Saturday, January 30, 2010

TRIVIA: Voices of Feminism - On Lesbian Existence and the Future of Lesbianism

[this image of a lovely lesbian family is from here

The portion of what follows, between the sets of three asterisks, can be linked to directly by clicking on the next sentence that begins with the word "TRIVIA:"...
*     *     *
TRIVIA: Voices of Feminism - where women's ideas can assume their original power and significance

Welcome to Trivia: Voices of Feminism, issue 10

Are Lesbians Going Extinct?

Trivia 10, edited by Lise Weil and Betsy Warland, the longest and possibly most thought-provoking issue we've published to date, features seventeen writers responding to the question "Are Lesbians Going Extinct?". Trivia 11: "Are Lesbians Going Extinct"#2, also edited by Weil and Warland, will appear in September 2010. Click here to submit [material for that second issue on this same topic.]

*     *     *
Lesbianism, in many forms, exists world-wide. Here is a video about a story of two white women from the U.S., who were both lesbian-identified and partnered, with a daughter who was their child. Until one woman was "born-again" as an allegedly heterosexual Christian woman.

I've been concerned about this for years. I'm glad there's now finally a published extensive discussion about it. Too many women I know who, at one time, would have happily called themselves lesbian (and radically feminist), are now being railroaded. By whom? A collection of forces:
These and other forces seen to undermine lesbianism as a non-masculinist (not "anti-man"!!) humane sexual relational reality and a political stance of being loving to and with other women (not "man-hating"!!). These forces accomplish this in many ways, in many social spheres. One method is to encourage women who are lesbian-identified to unname themselves as such. Why? And whose interests, politically, are served by this happening? Not mine as a gay man, I'll tell you that. And not the political, social, psychological, and spiritual interests of any lesbian who I know.

I'm not a believer in "woman" as a biological category. So let me state that up front. I do not believe women are born, or that there is such a thing as a "Woman Born Woman", which is a term that has always confused me as a profeminist gay dude. First, women are adults, and babies aren't. So I don't believe any woman born as such. Second, I'm of the tradition that gender is made, with force by "men" against people designated as "not men" or "not manly enough". This means some people get to call themselves men and use entitlements and privileges, as well as many forms of unearned power to enact this reality as an identity against human beings of various genetic, hormonal, biological characteristics. The clusters of characteristics do not "two genders" make. Except by force, and through brainwashing. Mammals may well tend to be two-sexed by nature, with many variations among those two. But "gender"--the social meaning of those variations or lack thereof, is "man-made" much the way race is "white-man-made" with force, by "whites" against people designated as being "not white". Except with gender the violence is far more intimate across the globe, as the oppressors are raised to believe they should be taken care of intimately, throughout their whole lives, from birth to death, by those they oppress.

I don't believe that gayness or lesbianism are ahistorical or acultural phenomena, any more than I believe heterosexuality is. "Heterosexuality" is a social-political and profoundly compulsory construct, enacted and acted out with great force. Without these forces, heterosexuality, manhood, and whiteness would not and could not exist. And anyone who doubts this: show me any society in which any of those social realities exist, where force is not used against those who "don't fit" the category. Whites require genocide and oppression of people of color to have social meaning, merit, status, and significance--as well as the maintenance of privileges, entitlements, and power-over those they oppress. Men require gynocide, rape, and other forms of oppression of women to have social meaning, merit, status, and significance--as well as the maintenance of privileges, entitlements, and power-over those they oppress. The same is true of heterosexuals, although female heterosexuals don't ever get through life without facing the violence and disdain of men, in one form or many.

As long as any patriarchal society exists; as long as male supremacy exists as an acted out ideology, against the minds and bodies and spirits of women and girls, and anyone deemed "feminine"; as long as men rape women: "subject verb object", asC. A. MacKinnon famously wrote; as long as there is sexual slavery in which men steal, buy, rent, and traffick girls and women; as long as prostitution is assumed by men to be "harmless"; as long as battery of women by the men who love them exists; and as long as women love women; especially the latter: as long as "designated female at birth, girl-raised women" love other "designated female at birth, girl-raised women", lesbianism ought to exist. That's my viewpoint and I'm sticking to it. It will obviously have many names in many languages. And how it is expressed will vary culturally. And the white way ought not be "the" way it is expressed or named, but just one of many ways. But it must exist. Lesbian-feminism must exist, at least until patriarchy is long dead with no signs of resurrection. Or until no woman is capable of loving another woman as a full human being.

Friday, January 29, 2010

For Pimps: Silence Please; It's Time for the Women Who Left Your Sorry Male Supremacist Asses on the Curb, to Speak Out Without Apologising for the Likes of YOU

[image from the XPALSS website is from here]

The following is a statement by the women of XPALLS. It is from *here* at their website. The "sex liberal" gig is up for white, privileged folks to speak FOR raped women, mostly poor and of color, in and now out of those heinous systems of male privilege and power used against and on female bodies who happen to also have souls that desire more than "better conditions" at "work" that is oppressive to all women as a class of people made to serve men in so many hideous and compulsory ways.

About Us

Statement by members of:

Ex-Prostitutes Against Legislated Sexual Servitude

As women who have been prostituted in Vancouver and in the light of these facts:
  • That current discourse on prostitution would have the public believe that it is normal work that simply needs to be better regulated
  • That there is currently a proposal to open a legal brothel in Vancouver
  • That this proposal is said to speak for current and former prostitutes of Vancouver
  • That this proposal promises to make the lives of prostituted women “safer” at best
  • That none of us have ever met a prostituted woman who would not leave the “trade” if she had a real chance to do so
  • That we are women who have been abused on Canadian soil, by Canadian men while all levels of  our Government did nothing to intervene.
  • That some members of parliament are now advocating to legalize that abuse.
We want you to know:

We are women who have been harmed by prostitution.  We believe that no amount of changing the conditions or the locations in which we were prostituted could ever have significantly reduced that harm. We experience the normalizing of that harm by calling it “work” insulting at best.

It matters very little to us whether we were prostituted on the streets or in the tolerated indoor venues and escort agencies of Vancouver.  Our memories are not of the locations but of the men who consistently acted as though we were not quite human.  We remember the countless other men and women who daily averted their eyes.  We remember the utter lack of services or options that made any sense and the blatant denial of access to any kind of help or justice.  We remember the need to “dumb down” our sense of entitlement to a better life so we could  bear the one we were in.  And we remember too well the numbing despair that came when we finally lost faith that there existed in this world anything decent and good.

We oppose any measure that would put more power in the hands of the men who abused us by telling them that they are legally entitled to do so.  This proposal does not speak for us, would not have affected our level of safety in a way that matters, and would not have spared us the harm that is inherent in prostitution.

We are not impressed with lip service proposals to make prostituted women’s lives “safer”.   Safer is not good enough.  We consider it a violation of our human rights that we were abandoned to years of situations that fit the definition of sexual assault under current law.  But not only is this violence not recorded, not prosecuted, not punished. We are now being told that we chose it.

We believe that, where there is public and political will, lives can be changed for the better.  We do not believe the lie that prostitution is inevitable. We believe it can be abolished.

As hosts of the 2010 games, we want our city, our home, to refuse to take part in the global flesh market that is sex tourism and send a message to the world that women will not be sold in Vancouver.

We believe that every sexually exploited woman represents a life wasted.   We are greatly saddened for the lives of women lost in prostitution, as well as the loss of the sum of the contributions that countless women still living would have made had they not been abandoned to sexual slavery.

We urge you all to refuse to believe that prostitution is normal or that it is an equal exchange ”between two consenting adults”.  We urge you to oppose any attempt to introduce a legal brothel in Vancouver.
© 2009
last updated February 2009

How to Speak Truth to Oppressive Institutional Power: the case of Kevin Annett and the Canadian Church

[image of steel cross is from *here*]

What follows is from *here*.

Hidden from History:
The Canadian Holocaust

An Open Letter to Brian Thorpe, Head Officer of the United Church of Canada

Sun, 28 Apr 2002 (EDT)
Dear Mr. Thorpe,

In March, 1997, I was expelled from my livelihood as an ordained minister in your church because of public allegations I made concerning the murder of native children and other criminal acts by staff at your Port Alberni "Indian residential school".

