September, 2010

Our Blogroll is Here!

Via striatic on flickr.

Via striatic on flickr.

THE LINE has worked to develop a strong and diverse blogroll since posting a call for submissions, combining those suggestions with our own favorite reads to create a melting pot of smart, funny, and timely coverage of news and events in our world. We’re looking to widen our views and our minds – and we’re going to be sharing more of it with you via twitter and more regular coverage of news and current topics of interest. Thanks to everyone who submitted!

THE LINE Blogroll

National Sexual Freedom Day is TODAY!

This post originally appeared online at The Examiner.

Today the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to affirming sexual freedom as a fundamental human right, is celebrating Sexual Freedom Day with an all-day event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Sexual Freedom Day highlights “the intersections between government policy and lawmaking, marriage, reproductive rights, personal relationships, child rearing, sexual orientation, gender identification, sexual expression, and sexual practice,” with Panelists including Bil Browning, Kenyon Farrow, Nina Hartley, Amber Hollibaugh, Mark Kernes, Ricci Levy, Dan Massey, Mia Mingus, Zack Rosen, RJ Thompson, Carmen Vasquez, Lawrence Walters, Lisa Weiner-Mahfuz, and Elizabeth Wood.

The Woodhull Freedom Foundation will also distribute its annual Vicki Awards today, given to individuals or organizations whose work and/or life embodies the mission and vision of the Woodhull Freedom Foundation to affirm sexual freedom as a fundamental human right. This year’s honorees are Bina Aspen & Martine Rothblatt, Dr. Deborah Taj Anapol, Kushaba Moses Mworeko, and Susan Wright.

  • Rothblatt, CEO of United Therapeutics, one of the creators of Sirius Satellite Radio, and author of Your Life Or Mine: How Geoethics Can Resolve The Conflict Between Public And Private Interests In Xenotransplantation, is a male-to-female transsexual. She and her wife Bina Aspen are vocal advocates for transgender issues.
  • Anapol is the founder of Love Without Limitsand author of Polyamory in the 21st Century (2010), Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits (1997) and The Seven Natural Laws of Love (2005) and cofounder of Loving More Magazine.
  • Mworeko is a gay man and international gay rights activist from Uganda currently seeking asylum in the United States after his country introduced laws making it a crime not to report gays and calling for the execution of homosexual men and women.
  • Wright is the founder of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and is a popular author of science fiction, art books, and pop-culture books.

Today’s events in DC conclude with w press conference at 3pm ET to release and discuss the foundation’s State of Sexual Freedom in the US, 2010 Report.

These are interesting times for sexual freedom, to be sure. This week alone…

Next week we head into the American Library Association’s annual Banned Book Week, where almost all of this year’s most frequently challenged books are on the list specifically for content about sex and sexuality, and next month is National Coming Day (October 11).

Today, meanwhile, is a very good day to ask yourself: What are you doing to stand up for sexual freedom in your community, in the United States, and around the world?

Rape is NOT an Individual Problem

Photo by Serge Melki via flickr.

Photo by Serge Melki via flickr.

I have a problem holding my tongue. (Especially when people say stupid things.) Even more so when they refuse to see the stupidity of the things they say.

Case in point: I had a conversation recently with someone who said rape is “an individual problem.” By this, they meant that it was not a product of a society and culture which promotes the violence and sexual objectification of women, but rather the individual who is “mentally ill” or “extremely violent” or “hates women.”

Well folks, misogyny is our culture. You cannot even turn on the TV without seeing the “women are stupid and lazy” gimmick (think glade and Lysol commercials). We live in a society that constantly discredits women as intellectual beings and shows them instead as sexual objects. Violence against women is also constantly portrayed in the media. All of this gives the impression that women are non-thinking objects that exist purely for the sake of being a “cum receptacle,” as some people would say. This factors into the ridiculous process rape victims have to go through in the court system and society: a woman will be asked her sexual history, she will be asked what she was wearing (if cleavage was showing it was not really rape), she will be asked why she was in the location that she was (because if she was smart she would have gone the other way), and if she knew her attacker (it was not rape but rather an issue of “miscommunication” or “regret” about the sex).

When one woman is attacked, all women are attacked. We need to stop being cowards and confront the culture we live in which makes the violence and sexual assault against women normal and even desired. When we allow rape and violence to happen every day, we all lose a bit of our humanity.

Introducing: THE LINE’s Video Intern!

THE LINE Introduction from Kaela Rae Jensen on Vimeo.

Teenage Dreams: Better in Dutch

Photo via Pedro Ribeiro Simões on flickr.

Photo via Pedro Ribeiro Simões on flickr.

A new sociological study by Amy Schalet entitled ‘Sex, Love and Autonomy in the Teenage Sleepover’ demonstrates how much parental attitudes can influence teenage explorations of sexuality – particularly through an incisive comparison of the cultural attitudes towards sex in America and the Netherlands. The conclusion – Dutch parents seemed to have developed a respect and understanding of teenage sexuality while the state of America is pretty much a mess of sexual panic. Figures.

