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Wikileaks founders arrested for rape (EXPRESSEN)

Posted: August 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Wikileaks founders arrested for rape (EXPRESSEN)

It's no real surprise. When an individual becomes dangerous enough to a group in power, that group will try to discredit the individual in any way possible. That appears to be what happened to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was arrested in absence (not physically detained) in Stockholm, Sweden, for rape allegations put forth by two unnamed women between the ages of 20 and 30, according to a report by the Swedish-language tabloid Expressen. Assange is the most public figure in numerous international scandals, the most recent of which is the largest US military secrets leak in history.

The rape allegations were announced after Assange gave a lecture in Sweden about the "victims of war," including "truth." There were few details released and police have stated only that there is "probable cause" for the arrest, but no evidence yet.

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Update: Sure enough, Expressen’s headline is now spreading to international news outlets, including CNN. Considering that election fever is just starting to infect America, this story, which may very well capture headlines for quite a while, seems well-timed to shift the focus of public debate away from the real issues—you know, that whole war thing—and onto Assange’s personal sexuality. A tried-and-true political tactic: when you can’t win, misdirect!

Update: Just one day after the charges were filed, Swedish police have canceled the arrest on Julian Assange and have withdrawn the charge of rape, according to a report by Charles Hoskinson. However, a second charge, sexual molestation, still stands. Clearly, sensitive issues are at play here so we may never know the truth, and the suspicious timing should raise eyebrows. That said, regardless of whether there was a rape or not, I hope that the Swedish police followed due legal process.


Miss. lesbian student sues over rejected tux photo – Yahoo! News

Posted: August 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Miss. lesbian student sues over rejected tux photo – Yahoo! News

Ceara Sturgis has been wearing masculine clothes since ninth grade, but her High School denied her the opportunity to wear a tuxedo in the yearbook photo and opted, instead, to flat-out omit her name. Now Christine P. Sun, the ACLU lawyer who represented Constance McMillen in a similar case earlier this year, "filed a federal lawsuit for Sturgis, claiming the Copiah County district discriminated against her on the basis of sex and gender stereotypes," Shelia Byrd reports. "It's unfair and unlawful to force students to conform to outdated notions about what boys and girls should look like without any regard to who they actually are as people," Sun said. Sturgis said she cried when she saw the yearbook and felt punished "just for being who I am."

This new filing comes weeks after McMillen reached a settlement against the Itawamba County School District. McMillen credits Sturgis, whose own legal battle has been going on far longer, with giving her the inspiration for her own challenge.

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Victory for Free Speech: Third Circuit Strikes Down University of Virgin Islands’ Speech Codes – FIRE

Posted: August 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Victory for Free Speech: Third Circuit Strikes Down University of Virgin Islands’ Speech Codes – FIRE

Can you be punished for saying something that made others uncomfortable? Stephen McCauley was, after speaking with a college rape survivor. But this week, the Third Circuit court of appeals struck "down unconstitutional speech policies maintained by the University of the Virgin Islands…on First Amendment grounds."

The case, brought against the University's "regulations prohibiting 'offensive' or 'unauthorized' signs and conduct causing 'emotional distress'" and provisions in the University's Code of conduct prohibiting "any act which…tends to injure or actually injures, frightens, demeans, degrades or disgraces any person" was ruled overbroad, affirming prior legal precedent distinguishing college students from lower education students as having greater First Amendment protections than their counterparts. "[L]et me be clear," Robert Shibley explained. "Maintaining speech codes [in public institutions] violates the law."

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Is sex a human right? (via early to bed)

Posted: August 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Early To Bed has a great rundown of a recent controversy:

In England, a 21 year old man with learning disabilities is receiving government funding to take a trip to Amsterdam for the purpose of losing his virginity to a prostitute. … This is just one of the many people receiving sexual services funded through a £520million scheme introduced to empower those with disabilities.

[A social worker] claims, "Refusing to offer him this service would be a violation of his human rights." Jezebel points out the sobering point that this is similar to language used by misogynists to defend rape. … [D]oes any one else find it odd that a country where prostitution is illegal has no problem sending a young man to see one elsewhere?

So, is sex a human right? No, but sexuality is. … Should taxpayers foot the bill for a 21 year old's sex holiday? Hell no.

This sheds some much-needed light on debates over acceptable sex and, more importantly, personal sexual responsibility.

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Sex and Censorship: What Recent Attacks on Online Sex Discussions Have to Do With Your Blog | BlogHer

Posted: August 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Sex and Censorship: What Recent Attacks on Online Sex Discussions Have to Do With Your Blog | BlogHer

With 3 stories of anti-porn's inherent pro-censorship stance, Anaiis Flox illustrates what's at stake: "This isn't an issue of us vs. them, morality versus indecency, conservatives versus liberals, [but] a matter of freedom to speak, freedom to congregate, freedom to learn about ourselves and to share that knowledge."

Anaiis discusses Facebook's rash of censorship, attacks on Jason Goldman's column and Donna M. Hughes' sex-fear-mageddon by way of attacking KinkForAll. Then she turns the "think of the children" argument on its head:

Yes, think of the children—that is, think about what you do when a child disagrees with someone. Do we tell them to make their points by attacking the dissenting opinion or by crafting an argument that is valid and useful?

