Sex and Christianity: A Call For Applicants

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CALL FOR APPLICANTS | 2011-2012 Activist-Scholars Program — Good Sex/Bad Sex: Christian Taboos, Testimonies, and Transcendence.

There were some tears in the house, just from reading it.

Bodies Are Just Amazing!

I love bodies. I love all sorts of bodies. I love the bodies of the people who surround me. I love the bodies of the people at the grocery store. I love the bodies of the dancers at the strip club. I love bodies. Each one is a gift. Each one is unbelievably amazing.

I’ve come across several blogs that seems as though they want to communicate that same love. I’ll share them in the order in which I found them.

The Thickness: “an appreciation blog of chubby/thick women and their sexiness.” The Thickness focuses on celebrating a particular set of bodies, one that is often devalued in the popular discourse. It’s a mix of pro models and user submissions and reading the messages that come with the user submissions it’s easy to see the impact that this celebration has on people. It’s amazing and beautiful and you should add it to your reader.

Ordinary People is a mix of photos found online and user submissions, and it features… people. All sorts of people. All sorts of body types. The people here are the ones you see every day. It’s full of bravery, nervousness, boldness, pride, acceptance, sexuality and what the site owner terms “ordinary people.”

Everyone Should Post Nude Once is a new blog full of user submissions of full body nude photos. People can email their photos to the curator and have them posted anonymously. There are some specific rules to keep the blog on the safe side of pornography (no erections, no touching of genitals) which I find somewhat disappointing, but I appreciate the project nonetheless. The curator says “This blog is to celebrate the human form, and let people get over their inhibitions when it comes to nudity.” I’d love to see more variation in the shapes and sizes represented there, but that’s up to us to join in and start sending in our own pictures!

So yeah, I love bodies, and while I don’t often use “should” language, I really think you should love bodies too. I don’t think, looking at these three sites, that anyone is able to do anything less than love the bodies shown.

“Using Boobs”

How many images do you figure you’re surrounded by every day? How many do you “ingest”, directly or indirectly?

Who creates all those images?

What various agendas and motivations might those creators have for making these images and showing them to you?

I believe these questions are important to everyone, but if you have a worldview that includes particular criticisms of our culture — the idea that there are fundamental ways that our cultures devalues bodies, as one example — then these questions become even more important.

This is why I enjoy blogs like Sociological Images, which I’ve linked to before. The SI writers have some worldviews that differ significantly from Gabe’s and mine; we have some differences in our basic operational definitions, and we likely see the path to healing or improving our world to be very different. But SI consistently puts forward some very thought-provoking ideas, and encourages its readers to flex their own critical thinking muscles on the world around them. I appreciate that.

I found this recent post of theirs to be truly fascinating: Using Boobs To Sell Car Insurance. They have posted three foreign commercials, all of which they consider to be objectification of women. I invite you to visit the site now, watch the videos and notice your own responses before reading further. What do you see when you watch those videos? What responses do you have, and why do you think you have those particular responses?

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Now, here’s mine. To clarify from the start, I don’t believe that the depiction of a body, female or otherwise, is inherently objectification. That basic assumption threads through my response. While there’s plenty to be said about power dynamics in media construction, I don’t find that issue to be specifically relevant to my responses here, and so I have not addressed it.

I am especially fond of the first commercial. Having vehicles painted on boobs puts me in mind of the tenderness I feel in my own relationship to my car — it is a “body part”, an extension of personality for many of us, on some level. The shell we ride in dangerous, modern, high speed traffic is oftentimes a reminder of our bodies’ softness and fragility. There is a playfulness in the short film that I enjoy very much, as various hands collaborate on a dance reminiscent of Annie Sprinkle’s performance art piece “Boob Ballet”. Many of the SI comments on this commercial focus on a perceived threat in the brief struggle between two pair of hands. I got none of this message, as the posture of the women does not transmit to me concern or danger. Other comments found the lack of heads to be disturbing. I found the piece worked better without splitting our attention between faces and breasts; I also don’t feel a need to value a head more than other parts of bodies, which are just as full of personality and uniqueness as the faces we usually interact with. I saw erect, beautiful torsos playing a game that I was delighted to see.

