marriage equality

The Way We “Talk the Talk” Controls the Way We “Walk the Walk” Part 1

(También en español)

“Sexual freedom expands or contracts within political, social, economic, cultural, and psychological contexts–some of them contradictory, some of them mutually reinforcing.” Marty Klein, Ph.D.

This is where the narratives of sexuality come into play: a “narrative” is a coherent storyline that contains a set of assumptions that enables people to make meaning out of raw fact.

For example, take the fact that there are 1 million abortions in American every year. Now, some people will argue that this fact as evidence of moral weakness and sexual promiscuity, while others interpret this fact as reflecting poor contraception use and a culture that discourages sexual planning. So basically, the way we talk and tell stories about sexual facts influences our perceptions about sex and the meaning we give to facts.

Marty Klein, psychologist and author of “America’s War on Sex,” which is outlined in the State of Sexual Freedom Report, produced by the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance (Woodhull). Klein states that there are six key narratives of sexuality that support the restriction of sexual rights and freedom by controlling the way we “walk the walk” when it comes to sex.

It is important to remember that the societal narratives and stories we tell about sexuality are not facts, but only meanings attached to the facts. It is our duty to decipher these negative narratives as to combat their control over sexual rights and freedoms.

First is the narrative “sex is dangerous.” When sex is discussed in American society, it is typically through negative topics such as unwanted pregnancy, sexual violence, sexual dysfunction, and STDs/HIV. This focus on the risks of sexual activity leaves little room for discussions about its benefits, advantages, or pleasures: a practice that is also pervasive in abstinence-only education.

However, when people only focus on the negatives of sex, they either become sex-phobic or are ill-prepared when they find themselves in a sexual situation.

A second  narrative is the “government should protect us from sexual danger,” including sexual violence, perceived sexual abnormality, and the evidence of others’ sexuality. This narrative puts demands on the government to criminalize various sexual behaviors, restrict sexual commerce, and control sexual expression in mass media. Building off of this is the third narrative, “certain people aren’t sexually normal, and certain kinds of sex aren’t normal; society needs to be protected from both.” Examples of both these narratives are evident in the debate about marriage equality, the fight for LGBTQ rights, and in the SlutWalk movement.

To read about three more narratives of sexuality and their impact on teen sexuality and sex education in America, please read Part 2.

If you want to find out more about the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance and their views on sexual rights/freedom and other key issues of sexual freedom, such as sex work and reproductive justice, you can attend Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit in September.  Also, you can attend Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit (September 21-23), where Alison Gardner and Dan Massey, VenusPlusX’s founders who work closely throughout the year with Woodhull as members of its Advisory Council, will be presenting their workshop session, “Sacred Sexuality and Erotic Communion, the Human Experience.”

“If there were only 11 people in the world”: Narratives of sexuality reveals that, even with the progressive movement for LGBTQ rights, Americans at large still see certain sexualities as “normal” (heterosexuality) while all others are “abnormal” (homosexuality).

Creative Commons Image Provided by: AJC1

Creative Commons Image Edited by: Alifa Watkins
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Human Rights Day 2011 – Part I

Today is Human Rights Day 2011. To mark the occasion, this video is from Navanethem Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted by a committee chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, and was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948.

This Declaration contains a number of Articles that directly relate to sexual freedom, and that apply to issues around human trafficking, marriage equality, and being lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans (LGBT). There is a prohibition of the slave trade in Article 4 that directly relates to human trafficking, when it states “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” Regarding marriage equality (also known as “gay marriage,” a term that does not adequately describe the issue), Article 16, Section 1 says, “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.” Clearly, the United States is in violation of this article, as are most countries around the world.

Whether we point to the right-wing religious zealots (such as “The Family”), including American congressmen, who are helping to pass laws that would imprison for life or execute LGBT citizens in Uganda and other countries, or to the police who harass and unfairly prosecute trans people here in America, our world is filled with rampant violations of Article 7, which states unequivocally “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.”

What does the concept of “human rights” mean to you? Do you believe that sexual freedom is a human right? Does your country respect your human rights, and if not, how could they do better? What role can we play in improving human rights in other countries, including those relating to sexual freedom? How can we ensure that sexual freedom is considered and included as a priority in discussions about human rights around the world today? Have you ever felt that your human rights were being denied? If so, how did you feel, and what did you do to respond? What have you personally done to help promote human rights here and/or abroad?

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.

Coming in Part II, on Wednesday: Obama and Clinton’s historic efforts confirming LGBT rights as human rights