Friday, October 8, 2010

Another page from the 'What Were They Thinking?' files

I saw this commercial through the Bitch website. I figured there was no way in the world this was real - had to be a spoof. But guess what? It's not. It's totally real and they totally smell this stuff. Now if it was a spray that makes your vulva smell flowery, I would have an issue with it any - those 'feminine sprays' are just nasty and who's to say your vulva smells gross? But this is not a spray to make your vulva smell nice. It's a spray that smells like vulva. No, I'm not kidding. It's a spray for people who like the smell of sweaty crotch to put on the back of their hands so that they can get a whiff of sweaty crotch anytime they like. I know, everyone has their kinks and their little turn-ons. But really? Do people really buy this? And I'm not even going to comment on the creepy guy creaping around the gym.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Purity's a Ball!

I caught a show on Vision TV last night about Purity Balls. In case you've never heard of this phenomenon, Purity Balls are gala events, usually put on by Christian churches and organizations, in which girls pledge to remain abstinent until they're married. A particular feature of the Purity Ball is that the girls attend with their father who also makes a pledge to her to be her authority and protector. The girls actually makes the pledge to their fathers and to God.

Okay, I am totally on board with everyone's right to have their own values around sex. Some people believe that sex should be reserved only for marriage. I don't believe that but I don't have a beef with it. But I think this whole thing is completely messed up.

First of all, the condescending sexism is so blatant, it makes me nauseous. Why are fathers authorities over their daughters? If you believe that parents are authorities over their children, where are the mothers? Why is just the dads? Why on earth should a girl have to make a pledge to her father about her sex life? It's really none of his business. And where the hell are the boys? These things are for girls only. Do boys not have to pledge to preserve their purity? Why don't they take their mothers to dances and pledge before them to remain abstinent? Apparently it's only the girls that have to be pure.

It's a throwback to a much older time when women really were considered property. The father is the guardian of that property and ensures that it's not spoiled. In this video, which shows the actual pledge. The girl says that she is waiting until she 'gives herself to her husband'. So here's my question about that - are women simply things to be given away? And is her virginity, her sexuality the whole of her so that when she 'gives that away' she is also 'giving herself'? Some serious questions here that I don't think these girls have a chance to really look at.

The other thing is that this is all just ever-so-slightly creepy and incestuous. It feels a lot like boundaries are being crossed here. I just don't think a Dad should have his nose so deeply embedded in his children's sexuality. yes, it's a great thing for parents and kids to talk about sex but I don't think kids actually owe their parents information. They shouldn't be obligated to stay 'pure'.

They seem to focus a lot on the fact that girl's need positive attention from their fathers and that this ball is a great way to do that. She gets to feel special and she gets the undivided attention of her dad. That's great. But why do these too have to be combined? Is pledging not to have sex the only way for her to get attention from her Dad?

One of the men in this video claims that girls who have strong relationships with their fathers don't need attention from men. Hmmm.......that sounds all nice and good on the surface. It's a little myth we all like to believe. "The reason I so f'd up about men is because my Daddy never loved me." But think about that one a little more - what he's really saying is that the only reason girls have boyfriends and have sex is because they need male attention. Did it ever occur to this guy and girls need sex too? They do! Sex is a biological need and women have it just as much as men. We don't just want attention from guys, a lot of us want some action too! But I guess we're supposed to believe that women are not sexual and have sex only because it's part of the deal of being married and that's the way to get a baby.

The show that I watched last night put these events in a positive light, listing all of the many great things that girls and families get from it - a sense of purpose, support, feeling special and loved - but noted there is no proof that the purity balls actually work in delaying the age of first sex. But there's where it's wrong. There is proof. A 2005 study of 12,000 teens found that those who took abstinent pledges participated in vaginal sex later than those who did not, BUT they were much more likely to participate in anal sex and oral sex than those who did not take a pledge. There were also much less likely to use condoms, resulting in STI rates almost exactly the same as non-pledging teens. Perhaps they need to have a 'terms' section of the pledge that defines exactly what sex is. Oh wait, that's not possible, because the word 'sex' is never used in the pledge.

