SECOND SEX WAR Exhibition Explores Gender Identity in VR Pornography

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The SECOND SEX WAR exhibition by Sidsel Meineche Hansen uses an Oculus Rift and three-dimensional (3D) animations to explore how gender is reproduced in virtual reality (VR) sex videos.

Hansen is well known for her exhibitions and seminars that review the body and its industrial complex. Her latest exhibition, commissioned by Gasworks, London, uses common sexual representations of the female form to highlight the polarity of gender in adult content currently available for virtual reality.

Rob Sharp from Artsy described the exhibit:

“Looking down while wearing an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, the viewer sees a computer-generated torso gyrating erotically around an abstract shape. Pulsating music blasts in the background as the camera angle automatically shifts to view a sexualized avatar’s unmistakably female face.”

SECOND SEX WAR refers to the feminist sex wars of the 1970s and 80s when the nature of explicit content was under debate. While a large slice of feminists believed women’s bodies were being exploited by the patriarchy, others considered female nudity an empowering aspect of free speech. Hansen’s latest work adds a fresh perspective. She subscribes to neither view presented in the sex wars, and instead, offers an alternative.

Read the full piece at Future of Sex. 

Image via: myvirtuallady

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HerSwab Lets Women Test Themselves for Cervical Cancer and HPV

Detect sexually transmitted infections from the comfort of your own home.

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Cervical cancer is the 14th most prevalent cancer in the world. According to the World Health Organization, the disease affects 530,000 women each year and takes 275,000 lives.

However, it is the easiest cancer to prevent among women when proper screening and follow-up take place. Lesions found via pap smears can be treated before they become cancerous, and early stage cervical cancer can be managed relatively well. The crucial factor in stopping the disease is to find it before it reaches an advanced stage.

Many women affected don’t have access to sexual health care. Without being regularly tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), they are at risk of becoming infertile or developing cervical cancer.

Even those of us with access to sexual health care often aren’t tested as regularly as we should be. Pap smears and STI tests aren’t fun. They can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Many women are reluctant to be tested for fear of judgement and discrimination from their doctors.

That’s why Jessica Ching, co-founder of Toronto-based sexual health startup Eve Medical, createdHerSwab. While speaking with women about an upcoming appointment, she was prompted to find an alternative way to manage sexual health.

Read the full piece at Future of Sex. 

Image source: Manuel Medina

New Background Check Technology can Thwart Sexual Violence and Harassment

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Facial recognition and text analysis are preventing women from meeting attackers.

There was no way for Katia to know the man she’d met online was planning to rape her. Like many women using online dating apps and websites, she was cautious and did everything right.

On the night of their first date, the college graduate told her mother and best friend where she would be. She presumed safety in the public locale of a city bar, and she was right, for a time.

Katia continued to see the man, text him, and speak to him on the phone. Having gained her trust, he was privy to her home address. It wasn’t until after the fourth date that things started to go wrong.

One night the man she’d met online, and had considered up until that point to be a “cool guy,” showed up at her apartment with a bottle of wine laced with Rohypnol and raped her.

Katia was beaten and threatened at knifepoint in a five-hour aggravated rape and assault. Despite surviving the ordeal, her life was torn apart. And sadly, even retrospectively, there had been no way to predict it—until now.

New and innovative reverse image searching

Named after one of the many victims of aggravated rape, KATIA aims to stop women from ever meeting an attacker. Responding to the flaws of traditional background checks, which require both first and last names, the program takes advantage of the assets women often have: pictures and text.

An evidence-based rape screening tool, the program uses two unique programming techniques with “R,” a statistical computer and graphics language, to highlight potential dangers.

Read the full post at Future of Sex.

Image source: NEC Corporation of America with Creative Commons License 

First U.S. Womb Transplant May Allow Infertile Women to Give Birth

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Trans women and men could one day become pregnant, too. 

Surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic have become the first in the United States to perform a uterus transplant. The nine-hour surgery took place on Feb. 24 when an organ from a deceased donor was successfully implanted into a 26-year-old patient.

