Chris's picture

Studs Terkel, 1912 - 2008

On the eve of one of the most important elections in American history, historian and journalist Studs Terkel died last week. His work wasn't specifically geared toward sexuality, but his death is a loss for anyone who's ever felt like their story wasn't being told in the media. Terkel was best known for his oral histories like Working, The Good War, and Hard Times, which recorded the voices of ordinary Americans talking about the effects that major historical events had on their everyday lives. What I liked about him even more than his approach to history, though, was that he was irascible and unapologetic in his commitment to progressive politics.

Caroline's picture

Guest Post: In The Moderation Queue

carolineNatalia and I have a wee blog project going. Here's the blurb:

Some blogs moderate comments to exclude trolls, some to allow a "safe space" for a discussion amongst like-minded people who can develop and strengthen their arguments without fear of ridicule or uninformed or inflamatory criticism. Other blogs, however, use these excuses to silence the 'opposition' and / or refuse them the opportunity of a platform to defend themselves against often distorted or completely untrue statements. This can be not only incredibly annoying, but also stopping questioning and challenging comments stunts any real discussion and even a chance of a possible solution to a problem. 
So, this blog is for those who have attempted to join a discussion and been frustrated, either by having their words ignored or distorted. It is also for those who wish to challenge their own views or to inform their arguments. 
If you would like your moderated comment to be included in this blog, email
Caroline at uncool [DOT] blog [AT] gmail [DOT] com or Natalia at nvantonova [AT] gmail [DOT] com with a link to the post you tried to comment on, a link to your own blog (if you have one, if not no worries), the day you left the comment and, of course, your comment.

Now, let's get one thing straight - no one is doubting how valuable safe spaces are. Some of the blogs I have a massive amount of respect for have had more than one post with comment moderation on to ensure no trolls, no ridiculing, no shit basically, went on. And I think when you're forming ideas it can be good to have that space to let the ideas grow and strengthen rather than get knocked down by criticism right away. 
Once again for the hard of hearing: no one is trying to undermine anyone's safe space
The idea behind this? To really stand against censoring and silencing, which is altogether something different entirely. There’s been countless times when sex positive feminists, sex workers, indeed anyone with contrary views have been denied a chance to voice their opinion. Furthermore, there have been times when posts have been written attacking individuals and they have been denied their right to defend themselves. This blog was set up to try and counter this.

We'll see how this develops. I think this could be quite a positive tool, not only does it allow people to defend themselves and their ideas that are attacked in others' posts, but hopefully too it will allow for a more rounded discussion. 

Elizabeth's picture

Sex Positive Journalism Awards - October 4 in NYC

sex-positive journalism awards logoThanks to Debbie Nathan for reminding me to post this! I hope to be there on Saturday, myself. There is an awful lot of reporting on sex-related issues that presumes sex - at least any sex other than the procreative-marital kind - to be automatically bad or dangerous. There are lots of subtle and not-so-subtle negative attitudes about sex that pervade much mainstream press coverage. I can't say it better than they do here. For those reasons and more we need to actively support sex-positive journalism. So join the party on Saturday night:

Join Us for the Sexies Award Ceremony and Party, Oct. 4, New York City

Contact: Susan Wright, 917-848-6544 or Miriam Axel-Lute

Join us in New York City to celebrate the awarding of the first Sex-Positive Journalism Awards.

Chris's picture

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."

Chris's picture

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.

Chris's picture

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:

Chris's picture

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.

Elizabeth's picture

Writing sex and parenting - dangerous but essential

There are few places where our public and private lives become blended into such ugly displays as they do in custody and divorce proceedings. The current controversy surrounding Jefferson's appeal for support because of a custody challenge that is, at least partly, based on his blogging about his sex life demonstrates that better than almost anything could. The details have been documented over the past week in several other places, and I am coming late to the story having just returned to town.

Briefly, Jefferson is the pen name of a NYC sex blogger, author of One Life Take Two, and member of the community to which we all here at SITPS belong, to greater or lesser degrees.* He is currently being sued by his ex-wife for full custody of their children whose custody they had shared since divorcing, and it appears that information he revealed in his blog is being used against him in court. That information includes his bisexuality, his hosting of sex parties, his drinking, and his having sex with lots of different people, many of them women much younger than he. Some of his friends have set up a legal fund - the Friends of Jefferson Legal Defense Fund while others of his friends and some of his former lovers are advising caution about contributing.** This conflict started an online public debate about Jefferson's life, his writing, and the current custody dispute that has quickly spread throughout the sex blogosphere and has been occasionally ugly but also very thoughtful.

Elizabeth's picture

Is "Stop Porn Culture" Violating Porn Laws?

Some thoughts on "Fair Use," 2257, and Stop Porn Culture's pornographic slide show

Stop Porn Culture is an organized effort on the part of a number of antiporn-feminist scholars and activists to convince people that pornography is harmful to society (and especially to girls and women) and to get them to swear off porn and to challenge other people's use of it.

Stop Porn Culture (SPC) is also a traveling porn exhibition. In fact, not only is it a traveling porn exhibition, it is a distributor of free pornographic images. Lots of them. Lots of the most hard core of them.

Some sex worker advocates that I respect tremendously, like Ren of Renegade Evolution and Blog for Pro Porn Activism (BPPA) are out there, dedicated and loud, calling SPC out on its failure to comply with a US law that distributors of pornography must follow. That law, known by its shorthand section number (2257) requires producers of pornography to maintain records of performers' identities and ages, and to make those records available for inspection by law enforcement officials. SPC does not do this. These advocates are also calling SPC out on its use of the copyrighted images without permission from the copyright owners or consent of those depicted in the images.

I sympathize. It is galling to watch SPC use the work of the people they most claim to despise, and to freely distribute images they think nobody else should be able to distribute. And it is especially galling to watch them talk about the exploitation and humiliation of the women in the images all the while continuing to humiliate those same women by publicly exposing in and then condemning their work.

Elizabeth's picture

But do they need condom ads in Europe?

I'm staying with friends over Independence Day weekend and they showed me this European condom ad. Very effective, I imagine: cute dad, terrible child, horrifying supermarket scenario.


But it did raise this question: with birthrates in Europe falling, do they really need to advertise condoms? It's hard to imagine that people are having a lot less sex so they must be pretty good at contraception. But then of course there is a need to do STI prevention, and contraception and STI prevention are two different matters. It's interesting to think about how public health policy and population/family policy can be in conflict. Imagine the tension between giving incentives to couples to have children while trying to encourage condom use to prevent disease.

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