Chris's blog

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The Shrinking Public Square

If you want to get a good idea of what we're on about with the title of this website and why the concept of "the public square" is so important to us, go on over to Audacia Ray's site, Waking Vixen. You should be doing that anyway, but if you haven't been checking her out recently, she's had some experiences lately that illustrate neatly the realities and risks of talking publicly about sex.

  • First of all, Dacia tried last month to open an account at Citibank for her business, Waking Vixen Productions. After filling out the preliminary paperwork, she received a voicemail delicately informing her that her line of business made them unable to take her account.
  • Then, early this month, she got a similar notice from iTunes, notifying her that her podcast, Live Girl Review, could no longer be included in their directory. ITunes was less direct than Citibank, saying only that podcasts could be excluded "for a variety of reasons." On checking out their podcast spec sheet, she found "strong prevalence of sexual content"  included among the possible reasons that Apple can kick you to the curb.
  • And just last week, Google yanked her Google Checkout account, barely twenty-four hours after she'd put her new short film The Love Machine up for sale. According to the e-mail Google sent Dacia, "the products or services [she's] selling on [her] website are considered ‘Restricted’ per our policy- Adult goods and services."

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Chutzpah!

The classic example of chutzpah, the Yiddish word for brazen gall, is that of a man who, after being convicted for killing both his parents, throws himself on the mercy of the court on the grounds that he's an orphan. Everyone in every culture in the world has experienced chutzpah, but to my knowledge, only Yiddish nails it so precisely. The beauty of so many Yiddish words is that you don't have to actually know what they mean to understand them completely when used. Yiddish is one of the most emotionally onomatopoetic languages ever invented.

Another example of chutzpah that rivals even the archetypal parricide is that of the Chassidic Jews in Brooklyn who've recently gotten into a snit because "scantily clad" women ride their bicycles on the bike routes along the bike paths on the streets running through the South Williamsburg area:

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Bitch Magazine Needs Help

This item  seems to have become so well-distributed since I saw it yesterday that it feels almost redundant to write it up, but for those of you who haven't seen it yet: Bitch magazine is in severe economic straits. They need to raise $40k by October 15 if they're going to put out the next issue of the magzine.

It's kind of stating the obvious that feminism right now would look a lot different if Bitch hadn't been around for the last twelve years. Ms. Magazine has, in my opinion, been irrelevant and out of touch for years, and even though I still sometimes find a certain bourgeois priggishness towards sexuality in some of their articles, Bitch in general has been indispensible in keeping a vital, accessible discussion about gender, politics, and pop culture going. It would be a shame to lose it. Read more here and donate here.

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Deliciously Naughty Tips About Pregnant Kink

Blogger Deliciously Naughty has recently found herself knocked up and on the very brink of adding a third member to her household (how the hell did that happen, DN?). Whether you know DN in real life or only through her writing, you know how much she loves her kink, and pregnancy adds extra challenges to vanilla sexuality, never mind activities like bondage and flogging, and literature on the practicalities of dealing with those desires and practices is rare at best. Ironically, once women enter the role of mother, it makes it even more important for them to be well-behaved and chaste.

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The Price of Pleasure

A new anti-porn documentary, The Price of Pleasure, has just been released and is being promoted via a few small showings across the country. There's been some buzz on this one for a while; Chyng Sun, the director, has written about the work in progress in left-wing outlets such as Counterpunch for several years, and I've seen allusions to it by both Robert Jensen and Gail Dines. For those of you who have either seen or heard about Noam Chomsky's recent anti-porn statements, that video apparently comes from this scene. As iamcuriousblue points out, there seems to be a huge divide in how the film is presented in its press package and the tone set by the trailer and clips on the website. The press synopsis explicitly makes the film out to be one that looks at porn through a filter of calm, unbiased rationality:

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Media Necrophilia on the Body of a 'One-Legged Hooker'

I'm going to give a mixed response to Reneé at Womanist Musings today. On the one hand, props on her masterful, passionate analysis of the media coverage of the murder of Elizabeth Acevedo, a 38-year-old disabled woman who worked as a prostitute. Avecedo was fatally struck on the head in the hallway of her apartment building, possibly by a client. And like I say, I have to give props to Reneé for her post, but part of me is pissed at her for ruining my otherwise excellent mood. Acevedo's death is tragic enough in itself, but the coverage of her death is just damn ugly. In particular, the gossip site Bossip describes her death as "comedy gold." Acevedo lost a leg in a train accident several years ago; therein lies the humor of her too-early death, and it seems that newswriters can't use the phrase "one-legged hooker" quite enough, as though 38 years can be summed up in those three words.

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Ren on Feministe: Sex Work is Not a Monolith and Is Not "Selling Yourself"

Ren has two more posts up as part of her guestblogging stint at Feministe . They both address issues that seem like they should be stunningly obvious to anyone with progressive politics and who sees sex workers as human beings, but they turn out to be hornet's nests of controversy:

The Problem With Creating a Monolith:

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Ren Speaks About Sex Work at Feministe

There are very few things that give me hope these days, but one of them is that Renegade Evolution has landed herself a guestblogging gig at Feministe this week, writing about sex work activism.  She's already written three incisive, orderly posts, one giving an overview of the issues pertaining to sex work activism and her own personal beliefs about it; the second is a basic guide to the philosophy of harm prevention, especially as applied to sex work, and the third speaks out about decriminalization. They're both very orderly, intelligent pieces, but the thing that makes me most optimistic is that so far, neither seems to have triggered the weird, hysterical blend of erotophobia and misogyny that masquerades as "radical" feminism.

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1984 in 2008

Kudos to belledame for spotting this quote about sex and authoritarianism from George Orwell's 1984, which explains much of life in the modern world.
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Madness on the Interwebz

Ethan Persoff'sSimple citizens of Grenada welcome their American rescuers. personal website is one of the best rationalizations for the existence of the Internet. In addition to being a talented cartoonist himself, Persoff has compiled a fascinating archive of comics history that includes some incredible specimens of pop culture that typically falls through the cracks. His collection includes a complete set of comics produced by Alcoholics Anonymous between 1968 and 1974;

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