Note: This post is republished with permission from maymay from Maybe Maimed but Never Harmed. Anyone who is concerned, offended and/or appalled by the unethical linking practices done by EdenFantasys and their defense and smoke and mirrors response about the situation are urged to excerpt, tweet, and cross-post it with proper attribution.
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.Monday, May 10, 2010
So, yesterday was Mother’s Day. For the past three years I have written on Menstrual Poetry and for those three years, I have written about Mother’s Day and how this one day, for me, brings about anxiety, panic attacks and an overwhelming sense of loss.
It’s no big secret that I am a survivor of child abuse, neglect, sexual assault and rape. I have written about all of this on this website many, many times and a few years ago I had given an interview to the Scranton, Pennsylvania Times Tribune about being an adult survivor of childhood sexual assault and also made my childhood life experiences public to a crowd of a few hundred people at the Scranton, Pennsylvania Take Back the Night rally at Courthouse Square. But regardless of the amount of times I write about it or talk about it, the gut-wrenching, crippling, bottomless pit of emotion does not go away. Sure, I have learned healing techniques from the Women’s Resource Center, whom I sought help for my anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression from after calling the RAINN hotline one day when I was alone in my first apartment, feeling defeated and as if I were trapped inside a bubble of negativity. There are also some amazing resources online for survivors, like the Survivor Manual, started by Angela Shelton, a survivor, filmmaker, author, comedian, writer, actress, model and all-around fabulous and inspiring woman. If the amount of resources made available to survivors tells us one thing, it is that we are not alone and that sentiment inspires and motivates us to heal and to help others in their own healing journeys in any way they will allow us to. But healing is a journey–a very long journey and in the end, while you may have come to terms with what happened to you, there are still days when you can do nothing but “sit in your shit,” a term I could not help but adopt from my counselor at the Women’s Resource Center.
Having a “dark day” or period of time where you can do very little but “sit in your shit” is perfectly okay and it is completely normal. Wallowing and grieving is part of the healing process and you have to allow yourself to do that throughout your entire healing process. I remember reading that on any major given holiday, there are twice as many phone calls made to rape crisis and assault hotlines than any other time of the year. Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Easter, parent-specific days of recognition and all holidays in between are major triggers for those affected by assault in some way.
Mother’s Day has been my biggest trigger for over ten years.
While I have written posts about Mother’s Day and how it affects me on a severely personal level for the past three years, this year I contemplated what I would write about and kept coming up with virtually nothing. I have said it all before and nothing about this aspect of my life has changed, so what else was there to say? This year, Mother’s Day seemed to be on steroids. Between two email accounts, Facebook, Twitter and the general blogosphere, for a week I have not been able to get away from the “Happy Mother’s Day” sentiments and this year, I really wanted nothing to do with it. So my approach for this year’s Mother’s Day post? Complete and utter avoidance. But that didn’t necessarily work out the way I thought it would–obviously.
While visiting my daily reads around the feminist blogosphere, Mother’s Day was undoubtedly a major topic of discussion and conversation.
- The Undomestic Goddess listed things her mother had done for her to shape her into the woman she is now; from being her Girl Scout troop leader and “room mom” in school to teaching her the importance of friendships and how to not let people take advantage of her in any situation.
- The Pursuit of Harpyness made a list of the best advice given to them by their moms (or maternal role models) and asked for the best advice or “how it’s done” statements made by the mothers of their commenters.
- Our Bodies Our Blog featured a fun video that will insert the name of the woman of your choice in a faux news story awarding that person with the “Mother of the Decade Award” from MomsRising
- Girl with Pen compiled a wish list for Mother’s Day including ideas like “A world in which being born a girl is not a risk factor for malnourishment, hunger, neglect, discrimination, poverty, abuse, sexual violence, forced labor, trafficking or death.” and “A newspaper filled with stories about the new global peace: no environmental disasters, no bombs exploding, no torture, no hate crimes, no war.”
