Pamela Anderson’s opinion piece in the “Wall Street Journal” a few weeks ago (Take the Pledge: No More Indulging Porn, August 31, 2016), calling attention to, as she puts it, “the true nature and danger of porn,” inspired me to revive my long dormant blog.
As difficult as it was to look past the hypocrisy of a woman who profited by using her sexuality arguing that depictions of sex have a “corrosive effect on a man’s soul and on his ability to function,” I seriously considered Ms. Anderson’s argument. I truly did. And, even acknowledging my understandable bias, Ms. Anderson and her coauthor, Rabbi Boteach, I believe, are wrong.
In their opinion piece, they state that as many as 99% of adult men and 86% of adult women have viewed porn. As part of researching the literature relating to porn, I came across a point of humor and frustration amongst researchers: There is no way to assemble a control group because everyone has viewed porn. Porn is, as it were, part of the experience of being human.
Ms. Anderson’s piece assumes, without support, that viewing porn is potentially addictive. The American Psychiatric Association disagrees, concluding that there is insufficient evidence for such a diagnosis.
Before I make the argument that porn is actually good for viewers, I’m going to put forth my strongest argument in favor of the wide and unfettered availability of a variety of porn. Such availability is, among other things, a clear sign of a free people and a robust exchange of ideas.
Although Ms. Anderson does not go so far as to argue that porn be banned, blocked or censored, a call for government action lurks just beneath her warnings of public hazard, suffering families, imploded marriages, and (I kid you not) Anthony Weiner’s shit show. Ms. Anderson either does not differentiate or fails to draw distinctions between viewing porn and sexting.
How would the public’s consumption of porn be monitored? Who would do the monitoring? Who would make the determination that certain content is illicit? What is porn? In the 1964 case Jacobellis v. Ohio, which addressed whether Ohio could ban the showing of a film it had deemed to be obscene, Supreme Court Justice Stewart Potter famously defined hardcore pornography by saying, “I know it when I see it.” With that sort of undefined standard, the censors would have unfettered discretion to ban or block anything.
According to the International Modern Media Institute, a watchdog organization for media freedom, “It is technically impossible to censor content delivered over the Internet without monitoring all telecommunications. Not just unwanted communications or inappropriate material, everything must be examined automatically by unsupervised machines which make the final decision on whether to allow the content to continue or not. This level of government surveillance directly conflicts with the idea of a free society.” A society without internet porn already exists, Ms. Anderson. It’s called North Korea.
On a more personal level, I cannot tell you how many clients have told me that watching Internet porn was the first step in exploring and finding their true sexual identities. Porn is proof and reassurance to people that their sexual preferences and desires, though not necessarily accepted publicly, are not bizarre, and need not be cause for shame.
I am aware that researchers have attempted to determine whether viewing porn is correlated with sexual misconduct or violence. As I mentioned previously, the difficulty in answering such a question is in identifying a control group (those that don’t view porn) in a society where 99% of all men may have, at one time, viewed porn. That said, over the same period of time that porn viewing rates have climbed to 99%, the rate of sexual violence has in the United States has dropped substantially. I won’t make the claim that the wide availability of porn has caused the drop, but the numbers foreclose any argument that such wide availability has led to a spike in sexual violence. In any event, common sense tells me that if people are at home watching internet porn, they are not simultaneously harming other people.
Ms. Anderson and her coauthor ultimately resort to the weakest of arguments, the one that proves to me the intellectual bankruptcy of their ideas. They argue that porn is bad for kids. Kids are the “crack babies of porn,” they claim. The surest indication that one side has lost the argument is when it purports to be protecting children. For the sake of brevity, I’ll simply acknowledge that Internet porn, like motorcycles, tequila, and dynamite, are not appropriate for use by children. If the standard by which we determine what will be available to adults in a free society is whether something is appropriate for use by children, we adults would miss out on many, many things that make life rich with excitement, color, and pleasure. Imagine a world with lots of Dora and no Game of Thrones.
I acknowledge that this blog post has crossed over from informative to indulgent, but bear in mind, as I make this last point, that I have not posted in about a year. For me, porn is, among other things, an expression of sexual freedom and a rejection of patriarchy. I read recently in an article from “The Atlantic” online, that in Colonial America, “common scold” laws were used to prevent women from being too loud or too visible. Women that ran afoul of such laws were sometimes fitted with a “scold’s bridle,” which fit over the head and depressed the tongue to prevent them from speaking. I have no intention of submitting to the Ms. Anderson’s metaphorical “scold’s bridle.” I’ll continue to advocate for a free society by supporting personal autonomy, sexual freedom, and the widespread availability of pornography.
