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Monday, April 26, 2010

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?

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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.




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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

4 comments:

Bill Hartwell said...

I doubt that the people you've so cordially invited will bother to attend. After all, they know THE TRUTH (tm), so why should they be bothered with mere facts? If I were anywhere near Brown, I'd attend, just so there'd be one more friendly face in the crowd. But, since I can't, here's my vote of confidence in you and what you're trying to do despite the chatterers.

mz. aida said...

That means a lot. :) Thanks!

And yeah, I doubt they'll attend, but I'm up for being surprised. We'll see what happens!

Sequoia Redd said...

Did Ms. Hughes and Co. attend the event?

mz. aida said...

Nope, they didn't attend, but they may have checked out the livestream from the comfort of their own homes. Who knows!