Friday, May 30, 2008

Myth Me?

People continue to spread myths about sex workers ~ and I continue to debunk the bunk.

Missed me, missed me? Now you gotta kiss me.

And if you don't agree with my debunking of sex worker myths, then I think you know where you can kiss me.

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High-Five Fridays #18

High-Five Fridays is on an official hiatus; but you can still participate.

#1 The 47th edition of Carnival Against Sexual Violence: read, support, submit & host.

#2 A general high-five to Lina (aka Caroline) at Uncool for doing & being the cool.

#3 Shan-ul-Hai examines the claims that conservatives are happier than liberals:
...would you be happier if you became more conservative?

Based on the data, I don’t think so. It seems like the causality follows an indirect trend; certain variables lead to both conservatism and happiness, and neither the political viewpoint nor the happiness can predict one another. Optimism and pride seem to cause life satisfaction and conservatism; higher education and pessimism, meanwhile, seem to cause dissatisfaction and liberalism.

Personally, I think it’s better to have more people who are unsatisfied with the status quo… this will lead to change and, eventually, improvement.
#4 Between Us Girls discusses The Trouble With Sex in America ~ and while I & others remain guarded about Gardasil, the rest is lovely:
Sex is alive and well in America. You never have far to look far to find it. Our society is saturated with it. Movies, magazines, billboards, t.v. shows, advertising, even Disney pop stars reek of it. And yet, in spite of the proliferation of sexual imagery and activity, America still attempts to maintain antiquated, puritanical sexual ideals.

Unfortunately, as so often happens, our behavior doesn't quite manage to live up to the ideals we espouse. And so, while our children's innocence is stolen from them earlier and earlier, our teens make promises that they can never be expected to keep while being fed a steady diet of sexual imagery and innuendo and our adults gorge themselves on every variation of the act they can imagine, we all busy ourselves trying to maintain the facade of purity.

We talk the talk, but don't walk the walk. We send mixed messages to our young people, perpetuate the idea of sex as some sort of guilty pleasure and let our own confused and twisted ideas about sex influence important government policies that end up being misguided, unethical and downright harmful.

#5 In Born or Learned? Sexuality, Science, and Party Lines, Greta Christina ponders the politics behind and fear of researching queer:
Unless you're going to go with the hard-core deconstructionist argument that there is no reality and all of our perceptions and experiences are 100% socially constructed, then you have to accept that the question, "Is sexual orientation genetically determined, learned, or a combination of both -- and if a combination, how much of each, and how do they work together?"... well, it's a question with an answer. It's not a matter of opinion. And it's exactly the kind of question that science is designed to answer: a question of cause and effect in the physical world.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Reveal The Goddess In Me? Sure, But Let Me Reveal The Bull-Shit In You

I was watching TV, being a lazy lump. And then, something (he claims) innocuous happens, and I get all foamy-at-the-mouth (my phrasing, not his). I am more than awake, I am incensed.

First a commercial for the Venus, the pink razor for women, followed by an ad for one of the smoking cessation patches... Like a rolled-up newspaper hitting me upside my head, the insanity strikes me.

Why the hell are they peddling pink girly-girl razors at me, as if the curves of my legs and pits are somehow more confusing, complicated and, perhaps even more disgusting just for being female, than those contours of a man's face? I've seen plenty of men walking 'round with white tp dotted faces, red circles of blood holding them fast, to know that whipping a razor around ~ any razor, no matter the color ~ can cut skin. It's not made for women so much as marketed to them... Because we're silly girls who love to shop for pretty pink things.

:snort:

But then there's the smoking cessation commercial right afterwards. A patch, to be precise. A product that boasts of its 80% fail rate ~ and fails to disclose that the fail rate is even higher for women. But then, the patch doesn't come in pretty pink, or have unicorns on it, or anything which would indicate it's supposed to appeal to me. So maybe I'm not supposed to really pay attention to this ad.

Corporate America and the society which supports it has decided it is more important for me to have smooth "sexy" legs than it is for me to stop smoking.

Arg!

My head spins and I see red and at some point I'm aware that I'm ranting at the speed of light. So I slow down and say, "Why on earth do they push pink razors when they should be focused on products which really serve the needs of women, like smoking cessation? Oh yeah, 'cuz the 'right to control our bodies' has more to do with our come-hither appearance than our health."

His response to all of this?

Nothing.

When prompted (commanded) to comment, all he can say is that there's money ~ more money ~ to be made in pink girly razors because making plastic pink is a nominal investment in change as opposed to medical research. It's just marketing, not really a new product, so there's more profit to be made. Implication: I must be thick-headed not to see that.

I see it; I get it.

I love him; but he just doesn't get it.

Even going from white goo to pink goo (and pink goo that moisturizes so that "ladies" won't need "masculine" shave creme in cans) requires Gillette aka PG, monstrous corporation that it is, lots of dollars in R&D. (And don't forget the focus groups!) Why is it more important to create a need for such silly products when they (literally meaning P&G, by the way) could create something valuable for women?

Oh, right, I already said why.

The 'right to control our bodies' has more to do with the come-hither appearance of our bodies than with the health of our bodies.

As if this weren't sickening enough, check out P&G's new B&S:
“Now we’ve given women the permission to reveal her own goddess,” said Gro Frivoll, who has worked on the Venus account at BBDO for eight years. “Every woman can be the goddess of something, because this allows you to be your most feminine self.”
Oh yes, please let me be the goddess of cancer!

Oh, and just in case you think I'm being to rough on poor little P&G...
When Gillette pitches razors to men, it tends to emphasize technological innovations. But on the women’s side, “we focus more on the emotional end benefits,” Ms. Frivoll said. “Men want to know, What am I paying more for? If a man were paying $25 for lipstick, it would have to have more than the Chanel name on it.”
Ironically, the razors apparently have "35 patents pending or granted that cover the product’s technologies, designs and manufacturing processes" (heaven help us!), yet, by their own admission, the company's pushing the pink & fuzzy.

As if that amount of dedication & funding to hair removal weren't obscene enough, how about the ad campaign price tag, kids?
starting the biggest campaign on the women’s side of its business since the original three-blade Venus was introduced in 2001.

Procter would not disclose the amount it is spending on the campaign.

Yeah, they're just turning white goo pink... that's cheap enough.

But can they withstand my stomach turning too?

I just have one question for you, Procter & Gamble: How do you like the goddess in me now?

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cult of Gracie Radio With Amanda Brooks

Today Amanda Brooks, a retired escort (and former stripper) and author of The Internet Escort's Handbook series, will be on Cult of Gracie radio at 9 pm (central).

Amanda is also an activist, serving as a board member of SWOP-East and, as a board member of Desiree Alliance, she writes at the popular Bound, Not Gagged blog.

I'm very excited to have Amanda on the show. Not only is her book is brilliant, but I've found her to be amazing, passionate and dedicated ~ she even started Pledging Action, SWOP-East's response to the anti-prostitution pledge that international organizations were required to abide by in order to receive USAID funding. (Pledging Action gives condoms to international organizations that support sex workers.)

Amanda can even hold her own against Bill O'Reilly on his home turf of the The O'Reilly Factor (Monday, May 26, 2008).

Amanda's been on TV three times, each time on FOX... Where the conservative sexploitation never stops, like this gem: When most schoolgirls were playing with their Barbie dolls, Amanda Brooks was dreaming of growing up to be a prostitute.

Here's a clip:



Please join us tonight. Listen to the show live here ~ call in questions welcome!

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The SIXX:A.M. Interview Post-Show Notes

With the holiday, I lost some time; here's the post-show notes from the Cult of Gracie show with DJ Ashba and James Michael, of SIXX:A.M..

