Annabelle River's picture

Embracing the "woo-woo" in kink

For many self-identified sadomasochists, BDSM is an expression of spirituality as much as sexuality. And I should disclose that I haven't been one of those people, because I've never been highly spiritual. I enjoy certain religious rituals too much to call myself an atheist: The rituals generally mean time with my family and large quantities of food, and who can argue against that? >From my religious standpoint, a story doesn't have to be literally true to be relevant or powerful, and I generally prefer the world the five senses.

But there's a sizable overlap between the Western polyamory subculture and pagan subculture. Stick around the poly or BDSM scenes long enough, and you're bound to hear someone quoting Raven Kaldera's Pagan Polyamory: Becoming a Tribe of Hearts or Easton & Hardy's Radical Ecstasy: SM Journeys to Transcendence. You're bound to hear people talking about their play in terms of energy work and chakras and tantra. There are whole workshops on spiritual BDSM. And I've always reacted to it the same way that I react to more "mainstream" religions, which involves faith that it works for other people, but no personal inner connection.

I try not to offend people by using the phrase "woo-woo" - but I do have a lot of respect for people who sometimes refer to their own spirituality as "a little woo-woo." Humor and self-awareness make almost anything more accessible.

arvan's picture

Call for Contributions: "Latin American and Caribbean Sexualities: Identities, Intersections and Social Movements"

The IRN is a project based at the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies of the City University of New York and financed by the Ford Foundation. Through this call for contributions the IRN wants to gather insight into gay and lesbian organizational strengthening and movement building in Latin America that they intend to share with IRN members and researchers around the world. Objectives are to increase the availability of high quality research in the subject area coming from Latin America.

Deadline for submissions: December 31, 2009.

The competition promotes the work of emerging and established academics and researchers publishing and disseminating new research on gender and sexuality throughout the Latin American and Caribbean region. Researchers and academics in Latin-America and Diaspora countries are invited to submit a single, original and previously-unpublished essay of no more than 8000 words in English, Spanish or Portuguese.

arvan's picture

Ending Transphobia in the Human Resources Administration

Transgender activists and allies have been urging the New York department of Social Service's Human Resources Administration to address the issues of transphobia and harassment that gender variant folks face when seeking access to welfare and/or public assistance programs.

The TransJustice program of the Audre Lorde Project has developed a procedure to address these injustices. To date the HRA has not made any improvements for the trans community.

Steps to take action:

1) Sign the petition demanding the HRA review committee adopt the procedures.

2) Collect HRA Postcards:

Make your own copies - Download the HRA Postcard, print it, sign it, get others to sign and mail the signed postcards to TransJustice, ALP, 85 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217. Download postcard here


Request postcards - Contact Mya Vazquez at 718-596-0342 x 23 or , tell us how many you want and where to mail them to.

3) Get involved with the campaign. To volunteer with the campaign or get more information contact

arvan's picture

Positive Women's Football Beats Stigma

HARARE, 13 October 2009 (PlusNews) - Janet Mpilime, 32, captain of the ARV Swallows, an all-woman football team based in the informal settlement of Epworth, 10km east of the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, has just led her team to a 2-1 victory over Sporting ART.

Wearing a football kit similar to that of Spain's number-one team, Barcelona, and smiling broadly, Mpilime explained that the name ARV Swallows was chosen to help fight stigma against people living with HIV.

ARV is short for antiretroviral, the life-prolonging drugs used to treat people with HIV, while ART stands for antiretroviral treatment.  All the women in both teams are positive.

arvan's picture

29 Million Women Blind Globally

By Ayodele Samuel And Sharon Alake [Leadership Nigeria]

As the world celebrates the World Sight Day , 29.25 million women have been reported blind globally according to statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

"Out of the purported 45 million blind people worldwide, women account for about 65 percent, which is 29.25 million,"

Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris said at a news conference to mark the day, adding that another 269 million people were visually impaired, while 85 percent of these people suffer from avoidable blindness that could either be prevented, or treated and cured.

