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Cherrystems Media’s statement on Anti-Fascist, Anti-Trump, Anti-Alt Right, Anti-White nationalism, Anti-nazi promises and practices

Cherrystems Media (operating Ciné Sinclaire and Cherrystems) was founded in 2008 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada – on Treaty One territory. We have been learning constantly since inception, and that will only continue as we move forward. Have we taken missteps? Absolutely. Will we continue to work to serve the community that we want to see in the world? Absolutely. Moving forward, we do welcome critique and dialogue on our actions to ensure that we are creating a space that is positive for all.

We are making this statement because this is a time of great unrest in North America and the world. Being based in Canada, we are indirectly effected by the election of Donald Trump in the United States, but still enjoy a great amount of privilege by being in a country that supports human rights, immigration, and diversity (to an extent, and this is nuanced and not perfect, for now). We have realized that we can’t sit silently and allow the status quo to continue without saying something. These have always been our operating standards, but it is more important now than ever that we share them publicly.

Without further ado, here is a statement of our human-centred beliefs:

  1. Feminism is an essential guiding principle at Cherrystems Media. No TERF or SWERF feminism in here. Intersectional, inclusive, fixing-its-shit and learning Feminism is what we strive toward. This is the only way that we know Feminism to exist. It is a living, breathing, learning creature based on facts, research, fairness, and respect for other human beings. Our feminism does not require women to have a uterus, and does not reduce women to their capacity to bear a child or to have breasts or dress or act a certain way. Our feminism does not follow gender norms. To us, Feminism is an active resistance of gender roles, patriarchy, and intolerance. If we fuck it up, we actively welcome discourse.
  2. We are anti-fascist. When a group or person tells us not to question something, we will crack open the books, communicate and collaborate with other groups, and be sure that the truth and fairness prevail. Because we are told to listen, does not mean we will listen blindly. Democracy exists to allow a discourse, and when that discourse is shut down, we will shout from the mountaintops (even if we have to travel from our prairie home to somewhere with a mountaintop) that we exist, we have rights, and we are not going away.
  3. Sex work is work. There is no argument. There is a popular moral argument that selling sex is akin to selling one’s body. We at Cherrystems Media feel that, under capitalism, everyone that has a job sells their skills and their capabilities. Sex work is not different in any way from mainstream non-sex work employment. We do oppose exploitation and trafficking, but these are separate issues mainly addressed by our opposition to patriarchy.
  4. We are anti-Trump. Donald Trump and his entire administration are a real threat to the livelihoods of a great number of people. We respect that there is a presidency system in the USA, but we do not respect Trump in his disrespect of the American people (which includes immigrants, LBGTTQI* folks, people of colour, refugees, and everyone in between).
  5. Cherrystems Media are not affiliated with any religion. We come from all walks of life, and we support everyone’s right to choose their own religious beliefs or to live without religion. We create a diverse community and are supportive of each other’s beliefs or lack thereof, just as the world should be. That said, we will not allow the religious views of any individual or group to dictate the ways in which we operate.
  6. The colour of someone’s skin does not determine their worth as a person. We will actively work toward lessening the divide between racial groups, acknowledging that folks with darker skin actively suffer a great deal because of that skin tone in today’s society. We will address this by giving priority to people of colour on casting calls, working to document the narratives of people of colour, and working to provide people of colour with better access in terms of events, travel, industry relations, and training. 

White supremacist (aka nationalist/alt-right) views are growing in Canada. We need to do everything that we can in order to fight against these views bleeding into our system of politics. 

If you have any questions regarding our policy, things we’ve left out, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Yours,

The Cherrystems Team

 

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Feelin’ Good: How to tell if your porn is positive

I was having dinner with a coworker from my vanilla job recently. He knows about the work that I do at Cherrystems and Ciné Sinclaire and, after just enough liquid courage, he had a question for me.

“So what you do, you make porn with people and you say you make sure they’re safe?” he asked, eyes darting around a little bit.

“Yeah, that’s the main goal of the sets that I run – that everyone is respected and feels safe coming forward with any concerns.”

“Well. For someone like me, how do I tell if the porn I’m watching is porn like that? How do I know if it’s something that was a good experience for the people in it?”

 

This is a conversation I’ve had before. I’ve been asked it by journalists, friends, fans, and coworkers alike. People are starting to show concern that perhaps the films they’re using to get off might be from sources that are a little bit less than positive. I feel like this is mostly due to documentaries like Netflix’s Hot Girls Wanted (which encourages a kind of shitty saviour/rescue complex), but either way it seems there’s a bit of an awakening happening in which sex workers are *starting* to be recognized as human beings worthy of respect (!!!!YAAAAY!!!!). … … (very tentatively). That said, I live in Canada and realize that things here may be very different than other Western countries with even stricter laws.

