Archive for the ‘interview’ Category

Violet Blue interview about porn and mainstream reporting

March 27, 2008

Don’t forget – you can catch Violet Blue and other Best Sex Writing 2008 contributors Amy Andre (“The Study of Sex”), Violet Blue (“Kink.com and Porn Hysteria”), Jen Cross (“Surface Tensions”), Paul Festa (“How Insensitive”), and Melissa Gira (“The Pink Ghetto”) TONIGHT at The Center for Sex and Culture, 1519 Mission Street (between 11th and South Van Ness), San Francisco. Free! Hosted by Carol Queen.

Violet Blue is the best-selling, award-winning author and editor of over a dozen books on sex and sexuality, all currently in print, a number of which have been translated into several languages; she has contributed to a number of nonfiction anthologies. Violet is a sex educator who lectures at UC’s and community teaching institutions, and writes about erotica, pornography, sexual pleasure and health for major publications and blogs. She is a professional sex blogger and femmebot; an author at Metroblogging San Francisco (Metblogs); a correspondent for Geek Entertainment Television; she is on the Gawker payroll as girl friday contibutor and editor at Fleshbot; in January 2007, Violet was named a Forbes Web Celeb 25. She is a San Francisco native and human blog. Violet is the sex columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle with a weekly column titled Open Source Sex, and has a podcast of the same name that frequents iTunes’ top ten.

What prompted your piece “Kink.com and Porn Hysteria: The Lie of Unbiased Reporting?” I know you were reacting to articles about Kink.com specifically, but how long had you been noticing this trend of unbiased reporting?

I write for the SF Chronicle; I’m their sex columnist. and on the same day my column ran “Open Source Sex” I had an interview with sex-positive alt porn director Eon McKai up. it was a great interview that showed the breaking down of porn’s redundant gender and physical stereotypes, the sex-positivity and inclusiveness of modern sex attitudes into the mainstream (which had been going on for a while, I was just drawing attention to the newest wave of it). porn from the POV of the makers, not the critics who don’t know what’s really going on. that week, local BDSM empire (and all-inclusive, sex-positive, politically minded local porn company) Kink.com had purchased the SF Armory for its new studio location. the Chron’s website bumped my column to the bottom of the page and ran a totally anti-porn, completely biased piece about a staged “protest” in front of the Armory — many have said that even the number of protesters stated in the piece was incorrect and more than the few who showed up. the website showed photos of Kink employees who were there to wash the building and called them “protesters” (though later corrected their mistakes).

the piece was so anti-porn, and especially anti-kink, I saw red. especially since Kink is one of the most incredible places to work — they threat their employees better than any company I’ve seen (except for Google), the performers are treated with respect, paid really well, have hair and makeup people and are regarded as Olympic athletes. the cleanliness standards should be envied by every restaurant in San Francisco and copied by every porn company in the world. and the owner’s mission is to demystify kinky sex, normalize it, and make the world a better place for all sexual outsiders for doing do. the Chron’s hit piece disgusted me, the rest of mainstream media predictably followed suit, and I wrote a powerful response.

the reaction at the paper was extreme. let’s just say mainstream media found it a bitter pill to swallow when I criticized their lock-step anti-porn and anti-sex bias within its own pages. it was quite a scandal. but that’s what happens when a paper hires a blogger, you know?

You contrast religious groups’ opposition to porn with the coverage in mainstream papers like The New York Times and your own San Francisco Chronicle. Do you feel the anti-porn groups have been successful in getting their POV into mainstream papers or is it simply lazy reporting?

it’s both; mainstream media still sits behind its cozy little Fourth Estate wall of authority and assumption that everyone agrees sex is bad and wrong; journalists don’t have to bother questioning this point of view, even though the world’s view on sex has changed (and is changing rapidly) around them. MSM needs to get sex positive, because we can only make fun of them for so long…ultimately their attitudes are causing them to miss telling real stories and reporting with accuracy, which I think the corrective nature of the blogosphere will reign in eventually. but not without scandal and humiliation first — on the part of the sex-negative press. sex is normal, and they need to get over thinking people will agree with their assumptions of sexual shame. but I do feel that the anti-porn groups, while way smaller than the millions of people who feel the opposite, have been effective in disrupting accurate reporting about sex and porn. they’re loud, they have government backing, and everyone at Fox wants to keep their jobs; they talk about sex a lot, just as long as it’s bad and wrong, no problem.

Was there or has there been any positive mainstream coverage of Kink.com?

yes: the New York Times piece was a real piece of reporting, and in its unbiased accuracy reflected Kink’s positive impact.

What do you make of the fact that the porn industry seems to be flourishing, and certainly there’s much more porn available in more varied forms, with this continued insistence on including anti-porn viewpoints in major papers?

I think the mainstream porn industry is struggling to keep up with changing technology and how it’s consumed (just like Hollywood), but porn in general — especially homemade — is totally flourishing. people don’t read the papers anymore, or they know they don’t need to; they shop for their news and information now, and I think the democracy of consumption is reflected in people’s refusal to swallow lines about sex and porn being bad, when their individual experiences online are showing them otherwise. sex has become normal and healthy for many people, and they might click on a sex scandal story to see what the sex workers say about their jobs, but most aren’t buying that sex workers are Diane Sawyer’s sad stereotypes. they can go to wakingvixen or $pread and see a bunch of empowered women. people aren’t stupid — or, at least they’re not in the dark for information anymore and know when they’re getting a one-sided view.

Is there anything porn fans/consumers, not to mention creators, can do to make their voices heard? It seems to me that the anti-porn lobby also preys on porn users’ insecurities over porn and sex and assumes that there aren’t people willing to stand up and say that porn is both legal, as you point out, and can be healthy.

blog. vlog. make more media. show that you’re real people. link to people who show sex is good and healthy; don’t link to douchebags.

What are the main ways you think mainstream media gets porn wrong?

MSM needs to erase all their preconceptions about porn and start over again. they’ve been so mired in sensationalism, religious dogma, erroneous studies pushed by fundamentalists and dated stereotypes about exploitation and degradation that they have no idea what’s really going on in the worlds of porn and sex online. who is being exploited by gay porn, by the way? and, with all the baggage MSM brings to ordinary, self-defined sex work and healthy sexual expression, we can’t actually find the real voices of the people who do get exploited and need help. it’s shameful.

