Privilege, Blackface, and the Burden of Education

(This post is coming as a result of a debate on a listserv of which I’m a member)
The first reaction to a claim of “that’s racist” or “that’s fucked up” or anything in that vein should not be kneejerk defensiveness + “I AM NOT RACIST” + “LOOK AT ALL MY MINORITY FRIENDS.” In instances where someone is calling us out, we need to listen before trying to defend ourselves
No, blackface is not an homage, even if the wearer intended it as such. Blackface and any other cultural appropriation can be deeply offensive, even under the guise or art and political commentary. Have any of you heard the “We’re a culture, not a costume” poster campaign? If not, you should check it out. A poster on Autostraddle summed it up pretty well:  “The problem with racially insensitive Halloween costumes: While people who dress up as racial stereotypes might be able to take the disguise off the day after Halloween, people who are minorities can’t. And the resonance of everything from a geisha to a terrorist stereotype persists long after the end of October.”
Another interesting discussion? This video from The View. It’s interesting because two folks “of the group being discussed” don’t agree on the matter.
My takeaway points?
  • Just because some folks in a minority group are not offended does not mean that the action is suddenly okay or shouldn’t be construed as offensive to other members of that community. In this case, just because Whoopi was fine with it doesn’t discount (and shouldn’t minimize) the point that the other person was making.
  • People can be very aware and sensitive around some issues, but entirely clueless about others. Also, let’s remember that just because someone makes fucked up OR super intelligent statements doesn’t mean they are fucked up OR super intelligent across the board. For example, in the Halloween video I was totally on board with the speaker opposing Whoopi, but in this video, I’m totally on board with Whoopi and her defense of Sasha Grey.
  • Being ignorant about an action’s cultural baggage and the stereotypes that come along with it is UNDERSTANDABLE when folks come from a position of privilege where they have never had to think about that baggage. HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean the ignorance is OKAY or that it should be allowed to continue and be perpetuated. *This is an important distinction.*
  • At the same time, people with privileges shouldn’t just expect that people from oppressed groups educate them one-on-one and on-demand. This is what happens a lot, though, and it’s exhausting as fuck. For a person who’s asking to be informed about privilege, it’s just one question; for the person getting asked, it’s sometimes a constant stream of “please educate me.” And EVEN if the people come with great intentions, they need to understand that minority groups don’t have all the time/energy to educate every single person. There needs to be empathy on both sides, of course, but we need to understand how these things work so we can see where the anger comes from. There are many resources out there at our disposal. Let’s use them. Let’s also not be *afraid* to ask our friends who are part of minority groups to help us learn, but let’s understand their potential reluctance/rejection and not take it “personally.”
  • Aside from the issues around education, folks in minority communities DAILY have to deal with the systems that fuck them over. Not trying to paint this as “woe is me I’m so oppressed,” but honestly–we need to think about all the daily stressors people face around their social positions and identities so we can be more compassionate and try to understand where they’re coming from. 
Finally, here are some more resources:

Tumblin’ Into Self-Love

The media is everywhere, dictating what we should do, buy, eat, and think. It’s also dictating, subtly and not-so-subtly, how we should look in order to be appreciated and desired. Because we live in a media-heavy world that (overall) uses racist, ableist, sizeist, sexist, homophobic, distorted images in marketing, many people don’t see themselves as represented (or at least not fully). Certain bodies and communities don’t get attention, and if they do, it’s usually negative on some level. Furthermore, based on what’s perpetuated, many people see themselves as flawed and unattractive, creating a barrier to establishing loving, intimate relationships with others and with oneself.

So how can we disrupt the constant signal from mainstream media and learn to love ourselves more? How can we undo some of the damage that has already been caused? Smashing the entire advertising industry and all forms of media is not the immediate solution. There are steps we can take, smaller but meaningful, that involve our media more carefully and surrounding ourselves with positive images and empowering messages.

There are havens for different types of bodies and niches for all sorts of desires and communities out there, and one of those places can be Tumblr.

So what’s Tumblr?
Tumblr is a blogging platform where users can post text, videos, audio, links, images, and quotations to their “tumblelog” and other users can “follow” them. Every member has a “dashboard” where all the posts from the people they follow are aggregated, making staying up to date with other users quick and easy. Its focus isn’t on personal, “journal-like” entries (though those certainly exist in great numbers), but instead on “microblogging” and sharing interesting content. Essentially, Tumblr is both a place and the medium for collage-creation; Tumblr provides the cyber-territory as well as the content that people can use to paste information and build networks.

What makes this different from Livejournal, WordPress, Blogger…?
Unlike other platforms that focus more on the individual’s story (e.g. Livejournal), Tumblr focuses on sharing and dialogue. Due to Tumblr’s structure, it functions as a big social hub for people all over the globe. I think the key is its “reblogging” feature, which allows users to put someone else’s content on their own tumblelog. This, in turn, not only spreads content rapidly (making certain things go viral immediately), but also allows for dialogue between users (when people reblog others’ content and then add on comments and/or more information) that spreads commentary beyond the place where it originated.

And how does this relate to self-esteem?
By making conscious choices about which blogs to follow, people can essentially curate their own little empowerment stream. By providing people with a constant flow of content on their dashboard, Tumblr can help people grow more comfortable with and/or accepting of certain bodies and communities. Like I mentioned earlier, Tumblr can also open up dialogue and facilitate community-building/networking, so people can discuss and come together via this platform. The “dark” side of this is that people can isolate themselves and create a “bubble” that some say excludes and marginalizes as well. However, I’m not advocating for Tumblr to become the one and only tool for consciousness-raising that’s supposed to build community and expand minds and achieve world peace…I’m saying that people can use Tumblr as productive tool to help them in a larger project of self-loving and appreciation.

So where do I go from here? How can I use this tool?
Join Tumblr and follow blogs that you find empowering–blogs that show people like you and/or those that you find attractive. By surrounding yourself with self-selected, positive content, you’ll be able to undo some of the damage that mainstream media has potentially caused, see bodies and opinions that are otherwise invisible, and get in touch with like-minded individuals. Be warned, though, that like any other place where people can post content, you may find certain things offensive and/or triggering, so practice self-care and be aware of what you’re clicking (or what to do in the event that you click something unpleasant). Take the opportunity to also step outside yourself and beyond your comfort zone. Because we all have multiple identities, it’s likely that by following even like-minded individuals, you’ll be exposed to new things that might push your boundaries and/or expand your horizons.

Now that I have Tumblr, how do I start building an empowering dashboard?

  • Take advantage of the fuckyeah[insert noun].tumblr.com phenomenon. Basically, these Tumblrs are repositories for the things they advertise on their URLs (so fuckyeahfreckles would have tons of content related to freckles). There are many useful ones that relate to body image, self-esteem, appearance, sex, erotica, and more! If you want to check for FYs, search for them here: http://isitafyeah.com/. If your desired FY blog doesn’t exist, create and curate it!
  • Look at the Followers Lists for small blogs you find empowering. You can do this with bigger blogs, too, but the more well-known the blog, the harder it will be to sift through followers to find ones that directly appeal to you. Another variant of this is to look at the people who have liked or reblogged certain posts you find empowering and inspiring.
  • Explore Tumblr (http://www.tumblr.com/explore) by clicking on categories or by searching for specific tags (e.g. lace, empowerment, sexy, food, etc.).

Response to Ridiculous TFP Article

Want to read the article I’ll be dissecting? Click here.

What we faced today at Brown University, an Ivy League university, had the flavor of a religious persecution. As we peacefully campaigned, about 250 frenzied pro-homosexual students gathered to scream, spit, taunt, insult, assault, and even attempt to destroy our traditional marriage banner. Only with supernatural protection, and a strong police presence, did TFP volunteers manage to complete the campaign without serious injury.

