Reflections on a Body of Work, art in 2018

 “Floored”, oil on canvas, 2018

“Floored”, oil on canvas, 2018

A terribly difficult year is about to end and I couldn’t be happier. Not that I need a New Year to refresh my perspective but this year my changes need a good, solid reset button.  Why not add the champagne?

When I went over the art works I completed this year and I about fell over in self shame.  I won’t discuss my personal disappointment with low production.  I’m certain my recent challenges are justified in such failure but in competing with myself, 2018 was a downer. There will be no December show this year.

However, other good things will come about instead.  I’m going for a February show instead but not specifically ART PORN themed because I won’t be able to make enough paintings for it.  I posted some new works on my website recently, some of which will be included in the new show unless I kick ass here soon and create replacements. I also have two large paintings I was working on this spring and haven’t been able to return to them so I hope they will find themselves on a wall completed by February as well. Lastly, I am currently working on a new piece I began this week- because I just had to. I had an idea and needed to get it down before I forgot or lost excitement for it. I boxed up the oil paints that had given me so much trouble this year and pulled out my acrylics and I’m truly loving having my artistic process back, something familiar and somewhat comfortable. My process just doesn’t work the same way with oil paint. What an interesting and frustrating discovery.

While I attempted to continue in my ART PORN vision for the next show, I found it difficult to produce those images this year.  I didn’t like any of my results for my ART PORN themes and that’s awful, when the artist doesn’t like their own work.  In frustration I simply painted what I felt driven towards even when it didn’t make sense – and a lot of it didn’t.  However, when I look at the totality of what I created this year, I see what I needed to see and feel this year wasn’t meant to be a show for others but rather a display for my own eyes.

When living and creating through intuitive processes, the level of self-trust required is elite and it’s just plain difficult, I won’t lie.  In my case, I give myself a gold medal because it was excruciating not succeeding in creating any ART PORN paintings to completion while knowing week after week that I was in no way going to be able to create the show I wanted to because I wasn’t producing enough good work — and, I can’t really explain why they weren’t good enough other than they felt off.  Trusting the creative process when the direction you’re going isn’t making sense is the most difficult thing to surrender to.  I really tried very hard to go into the ART PORN direction but it didn’t work.  Every painting was such a struggle and a place of negative emotion that the paintings and the process itself just wasn’t satisfying on any level.  I had to stop. Instead I followed other visions, an intuitive voice rather than my “this is what I’m supposed to do” voice and focused on how art needs to make me feel rather than on how art needs to feed my goal based objectives. That is, in fact, the original source of ART PORN’s creation back in 2015.

I’m pleased with the results of this year’s paintings both individually and as a body of work for the year but I didn’t finish too much so I can’t show them and there isn’t the kind of cohesiveness you know from me. What is most bold and delightful however, is seeing the large technical improvement in my art skills. This lends me to further exploring my creativity.

 Dec 2018, “Dangerous Woman”, oil on canvas, 12x16 inches

Dec 2018, “Dangerous Woman”, oil on canvas, 12x16 inches

Only when I surrender to this strange inner pull (or slap) and take the time needed for my creative process does my art come out beautiful to me. That process requires as much thinking/reflection time as it does research time as it does painting time. Ultimately all that equals alone time and too much alone time in the middle of managing life’s unexpected traumas is a recipe for bad mental states. I found new survival skills to cope this year but they didn’t involve a lot of personal art time, which usually is my personal savior.

I spent the majority of my days this year teaching art and running life drawing classes while taking as many workshops as possible. This allowed me to not dive too deep internally and focus on the surface areas that needed improvement. As a result, I’ve been bathing in art, just not “mine”. That’s about to change!

Since I have grown as a person, I’ve also grown as an artist.  I definitely feel a shift in my artistic direction but not a drastic one.  I think I’m in a place where I will hone my vision. It’s a good goal for 2019. That and more completed art work! :)

- TvT

Book Review: Love for Sale

bookLoveforSale.jpg

“Love for Sale: a world history of prostitution” by Nils Johan Ringdal

I promised a book review about the history of prostitution and by that promise, I write this (and after a little nudge from a regular reader because seems I took too long). :)

It’s taken so long for various reasons but mostly, and sadly, I found this book generally painful to get through though I promise my post about it is much more interesting. The only problem with the book is it read like a history book (yuck) and it triggered some unexpected emotions that were negative as it opened my eyes and mind to patriarchy and sex in general through a new lens. I think it was overload of information that didn’t correspond to my field views so I was overwhelmed by facts, names, historical references and generally uninteresting stuff. It didn’t have chewable information I could digest like other book reviews but rather, it was striking nonetheless. I ended up skipping pages and hunted for good quotes and tidbits to get through, hoping to find that awesome feeling of really putting off real life to read this book. I didn’t find that loving feeling BUT still, it offered food for thought for sure so let’s dive into whoredom.

“What makes a woman a prostitute, a whore, a slut or a second-class citizen via sexuality anyway? It is, of course, the ownership of her goods, that glorious tunnel of sin that also leads towards creation. How she uses it determines the words which describe her.” - tvt

What’s for Sale?

I’m confused why this wasn’t called “Body for Sale” or “Soul for Sale” or “Women for Sale” or “Pussy for Sale” or “Whore for Sale” because love was maybe missed in the pages where I got bored and skipped over. There is no love. Men don’t buy love. Men buy pleasure and service and power. Love cannot be bought even though women buy love bullshit all the time. Love is the catch word, the power word like “all natural”, “organic” or "new and improved.” Love happens on its own but love-like acts can be purchased and so broken down simply, men don’t buy love but instead the actions of love, namely sex and intimacy at best.

