Tina K. Russell

June 22, 2009

Teens just can’t win

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 12:46 pm

Editorial – Teenagers and Pregnancy – NYTimes.com
Between 1991 and 2003, increased contraceptive use among sexually active teenagers played an important role in driving down teenage pregnancy rates. Since then, according to a new report from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, contraceptive use by teens has declined while their sexual activity has remained unchanged. This is a worrisome shift — and it has bearing on the coming budget battle in Congress.

The report’s authors, Dr. John Santelli, Mark Orr, Laura Lindberg and Daniela Diaz, said they found a decrease of about 10 percent in contraception use that is consistent with recent gains in the teenage birth rate.

They suggest, not unreasonably, a link between the shift in use of contraception and one of former President George W. Bush’s great social-policy follies: highly restrictive abstinence-only sex education programs that deny young people information about sexually transmitted diseases, contraceptives and pregnancy. To the extent these programs even mention condoms, typically it is to disparage their effectiveness.

As a kid, I was always frustrated by how we never seemed to get credit for anything. You never heard it on TV, but teen pregnancy, crime, drug use, etc. had all been going down for decades. That didn’t stop overcaffeinated talking heads from shouting about the explosion of teenage sex and violence spreading across the United States (and possibly to YOUR CHILDREN OMG).

Of course, these prophecies have a way of fulfilling themselves. In response to the made-up explosion in teen misbehavior, we instituted the misguided policy of abstinence-only education, which has led to this prophecy made manifest. Now that teen pregnancy rates are actually rising—like, in the real world, where you and I live—we can expect to hear abstinence-only advocates convinced that this vindicates their policy, because these statistics must mean abstinence-only education is more important than ever. Meanwhile, whatever our nation’s teenagers are doing, they can never catch a break.

Remember! Nothing holds back the onset of puberty like arrogant, senseless, and hypocritical moralizing.

May 20, 2009

Screw You, GQ

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 9:35 am

AND HE SHALL BE JUDGED: GQ Features on men.style.com

Bloody hell.

So, GQ magazine (yes, that GQ) decides to go all highbrow and run a thrilling exposé on Donald Rumsfeld being an even bigger jerk—and even more incompetent—than we ever knew, which, given what he knew before, is really saying something. I saw the coverage on The Rachel Maddow Show, and it did look very interesting. And, guess what.

You might be aware that I have ADD. You might not be aware that I, uh, swing both ways. Perhaps I shouldn’t call myself out on that, here; I imagine that any straight woman can appreciate a beautiful woman, just as any straight man can and won’t admit to appreciating a beautiful man. But, yes, Tina Russell is bisexual, though this does not need to come up often in my blog topics.

And so, the sadistic fools at GQ decided to design their brilliant exposé to be the sort of thing that would interest and anger me; a veritable Tina trap, geared to be the most painful to my personal psyche. Here we go:

The text is tiny. I mean, really tiny. You can make it bigger, of course, but that’s beside the point.

The article is on ten pages. I loathe multi-page articles; you might notice that I link to the full-page versions of articles whenever I can. Reaching the end of each page, each click, each wait, each load, is a new opportunity to forget whatever it was I was doing, or, more accurately, to lose the wonderful sense of being lost in my reading. These page breaks are heinous crimes against those with ADD.

And, just to rub salt in the wound, there isn’t even much on each page; I guess they wanted it to be “more like reading the magazine,” that is, if the magazine required you to point at a small link, wait ten seconds, and watch your field of vision redraw itself each time you wanted to turn the page. (Though, this is GQ. If I were reading the magazine, I’d probably have to flip through pages of cologne ads, quizzes, and bulleted lists of things “she” won’t tell you she loves in bed, because you’re too shallow to ask her and you’ve decided that buying this magazine is an appropriate substitute for communication in your relationship. Moving on…)

Each page has a promo for GQ in the upper-right corner. Specifically, it’s the GQ cover with Jennifer Aniston naked.

How in the Lord’s name am I supposed to read an article that’s a) on ten, separate, short pages, b) in bizarre, tiny text, and c) when Jennifer Aniston is naked in the upper-right corner?! They want to be reading about Donald Rumsfeld this way? Are they nuts?

And this is an important piece! This is a vital journalistic service! In fact, this may be the first vital journalistic service to be completely undone by a nude Jennifer Aniston. And to that I say, shame!

(I should mention that, as a transsexual woman who likes other women—it actually seems to be rather common, as gender identity and sexual orientation are seperate phenomena, and transsexuals have the privilege of seeing under the table of gender and perceiving what a charade it all is anyway—naked Jennifer Aniston does two things to me. One, she is beautiful, so I drool. Two, she is out there, with the body I would want, using the body I would want, using it to make people happy. I imagine this feeling of conflict is common to all women who have a thing for our fairer sex, however… when you’re transsexual, it’s the source of the deepest sort of existential angst, the kind that keeps you awake at night and can break your spirit at its core. I might talk about it sometime… if I feel like it.)

I suppose GQ wants to be more like Vanity Fair these days: ten percent fairly good journalism, and ninety percent utter vanity. Well, good luck. Perhaps, not long from now, people will say they read GQ just for the brilliant exposés. And, of course, they won’t, they can’t, because they’re too distracted by the exposure.

February 14, 2009

The Smut-Hawley (UPDATED)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 12:09 pm

Washington porn tax would fund social program – OregonLive.com
OLYMPIA — State Rep. Mark Miloscia of Federal Way has proposed a 19 percent tax on pornography.

He wants the revenue to save a program that provides money to people unable to work because of physical or mental disabilities.

The General Assistance-Unemployable program would be cut in the budget proposed by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

The legislation would tax adult magazines and video, telephone services and paraphernalia.

The tax would need a supermajority vote of the Legislature or approval by voters. Miloscia told The Spokesman-Review he’s confident his proposal would pass if it went to a statewide vote.

I think this is a terrible idea for 3 reasons:

  1. You’re taxing a specific kind of speech. Why not single out action movies or picture books for a tax? It’s not even the medium that defines what is being taxed in this proposal, just the content.
  2. A program that depends on revenue from porn taxes is a program that depends on the flourishing of the porn industry, not exactly I goal I think lawmakers in Washington State have in mind. Here in Oregon, a distressing amount of our money comes from the lottery and from video poker machines, and as a result, the government rolls over instantly whenever the gambling industry asks us for anything.
  3. It creates an inappropriate stigma. Gasoline taxes are often used for road repair because the costs and benefits stay within the same group (people who use roads). What is the connection between porn and the difficulty of people with disabilities to find employment? As someone with a learning disability, I benefit from school and government considerations all the time; society as a whole benefits when all are able to succeed regardless of circumstance, so I’m not sure why consumers of pornography should be singled out to pay.

In short, I see no reason why we should tax porn-consuming Peter to pay disabled Paul; it’s mean-spirited, it’s opportunistic, and it’s offensive. I support these kinds of government programs and wish the taxes would be spread among those who benefit (everyone), rather than targeting a specific group for no reason.

Update: It died. One reason cited is that a fellow state senator “foresaw problems with a bill that would put a different sales tax on goods based on content.” I believe the legislative term for this is “no sheezy.”

February 1, 2009

Of G-men and G-strings

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Tina Russell @ 1:22 pm

News: Local | “Morrisette plans to try new anti-strip club legislation” | The Register-Guard
SALEM — Sick of seeing Oregon cities stuck with no way to keep strip clubs out of their downtowns, state Sen. Bill Morrisette is asking lawmakers to consider allowing cities to decide where sexually oriented businesses can open up shop.

Morrisette, a Democrat from Springfield, said his hometown’s fight to keep strip club Shakers Bar and Grill out of its core inspired him to create the resolution.

