Rape and Rape Culture


Porn Star by Laurelin Paige My rating: 3 of 5 stars This is another book where the authors have good intentions, but don’t really execute them that well. I think it’s wonderful that Laurelin Paige and Sierra Simone wanted to write a book that includes the very real issues within the adult entertainment industry, including rapes and sexual assaults. I think that if they had done a little more to, no pun intended, flesh things out, then the book would have been excellent. I loved the comparison of Devi/Logan to mythology and astronomy, but I think that sometimes it wasn’t as developed as it could have been. Of course, neither were the characters. Each felt a little flat, which was disappointing because I could tell that they were aiming to build these really strong characters. Instead, Logan becomes the epitome of a NiceGuy stereotype and really isn’t as in touch with respecting women as he thinks he is, while Devi comes off as whiny and immature. Even the villains/antagonists in the story aren’t fully-formed. When I finished reading the story, I felt almost like I had wasted hours of time on reading this book. I hate feeling like reading a book was a waste of time, especially when it is a book that could have been excellent. The sex scenes were okay. They weren’t over-the-top or even all that racy like you might expect with a book on porn stars falling in love. They were just okay. I couldn’t understand how the characters were having mind-blowing sex when the writing wasn’t really all that mind-blowing. Some of it was gross, but a lot of it just seemed blah. I know it was meant to shock and titillate, but it was, like porn, too over-the-top. It didn’t seem like realistic behavior, and all seemed like it was a performance. A lot of it was also grossly coercive, which doesn’t promote the sex-positive message that the writers were intending to share via the story. There were some elements that were a bit racially insensitive and a little bit off on how bisexuality works. The idea that Devi is “exotic” fetishizes her for displaying traits associated with the Persian ancestry on her father’s side. I’m sure that Paige and Simone didn’t mean to say anything racially insensitive, but they did make statements that were cringe-inducing. The descriptions of bisexuality really dumbed down the research. While I appreciate the attempt to address the research that shows women are rarely heterosexual when it comes to arousal, saying all women are bisexual based on arousal is untrue; most are bisexual, followed by homosexual, and then heterosexual, but that doesn’t define their sexuality. Yes, most women can be turned on by other women, but sexual orientation isn’t just about arousal. The same studies that determined that women are rarely heterosexual also say that most men are either heterosexual or homosexual in their arousal, which effectively erases bisexual men. They also show that women can become aroused by watching animals having sex, which could be used to suggest that women are into bestiality, and that’s just interpreting the study in the most literal way possible. It dehumanizes women and bisexuals. It also engaged in bi-erasure by suggesting that if a person is more attracted to one gender than another, that they cannot be bisexual. Devi enjoyed sex with women and fooling around with women, but she preferred men, especially Logan more. In fact, she based her identity as heterosexual solely on the attraction to Logan. Enjoying sex or preferring sex with a particular person or with a particular gender does not make someone not-a-bisexual. Dating one person exclusively or marrying them does not change their sexual orientation. Bisexuality is hard enough for most who identify that way without encountering these stereotypes & common misconceptions. It was mentioned toward the end of the story that the romance developed over the course of two months, but it seemed like it was closer to three weeks. Maybe there was more going on that wasn’t included in the story, but I think I might have found the story more believable or realistic if there was more of a sense that they were doing more than just having sex and talking about astronomy. It was also a little weird that the one who was more wealthy was Logan. Porn is one of the few industries where women out-earn men; top female talent make $2000-2500 per scene, whereas the most well-known male stars make $1500 per scene. To live the lifestyle he lived, he would need to be working more often and investing a good deal of his check. The only reason Devi would be making less is (1) the refusal to work in heterosexual porn and (2) the lack of experience. Otherwise, she would be out-earning him. I think the book had an interesting premise and I might recommend it if you just want to read something a bit smutty, but I wouldn’t tell anyone to have high expectations for it. Maybe it won’t disappoint you if you don’t go in expecting too much. View all my reviews

Review: Porn Star


Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn My rating: 2 of 5 stars This book was good, but it wasn’t. That may not be obvious since I rated it so low. Firsts tackled some tough subjects, but it didn’t really do so in a great or helpful way. I honestly wonder if it may have done more harm than good. The intention of the author, much like the intention of the main character Mercedes Ayres, was probably a good one at heart, but, as the proverb goes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Good intentions cannot fix what is truly wrong with this book. I understand the attempt to soften the approach people take to cheating and slut-shaming, but it doesn’t actually achieve that. Instead, it pushes those stereotypes even further and dismisses criminal behavior as seduction and bad parenting. Luke is portrayed as the former boyfriend, while the behavior described is clearly sexually abusive. He groomed Mercedes before forcing her to perform oral sex on him and before eventually raping her. Charlie’s actions are not really any better. Filming a person having sex without their consent is illegal. Trying to physically force someone to have sex with you is illegal. Attempting to blackmail someone over their sex life is, you guessed it, illegal. But the author chooses to say that Charlie was trying to “seduce” Mercedes. No, that’s not seduction. Those are acts of sexual violence. Kim is an emotionally abusive and emotionally & physically neglectful mother, and Mercedes’ absentee father who decided to punish Mercedes for her mom’s decisions isn’t much better. Kim is portrayed as a slut and a bimbo who only cares about spending the ill-gotten gains of her ex-husband. It’s the kind of storyline that you might get from websites run by “men’s rights activists” and MGTOW. Faye is the supposed-to-be-subtle-but-really-isn’t cautionary tale. Zach is the night-in-shining armor. Angela is the good girl, the girl with the patience of a saint and who is let back into Mercy’s life too easily. Mercedes is the fallen girl/girl gone bad who takes on the sins of all those involved & is nearly ruined in the process. She is constantly obsessing over what side she should show others, which is something that a lot of people feel, but it was never really addressed in the book. Yes, there’s the whole, her mom screwed up how she thinks about sex, beauty, weight, etc., but that’s not enough to explain why she is so hyper-critical and why she is convinced that she is unlovable. And if you’re going to spend a whole book tearing down the main character’s self-esteem, then you need to spend more than a couple of pages making her act like she’s all-better all of a sudden. Sometimes it came across as preachy. No, wait, it always came across as preachy. The sex lives of most of the characters in the book are regularly criticized. Angela, Mercy’s BFF, is super-religious and pushes her faith onto everyone. (There are even Bible verses that are quoted and referenced.) Her sex-negative attitude only pushes Mercy to hide her actions. Kim’s antics seem to push the idea that adultery leads women to even more vice-filled lives. Mercy’s internal dialogue about how many guys she’s had sex with pushed the idea that girls & women who have ‘too much’ sex might be seen as used up goods. The outcome at school for Mercedes pushes the idea that women and girls have to be punished for being sexual. When Mercedes describes how she feels about sex and intimacy, even when she sometimes thinks she’s attracted to Faye, it’s almost like reading a pamphlet on sex addiction. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed by the way that her pseudo-attraction to Faye was handled. I know that with sex addiction, a person might engage in sex with people that they aren’t really attracted to, but the whole “is she going to kiss me” thing that existed through most of their interactions was just shrugged away toward the end. I didn’t know if Mercedes was only thinking about Faye that way because she really doesn’t understand relationship boundaries or if she might not be as heterosexual as she eventually felt the need to declare she was. Sex addiction or figuring out that you’re LGBTQ might be an interesting topic to cover in a novel, but it needs to be addressed in a better way. Come to think of it: all of the issues that are described within the book need to be addressed properly. In attempting to counter the sex-negativity that people, especially women and girls, encounter in their lives, the book actually pushed an even more sex-negative outlook. The book essentially normalized sexual violence, parental neglect, and shaming young women for being interested in sex. That’s why I don’t think I could ever truly love this book. It almost seemed like a book I could like until it became clear that it was just another in a long line of anti-sex books with ambiguous attitudes toward abuse and sexual assault. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. View all my reviews

Review: Firsts



After watching Audrie & Daisy, I seriously hope that Darren White loses his bid to be reelected. I know documentaries don’t always give you the full picture, but it’s clear that he doesn’t respect rape & sexual assault victims. This is one Democratic candidate I would never vote for, and a race where I’m actually hopeful the Republican wins. His bias was clear. Daisy Coleman deserved more from his department. He failed her. He failed the people of Nodaway County, and the bullying & vandalism that took place after her rape is proof that he is also unable to keep the peace in his community. He does not deserve to be a law enforcement officer anymore. Unfortunately, I don’t believe he will lose. If the people of Nodaway County and Maryville can be so hateful toward a rape victim based upon who raped her, then they might not even care about the miscarriage of justice by Darren White. Maybe they’ll prove me wrong and elect Randy Strong. I hope they do.