I want to be clear as I start writing this that there are plenty of folks that make porn for companies that have done exploitative things to some performers but they themselves had a great time there. There’s always nuance, and that’s important.

So here’s the thing: the society we live in has taught us not to think about where things come from. Our clothing, cars, food, it’s all just supposed to have magically appeared on the shelves and racks of the shops we frequent. But it doesn’t. Most of the possessions that we in the Western world tend to have were made in countries where working standards and minimum wages are well below the standard where we live. Work conditions can range from good to absolutely abhorrent. The huge fire in a factory in Bangladesh in 2012 did make some folks take pause, but apparently only for a moment.

In the US (as of 2012), only about 2% of the clothing that is purchased was actually made there – compared with 95% in 1960. A lot of factors played into this – globalization, demand for less expensive items, higher levels of consumerism, and more. The effects are generally that we have lost touch with where the things that we consume actually come from.

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So what does porn have to do with clothing? It’s the same concept. I asked my coworker if he knew where his clothes came from. He said “Old Navy”.

“Yeah, but where? Like, in the world? Do you know the labour laws in that country?” I asked, leaning forward a bit more. He did not know the answer to any of those questions. I explained where my outfit had come from (romper from atelier b Montreal, shrug from moovment Montreal, bag from Barbara and Cecile Winnipeg, etc). He looked stunned. Why? Because knowing where your shit comes from (and even the people that make it) is not common anymore.

With the advent of the internet, porn is a globally shared phenomenon just like clothing. Unfortunately, just like clothing again, we can’t always verify where it came from and what the working conditions were like on site. No matter where it was made geographically, it’s hard to tell. Typically, folks are getting their porn for free from a tube site or pornhub, with little to no information on where the porn originated, who made it, who is in it, and under what circumstances it was made. Finding this out is not easy.

I’m going to provide you with a list of a few things that you can do to ensure that the porn that you watch would make you feel as good to be on set for as it would to watch in the comfort of your bedroom (or kitchen or whatever). There are of course ALWAYS exceptions, and using your critical consumer brain and these tips, you might end up watching something that makes you feel even sexier than you ever have. Because happy performers = happy life.

1. Get to know your production companies

So ya know those little screens and logos you see at the start or end of a porn flick? Mine looks a little something like this:

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Those are your production companies.

It’s easy enough to google things in this day and age, so do just that. Googling the production company is going to have a few possible outcomes for you.

You might find nothing at all for that company. No casting calls, no production company site, no location, nothing. I’d warn that in general, production companies with no online record are ones you might want to avoid a bit, or at least be weary of. I understand that there are likely some smaller production companies that don’t have a huge web presence, but sites like twitter and tumblr are free to set up and use, and allow adult content on them. There are ways to get your business name out there, and so if it’s not out there, this may be a fly-by-night operation. The trouble that lies therein is really that if this company is hard to track down, they might not *want* to be tracked down, for any number of reasons. They may also be a smaller production group under a larger umbrella but using that separate name to distance themselves from issues with the larger company.

You might find lots about the production company you’re googling! Great! Look for what people are saying about this production company. Are there any warnings on message boards about how they treat their performers? Does the company have a mission statement that aligns with your values? Do they have one at all? Even an “about us” section? Does that sort of thing matter to you? Should it? Didn’t you ask me this question in the first place? Ok.

You can tell a lot from a production company just from a little google search. You’d be surprised.

You can also then have a look at the other titles released by the company. Reflect on the collection a bit (while breathing heavily, maybe). If having a diverse cast matters to you – does the company work toward that? Are the titles exploitative (more on that later)? These are all things you can look for.

2. Know your performers (a little)

Some performers are just starting out in the world; some only make one foray into porn; and some have shot hundreds of scenes, operating their own personal site, production company, twitter, tumblr, facebook, and even a LinkedIn account. Basically, some performers are going to be easier to track down than others. Just because you can’t find a performer online doesn’t mean you should raise a red flag, at all.

However, if the performer you’re into has their own twitter, tumblr, blog, or anything like that, try following it and reading what they have to say. They might tweet out that they had an amazing time working with a certain company, or the opposite – that working with one was terrible. A note on this would be that performers often do feel a pressure not to publicly say negative things about working with certain production companies or directors. The whole idea here is that if they say anything bad, they won’t be cast again. Unfortunately, this can be true to certain extents in some circles of porn-making. So how can you counteract that issue?

