August 5th was my birthday. I celebrated it much like I celebrate every day; by waking up and immediately going to work. The commute is short -- from my bedroom to my dining room. This satisfies my sense of personal urgency, my irregular sleep schedule, my desire to run a "green" office, and my lack of interest in coordinating my wardrobe, brushing my hair, or dealing with roadway traffic before absolutely necessary.
I rarely drink coffee, although there are times when I make exceptions. I find that if I need to send a shock to my nervous system there's no need to wait for the grinder to stop and the caffeine to kick in -- all I need to do is read the headlines. Then, fully awake, I can gape in awe at the echoing silence that all too often greets injustice, especially when perpetuated by those cloaked in respectability.
Maybe it's the fact that my father tried to raise me patriotic or maybe it's because my mother tried to raise me Catholic. Maybe it's because I watched my mentally retarded sister unfairly judged or maybe it's because being a brainy fat chick with a big mouth wasn't in vogue when I was a prematurely Goth schoolgirl. Maybe it's because I've been dead three times or maybe it's because my system has a low tolerance for hypocrisy and a burning urge to make a meaningful contribution to civilization as I wish to know it.
Whatever is the cause, the result is the same: a belly full of ideals and an ever-increasing realization that if I want to do more than complain about how unfair the world is, I need to put aside childish things and get to the business of being an adult.
Being an "adult" within the world of adult entertainment sometimes seems like an oxymoron. After all, so much of what we do is successful because it has at least the veneer of taboo, regardless of how many people consume our products/services or indulge in the activities that we showcase or facilitate. Those of us with the brass cajones to work in the world of explicit expression, whether from conviction, dumb luck, or calculated Capitalism, often find ourselves branded outlaws at the mere revelation of our affiliation with sexuality. Given that even gynecologists are the butt of nervous jokes, it only stands to reason within a repressed society that anyone who traffics openly in sexual pleasure will earn a special place in the Establishment's discomfort zone.
While I was forcibly recumbent in the trauma ward of Bess Kaiser Hospital, recovering from critical injuries sustained when the VW Bug I was flying in came in for an abrupt landing, I vowed to be true to myself and never let another person tell me how to live my life. I've had my lapses, but allowing the aforementioned Establishment to define my existence is entirely contrary to my belief in a lot of things, including the value of sexual diversity -- which is what keeps eager erotic professionals in business and demand. Just because I'm an "outlaw" from hypocrisy, doesn't mean I am so outside of the law that I have neither a right nor an obligation to interact with or contribute to the world that likes to depict itself as unrelated to sexuality.
Just as I can write an article, a column, a story, or a script promoting my vision of a sex positive world, so can I write a letter to the editor, join a political or charitable organization, become informed about important social and political issues, attend a city council meeting, vote for the candidate of my choice -- or become the candidate of my choice.
While not everyone can or should run for a position in their state House of Representatives or Senate like I've done, there is no shortage of opportunities to make a positive contribution somewhere. For those unready or unwilling to become involved with their local temple, synagogue, church, or mosque, there are innumerable secular groups and organizations looking for blood, sweat, tears, warm bodies, and all depths of pockets.
Not to sound too Pollyanna, but whether it's helping maintain a pioneer cemetery, reading to the elderly, collecting box tops for schools, donating canned goods for the sick, becoming a precinct captain during election time, sitting on a local water board or zoning committee, or calling a candidate to make sure s/he knows that you work in adult and you vote -- it all matters.
It's easy to become lost in the "my voice, my vote, my nothing really matters" way of thinking. After all, that's how the people who want to silence our voices, our votes, and our everything, want us to think. And maybe, like Gandhi once proposed, it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things what we do, so much as the fact that we do it -- but my experience after nearly two decades or writing about sex, nearly a decade of producing erotic social events, and more than four decades of drawing breath is that the things we do -- even the small things -- can matter very much, especially to individuals. And it is with the individual that all great social changes begin to take root.
Pornography and the adult industry didn't invent the activities that they facilitate; they just have the guts to admit they exist and don't necessarily require an apology for existing. Yet the very same people who will cheerfully discuss the pros and cons of shaved vs. bushy, natural vs. silicone will clamp their lips together tighter than a virgin's knees when it comes time to speak out or step up for community or political involvement. Whether from fear, apathy, or shame, many of our visionary social daredevils have passively agreed to let the Establishment not only define who they are -- but legislate and propagate injustices not only upon all of our houses, but upon all of the houses of our friends and families, as well.
One of the things that gives the adult entertainment business so much power over the "real" world is that it is fearless. It utters the unutterable and speaks what has been left unspoken. It names names. It avoids euphemism. It searches for frank language, and it shines light where others have insisted upon shadow, mystery, fear, and confusion. Now that is a truly radical, outlaw path to walk. That is the path of an adult -- and it is a path that has a right -- if not an obligation -- to intersect with the "real" world.
(Originally published in XBiz World)
Follow Theresa Darklady Reed on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheDarklady