Archive for May, 2011

May 25th, 2011

Recommended Reading #48: Reproductive Choice



      “The Hypocrisy of ‘Informed Consent’ Abortion Laws” by Angi Becker Stevens (Reproductive Rights, Politics, Sex and Culture, Health and Body) 4/15/11

I appreciate this article intensely; it contains many considerations that have long occurred to me as an activist for reproductive freedom. I have tended to find laws mandating things such as waiting periods for women seeking abortions infuriating, particularly because of the guise under which they seem to be purported—and this piece does what I find a beautiful job of explaining why.

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      “Beyond Federal Funding for Contraception: Taking a Firm Stance on the Hyde Amendment” by Angi Becker Stevens (Politics, Reproductive Rights, Sociology, Public Policy) 4/20/11

I don’t think I’ve ever included two pieces by the same author in a “Recommended Reading” post, but on this subject it happens that these two pieces (which I didn’t even realize were by the same author until I was compiling this post!) speak, to me, exceptionally comprehensively and articulately on issues I find particularly salient, as well as less acknowledged and discussed, in the reproductive rights realm. In the case of this piece, I very much appreciate its pointing out some things with which I wholeheartedly agree and that have not tended to seem expressed very much even from a pro-choice perspective. Sometimes laws or “norms” seem to become so commonplace as to not often be questioned anymore, and the non-use of federal tax dollars to contribute to abortion care (like they do other medical care as well as numerous things many taxpayers may not necessarily want their tax money paying for—that is the nature of the form of government the United States utilizes) seems like one of these to me. This piece strikes me as an illuminating exposition on the subject.

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      “End” by AAG (Memoir, Relationship, Health and Body, Parenting) 4/25/11

This may be one of the most extraordinary things, at least in memoir form, I’ve read on the subject of reproductive choice. I thank the author for expressing it.

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Recommended Reading posted every Wednesday

May 23rd, 2011

An Uncomfortable Proclamation

This is hard for me to post, but it reflects some current circumstances as I understand them, so there seems little way around it.

I had a conversation today with Rod MacIver, founder of Heron Dance and publisher of The Other Dance (see my previous post), and it seems he discerned over the weekend that he wants to take Heron Dance in a new direction…that doesn’t include The Other Dance or exploration of the erotic. It appears that The Other Dance is no longer planned for future publication—and thus, of course, that I will not be serving as its editor. I interpreted Rod as pointing out that artistic endeavors do tend to fluctuate, and especially amidst considerations of one’s livelihood (Rod’s, as the sole proprietor of Heron Dance), sometimes sacrifices or seemingly dramatic measures may be placed at the forefront.

Indeed…. That withstanding, I will admit I felt shocked by this news. As may have seemed evident from my post announcing the launch of The Other Dance, I had the impression this endeavor was solidly planned and supported by its publisher.

As I said in the opening of this post, this feels a hard announcement for me to make here. While I understand the reasons I interpreted Rod as relating for the shift eliminating The Other Dance from consideration as a part of Heron Dance, I dislike very much that I indicated here that something was planned to be a certain way and now have to say that it is not. I have tended to experience consistency and credibility as deeply important, so the degree to which this instance feels contrary to them feels very uncomfortable to me.

Of course, I meant everything I said personally in that post, and as far as Heron Dance and The Other Dance, I did understand it all to be true at the time. I apologize deeply to all readers of it and especially to authors who had taken the time to submit (incidentally, all who did will hear back from me individually with this information) or begin to consider doing so. Most especially I apologize to Robin, our first (and only, as it turns out) published author with me at the helm as editor of The Other Dance—I thank her for her beautiful piece (which I love), “Strands of Imagination,” which I experienced Rod as very enthusiastic about publishing, as was I, and I appreciate her letting us publish her work.