The short answer is that you can’t. The long answer is that, by getting to know performers online, you’ll come to know when they’re genuinely happy about a certain scene. Follow some neat people like Jiz Lee, Andre Shakti, Wolf Hudson, Mickey Mod, James Darling,  Chelsea Poe, and more! See who they work with, who they’re retweeting, and start to kinda get acquainted with who’s on twitter. It’s a relatively safe space for us porn folk to hang out, unlike Facebook.

3. Look at the language used in titles and marketing

Straight up here, some companies use slurs in their marketing. Slurs that specifically target LGBTQ people and people of colour. Generally speaking, these slurs are pretty not ok. I’m not going to mention them here because that’s not ok. If a company is using these sorts of words, they may have cleared it with the performer first, but they may not have.

For example, if you’re looking for porn with trans women in it, look for the term “trans women”. If a company isn’t marketing their trans porn in a way that respects those women, then that’s not a great jumping off point to trust that everyone was respected at other points along the way.

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*There are some folks that are ok with using those slurs in a sexual play type of way. I’ll add that as our bit of nuance to this bullet point, but keep in mind that you should *really* know that the performer(s) in question were ok with using the word. Maybe they did an interview (like kink.com does) to explain the reasons behind it. But yeah. That’s the kind of thing that needs some ‘splaining.

4. Find a company/performer you trust and pay for their porn

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Oh that sweet sweet green. Yeah, we don’t make much of it down here in the queer/feminist porn sphere. For many of us, the whole love of doing/making porn is to make a statement about our world, our sexuality, and ourselves. But another great motivating factor is getting *paid* to do that. In a world full of free porn, sites that treat their performers respectfully need your cash more than ever.

And if you pay for that sweet sweet porn, you’ll support the making of even more sweet sweet porn! That you can trust! And feel even better about it than you normally would watching porn (which is to say, SO GOOD!).

If you insist on pirating porn that was made positively, you’re stealing the hard work of people that have spent their time, money, and energy to make something really amazing and intimate. And they won’t be able to afford to make more, so it’s back to the status quo. And that would suck.

Plenty of mainstream porn is also made ethically, and they could use your cash too. Just pay for your porn, ok? It’s work.

5. When all else fails, here’s a list!

Ms. Naughty maintains a pretty good list of directors.

Pink Label sells amazing smut from tons of production companies/directors.

Lust Cinema is fantastic.

Ciné Sinclaire and Cherrystems are pretty lovely. (that’s me!)

Another great Canadian, Jessie Anderson, that makes accessible, free queer porn.

Indie Porn Revolution has featured so many amazing people (I’m on there too!)

Spit – some pals from Toronto

And so much more.

Happy jerking off time!

Kate

 

**plenty of folks make porn for sites and companies that might host a lot of questionable stuff, but their work can still be awesome. There are exceptions to the rules. I’ve made sure to attach some free porn to the suggestion list because shit ain’t revolutionary if it isn’t accessible to all**

**If I’ve misrepresented anyone or anything, please do comment so that I can learn and be accountable.

Warning to Performers/Sex workers in New York

OFFICIAL STATEMENT

Cherrystems.com and Cinesinclaire.com have been the victim of an impersonation scam that is at least active in New York, and could be active elsewhere. There is a man posing as a casting director or recruiter for our websites in order to lure sex workers to his home in rural NY. We are not and have never been affiliated with this person.

If you receive a text or email out of the blue asking you to perform with Ciné Sinclaire or Cherrystems, it is likely a scam. We do not typically make first contact with performers and models. Instead, we post casting calls directly on mskatesinclaire.com – Kate Sinclaire’s professional blog. If you are chosen as a performer for one of these calls, you will only be corresponding with someone with an @cherrystems.com or @cinesinclaire.com email address. No gmail! No hotmail! Nothing else!

The laws in America are sadly not in the favour of sex workers, but if you have been a victim of this scam or have been contacted by this man, please fill out our contact form asap to give us a heads up. A similar case to this was recently brought to court and the impersonator was convicted of rape in the second degree for his lies. If we are contacted by enough people, we can look into this.

Remember, only communicate with people with OFFICIAL email addresses when working out a gig with a reputable porn company. Reach out to people that have worked with the company before, reach out to the owners of the companies if you have to/can, and keep yourself safe!

Thank you so much for reading and spreading this information.

Kate Sinclaire
Owner
cherrystems.com
cinesinclaire.com

The Making of: Femmes

I’d worked with Samantha Leigh twice before. Once, she met me in a hotel room and we snapped pictures and chatted and got closer and it was wonderful. I’d known her from various bits of my life – mainly from a conference she runs in Toronto. The second time, we shot some adorable photos in her bedroom while I was out in the Tdot meeting with a few fun toy companies.

But she decided that it was time to maybe move beyond just still photos, into the fancy future of moving pictures. There was a lot of talk around doing it, about insecurities, about body love, and about who to shoot with.

I made up a casting call for Samantha, but ultimately we decided that the best and most comfortable way to ease into the porn world would be to shoot with someone she knows and loves, Jessica Sinclaire (we share no relation, though I insist we’re long-lost porno sisters). We brought Jessica on board, set up a date, and I rented an Airbnb. I was coming out anyway for the Feminist Porn Awards, and getting shooting done around that time of year is one of my favourite things. There’s an energy there. Everyone’s excited – more excited than usual.

Jessica and Samantha arrived in the late morning to my (rented) condo. We chatted, snacked on hummus and carrots and crackers, berries, and an assortment of other goodies. It was then that the bags of accoutrements the two had brought along got dumped out on the floor and we began to plan the shoot for the day.

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It’s like candy.

The femmyness of this pile of pleasure was fantastic. The pearl-encrusted hitachi magic wand was a craft project. The candy pink cuffs and collar. Heels. Bras. Underpants (I’m sorry, I’m just incapable of saying panties and taking it seriously). Everything was lace and pearls and pink and fucking perfect.

We added a few toys to the pile from the Fuze lineup, including the Tango specifically, at which point I take over the conversation and bring in the legal bits and whatnot. By that, I mean all performers sign a 2257 (proof of age) form, a Ciné Sinclaire performance agreement, and I have to witness a conversation about STI status and barriers. I basically ask each performer to disclose their status to their partner with me present, and then to talk about which barriers they would like to use (if any), and ways to check in throughout the shoot to see if things have changed. It’s quite wholesome and lovely.

With all of that out of the way, Jessica and Samantha got themselves dressed and ready. As producer/director of a tiny company, I also do things like straighten straps, apply makeup, refresh water in glasses, and ensure that everyone feels comfortable. My assistant that day, Dayna Danger, also helps out with all of these things. It’s a little family, and I love it.

We’d discussed that the scene would start very casually. It’s my favourite way to shoot, honestly. We’d just start hanging out in the bedroom while Dayna and I synced up our camera settings, and then we’d just kind of start rolling. This is pretty much exactly what we ended up doing on this shoot. I love it because it means that the performers are more at ease – there’s no hard and fast “ACTION” moment, and I get a lot of really great B-roll of the performers just being themselves. I feel like it’s the kindest way to start shooting a scene like this one (that has no scripted dialogue).

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Testing the settings on my camera, but also catching amazing moments.

This was a very free form shoot. That presents so many challenges and also allows for so much creative freedom. Basically, myself and Dayna work hard to be flies on the wall as much as possible during a free form shoot. We just let the action unfold in front of us. And so we did.

Samantha and Jessica were amazing to shoot. It was so perfect to watch both of them giving each other so much pleasure. But the part that really sticks out to me is the moment that Jessica asks if she can squirt all over the bed (it’s the bed I was sleeping in while out in toronto). Of course the answer was a resounding yes, and there’s a bit of behind the scenes footage to show the moment where we cut for a bit in order to hide a towel underneath the duvet. With the towel in place, we pick back up and keep rolling.

Moments later, I notice myself biting my finger behind my camera as the scene intensifies, Jessica’s legs curl up and back, and she gets ever closer to the edge. It’s in that instant that my camera barks a command at me from the screen: “CARD FULL”

Oh god.

“STOP! Shit!” I yell.

Jessica has probably rarely looked at someone with such a look of fear and confusion as I tear off to grab a backup card I have on a dresser a mere 7 feet away from me. Yet my trip there and back, flinging the old card out and the new one in, seemed like it took a year.

Thankfully, Dayna kept rolling, and as soon as I got back to my spot and motioned that I was good, it happened. The Money Shot. Through the magic of editing, none of you will even know the moment. But know, in the back of your head, that it happened.

Watching these two have sex was epic, intimate, and glorious. I truly feel that this hour-long feature captured the essence of the fun that these two have together. I’m so incredibly happy that I get to share it with you.

Check out the trailer and rent/buy the film here on Ciné Sinclaire. 

See you soon, porno connoisseur!

❤ Kate

 

Porn in Public?!: Notes on attending porn screenings

So it finally happened. You got an invite to a film screening – but this one is different. It’s for *adult videos* (read: porn).

Instantly, your mind may be filled with the seedy adult film houses of the past. Dank theatres with sticky floors and tissues scattered about. A wash of shame might come over you as you realize that other people might see you go to this thing.

But. You really want to go.

