Tuesday, April 12, 2016

This Metaphor Is Bad for Our Health

In a solicitation from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, I found a reminder of an irritating practice of theirs that I'd always meant to comment on. I've just done so now in an email to them as follows:

I'm writing to express my disapproval of your use of the phrase "food porn." Clearly you are trying to convey the concept of food that tastes good but isn't good for you. Trouble is, that's not true of porn itself.

Despite generations of attempts to scientifically prove the "common sense"* that porn is bad for us, such evidence is essentially nonexistent, and sometimes it suggests just the opposite. Here, for instance, is a court brief debunking the idea that it's "harmful to minors":

And here's a study refuting the idea that the availability of porn lowers women's status: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3812808?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

This isn't a merely "academic" question. These false notions about porn have been used to justify restrictive laws and customs which, so far from protecting people, may well contribute to psychosexual problems and leave children more vulnerable to sexual exploitation, as discussed by Judith Levine in her book Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex.

*"What many people refer to as common sense is nothing more than a collection of prejudices accumulated before the age of eighteen." -- Albert Einstein

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Call on UC to Reverse Its Sexual Consent Catch-22

In a very disturbing development, the University of California system has adopted a new policy on adjudication of sexual assault complaints that compounds the erosion of civil liberties already brought by its "affirmative consent" standard.

Now, any non-consensual recording of a sex act, even if it's never shared with anyone, is considered a form of sexual assault. This may seem reasonable until one remembers that verbal agreement isn't considered proof of consent if the accuser claims they were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Since such influence isn't always obvious, this means the very act of attempting to create proof of consent could get someone accused of sexual assault.

This prospect looms even larger because of another change. UC is now abandoning adversarial process in favor of letting a single administrator hear and decide a case -- an administrator who may feel pressured to produce convictions to justify Title IX funding. The accused's only recourse is to appeal to a higher administrative body, which would have the same institutional bias as the original hearing officer.

This isn't only an assault on due process; it's also an assault on sexual freedom. While encouraging people to be comfortable talking about sex with prospective partners -- or anyone else -- is absolutely a good thing, trying to prescribe forms of consent in this way can only have an intimidating effect on people as they explore their sexuality, something that typically involves a good deal of anxiety already. Taken to its extreme, it could lead to involuntary abstinence for women and men alike. Accordingly, I've written UC President Janet Napolitano (president@ucop.edu) as follows:
Dear President Napolitano: I urge you to reverse the new policy concerning adjudication of sexual assault complaints at UC. It is unacceptable to give a single administrator, possibly under pressure to get "results" to justify Title IX funding, the power and responsibility to adjudicate such serious accusations -- especially when the new definition of assault covers the very recording that the affirmative consent standard makes necessary for proving innocence. This puts the accused truly in a Catch-22.
The option to appeal does not adequately address these concerns, since it would still leave the ultimate decision in administrative hands. We have already seen examples of universities' refusing to consider clearly exculpatory evidence on the technical grounds that the original trial was procedurally correct, as illustrated here: https://kcjohnson.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/amherst-complaint.pdf
Please restore adversarial process and the presumption of innocence without delay.
For further information on this issue, visit Stop Abusive and Violent Environments at http://www.SAVEservices.org

Here's an excellent piece by Wendy Kaminer on what's wrong with "affirmative consent" as  a legal standard.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Stop HB 262

Responding to a statement from Sex Worker Outreach Project-Philly, I've written my state representative, Stephen Kinsey, regarding an ill-conceived bill, as follows: "Please vote no on HB 262. It would do little or nothing to help victims of sex trafficking while creating many new burdens and risks for voluntary sex workers. See Sex Worker Outreach Project-Philly's statement here: http://swop-philly.com/2015/10/07/swop-philly-votes-no-on-hb-262/"

You can contact your state representative via this page: www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/member_information/mbrList.cfm?body=H&sort=alpha

