Anastasia Person

What is Family?

(Tabién en español)

A particularly important idea that really answers the question, “What is family?” is that a family is what we make it.

Yes, the nuclear family with a mother, father, and two children may sill be considered the norm, but in reality, non-traditional families are a rising majority. a subject that I began to learn more about during a few of the panels at Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit. Speakers such as Diana Adams and Anita Wagner Illig explained to their audience that there are many other groups that can be considered family, even if their family format is not exactly mainstream: a single mother and her children; a lesbian couple, a sperm donor who wishes to take an active role in the child’s life, and the child; a gay couple, their child, and a surrogate mother; one parent, a child, and grandparents; and, polyamorous groups such as a married couple and their other partners. These may not be the individuals that people normally associate first with the word “family,” but that doesn’t make their love and devotion for each other any less real. They are all important example of what a family really is.

Creative Commons: Gay Ray

Creative Commons: Gay Ray

Fortunately, a wider view of family is starting to become more common throughout society. LGBT and polyamorous groups are now able to adopt children and California has even proposed a bill that could allow for the possibility of legally recognizing 3-parent families. Though the term “family” was undefined, UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 16) gave us the right to family since 1948, which doesn’t itself define what a family is.

Article 16.

  • (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
  • (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
  • (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State

(The Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

It is a fairly recent development that this idea has reached beyond that of the nuclear family, which, again, no longer describes the majority of families in this country. Now that this definition gives LGBT families legal recognition, there is hope that in the future, we will be able to share this same right freely with all non-traditional families.

Creative Commons: Eric Ward

Editor’s Note: On September 22, 2012, at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit, Woodhull’s Executive Director Ricci Levy announced the official launch of it’s newest campaign, The Family Matters Project, “Woodhull recognizes the diversity of family in the United States and our goal is to protect our fundamental human right to family by eliminating discrimination based on family structure and relationship choices.” Summit attendees were among the first to contribute by filling out cards describing why family means to them that will appear as part of this national campaign.. 

Sexual Freedom Isn’t Acceptable For Women?

Kai Davis takes a daring stand in this video when she challenges the misogynistic view that many member of today’s society hold. She brings up the important point that innocence and virginity are revered in women, but as soon as women take charge of her sexuality and tries to enjoy her sexual freedom, she is looked down on and considered a “whore.”

Though I agree with Davis’s overall point that sexual freedom is not always something that is given equally to women, the way that she presents some of her ideas can be a little extreme. I disagree that that it is all the fault of men that it is considered unacceptable for women to enjoy their sexual freedom; women judge other women for sleeping around just as harshly, if not more so, than men do. This is not just a problem that stems from the male population, but from society itself! I propose that if women want to have their sexual freedom accepted, they accept the sexual freedom of other women and stop blaming only men for looking down on their sexual choices.

Creative Commons: Kurt Löwenstein Educational Center International Team

Rape Victim Faces Criminal Charges for Tweeting Names of Attackers

Creative Commons: Matthais M.

No matter how you look at it, there’s something wrong when a rape victim is threatened with fines and jail time for speaking out about her horrible experience. Not only had Savannah Dietrich  endured the hardship brought upon her by attackers, but she now faces a $500 fine and up to 6 months in jail. She showed great courage in breaking her silence but she violated a court order that demanded she not speak out.

A brave and defiant Savannah Dietrich explained her outrage, “So many of my rights have been taken away by these boys. I’m at the point, that if I have to go to jail for my rights, I will do it. If they really feel it’s necessary to throw me in jail for talking about what happened to me as opposed to throwing these boys in jail for what they did to me, then I don’t understand justice.” (

Not only is this indignation completely called for, but it also brings about a vital government responsibility to both Dietrich and all people who are victims of any crime: the justice system should be there to protect us. In this case, however, that is clearly not happening. Not only is Dietrich’s free speech being violated, the court order doesn’t help her recover by speaking out which further victimizes her, only helping her attackers by keeping their names out of the public view. Something is seriously wrong when our courts are helping those who perpetrate violent sex crimes to keep their names clear, even in a juvenile court.

Email Mistake Reveals Why MA Catholic Diocese Unwilling to Sell Property to Gay Couple

Creative Commons: Pauljoffe

“I just went down the hall and discussed it with the bishop,” Sullivan wrote to the broker, according to the Telegram. “Because of the potentiality of gay marriages there, something you shared with us yesterday, we are not interested in going forward with these buyers. I think they’re shaky anyway. So, just tell them that we will not accept their revised plan and the Diocese is making new plans for the property. You find the language.” (

This damning excerpt was taken directly from an email Monsignor Thomas Sullivan sent to his diocese’s real estate broker. Unintentionally, she passed it on to her clients, the gay couple James Fairbanks and Alain Beret, revealing why it was that the diocese had been so intent on denying the two the possibility of actually purchasing the property. Somehow the unconnected ideas of gay marriage and these customers being “shaky” have been forged into a link that apparently justifies discrimination.

Though I recognize that discrimination over sexual preferences still exists, I am still surprised to see something like this occurring in Massachusetts, as Boston is ranked one of the top 10 most LGBT friendly cities in the country. This extremely liberal state generally allows for freedom and equality even as far as allowing same-sex couples to be married. Though not everyone is going to have the same opinion as the majority, the main reason that this seems to fit is its relation to the Catholic church.

I’ve heard enough about the Catholic church’s tendency to oppose most anything LGBT, but this situation is unusual even in that context. Preaching that acting on homosexuality is a sin is one thing, but to exclude a community based on this idea is another thing altogether. Freedom of speech is a right that they have, whether they say something that we agree with or not, but choosing not to sell to a client due to sexual orientation is illegal in Massachusetts (and should be everywhere else). How can something like this still be an issue in modern times?

Do We Even Need Gender?

Creative Commons image by: Male-símbolo2

Creative Commons image by: Male-símbolo2

Gender can be a confusing subject for LGBT and straight people alike. Many people often mistake sex and gender to be the same thing, for example, or when a person’s gender doesn’t match the stereotypes associated with his or her sex, the results often include some form or discrimination (though it can be unintentional), verbal challenges or confrontations, and refusal to accept that this person does not want to accept society’s biased demands.


Creative Commons image: Tombe

This disparity stems from a long-standing tradition throughout the world of assigning how an individual should act, dress, etc. based on nothing more than the genitalia assigned at birth. Not only do these gender ideals change throughout time, but they also vary according to location. If what society wants us to be can be so easily changed, we may wonder how we are supposed to live up to its expectations. A simple, yet often overlooked answer is that we shouldn’t.

 The fight against gender stereotypes is timeless. It has lead to the immersion of new gender idea such as transgender, transsexual, and agender. However, there are many more terms than these many people have trouble wrapping their minds around concepts such as a “male lesbian” or a person having no gender. While it is fantastic that people have fought against oppression and created a new system of self-expression, in some ways, this still plays off of the original system. This is not to say that these people are wrong to assign their own gender; however, it is interesting to think about the concept that this new system would not be necessary if the concept of gender were wiped away entirely.

Although his may seem like a radical idea, but there are still flaws in the current system. A main flaw is that a majority of people tend to think in terms of gender binaries: male or female. This generally leads people to conclude that a person will overall act in a way that fulfills a most, if not all, aspects of a male or female idea. However, there are many people who cannot easily be placed into either category. Their response is often part of the newer system that involves creating one’s own gender identity. Even so, there are people who feel distanced from the terminology that has evolved from this movement. They may not understand what some of the terms mean, or even feel like they can fit into any of these categories, despite there being a seemingly infinite range. Others have no interest in categorizing themselves.

Drawing off of this last group of people, if we were to drop all names for gender, the possibility could exist that people would have the freedom to be who they want to be without worrying about a gender label. People would be able to act in a way that was previously perceived as the way a person of the “opposite gender” would act and not be believed to be homosexual for simply being themselves. This possibility opens the door to question what would happen if we no longer held the belief that gender is a vital part of humanity. What would happen if we all just let it go?

Public Opinion: Lesbians vs. Gays

También en español Conversing recently with a friend, the topic of lesbianism came to our attention. Upon the mere mention of girls kissing girls, his instant reaction was, “That’s so hot!” even though one of the young women in this case was treating the other abusively. When I pointed out the contradiction, his reply was, “I mean, that sucks, but c’mon! Seeing girls making out is still pretty hot.”

Sadly, this reaction is all too common when people talk about women who partner with women, though rarely to this extent. However, it does drive home the point that society generally sanctions lesbianism for no other reason than it is between two women. While it may be great that people have accepted this so willingly, it is often for the wrong reasons. Simply seeing girls as “hot” ignores any other factors, including the one in the scenario above.

There is one catch to this unquestioning approval of lesbianism: it does not apply to all same-sex couples. The public opinion is more discriminatory toward male couples. The same people who loudly praise the merits of female couples often openly condemn their male counterparts. To make this even more contradictory, they take this negative viewpoint for the same reason that they take their positive viewpoint with the women: men together versus women together. Women can love women because that’s “hot,” but the same principle does not apply  for men  who love men.

Why does society find it appropriate to laud same-sex coupling when it is between women, but condemn it when between men?

Creative Commons image by: Marco Gomes

Sexual Freedom Concerns Heterosexuals, Too!

(También en Español)

While many people on the street may assume that anything referring to “sexual freedom” would be most likely to focus primarily, if not entirely, on the LGBT community, this is incorrect.

In fact, sexual freedom belongs to everyone!

With so many societal regulations in place over who can have sexual contact with whom, what acts they practice, or when someone is “sleeping around” too much, this is just as much of an issue for heterosexuals as it is for any member of the LGBT community.  For example, BDSM is generally looked down upon by members of the public-at-large, but many people who have gotten involved in this sort of fetishism thoroughly enjoy it, and many of them are heterosexuals.

Shouldn’t everyone be able to practice their sexual desires the way that they want to, instead of how society tells us to? It’s only being free to be who you really are.