This just happened on Wednesday and while there have been many blog posts about it recently I’m mostly writing this in case for some reason you haven’t heard about it. Tristan Taormino was originally invited to OSU to give the keynote at their Modern Sex Conference and was uninvited essentially because of her work in pornography, which is only a fraction of what she does. This was only after she purchased her own airfare under the promise of reimbursement (which will probably not be reimbursed now). The following information about the situation is taken directly from Tristan’s website along with my own feelings about it. For the full scope of the issue you can read about it directly on Tristan’s website.
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Tristan Taormino’s work. I have numerous books and DVDs of hers and had the fortune of meeting her and taking a workshop from her last year when she came to Seattle, so I admit to not being completely unbiased on this issue. My bias, however, comes from the fact that she is an amazing educator who works in numerous mediums to try to get the message of sex-positivity out to anyone who will listen.
The “problem” with Tristan speaking at the conference, according to OSU, seems to be because they are paying her to attend and give the keynote (the other speakers may or may not be compensated) with taxpayer money and she’s a pornographer. While I can understand the school’s reservations on some levels it also seems like ridiculous bureaucracy runaround at it’s finest. This is a conference called “Modern Sex” after all, how much more modern can you get than a feminist female pornographer?
It seems like the crux of the issue isn’t just that she is involved in pornography ingeneral, because there are other speakers who are, but it’s giving money to a known pornographer, someone who supposedly has a “significant online business in video pornography” (which isn’t really accurate). Maybe they think giving a pornographer money would be like saying you approve of their work. How horrible! Or something. Really, though, why is this such a big deal? It’s not like her work is illegal or negative. It’s not like she isn’t known for being an ethical feminist pornographer and we’re talking about her speaking at a sexuality conference!
Of course, it’s all because it’s tied to a public school who is given taxpayer money. Everyone knows those taxpayers hate pornography. Obviously.
OSU is trying to blame it on the organizers of the conference, however, saying that they provided a “partial description of the speaker in question as a writer and sex advice columnist.” What? Obviously it’s okay to give money to someone who writes sexy things and gives sex advice but once that moves into a video format that’s somehow wrong. Pornography is evil, even if it’s awesome positive sex education with some fucking on the side, which is what the videos of Tristan’s I’ve seen are.
The scenario I see in my head when reading about this is that someone decided to look on Tristan’s website, saw that she makes porn, and decided to complain about her inclusion in the conference to Student Affairs. This was only after many months of talking with Tristan and conveniently not long after she bought the airfare, probably because it was announced that she was definitely coming. I just don’t see the logic in where they’re drawing the line, though. Probably because there isn’t any.
You can read the original and updated information on Tristan’s website. There is also information there on how to contact OSU.