Thursday, May 25, 2006

(The long awaited) Polyamory and Activism theory (my first theory ever!)

Those of you who subscribe to off our backs may have seen a slightly condensed form of this, but here you are, my first (and published!) feminist theory in its entirety.

NOTE: This is about very specific groups, namely activist/anarchist scenes, and hetero polyamory within them.

The Rise of Polyamory:
Leftist men’s self-serving cure all for sexism.

“The pornographic conception of female power is
fundamental to the anti-feminism of sexual-liberation
movements in which unlimited sexual use of women
by men is defined as freedom for both: she wants it;
he responds; viola! The revolution.”
Andrea Dworkin, Right Wing Women

1. more than one, many, multi-
1. loving
2. having to do with love
3. inclined to love
4. in love

I believe in polyamory, but only in a society where everyone is equal, where everyone is allowed to be human. Polyamory, therefore, cannot exist in our society.

I have been a polyamorist all my life, before I had knowledge of the word polyamory. I am still a polyamorist today, but I cannot bring myself to practice anymore, because polyamory as a mutually fulfilling practice cannot exist in a society that does not see me as human. The rise of polyamory as the preferred lifestyle in the radical leftist/anarchist circles parallels the “sexual revolution” of the late ‘60s movement. This supposed sexual freedom for women is done not for our benefit, but for the benefit of men. The ultimate goal for these “radical” men is still the fuck.

In both the present and 60s “sexual revolutions” women’s sexuality has not been freed. It is not our sexuality that we are “reclaiming,” but the sexuality that men desire us to have because it benefits them. Being open to the fuck, as all polyamorous women are supposed to be, is men’s definition of liberated female sexuality. There has not been a women orientated sexual revolution yet. There needs to be. Having multiple partners at any given time is not liberating for women, for we are not seen as human, but as sexual chattel. We are passed back and forth between brothers in arms; our sexuality defined not by ourselves, but by those same men. One thing almost all leftist men, our supposed allies, agree upon is that polyamory is freeing for women. This is cause for examination. Are these men our allies? What constitutes an ally? In the case of sexism an ally is a man who sees women as human beings. Allies are men who jeopardize their privileged status with other men by defending women. This also means (but is not limited to) being willing to be arrested and/or beaten (as the police are liable to do these days) at an action or protest in support of or for women’s rights. The men who purport to be our allies may support polyamory, but only a few have actually laid their bodies on the line, the way my sisters and I do daily, for women’s issues. Unless they are willing to jeopardize their status with other men and put their bodies on the line they are not allies, and should be treated as enemies.

Polyamory, in essence, is based upon a respect for all people involved, and respect is impossible without equality. Polyamory is taught as a way for women to reclaim their sexuality, but we cannot reclaim things that have always been defined for us by other people: namely men. Men have defined our sexuality; they have defined words used to describe women’s sexuality and behaviors such as bitch, slut, whore, cunt, etc. Where are the positive words to define women’s sexuality? The lack of their existence is proof that women have never defined our own sexuality. When we attempt to “reclaim” these words, and give them a new meaning they remain hurtful to us, as they retain their original meanings and are still used negatively by others. An example: the American Heritage Dictionary defines the term bitch as “a female canine animal, esp. a dog” and “a spiteful or overbearing woman.” I am neither, and no matter how positively I use the term it will always mean a female dog and a spiteful woman. As long as we continue to use the words and behaviors defined by the oppressors we will never break the cycle of oppression; we will never truly be free. Female sexuality can never be reclaimed; it must be defined in the first place, something that has never happened. Reclamation is misleading, and an ultimate dead end. We can never reclaim anything that was never ours in the first place. Reclamation of our bodies, and of terms used to describe us is not a good strategy, or even possible. The terms of “liberated” female sexuality have not been defined by women, but by men to their own benefit.

The “sexual revolution” of the ‘60s was supported by leftist men. Women had legitimate reason to say no, because of a real fear of pregnancy, so leftist men started backing legal abortion. When abortion was legalized, and women continued saying no, because of the real problem that they were being treated as sexual chattel, leftist men abandoned the abortion issue. Some even argued against legalized abortion. Why? Because safe, legal abortion was supposed to insure men’s sexual access to any woman. Now during the second Amerikan “sexual revolution,” abortion rights are under attack, birth control is more accessible[1], and safe sex is a popular catch phrase. Yet nothing has changed. Women have more control over and access to knowledge of our reproductive organs, but that makes men believe that they should have unlimited sexual access to women. Our male counterparts on the radical left gloss over feminist issues of human equality, and substitute the self-serving cure all of polyamory. To them being polyamorous means that they are supporting women, however this is not the case. They are unwilling to acknowledge their privilege as men or their behaviors that reinforce sexism in society and they still expect us to be available for a quick fuck; something that is fulfilling for them alone.

Both of these so-called revolutions have produced the mother/child dynamic absent of accessible fathers. If the move towards polyamory is supposed to be liberating, why then does it create the same absentee fathers, and alienated mother/child pairs? Where is the day care or the support for mothers within the revolutionary movements? Why is revolution inaccessible to them? We have long passed the days when women gained access to and were allowed to remain in movement groups only because they were being fucked by one of the male members. (Women were only included in groups while being fucked. When the men tired of them the radical group dropped them.) These days, women can work in radical leftist groups without having to sleep with anyone in them to begin with, though human equality still has not been achieved. Women are not asked to join groups because of what they can offer the group through ideas or work, but instead they are only allowed to join to enhance and fill the dating pool. Under the new definition of “sexual liberation,” i.e. polyamory, women do not gain access to the group by one man, but they gain access to the group by being polyamorous; by being accessible to all the men of the group. Once women join these groups they are treated like fresh “meat” and aggressively pursued. An activist man once told me that the main reason men became activists was to get laid. I could not believe him at the time, thinking that people became activists because they couldn’t bear to allow injustices to continue, but the actions of these “activist” men have proven his statement to be true. I have seen men aggressively pursue new women in these groups until the women finally give in and sleep with the overly aggressive men. They are then used, discarded, and disappear from the group entirely because the problems with these men are dismissed as personal problems, not a problem the group has with allowing and enabling these men to abuse women and perpetuate misogynistic behaviors. All this has been done in the name of “polyamory.”

I have time and again defended polyamory by saying that most people do not practice it correctly. There is a lack of the respect and honesty that is inherent in equality, and I loathe the way people use the term polyamory to describe their relationships when it is obviously structured around free sexual access for men, not reciprocity and self-determination for both. A true sexual revolution would require the men in these groups to study and admit their privilege. The true sexual revolution will have men viewing us as equal, as human not pornography, and will be based on mutuality and respect. There can be no sexual freedom without economic and political freedom. As long as men have power over women in any aspect of our society women will not be free sexually, because our sexual freedom is dependent upon whether or not we are valued as human. Men do not study their privilege; it is unimportant to them if women leave different groups, because the man, by nature of his manhood, was obviously doing more work then she was, because he is human, and she is not. In most instances the women work harder (we have to in order for our work to even be slightly acknowledged), but as we see daily, women’s work has no real worth to men unless it is sexual in nature when it is encouraged. In a true sexual revolution real women’s work (not the work historically assigned to us) would be valued as much as the men’s work and these men would not be allowed to continue chasing women away from activist groups.

Men argue that polyamory is freeing for women; it releases us from the old idea of ownership. This is not true. Under the new polyamorous definition of female sexuality women are not owned by one man, instead we are owned by many. In our new “sexual freedom,” we are a fuck all can enjoy instead of just one. When we decide we aren’t polyamorous, given the male defined terms and standards, we are called “old-fashioned” a term that by leftist standards is degrading and humiliating. Radical women do not like being equated with old-fashioned ideas of sexuality, which are laden with inequalities. We are trying to claim our minds, our hearts, and our bodies, and we are also struggling not to be perceived as wanting a home and family. In fact this is not what we want at all. We want relationships in which we are viewed as equals, as humans, and if a family results from that it may be good, but it’s not what we’re looking for. Because of the views towards non-polyamorous relationships I have seen many unwilling women sleep with other men in order to prove that they are not “old-fashioned,” but that they are in fact new, “liberated” women.

Prostitution for male attention and approval is a common theme, no matter how radical we are. As long as we value our ‘partners” wants and desires above our own needs we will continue to prostitute ourselves. We need to take the power away from men to coerce us using our so-called liberated sexuality. This is only one of many coercion tactics that men use on us, but it raises a very important question: why do we need to be coerced into liberty? If these types of polyamorous relationships were actually liberating why do women need to be coerced into them? Liberation does not require underhanded tactics that leftist men use such as shaming and name-calling. This is not a free choice for many women, and cannot be seen as liberty.

