Featured News

>> Strolling Topless in New York City
(July 3, 2011)

The Village Voice
The news last month about a woman beating the heat by walking the streets of New York City topless delighted me not for the apparent shock value this had for many, but for its affirmation of sexual equality. Explains the NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information to The Village Voice:
The state's highest court established long ago that women have the same right as men to appear topless in public. Absent a link to some commercial enterprise or promotion, the woman's lack of certain attire in this instance does not appear to be a police matter.
Read complete story here.

>> Feminists Celebrate Midsummer Around Mayholes
(June 24, 2011)

Midsummer "mayhole" revolution
During this weekend's Midsummer celebration in Sweden, a growing number of feminists will be dancing around a "mayhole" instead of the traditional maypole. Rejecting the latter as a symbol of the sexist phallic penis, the movement seeks to replace it with a feminine symbol.
Among the most important parts of a traditional Midsummer celebration is the decoration and erection of a flower-adorned maypole, around which joyous Swedes, young and old, dance and sing merry tunes. [...]
But this year, a growing chorus of voices rising up against Sweden's traditional Midsummer celebrations, implore Swedes to break with tradition and dance around a vagina instead.

“In the future I want coming generations to say on their trips abroad that ‘In Sweden we celebrate midsummer by dancing around a vagina’,” says Alexander Alvina Chamberland, co-founder of the group Midsommarfitta ('Midsummer Cunt'). (The Local)
Chamberland, a self-proclaimed "femme genderqueer" who has just finished his master's degree in gender studies, adds that the Midsummer celebration in general is too "heteronormative:" "The tradition of girls picking seven different flowers to put under their pillow to dream about their future man is also very heteronormative and patriarchal."

While some experts dispute the interpretation of the maypole as a phallic symbol, others suggest that the pole indeed represents a penis but that the earth symbolizes the woman being fertilized by the pole, meaning that both sexes are actually being represented in the traditional symbol. Learn more here.

>> Police Free to Sexually Assault?
(June 17, 2011)

"Chicago State's Attorney Lets Bad Cops Slide, Prosecutes Citizens Who Record Them," reported the Huffington Post earlier this month. The article refers to the case of 20-year-old Tiawanda Moore who was arrested last summer after reporting to internal affairs investigators that an officer, who was called to her apartment on a domestic-violence complaint, groped her breast and handed her his personal phone number. Her crime? Recording her conversation with the investigators.

Explains Ms. Magazine blog today:
When Moore went in to the station to file a sexual-harassment complaint against the officer, she says Internal Affairs officers told her not to bother. They began to threaten her if she insisted on going ahead with her charges. Moore got scared so she turned on the recorder inside her Blackberry, and captured their threats with her phone’s recording device.
When the officers realized they were being recorded, they arrested Ms. Moore and dumped her into the Cook County Jail. Illinois has a very tough law against recording a conversation with any law enforcement official without their knowledge. The law protects police and DA’s from being entrapped–but also violates the First Amendment, according to the ACLU in Chicago. Now out of jail, Moore faces 15 years in prison on charges of “eavesdropping”: The same penalty for rape in Illinois. And the cop she claimed grabbed her breast? No charges were brought against him. None.
Originally scheduled for February 7th, Ms. Moore's trial date is now scheduled for June 23rd, reports Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against Girls & Young Women:
Ms. Moore has asked for her right to a speedy trial to be respected ... Instead it has continuously been continued and postponed.
You can petition to have the eavesdropping charges against Moore dropped by signing here:

Petitions by Change.org|Start a Petition »

>> Transgressive Sex Play
(May 21, 2011)

Bringing up the rear
Salon.com recently featured an article—Bringing up the rear—on the growing trend of more straight men exploring a formerly taboo hot spot: the male anus. A national sex survey published last year in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found eleven percent of men ages 20-24 reporting that they've been on the receiving end of anal intercourse at some point in their lives. Says sex educator and editor of Good Vibrations Magazine Dr. Charlie Glickman: “more heterosexual men are discovering prostate and anal play with their female partners than ever before.”

Often compared to the female G-spot, the male prostate is surrounded by two bundles of nerves and plays an essential role in ejaculation. Some progressive sex pedagogical films released since the late nineties reveal the sex positive feminist potential of female-on-male strap-on sex where women’s active role is advanced as gender differences fade away.

New progressive porn is also picking up on the potential of anal sex play to transgress conventional gender stereotypes through a floating exchange of sex roles.

(The text featured here was originally published in my post "The Bi Apple and Gender Bending Sex Films" at Good Vibrations Magazine. Read More >>)

>> Sex Toys Against Cancer
(May 6, 2011)

The woman-run silicone sex toy manufacturer Tantus has announced that their "Team Tantus" will be participating in Relay for Life 2011. In their fundraising efforts, Tantus has also created the limited edition Dark Vamp dildo and Dark Vamp Harness Kit – 100% of the proceeds from the sale of each item will go to the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.

Explains Tantus:
In 2002, I was a single mom with a newborn. I knew she would change my life, but until her cancer diagnosis at 5 months of age, I didn't know just how much. I used to imagine her growing up to be an artist, a revolutionary, the first female President... now I just dream about her growing up. The help we received during her treatment made a huge impact, for both of us. As a healthy nine year old, she's starting to envision her own future – and cancer isn't in it.
— J.Clark, Marketing Coordinator, Tantus, Inc.
Cancer touches us all. At Tantus, over half the staff has had personal experience with cancer – either as a survivor, or having watched as a loved one is treated. It is for this reason that Team Tantus will be participating in Relay for Life 2011.

Tantus was co-founded in 1998 by Metis Black and her husband Kris Victor, who originated the designs and processes for its high quality sex toys. Tantus Toys are hypoallergenic, hygienic, phthalate free, odorless, tasteless, boilable, bleachable, dishwasher safe, and have been handmade in the US.

Read more about Tantus, Dark Vamp, and the unique Relay for Life cancer fundraising effort in this post by sex columnist Violet Blue. According to Blue, Tantus has also "done more to raise awareness about sex toy safety, model best practices with safe and sustainable business practices, and pushing the adult industry toward using nontoxic materials than anyone knows."

>> Smut City Film Series
(May 1, 2011)

Smut City made its debut last night at the New Movement theater in Austin, Texas with a screening of Café Flesh (1982), a post-apocalyptic science fiction porn film. Part of a growing movement of independent sex film festivals that include the Feminist Porn Awards, Porn Film Festival, CineKink, Sexy International Film Festival, Good Vibrations Indie Erotic Film Festival, and more; Smut City can contribute to building a greater public awareness of alternative re-visioned porn and its potential as a tool to empower men and women alike in their sexual lives.

Smut City seeks to rescue the erotic in porn by encouraging people to come together to watch and discuss erotic sex films, asserting that "without being able to openly discuss why we like certain porn or how it makes us feel, we lose our powers of critique and our taste becomes less discerning."

Click here to read more about Smut City which will follow up with another public screening next month.

And for a sample of sexually progressive re-visioned porn, you may also want to check out the films we have selected for our LSF Amazon Shop, as well as other films we recommend that are available at Good Vibrations®.

>> Kiss-in Organized in Support of Gay Couple
(April 21, 2011)

Bull and Williams
(Photo: Alastair Grant/AP)
In Soho, London last week, James Bull (23) and Jonathan Williams (26) were asked to leave a pub after kissing each other. First by a man claiming to be the landlord, who said their display of affection was "bothering" him; later by a woman in staff uniform, who said she was the landlady and found their kissing "obscene." Williams turned to Twitter to register his discontent.

Within hours, Williams' tweet had been re-tweeted hundreds of times, spurring a Kiss-in event in front of the pub, which closed its doors early to thwart off protesters.

