What Do Sex and Gender have to do with Net Neutrality and Climate Change?

Garry Knight Climate March in London September 21, 2014 Flickr/creative commons

Garry Knight
Climate March in London
September 21, 2014
Flickr/creative commons

I have often been asked why VenusPlusX, and its mission to help bring about to the coming New Age of Sexual Freedom, has been so concerned in the last couple of years with the two issues of Climate Change and Net Neutrality. Some of my friends asked me to explain what these issues have to do sex, after all.

Dan and I set out to help change the world. Maybe you did or will, also. Each of us can envision a better future world, free from racism, poverty, and militarism and the constant interference by the overreach of governments and religious hierarchies and the greedy exploitation by corporate elitists. We chose the New Age of Sexual Freedom to connote that lofty goal, the day when respect for personal autonomy and bodily integrity will at last realized. That future we are co-envisioning is real: what is old and useless will be gone; what was old but useful will persist because it has value; and, new and humane ways of doing things emerge to replace all of the inhumane and coercive systems that enslave all of us but a few.

The work of rescuing civilization from those who would corrupt it proceeds by setting priorities. A long time ago, I appealed to my fellow social and economic justice activists to reserve at lease some of their time to advocate for a strong worldwide response to climate change. But will that be enough?

Climate change deniers like to call themselves climate change skeptics to make you think they are capable of absorbing new information when they have made themselves mentally unable to do that. These annoying deniers are trying to get in the way of taking immediate and historic action. The number of deniers in power to interfere may be high or low but that doesn’t change the fact that the effects of climate change are already upon us, and the urgency is increasing expodentially.

The ravages of climate change and our ability through a free and open Internet to respond to this crisis, are inexorably linked. Climate change is not just threatening our very existence, the very ground on which you now stand, it is rising quickly with some dramatic outcomes (mass migrations, violent weather, rising sea levels and salinization destroying water sources, etc.). When will these outcomes get the attention of those  going through each day blissfully unaware of this world emergency? When will these outcomes directly affect you and your family? Or have they already?

Improvement in all other areas of social and economic justice will depend on our success in responding to climate change, starting with fostering new ways of getting energy without using fossil fuels. In short, we need the Internet to accomplish everything.

You can see more about Net Neutrality and Climate Change, here and here. Also, here is a good summary of the issues, just out today.

BREAKING: According to tonight’s Wall Street Journal, the Federal Trade Commission that protects and regulates utilities like the Internet seem poised to do the right thing. We may be able to celebrate a huge victory after fighting so hard for Net Neutrality.

The Federal Communications Commission is about to fundamentally change the way it oversees high-speed Internet service, proposing to regulate it as a public utility.

Chairman Tom Wheeler is reaching for a significant expansion of the agency’s authority to regulate broadband providers, according to multiple people familiar with the matter.

The move would fully embrace the principle known as net neutrality, and if enacted, would bring a new definition to the economics of the Internet industry: Rather than regulating broadband firms lightly, as has been its practice so far, the FCC would treat them like telecommunications companies and subject them to more intrusive regulation, especially in areas relating to how they manage traffic on their networks.

A central element would be a ban on broadband providers blocking, slowing down or speeding up specific websites in exchange for payment, these people say. Supporters of the FCC’s position say allowing some websites to pay for faster access to consumers would put startups and smaller companies at a disadvantage.

The proposal, expected to be unveiled by the FCC on Thursday, is a victory for a host of Silicon Valley firms and liberal activists who have championed it. Many of these companies lobbied the White House seeking such an outcome, and were rewarded in November when President Barack Obama announced his support for “the strongest possible” rules for net neutrality, the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally.

If we have the Internet and the ability to communicate rapidly across all sectors in the world, we will have a fighting chance in meeting the tremendous security challenges presented by climate change, and change the world in the process.



The Sexual Freedom Project: Do your own research

The level of sex education in America’s schools is impartial at best and at its worst calls for abstinence. What has been your experience?

Many people believe that the responsibility for sex education lies with your parents. How has the worked for you?

The bottom line makes you responsible for your own sex ed, researching those aspects that teachers, parents, and even your peers left out. There are plenty of good sources of sex ed on the Internet (and in your local library), including sites especially for teens such as teen source, Scarleteen, and sexetc, so you don’t need to be left in the dark.

What have you done to complete your sex education?

If you believe is sexual freedom, then sex ed is an important tool for you.

Make a video, write a poem, song, or an essay — or even create an original work of art — and express your thoughts. If we feature your contribution on the site, we will send you a free VenusPlusX t-shirt to thank you.

More videos.

Yes, It’s True: Gay is Good

Study: Children Raised by Same-Sex Couples Healthier and Happier

Photo by Beth Lofgren Flickr/creative commons

Photo by Beth Lofgren
Flickr/creative commons

Our children are now 28 and 32 after being raised in what we originally called a post-gender family, in keeping with our world view that post-genderism is part of everyone’s future.

As their parents, Dan and I may have appeared to them, and most of the world at large, as a “straight” couple, but we both considered ourselves true androgyneswishing since our youth to encompass everything available to males, females, and everything in between. It’s why we fell in love and stayed in love, and eventually founded VenusPlusX to usher in what we call A New Age of Sexual Freedom.

While they were growing up, Dan and I consciously overrode any social constructs that might be limiting to our children’s own self-expression, encouraging them to find their own path, what felt right to them. We let them make their own decisions at family meetings, and left to their own devices, they always (or almost always) chose a path of their own that we agreed with. We didn’t have to superimpose our views over their own minds, something too many parents do when they view their children as extensions of themselves rather than distinctly sovereign in their own right. We never asserted parental power, and instead put ourselves as their equal, asserting that it is the power of Love that is greater than all of us. We didn’t do everything right but we always strived to and this kept our attitude pointed in the right direction.

They turned out great, both now in meaningful relationships, each seeking what Dan and I shared, true love. They are the most wise people I know.

Still yet another longitudinal study has come along, this time from Australia, that seems to surprise many people in showing that children growing up with same-sex parents have just as much and by some measure more happiness, self-confidence, and family cohesion, and better health and school performance.

As queer parents are simultaneously finding their own way in a world currently filled with discrimination, they are more humble about their roles as parents, and this helps children discover their role on their own. Opposite sex parents who see themselves as the ultimate authority over their children’s’ lives, should take note, and start aspiring to see themselves similarly, as trustees in service for their children’s safe and healthy passage into adulthood.


The Sexual Freedom Project: Gender Definition

Do you think that gender is a social construct to support the binary point of view? As gender lines blur, will binary objectification fade?

Leave a comment and let us know what you think, or make your own video or blog to share. We will send you a free VenusPlusX t-shirt or slap bracelet to thank you.

Video by Tiye Massey.

Half-Drag Photos Spark International Conversation on Sexual Identity

Leland Bobbé  is a New York photographer who has found himself at the center of attention in the Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, and Bisexual (LGBT) community. His amazing  Half Drag  photos are split down the middle with one side showing a man without makeup and sometimes even with a beard. The other side shows the same man in full drag including makeup, hair, and jewelry, taking viewers instantly into the juxtaposition.

We wanted to know more about how the photos came about. Were they just photo-shopped or were two different photos pieced together? No, says Bobbé, “they were all done with one shot,” which means that the makeup is done that precisely.

Perhaps no one is more surprised at the popularity of Half Drag series than Bobbé himself. “I never expected this to go viral in the way it has. It has taken off beyond my expectations,” although they were meant to provide a provocative social commentary on gender identity, normative ideas about gender roles, and the traditional male/ female paradigm.

