November 09, 2005
O Rose, Thou Art Sick
O Rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy,
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.
~ William Blake, "The Sick Rose"
The phone sex industry is in an uproar over the whole Red Rose thing and I guess it’s time to talk about it here.
Up to now I haven’t addressed the closing of Red Rose Stories. Something didn’t seem right about it. The original statement posted on the front page of the site when it was brought to my attention has been altered at least once and it struck me as strange that there was no official statement of charges, etc. It reads much calmer now, but at the time was so defensive and passive-aggressive that it reeked of trying to hide something. If I felt righteous indignation regarding my treatment by a federal agency I would be providing as much legal information regarding my case as possible to encourage public outrage. I wrote to the site admin, but as of right now, none of my emails have been returned. I was on the fence. Obviously, I am concerned about the implications of a story site being closed down by a federal agency, but, it just seemed like there had to be more to it than what we were getting.
Info began circulating at places like YNot, XBiz, and even Boing Boing expressing concern over the closing, assuming it was part of an initiative that followed on the heels of the Max World Entertainment obscenity raid. But there still wasn’t enough information available for me to research on my own and form an opinion.
I still have a lot of questions.
The important thing here -- for me -- is to get all the facts before jumping to a conclusion. "How dare the government do X" is my instinct like everyone else in the industry these days, but there's still enough of ole devil’s advocate me left to want to know exactly what was involved.
Daze Reader and Darker Pleasures (article 1, article 2) have both started finding out more compelling information and asking some harder questions. Through Google cache and a few other information sources, it’s become clear that Red Rose Stories wasn’t targeted because of stories about group sex, or mainstream taboo issues (scat, edge-play, water-sports, etc). It’s pretty clear to me that this is about the fact that many of their stories included instances of sex with children. Not Lolita "hot teen girl" stuff that walks the line in mainstream America and fuels socially acceptable movies like American Beauty.
Nope. It's not going to be that easy, friends and neighbors.
Red Rose's Lolita section apparently had headers and categories for stories that included infants and toddlers having sex with adults. At least three of the stories from what I can discern appear to include toddler snuff. So the holier-than-thou blather once posted on the home page following the FBI’s raid was more than just a tad misleading. “Rosie’s” statement that “The ONLY legal sex stories are those that involve a man and a woman, consenting to MISSIONARY POSITION SEX, in a dark room” is hardly true and does a lot more to make her look like an ass than a victim of political harassment. I’m sure that’s why it no longer appears on the page.
Still, I think we need more to go on before taboo phone sex workers start to panic. But there is reason for concern.
Phone sex is a form of storytelling. All role-play activities are. The implications of stories being able to be categorized as criminal would be a gigantic step backwards for us as a society and would cripple the industry as it stands. Going after a story site would appear to go against the April 2002 Supreme Court ruling on Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition where it was decided that "virtual" child porn was not criminal because no actual children or criminal acts are involved.
There are at least three cases that I can think of that would be valid for the FBI to investigate this issue and possibly confiscate the site equipment. First, one of the contributing authors may have actually committed a crime against a minor and the story may be gathered for evidence of that or additional crimes. Second, one of the stories may depict similarities to a case currently under investigation to the point where its parallels requires investigation of a possible suspect. Finally, one or more of the stories may have been presented as a confession, whether for dramatic effect or not. In most of these cases it would also explain why the FBI isn’t saying anything about the case. Although it would be nice to have an official statement from them to go on.
I question whether the site has actually been closed down by the FBI. They may have taken the servers and back-ups and made it impossible for the site admin to recover the site's contents, but she obviously still has control enough to post a statement. It's entirely possible that if she had a back-up the site would still be functional. These are answers we don't have. We do know that there are instances in the past where the FBI has actually killed / taken over the domain itself. That obviously hasn't happened here. The effect is the same, but there is a difference in the actions.
This is one of those cases that make us ask ourselves the hard questions and decide if we have the courage of our convictions. That’s one reason the site would have been targeted if this is just an obscenity fishing expedition.
And that would be a problem. Not just for taboo erotica sites and taboo phone sex workers, but for free speech rights in a virtual age. And we’ve got to stick to our guns on the harder cases, or else we give them the inch that leads to the mile.
At the risk of losing half my reader base, I’ll state here and now that I have no problem with most underage fantasies. They make perfect sense to me from a social and biological perspective. We become sexually aware as children. We first start to masturbate and experience sexual pleasure as children. In ancient times children were married at or just prior to puberty and let's face it, it's only been a few decades since young teens (and in some cases pre-teens) married regularly in certain places of the US. It seems reasonable to me that our basic fantasies would include fantasies of virtual children wether as ourselves or as partners. It is a way of escaping the complications of our adult relationships. What is simpler to most adults than the memory of childhood? Our mating instinct often begins before puberty and our adult minds retain that. As we get older and discover the complexities of sexuality and the emotional rewards of consenting partners, we move away from those first primitive instincts, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t echoes deep in the chambers of the subconscious. And if someone wants to explore those thoughts and feelings in the form of a roleplay session with a phone sex girl then I believe that’s perfectly reasonable.
It’s one thing to fantasize about screwing around with a teenaged Lolita. It’s another thing entirely to act on the instinct. Sure, she looks hot in that skirt, and she’s probably a lot less complex than the wife back at home, but she also listens to the Backstreet Boys and can you really imagine wanting to have sex with anyone of any age who listens to modern boy bands?
Okay. I know. It’s not a joking matter. But, it’s a real example of how our fantasies aren’t reality and cannot be made criminal no matter how revolting they may seem to others. The lesson of Lester Burnham was that sure, a guy might jerk off thinking about the cheerleader next-door, but when faced with the reality of an immature girl right in front of him, he recognized the false-front of the fantasy. That moment is the difference between a sex criminal and the average person. The choice to physically act or not; the ability of the mind to recognize the jump from fantasy to reality is monumentally important.
And those of you aching to shake your fingers at the Bush administration for this should realize right now that it’s the liberals who have given the religious right this opening. The liberals are just as often on the wrong side of this issue. Ashcroft v. ACLU started out as
ACLU v. Reno. Don’t make this liberal v. conservative in your mind. It isn’t. The previous and next administrations will likely go after this just as aggressively.
I have taken my share of underage calls as a phone sex operator, although I never had one of those phone-sex urban legend instances where supposedly the PSO believes the caller is actually molesting someone while speaking with her. Had I ever really felt that was happening I would have notified authorities. That’s basic. But then I wouldn’t have rushed to that conclusion instantly and I would have had a serious discussion with the client.
Yes, it’s true you hear about cases as a PSO, but they’re always so unlikely. Can it have happened? Maybe, but it’s such an improbable scenario. It goes against all pathology of most child molesters that we know of -- a criminal base that not only encourages but actually thrives on utter secrecy. It's far more likely that an inexperienced phone sex entertainer got spooked and began playing "whatif" over and over in her mind and worked herself into a guilt fit. It happens. Some of these guys can really freak you out, and some of them love playing mind games and seeing if they can push your buttons. It happened to me with a psycho caller who wanted to talk about murdering people and sexually assaulting children with the body parts of his victims. Never spoke with the guy again and I'm not sure how I made it though the call. But when I talked later to other girls who had handled the same caller, they said his method was to simply find whatever a girl's limits were and push against them. He'd never been that extreme with any of the other girls he spoke with – mostly he’d been into graphic scat and rape with them. Apparently I wasn't shocked enough by his regular stuff and he had to get creative. Lucky me.
Still. As much as I could never take a call like that again, I don't think it should be illegal for anyone to do so. People say "wouldn't you feel different if you found out the guy was a serial killer?" And my answer is still no. I've talked to a lot of guys on the phone about sex. It's possible (if improbable) that I've spoken with a serial killer. If that highly unlikely event took place, it's possible I talked with him about an act he may or may not have committed upon a victim. If so, then he was a psycho before he called and it’s even more unlikely that I either contributed to his actions, or could have deterred them. Anyone who has ever had any real interaction with mentally disturbed individuals knows how ridiculous it is to think reality influences them. We like to think there are reasons, explanations, and/or contributing factors. Sometimes we can find links that appear to have some influence, but they never give us the whole story. The truth is we do not know. The science isn't there yet.
There is no empirical evidence that proves people act on their taboo fantasies. Yes, there is evidence to suggest that child molesters fantasize about sex with children, but, unless we can understand how many non-molesting individuals have these same types of fantasies we can’t know how unusual that is. Police find porn at most homes where domestic crimes are committed, but that's because an estimated 80% of American homes have some kind of porn in them. Does that mean porn incites domestic violence? If 80% of American homes had toasters, would the toasters be the cause of domestic violence? Legislators continue to submarine any funding for sexuality studies so we can only wonder.