I’m not saying that porn theatres don’t still exist. They do, in pockets, here and there. But largely, the porn that we consume today is consumed in private. Away from the eyes of strangers. The advent of the home VCR really brought this about. Before they were common, folks had to go out of the house to see their adult films. The Golden Age of Porn began in approximately 1969, with huge directors like Andy Warhol having their explicit works screened in theatres. The film Deep Throat pulled in 600 million dollars at the box office!  These were not small productions, and many many folks went to see them at local theatres. Unfortunately, laws in the US changed in 1973 after a short-lived Golden Age, and obscenity legislation dictated that pornographic films could no longer be played in mainstream movie houses – relegating the films to the above-mentioned seedy theatres. This created a needless stigma on seeing porn in public that has really stuck with North Americans for more than a generation at this point.

Porn is now, however, experiencing another renaissance of sorts. With smaller production companies producing porn that is feminist, queer, ethical, etc, we’re seeing more and more art house porn screenings. Trouble is, with this long of a gap between 1973 and 2016, how are we supposed to know how to act when seeing pornographic films in public?

To help you out, here are 4 things to do/expect when you go to a porn screening near you:

  1. What am I getting myself into?
    You’re going to watch movies with a big group of people, and those films are going to have some adult content in them. The group putting on the screening will generally give you an idea of what to expect, trigger/content warnings if applicable (this means that if there are events that happen in the films that might trigger someone in a PTSD type reaction, organizers will generally post what those triggers might be. ie: fantasies of non-consent, restraint, etc).

    There is no contract to enter into when you walk in the door. You are free to leave at any time if you feel uncomfortable, and organizers generally make sure to say this at the beginning of the event.

    All that said, watching porn in public isn’t all silence and heavy breathing. The first event that I attended was a screening for the Feminist Porn Awards in Toronto. I really had no idea what to expect – and it turned out to run the entire gamut of emotions. There were moments when the crowd would burst into laughter, fits of giggles, or gasps. There were moments when the entire crowd fell silent and few folks dared to breathe. There were sweet smiles, bitten lips, and hands grasped. Everything.

    It really is an amazing experience to be immersed in a crowd of people doing something that is normally such a private thing. It brings out the honesty of the whole thing. A porn film can be appreciated just as a film – with the ability to evoke emotion and spark conversation.

    So really, expect to watch some films! But do be prepared to experience the energy of an entire crowd of people just kind of letting go!

  2. What do I wear?!
    Ah, the age old question of what to wear. In my personal life, I tend toward cute dresses, black tights, and a standard pair of little booties or flats. Hardly kinky, hardly edgy, hardly anything I would have considered sexy. When I started attending porn screenings, I thought I really had to look the part. I put on a tight dress and some heels and wiggled my way to the screening.

    Surprisingly, even some directors that were in attendance were wearing my usual uniform. Some were even wearing jeans! JEANS! And a tshirt! Maybe with a scarf!

    Since going to public porn events, I’ve learned that it’s a very come-as-you-want situation. Some folks like to get dressed up, and some people just don’t. And all of those are fine. Nowadays, I own exactly one faux leather dress for times that I am attending specific kink events, but otherwise, this is how I go to screenings/the grocery store now: 12348014_942934639119821_7408034664679722403_n

    All that said, no two porn screenings are going to be exactly alike. Check into the event to see if there is a dress code.

  3. Am I expected to get touchy? What are the rules around this?
    In general, these are not sex parties unless explicitly described as such. Many of these events take place in regularly licensed bars, theatres, or art galleries. There are a lot of folks in the same space, and generally respecting their boundaries and the situation they agreed to get into is awesome.

    I’ve definitely held people’s hands at screenings. Sometimes it’s because they’re getting all hot and bothered, sometimes it’s because something has triggered them, sometimes they just want to feel connected in this vulnerable situation. But I’ve also sat alone and chilled out.

    As always, consent is huge in this setting. Don’t reach out and grab someone’s hand without asking, ya know? And if someone is getting too touchy near you and you feel violated, well-organized events will back you up in getting those folks to tone it down.

  4. I’m really just in this for the films, how do I make myself feel comfortable?
    So you’re here because your friend made some films and you really want to support them. That’s awesome. Here’s how to make yourself feel comfortable.

    Go, and have fun. Leave your expectations at the door, and maybe you’ll find something that you didn’t know you liked! It’s really that simple. Remember that you can leave anytime, and everything will be alllllllright.

It’s June!

It’s June! And maybe you’ve noticed that Cine Sinclaire is not launched yet. I’m going to take a sec to let you know what’s going on.