When we decide not to share our beds and our bodies with more then one man we risk being called anti-sexual. Many women I know who choose this path are not anti-sexual, but anti-sexism. They choose to form their own ideas about their sexuality, instead of blindly following a sexual doctrine that they do not find fulfilling. This is the true meaning of sexual liberation. The freedom to say yes or no. The smear campaign against women who say no raises serious questions about whose sexuality is being freed. If we happen to be heterosexual, we choose to wait for someone that we consider an ally who is worthy of having a relationship with us, and these men are hard to find. When our definition of female sexuality is not men’s definition of female sexuality we are pressured to conform, and if we don’t we are shunned, ridiculed, attacked, and humiliated. If we choose to have a relationship with one man, who we consider to be our ally, we are defined as old-fashioned, or sometimes we are seen as women who have not yet liberated our sexuality. A committed relationship with one man ensures that we will be able to hold him accountable in ways that would be impossible with many men. So why are women who participate in polyamory the only ones who are seen as free and liberated? Isn’t the ability to choose true liberation?

I no longer support polyamorous relationships in public, because so many people, mostly men, are wanton and harmful in their practice of it. That, unfortunately but logically, is the norm not to the exception. In a society of true equals, where women are allowed to be human, polyamory is a wonderful choice. Some of us are capable of loving many people at the same time, and want to be able to have relationships with all of them, but love is not the basis for the current polyamorous relationship, the fuck is.

Radical leftist/anarchist circles are just reconstructions of larger society. They purport to be fighting against capitalism and all its effects, but never once attack the major ways in which capitalism survives, i.e. sexism, racism, classism, heterosexism, etc. Capitalism is inherently hierarchical. In order for it to prosper there must be a higher class, which reaps its rewards (money, power), and a lower class that labors for very little pay and supports the higher class, thereby allowing its existence. They do not address the class divisions or the ways in which sexism segregates women into the lower classes, because as men, they are not affected by it. Women are trapped in low paying lower class work and unpaid household labor. Raising a family, cooking, and cleaning remain unpaid labors that fall into the category of “women’s work,” but if you were to clean someone else’s house, cook someone else’s dinner, and watch someone else’s kids you would be paid at least minimum wage. Doing these things for people in your immediate family and your own house are expected of women. In today’s society women, especially women of color and single mothers are the poorest in the nation. It has been that way for too long. Society as we know it was born off the unpaid labor of women and people of color. Amerika was built off our backs, with our tears and our blood. There will be no revolution without the destruction of the white male supremist power structure. As long as one group is defined as normal (white straight middle-class men), and another group is defined as other (women, people of color, homosexuals) there will be no free society. These very oppressive structures are mirrored in the radical groups of today, thereby making it so that there will never truly be the much needed fundamental change.

“We’ll deal with [sexism] after the revolution.” This is an actual statement that was once made to me, but it has also been communicated in much subtler ways. As mentioned before, when men in activist groups who abuse and eventually chase women away from the groups are allowed to remain we are in effect saying that women are unimportant. Our cause is more important than the rampant misogyny in our ranks. We are too busy to deal with you, because you, woman, are not important. We, men, decide what is important, because we, men, are human. You are not. Women in these groups are always asking why there are so few people of color in them. The men pay this some lip service, but ultimately do nothing. They seem to think that if the question is posed then they are effectively working on diversity. It’s acceptable to be openly sexist, but it is taboo to seem racist. No question is asked about the lack of women, however. It is simply not a matter of diversity if there are few to no women; it simply becomes a group that women do not want to join. The men in these groups have many different reasons why they think women do not want to join; sexism is not one of them. No one cares why women do not want to join, or why they leave one after the other. They have many excuses for why women do not want to join these groups that are based on the sexist beliefs in women’s inferiority. Some of these beliefs include the fact that activism is confrontational; it is risky, intense, and laden with pressure. Women are not able to be confrontational or be strong enough to participate in these groups in the long run, since we are weaker and have been taught to avoid confrontation and to be nice. Another argument that may be seen is that women don’t fully comprehend the issues, rather we are stupid and superficial, and cannot see how vital the issues are to our fight. These blatantly sexist thoughts about women are ingrained into our society, and the people who are trying to change our society don’t seem to feel like these issues need to be changed. In the cases I have mentioned of the predatory sexist men, the group thinks that when the woman leaves it was because she was being oversensitive. What happened in reality is that she was being treated as subhuman, got fed up, tried to stand up for herself, get support from the radical group, and was ignored or attacked. No one would listen to her. No one would help her. Those were personal issues between her and the man. They are never seen as group issues; even when the same scenario is played out over and over with the same man and different women.

In various leftist/anarchist groups women are welcomed, but it becomes apparent right away that they are not welcomed for their ideas, plans, and actions. When they have a good idea it is usually overlooked until a man stands up and says the exact same thing, which is when it becomes a brilliant idea. In many instances the men don’t even wait long to re-present the woman’s idea as their own. It usually occurs less then five minutes after the woman originally presented the idea. This is not the only time when our voices and actions are ignored; when women put their bodies on the line at various protests or actions their voices are not only ignored by the media, but silenced by the all too eager self elected male spokesman who feels justified, because he believes that he has all knowledge and authority about whatever campaign they are working on. He feels that men, especially himself, are the natural leaders of such groups, being more knowledgeable, and therefore should be the ones speaking to the public. With all of the egotism, male self-aggrandizement, and sexism, it is not surprising that the absence of women in these groups goes on unnoticed; our contributions go by unacknowledged. Radical women should stand up and fight this. We should not stand aside while our voices are silenced. In the leftist/anarchist scope equality is certainly spoken about, but the actions by these groups continue to prove that women are still valued less then men. Or, as commonly seen in greater society, we are valued for our sex, not our voices.

It is not surprising, therefore, that both the first and second waves of Amerikan feminism have been born out of social activist movements. The first, the women’s suffrage movement, was born out of the abolitionist movement. When women realized that their voices were not being heard, because they were female voices, and that the fight to free the slaves and give them rights only in actuality meant freedom and rights for black men, not women, they got fed up and organized. They realized that political and social equality was a much larger issue then abolition alone. These women still continued to fight in the abolitionist movement because they understood that gaining freedom and rights for the slaves was integral to gaining their freedom as women. The second wave occurred after the Civil Rights movement, where women were assigned such menial, sex-specific tasks as fetching coffee, filing, and answering phones. They were glorified unpaid secretaries. Soon after came the anti-Vietnam War movement in which women’s roles were likewise segregated, but during the anti-war movement they were also faced with the so-called revolution in which they were expected to make themselves sexually available for the men they were working alongside. A good example of this is the anti-war propaganda poster that says “Girls say yes to boys who say no.” Before the mass realization of the left’s exploitation of women’s bodies, the second wave, women were only included in organizations for their sex. A similar consciousness raising is necessary now. We need to realize what women in the ‘70s realized: Men only value us for our sex and historically defined women’s work. Women prove daily, and especially in large-scale social movements, that we will put other people’s rights and needs above our own. It’s sad to think that all these brilliant women were abused for years before they stood up and fought, and after all their hard work the same patterns are being repeated today. No longer should this be the case. We should be organizing now, in every group we work in, everyday of our lives. It is time for us to stop putting our basic right to be human aside. It is time we think about ourselves and about ending all oppression. We have surely waited long enough for this.

One cannot wait for things to get better; we can’t wait for revolution. People must struggle and organize. Women have been struggling for centuries, and we should not have to struggle anymore. We need to organize ourselves across the lines of race, age, religion, class, and country. We need to include transgender and intersex women. We all fall victim to the same oppression.

Today, Amerikan feminism is dominant. White, liberal, middle-class Amerikan feminism has become the standard by which Amerikan women judge all other forms of feminism. Liberal feminism is predominant in this country, because it has been made very accessible through organizations like the national chapter of NOW and publications like Ms. It is how we distinguish between “feminists” and “radical feminists.” The American Heritage Dictionary defines the term radical as “one who advocates fundamental or revolutionary change.” Radical feminists are women who advocate not compromising for anything short of basic human rights now. We want a fundamental change of the systems of power that control our world; we do not want small changes. We are not satisfied with small gains within the hierarchical system; we want the whole damn pie thrown out and a new one made. The revolution needs to be radicalized. We understand that other people’s freedom is integral to our own. We are the women who will not compromise; we are the women who take feminism “too far.” We are the women who will not settle until hierarchy is dismantled, and our words reflect that. The mainstream liberal groups may reach many women, but it is our job to then radicalize these women. Liberal women’s fight is closely related to radical women’s, as the loss of any rights we have gained in the past 90 years affects liberals as acutely as it affects radicals. Take for instance our reproductive rights. Both liberals and radicals fought for reproductive rights, and both would be hurt equally with the sudden loss of autonomy over our bodies. Even if we do not agree on everything, radical and liberal women need each other, and need to work together to abolish sexism. One of the problems faced by radical women, is that most people’s conception of radical feminism is that our thoughts and words are harsh, but they are in fact nothing short of the truth and should not be co-opted. Many radical feminists are not radical at all. We ask for complete equality, and some people are not comfortable with this because it means an overhaul of everything in society as it now stands. Capitalism and hierarchy, the means by which our society is run, are integral to our continued oppression, and one of the things that we have become accustomed to today. Fighting against those two fundamentals of society that we take for granted as normal is a large change, as it is the only version of society that we have ever known. It can be intimidating to fight against something that is so familiar to us. If we are committed to a society in which all people, including women, are equal, then we must push ourselves to work towards our goals, especially when we have to push our boundaries of comfort. We cannot allow our personal prejudices or our fear of change to interfere with our struggle. The changes we need to make are radical and may make some people uncomfortable at the beginning, but they are necessary to our freedom.

