Friday, July 24, 2009

Damn it, Toto, we're still in Kansas!

A cop was recently arrested in Kansas for domestic abuse. The alleged victim is his (now) ex-girlfriend (and former contracted submissive).

Michael Percival (age 44) set up a fishing trip for he & his kids on June 15. Elisha Cabrera (age 42) and her son weren't invited. After his return from the trip, there was an exchange between Percival and Cabrera which, in line with the terms of their agreement, which resulted in her being assigned 50 whacks, which were then administered over the course of 2 days.

On June 18, Cabrera got drunk, went to his house and pitched a fit. Charges against Cabrera as a result of the June 18 arrest included third-degree assault, harassment, DUI and obstruction of telephone service (no details on what that might actually mean).

Cabrera goes to jail. She's in the restroom, changing into a jail suit and being supervised by a female officer who happens to notice marks on Carbrera's butt (without knowing dimensions of the room, location of the two women, etc. it's impossible to say if the marks were "noticed" or exhibited purposefully). Cabrera says Percival made the marks during a punishment. Without seeing the pictures that were taken by the police, in jail, of Cabrera's butt, it's hard to deduce the age or direct source of the marks. Reports of affidavits are unspecific as to the nature or condition of the marks.

Cabrera has provided law enforcement with contracts, documents used to affirm and record consensual negotiations about roles, limits, and consequences to prenegotiated activities. Items discussed in the contract included "personal hygiene, general behavior including sexual behavior and clothing,” and specified punishments if she failed to meet expectations. “The punishments could be as simple as standing in a corner, or as severe as ‘spankings’ on her bare buttocks with a belt or other object,” the arrest affidavit for Percival said.

As a result of all this kinky, incarceration, dayglo orange clothing fetish scene, Percival gets arrested, is suspended from duty and is out on $2,500.00 bond. His trial is scheduled for September 11, and the attorney he's running with is named Scissors. Running with Scissors on September 11? I dunno. You figure it out.

I first heard about this on Dr. Gloria Brame's blog. The header is "Here we go again: male dom on trial in Kansas." Her response to Cabrera’s admission of consensual BDSM activities is:

What can I say except if you ever find yourself at a doctor's office, in an emergency room, or under arrest and someone notices the marks of your sexual play, and ASSUMING YOU WISH TO PROTECT YOUR LIFESTYLE PARTNER...please LIE. The sad thing is that real victims of domestic violence usually do lie about the source of their bruises, while sadomasochists (unaware that what we do can and will be viewed by courts as assault) will blithely spill the beans. Stay safe and keep those beans to yourself UNLESS you feel you are being abused.

It seems that Cabrera has no interest in protecting her "lifestyle partner." Contracts about standards, protocols, rules, roles and punishments may sound fierce and foreign to the nilla ear, but having participated in long-term consensual service arrangements myself, I am not appalled. In fact, it shows damn good sense on both their parts. If Cabrera whipped out the contracts in an attempt to foil her ex, it may backfire. I'm not sure if Kansas is a 'consent is not a defense' state (but I do know that California, my beloved, bankrupt home, is such a state). If she entered into those contracts willingly, then they are of no use to her as a punitive device. In fact, using them as evidence may prove that he wasn't abusing her and that she knew what she was doing.

According to the arrest affidavit, “If she failed to count (each strike) or miscounted, Percival would start over from the beginning.” Well, duh. That's how those things work. If I had someone under contract, in service to me and they were displeasing or violated the contract, there would be punishment. And it would hurt (not much of a punishment, otherwise). I have found that if I am not self-mastered enough to be willing to be the hard wall against which others dash themselves during kinky adventures in self-discovery, then I don't deserve to have someone under my supervision or in my care. Period. Within the BDSM context, this all makes perfect sense. Outside of their context, these things become leverage and sensational soundbytes.

Dr. Gloria Brame is one of my heroes. Her shoulders number those upon which I stand; her work made it possible for me to do what I've done. But lying? I must respectfully disagree. Yes, abuse victims often lie about the abuse, because they don't want anyone to know. Home life could get worse, or there's so much guilt, shame and fear that it's best to rot slowly from within than face the often dire consequences of bringing abuse into the light.

