Tag Archives: reactions

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

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 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.

“Brutish” Male Sexuality: Part 2

Yesterday I did a take down of the myth of the sexually aggressive male using science. Now I want to share some stories as further proof that we’re buying into a harmful lie.

In my teen years I regarded romance as something created by men to convince women to have sex with them. My very few unsatisfying sexual experiences combined with a rabidly sex-negative culture reinforced my viewpoint that sex was solely a man’s prerogative.

Then I grew up. Continue reading

Good Men Project In Penthouse

The Good Men Project recently decided to run some excerpts in Penthouse Magazine. Some people are upset. Here’s the comment I posted on Tom Matlack’s defense of the decision.

As a female, I see not one thing wrong with pictures or videos made for sexual titillation. I probably have a bigger porn collection than most commenters here.

But I understand why some (ok, lots) of pornography bothers people. Some of our worst social inequalities and anxieties tend to be projected in porn. Racist porn? Check. Misogynistic porn? Check. There is nothing new about this and even a cursory glance at porn from the way back machine will demonstrate this phenomenon. I have a small collection of books with very graphic porn etchings from the 18th century and I started to notice the social theme of the time: religion. Nuns banging monks, young cloistered women greeting winged penises with hoisted skirts, and acts of religious penance (flagellation) being used sexually. I think this was one way for people to channel social anxieties about debates over secularism vs. church power.

What I want people to think about is that naked people sexing it up in front of a camera is not inherently evil or exploitative. However, it’s important to note that the only place where women consistently outrank men in pay is performing in porn or  for sex work, industries usually controlled by men. That is what I find exploitative.

So what kind of porn is Penthouse? Lots of faux lesbian slumber parties, kind of silly premises, tons of naked women solo shoots, and a refreshingly hot cast of male characters. (As a woman who watches porn, the amount of unattractive and unkempt men having sex with hot women gets on my  nerves. Gay porn is the only place I’ve seen reliably sexy men.) Going through their site I found one video with a questionable title (“Choke on it Bitch” ) that was probably about deep throating. Not my bag, but toying with power dynamics and engaging in rough sex in this way is a huge turn on for some people, regardless of gender.

What I don’t see in Penthouse that I see in some other porn: the message that women enjoying sex are some alien breed of female. That the only way we can describe them is as unabashed no-good slatternly creatures because no respectable woman could enjoy deep penetration, anal sex or oral sex. I mean, we’re only in it for the babies, right?

And this is where people decrying porn as inherently negative collide with porn that is negative: assuming women cannot really be into any of this. That the only reason a woman would have sex in front of a camera for money is drug addiction, low-self esteem or some other social malady. This isn’t to say that doesn’t happen, but this is not the whole story.

I agree that the images are pretty homogeneous but offering slight variations on a theme is what successful porn brands seem to do. Also, large and financially successful brands are hesitant to change anything about their established formula. The answer is not to tell these porn companies to bring in a wider array; the answer is to support porn companies that represent something outside of the mainstream. They’re out there, just use your internet to find them.

So, now that some people are past the knee-jerk reaction of Good Men + Porn = Error, think about the huge benefit of a magazine reaching outside of the bounds of its constituency and singing to the streets instead of the choir. Maybe with enough conversation and reflection about rape culture and the ways we sexualize certain populations, public taste in porn will start to change.

And to Tom: I’m sure the outrage and reactions are difficult to deal with concerning your decision, but it’s hard to reach across the aisle and step outside of thought communities. Big ups.

EDIT: The Good Men Project deleted my comment. Was I too late to the commenting party? Techie glitch? Did I say something offensive? This makes less sense than a bunny wearing a pancake hat.

UPDATE: Tom Matlack was a swift responder: “We switched servers and have yet to copy everything over” Mystery solved!

How To Protest Creepy TSA Searches

Creepy TSA
image via http://roguejew.wordpress.com

The TSA search practices have got to stop. Aside from being a complete invasion of privacy, the way they go about violating our personal space is wholly creepy. In light of the most recent reports of the TSA actions re-traumatizing a rape survivor and making a woman cry on her honeymoon, I’ve compiled a humorous little protest guide. Continue reading

Why the Alexa Di Carlo Thing Matters

A wise friend once said, in reference to dating, “It sucks to put your trust in an untrustworthy person.”

Truer words could not apply to the Alexa Di Carlo scandal. I think this paragraph from Expose A Bro, the blog that is outing Alexa as Thomas “Pat” Bohannan, sums up the accumulated violations pretty well:

Bohannan wasn’t just harmlessly getting his kicks maintaining an anonymous blog where he could live out fantasies of being a desirable woman. He knowingly spread lies about sex work, advocated unsafe sexual practices, had sexually-inappropriate online interactions with underage youth, all the while passing himself off as an academic and trusted adult who is trained in human sexuality. (Refuted here.) He used bold-faced lies about his qualifications to try and discredit real sexuality activists, and laughed at their setbacks. He stole images from real models and passed them off as him– implicating these innocent bystanders as suspects in his activities. He bullied one activist by harassing her via email, and gleefully celebrated the demise of a valued sex workers rights publication, $pread Magazine. He threatened to expose another sex blogger. He purposefully mislead and misinformed his large online audience about important sexuality issues. He tricked escorts into talking to him and having sex with him by using “Alexa” to vouch for him as being a safe and respectful client. (More escorts are talking privately about feeling violated by having had sex with this con artist.) He ran a “sex education” message board where minors trusted him enough to share nude photographs of themselves.

