Friday, April 24, 2009

The Kink.com Wars, Round II

This just in from my home city – the California Employment Training Panel nixes Kink.com technical staff's right to participate in free Bay Area Video Coalition technical training, something available to multimedia employees working for a wide range of for-profit and non-profit employers. The stimulus for this was a request for information by SF Weekly columnist Matt Smith, the process of which tipped off the state that Cybernet was a porn company, and apparently Cal ETP has rules against funding adult-sector employees.

However the real scandal came when Smith, far from contrite about having just deprived a number of multimedia workers of further job training, wrote a rather nasty hit piece in his SF Weekly column. Using none other than Melissa Farley as his only source for the article, he is quite pleased to have stopped "torture porn" company Kink.com from receiving supposed taxpayer funding. He then goes on to revive Melissa Farley's rather sickening comparison between Kink.com and Abu Ghraib and the accusation that they pay poor desperate models to be abused. Topped off by the usual platitude found in so much anti-porn writing these days that Kink.com "passes itself off as hip".

Violet Blue has the full story here:
On Wednesday, SF Weekly's Matt Smith took his torture porn fantasies beyond the realm of safe, sane and consensual to gloat over how his actions caused Kink.com to get screwed out of legitimately earmarked BAVC job training funds, threatening a community training program that Smith, himself, has benefited from to the tune of 184 hours.

Here's the situation: Smith recently submitted an inquiry about Kink.com to the California Entertainment Training Program (ETP). He received a response from the ETP's general counsel, which said, in part:

"Since learning about Kink.com through your Public Records Act request, ETP has informed BAVC that it will no longer reimburse the cost of training the employees of Cybernet."

and then removed Kink from the list of subsidized applicants, kicking Kink out of the nonprofit Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC).

As tempting as it is to immediately scapegoat Smith for this, you can't -- after all, all he did is submit a public records request. It's not as though he attempted to incite a harmful scandal simply for the purpose of writing about it.

It's Smith's actions following his request that are deserving of scrutiny. The resulting article, "Whipped and Gagged," is infused with (unrepentant) and sensational anti-porn bias, with accusations that Kink is soaking up taxpayer dollars to create "torture based pornography" and "depicting sexualized torture". Despite the one-sided commentary and airtime Smith devoted to local anti-porn feminist Melissa Farley's two-year-old comments repulsively comparing Kink's product to Abu Ghraib, he certainly knew his way around Kink's websites and content enough to frill up the Fox News-style hit piece.

According to BAVC's Director of Training and resources, Mindy Aronoff, Smith more than nonconsensually screwed the pooch with his biased reporting. Aronoff stated, "Mr. Smith's lazy attempt to jump on the "bad government spending" bandwagon is dangerous in its disregard for this bigger picture and the economic realities of our state. His questions of government spending and censorship are an unfortunate case of reactionary sensationalism that could threaten the ETP program at BAVC."

[Read more]
Another rather yellow aspect to Smith's journalism is the issue of "taxpayer funding". His spin is that taxpayer dollars are being used to fund the production of porn. First, the taxpayer dollars he mentions are a specific payroll tax that all employers in the State of California pay into, Kink.com included. This payroll tax goes to specifically fund employee training programs through various local projects, among them the Bay Area Video Coalition, who in turn provide training for employees to upgrade their skills. Until recently, multimedia employees of Cybernet (the umbrella company behind Kink, that also includes some non-porn production work) received this subsidized training the same as any other SF multimedia worker.

Some Background

For many years, San Francisco (by which I mean the city proper and not the whole Bay Area) has been a town with only one major daily newspaper (the San Francisco Chronicle), but with two competing "alt weeklies", The Bay Guardian and SF Weekly. Bay Guardian is a local independent paper, has its roots in the 1960s, and is definitely leftist in its editorial leanings. Its articles are often politically slanted, but also, they wear their politics on their sleeve and you at least know where they're coming from. SF Weekly is part of the Village Voice/New Times Media chain, has a more liberal-to-centrist slant, at least superficially has less "spin" in its articles, but like many centrist news sources, often has real problems with hidden bias. Matt Smith has been the paper's main columnist on local politics and he quite openly has an axe to grind against the progressive faction in SF politics. The two papers have been at war with each other for over ten years, with the Guardian having recently successfully won a lawsuit against SF Weekly over undercutting practices used in getting advertisers.

As far as sexual politics go, over the last few years, the Guardian has leaned sex-poz (like the majority of the SF progressive community) and even sponsors the Sex SF blog. SF Weekly originally was also characterized by the relaxed attitude toward sexual politics characteristic of this area, but several years ago, took a decidedly different slant. In 2006 it ran an article bashing Cake parties (and borrowing heavily on Ariel Levy's Female Chauvinist Pigs), followed soon after by another article by the same author bashing Maxine Doogan's fight against the SF "john's school" program. In 2008, the paper was a major source of opposition to to prostitution decriminalization initiative Proposition K. The have been quite outspoken through all of this in their opposition to sex worker rights activism, and frequently quote Melissa Farley as their go-to source for the bottom line about the sex industry. Smith's latest column simply continues in this unfortunate tradition.

For all its sex industry- and sex-poz-bashing, it is notable that SF Weekly, like Bay Guardian, runs back page ads for strip clubs and massage parlors, as well as escort classifieds.

A Heartening Response

The silver lining to this situation is that the response to the article over the last few days has been overwhelming negative, with more than a few people taking specific aim at the use of Melissa Farley as the article's source. The comments thread for article is up to over 60 comments, almost entirely anti-Smith. A number of (mostly) local bloggers have also weighed in taking Smith to task. In addition to Violet Blue's takedown of the article in SF Appeal, SFist, Sex SF, The Sword, Carnal Nation, and even the Reason magazine blog have since taken a smack at this piece. (Addendum: whippedandgagged.blogspot.com just launched to track other articles and posts responding to the article and controversy.)

My (main) response from the comments thread:
Unfortunately, it seems that Matt Smith and SF Weekly has allowed itself to become a mouthpiece for the cranky and crank-ish neoconservative feminism of Melissa Farley. First with its jingoistic anti-Prop K stance last year and now with the rhetoric displayed in the article.

To my mind, the relevant question about CETP is whether its being used as a form of corporate welfare or whether its truly a jobs-creation program. If its the former, then I don't think either Kink.com or, say, KRON should be getting that subsidy.

However, if it is genuinely a job-training program in multimedia, then it should make no difference whether the employee is going off to a well-paying job for a design firm or a porn company. (And lets get away from the red herring that this has anything to do with forcing the poor into porn modeling – we are talking about production-end jobs here.) You have moral problems with pornography? Well, too bad, a lot of people have moral problems with advertising (pick up a copy of Adbusters sometime) and I don't see a call for ending government funding for training to enter that industry. And your "first amendment expert" aside (who was using what was already a bad piece of legislation – the NEA attack on Karen Finley – as a defense of this), I really don't think its the government's business to channel trainees into one form of media over another, especially in a way that constitutes blatant viewpoint discrimination.

The absolute low point of this article is the inflammatory language calling Kink.com "torture porn" and repeating Melissa Farley's disgusting comparison between Kink.com and Abu Ghraib (rhetoric that really dishonors the victims of Abu Ghraib). Farley-esque rhetoric about "giving people money if they'll agree to being on camera while being stripped, bound, impaled, beaten, and shocked" is pure nonsense. Kink.com films people practicing BDSM and many of the models for that company are local "players" from that same scene. Last I checked, BDSM was already something some people consensually seek out, in fact, its not unknown for someone to pay some of the advertisers in the back pages your newspaper to do *to them* some of the very things that are depicted on Kink.com. Ironic, that.
An unfortunate response was made by one particular article commentator (who also seems to be connected with an anonymous flyer circulated around the Castro) demanding the article be dropped and Smith be pressured to retract the article. This call, of course, is hugely self-contradictory from a free speech standpoint and seems to have no support beyond the original commentator who circulated it. (And fact a few people on this side of the fence, myself among them, specifically have denounced it.) Nonetheless, Matt Smith has latched onto this comment and spun it into a "pornographers are trying to censor me" post on his blog. This, apparently is his only response to the whole controversy.

4/25: This just in – Mz Berlin, an SF fetish model who has done a lot of work for Kink.com has challenged Matt Smith to an open dialogue/debate and he apparently has accepted. What form this will take – blog, print media, or live public debate is still not clear.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Marilyn Chambers, 1952–2009


Via LA Times and AVN comes sad news of the death of Marilyn Chambers, only 56 and gone way before her time. Susie Bright, Four on the Floor, and, interestingly, Jezebel post fitting eulogies.

