Many Sleepless Nights Indeed

From Chris Zammarelli @ Bookslut

When Earl Adams discovered his two teenaged sons had seen Felice Newman’s book The Whole Lesbian Sex Book at the Bentonville (AK) Public Library, he e-mailed Library Director Cindy Suter and requested the book be removed from the stacks. Suter had the book moved to what Richard Dean Prudenti described in an article for The Morning News as “a less accessible location” in the library.

Adams responded by faxing Mayor Bob McCaslin with the demand that the book be removed from the library for good because it is “patently offensive and lacks any artistic, literary or scientific value.” He also requested that Suter be fired and asked the city to pay him and his family $20,000 in damages because the library violated Arkansas obscenity law.

In an e-mail to McCaslin, Adams wrote, “My sons were greatly disturbed by viewing this material and this matter has caused many sleepless nights in our house.”

Adams said that his younger son Kyle found the book while browsing the library’s stacks for books about military academies. It’s worth pointing out that The Whole Lesbian Sex Book, which is no longer in the public library’s catalog, would probably be shelved in under the 613.9 section of the Dewey Decimal System. Books on military academies, (say, David Lipsky’s Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point, which is in the Bentonville Public Library collection), are classified under 355.

When asked in an interview for the San Francisco Chronicle about Adams’s contention that his sons were looking for military books, Newman told Violet Blue:

“Perhaps the book ended up in the military section because the boys hid it there. Or perhaps, having found the book in its proper section, the boys were reading it in the military section, where they had told their father they would be researching military academies. Someone catches them smack in the middle of the fistfucking chapter and they make up the story as an alibi.”

The library’s advisory board voted to remove the book from the stacks while, as Prudenti’s article notes, “a suitable book on the same topic” is found to replace it. Said board member George Spence, “A more sensitive, more clinical approach to same material might be more appropriate for the library.” Adams was invited to attend the board meeting on the book, but did not go.

“I’m not sure what Spence means by clinical. Some people say my book is pretty clinical, in that it gives basic health info, etc.,” Newman said in the Chronicle interview. “But if by ‘clinical’ Spence means boringly technical, I can’t see who is going to write it, let alone read it.”

Suter said that if a more appropriate book is not found, The Whole Lesbian Sex Book will be returned to the stacks. Adams responded, “Any effort to reinstate the book will be met with legal action and protests from the Christian community.”

The city’s attorney, Camille Thompson, told Prudenti, “There is not a valid legal concern here” because the book is not pornographic. She added that Adam’s demand for $20,000 “made me question his motivation.”

Suter, as it turns out, resigned from the Library Director position, effective May 31. Both she and McCaslin said that her resignation had nothing to do with the flap over The Whole Lesbian Sex Book. Suter said that she wanted to spend more time at her art gallery.

Newman sees a silver lining to the controversy over her book: “If there was one teenaged lesbian or bisexual girl in America who didn’t know there was a book about the sexual experiences she so desires, she knows now.”

Lapdances, Constitutionally Protected Free Speech!

Judge’s ruling protects lap dancing as free speech

Dancer was cited in April 2005 after ‘prohibited touching’ of undercover officer

June 30, 2007

Lap dances are legal in Salem, protected by the Oregon Constitution’s free speech provisions, a Marion County judge ruled this week.

A city ordinance outlawing “prohibited touching” — sexually exciting physical contact for pay — has been ruled unconstitutional by Circuit Judge Albin Norblad.

The case involves Laurel Guillen, 24, a dancer at a northeast Salem club called Cheetah’s who gave a lap dance to an undercover officer in April 2005.

Salem residents hoping to limit strip club activity in the city called the ruling a setback.

“You see what they’ve done, they’ve taken free speech and they’ve stretched it to cover everything,” said South Salem resident Julia Allison, a member of Oregonians Protecting Neighborhoods. The group hopes to put a ballot measure before voters amending the state constitution to strengthen government regulation of strip clubs.

