e first time you heard the word “Oneida,” it was probably in the context of silverware. Perhaps it was before a Christmas dinner, when your mom or grandmother instructed you get out the “good silver” made by Oneida Limited. Even though it was only silverplate rather than sterling, your family probably stored it in a velvet-lined wooden case. Or maybe you saw an ad depicting an elegant table set with Oneida flatware while flipping through the pages of “Good Housekeeping” or “Better Homes and Gardens.” You might also have encountered Oneida while watching “The Price Is Right,” enthralled by the model wowing a studio audience when she opened a chest of gleaming Oneida cutlery for the contestants to bid on.
In fact, Oneida is the name of a First Nations tribe that occupied much of upstate New York long before it was called upstate New York. Given those deep roots, along with its later symbolism as the brand of flatware most associated with American middle-class aspirationalism and traditional gender roles, it’s doubly ironic that Oneida Limited actually emerged from a 19th-century polyamorous communist Christian utopia known as the Oneida Community.
Founded in 1848, and in operation for just over three decades, the Oneida Community was profoundly revolutionary for its time, paving the way for advances in women’s and workers’ rights. At the commune headquartered on the Oneida River in upstate New York, women cut their hair short, ditched the corset, and did the same work as the men. Everyone worked four to six hours a day, and no one accumulated any material possessions—not furniture, not fine clothing, and certainly not silverware.
Most scandalously, commune members engaged in a system of “complex marriage,” believing that loving, open sexual relationships could bring them closer to God. They believed the liquid electricity of Jesus Christ’s spirit flowed through words and touch, and that a chain of sexual intercourse would create a spiritual battery so charged with God’s energy that the community would transcend into immortality, creating heaven on earth.
Ellen Wayland-Smith, a descendant of members of the Oneida commune, delves her into family’s history in her new book, Oneida: From Free Love Utopia to the Well-Set Table. Oneida’s early enterprises included canning fruits and vegetables and manufacturing animal traps, chain link, and silk sewing thread. It was Wayland-Smith’s great-great-grandfather, Charles Cragin, who in 1877 suggested the community start making spoons at its colony in Wallingford, Connecticut, near the rushing Quinnipiac River. The original polyamorous religious commune broke up in 1880 and reorganized its assets into a corporation. In the 1890s, Oneida Community, Limited, started to drop its other products to focus on the cutlery market. For roughly 100 years, the silverware corporation—which was eventually renamed Oneida Limited—thrived under the leadership of the Community’s descendants. However, the 2000s weren’t kind to Oneida, so its executives had to file for bankruptcy in 2006 and sell the brand, which is owned by a houseware conglomerate now.
Wayland-Smith’s book begins in July 1948, when Oneida Limited flatware manufacturer celebrated the Community’s 100th birthday and the company’s reputation as—forgive the pun—a “sterling” example of American industry. On a grandstand outside the original community’s 93,000-square foot Victorian brick home called the Mansion House in Oneida, New York, the crowd enjoyed a soprano and organist performing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the crowning of a “Silver Queen,” and a string of circus and daredevil acts. At the end of the day, attendees danced to the music of Jimmy Dorsey’s orchestra. At the festivities, the company touted its patriotism and contributions to American capitalism, as well as its devotion to social equality and the golden rule. What attendees didn’t know was that a truckload of papers documenting the Oneida Community’s spiritual-sexual experiments had—just a year before—been taken to the Oneida town dump and set on fire.
“The burning of the papers, which happened in 1947, included original members’ diaries, letters, and the community notes and logs in terms of their sexual practices,” Wayland-Smith explains. “All of these sensitive materials were in that collection. The Oneida descendants knew about the burning, obviously. At the time, they had people knocking at their doors, trying to get access to these papers, and they thought, ‘You know what, we’re going to put an end to this for good.’ In some ways, they were intensely private people.”
Fortunately for Wayland-Smith, previous Oneida chronicler Spencer Klaw, and anyone else who wants to dig into the community’s history, it wasn’t all lost. While the large archive accumulated by Oneida descendant, George Wallingford Noyes, was burned, other family members held onto diaries and letters. Those, along with the myriad publications like books and newspapers the Oneida Community put out into the world, are now housed at the Oneida Community Collection at Syracuse University.
