Dallas Women's Foundation Attacks Porn Convention, Pushes Up Other Values

Dirty duck shoes by a toilet: Hey, we're not here to judge. What you and a consenting pair of footwear do is your business..EXPAND
Dirty duck shoes by a toilet: Hey, we're not here to judge. What you and a consenting pair of footwear do is your business..
Dallas Observer

I have so many conflicts of interest here, I shouldn’t even open my mouth. But, you know.

In a letter to Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, the Dallas Women’s Foundation has expressed its “deep concern and disgust” that the Dallas Convention Center will host a porn convention, Exxxotica Expo, on August 7 . In The Dallas Morning News yesterday Rawlings said lamely he too was “deeply concerned” about sex happening on city property, but he and the convention center guy said they have to rent to anybody who can pay the rent.

Well, that just sounds patently untrue on the face of it. What if a bunch of cannibals wanted to rent the convention center? Obviously the city can refuse to rent to people who promote criminality.

What the mayor and the convention center guy probably didn’t want to tell the women’s foundation — and I sort of sympathize — is that sex is not against the law. Weird, kinky, fantasy role-playing, beautiful, ugly, elegant, cheap, off the wall, on the wall: None of that is against the law, and … oh, I really don’t have to go on about this, do I? This is the Observer, after all. We’re not a family newspaper.

One of my conflicts of interest here is that the sex convention is a Dallas Observer advertiser. That’s really just sheer demographics. They’re obviously trying to go for the local newspaper reading audience that still has sex. Another conflict is that in a report on sex trafficking in Texas that they helped publish in 2011, the Dallas Women’s Foundation mentioned Backpage.com, with whom we used to be affiliated. 

Tory Burch
Tory Burch
Tony the Tiger via en.Wikipedia

We’re now divorced from Backpage. Separate companies and owners.The Dallas Women’s Foundation report was actually better and a bit more careful than some of the really crazy hysterical stuff that was being published about sex trafficking a few years ago, although they did cite some 740 trafficking victims in Texas in a one-month period, while a Texas Department of Public Safety report  counted 609 victims in Texas in a seven-year period. Truth probably lies somewhere between the two extremes, and one victim is one too many.

Not why I’m here. What I wondered was this. If the Dallas Women’s Foundation believes that everybody involved in the sex trade is bad, who do they think is good? Their web page says, “Strong Women. Better World.” OK. Which women do they admire? Whom do they invite to speak?

Is it leading women’s rights advocates like Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood, maybe first lady Michelle Obama, feminist poet Christine Hepperman (Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty) or journalist Debora L. Spar (The Abramson Effect” about the firing of New York Times Editor Jill Abramson)?

Eh. Not so much.

Last year the speaker at their annual luncheon was “preppie-remix” luxe clothing designer Tory Burch, who worked for Ralph Lauren, went out on her own and became the billionaire diva of wannabe Neo-WASPism. On the one hand, Burch is a hugely successful woman financially. There isn’t any doubt about that. And especially given that she has been very high-profile and subject to scrutiny and envy for a number of years, surprisingly little has been written to make her look anything but well behaved.

But if we were to juxtapose her with all that the Dallas Women’s Foundation finds depraved about the porn convention, what would Burch offer instead, what special path of virtue? Three years ago when she and her ex-husband got into a trademark lawsuit about clothing fashions, the judge called one of the hearings “a drunken WASP fest.”

Granted, some people take WASP clothing very seriously. Neo-preppie clothes offer a kind of uniform or coat of arms that can be worn to indicate that a person of modest origins has achieved high station in our laudably and increasingly meritocratic society. Nobody ever said democracy was going to make people less snobbish.

The judge in the Burch v. Burch preppie clothing court battle was later censured, in fact, by the Delaware Supreme Court for making fun of rubber-bottomed, truck-treaded, leather-topped shoes tied up with deer-hide thongs

“What’s a duck shoe?” Strine had asked in court and on the record. “You see all these freaks wearing this really ugly — I like L. L. Bean, but those duck shoes are ugly. I mean, there’s no way around it.”

For that, the state Supreme Court waved a boney finger of disapprobation and said, “The court’s excursus on this issue strayed beyond the proper purview and function of a judicial opinion.”

Duck shoes. Just sayin’.

Nobody is doing anything heinous here.  If the Dallas Women’s Foundation wants to hear the life-story of a duck-shoe billionaire, if that’s their notion of the highest feminine attainment, then it’s their party and their invitation to make.

On the other hand, I’m not sure how that puts them in a position of especially high moral authority. How do they know, right off the bat and without further exploration, for example, that Exxxotica, the porn convention, will “glorify and further the exploitation of and violence against women and girls” as they say in their letter to the mayor?

For sure? How do they know it won’t just be about sex? And I’m not even going to make any jokes about duck shoes and sex, because that’s too sick even for me. I just wonder who these women are and what they really know.

The foundation’s choice for featured speaker at this year’s luncheon, upcoming next month, may offer a hint. The speaker this year and standard-bearer for the foundation’s vision for women will be Texas native Eva Longoria of  Desperate Housewives.

CORRECTION:

The original version of this story misstated expenses for The Dallas Women's Foundation annual luncheon. The event raised $992,688 with expenses of $186,225. An amount of $39,495 referred to in the original story as profit was actually a total of in-kind donations.

The language of the original story was this:

“The most recent available IRS filings — for 2013, the year before Burch appeared before them, copy below — show that the foundation spent $992,668 on its annual luncheon that year for a fundraising profit of $39,495. Those Dallas women do know how to throw a party.” 


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