Politics

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Sex And Human Rights: Opposing Protests

I’ve seen this question posed all over Twitter, and in this article from The Nation: why are student protesters at Penn State allowed to run amok over the firing of a football coach who protected a child rapist, while student (and faculty) protesters at Berkeley are beaten and arrested for peacefully protesting? It seems to me that human rights are being valued differently in each instance, with the former elevating sports over the integrity of young people’s bodies, and the latter punishing young people for insisting on their basic rights to assemble peacefully. In both cases, young people are being assaulted. Something to think about. Follow us on Twitter @mysexprofessor. Continue Reading →

Another Tacky Headline: The Media Outing of Alisha Smith, Lawyer and Purported Fetish Worker

In a culture in which celebrities regularly don latex or leather and talk about kinky sex, our media outlets still have a way of trying to keep the average individual’s sexuality in check when it comes to private sexual behaviors. Tabloids such as the New York Post has a long history of taking pieces of schoolyard-like gossip and treating them like news articles, especially when it comes to women’s sexuality. In the last year alone, the Post has thrown the title of “hooker” at no less than three women in its headlines, one of which was a murder victim, and even managed to get the frontpage headline of “Crazy Stox Like a Hooker’s Drawers…UP, DOWN, UP,” complete with a photo of a lady in red, to fit what might otherwise have been a piece about the fledgling economy. The Post, it would seem, has got sex (and sex workers) on the brain. The latest victim of the the Post’s sharpened tongue is a lawyer for the state Attorney General’s office, Alisha Smith, who was suspended without pay from her position, following the Post’s inquiry regarding her participation in BDSM activities in her off hours. Continue Reading →

The Fight Between the Village Voice and Ashton Kutcher: What Really Matters Here

Back in March, I published an article entitled “Ashton and Demi Tackle Child Sex Trafficking, One Problematic YouTube Video at a Time.” It was about Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore’s project the DNA Foundation and its questionable YouTube PSAs, which used gender stereotyping and unsettlingly inappropriate humor to, as Kutcher put it, “create a cultural shift around the buying and selling of humans.” Watching other media response to these videos, I felt relatively alone in the opinion that these videos were extremely harmful. Most media outlets either glibly shot off the press released-version of what was happening or dismissed Kutcher and Moore’s effort as, well, just plain silly (and justifiably so). Nothing deeper about the DNA Foundation’s PSAs or the patchworked research materials on their website was basically unexamined. Continue Reading →

Is Obama Done Fighting For The LGBT Community?

According to a recent press conference, President Obama claimed to have already met his commitments to the LGBT community. At a recent Pride event at the White House, he said “I have delivered on what I promised,” later adding “that doesn’t mean our work is done.” Obama has definitely done a lot for the gay community- namely his repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and his withdrawal of legal support from the Defense of Marriage Act. “The bottom line is I am hopeful. What gives me hope is a deeper shift that we’re seeing, that’s a transformation, not only in our laws, but in our hearts and minds too. Continue Reading →

Public And Private: Sexual Beliefs And Acts

With all the media attention going to the Anthony Weiner case, it’s an opportune time to think about the relationship between public and private sexual acts, and where beliefs about appropriateness fit into all of this. My atheist partner sent me some pieces by Richard Dawkins that address these issues (though not in the context of the Weiner case), so I’m using current events as a leaping-off point to discuss how people’s beliefs about sex play a role in their actions and responses. In an essay on the sexual lives of political figures, Dawkins writes: “A censorious culture in which public figures are forced to answer impertinent questions about their past, or their private affairs, would lead to open season on everybody. Who, if challenged with a point blank question, could honestly deny some secret from the past that they know society would condemn?” The interesting point here is that our society has so many hang-ups about sex that we’re practically responsible for creating an environment in which any sexual expression could potentially be deviant. Continue Reading →

Combining Star Trek and Sexuality Rights? Yes, Please!

George Takei, one of my favorite Star Trek actors, is coming out against a new Tennessee bill. The “Don’t Say Gay” bill, as it’s known, aims to make it illegal for elementary- and middle-school teachers to discuss homosexuality in the classroom. Takei, who is himself openly gay, has been a vocal and entertaining advocate for LGBT rights, and his latest efforts are no exception. As part of his campaign against this homophobic bill, he’s offering the use of his name in place of the word “gay” (since it rhymes, of course). You can even buy “It’s OK to be Takei” merchandise, complete with rainbow Star Trek communicator logo. Continue Reading →

Transgender Professor Denied Tenure

After completing her transition, a transgender professor was denied tenure and terminated. The professor also experienced harassment specific to her situation: she was told that she could only use one bathroom on the campus, a restriction that was placed on no other faculty member. After her tenure review, the professor was told that the dean and vice president of academic affairs found her “lifestyle” inappropriate, so she was going to be made to leave. There are no transgender anti-discrimination laws in the state of Oklahoma, nor are there specific laws about hate crimes based on gender or sexuality. Thus, there may not be any recourse for the professor, even though the president of academic affairs has openly stated that the professor’s lifestyle “offends his Baptist beliefs.” Continue Reading →

Ashton and Demi Tackle Child Sex Trafficking, One Problematic YouTube Video at a Time

If you haven’t seen it already, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore have founded an organization called the DNA Foundation (or the Demi and Ashton Foundation), designed at targeting the issues of child sex slavery and trafficking. To promote their message, they’ve released a series of Funny or Die-like PSAs (Kutcher’s words, not mine), starring other famous celebrities, including Bradley Cooper, Justin Timberlake, Jason Mraz, Eva Longoria, Jessica Biel, Sean Penn, Jamie Fox and Drake. It’s a star-studded cast, looking pretty foolish and ultimately, painfully missing the point. See, the PSAs show men doing goofy things, like buying new socks instead of washing the old ones (because “Real men know how to do laundry”), or fighting a robot on the street (because “Real men are distrustful of robots”). Then in each, a short sketch ends with “Real men [do this]. Continue Reading →

“Jesus Loves Sluts”: So Says the Slut Walk

Are you familiar with the Slut Walk that happened in Toronto recently? If you are, this site has some of their favorite signs from the walk. If you are not familiar with the Slut Walk, it’s a protest against a comment that the Toronto police said regarding sexual assault. The police said that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victims.” As an advocate at a rape crisis center, a feminist, and a health educator, this comment was incredibly insulting to me. I regularly hear the myth that if a woman is sexually assaulted it has something to do with what she is wearing (which already assumes that only women are sexually assaulted and also that wearing something else could have prevented this act of violence). Continue Reading →

Sex Discrimination In The Newsroom

I’ve been recently working on a piece for a war and terrorism class pertaining to women reporters and overseas affairs, and I thought MSP would be a good outlet to share some of the info and get your reaction. As the news has well informed us, back on February 11th, CBS news correspondent Lara Logan was attacked at Tahrir Square in Egypt by an outraged mob of Egyptians. We later learned that Logan was sexually assaulted and beaten in the midst of the attack, being rescued soon after by a group of women as well as (an estimated) 20 Egyptian soldiers. Once word broke of the attack, stories were popping up left and right about her assault, yet not all were informative. Many blogs* were posting stories* spewing the typical (negative) rape responses, such as “she was asking for it,” or “she should have known better and not put herself in that position.” Continue Reading →