If I wanted to protect any of my "lifestyle partners" the LAST thing I would do is lie. Audre Lorde said, “Your silence will not protect you;” I think that lying is an anti-protection device also. I would discuss it as I would my laundry, or my grocery list, quite matter-of-factly. This is who I am and this is what I do. Your squick-factor is not my responsibility; my responsibility is to conduct myself honorably, within the bounds of my own integrity, while compassionately respecting the fact that you’re squicked. Sure, there'd likely be some grief to take for being honest and frank, but that sort of thing needs doing during the normatization process, in culture, of things previously held as major social taboos. I'm alright with that. It is the silence of those of us who practice both personal culpability and consensual kink that creates the loophole for someone like Cabrera to jump through, using shocking "facts" outside of the context in which they make perfect sense in order to further her own personal agenda, whatever that might have been. If people had better, clearer ideas about what we do and how we do it, it would become far less possible for facts to be twisted like that. Social clarity about our subculture with its rituals and traditions will not be created by BDSM practitioners lying. As long as we hide behind the guilt, fear and shame, arrangements like the one between Percival and Cabrera can--and WILL--be used against us in courts of law.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I'm Standing on Her Shoulders, Staring Down at Her Cleavage

I love sex. I love kinky sex. I love the presence of Spirit in sex. I love prostitutes and sacred whores. I love my own amazing femparts, and all the fun things they can do. I love women who start strong and finish stronger, reinventing themselves at increasingly higher octaves as they live their own magnificent lives. I love smart women; nothing turns me on like a big ol' brain on a woman who knows how to use it. I love women who've done the work to discover who they really are inside, and bring that joyful, hard-won wisdom into the world to help others.

In short, I love Annie Sprinkle. And today is her birthday, which is cause for a day of celebration indeed!

Sprinkle is a prostitute and porn star turned sex educator and artist. Her best known theater and performance art piece is her Public Cervix Announcement, in which she invites the audience to "celebrate the female body" by viewing her cervix with a speculum and flashlight. She also performed The Legend of the Ancient Sacred Prostitute, in which she did a "sex magic" masturbation ritual on stage. She has toured one-woman shows internationally for 17 years, some of which were are titled Post Porn Modernist, Annie Sprinkle's Herstory of Porn, Hardcore from the Heart, and, currently, Exposed; Experiments in Love, Sex, Death and Art.

The first porn star known to have earned a Ph.D., Sprinkle received her Doctor of Philosophy in Human Sexuality from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco. Her work, spanning more than three decades, is studied at many universities, in theater history, women's studies and film studies courses. She also is a faculty member at The New School of Erotic Touch.

Sprinkle's first porn movie was Teenage Deviate, released in 1975. Perhaps her best known featured role was in Deep Inside Annie Sprinkle which was the #2 grossing porn film of 1981.

In 1991, Sprinkle created the Sluts and Goddesses workshop, which became the basis for her 1992 production The Sluts and Goddesses Video Workshop – Or How To Be A Sex Goddess in 101 Easy Steps. which was co-produced and co-directed with videographer Maria Beatty. She later starred in Nick Zedd's experimental films War Is Menstrual Envy (1992), Ecstasy In Entropy (1999), and Electra Elf: The Beginning (2005).

She has appeared in over 200 films and many television programs, HBO's Real Sex among them.

Sprinkle's work has always been about sexuality, with a political, spiritual, and artistic bent. In December 2005, she committed to doing seven years of art projects about love with her wife and art collaborator, Beth Stephens. They call this their Love Art Laboratory. Their projects are all documented on their web site, Part of their project is to do an experimental art wedding each year, and each year has a different theme and color.

And that's the short, short, short list. Fetish model, comedienne, advocate, activist...the list is as long as her legs look in the picture I have of her in heels and a corset.

Dr. Annie Sprinkle's work is an inspiration to me. If she hadn't done what she did, me doing what I've done would have looked much different. She broke ground, she blazed trail, she offered me her hand across space and time whispering, "See? It's fun! And if I can do it, you must at least try!"

