Monday, January 30, 2017

Seeking Diplomacy in a Culture of Exploitation

Hypothetically speaking, let's say you take a nude photo of yourself with your cell phone. You have no intention of sharing it with anyone else - you were just fooling around. Now let's say somebody picks up your cell phone, stumbles onto that photo, and posts it to an internet forum without your knowledge (or does so digitally, by hacking into your phone). Or, alternatively, suppose the one person you wanted to see the photo turns around and breaks your confidence and shows somebody else (as it is human nature to want to share something like this).

Now, this is unambiguously a violation of your privacy - and in the latter case, your trust. But - to what extent is a third party viewing that photo morally culpable for that crime, and does it depend on whether that party knows, or has a reasonable expectation of knowing, or exerts a reasonable effort to find out, that there is a not-insubstantial possibility that the picture was stolen and shared without the subject's consent? And - given that this is often difficult to determine - if the third party is to be considered in some way responsible, then how does one justify browsing the proliferation of porn on the internet, both amateur and commercial (the latter of which is itself not always free from abuse)?

Can we simply condemn the whole of internet pornography (or pornography in general), and label its consumers as well as its producers contributors to an immoral trade in humiliation and degradation? Knowing that some percentage of it is indeed shared in confidence (a fact that can be proven by the existence of my work alone), and believing in the virtues of an open forum for sexual expression (a point of view that is too easily overlooked), I cannot accept this as a fair conclusion. Whatever the proportions involved, this is a case of bad apples spoiling the bunch, and I do not believe that removing apples from our diet is any kind of a solution.

To justify this position, I feel inclined to perform a cost-benefit analysis. To me, it seems that most perverts are innocuous. They don't want to harm you. They don't want to track you down. (And, for what it's worth, this is even more true when those pictures are being circulated by complete strangers). They bear you no ill will. The worst they'll do is harass you with arguably inappropriate comments (which, incidentally, can be avoided by utilizing that middle man distributor). All they really want is to have their short moment of fantasy, and is that so bad?

It's the people who want to punish you, not thank you, for taking that picture in the first place that are going to cause you problems - I guarantee it. Yet we tend to focus on the perverts who want to look - making them out to be the bad guys - and not the bullies, the arbiters of social justice, who actively contribute to ruining people's lives (in all actuality, punishing the victim) when this happens. I mean, the only reason "revenge porn" is even a thing, and has any potency, is because we love to blame the victim, and shame people (but especially women) for any evidence of their involvement (let alone enjoyment) in an activity most of us, as human beings, engage in - sex.

None of this displaces blame from the actual thieves themselves - the ones opening the curtains on unsuspecting innocents so that the world can peek in. I'm not saying, "it's harmless, honey, just let them have their fun". But as for the extent to which your average Joe wanker is responsible for the pain and suffering incurred by anyone's unexpected porn stardom, it's a mitigating factor. You can't condemn the desire to look just because some (maybe even many) unscrupulous individuals are motivated by it to commit crimes. The best thing we could do is produce a "fair trade" market for pornography (assuming "pornography" encompasses everything including half dressed shots of people standing in their bedrooms in their underwear - a potentially dangerous precedent, considering that we see more than that on billboards and television every day), consisting only of media that has been verified to have been shared with the consent of the subject(s).

But, while I support this practice - and to that end, I hereby state that any of the nude and erotic pictures I've shared online (identified by my watermark "(c) zharth" or "zharth's photography") have been shared with my consent as the subject of those photos - I must caution that it can only ever be a half-measure at best, lest we begin to expect model consent forms to accompany the sharing of all images (as the unwieldy 2257 Regulations attempt to do), which has the very real effect of chilling speech, as well as eliminating the expansive breadth of media that already exists and cannot be identified and verified. Furthermore, considering the vast diversity of human interests, a reduction of the entire viewing gallery to only consciously produced "fair trade" images would vastly limit anyone's ability to fulfill the goal of finding what they like. Which is just what the moral conservatives - those who think you're destroying your soul by looking at porn, and that you need to be protected from yourself - want.