Oneida began—as most utopias do—with the vision of one charismatic leader, in this case, a preacher named John Humphrey Noyes. Born to a well-off family in Putney, Vermont, in 1811, Noyes, an awkward and introverted redhead, grew up lamenting his feelings of sexual frustration. When his religiously devout mother sent him to a tent revival in fall of 1831, the 20-year-old virgin discovered he could channel all his erotic energy into Christianity. ...
There are many forms of consensual non monogamy, ways which people in a relationship negotiate sex and intimacy outside of traditional norms. From car keys in the middle of the room swinging through hand-fasted triads, to relationship anarchy, people have been saying for a while now that there are other ways of doing relationships. Of course, as many advocates of polygamy will point out, traditional depends on where you are standing, and there are a number of cultures across the world who have had different models of how adult relationships can work
Whatever someone calls their way of doing relationships, they encounter the same questions, preconceptions and stereotypes from monogamous people.
1. You must be sex mad!
Some forms of consensual non monogamy are based around sexual encounters, swinging for example. In swinging single people and couples believe that sex is not just reserved for those with whom you have an emotional bond. However, many swingers will only “play” (a term which highlights the easy going, light hearted attitude taken to sex) with those they have built some form of an emotional relationship with. There are very few hard and fast rules around swinging, other than the golden rule of consent.
Many non monogamous people however do not see their relationships as about more sex, but more love, that is what polyamory means after all — “many loves.” For them the idea that they are just looking for more sexual partners is hurtful, it’s about love, emotional connection, not bed hopping. A joke in policy circles is that you need google calendar more than you need a bag of sex toys!
2. I could never have an affair
So often people confuse being unfaithful with polyamory, and its probably the statement which causes more anger than any other. Poly, or whatever form of consensual non monogamy someone practices, is consensual, but people seem to skim over the all important “c word.” If you are deceiving a partner, going behind their back, it’s not polyamory, it’s not consensual for all parties involved. If you ever want to see sparks fly, mention those on poly forums and sites who claim to be poly, but without the consent of their partners. Whilst it is of course difficult if you realize after marriage that you and your partner have different views on monogamy, the ethical solution is to talk, and negotiate. I know from my client work that this is not as impossible as some might suppose. If you are meeting others without the consent of your partner, its a lot of things, but it is not poly.
3. It must be wonderful to never get jealous.
There are some people who don’t seem to get jealous. There are far more people who know that jealousy is a destructive emotion, which eats away at our joy and happiness. Choosing non monogamy does not mean you do not get jealous, there isn’t a handy switch you can turn off. For many poly people it’s about accepting that jealousy isn’t a positive emotion, and working through their feelings rather than giving full reign to them. They may well be jealous, but, they choose not to let the emotion control things. The lovely polar opposite of jealousy is compersion, a beautiful concept, pleasure in a partner’s relationship with another. ...
Judges will rule on appeal concerning positive obligations of men charged with rape
by Mary Carolan
The Director of Public Prosections wants the Supreme Court to clarify the law when men accused of rape claim the woman consented to sex.
The seven judge court will rule later on an important appeal concerning what positive obligations apply to men charged with rape who plead they believed there was consent to sex.
The DPP wants the court to consider whether, in particular cases of alleged rape, an accused is obliged, before any sex, to ascertain there was actual capacity to consent.
Tom O’Malley BL, for the DPP, said consent is “the minimum required of any respectful interaction between human beings” and there has been a “massive change in attitudes” to rape.
It would be helpful for the Supreme Court to clarify there must be a genuine basis for consent in circumstances including where some hold views a woman may be so “out of it” consent is irrelevant, he said.
The court’s consideration should be shaped by “fundamental” values, including rights to sexual autonomy, bodily integrity and human dignity, and also address the meaning of consent.
The appeal, before four male and three female judges, concerns a man jailed for 12 years after being convicted by a majority jury verdict of raping his mother, aged in her sixties.
He denied rape and pleaded he honestly believed she consented to sex, a claim she rejected.
After the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal against conviction, he sought a further appeal to the Supreme Court.
It agreed to hear an appeal after stating, given the importance of the protection of women from sexual violence, the precise definition of the mental element of rape is “a matter of general public importance”. The presentation of that definition to a jury was also important, it said
Consent, as a matter of fact, “may carry positive obligations for a man to ascertain where the issue of consent by the woman to sexual intercourse stands”, it added.
