Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Eiken: Ecchi Comes to the US Mainstream

Now appearing on my website is a review of Eiken, a Japanese anime of the type known as ecchi anime in the US. (In Japan, ecchi means the English letter H, which in the case of anime means hentai, adult anime, in other words, ecchi and hentai are synonyms.) In the US, ecchi means sexually-oriented anime aimed at teens -- no hardcore imagery, not really any softcore imagery, but the anime are typically about sex and nothing else, and typically include lots of events which look just like sex but aren't really sex at all, which deeply embarrass the eminently embarrassable male protagonists. Blushing virgins, every last friggin' one of them, with a penchant for winding up with their faces in women's crotches for perfectly innocent reasons.

Yah, I know. Makes no sense. But it's fun.

Anyways, for a long time ecchi have been available in the US on a 'those who know' basis, i.e., on sale at some video stores and online. But I haven't seem them on cable TV until I saw Eiken on the Encore Action Channel awhile ago. I thought it was a momentous enough moment to take note of. Not that anyone else has.

Check out my review, with caps proving just how naked and sexy Eiken and other ecchi can be, at this link.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dominance By Other Means

Bondage and Dominance and Politics

Clausewitz once said that, "Diplomacy is war conducted by other means." And in a like manner, politics is dominance conducted by other means.

Of course it's not SEXUAL dominance -- most of the time. But the human mind is not the tightly compartmentalized thing some people seem to think it is, and we are not all that far removed from the apes, and the political crowd that cheers their victory in an election isn't all that far removed from the chimpanzee that sexually mounts a subordinate chimpanzee after defeating it in a fight (a well-known dominance behavior of chimps).

In fact, the special vigor and enmity that generally characterizes political conflict has its origin in simple monkey dominance behavior rather than any other human characteristic. One group is seeking to impose its will on another, like it or not, though both groups mask their behavior in claims that they are simply trying to implement society as a whole. While this is true on one level, it's also true that monkeys are trying to mount other, unwilling monkeys on another level.

These behaviors generally manifest themselves in varying degrees, often in the same individuals. Who has not heard of the politician who is not all high-minded rhetoric in terms of his public utterances, but in private is a foul-mouthed goon?

(President Lyndon Baines Johnson would be the classic example: at one time, Johnson told his public affairs guy that he wanted him to start a rumor that Johnson's political opponent in a Texas election fucked pigs. "But he doesn't fuck pigs, sir!" responded the media guy. "I know that," said Johnson, "I just want to make him deny it.")

The central idea of this blog is that bondage and dominance behavior pervades American political and social culture (actually, it's worldwide, and much more prevalent in some countries than others (hello, Saudi Arabia!) and that the best way to deal with the influences of bondage and dominance behavior is not to ignore it or deny it, but deal with it from a position of understanding. (This is why traditional religious and cultural attempts to deal with the problems created by bondage and dominance behavior have been uniformly unsuccessful, since they are almost always based on ignorance and denial.)

I plan to make my point by showing how the mainstream culture perceives and deal with dominance issues and imagery, as a way of understanding its attitudes, and I hope to suggest some ways we can created a better, healthier culture through understanding of this behavior.

For the record, I am not arguing FOR bondage and dominance behavior in politics and some aspects of culture -- I'm against it, it tends to get in the way of maximizing human potential and freedom. I just think there are some better ways to do things than the way we are doing them now.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Saving Grace's Envelope-ripping bondage scene

"Saving Grace" is an FX Network TV series that stars Holly Hunter as a hard-living police detective who drinks hard, parties hard, and in a certain episode, winds up cuffed naked to her own bed while being sexed up by an one-night-stand pickup, much to her delight. Normally TV and many movies use a lot of tricks to make such scenes less fun to watch -- dim lights, quick cutting, camera angles that show you a lot of pillow and not much flesh, that sort of thing. Not so "Saving Grace.

Check out this article illustrated with caps from the episode and also images from comparable scenes from "Law and Order SVU," "Birthday Girl" and "Spun."

Wonder Woman's Bondage Secrets

Practically everybody knows that in her early days, Wonder Woman was a major lesbian bondage babe. She was into the tying up. She was into the being tied up. And so were ALL the women on Paradise Island. No men to tie them up, so whatcha-gonna-do? Rather than just repeat this bit of rather stale news, I've written an article that digs deeper -- looks at how she became a lesbian bondagette, the conditions that let her creators get away with what is undoubtedly the most blatant lesbian bondage theme in the history of comics prior to the 1990s and maybe just plain ever. I also take a look at Wonder Woman's bondage competitors and wrote a treatment for story about a visit by Wonder Woman and Batman to Transformation Island (where Wonder Woman and her pals reform female criminals through the magic of loving domination and lots of chains. (This is canon, folks -- really!)

