Friday, February 20, 2009

A Hearty Endorsement of "Carnal Nation"

It's always good to have more allies in the Sex Wars, and today, I've discovered a new journal dedicated to promoting the pro-sex/sex-positive viewpoint.

Actually, the blog Carnal Nation has been at it for more than a month now, but it is already doing significant work in its stated mission to improve the quality of debate about human sexuality. Quoting their mission statement.

CARNALNATION provides comprehensive coverage of entertainment for grown-ups. We at CARNALNATION embrace and honor human sexuality, and we promise to be current, consistent, and uncensored. We compile event listings; we publish original and incisive content; and we provide insightful commentary on a range of related topics from health to fashion to the latest toys. We know you take your fun as seriously as we do, so we invite you, our readers, to use CARNALNATION to realize and explore your interests, desires, and curiosities.

CARNALNATION was developed out of a compelling need to counteract those oppressive forces, whether internal or external, that stifle sexual growth, awareness, and fulfillment. We believe that sex is a vital human need and that sexuality is an important component of who we are as individuals, how we relate to each other, and who we want to become. In our view, fear and disdain of all things sexual have led to a society that too often vacillates between impulsive titillation and compulsive repression. Such extremes can only have a negative impact on our physical, psychological, and social well being. Therefore, we strive to inform and entertain without being pornographic or offensive. We make this commitment at all levels of sexuality: the personal, the political, and the perverted.

If the featured columnists and articles are of any indication, then they certainly have succeeded in fulfilling that commitment.

Editor Chris Hall (also co-founder, along with the equally wonderful Elizabeth Wood, of the related pro-sex site Sex in the Public Square) has arrayed an all-star cast of liberationist columnists....and the depth and breadth of quality of commentary is fascinating to say the least. A sampling based on issues recently debated here in this journal:

1) Chris Hall's follow up on The Price of Pleasure and its issues with "fair use" doctrine, in synch with comments here by both Ernest and Trinity:

The record-keeping requirements have been around for a while, but standards of enforcement have become even more arcane and inflexible in the last few years. Especially troublesome has been the law's requirement that records of the performers' ages be kept not only by the original producer, but by anyone redistributing the images. In October, Ernest Greene wrote an extensive four-part deconstruction of the film's content and Sun's ethical and legal obligations regarding the performers and 2257 records (Part 1, 2, 3, 4). Sun and her supporters claim that the film is protected by "fair use." Even the sex-positive bloggers haven't been united on whether Sun's film is fair use or not, which make the most recent entry in the debate even more interesting. Harper Jean Tobin at Polymorphous Perversity has a very precise and thoughtful legal analysis of the issues involved. Her conclusion? The Price of Pleasure can't claim "fair use" protections because fair use and 2257 apply to two entirely different sections of law. The former has to do with protecting the intellectual property rights of the original work's creator; the latter are federal regulations to prevent criminal exploitation of minors. Whether Sun (or anyone else) should be able to use those images is an entirely different matter that speaks to the nature of the impact that 2257 has on free speech.

2) Dr. Carol Queen (through her Live Nude Woman column) discusses the etiology of the philosophy of "sex-positivity", and defends the use of the term as it relates to defining her base sexual liberationist philosophy (in lieu of criticism from others):

So let me tell you what I think sex-positivity is now, lest I’ve given you the impression you have to start turning tricks to do it right. You don’t have to be bisexual (or trisexual), kinky, non-monogamous, or even sexually active. In fact, some of the most interesting discussions about sex-positivity I’ve had this year have been with a guy who’s busy organizing asexuals into a community of support and affiliation. Yep, you can even be sex-positive if you don’t ever want to have sex, just as you can be very sex-negative indeed and still have plenty of hot sex that you enjoy to the fullest.

Here’s the deal: Sex positivity means you acknowledge that sex is, or could be under the right circumstances, a positive, healthy force in anyone’s life… even if it isn’t right now. Those circumstances may not be the same for everyone (though some may be universal, like consent), but they include things like access to information, support, condoms (if relevant), a loving (or at least friendly) partner, healing from past negative sexual experiences like rape or abuse, privacy, enhanced self-esteem, etc. This list could be very long and, again, it won’t contain the same exact elements for everyone. This leads to the rest of what sex-positivity is, namely, the acknowledgement that not everyone’s sexuality, including sexual needs and desires, is the same, such that one person’s optimum, positive sexuality may not look anything like another person’s. That is, sex-positivity includes the acceptance of sexual diversity, and acknowledges that optimum sexual wellbeing for you might look different than it does for me.

3) Dr. Betty Dodson and Carlin Ross team up for a discussion on the uses and abuses of porn, via a videocast recorded through their site through YouTube. (original video here)

Other interesting articles include Chris' discovery of a proposed Chinese program for seeking out and screening adult material; Kingfish's article on the recent revival of burlesque; and a joint response to an inquiry about talking personally about kinky sex.

All in all, Carnal Nation is a welcome addition to the "sex positive" discussion, which I wholeheartedly recommend to all sexual freedom fighters.


  1. Bravo! Excellent work by all parties. A fine, rational approach to a subject so important we can only wonder why such and approach is so rare. It's certainly to be appluaded.

    The mix of contributors is excellent and the quality of writing and editing consistently high.

    Don't know why I haven't seen this before (have to get out more) but thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  2. Thanks for the great writeup, Anthony. I'm so glad that you and Ernest like the site, because we've been working our asses off, and it's really a great bunch of people who have been active in the sex-poz communities for a long time.

    Ernest, don't feel like you've been out of the loop: we only launched at 3AM on Thursday.

    I do feel honor-bound to correct one point, though: I can't take the credit for assembling those great columnists. I'm actually kind of the newbie on the team, about two months now. The lineup of columnists should be credited to the collective efforts of our Publisher & CEO, John Pettitt; our Editor-in-Chief, Theresea Ikard; and our Managing Editor Tim McElreavy. They're a kick-ass team and our community is better for having people like them. I know that I'm better for having the chance to work with them.

    It's only the first week, and there's still lots of places to go from here. We're pretty diverse, but still not diverse enough. If any of the BPPA bloggers want to pitch an idea for an article, please email me. I've been reading this blog for a long time, and I can say that the feisty but smart defenses of sex work and freedom of speech that distinguish the writing here definitely square with our mission.

  3. Oh, cool.

    I've always liked your writing on Sex in the Public Square, Chris, and will definitely follow your new blog.

    Carnal Nation is yet another one that belongs on our blogroll.