Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Yes on Prop K - Take a Stand for Sexual Freedom

All right dear friends, here we are with the first hints of Autumn in the air. So much change and flux everywhere. Whether it's a Chinese curse or a blessing, we are most definitely living in interesting times!

Amidst this goliath financial crisis and the culture wars of our upcoming presidential election, I have found solace immersing myself in my studies. It's been great to make new friends in my classes and connect with them on such a gratifyingly cerebral level. After my 6-year obsession with all things pro domme, it's awesome to switch gears and find myself discussing the ideas of Neitchze, Goedel and Freud on a regular basis.

But alas, there is always something to shake me back to reality.

I held my breath and felt my muscles tighten as one of my professors related a tale of a transvestite who was married to one of her patients. "He was wearing earrings... and woman's lingerie," she said, pausing with an arched eyebrow for dramatic effect.

Some details in life, one would rather forget. I guess it's a bit of cognitive dissonance, so as not to be reminded of harsher truths. Like the fact that sadomasochism is still listed as a disorder (classified as a sexual paraphilia) in the DSM - Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a handbook for mental health professionals. I mean really, does it make any sense to group consensual power play alongside pedophilia? Granted, this is the same manual that listed homosexuality as a disorder up until the 80s.

Another little fact that I too often try to ignore - that our sexual freedoms in this country are quite limited, particularly for women involved in sex work. Look at what's happening in New York, where yet another house of domination was recently raided and shut down. A 21-year-old domina was arrested for prostitution for allegedly offering a prostrate massage for money. Don't vice cops have anything better to do than turn their masturbation fantasies into reality? I have nothing to say that hasn't been said before, but it does sicken me, how the entire pro BDSM scene in Manhattan is being terrorized by law enforcement.

Which brings me to my final point. Vote yes on Proposition K and take a stand for sexual freedom! From The San Francisco Chronicle : "Voting yes on Proposition K to decriminalize prostitution - to prohibit the city from arresting prostitutes - will make it easier for sex workers to report violence to the police and improve public health. The decriminalization of prostitution was the main recommendation of the citywide San Francisco Task Force on Prostitution more than 10 years ago. A recent UCSF study found that 1 out of 7 sex workers in San Francisco were threatened with arrest by police officers unless they had sex with them, and 1 out of 5 reported that police officers paid them for sex. Clearly, the policing of sex work is problematic."

New Zealand legalized prostitution in 2003, and you can see from this article that the level of discussion surrounding this issue is much more reasonable, with less moralizing and hypocrisy.

It's time to stop being complacent and complicit, living in fear and allowing others to smear us with labels of "criminal", "deviant" or "immoral." It's time to make positive change for justice, fairness and freedom. Take a stand!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Brain Tripping

Don't believe everything you think. I saw that on a bumper sticker a few years ago and it really stuck with me. I was heavy into meditation at the time, experiencing that expansive state of being more than just my little self with its biases and blind spots. I was drawn to sit because of shoulder and neck pain which had turned chronic, finding that the meditation allowed me to relax my own resistance to the pain, thereby lessening it considerably. But the pain was still there. The remainder went away only after I realized that it was repressed anger and fear manifesting physically. Shining light on the real issues, the physical pain disappeared, it's job done. Amazing how our bodies never lie.

It's so good to be back in school. I love the feeling of engaging on so many levels, getting my head firing on all cylinders. Here's one concept that's intrigued me. Our brain does something called the summation of inputs. We process things both in parallel as well as heirarchically. Both within neurons and between them, sensory information is collected and collated. Every little bit of data is not sent to a central decision-making area. Rather, the different pieces are coalesced and merged. So at each level, new information is being created and then passed up to the next level. Our brains are like a corporation, with individuals compiling reports which are sent to their manager who then sends a report from his group to his manager and so on, the information edited to focus on priorities and discard the extraneous, until it reaches the final decision-maker. I like thinking of it this way, because it reinforces my skepticism about my own thinking. Sometimes vital information can get lost in the shuffle, ignored or prioritized incorrectly. We have been wired to believe our own thinking is infallible, our emotions tell us so, yet in many cases we need to re-check our premises.

I've heard of a study where they could detect the impulse which triggered a movement before our consciousness seemed to make the decision to move. Our awareness just seems to be in control, but perhaps is closer to a projection of the actual processing going on. It's like our avatar, a representation which we wholly identify as our self. Yet brain trauma can permanently change this personality (and drugs can temporarily alter it). Our personal predilections, tics and habits are based on the existing connections and biochemical balance which is us in this moment, yet ultimately maleable. If you've meditated for a long period, perhaps you've encountered a bigger you staring at yourself, timeless and not attached to that little persona.

I enjoy thinking of this form I inhabit as my avatar. Yes, the geek in me feels an affinity with the idea, made popular in the film 13th Floor and elucidated in a lecture I attended by Nick Bostrum, that we may be living in a computer simulation. Yet really what it does is help remind me not to overly identify with the happenstance of my creation, but rather to embrace my many blessings and continue to seek out enriching experiences in this world.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Talking Head or Porn Star?

I was in the gym earlier today, tripping on how garishly made up the female anchors are on the cable news networks. These talking heads look like contract-girl porn stars. I admit I can have a hard time focusing on what they're saying. It must be a bitch for serious fellows they are interviewing to concentrate! Not that those channels ever seem to have much to say. Whenever I flip over to them, it always seems to be about a pretty woman missing from some small town in America. The only news channel that makes me feel sane is CNBC. I guess it just seems like less bullshit, focusing on the economy, even when I disagree with their pundits. Of course, the women on there are hot too. But in a more sophisticated and real way.

I was watching storm coverage on Fox last night and the mini-skirted blonde anchorwoman and brunette meteorologist in red seemed to be engaged in a little ego tussle as they debated the impact of the back-end of the hurricane which hit the Gulf Coast. They reminded me of the kind of girls who hang out at bars in the Marina, all smiling and giggling in front of the guys. But run into them in the ladies room, when the mask is off, and it's the silent treatment or eyes shooting daggers, then maybe later a well-placed heel to the foot or elbow to the ribs if they don't like the attention you're getting on the dancefloor.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Californication & Sex Addiction

With the semester having started and me finally getting serious in my pursuit of a graduate degree, I've been a bit too distracted to write in my blog as of late. I do feel guilty when I don't write, yet I've learned to not to beat myself up too much. I've come to realize that whenever my writing gets more sparse, it usually means that I'm having my fair share of adventures and am fully engaged in my life. There's a trade-off between living deeply in the moment and stepping back to muse, analyze and create. I used to chide myself relentlessly for not applying myself more to my creative endeavors. That was before I began to appreciate that what really matters to me is savoring every moment of this wondrous, mysterious existence with which I have been gifted. Indeed, there is magic latent in the world, and I enjoy mining it.

In the end, everything else is dust in the wind to me. We drive ourselves to make our mark, our desire for fame and recognition a quixotic quest for immortality. We forget there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide from our fear of the inevitable. Of course, there is more to achievement than just personal glory. There is the desire to share what we create and collaborate, to impart insight and publicly wrestle with the questions which nag us. So in a sense too, I feel a responsibility to my readers. Now I have been half-waiting to get those emails pleading with me to post something, as in "Please Mistress, your fans want to hear from you!" Somehow that always works like reverse-psychology and deters me even more. Ah well, I admit there's no winning with me sometimes.

I read the other day that David Duchovny checked himself in to rehab for sex addiction. I've been meaning to write about his new series "Californication," having caught the first season on disc. I really got into the first 6 or so episodes (the first of the 2 DVDs). It had witty dialogue, great acting, some heart-tugging drama and laugh-your-ass-off moments, and of course lots of T&A sex scenes. The story is about Hank Moody, a best-selling New York novelist with writer's block who lives in LA and drowns his sorrows (his longtime girlfriend/mother of his child's impending marriage to another man) by having sex with as many beautiful women as he can. The opening scene of the first episode has a nun going down on him (OK it's a dream sequence). There are more shockingly hilarious vignettes in the first few episodes, including a head-shakingly funny bedroom scene involving doggy-style sex and vomit, as well as a BDSM threesome gone awry with a hot Suicide Girl.

To paraphrase a few of the best lines from the show:

"What I want to know is why is this city so intent on destroying the female half of its population?" Hank Moody asks to himself, in response to all the plastic surgery and self-esteem issues he encounters in the women he sleeps with.

"Life is too short to dance with the fat chicks," his philandering dad tells him. Not PC but funny as hell (maybe because it is so un-pc).

The series winds down as you get into the second half of the first season though, with fewer sex scenes or hilarity, and more heart-heavy drama. This is when the chickens come home to roost. For underlying all the wicked sex is a very traditional, monogamous-based view of romantic relationships. Hank's original sin was that he never asked his girlfriend to marry him, so when someone finally did she said yes. His sexual compulsions cause him to be blackmailed and lose the faith of his daughter. We watch him suffer and do penance, reaping what he sowed. This is when I lost some of my interest in the show. These people were putting themselves and each other through hell, ostensibly in the name of love. They could see no other way. But I do. It's called polyamory. Hey, even Dr. Edel was talking about it on the radio today.

I wish David Duchovny well on his recovery. I bet he had the ladies throwing themselves at him extra-hard after "Californication" came out, what with all those inspiring sex scenes. I always thought he and his wife Tea Leoni looked like swinger types - they both are hot and seem like open-minded, intelligent people. I'm still formulating an opinion on sex as an addiction. Unquestionably, it can be a compulsion. Part of me wants to tell him "rehab is for quitters!" But seriously, sometimes things get a bit too extreme and we over-stimulate our reward centers, so moderation is key. It's just too bad that nowadays we can turn anything into a problem!