Providing sex education for young people is difficult enough as it stands: dealing with fundamentalist groups determined to eradicate any talk of sex in schools, worrying losing your job for uncensored sex discussions, struggling for legitimacy in academia, making your voice heard above the din of bad advice from recognized experts and even defending oneself from personal character attacks.

So when someone makes a fake identity and starts doling out sex information using false credentials, this job gets much, much harder.

And when young people come forward about this person soliciting nudie pics from minors? Sheer litigious rage bubbles forth.

(I’m not even going to get into a discussion about the deplorable way Bohannan allegedly used the false sex worker identity to gain the trust of actual sex workers so he could employ their services. Wrong. Really, really wrong.)

There are some people that insist this person was never using fake credentials, simply mentioning living in San Francisco and going to some graduate program here.

No. I’ll just put that notion to rest with some screengrabs after the jump. Continue reading

Men: Too Stupid to Take Daily Birth Control?

Statue in Oslo's Vigeland Park. Photo by Mark Wilkinson.

In case you haven’t heard, Israel developed a male birth control pill. The drug, which works by stripping protein from sperm that is necessary for conception, is about to go into clinical trials. Aside from being the first male oral contraceptive, this is also the first non-hormonal oral contraceptive. Awesome.

But the awesomeness is dampened by blatant sexism from men’s female partners. A snip from the Telegraph article:

A big drawback against men being in control of fertility is the fear they would forget to take a pill.

Polls have repeatedly shown wives and partners do not trust their men to remember to pop a pill every day.

But now that problem has been solved. The new pill can be taken either once a month or once every three months.

Professor Breitbart said: “I think most women would trust their man to remember once a month or once a quarter.”

So, women never forget to take their birth control pills since we are paragons of domestic and sexual responsibility? Spare me.

I posted the article on my Facebook page and my friends jumped on the debate wagon. Here are the highlight points and why they’re wrong: Continue reading

Screw Critical Thought. Blame Women, Feminism, or Men.

In Ur Societiez Feminizin Yer Menfolk

My friend Lydia W sent me an email with the subject heading: terrible article you could have a field day with.

I clicked on the link. I read the article “Are Women Feminizing Men?“. My response was simple:

“I almost started crying when I read this.”

Matthew Fitzgerald (author of Sex-ploytation: How Women Use Their Bodies to Extort Money From Men, an evidence-free rook, aka rant book) managed to spit out some of the worst sexist stereotypes in two tiny pages with nary a source to back up his claims.

Blanket statements about human nature applied to one gender? Check.

“typical female hypocrisy”

“women — shrewd and manipulating as they are”

“[Women] use [power] for sexual blackmail…”

Painting men as sex-centered simpletons? Check.

“Let’s face it: A man’s needs are pretty minimal. All he really asks for is regular sex and a cold one.”

“most guys will do just about anything to get laid.”

Power-Crazed Women

He seems to think that women are mad with power and that our uterii are staging a media takeover, saying “far more influential are movies like Mel Gibson’s cotton candy pander-fest What Women Want”.

Really? Let’s take a peek at the top grossing films of the last decade.

TOP TEN FILMS OF THE 2000s

(unadjusted domestic gross totals)

  1. Avatar (2009)
  2. The Dark Knight (2008)
  3. Shrek 2 (2004)
  4. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)
  5. Spider-Man (2002)
  6. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
  7. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  8. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  9. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
  10. The Passion of the Christ (2004)

Every last one was a male-centric plot line. Nearly every last one is an action movie. All of them were directed by men, produced by men and starring men. Women are a minority behind and in front of the cameras. (For insight as to why, read this Salon’s roundtable with 10 powerful Hollywood women).

Power-Hungry Women?

So what’s the real dirt on women and power in this country? Gender equality isn’t as equal as this guy is shouting about. Yes, women are making gains in education but at a time when educational systems are crumbling. Yes, women make up 52% of the workforce but in low paying positions. In the Forbes top ten richest there are two women from the Walton Family (Wal-Mart) but their wealth was inherited.

Really, the U.S. ain’t doing so hot with gender equality. According to the World Economic Forum, the U.S. ranks #31 out of 115 for equality. Read the WEF report here, relevant snip below:

The Global Gender Gap Report measures the size of the gender inequality gap in four critical areas:

  1. Economic participation and opportunity – outcomes on salaries, participation levels and access to high-skilled employment
  2. Educational attainment – outcomes on access to basic and higher level education
  3. Political empowerment – outcomes on representation in decision-making structures
  4. Health and survival – outcomes on life expectancy and sex ratio

The Index’s scores can be interpreted as the percentage of the gap that has been closed between women and men.

