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Nov 2011 24

by Darrah de jour

All over the United States, a band of activists has sprung up to take the law into their own gloved hands. “Real life Superheroes” are anywhere from 18 to 62 years old, run the gamut of ethnicities, backgrounds, and gender expressions, and have no real training in fighting crime. However, captured in the Michael Barnett documentary Superheroes, they appear to be part of a movement that’s taking flight.

“The film touches on a zeitgeist-y moment. I think we’re in a very troubled time right now as a society,” Director Barnett tells me over a whisky on the rocks in the dimly lit Santa Monica bar, The Yard. “#OccupyWallStreet is a very power to the people movement. People are fed up and they feel like they don’t have control and they don’t have a voice. And they’re trying to create one. This movement is so on par with that. Though a little more eccentric, it is a protest,” he asserts. “It’s saying ‘I don’t think government is efficient, I don’t think they’re helping us. I don’t think that help is coming from the top down.’”

The perky waitress seems thrilled to interrupt us to refill empty glasses and eavesdrop. The subject of our banter, which careens into after dark street patrolling and hand-made weaponry, is no secret however. In fact, there are a plethora of online forums (such as RealLifeSuperheroes.org) where you and I can engage with these Stan Lee-esque vigilantes, and now, they are under a worldwide spotlight.

Having just returned from a London screening, Barnett, a commercial director who self-funded the film, reluctantly reveals that Superheroes has won multiple awards. Accolades include The Audience Award at Calgary Underground Film Festival and The Grand Jury Award at the Los Angeles United Film Festival, among others. Shot over 15 months, this lauded and still slyly hip documentary shines a well-balanced light on a growing phenomenon, which is spearheaded by people who are self-sacrificing but not martyrs, unassuming but politically-conscious, proactive but not reward seeking.

During the day, RLSH are security guards, teachers, tattoo artists, and stay-at-home dads. But, at night, not unlike Clark Kent’s famous transition into Superman, these young men and women transform into “Dark Guardian,” “Amazonia,” “Mr. Xtreme,” “Zimmer,” and “T.S.A.F” – which stands for The Silenced And Forgotten, and belongs to one of the three female Superheroes represented in the doc.

Their real identities remain under wraps, as do their faces. Wearing sunglasses, baseball caps, head scarves and then, of course, their masks (with the exception of Zimmer, an out gay New Yorker for whom a mask would be too much like crawling back into the closet) none of the crime fighters reveal their true selves. Who they are during bank hours is less important – sometimes even to them – than who they are after dark.

***

In 1964, a 28-year-old Catherine “Kitty” Genovese was stabbed multiple times in the New York neighborhood of Queens, and left to die. She was brutally assaulted – physically and sexually – and left to bleed out. Another shocking aspect of this violent crime is that a number of neighbors saw or heard the attack in progress – and did nothing. Rather, they chose to turn out their lights and draw down their curtains. Allegedly, one neighbor even turned up his radio to drown out her screams. They simply “didn’t want to get involved,” one witness said. Kitty’s death made international headlines. In our own backyard, our most defeatist trait was killing women. Apathy.

The memory of Genovese’s death, and what is now termed “the bystander effect,” served as a call to arms for Mr. Xtreme, a San Diego superhero and a central figure in the film. He told me, “Genovese is an icon. There’s a lot of Kitty Genovese’s out there, and whether male or female, young or old, I see this happening all the time. It gets us fired up and outraged.” A mentor for youth and would-be Superheroeshe explains, “We want to show young people an alternative to gangs, drugs and the criminal life. Saving a life is the most rewarding part of being a real life superhero. And inspiring people.”

The 35-year-old activist and founder of The Xtreme Justice League, who has a working relationship with police, was recently recognized as a key tool in the capture of the Chula Vista Groper – a man who for five years groped and possibly sexually assaulted women in the area. San Diego Deputy Mayor Rudy Ramirez commended Mr. Xtreme’s help in spreading public awareness. Ramirez said, “The work that Mr. Xtreme has done with posting the fliers certainly contributed to…the capture of the Chula Vista Groper.”

While some dismiss these Superheroes as just outfitted danger seekers, the truth is, many are soldiers for the homeless population in their neighborhood. “Zeta Kits” – Ziplock bags filled with twenty-dollars worth of ‘must-haves’ like deodorant, socks, toilet paper and lip balm, are purchased out of pocket, and passed out by Portland power couple Zetaman and Apocalypse Meow. Irony beware, during Comic-Con, while caped wannabe’s paraded their latest and greatest, winning awards and recognition, the humble RLSH population banded together on the streets in shady intersections, helping the down and out improve their luck.

Filmmaker Barnett and I continued our tete`-a-tete´ well past the first drink, adventuring about the technical and philosophical facets to life as a superhero. Listen in.

Darrah de jour: Let’s start with a technical question. What type of camera did you use?

Michael Barnett: Canon 5D mark II.

Ddj: Do you think that your film has resulted in an upsurge of real life Superheroes?

MB: Definitely. Mr. Xtreme of the Xtreme Justice League in the beginning of our film was an army of one. Now, I think there’s fifteen in his unit in San Diego and they’ve opened a branch in Oregon.

Ddj: Are there any international Superheroes?

MB: There are a ton of international Superheroes. They’re all over.

Ddj: I noticed that a lot of Superheroes in the film had a traumatic upbringing or events that turned them into crime fighters as opposed to being criminals themselves. What are your thoughts on that?