Two Salem strip clubs shrugged the ruling off Friday, saying it wouldn’t affect their business because they don’t allow lap dancing.

“We have table dances, where our entertainers stay 6 to 12 inches away at all times,” said Claude DeCorsi, manager of Star’s Cabaret. “Any victory for the adult industry, way to go, but it doesn’t really apply to us.”

Frank Boussad, owner of Presley’s Playhouse Cabaret, said his club also limits activity to table dances. “We don’t allow lap dancing,” he said. “We just try to run a real clean establishment.”

Cheetah’s is a “juice bar” club located on Silverton Road NE, which does not serve alcohol and is open to people 18 and older.

Court records say the officer paid Guillen for touching “her pelvis to his pelvis area and thigh for the purpose of arousing sexual excitement.”

Guillen was found guilty of prohibited touching in Salem Municipal Court in November 2006, fined $250 and sentenced to a year’s probation. She appealed her conviction to the circuit court.

In his ruling, which lawyers received in the mail this week, Norblad cited an Oregon Supreme Court case in which the high court found it legal under the state’s free speech protections for a stripper to rub her breasts against a man’s chest and perform a live sex show with another woman.

Norblad threw out the charge and found Guillen not guilty.

Guillen’s attorney, Kevin Lafky, said the city’s ordinance was written too broadly.

“Laws can applied arbitrarily,” Lafky said. “A whole host of very normal conduct, such as theater performance, movie making, photography — things of that nature — would be illegal under this ordinance as well.”

The ruling also applies, Lafky said, to a second dancer Salem police cited for prohibited touching during the same sting operation at Cheetah’s, Portland resident Stephenie Lawrow, 22.

Guillen, who lives in Gresham, did not respond to phone messages left Friday. No one at Cheetah’s was available for comment.

Salem City Attorney Randall Tosh said he was not prepared to comment Friday.

“We’re going to be doing a review of the ordinance in light of the case, and make some sort of determination to see if we can appeal it,” he said. “We’re considering our options.”

Allison said she hopes some action will be taken.

“I’m a moralist, I guess,”she said. “It’s disgusting. It’s another form of prostitution to me. You can’t tell me that they sit on their laps and that’s it.”

Federal Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs Not Proven Effective in Delaying Sexual Activity Among Young People

Final Report on Federally Funded Programs Released Today

[SIECUS.org] NEW YORK, NY— After years of delay in its release, a federally supported evaluation of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs funded under the 1996 federal welfare reform law has proven the programs ineffective in changing teens’ sexual behavior.  The report, conducted by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found no evidence that abstinence-only programs increased rates of sexual abstinence. Also, students in the abstinence-only programs had a similar number of sexual partners as their peers not in the programs, as well as a similar age of first sex.

“This report should serve as the final verdict on the failure of the abstinence-only industry in this country,” said William Smith, vice president for public policy of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS).  “It shows, once again, that these programs fail miserably in actually helping young people behave more responsibly when it comes to their sexuality,” Smith continued.

In 1996, the federal government attached a provision to the welfare reform law establishing a federal program for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.  This program, Section 510(b) of Title V of the Social Security Act, dedicated $50 million per year to be distributed among states that choose to participate.  States accepting the funds are required to match every four federal dollars with three state-raised dollars (for a total of $87.5 million annually, and $787.5 million for the eight years from fiscal year 1998 through 2006).  Programs that receive the Title V funding are prohibited from discussing methods of contraception, including condoms, except in the context of failure rates.

On a call yesterday organized by the Abstinence Clearinghouse, abstinence-only proponents were clearly rocked by the potentially ruinous news in the report.  High profile abstinence-only advocate, Robert Rector, led the preemptive damage-control planning.  He outlined several strategies the abstinence-only movement could use to rationalize the findings in the report saying, “The other spin I think is very important is not [program] effectiveness, but rather the values that are being taught,” Rector said.  Whether or not these programs work is a “bogus issue,” Rector continued.  

