Monthly Archives: October 2012

Busy Busy Bee

Hello dear readers!  I’ve got a lot of fun things coming up for you, but they’re taking much longer than I anticipated.  I’m really sorry for leaving you in the lurch lately, but here’s a preview of coming attractions!

I’m currently reading three (3!) books to review for you, including Finding Gaia, by Kimberly Chapman, recommended to me by one of my Google Plus friends; a promotional copy of The Sex God – No Mud No Lotus, by Ben Belenus; and The Ultimate Guide to Kink by the lovely Tristan Taormino.

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I sent a care package to my best friend, and had to go shopping for condoms and lubrication for her.  I went to my favorite intimate store, Good Vibrations, and I ended up sending her a gigantic grab bag, as I couldn’t pick just one!  It is always fun to try new and different types of condoms, and when they come from a reputable place like Good Vibrations, you know that they’re going to be good.  I also sent her a bunch of different types of lube, because, again, I simply couldn’t pick.  Here’s hoping she decides to do some reviews for Nice Girls!

While I was gleefully grabbing condoms and lubrication samples, I also found a VERY interesting new product called Masque.  These are flavor strips that dissolve on your tongue, similar to a Listerine strip, but they actually block the salt and bitter receptors on your tongue!  I grabbed a few of them, and not only sent some to my best friend, but I kept a few for myself.  I just put the watermelon flavor in my mouth, waited a couple of minutes and had a teaspoon of salt.  Couldn’t taste a thing.  I can’t wait to try them in a more intimate setting.

I want to thank you all again for being so patient with me.  I am doing my best to bring you quality content that isn’t just me losing my mind over something that’s going on in the news.

Naming and Shaming

Have you heard the name Amanda Todd?  Hers is a heartbreaking story of a young teenager who was relentlessly bullied by an anonymous online man, and then in person by her classmates because of a youthful indiscretion.  Specifically, she was encouraged to lift her shirt and flash someone on a cam-chatting site, and the man who encouraged her then shared a screenshot with others, including her classmates.  The man has been identified by Anonymous, they of the “we are legion” variety, and his personal information is now available for any person who has the desire for vigilante justice.   I admit, I felt a little thrill of joy when I saw the video on the Anonymous YouTube account, stating the name of Todd’s harasser, but I immediately felt guilty about it.

How about the name Violentacrez, also known as Michael Brutsch?  He’s been outed from his anonymous screen name as a chief moderator and expert troll on several unsavory subreddits.  He’s also been targeted, and he has subsequently lost his job, and his wife has become a target as well.

I have shared my opinion on “naming and shaming” publicly before, and I am going to do it again.  Right now.  I find it all incredibly distasteful.

Amanda Todd and her parents should have gone to the police with the information she had regarding her harasser.  He was ACTUALLY distributing child pornography, and blackmailing her in the process.  When her classmates were harassing her in person, she and her parents should have gone to the principal, or called the police.  The Gawker writer who outed Brutsch should also have turned over his information to the police, as he was also distributing child pornography.  Yet no one is talking about the things that could have been done to stop these people from hurting others.  There is no discussion of how the legal system is the proper venue for reporting harassment, or turning in evidence that someone is committing illegal acts.

Instead, there are Facebook pages about how the man who was accused of harassing Amanda Todd is going to die; two men are being held up as the worst that society has to offer, but that’s okay because now they’ve been caught and aren’t we glad that now we know their names?

Knowing their names does nothing but allow other assholes on the internet to use the same tactics of bullying and harassment, which sinks these would-be white knights down to the same level as those they purport to abhor.  It allows those who are innocent in these dealings, like Brutsch’s wife and children, to be caught in the crossfire as the internet burns and pillages real names in a virtual world.  It creates a mob mentality that makes scapegoats out of the unsavory in their thirst for blood, and we are better than that.

Use experiences to educate about the bad situations and behaviors you want to see changed, but don’t give the internet the names of those who are guilty of perpetuating the bad situations and behaviors.  Allowing a particular person to become a scapegoat for broader problems only allows the group who accepted or encouraged the behavior to disavow that person, and then claim that they have changed.  It is the best form of misdirection, and allows the group to continue, essentially unchanged.

Using the heartbreaking story of Amanda Todd as a tool to educate other young women about how to deal with coercion, blackmail, mental illness, harassment, and bullying would be a much better way to make sure that this happens less frequently.  Turning in Brutsch privately would have given the US justice system a much better chance at a fair jury trial, and would have prevented his family from being vilified along with him.

Don’t get caught up in the sensationalism of the story, learn and teach the lessons that the story has to offer.

Bodyform Maxipads Does Viral Marketing Right

Sorry for the short post, everyone, but I saw this, and just had to share.

