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Free Cookies

Earlier this summer I was walking through Oakland on my way to catch the subway into San Francisco when I came across a young man on an inflatable couch asking me if I wanted a free cookie. His name is Scott and aside from just being a nice guy giving away treats he is also a musician. This is an interesting project and it’s cool to look through his videos and watch what people say when they’re talking about nothing in particular with a stranger sitting on an air sofa who has just offered them a cookie with no strings attached.

Normally you shouldn’t take cookies from strangers. I remember the lecture from kindgergarten. He seemed friendly enough so I took him up on the offer for a free cookie and he interviewed me for his website. I swear it’s all true! Check it out in this video where you can meet some other folks who also live in Oakland.

It was great to meet you, Cookie Man! I hope you and your couch have many great travels meeting people and listening to their stories. Thanks for the snack and listening to mine. Cheers!

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Beyond The Valley Of The Fucks

Long before I did porn, I watched it. Sometimes it was out of pure curiosity. My jaw dropped at images of stretched orifices. I watched in wonder at the full potential of the human body. There are those among us who can process complex mathematical processes in the blink of an eye, there are those among us who can pull a big rig with their teeth, there are those among us who can swim the English Channel and arrive on the shore in time for tea, there are those among us who can sexually consume everything in sight and be hungry for more. I am always humbled by our diversity. I honor our potential and insatiable appetite to continue going further.

In my porn collection I have pornographic clips from the dawn of motion pictures. I watch them repeatedly not for their erotic value but for their very serious contributions to understanding the culture of a time and place. I studied anthropology in my undergrad and I never kicked the habit. Vintage pornography is more than just the thrill of peeking into our grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ secret stash of dirty thoughts. Old dirty films are artifacts and it is a devastating loss to our understanding of the times and the places of humanity that so much of what has been produced has been destroyed.

Porn is fantasy but we get the ideas somewhere. For the most part, porn is just reality on steroids. The advertising industry has relied on erotic tropes for far, far, far longer than any kind of commercial pornography has been available to the masses. When you have a lot of money you pay fine artists to hand paint your porno in oils and then put it in a million dollar frame but it’s always been the most cost-effective methods of producing porn that are trashy. Some of it is but you can paint trash with a brush and oils, too and it has been done on more than a few occasions throughout the course of history. The biggest complaint about porn is that everyone can see it. It is no longer a luxury item.

Porn has its own set of problematic politics but it’s very fucking honest about the politics belonging to everyone else. A chick blowing a ridiculous man with a stupendous mustache will drop a quick but scathing one-liner about a politician. The free speech isn’t just about showing people genitals. It’s also about the ability to criticize public leaders and putting a magnifying glass on cultural norms and then jizzing all over them. Porn isn’t populism so much as it’s, “here’s your fucking populism.” It’s a subtle like difference between fuck me shoes and fuck you shoes. Even before she did porn, no one was looking at the Ivory Soap girl and thinking about the relative cleaning merits that Ivory had to offer. Even if all you thought was, “what a pretty picture,” you were not thinking about soap and it’s already fairly pornographic that dewy virginal white girls are the utter symbol of clean.  Porn did not make that image dirty, it reminded you of why it was dirty all along.

One of my favorite adult flicks is The Erotic Adventures Of Zorro. Parody has always been a major device of pornography and I’ve been delighted by its current renaissance. On one hand, it’s just a kitschy excuse to fuck. On the other hand, it is a softcore film with some positively brilliant cinematography, a very fun script, actors with chemistry and comedic timing, a sense of self-awareness and humility, and an examination of politics, gender, and religion.

The Erotic Adventures Of Zorro does not forget the theme of government corruption and exploitation of the poor and directly parallels it to its own immediate context. The twist is that Zorro plans his attack by masquerading by day as a pansy-ass queer and then fighting for justice as Zorro by night. There are bad gay jokes aplenty the premise is a fascinating study of gender. In this story, it is masculinity that is closeted. Under his full name and with total understanding that his behavior would be reported back to  his father in Spain, Zorro immediately comes up with the plan to feign queerness and he steps into character immediately without any worry or fear about the implications to his reputation whatsoever. The man in the mask with the sword is a secret identity. Flirtation is his primary weapon in destabilizing the power structure.

