The Neverending Story (A.K.A. The Ballad of Margaret Brooks and The CSPH)

I love open letters, especially humorous ones like those I used to read back when I was 13 years old and were aimed at celebrities like Tom Felton (who played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter series—don’t judge me). Coming in close second, my other favorite types of open letters are those that shed light on things that had previously been hidden in the shadows.

Today, an open letter went out—from Erin Basler-Francis, one of our champs at The Center for Sexual Pleasure & Health, to Margaret Brooks. (This is not the first time she gets an open letter like this, though the one I wrote years ago was much shorter and crankier). You should click over and read it, stat. Here’s some context:

The CSPH has faced a fair amount of adversity since its inception in 2009. Members of the Citizens Against Trafficking (an anti-rights, sex work abolitionist group) continue to harass staff and supporters of The Center, particularly regarding our outreach on college campuses. These bullies use both overt and hidden tactics in an attempt to delegitimize the importance of conversations about sexuality, pleasure, sex work, and sexual rights.

Most recently, Dr. Margaret Landman Brooks, director of the Economics Department at Bridgewater State University, sent a series of emails to the provost of Vanderbilt University using a series of red herring, slippery slope, and equivocation arguments as well as ad hominem attacks in an attempt to convince the school that it would be legally liable for sexual assaults that occurred on campus after the Study Sex College Tour workshop, “Brilliant in Bed.” While not the only protestation, Dr. Margaret Landman Brooks decision to use rhetoric causally linking pleasure focused sexuality education to sexual assault on campus is both inaccurate and insidious. 

We at The CSPH have chosen to address this issue publicly because the tactics used by Dr. Margaret Landman Brooks in this case are irresponsible and dangerous when the context of the climate at Vanderbilt University, as well as the current conversations around sexual assault, BDSM, and Intimate Partner Violence.

While part of me kind of wants to commend Margaret Brooks for her passion, it’s terribly saddening that it manifests in the ways it does and I cannot in good conscience do so. We shouldn’t stand for the bullying of youth, and we should also not stand for the bullying of adults at the hands of other adults. Obviously, if you’re working toward social justice and not ruffling feathers, you’re not making big enough waves (to, uh, mix some metaphors there), but man—the repercussions aren’t pretty, and we need to change that.

boston snow

Pictured here: the Snowpocalypse that’s as cold as the attitude from Donna Hughes.

It’s not like we haven’t reached out to Ms. Brooks, either. We’ve personally invited her and her crew to our events, and extended olive branches in the spirit of dialogue both online and in person, and none of them have been acknowledged or even accepted. In fact, we’ve been pretty straightforward and transparent in all our dealings. To her credit, I guess, she DID shake my hand once? This is when I was trying to show her I was a real person and not some nameless undergrad she could just bully without having to ever face. That is more than I can say for Donna Hughes (a professor of Women’s Studies at the University of Rhode Island—how appropriate, right?), who very much did not shake my hand when I greeted her and gave me a cold shoulder of Boston weather proportions. It was pretty epic. But I digress.

Margaret Brooks is the same person who (along with Donna Hughes and Melanie Shapiro) tried to get a slew of events (including KFAPVD) I organized at Brown University canceled while I was an undergraduate. This is the cohort that misrepresented SO many things about the work the Sexual Health Education & Empowerment Council (SHEEC) at Brown and The CSPH were doing. This is the person that sent countless emails to Brown’s administration (including the President) warning them of the “dangers” of these events, blatantly spread inaccurate/misleading information, and wrote bulletins claiming that we were to blame for a spike in young RI men contracting HIV. This is one of the people that made my time at Brown tough for a while, and made me have to watch my back really carefully.

On some level, I’m glad it started early so I could protect myself before things got too serious, and I’m very fortunate to consistently work in spaces that respect my endeavors and where I can be open about who I am and what I do, but many people aren’t as fortunate

This is the person that sent my personal Twitter account to professors and deans before it was something I shared as publicly as I do now. This is the same person that sent critique-laden, alarmist emails to my supervisors at Sojourner House—about my personal life and affiliations to organizations that believe in kink/BDSM education and reproductive justice—trying to possibly get me fired, and definitely trying to put me in hot water and endanger a health fair I was coordinating. Fortunately, I was out about my identities at Sojourner House, because if I hadn’t been, she would have outed me to the director and my supervisor, as well as other colleagues. That is not okay.

I am eternally grateful to all the professors, deans, staff, friends, and colleagues who were and have been supportive, understanding and wonderful throughout all this and its multiple iterations. You know who you are. Thank you for believing in me and in sexuality education. While Brown is a deeply flawed institution, certainly, I am incredibly proud that they institutionally backed up my right to hold the events I did, and supported my health and dignity during that process. I firmly believe I didn’t bear a bigger burden while I was an undergrad because I was still a student and thus not as “fair game” as professionals in the working world.

You know who was the fairest game of them all, and the original target? Megan Andelloux—one of the best and most hardworking educators in the field today. megan andellouxMargaret Brooks is the person that time and time again contacts places where Megan Andelloux and her close friends/colleagues present with scare tactics in efforts to squash their/our attempts at education. This bullying not only harms the institutions and their populations who are sometimes deprived of accurate sexuality education, but it takes a huge emotional toll on honest, hardworking sexuality educators and advocates who are trying to make the world a better, more sexually literate place. The case with Vanderbilt is not the first time this happens.

This is the cohort of people that tried to stop The CSPH from opening back in 2009/2010. The same cohort of people that have accused my colleagues of pedophilia because they believe in giving kids accurate sexuality information and answering their questions at whatever age they start asking them. This is the cohort that, under the guise of “academic” and/or “professional” writing used blatant inaccuracies and decontextualizations (not to mention shoddy record-keeping and citations) to “make points” about how, basically, we are The Worst.

As far as ethics and academic integrity, I would expect better from a Brown alumna/Economics professor and a Women’s Studies professor.

This needs to stop, and we need people to listen. We will keep doing the work we do because we believe in it, and these things are not going to stop us, but we are not made of steel. We are committed to bringing these issues to light, but remember—all this takes a toll. How are you helping break down this misinformation? How are you supporting the victims of bullying and stalking and professional attacks? If you’re not already, imagine having to watch your back constantly for people like this. Where will they be next? What professional gig will they try to wreck soon? What kind of misinformation will they try to spread? This is why we need to speak up and support each other.

[UPDATED] Debating on Ultra-Conservative Radio

So…I’m apparently debating Laura Ingraham and Isabel Marin (from Yale’s “Choose Life” and “Undergraduates for a Better Yale College“) on the place of Sex Weeks on college campuses. This will be happening FRIDAY (April 20th) at 11:15 AM EST on The Laura Ingraham Show.

You can listen to it by clicking here.