Do you think mainstream journalists are anti-porn, or simply want to give the appearance of being so? Is there any advantage to them to not including a fairer portrait of the industry?

the tradition of their jobs force them to posit anti-sex and anti-porn points of view. to do otherwise would cost them their jobs.

What can journalists do to become better versed in porn and provided more accurate coverage? What resources would you recommend journalists covering porn to check out to get a broader view of the topic?

read fleshbot, read my site, read all the sites in Eros Blog‘s sidebar, in thesexcarnival.com‘s sidebar, and the Lusty Lady blog.

What are you working on next?

Best Women’s Erotica 2009, trying to pull a web show together, more GETV (always!), writing about my teen years as a homeless kid on the streets, finding time to cuddle with my cat, sip fine absinthe, good chocolates, and ravage a certain Hacker Boy. oh, and change the cultural conversation about sex.

Interview with Gael Greene

February 4, 2008

Here’s the latest in my interview series of Best Sex Writing 2008 contributors.

Gael Greene wrote “The Insatiable Critic” column for New York magazine for more than thirty years and remains on the staff, writing a weekly “Ask Gael” column. The author of Blue Skies, No Candy, Doctor Love, and other books, she is also cofounder (with James Beard) and board chair of Citymeals-on-Wheels, an organization that delivers 2.2 million meals a year to elderly housebound New Yorkers. She lives in New York City. Visit her at www.insatiable-critic.com.

What prompted you to write your memoir, Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess, and who would you say is your intended audience?

I wanted to tell the story of how New York City and America fell in love with food from my early days as a foodie-ahead-of-the-times, before I forgot it and before people who weren’t there rewrote it. Feeling that the sexual revolution had prepared Americans for the food revolution by seeding sensualism, I wanted to tell that story too. In each decade what was happening culturally, on the streets and in the stock market, affected what we ate.

What has the reaction to the memoir been like? Did you get any flak from people who primarily think of you as a food critic for writing about your personal life?

There were some passionate food lovers who were offended by the erotic memoir. Some of the men in my life were pleased to be left out of the book and a few I neglected to mention were hurt. One wrote asking if we could meet for lunch so he could audition for the second volume.

The excerpt in Best Sex Writing 2008 (“The Prince of Porn and the Junk-Food Queen”) is about your dalliance with porn star Jamie Gillis. Looking back on that time of your life, is there anything you’d do differently? How did it feel to relive that era while writing Insatiable?

It was emotionally draining to remember all the sad times and mad times in the book but what fun to relive the great moments. I could almost taste the astonishment of dinner at Fredy Girardet and memories of incredible times in bed were so vivid.

Since you cover both of them extensively in your memoir, what do you see as the connection between food and sex?

Obviously, two of the greatest sensuous pleasures consenting adults can share. It seems so obvious…we use the same senses in both eating and making love — the eyes, the nose, the ears, the sense of taste. The more in touch one is with one’s sensuality, the more pleasure, and the greatest pleasure is in the moment. The ability to enjoy the moment is a gift.

Has he been in touch with you since Insatiable was published or have you seen him recently?

Jamie Gillis is living with Zarela Martinez, the restaurateur — she met him a few years ago at my birthday. They seem quite together and happy. The four of us had dinner two weeks ago.

What does the word “insatiable” mean to you?

Literally, “insatiable” means not being able to be satisfied. I have never found satisfaction elusive. New York magazine’s creator Clay Felker thought Insatiable Critic was amusing and my then husband did too, so it’s on my New York magazine column and my web site.

For me, too much of a good thing is just barely enough.

You are now writing for your own website, Insatiablecritic.com, in addition to your New York magazine column and other food writing. What’s different about writing on the web vs. print? Has being able to update the site whenever you want changed how quickly you write your reviews?

The big difference is I decide what I want to cover and how long to write. Alas, another difference is I have no determined fact checker on the site as I do at New York, although I do have two editors who read for typos, grammar, spelling. Everything is faster now than it was in 1968 when New York magazine was born and I came on as the critic; nobody waits for a restaurant to settle in. The competition is huge, beyond imagining. Most of my blog postings are about first visits to new restaurants, although some of the stronger pieces are rediscoveries of places and chefs I have admired.

Do you get more feedback from readers from the website vs. your New York magazine column?

The instant feedback of an email to the site is apparently very tempting.

What’s your favorite recent restaurant find?

I loved the food at Dovetail on the Upper West Side. Bar Boulud is a great gift to the Lincoln Center area. Chop Suey in the Renaissance Hotel will be good if it stays consistent. The Smith is better than it needs to be for the NYU students it draws and the amazing low prices.

You did a roundup of 2007’s Best Dishes on your site. In general, do you prefer to revisit old favorites or try new places?

After three or four new places that aren’t wonderful, I desperately need to go back to a restaurant I love.

What can visitors to Insatiablecritic.com look forward to in the near future?

I’ll keep up with what’s new. I hope my readers will feed me more good food world gossip. Every week, we post more vintage articles from the earliest days of New York magazine, not available anywhere else on the web. I think they are fun to read for those of us who were there, and newly obsessed foodies who want to know what it was like.

Interview with Amy Andre about sexuality studies

January 23, 2008

Best Sex Writing 2008 cover

Here’s the latest in my series of interviews with Best Sex Writing 2008 contributors. Click here to read the table of contents and introduction. Amy Andre

Amy Andre has a master’s degree in human sexuality studies from San Francisco State University. She works as a sex educator and writer.

What inspired your article “The Study of Sex?”

I’m actually the guest lecturer I refer to in the essay. I’ve lectured in Dr. Nick Baham’s class a number of times. He’s doing great work, and I wanted to spread the word.

Your essay starts off with a description of a course called African-American Sexuality and goes on to talk about how race is handled in the field of sexuality studies and the lack of people of color in the field. How is race dealt with generally in the sexuality studies classes you’ve taken? What are some of the areas where the intersection of race and sexuality should be explored in academia, in your opinion?

Sexuality and race are two things that infuse every element of people’s lives. So I feel they should be in every area of academia. When I was in grad school, I was lucky enough to have a couple of professors who were very cognizant of their importance. But that was not the case in every class.

That course was actually part of the Ethnic Studies Department. Do you think a course like that also belongs in other departments?

Absolutely. I would love to see it replicated in Ethnic Studies departments across the country; it belongs in Sexuality Studies departments, too. As far as Nick and I know, his is the only course of its kind anywhere in the US, and, in fact, the world.

