Looking backward, looking forward

Elizabeth's picture

photo of sculpture near burlington vt, photo by will van dorp

Cold and dark is the end of 2009 and I am looking forward to the new year. This has been a tough year personally, and Sex In The Public Square has suffered a bit as a result. Looking toward 2010 I am guardedly optimisitc that we can improve things.

Looking back for a moment, a few very good things did occur this year.

  • Perhaps most exciting for the site is that Jill DiDonato joined the SITPS crew as editor of our new "SITPS Show & Tell" feature. It blends personal blogging with social commentary on all things sex-and-gender related.
  • Another positive development was my being invited to Harvard Law School to participate on a panel on Sex Work and Civil Liberties. While the panel itself was less than wonderful I was introduced to a very talented political scientist, Samantha Majic, whose work on sex work and activism is fabulous.
  • I very much enjoyed my part in the making of the 2010 Sex Blogger Calendar, which raised funds for Sex Work Awareness. The fundraiser has been even more successful than last year's and if you haven't ordered your calendar yet, please click that button on the left side bar. The photos are beautiful and the cause is an important one.
  • Sex 2.0 had its second year, and a third is in the works, with the conference changing coasts and the Seattle activists and writers making lots of plans. My mother attended with me in 2009, I co-facilitated a session with Renegade Evolution, and was thrilled to see (and to meet) so many amazing sex educators, activists and bloggers.
  • Michael Goodyear and I presented a Continuing Education workshop on ethics in sex work research at the MidContinent/Eastern joint regional meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality.
  • SITPS was a useful tool in organizing academic voices in challenge to the ultimately successful recriminalization of prostitution in Rhode Island.
  • One of the most personally meaningful things that happend for me was my being invited to serve on the Advisory Council for Woodhull Freedom Foundation. Its mission, "Affirming sexual freedom as a fundamental human right," captures much of what I understand my own mission here to be.
  • Amongst the personal and family challenges (health crises, deaths) were some bright spots as well. New relationships began and I reconnected with old friends and with family I have been missing.

Still, the year has not been a spectacular one, and certainly SITPS has suffered. With my work life getting more complicated (in good ways, mostly: I became Treasurer of my union), LouFCD working hard at being an A student, and my family's crises being what they were, there has been much less attention to updating the site. Add to that the political actions in the past year and at times it's felt like we're a single-issue site. That makes me unhappy and it's something I intend to change moving forward.

WIth that in mind, I am hoping to write more frequently in 2010, and I want to revive our focus on issues beyond sex work. Sex work is still a very important issue to me, but as the past weeks have demonstrated, it is a tricky one for allies, and for a site like this one to become a single-issue site means to risk becoming too much a part of the divisive politics that seem too often to plague rights-oriented movements.* Instead I want us to keep a supportive and critical perspective, while putting sex work squarely into the "sexual freedom as a fundamental human right" discourse that drives my own understanding of the kind of social change we really need. We really need freedom of sexual expression for all, and that includes commercial sexuality as one of many sexual freedoms that need to be enshrined and then protected under the law. I am not naive enough to think that any legal change will happen quickly, but I do see increasingly that the change needs to be understood broadly and needs to be inclusive of a wide range of sexual expression.

I also hope to return to some of the less formal and more personal blogging that I began with when I started SITPS as a personal blog on Wordpress.com. I am grateful to Jill DiDonato for reminding me that SITPS had lost some of that, and for showing me one way to revive it.

I hope that 2010 is one in which I find balance between work and blogging, in which sexual freedom expands instead of becoming more restricted, and one in which my family stays healthy, grief lessens, and relationships thrive.

Right now I'm off to play football with my nephews. At 5 and 7 they are eminently fun to play with, and this visit is doing much to lift my spirits.

Cheers to a happier 2010!

In solidarity,



Photo of sculpture was taken by Will Van Dorp, my life partner, and to whom I'm extraordinarily grateful for tons of support this year. It appeared first on his blog, Tugster: A Waterblog, on January 10, 2007.

*This sentence originally read "...too much a part of the divisive politics that may well destroy the movement." I was writing in a rather maudlin mood and after a few moments of outdoor play with my nephews realized that I needn't be so over-dramatic. Hence the edit. Amazing, the power of children to give new perspective.