Until yesterday, you and your church vehemently denied that such crimes occurred in these schools. But now that eyewitnesses to these murders have spoken out on national television, on CTV's "First Story" program on April 27, you have quickly reversed your position and stated on air,

"We know that criminal acts occurred in the residential schools ... anything is possible."

I feel personally grateful that you have finally exonerated me by this acknowledgment of the criminal actions and liability of your church. I therefore look forward to a full and public apology by you - as one of the officials who arranged my firing without cause and expulsion from ministry - for the wrongs done by you to my family and I, including your years-long campaign to discredit and libel me for claiming what you yourself have finally acknowledged.

Beyond this, however, your admission of guilt requires that you now respond to the Diplomatic Summons issued to you by a United Nations body, IHRAAM, on May 22, 1998 - a Summons you ignored - which required that you testify before a War Crimes Tribunal concerning the criminal acts which you have now acknowledged occurred in your church's residential schools.

Accordingly, as the former Advisor to this Tribunal, I demand that you publicly answer these questions which were to be asked of you at the IHRAAM War Crimes Tribunal:

1. Did your church plan and perpetrate the planned extermination of non-Christian aboriginal peoples in league with the Canadian state, including through the deliberate exposure of native children to tuberculosis, sexual sterilisation programs, land theft, murder, torture, and other acts designed to destroy native lives and culture?

2. Did more than 50,000 children die as a direct result of these actions by your church, and the Catholics and Anglicans, as government records indicate?

3. Do you acknowledge that your church has engaged in deliberate and joint cover-up of these crimes with the federal government since at least 1960, as your own lawyer Mr. Hinkson admitted in a Nanaimo court room in October, 1998? (The Province, October 27, 1998)

4. Did you, without my knowledge or permission, and with the encouragement of church lawyer Jon Jessiman, take personal documents of mine out of my briefcase at a Vancouver press conference on September 3, 1997 -documents which proved the legal liability of your church for crimes at the Alberni residential school? Are you aware that your and Mr. Jessiman's action was recorded by a Cable 4 TV crew?

5. Do you have any knowledge of a native pedophile ring which operates out of The Vancouver Club and originated in your Alberni residential school, and which involves senior United Church lawyers and officers who are associated with you?

6. Did you pay members of the Ahousat band council over $7,000 to disassociate themselves from myself and Chief Earl George after we had discovered and made public that your church had illegally sold ancestral land of the Ahousats to persons associated with your church's corporate benefactor, the logging company MacMillan-Bloedel?

7. As Chief Officer of the United Church in BC in 1995, did you order or have knowledge of the destruction of records from the R.W. Large Memorial Hospital in Bella Bella, B.C., which documented the sterilisation of thousands of non-Christian native men and women by your church's medical missionary, Dr. George Darby sr., between 1923 and 1962?

8. Why did you personally arrange the "de-listing" trial that expelled me from my livelihood in United Church ministry after having stated in writing to me in September, 1995, "There are no charges against you"?

9. Why is your church exonerating and publicly defending convicted serial rapists in your ranks, such as "Reverend" Russell Crossley of Victoria?

10. As a fiduciary officer of the United Church of Canada, are you willing to surrender all information and evidence in the possession of your church pertaining to any criminal and genocidal acts and intentions by the United Church towards aboriginal people in Canada?

11. Will your church surrender itself and those guilty of genocide and other criminal acts to the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court, for having committed all five definitions of "genocide" contained in the U.N. Convention on Genocide which the Canadian government ratified in 1952?

12. Why should Canadian taxpayers continue to subsidize your church through allowing it a tax-free charitable status when it, and its officers, have engaged and are engaging in such crimes, cover-ups, lies, and Genocidal acts?

The world awaits your public reply.


Rev. Kevin D. Annett
Secretary, The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada

cc: world media
The World Council of Churches
The UN Human Rights Commission
The Assembly of First Nations

Let Us Prey: a story of a WHM rapist priest, and another anti-racist/pro-Indigenist WHM priest: Guess which one is Celebrated and which one is Despised?

[This is the cover of the book reporting on the atrocities committed against Indigenous People in Canada, perpetrated by the WHM Supremacist Christian Church; this and more about this book may be found *here @*]

What follows was found at Censored News, posted there by Brenda Norrell. Thank you, Brenda. -- Julian

Let Us Prey: A Tale of Two Clergymen

Let Us Prey: A Tale of Two Clergymen
By Hidden from History

Reverend Russell Crossley raped women and even young girls for over thirty years before he was arrested. The truth is he was caught right away, in the mid 1960’s, when as a young clergyman in the United Church of Canada he was named as a rapist by one of the parishioners whom he had assaulted.

The church lawyers gathered and convinced the victim not to press charges against Russell. Then they had him moved to another unsuspecting parish in Ontario, where he started raping all over again.

That went on for decades. Each time, after the latest rape, someone would come forward and spill the beans, and she would be silenced and Russell was shielded by the church and quietly shuffled to another group of innocent lambs. The rapes and cover up went on, and on.

The rapist was nearing retirement years when his past finally caught him, thanks to the persistence of one of his victims, who wouldn’t be silenced. She pressed charges, along with others Russell had assaulted, including an (at the time) under age minor. The RCMP threatened and cajoled these latest victims, but they wouldn’t stop. And so reluctantly, in the spring of 1998, the cops arrested Russell and he faced trial in Victoria, BC, where he enjoyed a “prospering ministry” at Metropolitan United Church.

His trial revealed the kind of friends Russell had, Including former United Church Moderators, RCMP Superintendents, and other prominent men who stepped forward to give character references for the rapist. Church people poured out their empathy for Crossley, not for those innocents he had violated. And so, dutifully, the judge slapped Russell’s wrist with a six month prison term, most of which he didn’t serve.

After he walked free from prison, Russell resumed his ministry; indeed, he had remained on salary with the church even after having been convicted of rape and assault. Elated, his congregation and the B.C. Conference of the United Church lauded him with testimonial dinners and awards for “thirty five years of successful ministry”. And Russell continued in the pulpit until the fall of 2008, when he finally retired, on full pension.

By way of a contrast: During exactly the same time, and in the same church body, where Russell Crossley was being exonerated for his crime, Kevin Annett faced ostracism, persecution, expulsion and professional ruination for having named some of the United Church’s dirty secrets involving stolen native land and murdered Indian kids.

Kevin Annett too was a United Church minister, although with none of the institutional pull of Russell. He had never sat on the church’s national governing body or written the church’s books and faith statement documents, as had Russell. Nor did he number as his friends RCMP Commissioners or politicians.

Kevin is not a convicted rapist, as is Russell. But now Kevin is an officially defrocked United Church minister and Russell is not. Kevin faces daily slandering and defamation from the church and its allies, and Russell does not.

Kevin is still a “man to be avoided” by respectable church society, and Russell is officially admired, and honored.

A cynical or perhaps clear-seeing man might conclude that it pays to do the wrong thing, not the right, in the
church of Jesus Christ – or at least, in the United Church of Canada.

Perhaps Kevin’s main mistake was not knowing what he part of. Nothing that his Sunday school teacher or seminary instructors taught him prepared him for the fact that rape, murder and most other beastly crimes go on with impunity in the Christian churches, and even in the all-Canadian, liberal-seeming United Church: and that these crimes seem to be valued, and certainly not punished.

Yet experience is a cruel teacher, and Kevin certainly received enough clues along the way about the actual nature of official Christianity, one of the most memorable being when a United Church lawyer named Paul Mills, when told by Kevin of drug dealing and prostitution going on in the Toronto Fred Victor Mission where he worked, said simply, “I know about all that. The only problem here is that you wrote a letter about it.”

Perhaps the real problem all goes back to Genesis, and the odd Christian notion of “fallen innocence”, of how there is something suspect in anything that is good, untouched, and seemingly unblemished. There can’t be, after all, in a “cursed” world like ours. And so wherever it manifests, innocence is a mockery to Christianity’s entire faith and weltanschaung, whether that’s the untouched splendor of an unlogged rain forest, or the unalloyed integrity of one man, or the happy cries of a child who isn’t like us. And so that purity must be crushed.

