Arts & Culture
As a Jewish man, like it or not, my identity within the Jewish community as both a man and a Jew is defined by the fact of my circumcision. Even though I am Jewish first because my mother is Jewish, at least according to the tradition accepted by most of the Jewish communities in the world, I entered God’s covenant with Abraham, became fully a member of my own people, only after my foreskin was removed, and for the first fifteen or so years of my life, I romanticized the moment of that cutting. Imagining a bloodless ceremony saturated with self-conscious majesty, I saw my boy’s body wrapped warmly and securely in a blanket, held peacefully at ease in the lap of my Uncle Max, smiling drunk on the wine-soaked cloth I’d been given to suck on to dull the (as it was explained to me by my grandmother) very small pain I would feel. Prayers were uttered over my flesh, and after the cutting was done, my membership in the covenant, not to mention into the community of Jewish manhood, was celebrated with food and drink. I pictured myself being passed lovingly among the guests, cuddled and coddled as they talked about the man I would grow up to be.
Serious domestic/intimate partner violence trigger in the first few paragraphs.
Sitting on my bed with her back against the wall, my lover—who’s come to visit during my first year of graduate school—tells me that she’s at last made her decision: she’s going to study fine art. I should be happy for her, but I’m suddenly listening from a place so deep inside myself that the sounds leaving her mouth no longer coalesce into meaningful units. There is a moment of blankness, and then, as if someone else has taken control of my brain, I am forced to watch a vision of myself getting up from the chair where I’ve been sitting, putting one hand around my lover’s throat, holding her against the wall, and slapping her face back and forth with my other hand until she is senseless and bloody. I see myself screaming in her ear, letting her drop to the floor, and kicking her in the stomach as hard as I can. In the vision, my mouth moves but no words come out.
Hi everyone! My name is Richard Jeffrey Newman, and I am a friend and colleague of Elizabeth's. She and I talked about my blogging here on SitPS some time ago, but it's only recently that I have turned my attention (actually, returned my attention is more accurate) to material that would be appropriate to post here. Before I start doing so, though, I thought I should tell you a little bit about myself and my work. Pretty much everything I write about gender and sexuality is rooted in some way in my experience as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, by two different men, at two very different points in my life. At the time, this is more than 30 years ago, the only people who were talking at all about child sexual abuse, or pretty much any kind of sexual abuse, were feminists; and so it was through feminism that I found a vocabulary to name not only what had happened to me, but also how I wanted to live in my body in response to what those men had done to me.
The tank top is a lovely apple green. I tried it on with a long matching over shirt, did my usual pantomime of chalk board writing to see if it was comfortable, scrutinized it to see if the over shirt hung in such a way as to avoid showing the contours of my nipples, visible through the tank top, was satisfied, and left the store.
I put it on one morning, paired with some new light grey jeans, and wore it to work. I got several compliments on the color and also a few glances that made me self-conscious. I ignored them as best I could. I did not try to wear the shirt again for a while. Some weeks later I put it on again. I stepped into the living room to ask my sweetheart Will what he thought. I turned this way and that, put my hands on my hips, brushing the overshirt aside as I do in class sometimes, took a few turns, and waited for his reaction: "It's a bit nipply." I took it off. I have not worn it to work since.
I don't want to wear my nipples to work. I don't want to deal with people looking, looking away, and looking back. I don't want to worry about whether they think I am a hippie or a slut. I wouldn't care if they thought the former but I would be afraid that if they thought the latter they would think it in the erotophobic, judgmental, shaming kind of way that I do so much to resist.
Several years ago I gave up on wearing bras. This was not a political move, at least not initially. It was about my own physical comfort. I have never found a bra that fits well, looks good under clothes, and feels comfortable for more than a couple hours. Since I have never been physically uncomfortable without a bra, I decided to forego them. At first I only went without on the weekends. It seemed too risky to go without at work. Then eventually I decided to go without there, as well. It was then that I encountered my nipple dilemma. I had always worn bras that had a bit of padding, and even my apparently steely nipples never showed underneath them. Without a bra, every top presents a challenge. Dark colors and patterns are the easiest. I often wear vests, jackets, or over shirts for extra coverage. Sometimes, as with my apple green combination, even an over shirt doesn't seem like enough. (I have a similar conflict with a light tan t-shirt and matching vest combination.)
