Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Today's Delicious Links

Today's Delicious Links

Links for 2008-10-13 [del.icio.us]

Posted: 14 Oct 2008 12:00 AM CDT

  • Silent-Porn-Star
    Not knowing the context, the postcard becomes cryptic & convoluted. The humor is hinted at, but like a child hearing a double entendre, I just don't have enough knowledge to share the laugh.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hillary Clinton, Class All The Way

Hillary, I love you.

From her convention speech:
I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?

We need leaders once again who can tap into that special blend of American confidence and optimism that has enabled generations before us to meet our toughest challenges. Leaders who can help us show ourselves and the world that with our ingenuity, creativity, and innovative spirit, there are no limits to what is possible in America.

This won't be easy. Progress never is. But it will be impossible if we don't fight to put a Democrat in the White House.

We need to elect Barack Obama
As if I wasn't already emotional... & eating comfort food. The following had me weeping ~ my heart (and tummy) so heavy, so full...
I'm a United States Senator because in 1848 a group of courageous women and a few brave men gathered in Seneca Falls, New York, many traveling for days and nights, to participate in the first convention on women's rights in our history.

And so dawned a struggle for the right to vote that would last 72 years, handed down by mother to daughter to granddaughter - and a few sons and grandsons along the way.

These women and men looked into their daughters' eyes, imagined a fairer and freer world, and found the strength to fight. To rally and picket. To endure ridicule and harassment. To brave violence and jail.

And after so many decades - 88 years ago on this very day - the 19th amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote would be forever enshrined in our Constitution.

My mother was born before women could vote. But in this election my daughter got to vote for her mother for President.

This is the story of America. Of women and men who defy the odds and never give up.

How do we give this country back to them?

By following the example of a brave New Yorker , a woman who risked her life to shepherd slaves along the Underground Railroad.

And on that path to freedom, Harriett Tubman had one piece of advice.

If you hear the dogs, keep going.

If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.

If they're shouting after you, keep going.

Don't ever stop. Keep going.

If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.

Even in the darkest of moments, ordinary Americans have found the faith to keep going.

I've seen it in you. I've seen it in our teachers and firefighters, nurses and police officers, small business owners and union workers, the men and women of our military - you always keep going.

We are Americans. We're not big on quitting.

But remember, before we can keep going, we have to get going by electing Barack Obama president.
Just to be clear, I will be voting for Obama.

But I still wish she was the Democrat candidate. And I still don't understand why she's not on the ticket.

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Delicious Links (Catching Up)

Today's Delicious Links

Links for 2008-08-21 [del.icio.us]

Posted: 22 Aug 2008 12:00 AM CDT

Links for 2008-08-22 [del.icio.us]

Posted: 23 Aug 2008 12:00 AM CDT

  • Sex,Life & Frilly Bits: On Abortion & Bloggers That Write About Abortion
    Before you discuss abortion, please make it clear whether you're male or female and if you have experienced an abortion because if your information is based on third party assumptions, I really don't want to waste my time reading hypotheticals – because it insults my intelligence (as a woman who has had an abortion).

Links for 2008-08-25 [del.icio.us]

Posted: 26 Aug 2008 12:00 AM CDT

Links for 2008-08-26 [del.icio.us]

Posted: 27 Aug 2008 12:00 AM CDT

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Nina Hartley Joins The Cult ~ Of Gracie

This week, Wednesday, August 13th at 9 PM (central), on Cult of Gracie Radio I'm interviewing the lovely Nina Hartley.

(If you know little about Hartley, you can get some basic info on her tremendous career here at the XXBN blog.)

I'm a huge fan of Nina Hartley's ~ something she must know by now in the few telephone conversations we've had scheduling the show. I'm impressed with her valiant advocacy as a leader in the sex positivity movement. Her history as a sex positive feminist includes:

* Founding the the Feminist Anti-Censorship Task Force, known as FACT.

* Starting the Pink Ladies Social Club, a club which supports women (performers, writers, makeup artists, directors etc.) who works in the adult industry and works to fight the stereotype of female sex workers as bimbos &/or victims coerced by men into humiliating themselves.