arvan's picture

Honduras In Crisis - An Urgent Appeal

Dear Friends,

Today, brave women in Honduras are putting their lives on the line to stop human rights violations in their country; you can help.
Please make a donation to the Global Fund for Women and show Honduran women that we stand by them during these times of political and social unrest.
It is with deep concern, outrage and solidarity with women and civil society in Honduras that the Central American Women’s Fund and the Global Fund for Women launch this fundraising opportunity to financially support two projects.

arvan's picture

Namibian Illegal Abortions Common Despite Risks

By Patience Nyangove

WINDHOEK, Oct 7 (IPS) - Ten years ago, a move to legalise abortion in Namibia failed. The number of unwanted pregnancies remains high, with many people unwilling or unable to use contraception. Despite the risks, illegal abortions remain common.

Misoprostol - a drug used to control ulcers, more usually known by the brand name Cytotec - has become a favoured method for inducing abortion.

The drug costs around $14 U.S. dollars per tablet from a pharmacist and is readily available on the streets of Windhoek. Medical doctors who conduct abortions illegally using the drug charge between 140 and 200 U.S. dollars.

Twenty-two year-old Monisha (not her real name), a student at University of Namibia, decided to have an abortion because her boyfriend is a married man and hence could not marry her.

"My parents would have killed me if they had found out that I was made pregnant by a married man, who can't marry me," she says. "I am also not ready to be a mother, I am still a student."

arvan's picture

Proposed Ugandan Legislation Attacks Sexual Minorities and Their Defenders


IGLHRC expresses grave concern about ongoing detentions in Uganda based on charges of homosexuality, and calls for the dismissal of a bill that would severely curtail the rights of sexual minorities and their defenders.

Since March, a number of alarming instances of anti-LGBT persecution in the East African nation of Uganda have seriously eroded the country's already fragile commitment to tolerance and human rights.  Article 145a of the Penal Code Act of 1950 criminalizes "carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature" – a charge used to prosecute, persecute and blackmail LGBT people with the threat of life imprisonment.  Members of this country's Parliament are now considering an even harsher law in the form of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, introduced last week by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati.

arvan's picture

New Microbicides Tests for Better Protection Against HIV in Rwanda

A new phase of testing of microbicides, a possible new HIV prevention tool for women, gets underway in Rwanda.

The research is being carried out and tests will begin before the end of the year for the gel microbicide. It is done by Project Ubuzima, an international NGO which promotes reproductive health and HIV/AIDS prevention, working closely with the Ministry of Health.

Project Ubuzima's Community Outreach manager, Marie-Michele Umulisa, said, that the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) will consider two types of microbicides: a ring and a gel. The latter, being based on anti-retrovirals (ARVs), holds great promise for protection against HIV infection. "Tests for the Gel will start in November. The research is still going on and is now in its second phase, but we are looking forward to phase three which will examine efficacy," she said.

arvan's picture

Transgenders Get Recognition in Pakistan

By Zofeen T. Ebrahim [SOP Newswire]

Karachi (Women`s Feature Service) - "In their greed to gain our votes the politicians are now willing to listen to our demands," said Sapna, 24, a transgender, dressed in a fitted printed woman`s shalwar kameez (Pakistani dress) with a scarf slung around her neck. Her freshly shaved and slightly made-up face barely hid the telltale stubble.  

Hailing the Pakistan Supreme Court`s (SC) landmark ruling in July, that gives transgenders citizenship rights, Sapna said it was a step long in coming but one that is in the right direction.  

"They are citizens of Pakistan and enjoy the same protection guaranteed under Article Four (rights of individuals to be dealt with in accordance of law) and Article Nine (security of person) of the Constitution," ruled a three-member bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Muhammad Sair Ali and Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja. 

Sapna is happy with the ruling but is under no delusions. She knows all too well that a simple order on the part of the apex court will not make much of a difference to the way people perceive the estimated 80,000 transgenders in Pakistan; that they will continue to remain as misfits in a monochromatic and increasingly intolerant society. This order, incidentally, comes in the wake of another historic ruling from across the border. In June, the Delhi High Court struck down Section 377 of the CrPC, which had criminalised gay relationships in India. 

But for now, nothing can dampen Sapna`s spirit. "We have finally been heard!" she said, excitedly.  

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