At the time, “nudie cuties” like Zorro were street legal so long as all of the sex was simulated. The blowjob scene in the field is real, however. It slipped by the censors with an act of very creative film making. The scene is predominantly shot from just behind a pair of horses that the characters had been riding who are watching the scene just in front of the camera perfectly framing the shot. Other shots come through a veil and other visual barriers that obscure the scene just enough to let you know that you’re a voyeur. There are also entire scenes dedicated entirely to political humor. In one scene, a guard runs into the shot announcing that Zorro has left a note but that he needs someone to read it to him because he cannot. In one scene, an obviously poor peasant-hyperbole picks up the note and reads it aloud only to have the guard denounce him as “ignorant,” rather than thank him.

One sex scene is introduced by immediately calling out just how ridiculous Zorro looks when he walks around naked in his mask and sock garters. This kind of good-natured self-deprecating humor has not been lost to the ages as screening The Rocki Whore Picture Show with Kitty Stryker reminded me. I like the broad notion of adult entertainment. Preservation of our erotic heritage is so very vital to understanding our cultural heritage. Porn is made by people who throw a saddle on the Id and go for the ride.

Long before I ever set a toe on camera I disagreed with the notion that pornographic images were the source of sexual violence because rape was with us before recorded images so something newer cannot be an origin. The efforts to eradicate pornography is that of a kitten’s pathetic brawl with its reflection in the mirror. In order to change our images, we have to work towards progress in our day-to-day lives. That’s where our fantasies begin. It is also why I want to see more diversity in the people picking up the camera. For the most part, we have so many images captured by white heterosexual men that we think the way they see the world is natural and the rest of us are different. Porn flicks just might give us the clearest picture we can get of the worlds we live in and at least we all know that there’s a happy ending.

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Dear Sex Worker Hater

Hello Sex Worker Hater,

So, we meet again. You’re a shape shifter and I feel like I see you everywhere I go. I’ve spotted you on police forms for recovered bodies which had two categories: human and non-human. Guess which category specifically listed prostitutes? I don’t have to tell you, hater, you already know where you think sex workers belong.  I’ve heard your testimony at rape trials when the plaintiff’s occupation and clothing were judged more harshly than the actions of their rapist. You laugh at strippers when they believe they have the right not to be exploited with stage fees and racist policies and you think it’s hilarious when there is evidence of a battering behind sparkling eye makeup and feathered eyelashes.

You spend a lot of time at bars and parties whispering into someone’s ear that a person who sells sex and takes precautions for the health and safety of everyone involved is bad, dirty person, forces you to wash your hands after contact. You’re not saying that you personally would go and cause violence against a sex worker but when it happens, well, the sex worker really should have seen it coming. In your mind violence, rape, and homicide are just the natural and obvious outcomes to be accepted by anyone who makes their living from sexual attraction. You sneak your way into activist movements and discount the opinions of whores because “they’re obviously stupid.”

You’re everywhere at once sex worker hater and I see you’ve been writing over at Cnet. Allow me to quote you:

The porn industry is undergoing considerable changes, especially with the huge proliferation of free online porn. Will the existence of PornWikiLeaks make some think twice about their chosen means of making money?

