Wednesday, April 30, 2008

UK/US "wars on porn"

rather than repost the whole thing, I'll use the power of linkage...

"Extreme Porn" Banned in U.K.

It's official. England, perviest place on earth, has passed its ban on possession of so-called "extreme pornography." The law doesn't make it very clear exactly how such a thing is defined, but I suppose, like the late Justice Potter Stewart, they'll know it when they see it.

Here's a link to a good BBC summary of the new law, its possible impacts on the private lives of consenting adults and arguments for and against it:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7364475.stm

What the BBC piece fails to mention is that this statute, initiated by the mother of a murder victim and hammered through Parliament in record time, enjoyed the rabid support of U.K. anti-porn feminists, who made it their cause du jour.

Arrayed against it were prominent members of Britain's large and active BDSM scene, along with anti-censorship and civil liberties organizations from all along the political spectrum.

It's  a bit late now, but you can show your support for the opposition to this preposterous law at:

www.backlash-uk.org.uk

which is the official site of the organization formed to resist such intrusion into the bedrooms of citizens of what is supposed to be a democratic nation. It's important for us to take a stand against this kind of law, even though it was enacted in another country, because it creates yet another negative precedent, like the so-called "Swedish Model," upon which anti-porn-anti-sex-work fanatics can seize  for use closer to home. You can bet Gail Dines, Bob Jensen and Melissa Farley will be all over the Web, praising this idiocy and proposing it as an example our society should follow.  

Ren has already posted some excellent commentaries on the implications of this very, very bad law that I would advise everyone here to check out.

Monday, April 28, 2008

More Bad News We Can Do Something About

One by one, hotel chains, which provide a major chunk of revenues for feature porn companies, are yielding to pressure from anti-porn groups to remove sex vids from their in-room video menus. Marriott may be the latest. Here's the scoop from AVN:

avn.com/law/articles/29757.html

Well, if that's the way the antis want to play, they're not the only ones who travel, patronize hotels and can put on the squeeze. Write to Marriott and other chains that have already caved and let them know, loud and clear, that you will not be enjoying their hospitality in the future, not because you like dirty movies (even if you do), but rather because you don't care to leave your dollars with companies that allow extremist organizations to dictate their policies.

Money talks. Make yours shout out.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Continuing War On Porn/Sex...What We Can Do About It

It has been quite tempting and certainly more than a bit fun tweaking the noses of the GenderBorg and their monomanical obsessions/vendettas/myopias against those of us who defend adult consensual sexual speech, expression, and media.

As Ernest Greene has posted in several comment threads of late, however, we shouldn't allow this latest rumble to veer us away from the much more serious issues and threats that sexual expression faces....and those threats are ever increasing rapidly.

First and foremost, there is the upcoming trial of Evil Angel and John Stagliano on obscenity charges; which could be far more damaging to free sexual expression than any previous prosecutorial attempt of adult producers. It's not only the fact that the Department of Justice's Adult Obscenity Division (Oh, but I thought that this was all about CHILD pornography and keeping adult material out of the eyes and hands of children) has now extended their reach to include material that is clearly consensual adults doing "edgy" acts...though not nearly as edgy as the acts done by Rob Black or Lizzy Borden, whom the antiporn posse failed to prosecute earlier). To quote Ernest in one comment he raised in my original post here breaking the story:

Most of the Bush gang's much-heralded war on porn has gone about as effectively as the equally Potemkineske war on terror. While Bush has managed to make life miserable for scattered Internet pro-am pornographers around the country, much as he has for all of Iraq, he's managed to miss most of the larger and more significant targets on the ground there as well. Rob Black was already pretty much of a spent force at the margins of the porn business when he was indicted, and Max Hardcore was an easy and obvious choice, given the nature of his content, and pretty much out there on his own.