It certified two questions for determination in the appeal, heard and concluded on Monday. The Chief Justice, Ms Justice Susan Denham, said the court was reserving judgment.
The first question is whether the mental element of rape can excuse a situation where, on unreasonable and irrational grounds, a man genuinely believed a woman consented to sex when in fact she had not.
The second asks whether, within the legal definition of rape, there is a legal requirement for a man to ascertain, prior to sex, the woman is (a) capable of consenting and (b) she has consented. ...
"Though I’d been learning to embrace my life in a wheelchair—a result of cerebral palsy—going without touch, or even access to my own body, was taking a toll."
BY ANDREW GURZA
I’d never considered the price of intimacy until I hired a sex worker. Though I’d been learning to embrace my life in a wheelchair—a result of cerebral palsy—going without touch, or even access to my own body, was taking a toll. Even so, I didn’t come to my decision lightly. I was worried about shame, stigma, and fear, and concerned I’d pay for time and still not get what I needed. I spent weeks quieting the voices in my head telling me that using the services of a sex worker was not a good idea. Would this be the only way I could find intimacy? Would someone even want to do this with me, or would he only view it as a charitable opportunity to help a cripple? Despite all these questions, I sat in my apartment reflecting on my nearly year-long celibacy. It was time to take care of myself.
After scouring site after site with rows and rows of horny men holding their hard-ons, I found David. His smile was warm, inviting, and intriguingly devious all at once. He was older than me, in his mid-40s, and his photos showed off a powerful body, a strong charisma, and an undeniable charm. I’d often felt physically invisible within the mainstream LGBT community, but David possessed everything I longed for.
I sent David a cursory email, telling him that I was interested in using his services, but that I had never done this before, that I was nervous. I also casually explained as best I could that I lived with a disability and used a chair. He emailed back some hours later, letting me know that he had experience working with clients with disabilities. David wrote bluntly: “If I’m unsure of something, I’ll just ask.” It was a refreshing change from all the guys who tripped and tumbled over their discomfort.
We ironed out the logistics—a time, a location, a fee. Knowing that my sexuality would be broken down into a succinct session was daunting, and it took away from the fantasy and spontaneity I had dreamed of. But this, perhaps, was the cost of getting what I wanted, what I needed. David gently reminded me that I was paying for his time, and whatever happened happened. On our very last exchange, just a day before we’d meet, he called and asked me a simple question, though one I have never been asked before: “What do you want?”
Shyly and nervously I outlined my likes and dislikes as well as my abilities. I wanted kissing. I craved body contact. I couldn’t bottom for him because of my spasticity and tight muscles. I’d need help undressing and being put in bed. I paused, smiled. My needs were at the forefront.
On a rainy, blustery Saturday afternoon, my iPhone blinked with the message that David was in my lobby. I looked at myself in the mirror: a long-sleeve shirt, cozy winter sweats, a baseball cap. I headed downstairs in the elevator. When the door opened, I recognized him immediately. “Hey there! How are you?” he said, giving me a big hug as if we were long-lost friends. I kept watching him, in part because I still couldn’t believe this was happening, and because he looked really good in those tight blue jeans and that leather jacket.
A sexy man was in my house. We made small talk, waiting for someone to strike. He led himself into my bedroom and asked me about the transfer device I use to get into bed. I told him he would have to lift my legs while I held on to two gymnastic rings fastened to a hydraulic lift in my ceiling. I continued babbling, watching him get closer to me, taking off his coat, revealing a tank top and thick, muscled arms. He then straddled my chair, bent down, and kissed me. As I reached and pawed at him—my limbs flailing, not wanting to miss an inch—he stopped me. He looked into my eyes, past the rejection and pain caused by other lovers, and spoke with a firm honesty. “It’s OK.”
David drank in my disability and I dared not stop him. He lifted me out of my chair and held me in his arms. He grabbed me, cradled me, and kissed me. I curled up into him so he could feel the scars, curves, rods, and contractures that inform my disability. I felt sexy. He took off my shirt, and together we revealed my skin. As he moved down my body, and took off my pants and shoes, I worried what he would do when he saw my leg bag and my toes, which curled into each other. But David made this act of care exciting and real for me. When I was finally naked with him on the bed—my body going into spastic fits as a result of CP—I started to tense even more as I neared climax. In a piercing moment of release, I felt my two identities collide: queer and crippled came together in a surge of pure, uncomplicated pleasure. ...