God did exactly that, after all, to his own Son Jesus: the most pure and perfect being ever created, so says the church’s Bible. This radiant being was offered up, tortured and killed by his own Dad. The fact that the obligatory justification of all abusers, that something good came out of the crime, is tacked onto the Biblical story as a sort of redemption for the rest of us, doesn’t detract from the basic message: don’t be good and innocent – it will get you nailed.

So is it surprising, at all, that a clergyman can rape and violate at will for decades, and be encouraged in his crime, by the Christian church and its top leaders? Or, that another clergyman can be destroyed and sacrificed publicly by the same leaders for simply asking why such things can happen?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

On U.S. and other Whites Adopting Haitian Children: not so fast if you care about Haitian children

All that follows is from GLOBAL CONNECTIONS. Click on the article title just below to link back to their site and this article as it appears there. -- Julian

Haiti’s babies & its future are already being set up for Adoption before the dead are accounted for & buried.

help haitiThe dead have not even been accounted for nor received proper burials yet & America is already talking about adopting Haitian children instead of setting the foundation to keep families together. We have anti-immigration laws in this country calling for the deportation of over 30,000 Haitian immigrants, many of whom have American born children who they will be separated from if the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) remains only temporary -to be recalled at America’s leisure without consideration of the devastation to families; yet we are going on about taking Haitian children from their homeland & families & adopting them out to Americans- huh? We always say we want to help, but our help seems to come too often at a devastating cost. This is a time & lesson in global humanity & humanitarian servicing, where we should reevaluate policy, how we administer aid & how we really help nations & people in times of need & tragedy.

We could have helped Haitians long ago by aiding them to utilize their ripe land for their own agricultural & economic benefit instead of utilizing it to build many wealthy nations, while forcing them into poverty & dependency. We could have helped with infrastructure that would be able to stand the tests of nature instead of losing thousands of lives & destroying families before the earthquake hit. We could have helped by not aiding in or standing idle to the destabilization of Haiti’s government long before the earthquake. We did not do all that, so at a time when we have the opportunity to right our wrongs -the first thing for us to think about is building a nation back to its glory of old as an even better, stronger nation with its families intact & people united in the continuation of building a great nation, not adopting out the future generation who will be the ones to carry Haiti’s torch!

When I saw this tweet from Wolf Blitzer -all I could do was shake my head & say oh no what are we thinking & not again.

Wolf Blitzer | Washington D.C.
“So many of you want to help Haiti. Some want to adopt orphans. CNN’s Mary Snow will report on adoption procedures in Sitroom.”

I will be watching carefully to see what this is all about, but I must say I do not like the tone & direction it is heading.

As an African I cringe at the separation of families throughout the Diaspora & Africa that was brought on by slavery -which even today still continues in many ways because of poverty & bad governance, which often give families no choice but to separate & give away or leave their children in order to seek a so called “better life” away from family. African descendants /families have been separated for far too long through the selling of the so called “better life” , which has left us with nations devastated by wars, poverty, lack of infrastructure & a perpetual disadvantage toward taking care of ourselves & believing in & living our greatness due to the fact that many of our best & brightest are taken away or drawn to the so called “better life” that the world keeps telling us can never be found at home.

The amount of money spent on Madonna & the Jolie-Pitts adopted African children’s wardrobe alone could support the villages they came from & kept them with their families. I think adoption is a noble, selfless act which I encourage all those who have the means & desire to do so, seek in great numbers; however we have to also consider if adoption is always the best way to provide a child with a better life as opposed to providing their families the help, education & aid necessary to keep the family intact. Maybe we should practice more of an “it takes a village to raise a child” motto by adopting families, not necessarily in physical form, but in the form of mental, emotional & financial support needed to help raise any and all children.

“The Greatest good u can do for another is not just share your riches, but reveal to them their own” (B. Disraeli)

“Of special note to international adoption are campaigns for adoptions that occur after disasters such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and wars. There is often an outpouring of adoption proposals in such cases from foreigners who want to give homes to children left in need. While adoption may be a way to provide stable, loving families for children in need, it is also suggested that adoption in the immediate aftermath of trauma or upheaval may not be the best option. Moving children too quickly into new adoptive homes among strangers may be a mistake because with time, it may turn out that the parents have survived but were unable to find the children, or there may be a relative or neighbor who can offer shelter and homes. Providing safety and emotional support may be better in those situations than immediate relocation to a new adoptive family.There is also an increased risk, immediately following a disaster, that displaced and/or orphaned children may be more vulnerable to exploitation and child trafficking.


Madonna adoption-This is a bit harsh, but great points are being made here particularly since many African countries specifically put in place residency caveats because of lessons of slavery of old & slavery of new.
Help Haiti Art work by: Graphic artist KERRY DEBRUCE (check her at

Remembering Howard Zinn (1922-2010), a mensch who lived to the young age of 87

[image of Howard Zinn is from *here*

If you did not know him, please take a moment to read up about him and his life. He was one of many examples of how to be a white Jewish man, or a mensch. A mensch means many things--and is not specifically raced or gendered as a term. But to me and to many it means a man of integrity and honor, who respects people deeply and cares fiercely with a compassionate heart. It means someone who loves his spouse as his equal, who loves his children each as if they were an only child, and who cares as much about justice for the oppressed as for anything else on Earth. It is quite the opposite of what it means "to be a man" in dominant white gentile secular society. If living in the U.S., it is to reject that sort of being, in fact, in favor of being a man who is against all forms of domination, violation, and exploitation. Howard Zinn was, among other good things, an anti-racist, anti-corporate, pro-Indigenist historian and writer, and a civil rights, labor, and anti-war activist. He taught a young Alice Walker (and many other students!) at Spelman College, and taught for decades at Boston University. He was a dear man, a mensch to be missed and one to be remembered.

More information will be forthcoming at

This next news report is from *here*.

Howard Zinn, American Jewish historian, dies

NEW YORK (JTA) -- Howard Zinn, an American Jewish historian who wrote the "People's History of the United States," has died.

Zinn, whose best-seller helped establish him as a central figure of the American left, died of a heart attack Wednesday in California. He was 87.

Along with another Boston-based American Jewish professor, Noam Chomsky, Zinn was a leading left-wing intellectual. His "People's History," published in 1980, accused Christopher Columbus of genocide while venerating labor leaders and war opponents.

"He's made an amazing contribution to American intellectual and moral culture," Chomsky said, according to the Boston Globe. "He's changed the conscience of America in a highly constructive way. I really can't think of anyone I can compare him to in this respect."

"People's History" inspired a documentary in 2009 on the History Channel titled "The People Speak." Zinn narrated the documentary, which highlighted those who spoke up for social change.

Zinn, a New York City native and the son of Jewish immigrants, wrote several books and three plays. His last essay, about President Obama's first year in office, was published last week in The Nation.

His last essay, about President Obama's first year in office, was published last week in The Nation.

Recent news, from just two weeks ago:
Howard Zinn is 2010 New York University MLK Humanitarian Award Recipient  
NYU press release: On February 10, 1961, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a speech on the campus of New York University that advocated for civil rights and championed nonviolent protest for social change. For the fifth-consecutive year, the University will commemorate Dr. King’s visit and his legacy by hosting a weeklong schedule of special events and programs. This year’s theme “Who Will You Inspire to Dream?” is intended to remind us of Dr. King’s message of activism, motivation, and leadership in service to the community. 

The Week will showcase featured events that include the University-wide Feature Celebration in the Eisner and Lubin Auditorium, Kimmel Center, January 21, 2010 at 7pm. Join us for an evening of NYU student and special guest performances; the 2010 MLK Humanitarian Award presentation to distinguished alumnus, historian and author of “A People History of the United States,” and the landmark film, “The People Speak,” Dr. Howard Zinn and remarks from NYU President John Sexton.

The links that follow were found on his web page.

Please see the Democracy Now! tribute:
And from The Progressive:
From The Nation / NPR:
(Please also see the "Howard Zinn Series" of videos on NPR:)
From the Huffington Post:
From the Boston Globe:
From the Washington Post:
From the Assoiated Press:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Light Bulb Moment: AHA! Men don't want to be called rapists because...*

[images above is from here]
*     *     *

This image of David Alex Park, left, and the paragraph below are from *here*.

