Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tom Paine & C. Join The Cult

I'd like to remind you that my guests this evening (Wednesday, July 23rd, at 9 PM central) on Cult of Gracie Radio are Tom Paine & C., the husband and wife behind Polyamorously Perverse fame. The couple amazes me with their discussion of the private & intimate details of their road of exploration & discovery ~ one which often exposes the unforeseen with brutal, if poetic, honesty.
About Tom & C.: Tom Paine and his wife, who goes by the initial C., confronted the problem of a sex life that had gone flat by re-inventing themselves with an open relationship. They have explored swinging, polyamory and simply working on keeping themselves attractive to the other, with the result of a reborn sensuality that other couples would envy. Currently they play with a single woman they call the Strawberry Slut, but both have the option to see other people should the situation arise. Tom writes a blog called Polyamorously Perverse, and is currently exploring options for turning the blog's story into a book.
You can listen live to the show here, and call in with your questions and comments at 1 (646) 200-3136.

UPDATE: Miss the show? Listen to the archived show (or download it) here.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

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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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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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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