If the trial’s success continues, it may give women born without a uterus, or who have had one removed due to uterine damage, their only chance to carry a child. This transplant is one of ten test procedures planned by the clinic.

The uterus, cervix, and part of the vagina are removed from the donor. Surgeons also remove the small blood vessels that are connected to the uterus. These vessels then connect the donor’s uterus to the patient’s larger blood vessels on the outside of the pelvis. If the patient still has fallopian tubes or ovaries, they are left unconnected.

Because of the nature of the transplant, it’s impossible for recipients to give birth naturally. They will have to wait a year after the procedure for their bodies to heal before starting in vitro fertilization (IVF). When ready, the baby is delivered via caesarean.

Like all transplants, the patient is required to take anti-rejection medication. Because of this, the uterus is removed after one or two babies have been born.

Read the full post at Future of Sex.

Image source: Eric Schmuttenmaer

 

 

Smart Jewelry to Protect Women from Sexual Assault

walking1Athena, a wearable smart device intended to protect women from assault, is the first product released by social justice innovators Roar for Good.

Easily clipped to bags or clothing, the piece of smart jewelry allows women a subtle way to call for help should they ever feel unsafe or threatened.

Pressing the button for three seconds causes Athena to emit a loud alarm while sending a distress message with its wearer’s GPS location to stored emergency contacts. The concave structure of the button prevents accidental alarms, and pressing the button quickly three times sends a silent message when its user is in need of discretion.

Roar for Good co-founder and Chief Executive Yasmine Mustafa explained the thought process behind the device’s capabilities in an interview with Her Philly.

“We talked to police and self-defense instructors and asked them what would work best in terms of a deterrent that can’t be used against the wearer,” she said. “Existing self-defense tools double as weapons and we learned women are afraid they’ll be overpowered and they’re own device would be used against them.”

Read the full piece at Future of Sex.

Image via Michael.

Biohackers Want to Save Lives with DIY Gynaecology

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Despite the achievements of feminism, thousands of women around the world remain deprived of safe gynaecological treatment. Sex workers, immigrants, and the uninsured are just a few who fall through the bureaucratic gaps that deny them life-changing service. However, a collective of biohackers and feminists aims to change this. By harnessing recyclable electronics and information sharing, this group of “Gynepunks” is riding the wave of do-it-yourself gynaecology.

Do-it-yourself-gynaecology isn’t a new idea. Conceived during the feminist movement of the 1970s, it was a response to both a lack of available services and the male-dominated field that women found onerous and judgemental.

Options at this stage were limited. Primarily, women learned about “gynaecological self-help” through feminist events and publications. After the cervical-self-exam took off in 1972, women became increasingly excited to learn about their bodies and how to treat them.

Read the full piece at Future of Sex

Image via National Eye Institute

The Value of a Comfortable Abortion

Untitled-e1447144340358When I was 19 I had an abortion. It was an obvious choice and one I’ll never regret. Fortunately, I lived somewhere where terminations were legal, accessible and safe. Still, the experience was in no way ideal.

My concern wasn’t ethics. Having been instilled with feminist beliefs from a young age, I knew better than to feel guilt or shame. It was the thought of the procedure that terrified me. I shuddered at the idea of stark white walls and clinical waiting rooms. The thought of entering a clinic seemed to me like crossing a threshold and handing over my ownership. I was a contradiction: this was what I wanted, but it intimidated me. For weeks I’d been living alone with the anxiety of my abortion. I wasn’t ready to give it away and make it real.

There were a lot of things I wasn’t prepared for. Protesters greeted me, throwing me immediately out of my comfort zone with their signs and pleas to ‘choose life’. In my head now things go differently. I say I did. I chose mine.

Read the full article at Feminartsy.

Image via Issara Willenskomer

On-Demand Sexual Health Apps Offer Peace of Mind and LGBT-Inclusive Products

Sexual health app Screet is getting a “super-queer reboot.”

Originally conceived during the 2015 Startup Bus Competition, a three-day bus ride/hackathon, the app spawned from a sleepy, 5am suggestion to create an “Uber for condoms.” But after learning the market had been filled by providers like L International and Durex, a group of innovators changed focus.

Instead, Screet co-founder Creatrix Tiara found a gap in on-demand sexual health products and contraception, specifically those aimed at women and members of the LGBT community. And although the original Startup Bus team has dissolved, Tiara is still fighting to make Screet the go-to place for inclusive, accessible products.

Read the full piece at Future of Sex.

Image via Tanay Mondal.

Could Virtual Reality Revolutionize Safety for Sex Workers?

29-year-old Ela Darling is taking back her power via virtual reality. Beginning as a teen model and librarian, the now co-founder of VR adult entertainment company VRtube [NSFW], and secretary of the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC) is making a keen dip into the world of holograms.

In this piece I explore the ways that virtual reality is enabling female performers to take control of their careers, safety and lives.

Read the full article at Future of Sex.

Image: brh_images

Musings: Sailor Moon, Feminism and Hangovers

patriarchyI kind of like being hungover. It simplifies things, reduces one’s priorities to a glass of water or a heavily focused food craving (today it was pasties). Goals are more attainable, satisfaction easier to reach. Silver linings.

I was half-conscious, gnawing on said pasty and scrolling through my news feed when a friend’s post told me it was International Sailor Moon Day. Ah! If I’d known I wouldn’t have been up until 4am – drinking, smoking and slopping cider all over my dress – and could be half-way into a Sailor Moon marathon by now. Alas, I’m in true Bridget form.

Fifteen years since the gateway anime came twirling into my life it retains its magic. I still buy sparkly pink keychains depicting the sailor scouts and my cat’s name is Luna. But I found that, in many ways, re-embarking on the journey as an adult was even better than the thrill of my initial awe.

I like to think that a subconscious yearning for diverse representation contributed to my religious following of the series as a child – then again, it was probs all the pink. Either way, it’s easy to see retrospectively that Sailor Moon makes an effort to provide a balanced playing field and promote girl power at the same time.

What I was aware of was that Serena wasn’t a Mary Sue. She had flaws, obvious ones that were performed and put on display. Watching her scoffing down biscuits struck me – aligned with something – gave me my first hint at the uniformity of my then limited and unarticulated stresses about being a girl. Now, 23 and aware, it’s heartening to find so much good stuff in Sailor Moon.

Firstly, the glitz. It’s genius, really. Great long-term feminist propaganda. As well as giving young girls wide eyes, the girlieness of Sailor Moon serves a purpose. Rather than straying from traditional portrayals of the feminine, it embraces them – shoves them in your face. Weaponized femininity reclaims the stereotypes associated with being female, asserting that expressions of femininity can go hand in hand with power.

On top of this, its characters are extremely diverse. Each sailor scout has her own identity, her own place (aside from being a sidekick to Serena and fighting evil by moonlight). Their varying interests and personalities are a constant reminder to young girls that there is no ‘right way’ for them to be, and to embrace each person’s differences. As well as being super amazing heroes, the girls are relatable and real.

If there was any doubt about these themes being deliberate, they should dissipate with the knowledge that in uncut episodes Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune are a lesbian couple, travelling around the universe helping young girls come to terms with their sexualities. Pretty cool, huh? Unfortunately, these episodes were altered in an attempt to make them ‘more palatable’ and never aired in Australia, causing massive criticism to what was considered a key aspect of the show.

Upon inspection, Sailor Moon is laden with feminist quotes and ideals. It feels like a call to arms, like everything has been placed carefully and deliberately to achieve a common goal. Of course it isn’t perfect, but what is? Feminism is diverse, and Sailor Moon goes out of its way to acknowledge and identify with women of varying backgrounds and sexualities. Realizing this made my day.

Moon Prism Power!

Featured Image: Blastr