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Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category

Americans have been taught to treat the state like a god, to equate its many acts of evil…with the greater good of a plan that none of us asked to be a part of.  –  Brittney Cooper

R.I.P. Madame Claude

Fernande Grudet, who under the name Madame Claude operated a deluxe [escort service] in Paris in the 1960s and ’70s…died on [December 26th] in Nice…She was 92…“Two things in life sell,” she once said. “Food and sex. And I was not meant to be a chef”…Ms. Grudet zeroed in on “failed models and actresses, the ones who just missed the cut,” [said] high-society columnist Taki Theodoracopulos…Only one in 20 candidates made the grade.  Requirements included beauty — plastic surgery could be arranged — poise and a familiarity with history, literature and current events.  Also, talent in bed…assessed by…male acquaintances who took candidates for a trial run and reported back to her…Many of her “Claude girls” went on to find success in film, fashion or business.  Quite a few married rich clients…[her clients] included John F. Kennedy, the shah of Iran, Muammar el-Qaddafi, Gianni Agnelli, Moshe Dayan, Marc Chagall, Rex Harrison and King Hussein of Jordan…

Here We Go Again

Maybe someone should tell them the AJWS supports decrim?

…the National Council of Jewish Women…and its members are…still trying to end…sex trafficking, just as their foremothers had done…Liz Robbins…[of] the New York Times…[wrote] a piece…last year about a human trafficking court in Queens…Lori Cohen…learned about the “white slave trade” in the 1890s to 1930s, which resulted in the trafficking of thousands of young Jewish women from Eastern European shtetls to the Americas on false promises of marriage or employment.  In 1910, she discovered, an estimated 900 Jewish women were sold for sex in Philadelphia…

For those who don’t realize: literally no reputable historian believes the “white slave trade” was anything other than a moral panic.

Real Men Support Sex Worker Rights

What’s that, Asstoon?  “Real men don’t buy girls”, you say?  Oh, my:

Ashton Kutcher…was seen last week ducking out of a Thai massage parlour…women employed at the Ancient Therapy Massage Parlour in LA offer sexual favours after a massage.  There is no suggestion Ashton…engaged in any of these acts.  But our investigator visited the shop later and was offered sexual favours…

Is there a single male prohibitionist who doesn’t enjoy whatever he crusades to deny to others?

Sales Pitch

Remember, kids, the Swedish model eliminates “human trafficking”!

…98 cases of suspected human trafficking have been brought to the southern regional police division’s attention in 2015 – up by 700 percent on the year before when 14 incidents were reported…Most of the cases involve people driving others across the Öresund bridge connecting Denmark to Sweden…While some are believed to be the victims of organized smugglers taking advantage of vulnerable people and charging copious amounts of money for fake travel documents, others are helped by friends or relatives – who could also be charged with human trafficking…

Blasphemy

I find this essay somewhat myopic and disorganized, not to mention needlessly clannish and sectarian; however, at its core it contains the important truth that America’s fascist statism is indeed a religion:

We all saw Sandra Bland’s penultimate moments, being bullied and violated for failure to signal a lane change…before threatening to “light her up” with his taser, he never really gave a reason for pulling her over.  It is probable that he didn’t have one, other than the making of revenue…one of the young Black [Lives Matter] activists…spoke to me of the stress of her first arrest, of the feelings of disempowerment at having the state be in control of your body, of the feelings of disorientation and lack of concept of time in a jail cell, of the feelings of hopelessness such conditions induce…Because grand jury proceedings are secret, we have no idea what happened to Sandra Bland.  And if Waller County has [its] way, we never will…no police department in America is worthy of trust, or of the benefit of the doubt.  Sandra Bland’s death is just one more worm at the rotten core of the theology of one bad apple.  It is a theology and not merely an ideology because Americans have been taught to treat the state like a god…It is amazing how comfortable we are nailing innocent bodies to the cross of the unjust American imperialist justice system…

Saving Them From Themselves

Don’t be fooled; the only reason cops aren’t charging these kids is because their numbers are so great it would cause an uproar:

…Michigan…state police, after uncovering “a massive sexting scandal” involving “200 nude and semi-nude pictures” of female high school students…are not planning to charge the teenagers with producing, possessing, and distributing child pornography, offenses that carry penalties of up to four years in prison per image….[and] registration as a sex offender…Sgt. Jason Wickstrom…said that when some of the girls’ parents demanded criminal charges against the boys, “I told them, ‘We could go after these boys, but then your daughter is going to be charged too.’ That is the way that it would have to be”…

Surplus Women 

Daria Pionko…was found [severely injured] in…Leeds in the early hours [of] December 23…Police…were called to the scene by a friend of the woman, who reported the attack.  She was taken to Leeds General Infirmary by ambulance but was pronounced dead a short time later…Detective Superintendent Simon Atkinson…said:  “We are treating this woman’s death as murder and a full investigation has been launched…the victim was a sex worker and the incident has taken place in the managed [red light] area”…a 38-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident…but [police] insist they are keeping an open mind about the case.

