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"Eric Holder, ‘Porn Facilitator'? 'Dirty' List Highlights Lull In Obscenity War"

on Friday, 05 April 2013. Hits 450

Huffington Post

Forget big banks. In the eyes of one conservative group, Attorney General Eric Holder has failed in his duty to take down big porn.

Morality in Media put Holder at the top of its “Dirty Dozen List” of “top pornography facilitators” this week, placing the nation’s leading law enforcement official in the company of Comcast, Facebook, the American Library Association, Twitter, Wikipedia and even the Department of Defense.

“Holder’s actions keep the porn industry thriving,” Patrick A. Trueman, president of Morality in Media, said in a press release. “He not only refuses to enforce obscenity laws currently on the books that prohibit the distribution of hardcore pornography, but he even disbanded the office charged with enforcement.”

Trueman, who headed the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section until 1993, is referring to Holder’s 2011 decision to shut down the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force, which was formed in 2005. Obscenity prosecutions dropped during the Clinton administration after Trueman left the department. The Obama administration hasn’t brought a new obscenity case since taking office in 2009, and during the Bush administration, Trueman acknowledges, obscenity prosecutions were at relatively low levels.

Trueman had some hope that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would reverse that trend, with his team promising it would crack down on porn during the presidential campaign. But while some politicians, including a handful of Democrats, have called on the DOJ to step up prosecutions of adult pornography, First Amendment advocates are just fine with the lull.

“It’s tough to imagine a bigger waste of taxpayer money than using limited prosecutorial resources to target porn depicting legal acts between consenting adults,” wrote Think Progress.

Larry Walters, a First Amendment lawyer who has represented the adult industry, told HuffPost that enforcing obscenity laws didn't seem to be a priority for the Obama administration. "I suspect that is based largely on public sentiment,” he said. “We’ve become much more tolerant of exotic material as a society in the United States, as has much of the world with the ready access of erotic material and explicit material on the Internet.” ...

International Media Update: Philpott fire deaths trial shines light on polyamory

on Friday, 05 April 2013. Hits 648

BBC

Mick and Mairead Philpott shared their home with Mick's girlfriend and 11 children in a relationship which can be described as polyamorous.

Why do people live with more than one sexual partner, and are there problems that can arise with these relationships?

Mairead Philpott said she was initially hurt by her husband's relationship with Lisa Willis, but went along with it because she was scared of losing her family and home.

While there is little research on polyamory, research on polygamy - where people marry multiple partners - suggests that some women can feel pressured into consenting.

Dr Thom Brooks, who has researched polygamy and polyamory, said a lack of consent by women was one of the most significant problems.

"The two are practised very similarly and [are] almost always a relationship of one man with two or three women, with the man at its centre," said Dr Brooks, of Durham University.

But marriage and family therapist Dossie Easton, who has been in polyamorous relationships, said they were different in nature to polygamous marriages.

"Polyamory does not follow the rather strict forms of marriage and gender in relationships that are found in many polygamous cultures, [such] as in Islam and Mormon[ism]," she said.

It is difficult to estimate how many people in the UK are polyamorous, as some keep their relationships a secret.

But Ms Easton believes more people are experimenting as polyamory becomes less frowned upon, in the same way that same-sex relationships are now widely accepted.

"Polyamory has come out of the closet, and thus more people feel free to try what had been very forbidden," she said.

"Nowadays you don't have to be a hippy or a rebel to explore an expanded sex life." ...

"CAREERS AND ED: Bend over, boardroom"

on Wednesday, 03 April 2013. Hits 734

Beatrice Stonebanks wants to teach you how to be a corporate dominatrix

San Francisco Bay Guardian Online

All too often in the workplace, women fight to hide their sexuality. In Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In, the controversial feminist-treatise-of-the-moment on combating sexism in the corporate world, Sandberg references a tech worker who goes so far as to remove her earrings before coming to work, so fervently does the employee wish to minimize her gender lest it distract her male cohorts.

Beatrice Stonebanks takes a different tack. A sales consultant for 25 years now, and a member of the San Francisco BDSM scene for 16, she strode into a partners' meeting at her job in 2010 and wrote two words on the dry erase board for all to see. They were: corporate dominatrix.

