspot.com)

Monday, November 27, 2006

the other side of the camera


I'm not photogenic. It's that vicious cycle: I don't photograph well, so I hate having my picture taken, so I wince whenever someone points a camera in my direction, so I photograph terribly. There's a line in an ani difranco song, "it took me too long to realize I don't look good in pictures 'cause I have the kind of beauty that moves." I'd like to think of it as my photographic motto, but I'm really sure it's true. All I know is that my "mirror face" (which is very cute) does not translate to pictures.

But I love being on the other side of the camera. I don't know a lot about photography, but I do have a general sense of what makes for an interesting photo. And... I just love it.

In an attempt to use my love of photography to become more photogenic, I've been taking a lot of self-portraits the last couple of months; some of them on a timer, some of them at arms length. They've mostly been terrible. Today I got fed up. I decided that it doesn't matter if I make a funny face if you can't see my face.

They came out okay -- not amazing or original, and kind of blurry, but they're pictures of me and they don't make me want to cry. And that's a step in the right direction! I'm not posting any actual nudity here, because (call me inhibited, but) there are too many people reading who know me personally and who, I'm sure, can do without nekkid Amanda.

A Thousand Tiny Sexes


Have you read Anne Fausto-Sterling's The Five Sexes? Written in 1993, it discusses intersexuality and the ways in which our Male/Female system of sex-categorization is insufficient. I was only 10, so I can't tell you how radical a notion that was at the time, but I can tell you that theorists and activists and scientists -- including Fausto-Sterling herself -- have taken the building blocks of The Five Sexes and used them to continue to evaluate and reimagine the way we think about sex.

A Thousand Tiny Sexes is a book project whose aim goes way beyond just five sexes. From the website:
To imagine that there are only two sexes - M & F - is an absurdity. There are at least 1000 sexes. The daily lived reality of transgender and intersexual people (and gay, lesbian, queer and all other people, for that matter) proves this over and over again, yet many people continue to operate as if 'M' and 'F' are the only sexes, the only options, the only expressions, the only goals, the only way ("the way it is").

The ideology behind A Thousand Tiny Sexes is quite radical. They're not just talking about gradiations of female and male; they're looking for submissions that "entirely reimagine sex as a biological, cultural, political, and social category." Really interesting stuff; I'm looking forward to seeing the finished product.

Image: "Found Sex #1" by kanarinka, one of the editors of A Thousand Tiny Sexes.
Via sexblo.gs.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Pornographic Relief for Comics Nerds

Good lord, I'm tired of posting about politics. Are you sick of reading it? I like sex, I started a blog to write about sex, so where is all the sex?

Well, here's some. I've never really enjoyed photo spreads -- the kind you see in magazines like Penthouse, I mean. There just isn't enough action in them for me, or enough expression, or something. I'll take a grainy, slow-to-load free web clip over a glossy photo spread any day.

But now, Xmics have brought action back into the overlit photographic bedroom! I have to admit I kind of dig this site: they take photo spreads and turn them into comics by inserting speech bubbles and narration, so you can imagine what the models are thinking and feeling without actually having to imagine it. Sounds good, right? Plus, it's free, and there are a ton of different themes and episodes. They're able to make it free because each comic links back to the paysite that provided the photo spread. (Via Fleshbot. What would I do without Fleshbot?)

Burglar alerts police to massive child porn stash

This is very nearly unbelieveable. And really funny, except for the whole child porn part. From the Montreal Gazette:
A local man has been jailed after an outraged burglar spotted massive amounts of child pornography on his computer and called police. William Mitchell was charged in October 2005 and pleaded guilty. The RCMP had received an anonymous tip saying someone had broken into Mitchell's residence and taken a video camera. The camera, the tipster said, had images of child pornography and would be left on the steps of a church. Police retrieved the camera and, following the address printed on the burglar's note, seized computer equipment containing about 60,000 images of children in various stages of undress.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Mitt's Mad

(Posting from safari on a Mac, so pardon my temporary lack of formatting)

"Gov. Mitt Romney filed a lawsuit Friday asking the state’s highest court to order the legislature to vote on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage or to place it on the 2008 ballot if lawmakers do not take up the provision." (NYT, Massachusettes Governer Sues to Compel Vote on Same-Sex Marriage Amendment)

First of all: It's over. You lost. Move on. And please, if you're ever by some bizarre chance elected president, don't brag about having been our governor. We're not proud of it. It was a weak moment.

The goal of the lawsuit is to force the legislature to vote on the amendment -- if fifty legislators vote it up two years running, it'll be on the ballot for the state in '08. Mr. Romney, if you get to vote on my marriage, do I get to vote on yours?

Trying really hard not to get angry. Sour grapes is all it is. And apparently legally frivolous.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Sex in The Guardian

An editorial in The Guardian claims that "The west's attitude to issues of reproductive health, especially in the US, causes women's deaths all over the world."

Bravo. More:

The consequences of such moral superiority are grave - not only in the fight against Aids but across the whole field of sexual and reproductive health. We have the US preaching abstinence from sex as the answer to Aids in Africa and refusing funds to any family-planning clinics across the world that provide abortions or even counsel women about them. This head-in-the-sand attitude towards abortion leads directly to women's deaths. Every year nearly 20 million unsafe abortions are carried out on desperate women in ill-lit rooms and illegal clinics. You don't stop that happening by refusing to talk about it.