The Last Shall Be First Chris Christie bloviating

Anti-trans people just can’t get their minds out of the toilet:

Republican presidential wannabe Chris Christie may have just come up with the single weirdest argument I’ve heard about where transgender kids should go to the bathroom…”I don’t think we should be making life more confusing for our children…Think about those kids in Los Angeles who…had their entire district closed because of a threat.  Think about what they felt like the next day when they went back to school.  Did they feel completely comfortable, did they feel like they were safe?…every place in America is a potential target for terrorism…children learn better, grow up better, mature better when they live in a safe and secure and loving environment…we want our kids not to have to decide which bathroom they get to go in…And not to be subject to the embarrassment that could come with going in a bathroom where somebody maybe doesn’t agree that they should be in there or not,” Christie said.  So trans kids shouldn’t get to pick which bathrooms they use because they might be embarrassed, and also TERRORISM TERRORISM TERRORISM TERRORISM TERRORISM.  Um…thanks for the thoughts, Governor…

A Procrustean Bed (#339)

Sacramento classifies women as passive objects without agency, then pretends it doesn’t:

…An acronym for “Reducing Sexually Exploited & Trafficked”, RESET is a diversion court that allows adult sex workers to exchange misdemeanor criminal charges for programs that, if completed, dismiss the charges…the program created an incentive [for cops] to keep it supplied with participants…Prostitution arrests in the county…[steeply increased] last year…a 45-percent increase over 2013…RESET requires participants to plead guilty before they can participate, which irks advocates at the Urban Justice Center and Sex Workers Outreach Project.  But court officers [pretend] the guilty plea [sends a message]…Unlike an earlier version that [more obviously exploited sex workers by charging] participants $250 a pop…RESET is free and doesn’t require participants to say they were trafficked, which can be a sticking point for sex workers who don’t want victimhood thrust upon them…

Their “reward” for completing the program?  A “free” cup of coffee.  I am not making this up.

The Punitive Mindset (#414) 

If there’s anything narrower and meaner than the mind of a prison official, I’m not sure what it might be:

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire…and the law firm Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson…filed a federal lawsuit on…behalf of a prisoner’s mother and three-year-old son challenging the constitutionality of a mail policy…that prohibits prisoners from receiving greeting cards, picture postcards, and drawings in the mail.  This policy violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution…The policy applies to all “drawings” or “other depictions”, all “greeting cards”, and all “postcards from particular locations or featuring any type of printed design, picture, or depiction.”  The ban includes Christmas cards, as well as prayer cards with pre-printed images often sent to individual prisoners by religious organizations…[prison officials pretend that] the new policy was put in place to prevent drugs like Suboxone from being smuggled into the state’s prisons through the mail…

Welcome To Our World (#439)

Recognize the rhetoric?

…[Russian] MP Yelena Mizulina, known for her staunch [anti-abortion] stance, has proposed…a law that would equate intermediary services in surrogacy to human trafficking and punish it with 10 years in prison…The senator emphasized that the only people who would face punishment under her bill were…those who arrange the process of surrogate childbirth and receive money for their services.  Surrogate children, their biological parents and women who give birth will all be treated as crime victims…“We are calling to put the commercial component of this phenomenon under strict control,” she emphasized. “As soon as the services of surrogate mothers became available in Europe, criminal groups immediately appeared there and started recruiting women from Hungary, Moldova and the UKThis is a scary form of human trafficking and one of the obvious threats to mankind“…The future bill isn’t Mizulina’s first attempt to introduce surrogacy regulation in Russia.  In April 2014, she prepared another draft that banned hired surrogate mothers [and] made it obligatory for biological parents to get an agreement from a special medical commission…and…[perform] the necessary medical procedures…in state-owned clinics…

Under Every Bed (#520) 