Last month, in Irvine, California, Officer David Alex Park, stalker and rapist, was acquitted by a jury of eleven men and one woman. He was acquitted, not because he is anything other than a stalker and a rapist—which he as much as admitted in open court, and which was proven well enough anyway by phone records, license plate requests, and DNA evidence. He was acquitted because he is a cop, and the woman that he harassed and sexually extorted danced at a strip club, and so the jury concluded that she made him do it, and besides, if she strips for a living, she must have been asking for it anyway.
*     *     *

Photo by Ross William Hamilton/The Oregonian
Image above is of the convicted rapist Richard Troy Gillmore at his parole hearing at the Oregon State Correctional Institution in Salem. The article can be found *here*
*     *     *

Thomas Cope, 55, tied up his teenage victim with a computer mouse cord and raped her twice before letting her go after an eight hour ordeal. He was jailed for life after a judge branded him 'a serious danger to women'.

 Thomas Cope
The above image of serial rapist Thomas Cope is from *here*.
*     *     *

Image to the right, of spyhole rapist Anthony Batchelor who was jailed indefinitely, is from *here*

A rapist who secretly filmed women and children for eight years was snared when his neighbours discovered a tiny spyhole had been drilled in their ceiling. Voyeur Anthony Batchelor, 33,  who had been filming his neighbour's partner sunbathing naked, was caught out after a coin-shaped hole was discovered in the roof.
When police searched Batchelor's home in Gloucester, they they scoured his computer and discovered damning footage he had filmed just before he raped a young woman at knifepoint and threatened her with red-hot hair tongs.

Officers also found videos where he had 'zoomed in' on women and children changing at swimming pools as well as clips of him setting up a spy camera by his lavatory to film four women. Jailing Batchelor indefinitely for public protection at Gloucester Crown Court, Judge Mark Horton told the father-of-one his unlimited sentence reflected the 'sexual depravity' he put his victims through.

Batchelor admitted 14 offences, including rape, voyeurism and possessing child pornography.
*Because we ARE rapists/sexual violators/agents of sexual assault. We molest, we incest, we force our desires onto others against their will. We force others to think our will is theirs, so we no longer have to use so much force. We do this: men do this.

How simple. How utterly obvious.

And how self-servingly and aggressively defensive men get about this.

Men traffick children and women. 20 million people worldwide are estimated to be trafficked, largely by men and always FOR men's pleasure. FOR MEN'S PLEASURE, and for men's abusive, vile power over others. Men enslave children and women. Men rape and batter their female spouses and girlfriends. Men do all of this and when anyone says so, the defensive pricks fight back with "You're a man-hater!!!" "You're overgeneralising!!!" "Not ALL men do that!!!"

I now have a weapon of argument I never had before. And it is a simple one. To any man who has been sexually active with women or girls: PROVE TO ME YOU ARE NOT A RAPIST. PROVE IT. Because all the men I know who have said they are not, when I find out what they have done that they call "fully consensual sex", reveals that, in fact, they have raped, they have violated, they have abused girls and women. And these men refuse to name their behavior that way. They refuse to name it this way so that they can continue to do it again and again and never think they are being a serial rapist--to one girl, to one woman, or to many.

Given that force, dominance, coercion, subordination, humiliation, degradation, violation, violation, violation are ALL turned into steamy hot, desired heterosexist sex by pimps, pornographers, and rapists, it is not surprising men are up in arms about this truthful accusation. They/we don't want to name ourselves this way. We don't want to know what we do. We don't wish to be responsible for our brothers. We want our entitlements and privileges, our power and our rights, left alone, in tact, undisturbed by those feminist voices who say "NO! STOP IT!"

And any man with an ounce of humanity, when hearing anyone say "men are rapists" would do one of two things.

1. Say "Yes, we are", "yes, men do rape women", "yes, men are rapists and we won't admit it", and
2. Let me reflect with honesty and compassion for women on all I have done sexually, to find the memories where I was coercive, dominating, forceful, humiliating, selfish, self-centered, oblivious to her needs, lost in my own fantasies played out on and against her body, etc. Let me make myself more humane by doing this personal-political inventory, rather than snap back "NOT ALL MEN ARE RAPISTS!!!"

To any men who try and defend men who are rapists, I will say to you this: the only men I have ever known who get deeply upset, defensive, agitated, obnoxious, aggressive, hostile, and antifeminist about feminists stating this obvious truth is men who have committed rape and won't own up to it. And so you guys deflect by trying to make the declarer of the truth seem insane for stating a truth that resides somewhere in your own soul. And it works, too often. But not now it doesn't. Not here on this blog.

14 February 2010 ECD addendum:
What follows was written by Amber Rhea on Tuesday, 26 January 2010 (thank you, Amber!!!):

What would a man w/ an ounce of humanity/inkling of common sense/faint notion of what it means to be a decent person NOT say in such a situation?






Another addendum:
What follows is also posted below as a comment, but I wanted it located here in the body of the post as well. It was written by karinova:

For any naysayers, I just wanted to contribute a resource to back up this point:
“[W]hat they call ‘fully consensual sex,’ reveals that, in fact, they have raped, they have violated, they have abused girls and women. And these men refuse to name their behavior that way.”

This is supported in spades by the work of Drs. David Lisak & Paul Miller. (Sadly, and to my utter unsurprise, it’s kind of obscure.) In short, they surveyed men asking if they’d committed rapes/attempted rapes/battery/etc. of women (and children). Normally, men would of course say no. But the surveys didn’t call it rape/violence; instead, they asked about specific acts. [eg: “Have you ever had oral sex with an adult when they didn’t want to because you used or threatened to use physical force (twisting their arm, holding them down, etc.) if they didn't cooperate?”] It’s mind-blowingly obvious, but indeed, as it turns out, when it's not labeled rape, men self-report like crazy.

Now, I’ve seen estimates that say 1 in 60 men will do something like this in their lifetime. And the bleakest thing about the L&M data (to me, anyway) is the incredible volume of violence this kind of man can do: “One sample of 122 undetected rapists admitted to 386 rapes, 20 other acts of sexual assault... 264 acts of battery against intimate partners... 365 acts of sexual abuse against children... and 91 acts of physical abuse against children.” Yes, all by just these 122 doodz. And there's lots more. Apparently, this is just what they think normal relationships are like. (Wonder where they got that idea?!)

They don’t understand that it’s rape/abuse. And a lot of other people don’t either. This has to be a big part of why they don't get caught. The entire System— which is controlled by men, and controls the image of rape/abuse— fails to define/recognize them as rapists/abuser. Men need to get on this, ASAP.

Full text of Repeat Rape and Multiple Offending Among Undetecgted Rapists [PDF] (Lisak & Miller)

Research on Undetected vs. Detected Sex Offenders, from Successfully Investigating Acquaintance Sexual Assault [DOC] (see pp. 1-7)
Sunday, February 14, 2010 4:41:00 AM EST

NEW Comments Policy @ A.R.P.: please read before sending any comments

[image is from here]

Here's the COMMENTS POLICY for this blog, A Radical Profeminist. Dated 26 January 2010 ECD. Revised on 17 September 2010.

To all people committed to ending rape and racism, gynocide, genocide, and ecocide, WELCOME. This blog is intended to be, and remains, radical feminist/woman of color-friendly space. This intention is one of my deepest political commitments.

I work on the blog to promote anti-patriarchal, anti-racist, anti-colonialist, pro-Indigenist perspectives, analysis, activism, and liberation. Any comments sent to this blog for posting publicly or reading by me privately that meet any of the following criteria will go directly to a spam box and will not find their way to this blog. They will also, in many cases, not even be read by me beyond discerning whether they fit into one of these "categories of rejection". NOTE: No anti-womanist or anti-feminist comments will be posted here.

