Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Polanski, listening to survivors and anger at perpetrators

I'm a feminist. I have a degree in Women's Studies. I've been trained as a sexual assault advocate. I volunteered on a sexual assault crisis line for three years. When I worked as a counselor and clinic manager for Planned Parenthood and at private clinics I was a mandated reporter. I've listened to women cry. I've helped women who were disassociating ground themselves and find their bodies. I've been required to call the cops when a minor has disclosed abuse. I've seen women feel like they were being assaulted all over again when they talked to the cops, or testified in court. I've held friends as they cried remembering an assault. I've seen how the effects of living thru sexual trauma play out in the lives of people I care about years after the abuse stopped. And I've had customers walk into the store shaking with tears on their cheeks as they look for a way to reclaim their sexuality.

I'm biased. And I know it.

I'll go to the mat for any survivor who chooses to not involve the authorities in her (or his or zes) recovery. And I have. I understand the need to walk away.

I believe, like I believe the sun comes up in the morning, that the person who survives a sexual assault is the person who gets to define how their recovery will go. They had precious, intimate control taken from them, and now, they get to make all of the choices.

Which is why, when I heard that the woman that Polanski raped wanted the matter dropped, I sided with her.

And then I saw the reaction to Polanski's arrest. And I had some issues reconciling my ethics.

I think it was this statement that really got my ire up:

"without wanting to interfere in a very old judicial process...(I) regret in the strongest way that a new ordeal has been inflicted on someone [Polanski] who has gone through so many"
Frederic Mitterand, Minister of Culture, France

Excuse me? He has gone through some incredibly intense things in personal life. Things no one should have to experience. He survived the Holocaust. His mother died in a death camp. His wife and unborn child were murdered in an utterly horrific fashion by the Manson Family. These are unquestionably tragedies. And he deserves empathy and understanding in relation to those events in his life.

But they in no way mitigate the fact that he admitted to, and was convicted of, drugging and raping a 13 year old girl. Read the grand jury testimony. And that he has not yet, according to the state in which he committed this crime, paid his debt.

Or maybe it was this:
He's a brilliant guy, and he made a little mistake 32 years ago, what a shame for Switzerland [for arresting Polanski]
Otto Weiser, friend of Polanski

"A little mistake"?! What the hell is wrong with people? He committed a serious crime.

If convicted of the same crime today, he would be a registered child sex offender. A felon. One of those people that you don't want living on your block. Or around your own kids. He likely would have been sentenced to at least three years in prison (released in less).

He is a gifted filmmaker. That's true. It is also true that the judge in the case changed the terms of the plea deal at the last minute. The judge has since been accused of impropriety in the case.*

Regardless of his sentence, the truth is. He did it. And what he did was horribly wrong.

Perspective on the severity of the offense is needed. Under current law, what he did is a felony level offense.

Of course, he can't be prosecuted under current statutes. That's unconstitutional. But looking at is crime in relation to current statutes helps to illustrate what he did in a contemporary context. And it's not pretty.

Here's what current California Penal Code says about this type of sexual assault which was:
  • penetration of a minor under the age on 14
  • by an adult more than 10 years older than the minor,
  • in which the minor was intoxicated and
  • the adult was aware of the intoxication (he gave her champagne and a quaalude)

Section 288
(i) Except as provided in Section 288, any person over
the age of 21 years who participates in an act of sexual
penetration with another person who is under 16 years of
age shall be guilty of a felony.

(j) Any person who participates in an act of sexual
penetration with another person who is under 14 years
of age and who is more than 10 years younger than he
or she shall be punished by imprisonment in the state
prison for three, six, or eight years.
Section 289
(d) Any person who commits an act of sexual penetration,
and the victim is at the time unconscious of the nature
of the act and this is known to the person committing the
act or causing the act to be committed, shall be punished
by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or
eight years.
As used in this subdivision, "unconscious of
the nature of the act" means incapable of resisting because
the victim meets one of the following conditions:

(1) Was unconscious or asleep.
(2) Was not aware, knowing, perceiving, or cognizant that
the act occurred.
(3) Was not aware, knowing, perceiving, or cognizant of
the essential characteristics of the act due to the
perpetrator's fraud in fact.
(4) Was not aware, knowing, perceiving, or cognizant of
the essential characteristics of the act due to the
perpetrator's fraudulent representation that the sexual
penetration served a professional purpose when it served no
professional purpose.
(e) Any person who commits an act of sexual penetration
when the victim is prevented from resisting by any
intoxicating or anesthetic substance, or any
controlled substance, and this condition was known,
or reasonably should have been known by the accused,
shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison
for a period of three, six, or eight years.
This is no "little mistake". It is felonious sexual assault of a minor. That is something for which I am not able to find forgiveness. Regardless of someone's "genius".