"Our moral superiority about sex is proving deadly," Sarah Boseley, Friday November 24, 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"Don't Bet on Barack"

I really appreciate this opinion piece posted on The Advocate's website. I had been feeling anxious and left out of all the "Obama '08" rhetoric because of his position on same sex marriage (namely, that he opposes it). An excerpt from the Advocate article:
“I was reminded that it is my obligation not only as an elected official in a pluralistic society, but also as a Christian, to remain open to the possibility that my unwillingness to support gay marriage is misguided,” Obama wrote in his recent memoir, The Audacity of Hope.

But Obama’s audacity is not only his unwillingness to support the issue, but also his misunderstanding and misuse of the term “gay marriage.” The terminology “gay marriage” not only stigmatizes and stymies our efforts for marriage equality, but it also suggests that LGBT people’s marriages are or would be wholly different from those of heterosexuals, thus altering its landscape, if not annihilating the institution of marriage entirely.

I'm already so nervous about '08. If my options are Barack, who opposes marriage equality, and Hillary, who (let's be realistic) doesn't have a prayer against McCain... lordy, I just don't know. Anyone more politically savvy want to weigh in? And maybe make me feel better?

Come for Peace

Anti-war activist Donna Sheehan, originator of the Baring Witness movement, and her partner Paul Reffel have organized another peaceful demonstration: Global Orgasm.

WHO? All Men and Women, you and everyone
you know.

WHERE? Everywhere in the world, but especially in countries with weapons of mass destruction.

WHEN?
Winter Solstice Day - Friday, December 22nd,
at the time of your choosing, in the place of your choosing and with as much privacy as you choose.

WHY? To effect positive change in the energy field of the Earth through input of the largest possible surge of human energy a Synchronized Global Orgasm. There are two more US fleets heading for the Persian Gulf with anti-submarine equipment that can only be for use against Iran, so the time to change Earth’s energy is NOW!

Sheehan and Reffel believe that war is essentially male sexual posturing on a grand scale -- that is to say, "my nuke is bigger than yours, nyah nyah." They believe that the huge release of human energy with peaceful intentions can actually have a positive impact on the Earth's energy, and they reference Princeton's Global Consciousness Project as their scientific backup.

I don't pray for peace, or meditate on it. You might call what I do "hoping against hope" for peace. It's a very anxiety-ridden activity. I think evolutionary psychology is a slippery slope, and I'm not sure I buy the science behind the Global Orgasm, but I'm willing to do my part to create more positive energy in the world. It can't hurt, right? Hurt the peace movement, I mean. If it hurts you, you should probably have that looked into.


From the San Francisco Chronicle

From Wired's Sex Drive Daily
The Global O Blog

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Global Campaign to Decriminalize Homosexuality

International Day Against Homophobia (or IDAHO. Yes, go ahead and giggle.) Announced yesterday the launch of a global petition to the United Nations in favor of a resolution to universally decriminalize homosexuality. From the press release:
“With more than 70 countries in the world still making homosexuality a crime by law — and punishable by death in twelve of them — this is a legal scandal which the petition for a proposed U.N. resolution decriminalizing homosexuality gives people a concrete way to fight,” Tin [president of the International Committee for IDAHO] said.

Read the rest of the press release and check out IDAHO, or click here to go straight to the petition.

damn.

I'm in a blogging mood today, what can I say? Via Hanne Blank's blog (and thanks to YouTube), this is Skinny by Lo-rider (the uncensored version). It's really freaking hot, and not work safe, unless you want to have to take an extended "bathroom" break.

Life's Defining Moments

My family and I were having a "funny hospital stories" conversation when I realized that my own personal funny hospital story is actually kind of revealing:

I had my tonsils out a few years ago. When I woke up in the recovery room, the first thing I noticed was that my shoulders were bare. The first words out of my mouth after surgery were, "am I naked?"

I was not, in fact, naked, as the kind (and highly amused) nurse pointed out to me. My gown had slipped off my shoulders. It's just so unusual for me to wake up with clothes on!

What's that you say? You want more from a blog post than a silly anecdote? Fair enough. Check out this essay from The Huffington Post, called Feminism From the Gut. Here's a teaser:
When I told one friend that I now belly dance, she nearly spat out her coffee. "How can you do that?" she asked, "It's so repressive."

I thought about it, and I understood where she was coming from. The paleo-feminist ideal of how women should be tells us not to be feminine, but rather to reject all traditional forms that celebrate being female.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Transgender Day of Remembrance

In the midst of a family illness, I nearly forgot that today is the 8th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. Created to recognize and remember the lives of those killed due to transphobic violence, the Day of Remembrance also serves to increase awareness of acts of violence connected to transgender based hate. From the official website:
We live in times more sensitive than ever to hatred based violence, especially since the events of September 11th. Yet even now, the deaths of those based on anti-transgender hatred or prejudice are largely ignored. Over the last decade, more than one person per month has died due to transgender-based hate or prejudice, regardless of any other factors in their lives. This trend shows no sign of abating.


