This week The Filthy Freedom Project, a collaborative forum & vlog dedicated to promoting open dialogue around issues of sex, sexuality & body image, launched. Its founder, Bea Hinton, graciously agreed to provide insight into the site’s purpose and vision — read below for an inspiring and informative Q&A! And, while you’re at it, follow the FFP on Twitter (@FilthyFreedom) and join the conversation by sharing your story.
The Filthy Freedom Project launched this week. What was your inspiration for the site?
I am a young bi-racial woman who grew up in low-income black communities, transitioned into middle-income white America as a teenager, and moved on to attend elite institutions of higher learning. I was raised in a nontraditional family structure, by a number of women, and born to a teenaged mother. I know how it feels to straddle a number of identities, but never see yourself represented. I know what it feels like to ponder over applications which ask questions that can’t be answered with a simple check box. I know what invisibility feels like, and I know I’m not alone. I’ve found that too many of our social justice spaces are occupied by co-opted voices, those deemed worthy of prime-time coverage, pushing issues that are acceptable enough to rally the majority. Too often have I watched videos or read blogs that inexcusably overlook critical racial, gender or class distinctions. Too often the most respected sharing platforms are not accessible to those without the accolades or reputation. The Filthy Freedom Project provides an invaluable accessibility to digital social movements. And why sexuality? Well, why not?
What is your long-term vision for the Filthy Freedom Project?
I have been completely humbled by the initial interest the Project has seen! As we expand into a fully functioning website, I look forward to growing our readership, expanding our partnerships, and attracting more amazing, diverse voices to contribute to the success of the Project. Long-term, I hope to expand the platform beyond the digital world and into communities.
On FFP’s Facebook page, you ask your followers what they do to “break free of all the sex-averse, misogynistic, heteronormative, and racist cultural norms we live in.” How do you do the same?
This is a great question! I’ve been obsessed with this concept of “freedom” for some time now, and have come to understand freedom as a state of mind continuously molded and strengthened (or weakened) by experiences. For me, the key to obtaining a healthy state of freedom – to be able maintain a positive sense of self while operating within oppressive institutions – is, in part, educating myself. The more you know about yourself, about your history, about the world in which you live, the better able you are to operate within it. Knowledge is not only power, but empowering. It has helped solidify my moral foundation and kept me grounded when tested by restrictive cultural norms. Breaking free from oppression does not mean we fully escape it or ignore it; it means we learn to overcome it and, hopefully, become well positioned to eradicate it.
Feminism is often criticized for excluding the needs and voices of certain women (young girls, older women, the disabled, women of color, etc.). How do you hope to bridge that gap with the Filthy Freedom Project?
Yes, absolutely; this is exactly why this project exists. FFP aims to contribute to an informed and safe sex-positive culture by elevating the voices of those most affected by struggles for sexual freedom and understanding; women, ethnic minorities, immigrants, sex workers, LGBTQQ communities, teenagers, the disabled, etc. We look to expose the often unconfronted intricacies of sexual, racial and class distinctions and highlight interesting, yet unexplored topics in the field. Our contributors, including myself, are by no means professional writers or bloggers. We are real people, with real stories that need to be heard in their rawest forms.
Who are your top feminist role models?
About Bea: Bea Hinton is founder of The Filthy Freedom Project. She is a feminist of color and gender justice enthusiast deeply committed to advancing policies and movements dedicated to expanding opportunity for all. You can read more about Bea at about.me/beahinton.