Now, maybe there's a culture of abuse out there to some extent. Maybe men could stand to understand a little better what it's like being a woman in this culture, and take a kinder, more sensitive approach in their never-ending hunt for sexual satisfaction. I'm not disregarding these arguments. I'm pro-reform. I just don't support wholescale prohibition as a solution, because it ignores the human value in voyeurism, and the very existence of exhibitionists (who enjoy being looked at), while glossing over a much more tenable solution to the problem of "exploitation" - focusing on the importance of voluntary labor, consensual contracts, and fair compensation. But then, this argument is never framed in terms of logistical concerns, but rather moral ones. Because, for some reason, the state has a compelling interest in what you do with your body.

I'm seeking diplomacy here - in the hopes of making a compromise (a peace treaty, if you will) between what at times appears to be two opposing factions in the war of the sexes. Men are not simply evil pigs intent on subjugating women for the sake of their sexual fantasies, and women are not entirely unaffected by the sexual attention that men inevitably direct at them. By not accepting these two premises simultaneously, we are simply creating echo chambers which result in the creation of caricatures of the angry feminist and the patriarchal overlord - two sides of the same coin - that help no one and only serve to draw the conflict out. Can't we come together at the table to discuss these issues civilly, by talking to each other, and not at each other, valuing each side's perspective and needs and concerns? I'm here. I'm willing to have this discussion. How about you?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Just Around The Corner

Inspired by true accounts, lol.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Genderbread Person

In honor of the "Genderbread Person" - a fabulous visual aid that illustrates the nuances between sex, gender (identity and expression) and orientation - and in light of the fact that I always have difficulty labeling myself using the standard terms on forms and social networking profiles, plus the fact that I (apparently) enjoy talking about myself (also: organizing concepts), I'd like to take a moment to really dive in to my own self-expressed identity as it relates to these important fields.

1. Sex (a.k.a. Physical/Biological/Anatomical Sex)

Sex is a fact about people's bodies. It's not about how you feel, but the nature of the body you're in. That doesn't mean it's always straightforward, but in my case, I don't think I can get around the fact that my sex is male. I have a penis. (Yes, it's rude to ask people about their genitals. No, I don't mind - as long as you're just curious and not looking for a reason to discriminate against me. I'm a nude model on the internet; I make no effort to hide what's in my pants/under my skirt). I suspect that I may have low testosterone, as I possess some feminine characteristics, but I still basically have a man's body - broad shoulders, narrow hips, and large feet (I say that because it's impossible to find women's shoes in my size, lol).

2. Identity (a.k.a. Psychological/Mental Gender)

I identify with femininity. I don't know if that makes me a girl "inside" or what. It's hard to consider myself a "legitimate" girl when I've grown up most of my life assuming I was a boy because of my anatomy. There are some feminine things that I'll never "get" - like what the big deal is about babies, or what it feels like to have a vagina, or a period for that matter (can't say I'm missing that one). And I have some masculine hobbies - like my taste in music, for one thing. That prevents me from feeling 100% female.

And I know, few females probably feel 100% female, but when you're born that way, you get to take it for granted; the rest of us have to work for it. But I've never identified with masculinity either. I'm not macho. I'm not strong. I'm not competitive. I'm very sensitive, and soft-spoken. Maybe in a post-gender world I could just be me without worrying about labeling myself. But in this world I associate more with the female label than the male label on most days. Especially taking into consideration the next item.

3. Expression (a.k.a. Gender Presentation)

As this one is less defined by factors outside of your control, and something you can consciously manipulate, I tend to go from one end of the spectrum to the other more freely. Most of my life I've identified as cis-gendered and presented as male without a second thought - although even then there had been times when people mistook me for a girl. But more recently, as I've begun to consider possibilities alternative to the one I was born and raised into, I've been exploring my feminine side.

These days, I present as female almost exclusively (I don't go out of my way, but I do buy nearly all my clothes in the women's department, for what that's worth), albeit with the caveat that I don't dress like a drag queen (at least not most of the time)* - so often the combination of my wardrobe (girly casual) and the fact that I don't wear a lot of makeup (I've always preferred a more natural approach) means that whether I get "gendered" as male or female depends a lot on random factors (which, unfortunately, makes the issue of choosing a public restroom even more stressful for me).

It's worth mentioning, however, that masculine visual cues do nothing for me, and I derive great pleasure from dressing myself up and seeing myself (in the mirror) as female.

