Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Ask Eva: BSDM and Feminism. Can I submit and still consider myself a feminist?

Originally asked via the "Ask Eva"column in Birdee Magazine. I have been asked about this article/letter a lot lately so I decided to post it up here as unfortunately Birdee does not exist any more (RIP to the best young women's publication since Dolly in the 90s).

Hey, Eva,
I'm super curious about BDSM, but everything I find online is either about 50 Shades or is fake ass porn. What's it really like? Does it really portray abuse? Why am I interested in it but against abuse?!?

Hey there!

This is a really interesting question and one I get asked a lot. Especially within the boundaries of feminism.
How can women, who call themselves feminists, be even remotely interested in submission? Doesn't it go against everything we've been taught?
Well actually, no. It does not. And, once you sort a few things out in your head., it's actually not that hard to get your head around it at all.

Firstly, it's really important to separate the idea of “submission” from that of weakness. It isn't. It is actually quite a strong thing to give your power over to someone else. The trust and self belief you need to be able to do it is something that can make you a very strong and powerful person within yourself and all other areas of your life.

Secondly, you need to stop thinking of it in terms of “submitting to a man”. If you are a heterosexual person, then ultimately (although of course not always) your sexual fantasies, whatever they are, will most likely be in the area of your sexuality. If you are a straight female who is interested in submission, your dominant partner is most likely going to be a male. If you are a gay female, your dominant partner is most likely going to be female. It's not about submitting to a man... It is about submitting. There are subs and Doms in all areas of sexuality. Gay, straight, bi, poly... Everywhere.

Thirdly, and probably most importantly, BDSM is not abuse. It isn't. It is healthy, consensual fun between two adults. The difference and it's a MASSIVE one, is the word consent. The Dominant partner is not taking anything without permission. They are not doing anything that has not been agreed to prior. They have been given the gift of your submission and that is something a true Dominant will treasure, and treat with the utmost care and respect. It is a huge responsibility to be in charge of someone's power, and yet, in a true BDSM setting, as much as it may not seem so from an outside perspective, the submissive has ALL the power.
They control the level of play, the boundaries in which they have set in place, they are in control of how far it goes, and the minute they want it to stop, it stops.

BDSM is not all about mouth gags and whips either. Sure, some people love that, and that's great, but if someone just wants to hurt you, and doesn't care about your feelings or your pleasure, then that is abuse. BDSM is actually very equal. The pleasure you derive from your submission should be equal to the pleasure the Dominant gets from being dominating. Because the thing is, pain isn't necessarily all that bad a thing. I love certain sorts of pain. And not just sexual stuff.

I love the pain of getting a tattoo. I love that omg-I've-just-boxed-for-an-hour-and-my-arms-are-gonna-fall-off pain. And sometimes I love the feel of a nice hard slap on my arse when I'm having sex. It's a totally different sort of pain that if someone was to randomly come up to me and slap me on the arse. Why? Well because it is intimate. It is a shared experience with someone I choose to be intimate with. And, like the amazing goodness of salted caramel, its the salty and sweet combination of pleasure and pain that just... Well... It works! It also works the other way round too. I enjoy being the Dominant side too and having someone else's pleasure and trust in my hands. It's a power trip in a very different way. It is a massive responsibility too, and it is up to me to make sure their pleasure is key, because knowing they're loving it... That's what gives me pleasure.

Look at it this way. When we kiss we often touch tongues. That's hot. That's sexy! But if some random person came up to you and just stuck their tongue in your mouth it would be gross. It would be rude. It would be abuse. But kissing isn't any of those things. Because you are mutually consenting to put tongues in each other's mouths.

I can totally get why it can seem so hard to understand from the outside, when all you have to go on is things like bad porn and Fifty Shades. The main problem with this book and film lies in the consent gauge. There are many many times where it feels like Ana is being controlled in ways she has not consented to nor feels comfortable with, and Christian Grey doesn't give a crap. It's all about him. That's abuse. Not BDSM. And that's what has got the BDSM community in such a rage about it. It doesn't portray a healthy relationship in any way.

