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!!

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Ciné Sinclaire’s Curated Clip Store – Call for submissions!

Do you make porn? AWESOME! Are you Canadian? EVEN BETTER! Not Canadian? Read on, you may also fit in here.

CinéSinclaire.com is a porn site with emphasis on the experience of fucking/sex/intimacy. Performers guide shoots through their own boundaries, wants, desires, and consent. We are launching this Spring with a catalogue of our own films produced by Kate Sinclaire, and a clip store of content produced by others. We are intersectionally feminist, and prioritize the inclusion of groups of people that are traditionally underrepresented in porn, or that are traditionally not given space for their own narratives.

We will be implementing a curated clip store section of our site. We’re paying specific attention to Canadian producers, but are happy to view work from anywhere in the world! If you’d like to submit some of your own work to be hosted on our clip store, we need a few things from you:

-The file in final high res quality: 1080p is great, or whatever the largest file size you have is. Please send in MP4 (H.264+AAC) format.
-A 20-40 second trailer to promote the piece, again in the same formats above.
US 2257 forms for all performers featured in your work. This includes everyone that appears in the film, whether they are active participants or not.
This form, filled out, giving Cine Sinclaire permission to distribute your film, and stating that you have the rights to distribute the film. If you did not produce the film personally, you must obtain permission from the original producer. Cine Sinclaire and Cherrystems Media will not claim responsibility for distributing films that are not owned by the person that submits them, and legal action can be taken against the submitter if the rights do not belong to them, for misleading Ciné Sinclaire AND for violating copyright of the original producer.
-Send all information to kate@cherrystems.com, and send all files to the same dropbox. Not all films will be eligible for the clip store – we will select films based on quality. In doubt? Submit and see! Anything not accepted will be politely returned with encouragement to create more, and the work will not be featured in any way on Ciné Sinclaire.

Hooray! It’s that easy! Now, how does the payment work?

Payment will be distributed to the party that submits the film to Ciné Sinclaire when a certain profit level is reached. To begin, this pay out level will be in $50 increments or monthly (if film is making more than $50 profit per month, that month will be paid all at once. If it takes a film longer than a month to make $50 profit, pay will be sent out when the film makes $50) and will be online-based. Ciné Sinclaire will take a 40% cut of the sale of each film to cover bandwidth, maintenance, processing fees, and customer service. The remaining 60% will be given to the party that submits the film. A minimum price will be suggested based on length of the film, but producers are free to otherwise name their own price for their work.

Can I have my own store?

This option is coming down the road, but for now, users will indeed be able to search the Ciné Sinclaire clip store by production company/producer, as well as by performer and various tags! You can host all your own work in one spot without worrying about all the time and cost of building a website! Yay!

When does it launch?

We’re just finishing up final details of the design now, so the rest is really just waiting on various things to be implemented/go through. We’re ideally hoping for April/May 2015 at this point! Speed bumps happen. 😉

Let’s make amazing things happen together!

My Journey Through Porn

TW: sexual assault, rape

Spoiler: Porn is the good guy.

I’ve been working in some kind of porn in some kind of way since I was roughly 20, which was 10 years ago. You can look into my projects here and here. I won’t get into them now, but know that they’re awesome and you should totally check them out if you’re over 18.

This is more about the years in between than where I am now, though. It all really starts years before that, growing up in a working class household in a white suburb of a mid-sized city in the middle of nowhere. A city most recently named Canada’s most racist, which is an interesting thing to note but of course isn’t the subject of this. Or not so much directly.

I grew up in a household that encouraged a positive relationship to sex and sexuality as children, mostly due to my mother’s openness. My puberty wasn’t really full of questions as I moved through sex ed. I’d already read it all in books by the time I was 10 and hitting sex ed for the first time in 5th grade.

Shit was honestly pretty idyllic and lovely.

And then I got my period. My curfews stalled, and I was no longer allowed to hang around with boys. My life became super scrutinized, and I had no idea what happened to the open conversations we used to have around sex. My bedroom and personal items were routinely rifled through looking for evidence of penis in vagina, drugs, drinking, anything.

I was a developing woman myself at around 12, and I found that drawing the female form in the nude helped me to understand my own body and that of others. By creating images, I was rejecting ideals and body types that were so frequently presented to me as a young woman with eyeballs. I got to explore what I thought people’s bodies looked like under their clothes, which always fascinated me. It still does.

I threw out a few of the drawings that weren’t as awesome, as one does. One day, my parents found a drawing that I did of a naked woman, lying on the floor, an arm draped across her body. I’d thrown it out because it just wasn’t good enough, or I’d drawn her arms too long, or something, and it wasn’t going to be right. I thought literally nothing of it, because my history of talking to my mother about bodies was so open. And I was throwing this in the trash, so who gives a shit, right?

A few days later, I was called to the kitchen table to have a talk with my parents. There lay the drawing. I was confused as to why we were having a meeting. My mother, to her credit, did reassure me that if I were attracted to women, then that was fine. But overall, the message was clear. I was not supposed to do this. I was not supposed to draw naked people. It made my parents uncomfortable. I remember them asking why I had drawn it. I replied simply that I thought the female body was beautiful. This wasn’t a good enough answer. There was shame, there were instructions not to do it anymore. It was made clear to me that naked women’s bodies were primarily not mine to enjoy since I said I was not gay, and here I was, a 12 year old human with a vagina, drawing naked women. It seemed logical to my parents that I was possibly a lesbian – because bodies are for sex, not beautiful in their own right.

I tore up all the drawings of naked folks I’d done. I internalized that shame, that nudity was supposed to be shameful, and, mostly, that naked bodies were not mine – not even my own body.

Skip forward about 4 years, and I became sexually active at around 16. I suppose I still had my virginity, but that’s just by some societally-accepted version of things. I’d actively decided that I was not going to have p-in-the-v sex until I felt ready to navigate everything that came along with it. I did everything else, because I knew from my still-voracious appetite for sexual knowledge which actions carried a lower risk of STIs and pregnancy.

My first sexual experiences were with complicated at best, and not that amazing. Mostly. There is a certain level of sloppiness in human interaction, and I get that. And we’re talking about a bunch of young folks that only have basic sex ed (mostly anatomy, and mostly internal anatomy in terms of what we learn about those with uteri) and have had nothing but mainstream porn and media to inform them of what sexual encounters should be like. It’s a lot of fumbling, and it was mostly based around some fucked up things based around access and rights to women’s bodies. But I don’t feel like any of it was out of the ordinary. It was exploration of bodies, consent, and emotions.

All of these experiences came to a head while I was in my first long-term relationship. Rights and access to my body were reinforced as not belonging to me in this relationship. We moved in together. I was fresh (two months) out of high school and 18 years old, and here I was living with this guy in a two bedroom apartment on a notoriously rough street North of Portage Avenue in Winnipeg. I honestly loved the idea of the freedom that came with it, but hadn’t bargained for the intricacies of living with a partner – and all the issues around porn that would surface because of it.

I’d had issues around porn since I was about 10 and had walked in on my father using the early internet to slowly download photos of naked women. I’d mentioned it to my mother, and it nearly caused a divorce. The choice to have or not have the divorce, however, was actually placed on me. My two other siblings had hard answers to the idea of divorce, yes and no respectively, and my mother did not want to make a decision. I remember sitting on a blanket at one of my brother’s football games and being given all the information and told to make a choice. Clearly, porn was the cause of all this stress (and not my parents’ inability to fucking communicate or make decisions like a goddamn adult), and so I associated porn with destruction of relationships.

My partner’s porn habits quickly became obvious. I shared my experience and asked what kind of compromise we could come to. To continue the shitty communication, he agreed not to look at it anymore (unrealistic – for both of us, actually). I inherited my parents’ distrust and frequently checked into his history, learning that he was indeed still consuming the porn. Then we sat down to talk about it. And it was completely the worst fucking thing.

Instead of “I see how you feel”, it was “why aren’t you as cool with it as the women in the movies and pictures?” The conversation went entirely that way, and then it was over. He told me that, even though we were having sex 2-4 times daily, I was not sexually open enough. He started to pick clothes for me that were much more revealing than I would ever have worn, and I kept trying harder to make him happy, by doing pretty much anything.

This is the lady we’re talking about, at age 19, in the second apartment my then-partner and I lived in.

