Jan 17
Her eye on the news

A debut author whose memoir chronicles her struggle with sex and porn addiction says that she wrote about her experience to help confront, and counteract, a harmful culture of shame that stigmatizes female sexuality.

Erica Garza, 35, said that as the child of a middle-class Mexican family in Los Angeles who attended a Catholic school, she was taught from a young age “that sex was for procreation and anything outside of that was sinful or dirty or bad.”

“The first time I masturbated, I felt immense pleasure and immense shame at the same time,” she told Arwa Mahdawi in an interview for The Guardian. “So, I think I continued to seek out situations that would produce the same feelings in me because I didn’t know how to separate the two.”

In her memoir, Getting Off: One Woman’s Journey Through Sex and Porn Addiction, Garza recounts how her shame transformed into obsession, as she spent whole days masturbating in bed while watching porn, had unprotected sex with men she’d only just met, and ruined relationships because of her inability to stay loyal to one partner. Her inability to control her sex drive, she said, left her feeling “bad about it all the time” and “unworthy of love.”

She said she was finally able to take control of her life after she took a trip to Bali at age 30, where she began practicing yoga regularly and focusing on living her life in a healthy way. While in Bali, she also met her future husband, a recovering drug addict, with whom she had her first honest and healthy relationship. The concept of sex addiction is a controversial one in the medical and psychology communities. Many experts say sex does not stimulate the brain the way nicotine or narcotics or alcohol does, and, therefore, a person cannot develop an addiction to it.

Garza says the book isn’t meant to demonize pornography — in fact, she believes that “people can use porn in a healthy way.” Instead, she said, she wants to spread awareness about the complexity of female sexuality — and to counter narratives that sex addictions in women are predicated on experiences of “abuse and trauma.”

“It could really happen to anyone,” she told Mahdawi. “Even if you had a safe, loving childhood as I had.”

Watch video of Garza’s recent appearance on Today with Megyn Kelly, during which she went into greater detail about her years of addiction and a doctor talked about some of the methods used for treating those who find themselves in an unhealthy relationship with sex, below.

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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Paid silence

In a letter released by Donald Trump’s lawyer on January 10, Stephanie Clifford, the adult film actress known as Stormy Daniels, denied a Wall Street Journal report that she was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about an affair she had with the real estate mogul-turned-reality TV star and now president in 2006. But in a 2011 interview that she gave to In Touch magazine, which its editors have dusted off and published in the latest issue, Daniels was outspoken about a sexual encounter she then said she had with Trump at his Lake Tahoe hotel suite less than four months after his wife, Melania, gave birth to their son, Barron.

“[The sex] was textbook generic,” said Daniels at the time. “I actually don’t even know why I did it, but I do remember while we were having sex, I was like, ‘Please, don’t try to pay me.’”

According to Daniels’ account, which the magazine says was corroborated at the time by her friend Randy Spears, her ex-husband Mike Moz and by the fact that she passed a polygraph test at the time, the affair started after Trump began flirting with her at a celebrity golf tournament in July 2006. She said that he asked her out to dinner, but that when she arrived at his hotel room she found him watching TV in pajama pants. So, she recalled, they had dinner in his room instead, and after she went to the bathroom she came back to him sitting on the bed.

“He was like, ‘Come here.’ And I was like, ‘Ugh, here we go.’ And we started kissing,’” Daniels recalled. After they had sex, she added, he told her over and over again that he had to see her again and that he would get her on The Apprentice. According to Daniels, Trump continued to call her and the two met up again on several other occasions, including at his private bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles.

Remarkably, it appears that Fox News reporter Diana Falzone had been prepared to break the story about Daniels’ purported affair with Trump in October 2016, just days after the leak of the Access Hollywood tape and ahead of the election, according to a report by CNN’s Oliver Darcy. Falzone even saw emails about the alleged settlement that Trump was offering for Daniels’ silence, the report said, citing sources inside Fox News with knowledge of how the potential bombshell story was handled. Fox News, however, killed the story, according to the CNN report, because, Noah Kotch, the editor in chief and vice president of Fox News digital, said editors “were unable to verify all of the facts.” In May 2017, Falzone also filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the network.