I Hope the Nodaway County Sheriff Loses




And now the post-Opening Ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics edition of 2016 Reasons–I actually did stop the previous post to get ready to watch the Opening Ceremonies. At this point, you know the drill about how I’m doing this to show all of the reasons to oppose Donald Trump for President of the United States and just about any other position he could ever want. He deserves nothing but shame for these things. 159. Calls undocumented people “illegals” and American-born children of undocumented people “anchor babies”, thus diminishing their humanity and allowing people to feel better about mistreating them. He also claims that no one was talking about immigration by undocumented people before his campaign, which is completely false. He’s called protesters “thugs” and accused them of being here illegally. When referring to himself by his full name, such a douche-tastic thing to do, he said he will strengthen the military and borders and get rid of “illegals”. He’s linked undocumented immigrants and and Syrians. He’s questioned the vaccination status of “illegals”, while defending white people who are anti-vaccination–a blatant for of racism and hypocrisy that has plagued the vaccine movement since its early days. His description of American-born children of immigrants as “anchor babies” is cruel and encourages racism against children of immigrants–something that is odd considering his mother is an immigrant and four of his five children have immigrant mothers. The statement was, of course, applauded by Fox and Friends. He has also called Ted Cruz an “anchor baby in Canada”. He claimed that “many” scholars say that these individuals aren’t covered by the 14th Amendment and vowed to continue calling people by the term. There is no question why he wants to use these slurs to talk about immigrants. He wants people to view them as enemies of the country; he wants them to beg the country to get rid of them. Despicable. 160. Claimed undocumented immigrants and women being raped were by criminals coming to the country “somebody’s doing the raping”. Donald Trump misread a Fusion article about migrant women being raped. He was called out on this online and by Don Lemon on CNN. He told Lemon: “Well if you look at the statistics of people coming, you look at the statistics on rape, on crime, on everything coming in illegally into this country it’s mind-boggling! If you go to Fusion, you will see a story: About 80% of the women coming in, you know who owns Fusion? Univision! Go to Fusion and pick up the stories on rape. It’s unbelievable when you look at what’s going on. So all I’m doing is telling the truth.” When Lemon tried correcting him, he responded with, “Well, somebody’s doing the raping, Don! I mean somebody’s doing it! Who’s doing the raping? Who’s doing the raping?” Completely. Out. Of. Touch. 161. Exploited death of Kate Steinle. Brad Steinle, Kate’s brother, accused Trump of sensationalizing his sister’s murder when Trump’s campaign began. Trump used Steinle as an example of why we shouldn’t allow undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States; he didn’t reach out to the family beforehand and the family was upset about it. 162. Calls his followers the Silent Majority. It’s a bit odd since they aren’t silent and who wants to co-opt things from Richard Nixon? 163. Wants to get rid of gun-free zones. In January, Trump declared that he would get rid of gun-free zones at schools & military bases on his first day if elected. He continued to speak in favor of ending gun-free zones in May, though many of his properties don’t allow guns on them. He also claimed in May that he thought he’d get rid of gun-free zones in schools “in some cases”, with only trained teachers and resource officers carrying them. So he’s opposed to them, if they don’t impact him personally and if he’s not asked to clarify how he really feels about them. Getting rid of gun free zones would not increase the safety of those places, and encouraging more guns could actually lead to an increase in violence. 164. “If you can’t get rich dealing with politicians, there’s something wrong with you.” If you’ve ever wondered if Donald Trump has engaged in corruption, there’s your answer. 165. Sees himself as a uniter. Unless Trump means that he’s united Republicans and Democrats against him, then he’s definitely not a “uniter” of anyone. But he’s claimed it multiple times, like in 2015, when he said, “I think that I would be a great uniter. I think that I would have great diplomatic skills. I think that I would be able to get along with people very well. I’ve had a great success in my life. I think the world would unite if I were the leader of the United States.” Yeah, no. 166. Opposes treating people with respect. At the Republican National Convention, he said, “We cannot afford to be so respectful anymore.” At Liberty University in January 2016, he said, “We’re going to protect Christianity, and I can say that. I don’t have to be respectful.” In 2015, he told Jake Tapper, “You can be respectful if you want, but are you trying to say we don’t have a problem?…Most Muslims, like most everything, I mean, these are fabulous people…But we certainly do have a problem, I mean, you have a problem throughout the world…It wasn’t people from Sweden that blew up the World Trade Center.” He told David Brody of The Brody File, “They’re tired of respectful stuff. I mean I could have said, ‘Oh absolutely not Bill, there’s no Muslim problem, everything is wonderful, just forget about the World Trade Center.’ But you have to speak the truth. We’re so respectful that this country is falling apart.” 167. Claims Clinton was worst Secretary of State ever. In 2015, he said Clinton “is easily the worst Secretary of State in the history of the country. She’s going to be beaten and I’m the one to […]