  • I’d say religious persecution indeed, but the persecutors were TFP volunteers–those who came to our campus waving banners proclaiming their views on “traditional marriage,” upsetting, frightening, and alienating members of our LGBTQ and LGBTQ-friendly population, handing out pamphlets saying we were going to hell, listing all the reasons why we were “wrong” and “sick.”
  • I’d amend their paragraph to say “pro-LGBTQ rights” students. What primarily rallied us together were our feelings about civil rights–a desire for equality, especially in relation to same-sex marriage.
  • We didn’t gather to “scream, spit, taunt, insult, assault” — we gathered to counter-protest. There is a difference between “screaming” and “chanting,” by the way. In any massive crowd of people incensed by a political/personal issue such as this, you will ALWAYS get people who get rowdy or don’t behave in the most tactful manner. However, to pretend like most (or even MANY) Brown individuals were “out of line” is a flat-out falsehood. Similarly, implying that without the Brown police and “supernatural protection,” there would’ve been a threat to the TFP volunteers’ bodily integrity and that only thanks to police were they not seriously injured is ludicrous. Finally, comparing the behavior and “united front” of a TINY contingent (12-15 people at most) of people who are TRAINED in protesting and are doing this as part of a national tour to hundreds of passersby, students, staff, and others who impromptu gathered on Brown’s campus due to the presence of TFP is A TERRIBLE, INACCURATE, UNFAIR comparison.
  • I also need to mention that our central quad is NOT public property and that TFP’s campaign/protest/hatefest invaded our campus without permission.
  • I’m pretty sure no one spit ON protestors. What I witnessed and got captured on film was that some people received pamphlets from TFP, tore them up, then spit on THE PAMPHLETS.

Suddenly, a loud thud-rip noise was heard. I looked up and saw a pro-homosexual student literally crashing through our traditional marriage banner, attempting to destroy it. Running at top speed, he flung himself into it and ripped one side loose. Some students watching from a distance approvingly cheered the act of violence. 

  • That’s true, and I think that student was extremely misguided in what they did. It was inappropriate on many levels and should never happen again.

“Why are you here?” many students asked. We politely told them how the TFP was on a state-wide tour defending traditional marriage. They would just stand there in a sort of daze, and repeat the question again: “But why are you here?” Some of them just couldn’t believe it.

  • Of course they couldn’t believe it. For some people, it’s hard to think that at a generally liberal, tolerant location such as Brown University, there would be such a protest. Being at Brown sometimes shields people from the cruel realities of the world, such as rampant homophobia, so it’s jarring to see that homophobia and hatred right in the center of our campus grounds. Furthermore, it must’ve been a case of confusion due to the fact that TFP is not a student group and did not request to be on Brown’s campus, so they had no permission to be there and people were wondering why/how they were there.

TFP volunteer Mr. Danniel Pribble debated with one pro-homosexual student, illustrating how the acceptance of homosexual vice leads to the acceptance of pedophilia. In fact, during a recent session in Canadian parliament, experts claimed that pedophilia is a “sexual orientation.” / “What moral grounds do you stand on to oppose pedophilia, once you’ve accepted homosexual behavior?” asked Mr. Pribble. “You’re right,” answered the student. “I don’t have any substantive objection with pedophilia.”

  • The conversation about pedophilia is a very complex one that usually gets many parties riled up. It’s also completely irrelevant to this event and its purpose, and the comparison of accepting homosexuality and accepting pedophilia is a stupid one. I’ll point out the biggest hole: pedophilia involves minors, people who are unable to legally consent to sexual activity, while homosexuality, as long as it’s between CONSENTING adults, is exactly that–consensual. Anyway, the opinion of ONE student on pedophilia is by no means representative of the LGBTQ community at Brown or any group, for that matter. 

As Mr. James Bascom distributed pro-family literature, a woman with a rainbow ribbon on her lapel said: “You’re being so intolerant!”/ “Why don’t you tolerate us?” inquired Mr. Bascom. “So tolerance is a one-way street, then?” / “Yes, yes. It is,” said the woman. It became amply clear that free speech at Brown University is not free and that the opposition would do everything they could to silence our message of truth: that marriage is between one man, and one woman.

  • This argument keeps coming up, and it’s still ridiculous every time. Being “tolerant of intolerance” DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. Long story short: tolerance doesn’t have to be awarded to groups that advocate hatred and keeping sections of our population as second-class citizens. Finally, the TFP message isn’t “a message of truth”–it’s a message of OPINION that disguises itself as a “message of truth.”

By now, the number of pro-homosexual students increased to about 250. The pitch of their screaming intensified too, and in the chaos, one of our youngest volunteers, Zachariah Long, 17, was spat upon in the face. 

  • I am SO very doubtful that this happened, so very doubtful.

Approaching Zachariah, one student said: “Can I shake your hand? Because it takes a lot of courage to be out here.” Another added: “This is great! But, I’m going to go right now before something happens. Keep up the good fight. Thanks for being here. It takes a lot of guts. It’s really brave.”

  • If ONE more person says “Oh wow, it’s really brave to be conservative at Brown,” I swear I’m going to have a conniption. Since when is it oh-so-brave to spout hatred and claim opinions as facts? It’s about as brave and informed as going into a room full of women and saying “YOU SHOULD ALL BE IN THE KITCHEN MAKING ME DINNER.” Oy. Bravery is in the eye of the beholder, I guess, though, so what might be “brave” to some, others might just call “stupid” (e.g. facing off against a ravenous tiger just for fun, or protesting like this at Brown). Anyway, even if what TFP did was “brave” by some definitions, it’s by no means positive, right, or something we should be admiring. I’d also like to point out the courage/bravery of all the COUNTER-protestors, as well as LGBTQ people in general.

On the other side of the intersection, Mr. Leo Fitzsimmons, a TFP supporter, explained why marriage is important: “marriage produces children. And there’s no future without marriage. Same-sex ‘marriage’ does not produce children.” This simple reality befuddled the student who responded with profanities. “God bless America,” responded Mr. Fitszimmons. The young student, who looked like an American, was so upset that she yelled, “I’m not American!”

  • Marriage is important because it produces children? So should infertile couples not be allowed to marry? There’s no future without marriage? Oh right, because adoption doesn’t exist, no one is ever born outside of wedlock, people in same-sex marriages can’t bear children if not biologically with their partner, and people have to be married and in love to propagate the human race…
  • Also, what is the need to talk about someone “looking like an American”? What does it mean to “look American”? THIS IS SO PROBLEMATIC. Do they men she looked Caucasian? And who CARES? This entire sentence is so riddled with problems, I don’t even know where to begin. It’s freaking me out.

Seeing the violent attitude of the pro-homosexual students, the police chief wanted to escort us to our van and ensure our safe departure. After completing the 1 hour and 30 minute rally in its entirety, we prayed three Hail Marys, shouted our motto “Tradition Family Property – America” and left. Policemen surrounded us on all sides and were assisted by a patrol vehicle on the street. A rowdy group of approximately 250 pro-homosexual advocates attempted to break through the perimeter to harass us. Without ceasing, they screamed obscenities and yelled in chorus over and over again: “God loves gays!”

  • The Brown police was there to make sure people protested peacefully and nothing got out of hand. MOSTLY, though, they were trying to make sure traffic kept flowing, no one got hit by a car (since the protest and counter-protest were getting huge and, towards the end, it all turned into a march), and that sidewalks remained clear at certain areas. It’s not like they “wanted to escort” TFP to their van, but that it was part of their job to do so as part of the BROWN DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY because they are there at all big events, especially protests.

Thank God, the police protected us as we packed our vans. But when we pulled away from the curb, many pro-homosexual students closed in to hit the sides of our vehicles with their fists or palms. A hard object, maybe a rock, was thrown against one of the vans.

  • I highly doubt something was thrown, but whatever. 