MB: I think it’s an astute observation. I don’t often make generalizations about this community because each person does it for their own reasons and they do it in their own way. But the one thing I really did discover is that by and large – not every one of them – but a large percentage, had some tragedy or trauma happen to them and it’s now manifesting itself as a need to do good for others.

Ddj: One of the Superheroes mentioned that he traded in alcohol for fighting crime. Do you think that a lot of these guys are adrenaline junkies?

MB: Some of them are adrenaline junkies, some of them abide by the law, some of them are fearful in their approach. Some of them really are in it to have a physical encounter with other people.

Ddj: Stan Lee is in the film, and he mentions that none of them have actual superhero powers and that they are putting themselves in danger. What do you think is the greatest danger they are encountering at night on patrols?

MB: These guys patrol in terrible neighborhoods. And America is hurting right now. It’s a tough time for this country. There are very dangerous places all over this country, in every city, and these guys go right to the epicenter of the worst parts of their communities. So it’s not the safest job in the world.

Ddj: Is there any level of in-fighting or politics in the group?

MB: There is. These guys do this because they’re really fed up. They’re fed up with bureaucracy and society status quo and they’re looking for a way to make grassroots change. And in the end there’s no rulebook or manifesto, so they’re trying to make their own rules as they go and they don’t always agree with each other about what those rules should be.

Ddj: A lot of them had handmade weapons. I have a list: a flashlight that doubles as a stun gun, or a 16” baton Amazonia had, a ring of Pharaoh’s fire, bear mace and a sonic grenade. Which weapon was your favorite?

MB: My favorite weapon was Master Legend’s Iron Fist. It can do incredible amounts of damage. It could be a cautionary tale and I think it will be in the near future with one of them getting hurt in a situation.

Ddj: Dark Guardian had a very protective costume. Who do you think had the most appropriate costume for crime fighting?

MB: Master Legend had a costume like a tank, a bullet proof vest, helmet, boots.

Ddj: The animation in the film made you feel like you were watching a comic book. Who did the animation?

MB: We wanted every character to have their own very distinct look. Mr. Xtreme felt very indie comic, very Ghost World. So we hired Jeremy Arambulo. New York Initiative felt very dark and sharp, so we got the well known Rev. Dave Johnson to do that. Master Legend – the art there was so beautiful. That was Andy Suriano. Captain Sticky was very retro. So we went with an old school comic book artist, Richard Pose. They drew the panels and then we handed them to Syd Garon who brought it all to life. I think fanboys will specifically respond to this film.

Ddj: I really appreciated the fact that there were multiple ethnicities reflected as well as women who are RLSH. You introduced Stan Lee talking about a comic book where a female protagonist was running in heels and he thought that her legs looked good in heels, but that wedgies would be more realistic. Was there any subliminal feminism or commentary in why you entered with that?

MB: I just thought it was very funny. Women are drawn in comics so specifically. I had fantasized as a kid about so many women in comics. Rogue from X-Men. Stan’s 90 years old and I thought it was great that he’s still so aware. I thought it was perceptive and nostalgic. He knows his audience.

Ddj: Mr. Xtreme’s family wasn’t extremely supportive of his life choice to be a RLSH. If you were a parent, how would you feel about your child being one?

MB: It would be a mixed bag. I would do everything I could to get them trained properly.

Ddj: The New York Initiative used “baiting” as a tactic during night patrols. What are your thoughts on having a flamboyant, gay character like Zimmer played to trap a homophobe? Do you think it’s ethical?

MB: It’s hard to be present for crime. The police deter crime and solve crime after it happens. Very rarely are they there for crime. You have a team of very young, ambitious, intelligent, motivated RLSH in the NYI and they don’t want to sit around and wait for crime. They want to root out criminality in a courageous way, that’s rarely been done. It was super unsafe and terrifying to shoot. They’re risking their lives.

Ddj: If you could have any superpower what would it be?

MB: The power to stop time.

Superheroesthe movie is playing on HBO and in select theatres nationwide. It’s also available on DVD. For more info visit: www.SuperheroesTheMovie.com

***

Post-feminist sex and sensuality expert Darrah de jour is a freelance journalist who lives in LA with her dog Oscar Wilde. Her writing has appeared in Marie Claire, Esquire and W. In her Red, White and Femme: Strapped With A Brain – And A Vagina columns for SuicideGirls, Darrah will be taking a fresh look at females in America. Hear her being interviewed about female sexuality on the WingGirlMethod.com, visit her blog at Darrahdejour.com/srblog, and find her on Facebook.

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Nov 2011 18

by Yashar Ali

The shocking and tragic events at Penn State that have unfolded over the past two weeks, which exposed former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky as a sexual predator, have (yet again) brought the issue of child sex abuse to the forefront of our collective consciousness.

In light of recent events, I want to discuss an issue, a behavior, that has bothered me for some time. It’s about how we encourage our kids to abandon their sense of self-trust –– their instinct and intuition –– in order to be polite by showing physical affection to adults.

How often, especially during the holidays, are children confronted with moments like this one: a relative comes to visit and the child’s parents say something like, “Now, give your uncle a hug and kiss.”


And when the child refuses to provide physical affection, or hesitates at the request, they sometimes hear things like, “You’re hurting your uncle’s feelings. It’s not polite. Now, go give him a hug and kiss.”