It is imperative that we listen to women who have different backgrounds than us, and hear what they’re saying in order to be able to work with women from all over. We must be willing to learn from women who face multiple forms of oppression, and who come from different countries and experience different forms of oppression then we do. This is part of acknowledging the dominance of Amerikan feminism. Those of us who are white have much to learn from those of us who aren’t. We must address our own personal racism, classism, heterosexism, transphobia, etc., in order in work with all women. Amerikan feminists, especially white ones, have privilege in relation to women from poorer countries. Those of us who do not know that ending all forms of oppression is the only way by which we will gain freedom as women need to learn this fact. Each form of oppression depends upon other forms of oppression to continue to work. It is impossible to get rid of one without the other. As long as hierarchy exists so will oppression. We must come to the table with open hearts and open minds, because no matter what our differences we share a common bond as women. We are oppressed as women and must unite as women, because if we leave any woman behind we will not get rid of sexism and patriarchy. Every woman must be free or else sexism will still exist, and our goal is for all women to be treated as human. If we discriminate because of someone’s race, religion, etc. we will imitate the behaviors of our oppressors. This does not give us freedom; it gives us more hierarchy and more oppression.

We cannot repeat the patterns of hierarchy and dominance in our society, or else things will never change. The so-called radical groups that do not address sexism are repeating these patterns. They perpetuate and encourage male dominance over women, and are not truly radical groups. They enforce hierarchy and dominance and then deny that they are doing so. We must NOT repeat this among ourselves. In working with many different women we must set an example of a truly nonhierarchical group. To do this we all must embrace other women’s ways of coping with oppression. What do any of us know to make us believe that our ways are the one true way with which to fight patriarchy? We cannot hold others up to our ideals of what feminism is. The ideal is the basic right to be human. Period. We cannot expect everyone to fight in the same manner, and we cannot exclude people because our attitudes and beliefs differ from theirs.

We are all fighting the same fight, and if we don’t include all women we will never see freedom, period. We are human. That’s our fight.

Women of all different backgrounds need to value our lives first. We need to stand up to this pattern of being valued for our bodies. By working in these sexist groups, we are not putting ourselves on the line in order to create a society any fairer to us then the one we already exist in. The patterns of polyamory in supposedly radical groups are evidence of how we are valued by the movement; we are still around to be fucked. We must raise our voices in opposition to this. We are worth more.

Radical sisters, we must learn that if men are not willing to make a stand for our basic right to be human, if they are not willing to put their bodies on the line as we do everyday for our basic right to autonomy, then they are not our allies in revolution. They DO NOT want to jeopardize their roles as the privileged gender class in our society. They DO NOT want to see us as human. This is something we must learn and remember no matter how radical the group in which we work, no matter what the nature of the campaign, or our beliefs. We must value ourselves at least as much as the causes we are working for, and understand that these campaigns will never succeed unless they take women’s issues into account. We must fight. This is a hard concept for women to learn and practice. We have been taught all our lives to value others before ourselves. Our mothers valued their children before themselves. Sometimes they valued their husbands and their “acceptable” family lives above themselves. In the cases of revolutionary women they valued abolition first, Civil Rights for African-American men first, ending the Vietnam War first, themselves last. We seem doomed to continue repeating this pattern. Enough is enough. We must organize within organizations. We must not let these men, whom we absurdly believe to be our allies in struggle contrary to their actions and our experiences, continue to value us purely for sex. We must define our own terms and forge our own path. We are activists; it is time we fought for ourselves.
[1] Washington State Department of Social and Health Services in conjunction with Planned Parenthood is currently offering the Take Charge Plan in which free annual exams and birth control is offered to low income women and men. This program will last until at least 2005 as it is a pilot program. It is open to ALL Washington State residents, regardless of age.

Tales from the "Burrow needs a breathaliser on her phone" book

I sent this to the (entirely non-probable) unicorn last night while drunk:

"You know there are much more humane ways of telling someone you do not want to see them anymore than ignoring them."

Oh well, I'm going to go see Team Dresch this weekend and get the hell out of town. It'll do me good.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I'm bored and at meme!

Yeah, I forgot my 2 books at home, so I'm bored, because there aren't even photo students around to pester me with stupid questions, so I stole this from Dr. Brazen Hussy: The 4 guilty pleasures meme.

Four Guilty Pleasures in Reading
1. Women's and men's magazines. I guess I just like to piss myself off, but only in waiting rooms.
2. 1930's type Pulp know, the detective stories with Philip Marlowe, et al.
3. The Georgia Straight (free Vancouver paper-if they printed something anti-porn I may have a heart attack and it's better then The Stranger (Seattle paper))
4. Kids books (but I don't feel guilty about it...LOVE THEM)

Four Guilty Pleasures in Movies
1. Bollywood-ANYTHING Bollywood. SO horrible and anti-feminist, but I LOVE it. I can do all the dances. Seriously.
2. Colin Firth movies. I will sit through the worst movies b/c he's always (the real) Darcy to me. Really I would like the time back from "The Importance of Being Earnest" and the god awful "Bridget Jones' Diary." I blame you Firth! My brain went numb for days because of those two movies. NUMB! (I think my brain cells slowly returned to my head over those days. They had to flee because of the horribleness.)
3. Killer Clowns from Outer Space (I LOVE IT!!!!!)
4. Kevin Smith movies, but not Clerks so much. And definitely not the abomidable Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. I think I watched 10 minutes of that one. Blech.

Four Guilty Pleasures in Food
1. Grilled Cheese sandwhiches made with American cheese and white bread
2. Potato chips and cottage cheese (together only)
3. Vanilla cake frosting no cake. I've sometimes been known to eat it straight from the jar. It's been awhile though...hmmmm
4. International Foods "Coffee" mixed with hot chocolate. It's called "hot beverage" and is a hold over from when me and my friend did all nighters every Sunday in the art department at one of my colleges. Hehehehe (I miss you Isa-Isa)

Four Guilty Pleasures in Music
1. Sa-sa-sa-Samantha Fox I have the original tapes too. I love her. Supposedly she'll be touring soon. I'll definitely be there, probably by myself.
2. Victoria Beckham (I KNOW!! My friend got me hooked. AT least I haven't bought anything by her)
3. Buffy The Vampire Slayer "Once More With Feeling" Soundtrack
4. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, because I'm a closet hipster

Four Guilty Pleasures in TV
1. CBC-Canadian Broadcasting. Especially when #2 is on or Dr. Who, or any of a number of great programs they have on, that's why I'm a CBC addict.
2. Curling. I've missed the ferry to Vancouver Island b/c I was too busy watching curling. I've missed/been late to a lot of things because of curling on TV. *sigh*
3. Numb3rs
4. Veronica Mars (is one of the best shows ever, so shut it)

Four Guilty Pleasures in Booze (uh oh)
1. Fruity 'martini' drinks. Yes every once in awhile I have a non-whiskey or tequila drink, and yes it's usually fruity.
2. Bourbon, all sorts of bourbon, which I think is great, but there are many people who are all about 'irish whiskey' or some such nonsense. Shut it and give me some Evan Williams. Yeah you can put it in my coffee. (You can put whiskey in almost everything-milk products seem like a bad idea though)
3. Hot chocolate and vanilla vodka (ok, anything non-whiskey or tequila feels strange to me)
4. Bourbon and coke. I used to only drink it straight up or on the rocks, but I've become 'soft' in my old age.

And I tag anyone who laughs at me! So there!!

For my international friends

My therapist shared this song with me today, and I loved it so much as I feel this way about many of you, so here it is:

"Cradle of Dawn" by Libby Roderick
Go to sleep.
Welcome the night.
I will be here in the morning light.

Slip into dreams.
You've done all that you can.
I'll hold you here in the dawn.

Sunset in your country.
Sunrise in mine.
Lay down your body.
Feel mine begin to rise.

Sunset in my country.
Sunrise in yours.
I feel you there in the dawn.*
The forces facing us are terrible indeed.
My hope may flicker in the night.
In the morning I will plant another seed.
And while you sleep it seeks the light.


There are no promises that we will see the day,
The dreams we live for will succeed.
But, I can promise you that half way round the world,
I'll hold the light up while you sleep

We need a quiet place to let our spirits speak,
Somewhere that we are safe from harm.
So my beloveds as the moonbeams touch the sea,
Rest in the cradle of the dawn.

I'll hold you here in the dawn.
Rest in the cradle of dawn.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Really this is the last post of the day-4's my limit

Due to comments on this topic I will defer to the oh so wonderful Vancouver Rape Relief website, a kick ass radical feminist collective that runs a shelter and a crisis line. (Andrea Dworkin spoke at our TBtN years ago.) Enjoy. (I have also been reading the article in Not For Sale: Feminists resisting pornography and Prostitution done by some of the RR collective members and it is AMAZING. Great book, you should all run out and read it, NOW!)