- fbomb dedicated their ongoing series of articles of ‘Support Women Artists Sunday’ to Mother’s Day and to Carly Simon because their mother was obsessed with the artist.
- Jezebel featured quite a few different posts about and in dedication of Mother’s Day, including an article republished by Morning Quickie about how her mother had not attended a school play when she was 10 because it conflicted with a Buddhist retreat she needed to attend and how that moment taught her that you can be a wife and mother without completely giving up your sense of self.
- Pandagon and Feministe posted the new video My Mom is an Inspiration from the Center for Reproductive Rights that thanks moms everywhere for raising a generation who care about and who are passionate about choice.
- Womanist Musings has a new post over at Global Comment about Mother’s Day and what it really means to celebrate motherhood when in the wake up Mother’s Day or any recognition honoring mothers and motherhood brings up the conversation of choice and a woman’s right to choose abortion.
- Chloe at Feministing wrote an article about the glorification of motherhood in our culture while American mothers are still denied basic rights like paid maternity leave, how women can be kicked out of public places for breastfeeding, the pay cut women take when they become mothers and the fact that single mothers earn between 34% and 44% less than men in the same field.
It was the Feministing article that really struck a chord with me–and not necessarily in a completely good way. It is definitely an inspiring and motivating piece for those who find themselves “with-mother,” with sentiments like “you only get one [biological] mother” and “it isn’t fair that mothers only get one special day a year,” but to someone tragically without, I can’t imagine being this high-strung, this emotional and this triggered more than one day a year.
But as a self-identified feminist who runs a feminist-centric blog, one must ask themselves–is it my “duty” as a feminist to blog about Mother’s Day regardless of my personal triggers and downright discomfort with the subject? Motherhood and a woman’s right to bear children is a major feminist issue. From the absence of paid maternity leave as a fundamental right to women with careers to women being formally and socially judged if they receive welfare and choose to become mothers; not one of the road blocks women hit repeatedly from the time of pregnancy to actively parenting are okay and I try to blog about these problems as much as I can, but this conversation becomes more involved, wide-spread and more passionate on Mother’s Day. The day I cannot bring myself to see the silver lining if said silver lining hit me over the head like a baseball bat.
To the credit of the Feministing article, it did mention “sparents,” a term coined by Mia Freedman. Sparents (or “spare parents”) are those nurturing and responsible adults who play essential roles in shaping the lives of children who may not be biologically theirs, but that doesn’t stop them from teaching, sharing, guiding and experiencing.
I didn’t have “sparents” exactly, but I did have a kick-ass, liberal grandmother who gave me the foundation to grow into the woman that I am today.
So, to my GramPat–
Thank you for showing me exactly what a proud, independent woman looks like. For your undeniable and unwavering love, regardless of the mistakes I have made in my life and will continue to make throughout it. For raising me with the respect to make my own decisions and form my own point of view and for your guidance. For reminding me to never be too proud to ask for help and never judging me. For instilling in me the knowledge that women can do anything and giving me the courage to speak my mind and do what I believe in. For not making too much fun of me for being 23 years old and still not knowing how to cook. For all the school projects, middle-of-the-night Walmart runs, early-morning deep, philosophical conversation accompanied by cup after cup of coffee and for teaching me who is on the 50 dollar bill, which to this day I still know the answer to (Grant.) Thank you for making me look up how to spell certain words in the Dictionary, you’re probably single-handedly the one to thank for my excellent spelling skills and for making me look up anything I wanted to know more about in the Encyclopedia first before you gave me your point of view on the subject.
Thank you for your infinite wisdom and thank you for helping me become the woman I am today. I hope to one day become even a fraction of the empowering and inspiring woman you are.
