What I’m Reading, February 13, 2015

The Angry Black Dude Post No. 1, The Difference Between Cockroaches and Butterflies, January 27, 2015

I don’t like being the Angry Black Dude. I really don’t. There are enough of them (and with good reason). Being an ABD is social suicide: Anyone (white or non-white) with rudimentary knowledge of past and present and a conscience knows you have the right to be angry, yet your indignation still annoys them. Then there are the folks who either do or do not know (more like refuse to acknowledge) the history of race relations and have no conscience whatsoever, and your righteous anger undoubtedly pisses them off. ABDs, like feminists, cannot win. It’s a lose-lose situation, socially speaking.

I remember once I was outside of a bar in the Lower East Side around the time of the Ferguson protests. I became drunkenly acquainted with a group of people (Millennial non-whites) who started talking about what was going on in Missouri, and one of them said something like, “But c’mon, dude, not all cops are bad.” Which instinctively roused the ABD within me from dormancy. I was tactful, though: I implied (calmly) that the protesting — or rioting, depending on your viewpoint — was in response to a larger, endemic malady. These are the rhetorical hoops an ABD must go through so that he can be listened to and not simply heard.

My significant other has been asked lately (by Millennial non-whites), “Why a black guy? You’re such a pretty girl so why him?” Which of course makes me feel like shit. I’m reminded of Iago’s warning to Brabanito: “Even now, now, very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe.”

What Does Feminist Porn Look Like? Russell O’Connor, Everyday Feminism, September 7, 2013

Most porn has a predominantly male perspective. The directors are usually men, and most porn is made for men. As a result, the camera often embodies the “male gaze“: It looks where a man (a stereotypical straight man, that is) would look.

As a result, women are presented exclusively as objects of desire and never as subjects of pleasure.

This is why men are so strangely absent from much straight porn, except as disembodied penises.

This can easily appear, as J. Bryan Lowder once said on Slate, as a strange form of reverse objectification.

But, as Lowder notes, there’s a simple reason for this: Most porn made for men is shot in such a way as to allow the male viewer to project himself into the scene. The woman is thus presented as available to any man who wishes to use her.

A penis needs to be present, but the man to whom it is attached had better not be too present, lest he threaten to become the focus and the male viewer be threatened with homo-eroticism.

Only the woman is to be seen, and she is there for the pleasure of the male viewer. [Emphasis in original.]


What I’m Reading, December 26, 2014

Hip-Hop’s Huge Problem With Iggy Azalea Just Blew Up — And She Completely Deserves It, Tom Barnes, Mic, December 22, 2014

It turns out many people in the hip-hop community feel that Azalea is actively working against black interests because she appropriates traditionally black styles and totally divorces them from their political content. That’s why rapper Tyler, The Creator, A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip and R&B singer Solange Knowles all came to [Azealia] Banks’ defense, thanking her for speaking openly and passionately about the issue of cultural appropriation. Kreayshawn also stepped up to the plate, accusing Azalea of ignoring racism in her home country as well as in America.

But it was New York-raised hip-hop legend Q-Tip who had the most inspiring response — he gave Azalea a full hip-hop history lesson in 40 tweets.


Hip-hop is always political. Q-Tip took the Twitterverse all the way back to hip-hop’s very beginnings. He described the conditions black people were living under in 1970s New York, which hip-hop sought to address. He cited Vietnam, the rampant drug trade in New York’s ghettos and their crumbling school systems. These factors, crippled children’s support structures, “emasculated” their parents and forced children to turn to the streets and gangs for support.

But thankfully, hip-hop was born. With it, youth found a direction, and a way to channel their energies in a positive direction.


It may seem mean, but she completely deserves it. Azalea has been manipulating hip-hop culture for her own gain, and she cares not at all for the broader hip-hop community or the music’s place in our culture.

[Emphasis in original.]

The propagandists have won: What Fox News and the pornography revolution have in common, Janine R. Wedel, Salon, December 21, 2014 Continue reading


The Tragic, Yet Probably Inevitable, Snapchat Porn Scandal

I had no idea what Snapchat actually was until a few days ago. I had heard the name, but thought it sounded like something that would shortly go the way of Chatroulette.

