Sex, Gender, and the New Essentialism

Sister Outrider

A brief foreword: This is the first in a series of essays on sex, gender, and sexuality. If you agree with what I have written, that is fine. If you disagree with any of the following content, that is also perfectly fine. Either way, your life will go on undisturbed after you close this tab irrespective of what you think about this post.

I refuse to remain silent for fear of being branded the wrong type of feminist.  I refuse to remain silent as other women are harassed and abused for their views on gender. In the spirit of sisterhood, this post is dedicated to Julie Bindel. Our views may not always converge, but I am very glad of her work to end male violence against women. In the words of the late, great Audre Lorde: “I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.”


When I first enrolled as a Gender…

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Dear transactivists: stop no-platforming feminists

writing by renee

One of the key, stated motivations driving liberal transactivists is to end unjust violence and discrimination inflicted on a marginalised group: violence that should never be condoned. Many transactivists I know are community-minded liberals who want to make life easier for a minority group suffering discrimination – and that is fair enough.

I would be on board with this campaign, too, if it was not in actual fact so clearly focussed on attacking women; and if it did not pose such a huge, persistent and aggressive threat to women. Transactivism has to date been so effective in its silencing and bullying of women too, at taking down feminists whatever their public profile, that it also reveals itself as something much bigger and more sinister than a grassroots movement based on solidarity.

It also makes no sense to attack women, and feminists, if your ultimate concern is with gender-based violence…

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Male Violence – Masking the Agent

Reclaim the Night Perth, Australia

reclaimthenightperth2016

This is the speech given by Caitlin Roper, Campaigns Manager at Collective Shout, at the 2016 Reclaim the Night rally in Perth.

A domestic violence worker is found shot to death in her home in Victoria. A 21-year-old woman is stabbed 80 times after breaking up with her boyfriend. A Doubleview father douses his three young children in petrol and sets them alight. A five-year-old girl is sexually abused by an older family friend. A man walks into a school, movie theatre, or a crowded street, and starts shooting.

What do all of these seemingly isolated incidents have in common?

They are all examples of male violence.

Of course we rarely identify them as such. We use more neutral, watered down terms such as ‘domestic violence’, ‘family violence’, ‘violence against women’, ‘intimate partner violence’ or ‘gender-based violence’- all of which conveniently fail to recognize and name the perpetrators, without…

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The Untameable Shrews: Taking their Message to the Streets!

“The Untameable Shrews have taken over Melbourne and elsewhere, in a campaign to demand men stop the sexual exploitation of women.

In an unashamedly pro-woman campaign the “Shrews” have declared “Vulva La Revolution” and have been going viral sharing graffiti in the form of sticker-bombing.

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Last week they defied pimps, johns and pornographers at Melbourne’s Sexpo (or SLEAZEFEAST as the “Shrews’ call it). Melbourne has been named “the worlds’ most liveable city”. Liveable for whom? With a legal sex trade and advertising promoting brothels, strip clubs where the government profits from women’s sexual exploitation, it is not particularly liveable for women and girls.

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The Shrews started their journey tearing down and painting over  posters with a letter writing campaign to councils and local government.


Their street art involves paste ups, stickers and stencils using non-violent messages stating the facts about male violence against women, such as porn is sexual, verbal and physical abuse towards women by men. the Untameable Shrews do not accept that any violence against women is acceptable and insist that male violence is the single determining factor in such abuse.

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The “shrews” maintain that the irony of Sexpo happening on White Ribbon Australia Day is certainly not lost on them and hope that White Ribbon takes note of that. The Shrews have active members in Tasmania, Brisbane and the ACT, as well as New Zealand and Germany. They’re going global and have many upcoming national and international campaigns.

You can follow The “Shrews” here –  https://twitter.com/untamableshrews

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VULVA LA REVOLUTION INDEED!

Nightmare

“Nightmare” by Rebecca Mott

Rebecca Mott

Being exited is wonderful, but all the time there are triggers.

Usually I can deal with them, but this week a punter has written to my blog, and set off so much fear and memory of being nothing in me.

Maybe it coz of the depression of Brexit and Trump being elected.