Whether or not these programs are effective is the single most important issue.  Existing research has already shown that comprehensive programs that include messages about both condoms and abstinence have been proven effective, and yet, federal and state governments continue to dump millions of dollars into abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that are not effective, and, in fact, have been shown to cause harm,” continued Smith

Eight states have already made the decision to refuse Title V money.  The overwhelming feeling in these states has been that the money came with too many strings attached, was ineffective in achieving its goals, and promoted extremist policies. Even with increasing numbers of states recognizing the waste and futility of the Title V spending, a federal legislative solution is still needed to ensure that proven, comprehensive sexuality education gets the funding it needs.  

“This Congress has a momentous opportunity to end the charade and use these federal funds to support programs that actually work,” said Smith.  “We fully expect this Congress to look at the government’s own commissioned evidence set forth in this report and end funding for these failed and ideologically driven programs,” Smith continued. 

The program under scrutiny in the report is set to expire on June 30, 2007 unless Congress takes some action to extend it.

‘Abstinence Only’ Sex Ed Ineffective

Congressionally Funded Study Shows Programs Do Not Keep Teens From Having Sex

From ABCnews.com 

April 17, 2007— – Just saying no may not be an effective strategy in keeping kids from having sex, a newly released study reports.

The research could have major implications for the $176 million in government funds that abstinence-only sex-education programs receive annually — funding that is set to expire on June 30 unless Congress takes some action to extend it.

The evaluation, conducted by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, examined the impact of the abstinence-only-until-marriage programs funded under the 1996 federal welfare reform law.

Through the study, more than 2,000 children were randomly assigned to groups that received abstinence-only counseling and those who received no counseling. Over the next four to six years, numerous surveys were done to determine the impact of these programs on the behavior of the kids.

Researchers found no evidence that these abstinence-only programs increased rates of sexual abstinence.

The study also showed that the students participating in these abstinence-only programs had a similar number of sexual partners as their peers not in the programs, and that the age of first sex was similar for both groups too.

“The basic takeaway message is that there are no differences between the two groups on any behavioral outcomes,” says lead study author Christopher Trenholm, a senior researcher at Mathematica Policy Research.

Debate Continues Over Effectiveness

Rather than calming the disagreements over how the federal government should approach teen sex as a public health issue, the report has, if anything, added fuel to the debate

Some sexuality experts say the study only confirms what most sexuality researchers have already known — that abstinence-only programs simply do not work.

“The data coming forth now is simple proof — solid, unassailable evidence to back up what many of us have known from the get-go,” says Joy Davidson, a certified sex therapist in New York City who is on the board of directors of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapist.

“There have been studies that have been done over the last few years at least that have made it quite clear that abstinence-only education is not only a waste of money, but it is a danger to young adults as well.”

“This is a social agenda masquerading as teen pregnancy prevention,” says Martha Kempner, vice president for information and communications at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. “This administration has allowed ideology to trump science at every possible opportunity.

“I hope that Congress will look at this and see that there is a lot of money that is not working, and say ‘hey, we need that money elsewhere.'”

On the other side of the argument, proponents of abstinence-only programs say the results of the study only show that more effort must be poured into the programs to reap true dividends.

“The Mathematica report does not support a conclusion that abstinence-only education programs should no longer be funded,” said Dr. Gary Rose, president and CEO of the Medical Institute, in a statement released Friday. “To the contrary, the report specifically indicates that programs should continue with changes where necessary to make them more effective, particularly promoting support for abstinence among peer networks as an important feature.”

“Many of the programs were in a stage of early development when the evaluation occurred,” wrote Robert Rector, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, in a critique of the report. He added that the fact that participants in the programs were quite young, and follow-up education was lacking could have contributed to the failure.

“The main lesson that should be taken from this study is that interventions at a very early age require significant follow-up, or they’ll be less likely to alter teen risk behaviors,” he wrote.

Some critics have also maintained that the lack of high school programs in the study shows that the study is not representative of the overall impact of this funding. Indeed, two of the programs focused on upper elementary school students and the other two, on middle school students. None of the four included a high school component.