Take heart. The new sharing economy is not going to put us all out of business.
By now you have heard about Ashley Madison, a website promoting extra-marital and other illicit affairs among its members thatwas compromised by a hacker or group of hackers who exposed the confidential information of its approximately thirty million members. The exposed information included email addresses, credit card numbers, and sometimes naughty sexual fantasies. Ashley Madison’sCEO, Noel Biderman, has been forced out and a planned public offering has been axed.
Within days of the 9.7 gigabyte data dump hitting the web, multiple search tools were made available to aid both shameless rubber necks and voyeuristic in discovering which of their friends, families, and coworkers had been swindled out of their$70 fee, and fed delusions of being Mad Men’s Roger Sterling to a bargain version of Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks).
Although it can be amusing when hypocrisy is exposed (thank you Josh Duggar!), I am generally concerned about the vicious moral judgment and public shaming of individuals with respect to private sexual conduct. I take exception to the suggestion that those who were “outed” got what they deserved for signing up for Ashley Madison’s service.
Ashley Madison is in a heap of trouble for a number of good reasons. It failed tosafeguard its members confidential information, and apparently failed to make good on a ‘Full Delete’ service it offeredwhich promised to completely eliminate user profiles and all associated data for a fee. But the part of the story that truly disturbed me, and which inspired me to write on this topic, were the claims by the vetted male members that they had not actually had an affair. “Skepticism is the chastity of intellect, and it is shameful to surrender it too soon, ” wrote George Santayana. I was originally skeptical of such claims. I’d been as likely to believe Josh Duggar’s (reality tv personality from 19 Kids and Counting & family values activist) claim that he was only on Ashley Madison to find cheater so he could save their souls. But then I looked at the members, which really tell the story.
According to extensive research done by Annalee Newitz with the design and technology blog Gizmodo, of the thirty million members, only about twelve thousand membershipsbelonged to real women who were active users on the site. That comes out to one female member for every 2,500 male members. With odds like that, Ashley Madison basically duped these unsuspecting men out of their $70.00. In Josh Duggar’s case, it was $986.76 to maintain two accounts for two years, but who’s counting.
So how did Ashley Madison pull off a heist that would impress even Henry Hill? Aside from preying on men’s most obvious weakness, how did it sell its male members on this statistically improbable proposition?
The new sharing economy, the staff of Uber and Airbnb, has been well covered in the business press over the last few years. The sharing economy, or the gig economy as Hillary Clinton refers to it, allows people to convert personal, non productive assets, into productive capital, assets. This business model works well where what is offered is a certain type of the service as a kind of valued but vital commodity, such as a ride to the airport or lodging. It does not work when one needs child care or brain surgery. Similarly, it is a business model that fails with respect tosensuality instruction.
Ashley Madison’s attempt to democratize the refined pleasure of unattached, discreet, sexual exploration appears to have been an unmitigated disaster. Ashley Madison sought to be the ‘Airbnb of illicit affairs”, but it turned out to be the guest who hosts a gender-bending bacchanal in your condo before taking a shit on your bed and tossing your gimp suit onto the neighbor’s lawn. Ashley Madison misled its members, preyed upon their weaknesses, betrayed their confidences, exposed their identities, and took their cash knowing it could not deliver value.
Using the sharing economy to choose a sensuality coach, someone who helps others realize their true and best sexual selves, reflects a failure to distinguish between noise and music, foolery and passion, labor and creative work, or commodity and art. Sensuality coaching creates something where once there was nothing. When done well, is the highest form of art, at the intersection of reality and fantasy. It is the aesthetics of design, fashion, and the human form. It is the taste of wine, sweat, and each other. It is not a ride to the airport.
I grew up in a home in a small town with loving parents and siblings. We took vacations, went hunting, played sports, and ate meals together. Mine was very much the idyllic American childhood.
Along the way to becoming an independent, free-thinking adult, I did a few things that gave my parents their fair share of consternation. I questioned authority and convention. Mom and Dad, I know it was difficult to see me go riding in cars with boys during my teens, rather than staying home to watch Golden Girls reruns (though I am not sorry for and would not give back the good times I had and the lessons I learned growing up).
I know my family does not agree with everything I’ve done over the years. But that is ok, and we are still family . The shared experiences of my childhood bind us to one another; they are formative and meaningful in a way that makes ideological differences seem small and trivial. I spent nine months in Mom’s womb; we lived together in the same house for 18 years. You are my parents and siblings. What is more important than that?