Brown University Against Homophobia

After experiencing a “pro-traditional marriage” rally this past summer (at the hands of none other than The National Organization for [Opposite-Sex] Marriage in its disturbing nationwide tour), I was more than ready to deal with TFP (which stands for, wait for it: TRADITION, FAMILY, AND PROPERTY) coming to Brown’s campus. (For background, please check the sources linked at the end of this post which provide coverage of the events that transpired.) 

My feelings about the event were definitely mixed. On the bright side, I thought the response from people at Brown was tremendous. It was invigorating to see so many folks (and tons of heterosexual allies) showing their support, chanting, holding signs, donning rainbow flags, pins, and even blankets to demonstrate that TFP’s message of intolerance and religious fanaticism wasn’t going to be tolerated on our campus without, at the very LEAST, a counter-demonstration. I was glad we finally had one of these groups come to Brown while people were HERE and could do something about it (unlike, say, the Westboro Baptist Church Hate Machine a few years back, which came right after we all left for summer break). Plus any opportunity I get to wear my ROY G. B(I)V outfit is welcome!
On the not-so-bright side, though, I was upset by the fact that they stepped on my beloved campus spewing their hateful message. It’s always somewhat scary (and really bizarre) to be surrounded by people who hate what my communities stand for and who legitimately think we’re going to burn in some hell, who see our lives as revolting and horrible. It’s personally offensive to be reminded that many people still consider us subhuman or sick or harmful to society. It’s painful to be reminded that many politicians and state legislatures think same-sex marriage isn’t necessary, or isn’t a worthwhile cause/investment, and to know that so many people have suffered because their relationships haven’t been acknowledged.
This isn’t just about marriage, though. In what’s known as a blue-state, in the heart of a liberal campus, we are yet again reminded that we are not considered equal citizens. Just as recently as 2009, Governor Carcieri vetoed a bill that would have added domestic partners to the list of people authorized by law to make funeral arrangements for each other.  His reasoning?  “This bill represents a disturbing trend over the past few years of the incremental erosion of the principles surrounding traditional marriage, which is not the preferred way to approach this issue.” (Thankfully, this bill eventually passed in 2010.) Even more recently, in 2008 and 2010, Mr. Carcieri ALSO vetoed House Bill 7044/Senate Bill 2055 that would’ve added “gender identity and expression” to RI’s hate crimes statute. Reasoning? “Those who struggle with gender confusion deserve our compassion and understanding — not laws that cement them into an identity which denies biological and objective reality.” (This bill was just heard once again on Tuesday, so we’ll see what happens now.)
While inside (or facing off against) any crowd of staunch conservatives, Republicans, anti-choice/pro-life people basically saying that I’m going to hell, that I’m a horrible, degenerate human being, that my family is ashamed of me, that I’m something that shouldn’t exist, and even worse…I wonder…how many of these people do I pass by as I walk down the street? Does the cashier at CVS secretly hate these big things I stand for? What about the woman sitting next to me on the bus? My professors? Will I ever run into people who were at the protest and wrote horrible things that entirely misrepresented what happened? I’m all for finding connections with people and trying to get along on SOME level, even if we have fundamental differences of opinion, but when those bridges we’ve built are rickety and sometimes depend on ignoring REALLY big differences, you can’t blame a girl for being nervous.
Anyway, just because I’ve gone through this type of thing before (again, this summer’s anti-NOM protest was a perfect example), it doesn’t make it any less infuriating. Like I told the Brown Daily Herald, I think the group came here, in part, to gain media attention. “Because it’s a college and there’s this idea that kids are wild and crazy, especially at Brown, they think they can find fodder for their anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.” It pisses me off because I KNOW what their interest is, I KNOW what they’re going to do with the footage. No matter how peaceful and “proper” we are, they will always spin it into something different. This past summer, NOM did the same thing, except our “battlefield” was the RI Statehouse.
If you want to see for yourself, just compare this NOM blogpost with this TFP blogpost. Similar? No surprise there. So many anti-LGBTQ/same-sex marriage folks use the SAME DAMN TACTICS each and every single time, it actually makes them easier to spot. NOM folks misrepresented attendance, artfully cut their sound-clips and videos, and basically tried to portray all the anti-NOM-ers as these wild, violent rainbow-wielding creatures who were going to hurt their children (both the ones at the rally and those all over America) and try to take over the world with their big, gay agenda of degenerate ideas.
*facepalm*

It’s good to remind myself that there are many places in the world, even in my own backyard, that aren’t like my LGBTQ-friendly, sex-positive circles. It reminds me why I have to continue doing the work that I do; there is still a lot of violence, hatred, shame, and misinformation in the world. The important thing here is that we will not give into their fear-mongering. We will stand and we will take action despite (or even because of) our fears and insecurities. As I said in an interview for the Brown Daily Herald: “We know they have a right to free speech, but if their speech is hateful, the Brown community will not stay silent.”

******************************

And now, for the utterly laughable and entirely unfortunate coverage from the hate-group itself: “Video: Pro-Homosexuals at Brown University Respond to Peaceful TFP Rally with Violence”
[Update: As of 3/29, YouTube has removed the TFP video for some reason. Strange, but I won’t complain. The less hate on the internet, the better.] While I could deconstruct the video, its tactics, its supporting group, and their horrible little mission, I’ll instead leave you with a comment that someone on YouTube left in response to the TFP statements about provocation (TFP claims they weren’t provoking the campus and were met with “shocking violence,” among other things):
I think you would do well to look up the meaning of “provocation.” When bagpipe-playing, 20-foot-tall banner toting groups of people come to the place where you live to courteously inform you that you are going to hell and there is nothing you can do about it, I would be hard pressed to find anyone who would be pleased. There were no assaults; please, try to stick to the facts. And your victim rhetoric? Please. 20 seconds of feeling unsafe? Try a lifetime.

Young and Silly

Let’s lighten up the mood of this blog!
What better way to do that than by posting ridiculous pictures of myself when I was a kid?

Yes, folks, there WAS a time when I didn’t have boobs.

With my mom.
OH THE GRAND FINALE. OH YEAH. 
I WAS SUCH A COOL KID.
The end.

Edenfantasys Fucks Up

So this post by my dear friend maymay basically speaks for itself.

The short short short summary? Edenfantasys is trying to skew its ranking on the Internet by using shady practices. This is not good, especially from a company with the tag-line “the sex shop you can trust.” You should read up on it and reconsider your support of their business. Personally, I still plan to use their website to learn about toys, since they have THE best website re: toys and specs and user-friendly info, but I’m definitely buying my things elsewhere. A good alternative for purchases? Fascinations! Or Good Vibrations. There are probably more, too, so do your research. It’s also a great idea to reach manufacturers directly, too. 🙂

As one of the people who went over maymay’s post before publication, I highly stress the importance of checking it out. There have been other controversies with Edenfantasys recently (and not-so-recently), so for more information on those, check out the following links:

Now, onto the show:


Edenfantasys’s unethical technology 
is a self-referential black hole


A few nights ago, I received an email from Editor of EdenFantasys’s SexIs Magazine, Judy Cole, asking me to modify this Kink On Tap brief I published that cites Lorna D. Keach’s writing. Judy asked me to “provide attribution and a link back to” SexIs Magazine. An ordinary enough request soon proved extraordinarily unethical when I discovered that EdenFantasys has invested a staggering amount of time and money to develop and implement a technology platform that actively denies others the courtesy of link reciprocity, a courtesy on which the ethical Internet is based.

While what they’re doing may not be illegal, EdenFantasys has proven itself to me to be an unethical and unworthy partner, in business or otherwise. Its actions are blatantly hypocritical, as I intend to show in detail in this post. Taking willful and self-serving advantage of those not technically savvy is a form of inexcusable oppression, and none of us should tolerate it from companies who purport to be well-intentioned resources for a community of sex-positive individuals.