Or is the expectation now entirely reasonable that anything you do, anywhere, at any time could–at any moment–be revealed online for all the world to see, know, and, of course, judge? - on Cnet

Let’s clear a couple of things up, hater. First and foremost this information was obtained from private medical records. It isn’t a coincidence that one of the major ways that we protect our health and the health of our partners was sabotaged. It’s a clear message: you are not allowed to have both a non-traditional sex life and good health at the same time. This was an act of terrorism. According to your words, hater, we should just sit back and accept this as proper order of the world. We should just accept that mainstream medical care excludes us and degrades us and that if we develop a community model of care that people will do everything they can to shut it down. I guess we should have thought about that when we tried to pay our rent, have a relationship, be part of a family, or go on living our lives like anyone else. We should have just known that someone would eventually think that they were saving California from “Mexicans and gays trying to get married,” by illegally accessing our medical records and posting them on the internet with our real names and an incitement for harassment against us.

Whether or not our industry is conventional has nothing to do with what happened. For example, I think that it is unethical to set up sweatshops in developing nations to exploit the local labor force. If I hacked into the HMO database for a major corporation with factories in developing nations and published the names and private information of thousands upon thousands of low level employees who worked for that corporation at any point in time on the internet alongside calls for harassment against them I would be immediately denounced as a deranged criminal who must be stopped immediately and that would be absolutely, 100% accurate. No one w0uld be debating whether or not those employees should be ashamed of working in retail. No one would suggest that the reason why they dropped their surname or opted for nickname on their employee badge was because they were trying to hide from their occupation. No one would speak as though they should have known that sooner or later someone would inevitably hack into their medical records and post their badge name next to their full legal name alongside libelous language and calls for harassment against them. We would solely focus on the actions of the deranged criminal and discuss ways that we can prevent that kind of illegal and dangerous behavior from happening again.

Like most haters, you’re getting defensive about the fact that people are calling you out for victim blaming. The opening and closing of an essay is prime real estate in a piece of a writing. It’s what people notice first and what they walk away with at the end.  This essay contained 538 words. The opening and closing  (103 words) constitute just under 1/5 (just about 20%) of the total essay length and both are dedicated to questioning whether or not porn performers should feel shame about what they do for a living rather than what actually happened or any form of compelling analysis. The reason that people are receiving this as victim blaming is because you opened your essay by saying, “For some reason, I am reminded of Eric Schmidt’s dictum. You know, the one that went something like: ‘If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.’” It communicates quite a bit about your priorities that you opened and closed your writing with a sentiment of judgement and shame.

The good news is, you don’t have to be a sex worker hater forever. You can choose to write something new, interesting, relevant, and original about what happened in this situation. You can choose to listen to this criticism and reframe your argument. You can choose to acknowledge that some of the people affected by the PornWiki might possibly be reading your column. You might even choose to apologize. At the very least you can acknowledge that you didn’t add anything to the argument by climbing up onto a moral high horse and wagging your finger at the whores down below to remind them that they shouldn’t expect the same kind of privacy that any other public figure expects. Don’t worry, including sex workers and talking about them ethically and honestly won’t turn you into one. It won’t even make you an ally. It just makes you less of a hating asshole. Anywhere you choose to go from there is up to you.

Sincerely,

“A pornographic whore and Hooker” who is mad as hell and won’t take it any more

Photo by Courtney Trouble

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Musings on Twitter

“The internet has changed everything!” -Everyone about everything.

As humans, our emotional responses to the world around us develop long before we have any mastery of language. It’s no surprise that when humans experience the extremes of emotion there is usually a corresponding decrease articulation. We laugh, we cry, we use violence, we do a silly dance but we have all had a moment where words fail us. Emotionality, no matter how extreme or illogical, is not evidence of a lack of a logical cause and effect process but rather a sudden inability to convey that. When we’re with someone face-to-face we can see that. We can put down the sudden need for words and just join in on inarticulate communication with a hug, a high five, a kiss, or return fire because we can see clearly before our very eyes that although emotion is has taken the center stage it wasn’t purely arbitrary. This is known as compassion.

Technology, on the hand, relies on clear articulation with a tiny margin of error as anyone who has stared at a programming language on a desperate hunt for the single character mistake that has rendered the entire attempt useless. Computers are not as far removed from humanity as we might think because its system of organization is modeled after our own brains. Unlike the human computer, the brain possesses the unparalleled ability to fill in a gap of knowledge with other pre-existing data. We do this automatically unless there is no pre-existing data to explain what has happened in which case we experience frustration.

