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Not Your Ex/Rotic

Is the sex-positive world really as diverse as it claims to be?
by Creatrix Tiara on 16 February 2011

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Transcript of Not Your Ex/Rotic

(not your) bollywood princess Not Your Ex/Rotic Diversity & Norms in Sex-Positive Performance a.k.a. "Where are the people that look like me?" Definition of sex-positive performance: Peformances & creative work that represent and celebrate human sexuality e.g. burlesque, queer performance art, erotic modelling, alt porn Why them? generally greater expectations & promises of diversity ""Sex-positive" respects each of our unique sexual profiles, even as we acknowledge that some of us have been damaged by a culture that tries to eradicate sexual difference and possibility."
- Dr Carol Queen, Real Live Nude Girl "Generally the definitions [of sex-positivity] seem to include the themes of acceptance of diversity and a broad understanding of sex as a biological and cultural aspect of humankind."
- Emily Nagoski "Simply put, diversity -- whether in body types, ethnicity, sexual persuasion or gender identity -- finds a home here."
- Tanya Enberg, Feminism & Porn (Edmonton Sun) my personal journey has been...
mixed. - grew up in a country & culture that
never talked about sex
- considered immoral, decadent, not
worthy of time
- lots of mixed messages
- considered myself asexual:
"too messy & dangerous" it wasn't until I came to Australia
& had my first relationship
that I found an interest in sexuality
- and a safer space to explore it. but still...
issues of belonging
& identity was it a problem of acceptance
or a problem of safe space? acceptance even the "alternative" has their norms websites claim "we take in all races, looks, body sizes..."
but overwhelmingly white & skinny vague requirements
- "attractive"
- "healthy"
whose standards? some websites require viewer voting or feedback
- self-perpetuating norms "Why do you want to be on an ALT-porn site if you don't have tattoos/piercings/coloured hair? It kind of irritates me to see unmoded girls on alt-porn site."
- Comment on SuicideGirls LJ fan comm 5/1/2008 "...in terms of porn, which is what we're talking about here, then alternative is generally defined as women with mods, or strange hair, etc; women who the mainstream magazines and sites wouldn't touch."
- Another comment on same LJ fan comm what if your look will NEVER be mainstream? flickr: Hari_Menon flickr: rajkumar1220

flickr: Rita Willaert suicide girls broken dollz geekgirlsonline not just alt porn...burlesque too often more interesting visually,
but still has its popular aesthetics flickr: stevendepolo pegasus news poleteaze representations of other races often exoticised or made to fit in "if you're not into corsets then
get out of burlesque"
- said to me by another burlesque performer "[the collective audience wants to see Hollywood type beauty of the 1940’s/50’s. A performer can be Black, Asian, Hispanic, or White, but any performer will notice that as she molds her looks towards those 40’s & 50’s archetypes, she will become more succesful."
- Bobby Hogg, burlesque enthusiast http://www.racialicious.com/2010/03/03/who%E2%80%99s-a-pretty-burlesque-princess-now/ interestingly, sites with a "natural" aesthetic tend to actually be MORE racially diverse abbywinters ishotmyself hegre-art though there are still some expectations:
- "height/weight proportionate"
- "happy and healthy"
- "girls our members want to fuck" queer scene can be more diverse (esp w performance art) - often as response to lack of diversity elsewhere mangos with chili http://enagoski.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/sex-positive/ http://www.edmontonsun.com/life/sexfiles/2009/05/07/9380296-sun.html "But there was this lie in the whole thing, and the lie was told by blog after blog, webpage after webpage that talked a great game about how we can be open about sex, but seemed to equate sex with the nude bodies of thin, conventionally attractive, blonde white women in male-gaze centric pornography, as though if I really pushed myself to enjoy such titles as Biker Bitches 5 and clinically lit photo shoots of a woman with her legs in improbably acrobatic positions, I’d be making the world a better place.
Because that’s what the world needed: more people to applaud the open display of sculpted bodies as though somehow, that would liberate my fat, pansexual ass from the confines of sexual oppression."
- Meg Freeman, Sex Positivity is a Sham (The Scavenger) http://www.thescavenger.net/feminism-a-pop-culture/sex-positivity-is-a-sham-34867.html "[I]t becomes apparent that the problem with the pro-sexuality position is not that it revalues disparaged sexual identities and styles, but that it stops there."