I am going to leave you with the words of a good mate of mine, Dan. She not only holds a rather important managerial role in a large company, she is also a trained BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) fighter who mentors young Islamic women in BJJ and self defence and self confidence. She is a powerful and strong-minded feminist with a wicked sense of humour, a determined sense of self and social justice. She also lives in a full-time submissive relationship with her Dominant partner.

As a manager, I spend most of my days telling people what to do. Whilst it's rewarding, it occurred to me that I needed something in my life to offset being so darn dominant. Enter my relationship dynamic. It was my choice to be utterly submissive to the man I love. It's my choice to relinquish all control and allow Him to call the shots with my body, mind and soul, especially in the bedroom. He coaches me through tricky situations, and gives me praise when I excel. We talk about EVERYTHING - sexual limitations, feelings, health - everything. Its so easy because there is never a power struggle. We are both feminists. This is, by far, the most rewarding relationship and experience of my life. My happiness level is off the chart. [my Dom] and I train together too so feel free to mention that I'm as strong as fuck, and frequently kick His sexy arse.”

Equality. Consent. Love. Trust. Understanding. What all strong relationships are built on. How you choose to express it and what you choose to do in the bedroom is entirely your choice and your prerogative. It's not up to anyone else to tell you what you like or don't like. Or what is degrading or not. It is only degrading if YOU feel degraded by it, not because someone else does. That's like me expecting you not to eat chocolate because I am on a diet. It just doesn't work that way. And yet, when it comes to sex, everyone is an expert in telling everyone else what they should and should not be enjoying or liking. And, unfortunately, sometimes feminists can be the worst at that.
Don't listen to it. It's between you and the people you choose to share it with. No one else. 
So go get exploring, and experimenting and remember, it's all about consent. 

Monday, 23 April 2018

No Little Girl and Other Lies

No Little Girl and other lies.

Not so long ago I wrote an article for the Eros Journal about the # PornHarmKids campaign that was centred around the idea that porn is dangerous for children and therefore should be banned. (You can find a copy of the magazine here: http://eros.org.au/NEJ/issue5/mobile/index.html
Look for issue no. 5 and flick to page 16)

On the surface this movement seemed fairly logical (of course no-one wants their kids accidentally stumbling across, or even deliberately seeking out, hardcore pornography) but when looked at a little deeper it was evident that it had far less to do with protecting children, and far more to do with sexual negativity, stopping conversations and sex education, as well as silencing performers and producers and those invested in the adult industry. To the sex-negative radical feminists that lead these movements anyone involved in the sex industry is either a rapist or a victim and anyone who deems to speak out positively about it is a brainwashed idiot who doesn’t care about women or children.

It’s definitely a clever tactic. I mean, there are few things that tug the heart-strings and create emotive responses more than the idea of children being hurt. In the plight to stop world hunger or extreme poverty the images we see on our TVs are of starved, dying children. When we talk car safety, germ cleaning, internet danger, food health, anything really we know that using children, or the phrase “As a mother...” is a clear and effective way to get people thinking with their emotions and are therefore far easier to sway to their way of thinking.

What’s wrong with that? I hear you ask… Of COURSE we don’t want children dying or hurt or damaged. Why is it so bad to protect the most vulnerable among us? We’re adults, that’s our job!
Well yes, of course, you’re right in many ways… But unfortunately for every good thing that comes from the idea of “protecting children” come those who would use our emotions against us, to spread misinformation and downright lies, all in the name of “Saving The Children”.
This is evident when it comes to groups like anti-vaxxers or pro-lifers. They also use photographs of distressed children to get their messages across. They use highly emotive language as well as clever tricks with language to “prove” their sides and dismiss anything spoken against it as conspiracy or “paid shills”, and are quick to delete, block or, in some extreme cases, antagonise and rally against people in the most horrid of ways (look at the anti Light for Riley people or Sandyhook “truthers” if you need evidence of this).