Humans have never had the ability to communicate with other human beings the way that we do today. For the overwhelming majority of humanity we’ve actually been pretty limited. The first individuals to ever inscribe a thought in a language of some kind on parchment or stone undoubtedly run into troubles for their efforts. There were too few people who could even begin to understand it and the actual scribbles that one could use were incredibly limited. Technology is fantastic but there is a learning curve for its adaptation. In the past, humans had a very long time in between technological innovations. Today it feels nearly impossible to keep up with every single one of them and not everyone is using the same type of technology with the same level of comprehension but we are all using it simultaneously.

Twitter has made so many parts of my life infinitely easier. I have access to a constant river of information and as an information junkie I LOVE this. I love getting news reports from all over the world. I love seeing who is retweeting the same link. I love being constantly inundated with all of this data because it forces me to put my brain to work. I’m a nerd and I am infinitely fascinated by information systems and Twitter is a fantastic way to analyze a veritable universe of systems. We can track the passage of ideas in a way never before possible.

Well, in theory we’re tracking ideas and to lesser or greater extremes we’re junkies for them. Let’s call ideas ‘heroin’ for this example. Pure heroin is often described as unadulterated bliss by users and pure heroin does very little acute damage to the body.  There is always a risk of overdose and managing your right dose is a tricky thing because your dose changes in relation to your relative use. When I first logged onto the world wide web with a baud modem it took forever for even a single picture to load but that was exciting. Today I get frustrated if it takes longer than a few seconds for an entire video to play on my computer. The biggest problem that heroin users face is not the presence of the heroin, per se, but the presence of all the shit that gets put into it. No one really has access to pure heroin, they’re using what we call “black tar” or at best “brown sugar.” It isn’t the heroin itself that destroys veins and creates painful abscesses and track marks; it’s the needle itself scarring the tissue mixed with the huge number of caustic additives. Heroin in a slightly different form is known as morphine or Vicodin or any other opiate/opioid and it has very legitimate medical uses.

In other words, Twitter would be utterly fantastic if it weren’t for the fact that not one single person is every really accessing pure ideas on Twitter. Most of the time we are creating and receiving “black tar ideas.” We put in all kinds of additives that create major problems and distractions. We’re trying to reduce something bigger than language itself into only 140 characters and we have problems as a result but these problems for the most part do not outweigh our need.

Twitter is portable and immediate. It’s a soap box to share anything with an unlimited number of people. It’s an indelible tool for activism and revolution. It’s a message in a bottle that can double as an intellectual Molotov cocktail. Hacktivism and digital activism are now firmly embedded as a legitimate way to get something done.  Despite the fact that we may complain about individual brands of social media, we do know one thing: it works.

In the days before the technology, we only saw celebrities when they were consciously producing media for us. Instant technology and social media platforms have pulled the rug out of the notion that you are in any real control of your image whatsoever even with the very best public relations team that money can buy. People feel entitledto images of celebrities in private spaces (if they wanted privacy they never should have tried to chase their dreams and become successful, right?) and the more images there are the greater that entitlement becomes. We say things to public figures that we would never say to someone we considered to be another human being on this planet.

To clarify, I’m not opening a charity for rich celebrities any time soon. I’m just pointing out that human beings all have the expectation of being received as human beings and when we aren’t it makes us feel anxious (to say the least). Some people are marginalized literally to their graves. Other people are marginalized by the fact that they can’t escape the flashbulbs or the person in the corner recording them. Mainstream celebrities are paranoid about that kind of thing and for good reason. A lot of the strange tics we see in “celebrities gone crazy” are desperate attempts to return to some kind of sanity where worrying that the cashier at the coffee shop is going to run to the tabloids to tell them all about the fact that you used a credit card for a $3 purchase as if that indicates that you were a deliberate asshole rather than someone who needed coffee before they got to the ATM. We use constant surveillance as a way to torture people because it works.

