About two years ago, when I was staying with my then-boyfriend in Brooklyn, I hopped on his computer for some crucial online endeavor, like consulting photos of perfectly-poached eggs, and was greeted by several open browser windows, the most memorable of which was a shot of a redhead’s ass that I swear you would need pliers to capture. After staring at the screen for a moment and noting the names of the clips in particular (involving lots of prepositions and body parts), I clicked the windows closed, because I felt like I was — and I was — intruding on his privacy.
I mentioned it to him in a jokey sort of way, ribbing him for his proclivity for particular orifices or scenarios, and so forth. In my mind, having indulged in porn myself on occasion, this was an attempt, albeit an awkward one, to open a dialogue. But in the following months, I noticed him furtively taking his, or on occasion my, laptop into other rooms, and returning with a wiped-clean browser history. The thing was, I wasn’t angry at him for watching porn — I was hurt that I was excluded from that part of his life. But in hindsight (and not just the kind that I experienced intimately with the redhead), I see that we allowed embarrassment in an interest in porn (on his part) and the threat that it represented (on my part) to drive a wedge of secrecy and shame in our relationship.
My experience is so common that there are innumerable articles online along the lines of “How to talk to your partner about porn.” Unfortunately, the tenor of many of them is more geared toward how to stop your (usually male) partner from looking at porn. This reminds me of abstinence-only sex education. We humans are unfortunately largely powered by our baser instincts, and while we can control them to a degree, I find that as a woman seeking love in a heterosexual context, this approach is — at best — unrealistic. More likely, it’s counter-productive, leading to lies, deceit and bafflement regarding your boyfriend’s newfound interest in showering with his laptop.
Now, some of you ladies may be saying: “But I love porn! Don’t perpetuate the notion that women are pearl-clutching prudes with suffocatingly narrow conceptions of healthy sexuality!” To that I say, keep calm and carry on. Vivid Entertainment thanks you. But it’s more complicated than that, isn’t it? We have the vast capacity to both love and fear things, to be both titillated and disgusted, to be excited and threatened, angry and liberated and so forth. Human sexuality is complex. And porn is a facet of it that still incites ambiguity in me — I don’t have it all figured out. So, in the spirit of exploration, I’ve decided to share some strategies that I learned from that relationship for how to find peace in the T&A-laden world in which we now live.
1. Face reality: The worldwide Internet porn industry is worth about five billion dollars. Despite our Puritanical beginnings, America is the #1 producer and consumer of pornography. There are 40 million regular consumers of porn in America. While porn site visitors are largely male, about 1 in 3 visitors are female. I offer these numbers because it’s worth acknowledging that porn has become endemic in America. And further, the people who consume porn aren’t fringe perverts, they are our friends and neighbors and colleagues and children and lovers (and ourselves!). The industry, like any, exists to make money, not to poison our relationships or warp our husbands. Vilifying the consumers of it, especially those with whom you share a bed, doesn’t help, and while some types of porn (child pornography certainly) are despicable and criminal, if we treat this whole sector of our society less like a monster under the bed, it seems to me it might become less scary.
2. Do a self-inventory. Ask yourself, “Did those stats freak me out?” Are you horrified and disgusted? If so, figure out why. Does it have to do with a conservative religious upbringing, memories of childhood sexual abuse or a more innocuous, but nonetheless disturbing, encounter with porn in the context of a relationship (like mine)? Is it the prevalence of smut itself that bothers you, or does it conjure up bad feelings because of history? Maybe you can find a way to separate the thing itself from the association. In other words, to understand pornography in a different context: as a pleasure in which some people indulge, sometimes to excess (like alcohol or chocolate), but not a necessarily evil one. Consider this in terms of your partner’s attitude toward porn, and if you don’t know what that is, ask him or her.
3. Figure out what kind of relationship you can comfortably have with porn. We’ve established that porn is part of our society, whether we want it to be or not. But simply because it exists does not dictate how you, in or out of a relationship, must relate to it. I have realized that I can only be comfortable with porn-watching (on my partner’s part or mine) if it isn’t a secret — if we can laugh about it, reference it or maybe watch it together occasionally. That is me. If it has been a malignant force in your life: your ex was addicted to porn, you had a harrowing experience in the industry and so forth, then be true to that experience. You can be open and frank with current or potential romantic partners that for you, there isn’t a place for strange (online) bedfellows in a healthy relationship. There is a way to express this without judgment or condemnation. Maybe you are curious about your own and your partner’s fantasies and desires as expressed via porn. Talk about it. In my experience, conversation is the best foreplay. And finally, do you have a potential porn addiction that is complicating your relationship? Be honest with yourself. As this becomes a more commonly acknowledged problem, like alcoholism, it begins to lose its stigma. Like any addiction, sexual addiction can gnaw away at trust and eventually erode a relationship. If you love someone, don’t allow fear or shame to prevent you from getting help: a computer screen is no substitute for a human being.