Long story short, Harvard’s Sex Week got profiled in the New York Times and I was quoted in the article. I’m assuming this is what caught folks’ attention and led them to email me this morning asking if a representative from SHEEC wanted to go on air to speak about Sex Week. They were asking if we could do it “today” (read: within less than 30 minutes of the show having sent that email, which is horrible protocol) or tomorrow. Talk about short notice! But still, I said yes. It’s an interesting opportunity and I feel I can hold my own on the air (or at least I hope I can!). (NOTE: the appearance was originally scheduled for April 18th, but they decided to reschedule for the 20th to give us more on-air time. The first paragraph of this post has been changed to reflect that update).

Wish me luck!

For a bit of background on Laura and her show, let’s look at some of the topics she addresses and the stances she takes (via Wikipedia):

  • Illegal immigration: Ingraham frequently advocates “securing the borders” by putting more resources into stopping illegal immigration. She has a segment called “The Illegal Immigration Sob Story” alert, in which she highlights media articles that she believes are gathering emotional sympathy for illegal immigrants who, she states, are simply breaking the law.
  • Pro-life issues: Ingraham is opposed to abortion on demand, and often talks about human cloning, embryonic stem-cell research and abortion, taking a pro-life stance against all three. She was an outspoken advocate against Missouri Constitutional Amendment 2 (2006), a ballot measure that she felt was deceptive and that legalized human cloning. Every January 22, Ingraham promotes and lauds the marchers participating in the March for Life, which calls for outlawing abortion, and takes place on the same day as the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision, which legalized abortion in the United States.
  • “Pornification” of the culture: Ingraham frequently highlights sex and pornography on her show. She has criticized people such as Howard Stern, Hugh Hefner, and others who she claims have pervaded the culture with what she describes as “filth” at the expense of “traditional American values.”

I think we can safely say Laura and I are not going to end up BFFs. As for Isabel (who’s part of an organization that recommends fake clinics or “crisis pregnancy centers” to pregnant women), the same applies.

Your Ignorance Is Showing: Ridiculous Comments on Empowerment, Objectification, and Domestic Violence

 Alternatively titled: “A Response to Cate Stewart and Lisa Lansio”
For those of you who don’t know, I’m one of the two co-leaders of SHEEC this year–a group with which I’ve been heavily involved since its inception in 2008/2009. I was at a conference in Colorado this week and sadly had to miss 3 of our events, including a showcase/open-mic in honor of Wear Purple Day/Spirit Day and Love Your Body Day that would benefit Sojourner House, a local domestic violence agency founded by Brown students in 1976. The Showcase featured 2 local poets, the Gendo Taiko (Japanese drumming) crew, Attitude (a dance troupe), as well as a few other performers (of the singing/acoustic-guitar variety).
After a set of great performances, the last two individuals who signed up for the open-mic portion took the stage and began to attack the event and the people who were in it, saying that having a campus pole-dancing troupe perform was “not respectful” and that “it just perpetuated gender roles and objectified women.” One said that “she came here expecting to be empowered, but that’s not what happened for her at all” and that we “need to stop singing about gendered things” (and I believe the example was getting kissed in parking lots? Which…what?). 
The other added that “women need to stop playing the victimized role, stop blaming men for our problems, women bring it upon themselves” and that “women have the power just as much as men and are as much to blame for abuse as men, that women are not chained to the floor and can just walk away from abusive situations.”  That same one mentioned some of the performers who talked about abuse or abused women and their mindsets have no right to speak issues that they were not physically a part of (which is actually inaccurate, but I’ll get to that later).
This is my response, not only as SHEEC’s Co-Chair,  but as an individual:

First of all, the controversial pole-dancing performance. I’m tired of defending and explaining this one, so I’ll keep it short and sweet. Empowering women doesn’t mean desexualizing them. Objectification is only a problem if it’s not paired with due subjectification (read this post as well as the comments). Finally, we support a group of educated women who want to “stretch the boundaries of pole dancing as something far more than simply sexy,” who “want to create a place where people feel comfortable, athletic, and yes, sexy!” and who “consistently challenge the stereotypes that surround vertical dancing, and seek to bring together a wide range of art forms through experimentation and openness in [their] performances.”

We wanted to showcase individuals who would address the core of our event, who would speak to their relationships with their bodies via song/dance/poetry and would show us a bit of themselves through their art. This event wasn’t meant to empower every person, but provide a space so people could share what empowered them and talk about what didn’t. Sorry, Cate and Lisa, if this didn’t empower you personally, but that’s not what the event was for. We wanted to start the conversation and show the varied emotions people had regarding their bodies, trying to focus on the positive, but also trying to highlight the complexity and (thus billing it as something “silly and serious and complex” in our advertising).
Now, what I consider the most egregious part of this evening (again, from what I’ve been told) was the commentary around abuse and the power women do or don’t have.
  • As a CLASS of people, no, women do not have the same power men have. This, of course, is affected by the intersections of people’s identities and how they affect their place on the social ladder/s, but if we’re only considering it on the axis of sex, no. We are not seen as equal and we do not have the same power men do. Some individual women may have more power in specific contexts, but ask yourself–is that because they’re women or is it because of something else? And furthermore, think of the difference between winning a battle and winning the war. Few and exceptional individual cases of powerful women don’t erase the massive inequalities across society.
  • We are not blaming individual men for “our problems.” First of all, they’re EVERYONE’S problems. Second of all, what we *are* blaming is a system that in most instances, privileges men and masculinity and devalues or even punishes women and femininity (not that the two–m/m and w/f–are inextricably joined, but are often thought to be). It’s not the fault of individual men (or women) acting in a vacuum; it’s the fault of everyone taking actions that contribute to this system, and that’s why EVERYONE has to work against it.
  • “Women bring it upon themselves” is such a problematic statement, I don’t even know where to begin. My first reaction is to say “Your privilege and ignorance are showing.” I’ll call upon the words of S. Biko: “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” READ ABOUT OPPRESSION AND POWER. Expand your myopic view. Your personal experience as a a woman and even as a victim/survivor of abuse does not qualify you to invalidate the experience of others, particularly women who have experienced trauma.
  • Abusive situations are DEFINED by a power and control imbalance, so NO, if the abusive partner in a male/female couple is the male, the female partner does NOT have the same power. She is also NOT TO BLAME for the abuse; no victim of abuse ever is. Read up on slut-shaming and victim-blaming to educate yourself on this. Intimate partner abuse is also often reinforced by other forms of institutional abuse/power; again, these things don’t occur in a vacuum. Context is important!
  • Many circumstances make it difficult for women (or any abused partner) to walk away from their situation, and the comment about them “not being chained to the floor” is offensive in its disrespect and flagrant ignorance. This an excellent resource that answers the “why doesn’t she just leave?” question so often posed to and/or about victims. Also check this  out for more information. I personally hate this question because it blames, shames, and disenfranchises victims, though I understand where it comes from (because I once asked it too).
I commend Jenn, Chay, Linh and the other SHEEC planners that were there and handled this as gracefully as they could given the circumstances. Thank you for positively representing SHEEC and doing damage-control, for letting those two girls know that you respected their right to have an opinion and their desire to share it, but that they did not have to attack other performers to express them. I also want to thank the performers for weathering that storm and for reaching out to us after the event with very touching emails.
Having a conversation or constructive dialogue is not the same as being argumentative and rude. Debating a point is not the same as attacking a group of people and not listening to their defense. Constructive criticism is no the same as ignorant remarks made to shame others and devalue their experiences. Learn the difference, Lisa and Cate, and then try again. We’re willing to listen if you are.
SHEEC is a group that was made to address issues of gender, sex, sexuality, and all the things that go along with it. This means we aren’t going to shy away from difficult conversations, controversy, and tackling the taboos. In fact, it means we’re more likely to address them because we come from a place that sees addressing those topics as a PRESSING NEED instead of as something to be avoided. We want to make people feel challenged and productively uncomfortable while also nourishing those who need it and providing support for folks marginalized due to their sexuality or desires. If you are looking for a “safe” group that doesn’t push envelopes, this is not it.

Response to Ridiculous TFP Article

Want to read the article I’ll be dissecting? Click here.

What we faced today at Brown University, an Ivy League university, had the flavor of a religious persecution. As we peacefully campaigned, about 250 frenzied pro-homosexual students gathered to scream, spit, taunt, insult, assault, and even attempt to destroy our traditional marriage banner. Only with supernatural protection, and a strong police presence, did TFP volunteers manage to complete the campaign without serious injury.

  • I’d say religious persecution indeed, but the persecutors were TFP volunteers–those who came to our campus waving banners proclaiming their views on “traditional marriage,” upsetting, frightening, and alienating members of our LGBTQ and LGBTQ-friendly population, handing out pamphlets saying we were going to hell, listing all the reasons why we were “wrong” and “sick.”
  • I’d amend their paragraph to say “pro-LGBTQ rights” students. What primarily rallied us together were our feelings about civil rights–a desire for equality, especially in relation to same-sex marriage.
  • We didn’t gather to “scream, spit, taunt, insult, assault” — we gathered to counter-protest. There is a difference between “screaming” and “chanting,” by the way. In any massive crowd of people incensed by a political/personal issue such as this, you will ALWAYS get people who get rowdy or don’t behave in the most tactful manner. However, to pretend like most (or even MANY) Brown individuals were “out of line” is a flat-out falsehood. Similarly, implying that without the Brown police and “supernatural protection,” there would’ve been a threat to the TFP volunteers’ bodily integrity and that only thanks to police were they not seriously injured is ludicrous. Finally, comparing the behavior and “united front” of a TINY contingent (12-15 people at most) of people who are TRAINED in protesting and are doing this as part of a national tour to hundreds of passersby, students, staff, and others who impromptu gathered on Brown’s campus due to the presence of TFP is A TERRIBLE, INACCURATE, UNFAIR comparison.
  • I also need to mention that our central quad is NOT public property and that TFP’s campaign/protest/hatefest invaded our campus without permission.
  • I’m pretty sure no one spit ON protestors. What I witnessed and got captured on film was that some people received pamphlets from TFP, tore them up, then spit on THE PAMPHLETS.

Suddenly, a loud thud-rip noise was heard. I looked up and saw a pro-homosexual student literally crashing through our traditional marriage banner, attempting to destroy it. Running at top speed, he flung himself into it and ripped one side loose. Some students watching from a distance approvingly cheered the act of violence. 

  • That’s true, and I think that student was extremely misguided in what they did. It was inappropriate on many levels and should never happen again.

“Why are you here?” many students asked. We politely told them how the TFP was on a state-wide tour defending traditional marriage. They would just stand there in a sort of daze, and repeat the question again: “But why are you here?” Some of them just couldn’t believe it.

  • Of course they couldn’t believe it. For some people, it’s hard to think that at a generally liberal, tolerant location such as Brown University, there would be such a protest. Being at Brown sometimes shields people from the cruel realities of the world, such as rampant homophobia, so it’s jarring to see that homophobia and hatred right in the center of our campus grounds. Furthermore, it must’ve been a case of confusion due to the fact that TFP is not a student group and did not request to be on Brown’s campus, so they had no permission to be there and people were wondering why/how they were there.

TFP volunteer Mr. Danniel Pribble debated with one pro-homosexual student, illustrating how the acceptance of homosexual vice leads to the acceptance of pedophilia. In fact, during a recent session in Canadian parliament, experts claimed that pedophilia is a “sexual orientation.” / “What moral grounds do you stand on to oppose pedophilia, once you’ve accepted homosexual behavior?” asked Mr. Pribble. “You’re right,” answered the student. “I don’t have any substantive objection with pedophilia.”

  • The conversation about pedophilia is a very complex one that usually gets many parties riled up. It’s also completely irrelevant to this event and its purpose, and the comparison of accepting homosexuality and accepting pedophilia is a stupid one. I’ll point out the biggest hole: pedophilia involves minors, people who are unable to legally consent to sexual activity, while homosexuality, as long as it’s between CONSENTING adults, is exactly that–consensual. Anyway, the opinion of ONE student on pedophilia is by no means representative of the LGBTQ community at Brown or any group, for that matter. 

As Mr. James Bascom distributed pro-family literature, a woman with a rainbow ribbon on her lapel said: “You’re being so intolerant!”/ “Why don’t you tolerate us?” inquired Mr. Bascom. “So tolerance is a one-way street, then?” / “Yes, yes. It is,” said the woman. It became amply clear that free speech at Brown University is not free and that the opposition would do everything they could to silence our message of truth: that marriage is between one man, and one woman.

  • This argument keeps coming up, and it’s still ridiculous every time. Being “tolerant of intolerance” DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. Long story short: tolerance doesn’t have to be awarded to groups that advocate hatred and keeping sections of our population as second-class citizens. Finally, the TFP message isn’t “a message of truth”–it’s a message of OPINION that disguises itself as a “message of truth.”

By now, the number of pro-homosexual students increased to about 250. The pitch of their screaming intensified too, and in the chaos, one of our youngest volunteers, Zachariah Long, 17, was spat upon in the face. 

  • I am SO very doubtful that this happened, so very doubtful.

Approaching Zachariah, one student said: “Can I shake your hand? Because it takes a lot of courage to be out here.” Another added: “This is great! But, I’m going to go right now before something happens. Keep up the good fight. Thanks for being here. It takes a lot of guts. It’s really brave.”

  • If ONE more person says “Oh wow, it’s really brave to be conservative at Brown,” I swear I’m going to have a conniption. Since when is it oh-so-brave to spout hatred and claim opinions as facts? It’s about as brave and informed as going into a room full of women and saying “YOU SHOULD ALL BE IN THE KITCHEN MAKING ME DINNER.” Oy. Bravery is in the eye of the beholder, I guess, though, so what might be “brave” to some, others might just call “stupid” (e.g. facing off against a ravenous tiger just for fun, or protesting like this at Brown). Anyway, even if what TFP did was “brave” by some definitions, it’s by no means positive, right, or something we should be admiring. I’d also like to point out the courage/bravery of all the COUNTER-protestors, as well as LGBTQ people in general.

