Monday, 16 May 2005
Everything you always wanted to know about the Sex Party, but were too afraid to ask
By Brian Nguyen, for THECOMMENTARY.CA
"Sex is natural - sex is good/
Not everybody does it/
But everybody should/
Sex is natural - sex is fun"
- George Michael's "I Want Your Sex"
Rather than get their three candidates elected in Tuesday's election here in BC, the goal of the Sex Party, according to its leader John Ince, is to raise awareness about issues regarding sex. A cursory glance at the party platform (see: http://www.thesexparty.ca) will provide you with their three main goals: Changing how sex is taught in schools, repealing sex-negative laws and regulations, and supporting sex-positive communities.
Of the three, the first seems to have garnered the most controversy. The party suggests one way of changing sex education in our schools by using a method called sexual gradualism, which, among other things, would include teaching teens "a way to explore the erotic responsiveness of his or her own body without contact with another person." Detractors claim this implies teaching teenagers how to masturbate, and have thus vehemently argued that such a method is morally wrong. Ince, and the other members of the Sex Party, disagree. If there is one criticism, and the Sex Party isn't necessarily to blame here, it's that debates over sexual gradualism tend to focus exclusively on the morality of masturbation. For the benefit of those who have no moral qualms about masturbation, it would be ideal seeing both on the website and at discussions the candidates participate in, much more specific details on how sexual gradualism would be taught. Also, I'm quite interested in learning how teachers would judge the success of these methods on their students.
When not defending themselves from detractors of sexual gradualism, members of the party also speak passionately about helping sex workers-the term 'prostitute' is considered derogatory-by working to eliminate federal and provincial laws which prevent them from working in safe environments. As well, establishing an agency for sex workers, which would provide counselling, education, and advocacy. Detractors claim that legalising sex work is morally wrong, but on this issue, I support the party. Whether or not you think sex work is morally wrong, it already exists in BC. By forcing sex workers to do their jobs illegally, it would make it easier for them to be exploited by third parties and/or their customers, which is certainly not very encouraging for those who do sex work because they can't find help anywhere else. For readers who want more information, I suggest contacting members of the Sex Party, or clicking on the links I've provided at the end of this article.
Given that members of the Sex Party often find themselves on the defensive against those who claim that it is morally wrong to implement their platform, it is easy for one to be misled to thinking that the Sex Party is about disassociating any issues of morality from sex. This, of course, is not the case, and the party makes this clear by using the terms 'sex-negative' and 'sex-positive.'
Negative attitudes towards male and female sexuality, for example, would be considered sex-negative. The arbitrary media censorship of human genitalia and of specific English words are also considered sex-negative because, the very act of censoring these things is arguably what perpetuates their negative connotations. Erotic art that celebrates sex would be considered sex-positive, as would open discussions between understanding parents and their children on sex. It will not take long for the philosophers among my readers to realise that by using the terms 'sex-negative' and 'sex-positive,' we are redefining what is considered right and what is considered wrong. One can justifiably ask what right members of the Sex Party have to tell everyone what is right and what is wrong-although we can obviously ask detractors of the party the very same question, not to mention every other political party. Ultimately, what determines any party's right in a democratic society is the amount of supporters it has-and with only three candidates in the BC election, not to mention a platform devoted solely to sex-positive issues, I have strong doubts about whether this party will ever become a strong political force. Perhaps this was never the point. By forming a party, its members have brought attention and leant political legitimacy to the work being done by others in addressing issues of sex. By continuing to address sex-positive issues, the Sex Party is having a role in helping change prevailing attitudes towards sex, although I don't believe this will translate into more votes if the party platform remains limited in scope. The best option would likely be to have sex-positive issues adopted by the other main political parties in their platforms.
For more information on the rights of sex workers: http://www.nswp.org
Sex, Art, and Politics
The Sex Party held its first SexArtVoteYes! (SAVY) celebration on the 12th. I found myself standing nervously with the other ticket-holders when the event began at 7:30. Given that other members of the media had been ushered out of the room right before the event began, I thought it best to put away my notebook; therefore, you will forgive me, O reader, if my account of the event is told strictly from my faulty memory.
After seating ourselves in the manner most befitting a Dionysian celebration, we were invited by Rieve, our MC and a self-professed member of the BDSM community, to find a partner and share the details of the first time we learned about sex. I, not yet ready to embarrass my childhood friends and my older cousins, got up quickly and, from the edge of the room, watched in envy as others more courageous whimsically described their first lessons on sex.
Once this little icebreaker was completed, we were afforded the pleasure of hearing leatherdyke and sex-philosopher Elaine Miller read some of her erotic writing. Beginning slowly with her thoughts on creating a new religion- and while slightly-denigrating a few old ones-, she reached her penultimate point with a waggish piece highlighting safety issues during typical BDSM sessions- BDSM, evidently, being more dangerous than one would think. We were hers now- we her slaves, she our mistress, and with cries of "More! More!" we waited in eager anticipation for her next words. But alas, she stopped here. This was followed by a quick reminder about the upcoming BC referendum, and we were reminded to vote "Yes". Filled with disappointment, we chanted in a daze: "STV Good, STDs Bad." Where wert thou, O mistress mine?
Sensing our internal strife, a delightfully exuberant ball of energy named CJ took command and reduced us to giggles with her memories of childhood lessons about sex. Then, to frighten every male in the room, she switched from comedy to horror and recounted two frightening encounters with men possessing penises that were either too small or too large. "Size DOES matter," she warbled ominously. Needless to say, any man who endured her horror stories without being reduced to a quivering wreck afterwards must have had Mephistopheles as his master.
