DISGUSTED BY PRUDERY
I was disturbed to see several letters in the Feb. 8 EW against Dan Savage’s column and advertising for sadomasochistic adult activities, and I wanted to join the ranks of readers who are more disgusted by litigious sexual prudery than alternative sexuality.
The EW is not a publication for children, and I do hope that disturbed readers will ask their children to refrain from reading it. The newspaper itself doesn’t have a responsibility to sanitize its content for everyone who may find it objectionable or inappropriate. It serves a particular audience, and in the case of the EW, that audience is adults interested in “alternative” aspects of society, whether they are political, social or sexual.
There is absolutely no reason to remove an informational column from an alternative weekly that serves its chosen audience well. Dan Savage’s witty syndicated column, which appears in alternative weeklies throughout the country, discusses sexual topics that can be easily discovered on Internet search engines. The difference is that Savage has built his reputation on disseminating truthful information about aspects of safety and health instead of merely exploiting sensational images.
Likewise, with the BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism) community advertising, the websites and venues seek to connect a group of adults who seek safe and entertaining ways to explore responsibly a part of their sexuality that society deems dangerous or pathological. The language of fantasy (“electro-torture,” “corporal punishment,” etc.) is employed in BDSM ads to create a mood, not to suggest that if you decide to go to fetish night or send an email for more information about hemp rope, you will be kidnapped and “forced into sex slavery,” as Deb Huntley’s (2/8) letter suggests.
Huntley’s letter aptly demonstrates the paranoia and fear generated when there is a lack of reliable information about alternative sexual practices such as BDSM. The letter uses hyperbolic rhetoric to make a false link between real torture and consenting behavior between adults. Worse yet, the BDSM community is portrayed as being a menace to the whole city — somehow threatening to replace the community’s “imagination” and “compassion” with “detachment and delusion.” Oddly, the solution advocated is censorship and enforcing a concept of “normal” sexuality, neither of which, in my opinion, stimulate imagination or compassion.
Unlike Huntley, I think it’s great that BDSM and fetish practitioners have a visible presence in Eugene. In my research on alternative sexuality, I have read many accounts of unhappy people who repress their sadomasochistic desires or succumb to abusive relationships as a substitute. I have also read of and spoken to people who have been transformed by a sadomasochistic experience, using phrases that suggest a spiritual awakening or catharsis. Others just seem happy to give or receive such a nice deep-tissue massage.
BDSM activities range from mild to intense and can be lighthearted and extremely creative on both ends of the spectrum. Individuals who are involved in organized BDSM communities stress negotiation and safety for any activity between new partners.
Perhaps the community-at-large would benefit from more sexual education in the pages of the EW.
Jennifer Levin, Eugene
Bob Emmons’ viewpoint “Forces of Destruction” (2/22) on the “clear cut” corruption of officials at local, state and federal levels regarding near nonexistent regulation of land use legislation and blatant illegitimate logging and clear-cutting operations was both distressing and sobering.
What recourse do local residents have when even videotape of months of such atrocities remains ignored? The idea that developers are manipulating Measure 37 to greedily swallow up enormous tracts of land, to clear-cut and subdivide Oregon’s once-pristine wilderness out of existence — with “wink wink” compliance by government agencies and officials — is heinous. What legal system do we look to when a DSL field representative steps up to view the site and ongoing damage and issues a stop-work order but is then pulled off the case?
Oregonians must expose such corruption, and those complicit with it. I salute the neighbors who have continued struggling to get legitimate action taken while living with the agony of what they are enduring daily. Zoning and enforcement protections must be properly implemented.
I further salute LandWatch Lane County and the Goal One Coalition for, as Emmons says, continually “challenging the everyday applications to rezone productive farms and forests to marginal lands; to build in riparian zones and floodplains; and to illegally adjust property lines for template dwellings on resource lands.”
The importance of these agencies in struggling to expose the truth, and protect these lands, cannot be overstated. Their constant diligence is deeply appreciated and to be commended.
Sita Stulberg, Eugene
EVOLVING TOWARD WHAT?
From EW‘s slant column (3/1): “Who has more impact when it comes to saving the environment? A hundred saboteurs with torches and monkey wrenches or Al Gore with his wonkish traveling slide show?” Nice framing.