This book covered every major culture in history from the Babylonians to current feminist minded societies and the basic unsurprising fact is, women who exchange sex for money - specifically prostitutes - are treated as though lower in all ways than women who do not. Whoredom is a hole that needs filling and it is also a societal balance that demands its (silent) existence. As the author notes, “…historians and social scientists have often seen the two institutions [family and prostitution] as polar oppositions, both morally and culturally.” (2) Families, we all know, are very different but the nuclear family unit of a man, wife (wives) and kids is most dominant. (2) Being that there are differences in this nuclear family though – monogamy vs polygamy for example or free choice for partnership vs. purchased brides – the organization and function of a family unit’s expression will ultimately have “structuring impact on family and prostitution”. (2) Basically, one feeds the other.

On a moral scale, most societies consider a man who takes responsibility for his paternal role as more moral than one who does not. Ringdal notes on this point, “Understood in this way, the family is a positive servitude, while prostitution is a negative freedom. (2)

“Negative freedom”.

Isn’t that an oxymoron? That stopped me and made me really think about the other side of the coin we keep flipping back and forth: “Madonna” and “Whore”; Mother and Wife; Girlfriend and “Hookup”. The difference between these is only in the way money and sex are distributed.

The Guts of the Book

click to view larger

The book itself is great if you’re into historical and Biblical references segregated between chapters that offer a synopsis of each time era and how prostitution was viewed. There’s a lot to learn here. If this were a documentary on Netflix, it would probably be more engaging. What I found interesting and surprising and unfortunate however, was how filthy – for lack of a better term - this book made me feel about being a woman, believing in men or enjoying sexuality. I noticed the front cover quoted it as being “entertaining”. I did not find it so.

To clarify, it wasn’t the book itself but the factual and vast examples culturally on the topic of prostitution it presented: the reality of female sexuality and male gain from it. I can’t explain how much unexpected anger the book provoked within me, and so again, it was rough to get through and much skipped for a variety reasons. One may have simply been the dark reality that this book is a presentation of the ugly truths about sexuality and the sexes and the depth in which they originate is surely as mysterious and difficult to manage through as the Marianna Trench! This wasn’t a philosophical or scientific theory - which I typically read. This was history and on this topic, more impactful on my emotional centers.

One quote below I will share to help illustrate the ugliness I felt. Few concepts could be more offending than understanding that men need porn and then they need to fuck that porn out of themselves and if they do it with a woman who is willing to do it (prostitute, whore, wench – thx Lady Gaga), assuming their wife, girlfriend, or other female body (or male body) isn’t willing to, then why is the prostitute being put down for filling a need for the man who couldn’t fill his own needs in the first place? Why is SHE getting the heat and not him when he needed HER? Consider this reality:

“The general view of prostitute women… is they continue to be seen as second-class species, with the double stigma of their gender and profession. … The attitude of the police has also remained firm. Gloria Lockett, former California prostitute and present activist, tells stories about the LA police…

Gloria had gone into a drugstore and bought twelve dozen condoms. The boys in blue must have had her under surveillance. In any case, they accosted her outside the drugstore. They grabbed her purse and shook it upside down. Then they punctured every single condom, one by one, pushing the knife down into the latex membrane, slowly and with great enjoyment. Gloria got her purse back…: “G’night, honey! Happy hunting!” (400-401)

To be or not to be

I don’t condone or condemn prostitutes. It’s too complex a topic for such views. Many prostitutes aren’t in this by choice but by need to make money or sadly, get drugs. I watched every sex show on Netflix in the past year that dealt with strippers, prostitutes or porn stars. The stories are harsh. These girls didn’t always have the best life circumstances and yet, as trash they are treated, and eventually shamed they feel. They talk themselves into the state of self-empowerment but you can see there is confusion in what that means intellectually and logically versus what it shows via behaviors and feelings. How can we help them by further punching them into the moral ground and calling and treating them second class when some of these women fuck high class traveling businessmen, the lonely fathers, the kinky bastards or those awkward guys who can’t get a date much less sex? Some prostitutes are in it by choice: I knew one who used the cash to go through med school. I don’t know if she finished or if her career finished her but she used men for her own good. Because she gave sex and not PR consulting, she’s the whore and the guys, they are still the businessmen, the lonely fathers, the kinky bastards and those awkward boys; but if she was good, they are still thinking about her because that’s her only ride up in this field unless you turn stone cold from the inside. You have to because you have to protect your inner-self.

There are plenty of women who go bar hopping and bang a new guy weekly and because they didn’t cash in on a few men a night the old fashioned way but instead got drinks and bullshit pickup lines, they aren’t called prostitutes. What makes a woman a prostitute, a whore, a slut or a second-class sexual citizen anyway? It is, of course, the ownership of her goods, that glorious tunnel of sin that also leads towards creation. How she uses it that determines the words that describe her. Isn’t it really just our perspective with an appropriate slant that allows room for many to be promiscuous without actually being titled “prostitute” (or gigolo) because they are not taking money but basically still giving sex to people they hardly know in exchange for other “things” such as conversation, time, drinks, food, gifts, loneliness, hope, etc.? So it’s okay to accept all that in the name of a maybe potential relationship but taking money for it without strings is not? What makes the difference when meeting a man, having dinner, having sex, having him never call again and doing it again with another guy next month than meeting a “John”, having sex, having him pay her and calling her to do it again? Seems the exchange is more fair for the so-called whore.

Prostitutes and the Johns know what they’re there for: money talks and bullshit walks. In a bar, bullshit talks and money just helps the conversation move forward to the goal, which is, of course, sex with a better quality girl aka not a prostitute. Rarely is conversation the actual goal for a male. It’s a benefit but the goal is sex. Friendship happens by accident, if you don’t mind my forthrightness here.