Some of us even remember our relatives asking us (some may say pleading or begging) for affection, “Aren’t you going to give me a hug and kiss? Please?!”

I think insisting and cajoling a child into showing physical affection towards an adult in this manner is incredibly dangerous. Whether it’s a relationship between a child and his/her relatives or one between a kid and an adult who is an acquaintance, family friend, or mentor, this type of behavior, in which children are expected to show physical affection as a sign of respect, is something I think we all need to be careful about.

When a child gives us the sense that they don’t want to be physically affectionate with someone, our tendency is to encourage the child, at that particular moment, to abandon their intuition and instinct –– it’s a small step towards the erosion of that child’s sense of self-trust. At that moment, we are telling them, “Forget about how you feel. Do something that makes you feel uncertain and uncomfortable, so that someone else (an adult) can feel acknowledged and respected.”

We are all built with a natural, innate sense of what feels right and wrong. Every species of animal is born with an instinctual drive. Unfortunately, the human species is the only one that is continually taught to ignore their instincts by their elders.

There is, however, a difference between intuition and instinct. Even though the words are often confused as synonyms for each other, there is a simple way to separate the two. We are all born with instinct, but intuition is built through education, living, and practice. Our intuition is linked to a keen and quick insight.

These two internal senses, intuition and instinct, make up my idea of self-trust. I see self-trust as related to trusting your reactions, your feelings about people, circumstances, and decisions. I see self-trust as the most authentic reactions and feelings.

I acknowledge that some kids are just being difficult, but it’s not about their motivation so much as it is about our reaction. When we initiate a process where we require boys and girls to have physical interaction even if they don’t want to, we’re also telling them to ignore their sense of self-trust. We are teaching kids that adults are in charge of who they should be and are affectionate with. We are telling them that they don’t have the right, or power to make their own decisions about human, physical interaction.

Again, it’s the little moments that create a big collective weight over time.

But my point is, no one has the right to demand affection, or an innate right to receive it, especially from a child. It’s not merely part of normal, polite interactions. It’s extra.

Insisting on a hug or a kiss may seem innocuous enough to us, as adults, but can you imagine asking, or expecting an adult to hug and kiss another adult as a way to show acknowledgement or respect?

Normally, we wouldn’t encourage two adults to have that sort of interaction because we all have a sense of what kinds of physical affection are appropriate in a given circumstance. We have a sense of what we feel comfortable with and we react according to our gut.

Why can’t we allow children to tap into this same instinctive, internal sense?

This doesn’t mean I think we should live in a society without affection. To the contrary.

But the idea that a child can be forced, guilt-tripped or cajoled into affection is disgusting to me. It’s not a light-hearted or funny moment, it’s sad. In that instance, we are telling that child to give up their physical selves in order to appease us adults, for reasons that they don’t fully understand or appreciate. Our motivation, whether it’s social embarrassment or a desire to connect with the child, puts us first, rather than thinking of them first…as it should be.

When it comes to acknowledging other people, the most we can expect from children is for them to politely and verbally greet adults. As far as I’m concerned, anything beyond that is expecting too much and is patently unfair.

Some may say that this way of handling interaction between adults and children will build up cynicism in kids, will rob them of their innocence, and will make them overly cautious of adults – or even teach them to be aloof.

Well, our childhoods have never been innocent (now or ever). One out of every four girls and one of out of every six boys will face sexual abuse before their 18th birthday. We only have to look at the numbers to understand that for many kids, there have never been bright, sunny childhoods.

For much too long, they have been filled with silent moments of sexual abuse, we just haven’t discussed them. They have been hidden away, just like the victims of Jerry Sandusky. It’s only when we shatter this myth of a childhood era of innocence that we can begin to understand what children truly face.

Sexual abuse completely revamps the blueprint of the victim’s life. Their worldview shifts, the way they process trust, how they build relationships, their sense of safety, are all permanently altered.

So, I think I’d much rather have our children be slightly cynical and aware, to encourage them to follow their sense of self-trust, and, as a result, give them a better chance of protecting themselves, than to insist that kids must show physical affection regardless of whether they feel comfortable doing so.

After all, it’s not like we’ve done our part to protect our kids, not at all. And if we have any doubt about that, all we have to do is think about Mike McQueary, looking on as that poor boy was raped in the locker room shower at Penn State.

***

Yashar Ali is a Los Angeles-based columnist, commentator, and political veteran whose writings about women, gender inequality, political heroism, and society are showcased on his website, The Current Conscience. Please follow him on Twitter and join him on Facebook

He will be soon releasing our first short e-book, entitled, A Message To Women From A Man: You Are Not Crazy — How We Teach Men That Women Are Crazy and How We Convince Women To Ignore Their Instincts. If you are interested and want to be notified when the book is released, please click here to sign-up.

Related Posts:
The Modern Day Version of “Just The Tip”
Men Who E-Maintain Women
He Doesn’t Deserve Your Validation: Putting The Fake Orgasm Out of Business
A Message To Women From A Man: You Are Not Crazy

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Nov 2011 11

by Yashar Ali


[King in Viva la TTC]

Three weeks ago, Christopher Chaney, a thirty-five year old man from Florida, was arrested by the FBI and charged with 26 counts of identity theft, unauthorized access to a protected computer, and wire-tapping. For days, Mr. Chaney’s case was splashed across the media because the victims of his illegal acts were famous women like actresses Scarlett Johannson and Mila Kunis. Mr. Chaney readily confessed to his crime and said that he had become addicted to hacking the email accounts of celebrities.

About a month earlier, Ms. Johannson had been working closely with the FBI to find the perpetrator and block the dissemination of nude and provocative photos that Christopher Chaney hacked from her cell phone/email account. These photos were personal in nature, taken in privacy, saved on her cell phone, and intended for her then-husband.

In the last few years, with the advent of social media and cellphone cameras, we have become all too familiar with the concept of hacked, leaked photos of public figures in provocative poses or in the nude. However, with the exception of the rare article, mainly in men’s magazines, we don’t often discuss how the taking of nude pictures plays out with people in everyday life. Instead, we focus on the politicians and entertainers who do it; obviously, their notoriety makes the photos much more interesting.

But it’s not just celebrities who are engaged in taking and sending sexy/nude pictures over phone and email. We, as society, are doing it. A recent survey conducted by the University of Rhode Island shows that 56 percent of college students report having received sexually explicit images via text message. That’s a sizable number.

I am talking about the idea of “sexting,” which is defined as sending explicit messages via text message and also sending nude photos through the same technology. For purposes of this column, I am specifically writing about the widespread phenomena of sharing nude pictures via text message and email.

When I asked my friend Michelle, who is 31, about whether she has ever been asked to send provocative images by her boyfriend, she replied in the affirmative: “Most of the men I’ve dated or hung out with have asked me to text them a sexy pic. And there’s no way I would do it, I wouldn’t even do for the man I marry, I don’t know where those pics are gonna end up.”

But that’s not the end of it. These men don’t just respectfully give up on the asking. As soon as Michelle would say “no,” these men would start a campaign to convince her that they deserved or needed a provocative or nude photo.

“It was kind of pathetic, they would do something nice and claim they deserved a reward (a nude picture), or they would beg repeatedly multiple times a day, hoping I would just give up.”

Of course, these men had more courage because they texted her requests for nude pictures, rather than asking her for these pictures or any other sexual act, in person.

Most of us, men and women, remember the saying, “just the tip.” Google it. And most teen-aged girls, or hell, even adult women, have heard phrases like, “Come on baby, let me just put the tip in.”

Like those requests for “just the tip,” where asking for one thing eventually leads to the full-blown act of sex, is the act of sexting images, the new or electronic version of “just the tip?”
And by the modern version of “just the tip,” I mean a process where men end up getting what they want by repeatedly begging, pressuring, and starting out small, i.e. “just the tip” or in this case, “just a quick pic.” The first picture, like “just the tip,” is merely a gateway to the whole damn thing.

While the electronic idea of “just the tip” is something women of all ages deal with, I believe, ultimately, that we should focus on how this patterning of sexting is related to the sexualization and exploitation of under-age girls — even if it’s done by underage guys. In a study conducted by Hearst Digital Media, 22 percent of teen girls (keep in mind this is girls who are willing to admit to it) say that they’ve sent sexually explicit photos to another person.

Zoe, the 20 year-old daughter of a friend, experienced the modern day version of “just the tip” with a guy she started dating when she was 18 years old (he was 22). A month after dating, her boyfriend requested a nude picture of Zoe. When she demurred, he started to beg “Come on, it would make me so happy. I want you so bad.”

The requests went on and on and on and on, so she finally sent him a provocative, but clothed photo, and he was satisfied…for an hour.

And then he said, “That was so hot, send me a picture of your tits.”

When she said no, he started to negotiate, “Okay, just one of your tits.”

She finally gave in, which initiated a negotiating process that went on for six months, in which Zoe regularly sent her boyfriend nude photos.

“It definitely made him happy, for that moment. But when I would say no, he would text me ten times, begging. It just got to be exhausting.”

Two weeks after she broke up with this guy, Zoe logged onto her Facebook to find six of the provocative (but not nude) photos she had previously sent him, posted on her profile page. It was a devastating moment for her. Zoe’s privacy was violated, she was ashamed, and of course, was subjected to ridicule by “friends” online.

According to the online ABC News article, “Study Shows Many Teens, Young Adults Share Nude Images,” over 80 percent of teens (13 and up) and over 93 percent of young adults (18-24), use cell phones. This means that millions of women, of all ages, are put in a position of being pressured and exploited in a way that we don’t seem to be concerned about: via text.

The statistics bear more problematic news. In the same survey conducted by Hearst Digital Media, one third of teen boys and 40 percent of young men have had nude pictures shared with them by someone who was not the intended recipient of the images.

So why does this epidemic, of adults and teens sending provocative or nude photos, exist? Modern technology obviously lends convenience to the ease through which nude pictures can be sent and study after study proves that men need more visual stimulation than women. But I think we are dealing with a problem here because the double-edge sword of women’s sexuality often prevents them from talking about this issue openly with other women and as a result, it hinders them from finding solutions or strategies for managing and combating the pressures and requests for sending provocative or nude pictures.

Often, frustrating male behavior related to sexual activities is a common point of discussion between women. However, when it comes to men requesting nude cell-phone pictures, there is a lack of community amongst women when it comes to actively and openly discussing the pressures and possibilities of sending such pictures.

Without this sense of community and opportunities to talk, women are just facing yet another sexual pressure, alone. This widespread plea for nude pictures shows that we still lack respect for women’s bodies and sexuality (whether its about their boundaries or their desires) and that it remains a major issue. The concept of “no means no” has yet to be acknowledged by too many men. For most guys, “no” simply means a gateway to “yes” — kind of like a child’s behavior with a parent, where the kid hopes repeated begging will lead to the adult caving in.

