An anti-porn activists’ conference has the ear of both right- and left-wing political media outlets but, swept up in outrageous rhetoric and severe sexual paranoia, few journalists are bothering to read between the lines. While anti-porn crusading absexuals shout about the need for strict and narrow-minded moralism, sexual health and rights advocates remain deeply divided themselves. This so-called culture war is not new, and unless a nuanced and deep understanding of the issues reaches public consciousness, extremists on both sides will continue to polarize the issue and ignore the possibility of a “both/and” solution.
This week’s episode is a little different because, rather than our usual poly-glut roundtable of sexuality-related topics, Emma and I devoted the entire show to discussing two noteworthy events that took place the weekend of June 12th. While Emma and I were participating in KinkForAll Washington DC 2, a group called Stop Porn Culture held an international conference in Boston featuring speakers including none other than Donna M. Hughes, whom we know thanks to her unsuccessful attempts to brand me a sexual predator. Thankfully, our panelists this week, a handful of sex-positive activists, educators, and bloggers attended the conference in order to challenge the one-sidedness with which these “Feminists Against Pornography” portrayed people like us.
Our guests this week were:
- Debauched Diva, a New York City-based sex blogger instrumental in the production of the annual Sex Blogger Calendar fundraiser, which for two years in a row helped fund sex workers’ rights advocacy group Sex Work Awareness and its SpeakUp program, founded by former sex worker and our friend Audacia Ray. Diva has blogged about her experiences at the Stop Porn Culture conference, as well as her experience on Kink On Tap.
- Long-time friend of the show and KinkForAll Providence unorganizer Aida Manduley, Chairperson of the Brown University Sexual Health Education and Empowerment Council (SHEEC). Numerous campus events sponsored by SHEEC including Sex Week 2010 have been attacked by Donna M. Hughes’ collaborator and professor of economics at Bridgewater State College, Margaret Brooks, who also attended the Stop Porn Culture conference. Like Diva, Aida has also blogged about her experience at the Stop Porn Culture conference and, moreover, why she wanted to attend.
- AASECT certified sex educator and sexologist Megan Andelloux, founder and director of The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (CSPH) and yet another target of Donna M. Hughes’ smear campaigns.
- Women’s Studies undergraduate student and CSPH intern Deirdre, who took her first steps into the larger world of sexual health advocacy along with Megan at the Stop Porn Culture conference and has quite the story to tell thanks to it!
We’re extremely grateful not only for the opportunity to speak with each of our guests this week, but also for their unwaveringly respectful behavior in the face of what I can only describe as sheer contempt for them and their views. (Aida tweeted that she tried to shake Donna M. Hughes’ hand, which was refused.) Not only that, but each of our guests have faced harsh and, I feel, undeserved criticism from some fellow sex worker rights and pro-porn activists for their decision to attend and live-tweet the Stop Porn Culture conference, following their preferred form of activism. I think it’s unfortunate that some pro-porn-identified people have contributed to the toxic environment on which anti-porn activists like Donna M. Hughes and the Stop Porn Culture organizers thrive with their inconsiderate vitriol, rather than dissipating it.
Anyway, this show is the longest Kink On Tap we’ve ever recorded, and we hope the conversation offers you some insight into what it’s like to be a sex-positive person surrounded by people who hate or fear you. That experience, sadly, is far too common in the world today. If you’d like to help us change that, we encourage you to become active in whatever capacities you feel able and motivated—and only in the ways you feel able and motivated.
Like bodies, activism comes in all colors, shapes, and sizes, from the angry and militant to the calm and nonviolent. Yet regardless of your chosen form of activism, we ask you, please let honesty, courage, common humanity, and consideration be your guides. Oh, and if you haven’t yet, do subscribe to the Kink On Tap community links feed. :)