Is “saving the environment” like saving one’s soul? One’s view of the environment (or of one’s soul) depends on one’s view of its degree of degradation. The possible range of solutions: cosmetic corporate/government fixes, a few minor individual sacrifices, a few major individual sacrifices, major sacrifices on everyone’s part (as long as the corporate bottom line is unharmed), major sacrifices on everyone’s part, or, we’re screwed — it’s too late to save the environment. Where does Al Gore fit into this? Mr. NAFTA will do whatever he can to maximize corporate profits (i.e., megafarming for biofuels) while appearing genuinely concerned on his road show (2008 presidential campaign).
Which brings me to “We have more sophisticated tools now for organizing and educating the public.” By “sophisticated tools,” do you mean voting, signing petitions, annual marches against full-spectrum dominance and emailing our corporate representatives in government? Obstacles to “organizing and educating the public” need to be removed first. These include corporate TV and video games, chemicals and antibiotics in our food and water, the hundreds of billions of pills we are persuaded to consume annually for our health and the great organized religions of the world, working hand-in-hand with corrupt governments for our imagined well-being and supplication.
Yes, “we are evolving as a species,” but in which direction are we headed?
Robert Simms, Corvallis
It is excellent that U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold will introduce legislation “prohibiting the use of funds to continue the deployment of U.S. forces in Iraq.” If Congressman Peter DeFazio does not help initiate similar legislation in the House, then we the people will have to dump DeFazio in 2008 in favor of someone who is truly for peace and decency. The same reasoning applies to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. If we cannot have a peaceful and decent government, then it is better to have no government at all.
Bob Saxton, Eugene
Is Eugene environmentally “greener” than it was 20 years ago?
We definitely burn more petrol than we did 20 years ago. We didn’t have the mega big box stores like Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Target 20 years ago, all of which are completely dependent on the earth-killing trucking industry.
The bicycle lane and river path system hasn’t been upgraded or expanded for at least 15 years. Many bike lanes are dangerous to ride, such as the broken and chuck-holed bike lane on West 18th Avenue.
We didn’t have Hyundai/Hynix dumping diluted toxins in our river or the world’s largest RV industry (Monaco, Marathon, etc.) producing 8 MPG vehicles polluting our planet.
Eugene could get back on track.
For starters, EWEB could place $90 million into a precedent-setting solar energy/conservation incentives program instead of building some new administrative palace on west Eugene wetlands.
The RV industry could start building hybrid diesel buses for public use. Market of Choice, Eugene’s most successful food markets, could stop supporting clear-cutting and herbicide spraying by withdrawing their multimillion-dollar accounts from Umpqua Bank, which is owned by three of Oregon’s timber barons.
Eugene should create a real Farmers’ Market Place that is covered and maintained for year around use to support local farms and communities. Eugene should create an urban growth greenway park that the city cannot grow beyond to protect wetlands for wildlife and recreation.
I’ve learned when the people lead the “leaders” will follow.
Shannon Wilson, Eugene
A recent letter compared Dan Savage’s column to McDonald’s food. Sometimes I think that’s an insult to McDonald’s, and maybe meth would be a better comparison. I’m as progressive as anyone on talking about sex, as long as it’s about expressions of love rather than about adolescent hangups verging on violence and how to limit our love. I feel the only abuse in my childhood was not being able to talk meaningfully about certain important subjects with people who had been there, done that, so I had to basically figure it out for myself. And I’m still working on that, as I hope most of us are.
For instance, why does the word “fuck” today seem to imply anger and violence more often than love? There’s a lot on the back pages of EW that isn’t about expressions of love. I don’t feel it’s the place for what we find there. But I wouldn’t mind having a separate publication for it.
Dan Robinson, Eugene
I swore I wouldn’t weigh in on this, but the “Save the Children” campaign has finally gotten to me. I have been reading “Savage Love” since I was first introduced to it at the age of 17. It did not corrupt me; it did on occasion shock me, but more than anything, it reassured me. No matter what I was dealing with in my relationships someone else out there undoubtably had it worse.
Dan Savage always upheld consensual sex, always told people to be honest and always show respect for themselves and others. He always advocates safe sex. He teaches a great many important sexual lessons that most parents in our prudish society can’t bring themselves to talk about.
Children are becoming sexually active much younger these days. I think an open, honest forum like Savage provides is good for them. It lets them know that sex is OK, that it can be fun, that it should be safe, that no always means no, and that if your partner is being disrespectful or tearing you down in any way, it’s time to go find someone who values your worth and helps build you up.