I personally have now and likely will always fantasies about being underage in my *personal* fantasy life. Generally I am between 12 and 16 in such fantasies, but occasionally I dip younger. For people who were sexually aware at younger ages, I can understand those numbers going lower. True, toddler and infant stories make me inwardly flinch, but I'm sure the idea that I fantasize about being a pre-teen makes others flinch. Complicate this with the fact that snuff makes me extremely uncomfortable (personally) and, well, we're talking about the kind of porn that is going to be the most difficult for me to defend, and I still want all the facts before taking any kind of stand on Rose Red Story’s behalf.
Daze points out that there are two schools of thought: fantasies and stories contribute to action and/or fantasies and stories appease the appetite and prevent action. I think there are other schools of thought, but the truth is that no one knows and it doesn't matter. The virtual creation cannot be counted as a crime. You cannot police the mind. You cannot make a fictional story or a work of art into a crime. That's my bottom line. Nothing else matters to me. If we start to go in that direction it will be a day ten times more frightening to me than 9/11 ever could have been. Because then it isn’t an outside force coming after us, it’s a cancer inwardly eating our rights out of our own minds.
For the record, my personal beliefs are as follows:
1. I believe in the five -year rule. A twenty-one year old having consensual sex with a sixteen year old is not statutory rape (if it's rape-rape, that's a different issue). Anyone who is more than five years older than an underage partner and having consensual sex with them should face moderate legal reprimand depending on the circumstance. Again, non-consensual instances should have different (and more severe) punishments.
2. Statutory rape is not child molestation or pedophilia. There is a reason we have separate terms for things. A thirty year old guy who is sleeping with a sixteen year old girl is not the same as a thirty year old guy committing sexual acts upon a toddler and the punishments for these crimes should be vastly different. We need to stop labeling every sex act with an underage person as “child molesting” the same way we have to stop labeling all acts of violence as terrorism. Using blanket statements is good for sensationalizing mediocre crimes, but it builds up public skepticism toward facing the real problems.
3. Child molesting and/or child exploitation is a serious crime of the worst imaginable type, but it is limited to the actual physical act. People who buy/acquire real child pornography aren't people I want to buddy up with, but they have not physically committed any act upon a child. They should be compelled to hand over whatever physical evidence they have in their possession and to aid in whatever way they can to help trace it back to the people who did commit the actual crime. We're never going to catch the people actually doing harm if we allow police to spend time, money, and effort on going after the low-hanging fruit. It will always be easier to catch consumers, the goal is to catch the producers. Making it illegal to own also makes it more unlikely that discoveries will be reported. If a person stumbles upon child porn by accident in our current atmosphere they are far more likely to get rid of it than they are to hand it over to the authorities. This makes finding the bad guys harder.
4. Those people who actually commit crimes against children should face the gravest punishments we have available via our legal system. They may not have taken lives, but they have gambled on the health, safety, and mental well-being of a helpless person. They haven’t committed murder, but they’ve committed pretty much the next most vile thing to it. There isn't a room dark enough to keep these people in. This is why we have to actually catch them and protect children from them instead of passing laws that make no sense. We also need to talk to them, study them, and try to find out what makes them do the things they do so we can help prevent it if possible (although I suspect it is going to end up being something more like a chemical imbalance than it is a social influence once sciences gets to the point where we can uncover answers like these).
Every year it seems our government is trying to criminalize a new segment of our society in the name of protecting children. Anti-smoking laws, no-tolerance drug policy, zero-tolerance school policies, and, of course, anti-gay and anti-porn crusades. We are to the point where nearly everyone has, at one time or another, engaged in a criminal activity. It’s the democratic equal of original sin. This isn't the way a free society is supposed to work and I do not agree that it is the right way to protect our children. You don’t protect children from STDs by providing abstinence-only information; You don't protect children from drugs by busting the pothead down the street and you don't protect children by teaching them that one way to love is better than another and you don't protect children by busting people for crimes of the mind instead of going after the people actually physically committing acts against children. Because children know bullshit when they see it. Maybe they don’t consciously process that step, but they know when things seem wrong and they’ll experiment for themselves until they find their own answers even if it makes them feel guilty or wrong.
Shutting down a story site, even one as over the lines as Red Rose is like busting a guy for arson because he wrote a story about burning down a house. Sure, some people say "you have to be sick to even think of having sex with a child" but I don't think that's true. Is it anymore sick to write a story about a cannibal serial killer? You have to be sick to actually HAVE sex with a child, but to think about it? Do we really want to go there?
The implications this has for the phone sex industry are obvious. If it's illegal to write about underage sex, then it's not that big a step to making it illegal to talk about underage sex. And once underage sex and age-play virtual depictions are criminalized, then what's the next item on the list?
I think Rose Red Stories was stupid. Not “damn I forgot my keys” stupid, but “someone slap that fucking idiot” stupid. To be hosting stories that involve underage characters having sex in our current political atmosphere means you had better be ready for the legal battle to come. And when it comes you better come out swinging with more than the bullshit whimpering statement that was posted after they were shut down.
But stupidity isn't criminal. I don't have enough information about the case to know yet if there is or isn't a legitimate criminal complaint here, but it seems to me that regardless this is more than just a simple test of obscenity.
If it does turn out that it’s a battle about criminalizing stories, then the FBI did pick a site that it's going to be hard to defend and Red Rose pretty much custom picked themselves for the spotlight. There aren't a lot of lawyers jockeying to stand up and say that toddler snuff story porn deserves its day. But if it turns out that’s all there is to this case, then someone has to. Because if we don't stop those trying to criminalize the human mind, we're never going to be able to focus on stopping those who actually commit physical crimes.
But it isn’t going to be pretty. And with two wild card Supreme Court justices in the mix, I think some concern is warranted. I just find it hard to feel sanctimonious about defending toddler snuff stories and I really hate the fact that I might feel compelled to donate to a defense of it once all the facts of the case are made clear.
September 10, 2005
Fred and Barney Debate Intelligent Design
I don't think that fundamentalism has anything to do with Jesus Christ...Fundamentalism is built on fear and greed. ~ Matthew Fox
I have so many friends who believe in one flavor or another of Christianity, just the same way I have many friends who believe in different flavors of politics. And I've come to realize something. I'm not angry at Christianity -- I'm angry at a certain type of person who calls his or herself a Christian, but actually isn't one. I'm annoyed with the "dinosaur bones are manufactured by the scientific community" people who stubbornly stick to "intelligent design" as being something that needs to be taught in regular schools, because, apparently, they're afraid the power of the school system (*snort*) will override what their children are taught at home and in Sunday school classes. Because the public school system has, time and time again, proved to be far more influential than the lessons learned at home and church.
The obvious agenda is because they want others to be forced to learn their religious beliefs -- some twisted form of fellowship that has no place in a secular educational environment and because they're afraid it will cause their children "confusion" which is codespeak for "ask questions we may not be able to answer." I don't believe in any theory, religious or otherwise, that opposes asking questions.
Which brings us to fundamentalist Republicans. I don't loathe all Republicans, but I can no longer abide a Bush supporter. If you voted for Bush in his second term and, well, then, you and I need to never speak of politics because that one fact tells me all I'll ever need to know about you.
There are Republicans who hold to the theories of what their party is supposed to stand for (some of which I personally believe in, which was more obvious back before the state of "normal" was dragged so far to the right and I was still a libertarian and not a liberal). These people do not vote along party lines, do not buy into talking points and are in as general a state of disgust over things as, you know, the rest of us. But there seems to be this core 60% of Republicans who would support the President no matter what he did.
So basically, we just need to get beyond and figure out a way to ignore the cronies, the fundies, and the insane far-left and filter them out of the actual process. Then we'll have independent thinkers as well as moderates, reasonable conservatives and liberals. And there can be something resembling a national level of debate again.
*sigh* now if we could just figure out how.
I'm leaning toward some sort of fight to the death spectator sport.
June 29, 2005
Nobody Changes Anyone Else's Mind...
Today's public figures can no longer write their own speeches or books, and there is some evidence that they can't read them either. ~ Gore Vidal
Where's Jon Stewart when you need him?
June 25, 2005
Free Speech Coalition's 2257 Compromise & You
Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself. ~ Salman Rushdie
If you are not a member of the Free Speech Coalition you might want to think about joining....umm...now. They're one of the few legal defense teams that adult webmasters/bloggers have right now. The membership fees go toward legal defenses. Depending on how deep you are in the industry, the membership fees vary, but an independent or blogger with a DBA should be able to get in at the $50 individual membership level. If you own your own company, etc, then it goes up. Although they do allow you to pay on monthly installments.
Currently, they've got an injunction that protects their members against DOJ 2257 investigation for at least the next month, until a judge holds a preliminary injunction hearing on August 8th. Plus they're not just handing over their member list:
A master list of members will be submitted to the Special Master on Wednesday June 29, 2005, and will include all FSC members as of 2:00 p.m. pacific standard time, Saturday June 25, 2005.
At no time will the DoJ have direct access to the FSC membership list, which will remain under seal.