Highlights of this show include DJ's late arrival ~ not due to, as James said, the chronic tardiness of guitarists, but DJ's Internet stalking of yours truly (visits to Peek-A-Boob and Sex-Kitten ~ who can blame him then for being late?), and the continual mockery of the musicians for being underage for the show (complete with a crazy phone call from Captain Planet aka Jill B. of SWOP-East).

OK, so those weren't the highlights of the show, but it does cover the campy-train-wreck theme achieved from a chick who just likes what she likes when it comes to music ~ and this chick loves SIXX:A.M. ~ and has no intentions of doing a standard interview. Ever.

Honestly, the guys were more than patient with this non-music-critic's take on an interview; they were fun.

Discussed were the peculiar nature of a band without a band; a soundtrack without a film; the collaborative efforts of three songwriters on one unique project, never intentioned for commercial success, finding not only great popularity on the charts but a unique sound as well; and the layers of interpretation & hope offered in The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack.

And the band's unlikely appearance on sex worker radio.

Their moms and press reps must be so proud...

Here are the sites mentioned in the interview:

DJ's website is AshbaLand.com, James' website is JamesMichael.net, and Nikki Sixx's is NikkiSixx.net. (All websites, including SIXX:A.M.'s, are supposedly going to be updated in July too, so bookmark and visit again.)

Both gave props to their label, Eleven Seven Music, for giving The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack time to succeed.

SIXX:A.M. is part of Crüe Fest; tickets & tour dates can be found on Mötley Crüe's site.

If you missed the show, you can download/listen here.

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Put Away The Prostitutes

Earlier this year I adapted the classic poem First they came... to fit today's political apathy. So I was delighted to discover that punk rock band NoFX paraphrased that same poem in their song Re-gaining Unconsciousness on the album The War on Errorism (2003).
First they put away the dealers,
keep our kids safe and off the street.
Then they put away the prostitutes,
keep married men cloistered at home.
Then they shooed away the bums,
then they beat and bashed the queers,
turned away asylum-seekers,
fed us suspicions and fears.
We didn´t raise our voice,
we didn´t make a fuss.
It´s funny there was no one left to notice
when they came for us.




The lines, "Then they put away the prostitutes, keep married men cloistered at home," is so indicative of the puritanical prohibitionist plan; as if prostitutes are to blame for male desire.

Shouldn't a married man's own vows, to his partner if not his priest and/or government, mean enough for him to abstain?

No.

Men are too weak to be able to resist; just knowing women are available is like the mythological siren's call, luring him from the safety of the ship to the waters and rocks below. He can't help himself, he's only a man.

So put away the prostitutes, they are dangerous.

...But if women are so damned dangerous (and I do believe it is all women, not just sex workers), then what laws and courts can limit them, what jails can hold them?

Or, indeed, keep the weak men away.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

High-Five Fridays #17

#1 Speaking With Authority: "One of the things I’ve noticed in my time as a sex educator is that people often talk about their sexual experiences, desires and preferences as if they don’t really deserve them."

#2 Virgin Sacrifice: Father/Daughter Dance: "What’s really safer: upholding your daughter to an unrealistic moral standard so you can avoid the awkward sex talk or teaching her how to take care of herself and her needs in a way where she can respect her sexuality?" (Via Silent Porn Star.)

#3 Guns: Bang Bang, Who's Dead?: "If I succumb so easily to a cheesecake, how does a person react to a gun?"

#4 Haunt Hunt, But No Goth Cunt: "But I am no latitudinarian when it comes to the current use of the word "Gothic" and have even less use for those who call themselves "Goth"; for the most part they've taken all the quest, questioning, and longing out of it." (Shameless plug: I interviewed Nikki here.)

#5 How to Be a Super Secretary: "Judging by the advice, a secretary was expected to be part-wife, part-maid, part mistress. The perfect woman their wives could never be; Hiding their feelings, looking perfect, acting pleasant, remembering her place, and always putting her boss before herself. Outside of going to Japan and getting a Geisha, a secretary was the next best thing." (Via Kitschy Kitschy Coo.)