The importance of his work reaches beyond the LGBT community — it has had an impact on many people’s understanding of sexual orientation and gender expression. Straight men and women are caught by surprise at the work. The transition from drag to man is severe, yet beautiful. It apparently makes people question their own concept of gender, sparking an  international conversation on the subject.

Madame Rosebud Neo Burlesque

His portrait series of burlesque artists had a showing at New York’s Museum of Sex. These photos are more than just portraits, they strip away the glitz and glamour of the stage — leaving only the true human condition. Portraits such as Madame Renee Rosewood put a face to popular fantasies such as S&M. “I shot these portraits from 2009 – 2011, as classic portraits so they would look very real and honest, not posed and glitzy like most of the burlesque performer portraits I’ve seen,” said Bobbé.

When asked where he finds the amazing people who are the subjects of his work, he said, “Sometimes I find people on the streets, in stores, Facebook, anywhere I see someone that looks interesting. For my Half-Drag project I found most of my subjects through Facebook.” He finds inspiration in classic music and movies and lists  the Beatles, Pretenders, Ramones and The Godfather movies as his favorites. “I like them all for different reasons but they all contribute to my attitude and state of mind.” If he could photograph anyone, dead or alive, it would be John Lennon.

Vivienne Pinay Half Drag portrait

So what is his next project? “I m working on a project called New York City Wall Art. These shots are of New York city walls with layers of peeled posters that when isolated become very interesting to look at.”

The Sexual Freedom Project: Social or personal gender?

(También en Español)

How do you separate the socially imposed gender binary from what you feel inside and define about gender?

How will the right to any form of gender expression be freed from the restraints applied by society?

Leave a comment and let us know what you think, or make your own video or blog to share. We will send you a free VenusPlusX t-shirt or slap bracelet to thank you.

Video edited by Tiye Massey.

The Sexual Freedom Project: Sex and Gender

(También en Español)
The following essay was submitted to us by Jamor:

Many people often view sex as scientific, or fact: babies are born male or female, and they behave as men or women. I view sex as the core of deeply rooted systems of oppression all over the world. I say this because sex is so closely connected to gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation, and even class. A key intersection point among all of these cultural identifiers is sex and the binary most people operate under. We have been told that those born outside of the male-female binary are somehow inferior, or alternative. And we have been told that those who do not perform their gender, making it align with the “correct” sex, are confused. Women have limited control of their own bodies in some places in the world. Our sex is at the core of our identity. Freedom to express one’s sexual identity, whatever that may mean for an individual, is so important because if we can free each other at the core, other forms of oppression will fall as well.

Let us know what you think. Make a video, write a poem, song, or an essay — or even create an original work of art — and express your thoughts on these topics. If we feature your contribution on the site, we will send you a free VenusPlusX t-shirt to thank you.

Image by Crimsone, used with permission.

The Sexual Freedom Project: It Doesn’t Have To Be A Rigid Thing

(También en Español)

Basking in a park, this young woman shares her ideas about the differences between gender and sex, and how sexual freedom can vary in different environments. She says gender as a continuum, with extremes and many ambiguities in between.

How does locale affect the experience of sexual freedom? What do you think about a continuum for gender as a new way of thinking beyond the binary?

We want to hear what you’re thinking. Send us a video, write us an essay, put your thoughts in a poem, song, or piece of art. To thank you for participating we’ll send you one of our fabulous VenusPlusX t-shirts.

Video by Tiye Massey.

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?

The Sexual Freedom Project: Meaningless Language

(También en Español)

Can legislators be educated? Many have no personal experience with transgender and gender non-conforming folks, and the language they use, even when trying to pass bills to end discrimination, inevitably focus only on dress and appearance rather than the reality of discrimination in jobs, housing, and access to healthcare, for example.

Are you involved in policy and political work (or think you would like to) and able to share your knowledge and experiences with us?

If we feature your contribution (your video, poem, essay, short blog, etc.) we will send you a free VenusPlusX t-shirt to thank you.

Video by Tiye Massey.