Apparently, however, its owners and investors are so confident in its $4 billion valuation that they felt comfortable turning down a $3 billion cash buyout offer from Facebook. This made me realize several things:

  1. I may never understand how Silicon Valley determines “value;”
  2. Even a system specifically designed to delete pictures as a privacy measure is beatable;
  3. If it’s popular with teenagers, they’re gonna use it for sex somehow (cf. xkcd); and
  4. Sooner or later, someone’s going to use it for revenge porn.

I don’t always hate it when I’m right, but sometimes I really do. Sometimes I really, really do.


This Week in WTF, September 20, 2013

Original idea by Videmus Omnia; Original remastering by Antonu [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Some search results are quite meta. (Via Wikimedia Commons)

– If you are a blogger who likes to include picture in blog posts, you are probably familiar with Wikimedia Commons, the crowdsourced site for Creative Commons and public domain images. Since pretty much anyone can upload pictures there, it seems inevitable that some of them will be…….controversial. Some of it might even be called “porn.” To combat the scourge of free porn, which is literally not available anywhere else on the internet, public pressure led Wikipedia to root out and delete all of the porn on Wikimedia Commons. Except that they gave up on it. This made Fox News mad. Which made giving up totally worthwhile.

– Due to what a manager calls “some major budgetary changes,” nurses at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville will soon be responsible for taking out trash and cleaning toilets in their patients’ rooms. Because nothing helps a hospital run more smoothly than an angry, demoralized nursing staff. Also, consider cross-contamination risks. Seriously, though, I wonder if the administrators urging the nurses to “pull together” are making any comparable sacrifices. Maybe they should scrub toilets for a bit. Builds character, you know?

– An Indian-American woman won the Miss America crown this week. This has angered a subset of Americans who seem determined to ensure that America cannot have nice things. Critics (although that seems too generous a description) somehow managed to link this to the anniversary of 9/11, while also making obligatory 7-11 jokes. Sigh.

Photo credit: Original idea by Videmus Omnia; Original remastering by Antonu [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons.


This Week in WTF, June 7, 2013

3556826420_d006ae707e_oI return to my hallowed tradition of collecting oddities for the enjoyment of my reader(s). These are sort of some “greatest hits” collected over the past few months, but “This Past Six Months in WTF” doesn’t sound as good as “This Week…” Just go with it.

– The female southern bottletail squid was the topic of some discussion this week after io9 revealed that she, uh………swallows.

– A Chinese real estate company came up with a novel way to sell properties, by painting the floor plans on the backs of women in bikinis. Apparently, it’s working (h/t Sallie).

Via bitrebels.com [Fair use]

Via bitrebels.com

– A Ukrainian woman sought political asylum in the European Union because of persecution due to her participation in the adult film industry. To be clear, the woman, who performed under the name Wiska, claimed that the government was persecuting her because of her involvement, which she contends was based on economic need, not direct coercion. She faced criminal charges in Ukraine and possible loss of her children. The Czech Republic denied her asylum application, but she announced that she intended to appeal. The protest group Femen, which consists of topless Ukrainian women, is supporting her.

– A county employee in Dallas offered perhaps the best excuse in the history of the universe for being late to work: Continue reading


Porn and Prejudice: Letting Teenage Boys Determine School Policy With Their Libidos

I’m going to talk about sex and stuff in a minute, but first, some exposition: I frequently save links to articles that give me an idea for a blog post, but then never get around to writing the post. I also start posts, save them as drafts, then never finish them. I have over a hundred saved WordPress drafts, and countless links saved in my iCloud reading list, Evernote, Instapaper, and elsewhere. Maybe I’ll get to some of those ideas eventually, but sometimes I go through my blog post drafts and delete the ones that are hopelessly outdated. This is an attempt to consolidate ideas accumulated over months into a single post.


To be fair, the adult industry is kind of encouraging the horndogs here.

I. The Long-Winded Introduction

Teachers, at this point in American history, are not allowed to have pasts. Nor are they allowed to have much in the way of lives outside of teaching. This applies to other professions as well, but teachers seem to bear the brunt of our society’s perfectionism.