The fact that so many in the film and artistic community are coming to this pedophile's defense turns my stomach.

But, as much as I would like to see this man punished with the fullest extent of the the law, we need to listen to what the survivor has asked for.

She wants to be left alone and has been asking for the state to drop the case since 1997. It's reprehensible that the state has ignored her pleas. And ignored them for more than a decade.

Judge Rittenband was not acting on my behalf or in my best interest when he refused to allow the plea bargain...which did not involve additional jail time for Mr. Polanski.

The continued publicity surrounding this case has been so intense at times that it has changed my life forever from what it might have been...

I have recovered from the events of March 10, 1977. I have moved on and am very happy with my life. I feel I can also recover from the traumatic effect of the continued publicity, if this situation could only finally be resolved. I have long awaited the day that this issue is put to rest once and for all, and I am hopeful that this time may be at hand.
May 28th, 1997
Letter from Samantha Geimer to the Hon. Larry P. Fidler, LA Superior Court
*in 1997, Ms Geimer chose to give up her anonymity

Because you know what?

She's the one who gets to pick.

Not me, who'd like to smack him and take half of his income from the last 30 years to pay for recovery programs for survivors, or some asshole who thinks that Polanski only made a "little mistake" and that he should instead of jail be given a cookie, a pat on the head and an award for his films, or you and whatever you may think - but her.

The girl that he raped.

So drop it. Let her go on with her life as she chooses to live it. Without having to be reminded about the assault by seeing it played out in the media every time a Polanski film opens.

Give her some peace. As she defines it.

Then, lets go at the people who think that what Polanski did wasn't a big deal, figure out what's wrong with them and fix it. And let's go at a system that defines justice for the victim, rather than the other way around.

Because something is terribly, terribly broken.

*The prosecution and Polanski had agreed to a plea deal, avoiding a trial, when the judge changed the deal. General consensus is that the judge got cold feet because the deal, while it avoided putting the survivor through the trauma of trial, also meant no additional incarceration for Polanski (who had already spent 40 some days in a facility receiving a psych evaluation). When the judge indicated that he would require Polanski to serve an additional 40 days in jail, he fled the country. If he wasn't famous, the result of all of the above would have undoubtedly been different. But he was, and he is, and....

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Summer Camp, Backs and Blues

Last Monday, I loaded up my jeep, nodded to the spider who has taken up residence in the passenger seat (and is sweetly keeping my jeep bug free) and set out for Dark Odyssey Summer Camp.

For the past several years, I have worked crew at DO.  Which means that I show up early, stay late and help set up the Sex-O-Rama.

Which is good.  Because I'm helping to set up something called the Sex-O-Rama.  Just try saying it a few times.  You can't help but smile.

DOSC is held at a camp in Northern Maryland.  It's a really a camp.  You know, with cabins.  A dining hall.  Bugs.  Flag poles. Bathrooms that no amount of bleach can really help.  I like to think that once upon a time band camp happened there.  And that those geeky children have now grown up.  And created the Sex-O-Rama. 

The Sex-O-Rama is a group of connected cabins that are transformed into something fabulous.

 First, the Make Out Room.  It has shiny, pretty fabric hanging on the walls, luscious low lights twinkling thru sheers, comfy futons, large Liberator shapes, and, of course safer sex supplies.

Next to the Make Out Room is the Paradise Hotel, then the Bordello, then the Peep Show.

My jeep and I tumbled down the dirt road and pulled up to the cabins.  I found M getting her cabin ready for her leather family who would be arriving later and one other person from our crew wandering around.  The Dungeon crew had already delivered all of our stuff and stacked it in front of the Sex-O-Rama cabins.  The three of us then proceeded to wander about aimlessly waiting for our leaders.  

In due time, Colton and Tristan (two of the four organizers of the whole shebang) showed up with their UHaul and their check lists.  I heart checklists.   As we unloaded them, more of the crew trickled in and we set to work. 

Then, the crew leaders for our crew showed up:  E and J.  E drew maps of how each room was to be set up.  Notes regarding which specific items were needed in each room were posted on the doors.  With painters tape.  So as to not leave a residue.  Swoon.

We set to work.  Staple guns flew, fabric was piped and draped, sex slings were taken to their appropriate locations.  Old staff met new staff and much chatting ensued.  

Then there was fried chicken.  Yum.

