Safe sex in pulp fiction: Open Thread

Is there any?  That’s my question after — OK I’ll admit it — reading Harlequin romances!  I’m still working on improving my Dutch so I’ll buy any manner of used Dutch book written at or just above my reading level.  On our last foray to the book shop I found Dokters, a set of three short novels for 50 cents.  Sold!  It’s been fantastic for the vocabulary.  For example, our word for fish semen, milt, means spleen in Dutch — fascinating!

But it has also been a glimpse into heterosexual pulp fiction, a genre I’ve had little experience with.  I’m disappointed to find that 30 years into the AIDS epidemic that safe sex has not been incorporated into these Harlequin romance stories even though the story lines reflect modern-day life in other ways.  For example, women have their own careers and they also have sexual relationships and children outside of wedlock, without shame.

I know that romances are escape literature and make the women who read them feel hope despite the mistakes they may have made or the lack of love in their current lives.  But don’t readers also want the author to show them how to have sexy safe sex or at least support the meme that characters who are so achingly in love wouldn’t dream of having unprotected sex without a conversation first?

Only once in these three stories is a condom produced during a sex scene, and then not because the woman produced it or because the couple talked about protection, but because, we learn later, the man thinks he carries the Huntington’s gene and doesn’t want to knock up the women he’s screwing with a Huntington’s baby.  From the story “More Than Friends” (my rough translation):

Suddenly Josh turned away.  Toni shivered and felt deserted.  But suddenly she understood.  A condom.  She hadn’t actually given that a moment of thought.  And undoubtedly Josh had quite a store of those.  With his lifestyle, that was very important.  These thoughts should perhaps have bothered her, but it didn’t matter to her at all.  All that mattered was that she and Josh were together.

GAG!  And check out this “sex on the first date” scene from the story “A Buried Treasure”

Of course it wasn’t smart to stay out late since they both still had interviews the next day.  It also would have been better had they not gone to the observatory because there they learned about the constellations that they later, lying in the grass in the park, would try to find again.  If they hadn’t done that, Jack wouldn’t have kissed her.

Or had she kissed him first?

It didn’t matter.  The attraction was so strong that Hannah effortlessly transgressed all the rules she had about going out on dates with men.  She would start a new life and everything was excitinig, magical and delicious.  What could be more perfect than spending the night with the hansomest, most attractive man she had ever met?

Had it been reckless?  Absolutely.  Unforgettable?  More than unforgettable.

Reckless and unforgettable alright, because Hannah got pregnant.  But by the time we meet Hannah, her daughter is 5 years old and adorable and Hannah is the picture of loving, devoted single-motherhood.  And after a few twists and turns of the plot she and her hunk o’ burnin’ love are reunited and live happily ever after.

Now I’ll admit I’ve only read the three stories in this single volume, all written by the same author.  So maybe I’m missing something.  Maybe the wider world of heterosexual pulp fiction is rampant with nauseatingly romantic responsible sex.  Help me out here blenders, is that so?  And is gay pulp any better?
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I’m Out And Safe

Hi all,

Just a quick note to say I’m out of jail, and my experience was a much better experience than my last jail experience last April.

I’ll write more tomorrow, but all thirteen of us who handcuffed ourselves to the White House fence today (November 15, 2010) are out of jail after being cited. All are doing well.

Warmest thoughts,

~~Autumn~~
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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Moving Forward on Marriage and Safe Schools in Minnesota

All across the country, progressives are gearing up for a tough election. Our friends and allies will need our help this year; perhaps more than ever. Here in Minnesota, we are in marathon mode. The prize at the end of this race is the possibility of finally passing a safe schools bill and the chance at securing full marriage equality for Minnesota families. We know what is at stake, and Minnesotans are stepping up to the plate.

If this week was any indication, we are going to spend November 3rd celebrating. Our recent phonebank was packed with supporters and allies calling across Minneapolis to spread the good word about Mark Dayton and other pro-equality candidates to let people know about their support for LGBT rights. We made thousands of calls and had hundreds of conversations to remind them about the importance of voting for pro-equality candidates this November.

I also recently had the pleasure of running into Senator Al Franken. Senator Franken has been a solid ally in Congress and he stopped by a Get Out The Vote training to thank and support us staffers. He promised us that together we will keep Minnesota moving forward. If we elect Mark Dayton this November, we will truly make history.

If you have not already signed up to volunteer or help out, shoot me an email to get plugged in – terry.mcguire@hrc.org

See you on the campaign trail!

Paid for by the Human Rights Campaign Minnesota PAC and authorized by Mark Dayton for a Better Minnesota and the Minnesota DFL


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings: How About You Just Cross Your Fingers And Hope Bullying Stops?

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As is the case for most of those reading this message, I have been horrified by the recent media coverage of student suicides prompted by bullying. I am fortunate to have a boss who is just as horrified and today made the below statement. I hope each of you will consider ways you can help bring bullying to an end and urge you to check out www.bullyinginfo.org for useful resources in so doing.

—Kevin Jennings, the man Obama appointed to make American schools safer, breaks his silence on a Friday evening, when everybody stops paying attention to the news, with these empty and useless remarks. (Technically, Jennings says it is "the recent media coverage" that horrifies him, not the suicides themselves, but grammar schmammar.) His boss, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, released this note.


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Queerty

—  John Wright

Leading Gay Russian Activist Nikolai Alekseev Safe in Moscow, Says He Was Harassed, Drugged by Captors

Leading Russian gay activist Nikolai Alekseev is safely back in Moscow, and has written an account of his harrowing abduction by captors thought to be with Russia's secret police. Alekseev says the captors harassed, threatened, and possibly drugged him.

Alexeyev Early Saturday morning Alekseev left the following message on Facebook:

"My dear friends, I just entered Moscow. Thank you to all of you for support. All I want now is to brush my teeth and to shave. I will try to describe all that happened tonight! I never thought so many people care for me, it brings tears to my eyes."

Alekseev has written the personal account of his abduction HERE (translated via Google).

Radio Free Europe reports:

"A spokeswoman for the airport told Russian news agencies that Alekseyev was detained after refusing to take off his shoes at the security check. The activist rejects this account and claims airport security officials arbitrarily detained him for two hours before handing him over to a group of unidentified men in plainclothes. He told RFE/RL that he was then driven to a police station in Kashira, a small town some 100 kilometers south of Moscow, where he spent the next two days."

In his personal account, Alekseev notes that he discovered his location by using an iPad, which the authorities had not taken from him.

Radio Free Europe continues:

"[In Kashira], he says he was threatened, harassed, and possibly drugged. 'The first night, I slept on a chair and a table. I spent the second night on a kind of banquette. They gave me water, but I think it was laced with something because my reactions were very slow and I felt completely disoriented. I was given very simple food like biscuits,' Alekseyev says. Conflicting reports had emerged in the wake of Alekseyev's mysterious disappearance. While the activist did not respond to repeated calls to his mobile telephone, news agencies said they had received text messages from him saying he had been taken to Belarus and intended to seek political asylum there. Alekseyev denies such intentions and says the text messages were sent by his captors from his confiscated telephone."

During his abduction, Alekseev was pressured to withdraw a complaint he had filed with the European Court of Human Rights over Moscow's banning of Gay Pride parades.


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Are Russian Police Sending Fake Text Messages to Make Everyone Think Activist Nikolai Alekseev Is Safe?

Nikolai Alekseev, the Russian activist and Moscow Gay Pride organizer who went missing after an arrest at Moscow's airport, is supposedly safe in Minsk, Bealrus. If he ever wants to return to his mother country, he'll have to disavow his claim in the European Court of Human Rights that state authorities are unfairly discriminating against the gays, and drop his demands that Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov — this jerk — resign. UPDATE: Is an impostor pretending to be Alekseev and text messaging activist friends to make them think he's safe? Not only have Belerussian activists not seen or spoken to him, but when personal questions are asked of Alekseev, there is no SMS response, indicating whomever is sending messages from his phone is not him.


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—  John Wright

Governor Paterson Signs NY Safe Schools Bill into Law

Today, New York Governor David Paterson signed into law the “Dignity for All Students Act.” The act is a broad safe schools law that requires schools to adopt policies to address harassment and discrimination against students, to educate teachers and students on harassment and bullying and provides reporting requirements. Particularly notable is that the bill enumerates, or lists, classifications for protection including the basis of real or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender – defined to include gender identity and expression- and sex.

Enumerated laws have been shown to provide better actual protections to students and to make students feel safer in school. GLSEN’s 2007 National School Climate Survey found that 9 out of 10 LGBT students experienced harassment in school. By highlighting categories of vulnerable students, states send a strong message that all students are valuable and alerts students that they can seek help from teachers and the administration if they face harassment or discrimination.

The “Dignity for All Students Act,” passed by overwhelming majorities in both the Assembly and Senate, also marks the first time the New York Senate has passed legislation explicitly protecting trans people. The step bodes well for passage of the New York “Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act” which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations.

Currently, 14 states and the District of Columbia prohibit discrimination, harassment, and/ or bullying against students based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Only 12 states and the District of Columbia prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Safe School Improvement Act Introduced in Senate for First Time

Today, Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) introduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) in the U.S. Senate.  The SSIA would amend the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (part of the No Child Left Behind Act) to require schools and districts receiving federal funds to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion.  It would also require that states report data on bullying and harassment to the Department of Education.  This is the first time the SSIA has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.  However, earlier this Congress, Representative Linda Sanchez (D-CA) introduced the SSIA in the House (H.R. 2262).

“Too many kids have dropped out of school, hurt themselves, or even taken their own lives because they were bullied or harassed at school,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “We place our children in grave danger when we fail to adequately help school administrators and teachers create safe learning environments for all students, including those who are actually or perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or  transgender.”

Bullying and harassment of students who are actually or perceived to be LGBT is widespread. While current federal law provides important support to promote school safety, it does not comprehensively and expressly focus on issues of bullying or harassment, and in no way addresses the challenges faced by LGBT youth in our nation’s schools.

According to a 2007 School Climate Survey by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT youth reported being verbally harassed at school because of their sexual orientation; more than 60 percent of LGBT students said they felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and more than a third of LGBT students felt unsafe because of their gender expression; nearly 45 percent of LGBT students reported being physically harassed in school because of their sexual orientation; and nearly one-third of LGBT students nationwide said they had missed a day of school in the past month because of feeling unsafe.  Numerous education, health, law enforcement and youth development organizations support this federal legislation to combat bullying and harassment, including the American Federation of Teachers, American School Health Association, National Association of School Psychologists, National Education Association, National Parent Teacher Association, American Association of University Women, Asian American Justice Center, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, and the National Council of La Raza.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright