Tag Archives: sex and culture

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
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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

Porn Work Is Work! AEWCH 69 (yes that is actually the episode number) with Dr. Heather Berg & Sovereign Syre!

7 May

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Pay for your podcast  is the new “pay for your porn.” At least in my case. Your support you love, is crucial to keep my work going. If youfind something of value on my show, give back and support themany hours of free content I offer every month for the price of alatte or cocktail or lunch or, you know, a month of Only Fans.

Sign up for my Patreon today by clicking here. It’s quick, easy, andyou get cool stuff in return.

AEWCH69Title

Friends,

So excited to talk directly about adult performance, the sexual politics around it, the labor politics around it, and when those politics clash and support one another.

And who better to invite than Gender Studies professor Dr. Heather Berg and writer/comedian/porn maven Sovereign Syre! Heather is a brilliant mind and one of the most thoughtful Marxists I’ve ever met; she’s really pushed the needle for me on understanding and embracing Marxist discourse. Sovereign is

We talk

  • labor tactics developed by adult performers
  • Sov’s and my histories in adult
  • How vocal people are about watching or not watching porn
  • The benefits of the (extremely problematic) “gig economy”
  • On being compared to Colby Keller by dumb journalists
  • Why the sex in sex work matters in the “sex work is work” conversation
  • Whether or not porn is art (it is!)
  • Why our picture of patriarchy should be informed by porn and not merely informing us ABOUT porn
  • What the best tactics are for performers to thrive
  • Why “feminist porn” isn’t always good for workers
  • Heather and I trying to make Marx and Freud sync up

I love this conversation.

XO
CH

SHOW NOTES ARE HERE

Sex & The Occult: Conner Habib talks with Christian occultist and sexuality research Lisa Romero on AEWCH 68!

30 Apr

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Please pay for the podcasts you love, including this one. Thispodcast is always free and available to the public, but your supportis crucial to keep it going. If you find something of value on myshow, give back and support the many hours of free content I offerevery month for the price of a latte or cocktail or lunch.

Sign up for my Patreon today by clicking here. It’s quick, easy, and you get cool stuff in return.

AEWCH68 Title CardFriends,

So excited to finally be talking directly about sex and the occult on my show, and there’s no one I’d rather do that with than author and teacher, and Christian occultist Lisa Romero!

Lisa has written multiple (excellent) books on meditation and spiritual development, but the one that drew me to have her on for this episode was her excellent book, Sex Education and the Spirit: Understanding Our Communal Responsibility for the Healthy Development of Gender and Sexuality within Society. It’s a book that looks at sex and sexuality from a developmental perspective, but in a spiritual way, rather than from a materialistic perspective.This episode goes really deep and presupposes your ability to go on the magical mystery tour with us. But there are lots of insights to be had by the secular as well. I hope whatever your belief system is, you’ll stick with it.

We discuss:

  • what sex is, anyway, from a non-materialistic view, especially in the light of the evolution of consciousness.
  • how we all have individuated relationships to sex (and what that has to do with freedom).
  • the scientific definition of sex and why that matters now.
  • how sex and attraction get confusing when different aspects of our being get into conflict with each other.
  • why a Christian occultist approach to sex never takes the form of “don’t do this.”
  • how sexuality gives us the ability to transform our lives and bring our spiritual development forward.
  • the Catholic Church developing its response to sex in response to the Reformation.
  • the problems with the sex positive movement.
  • the four levels of attraction and how they relate to the subtle bodies.
  • displaced sex as a creative process.
  • what anthroposophists can learn from Freud and Lacan.
  • why masturbating men should hook themselves up to the power grid.
  • why Conner doesn’t do or care about “sex magic.”

Show notes are available here.

XO, CH

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We’re Here! We’re Queer! We’re On Against Everyone With Conner Habib! Me + Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore on the State Of Queer, 2019!

22 Jan
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Friends, 
At the opening of 2019, I’m reviewing the state of something in 2019: what’s on the scene now and what to look for in the coming year! This week, it’s the State Of Queer 109, and who better to talk about it with than one of the queerest people I know, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, author and editor of multiple queerer than queer books, including her new novel, Sketchtasy, her deeply moving memoir about abuse, The End of San Francisco, and the collection, That’s Revolting!: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation. Mattilda is also an outspoken activist, and the only person I know who legit looks like she could tie Adam West’s Batman to a buzzsaw and then go dancing afterward. She’s also written the most scathing film review I’ve ever read; a review that not only condemns the film, but mainstream gay culture in general.
Mattilda and I talk nostalgia, how people make “queer” an accoutrement rather than a radically felt and enacted principle, the trans military ban and why patriotism is the opposite of queerness, the generation of queers that grew up in AIDS culture but weren’t dying en masse from it, the naive celebration of Truvada for PrEP, why gay marriage is a compromised strategy(and honestly just kinda sucks), why you should never invite Mattilda to your wedding, masculinity and A Star Is Born, and more.
I wanted to go on and on with Mattilda, but we’ll talk and collaborate again for sure. For now, enjoy MBS & CH doing the State Of Queer 2019!
As always, you can get copious show notes here.
aewch57 title card

The State of Sexuality 2019: Dr. Chris Donaghue returns to AEWCH to set us, um, not straight.

15 Jan

 

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Friends!