Now comes the painfully poignant part of the message, the part I should skip, revisit tomorrow, or not write at all. I know that my choices have not always made your lives easy. I am sorry for that. I know that you had to stay behind when I moved to other more worldly and liberated places. I’m sorry for that. I know that you have had to deal with the uncomfortable questions, the disingenuous concerns, and the accusing stares. I’m sorry for that too. I am. I wish other people were better than they are, and I am working to make them better.
All of that said, a child’s birthright ought to be the unconditional love and support of his or her parents and siblings. Period. Full stop.
And as hard as it for me to write this, my hometown treats my life like a gossip column and my family treats me like a pariah.
I reviewed and rewrote this message a few times to make sure it did not devolve into a lengthy, vindictive series of anecdotes about how my family has marginalized me, excludes me, and hurts me in the process. Life is sometimes messy, I love my family notwithstanding the way they have treated me, and I simply don’t have enough time or energy for recriminations. I really don’t.
The lesson, the message of hope and redemption I want to express here (maybe my family will see this and be moved), is that the most important thing parents/siblings can do for their children/siblings is to love them unconditionally. The unconditional love of family should be a safe refuge in a rough world, a harbor in the tempest, and a birthright. No matter what your kids does, values, or believes give him or her a hug and say “I love you.”
Happy Father’s Day!
A sensuality and life coach helps clients lead lives that are enriched, inspired, more self-aware, and, put succinctly, better.
My decision to become a sensuality and life coach was born of recognizing a deficit. Many, many of us are never touched, and never touch others, with warmth and affection. As I began to work with clients, I discovered that a meaningful number of them did not prefer warmth and affection, but rather preferred restraint, submission, sensory awakening, and the thrill of transgressing societal norms. The outlet for those desires was even more limited than the one for warm and affectionate touch. With an open mind and a thirst for new experiences, I have discovered an astounding variety of unmet sensual needs, suppressed emotions, and missed opportunities for self-exploration.
Just as many of my highly accomplished clients pursue excellence professionally, I am determined to provide my clients the very best sensuality and life coaching possible. Over the past year, I have participated in multiple specialized trainings and seminars that make me a more complete sensuality and life coach. I have studied life coaching, tantra, and bondassage (a unique form of massage therapy and light BDSM) from recognized experts in their respective fields. An excellent sensuality and life coach is trained and prepared to assist clients with a diverse set of backgrounds, experiences, fantasies, and desires, and does so without even the suggestion of judgment.
The unconditional acceptance and absolute anonymity clients enjoy as part of my coaching allows for personal exploration, and they are often inspired to try new things. My experience is that many clients have suppressed at least some of their sensual desires, fantasies, and/or primal urges to conform to perceived societal norms, the expectations of others, or some other limitation.
Clients regularly tell me that I am the only person with whom they can share certain confidences, explore submission, restraint, and the feeling of completely relinquishing control. Though it seems counterintuitive, clients generally find light restraint, especially the bondassage method I employ, to be a liberating experience.
My coaching helps clients recognize their untapped potential. My clients are inspired to live a healthier lifestyle, they are more affectionate to friends and family, more self-aware, more confident, more creative, buoyed by happy energy, and they live better lives.
While my coaching may be unconventional, I find great satisfaction and fulfillment in making the lives of others better. Please contact me if you are interested in making me your sensuality and life coach.
Before I get into the substance of this post, know that the inspiration to write came to me following a casual review of one of my two favorite sources (Slate and Drudge) for national news. In this post, I’m writing on a Slate article titled, “British Government, Terrified of Female Sexuality, Is Censoring Bondage Porn.”
Why Slate and Drudge, you might ask. I prefer to read news from sources that are unapologetically opinionated, timely, topical, entertaining, and which are meaningful to me. I like to tell people that I get my news from Comedy Central and my comedy from network news.
The recent article, “British Government, Terrified of Female Sexuality, Is Censoring Bondage Porn” tells us that the British Government recently banned “spanking, caning, aggressive whipping, penetration by any object ‘associated with violence,’ physical or verbal abuse (consensual or not), urination in sexual contexts, female ejaculation, strangulation, face-sitting, and fisting (if all knuckles are inserted).”
Wait a second. You can ban a lot of things, but do not dream of touching urination in a sexual context. I know people that will be crushed. In all seriousness, it is difficult to see what troubled the British Government about any of these sexual, consensual acts between adults.