I’ve rolled my eyes for years at the commercials for tampons, menstrual pads, and, more recently, yogurt.  They depict women experiencing an unreasonable amount of joy while engaging in activities that would leave me sobbing and snarling at anyone who came near if I were menstruating.  And while I enjoy yogurt, let’s be real, it isn’t actually that fun to eat.

The last time I laughed so hard at a viral marketing video was when the original Old Spice Man, Isaiah Mustafa, was doing response videos to random internet people.  Take a look at this video, and then the response video here.

The pencil snap and the flatulence at the end were what really sent me over the edge.  I laughed so hard I had tears, and then I watched it two more times.  My hat is off to you, Bodyform!

Californians: Please Vote NO on Prop 35

Proposition 35, also known as the Ban on Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery sounds like the kind of bill that no one can argue with, right? I mean, no sane person actually thinks that human trafficking or (non-consensual) sex slavery is a good thing, right?  Right.  That’s why these things are ALREADY illegal.

So why has Prop 35 been introduced?  There is more to the bill than what meets the eye in the small blurb in your voter guide.  This bill would broaden the definitions of human trafficking and sex slavery to a point where the terms could include people who have chosen to be prostitutes, as well as their customers, and people who have chosen to be adult entertainers (working in porn or as strippers).  These people (men and women) who have chosen to engage in sex work could be prosecuted as “human traffickers” and sentenced to a decade in jail, with a $500,000 fine.  If the police chose to do so, you could be charged with human trafficking merely by having sex with a date that paid for a meal.  There’s nothing okay about that.

Here’s an excerpt from The Myth of Sex Trafficking, regarding Prop 35,

Here’s a riddle:

Q: Under §6(h)(2) of the CASE Act, what makes a sexual act into a “commercial sex act”?

A: That it occurs on account of anything of value being given or received by any person.

Here’s another riddle:

Q: Gee, does “anything of value” include buying someone dinner?  A ticket to a movie?  A drink?

A: “Anything of value” is not defined — but if it meant “money or its equivalent” it would say so.

Here’s a final riddle:

Q: Do you really think that prosecutors will think that they can get a jury to convict for a 19-year-old boy who takes a 17-year-old girl (or boy) to a concert, leading her to be grateful and to engage in a sexual act with him, under the CASE Act?

A: Maybe not.  But if it’s your son facing 12 years in prison and being branded for life as a registered sex offender as a result of the conviction, would you be more likely to tell him to accept a plea bargain just in case?  And don’t prosecutors like plea bargains to pad their conviction statistics?  And have they ever been known to deploy their prosecutorial discretion somewhat selectively?

(By the way, that could be your daughter in the above example rather than your son.)

I highly recommend that all of my California readers go to the websites that discuss the pros and cons of Prop 35 (especially the blog linked above, for the cons) and educate yourself.  While the proposition title sounds like a great idea, in reality, it will only increase the number of frivolous arrests and prosecutions of legitimate sex workers, and will increase the already overloaded court system.

I will be voting “no” on Prop 35.   Instead of going after women and men who work in the sex industry by choice, why not help the women and men who have asked for the court’s assistance?  I’d much rather see that energy, manpower, and judicial resources going towards processing the over 180,000 rape kits that are languishing in California.

Men’s Rights and Feminism: Two Sides of the Same Coin?

I found this video of one of my absolute favorite Jezebel writers, Lindy West, through the Skepchick blog.  Lindy speaks to a lot of the experiences of female bloggers, especially feminist bloggers.  The amount of hate and vitriol that is directed towards female bloggers is absolutely nauseating, and it seems to be increasing in intensity.  Offhand, I can think of two bloggers I love who have been the target of some particularly nasty stalking and abuse lately, Laci Green and Surly Amy.  My dear friend, Nixie Pixel, has also been a target at times.

I attracted the attention of the MRA (Men’s Rights Activists) subreddit a few months back, due to my Dark Side of Geek Feminism post.  I had some pretty severely conflicting emotions about the fact that, by and large, they all agreed with the post.  Until that time, my only experience with the Men’s Rights movement was through some grumblings on a few of the feminist websites I had been frequenting.

I spent a lot of time on the subreddit, and read a lot.  I cringed every time I read something that was clearly sexist, whether biased towards men or women (a few instances of the posters referring to women that they perceived as acting entitled as “cupcake” really irritated me).  Overall, though, I was surprised to find myself in agreement with a lot of the threads.