John was and is a major player in X-rated picture making by any definition. Not only does his company, Evil Angel, shelter some of the most successful directors in the gonzo genre, he's a multiply-awarded, enormously popular and artistically important creative presence in himself. I have little doubt that in twenty years film school students will learn that Stagliano's radical approach to the subjective POV, which is echoed in everything from NYPD Blue to 28 Days Later, was as important to the visual style of mainstream film and television as any contribution made by Quentin Tarentino or the Warchowskis. I'm not speaking hyperbolically here. Stagliano's early recognition of the potential of miniaturized video technology can fairly be called revolutionary, regardless of the use to which he put it.

In short, this time they're going after someone who is not only a major economic force in the industry, but an iconic talent as well. By attempting to demonstrate that artistic intent and incontestable talent offer no defense where sexual speech is concerned, the prosecutors are taking deadly aim at the heart of Miller. If artistic value is not the key to it, there is no defense against adult obscenity charges to be had.
On the way out the door, the Bush DOJ has decided to make an example of this man and his company by demonstrating a willingness to take on not only those operating at the fringes of the X-rated production, but at those who define it as it now exists. You may or may not like what Stagliano and his fellow directors make, but there's no denying its importance. And that makes this action, however ultimately futile in the specific, chilling in its broader implications.

It is no coincidence that this latest prosecution follows some very public criticisms from the usual array of right-wing groups like Focus on the Family, Morality in Media, and specifically antiporn activist groups (mostly from the more powerful Christian Right) that have been highly critical of the DoJ for not doing enough to obliterate adult sexual speech.

The most significant and potentially damaging aspect of this case, however, is the attempt to impose right-wing fundamentalist standards of "decency" onto the Internet...and the ramifications on everyone who owns adult websites, or even blogs about porn and sex, could be devastating.

One of the charges against Stagliano consists of "using an interactive computer service to display an obscene movie trailer in a manner available to a person under 18 years of age". Never mind that the trailer is no different from many other adult video trailer found in many adult sites; or that most of the sites where the trailer would be shown are themselves limited in access to people 18 and over. complete with warning pages specifying that their material is sexually oriented and giving the opt-out for those offended or underage.

The real point here is that the mere exposure of the "obscene" images that MAY be accessible (even by accident) to anyone 18 or under, according to the prosecuters, is enough to trigger prosecution and even the threat of jailtime and censorship...because these images may "corrupt minors".

This is nothing more than the old "corruption to minors" meme that has been used for eternity by any fascist censor to undermine and wipe out any form of speech and expression that he found "objectionable"...and if this principle becomes the norm, it would allow the moral beliefs of the most restrictive, most reactionary, and the most backwards local regions to be imposed on the broad public at large...the basic fundamental right of free speech and free expression be damned.

But even worse....a successful conviction (or just merely, and adoption of their principles nationwide) would allow for a corrosive kind of governmental intervention in the content of the Internet under the guise of "protecting minors" from the "corruption of pornography". Again, quoting Ernest:

To make matters even more fraught, they're using this prosecution to expand their prosecutorial reach into a whole new territory - the adult Internet, for which no specific federal obscenity standards have yet been established. What John's attorney (the mighty Al Gelbard, who has the First Amendment literally tatooed on his arm) characterizes as "interesting" is the specific count of using the Internet to show a trailer for one of Belladonna's videos in such a fashion that a minor might conceivably have access to it, even though no specific instance of any such minor viewing said trailer is alleged in the charges.

The broader scope of this case, if it went the wrong way, as it surely would if it made it to the Roberts court, might lead to a redefinition of the Internet as roughly analogous to broadcast television or telecom services - a public medium subject to direct regulation by federal agencies such as the FCC. This prospect threatens the freedoms not only of adult Internet content providers themselves, but of the relatively small number of ISPs upon whom they depend.

If the ISPs can be hammered into shunning adult content, or relegating it to a restricted and highly vulnerable .XXX domain ghetto, or constricting it the way the acquiring banks now constrict the content of pay sites, even blogs such as this one, where sex-related topics are discussed but no explicit material is displayed, might be equally at risk. Given that the ISPs are private companies, like the banks, they would enjoy considerable immunity from legal challenges to any rules they might choose to lay down to protect their stockholders from unnecessary risks.
Not discounting the strong opposition of many of the same right-wing antiporn activist groups to the .XXX domain (mainly that it would still legalize and allow porn to exist; they would rather simply wipe it off the face of the earth through existing "obscenity laws"; RICO suits; and intimidating media outlets from broadcasting and producing it in the first place), the basic point remains solid: the real goal of the prosecution of Stagliano is to widen the breadth of Federal and state "obscenity" prosecution to the Internet, and impose pretty much the same regime on the World Wide Web that over-the-air broadcasters now face. As with the 2257 regulations as well.

And it can potentially get worse...much worse. Quoting Violet Blue (the sex blogger):

it’s this part everyone with a website (and every porn-loving adult, and those who want their teens to evolve healthy attitudes about sex on the web) should be worried about:

“(…) one count of using an interactive computer service to display an obscene movie trailer in a manner available to a person under 18 years of age (…)”

IMHO, that’s unenforcable. *but* it will work as a vague, undefined, Mafia-style scare tactic to scare webmasters from Flickr to YouPorn into removing their perfectly legal, consensual adult porn — or heavily censoring their users to the point of making us all feel like the Internet is only for 10-year-olds. it’s the suggestion of *not* knowing whether what we do in regard to adult content is legal or not that makes us scared — and that’s exactly how the Feds like to play it.

In short...if they can intimidate hotel chains like Marriott to discontinue offering adult material to their customers; and if they can intimtdate ISP's to filter out "obscene" images, with the caveat of offering "free, family friendly broadband (that just so happens to be highly filtered and purged of all "pornography" (or any other less sexual, political material that the ISP owner might not think that "minors" should be allowed to see), then why not attempt to force their way into the Internet and wipe out ALL adult users of social sites and groups and message boards???

In other words, this goes much, much, much further than baseball bats up Belladonna's ass or filming anal squirting......this goes to the heart of free sexual expression and the basic heart of the Right's fundamental vision of sexuality, expression, and obliteration of dissenting and divergent sexual expression.

And actually, it would be quite ironic, considering the raging opposition of most rightists to the concept of "net neutrality" where government regulation of Internet businesses would be geared to favor consumers and not allow any one business any monopoly over the other, or control the content offered to their consumers. I suppose that to those folks, "free market capitalism" is a wonderful thing as long as the profits keep coming.....and they get to regulate what the "free market" offers to its consumers.

There are more threats to adult sexual expression that abound, though, and I will get to them later. Disscussions, anyone???

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Nina...." An Antitoxin Against The GenderBorg (And All Other Porn Haters)

If you are like me and really sick and tired of the antiporn fascists monopolizing the debate, then this documentary that I discovered today just might be the motivation you need.

It is an old documentary dedicated to the life, work, and sexual artistry of Nina Hartley....but it is also an in-depth and comprehensive defense of female sexual autonomy, pursuit and pleasure that represents the exact opposite of the sexual reactionaries.

The documentary also includes contributions by Sallie Tisdale, Nadine Strossen of the ACLU, Carole Queen, and porn performers Juli Ashton, Midori, Candida Royalle.....among others.

The video is not downloadable (since it is a streaming Flash video), but you can still watch the documentary from their website (the link is below); and you can also order a DVD copy of the video.

Consider it my official "Fuck you" to the GenderBorg.

"Nina..." -- A Documentary About Creative, Accomplished, Intelligent Women; Feminism; Free Expression; Sex and Pornography (from Nina.eroto.com)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Radical feminism or radically bad faith? APRF's attempt to silence RenEv

Its likely that most of the readers of this blog are also readers of Renegade Evolution's blog and already know about this latest dustup. Nonetheless, I do want to post about it here, both as an expression of solidarity with Ren, and to point to how this fits in with the larger context of the "porn wars".