Joining gives you the opportunity to take an extra month to get your ducks in a row and also lets you sit back and watch what happens from a relatively safe distance for the moment. Not to mention actually contributing to the cause.
In order to get on the membership list by June 29th, the following appears on their website:
In response to the flood of new members, Free Speech Coalition is pleased to announce that all membership and 2257 litigation contributions can be processed over the telephone as of 6:00 a.m. Pacific Time, Friday morning, June 24, 2005, through 2:00 p.m, Saturday, June 25, 2005. Call 800.681.0403. Credit cards will be processed over the telephone.
If you're only in it for the 30 days of protection then a) hopefully my blog post here wasn't what tipped you off about it because the deadline is in like...an hour; b) you might not want to shill out $50 or more for a mere 30 days.
But it's there if you're interested.
June 17, 2005
Always a Mary Ann, Never A Ginger
Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in high heels. ~ Faith Whittlesey
Sometimes all it takes is a photo or ad to get me thinking. Recently I spotted this photo ad for the horrid reality show The Real Gilligan's Island:
And, you know, it got me thinking.
I believe most little girls of my generation (and previous generations who knew what it meant) grew up wanting to be Ginger.
The sparkly dress – the Marilyn ‘tude, the fawning attention from the menfolk. These things made it more appealing to dress up and play “the movie star” instead of that other character who was referred to as “and the rest” in the original theme song.
Ginger was glamorous, slinky and pouty and treated like a prize. Mary Ann, on the other hand was pigtails and Pollyanna enthusiasm, and treated like just one of the guys. I don’t know what it was in my pre-pubescent mind that identified the advantages of being a Ginger and aspire during playtime to be her. What overpowering behavior signals, body language, or subtext could there possibly have been in a show that saccharine? Maybe it was enough that the producers obviously felt Ginger was the superior woman in a “what men want and women want to be” way. In fact, I can’t say that I remember a single plotline from a Gilligan’s Island episode except for the one where Mary Ann accidentally knocks herself on the head and wakes up thinking she’s Ginger so everyone puts on a sad charade of letting the poor little wanna-be parade about until it’s revealed she’s just plain old Mary Ann after all.
As I got older, it was clear I was more Mary Ann than Ginger. Sure I loved to play dress up in slinky dresses by myself, but I was mostly pigtails and Pollyanna enthusiasm. And, once I spent time with peers, I was far more tomboy and one of the guys than I was “don’t get my hair wet” prima donna. I retained my desire to dress up and wear frilly, pretty things in the right circumstance, but even in pretty dresses and stockings I wasn’t able to effectively masquerade as a bona-fide glamour girl. I was always just a Mary Ann in a pretty dress and I suppose I developed my personal balance with that.
I never made the connection regarding my comfortable (if gradual) acceptance of my inner Mary Ann until I was older and some beer commercial featured a group of guys around a pool table playing X or Y. The ad was likely part of the “tastes great / less filling” campaign, but I don’t remember. What I do recall is one of the guys tosses out “Ginger or Mary Ann” and after a pause they answer in unison “Mary Ann.”
And I thought: "Huh?"
A beer commercial, marketing to other guys was clearly inferring that a majority of men preferred Mary Ann. This bewildered me and I set about asking (okay, pestering) my male friends for explanations.
It turned out that their impression of Ginger was a high maintenance airhead who thought of herself as unattainable. Mary Ann was more girl next door cosy; the type my guy friends now refer to as “an MILF in training.”
Obviously, both Tina Louise and Dawn Wells were/are beautiful women. I don’t kid myself that even though Mary Ann was portrayed as “plain” that Dawn was anything but a plain young woman. Still, it’s fascinating to me that the transition took place socially as well as personally. Did I evolve as part of a personal journey or has American society evolved in general? It’s hard to tell sometimes. But I think it’s both.
Sure there are the Paris Hiltons who still get attention just because they’re "beautiful" (or, perceived as beautiful -- I don’t get people that think she’s attractive, but then I don't get the Brad Pitt thing, either). But there are women who can embrace inner sexuality and be revered for other traits as well. Let's face it, being the awkward geek girl is offically cooler than being the perfect doll. It all depends on the company you keep.
Yes, there is still overwhelming aesthetic prejudice in society and the arts, but we’re human animals and I don’t know that we’ll ever get over that. I also don’t know that we should. Maybe that’s part of the evolutionary recipe that produces an Elenore Roosevelt every now and then. Maybe it’s the social hindrances that come with not being traditionally attractive that allow for occasional sparks of extraordinary humanity to move to the forefront.
Some of us will never be pin-up girls no matter how many pairs of sexy panties and high heeled shoes we own. And if that is the greatest tragedy of our lives, then they are charmed lives, indeed.
There will always be Gingers and Mary Anns for as long as some girls feel pretty and others don’t. But for the first time in my life, when I think of which one I am and which one I want to be, I realize it doesn’t have to be a war or a choice or a disappointment. I want to be a little bit of both and mostly neither. My inner pie-fight between the island gals is all cleaned up and put to rest.
Which doesn’t mean I don’t want to watch THIS COMMERICAL as often as possible (warning, ads prelude video which starts instantly). Just because my inner catfight is over doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy watching other gals work out their issues.
*sigh* That’s another mark against my getting that sisterhood membership, isn’t it?
June 12, 2005
Anti-Gay Phone Companies Caught On Tape
Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow there, firm as weeds among stones. ~ Charlotte Brontë
Those of you who haven't encountered these Eugene Mirman "Show and Tell" recorded treasures yet are in for a hefty guffaw.
The recordings involve calls placed to Eugene by United American Technologies -- a phone company that claims ATT, MCI, etc are promoting the gay lifestyle, marketing child porn, and raping baby pandas. Okay, maybe not that last part. Their proposed solution is to sign up with their long distance plan where 10% of the revenue goes to ministries out to defeat the gay agenda (although there is some debate about where the money goes).
It would be interesting to get a copy of the actual script the salespeople are ad libbing from, because I'm confident the original script covered the company's ass regarding liable/slander. Their representatives, however are making some wildly inflammatory statements.
I'm torn. On the one side, I'm disgusted at a phone scheme out to bilk faithful Christians out of money and siphon it to whatever cause of the week feeds this company's goals.
On the other hand, if the people being targeted for solicitation weren't prejudiced fundies and thus easily swayed toward handing over their cash to sate their personal hatreds, they wouldn't be exploited in the first place.
I guess my bottom line is, I think it's a shame, but there are A LOT of other issues on my list that I'd like to see remedied before protecting fundamentalist hate mongers from being pick pocketed by a telemarketing scam.
June 11, 2005
Everyone knows what a hypocrite is; that's the guy who gripes about the sex, violence and nudity on his VCR. ~ Zig Ziglar
Umm. I'm warning you now. This is going to be one of those "get that girl a joint" entries.
Well, okay. But I put up signs and told you to run while you could. I blog, therefore I vent.
Operating in the sex industry (even phone sex, which I know is considered a twice-removed cousin by mainstream porn) and being an ethical, practical businessperson is often a very frustrating endeavor.
From the industry side, you watch as some people who cut corners, pander to the lowest common denominator, lie, cheat, steal and behave otherwise unethically appear to suffer little or no consequences for their actions while the good guys jump though arbitrary hoops just to keep their business afloat.
In phone sex, for example, I could name companies with dismal reputations for bouncing checks on their operators, scamming their clients, engaging in advertising tricks and scams and employing no end of other little sneak tactics.
I know -- I have this childish sense of fair play that just won't go away. I'd give anything to grow out of it.
To my credit, once I calm my temper down, I remember that will simply always be the way of business. For every legitimate company there is an Enron. For every person who dots the i's and crosses the t's there is a lazy slacker who leaves people in the lurch. At least in the sex industry, by and large, those who employ unethical practice don't lead to people dying, individuals losing their retirement next eggs, communities getting taxed into oblivion to make up for -- say, a power crisis, etc. An unethical judge, lawyer, doctor, CEO, is a far greater danger to society than a strip club owner gone mad with delusions of significance.
The truth is, in order to pose a danger to society, you have to have some kind of power. And the adult industry has no power. We get fucked from all sides in every way by as many parties as care to participate in the gangbang.
Now, you'll hear the argument that the sex industry attracts unsavory characters. So, let's address that concept. How can sex by itself attract anything more than another? Sex is inherent to us all and as such as varied and vast as the human race.
So, why does it seem that the sex industry has a disproportionate ratio of sleezebags to normies?
Simple. The government drives unsavory characters to sex.
Hang on. I'll show my work.
If you force an industry to operate on the fringes, it will attract fringe personalities. Prohibition funded organized crime. Does that mean that alcohol is intrinsically unethical? Are Coors, Budweiser, and all their brewery brethren tainted and evil? Or, was alcohol simply the gateway to organized crime in the 20s because fundies and government sheep gave the fringe element a chance to take over a socially embedded staple?