4. Take action. After taking a candid look at himself and his relationship, a male friend of mine made the choice to eschew all porn — and he’s said his sex life with his girlfriend has gotten exponentially better. I have found that this is often true, in the way that eating Taco Bell before a lobster dinner may spoil things (and yes, in this analogy I am a lobster). There may be a time for both, but acknowledge if you are choosing one over the other. If the idea (of porn, not Taco Bell) doesn’t turn your stomach, consider if there is a place for porn to enhance your relationship. Just as you would try out new recipes, explore new museums or movies, exploring sexually is an avenue to better engage and understand your partner. Maybe it could open up a window in your sex life to something interesting. And if that doesn’t happen, you probably at least could share a laugh at oh-my-God-Becky-did-she-really-put-that-THERE?
You don’t have to play a passive role, allowing it to act on you, whether that is through a fear of it or obsession with it, or more likely, some middle ground. Do you and your partner honestly feel that the sex industry is leading to the breakdown of the family unit and turning teenagers into sex-crazed maniacs? Then by all means, do something! You can better educate yourself in terms of sectors of the sex industry that are worth crusading against. Unicef and other organizations offer ways to join the fight to stop sexual violence against children. Likewise, If you are or your partner in the throes of a porn addiction, you can get help. Most importantly, talk. While we have evolved toward a much more open discourse about our STD status, our drug and alcohol habits, our relationship with food, our issues with family, even our most intimate health problems, porn somehow remains taboo. It is one of the last vestiges of shame in our society, and shame is a powerful weapon against fruitful dialogue and healthy relationship growth.
5. Acknowledge the fantasy. At the end of the day, the porn industry is one built on human fantasy. Besides the secrecy, part of what upset me about what I saw on my ex-boyfriend’s computer was that he was indulging in fantasies I didn’t feel prepared to or capable of making reality, for various reasons. When our partners seek out pornography featuring people of different ages, builds, races, genders (OK, that one’s a little more complicated), and so forth, than our own, we are threatened because we cannot provide that experience. But studies and experts argue that superficial qualities are not ultimately what motivate us in selecting a partner. In short, our partners don’t choose us for our superhuman endowment or sexual endurance; they choose us for our intelligence, our humor, our generosity – our spirit. Human desire is far-reaching, and none of us — not Jenna Jameson or anyone else — can satisfy every single one of our partner’s desires. Just as we cannot be a wife, mother, psychologist and teacher to one person, we also cannot be his (or her) naughty French nurse, Japanese schoolgirl, ravenous MILF, bisexual blonde twins, etc. Well, maybe with brilliant costuming and an admirable imagination. But in short, we are human and should not feel inadequate for human limitations. Porn actors are paid to play at being superhuman, and they have a team of makeup artists, lighting experts, directors and so forth to keep up that fantasy. Of course, there are amateur films too, and in my experience, they reflect much of the physical flaws and bodily awkwardness that goes into real sex. Regardless, acknowledging that pornography is an outlet to indulge fantasy, and isn’t a criticism of the viewer’s reality (“Joan’s a great mother and all, but I think I’d be happier with this hairless sadomasochist in a body stocking”), can help you find solace in your physical limitations. And couldn’t it be a positive thing that we can explore fantasies in this way, without real-life repercussions of trying them out?
Now, as it turned out in my relationship, we had bigger problems than the Brazilian Barely-Legal Slut Sleepover. But it did teach me a few things about how to traverse confusing sexual territory: with sensitivity and nuance. Porn can have a polarizing effect, and has at its worst has made me question the possibility of finding a faithful partner in this age and at its best offered an entertaining Tuesday afternoon. Both of those feelings are legitimate. I can both be grateful to live in a country where women are free to express their sexuality in nearly any capacity they choose, but I also can call shenanigans on the charlatans who call self-exploitation new-wave feminism. I can be turned on by a sex scene and also consider the problematic message it sends about female objectification. There is room for ambiguity. I find that treating one’s body with care, respecting its abilities and limitations and being open with your partner when it comes to discussing sexual appetites all lead to a general sense of peace with one’s sexuality. A healthy relationship with porn mimics other facets of a healthy relationship: honest dialogue, a sense of humor and an open mind. Just don’t let it become bigger (Hotter! Longer! Faster!) than it is. The monster under the bed isn’t so scary when you invite him up for a chat.