PS High-Five Fridays is on an official hiatus; but you can still participate.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Domestic Violence & Child Custody In The Courts

Today on XXBN, Barry Goldstein discusses the crisis in the custody court system that has resulted in thousands of children being sent to live with abusers.

I love how his website credits him:
attorney, teacher, author and advocate for women abused by their partner (and too often the courts)
I love it, not because the situation is good or funny, but because he dares to say it: The courts are abusive.

It's not like it should be surprising; it's a male dominated place. And I don't care how non-pc it is ~ men's groups be damned ~ domestic violence is a woman's issue. One that's long been ignored.

Domestic violence is like rape: It's directed at far more women than men, is about controlling women via violence, and, because no one wants to face those facts & deal with them, the courts are not only still stuck in stereotypical dark ages but perpetuating the problem.

But you don't need to just take my word for it. Read this information from Battered Women, Abused Children, and Child Custody: A National Crisis:
'I am concerned about his mental stability.' Judge to attorneys just before signing an order removing custody from a protective mother to an alleged sexual abuser. The same order stated that the mother was 'fit'.
So a mentally unstable father with a history of abuse is deemed more appropriate than a fit mother?
'She [the primary caretaker mother] sees herself as primarily a 'mom', and that is too much of a burden for the children to bear.' Open court statement by a NC Family Court judge in a hearing where full custody of the children was taken from a protective mother and given to an alleged abuser.
Ah, it would be easier for the children to bear an abusive father as primary care giver. :snort:
Familiar patterns of abuse simply shift ground to the legal arena where current child custody laws and prodecures present opportunities for new tactics of domination and control. [The National Council of Juvenile & Family Court Judges, Synergy - The Newsletter of the Resource Center on Domestic Violence: Child Protection and Custody, Vol. 4, No. 2, Winter 1999-2000, J. M. Bowermaster, Relocation Restrictions: An Opportunity for Custody Abuse, p.4]
And the courts reward their efforts with improper placements, thus making the courts at best a tool, and at worst perpetrators of abuse themselves.
Despite the powerful stereotypes working against fathers, they are significantly more successful than is commonly believed. The Massachusetts [gender bias] task force, for example, reported that fathers receive primary or joint custody in more than 70% of contested cases. Lynn Hecht Schafran, Gender Bias in Family Courts, American Bar Association Family Advocate, Vol 17, No. 1, p.26
I've seen this with one of my dear friends, DeeDee, who was abused and then suffered more horrific abuse in court ~ at the hands of those who should know better. It boggles my mind as much as it burns.

And it makes me very passionate about the issue of family court and domestic violence. It's a screwed up place where, as DeeDee and I say, "The only reason justice is blind, is due to a head injury from her domestic partner."

And no body seems to give a crap.

And if you disagree, call in and raise the issue with Barry Goldstein.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sixx:A.M. At Nine P.M.

There's been a change in the line-up. Tonight at 9 p.m. (central) Cult of Gracie on XXBN will have as guests DJ Ashba and James Michael from the band SIXX:A.M.

One of the break out bands from 2007, they, along with Nikki Sixx (co-founder of the legendary rock band, Mötley Crüe), created The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack the soundtrack to the Nikki Sixx's The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star, a collection of his journal entries from 1986 and 1987, chronicling his drug addiction, descent into paranoia and depression, and his subsequent recovery.

The number one single from the soundtrack was Life is Beautiful.



SIXX:A.M.' latest release is Pray for Me; this is the uncensored version:



The band will perform at this summer's Crue Fest with Motley Crue, Buckcherry, Trapt and Papa Roach ~ and tonight, you can listen live and call in.