Unlike the above eulogists, Marilyn Chambers was not actually much part of my porn coming of age, being a little before my time, though her name and face were iconic for as long as I can remember being interested in such things. I have some memory of Insatiable, her "comeback" movie from the early '80s and mostly remember how enthusiastic her performance was. It was the very opposite of the (unfortunately often true) stereotype of the detached porn star just going through the motions. My later memories of her are mainly local headlines about Chambers being arrested during a performance at San Francisco's Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theater, a target of then-mayor Diane Feinstein's many misguided law'n'order campaigns during her time in office. (The more libertine Willie Brown would proclaim a "Marilyn Chambers Day" upon her return to MBOT in 1999.)

Chambers was also one of the first porn-to-cinema crossovers, landing a starring role in David Cronenberg's Rabid. According to one story I heard, beating out Sissy Spacek for the role. (And as much of a Cronenberg fan as I am, I'm embarrassed to say I haven't seen this one, something I intend to remedy soon.) Unfortunately, this role didn't translate into crossover success in the long term, and latter roles she picked up were largely straight-to-video horror flicks, much along the lines of Traci Lords.

An earlier thread on Jezebel announcing her death unfortunately derailed into the inevitable porn wars on the part of the commentariat (Jezebel has a couple of inveterate radfem commentators who inevitably steer any thread on the subject around to the party line on porn and prostitution), with the debate (as usual) actually having very little to do with the particulars of Chambers life and career in porn.

Nevertheless, a few sharper critics were quick to point out that dropping dead in a trailer before the age of 60 is an awfully ignoble end for somebody who is generally regarded as a big-name and historically-important porn star, and somebody who presumably made a lot of money for "porn lords" like the late Jim and Artie Mitchell. And as much as I'm accused of being a "pro-porn fanatic" and an apologist for the porn industry, its a critique I more or less agree with. I've seen too many stories of former porn stars ending up destitute or otherwise in a bad way later on, such as the story of Asia Careera's bankruptcy a few years back (albeit, her online gambling addiction was a contributing factor there), of Annabel Chong's never actually seeing the proceeds of her infamous gang-bang video, or of Nikki Charm ending up in prison for her role in a car theft ring.

Admittedly, porn is only a short-term career for most female performers (Nina Hartley being a notable exception) and is not something that can be counted on to grant life-long wealth to the mostly young women who take part in it. Nevertheless, a few years where one is flush with cash should not be a gateway to later-life poverty, and all too often, that is the case with former porn stars. One factor is simple bigotry and, yes, sex-negativity in the larger society – a work history in porn is not something you can put on your resume in most industries, and groups like the Screen Actors Guild apparently have rules shutting porn workers out. In the worst case, uncovering of a background in porn can actually lead to firing, as happened to Linda Lovelace in her later life. However, there are also problems with the industry. Lack of residuals are a big part of the problem (albeit, the marketability life of most porn titles is relatively short) and also, the fact that long-term financial planning is not part of the mindset of many performers. There was a porn columnist (who's name and link have escaped me) who wrote a few years ago in light of the Asia Carrera situation that financial management awareness need to be as much part of the industry as STD protection, and I think he had a point.

Hopefully, Marilyn Chambers ultimately be remembered not as another porn tragedy or cautionary tale, but for what she achieved and what she left behind, which was quite a bit, really.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A "Stench" of Anti-Porn Myopia: Starring Gail Dines and Featuring: "Damaged Genitals"?!?!

[Also crossposted to The SmackDog Chronicles (Ver. 2.6)]

It's one thing to witness the usual myopia of antipornography "feminists" on a daily basis.

It's quite another thing altogether to see it in as concentrated form, as in the following "essay".

It was originally posted on Thursday to a site called wickedlocal.com (unfortunately, the site seems to be out of service), then transferred to AdultFYI.com, where I discovered it. The "essay" is apparently in response to all the brohaha over college campuses across the country screening the feature porn movie Pirates 2: Stagletti's Revenge. The movie, whose original has won numerous awards for its theme and plot as well as representing what many critics see as the potential of erotica featuring high level art, has generated a bit of controversy; the University of Maryland at College Park cancelled a planned screening of the film due to protests from conservative activists and right-wing politicians threatening to cut off funding for the university. Not so with the University of California at Davis, which allowed Pirates 2 to be screened without much in the way of controversy there.