Sometime between nine and ten we knocked off for the night and I retired to my bunk to read my kindle and knit my sweater.  Which is very close to being done.  So I'm at that somewhat obsessive knitting/I-really-want-to-finish-this-so-that-I-can-wear-it-and-besides-I-want-to-start-those-really-cute-Fair-Isle-flap-mittens-that-I'm-going-to-make-for-S-stage (so that her fingers stay warm when she's working outside and there's a damp wind that just cuts thru other fabrics but she needs to sometimes have a her fingers free to write something or maybe toggle the switch on her walkie? unless you can do that with a mittened hand.  i don't know anything about walkies.  they're mysterious).

I spent much of the night flopping about my air mattress as it deflated.  When I gave up on sleeping at 7 am I was sore.  Like beaten sore.  Which really shouldn't happen until later in the week.  And then only after a negotiation.  And a safe word.  

I stretched.  Wondered why it sounded like a toddler was running around on the roof, realized it was only a mouse, and took my knitting and kindle to the Make Out Room where there were soft things to sit on while I waited for the dining hall to open.  

Soft futon.  Chick lit on the Kindle.  Angora silk blend sliding thru my fingers.  mmmmm.  good morning.

Help spread sex information

So, there is a little non profit with a big mission in Rhode Island that is having a few problems opening their doors.  It's called the Center for Sex Pleasure and Health.

The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health is the first sex-positive, non-profit sexual resource center to open in New England.  The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health provides a physical location for people to receive sexuality information and campaign for sexual justice issues.

And they are having zoning issues.

Because their location is apparently not zoned for "education".  Right?!  Who the hell knew that there was special zoning for that?

According to Oh Meagan, who is leading the charge on this project, education, not sales of adult toys is the focus of this enterprise.
...it wasn't my intention of ever selling [toys}, just having the toys on display for educational use.
And yet, perhaps because sex toys may be observed, the city council seems to think that they need to put up barriers to adults accessing information about their sexual health and pleasure.  Because, you know, our culture doesn't do enough of that.

We need your help.  I'm collecting letters for Megan to take to the City Council about the importance of adult sex education.  Have you attended a class that helped you?  Gone to a class that  helped you to maintain a long term relationship?  Gave you information or tools that enabled you to develop a more fulfilling relationship with your own body?  Taught you that your gender/sexuality/ identity was normal and didn't need to be a source of shame? Helped you heal from sexual trauma?  Or hell, just helped you have a better knowledge of human sexual anatomy?  Has any of this helped you to be a better member of your community?  Have you perhaps learned information that you then shared with others about safer sex and STI prevention? Then please take the time to write a letter.

I'm collecting the letters and will send them off to Megan and she will decide what to bring to the City Council.  Because these letters are going to a government body, they will receive more credence if you are able to include your name, address and phone number.  However, anonymous letters will be accepted as well.

please send them to jacq@sugartheshop.com

And please forward this link as widely as possible.  All of us who believe in sex positivity gotta stick together!  It's the only way we can create a world where each of us can celebrate their own sexuality with shameless joy.

BTW - if you happen to be in Rhode Island this upcoming weekend, check out their grand opening celebration - not at the actual center because of the zoning crap.  But it sounds fabulous!  I wish I could go!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Um - why? And - it's kinda brilliant

So there's this company that I didn't know about that makes stripper clothes for boys.  Fucking fabulous.  And they just released this.

Yep, it's a one legged thong (called the Cobra).  Because the two legged version was getting in the way?  It does leave better ass access....

More importantly - they also have this sassy little leather look glove shrug.  Which would look adorable with a boi beater, mini skirt and boots.  think it would fit a six foot tall girl with non-muscly arms?  it doesn't have to come with that full face hood thing.  full face hoods are on my no list.

thanks to Fleshbot!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Check out Carol Queen's new article at Good Vibes

Check out Carol Queen's new article at Carnal Nation.  It's a fabulous update on the awesome things she got to do recently - which include attending Betty Dodson's 80th birthday.  I'm including a pic from the article here - seriously - if this isn't a testament to embracing pleasure, masturbation and celebrating sexuality - i don't what is.  Fuck botox!  Go jack off!

AND - then she got to go to Annie Sprinkle's latest wedding.  In Venice.  During the Venice Bienniale.

Damn.  That's a good month!

**Pic from here

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Jon and Kate - finally a good use!

So - Devil's Films is releasing a new movie.

It's called Jon and Kate F**k Eight.

Jon and Kate go for marriage counseling, and decide to save their marriage by seeing other people.

Now if only this was actually reality things might have worked out better. Gotta say this is the best Gosslin drama yet. I'd much rather watch porn than that reality show...