Sunday, April 30, 2017

Jason Armstrong: Interview with a Masturbator


I don’t remember the first time I heard about Jason Armstrong.  Looking through Amazon for books about sex, as I am wont to do, I kept stumbling across a title that piqued my attention every time:

Solosexual:  Portrait of a Masturbator

As it happens, I have followed the website BateWorld since its beginnings, and even wrote about solosexuality years ago during one frightful Masturbatory May.  So when I saw Solosexual being advertised on BateWorld’s website I knew I had to have it.

Solosexual is the memoir of one gay man’s journey into self-discovery, though it touches on a much larger, cultural nerve.  Body image, religion, gender, and mental illness are only a few of the themes that resonate throughout the book.  I began taking notes. 

About this time, I read about Armstrong’s various stints on XTube.  The screen name looked familiar, and not just because I’m a porn junkie.  I recognized it from BateWorld!  As it turns out Jason Armstrong and I happen to be friends on this particular medium, so I reached out to him with my hat in my hand to ask if this lowly blogger might interview him and, to my pleasant surprise, he said yes!

So without further ado…       

Jason Armstrong is a writer and blogger whose book Solosexual:Portrait of a Masturbator has been sold worldwide.  His blog Hunting for Sex: Cautionary Tales from the Quest  was voted one of Kinkly’s best sex blogs of 2013.  His essay titled “Disability and Sex” was included in Cleis Press’s Best Sex Writing of the Year Vol. 1.  And to kick off Masturbation Month, he is here to talk about self-sex.     

What is solosexuality to you?  Can you define it for my readers?

A solosexual, in its simplest definition, is one for whom masturbation is his or her favorite form of sexual outlet rather than partnered, penetrative sex.

Do you date, or are you yourself your own lover?  Not that staying single is a negative thing.  Many folks are choosing to stay single longer, and I've often said people could benefit from a little more self-love.

Nobody quite gets me off like I do!  That said, from time to time, I love to share the experience of masturbation with others – the communal energy found with another bator (masturbator) or a roomful of bators can be explosive.  However, I don’t date per se:  I’m not looking for a partner.  Rather, every day, I partner with myself for a sexual trip to the moon and back with my best buddy, my cock.  All that said, I love men, I love sharing this exploration of self-love with others, in order for us to connect in a brotherhood and mirror each others’ passion.

I enjoy the inclusive vibe of your book, especially how we don't see on Bateworld, as you write, the haughty "no fats or fems" culture often seen on other hook up sites. You say that a straight identified man can engage in masturbation with a gay or bi guy. Yet I have heard straight men talk about their reluctance to go to jack off clubs like New York Jacks because of a fear their identity and boundaries won't be respected. Can you speak to that?

I think that regardless of sexual orientation, we all worry to a point that our boundaries and identities will be infringed upon in group situations.  But with jack off clubs, there is an unspoken rule that masturbation is as far as it goes.  Because a masturbator isn’t trying to get into your pants, but rather encouraging you to get into your own pants, I have found that in a group bate situation that a camaraderie develops that is not competitive but supportive, and yes, inclusive.

Let’s talk about gooning - or more to the point "mutual gooning."  In your book you write about the sociality of masturbation but seem to struggle with the same concept when it comes to gooning. Could this be because gooning - so often a solo act in which the bater delves into the batehole of his own mind - is pulled back to reality so to speak when with another person?

Gooning is that point in the bate sesh (masturbation session – as you can see, bators have their own lingo!) when you lose nearly all control and give in to the intense, overwhelming sensations of your body, of your penis, until you reach a point that is ecstatic. When I reach this state I feel like I am one big sexual organ.  It’s like falling into a state of worship – worship of my maleness, my body, my sexuality.  As I share in the book, “mutual gooning is something of a paradox.  Gooning is achieved through hours of porn and masturbation, an act that is almost by definition solitary.  It is the domain of the solosexual.  To share that experience with another seems almost a contradiction in terms.  Almost a contradiction in terms, but not quite. The heightened masturbatory experiences that men have achieved as solosexuals are largely possible because of the strange combination of privacy and sociality that the Internet permits.  It is hard to imagine men masturbating daily for three, four or five hours at a stretch without online porn, cam and chat to fuel their descent into the batehole.  Solosexuals rely on online sociality to enrich their self-pleasure, which is to say that in some way, the solosexual’s act of solitary self-pleasure is always already sociable.  And because solosexuality is sociable even as it is solitary, it is possible to achieve and to share something like mutual gooning: a fully self-absorbed uninhibited bate state in the presence of another in the same state.” 

