Bi-Weekly Sexual Freedom Newsletter

Wednesday September 19th, 2018


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:

  • Domestic violence and traumatic brain injury;
  • A recently developed digital birth control method;
  • What’s missing from contemporary conversations on consent;
  • The complexities of gender identity and who gets to identify as nonbinary;
  • The fight for LGBTQ+ rights in Massachusetts;
  • The militant anti-abortion movement;
  • ​How abuse impacts not just individuals, but also shapes misogynistic culture.

(Christos Georghiou)

Insult to Injury: Who’s Left Out of the Picture When We Talk About Traumatic Brain Injury? (Bitch Media)

Recently, traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been a topic of discussion surrounding the physical brutality of football and its lasting effects on players. Yet Sarah Kishpaugh urges for this conversation to include a lesser-known cause of TBI: domestic violence. In response to a 2015 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report about TBI, Kishbaugh writes, “While the report gave specific recommendations for monitoring and identifying sports-related concussions, assault was not elaborated on as a cause. Its section on specific populations to consider included children, seniors, rural residents, people who are incarcerated, and those who have served in the military, but not victims of domestic violence. The word ‘sports’ appeared 24 times in the document, the word ‘women’ appeared once. Each year in the United States, approximately 4.8 million physical assaults are perpetrated against women by an intimate partner, an underestimation due to overall lack of reporting among survivors. There is a causal association between TBI and intimate partner violence (IPV), and yet because of the personal variables associated with TBI, there have been few source studies amounting to statistical links.” Read more.



The FDA Approved a Digital Birth Control Method. Should There Be an App for That? (Rewire)

In an age where digital technologies are rapidly integrating with everyday life, Martha Kempner asks a complex question: “Can an app really be a method of birth control, and should we trust something as important as avoiding unintended pregnancy to our smartphone?” In an article that explains Natural Cycles, a recently FDA-approved digital birth control method, Kempner offers an informative overview of fertility awareness-based methods (FABMs). Kempner writes, “The age-old idea behind FABMs is that if you can accurately identify those fertile days and avoid sex during them (or use a back-up method), you can avoid pregnancy. Finding that window, however, is complicated. At its most basic, it requires tracking menstrual cycles for at least six months to be able to predict their timing. Just logging one’s periods, however, isn’t very effective. We used to call that the rhythm method, which has a failure rate of about 24 percent. More sophisticated FABMs have the user collect certain biomarkers. [...] People have been doing this for years using charts and graphs and some potentially complicated calculations. Some apps merely replace the paper and pen—they store the  information the user puts in, but the user is still responsible for analyzing it. Others, like Natural Cycles, use their own algorithms to interpret the menstrual data for the user and determine the safer and not safe days.” Read more.


(Uche Wogwugu)

3 Experts on What's Missing From the Consent Discussion (Refinery29)

In an interview with three experts, writer Kasandra Brabaw aims to broaden contemporary conversations on consent. In response to Brabaw’s question—“What do you think is missing in the mainstream conversation about consent right now?”—Bianca Laureano, Foundress of Women Of Color Sexual Health Network, says, “People always put consent in a sexual scenario, which is great, because it needs to be there. But it also needs to be in every other aspect of our lives: when we go to the doctor, when we're out in the world, when we're at school, when we're at home. Every human has the right to make decisions about what happens to their body, no matter if they're having sex or having a breast exam. And a lot of people don't always put those two concepts and realities into conversation with each other.” Read more.


(Xavier Schipani)

Amateur: Who Gets to Call Themselves Nonbinary? (them.)

“Who gets to decide how we identify?” It is a complicated question within a wide range of contexts, yet Thomas Page McGee offers a potential answer in the specific context of gender identity. McBee writes, “Identities are cultural constructs, and as shitty as it is, some of them have more power than others. Gender is also a deeply innate experience of having a body. I came to terms with that paradox a long time ago, just like I realized that some pronouns couldn’t hold me, while others required me to stretch their boundaries to make room. Testosterone wasn’t a magical solution for me. It certainly didn’t make me suddenly visible in all my complication. What it did do was make me happier in my body, even as it erased some of its nuance. It was a trade I made willingly. That didn’t make it any easier. The most useful thing I’ve ever done for myself as a trans man is to look around and see that most people I admire, of all backgrounds, spend much of their lives figuring out both how to create greater equality while also sorting out how to be themselves in the face of monolithic and problematic expectations of who they are supposed to be. It is not a uniquely trans experience to want to live a free and fulfilling life within the human family without compromising authenticity.” Read more.


(Estrogin/Creative Commons)

What’s at stake for LGBTQ rights in Massachusetts (Washington Blade)

While Massachusetts is a “blue state,” and 2018 may bring a “blue wave” across the country, LGBTQ+ rights are not guaranteed. If the state’s non-discrimination law is repealed in November, LGBTQ+ communities may lose vital protections. Kasey Suffredini writes, “On Nov. 6, the LGBTQ movement will face one of the single biggest threats to equality in recent memory. Anti-transgender activists in Massachusetts have secured the country’s first statewide popular vote on an LGBTQ nondiscrimination law. The legislation passed with a bipartisan supermajority in 2016 and was signed into law by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, providing protections for transgender people from discrimination in public places like restaurants, stores and hospitals. The activists seeking repeal of this law have publicly stated that, if successful, they will seek to roll back nondiscrimination protections for the entire LGBTQ community in states nationwide. The outcome of this vote could fuel our opponents’ attacks for years to come, and the national stakes for our community could not be higher.” Read more.


(Brian Stauffer)

The Militant Wing of the Anti-Abortion Movement Is Back—And It’s Never Been Closer to Victory (Mother Jones Magazine)

Monica Migliorino Miller, “a lifelong anti-abortion radical” came of age during the anti-abortion movement’s backlash against Roe v. Wade. Today, Miller is 65 years old, and yet again is involved in a time of an increasingly militant anti-abortion movement. Nina Liss-Schultz, a reporter for Mother Jones Magazine, interviews Miller, investigating the tactics of the anti-abortion movement over time, and debating what the Trump presidency means for “pro-life rescuers.” Liss-Schultz writes, “Before marching into the women’s health clinic in West Bloomfield Township, Michigan, on a freezing day last December, Monica Migliorino Miller and her compatriots paused to ask God to soften the hearts of the women inside to be open to their message. When Miller came through the entrance, the abortion clinic’s staff asked her to leave. Miller pushed past the receptionist, entered the waiting room, and began handing the clinic’s clients red roses with tags promising to help each woman ‘rediscover her own and her baby’s unique dignity.’” Read more.


(Jae C. Hong/Alternative Press)

Abusive media moguls harmed more than just individual women. They shaped a misogynistic culture. (The Washington Post)

On September 12, CBS employees Jericka Duncan and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason came forth with similar (albeit different) stories of abuse at the hands of misogynistic male superiors. Margaret Sullivan covers their stories within the context of the #MeToo movement, writing on how interpersonal harm is not just experienced by individuals, but rather harm is a product of misogynistic culture. Sullivan writes, “Neither Duncan nor Bloodworth-Thomason have said they were victims of sexual harassment at CBS. But they certainly were mistreated. And these two moments offer a hint of how widespread the damage of a misogynistic culture can be—with the harm extending well beyond the primary victims whose careers, in some cases, were irrevocably derailed. Such a culture spreads far and wide, reaching its tentacles into the society at large, influencing even such monumentally consequential things as who occupies the Oval Office and appoints the Supreme Court justices. [...] It’s impossible to know how different America would be if power-happy and misogynistic men hadn’t been running the show in so many influential media organizations—certainly not just CBS.” Read more.

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