Dr. Doe’s Sexplanations

Dr. Lindsey Doe is a clinical sexologist who hosts the Youtube channel Sexplanations. Sexplanations co-created by Dr. Doe and Hank Green from the Vlogbrothers, a Youtube channel run by Hank and his brother John Green, to provide free sex education to the public. The first video titled “Meet Lindsey Doe!” went live on June 10th, 2013; since then there have been 63 total episodes of Sexplenations uploaded to Youtube. All of which discuse diffrent topecs of sex, sexuality, and gender. Sexplanations is crowd funded by its viewers and has a subscription count of 170,133 users.

Dr. Doe is all about being sex positive and educating people of safe, consensual ways to enjoy their bodies while also educating them about their bodies. This is a value she shares with the GSRM community, which also values consent, sex positivity, and sex education. Dr. Doe sees a lack of education in the public school systems in sex education and is using the platform of Youtube to educate the public about sex and their bodies. Not only does Sexplanations benefit normative individuals but also benefit those in the GSRM and Kink communities by provided information for all individuals. Dr. Doe also keeps her channel open to everyone by using inclusive non-heteronormative and non-cisnormative language. Sexplanations also makes efforts to education people not only about normative heterosexual sex but also other forms of sex and sexual, romantic, and gender identities.

In Sexplanations Dr. Doe treats sex as a normal activity that is done in many different ways by many different people. This relates to how sex is seen as taboo in heterosexual circles, which we talked about at the start of this unit. By normalizing her language in regard to sex Dr. Doe is normalizing sexual activity and attempting to erase this taboo. In the process she is also normalizing all the different kinds of sex people have, from masturbation to sex with one partner of the same sex to BDSM. Dr. Doe goes even farther in her discussion of sex by also normalizing education of the body and teaches her audience about their bodies without shame or withholding information. In addition to normalizing a subject our society normally views as taboo Dr. Doe is also providing an education to a wide audience as her videos have no age restriction and can be viewed by anyone with an internet connection. This allows people of all ages to educate themselves about sex and their bodies from an early age. The lack of availability of sex education for young people is one of the many problems we talked about in class. Sexplanations offers an alternative way for people to educate themselves on sex outside of the public education system and their parents.

Sex by Madonna

Madonna is undeniably an icon. Despite starting her career in the 1980s, she is still a prominent public figure. Her vast media presence even to this day includes such websites as Wikipedia, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, IMDb, and even madonna.com. Her 2003 VMA performance with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, 1984 song “Like A Virgin,” and “Vogue” dance style are just a few of Madonna’s lasting cultural impressions. Madonna is more than just the “Queen of Pop”; she is an idol to the queer community. She has used her years as an actress, singer, songwriter, producer, dancer, businesswoman, and author as a platform for her to advocate for the gay community.

Coming in at #3 in advocate.com‘s “10 Times Madonna Put the ‘Homo’ In Homoerotic” is SexThis 1992 coffee-table book caused an uproar, prompting her then-boyfriend Vanilla Ice to break up with her, despite appearing in the book himself. Additional celebrities featured include Naomi Campbell, Joey Stefano, and Isabella Rossellini. Photographed by Steven Meisel Studios and published by Warner Books, Sex is a spiral-bound book with a metal cover, released to stores with a Mylar cover to prevent non-buyers’ prying eyes. Despite the bans and bad press, the book sold 150,000 copies its first day and eventually cracked the New York Times bestseller list.

Sex is an uncensored work following the character’s exploits via images and anecdotes. (For a detailed look at many of the pages in Sex, click the image above.)

madonnasex5_20081216_1792207242The first page advocates for safe sex, stating, “If I were to make my dreams real, I would certainly use condoms. Safe sex saves lives. Pass it on.” Specifically citing AIDS as the impetus behind this, Madonna brings a queer issue to the forefront. This is a responsible message whose LGBT+ positive tone persists throughout the book. In addition to heterosexual sex acts, the book contains depictions of many controversial sexualities (including but not limited to: BDSM, male homosexuality, female homosexuality, bestiality, sex with a minor, sex in public, group sex, childhood sexuality, interracial sex, and masturbation). Chapter 9 of Gayle Rubin’s From Gender to Sexuality explores the history behind the aversion to these expressions of sexuality, and it calls into question the established norms of sexuality via the “charmed circle.” Madonna’s Sex completely ignores Victorian tradition and provides the entire sexual community with soft-core porn for thought.

The images are powerful not only by their content but also by their reality. Madonna and/or her character in the book, Dita, writes,

“Everyone has their sexuality. It’s how you treat people in everyday life that counts, not what turns you on in your fantasy… A movie like In the Realm of the Senses turns me on because it’s real… I wouldn’t want to watch anyone get hurt, male or female. But generally I don’t think pornography degrades women.”

The use of “their” as a singular/gender-neutral pronoun may be alluding to acceptance of the trans community, although admittedly it may just be loose grammar. The idea that fantasy should not define you and that your attitudes toward people should is important to queer culture. The real emotions and feelings behind Madonna/Dita’s fantasies are crucial to book’s message; this is not fake. Interior: Leather Bar publicizes gay male sexuality by showing a real gay couple acting out a staged sex scene. Although staged, the intimacy is real, which norms the otherwise “deviant” activity of homosexuality. By incorporating true longing, intimacy, and fantasy into Sex, Madonna norms many controversial sexualities.