Photo used for event on Facebook
The Kiss-in event had been announced on Facebook, but first a photo of two men kissing used to promote the event was removed by Facebook; then the entire event was taken off, with this email as an explanation:

Content that you shared on Facebook has been removed because it violated Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Shares that contain nudity, or any kind of graphic or sexually suggestive content, are not permitted on Facebook.

This message serves as a warning. Additional violations may result in the termination of your account. Please read the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities carefully and refrain from posting abusive material in the future. Thanks in advance for your understanding and cooperation.

The Facebook Team
But last Friday, more than three hundred people gathered in front of the pub, locking lips in defiance.

>> Feminist Porn Awards 2011
(April 15, 2011)

Today is the last day of the Sixth Annual Feminist Porn Awards (FPA). Founded by the Toronto based woman oriented sex shop Good For Her to support new progressive porn by women, feminist porn makers I personally recommend have received FPA awards for their work. Check out our Good Vibrations® Shop for some of these films.

On tonight's program is the actual awards show. Winners will be announced online tomorrow. Included among the nominees are Barcelona based feminist porn producer Erika Lust, Great Britain's first female porn producer Anna Span, San Francisco based queer porn maker Shine Louise Houston, sexologist Carol Queen, Australia based feminist porn maker Louise Lush, sex educator Tristan Taormino, film noir BDSM maker Maria Beatty, French queer photographer and film maker Emilie Jouvet, and BDSM and fetish porn maker Madison Young.

Good For Her presents this short video as a Feminist Porn Awards Retrospective, and in this short interview from the launching of this year's FPA awards, Tristan Taormino speaks about aspects of feminist porn.

>> What ought a woman do to avoid sexual assault?
(April 5, 2011)

What do you think a woman should do to protect herself from sexual assault? Dress less provocatively? And if so, how short can the skirt be, how low cut the blouse, how high the heals, and what amount of make-up? I'm asking, because as you may have read elsewhere, in January, a Toronto police officer suggested at a law school campus safety and security forum, that "women can avoid sexual assault by not dressing like a 'slut.'"

In response, a group of women launched the SlutWalk Toronto movement, asserting that "being assaulted isn’t about what you wear." The movement seeks to unite women and men of all gender expressions and orientations in Canada, the US and beyond "to make a unified statement about sexual assault and victims’ rights and to demand respect for all."

In February, the officer apologized for the statement in a letter attached to an email addressed to the law school community, but the student federation was not appeased by this, calling for a third-party audit of the police service.

Then last weekend, about 1,000 people gathered in downtown Toronto for a "Slut Walk" organized by SlutWalk Toronto with a call to action for sister walks that are now springing up across the US and Canada. See video here and photos here. Learn more at slutwalktoronto.com.

>> Ridding Trans Bias at Work
(April 3, 2011)

The Star Tribune featured an article today on the work done by Vanessa Sheridan to end discrimination in the workplace against transgenders. A transgender woman herself, Sheridan is a leading authority on the topic. Two of her three books have been nominated for Lambda literary awards, including her most recent, The Complete Guide to Transgender in the Workplace (2009). Sheridan leads workshops and provides talks to help employers update their nondiscrimination policies and create welcoming environments for their transgender workers.

Sheridan's work is important. According to a recent survey of 2,450 transgender Americans conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality, transgender people are twice as likely as the general population to be unemployed, four times as likely to live below the poverty level, and more than 90 percent report experiencing discrimination on the job. "But notable strides have been made in the past decade. In 2000, only three Fortune 500 companies included gender identity in their employee nondiscrimination policies. Today, more than 150 do. President Obama appointed a transgender woman, former test pilot Amanda Simpson, as an adviser to the Commerce Department. And there are lobbyists on Capitol Hill working for transgender rights." (Star Tribune)

As Sheridan points out, knowledge about transgender is essential to remove the fear that results in discrimination; "Once they have the information, all of a sudden the fear goes away and they say, 'Oh, well, these are just human beings, I can deal with that'" (Star Tribune). Please help spread the information by sharing these news.