I stand on the shoulders of giants. In this case, the giant is Annie, looking just like she does in the picture of her I have in in my hallway: she's adorable in her bouffant flip hairdo, hands flared, balancing on the left foot while the right foot says, "Oooh, la la!" Her cleavage grins and winks at me; sometimes I swear I can see it jiggle tauntingly. As I stand on her shoulders, I'm looking straight down her voluptuous, corseted cleavage. Thanks, Dr. Sprinkle. Thanks for everything!

Visit Annie's website.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

No Next Thing to Say

In conversation with others, my tendency is to listen attentively with detail, and then script the thing I'm going to say next. When you're in silence, you're free to devote all your attention to listening, because there *IS* no next thing to say. You weren't talking in the first place!

That sort of freedom is delicious and rare. To fully immerse in anothers' words which lead you to their feelings which lead you to their innerscapes and a vast, deep way of knowing them, and moving in smooth, fluid tandem with what they're trying to share with you.

I bring this from the silence into my speaking life. May I always be allowed the freedom to hear you, to feel you, to be with you, and be with you very, very well.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Love Note to Myself, or Things One Remebers When It's Quiet Enough to Hear

Dear Me,

We’re never merely who we think we are. There’s always more to know, more of you to be discovered, more to love, more to be grateful for. The rest--stuff, expectations, blame and other ways of outsourcing authority--is a trap. It’s a bottomless, spiraling path to a pit. This downward path affords opportunity after opportunity to discover who we aren’t. We get so used to seeing what we've seen before, what we expect to see, that by the time we notice it, we’re so accustomed to the status quo that we assume that’s all there is--or will ever be. We walk down and down and down on this spiral and we forget that there’s an up to match our down. But how can we see an up when we don't even notice our down? It's easy to miss the down (and therefore the up) because the slope is often so gradual as to appear flat. But it isn’t. We may think we're waling forward in a straight line, but we're not. Einstein even proved that this whole timespace thing is as curvaceous as a stalking BBW sub in a corset & a short skirt. All we see is what we’re used to, what we expect to see.

But we can remember. We can remember there’s an up. It’s scarier only because it lacks that woobiness of comfort, familiarity. It really isn’t any more scary than finding the down, though the up is, in my opinion, certainly no less pleasant than the down.

Realize your downward walking so that you can look up. Plato was just telling you about the cave; he didn’t mean for you to stay in it this long.

Be grateful for everything. It isn’t easy, but it can be done. Gratitude makes a big difference in your quality of life, especially when it’s tricky; to be able to weed your life so finely that you discover a tiny jasmine blossom among the blackberries, trying to thrive, takes some doing. It requires stamina, effort and grace to truly experience gratitude when it all feels and looks like fertilizer. Keep practicing. You get better at it with practice.

The world is subject to change – dramatastically – without notice. We can’t know. What we can know is what’s inside us; that’s ours to control.

Go back and get the pieces of yourself that you’ve left behind in chasms of resentment, bungholes of fear and concrete galoshes of hate. Unbind yourself from those Marleyan chains, and bring yourself fully present to this moment, right now (flogging-giving or receiving- is great for practicing this, by the way). You won’t believe how much extra vitality you’ll have to work with, to apply to your desires when you call the abandoned pieces of yourself into the present moment!

Love and gratitude have in common that they can both be tough to see in a messy situation. But they are always there, if one insists on looking for them til they’re found. Find something to love about everything. Easy when things are pleasant (which is why pleasure is such an excellent ground for discovering how easy it is to love something if your perspective is just so); hard when things are icky. But if you practice looking for things to love and get used to that lovin' feelin', why, then, you’ll be ready to notice it elsewhere. Hone yourself on love. Everything else breaks.

Ever yours,

Friday, July 10, 2009

Not whispering sweet somethings

Happy Friday! Boy, what a trip. My first words this morning were, "I love you." I wanted to make sure I said something good when I got to speak. That's a theme in and of itself. My rules were simple: no talking, and no entertainment media consumption. Oh, and no beer (that was the easiest part).