For busy or non-technical readers, see the next section, Executive Summary, to quickly understand what EdenFantasys is doing, why it’s unethical, and how it affects you whether you’re a customer, a contributor, or a syndication partner. For the technical reader, the Technical Details section should provide ample evidence in the form of a walkthrough and sample code describing the unethical Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) techniques EdenFantasys, aka. Web Merchants, Inc., is engaged in. For anyone who wants to read further, I provide an Editorial section in which I share some thoughts about what you can do to help combat these practices and bring transparency and trust—not the sabotage of trust EdenFantasys enacts—to the market.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Internet sex toy retailer Web Merchants, Inc., which bills itself as the “sex shop you can trust” and does business under the name EdenFantasys, has implemented technology on their websites that actively interferes with contributors’ content, intercepts outgoing links, and alters republished content so that links in the original work are redirected to themselves. Using techniques widely acknowledged as unethical by Internet professionals and that are arguably in violation of major search engines’ policies, EdenFantasys’s publishing platform has effectively outsourced the task of “link farming” (a questionable Search Engine Marketing [SEM] technique) to sites with which they have “an ongoing relationship,” such as AlterNet.org, other large news hubs, and individual bloggers’ blogs.

Articles published on EdenFantasys websites, such as the “community” website SexIs Magazine, contain HTML crafted to look like links, but aren’t. When visited by a typical human user, a program written in JavaScript and included as part of the web pages is automatically downloaded and intercepts clicks on these “link-like” elements, fetching their intended destination from the server and redirecting users there. Due to the careful and deliberate implementation, the browser’s status bar is made to appear as though the link is legitimate, and that a destination is provided as expected.

For non-human visitors, including automated search engine indexing programs such as Googlebot, the “link” remains non-functional, making the article a search engine’s dead-end or “orphan” page whose only functional links are those whose destination is EdenFantasys’s own web presence. This makes EdenFantasys’ website(s) a self-referential black hole that provides no reciprocity for contributors who author content, nor for any website ostensibly “linked” to from article content. At the same time, EdenFantasys editors actively solicit inbound links from individuals and organizations through “link exchanges” and incentive programs such as “awards” and “free” sex toys, as well as syndicating SexIs Magazine content such that the content is programmatically altered in order to create multiple (real) inbound links to EdenFantasys’s websites after republication on their partner’s media channels.

How EdenFantasys’s unethical practices have an impact on you

Regardless of who you are, EdenFantasys’s unethical practices have a negative impact on you and, indeed, on the Internet as a whole.

See for yourself: First, log out of any and all EdenFantasys websites or, preferably, use a different browser, or even a proxy service such as the Tor network for greater anonymity. Due to EdenFantasys’s technology, you cannot trust that what you are seeing on your screen is what someone else will see on theirs. Next, temporarily disable JavaScript (read instructions for your browser) and then try clicking on the links in SexIs Magazine articles. If clicking the intended off-site “links” doesn’t work, you know that your article’s links are being hidden from Google and that your content is being used for shady practices. In contrast, with JavaScript still disabled, navigate to another website (such as this blog), try clicking on the links, and note that the links still work as intended.

Here’s another verifiable example from the EdenFantasys site showing that many other parts of Web Merchants, Inc. pages, not merely SexIs Magazine, are affected as well: With JavaScript disabled, visit the EdenFantasys company page on Aslan Leather (note, for the sake of comparison, the link in this sentence will work, even with JavaScript off). Try clicking on the link in the “Contact Information” section in the lower-right hand column of the page (shown in the screenshot, below). This “link” should take you to the Aslan Leather homepage but in fact it does not. So much for that “link exchange.”

  • If you’re an EdenFantasys employee, people will demand answers from you regarding the unethical practices of your (hopefully former) employer. While you are working for EdenFantasys, you’re seriously soiling your reputation in the eyes of ethical Internet professionals. Ignorance is no excuse for the lack of ethics on the programmers’ part, and it’s a shoddy one for everyone else; you should be aware of your company’s business practices because you represent them and they, in turn, represent you.
  • If you’re a partner or contributor (reviewer, affiliate, blogger), while you’re providing EdenFantasys with inbound links or writing articles for them and thereby propping them up higher in search results, EdenFantasys is not returning the favor to you (when they are supposed to be doing so). Moreover, they’re attaching your handle, pseudonym, or real name directly to all of their link farming (i.e., spamming) efforts. They look like they’re linking to you and they look like their content is syndicated fairly, but they’re actually playing dirty. They’re going the extra mile to ensure search engines like Google do not recognize the links in articles you write. They’re trying remarkably hard to make certain that all roads lead to EdenFantasys, but none lead outside of it; no matter what the “link,” search engines see it as stemming from and leading to EdenFantasys. The technically savvy executives of Web Merchants, Inc. are using you without giving you a fair return on your efforts. Moreover, EdenFantasys is doing this in a way that preys upon people’s lack of technical knowledge—potentially your own as well as your readership’s. Do you want to keep doing business with people like that?
  • If you’re a customer, you’re monetarily supporting a company that essentially amounts to a glorified yet subtle spammer. If you hate spam, you should hate the unethical practices that lead to spam’s perpetual reappearance, including the practices of companies like Web Merchants, Inc. EdenFantasys’s unethical practices may not be illegal, but they are unabashedly a hair’s width away from it, just like many spammers’. If you want to keep companies honest and transparent, if you really want a “sex shop you can trust,” this is relevant to you because EdenFantasys is not it. If you want to purchase from a retailer that truly strives to offer a welcoming, trustworthy community for those interested in sex positivity and sexuality, pay close attention and take action. For ideas about what you can do, please see the “What you can do” section, below.
  • If you’ve never heard about EdenFantasys before, but you care about a fair and equal-opportunity Internet, this is relevant to you because what EdenFantasys is doing takes advantage of non-tech-savvy people in order to slant the odds of winning the search engine game in their favor. They could have done this fairly, and I personally believe that they would have succeeded. Their sites are user-friendly, well-designed, and solidly implemented. However, they chose to behave maliciously by not providing credit where credit is due, failing to follow through on agreements with their own community members and contributors, and sneakily utilizing other publishers’ web presences to play a very sad zero-sum game that they need not have entered in the first place. In the Internet I want, nobody takes malicious advantage of those less skilled than they are because their own skill should speak for itself. Isn’t that the Internet and, indeed, the future you want, too?

TECHNICAL DETAILS

What follows is a technical exploration of the way the EdenFantasys technology works. It is my best-effort evaluation of the process in as much detail as I can manage within strict self-imposed time constraints. If any of this information is incorrect, I’d welcome any and all clarifications provided by the EdenFantasys CTO and technical team in an appropriately transparent, public, and ethical manner. (You’re welcome—nay, encouraged—to leave a comment.)

Although I’m unconvinced that EdenFantasys understands this, it is the case that honesty is the best policy—especially on the Internet, where everyone has the power of “View source.”

The “EF Framework” for obfuscating links

Article content written by contributors on SexIs Magazine pages is published after all links are replaced with a <span> element bearing the class of linklike and a unique id attribute value. This apparently happens across any and all content published by Web Merchants, Inc.’s content management system, but I’ll be focusing on Lorna D. Keach’s post entitled SexFeed:Anti-Porn Activists Now Targeting Female Porn Addicts for the sake of example.

These fake links look like this in HTML:

And according to Theresa Flynt, vice president of marketing for Hustler video, <span class="linklike" ID="EFLink_68034_fe64d2">female consumers make up 56% of video sales.</span>

This originally published HTML is what visitors without JavaScript enabled (and what search engine indexers) see when they access the page. Note that the <span> is not a real link, even though it is made to look like one. (See Figure 1; click it to enlarge.)

Figure 1:

In a typical user’s browser, when this page is loaded, a JavaScript program is executed that mutates these “linklike” elements into <a> elements, retaining the “linklike” class and the unique id attribute values. However, no value is provided in the href (link destination) attribute of the <a> element. See Figure 2:

Figure 2:

The JavaScript program is downloaded in two parts from the endpoint at http://cdn3.edenfantasys.com/Scripts/Handler/jsget.ashx. The first part, retrieved in this example by accessing the URI at http://cdn3.edenfantasys.com/Scripts/Handler/jsget.ashx?i=jq132_cnf_jdm12_cks_cm_ujsn_udm_stt_err_jsdm_stul_ael_lls_ganl_jqac_jtv_smg_assf_agrsh&v_14927484.12.0, loads the popular jQuery JavaScript framework as well as custom code called the “EF Framework”.

The EF Framework contains code called the DBLinkHandler, an object that parses the <span> “linklike” elements (called “pseudolinks” in the EF Framework code) and retrieves the real destination. The entirety of the DBLinkHandler object is shown in code listing 1, below. Note the code contains a function called handle that performs the mutation of the <span> “linklike” elements (seen primarily on lines 8 through 16) and, based on the prefix of each elements’ id attribute value, two key functions (BuildUrlForElement and GetUrlByUrlID, whose signatures are on lines 48 and 68, respectively) interact to set up the browser navigation after responding to clicks on the fake links.

var DBLinkHandler = {
pseudoLinkPrefix: "EFLink_",
generatedAHrefPrefix: "ArtLink_",
targetBlankClass: "target_blank",
jsLinksCssLinkLikeClass: "linklike",
handle: function () {
var pseudolinksSpans = $("span[id^='" + DBLinkHandler.pseudoLinkPrefix + "']");
pseudolinksSpans.each(function () {
var psLink = $(this);
var cssClass = $.trim(psLink.attr("class"));
var target = "";
var id = psLink.attr("id").replace(DBLinkHandler.pseudoLinkPrefix, DBLinkHandler.generatedAHrefPrefix);
var href = $("<a></a>").attr({
id: id,
href: ""
}).html(psLink.html());
if (psLink.hasClass(DBLinkHandler.targetBlankClass)) {
href.attr({
target: "_blank"
});
cssClass = $.trim(cssClass.replace(DBLinkHandler.targetBlankClass, ""))
}
if (cssClass != "") {
href.attr({
"class": cssClass
})
}
psLink.before(href).remove()
});
var pseudolinksAHrefs = $("a[id^='" + DBLinkHandler.generatedAHrefPrefix + "']");
pseudolinksAHrefs.live("mouseup", function (event) {
DBLinkHandler.ArtLinkClick(this)
});
pseudolinksSpans = $("span[id^='" + DBLinkHandler.pseudoLinkPrefix + "']");
pseudolinksSpans.live("click", function (event) {
if (event.button != 0) {
return
}
var psLink = $(this);
var url = DBLinkHandler.BuildUrlForElement(psLink, DBLinkHandler.pseudoLinkPrefix);
if (!psLink.hasClass(DBLinkHandler.targetBlankClass)) {
RedirectTo(url)
} else {
OpenNewWindow(url)
}
})
},
BuildUrlForElement: function (psLink, prefix) {
var psLink = $(psLink);
var sufix = psLink.attr("id").toString().substring(prefix.length);
var id = (sufix.indexOf("_") != -1) ? sufix.substring(0, sufix.indexOf("_")) : sufix;
var url = DBLinkHandler.GetUrlByUrlID(id);
if (url == "") {
url = EF.Constants.Links.Url
}
var end = sufix.substring(sufix.indexOf("_") + 1);
var anchor = "";
if (end.indexOf("_") != -1) {
anchor = "#" + end.substring(0, end.lastIndexOf("_"))
}
url += anchor;
return url
},
ArtLinkClick: function (psLink) {
var url = DBLinkHandler.BuildUrlForElement(psLink, DBLinkHandler.generatedAHrefPrefix);
$(psLink).attr("href", url)
},
GetUrlByUrlID: function (UrlID) {
var url = "";
UrlRequest = $.ajax({
type: "POST",
url: "/LinkLanguage/AjaxLinkHandling.aspx",
dataType: "json",
async: false,
data: {
urlid: UrlID
},
cache: false,
success: function (data) {
if (data.status == "Success") {
url = data.url;
return url
}
},
error: function (xhtmlObj, status, error) {}
});
return url
}
};

Once the mutation is performed and all the content “links” are in the state shown in Figure 2, above, an event listener has been bound to the anchors that captures a click event. This is done using prototypal extension, aka. classic prototypal inheritance, in another part of the code, the live function on line 2,280 of the (de-minimized) jsget.ashx program, as shown in code listing 2, here:

        live: function (G, F) {
var E = o.event.proxy(F);
E.guid += this.selector + G;
o(document).bind(i(G, this.selector), this.selector, E);
return this
},

At this point, clicking on one of the “pseudolinks” triggers the EF Framework to call code set up by the GetUrlByUrlID function from within the DBLinkHandler object, initiating an XMLHttpRequest (XHR) connection to the AjaxLinkHandling.aspx server-side application. The request is an HTTP POST containing only one parameter, called urlid, and its value matches a substring from within the id value of the “pseudolinks.” In this example, the id attribute contains a value of EFLink_68034_fe64d2, which means that the unique ID POST’ed to the server is 68034. This is shown in Figure 3, below.

Figure 3:

The response from the server, shown in Figure 4, is also simple. If successful, the intended destination is retrieved by the GetUrlByUrlID object’s success function (on line 79 of Code Listing 1, above) and the user is redirected to that web address, as if the link was a real one all along. The real destination, in this case to CNN.com, is thereby only revealed after the XHR request returns a successful reply.

Figure 4:

All of this obfuscation effectively blinds machines such as the Googlebot who are not JavaScript-capable from seeing and following these links. It deliberately provides no increased Pagerank for the link destination (as a real link would normally do) despite being “linked to” from EdenFantasys’s SexIs Magazine article. While the intended destination in this example link was at CNN.com, it could just as easily have been—and is, in other examples—links to the blogs of EdenFantasys community members and, indeed, everyone else linked to from a SexIs Magazine article or potentially any website operated by Web Merchants, Inc. that makes use of this technology.

The EdenFantasys Outsourced Link-Farm

In addition to creating a self-referential black hole with no gracefully degrading outgoing links, EdenFantasys also actively performs link-stuffing through its syndicated content “relationships,” underhandedly creating an outsourced and distributed link-farm, just like a spammer. The difference is that this spammer (Web Merchants, Inc. aka EdenFantasys) is cleverly crowd-sourcing high-value, high-quality content from its own “community.”

Articles published at SexIs Magazine are syndicated in full to other large hub sites, such as AlterNet.org. Continuing with the above example post by Lorna D. Keach, Anti-Porn Activists Now Targeting Female Porn Addicts, we can see that this content was republished on AlterNet.org shortly after original publication through EdenFantasys’ website on May 3rd at http://www.alternet.org/story/146774/christian_anti-porn_activists_now_targeting_female_. However, a closer look at the HTML code of the republication shows that each and every link contained within the article points to the same destination: the same article published on SexIs Magazine, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5:

Naturally, these syndicated links provided to third-party sites by EdenFantasys are real and function as expected to both human visitors and to search engines indexing the content. The result is “natural,” high-value links to the EdenFantasys website from these third-party sites; EdenFantasys doesn’t merely scrounge pagerank from harvesting the sheer number of incoming links, but as each link’s anchor text is different, they are setting themselves up to match more keywords in search engine results, keywords that the original author likely did not intend to direct to them. Offering search engines the implication that EdenFantasys.com contains the content described in the anchor text, when in fact EdenFantasys merely acts as an intermediary to the information, is very shady, to say the least.

In addition to syndication, EdenFantasys employs human editors to do community outreach. These editors follow up with publishers, including individual bloggers (such as myself), and request that any references to published material provide attribution and a link back to us, to use the words of Judy Cole, Editor of SexIs Magazine in an email she sent to me (see below), and presumably many others. EdenFantasys has also been known to request “link exchanges,” and offer incentive programs that encouraged bloggers to add the EdenFantasys website to their blogroll or sidebar in order to help raise both parties search engine ranking, when in fact EdenFantasys is not actually providing reciprocity.