Celebrity is an invented concept and one that does not come with a handbook as all-around awesome intellectual and humorist Stephen Fry discovered in 2009 on Twitter during what was deemed “Frygate.” Here are some of the screen caps of what happened:

This is hardly a call for someone’s death and it’s just another person on Twitter sharing their opinion like the rest of us. Rather than being received by Stephen Fry (in public persona mode) it was heard by Stephen Fry, the person. Like any other person he had the capacity to feel hurt by a statement that was clearly not intended to cause a breakdown in another person. It anything, @brumplum probably forgot that he was addressing his comment to a person rather than a public persona and moreover he probably did not expect to be heard or noticed. Well, he was.

Screen capture of Stephen Fry’s reply

Stephen Fry has his own personal context and life. He has spoken openly about his mental health struggles. Stress alone is enough to derail you from your own brand of logical thinking and his health has the potential to exaggerate that. He took a minor criticism as evidence that no one liked him tweeting and that he should abandon the attempt. Thing of it is, a lot of people LOVE his tweets and anyone who created enough harm to him that he might discontinue entertaining people in this fashion and it was received by his followers as a declaration of war without any real prompting or request.

Whenever we make shit up and think it’s real, the shit will hit the fan and it did. Stephen Fry, understandably, felt hurt. He used the communication device at his fingertips to express that pain which always seems perfectly rational at the time. In his pain, he forgot just how many people really listen to every single thing that he says and that at the end of the day people really do like him and don’t want to see him experience that pain. Forgetting that the person who made the initial criticism was also another human being with feelings, the hordes decided to defend Stephen Fry viciously. This is what is known as blowing things out of proportion and the maelstrom that just one tweet created is a fascinating innovation of our times.

Ultimately, Stephen Fry decided to stay on Twitter for the very same reasons that he kept writing, that he kept speaking, that he kept telling us what was funny. To say that he is a weak person is so ridiculous it’s laughable. We have clearly objective and factual evidence that indicates that he’s the kind of guy who gets hurt sometimes and then keeps on going. Emerging from the sadness that sometimes catches up with us all, he realized that things had gotten quite out of hand and used his Twitter consciously to try to set things back in place. Public figures do have to use Twitter differently because of the insane fixation that people develop on media sanctioned celebrities. Although we claim that we want to know the real person inside the celebrity shell we are not prepared to the consequences of that knowledge.

As a whole, we are rarely prepared to acknowledge the humanity of the people around us or our own personal power.

I write this because I’m re-thinking the way that I use Twitter. I say this because I’ve accidentally hurt people by saying something as simple as “what the fuck?” because I thought I was conveying a mixture of confusion and frustration and they thought that it was a hostile attack. I say, “what the fuck?” roughly 1 million times a day. I say it to inanimate objects, I say it to the media, I say it to friends in a good natured way all the time but on Twitter that phrase is mostly useless. I absolutely have the right to say “what the fuck?” as many times as I want on Twitter but what is it actually getting me? I know that I rarely, if ever, use “what the fuck?” in anger. I feel angry when I have an idea of what is going on I use “what the fuck?” when I don’t. It doesn’t matter how well I know what I mean. It matters how well the people around me know.

I’m still acclimating to my technology. Sometimes I’m not even sure I can ever acclimate to any of it. I do know that it is my goal to mean what I say and sometimes that just doesn’t happen on Twitter even though I think it’s a goddamn amazing tool that I’m grateful to have in my life. Sometimes I lack humility before the things that we have created. I’ve had times on Twitter where I was at the center of a maelstrom of misinterpretation and the only thing that saved me was my relatively low Twitter account. As more of you add me to your Twitter feeds the more conscious I become of the fact that one misfired comment can get out of control in just a few hours. I’m learning slowly how to be distinguish between self-censorship and self-awareness. The punishment should fit the crime and the message should fit the medium.