2016 Reasons to Oppose Trump: Reasons #159-171


1
In the time since HB2 was signed into law, I’ve had several heterosexual cisgender men tell me how terrified they were by the idea “men” being allowed in women’s locker rooms and restrooms. They’re convinced that transgender women are really cisgender men who are trolling for women to gawk at, grope, assault, or rape in a shower or bathroom stall. Because that’s apparently what they think any person born with male genitalia would do. After all, it’s what Mike Huckabee said that he would have done as a young man.1 So, of course, anyone born with a Y chromosome has to be just as creepy. These dudes are also the ones who think that women are even more terrified than them about the issue.2 I bet that they would freak the fuck out over what happened when I went to the Wellness Center Thursday afternoon. On the way over to the pool, I had been talking to my father about how another batch of transphobic folks were saying all women are terrified over trans women coming into women’s bathrooms and locker rooms. That they had talked about women and girls seeing the genitalia of trans folks in the bathrooms, like we play show and tell in them instead of peeing like normal folks. That we would have to shower with and soap up pre-op  cis and trans women because locker rooms in the real world are just like the ones from the porn that they watched last night. That anyone with a dick will use any excuse to rape any and all women using a restroom, locker room, etc. We were both grumbling over the ignorance as he dropped me off.  I went in, checked in, and headed to the pool staging area.3 When I got in, the teacher of an infant swimming class told me that there were men working in there. I changed behind a curtain and those pesky maintenance men didn’t bother to assault me. Obviously they didn’t realize that transphobic guys were rambling away on Twitter about the dangers of people people who are male or assigned male at birth being in a place where women pee, disrobe, & shower4 using bathrooms as hunting grounds. That’s why they didn’t attack any of the women who varied in body type, race, and age. Because they didn’t get the rape-y memo.  Or maybe because most people—whether they are cisgender or transgender—don’t go into the bathroom to assault other people. It doesn’t even cross their minds. Because it’s fucking creepy and a major indicator that a person needs to seek professional help.  And it shouldn’t be something the rest of us expect either—or suggest that we expect as a way to pass unjust laws. We have to be better than that.  Mike Huckabee, lover of child molestation enablers and father of an animal abuser and a Trump spokesperson, said: “We are now in city after city watching ordinances say that your 7-year-old daughter, if she goes into the restroom cannot be offended and you can’t be offended if she’s greeted there by a 42-year-old man who feels more like a woman than he does a man…Now I wish that someone told me that when I was in high school that I could have felt like a woman when it came time to take showers in PE. I’m pretty sure that I would have found my feminine side and said, ‘Coach, I think I’d rather shower with the girls today.’” ↩I’ve seen more women—cis & trans—hate this bill than men, to be honest. ↩Sometimes a girl gets tired of calling it a locker room. ↩Not necessarily in that order. ↩

Men at Work (In the Women’s Locker Room) 



I only had the chance to go for one walk today. My family was about an hour late on going to the grocery store, so by the time I recovered from the first walk it was dark outside. Aside from the whole “it’s not safe for women to be out alone at night” thing, the fact my phone is still some place that is else, and the fact that I have to walk past the homes of 2 actual sex offenders to walk, it would be unsafe for me to walk by myself at night because I’m just that clumsy. ((This is not news.)) I won’t be walking tomorrow because it’s my pool exercise day.1  I just hate not getting in all the exercise I can physically handle. Basically it’s the same competitive drive that led to my muscle injury a week and a half ago.  Photo via Visualhunt.com Doing both on the same day worsens my connective tissue issues & might trigger my fibromyalgia, which will limit future exercise. ↩

In Case of Darkness 




Four percent of websites are considered pornographic; a much smaller percentage than most expect. Many people like the websites while many others hate them; and some who claim to oppose them enjoy them privately.1 I know that they’re a touchy subject2 for a lot of people, but I want to know what you guys think of them. Do you approve of porn? Have you ever viewed it? Do you think that it objectifies the actors? Are people who view porn complicit in any abuses that may go on in the porn industry? Has the industry done enough to prevent things like sexual assault, unwanted pregnancies, and STDs on set? Does viewing porn contribute to issues like pornography and/or sex addiction? Does viewing porn make it hard3 for people to relate emotionally to others? Does it encourage dangerous behavior in its viewers? Or is controversy related to porn exaggerated? Can porn be empowering? Josh Duggar ↩Pun intended. ↩Another pun. ↩

