Tag Archives: feminism

Pornography is an archive of desire. I talk with Dr. Kate Lister (AKA Whores of Yore) about it, and what sex IS, anyway, on AEWCH 102!

10 Mar
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AEWCH102TitleCardAGAINST EVERYONE WITH CONNER HABIB 102: KATE LISTER (@WhoresOfYore) or THE ARCHIVE OF DESIRES

Friends,

As this episode goes out, there’s a hysteria about touching one another. Not just kissing, not just holding, not just sex, but even shaking hands, even being within a few feet of somebody. But touch, and the ways we touch, have always been troubled by definitions and rules handed to us by others and the metaphors we’ve inherited.

So it’s time – isn’t it time? – to talk more about the ways we view touch, the ways we view intimacy and sex, and pornography. So I invited the amazing Dr. Kate Lister, a sex historian known for her hugely popular twitter account Whores Of Yore, and now for her excellent book, A Curious History Of Sex . Both the twitter account and the book are grand compendiums of sex in history and theory. Also? Very, very funny.

We talk a lot about the history of sexual imagery, the ways we touch each other, and, in perhaps the most challenging of all questions – What sex is. It’s not as obvious as you think!

This is the second of a pair of episodes that are deep dives into sex and intimacy, the first of which was AEWCH 101, “The Trouble With Consent” featuring Katherine Angel.
And it’s a deep, penetrating, hot episode. Enjoy it in yer ears!


ON THIS EPISODE

  • The way we all experience one aspect of our sexual awakening through pornography + Kate’s first experience and mine (which I compare to John in the Bible)
  • How anti-porn activism is a rehash of childhood misunderstandings of sex
  • How the language we use today can’t contain the way we looked at sex in the past
  • Porn is there because we want it, it’s not merely that we want it because it’s there
  • Taxidermy in old porn shoots?
  • Attempts to control consent by people and institutions in power, and how sex workers take some of that back
  • The way “wokeness” can interfere with seeing sex and power dynamics clearly
  • Pornography as political protest and why those pictures of Trump and Putin making out aren’t JUST homophobia
  • What sex is, anyway?And does desire always collapse into nothingness?
  • How we don’t understand our desires

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Kate, just follow Whores Of Yore on twitter, and also go to her website, which is a huge archive of sexual information, including in-depth historical essays about sex by Kate and others. Also, here’s a good, brief interview with her.

• One of my earliest essays on porn was “By The Time You’ve Seen It’s Too Late” in which I compare seeing porn to The Evil Dead.

• Would you like to learn more about the 28,000 year old stone penis? Of course you would. And here’s a bit on Jill Cook of the British Museum, asserting that we had sex before we understood that it made babies.

• Do fetuses masturbate? Well, probably? Maybe?

• There’s a great book about the invention of pornography called The Secret Museum: Pornography In Modern Culture. It’s by Walter Kendrick, and well worth reading. Another great book on the same subject is The Invention of Pornography, 1500-1800: Obscenity and the Origins of Modernity edited by Lynn Hunt (this is the book I mention later that has lots of information about pornography as political protest).

• I talk a lot about the need for conversations about resilience with Sara Maria Griffin on AEWCH 93.

• Here’s a short article on Christine Helliwell talking to Dayak women in Borneo about the different concept of sex and assault.

A conversation between Heather Berg and I about sex work and the wage-labor relationship is here.

I am a whore. Find something else to fight about.” –Nell Gwynn, after two men were fighting after one called her a whore.

• Did you miss Hole drummer Patty Schemel on AEWCH 60? Don’t.

• I talk about the origins of sex on AEWCH 92, which is called…wait for it…The Origins Of Sex!

• And there;s a book about a very different thing with the same title – The Origins Of Sex: A History Of The First Sexual Revolution by Faramerz Dabhoiwala. It’s great.

• I’ve brought up What Is Sex? by Alenka Zupančič many times on the show. If you’re interested in a dense psychoanlytical investigation of sex, check it out. And also I talk about Wilhelm Reich on this bonus episode, and on AEWCH 59 with Reich James Strick.

• Kate mentions Joan Price, and I think her work with desire and aging is worth checking out.