* Being a member of the Board of Directors for the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, an organization that works to advance sexual freedom as a fundamental human right by protecting and advancing freedom of speech and sexual expression), but with her wisdom in faith and religion.

Hartley is also to be acknowledged for her wisdom in other areas, such as faith and religion. Here's a bit from Sheldon Ranz's interview with her in Shmate: A Magazine of Progressive Jewish Thought, Issue #22, Spring 1989, pp. 15 - 29.
SHELDON: How do you feel today about being Jewish?

NINA: I feel very lucky. I believe very strongly in the heritage of Jews as educators. I feel very strongly of the fact that if it wasn't for the Jews, half the world would still be illiterate. Along with the Diaspora -- the spreading of Jews all over the world -- came the spreading of reading and writing all over the world. I'm extremely proud of my people's contribution to world knowledge. Certainly, the basis of Judaism, in questioning and analyzing, has stood well. I would like to know about Jewish religion as history....but as an atheist, I see no reason to practice any religion -- Judaism, Christianity, any religion -- because it is organized superstition and it certainly is the opiate of the masses. There's no doubt about that in my mind. As history, in the history of the world, Jewish history is very important.
You can listen to the show live here. (If you missed the show, the same link will let you listen to the archived show & download the podcast.) As always, live on-air calls will be taken at 1.646.200.3136.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Jennifer Cody Epstein On Women Finding Their Way

I'm interviewing author Jennifer Cody Epstein regarding her book, The Painter from Shanghai, on Cult of Gracie tomorrow. Her fascinating and engaging novel is based on the life of Chinese prostitute- turned- post- Impressionist Pan Yuliang, who stunned China and much of the West in the 20's and 30's by defiantly painting herself in the nude, which went against pretty much every Confucian ethic of the time. We both thought you might like a little bit of info to whet your appetite, so Jennifer kindly agreed to a guest blog:

Growing up, reading obsessively from Woolf and Wolfe, H. James and James J., I’d always imagined patterning my own first book along the same lines. I saw it—quite modestly--as another lyrical, semi-biographical coming-of-age story; something that would draw from my own experiences as a glum, uptight teen in Wellesley, MA (the original home of prep) and somehow morph them into a luminous work of great wisdom and beauty. So how (you might wonder) does one get from that premise to my actual first novel, The Painter from Shanghai, which is based not on myself but on a woman who began life as a prostitute in pre-revolutionary China, broke away from the brothel to become an official’s concubine, and ultimately achieved both acclaim and notoriety for her overtly sensual paintings in a time of conservative backlash?

Well, it certainly wasn’t by design. At least, not at first.

The truth is, at first I actually did start out writing my own story; a not-so-lyrical tale of growing up in a suburb; of (privileged) existential angst; of family drama and expat shenanigans. I stopped for several reasons; the most prominent of which is that I simply didn’t find any of that particularly interesting or original. By contrast, when I first saw a Pan Yuliang painting (a Matisse-esque self-portrait showing her in a window, her face serene and yet somehow subtly challenging) I immediately recognized a woman who was both of those things. I’d also learned by that point that writing about someone else gives you much more freedom; largely because in autobiography, you—the subject—must try to be objective about the things that drive any good story: where the real tension lies. Where the climax should come. At what point you have reached your natural conclusion. Like most people, I suspect, I’m still trying to work that stuff out. But the process is likely far more interesting to my (very excellent) therapist than it would be to potential readers.

It’s true, of course, that taking on a story so (quite literally) foreign to my own was—at least initially—almost as daunting as publicly taking on myself. And yet, after doing some research and tracking down more Pan paintings, what had seemed a startling premise grew into a truly thrilling challenge. To be sure, most Chinese and art historians I spoke to agreed that there was very little factually known about Pan Yuliang’s life. And yet in some ways that was all the more liberating. For one thing, it led me to depend in large part on what had brought me to Pan Yuliang in the first place: her painting. The more I found of it the more they (and she) fascinated me; these gorgeous and defiantly Western compositions (often nude, often herself nude) that had so shocked her countrymen in the last century that Pan herself ended up in permanent exile, in Paris. The images—whether lush pears or lithely curved female bodies—spoke to me of an unrepentant fascination with beauty; with female strength; with sexuality; with the often-fuzzy lines that delineate culture, nationality, morality and artistic voice. If Pan Yuliang’s somber self-portraits (in only one I’ve seen is she actually, openly smiling) gave me a clue to her temperment and harsh past, her vibrant palette and fanciful blendings of post-Impressionism and guohua, of Eastern discipline and Western romance and perspective, gave me insight into her dreams, longings, her unique artistic eye—or at least, so I liked to think. At any rate, in many ways they were the strongest sources I had.

So in the end, I ended up working largely through those images; searching lines and hues and expressions for clues into the life that Pan Yuliang might have lived when she painted them. It was, as I imagined it, a life of beauty, pain and drama; of more than a hint of real darkness. Of a lush love of form and color. Oddly enough, though, as I pieced together this portrait I also--in the process—painted my own, after all. It wasn’t the Woolf -esque meditation on shattered homes and lost loves and painful lessons in the wake of adolescence. But it was a larger story, equally important to me and immeasurably more colorful; a story of an artist, finding her way. Creating her work out of unlikely and—initially—vastly alien materials. In Pan’s case, those materials were nude bodies and Western techniques and the boldly unrepentant tones of the Fauvists. In mine, they were foreign countries (China) and subjects (art; prostitution) and a shaky determination that—at very least—somehow--I would see this thing through to the last word.

And in the end, I suppose, we both succeeded. Despite an Asian art boom that is largely leaving out women, and a life that ended in poverty, illness and obscurity, Pan Yuliang is now experiencing a renaissance in China; the museum in Anhui Province (to which she left all her work when she died) recently has restored many of her paintings, and has dozens of them proudly on display.

As for me—well, Painter may not be a breakout bestseller. And I’m still just a girl who grew up in a rich suburb. But my book is being greeted warmly by the press and readers, which is gratifying. Equally importantly, it’s familiarizing more people in the West with an extraordinary woman and her work. Not least of all, it’s getting me on Cult of Gracie—something I’m fairly certain my own coming-of-age story would probably not have been able to accomplish.


About Jennifer: A Brooklyn-based writer, whose nonfiction and fiction work has appeared in numerous publications, spent ten years writing this, her first book. The work explores such issues as body as art, body as profit, Shanghai in the 20's and 30's, the true nature of sexual love.
Listen live to the show here, Wednesday, July 16, at 9 P.M. (central); and call in with your questions and comments at 1 (646) 200-3136.

UPDATE: Miss the show? Listen to the archived show here. (The same link lets you download it as a podcast too!)

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Monday, June 9, 2008

All About Eves

What do all these photos have in common? They are all the amazing work of Eve Arnold.

Master Photographer Eve Arnold and Marilyn Monroe enjoyed a 10 year friendship, lasting until Monroe's death.
While many dismiss Marilyn’s intelligence, Eve didn’t. Both women knew what effect being a woman had on the world around her, and as Eve says, “We could make use of it, or we could let it be.”

Arnold would later say, “I didn’t want to be a ‘woman photographer’. That would limit me. I wanted to be a photographer who was a woman, with all the world open to my camera.” (And more recently confirms this belief, saying in a BBC interview, “No, I am a photographer. And you don’t say, a man photographer. So it seems likely that I am a photographer.”) This certainly puts the the two women on decidedly different paths, at least in appearance; yet it would stop neither’s success.

Read more about Eve Arnold ~ including more photos.

Via Silent Porn Star.

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Straighten-Up & Fly White

From an interview with Velvet D'Amour (via Slip of a Girl):
The biggest obstacle to the promotion of healthy beauty within the fashion industry is the dependence fashion has on advertising. Since magazines are dependent on the advertisers to exist, this beholds them to adhering to what has become the yawningly boring average--thin, white, tall and young.
I would just end with an "Amen", but as serendipity would have it, I also just read a post at Infomercantile regarding "Beauty in a Bottle", which had the following scans of "No-Kink," a hair straightening product, and "Modelle-Creme," a skin whitener.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

What Are They Going To Do About Jeffs?

Summer re-run, I wrote this June 15, 2005 ~ but as I know you aren't digging through the old Cult of Gracie archives...