Daily Debate: Oct. 7, 2015


While It Lasts by Abbi Glines My rating: 2 of 5 stars As I mentioned in my reviews for Breathe and Because of Low, I had been boycotting books by this author until recently. I hoped that maybe I had unfairly judged Abbi Glines and her books. I figured out with Breathe that I wasn’t wrong. And I figured out that Because of Low followed the same pattern of book badness. Still, I thought that maybe I hated Because of Low so much because it featured a more misogynistic male lead. I thought that maybe womanizing Cage would be a bit more compassionate and less of a hate-filled horror show. I was wrong. They say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I don’t think that fully covers it. This book inspired me to re-define insanity: Insanity, n.: reading book after book by a particular author and expecting to make it through one without some level of degrading comments toward a particular gender, biological sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, level of ability, class, etc. In other words, this book is so degrading toward women that I seriously started to worry about all the hate being shared. What if this sort of writing inspires more internalized misogyny? How does that help anyone? There is some serious hate going on toward Eva and all female characters. For example, the continued usage of the term “female” or “females” to degrade any woman in the book. It is used specifically and generally. No similar usage of “male” or “males” exists. What’s so bad about “female”/”females”? It’s a scientific term that reduces an organism down to sex. It dehumanizes women by classifying them only by their reproductive organs, it excludes the trans community and those who are not biologically female, and is used solely as a way to speak negatively about one or more female characters. There’s also the grammatical faux pas of using female as a noun; it’s an adjective. That’s why it is 100% cool for me to say “female characters” and 0% okay for a writer to say things like “with the females”–which was actually used in this particular novel. Cage, who I semi-respected in Because of Low, is a misogynist in this book. He makes his first ignorant observation on the tenth page because she doesn’t respond positively to his flirting. I don’t know why this kind of behavior is presented as acceptable for a male love interest to exhibit, but it really isn’t. If a guy treats you like crap in the real world, get away from him. He’s a bad dude. And if he hangs out with a group of extreme misogynists and does not call them out on it, get away from him. Quickly. This sort of thing isn’t sexy behavior. He doesn’t respect you, he hates you. Eva was okay. She was a bit judgmental towards all other women her age. Her cruelty toward her female friends was appalling–even in the instances where it was exhibited solely through the narration. There was very little respect for her personal issues that resulted from the loss of her ex-fiancé. Her grieving and behavior was presented like most of the other mental health issues that Glines tackles: like it’s a character flaw. That still bothers me. And it should bother others. Any writer who suggests things like depression, grief, anxiety, trauma, suicide, drug use, alcoholism, etc. are simply signs of personal weakness is promoting ignorance and stigma. That makes struggling with these issues harder on the real patients who have them. I did have a least favorite minor character. Eva’s ex-fiancé’s mother, who is also the mother of Eva’s best friend, was condescending and I could not sympathize with this woman. She is so self-serving. She tears the relationship between Eva and Cage apart, which I would have supported if it had been based on legitimate factors–not Cage being poor and having a DUI. (Poor-shaming behavior is another thing I’ve come to expect in these books.) It strained not only Eva and Cage’s relationship, but the relationships that Eva has with other individuals. The writing in the book is horrible. Aside from the continued grammatical issues and the choice of uneducated rural phrasing, there are fact issues in this book that I would think an NCAA fan would have picked up on; especially one who is an SEC sports fan. The premise of the story is that Cage is on Eva’s dad’s farm as punishment from being picked up on a DUI. Who bailed him out? His baseball coach. A baseball coach, a booster, or any individual associated with the university cannot give money to a player, nor can they use their money on behalf of a player. Doing so would lead to an NCAA investigation and could lead to fines, loss of eligibility, a coach being terminated, and other not-so-great things. This flaw in the premise lowers the overall quality of the book. And, as you can probably tell, the quality was not high to begin with. Another issue with the book is that there is a lack of depth to the story. You have a bad boy who seems like he can’t hurt a fly and a good girl who is sexually and emotionally inept. In other words, you have the same exact two leads that you’ve had for the previous books in this series. Reinventing the wheel is pretty lazy. The shallowness of the story, as well as it’s predictability, makes it so freaking boring that I was often looking for things to distract me from reading. Readers should be headed toward a book to ease boredom, not headed away from it. I’m confused about why the Sea Breeze books are classified as Young Adult. They are quite sexually explicit. They’re very descriptive of anything and everything sexual in nature. They also promote some mistaken beliefs about female sexuality: (1.) that the first time always has to hurt, […]

Review: While It Lasts