- Elisa Glick, Sex-Positive http://community.livejournal.com/sgirls/511248.html kay ulanday barrett divine yalinidream whenever i wear this dress,
people feel the need to
compliment me on how
"exotic" or "ethnic" I look.
one person told me she was
"proud of me" for "celebrating
my culture and heritage". this dress was $20
at st vinnies. but outside of hubs like SF and NY, there are still unwritten rules on coding queer or counting as "attractive" amongst queer people autostraddle "For Rai, the moment that LOCA decided to do a cabaret, she decided that she would strip. “Being an extraordinarily hairy woman is confronting for a lot of people, who maybe are after something a bit sexy and just find themselves confronted with lady gorilla. Lia had a very cool description of me wearing my lovely lace g-string,” Rai recounts, then pauses, as Lia jumps in “Its like a g-string over a beard”"
- Lian Low, Watch out for LOCA - they can incite a riot! (Peril Mag) http://www.peril.com.au/edition8/watch-out-for-loca-they-can-incite-a-riot "[O]ne of the things that I find even more objectionable about sites like the Suicide Girls is that they've dressed up porn in the language of rebellion and female empowerment. In a sense, this is where I find the likes of Larry Flynt (publisher of Hustler) to be less offensive than men like Sean Suhl of Suicide Girls. Flynt doesn't pretend he's empowering his models; he embraces raunch with a bracingly candid enthusiasm that even his detractors often find to be -- almost -- winsome. Fellas like Suhl are out to make money off women's bodies in much the same way Flynt is, but in Suhl's case, greed seems hidden behind the rhetoric of edginess, alternative culture, and a rather shallow feminism."
- Hugo Schwyzer, Reflections on the suicide girls and feminism http://hugoboy.typepad.com/hugo_schwyzer/2005/09/so_i_had_this_g.html "[O]ne major way in which Suicide Girls are not that different from their Playboy counterparts is that despite their tattoos, hair coloring, and creative piercings, they fall neatly within the confines of mainstream beauty standards. Imagine giving the varsity cheerleading squad makeovers at Hot Topic, and you wouldn’t be too far off. Most of the models here (and on other indie-porn sites, too) are thin, white, and traditionally beautiful. Fat girls—hell, even average plump girls—aren’t Suicide Girls, and with only a couple of exceptions, neither are girls of color. It’s not that punk and indie scenes are devoid of these women, so their apparent exclusion from the site suggests that Suicide Girls and others aren’t seeing the alternatives in “alternative.” There’s a certain kind of hypocrisy in a site that pats itself on the back for being “different,” yet seems to equate that only with being different from others featuring blond Pamela Anderson manquŽs, a fact that Spooky himself admits in a recent issue of Punk Planet: “There is an idea of beauty that is just Western media, and it permeates how we choose girls as well. And that’s where we may be failing.”"
- Annie Tomlin, Sex, Dreads, and Rock & Roll (Bitch) http://bitchmagazine.org/article/suicide-girls "[W]ithin the first month, I felt there was a major problem in the feminist equation of the Lusty Lady—out of 70 dancers only 10 were women of color, and of these, only 3 were Black. I noticed this while I was on stage; there was usually only one woman of color and four White women.
If a Black dancer was performing, White (and some Asian) customers often would leave the window and move to one where a White woman was standing, sometimes talking with other White dancers, and ignoring the customer all together. In an extreme case, a White man wanted his $5 back after placing it in the bill collector, and the window revealed a dark-skinned, curvy Black woman."
- Siobhan Brooks, Unequal Desires "Mangos with Chili is unique in being multi-racial, multi-genre, and multi-gender – we consciously curate artists whose genders span the gamut from transwoman to Two Spirit to femme to trans fag to gender non-conforming to non-trans queer men. We create community, build bridges, and foster cross-cultural dialogue by presenting breathtaking shows featuring queer and trans of color artists creating cutting-edge, high-caliber work to audiences and communities whose stories are not always represented onstage. Sharing much-needed and little heard queer and trans of color stories brings queer and trans people of color out from isolation, helping QTPOC build networks of community, support, resources and survival."
- Mangos with Chili: About http://mangoswithchili.wordpress.com/about/ "What size people are becomes a part of the [aesthetic thing] because if you're in a room filled with really small white women and you're wearing like a tank top and a skirt and your belly's like ... you're gonna totally stick out, especially if you're black."
- Xan, in Looking Queer by Dawn Atkins "[W]hen we appeal to some notion of an unmodified or undecorated body, we participate in the adoption of a false neutrality. We pretend, in those moments, that there is a natural body or fashion, a way of dressing or wearing yourself that is not a product of culture. Norms always masquerade as non-choices, and when we suggest that for example, resisting sexism means everyone should look androgynous, or resisting racism means no one should modify the texture of their hair, we foreclose people’s abilities to expose the workings of fucked up systems on their bodies as they see fit."