Move aside, Oprah.
Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is giving the American people exactly what they’ve always wanted: the Sarah Palin Channel.
Palin announced her new project via Facebook on Sunday:
The site will feature political commentary, interviews, user-contributed content and updates from the Palin household.
“Together, we’ll go beyond the sound bites and cut through the media’s politically correct filter and things like Washington, D.C.’s crony capitalism,” Palin promises in the launch video. “We’ll talk about the issues that the mainstream media won’t talk about and we’ll look at the ideas that I think Washington doesn’t want you to hear.”
The channel’s home page features a national debt ticker, and a countdown clock to President Barack Obama’s last day in office.
The New York Times’ call to legalize marijuana in the United States is undoubtedly a landmark moment for the paper and for the continuing debate around the issue. So it’s not surprising that the Gray Lady is giving the editorial, and the series accompanying it, the kind of star billing normally reserved for its splashiest news stories.
The Times is marketing the series very aggressively—possibly more aggressively than any other op-ed package. Reporters were sent a press release trumpeting the news, and the actual editorial featured the kind of visual flair and digital tricks—in this case, an American flag whose stars change to marijuana plants as you scroll down the page—typically given to lengthy news features.
The Times has been somewhat cheeky with its rollout; its series can be found at nytimes.com/HighTime, and editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal will be hosting a Facebook chat on Monday at the very appropriate hour of 4:20 PM.
Writing on his blog on Saturday, Rosenthal described how the series took shape.
“At editorial board meetings we discussed how to proceed (none of us thought the status quo was viable),” he wrote.
“The need to speak out became clear. With the support of our publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, the editorial writers mapped out the series we started today. A team of web editors and designers created a special design for the Times website, as well as charts and graphs, videos and interactive features.”
In an email to Politico’s Mike Allen, Rosenthal said that most of the conversations that took place centered around “whether it was time for the Times (meaning the editorial page) to make this kind of statement and how to do it.”
In a departure from normal practice, many of the editorials in the series are signed by individual editorial board members. In the press release, Rosenthal wrote that this was intended to bring a “more personal approach” to this highly personal issue. “We will continue to experiment in the future on different ways to use the power of the unsigned editorial, along with new and different ways to signal the author of other editorial articles,” he added.
Bill Maher Slams The Right’s Unwavering Faith In The Free Market: ‘Big Business IS The New Big Government’
Bill Maher closed this week’s “Real Time” by poking a stick at the notion that the free market is always right. Pointing out the hypocrisy of the right’s adherence to that belief, he insisted, “Big business is the new big government. It is the massive, unwieldy bureaucracy that just doesn’t work.”
Using the lack of real costumer service in big business as a jumping off point, Maher explained that the absence of choice due to any real government pushback on mergers has left our economy at the whim of people whose policy is to annoy you out of your money.
“That’s the problem with the free market today, it’s not free or much of a market,” Maher noted. Watch the full clip above and let us know if you agree.
Oh, and here’s a GIF of Neil deGrasse Tyson giggling at Maher’s masturbation joke during the segment (you’re welcome).
Wikipedia has instituted a 10-day ban on edits from anonymous users from a single House IP address because of “persistent disruptive editing.”
The ban, which began Thursday, is in response to edits such as one that called the news source Mediaite a “sexist transphobic” blog “that automatically assumes that someone is male without any evidence.”
The changes were made after Mediaite wrote about increasingly off-kilter edits from Capitol Hill following the launch of @congressedits, a Twitter account that publicizes anonymous edits from congressional IP addresses.
The article was sparked by reporting from Pando Daily, which looked into a number of recent changes regarding conspiracy theories that were highlighted by @congressedits. For example, the “Moon landing conspiracy theories” page was edited from a House IP address to say it was “promoted by the Cuban government.”
“That same IP address recently edited the page dedicated to Diana Princess of Wales (adding in her reputation as a markswoman), COINTELPRO (removing the claim that the FBI acted illegally) and Bohemian Grove (adding the single word ‘allegedly’),” Pando Daily reported.
The user talk page for the banned House IP address now includes a lengthy back-and-forth between would-be editors and Wikipedia administrators.