On the other side of the intersection, Mr. Leo Fitzsimmons, a TFP supporter, explained why marriage is important: “marriage produces children. And there’s no future without marriage. Same-sex ‘marriage’ does not produce children.” This simple reality befuddled the student who responded with profanities. “God bless America,” responded Mr. Fitszimmons. The young student, who looked like an American, was so upset that she yelled, “I’m not American!”

  • Marriage is important because it produces children? So should infertile couples not be allowed to marry? There’s no future without marriage? Oh right, because adoption doesn’t exist, no one is ever born outside of wedlock, people in same-sex marriages can’t bear children if not biologically with their partner, and people have to be married and in love to propagate the human race…
  • Also, what is the need to talk about someone “looking like an American”? What does it mean to “look American”? THIS IS SO PROBLEMATIC. Do they men she looked Caucasian? And who CARES? This entire sentence is so riddled with problems, I don’t even know where to begin. It’s freaking me out.

Seeing the violent attitude of the pro-homosexual students, the police chief wanted to escort us to our van and ensure our safe departure. After completing the 1 hour and 30 minute rally in its entirety, we prayed three Hail Marys, shouted our motto “Tradition Family Property – America” and left. Policemen surrounded us on all sides and were assisted by a patrol vehicle on the street. A rowdy group of approximately 250 pro-homosexual advocates attempted to break through the perimeter to harass us. Without ceasing, they screamed obscenities and yelled in chorus over and over again: “God loves gays!”

  • The Brown police was there to make sure people protested peacefully and nothing got out of hand. MOSTLY, though, they were trying to make sure traffic kept flowing, no one got hit by a car (since the protest and counter-protest were getting huge and, towards the end, it all turned into a march), and that sidewalks remained clear at certain areas. It’s not like they “wanted to escort” TFP to their van, but that it was part of their job to do so as part of the BROWN DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY because they are there at all big events, especially protests.

Thank God, the police protected us as we packed our vans. But when we pulled away from the curb, many pro-homosexual students closed in to hit the sides of our vehicles with their fists or palms. A hard object, maybe a rock, was thrown against one of the vans.

  • I highly doubt something was thrown, but whatever. 

Brown University Against Homophobia

After experiencing a “pro-traditional marriage” rally this past summer (at the hands of none other than The National Organization for [Opposite-Sex] Marriage in its disturbing nationwide tour), I was more than ready to deal with TFP (which stands for, wait for it: TRADITION, FAMILY, AND PROPERTY) coming to Brown’s campus. (For background, please check the sources linked at the end of this post which provide coverage of the events that transpired.) 

My feelings about the event were definitely mixed. On the bright side, I thought the response from people at Brown was tremendous. It was invigorating to see so many folks (and tons of heterosexual allies) showing their support, chanting, holding signs, donning rainbow flags, pins, and even blankets to demonstrate that TFP’s message of intolerance and religious fanaticism wasn’t going to be tolerated on our campus without, at the very LEAST, a counter-demonstration. I was glad we finally had one of these groups come to Brown while people were HERE and could do something about it (unlike, say, the Westboro Baptist Church Hate Machine a few years back, which came right after we all left for summer break). Plus any opportunity I get to wear my ROY G. B(I)V outfit is welcome!
On the not-so-bright side, though, I was upset by the fact that they stepped on my beloved campus spewing their hateful message. It’s always somewhat scary (and really bizarre) to be surrounded by people who hate what my communities stand for and who legitimately think we’re going to burn in some hell, who see our lives as revolting and horrible. It’s personally offensive to be reminded that many people still consider us subhuman or sick or harmful to society. It’s painful to be reminded that many politicians and state legislatures think same-sex marriage isn’t necessary, or isn’t a worthwhile cause/investment, and to know that so many people have suffered because their relationships haven’t been acknowledged.
This isn’t just about marriage, though. In what’s known as a blue-state, in the heart of a liberal campus, we are yet again reminded that we are not considered equal citizens. Just as recently as 2009, Governor Carcieri vetoed a bill that would have added domestic partners to the list of people authorized by law to make funeral arrangements for each other.  His reasoning?  “This bill represents a disturbing trend over the past few years of the incremental erosion of the principles surrounding traditional marriage, which is not the preferred way to approach this issue.” (Thankfully, this bill eventually passed in 2010.) Even more recently, in 2008 and 2010, Mr. Carcieri ALSO vetoed House Bill 7044/Senate Bill 2055 that would’ve added “gender identity and expression” to RI’s hate crimes statute. Reasoning? “Those who struggle with gender confusion deserve our compassion and understanding — not laws that cement them into an identity which denies biological and objective reality.” (This bill was just heard once again on Tuesday, so we’ll see what happens now.)
While inside (or facing off against) any crowd of staunch conservatives, Republicans, anti-choice/pro-life people basically saying that I’m going to hell, that I’m a horrible, degenerate human being, that my family is ashamed of me, that I’m something that shouldn’t exist, and even worse…I wonder…how many of these people do I pass by as I walk down the street? Does the cashier at CVS secretly hate these big things I stand for? What about the woman sitting next to me on the bus? My professors? Will I ever run into people who were at the protest and wrote horrible things that entirely misrepresented what happened? I’m all for finding connections with people and trying to get along on SOME level, even if we have fundamental differences of opinion, but when those bridges we’ve built are rickety and sometimes depend on ignoring REALLY big differences, you can’t blame a girl for being nervous.
Anyway, just because I’ve gone through this type of thing before (again, this summer’s anti-NOM protest was a perfect example), it doesn’t make it any less infuriating. Like I told the Brown Daily Herald, I think the group came here, in part, to gain media attention. “Because it’s a college and there’s this idea that kids are wild and crazy, especially at Brown, they think they can find fodder for their anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.” It pisses me off because I KNOW what their interest is, I KNOW what they’re going to do with the footage. No matter how peaceful and “proper” we are, they will always spin it into something different. This past summer, NOM did the same thing, except our “battlefield” was the RI Statehouse.
If you want to see for yourself, just compare this NOM blogpost with this TFP blogpost. Similar? No surprise there. So many anti-LGBTQ/same-sex marriage folks use the SAME DAMN TACTICS each and every single time, it actually makes them easier to spot. NOM folks misrepresented attendance, artfully cut their sound-clips and videos, and basically tried to portray all the anti-NOM-ers as these wild, violent rainbow-wielding creatures who were going to hurt their children (both the ones at the rally and those all over America) and try to take over the world with their big, gay agenda of degenerate ideas.
*facepalm*

It’s good to remind myself that there are many places in the world, even in my own backyard, that aren’t like my LGBTQ-friendly, sex-positive circles. It reminds me why I have to continue doing the work that I do; there is still a lot of violence, hatred, shame, and misinformation in the world. The important thing here is that we will not give into their fear-mongering. We will stand and we will take action despite (or even because of) our fears and insecurities. As I said in an interview for the Brown Daily Herald: “We know they have a right to free speech, but if their speech is hateful, the Brown community will not stay silent.”