In addition—I thank indescribably everyone who expressed support to me about this endeavor here. I don’t know how to express how much I appreciate your commenting and the way I experienced all of you as seeming to feel I would effectively undertake this endeavor and seeming willing to support me in doing so. My appreciation of it seems all the more poignant to me in light of my having to, in effect, retract the entire announcement of the publication of (and my involvement with) The Other Dance. Again, I apologize.

I read a quote a few days ago from one of the players on my favorite baseball team, the Yankees. Nick Swisher (Rick Write‘s favorite player) said his father used to say to him, “Sailors never perfected their craft sailing smooth water.” Recalling that makes me smile wryly right now, as while it seems not a new sentiment, its current relevance seems well placed. Despite the dismay I feel in publicly acknowledging this situation, I’ve noticed there are things I experienced from/in/about myself throughout this endeavor that seem significant, even luminous, to me…perhaps even more than I recognize right now.

One of them includes my accepting of the position Rod offered me. I felt nervousness about agreeing to undertake the editorship of The Other Dance. I felt very flattered being approached, but I still felt the historically familiar concern that I wouldn’t perform it well (which has tended to mean “perfectly” to a part of me that runs via outdated habits and patterns). The fact is, acquiescence to fear—consciously or unconsciously—has often kept me from doing things. It has resulted in avoidance, refusal, reticence, and the basic passing up or missing of opportunities. In times when I have felt any fear that I won’t or won’t know how to perform something effectively or perfectly—which has seemed to be almost always—fear has often been the final arbiter of action (or inaction) from me.

It wasn’t this time. I felt nervousness about my potential performance, but I agreed to do it anyway. However this opportunity has turned out, I did not let fear keep me from accepting it. I accepted it anyway.

It is undeniable that I feel humiliation in having posted something here that turned out to be not nearly as solid and reliable as I thought it was. I truly apologize for that. I was excited about The Other Dance and my involvement with it, and I feel sadness that the opportunity has been relinquished, not only (or even mostly) because of my own position, but because of the loss of, as Donna so graciously put it in a comment on my post, the “opportunity to bring quality erotic work to a wider audience.”

Regardless of how short-lived this venture has turned out to be, all of my actions related to it were sincere, and I do see value in the indications of growth in me that manifested in its midst. The more awake I am, the more I may serve in the way(s) I aim to. Perhaps that is what I will focus on in this.

Thank you to all who read my The Other Dance announcement (and who are reading this), and thank you especially for all the beautiful comments that were offered there. Even (perhaps especially) amidst this humble apology, I profoundly—indescribably, really—appreciate the support you all offered me.

Love,
Emerald

“I may stumble, yeah I might fall…sometimes I’m afraid and I don’t feel that tough, but I’ll stand back up…”
-Sugarland “Stand Back Up”

May 19th, 2011

Announcing The Other Dance!

In 2006 my mother introduced me to a small literary arts-and-nature-focused journal called Heron Dance. I experienced her as saying she suspected it would resonate with me, and she was correct. I have been a subscriber and follower of Heron Dance, which has traversed numerous transitions of format, focus, and personnel at the helm, ever since.

by Rod MacIver

The (both original and current) founder and painter of Heron Dance is Rod MacIver, whom I have mentioned or quoted a few times here at The Green Light District. A year and a half ago I even posted an announcement that he was beginning a new venture, an erotic newsletter to correspond with the nude and erotic paintings he had been doing. Shortly after that announcement, a number of transitions, including with staff, occurred at Heron Dance (a very small company and press), and my understanding was The Other Dance was put on indefinite hold in the face of more pressing business concerns that unexpectedly inhibited the practical embarkment on a new project at the time.

At this time Heron Dance has recently undergone a few transitions again, most notably in ceasing the print publication of its journal and instating an online membership fee (of $2 a month) for daily receipt of written content by Rod (entitled “Reflections of a Wild Artist”—this may still be received once a week for free by signing up here), discounts on the purchase of paintings, and access to certain areas of the website only accessible by members.

