Tag Archives: Dan Savage

Amnesty Speech for ‘Voice Our Concern’ The Importance of Arts Education in Human Rights

I’m going to start out by introducing myself- hello. My name is Triona Brick. In my transition year in Mercy Secondary school Mounthawk, Tralee in 2006, I worked on a short human rights film centring around the experience for an immigrant in Ireland. I worked on this with an inspiring teacher called Mr. Redican, Amnesty International, and renowned Irish Director of ‘Hotel Rwanda’, Terry George. The experience influenced me to go on to study a BA in Communications Studies, and MA in Film and Television Studies, both at DCU. For the past two years, I have been the media manager of The Freshly Squeezed International Student Short Film Festival, a festival that has the importance of arts education at its core. Freshly Squeezed nurtures young film-makers by giving them somewhere to screen their work and in doing so, recognition and praise. We crowd-funded the project so that both submitting and attendance are completely free of charge, and therefore open to everyone. Upon completion of the MA, I went on to work in a human rights organisation: GLEN- The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network. As GLEN’s social media manager, I am in the thick of one of the most important human rights movements of my generation on a daily basis. There are infinite kinds of arts education, and infinite human rights issues, but my speech will centre around my own personal experiences of media arts education and of LGBT rights activism.

The first step in any process is seeing the possibility of a good result. Before you speak you must feel like you’ll at least be heard, hopefully listened to and respected. I was the youngest in a family of three. Growing up, it wasn’t always easy to feel listened to when I was always seen as the kid. In school you are assigned a similar role. You are the student, there to listen, not to speak. We’ve all had those inspiring teachers whose classes we looked forward to going to and who taught us life long lessons. But in my experience, those teachers were more often the exception than the rule. And even those teachers were confined by an educational system that does not encourage students to have a voice. To feel confidence in their opinions. To think critically. To challenge the culture around them. To realise that they don’t always have to accept what they’re told. I grew up in Kerry, which, when I was growing up, was still staunchly Catholic. Which meant accepting what you’re told was part and parcel of my education. This was in a time when access to different cultures and different ways of thinking was not just the click of a button away. While we had the mediums of film and television, these were seen as a bit of fun, nothing to be taken too seriously. Certainly not something to be studied. When I did my Leaving Cert, filling out your CAO form was all about how good the courses would be at getting you a job.
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Sex Positive

A few years ago I was introduced to feminism. When this happened, I realised a whole movement existed that held beliefs I had always held but never fully articulated. I recently discovered the sex positive movement and felt a similar feeling.

From my experience of Sex Positive, I would loosely define it as a movement that embraces sexuality as a gift we’re blessed with, as something to be experienced to its full and enjoyed. Something which, contrary to what most cultures have taught in some way or another, is not something to be ashamed of. Sex positive encourages an open minded discussion of sex and sexuality. Similarly, wikipedia defines sex positive as: ‘an ideology which promotes and embraces open sexuality with few limits beyond an emphasis on safe sex and the importance of informed consent. Sex positivity is “an attitude towards human sexuality that regards all consensual sexual activities as fundamentally healthy and pleasurable, and encourages sexual pleasure and experimentation. The sex-positive movement is a social and philosophical movement that advocates these attitudes. The sex-positive movement advocates sex education and safer sex as part of its campaign.”[1] The movement makes no moral distinctions among types of sexual activities, regarding these choices as matters of personal preference.’.

Problems With Sex Positive

Of course just like feminism, or any other social movement, sex positive has its inherent flaws, and more prominently; people who define themselves as sex positive but embrace or express ideas that are not in keeping with the ideals of sex positive. Namely, what I personally loved about sex positive in the beginning was the freedom inherent within it. I found it to simply be a movement that said ‘whoever you are, and whatever your sexual preferences are, what’s most important is that you enjoy your sexuality and are comfortable with it’. That unlike other schools of thought on sexuality, such as the more pure/hetereosexual/monogamous values traditionally embraced by religious movements and conservatives, or the loose/sexually promiscuous values embraced by highly liberal movements; sex positive didn’t impose any standing on sexuality but your own. This was captured perfectly in a quote on Sex Positive’s wikipedia page by Carol Queen:

‘Sex-positive, a term that’s coming into cultural awareness, isn’t a dippy love-child celebration of orgone – it’s a simple yet radical affirmation that we each grow our own passions on a different medium, that instead of having two or three or even half a dozen sexual orientations, we should be thinking in terms of millions. “Sex-positive” respects each of our unique sexual profiles, even as we acknowledge that some of us have been damaged by a culture that tries to eradicate sexual difference and possibility.’[6]

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