Category Archives: Culture

Updates and Errata

Greetings to my dear readers,

You’ve probably noticed some serious posting silence over here. Or maybe you’re just noticing it now as I drag your attention towards  it. First, my apologies. I know how frustrating it can be when you find something you like on the internet and the content remains stagnant.

This is not due to a lack of content inside my own head; to the contrary, my little brain is bursting with ideas. Money is the main thing holding me back right now and I decided that unless the ad revenue on this page is filling my bank account then dealing with comment moderation is not worth it. Also, I want to expand this site to become more interactive and full of easy to navigate information. I got a side job to start saving up and paying to build up the site.

What I’ve been up to

Mostly reorienting what I’m doing with sex education. When I finished graduate school my career path was clear to me: work with youth. I saw adolescent sex education as one of the most important issues and someplace where I could make a difference. Unfortunately, when I accepted Cambridge’s invitation to speak in favor of pornography I didn’t realize how this would impact me being able to work with youth. I touched the porn monster and now I am tainted by that controversial association. (Don’t worry: I regret nothing).

I spent a few months grappling with this new reality and wondering if I should continue with sex education at all. I wondered if I was really making a difference and if the walls I sought to break down would yield to my meddling.

Regardless of what I was feeling inside, I kept trudging and trying to create new content. I kept giving workshops, teaching and speaking. But I wasn’t feeling it. And the stigma of being a female speaking about sex was wearing me down. I had nights where I wanted to set my diploma on fire and have a normal job.

Trinity College Porn Debate

I got another invitation to speak about porn, this time at Trinity College in Dublin. When I accepted I did so mostly because I wanted a vacation and nothing sounded better than visiting my friends in Europe. (I’m currently in Madrid and, aside from my stuffed sinuses, everything is awesome). The organizer also mentioned opportunities for other speaking engagements and I wanted time to speak on something other than porn. I wanted time to address what I think are the real issues impacting sexuality: restrictive ideologies, sexism, anxiety, shame and willful misinformation.

My visit to Dublin was a bit of a game changer. The night before the debate, I delivered a lecture on the human body as a source of pleasure and masturbation as a source of empowerment. Living in the Bay Area I forget what revolutionary concepts these can be. I could see little lights going off in students heads. After the lecture someone asked me, “What is your agenda?”

I thought about it for a moment and responded, “I grew up in a world where pleasure wasn’t something I thought I could have. My body was shameful and not really meant for me. When I was able to change my frame of reference and identify my own desires, I felt empowered. Being able to enjoy my own body changed everything I thought I knew about the world. I want to help people do that in whatever capacity works for them. I want to lift the social weights that preclude them from that experience.”

Where I’m going

I have loads of projects waiting in the wings right now. The rest of the video footage we shot in June is still in editing purgatory. I have a bucket of articles waiting to be written. I have so many ideas for classes and lectures that my brain feels weighted.

Most of what I do is bootstrapped together on one struggling little laptop with the help of my friends in their spare time. I want things to go faster so I’m doing admin work on the side to bankroll these projects.

The good news is that you’ll see much more from me in the coming year. The bad news is it’ll be slow going.

So, dear  reader, I want to thank you for your patience and thank you for all the times you’ve read or commented or passed something along to someone else. Changing the cultural conversation about sex is not an easy task. We’re up against deeply entrenched misconceptions and asking a person to change their worldview is akin to blatantly requesting their mental discomfort. I can only hope that the work I continue to do in the future will have some sort of lasting impact.

Thanks for your time, it’s worth more than you know. When this blog is ready to switch to a private server I’ll be writing here again and will be sure to send a notification that it’s back online. Until then, you can get all up in my Twitter.

Teach It, Write It, Do It,

Jessi

Can We Do It Like Bonobos?

As a burgeoning sexuality student I had a mild obsession with the human implications of bonobo sexual behaviors. They were like this unshared secret of zoology, hidden from sight on nature channels because of apparent prurience and I wondered if we could locate some inherent sexual truth about humanity by looking at bonobos. But doing that means locating the same truths in chimpanzee behavior. Human predilection towards rape, war, and infanticide would be just as valid as promiscuity, cooperation and sex for the fun of it.

In evaluating and understanding our own, often confounding, sexual behaviors I think it’s a mistake to hold any other animal up as an ideal or try to identify immutable parts of our sexual behavior by observing them. Continue reading

Girl Guilt

I stood in front of the bathroom mirror running my hands over the marks he’d left on me. Little nibbles and scratches, like sexual graffiti on my skin. Flashes of his flesh surged through my mind and I smiled as I fantasized about what we could do the next time.

And then it hit me.

Girl Guilt.