Many of the people who will read this live in a community where it's perfectly acceptable to be gender-variant and to talk about gender-variance openly. I myself often forget that for the rest of the world, it isn't that easy. Transgender Day of Remembrance is a good time for us, in particular, to take a minute to think about those struggles. And maybe to spread the word, because clearly the media isn't going to do it for us.

I wish I could be more eloquent. Sorry, guys, I just don't have it in me tonight.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

the little r, or, Why Life > Java

I’m teaching myself java. Ambitious, maybe, but the website project is drawing to a close, leaving me with lots more time and a newfound interest in website design.

Java is case sensitive, which means that if you mean Print and you type print, your program won’t run. Life, generally speaking, is not case sensitive. Sure, rules of grammar and punctuation apply, but the upper and lower case letters that populate our everyday speech are, by and large, negotiable.

There are some words for which this doesn’t exactly hold true. My 10th grade history teacher taught me the difference between people and People, power and Power. When Lincoln said “Power of the people, by the people, for the people,” each instance of the word people may have been written with a lower case p, but the President was speaking in capital letters.

Every once in a while, you’re not sure what case someone is speaking in, and you feel compelled to check. Or we crack jokes. Somewhere around a year ago, my significant other showed up in the midst of a hard-core study session with chocolate soymilk. He tossed it to me, and I (stressed, parched, and incredibly grateful) blurted out “Oh my god, I love you!” Of course, this was not my great declaration of Love for him, and we both knew it, but he raised his eyebrow at me and I laughed nervously and blushed and explained the rogue l-word away by saying “not like that.” In retrospect I realize I should have just shrugged and told him I was talking to the soymilk.

Sometimes, the differences between capital and lower case letters in our lives are so small we barely notice them. What, really, marks the difference between a relationship and a Relationship? There’s the official agreement of exclusive coupledom, of course, but what does that mean? I think you’re something special. I like the way I feel when I’m with you. I want you in my life on a regular basis. I’m not interested in anyone but you. I want to see where this can go. I’m taking an interest in your happiness. You’re so damn good in bed that I’m willing to sleep with you, exclusively. I’m prioritizing you in my life – not before everything, but before a great many things.

We’re lucky life isn’t like java. Program “relationship” runs just fine, capital letter or no.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Sex Positive Feminism: A Statement of Beliefs

I am a sex positive feminist. I believe that being in control of one’s sexual self involves having access to information that allows for informed decision making. I also believe that it involves access to the medical treatments and technology –from condoms to regular Pap smears to Gardasil to abortion procedures – that put women in charge of their bodies. I believe in sexual self-determination, that each person has a right to determine who she will be intimate with, and in what context, without being judged for her choices or forced into others. I believe that being in control of one’s sexual self is an integral part of autonomous adulthood, and until women are given the right to control our sexual selves we will continue to be treated like children in this paternalistic society.

I reject the traditional representation of all things sexual as dirty or shameful. I do not believe that “anything consensually sexual goes, as long as orgasm is the aim.” I believe that anything consensually sexual goes; I don’t care if you’re doing it or not, how you do it, what genders you prefer to do it with, how many people you do (at once or separately), if you’re using porn or sex toys, or if you like it kinky, as long as you’ve got the information you need to make informed decisions. I stand just as strongly for a woman’s right not to have sex (of any kind) if she doesn’t want to, and I believe that women who make that decision deserve support and protection as well. I do not believe that I am an object belonging to the person I’m having sex with, unless I want to be. I do not believe I am a victim of masculine sexuality.

I also believe that my role is a political one: not just to advocate for freedom-to-fuck, but to advocate for women’s rights over their bodies, access to care, and comprehensive sexuality education, and to keep assholes like Keroack from ruining the progress we’ve made. Without these fundamentals, how can we be in control of our bodies? I don’t believe in the transformation of sexuality, because it is too fluid to mold; it isn’t sexuality that needs to change, but the gendered and judgmental framework within which we view it.

Do I believe that’s all there is to feminism? No. But I do feel the need to differentiate my feminist beliefs from those of women who believe that pornography and sex work are the means by which men are keeping women in their place. I refuse to be a victim of some imaginary universal male sexual sadism, and I refuse to believe the only way women can be equal with men is by denying our sexual selves. I like to be good and fucked now and then (or now and... now). Does that make me a tool of the patriarchy? I don’t think so.

(This post was inspired by Candy, and Andrea Dworkin.)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Media gives Working Moms the Shaft

Elizabeth Vargas, co-anchor of 20/20 and former co-anchor of ABC's World News, gave up her coveted, well respected seat at World News this summer when she went on maternity leave. Her decision was met with protests by working mothers who felt that Vargas was sending a bad message about mothers in the work force. Vargas defends her decision by saying
I loved my job at "World News," but the prospect of doing it well, and still finding time to be a good mother to 3-year-old Zachary and my new baby, Samuel, felt impossible.

The quote is taken from an ABC.com article, written by Vargas herself, which introduces the topic of tonight's 20/20 special report: Can Working Mothers Have It All?

According to the article, the report is an investigation into why more hasn't been done to help working mothers. It discusses maternity/paternity leave, good/subsidized childcare, and workplace flexibility, all places where the US lags behind other industrialized countries.

