Tag Archives: Tessa Fox

Elephant Arms (Warning: contains nudity and talk of pornography and BDSM)

Elephant Arms was launched in December 2012. The creator, Sarah (last name withheld), started the blog due to “sexual frustration, interest in good local music [and] occult imagery.” She claims and proves through her blog material that she has an open mind and believes that “sex shouldn’t be seen as being so inappropriate in society; it’s a beautiful and natural thing.” With a large portion of the content featuring erotic fetishism, bondage, domination, sadism and masochism (herein BDSM) it is hard to find the local music content and the natural aspect of sex. Having said this, considering there are a number of photos or gifs of Sarah posing nude, starting such a blog can seem quite daring for a woman, particularly one who resides in such a small, interconnected city such as Brisbane. Elephant Arms continues to exist due to Sarah’s belief that she doesn’t “need to feel accepted by society, everyone needs to be comfortable with themselves, just like I am.”

Photo supplied by Sarah at Elephant Arms

Photo supplied by Sarah at Elephant Arms

When Elephant Arms was first discovered by withflaws. the idea was to create a discourse between a local feminist group and the creator of the blog. Having picked up a copy of the UQ Women’s Collective Zine at a local zine fair they seemed like they would be well suited for such an interview as they were already active in producing independent media. After trying to contact them and inviting them into the discussion of nudity, pornography and sexual expression, the UQ Women’s Collective failed to reply. Due to this, in order to still provide various points of view within this article research was carried out via online news sites and feminist communities.

A common stereotype of feminists is that they hate or are scared of sex and men. It is true that some feminists are ‘sex negative,’ though certainly not all of them. In fact, it is the Feminist Sex Wars that divided Second Wave Feminism or the Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1970’s. There are many ‘sex positive’ feminist websites on the Internet today, flying in the face of the misrepresented stereotype and showing that a consensus has still not been found within the feminist community. As an example, the feministe.us website has a list of various feminist porn sites. Each of these sites include all gender and sex orientations and represent women’s bodies honestly unlike most mainstream pornography.

Anti- pornography feminists focus on the patriarchy reflected in mainstream porn, which is driven by the arousal of the man. In doing this, women are reduced to objects and are portrayed as not finding pleasure in sex. On the other hand, sex positive feminists debate that sexual expression and freedom are vitally important for women’s liberation. Having said this, such sexual expression will not be found in mainstream pornography but found in porn sites like the one listed above and Elephant Arms. As Sarah stated, pornography does not emphasise anything natural within sexual encounters. Sexual expression, or erotica as some call it, promotes sex positive and pro-woman sexual values.

When Sarah was asked what her definition of porn was she replied, “I tend to think of porn as un-natural sex. No pleasure, no connection, no interest.” At first glance, it is easy to write off Elephant Arms as an independent porn site, particularly seeing as there is such a harsh stigma surrounding sex and open sexual expression. Many members of society still carry the binary belief that a woman is either a slut or the Virgin Mary, which is most often decided on how much skin is shown in public. Sarah strongly believes that she is merely expressing herself “without any restrictions”. She continues, “Whether it be in the form of my own pictures that I upload; or fetishism ones that I have re-blogged, we should be allowed to showcase our interests without judgement, no matter the content.”

Not everyone shares the understanding that women of any size or shape should be allowed to embrace their body. Sarah occasionally receives mail from viewers exclaiming some form of abuse such as “you’re fat” or “you’re ugly.” She has also received messages both through SMS and the Elephant Arms tumblr from an unnamed ex- boyfriend of a similar vein, telling her she’s just doing it for attention. A lack of respect tends to follow women who show any amounts of skin, whether they wear revealing clothing or work in the sex industry. There never seems to be any enquiry into reasons why women may want to express themselves in this way or need to work in such an industry. Even so, there are a number of people who respect Sarah’s boldness and courage. As an example, one comment left by a viewer was “Wow, I tip my hat off to you.”

