Author Archives: courtney

Sex Conference Un-invites Keynote Speaker For Being Too Racy?

Tristan Taormino was scheduled to keynote the upcoming Modern Sex conference hosted by Oregon State University, with a talk entitled “Claiming Your Sexual Power.”tristan-taormino.jpgThis past Monday, January 17th, university administrators decided to refuse funding for her talk and the conference was forced to cancel her appearance – after she had already purchased airline tickets on the promise of being reimbursed, which presumably won’t be happening.

When the news hit the blogosphere the following day, the university was silent on their reasoning and have not yet released a statement regarding the cancellation. The university communications person I spoke with informed me that the appointed spokesperson was sent out of town for most of the day and when I did eventually get in touch with him he was not prepared to offer a response. I’ll update this post with a response when I receive one.

The only information from OSU has come from anonymous sources who Tristan reports having spoken to who oppose the decision but are afraid to say so publicly for fear of their job security. One of those sources did, however, state that the decision was because of her “website and resume.”

It leads me to question, if a resume of authoring seven books on sex and relationships, editing 18 anthologies, numerous television appearances, 75 university lectures, and a variety of awards for her writing, sex education, and filmmaking is cause for rejecting an already booked speaker, what kind of keynote was the university expecting for a conference about sex?

There is speculation that the reason for the cancellation is due to her work in the porn industry. If so, the university has overstepped significantly in this case. First off, the talk is not about porn whatsoever and to make hiring decisions based on a contractor’s other unrelated employment sets a dangerous precedent around academic freedom. Secondly, if there was ever a conference where it is appropriate to invite a feminist pornographer to talk about their work, it would be a feminist conference titled Modern Sex. And finally, to turn away a feminist pornographer while allowing Playboy to annually spend a week on campus recruiting for the “Hottest Girls of the Pac-10″ smacks of a horrific double standard.

The ironic part is that while Tristan’s speech was not about feminist porn, I will be presenting at the conference on that exact topic – and showing clips. I suppose the difference is that because as a workshop presenter I won’t be getting paid, that means they couldn’t simply cancel the funding.

Tristan’s press release, quoted below, includes three different university administrators to contact for those who would like to take action on the issue.

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

Update: the OSU finally has responded. As reported on The Portland Mercury’s blog:

University spokesman Todd Simmons says the school is “committed to free speech and open discussion” but that the higher-up administration did not get a clear picture of all of Taormino’s work when the contract was originally okayed. The school decided it wasn’t financially prudent to “use taxpayer funds to bring in a speaker who is a self-described pornographer and has a significant online business selling pornography.” The other speakers in the conference, he says, are presenting for free, so there’s no issue about use of money.

“I expect if the funders of the event had a complete picture of her work, the invitation wouldn’t have been extended to begin with,” says Simmons, who heard that her contract was for $3,000. Taormino is out that money, but the school says it will reimburse her for travel costs since she already bought her ticket out here to speak at the school.

It seems true that this is just about money, but that’s quite an assumption for the OSU to make. The University claims that they’d expect “the funders” would not wish to contract with a pornographer, but did they ever ask them? Who are the funders? Can we ask them? What do the students think? Can we ask them? And ultimately, this means that academic speakers and lecturers will now be subject to a purity litmus test before being deemed worthy of contributing to the free and open discussion — even for a conference on sex and sexuality.

Doing it Ourselves Background Vision

DIO Trailer (hi res)This was written a few years ago when I first started casting for Doing it Ourselves.  It’s been posted on handbasketproductions.com since then, but I’m about to redesign the website so it makes sense to archive it here.

 

Background and Context

Mainstream pornography is a field rife with criticism about sexism, racism, objectification, and exploitation.  There is also a fairly strong history of activists confronting these issues by stepping up to make porn that better suits a feminist and oppression-aware perspective.

Most people are aware that the mainstream representation of “girl-on-girl” pornography is often considered “fake” lesbians.  Such representations include a variety of inaccuracies and stereotypes.  But the problem does not rest with the performers.  In fact, many actresses who do “girl-on-girl” are lesbian, bi, or queer, however, they rarely have any decision making power.  Straight men produce the porn for a straight male audience that thinks of the actresses only in terms of fulfilling a fantasy.  The performers must conform to the unrealistic expectations of the straight male imagination or get another job.