I found the second commercial more problematic. Though it’s a personal opinion, there was not much aesthetically that I found pleasing, so I was left to focus on the characterization of individuals actually working for this airline. While I don’t find the sexy car wash girl inherently problematic as a character, to overlay that character onto every single female flight attendant actually working for the airline is to remove a lot of personal autonomy and individual choice. That’s not cool for me. Perhaps someone else can add to this?

The last commercial? It is absurd, and humorous for that reason. A scantily clad, oontz-filled dance to sell tires? I don’t know that the absurdity was intentional, but it’s fun. I’m aware that the lead dancer is rounder than the vast majority of Caucasian dancers in US media, and I enjoyed the small amount of diversity of bodies shown. The dancers are talented, but I can’t tell how much imagination the creators really put into their use of our time.

Links

It’s time to share some linkage. No, not that kind!

This first link… makes me so very sad. Apparently, the Australian Ratings Board is having an effect on the rates of certain plastic surgeries in the country. Some actresses are essentially having their labia minora removed in order to fit the Board’s definition of “discreet genitalia” for a film to qualify as soft core porn. This is an example to me of the profound damage that can happen when crass commercialization in porn intersects with a body-negative culture. (Sociological Images is a site I’d generally recommend as thoughtful and thought-provoking, though the main blogger is, for the most part, anti-pornography.)

Sociological Images: How A Ratings Board Is Driving Rates Of Cosmetic Surgery

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The second link is a lovely photo. I came across it stumbling, and it’s a great way to cap off May as National Masturbation Month:

Masturbation Motivational

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Lastly, I’m a big fan of weddings that are a unique and inspired reflection of the parties getting married. Here’s what can happen when someone in the family is circus royalty (LOTS of large photos):

Amy and Jesse part one
Amy and Jesse part two

Sexual Bigotry

Mollena over at “The Perverted Negress” has written a fantastic article on Vanilla Bigotry, that touched a nerve for both Gabe and I. We’ve each heard kinky friends and acquaintances referring to vanilla folks as backwards, uneducated, and otherwise living incomplete lives. Mollena addresses some of this thinking head on. Here’s an excerpt that hits home for me:

  

When I’m in a room full of kinky people and someone says “I feel so sorry for the poor vanillas. I just don’t get how they could be so lame!” and goes on to expand on how kinky sex is the best way to have intimate relations, that “they” will “never understand” how much “better” our sex is, and I see the majority of people in the room nodding or clucking their tongues sympathetically, I realize something.

We become that which we reject when we paint people who don’t fuck the same way that we do with a broad brush.

Let me say that I totally get the impulse to engage in such in-group/out-group thinking. The temptation to this behavior often comes from a deep well of pain. Even the healthiest folks in marginalized groups have cultural programming to manage that encourages self-hatred and self-ignorance. Directing that into anger toward the mainstream group – be it kinksters bemoaning the misguided vanillas, poly folks proclaiming themselves the new evolution past outdated monogamy, or gays and lesbians insulting “breeders” – is one way to cope with the pain.

But here’s the thing — that behavior doesn’t heal. It doesn’t heal ourselves and it doesn’t heal communities. It doesn’t create anything new. It keeps resentment alive and keeps wounds open. It gets the speaker in touch with anger that is appropriate to feel, yes… but it encourages that anger to turn rancid and bite back, instead of using it to build a more just community. It’s simply not fair to hold a person’s sexuality against them, whether that sexuality is similar to ours or not.

Varying Perspectives on Christian Sex

I have for you another unique perspective on a healthy Christian sex life.

Gabe and I certainly do our theology quite differently than the folks at SexinChrist.com. But the writer shows that you can take the Bible literally and still have a super exciting sex life, since there’s a scriptural basis for anal sex, masturbation, threesomes and BDSM, and a biblical imperative to swallow semen.

You probably already know this, but Mollena rocks

I try to limit the amount of posts I make here that consist of “OMG, go read this!” without any real original content from me. Sometimes, though, there’s a post that’s just worth doing that. So seriously, go read Mollena’s The FatGirl Pervert Rants

I recently saw a post on FetLife calling for demo bottoms. Since this was for an event I’m attending, I was eager to volunteer. Then I read the post. The instructor specifically asked for slender models, because (and I am paraphrasing a bit) fuller-figured people’s skin doesn’t clamp / pinch easily.

I was really angry. And a bit stung.

Then I stopped myself.

