Bi-Weekly Sexual Freedom Newsletter

Wednesday February 20th, 2019


The Woodhull Freedom Foundation is the only national human rights organization working full time to protect the fundamental human right to sexual freedom. Our work includes fighting sexual violence, eliminating discrimination based on gender or sexual identity or family form, and protecting the right to engage in consensual sexual activity and expression. We do this through advocacy, education, and coalition building.  

Every other Wednesday, our bi-weekly newsletter aggregates seven articles central to Woodhull's mission and work. But first, some important news from us: On February 13, Woodhull filed a Merits Brief with the DC Circuit Court in support of our appeal of Judge Richard Leon's ruling in September, when he ultimately decided that none of the plaintiffs have the legal right to sue to have this law overturned, and dismissed the case. On February 13, we filed our appeal, laying out the reasons we do, of course, have standing and the right to sue. Read more about our ongoing federal lawsuit challenging the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA). We are dedicated to doing everything we can to challenge this unconstitutional law that attempts to censor the internet and we continue to call attention to and work to stop the dangers it poses to the sex worker community.

Now onto the newsletter! This week, the newsletter covers the following topics:

  • Interviews with survivors of the Parkland school shooting, one year after the massacre;
  • New York's Reproductive Health Act and the right to life and dignity for pregnant people;
  • A recent bill in Maine that intensifies school censorship of "sexually explicit" texts and threatens First Amendment rights and the quality of education;
  • The inhumane and horrific conditions of the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, NY;
  • The systemic changes required to eradicate HIV in Black communities;
  • The Catholic Church's failures to address sexual abuse;
  • ​The liberating future of sex toys.

(Eve Edelheit)

Parkland: A Year After the School Shooting That Was Supposed to Change Everything (The New York Times)

On February 14, 2018, seventeen students and staff were murdered at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida; seventeen others were injured. To honor and remember those who were killed as well as those who survived, The New York Times interviewed nine members of the Stoneman Douglas community. Patricia Mazzei writes, "The name "Parkland" has become a shorthand for the tragedy that many hoped would mark the beginning of the end of school massacres. But ask the survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in more quiet moments about the awful year since last Feb. 14, and they tell you a different, more personal story. About innocence lost. Dreams undone. Grief delayed. [...] To think of them, and of this upscale suburban high school, as mere symbols of tragedy ignores the complicated tapestry of sadness, fear and defiance that is now forever part of it—and will be long after the last of these students graduate." Read more.



NY's Reproductive Health Act Is Not Radical; It Simply Recognizes That The Lives And Dignity Of Pregnant People Count Too (Human Rights at Home Blog)

New York's Reproductive Health Act (RHA) is far from radical; it prohibits abortions after 24 weeks in almost all circumstances. But the law also recognizes that pregnant people should be able to end a pregnancy if it imposes serious and irreparable harm on their life and their health. As Cindy Soohoo writes, the "state denial of an abortion" violates a fundamental human right—"In fact, concern over state prohibition of abortions in those circumstances led UN human rights experts to write to the U.S. to encourage passage of laws like the Reproductive Health Act. This is not a radical position. It is merely the recognition of the value of the life and dignity of pregnant people. The failure of critics of the RHA to understand this is a glaring gap in their "pro-life" views." Read more.


(Kai Schwabe/Getty Images/Westend61)

Maine Bill Aims to Weaken Protection Against School Censorship (National Coalition Against Censorship)

A recent bill in Maine requires written permission for students to read materials deemed "sexually explicit." While the bill as originally proposed demanded an outright ban, this amendment still threatens First Amendment rights and the right to a quality education. National Coalition Against Censorship writes, "Over-broad and prejudicial, labeling a book as sexually explicit is likely to generate parental requests that children be given alternative assignments in cases where parents would not otherwise do so. Teachers, concerned about such complaints, may simply decide not to include books with references to sex in the curriculum in the first place. Likewise, librarians may decide not to include certain books in their school libraries. Labeling books as sexually explicit will also invite demands to label books with additional types of "objectionable" content such as violence, LGBT themes, drug use, and profanity. This will ultimately result in an overly expansive regime of labeling that will leave few books unaffected." Read more.


(Garrison Lovely)

"They're Human Beings in There!" (Jacobin)

For a week, more than a thousand people were caged in freezing temperatures in a Brooklyn jail, gaining national attention and sparking widespread outrage. Garrison Lovely covers this horrific affront to the humanity of incarcerated peoples, including a free form protest outside the Metropolitan Detention Center. Lovely writes, "As conditions return to normal in MDC, it would be easy to declare victory. The lawsuit brought by the Federal Defenders is likely to be costly, and the spotlight from media and elected officials may lead to a modicum of accountability for those responsible for this disaster. It appears that judges looking into the case no longer trust the BOP or the US attorneys representing them. But for most of the men and women inside, a return to normal means continued incarceration in the cruelest and least just criminal justice system in the developed world. And for the hundreds of thousands more caged far from home, there is no one to hear their pounding." Read more.


(The Black AIDS Institute)

Eradicating HIV in Black Communities Requires Systemic Change (Rewire.News)

If the persistent race and gender disparities in HIV transmission and treatment continue to be ignored, the pandemic will not be effectively addressed. Specifically, Jallicia Jolly argues for a focus on how the pandemic systemically affects Black communities. Jolly writes, "Any plan to halt the spread of HIV and AIDS must include culturally informed interventions that meet the range of needs, desires, and interests of Black women of different age groups, ethnicities, regions, and cultural contexts. For example, interventions must openly address any potential side effects of PrEP for Black women's sexual and reproductive health. Interventions must also consider how women's relationships with health providers and practitioners (both primary and specialized), as well as the medical establishment, shape their perceptions of risk and their adoption of prevention strategies." Read more.


(William B. Plowman/Getty Images)

Why Does the Catholic Church Keep Failing on Sexual Abuse? (The Atlantic)

For decades, Catholic Church leaders have been apologizing for sexual abuse. But despite years of regret and reforms, the Church is, yet again, facing public outrage. Emma Green writes, "The past year has brought a nonstop series of devastating allegations, gaffes by top bishops and the pope, and delays in addressing abuse revelations that have recently come to light in news reports and other investigations. Frequently, the Catholic hierarchy has responded with ineptitude and infighting. The unfortunate effect is that the bishops, rather than the survivors, have become the center of the story." Read more.


(Wikimedia Commons)

Plastic Pleasure: Hallie Lieberman on the Liberating Future of Sex Toys (Bitch Media)

As Suzannah Weiss puts it, "There are few products with as much meaning attached to them as sex toys." To explore their status, from legally prohibited in Alabama to symbols of liberation, Weiss interviews Hallie Lieberman, author of Buzz: A Stimulating History of the Sex Toy. Explaining Lieberman's book, Weiss writes, "For her dissertation on sex-toy history, she investigated the ways patriarchy, sex negativity, and religion have made people shy away from adult products or limit their use to committed relationships. In the course of her research, she also found that sex toys have been used to help women be sexual on their own terms, validate LGBTQ people's sexuality, and allow people with disabilities to experience pleasure. Buzz holds all these complexities at once, showing how our cultural view of sex has evolved since the days when male-owned companies monopolized the market and still needs to evolve." Read more.

Follow Us


© 2019 The Woodhull Freedom Foundation All rights reserved

Manage Subscription