Archive for May, 2009
I was jolted and deeply saddened to see the news today that Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed this morning. Having worked professionally in reproductive rights previously and been an activist in the arena for years, I have been familiar with Dr. Tiller’s presence and work. Continuously I felt grateful for his contribution even among the hostility that was sometimes directed at him.
For those not familiar with Dr. Tiller, he was a long-time abortion doctor whose service included performing late-term abortions. It was this service that was often a target of anti-abortion activists and protests. There are very few places in this country (United States) where one may medically obtain an abortion after 21 weeks of pregnancy, and Dr. Tiller’s clinic was one of them. Abortions sought this late in a pregnancy are generally due to severe/life-threatening fetal abnormalities or out of concern for the health or life of the pregnant woman.
This is an expression of deep reverence and sorrow particularly to the family of George Tiller and those close to him. In addition I express again gratitude for Dr. Tiller’s service, especially in the midst of the threats that sometimes surrounded it.
And love to all.
I’m delighted to be a part of the upcoming Spicy Summer Sundays Blog Tour, conceived and hosted by Marina St. Clare and Donna George Storey. Each Sunday of the summer a different writer/eroticist will present the spice or herb for which s/he signed up and pretty much throw whatever else s/he wants to into the post as well! (Seasonal informality — ha! :)) I’m quite excited about this tour, as I love almost every herb/spice that has been chosen to be represented throughout the summer.
Donna is going to be kicking things off at her blog tomorrow, May 31 — and it has been my experience that if Donna is involved with something that has to do with food, it is not to be missed!
I myself won’t be hosting until mid-August, when I expound on my love of poppy seeds. :) Here is the full schedule along with everyone’s herb or spice of choice:
Looking forward to a hot, spicy summer! ;)
5/31 Donna George Storey — Opening and Introduction
6/7 Erobintica — Hot chili powder
6/14 Neve Black — Cilantro
6/21 Sommer Marsden — Cumin
6/28 Gina Marie — Cinnamon
7/5 Scarlett Greyson — Thyme
7/12 Craig Sorensen — Pepper
7/19 Jeremy Edwards — Dill
7/26 Isabel Kerr — Ginger
8/2 Marina St. Clare — Basil
8/9 Bad Ass Kona — Rosemary
8/16 Emerald (Me!) — Poppy seeds
8/23 P. S. Haven — Salt
8/30 Danielle de Santiago — Grand Finale
“Hey I know it’s just a song but it’s spice for the recipe…”
-Smash Mouth “Walking on the Sun”
I have encountered a few things lately to which I have felt a pressing response from a perspective of supporting the decriminalization of prostitution (which I do). One of them was this letter to the editor in the New York Times in response to an article about proposed legalization of prostitution in the United States. (Note: I support decriminalization rather than legalization of prostitution — descriptions of the distinction may be found here).
Author of the letter Norma Ramos states in regard to prostitution:
“It is the world’s oldest oppression that stems from the world’s oldest inequality — that of women.”
When I read this the first response in me was, could it be that this is more about sex than about women? More on that in a bit.
The letter says later:
“By all accounts, the countries that have legalized prostitution have become magnets for human trafficking and other crimes.”
This is not backed up with evidence in the letter, and I would challenge it to be. Statistics may of course be skewed and biased and repeatedly have been in social research, so I myself hesitate to utilize them as prominent support for presenting the perspective in me, but I will point out that this assertion of “all accounts” seems erroneous to me. Further, it’s not as though strict criminalization laws around prostitution have been free of criticism.
In reference to the prostitution laws of “Sweden, Norway and most recently Iceland” the author says,
“Their law is premised on the recognition that women and girls are human beings and therefore cannot be bought or sold.”
In a prostitution exchange, if one does choose to take the perspective that a body is being “sold,” its selling is relinquished upon the end of the exchange (which is why this description does not resonate with me). If one wants to claim that a body is “sold” for a certain period of time, that makes more sense to me, though the vernacular still doesn’t resonate particularly with me. The body is a part of what is being presented as the professional exchange of a service. How exactly is this different from the professional offerings/exchanges of actors, models, and athletes, for example?
Could it be, again, that this is about sex and certain underlying biases or associations we have with it?
