Hi there Feministe community! I’ll be guest blogging here for the next two weeks, so I’m kicking it off with a bit of an introduction to my work and my perspective.
I’m celebrating my fifth anniversary as a blogger tomorrow – my blogging started with my site Waking Vixen, which initially was my designated space to explore issues around sexuality in both the personal (aka explicit sex blogging) sense and the political/professional/activist senses. Not to get all mushy about it, but blogging has really been a defining thing in my life – I don’t think my life would look even remotely the way it does now without it. And what, exactly, does my life look like?
Well: I’m a white cisgendered bisexual/queer woman, a former sex worker, and a sexuality rights activist with geek and history nerd tendencies. I live in New York and have for the past 10 years, and that geographic and cultural fact has very much shaped my worldview.
I work full time as the Program Officer for Online Communications and Campaigns at the International Women’s Health Coalition. At IWHC I run a blog, Akimbo, which features writing and videos on sexual and reproductive rights and health around the world, written by staff members plus partners and colleagues of IWHC, especially in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Prior to working at IWHC my focus was very much on domestic issues, and it’s been a real eye-opener and a kick in the ass to think about sexual and reproductive health and rights in very different contexts than my own. It’s spurred me to think a lot, too, about the peculiar and often problematic relationships that feminists in the global north have to women and youth in developing nations (and that’s one of the things I plan to write about a bit here).
As I mentioned above I’m a former sex worker and I’ve become intensely involved in the sex worker rights movement over the past several years. I was an executive editor of $pread magazine from 2005-2008 and left the mag to co-found Sex Work Awareness, where I do media training, advocacy, and capacity building for sex workers. Our big project, which looks like it will happen once a year (of course depending on funding), is a media training workshop called Speak Up!. Our public eduction project Sex Work 101 is a resource for people who want to understand a bit more about the sex industry and the people who work in or are affected by it. In addition to all this stuff, I’m about to launch a monthly reading series in NYC called Sex Worker Literati – the first one is August 6th.
A few more things and then I’ll wrap this up: I wrote a book called Naked on the Internet: Hookups, Downloads, and Cashing In on Internet Sexploration (Seal Press, 2007), and I directed/produced a Feminist Porn Award-winning feature porn film called The Bi Apple. I’m also an adjunct professor at Rutgers University, Newark, where I teach a Human Sexuality course to undergraduates. You can view the syllabus and follow links to most of the readings and videos for the course here. So, that’s my work in a nutshell.
I have a few things in mind that I’m planning to blog about over the next two weeks, but if anything I’ve talked about here particularly strikes your fancy or raises questions for you and you’d like to hear more about it, please let me know either in comments or via email: aray [at] iwhc.org. You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook if you want to chat me up elsewhere.
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