Maybe it is my sleep pattern being all over the place.

Whatever it is, this particular punter and his arrogance has really got inside me.

He is called in his email painal4whores, isn’t that a charming start.

He choose to write to an exited woman how he loves raping and causes pain to the prostituted – knowing the police will turn a blind eye to his violence.

He goes on to say how he prefer to take advantage of poor prostituted women, especially if they have been robbed or own rent.

This charmer is not original, he is…

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Young Labor Didn’t Do it’s Homework

 

Tasmanian Labor’s agenda for it’s conference in Queenstown this weekend has promised an opportunity for ‘robust and spirited debate’.

http://www.themercury.com.au/news/politics/legalising-brothels-on-agenda/news-story/6dc2f4cee4526aaa96a71ba8d7da610b

While the decriminalisation of brothels and the legalisation of some illicit drugs are being proposed by two separate branches of the party, the coupling of both proposals is difficult to avoid.

A more cynical person would thank members of the Labor party for at least acknowledging that ‘working’ in brothels requires chemical support in order to dissociate to survive the reality of the sex-trade.

I challenge Young Labor to cite research behind their claim that decriminalising brothels results in further autonomy and protections for ‘sex workers’, and could give them the power to ‘unionise’ and ‘collectively organise’.

If Young Labor had done their homework, they would know that brothels are the means of keeping violence against ‘sex workers’ behind closed doors. Those selling sex in brothels have less negotiating power, are forced to adhere to conditions imposed by the brothel-keeper and any bargaining power becomes increasingly hypothetical, with the sex-buyer dictating with his wallet, which sex acts a woman must perform.

Young Labor’s naive assumption that ‘sex workers’ will unionise independently of third party profiteers, (male and female pimps now called ‘managers’, drivers and landlords), under the obfuscating title of the ‘operational aspects of sex work’ is staggering.

While it is already legal to buy and sell sex under Tasmanian law, extending this decriminalisation to pimping and other forms of third party profiteering leave those selling sex at high risk of imposed control, including fines for lack of adherence to clothing policy fines for tardiness, and, most obviously, having a large percentage of their income taken from them. As for other ‘protections’, in a decriminalised brothel in NZ recently, a woman who over-dosed on ‘illicit drugs’ was removed unconscious from the premises in order for the brothel not to come under scrutiny. In fact, in-house knowledge of violent assaults, theft of personal items and money from ‘sex workers’ in decriminalised brothels are rife, but hidden, both by the prostituted who fear losing their livelihoods and scoring a black mark against their name, and the brothel owners themselves.

States with decriminalised legislature are target destinations for sex-traffickers, whereas countries in which buying, pimping and procuring sex is illegal, and those selling sex are completely decriminalised themselves, such as in Sweden, are a turn-off for these same traffickers (*intercepted call via Swedish police). Increased sex-trafficking is evidenced with the international and domestic trafficking of women and girls in both decriminalised New Zealand and NSW.

Putting aside the innate horror of sex-trafficking, an influx of brothel ‘workers’ increases survival competition and women’s livelihoods are substantially reduced. Women are more vulnerable, not less, to endure added sexual violations.

While it is appreciated that this proposal comes from the ‘rank and file’ of party members, is it also understood that any advice from so called ‘sex worker organisations’ such as Scarlet Alliance, comes not from the ‘rank and file’ of the majority in the sex-trade? These are a minority of those in the sex-trade, often in positions of ‘management’ and/or wholly independent of brothel ‘work’ themselves!

Why take advice from government funded groups in these positions who also minimise the need for exiting strategies for those who want to leave prostitution?

And what ‘union’ worth it’s salt argues for a model of legislation which empowers pimps over ‘workers’?

Perhaps it is understandable that Young Labor has produced an ill conceived policy based on old notions about the politics of prohibition. After all, if high profile human rights organisations such as Amnesty International can be infiltrated by pimps, drafting it’s policy on ‘sex work’ on the basis of brothel-owner and pimp Douglas Fox in the UK, brothel owners Escort Ireland, and convicted sex-traffickers such as Eliana Gil, why wouldn’t others?

