Each year, SI celebrates people and institutions which challenge the sexual fear, unrealistic expectations, and government hypocrisy that undermine love, sex, and relationships--and political freedom.
Past recipients have included novelist Philip Roth, musician Candye Kane, sex educators Bill Taverner and Susie Wilson, and Catholics For A Free Choice. This year's recipients of Sexual Intelligence Awards are equally deserving:
Larry Hedges, Ph.D, Psychologist
Dr. Larry Hedges has been a Southern California psychologist for 25 years, specializing in the training of psychotherapists and psychoanalysts. In addition to helping thousands of patients, he has trained therapists across the U.S. and influenced several generations of therapists as director of the Listening Perspectives Study Center and the founding director of the Newport Psychoanalytic Institute.
One of Hedges' great innovations is teaching professionals not to be afraid of sexuality--their patients' or their own. He helps therapists tolerate their fantasies about their patients--both gentle and aggressive--which better enables them to support patients in tolerating THEIR fantasies.
Hedges understands that sexuality is not something that people do, it's who they are. Thus, he sees it suffusing many of therapy's basic, "non-sexual" issues, such as power, anger, fear, anxiety, self-discipline, and creativity. Not surprisingly, he is one of today's most effective innovative psychologists.
Hedges is also at the forefront of issues regarding patient-therapist sexual misconduct, and false or unfair accusations of such conduct. For fearlessness, professionalism, and creativity, Hedges is honored for his Sexual Intelligence.
Petals, the book & film
Petals started as a book, edited by Nick Karras and published in 2003 (currently available at www.amazon.com/Petals-Nick-Karras/dp/097435628X/ref=pd_bbs_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1204653874&sr=8-1).
Now it's available as a DVD, directed by Beck Peacock. The film describes how Karras created the book, a lovely collection of black-and-white photographs of vulvas. Yes, vulvas. Similar to Femalia (a wondrous achievement) but different in tone (it's amazing how much softer and more artistic the pictures look in black and white), Petals is a simple yet powerful series of photos of the body part most women and men never look at.
And are these vulvas gorgeous! They range from tidy to voluptuous, from art deco to baroque.
The film shows some half-dozen of the photos. It also features interviews of some of the women shown in the book, and even follows one woman before, during, and after being photographed. The women's words are moving, funny, and thought-provoking.
Our foremother Betty Dodson is also interviewed, and some of her early vulva artwork is shown. In all, the book and film are a wonderful contribution to the appreciation of our precious sexuality. Vulvas--so important to most of us, so complex in our thoughts, so lovely in their displayed glory.
Sherri Williams, Sex Toy Activist
For nine years the state of Alabama has insisted that Sherri Williams is a criminal. And so she has taken the state to court over and over during those nine years. She has won a handful of times, only to have the state appeal and win a subsequent round in court.
As we have documented (SI #s 9, 33, 39, 54), Alabama has criminalized the sale of sex toys. And that's what Williams does for a living--sell objects to adults designed to enhance their sexual pleasure. "Dangerous," "immoral," "obscene" objects like vibrators, dildoes, anal beads.
Last fall Williams (and a dedicated team of pro bono attorneys) asked the Supreme Court to overturn a recent, final decision affirming Alabama's right to criminalize sex toys. When the Supreme Court declined to take the case, it looked like Williams--and five million Alabamans--had reached the end of the road. But earlier this month, a Circuit Court overturned Texas' law banning sex toys. The case had been brought by another SI Award winner, our beloved Phil Harvey (SI #s 18, 67, 76).
This leaves Alabama holding the bag (empty, as it were) on sex toys. Most observers agree that Alabama's law will either wither or be repealed. Either way, most people will live and die without knowing about Sherri Williams' fight. We salute her for her commitment.
Why is the fight for sex toys important? Because anti-vibrator laws are based on the belief that the state has the right--indeed, the obligation--to patrol the "morality" and "safety" of private bedroom behavior. Such beliefs have been used to criminalize contraception, homosexuality, pornography, and sadomasochism. They can be used to criminalize anything--adultery, oral sex, premarital sex.
Any of those interest you?