One of which will house The Other Dance, the erotic online newsletter Heron Dance is now ready to create and develop as an integral part of its professional offerings. The Other Dance will publish a new edition each Tuesday, featuring one of Rod’s nude or erotic paintings alongisde a piece of erotic fiction.

I am introducing and speaking about this so much because, I am thrilled and honored (and a little stunned!) to say, I have been hired to be the editor of The Other Dance.

Since The Other Dance area is only accessible to members, I will take the liberty to quote here from Rod’s paragraph introducing the venture from its page on the Heron Dance site:

”A common denominator in all of the diverse perspectives Heron Dance has explored over the sixteen years since it was founded is a probing of the boundaries of the human experience. The edges — the edges between wilderness and civilization, the edges in terms of the human search for meaning and in terms of what it means to live a highly-creative life. Delving into human sensuality and sexuality is a natural evolution of that exploration.”

As those familiar with me or my work will know, it has long been an aim of mine to open dialogue around sexuality, ease the collective discomfort our society seems to feel around it, relax the repression of the innate and exquisite phenomenon of the human sexual impulse, and ultimately support the cherishing and respect for this facet of life. Ingredients I see as integral to these aims include self-awareness, contemplation, openness, and love. Since I first heard of it, I have experienced Heron Dance as embodying a respect for and focus on the importance of these qualities as well, and my aim continues as the editor of The Other Dance to be to support the manifestation of these aspects in the context of sexuality.

by Rod MacIver

Before I move into the business side of things, I want to mention that at this time, the publisher is only seeking to publish work by female (or female-identified) authors—and I personally and truly apologize to the numerous beautiful male authors I know and whose work I adore that I won’t (for the time being) get to seek to work with them in this endeavor.

With that said, The Other Dance technically launched May 3, when Rod published a piece he had received last year to officially solidify the creation of The Other Dance. After he got in touch with me a couple weeks ago regarding this endeavor, he wanted to publish an edited version of “Rain Check,” my story from Rachel Kramer Bussel‘s anthology Tasting Her (as I understand it, Rod’s introduction to my work was clicking on the video of my reading said story at In The Flesh in 2008 when he visited my website), and it went live last Tuesday, May 10.

Two days ago, on Tuesday, May 17, the first piece officially published with me as the editor went live: “Strands of Imagination,” by Robin “Erobintica” Sampson! It has been an honor and delight to work with Robin as I take my first steps into this venture, and I offer her my thanks and congratulations. Robin wrote “Strands of Imagination” for one of Alison Tyler‘s flash fiction contests some time ago, and when I presented it to Rod, I experienced him as very in favor of publishing it.

For any female erotica authors reading this, I would likely love to work with you in such a capacity too! :) The Other Dance submissions guidelines may found on the Heron Dance website here, and I plan to submit them to the Erotica Readers and Writers Association call for submissions page as well.

There is a page on the Heron Dance site where reader feedback is posted—and it is not confined to the complimentary. I have had the impression over the years that Rod has received feedback encompassing varying perspectives and levels of appreciation for his offerings throughout the 17-year duration of Heron Dance. As I recall his stating at the time, never did this seem so active as when he first introduced the subject of sexuality to the work he offered to the public and his followers. When I was perusing the feedback page a few days ago, this comment caught my eye:

“Please cancel sending me Heron Dance, after a number of years! I am a published author and enjoyed your readings and paintings, etc., until you got all hepped up about sex. You had a nice, decent, above board periodical, now you have trash just like the next guy.”

While I honor this commenter’s experience and perspective, I feel sadness that the inclusion of discussion about or the mere mention of sexuality would relegate a literary/artistic endeavor to seeming like “trash.” I was a subscriber to Heron Dance when Rod’s transition to sharing and speaking about sexuality occurred, and whether or not one desired to see or be exposed to the subject, I never felt like anything I read seemed like “trash” at all. Granted, I have tended to feel quite receptive of open dialogue about sexuality, but I also truly found what Rod expressed on the subject quite in line with the way I had experienced his sharing in general about art and nature—probing, thoughtful, curious, raw, and sincere.