- Dean Spade, Dress to Kill, Fight to Win (LTTR) http://www.lttr.org/journal/1/dress-to-kill-fight-to-win elles.tumblr.com though not to worry! there will be lists dedicated to your particular minority: autostraddle afterellen integration or segregation? tribute or token? it can be hard to feel like you don't belong... Ways in which my {queer} identity has been questioned:
- Being asked at a queer women's party "What are you doing here?" - just because I have a boyfriend
- Being told that I write like "a straight woman"
- Submitting an article on the intersections of sexuality, race, and desire to an anthology on people's experiences of gender & sexuality - only to be asked to "remove all the political aspects"

As Margaret Cho said in AfterEllen:
"[T]o me it goes hand in hand because my identity is so rooted in my activism. Y’know, I’m queer, I’m a woman of color, I’m very progressive politically. And this is about my work ... it’s something I always knew I would do. It’s just inherent to who I am." http://www.afterellen.com/people/2010/11/margaret-cho-talks-girl-crushes-her-open-marriage-and-being-a-queer-woman-of-color especially when your "home" has no room for you when just being sexual is taboo safe space many have commented on the lack of & need for diverse representation: "Inspiration for [Tight Places: A Drop of Color] came from wanting to 1) have more porn out there for young adults to have an option to identify with and 2) to make an honest and intentional effort to portray Persons of Color (POC) as Powerful Beings that happen to be sexual."
- Nenna, NennaPresents "If we don't take the power of creating images that represent us, we will continually be held subject to the assumptions and stereotypes that others create on our behalf."
- Syd Blacovich yet some people have suffered dire consequences for trying: tiara lestar first indonesian model to
be on cover of playboy (spain) "This decision certainly wasn't popular in my own country. Heck, it was a huge disappointment for my parents too. I regret that part of it. For that, I am sorry. For my parents who I love very much and for them alone, I have made another personal decision to not pursue that line of work anymore." http://www.asiansexgazette.com/asg/southeast_asia/southeast07news04.htm "There is power in creating images, and for a woman of color and a queer to take that power, I don’t find it exploitative – I think it’s necessary."
- Shine Louise Houston, Pink & White http://pinkwhite.biz/PWWP/about/ http://magazine.goodvibes.com/2010/05/24/tight-places-a-drop-of-color/ http://www.hyphenmagazine.com/magazine/issue-13-hybrid/changing-color-porn sahara knite uk's first (possibly only) muslim porn model "Initially, I didn’t tell my parents about my work. One day, my cousin was watching Babestation, the soft porn channel in the UK, and happened to see me. His wife informed my parents. Today, my mother and brother don’t talk to me. My father calls up once a month to find out if I’m okay." http://www.streethop.com/forum/our-block/43327-islamic-stripper-2.html#post589267 sufiah yusof / shilpa lee former malaysian child prodigy who went into escorting in the uk after news broke of her escorting career, Brit-Malaysian Muslim organisation PISANG (Professional Islamic Support and Nurture Group) allegedly "rescued" her for life as a social worker, claiming she was under "sihir" (black magic). http://themalaysianlife.blogspot.com/2008/08/sufiah-yusof-gets-help-from-pisang.html from desigirls!: priyanka & 'a' show two very different ways of coping as queer south asians my distant relatives found this photo of me on facebook & told my parents I was doing porn. this, plus the discovery of my burlesque videos, led to over a month of daily phonecalls about my "dignity", respecting "my culture", and the danger I placed upon my parents.
it was over a year before my parents decided to "resign themselves to their fate" and not bother me about my artistic work anymore.
I have kept my relatives at arms' length as a result. http://artthreat.net/2010/12/in-bengali-theres-no-word-for-gay/ and sometimes it can get quite absurd...! Malay teen couples becoming apostates by declaring themselves Chinese or Christian before committing sins at cheap motels! Wild lesbian fests all the rage amongst Malay girls! Gamblers and sex addicts can get their fix on luxury cruise ships for as low as RM60! all actual headlines from Malaysian tabloid Harian Metro - which the Malaysian Government takes seriously. Common Malaysian misconceptions around sex:
- Condom distribution leads to promiscuity and spread of STIs (and, according to a blood disease organisation, low donor numbers)
- Homosexuality is rejected by every culture and religion on Earth
- Only those who have been abused, addicted to substances, or are cursed by black magic would go into sex work (just being openly sexual makes you the same as a sex worker)
- all tomboyish women are lesbians and all gay men are effeminate / trans women
- there is only gay and straight, nothing else homosexuality is still illegal in many parts of the world - or at least not worthy of acknowledgement. some, though, are luckier than others: "I was so happy when I got acceptance from my father. Coming out to him in the past had proved difficult for me. For many of us, coming out about so many things that are different than the "norm" or what our parents hope/expect for us is a challenge. I'm fortunate to have an open-minded family (a lot of us are artists) who care about me and love me enough to accept me. Whether one comes out as gay, poly, kinky, a sex worker, as an artist, etc... it's always the best feeling in the world to feel accepted.  "
- in interview with me jiz lee sunny leone "I grew up going to temple every Sunday. When my parents found out they knew my personality which was very independent. Even if they tried to stop me or tried to steer me the right way they would have lost their daughter. I’m too headstrong. And it wasn’t a plan. It just happened and my career and everything just kept getting bigger and bigger." http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/dailyloaf/2010/08/23/pornstar-sunny-leone-on-thriving-in-the-wild-wild-west-of-the-adult-industry-nsfw/ yuvraaj parasher disowned by family after acting in bollywood's first gay kiss scene "I feel what he has done is against the culture and tradition of our country and it challenges the purity of the relationship between a man and a woman. ... People will make fun of us and we won't be able to live peacefully ever again. ... We are a respected family and I'm appalled that he is playing a gay man's role. We're finished. All the dreams and hopes we had built around him are over. For just a film role, he has lost out on his blood ties. We don't want to see his face ever... not even when we are dying."
- Satish Parasher, Yuvraaj's father http://www.actup.org/forum/content/bollywood-actor-playing-gay-role-india-disowned-his-family-1819/ formula 17 taiwanese gay movie banned in singapore "[Formula 17] creates an illusion of a homosexual utopia, where everyone, including passers-by, are homosexual, and no ills or problems are reflected. It conveys the message that homosexuality is normal and a natural progression of society."
- Singapore Film Appeals Committee http://www.asiansexgazette.com/asg/southeast_asia/southeast01news30.htm not every culture has the language to communicate sexuality - or even want to "[Hijras are mainly this group of men who want to live in a certain way as women. ... In Bengali, there’s no word for gay. So if you say you’re gay, you’re a Hijra. We’ve realized that there are men who are probably just gay or slightly effeminate who are forced into the Hijra culture.”
- Sébastien Rist, co-prodocer, Call Me Salma "A brother would force his butch lesbian sister to perform oral sex in an attempt to “educate her”. A mother would hire a gigolo so that her daughter would know the “pleasure” of men.
The sexologist her mother brought her would grope her, asking whether she felt any excitement. Families would force femme lesbians into marriages the latter did not want.
These examples are the stories that came to the LBT (Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender) advocacy and research organization, the Ardhanary Institute, from women who have been abused because of their sexual orientation. "
- Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post the questions I grapple with along my journey of creative sexytimes will i ever look alternative enough, mainstream enough, erotic enough? how do i balance open honesty with discretion and secrecy? is sex even a major life priority? how do i express my sexuality without putting my family at risk? how do i celebrate my cultural heritage without being stereotyped or exotified? can i just express myself without having to be an ambassador or fight for the rights of others just like me? which is more important - personal freedom or communal unity? do i have to conform to be my true self? where to from here? being sex-positive: your debaucherous fun
is my double life "My vagina isn’t really interested in uplifting the race."
- The Perveted Negress http://www.racialicious.com/2009/07/10/interview-with-the-perverted-negress/ samesame "For Rs. 2100, Dr. Dilbag will send medications that he claims will cure homosexuality with no side effects within 30 days!
Dr.Dilbag’s clinic has a team of “qualified” and “professional” Ayurvedic and Homeopathic doctors, who can cure homosexuality and other sexual problems."
- Gaysi http://gaysifamily.com/2010/12/11/cure-for-just-rs-2100/ "I don’t see nationality as inconsequential, considering an overwhelmingly popular opinion is “Such things (read Queer people) don’t happen Here. We are nice, good, traditional people. It must be happening in all those countries Over There”, clearly identifying being Queer to being UnIndian, as if Sarojini Naidu or Toru Dutt never played on homo-eroticism, ever!
Especially not when speaking of the ‘Nation’ or ‘Nation-Mother’. That must be some Western Bugger’s doing, surely. Being Queer is being Other, walking and ingesting life as the Outsider because Indian society has no space for ‘such things’, if I am to go by the larger nationalist narrative."
- Jaded Sixteen http://www.thescavenger.net/glb/non-white-queer-people-need-new-descriptors-588.html don't wanna be your exotic
like some delicate fragile colorful bird
trapped in a land
foreign to the stretch of her wings
don't wanna be your exotic
women everywhere look just like me
some taller darker nicer than me
but like me
women everywhere
carry my nose on their faces
my name on their spirits
don't seduce yourself with
my otherness
the beat of my lashes against each other
they're not some dark desert beat
it's just a blink - get over it
don't wanna be your exotic
your lovin of my beauty
ain't more than funky fornication
plain pink perversion
in fact nasty necrophilia
cause my beauty is dead to you
I am dead to you
i'm not your
harem girl bollywood princess
new to town fresh off the boat
"where is your accent from?"
belly dancer private dancer
5 dollar pingpong ball happy ending
immaculate vessel
emasculating princess
whore
don't wanna be
not your erotic
not your exotic adaptation from
suheir hammad not your exotic
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