Sex, Inc. has this "riding the fence" position that really is enough to make a sane woman weep. The nutjob fundies can't ban sex (yet), but they seem to have no end of fun inspiring otherwise reasonable people to draw more lines about "right and wrong" than scar the plains of Nazca. Government organizations exploit and harass the sex industry because it distracts from the more serious problems they're not addressing. A nice round of vilifying sex shops and strip clubs is as good as tossing the fundies a teething ring to placate their self-righteous fangs. This is generally done in the name of "protecting" children, the elderly, the mentally/morally weak and/or kittens, puppies, and bunnies.
Government is sometimes called upon to make some hard calls. That's why we have a system. But policy to protect the public that strip one or many groups of their rights should actually 1) address a real problem and 2) stand a chance in hell of being effective.
And that's just the social harassment. I haven't even gotten into the monetary extortion.
Our country has an established history of taxing, or forcing a premium onto what they believe is "wrong" for us, so sex companies and individuals pay more for standard services under the guise of "what the market will bear."
You think it's ridiculous that you pay what you pay for a sex toy or service? Maybe so. But you should consider all the little ways a sex industry company gets fucked over and charged out the ears until the cost of producing said service or item requires hikes that would make gas station owners blush.
And king of this little fuck-over-the-adult-business-owner game is the advertising industry.
Thus, the catalyst for my little rant du jour.
If you want to advertise your adult business, you better have a nice bankroll, a lot of patience, a loose, accommodating sphincter, and a jar of Vaseline in tow.
There will be the standard garble about how/what/when/where you can and cannot advertise. These rules (dictated NOT by the market, but by greedy ad execs) range from common sense to out-of-their-fucking-minds.
Reasonable: An explicit ad might be appropriate for Hustler, whereas a less racy ad could find a home in Stuff.
Unreasonable: To place an ad in those more "mainstream" publications who lower themselves to graciously allow adult advertising in the "way back" sections of their venues, you can expect that your advertising will be tamed down until it pales in comparison to the liquor and Victoria's Secret glossy spreads.
Unreasonable Squared: While they're granting you permission to present your tawdry wares in their respectable publication, you'll tithe for the honor by paying anywhere from double to ten times what any other industry is asked to pay. Translation: you pay for worse placement with more severe content restrictions. And you better be happy they're so much as letting you sully their pristine little rag with your filthy presence.
Think I'm exaggerating?
Example 1: Washington City Paper
Paid Ads are for businesses, groups, or individuals that charge for their goods or services. The rate for paid ads is $18.50 for 25 words or less and 65¢ for each additional word.
The rate for Adult Services ads is $150 for 25 words or less and $3 for each additional word.
Example 2: Yahoo Directory Submit
For web sites that do not feature adult content or services, the Yahoo! Directory Submit service costs US$299 (nonrefundable) for each Directory listing that is submitted. Furthermore, for each listing accepted into the Directory, there is a recurring annual fee of US$299 to maintain the listing in the Directory for the subsequent year.
For sites that include adult content or services, the nonrefundable initial fee is US$600 and the recurring annual fee is US$600. The higher cost for sites with adult content reflects the fact that Yahoo! directory team uses a more complex and time-intensive review process for sites offering adult content and/or services.
More time-intensive review process my ass. That's Yahoo-speak for "we're going to charge you extra because we suspect our employees will be waking off while performing reviews."
I could go on and on with shit like this, but it just gets more and more depressing. But, you might want to keep this kind of thing in mind the next time you think that sex toy looks overpriced.
I don't mind so much defending myself to the mud slinging of fundamentalist hypocrites and sanctimonious windbags. I can take on a Bible thumper any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
I do mind legislation that serves no purpose other than to bar consenting adults from engaging in whatever fucking activity they opt to engage in in the privacy of their own bedrooms, or an establishment that provides substitute places of privacy, or services to aid in such private activities.
I do mind being charged EXTRA for the exact same services offered to any other business. I expecially mind when the services are not the same, but far inferior, and I'm treated like dirt in the process.
I do mind my billing options for my business dwindling because Mastercard and Visa are looking to drive out independent sex service providers by refusing services to third party processors if they accept adult industry clients. I pay my cable bill with my Visa card and Comcast has adult movies for sale at all hours. And I'll bet you my chargeback rate is a hell of a lot lower than Comcast's.
I love being a phone sex operator. I love the freedom and flexibility I gained by going independent. I worked hard to accomplish all I've accomplished, and I've helped others along the way when I can.
The idea that I may one day in the not-too-distant future have to surrender what I've built and go back to putting on suits and sitting in board rooms makes me physically ill.
It's this kind of mood that makes me think I need a submissive slave grunt to smack around for a few hours.
But I'm not bitter.
May 17, 2005
Thou Shalt Be Ashamed
Of the delights of this world man cares most for sexual intercourse, yet he has left it out of his heaven. ~ Mark Twain
I think I finally understand the anti-sex rabidity of the fundamentalist right. For years I've been bewildered by and afraid of them. For so long, I've considered them to be simply deranged, but they appear to have tapped into something in "the homeland" and that power has to be respected. It's easy to laugh them off, but then you think about things like Waco and Jonestown and you realize it's not funny, and either it's just my paranoia kicking in, or it seems to be getting worse day by day (save the "darkness before the dawn" speech, please). Now, with a self-declared evangelical president who may be getting rid of the filibuster to make way for evangelical judges that will hold lifetime seats and influence US law for generations...well, my sense of humor on the topic has dwindled.
And just when I thought I'd never "get it" the proverbial light went on.
Today, I read a post on Hullabaloo about "anti-abortion extremist" Neal Horsley. He's one of those nutbags that harasses doctors and clinics and thinks the "do not kill" part of his rhetoric applies only to a fetus and not the doctors who get killed by his "pro-life" buddies.
And I'd like to make something clear at this point. When I say "fundamentalist right" I'm talking about just that. Not the average Republican nor the average Christian. I'm using the word fundamentalists literally, not for sarcastic effect.
At any rate, the Hullabaloo article (which cross-refs NewsHounds)provides a semi-transcript where Horsley admits to fucking farm animals (seriously) during his "hedonistic" days of youth. I had a lot of trouble believing that a Jesus freak who considers Bush a radical liberal would admit to fucking a mule in a national radio interview. But, sure enough, an excerpt appears right on the Alan Colmes Show page.
My first knee-jerk reaction was the same thought that pinged me when it started being revealed that so many high-profile anti-gay figures were closet cases: they're a bunch of fucking hypocrites. But that isn't the important lesson to take from this.
By and large I feel there are two types of hypocrisy. The first is a liar saying one thing and doing another just because he wants to get away with it. Intentional falseness with an agenda; premeditated hypocrisy.
The other flavor is just incidental hypocrisy and it happens everyday to most of us over the course of simply being a human being. I'm viciously opposed to child labor, but I'm a choc-o-holic. I loathe Wal-Mart and everything they stand for, but they're close and sometimes I just don't have the time to drive across town to the mom and pop shop that has the same thing. You can only read so many labels and do so many good deeds. So you make little compromises of your ideals and, let's face it, it's simply one of the costs of living. If you try to live every moment of every day abiding by all your "line in the sand" views on morals and integrity, you're going to find it's a full time job and end up missing out on many of the joys the world has to offer.
And I think it is the second type of hypocrisy that most of the people who scare me suffer from. I think in their lives, during formative years, they were damaged and brainwashed into believing that sex is dirty and wrong. In some cases, apparently, missionary sex is okay when engaged in with a spouse. But missionary sex that can only be performed while married doesn't fulfill everyone's sexual needs -- I'd argue most people's sexual needs, but I don't have the science to back up that statement. Certainly, however, it does nothing to appease the sex drive of the average puberty-crazed teen.
So, when these people experiment to find pleasure they are self-tortured and filled with shame. It pushes them to desperate acts -- like sexually harassing the family pet. This is so hard for my mind to wrap around. I've been touching myself since before I could spell and I was never once made to think it was dirty or wrong. I never got that memo. The idea that someone could feel that way by acts I consider as necessary as breathing ... it must be a tremendous burden to bear.
Now, obviously, most people don't engage in sex acts with animals as a major outlet, no matter what Mr. Horsley has convinced himself of. But I'm sure there are those who feel that masturbation or premarital sex makes them just as filthy as fucking a mule. Their shame must be palpable and the pent frustration it produces must be funneled into other outlets. For some, obviously, it crystallizes into a cause.
Causes can be healthy (Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation), but they can also be a pulpit for tunnel-vision crazies (:::cough::: Fred Phelps :::cough:::). And the validity of rallying cries is tainted by the nature of the cause. For those who are sexually crippled by shame, it would appear that the rallying cry is to influence and limit/prohibit the potential actions of others.
In their minds, it must make sense. They have learned from their sins. The joy they experience now is a sense of social fulfillment that replaces sexual release. And I'm sure, in their minds, they must think they're trying to save the rest of us from the pain and self-torment they've experienced.
