[NOTE: This draft was collectively written by WoCSHN Executive Committee members who only knew of one award recipient a week ago. We did not know the recipients of the other awards, had we known we would have included the issues with also awarding a humanitarian award to someone who has a documented history of utilizing and promoting anti-Black racism and transphobia/transmisogyny in the US sexuality field.]
Today, WoCSHN condemns the nomination and granting of the AASECT Book Award to “Secrets of the Sex Masters” and the book’s editor, Carl Frankel. This book, when originally published, only featured White contributors. While we appreciate that the new version includes authors of color, this only occurred after much work was done by WOC in communicating with Frankel about why racial diversity was necessary and the ways the situation could be rectified. This process began cordially but quickly turned rocky, and included Frankel claiming WoCSHN’s statements were “inflammatory, counter-productive, deeply hurtful, and absurd” and that our calls for anti-racist work were “divisive.” What is most alarming is that Frankel and his partner, Sheri Winston, removed all evidence of this process from their website and do not acknowledge any of the work WoCSHN members did. The lack of transparency, coupled with intentional obfuscation of the facts regarding this book’s evolution, is shameful. For more context and detailed information about this situation, visit here and read the official WoCSHN statement.
This award must be given to an individual who has made a significant contribution to AASECT’s vision of sexual health and to the clinical and educational standards of the field. This conference is a place where we must be continuously learning and establishing connections, not continuing to leverage and reward positions of power, privilege, and exploitation. It is outrageous that a book with this history and an editor with this ethical approach to his work be given this award. How can AASECT make claims about increasing diversity and supporting under-represented communities while, in the same breath, rewarding this book? The message this sends is “we say we want diversity, but only on our terms.”
Standing in solidarity with communities of color, especially regarding racial justice, inclusivity, and equity, will be a challenge and will be uncomfortable, but that is the work to making such change. Let these necessary conversations continue, far beyond this point in time. It is up to all of us in this room.
Click the image above for a detailed list of award recipients for 2015.