Over the past few years, sexual assault has gone from something in an after-school special to a very real problem plaguing college students across the country. While it’s a widely accepted truth that parents and teachers must do a better job teaching young people, and in particular young men, about sexual consent, every time an assault happens, we are reminded of how badly these young men need coaching on what to do when the lines may be blurred.
Never has the need for this coaching become more apparent than two weeks ago, when the news of former Stanford athlete Brock Turner’s crime, in which he assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, sickened the nation. In her powerful statement, Turner’s victim reveals that “the night after it happened, he said he thought I liked it because I rubbed his back. … Never mentioned me voicing consent, never mentioned us even speaking, a back rub.”
Is it possible Turner had never explicitly been taught the importance of getting a clear “yes” from a partner? Or did he learn but chose to ignore it? The victim’s account got me thinking: How many men in this country know better, and how many just don’t know at all?
With Turner’s case as the catalyst, I set out to capture a snapshot of the way men were taught about the concept of consent, and when they learned it. Through Twitter, Facebook, and email, I was able to connect with 48 guys, aged 18 to 49, in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. about when or if they formally learned about consent—and the numbers paint a grim picture of the state of sex education. Of the 48 surveyed, more than three quarters said that before college, they hadn’t even heard the word “consent” or been given an explicit explanation of how you must ask for a partner’s permission. And of the remaining 11 who said they were taught about consent, most reported learning from parents or siblings.
Paula Madrigal was not surprised by my findings. She’s the assistant director of a sex education program at Buffalo State University in New York, and each year she meets young men and women embarking on their adult lives. In a 2015 episode of the podcast This American Life called “Birds & Bees,” you can hear Madrigal begin a conversation with her students about the concept of consent.
“It doesn’t sound right, it’s like you’re messing up the mood if you ask [for consent],” one student comments on the podcast. But Madrigal says that she has far bigger concerns than teens worrying about the mood.
“From what we have seen, it doesn’t appear as though they are familiar with what the basic premise of what consent even means,” Madrigal told me in a phone conversation. And by the time they reach her workshops in their late teens, many students—particularly the male students—aren’t able to see why this lesson is so profound.
Madrigal recognizes an education gap between the sexes about consent. But even more pronounced, she said, is the perception gap. “Statistically, men are typically the perpetrators [of sexual assault], and women are statistically the victims. So it’s almost natural that once you start talking about this, men are going to get defensive…It’s not so much from an educational standpoint, it’s that they start to personalize things. They’re not necessarily looking at the larger picture.”
A culture of male entitlement
For many of the men I spoke with, the void created by the absence of formal education on consent and how to treat a partner was filled in by their peers—and the result was rampant misinformation, and a culture of dangerous male entitlement.
Richard, 33, who grew up in the Bay Area, says he could remember when he started attending house parties in 8th grade, where drugs, alcohol and unsupervised spaces were readily available. This was the period of time when boys like him were becoming men, their sexuality awakening, and their views toward women were being molded—in other words, the time when a conversation about consent would have been crucial. ...
On the rooftop of an empty building in Zagreb, Dino Helvida carefully pierces his client Kaitlin's torso, legs and face before putting hooks through her skin.
Shortly after, he suspends her from a metallic frame, her heavily tattooed body dangling horizontally in the air.
Helvida, 27, is a professional piercer and body suspension expert from Bosnia Herzegovina, who for the last six years has been hanging up the bodies of those brave enough to partake in what is an extreme form of body piercing, sometimes for hours.
The process is carefully done, and in this case Helvida works with his girlfriend Zorana. It involves first piercing the skin with needles, putting through metallic hooks, which are then attached to a thin rope to lift the suspendee off the ground.
"You can do one hook or you can do 100. You have different hooks for different positions and different hooks for different body parts," Helvida told Reuters.
"So everything is really calculated and it's safe."
It took Helvida around an hour to prepare Kaitlin, visiting Zagreb from the United States, for suspension. Devotees say the practice gives them a huge sense of well-being, and Kaitlin did not complain of discomfort once.
"It is painful. Piercing is painful, it's just like regular piercing," Helvida said. "Every time it's a new piercing and the wound heals really fast, it can heal in two weeks. I had hooks in my forehead and nobody can tell I had them." ...