I’m going to talk a bit about sex, as well as portrayals of sex in entertainment, so stop reading if you’re easily offended. I’ll warn you if a link goes somewhere NSFW (not safe for work.) The gist of what I’m saying is that we as a society have profoundly conflicted views of sexuality, especially female sexuality. People who routinely interact with children are often expected to be effectively asexual, even if no one ever quite puts it in those terms. People who have expressed their sexuality in overt ways, from basic modeling to outright porn, while breaking no laws, often lose their jobs as teachers and in other fields. Sometimes, we can justify it as “protecting the kids,” while other times, t really makes no sense at all.

Even when it is supposedly about protecting children, what is it really teaching kids? (Disclosure: I do not have kids, but I used to be a teenage boy.) The most common justification offered for dismissing a teacher because of modeling, porn, etc. is that it creates a “disruption” or “distraction” in the school environment. I assume that this refers to the idea that students will not be able to learn as effectively because they might have seen their teacher in a state of undress or more, perhaps online.

That is, at least initially, a compelling argument. What is it actually teaching kids, though? This is not about teachers who actually have sex with their students, or who call their students “jailbait” on Twitter. Those are pretty obviously illegal and/or inappropriate. I can also see an argument against letting teachers moonlight as bikini models or whatever, but what about something a teacher did years ago? I don’t necessarily know the best answer for how to deal with it, but firing a teacher for modeling bikinis or more in the past might have more negative long-term consequences: Continue reading


SXSW 2013 Diary, Day 2 (March 9, 2013)

[Typed on an iPad with minimal proofreading.] Since it was a Saturday, I could use my fiancee’s parking pass downtown. No bus for me!

I almost immediately regretted trying to drive downtown. I got one of the last parking spaces on the roof of the garage, which I only obtained after a lengthy process of abruptly stopping to avoid rear-ending the driversnwho seem to think that you must close every 10-foot gap between you and the car in front of you at 20 mph or more.

Te first session I attended was entitled Tweets from the DMZ: Social Media in North Korea with Jean H. Lee, AP Bureau Chief for North Korea. While there was some interesting “slice of life” information about a Seoul-based journalist’s regular trips to North Korea, it mostly consisted, quite literally, of screenshots of tweets she has sent. I learned some interesting stuff, though. She said that the regime never stops her from taking pictures, but they always know what she is doing. They try to make sure she is “respectful” to her subjects more than almost anything else. South Korea has very strict limits on access to online material from the north. It is apparently illegal in South Korea to access North Korean websites, and the government has a strict firewall in place. It is illegal even to retweet something from North Korea. People in South Korea, she said, must be careful even following people in North Korea. North Korea has a few government-run sites, including Flickr, Twitter, and Instagram. The main goals of these government-run social media sites are propaganda, getting pictures of the leader out, etc. One person, during questions, basically suggested that she was a dupe of Pyongyang, doing their bidding by presenting their side of things, but she disputed this. He even suggested that North Korean agents might be in the room keeping eyes on her. She responding by inviting any North Koreans in the room to stand up and say hello. No one did, and I decided that would be a good time to leave.

Last year, I met some interesting people in the Samsung Blogger’s Lounge, so I headed there next. Let me try to be charitable here……while I recall that they used the room last year both to give bloggers a place to work and socialize and to do webcasts of interviews with people who are “buzzing” at SXSW, this year the interviews were harder to ignore. Impossible to ignore, actually. The host of these interviews is probably a very nice person, but her style is, I dare say, not suited to any room where anyone is expected to pay attention to anyone except her. She’s bubbly, goofy, and loud, is all I’m saying. I was able to finish my Day 1 blog entry, but couldn’t hold a conversation with anyone for long.