Does “just the tip”/nude photos, or any other form of pressured sexual contact have to do with the fact that we give men the impression that as long as they are not raping a woman, everything else, including pressured requests, is okay?

I am not surprised that most women avoid talking with other women in their lives about the idea of sending nude photos to men. After all, women still have to contend with a double-edge sword when it comes to their sexuality. Some women are on the receiving end of pressure to do things they don’t feel comfortable doing, and when they do things that aren’t part of an acceptable (according to societal norms) set of sexual activities, they are vilified by other people.

Seventeen year-old, high school senior, Mayron Gezaw, of Fairfax, Virginia, put it perfectly when she told The Associated Press that she heard a classmate shared a nude photo with her boyfriend through text, “The whole class was sharing it by the end of the day. …The guys said, ‘She’s so hot.’ The girls were more like, ‘I feel sorry for the girl,’ or they just lost all respect [for the girl].”

The question I have is: when is the person requesting those provocative/nude pictures going to have his respect diminished?

***

Yashar Ali is a Los Angeles-based columnist, commentator, and political veteran whose writings about women, gender inequality, political heroism, and society are showcased on his website, The Current Conscience. Please follow him on Twitter and join him on Facebook

He will be soon releasing our first short e-book, entitled, A Message To Women From A Man: You Are Not Crazy — How We Teach Men That Women Are Crazy and How We Convince Women To Ignore Their Instincts. If you are interested and want to be notified when the book is released, please click here to sign-up.

Related Posts:
Men Who E-Maintain Women
He Doesn’t Deserve Your Validation: Putting The Fake Orgasm Out of Business
A Message To Women From A Man: You Are Not Crazy

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Nov 2011 08

by Darrah de jour

Republicans Meet Muslims Halfway, In Bed

If you remember, in my last column, I reported on the New Jersey Republican state senate candidate who relegated his Twitter account to a Joyce Brothers-style dating advice forum. He targeted us rambunctious women by advising us via tweet that if we want to keep our man, we should be “faithful, a lady in the living room and a whore in the bedroom.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t need a 40-something real estate dude chiming in on what I do between the sheets. Or in the back seat. Not to mention, the idea of putting my own needs aside, in an act that is supposed to be about both partners’ satisfaction and connection (or simply for two or more hot and sticky bodies to reach nirvana via some nerve bundles) to serve the man solely. Seems like, how do you say it? Bullshit.

Unless your job is to get paid for sex – you probably want to enjoy it. And since when did a ring on your finger or a nice bouquet of flowers equal whoredom?

Scarier Than Who Killed Amanda Palmer

Malaysia recently made international headlines for starting a “club” not unlike your grandmother’s knitting circle. Only, The Obedient Wives Club teaches Muslim women to reinforce their role at home. National director Fauziah Ariffin stresses that “in Islam there are four things that wives must do to enter Heaven: to pray, to fast during Ramadan, to protect their chastity, and to be obedient wives – and it is often the fourth aspect that modern wives neglect.”

She goes on, “Husbands should treat their wives like first-class prostitutes.”

Huh? Wait, I’m sensing a common thread here. Basically, over in America, GOP national candidate Mitsch tells us we should be a whore in the bedroom to win our man’s fidelity. And clear ’cross town in Southeast Asia, women are taught, via this version of Islam, that they should – be a whore in the bedroom to win their man’s fidelity.

Ariffin continues, “Our wives provide men with top-level service. However, ordinary prostitutes can only provide good sex, but not love and affection which only a wife can provide.

“Hence, as wives, we must treat our husbands better. It’s not just in bed, but everything that a wife can offer. Optimise [sic] your role. If we provide our husbands more than a prostitute can give, then our husbands will not go out looking for it.”

OK, gotcha. So, not just any prosy* will do. It should be a top-level one. Because let’s not leave out classism. Escort party-people. The kind you and I would be. Not that other kind that the poor are.

Fauziah reasoned that obedient wives will not cause husbands to take their partner for granted, but in fact, it will make them better husbands.

“When a husband comes home and receives good treatment from the wife, they become better and more loving husbands. Why would they treat their spouse badly if they are treated well?” she said.

I would ask Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that one.

Even scarier, OWC has launched in Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Britain and France.

This didactic schooling of women, which is pervasive and dates back to whenever it was that witches were broiled and our new patron saint was supposedly a virgin, begs many questions. First off, I can’t help but wonder, why are women told to think sex is bad but harassed to ‘give it up’? Wouldn’t it be smarter to convince us that sex is wonderful, and then prove it patiently and methodically? And, if men are indeed so horny all the time, then why are we whores if we give them what they need in order for them not to ‘get it’ from somebody else?

Perhaps, it has something to do with his voracious sexuality spinning him into a state of utter nonsensical frenzy. This unique, untamed erotic animal roaring to be freed. Into as many different women’s anatomies as possible.

If so, then why are we spending so much time trying to tame women – who apparently have less sex drive than men do? And if sex is dirty, then women are closer to God by virtue of our virtue, so why are we not being worshipped like men are?

Crazy times. Roll with it, dude.

Oh! Ariffin also hypothesizes that, by wives following the above guidelines, rape and incest rates will lower – proving a total lack of understanding around why rape and incest actually occur: control, fear, cycles of violence. And societal breeding. A breeding of entitlement made worse by factions like this encouraging women should neglect their own needs and “service” their mates. (P.S.: A lot of men are visiting sex workers to be led around on a leash and done in the backside with a dildo. Let’s be clear – men often visit prostitutes to live out fantasies they can’t explore at home. I’m not saying wives should don a catsuit, but when we lower stigmas around sexuality in society, perhaps we will also lower rates of cheating. And the less we proselytize to women for exploring their inner sexual voice – maybe, just maybe – fewer women will use sex work as a means to discovering it.)

Sicker Than Secretary, But Not In That Yummy Conscious Way

In case you were itching to know… the men in Malaysia are encouraged to join the male version of the Obedient Wives Club. The Polyamory Club. Founded by Global Ikhwan Sdn Bhd – a multi-national conglomerate – the controversial Polygamy Club, which opened in 2009, persuades husbands to take more than one wife to satisfy their masculine desires.

Hold the phone. Women are encouraged to be obedient and servile to keep their man and men are encouraged to hunt for more wives? Yup. Roll with it. You’re just along for the ride. Right?

Or maybe…

Girl Zone Loan

Women, let’s stop being so fucking judgmental of one another. If we continue to allow men like this to dictate our morality, we will shrink our ovaries, lose our clitorises, have feet like lotus flowers and hang out in the kitchen more than the board room. We’ll walk around topless and ogled, yet handcuffed to chastity.

I say – say it loud. Say it proud. I like sex and I’m a woman. I won’t be put on mute. I won’t be turned into a meek sexless coward by a Fascist moral dictatorship. I am an erotic Goddess. Now, hubby, please rub my feet. I had a long day at work. And there are more of me than you in the workplace right now. And I make up 51% of the nation. And I’ve served you long enough.

*Prosy is slang for prostitute and was directly lifted from Secret Diary of a Call Girl with Billie Piper. Go rent it.

***

Post-feminist sex and sensuality expert Darrah de jour is a freelance journalist who lives in LA with her dog Oscar Wilde. Her writing has appeared in Marie Claire, Esquire and W. In her Red, White and Femme: Strapped With A Brain – And A Vagina columns for SuicideGirls, Darrah will be taking a fresh look at females in America. Visit her blog at Darrahdejour.com/srblog and find her on Facebook.

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Nov 2011 04

by Yashar Ali


[Xtine in Dr. X-Girlfriend]

My friend Karen (all names changed to protect privacy) was confused and frustrated when she called me on a Friday night.

About a year ago, she met a guy, Michael, through work. They met a few times for drinks with colleagues and then one night, she met him for dinner, which ended with the two of them “hooking up” (whatever that means).

She liked Michael a lot, and wanted to see him again.

After they had dinner, a week went by when Karen got a text message from Michael, “What’s up? How are you?”

She was happy; he wanted to hang out again.

Now, Karen wishes that was the last time she ever heard from him.

As she explained the manner in which she and Michael were communicating, I realized Karen was dealing with a situation several other women very recently talked to me about.

Since their last night together, Michael kept in touch with Karen on a regular basis. Every couple of weeks, Karen received a text or email from him. The messages always started out the same way, “What’s up?”

Karen would always respond.

“How are you?”

“Good, what’s up with you?”

Karen would proceed to fill him in on her life and Michael would always respond with the same short answer, “That’s cool.”

After one or two text messages, Michael would usually disappear. But a couple of weeks later, he would show up again. Sometimes their conversations would go deeper — ten minutes of texting back and forth. Karen would find hope in those longer texting sessions, thinking that he was finally engaging with her.

Michael would sometimes get more creative, giving Karen the impression he cared about her and her life.

“What’s up? How was your holiday weekend?”

“What’s up? Saw your Facebook post, so funny.”

A couple times he even texted, “We should have dinner soon.”

But every time Karen agreed to dinner, Michael would tell her about his really busy month at work, delaying the need to schedule a real date. Then, he would never follow up.

This faux-relationship wasn’t going anywhere and Karen was left feeling confused and frustrated about Michael’s intentions.

But these sporadic texts weren’t even about sex. Michael never even proposed any sort of rendezvous. And Karen’s motivation was certainly not friendship. “I have enough friends,” she said.

“He’s not even trying to sleep with me, what’s the point of all this?”

I told her, “Karen you’re being e-maintained”

“Is that an official term?” she laughed.

The week before, I had come up with the term as a joke, but the idea actually made sense. Michael was maintaining her — keeping her, in his mind, satisfied — and he was doing it electronically.

My friend Julia was dealing with the same issue. She was subject to these short, rapid bursts of texting with men on a consistent basis and she always got her hopes up that something was moving forward, but there was nothing. No substance at all.

“Are these actual adult men with responsibilities or are they children? I can’t figure it out,” she said to me.

I’ve always been fascinated, and disgusted, by the notion that in order to be happy, women need to be “maintained” in a sexual and/or romantic relationship. This kind of treatment of women is on par with our taking care of a car in need of an oil change or dealing with a wood deck in the backyard in need of a coat of varnish.

The concept of maintaining women is billed, through the conditioning our culture imposes on men, as a solution to keep women from being hysterical. According to mainstream social ideas, women are illogical and crazy when it comes to relationships and dating. Men engage in conscious maintenance as a way to “calm” women down so they can get what they want from their women partners (sex, attention, etc.).