UPDATE: Post-show notes here.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

High-Five Fridays #16

#1 Sacred Paths - How Do Spirituality and Sexuality Relate, by Vern Barnet:
The more I learn about other cultures and faiths, the more impressed I am with the plasticity of human nature and particularly sexuality. Sex is biological, but sexuality is cultural. Similarly I suspect that the sense of the sacred is a biological capacity but that a particular spirituality arises from within a specific cultural context and personal circumstance.
#2 For the conspiracy lover in all of us (as well as Monroe sleuths): Dorothy Kilgallen, Taking It On The Chin:
If a woman's intelligence, however threatening, is supposed to matter more than earthy beauty, why is Kilgallen the less known? Her valor and strength are not reported and commented upon, even upon the anniversaries of her death. She is not revered -- in fact, she's nearly lost to history already.
#3 Not Your Angel on Giving Out Candy:
My short Daisy Dukes weren't a fashion statement -- or a sign of promiscuity either. They were shorts that were too short but there was no money for better fitting shorts. But I saw the looks. And while I didn't, at first, understand it; I knew there was a wistfulness, a question, a begging in their eyes...

And that's when I began to feel the power shift. Shift to me.
#4 Libby reviews Tristan Taormino's Anal Sex 201:
Now how many of us will ever have the honor of having any sex toy, let alone a butt plug, named after us?
#5 Nikki Nines discusses the Myths Of The Nines from a non-tech POV, regarding people:
The measurements of availability can be misleading.
Find out how to give your High-Five Fridays here!

The purpose of this meme is to give high-fives to 5 people, posts, blogs and/or websites you've admired during the week. I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 5 high-fives on Friday. Trackbacks, pings, linky widgets, comment links accepted!

Visiting fellow High-Fivers is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your High-Fives in others comments (please note if NWS).

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

What You Did On My Summer Vacation

What I did on my vacation isn't likely going to interest you as much as what others did on my vacation, so here's the skinny. (Does anyone use "skinny" anymore? I'm so not hip.)

Don't worry, teach, this report is all about me. *wink*

The board at SWOP East has put me in charge of public relations (for the hip kids, the title "media coordinator" may make more sense to you). Which means you'll be seeing/reading more of me, including at SWOP East's blog and it explains (partly) Cult of Gracie Radio's move to XXBN.

I'm super excited to join SWOP East. So much so that the honor of being asked to join such a great organization (and such tremendous women, yet) out-shone what should have been a common sense reaction of, "What? More work?" and had me happy to join forces with them. The work & women make me feel like I can successfully squeeze more juice from each of days.

Also while I was gone, Radical Vixen posted her interview with yours truly. It had occurred so long ago, it was almost like reading an interview with someone else ~ but someone I agree with. *wink* I'd like to publicly thank Vixen for her Sex Worker Solidarity series too; it's an admirable, much needed, project and I am thrilled to have a part in the discussion.

I also discovered that Jaded Hippy had selected my post, Abolition and the Saving of Sex Workers, for inclusion in Third Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy. Very cool to be noticed for the carnival, and to be in such marvelous company, thanks!

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Monkeying Around On The Radio

Cult of Gracie Radio moves to XXBN with tonight's show, featuring Dr. Susan Block, sex educator, cable TV host and author, discusses what we can learn from bonobos, the chimps who have a matriarchal culture and are recognized to have sex play a prominent role in their society. Bonobos also display compassion, empathy, kindness, patience, sensitivity, and altruism. We humans could should learn a lot from these apes so closely related to us.
About Suzy: A familiar face on HBO's late-night programming through her #1 Nielsen-rated specials, Radio Sex TV with Dr. Susan Block as well as her episodes on Real Sex, she's not only an educated sexologist, but a hot chick with a grand sense of humor to boot.
Listen to the show live here ~ and don't forget to call in!

UPDATE: Sorry, show was canceled ~ will let you know when it's been rescheduled!

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Real Crime Of Obscenity

Anastasia Mavromatis, in Return to 1959 & 'Obscenity in the UK', or How to Create a Blackmarket, writes:
One thing is certain. Governments are great at creating blackmarkets, and what happens when such a market is created? Hello organized crime. Because that is what happens when everything is banned based on little debate, and one doesn't have to be a law scholar to know this, or an idiot politician. The Prohibition Act of the Twenties in the US is adequate proof.

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