*Not that I wouldn't enjoy going all "femme fatale", but ironically the more feminine outfits I own tend to emphasize the parts of me that are obviously not female. A man can absolutely wear a slinky dress, but it's not going to accentuate his bust and hips so much as his shoulders and the bulge in his crotch...

4. Attraction (a.k.a. Sexual/Romantic Orientation)

My sexual orientation is a whole lot more straightforward than my gender, or even my sex (because there is some hormonal ambiguity, and I can actually pull off being mistaken for a woman while nude, under the right circumstances). However, it's hard for me to label, because most of the terms we have for sexual orientation presuppose the subject as well as the target's sex/gender (depending on what you're going by).

Simply put, I'm attracted to girls. Very much. I'm tolerant, and open-minded, and willing to experiment if the right person came along; but I also have strong preferences, and it would be doing a disservice (to me, as well as to anyone who hits on me - including the scores of gay/bi-curious guys that I'm just not that into) not to acknowledge them.

If I had to choose a label, I'd pick "gynesexual" (attracted to females or femaleness), because calling myself "straight" doesn't accurately reflect my non-traditional gender (or my orientation when I'm passing as female), and I don't think I'd qualify for the official designation of "lesbian" (especially with that big ol' "M" on my ID). "Attracted to girls" is really the best way to put it - it says everything it needs to say, and nothing more -  but you'll notice that that's never an option.

Note: Some people make a distinction between sexual and romantic attraction, but for me they're pretty well-aligned, so it's not a big deal. If anything, I might be more inclined to have a purely physical experience with a guy (if he's beautiful enough) as a form of "experimentation", but I have very little interest (even some aversion) to the idea of romance with one.

Similarly, some people make a distinction between the sex and the gender they're attracted to (often indicating that one isn't as important as the other). Again, my preferences are aligned, as I prefer the female sex and gender. I'm not trying to be exclusionary - these are just my preferences. I've seen attractive transwomen (and I'm not afraid to admit it), and I wouldn't discriminate against someone on account of their anatomy (preference or not, penises are very user-friendly).

But I, personally, enjoy the sexual coupling of penises with vaginas - and I happen to have a penis. That doesn't make me intolerant. If I had a vagina myself, it's possible that I'd be more interested in penises. I guess you could say that I'm sexually straight and romantically gay (since the idea of a woman-woman relationship appeals to me). Which is why the perfect setup for me would be a relationship with a girly girl who's attracted to girly boys with penises. But "perfect" is a huge word, and encompasses all kinds of niggling stipulations.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Statutory Rape

This concept seems to elude a lot of people, but the literal breakdown of the phrase "statutory rape" yields "rape by statute" - which is to say, rape as determined by statute (not sexual violation by a legal document). The implication is that this is "rape in name only". If it was literally rape, then it would just be rape. But it's not. It's statutory rape. Being that the term "rape" refers to a sexual act conducted in violation of the victim's consent, statutory rape is applied in cases of consensual sex where one or more of the participants' consent is simply not recognized by the state - technically, making it rape. This is obviously not as bad as actual rape. Technical rape only exists so that we can tell certain people that they aren't allowed to have sex (for better or worse). It has nothing to do with what those people actually want.

Now, the inevitable fallout of claiming that "statutory rape is a consensual crime" is moral outrage. People will say, "but sex is inherently damaging to kids!" But we're not talking about "child sexual abuse" here. If statutory rape was child sexual abuse, then it would be called child sexual abuse (although there are zealots out there who would like to see this happen), and there would be no statutory rape anymore. But the concept exists because it describes a distinct phenomenon - one where actual consent (as opposed to legal consent) is present. And what about these things called Romeo and Juliet exceptions? Kids of a certain age (i.e., the age of sexual maturity, not to be confused with the legal age of consent) are in some cases explicitly permitted to have sex. Their "dating" pool is just restricted to their own age range.