But if all you knew about this report -- if all you heard in passing -- was its title, Can Working Mothers Have it All?... well, I don't know what you'd think, but I would think it was an attack on working mothers. Not an outright "get back in the kitchen and make me some pie!" attack, but the more lethal, subtle variety, the kind that makes it sound like it's in women's best interest to choose: children or career, ladies, you can't have them both. According to a recent report by the Center for Worklife Law, this characterization is common in news media. According to the report (pdf), women are often described as "opting out" of the workforce to become "full-time moms," when in fact they are being pushed out. Articles often describe a psychological or biological "pull" toward motherhood, when according to another study the Center for Worklife Law references, women most often cite problems like workplace inflexibility for their decision to leave (Ms. Magazine Newsbrief).

Then there's the Momtini crowd. According to a New York Times article called Cosmopolitan Moms (Stacy Lu, 11/9/06), moms across the country are sipping wine with friends at their children's playdates. I myself don't see anything terribly wrong with a woman having a drink with friends while their children play, and the article cites many women who feel that having a drink and some grown-up social time allows them to take back their adult life a little bit while still caring for the children. The article also points out the double-standard in drinking:
“In this culture there is a still a double standard,” said Dwight B. Heath, an anthropology professor at Brown University who has written extensively on alcohol attitudes. “It is more acceptable for men to drink, more often, and in greater quantities, and in public."

On the other hand, the article likens the Momtini crowd to bored, lonely 1950's housewives who turned to alcohol for consolation. Think Julianne Moore in The Hours:
“Is the drinking purely social or is this an underlying message that there is something missing?” Ms. Barash said. “This might be a happy event, but it certainly wasn’t for their predecessors. The drinking was just a coping mechanism for loneliness and unhappiness.”

Are a great number of home-working mothers unhappy? I have no idea. I wouldn't blame them if they were. A great number of many subcategories of people are unhappy. I guessI'd say that getting together with friends to share stories from the week (and maybe a drink) isn't a bad way of coping with unhappiness, though. There's something about this characterization of mothers that I object to.

In short: Dear Media, please stop making motherhood out to be a perpetual struggle. I'm all for lighting the way to better family policies in the US, but do we have to make moms look like hell along the way?

And if you're wondering what all of this has to do with sex, think of it this way: If the US gave mothers more support -- childcare options, maternity leave, tax breaks, etc -- becoming a mother might not be the life-altering, plan-changing, "dream-wrecking" event it is considered today. And if women didn't have to be afraid of what having a baby would do to their future, they would be less suceptible to terrorizing abstinence-only messages from the government, which would open the door to comprehensive sexuality education, and then... just think of all the awesome healthy sex you'd be having! As someone dear to my heart said recently, "It's a baby, not the plague."

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sony: World's First TV for Men and Women

This is without a doubt one of the more braindead ad campaigns I've seen in quite awhile. Sony's TV ads for the new Bravia television set advertise it as "The world's first TV for men and women." Having no idea what was even meant by that, I went to the website. What you get at the website is four different endings to the commercial: two for men, and two for women. Obviously, when you try to encapsulate the interests of an entire gender into a couple of 30-second clips, you've got to make some generalizations. Some disgustingly sexist generalizations, that mock women's with careers in medicine and make us out to be nothing more than a pair of pretty feet. The ads also make men out be ridiculous, violent, and women's only savior.

Am I taking it too seriously? Being one of "those" feminists? In my head I'm imagining an old friend laughing at my ire over these commercials, but his politics suck anyway, so what does he know? This ad campaign is so stone-age it's almost unreal.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Birth Control for Men, Susie Bright on the Elections, and No Sex for You!

A New York Times article this week discusses the hopes and failures in the search for a reliable, reversible birth control method for use by men. One of the scientists interviewed acknowledges that they've been saying for years now that birth control for men will be on the market in 5-10 years, but, he said, "Now I’m saying it with a twinkle in my eye.” The article focuses on taking the pressure of family planning off of women, and cites some promising statistics about the number of men who would be willing to take responsibility for birth control. Still, I've been reading Andrea Dworkin all week, and though most of it acts as devil's advocate, there's a part of me that is very suspicious of how long it's taking them. Does the scientific community really want to assume responsibility for spreading the weight of family planning equally? (Contraception as an Option for the Man, Michael Mason, 11/7/2006)


A darling friend of mine told me earlier that she's proud of her country for the first time in forever, and I've got to say I'm feeling the same way. Of all the media I've scanned through today, Susie Bright's blog post --with its series of updates-- is my favorite. Take this quote, for example:
Rumsfeld is "stepping down," hopefully right onto his own sword. And he's being replaced by Daddy's old friend... Robert Gates? He's a former Eagle Scout and CIA Director... why does that strike me as a porn movie?
Susie's political savvy is something I admire and aspire to.


In her post, Susie also references this story:
The federal government's "no sex without marriage" message isn't just for kids anymore.
Now the government is targeting unmarried adults up to age 29 as part of its abstinence-only programs, which include millions of dollars in federal money that will be available to the states under revised federal grant guidelines for 2007.
The article goes on to discuss how women ages 19-29 are the group having the largest number of children outside of marriage, so the shift in policy is meant to encourage people to wait until they're married to have children. Some of those women are certainly having children on purpose (outside of marriage? The horror!), and many probably will never get married. The policy claims to be aimed at all adults, but in reality it's an incredibly paternalistic way of controlling women's bodies and women's sexuality well beyond their youth. Don't have sex, ladies, but make sure you're treating your pre-pregnant bodies properly!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Condom Lubrication, Pronto!

