Dec 2010, Twisp, WA. Photo by Ned.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. -Newton’s 3rd Law
Although you see a lot less tie-dye, the sex revolution that began formally organizing in the 60s is ongoing and expanding. DH Lawrence was the fruit of the tree of knowledge and many Americans got hungry for more. We are still asking questions about obscenity, we are still battling for knowledge about our own bodies, and it is increasingly obvious that, no– this isn’t “just a sex thing.” The sex revolution is polyamorous with healthcare, social justice, education, civil rights, class, gender, and age. The orgasms are just an added benefit for those who fight with love on their side. In 2010 there were a lot of battles and many of theme are going to have some interesting ramifications in the coming years. Here are some of my predictions.
Adult Industry Medical v. AIDS Healthcare Foundation
The Situation: AIM received a cease and desist letter forcing them to discontinue services at their home base clinics.
This came as no real surprise, due largely in part to the incredible tenacity of Michael Weinstein over at AHF who has been testing various avenues of attacks for some time. What is important to note about this whole situation is that it is just an expected link in a chain of events originating primarily with the massive 2009 budget cuts to HIV prevention in the state of California. $80 million dollars literally evaporated over night. Perhaps you the reader, much life myself, would hope that healthcare institutions would band together and collaborate to get through these hard financial times and continue the fight against HIV and AIDS together but alas, those are merely the musings and pipe dreams of idealists. During times of monetary famine, the non-profit world more closely resembles the last remaining pond on the African Savannah. The animals become vicious about the few remaining resources that just aren’t enough to support the entire ecosystem.
Adult Industry Medical operates with a $1.4 million annual budget. This is a drop in the bucket in comparison to the financial assets of AHF which operates not only nationwide but also globally. AHF is a behemoth organization and they have done amazing work. They are also amazingly powerful and are often the people in charge of city, county, and state HIV/AIDS programs. They got to this place of authority by consistently maintaining a steely-eyed sense of business and by merging with or taking over smaller community clinics. On one hand, the size and scope of AHF does lead to an increase in much-needed material resources. On the other hand, smaller population-based clinics are often much more successful in maintaining longer term relationships with clients because their unique and individual needs can be more closely met. I have no doubt that AHF is positively killer on the Monopoly board. If AIM is their target, AHF does have the money, political influence, and size to do some very real damage to AIM.
Prediction: In 2011 we are going to see the shoot out at the O.K. Corral. AHF v AIM. Circle the wagons and keep your eye on this story because it’s far from over.
Situation: TSA introduces America to its full body scanners and invasive pat-down procedures.
You’ve no doubt heard about the full body scanners being rolled out to airports in increasing numbers. Each of these scanners costs $170,00 alone and each scanner requires 3 staff members to operate it. TSA plans to deploy 1,800 of these scanners. This investment is so large that there is no way in hell that TSA is going to back down. They can’t. They’ve spent a lot of time convincing people that these are vital, necessary, life-saving devices. Given the lack of jobs, the 3,550 new full-time jobs that opened up with TSA were likely promoted as a boon for the economy. No matter how bad the publicity gets, no matter how many people opt out, TSA is not going to admit that they are inefficient time-wasting devices. I, personally, have no fear of the radiation involved in the scan. I am pissed off by the incredible waste of money especially when I see vital social welfare services being forced to close all over the country. I’m pissed off because a critical analysis of airline security reveals that we are no safer with the full body scanners.
Prediction: The next season of Mad Men features airline travel extensively just to rub our noses in the fact that flying on an airplane used to be fun and now every single part of flying positively sucks.
Situation: Porn industry takes a stand against sexy-times piracy.
Proving that there is a first time for everything, porn formally announced that it is afraid of emerging technology in the hands of casual computer users rather than embracing innovation as it has in the past. Numerous companies have been filing suit against torrent users for illegally downloading porn. On one hand, recognizing that the porn is intellectual property does add legitimacy to the business. On the other hand, porn is a day late and a dollar short in that arena. To be successful, one has to recognize that the way that people are interacting with all forms of media has changed. Smart companies are finding ways to to integrate streaming content onto their sites rather than fighting the way that people have come to acquire entertainment.
Prediction: Due to an inability to innovate in the face of adversity, many major players in porn are going to go bankrupt. In the meantime, not only is your grandma operating a cam site out of her nursing home, she makes more than you do.
Image courtesy of the Bilerco Project
Situation: Craigslist shuts down all erotic services advertisements.
First it was a nationwide change, then it went global. You can no longer advertise erotic services on Craigslist. Sex work opponents, operating under the assumption that limiting advertisement space will halt sex exploitation, have plans to continue intimidating and bullying other websites into silence. For providers and exploiters, this move was annoying at best. Given that roughly 1/3 of CL’s revenue came from posts in the erotic services category, the change may be more problematic. Much like the hydra, many more heads have appeared where Craigslist once was and Melissa Farley is no Hercules.
