Archive for February, 2010
On Tuesday, one of the first things I saw when I got online was an article about controversy surrounding an anti-smoking ad in France. I read the article’s description of the advertisement before I saw the visual of the ad itself. This description included the following:
The first thing I felt uneasy about reading said description was that it seemed to indicate that being on one’s knees giving someone a blow job, especially if the recipient’s hand is on the giver’s head, was being shown as something obviously ominous and undesirable. Possibly the model on her (or his, as there are also ads with boys in the kneeling position) knees is supposed to be under the age of 18, but to me this frankly doesn’t seem obvious.
. . . [P]hotographs of an older man, his torso seen from the side, pushing down on the head of a teenage girl with a cigarette in her mouth. Her eyes are at belt level, glancing upward fearfully.
Then I saw the visual of the ad. The slogan accompanying it translates into, “To smoke is to be a slave to tobacco.” First, no one appears to me to be “pushing down” on anyone’s head. And “fearfully”? To me, the expression on the kneeler’s face in both the male and female versions looks frankly rather neutral.
I thus returned even more pointedly to the unease I felt at what message was being postulated by the ad. It seems to me the ad is supposed to be indicating that being on one’s knees giving a blowjob is not an appropriate place to be, even an indicator somehow of “slavery”—and I find this abhorrent.
The controversy I read about it did not seem to be sharing the concern I had. Rather, the impression I had was that certain organizations were objecting to the ad because it “trivialized” sexual abuse. Okay. Again, perhaps the ad is supposed to be depicting someone underage, in which case the argument for abuse occurring could be made in our no-one-under-18-thinks-of-or-should-in-any-way-be-participating-in-sex culture. However, the age of the kneeler again does not seem obvious to me, so to see controversy that seems to be perceiving that being on one’s knees giving someone a blow job is equivalent to sexual abuse seems frankly alarming to me.
But really, that’s not what this blog post is about (or not entirely, anyway). Later that day, I was perusing Facebook and saw that Good Vibrations had posted a link to an article in its magazine. I clicked on the link and was faced with a page that said, “Sorry: The link you are trying to visit has been reported as abusive by Facebook users.” I went to Good Vibrations Magazine’s home page and found the article in question. Turns out it is an article by Dr. Charlie Glickman talking about the very advertisement I just mentioned. He mentions in his article the same thing that first occurred to me when I saw it as well as discussing sexuality and advertising in relation to it and another ad. As usual with what I have read from Dr. Glickman, I found it an interesting, insightful, thoughtful piece.
When I went back and checked, the link on Facebook worked. I rechecked throughout the day, and sometimes it went through while other times giving the disabled message. So perhaps it is/was a glitch with my computer.
If, however, the link was disabled by Facebook (which means, as I understand it, that someone reported it as inappropriate), I find that disheartening and seriously frustrating. This is not a salacious or X-rated article. It is an article written by a sex educator discussing implications of two particular ads and the use of sexuality in their messaging. How it could be found “abusive” pretty much escapes me.
Unless, of course, it was deemed so solely because it centered on the subject of sex.
Whether or not the link-disabling was intentional on Facebook’s part, the possibility itself (and/or of the link being reported as such) reminded me once again of the way sex/sexuality seems to be treated differently from other subjects and areas of life. To much of society this seems to be expected or even appropriate. Since I personally find it arbitrary, that very perception seems to make the situation all the more frustrating to me. And in the case of the disabled link to the article in question, I not only lament the arbitrary bias toward the subject of sex, I find a lack of not only acceptance but also of active appreciation seriously regrettable.
I feel like we should be thanking Dr. Glickman up and down for offering the attention, insight, caring, and dedication he does to sexual matters and the sexual health of all individuals. To me Dr. Charlie Glickman and his numerous (though still a considerable minority) colleagues such as Dr. Carol Queen, Dr. Richard Wagner, Violet Blue, Dr. Annie Sprinkle, Dr. Elizabeth Wood, Heather Corinna, Megan Andelloux, and Dr. Marty Klein should be positively showered with appreciation, respect, commendation, and accolades. Why? Because they care about sexuality. They find it important. They care about and find sexuality important enough that they study, observe, examine, discuss, share information about, and devote their professional, academic, personal, and/or intellectual time, resources, and attention to the subject of sexuality.
Instead of appreciation, their links on Facebook, metaphorically speaking, are reported and censored. They do what they do in the face of a society that seems not only to entirely not get the incredible service they are offering but also continually seems to condemn, disregard, and disrespect their work and sometimes them themselves. They have been mocked, ignored, dismissed, and judged by the simple virtue of the subject matter to which they have chosen to devote their attention—which is for me exactly why I so revere and appreciate their offerings. I do so not only because of their subject choice of sexuality and the way they have approached it, but also because they have done this despite the as-of-yet societal lack of understanding of the immeasurable value of their service.
There are all sorts of positions in which this kind of respect for sexuality and education around it occurs. Sex workers of all kinds have the opportunity to contribute in this way, as do erotic artists and sex-focused journalists and media commentators. The particular mention I give here is to the sex educators, to those who have devoted their academic and/or intellectual resources and capabilities to our sexual health and wellness with utmost respect for the pleasure, beauty, and importance of sexuality. I find what seems to be the societal lack of appreciation for them truly astounding, and I personally feel profound gratitude for the work they do in this area that is so dear to my own sensibilities.
To the sincere, earnest, caring, thoughtful, enthusiastic, hard-working sex educators of the world—thank you.
“Hey you, don’t help them to bury the light, don’t give in without a fight…”
-Pink Floyd “Hey You”
Whew! Happy Valentine’s Day again—I wish all a beautiful celebration of love, not only today but always.
I saw the smile in her cobalt eyes before it reflected in the curve of her lips. It was that same smile, the one I’d seen when she’d pulled up in her car outside the bar that night, the one she’d given me when she’d first told me her name, the one she’d flashed as she’d gone up to the bedroom to change out of her wet shirt. The one I never determined what lay behind, that was always the same for her but seemed to bring such a wild variety of things out of me. The one that, to this day, may still be the strongest mental image I have of Cole.
-from “To Make It That Way” in The Cougar Book
In the meantime, throughout the month of February the Logical-Lust blog will be featuring interviews with authors in The Cougar Book (I’ll announce here when mine goes live). Several have already gone up — today’s esteemed interviewee is the magnificent Jeremy Edwards — and you can check them out now and throughout the month of February right here!
“‘Til she came to me one evening, hot cup of coffee and a smile, in a dress that I was certain she hadn’t worn in quite a while, there was a difference in her laughter, there was a softness in her eyes, and on the air there was a hunger even a boy could recognize…”
-Garth Brooks “That Summer”