Weather continued to disrupt travel today, leading to the cancellation of a talk by sex-toy maven Patty Brisben. Brisben is the founder of a company called Pure Romance, which sells female-oriented sex toys at Tupperware-party-like events across America to the tune of $80 million per year.
Brisben has spoken here in past years. And this year, her company is the biggest financial sponsor of Sex Week at Yale. Her presentation was to be followed by a special “Girl’s Night Out” event, where free vibrators were promised to the first 50 female students in attendance. The snow, however, forced Yale ladies to make other plans.
Some of them may have chosen to attend the Yale Film Society’s presentation of Midnight Cowboy, which took place at a Yale auditorium right down the street. Midnight Cowboy is described on the Sex Week website as the only X-rated film ever to win an Oscar.
Earlier in the day, Lamont Hiebert, co-founder of LOVE146 — a non-profit organization that runs safe homes in Asia for victims of child sex slavery — had given a talk about child trafficking and exploitation. Currently, there are an estimated 27 million people enslaved around the globe, he said. And 100,000 children are exploited for sexual purposes each year in American alone.
Hiebert, who is also a successful recording artist with the band Ten Shekel Shirt, brought along his guitar. In the course of the presentation, he performed two songs that he said had been inspired by his experiences with victims of child sex slavery.
Following Hiebert’s talk, I attended a panel called “Red Light Rights: The Human and Labor Rights of Sex Workers.” The three-person panel included two self-described sex workers. Both used pseudonyms in order to protect themselves from legal jeopardy.
One panelist talked about her experiences with a wide range of sex work. She said she was honored for her adult-film work at last year’s Feminist Porn Awards, which were held in Toronto. She said she had also worked as an escort, a stripper, and (more recently) a “pro-dom,” or, professional dominatrix. Asked to elaborate, she said, “I have clients who want to be beaten, and tied up. . . . I had one who was really into giantess worship. He would be on the floor and I would try to pretend I was stepping on him.”
Along with the others on the panel, she argued for the decriminalization of prostitution. “It’s about rehabilitating the entire society,” she said. “We’ve all been taught that sex work is degrading and disgusting and immoral.” She said she hoped that society would come to view sex work as a legitimate occupation.
During the subsequent Q&A, one student in the audience asked for advice about a potential career as a sex worker. “My biggest issue is, like, how to bring it up with family,” she said.