Sex News: Idaho nudity filters, Brexit culture harms UK sex workers, sextech VC funding, consent condoms, racism in romance

Quick note: I recently had a run-in with Amazon Associates over my 16-year-old account, which was thankfully resolved, and you can read what I discovered about their policies (including nudity and sexual content) here.

  • “A new Idaho state law [requiring filters on] public internet access in libraries and an Iowa court case restricting access to media in prisons are the latest examples of an ongoing campaign by some local politicians to eliminate free speech protections of depictions of nudity and sex in order to fight what they are calling “the public health crisis of pornography.””
    * Idaho, Iowa Politicians Ramp Up ‘War on Porn’ (XBIZ)
  • “Sex workers in the UK are being illegally targeted for deportations and subjected to harassment and attacks because of a Brexit-inspired culture of discrimination against foreigners… A dossier compiled by the campaign group English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) includes examples of women being targeted by police for arrest and deportation despite having the right to remain in Britain, and police dismissing reports of violence against women.”
    * Sex workers harassed, assaulted and illegally targeted for deportations amid culture of xenophobia after Brexit, campaigners say (Independent)
  • “Most of the people we interviewed learned that selling panties isn’t as simple as popping them in the mail and sending them off. “When I first started I wore the panties and sealed them up. I didn’t know you had to dry them out first before you packaged them, otherwise they would get mildew-y,” Berpl said. She went on to explain that they have to be dry, “otherwise all of the bacteria that is on your body gets trapped in the packaging.””
    * Selling Used Panties Online Is Harder Than You Think (Motherboard)
  • “I’d like to give a shout-out to some people in the industry who’ve undertaken positive actions … Lotus Lane of the Free Speech Coalition launched the Inspire Program… Katy Jayne started an Independent Female Talent bulletin board. Inspired by Katy Jayne, new forums for independent performers were added on TheAdultDVDTalk …”
    * Dear industry friends and family (Medium | Fivestar)

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  • “For some, it’s personal. For others, it’s political. But the one motivation that drives nearly every sextech VC is the exploding market in sexual wellness… But given the funding issues faced by sextech companies, a more important issue might be the motivation of the investors themselves. Because whether its vibrator design or contraceptive delivery or educational platforms, no sextech company can change the world without funding.”
    * 12 Leading Investors Explain Why They’re Funding Sextech (Forbes)
  • “Amsterdam has moved to end one of the city’s most popular tourist activities. The city government has announced that it will end tours of the Red Light District in the Netherlands’ capital, citing concerns about people — in this case sex workers — being treated as a tourist attraction. “We do not consider it appropriate for tourists to leer at sex workers,” city alderman Udo Kock, who proposed the bill, said in a statement.”
    * Amsterdam ends popular tours, says leering at sex workers is inappropriate (Mercury News)
  • “Three Democratic contenders for the 2020 presidential nomination — Sens. Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard — have weighed in on the rights of sex workers. Harris and Gabbard have said they support the decriminalization of sex work, while Sanders was noncommittal in his response… The Intercept reached out to the other congressional Democrats running for president — Sens. Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke — and got no response.”
    * The Decriminalization of Sex Work Is Edging Into the 2020 Campaign (The Intercept)
  • “Tulipán, a leading Argentine condom brand, has launched a limited edition of condoms called “Pack Consentimiento” (“Consent Pack”), in custom-made packaging which can only be opened by two people. Tulipán’s goal in launching the product is to raise consciousness about “promoting respect and consent in sexual relationships and to avoid sexual violence” … Pack Consentimiento will be distributed for free at selected Buenos Aires bars and events.”
    * Argentine Condom “Consent Pack” Can Only Be Opened by Two People (XBIZ)

Much gratitude to our thoughtful sponsor, Nubile Films.

