A Lesson on Sex Shaming: Oregon State University & Tristan Taormino’s Porn

by Jiz Lee on / Goals and Ideas

Chances are, if you know me, you know Tristan Taormino. Though HOW you know of her may vary. You may know her from her extensive career as an author and editor. Or you may know her from her numerous sex education and relationship workshops, and speaking and keynote presentations throughout the world. And, you may have been introduced to her from one of her many explicit and educational adult titles, the most recent of which, “Experts Guide to Female Orgasm“, I have participated in.

My path to Tristan was through her book on alternative relationships entitled “Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships“.  I loved it and valued it as a resource so much, that I bought six copies. (A copy for each of my lovers, and their lovers.) I then attended her San Francisco workshop she lead on the subject, and a few years later ran into her at the AVN Awards where her films are recognized and soon after found the two of us at the Feminist Porn Awards (where she was given a Lifetime Achievement Award and honored as “Trailblazer” and I with “Boundary Breaker!”) discussing a shoot! My experience with her has and continues to be one of profound respect and loving care. She’s brilliant at everything she does and deserves every ounce of praise and acknowledgement. A true leader and one that I cannot recommend enough.

So when I learned of the poor decision Oregon State University to reject student organizers’ allotment of funds to have her present as their Keynote Speaker at conference called “Modern Sex: Privilege, Communication, and Culture“, I was extremely disappointed in the irony and sexual shaming by the decision of an educational and public institution using prejudice against pornography as a reason to decline funding. The university sites that the funding comes from taxpayers as a reason to reject the payment, however there is nothing criminal about pornography; it is legal and as statistics would imply, MANY taxpayers are porn consumers. Tristan notes: “the reason my appearance was cancelled was because of my involvement in pornography, which does make this a free speech issue.” I’m really glad she brought up free speech, because it points exactly what the larger issue is, and exactly why it is so important that she attend and speak.

“Reducing my life’s work to my work in pornography is a reflection of our anti-sex, anti-porn culture. It is a clear statement that a woman like me, who once performed in and currently produces and sells pornography, is not worth being paid for my time or expertise, regardless of my qualifications or what I have to say. It perpetuates the idea that working in the sex industry is shameful and negates all my other work outside the industry.”

You can read her entire statement and keep up to date on the status of the school’s decision in her post on the OSU Press Release. Another presenter at the sex conference, Tobi Hill-Meyer also has a great post on the subject, as does notable sex educator Charlie Glickman. And Tristan’s post keeps a linked list of a growing count of articles speaking to feminism and freedom of speech topics surrounding the issue.

Personally, I am thrilled to see that the students are organizing to bring Tristan to campus regardless of the faculties sex-negative decision. I hope this becomes a learning experience for everyone involved, so that future Universities can open their doors to important (and undoubtedly academic) dialog about sexuality.

UPDATE!
Students at Oregon State University have come together to raise money for Tristan to appear and deliver her originally planned talk, “Claiming Your Sexual Power”, presented by The OSU Memorial Union. In addition, she will be speaking at the University of Oregon on the topic, “My Life As a Feminist Pornographer,” and will also be at She Bop. Here’s her Press Release. I’m so glad that students pulled through and sex-positive messages will prevail.

Jiz Lee

7 Replies to “A Lesson on Sex Shaming: Oregon State University & Tristan Taormino’s Porn”

Rick Umbaugh

Great blog…It is an unfortunate fact that sometimes someone has to be hurt to get the kind of activism going that changes things. While this may not reach the scale of Rosa Parks going to jail for not giving up her seat in Montgomery, it is certainly analogous. I share your hope that this will lead to more open dialogue about sex positivity.

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Topsy.com

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jiz Lee and The Curator, Lustri. Lustri said: RT @jizlee: Chiming-in, via blog, my hopes that @oregonstateuniv learns a lesson about sex-shaming. http://ow.ly/3I3gs (@tristantaormino) […]

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Jess

Hey Jiz, I just saw you speak at Mills. I brought up this post in the Q&A session, but I don’t feel like my question was completely answered. I am glad that Charlie spoke eloquently about the current event to the Mills community; what I really want to know, though, is what community leaders, like yourself and others on the panel tonight, would like to see this generation do, regarding opening doors to “important dialog about sexuality,” to use your words. Thank you so much for this post (and many like it!) and your presence tonight.

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No Designation

[…] pure as a reason to reject payment actually brings up more concerns than it resolves. First, as Jiz Lee points out: “there is nothing criminal about pornography; it is legal and as statistics would imply, […]

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Sara

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. While I have looked over the attendees for the OSU Modern Sex Conference, I have not decided to commit to attending. As a California born new transplant to Oregon as graduate student at OSU, I was at first delighted that the Woman’s Center was doing more than having afternoon tea gatherings to discuss discourse in this small gentrified town and providing a source of education regarding Modern Sex and Privilege. This conference, which is including the workshop on the “secret life of sex toys” and “porn as a feminist tool” must see Tristan as a controversial and used the “porn excuse”, ie: it is ok to utilize it but not make it? However, the conference line up appears to highlight the transgender community and changing the male perspective on woman in the modern day, the headliner’s speech title, “how sexism effects men, acting like a man in the 21st century” does not scream show my ‘wife’ how to dominate me in bed while providing me the best anal fisting ever! (or does it?) While a sex positive, confident, woman like Tristan can educate men and woman on sexual pleasure, her fit for this crowd might not be seen as enough the middle of the road. The OSU BEAVERS (the mascot) are viewed as working class middle America people, and non-mainstream communities here are difficult to find. Perhaps Corvallis is screaming for you and Tristan to be here, but don’t have the words and the silencing effect is the largest voice. Oregon is like stepping back in time, “dream of the 90’s is alive in Portland” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZt-pOc3moc
so the vision is not quite there. I would love to see Tristan here and will do my best to convince the powers that be.

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Jed Worthen

I was lucky enough to see both of Tristan’s speech’s. The one at University of Oregon “My Life As a Feminist Pornographer” was especially great. Maybe I’m mistaken but my understanding was that the “Feminist Pornographer” speech was supposed to be given at OSU. The “Claiming Your Sexual Power” was a extra/backup after the OSU administration canceled on her & the students invited her on their own. Really unfortunate for all the OSU students that didn’t/couldn’t make it to Eugene. Sort of surprised seeing as how Benton County (OSU campus located) a few years ago quit issuing marriage licenses in protest of gays & lesbians not being able to wed. Although Eugene (Lane County) has the reputation as the more left/liberal/progressive/LGBTQ friendly of the 2 areas of the state. Although both less so than Portland. Can’t wait to watch “Experts Guide to Female Orgasm“ to see your performance! Also agree that Opening Up is amazing! So is The Ethical Slut 2nd edition.

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