The Woodhull Freedom Foundation’s mission is to affirm sexual freedom as a fundamental human right.
Woodhull envisions a world that recognizes sexual freedom as the fundamental human right of all individuals to develop and express their unique sexuality; to be personally autonomous with regard to bodily integrity and expression; and to enjoy sexual dignity, privacy, and consensual sexual expression without societal or governmental interference, coercion or stigmatization.
Working at the intersection of sexual and human rights.
Established in February 2003, The Woodhull Freedom Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization devoted to education and public advocacy in support of sexual freedom as a fundamental human right. Our work builds on the affirmations of individual rights contained in the United States Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Woodhull carefully cultivates and works to engage allies from all social, economic, religious and cultural justice communities interested in affirming sexual freedom. We strive to harness the energy of and join with the LGBTQ, Sex Work, Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, free speech, privacy, reproductive freedom, and related movements to bring existing energy to bear on sexual freedom as an additional opportunity for shared discourse and political, cultural and social change.
The founding members of the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, included Mary Frances Berry, Melinda Chateauvert, Richard Cunningham, Judy Guerin, Ricci Levy, Jeffrey Montgomery, and Eric Rofes. In 2003, they gathered to discuss individuals and families being denied their fundamental human right to sexual freedom – a denial that threatened their health and welfare in addition to their Constitutionally-supported quest for happiness.
From that meeting, the Woodhull Freedom Foundation – named for 19th-century feminist and activist Victoria Woodhull – was born. Since its inception, the Foundation has advocated on behalf of sexual freedom as a fundamental human right, worthy of its place alongside hard-fought liberties including freedom of expression, the right to family, and the right to privacy. Whether talking with students about the legitimacy of all consenting families or successfully imploring Congress to eliminate condoms as evidence of prostitution, Woodhull works alongside allies representing specific issues, identities, and communities, while simultaneously serving as an umbrella advocate for sexual rights as a whole.
Based in Washington DC, the Woodhull Freedom Foundation works to change those laws, policies, and practices across a range of issues with one thing in common: They deny or threaten our fundamental human right to sexual freedom.
Woodhull was instrumental in the inclusion of domestic partner benefits as a component of same-sex marriage – a detail at risk in the original legislation. We played a key role in the termination of Washington DC’s “Prostitution Free Zones,” which infracted on legally defensible rights, and testified and lobbied from a human rights perspective on behalf of efforts to end the practice of shackling incarcerated women during labor and childbirth in Florida prisons. We succeeded. Woodhull also successfully lobbied to change the laws regarding sexting between minors.
But it’s not just about individual legal changes. In addition to inducing legislative, judicial, and corporate accountability and progress, the Woodhull Freedom Foundation is the preeminent voice emanating from the intersection of sexual rights and human rights – insisting that the United States protect human rights, including those related to sexual freedom, rather than limit them.
Other Woodhull endeavors infuse America’s sexual climate with overdue credibility and positivity. Our annual and acclaimed Sexual Freedom Summit, now in its 10th year, embodies Woodhull’s belief in open, positive discourse regarding sexuality and related issues. We lead by example with frank, lively and engaging conversations about sexual health and consensual sexual expression as a human right, and approach these conversations in a way that includes pleasure and desire – two elements often missing from other national conversations about sex and sexuality. Presenters and attendees range from international movement leaders to curious laypeople – a range of voices providing a set of tools, conversations, and resources that galvanize change.
In 2010, Woodhull’s efforts prompted the proclamation of September 23rd (Victoria Woodhull’s birthday) as Sexual Freedom Day.
Our Vicki Sexual Freedom Award honors and acknowledges courageous pioneers advancing the cause of sexual rights across a variety of endeavors, causes, and locations.
In all sexual freedom-oriented endeavors, we point to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document sets out, for the first time in 1948, fundamental human rights to be universally protected.
Sexual rights lie at the heart of human rights, and the freedom to engage in consensual sexual practices, relationships and expression is both a right and a cultural benefit. The Woodhull Freedom Foundation is committed to advancing recognition of sexual, gender and family diversity in efforts to improve the well-being, rights, and autonomy of all people.