Several weeks ago I noticed on Come As You Are, the website of an awesome Canadian cooperatively owned sex toy store, a claim that "While many people are unaware of it, most lubricated condoms use a silicone lube." Shortly thereafter, a friend noticed the same claim on the same page, and emailed me to confer about whether we thought it was true. I had never heard that before, and it concerned me. Silicone lube is bad for silicone and cyberskin toys. Here I am telling people to cover their dildos and vibes with condoms to make for easier, safer sharing and cleanup, and the lube on the condoms may be breaking down the material of their toys! So I sent out some emails that went something like this:

Dear Trojan,

I would like to know what kind of lube is used on your lubricated condoms.

Love,
Amanda


I sent the same email to Durex, Lifestyles, and Kimono. So far I’ve only heard back from Trojan. They not only sent me a lovely email within two weeks, but they also sent me information and a coupon via snail mail! Did you know that Church & Dwight manufacture not only Trojan Condoms, but also Arm & Hammer and Brillo, among many other products? Me neither.

But on to what’s important:

Dear Ms. [Amanda],
>
[…]In regard to your inquiry, most of our Trojan® condoms have a water- based lubricant. Our Trojan® Supra Condoms, which are made out of polyurethane, have a silicone-based lubricant.[…]
LaMarr Jefferson
Consumer Relations Representative


My guess is that this statement is representative of most other companies. Kimono, in particular, loves to promote the pH balanced, silky Aqua-Lube they use on their condoms. Generally speaking I’m willing to rest assured that my latex condom-covered toys are safe from both bacteria and breakdown.

Now, what to tell sex-toy users with latex sensitivity? I'll let you know what I hear from Durex about their Avanti polyurethane condom!

In the meantime, via Fleshbot, check this out: Pronto Condoms are easily applied in a matter of seconds, without fingernailed-hands ever having to touch them. Quite the innovation!

DykeTees, Gender in NY, So Long Santorum!

I wish I had owned this teeshirt during my Smith career, and especially this summer in P-town, because it's hard to be a queer woman with a boyfriend sometimes! DykeTees actually has a lot of awesome teeshirt designs -- and if your friends are like mine, these tees would make great ramakwanzhanumastice presents!

New York City is moving towards the separation of sex and gender; the city's Board of Health will be voting in December on a proposal that would allow an individual to change the gender marker on his or her birth certificate without having had what is usually clinically termed "sex reassignment surgery". The costs of surgery are prohibitive for many and this alone is good enough reason to change the way gender assignment legality is handled. Many don't feel that they need surgery in order to live as their true gender; that the NYC proposal reflects this ideology is a major step forward. Those wishing to change the gender marker on their birth records (which opens the door to changing all legal IDs) will still need affidavits from a psychiatrist and a medical doctor. They will need to have lived in their gender full-time for two years. The Times article on the subject ("New York Plans to Make Gender Personal Choice", Damien Cave, 11/7/2006) is relatively well done, although I strongly dislike the term "gender of choice". In any case, good work New York City!

It is now 11:15 PM, and the pundits et. al. have called Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Ohio for the Dems. I'm reluctant to get too excited until more of the votes have been counted, but I can't resist the moment: So Long, Santorum! We'll be seeing you (in our bedrooms).

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Update Like Woah

Wow, it's been ages. I can't remember the last time I went this long between posts.

I spent the last 5 days in Northampton. I was visiting a friend for his birthday, and since I was in town I arranged to have coffee/lunch/dinner/drinks with Smithies galore. I also managed to spend a lot of time sitting in my favorite coffee shop reading. I feel totally refreshed and ready to take on the world (or at least the job applications I've been putting off).

I love the fact that a certain amount of sex-positivity is taken for granted in Northampton. At Monday night's birthday celebration, between conversations about the social politics of stripping and the book The Ethical Slut, a friend asked a question about HPV. I turned to two other friends to see if they knew the answer more specifically. The topic quickly turned to the HPV vaccine, and something beautiful happened. What had been a 4-person conversation suddenly encompassed the entire party, and there we were: 12 of us, different ages, vastly different interests, all discussing Gardasil over drinks. Is it any wonder that I miss the Pioneer Valley?

There's so much I want to write about! SAME SEX [not just gay] marriage in New Jersey, Andrea Dworkin and anti-porn feminism, dressing in girl-drag, people who should be in porn, women (especially lesbians) as vampires, and sex... lord, for the first time in a long time, I really just want to write about sex. Not sure how much of that I'll post here, though.

Unfortunately, all of that will have to wait, because tonight I have to write about anal toys for the store's website. Rough, huh?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

the fundamental things apply

I couldn’t fall asleep last night, because I couldn’t stop thinking about kissing.

It started out simply enough: I miss kissing. It’s been a while. Not terribly long, but long enough for me to notice it. I’m very much looking forward to my next kiss.

But the social politics of where my next kiss is likely to come from… they’re complicated. Which led me to think about who we decide to kiss and who we don’t, and how those kisses cement themselves in our memories.

