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New communication from Good Vibrations re their support of Clitoraid

April 12, 2010

I just received an email from Good Vibrations where it seems that our mobilization is finally causing them to pay attention.  They write:

Greetings.  I would like to formally request that you please communicate the *facts* about Good Vibrations’s involvement with Clitoraid, which is that we donated vibrators and body care products for post-surgical care to the women undergoing surgeries at the clinic in Trinidad. Colorado, because our colleague Betty Dodson requested that we do so. We have not partnered with Clitoraid beyond this, nor do we have plans to do so. We have absolutely NO relationship with or control of the language that organization uses to describe their work, and we are not involved with it beyond our support of Betty’s work with the women at the clinic.

We are a retail business, established to give women (and everyone else) access to pleasure via information and good-quality products. I am deeply distressed that our mission, which is valued by so many, has been misrepresented, and I hope my statements can clarify the situation somewhat.

Thank you for your attention.

Carol Queen, PhD

Staff Sexologist and Cultural Officer

Good Vibrations

and I have quickly responded:

Hello Carol,
Nice to hear from you and your attempts at clarification.  But I’m confused and so are we all, who have felt betrayed by your association with Clitoraid.

Here is why we’re confused:

You may not have control over the language Clitoraid uses but you certainly have control over who you chose to partner with.  Indeed your decision to partner with Clitoraid through Dr. Dodson is both implied and EXPRESSED support of their work.  Your customers have certainly seen it that way.

Further, in my conversation with Camilla on Monday April 5th at 10am, she indicated that Good Vibrations was asking both its online and in-store customers to make a donation towards the genital reconstructive surgeries.   This is in addition to the vibrators and body care products Good Vibrations donated.  Again I’m confused since that is two very different messages coming from the same company.  Did you at any point ask your customers to give any donations that would end up with Clitoraid or Ms. Dodson’s work in support of Clitoraid?

Further, your (Camilla’s) last email to me indicated that nobody else was performing these surgeries.  Which is simply not true!  The government of Burkina Faso has itself been funding free reconstructive surgeries for years now and close to 1000 women have benefited from this public health service.  Private clinics also abound in Burkina Faso with emigrants returning to Burkina Faso from as far away as Canada to undergo the reconstructive surgeries.  Surely, if I could so easily access that information online a bit of research would have revealed it too.

Finally, bearing in mind that you clearly, either did not conduct the necessary due diligence about Clitoraid, or that you thought nobody would notice, wouldn’t it be easier to just back out of supporting them?

Better yet, why not make up for lost time and hurt feelings by showing your PUBLIC support for African women’s organizations engaged in this kind of work.

In fact, allow me to suggest a few:

African Partnership for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Women and Girls (AMANITARE)   Now based in South Africa, since 2000 AMANITARE has worked to advance the rights of African women, irrespective of difference, based on the principle of bodily integrity

The African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) is a grant-making foundation which supports local, national and regional organisations in Africa working towards women’s empowerment.  They have a particular focus on harmful traditional practices.

And closer to home:
The Global Fund for Women (GWF) which Since 1987 has awarded over $71 million to 3,800 women’s organizations in 167 countries.  Their African program funds small grassroots women’s organizations working towards ending the practice of FGM.

I hope that you will consider these organizations as viable and much more feminist alternatives to Clitoraid.

In sisterhood,


Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, Ph.D.

Hello Carol,
Nice to hear from you and your attempts at clarification.  But I’m confused and so are we all, who have felt betrayed by your association with Clitoraid.

Here is why we’re confused:

You may not have control over the language Clitoraid uses but you certainly have control over who you chose to partner with.  Indeed your decision to partner with Clitoraid through Dr. Dodson is both implied and EXPRESSED support of their work.  Your customers have certainly seen it that way.

Further, in my conversation with Camilla on Monday April 5th at 10am, she indicated that Good Vibrations was asking both its online and in-store customers to make a donation towards the genital reconstructive surgeries.   This is in addition to the vibrators and body care products Good Vibrations donated.  Again I’m confused since that is two very different messages coming from the same company.  Did you at any point ask your customers to give any donations that would end up with Clitoraid or Dr. Dodson’s work in support of Clitoraid?

Further, your (Camilla’s) last email to me indicated that nobody else was performing these surgeries.  Which is simply not true!  The government of Burkina Faso has itself been funding free reconstructive surgeries for years now and close to 1000 women have benefited from this public health service.  Private clinics also abound in Burkina Faso with emmigrants returning to Burkina Faso from as far away as Canada to undergo the reconstructive surgeries.  Surely, if I could so easily access that information online a bit of research would have revealed it too.

Finally, bearing in mind that you clearly, either did not conduct the necessary due diligence about Clitoraid, or that you thought nobody would notice, wouldn’t it be easier to just back out of supporting them?

Better yet, why not make up for lost time and hurt feelings by showing your PUBLIC support for African women’s organizations engaged in this kind of work.

In fact, allow me to suggest a few:

African Partnership for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Women and Girls (AMANITARE)   Now based in South Africa, since 2000 AMANITARE has worked to advance the rights of African women, irrespective of difference, based on the principle of bodily integrity

The African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) is a grant-making foundation which supports local, national and regional organisations in Africa working towards women’s empowerment.  They have a particular focus on harmful traditional practices.

And closer to home:
The Global Fund for Women (GWF) which Since 1987 has awarded over $71 million to 3,800 women’s organizations in 167 countries.  Their African program funds small grassroots women’s organizations working towards ending the practice of FGM.

I hope that you will consider these organizations as viable and much more feminist alternatives to Clitoraid.

In sisterhood,


Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor,
Politics Department,
University of San Francisco

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 12, 2010 12:06 PM

    excellent response, wkr

  2. Anthony Davis permalink
    April 12, 2010 2:32 PM

    Very well put. Thank you for taking the initiative to hold Good Vibrations accountable, and for the work you do to uplift women.

  3. April 12, 2010 2:57 PM

    Fantastic response!

  4. April 12, 2010 10:49 PM

    This is a relief!

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