ENGADGET: UK politicians push for FOSTA SESTA-style sex censorship

If you're familiar with the phrase "that's a terrible idea, let's do it" then you might be one of the British MPs who think that the UK should do its own version of FOSTA-SESTA. That's exactly what Labour MP Sarah Champion has done by leading a debate this week for the creation of laws to criminalize websites used by sex workers in the UK -- under the rubric of fighting trafficking, of course.

A self-appointed group of MPs (the "All-Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade") fronted by Ms. Champion made a call to ban "prostitution websites" during a Wednesday House of Commons debate. Conflating sex work with trafficking just like their American counterparts, they claim websites where workers advertise and screen clients "directly and knowingly" profit from sex trafficking.

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UK politicians push for FOSTA/SESTA-style sex censorship by Violet Blue

July 6th, 2018


HUFFPOST: Sex Workers Deserve Mental Health Care, Too

 Sex work is a difficult job. Many in the field have few (if any) workplace rights, and there’s a high risk of abuse and violence.

Anywhere from 45 to 75 percent of sex workers around the world experience workplace violence in their lifetime, according to a 2014 review. Plus, intense stigma around the profession can both negatively affect mental health and dissuade people from seeking treatment.

Yet sex workers ― a term that describes a plethora of jobs related to sex and eroticism, from adult film stars and strippers to people who work at brothels or on the street ― rarely feature in discussions about mental health. There are few studies on the topic, and the research that does exist is limited in scope, often omitting male and transgender sex workers, for example. In fact, trans people and people of color make up an outsize segment of the sex worker community, yet they’re often left out of the conversation entirely.

Sex workers are regular people, says Dr. Victoria Hartmann, and they deserve access to mental health care just like anyone else. Hartmann, 48, a clinical sexologist, certified mental health counselor and executive director of the Erotic Heritage Museum in Las Vegas, has spent over 10 years working with sex workers. An advocate for the rights of sex workers ― a community that includes her own husband ― Hartmann fears that recent legislation will intensify the stigma they face.

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Sex Workers deserve Mental Heath Care, too. by Catharine Smith

July 3rd, 2018


ROLLING STONE: Sex-Worker Advocates Sue Over Internet ‘Censorship’ Law

On Thursday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a lawsuit against the federal government and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Woodhull Freedom Foundation et al. v. United States is the first lawsuit to challenge SESTA-FOSTA, or the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, which has faced widespread criticism since it was signed into law by President Trump in April.

In the complaint, EFF argues that SESTA-FOSTA violates the First and Fifth Amendments by preventing its plaintiffs from using online forums for fear of criminal charges. It argues that it is “the most broadly-based and comprehensive legislative censorship of Internet speech since Congress passed the anti-indecency provisions of the [Communications Decency Act] in 1996.” The Supreme Court found those provisions unconstitutional in 1997.

The EFF, a nonprofit founded in 1990, specializes in defending civil liberties online and in the realm of digital technology. They have been one of many organizations to mobilize against SESTA-FOSTA since it was first introduced to Congress in 2017, under the name H.R.1865. SESTA-FOSTA makes it a crime to operate or manage a website that “promotes or facilitates prostitution,” vastly expanding liability for sites that host any content on which sexuality may be discussed.

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Sex-Worker Advocates sue over Internet censorship law by Tina Horn

June 30th, 2018


PLAYBOY: The Peak of Pegging? Why Anal Eroticism Is Everywhere in Porn and Pop Culture

To peg or not to peg? In a famous scene from Broad City, Abbi grapples with this question when her date, Jeremy, hands her a strap-on dildo and eagerly assumes the position. After running to the bathroom to call her friend Ilana for advice, Abbi agrees to do it. In the end, everyone is happy—that is, until Abbi accidentally ruins Jeremy’s dildo by running it through the dishwasher and replaces it with a cheap substitute.

Scenes like this in which a woman anally penetrates her male partner (a sex act known colloquially as “pegging”) have become increasingly popular in both pornography and popular culture since the turn of the century. For example, there are now well over 1,000 pegging videos on Pornhub alone, and several major television series and films have dealt with the subject, from Weeds to Deadpool.

So why is that? What’s behind the growing pop culture pegging trend?

In part, it’s due to the fact that pegging just so happens to be something that many men and women find to be a turn-on. So, on some level, what we’re seeing here is simply a reflection of our sexual fantasies. However, sexuality experts think the media’s fascination with pegging reveals something much deeper. Indeed, these depictions signify a seismic shift in societal views on sex and gender—a shift that has the potential to help all of us improve our sex lives.

Pegging is a more common sexual desire than many people probably think. As telling evidence of this, I studied the sexual fantasies of more than 4,000 Americans for my book Tell Me What You Want and found that nearly 60 percent of the men I surveyed had fantasized about receiving anal sex, while about 40 percent of the women had fantasized about giving it. When you consider that the vast majority of people who took this survey identified as heterosexual, this tells us that anal eroticism—often stereotyped as a desire of gay men—is really quite popular among straight men and women alike.

