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Before we dig into this week’s superb essays and other writings on human sexuality around the world, I have to say something.
This past week, the Washington Post published a series of articles on the topic of porn, for its “In Theory” series, which “takes on a big idea in the news and explores it from a range of perspectives.” The Post explained, “This week, we’re talking about pornography regulation.”
This was borne out of the attention the Post received over publishing an op-ed by conservative feminist, anti-porn political activist Gail Dines. By running a politically motivated piece absent of editorial oversight — fact-checking — the Post angered a significant number of readers who called bullshit on the news outlet.
So under the guise of demonstrating objectivity and presenting a range of opposing views on pornography, the Post ran its “In Theory” porn series. The following articles were published:
* Pornography is more than just sexual fantasy. It’s cultural violence. (anti-trans, anti-porn Julia Long)
* The anti-porn movement is growing. The public is just catching up. (Haley Halverson, Communications Director for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, formerly Morality in Media)
* The conversation we’re not having about porn (Alexander Rhodes, NoFap abstinence movement)
* How porn makes inequality sexually arousing (Robert Jensen, anti-porn, widely-debunked Gail Dines colleague, Creationist)
* Who defines pornography? These days, it’s Facebook. (Jillian C. York, EFF’s Director for International Freedom of Expression)
* The case for banning pornography (Matthew Schmitz, pro-life/anti-porn religious conservative)
* Is pornography a public health crisis? (Original title: Porn: You know it when you see it. Should it be regulated? – Christine Emba, pro-life anti-porn religious conservative)
* Porn isn’t a public health hazard. It’s a scapegoat. (Mireille Miller-Young, reputationally challenged Professor of Feminist Studies at UC Santa Barbara)
Out of seven articles, only one presents an opposing viewpoint (Miller-Young). When the two essays that could be considered positive or neutral viewpoints were published, they were simultaneously published with anti-porn essays. Except even York’s out-of-place Facebook rant still positions pornography as harmful. Incidentally, my above footnotes on the authors are well-documented and links are provided as a starting point.
The Washington Post not only deceived readers about the agenda of its “In Theory” porn series, the outlet also deceived readers about the sources of these writings. For instance, its final day in the series featured an article by Haley Halverson which depicts the anti-porn movement as a cultural zeitgeist brought on by public common sense, thanks to the good efforts of The National Center on Sexual Exploitation. What readers are not told is that NCSE is the re-branded faith-based group Morality In Media, Inc., which changed its name in 2015. Halverson runs its PR department. This organization is a thread connecting most of the Post’s authors.
The Washington Post deceived its readers. It presented a politically conservative agenda under a false banner. This reveals something deeply rotten in its editorial department, and a leadership who possess a calculated intent to sway and direct public opinion.
People who do this specifically use emotional and polarizing issues like porn, sex, and crimes against women and children to enforce their restrictive moral codes, to codify censorship, and when conflating sex and crime, to validate the culture of oppression suffered by women and LGBT people. (You’ll notice that in all of these essays, LGBT culture and gay porn, as well as the queer feminist porn movement, are completely and conspicuously absent. As is anything about porn regulation in California, which includes a lot of very articulate state senate testimony by porn performers.) The Post deliberately distorted its snapshot of pornography and discussion of regulation.
That’s because they don’t think anyone will check the facts on their pseudosceince on sex addiction or their ‘studies’ which come from religious universities and debunked academics. Or that some of us will actually drag their topics out into the light. Because it’s sex. If we do, it’s all too easy to exploit emotions around child and adult sexual abuse to derail the discussion.
What the Washington Post did this week was wrong. But what I want you to remember is that this kind of manipulation is where censorship pulls its strength, and keeps the discussion of porn within the realm of saving women and children. Being so straight, it perpetuates a sexist agenda, where women have no voice, no agency, and no say in what they do with their bodies. It preaches that someone else will always know what’s best for women, and works to curtail female sexual freedom.
I encourage you to never consider or cite anything the Washington Post publishes as objective.
“South Dakotans ask, “Is it truly possible to understand another person, or are even those closest to us ultimately unknowable?” Ha, just kidding. South Dakota asked, “Why is my poop green?” more than any other state. … Kentucky asks, “How to make a baby?”, and Tennessee asks, “what is the clap?”
* Be embarrassed by your home with this map of each state’s favorite Google question (AV Club, via Thomas Roche)
“Former UCLA student and actor/director Tasha Reign said in her interview with the Guardian that “the porn industry is 100 percent ahead of any other industry when it comes to women in power.” She admits that there are exceptions to the rule, but generally, she says porn is a business that respects women’s opinions, supports them in roles of leadership, and discriminates a lot less than other media companies.”
* 5 Things We Should All Stop Thinking About Porn Stars (Bustle)
“Before Tinder, before shopping malls, drive-ins, or speak-easies, young people searched for a place to meet and flirt. In 19th century America, wild political rallies offered the perfect opportunity. Courting young people mixed national campaigns with personal romances, shaping American democracy in their search for love.”