To all men: sexism and misogyny is not welcome here.  
To all whites: racism and unrecognised and unowned white supremacist perspective is not welcome here.  
To all heterosexuals: heterosexism, lesbophobia, and homophobia is not welcome here.  
To all queer people and non-queer people: transphobia is not welcome here.  
To all class-privileged people: classist and pro-capitalism comments are not welcome here.
To all non-disabled people: ableism is not welcome here.
And NO terms which put down, degrade, or insult the dignity of disabled people are allowed in comments. That includes "the R word" folks.
To all people who are not elderly and who are not (as determined by age) children: ageist remarks are not welcome here.  
To all Christians: the promotion of Jesus as a Savior, a Lord, or THE son of G-d, as well as any other expression of anti-Semitism and christocentrism, is not welcome here.  
To all non-Muslims: anti-Muslim bigotry and biases are not welcome here.
To all Westerners: unconscious and unexamined white-, anglo-, and euro-centric worldviews are not welcome here.  
To all non-Aboriginal, non-Native, and non-Indigenist people: anti-Indigenism and invisibilisation of Aboriginal people and denial of the on-going genocides perpetrated by white societies is not welcome here.
To all dominant U.S conservative and liberal people: expressed forms of U.S. neo-conservatism and U.S. neo-liberalism, conscious or not to you as such, are not welcome here.

If you don't know what some of these terms or some acronyms used here on this blog mean, there is a reading list and glossary for you below either to the right or below where you clicked on this link. Please read that whole section before posting any comments.

Finally, only comments submitted by those who have REGISTERED may be posted. NO ANONYMOUSLY SUBMITTED COMMENTS will be posted. It is at my discretion to post or not post any comment, for any reason at all. I don't owe anyone an explanation for why a comment wasn't posted.

24 June 2010 Addendum: 
I probably ought to add this:  Submitted comments that insult, put down, harass, degrade, or are otherwise mean or disrespectful to the blog host will not be posted. Be courteous and respectful to me here or don't have a voice here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rape & Sexual Abuse Stats: WAY TOO LOW, and here's a couple of reasons why

[image is from here]

I write today about something I am outraged by often, but today I carry more rage than usual.

I found a male-man I have known well has, within the last couple of weeks, sexually assaulted someone--his female spouse. I'd call what happened "rape" and I'm not sure if the woman wishes to, can, will, or what. I know she did not get medically examined after the assault, and will not report him as a rapist to the police. So add that to the list of rapes that will never get counted in the national stats.

It is for her to name her own experience, and it is for me to name it for myself, not to her directly. I call what he did rape. If she asks me what I call it, I'll tell her.

He got drunk and did something she had been very clear with him to never do. And the same night he did it, he said he'd like to do more (of that sort of sexually violating activity). He inserted part of his body into her body without asking permission, with force, and caused her both internal physical injury and emotionally trauma, as well as triggering some very deep old trauma that remains actively "resurrected". There is also the breach of trust to deal with, from a man she absolutely trusted to respect her sexually and otherwise. This goes to show that even heeding Pearl Cleage's advice, women are still vulnerable to rape because men rape people they have intimate relationships with, that include the trust of the woman that he won't assault or violate her, willfully. He at least doesn't believe he wasn't responsible for what he did because he was drunk, although be blames what he did on the effects of the alcohol. I don't. Not for one second.

She said to me recently, in the context of feeling the rage of being assaulted by her husband, "Sometimes I hate men!" and I said "Me too". She is a lover of humanity, and deeply caring, soulful person, and generous of spirit and compassion. She is also very self-possessed, knows her boundaries, sets them, and expects them to be honored. He violated all of that by what he did.

So he blamed it on being drunk and I told her "Not all people when drunk are sexually aggressive" and "the alcohol didn't infuse him with the desire or will to do what he did. (She agreed.) Both the desire to do what he did, and the will, the power, and the sense of entitlement were all in place prior to taking any drink that evening. But he got behaviorally "sloppy" due to being drunk--which was his choice, btw--no one coerced him into getting drunk, or spiked his drinks with extra shots of liquor. He was at a social event, was uncomfortable, and drank too much in order to get through the evening in a way that ended up being traumatising to his spouse. How caring of him. NOT. And, of course, due to him drinking so much he put her in the position of "making sure he was ok throughout the night, even post-assault". How vile men can be. (She was the only person around him once they left the party.)

The list of men I know or have known who have not sexually assaulted a woman or girl is very small, and getting smaller. And I have little doubt that the other male-man who is in my life has committed sexual assault. His level of misogynist rage is high at times, and frightens most of us who are around him, not infrequently. And he's not a raging fool. He doesn't ever use misogynistic language, terms, etc. He never outwardly shows disrespect for his female partner or other women. And it is clear he has "rage issues" that he has not dealt with, that can and do express themselves to or around his female spouse.

So, to anyone who wants to make the case to me that "not all men are sexually abusive", you'd have to prove to me first that you are among the population of men who has never sexually violated and/or been oppressively physically aggressive against a female person.

Given the number of men who have committed date rape, marital rape, and other forms of rape, who would never think to name it that way, and given the number of women who have been date raped and otherwise sexually violated and assaulted who do not call it that because to do so would mean dealing with that man differently--and he is, after all, most likely to be a family member, or a spouse, or a boyfriend--I know for a fact that the stats on sexual assault against women by men is WAY TOO LOW.

Even one of the men who came to this blog to demonstrate that not all men are rapists demonstrated his lack of regard for his female spouse saying "no" to his sexual advances.

I have checked in with other het guys since, wondering about how many of them won't accept their girlfriend or wife's "first no" as HER FINAL ANSWER. Almost no men do.

I ask men, why don't you accept her first "no" as her final "no"? The males answer that they know if they keep asking or pressuring her, she'll eventually give in. They make arguments that they don't believe she really means "no" when she says "no". These men, are, in my view, rapists. And when I suggest that once you have recommended doing something sexually that she says "no" to, that she is perfectly capable of asking about it in the future should she change her mind and become interested in exploring this activity, the answer is something like "I wouldn't be respecting myself if I didn't keep asking her about it".

Rapist culture: alive and unwell.

To any man reading this: please don't ever use force against a woman; please don't ever ask a woman TWICE to do something she said no to the first time. Take her "NO" as meaning "NO" unless SHE brings it up later for discussion to re-evaluate her answer. And, in the mean time, evaluate where you even got the idea to do something she said "no" to, because clearly it wasn't from her. Did you get it from a scene constructed by pimps who are trafficking women and filming that activity? Did you get it by watching the rape of a woman online, that you pretend was consensual?

If you want women to not hate you, stop yourself and other men from committing sexual assault and violation against girls and women.

Another issue is men having pornography available for children to find, whether that is online pornography or material pornography in the form of magazines, books, or videos.

Please know this: children being exposed to your pornography constitutes sexual abuse of a child. Always. I know of NO ONE who was exposed to their father's pornography when young, if the child was female or male, who wasn't damaged from that experience. With girls, it often set up very distorted ideas about "sex" and the same with boys. But with boys, they later act out what they learned, against girls and later against women, whereas the females act it out against themselves, usually. And NO FATHER I know who has pornography accessible to his children considers him allowing that to be the case "child sexual abuse".

Men are debating "the logic of women" online. I won't direct you to where. These misogynists are claiming feminists are not logical. They apparently don't find it "logical" to tell men to stop rape. That argument, that statement, doesn't factor into their "logic system". How utterly self-serving and male supremacist.

If I try to point this out, they reject it based on my allegiance with feminism. How convenient for these illogical, misogynist fools.

I'm pissed at men right now, and also am amazed at the number of misogynist men who send comments here to be posted, without even realising misogynists' comments will never see the light of day here, or the depth of the dark either. They go to a spam box. So keep on sending them, fellas. That spam box is hungry for your illogical stupidity.

There is a comment policy that I will have to make clearer, I guess, although I don't think these misogynists are smart or logical enough to read and comprehend it.

If men stopped men from behaving in misogynistic and sexist and racist ways, rape and other sexist and racist violence against women would end. Why don't men do this? Why is this not a priority?

Boys who see pornography are more likely to harass girls: a new study's findings

[image is from here]

I want to personally and professionally thank Michael Flood (creator and moderator of, linked to on the right side of this blog in the important web pages section) for conducting this research project. The results don't surprise me at all, and I think it's always good for those who "need studies" to have those resources and results to confirm what so many of us already know.

