Thursday, December 18, 2014

'Reality' TV Out of Touch with Reality

The TV network A and E has announced that it's developing a new show called '8 minutes' in which a christian pastor tries to convince sex workers to leave sex work. The Daily Mail quotes A and E executive producer Tom Forman as saying 'This is one of those great shows that was actually happening whether anybody was shooting it or not." The Daily Mail article and A and E's press about the show describe the pastor, Kevin Brown, a former vice cop, as a compassionate savior, noting that he started his mission because he didn't want to spend his life putting girls in jail for prostitution, he wanted to help them. Brown formed a mission group that reaches out to young women in the sex trade and offers them them help and resources to get out of 'the life'. It sounds both heartwarming and gut-wrenching with a little touch of sex thrown in - exactly what reality tv show producers are looking for.

But when you think about the premise, it's actually pretty scary and more than just a little creepy. How do Brown and his group get in touch with these young sex workers? They go through back page ads for sex workers and contact them. They pose as potential clients, set up a meeting, and then when the person shows up, they say that they don't want sex, they want to help. Yes, apparently, they really do this.

Doing this in the first place is all kinds of wrong. It's deceptive and hurtful. That person is trying to work and they are interrupting their life and their work time to push their agenda without consent. Although this is never discussed in the media about the show or in the short clip I watched, I am pretty certain they don't give the person the money they had agreed to during the initial contact. So they've just taken this person's time and offered nothing in return.

Then there's the scarier aspect of this. First of all, I would be pretty pissed if I was one of those people lured to a meeting under false pretenses. Do any of them ever get violent or try to steal money from these 'outreach workers'? I wouldn't blame them for considering it. It's not safe for the mission people to be doing this. Even more of a concern is that it's not safe for the workers. Who's to say that everyone on this mission team is really there to help? It's exactly the kind of thing that attracts abusers. The chance to be alone in a hotel room with someone you see as young and vulnerable? If one of those mission workers abuses or assaults one of those sex workers, will the mission team, or anyone else believe them if they report it? 'But that guy's on the mission team, we know that he didn't go there for sex, you have to be lying because you're angry that you didn't get any money'. The whole thing is misguided, disrespectful and dangerous.

But then there's the whole added layer of putting this on television. There is no way that people are told beforehand that they will be filmed. To do that would destroy the entire premise of the setup. That means they are filming people without their permission. This is unethical and may even be illegal, but I'm sure A and E has their legal ducks in a row and is somehow covering their butts on that. Do they air the show without the person's permission? I would guess that they do in some cases. Why would people give their permission to have something like that on television? In the clip that I saw, the person's face was blurred out. This may be how they get around the need for consent, but it doesn't make it better to simply blur a person's face. That person still did not know that they were going into an intervention, and they didn't know that there was a camera when they chose to say whatever they said in that room. Whether you can see their face and know their name or not, putting that on television could still be psychologically harmful to that person. It's also not all that difficult to identify someone based on their location, their body and body language and mannerisms, and their voice (which did not sound as if it had been altered). That could be dangerous to the people being filmed. Anyway you slice this, it's disrespectful and unethical at best and dangerous and illegal at worst.

The main problem here is that while these people claim that all they want to do is help young girls have a better life, they are actually not seeing these people as people at all. Their focus is on their own beliefs and their own mission and what they believe is right and wrong. They haven't considered the realities for people who work in this way and what they might actually need. They are assuming that sex workers cannot make decisions for themselves - that they are in such a dire situation that the only way they will be able to get help is if some savior drops out of the blue and whisks them off to a better life. In reality people who do sex work are like everyone else. They have other parts of their life that happen when they are not working, even if they are actually being trafficked or controlled by someone else. They read magazines and newspapers, look at billboards, surf the internet just like anyone else. The respectful way to run a mission like this is to put information about your ministry and your services in places where sex workers might see them. Make your information as broadly accessible as possible and people will see it or be able to find it if they are looking. Then they can make the choice to contact someone for help if they want it. I know that the people in this group will probably say that the sex workers they 'help' are essentially prisoners of pimps who control everything they do. Therefore they can't make a phone call or meet with someone without being monitored. That's why they do this in such a covert way. I would argue that this is much more our perception of sex work that it is a reality. Certainly, this happens for some people but for the majority of people who work through print ads, that's not going to be the case. And again, it's making the assumption that this is the case for every single person they contact, without knowing anything about that person and their life. It's assuming that every person with an ad on that page is a helpless victim who wants to be saved.

I have a lot of problems with a lot of the reality stuff that A and E airs. Way back when it started, it was such a great network, with lots of classic movies and theatre and shows like Biography. Now it runs Intervention and Hoarders 24/7. Those are bad enough, but with this, they've really sunk to a new low. There is a petition asking A and E to abandon their plans to broadcast this show. If you think it's as scary as I do, you might want to sign it.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Robot Handjobs

I came across this video from Huffington Post about Robot Handjobs. I was pretty excited about it - it's the kind of thing that excites me. but then they showed the robot hand job and it doesn't seem like anything special. It's a robotic arm with a tenga sleeve attached to it. It looks incredibly cumbersome. There's a lot of stuff and it looks kind of difficult to control. I don't have a penis to use this on, so perhaps I'm wrong, but I'm guessing just using the Tenga or finding someone else to use it on you would be less difficult, far less expensive, and much less noisy. The upside is that all of this experimentation has to lead to a really functional fun robot toy sometime. Doesn't it?