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The Peak of Pegging? Why Anal Eroticism is Everywhere in Porn and Pop Culture by Justin Lehmiller, Illustration by Molly Cranna

June 22, 2018


PSYCHOLOGY TODAY: Dasya Yoga - Self Development Through Surrender and Pain

Danielle Blunt is the creator of Dasya Yoga and an NYC-based Dominatrix, full-spectrum doula, yoga teacher and sex worker activist. She studies power dynamics through kinesthetic modalities and her work and play explore the intersections of tenderness and pain.

Q: You have created a new form of yoga called Dasya Yoga, in which you combine elements of traditional yoga with BDSM. I imagine most people would be puzzled about what this combo may look like. Can you describe a typical session?

A: Every Dasya Yoga session looks different. Each session is tailored to an individual's’ particular interests, desires, and fetishes. A session can take the form of a more asana-based practice in a traditional yoga studio, or the form of a more meditative session in my private dungeon space. The purpose isn’t that the practice looks any particular way but rather that it addresses an individual's wants and needs while expanding their understanding of kink, yoga, meditation and one’s relationship with their body and with other. I use the asanas (postures), mudras (hand gestures) and mantras to cultivate openness, vulnerability, and devotion within a unique framework of power, surrender, pleasure and pain -- this is the core focus of the Dasya Yoga practice.

Q: In your bio, you state that you work as a dominatrix and utilized BDSM as a healing modality. How did you find BDSM to be healing?

 

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Dasya Yoga: Self Development Through Surrender and Pain by Michael Aaron, Ph.D.

June 22, 2018


BROADLY: The Subversive Sexual Power Found in Erotic Fandom Forums

Like many millennials who were once socially awkward, nerdy kids, my gateway drug into rogue juvenile sexuality was Harry Potter.

I was ten years old when Daniel Radcliffe became my first official celebrity crush. At 12, I discovered regular fan fiction—long, serialized stories on the internet that explored such questions as, What is Hermione Granger’s life like outside of Hogwarts? And come 14, I came across fan fiction of the more exciting sort: The Giant Squid fucks the walls of Hogwarts castle!; Hagrid and Dobby get intimate. (In this story, the noticeable size difference between the half-giant and house elf is explained by one of fan fiction’s most infamous lines: “Dobby stretches, sir!”)

I learned the lingo. “Fluff”—a short, light romantic comedy story. “Slashfic”—fan fiction about same-sex couples, often between Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. And “mpreg”—fantasies about male characters getting pregnant. (Mpreg stories in the Harry Potter world always seemed to center on the haughty potions professor, Snape. “The manlier or broodier the guy, the better he is pregnant,” reads a WIRED guide to mpreg from 2006.)

Even when I was a teen, it was clear to me that those stories had to do with their (typically amateur, female) authors feeling powerful just as much as—if not more than—they had to do with sex. The weirdest fictions consciously challenged the limits of social acceptability. And the intimate story lines between Harry and Draco or Harry and broody, pregnant men gave young women the rare opportunity to control the physical and psychic choices and beliefs of men—albeit fictional ones. They taught me that I, too, could one day be the author of my own love stories.

 

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The Subversive Sexual Power Found in Erotic Fandom Forums by Rebecca Liu

June 18, 2018


BROADLY: FOSTA Means Losing My Medical Care

Sex work comes in many forms. My job falls under the category commonly referred to as “escort service.”

Like many sex workers I know, I first started advertising on Craigslist and Backpage due to urgent financial need, exacerbated by the fact that I had a long-misdiagnosed genetic condition that made other employment options impossible to maintain.

Strange as it might sound, sex work has been an excellent option for me and many of my friends who have “invisible illnesses” like fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and endocrine disorders, which, while undetectable to any observer or client, make it difficult or impossible to keep a full-time, decently paying job for a long time. At sex worker community gatherings, I’ve heard many stories of joining this industry for reasons related to health issues; anecdotally speaking, there appears to be an unusually high proportion of sex workers with chronic, invisible disabilities. That’s because certain sick folks must navigate a gray area: What do you do if you’re too sick to hold down a full-time job, yet not “sick enough” for disability benefits, and a typical part-time job isn’t enough to survive on—especially with medical bills? The answer sometimes is: You reconsider how you feel about lingerie and older men.

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As a Sex Worker with a chronic illness, FOSTA means losing my medical care by Zia Moon

June 18th, 2018


THE NEW YORKER: Increasingly Vulnerable Sex Workers Are Demanding Their Rights

On a recent Thursday at a bar in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Jacq the Stripper was warming up a small crowd of ten or fifteen people who had come to attend a fund-raiser for the Black Sex Workers Collective. Jacq, who wore a T-shirt that said “tip her” on it, is not a black sex worker. “So I’m a stripper, I’m a white stripper, a cisgendered, white stripper,” she said, by way of introduction. “I have, like, all the privilege in the world, so I’m going out to support a lot of people who do not have privilege right now.” She was talking about the effects of the government crackdown on the Web sites that sex workers have used to advertise and screen for clients. On April 6th, the government seized Backpage, which the Justice Department described as “the Internet’s leading forum for prostitution ads, including ads depicting the prostitution of children.” Five days later, Donald Trump signed HR-1865, the bill known as the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (fosta) and the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (sesta). The new law amends Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, the “safe harbor” clause that until now gave Web sites full protection from liability for the content they host. Under the new terms, the owner of any Web sites that “promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person”—wording that could concern not only traffickers but anyone who advertises sexual services online—can face up to ten years in prison.

 

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Increasingly vulnerable Sex Workers are demanding their rights by Emily Witt

June 8th, 2018


PSYCHOLOGY TODAY: Making the Unconscious Visible: BDSM and Shamanic Ritual

 This is the second installment of interviews with speakers from the 3rd Annual AltSex NYC Conference, which was held on Friday, April 27, 2018, at the Jerry Orbach Theater in Manhattan. 

Source: James Lawer, used with permission

James Lawer presented on "The Effective Use of BDSM in Male Psychological Development," in which he detailed his integration of shamanic rituals and BDSM practices in helping individuals overcome life-long sexual hangups. James has extensively studied and was initiated into tribal traditions in North, Central and South America as well as the indigenous (Druid) traditions of Great Britain. After years of fulltime hospice work with HIV/AIDS patients, he has devoted himself to teaching participatory earth-centered spiritualities. James is a Certified Instructor with the Cuyamungue Institue, in which he teaches and facilitates organic ecstatic trance states. He is an Advisory Board member for the Center for Optimal Living Psychedelic Integration Program, and a founder and teacher of the Druid College, teaching direct experiences of nature in New York City and in Maine. Note: Mr. Lawer is not a licensed psychotherapist and does not provide psychotherapy. He has been trained in an official capacity by other shamans to provide shamanic services.

Q: You have quite an interesting background, with training in theater, spiritual counseling, and hospice work. How did you come to shamanism, what is it, and what have you found so powerful about this approach?

A: I came to shamanism quite slowly, though in looking back over my life there were signs that the shift started early.  My first experience in altered consciousness was when I was six years old.  I had an out of body experience in which I left my body and flew out over San Diego harbor, then looked back and saw my body standing on the far hill.  Immediately I realized that consciousness was pliable and that “personhood” can be a fluid term.  I saw for myself that seeing things from different perspectives certainly contained more possibilities than what I was being taught.  Knowing alternate realities gave me access to bandwidths of wisdom that might be helpful.

For myself as a kid, that access was intriguing, and I wanted to explore it.  With increasing experiences of the uncanny, I began examining how the narratives we live in shape and can determine what we understand to be “reality.”  Later on, the question—What in the world do I do with these experiences and this awareness?—then turned towards a focus on how I might be an agent in helping others shift their own awareness, when they were unhappy with their life narrative (to which they felt obligated by external structures and forces), and when they actively wanted to shift.  With that question, my personal journey became a matter of service to the wellbeing of others.  And in particular, shamanism invoked powers of nature, blood ancestors, spirits of place (“mud ancestors”), healing, imagination, and fundamental questions about the nature of relationship that ultimately lead into personal and communal ethics.

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Making the Unconscious Visible: BDSM and Shamanic Ritual by Dr. Michael Aaron

June 6, 2018


HARPER'S BAZAAR: Kinky Sex Could Be the Secret to Your Success

The way Claudia was able to benefit from her erotic encounter is a common theme among people with knacks for kink. Many successful visionaries throughout history, from artists to scientists and even politicians, have had well-documented kinks and fetishes that affected how they operated in their daily lives. I was curious: Could it be that whips and blindfolds are the unseen force behind their artistry, leadership and innovation?

A wave of recent research has confirmed this: If it’s something you desire in the first place, kinky sex can benefit you not just in the bedroom, but outside of it as well. “Unconventional” sexual practices and fantasies, such as BDSM, group sex, or role play, have been shown to reduce psychological stressimprove mental health and can help with satisfying and communicative relationships. Kinky people have also been found to have higher self-worth than those who are too afraid or ashamed to pursue their fantasies; all positive effects, which Los Angeles-based sex therapist, Jamila Dawson, LMFT, says can help optimize your goals, mood and overall well-being even after kinky play ends.

 

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Kinky Sex could be the Secret to your Success by Isabelle Kohn

June 5th, 2018




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