Basically, a student group at William and Mary College, in the wake of the controversy there over the Sex Worker's Art Show, set up a debate on porn and sex work between, on the anti-side, Samantha Berg (probably somebody who needs no introduction by now) and John Foubert, a "pro-feminist" professor of psychology at W&M, who basically comes across as an even more clueless version of Robert Jensen. (He wanted the Sex Worker Art Show banned from campus holding that the slight nudity in the show would directly cause men to go out and rape – I shit you not that this fool actually claimed this.) On the other is Jill Brenneman (who spoke at W&M earlier this month) and Renegade Evolution.

When Sam heard that she would be facing Ren in the debate, she had a hissy fit and demanded that the student group drop Ren as a speaker. The reason – Ren's infamous offhand comment from about a year ago that radical feminists who were hassling other sex-positive and WOC bloggers should "Fall under a truck and die choking on your own blood." Sam, in true drama queen fashion, claims this proves that big bad Ren is a clear threat to her physical safety. At present, the student who organized the debate is trying to talk some sense into Sam Berg, but there is some danger that Ren will be uninvited, as Sam was apparently invited earlier than Ren, hence Sam's threats to pull out apparently have some leverage.

To say that this is utter bullshit is to state the obvious. First, the "fall under a truck" comment is clearly just an angry statement rather than a direct threat, and one that Ren actually apologized for. (Unnecessarily, IMO, but that's Ren's prerogative.) Second, for anybody who's followed the radfem side of the blogosphere porn wars, Sam Berg's reputation as a loose cannon precedes her. She's well-known for her off-the-wall, creepy, and, surprisingly for someone who's supposed to be all about being 110% pro-woman, often rather misogynistic statements about those she's opposed to. Notably, describing sex workers like Ren as “I’m hot, bi-sexee, and willing to fuck and suck anything for money”. Or strippers as "women smiling while hanging upside down from a pole like a painted negro in a minstrel show dancing for peanuts". (OK, slowly backing away....)

The thing is, this is not a new pattern with the anti-porn feminist crowd. In the 1980s, Dworkin and MacKinnon would debate men like Alan Dershowitz, but would routinely refuse to debate sex workers and sex-positive feminists. The reasons for this were entirely propagandistic, a way of conveying the impression that they represented women, and only men opposed their politics. Later, when the issue of opposition by sex workers and other feminists became unavoidable, MacKinnon and other radical feminists would come to use the kind of tactics we being used by Sam Berg, claiming that the presence of such activists presented a physical danger to themselves and other women.

In 1993, students affiliated with Catherine MacKinnon forcibly removed Carol Jacobsen's video and photo exhibit "Porn'Im'Age'Ry: Picturing Prostitutes" (along with works by Veronica Vera and several other artists) from a conference on prostitution at University of Michigan Law School (MacKinnon's haunt) with the rather dubious claim that the exhibit was pornographic and presented a direct danger to the women at the conference. (That many of the same issues are still being played out 15 years later with the Sex Worker's Art Show is rather telling.) The films were shown at UM only after a lawsuit against the University by the ACLU.

In 2001, Janice Raymond of CATW successfully pressured NYU to have Jo Weldon, at that time an active sex worker, removed from a panel discussion on trafficking. The reason? Because Weldon was a sex worker and not on the same page as CATW, and that since CATW didn't have a sex worker or ex-sex worker from their camp on the panel, Weldon's presence "experiential advantage" biased the discussion against CATW. Note that CATW's tactics involving a last-minute demand for a change in speakers is very similar to what is happening to Ren here.