Trenholm says these criticisms overlook the fact that most of the money earmarked for these programs does not go to high school programs anyway.

“We went where the funding went,” Trenholm says. “Virtually every program taking funding was at the middle school and elementary levels, and not at the high school level.”

Is ‘Comprehensive’ Any Better?

Proponents of abstinence-only sex education programs maintain that “comprehensive” sex-education programs — those that introduce ideas of safe sex in addition to abstinence — are untested and may not yield any better results.

“I don’t think that this is quite true,” Kempner says, adding that programs that go beyond abstinence have yet to receive the same federal funding and support enjoyed by their abstinence-only counterparts.

“We don’t have any money,” she says. “We need some money and some time like the abstinence-only people got.”

Kempner adds that promising research backs up comprehensive programs.

“We have some good research suggesting that comprehensive programs are effective,” she says. “I think that we will have much more support on comprehensive sex education, and I think this study will be a part of it.”

Davidson argues that such programs could put more responsibility in the hands of the teens themselves, allowing them “make much better decisions” when it comes to sex.

“Abstinence-only education treats smart, thoughtful teens as if they are incapable of absorbing information or understanding themselves,” she says.

“If government officials finally understand how important it is that young people receive complete and accurate sex information, whatever the cost of this study, it will have been worth it. It’s time that people wake up.”

Peer Relationships May Be Most Important

The report also included a hint of good news about teen sex in the United States.

“On the other side, we also did not see any increase in unprotected sex,” Trenholm says, adding that many researchers had expected to see a spike in unsafe sex due to the fact that existing programs do not cover the proper use of birth control.

This, as well as other evidence uncovered in the study, suggests that peer relationships are particularly important when it comes to predicting abstinence — an area for future study, Trenholm says.

“The idea is that future programs may want to seek out, build and maintain peer relations through clubs and other groups,” Trenholm says. “In this way, I think it’s suggestive of a good direction for the field to go in.”

Principal roasts Starbucks over steamy retro logo

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Insider: Principal roasts Starbucks over steamy retro logo

 

Starbucks’ trip down memory lane to bring back its original mermaid logo on its cups has brewed up some controversy.

  Logos then and now
  In honor of its 35th anniversary, Starbucks’ replaced its current mermaid logo with the original, top.

A Kent elementary school principal, according to a local TV station, asked teachers last week that if they were bringing their daily joe to school that they make sure they get a sleeve to cover the image of a topless mermaid on Starbucks cups.

The Seattle-based coffee giant, as part of its 35th anniversary, this month put its original logo with the bare-breasted mermaid on its cups in stores in Washington and Oregon.

Valerie O’Neil, a Starbucks spokeswoman, said that other than the flare-up in Kent, it’s been pretty quiet regarding the mermaid.

“Customers like to see the old logo,” she said. “It’s all about perspective.”

Even though Starbucks is a twin-tailed mermaid, or siren as she’s known in Greek mythology, the company actually got its moniker from the first mate’s name in the classic novel “Moby Dick.”

Offensive Boobs

From The bOOb Lady’s Blog

Heard the one about the woman thrown off a plane for refusing to cover her baby’s head when breastfeeding? It’s no joke. Seated by the window at the back of the plane next to her hubby, she could hardly be considered in-flight entertainment. But the flight attendant—genderless, by all accounts—found the sight of a mother nursing a child to be “offensive.”