According to Schalet’s study, the Dutch take on teen sexuality is refreshingly calm and trusts in teenagers to make their own decisions and take responsibility for the consequences, rather than expounding the dangers of sexual conduct, punitively enforcing abstinence or imposing a moral/religious views about sex:

Dutch parents downplay the dangerous and difficult sides of teenage sexuality, tending to normalise it’. They speak of readiness (er aan toe zijn), a process of becoming physically and emotionally ready for sex that they believe young people can self-regulate, provided they’ve been encouraged to pace themselves and prepare adequately …They permit sleepovers, even if that requires an “adjustment” period to overcome their feelings of discomfort, because they feel obliged to stay connected and accepting as sex becomes part of their children’s lives.’ All of this is accompanied by easy access for both teens and adults for contraceptives and sexual healthcare.

Interestingly, this attitude, though much less rigorous and punitive than American attitudes, does not encourage a culture of unsafe, un-premeditated sex amongst teens. Rather, a 2005 survey of Dutch youth, ages 12 to 25 described their first time experiences as ‘well timed, within their control, and fun’, typically within monogamous, loving relationships. Furthermore, teen birth rates (between ages 15-17, as of 2007) are a whopping eight times lower than America, not to mention the low STD rates.

(more…)

Speaking Out On The “Difficult Art of Living.”

bear

Hey everyone! My name is Trisha, and I’m a new blogger and campaign member!

I’m a student, writer and retired sex-worker with a particular interest in the politics of poetic form. I live in Philadelphia and school at the University of Pennsylvania, where I study English Literature with a concentration in Gender, Culture and Society. I worked for literary non-profit organisations such as The Kelly Writers House and The Feminist Press, and produced conceptual work in collaboration with the Queer Voice exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia.

I’m also the recipient of the Kerry Prize. The prize grant facilitated my creation of a hybrid book arts/zine project entitled ‘LIVE PAPER DOLLS,’ which was a collection of art and writing in response to the question ‘what does it mean to be a woman’- and that culminated in a panel discussion about textual practice, Riot Grrrl and the book object as flesh. I’m hoping to eventually work in development in order to facilitate feminist work, or- as Schiller would say- ‘the art of the beautiful and the still more difficult art of living’.

Currently, I’m running an interdisciplinary reading series (feminism/s) dedicated to the diversity of contemporary feminism and community-building for women in the arts.
I am an out and proud femme and submissive, and love everything grrly, grotesque, burlesque& poetic.

A New Voice with Strong Convictions

Picture 2

Hey there, I’m Lauren Ross, a new blogger and intern for THE LINE Campaign!

I’m currently a senior Women’s and Gender Studies major at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. I’m an advocate of free speech, and film as a tool for social change. I’m an outspoken queer, sex-positive fierce lady, feminist on a mission. I’ve interned at The National Council for Research on Women, worked in a female owned sex shop, researched and written on queer pornography, and worked as part of my campus’ V-Day Campaign.

So, where is my line? Making sure my beliefs aren’t compromised. Whether these be the ideals of feminism, queerness, consent, body acceptance or sex positivity, these all have to be upheld.

I’m excited to be working for The Line, and sharing my thoughts with you, and I look forward to an active dialogue with y’all.

What can Craigslist do to end human trafficking?

This is not censorship.

This weekend, Craigslist blocked access to its “adult services” section in response to requests from 17 states attorneys general to shut down the adult ads and improve screening tactics elsewhere in the site.  The requests were due to concerns of illegal prostitution and unchecked human trafficking, especially trafficking of children into the sex trade.   In a dramatic flair, Craigslist covered the adult services link with a black “censored” bar.

A bastion of civil liberty?  Probably not.

Bad PR?  Oh, yes.

Craigslist has the right to publish adult ads under a federal law called the Communications Decency Act, but they don’t have the right to knowingly facilitate nonconsensual sex encounters with trafficked victims.  The small company has been pretty quiet about the issue since first modifying its policy on adult ads in 2009, and this “censorship” hoopla is likely to exacerbate a situation that could have easily been resolved with a simple press release detailing revised monitoring standards.  One contentious issue is how to prevent human traffickers from exploiting victims through adult ads on Craigslist and other online platforms for sex.

(more…)

Changing Minds

Photo by Charlotte at flickr.

Photo by Charlotte at flickr.

As a feminist and an activist, I deal with a lot of ignorant and hateful people. When I tell people that I am a Women’s Studies major, I either get an eye roll or a lecture on how it is a useless area of academics. Recently, Miranda posted a great piece that touched a few buttons of men in the comment section. They don’t think men can stop rape. It was typical: nasty “you little ladies do not know what’s what and I (a self considered highly intelligent superior male) have to educate you in the error of your ways” thing, and it got me thinking about people who oppose actions taken in the movement against sexual assault/abuse/rape of women. Opponents of preventive education, anti-rape education, and ending violence against women and the social tendency to blame survivors often focus on three main myths:

  1. That few women are victims of sexual assault/rape/abuse.
  2. That people who are survivors of sexual violence are ever, in any way, at fault or instigators of the violence.
  3. That rape cannot occur in a relationship or with someone with whom the victim has had sex with before.

(more…)

All Posts from September, 2010