Cine Sinclaire is run by a small group of folks –mainly myself and my husband, Aaron, who does the programming for the site. We’d been on track to launch in May, but Aaron got a new job pretty much on May first. The adjustment to the new position has taken a lot more of Aaron’s energy than anticipated. It’s a remote position, which means he’s been working from home – which is awesome! But without a laptop at his disposal, he’s basically been stuck in our basement for up to 12 hours a day, working on his job or on Cine Sinclaire.

Seeing that this was pretty shitty for his wellbeing, I decided I’d much rather delay the launch of the site. Our minds and lives are worth so much, and with my experience with anxiety in life, I don’t want to inflict that kind of work on anyone.

This is a decision that I do not regret in any way. I really do want the site to launch ASAP, and as soon as things have balanced out, we’re only about 2 weeks from launch. Ideally we’ll launch in June now that Aaron has a laptop and can work outside of the basement. Working on the front porch is certainly more refreshing than not seeing daylight, I’m sure you can understand that.

I’m so excited that you’re excited for the launch too! And I can’t wait to share all of this hard work with you!!

Why I didn’t change my last name.

I acknowledge that I am a Canadian white cis woman in a hetero monogamous relationship as I write this. This piece is to express how I came to my choice to keep my name, acknowledging that we all make our own choices.

There are plenty of folks out there that know that I got married this summer. I married a lovely dude with a lovely heart and soul that encourages me to do exactly what I want in life.

People have been full of congratulations to now, but as the months have passed (we’re at 4 months at this point), the conversation has shifted a bit. Folks are noticing something “important” (to them, I suppose). My name on Facebook has not changed. Often it takes a while for folks to get around to being, for example, Jane Smith (Knox) on FB, so I saw that I was being given a decent window in which to “get around to it”. Trouble is, I’m not getting around to it. My legal birth name is still my legal name, and will continue to be until the day that I die. And even then, it’ll still be written on things until the day that those things are too old to be read.

Why? WHAT?! You’re bucking tradition, you’re not being considerate of your partner, you’re making me uncomfortable

Sorry I’m making you uncomfortable by exercising my rights and making you think a tiny bit.

My decision not to change my name was one that I arrived at both through a lot of thought and none at all. I’m going to break this discussion down into a few main reasonings: Equality, tradition, choice, and identity.

I’m talking about straight up equality on the issue of taking a name. If society expects me to take my husband’s name with no question, that’s unidirectional, not equal. That’s an assumption that I will take someone else’s name.

For me, when Aaron and I were dating, I’d brought up the issue of taking names. I remember distinctly asking Aaron if he would take my name if we got married. He laughed at me. Straight up “HAH!” in my face. He did step back and realize what a shit thing this was to do, and how deeply our patriarchal society has effected him, to the point at which he would have a knee-jerk reaction to laugh at me for asking. Some of you may be a bit offended by this, and trust me when I say that I was too.

We unpacked the laugh over the next little while and came to some understandings about it. First off, we break down that women and men (or feminine vs masculine) are not regarded to be on the same playing field when it comes to names.

Men are typically brought up knowing that they will have their name til death (and beyond). Women, on the flipside, are brought up feeling that their last name will not be their last name forever. When women later say something like “Of course I changed my name, I’ve just never really felt that connected to it”, we have to realize that that statement does not exist in a vacuum. Women don’t feel that connected to their names because society teaches them that they are not supposed to hang on to them. It’s deeply rooted in Western culture, and its roots are very interesting and oppressive. Essentially, marrying into a name was all based around the concept of property. And we’re not just talking about the traditional “women have no rights” thing, we’re going back to as recently as the 1800s, where women became the property of the man upon marriage, stripping her of her right to own land, vote, or participate in contracts (known as coveture) even though unmarried women could do at least *some* of those things. Any children that woman bore were to carry on the name of the father, thus creating a stream of property heirs, insuring that any material wealth accumulated would stay in the family. It wraps everything up into a neat little package. Trouble is, women were part of that neatly wrapped package only as property themselves.

This is where our tradition came from. Marital rape, oppression of personal rights and freedoms, property bypassing women, inability to enter contracts or own land, the list goes on. Obviously, for some, this isn’t exactly a system that they would want to honour as a tradition. That’s their choice, and it’s fine because it’s theirs.

I understand that, today, women are granted all of those freedoms (though some often come under fire again and again, namely marital rape). Arguments against keeping one’s name are generally for tradition and for ease of family naming. Tradition, I don’t mess with. If that’s your choice and it makes you happy and you’re not forcing it on anyone or hurting anyone, do it ’til you can’t.  But if it’s really all about family naming, shouldn’t the woman’s name be equally considered in the conversation? If that’s *really* the reason folks pester me about changing my name, why aren’t they also pestering Aaron? Because that’s not really the issue here, is it? It’s back to tradition and the assumed idea that women will change their names. In fact, 70% of Americans think that women *should* change their names, with 50% of people thinking it should be law (NY Daily News).