I feel as though I would appreciate it if this were at least recognized. There seems to be an automatic “prostitution is bad, wrong, exploitative, harmful” perspective throughout virtually the entirety of society that seems to me to rest on little more than, “well, that’s just the way it is.” Why? Why is sex so much different from all the other myriad services that aren’t even blinked at when they are commodified and used in the context of (rampant) capitalism?
In response to accusations that prostitution has often been surrounded by “vice,” why does it not seem to occur to us that rather than somehow just inherently being surrounded by violence, crime, drugs (which by the way I see as something else associated with crime and an underground world because of its criminalized status rather than some given “attraction” it has to them), etc., prostitution has in modern times been surrounded by such things because it has been criminalized and thus pushed to an underground status in society where those partaking and participating in it are not apt to interact with law enforcement and other protective agencies in its context? Why is it that we assume these associations came first, so the practice was criminalized, rather than that perhaps the practice was criminalized for some other reason(s), and as it was ostracized into an illegal profession, crime and other facets of the underground society rose around it?
If one doesn’t feel comfortable with the idea of doing sex for a job, fine. It is not as though decriminalizing prostitution suddenly eliminates anyone’s right to not engage in it. I would not dream of saying that anyone who doesn’t want to have sex be a job for him or her should do so.
Which seques into the subject of sex trafficking. It seems to me that criminalizing prostitution does not seem at all a sensible way to help eradicate nonconsensual sex work; that indeed, criminalizing the whole trade simply forces it underground where it is even more difficult to examine and discern who is really in a situation of abuse and in need of assistance. How does outlawing consensual action help to more easily discover abusive activity within the same working area of action? It also calls for law enforcement to devote time and resources similarly to discovering and pursuing situations in which abuse is occurring and situations in which individuals are working freely and willingly since the law, due to the nature of the work being performed, conflates these two occurrences.
Interestingly, while human trafficking occurs in work areas other than prostitution, the focus has continued to seem almost exclusively on sex trafficking in the media and societal conversation. Why is this? Or more to the point at the moment, why are we not having a conversation threatening to outlaw all manual labor, farm/outdoor labor, and domestic work since these things have been found to be areas in which trafficking has occurred as well? Once again it seems fundamentally the question has to do with sex, sex work, and underlying perceptions about it rather than perhaps the seemingly obvious issue of the abhorrence of nonconsensual sex work.
None of that is said with any intention on my part to undermine what I see as the crushingly heartbreaking and appalling nature of sex trafficking (or indeed any human trafficking). The idea of not finding nonconsensual sex work or nonconsensual sex of any kind harrowing and abhorrent is unequivocally foreign to me.
In closing, it happens that the indefatigable Dr. Dick recently interviewed for his new series “Sex EDGE-U-cation” the Modern Hooker (whose identity remains anonymous since the profession in which she works is illegal). Modern Hooker’s description is not a glossed-over, glamorized account of prostitution — some of it is not pretty, indeed. It seemed to me a straightforward, open discussion about her work, and I deeply appreciated it as such. I had in fact appreciated this interview so much that I was wanting to mention it here anyway, and since it happens I am writing this post right now, this seems an exemplary opportunity to do so. Thank you again to both Dr. Dick and Modern Hooker for this beautiful offering.
-Juliet November, in an article entitled “Hooking Without Crooking”
Walt Disney World Diversional Extravaganza — Post-Trip Installment 1
It almost feels like this time since I’ve been back from vacation has felt busier than when I was actually on vacation, despite what an action-packed week we had at Walt Disney World (it’s hard for me to imagine any other kind there, frankly). I have felt like I have been in a consistent state of “catching up,” and I’m still not — not on blogs, on email, even on my snail mail.
Anyway, this means I am also just getting around to posting my first post-return Walt Disney World post. There have been a number of things in my consciousness to write about in this regard, but one subject not originally planned on has come up in the last several days and been in my thoughts, generally when I’ve not been at the computer to type them. Alas, it has already been far longer than I intended to get my first post-trip post up, so I am at the computer now — so here we go.
Something occurred to me in the last few days about a thematic experience I had at Walt Disney World. I’ve been reminiscing about it a lot since we got back, and truth be told, I miss it. I really miss it. I loved being there, loved the environment and Rick’s and my shared vacation-like time together. But anyway. As I was pondering recently, I was remembering how I experienced a lot of the rides, especially those with which I was unfamiliar or didn’t remember very well, and I thought of how much I enjoyed many of them and how I’d love to go do them again right now.