I’m still going to fuck it up from time to time and I’m counting on you to let me know when. I do put all of my available resources into hearing what it is you’re trying to tell me. Like any other human I sometimes find that all of my available resources have been directed elsewhere like my fucking coffee bean grinder that wouldn’t grind my coffee beans leaving me without coffee at all. Learn from my mistakes: coffee first, twitter later.

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Movement Intersectionality: Homotopia Pansy Project

Paul Harfleet; Istanbul; Seen Mag

“Protecting the rights of minority groups, wherever they may be, is a shared responsibility for all. Prejudice and discrimination are destructive to societies and individuals – tolerance may be more challenging, but it is ultimately more rewarding.”

“LGBT visibility and our right to live without attack or abuse are an integral part of the seamless garment of human rights and is one that all of our partners are committed to achieving, especially in times of uncertainty and insecurity.

“In a country like Turkey, where prominent politicians find it acceptable to call homosexuality an offence and immoral on the TV and radio, and where many LGBT people still don’t feel able to come out or be accepted this project is an important and a timely reminder of why such work is vital.”

Find out more about the Pansy Project


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An Ode to the Slap

I don’t know what it is about the slap that turns me on so much. Maybe it’s the pretension that goes on behind it. There is always a judgment being cast with a slap. It’s insulting, it stings, but it doesn’t always come from the same place that a punch does. A slap is a wordless way to say, “I’m in control and you are not.” I think that’s the closest root to any slap. Here’s a collection of cinema slaps for you to enjoy.

For those of you wondering, you shouldn’t have to think twice. Of course I love slapping as much as I love the occasional well-timed slap.

 

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I am Pro-Choice

I read a new story that made my stomach turn. A man by the name of Kermit Gosnell  operated a clinic called the Women’s Medical Society in an impoverished region of Philadelphia. It was at his clinic that the horrors of illegal and unregulated abortion can be seen. The brief AP news report is sickening enough; reading the case presentment and grand jury report are much more detailed and grizzly and I did read both, page after disgusting page.

This not a story about the horrors of abortion.

This is a story about how in one of the richest countries in the world we turn our backs on the poor. This is a story about what happens when people do not have access to safe affordable healthcare. This is what happens when violations can go ignored, where people can slip through a system designed to protect them.

This is a very graphic post and may be triggering to some people. It is the epitome of horror. There is no other word to describe what happened.

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Virginity

On January 15, 2011 up-and-coming porn star Nicki Blue is going to lose her virginity live and on camera for your pleasure.

But what does virginity really mean?

Even in our modern world, women are being murdered because of their perceived “lack” of virginity. In the US, purity balls are hosted where a girl’s father (or another male guardian or patriarch) is named the protector of her virtue/virginity until the day she marries when that control is passed on to her husband. Women are judged negatively for having “too many” sexual partners regardless of health, consent, or desire. A woman’s worth, value, and integrity can’t not be measured by her vagina.

Before I go any further, I want to add that we are allowed to make our own choices about our bodies. This is not about whether or not someone “should” do something in private or not. I am not here to judge fantasies or desires. It takes a lot of chutzpah to organize something like this and I hope that the evening of January 15th is everything that Ms. Blue wants it to be. I can also speak to the respect I have for the 3 main male performers who will be participating. There is a lot of excitement and energy that surrounds sharing a first with someone whether that is the first time you engage in bondage, S&M, use a sex toy, eat at a new restaurant, travel to a new country, hike on an unexplored trail, etc. Hell, the internet is exciting because it exposes us to all kinds of new data. New information and experiences are deeply compelling. I have no issues with a declaration of independence and bodily autonomy. I do not take issue with Ms. Blue’s fantasy and desire to have vaginal sex for the first time on camera. I do not take issue with the fact that it can be incredibly hot and sexy to watch someone have vaginal sex for the first time. I do sincerely hope that it is a rewarding experience for everyone because I am a big cheerleader for all forms of consensual activity whether or not I enjoy them myself. My life has been dedicated to fighting for that very thing.