  • “Some booksellers continued to shelve black romances separately from white romances, on special African American shelves. Accepted industry wisdom told black authors that putting black couples on their covers could hurt sales, and that they should replace them with images of jewellery, or lawn chairs, or flowers. Other authors of colour had struggled to get representation within the genre at all.”
    * Fifty shades of white: the long fight against racism in romance novels (Guardian)
  • “Pink & White Productions recently completed a successful crowdfunding campaign for Shine Louise Houston’s next film, Chemistry Eases the Pain. In the process, we’ve received a lot of interest from fellow producers who might be interested in exploring crowdfunding for their next adult film. We hope this guide will help share our experiences and prepare new campaigns for success.”
    * Porn Patrons: An Introductory Guide to Crowdfunding for Adult Filmmakers (PinkLabel.TV)
  • “Scarleteen just celebrated its 20th year in publication, and Corinna argues that it has endured not in spite of being queer-founded, queer-run, and independently funded by a group of about 500 donors, but because of those things.”
    * “Scarleteen’s” 20 Anniversary Proves We Still Need Inclusive Sex Ed (Bitch Media)
  • “The final episode of Channel 4’s show Mums Make Porn aired on 3 April. In the three-part series, a group of five mothers set out to make their own porn film after being horrified at the graphic and often abusive content their children are being exposed to online. During the series, the mums were helped by Swedish erotic filmmaker Erika Lust, who has helped pioneer the feminist pornography movement.”
    * Mums Make Porn: Adult film director Erika Lust on her experience with the Channel 4 show and thoughts on the UK ‘porn ban (Independent)

Main post image: Marisa Papen by Thomas Agatz HQ Photo Shoot (

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This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only and is held within federally registered trademark Violet Blue® (R).
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The post Sex News: Idaho nudity filters, Brexit culture harms UK sex workers, sextech VC funding, consent condoms, racism in romance appeared first on Violet Blue ® | Open Source Sex.

Japanese virtual YouTuber offers breast milk to most generous fan

Virtual dating games and services are very well-established in Japan, and YouTube is the next logical step in this evolution. One of the biggest virtual YouTuber idols at the moment is Shiro-chan, whose videos offer private dining experiences.

Now the Japanese virtual YouTuber Note Takehana has upped the stakes with a crowdfunding campaign to remake the titular VTuber with 3D computer graphics. To encourage fans to contribute, “she” is offering supporters a range of merchandise depending on how far their wallets stretch.

So what’s the top perk? If you fork out ¥1 million ($9,000), you get a bottle of Note Takehana’s virtual breast milk!

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Being, well, virtual, the character’s milk won’t actually be drinkable, so the lucky (and very generous) backer will essentially get a bottle of milk to suck on while Note Takehana provides visuals that complement the experience of nourishing on her nipples.

If this all sounds crazy, know that Note Takehana’s creator has already exceeded the crowdfunding campaign’s ¥3 million (nearly $27,000) goal thanks to more than 120 backers, and all with 51 days still to go on the campaign. And the most expensive perk with the breast milk has sold out (only one was available). So someone is going to get a nice drink from a 3D virtual idol in the near future.

But here’s a reality check for y’all: Note Takehana is actually male. The character on screen is very much female but the real-life artist behind the digital character is apparently a male illustrator. That being said, the character/YouTuber’s nickname is “mama” — and this latest lactophiliac stunt will only enhance that reputation.

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What happened with Amazon, and decoding “tasteful”

Just so there’s a public record of my recent experience with Amazon Associates, I’m putting it all on one place below. The short version: Amazon terminated my Associates account with vague language about unsuitable content on one of my websites (this one). After reaching out to tell me it was a mistake, but asking me to change a few images, and then going unresponsive, Amazon eventually reinstated my account just over a week later. I discovered that Amazon is doing random, somewhat automated reviews on Associates accounts, but they are fine with nudity on partner website — as long as it is “tasteful.”

Now, the long and more detailed version.

On Tuesday, March 26th, I got an email from Amazon saying my Associates account was terminated “because the content [on this website,] promotes unsuitable activity.” The email also said the company would not pay the outstanding fees owed to me. My account was reinstated eight days later on Wednesday, April 3rd. What happened in the middle of that, in today’s environment of unprecedented sex-negativity by internet companies, is worth an examination. Especially because Amazon was mature, accountable, and sex-positive about the situation.