My friend the sexologist, author, and radio show host Dr. Chris Donaghue is back on AEWCH as part of my “The State Of” series of AEWCH in January! At the opening of 2019, I’m reviewing the state of something in 2019: what’s on the scene now and what to look for in the coming year! I couldn’t think of anyone better to discuss the State Of Sexuality 2019 than Dr. Chris Donaghue! The episode comes right on the heels of the release of Chris’s new book Rebel Love: Break the Rules, Destroy Toxic Habits, and Have the Best Sex of Your Life which is the first good self help book on relationships to come out in…ever?

We talk about how academic jargon keeps people out of meaningful discussions, whether or not sexuality is political, the fourth wave of feminism and foursomes, looking back on sexual experiences with curiosity, how our identities intersect with our sexualities, how to talk about the political content of adult scenes without condemning the desires for it, desire shaming, why sex is everywhere and safe, why sex and porn addiction don’t exist, the benefits and problems of “body positivity”, the problems with “enthusiastic consent,” how to heal sexual assault and end it culturally, and more!

SHOW NOTES are here.

aewch56titlecard

How To Destroy The Patriarchy: Muslim feminist author and radical, Mona Eltahawy, on AEWCH 50, the best episode of AEWCH ever!

4 Dec

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(Note: AEWCH is and will continue to be free as a podcast going forward, but AEWCH 50 is the LAST episode available publicly on YouTube. If you want YouTube versions of the show, go to patreon.com/connerhabib and sign up at any level; you’ll get instant access!)

Friends,

On my favorite episode of AEWCH so far, I speak with feminist author and radical, Mona Eltahawy. Mona is the author of Headscarves and Hymens: Why The Middle East Needs A Sexual Revolution, a book which has shaken the Arab world, feminist discourse, and also, on a personal note, has changed my inner life. Mona articulates what patriarchy is — and why it is our urgent task to resist it — better than anyone I’ve ever read or spoken to. Even if you have some resistance to the term (*ahem* hello, bros), Mona will help you see why this framing is so important. .

Mona and I talk about:

  • our sexual assaults and how we recovered and transmuted them into action
  • what patriarchy is, exactly, and how it enables and protects power
  • why enthusiastic consent is a problem (and how our consent is violated every day)
  • the urgent and political task of pleasure
  • why masculinity is a desire and the Brett Kavanaugh meltdown, where white male rage comes from
  • the way white people (particularly white women) pathologize Muslims (particularly Muslim women) without confronting their own issues
  • what we can learn about consent from porn performers
  • why sex isn’t and is special and why a sexual revolution is so important
  • the “trifecta of patriarchy and misogyny”
  • why we need to reject monogamy as a default relationship structure
  • why we don’t have to say “everything is political” to fight bullshit
  • how patriarchy hurts men too

I am so excited and proud to share this episode with you.

Click here for SHOW NOTES, which are free and available to everyone.

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How did love change time and space? My conversation with historian and literary theorist Stephen Kern on the latest Against Everyone with Conner Habib!

25 Sep

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Friends,

If you don’t yet know historian, literary theorist, and interdisciplinary intellectual, Stephen Kern, I’m so excited to introduce you to him.

Stephen teaches at Ohio State University, and his books, including The Culture of Time and Space, 1880-1918 ,  A Cultural History of Causality: Science, Murder Novels, and Systems of Thought  and The Culture of Love: Victorians to Moderns, are wide-ranging explorations of history, especially in how it relates to concepts of time and space.

In this episode, we talk about psychology and phenomenology of time, how love has become more authentic and changed the experience of time, the vulgarity and beauty of Joyce and Ulysses, what Christianity has made available and closed off when it comes to intimacy, the struggles of the Victorian era, just how real the concepts of “modernist” and “romantic” and “Victorian” periods are, how pain and time are interconnected, why a reevaluation of time and space needs to be part of labor activism, and more!

I was alarmed to find that there weren’t many podcasts or interviews with Stephen available online (although he is known and respected in literary and historian and other academic communities) so I was determined to bring his work to a broader audience.

For show notes (this time there are LOTS of links to books!), click here.

XO
CH

SK

“…sex for money usually costs a lot less.” Maggie McNeill & I talk about sex workers’ rights on the latest AEWCH!

1 May
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My guest for AEWCH 28 is author, whore, and activist Maggie McNeill. On top of those qualifications, Maggie is an uncompromising and fierce thinker who gives me strength every day. Often, if I feel like I’m exhausted, faltering, or tired of the state sex workers’ rights, or cultural attitudes towards sex, I turn to Maggie’s twitter (which you really should follow), and am re-infused with my own sense of integrity.
We talk about how legalization vs decriminalization, sex work vs the state, the problem with enthusiastic consent, Stormy Daniels, SESTA/FOSTA, and more!

Me + Moshe Kasher talk about a lot of terrible things in a very funny way. It’s AEWCH 27!

24 Apr
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Friends, one of the reasons why I love this episode of Against Everyone with Conner Habib is pretty simple: I love talking with comedian and author Moshe Kasher. He’s one of those rare wide-ranging thinkers who is also warm, and very funny.
Moshe and I talk about doing drugs, what it’s like to belong nowhere, why comedians are not philosophers, growing up poor, how I defiled waffles as a teenager, why Call Me By Your Name is a horrible movie, Moshe getting off with gay dudes on the phone, how MeToo is partially a reflexive backlash to trans rights, and gurus.
You can get the show notes for the and every ep with links to further reading, films, images, and quotes by signing up for as little as a dollar per month.