Large portions of women are attracted to Elephant Arms for the thrill and shock of Sarah’s open sexuality. It seems to hit them as something they wish they could do without being ridiculed. As well as this, with the emergence of more personal blogs, it helps women find their own bodies more attractive and reduces the stigma of sex in society. The educational aspect of pornography is also often underestimated. Not all explicit imagery, such as creative sexual expression, should be considered ‘dirty.’ By reducing the stigma surrounding sex, a more natural and honest dialogue is enabled between partners and members of society alike.

Bondage, Domination, Sadism and Masochism features heavily in Elephant Arms. When Sarah was asked about the chains, whips and gags she explained her view that “sex should be as fun and experimental as possible, whilst receiving uncontrollable pleasure. For me personally, that includes BDSM, foot worshipping, role playing and just being kinky.” And why can’t girls have a bit of fun? As a further explanation, the sadist in the sexual relationship derives pleasure from giving pain and the masochist takes pleasure form receiving pain. It must be remembered that there is in fact a pleasure exchange at work. There is yet another misconception held by people who tend to hold little knowledge about BDSM. Some believe that violence against women can lead from ongoing participation. There are in fact no studies that prove this is the case. Furthermore, BDSM is a fetish that forms part of a person’s sexual identity and is only performed once consent is given from both parties. Alan McKee, author of The Porn Report stated the real facts on potential violence against women in a discussion at the Brisbane’s Writers Festival. He derived from a study that the 60 plus age group, right wing parties and Christians have the worst attitude toward women and therefore have a more harmful affect than BDSM. Controversial.

When discussing BDSM, Sarah reiterated by saying that “these images should not be viewed as being treated unequally; they are posted to portray the sexual content of a submission and domination relationship.” The key word here is relationship. Bert Cutler remarked in his book; Partner selection, power dynamics, and sexual bargaining in self-defined BDSM couples, that BDSM couples communicate more effectively than mainstream couples due to the increase in risk and harm in a BDSM scenario. The dominant role in particular is always thinking about the safety of the submissive role, particularly seeing as all acts of BDSM follows from full consent. Femdom, or female dominance, also shows that the male partner is not always the dominant role, which moves further away from the violence against women argument.

Expression comes in many forms, with sexual expression being one of them. Both women and men should be allowed to express their enjoyment of sex through independent photography and video without being condemned by those who don’t appreciate it. As discussed in this article, sexual expression (a world away from mainstream porn) and fetishes aren’t hurting anyone. Sarah makes a plain point, “for those who are offended, it’s easier to not go onto my blog, they don’t have to view those images, it’s their choice.”

Quite a range of topics were brought into discussion within this article which will hopefully enable people to feel less on edge when confronted with sexual imagery they don’t quite understand or aren’t aroused by. If you happen to not agree with Elephant Arms or anything that was written in this article, please refrain from using any form of abuse on this website or on Elephant Arms. Instead, withflaws. would love to hear everyone’s differing opinions on feminism, sexual expression, nudity, pornography and BDSM via email: tessfox@withflaws.com

WORDS by TESSA FOX

Not Another Election Article

Well we know where all of the LNP's money is going, into a once a week mail drop.

Well we know where all of the LNP’s money is going, into a once a week mail drop.

Understanding that there are currently hundreds of articles and social media comments regarding the Australian Federal election, I am going to try and keep this brief. The main reason I feel such a strong urge to join in on the election brawl is to motivate people, particularly the younger demographic, to exercise their full democratic right to vote.

All of the independent blogs and news platforms claiming “Abbott will be Prime Minister in X days” are just as bad as the Murdoch newspapers claiming Kevin Rudd is the devil. What sort of motivation and hope does this give the people of Australia, particularly the young audience who read such independent blogs? Sure the polls are saying that this is the case, but they are only polls. Furthermore, most often than not, these polls are run by organisations who are far from objective in their political views.

