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


GIZMODO: Sex Workers Fight Back

“We’re allowed to be angry now in news media,” says Red S. We’re sitting on a park bench as people slowly trickle in with red headbands, armbands, boots, and umbrellas. It’s unforgivingly hot, but the gathering crowd has a visible energy. People are huddled on the ground, excitedly making signs, while others rush to greet friends and family at the park’s entrance.

Red is a community organizer with the Support Ho(s)e Collective, Survived and Punished NYC, and Survivors Against SESTA—one of a growing sea of people gathered around the Washington Square Park arch at the International Whores’ Day demonstration in New York City on Saturday.

International Whores’ Day dates back to 1975 when hundreds of sex workers occupied a church in Lyon, France, to demand an end to police brutality as well as general harassment and violence. Forty-three years later, sex workers and allies are still fighting for sex-worker rights—and to regain protections lost by the recent passage of a law with ramifications that sex workers say could literally kill them.

 

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Sex workers fight back against a dangerous law by Melanie Ehrenkranz

June 4th, 2018


DAZED: Inside the world of Asian Dommes in New York

Tso and Ho’s curation of voices and images in Banana takes a hold of powerless stereotypes and works to redefine them. For example, issue 004’s centrepiece is a 70-page feature which asks, “What is Asian American Masculinity and Femininity?” – a section of which comes to life through a short film, premiered above. Featuring Asian dominatrixes Dia Dynasty & Lucy Sweetkill, the feature-cum-short confronts “hyper-sexualised stereotypes, Orientalist fetishisation” and instead takes control of narratives. It’s this approach to collaborating with the community – and, ultimately, giving its voices a platform – which underpins the publication and is what the women believe will lead to societal change. “The best way for us to counter stereotypes is to showcase different voices in our community and let them speak for themselves. By giving different points of view via a platform, we can build a three-dimensional narrative for the contemporary Asian identity that isn’t represented in white-privileged spaces”.

Read the full article + watch the video:

Inside the world of Asian Dommes in New York by Elizabeth Coop

May 29th, 2018


HUFFPOST: Now It’s Coming For Their Bank Accounts.

A new law that shuttered websites used by voluntary sex workers to screen clients has already forced some to risk their lives by returning to the streets to find business.

But the broad bipartisan alliance that passed that legislation last month isn’t done. Now, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who both voted for the first bill, are pushing a proposal in the Senate that would impose similar restrictions on sex workers’ bank accounts — a move that sex workers say could further endanger their income, safety and lives.

Just like last month’s Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, Warren and Rubio’s End Banking for Human Traffickers Act is intended to crack down on human trafficking. The bill, which passed the House in overwhelming fashion last month, would increase pressure on banks to shut down the accounts of anyone suspected of engaging in trafficking. Besides Warren, five other Senate Democrats are co-sponsoring the bill; a Senate vote is not yet scheduled.

 

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First Congress Took Sex Workers’ Websites. Now It’s Coming For Their Bank Accounts. by Jenavieve Hatch

HuffPost - May 28, 2018


THE NY TIMES: The Boundary Between Abuse and B.D.S.M.

“You want to make sure that you narrate what is going to be happening,” a blond woman in a skintight nurse’s costume said. She had just demonstrated how to safely, and consensually, stick a willing partner with hypodermic needles.

The subject of her class was “medical play” and the crowd was standing-room-only. The event was hosted by the Eulenspiegel Society in Manhattan, which describes itself as the “oldest and largest B.D.S.M. support and education group” in the country.

The “nurse,” Margot, was not acting as a health care professional, though she did offer hygiene tips. She was there, with her role-play partner for the evening, June, to model best practices. (Many of those interviewed for this piece, including Margot and June, did not want to use their full or legal names for fear of stigma.)

“You create a container for the things that are your worst fears, your darkest fantasies, and you create very strong boundaries around that,” Margot said. “Respecting those boundaries is the most important thing.”

 

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The Boundary between abuse and B.D.S.M by Valeriya Safronova + Katie Van Syckle

The New York Times - May 23, 2018

 


BROADLY: We Must Repeal SESTA, a Deadly Law That Does Nothing to Help Trafficking Victims

Earlier this year, Congress passed a deeply irresponsible and dangerous bill known as SESTA/FOSTA, which Donald Trump promptly signed into law. Proponents of the bill hoped SESTA/FOSTA would hold sex traffickers liable by making websites responsible for the third-party content posted on them. In reality, SESTA/FOSTA has rolled back internet freedoms and inflicted deep damage on already-marginalized communities, putting lives at risk while setting the fight against trafficking back decades.

Sloppy legislating is nothing new from lawmakers who don’t listen to the communities that their policies impact, but SESTA/FOSTA is an especially terrible law that has been sharply condemned by anti-trafficking organizations, civil rights groups, and even the federal anti-trafficking prosecutors who would have to enforce it.

Freedom Network USA, the largest anti-trafficking network in the country, says the law “will not provide a meaningful improvement in anti-trafficking efforts, and may cause severe consequences for sex workers and trafficking victims alike.” The American Civil Liberties Union opposes the law as “a risk to freedom of speech on the Internet as we have come to know it.” The Department of Justice says the law will have “unintended consequences” that actually make it more difficult to prosecute sex traffickers by “creating additional elements that prosecutors must prove at trial” and that parts of it are simply “unconstitutional.”

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We Must Repeal SESTA, a Deadly Law That Does Nothing to Help Trafficking Victims by Suraj Patel

Broadly, May 21, 2018