A knot of post-sex shame tangled inside of me. I’d violated the most primary tenet of female sexuality: Continue reading

Pipe Dream: Pro-Life Pro-Choice Alliance

As pro-choice activists gather to defend Planned Parenthood funding under Title X the same exhausted fight over abortion rages on, one fraught with violence, anger and divisive rhetoric. You are either for women or against them, support babies or want to kill them. We scream our positions until we become deaf to anything but our own messages.

One pro-life person on Twitter said this:

can hear the #nyc4women rally from my window. Those words are loud and empty…. #prolife

We must ask ourselves how a woman could find a rallying cry for women’s rights empty. What in that message is missing? Continue reading

The Porn That Could Be

Dear Porn Producers of the World:

Many of you are terrible at what you do. You seem to care more about finishing a shoot in one day, getting the pop shot and marketing whatever cheap,crappy rendition of sexually exciting material you’ve made than creating something of real quality.You aren’t even offending me. You are boring the hell out of me.

This demeans how amazing sex can be. Continue reading

The Cambridge Porn Debate Story

Sadly, I cannot make the debate video publicly available. Instead I’ve done my best to recreate the night for you all.

The adrenaline in my veins amplified my heartbeat into a 50,000 watt sound system, overpowering the packed noisy debate hall.

BOOM BOOM.

I tried not to think of the 400 students inside nor the 350 students in the overflow areas. My eyes avoided the camera crews and saw only my stack of notes.

BOOM BOOM.

Did I have everything? BOOM BOOM. Would I have enough time? BOOM BOOM. Was my mouth working? BOOM BOOM. Could I… BOOM BOOM. Had I…BOOM BOOM.

Lauren Davidson, Cambridge Union Society President, quieted the hall and introduced Anna Span, the first speaker from our side. As she began her speech I split myself into two parts, one listening to her story, her work and her criticisms of Lubben, the other shaking in a public speaking panic.

Applause erupted, Anna sat down.

Gail Dines got up. The porn hate began. Continue reading

Sneak Peek: “The Devil and Shelley Lubben” [VIDEO]

I leave San Francisco tomorrow night to go debate this woman. The first two parts of  this documentary are definitely enlightening.

Part I

Part II

More to come, will post as they come in.

UPDATE

Irony of ironies, users within the Youtube community flagged these as pornographic. Here are some alternate links:

Part I

Part II

 

Humans Aren’t Rodents. Porn Isn’t Ruining Marriages.

Look familiar? I thought not.

Humans are not prairie voles. We are not guinea pigs or mice. We’re humans.

Pop science loves to trot out research on rodents to confirm or challenge behavioral assumptions. But what the writers often miss is that our behaviors are shaped by far more than food, fights, flights and fucking. Humans are highly complex social primates and, because of this, our responses to the world can be difficult to explain with simple biology or neurotransmitters.

And yet, as a recent porn hysteria post at The Good Men Project demonstrates, we still love clinging to these simplistic notions. The writers cite our dopamine reward system as evidence that porn’s excitement is ruining marriages. Continue reading

The Privilege of Pleasure: OSU and Tristan Taormino

A few weeks back I wrote about access to sexual information and how social privilege informs the sexual conversations we can access. The current controversy over OSU, Tristan Taormino and the Modern Sex Conference contains an excellent example of this dynamic in play.

You may have heard the hullabaloo over OSU’s decision to uninvite Tristan Taormino from delivering the Modern Sex Conference keynote speech. In response to public criticism OSU sent out a press release and today their spokesperson, Todd Simmons, commented on the situation in an Examiner article. In that article, part of his defense for the decision rests on the assumption that taxpayer dollars cannot be used to pay “somebody who describes herself as a pornographer”.

The thing is, pornography is not illegal and there is no statute I am aware of in Oregon state law that restricts the use of taxpayer fees in this way. He goes on to say that private universities such as Yale and Harvard had every right to book her because they are using private monies.

Welcome to the privilege of pleasure and sexuality.

This is the same general dynamic in sex education. Any groups using public money or grants (outreach organizations, public schools) restrict their conversations to the most conservative common denominator. Never mind that many OSU students want her to speak. Why should public university students have a choice in their education? That right is apparently reserved for private university students.

The way social hierarchies and privilege play out in every aspect of  our lives never fails to amaze me. Private high school students can have unquestioned access to issues about sexual orientation, gender, pleasure and agency while programs in public schools are vulnerable to moral panics and content restrictions. This serves to reinforce a sense of access and privilege in the world.

In a way, I understand why OSU administrators made this decision. Social conservatives don’t usually attack private universities on curricula or education issues. These are institutions for grooming the social elites and their attacks would go nowhere. But a public university is a much easier target to grapple with because of who they serve: the general public, the middle and working class.

At this juncture, I highly doubt they will rescind and reinvite Tristan. The only thing I can hope is the next public university that wrestles with a decision like this will take a chance and defend the intellectual freedom of their student population.