Nobody would believe North Dakota was a “hub”, so now they’re calling it a “funnel”:

…Under a “john school” law that takes effect Friday, judges can sentence those convicted of hiring someone for sex to attend an offender [re-]education program to [be forced to endure propaganda] about the [mythical] harmful effects of the commercial sex industry.  It was among a raft of bills…aimed at curbing sex trafficking in North Dakota, where an oil boom has attracted pimps hoping to cash in on a thriving economy full of male workers flush with disposable income…Sen. Mac Schneider [bloviated]…“If there was no demand for the illicit services offered by sex traffickers…there would be no sex trafficking here”…The concept for North Dakota’s john school came from the Offenders Prostitution Program run by the St. Paul, Minn.-based [rescue industry] group Breaking Free…Terry Forliti, a [shill]…who works as systems analyst for Breaking Free…said…“North Dakota has been a huge funnel for sex trafficking for years”…

What Were You All Waiting For? 

This isn’t the first time the Open Society Foundation has backed sex worker rights, but it is (to my knowledge) the first time it has openly backed an anti-criminalization campaign:

George Soros, the billionaire investor…is supporting a campaign by…Sex Workers Alliance Ireland against [the Swedish model]…he…[has long funded] campaigns on issues like immigration reform and drug legalisation…[including] an estimated $80 million on the cannabis legalisation effort over a 20 year period…the Soros-chaired Open Society Foundation…has long supported organisations…that are governed by sex workers, like the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe and the Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network…

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I can’t breathe.  –  Barbara Dawson

Christmas videos?  What are those?  Well, at least I have one of a novel protest, courtesy of Clarissa.  The links above it were provided by Elizabeth N. BrownNun YaEdward SnowdenTushy GaloreFranklin Harris, Nun Ya again, Walter Olson, and Popehat, in that order.

From the Archives

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Diary #286

And so we wind down toward the end of another year; this will be the last diary column of 2015, and a number of the others will be very short.  See, I really AM learning to relax a little.  Tomorrow Grace arrives for a Christmas visit, and she’ll be here until January 3rd; that’ll be even more relaxing, because I really do miss her terribly and having her here (even for a little while) will be a great comfort.

SWOP Seattle held several events to commemorate the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers; the vigil itself was the most meaningful to me, because as I wrote on the day itself I have never attended one before.  The attendance was very good despite the cold and rain, and we walked across Pioneer Square under red umbrellas, with volunteers (including me) reading the names and ages of all the sex workers who died by violence in 2015, while everyone else repeated them in chorus.  It was very powerful and moving, and I plan to attend every year while I’m here.  But for the next couple of weeks, all the group activities I’ll attend will be with my friends and loved ones, and that is just fine with me. 12-17-15

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Tara BurnsLast week, I was pleased to have Tara Burns stay with me again; she was only in Seattle for two nights, and was here the second one.  She’s truly an amazing woman and an amazing activist, and I’m glad she feels comfortable asking to stay here when she passes through (a request for which the answer will always be “yes”).  We probably should’ve had someone take a picture while she was here, but I really don’t have the photo bug and I often forget that I can and/or should take a picture of something until after the chance is passed.  If I were less honest I might represent that as a personal rebellion against the urge to overdocument which is so common in the modern West, but the truth is it just doesn’t usually cross my mind unless somebody says “You ought to take a picture of this.”  Or unless I happen to think I look especially alluring at the moment.

This week, on the other hand, has been dominated by things that haven’t happened yet.  I’ve had several long phone calls to plan projects which won’t actually happen until the late winter (including Seattle’s Annual Sexwork Symposium [SASS], which Savannah Sly asked me to help with).  This week is our December 17th vigil, accompanied by several associated events (such as a panel discussion in which I’m participating on Saturday).  Of course I’ve also been busy buying Christmas presents and otherwise helping Santa, and Grace will be arriving a week from today and staying through January 3rd.  Add to that juggling Jae’s various rehab appointments (of which there can be as many as 7 per week) and my professional dates, and writing this blog, and you begin to understand why I haven’t managed to finish either of the two books I’m trying to write.  However, longtime readers who have expressed concern for my health will be glad to know that I’m making time for myself too; I’m trying to go to dinner with a friend at least once per week, and even (gasp!) relaxing alone for a few hours once or twice a week.  I’m still not very good at it yet; my brain never stops unless something forces it to, and the number of things I’ve found that can accomplish that is very small indeed.  But one has to start somewhere, and as I’ve explained in the past I have help.  And maybe one day I’ll actually figure out how to create a schedule that I don’t have to force downtime into.