You quote SFSU Human Sexuality Studies professor Rita Melendez who says that the word sexuality “gets associated with white people,” and that if it’s in the title of a course, people of color tend not to sign up for that. Based on your own experiences and research, why do you think that is, and what can the field of sexuality studies do to be more welcoming to people of color?

She’s right. For example, even though SFSU, where I got my master’s degree, is, like many California universities, a majority minority school (most students are people of color, and mostly Asian American), the students in the Sexuality Studies master’s program are mostly white. When I was a student there, I was one of three students of color in my graduating class, and the only African American. Sexuality scholarship seems to have a reputation as being a white field, and that’s to the detriment of everyone, current scholars as well as potential scholars. Professors who are passionate about diversity should follow the example that Nick and Rita are setting.

Another interesting notion you bring up is a quote from California State University Professor Nick Baham about BDSM being a “political act.” What’s your take on that notion?

I agree. It’s political because engaging in BDSM is so recreational (as opposed to procreational), that it’s really the loudest you can metaphorically scream “I deserve erotic pleasure.” And that’s a political statement.

One of the first comments on the article at Alternet is an objection to its even being posted there on religious grounds, and religion is also something you touch on in the article. Is there a greater degree of tension between traditional religious beliefs and the field of sexuality studies from people of color?

I’m a non-practicing Jew, so I can’t speak from experience here, only from what I’ve read. But I have not read any social science research indicating that people of color are (a.) more religious than white people; (b.) more sex-negative than white people. There’s a stereotype, for example, that African Americans are more homophobic than whites (and that this homophobia is linked to the involvement of African Americans in Christianity). But, in fact, all the research I have read shows that the opposite is true: white people are just as homophobic as blacks, and blacks are just as LGBT-rights-affirming as whites. That’s a social scientific fact.

You have a Master’s degree in Human Sexuality. Was that also what you studied for your undergraduate degree, and what drew you to the field?

I have a BA in psychology. What drew me to sexuality was the just that I love sex. I’m constantly curious about it. I love to read about what other people do and why they do it. Also, I’m bisexual, and I am especially interested in understanding bisexual identity, politics, health, community issues, etc.

What do you see as the future of Sexuality Studies? Where would you like to see it go?

I would like to see sexuality studies focus a lot more on bisexuality. I recently co-authored Bisexual Health, a book published by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, and bisexuals are experiencing a major health crisis. When we look at health status in relation to sexual orientation, people who identify as bisexual (which is, by the way, 50% of all those who identify as either gay, lesbian, or bi) have poorer physical and mental health than people of any other orientation. There’s a lot of work to be done.

What is a typical class you’re taking now like? What do most people in your field want to do after they finish their studies?

Right now, I’m getting an MBA, so a typical class is about finance and math! Coming from the social sciences, and as a writer, I feel very much like a fish out of water. Most people with MBAs go into the corporate world, but I’m planning a career in the nonprofit world, specifically focused on the needs of LGBT people.

In terms of sexuality studies, most of the people I got my first master’s with ended up back in school, working on PhDs, or working as researchers doing sex research at local universities.

You’ve been doing a lot of press around Lisa Diamond’s recent study on women and bisexuality. Can you tell us more about your thoughts on that and the general media treatment of bisexuality? Do you feel the topic is overly sensationalized in mainstream news outlets?

Lisa Diamond’s study shows that, for bisexual women, attraction to people of more than one gender remains consistent over time. Of course, to bi women, this comes as no surprise. I came out as bi when I was 14, which was almost 20 years ago, and I’ve never wavered from that. What she’s proving is that being bi isn’t a phase. The idea that it is a phase – and that phases are bad or wrong or inauthentic – is not only biphobic to me, but also confusing. Why would desire not based on gender be temporary? Why would desire based on gender be the ideal permanent state? I don’t have anything against monosexual (gay and straight) people – in fact, I’m engaged to one – but I do object to a monosexual-centric imperative.

There is definitely a lot of sensationalism happening in the mainstream media. It’s almost as though journalists can’t figure out any other way to present bisexuals.

You directed the short documentary film On My Skin about a transgender man and his family. Can you tell us more about the film and how it came about?

On My Skin is about my friend Logan Gutierrez-Mock. He and I got our sexuality masters degrees together. For fun, after I graduated, I took a free intro-level film class at a local community center. My fiancée, Kami, is a film-maker, and I love visiting her on sets and watching her in action, so I thought it would be cool to learn how to make one. Logan had just come back from Mexico, where his grandfather is from, and he had blogged about his journey. He was also just starting to transition from female-to-male and had a lot to say about his family and his gender. I decided to make a film based on his blog, and six months later, On My Skin was born and showing at film festivals all over the world. It’s even been translated into Spanish for the showings in Latin America and Spain!

What are the differences for you in working in academia and working in film? Do you prefer one over the other?

Other than giving guest lectures on topics like bisexual health, I don’t work in academia. And, other than directing On My Skin, I wouldn’t say I work in film, either!

What are you working on now?

Currently, outside of being a full-time MBA student, I’m writing a book, getting essays published in various places, and promoting Bisexual Health, which is available on the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force website as a free PDF download. And bringing On My Skin (which is available on my site, amyandre.com) to universities; it’s perfect for Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, and Sexuality Studies classrooms. Oh, and I’m also planning my wedding. I stay pretty busy. ;)

Interview with Kevin Keck on the erotic appeal of twins

January 14, 2008

Kevin Keck is the author of Oedipus Wrecked, a collection of essays which features work first published on Nerve.com. He is also the father of three children who should be sufficiently embarrassed later in life by what he writes. Visit him at www.thekeck.com.

What inspired your essay “Double Your Panic?” Did the “Horny Sisters” stay on your mind since high school?

Sadly, my answer is rather banal: money inspired my essay. The editors at Nerve asked me if I had anything they could use for their urban parenting offshoot, Babble.com. I’m always surprised when they ask me to do anything because I’m pretty notorious for being bad with deadlines, especially if it’s something I’ve been “assigned.” But my wife was pregnant with twins at the time, so that was rather serendipitous.

The twins from high school that I wrote about in the essay…strangely, I’ve thought little of them. Writing the piece brought them to mind again.

Why do you think the sexual appeal of twins endures?

I think it’s taboo. It’s not just the taboo of having multiple sexual partners at once, but there is also the implication of incest.

Does this phenomenon only count for identical twins, or fraternal ones as well? Why do you think there’s not quite the same reaction to male twins?