Ofcom decides that Pandora Blake’s dreamsofspanking site was not a video-on-demand service and is therefore not subject to censorship
by Damien Gayle
A feminist pornographer has hailed a victory for freedom of expression after she won her appeal against an order that had forced her to take down a sadomasochism fetish website
Pandora Blake, from London, said she believed she was targeted by the Authority for Television on Demand (Atvod) watchdog because she spoke out publicly against rules on porn deemed “harmful to minors”.
Now, after Ofcom ruled that Blake’s website, dreamsofspanking.com, did not fall under Atvod’s remit, she is free to reinstate its content. “Now I’ve won my appeal I feel vindicated,” she said. “The war against intrusive and oppressive state censorship isn’t over but this decision is a landmark victory for feminist porn, diversity and freedom of expression.”
“If you look at [Atvod’s] archive, the sites they were ruling against, a lot of them were run by women,” Blake said. “It did really feel like they were upholding a kind of patriarchal sexuality.”
Atvod, a quango which regulated video-on-demand websites, was stripped of its powers earlier this year. It had been widely criticised for acting against sites outside its remit and, after new rules were introduced in 2014 banning some sex acts in pornography, free speech campaigners also said it disproportionately acted against websites run by women.
Blake had been among those who spoke out publicly against the Audio Visual Media Services regulations (AVMS), which in 2014 banned the depiction of sex acts that were judged morally damaging or life-threatening, including face-sitting, female ejaculation and spanking that leaves marks. She appeared in panel discussions on Newsnight and Women’s Hour opposing the new rules.
She says she was placed under investigation by Atvod soon after. In August 2015, after a five-month inquiry, she was forced to censor her website, which Atvod ruled had breached rules in three areas: a failure to pay regulatory fees, a lack of effective age controls to restrict access to over-18s, and the broadcast of harmful material.
Atvod’s investigation into her work had been traumatic, Blake said. “Making porn was part of an act of self-acceptance for me, to say I’m not ashamed and to reach out to other people who share the same sort of fantasies,” she said. “As a result, the films that I was making did show very honestly the sort of play that I enjoy in real life, it does include quite heavy impact with things like belts and canes – always consensual, but it does leave welts and bruises that might take a few days to heal.” ...
OkCupid is playing around with a new feature designed to add complexity to its Tinder-esque "Quickmatch" function, called Flavors. OkCupid "Flavors" group matches by a shared personality trait, giving users more information to swipe on than just a picture. The way it works is, every day, OkCupid reveals three different "flavors" to choose from in your Quickmatches. Some have weirdly obtuse punny names like "Incisor Trading" (people who are into biting) and "Grand Old Partiers" (Republicans who like to drink... yeesh), while others are more straightforward, like "Kinky Nerds" and "Hipster Vegans."
Personally, I don't like the Quickmatch function on its own. The whole point of being on OkCupid instead of Tinder is that it allows users the latitude (via character limit-free profile sections) to get really specific about who they are and what they want. If you play with Quickmatch on a mobile device, all you get to swipe on is a user's photos. You don't even get access to the person's username to read their profiles unless you match.
And, based on my personal experience of getting far more mysterious "someone liked you" notifications (unless you both match, being able to see who liked you is a premium profile-only feature) than visitors who are looking at my profile, it seems like lazy, Tinder-conditioned folks are using the Quickmatch feature more than doing the actual work of scrolling through profiles and writing thoughtfully referenced messages. But I can't see who likes me, and I'm not interested in favoriting a user based on a photo alone to generate a so-called "match." The Flavors feature seems to be trying to address this at least a little bit.
OkCupid published its analysis of what Flavors were most effective and why they think that is, and, unsurprisingly, "Kinky Nerds" was the most engaged-with flavor. Here's why that worked better than something like "Best in Show":
Overall, Flavors that spoke to personality traits fared better compared to groups that were curated based on an opinion. For instance, Best In Show (stylish dog owners) performed poorly as owning a dog and being fashionably-savvy doesn’t reveal someone’s characteristics. But personality-rich categories like Kinky Nerds (high on the kinky and nerdy axes) and Hipster Vegans (high on the hipster axis, have specific diet preferences) performed better, as those produced a consistent ‘type’ of person. ...