So yes. It’s clever. Really clever. We, as society as a whole, protect our young. We don’t want to see them hurt or upset, and so using them to highlight an issue or danger gives us that instinctual protector vibe and we feel obligated to help.

Probably one of the most distressing things we can think of when it comes to bad things that can happen to our kids is sexual abuse. The idea of their innocence being ripped away, their futures shattered. It’s horrible to think about and even more horrible to know it actually happens. A lot. To children all over the world from the richest suburbs to the most poverty stricken slums. No-one wants to think that this sort of thing might happen to their kids and so campaigns like #PornHarmsKids effectively draws on that as well as the age-old idea that sex itself - not rape or molestation, just sex- is bad and wrong and dirty for women to do unless, of course, they are married, and therefore any woman involved in anything to do with the sex industry must have been forced and is in need of rescue.

It is with these dirty tactics and sex-negative attitudes that the latest hashtag has spawned: #NoLittleGirl.

In the wake of the FOSTA/SESTA debacle (An American bill that claims to fight sex trafficking but that actually just puts sex workers in a lot of danger. For more info, and I absolutely encourage everyone to look into this and why it’s so dangerous, please read here: https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/4/13/17172762/fosta-sesta-backpage-230-internet-freedom ) radical feminists are using the sudden focus on sex trafficking versus sex work (newsflash, there is NO connection between the two) to once again demonise sex work and sex workers by stating that because no little girl would ever possibly dream of growing up to be a sex worker it is somehow proof that the sex industry is gross and dangerous and should be shut down.

Now, by using this logic can we also assume no little girl ever dreamed of cleaning up vomit and shit so therefore we should ban nursing or cleaning? Also I don’t know how many little girls grew up dreaming of working 40 hours a week behind a checkout, so sorry retail industry, you’ve got to go. In fact I could name a hundred jobs that no-one, girl or boy, would ever dream of doing when they grow up because they’re either gross or hard or boring or just terrible. I mean, when you think about it, that’s practically every job! The only difference being that sex work contains sex and sex is icky and bad.

But, regardless of that, the claim that No Little Girl ever dreams of growing up to be a sex worker is in itself false.

How do I know this? Because I was one of them. From the earliest age I can remember, before I knew what sex was, what orgasms were, what lust or love or desire was… Before any of that I knew I liked it. I knew about the sensations and the way it made me feel. I knew I wanted to explore it. As I grew up and learnt words to put to those feelings I got even more curious, and at whatever age it was that I finally found out some people have sex as a job it was something I wanted to do. I have since met hundreds of women who have said the same, and even more who have said they were fascinated by sex and sexual feelings as a kid even if they didn’t necessarily want to do it for work, hell even Dolly Parton claims she looks the way she looks because she modelled herself on the town hooker she once spotted as a child and was fascinated by.

It’s also important to note, because you will NEVER see anti sex work protestors speak of it as it ruins their narrative, that not all sex workers are women, and not all sex work clients are men. This is actually one of the most important omissions in their arguments because it shows the truth. That women using sex as work makes them uncomfortable because sex itself makes them uncomfortable. It’s got NOTHING to do with “protecting’ women and everything to do with “controlling” women’s sexuality and sexual independence, ironically just like what they say they are trying to fight. It’s a bizarre and twisted point of view that has stemmed from the backwards and dangerous way we speak and learn and teach about sex.

We drill sex negativity into children in so many ways, whether it’s referring to certain parts of their body as “rude” or punishing them for exploring themselves “Don’t touch there it’s dirty!” or expecting girls to be “pure” and policing the length of their skirts or bare shoulders. It’s not only ridiculous (there is nothing wrong with bodies) it’s also incredibly dangerous to their growth and development into a healthy adult. The thing is children DO think about sex or the good-feeling sensations they get in their tummies and, while sex itself is certainly not an act for children, the education around it must be positive and void of shame so that they can feel free and safe to explore and learn and have a solid base of facts and family and love to fall back on when things get tricky or confusing. And you know what? If any of those children do decide when they’re older that they want to work in the sex industry, it is up to us as the generation before to provide safe and healthy environments for them to do so. Pushing for a ban on the industry in the name of stopping trafficking is as useless as shutting down the local pharmacy because someone has a meth lab on the street. 