And I remembered how apprehensive I had felt before embarking on them.
The Tower of Terror, the Test Track roller coaster at EPCOT, the Expedition Everest roller coaster at Animal Kingdom, the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios, even Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which I remembered loving as a kid, saw a nervousness from me as I decided whether I wanted to ride them and then entered in line to actually do so. With each ride, I tended to experience an apprehensive agitation, wondering…wondering what, you may ask? Good question. I wondered if somehow I would experience something about it as fearful, unpleasant, if I would feel motion sickness, if I just wouldn’t “handle” it well, and what would I do if any of that happened? I would already be stuck on the ride — it wasn’t as though I could turn back at that point.
Sometimes this even happened after I had already ridden the ride once! Looking back, this seemed especially astonishing to me. The Tower of Terror, for example, still elicited a wary look from me the second time I went back to ride it. It was as though the first ride on each of the above mentioned rides was a “test,” and if I got through the tension-filled first time and it seemed “okay,” perhaps I could actually go back and really experience the ride the second time. And yet, as I mentioned, in some cases even then I felt apprehension: What if this time something goes awry? What if this time I feel motion sickness? What if this time I experience something as unpleasant? So sometimes there was continuing tension even on the second time riding the respective ride, and thus still a seeming “incomplete” experience of it.
As this occurred to me, I realized actually how not astonishing it seemed to me at all. Sad (and I mean that sincerely and not in a self-deprecating way), heartbreaking even, but not particularly surprising. Because I think that is a microcosmic study of how I have historically experienced much of life. Tension, anxiety, fear that something might “happen” for which I must be on guard and which I must be ready to combat. And what a futile, absurd practice. But of course there are historical patterns in us (otherwise known as ego) that function in such ways often without our even realizing them — because they feel so natural, so “always been that way” that they are camouflaged. We often do not see them just as patterns in us, rather than absolutes or inevitable “ways things are” (which they are not).
Eventually I much enjoyed many of the above mentioned rides and rode them multiple times. My favorite was the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios. I felt the same apprehension going into that ride the first time that I had in the others, and it was arguably the most intense ride of them all. It was also the one that captivated me the most. It took off like a bullet and didn’t slow down until it stopped. As I mentioned when I first described it here, it literally took my breath away for several seconds the first time we took off on it. I started breathing again shortly into it, but that intensity never let up until the ride was over.
And thus it did something to me. Once it began, it didn’t give me a chance to think about it, to analyze, to fret, to wonder what was coming next, worry I might not like it, feel concern I might find it uncomfortable. It just went. I no longer had any pretense of control.
In short, it forced me to yield.
And this is exhilarating. Because what I am forced to let go of is a struggle I feel like I have historically so frequently experienced, the struggle described above of bracing myself, tensing for what is going to happen, not necessarily in the future but right now, and what I have to do to protect myself from it.
The answer, of course, is nothing.
But the historical patterns of my ego don’t feel that way. Thus, it is a struggle not with something coming at me or something from the outside — it is a struggle with myself.
To bring this back to sex (I know, I went a little out on a limb there for a while, but this really did occur to me too), as I was pondering this it occurred to me that the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster reminded me in this way of rough sex. I am forced to yield control, I no longer have to feel responsible for the analyzing and the figuring and the bracing and the protecting. That is being given up. My hair being yanked and my ass being smacked and my arms being held is like the roller coaster that took off like a bullet and didn’t slow down until it was done, forcing that apprehensive, tense, fretting, analyzing part of me to yield. Fucking the tension right out of it. And as much of a fight as it may seem to put up beforehand at the idea of such a thing, deep down another part of me knows that truly, that yield is a relief. A euphoric relief.
-Tinkerbell “Fly to Your Heart” (sung by Selena Gomez)
A quick note to say that Rachel Kramer Bussel‘s companion anthologies, Tasting Her and Tasting Him, received in a tie the Gold/first place Independent Publisher IPPY award in the erotica category (category #37)!
As I have a story, “Rain Check,” in Tasting Her, I feel particularly excited about this award. This is the second time I have had a story in an IPPY award-winning book — my first story accepted for publication ever, “Deal,” appeared in Best Women’s Erotica 2006 edited by Violet Blue, which also recieved the Gold/first place IPPY award in the erotica category that year. I am thrilled and honored to have stories in both collections.