Warren Jeffs is getting attention again. I've written about him before, but the more I learn, the more I am interested ~ in a creepy sort of way. The latest press is all up in arms about the so-called 'Lost Boys', teenage boys split off from the group & left to fend for themselves. By ridding the community of teenage boys, Jeffs lowers the competition of men for claiming multiple wives, sort of like a stallion. Unlike that wild life scenario, it seems none of the strong males came sniffing back around to challenge him... Well, as far as we know. We think he's in hiding somewhere, but if a body shows up, there's a group to consider.

Meanwhile, the law figures the only charge they can file is that of Jeffs arranging the marriage of an underage girl. Never mind they had this knowledge in 2002. And in 2004, others noted the irony: "As Arizona Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl go on Sunday talk shows to argue for the rights of women in Iraq, Jeffs ascends the pulpit to tell his followers that a man must have at least three wives to secure a place in heaven, while a woman will get there only if invited by her man, local residents said."

But, they are only women in the USA. So who cares? We need to focus on what other men do to other women. Men in the USA are exempt.


Seems Jeffs hasn't been violent enough. Nor do the problems of his ignored assets etc seem to be enough to warrent any legal action. They are a-scared of Mr Jeffs, they are.

(The idea of acting as if he's a murder victim might be the best approach: "Hey, Jeffs, no harm, no foul, we thought you was dead & we went looking for ya. Now that we see you're a-ok, we'll let you be on your merry way..." Then they can follow him back to his lair & monitor him... or not, I guess.)

But Jeffs' civil liberties aside, what I want to know is, are we going to blame Mormons & religion, or is this another lone gunman?

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Republicans Suffer From Dementia & Can't Understand Satire

First republicans were actually using comedian Steven Colbert's satirical works to push their agendas, and now ABC reports that the Minnesota Republican Party's released a letter, signed by a whopping six GOP women, attacking comedian Al Franken who is running for United States Senate in Minnesota.

Eight years ago, Franken penned a column for Playboy called "Porn-O-Rama!" in which the former Saturday Night Live comedian wrote about visiting a made-up sex institute where he takes part in sexual acts with humans and machines.

"While you may attempt to defend your writing as satire, we hardly find anything defensible about your finding humor in your desire to have sex with women or robots that look like women simply to give yourself a good time," the Minnesota GOP women wrote in the letter. "This column is at its worst, an extreme example of the kind of disrespect for the role of women in society that all of us have fought our entire lives. At best, it is the disrespectful writings of a nearly 50-year-old man who seems to think that women's bodies are the domain of a man who just wants to have a good time."

"Denounce this article and apologize immediately," read the letter.

Sheesh. And they say feminists have no sense of humor...

Perhaps too many republicans suffer from frontotemporal dementia and therefore cannot process sarcasm. (It's funny because it's true.)

Meanwhile, for those suffering from a poor sense of humor, an dementia-induced inability to recognize sarcasm, or a fundamental ignorance of humor ~ including satire ~ and its historical use as social protest, the Franken camp's response (via ABC) should help clarify things a bit:

The Franken campaign said the Playboy column was written as a satire.

"Al had a long career as a satirist," said Jess McIntosh of the Franken campaign. "But he understands the difference between what you say as a satirist and what you do as a senator. And as a senator, Norm Coleman has disrespected the people of Minnesota by putting the Exxons and Halliburtons ahead of working families. And there's nothing funny about that."

You don't have to be an Al Franken fan (though I am) to love the "he understands the difference between what you say as a satirist and what you do as a senator".

Maybe a little remedial reading, via the links here, would help those six GOP ladies... Or lobotomies. Hey, Dr. Katherine P. Rankin, do they do parahippocampal gyrus lobotomies for the sarcasm impaired?

Related: In the New York Times article on sarcasm, Dr. Rankin is quoted as saying, "I bet Jon Stewart has a huge right frontal lobe; that’s where the sense of humor is detected on M.R.I."

And now you know how to spot all the smart funny people (who are happy to see you). Bet there are few bulging lobes in today's republican party.

Then again, they are rarely happy to see me.

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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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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Trouble With Comparative Religion Studies

You get some of the details wrong.

You know the Bible 65%!

Congratulations! You know a lot about the Bible - the books, the characters, the events. You are able to remember a lot of what you have heard and read!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

If God is in the details... I could be screwed.

Divinity may be in some details; but I believe name & date details are less important than lesson, purpose, cultural setting & motivation... But that's just me.

Now it's up to my death and The Big Reveal to show what sort of god, if anything, awaits me.

Quiz via Bunny.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

High-Five Fridays #15

#1 I could just make this week's high-fives all about me and the lovely ladies (that I know of) who helped promote the first Cult of Gracie Radio show, but then I'd be out of fives for the week, and after skipping last week's, I'm behind enough in passing along the positive links... So, I'll cheat a bit here and thank them all in #1 here: Ms. Angela (who also sent me a wonderful card celebrating the event ~ how utterlly charming is she?!), A Slip of a Girl (who also posted a too kind review), Secondhand Rose, Silent Porn Star, and Trailer Trash Angel. (I think that's everyone; if I missed anyone, please let me know!)

#2 I haven't officially met Ren, of Renegade Evolution, yet; but now that I'm officially part of SWOP East I hope to soon. Meanwhile, a high-five to Ren for just being Ren.

#3 Speaking of Ren, at first glance you might think "It's. Not. About. You." is all about Ren. But then you'd be missing the real point.

#4 Of Happy Madmen & Radio gives me pause... On one hand, it's actually amusing to read ~ who doesn't like to mock the idiocracy of yesteryear? On the other hand, have we come a long way in furthering our understanding and treatment of the mentally ill?

#5 Lina's classic post, Why Christianity hates sex (possibly), deserves a high-five ~ even if it's a bit belated.

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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Monday, April 21, 2008

"The Reign of Error"

Classic, vintage misogyny via Silent Porn Star:

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Cult of Gracie Radio

Cult of Gracie Radio launches Wednesday, April 23, and (other than the first week in May, for my much deserved vacation) will air Wednesday evenings at 9 p.m. (central time). All shows are live and you can call in ~ so who knows what will happen?

Here's the show calendar:

April 23 Dr. Jane Vargas, a PhD in human sexuality & expert in tease and fetish, talks cross dressing.
About Jane: After dating a fetishist, she started X-traordinary Talk as a hobby. It grew very quickly and she quit her job as a magazine editor to grow the business which is now nearly 15 years old. She earned her PhD in 2002, with a dissertation on the sexual expression of tease (as distinct from flirtation and seduction) and how tease has manifested in artwork thru the ages. All while raising two strong, feminist daughters.
Update: Dr. Jane Vargas Post-Show Notes here.

April 30 Randall Radic, also known as 'Father Felony' or 'Daddy Radic,' is the Ripon, CA pastor who pleaded guilty to embezzlement after he sold the First Congregational Church without the knowledge of his congregation.
About Randall: His recently released memoir, The Sound Of Meat (published by Ephemera Bound*) covers his earlier life as a professional swim coach and priest, including his eight fiancees & two wives. "I used to try and save souls without ever examining my own," says Radic. Now, with this memoir, he puts pen to his mission, voice to his sin, sadism to his redemption.
Update: Randall Radic Post-Show Notes here.

Update: Note shows after my vacation will run on XBN.

May 14 Dr. Susan Block, sex educator, cable TV host and author, discusses what we can learn from bonobos.
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.

May 21st Call In With Gracie Passette

Ask me anything, or hear me ramble about issues that matter to me. *wink*
About Gracie: If you don't know me, check out my bio & keep reading the blog.
Listen to the show live here.

UPDATE: 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. See more info here.

May 28th Amanda Brooks, a retired escort (and former stripper) and author of The Internet Escort's Handbook series.
About Amanda: Amanda is also an activist, serving as a board member of SWOP-East and, as a board member of Desiree Alliance, writer at Bound, Not Gagged.
Listen to the show live here.

June 4th Searah Deysach, owner of Early to Bed & maker of lesbian porn films.
About Searah: Frustrated with the lame sex toy scene in her hometown, Searah Deysach, with help from her friends and family, opened Chicago’s first woman-owned sex shop Early to Bed in 2001. Now Searah spends her days spreading the good word about sex positively and the joys of masturbation through her store, writings and a busy schedule of talks at colleges and community groups. She is also the sex columnist for (the now defunct) Punk Planet Magazine and the online community ChronicBabe.com. She lives in Chicago with her girlfriend and their bunny.
Listen live here.