Prediction: Sex trafficking and the exploitation of children comes to a complete halt.
Another website will rise in popularity and then face severe scrutiny and censorship. Same dance, different song.
Image courtesy of Free Minds & Markets
Situation: The obscenity charges against John Stagliano are dismissed.
Essentially, law enforcement botched what would have been an easy conviction under the Bush administration. Then again, this isn’t as simple as a conservative administration versus a more liberal one. The FCC controls “public airwaves” but in the age of the internet, what the fuck does that even mean? I was thrilled that courts dismissed these charges (because they were bullshit) but where the government is loosening up, private companies tightened their belts about what they would allow on their websites. It’s impossible for me to talk about this issue without also mentioning the incredible amount of porn censorship that occurred during 2010. Steve Jobs declared war on porn and Facebook thinkings that women talking about porn is more offensive than rape. 1st Amendment protections only refer to whether or not the government can restrict speech, not the private sector. Not only is Facebook much more efficient at limiting the ways people express themselves, they have the ability to censor anything they want with impunity.
Prediction: The federal government is going to keep its finger on the pause button in regards to obscenity indictments in 2011. However…
Situation: Decisions about net neutrality continue to be made by people who are still confused as to whether or not the internet is a dump truck.
The FCC is committed to net neutrality, for now. Sadly most Americans have no idea what the hell net neutrality actually is and they appear to be a bit misguided by the deliberately ambiguous language used by neutrality opponents. If you are one of the many people who are confused about this issue, allow me to explain a bit more. Right now, ISP’s are able to operate like the mafia. The can make some websites load slowly and they can make some websites never load at all. Without net neutrality, major corporations do get to be the gatekeepers of the internet. Keep in mind that not all cities or communities have alternatives to the major ISP’s. Owning a lot of bandwidth does not mean that you own speech. In a similar vein, .XXX was discussed (yet again) in 2010. We cannot have .XXX and have a neutral internet.
Prediction: I do think that net neutrality will be challenged, as promised, by the GOP. Sadly, a shockingly small number of people actually understand what this actually means. While .XXX has been postponed, I have a very bad feeling that it will be a reality in the not-too-distant future. It’s really hard for me to say what is going to happen with internet regulation. On one hand, we’re all just a few /b/ posts away from a veritable hell and the very founders of the internet did/do believe in free speech. On the other hand, people who don’t know how to copy and paste text seem to be very vocal about how they believe the internet should work. My gut tells me that 2011 is going to have a lot of free speech challenges.
Situation: Adios, DADT!
“Don’t ask, don’t tell,” was repealed. While a very real part of me was annoyed that people with alternative sexualities can die in war without first being able to marry their partner, the fact is we needed this victory. The military as an employer can no longer fire someone for being queer. This sets an incredible precedent for employees in other workplaces to fight discrimination. No one should be fired (or hired) on the basis of their sex, gender presentation, race, ethnicity, age, sexual preference, or HIV status. Those factors are bullshit. Unfortunately, when people are fired (or hired) based on discrimination it can be hard to prove unless the asshole behind it is also and idiot who documented their bigoted decision-making process.
Prediction: We’re going to hear a lot more about queer rights. Marriage is going to be a happening thing in the coming year. We’re also going to hear a lot more stories about queer discrimination but don’t be alarmed by them! Get out there and support those folks because step 1 is coming out of the closet. Step 2 is calling people out when they try to shove you back inside. We need more people to speak up about inequalities in their workplace and by this I mean anyone and everyone who is/was damn good in their job and lost it because some jerk-face had ill conceived notions about humanity. This is not just a prediction, it is also a call to action. Make it your 2011 resolution to stop letting people get away with this.
Coco de Mer, Los Angeles
Situation: Wider variety of “green” sex products.
In 2010 we were wild about having more earth friendly orgasms. Toys are moving away from those horrible DD batteries and moving towards rechargeable styles and models. There was a proliferation of lubes ready to meet your needs. Although some green products aren’t really so “green,” this was the trend of the year. Whether or not your product is certified to help Mama Earth, fewer of us had those damnable moments when you were just about to come only to find out that the battery died. For those of us with lube sensitivities, it was a blast to try out the wide variety of options. As more and more women are picking up the reins in adult entertainment, products are becoming way more vagina friendly. GOODBYE crappy jelly toys! GOODBYE yeast infection inducing lubes!
Prediction: Solar-powered vibrators.
So folks, thanks for a great year. I already have a bunch of things planned for 2011 and I look forward to sharing them with you. 2010 was one hell of a ride for me personally. I fell madly in love, I went to Haiti, I got a dog, I fended off a 3AM burglary naked with a hammer, and I got to be involved with so many amazing projects. I don’t have anything bad to say about 2010 other than that there was a lot going on but I can’t begrudge an exciting ride. I can’t wait to see what 2011 has in store for me.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Photo by Ned.