Oregon’s Constitution protects sex shops as a form of free speech, meaning they may open in any commercial zone. Morrisette said he wants lawmakers to put before voters a constitutional amendment to give cities more control.

This idea has been bouncing around Oregon for-freaking-ever and I’m absolutely sick of it. If such a law were in place, segregating sex shops into specialized “seedy zones,” at what point would an establishment become a “sex shop”? What if a bookstore started selling too much erotica? What if a bar hired a belly dancer? And, as the article notes, what would become of strip clubs already outside of legislated no-strip zones? Would they be forced to move, or would they be grandfathered in? It looks like an overreach to me.

I think this campaign amounts to putting a delicate pasty on the exposed nipple of Oregon’s problems. Sex shops don’t exist in a vacuum; if men are lonely and want to pay for an extended cocktease, legislation isn’t really going to change that. What it will do is make the factors everyone complains about worse. Restricted to their own, sealed, self-reinforcing neighborhoods, sex clubs will hardly be able to overcome their own stereotypes of being single-minded, exploitative, and appealing only to men. It’s not going to matter that there are men and women who strip artfully and on their own terms, that exotic dancing is an art form that goes back over a hundred years, that erotica can be written gracefully and tastefully and read by perfectly intelligent people. If all “sex shops” are penned into erotic ghettos, it’s only going to magnify their worst aspects, as only the stereotypical clientèle will be unafraid to go there.

If anything is going to reform the Oregon sex industry, it’s, well, exposure. How will strippers bargain for better working conditions if the state has pushed their business out of sight and out of mind? If it’s true that sex clubs only attract thugs, how will it help to place them where only thugs would go? (How would someone intending to run a club well get the opportunity to do so?) And what of the soccer mom who wants a subtle book of erotica to pleasure herself with after she’s put the kids to bed? What of the college student who wants a vibrator to help her get through the stress of midterms? Why mandate that they would have to go to unsafe red-light districts instead of someplace downtown that might take them seriously? How could the culture of erotica be changed to serve everyone—to address its legitimate criticisms—if it’s mandated by government that it wallow in its own filth?

I should note that I don’t patronize sex shops, I’ve never been to a strip club, and I don’t read or watch pornography. I’m simply angry when any culture is attacked over legitimate concerns, and then forced to be unable to address them. For all I know, all of Oregon’s strip clubs are as bad as they say. What if somebody wanted to start a better one, though, with wider appeal, with different kinds of bodies, with more innate reverence for sexuality? Why limit them to an area where gathering a clientèle for such a place would be impossible?

Perhaps the best comeback to this sort of idea was on Michael Moore’s late-nineties TV show, The Awful Truth. One episode covered a New York City ordinance, under Rudy Giuliani, saying that all sex-related stores had to contain 60% non-sex-related items. (I’m not sure how well that ever did, or if it’s still around.) As a stunt, Moore and his crew set up a shop of their own, containing 60% Rudy Giuliani memorabilia and 40% sex toys. It was brilliant.

October 10, 2008

Hypocrisy on women’s health

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 9:53 pm

Nicholas Kristof:

Op-Ed Columnist – Can This Be Pro-Life? – NYTimes.com
The Bush administration this month is quietly cutting off birth control supplies to some of the world’s poorest women in Africa.

Thus the paradox of a “pro-life” administration adopting a policy whose result will be tens of thousands of additional abortions each year — along with more women dying in childbirth.

The saga also spotlights a clear difference between Barack Obama and John McCain. Senator Obama supports U.N.-led efforts to promote family planning; Senator McCain stands with President Bush in opposing certain crucial efforts to help women reduce unwanted pregnancies in Africa and Asia.

Retrograde decisions on reproductive health are reached in conference rooms in Washington, but I’ve seen how they play out in African villages. A young woman lies in a hut, bleeding to death or swollen by infection, as untrained midwives offer her water or herbs. Her husband and children wait anxiously outside the hut, their faces frozen and perspiring as her groans weaken.