January 24, 2010

Boys who see porn more likely to harass girls

Maurice Chittenden and Matthew Holehouse

BOYS exposed to porn are more likely to indulge in casual sex and less likely to form successful relationships when they grow older, according to research carried out in a dozen countries.

The report, Harms of Pornography Exposure Among Children and Young People, also found that young boys who see pornography are more inclined to believe there is nothing wrong with pinning down or sexually harassing a girl.

Michael Flood, who carried out the study at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, said: “There is compelling evidence from around the world that pornography has negative effects on individuals and communities.

“We know it is shaping sexual knowledge. Some people may think that is good. But porn is a very poor sex educator because it shows sex in unrealistic ways and fails to address intimacy, love, connection or romance. Often it is quite callous and hostile in its depictions of women.

“It doesn’t mean that every young person is going out to rape somebody but it does increase the likelihood that will happen.”

Research in the UK suggests that 60% of boys under 16 have been exposed to pornography, accidentally or deliberately. The average age at which they first saw porn has dropped from 15 to 11 in less than a decade. The average amount of time they watch porn on the internet is 90 minutes a week.

John Carr, an adviser to the government and secretary of the Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety (CHIS), said: “We had a case in west London where a boy in the first year of primary school was bringing pictures to school and was acting them out in the playground during the break. When they did a home visit the dad was downloading it and it was all over the house.

“It is not an argument for banning it but it is an argument to find better ways to make it harder for kids to get hold of it.”

Such is the international spread of porn through the internet that youngsters in Asian and African countries see blonde white women on screen and then regard tourists with the same attributes as sex objects, Flood says.

However, Thaddeus Birchard, a psychotherapist who runs a sex addiction practice in London, said: “We are entering a period of moral panic and this is part of it. Children are not receiving sex education at home. Sexually explicit material on the net can even help educate them.

“The internet is a way of being sexually addicted but it does not cause the addiction. What causes it is the relationship between the child and their parents. Almost always they are maternally deprived.”

Petra Boynton, a psychologist, said: “Children are not necessarily looking at porn for gratification. They are doing so because they are bored and not supervised. Often when children look at more extreme porn it is done for bravado so they can laugh and say how disgusting it is.”

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ten of the Best Things You Can Do For Your Sexual Self (at any age), by Heather Corinna

If we look at our sexuality one way, it looks a million times simpler than it actually is. If we look at it another way, it appears a million times more complicated. While it's important that we bear everything in mind we need to in terms of infection and disease, birth control, our relationships, our bodies and the whole works, now and then we need to remember the bare bones and the human element of the thing, and keep the essentials in the forefront of our minds.

Choose yourself as your first partner

We hear a whole lot about who should be our first partner. Most of the time, we're told it should be someone we love and who loves us back, someone committed to us long-term, perhaps even someone we plan to spend the rest of our lives with. I agree completely, because you, all by yourself, have all of those qualities, more than any other person ever can.

It's not abstinence propaganda to say that no one is ever going to know your body like you are, and that no one else is ever going to be able to GET to know your body well unless you do to begin with. Really claiming and recognizing yourself as your first and foremost sex partner is a powerful thing. It equips you with tools you'll need for a healthy sexuality and balanced relationships for the rest of your life: the ability to determine when it's the right time for you to have solo sex (like when you're just plain horny) and when it's right to take a partner (like when you're wanting deeper intimacy, or able to account for another person's feelings and desires). Getting to know your own body and sexual identity through self-evaluation, through masturbation, enables you to find out what you like and dislike physically, to see and feel what your genitals and the rest of your body are like in a healthy state, to discover how your individual sexual response works, explore your orientation and gender identity, and to gauge your sexual expectations realistically.

Flick the switch in your head that says masturbation or self-love is only something we do when we don't have a partner available. Even when you have a partner in your life, you'll discover that there are things you'll do, and responses you'll have, only when you're your own lover. Treat your time alone as special time, the same way you'd rev yourself up for a date with someone else. Sounds hokey, but the truth is that some of the best sex you'll ever have is sex with yourself, and when you do have a partner, sex with them will be all the better for that.

All too often, young men and women -- more often young women -- rush into sexual partnership simply because they think a partner can give them something on a sheerly physical sexual level that they can't give themselves because they haven't become their own first sex partner. And many times, that results in hurt feelings, overly high expectations, and careless treatment of sexual partners, especially when a person just isn't ready for all that sexual partnership requires. All too often, "hormones" are said to be why a teen feels the drive to partner with someone else, but the truth is, your "hormones" and your physical body do NOT know the difference between your fingers and someone else's. Your mind and your heart might, but your clitoris or penis do not. Spending dedicated time being your own lover first helps you be able to know the difference.
And hey: masturbation is the safest sex there is!

Let's talk about sex, baby.

When and if you're sexually active with a partner, communication issues are usually the biggest hurdle in those relationships. If we feel awkward or uncomfortable -- or unable -- bringing up issues about birth control, safer sex, sexual boundaries, sexual satisfaction or dissatisfaction, things we need to be emotionally or physically safe, we not only greatly limit the mileage of those relationships, we put ourselves and our partners in positions which can be very detrimental to all of us. At best, being unable to communicate can greatly limit our pleasure, enjoyment or emotional well-being. At worst, they can get us deeply hurt emotionally or physically, or be the root of an unwanted pregnancy, disease or infection transmission. Being able to talk openly about sex can't just protect our hearts, minds and bodies, it can save our lives.

We can all learn to talk about sex, even in a culture where that is a major handicap. Start simple: talk to friends or family about sexual issues or questions. Learn to ask your doctor when you've got questions or concerns about sexuality or sexual anatomy, even if it feels embarrassing or a little funny at first. And well before you get sexually involved with a partner, start establishing meaningful dialogue about sex: about both of your expectations and wants, about your readiness levels, about birth control and safer sex practices, about how you'll plan to deal with friends and family regarding your sexual relationship, about what relationship model you'd like to build, the works.

Practice a tough talk with a parent, partner or doctor on your own or with a friend. make notes of what's important to you to bring up, and deliver the talk the way you'd like to, no holds barred. if you've got a friend to help, he or she can role-play the other "part" and shoot you some challenges so you can practice dealing with them.

Live in the real world

Honesty, like most things, starts at home: in other words, with yourself. Sex can be a veritable minefield when it comes to game-playing, delusion, manipulation, even when no one intends any of those things. Being willing and able to be honest about your sexuality is your biggest asset when it comes to being happy, healthy and whole in this regard.

Be willing, for instance, to really take a deep look at what you want and what you need, and make choices based on the real deal when it comes to those things. For instance, if you know that you're not entirely sure about a sexual partner in terms of furthering your activity with them, don't shove that feeling in the closet for fear of losing them if you don't agree to what they want. If you know you're questioning your sexual orientation, be clear on that with potential partners.

Assess obstacles you have to honesty, and your fears as to what the outcome of your honesty in a given situation might be. So, if you're afraid to tell a parent you're sexually active, afraid to tell a partner about something you want sexually and aren't getting, or are afraid to come out of the closet if you're bisexual or homosexual, make a list of what scares you about those things, of what the negative outcomes of that honesty might be, and pair it with a list of what the positive outcomes might be as well. Sometimes, just being able to get a clear look at all those possibilities helps dissipate a lot of our fears.

If you know you can't be sexually active without lying to friends and family, put a hold on things until you can be honest about that. If you aren't as into someone else as you know they're into you, let them know, don't lead them on or take advantage. Don't make promises you can't keep: of eternal love (even if it feels that way), of monogamy, of sexual favors you aren't surer you want to, or can, deliver.

Ask for honesty from your partners as well as from others involved, even tangentially, in your sexual life: friends, family, your doctor, and learn to accept that honesty, even when it's not so easy. being in an environment of honesty sometimes means that the people we're involved with tell us what they really feel, rather than what they think we'd like to hear, which isn't always comfortable, but which, both long and short term, is the best thing for everyone.

Break your drama addictions

It's easier than any of us would like to think to mistake high drama for love or passion, especially when we're younger. Most of us are pretty restless in our teens: maybe school is just utterly boring, maybe we've had the same social circle for years, maybe our towns or cities don't offer us much to do, maybe we're just feeling ready to move on with our lives, but can't because of our age. So, it's not at all surprising that when a love affair enters our lives, we're going to be pretty excited about it.