This was out of 115 countries. When I read about women’s lives in other parts of the world, I really want to cry. Rape, honor killings, systematic abuses, minimal autonomy. Horrifying. We so often forget that in our own country, women have only really been making gains over the last century. Women around the globe need a leg up after centuries of unequal treatment. Please read this article in the New York Times about women’s rights around the world.

So to the haters out there: women’s rights are still an issue. We’re making progress, but not enough. I struggle to understand why people (usually men) direct such vitriol at women trying to succeed in life.

What boggles my mind even further is that Matthew Fitzgerald’s writings center around women as shrewd manipulators using sex as bait. I read his book’s Amazon reviews to get a feel for his audience and what I saw…well, it’s disturbing to think he’s right about any people in the world. But what he says resonates with some. In half of the reviews people exclaim “OMG! Women are totally like that!” but the only women I’ve seen use their bodies for financial gain were sex workers. So, women of the world using sex for manipulation: stop lying. Go ahead and be a sex worker. It’s OK. Just be upfront and tell the guy you’re fucknig him for rent money or a new purse.

And to the guys complaining/writing about those women: stop dating them. There are plenty of women that enjoy their financial freedom. There are also women that enjoy sex for its own sake.

At the heart of his writing, and much of the anti-feminist parading as anti-misandrist writing, is a very true frustration.

Are Equality Policies Rooted in Sexist Thought?

“The modern man walks around on eggshells, afraid of saying the “wrong thing,” scared of showing his natural sexual interest to a woman, scared of being scorned, humiliated, or even fired — scared of his own true self.”

Exaggeration (and heteronormative) but a phenomenon I see with some men of my generation. They’re…. Peter Pans? No. Hesitant is a better word. Prone to inertia. And I think the writer is on to something when he points out the role of politically correct speech and sexual harassment charges.

Before you get all riled up: sexual harassment is serious. Anyone in a position of power manipulating an underling sexually deserves punishment. But the way we lay out the law sometimes hinders equality and political correctness can be an ineffective solution.

I am thankful to have laws that prevent my higher-ups from sexually harassing or coercing me. But I resent a law on the books stopping someone from calling me “babe” or “chick”. I’m a grown woman and I should be able to easily say “Stop it”. If I have to, take the matter to a higher-up and keep pursuing it. There is something creepily paternalistic about some of the sexual harassment guidelines, particularly when schools use suspension as a behavioral intervention for inappropriate touching. I am also frustrated with a world that lumps flirting with sexual harassment, that pegs any sexual move from a guy as predatory and aggressive. Sexism underlies these policies. We assume men to be sexually aggressive and women always dislike sexual attention and need outside intervention. The regulations are necessary but we need to look at ineffective and harmful aspects of these policies, lest our solutions create more problems than answers.

Which leads me to an uncomfortable question, still unresolved in my own mind: when we create policies to spur equality through encouraging preferential treatment for disadvantaged groups, should those policies only be short term? By carving them in stone will we, over time and gains in equality, have laws with unequal treatment? And are we sending the message that women need this protection permanently? We certainly need to give a leg up to historically oppressed and disadvantaged people but at what point can we resume an even playing field? Do permanent laws of preferential treatment hurt in the long-term and uphold racist and sexist ideals?

The Blame Game

Whatever the answers to the above questions, one thing is certain: we cannot sit and point fingers at other groups or nebulous ideologies. Yes, it’s comforting name our monsters but ultimately misleading. Men are not at fault for all the world’s problems. Women are not at fault for the current masculinity crisis and anxieties. Feminism (whatever you think that is) has not ruined gender relations. Agitated, yes, but that needed to happen. The old gender order wasn’t working.

But when we agitate a cultural bedrock like gender roles we need to think critically about how to reconstruct gender relations in society. Some would say eradicate gender, but I disagree. You will find cultures with two, three, four, five or six genders but you will not find gender-less socieites. So while I feel so sad when I see inflammatory, gender-stereotyped, sexist analysis that plays the blame game, I know it’s a mistake to write it off wholesale. Just because someone else won’t engage in critical thought (or provide any evidence to back their claims) doesn’t mean the frustration isn’t valid.

The problem is not feminism or women withholding sex. It’s that we need a new construction of masculinities, alongside femininities, that deal with harmful aspects of male gender while encouraging men to shine and succeed in life. We need to deal with the sexist man-bashers of every gender. We need to deal with restrictive gender roles in general because the times, they’re a-changin’.

“Sex Really” Ad is Misandry. Stop The Man Hate

Still from Trojan Evolve Ad via theinspirationroom.com

I wanted to write about orgasms today. I hoped to finally post the orgasm advice article that’s been sitting in my post queue for two weeks. But the net is aflutter with more pressing things than pleasurable chemically induced sensations. (Still want to read about orgasms? OK, here you go.)

I mentioned the awful Sex Really ad in my Sex Tech conference review on Monday. Now that video is making the rounds and earning labels like ineffective, negative stereotype promoting and misogynistic. I agree with all except the last one. Continue reading