There was no sex in skepticism before the women showed up.
Forget Houdini's brooding eyes and dark curls. Forget his personal magnetism. Those were strictly incidental. Forget the amount of skin--well-muscled skin--that he showed in his escapes. That was only to demonstrate he wasn't hiding a key anywhere. Strictly utilitarian. Houdini's appeal to his audience was based entirely on the complexity of his tricks and the calm reasoning he showed when dealing with mediums and spiritualists, and it's a mere coincidence that many of the male faces of the skeptical movement since then have had similar stage experience and heaps of charisma.
When there were no female skeptics at skeptics' meetings and conventions, there was no sex at these gatherings. None of the men attending found any occasion to think about, discuss or have sex. Everything was focused entirely on skepticism and critical thinking, with partying saved for the meetings of lesser souls.
Ridiculous assertions? Yes, and I've deliberately presented them with all the seriousness they deserve. But that doesn't keep this idea from being the unexamined underpinning of one of the current arguments being made in skeptical circles. Stated in its most bald form, it is suggested that women are ruining skepticism by bringing "teh sexy."
Much of what is said about the sex industry revolves around a single question: Is it okay or not? This question can be phrased in many ways: Is it okay that prostitution exists? Can street hooking ever be a real job? Is everyone who sells sex exploited or free? To address this question, most people talk about their own experience or that of the people they know personally or did research with, after which they extrapolate to a bigger group. But in the end it’s a question with different answers for different people in different places and moments in their lives.
Herbert's column in the NY Times this morning reprises his claims about the misogyny of prostitution and pornography but in a different context this time and with some unwittingly apt parallels.
Readers of this blog know that I have a very different analysis of sex work, one that doesn't assume that prostitution or pornography are inherently and essentially misogynistic, so I won't reprise that here. (You can get a glimpse of some of that here and here) Instead, I'd like to point out some of the things I think make Herbert's analysis here especially weak, including some false assumptions about causality, and unfortunate parallels to sports and the military.
I can't tell you how much it angers me that people who claim to care about the dangers faced by gender non-conforming teens contribute to that danger by insisting that the closet is the only source of safety and by spouting the kind of rhetoric that endangers the teens in the first place.
It's Labor Day in the United States, and in the US for many people that doesn't mean "let's celebrate workers," it means "let's get to the beach" so I was pleased to find a story in this morning's New York Times that was a beach-related public/private space kind of story that touches on issues of sexuality and human rights.
The question is whether the Boardwalk Pavilion in Ocean Grove, NJ, is public space or private space, and whether the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association (a Methodist organization) must let the space be used by by gay and lesbian couples for the same purposes that straight couples use it: that is, for ceremonies celebrating their state-recognized unions.
I'm more than tired of all the uproar over whether sexuality is biologically determined or chosen. Actually, that's not true. I'm frustrated by the denial that sexuality isomplicated than that question would indicate, and the refusal to believe that the answer has no place in a discussion of rights for gays.
From the HRC "National Coming Out Day" page :
This year will also mark an important hallmark as National Coming Out Day, falls on the 20th anniversary of the 1987 Gay and Lesbian March on Washington, and the unfurling of the AIDS Quilt on the National Mall. The very first National Coming Out Day was celebrated a year to the day later as a way of continuing the spirit of openness, honesty and visibility that the March and the AIDS Quilt presentation inspired.
If you know of events in your area, please add them to the calendar!
According to a Pew Research Center poll on attitudes toward premarital sex 38 percent of adults in the US think that premarital sex is always or almost always wrong (note that the question is framed in terms of heterosexual couples only).
I thought this was odd given that a much smaller percentage of people actually do wait until they are married before having sex, so I poked around in some of the charts. In terms of basic demographics, there are predictable differences between people's attitudes depending on their age group, with older respondents being more likely than younger ones to think that premarital sex is wrong. Other demographic factors that are correlated with a greater likelihood of thinking premarital sex is wrong include income (as income goes up tolerance for premarital sex also goes up) and education (people with more education are less likely to think that premarital sex is wrong), thought the differences are small.
A conference that brings together sexologists, sociologists, technicians, artists, philosophers, and lots of people who, predictably, cross such arbitrary boundaries!
From the Arse Elektronika 2007 "About " page:
From the depiction of a vulva in a cave painting to the newest internet porno, technology and sexuality have always been closely linked. No one can predict what the future will bring, but history indicates that sex will continue to play an essential role in technological development.
For a list of speakers, click here.
For the schedule, click here.