Alana Evans, a friend and former colleague of Daniels, has also spoken to Megyn Kelly on Today about phone calls she received from Daniels asking her to come join her and Trump in their hotel room. According to Evans, Trump himself even spoke to her over the phone to offer the invitation personally. Through his personal attorney Michael Cohen, Trump again disputed the reports of an extramarital affair, saying he “vehemently denies any such occurrence, as has Ms. Daniels.”

Watch Evans’ interview with Megyn Kelly below.

Read the full story at In Touch Weekly and CNN.


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‘Bring him down’

For the first time ever, Dylan Farrow has given an on-camera interview about her claim that her adoptive father, Woody Allen, sexually molested her when she was 7 years old. Speaking with Gayle King on CBS This Morning, Farrow opened up about allegations that she has stood by for more than 20 years and addressed her critics. The interview was aired in two parts on the Wednesday and Thursday editions of the morning show. Farrow, 32, described the alleged incident in graphic detail and said the iconic film director instructed to play with her brother’s toys while he molested her.

“I was taken to a small attic crawl space,” Farrow told King in the portion of the interview that aired on Thursday. “He instructed me to lay down on my stomach and play with my brother’s toy train that was set up, and he sat behind me in the doorway. And, as I played with the toy train, I was sexually assaulted.”

She added, “As 7-year-old, I would say he touched my private parts. As a 32-year-old, he touched my labia and my vulva with his finger.”

Allen has always denied the accusations, and he did so again in a statement given to CBS News.

“When this claim was first made more than 25 years ago, it was thoroughly investigated by both the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale-New Haven Hospital and New York State Child Welfare,” Allen said. “They both did so for many months and independently concluded that no molestation had ever taken place. Instead, they found it likely a vulnerable child had been coached to tell the story by her angry mother during a contentious breakup.”

In the segment that aired on Wednesday, Farrow answered critics who have suggested she’s smearing Allen and trying to destroy his career.

“Why shouldn’t I want to bring him down?” Farrow asked. “Why shouldn’t I be angry? Why shouldn’t I be hurt? Why shouldn’t I feel some sort of outrage after all these years being ignored and disbelieved and tossed aside?”

Dylan Farrow as a child with Mia Farrow, Woody Allen and the newborn Sathchel. (YouTube / CBS News)

According to Farrow’s brother, Ronan, who helped break the story about Harvey Weinstein’s alleged abuse of women, Allen followed the Weinstein playbook of intimidation and media manipulation in order to quash her account of events. Ultimately, Allen was never charged for his alleged actions, and went on to continue a successful movie making career — as well as to marry another of his adoptive daughters, Soon-Yi Previn, whom he had been taking naked photos of even while dating her adoptive mother, Mia Farrow.

Asked why she thought people would believe her now, after all these years, Farrow reiterated that she has been speaking out all this time — but that no one in Hollywood seemed willing to risk Allen’s wrath by acknowledging her account.

“All I can do is speak my truth and hope that somebody will believe me instead of just hearing,” said Farrow.

In recent days, some actresses who previously worked with Allen, including Ellen Page, Mia Sorvino and Greta Gerwig, have denounced the famous director and pledged to never work with him again. Actor Timothée Chalamet has also expressed regret about choosing to work with Allen on his latest film, and promised to donate his entire salary from the film to charity. Meanwhile the list of actors distancing themselves from Allen continues to grow.

Watch two clips from Farrow’s CBS This Morning interview below.

Read the full story at The New York Post.


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Speaking out

Former Today show co-anchor Ann Curry broke five years of silence on Wednesday morning, as she is planning a return to television news. Curry appeared on CBS This Morning to discuss for the first time her very public ousting from NBC’s Today show in 2012, after less than a year as co-anchor alongside Matt Lauer. All told, Curry spent 15 years at NBC News. She also answered questions about Matt Lauer’s stunning downfall at the network, and suggested that Lauer’s misdeeds were common knowledge inside the network, and that there was an abusive culture that extended beyond him.

“I can say that I would be surprised if … if … many women did not understand that there was a climate of verbal harassment — that existed. I think it’d be surprising if someone said that they didn’t see that,” she told the co-hosts. O’Donnell pressed Curry on that point, and she replied, “I don’t wanna cause more pain. But no, I’m … you are asking me a very direct question. I’m an honest person. I wanna tell you that it was. Yes. Period.” NBC executives have denied that they were made aware of Lauer’s behavior over the years, but staffers at the Peacock Network have said they were informed and they swept the accusations under the rug to protect Lauer.