So let's not pretend that nature gave nubile teens raging hormones knowing that it would destroy their minds and bodies, as opposed to, you know, contributing to the propagation of the species. Statutory rape exists for two reasons - to give a youth's parents legal recourse to pressure and punish them and their peers on the subject of becoming sexually active (because we live in a very judgmental, moralist culture); and, hopefully more importantly, to protect them from the possibility of coercion, exploitation, and abuse (none of which is guaranteed as a matter of course) by more experienced authority figures. Does the concept of statutory rape serve an important role in society? Is its inclusion on the law books justified? Quite possibly. But please, when we talk about this, let's not forget the very real difference between legal consent and actual consent. Because, whatever your agenda may be, I agree with Kinsey et al., who once said "that the happiness of individual men, and the good of the total social organization, is [never] furthered by the perpetuation of ignorance."

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sexual Agency

As a sex-positive, I don't like the idea that sexual stimulation is fundamentally Wrong (with a capital 'W') under certain categorical contexts, even where all participants would disagree with such a judgment. If two (or more) people go into a bedroom of their own volition, fool around in private (without violating the bounds of a mutually agreed upon exclusive commitment), are safe, responsible, and decent to each other, and do not regret what they have done (absent external influences applied after the fact), then in my mind, they have done nothing wrong. Doesn't matter the sexes involved, the races, the positions, the number of participants, the familial connections, or the ages. The individual is the ultimate arbiter of their own sexual agency - not the government or society. The individual makes the decision - the government and society exist only to educate the individual about their options.

Now, to be fair, I don't have a problem with placing (reasonable) restrictions on specific types of sex acts - like unprotected sex, either physically or psychologically "extreme" sex, or procreative sex. People should have the privilege to choose to engage in these activities if they desire it and are of a sufficiently sound mind and body. In a completely liberated world, everyone would have the freedom to destroy themselves (but not others, without consent) sexually. But I recognize that the state has an interest in protecting people from their own stupidity (to a certain point). Failure to mitigate the spread of disease, or the risk of unprepared (whether planned or not) pregnancy, as well as coercion and physical or psychological abuse, should all be prosecuted on the word of the victim (with all the defenses of democracy in place), in a culture that encourages open conversation, and does not shame people into keeping silent about their sexual misadventures.

I just don't believe that some people should be allowed to have all kinds of sex without discrimination, and others none - that it's a binary step function, as opposed to a dimmer switch. I believe that we all should be subject to the same reasonable rules and protections. Not everyone is (physically or mentally) capable of engaging in all varieties of sex acts. But there is not a person alive who can experience sexual desire that does not have the right to some form of stimulation. And because they have this right, we owe them an education, so that they may navigate their feelings and desires, and wield their agency safely and responsibly. It is not our role to withhold information in the vain hope of keeping people from the threshold of sexual activity. It is our duty to give them the knowledge they need, so that they will be prepared whenever they decide to cross it.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

I mentioned I was a nudist...

...didn't I?

Spontaneously inspired by a clever and thought-provoking image that can be found here. I like how it demonstrates the sexist double standard by which naked women are generally viewed more positively than naked men. I also noted, for what it's worth, the fact that when dressed, the woman is exposing a lot more skin than the man. Additionally, both figures are clearly drawn to be young and trim and (therefore) generally attractive, which ties in to the issue of using models (versus real people) to advertise nudism. A picture speaks a thousand words, indeed.

Monday, January 16, 2017


You might believe that I became a model because I am reasonably attractive. And that might be true - because I likely wouldn't have gotten the encouragement I needed if I wasn't. But it's also true that I never thought of myself as attractive until I became a model, and realized how many other people thought that way about me. I don't have an over-inflated sense of my own appearance. As a photographer, I know the tricks that go into creating beautiful portraits. I think I look goofy in spontaneous snapshots just like everybody else. But I'm not interested in selling myself short, either. Our commercialist culture exerts way too much effort - and is way too invested - into making people feel inadequate. I'm not perfect. I have "bad hair days". And there are things about my body that I don't like. But if I believe that I am beautiful, that's not just narcissism talking. It's a positive assessment of the facts.

"I know what I look like.
What's wrong with that, anyway?"

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Best of 2016

Happy Friday the 13th! If you're superstitious, take this into consideration: today I'm unveiling the photographic highlights of the past year, on my home site as usual (Part A and Part B). Not so bad, eh? I think I'll let the photos speak for themselves - except to say that, as ever, my skills are improving as I continue to put more and more experience under my belt. Looking back, I usually use this post to summarize my accomplishments from the year, present a statement of my current web presence, and speculate about what's to come in the future. I feel like keeping this relatively short.

