Pajamas, Popcorn, and Porn

We're proud to announce our upcoming workshop Pajamas, Popcorn, and Porn: Slaying the Shame Monster Under Our Beds as part of Kink.com's educational series at the Armory in San Francisco, CA.

The workshop will be on March 11, 2017 from 5-7:30pm AND we'll be giving away FREE copies of award-winning "Real Fucking Girls" signed by director Mona Wales to the first 25 people/couples.

As part of our workshop, we'll be showing Lilith Luxe's companion piece, REAL FUCKING DOC, which was filmed in conjunction with "Real Fucking Girls."

Can't wait to hang out with all of you! We'll be bringing up some fun Shame Kills Love goodies to share as well!  

 

A Call For Empathy

Let me tell you a story from pre-election time. 

I was at a Starbucks in LA sitting outside for late morning meeting. It was a pretty ordinary day otherwise and between sips I happened to glance up at a man facing me from his table about 15 feet away. I smiled at him, because that seemed polite, and continued on with what I was doing. Then I started to hear yelling. I tried not to pay attention since that Starbucks is known to have its occasional rowdy passerby, but then my hearing focused and I realized the yelling was directed at me from the man I happened to smile at. I tried to ignore it, as that's what I've been conditioned to do, but it got louder and more aggressive. I was hurled expletives about being a dyke, about my race (can't remember what I was called, thankfully or not), and then finally was told this person was going to rip my eyes out and murder me. This went on for a good twenty minutes until he got up to leave and walked right passed me. I honestly had a fear that I was going to be physically harmed as he walked by.  

What did I do? Nothing. And honestly, not because I was trying to make a statement about it. At first, yes, but as the threats became more aggressively violent, I was really just paralyzed with fear. I was surrounded by people and I felt extremely alone. I did a meeting while this was going on and believe me, it fucked me up later. And what about the people around me? They did nothing too. Perhaps because they chalked up this incident as just "another crazy person" and didn't think it was a big deal.  Perhaps because it didn't pertain to them, and like me, were trying to ignore it in hopes that it would stop. I was strong enough to not burst into tears while I was there, and in fact, I lasted until I got home before I sobbed. That was the most I could do in that moment. 

There are people right now who are afraid for their physical safety (myself included) and if you think they are overreacting, if you believe it's their responsibility to "speak up" and not yours too because it doesn't directly pertain to you, and you feel annoyed to see these posts on your timeline, I ask you to take a step back and examine why. Is it because your reality, in this moment, does not reflect the stories of those being harassed and assaulted? Do you think this isn't happening because it's not happening to you? Is it difficult to wrap your mind around it and it seems easier to just be annoyed than empathetic? Is it because you are a survivor at a different stage of your grief and processing? To the people who are on the verge of telling me off on social media, I send you off with kindness, and hope you ponder on this post for a moment before you do so. If you have space for others, I hope you can offer it to them (passively or intentionally) for their anger and grief. No one wants to feel unsafe right now, no one wants to feel angry, but many do. 

I cannot hide the color of my skin, and at this point in my life, I doubt I can hide the fact that I'm gay to anyone who has a pair of working eyes. I do not have the luxury of flying under the radar in most cases. This week has triggered the memory of this incident, but instead of being crippled  by fear, I have been actively pushing myself to reach out to as many people as I can. It is not an easy task and I know full well there are others who are struggling with more than I am.  I may not be physically strong enough to tackle the bigots who hurl words and objects at you, but I will not abandon you or pretend it isn't happening. I  will sit with you if having company makes you feel safer or I will leave with you if you wanna yell about it at the bar across the street over two shots of the strongest whiskey there.

I ask you all to do something. It doesn't have to be big. It doesn't have to be small. But please, it is absolutely better than doing nothing. 

A Love Letter

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Dear loved ones,

The past couple days have been loud, very loud. Red voices, blue voices, analysts, the fear-mongering voices, and the voice of our biggest fear anointed with seemingly unlimited power -- all screaming to get our attention or shut us up. Underneath the cacophony of the yelling there’s the finger pointing. On the other end of the finger, backed into a corner, a soft but full orchestra of communal sobs. The past few days have been very loud.

Your social media feed may be oscillating with stories of crying grief, whispered trauma, and violently loud silencing. You might have been goaded into screaming back. It might have been all you could do to sit back, curl up, and cover your ears.

Over the past couple of days it might have seemed like fear and shame did, in fact, kill love as it has been fought for, as it stands, and as its hope for a bright future. But there are victories, big and small, all around to remind us of our hopeful resilience to band together with love and kindness. 

