Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Latest "Ex-Slut" Fundie Ministry Con: Female Masturbation "Addiction"

Updated below....scroll down to bottom.

[Yes, I know....it's been quite a while since I last posted here...too much work and not enough time.  I'm doing my best to make up for lost time...so just bear with me.]

Well, Masturbation Month is with us once again....that month of the year where all  us sexual beings give tribute to the joy of self love and self gratification.

Now, some would wonder why we need 31 days of a year to celebrate an act that we take for granted all year long. I mean, Black folks didn't make history only in Feburary, so why only have Black History Month?

And...it's not as if we need any more excuses to put our hands down and in our pants and/or panties, do we??

On the other hand, though, it is nice to be reminded about the beauty and simplicity of playing with one's self.....or, if you are really lucky, playing with a appreciative lover.

And it's especially so when you have forces who would want to deny you that right to determing your own sexual self-pleasure through guilt-tripping and cracked theories of "sex addiction".

Usually, it is men who have been the primary targets of such antisexual campaigns of shaming and repression...whether it be through the radicalfeminist rhetoric of "male feminists" like John Stoltenberg and Robert Jensen, or the more traditional fundamentalist rhetoric of folk like W.K. Kellogg,  Ted Haggard, and Jimmy Swaggart (the latter two's issues with their own sexuality aside, of course).

But now it seems that the Religious Right (and I'm sure their colleagues on the antiporn feminist side will soon follow) have discovered a new vehicle for the special brand of sex policing and sexual shaming: female sexual "addiction" via masturbation.

Now, the concept of "sex addiction" as a "disease" to be cured through prayer and "self-control" has been with us for about as long as people have been fingering themselves. And, there is no doubt that there are a few who do feel out of control about the struggle between their conservative personal beliefs about sexuality and the throbbing call between their thighs.

However, the very meaning of "sex addiction" has been mostly bastardized by certain authorities from its original meaning of chronic, uncontrolable, and hazardous sexual behavior that directly threatens harm to one's self and others, to simply condemn any sexual activity that doesn't match their particular politically correct standards. In short, it is mostly a tool to shame people back into fear and loathing of their own sexual selves and to enforce the repressive and reactionary sexual order.

While the so-called "ex-gay" ministries targeting male homosexuality is the most prominent example of how "sex addiction" theory is misused to enforce sexual fascism, a more recent development has come in to target young women whom have taken advantage of technology and the sexual liberalization of the 1990s to get more in touch with their bodies.

I refer to this movement as the "ex-slut" ministries because it relies and thrives on the common creed that women who are more open and honest and accepting of their sexuality should be condemned as simply "sluts" who enable male rapists, destroy families, poision Western civilization, spread diseases, and do all other kinds of evil offense to "God" and country.

The primary target of the "ex-slut" ministries are mostly young women or adolescent girls who get into sex indirectly through watching or downloading porn, or even young women who are in porn who feel alienated by some of the industry's more sleazy practices.

Shelley Lubben's Pink Cross Foundation is a prime example of the "ex-slut"  ministry that uses former porn performers (including Lubben herself) turned "born again" to push the message of sexual denial and salvation through sexual denial and repudiation.

 But that only targets the porn industry...for the broader public, a different approach is needed...and here is where the theory of "female porn/masturbation addiction" comes in.

And...where we meet Crystal Renaud and the "Victory Over Porn Addiction" group she oversees for her local megachurch, the Westside Family Church in Lenexa, Kansas.

Ms. Renaud, according to an article recently published in the New York Times, provides counseling both online and physically for young girls supposedly wanting to break their "addiction" to porn (and to other evil non-Godly acts such as masturbation, too) through the usual means of religious lecturing healing, plenty of prayer.....and, it seems, popping balloons. Some snippage from the NYT article:


To the wide array of programs offered by evangelical megachurches like Westside, the group adds what Ms. Renaud says is something long overdue. While churches have addressed pornography use among the men in their congregations and among the clergy, a group for women who say they are addicted to pornography is new territory, she said. 

“In the Christian culture, women are supposed to be the nonsexual ones,” said Ms. Renaud, who also runs an Internet site called Dirty Girls Ministries, choosing the name to attract people searching for pornography. “It’s an injustice that the church is not more open about physical sexuality. God created sex. But the enemy has twisted it.”

