Ron Weitzer sent me this collaborative video in which a group of women thoughtfully argue in favor of sex worker rights. It's a bit more than nine minutes long but take a look at it and check out some of the related videos. Let me know what you think!
PS: I looked around on YouTube for a link to info about the collaborators and couldn't find anything. If you were involved in the making of this video and you want the project credited more completely or would like to share more information about it please let me know how to do that by using the contact form to send me an email.
Sexual pleasure is a human right and I wholeheartedly support the providing of free surgery to those who need it and can't afford it. This is the case for many women who underwent the excision of their clitorises during ritual cutting (FGM/C). There is also no question in my mind that "Adopt a Clitoris" - the campaign rally of Clitoraid.org - is a deeply problematic slogan for a deeply problematic organization. If you're new to the Clitoraid story here's some background:
Several years ago the Raelians (a religious group that believes humans were created by intelligent designers from outer space) founded an organization, Clitoraid, to offer free clitoris reconstruction surgeries to women who had undergone clitoridectomy - one form of female circumcision or female genital mutliation/cutting (FGM/C) - so that they could have the pleasure of clitoral stimulation restored to them. Clitoraid uses language that reduces sexual pleasure to clitoral orgasms and that treats African women's bodies as objects that can be reduced to clitorises and adopted. That said, it is true that their mission is indeed to provide free surgery to women who need it. They do this by funding surgeries at a clinic in Trinidad Colorado, and also by using donations to build a hospital in Burkina Faso.
There are a number of problems with Clitoraid's work and I'm going to talk about only two. Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rotenberg raises questions about the connection between Good Vibes and Clitoraid (more on that below) and Dr. Petra Boynton raisies questions about Clitoraid from a medical and research ethics point of view. Please read their work. I've included a list of sources explaining the work already going on in Burkina Faso at the bottom of this post as well.
Meet Sandy, a smart, attractive, successful woman in her thirties. She’s an editor at a premiere magazine, has tons of friends, a warm, supportive partner whom she loves and likewise adores her, two rehabilitated shelter cats, a Sedaris sharp sense of humor, time to volunteer and work on her novel, and to top it all off, a brownstone in Park Slope, Brooklyn. In short, she has it all. Yet every once in a while, she’ll call me in hysterics having talked herself into a panic over something in her life that’s not perfect. These blips, as I call them, can be small and relatively harmless: the phone company has overcharged her for text messages, or large and unyielding: the sister she never got along with is on another rampage. We all know women like Sandy, women with fabulous lives that never quite fulfill their expectations of perfection.
For years, women have had to confront harrowing archetypes that limit the scope of their experiences, desires, and ambitions. The good girl/bad girl dichotomy remains a steadfast way for our culture, and women themselves, to classify not only wants and behaviors, but entire lives. However, as perfection striving becomes more and more common among women living up to impossible standards, a new dichotomy has emerged: the good girl/best girl.
Poe's Law says simply "Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won't mistake for the real thing." Although it's one of those things that was made up as a humorous point, the reality of it is as solid as the Laws of Thermodynamics. For example, take Colin Gunn's documentary on the horrors of feminism, The Monstrous Regiment of Women. When you can start out a film trailer with pontifications by Phyllis Schlafly, and have things only proceed downward into further lunacy from there, you know that you've truly dived head first into the rabbit hole. I can't quite decide which is the most disturbing quote, but the assertion by the woman who claims to have worked for a family planning organization is really up there: "I knew that if I could go into a school, the pregnancy rate would increase by fifty percent. I knew that if I could get a girl sexually active, that she would have three to five abortions between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. And that was actually our goal." Watch the trailer below, and remember that we ignore these people at our peril. (h/t to P.Z. Meyers at Pharyngula.) (ETA: Embedding doesn't seem to work. If you're feeling brave, watch the video at P.Z. Meyers' site, or directly from GodTube here.)
Ren has two more posts up as part of her guestblogging stint at Feministe . They both address issues that seem like they should be stunningly obvious to anyone with progressive politics and who sees sex workers as human beings, but they turn out to be hornet's nests of controversy:
Dr. Jessie Daniels, a sociology professor at Hunter College, is looking for bloggers who consider themselves feminists (any sort) to participate in an interview-based research study. (Please click here if you are interested!) Her book, White Lies (Routledge 1997) is a well known investigation of the intersections of race, class and gender in white supremacist groups. Her new book, Cyber Racism (Rowman & Littlefield 2009) continues that investigation as such groups move their interactions to the internet.
I met Dr. Daniels when we were on a panel together at the Eastern Sociological Society meetings this past spring. She was presenting an excellent critical analysis of race and gender on sites like the Holla Back NYC blog I think her work is fabulous and I hope that some of you will help her in this new project. She also discussed Racism Review, the blog she maintains with Joe Feagin.
An overview of her feminist blogger project, in her own words, below the fold
As mentioned earlier, on June 23 (next Monday) I'll be hosting the fifth Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy. If you have written or plan to write something pertaining to sexuality, sexual freedom, feminism, gender, etc., send your submission to amberlr [at] gmail [dot] com, or mark the post for me in del.cio.us. You can (and should!) also submit posts by your favorite bloggers. The carnival's mission statement, once again:
Sex 2.0 was amazing.
What do you get when one exceptionally talented organizer and her team bring together 80 or so people to talk about sex, feminism and social media in a gorgeous and very well appointed dungeon? You get Sex 2.0, which took place this past Saturday, April 12, in Atlanta.
It was a really amazing event. (Note: this was a conference, not a party. Despite the number of desirable and skillful people, and the amazing equipment, we all kept focused on the important discussions taking place.)
It was amazing because it brought together people will a huge range of connections to sex and the 'net. There were sex workers, BDSM practitioners, bloggers, academics, sex educators, community organizers, outreach workers (please note that many people fit in more than one of those categories). It was amazing because of the range of topics covered.
I led a discussion about building and maintaining the sex commons, and you can read a brief outline of my remarks here.
Feminism For Freaks
At its best, feminism offers an emancipatory potential from gendered oppression, inequality, and violence. At its worst, however, feminism can work to simply affirm the rights of middle-class, heterosexual, white women, and exclude the voices of already-marginalised groups such as women of colour, trans* women, sex workers and so on.