Arts & Culture
According to The Advocate, and the young woman herself:
To avoid Constance McMillen bringing a female date to her prom, the teen was sent to a "fake prom" while the rest of her class partied at a secret location at an event organized by parents.
McMillen tells The Advocate that a parent-organized prom happened behind her back — she and her date were sent to a Friday night event at a country club in Fulton, Miss., that attracted only five other students. Her school principal and teachers served as chaperones, but clearly there wasn't much to keep an eye on.
This morning over breakfast I was reading the New York Times (ah, the delights of spring break!) when this headline caught my eye: Mississippi A.C.L.U. Rejects $20,000 for Alternate Prom.
You might remember that earlier this month I wrote a blog called Homophobia: Bad for Straight Kids discussing the decision of a Mississippi school board to cancel its prom because they could not otherwise prevent Constance McMillen and her partner from attending. (They also forbade her from attending in a tuxedo. This is not just about homophobia. This is also about gender expression.)
The ACLU and its Mississippi affiliate are representing Constance and a group called Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition (MSCC) is organizing an alternate prom for the community. The ACLU of Mississippi is apparently the fiscal sponsor for the MSSC. According to the New York Times article, the American Humanist Society offered a $20,000 gift to MSSC to help fund the alternate prom, and a fundraiser at the ACLU Mississippi rejected it, explaining via email that “Although we support and understand organizations like yours, the majority of Mississippians tremble in terror at the word ‘atheist."
Talk about being imprisoned by stigma. Here the stigma attached to atheism potentially thwarts an attempt to fix a problem caused by the stigma attached to homosexuality.
A: Consider an unlikley strategy. Identify common goals and engage!
Margaret Brooks and Donna M. Hughes recently attacked Maymay, originator of the KinkForAll unconference model, in a bulletin published by their organization, Citizens Against Trafficking (CAT), which Maymay suggests is more suitably named Citizens Against Sexual Freedom and Discussion (CASFD). The bulletin  uses a technique typical of
CAT CASFD: Take out-of-context statements and blend them with factual inaccuracies to produce a piece of writing capable of creating (or sustaining) irrational moral panic on the part of those who read it.
Rather than responding similarly, Maymay invites Margaret Brooks and Donna Hughes to discuss with him the issues around the goals they share, namely, the creating and sustaining of communities that are sexually safe places. Of course I have my doubts. I suspect that while they agree on the importance of community - and sexual - safety they do not agree on the definition of safety (not as it relates to community nor as it relates to sexuality). While Maymay invites Hughes and Brooks to discuss ways to further enhance the safety of events like KinkForAll (which already provides safe space for inquiry and education around sexuality), I don't imagine Hughes and Brooks think that an event like KinkForAll can ever be safe. Still, I hope they accept the invitation and engage in the discussion. If we can identify areas of common interest we maximize our chances of successfully creating more inclusive and respectful communities, societies and cultures.
Last night I was at a fundraiser for Madison Young's Femina Potens. The event was organized by Tied Up Events and all I can say is that if you have an event you need planning help with, you need to talk to them. They did a fabulous job.
I was exhausted and caught up in reconnecting with some dear friends and as a result I missed several important opportunities to meet people. Just now, chatting with Diva, I learned that one of those people was Cindy Gallop, whose work I first learned about from her site Make Love Not Porn. Her new project, If We Ran The World, is even more exciting. Please check them out.
Meanwhile, here's her 4 minute TED talk on Make Love Not Porn. I just watched it for the first time, and I think it's an important message: we need to be able to say what we like and what we don't like, and we need to refute at every opportunity the dominant idea that there is some kind of universal "right" way to have sex, and that mainstream porn is its guidebook.
It is beyond irksome that TED, whose tagline is "ideas worth spreading" has a policy that prevents this talk from being posted on its main site because subscribers "including children" would hear explicit language. Given that one of the main points of the talk is that kids need more and better information about sex it seems TED might decide these ideas are important to spread to young people!
According to an AP News story a school district in Mississippi has canceled its senior prom rather than let a lesbian in a tuxedo attend with her female partner. Because they were not allowed to discriminate and keep the two young women out they decided to keep everybody out and just shut down the event. In other words, homophobia and heterosexism are being used to keep straight kids from having their quintessential high school ritual. And they ought to be furious.
Their fury should be directed at the Itwamba County school district, not at Constance McMillen and her partner. All they did was stand up for their rights to attend together as other couples may, and to dress as they wanted, as other couples do. In fact, they only intended to dress in exactly the same types of outfits as other couples. (I'm sure the school board wouldn't have been any happier had they wanted to each wear a prom gown.)