10 Reasons for Not Legalizing Prostitution

by Janice G. Raymond
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women International (CATW)
(March 25, 2003)

The following arguments apply to all state-sponsored forms of prostitution, including but not limited to full-scale legalization of brothels and pimping, decriminalization of the sex industry, regulating prostitution by laws such as registering or mandating health checks for women in prostitution, or any system in which prostitution is recognized as "sex work" or advocated as an employment choice.

As countries are considering legalizing and decriminalizing the sex industry, we urge you to consider the ways in which legitimating prostitution as "work" does not empower the women in prostitution but does everything to strengthen the sex industry.

1. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution is a gift to pimps, traffickers and the sex industry.
2. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution and the sex industry promotes sex trafficking.
3. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution does not control the sex industry.It expands it.
4. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution increases clandestine, hidden, illegal and street prostitution.
5. Legalization of prostitution and decriminalization of the sex Industry increases child prostitution.
6. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution does not protect the women in prostitution.
7. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution increases the demand for prostitution. It boosts the motivation of men to buy women for sex in a much wider and more permissible range of socially acceptable settings.
8. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution does not promote women's health.
9. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution does not enhance women's choice.
10. Women in systems of Prostitution do not want the sex industry legalized or decriminalized.


1. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution is a gift to pimps, traffickers and the sex industry.

What does legalization of prostitution or decriminalization of the sex industry mean? In the Netherlands, legalization amounts to sanctioning all aspects of the sex industry: the women themselves, the so-called "clients," and the pimps who, under the regime of legalization, are transformed into third party businessmen and legitimate sexual entrepreneurs.

Legalization/decriminalization of the sex industry also converts brothels, sex clubs, massage parlors and other sites of prostitution activities into legitimate venues where commercial sexual acts are allowed to flourish legally with few restraints.

Ordinary people believe that, in calling for legalization or decriminalization of prostitution, they are dignifying and professionalizing the women in prostitution. But dignifying prostitution as work doesn't dignify the women, it simply dignifies the sex industry. People often don't realize that decriminalization, for example, means decriminalization of the whole sex industry not just the women. And they haven't thought through the consequences of legalizing pimps as legitimate sex entrepreneurs or third party businessmen, or the fact that men who buy women for sexual activity are now accepted as legitimate consumers of sex.

CATW favors decriminalization of the women in prostitution. No woman should be punished for her own exploitation. But States should never decriminalize pimps, buyers, procurers, brothels or other sex establishments.

2. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution and the sex industry promotes sex trafficking.

Legalized or decriminalized prostitution industries are one of the root causes of sex trafficking. One argument for legalizing prostitution in the Netherlands was that legalization would help end the exploitation of desperate immigrant women trafficked for prostitution. A report done for the governmental Budapest Group* stated that 80% of women in the brothels in the Netherlands are trafficked from other countries (Budapest Group, 1999: 11). As early as 1994, the International Organization of Migration (IOM) stated that in the Netherlands alone, "nearly 70 per cent of trafficked women were from CEEC Central and Eastern European Countries]" (IOM, 1995: 4).

The government of the Netherlands promotes itself as the champion of anti-trafficking policies and programs, yet cynically has removed every legal impediment to pimping, procurement and brothels. In the year 2000, the Dutch Ministry of Justice argued for a legal quota of foreign "sex workers," because the Dutch prostitution market demands a variety of "bodies" (Dutting, 2001: 16).

Also in the year 2000, the Dutch government sought and received a judgment from the European Court recognizing prostitution as an economic activity, thus enabling women from the EU and former Soviet bloc countries to obtain working permits as "sex workers" in the Dutch sex industry if they can prove that they are self employed. NGOs in the Netherlands have stated that traffickers are taking advantage of this ruling to bring foreign women into the Dutch prostitution industry by masking the fact that women have been trafficked, and by coaching the women how to prove that they are self-employed "migrant sex workers."

In the one year since lifting the ban on brothels in the Netherlands, NGOs report that there has been an increase of victims of trafficking or, at best, that the number of victims from other countries has remained the same (Bureau NRM, 2002: 75). Forty-three municipalities in the Netherlands want to follow a no-brothel policy, but the Minister of Justice has indicated that the complete banning of prostitution within any municipality could conflict with "the right to free choice of work" (Bureau NRM: 2002) as guaranteed in the federal Grondwet or Constitution.

In January, 2002, prostitution in Germany was fully established as a legitimate job after years of being legalized in so-called eros or tolerance zones. Promotion of prostitution, pimping and brothels are now legal in Germany. As early as 1993, after the first steps towards legalization had been taken, it was recognized (even by pro-prostitution advocates) that 75 per cent of the women in Germany's prostitution industry were foreigners from Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and other countries in South America (Altink, 1993: 33). After the fall of the Berlin wall, brothel owners reported that 9 out of every 10 women in the German sex industry were from eastern Europe (Altink, 1993: 43) and other former Soviet countries.

The sheer volume of foreign women who are in the prostitution industry in Germany - by some NGO estimates now up to 85 per cent - casts further doubt on the fact that these numbers of women could have entered Germany without facilitation. As in the Netherlands, NGOs report that most of the foreign women have been trafficked into the country since it is almost impossible for poor women to facilitate their own migration, underwrite the costs of travel and travel documents, and set themselves up in "business" without outside help.

The link between legalization of prostitution and trafficking in Australia was recognized in the U.S. State Department's 1999 Country Report on Human Rights Practices, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. In the country report on Australia, it was noted that in the State of Victoria which legalized prostitution in the 1980s, "Trafficking in East Asian women for the sex trade is a growing problem" in Australia…lax laws - including legalized prostitution in parts of the country - make [anti-trafficking] enforcement difficult at the working level."

3.Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution does not control the sex industry. It expands it.

Contrary to claims that legalization and decriminalization would regulate the expansion of the sex industry and bring it under control, the sex industry now accounts for 5 percent of the Netherlands economy (Daley, 2001: 4). Over the last decade, as pimping became legalized and then brothels decriminalized in the Netherlands in 2000, the sex industry expanded 25 percent (Daley, 2001: 4). At any hour of the day, women of all ages and races, dressed in hardly anything, are put on display in the notorious windows of Dutch brothels and sex clubs and offered for sale -- for male consumption. Most of them are women from other countries (Daley, 2001: 4) who have in all likelihood been trafficked into the Netherlands.

There are now officially recognized associations of sex businesses and prostitution "customers" in the Netherlands that consult and collaborate with the government to further their interests and promote prostitution.

These include the "Association of Operators of Relaxation Businesses," the "Cooperating Consultation of Operators of Window Prostitution," and the "Man/Woman and Prostitution Foundation," a group of men who regularly use women in prostitution, and whose specific aims include "to make prostitution and the use of services of prostitutes more accepted and openly discussible," and "to protect the interests of clients" (NRM Bureau, 2002:115-16).

Faced with a dearth of women who want to "work" in the legal sex sector, the Dutch National Rapporteur on Trafficking states that in the future, a proposed "solution" may be to "offer [to the market] prostitutes from non EU/EEA countries, who voluntarily choose to work in prostitution…" They could be given "legal and controlled access to the Dutch market" (NRM Bureau, 2002: 140). As prostitution has been transformed into "sex work," and pimps into entrepreneurs, so too this potential "solution" transforms trafficking into voluntary migration for "sex work." The Netherlands is looking to the future, targeting poor women of color for the international sex trade to remedy the inadequacies of the free market of "sexual services." In the process, it goes further in legitimizing prostitution as an "option for the poor."

Legalization of prostitution in the State of Victoria, Australia, has led to massive expansion of the sex industry. Whereas there were 40 legal brothels in Victoria in 1989, in 1999 there were 94, along with 84 escort services. Other forms of sexual exploitation, such as tabletop dancing, bondage and discipline centers, peep shows, phone sex, and pornography have all developed in much more profitable ways than before (Sullivan and Jeffreys: 2001).

Prostitution has become an accepted sideline of the tourism and casino boom in Victoria with government-sponsored casinos authorizing the redeeming of casino chips and wheel of fortune bonuses at local brothels (Sullivan and Jeffreys: 2001). The commodification of women has vastly intensified and is much more visible.

Brothels in Switzerland have doubled several years after partial legalization of prostitution. Most of these brothels go untaxed, and many are illegal. In 1999, the Zurich newspaper, Blick, claimed that Switzerland had the highest brothel density of any country in Europe, with residents feeling overrun with prostitution venues, as well as experiencing constant encroachment into areas not zoned for prostitution activities (South China Morning Post: 1999).

4. Legalization/decriminalzaton of prostitution increases clandestine, hidden, illegal and street prostitution.

Legalization was supposed to get prostituted women off the street. Many women don't want to register and undergo health checks, as required by law in certain countries legalizing prostitution, so legalization often drives them into street prostitution. And many women choose street prostitution because they want to avoid being controlled and exploited by the new sex "businessmen."

In the Netherlands, women in prostitution point out that legalization or decriminalization of the sex industry cannot erase the stigma of prostitution but, instead, makes women more vulnerable to abuse because they must register and lose anonymity. Thus, the majority of women in prostitution still choose to operate illegally and underground. Members of Parliament who originally supported the legalization of brothels on the grounds that this would liberate women are now seeing that legalization actually reinforces the oppression of women (Daley, 2001: A1).