I learned a lot reading “Savage Love.” A decade later I’m a happily married mother of two, and thanks to all the less fortunate folks out there, I never had to ask Dan’s advice because I got to learn from other people’s mistakes!
Thanks for carrying this vital column despite the criticism. I hope it is still around for my daughters to read when their time comes to navigate the jungles of love and lust.
Bree Ervin, Eugene
WALKER BATTLE CRY
Sen. Vicki Walker’s recent comments introducing her new EW feature (“On a Roll,” 2/8) left me wondering. Does her battle cry “Democrats … are in charge and taking no prisoners” mean that she intends to kill her political opponents? Of course not. It is most certainly a metaphor expressing her unwillingness to compromise. Too bad. I’m sure most of us hope that our legislators “represent” all of us to one degree or another, not just those sharing similar political viewpoints. We don’t live in a world of absolutes, and politicians who think otherwise are not doing any of us any favors.
David Work, Cottage Grove
WHAT KIND OF SEX?
When my daughter was a teen, her grandmother gave her a subscription to Vogue. I picked up one of her copies and was stunned at the sexual frankness. I didn’t mind her having the information, but I would rather have her read Dan Savage than Vogue. The articles in Vogue were all about how to please others and gain acceptance. Dan Savage is about being curious, honest, kind and respectful about sex. What kind of sex life do you want your kids to have (as if you could choose!): One that’s focused mainly on pleasing others and gaining acceptance or one that’s about mutual respect and pleasure?
Ruby The Resourceress aka Ruby Colette, Eugene
As a first-generation student at the UO, I know firsthand the difficulties in paying high tuition. Because of the increasing cost of tuition and the lack of access of higher education to people of color, I, along with hundreds of other students, participated in the Oregon’s Student Association lobby day and rally at the capitol last Thursday. I had the opportunity to meet with our legislators about issues that are important to me as a student. One of the issues that I am passionate about is tuition equity.
Currently, Oregon prices some of our brightest and most talented high school graduates out of a higher education by denying them in-state tuition rates due to their documentation status. These are students who grew up in Oregon, worked hard to overcome many obstacles to graduate from high school and will continue to live and work here.
Other states have realized that opening doors to higher education for all their youth is best for their state. Those other states, including Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, have passed tuition equity legislation. Oregon remains the only state on the West Coast that has yet to commit to graduating more students from college through tuition equity.
With our population becoming more diverse and with an unprecedented demand for a college-educated workforce, this issue is more crucial than ever to our state’s future. Tell your legislator to do what’s best for our state and pass tuition equity.
Lorena Landeros, Eugene
THE CRINGE FACTOR
I live in Corvallis and try to read every new issue of the EW. I want to see the Dan Savage column kept in the EW. “I overheard three middle school children … discussing and laughing about some part of ‘Savage Love,'” Richard Catlin writes in a Feb. 8 letter. “It is wrong and probably not healthy for them to be exposed to such writings in a free and ubiquitous paper.” Ahem, these are middle schoolers. They’re going to be talking about sex no matter what they are reading, and I ought to know because I once was one. A large number of them don’t even read these days unless they have to, so I’m actually rather impressed they’re reading the EW to begin with. It’s statistically likely the people he overheard all have computers and have probably seen porn before; eliminating Savage’s column would not curb that.
The column addresses questions and problems people have that they might be embarrassed asking their marriage counselor/therapist/friends about. I agree with Thomas Kraemer’s Feb. 8 letter: Since Savage himself is gay and many halves of same-sex couples write in for advice, this may be one reason why the column’s appearance has touched off such controversy with underlying homophobia and whiffs of misogyny. The people complaining are the same people who cringed from picking up a copy of the recent EW same-sex adoption issue (12/21/06).
The Loveline radio show (syndicated out of KNRQ 97.9 FM in Eugene) deals with the same issues. It has been on the air for more than 20 years with a TV stint in the late ’90s and is syndicated all over the country. These middle schoolers could very easily have been talking about something they overheard on this program rather than something they read in Savage’s column.
Ryan Thompson, Corvallis
I love all the recent comments regarding “Savage Love.” The part I love most is seeing people write “I am no prude” in the same letter in which they go on to prudishly state they will never read your paper again. Or worse, threaten to call the attorney general! What a laugh.