As some of you may be aware, I have decided to complement my sensuality and life coaching with work as an actress in adult films. Adult films that depict sexual acts convey ideas and messages that sometimes conflict with society’s standard narrative promoting monogamy, patriarchy, guilt, sexual repression, female subordination, etc.
The article provides, especially with respect to its ban on female ejaculation, that “it’s no surprise that Britain is using its censorship authority to ban expressions of female pleasure and power.”
The article goes on to conclude that “porn isn’t dangerous because it’s harmful; it’s dangerous because it’s vivid and graphic—and vivid expression is the most compelling and persuasive kind. The government and its censors claim to object to mere images. But in reality, they are terrified of ideas, especially the same idea that has terrified men from time immemorial: the notion that women, too, can be powerful.”
Indeed, ideas are powerful and dangerous to the establishment. Bondage pornography shows that there is value in female sexuality, value in a woman’s sexual organs, that societal sexual norms are arbitrary, and that a woman’s body belongs only to her.
My work as an adult film actress contributes to and builds upon my central message, bringing it to the masses, that sex and sensuality are integral to the free expression of our fears, desires, secrets, quirks, and insecurities. Neither sex nor sensuality belong to the government, religion, convention, or any other institution.
Part of my work as an actress is to portray characters having sex in unconventional situations and positions (including some involving bondage and female orgasm), arousing and pleasuring myself and my fellow actors in ways that are creative and unique.
The goal of my work as an actress and as a sensuality coach is to empower viewers and clients to claim their sexuality, to recognize that sexual desires (whatever their form) are generally healthy, to express such sexual desires without guilt or reservation, to use sexual expression as a vehicle to confront and treat past trauma, abuse, or embarrassment, and to empower others to embrace sexual desires and activities as part of a life well-lived.
If a prospective client was bullied or embarrassed as a child, what better way to address and confront such issues than as part of a sensuality exercise. Pain, embarrassment, and feelings of submission can come to be associated, indirectly or otherwise, with sensuality and sex, rather than damaging trauma.
Others that have no history of trauma may simply want to explore new parts of themselves, spice up what has become monotonous, or relinquish control of one small, but extremely meaningful aspect of their overburdened lives. This is the opportunity for those that may usually be in control to be guided to pleasure and fulfillment without shouldering the burden of leading and being in control.
By way of conclusion, Britain should cast off its Victorian past, embrace healthy sexual expression, and bring back Bondage.
Hooray for enlightenment and good ideas trumping blind prejudice. And get on board America; you’re in danger of being left behind with the theocracies and military dictatorships of the third world as most other western democracies move to reform their laws regarding selling sex.
In the last three weeks the left-leaning online publication Slate and the conservative/libertarian publication The Economist have both called for an end to the prejudiced, moralistic, quixotic, but damaging prohibition against selling sex. If liberals and conservatives can agree that a law should be repealed, it must be flawed in the worst sort of way.
On July 31, 2014, Slate published an article titled “It’s time for Legalized Prostitution.” The Slate article explained that laws against selling sex are born of prejudice and moralism, and that they put providers in danger. The article discusses recent changes to laws in Sweden and Canada, which came on the heels of new research definitively concluding that decriminalization reduces violence and disease. Governments, at least good, reasonable governments, should not pass, retain, or enforce laws that put people at greater risk of violence and disease merely to pander to the religious sensibilities of others.
The August 9, 2014 Economist article, titled “Prostitution: A Personal Choice” discusses some of the same points covered in the Slate article, but goes a bit further by pointing out that the use of the internet to facilitate meetings between providers and clients has substantially mitigated, if not eliminated, the social problems that attend selling sex on the street. Moreover, and this is the point that is often overlooked but which speaks to me personally. Providers often enjoy their work and prefer it to alternatives. They enjoy the variety, the flexibility, the limited hours, and the opportunity to travel. And some actually enjoy sex.
What adults do with their bodies is a personal choice. My body belongs to me. Not some of it. All of it. I fundamentally reject any government’s attempt to tell me or any other woman what we can or cannot do with our body.
The Economist article also makes the entirely unremarkable observation that prohibition is ineffective. I am amazed that it has taken governments and society thousands of years to figure that out. Next, they’ll find out that water is wet.
I’m encouraged though, that these two thought-leading publications agree on this issue. I’m also buoyed by the rapid pace of change in gay marriage laws and marijuana laws. The world is changing, and the pace of change is accelerating, which is a good thing. Bad ideas that were based on religion and prejudice have a harder time hiding But change cannot come soon enough on this issue for those that live today in the shadows, in apprehension, or in danger.