I consider males mostly the exploited ones in the current modern society in which Westerners live (not counting the women who are truly drug addicted or pimped out or trafficked because that’s another avenue of this that’s too complex to get into right now). It’s not presented that way but every divorced man will agree with me. I think females are better at sexual exploitation of men and the women who don’t know how to use their sexuality are unfortunately the ones exploited by men sexually but men are almost always exploited financially. In other words, men and women exploit each other and the one who can gain an advantage over the other will win. Society doesn’t allow women that advantage sexually but it should because if women didn’t make themselves available, who is left? Male asses and animals? If we keep women in the mix, if they don’t offer consent then we are lead to true rape culture. In fact, current definition of rape culture is a far cry from the rape culture of the Medieval times, where women were regularly raped and it was accepted:

“Gang rape was a common phenomenon in the late Middle Ages. Any woman traveling the streets along at unorthodox times or in unusual places was in danger of being raped. The attackers signaled their approach by shouting ‘whore’, which legalized the deed.” (148) Apparently hundreds of such rapes occurred each year back in the 1400 and 1500s. (148)

To rape a girl all one needed was to believe she acted like a whore and it was okay. According to the author, “Having sex with a prostitute against her will was considered almost legal…and it was not really a criminal act to rape or gang-rape a prostitute. Fathers were responsible for protecting their daughters and husbands were responsible for protecting their wives.” (149)

It seems logical such ingrained philosophies were passed down through the centuries. They didn’t come from illusion but from truth. “Rape functioned as disincentive to unruly women and a general form of oppression of actual prostitutes; in the corridors of power, it was tolerated, indeed encouraged. (149) … In the canonical registry of sins, rape was only a subsidiary form of whoredom, admittedly more violent in form, but viewed as no worse a sin. And there was much in Church doctrine that legitimized the activity…” (149)

Sex Between Gods Leads to Conclusions

While we’re pretty familiar with all the rape in the Bible and mythology, the Qu’ran has a rather “sex-friendly tone in Muslim texts”. (131) While Allah finds nothing wrong with sexual desire, sex cannot threaten society in any way (131) and the “Qu’ran does not condemn men who pay for sex with women who offer it willingly (133) though Islam discouraged prostitution, among Muslim-born girls in particular, and presumable even more among Shi‘ites than among Sunni Muslims. Some prostitutes were always accessible in the cities but the rule was that a prostitute and her brothel owner were foreign and belonged to one of the oppressed minorities. The girl would either be a Christian slave from the periphery of the Byzantine Empire or Jewish.” (133) Seems Muslims had standards.

So, many such good and interesting quotes were dotted throughout the book, again going back from Babylonians to Greeks, Romans, Asians, and so on. Whoredom was everywhere and where there is need for pleasure in a world full of weight and pain, there will be men willing to pay and women willing to please (vice versa too). If prostitution was legal – and it should be – and if these women had the protection they needed, society would be a more satisfied and safe entity. Sex makes people happier, even sex with a prostitute or the local bar whore. Enough empty sex makes people change for the better usually, not for the worse. Most people have better intentions and hopes for themselves than we credit them for. Interestingly on this point, how is being a porn star not being a prostitute? It’s the same thing except one is accepted and glorified with hand picked “actors” and the other is shamed for fucking non-actors. One is protected and the other shunned. Sex for money equals sex for money but one whore is better than the other. There’s another double standard to add to your mix.

This all boils down to a few simplicities:

Don’t put down women who do what the wives won’t or can’t and don’t put down women who fuck the ugly, creepy, weird, fat or sometimes disabled guys most of us ladies won’t give a chance. Doesn’t everyone deserve the opportunity for sexual pleasure? Why does faking love for sex out-value offering money? Don’t judge the women who give pleasure to the men who didn’t seem to find it on their own or who have fantasies they can’t tell their loved one or have tiny penises and can’t find a woman to make them feel like a man. Don’t assume every John is beating up a girl and using her in a violent way. Yes, men do this but many men don’t and those in a legalized brothel won’t dare because they won’t be allowed back. If you want to play, you must play by the rules and some responsible force HAS to make some rules to protect these women and frankly, men too. It’s a public health matter. Banning prostitution isn’t a solution just like prohibition wasn’t a solution. Regulation is the solution (for now).

Remember the bell curve and most men fall in between the extremes. This means they just need someone to feed them a fantasy and/or pleasure and for that, he deservingly should pay (love or hooker, he pays), but why should she pay? She already did. Prostitute sex is empty sex and so it takes a hard woman (often broken into hardness) to be the bearer of pleasure for others while she’s treated as poison to herself, those she fucked and the society that is too shamed to admit it needs her services.

Prostitutes deserve respect if not on any ground but the one that makes them human beings of consent and no judgment. That’s valuable in a relationship, we profess, but not for money and no strings? A little dogmatic, I think. Morality needs just a little loosening to see what’s within the crevices of judgments and prejudiced minds built over millennia of female abuse and not just physical but verbal, legal and mental. Prostitutes provide two vital values to men: pleasure and power. So do porn stars. There should be no discrimination between the two.

A prostitute has much more value than the average person who shuns her. One way to help her is to legalize prostitution and create safer environments for her and the men who support her offerings. Morality is relative and must be placed aside to the valuable cause of safety and necessity, both individually and publicly. That’s a big statement on a slippery slope topic but fact is, like pornography, prostitution will never go away so treat it right within the domain it belongs in, or put down the men who buy sex and stop calling prostitutes whores and derogatory names. Is there a personal subtle insult within the buyer of sex that somehow suggests he’s a loser because he has to pay for something he could get for free? Maybe but women want relationships and those are not free; thus, men find value in the hooker as much as in the hook up and there will always be a willing girl. That being the case, it’s time for a paradigm shift in the way we view prostitution and the mental and physical health matters that surround the issue.

-tvt

Kavanaugh, Character & Whorehood

(this post is the continuation of my Kavanaugh views from my previous post. )

Regarding Kavanaugh, I quote this (though there were a bunch of great articles I could quote from, this one sums it up both about him and the US President):

At a campaign rally in Mississippi on Tuesday night, Trump openly mocked Ford’s testimony. The display was condemned by three Republican senators — Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Jeff Flake (Arizona) — who are seen as swing votes.

