By now you've heard of the "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy. You know, it's the trio of erotic books by E.L. James that has swept into suburbia and cities across the globe, and adored by many (not just suburban moms). I am a fan. In the spirit of full disclosure, I read all three books in less than 48 hours. All of my closest friends and many of my female relatives have, too.
Yesterday I appeared on The Today Show to talk about the BDSM love story. What should have been a segment on women's fantasies and why they are an essential part of our lives (similar to a piece I have written here before) segued into a larger (and more inappropriate) discussion on violence against women. Now I am not suggesting that it is inappropriate to talk about violence against women; I am stating that "Fifty Shades of Grey" and other types of non-vanilla erotica have nothing to do with violence against women. And I'm not the only one who feels that way. If you look at "Fifty Shades" fan pages or online book clubs, people are pissed. And they have the right to be. (Though the book did shoot up to #1 on Amazon afterwards, so "Fifty Shades" has secured its best-selling status.)
When you are on television, you get a short amount of time to answer some pretty big questions. It is absolutely impossible to do justice to a subject (especially a potentially controversial one) in four minutes, so I will use this forum instead. Now I don't find anything about "Fifty Shades of Grey" controversial, but if yesterday's media hype has got you questioning all of this, consider the following:
1. In our culture, it is politically incorrect for women to become aroused by something that makes us appear/seem/act submissive. However, we don't control how and if we turn on to something or someone. We may not desire to have fantasies about losing control, but many of us do. It doesn't make us bad women or bad people. It doesn't even say anything about our psyche or whether or not we want to "lose control" in our own lives. We may not have even known that we could turn on to a particular scene or experience until reading about it. And in the case of "Fifty Shades," if it got you hot and bothered, it got you hot and bothered. That's about it; there's no underlying psychological issue here. This is not about feminism or the demise of the women's movement, which is what I fear may have come up during the Today Show segment.
2. You cannot read three books and attempt to understand the BDSM and kink communities at large. This is one author's perspective, and it's fiction. BDSM is not as simple as "pleasure from pain," which is how it is often described. BDSM is about exploring different power dynamics, sensations, restraint and control. If you are part of that scene, it is highly negotiated and orchestrated; submissives have a great deal of power. And by the way, submissives are not always women. "Fifty Shades" is one story but not representative of an entire community. (I wonder how the television segment would have changed if we talked about the many women dominants or the many men who submit willingly and lovingly.) But quite honestly, I am not the expert on BDSM and kink. However, I certainly know enough to tell you that its portrayal in mass media (think "CSI" and "Law & Order") is inaccurate and dangerous, and in turn, keeps the real community fairly closeted because of all of our incorrect preconceived notions. ...
?A group of Denver kinksters staged a protest at the KinkForAllDenver conference last weekend. The demonstration was planned and executed amid accusations -- prior to the event -- that two KinkForAllDenver organizers censored presentations to discourage too much BDSM content and actively sought to exclude local kinksters.
The event, which took place on February 25 at the Tivoli Student Union, included about seventy people, who attended discussion groups, presentations and teach-ins. It was organized by Rebecca Crane of Boulder and Meitar "Maymay" Moscovitz, formerly of New York the co-founder of KinkForAll.
But several prominent local kinksters were noticeably missing, including Denver's premiere dominatrix and kink community leader Mistress Saskia, who was originally planning to present on biofeedback breathing and scene identities and roles. Saskia and husband, Jeff Jizz, were involved in the planning stage of the event, and donated $50 to help secure conference space.
But after her initial support Saskia backed out of the conference -- and she didn't mince words about her reasons why. "I decided not to present because Rebecca Crane was contacting me privately, saying my suggested presentations weren't appropriate for KFADEN -- too much BDSM content -- and also because Maymay was making it clear on the Google group for the event that he intended to destroy any safe space for people he calls 'traditional and privileged BDSMers,'" Saskia says.
A "safe space" is nominally defined by BDSM and GLBTQ advocates as a space kept free of discriminatory speech, violence and harassment.
Saskia and Jizz say that after Moscovitz and Crane approached them about participating in the conference and -- after their donation was made -- they were participating in an online discussion on the KinkForAll Google group about presentation topics when the conversation became heated over the issue of what topics that Crane and Moscovitz felt were too skewed toward BDSM.
Saskia says, "I posted other proposals, like 'Erotic Humiliation vs. Degradation.' She wasn't receptive to that and kept suggesting I try other things with broader appeal. I think my final suggestion was something on roles and identities, but after all the comments from Maymay about creating a hostile environment, I just removed my proposals and unsubscribed from the Google group."