Masturbation these days is not quite the lonely, solitary experience that it might have been pre-Internet.

I like your concept of wearing masks because so much of our lives are performative. Whether it be in our relationships to each other, our work-self, or sex, we perform a role that we often struggle to fit into these socially acceptable binaries.  I've written a lot about fetishes, and how often they sit to collect dust in some corner of our minds.  And often, people don't have the tools and/or language to verbalize their desires, which can make navigating them difficult. Do you think there is a way to slip off these masks, whether publically or privately?  And if so what benefits or hurdles might that entail?

I love how you mention that we often don’t have the tools or the language to verbalize our desires.  Without language for our desires, we cannot know ourselves.  As smart a person as I like to think I am, I did not truly understand that masturbation could be celebrated as the best sex of my life until I discovered the website BateWorld.com.  This site is an emporium of all things to do with male masturbation.  Before stumbling upon the site, while I knew I loved to masturbate, I searched for partnered, penetrative sex constantly and then fretted over why it didn’t seem to fulfill me like masturbation did.  When I learned that a solosexual was simply one for whom masturbation was their favoured form of sexual outlet, a light bulb turned on and I could name my sexual nature.  When I’m bating, I’m not performing:  It’s my authentic self coming out.  I think millennials are really taking it further – I see them getting very specific in how they define their sexuality.  Terms like sapiosexual (one for whom attraction to another is based more on the other’s mind and less their physical characteristics), or autosexual (one who is attracted to him or herself) are just two that come to mind.

The trouble is that we live in a world that is so hypocritical about sex:  It’s everywhere, in our marketing, our movies, our music videos, but we aren’t supposed to be too obsessed with it.  Sexuality elicits such apprehension that it is a brave soul who takes his or her sexuality by the horns and is willing to really investigate it and talk openly about it.  Jason Armstrong is a pseudonym – I myself am still struggling to be brave in speaking truth to sexuality in a world that is too often quick to condemn that.

One of my favorite chapters in the book is when you discuss mental illness. In our culture health is often equated to sexiness, but as you so poignantly point out this idea of health can stop at the surface level.  I've known too many people who are struggling to regain their sexuality from a mental or physical illness.  And to them all I say bravo!  But it is a struggle and there are often few resources at our disposal to help us reconnect to our sexual selves. Mental health professionals and medical doctors are ill equipped and come packed with their own biases.  Medications, as you point out in your book, steal our libidos. One woman is actually blogging about her sexuality while taking antidepressants.  Cathartic, you might agree, seeing how you write about your own journey of self-discovery. What advice would you give other people seeking their sexual selves while dealing with physical and/or mental illness?

Thank you so much for asking this question.  Writing the chapter about having OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) was the hardest chapter to write and at the 11th hour I almost yanked it from the book until my editor settled me down and made me see the importance of leaving it in.  OCD nearly crippled my sexuality.  Sexual bliss is often hard won for so many of us and I truly envy those who have never experienced their sexuality nearly slip through their fingers.  Would you mind if I inserted a plug here?  An essay of mine was included in the anthology entitled Best Sex Writing of the Year Vol. 1 by Cleis Press http://bestsexwritingoftheyear.com/ .  My piece, “Disability and Sex” documented a friend’s recovery from a stroke. While in physical therapy, he was taught to walk again, and talk again, but he was left to his own devices when it came to reclaiming his sexuality.  His courage to do so despite his physical limitations made him my hero.

If battling an illness, masturbation is the first stop on the path to sexual vitality – you control the show and can broach your sexuality at your own speed.  Take your time but don’t give up.  Treat yourself with love.  If you do, your parts will love you right back!

Your book is more than just a manifesto or homage to masturbation.  It is about masculinity.  As a culture, especially in the sex positive world, we hear so much about the patriarchy that has dictated female sexuality.  Would you say the same systemic sexual oppression affects men as well?  You write about things like your emotions, cock size, body dysmorphia - all issues men deal with and are told to quit being a "cry baby" about. Can we roll around in that a little?

I’m no authority on straight male and female sexual dynamics, but it seems clear to me that when men try to suppress female sexuality, they are in fact shooting themselves in their own foot.  Men seem to want women to be sexual objects but god forbid if those objects choose to take ownership of it.  Perhaps it’s the Madonna/Whore syndrome in that men want their wives virginal and their mistresses easy and like any sexual binary, it only creates friction between the sexes.  If men allowed women the freedom to sexually be safe and to explore, men themselves would be the lucky beneficiaries of that.