In response to that, there is now a decent infrastructure for queer-woman-made porn that offers everything “girl-on-girl” does not.  It has real people, real emotions, real sex.  There is even a recent growth in trans men-made porn.  Yet trans women in porn are still represented only within mainstream porn production that is constricted by unrealistic expectations about what a trans woman is and a society that regularly sees trans women only as a more objectifiable kind of woman.

Having been in mainstream trans women porn myself, I know just how unrealistic it is.  While I appreciated the individuals I worked with, I resented being referred to in derogatory terms, requirements that my body perform on command, and being asked to do things that are physically impossible for many trans women but have become standard in the industry.  I felt like I had to strip away every symbol of my queerness and do my best to mimic the way trans women and women in general are thought of in male fantasy.

The opportunity for something better has existed for some time.  For one reason or another, trans women are virtually never represented in dyke- or trans men- made porn, and trans women have not begun directing porn themselves.

 

Vision

This particular set of circumstances and moment in history creates an opportunity to make great change.  I envision creating a film that continues the tradition of minorities reclaiming imagery of their own sexuality.  I hope this film will begin fill the void of feminist, oppression aware, and trans woman-made porn and be sold on store shelves that.  To my knowledge, this is the first film of it’s kind.

The creation of this film has been guided by a vision where trans women represent themselves and have the support and freedom to do so accurately, which aims to shatter the stereotypes and misconceptions about trans women’s sexuality that exist in queer communities, and show how hot trans women and their partners can be.  And hopefully, this project will open the door to the possibility of many others like it.

Doing it Ourselves – Different Editions

More random information about the Doing it Ourselves film placed here to be archived:

In true DIY fashion, the first two production runs of this film were done at home and with the help of a local copy shop.  However, it took over half an hour per copy to produce and was simply not sustainable for a larger production.  The third production run was done by professional disc manufacturer, JenCo.  As the technique was refined and errors corrected, you may notice a few interested differences.  Those interested in earlier runs as collector’s items may specifically request an earlier production run in the special instructions section of an order.

First Production Run

Cover: Uses a previous name Drew Deveaux used and approximate runtime.

Disc label: Aprx runtime, 1 5/8″ white circle in middle

Video: Contains a minor error, where the transition clip between scene 1 and 2 would cut off after 48 seconds. It was burned at 4x speed on high quality Taiyo Yuden DVDs

Availability: 50 copies were produced. 40 have been distributed.

Second Production Run

Cover: Includes announcement of Tobi having won the Emerging Filmmaker Award from the Feminist Porn Awards on front; spine says “2 discs”; back includes full runtime details, audio and encoding information.

Disc label: Final runtime, 1 3/8″ white circle in middle

Film Contents: Error was corrected, same high quality DVD and burning style.

Availability: 130 copies were produced.  114 copies have been distributed.

Third Production Run

Cover: The same as the second edition, but slighty darker due to using a different printer

Disc label: no white circle in the middle at all.

Video: same content as second edition, but on a stamped DVD9 (dual layer) instead of burned DVD5.  The extra space on the disc was used by increasing the video quality.  Also, by being stamped instead of burned, the disc itself should be more resistant to damage and last years longer.

Availability: 1040 copies were produced, and all orders are currently being filled from this production run.

Happy International Fisting Day!

To celebrate I went out and got my first tattoo! I’ve actually been sitting with and refining this tattoo design for quite a while when I heard the call for action on International Fisting Day and decided to finally move forward with it.

I first created the fist design back in the summer of 2010 when I was working on the logos for the Radical Gender Resistance and the Androdyke Brigade for my film, The Genderfellator. When the screenprinter I was working with decided to go on vacation at the last minute, however, the design never made it into the film. So I sat with it, and decided to use it for my own version of the classic raised fist in the feminist symbol design.

Fisting is pretty significant to me. It’s a powerful way to connect with a partner, and to feel someone all around me like that can be breathtaking. And while plenty of straight folks engage in fisting, there’s something about it that feels pretty queer to me.

This symbol also represents the direction my activism faces. By shifting the positioning of the fingers in the fist it shifts from a tool of violence (which certainly has its places) to a tool of giving pleasure. As cheesy as it sounds, long ago I realized that it’s not my path to change the world with an angry fist in the air, but to leave my mark through love, caring, and positive sexuality. Sexual revolution is not solely a transformation of sexual ethics influenced by our politics, but a transformation of politics influenced by our sexual ethics. Step by step, fuck by fuck, things are changing. This mark on my body represents my commitment to that change.