"In BDSM you have to know how to negotiate, otherwise you're going to get hurt." Ensconced under the fluorescent lights of my office, Stonebanks is entirely at home among the cubicles and boardrooms in her black skirt and floral blazer. She makes her living applying the take-charge skills she learned playing in dungeons with her husband to office culture.

Did her white board assertion consternate her coworkers? Tear rifts in officeland reality? Stonebanks says, to the contrary, it was a natural connection on her part that has led to increased office performance.

"The more domineering I became, the better the results," she says, smiling. "If I could produce the numbers, they didn't care about my tactics."

One year ago, she began teaching classes on those tactics to the kink community. Stonebanks is the editor of the BDSM education group Society of Janus' newsletter, a publication playfully dubbed Growing Pains. At home, she is a 24/7 loving dominant to her submissive husband, a role reflected in the take-charge manner in she fields my interview questions and guides our dialogue about her methodology.

There are obvious differences between the two worlds she straddles. For example — and I can testify to this firsthand because she was kind enough to bring both for our in-house Guardian photoshoot — the skirt she wears to teach her "Corporate Dominatrix Training 101: How to Use Sex and Power to Increase Sales" class is several inches shorter than the one she sports to, you know, use sex and power to increase sales.

But the long and short of the matter is that both successful BDSM and boardroom activities hinge on clear assertion of self and healthy communication. Both employ, or should employ, negotiation, safe words, execution, and after-care. "It scales," Stonebanks affirms. ...

"What's Crazy? Sexual Fetishes Spur Psychiatric Manual Controversy"

on Wednesday, 03 April 2013. Hits 357

LiveScience.com

Should a sexual fixation on shoes or a predilection for pain land you in the psychiatrist's bible of diagnoses? Plenty of kinksters say no, but psychiatrists say yes — for now.

The newest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known as the DSM-5, is due out in May. The book sets the standard criteria for psychiatric diagnoses (not to mention health insurance reimbursement), making its pronouncements crucial to mental health treatment.

The exact wording of the new DSM is being kept under strict wraps until its publication. But proposed changes discussed online by the American Psychiatric Association researchers who worked on the new edition suggest that foot fetishists and bondage aficionados who hoped to get out of the book altogether won't see that wish come true.

Instead, unusual sexual fixations, or "paraphilias," will likely get their own category as odd, but not necessarily signs of mental illness. If, however, a person is distressed by a fetish — or if that fetish harms others — he or she will likely be eligible for a diagnosis of a "paraphilic disorder." [Hot Stuff? 10 Unusual Sexual Fixations]

"This was a way of saying it's OK to have a benign paraphilia," said Ray Blanchard, a psychiatrist at the University of Toronto and chair of the working group on sexual and gender identity disorders for the DSM-5. "That does not automatically give you a mental disorder."

Other psychiatrists argue that even leaving benign paraphilias in the DSM goes too far. Sexual fixations that cause harm and distress can be dealt with under other diagnoses, they say, ones that don't stigmatize people who enjoy non-mainstream but harmless sexual activities.

"I've heard people at meetings talk about 'those paraphiliacs,' 'those people,'" said Alan Shindel, an urologist and specialist in sexual problems at the University of California, Davis Health System. "I think that's always a dangerous road to go down when you're talking about othering people in that way."

Some psychiatrists and paraphilics even draw parallels between their position and that of gays and lesbians, who were considered mentally ill until homosexuality was removed from the DSM in 1974. [The History of Sex in the DSM]

What's a paraphilia?

Psychiatrists define paraphilias as unusual objects of sexual arousal, ranging from the mundane and typically harmless (foot fetishism) to the universally reviled (pedophilia, or attraction to children). The current DSM, the DSM-IV-TR, doesn't consider paraphilias problematic unless they cause distress to the self or harm to others.

The proposals and discussions posted online by the American Psychiatric Association suggest the new DSM will take that DSM-IV-TR qualification further, separating the notion of paraphilias from paraphilic disorders. Turned on by obscene phone calls or spanking? You've got a paraphilia. But unless your paraphilia is causing you some sort of dysfunction or distress, it's not a mental disorder, according to DSM-5. If the paraphilia does cause distress or harm, it becomes a paraphilic disorder.

The DSM-5 may also, for the first time, clearly define "paraphilia" (previous incarnations have simply listed odd sexual targets). Blanchard and his group proposed a definition describing paraphilia as "any intense and persistent sexual interest other than sexual interest in genital stimulation or preparatory fondling with phenotypically normal, consenting human partners between the ages of physical maturity and physical decline."

It's a definition that casts a wide net. In one study, published in 2011 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, a whopping 62.4 percent of 40- to 79-year-olds in a German sample reported at least one sexual interest that would qualify as a paraphilia. About 60 percent of the time, men reported simply fantasizing about this unusual interest, but 44 percent had incorporated it into their actual sexual behavior.

In that study, researchers found the most common paraphilia was voyeurism (spying on an unknowing person), followed by fetishism (sexual fixation on a nonliving object). [The Sex Quiz: Myths, Taboos & Bizarre Facts] ...

"A modest proposal for polygamy"

on Monday, 01 April 2013. Hits 352

USA Today

Those arguing for "marriage equality" at the U.S. Supreme Court this week should be ashamed of themselves.

They're just as guilty of discrimination as those dastardly conservatives still bitterly clinging to their guns and their religion. Why no argument for polygamy, polyamory and other forms of diversity? Why are they only defending their exclusive definition of diversity?

How dare those seeking to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act signed by President Clinton, or Proposition 8 ratified by the people of California, stop at just redefining marriage to include two consenting adults of the same gender. Why do these people believe they have the authority to draw a moralistic line against any consenting adults, and thus force their moral standard upon the rest of us?

Besides, society's views on these other progressive forms of relationship diversity are shifting, and shouldn't we always base our concept of right and wrong off what we see on TV, just like our gender-neutral maternal units taught us. Who better to consult on moral matters than the huddled masses that paid money to see all those Saw and Hostel movies? For example, there is a popular reality show on basic cable called Sister Wives about the lost art of polygamy. Showtime is airing a trailblazing show on the multiple wedded bliss of polyamory....

Guest Blog: The problem with polynormativity

on Thursday, 14 March 2013. Hits 1028

by Andrea Zanin

Polyamory is getting a lot of airtime in the media these days. It’s quite remarkable, really, and it represents a major shift over the last five to ten years.
The problem—and it’s hardly surprising—is that the form of poly that’s getting by far the most airtime is the one that’s as similar to traditional monogamy as possible, because that’s the least threatening to the dominant social order.
Ten years ago, I think my position was a lot more live-and-let-live. You know, different strokes for different folks. I do poly my way, you do it your way, and we’re all doing something non-monogamous so we can consider ourselves to have something in common that’s different from the norm. We share a certain kind of oppression, in that the world doesn’t appreciate or value non-monogamy. We share relationship concerns, like logistics challenges and time management and jealousy. So we’re all in this together, right?
Today, though, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have much stronger Feelings about this. I mean Feelings of serious squick, not just of YKINMKBYKIOK*. Feelings of genuine offense, not of comradeship. Fundamentally, I think we’re doing radically different things. The poly movement—if it can even be called that, which is debatable for a number of reasons—is beginning to fracture along precisely the same lines as the gay/lesbian/queer one has. (You could argue it has been fractured along this fault line forever, but it hasn’t always seemed quite as crystal-clear to me as it does right now.)
(*Stands for “your kink is not my kink but your kink is okay,” a common phrase used among perverts to basically say we don’t all have to like doing a thing in order for that thing to be acceptable.)
At its most basic, I’d say some people’s poly looks good to the mainstream, and some people’s doesn’t. The mainstream loves to think of itself as edgy, sexy and cool. The mainstream likes to co-opt whatever fresh trendy thing it can in order to convince itself that it’s doing something new and exciting, because that sells magazines, event tickets, whatever. The mainstream likes to do all this while erecting as many barriers as it can against real, fundamental value shifts that might topple the structure of How the World Works. In this case, that structure is the primacy of the couple.
The media presents a clear set of poly norms, and overwhelmingly showcases people who speak about and practice polyamory within those norms. I’ll refer to this as polynormativity. (I don’t think I’m quite coining a term here, but not far off, as most of the paltry seven hundred-ish Google hits I can find for the term are about obscure legalese I don’t understand. I kinda wish it was already a thing, frankly. So, uh, my gift to you.)
Here are the four norms that make up polynormativity as I see it.
1. Polyamory starts with a couple. The first time I came across the term “poly couple” I laughed out loud. It seemed to me the most evident of oxymorons—jumbo shrimp, friendly fire, firm estimate, poly couple. But lo and behold, it’s really taken root, and nobody seems to be blinking. Polyamory is presented as a thing that a couple does, as opposed to a relationship philosophy and approach that individual people ascribe to, as a result of which they may end up as part of a couple but—because poly!—may just as well be partnered with six people, or part of a triad, or single, or what have you. With this norm, the whole premise of multiple relationships is narrowed down to what sounds, essentially, like a hobby that a traditionally committed pair of people decide to do together, like taking up ballroom dancing or learning to ski. So much for a radical re-thinking of human relationships. So much for anyone who doesn’t come pre-paired.