Friday, November 1, 2013

Deny Deni Again

I wrote six years ago about the effort (unfortunately unsuccessful) to unseat slut-shaming judge Teresa Carr Deni from Philadelphia Municipal Court. Well, she's up for retention again next Tuesday, so I've moved that the Green Party of Philadelphia call again for a "NO" vote. The party endorsed my proposal and asked me to write a letter to the local papers. Here's what I submitted to the Inquirer and Daily News:

On Election Day next Tuesday, Philadelphia voters have the chance to take a stand against sexual violence and send a clear message that everyone's human rights must be respected.
Six years ago, in what the chancellor of the Bar Association called "an unforgivable miscarriage of justice," Municipal Court Judge Teresa Carr Deni threw out sexual assault charges in a multiple rape, at gunpoint and without protection, simply because the victim was a sex worker. Foreshadowing the recent outrageous comments of some politicians, she said to do otherwise would be a disservice to the victims of "true rape."
Judge Carr Deni has never repudiated her actions in this case. While she may prefer to forget the matter, Philadelphia voters have no reason to either forget or forgive. Let's all vote NO on Judge Carr Deni's retention November 5th.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Stop Iceland from Banning Internet "Violent Pornography"

As recently reported on FetLife, the government of Iceland is considering a ban on online "violent pornography," in the name of protecting children from its putative harm, of course. You can read the UK Guardian article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/16/iceland-online-pornography.
And here's what I've written the Prime Minister of Iceland at postur@for.stjr.is:

Dear Minister:

I am greatly concerned by the news that you are considering a law to ban Internet "violent pornography" in the name of protecting children.

In the first place, contrary to your statements, there is no consensus among researchers about this alleged harm. Consider, for instance, this statement by US scholars: http://www.ncac.org/media/related/20011205~USA~Letter_to_AAP_Concerning_Media_Violence_Statements.cfm.

In the second place, this is unquestionably an issue of free expression. Efforts to "protect" children with computer algorithms have had notoriously imprecise results -- including, for instance, the censoring of any and all gay-positive material -- so the only way to implement such a law would be to use human screeners, guaranteeing that those screeners' biases would come into play. Even terms like "violent" or "hateful" are construed in very different ways by different people. What one woman may call misogynistic, another finds arousing.

Thirdly, this goes beyond the desire of lone individuals to view erotica on their computers. Many people network online on the basis of shared erotic interests, such as BDSM (bondage and discipline/dominance and submission/sadomasochism). I belong to one such network based in the US. I am appalled at the thought that Icelanders with similar interests would become unable to find one another if this proposed law went into effect.

With a view to protecting their civil rights, I am determined that if this legislation is adopted, I will not buy any products from Iceland.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Tell Radio Stations to Take Rush Limbaugh Off the Air

I got this message yesterday from Michael Morrill of Keystone Progress. When I signed, I added the comment that slut-shaming is actually unacceptable in any context:

It was bad enough that Republicans in Congress wouldn't let Georgetown student Sandra Fluke speak about contraceptives at an all-male hearing...
But then Rush Limbaugh called her a "slut" and "prostitute" for wanting to get reproductive healthcare for all women.  Here's just a part of what Limbaugh said:
LIMBAUGH: What does it say about the college coed Susan Fluke [sic], who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.
She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.
It's time for Limbaugh to be taken off the air.  Click here to send a message to all of the PA radio stations carrying Limbaugh.  You can alsohear the audio of Limbaugh making his disgusting comments on the site.
Pleae take action and send this email widely.
Enough of Limbaugh and the Right's attacks on women!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Candye Kane Seeking Help with Cancer Costs

The blueswoman (and former porn star) sent this news to her fans. I'm chipping in:


Hello Everyone ---
As you may know, I have been diagnosed with a recurrence of the pancreatic carcinoid neuroendocrine cancer I had in 2008. www.carcinoid.org   I will be giving myself injections of Sandostatin three times a day subcutaneously for eleven days, at the end of February, graduating to one injection a month after the initial trial.  Sandostatin is used to stop the progression of this disease and the subsequent surgery will be used to remove the tumor (s) and unblock the duct that has been causing me so much pain. There are no guarantees that they will be able to alleviate all of my pain permanently, or that they will be able to remove all of the cancer but this is the best chance I have to rid myself of this cancer again and get back to a better quality of life. If they are successful, I could be in remission for many years. Of course, this is our hope.
Because so much money has already been spent on flights and deposits for this upcoming European tour, I have chosen to postpone my surgery until the last week of April, first week of May. I will likely have surgery at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles on April 27th.  My doctors agreed that it is okay for me to wait for the surgery to be performed until this time.
It is my hope that by the last week of June, I will be ready to resume my busy touring schedule. It may be sooner than that, but I am planning on making the Simi Valley blues festival my first official appearance back.
I am sorry for this interruption in our schedule. I know how many of you depend on me to be the workhorse I am. I plan on letting this disrupt my life as little as possible. I have a good chance of recovering from this surgery quickly, the same way I recovered very quickly from the whipple procedure in 2008. My doctors at Cedars Sinai think I am a good candidate for this surgery, also called a whipple revision and that I will be able to work again a month later, just as I did, the last time. If you'll recall, I had surgery April 18, 2008 and was on tour with United by Music by June 18th.
Of course, this is a scary time for me and my family and closest friends. Michael Kinsman, Janiva Magness, Joey Scruggs, Barbara Hammerman and many others have already offered their assistance with benefits for me. I will definitely need financial help to survive both during the last two weeks of february whilst I endure these injections and also during the month of May and possibly the first part of June, when I am home healing and convalescing. Any help that any of you can give me to get the word out about needing assistance would help greatly. My paypal account is candyekanetour@aol.com
My insurance has a $2500 deductible when I am hospitalized and I am still not sure whether the injections will be completely covered. They are  between $1500 to $5000 each injection. We are proceeding as if they are covered, unless we hear otherwise but I think it wise to plan ahead in case they are not covered.
Anyway, I am scared, sad and grieve for the changes that this will make to my body. I am lucky that I have some extra body weight still, that I can afford to lose during this time. 
Please keep me in your meditations and prayers and encourage others to do the same. I will need as much of your positive energy during this time as I did before. Maybe even more so this time, because I still remember clearly the intense pain of 150 stitches and the aftermath of my recovery period. It was the most intense challenge of my life. I am up for this next challenge and I know I will emerge triumphant. I am blessed to be a role model to so many, proving that anyone can overcome adversity with sheer guts and determination. I hope to continue to be able to do my job and spread love and hope through music around the world, for many more years to come.
If you can't come to a live show, please consider joining the National Blues Foundation at www.blues.org Kids under 18 can join for FREE and you can join for just $25! The Blues Foundation is committed to helping promote blues music and giving aid to blues musicians all over the world with their various programs. While you are there, you can cast a vote for me! I am nominated for BB King Entertainer of the Year and Best Contemporary Blues Female. You have until March 1st to join and vote. I am honored to be nominated amongst some of the best of my hardworking sister and brother musicians.
On a personal note, in spite of this latest family crisis, my sons Tommy and Evan are doing very well. Evan is playing in several local San Diego bands and working hard teaching music at the Boys and Girls Club in Carlsbad. Tommy has graduated from UC Berkeley and is now living in Oaxaca, Mexico, teaching English and Music to students at the Liberty Language School. Both of my boys are healthy and thriving and I couldnt be more proud of them.
Thank you again for all of your wonderful emails and words of encouragement during this difficult time in my life. I can win this battle with cancer. I have done it once and I will do it again! I have cancer. Cancer DOES NOT HAVE ME. Sending boatloads of love, strength, and white light to you in your own struggles!
Big Love and Gratitude,