I do have issues with press releases that perpetuate dangerous myths.

“Prior to the event, a trained expert will insert Kink.com’s official hymen-cam to validate that Blue’s hymen is still in place and that she is a true virgin. Once her hymen is confirmed, the evening will proceed, the company said.”

  • Myth #1: A woman’s “virginity” can be determined by the presence of absence of a hymen.

Contrary to popular belief, the vagina is not “sealed for freshness” with an iron hymen. It isn’t brittle, it does have openings, and the vaginal corona looks and feels different for each woman. For those of you unfamiliar with the term “vaginal corona” please allow me to back up. The term “hymen” is not actually a biologically sound term because it implies a solid piece of tissue that ruptures or breaks upon penetration. This is not the case. A “corona” is much more accurate for the mucous tissue just inside the vagina. Some women do have thicker and stronger coronas that may require medical intervention to help reduce pain in penetration whether that is for sex or for menstruation. Some women have very small, thin, and nearly transparent tissues that never causes them any pain or problems. Like every other part of our body, it is unique to us. The presence or absence of a “hymen” does not indicate virginity. To learn more, check out this helpful information here.

First time penetration may be painful for some women. Sometimes it is because she may be nervous and tense which certainly won’t help make penetration any more comfortable. Our bodies aren’t always as intuitive as perhaps they should be. It takes some time and practice to know when your body is ready to accept something inside of it. Many women, regardless of their number of partners, still appreciate having their vagina warmed up with lots of foreplay and the gradual introduction of foreign objects starting small (like a single finger or small toy) and gradually working their way up in size as they feel comfortable. Additionally, most women will not bleed the first time they have intercourse. The presence of blood indicates that it is definitely time to check in with your partner (whether it is their first or thousandth time having sex) and slow things down a bit.

  • Myth #2: A woman’s “virginity” is defined by whether or not a penis has entered her vagina.

We put a lot of weight into penis-in-vagina sex but there are unlimited ways to have sex. Oral sex is a sexual activity. Anal sex is a sexual activity. Dry humping is a sexual activity. For some people, hair washing is a sexual activity. What about BDSM play? Is it sex if no one has an orgasm? Is it sex if there isn’t an erection? There are a lot of ways that we fuck and a penis has never been the bottom line. If there is any website that has demonstrated that, it is Kink.Com where sometimes people have orgasms from caning, whipping, or bondage. There are lesbian gang bangs. There are times when merely watching something is enough to bring you over the edge. Websites dedicated to alternative sex are a reminder that there are no set rules about what sex really is or can be.

Reiterating the notion that virginity is defined by whether or not a penis has entered a vagina has dangerous implications because it is so very closely related to the idea that virginity will keep you safe from sexually transmitted infections or the emotions that can arise from engaging in sex. The language that we use around sex has real world implications and yes, semantics do count especially when people’s lives are literally on the line.

  • Myth #3: “Virgins” are better for sex because they’re tighter.

The vagina is an amazing part of the body. It is important to distinguish between the muscles of the pelvic floor and the vagina itself. Much like the penis, the vagina has a flaccid and an aroused state. When the brain starts to feel aroused it sends messages down to the vagina encouraging it to open, lengthen, lubricate, and widen. It will actually lengthen by several inches and there will be an increased blood flow to the area which will also increase its sensitivity. The idea that “men are from Mars and women are from Venus” is silly when you take into account that we posses very homologous genital tissues. An unaroused vagina is incredibly tight, so much so that it can hold a tiny tampon in place without falling to the ground. “Tight” though it may be, it isn’t actually prepared to accommodate the rigors of penetrative sex. This process has absolutely nothing to do with “virginity.”

Image courtesy of WikiCommons. Unaroused vulva on the left, aroused vulva on the right.

