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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tristan Taormino keynote speech at Oregon State University Modern Sex conference canceled because of "resume and website"

I'm reposting this press release in full because I am horrified by this. Tristan Taormino is my friend, mentor, editor and is a consummate professional. You can read below and see on her website the places she's spoken. She is one of the smartest people writing, thinking and talking about sex today and not only is this utterly unprofessional but these students are missing out on the chance to hear her talk. And, while this was a keynote, I think I can safely say that there is usually room for discussion. This is super fucked up. Aside from the broken promises aspect, the idea that students cannot handle discussion of sexuality and think for themselves is insulting to them. "Claiming Your Sexual Power," while not a talk I've personally heard Tristan give, is something that I think would be of interest to plenty of college students, and at the very least give them room for thought. I'm so sick of people acting like sex is some horrific thing that we should never talk about in public and um, hi, look at the conference speakers. Veronica Monet, who, OMG, wrote a book called Sex Secrets of Escorts: What Men Really Want. Please note: I'm not saying sex work advocates should be uninvited, just that that rationale makes absolutely no sense in the context of a conference about sex. Oh! And look what you can still attend:

Porn as a Feminist Tool

Tobi Hill-Meyer

In response to the sexism and other oppressive themes in porn, some create porn to fit how they think it should be. In this workshop, watch clips and examples of feminist, queer, and counter-culture porn, and hear about the ways this body of work is influencing people for the better.

Tobi Hill-Meyer won the Feminist Porn Award for Emerging Filmmaker 2010 for her groundbreaking film, Doing it Ourselves: The Trans Woman Porn Project, the first porn film by and for trans women. She is also a writer and activist, frequently involved social and political campaigns.


You can follow Tristan on Twitter and RT there, and also write to the people at the bottom of this press release. I'm reposting it in full; usually when I repost, I use ital, but this is long, so I'm not.

SEX EDUCATOR AND SPEAKER TRISTAN TAORMINO, SET TO GIVE CONFERENCE KEYNOTE, UNINVITED BY OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY BECAUSE OF HER ‘RESUME AND WEBSITE’

January 19, 2011

Contact:
Tristan Taormino
tristan@puckerup.com

Award-winning author, columnist, sex educator, and filmmaker Tristan Taormino was set to be the keynote speaker at Oregon State University’s Modern Sex conference, scheduled for February 15-16, 2011. Yesterday, she was uninvited by a university representative, who cited her resume and website as the reason.

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.

Taormino’s resume includes her seven books on sex and relationships, the 18 anthologies she has edited, numerous television appearances from CNN to The Discovery Channel, and her award-winning adult films. She was a columnist for The Village Voice for nearly ten years and has given more than 75 lectures at top colleges and universities including Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Brown, NYU and Columbia. Her website, puckerup.com , includes sex education information, advice, and information about the films she directs for Vivid Entertainment, one of the largest adult companies in the country.

“In my ten years of booking Tristan at colleges and universities, of course there has been some controversy. But I have never had a university cancel like this last minute,” says Colten Tognazzini, Taormino’s manager. “It’s not unusual for contract negotiations to drag on. Once they confirmed we should book her travel, I felt comfortable the event was a done deal. I continued to work with them in good faith that a signed contract would be forthcoming. I believe that the conference organizers’ hands are tied, and this decision came from much higher up. They have cancelled with less than a month’s notice during Tristan’s busiest season. She gave up other opportunities to go to Oregon. Without a signed contract, we may have no recourse, and were told we will not be reimbursed for her travel.”

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.”

“I’m extremely disappointed that OSU has decided to cancel my appearance. I’ve been protested before, but never uninvited. I have never misrepresented who I am or what I do. I am proud of all the work I do, including the sex education films and feminist pornography I make,” says Taormino. “The talk I planned to give at this conference, titled “Claiming Your Sexual Power” has nothing to do with porn, but the porn is such an easy target for anti-sex conservatives and censors. I find it ironic that one of the missions of the conference is to understand diverse perspectives of sexuality. Apparently, my perspective—one of educating and empowering people around their sexuality—isn’t welcome at OSU.”

If OSU students and others still want to hear Taormino speak, she will be teaching two workshops at She Bop in Portland on February 13 and 14. “She Bop supports a healthy perspective on sex and sexuality and we are proud to have Tristan Taormino present two years in a row at our shop in Portland. Tristan is a leading educator paving the way for others to help break down the stigma around sex in this country. It is part of our mission as a female friendly adult shop to support sexual empowerment and growth,” say co-owners Jeneen Doumitt and Evy Cowan.

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