Obviously, enough Americans (I refuse to believe the majority) have sufficient levels of this shame hiding within them to feel beholden and afraid of sexual freedoms. And, like all fears, these spring from ignorance.
The mainstream sex industry isn't going to be what gets through to these people. Streaking pranks and topless car washes don't address the problem. It will not make these people any more comfortable with their bodies or their personal sexual inclinations. It won't make them feel any less dirty inside. It isn't going to be accomplished through bombardment. I think the healthy celebration of sexual freedom we've seen over the last 30 years has served as inspiration for the backlashes we're experiencing today.
We all celebrated OUR joys of sexuality and sensual expression, but we forgot about those who are more reserved, uncomfortable, or traumatized by sex. And the most horrific of all of this is the realization that we've allowed fundamentalists to continue their insurgency into our educational system. Basic sexual education has been under fire for centuries and organizations like Scarleteen can only reach so many.
It's probably too late to change the minds of those we're fighting against now. But we have to keep this lesson close and make sure we're getting through to kids -- even kids in "the heartland." Sex is not wrong. I'd almost like to get in a car and drive through Iowa spray-painting it on the sides of barns just to get the people talking about it who need it the most.
Without the guilt and stranglehold fundamentalists hold over their base, there wouldn't be a culture war. Because, let's face it, we can argue our political differences all day, but when the big guns want to distract from actual civic issues, they always play the sex card.
If people weren't terrified of becoming homosexuals (or being labeled as one) then there would be no reason in their minds to restrict gay rights. And that's the key. We've got to defuse the sex card so that there's no place to go with it; no fear to garner and no shame to exploit. We've got to liberate these people from their own shells. We've got to remove the stigma and the shame.
At least that's my theory.
How to accomplish it? Aye, there's the rub. But I have to admit, I feel somewhat more empowered understanding the problem for the first time.
Enlightenment achieved by listening to an anti-abortionist talk about getting it on in the barn. That's got to be a new one.
April 09, 2005
Fortune makes him fool, whom she makes her darling. ~ Francis Bacon
A friend forwarded me a bio of Brian Darling from a couple years ago. For those of you not yet familiar with the name, this is the lawyer/staffer who is taking the fall over the Schiavo memo. The one that all the neo-con pundits claimed was another forged liberal document to make the right look opportunisitc. Which was fine until Mel Martinez had to cop to it and give Darling the heave-ho.
Darling has been a busy little bee it turns out, doing far more than memo writing. The idea the right is trying to spin that he is just some over-zealous intern is yet another in-your-face lie that politicians today don't seem to have any problem telling. Can we please go back to the days when the lies politicians told had to at least be plausable to anyone with the most minimal research capabilities?
Darling was a partner in the Alexander Strategy Group, according to stories which pre-date this the memo thing (do a Google). To make it even more fun, The Alexander Strategy Group was founded by -- wait for it -- Tom DeLay's former chief of staff and employs (or employeed) Christine DeLay, Tom's wife. Although it's not perfectly clear who she worked directly for, she was being *paid* by the ASG.
And while you're running a Google on these topics, throw in the word "Enron" and possibly the word "lobbying" as well. Enron was ASG's biggest client.
(I love the way neo-cons keep saying that Tom DeLay is being tried on nothing more than than guilt by association. Wasn't their basis for exploring the Clintons that too much shady association needs exploring? You don't hear a lot of that "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion" lip service so much from their camp these days.)
ASG's website doesn't list Darling as a current partner, but he was listed in February 2004. Kinda makes you wonder if he'll head back there now that he's written the memo of shame.
Props to Molehill
April 07, 2005
Pope on a Rope
Stupidity is also a gift of God... ~ Pope John Paul II
I have to admit that even though some of the people I love are Catholics, I have no respect for the institution. I, like Bill Maher, find the choice to adhere to an out-of-date and hypocritical religion to be a form of mild mental illness.
How you can read and study the Bible and come up with the doctrine of the Catholic church bewilders and stuns me. How you can be in a mindset that is hundreds of years behind the evolution of mankind and still have a large chunk of the world population by the seat of their collective guilt -- well, that's just emotional blackmail, not spiritualism.
So when all the blather began about the legacy of Pope John Paul II, I started to cringe. And I just kept on cringing. Then, today, I went to catch up on Andrew Sullivan and I remembered why I started reading him in the first place. Andrew may frustrate the hell out of me from time to time, but he says a lot of things that mainstream pundits are afraid to say. His critical analysis of the real legacy of this pope needs to be shouted among the wailing.
This will not stop him from being canonized and it certainly does not make him 100% a monster, but it may be that a little perspective could be one more step in realizing that just because we want someone to be a hero, that doesn't make them one.
Key facts Andrew reminds us of:
"Under John Paul II (and his predecessors), the Roman Catholic church presided over the rape and molestation of thousands of children and teenagers. Under John Paul II, the church at first did all it could to protect its own and to impugn and threaten the victims of this abuse. Rome never acknowledged, let alone take responsibility for, the scale of the moral betrayal...Here was a man who lectured American married couples that they could not take the pill, who told committed gay couples that they were part of an "ideology of evil," but acquiesced and covered up the rape of minors."
"Since 1975, the number of priestly ordinations in the U.S. declined from 771 a year to 533 last year. (In 2000, the number hit a low of 442.) When you adjust for population growth, in 1975, 771 newly ordained priests faced a Catholic population of 49 million; today, 533 emerge for a total of 64 million Catholics. Essentially, per Catholic, we saw a 50 percent drop in vocations under this Pope...The number of parishes without priests went from 23 percent of all parishes in 1975 to 25 percent in 2000. In the U.S., weekly church attendance has slowly but inexorably declined to well below 50 percent of all Catholics. The decline in religious orders has been particularly steep: down by over 30 percent. And all this understates the crisis facing the American church, because almost half the current priesthood is over 60 - and their replacements are in shorter and shorter supply."
The Worst TV The PTC Has Ever Seen
Censorship, like charity, should begin at home, but unlike charity, it should end there. ~ Clare Boothe Luce
The Parents' Television Council has strummed together a bunch of clips they deem as the worst television moments from 2001-2004. They've removed all context and included a long-winded "we're warning you, no, we're REALLY warning you, and just to be sure, we're warning you again," introduction. Maybe it's just me, but if these clips are the worst TV has to offer, I'm failing to see what all the fuss is about.
However, I do plan to play the clip ten or twenty times a day off the site to run up their bandwidth. Maybe it'll be one less dime they can spend on their other plans.
Most of this is off-color humor (South Park), pushing-the-envelope sex (Nip/Tuck) and violence (The Shield), or just bad reality TV and award show antics. Oddly, no news clips of subject matter concerning things like the torture scandal of Abu Ghraib were included. Apparently, sex and violence and off-color humor isn't offensive if it's real.
According to the PTC, children could watch this stuff and grow up to have sex, engage in violence, and/or develop a taste for bad reality TV. Their goal is that this must be stopped at all costs. And, while discouraging future bad reality TV junkies is admirable, think of what this kind of energy could accomplish if it invested itself in something like, say, education programs that teach kids conflict resolution, or alternative after-school children's physical activity programs so that kids aren't camped out in front of televisions for hours on end.
No. Because of course, that doesn't stop the adults that want to watch this stuff. And that's what really cheeses these people off. It's not that kids could see this stuff -- kids see this stuff and worse on network news. Kids squish insects to see what guts look like. Kids in inner-cities and places of crisis see visions on their own street corners that make this stuff look like a Disney movie. The PTC uses "we must protect the children" as their mantra, but what they really want to do is limit the freedom of other adults to engage in watching sex, violence, and bad reality TV.
When I was a kid the screams of woe (and, sadly, the insanity came equally from Democrats and Republicans alike, along with their annoying spouses) largely centered on Prince music or the concern that we were all going to grow up and kill people because Bugs and Daffy and Tom and Jerry made violence funny.
Inexplicably, the vast majority of us grew up without sporking the lunch lady or masturbating to magazines in hotel lobbies (Hilton children aside).
I don't think anyone believes that children should be watching most of these clips. But as any parent will tell you the age at which a child is a child varies with the individual. I was reading Stephen King at 9 and drinking in horror movies during the height of the hack and slash era long before any of my peers. As for sex? Well, yeah, I got a jump start on that, too. And while my current manner of employment might be controversial, I never plotted to blow up a state building, or have orgies with the high school football team. I did, however, grow up to have a very successful corporate consulting career before altering my lifestyle and settling into the only lucrative work-at-home industry that truly exists. I pay my taxes and vote in elections. And you know what? All my friends do, too.
And the only people in my life that I have lost to drugs, violence, and/or mental instability? They were all raised in religion-focused family units where shame was emphasized as a staple of daily life. So, you'll forgive me if TV profanity takes a backseat in my book to the dangers of irresponsible parenting or the social pressures of hardline religion.
Obviously most kids shouldn't come into contact with hardcore pornography or ultra-violence scenes. But some children will and when they do, the answer isn't banning it across the board, but being a rational adult putting the sex and/or violence into proper perspective and minimizing whatever small traumas might have taken root. That it may be difficult and/or slightly embarrassing comes with that whole parental gig. Where did these people start thinking it was all little league, spelling bees, and Disney trips? Apart from letting your kid be a kid, you're also preparing them to enter the real world where sex and violence happen every day and have since caveman Oog and cave woman Goo first realized it felt good to rub their naughty bits together.
All of this, of course, is in addition to the notion that it is the parents' actual responsibility to monitor what their child watches, regardless of whether or not they think the task is monumental. The television networks are not babysitters and if they are, there is a larger problem at work than what's on TV.
Oh -- and that argument about not knowing what your kids are watching at their friends' houses? That's another one of those things you're supposed to do as a parent -- check out the places where your kids spend time.
With all the childproofing tools available today from cable boxes and v-chips and other such nonsense, is there any doubt that fundamentalist Right organizations like this one are only sending millions of complaints to the FCC as a means to do nothing more than impose their morality on the rest of us regardless of whether or not the children are protected?
America needs to wake up and curb the FCC's power now while we still can and we need to send a message to organizations like the PTC that if they really want to protect children, then they need to go do that. There are a million different ways to improve the lives and minds of today's youth without infringing upon the rights of adults.
By giving a government agency the right to censor and impose morality via fines at the behest of organizations such as this, we're surrendering the right to our own judgment little by little.
March 24, 2005
Why Is It Always Florida?
Religion the opium of the masses. ~ Karl Marx
From the LA Times:
"While the senators were debating, Gov. Bush announced that the state was attempting to gain custody of Schiavo in order to investigate allegations that she had been neglected and exploited. He said that Dr. William P. Cheshire, a Florida neurologist, had filed a supporting affidavit arguing that Schiavo might be more correctly diagnosed as "minimally conscious" and thereby legally entitled to life support."
And just in case you had any doubts about the personal views held by Dr. Cheshire, may I present a poem from Dr. William P. Cheshire entitled Exit Ramp.
This is not for the weak or the politically correct, but sometimes you have to be able to laugh at the freakshow that is life.
Can anyone tell me if a single reporter has asked what possible motivation the doctors who are actually accountable for their diagnoses might have for trying to kill this woman? These people are basically being accused of gross negligence and/or murder. Has any person with a press badge considered asking what their motivation for such behavior could be?
March 22, 2005
Cat On A Hot Tin Feeding Tube
A man's dying is more the survivors affair than his own. ~ Thomas Mann
Well, thank goodness Bush’s medical malpractice tort reform agenda hadn’t passed back in 1993 when Michael Schaivo won his malpractice lawsuit (later settled, on appeal) against Terri’s doctors. And thank God she wasn’t ever moved to a Texas facility.
Otherwise the money to keep Terri “alive” would have run out years ago and under chapter 166 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, that means the hospital would have had the right to end life support the moment she ran out of money even over the objections of her family members or legal guardian.
I wonder if Florida being a political "battleground" state makes it more important to placate Neo-Con fundamentalist Christians in this state more than in, say, Texas.
The stench of this week’s bout of Congressional mendacity would have driven Big Daddy off his nut.
And don't forget to FIND OUT HOW YOUR CONGRESSPERSON VOTED.
From a certain standpoint, you have to admire the Neo-Con operation here. This is a victory for them no matter how it turns out. If Terri lives they can rejoice in their triumph over whatever it is they claim to triumph over. If she dies then it's just one more horrible way to prove logic-obsessed heathens have taken over our court systems.
And the other side has no victory. There is no way to rejoice because a woman has been allowed to die after existing 15 years as a breathing corpse.
What is the victory of a woman on a hot tin feeding tube? There isn't one. I know -- I shouldn't employ Tennessee in this when we all know it's Clint Eastwood that will eventually take the fall for Terri Schaivo. Radical Hollywood liberal that he is.
I don't advise reading on below unless you want to hear a very un-sexy true story regarding why this case annoys the living fuck out of me.
When I was a teenager my uncle was hit by a drunk driver. He was an on-duty cop and that meant the city was obligated to foot the hospital bill.
When we first arrived at the emergency room, he was unrecognizable and broken into so many pieces it took his doctor a good long spell to detail all the things that were perforated, smashed, and traumatized. His body looked like meat held together with chicken wire and duct tape. He was conscious for the first day and even made a brief joke about the loss of his hair (which had been ripped from his scalp after he'd lost his helmet and skidded head-first down the street for who knows how many feet -- his scalp had actually peeled itself away in places so think about that the next time you ride without a helmet YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE). That night, tho he suffered a stroke and passed into a coma. They had to cut out part of his skull because his brain was swelling. After a few days the doctors feared he was lasping into a persistent vegetative state, and a couple weeks later tests proved that was exactly the case. His body healed to a point. His brain never did.
His wife was unprepared and unwilling to accept the words "unable to recover." And even though my parents made it expressly clear to me that this was hopeless, they never once let on to his wife that they felt this way. It was left to the doctors to try their best to convince her that he was never going to improve or have any quality of life.
And let's make one thing perfectly clear.
We are not talking about a handicapped or disabled life; his was a life that had passed on in every way other than a few cogs that continued to tick in place. Trying to morph individuals in this state into a debate on disabled rights is a sick exercise in misdirection.
But in my uncle's case, as I said, the city was footing the bill, so his wife ignored the doctors for a few months. Meanwhile, my uncle melted -- that is the only way to explain what happened to his body. His muscles atrophied despite attempts to keep them limber. He became sallow. There was nothing in this breathing ghost that reminded me of my uncle. But still no one in my family would confront what needed to be done. Because like so many parents who can't talk to their kids truthfully about sex, sometimes people hide best when life faces them most square.
Amid this atmosphere of confusing denial very odd things happened with my uncle's body (including a funny-later-but-not-at-the-time incident where I accidentally knocked the switch to deflate the air bed he was kept on -- slapstick and anything but hilarity ensued). But the kicker for me happened one night when I was on watch duty alone (it fell to habit that the members of my family and fellow police officers took turns "sitting" with my uncle on a strange vigil rotation). I will never forget it as long as I live. My uncle's eyes opened and he appeared to look straight at me.
Now I have never been a religious person, but I have to tell you that the word "miracle" was the first thing to enter my mind at that minute. I screamed for nurses -- I began talking at him a million miles a minute and I was in the truest sense of any teenage girl that ever lived having a full-on tizzy.
The nurse tried to explain to me that it wasn't a sign of consciousness, but I was hysterical and so much hope had run in at once that I didn't hear her -- I couldn't hear her. He had LOOKED me me, you see. He hadn't just opened his eyes, but he had opened his eyes and they had fixed on me. I can still remember everything from those few moments as clear as anything I've ever experienced.
So when some poor doctor got rousted from his shift to come and calm me down and bring me back to Earth, I had no intention of trying to understand or accept any word that came out of his mouth. Bless his heart, he tried anyway. He brought me coffee and gave me a very gentle lecture about things like reactivity and perceptivity. But it just wouldn't digest in my mind. So, I did what any know-it-all geek girl might have done. I studied on my own. I called other doctors. And if anyone -- ANYONE had given me so much as an inkling of false hope to hold onto over those next few days I might have never surrendered to the reality of the situation.
I don't think my bout of hope caused anyone to keep him on life support longer, but it certainly didn't help resolve anything sooner. There was too much grief to get your head around and it's such a dismal thing to cope with. It took time. Sometimes his eyes would open. It was never a response to a stimuli. It was never a sign of life. Had it been anything remotely resembling a sign, my family would have latched onto it like their own lifeline and kept his body going forever. He wasn't the kind of uncle you hope drowns in the tub so you never have to see him again. He was the beloved one that made everyone laugh. He was a joyful being. But he was over and the thing that replaced him wasn't living in any sense of the way he did.
It took three more months for the family to agree to end life support; I cannot imagine what the final hospital bill was to the city, but it had to be a mint. Surprisingly when the machines were turned off, his body continued to breathe; if you had looked at what was left of him, you wouldn't have believed the lumps of flesh and bone that were left were capable of sustaining a single breath. It took eight days for him to completely expire and after months of denial those eight days were a god-awful long time to wait for the first step toward closure. And for those of you who have never attended a policeman's funeral, I'm here to tell you, it's an emotional roller coaster unto itself.
Because of this experience, at some point months and months ago, the Schaivo case became bitterly painful for me (my friends have had to listen to far too many ongoing rants on how much this case upsets me) -- the meddling and the false information being circulated about the type of condition she is in -- and propping up a human being in this state as an icon of pro-life or disabled rights has made me pysically ill. But, like all cases of outrage, there is a point where you reach the height of your capacity and since then I've been able to disengage emotionally as the news cycle intensifies. It's hard to be that outraged about the same thing over and over and over again. At some point you just get numb so that you can cope.