Through all this noise you may have found it hard to check in with your breath. We want to remind you that it’s there and has been consistently renewing you in moments when it seemed impossible to conceive of a four year survival story. Seeing the shadow of a hand poised to strip love of its agency, it may have been difficult to ground to your heartbeat. We’d like to remind you that it’s been beating, through it all, keeping time and meter and balance as we continue to move forward.

We don’t think we need to explain to you how to survive because, well, you have. We just want to remind you that you do. Every. Damn. Day. That survival is so much more than enough.

The day is almost over and it is okay to feel exhausted. President Obama remarked in his speech last night, “the sun will rise again,”  and sure enough, we saw the sun peek through the heavy clouds this morning signifying that it’s a new day. It’s okay if we’re not ready for these next steps, today is all about breathing through it.

In solidarity,

Traci + Kristel

The Dreaded Beast Known as Prop 60

I thought it would be appropriate to kick off this site talking about that dreaded beast known as Prop 60 here in California. For those who are unfamiliar, let me give you a brief rundown.

  • Prop 60 is funded by one special interest group known as the AIDS Health Foundation (run by Michael Weinstein).
  • Prop 60, as also pointed out on the CA vote-by-mail ballot, will cost taxpayers millions of dollars to fund.
  • Prop 60 is opposed by dozens of local Democratic and Republican organizations throughout California, in addition to workers, doctors, public health experts, civil rights organizations, and the adult industry and its performers (the very industry that this measure is meant to “protect”).
  • Prop 60 would allow anyone in California to sue performers, workers, distributors, etc. if a condom is not visible in the scene. If sued, performers and other industry members could have their legal names and addresses posted publicly during the legal process. In addition, the proposition gives out a 25% reward to those filing the lawsuit, regardless if there any viable evidence that any laws were broken.

There’s more I could list here, but I think DontHarassCA.com has done a great job at outlining the important issues (by the way, I highly recommend you give it a read to educate yourselves on exactly why Prop 60 is so problematic). Instead, I want to focus on the type of rhetoric used to trick people that Prop 60 is about safety (when in actuality, it is not).

Is Prop 60 about protecting the adult industry? No. And, in fact, it puts the very people it’s meant to protect in danger.

Is Prop 60 about the greed of AHF’s Michael Weinstein and stigmatizing the adult industry? Yes, and moreover, it’s about shame.

When we look at the campaigning that AHF is doing for Prop60, the tone used is one of moral and ethical superiority. AHF encourages people to vote “yes” to protect adult performers from disease. They claim producers refuse to provide a safe workplace for their performers and that as a result of this, thousands of workers have been exposed to disease.

This is problematic for a variety of reasons (separate from the fact that it’s not true – performers have to get tested for HIV/STIs every 14 days and use other preventative options as well), but my biggest gripe is that this proposition is masked as a way to “protect the safety of performers.” Performers in the industry have stated that the proposition does the exact opposite of its intention and Weinstein chooses to ignore them. He assumes that the people in the industry need to be “saved” and passes on that mentality on voters, which further perpetuates the idea that people in sex work have less value than those who are not.

To those who are on the fence about Prop 60, I encourage you to do your due diligence and research the topic. Read the actual language used for the proposition. Visit the DontHarassCA.com website to get the facts. Google ‘Prop 60’ to see what non-industry news publications and advocacy groups are saying about the proposition and then compare it against the AHF’s stance on the topic. Pay attention to the language used in their campaigning and think about what emotions they’re trying to appeal to.

Traci and I have been doing incarnations of our workshop, Cache Confidence, for the last six months where we’ve been discussing demystifying and destigmatizing the adult industry. In our discussions on the topic, we noticed a common thread throughout our conversations: shame.

Whether it’s sex, body, or even sexuality, we know shame is something that affects our self-worth, our relationships, and how we view the world. Whether it causes a person to be self-loathing or to believe they are morally superior to others, it’s an emotion that can cause a lot of real world damage.

Prop 60 is not about protecting the adult industry or about accountability to protect adult performers. The language is framed that way to make the industry seem like a landscape of sexual and ethical deviance, and thus, trying to appeal to a voter’s sense of “moral duty.” It is this type of veiled perceived moral superiority from Weinstein that is the most infuriating. More frightening than his greed to capitalize on being the “condom police” is his intention to further ostracize the adult industry from society. Prop 60 helps no one – except himself.   

The adult industry is filled with passionate, intelligent, and creative people who are speaking up about the dangers of Prop 60. We are often marginalized in the real world because of our profession, but the kicker is this: the adult industry exists because there is demand for it. Consumers (i.e. voters) support the industry with their wallets and yet vilify us in the public eye, but we all have the power to stop the shame cycle.

So let it start with this – vote “no” on Prop60. Why? Because it hurts adult performers and you believe our opinions carry weight and value. You view us as equals and believe we have the intelligence and aptitude to make decisions about our safety and well being.