“Out of over 9000 staffers in the House, should we really be banning this whole IP range based on the actions of two or three?” one person asks, to which an administrator noted that users who sign in to their own Wikipedia account are still able to make edits from the House IP address during the ban.
Later in the thread, someone expresses anger that members of Congress would be playing on Wikipedia, to which another user says the edits are likely being made by staffers. However, there’s no way to know for sure.
Christian Grey — eh, yeah he’s easy on the eyes. But we’re in such a deep, all-consuming love affair with our charming furry companions below that we hardly noticed that the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trailer dropped Thursday.
We give you our true obsession — Fifty Shades Of Grey adorable animals.
The founder of a popular YouTube channel about college partying told a reporter Wednesday to prepare her anus and suggested his followers try to get her fired.
The Twitter handle for “I’m Shmacked,” a channel that posts videos of college students partying and has been known to spur campus riots, took offense at a story by Business Insider reporter Caroline Moss.
Moss’ article had nothing to do with I’m Shmacked. It was about how one random guy named Chris Scott made a joke on Twitter that was retweeted by a popular comedian, causing the tweet to go viral and get copied by others on Twitter.
After Business Insider published the article, according to Jezebel, Moss found that @ImShmacked had copied the joke without crediting Scott. She tweeted her story at the the @ImShmacked handle.
— Caroline Moss (@socarolinesays) July 23, 2014
I’m Shmacked responded with crudity, threatening Moss with petitions to fire and deport her, and saying she was “prepping her anus” for an assault. I’m Shmacked went on to say he would visit Business Insider’s office, where he claimed he and his father “know” people:
Lindsey Adler, a staffer at Vice, stuck up for Moss:
— Lindsey Adler (@Lahlahlindsey) July 23, 2014
In now-deleted tweets, I’m Shmacked founder Arya Toufanian threatened legal action against Adler, Moss, Vice and Business Insider for getting people to report his Twitter accounts. (Screenshot per Jezebel)
Moss told The Huffington Post she hadn’t received any communication from Toufanian outside of Twitter. Toufanian did not respond to a request for comment.
Only this and a couple other tweets are left on I’m Shmacked’s Twitter feed:
No one should threatening those reporters.
That is 100% not funny.
Do NOT threaten or harass them.
— I’m Shmacked (@ImShmacked) July 23, 2014
Adler and Moss showed no signs they were worried about Toufanian’s threats:
— Caroline Moss (@socarolinesays) July 23, 2014
While the viral video hit can be golden for brands, it can’t be done consistently and it’s “not a sustainable business model” says Mitchell Reichgut, CEO and founder of the Jun Group, a digital video ad services firm that secures views for branded content on hundreds of publisher sites. Viral is great, but paid is an essential component, as it is for all advertising, he says.
This will be among the topic discuss at the July 23 Beet.TV leadership summit on titled “The Rise of Branded Video: Who’s Watching and Why.” The Jun Group is sponsoring the event.
We are not streaming live, but will produce many segments over the days and weeks ahead. so please stay tuned.
Ben Dietz, SVP, Head of Sales, VICE Media
Rori DuBoff, Head of Global Strategy, Havas Media
Jason Krebs, Head of Sales, Maker Studios
David Lang, Chief Content Officer and President of Mindshare Entertainment
Abby Marks, Director of Strategy & Operations, Ogilvy Entertainment
Mark Marvel, Director of Video and Mobile Sales Strategy, TIME.com
Sarah Power, Chief Strategy Officer, Initiative (IPG)
Mitchell Reichtgut, CEO, Jun Group
Pete Stein, Global CEO, Razorfish
Eric Weisberg, Executive Creative Director, JWT
Moderated by Ashley Swartz, Furious Minds, and Paul Kontonis, Collective Studio
You can find this post on Beet.TV.
Content marketers are incredibly uncertain about how they’re measuring the success of their content.
That’s the most striking takeaway from our new Contently research report, “A Crisis of Confidence: The State of Content Marketing Measurement.”
The content measurement debate has built to a crescendo so far in 2014, as content marketers have been increasingly challenged to tie their efforts to true business results. In April and early May 2014, Contently surveyed 302 marketers split evenly across B2B and B2C businesses about their content goals and measurement practices and unearthed some key findings:
- 90 percent of marketers expressed uncertainty that their key content metrics are effective in measuring business results.
- 73 percent of marketers identified Brand Awareness as a goal of their content.
- 69 percent of marketers said that they were using pageviews or unique visitors to measure the success of their content, while less than half are examining time on site. Yet, 50 percent of respondents expressed a desire to be able to measure how much real attention people are paying to their content.