So let’s think about tradition.

Tradition is something closely held by individuals, but can often vary from person to person. Around Christmas, I watch Muppet Family Christmas, and my father watches It’s a Wonderful Life. Arguments for which comes first are heated. Tradition!

Keeping that in mind, it’s assumed that everyone’s tradition is the same: that women take men’s names. It’s also assumed that tradition can’t ever be changed. For myself, I grew up in the province of Quebec here in Canada. In the early 1980s, Quebec introduced part of the Civil Code of Quebec that stipulated that women would keep their maiden names. My parents married in 1981, at which point the code was already in place. My mother kept her maiden name. When I look to the rest of my family, I see the exact same thing. All of my aunts and uncles have kept their names, save for one aunt and uncle that hyphenated. Among all of them, one family chose to assign surnames to children based on their sex (females take the mother’s last name and males take the father’s), and the rest went for the more traditional model of the children taking the father’s name. The latter situation includes my family. My mother has always had a different last name than her children, which is an interesting thing. I’ve asked her if she feels that this severs her connection with us, which she has always answered no to, seeing as she will always be linked with us by blood and experience. But really, she would have been free to give us all her name as well. It’s all super personal and based on the relationship(s) involved.

While the act in Quebec is problematic because it eliminates the choice of women to change or not to change their names, it did create a new tradition for me, and most importantly showed me that the world does not end if your last name does not match your spouse’s last name. I realized that, based on my lack of exposure to family members changing their names, I hadn’t really ever seen myself as wanting or needing to take my partner’s name, no matter their gender. My tradition is not to take my partner’s name. All it takes is one generation to flip that script, and I’m living proof.

There’s also the problem of writing into law that a woman must take a man’s name in marriage because, well, not every marriage is between a man and a woman. And also choice, preference, and, ya know, equality.

And a word (or 100) on identity. One’s last name can be a source of pride, of status, and of personal identity on so many levels. Offices, companies, products, all kinds of things bear the names of the people and families that invented, opened, or produced them. Traditionally, this was men – because, if you remember, women couldn’t really own things, so if you saw Sampson and co, Sampson was probably a dude. Women, on the other hand, are taught from a young age that their name is not going to be their name forever. There may be work already done to study the effects of being unable to fully connect with one’s own name, but I’d posit that it presents itself as yet another barrier to women in the professional workplace. If anyone has more information on this, please let me know.

As for my legal birth name, I’ve made it my own. I’m lucky enough that my own personal and family history lets me personally enjoy and own my own last name. I realize that, technically, my last name is what it is because it was my father’s name, but I’m not letting that stand in the way of my keeping it. We have entire generations of women whose names *are not* their own. They’re their fathers’ names until they have their husbands’ names. Knowing this, I’m claiming my name as my own, keeping it, and venturing forward into the world to create new traditions on my own terms. No, the answers are not written in stone anywhere as to what I’d do if I had a baby, but guess what? Not all marriages are focused on having babies either! If we got around to it, our communication level in our relationship now puts us in a place where we can have the discussion honestly without a knee-jerk laughing reaction.

So there’s my story. I’m sticking to it. Aaron’s sticking to it. We’re fine. Quit asking me when I’m going to “update” my name on Facebook, because it’s just fine the good ol’ traditional way it was throughout my life, IRL.

Casting Call: Toronto November 6-10, 2014

ALL PERFORMERS MUST BE OVER THE AGE OF 18 AND PROVIDE TWO PIECES OF ID TO PROVE THIS FACT.

CinéSinclaire.com, a soon-to-be launched Canadian feminist porn production company under the umbrella of Cherrystems Media is announcing a casting call for the Toronto area between November 6-10, 2014. Shoots will be approximately 2 hours in length, with a consent conversation beforehand and debrief afterward.

What we’re looking for:
Do you have a sexual story to share with the world? We’re presently casting performers for 15-30 minute clips to be used on CinéSinclaire.com. We’re looking for individuals that want to exhibit the ways that they have sex, be it vanilla, kinky, spiritual, masturbation, anything. The kind of sex you’re having is the kind of sex we’d love to put on film.

We are actively seeking anyone of any gender expression, orientation, shape, size, skin colour, ethnicity, and age (over 18), to create porn with us. We are ideally looking for couples or people that would like to work with another person that they are already familiar with, but will also look at full casting options.