“There’s no time and no place for remarks like that,” Flake said on NBC’s “Today” show. “To discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right. It’s just not right. I wish he hadn’t done it. I just say it’s kind of appalling.”

“The president’s comments were just plain wrong,” Collins said.

After an initial review of the FBI report, Collins told reporters that it appeared “to be a very thorough investigation.” Flake said the same, adding that he saw no additional corroborating evidence to substantiate the allegations against the nominee.

Meanwhile, more than 1,200 law professors have signed a letter opposing Kavanaugh’s confirmation, arguing that during last week’s hearings he “displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court.” (emphasis is mine) (source)

One thousand two hundred law professors are a lot of legal minds to pass concerned judgment over a few handfuls of “experts” in the Judiciary Committee and of course, Donald Duck himself. It is only on faith we may support the idea that the FBI interviews were “very thorough”.

I watched the hearings. I felt Ford, her pain and struggle. She didn’t convince me her assailant was in fact Kavanaugh but she definitely experienced sexual assault (though, honestly, drunken teens in the 80s it may have sincerely been more horseplay than assault but her assailant, whoever it was, didn’t rape her and fact is, who knows if that was an intent. Maybe the intent was not even intended to be more than dumb teens fucking around so, while she was in fact rightfully fearful, there’s no way to know that the assailant was in fact going to rape her or just fuck with her head so to speak — and he did succeed in that point, we must agree there). Ford brought heroism to America and real heroes are those who take the risks because it’s for the greater good, not for titles, praise or fame. Her testimony was compelling and riveting. I waited to hear Kavanaugh with an open mind. He deserved that; we all do. Within five minutes of his opening statements, I felt totally stunned by his outcries. Just shocked he displayed himself so angry and accusatory - as a judge! Isn’t he supposed to show he can rise above the commoners and walk the tight rope like a professional? Ford did.

If you read my last post, you know I oppose Kavanaugh but not necessarily because he committed, maybe, a sexual assault. We don’t know he did factually and so in fairness, being we are in America, he must be taken as innocent and proven guilty. It’s the right thing to do on the foundation of our Constitutional gifts even if it may feel very wrong for some citizens. One can’t just “believe her” and make assumptions. Sure protest and be heard but seriously realize that beliefs are not facts in law terms and it has to be this way. Constitutional laws are in place to protect everyone, not just your views. The deeper problem isn’t if he’s guilty or not at this point in time; but Kavanaugh’s very character is flawed in so that he reeks of beer and disorientation of what “good character” looks like from a truly strong, honest and honorable man vantage point.

Alcohol forces your inhibitions down and nothing pushes people into their fantasy zone faster. If you want to fuck up, drink too much. It’s a guarantee, except, the depth of your fuck up is the unknown variable. So, we know this and thus shouldn’t expect Kavanaugh to have behaved better in a time pre-MeToo movement. He’s grandfathered in so to speak. However!

Kavanaugh’s demeanor during the hearing was unbecoming of an honorable, disciplined, compassionate, sympathetic, intelligent man. It was difficult to sympathize with his misfortune the same way I sympathized with Ford’s misfortune. The Supreme Court demands an honorable demeanor because it is the most honorable seat. He couldn’t even fake his demeanor. Do you understand this? He couldn’t rise above it and fake it.

Women are good at faking it because that is what we all must do to get ahead at some point in our lives. For some it’s rarely or occasionally and for others it’s often. We, as in women, deal with so much male bullshit that we bathe in hot tubs and pretty perfume so we may smell of flowers rather than the shit stink manifested in all sorts of creative ways upon us. There’s always a new generation that isn’t into the bathing, smelling pretty path of faking it. They don’t want to fake it so they’re saying fuck it instead, fuck you to be more exact, I think. They are rebels and we all need a dose of rebel yell to shake up the monotony of life’s yes-men (or women). If this didn’t happen, most of America really wouldn’t know or care about who Kavanaugh was. Agree or not, this made us all think deeper about a variety of important issues facing Americans today.

If a woman displayed Kavanaugh’s demeanor in a hot-seat situation, she’d be devoured by ridicule, played as too weak to take the pressures of the job. She would be - unfortunately - a false testament to how “emotional” women are and thus unfit to serve. I’m no fan of Hillary Clinton but if she acted this way, she would just never live that down. She would have broken all the power she took years to cultivate. And, in the process, sadly I say this, but she wouldn’t make women look any better than our stereotype. The same holds true for Anita Hill or any woman put before a group of men asking loads of testing questions. So how did Kavanaugh make good men actually look good?

I simply didn’t see in Kavanaugh, the kind of man worthy of a lifetime appointment on the United States Supreme Court, the final word of the land. Kavanaugh did lie under oath before and his emotional outburst was difficult to witness. He dodged questions, was rather rude and obnoxious and was a complete turn off to me. I couldn’t tell if he was authentically hurting, acting or just stuck in puberty like a little lost blame-it-on-others boy. I felt he embarrassed himself. I cringed from it. I spoke with a Republican friend of mine and he felt totally the opposite of me. It’s hard to argue the perspective in the way one sees another because we skew our perspective to suit our visions. I’m not right or wrong; I’m just an embodiment of a particular view that suits the way I view the privilege of serving on the highest court in our country. Step it up if it you want the highest step. I simply expect more but for others, there isn’t more to expect. Ultimately, our expectations determine the kind of life we end up creating. Unity is a tough road for us all.

***I said I’d not discuss this til the vote was over. I am impatient on this and very busy the next week and won’t get back to this for several weeks. I expect Kavanaugh to be voted in now that two of the senators stated a yes vote. It’s not a huge disappointment because I expected this but I was hoping he would at least not get voted in due to his expression of character so that surprises me and disappoints me but politicians usually do… so back to my painting corner I go, a world that makes sense to me. Plus, I picked up a new book to tell you about in the near future. It’s about the history of prostitution aka whorehood if you were wondering how I folded that word into the title. :) It should be interesting to add that info to the history of pornography knowledge I’ve gained. ***

Judging the Judge: Oh, K...