Within the gay community, the pressure to be sexually viable is an enormous burden.  Women are fighting back against this, but men are expected to simply deal with it.  It’s really no wonder that masturbation can be so freeing, without any worry of judgement from an outside source to impede one’s bliss.  The problem, however, is when the world’s judgement penetrates our psyche so that self-love seems out of reach.  That’s when things get dicey, even for the tried-and- true solosexual.  As a gay man, my claim to masculinity feels constantly threatened, yet when I’m masturbating, I get to create the rules, I get to stake my claim to manhood.  It’s a joy that no wave can wash away, that no fire can burn away.  Bringing this back to the idea of gooning, one might say that gooning is the fruition of self-love, the exact opposite to those times when the world’s judgements make us feel disconnected from our bodies.

You say in your book “as opposed to…partnered sex where a hard cock is a must…” that you are grateful for the periods of flaccidity.  Yet you discuss this male fear around the flaccid penis, specifically about Viagra and your reluctance to take it.  Do you think there is a culture that demands a hard cock on a guy?  That anything less is emasculating?  When you were with Steve on your batecation why was Viagra your first choice instead of letting the buildup in your dicks happen naturally?

Oh!  I must correct you here (smile)!  When I bated with Steve, the man who opened my eyes to how two men could reach the stars bating together, we didn’t use Viagra until AFTER a period of bating on and off for a good 24 hours!  By that time, we had earned the Viagra!  After bating for so long over a two day period, with naps in between, as we approached the denouement of the batecation, we each felt we had one more round in us and each downed just a half a tab of the lovely little blue pill.  Steve taught me that flaccidity can be a good thing in an hours-long bate (what we bators refer to as “edging”, that is, getting close to orgasm and before hitting the moment of no return, pulling back, and repeating that cycle as many times as you want).  Erections can wax and wane during long bate sessions, but what doesn’t stop is the pure enjoyment you are feeling, whether soft or hard at that particular moment.

A recurring theme throughout your book is the idea of sex vs. religion. You were a catholic whose staunch conservative values took a toll not just on your sexual development but on your mental health as well. Yet, you equate the concept of God to your cock, as if it is a religion unto itself, going so far as to call your sexuality blasphemous at times.  You also refer to other baters you know and the struggle they have with masturbation addiction - an addiction I might add I feel is often steeped in this puritanical concept of sexuality shoved down our throats...if it even exists at all. I tend to agree with Dr. David Ley that if you feel addicted to porn or jerking off it is probably just a symptom of something else (like religiosity).  Why do you think the church harbors so much resentment toward masturbation (or any sex that doesn't involve putting a baby in it)?  Do you think there is a way for the church to bridge this sexual divide?  Or, at the very least, what advice would you give somebody to get out of this "magical thinking" that is so often accompanied by the shame of guilt and the worry of damnation?

I’m going to have to look up this Dr. David Ley, he’s sounds like my kind of guy!  I grew up Lutheran in fact, but same difference.  What I have discovered is that Judeo-Christian culture never did completely blot out paganism in the Western world – sexuality flourishes, despite often being twisted and misconstrued.  Again, I point to how sex is used to sell us on next to everything, yet we are slapped on the wrist for liking it “too much”.  Something I learned from deep masturbation sessions was that my sexuality was THE most exciting gift ever given to me by God, or the cosmos, or whatever word you choose to use to describe the Almighty.  When I’m bating, the pleasure that emanates from my cock connects me to the moon and stars and all that is good on this Earth.  I do away with binaries of good and evil, because this connection to the universe is unexpectedly being produced by the grit and grime of my horniness!  I used to compartmentalize my sexual desires and my spiritual desires until I saw that they were two sides of the same coin.  When gooning, I am sort of in a trance, babbling crazy stuff about how I love my cock, my own version of speaking in tongues.  At the end of the day, my masturbations sessions are akin to worship.  Is that blasphemous?  Perhaps to some, it would seem to be.  But to me, it is a gift.  I don’t fully understand it.  Mankind has been trying to comprehend love and sexuality since the beginning of time.  That’s why talking about sexuality, writing about it, never gets old.

Solosexual has sold on every continent except Antarctica.  What kind of feedback have you gotten?  Do you have any other projects in the mix? 

The biggest feeling that I carry in my heart these days is gratitude.  I’ve received emails from men from all corners of the globe who have read the book and wanted to reach out and share their stories, to tell me how the book affected and sometimes even inspired them.  Some of my hornier readers have orgasmed on the book’s cover and sent me a picture of it – how many authors get that type of approbation from their readers?!

I am working on my second book, a larger look at gay male sexuality.  The book also contains a narrative of my own sexual journey, hopefully in a way that is universal.  This second book is only in its first draft, still untitled, and in many ways writing it is torturous.  I had such great feedback from the first book that it’s daunting to try to hit the ball out of the park a second time.  Wish me luck!



Thank you so much to Jason Armstrong for taking the time to stop by Sex and a Cup of Coffee with some bator wisdom.  You can get your own copy of Solosexual: Portrait of a Masturbator at http://solosexbook.com/.  If you want to swing by his blog you can find it at http://huntingforsex.blogspot.ca/.

Until next time dear bators…

Cheers!  



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

No Justice, No Queers


Earlier this month, Russian resistance newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported the Chechnya government was rounding up gay men holocaust-style, complete with concentration camps, torture…you know, everything you need to be an asshole dictator.  This torturous shit began after a gay rights organization applied for permits to hold a Gay Pride event in the predominately Muslim region of North Caucaus.  Chechen officials then began using the Russian equivalent of Grindr and, in some cases, people’s own fucking friends and families, to lure unsuspecting gay men out where they are beaten and thrown into cells where they were starved and tortured into giving up the names of other gay men.  In some cases, people died.  When pressed on their torturous bullshit, a spokesman for Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov essentially said “No queers here!”

“You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic.  If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own families would have sent them to where they could never return.”

Two men have already died from these “honor killings”—that is, when the fam tries to keep up appearances by offing one of their own for certain sexual proclivities—most commonly women.  And since there aren’t any queers to be seen in this region, it won’t take Mister Kadyrov any time to rid the region of the gays by Ramadan, which he recently vowed to do.

While Russian and Chechen officials keep insinuating it is Islam that has Kadyrov towing the “morality” line, Ukraine journalist Maxim Eristavi explained to NBC News that “What is happening right now with gay men is part of a longtime practice of state violence towards dissenting voices in Chechnya,” who also have “one of the worst human rights records of all Russian regions.”  Eristavi went on to explain:

“It’s not helpful to look at this through just the lenses of religion or culture or regionality.  It’s a state-sponsored campaign of violence supported by the Kremlin.”

This campaign of violence has been seen throughout Russia since 2013 when Donald Trump’s not-so-secret man-crush Vladamir Putin essentially made it illegal to be out in Russia.  Since then Russia has seen a spike in homophobic violence that puts LGBTQ people in the region in some serious shit.  More than 90% of Russiansthink homosexuality is wrong, something we Americans find difficult to wrap our heads around since more than 55% of us support gay marriage.  Unfortunately, Russia is the only place many queer Chechens can go for refuge.  The Russian LGBT Network has opened a center in Moscow as well as a 24-Hour hotline to assist gay men seeking refuge.  The problem is there is an air of paranoia perpetuated by the government in Chechnya, and gay people don’t know who to trust.  According to Elena Kostyuchenko:

“We must understand that the LGBT community in Chechnya and in the North Caucasus is generally absolutely closed – they are basically intimidated [and] do not trust anyone…They are used to being last grade people. This thought has been inculcated in them [and] they believe it. And it is hard for them to imagine that someone cares about them [and] wants to save their lives.
 As queer people and allies in America, reports like the ones coming out of Chechnya hit hard.  It is easy to feel helpless, or to dismiss the claims entirely.  But if Donald Trump’s administration has proven anything it is that we can be a scrappy bunch when we are pissed off.  That is why I’m encouraging folks to give to the Russian LGBT Network, the organization helping to evacuate gay men out of Chechnya.  If you can’t donate money, donate time.  Up the pressure on DJT and his boyfriend’s blatant human rights violations in Russia.  Or, if you want to go straight to the source, hit up instagram and tag Ramzan Kadyrov (@kadyrov_95) himself with photos that express how much of a homophobic d-bag he is.  I may have to get an instagram just to flash Kadyrov the whitest part of my ass with the words STOP THIS SHIT written across it in big rainbow letters.

Well loves, that’s all I have for now.  Until next time, keep resisting.


Cheers!          

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Reefer Madness




I started smoking pot long before cannabis became the leafy landscape it is today, so by the time I began having sex, weed was already a bit of a staple in my life.  I certainly didn’t need to hit the bong in order to get things started, but I did notice a marked difference in the intensity of the sex when I was high.  As more and more states began moving to legalize or decriminalize pot, companies like Fioria and Bond naturally began cramming it into the sex industry, primarily into our lubes.  Meanwhile, researchers have been dragging their feet examining the effects weed has on our libidos and the sex we have while high. 

But does it work?

Does weed make people hornier, or the sex they have better?  The research is already in on the medicinal properties of marijuana, so it stands to reason pot may also affect the ways in which people fuck.  That is why I set out for a bit of investigative blogging to get to the bottom of some of these questions.  But to understand where the marijuana industry is today, we need to begin by taking a look once more at America’s racist, xenophobic roots, and the reason this demon seed is illegal in the first place. 

Weed Story



Like cocaine and opiates, weed has a history of medicinal use throughout the world dating back at least to 2800 BCE (Holland, 2010, p. 3), but it wasn’t until American asshole and all-around buzz kill Harry J. Anslinger brought the morality police in the 1930’s that pot became the othering catalyst that led to the disproportionate jailing of Mexican and black men we still see in our prison system today.  

Anslinger was the commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics who, according to Associate Professor of Psychiatry Carl Hart, “saw how he could increase the budget of his department by having this mission, going after marijuana (Hart, 2016).  Anslinger even changed the name cannabis to “marijuana” to give it that foreign sounding name that would frighten already scared white people across the country.  In her book The Pot Book: A Complete Guide to Cannabis, Dr. Julie Holland (2010) explains:

“Mexican migrant workers who smoked it were demonized by his tirades against the ‘loco weed,’ which he insisted would make them insane and dangerous, raping our white women and wreaking violent havoc on us all.  Add to that the Southern black jazz musicians who were known to smoke their mezz, and you have a recipe for xenophobia and racism dictating drug policy (p. 7).”

For further proof of the asinine policies and fear pandering surrounding weed in the 30s check out the film Reefer Madness, or the sexier 2005 musical remake starring Alan Cumming.  I promise you’ll never look at Jesus the same way.

Greener Pastures


Today, Anslinger’s grip on American morality has loosened.  Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational smoking while 24 others have legalized medicinal marijuana or, at least, decriminalized recreational use.  The affects of THC—the active component in weed that gets us stoned—has a visible affect on everything from anxiety to cancer.  Most recently, researchers have found cannabidiol (CBD), one of the active ingredients in the weed plant, may have a greater affect on medicinal use primarily because of its versatility (it can be distributed intraveneously), and it doesn’t get you high, which means children with chronic illness can have it prescribed without getting the munchies later (Gupta, 2015).

This somewhat natural tendency for us to reach for a bag whenever we’re not feeling well shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.  Humans have evolved to get high in order to blunt pain.  Endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters in the brain where THC attaches itself.  It causes a flood of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex that makes us feel happy, relaxed, and can block pain receptors.  Dr. John Ratey (2008), however, explains that these receptors didn’t evolve for us to enjoy some green once in a while, but to act as our body’s “extra-strength asprin (p. 183).” 

Ever hear of runner’s high?  That euphoric feeling some runners get after finishing a marathon?  As it turns out, various things can activate those same receptors in our brains that causes runner’s high including weed, chocolate, and strenuous exercise…like, you guessed it, sex .  If you have ever fucked so long that you feel like you’re glowing afterward, you’ll know what I’m talking about.  Except exercise doesn’t always activate these neurotransmitters, at least not like an old-fashioned toke will, which is probably why, as Dr. Lester Grinspoon (2010) explains in the into to The Pot Book, smoking remains the “gold standard” for medicinal and recreational use. 

And since sex is so pathologized in this country it should also come as no surprise more researchers are looking into the ways in which weed affects our sex lives.  Meanwhile, commercial companies are using sex to try and get us, or, at least, our crotches, stoned.

Up In Smoke



People have been getting high and fucking as long as either have existed, but it wasn’t until recent years research began looking at the way marijuana affects the way we have sex.  Medicines like Viagra or Cialis have long existed to give men those raging boners Americans have come to (unrealistically) expect from penis-bearing individuals, yet women have fewer options, at least none that don’t come prepackaged with a host of side effects.  That’s why more and more research has begun looking at ways to make women come faster or to increase their libidos, or any number of other ways we as a culture have pathologized female sexuality.  Why not weed, too? 

