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SFS14 Workshop Recap: “Beyond Yes Means Yes: The Law, Activism, and Practice of Consent”

I missed this session at Woodhull SFS because I was in another session, but I was RTing like crazy b/c of all the amazingness @neuronbomb was pushing out. I apparently missed much awesomeness.

[smut & sensibility]

Two-people-talking-logoMissed the Sexual Freedom Summit by @WoodhullSFA this past weekend? Fear not! I’ll be recapping some of the sessions I attended. First up: “Beyond Yes Means Yes: The Law, Activism, and Practice of Consent” by Andy Izenson (@andyeyeballs).

Overall, I want to commend Andy for a wonderful session. He managed to strike a good balance between hilariously personable and serious, all while providing useful information and having us directly practice some of the concepts through engaging activities (AND giving space to not participate for those who hate activities and/or may be triggered by ones specific around consent). I’m a pretty harsh critic when it comes to judging presentations, and I had a lovely time.

While I don’t think everyone left the session with the same delicious taste in their mouth (especially not the cisgender white man who probably felt attacked when he mentioned that a way for people, and…

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Holding Our Heroes Accountable

I’ve struggled a bit with whether and how to post this, but after reading Mona Darling’s post on her reactions to the keynote address at last weekend’s fantabulous CatalystCon (and make no mistake, CatalystCon 2014 WAS fantabulous – quite possibly the best conference I’ve ever attended, and I’ve been attending conferences for more than a decade now), I felt I had to share my reactions as well.

Let me first start by saying, again, that this year’s CatalystCon East was a great conference. From its organizer – Dee Dennis – to the speakers, to workshop presentations, to the swag bag (huzzah for the Aneros lanyards and StockRoom goodies) to the give-aways (free wevibes for nearly everyone! Best conference EVAR!) to the attendees (the real stars of the conference, in my humble opinion), CatalystCon was simply amazing.

But all of that? That I’m saving for another post. This post is really about what happened at the very end of CatalystCon during the closing keynote between two legends in the sexuality world – Carol Queen and Betty Dodson.

The session opened to an enraptured audience – how could we not be, when faced with two such amazing women? The interview, of sorts, started out wonderfully: a witty repartee that had the packed room laughing uproariously, applauding, and gasping, in turns.

Things started to take a turn for the worse when Betty talked about her experiences in the 1960s:

At that point, the temperature change in the room was palpable.  A few attendees even got up and left.

And Twitter was abuzz with commentary.

Others who have written about the keynote have seemed to hint that this is the point that those of use who were left feeling disturbed by the last hour or so of the talk are most upset by. Though many were upset by this discussion, that’s not the focus of this post. It was not the discussion of bestiality that had me (and several others) the most upset during the keynote. It was the way in which the idea of consent was trivialized.

Towards the end of the keynote, both Carol Queen and Betty Dodson stood together on the podium, and Carol quipped that Betty was grabbing her ass. A statement was then made to the effect that, “She [Betty] will probably grab your ass, too. If she does, just tell her to stop.”

At this point, I think a few of us in the room began tweeting questioning comments about consent. Because, no, that’s now how consent works. No one should get to touch my body unless I tell them to. Isn’t that what we’ve been fighting against? The idea that silence equals consent? Isn’t what we’ve been fighting for all along ENTHUSIASTIC consent, meaning NO ONE gets to touch my body unless (and UNTIL) I say yes?

What came next was even more problematic. Betty Dodson then piped up with something along the lines of, “If they don’t want me to grab their ass, they should just stay seated.”

NO. Just no.  Again, that’s not how consent works. Ever. And at least one twitter user pointed that out:

At this point, I know I was feeling a little uneasy about the conversation, and I know several others were, as well.  I think it was also at this point that my tweeting frequency drastically slowed.

What came next, however, was even worse. At the very end of the keynote, Carol Queen stood once again to reassure all of us that Betty Dodson really DID understand consent. And had she stopped there, somehow I think this could have all been forgotten as a simple slip of the tongue, as a joke between two old friends. It’s what came next that had me doing triage care in the lounge for someone who was panicking after being triggered by the discussion of nonconsensual touching. Carol Queen stood on stage and scolded the audience for being upset at the flippant comments about consent by lecturing us about Betty Dodson being a trailblazer, about her being in this river before any of us, insinuating that her history with the movement excused her comments about consent, that they gave her a free pass. This was a flagrant abuse of the power dynamics between the older, more experienced generation in the movement and those newer to the movement, something that I had hoped someone who had just given a workshop on consent earlier in the day would have recognized.