But even though I have been fortunate enough to have a deeply inspiring grandmother who is still a tremendous mother-figure in my life, that cannot erase the sense of loss that is felt when you have a mother out there, who is not deceased, but just doesn’t want you. To realize that you are not wanted by the very person who brought you into this world is a deeply damaging and tragic realization. My mother does not want me and she never has; when she had me, she did nothing but make my life into yet another statistic–another case of child neglect and emotional and physical abuse, another case of childhood sexual assault, another case of irreversible mental illness.
So last night, when sitting here thinking of the day in which we recognize the good in motherhood, I sobbed. I sobbed for the mother I have never had; for my loss of a fit and capable mother that I deserved. But what gives me that little comfort I need is the fact that there are people in my life who want to be in it and who deserve to see the woman I continue to become.Thursday, May 6, 2010
Crystal Renaud is the group leader of Victory Over Porn Addiction, a support group and workshop for women who are addicted to porn. The group forms at Westside Family Church, an evangelical megachurch in Westside, Kansas. Renaud was inspired to start this support group, as well as the website, Dirty Girls Ministries, by her own life. At the age of 10 after finding a pornography magazine in her brother’s bathroom, she says she wasn’t able to get enough of it and was led to masturbation, phone sex and cybersex.
Renaud starting Victory Over Porn Addiction in 2008 and her group is still very small–the last graduation ceremony she conducted for this group had only three members. However, she does know that there is a market for this type of support group and workshop, modeling her own group after another website, XXX Church, a program working to help people with their porn addiction. The bottom line of both of these religious groups is that they emphasize prayer and abstinence, not only urging their followers and members to abstain from having premarital sex with a partner, but also with themselves. They spread the word that masturbation and even arousal and sexual thoughts outside of marriage are sins, rather than elements of healthy sexuality.
It seems as if it is perfectly fine for a woman’s sexuality to be up for discussion regardless of where she is in her life. If she is unmarried, according to religion and to programs like Renaud’s and many others out there, she is prohibited from having a sexuality at all. Not only that, but she is forbidden to even merely think of sex in any context. Married women are universally stereotyped as being frigid and by grabbing excuses like they have a headache or are too tired to have sex with their husbands out of their back pockets and it is scenarios like this that we see in the campiest of comedies on television and in film that we are supposed to laugh at and even relate to.
I think that religious groups like these focus too much on condemning. In the New York Times article on Victory Over Porn Addiction and the other evangelical groups like it, a woman is referenced who “slipped” two times one week–slipped, we can assume is watching porn and/or masturbating. This woman said “I slipped two nights this week…I decided that every time I’m tempted I’ll just let everything out to God, then pray specifically for someone else, do selfless acts, to get away from being selfish.” This is not only not helpful, it is damaging to this woman’s self esteem. The thought and belief that women should not enjoy sex and their sexuality, I believe, is severely damaging. Self-gratification is a healthy part of life that should be celebrated and explored, for those who are sexual beings.
I am very curious as to what constitutes an addiction in the eyes of these workshops and support groups. I do not believe that porn is all bad; yes, I know that may surprise a lot of you out there who believe feminists are anti-porn. I, however, am not by any means. There is a lot of porn out there that demeans, objectifies and exploits women and a percentage of women in porn do feel trapped in that line of work, depending on the money in order to survive. However, if a woman is in the sex industry on her own terms, I don’t see anything wrong with that, as long as she is performing in porn where she feels comfortable and even satisfied with appearing in. We also cannot forget about the women directors who are currently making porn. The sex industry is a lucrative one and if a woman can excel within it on her own terms, our role as not only feminists, but as fellow women, is to support those people who are striving to make a living.
If the woman in this article masturbated twice in one week, I think that figure would be below the average of what the normal, healthy, sexual being experiences in one week. I masturbate more than twice a week and I have a healthy and gratifying sex life–does that mean I have an addiction? Of course not, because I am a sexual being who strongly believes in a woman’s right to sexual liberation. A sentiment that is not shared by these evangelical groups.