I also want to point to Witchy-Woo's recent rather off-the-wall broadside against Anthony Kennerson, over nothing in particular except that she wanted to bring up how much she hated him. (I've also been a similar target of abuse by this UK clique of radfems, with a long history of trying to bait Anthony and myself by calling us "cowards". I can't speak for Anthony, but my refusal to engage with them has nothing to do with fear and everything to do with the fact that there's really nothing to be gained by arguing with a pack of rabid, hostile ideologues.) Not that I think this has any direct connection with the W&M events, but it fits this larger pattern. Once again, in the context of a rare display of sort-of-unity between radfems and sex-positive feminists, a radfem takes it upon herself to call out a man who is rather peripheral to the whole discussion, who on this issue was more or less on the same side, just for the sake of, once again, creating a "radfems vs men" two-minute hate. I think its rather interesting to contrast a group of radfems going out of their way to pick a fight with a man versus another radfem avoiding debate with a woman who has proven she can effectively call their position into question. I think this has everything to do with the way radfems have been trying to frame this debate for the last 25 years. However, I think the time has long since passed since they can get away with trying to hide the fact that they have managed to piss off not just men and not just "johns", but an awful lot of feminists, women, and sex workers – in other words, many of the very people who they claim to be helping.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

BREAKING: The Federal Sex Nazis Strike Again!!! Stagliano, Evil Angel Indicted on Obscenity Charges

John Stagliano, Evil Angel Indicted on Federal Obscenity Charges
(PDF file from Department of Justice website)


(h/t as well to Violet Blue and Fleshbot)

I figured that since they couldn't get Rob Black, the Erotic Star Chamber over at the US Department of Justice would attempt one last fling at sex fascism before the gravy train of the Bush Administration closes down on them for good next year.

But....WTF??? John Stagliano??? Isn't he, like, in all other aspects a political conservative??? A contributor to the Reason Foundation?? In short, one of those very conservatives Grover Norquist would otherwise support and fund???

And please....most people might not do anal fisting or female ejaculation or enemas, but to call them "obscene" and send producers of such material to JAIL???

But that's not the really scary part about this indictment, either....as Violet posted as a comment to her blog piece:

it’s this part everyone with a website (and every porn-loving adult, and those who want their teens to evolve healthy attitudes about sex on the web) should be worried about:

“(…) one count of using an interactive computer service to display an obscene movie trailer in a manner available to a person under 18 years of age (…)”

IMHO, that’s unenforcable. *but* it will work as a vague, undefined, Mafia-style scare tactic to scare webmasters from Flickr to YouPorn into removing their perfectly legal, consensual adult porn — or heavily censoring their users to the point of making us all feel like the Internet is only for 10-year-olds. it’s the suggestion of *not* knowing whether what we do in regard to adult content is legal or not that makes us scared — and that’s exactly how the Feds like to play it.

And that is the real goal of the sex censors, indeed...whether or not Stagliano beats the rap.

But...I'm sure that somewhere in the wilderness, Maggie Hays and Nikki Craft are applauding this.

It's the rest of us who should be concerned....and pissed off enough to do something about it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Curious about sex work? Participate in SexWork101.com

Re-posting from Audacia Ray's blog...

Sex Work 101 was inspired by conversations that happened during the Women, Action and the Media 2008 conference held in Cambridge, MA from March 28-30, 2008.

I gave a talk at WAM called Sex Workers and Media Representation (click to see notes for the workshop), and questions during and after the talk made me realize that many people are curious about the sex industry and want to support sex workers in their struggle for rights, but they have no idea where to start. This site is an attempt to fill that gap in public education in an approachable, easy to understand, and engaging way - it’s also the first public education project from Sex Work Awareness, a new non-profit in NYC founded by four $pread staff members. Sex Work 101 is meant to add to public knowledge about sex work and to encourage discussion about the issues sex workers face.

Participate in Sex Work 101! I’m looking for questions non-sex working people want answered and their perceptions of/thoughts about the industry, as well as posts from sex workers who want to share stories about their work (a day in the life, how I got into the industry, reposts from personal blogs, etc)

The official email for the site is ask[at]sexwork101.com but people can also email me at dacia[at]wakingvixen.com. I’d also love to hear from people who want to help with the site - writing posts, answering questions, etc.