Sex work IS work. It is a valid and necessary job that provides comfort and intimacy and fun as well as financial security and independence for the people who do it. Regardless of if the provider is working from the penthouse suite of a fancy hotel or on the street, each of them, and every level in between, deserves respect and security and protection and the only way that this can be done is with decriminalisation. It doesn’t actually matter if YOU personally would never do that job or find it distasteful, it’s not about you. It’s about the fact that sex work is not ever going to go away and it shouldn’t have to. That sex trafficking is NOT the same and there are already laws and legislations in place for combatting it. And that as humans living on the same planet we have an obligation to make sure everyone doing a job is kept safe and has the same rights and protections as anyone else doing a job.

If you need any more proof that I am not alone and that sex workers and women around the world actually DID think about sex and pleasure when they were kids, go and search out the hashtag. In true internet activist style it has been taken over by sex positivity and stories from all over the world and all over the gender spectrum showing how false this claim really is and what a ridiculous logic leap they’ve taken.

In my activism and my feminism I truly believe that the only thing little girls should ever grow up not wanting to do is silence other women and stifle their choices (some of whom are the most vulnerable and marginalised in the world) and put them in unsafe and dangerous positions just because what they’ve chosen to do makes her feel icky. Listen to sex workers, provide them with rights not rescue, and join the fight for decriminalisation… And please, stop using children to clutch at your pearls. Their hands are only small and they’d rather be playing with Lego.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

The Problem With ProLube... Or, Do You Even Vagina, Bro?

Okay, folks... Strap yourself in cos we're going on a helluva ride!
This one is a doozy! It's got everything you could hope for in an adventure ride. It's got twists and turns, false claims and weird science. It's got insults and lies and, best of all, MAGIC!!!
(It also has a shit load of links and screenshots so bear with me),

I'm also not the first person to blog about this.
There have been quite a few others as concerned as I am including @EmmelinePeaches and her great blog, @DangerousLilly in her Tumblr, and @cbpolis who uses her blog on this topic to show how and where you can complain.

But now... Let the ride begin!!

By now, if you're a follower of mine on Twitter, you're probably aware of the company "Use to Believe" and their magic wonder lubricant, ProLube. I was alerted to it by a good friend and gorgeous sex worker @NtyNikki and, after having a look at the website and reading it all for myself, I decided to take to the mean streets of Twitter and use my connections within the sex industry world, the sex blogger world and the science world to question, investigate and highlight the very big concerns I have about this product.
But first, if you're not aware... Let me tell you about ProLube...

<insert sarcasm font and put on your tin foil hats>
ProLube is so amazing that you won't even be able to believe how amazing it is unless you use it. It will totally science the hell out of your vag. So much so that one application will have you lubricated all day and, just a mere ten hours after that you'll be way horny and aroused as fuck because our magic lube is also a magic-lady-hornifier. Ooh and it will totally clear up your pimples and that nasty vagina-smelling vagina smell girls have. It will make all your period cramps totally gone - except for the fact that you shouldn't use it during your period - and, most super awesomely and magically of all, it will protect against STIs including HIV (but only if you use a condom.... and, like, if you do get HIV or something while using it then it's totally the condoms fault and you should sue the condom company). And it absolutely, totally, 100% works. Honest! I mean sure, there are no clinical trials or evidence or independent testing or scientific backings or any of that pesky “proof” people like to go on about because that's unnecessary and anyway, for safety reasons we decided not to do any tests. You just have to use it to believe it. But no, I'm not going to tell you what's in it. You're far too dumb to understand how the ingredients will work anyway, and, like, you totally wouldn't believe it anyway. It's like magic.