More information about EdenFantasys’s unethical practices, which are not limited to technical subterfuge, can be obtained via AAGBlog.com.

EDITORIAL

It is unsurprising that the distributed, subtle, and carefully crafted way EdenFantasys has managed to crowd-source links has (presumably) remained unpenalized by search engines like Google. It is similarly unsurprising that nontechnical users such as the contributors to SexIs Magazine would be unaware of these deceptive practices, or that they are complicit in promoting them.

This is no mistake on the part of EdenFantasys, nor is it a one-off occurrence. The amount of work necessary to implement the elaborate system I’ve described is also not even remotely feasible for a rogue programmer to accomplish, far less accomplish covertly. No, this is the result of a calculated and decidedly underhanded strategy that originated from the direction of top executives at Web Merchants, Inc. aka EdenFantasys.

It is unfortunate that technically privileged people would be so willing to take advantage of the technically uneducated, particularly under the guise of providing a trusted place for the community which they claim to serve. These practices are exactly the ones that “the sex shop you can trust” should in no way support, far less be actively engaged in. And yet, here is unmistakable evidence that EdenFantasys is doing literally everything it can not only to bolster its own web presence at the cost of others’, but to hide this fact from its understandably non-tech-savvy contributors.

On a personal note, I am angered that I would be contacted by the Editor of SexIs Magazine, and asked to properly “attribute” and provide a link to them when it is precisely that reciprocity which SexIs Magazine would clearly deny me (and everyone else) in return. It was this request originally received over email from Judy Cole, that sparked my investigation outlined above and enabled me to uncover this hypocrisy. The email I received from Judy Cole is republished, in full, here:

From: Judy Cole <luxuryholmes@gmail.com>
Subject: Repost mis-attributed
Date: May 17, 2010 2:42:00 PM PDT
To: kinkontap+viewermail@gmail.com
Cc: Laurel <laurelb@edenfantasys.com>

Hello Emma and maymay,

I am the Editor of the online adult magazine SexIs (http://www.edenfantasys.com/sexis/). You recently picked up and re-posted a story of ours by Lorna Keach that Alternet had already picked up:

http://kinkontap.com/?s=alternet

We were hoping that you might provide attribution and a link back to us, citing us as the original source (as is done on Alternet, with whom we have an ongoing relationship), should you pick up something of ours to re-post in the future.

If you would be interested in having us send you updates on stories that might be of interest, I would be happy to arrange for a member of our editorial staff to do so. (Like your site, by the way. TBK is one of our regular contributors.)

Thanks and Best Regards,

Judy Cole
Editor, SexIs

Judy’s email probably intended to reference the new Kink On Tap briefs that my co-host Emma and I publish, not a search result page on the Kink On Tap website. Specifically, she was talking about this brief: http://KinkOnTap.com/?p=676. I said as much in my reply to Judy:

Hi Judy,

The URL in your email doesn’t actually link to a post. We pick up many stories from AlterNet, as well as a number from SexIs, because we follow both those sources, among others. So, did you mean this following entry?

http://KinkOnTap.com/?p=676

If so, you should know that we write briefs as we find them and provide links to where we found them. We purposefully do not republish or re-post significant portions of stories and we limit our briefs to short summaries in deference to the source. In regards to the brief in question, we do provide attribution to Lorna Keach, and our publication process provides links automatically to, again, the source where we found the article. 🙂 As I’m sure you understand, this is the nature of the Internet. Its distribution capability is remarkable, isn’t it?

Also, while we’d absolutely be thrilled to have you send us updates on stories that might be of interest, we would prefer that you do so in the same way the rest of our community does: by contributing to the community links feed. You can find detailed instructions for the many ways you can do that on our wiki:

http://wiki.kinkontap.com/wiki/Community_links_feed

Congratulations on the continued success of SexIs.

Cheers,
-maymay

At the time when I wrote the email replying to Judy, I was perturbed but could not put my finger on why. Her email upset me because she seemed to be suggesting that our briefs are wholesale “re-posts,” when in fact Emma and I have thoroughly discussed attribution policies and, as mentioned in my reply, settled on a number of practices including a length limit, automated back linking (yes, with real links, go see some Kink On Tap briefs for yourself), and clearly demarcating quotes from the source article in our editorializing to ensure we play fair. Clearly, my somewhat snarky reply betrays my annoyance.

In any event, this exchange prompted me to take a closer look at the Kink On Tap brief I wrote, at the original article, and at the cross-post on AlterNet.org. I never would have imagined that EdenFantasys’s technical subterfuge would be as pervasive as it has proven to be. It’s so deeply embedded in the EdenFantasys publishing platform that I’m willing to give Judy the benefit of the doubt regarding this hypocrisy because she doesn’t seem to understand the difference between a search query and a permalink (something any laymen blogger would grok). This is apparent from her reply to my response:

From: Judy Cole <luxuryholmes@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Repost mis-attributed
Date: May 18, 2010 4:57:59 AM PDT
[…redundant email headers clipped…]

Funny, the URL in my email opens the same link as the one you sent me when I click on it.

Maybe if you pick up one of our stories in future, you could just say something like “so and so wrote for SexIs.” ?

As it stands, it looks as if Lorna wrote the piece for Alternet. Thanks.

Judy

That is the end of our email exchange, and will be for good, unless and until EdenFantasys changes its ways. I will from this point forward endeavor never to publish links to any web property that I know to be owned by Web Merchants, Inc., including EdenFantasys.com. I will also do my best to avoid citing any and all SexIs Magazine articles from here on out, and I encourage everyone who has an interest in seeing honesty on the Internet to follow my lead here.

As some of my friends are currently contributors to SexIs Magazine, I would like all of you to know that I sincerely hope you immediately sever all ties with any and all Web Merchants, Inc. properties, suppliers, and business partners, especially because you are friends and I think your work is too important to be sullied by such a disreputable company.

What you can do

  • If you are an EdenFantasys reviewer, a SexIs Magazine contributor, or have any other arrangement with Web Merchants, Inc., write to Judy Cole and demand that content you produce for SexIs Magazine adheres to ethical Internet publication standards. Sever business ties with this company immediately upon receipt of any non-response, or any response that does not adequately address every concern raised in this blog post. (Feel free to leave comments on this post with technical questions, and I’ll do my best to help you sort out any l33t answers.)
  • EdenFantasys wants to stack the deck in Google. They do this by misusing your content and harvesting your links. To combat this effort, immediately remove any and all links to EdenFantasys websites and web presences from your websites. Furthermore, do not—I repeat—do not publish new links to EdenFantasys websites, not even in direct reference to this post. Instead, provide enough information, as I have done, so visitors to your blog posts can find their website themselves. In lieu of links to EdenFantasys, link to other bloggers’ posts about this issue. (Such posts will probably be mentioned in the comments section of this post.)
  • Boycott EdenFantasys: the technical prowess their website displays does provide a useful shopping experience for some people. However, that in no way obligates you to purchase from their website. If you enjoy using their interface, use it to get information about products you’re interested in, but then go buy those products elsewhere, perhaps from the manufacturers directly.

  • Watch for “improved” technical subterfuge from Web Merchants, Inc. As a professional web developer, I can identify several things EdenFantasys could do to make their unethical practices even harder to spot, and harder to stop. If you have any technical knowledge at all, even if you’re “just” a savvy blogger, you can keep a close watch on EdenFantasys and, if you notice anything that doesn’t sit well with you, speak up about it like I did. Get a professional programmer to look into things for you if you need help; yes, you can make a difference just by remaining vigilant as long as you share what you know and act honestly, and transparently.

If you have additional ideas or recommendations regarding how more people can help keep sex toy retailers honest, please suggest them in the comments.

Representations of Sex/uality

Or, alternatively titled: “Making the Sex Week 2010 Poster”


This is kind of a cross-post from the SHEEC blog, so forgive me.