There are the people you intend to kiss right from the beginning. You like him, he likes you, you’re both fairly sure it will happen eventually. Before long, everything begins to center around the tension. There are those long, drawn out moments where you’re close enough that you could kiss, close enough to feel the electricity between you. If you’re me, you seize these moments to look panicked and hide your face in whatever medium is available: a menu, purse, pillow, it doesn’t really matter, as long as he can’t see the mix of excitement, embarrassment, and impatience that’s written all over your face. It’s a good thing I don’t play poker.

I’m notorious for running out of patience in these situations. Maybe this is part of the reason I like to sub – I adore those long moments, the anti-ci-pa-tion, the absolute agony of it – ooh, just thinking about it makes me shivery. But I can’t hang on to it. I need someone to force me to wait, or else I go into instant gratification mode. When I was younger, I was a little too blunt about it. I believe I once said, in a movie theater, “so… are you going to kiss me?” In retrospect, I should have kept my mouth shut. That relationship was better left un-consummated. But as I got older, my technique for fast-forwarding got a little more sassy. After getting my soon-to-be beau to pin me and demand what I was thinking, I did my best to look demure and murmured “I… I was just wondering when you’re going to kiss me.” Pushy? Me? Of course not.

I have never had a kiss take me completely by surprise. That seems like a shame. Even the ones that were relatively unexpected had at least a couple of hours worth of build up. I guess they caught me off guard because I was just on the verge of thinking “oh… are we going to end up kissing?” when smack, it happened. Sitting on the bed (okay, laying, but really it was totally platonic!) and suddenly there we are, makeout city. And again the next night in the kitchenette on the sly.

Some of the kisses that have had the biggest effect on my life – the ones I should really remember – are so fuzzy that I can’t really say exactly how they happened, but I know they did. I know it happened in my room, probably on the floor, and she looked unbelievable in my red corset, and I was terribly jealous because she had just kissed our friend. I can’t remember that kiss, but I remember one very early the next morning, after the friend had gone to bed.

I know there are people in my life I kissed too much, and people I never should have kissed at all. The ones that stick with me, though, are the ones I wish I’d kissed more. Longer, harder, more attentively. I let myself brush things off as meaningless, listened to the voices in my head telling me not to get too close because this one was likely to bite (and she did! Although not in the way the voices suggested), and didn’t kiss her the way she deserved to be kissed. I didn’t want to push too hard, so I let her turn over and go to sleep in borrowed pajamas, when I should have kept kissing her and kissing her until our lips were bruised. I bet, if I had done that, we would have spent a lot more time kissing in the months that followed. It makes me feel… wasteful.

But over and over, I keep coming back to my next kiss. You can’t remember or not remember a kiss that hasn’t happened yet. You can’t regret it, analyze it to death, replay it over and over in your mind. Any kiss that exists in the future is absolute, ideal, complete as-is. It’s almost enough to make you want to hold back and not let it happen.

Almost. Not quite.

Popping my Sugasm Cherry: Sugasm #51

The best of the sex blogs this week by the bloggers who blog them. Spotlighting the top 3 posts voted by Sugasmer participants. Want in Sugasm #52? Submit a link to your best post of the week using this form. Participants, repost the linklist within a week and you’re all set.


This Week’s Picks

Tempting Decisions — a dialogue (http://junohenry.wordpress.com)

Petting Teacher (http://dirtydetails.blogspot.com)

D-Day for Dior (http://theholidaylife.blogspot.com)



Mr. Sugasm Himself

Porn Fatigue (http://sugarbank.com)


Editors’ Choice

First Taste (http://engrailed.com)


More Sugasm

Join the Sugasm



Erotic Writing and Experiences

Ahh The Weekend - The Second Night (http://mandyseroticlife.blogspot.com)

Giving it my all (http://sexandtheivy.com)

I want you (http://sexcakes.blogspot.com)


Like Kids in a Candy Story Part II (http://www.taratainton.com)

Phone subbacultcha (http://pick-up-pieces.blogspot.com)

The Story of Fifteen (http://confessions112.blogspot.com)

There’s Something About A Blonde (http://makemycopcome.blogspot.com)

U wanan cybr? (http://finforhertograb.blogspot.com)



BDSM and Fetish

The First of a Trifecta (http://aliceinawonderbra.blogspot.com)

FuckFace!!! And other KINKY Fantasies of Mine…. (http://totalsensuality.blogspot.com)

A Great Session (http://radicalvixen.com/blog)

Halloween Costumes (http://www.caramelvixen.com)


Overdue (http://thebinside.blogspot.com)

‘She’s spanked, Jim’: Science Fiction & Fantasy in Spanking Films (http://adelehaze.com)

Spanking in space (http://www.spankingwriters.com)

Vancouver Ink (http://darkside-journey.blogspot.com)



Thoughts on Sex and Relationships

Bow, chicka chicka, wow (http://www.jessicagoldharalson.com)

Melanaise’s Specs (Da Bootyologist) (http://wetbeyondbelief.blogspot.com)

My top 5 (http://hard-and-fast.blogspot.com)

The Politics of Tease and Denial (http://fullfrontalpolitics.com)


Swinger vs. Poly: What Exactly IS Polyamory? Part 1 (http://perverselypoly.blogspot.com)

