Melissa Ditmore's picture

Tracy Quan's new piece about Christianity’s favorite fallen woman

Have a look at Tracy Quan's neat piece about "The Sexiest Saint" on the Daily Beast. SITPS readers will enjoy her fresh perspective on sex and religion. She points out that contemporary people can better identify with a saint with carnal appetites than, well, saintlier figures. Quan writes, "Today's multitasking, sexually experienced woman can relate more easily to Mary Magdalene than to Mother Mary or, for that matter, Mother Teresa." Amen!


Juliana Shulman's picture

Vagina in Vogue

In recent years, the number of women going under the knife for cosmetic genital surgery has skyrocketed. More and more women are regularly participating in painful bikini waxing procedures to return to the bare pubis of their youth, and increasing numbers of adolescents are seeking genital piercings to decorate their labia. The popularization of all of these procedures begs the question, what is the Western female genital aesthetic and how is it established? Furthermore, we must ask: What are the implications of women pursuing a genital ideal? 

American representations of the female genitalia are extremely varied. Certainly, there are aspects of a popular culture that celebrate the vagina. From paintings by Georgia O’Keefe to the popular activist play The Vagina Monologues, works of art and literature have represented the female anatomy in a positive light.  However, these positive expressions of female genitals and the accompanying symbolic power of vaginal iconography exist as counter-efforts and are far less prominent than the negative representations that prevail. 

Elizabeth's picture

Introducing Jill Di Donato and SITPS Show and Tell

Meet Jill Di Donato. I met Jill back in June when Sex In The Public Square, Center for Sex and Culture, and some amazing sex bloggers and writers got together at Happy Endings for a reading where we raised money for CSC. Jill heard me say that I was wanting to expand Sex In The Public Square and came to me with an idea for a new column, Show and Tell, which would be a place for people to write about the sexuality-and-society issues that are most personally important to them. Since no good deed goes unpunished Jill has been assigned as the curator/editor for our new venture! She's given me a sneak peak at some of the pieces she's collected so far and I'm very excited. Our goal is to put up a new Show and Tell piece about every two weeks, or twice a month. To submit an opinion-based editorial (500-1000 words) on issues relating to sex, relationships, beauty, identity, or any related topic, please email her at

Here's a bit more about Jill:

Jill Di Donato is a Brooklyn native with a BA in English and Sociology from Barnard College and an MFA in Writing from Columbia. As a 21st Century feminist, she's contributed essays, fiction, and art to various publications, from obscure literary journals to mainstream media outlets. She's the author of the forthcoming novel Beautiful Garbage about a 1980s New York artist who finds herself immersed in a world of high-class prostitution. In addition, she's editing an anthology of feminists writing about sex, gender, and beauty. Currently, she's an adjunct lecturer in English for the City University of New York, teaches at Barnard College and The Fashion Institute of Technology as well as privately in New York City. An advocate of communities that spark healthy and provocative discussions about intimate issues with insight, complexity, and humor, she's thrilled to join the staff of Sex in the Public Square as the new Show and Tell column editor. 


Photo of Jill Di Donato by Celeste Giuliano and used by permission. (c) 2009 Celeste Giuliano. All rights reserved

Elizabeth's picture

Visions of Sexual Freedom

Some time ago Tess asked each of us who posed for the 2010 Sex Blogger Calendar (raising funds for Sex Work Awareness) to write a little bit about how our ideas about sexual freedom are expressed in our photo shoots.

Mea culpa. I am finally managing that post just days before the calendar's launch party. Will you be in NYC this Friday? Join us from 6:30-9:30 at Fontanas and get your calendar signed by models, photographers or anyone else who tickles your fancy! (I also hear there's going to be some pretty fantastic swag.)

I posed on Frying Pan, a rusting old lightship-turned-bar docked at Pier 66 on the Hudson River side of Manhattan. Frying Pan (and PIer 66 in general) is a place that says a lot to me about sexaulity despite its not being an "adult" location in any way.

For one thing, it floats. It is tethered to a barge which itself is affixed to land, but it is not, itself, on land. It is in that liminal space that is a salt water river that flows in two directions. There are few better metaphors for my sexuality.

The lightship itself is beautiful and inviting and yet clearly a place where one enters at one's own risk. Dark companionways and large pieces of rusty machinery are as accessible as the brightly painted outer decks. It is a place for exploration and for wonder.

The photo we chose for the calendar is one that combines a kind of playful sexiness with a femininity I rarely show. It captures the rusty beauty of the ship and one of its more inviting niches. The calendar shot hints at a scene that might happen two minutes after the shutter snaps. It is in all of those hints and seeming contradictions that I hope you will see a bit of what it means to me to have freedom of sexual expression. The three shots below are taken in different parts of the ship and I offer them here just to whet your appetite.

Ricci Levy's picture

Marriage Isn't The Only Valid Relationship


A hearing begins in Washington, DC this coming Monday (and continues the following week) on a piece of legislation proposed by Councilman Catania. Bill 18-482, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009, that will finally grant same-sex partners the right to marry in the District of Columbia.

Unfortunately, the way the bill is currently written it will also end the Domestic Partner registry in DC. This registry is so well-written it has been the model for others across the country. In ending the ability to register as domestic partners, the bill will give one group of individuals their long-denied rights to marry while taking away the rights of another group of individuals - those who choose, for whatever reason, to NOT marry.

The Woodhull Freedom Foundation is one of several hundred witnesses - apparently the largest turn out in the history of the council - who will be testifying at this hearing. We aren't the only organization and/or individuals concerned about the domestic partner registry and we are all hopeful that we can achieve same sex marriage without stripping another group of individuals of their equal rights. 