There are dangers of course, as seen here.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

2014 Unusual Sex Toys Gift Guide

I wasn't able to find the on-line version of this column that was printed in VUE Weekly last week. So I'm reprinting here.

It’s that time of year again. Time for my annual list of unique and unusual sex themed gift ideas for that hard-to-buy-for pervert on your Christmas list. Here are my top picks for 2014.
Foria Lubricant. There are a lot of personal lubricants on the market but this one is definitely stands out. Foria contains cannabis oil. That’s right, it’s pot lube. The makers of Foria claim that it aids in relaxation during sex and contributes to stronger, more intense orgasms. It sounds amazing, but sadly, you can only buy Foria if you live in California and have a medical marijuana prescription.
Cartoon sex toy vibrators. For those who enjoy adult toys that look like children’s toys, check out this line of cartoon vibrators. These look like giant Lego people with elongated heads (I’ll leave it up to your imagine as to what the elongated head is for). Choose from circus clown, Japanese girl, policewoman, fireman or chef. You can collect the whole set! I would suggest avoiding Japenese girl and policewoman, though, as they look like they’ve got some rather pointed, pokey, plastic hair. Do choose carefully as the website notes that due to hygiene concerns, they do not accept returns.
Teddy Love. If the pervert on your list prefers plushies to plastic toys, you’re in luck. Teddy Love is a soft, huggable Teddy Bear that goes down on you! His cute little nose and tongue vibrate. Settings for the vibrators are in his ears. Grab Teddy’s ears and go! If that isn’t creepy enough for you, consider the instructions for using Teddy Love on guys. “You can flip Teddy Love upside down and the nose can go around the anus and the tongue can touch the taint. “
Light saber inspired flogger. For the kinky geek, or the geeky kinkster, this beautiful leather flogger has a handle that looks just like a light saber from Star Wars – non-functioning unfortunately. You could even pair this with the Light Saber inspired acrylic cane.
Famous Figure Butt Plugs. If they’re more into anal play than vibrators, check out Here you can find a selection of butt plugs in the shape of famous people who seem like the perfect fit for a butt toy. Choose from Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson, late Westboro Baptist leader Fred Phelps, or Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Luxury Pasties. For the perv with expensive taste, our friends at Coco de Mer in London have a new line of latex pasties at only for $71 a pair. Why so much for latex pasties? Because they’re made by Coco de Mer.
Pearl Royalle. Finally, if $71 pasties are not luxurious enough for that special someone, consider the Pearl Royalle by Australian jewelry designer Colin Burns. Deemed the most expensive vibrator in the world, this toy is solid platinum and is embellished with over 1,000 white diamonds, royal blue sapphires, pearls and pink diamonds. You may need a payment plan for this one. The price tag on the Pearl Royalle is a cool $1 million.

More Shame About Guys and Toys

There's a video that's been making the rounds, and was passed on to me by one of my facebook friends, called 'Men Try Sex Toys for The First Time'. It's done by buzzfeed. I'm not entirely sure if the guys in the video are actors or not, or if perhaps they're just people that work at buzzfeed. Their reactions and comments are just a little too polished for me to believe this is entirely real. However, the video is supposed to be funny but mostly it just annoyed me.

I will admit that a lot of it is funny. I particularly like the guy who sticks his finger in the fleshlight while turning up his nose and saying it's gross and he doesn't understand it and then suddenly stops and says 'okay, maybe I get it now'.

There are some positive reactions. Two of the men are pretty pumped about their experience. I love the guy who says 'It was awesome!' But several of them are extremely negative about the idea of using the toys and about the experience. Even some of them who enjoyed it say that they would never do it again or felt wrong about it.

I certainly don't think everyone has to use toys and I do fully support everyone's right to like or dislike anything they want. If these guys honestly did not enjoy the toy, that's perfectly fine. What I'm so tired of is this pervasive idea that men should feel guilty or shameful about using sex toys - and that mens' awkwardness and shame about it is hilarious.

We seem to have come far enough in our culture now to accept that most men masturbate and that that's normal and expected. But somehow we haven't come so far as to be so accept or be open to the idea of them really really enjoying it. It seems to me that we're okay with it only insofar as it's a necessary thing that guys do when they're stressed out and/or don't have someone else to have sex with. It's all right if they kind of need to do it, but not all right if they're doing it just because it feels great and they just want to. Indeed there are a lot of people around who think that a man who has a partner should never want or need to masturbate. If that's what we believe, then of course the idea of men buying something meant for them to use alone, being completely unashamed and open about that purchase, and saying clearly and openly that it's fucking awesome, is hard to handle.

But my world is filled with guys like that. Because I own a sex shop, I see men every single day who are looking for something new and fun that feels different and cool. Certainly we get men in store who have some shame about it and are hesitant to talk to us. But we also get a lot of guys who have no shame or hesitance whatsoever. They play with themselves. They like it. They're not afraid to admit it. They want a fun toy to make their solo play time even more fun.

If we stopped framing male sexuality and masturbation through this lens of guilt and shame, I think we would see fewer and fewer of those guys who are hesitant and ashamed when they come in and so many more of the second variety. We can make jokes and funny videos but the guilt, shame and awkwardness doesn't need to be the payoff of the joke. The guy who looks at the autoblow and says 'I cannot wait to use this' is hilarious. Somebody like that who's eager to have a good time is really funny, but the joke isn't really on him, it isn't at his expense, it's just about appreciating his enthusiasm.