Woodhull Foundation’s Sexual Freedom Day
& State of Sexual Freedom in the US, 2010 Report
Dazzle, Edify National Audience
WASHINGTON, DC – Reporters, academics, first amendment crusaders, economic and social justice advocates, human rights activists, adult entertainment stars, and the public packed the Fourth Estate Room at DC’s National Press Club last Thursday for Woodhull Freedom Foundation’s first annual Sexual Freedom Day and release of the State of Sexual Freedom in the US 2010 Report. The event on September 23, celebrating the birthday of Victoria Woodhull, a radical suffragist and visionary and the foundation’s namesake, represented one of the most successful in the organization’s history, “bringing the national dialogue on sexual freedom to a new level and opening a new chapter in the history of the Woodhull Freedom Foundation,” in the words of President and CEO Ricci Levy.
Bloggers and national media took note, and helped ignite wide interest in the new report, and in the just launched petition to President Obama to “Bring Human Rights Home” by integrating the US’s human rights commitments into local, state, and federal statutes (Please pause here and take a moment to sign the petition on the right of the page!).
National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, Gay Lesbian Activist Alliance, Free Speech Coalition, and the National Coalition Against Censorship were among the dozen-plus sponsors of Sexual Freedom Day.
A policy breakfast and keynote addresses from Lawrence Walters, a First Amendment litigator, and Mark Kernes, Senior Editor and Chief Legal Analyst for Adult Video News Media Network, opened the program. Speaking of the pressing need to revise current statutes and legal attitudes regarding sexual expression, Walters noted, “Only people who are forced to watch porn against their will are juries in obscenity cases.” Kernes, who frequents conservative political conferences, reminded the audience of the high political stakes of sexual freedom advocacy when he quipped, “Sexual Repression Day was last week. It was called the Value Voters Summit.”
The morning sessions continued with Amber Hollibaugh and Kenyon Farrow, both from New York-based Queers for Economic Justice, bringing home the relevance of class and race to the struggle for sexual freedom. Sexual health activist Carmen Vazquez and adult entertainment star Nina Hartley expanded this conversation, recounting powerful personal stories and arguing, “We [who are interested in sexual freedom] cannot obtain power to change our status as sexual outlaws by sanitizing ourselves.”
At a noontime luncheon, five individuals from widely different backgrounds and areas of advocacy received this year’s Vicki Sexual Freedom Award, named in honor of Victoria Woodhull. The “Vickis” are given annually to individuals or organizations whose work and life embody Woodhull’s mission to affirm sexual freedom as a fundamental human right, and this year were awarded to National Coalition for Sexual Freedom founder Susan Wright, global human rights activist Kushaba Moses Mworeko presently seeking US political asylum from Uganda, psychologist and author Deborah Taj Anapol, and Sirius XM radio inventors, authors, and proponents of techno-hypoprogressive and transhumanist projects Bina Aspen and Martine Rothblatt.
Bilerico Project’s Bil Browning, The New Gay’s Zack Rosen, Woodhulll’s Human Rights Program Director RJ Thompson, and sexual freedom activist Dan Massey led an engaging afternoon session taking a look at the way forward and addressing the adaptability of new media in advancing sexual freedom as a fundamental human right.
The day concluded with a press conference led by Dr. Elizabeth Wood, Mr. Walters, and Ms. Levy, and the release of the 2010 State of Sexual Freedom in the US Report. The 161-page Report, featuring more than a dozen contributions from 15 diverse authors, uses a human rights framework to address issues ranging from sex education, obscenity law, and HIV stigma to reproductive justice, morality and sex, and the decriminalization of prostitution. Copies of the report will be available at www.woodhullfoundation.org as a PDF or e-book, providing a key resource for anyone involved in the ongoing struggle for sexual freedom and human rights
Mark your calendars for next year’s Sexual Freedom Day on 9/23 – you won’t want to miss it!