The Vibe Is Dead, Long Live The Vibe!! (http://talktovanessa.com)


NSFW Pics (& a video)

Casey Parker Poses For DDGirls (http://www.ddgirlsblog.com)

CockCuntblogging Wednesday 9 (http://shayssexcolumn.blogspot.com)


Emergency Boobs For The Sniggs (http://www.internetisforporn.com)

Erection Workout (http://myhotbox.blogspot.com)

Monica passes the phat booty test (http://phatbootysolos.ilovejulienight.com)

Natural Beauty (http://hotboxbabe.thumblogger.com)

ObsessionArt (http://eroticandy.blogspot.com)



Sex News and Sexy Reviews

Alt-Porn for Everyone! (http://sexualevolution.blogspot.com)

Fleshlight - first impressions (http://nakedcondo.blogspot.com)

NEW Kinky & Cultural/Political Designs Added! (http://www.tarasnaughtyshop.com)

Top 5 Pornos to Jerk Your Halloweenie To (http://blog.johnqafterhours.com)

Monday, October 23, 2006

saying no.

I suck at boundaries. I've always been this way, especially when I feel like I'm not in control of a situation.

I'm a sex-positive person, I love sex, I'm empowered, all of those things -- so even when something makes me a little bit uncomfortable, I push myself. Because, "I'm sex-positive," I think, "why am I reluctant to explore this?" Or in some cases, "I've done this before, why am I having a problem with it now?" Almost always, I'm the one putting pressure on me (with a couple of notable exceptions). I spend so long exploring whether my initial "no" is really, truly a no, that by the time I realize it is I'm in over my head.

By then, I'm paralyzed. I don't know how to get out of it. I stop speaking and close my eyes and pretend that if I stay really quiet, the whole situation will cease to exist. It doesn't. Whether or not I choose to excuse myself from the situation at that point, it ends with me crying, feeling alternately like a bully and a failure, and terribly, terribly embarassed.

What worries me is that I recognize my inability to honor my "no" not just in sexual situations, but in romantic ones too -- I get caught in a place where I think saying no would sound too strong, or I don't want to bruise any egos, and instead of just being honest I ignore the signs and play for time, and everyone ends up the worse for wear.

I've been telling women not to be afraid to say no for nine years. Why can't I get through to myself?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

HPV Politics: Tell Someone

I'm really peeved about the politics of Merck's "Tell Someone" HPV awareness campaign. If you haven't seen the TV ads, allow me to fill you in. Several women talk to the camera as though the camera-person literally just walked up to them and said "Did you know that cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus?" They describe HPV as "a common virus" (which, of course, it is), and say that while most women's bodies can get rid of HPV on their own, the virus can cause cervical cancer -- and other diseases.

By which, of course, they mean genital warts. There isn't a single reference to sex in the entire commercial, even though HPV is sexually transmitted. But any mention of sex would be read in popular culture as an assertion that women who get cervical cancer are sluts -- since, as we all know, only sluts get STIs. Merck doesn't want any flak from the religious fanatics, nor do they want to label their vaccine as The Slut Shot. What will really help prevent the spread of HPV is frank discussion of how it is transmitted, how it can be prevented, how precancerous cells are detected, and how any woman who has any genital contact with anyone is potentially at risk. It's not a scare tactic, it's the truth. And, I hope, knowing that HPV isn't only spread through sexual intercourse will help to break down the stereotype that only "sluts" get STIs.

The ads also don't mention Gardasil, Merck's newly approved vaccine which targets the two strains of HPV that cause 70% of cervical cancer cases (16 & 18) and those that cause 90% of cases of genital warts (6 & 11). The only vague reference to the vaccine is when a mother pats her daughter's head and tells the camera, "I'm going to talk to her doctor about way to prevent HPV infection at her next check up." I imagine this is intended to avoid making women rush to their doctors and demand the vaccine, which is recommended for women 9-26, but especially for 11 & 12 year olds, since the vaccine is most likely to be effective if administered before sexual activity begins.

You don't want HPV, obviously, but it's not worth worrying about 24/7. Just as a refresher: Have a pap test regularly, follow up on any irregular results, use condoms/ dams/ non-microwavable plastic wrap /gloves when you're doin' it, especially if you don't know your partner's STI status. There. Thank you for indulging the sex educator in me, she's been bored lately.

In other news, I watched a TV movie tonight called Satan's School for Girls, which was set at a New England women's college -- but I guess Satan's College for Women just didn't sound as sexy!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Girls Gone Wild: Halloween

I haven't quite digested how I feel about this New York Times article about the trend towards super-sexy Halloween costumes for women, but you should check it out.

As I read it I kept going back to Smith's Convocation Controversy, and of course the infamous Immorality party. Are we dead-set on sexing it up for these special occasions as a way of exploring our sexuality, or because it's the only option presented? Regarless, should we be thinking a little more carefully about the message our attire is sending?

On the other hand, my Immorality outfit last year clearly said "Do me" -- and that's exactly what I intended it to say. It worked, too, although it took a little longer than I hoped.

Birth Control Review, Love Machine, Sexus...