I think the sexualization of twins works best for identical ones, particularly women, since women tend to be the primary sexual objects in our culture. I think male twins are weird, especially if they are identical. I’m not sure why I feel this way. It has something to do with the male ego—it seems too fragile to handle a genetically equal other self.

You openly address the issue of what you’ll do when your now very young daughters start dating: “What I can’t plan for is every football player, every band geek, every long-haired-dope-smoking-slacker (ah, my brothers!) who will be circling my little girls like sexual vultures.” How is this different for you as the father of twins?

Well, I’ll have to get a double barreled shotgun. That’s how such matters are handled in my part of the country. In a way, I’m not kidding about that.

But becoming the father of twin daughters has truly made me believe that the universe is paying attention on some level, and it has a very dark sense of humor. I don’t know what I’m going to do when the time comes to confront the sexuality of my girls. I’ve sort of shot myself in the foot—I happen to write about sex, so there’s no hiding them from it, and as I write primarily about myself they are also going to be aware of me as a sexual creature with a degree of knowledge of that aspect of my life that the majority of people will never have about their own parents. And what complicates things further is that my wife has a rather traditional view of female sexuality. So I suppose they’ll either be the type of girls who just give hugs on the first date, or they’ll be sucking cock to get backstage passes to a rock and roll show. If the latter is the case, I hope they at least turn out to have good taste in music.

How have your feelings on the topic of twins changed since you wrote the essay?

I can’t look at porn with twins in it, that’s for sure. And I’ve tried. In fact, all porn is a little different now that I have daughters, because I realize the women in the films have fathers and I wonder if their fathers know what they’re up to? I don’t mean to suggest I’m judging a woman–or anyone–who performs in adult films; in fact, I rather envy their ability to be free with their bodies. But for the ones who have turned to that industry out of desperation–or because they have “daddy issues”–it just kind of bums me out. And there’s nothing worse than being in the mood to watch porn and suddenly find yourself just wanting to give the actress a hug and ask her of she’s called her dad recently.

You mention the countdown to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s 18th birthday. Which other twins in pop culture have inspired such a frenzy? Who would you say are the sexiest twins you’ve encountered in your life?

There were those twins in Playboy—the Barbi Twins. But as much as I love the literature published in Playboy, I find it has a way of rendering women undesirable. I didn’t used to feel that way, but then again there was no internet when I was an adolescent, so Playboy seemed monumentally sexy. But now with the availability of porn on the internet Playboy has the same feeling as a poster of Betty Grable; it’s nostalgia, a longing that men have for a type of all knowing erotic virgin–it’s the tension between Eros and Thanatos: youth and beauty will prevail in the pages always, warding off that awful specter who comes for us all. I’ve no time for that. I want to watch a 30 second sample clip of a girl dressed as a Catholic schoolgirl blowing six guys posing as prison guards. Thirty seconds is about all I can go before I wonder if the actress has spoken to her father recently.

What kinds of reactions did you receive to the essay? Did you hear from any twins themselves about their take on it?

The only reaction I really remember was from my wife’s stepmother. She liked the essay, but thought it was a little racy. I advised her to never read any of my books. I confine my conversations with her now solely to the topic of Jesus.

What are you working on now?

I’ve been working on another memoir. That’s probably going to be my focus for the next few months, but I also have a novel completed that needs to be revised one more time. I also have three more novels fully outlined, so I’ve got plenty on my plate.

Interview with Jen Cross on gender roles, butch/femme, sexual abuse and writing

January 9, 2008

This is the latest in my Best Sex Writing 2008 contributor interview series. Jen Cross’s essay “Surface Tensions” was originally published in the anthology Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity edited by Mattilda, a.k.a. Matt Bernstein Sycamore and published by Seal Press. There were many Best Sex Writing 2008 contenders in that anthology, and also thought-provoking pieces on race, gender, sexual orientation, and more. I encourage you to check it out; you can read more about it here.

Jen Cross is a smut writer and writing workshop facilitator, and is a co-collaborator in the dyke erotica collective, Dirty Ink. Her writing has appeared in a plethora of anthologies, including, most recently, Nobody Passes, Best Women’s Erotica 2007, Naughty Spanking Stories from A to Z 2, as well as on CleanSheets.com. She’s featured at a number of San Francisco open mics, participated in the smutty part of LitQuake 2006’s LitCrawl, and, because she cannot get enough words, also co-facilitates (with Carol Queen!) a monthly Erotic Reading Circle. As a queer incest survivor, Jen writes to release, transform, and create space for as much unspoken erotic as possible. For more information, visit www.writingourselveswhole.org.

Your essay, “Surface Tensions,” is a very personal, intense one. How long did you work on it and how much revising did you go through?

In some ways, I began working on this piece as soon as I realized I might actually be a “girl,” that the butchness I’d struggled so hard to wear for those 10 years had been just a cover, that the femininity I’d ridiculed and run from was still mine to reckon with. The essay that appears in Nobody Passes, however, received a great deal of kind and truly loving attention from the editor, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, who is able to look at a piece of writing and hold the writer’s vision and voice even as she helps to pull forward a clearer and better articulation and writing. She asked questions that helped me clarify the thing, and made gorgeous suggestions for revisions. I was so honored to work with her, and would love to be as attentive an editor someday.

Were you ever uncertain as to whether to disclose all the information that you did?

The only piece of information in that essay that was difficult for me to reveal is right in the beginning: the sentence about the vague physical similarity between the man my mother married and my butch lover. And yet, it’s true. All the rest is material that I’d put out in my writing or readings, personal and/or public conversations, and so on, for a year or more. I’d wanted to be quite frank and vulnerable in this essay, because I know I’m not the only dyke who’s dealt with this shit, and I wanted others to feel less alone — actually, I wanted to feel less alone. There are so many silences and silencings when it comes to trauma — “don’t talk about it” — and then there’s the revisionist history-making we do about identity: “Whoever you are now is who you have always been” — that just isn’t true.

You talk at the beginning about gender and butch/femme, and say that dressing in men’s clothes and passing made you “delighted.” You write, “I thought I’d accomplished something, had successfully passed as the kind of dyke I so longed to be and thought I was supposed to be.” Why do you think butch/masculine was the only way you thought you could be, and be read, as a dyke, and how has this changed, both culturally, and for you?