I encourage a dialogue with Young Labor as it is likely their motivation comes from an ethos of ‘worker’s rights’, but it has been misled by those with a vested interest in opening up opportunities for profiteering from brothel owners and keeping the status quo of pimps over the prostituted. As we know decriminalisation leads to an expansion of the sex-trade from which the majority simply want to get out.

One hopes in the predicted ‘spirited debate’ fiction does not obscure fact, although it seems unlikely. Meanwhile, hundreds of women are trafficked into decriminalised NSW, and a ‘sex worker’ bound and raped in legalised Victoria is remunerated with a phone and money that was stolen from her wallet (rape as theft?)- cases which the Scarlet Alliance vehemently ignore . One wonders which ‘sex workers’ are considered, by them, to be worth fighting for.

Young Labor’s challenge should be to fight the global humanitarian crisis of the 21st century, not cater to the mutli-billion dollar sex-trade and further cement in to the GDP money taxed off the bodies of the sexually exploited.

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/trafficking-women-lured-with-student-visas-forced-into-sex-slavery-20140329-35q88.html

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/acquitted-of-rape-real-estate-agent-henry-jiang-must-pay-for-sex-workers-broken-phone-20160426-gof3gv.html

http://www.news.com.au/national/victoria/courts-law/melbourne-sex-worker-allegedly-raped-by-client/news-story/8d060cd87fc1f453e2863492ab4f0947

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VCC/2016/494.html

http://tasmaniantimes.com/images/uploads/The_Red_Light_Report_-_NORMAC.pdf

http://researchbank.rmit.edu.au/view/rmit:31592

http://www.spinifexpress.com.au/Bookstore/book/id=285/

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The Time That Won’t be Remembered

From Rebecca Mott XX

Rebecca Mott

To write to this blog, I must write to broke – no, smashed up memory.

To truly understand the true horror that is to be prostituted, we must stare with clear eyes into that well of despair.

To remember the realities of being prostituted is to fight wanting to block it all away.

To remember that time is to drown whilst hanging on tight to life.

No wonder to survive, memory is ripped apart.

Now is a time where I am secure and safe enough to piece together that jigsaw of remembering.

There can be no linear ways to remember – no clearness of time, place or even age that I was.

Memory of my prostituted times are inside every cell of my body.

Every day some pain remind me that my body was made into sexual goods.

Every day some pain reminds me that I lost my human rights…

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Prostitution Narratives, Caroline Norma and Melinda Tankard Reist, eds.

Why is is this Book Creating so much fuss? Why is the the sex trade trying to shut it down? Here is a clue. It tells the truth…

Me, you, and books

Prostitution Narratives: Stories in Survival in the Sex Trade, edited by Caroline Norma and Melinda Tankard Reist.  Melbourne, Australia: Spinifex, 2016.  238 pages.

4 stars

A powerful collection of stories written by women from various countries who survived their time in prostitution and are willing to talk about its violence, drug usage, and overall dehumanizing impact.

Australians Caroline Norma and Melinda Reist, a scholar and an activist, both have expertise about sexual violence.  They know what prostitution looks like for those involved and have collected twenty stories and three articles to present their viewpoint and expose the seamy underside of the prostitution industry in developed nations.. Their purpose is to share stories that sharply contradict the rosy accounts of prostitution as ordinary work: stories spread by those who profit from it.   In deliberate imitation of the American slave narratives, Norma and Reist believe that if the public faces the reality…

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“Ignored” Sex Worker ‘Furious’-But What is she Really Furious About?

In the spirit of the media’s usual ‘sex workers are under-represented’ stance the media (this time in Daily Life) have published another piece about ‘sex workers being under-represented’. The latest is by Kate Iselin who apart from being a self-described sex worker and published writer is also ‘furious’.

Targeting the Melbourne Writers’ Festival for not having a ‘sex worker’ on the panel ‘Invisible Women’, Iselin wrote a piece titled ‘Sex Workers are not invisible. We’re just being ignored’.  No you’re not Kate, pro- sex trade voices are so ubiquitous that even calling prostituted children ‘sex workers’ has become entrenched in the media and public psyche. You are so far from being ignored that when a writer exposing the sex-trade is appearing on a panel to talk about their own book, you get a voice in Daily Life to complain about it. The pro- sex trade are so far from being ignored you have Amnesty International influencing their membership of some 4 million people and every single lefty- neoliberal I come into contact with. All prostitution survivors ever hear from the media and the public is, “But isn’t prostitution actually sex work and just another job? What’s your problem you pearl-clutcher.”