• I wrote an essay on my (homo)sexual awakening waaaay back in 2010 (the essay, not the awakening); it’s called “Looking At Men.”

• A book I love on the sex lives of animals (well THAT’S a way to open a sentence) is Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice To All Creation by Olivia Judson.

• I mention the Katherine Angel episode, but you should really get and read her amazing book, Unmastered.

Until next time, friends, don’t give up on your desires!
CH
NG

You can’t consent to consent. A challenging discussion on the new Against Everyone With Conner Habib, featuring author Katherine Angel!

3 Mar


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AEWCH101TITLECARDFriends,

I’ve been writing and giving talks about sex for over a decade now, and I often find it difficult to have truly stimulating conversation about it. I knew that having author and public intellectual Katherine Angel on the show would change that. Katherine is the author of the stunning work of vignettes on sex and fear and domination, Unmastered : A Book On Desire, Most Difficult To Tell, and Daddy Issues, which questions patriarchy by looking squarely at women’s relationships with their fathers. Her book, Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again, will be out next year, and I’ll definitely have her on then too.

Katherine and I go at sex and especially consent at so many different angles, uncovering all the problems in the way we discuss it. As it turns out, there are quite a few problems there, and I am so happy to have had this challenging conversation, and to share it with you.

(PS: sorry about the popping in the sound. Your contribution is going to pay for a few pop filters!)

ON THIS EPISODE
  • How not knowing what we want needs to be a part of sexuality
  • Why psychoanalysis is important for our conversation about consent
  • Why every sexual encounter between two people is actually a threesome with whoever created the framework of consent
  • Why consent is not a good foundation for sexual ethics
  • How nonconsensual labor frameworks (ie needing to have a job) generate harassment and make sex the culprit
  • How we always place the burden of clear expression on women
  • How overemphasizing consent denies us our full humanity
  • Why Katie Roiphie and Laura Kipnis don’t get it
  • Why listening to people is so important whether or not they were utterly violated, and even whether or not we believe or accept that they were.
  • Words and pornography
  • The false assumption that men are having “real” orgasms in porn, whereas the women are having “fake” ones
  • How arousal is protective and the body doesn’t express the truth anymore than the mind.
  • Why we need Freud now more than ever
  • The erotic fantasy of banning pornography
  • Why desires have their own boundaries
SHOW NOTES
• More on Katherine: Katherine teaches at University of London, and her book, Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again will be out next year. Here’s an excerpt from it, “Sex And Self Knowledge: Beyond Consent”. And here’s Katherine speaking about #MeToo at the Freud Museum.

• Katherine mentions Joseph Fischel’s book, Screw Consent: A Better Politics of Sexual Justice , which I am eager to read (and I’m also excited to have Joseph on the show!). Another good book on consent is Consent: Sexual Rights and the Transformation of American Liberalism by Pamela Haag.

• And here’s the Melissa Gira Grant essay on #MeToo – “The Unsexy Truth About Harassment.
• I’ve written about all the themes presented here before in the essay, “A Culture That’s Sick About Sex Will Never Be Able To Stop Harassment And Abuse“.

• A little write up of my talk about consent at Tufts University, moderated by Kareem Khubchandani.

• The Leo Bersani quote is “There is a big secret about sex: most people don’t like it.”

• Katherine gives a shout out to Laurie Brotto and her book, Better Sex Through Mindfulness: How Women Can Cultivate Desire.

AEWCH 34 about how arousal and desire are not the same thing, and how sex confronts materialism.

• The first time I talked about Wittgenstein’s theories and porn was way back on AEWCH 10 with Dr. Chris Donaghue.

• For more on how children experience violation when they’re sexually assaulted, read Susan Clancy’s profound book, The Trauma Myth: The Truth About the Sexual Abuse of Children and Its Aftermath.

• Go forth and read Darwin’s Worms by Adam Phillips. I’ve mentioned it many times as a great book. Ancd also? What Is Sex? by Alenka Zupančič.

• I can’t vouch for Carnal Resonance: Affect and Online Pornography by Susanna Paasonen yet, but I’m definitely going to read it if Katherine thinks it’s worthwhile. And here’s a link to Amia Srinivasan‘s article, “Does Anyone Have The Right To Sex?