* When Political Rallies Were for Sex (Daily Beast)
“Self-styled ‘indie erotic film director’ Erika Lust was more than happy for me to stop in on a day’s filming however, given she’s at the fore of a cabal of female pornographers trying shift the porn paradigm in terms of both ethical and aesthetical quality.”
* Can porn be art? On the set of an indie erotic film (Independent UK)
Warning for survivors of sexual assault, abuse and trauma. “For many years we have documented human rights violations against sex workers in countries all over the world, highlighting the fact that they are consistently at heightened risk of abuse. Today we launch four detailed research reports into the situation for sex workers in Argentina, Hong Kong, Norway and Papua New Guinea. The picture is grim.”
* Out of the shadows: fighting for the rights of sex workers (Amnesty International)
“In other words, it’s a no-brainer that people would want to be blown by Emma Stone or fuck Kurt Cobain in their dreams. But how to achieve this is another matter. Many theories about lucid dream sex all boil down to the same concept: Lucid dream is not about fucking, but about emotional connection with the dream figure. The “carrot on the string” theory explains why that beautiful woman in your dream suddenly turns into your perverted uncle when you get too close: You’re self-limiting. The fantasy is in the relationship, the connection, no matter how short-lived.”
* How to Have Lucid Sex Dreams That Fulfill Your Kinkiest Desires (Broadly/Vice)
VB note: Something is wrong with this article, possibly the restaurant’s name. Can anyone help me actually find verification of this restaurant? “”With drinks served in breast-shaped cups and beers opened with bottle openers shaped like a wooden penis, the father and daughter team behind a Beijing S&M restaurant are encouraging customers to mix food with sex. Owner Lu Lu, a 27-year-old divorcee, said business has been good since opening just under a year ago, with young Chinese streaming in to feast on seafood, such as lobster, under the gaze of mannequins wearing bondage gear.”
* Beijing fetish restaurant teases with lobster and sex (Reuters)
“Case in point: The clients who see me in search of fetish wrestling. Men pay me hourly to wrestle with them, usually topless or in a bikini, and it supplies a significant part of my income as a sex worker. Sessions can be athletic or playful, competitive or whimsical. My monetary rates and physical boundaries are clearly negotiated ahead of time, and we meet in a secure, private, comfortable location of my choosing. It’s an incredibly fun job that keeps me fit and allows me to meet a multitude of interesting folks with whom I would never interact otherwise.”
* Talking to Men About Why They Want Me to Kick Their Asses (MEL Magazine)
“This winter, as the election dominated the headlines, President Obama made a major decision: He removed all $ 10 million of annual funding for abstinence-only sex education from the 2017 federal budget. If Congress approves the budget, ending federal funding for abstinence-only sex education—which studies show fails to prevent teen pregnancies and STD transmission—will be one of Obama’s lasting legacies.”
* Thanks Obama: The Future of American Sex-Ed May Not Include Abstinence-Only Funding (Bitch Media)
“Evolutionary science has shown that, for humans, flirting is a key test of emotional and social intelligence. It assesses exactly the capacities that AI researchers are trying to endow machines with: the ability to generate feelings in others, and to understand context and subtext—or the difference between what a person wants and what a person says.”
* How to Teach A Robot to Flirt (New Republic)
“A few beers later, he pranced across the room and whistled like a furious carnie, throwing his dollars on my stage during my set. He wrote his number on a matchbook in blue pen and threw that too. I hovered in the DJ booth until he was out of the parking lot before I left the club because my need for safety will always trump their need for my comfort.”
* What Does Safety Feel Like When You’re A Sex Worker (Buzzfeed)
“Rokudenashiko is a Japanese artist who followed her muse into legal and social strife, all documented in her newly translated graphic novel, What Is Obscenity? The Story of a Good For Nothing Artist and Her Pussy. … In July, 2014, Rokudenashiko’s home was raided by police. She was arrested and jailed a week for violating obscenity laws, which do not clearly define what is considered obscene.”
* Japanese artist Rokudenashiko on sexuality, obscenity and jail time (Globe and Mail)
“Ancient, magical spells of love, subjugation and sex: It may sound like a “Game of Thrones” episode, but these things are also found on two recently deciphered papyri from Egypt dating to around 1,700 years ago. One spell invokes the gods to “burn the heart” of a woman until she loves the spell caster, said Franco Maltomini of the University of Udine in Italy, who translated the two spells. Another spell, targeted at a male, uses a series of magical words to “subject” him, forcing him to do whatever the caster wants.”
* Sex spells discovered on ancient Egyptian papyri (CBS News)
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- “What surprised you about working in porn?
There are probably a million things. One of the most obvious things is that I never, ever saw a girl have an orgasm—it’s all obviously really, really good acting. And if you ever see a cum shot in a still, then it’s probably a mixture of soap and lube.”
* NSFW Photos from the Four Years I Spent on a Porn Set (Vice UK, image above via)
- “PornHub has launched a bug bounty program for security researchers and bug hunters who can find and report security vulnerabilities in its website. Partnered with HackerOne, PornHub is offering to pay independent security researchers and bug hunters between $ 50 and $ 25,000, depending upon the impact of vulnerabilities they find.”
* Pornhub Launches Bug Bounty Program; Offering Reward up to $ 25,000 (The Hacker News)
- “There were only 26 permits issued in 2015 for Los Angeles-area adult entertainment filming, according to FilmL.A., the local authority that processes film production permits. …Permits issued for porn productions have declined stunningly since November 2012, when Los Angeles county voters approved Measure B, which requires performers to wear condoms during sex scenes. … In 2012, adult filmmakers filed 480 permits, according to a FilmL.A. estimate.”
* L.A.-Area Adult Film Permits Dip to 26 in 2015 (XBIZ)
- “[Vice] talked to controversial queer filmmaker Bruce LaBruce about his new film, “The Misandrists,” which mixes punk rock, political theory, and porn — and promises to piss pretty much everyone off.”
* Lesbian Terrorists Use Porn as Propaganda in This Radical New Film (Broadly/Vice)
Missouri adds "advertising" to conduct that can be sex trafficking https://t.co/OckiDsPxNP
— ElizabethNolanBrown (@enbrown) May 11, 2016
- VB note: they neglected to mention that malachite is also breakable, and can crack with razor-sharp edges. I know because I dropped a sculpted malachite obelisk once, and it broke. “An apparent geologist on Tumblr posted a beautiful malachite stalactite that bears an unfortunate(?) resemblance to, well, a phallic object used for penetrative sexual play, commonly known as a dildo. But as soon as Tumblr noted the stalactite’s possible utility as a sex toy, other users were quick to point out that malachite is a poisonous, water-soluble mineral.”
* Please don’t use this stalactite as a dildo, even though it totally looks like one (Daily Dot, via Ariel Waldman)
- “Some 43 million users worldwide have a presence in a virtual world, a number that is expected to quadruple in the next few years. Platforms such as Active Worlds, Blue Mars and Second Life are among the most popular. Players immerse themselves in video game-like environments where you control everything from dance moves to sex positions. On Red Light Center you can join a wild orgy party happening in real time with strangers all over the world. Or do it Kama Sutra-style in, say, a glittering castle on the moon.”
* How Virtual Hookups are Leading to Real Sex (Playboy)
- “AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), one of the state’s leading public health and advocacy organizations, has announced its opposition to a pending ballot measure pertaining to adult film production in California. The controversial “Safer Sex in Adult Film Production Act” is awaiting approval to appear on November’s ballot.”
* AIDS Project Los Angeles Formally Opposes Adult Film Ballot Initiative (XBIZ)
- “Jason Galanis, a man who in 2004 was [once] called “Porn’s New King,” was arrested by FBI agents at his Los Angeles home on Wednesday and charged with taking part in a $ 60 million scam that ripped off impoverished South Dakota Sioux and others. It was the third time in nine years that Galanis had been accused of engineering a financial fraud.”
* ‘Porn’s New King’ busted for ripping off tribe in $ 60M scam (NY Post)
Another journalist wants to discuss porn addiction. Why do journos hate pornography so much? pic.twitter.com/hIcGxAXv4F
— Alan McKee (@ProfAlanMcKee) May 11, 2016
- “London Bridge Plastic Surgery clinic advertised its services for labia reshaping in the Metro newspaper. The clinic promised women they could “achieve a more natural appearance” and “relieve the discomfort caused by enlarged labia.” … However, five readers complained about the ad to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) on the grounds it was socially irresponsible to encourage women to consider unnecessary cosmetic surgery. The ASA agreed and banned the advert.”
* ‘Designer vagina’ surgery ad banned for promoting negative body image (RT)
- “The Nova already looks realistic, albeit more doll-like than human-like (which is likely the goal). It will be very interesting to see improvements once an actual prototype is revealed. Abyss Creations plans to be in the prototype stage in early 2017 and begin taking preorders later that same year.”
* The Early Makings of a Talking Sex Robot (Future of Sex)
- “I recently came across a list on eBaum’s World of intellectually-gifted porn stars. It’s an impressive catalog, but it’s comprised mostly of straight actors. Inspired by the eBaum list, I am proud to present but a few of their queer counterparts… who are also (at least) as smart as you are.”
* Seven Queer Porn Stars Who Are Probably Smarter Than You (Huffington Post)
- Panned for not being straightforward about sex, interestingly. “Tinder’s new ad in India has been swiped left — rather decisively — on social media. The ad, released on May 7 on Facebook, shows a young Indian woman preening in her bedroom mirror. Her mother enters the room and asks about her plans. The daughter is reluctant to admit that she is going on a romantic date—but the cool mom not only knows what Tinder is, she is also quite happy to have her daughter use it.”
* Tinder’s new ad stars an Indian mom who’s cool with casual sex—and kids are freaking out (Quartz)
You’ll know when it’s too late.