The article has tons of illustration (I'm going to eschew illustration in my blog, keeping things clean, y'know.

Here's a link to the Wonder Woman article.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

What do conservatives mean by "personal responsibility"?

What do conservatives really mean by "personal responsibiity"?

Most of the time when they use the phrase, they're attempting to shift blame from something done by corporations or large, conservative groups to that of regular folks. I'll give you three examples:

1) Some conservatives have attempted to shift the blame for the Catholic Church's absolutely disgraceful conduct wrt to the African aids epidemic (claiming condoms don't prevent AIDS and other irresponsible crap) by claiming the Africans should take personal responsibility for their sexual conduct.

2) Various conservatives have tried to shift attention away from the credit card companies' usurious rates and bad lending practices (the real reason for the bankruptcy bill passed in Congress a few years ago) by saying that people who are guilty of poor financial decision-making should take personal responsibility for their financial affairs.

3) In the case of abortion, social conservatives say that women should take personal responsibility for their sexual behavior, ignoring the fact that having an abortion might be one form of taking personal responsibility.

In each and every case the implication seems to be that if you take any consideration of the influence of social, political or economic forces on a person, you're absolving them of all personal responsibility for their situation.

And the implication ALSO seems to be that, having assigned personal responsibility for a problem to people, we need no longer be concerned with their welfare, and can leave them at the mercy of predatory corporations, large, uncaring organizations and religious zealots with a clear conscience.

Now, my concept of personal responsibility is somewhat different, so I thought I'd explain it, since I don't get anything LIKE the same meaning out of "personal responsibility" that conservatives do.

Let's say I overeat and sit around a lot and get overweight (weight is another topic that brings out the "personal responsibility" birds). It's my personal responsibility to do what I have to do to get that weight off if I want to enjoy the health benefits associated with weight loss. No one else can do it for me.

Or let's say I have money problems. It's my responsibility to deal with them, to the extent that I am able. (Obviously if I am having money problems because I am paralyzed from the neck down, my responsibility to deal with those problems is not there because of diminished capacity.) But if I'm having problems because I've lost my job, it's my responsibility to go out and knock over a few convenience stores (or, alternatively, find another job). If I'm having problems because I don't know how to manage my money, it's my responsibility to get better at managing my money.

If I go out and have sex with lots of people, it's my responsibility to make sure that I don't get or give anybody any sexually-transmitted diseases. And that I don't get or make anyone pregnant unintentionally. If I DO get a disease, it's my responsibility to deal with it as best I can. Same with pregnancy.

I suspect that most conservatives are with me on these views, but here is where I believe I part company with them.

I do NOT believe that just because people have to be personally responsible for taking care of themselves, that every scum-sucking corporate greedhead, every fiery-eyed, hateful religious zealot, every uncaring plutocrat is therefore absolved of all responsibility for the actions of their organizations, corporations and minions on society.

I think it is perfectly acceptable and all right to examine ways in which society can be organized so that human suffering is minimized and human growth and opportunity are maximized.

I don't think letting greedy credit card corporations make it harder for regular folks to declare bankruptcy in a time when the credit card companies are making record profits is a good idea. Negotiating the economic minefield is your personal responsibility, but that doesn't mean we should go crazy in letting corporations lay out the mines.

I don't think restricting a woman's freedom to choose how to deal with pregnancy is society's provenance. It's a woman's personal responsibility to deal with pregnancy, let her be the ones to choose the options, not religious zealots.

I think it is an overweight person's responsiblity to lose weight or deal with the consequences of being overweight, but I have no problem with considering the factors that might make them overweight, other than overeating and lack of exercise. I have no problem with looking at things that might make it easier for them to lose weight, other than condemning them as lazy and piggish. If there were a pill that could allow people to lose weight without effort, I'd have no problem with it.

(In fact, I think the main reasons Americans are overweight as a group is not some tremendous lack of energy and self-control, but the fact that we all drive to work rather than walking or cycling there, and while we're there we park our butts in chairs all day, and we eat lots of food. We COULD exercise at the end of the workday, and some of us do, but asking people to put in a hard workout at the end of the workday is actually a pretty extraordinary thing to ask people to do, especially people with families, and most don't do it.)

I think conservatives and libertarians don't share these notions, otherwise they wouldn't be constantly crying "personal responsibility" whenever some attempt is made to curtail the efforts of some vile corporation or group, or when people otherwise try to make society work better for people.

I could be wrong, though. For example, I think many conservatives and libertarians think I don't believe in any concept of personal responsibility. I hope I have made it clear that I do. I just think there's such a thing as social responsibility, and organizational responsibility, too. I get the impression that conservatives think that by invoking "personal responsibility" they absolve society of all need for social and organizational responsibility. I hereby put conservatives on notice: that flag won't fly around here.