I enjoyed sexual exploration, so I was mostly happy to engage in as much activity as there was to be had. The trouble is, that wasn’t really good enough for him. Being perpetually available was not good enough. There was a lot of emotional manipulation, specifically making me paranoid, and lots of things that I realize now were abuse – like waking up covered in cum, unbeknownst to me. He was expressing what he thought of me by using my body while I was asleep, without my consent. I’d wake up either from the icky sticky wetness feeling on my body or, if I managed to sleep through the night, I’d wake up with a crust to shower off while he’d already left the house. I did object. Every time.

This was a person who was actively involved with the U of W’s LBGT* and Women’s Centres.

I feel so disconnected from that story, even now. I have trouble picturing it or understanding it as a thing that a human would do.

The relationship dissolved along the way as he slept around, and insisted on an open relationship on his end and not on mine. He was to be allowed to sleep with anyone at all, and I was to wait around – because women’s bodies are property, and his penis had laid claim to that piece of land. I called bullshit on this, and we finally decided we’d call it quits. That night, he did not return home after dinner to decide who was moving out – instead, he hooked up with a woman that lived several floors above us, then expected to come back into the apartment to get ready for work. I lost my mind.

It was after my initial breakup with my partner that I decided to shoot for a website. I met some stranger at his apartment in Osborne Village, he filled me up with gin, and I took off my clothes. Something clicked in that moment for me. I felt powerful; in control. I was 20 at this point.

The first shoot – with not-so-great lighting, but lovely otherwise!

My motivations for starting in porn were definitely not ideal. There was a lot of baggage there, and much of the motivation was to show men how sexually available I was, and how I was just as cool as the women in porn – while still maintaining that I didn’t like porn, and that what I was doing was somehow better. Obviously, I was being a hypocrite, but we’ll get to that. However, there was also the motivation of body positivity, and giving other people that feeling of being powerful and in control of their own image. I was still just grappling with all kinds of shit.

I continued to sleep with people randomly, and I can say that a lot of it was exploratory and fun, but the way that I was doing it was still mostly based in the fucked up abuse of the first long term relationship. I used sex to get to people, and to try to have some kind of power. I also used it for fun, and as an outlet, but much of it came from a pretty dark and fucked up place.

It was around the age of 21 that I met a guy in a bar, which was not an odd occurrence. We decided to meet up after class one day, since we were both studying at the U of M. We went out for a drink, it was nice, and then we headed back to my place. I remember having the conversation, in which he asked me if we were going to sleep together. I’d been trying to give myself a bit of time to figure myself out at the moment, and so I’d actually used my own words when I said “Ya know, I don’t think I’m actually that kind of girl.” Which I meant to mean that I was realizing that maybe I wasn’t the kind of person that wanted to sleep around all the time – maybe I wanted to start being choosier and making the decisions for myself. (I should note that there is nothing at all wrong with being *that kind of girl*, just that I was reconsidering if I was or if I just thought that I should be)

Long story short, I got drugged that night in my own home and I put out whether I wanted to or not.

Cue the string of possibly even worse decisions and avoiding of even more realities. I did a lot of fucked up things to a lot of people. I dabbled in some super unhealthy BDSM-type activity (BDSM is not inherently unhealthy, but my topping was not from a positive place, and when I was being bottomed, I’d relive my various abuses in a negative way), dated guys who would routinely yell at me, and generally just did what I could to get by. But through all of this, the idea of Cherrystems blossomed. The body positivity, owning your own image, and being in control of how you are represented. It was the only thing that kept me from feeling the pain at a deep level.

Still, I refused to call Cherrystems porn. I felt it was something better, more thought out, empowering, and positive. The porn that I thought I knew ruined relationships and made men believe that they owned women’s bodies. What I didn’t realize is that porn can be all of those positive things too, and that what I was doing was really no different – it was just given a privileged narrative.

As I grew up and began confronting my demons, I started to realize the truth of the situation. It wasn’t porn that was fucking anything up. It was all people in my life. It was people avoiding real communication, compassion, and forcing me to make decisions that I didn’t want to have make. My parents couldn’t see eye to eye on it, and ultimately put their relationship on me. Being young, I couldn’t fathom my parents being wrong – and so the culprit was most definitely pornography. I brought this pain with me to my future relationships, came down hard on a lot of folks about their use of porn even though I was also consuming it in the same way – but I figured in my hypocrisy that the way that I was using it was not exploitative and was somehow better.