As it has been for several years now (since I left flickr), this here blog is the front line for my photography and essays, so if you're reading this, I'd like to commend you for being ahead of the pack. I'm also still posting selfies over at tumblr ("the place for porn") - they may be a year or two old, but many of them haven't been posted anywhere else. And for my hornier fans, my amateur profile on XTube is still live. Although explicit pornography continues to be not my first priority, the video content you can see there (for a modest price) is unlike anything you'll find anywhere else (except, maybe, the occasional video here on this blog).

That's all you really need to know at this time. I've got a profile over at deviantART, too, but I have to be honest, the immaturity that pervades the forums is spoiling my enthusiasm for the site, and I haven't posted anything in months. Looking ahead to the future, only the crystal ball knows what's in store, but as I've alluded to recently, I'm hungry to try something new. I'm also becoming more and more eager to cross over into some kind of "mainstream" exposure, but it remains difficult to navigate the controversial themes that inspire me to pick up the camera in the first place. Stay tuned as that story continues to unfold.

Thursday, January 12, 2017


Disclaimer: I'm not actually a ballerina.
I just play one in my fantasies.

Is it possible to be a male, and want to be a ballerina, but not to be a male ballerina? (Ballerino?). I mean, there are ballet parts for men and for women, but they're typically very different. The moves are different (and this is where the physical differences between men and women probably come into play), and the costumes are different. There is a place for men in ballet, but it's not the same place that women have in ballet. So what if you are a man, but you want to be in the women's place? I'm more feminine than most men, but I think I would look a whole lot more ridiculous in a male ballet costume than in this pink tutu, which I think looks pretty good on me. (Or is that because I feel fantastic wearing it?).

This reminds me of Revolutionary Girl Utena's desire not to be rescued by a prince, but to be the prince (and not a princess). But, obviously, in the other direction. It's still more acceptable for women to want to be like men than it is for men to want to be like women. Because wanting to be rescued is considered a weakness. Not that this is an illogical view, but we can't all be the rescuer, or there'd be no one to rescue! There can't be any value in rescuing unless there is some value in needing to be rescued. Feminism: "girls can be just like guys", instead of "girls are okay, too". You know, just the way they are. Pretty princesses and everything.

Aside: As I feared (although this might not be a bad thing), with my new iPhone, the line between my selfie photography and my "real" photography is already beginning to blur.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


It's hard, sometimes, feeling like the world doesn't accept you for who you are. But when even appeals to logic and compassion fall on closed ears, I take comfort in the knowledge that my existence alone can frustrate those who oppose progress. In those cases, it feels good to make people uncomfortable (I believe they referred to it in the sixties as "freaking out squares"). Because you can talk all you want about what's to be done with people like me. But I'm not going to change, and I'm not going anywhere - whether you like it or not. It happened with homosexuality, and it's happening with the transgender community. And believe me when I say that it doesn't stop there. (No matter where you stand, if you think it stops there, you're going to be surprised when you get passed by). So you can either join the inexorable march of progress, or cling to your antiquated notions and be trampled underfoot. The only question you have to ask yourself is: where will your name be written in the annals of history?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Mirror of Reflection

Redundant, right? :-p

A holdover from this past holiday season. Really an outtake from the Home For The Holidays set. I don't know what it is about this mirror. I shot "The Mirror of Truth" in it twice, and this could have been number three, except I didn't actually think about it that much at the time. So it's just a normal mirror. But mirrors are fascinating things. I can imagine primitive cultures becoming superstitious about them. All they do is reflect the world as it is right back to you. But the ability to look at one's self, to see what others see when they look at you (albeit reversed) - it's like a conduit for the uniquely human(?) trait of self-awareness. For better or worse. As a self-portrait photographer and exhibitionist; as an anxious introvert prone to feeling self-conscious; it has a lot of power and meaning for me.