What Iselin really means is that her particular voice and the voices of those who unequivocally support the full-decriminalisation of prostitution are not on the panel.

For the record, as a prostitution survivor featured in one of the books being discussed, Spinifex Press asked if I could be on the panel, the Festival declined.

For the record, the Scarlet Alliance were offered an entire session at MWF but they declined. I guess if it wasn’t a place on a panel where they could have a go at discrediting Tankard Reist and Tyler, the people they claim to represent aren’t really worth the Scarlet Alliance’s time.

Claiming this not the first time a festival has ignored ‘sex workers’ Iselin points to the 2014 Festival of Dangerous Ideas which also did not have an ‘actual sex worker’ on it’s panel ‘Women for Sale’. She uses the example of journalist Elizabeth Pisani giving up part of her time on the panel so a ‘sex worker’ could be allowed a voice . How noble of her. This orchestrated stunt actually gave the audience the voice of then Migrant Project Manager (see sex-trafficking) of the Scarlet Alliance, Jules Kim. Kim is indeed now the CEO, replacing Janelle Fawkes who, to my amazement, also calls herself a ‘sex worker’. ( I don’t doubt that some members of the government funded Scarlet Alliance sell sex, or used to, but the media and the public need to be wise to the fact that a lot of them don’t and never have.)

Iselin is not ‘furious’ about there not being a ‘sex worker’ on the panel ‘Invisible Women’, she is merely furious that Melinda Tankard Reist and Dr Meagan Tyler are. (I have not read Wykes book, so won’t comment on Iselin’s statements about her.)

While she pays lip-service to our testimonies in the book Prostitution Narratives, going so far as to say she believes our stories should be ‘amplified’, would Iselin mind having a go at the festival on my behalf? How about a current ‘sex worker’ in New Zealand who agrees with Reist and Tyler that prostitution is a human rights violation. Would Iselin want her on the panel?

You see it is the voices of the prostituted speaking against the expansion of the sex-trade that are actually ‘excluded, stigmatised, and marginalised.’ Voices like Iselin’s and the Scarlet Alliance are not. Iselin is ‘furious’ that our voices got put in a book that doesn’t serve her or the Scarlet Alliance’s agenda. So she pops it in this article instead, shamelessly playing a favourite liberal media trump card – under-represented sex workers. It’s getting old. Iselin is ‘furious’ that a feminist publisher and two editors were brave enough to publish our stories. And believe me, in this pro-sex trade climate it is incredibly brave. In fact those who don’t support the rights of men to buy women to use as their personal sexual devices are vilified ad nauseum by voices like Iselin’s and those she represents.

Iselin’s piece is manipulative and disingenuous. It was offensive and hurtful to read that she doesn’t doubt the veracity of our testimonies but then swipes at us anyway. She did it by attacking the women who listened to survivors, respectfully gathered our stories and wrote about us and our ‘dead friends and colleagues’. Claiming they are just headline grabbers. Reducing their exhaustive research, intelligence and courage to tabloid chasing attention seekers.

But Iselin didn’t stop at that piece of nastiness, in trying to discredit Reist and Tyler through the guise of targeting Melbourne Writers’ Festival, she then went on to use this as a sneaky way to dismiss survivor voices and the stories of our ‘dead friends and colleagues’ as ‘tragedy porn’.

Thanks for that.

In paying us and our testimonies some lip service, Iselin is then able patronise us as sad but unreliable dimwits who fell under the spell of dodgy ‘anti-sex worker’ advocates . I guess our voices shouldn’t be ‘amplified’ after all.

Daily Life certainly fell for you didn’t they Ms Iselin. Quelle Suprise.

 

 

http://www.dailylife.com.au/life-and-love/work-and-money/sex-workers-are-not-invisible-were-just-being-ignored-20160726-gqe52k

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