My goals for the poster:
  • Wouldn’t imply a certain relationship status
  • Wouldn’t be objectifying and just like any other ad on TV
  • Wouldn’t be heteronormative (and ideally not homonormative, either, which is…not easy to do–most images out there are very either/or)
  • Would simultaneously bring something “non-traditional” to the fore but NOT in a “LOOK HOW RADICAL I AM!” way or in a “LOOK HOW FREAKY THIS IS!” way
  • Would focus on sexuality and sensuality, but in a fun, not intimidating, fashion
  • Re: above, would also not be too explicit or obviously and “traditionally” sexual, so that it could have more interpretations (including “platonic” ones?)
  • Would reflect an air of inclusiveness
  • Would not represent people from just one ethnic group (and this was the hardest to achieve while still trying to keep to the other points; I resolved this issue by making the skin tones a rainbow)
  • Would not glorify a particular body type, especially one that corresponds to the dominant ideas of beauty in the media
  • Would be welcoming and attractive
  • Would hold all the text necessary!
The RESULT:

Dieta Mediterránea Review (with some spoilers)

I realize I never posted this. Oops. Rectifying that right now!
(This is from Sunday, Aug. 30th, 2009.)
—-

I just got back from watching Dieta Mediterránea with my family (read: mom, dad, maternal grandmother). Going into it, I thought this movie was about a woman torn between two men…but, to my surprise, that was not the case. Sofía is a fierce, willful (sometimes to the point of being very stubborn and even immature) lady with a passionate love of cooking and a bit of wanderlust who is NOT about to make a choice between her long-time boyfriend and this guy she has always been kind of attracted to (a love/hate kind of thing). So she doesn’t!

“Whut? A triad? In a mainstreamy Spanish movie? Fo’ REAL?! ONE THAT WORKS?”

Well. It’s not without its hitches, but there are significantly less problems and resistance than I thought there would be (which seems sweet, but too idealistic). And yes. This group wants the triad model and all people participate–it’s not a V. Well, it kind of is because the female protagonist IS the axis around which the men revolve, but the men DO relate to each other as well.

I was kind of uncomfortable watching it, though, for various reasons:

  • I was with my FAMILY. I couldn’t cheer as enthusiastically as I wanted. I couldn’t say “this is kind of what one of my ideal romantic futures would look like.” I couldn’t fully let me guard down to “un-blank” my face and really enjoy the sex scenes, or the moments of intimacy in general. I couldn’t help but grin widely during a lot of parts, though (just not the sex). Having been awake for almost 24 hours (and now pushing 26, yay!), I was a little cracked out, and add to that the adrenaline of watching a movie where the main characters form a triad, there’s a closeted gay dad, and men TOUCH each other in the triad and KISS each other? And I’m watching this WITH MY FAMILY and only my mom and grandmother know how RELEVANT this is, and they don’t even know the FULL story about how relevant it is to me? It was intense.
  • I was in a movie-theater full of people, all watching a movie that mirrored bits of my life and ideology. I felt judged. Not actively, of course, but…whenever people laughed at certain things, I felt like it was more personal than it “really” was. I felt really sad when people groaned at the gay dad–I knew they were groaning, not because he was cheating on his wife over and over, but because it was with younger men. My dad was one of the most audible groaners and I swear it hurt me to witness that. The groaning or laughing whenever any homosexual activity went on? Yes, I laughed a few times, out of sheer surprise, but not disgust or “hahaha, they’re GAY, ahahahaha.” I was also on edge–I was half-expecting to hear someone shout something derisive, or something about how they were all depraved. It didn’t happen, but I expected it to, and while the expectation is kind of realistic, that’s still really unfortunate (that I expected it at all, I mean). I was also nervous that I’d hear snide comments about the movie and the characters as I left the theater; I didn’t really want to deal with that. I can deal with straightforward shit that’s directed at me; those are easy to brush off. For some reason, though, the people who make comments in front of me degrading shit I love or believe in because they don’t know I love or believe in them? Those upset me.

https://i1.wp.com/farm4.static.flickr.com/3230/2677123765_5ef65609a5_o.jpg?w=620
YES. I met Paco, the one on the right. 🙂
The other one (Alfonso Bassave) is my favorite, though.
His nose…is so. good. I just want to nom it.

https://i0.wp.com/farm4.static.flickr.com/3079/2677124023_423e880c81_o.jpg?w=620
What. an adorable. smile. (the older man = ???)

https://i0.wp.com/www.fotogramas.es/var/ezflow_site/storage/images/peliculas/dieta-mediterranea/de-fogones-y-hombres/2620012-1-esl-ES/De-fogones-y-hombres_noticia_main.jpg?w=620
And some eyecandy–what a beautiful sight to behold. 🙂

Watch the trailer here!

“Don’t make women your meat substitute”

Though PETA has put out some advertising campaigns that I like, most of them are complete misogynistic, fatphobic, queerphobic, racist bullshit.

Let me be fair and highlight some of the positive and/or non-offensive campaigns first:

  • “I’m [famous person] and I’m a vegetarian” (example and example; BAD example)
  • “You wouldn’t wear your pet, so don’t wear fur” (example)–> This one is fantastic. It relies on connecting to the part of the viewer that loves animals and/or has pets; it shows the links between the animals we eat/wear and the animals we care for and love. This is one of the most effective ones, I’d think. You work that guilt, PETA!
  • Here’s the rest of your fur coat” (example 2). This one is shocking and in-your-face, but that’s the point.
  • A campaign that exposes how some slaughterhouses are so filthy, that feces can be found on most pieces of meat.
  • A campaign against the clubbing of baby seals.
  • Spoke-swine arguing for the taxation of meat.
  • “Justifications for Exploitation” exhibit (example) –> I do think there are links between exploiting animals and exploiting other humans. No, I do not think that slavery and sweatshops and all that is EXACTLY THE SAME as what is done to animals, but I think there are important parallels that we should examine (especially when it comes to the rhetoric used to justify said exploitation). So…actually…in the end, shit is pretty similar.
  • “Running of the Nudes” in Pamplona. I’d previously riled against an image from it, but that was because I’m dumb and didn’t know about the larger campaign. Sorry!
  • “[Think] Ink, Not Mink” –> This one I’m kind of on the fence about. I think it’s catchy and cool. Not likely to make someone go HOLY SHIT OF COURSE I SHOULD STOP WEARING MINK, but a nice tactic for overall awareness and visibility. BUT, surprise surprise–most of their tattooed folk are men. Sigh. And all the men are like RAWR I’M TUFF OR SERIOUS, and the few women are…meh. Check them all out here.

That being stated, let’s talk about the vile crap PETA has put out. But first, let me say I have a complicated relationship with advertising, objectification, nudity, and sexualization. I don’t think I’ve resolved my issues there, and I still have to think long and hard (that’s what phe said) about how I feel concerning these things. For the sake of not making this entry 20 times longer than it’s going to be already, I’ll try to summarize it. I love nudity and am not opposed to it in advertising. I love sexualization and I am not inherently opposed to it in advertising. BUT…too often these things go hand in hand with sexual objectification (which I am not INHERENTLY opposed to either), and this shit gets put out there without proper education.

Ads with nudity and sexualization often objectify individuals and proliferate in a deeply misogynistic, queerphobic, racist, etc etc societies. So while these things “on their own” aren’t bad, putting them out there in a society that will warp them and misunderstand them and conflate “real people” with “advertised people,” it’s NOT OKAY to have ads like that. If our society had healthier attitudes toward sexuality, less body-shaming, less beauty-centric ideals, and more equality overall, nudity and sexualization wouldn’t be so problematic.

Anyway, to get us started, consider this “Milk Gone Wild” campaign.
I have no words. Next up: packaged humans.



