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Clarisse Thorn is a Chicago-based, feminist, sex-positive activist and educator. Personal blog at; follow her on Twitter @clarissethorn; you can also buy her awesome book about pickup artists or her awesome best-of collection, The S&M Feminist.
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11 Responses

  1. Shaun
    Shaun April 13, 2011 at 10:09 am |

    We need more posts like this.

  2. Lisa
    Lisa April 13, 2011 at 10:48 am |

    Great post, and a powerful last line. Thank you.

  3. placenta sandwich
    placenta sandwich April 13, 2011 at 10:57 am |

    Thank you for writing this. I really appreciate an emphasis on community activism (whatever one’s “community” might be) and what it can achieve where “official” but outsider organizations might not. The big question for me is how to keep the resource differential from constantly pushing small-scale groups to seek assistance/partnership that might, in the end, overwhelm and assimilate them.

  4. j.cruel
    j.cruel April 13, 2011 at 11:22 am |

    I find this post inspiring and problematic. I am a (born) working-class woman who adjuncts at a University and waits tables (and is, supposedly, working on my dissertation). I live hand to mouth but do so with a great deal of privilege. You say I’m part of a community–but I’m not. I would love to help. I frankly want nothing more than to be of use but I have no skills and no ties to any community beyond my (very) small circle of friends. I have been lucky enough to never have experienced sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual harassment, body dysmorphia, etc…I feel useless. I’ve done volunteer work but it never seems to “mean” anything. I can’t fathom that I’m the only person that feels outside of “community” but I just don’t know what to do about it.

  5. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin April 13, 2011 at 11:59 am |


  6. Demimonde
    Demimonde April 13, 2011 at 3:35 pm |

    @ J Cruel- I was similarly effected by this article. I am a student and living very much hand to mouth. But do not overlook the skills you have, sometimes just being a precense is a positive thing. You do not mention your field, but even if you could help clean or volunteer stufffing envelopes that is a help. Also, your skills as a server would be appreciated at fundraising events or soup kitchens.

    I have been meaning to look into volunteering at a local organization that helps children who have lost a parent. I lost both my parents to cancer as a girl. I also suffer from depression and anxiety. I have always told myself that I would help “when I got healthy.” Instead I called this group and will be helping out by cleaning their center once a week. This is a community I know first hand and am lucky in that their center is tucked away within walking distance to me. No more excuses for me, every little bit helps.

  7. Lu
    Lu April 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm |

    That is a great point, Demimonde. Just doing stuff that needs to be done so that good organizations don’t have to sweat all the small things is a wonderful contribution. J.cruel, I don’t want to sound like a Pollyanna, because I’m not a very communal person, but just by being human you have so much in common with anyone who needs help. I’m sure that you have something to offer. :)

  8. Ben
    Ben April 13, 2011 at 6:04 pm |

    Good point “You are probably already part of more communities than you might realize.”

    So many people knew to organizing, new political candidates, and others really some have some the greatest contacts because chances are that their networks are untapped while they will tell you otherwise!

    People who are just getting started in activism can make a real difference within their social networks.

  9. mightywo
    mightywo April 13, 2011 at 7:28 pm |

    Thank you for writing this post. I have been thinking of making some life changes recently due to being in a job that does not inspire me and that makes money for people that I do not respect and who do not respect me. It is wonderful to be reminded that although we are not able to control many of the circumstances in our lives, we may have the ability to add meaning to our lives and to the lives of others. If the government decides that it is acceptable to bargain away women’s control over their own lives and to remove social safety nets from the elderly and the differently abled, we must, absolutely must!, ban together to work to fix these injustices. It may not be easy and the best path not always clear, but thoughtful, intelligent people have changed the course of our nation and around the world before.
    Thank you for inspiring me today.

  10. LuLu
    LuLu April 21, 2011 at 3:47 pm |

    It’s been 30 years. We are long overdue for a solution! Please support re:solve AIDS and the Chronic Disease Fund.

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