The Woodhull Freedom Foundation (WFF) is a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to affirm sexual freedom as a fundamental human right. We define sexual freedom as the fundamental human right of all individuals to develop and express their unique sexuality. Part of this definition includes the right of adults to engage in the relationship of their choice with other consenting adults – with the same equal rights afforded to other relationships.

There are nearly 100 million unmarried adults in America: about 15% live with intimate partners and about one-third live alone; that leaves the majority of unmarried people living with other people in a web of important relationships. In 2007, nearly 6.5 million households in the U.S. – including nearly 20,000 in D.C. – comprised only unmarried adults related by blood.

According to the testimony of one of our allies, the Alternatives to Marriage Project,

"These lives are intertwined; many take responsibility for each other as family yet few are eligible for the legal protections or obligations of marriage. By being open to people not eligible to marry for reasons other than gender, the District’s domestic partnership registry created an important national model of how to encourage and recognize personal responsibility."

Elizabeth's picture

If you're in NYC - Vulvagraphics is next weekend!

If any NYC-area readers are attending this event I would love to publish reports from it. I can't attend, myself, and want to hear all about the exhibits. What follows is completely copied from the New View Campaign website for the event:

Vulvagraphics poster

The New View Campaign organized an arts and crafts exhibit and political event titled “Vulvagraphics” on October 24-25, 2009 to celebrate the role of art in activism and to kick off a campus-based movement to celebrate genital diversity.

Location: The Change You Want To See gallery at 84 Havemeyer St, Brooklyn

Elizabeth's picture

Q: When is an abortion not an abortion?

A: When it is a selective reduction

I don't imagine this post is going to make me popular.

Today's New York Times has an article about the very painful choices faced by prospective parents who make use of fertility treatments, find that they are pregnant with multiples, and then are faced with the risk of those pregnancies - both to the hopeful mom and the soon to be children. Successful fertility treatments often produce multiples because hormones are used to stimulate egg production or because multiple embryos are implanted. But because being pregnant wtih twins or triplets or even more developing fetuses is risky, and because children born from those pregancies are more likely to be born very premature and are thus at risk for greater and more serious health problems than babies born from singleton pregnancies, doctors sometimes counsel prospective parents to consider "selective reduction" where some fetuses are eliminated.

I am not going to write about the painful choice this must be. I am not going to write about whether or not such fertility treatments are ethical given their potential for resulting in pregnancies risky enough to warrent advising abortion. Nor am I going to address the fact that in vitro treatments require the creation of more embroys than anyone intends to implant. I am not even going to write about whether we should be spending so much health care money on helping people to reproduce and then paying for the complications that occur as a result of those treatments. Not today anyway.

Today all I am going to write about is the use of the term "selective reduction" itself.

Elizabeth's picture

Progress NEVER comes fast enough. But it comes.

Winning rights isn't about patience. It is about persistence and perseverance and the recognition of progress that it happens.

President Obama speaking to the Human Rights Campaign meeting last night.

A wonderful orator, he started with gratitude for the opportunity to open for Lady GaGa. He went on to say many important things but one was "None of us wants to be defined by just one part of what makes us whole" after saying that every issue he deals with touches on the LGBT community: jobs, war, schools, health care. EVERYTHING is an LGBT issue. And he recognized progress made in some areas specific to LBGT communities while acknowledging that progress has not come fast enough in other areas, saying that it was not for him to counsel patience any more than it would have been appropriate to counsel patience for African Americans during the civil rights movement.

Meanwhile in DC: 


What progress:

  • President Obama attended the HRC event and promised to sign the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill next week.
  • President Obama acknowledged that LGBT residents are denied their full rights and responsibilities as citizens, but also that justice is not done by seeing people for a single part of their identities.
  • President Obama indicated that he supported an inclusive ENDA.
  • President Obama said we are going to end the discriminatory practice of keeping people out of the country based on HIV/AIDS status.
  • President Obama indicated that we are moving ahead on Don't Ask Don't Tell.
  • President Obama called for the rest of us to pressure him to make the case across America that these changes and others need to be made.

Is there much more that needs to be done.


Can we do it?

Yes, we can.

(Do I still get a thrill out of typing 'President Obama'? Yes, I do!)

Elizabeth's picture

"Doing it Decent" answers your questions about sexual ethics

There are lots of sex advice columns out there. Most deal with practical, technical, emotional and idenity-related questions about sex. Now there is a place you can go to get your ethics questions answered. Cory Silverberg, the sexuality guide at launched Doing it Decent, a twice-a-month column that will address your thorny sexual ethics dilemmas.

Here's a peek at the first two questions:

My girlfriend and I both work from home and last Wednesday we took a lunch break to go for a walk in our local park (which I’ll add is usually deserted). I was feeling bored and horny and suggested to my girlfriend that we have sex in an area almost completely hidden by bushes. She didn’t want to and said it was wrong, I think she’s just a prude. Is there anything to her argument?

Read the answer here.


Elizabeth's picture

Stimulus Response?

This is the cover of a 1930s pinup magazine. Sweet. Demure. Not the kind of thing you might expect to find in today's adult entertainment world. Yet there is something on the cover of this magazine that is much more radical - way more out there - than anything you'd probably find at your adult book store today. It's so subtle you could miss it. Mick Farren at Adult Video News nearly missed it when he happened upon some Cupids' Capers covers. It's a little blue eagle under the S in Capers. What is it? Take a look:

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