At the time, I certainly never imagined I would be offered the opportunity to become the first editor of the project into which that orientation would develop: a weekly electronic newsletter created to feature Rod’s erotic/nude paintings alongside written content of an erotic nature.

It is my honor to accept it.

Love,
Emerald

“I want to dance with you, I see a sky full of the stars that change our minds, that lead us back to a world we would not face…”
-LIVE “Dance With You”

May 18th, 2011

Recommended Reading #47: Perspective and Judgment



      “I Used to Be a Pro-Life Republican” by Andrea Grimes (Reproductive Rights, Sex and Religion, Sexuality Education, Self-Awareness, Sex and Culture) 3/10/11

This piece addresses so any aspects of interest to me—reproductive rights, projection, lack of self-awareness, sexuality (abstinence-only) education. I appreciate the author’s sharing and the delineation of how her experience with religious perception and abstinence-only sex education resulted in projection and judgment (something that does not seem to me an uncommon phenomenon) and the transition she experienced that I interpret as being related to personal sexual opening. This kind of self-awareness is something that invariably seems to me to serve.

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      “Who Cares About Your Open Relationship?” by Neamhspleachas (Relationship, Non-monogamy, Sex and Culture) 3/25/11

While I have of course witnessed the kind of judgments mentioned in this article before, I still find it mind-boggling that they seem so unquestioned in so many instances. I found incisive and entertaining the way this article broke some common perceptions about non-monogamy down and responded to them. What the author said makes a lot of sense to me; I feel truly baffled why it seems to so prevalently not to so many others, perhaps even seemingly the majority of collective (Western) society.

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      “My Family Found out I Blog About Sex ” by AV Flox (Sex and Culture, Privacy, Anonymity, Sexuality Education) 5/15/11

I read this and found it stunning. So much so that I don’t even know what to say about it, just that I wanted to recommend it to be read far and wide. The mission statement the author composes, how disheartening I found her aunts’ and uncle’s responses, and the author’s mother’s email came together in this article for me to produce an incredible composite of strength, beauty, and love.

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Recommended Reading posted every Wednesday

May 11th, 2011

Recommended Reading #46: Touch



      “Healing The Entire Body. Why Would We Exclude The Genitals?” by Susan Miranda (Health and Body, Sex and Culture) 1/21/11

I deeply appreciate this commentary about touch, specifically about touch of the genitals that is not necessarily sexual. I found especially perceptive and intriguing the offering about the genitals so regularly being left out of non-sexual touch and how that may affect the holistic response of our bodies and of the genitals particularly. Of course, the reading of the line, “What I seem to say more often than anything else in my education work is that it is not what we do or say, but how we do or say something that is most important” exponentially solidified my adoration of the offering of this piece, as it is a quote that to me encompasses one of the most fundamental truths of our existence.

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      “The Beautiful Gift of Touch” by Krista Haapala (Health and Body, Relationship, Self-Awareness) 4/11/11

The title sums up the tone of this piece, and it is also one I profoundly appreciate. The underestimation or even denigration of (non-sexual) touch I perceive in this culture is something I find disheartening and sometimes even concerning. I so wholeheartedly agree with the author that touch encompasses profound potential for connection, healing, and understanding. I am delighted to see awareness of this and the sharing of that awareness as well as support for all of us in cultivating and expressing conscious touch (which includes, as I experience the author as alluding to, awareness of and respect for touch not being wanted and/or desired personal space at any given moment).

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      “A Parent’s story” at Touching Base (Sex and Disability, Parenting, Sex Work) Undated

I really don’t know what to even say about this piece. Every time I have read it, I have felt so moved it has virtually left me speechless. There feels like no way to introduce it that does it justice, so I simply offer it with reverence and gratitude.

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Recommended Reading posted every Wednesday