Unfortunately, I don't believe in hell, but if there is anything akin to one, I hope there is a special room set aside within it for every person attempting to gain political points off this situation. And, of course, as with any speical room in hell, may Bill Frist, MD be forced to lick the sweat off the brow of HIV+ beings for all eternity within it.
March 14, 2005
A Good Day
"It appears that no rational purpose exists for limiting marriage in this state to opposite-sex partners..."
"The state's protracted denial of equal protection cannot be justified simply because such constitutional violation has become traditional..."
~ San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer
One small step for the Constitution in Bushworld.
March 06, 2005
It's Not TV...It's HBO (For Now)
Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself. ~ Potter Stewart
"Exactly: Freedom is fluid. It's a bone-chillingly cold new morning in red- state dominated America. Indecency crackdowns are big-play politics. The FCC is raising fines. The Parents Television Council -- among others -- has proven influence. And now Stevens has -- in public, without smirking -- declared that he believes Congress has the power to control more than just the over-the-air broadcasters it currently has jurisdiction over. He wants to control content on pay cable and satellite. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Stevens said, "The problem is most viewers don't differentiate between over-the-air and cable.
Clearly, this is a man who doesn't pay for HBO."
I'm not going to get into a rant on how hideously corrupt the FCC is. What I will say is that Congress, even this one, has GOT to fix the unconstitutional powers the FCC now holds. Either go back and amend the document via proper channels, or stop with this skirt-the-rules bullshit.
Granted, I come from a long line of Southern Democrats, but I don't call myself one. I accept that I am considered a "liberal" but, in truth, I feel I am a moderate. The things I believe in are not off the wall and I think they are more "in touch" with the mainstream than some would have us believe. I hold that once this tide of Christian Right has ebbed back from its current place of power, some sense will be re-instituted.
Hey, I'm an optimist.
But the mistake of letting the FCC dictate morality has got to be fixed. It's even worse for free speech than 1973's dismal Miller v. California Supreme Court fiasco. It's been 80 fucking years since this FCC morality blank check was issued. SOMEONE needs to try and take FCC v. Pacifica back to the big room. Especially since they're following this current trend of letting political carpet bombing tactics by organizations like the Parents Television Council define their rule of thumb. Just because you've got 100 members that have nothing better to do than send 40 emails a day shouldn't give you a bigger voice than the MILLIONS of Americans who demonstrate their voice by PAYING ACTUAL MONEY FOR THE SERVICE THEY WANT.
We are facing a government that doesn't want to abide by what the people demonstrate they want, but what a vocal minority THINKS the country should want.
Does the Republican Party even vaguely remember what it is supposed to stand for?
Lloyd Axworthy vs Condi
There is nothing to fear except the persistent refusal to find out the truth, the persistent refusal to analyze the causes of happenings. ~ Dorothy Thompson
"I invite you to expand the narrow perspective that seems to inform your opinions of Canada by ranging far wider in your reach of contacts and discussions. You would find that what is rising in Canada is not so much anti-Americanism, as claimed by your and our right-wing commentators, but fundamental disagreements with certain policies of your government. You would see that rather than just reacting to events by drawing on old conventional wisdoms, many Canadians are trying to think our way through to some ideas that can be helpful in building a more secure world."
Dr. Lloyd Axworthy:
* Nobel Peace Prize Nominee
* Past-Director of the Liu Centre for the Study of Global Issues
* Appointed President of the University of Winnipeg
* First elected to Parliament in 1979
* Served as Minister of Employment and Immigration, Minster of Transport, Minister of Human Resources Development and Minister of Western Economic Diversification.
* Instrumental in Canada's successful candidacy for membership on the United Nations Security Council
* Appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada (2003)
December 03, 2004
Upon Further Review: Holiday Spirits All Around
You ever get something off your chest and immediately feel better about it?
This is the benefit of having a blog – even one updated as rarely as mine. You bitch, you feel a bit better, mission accomplished. The bottom line, I suppose, is that I don’t know what the next four years will mean domestically. I don’t know how far this push on behalf of the religious right is going to test our civil rights and our sexual freedoms. I do know that they’re fighting against progress and if history teaches us anything, it’s that fighting social evolution is a losing battle. I’m not giving up any of my rights, or those of others quietly. And I will not tolerate it without making a little rumble of my own. All the FCC fines in the world won’t change the fact that we have advanced in our social behavior from the 1950s and trying to turn back the dial is dangerous and impracticable. So, you know, hope springs eternal and all that. If you feel like I do, join the ACLU. Write your congressperson. Don’t sit quietly and politely when someone chips away at things you hold dear. We’ve all been tolerating too long. Agreeing to disagree. It doesn’t work. Those of us that have the decency to live and let live have been losing ground to those who want to dictate morality. We’ve got some catching up to do. It’s easy to effect change by censoring and suing and fining. The hard work involves processes like education, treatment, communication. Yeah. It’s going to be an interesting four years. We’ve got our work cut out.
But for now, enough of that. I’m not Wonkette. My politics are personal and hardly the main thrust of my life. I’m just a phone sex slut, and what’s a phone sex slut going to do? Mope all thru December? Na.
Okay. So it’s the start of December. Salt over my shoulder. Black cats off my porch. Joy juju and happy thoughts engaged. I’ve decided to make an effort to get into the swing of the holidays. I’m flighty like that. Woman’s prerogative. Besides, it’s no fun being Ebenezer Scrooge. Sure, it’s been a wickedly twisted year. Between hurricanes and election results a little jingling of bells here and there is definitely due.
As I sort of muttered at the end of Tuesday’s entry, I’ve vented some of my frustrations in writing An XXXmas Karol. It’s sarcasm-laced political farce and full-fledged Daddy’s girl incest all rolled into one. Beat that with a stick.
For those of you looking for other holiday erotica there is my delightfully warped and somewhat cruel Boxing Day tale as well as a few selections on Satin Slippers that are top-notch. These include the roguishly semi-non-consent of Karl’s The Man With The Bag, Circe’s rompishly wicked non-consent Bringing Down Santa, and Kerrie O’Keefe’s sentimentally sweet The Nice Older Man. Hopefully there’s something there to offend and titillate everyone.
And, hey, what’s up with there being no Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Winter Solstice smut stories?
Oh. That reminds me. Yes, I decorate my site for Christmas, but that’s because it’s the flavor of holiday I celebrate this time of year. Please don’t waste time being offended or feeling left out if your culture isn’t represented by my sluttly little site. I just feel it’s hypocritical to try and be all-encompassing. You attempt to please everyone and you end up with hot water instead of soup (anyone else remember that story?). I’m not a Hanukkah girl (although I have friends that let me eat their food -- soofganiot and latkas are nummy). So, you know, it would feel white-bread offensive to toss a few dreidels here and there just for show. /political correctness disclaimer.
Speaking of the decor, some of you may have noticed the succulent window dressing draped on the home page and the logo area of PSD. My Doxy Toons are provided courtesy of Sinai Tendergal. I’m setting up a page for anyone else that might be looking for a little Custom Comix of their own, although to be honest I’d rather keep her all to myself.
Oh, and speaking of art: I WANT I WANT I WANT!
Jack Henslee has managed to get his print gallery back online for Christmas after payment problems earlier in the year forced him to shut down for a while (Do we hate PayPal? Oh, yes we DO!). And there is some major new eye candy to make us cream. I know many of you enjoy his pretty ladies and will likely buy for yourselves and loved ones. Anyone *ahem* wishing *ahem* to put a little tinsel on my tree can just select one of the below and instruct Jack to ship to Doxy – trust me, he knows the addy.
/end annual shameless pleading for mouthwatering masterpieces.
In other holiday shopping news, I’ve added some new reviews for My Pleasure items including the Micro Rocket and Forbidden Fruit. Because, we all need to buzz the ones we love (and don’t forget to love yourself!) ;-)
*sigh* I want some Farm Stores eggnog. God I miss civilization. Eggnog and homemade snickerdoodles. Ungh.
Okay. No more food fantasy moments. On to phonesex slut movie reviews.
Recently, I bought and watched three different movies based on Koji Suzuki’s book, The Ring. The American film incarnation of The Ring, the Japanese version, Ringu, and the Korean version, The Ring Virus.
I like foreign films. And, unlike other genres, mainstream thrillers in different markets really reflect interesting aspects of their respective cultures. Art films are often about a guise. Thrillers can encompass more nitty gritty everyday matter.
To start with, I re-watched the American version that most are familiar with. I consider it an all-around good film. Creepy in the right places, dreary and somber on the whole for a perfect sense of atmosphere. The jump-out-and-getcha parts were reserved for the right moments. Not quite horror, not quite thriller. Mostly compelling if not completely unique in style. The horse drowning element felt awkward to me and the middle of the movie lagged because of it, especially during some of the “put the pieces of the puzzle together” steps that came off as forced. But, I thought upon this viewing as I had when it first came out, that it pulled off what it attempted to accomplish. The sophistication of the character relationships was its greatest strength. Underplayed and developed at a slow boil.
