Sex and Social Justice

Death and taxes don’t hold as much weight with me as they may with some. By some, I am thinking of mostly the over privileged and those who aspire to be like them. Growing up poor and female… death didn’t feel like something to resent. I wasn’t always sure that I was entitled to “life”. And taxes? How can I be mad at taxes? I am all for the redistribution of wealth. I want a socialized healthcare system. I believe in public schools, social security, good roads, and public transit. But again, this also has to do with my income, and what I see as my realistic potential income. I doubt I will ever make enough money to really be bothered by taxes.

So what certainties do carry weight for me? What two facets of my existence are undeniable?

Sex and Social Justice.

As in death and taxes; one certainty is biological, the other certainty is sociological. I see the two linked. I see that link in the social justice work of the amazing people that I feel grateful to know of.

Like my friend Aashika Damodar and her amazing organization Survivors Connect. She is a brilliant, wonderful, warm, woman who is fighting Human Trafficking. Sex is a huge part of slavery. Can I offer her something in her battle? Can I take the time to research what leads one person needing to own another person in order to get off? Why does that happen? How does society reify that behavior? How can it be stopped from the angle of sexual behavior?

I met Jessica Holter a few weeks ago. She just had her first novel published, the Punany Experience.  She is an AIDS activist who created The Punany Poets. Through sex education theatre this woman is calling out the sex we are really having. Not the kind we’re supposed to be having, but what folks really get up to when they want to get off and think nobody will know. And she is targeting an audience that needs to hear what she has to say: African American women. In the US,  black women are disproportionately infected by HIV. Can I contribute to her work? Can I be another voice that says anal sex in and of itself is totally normal and healthy and has the potential to feel damn good in all human beings? Another voice that says it’s sexy when you’re partner uses protection, but it’s way sexier when you protect yourself.

Rubenesque Burlesque is a dance troupe in Oakland comprised of fat women.  Juicy D. Lite wants more fat women to see themselves as sexual beings. Not as jokes, not as freaks, not as sexless nor masculinized. The troupe has women of color, queer women, straight women, white women that are all categorized as fat women. Juicy believes that fat women are still the group in our society that is the most ok to be cruel to. And I agree. How much money is made from women hating themselves? Of convincing them that they are not worthy of love, respect NOR sexual fulfillment? How can I help her counter all of that focused negativity? Can I expose the sources of hate and identify them as such?

Shilo McCabe is an East Bay photographer who has created The Sex Positive Photo Project of the San Francisco Bay Area. Shilo says the “project is an ongoing exploration of the sex positive movement, culture that can be found here as well as an exploration into the meaning of sex positive.” Can I support her? Can I prove how important her work is to society? Help her photographs to not be discriminated against and vilified for showing actual sexual diversity?

I want to add to the tool kit of these women fighting for social justice by providing a better understanding of our sexuality as human beings; not as whatever religious belief we may identify with, not from the vantage point of where we may fit socioeconomically, not as homosexual or heterosexual, not as male or female, but as a species. There is so much work to be done. There is so much injustice. But we are not isolated. We are not on our own. We have each other, and I am promising to do my part.

Sex and Social Justice
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  • Barbara

    How rich my senior thesis on using black erotic performance to combat the silencing of black female sexuality would have been had I been talking to you while researching and writing it. I enjoy having a window into Bay Area based erotics through your words, your studies and your experiences Airial. All of these projects sound so amazing, of course I’m already familiar with Jessica’s work. But man, do I really need to catch a Rubenesque Burlesque performance. I just love everything that this group is based on and the work they are doing is much needed.