The Banned and the Beautiful: Celebrating Women Writers

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” — Anne Frank

As you may have heard, the Ozarks Writers’ League conference coming up the weekend of February 21 was booted from its venue of 30 years this week, largely because I’m set to speak there.

My topic? Cultivating self-confidence for increased success. Not exactly controversial. My advocacy for female sexual empowerment, however, apparently is. The venue heads also disapproved of award-winning author Velda Brotherton‘s workshop on writing sex scenes. The conference program has never before been questioned or analyzed, but this one’s theme, Celebrating Women Writers, invited scrutiny.

“Doesn’t that make you mad?” an acquaintance asked me when she read the news. “I’d be so offended!”

Nope, I replied. It’s unfortunate that OWL had to scramble for a new venue, as they successfully did, but the venue’s response merely illustrates the importance of the kind of work I and other women writers do.


Many people in our culture find anything related to sexuality shameful. It’s one of the most heartbreaking and damaging notions of our time, in my opinion, and anyone who abides by it has been victimized. I and many, if not all, women I know have been hurt by negative views and damaging myths about sexuality and our bodies at some point—in some cases, profoundly. The moment we lose compassion for folks we’re trying to help through our writing and advocacy, we lose our ability to make a positive impact. It’s as though we’ve lost compassion for ourselves.

As revolutionary Gloria Steinem said, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” Trust me, I’ve had those pissed-off times in the past. But I learned that if I hoped for change, I had to take action—loving action. That’s why I made the transition from health writer to health and sexuality writer, launched Girl Boner on my blog and welcomed the chance to bring my work to the radio/podcast waves. It’s also why I adore artists, who are some of the most compassionate souls around.

OWL’s community is a prime example. In response to the recent controversy, they’ve not only publicly supported Velda and I, but increased their efforts to support and celebrate all writing women. I can hardly articulate how touched and grateful I am. Writers uniting. What a beautiful thing.

It’s with giddy pleasure that I invite you all to join OWL’s campaign to celebrate women writers! Simply post and engage with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #WomensRightToWrite.

If you’re in the Missouri area, I hope you’ll join us at the conference, which has a new location. To learn more, visit

Leave a comment


  1. Right o, August! We are writing with you! ❤

  2. I just started actively blogging sexuality all over my blog lately. An awakening for me. You go!

  3. Reblogged this on Velda Brotherton and commented:
    It is with a great deal of pleasure I found myself in the midst of this battle about sexuality and women’s rights. August is a great example of women and writers I’m honored to know and respect.

  4. Reblogged this on Alice White Author and commented:
    Another excellent take on recent events from author August McLaughlin 🙂

  5. Complaining about sex scenes is a red herring. They’re against all women’s subjects, but disguise it by creating controversy elsewhere.Some of my most absolute favorite writers are women. The whole thing comes from ignorance and in some cases, hatred. Shame on the biased fools; they deny themselves great entertainment. In fact, there’s one particular novel titled “In Her Shadow” written by an all-around great communicator – August McLaughlin. Everyone on this site should make sure they read it!

  6. My adviser in grad school used to say (with regards to doing psychotherapy with clients), “If you don’t meet with resistance, then you aren’t working on anything important.” I think that applies on a more societal level and the work that you are doing, August. If you’re getting a bit of a backlash, then you’re doing something important (as if you didn’t already know that).

  7. Hi August! I got about half way through this before I realized there wasn’t going to be a gotcha punchline. I can’t believe it. Really glad they found somewhere else and it’s going ahead.
    On the upside, there’s only two ways to get known, fame and infamy – and you’re getting two for one 😉

    Good luck on the 20th!



  8. I came to know of your work since last year’s Beauty of a Woman Blogfest and can’t wait to meet you at this month’s OWL meeting. This “situation” has instigated what I consider a much needed and long overdue change of venue for our group.
    My running satirical use of #onlyintheozarks for all the absurdities I watch happen in our region has been, once again, embarrassingly proven as the status quo.
    Thanks for your valiant efforts here. #WomensRighttoWrite

    • Thanks so much for the kind words, Katy. I’m glad so many have welcomed the venue change, and grateful for the conversations the ordeal has brought forth. You all are champions for standing tall and together, particularly when so many in your area feel differently. May many hear of it and consider positive change. Looking forward to meeting you soon!

  9. Kourtney Heintz

     /  February 16, 2015

    I’m so glad the conference was able to find a new venue. I hate censorship in any form. If they don’t like the conference topics, don’t attend. But to boot an organization out of a venue because you don’t like their panels is just wrong. Thanks for standing up and speaking out! 🙂

  1. The Banned and the Beautiful: Celebrating Women Writers | Alice White Author

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