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Musings on politics, erotica, philosophy and whatever else comes to mind
I am a political scientist, a humanist, a feminist and I write erotica - here I share thoughts, considerations and perceptions related to all, interlinked and interwoven, academic or merely thoughtful.
Come talk to me.

If you want to read more, then come and visit me at http://christineblackthorn.eu

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April 29, 2014 at 6:12am
April 29, 2014 at 6:12am
This post is the result of reading too much BDSM erotica and blog posts. Oh, and actually a real life conversation. It is also not a new sentiment - I have said so before. The summary of my point is easy - and really hard: you always have the responsibility of choice. No one can take that from you. No one is allowed to take that from you. You choose to submit and you choose to submit to whomever it is who holds the reigns.

You cannot get around the responsibility to choose - or the right to choose.

Every time you get tied up, every time you get flogged, every time you are punished, every time you serve — you make that choice. It’s a silent choice, you made that choice when you trusted the man or woman you gave your submission to. But it is still a choice. It gives you rights and duties.

You have the right that the other person acts with your best interest in mind — and the duty to do the same. The other is not a mind reader. The other is not perfect. He/She has accepted the responsibility when you play, or in the times you serve Him/Her, but, at the same time, you have the responsibility to talk to Him/Her.

If it is something old or new, somewhere in this there has to be the time, and the courage, to discuss what you do — even do some research together. There will come moments when you are asked to do something you are uncomfortable with, frightens you. There will be moments when you do it anyway because He/She asks you to. That is great — but it is still your choice. And there might be moments in which you are asked to do something, to endure something, you definitely cannot. It is your responsibility to tell the other what you feel and think. That is your duty.

If they then ignore you and harm you, they have not fulfilled their own responsibility. They chose to betray you — and that is never ok.

The choice is always with both of you, just as abuse can go both ways. If as a submissive you do not talk, are not honest, do not take responsibility for your choice, you harm the person who accepted your trust. It is not fair, it is not ok — and no fantasy can get you over that.

You are an adult. You can choose to do what you want, you can choose to submit, you can choose to be hurt and loving it, you can choose to give up control over every decision of your life — safe one decision. You cannot choose not to choose. And you cannot choose not to talk about it with the person you chose to trust for however long you decided to play — a few hours or a lifetime.


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"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to think and express it."

Evelyn Beatrice Hall; Friends of Voltaire
March 26, 2014 at 4:39am
March 26, 2014 at 4:39am
What is erotica? Is it porn for women? Why do many of us feel the need to set ourselves aside as writing erotica romance rather than erotica? Does anyone have an idea?

Well, even before the rise in interest for new adult (or erotica) fiction academics have been contemplating that question - and many more. Over the last four decades an interesting change seems to have happened though. In the 1970s erotica seemed to be simply porn in written form and commentators remark on the fact that the readership is almost exclusively male.

Turn the clock forward to 2014 and suddenly a plethora of sub-genres seem to have developed. Almost every form of fictions has its erotica sub genre - and each of them seem to come with different emphasis. Also, the readership has changed, or at least widened, extensively. Now a significant part, some market research suggest two-thirds, of erotica is read by women. What is even more interesting is that, at the same time, the term erotica is changed subtly - now there are classifications such as romantica or erotic romance.

The result is a miasmic maze of categorisation and groupings which seem to have lost their meaning by sheer confused and confusing variety of options. Worse, the classification also seems to depend on the individual publisher. How often have you chosen a book thinking it would be what you want - being disappointed, not because the story is necessarily bad but because there simply is a huge difference in what is attractive in erotica? Too often for me.

So, following a little research combing through the over four thousand books I have read in the area of erotica, porn and romance (and being shocked by the number I found), I have come up with some personal sorting system. And some thoughts.

So there is erotica (for the lack of a better term I will use this until I sorted them into their groups) which is mainly physical, the style tends to be short in descriptions of emotions or sensations, emphasis on the visual rather than the other senses. The storyline takes a backseat to the sexual interactions. There normally is some form of external conflict (nuder, mayhem, theft, kidnapping ….) but rarely any internal conflict (characters have a crises of faith, wondering if what they are doing is right, fears or complicated histories). In many ways, this is closest to written pornography.