The argument that legalization was supposed to take the criminal elements out of sex businesses by strict regulation of the industry has failed. The real growth in prostitution in Australia since legalization took effect has been in the illegal sector. Since the onset of legalization in Victoria, brothels have tripled in number and expanded in size - the vast majority having no licenses but advertising and operating with impunity (Sullivan and Jeffreys: 2001).

In New South Wales, brothels were decriminalized in 1995. In 1999, the numbers of brothels in Sydney had increased exponentially to 400-500. The vast majority have no license to operate. To end endemic police corruption, control of illegal prostitution was taken out of the hands of the police and placed in the hands of local councils and planning regulators. The council has neither the money nor the personnel to put investigators into brothels to flush out and prosecute illegal operators.

5. Legalization of prostitution and decriminalization of the sex industry increases child prostitution.

Another argument for legalizing prostitution in the Netherlands was that it would help end child prostitution. In reality, however, child prostitution in the Netherlands has increased dramatically during the 1990s. The Amsterdam-based ChildRight organization estimates that the number has gone from 4,000 children in 1996 to 15,000 in 2001. The group estimates that at least 5,000 of the children in prostitution are from other countries, with a large segment being Nigerian girls (Tiggeloven: 2001).

Child prostitution has dramatically risen in Victoria compared to other Australian states where prostitution has not been legalized. Of all the states and territories in Australia, the highest number of reported incidences of child prostitution came from Victoria. In a 1998 study undertaken by ECPAT (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking) who conducted research for the Australian National Inquiry on Child Prostitution, there was increased evidence of organized commercial exploitation of children.

6. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution does not protect the women in prostitution.

The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women International (CATW) has conducted 2 major studies on sex trafficking and prostitution, interviewing almost 200 victims of commercial sexual exploitation. In these studies, women in prostitution indicated that prostitution establishments did little to protect them, regardless of whether they were in legal or illegal establishments. "The only time they protect anyone is to protect the customers."

In a CATW 5-country study that interviewed 146 victims of international trafficking and local prostitution, 80% of all women interviewed suffered physical violence from pimps and buyers) and endured similar and multiple health effects from the violence and sexual exploitation (Raymond et al: 2002).

The violence that women were subjected to was an intrinsic part of the prostitution and sexual exploitation. Pimps used violence for many different reasons and purposes. Violence was used to initiate some women into prostitution and to break them down so that they would do the sexual acts. After initiation, at every step of the way, violence was used for sexual gratification of the pimps, as a form of punishment, to threaten and intimidate women, to exert the pimp's dominance, to exact compliance, to punish women for alleged "violations," to humiliate women, and to isolate and confine women.

Of the women who did report that sex establishments gave some protection, they qualified it by pointing out that no "protector" was ever in the room with them, where anything could occur. One woman who was in out-call prostitution stated: "The driver functioned as a bodyguard. You're supposed to call when you get in, to ascertain that everything was OK. But they are not standing outside the door while you're in there, so anything could happen."

CATW's studies found that even surveillance cameras in prostitution establishments are used to protect the establishment. Protection of the women from abuse is of secondary or no importance.

7. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution increases the demand for prostitution. It boosts the motivation of men to buy women for sex in a much wider and more permissible range of socially acceptable settings.

With the advent of legalization in countries that have decriminalized the sex industry, many men who would not risk buying women for sex now see prostitution as acceptable. When the legal barriers disappear, so too do the social and ethical barriers to treating women as sexual commodities. Legalization of prostitution sends the message to new generations of men and boys that women are sexual commodities and that prostitution is harmless fun.

As men have an excess of "sexual services" that are offered to them, women must compete to provide services by engaging in anal sex, sex without condoms, bondage and domination and other proclivities demanded by the clients. Once prostitution is legalized, all holds are barred. Women's reproductive capacities are sellable products, for example. A whole new group of clients find pregnancy a sexual turn-on and demand breast milk in their sexual encounters with pregnant women. Specialty brothels are provided for disabled men, and State-employed caretakers who are mostly women must take these men to the brothels if they wish to go (Sullivan and Jeffreys: 2001).

Advertisements line the highways of Victoria offering women as objects for sexual use and teaching new generations of men and boys to treat women as subordinates. Businessmen are encouraged to hold their corporate meetings in these clubs where owners supply naked women on the table at tea breaks and lunchtime.

A Melbourne brothel owner stated that the client base was "well educated professional men, who visit during the day and then go home to their families." Women who desire more egalitarian relationships with men find that often the men in their lives are visiting the brothels and sex clubs. They have the choice to accept that their male partners are buying women in commercial sexual transactions, avoid recognizing what their partners are doing, or leave the relationship (Sullivan and Jeffreys: 2001).

Sweden's Violence Against Women, Government Bill 1997/98:55 prohibits and penalizes the purchase of "sexual services." It is an innovative approach that targets the demand for prostitution. Sweden believes that "By prohibiting the purchase of sexual services, prostitution and its damaging effects can be counteracted more effectively than hitherto." Importantly, this law clearly states that "Prostitution is not a desirable social phenomenon" and is "an obstacle to the ongoing development towards equality between women and men."**

8. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution does not promote women's health.

A legalized system of prostitution that mandates health checks and certification only for women and not for clients is blatantly discriminatory to women. "Women only" health checks make no public health sense because monitoring prostituted women does not protect them from HIV/AIDS or STDs, since male "clients" can and do originally transmit disease to the women.

It is argued that legalized brothels or other "controlled" prostitution establishments "protect" women through enforceable condom policies. In one of CATW's studies, U.S. women in prostitution interviewed reported the following: 47% stated that men expected sex without a condom; 73% reported that men offered to pay more for sex without a condom; 45% of women said they were abused if they insisted that men use condoms. Some women said that certain establishments may have rules that men wear condoms but, in reality, men still try to have sex without them. One woman stated: "It's 'regulation' to wear a condom at the sauna, but negotiable between parties on the side. Most guys expected blow jobs without a condom (Raymond and Hughes: 2001)."

In reality, the enforcement of condom policy was left to the individual women in prostitution, and the offer of extra money was an insistent pressure. One woman stated: "I'd be one of those liars if I said 'Oh I always used a condom.' If there was extra money coming in, then the condom would be out the window. I was looking for the extra money." Many factors militate against condom use: the need of women to make money; older women's decline in attractiveness to men; competition from places that do not require condoms; pimp pressure on women to have sex with no condom for more money; money needed for a drug habit or to pay off the pimp; and the general lack of control that prostituted women have over their bodies in prostitution venues.

So called "safety policies" in brothels did not protect women from harm. Even where brothels supposedly monitored the "customers" and utilized "bouncers," women stated that they were injured by buyers and, at times, by brothel owners and their friends. Even when someone intervened to control buyers' abuse, women lived in a climate of fear. Although 60 percent of women reported that buyers had sometimes been prevented from abusing them, half of those women answered that, nonetheless, they thought that they might be killed by one of their "customers" (Raymond et al: 2002).

9. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution does not enhance women's choice.

Most women in prostitution did not make a rational choice to enter prostitution. They did not sit down one day and decide that they wanted to be prostitutes. Rather, such "choices" are better termed "survival strategies." Rather than consent, a prostituted woman more accurately complies to the only options available to her. Her compliance is required by the very fact of having to adapt to conditions of inequality that are set by the customer who pays her to do what he wants her to do.

Most of the women interviewed in CATW studies reported that choice in entering the sex industry could only be discussed in the context of the lack of other options. Most emphasized that women in prostitution had few other options. Many spoke about prostitution as the last option, or as an involuntary way of making ends meet. In one study, 67% of the law enforcement officials that CATW interviewed expressed the opinion that women did not enter prostitution voluntarily. 72% of the social service providers that CATW interviewed did not believe that women voluntarily choose to enter the sex industry (Raymond and Hughes: 2001).

The distinction between forced and voluntary prostitution is precisely what the sex industry is promoting because it will give the industry more security and legal stability if these distinctions can be utilized to legalize prostitution, pimping and brothels. Women who bring charges against pimps and perpetrators will bear the burden of proving that they were "forced." How will marginalized women ever be able to prove coercion? If prostituted women must prove that force was used in recruitment or in their "working conditions," very few women in prostitution will have legal recourse and very few offenders will be prosecuted.

Women in prostitution must continually lie about their lives, their bodies, and their sexual responses. Lying is part of the job definition when the customer asks, "did you enjoy it?" The very edifice of prostitution is built on the lie that "women like it." Some prostitution survivors have stated that it took them years after leaving prostitution to acknowledge that prostitution wasn't a free choice because to deny their own capacity to choose was to deny themselves.

There is no doubt that a small number of women say they choose to be in prostitution, especially in public contexts orchestrated by the sex industry. In the same way, some people choose to take dangerous drugs such as heroin. However, even when some people choose to take dangerous drugs, we still recognize that this kind of drug use is harmful to them, and most people do not seek to legalize heroin. In this situation, it is harm to the person, not the consent of the person that is the governing standard.

Even a 1998 ILO (UN International Labor Organization) report suggesting that the sex industry be treated as a legitimate economic sector, found that "…prostitution is one of the most alienated forms of labour; the surveys [in 4 countries] show that women worked 'with a heavy heart,' 'felt forced,' or were 'conscience-stricken' and had negative self-identities. A significant proportion claimed they wanted to leave sex work [sic] if they could (Lim, 1998: 213)."

When a woman remains in an abusive relationship with a partner who batters her, or even when she defends his actions, concerned people don't say she is there voluntarily. They recognize the complexity of her compliance. Like battered women, women in prostitution often deny their abuse if provided with no meaningful alternatives.

10. Women in systems of prostitution do not want the sex industry legalized or decriminalized.

In a 5-country study on sex trafficking done by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and funded by the Ford Foundation, most of the 146 women interviewed strongly stated that prostitution should not be legalized and considered legitimate work, warning that legalization would create more risks and harm for women from already violent customer and pimps (Raymond et al, 2002). "No way. It's not a profession. It is humiliating and violence from the men's side." Not one woman interviewed wanted her children, family or friends to have to earn money by entering the sex industry. One stated: "Prostitution stripped me of my life, my health, everything."

Legislators leap onto the legalization bandwagon because they think nothing else is successful. However, as Scotland Yard's Commissioner has stated: "You've got to be careful about legalizing things just because you don't think what you are doing is successful."

We hear very little about the role of the sex industry in creating a global sex market in the bodies of women and children. Instead, we hear much about making prostitution into a better job for women through regulation and/or legalization, through unions of so-called "sex workers," and through campaigns which provide condoms to women in prostitution but cannot provide them with alternatives to prostitution. We hear much about how to keep women in prostitution but very little about how to help women get out.

Governments that legalize prostitution as "sex work" will have a huge economic stake in the sex industry. Consequently, this will foster their increased dependence on the sex sector. If women in prostitution are counted as workers, pimps as businessmen, and buyers as consumers of sexual services, thus legitimating the entire sex industry as an economic sector, then governments can abdicate responsibility for making decent and sustainable employment available to women

Rather than the State sanctioning prostitution, the State could address the demand by penalizing the men who buy women for the sex of prostitution, and support the development of alternatives for women in prostitution industries. Instead of governments cashing in on the economic benefits of the sex industry by taxing it, governments could invest in the futures of prostituted women by providing economic resources, from the seizure of sex industry assets, to provide real alternatives for women in prostitution.

*Budapest Group. (1999, June). The Relationship Between Organized Crime and Trafficking in Aliens. Austria: International Centre for Migration Policy Development. The Budapest process was initiated in 1991. Nearly 40 governments and 10 organizations participate in the process, and about 50 intergovernmental meetings at various levels have been held, including the Prague Ministerial Conference.

**The National Rapporteur on trafficking at the National Swedish Police has stated that in the 6 months following the implementation of the Swedish law in January 1999, the number of trafficked women to Sweden has declined. She also stated that according to police colleagues in the European Union that traffickers are choosing other destination countries where they are not constrained by similar laws. Thus the law serves as a deterrent to traffickers. Quoted in Karl Vicktor Olsson, "Sexkopslagen minkar handeln med kvinnor," Metro, January 27, 2001: 2.

Altink, Sietske. (1995). Stolen Lives: Trading Women into Sex and Slavery (London: Scarlet Press).

Budapest Group. (1999, June). The Relationship Between Organized Crime and Trafficking in Aliens. Austria: International Centre for Migration Policy Development.

Bureau NRM. (2002, November). Trafficking in Human Beings: First Report of the Dutch National Rapporteur. The Hague. 155 pp.

Daley, Suzanne. (2001, August 12). "New Rights for Dutch Prostitutes, but No Gain." New York Times, pp. A1 and 4. Dutting, Giseling. (2000, November). "Legalized Prostitution in the Netherlands - Recent Debates. Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights, 3: 15-16.

IOM (International Organization for Migration). (1995, May). "Trafficking and Prostitution: the Growing Exploitation of Migrant Women from Central and Eastern Europe. Budapest: IOM Migration Information Program.

Lim, Lin Lean (1998). The Sex Sector. International Labour Office, Geneva, Switzerland.

Raymond, Janice G., Donna M. Hughes, Donna M. and Carol A. Gomez (2001). Sex Trafficking of Women in the United States: Links Between International and Domestic Sex Industries, Funded by the U.S. National Institute of Justice. N. Amherst, MA: Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. Available at

Raymond, Janice G., Jean d'Cunha, Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin, H. Patricia
Hynes, Zoraida Ramirez Rodriguez and Aida Santos (2002). A Comparative Study of Women Trafficked in the Migration Process: Patterns, Profiles and Health Consequences of Sexual Exploitation in Five Countries (Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Venezuela and the United States). (2002). Funded by the Ford Foundation. N. Amherst, MA: Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW). Available at

South China Morning Post (1999, September 10)."Brothel Business Booming at a Legal Red-Light District Near You."

Sullivan, Mary and Jeffreys, Sheila. (2001). Legalising Prostitution is Not the Answer: the Example of Victoria, Australia. Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Australia and USA. Available at

Tiggeloven, Carin. (2001, December 18). "Child Prostitution in the Netherlands." Was available at

Contact Person:
Dr. Janice G. Raymond

I just can't stop

Greeting visitors from Apparently someone over there likes my blog! And I haven't even been ranting about how much I hate Gordon Campbell or Harper lately. Wow. And welcome.

Update on the (possibly) banned books

You may have read my post about the school board member trying to get books banned from Illinois High School District 214 a few days ago. I found an article about it at The Daily Herald (warning it's a suburban fluff paper in my eyes, but the article is good at describing the situation.)

Not only has she not even read any of the books in question, but she finds them pornographic! Kate Chopin's The Awakening is pornographic? WHAT THE HELL IS SHE ON???

Here's the complete list of books that teachers have requested be added to the curriculum:
* How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent by Julia Alvarez
* Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
* The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
* Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
* The Awakening by Kate Chopin
* The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
* Beloved by Toni Morrison
* Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
* The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan

Again, here is her email: It's especially good if you read any of these books in high school. I read The Awakening at the Catholic high school I attended for a few years. Hell if they don't object.....

BTW: you can find email addresses for the other board members here. SO far none have publicly come out for the banning, but it's always nice to encouage them to let the teens read these books (some of which are amazing).

(as usual x-posted to my LJ)

good god make it stop: anxiety blogging

well the sun was a well planned evil occurance. we are now back to our usual constant spitting rain that characterises the west coast. i hope it's not raining for the critical mass on friday (5:30 Vancouver Art Gallery, Lion side), but i've been going to critical masses all winter so i should be used to the rain, right?

i've been up since 9 am yesterday with a brief respite of 2 hours yesterday afternoon. So I've been up approximately 28 hours. i'm going to visit my family for 5 days in a few weeks and that means my wonderfully abusive, manipulative mother, and I haven't talked to possible unicorn since our escapade in seattle last week. he has told me twice that he would call me at a certain time, but hasn't, and I really feel like I'm getting the cold shoulder of fuck off, but i don't know if i am b/c he won't fucking COMMUNICATE.

well at least i finally took my anti-anxiety meds (supplemental to the zoloft) and have calmed down a bit. as soon as i am done with work I am taking a very short nap and then crashing sometime after 10 (which seems the best idea given my weird sleeping habits and annoying morning classes). Have I mentioned that I love having PTSD lately?

fuck. i hate stress, it makes me freak out. and i need to be told 'i need a break' or 'i think we're moving too fast' or 'i'm really busy' not 'i'll call you when i get off work' and it's days later and nothing yet. i knew his work sucks and needs to be unionised, but i had no idea that they locked their employees in and made them work for days straight!

why did i agree to go back to my parents? i have friends in the city i can stay with (Chicago) and i know i will be going back to my heaven in the desert instead of home for xmas and i really want to see my grandmothers, as they are both very old and i love them so. i hate that my abusive mother holds the keys to access to my family, but i think i'm strong enough, and i have meds and an escape route, so really i think i can handle it, i hope.

bah-i need sleep. and a bath (i lack a bathtub though) and lots of hugs and chocolate. i also think i'm going to get an ice bat today, as i all ready have bop and beep. (ugly dolls) because i no longer care that i'll be like andrea ;).


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Hurry up and die Dumbass.

So you all remember my physics TA who said "Stop rape, say yes" right? Well during lab this week we had a lot of waiting (half the lab was waiting the prescribed time periods for crap) so I was perusing my favourite blogs. I was reading the post "This is what a radical feminist looks like" at Feminist Reprise and he decided to make another 'joke' about how he thought that there would be a picture of a woman holding a knife carving up a man. I told him that I don't carry a knife around with me. Which then begged the questions:

"do you really consider yourself a radical feminist? Does that mean you hate men? Does that mean you don't like having me as your lab TA?"