I liked the concept a LOT, but I don’t agree with the execution. If they didn’t focus on the
sexualization of the meat, this would be fantastic. (Also, um, we can has variety of gender, sex, body type, ethnicity…ANYTHING? No? Oh, okay, PETA. Thanks a lot.) Then again, I like exposing the idea that beautiful women ARE treated like meat/objects…I just don’t know if this actually makes that point, since PETA’s agenda is to help animals, not women, and they have a history of CRAP. Soooo this could have been awesome…but PETA fucked it up. Great.

Augh, this ad is stupid for so many reasons. BUT, it could have been made AWESOME. ANOTHER cool concept fucked up by PETA’s ignorance. See some suggestions about how it could have been made good/effective:

  • Please allow me, like my nonhuman relatives, to wear my own fur! (Lynne Pashal, CO)
  • How about featuring naked crotch shots of a man and woman next to a beaver with the headline, “Fur only looks good where it grows naturally”? (Lethea Erz Takaka, New Zealand)
  • Change the ad to: “Trimming Fur. Unattractive. Wear your own with pride.” (Colleen Kirby, MA)

https://i0.wp.com/www.imogenbailey.com/charity/peta-bear-skin.jpg?w=620

Because the way to stop people from wearing fur is through enticing them with the idea of seeing a naked woman if they do it? And wtf fuzzy-headed palace-guard? (Do they use bear-skin for their fuzzy hats? Maybe that’s the relevance…but still, wtf) Yes, there’s a “male” version of it, but surprise–he’s only shot from the belly-button up. And his arms are crossed. And he looks happy, determined, or whatever–NOT sensual and sexualized.

https://i2.wp.com/www.ecorazzi.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/meat_peta.jpg?w=620

No. Just…no. And yeah, let’s further stigmatize men who can’t get erections at the drop of a hat. That’s really fucking useful.

spx-018839.jpg

Sigh. Even better (and by better I mean more exasperating) than this ad is the comments people have made about it. Guess what they focus more on–the issue of sows and animal cruelty or the woman’s body and how attractive/unattractive it is? No, really, I’ll give you ONE guess.

On the racism front, this ad makes its point (sorta?), but…it also clouds the facts. A lot. Selective breeding of dogs is only like race-supremacy bullshit in the sense that they both strive toward a certain perfection and blah blah blah. However, dog breeders do not HARM their pets or TERRORIZE them. There are no dog-lynchings among breeders. They don’t advocate for the extermination of all other dogs. So basically, the analogy only works up to the point of “we want to create a master race.” Also, cosmetic procedures some now consider unneccesary had an actual use once upon a time; they weren’t “cosmetic” back then. Read about cropping ears and docking tails here and here. Sure, now cutting tails/ears is bullshit in many places because the original purposes are no longer there and it’s uneccesary to actually perform these things, BUT we can’t just say “oh, it’s cosmetic” and leave it at that. That presumes that there is (and was) no use whatsoever to have these procedures done.

Moving on–elephant-time!


14850746_celina.jpg image by preeto_f04

Since I don’t know where this ad was circulated, I don’t know what to make of it on the racial/ethnic front. The first shit that comes to mind is obviously “oh no, stop the savage, dark pygmy-men from hurting this beautiful light-eyed princesss! look how pained she looks!” 😐 Yeah, way to reinforce racism. But anyhoo–stylizing violence. THIS DOESN’T WORK. WHY WHY WHY DO THEY KEEP DOING IT?!

https://i0.wp.com/www.imogenbailey.com/downloads/peta-elephants-1024.jpg?w=620

Seriously. Does PETA not understand that they’re not DOING ANYTHING BY STYLYZING VIOLENCE? This only serves to portray an INACCURATE IMAGE of the shit that goes on–the very shit they’re trying to STOP.

https://i2.wp.com/www.petaindia.com/feat/photos/Khanna-ad.jpg?w=620

Oh, this is surprising. A fully-clothed guy. 😐 Let’s compare this one to the other ads.

Finally,
“Wearing Axe’s new leather-inspired “Instinct” fragrance will not get you mobbed by a horde of horny honeys swooning over the smell of cow hides. There’s nothing sexy about smelling like or sporting rotten animal skins. (And yes, we have sexpert Pamela Anderson backing us up here.)” (via here).

Really? If you’re against the manufactured/faux smell of leather, then you’d have to be against fake fur, pleather, and ANYTHING that seeks to emulate the products we get from animals because they are EMULATING PRODUCTS WE GET FROM ANIMALS. Tofurkey, veggieburgers, gardendogs…all of these try to mimic the flavor of meat, sooooo we should ban them, right? NO. The point is to still get our kicks but without hurting animals, so if we can make something smell like leather or taste like meat without ACTUALLY making it out of leather or meat, then that’s awesome. Talk about hipocrisy.

And this Top-10 List to Go Vegetarian is also semi-full of fail. Some of the reasons to go vegetarian are valid, but others aren’t. Furthermore, this list is misleading (e.g. vegetarianism alone does NOT equal losing weight and by going vegetarian we’re not magically fucking feeding the hungry). Oh, and of course, the 2 most important reasons to go veg are THE COOL KIDS ARE DOING IT and WE CAN FINALLY BE SKINNY. Remember, vegetarianism = skinniness = sexiness = most important thing in our lives. *eyeroll* AND FINALLY, if we’re really intense about this, we should all just be vegan. Yes, vegetarianism is better than doing nothing, but people forget that not eating meat does NOT translate into not using animal-tested products, or other products that come from animals. Check out this list–animals products are EVERYWHERE, it’s nuts. Point being, vegetarianism alone can only do so much and we need to REALIZE that and STOP FOOLING OURSELVES by thinking that it’s a magical cure for all ills.

That said, feel free to check out the PETA blog. It does actually have important information about animal rights, animal abuse, and all that jazz. Just because PETA does STUPID shit every once in a while (and by that I mean OFTEN), it doesn’t mean they’re entirely worthless. We just need to have a very critical eye when dealing with their stuff.

Lose the blubber? More like lose the douchebaggery.

PETA Save the Whales Obesity Billboard

Dear PETA:

Sometimes you have pretty cool campaigns.

Sometimes you miss the mark entirely and produce crap like this.

I don’t know who thought “YES, this is a great idea! Let’s use one of the most derogatory words for fat women and put it on a HUGE billboard and imply that women are whales that need to be saved from their gross obesity through vegetarianism (because only meat-eating women are obese)! This will entice people to become vegetarians! GENIUS!”

No. You fail.

And “trying to hide your thunder thighs and balloon belly is no day at the beach”?

Really? Really, PETA?

I’m not even going to go into their implications that ceasing consumption of meat equal healthiness (because that’s just not true) and that the differences between skinny/fat and vegetarian/omnivore are all caused by the meat or lack thereof in people’s diets. Jeez.

————–

PETA’s press release:

Jacksonville, Fla. — A new PETA billboard campaign that was just launched in Jacksonville reminds people who are struggling to lose weight — and who want to have enough energy to chase a beach ball — that going vegetarian can be an effective way to shed those extra pounds that keep them from looking good in a bikini. The ad shows a woman whose “blubber” is spilling over the sides of her swimsuit bottom and features the tagline “Save the Whales. Lose the Blubber: Go Vegetarian. PETA.”

Anyone wishing to achieve a hot “beach bod” is reminded that studies show that vegetarians are, on average, about 10 to 20 pounds lighter than meat-eaters. The meat habit can ruin the fun in other ways too. Consuming meat and dairy products is conclusively linked to heart disease, diabetes, and several kinds of cancer — not to mention higher rates of infertility in women and impotence in men. And not only is following a healthy plant-based diet good for the environment, it is also the best thing that anyone can do to help stop the routine abuse of animals raised and killed for food. Animals on factory farms are subjected to mutilations like debeaking, tail-docking, and branding (without any painkillers) and are often slaughtered and dismembered while still conscious.

“Trying to hide your thunder thighs and balloon belly is no day at the beach,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA has a free ‘Vegetarian Starter Kit’ for people who want to lose pounds while eating as much as they like.