June 18 Andrea Dean Van Scoyoc, award winning author of Horror Sinisteria, with titles published at Ephemera Bound*.
About Andrea: Called “One of the most unique and twisted authors of our generation,” Andrea Dean Van Scoyoc is a best selling, three-time award winning author of Horror Sinisteria. From ghosts to the paranormal, from the Occult to pirates, Andrea can write it, write it well and keep her fans and critics begging for more. A force of nature, Andrea has blazed a path through a genre most often dominated by men. She is routinely sought out for appearances at everything from private functions to public venues to conventions, where she appears as a celebrity guest.
June 25 Jack Hafferkamp, of Libido magazine and Libido films.
About Jack: From 1988 to 2000 Jack Hafferkamp published/edited Libido: The Journal of Sex and Sensibility with Marianna Beck. Since then he has operated Libido Films, which specializes in gender-equal explicit erotica. Libido films have been honored at the annual Erotic Awards in London and featured at New York's Cinekink festival. Jack holds a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality, specializing in Erotology, which is the material culture of sex.
Confirmed guests, with dates not yet scheduled:

J. Eric Miller, author of Decomposition & Animal Rights & Pornography.

Jennifer Epstein, author of The Painter from Shanghai, a novel based on the life of Chinese prostitute-turned-post-Impressionist Pan Yuliang, who stunned China and much of the West in the 20's and 30's by defiantly painting herself in the nude, even though it went against pretty much every Confucian ethic of the time.

Dr. Gloria Brame, a licensed clinical sexologist and leading international authority on BDSM and fetish sex.

*Disclosure Note: Gracie Passette is an editor with Ephemera Bound.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Domestic Violence History Lessons

In Wife-beating in Ancient Rome, Joy Connolly, professor in the Department of Classics at New York University and author of The State of Speech: Rhetoric and Political Thought in Ancient Rome, explores the issue of domestic violence and more.
Uncountable by any statistic was the abuse that might be dealt out by a violent husband. As in modern times until very recently, wife-beating was not much talked of by classical writers beyond the odd aside, as when Augustine in his Confessions recollects the bruises he saw as a child marking the faces of his mother’s friends, or when Herodotus and Suetonius report that the Corinthian tyrant Periander and the Emperor Nero beat their pregnant wives to death. Plutarch hints at the frequency of abuse in his Roman Questions, a quirky study of Roman religion and customs, when he wonders why Romans avoid marrying close relatives. He suggests three reasons: Roman men may seek to expand their influence by marrying into different families; they may fear that domestic over-familiarity breeds contempt; or they might prefer an exogamic system where sisters and daughters, should they suffer abuse, could seek help from male kin unrelated (thus under no obligation) to the abuser. The Greek preference for endogamy, Plutarch implies, caught women in a familial trap from which there was no easy escape.
One, or at least this one, cannot help but wonder if these are the very same reasons for the "moral" dictate given for marriage laws. Science has proven that marriage and its breeding practices are not harmed by offspring between cousins, for example, so there's no reason for those without knowledge of genetics to even think of such problems. (See also.) In fact, there is quite a bunch of historical documentation of such marriages, and there seems to be evidence that favors such family ties:
One of the basic laws of modern evolutionary science, quantified by the great Oxford biologist William D. Hamilton in 1964 under the name "kin selection," is that the more close the genetic relationship between two people, the more likely they are to feel loyalty and altruism toward each other. Natural selection has molded us not just to try to propagate our own genes, but to help our relatives, who possess copies of some of our specific genes, to propagate their own.
So, it stands to reason that the notion of forbidden familial marriages has more to do with something else... Perhaps it is even more horrible than the notion, expressed in Forbidden Relatives: The American Myth of Cousin Marriage, that "the U.S. prohibition against such unions originated largely because of the belief that it would promote more rapid assimilation of immigrants".

Maybe, it has more to do with the ability to control ~ and even abuse ~ women.