CJ relinquished her power. The air was calm, but our spirits were diminished. Who now to save us from our stupor? Lo! Up rose Patrick Clark, the honourable candidate for the Vancouver-Fairview riding! Much like a sexy knight astride his very sexy stallion, Patrick rode in atop his mobility scooter and set about returning our courage. With an eloquent speech detailing the lack of policies at long-term care facilities on how to help residents fulfill their sexual needs, he appealed to our compassion and encouraged us to be as strong as he was. Urging us to vote and to help be voices for his cause, he made many an audience member rise up and cheer in support.
But alas, after Patrick had finished- oh villainy!- our attention was suddenly captured by two defenders of morality, Mr. Phil Latio and Ms. Connie Lingus. Thankfully, John Ince and Yvonne Tink, the honourable candidates for Vancouver-Burrard and Vancouver-Kingsway respectively, were on hand to save the day. In short, the encounter went like this:
Mr. Phil Latio: "Masturbation is evil! Sex leads to BAD things!"
John Ince: "No, masturbation is not evil. And lack of proper education about sex leads to bad things."
Yvonne Tink: "Hey! What are you doing with your hands?"
(Ms. Connie Lingus, possibly possessed by the wild sexual energy in the room, has been slowly caressing her body- softly running her eager hands over her breasts and her- forgive me, she's too embarrassed now- nether regions. She stops, looking very red in the face.)
Our two antagonists, daunted by the sexual tension in the room, beat a hasty exit. In their place came a tantric clown to return levity to the room. Going by the moniker Buck Naked, he pranced about in not a stitch of clothing, and questioned the associations between the penis and power. "Everyone has a penis! Some just have it in their heads!" he eagerly exclaimed while pointing first to his penis, and then to his temple. To be fair, he later stated that everyone also had a vulva. Mine is in my head.
After this, the audience was given a brief respite to catch its breath. I immediately set about exploring the art exhibits displayed throughout the room. I discovered first a charming little section entitled "Colour Your Coochee," which invited participants to draw colourful pictures representing their genitals. Admiring some of the drawings I saw- a spider, a cat, a clam, and interestingly enough, a hamburger- I decided to pass on the opportunity to make my own contribution. I draw terribly, you see.
Next, after spending some time watching professional photographer Horst Siegler take pictures of a nude female model, I turned my attention to the "Dirty Laundry exhibit. Here, an intoxicating group of models- some female, some male- in white underwear did their best to entice me into covering my hands with paint and then touching them wheresoever I pleased. Alas, my shameful fear of paint prevented me from taking part. Also, I was too shy. I ended up watching as others explored the limitless artistic possibilities created by using the human body as a canvas. Models, when their clothes had become sufficiently covered in paint, would undress and hang them on a clothesline for all to see. Some models would then go replace their clothes, and others would linger, revelling in that feeling of freedom known only to those who have ever displayed their naked figures to the world.
I saved the most intriguing exhibit for last. Marc Bowman's "Eye Voyeur, Agapornis" had been seizing the attention of gawking viewers all evening, but I found myself entirely unable to comprehend its significance. I had studied the exhibit when I first arrived. I had seen a small window, where one viewer at a time could look into another room. Behind the window, I had seen a camera recording my expressions, and a cage with two parakeets. Outside of the window were three monitors: one showing the two parakeets, one showing a Sex Party press conference, and the third showing my face for the amusement of any viewers behind me. I had not been impressed. Thus as I entered the line up to view the exhibit, I was simply expecting to see the two parakeets again. Behold the folly of one who assumes too much and knows too little! When my turn finally arrived, I pressed my face against the glass and found a woman orally stimulating her male partner's penis.
Completely forgetting to act professional in such a situation, I blurted out, "Wow!" Realizing that others were likely suppressing chuckles over the surprised look on my face, I stepped back to regain my senses. Granted, I had been aware beforehand that the event would feature three couples making love, but I had been expecting the performances to be done in a more open area of the room.
Finding my self-control once again, I reclined on an available couch and watched a very sensual dance by a young woman. I beg my readers to forgive me if I am scarce here on details. I remain ignorant as to the names of the garments she was wearing, and I do not wish to try describing them at the risk of offending someone more knowledgeable.
Suffice to say, she undressed over the course of her dance and allowed the audience to admire the natural beauty of her body- and by extension, the natural beauty of the human body in all its various forms.
Elaine again took the stage- to much rejoicing- and read aloud more of her writing. She concluded with a tantalizing piece about a BDSM experience involving fisting and slapping- and thus provided us with a proper release for the emotions she had built up within us earlier.
Walking away amidst much applause, she was replaced by CJ, who thanked all of the artists and then proceeded to whip herself into an ecstatic frenzy. Sounding like an enthusiastic gospel singer, she encouraged us all to scream, "I WANT SEX! I WANT GREAT SEX!" And so I did.
Rieve then took over and officially ended the event. Taking one final, lingering look around the room, I gathered my belongings and slowly marched out. The entire experience had left me emotionally drained. Who knew that the Sex Party could be so exhausting?
I realised after finishing this article that I had completely forgotten about three art exhibits. So here they are
1) VJ Krash Hazard had a multimedia exhibit, involving an ever-changing collage of erotic images on a large screen hanging from a wall. By selecting images from a computer nearby, she could control the images that viewers saw on the screen. I believe she was also responsible for the music that was played throughout the event.
2) There were two bronze flying penises by Benjamin Philips.
3) There was also a wall containing a series of erotic paintings. Unfortunately, I cannot recall the name of the artist/artists.
4) There was also another room featuring certain films. I didn't see any of the films, so I can't say what was being shown.
The Sex Party: www.thesexparty.ca
Questions and comments may be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
©1999-2005. The Commentary, Joseph Planta