>> Mature Women's Sexuality Needs More Focus
(March 31, 2011)

The cast of Calendar Girls (guardian)
A major new study conducted on behalf of the UK Film Council found that mature and older women feel marginalized in film. These women are keen to see film roles for women that more accurately communicate the characteristics of the modern, sexually liberated mature and older woman rather than being cast as background, sexless figures. 

Sixty-one percent of women between the ages of 50 and 75 questioned for this UK Film Council survey of 4,315 people said women their age were portrayed on the big screen as not having sexual needs or desires. Half said they were comfortable with older women being seen as attractive to younger men – the recently identified "Cougar phenomenon" further popularized by the ABC show "Cougar Town" starring Courteney Cox. Seven in 10 also felt that their group was generally under-represented in films and that younger women were glamorized.

Feminist porn makerssuch as Candida Royalle, who strives to include a diverse range of women in her films in terms of age, body type and more recently also ethnicity–have begun to address the concerns of these women. But clearly more filmmakers both in porn and mainstream motion pictures ought to address them.

>> Obama and a New Era of Sex Ed. (March 17, 2011)

(Photo: The Huffington Post)
In his weekly address last weekend, President Obama, father of two young girls, endorsed his support for women's rights to equal pay, rights, and opportunity, avowing to work towards closing the gender gap. Indeed, since taking office, President Obama has ended nearly thirty years of strong support from the federal government for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that disempower girls in particular, launching a new era of sex education, eliminating two-thirds of federal funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs while introducing new funding to comprehensive sex education initiatives. However, with policies and funding thus taking a major turn, much of this has yet to lead to real program implementation on state and local level.

As SIECUS reports, the Obama administration's new funding initiatives are encountering resistance particularly in the South, which continues to receive the highest amounts of federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funding while surveys also show that a larger percentage of youth in the South engage in riskier sexual health behaviors compared to their counterparts in the rest of the country.

Notably, California saw the steepest decline in their teen pregnancy rate between 1992 and 2005 (52% decline versus a national decline of 37%) and is the only state that never accepted federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funding, ending its own experiment with abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in the mid-1990s, shifting its resources to comprehensive sex education programs. Now more than ever, is a time to promote substantial human sexuality education in all American schools, ensuring the success and furthering of new policies where it matters.

SIECUS. “A Portrait of Sexuality Education and Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in the States. An Overview. Fiscal Year 2009 Edition” (2010).

>> Women's Sexuality More Fluid Than Men's (March 9, 2011)

In a recent survey, more than twice as many females as males reported some type of sexual encounter with a member of the same sex at some point in their lifetime, providing empirical support for the popular sense that women have more fluidity in their sexual attraction than men do (12.5% versus 5.2%). Women were less likely than men to report that they were only attracted to the opposite sex (83% versus 94%), and more women than men reported being bisexual (3.5% versus 1.1%). Younger women were more likely to identify themselves as bisexual than older women.

Feminist porn makers today express a concern that girl-girl sex scenes are not gratuitously added in porn to cater to a male gaze. At the same time, they embrace the realities of today's women's sexual desires and experiences, portraying sex between women that are not necessarily lesbian or bisexual, but who nonetheless explore same sex encounters.

Jamye Waxman, who has a Master’s in sex education from Widener University, and who has produced a sex pedagogical video series called Personal Touch, covering topics that include how to maintain a monogamous relationship without monotony, has also written a book titled Women Loving Women: Appreciating and Exploring the Beauty of Erotic Female Encounters (Quiver Press, 2007). "For curious "straight" or "bi" women who want to explore being with another woman, this book provides first hand accounts, tips and basic techniques to ensure that you get what you want out of your sapphic sexual experience."

The data come from a 2006-2008 in-person survey of 13,495 men and women ages 15 to 44. Chandra A, et al “Sexual behavior, sexual attraction, and sexual identity in the United States: Data from the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth” NCHS Brief 2011.