The following quotation is from an essay that doesn’t just tear apart some awful BDSM stereotypes, but also makes a great case for coming together as a community and living our lives without shame … all in the context of parenting. It’s called “S/M Fetish People Who Choose To Parent”, and was printed in the anthology Speaking Sex To Power by one of my all-time heroes: the brilliant and inimitable Patrick Califia.
The state does seem to have a vested interest in preventing anyone who is sexually different from raising a child. Over the years, I’ve heard many stories of custody battles involving polyamorous people, pagans, transsexuals, sex workers, and members of the BDSM-fetish community, not just lesbians and gay men. The people who go through these battles usually do it alone, and they usually lose. But that story can change when there is enough publicity to generate community support.
In early 1995, members of the BDSM-fetish community in the US and Canada were appalled to learn that a couple in the scene had had their children taken away. The Canadian fetish magazine “Boudoir Noir” established a defense fund for the unlucky pair, known as the Houghtons. As we had for the Spanner defendants, the community banded together and raised enough money to allow Steve and Selina Houghton to hire a decent defense attorney. Selina ultimately pled guilty to a disorderly conduct charge, and her husband to one count of endangering the welfare of a minor, a Class E misdemeanor. They were also ordered to continue to receive family counseling …. Although they did not receive jail sentences, their privacy and home life had been badly damaged by the intrusive actions of the police. When the Houghtons got their kids back, they moved suddenly, disappearing from the scene, probably to protect themselves from further persecution.
I hate to post two press releases in a row, but I’ve been very caught up in some Chicago community issues lately, so I haven’t had time to write anything more personal. I’ll bore you all with details about my life soon, I promise! In the meantime, please feel free to repost this …
pro-sex, pro-queer, pro-kink
Clarisse Thorn :: clarisse.thorn at gmail dot com
+ Q. “What is being sex-positive?”
+ A. “Defining sex on my terms.”
+ A. “Understanding my sexual needs.”
+ A. “Being in charge of my sexual experiences.”
The Sex+++ Documentary Film Series is now entering its third year. We want to make it bigger and better than ever — and take it in new directions! We’re still discussing next year’s film line-up, and we’ve got a lot of ideas, but we also want to throw open the floor. We’re looking for suggestions and submissions: documentaries that are pro-sex, pro-queer, and pro-kink.
In 2011, Sex+++ will focus on several themes. We’re still discussing these themes, and they are subject to change as we research documentaries and develop the program, but here’s what we’ve thought of so far. We’re open to hearing more about any and all sex-positive documentaries — but in particular, if you’ve encountered documentaries that fit within these themes, please let us know!
+ THEME: Sex Everywhere
We want to explore how sexuality, sexual culture, sexual identity, and sexual pleasure are recorded, experienced, and understood outside the USA.
+ THEME: Love And Sex
We want to explore the many ways sex happens within romance, dating, relationships, marriage, and love.
+ THEME: Sexual History
We want to explore the history of sexuality, sexual culture, sexual identity, and sexual pleasure; we want to learn about sex-positive heroes.
+ THEME: Talking Sex
We want to explore how people talk about sex, sexual pleasure, and consent.
+ THEME: Activist Sex
We want to explore sex-related activism and how sex-positivity intersects with other social issues such as class, race, labor, health, justice and the environment.
Sex+++ will continue at its current amazing venue, Chicago’s own Jane Addams Hull-House Museum. Click here to learn what’s up with Sex+++ right now. And again — if you’ve got any documentaries to recommend, please get in touch! The primary contact for Sex+++ is Clarisse Thorn, who can be reached at clarisse.thorn at gmail dot com.
Now that I’m back in Chicago, I’ll be helping out at the friendly neighborhood museum again! Here’s one of the projects I’ll be handling. Please feel free to repost this!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
The Leather Archives & Museum is seeking to compile resources about fetishes that we don’t usually hear about. We hope to expand our collections to cover a wider range of alternative sexualities.
We are interested in anything that has to do with unusual fetishes — objects, stories, pornography, erotica, websites, conversations — really, anything! Fetishes we don’t have much experience with include feet, fursuits, amputations, robots, dolls, balloons, tentacles, sneezing, crushing objects — but there are simply too many fetishes in the world for a comprehensive list.