The vagina is surrounded by the muscles of the pelvic floor. These muscles do have a lot of power in regards to our sexual functioning and ability to regulate our bladder and bowels. Exercising the pubococcygeus (also known as the PC muscle) will help “tighten” the vagina and give women more control over their pelvic floor muscles in general. The added benefit? The vagina will still swell, expand, and widen to comfortably (and pleasurably!) accommodate penetration and the orgasmic contractions may become more intense. These exercises are known as  kegels and  male bodied people can reap their benefits as well.

In other words, sex with a virgin can be a totally hot turn-on or fantasy but it has far less to do with muscle tightness than most people believe.

I find the marketing and publicity around this shoot to be the issue at hand. To decide that you want to engage in any particular sex act for the first time in a way that you will find really enjoyable is sex positive. There is no inherent exploitation involved in filming it and for some of us that just adds to the experience. When I read, “We strive each and every day to bring the best possible content to our customers and sacrificing Nikki’s innocence is in perfect alignment with what our fans expect and deserve,” I feel that the sex positive message is lost. That same sentence also reminds us that commercial value is of a much higher importance than sex positivity. For most porn sites that comes as no surprise. The only reason that a lot of people are speaking up about this has to do with the expressed mission statement to, “…demystify and celebrate alternative sexualities by providing the most ethical and authentic kinky adult entertainment.” In this case, sexuality is not being demystified; it is being further obscured. It does not celebrate alternative sexualities because it so very deeply phallocentric and heteronormative.

Again, I cannot say it enough: I support Nicki Blue in what she wants to do. It is 100% her choice to make and no one has the right to say that she should or shouldn’t do go forward with her plan. I do not think poorly of any of the other performers on the set, either, because it is an honor to have someone request your presence at their first time doing anything. A request like that indicates trust and comfort and it is an honor when someone entrusts you to be a part of something that you’ve never done before. I am not worried about Nicki Blue. I know that she is in very good and capable hands on set. It’s the rest of us that I’m worried about when the packaging of the shoot includes blatant misinformation.

Kink.Com has the right to say whatever they want about their content.  I am experiencing disappointment by their unwillingness to rise to the occasion. A press release is, by its very nature, designed to spark interest and by that standard is was inordinately effective. Buzz words were selected with deliberation and it is true that if you want to sell a product, the press release may not be the best place to do so. However, when I look at the pride flags waving in the wind from the rooftop of the armory I have to wonder if they match the words in those press releases.  They are in possession of numerous outlets to dispel dangerous and sex negative mythology and they have done so numerous times in the past. It isn’t too late for Kink.Com to address these issues head on and I hope that they will. Kink.Com has influenced and inspired so many people over the years and I do hope that they remember their ability to affect real change even when it doesn’t directly increase the profit margin.

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Dungeon Music

Anyone who has been out to a night at the dungeon or an S&M themed night club will know that dark wave/elektronika/trance/goth music is fairly popular amongst the tribe. There really is a limit to how much “Dead Can Dance” that I can listen to on any given night so I was happy to stumble upon Frausun. Decked out in military fetish gear, Frausun weaves a very dark musical web.

The first line of commentary about this track read, “This song was composed as a dedication to my devoted Slave and Lover who deserves all the praise of the world for her beauty, intelligence, strength and wit.” It’s no wonder that he wrote something special for his own personal something special. Apparently she is a part of the show and the theatrics that help set a creative and sexy mood. If you’re out in the Dallas area, it might be worth checking them out. Like me, you may not be super into all of the tunes (really good jazz is what gets my blood flowing, personally) but you do know that this is a crowd that won’t think twice about your fetish attire and what kind of sex you really want in the bathroom of the club. (This is what we refer to as Wednesday night in San Francisco.)

What I really, really want? I want to make some music videos with Frausun. I have a dermal stapler and I would love to show it to you. I wonder what kind of music we could make if we started plucking strings stapled into someone’s back…

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Cause and Effect

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.

Just kidding.

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.

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