While it sounds bizarre, this story is similar to one reported back in July. In that case, readers objected to the mere image of a breastfeeding baby on the cover of BabyTalk, a free publication targeted to (big surprise here) new moms. Letter writers used words like “gross,” or said they were “shocked to see a giant breast on the cover of your magazine.” One woman considered it a form of flashing, stating “I don’t want my son or husband to accidentally see a breast they didn’t want to see.” Accidentally? In some cultures, women’s breasts are purposely left uncovered at all times, making it easy for them to do the centuries-old job nature intended: feeding babies. What’s unnatural are boobs deliberately hiked up by some tits-on-a-platter bra, á la Victoria’s Secret.In today’s civilized society, women must stage “nurse-ins” and lobby for laws to protect their right to breastfeed in public. But there’s no legislation shielding our eyes from the endless images of provocatively-posed models in their skivvies–ready for work or play in a pair of indispensable stiletto heels. These airbrushed, photo-shopped, cartoon bosoms could poke out an eye, or two! One wonders whether the above-mentioned reader has any concern for the continuous over-exposure to suggestive lingerie ads. It could leave the impression that breasts can only be appreciated for their erotic value. Guess it’s all in how you look at boobs.

BabyTalk CoverVictoria's Secret ad

Double Standards as a Method of Control

A quote from Nerve.com’s interview with Marcos Siega about his movie, Pretty Persuasion, “a dark satire-cum-morality play about a sex scandal at an elite Beverly Hills private school”

N: How has teen sexual awareness changed?
MS: Guys sort of want slutty girls, the ones who wear nothing and dance around and look really sexy. But once they get them, then they want the tame, non-sexual girls. That’s probably been around forever, but today you get so many mixed signals. You read People, or In Style, or those other magazines — they’re all selling midriffs, cleavage, and breast implants. But if a girl does that, she’s labeled slutty. <1>

Indeed she does often retain this lable given to her by both her male and female peers.  The double standard as we know it, is: a man who is is having sex is (what the kids call) “a player” while the female who embraces her sexuality is termed a slut, a whore, etc.  Why the double standard?  Control. 

Most Men feel the need to dominate to conquer, while females (according to men’s machissimo manifesto) are to be the conquered.  Which is why in some traditional societies such as Latino, Mid/near eastern, Indian, etc, the men of a woman’s family are seen as the guardians of her chastity.  Brothers and fathers act under the guise of protecting her virtue, while in all actuality they are controlling her body, and hindering her social and sexual devolpment. 

In the west they may just control her mentally and physically by not letting her go anywhere or controlling her wardrobe; there are also more serious things that happen such as the barbaric genital mutilation (which is often carried about by older women), and “honour” killings.  All of which are uncalled for and speak of the unequal and subserviant (some say sub-human) level by which they view “their” women.

But back to the article, it speaks about what men want and what happens after.  These men are attracted by the sexuality of the girl, “the ones who wear nothing and dance around and look really sexy” but once they conquer that fericious beast they seek to tame her, to de-sexualize, to keep her sexuality, her body, her mind, her emotions and have them exclusivly at his command.  Why want then change?  Control.  Men really are idiots, animals, with no self-control.

Why must men feel the need to control women? Are we not equal? Who gave men the right? Why do we let (ergo encourage) this behaviour?  We are all responsible for allowing this.  We need to all be responsible to stop it. 

Really guys, be a (real) man and love yourself enough to love others. And ladies, do not  let anyone control you, the way you live / speak/think/feel/dress/act etc.  Be your own woman and dont be afraid to be yourself.  Who you want to be, not what someone else wants you to be.

It is your individuality that makes you special.

<1> http://www.nerve.com/screeningroom/film/prettypersuasion/

Freedom

Freedom entails control over one’s body. The idea that the State ought to control female reproduction is therefore an odious violation of the autonomy that feminism seeks to uphold.

So how free exactly are we?

And by whose definition? Are ppl in the USA ‘more free’ then the ppl in Iran or Cuba. And by what divine right do Americans/The West get to decide who is free and who is “in-need” of “liberation”?

Most of the times, Western “liberators” tend to…(to be continued.)

A few notes and quotes from "Dreams of Trespass"

Mostly regarding islamic feminism and women’s rights in general.

From Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood By Fatima Mernissi

– Regarding those “women who [ally] themselves with men [and their msgynist philosophies] as being responsible for women’s suffering…these women are more dangerous then men…because physically they look just like [other women]…but they are really wolves posing as sheep”

– “[Fate] and happiness…how to escape the first and pursue the second…[women’s] solidarity, many [agree is] key to both”

-“[The] problem with [(most) arabic/islamic] women today [in the middle east and N.Africa] is that they are powerless…[and] powerlessness stems from ignorance, and a lack of education”.

– The main thing for the powerless is to have a dream…[true], a dream alone, without the bargaining power to go with it, does not transform the world or make the walls vanish, but it does help you keep ahold of dignity.”

Dignity is to have a dream, a strong one, which gives you a vision, a world
where you have a place, where whatever it is you have to contribute makes a
difference.

You are in a harem[restricted/controlled] when the world does not [think it needs] you.

You are in a harem when what you can contribute does not [seem to] make a difference.

You are in a harem when what you do [men think] is useless.

You are in a harem when the planet swirls around, with you buried up to your neck in scorn and neglect.

Only one person can change that situation and make the planet go around the other way, and that is you[emphasis mine].

If you stand up against scorn, and dream of a different world, the planet’s direction will be altered.

But what you need to avoid at all costs, is to let the scorn around you get inside.

When a woman starts thinking she is nothing, the little sparrows cry.

Who can defend [those sparrows] on the terrace, if no one has the vision of a world without slingshots?

Mothers should tell [their] little girls…about the importance of dreams [and hope]…[they] give a sense of direction…you need to have a vision. [Can] you distinguish amoung all the wishes, the cravings which beseiged you, and find the one on which you ought to focus, the important dream which [gives] you vision? [The] key dream [will] emerge and bloom within, and then, from the intense pleasure it [gives to] you, you [will] know that it [is a] genuine little treasure which [will] give you direction and light…[you’ll] be able to transform people [from these dreams of freedom].

– “[Gender seperation] creates an enormous gap in understanding. ‘Men do not understand women…and women do not understand men…[the] cosmic frontier indicates the line of power, because wherever threre is a frontier, there are two kinds of creatures walking on [this] earth, the powerful on one side and the powerless on the other” Where do you stand? “If you cant get out [are restrained, held back due to your sex] you are on the powerless side” Is that where you want to be? Do the “impossible”, stand up for yourself and for those who cannot stand up for themselves. It is your right. Make it happen!

Standing alone, no longer…

From Asra Nomani’s Standing Alone in Mecca:

An Islamic Bill of Rights for Women in the Bedroom
1. Women have an Islamic right to respectful and pleasurable sexual experience.
2. Women have an Islamic right to make independent decisions about their bodies, including the right to say no to sex.
3. Women have an Islamic right to make independent decisions about their partner, including the right to say no to a husband marrying a second wife.
4. Women have an Islamic right to make independent decisions about their choice of a partner.
5. Women have an Islamic right to make independent decisions about contraception and reproduction.
6. Women have an Islamic right to protection from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
7. Women have an Islamic right to sexual privacy.
8. Women have an Islamic right to exemption from criminalization or punishment for consensual adult sex.
9. Women have an Islamic right to exemption from gossip and slander.
10. Women have an Islamic right to sexual health care and sex education.

An Islamic Bill of Rights for Women in the Mosques
1. Women have an Islamic right to enter a mosque.
2. Women have an Islamic right to enter through the main door.
3. Women have an Islamic right to visual and auditory access to the musalla (main sanctuary).
4. Women have an Islamic right to pray in the musalla without being separated by a barrier, including in the front and in mixed-gender congregational lines.
5. Women have an Islamic right to address any and all members of the congregation.
6. Women have an Islamic right to hold leadership positions, including positions as prayer leaders, or imams, and as members of the board of directors and management committees.
7. Women have an Islamic right to be full participants in all congregational activities.
8. Women have an Islamic right to lead and participate in meetings, study sessions, and other community activities without being separated by a barrier.
9. Women have an Islamic right to be greeted and addressed cordially.
10. Women have an Islamic right to respectful treatment and exemption from gossip and slander.