We at the Leather Archives & Museum have plenty of experience with coming to terms with unusual sexual desires. Our goal is not to exoticize alternative sexuality, nor do we intend to shame anyone who discusses alternative sexuality with us. Our goal is to preserve the history of alternative sexuality — all alternative sexuality.
We respect your privacy. Anything you send us or tell us can be kept under your real name or a pseudonym, as you prefer.
The point person for this project is Clarisse Thorn, who can be reached by email at [ clarisse at leatherarchives dot org ]. You can also leave her a voice message if you call the Leather Archives at 773.761.9200.
ABOUT THE LA&M: The Leather Archives & Museum is devoted to preserving the history of alternative sexuality. By sharing your experience with the Leather Archives & Museum, you will be helping us document sexual practices that are not widely recorded or understood. The Leather Archives & Museum is located at 6418 N. Greenview Avenue in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, IL, USA; you can visit the website at www.leatherarchives.org.
I love stumbling across alternative-sexuality history lessons. I love it because we're absent from most history accounts, due both to censorship and to our predecessors' desire for their own privacy. And then sexually liberated people and conservative reactionaries end up with the same misguided belief that rampant, shameless sexuality is something Westerners invented in the 1960's.
So I highly recommend Tony Perrottet's recent article for Slate.com, "Hellfire Holidays," about the sex clubs of 18th-century Britain. As Perrottet reports,
"Sadly, during the prudish Victorian era, most references to these naughty clubs were scotched from the historical record. Horrified relatives burned embarrassing documents and club regalia. But their subversive antics survived in pornographic novels, travel guides to risqué tourist sites, and, of course, popular memory."
When most people first fall into an alternate-sex community, it does feel exotic and revolutionary. But seriously, the novelty and "naughtiness" wear off after a couple years. Despite getting off on exoticism, and despite mainstream shock, we the currently living haven't invented anything new. We have antecedents' example to follow and adapt; we simply have to study history that didn't make it to our textbooks.
For all the increasing mainstream news coverage of polyamory, most articles still take the perspective of "exposing" something very new and innovative. Which I understand, because most people haven't heard of us. I've had a lot of positive coming-out experiences to a lot of open-minded people, but I've never come to out to anyone outside the BDSM Scene without having to explain what "polyamory" actually means. Certainly the campaign for visibility is a relatively recent phenomenon. The word was only coined in 1990, and The Ethical Slut only published in 1997. Before that, the terms "polygamy" oddly classified us with authoritative patriarchies (like Mormons), or phrases like "open relationship" inappropriately trivialized our "secondary" partners. Even "open relationships" get sensationalized as a modern phenomenon; a recent CNN article claims, "The 1970s introduced the concept of 'open marriage.'" (Emphasis mine.)
CARACAS, Sep 8 (IPS) - Juana Azurduy or Manuela Sáenz, Bartolina Sisa or Gertrudis Bocanegra, Luisa Cáceres or Policarpa Salavarrieta - these heroines attest to the participation of women in the struggle for Latin America’s independence from Spain, a revolutionary movement that began two centuries ago this year.
But at the same time, their celebration embodies the shroud that political and historical accounts have thrown over the countless unnamed women who fought or suffered in the quarter-century long process spanning from 1809 to 1824, like in so many other periods of history.
On Jul. 14, Argentine president Cristina Fernández granted Lieutenant Colonel Juana Azurduy (1780-1862) a posthumous promotion to the rank of general. Azurduy lost five of her six children while she fought for the independence of Upper Peru, present-day Bolivia, which at the end of the colonial period was part of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata and under the direction of Buenos Aires.
Two years earlier, Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa had also granted a posthumous promotion to general to another revolutionary woman, Manuela Sáenz (1797-1856), who is known in history as the "immortal love" of Simón Bolívar (1783-1830) and who held the rank of colonel in the liberation army.
Correa’s promotion was granted as part of the commemoration of the anniversary of the 1822 Battle of Pichincha, in which the Quito-born heroine fought.
"That’s not history, it’s politics," Inés Quintero, assistant director of the Venezuelan Academy of History, told IPS. "The role of women in the movement for independence is not vindicated by granting a title to an individual woman. That makes no sense, because history is not about settling scores," she argued.
Instead, the researcher said, "as women’s issues pay off in terms of the visibility that women are demanding, there are certain icons - these heroines - that are incorporated as part of the rhetoric, to give the impression that something is being done about the situation of women."