That’s it for now, friends.
Until next time, may you follow your desires!
CH

The victims of witchcraft & the witchcraft of victims. Dr. Thomas Waters joins me on the latest episode of AEWCH!

4 Feb
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AEWCH98TitleCard
Friends,
I’ve been preoccupied with the way we’ve been preventing witchcraft, the occult, and magic from entering into serious philosophical and political (especially leftist political) discourse for a long time. Previously, witchcraft was the subject of ridicule. Now it’s claimed by Marxists, feminists, and others, as proof of their own theorizing. I’m happy that magic and the occult are being brought into discourse, but always in a way that seems to dismiss the phenomenon itself. So I invited Thomas Waters, author of the incredible Cursed Britain: A History of Witchcraft and Black Magic in Modern Times to talk about all of this. His book is the nail in the coffin of magical revisionism.
Thomas’s book looks at witchcraft from the 1800s to the present day in the UK and its colonies, but most importantly, it does so from a victim’s point of view. In other words, it starts with a serious angle, and stays with it. Along the way, you meet a host of weird and powerful figures, as well as tragedies, atrocities, and absurdities. And our conversation follows a similarly varied path. This is definitely one of my favorite episodes, and it serves as a companion to my conversational, informal episode “The Left Vs Witches.”
Most importantly, I think, we discuss the need for people who can thoughtfully interpret instances of witchcraft and magic in our time. The disappearance of these “dewitcher” figures has left us lost. These dewitchers use witchcraft as a way of seeing, and can teach that way of seeing to us.
I was happy, also, to get Thomas to express how his research into witchcraft changed him, and I’m sure he was happy to get me to talk about challenges to my academic research project.
Oh, and Thomas recites Wordsworth’s “Song For The Spinning Wheel” in the most soothing and mystery-filled voice!
In this episode
  • Witchcraft, belief, and placebo
  • The ways we dismiss witchcraft even as we admit it into “serious” conversation
  • Witchcraft as a first and last resort
  • Why witchcraft is not simply a tool of the disenfranchised but of people in power, too
  • The importance of dewitchers as people who sort through the bullshit & truth, the safety & dangers of witchcraft
  • Witchcraft as a way of reading, as a way of seeing
  • How disbelief in magic is colonialism
  • Why Thomas became interested in witchcraft
SHOW NOTES
• For more on Thomas, visit his page at Imperial College, which features links to articles and other projects. And if the episode wasn’t convincing enough, read this thoughtful review of Cursed Britain in the Times Literary Supplement.
• I mention the fact-filled (though perhaps theoretically unsatisfying) book Paranormal America: Ghost Encounters, UFO Sightings, Bigfoot Hunts, and Other Curiosities in Religion and Culture written and edited by Bader, Mencken, and Baker. It’s definitely worth reading.
• A great and harsh article on the appropriation of witchcraft for feminist revisionism is by Diane Purkis – “Managing Our Darkest Hatreds And Fears: Witchcraft From The Middle Ages To Brett Kavanaugh”
• I talk about capitalism, time, and magic on AEWCH 76 with Conor McCabe.
• Thomas mentions the book Witches and Neighbors: The Social and Cultural Context of European Witchcraft by Robin Briggs, and it sounds great.
• Yes, she was linked to a secret police force.
• I highly recommend reading On Kings by David Graeber and Marshall Sahlins.
DF• My favorite (and the most fun!) book on the Satanic Panic in the US is called, appropriately, Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s. It’s filled with photos, drawings, and is a great read-a-bit-a-day book. 
• If you don’t follow Hookland on twitter, I suggest you check them out ASAP. They’re great.
• Thomas writes a lot about Dion Fortune’s book Psychic Self-Defense, but I think the best place to start with Fortune’s work is either The Esoteric Orders and Their Work or The Secrets Of Dr. Taverner (which is fiction but based on Fortune’s own life). Both books are excellent introductory books to the occult.
• I haven’t yet visited the Museum of Witchcraft, and I really really really want to. Anyway, until I get there, maybe you can go and I can live vicariously through you?
AEWCH 46 with paranormal researchers Greg & Dana Newkirk remains one of my favorite episodes of the show.
• And check out The AntiWitchby Jeanne Favret-Saada for a good ethnography of dewitchers. And her first book, which Thomas gives a rave review to, is Deadly Words: Witchcraft in the Bocage.
Running with the Fairies: Towards a Transpersonal Anthropology of Religion by Dennis Gaffin is a compassionate and fun ethnography on the fairy faith in Northern Ireland.
Until next time, witches,
XO
CH

Ghosts, blood, bodies: Irish feminist literary icon Sinéad Gleeson joins me on AEWCH 72!

4 Jun

AEWCH72TitleCard

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Friends,

Very excited to delve into questions of the body – political, spiritual, philosophical, paranormal, and more – with literary icon Sinéad Gleeson. Sinéad is an author, editor, broadcaster, and Irish literary stalwart; her book of interconnected essays, Constellations is a bestseller here in Ireland, and about to make its way to America. It’s a captivating book about blood, feminism, injury, ghosts, and health; all orbiting around the question: What does it mean to be a human who is, at least in part, a human body?

Sinéad and I talk

• creating our own anatomy books

• standing up to the Catholic church

• the law of correspondences

• the importance of constellations in the sky and in our bodies

• how medicine is patriarchal

• my ghost experiences and Sinéad’s ghost experiences (and how we self-stigmatize them!)

• how ghosts are like good health

• health for athletes and porn performers

• the exploitation of pain and trauma as currency in the attention economy

• how being in touch with our bodies helps us be compassionate towards others

SHOW NOTES 

XO
CH

SO

CONSENT IS NOT ENOUGH: I talk with feminist icon, Laurie Penny on AEWCH 64!

27 Mar
We need to do better in our conversations about consent. And I don’t just mean because we don’t know how to respect consent, I mean because our conversation about it is hopelessly simplistic, ahistorical, and underdeveloped. I’ll be exploring this topic in more depth on the show.
And, well, who better to speak with first than feminist author and icon (yes, the word is apt), Laurie Penny! Laurie is the author of multiple books and countless (okay, maybe not countless, but a lot) of essays. Many of those essays can be found in Bitch Doctrine: Essays for Dissenting Adults , and many of her ideas are presented at length in Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies, and Revolution. She’s also just finished writing a book on consent and season one of the Joss Whedon HBO series, The Nevers. For more Laurie, support her Patreon and get tons of cool stuff.
Laurie and I discuss:
  • the basics of consent and why it’s dual work
  • what sex work can tell us about consent
  • how desire plays itself out in politics
  • the James Deen sexual assaults
  • how women have to deal with the fall out of sexual assaults
  • what happens when your friend (or partner!) is a sexual assaulter
  • why almost every instance of abuse is also a gaslighting
  • whether or not Freud ignored abuse or went a long way to support survivors
  • why we need to support survivors speaking up and also be thoughtful about their sexual politics at the same time
  • the difference between consent as “rules” and an ethics of consent
  • Emma Goldman
  • How millennials are naming the problem.
  • The supernatural premise and politics of Laurie’s show with Joss Whedon, The Nevers.
Here are the SHOW NOTES for the episode.
Sorry for the disparity in volume between Laurie and I; she’s just a little quieter than me, and the equipment I have does best when both people speak at the same volume level. That said, I want to get new mics, and your contribution will go directly to that.
LIKE THIS EPISODE OF AEWCH? Check out AEWCH 50 with MONA ELTAHAWY and AEWCH 24 with ERIN GLORIA RYAN.

CHLP

There is no forgotten man. I talk with leftist feminist icon Erin Gloria Ryan!

21 Mar
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Hello friends! For this episode of AEWCH, I welcome writer, editor, feminist icon Erin Gloria Ryan. Also, she is one of the funniest people in the world. We talk about #MeToo, tweeting, how to navigate creating and engaging with “problematic” art, and how not to listen to people. Also, I tell you my crazy person story about Scott Caan and Erin tells hers about Bob Odenkirk.

The show notes are available for patrons and you can find them here.
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