When she dies, her body is bundled in an old blanket and buried in a shallow hole, with brush piled on top to keep wild animals away. Her children sob and shriek and in the ensuing months they often endure neglect and are far more likely to die of hunger or disease.

In some parts of Africa, a woman now has a 1-in-10 risk of dying in childbirth. The idea that U.S. policy may increase that toll is infuriating.

June 10, 2008

Brainstorming

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Tina Russell @ 12:04 pm

Facebook App Gets Friendly With Wii Codes : Next Generation – Interactive Entertainment Today, Video Game and Industry News – Home of Edge Online
I guess only time will tell if this app is a super success along the lines of Jetman, Scrabulous, or Top Friends, or if instead it wallows in the land of useless one time uses, like a quiz to determine what superhero you are most like, or what your stripper name would be. Or maybe your superhero stripper name

My superhero stripper name would be “Lady Luscious.” I would have a bright red, one-piece bathing suit (with a short, ruffly skirt at the end) and thigh-high bitch boots. I think I’d have a tiny, decorate biker jacket, too, slightly ripped. My weapon, a red, ribbonlike whip, would force evil into submission.

I think I’d also do my hair up into a ponytail.

(Incidentally, Samantha Mason writes these blog posts for Next Generation, and she’s awesome.)

April 26, 2008

God’s work

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 6:36 pm

From an interview with Canadian diplomat and philanthropist Stephen Lewis:

allAfrica.com: Africa: Activist Praises Europe, Slams U.S. on Aids (Page 1 of 2)

What is your view of the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar), the 50-billion-dollar initiative of the Bush administration in the United States?

Everybody is so shocked at getting a sizeable amount of money that they forget that there are tremendous flaws in Pepfar, most of which are destructive towards women. The amount of money is not sufficient and they should be clamoring for much more instead of this endless acting as a cheerleader for the administration.

Do you have some specific examples of ways in which you say it falls short?

Pepfar still insists that up to 50 percent of the preventative monies be spent on abstinence and fidelity when abstinence clearly isn’t a choice for so many women, not only young women who are already sexually active, but women in marriage. Fidelity isn’t the problem of the women in marriage; it’s the problem of the men in the marriage … It’s an outrageous continuation of an ideological weapon wielded by an administration which is reactionary and out of touch with the real world.

Then there is the prostitution gag rule, where you can’t work with sex workers when in fact they are a high-risk group with whom organizations must work. That’s another attack on women. And then there’s the fact that you can’t do reproductive and sexual health in conjunction with work on HIV/Aids when obviously the two are inexorably linked. That’s another attack on women.

Here you have a piece of legislation where the money is inadequate and the flaws are all rooted in misogyny… in attacks on women. People are applauding it as if it’s some sort of contemporary Marshall Plan. That’s crazy and it should be seen for what it is – both inadequate and irresponsible in many respects.

I am a Christian. I have noted this before. Part of being a Christian is doing God’s work on Earth. And yet, I do find critiques on religion, like the one below, well-founded for reasons like what Lewis cited above; motivated by religion, we sometimes add little caveats that undermine what we’re trying to do.

LETTERS; Faith, Politics, and the Good Deed Factor – New York Times

To the Editor:

Yes, evangelical groups do excellent antipoverty work. They are often the first into and last out of the most dangerous, poor and abjectly miserable places on earth.

But we notice that there’s a different character to evangelical involvement on the issues of H.I.V.-AIDS and sex trafficking. When evangelical groups fight those problems, they do so by curtailing rights (usually women’s) and limiting options (usually women’s).

As a result of policies lobbied for by the religious right, 33 percent of American financing for AIDS prevention must now be directed to abstinence-only programs. Organizations receiving financing must take an anti-prostitution pledge, hamstringing their ability to provide condoms and education to at-risk sex workers.