This article, and overview of hormonal birth control options, ran in the New York Times this week. It contains the most information about the "new" (released in 2000) IUD I've seen in the media thus far. A former NP at Smith's Health Services, someone I trust and appreciate, had some really good things to say about the IUD, called Mirena. What this article alludes to (although to go into detail would be beyond its scope) is the fact that too many women aren't using contraceptives, or aren't using them properly, due to lack of education and the expense of the products.

Audacia Ray reviews The Love Machine at Fleshbot this week. We had one of those at the store I worked in this summer. For some reason the thing has two separate on-buttons, so no one could ever figure out how to turn it on -- and once they'd seen it, they had to see it on. Sometimes it was a great way for me to strike up a conversation with customers, but more often it was a distraction and a pain in the butt. Not in the nice way. Want more sex machines? Check out Timothy Archibald's Sex Machine gallery.

I'm off to bed to start reading Henry Miller's Sexus. It's a story of a 33 year old man who falls in love with a woman who is not his wife, and his obsession with getting her (from what I understand), and it's book one of Miller's Rosey Crucifixion series. I love a good book!

three AM and I wanna go to bed...

I've been drinking tea, watching Katherine Hepburn movies, and writing blurbs about sex toys for three hours. Fun stuff, eh? Anyhow, this line from The Philadelphia Story caught my fancy:
Tracy walks off with Kittredge.
Mrs. Lord: Yes, well, you know... The course of true love...
Conner: (nods knowingly) gathers no moss.


Ain't it the truth?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Suicide Girls on CSI: NY

Quick! Run to a TV near you and tune into CBS's crime solving drama CSI:NY where tonight's episode "Oedipus Hex" features several Suicide Girls. From VH1's Rock On TV:
An 18-year-old's dream of becoming a SuicideGirl, a generation of young women and men whose ideals about sexuality do not conform with the mainstream, ends tragically when she is brutally murdered after performing in one of their shows.

Several of the long-time SuicideGirls, including founder Missy Suicide, guest star in this episode. SuicideGirls is a contemporary lifestyle brand and a vibrant, fast growing community of women and men whose ideals of beauty are not represented in mainstream culture. They were founded on the belief that creativity, personality and intelligence are not incompatible with sexy, compelling entertainment. Their website mixes the enthusiasm and do-it-yourself attitude of the best music and alternative culture sites with an unapologetic, grassroots approach to sexuality.

Danny and Lindsay work to find who bludgeoned a young woman to death after her performance with SuicideGirls and their suspect list grows smaller when the murder weapon proves to be a stiletto worn by one of the women. Meanwhile, Mac, Stella and Flack investigate the death of a homeless man turned streetballer who was killed after winning an intense one-on-one game in Rucker Park against one of professional basketball's best.


I don't think the Suicide Girls have ever gotten such mainstream airplay before -- my mother said, "What's a suicide girl?" When I explained (in a much different way than VH1, by the way), she said "And they call themselves that on purpose?" heh. Already I came across one website that referred to SG as an "underground cult." I have a feeling the baby-boomer, middle-of-the-road crowd is going to be abuzz about alt-porn in the coming days. The publicists at SG are doing a bang-up job!

Vibratex, Human Evolution, BABIES and more!

First: my sister Cathy sent me sonogram photos of my niece or nephew, who she says is "8 ounces, healthy as can be, & VERY active!" Holy Crap! Very exciting. Funny how babies look cute even when they're just inky black and white splotches.

Via Fleshbot: According to this article in The Sun, human evolution will reach its pinicle around the year 3006. The average male will be between 6 1/2 and 7 feet tall. Men will have big penises, women will have perky breasts, and everyone will have big clear eyes and coffee colored skin. Unfortunately, it's all downhill from there. Creepy.

If you're in the market for a vbrator and thinking about getting a Rabbit Habit, here's something you should know. Vibratex manufactures two different Rabbit Habits. One of them is jelly-rubber, which leaks phthalates. Phthalates have been banned from children's toys because they may be hazardous to human health (read this post for more info). In the interest of producing safer sex toys, Vibratex also produces an Elastomer Rabbit Habit. Elastomer is a much safer product. From the Vibratex site:
Elastomers are a completely different material. They start out soft and have product added to make them harder. This product is then removed by high vacuum so there are no residual hardeners. No solvents are used in this process and there is no latex. This type of material is ideal for manufacturing a variety of textures.

How can you, the consumer, tell the difference? First of all, the Elastomer product is a touch more expensive (but worth it to not have to worry about your health). Also, the two vibrators look quite a bit different. From Come As You Are, an awesome Canadian co-operative sex toy store:




The first is the original Rabbit Habit; the second is the Elastomer Rabbit Habit. When in doubt, ask a sales clerk!

Back on the subject of the Hair Dance: A friend of mine who is a fabulous dancer does this great move that involves bending at the waist and flipping her hair forward, touching the ground, then rolling back up and flipping her hair back. Hard to describe, but it's pretty hot. The rest of us always tried to mimic it, with mixed results. Whenever I tried to do it, I couldn't get my hair to flip back properly and ended up looking like Cousin It. I was also remembering how certain friends always made fun of me for putting my hair up before going dancing, because always -- without fail -- I would end up taking it down. I just can't dance with my hair up! I need to be able to run my hands through it, pull it back and let it go, let it fall in my eyes and then brush it away, etc. How very average of me!

And lastly: Today is most definitely a no-underwear day. I love those days!