When asked whether Lauer had abused her power, Curry replied, “You know, I … I’m trying to do no harm in these conversations. I can tell you that I … I am not surprised by the allegations.”

Turning to her exit from the show in December of 2012, Curry opened up about the toll that difficult time took on her, and how she moved past it. At the time, media reports blamed her removal from the show on a lack of “chemistry” with Lauer. Curry, seated inches from Matt Lauer on the Today show couch, said a tearful farewell to viewers. “This is not easy to say, but this is going to be my last morning as a regular co-host of Today,” she said, breaking down. She added “This is not as I expected, to ever leave this couch after 15 years, but I am so grateful.” She then looked directly at the camera and said, “Especially to all of you who watch.” NBC was criticized for how it handled her departure, a move that left many of the show’s fans puzzled and disappointed.

Ann Curry in a tearful departure on the NBC’s ‘Today’ show in an undated handout image. (NBC via The New York Times)

“I don’t know what was all behind it. I do know that — it hurt like hell,” Curry remarked on Wednesday. “It wasn’t a fun moment. I’ve learned a great deal about myself. I’ve really at this point let it go. I’ve just let it go.”

She echoed that sentiment in comments she made in an interview with PEOPLE magazine. “I’m not going to say it wasn’t hard,” she told the magazine. “But I had to let go. And I learned that when you not only let go but open your arms wide and learn the lessons that an experience — no matter how bad — can teach you, that’s when you rise.”

Curry also discussed the #MeToo movement and its significance. “I don’t know a single woman who has not endured some form of sexual harassment. And … and many women have endured workplace sexual harassment. It’s happened to me in multiple jobs,” Curry said.

Curry returned later in the show to discuss her upcoming new series, We’ll Meet Again, set to air on PBS. The new program, on which Curry is a reporter and executive producer, explores stories of people who are searching for someone from their past.

Watch Curry’s full interview on CBS This Morning below.

Read the full story at CBS News.


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‘Witch trial’

Margaret Atwood has spoken out against claims that she is a “Bad Feminist” for protesting the firing of a creative writing professor at the University of British Columbia who was dismissed from his job over allegations of sexual misconduct that have yet to be made public. In an opinion piece for The Globe and Mail, Atwood wrote that she believed UBC violated due process in its treatment of the professor, Steven Galloway, with whom she is friends.

“Specifically, several years ago, the university went public in national media before there was an inquiry, and even before the accused was allowed to know the details of the accusation,” Atwood wrote. “Before he could find them out, he had to sign a confidentiality agreement. The public — including me — was left with the impression that this man was a violent serial rapist, and everyone was free to attack him publicly, since under the agreement he had signed, he couldn’t say anything to defend himself. A barrage of invective followed.”

After a months-long inquiry by a judge, Galloway was found innocent of all but one of the allegations, including the most serious allegation against him, according to a statement made by the university’s faculty association. Galloway was fired anyway, and the official findings of the investigation have never been released. According to Atwood, who signed a public letter asking for transparency about the accusations against Galloway and his subsequent firing, the university violated Galloway’s right to due process. She even went so far as to compare the case to the Salem witchcraft trials, “in which a person was guilty because accused, since the rules of evidence were such that you could not be found innocent.”

Atwood, who thanks to her novel The Handmaid’s Tale (and the TV series based on it) has become a feminist hero, took her position a step further and applied it to the #MeToo movement. Atwood claimed the phenomenon is a form of “vigilante justice” that emerged as “a symptom of a broken legal system.” Women took to the internet with their stories of harassment and rape, she said, since they knew that they would never “get a fair hearing through institutions.” But Atwood also warned against the possibility of permanent “extralegal power structures,” arguing that in order for their to be “civil and human rights for women, there have have to be civil and human rights, period, including the right to fundamental justice.”

In wake of Atwood’s claims, some have accused her of refusing to listen to the younger generation, and of siding with “her powerful male friend” against the interests of her fellow women. Others, meanwhile, have praised Atwood, thanking her for having the courage “to point out that ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is the key to a civilized society.”

Read the full story at The Globe and Mail and The Guardian.


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