I'm sure you recall the 2009 and 2010 Sex Blogger Calendars. While I'm not posing in the 2011, I'm very happy that next year's Sex Blogger Calendar is supporting an organization I care deeply about: Woodhull Freedom Foundation. Woodhull is an organization dedicated to advancing sexual freedom as a basic human right and I am honored to serve on its advisory council. Straight from the Sex Blogger Calendar site, here is Tess's post explaining how the calendar will work this year and how you can participate. I hope you will!
A bit of satire for you by Susie Day
WITH HELP, HETEROSEXUALS CAN BECOME GAY
(PU) A recently released study has found that heterosexuals can, with effort, become gay. Eighty-six percent of a survey group of straight women and men were able, through various forms of reparative therapy, to transform their sexual orientation and achieve “good homosexual functioning.”
Dr. Marvin Flabcock, of the American Psychiatric and Floral Design Association, conducted interviews with 200 former heterosexuals who expressed satisfaction at finally becoming “full human beings.” Dr. Flabcock said that he cannot yet estimate what percentage of the larger heterosexual population can become gay, but that if heterosexuals are “highly motivated,” there is hope. “The secret is self-hatred,” stated Dr. Flabcock. “You’ve really got to loathe yourself if you want to lead a normal life.”
Most of the study’s participants said that, in order to effect their sexual transformation, they used more than one form of reparative therapy, including support groups, individual counseling, or dressing up in monks’ robes and flagellating themselves in deserted grade school restrooms. Many of their sexual conversions were religious in nature.
“Praise Jesus!” cried a recently self-avowed lesbian, one of several study participants who agreed to be interviewed for this article. “For years, I was boy-crazy,sin-soaked, and born-to-breed. But my encounters with the opposite sex were quick, empty, and loveless, and I hated the decadent heterosexual culture. Then, through intensive therapy and daily prayer, I was able to uncover a childhood trauma in which I was once yelled at and made to clean the erasers by a heterosexual math teacher. It really screwed up my sexuality, and gave me terrible math anxiety. But with the help of our Lord Jesus Christ, I saw that girl-on-girl action is part of God’s plan for us. I still can’t do long division, though.”
The message below was sent by PJ Starr and I'm sharing it exactly as it was sent. I hope you can help Desiree Alliance with a donation.
Are you interested in supporting sex worker rights through performance art? Go to http://kck.st/96VUMQ. We are seeking supporters to pledge to donate as little as $5 to support the July 2010 Desiree Alliance conference scholarship program and performance art event "If it happens in Vegas... it's still illegal." The performance “IF IT HAPPENS IN VEGAS… IT'S STILL ILLEGAL" will be our most visible event during the conference and will reveal that not only is sex work unjustifiably subject to law enforcement across the United States that the same applies in the “wild” “party” town of Las Vegas.
Donors will not only get the pleasure of supporting sex workers in a cool way but also get exclusive access to a bunch of photos and video about the conference/performance and event via a passcoded website. People donating $25 or more will be able to access a special blog where we spill the beans about how we organize and strategize. Other supporter premiums include the Soixante-Neuf package (for donors of $69, we send you our underwear!) and the Art Lovers Special ($100 or more, we send you movies made by sex worker advocates and a CD from Mariko Passion).
We have to raise $2500 in total by Friday June 18. Donations are also tax deductible.
From the press release from The Center for Sex & Culture, one of my favorite organizations, comes information about one of the most exciting adult sex education events of the year:
The Center for Sex & Culture, originator of the live Masturbate-a-Thon, will hold its 10th annual fundraising and consciousness-raising event showcasing solo sexuality on May 30, 2010 at its 1519 Mission Street suites. Hosting the event and anchoring its live online webcast will be CSC co-founder and executive director Carol Queen, Ph.D. She will be joined by various celebrity hosts, including icon Nina Hartley (Nina.com), Feminist Porn Awards Winner Courtney Trouble (Nofauxxx.com) and gender queer pornstar Jiz Lee (JizLee.com).
