The UK government recently voted not to reform sex and relationship education in our country, notably leaving “same-sex relationships, sexual violence, domestic violence and sexual consent” out of the curriculum.
This absolutely horrified me: talking to my brother (who left high school last summer) it strikes me that virtually nothing has changed about sex education since I was at school ten years ago, despite the astounding developments we’ve made since then.
A legal partnership has been recognised between two men and two women in this country for more than half a decade – and yet we don’t teach our children about homophobia, biphobia and same-sex relationships – why? Isn’t that just asking for our more progressive laws to be trampled all over by the MPs of the future?
Public Health England reported earlier this month that half a million new sexually transmitted infections were diagnosed in 2012, which is a 5% rise and telling of how urgently we need to review what we’re telling young people about sex and staying safe. We have to be sure that we’re getting the message out effectively – and quickly, before teenagers start to experiment on their own and find themselves potentially saddled with infections that could leave them infertile.
I generally consider myself a sex-positive person, and although I generally try to avoid picking up an infection myself, I won’t judge people who do have diagnoses – but even I think it’s wrong that a child could end up with an infection that could render them infertile because the Government decided they didn’t need to know how to protect themselves.
And that’s just safer sex – the areas specifically mentioned by New Clause 20 are almost more important: in not passing this clause for further reading, our MPs essentially decided that we don’t need to explain to children the complicated mess that is consent and domestic and sexual violence. Just how are we going to make a dent in those rape and DV figures, which (whilst above zero) are far too high?
We don’t have to promote sex and relationships – we simply need to prepare children and young people, so that when they are ready to engage in relationships of their own, they have the knowledge they need to go about it safely and with respect for other people.
Children and young people themselves have said that they want more information about sex and relationships, and in rejecting NC20, the government is actively flying in the face of that. Well, they aren’t of voting age, so their thoughts don’t matter, right?
The good news is that the shadow leader of the House of Lords has taken the decision to raise the question of sex and relationship education again. There’s still an opportunity to make noise about it, and hopefully, this time, ensure that mandatory SRE makes it into schools someday soon. Brook has more information and we need to be pushing to make sure politicians understand the views of UK citizens.
So there’s a Tumblr/Twitter calling itself “Creepshots”. The social media arena is just an offshoot from their site. Let me let them explain what they’re about with some bits from their “About Us”, which, at the time of this writing, was removed from their tumblr-
“What is a ‘CreepShot’ you ask? Easy. Creepshots are CANDID pictures. If a person is posing or aware that a picture is being taken, then it is no longer a creepshot. A true creepshot captures the natural sexy, embarrassing or funny aspect of the subject mater (sic)/person without their knowledge. “
If you discover you’ve had a photo of your body taken without your consent (which sites like this encourage men to do, and then encourages them to self-congratulate each other on violating boundaries), then you’re welcome to do one of two things, Creepshots says. You can feel admired, apparently, by the fact that someone found you attractive enough to stalk and sexually harass you! “If however, you wore something sexy, tight or revealing & are shocked, ashamed, belittled & embarrassed that you were creeped” (nice slutshaming there), then you can write them and demand the photo be removed and they may or may not listen to you because they’re a bunch of entitled douchecanoes.
This is fucking disgusting. I’m pretty sure the only reason Creepshots removed extra info about themselves and how to submit your own “candid creeps” is because of a Jezebel article drawing attention to them. Tumblr is aflame is fury thanks to Tumblr user themanwiththebluebox. And Tumblr has said… nothing. Not a word.
Contrary to what many people think, oftentimes candid sites like this aren’t protected legally, though sadly (as far as I know) not because it’s unacceptable stalkerish behaviour. It’s actually not protected because if it’s advertised as “sexy” or for erotic purposes, especially if money is being exchanged, they need to have 2257s to ensure they’re over 18.
“Take a look at the world around you,” the Tumblr urges. “There are creeportunities everywhere: durring your commute, shopping, coffee shops, office, sporting events or just even walking down the street!”