Other erotica stresses the sensual or emotional side of sexual interactions. The writing tends to involved all five senses. Sentences often are longer and narration contains more description. The storyline is more important, though it takes a backseat behind the emotional development of characters to a degree. There is an external conflict - but it is normally just as important, or less so, than the internal conflict of the characters. This is the form of erotica female readers seem to prefer.

And then there is romance - a genre we thought we know well. Based entirely on the romantic interactions, though, let’s be honest the last ten years have definitely shown that hot sex scenes are desired, even common, in that too.

So there seems to be a sliding scale in erotic written expressions - erotica (written porn) on one side and romance on the other, with erotic romance in the middle.

Interesting, a few years ago one might have argued porn on one side, romance on the other and erotica in the middle. Why has that changed? I think it is the confusion driven annoyance of readers, especially female readers, who do want the romance and the explicit sex. Readers are not willing to read either flat stories in which the most exciting interaction is a kiss - or mindless sex anymore. So authors have begun to realise that, to reach that demographic, they still need to add the word romance, but not lose the hot sex. Born was the erotic romance denomination.

There is a strange psychological inhibition women have against the word pornography - we do not want to be caught either reading or writing it. We have been socially conditioned to see it as something bad, something dirty. We feel safe with romance though, even if we know it is stereotypical and brings patronising smiles to the faces of all men around us. So we changed romance into something which has all the titillating aspects of pornography without losing the sensual and emotional side. And without opening ourselves to social criticism. Go us. Next step - kick society in the butt so that our daughters don’t have to hide what they read anymore.


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"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to think and express it."

Evelyn Beatrice Hall; Friends of Voltaire
February 18, 2014 at 7:14am
February 18, 2014 at 7:14am
I have just become aware of a new Russian law which will ban lace underwear (or underwear which has less than 6% cotton) to be sold on its sovereign territory. There is an economic reason, of course, as it forces the Russian populace to forego much of the lace underwear produced in the West as most frivolous underwear sets are made from lower cotton content (at least the affordable ones). I do not deny the economic purpose - but I believe there is a deeper purpose below it which offends my feminist soul.

Beautiful underwear, especially lace underwear, makes us feel powerful. There is something utterly sensuous in putting on lace underwear and knowing it looks good - even more so when you do so under more mundane clothes. No matter what happens that day, no matter how much others will try to put you down, you always have that little bit of confidence, of feeling beautiful with you that day and it insulates you form all the things that are bringing you down. Every time you move, every time you feel it move over your skin you perk up and can face whatever comes your way.

This is what is being taken away from women in Russia with this law. Oh, it is possible to make beautiful underwear with a higher cotton content, it is even possible to buy it — but it is expensive and most of them do not have a few hundred pounds to budget on underwear, no matter how beautiful.

Yes, there is a chance that the future will now bring Russian manufacturers who will produce lace underwear for women with a high cotton content — but for a state to control what its citizens can wear, especially such intimate items as underwear, is a power game, and one aimed at women, self-confident women. The women who wear this underwear are modern women, women who aim high and fight for their place in society. Women confident in their position and sexuality.

Now, they will have to wonder what kind of underwear they are wearing that day before they meet a new date. They will have to think twice if they truly trust their partner before they complain about an everyday issue such as the question of who does the dishes. And they will have to think twice about a one night stand.

Underwear is not simply a way to cover your most intimate parts - it is a way to display and strengthen confidence. And now it is a way to control and threaten.

For more - come here http://christineblackthorn.eu

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"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to think and express it."

Evelyn Beatrice Hall; Friends of Voltaire
February 14, 2014 at 3:32am
February 14, 2014 at 3:32am
I am an academic - unashamedly, by education, profession and inclination. I am also a scholar. Sometimes I feel I am more the second than the first.