I hesitated to attend the next panel, for pretty basic social reasons of taboo and embarrassment. I’m glad I did, because it was one of the best sessions I’ve attended at any conference, ever. Not just because the presenter, Cindy Gallop, has an awesome British accent. The session was entitled The Future of Porn, and the line to get in extended out of the ballroom quite a long way. (She noted that nearly everything she was going to say in her talk could be a double entendre, andit was good to get that out of the way.) This was not a discussion of smut per se. In fact, she maintains that the sites she created, MakeLoveNotPorn.com and MakeLoveNotPorn.tv, are not porn, but “real world sex.” I’m just going to paste some things from my notes (shout-out to Evernote here):

  • What happens when you combine easy access to porn online with societal reluctance to discuss sex at all?
  • MakeLoveNotPorn compares porn world to real world. Led to TED Talk in 2009.
  • Not anti-porn. Issue is lack of honest conversation about sex in the real world.
  • Social media platforms generally won’t deal with sex. She wants to “socialize sex.” Launched MakeLoveNotPorn.tv, where people can submit their own videos of real sex. Site is curated, so it’s not like YouPorn. $5 submission/curation fee, $5 rental fee for 3 weeks unlimited viewing, 50% of revenue shared with submitters. The “Etsy of Sexy.”
  • Not porn, not “amateur.” They are #realworldsex. Community tells them what real world sex is.
  • Real world sex is funny, while porn sex is “earnest.” Sexual equivalent of “America’s Funniest Home Videos”
  • Real world sex is messy. Porn is “clean,” i.e. hairless, and you never see lube. No sex during periods [Ed. note: no judgment here. Whatever floats your boat.].
  • Real world sex is responsible. Porn either doesn’t have condoms, or they magically appear. More condom use if it seems sexy.
  • “Lazy person sex” – after long day, really tired, but horny. Don’t want to lift a finger to get off. No representation of that in porn or other media.
  • Thumbnails & copy are all SFW, so no one has to slam down the laptop when someone walks by.
  • You can make personalized playlists, send them to people. Lets you tell people what you like w/o awkward conversations [Ed. Note: I don’t get how this is less awkward than talking, necessarily, but what do I know?].
  • Could be the “Kinsey of today.” Had to design in-system scoring that is easy to use and one-handed. You hit the space bar to say “yes!”
  • Porn industry has been supportive. Gen Y in porn has reached out to her (entrepreneurial, ambitious, want to be part of the “new world order” of things.)
  • They’re not competing with porn. Most porn labeled “amateur” isn’t.
  • One viewer told her “Porn makes me want to jerk off. Your videos make me want to have sex.”
  • No bank in the U.S. will work with her because “porn” is in the name. No mainstream payment processor would work with her. Finally got PayPal challenger Douala (?) on board, had to go with a European bank and payment processor.
  • Porn is falling prey to the same dynamics as the music and publishing industries. Businesses play it safe by doing what everyone else is doing. Porn’s way of dealing with it is more controversial.
  • ***”It’s not that porn degrades women. It’s that business degrades porn” Pushing any business into the shadows enables bad things to happen. She’s trying to change the world through sex, make sex better for everybody. Business world is trying to stop her. She says the business world is driven by men who believe men are their target audience. She listed women entrepreneurs who are doing great work (Nina Hartley, etc.) “Women challenge the status quo because we are never ‘it.'”
  • She listed a few other products or sites she felt were worth mentioning:
  • Vibease – device for couples in LTRs.
    Offbeatr – website for sex projects
    They Fit – custom-made condoms, no FDA approval in the US
    Bang with Friends – launched about a month ago.

  • Average age of first seeing hardcore porn online today is 8. They don’t necessarily go looking for it.
  • Less than 5% of parents, she says, ever talk to their kids about sex. The talk has changed, as it needs to include discussion of what shows up in porn.
  • Legalities: 2 forms of ID, “no children, no poop, no animals.” Brought in adult industry lawyers to help.
  • Protecting privacy and IP: members-only site, no way to guarantee no piracy, though. They review everything submitted to the site before posting it. They remove videos on request if a couple breaks up.
  • Finance: adult industry-specific companies, payment processors, etc. She wants business partners who get their mission. AI-specific processors think they’re just porn, have extortionate rates. Even they though MLNP was too risky. Company like Manwin has $$$, has easier time with banking.
  • None of their videos have an “extraneous” cameraman. Spouse might record other spouse, or person might use webcam.
  • Difference between porn and sex ed. Teachers have asked to use MLNP dot com in their sex ed classes. So few people are willing to stand up for these issues, that everyone wants Cindy to do all of it.