 

Shibari and Kinbaku

Rope has long served as a staple in the bondage aspect of BDSM in Western culture. Yet, much of what is practiced today in regards to rope bondage has evolved from Eastern culture, specifically Japan. In the 1400s rope became a tool used by Japanese warriors to secure their captured enemies on battlefields, and by the 1600s it became common in law enforcement. The forms that the warriors and law enforcement used became known as Hojojutsu, which was characterized by quick knots made from natural fiber rope. It was recognized as a martial art (think jujitsu or karate).

Hojojutsu

Over the years Hojojutsu faded from practice and is not widely practiced today. However, it serves as the main influence for modern rope bondage that is practiced both in the East and the West. The two main modern forms are called Shibari and Kinbaku.

The word shibari in Japanese means “decorative tying” and was not used in the context of bondage, but rather for things like wrapping ribbon on presents. Western culture took the word and applied it to bondage, giving it its meaning today. Kinbaku is a Japanese verb meaning “bind tightly” and the meaning has stayed relatively the same in Western usage. There is no exact date when the West started to adopt these practices from Japan, but for hundreds of years they have been slowly assimilating into the Western BDSM culture.

Kinbaku in practice. I waded through a lot of stuff to find these pictures so I hope you appreciate them…

There is some debate over the differences between the two forms because each person who practices does so in a slightly different way. Both forms are considered erotic, but they achieve this in slightly different ways. The most recognized difference is that Shibari gains its erotic nature through the actual beauty of the rope and the study behind it. It is much more about the aesthetic of the rope than the functionality of the bindings. The rope can be synthetic and colored though normal it is uncolored and natural. It is slightly thinner than the rope used in Kinbaku.

Kinbaku gains its erotica more through the functionality of the intricate knots than their appearance. It uses thicker rope, and it uses jute rope, which is a natural fibre. Kinbaku is much more about restraint than appearance and is considered to be more erotic and sexual than Shibari.

Shibari. Notice the lack of any actual restraints.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fusion bondage is the modern Western product that incorporates the Japanese forms of Shibari and Kinbaku. It is one of the most varied forms but also the most common in the West. It borrows aspects of the original two forms, but adds aspects like colored and synthetic rope. Fusion bondage does not have the confines that the traditional forms have and is considered to be more a free form of bondage.

Both Kinbaku and Shibari can be practiced by men or women on men or women. The person who has studied the form and ties the knots is known as a rigger. There are several well-known riggers in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. One that particularly caught my eye name is Lee Harrington, who is trans sexuality and spiritual educator. He explains that Shibari for him is all about the study and knowledge that goes into the ropework. He derives his pleasure from the ropes aesthetic instead of the body of the person he is using the rope on.

Kinbaku

We have spent a lot of time in class trying to define what sex is and where fetishes fit into that definition, which is what lead me to researching this topic. I find it interesting that both forms are considered erotic and can give the participants sexual pleasure, without anything we would consider traditional sex being involved (no genitalia). From what I understand, a rigger and their participant do not have to have any sexual attraction to one another in order to derive pleasure from the act, although I would image that sexual attraction to one another would enhance these feeling. It is more the rope and the knots that give the pleasure and sexual satisfaction to those involved, which further muddies the waters of a clear sex definition.

For some, their ropework defines who they are and lets them break free from the constraints put on them by sexual identities. For instance, a straight male rigger who derives his pleasure from the actual ropework would have no problem tying up a man. We talked in class how some people’s sexual identity is not the main priority when fetishes are involved. A person might identify as a rigger instead of a lesbian for example.

If you are interested in the actual knots involved and how to tie them, here is a link.

 

 

#LoveisLove CondividiLove

If we take a look at at world map of same sex marriage, we can see how progressive western Europe has been. But there is one country on the map that has not had the same progression.

Since 1890 in Italy, for both males and females homosexuality has been legal, but same-sex couples and households are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples. Although discrimination regarding sexual orientation in employment has been banned since 2003, no other anti-discrimination laws regarding sexual orientation have been enacted yet. This is largely due to the influence of the Catholic Church in Italy.  The church has been strict with its laws concerning homosexuality. Even though Pope Francis has made efforts to reform the church and make it more open, saying that the church should support gay families, he has encountered resistance from some traditionalists. With the issue of gay marriage being talked about all over the world, a new campaign has been launched in Italy to get the conversation started in their country. CondividiLove is an internet campaign on Facebook, Youtube, and website. The name translated into english means “share love” and that is the main goal of this campaign.

This video features couples, gay and straight, embracing and showing their love with their arms and shoulders creating a heart. The video was also turned into posters that made their way to tumblr.

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Tumblr has a pretty substantial LGBTQ+ community and so photos and campaigns like this tend to get many “notes”: similar to likes, shares and comments on facebook. Tumblr’s format allows for users to blog anonymously and customise their blogs to their tastes and I think this is why many people in the LGBTQ+ community has found refuge in it. The users of the site consider themselves proactive for the most part with many issues like gay marriage, gender equality and racial issues.