Gym-goers in workout gear and jean-clad shoppers — obviously asking for it while on exercise equipment and perusing the drugstore’s gift card selection — factor prominently. Surprise, surprise: all of the photos are of women. Some are in bikinis, others in sweats. It doesn’t matter; they’re all worthy prey by virtue of not knowing they’re being preyed upon. “She’s not asking for it,” one caption reads. “She’s begging for it.”
This isn’t my first run-in with candid porn, by the way. I got into this with another similar type of site when I helped get it removed. I should check up on them too, while I’m at it.
What annoys me especially as a porn performer is that this is my *job*, so I know better than most that there is a fucking time and a place. If porn is being made of you, you should be aware, and you should be getting compensated. There’s a need for consent to be clearly given and received for wank material, in my opinion, or you’re taking advantage of people, which makes you a sleazeball. It’s not an admirable thing to show off that you can lurk around and snap inappropriate photos of women as they go about their lives- you do realize that everyone looks down on that person, right? Not only is it entitled, and patriarchal, and potentially illegal (are you sure of their age? REALLY sure?) it’s also just sad.
What makes me REALLY sad is this will be labelled as porn culture.
My porn culture is one of consent, joy, and sexyfuntime, not male privilege and sexual harassment.
Tumblr hasn’t been the best in their response to this. So far, they haven’t commented at all, despite their Community Policy Guidelines drawing lines at self harm and claiming to be fiercely anti-harassment (what that means is vague). Last year, they deleted Predditors, which sought to identify the “creeps” posting these candid nonconsensual photos, though they’ve since reinstated it. What I really don’t get, though, is that *this is in their policy*
Don’t post content that violates anyone’s privacy, including … private photos of your ex’s junk (no matter how attractive).
But somehow this doesn’t cover *random women going about their daily lives*???
I despair, I truly do.
Anyway. There’s a call to action, which I’ll repost from Tumblr user TheRogueFeminist:
Want to report? There’s two ways-it’s more effective if you do both:
1) Block them here and then report for harassment.
2) You can also email tumblr at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them to ban creepshots. Provide them with the url to the blog (creepshots.tumblr.com) and explain why they should be banned. If you’re too lazy to write out an email, you can use mine:
Hello tumblr staff,
Please remove/ban the blog creepshots.tumblr.com. They post demeaning, humiliating and objectifying pictures of women (typically their asses and breasts and even under their skirts) that they take without their permission on the street and in public. These guys were banned and deleted from reddit. Can you really say that tumblr is less of a safe respectable place than reddit?
What they are doing is wrong. Many, many users on tumblr feel violated and unsafe by this blog’s presence in the tumblr community. These men are violating the privacy of women everywhere. They specifically state in their about me: “Creepshots are CANDID pictures. If a person is posing or aware that a picture is being taken, then it is no longer a creepshot. A true creepshot captures the natural sexy, embarrassing or funny aspect of the subject mater/person without their knowledge.” They specifically state that only accept pictures of people whose privacy has been violated (source: http://creepshots.tumblr.com/AboutUs).
Please do something to show that you care about the safety and dignity of women, particularly the women in the tumblr community. If you don’t care about that, can you at least ban/delete them in the name of protecting yourself from legal liability? because there’s a strong likelihood that some of those pictures are of underaged girls. Given that these men are taking pics of young women they don’t know, how can they know their ages for certain? All it takes is one concerned parent or adolescent seeing their picture on that site, and if you don’t take it down, legal action could be taken against you.
So please, in the name of what is ethical and right and even legally responsible and smart, delete creepshots. Thank you.
Adverts for their products appeared next to a group captioned “I like her for her brains” below a woman lying with a pool of blood around her head, and another titled “Violently Raping Your Friend Just for Laughs”.