I believe it is a tragedy that men who are raped are not taken seriously, and have a harder time getting access to necessary mental health treatment.  I find it infuriating that there are women who actually use rape accusations as a form of bullying, extortion, or to smear a man’s name.  I think that the courts should stop being automatically biased towards women in custody hearings.  These were the main points I read about, and I no longer think of the MRAs (as a whole) as a bad movement.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this shift in my views.  I honestly believe that both sides could use a little more positive PR.  It is my understanding that both sides are trying to draw attention to injustices and attempt to rectify those injustices.  Feminists and MRAs just want to be treated with respect and as though their gender doesn’t determine how they should be treated in everyday life, in the workplace, and by the justice system.  Both sides have their trolls, and their radical elements, but in the end, we all want to be treated equally.  In order to do this, we have to stop vilifying each others movements.  We have to stop accusing entire genders of being culpable for the actions of those few who behave badly.  Yes, making that mental shift is difficult, but it has to happen if we are actually wanting equality for all.  Otherwise, we are undermining our own movements, and creating an Animal Farm mentality, where some are “more equal” than others.

I still think the PUA (Pick Up Artist) community is full of crap though.  Sorry, Lindy, I don’t foresee my thoughts on that group changing anytime soon.

Let’s Get Idealistic

There’s been so much in the news in the past few months about abortion, contraception, and a woman’s right to choose that as I said in a previous post, I’ve been overwhelmed.  I’d like to take a moment to get a little idealistic.

When I was in high school, I took a class about early human development.  We learned about the stages of pregnancy, and the different stages children go through in their first two years of life.  At one point in my class, we were given the task of brainstorming the ideal situation to have a child.  We already knew that adoptive parents had to fulfill certain criteria in order to be able to have a child, so we were told to imagine a “test” of sorts that a woman (or a set of parents) would have to pass in order to have a child.

If I remember correctly, we came up with the following points:

  • Financially stable, with at least six months worth of income in accessible savings.

We came up with this because pregnancy and raising a child are both expensive.  There’s also the risk of complications with the pregnancy or child’s health leaving one or both parents unable to work for a period of time.  We thought that at least six months of income in the bank would help ease that potential burden.

  • Emotionally stable, with a supportive network of friends and family.

Just like the financial cost, pregnancy and raising a child can be unexpectedly difficult, emotionally.  We learned about postpartum depression, and how the woman’s emotional state can affect the child’s development in the womb.  Having a supportive network of friends and family, especially people who are geographically close, is important to making sure that the parents can have a break occasionally.

  • Good health, and good health insurance.

Making sure that the woman is already in good health when she gets pregnant, and maintains her health during the pregnancy were also stressed during my class.  Proper nutrition and regular exercise, as well as the ability to see a doctor when necessary, were things that we deemed of highest importance to the development of the child.

  • A stable and safe place to live.

Being teenagers in the suburbs, we were imagining owning a house with a large backyard.  While I no longer think that is necessary, I do think that living in a relatively safe neighborhood, and taking the proper precautions to baby-proof your house are incredibly important.

  • Ease of access to hospitals, schools, and other important services.

I think this one is self-explanatory.

I am close to many women who have had children without checking any of these boxes.  Their children are happy and healthy, and they are excellent mothers.  I still think that all of these are important things to have in place before I consider having children, and that is why I chose to get an IUD.  When I decide to have children, it will be because I am ready.  This is not a criticism of any woman or her choices.  I fully realize that this is an idealistic list.

I would posit that is also idealistic of the Republican Party to expect to reduce accessibility to contraception and abortion and to somehow still not have any unwanted pregnancies occur, or for parents to not need some sort of assistance to care for their children.  Abstinence education just exacerbates these problems.  People are going to have sex, and sometimes, despite precautions, pregnancies occur.

If you had to come up with a list like this, what would you put on it?  Do you think that the list we came up with in high school was good?  Have you formulated a similar list?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Love Joule: Japanese Masturbation Bar for Women

My best friend is an Australian currently living in the city of Kobe in Japan.  She has regaled me with stories of how different the culture is with regards to sex and normal bodily functions.  The most recent “problem” was attempting to purchase tampons in a convenience store.  They keep the boxes wrapped up in paper, and they will double-bag the wrapped package!  And condoms?  No way.  I’m actually sending her a big box of them later this week.

Naturally, when I saw this article (mildly NSFW) on Jezebel, I thought of my best friend.  Megumi Nakagawa, an entrepreneur in the Shibuya district of Tokyo has opened Love Joule, the country’s first “love and sex bar dedicated to women.”  Instead of the typical alcohol bottles displayed on the shelves behind the bar, there are vibrators and other sex toys all lined up.  From what I’ve seen on the facebook page, the toys are on the higher end of the scale too!  The bar is for women only (unless the man is accompanied by a woman), and is frequented by women who work in the sex industry in Tokyo.

It is my understanding that sex, especially female masturbation, is a very taboo subject in traditional Japanese culture.  I find it encouraging and refreshing to see that Nakagawa is attempting to provide a space for women to discuss how to have a happier and healthier sex life.  I will definitely seek out Love Joule when I visit Tokyo for the first time.

Would you like to see something like this in your city?  Would you go to Love Joule if you had the chance?

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