“None of us ought to be defined by the ugliest moments of our lives — and especially not our teenage lives.” - Matt Bai

I felt I had to share an excellent opinion article with you on the current situation with Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh and his sexual assault accuser, Christine Blasey Ford. I haven’t broke into political feminist lines in years on my blog and that’s been a conscious choice. I can tell you my blood pressure is way lower and my love of life way higher; however, in this instance, I feel the need to pay attention and in some way nudge the views out there and not even for “my side” but whatever side you side for but with an intelligent and educated viewpoint, not news hype. This is important.

The last presidential election absolutely disgusted me and as many of my regulars (friends, readers, collectors) have noticed, I removed myself from Facebook and most social networks and I have minimized, if not eliminated, my opinions about feminism, politics or controversial topics — the exact opposite of my past blog on WordPress many moons ago and when I wrote for a law blog as a resident feminist writer for an attorney now quite big on the national lines. (that makes me proud though)

I don’t want Kavanaugh in the Supreme Court but this is because Wade vs. Roe is the most valuable law women have in our country. I want no one who may put that in jeopardy. I’m so personally triggered by this topic that I chose not to submit some of my Sexibition artwork (circa 2005-2010 approx) I’m certain would have had good chance to be included into a current local show titled Wade vs. Roe at Sulfur Studios in Savannah, Ga (see the show if you’re in the area). I could have submitted newer work but the Sexibition collection was all about the feminism that I stood for which I think represents still the big feminist issues facing us today. Many of the artworks are still relevant today, such as these, “United States of American Freedom” and “My Body”:

Justice_for_all_Web.jpg
 
Do+Not+TouchWeb.jpg

I am so passionate about the need for pro-choice for women that I have to remove myself from the conversations around it, as I’ve been putting myself into them since I was 14 or 15 - hey! high school! - because after all this time my heart will pop and I will drown in my own blood. Harsh, I know. I remove myself from the pool because pro-choice is so clearly constitutional and a rightful choice of an autonomous, sentient, interdependently embodied human being that I cannot comprehend how it is not except for any other reason than to take control from women and ensure breeding of the human species. Period. If Life itself actually mattered, it would matter across all sectors and ethically delicate situations but life’s value is a relative one. It’s valuable for those who control it and life seems to be all about power (money and sex manifest one’s power).

I am on the fence about Kavanaugh’s accuser, Ford, primarily for the reality that she is bringing to the table what happened in high school 36 years ago, while intoxicated no less! However, that’s a thought we all had. Rightfully, she deserves to be heard but about something that happened while intoxicated? I can tell you a few people I know who drink and don’t recall what they did last night so it’s very, very difficult to understand this without Ford’s testimony.

All of us have done things we wish we had not in high school (maybe even last week). This hits ALL of us. Who is, in fact, safe from their past under the new era of “The Past Matters”? All of these new “movements” and “matters” and finger pointing social norms that are popping up in our landscape are sadly so hyped up that they shape minds with emotion and that is what has gotten us here today, to our status quo as an American society.

This said, I read this opinion piece by Matt Bai and it deserves to be read because it answers what we need to ask and think about regarding anyone who is questioned in their character running for public office, not just Mr. Kavanaugh. Bai presented an intelligent view and a fair objective perspective. He tweaked the public hype for me and put a spin on the true context, which is most important to keep in mind and I really needed that clarity to view this and much more with a broader vision. In Bai’s words:

“Character demands context. The moral arc of a lifetime matters. Not everything is equally relevant…

He could have said [states the author of Kavanaugh], in effect: Judge me for my lifetime of service, not for whatever may have happened at 17 that I was too stupid and drunk to remember.

But that’s not what Kavanaugh is saying. He dismisses not only the allegation but the context around it. He says he wasn’t that kind of kid. He says he wasn’t there, in the house Ford can describe in detail.

He makes a victim of her all over again, by essentially calling her delusional. He makes no allowance for the possibility that his own memory is blurred by inebriated youth.”

I think this is an intensely valuable point that nutshells the article. It’s not so much what he did as a teen or didn’t do exactly in this case on a broader scale than merely feminism and the #MeToo movement present; it’s what character will admit to now and how and that is the character that defines the man. And, Bai is right: Kavanaugh victimizing Ford (now if not again) by keeping himself clean of such activity. Not being fully honest with himself and others (assumption based on this article’s presentation), shame will directly affect Kavanaugh’s decisions as a Supreme Court Justice and that will touch all of our lives directly or indirectly for years to come, and not only on feminist issues. For him or against him, Bai provides good thought about how to enhance our views on this vital American matter and the way in which we choose our politicians — as though our President wasn’t enough of a lesson.

If this topic interests you, I highly suggest Bai’s article.

-TvT

*UPDATE 9/26/18

…third accuser. Kavanaugh is toast. This is going to be tough to overcome so let’s see how the circus plays out. I can’t wait until the hearings Thursday. I won’t comment further until this is over, but I will say that it truly disappoints me when men fail because when they do, it is because of sex and their relationship with it and not particularly with us, with women. However,it directly affects our relationships with them. A truly honorable person is one who can control their sexuality, understand its appropriateness and take “No” for an answer at anytime in the act. There is a fine line between nudging boundaries to ignoring and disrespecting them. What disappoints me in Kavanaugh — if proven guilty or not because a movement’s movement doesn’t need evidence to move — is he just added more evidence for a stronger #MeToo movement (which is good for the movement but bad considering what the movement is exposing) AND he made men look worse as though they don’t already look like a bunch of fucking bastards who rape women. I mean, fact is, most are not but when I listen to the #MeToo hype, that’s what I hear and that’s not what I’ve experienced. It’s a shame for all of us that another man is looking like he’s going be be burned at the stake in the public eye. My, how the times have changed: are we in an era of the male “witch hunt”?