Ok, I just for kicked off Facebook for 24 hours. You know why? Because I just got scolded for my second warning. Oh no, you say! What did I do? It must’ve been REALLY AWFUL if pages and images like the above *are allowed to stay up forever because they’re just bad taste, right*.
The first time, I was booted because I posted an image on Instagram which posted to Facebook where you could see my nipple. Gasp! Horror! I mean, in this day and age! A nipple! Which is interesting, because while they are anti-women’sbreasts, they are apparently cool with baby penises.
This time, it was for posting a link to a trailer for a Queer Porn TV piece I did with my porno soulmate Betty Blac and filmed by femme fatale Courtney Trouble. Because sex isn’t ok on Facebook, right. And, you know, fair enough- it’s porn.Though actually, on contemplation, it’s a link to porn, which is actually ok according to their standards, and on looking at it further? It’s because when I shared it, this is the image that automatically came up when I shared the post via FB’s sharing button on my mobile (the original post, mind, is still up), and it showed… yep, that’s right. A nipple. HORROR. And I couldn’t elect to remove an image, cause FB doesn’t let you do that on your mobile.
Anyway I guess I got confused, because Facebook has been ok with so many other things lately that I didn’t think some loving sex would be an issue. Silly me.
Because, of course, had it been a video of a 12 year old girl being violently raped, that’d be ok. Not an isolated incident, mind- it happens often enough that it’s becoming a trend. Cause porn is bad, mmk, but videos of young girls and women being raped, that’s just bad taste entertainment! Never mind that the subsequent humiliation is further abuse that can continue long after the sexual assault. One piece I read believes that’s more of the point- the public shaming of a young woman as a group bonding activity. Thanks, Facebook, for fostering that but making sure that dirty porn stays far, far away!
Granted, you know, it’s also totally ok to use Facebook as a humiliation tactic. In one Youtube video that I won’t link to, a mother yelling at her 14 year old daughter (who she’s dressed up presumably as a “slut” for her public shaming) references that some boys posted photos of this girl engaging in sex acts to her Facebook page (which presumably didn’t get deleted immediately as Mum found it, despite being both nonconsensually shared*and child porn*). This mother also threatens that she’s going to beat her daughter, film it, and post that on Facebook as a lesson for the boys she sleeps with- cause, you know, that’ll show them!
She’s not the only parent to think of filming the beating of her child and then sharing it on the internet to further punish her kid, though. But maybe she hasn’t heard that those videos are being used as evidence of, well, child abuse. That said, even in those cases, the videos are allowed to be shared over, and over, and over again, furthering the humiliation which was the point of putting them online in the first place. Are we that addicted to human suffering?
I think I’ll just close with this, cause it pretty much sums up my disgust:
The specific clause inFacebook’s statement of rights and responsibilitiesthat’s supposed to protect groups against violence and hate speech instructs the user: “You will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.” However, Facebook has now defended the numerous pages that clearly violate these terms by claiming: “Groups that express an opinion on a state, institution, or set of beliefs – even if that opinion is outrageous or offensive to some – do not by themselves violate our policies.” Which is strange, because if a page entitled “Roses are red, violets are blue, I’ve got a knife, get in the van” isn’t hateful, threatening or gratuitously violent, I don’t for the life of me know what is.
It was back in August that feminists first began to notice the proliferation of pro-rape pages on the popular social networking site. Two months later over 176,000 people have signed a US-based petition calling on Facebook to take them down, and nearly 4,000 people have signed aUK-based petition calling for the same. The Facebook pages, such as the one cited above and others that include “You know she’s playing hard to get when your [sic] chasing her down an alleyway” still remain.
Facebook’s initial response to the public outcry was to suggest that promoting violence against women was equivalent to telling a rude joke down the pub: “It is very important to point out that what one person finds offensive another can find entertaining” went the bizarre rape apologia. “Just as telling a rude joke won’t get you thrown out of your local pub, it won’t get you thrown off Facebook.”