But then we get to the tricky bit. I started to do interviews for newspapers and radio in which I’d get the question – is Cherrystems art or porn? And what is the difference? I at first insisted that we were different because porn was inherently exploitative, and that it dehumanized people and broke them down into parts with functions rather than autonomous human beings with bodies that have parts. Indeed, there still is a difference between those two methods of producing porn, I just hadn’t realized that. I didn’t yet have the vocabulary and experience with feminist porn to realize that that’s all it was – a difference in production styles and values. As I started to become more exposed to the idea that porn could be positive, I slowly began to unpack my own hangups with it. Soon, I realized that porn and art are the same thing. A switch flipped, and though I still felt uncomfortable with it, I started calling Cherrystems porn.

Once I started calling it porn, I was forced to understand all of the moments in my life that had shaped my relationship to the *concept* of pornography. It was a challenge. A fuck of a challenge. But it was something so liberating. I was and continue to be constantly inspired by people that are so amazing, that have their own stories to tell.

I think ultimately, Cherrystems and Ciné Sinclaire are my story to tell. They’re the story of my own reclaiming and newfound understanding of my own sexuality.

Airports: who to actually direct your anger at.

I travel a lot. Like, a lot a lot.

I see people everywhere getting mad at everything, from having to take off their shoes, to boarding in the wrong zone, arriving too early, arriving too late, everything. And I get it. Going to an airport totally sucks. If I could avoid having to enter one of those things ever again, I probably would. But it’s rare that anyone actually *understands* the process involved in airports.

I’m just going to break down the process of airports to you so that you can understand who to *actually* be mad at when shit hits the fan. It’s too often that I hear people boarding a plane out of breath saying “I almost didn’t make it! JetBlue’s security attendants took FOREVER.” That’s not true. Yes, be upset that CATSA (in Canada) and the TSA (in the US) had a long lineup, sure. Here, I’ll break down the four main organizations in charge of your shitty time at the airport, to hopefully help you understand just what is happening, and why. It’s going to be largely from a Canadian perspective, but applies pretty nicely to the US.

1. The Airport Authority.

The airport that you’re flying out of isn’t just a building that the airline you’re flying with owns. This is essential to note. Think of the airport more like a mall. They’re renting space out to airlines, and they’re in charge of maintaining the facilities. Not enough seats in your boarding lounge? That’s the airport. Dining options suck? That’s the airport. The layout of the customs hall is labyrinthine? Airport. Gate numbering? Airport. Placement of departure/arrival screens? Airport. Perhaps you get the point?

People often walk into an airport knowing “I’m flying Air Canada, and to do that, I have to go to this building where Air Canada is, which means this is Air Canada’s building.” But it’s really really not. Airlines have to bid for gate and counter rentals in airports (especially busier ones), and it can cost a huge amount of money. Note that this also factors in to how expensive your ticket is, as airlines have to pay to rent that space. A gate is the place that you go to after security to board your aircraft.

When you go to the mall, you go to the Apple store. On the way in, you use doors and floors and maybe the washroom. Perhaps you need to take a break in a little seating area, but you can’t find one. There’s not enough seating! Does it actually make any sense to then take to twitter and yell “DAMN YOU APPLE STORE FOR NOT HAVING ENOUGH SEATING IN THIS MALL YOU DON’T OWN!!”? No. Airlines are stuck with what the airport gives them, and since gate bids are often competitive, airports don’t really need to do a ridiculous amount to their facilities in order to make money off of those gates. So yeah, if there’s a problem with a washroom, lack of seating, lack of dining options, or anything really effecting your time in the airport, complain to the airport.

2. Security.

The TSA, or CATSA (Canadian Air Transport Security Authority) here in Canada. We’re not here to discuss the effectiveness or need for the TSA/CATSA. That’s another conversation for another person to have. What we’re here to talk about is what *they* do, and who *they* are not.

CATSA is just like an airline in that they are using space in an airport that they do not own. They need to be there by air regulations, but they are also not the Airport Authority. They are there to make sure that all laws and regulations of operating an airport are adhered to. They’re kind of like the police, I suppose. Again, the police do not own the streets, but they have to enforce laws on them.

CATSA searches your bags, scans your boarding pass, and does a personality assessment by having an interaction with you. They’re useful to airline and airport employees because they’re often someone’s first point of contact at the airport. Intoxicated folks cause a LOT of problems in airports and on airplanes, and security can catch those people and tell them to go sleep it off before they become a problem at 40,000 ft. It can be hard to go through security knowing that you’re under scrutiny, but remember that if you know you are not going to disturb shit, just get through it and you’ll come out the other side – back into the loving arms of the Airport Authority.