Monday, January 9, 2017


A few more outtakes from last year. (You see where this is headed, don't you? -_^). Running on the treadmill is one of those things where the trial and error nature of photography is magnified. It's also, therefore, one of those themes I've wanted to revisit, although often times life gets in the way, and these things get pushed on to the back burner. These photos aren't so bad, though. I love the sense of action in the first one. And as for the others - what's the point of staying in shape if not to be able to admire (or let others admire) the fruits of your labors? And if there happens to be a sexual element to that, so what? The world keeps on turning.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Stark Winter

These shots are actually from last January. Sometimes I'll take a picture that I feel has promise, but I won't be a hundred percent satisfied with it. So I'll stash it away, to give myself more time to think on it, and a chance to maybe go back at some point and try the shot again, to see if I can improve upon it. I may still yet, but it's been a year, so I think that even if I did, it would be more like revisiting a theme (which I like to do) than setting up a reshoot.

As it is, these shots may just be outtakes, but I do believe there's something in them that makes them worth sharing. Whether it's the stark lighting of the on-camera flash that leaves nothing to the imagination, the contours of my body, or the contrast between the full body exposure and the frigid view of a snowy winterland through the windows just beyond...

I have to trust my artistic instinct sometimes. I don't psychoanalyze the reasons why I like what I like, or when I think something is interesting. I mean, I do - but when I'm sitting down philosophizing, not every single time I have to make a decision about what's good and what's not. If I feel that there's something in an image, I'll run with it. Doesn't matter if it's something compositional, more conceptual, purely sexual, or a complicated combination of things. "Shoot 'em all, and let the censor sort 'em out!"

I'd hate to have that voice of self-censorship in my head, second guessing my instincts, telling me, "that's too sexual," or some such. There can be a lot of artifice in art, but often times it's strongest when it's reflecting the truth - particularly truths that people don't like to confront. That's when art serves a purpose beyond just being pretty pictures.

But I do try to present those truths in ways that I would hope makes them more accessible. Yes, we are animals with a raw sexual desire - and you can demonstrate that through vulgarity. But desire should be appealing, not repulsive. That is, in fact, what a lot of people are recoiling from. Well, I'd like to invite them to look again, and show them the link between eroticism and beauty.

Friday, January 6, 2017


I don't want to say proud, but as of this month - January 2017 - I am a new owner of an iPhone. As much as I love technology, I'm a bit of a late adopter. Being on the cutting edge can get pretty expensive, and I don't generally like to fix things that aren't broken. So I'm content to wait until the culture has assimilated a new technology - and ironed out many of its kinks - before I jump on the bandwagon. And cell phones are an innovation I've been particularly reluctant to get on board with, as I don't have a lot of social contacts, and p2p communication is not my strong suit. But you can't fight progress (especially when your old carrier drops you because your phone is painfully outdated), and as much as I don't see the point in paying recurring fees for a service I rarely use, I have to admit it's mighty handy having the internet in your pocket. Other than that, a cell phone is really just a portable camera to me - and the iPhone has a very impressive camera. So, for what it's worth, I'm stepping into the future, and the quality of my on-the-go "selfie" photography should improve as a result!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Transhumanist Sexuality

(Not to be confused with "transsexuality", which is a completely different topic. ;-p)

I've been trying to articulate my particular approach to sexuality - and why it doesn't mesh with mainstream sex-positive (which is what I'd be inclined to call it) perspectives - for a while now, and I think I've hit on an important point.

Humans are animals. And animals are primarily sexual creatures. Propagation of the species is the one crucial goal we have above and beyond immediate personal survival. But existential concerns like that aren't enough to ensure total compliance, so evolution has given us a prime directive to fuck. We desire it, and it feels good (when we're doing it right).

As rational beings, we can approach this undeniable fact in one of two ways. We can give in to the hunger, and copulate like the animals do, or we can aspire to be more civilized, and create deities characterized by their sexual purity, to hold aloft as role models, while shaming those who don't live up to their inhuman example.

It's the red pill/blue pill divide, and if you know anything about me, you won't be surprised to hear that I have another pill to offer you - the green pill. In this context, it means to embrace - not reject - our sex drive, but to do so in a conscious and deliberate manner, using our intellect - in the form of tech-knowledge-y - to optimize people's experiences and lives.