Seriously. You cannot make this shit up.

Out of all the strange claims and bizarre logic and weird science, one thing this dude has correctly surmised is that I am not a scientist. He's right. I'm not. I have a pretty crap brain for it actually... So, when he finally (after days of being asked by many people) posted this link to the "Science" and told us that it was “too advance” I agreed.

Although, as you can see, he underestimated the folks of Twitter... And also my gorgeous friend who shall henceforth be referred to as Bec the Sweary Science Bitch - @bklistingblog - (seriously, she's awesome. Think SciBabe with a Mauritian tilt and an obsession with Star Trek). Bec is not a nuff brain like me. She is a certified, legit, all powerful sciencer with bachelor degrees in Science, Biomedical Science and Health Science. She is a clinical innovation specialist with a focus on global health and microbiology and is an all round smart cookie who knows her shit when it comes to the science of germs and diseases and how all that shit works.
So I sent it to her.
After she finished laughing and asking me “what the fucking fuck, is this dude actually serious, holy fuck what?” She sent me a tell-me-like-I'm-five summary.

For the TL;DRs – It's bad science. It makes no sense. It's guesses at best, and lies at worst... Oh, and according to a couple of other sciencer Tweeps who read it too, a lot of it also seems to have been stolen from other writers, cut and edited, and then pasted together with perhaps ProLube itself.

For the rest, here are the screenshots of her awesome sciencey summary and notes to the author of it:

But enough of the science for now. We have already established I am not a scieney scientist, but something I am, and something I am very proud of being, is a sex worker. Yeah, it's been a while since I've done a job, but that doesn't matter. In my head and my heart I will always be a sex worker.
I am also a sexpert. I research, write, talk about and educate on sex, sexuality, sexual practices and sex work and one of the things that has really bugged me about this whole crazy ride through Lube Town is this company's hijacking of the Red Umbrella symbol and the incredibly ignorant and condescending marketing towards sex workers.
For those who are unaware, the red umbrella is an international symbol of sex worker solidarity and respect. It is special. It is important. And it is ours.

What this person (or persons... who knows how many whackjobs are involved in this scheme) fails to understand, and refuses to acknowledge, is that sex workers not only don't need this help, they also do not want it. Outside sources (read: people not associated in any way with sex work) who claim to want to help, protect and save sex workers are uniformly rejected and avoided, and often hated, by sex workers. They have no knowledge of our work, what we do, how we do, or why we do it. They have assumptions and guesses based on propaganda and whorephobia and, 99 times out of 100, they get it all dreadfully wrong.
This was evident when Mr ProLube was asked why he was marketing to sex workers. His reply? Basically, because sex workers have lots of sex with random people, they don't know who, or what infections, said random people might have.

Well duh. That's not fucking rocket science. But, the thing is, we already know this, buddy. We aren't fucking idiots.
The fact of the matter is that sex workers have one of the lowest rates of STIs than ANY OTHER DEMOGRAPHIC.
Do you know why this is?
Because sex workers are very fucking aware of the risk associated with the work they do and take many many precautions against this. Sex workers are masters of condoms and masters of STI spotting. They can tell the difference between a milk spot and a genital wart. Between eczema and herpes. They can tell if that crusty shit on a penis is just that the dude hasn't washed properly, or if he has gonorrhoea. They. Know. Their. Shit. They are regularly tested and regularly updating their knowledge on all thing sexual health. Because of this, sex workers are the first people who will jump up and down with damn good authority and tell you there is no way, without any proof, scientific data, clinical trials and independent testing and reviews, that they will believe your lube can prevent HIV and other STIs, or waste their well-earned money buying it to find out.
And what about sex workers in countries and places where the education on STIs and protection may not be as prevalent as it is in Westernised places like Australia and the UK etc? 
Well they are precisely the people who need to be warned against this stuff. These are women (yes I know not all sex workers are women but this is marketed as a female lubricant) who will listen to this woo-science and believe it. These are women who will stick this lube inside them and believe they are safe from disease. These are the women who will die because of this false advertising and irresponsible bullshit.

Something sex workers will also tell you, and everyone else they can get within earshot, is that despite your insistence that it's true, and despite your pretty little web page telling us so, there is absolutely NO CURE FOR HERPES!
Yes, you heard me right, folks. Mr ProLube also has a product that he claims (again without any proof or science backing or trials) will cure herpes.

He says someone he knows used it once and their herpes magically disappeared and they were cured (but for best practices you should apply thrice).

This is impossible. There is no cure for herpes. There just isn't. There are creams and pills and stuff that can help lessen your outbreaks and maybe even prevent you from getting an outbreak at all... But there IS NO CURE. The herpes virus is with you for life. It is highly contagious and completely incurable.
The fact that this company is making these outrageous claims is worse than just irresponsible. It's deadly. I urge every single one of you reading this blog to report them. Not just to Twitter, because although that may disable a platform of theirs it won't actually stop them from selling their nasty magical lie lube, but to the relevant authority in your country. The TGAThe FDA. Even The ACCC or relevant Consumer Affairs board in your country.

Oh, don't you worry, Mr ProLube. That is exactly what I will do. Because this shit is bad. And, quite frankly, I'd like to see it die a horrible death before someone who believes their lies does.

Index Labels

#NoLittleGirl A Girl's Guide To Getting Off acceptance ads adult shop adults advertising advice angry Angry Aussie AngryAussie animals annoying app art Australia Australian People Magazine Australian Red Cross awkward awkwardness bad sex BDSM bigotry blood blood donations blow-up dolls bullshit bullying bumping uglies celebrities censorship Channel Ten Chantelle Austin children Chocolate choice CineKink cleaning clitoris. Orgasms. multiple orgasms. sexy. sex shop comedy condoms confusion Cosmo Magazine costumes couples sex toys Craig Thompson deception depression discrimination doing the right thing don't be an idiot Dr Caroline Norma educational embarrassing embarrassment equality erotic erotica Eva exploitation famous fantasy feminism feminist porn Feminist Porn Awards fetish Food FOSTA frustration fun Fun Factory Fun Toys funny future G-Spot toys G-Vibe G-Vibe 2 gay marriage GLBTI Go The Fuck To Sleep Grand Prix grief hate Herpes. STIs HIV HollyInAlbury Homophobia humor humour hypocrisy I Bet This Turkey Can Get More Likes Than NOM impotence information Je Joue Jimmy Jane jokes kegel kegel balls Kim Kardashian Kyle and Jackie O laugh Lelo Lelo Ida LGBTI LGBTI Youth lies lifeline. loss lube lubricant male sex toys Margaret Court masturbation media Men menstruation messy Mia Freedman misogyny Morgana Muses movies Noni Hazlehurst Nu Nu Sensuelle Point Nu sex toys Nu Vibrators old man opportunity orgasm parents passion patience pelvic floor pelvic floor exercises period sex Permission 4 Pleasure Petra Joy porn pornography presenting ProLube prostitution publishers publishing radio rant rape realism regret religion review sad sadness safe sex satire scam scammers science SETSA sex sex education sex positive sex shop sex shops sex sponge sex toy sex toy review sex toys sex work sex workers sex-positive Sex. sex work sexpert sexualisation of minors sexy silence silly skanks skittles Slut shaming smartphone song Sophie Loves Sex sponges stereotypes STI Stigma stripping submission Swan Swan sex toys tattoos teenagers television tennis The Australian Sex Party The Circle thruster Tim Tams Todd Akin turn offs TV unrealistic unsexy vagina vibrator vibrators video ViolaTurtleDove waiting We-Vibe We-Vibe 4 We-Vibe 4 Plus weird Whorephobia Womanizer women women's health writing your tattoos make you a horrible mother