A couple of questions stood out. Someone eventually asked if Cindy appears in any of the videos on her site. Less predictably, the questioner was a woman, and the question was asked very earnestly (as opposed to a pervy manner). A mother of teenagers got up and described how her kids have used the family computer to access adult content. She is worried about the false impressions they will get about sex, and so asked about how to use the MNLP video site to give her kids access to more realistic, perhaps even “educational” material. Mom of the Year? Quite possibly.

I could write for weeks about everything I think is wrong in the way we deal with the issue of sex. It’s prety screwed up in most of the world, but I’ll focus on the U.S. Her opening statement summed it up very well, though: we have unprecedented access to “adult” material, and not just through porn, but through an overall sexualization in our culture. At the same time, we still lack almost any ability to discuss it like rational adults, and we still attach ridiculous forms of stigma to people regarding sex. This applies to people who have sex a lot (cf. Sasha Grey), people who don’t have it at all (cf. Lolo Jones), and everything in between. And that’s only covering the conventionally-attractive young white woman demographic. Don’t get me started.

I went to a 15-minute session on copyright law after that. Blah blah fair use and so on. Then I went home to assemble more IKEA furniture.


Porn and Prejudice: The Right Not to Be Harassed, No Matter What You Do for a Living


This is the closest I’ll get to posting anything NSFW on here.

“I’m a Porn Star, and if You Harass Me I Will Punch You in the Balls.”

I couldn’t think of a good opening for this post, so I just used the headline from an article by Stoya, posted on Jezebel on Monday. Not everyone knows who Stoya is, and many people pretend they do not know who she is, so let’s get this out of the way. Stoya makes her living as an adult film actress, a/k/a a porn star. If you can handle reading about concepts of opposing the harassment of women in public, and you can handle it in the context of pondering a person who makes a living doing sex stuff in front of a camera, read on. Otherwise, Disney still has a website.

Stoya provides a direct attack on the idiotic notion that, if a woman has sex on film or video, she must like having sex with everyone, and therefore she’ll have sex with me. A South Park episode once featured Kurt Russell being forced to go through a Stargate-like device, because he once did it in a movie. The point of the joke was that it is absurd to expect a person to do something in real life just because they did it in a movie. Porn actresses do not get that sort of deference, though. When you stop to think about it for more than one second, it makes sense that she ought to be able to have a normal life, free from excess groping, the same as anybody else. And yet: Continue reading


Getting right to the point with social media (or, It all comes down to smut in the end)

'Pinterest User Pie Chart' [Fair use], via G4I don’t get Pinterest. I think I have made that pretty abudantly clear in recent months. I have a few “boards,” to which I will “pin” things from time to time (my board entitled “Food porn“) is far more popular than it probably deserves to be, considering the level of inattention give to it. I never, however, browse through other people’s pins the way I might scroll through my Facebook news feed or my Tumblr dashboard. It’s just not my thing.

Don’t get me wrong; I think Pinterest is a brilliant idea, and it has been wildly successful. It just doesn’t necessarily appeal to my particular sensibilities. Maybe it’s because I’m a dude, although I doubt it is as sociologically significant as that (for me, anyway.) Whether or not by design, Pinterest primarily appeals to women, possibly a first for the internet. Of course, this being the world in which we live, someone has to ask how to make a service like Pinterest more appealing to the sausage-bearing crowd. And because it is the internet, it eventually comes back to the question of how many X’s we can post. Perhaps not surprisingly, these two questions overlap.

To review the state of what I will artfully call Smut in Social Media:

  • Facebook won’t allow anything over an “R” rating.
  • Twitter might let you get away with a little “X” now and then.
  • LinkedIn has no idea what you are talking about right now.
  • Tumblr saw your three X’s and raised them to a level of perversity heretofore unimagined. Seriously, you are never more than 2-3 mouse clicks away from an animated GIF of activities that Porn Valley might not even know exist.

(Please note that I use the word “smut” in a purely descriptive sense.) Continue reading