What is the difference, you might ask. An academic, from the old French word for academia, is merely a member of an institution for learning. A scholar is a student of learning. In the first the emphasis lies on the steps one has fulfilled to reach the halls of knowledge, the exams passed, the ways of thinking learnt. In the second definition we are seekers of knowledge always aware that we have more to learn, more to discover - and that other people might have found it before us. We are always aware of the “more” there is to find.

I am writing this because there has been a simmering cauldron of annoyance bubbling in me for months, possibly years, and this morning, following an insult a friend suffered, it boiled over. I am tired of being told, by academics and non-academics alike, that I am a member of an exclusive club with a prerogative to knowledge. I am tired of people expecting me to be an arrogant ass with knowledge only on one etherial subject and blinders in all others, and I am tired of the academics who have only knowledge in one subjects and refuse to look to others. I am a scholar.

Scholarship is not learnt behaviour rigidly adhered to in exclusion of all else. The tools we learn in academia are nothing more than tools - and they are not exclusive to us. As long as someone has an open mind, a willingness to rationally and comprehensively consider a topic no matter what the results may mean to him/herself, and is willing to step back and admit ignorance, they are a scholar. It takes a lot more work than being an academic - academia just gives you the time to do it in.

So what is this? It is a plea for scholarship, a plea for non academics and academics alike. It’s a plea for rationality. No matter how you get to knowledge, where you are on your path, beginning or end, the two things you need is the willing to open our minds to others and our own ignorance. And we need the rationality to lose our fear of it.

For more - come here http://christineblackthorn.eu

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"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to think and express it."

Evelyn Beatrice Hall; Friends of Voltaire
January 6, 2014 at 6:26am
January 6, 2014 at 6:26am
Dominance/submission and the perception of safety in society

Christmas for me means, among other things, long nights of discussion with people who, like me, have scattered all over the world only returning “home” for Christmas at the same time. Also, most of us need those nights escaping the family festivities ;)

Anyway, most of these debates tend to centre around politics, philosophy or societal issues - many of them, predictably under a group of friends, also relate to sex. This time, related to the increased research on the radar of any academic on things BDSM, centered around the concepts of Dominance and submission; or rather its predominance in the fantasies of many women.

It might have to be said here that in the group there are some of us who play regularly, some only on occasion, some have given it a try in the past and decided it is not for them, some have never even been tempted to try it at all. Since we met in school we have changed, our opinions and life circumstances have altered but we are all enamored enough with rational debate that we have few inhibitions in the exchange of ideas, experiences (sometimes not only theoretical, it turns out) and thoughts.

So, most of us, though not all, understand the draw of Dominance/submission (D/s) in practice and/or theory. This time a new thought was introduced - the relationship between D/s fantasies and a desire for safety and security. The thought fascinated me.

Traditional political and sociological theory argued that the human’s first need is safety, security. We sacrifice almost all to preserve it and, when it is threatened, we tend to withdraw into ourselves, become more insular and conservative. See the current financial crisis and increasingly strong conservative rhetoric. It is an interesting idea to relate this need for safety to sexual fantasies.

What is the draw of D/s fantasies? Two sides to it, and though I prefer to play on one side I can, on occasion, enjoy the other. Dominance is a rush of power, control and care, the later more so than the first for me. But there is also an attraction, in the ideal situation, to be able to control a situation completely, to concentrate another being so completely on me that the world disappears, there is only us and nothing can threaten, can intrude. The side of submission is more comfortable for me and I admit freely I can see definite aspects of safety considerations.

I like doing nice things for others, I like “serving” others when I can. It is an innate desire - but I am self aware that there is another aspect. I am better at giving then receiving (there is a whole slew of emotional issues related to that which do not need to be discussed here) and it is, in part at least, due to a desire to protect myself. When it comes to sexual situations this is even more pronounced.

Women today have the expectation on them to have to be everything, and good at everything - up to a point it had been like that always and most likely feels, in a way, like it for men too. But for us, I would argue, it is more pronounced. We are supposed to be successful in our professions, pretty, a bomb in bed and still be able to handle the kids, the social connections and the household. There is not one second in life I do not know I could do better. The times I play, the times I submit in sexual matters, there is expectation on me - but it is clearly outlined and achievable. I can fulfill the expectations, and do it well, without having to wonder and worry if I am good enough. If I am not, I am told immediately. I am safe.
There is another aspect of safety - communication. Playing requires me to be absolutely honest, forces me to be, even when I normally would hide. It changes something in my relationship as well - it deepens some link between us, a link often muddled by the constant stress and pressures of life.

So there is definitely a safety consideration in D/s for me, and as it turned out for the others in the discussion as well. Most interesting would now be if the consumption of D/s related books and toys increases in times of national social, political or economic upheaval. Don’t worry, there is a sociologist hot on the trail of that question - I will let you know when he reports back ;)

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"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to think and express it."

Evelyn Beatrice Hall; Friends of Voltaire
December 9, 2013 at 7:58am
December 9, 2013 at 7:58am
A few weeks back, Rebecca Adlington, a prominent swimmer and UK olympic medal holder, broke into tears on the topic of body image. The result: a surprised outcry regarding the body image problems of successful women. Why do women, so blatantly at the top of their game and beautiful, nevertheless feel bad about their bodies? There is the additional bafflement why, in professions where their extraordinary skill lies in something other than looks, a successful women nevertheless defines herself first and foremost over their looks. I was surprised too - not by the fact that successful women define themselves over their looks, and feel/ know others do; but by the revelation that it surprises anyone.

It reminded me of an article I read in a German newspaper or magazine, possibly the Spiegel or Die Zeit, ages ago. This article was primarily about the German universities inability to even meet the 5% goal in appointing women to higher positions. One of the reasons for the preference of men over women in appointments given was the recurring comment that, regarding female applicants, a comments are often on the lines of: “But how will she look in the faculty photograph?”. The German’s are more image conscious than the Brits, without a doubt, but there is a universal truth in this: a successful man can be ugly, a successful women cannot. I am not arguing that life is not easier for both genders if you are pretty - but it is doubly so for women.

Now, this should mean any successful woman should rest easy that she is beautiful, otherwise she would not be successful. Setting aside what that means for women and society as a whole - not even that works. The recent Dove advert (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9i2FtenUzqQ) showing how women’s self view is always negatively slanted shows that. Not only do we know at all times we need to be pretty to be successful - we also know we are never pretty enough.

For years, the suggestion has been made, pushed all over the western world, to remove retouched photographs of women from the advertisements, to ban scantily clad ones from large billboards in order to give young women a better self-perception, a more realistic one. It is supposed to make sure we do not have an exaggerated ideal of what a perfect women should be, do not strive for something we cannot reach anyway. I think the suggestion is an insult - an insult to women everywhere!

I don’t need to bash another woman to feel well. I don’t need to hide her beauty simply so that I feel better - for that matter, it is not her beauty which makes me feel bad or ugly. Years ago, I chose to develop myself, my skills, my personality along lines other than physical beauty. Yes, that is where my strengths lie, and as a result I put the time in effort into developing my brain, my analytical abilities, my knowledge. Do I think we all have the potential for conventional beauty? Yes, I do - possibly not at the level of a supermodel, but at a level where we turn heads on the street and impress with out looks. Beauty is not effortless, not only genetics - definitely not the beauty of a billboard. Beauty is a lot of hard work, many hours spent in the gym, a lot of money and time dedicated to hair, and skin, and clothes. It is time in which to learn how to move beautifully, and elegantly, how to dress perfectly. It sounds like a lot of fun, but in the end it is as much work as dedicating yourself to other professions.

I can recognise the hard work, appreciate it, admire it - just as I would a successful barrister or professor. I don’t need to bash the woman who choses to make beauty her career. What I need is a society which recognises her hard work - and mine. A society which stops seeing beauty as some genetic lottery, and therefore easy and unattainable, but recognises it as a choice. And I need a society which begins to recognise the women who chose to develop skills other than beauty as equally worthy.

