Column by: Randy Lee Payton


While I can't recall the last time I saw an X-rated video and declared it a bona (boner?) fide advance for world-wide Sexual Liberation, I'm happy to report SEVERAL such knock-out rock and hip-hop videos in recent months. Women in the current alternative music and hip hop scenes are making powerful musical statements re: sexuality--their own, and that of the larger society. Let's face it, new wave "girl bands" of the 80's like the Go-Gos and the Bangles were danceable enough, but their basically vacuous song-bird efforts simply weren't gonna push any guys to have to deal with Emerging Women's Sexuality or inspire gals to do any such pushing themselves... It's a new day: ANY of SALT 'N PEPA's genius efforts, from their "Let's Talk About Sex" to more recently, "Shoop" have propelled these earthy sexy sisters to the status of America's #1 erotic politicians (move over, Madonna). These gals can be down-and-dirty funny in presentation, while quite obviously serious about their sexually-liberatory intent --all at the same time! Frankly, my would-be sex-revolutionary, egghead contemporaries and I can bang away at our keyboards now 'til doomsday and we'll NEVER obtain the effect Salt 'n Pepa has no doubt ALREADY scored for happy sexuality the world over! ...SONIC YOUTH's video from their new EXPERIMENTAL JET SET TRASH...& NO STARS virtually DRIPS with Teen-Age Lust-Angst (or so I'm told/as I remember). In fact, Sonic Youth's KIM GORDON directed the most recent BREEDERS videos for "Cannonball" and "Divine Hammer." Truly, Breeder lead Kim's enough to make even a prana-preservin', tantric-practicin' cat spend his seed! Ring me up, anytime, Kim; I've got the "divine hammer" you're looking for. (It's called the Jeff Stryker super-max vibe --haha.) ...While it's usually the more seasoned ladies I find the hottest (in music and adult videos as well as 'real life,') the young lady lead singer from the band WHALE exhibits one of the most utterly fascinating presences I've seen/heard in Alternative Music since the goddess Deborah Harry herself! WHALE's video "Hobo Humpin' Slobo Babe" features said singer and her two crazed-looking-as-all-fuck band partners spazin' about, amidst some pounding, over-the-top sounds. Whew! I nominate said young lady as THE instant rock goddess for this decade--an icon with braces no less! ...And, finally, what would rock--alternative or otherwise--have been over the years without a little gender-bending ANDROGYNY from the likes of the Stones, Bowie, Queen, New York Dolls, etc.? A great group in this tradition is PRIMAL SCREAM whose video for "Rock's Off" in fact recalls the Stones musically, building to a crescendo of a group-grope-like finale of celebratory decadence ranking second only to the SMASHING PUMPKINS' video for "Today" for Best Staging of a Sexual Utopia (Sextopia?) in a video circa 1994...


Check out the interview with Nadine Strossen, the first woman ever to head the American Civil Liberties Union, in the March 1994 issue of THE PROGRESSIVE Magazine. At 43, Ms. Strossen is a law professor, writer and legal theorist, with impeccable feminist credentials (she engaged in legal battles for reproductive rights while a student at Radcliffe in the early 70's, later scoring early victories for the then-fledgling women's movement while attending Harvard Law School).

Today, as head of the ACLU, the way Nadine "deconstructs" the women's antipornography movement is "that its leaders are looking for a quick-fix solution to very complex and troubling social problems. Many women out there are understandably frustrated about misogyny and discrimination. Their answer seems to be, 'destroy troubling imagery.' My problem is that censorship will never deal with the underlying problems of violence and discrimination. We have to change people's perceptions. To solve a social problem, we need more speech. My critique of people like Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon is that their call for censorship doesn't enhance women's safety or advance women's equality. On the contrary, censorship undermines safety and equality." Particularly impressive was Strossen's gutsy statement that she not only opposes the antipornography feminists both "tactically and substantively" but states "more than that. I do not see all pornography as conveying unmitigatedly misogynistic messages" and that she even finds "some of it physically beautiful, the way one might find paintings of nudes physically beautiful." Nadine notes looking at PLAYBOY (considering "its imagery beautiful and often erotically stimulating") and liking Madonna's book SEX ("I thought it aesthetically pleasurable to look at, funny, brave, feisty. I got a good laugh out of it.") "There's something intellectually provocative about some pornography. In hotels, they sometimes now have soft-core porn. At night, when I'm done giving a speech, I don't mind turning on the Playboy channel or the Red Shoe Diaries. I mean, what's the alternative? My husband isn't there. I do a lot of traveling and I'm glad the hotels have this stuff." So how does Strossen feel when "Big Sister" tries to tell her what she can enjoy and can't? "Furious. And I've always been that way. What I read, what I enjoy, how I spend my time should be my decision as a human being so long as I'm not harming anyone else." In a period in which liberals all-too-often seem stuck in a mode of knee jerk capitulation to the Rabid Right, I take views like those expressed by Nadine in a pro-feminist, left-wing publication like the PROGRESSIVE as a bell-weather that perhaps the times are indeed (hopefully) a 'changin'!...

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