But it's very clear, even just with what we see at the message boards here, that a lot of teens confuse drama with love, affection or real connection. The higher the level of drama gets -- parents disliking a partner, promises of marriage, a profound age difference, even emotional or physical abuse -- the more a feeling of love or passion is interpreted because the emotional stakes are raised and the tension is elevated.

That's not unreasonable, after all, writers have been using that exact same device to elevate their readers emotions for thousands of years. But.

It isn't real, even when it very much feels real. We're simply reacting to those escalated circumstances, and all too often, that drama can keep young couples together, not love or real bonding.

So, when the drama kicks in, try to learn to see it and know that then, more than ever, is NOT the time to leap in with both feet, but to step back and really look at what's going on. To take a break to do that, if need be. To do whatever it is you need to to get a good, solid reality check.

One of the best tests of love, really, is if it feels like love when it's at it's quietest and calmest, not its loudest and most tumultuous.

There's no medal for who suffers the most, especially at their own hand. While there are pervasive messages telling us that we should sometimes stick out bad relationships, the truth is that a lot of those messages are bogus. When the drama reaches Shakespearean levels, instead of plummeting through it, try stepping back just once, by asking for a short break for everyone to breathe and have time to look at the situation from outside of it. That's the sound, mature way to deal with drama in relationships, and in a sound one, that time apart will only have positive effects on it, even if the outcome isn't what you'd like initially.

Be a smartypants

Let's be honest: very few of us, whether we're 15 or 65, can be truly objective when we're head over heels in love or in lust. So, it's a bit of a given that when making sexual choices, we can rest assured that our judgment is bound to be a little colored from the get-go. Being in love, having a crush, and sexual partnership is heady stuff. That's some of why it can feel so nice. Colloquially, some of us call that space NRE, or new relationship energy. It's great stuff, and it feels fantastic (and it should!), but it can do quite a number on our analytical or critical thinking.

It's important to recognize that when we're in that space, we probably need to use a little more caution than usual when making decisions because those feelings can really do a number on our heads as well as our hearts. Other additional factors may also be at play which can impair sound judgment: body or self-image issues, feeling pressured to be sexually active or have a sexual or romantic partner, performance pressures, rebellion or conformity issues, and even simple curiosity.

Don't lose your life when you're in a relationship. After all, if you don't have your whole, own self, you've got nothing to give and share with anyone else. So, even when it's brand-new and shiny, keep on doing the endeavors, like work or hobbies, that have always been important to you. Keep up your platonic friendships and family relationships, and be sure you also get some quality time all by yourself, at least a couple days or nights a week.

So, it's generally sound to assume that we're probably going a little faster than we would otherwise, and so we should be sure to step back inasmuch as we can, and evaluate where we're going, what we're agreeing to, and what we're initiating. Asking for more time to consider something, asking that something going very fast get its reins pulled in for a bit or asking for some physical or emotional space to consider sexual decisions is always, always okay. Asking friends, family or people you value in your community for input and advice is always a good idea, even if you end up disagreeing with what they contribute -- divergent opinions are going to give you food for thought so you can make the best choices for you in the end.

And by all means, handicapping your judgment intentionally from the outset with alcohol or drugs which impair your critical thinking is just never a wise idea.

Start a revolution: stop hating your body!

We live in a culture that is obsessed with appearances, in which lookism and ableism are epidemic. The messages we're sent via our culture and media about our bodies are almost always about how they look or how perfect they should be, and more specifically, how they look to the opposite sex (despite the fact that some of us aren't even interested in the opposite sex, all of the time, or ever). Advertisements for gyms or exercise regimens rarely talk about feeling increased energy, getting sick less often, getting better strength or balance, but all too often, instead work to sell us or trimmer thighs, tighter bottoms, or washboard abdominals because those things fit our current physical ideals of beauty and attractiveness.

That isn't to say we have to ignore how our bodies or faces look. People are amazing creatures, great to look at, and sexual attraction is part of our physical nature. But it's only one part of many. Our bodies enable us to do everything we do each day: to go to work or school, to build cities and cultural movements, to create and nurture families and friends, to live out our whole lives. And the state of our bodies effects the state of our minds: when we're physically healthy, it's a lot easier to be emotionally healthy.

So, take care of your body in every way you can. Give it healthy food, the rest and activity it needs, the healthcare -- sexual and general -- it requires, both preventatively and when you become ill. Don't sacrifice your health or well-being for appearances with fad diets or starvation, with obsessive focus on physical perfection, with conformity to ideals which not only may not fit you, but which change almost as often as most of us change our underpants.

And understand that when it's right for you, be it by yourself or with a partner, sex can also be part of honoring your body, whatever it looks like, however it works. If any sex you have with someone isn't about your bodies just as they are, it's not likely to feel very good or leave you feeling very good about yourself.

Let's also look at body and self-image. It always feels good to have someone we're attracted to or in love with tell us we're beautiful or sexy or wonderful or smart or perfect.

While that can make us feel fantastic, that can't replace feeling those things about ourselves first, nor can having someone else tell us that make us feel those things about ourselves. It's not pop psychology or bullshit to say that self-image is just that: from the self, about the self. It can only start and end with you.

Having a boyfriend or girlfriend can make us feel great about ourselves, and having sex can make us feel great about our bodies. But if we aren't already there, or at least part of the way there, on our own, if something starts to go wrong with our partnerships or our sex lives, what made us feel great about us can turn and start to make us feel terrible instead because we've put much too much stock in those things creating positivity in us we need to have all on our own.

Screw magazines that tell you to focus on what you'd like to improve about your body. Heck, if you've got one, burn it. If you've got health issues to deal with, or need to make some healthy changes in terms of what you're eating or not getting enough activity, do that. But your body is not a home-improvement project. Most of it is perfect as-is, right now. So, document that. Sit down and make a list of all of your favorite parts, and write down why they're your favorite. Maybe you like your eyes because they're aesthetically beautiful, or your legs because they get you where you need to go. If you need extra help when it comes to appearances, instead of comparing yourself to fashion mags, get some pictures of your relatives, as far back as you can go, if they're available to you. In them, you're going to find your arms, your hair, your face -- you can discover where a lot of you came from and see yourself a bit differently when you're looking at you in someone else.

Some studies or philosophies have put forth that young people, especially young women, who are sexually active suffer from low self-esteem in ways those who are not do not. The usual assumption made about that premise is that sex, especially sex when you're young, must be bad for you, but I'd posit that that isn't so. Instead, what I've seen a lot of over the years is young people who seek out sex or sexual partnership to try and fill a void in terms of self-esteem or positive body image reinforcement that already exists before they seek out the sex, and then most of them discover -- alas -- that the sex or boyfriend/girlfriend doesn't fill that void and get even more depressed and self-hating, thinking something must be wrong with them.

It's not, I promise. We're all going to spend decent parts of our lives on our own, without sexual partners or spouses, living by ourselves, being by ourselves. And when we ARE in relationships, for them to be healthy, we need to be sharing, not just doing all the taking or all the giving. So, it's important that we really can stand alone; that we can love and accept our bodies whether or not anyone else shows attraction to them at any given time. That we can love and accept ourselves, even on the days, weeks or months when no one says anything good about us, even when we get negative feedback instead. To be able to do that, we need to have value in ourselves when we're not in relationships or sexual partnerships; things we enjoy doing be they work or hobbies, a sense of body love that isn't just about how our bodies look or how perfect they are, but about how they feel and what they enable us to do with our lives each day.

Honor your feelings

Sometimes, it takes a lot of tries before we meet someone whose needs and wants are the same as ours. Because of that, it's tempting to try and compromise things we really shouldn't compromise, like limits and boundaries, relationship models we know we don't want or can't deal with, or sexual velocity that is just too fast.