I'll tell you all about it over the next week or so, but I'm on my way out of town for a couple days, away from technology. But here's a sweet little something I rediscovered while cleaning my hard drive. It was written for Annie's blessing way, and her daughter, Korazon Pearl (whom I was lucky enough to witness entering this world) just turned one year old. And since I'm going out of town, in part, to celebrate the impending arrival of new spawn, it seems right. Though written for Anne & Korazon, here it's dedicated to B&D and the Zeppling about to appear.

Enjoy, and more soon.


Once there was a woman.

She was a good woman: pretty, smart, fiercely temperamental. One day, she wandered away from her village into the woods, where she met a beautiful stranger. The stranger called to her and she went; they danced in a clearing and laid down under the stars and whispering trees. In hindsight, she felt that the whispering trees might have been telling her to go back home, but that was hindsight, and it had been good for those moments on the forest floor with the beautiful stranger.

In the morning, the woman awoke alone and with a big, hungry belly. She had opened up to the beautiful stranger; during the night while she slept, a spirit had crept into her belly asking her to give it a body so that it might become a human and discover the mysteries and wonders of being a person. Surprised, the woman thought about it for a moment, and agreed. “Alright, spirit. You may live in my body for 3 seasons. But after that, you must come out here where I can see you, and we will finish growing you in the open air.” The spirit agreed, and the woman went home to tell her village.

Some in the village turned away from the woman. They were not ready to help a spirit in a new body learn to move through the world. Some in the village ran towards the woman, asking what they could do to help. Some quietly went about the business of getting the village ready to house another spirit in a body as it journeyed through the world. The woman spent time dancing and crying and screaming and redecorating and talking to the spirit in her belly, just like all crazy women who wander into the woods and lay down with strangers do when they find themselves unexpectedly hosting a hungry spirit in a big belly.

As days and nights tumbled over one another, moving time forward through space with their antics, the woman’s belly got bigger and bigger. The spirit in the woman’s belly became more accustomed to wearing skin, testing out the idea of being in a body by stretching and poking and punching the woman from the inside. The woman’s belly got so big that she was certain she would burst before the spirit ever decided to come see what the world looked like with its own, new eyes. The spirit laughed at the woman, telling her, “Don’t worry, mother woman. I have been here before; I have seen the world. But by the time I get outside, I will have forgotten much of what I know, which is why I need you—to help me remember, and to survive the remembering.”

The wise, cranky, itchy-bellied, woman smiled and patted her belly, saying, “Of course. And when I remind you, I will be remembering myself, and we will move through the world together. After all, if we wish to know the way ahead, we must ask those coming back.”

The spirit laughed, making the woman’s belly ripple from one hip to the other. It said, “By sharing the pain of my becoming, I will show you how strong you really are,” and took a nap.

A little while later, the spirit woke and knew it was time to leave the warm, dark comfort of the woman’s belly. The spirit still remembered that each new beginning is an ending of something else, and that’s always the way of things. The villagers walked with the woman to the gatehouse, where all beings come out of the previous world and into the present. The villagers faded into the trees, close enough to be there should the woman call, and far enough to give the woman room to expand into new life.

The woman walked around the gatehouse rubbing her lower back. She squatted low when the pains came, breathing the rich, fertile earth into her body and blood. She leaned against a tree when her legs grew tired, the world itself cradling her. She breathed deep. She panted shallow. She contracted. She expanded. When she had at last surrendered enough of the world she had known to make room for the new life to enter, the baby slid easily from her body, landing gently on the soft, welcoming earth. The woman removed her shirt, cleaning the child’s face and wrapping it close. She cradled the child in her arms watching it remember how to breathe while wearing a body. When the child inhaled deeply and let out a strong cry, the woman laughed and put a nipple in the child’s hungry mouth. The woman, the child and the entire universe breathed a deep, easy sigh of contentment, and everything kept moving right along, just as it has always been and will ever be until it isn’t anymore.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I've Come for an Argument, Please

A couple weeks ago, I had a pretty stunning realization: I don't know how to be, outside the context of an argument. To test the realization, I checked myself the following morning, to see what happened. My eyes weren't even open yet and the argument in my head had begun. Sheesh!

Reason follows that if I am in an argumentative internal state, if that's how I'm treating my relationship to myself, then that's how I'm treating other relationships, too. I cannot see that as a good thing, a thing that requires no work on my part.

So I talked to some friends who've done some serious internal work. Silence was suggested, and that is something I've been mulling over for ages. Seems like now's the time to go in and see what the hubbub is really all about.

From Tuesday morning when I wake until the same time on Friday morning (7.7 - 7.9), I will be in silence. Using Teresa of Avila's model of the interior castle, its seven mansions and many rooms, I'm gonna do some housecleaning. From here, the external manifestations of this inner work will be cleaning my hard drive, working on my virtual business in Second Life to set it aright and tidy, and writing. I may not end up doing any of that; I may end up doing more. I've never done a silence practice before; I'm excited to see what's in there, to see what will emerge regardless of what I think I might be doing. I guess you could say I'm closing down the storefront so I can pay some mind to the store.

I'll letcha know how it turns out. The writer in me is fair drooling over all the fodder that could come of this (as well as dreading trying to inventory and catalog it all!). Other parts of me are having different response, and I'm trying to put all of them back in the river that runs through me (that's a reference to this post: ). My baseline is to keep my mouth shut, my heart and mind open, and see what arises. I may have come for an argument (not just a contradiction, mind you), but I'm hoping I'll end up with one of the most interesting staycations ever.

Have a great week, and wish me good consciousness!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Freedom, Liberty and Independence

Ah, the 4th of July weekend approacheth, with all its attendant BBQs, patriotism and exploding devices. In America, We're ostensibly celebrating our Independence from those nasty English red-coated oppressors. It'd be swell if, while we remember and celebrate our extraction from the grips of a tyrant that we could look at the tyrant, at least long enough to go, "Ew. We don't ever want to become that!" IN order to overcome judgment, we often become that which we judge, so I guess it makes sense that we turned out the way we did. It's a great way to learn compassion--becoming what you judged.

Continental North America was a long way from England--a relatively tiny island that, at different points in history, managed to colonize & rule far larger portions of the known world. That's a high concentration of power in a small place. And not even the English were exempt from being picked on by the English. The Puritans weren't, to England, the way we remember them--stuffy, rigid, uptight. They were actually key in attempts to reform the Church, to return to a "pure" from of Christian worship. They were Conservative, sure, but in many ways they were a bastion against ongoing corruption in the Church. They got picked on a lot--for their clothes, the way they ate, the way they prayed, the way they lived in the world. They were so different that they clashed with the dominant culture; something had to give.

Back in the day, if you hated someplace enough and were willing to face the rigors of a sea journey you could go somewhere brand new, somewhere 'uninhabited' (read: already occupied by some heathen peoples but don't worry about them because God loves us better and we can take their stuff and turn them into Christians we'll never have to respect because they're a different color!) The Puritans thought this a fine idea, hopped on some boats and headed west. At last! The promise of freedom to live and worship as they chose!

But England came with the English. Eventually it came down to telling George (hmmmm...pondering the ratio of association of the name George with empirical tyranny...) to bugger off, that this land is my land and you can shove your taxes and the teabags they rode in on somewhere the sun doesn't shine.

You'd think we'd remember what it's like to be picked on. The Puritans came here because of it. They, in turn, picked on the indigenous people. As more folks arrived on this continent, more people got picked on and more groups for the picking on of people formed. And so it goes. If we don't heal the wounds that result form picking and being picked on, we become cruel, aggressive abusers ourselves, perpetuating the cycles of nastiness. Fortunately, other choices can be made.

This weekend, whether you're grillin, thrillin or chillin, take a second to find someone who gets picked on and do something kind for them--even if it's only a smile, a moment of pure & unconditional acceptance from a another being. That is, after all, some of the original ground for this country: a safe place for the picked on to go and just be who they are. Liberate yourself from ignorance and arrogance. Free yourself from the contrived, socially enforced demonizing and otherness that keeps us from compassionate understanding of one another. Become truly independent by learning who and what you truly are and refusing to settle for anything less.

Happy Fourth.