Another woman in the article said something that deeply disturbed me and further proved that these groups can truly have a damaging effect on women. The woman, who is 17 years old, said, “You have to take into consideration what’s best for the one you’re going to be with. Say someday I’m married and my husband can’t please me as much as I please myself. That’d be terrible.”
So not only are women being told that masturbating or watching porn two times in one week constitutes them having an addiction, but 17 year old girls are having to take into consideration a person they most likely haven’t even met yet and who won’t have a place in their lives until maybe 10 years from now? For a woman to actually have that thought signifies that she has already given up control over herself, her life and her sexuality and it’s deeply saddening.
In an episode of Sex and the City, Charlotte gets a Rabbit Habit vibrator and after barricading herself in her house because she was too busy masturbating, she divulged the fear of not being able to meet a man who could pleasure her like that piece of elastomer could to Carrie and Miranda. Why was that line written? Because it’s hilarious to the point of ridiculousness. As a person with a good box full of sex toys, I can tell you from experience, masturbation is one thing, but having sexual and physical contact with another person is another. While (hopefully) the end result from both is an amazing orgasm, the experience itself differs pretty dramatically. What is the next support group to come out of these evangelical churches? If women have an orgasm, even if it’s one orgasm a month, they must be an addict because they enjoyed themselves?
Renaud says she tells women who may slip and text her for support to pray about their situation, saying that distraction is a big part of recovery. If Renaud really wants to distract these women, as well as herself, why doesn’t she start a campaign against human trafficking, child pornography or pornography that demeans and exploits women?Wednesday, May 5, 2010
I have not addressed Arizona’s discriminatory, Nazi-like immigration policy head-on, but I had mentioned it within another post on the general discriminatory mindset of Alabama Republican Governor nominee, Tim James.
According to Arizona’s SB 1070, law enforcement officials in Arizona now have the right to demand documentation from any person they personally suspect may be in the country illegally. Several blogs and countless news sources have brought up the fact that Arizona’s new law, which unless it is blocked by legal challenges, will go into effect this summer, could potentially lead to racial profiling. In fact, Janet Napolitano, who formerly served as Arizona’s governor before taking the position of Homeland Security Secretary has stated herself that the bill “certainly could invite profiling” and also said that “the border’s been under more control than ever before,” making this bill an absolute shame.
Sadly, a lot of people are pretty psyched about this discriminatory and racist bill. I have seen countless Facebook groups being created in favor of “taking control of illegal immigration” and “getting those illegals out of our country.” What kind of people are creating, joining and spreading the word of these groups? Well, people like the National Socialist Movement.
In case you’ve never heard of them, the National Socialist Movement is considered by many to be a neo-Nazi hate group. The Yahoo Group page for the movement (because apparently they still live in the 90′s) claims that they are a “civil rights organization for White people of America and around the World.”
Today is May 5th, Cinco de Mayo, a day that celebrates the anniversary of Mexican independence; and to help Arizona in their “anti-immigration efforts,” the National Socialist Movement has declared today “Report An Illegal Day.”
The group has printed up one-page fliers that instruct people to fax or email Congress to demand that the border be secured and to ask local businesses to participate in e-verify and turn people who they suspect to be illegal immigrants into DHS and ICE.
According to Phoenix, Arizona’s ABC affiliate, Phoenix police are “looking into the flyer.”
This is really getting disgusting, people.Monday, May 3, 2010
A few days ago I saw someone post a video from Tim James, the Republican nominee for Governor of Alabama. After watching it, I wasn’t necessarily surprised since it was a public service announcement from someone openly Republican, but it still made me ridiculously angry; so angry that I left a pretty long comment on the post, which spawned into a bit of a debate of about 40 comments. After going to the source of where this person found the video, I saw that it posted by Justin Taylor, the Mayor of Carbondale, Pennsylvania–the closest sort of big city near me; and this Moderate Democrat Mayor thought it was “awesome.”
After leaving two comments about this video, one on the post where I first saw this video and another on the Mayor of Carbondale’s Facebook page, and getting some varied responses, I thought it was about time to spread the anger-inducing, discriminatory video of doom to all of you.
[The video has been removed from YouTube and I can't seem to find it anywhere. Obviously Tim James realized he put his hand in the wrong pot with his views on the English language and immigration in this country.]
Oh yes, another “if you want to live here, speak the language” declarations from someone who is incredibly proud of their close-mindedness.
Currently, Alabama gives their driver’s license tests in Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese. That exact order was taken directly from Tim James’ own website and it is listed alphabetically instead of by the largest population who speaks a non-English language and so on. A major advantage of this alphabetized list is also so that Arabic can just so happen to be listed first and as a Southern state where most of the population has the deeply embedded “war is great” mindset, they immediately think of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan when seeing Arabic and then the mindset easily develops into Arabic > terrorists > we don’t want terrorists operating vehicles in our state.
Tim James seems to be piggybacking on the recent outrageous Arizona immigration policy that gives law enforcement the power to act like Nazis–literally.
According to Arizona’s SB 1070, law enforcement officials have the right to demand documentation from any person they personally feel may be in the country illegally. As Debra W. Haffner, a minister and sexologist, stated, this law is “nothing short of a full-frontal attack on people of Latino descent.” This law could also push racial profiling into law in the state of Arizona and from the looks of it, Tim James is probably sad he didn’t think up this law for Alabama first.
Tim James may also want to look up a little bit on the history Alabama has when it comes to enforcing English-only driver’s license examinations. Alabama politicians have been singing the English-only tune for quite a while now and have racked up millions of dollars in legal fees due to the general close-mindedness that comes with this “speak English or get out of the country” stance.
After an advisory opinion issued by Jimmy Evans, the Attorney General in 1990, Alabama did only offer the driver’s license exam in English and six years later in 1996, the Southern Poverty Law Center defended Martha Sandoval, a Mexican-born Alabama citizen (notice I said citizen, not “illegal immigrant,) who was limited in her ability to speak English and was unable to pass the exam. Because of this, Sandoval had been arrested several times for driving without a license. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal class-action lawsuit under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that said:
“The regulation had impermissible disparate impact on the basis of national origin in violation of Title VI, and was not supported by substantial legitimate justification.”
In 1998, the state of Alabama lost in federal court and the state returned to offering the driver’s license exam in multiple languages and the ruling was upheld by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Current state Republican Governor Bob Riley has been a consistent supporter of English being the official language of the state of Alabama but has maintained the position that based on the US Supreme Court ruling in favor of Sandoval, returning to an English-only driver’s license exam would put the state’s federal transportation dollars in jeopardy since there would be even more class-action lawsuits filed. He, as well as Democratic Governor Don Siegelman stated that the testing options helped people with limited English skills pass the test and become legal drivers, which of course helps these people become active in their communities and help the economy of their communities by being able to work, get an education and stimulate the economy by shopping.
As for the obviously un-researched point James made in his public service announcement about saving the state of Alabama money by only offering the exam in English, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety stated that no extra cost is involved in offering the exam in multiple languages because the test is given automatically by computer.
Obviously, Tim James is proud of the fact that he is a “business man”, but from the looks of it, he is a very poor one.
This video has received a great deal of press nationally and James has defended is political viewpoint many times, even going as far as to making up a very condescending poll on his website saying that while the “far left” has a problem with this language PSA, he believes that “normal” Americans will support this stance. Yes, he did indeed use the word normal, as if saying people on the left are some sort of crazy; what a divisive stance you take when trying to be elected, Tim James, very nice! The poll includes very basic questions as if James believes he is explaining his stance to a crowd of kindergarteners.
Luckily, some Alabama voters are seeing what a dim-witted, discriminatory man Tim James really is and they are making sure their voices are heard in the comments section of the Alabama State Blog.
So no, Tim James, this legal minefield you wish to put your state in does not make sense and it also doesn’t seem to make sense to a good number of the people who will not be voting for you.