It certainly is a common step for abusers today to isolate their victim from friends and even their own families.

But let's get back to Connolly's article.

Using Sarah B. Pomeroy's The Murder of Regilla: A case of domestic violence in antiquity, and Caroline Vout's Power and Eroticism in Imperial Rome, Connolly brings up one historical case study, if you will, and the practical matter of interpretation from our current cultural vantage point.

The case study, of sorts, in our historical lesson on the acceptance of domestic violence is the story of Appia Annia Regilla Atilia Caucidia Tertulla.

A Roman woman born into a powerful family closely linked to the Antonine dynasty, Regilla married "far outside her family, to the celebrated Greek politician and orator Herodes Atticus". Regilla died in her mid-thirties, eight months pregnant with her sixth child ~ punched or kicked in the belly by a freedman acting on orders from her husband. Regilla's brother, Braduas, brought Herodes, Regilla's husband, up on a murder charge, "but the absence of witnesses, Herodes’s insistence that he had not intended his freedman to administer such a violent beating, and his extraordinary public expressions of grief (including the dedication of the Acropolis Odeon to his dead wife) got him off."

Connolly takes issue with Pomeroy's work, saying, "Pomeroy’s reconstruction of Regilla's life, especially her education and her relationship with her husband, seizes most of many opportunities to cast the Roman matron as a victim."

I cannot fully agree. How else would you paint a woman (and her unborn child) who were murdered? "Victim" seems apt here.

However, there is, if not a twist, then at least a point to consider...

Enter Vout, whose work poses the question of our ability to "ever be able to understand the degree to which sexuality is a 'locally constructed' or a transcendent, 'trans-historical experience of Eros'". This begs the question: Is the story of Regilla's murder even true?

I must read the books in order to be close to the answer; and thanks to Connolly, I'm too intrigued not to. The wish list & reading pile grows...

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Collective Adoration of Earl Kemp

SPS, Silent Porn Star, sent me an excited email when she began her interview with Earl Kemp, saying, "He's rapidly making the short list for who I'd like to be stuck on the deserted island with." After reading the first few parts, I'm inclined to wrestle her for that honor.

Kemp, you should know, is the hetero "Godfather of gay publishing" who served just over 3 months in prison for distributing obscenity. You can find out more, of course, by reading the interview series:

Here's the Introduction, Kemp on science fiction, and, perhaps my favorite (so far), Kemp on censorship and politics.

As SPS said, here, there are many reasons for The Collective Adoration Of Earl Kemp:
As for the other reasons to form an Earl Kemp Mutual Admiration Society, I think they all lead back to passion. Certainly there was a passion behind standing up for Big Beliefs -- 10 years of government stalking gave you plenty of time to reconsider the personal cost. But there also is a passion for writing, the sf genre and the community. No one can describe Earl Kemp as apathetic. Even while you mock & paint yourself as the tired man of so many years, here you are.

In an age of apathy, what's not to admire about Earl Kemp.

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Of Humor and Spirituality, Historically Speaking

From Ancient Humor: Raunch, Riddles and Religion, by Jennifer Viegas at Discovery News:
Lost in Translation

The link between spirituality and humor may extend to the Bible, but much of the book's sarcasm, irony and wordplay was lost when it was translated into Latin and other languages, according to Brooklyn College's Hershey Friedman, who published related findings in the journal Humor.

"Translating Hebrew into English results in the loss of the imagery and wordplays of the Hebrew," he told Discovery News.

One of Friedman's favorite passages is the "Book of Jonah," which, in the Jewish faith, is read each year on Yom Kippur. Jonah becomes such a successful prophet that people repent, fast and dress according to his guidance. "Even the animals fast," Friedman said.

He explained that Jonah was meant to be a parody for readers.

"In effect, God is saying, 'I sent the worst prophet I could find (Jonah) to the Assyrians, and he did not have to say very much, and they all repented. I sent numerous articulate prophets to the Israelites and they did not wish to change their idolatrous ways."

"There is humor here, but the humor is used to deliver a very potent message," he added. "The humor in the Bible has a purpose. It is used to mock the idolater and the wicked."
Now, if only they could tell me that all the "begatting" was at one time sexy smut too.

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