Sure, part of any relationship is compromise, but we should not and cannot compromise our essential character or nature, nor what we know we need in a relationship to participate in one healthily and happily. If we find we're sticking in a relationship where we know our partner wants things we can't or don't want to give, for instance, we're likely not honoring our feelings, perhaps because we don't want to hurt them, or because we're afraid of being without a partner, or because we just don't want to make a huge mistake. But, you know, in relationships that are right for everyone, we can safely voice our feelings and work with them, and we need to be able to do that to be in good relationships. Most of us adults have been in relationships where we've voiced deeper feelings than our partner felt, or asked for more than they could give, and that's resulted in a split we didn't want. Or, we've had to tell a partner they were asking for more than we had available and either pull away from the relationship or take it back a few paces. While at the time, none of that is ever fun, in hindsight, we'll all know that was best for everyone. As well, most of us have happier tales of honoring our feelings that brought about far better outcomes than we would have had had we not voiced our true feelings. Sometimes, when you love someone deeply and tell them, they tell you -- and mean it -- that they love you just as much back.

Keep a couple running lists of wants and needs when it comes to what you can give yourself, and wants and needs in relationships (and don't make the latter list when you've just started a new relationship -- you'll end up tailoring it to fit the person you're currently with without even meaning to). Divide the essential needs from the nonessential, but desired, wants, so you can get a good idea of what you can and cannot compromise. If you hit a sticking point with yourself or someone else, pull out the lists and take a look -- you can then get a good, objective look to help you honor your feelings, even when it's hard to do.

A big part of honoring your feelings is being able to first look at them and recognize them yourself. So, take a good look at them, even if they're not so realistic. If you have a good idea of what they are, in a given situation or in general, you're ion a better place to honor them, to see how they may or may not be creating obstacles, to get a good idea of what you really want and need so you'll be able to recognize when those needs can be met and when they can't.

And while we're at it, don't talk yourself into a situation that isn't really right for you, especially when it comes to casual sex. That isn't to say that casual sex can't be okay for some people sometimes, because it can. But much of the time here at the Scarleteen community, we see people clearly talking themselves into believing they're okay with no-strings-attached or friends-with-benefits scenarios when they truly want more than that, but have convinced themselves to settle for less because they feel it's better than nothing, or think that sex with someone casually will make that other person develop romantic feelings after all. Bzzzt. What you don't want isn't better than waiting for what you do want, and sex can't change anyone's real feelings. To boot, saying you're okay with casual sex to a partner suggesting it when you know you aren't in your gut makes YOU the bad guy for being manipulative and dishonest, not them for wanting less than you do.

Don't try and use sexual identity as your whole identity

Part of our development in our teens and twenties is seeking out and discovering our self-identity. It's why it's not uncommon for teens to be very enthusiastic about something one month that's completely forgotten the next. A little embarrassing when we have to backpedal sometimes, but it's all normal, and we've all been through it (some of us way more times than we'd care to admit).

So, it's also not unusual to do the same with sexual identity.

Sexual identity, is, by it's nature, fairly fluid. While some portions of our sexuality are at least somewhat fixed, like our sexual orientation (whether we're attracted to men, women or both/all gender), parts of our gender identity as well as some of our preferences, many aspects of our sexual identity will develop and shift all through our lives. So, while your sexual identity is an integral part of who you are, there's never any hurry to claim or label it, nor is it a good idea to make your current sexual identity your whole identity -- because when it shifts and evolves -- and it always will -- you may find yourself feeling utterly lost in terms of knowing who you are. As well, sex is only part of our lives. If every part of us is completely wrapped up in it, we're likely to miss out on other equally enriching and fulfilling parts of our lives.

Who are you, besides so-and-so's girlfriend/boyfriend or Jane or John, queer or straight person? Jot it down, and make note of what accompanying activities you engage in to support all those other aspects of your identity. Are you a musician? If so, how much time are you getting to play and practice? Are you a good friend? Spent much time with yours lately? Are there aspects of your identity that keep getting shoved on the back shelf, even if you would really like to explore them? Look at your time during the week, and carve out some for those parts. Sex is great, and having a partner equally great, but if we aren't more than our sex lives or sexual identity, not only are those aspects of our lives going to peter out fast, the rest of our lives are going to seriously suffer for that.

Become a sexpert!

Obviously, no one needed a book to figure out how to put Tab A into Slot B when it came to sex. If they had, none of us would be here today, because our eldest ancestors certainly didn't have The Joy of Sex hidden under a straw pallet in the back of the cave. So, while there are some things we don't need books or media for -- and some it's best we learn on our own anyway, like discovering what a partner finds pleasure in -- there are others we do. We live in a different world than our hunting and gathering forebears. We have longer lifespans, different and more complex health issues, we choose not to procreate, we have factors in our lives and culture that make our relationships more complex. As well, we simply know things now we didn't back when that really can benefit us, like understanding how our reproductive cycles really work, how disease or infection may be spread, like that our sexual or gender identity doesn't have to be what is prescribed for us.

So, dig in and educate yourself! Hit the library or the net and read up on your body, the body of your partner if they're opposite sex, on safer sex practices and disease and infection news, on birth control options. Fill your mind with material to help you start to evaluate things like orientation and gender identity, the quality of your relationships, and your own wants and needs when it comes to sex and sexual partnership.

Get yourself one good sexuality or sexual health book as a primer from your local bookstore. Chances are, it'll cost you less than a CD or two, and it'll be a lot more valuable. Some good basics to have on hand include The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex by Anne Semans and Cathy Winks, Our Bodies, Ourselves by The Boston Women's Health Collective, The Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex by June M. Reinisch, The Whole Lesbian Sex Book by Felice Newman, The Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein and Felice Picano, Deal With It! by Esther Drill, or Scarleteen's amazing and fully inclusive sexuality guide, S.E.X.

Do yourself a favor, though, and be selective with that media. Look for sources that offer you real information, not salacious tips on how to bring someone else to orgasm or how to achieve firmer breasts. On websites and with books, look for mentions or endorsements by credible organizations or resources in sexuality and sexual health. We get enough garbage and misinformation on sex from television, movies and popular magazines as it is -- none of us needs any more of that gump.

It truly is best to educate yourself about sex and sexuality BEFORE you leap in headlong, especially with a partner or partners. All too often, people only start educating themselves during or after a crisis (such as a pregnancy scare, an acquired STI, or being physically or emotionally hurt during sex), and while late is always better than never, in advance is always better than after the fact.

Most of all...

... don't forget that sex and sexuality are supposed to be pleasurable and bring you joy and richness. So many of the messages sent out to young people are about the dangers of sex or dating, are about saying no to sex based on very general and arbitrary ethics that may not be your own, and make sex out to be the Big Bad, when really, it doesn't have to be. If you aren't ready for sexual partnership, then no, sexual partnership isn't going to be right for you right now. But even if you try something out and discover it isn't, it's unlikely to cause you lifelong trauma. We all err sometimes; we learn, we move on. We're an adaptable species like that.

Your sexuality is yours to have, explore and enjoy even all by yourself, and yours to share with partners, when and if you're ready and willing to do that. When you respect it and you, it's a wonderful part of who you are, one that has the power to enrich your life and make you feel physically and emotionally great. And it can be great responsibly and healthfully: a lot of the time, we plop sex and adventure into the same pile, and assume that for sex to feel great, it has to be risky or we have to feel "naughty" doing it, and that just isn't the case. In fact, it's reasonable to say that if our culture could ditch a lot of the taboo and shameful attitudes it has about sex, the whole lot of us would be a much healthier people, physically and emotionally.

So, if you're engaged in sex in any way that makes you feel bad, stop and look at that. Sometimes, sex can be disappointing, either alone or with partners, that happens the same way any aspect of life can be disappointing or just plain lame. But if that's the case continually, it's time for a change, be that by splitting from a partner, pulling back on something you're doing or asking for things you want but aren't getting, taking better care of your sexual health or spending more time getting to know your own body, reevaluating your sexual identity or taking a break from sex altogether for a while. If you can't feel or experience the joy of sex, then it's just not worth doing. And when you can? Let yourself enjoy it. That's what it's there for.

To sum up?

1. Be your own your first partner, before anyone else.
2. Learn to talk openly about sex.
3. Be honest. For real.
4. Ditch the drama.
5. Use your best judgment.
6. Respect your body and yourself.
7. Honor your feelings, even when it sucks.
8. Be your whole self, not just your sexual self.
9. Further your sexual education.
10. Enjoy yourself and your sexuality.

 (Source website for the above: *here*)