The board and judges of the Sex-Positive Journalism Awards are proud to announce the winners of the 2009 Sexies. Selected from about 100 entries (not counting multiple nominations of the same piece!) submitted by both writers and readers, the winning entries cover subjects from teen pregnancy to conjugal visits, vaginal plastic surgery to prudish responses to public art. The winning articles come from all across the United States and Canada, and represent a range of genres, from news to advice columns.
What they all have in common, however, is that they succeed in embodying the Sexies criteria for sex-positive journalism far better than the vast majority of their counterparts, helping to improve the quality of dialogue around sex and create a more well-informed reading public. "Without clear-eyed, informed journalism about sexuality, the public runs the risk of seeing sex-related issues through a murky scrim of ignorance and biased attitudes. The Sexies help show the media-and the citizenry-how it can and should be done," says Carol Queen of the Center for Sex and Culture.
Here's the list of all the winners, with links to online versions of their stories where available, and comments from the judges. All entries were read by at least two members of the Sexies judges panel, including at least one with a journalism background.
The judges were: writer, speaker, educator and activist Carol Queen, PhD; journalist Kai Wright; journalist and 2008 Sexies winner Debbie Nathan; journalist Liza Featherstone; journalist and radio host Doug Henwood; journalist and 2008 Sexies winner Amanda Robb; sex educator and columnist for The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, Debby Herbenick, PhD, MPH; and writer, editor, and blogger Rachel Kramer Bussel. (Full bios.)
A note about the sex-themed publications category: After careful consideration by our judges, we have decided not to give awards in this category this year. The judges felt the quality of the submissions did not measure up to the work submitted last year. We started the Sexies primarily to give mainstream journalists encouragement and support for covering sexual topics in unsensationalistic honest fashion. We added this category to give some recognition to folks in the trenches who are writing for publications that devote themselves to this topic. We are immensely grateful to those writers and those publications, and yet we feel that when writing about sex is expected and not an achievement in itself, to be award-winning, a story must really push our boundaries and be risky and challenge even the assumptions of the sex-positive community. We look forward to receiving more pieces in that vein in the future. We know they're out there!
Thanks all the writers and readers who sent in entries (and apologies for the various delays). We encourage all of the writers who entered or were nominated to keep up their crucial work. Submissions for the 2010 Sexies (for articles published in 2009) are open and they will be accepted through June 2010 at www.sexies.org/submit.php
The Sexies would also like to thank our corporate sponsors, Babeland (founding sponsor), UltraVirgo Creative, and all of our individual donors. It's not too late to become part of that sex-positive number: www.sexies.org/support.html
Will Rockwell - $pread Magazine,
Audacia Ray - Sex Work Awareness (SWA),
Susan Blake - Prostitutes of New York (PONY),
Michael Bottoms - Sex Workers Outreach Project - New York City (SWOP-NYC),
With Craigslist’s recent announcement that its Erotic Services category will be discontinued within the week, hundreds of thousands of erotic service providers will become more vulnerable to dangerous predators. Eliminating erotic listings as Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and others propose will only drive us further underground.
Policing the masseuses, phone workers, pro-dominants, and escorts using Craigslist fails to protect those of us who are coerced into the sex industry. Preventing the use of Craigslist advertisements also eliminates the advantage of screening clients online, which makes for a safer work experience by filtering out potentially dangerous individuals. Furthermore, keeping us offline hinders police investigations of violent crime. In the Boston murder of Julissa Brisman, it was online tracking that enabled the police to identify the suspect. One has to wonder: are the Attorneys General examining the evidence or simply enforcing their moral values?
“Removing the erotic services category from Craigslist does not help prevent violence against escorts and other sex workers. It only pushes me and people like me out of the places where advertising is available,” said Jessica Bloom, a sex worker from Sex Workers Action New York (SWANK). In the face of increasing criminalization, we insist upon respect. As mothers, daughters, brothers, and members of your community, we claim that sex work is real work, work that we are entitled to conduct in safety. As such, we must be accorded the human right of full protection under the law.
**EDIT** an addendum. I just typed this up in response to a Facebook friend asking what he could do to help. Here are some suggestions:
You can totally help, mostly by speaking up and jumping into the fray!
Legislation about consensual adult sex work (not trafficking, coercion, or child prostitution) mostly happens on the state level - since you’re in NY, you can find your assembly person here: http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/ - write to him or her and tell them how you feel about the risks created and perpetuated by continued criminalizing of sex work and cracking down on advertising
Write letters to the editor of newspapers that publish misguided pieces about how the elimination of craigslist erotic services will “help” women
Comment on blog posts and online articles (if you’ve got the stomach for it!)
For immediate release: March 6, 2009
For more details: www.sexies.org.
Read anything in your local (or national) paper that reported on sex in a surprisingly informed, non-hysterical way? The Sex-Positive Journalism Awards want to know about it. Last's year's winners were selected from over 100 entries submitted by both writers and readers, and they covered subjects from sex in nursing homes, prostitution, and sex in Iran to Kink.com and panics over Internet sex. The winning articles were published in a dozen states in all corners of the United States (and one Canadian province), and represent a range of genres, from news to advice columns.
What they all have in common, however, is that they succeed in embodying the Sex-Positive Journalism Award's criteria (www.sexies.org/criteria.html) for responsible sex journalism far better than the vast majority of their counterparts, helping to improve the quality of dialogue around sex and create a more well-informed reading public.
But there's a long way to go. "Mainstream journalists are generally hopeless at covering sexuality. It's not entirely their fault, but it would be great if this award managed to offer both support to journalists who'd like to do a better job, as well as some needed legitimacy for the subject matter," wrote About.com's Sexuality Guide Cory Silverberg when the awards were first announced. "The media's frequent failure to apply balanced journalistic standards to sex-related topics affects real people's lives," adds Carol Queen, PhD, co-founder of the Center for Sex and Culture.
The winners of the 2009 Sexies will be chosen by an outstanding panel of judges, who have expertise in both journalism and sex-positive advocacy: Dan Savage, author of the popular sex-advice column "Savage Love"; Carol Queen, PhD, writer, speaker, educator, and activist with a doctorate in sexology; Debby Herbenick, PhD, MPH a research scientist and associate director for the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and sex columnist; and award-winning journalists Doug Henwood, Liza Featherstone, Amanda Robb, and Kai Wright. (See full bios at www.sexies.org/judges.html).
The Sexies will be given for articles in four categories: news, feature, opinion, and regular column, plus "unsexy" (the most egregious violation of the Sexies' criteria). Articles must have been published in 2008 (2009 articles can be submitted now for next year though) in an edited print or online publication in the U.S or Canada (personal blogs do not quality). Submissions are due by March 31, 2009. Both writers and readers can submit articles for consideration. For full guidelines see www.sexies.org/criteria.html. To make entries please use our entry form at www.sexies.org/submit.php
The Sexies' board is composed of journalists Miriam Axel-Lute and Doug Henwood, The National Coalition
for Sexual Freedom, The Center for Sex and Culture, and the Coalition for Positive Sexuality. We are sponsored by Babeland, UltraVirgo Creative and the David Weinbaum Memorial Foundation. We are seeking additional corporate sponsors and individual donations to support our mission. Donations can be made at www.sexies.org/support.html
The Sex-Positive Journalism Awards Criteria
We are seeking pieces of journalism that:
* touch on sexbsexual practice, health, or behavior--in some manner (stories just about sexual orientation do not qualify)
* are intended for a general audience
* meet high overall standards of reporting, fact-checking, and writing
and do at least one of the following:
* show evidence of fairness in seeking sex-positive sources to respond to sex-negative ones
* ask hard questions about the motivation and background of sources who rely on sex-negative soundbites
* avoid biased or sensationalistic language
* cover newsworthy topics, events, or issues that might tend to be swept under the rug because of controversial sexual content
* report accurately, respectfully and with nuance on sex research results
* contain fair, accurate, and non-sensational portrayals of sexual subcultures
* keep a clear separation between sex crimes, such as sexual assault or pedophilia, and things that merely make people uncomfortable, such as consensual kink, teen sexuality or gay priests; and help readers who may not be familiar with the issues make the distinction
* specifically challenge sex-negative assumptions or practices in society at large or in a specific community
* educate the public as to the diversity of sexual behavior without sensationalizing
* celebrate sexuality as a positive force in human lives
We are not looking for racy or sensationalistic stories. The awards will be something any traditional journalist should be proud to hang on his or her wallba testament to journalistic standards of fairness and accuracy about a charged and controversial subject.
March 10, 2009 - The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) is a proud member of the Stop the Arrests Coalition. Spokesperson Susan Wright has participated in organizing meetings and spoke out at the Sheridan Square Rally on February 21st, 2009, against the false arrests of gay men and professional Dominatrices for prostitution.
There is good news from a meeting on March 6th with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly pledging to curb the stings against gay men (see articles below). NCSF is continuing to press for a cessation of arrests of professional Dominatrices, and has written to Commissioner Kelly to ask for a meeting about the NYPD's change in policy after 14 years of legal operation, which has resulted in a number of arrests of Dominatrices and owners of BDSM houses since Fall 2007.
NCSF opposes the prosecution of pro-dominants under prostitution laws. Consenting adults engaging in safe, sane, consensual SM, fetishes, and cross-dressing services do not pose legitimate health or safety issues for local communities. What these adults agree to do in private is no one else's business.
Members of the Stop the Arrests Coalition include: Queer Justice League, Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, Sex Workers Outreach Project, Urban Justice League's Sex Worker Project, and FIERCE New York.