I answered that YES I am a radical feminist, and no that you do not have to hate men to be pro-woman, that things don't work on a binary like that, and that I didn't like his fucking rape joke, becuase it was wrong and NOT FUNNY. (I didn't mention that YES I do hate him as my lab TA b/c he's a moron, he's always flirting with me *puke*, and that he's a sexist fucking pig and I'd rather not see him EVER. Not to mention the fact that when I tell people who my lab TA is they ALL feel sorry for me.)

He tried to defend the rape joke by saying that it was 'one of those not funny things that you joke about, like saying everyone should get AIDS.' Would he find it so funny if he had it or someone close to him? I think not. I mean, how is that supposed to make me feel better about a rape joke? I told him that joking about everyone getting AIDS wasn't funny either. GOOD GOD I HATE HIM. One fucking week left and then I can tell him EXACTLY what I think about him. Maybe I'll have a knife. (I keed. Maybe one of those plastic ones, though. It would be kinda funny in a sick way.)


Oh yeah, he's going to be a school teacher, too. Isn't that great. Guard your children.

And if you need a good laugh after that (I sure as hell did) Alyx at Mad Shiela Musings sure as hell fills the order. Enjoy!

Friday, May 19, 2006

What century is this again?

It has come to my attention that the school board that my mother works for has a board member who is trying to ban books. Yes you read that right. BAN works such as Kate Chopin's The Awakening and Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5. The reason cited to me is because of such horrendous things such as the use of the word "fuck." I haven't read The Awakening in awhile, but I don't think that that's why Leslie Pinney (email: wants it banned.

Who's lives weren't shaped by discovering Kate Chopin or Kurt Vonnegut. I feel bad that I haven't read these books in a long ass time (too long if you ask me) to give a good analysis of exactly why they are great books for high schoolers to read, but Kate Chopin was my first introduction into turn of the (20th) century feminist literature. (It was also banned and fell out of publication b/c of public outcry at the begining of the 20th century when it was first published, which was a loss to all great thinkers who look for someone human in a protaganist.) Both of these books had profound impact on me in my teenage years.

I did not think that The Awakening taught me any wrong moral lessons. We are meant to see Edna's struggles with not loving her husband, with feeling smothered by her children, with her affair. It showed us a human being, struggling with the pressures of life, with her feelings of being trapped by her duties, and yet terrified of what freedom may feel like. For her we are supposed to sympathise, empathise, yes, but also at the end we feel the betrayal to her children that she also feels. What's morally corrupt about that? Should we all be satisfied reading the pop crap on Oprah's book list? NO. Our youngsters minds need to read Chopin, need to struggle through their emotions surrounding the character, through her development, and yes, through her "awakenings." It is meant to show us a piece of ourselves, yes, but also a piece of humanity. It's not all puppies and roses. (Sometimes it's your cat bringing a LIVE bird into the house at 6 in the morning and forcing you to chase it around the house trying to put it back outside without the bother of getting dressed.)

Vonnegut I obviously need to make no arguement for as everyone I know has read Slaughterhouse 5 and I'm sure had heard the "f" word before they had read it. So if you're outraged as I am, you can pretend to live in 214 or in Illinois and tell her how far she can stick her banning proposal up her ass (but nicely though).

x-posted in my LJ

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Identity Politics vs. Feminism

I can tell you which one I think is winning. One of the things I go over in my head is about how there are the feminists who claim that being pro-pornstitution is feminist. Well really if you enjoy it, and want to ignore the millions of women and children that are not only hurt by it, but used, exploited, and tossed away like trash, that's identity politics. Doing something because it makes *YOU* feel good is not looking at the bigger picture. It hurts women. A lot of people know this, scientific studies prove that it informs how men think about women (and it's not a liberating or very feminist view). When we look at the bigger picture, i.e. what it does to women as a group we see that it is the antithesis of feminism.

So why do so many people confuse feminism with identity politics? Surely, you say, if a woman feels empowered by pornstitution then it's good for women? Categorically NO. The other rad fems and I ask over and over how many women must get abused, exploited, and thrown away before people will start to see that it's bad for us? How many times do we have to come face to face with the terrors of how porn informs views about women like in street harrassment, rape, and domestic violence? If you think that it's all fine and dandy that's *YOUR EXPERIENCE* and is not one of countless women and children who are forced into pornstitution every year through trafficking, economic coercion, and poor self esteem molded through years of abuse. It's identity politics and it sure as hell ain't feminism, because feminism is seeing women as having intrinsic worth as people, not as mix and match vaginas, breasts, and ass.

Feminism doesn't want to throw any of these women away. Feminism is about us seeing ourselves and (here's the important part) every other woman as a person, who has potential to be something other then a sex object. We can't talk about pornstitution as being liberating b/c it reinforces and is intrinsically tied to capitalism, male dominance, racism, militarism, and imperialism (look at trafficking stats for the last two and tell me I'm wrong). It puts us on the bottom of an abusive, male serving hierarchy. What's feminist about cheerleading the male hierarchy? Really? I want to know.

Like your porn and your BDSM, but don't call it feminism. It's identity politics at it's finest. Feminism would never turn its back on women. You can be feminist in many other areas, but I'm sorry: when you support an over 10 billion dollar a year system that has at it's heart and as it's goal the oppression, subordination, and abuse of women, it's not feminist.

Again I must ask: how many women must be used, abused, and discarded before you start to see that pornstitution is not liberating for us?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Dear Andrea,

Sometimes it seems so desperate. I'm surrounded by, drowning in a culture that sees me as nothing more then a hole to fuck, then a masturbatory aid for half the species. Some days I get overwhelmed. I can't help but thinking that there are so few of us out there. There are a handful of bloggers, but really, there are so many of them. So many who hate us. But there is us. You were one, you made me realise that I was not alone, that there were other people who felt the way I did-others who saw the gross misjustice for what it really is: hatred.

I can't help but think of you sometimes while I lie alone in my room thinking about how when someone walks up to me laying on the lawn they may be picturing me for sexual use, something that I can't wrap my head around. I see people. You did too. Many people (or should I say women) do. I can't understand why they hate us. Why any of this seems like a good idea.

Is it wrong of me to be more hurt by women who turn against us, and actively champion those who hate us? I can't figure it out. It pisses me off, and then I feel bad for hating a woman for her actions. *sigh* I don't know how to deal with that. I know all about the societal pressures, blah blah blah, but I just can't help it. I don't know what to do. I guess I can just write to you. To the person you were, to the person who let me know that I was not alone.

That's all for now. Rest well.

Lordy lordy

I feel like myself again. I've been motivated to start several art projects, I'm madly in love with my math class, and I am back to my odd sleeping schedule (and low amount of sleep that I survived on for decades).

But I can't help feeling like it's going to end soon. Either the drugs are working and I am back, or I am now in a ridiculously good period for a little bit. I hope it's the former. I really hope it is. And unicorns are also helping.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

101st post!

Hurrah! Well I've been kind of absent lately due to my computer being shipped away to have it's screen repaired and I must say that I have been missing all of you. I've also been absent b/c I've been spending time with my possible unicorn and I am very twitterpated (YAY! and finally.)

I was also (rerererererererere) rereading Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy. I needed to go back and see my perfect society, and remind myself that it *is* possible. If you enjoy this blog and have not read this book I tell you to go and get it NOW! It's a book I keep coming back to over and over again. It is amazing and you will not be sorry. *Sigh* If only I could live in that future, but oh well. One day.

I am posting because I saw on the news this morning that Margaret Trudeau (former wife of the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau) has come out speaking about her battle with bi-polar disorder. Yay for taking such a courageous step to help all the other people out there with it feel less alone. She talked about wanting to lift the stigma attached to mental health disorders. Having someone so well known talk about it (as we all know) is key to getting people to listen. I am so glad she did this. Yay for her and everyone else speaking out about mental health issues. You're (we're) all so strong and brave.


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Shoot I'm late Blogging for Radical Fun

Instead of Blogging for Radical Fun I ended up going out and having radical fun involving wonderful possible unicorns.

SO instead I laid out in the sun, saw The Trucks and sang songs like this at the top of my luns:


what makes you think
we can fuck just because
you put your tongue in my mouth
and you twisted my titties baby?

what makes you think
we can fuck just because
you put your tongue in my mouth
and you twisted my titties baby?

you twist my titties baby!
and it makes me go NO NO NO!

so you think that we'll make out
in that piece of shit car you drive
ugh-ugh-ugh- no way!
you can't even get it up into first,
let alone get it up
into my drive-way.

so you think that we'll make out
in that piece of shit car you drive
ugh-ugh-ugh- no way!
you can't even get it up into first,
let alone get it up
into my drive-way.

you're burning rubber baby-
get out of my way!
you better pull over, let me drive-
you don't do it right!

beep beep beep beep
beep beep beep beep
beep beep beep beep

you need some lessons in how to get me off
you need some lessons in how to get me off



driving my mack, three am
i revved my engine when i saw him
boy in a dress, in distress
that's the kind of boy that makes me arrest

so i pulled on the jake, and burned some rubber
smelled like fried chicken in the middle of summer
i said, boy what's cooking underneath that hood?
he said, i don't know, but it aint no good

i don't know but it aint no good.
i don't know but it aint no good.

so we say, you are in lucks
we are the ladies of the trucks
and we don't give a fucks
when we trippin all you bucks

because we're off-roadin, unloadin
we come because you're snowed in
off-roadin, unloadin
we come because you're snowed in

i know you're doin your best
going out there to protest
there's something wrong with this
when you resist when we get pissed
don't wanna rock the boat you're in
youre comfortable in your skin
but if you want the war out there to end
you gotta deal with the shit that's in your pen
you were born with it so was i
i'll have it til the day i die
differences you don't have to fight
just to keep your right to be alive
no need to be defensive,
you got the whole world on your side
so do what you please, not listen to me,
and have fun just being a guy
just be a guy.

so we say, you are in lucks
we are the ladies of the trucks
and we don't give a fucks
when we trippin all you bucks

because we're off-roadin, unloadin
we come because you're snowed in
off-roadin, unloadin
we come because you're snowed in

you wanna speed it up, but i'm gonna slow it down
you wanna slow it down, but i'm gonna speed it up.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Happy May Day (in short)

For unnaked girl who kindly pointed out that it's the anniversary of the Haymarket Riots that were part of the huge radical labour movement that used to exist in this hemisphere that brought Americans the 8 hour day.

