A Year in Review: 5 inspiring takeaways from 2020
So much can and has been said about 2020, and so much more will be written about it once we get the necessary perspective. Of all the mind-boggling events and small victories, here are a few that caught our attention, drove us to keep fighting for fairness and equality on all things pleasure, sexual health and gender, and gave us reason to hope that things are indeed changing.
1 – Vibrators are a health essential.
Of all that we have experienced and learnt in lockdown, here is one of the most interesting facts: pleasure toys have become an essential commodity. As social distancing and isolation shaped the new normal, more and more of us reached for our vibrators and online sales saw an unprecedented boom.
According to sex historian Hallie Lieberman, stressful times fuel sexual exploration. “Customers want sex toys in a recession.” And while this is true of any global crisis, and was previously witnessed during the great 2008 turmoil, never has it been more relevant than in 2020.
2 – No more period poverty?
Scotland made headlines for the kind of progressive-thinking policy we had been longing for and are hoping to see adopted throughout the rest of the world. How? By voting the Period Products Bill, unanimously approved by the Scottish Parliament in November. That means local authorities now have a duty to provide free tampons and sanitary pads to anyone who might need them. Period poverty is a global issue, increased by the so-called “tampon tax” imposed on menstrual hygiene products by local governments. With period poverty comes period shame, a social stigma attached to the very act of purchasing hygiene products. Here is hoping many more will follow in Scotland’s lead and shift perceptions on menstruation.
3 – Towards more inclusive feminism.
Rarely have privilege and discrimination been as exposed as they were as a consequence of the Black Lives Matter movement. Allyship exposed white-centrism across a number of areas, including feminism itself. In “White supremacy in heels”, scholars Dreama Gail Moon and Michelle A. Holling argues that “feminism has traditionally centered (white) women’s experience, yet when sex and gender are combined with race, feminism tends to lose its progressive edge.” And yet voices speaking against this bias gained momentum as part of our increased collective awareness, with authors such as Mikki Kendall and Lola Olufemi, who respectively penned Hood Feminism and Feminism Interrupted, paving the way for a more inclusive intersectional feminism.
4 – Porn becomes more accountable.
Consent has been a major battle fought by contemporary feminists in the post #MeToo world. Earlier this December, a New York Times exposé from Nicholas Kristof shone the light on the damage done by Pornhub and similar platforms to women, often underage, involved in nonconsensual videos. The piece instantly resonated around the world, with partners such as Visa and Mastercard now reconsidering their agreement with Pornhub’s parent company MindGeek. As a direct consequence, Pornhub announced measures to keep harmful content off the site, restricting uploads to content partners and verified members, while also blocking downloads and increasing moderation.
5 – A significant milestone for LGBTQIA+ rights.
Transgender rights in the US suffered a number of setbacks under the Trump administration. And while the outcome of the presidential election has given the entire world reasons to hope for a better future, the Supreme Court’s ruling that a civil rights law protects gay and transgender employees from workplace discrimination back in June sent a strong signal against every decision that vowed to eliminate transgender rights over the course of the past four years, based on a narrow understanding of sex as biologically determined at birth. By sending a clear signal, the Supreme Court seems to have planted a seed of change, one that will no doubt grow under a new fairer administration.