This is why so many men are in a rush to cram their love and affection into holidays, birthdays, anniversaries. We don’t teach men or boys that day-to-day affection is equally, if not more important, than special dates.

And what has always been alarming to me is that this so-called maintenance of women has defined behavior that shouldn’t be considered “extra” in any kind of relationship or partnership. Acts of maintenance consist of behavior that should be inherent and the foundation of all relationships: basic human respect, affection and attention.

So, if men are taught about certain critical steps to keeping women happy, “duties” that are treated not as normal behavior, but as annoying, time-consuming steps, how does this make women feel?

My friends, who are or were dealing with e-maintaining, or even just dealing with good-old-fashioned maintaining, are left in a strange, emotional limbo. Women who are “maintained” by men, electronic or otherwise, are made to feel legitimate for short periods of time and then left to question their position with their partners, and sometimes themselves.

Are these women supposed to be happy with a guy who stays in touch every-so-often on his terms? Are they supposed to be satisfied when their spouse buys them an expensive piece of jewelry or remembers their anniversary? Even though their love and/or attention come in waves — inconsistent and sometimes abrupt — are my women friends ungrateful for expecting something more, something more substantial, something more basic? Does any form of maintaining make up for days, weeks, months, years of emotional silence from men?

We’ve always conditioned men to maintain women — this isn’t something new. What’s different is this “maintenance” has become completely electronic for some men, and the men doing the “maintaining” aren’t seeing or even making an effort to see the women they connecting with. Men are just texting, emailing or using social media to give the impression they are checking in or they care — in order to maintain these women.

For these men, the definition of “maintenance” has shifted from traditional strategies like sending gifts and engaging in the occasional dinner, drinks or movie, to this incredibly convenient and empty form of communication based on text messages, emails, and social media: e-maintaining. And it is a mode of communication that isn’t even based in reality.

For some of my women friends, this kind of texting/emailing communication was keeping them engaged until they discovered what e-maintaining really means.

Some of the men I spoke with didn’t even realize their e-maintaining of women was a pattern of behavior. Most of them admitted to doing it when they were bored: waiting at the doctor’s office, in bed at night when they couldn’t sleep, at the airport.

But many of these men knew exactly what they were doing.

“You can’t write about this, you are literally ruining the greatest scam of the century,” my friend Carlos told me over breakfast.

“What’s the scam?”

“I can keep these women satisfied by just texting or emailing. I don’t have to do anything else.”

“It’s like walking a dog, as soon as you do it, they just calm down,” a progressive friend (more on that later) told me via email that same day.

So why not move forward, especially if some of these women are willing to sleep with them?

“Its about options, possibilities,” a friend added.

“I do this because I don’t want to hear her bitching about how I just call about sex, so this way I have a history of having stayed in touch.”

My friend Josh gave an example, “Last Thanksgiving when everyone was out of town, I had someone to hookup with, we even went to the movies.”

In this age of digital communication (texting, Facebook, email), our way of connecting has obviously become more frivolous. While our random, electronic check-ins with friends are usually made with good intentions, the men who engage in e-maintaining don’t want to be friends with the women they text and email (the women don’t want friendship either), and more significantly, their texting is not filled with good intentions.

So, is e-maintaining ultimately about men and women placing different weight on communication? Do women believe that communication is about moving forward — are they being practical and mature? And do men see communication in this form in a more flippant manner, that it doesn’t necessarily lend legitimacy to their desired outcomes?

Is e-maintaining more evidence of gender imbalance in our culture? Does this virtual maintenance of women show the lack of respect our culture requires or expects men to have for women?

Last week, I checked in with Karen to see if she was still pining for Michael and frustrated by his e-maintaining.

She has moved on.

And from now on, Karen’s policy is very simple when it comes to communicating with the men she is interested in, “Where’s the beef?”

The lack of substance in an e-maintained relationship no longer satisfies her.

***

Yashar Ali is a Los Angeles-based columnist, commentator, and political veteran whose writings about women, gender inequality, political heroism, and society are showcased on his website, The Current Conscience. Please follow him on Twitter and join him on Facebook

He will be soon releasing our first short e-book, entitled, A Message To Women From A Man: You Are Not Crazy — How We Teach Men That Women Are Crazy and How We Convince Women To Ignore Their Instincts. If you are interested and want to be notified when the book is released, please click here to sign-up.

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A Message To Women From A Man: You Are Not Crazy

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Nov 2011 01

by Darrah de jour


[Above: Amanda Palmer performing Science Fiction/Double Feature (from The Rocky Horror Picture Show) on Craig Ferguson (10/31) with Moby, Stephin Merritt (The Magnetic Fields) and Neil Gaiman.]

The unlikely, but delightful newly wed Gaiman-Palmer duo hit the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles on Halloween night kicking off what will be a five-city West Coast mini-tour, which will stop off in San Francisco (11/4), Vancouver (11/6), Portland (11/8) and Seattle (11/9).

On the heels of performing with Moby and Stephen Merritt, along with an admittedly “uncomfortable” Gaiman on keyboards, on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson earlier that day, the twosome were introduced at the Ebell by rad chick comic Margaret Cho (who likened her life-long affection for rice-paper wrapped white bunny candies to her fondness for uncircumcised penises). Taking the stage in black and white wedding-esque attire Amanda and Neil began a rowdy costume contest. Audience members, hand-selected by Cho, took to the stage and accepted varying levels of applause, which determined the ultimate winner: a gay male couple dressed as twin-rabbits. Creepy masks. The prize? Signed merch and a rather random bottle of balsamic purloined from a Craig Ferguson hospitality basket.

