Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pervert at Pornotopia!




Self-doubt, self-hatred, and self-deception; loneliness, isolation, and stigma can never be good for anyone. If our lives are to contain any meaning or happiness, we must find each other, find partners and friends … who can understand our poetry, our erotic longings, our fantasies. We need allies and accomplices. We need a place where we belong.
—Pat Califia, author, S&M activist


Pervert: per-vert noun somebody whose sexual behavior is unacceptable; somebody whose sexual behavior is considered unacceptably deviant

Pervert. Deviant. Deviate.

Unnatural. Aberrant. Abnormal.

Pervert—the title of Nancy Ava Miller’s new book. Pervert: Notes from the Sexual Underground dives into the underbelly of the BDSM/fetish world as it existed for many in the 1980s and 90s: the desperation, the obsession, the intimacy, the gathering together of kinky souls in back alley clubs and support networks, the passion, the love.

Is Nancy Ava Miller a “pervert”? Proudly, yes.

Pervert, part memoir/history/almanac/anthology, speaks to anyone who harbors hidden desire—to all of us who have furtively reached orgasm in the quiet dark and promised ourselves, I’ll never think about that picture/Web site/fantasy again.

Read Pervert and reclaim the word. Dispell the myths about those of us interested in a sexuality that transcends what we are spoon-fed to expect and accept. Pervert celebrates our large and loving community. Unnatural desires, you say? According to whom?

Nancy’s description of her self-appointed and self-assumed task of forming a support organization, replete with meetings, personalities and organization successes and failures, makes me wonder, “Where has something like this been all my life?”
—Bob Richter
from the Foreword of Pervert

Nancy Ava Miller is proud to be sponsoring Pornotopia 2010.

Please enjoy the following excerpt from Nancy Ava Miller’s essay “Dispelling the Myths about S&M”

So small talk. So innocent. So innocuous. So omni-present. How I love it! That boring, cocktail party question: “What do you do for a living?”

Perhaps I’m expected to admit that I sizzle burgers at Sirloin Stockade, or that I stamp the backs of books for the downtown library. But, oh, the shock value in being able to reply: “I lead support groups for people who are into S&M.”…

… What is PEP? PEP is part Yenta the Matchmaker, part Parents Without Partners, part Eulenspiegel Society. Like Yenta, PEP is responsible for marriages and love affairs, for people finding girlfriends and boyfriends, and playmates and soulmates. The only difference: all involved hold an interest in dominant-submissive erotica. And like Parents Without Partners, PEP’s main thrust is education. Education plus lots of events—lectures, raps, workshops, demos, parties, pot luck dinners. And like the Eulenspiegel Society of New York City—the oldest S&M group in the nation, founded by Mr. Pat Bond in 1972—PEP is concerned with the passion, the beauty, the fun, the joy and the necessary safety precautions of dominant-submissive love. “Dominant-submissive love” I call it, because, like psychologist Havelock Ellis writing in 1942, I also have discovered that S&M and B&D, in fact, are based in love. Steeped in love, in caring, in sharing, in trust, and in communication—intimate communication. So state today’s sex experts; so emphasize today’s S&M practitioners.

Who practices S&M? I am relieved to report that it is not a bunch of Charlie Mansons, Sons of Sam, child molesters, child abusers, wife batterers, and rapists. Statistically, S&M enthusiasts are intelligent, well-educated, and self actualized. According to research, S&Mers are more psychologically sound than Mr. or Mrs. Average, with less tendency toward suicide. In addition, most S&Mers are happy with the proclivity towards dominance-submission; this uniqueness is often cherished, viewed by us as a special gift.

The Charlie Mansons? The Sons of Sam? The wife batterers? These people are all criminals, and not practicing S&M at all, since by definition S&M is consensual love-making. Sharon Tate and company did not blissfully consent to being murdered by Manson’s “Family,” and no one gave permission to Mr. Berkowitz for his shooting extravaganza in New York that humid summer—no one, of course, save the nagging voices in his tormented brain …

… So S&M is not about rape...or abuse...or murder—despite the misconceptions and the myths. S&M (and PEP) involve an interplay of the roles of dominance and submission—of power and fantasy, in erotic relationships, in caring, consensual relationships.
Dominance-submission? S&M? B&D? What is it about these terms that sets folks to shuddering? What do we fear from these basic human concerns? Misunderstanding, misconception, and stereotyping have given this viable form of erotic love a bad reputation. But we can no longer afford to remain blind and prudish.

In a world with AIDS, we need new ways of relating to one another sexually, lovingly, sensually. After all, people will not—can not—cease having sex because of AIDS. S&M? B&D? Perhaps the safest form of erotica today, in view of AIDS.