They also use a randomizer to select folks for additional screening, to avoid profiling people. I’m not saying they don’t ever do it (because they have), but that mat you step on that makes green or red or double green or double red or whatever arrows appear dictates which line you’re going to.

When your knitting needles get taken away by security (CATSA), your knitting needles were taken by neither the Airport nor the Airline. I hear countless folks saying this kind of thing – “JetBlue took away my lighter.” No, they didn’t. Security did. A totally different organization, renting space from a totally different organization took away your lighter. Directing complaints to the right place is *super* important. If you have a complaint that the TSA/CATSA mistreated you, you *need* to bring that forward to the right organization. Writing a full on complaint to an airline about your mistreatment by the TSA/CATSA is not going to change a single thing.

3. The Airline

Here’s the last part of our little jaunt through an airport. Your airline. They are the ones that own (or lease) the airplane you’re about to fly on, hurray! They also employ people in the airport, but these people do not work *for* the airport. They work for your airline. They are the Apple Store employees, so to speak. They work at the airport, but not for the airport. They’re the ones working the check in counters, helping you at the kiosks, moving your bags around behind the scenes (sometimes this is centrally handled by the airport, though, and specific airports have it written that when landing there, an airline MUST utilize its airport’s employees for things like baggage handling and other ramp activities). So I guess that would be like a mall telling the Apple store that they are never to empty their own garbage, and that mall employees MUST come around and do it for them.

Your Airline can totally help you with things like connections and carry on baggage and things like that. They’ll also be the ones to help you in the case of a delay (or not, as my experience with Air Canada and United goes – ohhhhh!). Your airline is in charge of following the rules too. They have to check ID during boarding up here in Canada, and have to obey all kinds of little rules put forward by Transport Canada (more on this in a moment). Your airline is the one that is late or early or cancelled. Your airline is in charge of keeping you up to date on all of these things, though the Airport Authority runs those arrival/departures boards, which are sometimes not super up to date. If in doubt, ask a question. If you’re asking a reasonable question about an airline-specific thing, you should be answered in a reasonable timeframe. If not, complain away about your airline!

All of this also goes for compliments, obviously.

4. Transport Canada/FAA

I specifically know more about TC, so I’ll speak more about my experience with that. TC is the regulatory board in charge of pretty much everything that goes on when you go to an airport. They regulate various parts of airports, they regulate CATSA, they regulate the airlines. They cover it all. Wanna know why you can’t turn on your cell phone on an airplane at certain times? TC does extensive reviews of interference for safety, to make sure that your cell signal actually will or won’t disrupt the safe operation of the flight. If your airline still makes you turn off your device, trust me when I say they’re probably trying to challenge that rule with TC. TC needs to specifically test the specific planes that the airlines uses in the configuration that they use them to see if the interference exists. This taskes months, and sometimes years. And it’s all paperwork. But until that rule has changed, they must be obeyed by everyone that they effect. The rules that they have are literally written in blood from air accidents and disasters of the past. When things went wrong, there were investigations into the incidents, and Transport Canada came forward with rules that would help to preserve life in the case of an accident or incident.

Everyone under TC’s umbrella has to comply with the regulations that they put forward. If they don’t, airlines can lose their operating licenses. That’s right, that flight attendant is asking you to turn off your phone again so that literally thousands and thousands of other people can continue to fly. If there is a TC inspector on board (and there are more than you’d think) and they watch a flight attendant let someone break a regulation, that *airline* can be fined by Transport Canada, and the fees are not small. And guess who pays for that, ultimately? You! So just turn off your phone for like 10 minutes, you’ll be ok. If airlines break enough rules, they can lose their operating licenses, as I mentioned. That means flights cancelled, and people who are WAY more inconvenienced than the person not shutting off their phone.

So that covers it, very generally. Understand that there are processes, take a step back to think about them, and know that air travel just sucks (while it is simultaneously awesome and super super convenient).

Hope you’ve come away with something here!

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.

Fuze Nuze, July 30th

Hello Fuze friends!

It’s time for me to give you a brief update into the lives of the Fuze team.

I’m the sales lady for Fuze, and I’ve just recently gotten back in the office after being away for my wedding and associated honeymoon. Oooo lala! It was a super great time, I’m happy to be married to a wonderful human being, and the time away was exactly what I needed. 🙂

Hey look, I got married.

Hey look, I got married.

We’ve been hard at work over in Peterborough, Ontario (it’s where Fuze is based!). It’s summer, the heat and humidity are in full force, and we’ve got 4 amazing new designs springing up out of the Canadian mud for you as we move toward fall. What do they look like? Well, I’m sorry, but that’s still a bit of a secret. Suffice it to say, you’re going to like what’s coming. We’ve got a little something for everyone in the new selection, and you won’t be disappointed.

We’ll be unveiling much of this collection at our first-ever trade show! Yes, that’s right, Fuze has gotten this bloody amazing without ever having been to a trade show. Now that our line is becoming fully recognized and our stocks are flowing quickly, it’s time to take our wares to a larger audience. We’ll be posting more about all of the shows that we’ll be attending, but if you have any questions or recommendations on shows we should attend, feel free to leave it in the comments or fire an email to sales@fuzetoys.com.

Wilde says hi from the garden!

A gorgeous Wilde, fresh picked from the garden! 😉

Along with the new toys sprouting up, we’re also right in the middle of harvest time for the owners of the company. When they’re not coming up with new designs or fulfilling orders for shops, they’re out picking heirloom garlic til all hours. Honestly, I don’t think there’s a better way to go through life – sex toys and garlic are among my favourite things in the world, and I imagine I’m not alone in that.

I mean sure, don’t mix them too much maybe?

We’ve also launched our brand new website, for your viewing pleasure. If you’d like to see it, just check out http://www.fuzetoys.com. We’re pretty proud of it, and hope you like it! If you’ve got any feedback for the site, leave it in the comments here!

Hope your day is going great!
Kate

The road.

I’ve been working in travel since I was 20 years old. This year, I’m celebrating my 30th birthday.

I’ve spent 10 years of my life on the road, and it’s definitely catching up to me. Think about that a bit. 10 years of my life, I’ve been nomadic half of the time. Sleeping on trains, airplanes, in hotels, on couches, air mattresses, and quiet corners of airports and bus terminals.

I can't actually sleep on airplanes. Even with first class upgrades (bring presents for your flight crew, kids).

I can’t actually sleep on airplanes. Even with first class upgrades (bring presents for your flight crew, kids).

The half of the time that I spend at home has always been treasured. I live in a small(er) city in the middle of a vast country. We’re essentially cut off from the stress of big(ger) city living. If you don’t know about my 700,000-strong hometown of Winnipeg, you can read all about it here on the internet. Our housing prices are reasonable, and so I am a homeowner without having to sacrifice lifestyle or time dedicated to my hobbies (like the pornz).

My home has always had to be the most comfortable place in the world for me. Back in 2005, when I was getting started on this whole travel gig, I was single-ish (one of those relationships you know isn’t going to be super long, but it’s nice at the time), and coming to grips with leaving town for 5 days about 4 times a month. And then I worked my first trip. I was an attendant on board the Canadian – the transcontinental train that goes from Toronto to Vancouver. We worked 18 hour days while we were working, with 6 hours off in which you were to wash yourself (even just a bird bath), sleep, and then also get ready in the morning. All in these wee tiny on board compartments. Sometimes you’d get a bigger compartment to sleep in, but that was rare. It was usually a 1-bed room (and when the bed is down, that’s it, there is no more room) or a berth with a curtain separating you from the rest of the train.

One of the times I had a larger compartment. And some trees. They look like the ones around Jasper National Park.

The beds weren’t that bad, honestly, and I got used to the gentle rocking of the train putting me to sleep. I kinda liked it. Pair that with the fact that I fell asleep with headphones in listening to Radical Face, and you’ve got a pleasant sleeping locale. The trouble was the length of time we were allotted to sleep. At best, for years, I’d get 5 hours of sleep. Usually, it was the kind where you close your eyes, completely exhausted, and open them again to find that 5 hours have passed and your alarm is going off. I would routinely pass out on a milk crate in a locked kitchen somewhere.

And so home has always had to be exactly what I needed it to be. I bought my single ass a fucking amazing king sized bed for those days that I was at home. Is home really still home if I was spending 20 out of 30 days of the month on a train? Yes. So much yes.