Review & commentary: “The Porning of America”

porningamerica.jpg

Where to start on this lovely compilation of porn goodness? I use "porn" instead of "pornography" because the authors of the book I'm reviewing, “The Porning of America” by Carmine Sarracino and Kevin M. Scott, made clear the distinction is simply that there was once a word called pornography and it contained items to hide in a closet or cause shame. Today the word has become slang to mean anything amazing, euphoric, or generally visually pleasing or enticing: porn is mainstream while pornography is passe.

Everyone should read this book. It has been the single most fascinating presentation of intellectual views on porn I've hit in a long time.  Being I've poured myself into porn research over the past few years watching numerous documentaries on the topic, reading interviews from porn makers and stars, hunting down good books and articles, skimming through a lot of porn, and conceptualizing the next step in my painting it, this book gave me pause. I'm still digesting the information for myself because it was jam packed but I think this book's presentation on how pornography has turned into simply "porn" and what it all means is vital information to pass along before I digest the whole book for myself. To quote the authors on their view of where pornography will go (which was written 20 years ago so keep that in mind): 

"Pornography will have shrunk to porn and porn further shrunk away altogether, disappearing because it can no longer be distinguished from what we see everywhere around us on the Internet...on cable television, in movies, magazines, advertisement, music videos. Porn will have become our cultural wallpaper" (47).

Ah, or in my contributory way, wall art. I'm totally guilty of contributing to it but to be fair, I really like it.  When my youngest kid finally leaves on her own in five years, my walls will only contain erotic art.  Glad to know I can start a wallpaper company and maybe make it... and inviting the Jehovah Witnesses into my home will be an outstanding act of fun.  Good times ahead, my friends.  Good times.

On a serious note, the above quote struck me because I realized how true the statement was, even more so now than when the book was written in 2008, after my 2nd child and never-mind when I was a teenager, the era when people went bat shit crazy over Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” tour and George Michael’s "I want your sex" video. I thought the video was fucking hot and Madonna’s masturbation simulation on stage an act of mockery to self-pleasure’s judgment and shame. Being masturbation is a solo activity and therefore safe and Michael was promoting monogamy, the outcries showed how people don’t think before they react to sexual content. It also shows now how pure and prude we were because what exists now would never have been accepted in the 80s.

The past 20 years of my life have been a whirlwind of experiences and distractions called motherhood which have minimized a broader view of porn, what it is, what it was and most importantly, where it's going.  This realm is truly fascinating to me.  The porn of today has morphed and it's continuing to. It's ignorant to say porn isn't affecting young boys and men (girls and women too) and thus their relationships but one can't blame only the porn industry for porn consumption and thus, creation.  Masses seek porn and pornography, like hungry animals.  The porn industry is complex. There are too many players and too much value and too much corruption to loose control, plus it’s a human constructed need created entirely upon a biological craving.

The anti-porn movement is just something to do, not something that will actually work. Why? Because society needs porn and if it didn't, it wouldn't be so damn mainstream. Period. Society won't accept what it truly does not want: American mainstream society has said "okay" to pornography and its evolved form called "porn" and so now we have readily available, an act that took sometimes months if not years for a guy to get. I was speaking with a 20-something friend who informed me that today, you sleep together first and if you get a call back, it’s good news. Is this how far we've come* and bigger question, is this truly how we want to continue?

*side note: (Keep in mind that there’s no point in investing romantic energy into another person unless you know they are a good match sexually. Love blinds reality but sex speaks truth about the other and builds more trust and intimacy than words or other actions can. Love binds, yes, but remember the missing “l”. It blinds too. This doesn’t diminish the value of love but without sexuality, you’re left with friendship. Basically women have come to meet men at their level: sex first and if that’s great, then you’re worth more effort. If not, why bother the investment? It seems clear such a paradigm shift has occurred because independent women apparently don’t need men or love or that marital security blanket anymore so it seems logical as to why and how they have adapted and adopted the typical male view of sex and relationships. Unfortunately, that’s a tip of an iceberg discussion but this sexual shift hasn’t led to a happier sex life in many relationships from my understanding.) 

Pornography as it is presented today, "modern porn" if you will, is a topic that goes deep and wide so it gets confusing to navigate; but the authors have final suggestions on how to combat, manage and accept pornography into our lives and how to create alternative ways to experience sexual pleasure.  You have to read the book to find the answer yourself - because, not everything should be free on the Internet. The book it worth it anyway you slice this. 

There's so much to unpack here that I had to pull back from all I wanted to point out about it. I will highlight what struck me.  Once I marked all the interesting quotes in the book, I realized I could write my own book about this book so I'll try to keep it to a minimum and hopefully entice you to visit the library or buy it.

Highlight quotes and my commentary:

ONE

Referring to our cultural acceptance of porn that in its particularly humiliating and more violent nature, such views and “acceptance” of it appeared in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in 2004 where in Rush Limbaugh compared it to a place next to family values: "Rush Limbaugh, for instance, all but pooh-poohed the controversy, describing the events as 'fraternity hazing' and calling the photos 'standard good ol American pornography', as if there was a place reserved for 'American porn' right beside Mom and apple pie" (139). Well...I mean, I bet there's a lot of people reading this who knew exactly what "standard good ol American pornography" actually stood for and that in itself speaks volumes to us, no?

TWO

Returning to the feminization of males as presented in my last book review "Are Men Necessary", this completely validated what Maureen Dowd's commentary presented, that men are being feminized by culture (and primarily feminism) but in the case of pornography and again, through humiliation and degradation and violence, feminization is a brutal hit for masculinity, or specifically, masculine-powered cultures. Again referring to the Abu Ghraib scandal: "When Armin Cruz, along with others, handcuffed male detainees together in a sexual position and put his book on their buttons to simulate anal sex, he 'feminized' the detainees.  In the ideology of al-Sheweiri and in the view of the guards as well, shaped by violent porn, women are inferior, weak, passive.  Only women then, can be raped.  To degrade a male, you must first turn him into a female by raping him" (147).  To add weight here, al-Sheweiri, one detainee, was quoted saying "...They wanted us to feel as though we were women, the way women feel and this is the worst insult, to feel like a woman."  That's right. Take it, bitch. Clearly, this is a man (and society) who has no idea that to be a woman is to be God's choice for following through with life's creation and is an amazing gift. Culture can create such bullshit as truth, can't it? The insult would merely be created within the ignorance of masculine dogma. In this particular case, American "violent" pornography was a themed circus act of "fuck you" to a culture that cultivates harm and clear discrimination onto women in the first place. You pick your morals here.