The British scary story writer and Dresden Dolls founder and lead-singer met while collaborating on Palmer’s macabre art/photo book Who Killed Amanda Palmer– a collection of photographs of a dead-Palmer – taken by Palmer, over a period of 14 years. Gaiman explains how this undertaking brought them together. Read, also, his latest plight: to help artists create wills for their literary estates.

A charmingly disorganized night filled with on-stage, off-mic banter, impromptu song and reading plans, and even a cue-card Q&A of previously scribbled audience questions proved utterly lavish in this overly-synchronized Lady Gaga lights/Chris Brown firework world of perfectly framed modernity. Not to mention, the love between these two is palpable. (They pecked between songs, and when Gaiman forgot his lyric sheet, Palmer hurriedly scribbled lines on a ripped piece of paper with Sharpie, handed it to him and ran back to her piano. A gesture which prompted Gaiman to proclaim aloud: “I love her.”)

NYC-native Palmer sang a cover of “Science Fiction/Double Feature” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show along with originals “Runs in the Family,” “Judy Blume,” and latest Twitter-fan-aided ode to 4-stringed, anti-Fascist Machine-killing machine, her I.O.C., “Ukulele Anthem.” The 35-year old outspoken bisexual even sang “Satellite of Love” for the nearing birthday-boy (Neil turns 50 on November 10th), and the couple did a tongue-in-cheek duet of the standard “Makin’ Whoopee.” Neil read a few poems and a Halloween story he wrote for The New York Times, as well as a silly torch song he’d penned lyrics for (“I Google You“) about heartbreak and computers replacing the ‘cigarettes and bar-fly’ mentality that pervaded society for so long. Charming Australian duo The Jane Austen Argument opened.

The tour is being recorded thanks to fan funding from a Kickstarter campaign, which surpassed its $20,000 goal by $113,000+. In fact, much of the connection Palmer has with her fans stems from her DIY, grass-roots use of technology: blogging, free music sites, Twitter. There, she communicates and even beckons help from them (like during her “ReBellyon” – a record company dispute with Roadrunner Records which was sparked when they edited a belly shot out of a music video because they felt she looked “fat”).

A standing ovation for the two geek and goth faves, was followed by a chaotic merch signing session. Trying to organize the ridiculously large throng that was packed into the relatively small foyer, Palmer stood on a table, barefoot, as she attempted to figure out how the hell she and her husband were going to sign stuff for the mass of fans before the theatre’s 11.30 PM curfew.

***

Review via darrahdejour.com

Post-feminist sex and sensuality expert Darrah de jour is a freelance journalist who lives in LA with her dog Oscar Wilde. Her writing has appeared in Marie Claire, Esquire and W. In her Red, White and Femme: Strapped With A Brain – And A Vagina columns for SuicideGirls, Darrah will be taking a fresh look at females in America. Visit her blog at Darrahdejour.com/srblog and find her on Facebook.

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Oct 2011 31

By Nicole Powers

“It limits women…from aspiring to be great things.”
– Jennifer Siebel Newsom

As Americans, we like to think of ourselves as advanced and sophisticated as a society. Yet, when it comes to issues of gender equality the numbers don’t lie –– there’s no escaping the fact that we’re pretty damn backwards.

Women make up 51% of the US population, yet hold just 16.6% of the seats in Congress and 17% of those in the Senate. Indeed, we rank 90th in the world in terms of the proportion of women in national parliaments, below Afghanistan, Cuba, China, Ethiopia, Iraq, and the Sudan!

Furthermore, in America, just 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Similarly only 3% of positions of clout in the telecommunications, entertainment, publishing, and advertising industries are held by the fairer sex (pun intended). And this may be part of the problem, since those that are ultimately responsible for the aspirational messages we receive on a daily basis are predominantly male.

That’s not to say that the innate sexism that’s partly responsible for this power imbalance is necessarily malevolent or even intentional; the root of much of it is simply a lack of consciousness on all our parts. And to an extent, the state of play appears to be self-perpetuating, since a mere 16% of those responsible for Hollywood’s mass market dream machine (writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, and editors) are women, which in turn perhaps explains a similar lack of female protagonists/role models in feature films.

A much talked about new documentary, Miss Representation, which recently debuted on the OWN Network, does a very comprehensive job of exploring the underlying reasons for this vast leadership gender gap. The film features many prominent leading ladies including Nancy Pelosi, Condoleezza Rice, Dianne Feinstein, Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, Geena Davis, Rachel Maddow, Lisa Ling, and Katie Couric, whose powerful voices add strength to the message –– which is that a woman’s value is more than just the sum of her youth and beauty (as the mainstream media might have you believe).

SuicideGirls spoke with the driving force behind Miss Representation, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who wrote, directed, and produced the exceptional cinematic gender essay. As a Stanford graduate, environmental and gender activist, actress, and mother –– who also happens to be the wife of the former Mayor of San Francisco, and current Lieutenant Governor of California, Gavin Newsom –- she’s had a front row seat watching what happens to women in power and how the media treats them, so perhaps has a greater understanding of the issues they face than most.

Read our exclusive interview with Jennifer Siebel Newsom on SuicideGirls.com.

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