This was home.

 

I lived by myself in a 1-bedroom apartment in the French quarter (I am a speaker of the French language and a haver of the heritage) – the third floor of a three-storey walkup. At 20, this was my third apartment, and the first that truly felt like home.

This little place on Enfield. I was almost never there, but it was where my favourite memories were made.

This was the first place I’d felt comfortable enough to call home. 

And there in that comfort, my story really came together. I made Cherrystems on that shitty folding chair on a computer I spent most of my life away to afford. We shot almost all of the early sets in that living room, or kitchen, or bedroom. I met Aaron shortly after moving in, though I decided to take some of his friends here for some nights before considering that he could be every single thing I needed in a partner. He moved to Malaysia for a while, where he worked for a women’s rights organization as a developer, I kept falling home here and cultivated a small following of amazing folks ready to change the city. Amazing how a space can sit empty for so long, but mean so much.

I continued to drag all my luggage up that three-storey walkup for four years. But I wasn’t happy just being away for 20 days a month. No, sometimes I’d end up with a week off near the end of the month, and I’d get my ass back on the fucking train and go as a passenger. They fed me there, and I had a place to sleep, and I was out and experiencing. I went to Halifax, Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, and stops in between – all before I was 22. I scattered myself out as far as I could, letting home be a place that I still had. I can’t tell you what a privilege that was and is. Without even the concept of that place, I don’t know how I would have held my shit together.

They don't have these in the prairies.

They don’t have these in the prairies.

The train was mostly full of older folks from around the world. I learned from them constantly. I learned the good things, I learned about the people I wanted to become, and the people I learned the most about were the ones whose stories repulsed me – racists, bigots, etc, etc, etc. I spent 5 years at that job, being a tour guide for Canada, telling the real stories of Canada’s colonization, even if it was uncomfortable for 65 year old Europeans to stomach.

Things changed slightly when Aaron and I decided that we would become a partnership. We decided we’d move in together, but both our places were too small. We moved. I left the place that I felt at home in. We spent two years in a place I hated. During that time, however, I also switched jobs. I left the train behind and took to the sky.

My travel options increased drastically. Suddenly, a two day trip took two hours. The world opened.

A bestie of mine joined me on a 3-day layover in Barbados.

A bestie of mine joined me on a 3-day layover in Barbados.

One of the wonderful things I’ll say about the relationship that I have with Aaron is that I have always worked on the road while dating/living with/being married to him. We have never known life any other way. Other people I would date would take it personally when I got called out to go somewhere. They’d feel jilted that I was never in town, and I completely understand that. I was off having adventures while they were “stuck” at home. They were travellers too, but couldn’t do it nearly as much as I was able to.

My layovers were never, ever, spent in my hotel room. I learned the layouts of cities. I am proficient in the transit systems of Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna, Prince George, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax, New York, Washington, Boston, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Nashville, San Francisco, LA, Seattle, and the highways of countless other places where I’ve rented a car because of lack of transit services. I’ve driven the interior of the US and been to fucking weird little motels that wouldn’t let me stay there because I wasn’t married to my partner.

I climbed a hill in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and met a person that became a great friend. He also worked in travel in a way – for a traveling acrobatic circus called the Cirque du Soleil. I’ve met people on hills, in bars, on bikes, in seats, and learned a little bit from each one.

This is backstage at a Cirque du Soleil show in my hometown. A direct result of climbing Signal Hill in St. John's, Newfoundland and making a friend.

This is backstage at a Cirque du Soleil show in my hometown. A direct result of climbing Signal Hill in St. John’s, Newfoundland and making a friend.

There’s honestly no lesson to be learned either way from my life. I managed to get a Bachelor of Arts somewhere in all the mess of not being home, but I managed it.

Glamorous Prince George, BC. I actually fucking love it there.

Glamorous Prince George, BC. I actually fucking love it there.

I’ll post more individual stories about the people and experiences I’ve had along the way, but for now, this post is probably long enough.

The Polyphonic Spree was playing while I was on a layover in Vancouver.

The Polyphonic Spree was playing while I was on a layover in Vancouver. So I went.

Is there anything you’d like me to address, cover, or recount? Let me know in the comments and I’ll think about it. When I’m home.

Rad Retailers: Come As You Are

 

20111115-comeasyouare-07

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!!