By general agreement 2016 has been a pretty awful year. Not only have things been stormy and divided in the world of politics, a number of international heroes have departed this world, and things are looking pretty bleak.
While there may be little comfort in the fact that it’s nearly December, and we can start to put some of the worst aspects of 2016 behind us, we thought it’d be good to take a look at some of the more positive things that have happened. Because while some things are bad, there have also been some fantastic steps forward in sexual rights.
No on Prop 60
Thanks to an incredible campaign that brought together porn performers, bloggers, educators and activists, California’s ‘Prop 60’ ballot – that would have made it possible for California residents to individually sue people who made porn without condoms – was voted down at the beginning of November. It’s a huge victory for sexual freedom and common sense, and will mean that many adult performers will be able to work without the threat of being sued hanging over them.
First ever Vaginismus Awareness Day
Vaginismus – a condition which can make penetrative sex painful and often impossible – is a condition that affects many people. But it’s rarely talked about. This year, though, Sssh Womenstore launched the first ever Vaginismus Awareness Day, which got plenty of coverage and got thousands of people talking about this important issue.
Lovehoney wins Queens Award for Enterprise
OK, so this one sounds a bit corporate, but it’s a really positive move. Sex – an industry which has previously been hidden away from other business because it’s seen as ‘taboo’ – is now being recognised much more. Not just in the mainstream press but now even by the Queen. Not just good news for Lovehoney – good for everyone who wants to help tackle sex stigma, and get people talking about sex.
Polish women protest abortion ban
After the Polish government proposed new laws that would make abortion all but illegal for anything other than the most extreme circumstances, tens of thousands of Polish women took to the streets to protest. Under the plans, women and doctors would have faced up to five years in jail for having – or performing – an abortion. However, shortly after the protests, the Polish government voted overwhelmingly to reject the proposed law.
Bloggers speak out against Charlie Sheen
Earlier this year, Lelo appointed Charlie Sheen as the spokesperson for their new Hex condom. Sex bloggers and educators from around the world spoke out against his appointment, and in the process highlighted a number of important issues surrounding sex education and sexual abuse. Check out Marvy Darling’s blog for a full run-down, as well as links to other kickass bloggers who were outspoken about Sheen’s appointment.
More coverage for sex and disability
This year there has been a notable rise in fantastic coverage of issues such as sex and disability. Andrew Gurza – one of our favourite sex and disability bloggers – has launched a podcast called Disability After Dark. The incredible Chronic Sex Chat joined twitter, and has been improving people’s timelines and smashing stigma about sex and chronic illness. An episode of Alix Fox’s ‘Close Encounters’ podcast brought the issue of sex and spinal cord injury smashing into the mainstream and… oh… lots more.
On top of this, we’ve been loving some of the latest campaigns from disability charities – Scope’s End The Awkward tackles conversations around disability with hilarious videos and great advice. Enhance The UK’s incredible Undressing Disability campaign tackles taboos around sex and disability, as well as providing great sex education, and features a lot of sexy pictures too: what’s not to love?
PrEP appeal won in the UK
You might not have heard of PrEP, but this tiny little pill could be an incredible lifesaver. PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, and it’s designed to be taken by people who are at risk of contracting HIV. It’s been proven in trials to be an effective prevention tool, and this year organisations such as the National AIDS Trust and individuals like PositiveLad on Twitter have been campaigning hard to raise awareness of just how valuable PrEP is. This year the National AIDS Trust won their appeal to get the NHS to fund PrEP – a win which could save an extraordinary amount of money and, more importantly, lives.
Bloggers support sex positivity, hold companies to account
Alongside all of these campaigns, sex bloggers from across the world have continued to hold companies to high standards of sex positivity and inclusion. From calling out companies who solicit nude pictures from customers (yes, really) to calling out fatshaming tweets (again, yes this really happens) and educating people on everything from sex toys to social justice.
What’s more, not only are bloggers working together on important issues, they’re also helping each other out to make sure that next year there’ll be more people doing this important work. This year’s top sex blogger as named by Kinkly – Dangerous Lilly – is offering her prize money in scholarship funds to help other bloggers attend the Woodhull Sexual Freedom summit. Over in the UK, organisers of Eroticon are building a ticket pool fund to help those with financial difficulties attend.
2016 might seem like a bad year, but it hasn’t been all bad – lots of campaign wins for sexual freedom, and more people tackling taboos and bringing sex into the spotlight. If we’ve missed something you’d like to highlight please do add your own suggestions in the comments and on Twitter, and let’s celebrate more great work in sex education and campaigning.
Let’s hope this great stuff continues, and in 2017 there’ll be even more success to shout about.