The Internationale
Arise ye pris'ners of starvation
Arise ye wretched of the earth
For justice thunders condemnation
A better world's in birth!
No more tradition's chains shall bind us
Arise, ye slaves, no more in thrall;
The earth shall rise on new foundations
We have been naught we shall be all.

'Tis the final conflict
Let each stand in his place
The International Union
shall be the human race.
'Tis the final conflict
Let each stand in his place
The International Union
shall be the human race.

From Joe Hill:
There is Power in a Union (updated slightly by the IWW to include women)

Would you have freedom from wage slavery,
Then join in the grand Industrial band;
Would you from mis'ry and hunger be free,
Then come! Do your share, lend a hand.
There is pow'r, there is pow'r
In a band of working folks.
When they stand hand in hand,
That's a pow'r, that's a pow'r
That must rule in every land --
One Industrial Union Grand.
Would you have mansions of gold in the sky,
And live in a shack, way in the back?
Would you have wings up in heaven to fly,
And starve here with rags on your back?

If you've had "nuff" of "the blood of the lamb,"
Then join in the grand Industrial band;
If, for a change, you would have eggs and ham.
Then come! Do your share, lend a hand.

If you like sluggers to beat off your head,
Then don't organize, all unions despise,
If you want nothing before you are dead,
Shake hands with your boss and look wise.

Come, all ye workers, from every land,
Come join in the grand Industrial band.
Then we our share of this earth shall demand.
Come on! Do your share, lend a hand.

and to Joe Hill, executed for a crime he didn't commit b/c of his organising

Joe Hill
I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night
Alive as you and me
Says I, "But Joe, you're ten years dead,"
"I never died," says he, "I never died," says he.

"In Salt Lake, Joe, by God," says I
Him standing by my bed,
"They framed you on a murder charge."
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead," says Joe, "But I ain't dead."

"The copper bosses shot you, Joe,
They killed you, Joe," says I.
"Takes more than guns to kill a man,"
Says Joe, "I didn't die," says Joe, "I didn't die."

And standing there as big as life
And smiling with his eyes
Joe says, "What they forgot to kill
Went on to organize, went on to organize."

"Joe Hill ain't dead," he says to me,
"Joe Hill ain't never died.
Where working folks are out on strike
Joe Hill is at their side, Joe Hill is at their side."

"From San Diego up to Maine
In every mine and mill
Where workers strike and organize,"
"There you'll find Joe Hill," "There you'll find Joe Hill."

Hey I'm a Wob, I like to sing. Find out more about us at IWW UK (as the main site seems to be having problems right now...booo) I scroll down my page I start singing "There is power in a union." I love these songs.

Breaking down the stigma.

Blogging Against Disablism Day

I am blogging against the stigma attached to mental illness. That means I'm gonna talk about it and I'm not going to be ashamed.

-I do not change when I tell you what I have.
-I am not being 'manipulative' or 'attention seeking' when I cut myself. I am looking for a release and it's a private thing that has nothing to do with anyone else except me and my brain (and the problems in my brain).
-I get triggered and freak out either by crying continually or by not getting out of bed for a week.
-I don't want your pity.
-I don't want you using my ill mental health to explain my behaviours. Yes they are informed and in large ways affected my my post traumatic stress disorder and the traumas in my past, but I'm working on it. I'm getting better and in small ways am becoming more in control of my life.
-My house is a disaster area because I can't bring myself to bathe normally let alone clean, and on those weeks when I am feeling energetic enough to finally clean my dishes or do my laundry I'll probably avoid cleaning my house since that is also the time I have enough energy to go and be social.
-I am not crazy and I am not someone you should suddenly be scared of when you find out I'm on disability. I'm also sick of being ashamed of it.
-SInce my breakdown I have not been able to concentrate on reading or anything except numbers which is why I chose my current major (we PTSD/Borderlines are awesome in that we have tried and done so many different things in our lives due to our quick boredom and inability to stay with one thing for long)
-Think that this is hard for you? How do you think it is for me?

Depending on who you talk to I have Severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or I have Severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with Borderline tendancies. (But I should point out some people in the psychology profession believe BPD to be a manifestation of severe PTSD. Seeing as how approximately 75% of people diagnosed as Borderline were abused as children (physically or sexually) this makes sense and is a belief that I, personally, ascribe to and will write intermingling both as I do believe that they are closley related, at least in my case. Remember: I do not speak for all borderline sufferers.)

Whichever it is, and the government that gives me my monthly stipend through SSI-Disability has on record both diagnoses. My wonderful radical feminist psychologist refuses to diagnose me as Borderline because if I get that dignosis there are therapists who would refuse to work with me, simply because of the stigma attached to BPD. But my psychiatrist and the psychiatrist that did my SSI interview both wrote down Borderline, so I guess I'm stuck. But if therapists are afraid of us what do other people think when they hear that we have a personality disorder? Much less borderline, which is not talked about at all.

WHat we may behave like (symptoms):
  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation
  • Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)
  • Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior
  • Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)
  • Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms
Now reading it like that it sounds really scary, I know, but I and most people with BPD that I know are not. We actually can be quite charming and wonderful. And with most illnesses we are not like this all the time. I am borderline (in one way or another) but I am very mildly borderline. I've never gotten to explain the 'mild' part to people. They're usually all ready judging me as a crazy person. I mean yes, I have issues that I deal with everyday because of this, but I can usually convince myself that my friends love me when they're not around, And that took awhile to get through my head. I am the first to admit I can be a handful, especially because my borderline tendancies come out when I'm romantically involved with someone (awesome). But I am aware of them and will do whatever I have to to hold that in and not harm the other person (i.e. if I'm angry/irratible for no (apparent) reason then I'll stay home or I'll hide my cutting from the people around me.)

Look we all have some of these issues in varying degrees. So my response to traumatic stress of my childhood made it harder for me to deal with issues, but it shouldn't matter. SOmeone who has a mental disorder should never be treated the way that we are. We're not monsters, we just have issues that affect our entire life. Like you don't have any of your own. We may not be able to control our emotions or our moods as easily as others, but that by no means makes us terrifying, scary people. We're the same people you liked before you knew. I tell people about my PTSD and Borderline to let them know that I may act strangely and that it has no bearing on them. It's just how I react to stress and generally I've been triggered by something in the first place. I'm trying to be nice, not freak you out or scare you away. When you do get fresked out and scared because of it it is not my fault but your inability to see past the stigma of mental illness. Shame on you, not me.

Some facts to ponder: (From here.)
  • Borderline personality disorder is also known as emotional regulation disorder (ERD).¹
  • 2% of adults have this disorder. (There are more of us out there then there are people who are either bipolar or schizophrenic. And some estimates put the number as high as 10-14%!)
  • 69% to 75% exhibit self-destructive behaviors such as self-mutilation, chemical dependency, eating disorders and suicide attempts. (which is one of the 'hallmarks' of BPD)
  • 8 - 10% die by suicide usually due to lack of impulse control over depression.
  • Successful suicide rate doubles with a history of self-destructive behaviors and suicide attempts.
  • 50% experience Clinical Depression
  • Approximately 25% of those with ERD also meet the criteria for post traumatic stress disorder. (I believe this number should be higher given the next stat)
  • Between 40% and 71% of ERD patients report having been sexually abused, usually by a non-caregiver. (There are estimates that 75% of people with BPD were either sexually or physically (me) abused as kids, thereby making me think that PTSD and BPD may be closer related then presently thought.)
  • Diagnosed more often in females - approximately 75%.
  • ERD has received very little attention and funding by our nation's health care system. (could this be because it affects more women?)
  • Most clinicians are either mis-educated or under-educated about ERD and appropriate treatment. Thus people continue to suffer.
  • Cause of ERD is unclear but it appears to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. More research is needed.
  • ERD is highly stigmatized in the world.
  • Many clinicians refuse to treat ERD.
  • ERD is virtually unknown to the public. (well let's work on this last one shall we)