Bi-Weekly Sexual Freedom Newsletter

Wednesday September 3rd, 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.

  • A first-hand account of what it’s like to be a mixed-race, queer, feminist farmer;
  • Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s courage to come forward about her sexual assault;
  • The protests spreading across Europe following the murder of a trans sex worker;
  • Belief vs. proof, and how to respond when someone tells you they’ve been assaulted;
  • Consent, communication, and comprehensive sex education;
  • Finding a queer community, and identity, online;
  • ​Photos from the March for Black Women.

We also wanted to update you on the status of our lawsuit against FOSTA. On September 24th, a federal court sided with the government and dismissed our case. They argued that the plaintiffs, led by Woodhull, had no standing to challenge the law’s legality. Woodhull and our fellow plaintiffs are considering our next move, but we can tell you, Woodhull is in this for the long haul.


(Annie Martin for Good Eggs)

What It’s Like to Be a Mixed-Race, Queer, Feminist Farmer (Bon Appetit)

Nikiko Masumoto, a fourth-generation Japanese-American and daughter of a pioneer of organic farming, shares her experience as a queer, feminist farmer. Blending the history of Japanese Americans in agriculture with an academic interest in women and gender studies, Masumoto explores how she hopes to change the industry. Masumoto shares an understanding of the intersectional complexities within her work, “After spending so much time thinking about power dynamics and how to make the world a better place to live in, I knew had to go back to the farm. For the first time, I saw our Japanese American family farm as not just my home but as an incredibly powerful act of resistance. I realized how courageous it was for my grandfather to put down roots in a country that did not want him. I understood my father’s early commitment to organic as rebellion in the face of profit-driven agriculture. I thought about how change happens.” Read More.


(Win McNamee via Getty Images)

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford Is An American Hero (Huffington Post)

On Thursday September 27th, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford sat in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee (and the nation) under oath and detailed the trauma she’s experienced at the hands of Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. In her Huffington Post article, Jessica Luther places Dr. Ford’s bravery among other women who have risked so much to speak out against injustice. Luther writes, “and Blasey’s courage will have long-lasting effects. We know this because we’ve seen it before when courageous women faced overwhelming criticism and doubt. Like Dr. Anita Hill, who in 1991 also went before the Senate Judiciary Committee and told the world, in detail, that Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her [...] The public and the press didn’t look upon Hill at the time as being a hero. She was called a nuisance. She was called a political ploy (as Blasey has been). But now we remember her as the woman in the vanguard who made way for Blasey. And before Hill, there were many women who stood up to power and Blasey now joins their ranks as well.”  Read more.


(Image of Vanesa Campos provided by STRASS)

A Migrant Trans Sex Worker's Murder Has Set Off Protests Around the World (Broadly)

In August, Vanesa Campo, a migrant trans sex worker was fatally shot in Paris, sparking protests across the world. While five men have been charged in her murder, activists are calling for more widespread change to keep women and sex workers like Campos safe. Frankie Mullins explores the relationship between sex work legislation and social stigma. Mullins writes “...the new legislation has forced sex workers into a double bind. They must protect clients from the police and from criminals who know that clients are now easy targets, given that they can’t report crimes committed as they were committing the crime of selling sex themselves. Sex workers must find ways to stay safe while evading the attention of the authorities.” Demonstrations for justice have been held in Paris and across French embassies organized by TGEU, the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE), French sex worker union STRASS, and Acceptess Transgenres. Read more.


Belief and Proof (Elizabeth Anne Wood, Ph.D)

In the days since the testimonies of Dr. Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh in front of the U. S. Senate Judiciary Committee there has been a lot of talk about whether she can prove her allegations or not. There's also been an ongoing discussion about the importance of believing survivors of assault. Elizabeth Anne Wood, Woodhull's Senior Strategist, helps us sort out the difference between belief and proof, and the standards we apply to each: "There is an #ibelieve reflex that some criticize because, they say, it bypasses standards of evidence and the rule of law. They are confusing two different processes. Standards of evidence and the rule of law apply in situations where a claim is made and a court is asked to determine a set of facts and an outcome. Interpersonal relationships depend on day to day decisions about how to assess what is true and what to believe about what people tell us. We don’t apply courtroom standards of evidence in these cases. We apply our own standards. We measure what we’re told against what we already know. We weigh it against our own experiences of the circumstances or people involved. We ask whether it seems to fit the facts as we understand them. We do this all the time, and not just when someone comes to us and says, ‘I’ve been assaulted.’" Read more.


(Jaclyn Friedman)

This Is Why Good Sex Education Is So Important (WBUR)

Jaclyn Friedman, host of the podcast UnScrewed, comments on how comprehensive sex education can help to change the culture surrounding sexual assault and toxic masculinity. In her radio clip from WBUR, Friedman argues for sex education that centers communication, consent, and accountability. In doing so, we will not only help heal from previous abuses, but help to prevent future ones. She concludes, “Here’s the thing: Sex education is not about teaching boys that rape is bad. They know that already. It’s about building a new culture with new norms – one that’s a whole lot less tolerant of sexual violence.” Read more.



How the Internet Helped Me Embrace My Queer Identity (them.)

For many queer youth, the internet has become a site of exploration and community. Jon Shadel’s story of how the world wide web allowed him to explore his identity, desires, and burning questions. Shadel’s story resonates with many isolated young people. As Shadel writes, “Like so many deeply closeted kids stuck in middle-of-nowhere America, I felt desperately alone.’” Logging onto search engines and chat rooms afforded him the freedom to talk to those like him, “Alone in my room, “America’s #1 choice for satellite Internet” showed me that I, too, had the permission to fall in love. That’s why when I pass a rusty satellite dish in some stranger’s backyard, I see the beauty of queer worlds opening up.” Read more.



Powerful Photos From The ‘March For Black Women’ Rally (NewsOne)

On September 29th, the March for Black Women took over the National Mall in DC. Organized by Black Women’s Blueprint, the DC Rape Crisis Center, Marsha P. Johnson Institute and the National Economic & Social Rights Initiative, the march invited activists to march in support of black women’s basic rights. The list of demands includes:

- Full reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act set to expire on September 30, 2018.

- Political hopefuls focus on intersectional women's rights concerns like poverty, affordable housing, reproductive rights, immigration protections and center the most vulnerable.

- Remove the gag order on advocacy and prevention focused agencies forbidding the use of the words: transgender, fetus, vulnerable, science-based, evidence-based, diversity, and entitlement.

Weren’t able to be at the March? NewsOne has compiled a selection of inspiring photos from this past weekend. Read more.

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