So I say let the prudes spend money to buy whatever they consider clean enough; EW is pretty good considering it costs nothing. If the objectors find Savage offensive, I fear to imagine what they would think if they were to go to Seattle and read the back pages of The Stranger.
I’d never actually read Dan Savage, but because of all the hubbub, I decided to check it out. And, to be fair, I read the past two months of back issues as well. Sure, some of the questions and revelations were shocking, and sure, Savage usually confronted those with overboard humor. But Savage’s advice is pretty levelheaded and not likely to be found elsewhere. For instance, the advice he gave TAC about Craigslist (1/4) was brilliant mostly because of how abrasively he confronted the situation. Savage is not offensive or in need of censorship (unless you’re a prude).
I don’t plan on continuing to read the column because the issues he deals with don’t speak to me. I can do that — simply not pay attention to what I don’t like or need. However, the letters may be invaluable to someone else. Please don’t remove “Savage Love” from EW.
Daniel Porter, Corvallis
PUBLIC RADIO HERE
In response to John Galloway’s letter, “Public Radio Needed,” in the Feb. 22 EW, I would like to direct him towards a few radio stations which carry some of the shows he mentioned, as well as a few more. KWVA 88.1 FM carries the following news shows: “Democracy Now!” Monday through Friday, 7 to 8am; “Free Speech Radio News,” Monday through Friday, 6 to 6:30 pm; and “Counterspin” every Wednesday at 6:30 pm. Additionally, “Alternative Radio” is broadcast from KLCC 89.7 FM every Tuesday at 6:30 pm.
I direct him and anyone else to the above radio shows as a source of quality, informative news, as the caliber of NPR news programming is lacking in comparison. Listen to the shows above and see for yourself if you doubt me.
Jonathan O. Bellg, Eugene
NOT ENOUGH JACK
I find it hard to believe that a JB [Jack Black] fan would include Nacho Libre in your list of Best Movies of 2006 (2/22) but completely ignore Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. Did I read the article too quickly? Did I miss it? Did 2006 end before Thanksgiving?
Glenn Leonard, Eugene
I am greatly encouraged by what presidential candidate Barack Obama has said about the war in Iraq. He speaks plainly and courageously about the issue uppermost in the minds of most Americans today. We need leadership like that now more than ever if we are to avoid a dark descent into a state of permanent war. Every day Bush’s saber-rattling against Iran continues, we step closer to the edge of that descent.
I am truly sickened by congressional Republicans who talk of “encouraging the terrorists” and “lowering troop morale” as a consequence of national debate and legitimate discussions to end our involvement in Iraq, clearly now embroiled in a brutal civil war. The Republicans have missed the point entirely. Our involvement was a mistake, started under false pretenses with false intelligence and at horrendous cost to both our own soldiers and countless Iraqi civilians, not to mention the draining of our federal treasury! The war must end, and the sooner we leave, the sooner the terrorists, who feed off of hatred, will lose their main argument for recruiting: U.S. occupation. It seems clear to me from reading their own accounts that our soldiers have felt beaten down by an unending deployment into a meaningless war.
Let us hope the debate continues to rage in the halls of Congress on this vitally important issue. Justice can never be served by silence; indeed, democracy can only flourish where there is thoughtful discussion and vigorous dissent.
John Jordan-Cascade, Eugene
My wife and I attended the Neko Case/Eric Bachmann concert recently (at the McDonald). We love her music, her vocals, songwriting and the excellent band backing her up. I also thoroughly enjoyed the music of Eric Bachmann. Due to no seating on the main floor, we sat upstairs in the balcony, but the obnoxious drunks in the crowd made it the most disappointing, worst concert experience we ever had. During Bachmann’s set, people partied as though there was no performer onstage. I was ashamed to be part of such a rude audience.
Finally Case’s set started, and we looked forward to the audience paying attention to the music. Alas, the general chaos was replaced by some particularly obnoxious behavior by several boorish people who literally bellowed at the top of their lungs between every song “We love you Neko” and the like. Case herself made a few references to the drunks in the crowd, as had Gillian Welch at one of her concerts at the McDonald. There seems to be a pattern here, one which makes us loath to try again despite the appeal of many of the acts booked.
Several people left before the show was over, and had I not spent $52 for the tickets, we would have left also. Perhaps the venue needs to have a bar in order to meet expenses. If that is the case, why can’t some staff be appointed to patrol and monitor the upstairs and require loud people to quiet down? Let’s get with it, folks!
P.R. Lanz, Eugene