Now, I have heard - most likely in the realm of science-fiction - tales of possible futures and alternate realities in which the human sex drive - ever the nagging obstacle to human efficency and accomplishment - was eliminated. Imagine a world in which the desire to fuck did not constantly distract you from everything else in your life.

And when I was younger - before my proper sexual awakening - I considered this to be a desirable solution to the problem of sexual desire. It wasn't worth the trouble. But then I gradually came under its thrall, and eventually realized that, like any power source, sex can be exploited. It makes us feel good. Pretty reliably.

So what if evolution designed it that way to make us procreate? We're smarter than evolution. We can use science to drastically reduce, if not entirely eliminate, the risks involved with sexual intercourse, including the potential for making a baby - which is an enormous drain on resources (more than most people realize when they're just following their instincts in the back of a Chevy).

That's evolution's joke on us. But who's to say we have to let evolution keep pulling the strings? Even if you're antsy about the science, there's still masturbation - the only completely safe form of sex. Absent the arbitrary construction of shame, human sexual desire is a tool we can manipulate for our own gain - namely personal pleasure. And what's wrong with that?

So I think that if I marry this transhumanist approach with the sex-positive idea that human sexuality intrinsically leans toward the positive side of neutral, simply because it was designed to make people feel good (like, really good), and that the bad parts of it are all manageable in one way or another, I think that I'd be coming close to a formulation of my basic sexual perspective:

Sex is a tool that can be manipulated to make people feel good.

Hmm, I don't like that the word "manipulation" carries such a negative connotation - it sounds like I'm saying that we can manipulate people to feel sexual pleasure (theirs or ours?) against their will. Which is not at all what I'm saying. Let's try this instead:

Sex is a tool that can be manipulated to generate pleasure.

That's better. It sounds more like I'm talking about sex as the object to be manipulated, and not the people who have it. I would add a caveat in there about mitigating the risks and dangers using science (and common sense) - because you know that's the first thing critics are going to ask about - but I want to keep it short and to the point right now.

After all, any tool can be abused and turned into a weapon. The sex-positive approach is the one that aims to avoid this (without avoiding sex entirely, which is like throwing out the baby with the bath water). (Wait, was that a bad analogy? Lol).

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Religion preaches moderation, not prohibition. Too much of anything is bad, including not enough - which is just too much of its absence. Abstinence is the opposite of indulgence; both are unhealthy extremes. As Roger Daltrey once sang, "a little is alright".

There are personal exceptions to this rule - it turns out that even moderation should be practiced in moderation for a completely balanced life. For example, if you're a recovering alcoholic, over-indulgence may reasonably be remedied with abstinence. As someone who does not live by the motto, "I'll try anything once", I'd be a hypocrite if I said there was anything wrong with deliberately choosing to indulge in or abstain from certain things for certain reasons.

Mostly, this is a collective philosophy, to be applied in response to exaggerated, black-and-white thinking: in which things are either all-good or all-bad; that if something is good or bad for one person, then that must be true for everyone; that to partake just a little is to go off the deep end; and that there is no such thing as indulging responsibly.

Moderation is the key to a balanced life.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Winter Cleaning

That's the last you'll see of the xmas tree - because it's already gone!

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year, New Calendar

One of two calendars I have for 2017. (The other one seemed slightly less appropriate for this context :-p).

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Rising Sun

Happy New Year! Winding down from the holidays always takes some time. It's nice to have a week to relax (for those of us who get that sort of thing), once the majority of the stress from the holidays is behind you. But even that isn't always enough. Going into the new year, you have to balance the tying up of loose ends with the promise of new opportunities on the horizon.

My photographic endeavors planned for the new year include a long-awaited opportunity to play around with infrared photography, and a trepid determination to learn how to use an off-camera studio flash, to improve my skills and move one step closer to the professionals. Not that I will ever be anything other than an art photographer, but anything I can do to make my art photographs look even better (and to perhaps draw broader attention to my knowledge, experience, and passion for photography, in the ultimate hope that beautiful people will someday come to trust - if not desire - me to photograph them) is a definite plus.

It may take some time for the fruits of those labors to ripen, but keep your eyes peeled, for you the viewer stand only to benefit from these experimental endeavors, all in good time. Until then, stay tuned for my annual selection of some of my best photographs taken over the course of the last year - coming soon!