How the fuck do we, an alternative outlier community, fail to see that all people being represented is far better then some people being represented?

Then I sat there pinching myself.

Quite literally.

I found it was pretty easy to grab skin on some areas, tougher on others. I imagine that to be the case with anyone.

To my jaundiced eye, this smacked of “Look, I don’t wanna play with fat girls so I’ll say something about how it is critical for the class so that I don’t have to reject a bunch of fat people.”

I’m fuming, thinking “So…your class is on “playing with thin people”? You are specifically EXCLUDING an entire class of folks because of their size? What happens to the person in class who is fat, has a fat partner, or might play with a fat person? You have no info for them? Why not have a few demo bottoms? Why not just put your your fucking call for bottoms and pick who you want without being so OBVIOUSLY exclusionary? What if you were teaching a goddanmed class and said “No brown skinned people because the marks don’t show up as well on dark people.” ?!?!”

But then…I didn’t say anything. Because I thought I was being hypersensitive.

Now, I wish I had.

The Yielding of Night

I’d like to welcome another brilliant and sexy writer to the world of sex blogging. After sharing several of her journal entries about her experiences, the lovely Nyx has taken my advice and started her own blog about her adventures in sex and BDSM. I encourage you to visit The Yielding of Night. Leave her some comments (we all know bloggers thrive on them) and add her to your regular feeds. I assure you, she’s worth it.

 
 
 

It Always Hurts To Call Out A Hero

Betty Dodson has gotten a lot of respect in these quarters. That’s why reading this from her this morning has me rather upset and disappointed. (Emphases mine)

What do American men have in common with Middle Eastern and Tribal African men? All three societies routinely perform circumcision on boys while the rest of the world does not. In the United States, we circumcise babies within the first few days or week. Muslims do it to young boys who are between 12 and 15 while African boys are between 6 to 10 years of age. In all three instances circumcision is performed without anesthesia! Perhaps Muslims circumcise boys late to insure they will become angry young men willing to sacrifice their life for Allah. In Africa it’s a rite of passage into manhood, a warrior who now can kill animals and other men. The fact that the AMA does not support circumcision citing there is no health benefit, I suspect it’s the same for Americans: circumcision prepares our young men to go to war. After all, War Inc. has been America’s number one industry ever since 1914 following WWI.

Later in the same article she writes:

It’s no wonder men hate women consciously or subconsciously. Look at what mothers have allowed a doctor to do to them. First Baby feels pleasure with soft touches that get him partially erect. It feels good until the Doc applies a cold hard metal clamp. The searing pain that follows lasts twenty minutes or more like a sustained torture. May I suggest we consider the similarities between American men and their Islamic brothers or a primitive African tribe?

I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m bitter over having part of my dick cut off. That is a decidedly not cool thing to do to a kid (or anyone against their will). It is barbaric and it should be stopped. This is not the way to stop it. Dr. Dodson here equates “Middle Eastern” and “Muslim,” then goes on to paint all Muslim men as Islamist suicide bombers. She refers to Africans as “primitive.” Both of these are then compared and contrasted to Americans. “We don’t want to be like those people” she seems to be suggesting.

Dr. Dodson has certainly done some amazing things. This kind of sloppiness, xenophobia, classism and racism is not among them.

Celebrate “Obscenity”

Dr. Marty Klein writes:

On the anniversary of our Bill of Rights, we need to ask: exactly why does the category of “obscene materials” exist? And why does the government give itself this exemption? And why, oh why, oh why do Americans support this?

How can an object be “obscene?” The whole idea sounds medieval. Ancient. Neanderthal. It recalls a time of tree gods, of voodoo amulets, of leeches and bleeding, of idols believed to have real power, of special words, numbers, and even chords that could summon the Devil. That’s what obscenity laws are about: a puny attempt to protect oneself from the Devil.

Sexual rights are not trivial. The right to say words or share pictures of adults that other adults don’t like shouldn’t be merely tolerated—it should be celebrated.

Mindful of monarchy and tyranny, the Founders created many ingenuous barriers to future rulers stealing our rights. They needn’t have worried. Americans have spent the last 217 years pleading to have their rights limited. Sexual rights are, apparently, just too burdensome. We’d rather have the illusion of safety and conformity instead.

Our neighbors’ sexuality, of course, provides neither.