This is the main thing that drives me crazy about this whole thing. There's a massive public event focused on pressuring girls into not having sex, and yet I bet the vast majority of these families, even though they will participate in this public event, will not have a candid discussion with their children about what sex actually is and how it works. Some of the girls in the video look like their 9 or 10 years old. Do they have any real understanding of what they are agreeing too? Have they even start to have any real interest in sex? How can you say you'll never do something if you don't even know what that thing is? At 10, sex is icky! It seems like the most bizarre and disgusting thing anyone could ever do. At 16, not so much - it start to become pretty appealing. It's just not fair to make these girls pledge this so early. And if you're going to do that, then the terms should be spelled out - is a blowjob okay? is anal sex actually sex? can you even kiss? Just saying 'keep myself pure' doesn't do it because everyone thinks they're pure.

After the girls say their pledge, they get a ring symbolizing their pledge. On the show, it was tiara rather than a ring. This is a reminder of their pledge. I have a better idea. Instead of a ring, each girl should get a vibrator. That way, when she is 'tempted' she will have not only a reminder of her pledge, but a useful tool to help her stay abstinent.

Friday, October 1, 2010

legalized prostition in Canada?

Sex workers scored a huge victory this week when Ontario's Superior Court of justice threw out three key prostitution laws..........or not. It will be interesting to see what happens now that Canada's out-dated and misguided prostitution laws are finally up for discussion. The three laws that were ruled unconstitutional were:
- keeping a bawdy house
- communicating for the purpose of prostitution
- living off the avails of prostitution (pimping, for lack of a better word)

The sex workers and their counsel, who brought the suit, argued that these three laws jeopardize the safety of sex workers, making it illegal to do the necessary things to protect themselves, such as pay security guards or managers, use the same premises for their work on a consistent basis, and contact clients to make arrangements and negotiate terms prior to meeting them.

The thing is, prostitution itself is not illegal in Canada. But these three things are. These laws create a strange legal limbo where it's really difficult to judge exactly what part of the activity breached the law, and those parts of the activity that may actually make it safer and more controlled are the parts that are illegal.
I understand that there are reasons why those laws were put in place - the communication law makes it illegal for people to solicit sex on the street and the pimping law makes it illegal for people to do just that, coerce or force someone into prostitution in order to make money. But they are blanket terms which catch many other activities that, in my opinion, should not be illegal. The laws need to be rewritten to serve the purpose they are intended to serve.

Does this mean prostitution will be formally legalized in Canada? I sincerely doubt that.

I think Stephen Harper is crapping his pants now at the prospect of having to deal with this. This is not something the conservative government wants to get forced into addressing. On the other hand, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's exactly what they want. This gives them yet another easy law and order issue to pontificate on. They know full well that the majority of Canadians don't even know that prostitution is not actually illegal in Canada. They can do what they've done with the statutory release issue - simplify it to a single message that no one can argue with 'The Ontario Superior Court has struck down our prostitution laws. We know Canadians want to protect their children so we are appealing to keep our street safe.' Who could argue with that? No one, except those that know the reality behind it.

REAL women (you have to love REAL women, don't you?) is arguing that de-criminalizing prostition will make Canada a haven for human trafficking. Wow! Let's find the biggest alarm bell we can and push it hard! That's not what this is about. It's about recognizing that prostitution exists and will always exist and having laws that make it more dangerous for sex trade workers is not helping anyone. Striking down these laws doesn't invite human trafficking - we still have many others laws that address all of the different things that happen under that scenario - laws that relate to consent, assault, sexual assault, and unlawful confinement. And as far as the concern about children being led into prostitution, the same thing applies. The Canadian sexual assault laws still apply and having sex with a minor is sex without consent which is sexual assault. Although, to that end, the Ontario court has stated that their decision does not affect any provisions dealing with those under 18.

So the protestations are a smoke screen thrown up by those who don't want to recognize the reality of the sex trade in our country. It's here. It will always be here. Our lack of action on this issue put the men and women that work in the sex trade at risk - not to mention those that use their services. It's time that we either simply legalize it, or replace these laws with some that address the real social and safety concerns instead of the imagined ones.