******************************

And now, for the utterly laughable and entirely unfortunate coverage from the hate-group itself: “Video: Pro-Homosexuals at Brown University Respond to Peaceful TFP Rally with Violence”
[Update: As of 3/29, YouTube has removed the TFP video for some reason. Strange, but I won’t complain. The less hate on the internet, the better.] While I could deconstruct the video, its tactics, its supporting group, and their horrible little mission, I’ll instead leave you with a comment that someone on YouTube left in response to the TFP statements about provocation (TFP claims they weren’t provoking the campus and were met with “shocking violence,” among other things):
I think you would do well to look up the meaning of “provocation.” When bagpipe-playing, 20-foot-tall banner toting groups of people come to the place where you live to courteously inform you that you are going to hell and there is nothing you can do about it, I would be hard pressed to find anyone who would be pleased. There were no assaults; please, try to stick to the facts. And your victim rhetoric? Please. 20 seconds of feeling unsafe? Try a lifetime.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Sexuality educators set the record straight: “Talking about sexuality does not increase sexually transmitted infections” despite what non-experts report.

For Immediate Release
Sexuality educators set the record straight: “Talking about sexuality does not increase sexually transmitted infections” despite what non-experts report.

Contact: 
Megan Andelloux
HiOhMegan@gmail.com
401-345-8685 


Contact: Aida Manduley
Aida_manduley@brown.edu
787-233-0025

In yet another attempt to shut down access to quality sex education, South-Eastern New England conservative advocates hit the sex panic button in a multi-state, email and phone campaign to colleges all over New England last week.

On February 3rd and 4th , certified sexuality educator and sexologist Megan Andelloux (AASECT, ACS) received word that numerous colleges and university faculty received a document stating that colleges who brought sex educators such as Ms. Andelloux onto their campuses were linked to the increasing rate of transmission of HIV in RI. Furthermore, among other misleading “facts” that were “cited,” the author of this bulletin claimed that Brown University was facing an HIV crisis, which is false.

Citizens Against Trafficking, the face behind the fear-mongering, spammed numerous local institutions from a University of Rhode Island account with its latest malicious missive that targeted specific individuals as well as Brown University. The author of the letter, Margaret Brooks, an Economics Professor at Bridgewater State, suggested that colleges and universities that host sexuality speakers, including those who are professionally accredited, are partly to blame for the four new cases of HIV which have been diagnosed amongst RI college students this year.

Ms. Andelloux states: “My heart goes out to those students who have recently tested positive for HIV. However, there is no evidence of any link between campus presentations on sexual issues and the spike in HIV cases. Rather, I would suggest that this demonstrates a need for more high-quality sex education to college students.“ It is unclear why people at URI or Citizens Against Trafficking, a coalition to combat all forms of human trafficking, is attempting to stop adults from accessing sexual information from qualified, trained educators. What is certain however, is that this Professor of Economics miscalculated her suggestion that a correlation exists between increased HIV rates in Rhode Island and the type of sex education these speakers provided at Brown University: one that emphasized accurate information, risk-reduction, pleasure, and health.

Barrier methods have been shown by the CDC to reduce the transmission of HIV and other STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections). Research has shown that when individuals have access to medically accurate information, are aware of sexual risk reduction methods, and have access to learn about sexual health, the number of infections and transmission of STIs decreases, pain during sex decreases, and condom use increases. The CAT circulated bulletin is blatantly misleading about many issues, and often omits information that is crucial to understanding the full picture of sex education at Brown and in Rhode Island.

When individuals who do not hold any background in sexuality education speak out in opposition because of their fear or prejudice, society becomes rooted in outdated beliefs and pseudo-science that do injustice to people everywhere. Furthermore, when those individuals personally and publicly attack those devoted to providing sex education with false and misinformed accusations, it not only hurts those who are defamed, but also the community at large.

We ask for an immediate retraction of the vilifying and inaccurate statements made by Ms. Margaret Brooks and Citizens Against Trafficking in their latest newsletter. We also ask that esteemed local universities such as URI and Bridgewater State continue to hold their employees to ethical standards of normal scientific inquiry and require that their faculty hold some modicum of expertise in a field of education before raising the public level of panic over it.

Megan Andelloux is available to answer any questions the press, Margaret Brooks, University of Rhode Island or Citizens Against Trafficking holds. Aida Manduley, the Chair of Brown University’s Sexual Health Education and Empowerment Council and Brown University’s is available to discuss the upcoming Sex Week and sexuality workshops held at Brown University.

Signed,
Megan Andelloux
Shanna Katz
Reid Mihalko
Aida Manduley

##########

Last-Minute Uninvitation: Shame on OSU

For those of you who haven’t heard, Tristan Taormino (of sex-ed, puckerup.com, and feminist porn fame), booked to give the keynote speech at the Oregon State University Modern Sex conference (scheduled for February 15th and 16th), has been UNINVITED from the event. The university representative who uninvited her cited her “résumé and website” as the reason.

What?

You read right folks. A speaker who was booked to give the KEYNOTE talk at a conference was uninvited for the very body of work that made her worthy of being invited in the first place. But it gets messier. Read on for the story:

On October 28, 2010, organizers of the OSU Modern Sex conference booked Taormino to give the keynote talk; they confirmed the date and agreed to fees, and Tristan’s management received a first draft of the contract on November 1. That contract was incomplete and sent back to OSU for revisions. As with many negotiations, the contract was pending as all the paperwork got done, but in late December, OSU again confirmed Tristan’s appearance and conference organizers told her manager to purchase airline tickets, for which OSU would reimburse her.

On Tuesday, January 18, 2011, Steven Leider, Director of the Office of LGBT Outreach and Services contacted Colten Tognazzini, Tristan Taormino’s manager, to say that the conference had come up short on funding. Tognazzini told him that since the travel was booked and the time reserved, they could work with whatever budget they did have. Leider said that would not be possible: “We have to cancel Ms. Taormino’s appearance due to a lack of funding. It has been decided that OSU cannot pay Ms. Taormino with general fee dollars, because of the content of her resume and website.” At OSU, ‘general fee dollars’ include taxpayer dollars given to the University by the Oregon State Legislature to defray various costs. They differ from ‘student activity dollars,’ which are part of every student’s tuition and help fund student groups and activities.

Tognazzini spoke to a source at OSU who speculated that the University feared that when it went before the legislature in regards to future funding, legislators would use OSU’s funding of a “pornographer” on campus as ammunition to further cut budgets. This source, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Tognazzini, “I think they’re uninviting Tristan because they don’t want to have to defend her appearance to conservative legislators.”