Evangelical work on trafficking has focused more on punishing prostitution than on helping men, women and children avoid the circumstances that lead them to be trafficked into debt bondage.

Liberals are right to reject an approach that is dismissive of individual rights, prolongs suffering and hinders AIDS prevention.

Kate Cronin-Furman

Amanda Taub

New York, Feb. 4, 2008

The writers are the authors of a human rights blog.

God gave us hearts, but God also gave us brains. We have to listen to these criticisms and use our heads when we attempt to do God’s work. Remember, Jesus did not look down upon the prostitutes and tax collectors that were outcasts from society, but worked among them, as an equal, as a friend, not name-dropping his daddy or trying to needle anyone out of the way they lived. Jesus’s lessons are for everyone, and before we condemn the acts of people we do not know and are not connected to, we need to look inside ourselves and see what we need to clean up in our own behavior.

It often doesn’t help, when ministering to someone, to pretend you know the way, the only way, and you’re going to help them get there. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that you do know the way, and the only way this person is going to live is by listening to your advice. You will never accomplish you goal of turning someone around if you browbeat endlessly the people you’re trying to help, telling them how and why they should change. You need to help them where they are, finding what they need and giving it. For instance, in the long term, homeless kids do need showers, clean clothes, and job skills. In the short term, however, what they need is love, understanding, and companionship. With that–and as long as you are ministering to them and not at them–the “cleaning up” part will come from them and not from you.

Sexual activity and prostitution are both complicated issues that defy easy moralization on either side. I do not think, though, that Jesus’s rigid moral codes, as expressed on the Sermon on the Mount and in his parables, kept him from ministering to and loving people he disagreed with. In general, if someone is sexually active, and you wish they weren’t, you should recognize that it’s their choice and not yours, and the best you can do is prevent them from something that is unequivocally bad, like disease, abuse, or coercion. Even if you view (and I don’t) that sex is merely a step on the way to such bad behaviors and situations, your goal should be the other steps from happening, rather than pursue an all-or-nothing strategy that fosters disease and abuse.

God gave us hearts to love, and brains to think, and when rigid ideology impedes our efforts to help people, we are failing to use both.

March 21, 2008

The Girl Of My Memes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Tina Russell @ 1:49 pm

Another spontaneous Internet trend has marketers baffled!

Warning: the link contains sliky-skinned, full-frontal nudity. You may not want to look at it, unless you are currently in possession of a human body.

March 20, 2008

Defenda Brenda

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Tina Russell @ 4:15 pm

IGDA Appoints New Board Members : Next Generation

The International Game Developers Association has appointed new board members, including Tim Train, Brenda Braithwaite and Mark DeLoura.

If you don’t know, Brenda Braithwaite is an advocate for the intelligent use of sex in games, so she’s one of my heroes. I’m very happy about this!

Of course, given that the last high-profile game to deal with sex in a mature and confident way (in one cutscene of about a billion, no less), Mass Effect, was temporarily banned in Singapore and had its own Fox News mini-fiasco, don’t expect anything to change, soon. It’s sad, because when the media deplore any kind of sex in games, they don’t let the medium develop intelligently. In fact, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas‘s notorious hidden sex scenes (which were clothed, rather tame, and required a degree in GameShark-ology to access) were meant to introduce a bit of tenderness to the game by requiring the player to be kind to a female character for a long time before ever getting to the “hot coffee.” Sex is a beautiful and confounding human condition that could spawn a million games. If the anti-game pundits are successful, though, it will remain a childish, exploitative notion, expressed only through Soul Calibur ninjas with boobs the size of oil tankers.

March 11, 2008

Feel the Gov

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Tina Russell @ 4:39 pm

Affidavit: Client 9 and Room 871 – New York Times

You probably won’t read anything sexier or more evocative in the NYT this year. Soak it up.

This piece is brought to you by mood lights and easy jazz.

…At least when Mr. Spitzer abuses the public trust, he does so with class. Mrrrowwwr!

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