According to Saskia and Jizz, the divisive quote was this one posted by Maymay on the KinkForAll Google group: "Maybe you don't know this about me yet, so now's a good time for me to be direct: It is my expressly stated intention to make BDSM 'traditionalists' uncomfortable. I *enjoy* it, I'm *good* at it, and I'm not going to pull any punches in Denver or anywhere else. My aim is to destroy every 'safe space' for privileged BDSM bullshit anywhere within my reach. And yes, that includes KinkForAll. So, rubbing people 'The wrong way'? Depending on who you're talking about rubbing the wrong way, hell, that's part of my *success criterion*." ...
The Justice Department has dropped its effort to force a a writer for the online magazine Salon to testify at the obscenity trial beginning this week for a California-based pornographer, the writer said Tuesday.
Salon writer Tracy Clark-Flory said in a story posted Tuesday that she was subpoenaed by prosecutors pursuing Ira Isaacs, who produced and distributed fetish and bestiality videos that prosecutors contend were legally obscene. Clark-Flory said prosecutors planned to fly her from San Francisco to Los Angeles and put her up at a hotel so she could testify about an interview she did with Isaacs last year.
However, she told POLITICO that on Tuesday afternoon, her lawyers were told by the government that her presence for the trial was no longer needed.
"I just got word the prosecution sent an e-mail to my lawyer around early afternoon that the government decided it will not be calling me after all," a relieved Clark-Flory said in a telephone interview. "I wonder if it occured to them that, maybe, compelling a journalist to go on the stand for this trial...would end up being too messy a situation or be a bigger pain than it was worth."
Justice Department policy requires that, in most cases, subpoenas for journalists be approved in advance by the Attorney General.
It's unclear whether that occurred in this instance, but Attorney General Eric Holder called attention to the case Tuesday at a Congressional hearing. Asked by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) about concerns that adult obscenity cases have been flagging since Holder disbanded a small Bush-era Adult Obscenity Task Force and combined its operations with a DOJ unit that handles child exploitation cases, Holder pointed specifically to the Isaacs case, which was filed back in 2007.
"The merger has not impacted our desires to go after appropriate adult obscenity cases," Holder said. "Our emphasis, I will be very frank with you, is on cases involving children. But I will note that there is a major case that is starting I believe either today or tomorrow in Los Angeles, the Isaacs matter, that involves adult obscenity."
"That is, I think, an example of what we are doing in that regard," Holder added. "There has not been a diminution of our focus on that as a result of the merger." ...
Stephen Hawking certainly has discovered some new heavenly bodies — at a California jiggle joint.
The apparently sex-crazed 70-year-old genius astrophysicist, who is confined to a wheelchair by Lou Gehrig’s disease and uses a computer to speak, has been spotted several times getting lap dances at California sex club Devore, RadarOnline reported today.
Hawking, whose work on black holes earned him international acclaim, arrives at the club with an entourage of nurses and assistants and has "naked women grind on him," RadarOnline reported.
"I have seen Steven Hawking at the club more than a handful of times," the source told the online celebrity gossip site. "Last time I saw him he was in the back 'play area' laying on a bed fully clothed with two naked women gyrating all over him."
Although debilitated by the disease, which is also known as motor neurone disease, Hawking has been a member of the Freedom Acres swingers club for more than a decade, according to the report.
Hawking and his second wife, Elaine, divorced in 2006. His first marriage, to Jane Hawking, split in 1990.
Diagnosed at the age of 21, Hawking was given only a few years to live but has defied medical opinion by reaching his eighth decade.
"I'm sure my disability has a bearing on why I'm well known," he once said. "People are fascinated by the contrast between my very limited physical powers, and the vast nature of the universe I deal with."
Much of his work has centered on bringing together relativity (the nature of space and time) and quantum theory (how the smallest particles in the universe behave) to explain the creation of the universe and how it is governed.
Hawking is a good sport, according to RadarOnline, and will even pose for photos with fans as long as the pics are taken in "a neutral area."
"Real Housewives of Orange County" star Vicki Gunvalson's ex-husband Donn has also been spotted in the Southern California swingers club, RadarOnline said.
"But Stephen is by far the last person I ever expected to see in this club," the source told the site.
Therapist No. 1 wrote in: "The husband has developed an interest in BDSM practices and is insisting his wife participate with him. The wife is seriously turned off by the new games and doesn't want to play. Suggestions?"
Therapist No. 2 responded: "Well, no one should be expected to do things against their wishes, but what is BDSM?"
Therapist No. 3 responded: "BDSM = Bondage and Discipline, Sadomasochism."
Therapist No. 4 chimes in and suggests that kinky clients deserve "kink-aware" therapists who understand their needs and lifestyle. He offers a directory of kink-aware therapists. Vanilla therapists need to stick to vanilla clients, "vanilla" meaning tending to practice the more familiar expressions of sexual love and avoiding the "walk on the wild side."
Where we camp out on the continuum of kink is a matter of individual choice. It gets more challenging when partners have to blend their respective desires into one sex life. Negotiations become extremely difficult when one lover is "vanilla" to the point of being resistant to trying any new sexual activities.
The flip side is the challenge of a partner who has a persistent desire for a particular sex act that is unappealing, frightening or repugnant. Rigid insistence on having it your way can lead to major resentments. ...
Being human is sublime. The ability to reason and feel emotion definitely blows my skirt up and makes me grateful The Great Spirits chose to birth my breath into this particular animal form.
Sadly, though, there is a serious downside to this intellect-emotion body: ego. The notion of separateness. And the ego seems passionately devoted to pounding that delusion of separateness into our hearts and minds so that we hate anyone who is not like us because we fear their difference will be our downfall, when, in fact, the opposite is true. Other people's wonderfully unique nuances are our soul's education and light source. They are our uprising, not our undoing.
But the hate bully born from the fearful voices of our friends, parents, schools, media, and spiritual teachers, who are terrified of not being accepted for who they are and what they feel, has historically body and mind-snatched our higher internal judgment and convinced us there are a right people and a wrong people. A people to love and a people to hate.
It needs to end once and for all, because as of now, we are merely transferring the baton from one ridiculed group to the next every so often, absolving ourselves of inaction by doing so, and claiming evolution of equality and tolerance when, in fact, that is a lie and we are comfortably dying from the cancer at the source which remains untreated and more ferocious than ever. ...
Homosexuals are no longer the anti-Christs. That prestigious honor now resides with a new rising star that has seemingly come out of nowhere: BDSM. SICK FUCKS -- THE NEW NUMBER ONES.
(Since people interested in BDSM are such a new group, there hasn't yet been an adequate hate-acronym given them. "Shit eating-fake Cock sucking-Foot licking-Cross dressing-Kinky Sleazebags" is catchy and adequately pejorative. Hopefully it will catch on.)
Those disgusting, deviant, deranged sickos, who are probably all old black-loving gays too. Wait. Old people, blacks and gays are okay now, I forgot. Okay, well, everything else said about them must be true.
And the really exciting thing is, this new hero group of Devil-Titans, has the vitriolic support of not only the right but now even the left. That's why this new group of lepers may become a super power of the demonized, the likes we might never see again. Their reign might go on for hundreds of years and may even rival the blacks' great run.
If you don't believe me, and feel this neophyte clan of perverts isn't nearly strong enough to take over the top spot from the gays, just give this test to your right-wing friends. And as I said, since this new leader of the worst people on earth cuts across party lines, cementing their place as an impenetrable strain of filth, you can unprecedentedly also give the same test to your liberal friends too. Its result will convince you unequivocally and remove all reasonable doubt. ...
A Craigslist search for “swingers” in the Austin area yields results that range from “soft swinging,” “house parties,” “first time swingers” and a variety of types of couples looking to have some fun. Some listings are more explicit than others, but one thing is common in all of them — the couples are all looking to add other people to their sexual encounters.
Not to be confused with polyamory, which is when a person practices both sexual and emotional relationships with multiple people, swingers are usually couples looking to have sexual relations with other couples or with other single parties. Some couples will keep swinging with their same partners multiple times, while other couples will choose different partners each time they swing for different experiences.
The methods that couples use to find their other partners differs within swinging culture. Craigslist, although very direct, can be fruitless when people replying to listings may not may not be as be physically stunning as they advertised. A more personal and natural way of exploring swinging choices is to go to either a swingers club or a house party.
Clubs tend to be more open to new members, but house parties require an invitation. There are also membership fees for clubs and the atmosphere in clubs and house parties tend to differ.
“House parties [and clubs] are two different things altogether,” said Mark, manager of The Friends Club(NSFW 18+), a private, members-only swingers club in Austin. He declined to give his last name. “From the club scene, I think it's a good environment all around. It's not amazingly intense because the clubs in Austin, to my understanding, are all off-premise.”
“Off-premise” means that sexual activity is not allowed on the actual club property. Since swingers clubs tend be private, with annual memberships and more of a nightclub atmosphere, they are a often a better fit for beginning couples than on-premise house parties, where rooms are designated for sexual activity and swinging may be less discreet. ...