Now, I won’t talk about the politics of caving here and why it’s a messed up situation from an ethical or sex-positive standpoint. Instead, I want to talk about this issue from the perspective of a student event-organizer at a university; I want to touch upon the process of organizing events and what that entails. Bringing in speakers isn’t easy, especially if you’re at state-sponsored institutions and trying to book people who are in some way “radical” or just not mainstream. I’m privileged because I attend a private institution that, in many ways, is very pro-student and fiercely + eloquently defends our freedom of expression and education (if the way administrators handled last year’s KinkForAll Providence, Get Your Heart On: Sex Educator Showdown, and Sex Week 2010 issues with cranky conservative critics is representative of this). For those reasons, and because of my passion for quality sexual education & frank discussion about these things, I use that privilege to the best of my ability. I organize dozens of events for my campus and the community at large (I aim to make all the events I coordinate open to the public), but I couldn’t do as much if I didn’t have the support of my peers and University.

Mind you, when I say support, I don’t mean Brown condones or accepts the things my speakers talk about, necessarily, but the University actively supports their RIGHT to say them and the importance of having a dialogue on campus–of showing different, empowering, and educational perspectives (many of which are also fun and very engaging, not just academic). Brown supports my rights as a student to be an activist, to fight for what I believe in, and to shape campus in various ways. For that, I am thankful. At the same time, I’m saddened that not everyone is in such a position. We see a case of this lack of support at OSU. From what I can see (and what I deduce), the organizers for the conference aren’t the ones who decided to last-minute cancel on Tristan; the decision came from higher-ups who feared retaliation from those who control their funds. It is this fear that drives many decisions regarding comprehensive sex-education, and while it’s a shame (and something I endeavor to help change), I can understand it. The job of a university administrator isn’t easy, and we must understand why sometimes they’re put in double-binds that force them to take actions like this one.

HOWEVER, organizers shouldn’t confirm events or speakers for which they do not have funds definitely secured (or means for securing them), especially in cases like this. Furthermore, event-planners should have enough self-awareness and knowledge of their institution’s policies to understand which speakers might be deemed “controversial” or “problematic,” know what the system could do to them (e.g. cancel an event) & why they would have reason to, and have plans to handle situations if they arise. In those cases where one is attempting to bring someone who could be criticized by the opposition and cause problems, it’s important to speak with university administrators and see what their stance is (ideally in writing!), so the ball doesn’t get rolling on something that will have to be canceled at the last minute. Still, shit happens, and sometimes universities cave, stomping all over students’ most carefully laid out plans in the process. In those situations, however, organizations (and universities) should be prepared to do SOME form of damage-control.

Honestly, my first question here would be “well, why were they planning on using the general fee dollars in the first place instead of the student activity dollars?”

While I’m not going to bash OSU for the decision to cancel Tristan’s talk (though I don’t agree with it, of course), I think it’s shameful that they’re not going to reimburse Tristan for the costs she has already incurred. While they hadn’t signed a contract, they had been in negotiations and told her everything was set, and to reserve her plane tickets. If OSU is going to uninvite her, the least the could do is reimburse her. That would at least leave them with some amount of grace and dignity; as it stands, however, OSU’s position is not one I can respect. Honestly, it’s clumsy and unprofessional. I only hope that they rethink this and make the right decision, or at least one that’s better than this one. While they may not be able to use general funds, there are many other ways to raise money, and the bodies responsible for booking Tristan should be responsible for figuring out a way to make this situation right.

Check out Tristan’s full press-release here.

***
Note from Tristan:
Don’t Let the Anti-Sex Conservatives Win!

If you support free speech and my mission of sexual empowerment, please voice your opinion about OSU’s decision to cancel my appearance at the last minute (and not reimburse me for travel expenses) to the following people. I would really appreciate your support —Tristan

Larry Roper
Vice Provost for Student Affairs
632 Kerr Administration Building
Corvallis, OR 97331-2154
541-737-3626 (phone)
541-737-3033 (fax)
email: larry.roper@oregonstate.edu

Dr. Mamta Motwani Accapadi
Dean of Student Life
A200 Kerr Administration Building
Corvallis, OR 97331-2133
541-737-8748 (phone)
541-737-9160 (fax)
email: deanofstudents@oregonstate.edu
twitter: @deanmamta

Dr. Edward J. Ray
President
600 Kerr Administration Building
Corvallis, OR 97331-2128
541-737-4133 (phone)
541-737-3033 (fax)
email: pres.office@oregonstate.edu

Sex Panic!: When Educators Are Censors

Sex Panic!: When Educators Are Censors
a panel and Q&A session moderated by 
Brown Professor of History and Brazilian Studies Jim N. Green,
author of Beyond Carnival: Male Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century Brazil

Free and open to the public!
Tuesday, May 4th @ 6:00 pm
in Smith-Buonanno Hall, Room 106 (View Map)
95 Cushing Street, Providence, RI 02906

This event is co-sponsored by: SHEEC and QCC

Panelists:
  • Aida Manduley: SHEEC Chairperson (that’s me!)
  • Megan Andelloux: Certified sexologist and sex educator
  • Reid Mihalko: Brown alum and presenter on sex and relationships 
  • Meitar Moscovitz: Community organizer and technology professional
  • Ricky Gresh: Senior director for Student Engagement at Brown University

What would you do if your organization were criticized for following through with its mission statement? What if you were publicly denigrated, misrepresented, and harassed for your work? What if educators themselves were trying to hamper your attempts at education

Finally, who should have a say in a college student’s sex education?

——————————————-

This panel has been born out of a need to discuss the role of students, educators, and institutions in regards to censorship, free speech, and the right to organize.

More specifically, this panel has been born out of one group of incidents that have spanned this entire semester. SHEEC: the Sexual Health Education & Empowerment Council, an organization which I not only chair, but CHERISH, has come under vicious attack due to some (if not most) of the events it has been sponsoring, coordinating, and organizing. Who have been the attackers? Primarily, Donna M. Hughes (Prof. of Women’s Studies at the University of Rhode Island) and Margaret Brooks (Brown alum and Prof. of Economics at Bridgewater State College). Other folks who have been involved? Melanie Shapiro, co-founder (along with Donna M. Hughes) of “Citizens Against Trafficking” and folks from the “Foundation for Intellectual Diversity,” a non-profit that is dedicated to funding the “underrepresented” ideas on the conservative end of the spectrum at Brown University.

We will briefly explain this ordeal at the panel, in the spirit of full transparency, and then we will delve deeper into other instances of censorship and moral panic so we can have a productive conversation about these issues. It’s an event that shouldn’t be missed, honestly. (If you’re curious and want to check out some back-story right now, though, feel free to peruse my SHEEC-tagged posts in this blog, which explain the matter/s and link to other sources of information.)

The event will focus on discussing censorship as it relates to sexual education and programming around sexuality issues because of the reasons why this panel came into being and because we hope to use the panelists’ experiences as “case-studies,” BUT we highly encourage EVERYBODY to attend, especially those who have had similar scary experiences with censorship or those who are curious because they don’t want to have it happen to them.

Come join us in our dialogue!

Though it’s open to the public, Brown students are especially encouraged to attend because we’ll discuss what Brown can do for YOU, and how Brown can protect your rights to hold events. This is CRUCIAL information, especially if you do any sort of “controversial” work on campus.

Also, in the spirit of bridge-building, communication, honesty, and all that good stuff, I personally invited the folks who have gone after me and my friends to the panel (and I’ve attached a copy of the email at the bottom of this post). So far, I haven’t received any sort of reply, which is very disappointing, although not terribly unexpected. Based on their track-record, it seems these people are not interested in any sort of conversation; they’re just out to bash individuals, censor comprehensive sexual education that acknowledges diversity, and shut down the things with which they don’t agree.

Perhaps they’ll surprise me on May 4th and attend the panel. It would be fascinating to finally see them in person, for once, and maybe have a chance to talk to them. All of this has gone on without them EVER asking me anything or directly contacting me–just paying eerily close attention to my online presence & SHEEC events and then criticizing, bashing, and lying about them behind my back. It seems they don’t acknowledge my humanity, or the humanity of the other people they have attacked and hurt with their mean-spirited campaigning, and that is really sad.

The worst part is, while we could ALL be spending time actually learning about and addressing the issue of trafficking & forced labor (because “sex-trafficking” is NOT the only issue here, or the only one affecting women; it is only ONE of the subsets of forced labor and human trafficking), we are instead caught in a web of animosity that distracts us from the REAL issues, confuses the public, and spreads inaccurate information. My friends and I are trying to make positive change in the world by educating and empowering people, while at the same time having to defend ourselves against harsh attacks by “educated” folks who conflate sex-work with sex-trafficking, equate kink and BDSM with slavery and abuse, purposefully lie and misrepresent those they see as “the enemy,” and deny women’s agency to make informed decisions because they somehow “know what’s best for them.”

Personally, based on the things I just highlighted, I think there are way more issues here than solely sexuality education and morality, don’t you think?

In short, I hope that if you CAN, you attend the panel.
I think everyone would benefit from hearing what we have to say and taking part in this discussion.




——————————————-


Open Letter to Melanie Shapiro, Margaret Brooks, and Donna M. Hughes:

Date: Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 11:38 PM
Subject: Invitation to Event at Brown University
To: melanieshapiro4@gmail.com, mbrooks@bridgew.edu, dhughes@uri.edu, dhughes71@cox.net

Dear ladies, Since you have shown persistent interest in the events I have coordinated and facilitated at Brown University through SHEEC (the Sexual Health Education & Empowerment Council), as the organization’s Chairperson, I cordially invite you to attend the next one: “Sex Panic!: When Educators Are Censors” on May 4th, 2010, at 6:00pm in Smith-Buonanno Room 106. I hope you will take this opportunity to constructively converse with myself and the other people whom you have publicly denigrated and misrepresented, as I feel it is deeply saddening and highly unfortunate that you are so eager to attack my organization and its events while refusing to engage with me or even do basic research about what it is that I do and promote.

Sincerely,

– Aida Manduley

Befriend Your Butt

My freshman year at Brown, I attended a public debate about SexPowerGod–the famous Brown University Queer Alliance dance/fundraiser made notorious thanks to Bill O’Reilly’s efforts. Anyway. Team pro-SPG had the two event coordinators for that Fall (2007): Kathryn Lamb and Robin Peckham. Team anti-SPG had Sean Quigley and Joshua Unseth (’09), two very vocal conservative students (in charge of right-wing organizations and publications on campus). While Quigley was (for the most part, as I recall) quite civil and used academic or intellectual arguments (though I disagreed with them because they were ALL based on the premise of a monolithic moral and religious code which does NOT ACTUALLY EXIST), Unseth was quite the opposite of civil.

I honestly think part of the reason he indulged in ridiculous theatricality was that he knew he was a minority in that debate, and so he decided to have “fun” while he was there. Regardless, it was highly unprofessional and I think that any moderates in the crowd were swayed to the pro-SPG side due to his antics. Anyway. One of his “shticks” was to call LGBTQ folks by “disparaging” names, such as rectal rangers, fudge-packers, carpet-munchers, and butt-pirates. Instead of being (just) insulted, I thought these were actually quite brilliant and pretty hilarious (if wielded appropriately and NOT like he was using them). Am I the only one who images “rectal-rangers” wearing super-hero costumes and flying around?

Anyway, this brings me to the point of this entry: let’s embrace this! I encourage everyone who reads this to explore their inner butt-pirate and get in on some anal play. After all, everyone has an anus! It doesn’t mean you have to love anal ANYTHING, or ever try it again, but at least give yourself the chance to explore the idea.

Many people are scared of anything going “back there,” and that’s why I’m here–to point you in the direction of good resources as you begin (or even consider) your rectal-ranger adventure. For now, I’ll leave you with a video that a friend shared with me today, of Nina Hartley (via here) talking about making friends with your butt and starting off slowly.

If you want more anally-focused info, check out Tristan Taormino & PuckerUp.

KinkForAll Providence: Clarified [Updated]

While I was planning KinkForAll Providence, I was contacted by Brown officials because a community member was emailing the University with concerns about the event. Though, as I found out, most of these concerns were alarmist and visibly laced with prejudice and ignorance about the event and many of the sexuality topics that we hoped to address, the University heard this individual out and I met with various Brown officials to discuss the points that had been raised. After speaking with me and making sure I was following the appropriate protocol (which I was already doing because I’m a very experienced event organizer at this institution), the Brown officials did not find a reason to cancel the event or do much else, other than closely review my plans and tell me to keep in communication with them before, during, and after the event.

That, however, was not the end of the saga. After KinkForAll was held on February 6th, and after Get Your Heart On: Sex Educator Showdown with Reid Mihalko (a Brown alum) and Megan Andelloux (a certified sex educator) happened on Valentine’s Day (co-sponsored by SHEEC, Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, Students for Choice, Queer Alliance, Sarah Doyle Women’s Center, and Brown Health Education), the emailing continued.

As I eventually found out, thanks to the Internet, this community member was someone by the name of Margaret (Barber) Brooks, none other than a Brown alum and professor of Economics at Bridgewater State College in MA. I was deeply saddened that a professor and Brown alum would go to the lengths she did to shut down a student event (or two, really), especially one aimed at creating a space where information about sexuality could be shared, a space where people could feel safe and empowered to discuss these issues without being judged. I appreciated her concerns and her desire to maintain Brown students and community members safe, but the overall manner in which she approached the situation was appalling. 

Aside from the emails, she and Donna M. Hughes, a URI professor, posted and widely circulated a bulletin about the event. The bulletin, however, was more about bad-mouthing my friend Maymay (the co-founder of the KinkForAll unconference model), spreading inaccurate information about KinkForAll Providence, and fear-mongering than actually addressing any real issues.

Did Margaret ever reach out to me, the event organizer? No.


Instead, she chose to contact Brown multiple times, even after the University officials responded with their final decision to allow SHEEC to make the events happen.

Did Donna ever reach out to me? I’ll give you one guess.

Neither of these individuals have engaged with anyone directly related to the events’ organization. Instead, they have paid eerily close attention to our blogs, Twitter accounts, Google-groups, and online presences and have then twisted the information found there to fit their agendas. They have spread inaccurate information (heck, they have spread flat out LIES) and incited other individuals to call us horrible things, such as sex-traffickers.

Because of this, and because I believe in what I do (and I want to be as transparent as possible), I wish to clarify certain things about KFA Providence. Though most (if not all) the information in this post is easily available on the Internet, I will attempt to make a concise summary of concerns and my responses/clarifications.



1. KinkforAll–model or organization?


KinkForAll is a conference model, not an organization. Simple as that. There are no “members” or general KFA “presidents.” Each KFA event is specific to that time, place, and set of organizers. As far as KinkForAll Providence goes, I can’t claim ownership of the MODEL, but I can claim responsibility for the drive and organization of that event.
2. KFA’s relation to Brown and who organized it

I was the main organizer, and my community co-organizer was Emma Gross. The sponsoring group was SHEEC. It’s insulting to hear people like Margaret (Barber) Brooks and Donna M. Hughes credit Maymay with organizing the event, because that was not the case. Personally, while I think May is an AMAZING human being (a-may-zing? wow, I just went there) and I appreciate his founding the KFA model, I feel my work is being invalidated and dismissed by these two women. Furthermore, I feel that one of the organizations I lead at Brown University, the one dearest to my heart, is being disparaged. This is all very unacceptable.

The idea that “No one is apparently in charge; therefore no one is responsible” is, again, insulting, because I was clearly in charge and SHEEC was the group responsible. If anything had gone wrong, it would have been our responsibility. 

Throughout the conference, we stated that the sponsor for the event was SHEEC, and that Brown was giving us access to the venue through that. This was said a few times, and in multiple rooms, and also during the live-stream. I also know that in CarnalNation, the language used was “held AT Brown,” which is accurate. Also, there were signs in the building explaining what the content was, where the livestream was, that the sponsor was SHEEC, and so on. Everything was carefully labeled.

In regards to us using Brown’s Wi-Fi and facilities, and arguments that these conditions make Brown a sponsor? By that logic, it would mean that ANY and EVERY event held on campus is “officially sponsored” by Brown University. This makes no sense, and is NOT aligned with Brown’s definition of sponsorship. In our communications, we weren’t using Brown’s name to make it sound “more legitimate” or anything; we merely had to use Brown’s name so that people would know where the conference was being HELD. Finally, GuestIDs are given to people who stay at the Brown Inn and people coming in for conferences, so this, again, was within their/our right to pursue.

3. Safety issues and children

This particular event would have never resulted in children being “approached, propositioned, or molested.” We took specific safety precautions to ensure the comfort of all our participants and to make sure that everything going on at the event was legal, consensual, safe, and in accordance to Brown’s policies and regulations, as evidenced by my meetings with Brown officials and the ridiculous amounts of signs and posters stating what was going on and what rules the attendees and presenters had to abide by. Furthermore, no minors were allowed at the conference unless they were there with a legal guardian or parent.
4. Extra rooms and “one Brown female undergraduate at the conference” that “appears to have engaged in a sexual activity at approximately 2:20 pm” 

Extra rooms, yes. I reserved them to make sure that all the people on the first floor were people we WANTED there, and who were explicitly coming for the conference instead of merely wandering in. We also had greeters at the door, time-keepers in the rooms, and people flowing in and out of presentations making sure things were going according to plan. In regards to small groups of participants going off by themselves into the extra rooms—I wandered around and people were always in rooms where presentations were actively going on; otherwise, the other rooms were empty. The only time when presentations were NOT going on was during lunch, from 1 to 2 pm, and we were on break. 

A Brown undergrad “engaging in sexual activity” at approximately 2:20…? What does that even mean?

There were NO SEXUAL ACTIVITIES TAKING PLACE AT OUR EVENT (unless you count DISCUSSIONS about sexuality) and we made it clear at the beginning of the event and on the venue rules in each room that no sex/nudity/play was allowed. 
5. Credentials of presenters
The public is welcome, and thus, we don’t require people’s credentials in, say, sexology or psychiatry when they want to present about a topic they’re passionate about. This conference is a place for people to speak candidly about sexuality from their own perspectives, and that is how we describe it. We do not in any way misrepresent who is attending and what they’ll be doing at KinkForAll.

6. Videos and livestream 
All the people who were videotaped either personally asked us to record them OR specifically chose to use Room 102, with the livestream. NO ONE was taped that did not consent to being taped; we had our sticker system (orange dot = do not tape), time-keepers, and organizers helping enforce this in every room. We made everyone who was going to take pictures be identifiable on their name-tag, and the people taking pictures were basically me and Meitar. There was a huge sign explicitly stating that there was a live-stream in room 102 and what that meant (for those people who were unfamiliar with the term “livestream”). Furthermore, there were signs ON the computer that was recording and all around it cautioning people that it was taping, so no one would accidentally walk into its line of vision (another reason why we angled it in such a way that it wouldn’t capture the doorway).
7. Meitar, KinkForAll, KinkOnTap podcast, and money

Meitar is the co-founder of the KinkForAll conference/model. He has organized some KFAs, but not all of them. Re: KinkOnTap podcast, Megan Andelloux and I were on as guests the day after KFAPVD, and a) this podcast is NOT personally making Meitar money at all because whatever donations they receive are for the funding of the program itself and b) the podcast is a separate entity that is not seeking to make money off KFA Providence. The podcast is separate and, yes, we mentioned KFAPVD, but that’s because we were talking about recent events and news items (such as the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy articles that have been floating around). The footage shot at KFAPVD is NOT being sold and is NOT being used commercially at all. In fact, quite the opposite. The mission statement of the KFA model is to make all this information FREELY available to everyone. That’s also the reason why the conference ITSELF is free; it’s one of the most important parts of the model! 

8. “Illegal sadist practices,” NELA’s Fetish Flea Market, and KFAPVD
As far as I know, discussing “illegal practices” is not illegal itself, or else no one could ever talk about, say, underage drinking. This conference is a place for critical analysis and discussion, where these topics can and SHOULD be addressed, especially when it comes to talking about their legal ramifications. Again, I invoke our right to free speech. As far as NELA goes, yeah, I HOPED to get BDSM advocates from across the country. The presenters at the Fetish Flea are highly respected in the community and have a lot of things to say, so they would’ve been more than welcome at our event. Also, for those of you who don’t know, NELA is  “an incorporated non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the support, education, and political organizing of the leather/fetish/SM/bondage communities in New England.”