One of the issues that several tumblr users brought up was that all the couples featured were white. The popular of Italy is largely white and the campaign was for the citizens there. A user spoke on behalf of this issue:

Not everywhere is as mixed as North America. You go to places like Japan and it would be really weird to see a white person in their ad, it’s no different for places like Italy and Germany where people are mostly white. In North American we seem to have a decently even mix in a lot of areas so it’s a little off-putting when there’s only a certain race -generally all white people- depicted, where it’s completely normal and would appear really strange otherwise for other countries. Like you wouldn’t go to China and demand they show white people in their ads there, so why would you do the same for a country that has very few PoC compared to it’s population?

One Italian user was very upset about that someone brought up the race issue.

Seriously, I am Italian, and FUCK YOU. Our country has huge problems with homophobia, there isn’t even one single law to protect homosexuals. Most European countries have legalized marriage and adoption (or at least talked about it), but not Italy. The Catholic community does everything they can to block the law against homophobia. Last month, a 14 years-old killed himself because he was gay. You have no idea how much that kind of thing matters in Italy, all you can fucking do is whine about Tumblr about the fact that they are all white. Yes, in Italy the majority of the population is indeed white. Not the rest of the world is like fucking North America.

I think this users harsh reaction shows just how important campaigns like this are to the citizens of Italy. It brings issues like gay marriage into the spotlight so that conversations can be opened up. Hopefully the CondividiLove campaign will continue to grow and will aid in allowing for more gay rights in Italy.

 

KAZAKY

Kazaky is a synthetic-pop, dance heavy, Ukrainian-based boyband that came together in Kiev, Ukraine back in 2010. Current band members consist of Kirill Fedorenko, Artur Gaspar, Artemy Lazarev, and Oleg Zhezhel. Famous for their 5.5-inch custom stilettos, the band first gained momentum towards the end of 2010 with the release of their first single, “In the Middle.” The song transfixed audiences across the world as members started out in more masculine clothing and then transitioned to a more androgynous appearance with their infamous heels. Their second single, “Love,” further expanded their popularity, with the music video reaching nearly 5 million views. The band has now produced two studio albums (The Hills Chronicles and I Like It (Part 1 + 2)) and numerous music videos. Unsurprisingly, the band members even appeared in one of Madonna’s music videos, “Girl Gone Wild” – Madonna obviously has a pattern of including backup performers that can dance significantly better than her. In addition to their studio albums and music videos, Kazaky has been featured in numerous high profile publications due to their bold and intrepid taste in fashion.

With backgrounds as trained dancers, group members are famous for their intricate and synchronized dance moves that draw upon many different styles and cultures. Kazaky’s choreography consists primarily of acrobatic dance, voguing, and waacking. Members of the band contrast gender with their high stilettos, hyper masculine physique, dark sensual androgynous fashion, and runway style dance choreography. More interestingly, band members intentionally keep their sexual identities hidden, only pointing out that some members are gay while others are not. In a response comment on one of their Youtube videos, member Oleg Zhezhel states, “the reason we never answer this question is because we try to keep a kind of mysterious charm.” Member Kirill Fedorenko adds, “We are unbiased in terms of being pro-straight or pro-gay. There is no gender-related implication. It’s all about the dance and the movement.” In addition to adding a level of curiosity, the band’s decision to withhold their sexual identities can be seen as a form of protective secrecy against their anti-queer, fascist political state.

On March 4, 2013 the band released a new track and video, “Crazy Law”.

Although not confirmed, it’s been speculated that the song and video are responding to the anti-gay propaganda legislation coming out of Russia. While synchronously dancing in intense leather and kink-spired clothing, band members promote ideals of self-love, desire, peace, and gender-nonconformity.

“Why am I feeling? This is a crazy law
You can have many looks, even how you’re born
Why am I feeling, this is a crazy law
I’m not trying to show you something wrong”

In the opening lines, band members question the validity of Russia’s homophobic legislation. Emphasizing a dynamic, non-singular attitude towards outward appearance, more arguably gender, the band rejects typical static, singular, and dichotomous stereotypes of gender. The band members argue that their performance and appearance is not unnatural, but instead a valid and real identity. Towards the end of the song members sing:

“Keep your dreams, keep your plans
All of this things you have is nice

The crazy best it’s now with us
Your body disappears don’t come up
Look around a lot of noise
Never gonna lose your voice”

Band members again reiterate a sense of anarchic validation towards individuality and separatism. They encourage listeners to maintain eccentricity and self-advocacy despite living within a controlling and repressive environment. Though Audre Lorde argues for a new modern understanding of the erotic from an empowering female perspective, one could connect ideas from her writing to members of Kazaky. Kazaky’s performances can be seen as a source of erotic power, and a sharing of that power with their viewers. With their androgynous, gender-bending looks and outward projection of multi-faceted sexual identities, members refuse submittal to traditional gender and sexual expectations. Instead, members foster power from within themselves and from within their differences and similarities. They search for new understandings of the erotic and attempt to bring that power to those stripped of it by oppressive political structures.