It was that, dear readers, that had me holding a fellow CatalystCon attendee as they shook with tears. They had felt they were in a safe space, and that safe space had just been torn apart by those words.

I know some of the responses on twitter and in blogs don’t want to acknowledge that people were hurt by the dismissive (and sometimes hostile) discussion of nonconsensual touching, but please know that people were. I know they were, because I was there helping them. I know that they were because I was one of those people.

I’ve had people tell me since Catalyst that we can’t put our heroes on a pedestal, hinting that we should accept them unconditionally, faults and all. And they’re right – we shouldn’t place our heroes on pedestals. And that’s precisely why it’s appropriate for us to expect the same from our heroes as we would from any of us. I can (and do) respect Betty Dodson and Carol Queen for the absolutely amazing work they have done (and continue to do) for this movement. But that doesn’t mean that they should be given a free pass. When our heroes do or say something that is wrong, we should hold them accountable for their words and actions the same as we would hold anyone else accountable.

And I do feel as if Carol Queen and Betty Dodson need to be held accountable for their comments about nonconsensual touching during the closing keynote. The best way for this to happen would have been through a robust Q&A dialogue immediately following the session where those who were uncomfortable with the statements could have raised our concerns and hopefully a resolution could have been reached with everyone in attendance.

Unfortunately, this didn’t happen. Whether it was due to time constraints, or people being unwilling / unable to raise their concerns (for whatever reason) in public at the plenary,* or because people had left the plenary early due to their response to other comments, negative reactions were not raised during the brief Q&A session. Instead, a few people took to Twitter, a few to blog posts, and many more to private conversations to discuss their discomfort with what had happened. What had started as a fantastic closing keynote to a fantastic conference ended on a very sour note for many.

Barring a more robust Q&A at the conference, I still think that dialogue needs to happen. Because while I have a billion and one great memories from CatalystCon, this is going to stick in my mind as an unresolved issue that will, sadly, mar the event for me. And I think it will for others. Fortunately, the fantastic Dee Dennis has shared that she has audio of the keynote that she plans to make available soon as a means to open up a robust conversation about reactions to what was said. And I’m hopeful that out of that conversation will come a greater discussion about consent, power dynamics, and possibly even about ways to make people who feel deeply troubled by something that occurs at CatalystCon (especially at the very end) feel safe in sharing their concerns on site with the person(s) involved, instead of just on Twitter, or blogs, or in private conversations with others.

Until then, I guess I’m going to try to push that last hour to the back of my mind, and focus instead on the utterly amazing other 71 hours of CatalystCon East.

Till next time,

– H

*I know that I personally didn’t feel comfortable raising my concerns (1) as a first-time attendee at the conference,  (2) because I have fairly severe anxiety disorders, and (3) because I found myself slightly triggered by the comments.

UPDATED: WTF OTD: FB Post Teaches Men How to Rape Children; FB Won’t Remove IT


This piece is part of a daily “What the Fuck of the Day” series here on Antigone Awakens, where I briefly discuss one thing each day that has me seriously saying, WTF?!?!

********TRIGGER WARNING******


Shortly after publishing this post to Twitter and Facebook, I received the following notification from Facebook:

Screen Shot 2013-09-15 at 12.23.38 PM


It looks like Facebook finally had a live human review the post I reported (only after I sent a not-quite-so-politely worded response to their original denial of my request) and have removed the post in question.


Readers, I can’t even explain to you the rage I am feeling right now at this situation. A fellow twitter user (@blackdove) pointed this out to meet last night.  It is a post on Facebook from a user known as Ukachukwu Anokuru.


On September 10th, in response to the death of an eight year old child on her wedding night in Yemen due to injuries she sustained when her 40-year-old husband raped her, THIS was what he posted:

yes we all vent anger and frustration no doubt,that’s ok.But we must realise that we still cannot stop this practice.In order to save the lives of future victims,we should educate the men on how to do it.If that Yemeni child husband had rubbed his limp penis(I don’t know if it’s the same with uncircumcised men)up and down the little girls vagina,he would have ejaculated within 15-20 seconds.Wipe her clean with tissue or clean cloth she wears back her panties and runs along to play,she would certainly have been alife today,safe,healthy, all forgotten.Nature permits this than Obama’s man marry man legality.I am talking from experience,I am not a hypocrite.Child sex,if done well is even safer and sweeter than adult sex.No injury,no pregnancy,nothing.The Yemeni bride was not ready for penetration and her husband must be arrested for murder.He is a mad man.How can he seek to enter a child sexually,instead of standing up the moment he notices that he has become erect.

After reading the link, and breathing for a few minutes to keep myself from vomiting or throwing my Macbook, I started going through Facebook’s reporting process. The first thing I noticed is that Facebook has absolutely NO mechanism for reporting sexual violence. You can either report something for violence, for which there is no option for reporting sexual violence:

Screen Shot 2013-09-15 at 11.30.33 AM

Or you can report something as sexually explicit:

Screen Shot 2013-09-15 at 11.30.18 AM

I attempted to report the post under the only option under which it fell (sexually explicit content), and received the following message from Facebook:

Screen Shot 2013-09-15 at 11.33.50 AM

RAGE. Unbridled rage.

Facebook gave me an option to comment on their refusal to remove the post, in which I may or may let have let a few choice words come out to play in explaining why a freaking BOT should never review these complaints. (Because I am POSITIVE that had a live person reviewed my complaint, this post would have been removed IMMEDIATELY).

So what can you do? You can go to Ukachukwu Anokuru’s page and report that disgutingly vile post in hopes that enough reports will force them to review it manually.

I’ve also created a Change.org petition asking Facebook to add a sexual violence option to their abuse reporting feature, and to hire more staff to review reports, so if you’re in the mood to do more, please sign that, as well.

If you found this post informative, or educational, witty, etc., you can click on the subscribe button just a few inches up and to your right to receive updates when I post on new womensy topics (you can unsubscribe at any time – I promise I won’t be offended). If you feel so inclined, you can also click the Donate button to help support the work I’m doing and keep me fighting the patriarchy. Thanks!

© Heather Parker and Antigone Awakens, 2012-2013.

61 Days Left: Where are the Crisis Pregnancy Centers in Texas? [MAP]

Wondering where all the #CPCs are in TX? Here’s a handy map of them.

In Texas and other states, anti-choice activists will try and trick women seeking abortion care into carrying their pregnancies to term. To do this, they often lead them to a fake clinic called a Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC).

CPCs are funded primarily through anti-choice license plates sold by the State of Texas, but some have even received federal funding as of July, 2006. These places often offer pregnancy tests on site, and if the test comes out positive, they will use coercive and deceptive tactics to convince women to continue the pregnancy rather than discussing all options. They typically oppose the use of birth control and condoms, give false information about the effectiveness of those methods, and will preach that abstinence is the best option even for someone who is already pregnant. Most Crisis Pregnancy Centers are religiously affiliated and are operated by massive anti-choice organizations like Care Net

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WTF OTD: Rapist Gets Only 31 DAYS in Jail???!?!?


This piece is part of a daily “What the Fuck of the Day” series here on Antigone Awakens, where I briefly discuss one thing each day that has me seriously saying, WTF?!?!

Today’s WTF OTD comes to you from Yellowstone County. Montana, where this man:

enhanced-buzz-7092-1377640981-13Stacey Rambold, a 54 year old former high school teacher was sentenced to just 31 days (yes thirty-one DAYS) for repeatedly raping a 14-year-old student. This same student later committed suicide just weeks before her 17th birthday.

Want even more shocking details from this story? Apparently Mr. Rambold could have avoided sentencing COMPLETELY if he completed a sex offender treatment program and agreed to other conditions. Yes, dear readers, you read that correctly. A 50+ year old man had sex with a FOURTEEN YEAR OLD student REPEATEDLY and could have received ZERO jail time had he simply completed a sex offender treatment program and stayed away from minors.

Read that again. A RAPIST could have avoided prosecution for his crimes simply be completing a sex offender treatment program? WTF?!

Moving on.

So what did he do to warrant this “terrible” punishment of 31 days in prison (with one day credited for time already served)? He skipped out on his treatment program and began spending time, unsupervised, with minors!

And instead of of agreeing with the prosecution’s request of a twenty year sentence, with a minimum of serving ten, the judge determined that the fact that Mr. Rambold had lost his teaching career, his marriage (the poor man!), and his home, had received an internet scarlet letter because of the publicity about the case, and (I’m not even joking here folks) that his victim “was older than her chronological age” (read: the slut must have been asking for it), the judge decided that leniency for this statutory rapist was in order, and gave him a mere 31 day sentence.

This might be my biggest WTF OTD yet.

Till next time,

– H

If you found this post informative, or educational, witty, etc., you can click on the subscribe button just a few inches up and to your right to receive updates when I post on new womensy topics (you can unsubscribe at any time – I promise I won’t be offended). If you feel so inclined, you can also click the Donate button to help support the work I’m doing and keep me fighting the patriarchy. Thanks!

© Heather Parker and Antigone Awakens, 2012-2013.

WTF OTD: Missing History Class is Problematic


This piece is part of a daily “What the Fuck of the Day” series here on Antigone Awakens, where I briefly discuss one thing each day that has me seriously saying, WTF?!?!

Good afternoon, lovely readers. My apologies for not visiting you in forever, but the non-digital world has been taking up quite a bit of my time as of late. I promise to try and get back to a more regular blogging schedule sometime soon. My goal is to get back to at least one “regular” blog per week, and my regular once a day WTF OTD by September, so be looking for those.

In the meantime, here’s today WTF OTD:

I found this “lovely” gem on Facebook, which is a treasure trove of the worst of the worst of antichoice vomit-inducing vitriol (it’s amazing what they say when they thing you’re not looking). This morning (before I had my coffee, I might add), I came across this picture, pointed out to me by a friend:


Photo credit Jonathan O’Toole and Christian Gallery

Now, just take a moment to let that picture sink in. Because my immediate reaction was the standard WTF??? But then I actually took a moment to LOOK at it. And then my reaction became a WTF?!?!?!?!?!??!!?

I’m going to try not to delve to deeply into the fact that this isn’t even a relatively close depiction of member of ANY Native American tribe (and actually seems to be rather gender amorphous – I mean, good for antis if that’s what they were going for, but somehow I doubt they really believe that not all persons who give birth are women).

Instead, I’m going to focus on the fact that, once again, they named a woman a PLACE. A woman’s body is not a fucking location. You cannot find my uterus on google maps, thank you very much.

I’m also going to focus on the fact that they’ve chosen to put a GIGANTIC undeveloped fetus –  covered with a Davey Crocket hat and armed with a non-period correct firearm – INSIDE the body of a supposedly Native American pregnant person. And then proceed to tell us that this arrangement is meant to be symbolic because settlers were “unjustly” attacked by those “savage Indians,” just like fetuses are “unjustly” attacked by their “savage” mothers and doctors during abortions.  W.T.F.

[Excuse my while I go laugh and then vomit]

Okay, I’m back.

What these antis don’t seem to realize is that neither the settlers NOR fetuses actually had/have a right to be where they were/are. Settlers were STEALING lands from Native American peoples, and fetuses are NOT persons – they do NOT have the right (NO ONE does) to use a pregnant persons body without that person’s permission. Just as Native American peoples had every right to tell the settlers to get the fuck back to where they came from and to protect their lands with force*, so, too, do pregnant persons have every right to terminate a pregnancy they do not wish to carry to term.

It really IS that simple.

Till next time,

– H

* Can I also just point out the utter laughability of the idea that Native Americans were behind the worst of the atrocities during that time period. A cursory reading of any introductory history text will show that while certain tribes did commit violence against settlers, the vast VAST VAST amount of violence was committed against Native Americans by settlers and by the US government. So, yeah…STFU antis.

If you found this post informative, or educational, witty, etc., you can click on the subscribe button just a few inches up and to your right to receive updates when I post on new womensy topics (you can unsubscribe at any time – I promise I won’t be offended). If you feel so inclined, you can also click the Donate button to help support the work I’m doing and keep me fighting the patriarchy. Thanks!

© Heather Parker and Antigone Awakens, 2012-2013.