In contrast, Ringu was the most disappointing of the three for me. The Japanese counterpart of the main female character played by Naiomi Watts in the American version is a very different woman. Reiko Asakawa is more a damsel in distress than a strong, single working mother and hard-edged journalist. Even her beyond-his-years son seems more respected than she does. As such, she comes off as much more dependant upon her ex-husband to walk her through solving the mystery. Apparently, being a smug, superior, absentee father still allows one to be a hero in Japanese cinema. It didn’t work for me. And when this culminated into a scene where the male character had the obligatory slap-the-hysterical-woman sequence I was annoyed out of any enjoyment I’d gleaned from the film. I’m not sure if that’s a statement about the Japanese culture or the lack of understanding toward it on my part, but the dynamic of the main character relationships suffered greatly because of this in my opinion. This version also incorporated the pseudo-science “ESP experiment” subplot that the US version abandoned. To me, I felt the US screenplay was better for getting rid of this clumsy ploy, but it did lose an interesting social element in the process. In the Japanese film, the relationship of man and water (especially the ocean) is far more intimate than the US version. You get a sense that this is a culture with a firm relationship toward the sea. Indeed, it is considered a force all its own to be respected and not toyed with – and there is punishment for taking pleasure in the water. The punishment in this case is a supernatural, arguably malevolent child that is implied to be of demon descent. This parallels the non-supernatural aspect of the story; the child that belongs to the main characters is a punishment of responsibility. However, in weighing the pros and cons of the subtext, I’d have to say that it was worth losing this in order to avoid the cheese factor of the ESP subplot.
The Ring Virus, the Korean take on this story, was surprisingly much more sophisticated than the Japanese version came off (although, as mechanics go, the subtitles were badly translated in areas on my DVD). The main female character, Sun-Ju, has a daughter instead of a son which was a nice twist since there is a very female focus within the story in all incarnations (the main character, the first character to die, the source of the supernatural events, etc). Also, the environment of this film was far more Westernized, which I wasn’t expecting. In one scene, two characters even meet at a McDonalds. Sun-Ju is far more complex than Reiko, but she’s sexually harassed in every aspect of her life. The film starts with her conducting an interview about ancient beliefs on sexuality at an art museum for reasons later explained in the film. Her partner at the newspaper office she works for is a sex-obsessed goofball. Her ex (who is not presented as the father of Sun-Ju’s daughter unless I missed something) is a sexually predatory “I’m so smart everything in life’s a game to me” asshat of the first water. She even has to deal with a creepy run-in with a sexually inappropriate coroner (yes, it’s as twisted as it sounds). All of this together manages to make a statement about the misogynistic slant of sexuality that still prevails in many modern cultures (especially Asian cultures), as well as offer poignant testimony regarding the danger of degrading and closeting those of alternative or minority sexualities (personified by incest and hermaphrodite subplots). Unfortunately, introducing these sexual subplots into the already clumsy mix of supernatural events, renders the overall storyline as overwhelmingly and unnecessarily complicated. On the plus side, this version also preserves the cultural relationship with water. In a choice between this one and the Japanese version, I’d take the Korean flick anytime.
So, if you’re considering placing one of these in the stocking of a movie buff pal, consider Korea’s The Ring Virus in lieu of, or in addition to the much-venerated Ringu. At least that’s my two cents ;-)
I guess that’s all for now. Glad I updated again. Would have hated to leave things on the sour note of my last entry. Ho ho ho and all that jazz.
November 30, 2004
Let's Hope It's a Good One Without Any Fear
This would be the time for a be-of-holiday-cheer update. I’m not in that place.
I’m getting a lot of mail from concerned phone sluts who don’t know where the re-election of the current administration leaves us. Certainly, there would appear to be a positive step in the resignation of Ashcroft, but Gonzales is not a beacon of hope, exactly, especially considering his positions on many civil liberties issues. But the fact is that both liberals and conservatives use anti-porn agendas to their own purposes. Prince fans shouldn’t forget Tipper Gore and her Parents Music Resource Group. The Dems are not always the good guys when it comes to porn. In fact, it’s hard to know who is on our side and who isn’t.
And that’s a fundamental problem when the country seems to be creating a rallying point in their war against all things erotic. It’s not entirely logical to think that we’re in more danger suddenly because Republicans have secured their foothold for another four dismal years. Rather, the danger is in the continued march of fundamentalist Christian doctrine lobbying their way into our government institutions. Indeed, they are now masquerading their prejudices as science.
Over the last few months, we’ve learned that some of the loudest crusaders against homosexuality have homosexual issues themselves, as well as family members that they disenfranchise along with the rest of those they persecute. Likewise, we’ve learned that the most pious spouters of anti-sex propaganda often engage in the services of prostitutes, the company of mistresses, and any number of other activities they seek to deny the rest of us. So why are these people continually given a platform? Why do we let them pass? And is our continued silence an invitation for them to continue to warp the law to fit their own agenda?
Now, because freedom of speech is such a pain in the ass to people trying to tell others how to live their lives, we have the brave new world of Erototoxins. For those of you who don’t read Karl’s Blog the Erototoxin debate is being waged by people like Judith Reisman (do a Google, you’ll love her) who are seeking to prove that porn causes a chemical reaction in the brain that is the equal to the effects of a drug. And, since the government has already begun to regulate what drugs we can and cannot take for recreational purposes, porn, and, indeed, anything that creates such a chemical response, should also be liable for those effects.
They want to be able to sue Hustler for making people “addicted” to porn. They liken this to lawsuits against Big Tobacco. Translation: Who would Jesus sue?
In the history of slippery slopes, this one has the potential to be slicker than Vaseline on linoleum. Think about the level of censorship that is possible if we can attribute it all to chemical reactions in the brain. Pro sports. Sexual fetishes of any nature. Kung Fu movies. Today it’s Erototoxins, but tomorrow it could be Nascartoxins or Hockeytoxins. Porn and all sex trades have always been on the outside of the censorship battles for a reason we are the service that people want, but that society likes to collectively condemn. As such, porn is a desire that needs to be socially defendable “on principle” so that the hard conversations never take place.
But those like me, who hide in the closet, we’re not helping things. It’s hard to reconcile because I’m not a coward at heart. At first this job was transitory. It was fun. It was self-indulgence. Imagine getting paid to do what you love to do. Yes, I know there’s a dark side of the industry, but I also know that there are dark sides to all industry. There ain’t no free.
But I’m a woman with friends and family and a professional career that I might need to fall back on some day. I don’t like the idea of explaining to my father that I talk to men about sex for a living. Nor my grandmother for that matter. I don’t like the idea of sitting across a meeting table being smirked at because someone on the other side objects to my history. It isn’t about shame, but convenience. It’s the path of least resistance. For my family, this is a courtesy. They would be uncomfortable and I prefer to shelter them. For business it is an unfortunate necessity. In the consulting business, reputation is everything. Without my reputation, all my experience can be rendered nill. And I could rage all day that I’m not ashamed and have nothing to apologize for, but that won’t make a potential client meet my price. Flies with honey, as they say.
And even if those were not issues, there would be the safety factor. Being in the closet protects my safety. I’m a woman living in the 21st century and that means I’m more than a little responsible for my own safety and sexual well-being. Choosing to work in this trade should not put me at a higher risk, but it does. Not like erotic dancing or escorts, certainly, but it is something I have to be aware of.
There are a lot of reasons to stay in the closet. It doesn’t affect my self-esteem. It doesn’t hurt any aspect of my life. It isn’t about shame. It’s about smart. If tomorrow jumping out of the closet meant that I could quell this anti-sex propaganda. I’d likely do it, even with the consequences. But as things like senate hearings indicate, my point of view doesn’t matter. I’m the enemy of this particular crusade and, therefore, suspect. I’m a carrier of Erototoxins and part of the disease they’re so eager to diagnose.
So it is up to the non-sex workers. Will they write to their congresspersons and complain about the use of Senate time and money on examining things like Erototoxins when we’re in the middle of a war? With all the problems facing us in terms of real disease and crime, is this really where the focus should be?
I don’t get to make that decision.
So, those of you who have written concerned about what this means, well, I don’t have the magic answers. I’m staying in business until I can no longer stay in business. I’m a card-carrying member of the ACLU. I’m writing my representatives to let them know that I disapprove of their participation in pushing a fundamentalist agenda in lieu of legitimate governing. And I’m going to keep talking to men about taboo, edge-pushing erotica. Because it’s what I like to do and fuck them anyway.
I shall endeavor to have a post up soon that engages in proper amounts of holiday cheer. But, you know, it’s my blog and I’ll bitch if I want to.
For the moment, if it’s holiday cheer you’re gunning for, you’ll have to settle for my new story, An XXXmas Karol. It does its part to offend your inner Santa.