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the motivation to ask for what you want | Emily Nagoski :: sex nerd ::

Posted: August 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on the motivation to ask for what you want | Emily Nagoski :: sex nerd ::

Dr. Emily Nagoski got stuck: "In this case the Q is, 'I want to try X. How do I ask my partner for that?' But the A? I’m stuck." Thankfully, from her transparent learning come great teaching opportunities:

I could lecture endlessly about communication skills, self-esteem and self-acceptance, the value of honesty, the importance–indeed the art–of hearing "no" without taking it personally.

But in the end, the answer to, “How do I ask my partner to…?” is “You just suck it up and ask.”

For people like Emily (and, after practice, me) the benefit of asking is so self-evident that not asking seems crazy: "I think my frustration and helplessness with this question comes from my own history of having to beg partners please to just fucking tell me what they need, what they want…. Ask for what you want, I could say, because NOT asking for what you want is dishonest, selfish, and emotionally destructive." Amen!

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Bering in Mind: Oedipus Complex 2.0: Like it or not, parents shape their children’s sexual preferences

Posted: August 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Bering in Mind: Oedipus Complex 2.0: Like it or not, parents shape their children’s sexual preferences

It's an old trope that women grow up anticipating and fearing the point when they will become exactly like their mothers. But do heterosexual women grow up fearing that they will one day marry a man exactly like their father? Jesse Berring writes fascinatingly about the truths of how early experiences shape later sexuality, and comes to the shocking conclusion that incest-avoidant habits are socially ingrained, not biologically, and that the same set of experiences that lead us to find our siblings sexually disgusting lead us to seek out people of a similar genetic phenotype to ourselves; hence those blond-on-blond families we sometimes encounter. It's not always true, of course, and most interesting of all, there is virtually no way to predict whether you'll seek out somebody just like you, or look for someone as different as can be.

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CDC Report: AIDS Is a Black – and Poor – Disease – New America Media

Posted: August 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on CDC Report: AIDS Is a Black – and Poor – Disease – New America Media

In America, "HIV clearly strikes at the economically disadvantaged in a devastating way," Dr. Kevin Fenton of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) said in a statement at the recent biennial international AIDS Conference. At the conference, the CDC released a study revealing a strong link between low socioeconomic class and HIV/AIDS, finding that although "Blacks are 12.8% of the U.S. population, they represent 45% of all people infected each year with HIV." And the link between oppressed groups and HIV risk just get worse from there. Black women, the study found, "represent 66% of all new HIV cases each year among women," and "although Black teenagers are only 15% of U.S. teen population, they account for 68% of all new AIDS cases among teens." And for gay and bisexual men, 46% of Black men have contracted the virus, compared to 21% of gay and bisexual men who are white.

Contrary to what some would like to believe, biology isn't to blame for this; social stigmas and prejudices are.

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Polyamory: The Next Sexual Revolution? – Newsweek

Posted: August 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Polyamory: The Next Sexual Revolution? – Newsweek

Do you feel that? It's the wind of change, and it's blowing your way. Prop 8 is going-going-gone, and while its supporters don't tend to say much we agree with, we'll grant them that perhaps it does herald the arrival of a more accepting, open time for American relationships. Newsweek gives credence to this theory with this article about polyamory, which stresses the communication poly relationships rely so heavily upon, and says that having polyamorous parents isn't necessarily harmful to children, so long as they have a stable home. In fact, with extra, loving people around to help with homework and provide rides, having a poly family might not be such a bad thing! The article speaks with Allena Gabosch, director of Seattle's Center for Sex Positive Culture, and draws heavily on the life and experiences of Terisa Greenan, creator of "Family," an online video series that deals with both the joys and the complications of living polyamorously.

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Love makes teen sex less academically harmful, study says – CNN.com

Posted: August 17th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Love makes teen sex less academically harmful, study says – CNN.com

A new study has "raise[d] some doubts about abstinence-only education programs that link all types of adolescent sex to a wide variety of problems for teens." The study, conducted by Eric Grodsky and Bill McCarthy and released at the annual American Sociological Association's meeting, found that teen sex is not inherently a bad omen for educational achievement. "The authors say students who have sex only with romantic partners have generally similar academic outcomes as students who abstain from sex," CNN reports. The study highlights the reality that the context of sexual activity greatly affects the outcome, positively or negatively. It revelaed "students who describe their sexual activity in terms of 'hook-ups,' 'friends with benefits' or 'bed buddies' are more likely to suffer a negative impact on their education," such as an increased chance of dropping out of school or a lower overall GPA. In other words, sex isn't the problem, lack of mutually rewarding relationships is. Duh!

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Update: We learned thanks to Heather Corinna that, as the media is wont to do, this study was severely misrepresented by journalists all over the place. In her analysis, Heather writes: “Some reporting and discussion of the findings suggests that big differences were found with academics for young people who had sex in non-romantic contexts and those who either have not had intercourse or who have done so in romantic contexts. But the study and the authors’ comments don’t appear to make that statement at all.” There’s a lot more, such as the fact that despite media reports to the contrary, the study never uses the word “causes” to indicate any harmful connection between teen sex and academic achievement, nor does it actually ever use the word “committed” to describe the relationships studied. Poor media reporting about sex and young people, and about young people’s sexuality in particular, is incredibly—infuriatingly—common.