I don’t need to hide women’s beauty - I want a rethink of the cinderella stories where the smart girl only becomes happy after developing her beauty (Iceprincess, She is all that, Two weeks notice, …). I want a recognition that a woman choosing a career independent of beauty is successful - as much as a woman who choses a career in beauty is. All of us make choices and sacrifices for what we want to do with our lives, the only problem is that a woman is not allowed to chose anything BUT beauty. She has to be beautiful and on the side she is allowed to develop another profession, almost like a hobby. I would rather we would stop seeing beauty as a genetic accident and more as the hard work and effort it is. It is a profession and every woman has the right to chose - just as much as she has the right not to do so.

November 25, 2013 at 6:21am
November 25, 2013 at 6:21am
I first had intended to write about the question of body image in successful women - but then I realised today is the international day for the Elimination Of Violence Against Women. So my plan changed. In the end, this blog post has become a plea for empathy, and the duty of a parent to instil this quality in their children. In my view, violence against women has little to do with misogyny, or culture, or even sex - it is an expression of power. Stronger individuals expressing their frustration with the world by pounding on those they can - because they can, because there is no internal switch to keep them from doing so. The problem is, I don’t think this switch is natural, I think it is taught, a direct corollary to children being taught not to bully.

What do I mean? In some ways I come from a very depressing starting point: humanity is nasty as a rule. We are, we have shown that over history. Every time you watch a playground, you can see it as well. We watch little boys poke at little girls, girls laugh about other children behind their back, both genders behaving barbarian. Most children develop defence mechanisms, learnt to behave in a way which does not invite the ridicule or nastiness of others. Most of us do it unconsciously. I am an “accident child”, I was born before either of my parents had finished their education and so, whilst they took turns at university, I came along. 10 schools teach you a lot, mostly about how to make sure you survive in the shark pool. You learn that confidence and a smile are the best defence against the nastiness of other children - and as a result I can only remember one instance, early on, in which I felt the scorn of my peers. The point is that we automatically comprehend that humans are nasty, that need to guard against them. It is a lesson instilled on the playground - but we also learn something almost more important. Human beings are capable of the strangest, strongest acts of kindness. That kid who shares their lunch, the girl who defends you for no reason, the boy who shows you how to throw a ball in the right way.

So whilst we might be naturally inclined to beat, verbally or physically, on those weaker than us in order to establish ourselves higher in the pecking order - we are also able to be nice. Science is divided on the reasons behind the niceness. Is it simply another ploy to establish a position in the pecking order? It might be, but I think it is a result of an ability to empathy, an ability we learn rather than have innately. I have no idea what the academic stance is on this, what the psychological research says here, so this is simply a personal opinion on which I would be quite happy to be corrected. But I think that humans can learn empathy, that we have to.

Violence against women, against anyone physically or emotionally weaker, has to be a result of a lack of empathy, a lack of feeling for the other person, feeling their pain as your own. When that little boy steps on a worm and laughs, there needs to be an adult who crouches down and tells him to consider how that worm felt, what he has done. And then, needs to give that body the burial it deserves - because a child has to learn to feel with others, has to learn the the power to step on another being comes with the responsibility not to. The next time it sees a worm it has to want to carry it to a green patch.

But it goes further, when that child is a teenager, it has to learn about how other people feel whilst the blood drips of the TV. When they shoot an enemy on the video game, they should have to consider the victim, the weak ones - and to be honest, most computer games are written so that they will. When an adult watches a movie in which a child dies he or she needs to ask themselves why there are no tears in his/her eyes. Is it because the show is so bad - or because they allow themselves to be lazy and step away from the consideration of how others feel.

Because empathy is work, and it is constant work. It is so much easier to step away, to see the weaker as simply an object, to switch off the TV when the images get disturbing, to turn away when a man raises a hand against a woman. We do it constantly. We do it when we complain about bad news, when we allow sports personalities to claim what they do is sports and they have no responsibility to ensure it does not benefit countries in which human rights abuses are common. There is only a thin line between the one who raises the hand to hit, and the one turning away in order not to see it and both actions are based on a lack of empathy. They are both based on a laziness to challenge ourselves emotionally, to force ourselves to feel for the other.

So today, on the day for the elimination of violence against women, I would like to make a plea for empathy. The next time you see a worm, think about the world for him. The next time, you watch a movie let yourself be affected, cry. It does not make us weak, it is what makes us worth living, definitely worth living with.

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"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to think and express it."

Evelyn Beatrice Hall; Friends of Voltaire
November 18, 2013 at 5:46am
November 18, 2013 at 5:46am
- and today we make sure no one smears her name with the label feminist.

Doris Lessing died yesterday. She was 94 and lived a full and long life, as many people have commented on - and still it makes me sad. It makes me sad because her name has been such a staple throughout my childhood. I am the product of a family in which debate on abstract matters such as liberty, rights and, yes, feminism, whiled away many an evening or car journey. The name Doris Lessing was a regular occurrence in these.

So, I followed the obituaries and commentaries with interest yesterday. The most common quote, in all the articles and comments, was the following one:

“What the feminists want of me is something they haven't examined because it comes from religion. They want me to bear witness. What they would really like me to say is, 'Ha, sisters, I stand with you side by side in your struggle toward the golden dawn where all those beastly men are no more.' Do they really want people to make oversimplified statements about men and women? In fact, they do. I've come with great regret to this conclusion.”

Doris Lessing, The New York Times, 25 July 1982

In 94 years of life, of thoughtful and deep writings, the quote she is being defined upon is the one in which, so many say, she proclaims not to be a feminist. Two things stuck in my craw in this:

We are fast in declaring someone not a feminist.
We are just as fast in making sure that is message we are upholding, no matter what else has been said by that person.

Feminism or no feminism - that is the question

I think that quote is really up for debate. What I hear from it is not a denial of feminism, but a reminder that nothing in this world should be accepted on “faith” alone, that nothing should be followed in extremes. I am not doubting Doris Lessing is critical of feminism, so am I, so should anyone be - just as we should be critical of anything that purports to hold a truth. Truth, of any kind, does not need faith, does not need to be protected by acceptance but forged by constant doubt and question.

Feminism as a dirty secret

What I find more interesting is that we are working incredibly hard to make sure she is not “tainted” by the label feminist, even to the level where our comments sideline or even exclude all the other labels her writings addressed, tried to make us think about - liberty, justice, rights, faith.

Why? Why has feminism become a dirty label? When I ask this question, people tell me it is because of the extremism of feminism in the 1970s, the popular perception of it standing for hating men (I have talked about the actual theory here before). But that seems improbable as a reason to avoid the label - few people avoid the label of Christianity, or any other religion, and there is enough extremism to go around in any of them.

I have argued before, it is because of the connection we have made, but refuse to acknowledge and discuss, between feminism and sex. I have discussed that before here as well - and will do so again, repeatedly. But I don’t want that discussion to be here. Instead I want to give some other quotes to stand for an amazing writer who died yesterday:

“Very few people really care about freedom, about liberty, about the truth, very few. Very few people have guts, the kind of guts on which a real democracy has to depend. Without people with that sort of guts a free society dies or cannot be born.”

“Whatever you're meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.”

“What's terrible is to pretend that second-rate is first-rate. To pretend that you don't need love when you do; or you like your work when you know quite well you're capable of better.”

“That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way.”

“A public library is the most democratic thing in the world. What can be found there has undone dictators and tyrants: demagogues can persecute writers and tell them what to write as much as they like, but they cannot vanish what has been written in the past, though they try often enough...People who love literature have at least part of their minds immune from indoctrination. If you read, you can learn to think for yourself.”

“I am a person who continually destroys the possibilities of a future because of the numbers of alternative viewpoints I can focus on the present.”

“In university they don't tell you that the greater part of the law is learning to tolerate fools.”

“Women have an extraordinary ability to withdraw from the sexual relationship, to immunize themselves against it, in such a way that their men can be left feeling let down and insulted without having anything tangible to complain of.”

“The charge that the United Nations are using bacteriological warfare in Korea cannot be dismissed merely because it would be insane.”

“We spend our lives fighting to get people very slightly more stupid than ourselves to accept truths that the great men have always known. They have known for thousands of years that to lock a sick person into solitary confinement makes him worse. They have known for thousands of years that a poor man who is frightened of his landlord and of the police is a slave. They have known it. We know it. But do the great enlightened mass of the British people know it? No. It is our task, Ella, yours and mine, to tell them. Because the great men are too great to be bothered. They are already discovering how to colonise Venus and to irrigate the moon. That is what is important for our time. You and I are the boulder-pushers. All our lives, you and I, we’ll put all our energies, all our talents into pushing a great boulder up a mountain. The boulder is the truth that the great men know by instinct, and the mountain is the stupidity of mankind.”

New website is up:  www.christineblackthorn.eu
October 22, 2013 at 10:10am
October 22, 2013 at 10:10am
What makes a man attractive?

The last two weeks have been, at leasa somewhat, academic - one looking at the difference between autonomy and separatism in feminism and one on the publuc perception of feminism as linked to erotica. Today will be entirely frivolous and based on an interesting conversation with a few of you who read the blog. It is based on the question what makes a man, or a person, attractive sexually.

Most of you will now cry out and try to tell me there are no universal rules, that each of us applies different yardsticks, is attrackted to something else. And I would agree - up to a point. We all have different preferences when it comes to hair colour, eye colour, body type, height or gender. But I think there is something fundamental, something more to it.

I mostly am attracted to men. If you would ask me to describe my "dream" sexual partner I would say tall, dark haired, intelligent, honourable and competitive, preferably competing with me. Those who know anything about my partner know that applies to him - those who have known me a little longer, know it has not always applied to my partners.

There have been many aberrations to that list of attributes - the only constant seem to be the intelligence and honour requirements. Anything else has, at some point, been up to debate. Some people I have been intensely attracted to have been very far away from that list indeed.

Some people have an indefinable quality which makes them attractive, surrounds them with what many call animal magnetism, charisma of some kind. We find explanations for why - money, power, arrogance, skill.... whatever. And all of these might be part of the attraction, but there is one thing I have found them all to have in common, other than any of these. They all have known how to touch.

The ability to touch, to read another and see the smallest tension of muscle, the almost inperceptible ways in which we betray comfort, desire and fear - often without us realising them ourselves. All of those people whose attraction surprised me, crept up on me and undermined my perceptions of desire, were people who knew how to touch.

So the next time you buy a new shirt, or new nail polish, give that some thought and consider if you should not better spend a day watching people and consider what moves them.


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"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to think and express it."

Evelyn Beatrice Hall; Friends of Voltaire
October 14, 2013 at 1:07pm
October 14, 2013 at 1:07pm
Autonomy and Separatism

This will be one of the more academic posts - more to do with feminism than erotica, though the connection will become clear soon enough. The background thought relates to the feminist movement of the 1970 and the dichotomy between autonomy and separatism contained in the theories of social feminists vs radical feminists. I think in some ways it can be argued that the polarisation in erotica should learn something from this experience.

Radical feminism perceives current societal structures to be an expression of a patriarchic society designed to oppress woman and advocates a radical reordering of society as the only way to allow women to achieve equality. Social feminists see the root cause for inequality more in the legal or socio-economic situation and see the solution to the problem of inequality in a change of the legal and social position of women.

The difference between the two lies in the perception of separatism agains autonomy - in some ways the radical feminist argues women only can find their own role, their own position, in separation to men. It needs ot be said that this is the moment popular opinion has been very good in discrediting feminists as men haters. However, even radical feminists do not necessarily hate men - the argument here is that women have to define themselves in theoretical, not actual, isolation to men before they can find their place within heterosexual society. Social feminists, on the other hand, argue that women have to find their autonomy in society as it is, with or without the aid of men.

I see merit in both views, though I personally lean more towards the second, social feminism, simply because it appears the more practical. But two points need to be made here:

1) The next time someone claims feminism to be a theory of men haters, tell them to go read a book before speaking without having an idea what they are talking about.


2) Erotica writing is dividing, distinguishing, itself from romance and pornography - we might have to be careful we understand the difference between separatism and autonomy.


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"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to think and express it."

Evelyn Beatrice Hall; Friends of Voltaire

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