Everyone possesses relative equal potential to create life but females manifest that potential into reality. Seems to me that embedded deeply within the male psyche, males are simply jealous of female capability, and as my hero, Dr. Leonard Shlain discussed in his book “Sex, Time & Power”, what creature can deliver a human being into the world and bleed for a week every month yet not die? People try to control that which they do not understand and women seemingly are still a mystery.

THREE

Continuing with shocking and violent porn, I was shocked to discover how intense and stupid the porn of 20 years ago was, which of course really puts things into perspective now. The authors bring up a website called Pinkeye wherein the male ejaculates into the female's eye until it's inflamed.  There is absolutely nothing sensual about this act, they claim and for good reason: it's true! They explain that the "psychological kick of causing the woman discomfort" is the main attraction. The act of humiliation and pain, etc., is the turn-on. Of course, if it's consensual, at what point do we as individuals and as society say, that's enough or free will is free will? The point is the humiliation, degradation and violence onto another person, and it is in fact, mostly onto women.  

Is Pinkeye kink? I think most people might agree that some porn is simply stretching the boundaries but isn’t that what humans do anyway? Don’t we need to push the edge to see how far the edge can truly go, be accepted, be normalized and then mainstreamed? So who has this power? The porn producers or those consuming? Isn’t your sexual desire ultimately relative in morality or perversity? The only workable resistance to porn on Pinkeye’s level is not to watch it and not to participate in it but the fact remains, life presents us with idiots who will do anything for money or attention all the time. Do we ban free speech because we don't want to hear President Trump's bullshit or do we accept his sliver of crap, move on and view the good that there still exists?  (off topic there but a fine example if you ask me)  

Websites with intense and extreme porn meant to only capture the degradation and humiliation aspects within sexuality do present the question of how male-ish of an act is this type of sexual violation versus is this an act by a male who has embedded mental health or perceptual issues? How far does one judge this act opposed to hitting for sexual pleasure? Does anyone know of this stuff within the homosexual community? I mean, if a heterosexual male would get a kick out of it, wouldn’t a homosexual male too? Are there gay men ejaculating into their male lover’s eyes? Why aren’t there homosexual Pinkeye websites, or are there? If not, then it points to a clear sexual high off of sexism. Further, this also begs the question, of where is the female’s mentality to submit to such an act. Is money really the full pull because if you can get a job in porn, why choose that particular job? Is this a show of one’s level of self-respect or pain tolerance? Why would one female say yes and another no? It goes deeper than money, or does it? Do we seek or suggest psychological care for the extreme porn minded or do we drop it on the fact that in sex, "different strokes for different folks"?  Weird shit turns people on is the truth here. Sex for many is self-discovery. When do we claim a certain action is "wrong" or “unacceptable” for a sexual high when consent is on the table?  Just a few big questions on the freedom of sexuality. (probably too many)

FOUR

Undoubtedly, the authors bring us to the anti-pornography movement and their pioneer stars, Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon. In porn, as in marriage, there are positive and negative examples. Some happen out of passion and honesty and others out of family arrangements, force or coercion (or false promises).  I don't see any anti-marriage propaganda.  Ever. More people get hurt by the pain caused by marital bullshit than there are porn-stars or wannabes but no one highlights that because it is disguised under "love" whereby therapists make the money, not porn producers or porn stars. That's acceptable, even "en vogue'. Plus, it plays to our feelings and not our primal fleshy desires, which can be harsh to our sensitive Human-greater-than-thou eyes.  

Thanks to Dworkin and MacKinnon, several cities in the US between 1983 and 1992 tried passing anti-pornography civil rights ordinances and their "model ordinance defined pornography as 'the graphic sexual explicit subordination of women through pictures and/or words."  Um.  So if you like to call your woman a whore, see her shaking her booty and tits for you or if your woman likes to be slapped around or held down or something rather "violent" in sexual action, you may be a pervert who deserves “criminal” as a title. So realistically, what the truth here is, is that it might be okay to express yourself sexually as a wild animal behind closed doors because we have to be true to ourselves, but just don’t tell anyone and please, don’t film that shit so we don’t give others any ideas that women might like a little deviance from their missionary and feminist duties.

What a damn shame for the good person trying to watch a little hard core fucking to reach a little of his or her primal nature, which is mostly what porn is an expression of. Interestingly, we can see that many people like the “subordination” aspect sex delivers with the explosion of amateur sex videos. Someone has to be in charge and someone has to take it. People don’t fake that shit. Porn stars do. The internet has given us an open view to examine ourselves and our sexual selves and we are a fucking horny species who gets off (typically) with bad words, some degree of violence and modest to high levels of control and submission aka examples of subordination.

My definition of pornography, if you don't know, is simpler because it states the facts and not the tilt of opinion in them: “Sexuality is universal, and pornography acts merely as the unedited documentation of sexual behaviors.”  We edit them to show what we want but we edit to SHOW and not to imply.  I've given a lot of thought to it over the years, and it did modify it a little by the time I finished my Back It Up show but essentially, pornography is sex documented as we are "in the state of rawness" not as we dress up to be. Erotica dresses up but porn shows us what we are and when not turned on, it has potential to be ugly. We are used to covering up what makes us uncomfortable to see. Porn doesn't let you.

FIVE

 We’ve come a long way, baby, for sure.

We’ve come a long way, baby, for sure.