To apply, complete the following:
Please send a brief but descriptive blurb about what you would like your scene to be, and why you feel this kind of sex should be on film, to kate@cherrystems.com. If you would like to include your ethnicity, gender, size, orientation, or otherwise, you are more than welcome to but are not required. Also please add confirmation that you are 18 years of age or older to your email.

Let us know if you have a shooting partner (or partners) in mind. Please only suggest people that you have already approached. We will need to speak with this person before the shoot as well.

Please include one photo of yourself so that we know what you look like! We do not discriminate, this is purely to get to know you and your aesthetic.

Shoots will take place in the area of downtown Toronto, ON, Canada at some point between November 6-10, 2014. Please advise if you’ll need an accessible space.

This is a paid shoot. Our reply email will contain details.

Getting shit done.

I’ve been a bit absent of late, and that’s ok. I took some time off from updating Cherrystems once a week, and that’s ok. I’m changing the direction of things a bit.

Cherrystems was sadly held hostage in a way for a long time. I bent to demands while suffering personally and, I suppose, professionally. I’ve been hitting up some seriously awesome therapy sessions, meditating (to be with myself and without the demands of others), working on me, and I’m pleased to say that I’m coming out the other side. 

I will take zero shit, and Cherrystems is my world-changing, life-making, love of my life. Haters gon’ hate. I’ll do it myself, and with a tiny team of dedicated people. I know, I know, this sounds passive. And it probably is. I just have to note that I’ve been held down and back long enough, that the suffering that I experienced was great enough, that I won’t share what happened or who pushed too hard *with anyone*, because that’s not productive either. But, I suppose this feels important to say because it’s a renaissance in my life.

I am responsible for the feelings of no one. I will put a body of work out into the world and I’ll be fucking proud of it. And I’ll admit when I’m wrong if I am at any point, and I’ll engage in productive dialogue about it, but I won’t let it hold me hostage any longer.  

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me.

I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”

– José Micard Teixeira

 

I had to change my path not because of anyone or any specific event. I had to change it for my own sake, and in turn, others will benefit. Lead with love in your heart, and not fear. I feared upsetting some people because they *made* me afraid, I feared retribution that was threatened and, in some cases, enacted. Fear was leading me, and I’m not letting it anymore. When you’re a woman running your own business, that’s hard shit to get your head around. Bending to the will of others is how women are generally brought up. I’m bigger than the societal norms that raised me. And again, it’s not an active rejection of people or situations, but a rejection of fear. 

I’m gonna change the goddamn world, it’s going to piss some people off, but it’s right.

Rad Retailers: Come As You Are

 

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This bright green space really encourages you to Come just as you are.

Come As You Are is the very first stop on our way through highlighting some of the absolutely amazing retailers that carry Fuze. Retailers that we work with are absolutely top notch, and they may exist in *your* city, even if you don’t know about them yet. We’re here to tell you all about why we love each shop, and why you should support them by shopping there.

CAYA, as it’s colloquially referred, isn’t just your average sex toy shop. They’re special for so many reasons. First off, they’re a worker owned co-op. If that sounds a bit novel to you, it’s because it is. They’re the only worker owned sex shop in the whole world! It’s not an easy task being so awesome and anti-capitalist, and so the shop has seen its ups and downs. For example, in 2013, the shop fell on hard times and needed to do something to turn the tides *fast*. A testament to the impact this shop has had on the community, folks rallied to support them. CAYA bounced back, but the little scare proved to everyone just how important it is to support the shops you love.

Co-operatives are based on values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. As a co-operative we believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others. This fits well with our mandate as a sex-positive sex store serving a wide range of clientele.” – CAYA’s website

CAYA carries a lot of really great toys and gear, from vanilla to kink and back again, as well as a great selection of books. Carefully curated, everything that comes into CAYA is top quality, but with enormous attention paid to accessibility (cost, use, etc) and inclusion. There are so many amazing, truly sex-positive bits about CAYA that I honestly can’t write it all out. If you’d like to learn more, head over to their About Us section, and read until you can’t get the smile off of your face.

When you walk in the door, you’ll be greeted by the smiling bright green room lined with toys of all shapes and sizes. The friendly staff will be more than happy to answer any questions that you might have in a very friendly, accepting, and attentive way. You’ll also find information on all the workshops that CAYA runs, and their amazing sex toy recycling program, which helps folks who don’t have as much cash to have access to quality toys made of body safe material – something we believe everyone should have.

I’m also mega excited that CAYA will be coming to Winnipeg in late May/early June. I’m presently working on organizing a workshop for them while they’re out here, so keep your eyes peeled for more information.

In the meatime, head over to CAYA’s online shop and buy all the Fuze goodies!!