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Onward and upward

May 24, 2010


I have to admit this Clitoraid nonsense took way too much of my time and energy and I’ve spent the last couple of weeks catching up with the rest of my life.

So, I’m planning on this being my last post about Clitoraid. For those interested in furthering the conversation I’ve started a separate page on my blog here.

In the meanwhile here is a fantastic article by SF Appeal that pretty much wraps up what happened with the Clitoraid and Good Vibrations saga.  As the writer points out, Good Vibrations still does not come out smelling good.

I do find it extremely disappointing that the hundreds of people who organized to bring public scrutiny and transparency to amend the situation and pry the good reputation of Good Vibrations away from Clitoraid — many of them longtime members of Good Vibrations’ community  — only found out that Good Vibes ended their association via an editorial in that newspaper. None were contacted or informed directly; the blogging and Facebook communities whose loyalty buoyed the discussion were left to find news about the changes on their own.

To this day I am still waiting for Good Vibrations to announce their latest African women’s organization partner.  Indeed they made profuse promises to me and others that they would replace their support of Clitoraid with support for an organization headed and run by African women who are concerned with the issue of Female Circumcision.  We all worked hard to identify potential partners but to this day there has been no announcement.  If I were reading this from Good Vibrations, I’d make a move and make an announcement.  Clearly the community is watching and waiting…

As for me, I intend to focus my blog on more ‘boring’ things now.  I have a couple of really cool conferences lined up for the next couple of weeks and I intend to tweet from them and perhaps even put up some posts from the road.

If travel plans work out (grrrr!) I shall be at the Third forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations in Rio de Janeiro Brazil later on this week.

Then off to New York City for this year’s Personal Democracy Forum where I am honored to have been selected a Google Fellow.

And finally I will be at this year’s Grantmakers without Borders 10th annual conference in San Francisco and talking to fabulously interesting people about the philanthropic focus on African women.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jen permalink
    May 24, 2010 1:42 PM

    go you! Sounds like you have busy weeks ahead. Fantastic!

  2. Jackie Strano permalink
    May 24, 2010 4:09 PM

    Hi Wanjiru
    please allow me to to clarify some points brought up publicly since our last personal email exchange. It has been brought to my attention that Violet Blue wrote a recent article about GV and you are posting that Good Vibrations doesn’t come out ‘smelling good.’ There needs to be some backstory illuminated here as Violet Blue used to work for Good Vibrations and got her start here.
    I never heard back from your colleague at the African desk at the Global Women’s Fund. This was after several attempts to contact them from me personally. I took the silence to mean they are not interested in having any affiliation with Good Vibrations. As I had mentioned to you before via email when you refused my invitation to meet in person, we have experienced silence from many organizations before because of the nature of the products we sell. I don’t make any assumptions that GWF is sex negative or homophobic by any means but sometimes sexual freedom and sexual health are not core missions of everyone and we have come to accept that not everyone wants to be aligned with our core mission of sexual health, education and that pleasure is a birthright. I also let you know repeatedly via email that we are still investigating a worthwhile partner in raising awareness around female genital mutilation. I personally don’t call it female circumcision as often times it goes beyond a simple removal of the clitoral hood and is mostly done when women are too young to know the full extent of what is about to happen to them and who are mutilated against their will. We realize we offended and hurt some usual allies from our own corner of our own world. We fully acknowledge and apologize for any offense that was taken by our support of Clitoraid but we clearly specified that we only sent vibrators to Betty Dodson when she contacted us. We never sent a dime to Clitoraid. We never intended to. Our GiVe program allows customers to make a donation upon checkout to our various causes….but with Clitoraid we were sending vibrators to a rehabiliation clinic for women who had very willingly undergone reconstructive surgery. We misstepped by sending out the press release. Unfortunately good intentions went awry but we don’t apologize that we got the vibrators and bath products to the women who really wanted them. The article in Newsweek about the hospital and Dr. Marci Bowers, the surgeon who is performing the reconstructive operations by volunteering her efforts had made the case for us to send the vibrators an easy decision. Yes agreed, we should have done some due diligence about the parent organization. We have also donated to the Red Cross, NOW, Planned Parenthood, and Stop Aids Project and many many other organizations over the years…national and local. Not everyone would agree with the political and religious views of every organization we have supported. I am not defending Clitoraid by any means so please don’t misconstrue my logic here…we get it. We appreciate that the offensive campaign slogans used by Clitoraid were brought to our attention and acknowledge that we misstepped on our path to raising awareness around a practice that mutilates womens’ bodies and prevents them from orgasming and sometimes severely injures them or results in infection and death.We promptly requested that Clitoraid remove our information from their web site that had the ‘adopt a clit’ slogan and we hadn’t pursued any other action save sending the vibrators. You accuse us of stalling for time…I have several email threads where you and I were directly and personally in contact…as for Violet Blue’s article in the SF Appeal..well that was not surprising…I wouldn’t expect any more from a disgruntled ex employee who originally got her start at GV and who left on not so cozy terms. I appreciate her various columns on other topics but it’s not surprising that she took this opportunity to take a pot shot at her former employer. She was a little late to the party writing about this and I would rather time and energy be spent focusing on the women who are still suffering. I doubt that Violet Blue spends most of her time focused on African women’s health. This is not just about African women…FGM happens on other continents. Good Vibrations has made contact with several organizations but we want to make sure that whoever we partner with in the future has African women in decision making positions and who support the core mission of pleasure and sexual health. Clitoraid is far from our radar…we have moved on to support the Global Justice Ecology Project this Spring in honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day and will be working with a Breast Cancer awareness group later this year as well. Good Vibrations cares about women’s rights and health. Good Vibrations has made it the core mission of their business for over 33 years to help women and men have access to education and safety around sexual health and pleasure.
    With Respect,
    Jackie Strano
    Chief Operations Officer
    Good Vibrations

  3. May 24, 2010 4:20 PM

    Two quotes that are frequently in my email signature sum up my feelings about good intentions:

    “The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding”.
    — Albert Camus

    “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”– John F. Kennedy

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