What do I do for a living? Shock value aside, I am proud to state that I am the founder of People Exchanging Power--in Albuquerque, DC, Tuscon, and Phoenix, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, and St. Louis. PEP: for men and women with dominant-submissive desires. It’s an S&M group, by the way!
______________________________

PEP BDSM/fetish support groups still thrive around the United States, from PEP-Buffalo to PEP-Houston.

In the early 1990s, Nancy Ava Miller began offering phone fantasy counseling for those with fetish/BDSM desires. PEP as a phone fantasy business is based on Albuquerque; women from all over the United States and Canada provide exciting and loving conversation through PEP. If you are interested in phone counseling and/or in receiving free BDSM/fetish literature, please visit peplove.com.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Semiotics of the Bedroom

se·mi·ot·ics

1. the study of signs and symbols as elements of communicative behavior; the analysis of systems of communication, as language, gestures, or clothing.

Meanings of words, and the invention of new words, are created and adapted by those who use them. The context in which the words are spoken or written contribute to its meaning as well.

Semiotics of the Bedroom from Alexandra Ross-Raymond on Vimeo.




Check out the inspiration for this work, Semiotics of the Kitchen by Martha Rosler, created in 1975.

Friday, September 3, 2010

I am Woman. Hear Me Get Censored!



Thank you, Brianna Stallings for posting this blog about the exhausting nitty-gritty of facebook censorship. It's hard to roar (with a community of 1300 fans) when they delete our Self Serve fan page.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

No, I won't wash my vagina for a raise, thanks.



One of the funniest and most enraging blog posts I saw recently was on Daily Kos citing an amazing advertising message: Want a raise? Wash Your Vagina!

I love when advertisers or companies are so far gone they aren't even seeing the ridiculousness of their message anymore. This ad offers the number one way for a woman to feel more confident. No, not just confident on her next blind date. If she's looking for confidence in asking for a raise at work, she should first and foremost use a chemical douche product. That is the offensive and insulting message Summer's Eve is sharing with women in full-page, made-to-look-like-editorial content ad.

I was shocked and appalled to the point of head-shaking laughter. I don't write enough protest letters lately, so I did this time. Below are my letter and the responses from Summer's Eve and Woman's Day Magazine.

Here is my letter:

Wow.
There is offensive advertising, and OFFENSIVE advertising. You took the scented cake with the recent full page ad in Woman's Day.

As a business woman, I am appalled that you would suggest women MUST wash with unhealthy intimate soaps and scents in order to get a raise! Appalled. When would you EVER see an ad suggesting men need to wash their genitals in order to get a raise? I'm pretty sure intimate hygiene doesn't go on your CV.

You should be ashamed of yourselves. It's one thing if you simply offered sensitive-skin, non-toxic products for vulva wash for women who want it, but it's entirely offensive to suggest that such a regimen is required at work.

Women have enough anxiety and self hatred about natural, healthy vulva appearance and scent. How dare you also suggest their job depends on it. Shame on you. One more reason I will boycott and bad mouth your products. I own a sexuality resource center and help women
every day feel more confident and better about their bodies. We tell women every day how they do not need to douche or wash with irritating soaps on their vulva. Many of your products lead to
yeast infections and irritation, making women even more susceptible to STIs at times.

I hope you'll pull this ad campaign and seriously re-think your message.

Thank you for your time,
Molly Adler

Here is the response from Summer's Eve:

Dear Ms. Adler,

Thank you for contacting us to express your discontent with the recent
Summer's
Eve advertisement in Women's Day magazine.

CB Fleet and the Summer's
Eve brand have the utmost respect for women.
While we understand how some may come to an alternative conclusion
regarding our recent advertisement, that was never our intention.
Summer's
Eve apologizes if this advertisement in any way offended anyone
and will take immediate steps to remove it from further circulation.

Kindest regards,

Jessica
Summer's
Eve Feminine Care Specialist

From Woman's Day:

Molly, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. Please know that the piece you are referring to is a paid advertisement and in no way reflects the opinions of the Woman’s Day editorial staff and regret that some were offended by the ad. The client is aware of the situation and has taken steps to apologize on their own. Meanwhile, we do hope that you found the editorial in the issue insightful and helpful.

E. M.

I get the sense the Daily Kos post going viral may actually make a difference here. Except for the fact that magazine ads most likely get placed months in advance, I hope they'll think twice about this campaign again. It's always refreshing when media claim no blame in what they allow in advertisements. As a sexuality resource center owner and someone who has to pay for advertising, I know for a fact magazines have a say in what's published in ads.

If you are feeling defensive and thinking of the sensitive wash you have upstairs in your shower right now, don't fret. There is nothing wrong with washing external genitalia with mild or ph-balanced soap. But some feminine washes may do much more harm than good. Internally, it's important to remind women that the vagina is in fact self-cleaning and usually doesn't appreciate harsh soaps, scents and detergents. At Self Serve we found a great line of vulva-friendly products for when you do feel the need to refresh. Perhaps after sex or exercise, though, not necessarily before a job interview.