At least...not on campus.

However, someone -- more than likely an antiporn "radicalfeminist" activist -- took grand exception to UC-Davis allowing the film to be shown on their campus...hence, the following "essay". Normally, I wouldn't use this site for full fisking, but this article is so concentrated in its myopia that it more than deserves the in-dept treatment.

Plus...it features our favorite antiporn "feminist" activist, Dr. Gail Dines of Wheelock College, who brings her own special brand of wingnuttery into the mix, as you will see.

I will give some annotation as I go, as usual.

"Stench of eroticized violence": Actresses in Porn Have to Stop Working because of Damaged Genitals
I'm sure that you will get the gist of their point right away. But read on...

Students at several universities, including U.C. Davis and U. Maryland, recently planned to show a XXX “hardcore” porn film on campus, not as an educational event but as a form of entertainment. Maryland pulled the plug on showing the film for kicks and played a small part of it, instead, as part of an educational panel (albeit after the state legislature threatened to take away hundreds of millions in state funds). But U.C. Davis gave it the green light as a rip-roaring good time for students, citing “free speech” and calling the film a “safe alternative” to drinking.

I’m afraid to read the school’s definition of “safe.”


Now, the writer tends to ignore (or, more likely, wants the reader of his/her essay to ignore) the facts as to why UM-CP "pulled the plug" on the screening of Pirates 2...probably because it would have raised a particularly thorny question of collusion between antiporn "radicalfeminists" (of which the reader all but openly describes his/herself as) and more traditional right-wing Christian anti-feminist fundamentalists (whom mostly led the opposition at Maryland). And we all know that such collusion just doesn't exist, don't we??

And I'd say that compared to other hijinks on most college campuses, watching a basically moderate-core porn flick certainly does constitute "safe" by most people's definition. But, I guess that most people don't have the special perspectives that only radical antiporn "feminists" can offer.


Colleges well understand the multiple ways that porn is harmful. According to Oklahoma State Professor John Foubert, men who use porn are more likely to commit sex crimes than those who don’t.

No surprise there because porn normalizes and eroticizes violence against women. It hurts men, too. Porn addiction is a huge and growing problem that has destroyed the lives of many men — and studies show that men who use porn have worse sex than those who don’t. Other human relationships are also negatively affected. 75 percent of men in prison for child rape admit using child porn — and 75 percent of men in prison for child porn — admit sexually abusing numerous children.


I've bolded the more outrageous "statistics" put forth by our anonymous "essayist"....do they sound like they come from the same identical sources that gave Melissa Fairley her "95% of all 'prostituted women' want to get out of the business" meme?? How whacked out do you have to be to believe this crap??

I mean...isn't John Foubert kinda biased..and where does he get his "stats" that say that men who consume porn are more likely to commit "sex crimes" than those who don't?? Yeah...if you consider solo masturbation or seeking consensual sex with other willing adults to be a "sex crime". Or...if you merely consider getting an erection in the wrong place at the wrong time to be considered to be a "sex crime", too.

And how nice of our "essayist" to go the extra mile to interview all those child rapists in prison -- and all those pedophiles, too -- and trust their opinions that it was that evil PORN (especially the kind featuring consenting adults) that caused them to go after kids and rape young girls. Oh, wait, (s)he didn't do any research or interview any men in jail?? (S)He just lifted these "statistics" out of his/her as....piring ideology?? Oh, never mind...read on, MacDuff:

All these reasons explain why an “official” university showing of porn would violate Title IX as a form of sexual harassment. And while an “unofficial” presentation by students isn’t prohibited by federal law, schools can and should forbid all showings of such films on campus.


Oh, really??? I didn't know that Title IX could be used as a form of censorship?? I always thought that that was a mandate of protecting discrimination against women in college campuses...and that showing porn on campus in restricted areas didn't quite reach the level of discrimination. (And what about the women involved in the actual making of the film, or the women who flocked to see the movie...shouldn't they have the same rights of non-discrimination to see the film themselves??