Of course, the "physical sexuality" that Ms. Renaud wants to support is reduced to women making lots of babies within "traditional families" for the glory of "God" and "Jesus Christ", with everything else reduced to being a tool of "the enemy" (the Devil?? Osama bin Laden?? Planned Parenthood?? President Barack Obama??)

Obviously, you need some credibility as an "ex-slut"/"porn addict" to effectively sell an "ex-slut" ministry...and Ms. Renaud has plenty of that:


Ms. Renaud, who is taking a DVD course in sexual addiction counseling from the American Association of Christian Counselors, said she started the group and the Web site based on her own experiences. She became interested in pornography at age 10 after finding a magazine in her brother’s bathroom. After that, she said, “I wasn’t able to get enough of it.” 

“At school I wanted to go home and look at it more,” she said. “Then I went online. I’d stay late at the library to look at it. Eventually I got into masturbation, phone sex, cybersex.” She also cracked the code on the family’s satellite television service, she said. “That was my life for eight years.” Then, she said, she met a Christian woman who helped her stop.

Of course, this begs the question of how a 12 year old was able to crack the codes of the local library's porn filters (and remember, this is Kansas, not exactly a liberal state when it comes to sexual expression) and look at all kinds of porn without at least some authority catching her; or get into phone sex and cybersex without the inevitable credit card charges showing up; OR how she was able to crack through her parents' satellite code so easily to access all that Spice/Vivid/Playboy/HOTT Network (or maybe just Skinemax/Blowtime softcore??) porn without her parents or the satellite company outing her.  But I guess that all that is moot once you are "saved", right??

But this isn't to challenge Ms. Renaud's personal experiences and feelings, since she probably did feel out of control and in need of Christian counseling to "save" her. That's her right, and so is her right to form groups to counsel others who may feel as she does about being "addicted" to porn and masturbating too much.

The real issue comes when she and her ministry extrapolates her personal experiences to emasculate the experiences of others who don't feel so threatened by masturbation and porn, and uses their group to directly assault people who don't think like them. Which is where we get to an old friend called XXXChurch.com.

You may remember them as the group that ends up at every porn convention, whether AEE, Adultcon, XXXotica, XRCO, or whatever, attempting to recruit new members to sell their beliefs that porn is the absolute devil?? Well, guess who Ms. Renaud uses as a model for her own organization?? Again, quotiing the NYT piece:


In May she plans to attend a three-day seminar in Las Vegas called Launch 501c3, for Christians who want to start nonprofit organizations. The founder of Launch 501c3 is Craig Gross, a youth pastor who in 2002 helped start a Web site called XXX Church, one of the first ministries for pornography users. For Ms. Renaud, XXX Church is a model for building her ministry.

After a cool reception in the early years, 200,000 to 250,000 unique visitors now view XXX Church’s site each month, and its free Internet monitoring software, X3, is downloaded 500 times a day. And Mr. Gross and others in the group have paid speaking engagements most weekends. A 30-day online workshop sells 100 copies a month, at $99 each, Mr. Gross said. About 20 percent of the buyers have been women, he said.

Michelle Truax, the event planner for Fireproof Ministries, which includes XXX Church, said that when churches asked for programs directed at men, she suggested that they also consider programs for women.

But Mr. Gross said: “The problem is, most churches have male leadership, and if you want to pitch an event like that, they’ll say, ‘Our women don’t struggle with that.’ This is going to be the next wave, but you’re going to get a lot of blank stares. ‘Really? Come on, this isn’t a big deal.’ ”

And now we get to what is called "the money graph".

The programs at Ms. Renaud’s group and at XXX Church diverge from secular sexual theory by treating masturbation and arousal as sins rather than elements of healthy sexuality. Emphasis is on recovering “sexual purity,” in which thoughts of sex outside marriage are illicit. 

Hmmmmmm. You wouldn't think that, if you read all the free pub that XXXChurch.com gets from porn message boards and gossip sites like Lukeisback.com; you'd think that people like Craig Gross were simply just plain folks concerned about the darker side of porn and sexuality, expressing their free speech rights. Especially since every attempt by those who know them to expose their true agenda is met with stern lectures of "you're CENSORING them!!!"

Similarly, I'm betting that all those on the Lukeisback site forums who defend The "Reverend" Shelley Lubben and her Pink Cross ministry as merely people concerned about the social welfare of female performers would probably slide over her rhetoric of calling performers who don't cross over to her side as "diseased", or practicing such statistics as how "90% of all performers have STD's" or "most performers take drugs to get through their degrading scenes". It's a wonder that Lubben hasn't put her organization squarely behind Ms. Renaud's efforts...although, considering her current alliance with AHF director Micheal Weinstein to impose mandatory condom usage within the porn industry, perhaps it wouldn't be so politically viable to be seen with fundamentalist anti-masturbation (and openly anti-gay) activists. At least, not in public.

So...what does all this have to do with National Masturbation Month?? Plenty.

Because, those of us who defend the right of women and men to freely enjoy and participate in consensual adult activities without fear of harm or censure need to understand the mentality of those who are in opposition to that key principle. You know, that "know your enemy in order to defeat it" thing.

Once again, this is not to deny that people can get a bit too excited with masturbation, and can even take it to some major extremes to the point of actual harm. But, the overall benefits of masturbation as a tool of self-sexual discovery (and simply being a fun and relatively safe way to pass the time) more than outweighs any potential harm...and reasonable people can learn to respect the rights of others and practice self-love/self-lust safely.

Most importantly, especially now with women's autonomy and their reproductive freedoms under such harsh attack these days, it is even more vital to loudly and unabashedly defend her right to determine her own sexuality and her right to be a free and conscious sexual being. Standing up to sexual bigots who would deny women and young girls (and boys) that right and shame them for simply acting on their sexual thoughts and desires isn't just an act of defiance; it's essential to basic human rights.  If they can control how or when you have an orgasm, what's to prevent them from controlling every other aspect of your life??

Screw the additionologists and the fearmongers and the fundie/radfem deniers, I say....pleasure is still good for you, and sex with someone you love (or simply lust after) is still pretty damn nice. Even if that someone is your own damn self. I'll take a "slut" who cums early, often, and on her own terms, and doesn't mind tickling her clit twice a day because she feels like it,  over some self-denying "expert" any day of the week. And, I'll jerk off when i damn well please when I feel like it.

And if you don't get what I am saying, Mr. or Ms. Addictionologist, I'll make it explicit with a picture:




 [Pics of Vicky Vette doing her part for self pleasure courtesy of VickyatHome.com]


Update (5-5-10):  Seems like I'm not the only one willing to call out Dirty Girls Ministries on their nonsense. "Porn for Women" advocate Ms. Naughty decided to unleash her own brand of fury towards Cynthia Renaud's brand of slut shaming additionology this morn at her blog, and it packs a punch. Snippage:


Fact is, plenty of people can look at porn, enjoy it and then get on with their life. They can happily make use of it as a tool in their sex lives, just like a vibrator. And then it’s put away and done with. Most people are also able to make critical judgements about what they’re watching, decide if it’s good or bad, and make decisions about where porn belongs in their life.

There are some people, however, who can’t do this thanks to their obsessive personalities. Those people should be seeing qualified counsellors to get their life back together. They absolutely should NOT be handed over to religious nutjobs who make the situation worse by inculculating the victim with further guilt and shame… and then extract cash for the privilege.

This is why the regular use of the term “porn addiction” (and “sex addiction”) is so troubling. It’s actually part of the religious right’s wider anti-sex agenda. They’re opposed to porn and they will use any devious means necessary to get rid of it. The usual arguments about “sin” started to fall on deaf ears so they began to couch it in medical terms, in an attempt to garner support for bans.


Thus you end up with Judith Reisman telling the US senate that porn produces poisonous “erototoxins” that damage the brain. According to Wikipedia, Reisman defined “erototoxins” as being the natural chemicals and hormones testosterone, adrenaline, oxytocin, glucose, dopamine, serotonin, and phenylethylamine.

That’s right. These people actually think testosterone and the pleasure-producing chemicals serotonin and oxytocin are harmful. They also push the idea that masturbation is sinful and addictive because, according to the X3pure website: “Studies have shown that ninety-nine percent of all masturbation involves lust and mental fantasy*, which disconnects you from real relationships with real people. Despite these difficulties, masturbation can be conquered. If your desire is to change, God can heal and bring restoration.”

And these fundamentalists will keep pushing their message that all porn and pleasure is dangerous because it is ultimately gets more people through the doors of their church and paying 10% tithes into the church coffers.

 By all means, read the full essay and get some real education from someone who GETS IT.

Oh...and while you are there, make sure you read Ms. Naughty's latest, where she dissects Naomi Wolf's latest attempt at porn bashing and sex shaming in the name of "feminism". Damn good stuff..even if you might not be a fan of "porn for women".



No comments: