Art of Loving's oral sex seminar subject to censorship
The co-owner of a Kitsilano erotic boutique has been told he can’t advertise an educational seminar about oral sex on a website because of the “sensitivity” of the subject. John Ince, a partner in the Art of Loving, told the Georgia Straight by phone that the founder and CEO of SocialShopper, Ehsan Baloochy, “unilaterally” terminated a contract between the store and the site.
Ince maintained that the decision occurred despite his willingness to change the name of the class from Giving Good Head to something along the lines of Spice Up Your Sex Life, Orally Speaking.
“We couldn’t get a coherent explanation.…It’s just another example of what I would regard as censorship of sexual discourse,” he said.
The class is being taught by Vera Zyla, a partner in the store. Ince said that by not running the ad, Baloochy is “preventing a healthy dialogue about sex” and perpetuating “negative attitudes”.
“And those negative attitudes, we know, are unhealthy,” Ince stated. “So the policy is socially unhealthy.”
Baloochy did not respond to a call from the Straight by deadline.
After he was notified that the contract was being terminated, there was a lengthy email exchange in which Ince argued his case first to SocialShopper staff member Michele Colbertt and later to Baloochy. Ince said that to Baloochy’s credit, he engaged in dialogue about the issue.
“Our firm did not knock on Ehsan’s door,” Ince wrote in one message to Colbertt. “His firm knocked on ours. That started a long process that involved extensive email and phone consultations which resulted in a formal contract between our firms. As small business owners we think contracts mean something. We think honourable business people, especially those interested in win-win-win solutions, do everything in their power to honour their agreements.”
In one email, Baloochy wrote to offer “apologies in advance if there were any misunderstandings”. In a subsequent message, he characterized the issue as a “unique situation”.
Ince responded in an email that the media, including the “advertising media”, have played an important role in helping society overcome racism, sexism, and homophobia. He said this was accomplished “in part by including racial minorities, women and homosexuals in media content”.
In addition, he noted, the media help “overcome unhealthy attitudes to sex by normalizing healthy discussions about sex”. He argued that the decision not to carry advertising for a seminar about oral sex ultimately “harms the public interest”.
“The issue is sex censorship,” Ince told the Straight.
This isn’t the first time the Art of Loving has been blocked from advertising. Ince said that several years ago, the store was not permitted to put its logo alongside a quote from famed playwright William Shakespeare in a Bard on the Beach program. “We pointed out that Shakespeare is filled with bawdy language,” he recalled.
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