Doors will open at 10 AM for competitors seeking to best the current world time record (currently 9 hours and 58 minutes for males and 7 hours and 6 minutes for females), and the door time for non-competing masturbators is 2 PM. Audience may arrive after 4 PM for the public viewing – voyeur seating ticket price is $25.00.
The event is expected to last until approximately 11 PM and will be web cast live (to viewers over 18 only) from 4 to 9 PM on Tube8.com. Event site Masturbate-a-thon.com historically receives a significant spike of interest and web traffic just before and on the day of the Masturbate-a-Thon. In 2009, between 30,000-60,000 people watched the web cast for all or part of its duration. The official Masturbate-a-Thon has participated in movies and television programs all over the globe.
Businesses, organizations and other entities can sponsor and/or send representatives to the Masturbate-a-Thon. The event also encourages competitive public team challenges in which one organization or business fields a team to challenge another: to date, the most notable challenge has been between a fire department and an ambulance company in Canada.
EVENT AT A GLANCE
What: The Live San Francisco Masturbate-a-Thon
Sponsored by http://www.Tube8.com
When: Sunday, May 30, 2010. Doors open for competitors at 10 AM; for regular participants 2 PM; voyeur seating 4 PM. Event lasts until approximately 11 PM.
Where: 1519 Mission (near 11th), San Francisco
How much: All pledge sheets from sponsors are accepted, however we will also accept $40.00 or more as self-pledges from attendees without sponsors. Voyeur seating is $25.00.
Online access available at Masturbate-a-thon.com or Tube8.com.
Benefits: The Center for Sex & Culture's administrative functions and programming.
A year ago I ran into Karla, a good friend’s twin sister at the hair salon. “You look fantastic!” I said to her. “Is it the new haircut?”
“Well,” she admitted, “I’ve had some work done.”
I was nonplussed. What did getting her patio fixed or her roof repaired have to do with how radiant and youthful-looking she suddenly looked? “No, silly,” another friend chided. “Getting work done means having your face worked on. Not your house. They used to call it a facelift.”
I’m European. When I was a girl, we called getting our period “being unwell.” “Getting work done,” is the new euphemism in my present stomping ground of Beverly Hills, California. But I’ve caught on. Recently, I’ve been ill and haven’t been out much. When I told my husband that I’d become a virtual recluse, he was extremely sympathetic. “It’s because of your bad hip,” he said. “You haven’t been able to drive anywhere.” In Los Angeles, you can’t really get about without a car.
I disabused him. “That’s only half the reason. Because of my hip, I haven’t been able to drive to see Dr. T. And so I can’t face any of my friends.” He scrunched his brow to make a moue. He’s a guy and doesn’t get Dr. T. at all.
There was no sex in skepticism before the women showed up.
Forget Houdini's brooding eyes and dark curls. Forget his personal magnetism. Those were strictly incidental. Forget the amount of skin--well-muscled skin--that he showed in his escapes. That was only to demonstrate he wasn't hiding a key anywhere. Strictly utilitarian. Houdini's appeal to his audience was based entirely on the complexity of his tricks and the calm reasoning he showed when dealing with mediums and spiritualists, and it's a mere coincidence that many of the male faces of the skeptical movement since then have had similar stage experience and heaps of charisma.
When there were no female skeptics at skeptics' meetings and conventions, there was no sex at these gatherings. None of the men attending found any occasion to think about, discuss or have sex. Everything was focused entirely on skepticism and critical thinking, with partying saved for the meetings of lesser souls.
Ridiculous assertions? Yes, and I've deliberately presented them with all the seriousness they deserve. But that doesn't keep this idea from being the unexamined underpinning of one of the current arguments being made in skeptical circles. Stated in its most bald form, it is suggested that women are ruining skepticism by bringing "teh sexy."