I’ve been an Associate since 2003, linking from many websites, and have a lot of author-related business with the company in general. My first feelings were confusion (what changed?), panic (this is writer income), and hopelessness (we’re in a dark time for sexual freedom and expression). Amazon Associates is a huge part of my author income; it makes the time and effort put into my book review posts worth it. Associates is also how I make up for the many titles I got swindled out of royalty income for when a major erotic publisher sold its catalog of books without telling any of us authors. Plus, after 17 years my Associates links are everywhere, like other sites I run such as Digita Publications.

I tweeted about the account termination and seizure of my funds. I listed a number of very common, very necessary online business tools that everyone takes for granted, and noted that I was not allowed to use them because of their regressive, discriminatory sex rules (some new under FOSTA, some not).

On Twitter I found lots of sympathy and support; I also got attacked by right-wingers who thought I deserved it for articles I’ve written saying that Facebook should stop defending and disseminating the provably dangerous speech of neo-fascist conservatives. I’m well aware that the war on sex is nothing more than malfeasant security theater, and refuse to be silent about it. The right-wingers’ assumptions that this might be my first experience with sex censorship proved to me just how ‘amateur hour’ the whole conservative-censorship charade really is.

My tweet (and thread) was widely-shared. On April 1st I was surprised by an email and phone message from Amazon Executive Customer Relations. I initially suspected that I was going to get what I call “a PR massage” — when tech companies dislike factual but negative coverage in reporting, they often try to talk journalists like me into changing words in an article to be more favorable to the company (or the company’s lawyers). I’ve had a number of company reps try this over the years. Facebook is the worst; in my experience they’ve tried to get me to change my reporting to something less problematic for them, but also less true. It never works (on me, anyway). I just figured Amazon wanted to tell me bad news in a different way and I anticipated a waste of everyone’s time. Still, I wanted to try and get some answers about their sex content policy.

The rep called me again. She chatted me up for a few buttery minutes then said that Amazon has millions of Associates accounts, which get randomly flagged for review. In this instance, their review system had failed, and they were sorry. They also said they wanted to acknowledge that Amazon does sell “sexual wellness products and smut,” and were fine with nudity, like what was on my website.

I wasn’t expecting to hear that. But then the rep told me that there were a few specific images that had caused their review team to mark my account as violating the operating agreement. Images that were what the team thought were over the edge, not as “tasteful” as everything else, which they said was not a problem. The rep said that before the call, she had tried to find a technical solution — she didn’t know how to code, she said, but had tried to find a way I could just blur a few of the images. I said this was very thoughtful, but that hey, this is an easy fix. I speak code. “If you’re comfortable with looking at my site,” I said, “if it’s within your comfort zone, can you tell me which images to change?” I said I could do it in the next twenty minutes. She said that was great; after the call she’d send me a wrap-up email, and I could respond when the changes were made, and my account could be reinstated that evening.

(I told her I was writing down what she was saying on the call. She told me the call was being recorded. I said, “Oh in that case, please tell Amazon I said thank you for saving The Expanse.”)

There were only three specific images I was asked to change. Two were 300×300 sidebar link images, and one was a lead image for an Eye Candy post. The first was for Abby Winters: this image (not very explicit). Next was for Nubile Films: this image (not graphic). The other image was in a post about indie and “fair trade” porn, this photo (okay, fairly explicit but not in-your-face — certainly not like anything you’d see on the front page of a porn tube site).

As you might expect, I’ve been through situations like this before. It has unfortunately been my experience that what is “tasteful” with one team is not “tasteful” with another company’s team a year later. After Flickr sold to Yahoo, my account got hit in 2007 with the banhammer for having nudes in it; when I got public support, the Flickr’s founder Stewart Butterfield contacted me and I was reinstated with his okay on tasteful nudes. A year later I was banned again by a different team, and was lucky I had the founder’s emails to prove that I wasn’t afoul of the rules. It happened *a third time* in 2013, and again I referenced Stewart’s email to get out of user jail.