- 7 percent of respondents are not measuring the success of their content in any way.
[This piece was co-written with Abba A. Solomon, the author of The Speech, and Its Context: Jacob Blaustein's Speech "The Meaning of Palestine Partition to American Jews."]
Over the weekend, the New York Times sent out a clear signal: the mass slaughter of civilians is acceptable when the Israeli military is doing the killing.
Under the headline “Israel’s War in Gaza,” the most powerful newspaper in the United States editorialized that such carnage is necessary. The lead editorial in the July 19 edition flashed a bright green light — reassuring the U.S. and Israeli governments that the horrors being inflicted in Gaza were not too horrible.
From its first words, the editorial methodically set out to justify what Israel was doing.
“After 10 days of aerial bombardment,” the editorial began, “Israel sent tanks and ground troops into Gaza to keep Hamas from pummeling Israeli cities with rockets and carrying out terrorist attacks via underground tunnels.”
The choice of when to date the start of the crisis was part of the methodical detour around inconvenient facts.
For instance, no mention of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s June 30 announcement that the “human animals” of Hamas would “pay” after three Israeli teenagers kidnapped in Israeli-controlled territory in the West Bank were found dead. No mention of the absence of evidence that Hamas leadership was involved in those murders.
Likewise, absent from the editorializing sequence was Israel’s June “crackdown” in the West Bank, with home raids, area closures, imprisonment of hundreds of Hamas party activists including legislators.
Most of all, the vile core of the Times editorial was its devaluation of Palestinian lives in sharp contrast to Israeli lives.
The Times editorial declared that Hamas leaders “deserve condemnation” for military actions from civilian areas in the dense Gaza enclave — but Netanyahu merited mere expressions of “concern” about “further escalation.” Absent from the editorial was any criticism of Israel’s ongoing bombardment of homes, apartment blocks, hospitals, beaches and other civilian areas with U.S.-supplied ordinance.
At the time, there had been one Israeli death from the hostilities — and at least 260 deaths among Gazans as well as injuries in the thousands. The contrast illuminates a grotesque difference in the Times‘ willingness to truly value the humanity of Israelis and Palestinians.
In the morally skewed universe that the Times editorial board evidently inhabits and eagerly promulgates, Hamas intends to “terrorize” Israeli citizens while Israel merely intends to accomplish military objectives by dropping thousands of tons of bombs on Palestinian people in Gaza.
A keynote of the editorial came when it proclaimed: “There was no way Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was going to tolerate the Hamas bombardments, which are indiscriminately lobbed at Israeli population centers. Nor should he.”
While sprinkling in a handwringing couple of phrases about dead and wounded civilians, the editorial had nothing to say in condemnation of the Israeli force killing and maiming them in large numbers.
Between the lines was a tacit message to Israel: Kill more. It’s OK. Kill more.
And to Israel’s patrons in Washington: Stand behind Israel’s mass killing in Gaza. Under the unfortunate circumstances, it’s needed.
When the editorial came off the press, the Israeli military was just getting started. And no doubt Israeli leaders, from Netanyahu on down, were heartened by the good war-making seal of approval from the New York Times.
After all, the most influential media voice in the United States — where the government is the main backer of Israel’s power — was proclaiming that the mass killing by the Israeli military was regrettable but not objectionable.
The night after the Times editorial went to press, the killing escalated. Among the calamities: the Israeli military shelled the Gaza neighborhood of Shejaiya throughout the night with nonstop tank fire that allowed no emergency services to approach. Eyewitness media reports from Shejaiya recounted scenes of “absolute devastation” with bodies strewn in the streets and the ruins.
Two days after the editorial reached Times newsprint, over 150 more were counted dead in Gaza. No media enabler was more culpable than the editorializing voice of the Times, which had egged on the Israeli assault at the end of a week that began with the United Nations reporting 80 percent of the dead in Gaza were civilians.
The Times editorial was in step with President Obama, who said — apparently without intended irony — that “no country can accept rockets fired indiscriminately at citizens.” Later, matching Israeli rationales for a ground invasion, the president amended his verbiage by saying: “No nation should accept rockets being fired into its borders or terrorists tunneling into its territory.”
An important caveat can be found in the phrases “no country” and “no nation.” The stateless people who live in Gaza – 70 percent of whom are from families expelled from what’s now southern Israel – are a very different matter.
By the lights of the Oval Office and the New York Times editorial boardroom, lofty rhetoric aside, the proper role of Palestinian people is to be slaughtered into submission.