As you know, in order to win power in government, a political party such as LNP must win a majority of 150 seats in the House of Representatives. I can only hope that the number of videos and quotes floating around social media in the last few weeks has deterred anyone from even thinking about voting for this party and their sexist, racist and homophobic leader. Alas, if you do believe in the polls, please use your democratic power in your Senate vote by taking the time to number all of the boxes. If you vote BELOW THE LINE and number your candidate preferences from 1-82 your vote will NOT be wasted, as many people flippantly say. This is due to Australia’s preferential voting system.

More LNP. Where are The Greens? Also, what am I being patient with? LNP's spam mail each week perhaps? Seeing Abbott's face too many times a day?

More LNP. Where are The Greens? Also, what am I being patient with? LNP’s spam mail each week perhaps? Seeing Abbott’s face too many times a day?

There is a whole lot of jargon floating around the media surrounding elections and politics that understandably turns people off reading about it. Preferential voting is one of these terms that has the potential to not be fully understood, so I hope the above link helps to outline it. Australia is one of the only countries in the world that conducts this style of voting. Even so, many Australians ignore this option and believe that voting for an independent party or The Greens is a waste of time and focus on the idea that Australia is a two party system. Using the images I have uploaded for support, it is easy to see why so many bang on about only two parties, as it is only these two major parties which have the money to be seen by the public eye, oh, and Clive Palmer..

Those close to me have warned against watching the included Titanic II video as it may have some sort of hypnosis affect.

Those close to me have warned against watching the included Titanic II video as it may have some sort of hypnosis affect.

Standing by what you believe in is not a waste of time. If you number 1-82 in your Senate vote, you will help elect a range of voices, including independents, to scrutinise legislation put forward by our next Prime Minister. If our government does end up being run by LNP, don’t let them gain a majority in the Senate also. Also, in numbering 1-82, your vote doesn’t go towards the party’s preference (eg. Greens vote goes to Labour) instead, your vote is determined by YOUR preferences. If you do choose to go down this path, don’t leave any boxes blank as this will void your vote.

To help you independently decide who to vote for, I have linked the main parties policies here: Labour, LNP and The Greens. These websites will give a better idea of what each party stands for as it is hard to pin point their policies when all we see in mainstream media are little bitch fights over who can be the bigger demon (in regards to asylum seekers, for example).

It is evident that some people are scared of voting for The Greens as they don’t believe their policies are realistic. Though it could be said that most of these people are just regurgitating information they heard through chinese whispers. Taking mining companies as an example, it is well known that The Greens stand for environmental protection, though this doesn’t mean they are instantly going to shut down all of Australia’s mines if they came into power. Unlike the Liberal National Party (as seen in the case of Campbell Newman), The Greens aren’t looking to put a large portion of Australia’s population into unemployment. Instead, they will move to a “clean, innovative, highly educated economy,” investing in new jobs for a progressive nation. Seeing as Australia is a first world nation, shouldn’t we be aiming for the standard of sustainability places like Germany hold? How much longer can these Liberals hide their heads in the rocks, thinking that there is an everlasting supply of natural resources?

I will end here as I claimed this was going to be brief. I just wished to outline that by using our preferential voting system no vote is a wasted vote. Furthermore, we don’t have a two party system in Australia, if you don’t want LNP to hold full power in parliament, preference the full range of independent parties ahead of these buffoons this Saturday. Also, if you aren’t enrolled, I don’t want to hear a single complaint out of you after the votes are counted.

WORDS by TESSA FOX

A Gathering of Independent Publishing Enthusiasts

1376382463Thanks to an extremely passionate group of locals, Brisbane is set to host a huge array of talented artists and writers in it’s first ever Zine and Independent Comic Symposium, lovingly nicknamed ZICS. As the name suggests, ZICS will be providing a whole weekend of conferences and workshops focused around independent publishing. The event will open this coming Friday the 30th of August at The Edge with a launch party featuring The Bedroom Philosopher. Over the following two two days, artists and writers will have stalls set up with their personal creations available for sale or to trade. Workshops from paper making to self publishing mentoring will be held all afternoon starting at 1.30pm. ALL workshops are free (bar Papermaking which is $16 and a booking must be made via zics.bris@gmail.com). Head to the facebook event HERE to check out the program and see which workshops suit your needs and interests.

program

In order to run the event, the organisers set up a ‘pozible’ campaign, offering prizes and rewards to members of the community who helped fund the event. The deadline to donate has now passed, in total raising $8341, just over their target of $8000 to keep the event alive. ZICS is 100% not for profit and run by volunteers. These funds help to cover venue hire, support guest speakers and workshop presenters. The below video will introduce you to some of the energetic organisers and give you a feel for the event.