2. Polyamory is hierarchical. Following from the norm that poly begins (and presumably ends) with two, we must of course impose a hierarchy on whatever else happens. Else, how would we know who the actual real couple is in all this? If you add more people, it might get blurry and confusing! Thus, the idea of primary relationships and secondary relationships emerges. This is what I call hierarchical poly. ...

http://sexgeek.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/theproblemwithpolynormativity/

"Case Raises Questions on Consent to Sadomasochism"

on Sunday, 10 March 2013. Hits 761

ABC News

Can mentally ill people consent to sadomasochistic sex? Can anyone consent to abusive and degrading sexual acts?

Connecticut's highest court has decided to take up those questions in the case of a Greenwich woman suing a man she alleges had an abusive sexual relationship with her daughter, who had multiple mental and physical ailments. Arguments before the state Supreme Court are scheduled for Wednesday.

While sadomasochism was glamorized in the popular 2011 book trilogy "Fifty Shades of Grey," the practice has long been on questionable legal ground.

Some lawyers believe people can't consent to being assaulted or abused under common law, while others say established legal principles provide sexual rights to most people, including elderly people in nursing homes and the mentally ill. There are few court rulings, however, dealing directly with BDSM, short for bondage, discipline, dominance/submission and sadomasochism.

In the Connecticut case, Mary Kortner sued fellow Greenwich resident Craig Martise in 2006, saying her daughter could not have consented to sadomasochistic and abusive sex acts with him because of her mental state. A state jury, however, found in favor of Martise in 2009, concluding there was a sadomasochistic relationship but no proof that Kortner's daughter couldn't consent.

"This was a shocker to everybody who was watching it," Kortner said. "All the allegations were true. He was guilty."

Caroline Kendall Kortner, who died in 2010 at age 39 from an undisclosed illness, had been diagnosed with clinical depression, borderline personality disorder, bulimia and anorexia, and she tried to commit suicide twice, according to court documents. She also had a stroke in 2001 that left her partially paralyzed from the waist down and incontinent, court records say. ...

"EU to vote on porn ban, calls for Internet enforcement"

on Saturday, 09 March 2013. Hits 584

In a severe threat to online freedoms in the region, the European Parliament is set to vote in the next week on "a ban on all forms of pornography in the media."

CNet

The European Parliament will vote Tuesday on a proposal that could lead to a blanket ban on pornography in any forms of media with potentially wide-ranging implications for freedom and expression in the 27-member state bloc.

Passage of the proposal, "Eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU," would allow the EU to help secure the rights for those across the gender spectrum, particularly women. While the report states that there is an "increasingly noticeable tendency...to show provocatively dressed women, in sexual poses," it also notes that pornography is becoming mainstream and is "slipping into our everyday lives as an evermore universally accepted, often idealized, cultural element."

But if adopted, the proposal could infringe certain civil liberties in the 500 million strong population.

Christian Engström, member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the Pirate Party, said on his blog that the "devil is in the detail," warning that the wording in an older resolution from 1997 could lead to "statutory measures to prevent any form of pornography in the media." ...

Latest Reader Comments

  • This seems to me like it was a BSDM arrangement, which explains why she kept going to work and then went back to the apt. That said, even...

    luisa

    22. February, 2011 |

  • This is a right sentence. How could you fail to share your condition in this situation. You left all these people without any choice.

    John

    23. January, 2011 |

  • Taking pictures with one of her own graduate students wasn't the most bright move.

    Inferno

    22. September, 2010 |

  • We chose polyamory because love could not be denied.

    twowives

    27. August, 2010 |

  • [...] (That link is not remotely work-safe.) I’ve never been, but I surely will someday! And the National Coalition for Sexual...
  • We loved the ethical slut! Great Book!

    Fellow Swingers

    06. July, 2010 |