That said, I went ahead and changed more images than Amazon requested. I know that “tasteful” is subjective, but there are guidelines I’ve sussed out based on my experiences — it helps to use sex-positivity as a rule, to employ the female gaze, and to avoid anything you’d see as thumbnails on PornHub. My assessment of “tasteful” in this case, based on the three specific images, was that (apart from the obvious, no penetration, close-ups, or graphic nudity) it seemed like clear depiction of sex positions was generally off Amazon’s menu. Not difficult changes.

I got Amazon’s as-promised email confirming our conversation (screencap above). I emailed back within the hour saying changes were made, then … nothing. I emailed again that night to check in, and got an “out of office” response from a different rep. In the morning I emailed again — only to get another ‘she’s not in the office and I can’t help you’ response from yet a different rep. It appeared I was either being flaked on, or lied to.

I was despondent and didn’t know what to do. Imagine being an author, and Amazon doesn’t like you, won’t do business with you, or has put a mark on your record somewhere.

You can’t imagine it because it’s not really possible if you want to survive as an author, let alone be successful.

That same morning I was simultaneously sent a link to Techdirt’s superlative writeup on the whole mess. I was glad I waited to say anything publicly about Amazon telling me it would get fixed; maybe I did get that PR massage after all. I wrote a twitter update, at a total loss as to what I was going to do about anything.

The next day, Amazon Executive Customer Relations appeared in my inbox (and voicemail) again — a new representative. They reinstated my account — and apologized for the delay, and thanked me for “escalating the situation.” I was genuinely surprised, and … happy? Yes, happy. To get my account back, but also to know that Amazon isn’t following companies like Facebook, YouTube, or Apple in goose-stepping off the cliff of humanity, diversity, and sex-positivity by demonizing human sexual expression. Amazon wasn’t being added to the list of major service providers and business channels that are discriminating sexuality writers, artists, workers, and business people into a terrifying oblivion.

Right after my account was reinstated, Open Culture tweeted that they’d just had their Associates account suddenly terminated. Trust me: I looked EVERYWHERE on their website for porn, but I found nary a boob. So I’m inclined to believe the automated review screwup story that first rep told me. And I sure hope Open Culture gets it worked out.

Content copyright © 2013 Violet Blue ® (R) permitted for use on only.
This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only and is held within federally registered trademark Violet Blue® (R).
The use of this feed on any website other than Violet Blue’s Tiny Nibbles: Open Source Sex breaches copyright, violates U.S. Federal Trademark law, and the Federal Trademark Dilution Act. If this content is not in your news reader, it makes the page you are viewing copyright infringement, theft and trademark violation.

The post What happened with Amazon, and decoding “tasteful” appeared first on Violet Blue ® | Open Source Sex.

Welcome in the new Japanese era of Reiwa, which shares the same name as an anime porn game theme song

When the new Japanese era name of Reiwa was announced on April 1st, sparking intense speculation about how best to translate it into English, our first thought was: that could be a great porn star’s name!

Admittedly the kanji characters (令和) are unusual, so it would have to be a homonym. Unfortunately we couldn’t find any decent examples on a brief search

Nonetheless, the most amusing such parallel we’ve spotted so far has actually derived from the official English translation of the name: beautiful harmony.

An online search for “beautiful harmony,” though, may bring up quite a different kind of result than the government intends. It is the name of a theme song by Yui Sakakibara for an erotic anime video game called Buraban! The bonds of melody about… lesbian schoolgirls who play in a brass band!

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Given their musical skills, these young ladies are inevitably very good at sucking and blowing instruments.

The Yuzu Soft adult game, which was first released in 2006 and is rated 18 and over, is hardly the kind of beautiful harmony that we expect the government bods had in mind.

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The Reiwa era begins on May 1st. Will it anything like Buraban! The bonds of melody for you? Let’s hope so.

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