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David Wraith is a Saint Louis native, writer, filmmaker, activist and co-founder of Sex Positive St. Louis.  He’s a polyamorous, sado-masochistic exhibitionist who has spent much of his adult life advocating for women’s reproductive freedom, GLBT rights, and people living with HIV.  I met him when my tour took me to St. Louis; after my book reading he took me out to a coffee shop and we talked until they kicked us out.  Well just recently, I realized that he is on Twitter, so being the brazen hussy that I am, I immediately asked him for a guest essay.  And being the charming gentleman that he is, he agreed.

I’m going to say perhaps the most irresponsible thing I’ve ever said on the internet: sexual abuse made me the person that I am.  And I like who I am.  Aside from being better with money and less of a procrastinator, they’re aren’t whole lot of fundamental things I would change about me.

I am a fan of Dr. Drew Pinksy (Segues are for kids, folks.  Just watch my feet for a few paragraphs, okay?).  So, like I was saying, I’m a fan of Dr. Drew Pinksy, particularly his radio and TV show, Loveline.  While so many TV doctors come off like snake oil salesmen (Dr. Oz), or jerks (Dr. Phil), Dr. Drew always struck me as someone who really wanted to help people.  I felt like he was a great resource for the monogamous, vanilla world.  If he had one blind spot, in my opinion, it had to do with kink and polyamory.  Mainstream relationship professionals are often promoting monogamy and heteronormativity; that’s nothing new.  I once had a nice Twitter dust-up on the subject of polyamory with Steven Ward, the host of VH1’s Tough Love, that ended with me calling him a “well financed pimp.”  I never expect these guys (and they’re mostly straight, white guys, now that I think of it), to be very open to alternative relationship structures.  But for some reason, Dr. Drew’s bias against kinky and poly folk bothered me in ways that his contemporaries’ attitudes didn’t.  Case in point:  it seemed that without fail, anytime a Loveline caller described themselves as “very sexual” Dr. Drew would always follow up with, “So, you were sexually abused as a child.”  When the callers would protest that they weren’t, Dr. Drew would assure them that they were whether or not they remember or acknowledge such abuse.  This pissed me off.  Who was Dr. Drew to tell total strangers they had been sexually abused when they themselves said they hadn’t?  Surely, not everyone who is hypersexual is damaged or has been abused, right?

One year, Dr. Drew spoke at my school and I planned to ask him this very question.  I was a grad student and much older than the undergraduates Dr. Drew was pitching his lecture at, but I didn’t care.  He was there to talk about binge drinking on campus and hook-up culture, but I didn’t care.  I wanted answers and this was my chance.  I queued up to ask my question and just as one of the volunteers was about to bring me the mic, Dr. Drew announced that the question right before me would be the last of the evening as he had run out of time.  I called my girlfriend on the ride home to vent my frustration.  Here was a man with a national platform,  a doctor traveling the country, going on TV, going on the radio, spreading the idea that anyone who is hypersexual is a sex abuse survivor, and here I was, living proof that he was wrong.  I mean, I’m hypersexual and I was never abused!

“You weren’t?” My girlfriend asked.

She was referring to some things that had happened to me between the ages of 5 and 11.  There was an older boy who would masturbate in front of me and instruct me to masturbate in front of him.  There was an older girl who would expose herself to me and threaten me with violence if I didn’t expose myself to her.  In a feat of wisdom that I can only describe as David Wraithian, I decided these two would probably hit it off, so I introduced them.  They became a couple and pretty much any time the three of us would spend time together, they would act out sexually in front of me, including having sex in front of me on occasion.  In retrospect, I was the perfect cover.  A teenaged boy and a teenaged girl alone together in a bedroom would arouse their parent’s suspicion, but as long as there was an 11 year old in the room with them, it was assumed that nothing was going on…even when it was.

Fast forward to adulthood.  I had a very difficult time masturbating in front of my lovers until I was much older, and even when I was alone, developed a habit of masturbating with a pillow to cover my face, as if someone was watching me.  As a child I had a habit of exposing myself, which as an adult turned into the somewhat legally dangerous hobby of streaking (you haven’t lived until you run from the cops while simultaneously trying to put your clothes on).  Although I am firmly ensconced in a sex positive, polyamorous, orgiastic culture, the sight of people having sex in front of me is still something of a trigger.  Once, after watching a friend give another a blow job, my partner turned to me, only to see me covering my eyes with my hands like a little kid watching a horror movie.  It would probably take an amateur Freudian eleven seconds to diagnose my adult sexual proclivities and hang-ups as resulting from the abuse I got as a child.  It took me the better part of forty years.

So, damnit!  Here I was all this time thinking I was a living example that Dr. Drew’s theory that only child sex abuse survivors grow up to be hypersexual was wrong, and I was a child sex abuse survivor all along.  Now, don’t get it twisted; I personally don’t feel like I survived anything.  To me it’s just one of those things kids go through at the hands of other kids, like bullying.  It can be mild or it can be severe, and in my case, it was pretty mild; I think the fact that I am a “sex abuse survivor” is almost a technicality.  Like the that time in El Paso, Texas, right before I was questioned by the border patrol for having one foot on either side of the US/Mexico divide when I was “technically” in Mexico.  And who knows, perhaps it was the very “abuse” I “suffered” as a child that put me on the path to one day co-found an organization like Sex Positive St. Louis.  Perhaps a “healthier” childhood would have led to me being a general contractor like my dad, or a pharmaceutical sales rep, like my mother wanted.  Instead, I am a free-range, polyamorous man whore and published author of erotica who travels the US and Canada teaching workshops on sex and relationships.  Of course, I’m not trying to encourage childhood sexual abuse; the things that happened to me, minor as they were, I would not wish on my child if I had one.  I guess, if I’m trying to do anything other than describe my personal experience, it is to pull back the veil of fear and shame on the topic of childhood sexuality.  For better or for worse, those early experiences help make me who I am.  And I kinda like being me.

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Diary #284

A Most Amazing Clockwork Woman by Ian Daniels (2010)Back in the long-ago and far-off days of two years ago, my schedule was so regular and predictable that I was always a month ahead on most of my columns, and several days out on the news columns.  I devoted every Tuesday to outside-the-blog work like “Mind-witness Testimony“, the Cato Unbound series which appeared two years ago this month, and the preparation of Ladies of the Night.  When I began to plan my book tour in the spring of last year, I got even more ambitious and prepared my columns for fully two months out; after my return home late that summer I quickly stabilized it at a month out again.  And now I’m pleased when I manage to be two days ahead for a little while.  You know what else I used to plan in advance?  Meals.  Because Matt travels so much for his job and the nearest full-sized grocery store is 20 miles from my ranch in Oklahoma, I actually planned my meals a month in advance; now I usually have no idea what I’m going to eat (or often, even where or when) until I actually set out to prepare or buy it.  See, I’m actually kind of a homebody; I like things to be predictable and planned and comfortable.  I like to eat at regular times and do things in a reasonably-regular fashion, and I don’t much like surprises.  And maybe someday I’ll be able to live that lifestyle again, at least in the weeks when I’m not traveling; maybe after the house is finished and I have my retirement income figured out and preparations for taking care of my loved ones set in stone, maybe then I can get back to some degree of regularity…though I suspect the days of Phileas Fogg-like clockwork predictability are gone forever.  Well, at least I usually have many of my work appointments and most of my social and other appointments planned a few days to a week out; I know Grace will be arriving for her Christmas visit two weeks from today, and I’m involved in planning some things that won’t take place for over two months yet.  And who knows?  If I try very hard, I might even manage to do another book sometime.

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Diary #283

PanelDiscussionAfter a few months of devotion to personal issues, the balance of my effort is once again shifting to work and activism.  I don’t think I really need to tell y’all what my work involves, though I will say I’ve met some lovely gentlemen and done a few fun duos lately.  Of course I’m going to remind y’all about my Toys for Tots promotion; it’s running until the 18th, so if you live in the Seattle area and wish to take advantage, drop me a line to ask for details!  On the activism front, SWOP Seattle has a number of events related to the December 17th observance; one of them is a panel discussion on stigma, to be held on Saturday the 19th.  That’s all I have to report for right now, and frankly I’m rather glad of that; Aphrodite has made it very clear to me that I’ve been working much too hard for too many years, and She wants me to learn to relax.  And since I have a number of friends who share Her opinion on the subject, that’s exactly what I’m starting to do.  It’s not easy for me, but it’s necessary, and you know what?  I’m even starting to get the hang of it.

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