If you live in Brisbane, don’t miss this amazing event and celebration of creativity and hard work. THIS weekend, Friday the 30th to Sunday the 1st of September at The Edge, near the State Library of Queensland on Southbank.

 

WORDS by TESSA FOX

Drawing Boards Australia: An Introduction

all-decks-oz-shadss-e1370396860925

Drawing Boards have long been a supporter of withflaws. Not just your typical skateboard company, Drawing Boards travel to remote Australian communities you may never of heard of, not with the sole purpose to promote their boards and team, but to provide fresh opportunities to kids living in these areas through demos and workshops, most often resulting in giving aways free skateboards to those that attend. The majority of these tours are conducted in school holidays and consist of the skate team driving hundreds of kilometres into the dusty, Australian outback.

One of the main faces behind Drawing Boards, Donny Fraser, was happy enough to introduce the current team:

We’ve had Ivan Vargas since he was 17, he’s our longest team rider and will soon have his own deck model out, no one’s worked harder for us. Our support for each other crosses over into our personal lives; when we move houses we make sure we stay in the same area as each other so we can skate as much as possible.

Ivan Vargas

Ivan Vargas

Then we’ve got Flynn Bundy who had to come on tour before he was even on the team. When one of our team riders couldn’t make it for a tour out West we found flynn down at Coorparoo skatepark. Flynn shreds and really pushes a lot of the other guys forward and into progression again.

Ratty Dawg is one of the newest guys on the team. He is a crazy hippy kid, amazing skater, and the most positive person i’ve ever met, he brings the vibe. It took 2 years before I approached him to ride for us as he was such a wild drifter.

Shari Lawson is rad; having a girl on the team is heaps of fun, especially on tour. We rock up to a demo and the local guys have a look and a little giggle to themselves about us bringing a girl, then she absolutely flogs them in the bowl and puts them to shame. Surprise killer!! She’s broken her back and ankle and allsorts and just powers on!

Then we’ve got Will Kitely from Perth, Found the guy through Outer Limitz skate shop in Perth. We flew will over for a tour and he’s a perfect fit for the team, also determined as all hell to skate. Within 2 days of sponsoring him he went out and 360 flipped this rail in Perth. No messin about. This boys got a bright future with us.

Finally, we have Oscar. Oscar is our first bowl rider, park monstrosity. I’ve never seen someone with so much board control. The kid’s only 16 and he is doing things he shouldn’t be doing on a skateboard. Oscar’s starting a tattoo apprenticeship now so i imagine when he’s lurking around Brisbane next he’ll be a lot more colourful.

Oscar Somerville

Oscar Somerville

Back home, Drawing Boards products and skateboards are only stocked in skate shops which match the company’s community ethic. To find out more visit their WEBSITE and check out the next printed issue of withflaws. for the skateboarding feature supported by Drawing Boards team riders.

 

WORDS by TESSA FOX

New Release from Dumbsaint

The Auteur

Dumbsaint are post rock masters from Sydney, Australia. Not only do they write attention grabbing instrumental numbers, each member (now only four of them) also contributes to shooting and editing short films to accompany their tracks and live performance. This brings greater weight to their musical creativity and allows the story of their songs to unravel with  ease.

To support their first release in over a year, ‘The Auteur’, Dumbsaint will be playing shows in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and the Gold Coast alongside post-metal quintet, HELM. The single will be available for download through Bird’s Robe Records on the 26th of August, along with an original short film and three audio remixes.

Here is something to get you started…

 

WORDS by TESSA FOX