While not in the book because this officially happened “in the future”, I feel it important to add this. Getting back to the original idea of how pornography will be our cultural wallpaper, it reminded me of a fantastic point the proves these authors’ beyond a reasonable doubt. Three words: President Donald Trump. In no presidency would have we dared to see an intentionally posed nude photograph of the First Lady (left), never mind the array of sexual misconduct choices by the president himself, which top all other presidents together I think. If this isn’t the epitome of porn as cultural “wallpaper”, it’s going to have to get much worse to make the point then. Do we really want to go there?

Fact is, not only is porn normalized in the White House, athletes are being sexualized unlike ever before and everyone is getting naked unlike ever before. As the authors mention, download and streaming porn sites have made everyone into a porn star. No one is immune, even grandma. In a strange way, in my opinion, perhaps that’s not so bad. In our nudity and sexuality we are most vulnerable and perhaps Americans unconsciously are enacting a stretch into being vulnerable for the sake of being fulfilled in some way. They are clearly for a search for more. The question is how much more is needed before satisfaction?

 LASTLY

As I said, this book is jam packed. I planned to write much more direct review but truth is, it all centers around the central theme of how pornography will in fact disappear and 20 years since that was written, I would say it in fact has. It’s full of great examples and quotes. So much of the book is now more true than when written that it’s almost scary and it’s really altered my view on pornography and its infiltration into the social system of acceptance. It’s not bad or good just very provocative in ways I never got and so I feel more commentary was needed for this book review.

Porn is such a normalized part of life that we aren’t even allowed to separate from it. I agree we do need such places. Church is a fantastic one. Schools, public places where professionalism and focus are needed and not sex. Proper dress at work and minimal sexual flirtations help but fact is, our sexual selves are hungry animals inside us. Like peacocks, some in our species like to show their feathers. Sexuality is what makes that male/female dynamic worthy in its gendered form. We spend so much time outside of our sexual realm that our true homo sapiens self must emerge somewhere and I think hormones are stronger than mind when the right cocktails emerge if you know what I’m sayin’.

I think less porn on the streets and more porn in the bedroom in action rather than in film is the best solution to a happier society but since that won’t happen, deal with the porn on the streets and increase yours at home. Intimacy and touch are vital to our health. I understand and accept porn as a tool to achieve whatever a person needs and needs are relative. I was influenced sexually by the smut books of Rosemary Rogers (that was my porn) that I would buy for $2 at the used book store across my high school; and of course, the environment of bikinis and sexy bodies growing up on the beaches of Miami influenced me on comfort of showing one’s shoulders (I do have a local child who told me she couldn’t wear sleeveless tanks because her mom doesn’t let her show her shoulders as I’m wearing a strapless sundress). Sexual imagery and words had always been embedded in my life. I think sexuality is great. How nice to go about your boring day in your boring attire to your boring x, y or z and suddenly you see a hot and sexy woman or man. I like that. A lot. It gives me a jolt and a smile.

Sexuality is constantly in battle with our mind and our mind is built up on societal perspectives, on paradigms, on culture, on beliefs often created by others and not ourselves. When we consider that as a society we also face a high alcohol glorification to mix with porn glorification, well, it seems evident as to why we have high “porn culture”, #metoo movements and bad political votes. Drinking and porn are normalized (so is stupidity and that infuriates me but it’s off topic). Sex for most people requires drinking to let down inhibitions so you have a culture that 1) provides the chemicals needed to let your walls down and 2) provides the seductions to want to engage in sexual activity and 3) gives you shame no matter which road you take. You have to expect sex to at least come up in the spectrum of possibilities when you mix drugs and porn just like when you mix males and females; and then you have to expect to test your morals and get a grip over the intoxication and seduction. It’s a terrible cycle that begins in college (high school?) every year. Does porn seduce us more than booze? Does the normalization of booze give us justification for the porn we want to participate in but inhibitions and societal morality constructs prevent us? Is porn on the rise just a result of a repressed society that is acting like a risky, horny teen, somewhat experimenting with what can be done?

Knowing when to put on the brakes and when to surrender is a fine line. Porn will always exist and we will always create and find it. The only way to control its directions is to control what you watch and thus support further creations of that. Producers produce what sells not what you like but what you buy shows them what you like so that’s what they sell. 1 + 1 = 2.

I think that since porn is becoming more violent and extreme, it’s a natural progression of our inner nature exploring how far we can go. Porn only really popped up big-time with the advent of Playboy and went shamefully mainstream in the 70s, considered the Golden Age of Pornography, so it’s still new to us, to our senses. No wonder the Internet is basically a porn database with other info in it to give it substance and “value”. With virtual porn on the rise, and (so much to talk about!) the recent interview with Elon Musk on the Joe Rogan show (a must see in its entirety), where Musk discusses how we’re going to evolve into cyborgs with maybe eventually 10% of humanity within us in the future - it makes me want to ask, how will Humans change pornography and what sexual needs will be necessary to meet when our biology will be overtaken by technology? We can already produce life artificially so, where do we go from here? Sex has already evolved from procreation to entertainment to extremism. Where else will humanity take it? I didn’t really look that far ahead until I read this book. The authors presented fantastic questions for inquiring minds. Cyborg sexual problems are centuries away maybe but fact remains, right now, we are human beings. We need real sex and real people to get us off in ways it is impossible to do solo. Porn is the expression of that and it’s here to stay.

I believe more females are needed in pornography’s production to help even out the playing field. As Elon Musk said to something totally unrelated, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”, and that’s basically what women need to do. When they join in, they can shift the paradigm. It’s a Trojan Horse scenario and it’s a much more intelligent plan than supporting anti-porn options. I think those with money to invest should invest in women who produce various forms of pornography and thus evoke positive changes that would benefit the future of man and womankind and most likely, our collective sexuality.

I highly suggest this book. - TvT

*Care to receive blog posts in your mailbox if you’re not already? Sign up here!