Such a great question. The mainstream cultural image/stereotype of lesbian was, when I was growing up, and is, still, I think, the butch, or the masculine(-acting and appearing) woman — the woman who defies gender norms. We’ve so conflated gender nonconformity and queerneess that the little girl who’s a tomboy is the one we peg as a dyke, and not the little girl in dresses playing with dolls, even if she’s making Barbie and Skipper play out some pretty naughty games, right? So that was the sense I had of lesbian (in as much as I had any) growing up — add to that the privileging of masculinity in a sexist, patriarchal culture and a 70s-Sesame Street upbringing that taught me “girls can be just as good as boys!” and, at 20, I was pretty clear that butch queer was the most subversive kind of woman to be and the best, most genuine, real-est kind of dyke to be.

I also thought that butches were pretty fucking hot — and I wanted to be the hot kind of dyke. Who wants to be the “feminine invert,” so pathetically portrayed in those early dyke potboilers and the sexology texts?

Coming out to San Francisco helped change things up for me, and maybe even back East, once I met (and/or recognized) some self-identified femme dykes who weren’t girly because they were interested in passing for straight, but because it turned them on, made them feel stronger and more queer, got them the sex they were interested in. I began, very slowly, to look at my own internalized sexism and the way I had (and sometimes still do) devalued femininity as weaker than and less than. I’ve been privileged to have dear friends who are femmes, who put up with my shit about/against “girls,” who corrected me so gently that sometimes I didn’t even recognize that I was being schooled, and who made a way back to femmeness possible for me. So, while I think that, overall, the butch is still the visible lesbian to the majority of the straight world, as I have begun to develop my femmedar, I have also realized that femmes can be recognizable queers. And, as maybe is quite clear from the essay itself, that particular visibility is a big deal to me.

Is there more space for nuance when it comes to gender roles within the queer community now than theer was when you first came out, or do you think that once you’ve become associated with either butch or femme, people tend to want to continue to see you that way?

I came out in ’92, in the middle of New Hampshire, into a collegiate environment; I didn’t come out into the bars or into working clss community, where butch-femme has strong roots. So my sense of these identities was formulated primarily through reading, as opposed to through community! There was no butch or femme, at least among the folks I consorted with — there was, rather, “out” and “closeted,” I think. And the folks who were “out” were the ones who exhibited more gender nonconormity — be that in physical manner, academic pursuit, athleticism (of course), dress, hairstyle, or, for women, even things like outspokenness. However, most of the women who came out (who I knew, anywyay) went through a period of “masculinization” — cutting hair short, for example. That was the way we were “seen” by our peers.

I have a hard time comparing the community I’m in now to the one I came out into — because the latter was both so isolated and (thus?) so fluid and mixed, gender-wise. I think that my sense, though, is that today there’s more space for nuance around gender, and more space for self-definition. And I think there are some folks who believe that once you choose a “role,” you gotta stick with it. You’re committed. If you move around, if you’re percieved as “kiki,” you’re suspect. And then there are other folks I know who think that the people who pick only one “role” are rigid and old-fashioned: the people as S. Bear Bergman might say, who use butch and femme as nouns, versus the folks who use them as adjectives — and I don’t think that’s changed or *will* change. Those strata in our communities will continue to wrangle with each other.

Your essay mostly focuses on your experience as a sexual abuse survivor. You say that “victims of sexual abuse learn to pass as something–perfectionists, inherently damaged persons, or both. Both draw the attention away from the abuse. Like leeching.” And then go on to talk about wanting to own and be out about being a survivor and be seen as such. What caused this shift in you? Generally, do you think that the wanting to draw attention away from the abuse is so as not to have to relive it, or due to feelings of shame around it, or something else entirely?

This is such a big question! I don’t know if there was a shift regarding wanting to be seen — I *always* wanted to be seen, especially by someone (say, when I was in high school) who could make a difference, make the abuse stop. I wanted someone to see through the facade I had to create at my stepfather’s explicit instruction: “don’t tell your mother” isn’t just about not speaking the words; it’s also about not drawing any untoward attention, about not acting like anything is wrong. So when I finally gathered the strength to risk separating from my family in order to get away from his control, I didn’t want to hide about anything. I wanted to be seen in all the ways he’d required hiding — wanted to be not a good girl, not a polite middle class midwestern girl…

“Wanting to draw attention away from the abuse” — I think while I was living it, it was so he wouldn’t kill me, you know — as much as i wanted someone to make it stop, I also believed that if someone found out and couldn’t stop it, didn’t take enough action but let him know that they knew because of something *I’d* done, if I wasn’t taken away, he’d kill me. So yes, that line is about what happened for me while I was still being victimized, learning to pass in order to protect myself from further trauma — yes out of shame, out of fear. There are all the cultural expectations that accrue to the identity of “incest survivor” that we also have to wrangle with, actively, if we don’t wish to be blindly led by them, as with any identity…

You write near the end, “I am resigned to being read as more normal than I really am.” Can you elaborate on this statement? Are here ever times when this is a relief for you?

It’s not a relief for me. I hate feeling hidden, like I’m passing. I continue to feel loss around not being recognized as queer “family” by other dykes, now that my surface gender appears to be more congruent with my apparent sex. I still miss that visibility. I was never bashed as a butch, so I didn’t have the relief of just getting to walk down the street without being harassed. I deal with more harassment now because I appear to be a straight woman, from straight men. It would be a relief to have a break from that again.

That line was, I think, an attempt to let go of the need to be recognized by other queers, just anywhere out in the world; the desire, and my frustration at its not being met, over and over, strangles me and takes up too much of my attention. I do have to practice this letting go, have to repeatedly re-resign.

“Surface Tensions” was published in an anthology called Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity, edited by Mattilda, a.ka. Matt Bernstein Sycamore. How do you see the issues you address connecting to the overall theme of the book? Do you feel like you’re talking more about rejecting the “norms” of the lesbian community, especially in terms of butch/femme, versus rejecting the norms of the straight world?

Yep, I do. I think the aim of the book originally was to call attention to the ways in which we’re all passing, all the time, the ways in which every community — even and especially those “alternative” or non-mainstream or non-conformist communities — have their rules and norms and guidelines for appearance and behavior and language and so on. So, in this essay, I was absolutely wrangling with my perception of community expectations within various queer women’s and communities and, of course, also those internalized expectations that had gotten established in my own head!

What kinds of reactions have you gotten to the essay?

When I have read from the piece, reactions are positive — sometimes even grateful that some of the issues are being articulated, you know?

Someone at a reading asked me about disclosing all the info about sexual abuse; maybe s/he wanted also to write so explicitly; I think s/he also asked how my family felt about it. I have been processing/dealing with my experiences for 15 years or so, and writing’s been how I process best — I have been writing parts of this essay for many years. I am not in a place right now (for better or for worse) that my family’s potential reactions to something I’m writing stifle much of what I want to say; similarly, I still feel like kind of a newcomer and/or an outsider in/to the femme-butch community/-ies — so I also don’t feel constrained by what folks in these communities might struggle with or dislike in the piece.

Reading the piece now, how do you feel about it?

Of course, there’s more I’d like to say about every fragment — I think the piece could expand out into a book that way, though!

What are you working on now?

Trying to make rent — isn’t that always the case? :) I have a couple of collections I’m shopping around (Bedrock: stone smut and Viscosity: incested erotics), and weekly erotic and survivors’ writing workshops which will meeting begin again next week (www.writingourselveswhole.org). I’m preparing for a femme porn tour in the spring (Body Heat — for more information, check out

Interview with Greta Christina about hiring a professional submissive

December 13, 2007

Greta Christina‘s wonderful essay “Buying Obedience: My Visit to a Pro Submissive,” originally published in Other magazine, closes out Best Sex Writing 2008. Here I interview about her experience hiring a pro sub, writing about it, and how that affected her sex life and fantasies subsequently.

Greta Christina has been writing professionally since 1989. She is currently editing the annual Best Erotic Comics series, the first volume of which comes out shortly. She is editor of the anthology Paying For It: A Guide by Sex Workers for Their Clients, and author of the erotic novella Bending, which appeared in the three-novella collection Three Kinds of Asking For It edited by Susie Bright. Her writing has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and anthologies, including Ms., Penthouse, the Skeptical Inquirer, and two volumes of the Best American Erotica series. She blogs at http://gretachristina.typepad.com/

When you visited the professional submissive, was it with the purpose of writing about it, or did that come later? How long afterwards did you write
the essay and did your thoughts about the experience change as you wrote it?

I definitely visited Rachel with the intention of writing about it. It’s how I justified the expense to myself, actually. I’m a freelance writer, I’m not exactly raking in the big bucks, and I’m not generally in a position to drop $300 on a one-hour luxury splurge. But as a professional expense…that’s a different story.

I started writing about it almost immediately afterwards. In fact, much of the essay talks about my planning and thought processes before visiting Rachel — and I started writing that before I even saw her.

Writing about the experience didn’t change my thoughts about it, exactly. But it did clarify them. And more importantly, I’m not sure I would have had the experience at all if I hadn’t planned to write about it. I don’t think I could have justified the expense; but I also don’t know if I would have had the nerve to go through with it. If it had just been for my own pleasure and curiosity, I might have chickened out.

You write, “Touching the naked skin of someone whom I’d paid for the pleasure, squeezing her flesh while my clit throbbed and then squeezing it harder to make my clit throb again…that is what made me feel like I’d done something I couldn’t take back, become somebody I couldn’t change. It was unnerving — but it was also exciting, in the way that adventure is always exciting.” Why do you think it was this act of touching her, versus booking the appointment and going there, that was so powerful?

Touching her was the moment I became a person who had paid for sex.

That’s a big taboo. That’s a big cherry to pop. Until I actually touched her, I could have backed out, said, “Forget it, I changed my mind, keep the $300″… and still thought of myself as a person who had never paid for sex. Touching her was the moment that, in my mind, I became a sex work customer.

You write that “being sexually selfish turned out to be much harder than I’d anticipated.” I know you talk about it in the essay, but can you explain a bit about why that is? Do you think it’s easier for men vs. women to be “sexually selfish” (whether in a paid setting or not)?

Whether it’s by my nature or my nurture or both, I’m a person who is very concerned about other people and my affect on them. The positive side of that is that I’m compassionate and ethical and socially responsible; the down side is that I can be very anxious and self-conscious about whether people like me, to the point where it’s hard to just relax and be myself.

And sexually, a lot of what I get off on is my partner’s pleasure. So even though I was paying Rachel, in part, so I could just do what I wanted (within her limits, of course) and not worry about what she was getting out of it, paradoxically a lot of what I selfishly wanted was her pleasure.

I don’t know if it’s easier for men to be sexually selfish. I know that’s
the stereotype…but I don’t know if it’s really true. I do know that sex work customers are overwhelmingly male, so maybe that’s an argument for men being more sexually selfish, more willing to have sex with someone who’s primarily getting money out of it and not necessarily sexual pleasure.

But on the other hand, it’s very common for sex work customers to become very attached to their sex workers. Many customers want their workers to think of them as special, and many even fall in love with them. And almost any sex worker will tell you that a lot of what they give their customers — whether honestly or faked — is affection and reassurance. “I really like you, I really like doing it with you, you’re my favorite customer,” etc. Even the most jaded sex workers fake pleasure and orgasm as part of their job. None of that would be true if men were completely selfish.

You write in the essay about worrying about whether Rachel’s (the pro sub) reactions are real or faked, but then say that you’re not sure you’d ever spanked someone as hard as you’d wanted before. Was there a point where you stopped worrying about what her “real” feelings were and simply trusted her (and yourself), or was this thought still in the back of your mind?

I’m a good, safe top — and I think if you’re a good, safe top, the bottom’s feelings are always in the back of your mind. So it’s not like I let go of any concern I had for her and just became vicious.

I think what happened was this: When I’m spanking a lover or a fuckbuddy,
I don’t just care about whether I’m spanking them harder than they can take. I care about whether I’m spanking them harder than they like. (This is actually one of my weaknesses as a top: I tend to pull my punches, it’s hard for me to push people to take more than they think they really want. See above re: wanting people to like me.)

When I was spanking Rachel, it finally occurred to me that it was okay for me to spank her harder than she might have actually liked or gotten off on…as long as I respected her limits and stopped if she safeworded. That’s what I was paying for. Because she was a pro, I knew that (a) she’d have no hesitation about stopping me if she had to, and (b) she’d almost certainly taken harder spankings than I was giving her. I think I just decided to trust her professionalism.

You say that “[n]one of this weirdness or anxiety had anything to do with Rachel. Rachel was great. She knew her stuff, and she responded beautifully to my orders, and she was lovely to look at and luscious to fondle and spank.” Based on your experience as a client, what qualities would you say make for a good professional submissive?

She was very clear about her limits. In our negotiations ahead of time, she was very clear about what was and wasn’t okay. And because she was so upfront about what was off-limits, that made me feel more confident and safe about doing the things she’d said were okay. That was important — probably more important than anything else.

She was very obedient. She did what I asked her, without hesitation. That was what I wanted; I’m not into brattiness or disobedience. I get off on the feeling of power I get from telling someone to do something — something sexual — and having them do it. That’s what I was paying for, why I hired a submissive instead of another kind of sex worker: the feeling of pulling the strings. And she did it beautifully.

She was very responsive. Especially when she was getting spanked. It’s certainly possible that she was faking it, of course. But when we were negotiating, she made a point of saying — several times over — that it was okay to spank her. She talked about spanking a lot. I don’t think she was faking how much she liked it. And regardless of whether she was getting off on any particular thing I was doing, it seemed as if submission in general was a genuine pleasure for her. I think that’s a big difference between pro subs and other kinds of sex workers; very few people go into submission professionally if they aren’t into it personally. In any case, if she was faking, she did a bang-up job.

And she was hot. She was pretty, and she had a nice body — voluptuous, not too skinny, very much my type — and a nice ass, round and fun to spank. That sounds shallow, I know. But physical chemistry is important, especially when you don’t have time to get to know someone.

What kinds of reactions did you get to the piece? Did they differ markedly amongst sex workers and non-sex workers?

I can’t really answer this question. The piece didn’t get very wide circulation, and I didn’t get any response to it at all. It’ll probably get more widely read in this book than in the original magazine.

How do you feel about the essay when you reread it now? Have you gone for any more pro sub sessions?

I love the essay. I think it’s one of the better and more interesting things I’ve written, and it’s on a topic that doesn’t get much attention. A lot has been written about sex work, but very little has been written from the customer’s point of view. And very little has been written about pro submission.

Plus I think the essay is just hot. Re-reading it now reminds me of what a strange experience this was…but also of how erotic it was.

I haven’t gone back for more pro sub sessions. But the only reason for that is money. If I could afford it, I’d definitely do it again. Especially because so much of that first time was about it being the first time: getting over my nerves, figuring out the lay of the land, etc. I’d love to go back and have the experience just for the experience, without all the first-time jitters.

And I’d love to try other kinds of sex workers, too. I’ve been feeling very bottomy lately, and I’m curious about what hiring a pro dominant would be like. I’m sure there would be a whole other set of interesting, weird paradoxes. How do you feel subservient and helpless when you’re paying someone to make you feel that way? I’d love to find out.

You start off the essay talking about how you’ve fantasized about visiting a professional submissive, and end it by saying you still fantasize about it. How did the reality differ from your previous fantasies, and why do you think you had/have such intense fantasies about this, as opposed to topping someone where money isn’t involved?

The reality differed from my fantasies in the same way SM reality always
differs from my SM fantasies. In my SM fantasies — my toppy ones, anyway
— I’m cruel, I’m selfish, I take pleasure in another person’s suffering, I have power over another person which I unscrupulously abuse, etc. In reality, I’m a nice, thoughtful person who cares about other people. So the reality of SM play isn’t that I get to be the cruel, selfish, power-hungry control freak. The reality is that I’m the nice, thoughtful person, letting my inner sadistic control freak out to play for a while — on a very short leash.

And that was true with Rachel as much as with anyone else. The only difference was in my expectations. Before the session, I’d somehow imagined that, because I was paying for it, I’d feel more comfortable letting my inner selfish sadist out on a longer leash. That was somewhat true…but it wasn’t nearly as true as I’d thought it would be.

Why do I have intense fantasies about paying for submission? I think it does have to do with the fantasy of getting to be selfish, getting to pull the strings and have my way. It feeds into my “molesting the servant girl” fantasies very nicely.

More realistically, it’s a way to make the scene be about what I want, about my fantasies and desires — not the overlap between my fantasies and another person’s. It’s like therapy. When I’m in therapy, I’m paying, at least partly, so I don’t have to stop and ask, “So enough about me – how are you doing?” That’s a big part of what makes paying for sex appealing: as long as I respect the worker’s limits, I can make the session be about what I want. I know now that that’s less true — and more complicated — than I’d originally imagined…but there’s still a truth to it, and
there’s still an appeal.

Of course I also love to play in the overlapping areas between my fantasies and another person’s. That’s what I like to do most of the time, in fact — just like most of the time I like to have back-and-forth conversations that aren’t only about me. And I do have fantasies about topping people without paying them. It’s not like this is my one obsession. It’s just one thread in a whole perverted tapestry.

Did the experience of visiting a professional submissive affect the rest of your sex life in any way?

Not really. It changed my fantasy life a little — my fantasies of hiring a pro sub are more based in reality now, they’re more an imagining of what the experience might really be like instead of a pure fantastical fantasy. But it didn’t really affect my real-life sex life.

What are you working on now?

My new anthology, Best Erotic Comics 2008, is about to be published — it should hit the stores in January. I’m extremely excited about it; we just got the advance copies, and it came out beautifully. It’s exactly what I’d imagined and hoped for: it’s artistically solid, wildly varied, and very, very dirty indeed.

And I’m blogging up a storm. I do a lot of sex blogging, but I’ve also gotten deeply involved in the atheist blogosphere, and am focusing a huge amount of my time and energy on that. My blog where I’m doing some of my best writing, I think. http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ – Come check it out!

Best Sex Writing 2008 contributor interview: Lux Nightmare and Melissa Gira

December 7, 2007

This is part 1 of a series of interviews I’m conducting with contributors to Best Sex Writing 2008 about their pieces in the book and their work generally. Consider them and this blog a companion to the book itself. Lux Nightmare and Melissa Gira wrote about “The Pink Ghetto” in a series of posts at Sexerati, which I reprinted as one piece in the book. The bios below are from the book.

Lux Nightmare has been obsessed with the Internet since 1994, obsessed with computers since 1987, and obsessed with sex since 1982. Career highlights include founding and running That Strange Girl (the first altporn site to feature both male and female models), interning at Nerve (back when it was cool), and keeping the masses educated about sex since 1997. She is the former Features Eeditor for Sexerati.com, a blog about sex, culture, and everything in between, and is working on a book about her years in the altporn scene.

Lux Nightmare

Lux Nightmare

What was the genesis for your piece on the Pink Ghetto?

I’ve been working in sex, in one way or another, for over ten years now, so I’ve had a lot of experience with the pink ghetto⎯and, more specifically, with the difficulty of promoting work (even intelligent, academic work) that might fall under the label of NSFW. I finally got so frustrated with the entire state of affairs, with being told that my work wasn’t “appropriate” because it dealt honestly with sexuality, that I had to put a name to my frustrations. Hence the Pink Ghetto.

What kind of reaction did you receive to it, both from others in the pink ghetto and those outside of it?

I think the most vocal reactions have come from people who’ve found themselves ghettoized for their interest in, or work around, sex–and those reactions have all been positive, thanking me for putting a name to this phenomenon. People outside of it have also reacted in a positive manner–for many, I think it was the first time they’d really even taken time to think critically about the way sex-related material and work is ghettoized.

How have your thoughts about the topic changed since you wrote the piece?

Yes and no. Though I’m still convinced that there’s a lot of stigma attached to sex-related work, I’m starting to feel more hopeful about the possibilities for breaking down the barriers and removing the stigma. These days, I’m more of the opinion that if you present sex-related–even sexually explicit–material in a very straightforward, noncontroversial manner, you can usually get people to accept it as noncontroversial material.

Lux, at the end, you talk about some of the pros of the pink ghetto and the opportunities you’ve been given within it. Do you think the pink ghetto shouldn’t exist at all (even though clearly it now does)? What would your ideal pink ghetto look like?

The nice thing about being discriminated against is that if you’re able to overcome that discrimination, you’re pretty much automatically in a place of power. The bad thing about being discriminated against is that it makes everything that you do that much harder.

I recognize that I’ve gained a lot from my choice to work in a stigmatized field⎯but it’s also cost me a lot as well. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think anyone benefits from stigma. There is no “ideal” pink ghetto: I’d much rather see the pink ghetto completely dismantled. We’d benefit far more from living in a society where sex and sexuality are not taboo topics, where we can speak freely about these subjects without fearing for our reputations.

What are you working on now?

I spend a lot of time working on Boinkology, my blog/podcast about sex and culture, and educating the masses about sex any way that I can.

Melissa Gira (melissagira.com) is a blogger, writer, editor of Sexerati: Smart Sex. (sexerati.com), and a contributor to $pread magazine and the blogs BoundNotGagged, Gridskipper. An international sex worker rights’ advocate, mobile media maker, and shameless sex futurist, she fully unpacked three times in the last year and prefers to work out of her purse-sized office: cell phone, wireless keyboard, and dv camera, wherever a cheap GPRS signal and fancy lipgloss can take her.

Melissa Gira

What was the genesis for your piece on the Pink Ghetto?

Sex blogging has been a decently fertile ground for some smart new sex thinking, and at Sexerati, I’m always pushing for more. I approach the sexblogosphere as a community for generating dynamic and collaborative sexual theory & of course, practice–though the practice is what gets a disproportionate amount of the attention. There’s nothing wrong with writing about fucking, with foregrounding your sex life in your sex writing, but to do so means that as a writer, you are not choosing sides–writer vs. subject, expert vs. participant–and this still requires taking a risk: that you might be minimized for doing what we new media types are supposed to value, stating our biases and situating ourselves in our work. When it comes to sex, that means risking being a slut, and I say, it’s the only ethical to do, to own that, to challenge that. My hope is that we can be so brazen about it that it becomes utterly uncontroversial.

What kind of reaction did you receive to it, both from others in the pink ghetto and those outside of it?

I’m just glad for Technorati, so we could track who was calling back out to the essay series. It resonated far outside the sexblogosphere, which to me means it actually succeeded in reaching its intended audience.

How have your thoughts about the topic changed since you wrote the piece?

Death to the Pink Ghetto, and Long Live the Pink Ghetto. Writing on the so-called sex ghett–which, even at the time, I knew was a deeply racialized and loaded choice of frame–drew out other sex professionals, put us into conversation around why we think what we do is important, and offered opportunity for us to consider the rules of working in sex. Will we use the ghettoization of what we do to support one another, as outsiders unified, or will we play that stigma as a way to gain respect from those “outside” sex? The ways that those at the margins regulate their own success by imposing an internal hierarchy of stigma back on one another fascinates me, and saddens me. Addressing this internal stigma forms the next prong of the dismantling the “pink ghetto” altogether. So long as we regard our work as outside the scope of “normal” journalistic investigation or normal human curiosity, well, we do it to ourselves.

Melissa, you wrote, “What is so less noble about thinking sex rather than money, rather than politics, religion, or art? Sex being so fully embedded in the human experience, I want to put out there that there really is no way to engage the culture on ‘what really matters’ without looking at sexuality.” I confront this all the time, too. Why do you think sex, as democratic and accessible a topic as it should be, is so threatening to so many people?

I used to think this was because sex had somehow been made occult, that real sex education was hard to come by, that sex media wasn’t reflective of most people’s sexual desires, and it was that lack of credible information that perpetuated a fear of sex, both for “consumers” and to scare off those who might want to start doing one better and make their own sex ed & media. After over ten years now of working in sex online, I have to double back on that assumption, one that still reigns. We have no lack of cultural conversation ongoing about sex, but it’s one that outright alienates many people from their sexuality. The supposedly positive “answers to sex” that are proposed–to buy more sex toys, sex manuals, sex recreation–presume that sex is a problem to be solved, and who wants to believe that, really? Deep down, no one wants to told they are damaged and need fixing, ignorant and need educating.

What our sex positive forebears were pushing for, in their innovating sex stores, sex publishing, and sex culture, was not a consumer-based “answer” to a problem. The sex-positive paradigm shift they were pushing for, and that we’re facing backlash for now, never arrived fully enough to hate on as much as we, the next generation, are being asked to. We as sex professionals could change this sex alienation fundamentally if we could just drop this “sexpert” thing–it might be a great tool with which to sell books, but it’s not doing much to help folks find sexual self-reliance in the longterm. The “answer” to sex isn’t in a book, much as it pains me as a writer to say this; it’s in sex itself.

What are you working on now?

I’m doing a fair amount of traveling and community education around blogging & social media as tools for advocacy and social change. In two days I’ll be Malaysia for an international gathering of sex worker activists, in January I’ll be presenting at sex::tech in San Francisco and the Spring brings me to Atlanta for Sex 2.0, and summer to the Desiree Alliance’s conference in Chicago. You can always catch up with me at melissagira.com.

Read their piece and more (see below for table of contents) in Best Sex Writing 2008.


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