A study released last year in the Archives of Sexual Behavior compared the effects of alcohol versus weed on the sex lives of a small sample of 24 heterosexual adults.  As anyone who has ever worn beer goggles might expect, participants didn’t have a very good time on booze.  Weed on the other hand tended to increase peoples’ body image, social bonding experiences, and the sex?  Mind-blowing!  Participants described magnified orgasms, more sensitivity both personally and with their partners, and even kinkier sex like foot play and rimjobs.  Interestingly, researchers also found the taboos that still exist around marijuana consumption may have played a role in some of this fuckery.  From the article:

“In fact, the ‘taboo’ or ‘forbiddeness’ of use being illegal appeared to have facilitated sexual interactions when using marijuana with another individual in private—and both males and females reported asking someone of the opposite sex to come smoke marijuana in order to help facilitate a potential intimate encounter (Palamar, et al, 2016).”

Meanwhile, lube companies have been working on getting peoples’ pussies high for years.  More and more headlines are raving about weed-infused lubricants like Fioria, especially around 4/20, and now recipes are surfacing online on how to make your own weed lube.  Can we say life hack?  As Lena Davidson, marketing director for botanicaSEATTLE, explained in a 2015 article for The Stranger:

THC is absorbed through the mucous membranes that are in high concentrations in a woman's vagina. Once applied and absorbed, THC acts locally on the cannabinoid receptors, much like an edible. Functionally, the THC dilates the capillaries and increases blood flow in the smallest blood vessels in our body—this enhanced microcirculation magnifies sensitivity and sensation."

The article goes on to describe the “sensation” as less of a head or body high, as one might get from smoking pot, and more of a “localized” feeling.

But does it work?

That’s the question that kept nagging at me last year when I was looking into this market, reading testimonials and product labels.  Testimonials aren’t the same as talking to somebody I know and trust who has actually tried one of these lubes.  So I reached out to a friend of mine who happens to work at a dispensary to see what he thought.

“I don’t use anything else now.  It helps last longer but gives better sensitivity, and it’s also edible so you can get a buzz sucking a lubricated dick.”

Still unconvinced, I decided to find an expert in the field of cannabis oils to get their take on this whole smoking vagina/asshole phenomenon.  As it turns out, weed-infused lubes may just be bullshit—his words, not mine.  John, who asked I withhold his real name because he’s since gotten out of the sex market, said that more than likely the “high” people feel when using these products is psychosomatic, something akin to the placebo effect.  He went on to explain that, in his controlled setting, the amount of THC infused into the lube was rarely enough to get people stoned but was enough—and here’s the kick to your high-ass pussy—to fail a drug screen.  John went on to warn that when using these products to be mindful of any discomfort or burning in or around your nether-regions, because they weren’t necessarily meant to go there.  Furthermore, if you still insist on getting your pussy high John suggests looking for more organic products, especially those CDB products with coconut oil.

Final Thoughts

All in all, the jury is still out on weed lubes.  Despite all the articles and testimonials, it may just all be a smoke screen.  (But if any of you lovely readers have experiences with any of these products, I’d love to read about them in the comments!)  As it stands, though, it seems the best way for weed to work its medicinal magic is still the old fashioned way—by taking one to the head. 

Speaking of which cough cough I’m feeling a little under the weather myself.  So until next time my hemp seed harlots…

Cheers!

References:

Holland, Julie. (2010). The pot book: A complete guide to cannabis.  Rochester, VT: Park Street Press.

Gupta, Sanjay. (2015). Weed: Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports.  CNN.

Ratey, J. J.  (2008). Spark: The revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain.  New York, NY: Hatchette Book Group.


Palamar, J.J., Acosta, P., Ompad, D.C. et al. (2016). A qualitative investigation comparing psychosocial and physical sexual experiences related to alcohol and marijuana use among adults.  Archives of Sexual Behavior.   doi:10.1007/s10508-016-0782-7

 




Friday, April 7, 2017

The Big C

On April 1st President Trump declared April National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.  That’s right, our pussy-grabber-in-chief made the declaration as if April hasn’t been nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month since 2001.  Not that I’m judging; the man needs all the education and awareness he can get his tiny mitts on.  Just today he came out in defense of Fox News host Bill O’Riley, who recently settled a multi-million dollar lawsuit over allegations he had sexually harassed a number of women.  When asked by the New York Times what he thought, Trump said “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong” because what’s the word of multiple victims against those of a rich, white predator?   

Sexual assault, as has been made evident by our current presidential administration, is an on-going problem in the United States.  According to a 2014 report out of the CDC, 19% of women and nearly 2% of men have been raped during their lifetimes and another 15% and 6%, respectively, have been a victim of stalking.  And that is not counting the 54% of rape cases that goes unreported, or the fact that 97% of rapists will never see the inside of a jail cell, per the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network.  Small wonder considering the language we use when it comes to sexual assault tends to victimize people more by focusing on the “sexual” act of rape rather than the violence behind the act.  After all, this is America and despite sex inundating everything around us, it still makes a court of law squeamish, especially when the perpetrator is a rich white boy, as was the case last year with Brock Turner.  So what if he was caught red-handed raping a woman on his college campus?  He has his whole life ahead of him, and she was obviously asking for it by getting too drunk at a party—because that for some reason is just one of the asinine standards by which we judge rape.

The legal system is obviously fucked up when it comes to matters of sexual violence.  Michele Foucault recognized this in the 70s when he called for a decriminalization of rape, that courts criminalize the violence committed instead of the act of “sex”.  But as author Carine Mardorossian (2014) points out in her book Framing the Rape Victim: Gender and Agency Reconsidered, the legality of sexual assault is just the tip of the ice berg, that it is in fact the entitled capitalistic culture we find ourselves in which must be the source of change.  Mardorossian goes on to explain that all violence, not just sexual violence, is sexual in nature, demanding a type of gender performitivity which mimics the heteronormative masculine which is the default here in the United States. 

“The reason why legal redress in rape cases has been ineffective is, I believe, because the cultural understanding of rape misrepresents it as a special-interest issue rather than as the tip of an iceberg that saturates all social and power relations…We need to put rape on a continuum that recognizes the central role of sexuality and gender in the ‘making of culture’ in the United States…If we live in a ‘rape culture,’ it is not because U.S. culture is inherently in the business of normalizing sexual violence against women but because violence is an inherently sexualized phenomenon of which rape is the extreme form.”

The culture is changing, though, albeit perhaps not to the extremes Carine Mardorossian is suggesting.  Since all those pro-rape rallies in universities came to light a few years ago, college campuses all over the nation are educating students about consent, and what that may look like.  I like John Oliver’s definition of consent the best:  “Sex is like boxing, if one of the parties didn’t agree to participate, the other one is committing a crime.”  In a pinch, this sums up sexual consent, in a hyper-masculine sort of way, but consent is just one facet of our lives the societal powers that be have culturally indoctrinated us to give up without question, most times before we can even put voice to our own agency.  We chop off the tips of boys’ penises when they are infants.  We make our kids give grandma a hug even though she’s wearing that perfume we hate and her lips are always slimy and wet.  These are just a few of the ways we are taught our agency doesn’t matter, and it plays directly into the hands of the larger, hegemonic rape culture we are all socialized into. 

Even in the sex positive community, like kink and poly communities where the phrase “safe, sane, and consensual” is often a mantra to a good time, it can be difficult to gauge or put voice to consent.  For example, a male caller to the Savage Love Podcast told host Dan Savage about a sex party he went to with a female friend of his in which he found her being raped though did not realize it until the next day.  Sadly, instances like this are not uncommon in the kink community.  Ayako Black, in an article for the Daily Dot, recounts her rape at the hands of her first dom at a party: 

After I told the hosts about this guy’s behavior, I was horrified when they invited him to another event I was attending. When this man showed up, I was informed by the host that he had claimed that he did not know me, the assault had never happened, and that it was a “misunderstanding.” I learned after the fact that this individual has crossed the line with other women as well, and yet he is still invited to events. Incidents like this one are precisely why I no longer interact with the BDSM community in my city.”

Incidents like this, according to BDSM blogger Thomas Macaulay Millar (2012), are not uncommon though, for the most part, these particular predators hang out on the fringe of this particular subculture.  People recognize them, warn others about them, ostracize them.  It is those privileged people who dig their way into the scene, Millar explains, who tend to serially cross boundaries and then attempt to silence their victims either logistically or to the extent of freezing them out of the community.  It is this quieting of agency that can be seen in everything from the way we interact with children (gendering them; cutting off pieces of them) to the backwards way we handle sexual assault in a court of law.  Millar sums it up with two words:  No Drama. 

There’s a theme here: that silence and secrecy are the paramount values, and open discussion is to be avoided.  It’s a basic function of institutions, but often of informal social networks as well, to protect the body from reputational damage.  That’s what colleges do with rape:  they use nondisclosure agreements so that whatever the result, nobody can talk about it.”

The good news is, though, we ARE talking about it.  The bad news is that the conversation does not end at this “abuse/victim binary,” as sex educator Kitty Stryker has called it and that, for most of this blog post, yours truly has laid out.  We have all violated boundaries and crossed lines in various different ways.  Case and point—I am a sex blogger who loves talking about sex; not everyone is into talking about sex; sometimes I ramble on about sex and have to apologize later for having offended somebody with my incessant sex talk.  It is that recognition of having crossed a boundary, especially after being called out for it, that has made me more mindful of the discussions I engage in with friends and family.  If I read an article about, say, how ducks are rapists (and they are!) I can recognize now—after being called out—that not everybody wants to hear about the intricacies of duck intercourse.

The problems here, and there are 2, is that 1.) a lot of people inherently do not like owning up to their mistake and 2.) those people that do are crucified or burned at the stake.  Especially affluent white men in positions of power (the capitalistic dream) would rather pay millions of dollars to keep from apologizing rather than owning up to their fuck up.  Similarly, there is no platform in which those of us who fuck up, and, again, we all do because of the capitalistic, entitled culture we live in, can own up to those mistakes.  Social media has proven over and over again that it can destroy a person within seconds and, let’s face it, some people deserve to be taken down a peg or two.  But in this digital age people are thirsty for blood and are just waiting by their phones for the chance to pounce on anything that goes against the narrative we have created around rape.  As Kitty Stryker wrote in her blog and paraphrased most recently on Sex Out Loud with Tristan Teormino:

 “Consent Culture, the way I see it, is about recognizing that people fuck up, that consent is complex and influenced by many factors, that boundary-crossing does not automatically mean you are an abusive asshole and never a victim yourself or that having your boundaries crossed means that you are incapable of being abusive.” 

On rape culture, Stryker goes on to say:

“…we talked about entitlement culture instead of rape culture, because rape is a triggering word and, frankly, not the most accurate. The issue at the core is the idea of combating entitlement to certain behaviours. Rape is an aspect of that, as is abuse, but it also covers things like racism, classism, sexism, ableism, sizeism, Twue Domism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. Which is why, rather than just talking about rape, we try to talk about the various ways oppression and marginalization intersect within altsex communities. Because if we want to turn this shit around, we need to address the core issues, and the best way to do that is to start talking about them.”

And we are talking about it, which is a wonderful thing.  Sadly, this rape culture isn’t about to end anytime soon, not when its systemic, oppressive roots threaten to choke us with each step we make, and definitely not when people like Donald Trump—rich white men who haven’t remained on the fringe of society but instead burrowed themselves out a comfy little niche of power and control—are allowed in positions of governance.  Similarly, until we end this capitalistic entitlement over our bodies that has been engrained into Western Culture and begin calling rape what it is (violence) we will never have true agency, at least not without a fight.  At the same time, it is important to recognize people fuck up.  Consent isn’t always sexual, and it isn’t always visible, especially when we are taught early on that it doesn’t matter.  Giving people the language to negotiate their boundaries or to admit when and where they fucked up is a tool each of us could use, and something affluent white guys like Donald Trump and, I fear, future DJT Brock Turner could use a little more of.  After all, it was Donny who declared April Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month so apparently he needed a little educating.  In a lot of ways, I think we all do.

Until next time loves,

Cheers!

   
Sources:

Breiding, M. J., Smith, S. J., et al.  (2014, September 5).  Prevalence and Characteristics of Sexual Violence, Stalking, and Intimate Partner Violence Victimization — National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, United States, 2011.  Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6308a1.htm


Mardorossian, C. M. (2014).  Framing the rape victim: Gender and agency reconsidered.  New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Millar, T. M.  (2012, May 15).  There’s a war on [Blog post].  Retrieved from https://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/theres-a-war-on-part-7-theres-a-crack-in-everything-thats-how-the-light-gets-in/

Stryker, K.  (2012, April 12).  Consent culture: Let’s review [Blog post].  Retrieved from   http://kittystryker.com/blog/posts/consent-culture-lets-review/