We're not talking about “Sex in the City” here. According to Wheelock College pornography expert, Professor Gail Dines, the vast majority of “mainstream” porn sold in this country depicts women being brutalized — often by multiple men — with objects and weapons. And it isn’t “fantasy.” Real women are really hurt while men experience sexual pleasure. “Actresses” in the “industry” often have to stop working after only weeks because their genitals are so damaged and their bodies so mutilated they are no longer “valuable” in the business. If this is what “mainstream” porn is like — just imagine the “hard core” stuff they showed at U.C. Davis.


Ahhh, yes...Gail Dines....such an unbiased and openminded authority on pornography and its impacts on women. The woman who says that interracial porn is innately racist merely because it depicts Black men with huge penises. The woman who says that even "mainstream" girl-girl porn is harmful and must be banished because it reflects "male-centered" values imposed into female sexuality. No surprise that she would just as thusly label any and all depictions of porn as "women being brutalized" by men....because in her cracked mind, a man with an erection is one small step removed from a rapist...if not an actual rapist. Therefore, by definition, any sexual contact between a man (or group of men) and a woman depicted in porn automatically counts as "brutality" and "women being harmed while men experience sexual pleasure".

Oh....and I'm guessing that UC-Davis doesn't show "hard core" stuff at all, since most students there can easily get enough of that online through their own damn laptops.

But, it's this "actresses" in the "industry" being "brutalized" with "weapons" and "objects" (gee, you mean that dildos and vibrators are weapons of mass destruction more dangerous than even knives and guns????) meme that deserves special mention. Now, it's clear that women in porn are more than suspectable to personal injury on occasion; that's the occupational hazard of their job. Anal tears, anal lapses, vaginal tears, yeast infections...all are the possible hazards that come with the occupation. (The threat of STD's is not too far from the horizon, either...though thanks to the modern regimen of standardized STD testing, it is far less of a threat than assumed by outsiders.)

How this is that much different, however, from the possibility of physical injury from other athletic endeavors that are far more socially accepted than porn is, is a legitimate question. After all, football players, basketball players, ballet dancers, gymnansts, and even bowlers are just as much of risk to injury to their person, but I don't see anyone calling for the banishment of Football Division major college football or baseball or basketball..let alone calls to ban ballet. But, you know...sex is different.

This has nothing to do with morality or censorship — it’s about the serious damage caused to an entire society when sexual degradation of women is celebrated as pleasurable entertainment.

Instead of knee-jerk free speech excuses, universities should use this controversy as a teaching moment.


Yeah. Nothing at all to do with morality at all....despite the claima of "sexual degradation" of women. No claims of censorship, either....disregarding three paragraphs earlier, where our "essayist" directly calls for college campuses to simply not allow such films to be shown on their campuses.

And of course, none of those "knee-jerk free speech excuses"...that's only reserved for radical antiporn activists who are totally "censored" and overwhelmed by the full financial power and weight of "pornographers" and their evil puppets in the media.

Institutions of higher education enjoy an honorable place of leadership in this country — and they’re not the government — which means they aren’t beholden to the “real world” laws that allow the systematic degradation of women through the lawful proliferation of even the most vile pornography.

Schools should take this opportunity not only to rise above the “real world” but also to collapse the ugly hierarchy of isms that too often allows hateful material directed at women to be protected as free speech — while similar “speech” directed at other “types” of students is prohibited.


Ahhh...hate to break this to 'ya, Mr./Ms. Sparky, but most institutions of higher learning are publically owned and financed by the state, which means that they are still bound by the laws of their state's constitutions...the very ones that protect the right of their students as citizens of America and of their respective states to view certain media and content. And that would include even the right of material that some would consider to "allow the systematic degradation of women through the lawful proliferation of even the most vile pornography". Of course, we could debate whether Pirates 2 even comes close to the level of "vile pornography" or whether it promotes "the systematic degradation of women"...but that would require an actual debate, which seems not to be on the agenda of this "essayist".

And about those "other types of speech that are prohibited"...if by some chance (s)he is referring to "hate speech" codes used against particular kinds of speech directed at racial minorities (Blacks, Latin@s) or GLBT folk; well, we can also debate whether these codes really do protect such people, or whether they merely provide a crutch for those who are in power (and BTW, the latter still tend to be White men) to play divide and conquer. Besides, there is a fundamental difference between targeting actions directly going against certain groups and censoring individual thoughts....not to mention the idea that thinking about women (and men) as free and autonomous sexual beings is somehow at the same level as, say, burning a cross in a Black student's yard or marching around a Jewish neighborhood wearing Nazi gear. Most of us are capable of seeing the difference. Most of us, that is.

This point cannot be overstated. U.C. Davis thinks the brutal abuse of women in film is protected speech — but presumably they don’t feel the same way about films that celebrate the violent abuse of blacks, Jews, Muslims, etc.

Any school that indulges such a hierarchy should prepare itself for an uprising. Women are tired of the unequal enforcement of free speech principles on college campuses. It’s time to showcase this injustice by demanding that schools also show other movies that celebrate the violent abuse of blacks, Jews and Muslims.

If schools forbid these other films, women will at least have successfully unveiled the pernicious ways universities have participated in the subjugation of women in higher education and larger society.


Oh, now wait a minute.....hold the fuck up here. OK....so the alternative to simply not showing such "degrading" and "damaging" porn flicks as Pirates 2 on college campuses is to simply have supposedly progressive radicafeminst women on campus rise up and demand that schools show....Birth of a Nation?!?!?! Oh. now I get it....better to have racism, anti-Muslim bigotry, homophobia, and all the other isms to thrive so that "women" can get rid of the evil that is porn, right??? How mightily progressive of you, Sparky. NOT.

And what delicious irony....universities who open their campuses to women, who give out scholarships to women, who, thanks to the aformentioned Title IX, have given so many oppurtunities to women, and who contain all those nice Women's Studies curricula which produces such "radicalfeminists" as Gail Dines....they are all just part of the evil Male Conspiracy. All due to one feature porn flick.

The remaining option is for schools to allow all styles of violent, hate-filled movies to be shown as entertainment — in venues where core American values such as civility and equality are forming roots in newly developing minds. And then what will happen to our communities of young people — when campus air becomes a pungent fog of “hatred as pleasure,” seeping into the brains of our next generation of leaders as they learn about politics, science, business, the arts, law and human behavior?

“Safe” alternative to drinking, indeed.


Yup, yup, yup....we must not allow impressionable minds to be polluted by bad ideas...especially the idea that consensual sex can actually be an enjoyable thing to ease the burden of college life. Especially the idea that anal sex is something other than the main transmission of HIV/AIDS among gay men. Especially the idea that women might just discover that sex -- especially sex with men -- could be an actual pleasurable and mutually satisfying experience. Or that explicit sex can be reconciled with high art and thematic values.

Such evil, hostile beliefs must be purged from our universities pronto, so that our women can be raised with integrity and honor, and with the total ignorance and blindness and wilfull repression that only pure radicalfeminists can provide.

And this is why "we" must prevent films like Pirates 2 from being screened at college campuses. And why people like Sasha Grey must be outed for the dirty slut and perverted trollop she really is.

Congratulations, Professor Dines...you've created another Frankenstein.

Now..pardon me while I take a cold shower to wash the stench of horseshit off my body. Ugh.

(Much props to our fearless Henchwoman God Emperor for discovering this essay mountain of crap first, for giving it the business it deserves, and for issuing the challenge.)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Two Significant FTW's From AVN: Mark Kernes on "Sexting", And Adelia From Digital Playground on College Censorship

With all respect to the Iowa Supreme Court for the most progressive decision this side of Brown vs. Board of Education in Topeka, I found two articles today that really give me some hope for this world.

First off, there is the irrepressible Mark Kernes over at AVN, who just released a column that basically smashes the debate about teen "sexting" and cuts through the bullshit arguments for censorship thereof. Snippage:
There is a growing segment of society that is creating pornography involving children. Children in underwear. Children partially or completely nude. Children having sex with other children.

That growing segment of society is ... children.

The first reports of "sexting" have been making the news pretty consistently recently, and while adult companies have been providing cellphone downloads of adult content for at least five years, the concept has only now captured the mainstream public's imagination because a growing number of those doing the sexting are minors. Kids in Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah have all been busted for it. And there's even been one suicide reportedly traced to "sexting remorse."

MySpace, Facebook and other personal contact sites have found that an increasing number of minor teens - 54% , by one study - have been discussing sex, drugs and posting sexually explicit images to their pages. Sexting, because it's a bit newer - the first news reports of it surfaced in 2005, though a pair of underage teens were busted in '04 in Florida for emailing photos of each other having sex - hasn't attracted quite as many followers; just 20% of 13- to 19-year-olds , according to a survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, which sadly includes legal sexters with the underage ones.

[...]

Conservative writer (and anti-porn activist) Maggie Gallagher posed what may be the most important question on this subject in a recent Townhall.com column - and in the process, admitted something that conservatives spend their entire careers trying to deny: "Right now we have a decision to make: Is underage porn (these aren't really children) a crime or not? If so, how do we treat girls and boys who engage in it 'for fun' and not for profit?"

First, the admission: "these aren't really children." Aren't they? The law says they are. Various religions have long claimed that kids are too "innocent" to think of doing such things. As for the "crime": When it comes to "adult porn," using a performer who is 17 years, 11 months, 30 days, 23 hours and 59 minutes old gets you busted, but if the producer waits one more minute to shoot her, she's perfectly legal. That's clearly insane.

If there's one thing that this "sexting" brouhaha ought to teach us, it's that "18" is even less of a magic number now than it's ever been. Kids don't suddenly become sexual at the stroke of midnight on their eighteenth birthday. They become sexual when their bodies start producing estradiol (in girls) and testosterone (in boys), and when something called the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) starts pulsing from the hypothalamus area of their brains. For girls, that can be as young as 9; boys take a year or so longer. The kids may be unclear what to do when that happens (gosh, thanks, abstinence-only education!) but they'll figure it out soon enough. That's why sex is an instinct, not a learned behavior. Nobody had to teach the first humanoids how to mate; they figured it out quite easily for themselves, and even though modern humans' instincts have atrophied, they still procreate well enough to (over)run the whole fucking planet.

It's this instinct that the Deeply Religious deny, even as they themselves produce families with ten or 15 kids. They know that sex is so pleasurable that unless they invent a God to decree that sex can take place only between certain people of a certain age (and gender) under certain conditions, it would be (is!) humanity's favorite pastime ... and then who'd milk the cows and build the widgets?

(Emphasis added by me .)

The full column by Kernes can be found here.

Quick shoutout to Vicky Vette: What's that you say about raising the age of eligibility in porn?? How will that work when we already have 15 and 16 year olds who probably know more about sex and making sex flicks through "sexting" than most 25 year olds??

FTW #2 is also from AVN, but on a similar but different subject....here, the big controversy is over an aborted screening of the feature porn flick Pirates 2: Stagnetti's Revenge at the University of Maryland-College Park due to objections from right-wingers and fundie conservatives.

Yesterday (Thursday), CNN's Prime News took on the controversy, featuring the state senator (Andrew Harris who threatened to cancel state funding for the college unless they canceled the screening, and Adelia, the marketing director for Digital Playground, the production company for Pirates 2.

Considering that the moderator of the "debate" happened to be a right-winger, Adelia might have felt double teamed...but it must not have deterred her from doing some serious damage, according to this roundup from AVN:

CHATSWORTH, Calif. — Digital Playground marketing director Adella appeared Thursday evening on CNN's "Prime News" to discuss the controversy surrounding a canceled student screening of Pirates II: Stagnetti's Revenge at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Right-wing anchor Mike Galanos moderated the face-off between Adella and state Sen. Andrew Harris, the GOP politician who pressured the school into canceling the show by threatening to deny state funds to any school showing a porn flick outside of a classroom setting.

Galanos made his position clear when he proclaimed that X-rated movies are worse than crack cocaine. He leaned heavily on the argument that porn is "addictive" and "ruins lives" of innocent viewers.

Harris compared watching porn to smoking cigarettes. If smoking is banned on a campus where porn is screened, then the school's priorities are clearly askew, Harris argued.

Adella handled this hysterical blast of outraged rhetoric with pointed out that contrary to the knee-jerk attitude that porn degrades women, Pirates II does not cater to fantasies of degradation.She went on to mention that the movie is the product of a female-operated company.

Adella also pointed out that neither of her ideological opponents had seen the movie, making their arguments a clear case of contempt prior to investigation. Galanos dismissed this argument by claiming that he'd "seen the trailer".

"I had a great time on CNN and relished the opportunity to engage in a discussion with those responsible for censoring consenting adults," Adella said. "It was empowering to educate the senator on the modern era of adult entertainment, including female owned and operated studios, female viewers, and the need to embrace sex.

[full story here]

More folk like Adelia would only be a good thing.