I applaud Constance's parents for supporting her and telling her to return to school after the decision, retaining her pride in who she is and in the knowledge that her courage in standing up for her rights will help others who come after her. Many of us are not so brave.
I am disgusted by the bigotry and small-mindedness of the Itawamba County School Board. When the option of discrimination was taken off the table they chose to deny everyone their prom experience just to make certain that the lesbian couple were denied their rights. The only way to rightfully discriminate against Constance and her partner was to punish the straight kids too. So that's what they did.
Constance's classmates ought to be applauding her courage and they ought to turn their anger against the school district demanding that the prom be held and that it be open to all students. Better yet, they ought to organize a prom themselves, with freedom, equality and acceptance as their themes.
There's a saying in the labor movement: An injury to one is an injury to all. This story is powerful evidence that the truth of that statement goes well beyond labor rights.
The issue of relationship “exploitation” has been on my mind lately. There must be a way that “interdependence” can exist between a man and a woman where no one is getting “exploited.” Our culture comes up with models to address the exploitation factor, but more often than not, these models miss the mark. I’m thinking in particular of this relatively new glamorization of pimping, which is a misguided notion.
The board and judges of the Sex-Positive Journalism Awards are proud to announce the winners of the 2009 Sexies. Selected from about 100 entries (not counting multiple nominations of the same piece!) submitted by both writers and readers, the winning entries cover subjects from teen pregnancy to conjugal visits, vaginal plastic surgery to prudish responses to public art. The winning articles come from all across the United States and Canada, and represent a range of genres, from news to advice columns.
What they all have in common, however, is that they succeed in embodying the Sexies criteria for sex-positive journalism far better than the vast majority of their counterparts, helping to improve the quality of dialogue around sex and create a more well-informed reading public. "Without clear-eyed, informed journalism about sexuality, the public runs the risk of seeing sex-related issues through a murky scrim of ignorance and biased attitudes. The Sexies help show the media—and the citizenry—how it can and should be done," says Carol Queen of the Center for Sex and Culture.
The first-place winners are:
Come See Carol Queen, Nina Hartley and Dennis Sobin While Supporting Sexual Freedom and Haitian Relief EffortsSubmitted by Elizabeth on 18 January 2010 - 11:36am
This weekend I'm traveling to Washington DC for a Woodhull Freedom Foundation meeting (I joined their advisory council last summer) and I'm thrilled that I'll be in town there for this benefit event featuring Carol Queen, Nina Hartley and Dennis Sobin. If you're in the neighborhood (or can get to the neighborhood) don't miss it! Here are the details, as posted on Tied Up Events:
You won’t want to miss this fabulous evening – including famous Kennedy Center classical guitar artist Dennis Sobin, who will perform at the champagne reception that begins at 6:30pm (donation, $100)
After the reception, doors open at 7:30 for the 8:00 performance of scenes from PEEP SHOW, performed by Carol Queen – her solo spoken word piece about working at San Francisco’s famed Lusty Lady theater as a professional Real Life Nude Girl.
Then hold onto your seats for Nina Hartley – currently in rehearsals for The Vagina Monologues – sharing a private performance from the show!
Cost: $100 for the private champagne reception where you will be able to enjoy some one-on-one time with the performers and other Woodhull board and staff members, as well as some local candidates and elected officials.
$20 suggested donation for the performance that begins at 8 (doors open at 7:30) – but give as you’re able for this fun event!
Your donation is completely tax-deductible and will be used to help advance our movement for the affimration of sexual freedom as a fundamental human right.
Tickets are limited. Click here to purchase yours.
LOCATION WILL BE EMAILED UPON RECEIPT OF RSVP OR DONATION.
CAN’T ATTEND: YOU CAN STILL SUPPORT US BY DONATING HERE
PS: Please note that a portion of donations received for this event will be donated to Partners for Health to benefit the Haitian Relief Effort
In her New Year's message, Elizabeth reflects on the place of sex work within an internet site dedicated to public discussion of sexuality and its place in our culture. I agree with her that this site was not designed to just be a sex work forum. However discussions on sexuality inevitably bring sex work in all its manifestations and diversity into their ambit.
While it is easy to discuss sex work merely as a rights based issue, a more nuanced understanding cannot be achieved without considering how our knowledge of and attitudes to sexuality inform and are informed by sex work.