Bi-Weekly Sexual Freedom Newsletter

Wednesday, March 6, 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. This week, the newsletter covers the following topics:

  • The current administration's alarming attacks on the Federal Family Planning Program;
  • Rising threats of LGBTQ+ adoption discrimination across the nation;  
  • Grassroots activism in Illinois to lower the steep costs of phone calls from prison;
  • New York lawmakers and activists fighting to decriminalize sex work;
  • A recent lawsuit brought against ICE due to violence and Illegal searches a raid of a small-town Tennessee meatpacking plant;
  • The politics surrounding women's sexual pleasure onscreen;
  • Increasing shutdowns of alternative porn sites and the "monopolization of porn."

(Laura Segall/AFP/Getty Images)

What You Need to Know About Trump's Attacks on the Federal Family Planning Program (Rewire.News)

The ability to receive quality, affordable contraceptives and reproductive health care is a fundamental human right, one that the Federal Family Planning Program seeks to protect. But the Trump administration is attacking the program, instituting a "gag rule" that effectively puts both access to family planning and abortion services at serious risk. Laura Huss and Katelyn Burns write, "Reproductive health advocates are bracing themselves for the finalization of the Trump administration's Title X 'domestic gag rule.' The anti-choice policy would ban providers receiving Title X funds from referring patients for abortion services and force abortion providers under the program to physically separate abortion services from other family planning services." Read more.



(NurPhoto/Getty Images)

A Frightening Number of States Are Pushing for LGBTQ+ Adoption Discrimination (them.)

New legislation and policies are making it harder for many to adopt from federally-funded adoption agencies. These decisions are making it harder for LGBTQ+ parents—among others—to adopt. Matt Baume writes, "New guidance from the Trump administration grants wider license than ever to discriminate against same-sex parents in South Carolina, but the repercussions could soon extend far beyond state borders. Under Obama-era rules, publicly licensed and funded foster care agencies could not discriminate on a religious basis. But last month, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a decision ruling that South Carolina's federally-funded adoption agencies may deny services to a wide range of families. Organizations collecting federal funds can now turn away parents for being queer, for being Jewish, or for being unmarried." Read more.



(Getty Images)

Illinois Prison Phone Rates Are Lowest Following Grassroots Activism (Truthout)

Contacting a loved one held in a cage at a jail or prison in the U.S. is neither an easy nor affordable thing to do. Brian Dolinar writes, "Families of those incarcerated have long complained about the high cost of phone calls from prison. A national campaign pressured the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to intervene in 2015, but the agency's regulations have since been reversed by the Trump administration. In Illinois, the price of prison phone calls was just drastically reduced, making it much easier for Taylor and others like her to stay in contact with their loved ones. Just a few years ago, Illinois had the most inflated rates in the country. According to a renegotiated contract, the cost of a call from prison is now just under a penny a minute. Illinois is now the state with the lowest costs in the country." As Annette Taylor, a woman who regularly receives calls from her two sons in prison, says, "There were a lot of times my sons tried calling me [...] but there was no money on the account." The steep fees for such phone calls are part and parcel of the rampant dehumanization and violence of the broader criminal justice system, a system that grassroots activists in Illinois are fighting today. Read more.


(Marie Solis)

New York Lawmakers Join Activists in Fight to Decriminalize Sex Work (Broadly)

On Monday, February 25, over one hundred demonstrators convened in Manhattan's Foley Square to celebrate the launch of a new coalition of lawmakers and activists dedicated to decriminalizing sex work. Marie Solis writes, "Sex workers' rights have been steadily gaining a foothold in mainstream political discourse in the wake of FOSTA/SESTA, a package of anti-sex trafficking federal legislation that President Donald Trump signed into law in April. The twin bills won the overwhelming support of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle—including all of the current 2020 Democratic frontrunners—who argued it would curb sex-trafficking and end its propagation online. But it was sex workers, and particularly trans sex workers, who felt the immediate effects of the law, which they said had shut down forums where they could find safe and reliable work and instead put them at greater risk for violence, homelessness, and arrest." Read more.


(Elijah Baylis/The Clarion-Ledger/Associated Press)

Standing By as Prisoners Are Raped (The New York Times)

Lovisa Stannow writes, "It is well known among prison reformers that the East Mississippi Correctional Facility, a private prison, is a cesspool of violence and sexual abuse. The horrific conditions there have long been out in the open, thanks in large part to a class-action lawsuit brought in 2013 on behalf of the prisoners, on which a judge will rule any day now." Read more. (Additional resource, Just Detention International, found here.)


(Erik Mcgregor/Pacific Press/ZUMA Wire)

New Lawsuit Details Allegations of Violence, Illegal Searches During ICE Raid (Mother Jones)

Since its inception in 2002, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has threatened the safety and wellbeing of migrants and people of color, particularly Latinx folks. Recently, criticism and outrage at ICE's violent actions have taken the form of a new lawsuit pertaining to a workplace raid in a meatpacking plant in Tennessee. Olivia Exstrum writes, "In April 2018, employees at a meatpacking plant in small-town Tennessee had just started what seemed like a normal day at work when they were suddenly rushed by dozens of armed Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Helicopters circled the building from above. The employees, mostly Latino immigrants, were ordered to stop working and put their hands in the air, and many were restrained with plastic zip ties. Some had guns pointed at them and were called racial slurs. After getting in a lineup, they were driven to a National Guard armory to be questioned and fingerprinted and were detained for many hours. These are among the allegations detailed in a class-action lawsuit filed Thursday by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of seven Latino employees detained at the meatpacking plant in what the suit claims was the largest workplace raid in nearly a decade. Approximately 100 workers were arrested on immigration charges." Read more.


(Illustration by Tina Maria Elena)

Her Neck, Her Back: The Past and Future of Women's Orgasms Onscreen (Bitch Media)

As Jourdain Searles contends, the media informs much of how we think of ourselves and our bodies. Employing an intersectional analysis of the media's representation of sexual pleasure, Searles emphasizes the lack of narrative space devoted to showing and celebrating women's orgasms onscreen. Searles writes, "From the comedic Scary Movie series to art-house fare such as Boogie Nights, Happiness, and the aptly named Spanking the Monkey, the sheer number of men I've seen onscreen get off—as well as obsess over their dicks, lament their sexual dry spells, and compete with other men in elaborate contests to get action—has become a blur. But I can recall with perfect clarity every time I've watched a woman get eaten out onscreen—like the scene that opens 2009's Away We Go, in which Burt (John Krasinski) remarks, mid-cunnilingus, to Verona (Maya Rudolph), 'You taste different,' sparking the revelation that she's pregnant. The act itself occurs under the covers, a thing I never questioned until I started getting head myself and realized how unrealistic it is for anyone, regardless of gender, to take 'going down' that literally." Read more.


(Erika Lust)

Is Porn Becoming a Monopoly? (Medium)

As Vex Ashley, an alt-porn producer, puts it, the consumer internet is becoming,  "sterilized and gentrified." Thomas McMullan interviews Ashley to examine the increased marginalization of the internet presence of alt-porn and the implications this may have. McMullan writes, "In June 2018, Patreon told Vex Ashley that it was effectively shutting down her page. Ashley's independent pornography project, Four Chambers, had been on the funding site for a number of years, and the income it provided was her livelihood—and paid for the labor of her performers. The shutdown was part of a wider flurry of suspensions toward adult creators on the platform. Patreon explained at the time that it had ramped up a 'proactive review of content' due to pressures from 'payment partners.' While Four Chambers had existed happily for four years on the site, Ashley was informed she couldn't continue to use funds for work that involved nudity or sexually explicit material." Read more.

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