And in some ways they’re right: telling a rude joke probably wouldn’t get you thrown out of your local pub. I’d suggest, however, that propping up your local bar while inciting others to rape your mate’s girlfriend “to see if she can put up a fight” would not only get you thrown out, it would in all likelihood get you arrested as well. Still, at least you could log on once you got home and post your offensive comments on Facebook instead, safe in the knowledge that they wouldn’t do anything about it.
What Facebook and others who defend this pernicious hate speech don’t seem to get is that rapists don’t rape because they’re somehow evil or perverted or in any way particularly different from than the average man in the street: rapists rape because they can. Rapists rape because they know the odds are stacked in their favour, because they know the chances are they’ll get away with it.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted here in Consent Culture, in part because I’ve honestly felt a little embarrassed and triggered by this project, as much as I still consider this work important.
I started this project with Maggie Mayhem because I was frustrated on a personal level about a community issue, but also, I realize now, because I was in an abusive relationship and I needed it.
I needed a consent culture to exist, because I needed to come out about my experience, and I needed it to not be as bad this time as it had been before with the victim-blaming and the gaslighting and the ostracization and the accusations of “just stirring up drama”. I needed to be able to tell people that my relationship was abusive, that it scared it, without worrying I would lose friends over the confession.
So I co-founded a movement. Cause, you know, why take an easy path?
The problem, of course, with all this is that while I was doing the work on Consent Culture I would compare my story to other people’s and decide that it wasn’t as bad, and therefore wasn’t actually abusive. And then I think I got to a point where I felt I had to lie to myself to get by- how could I tour the country talking about abuse in BDSM when I was living and excusing it at home? So I kept quiet, and felt miserable, and trapped, and silenced. I felt shame as I advised people to leave abusive situations if they were ready while realizing I wasn’t ready yet, and hating myself for that realization.
In my experience, it’s hard to be an activist for a cause you’re living in.
My anger at my relationship falling apart and the systems that made that so excusable- the mental health system that told him he didn’t have depression, or anger issues, he just needed more sleep, or the police officers that pulled me aside after he had thrown a vacuum to ask me if I really wanted him to get arrested on Mother’s Day- got funneled into Consent Culture, and I became determined to change it so that this shit was fixed at the source, at every source, not just within the alternative community but outside of it. I was fed up with the expectation that I should put up with being treated badly because my partner “seemed like a nice guy/a good feminist”. And I was fed up that my friends expected me to feel triggered and upset because they didn’t want to deal with their own complicated feelings about confronting the idea that someone they knew was abusive, and therefore I should keep quiet so they could stay comfortable in their ignorance.
But Consent Culture began to make me have expectations about my boundaries. As I became more solid in the work I was doing as an activist, it became more and more obvious to me that my relationship was not healthy, that boundaries had to be drawn, that my partner needed to seek help that I could no longer give. It made me realize it was ok for me to tell my friends I needed them to choose between us, because his abusiveness and lack of accountability for it was problematic enough for me that I couldn’t be around them and not resent them for wanting me to pretend nothing happened. I lost some close friends in drawing that line. I don’t regret it a bit.
It kills me. Every day I hear at least one, maybe two, maybe more stories of women, men, children who have been the victims of rape culture. Often it’s brutally affected them. It’s hard to stay fierce when your heart is breaking because you’ve been that girl, more than once, and you want to reach out but it’s too late for her. It’s impossible to stay neutral.
This can’t keep going on while we turn our heads and pretend it’s not real life. This is happening in our communities, to people we love. People we love are the abusers. We need to deal with this, and I speak as an activist and as a survivor. Consent Culture is the personal and political entwined so tightly it chokes.
The system is broken. It’s very broken, and it’s broken in many places. But more and more people are saying “fuck that noise”. I don’t pretend to know everything about what a consent culture would look like, or how we get there, but I do know this- consent culture paved me some space to leave an abusive relationship and come out to my friends without feeling shunned. When I was raped 11 years ago, 90% of the people I knew and called friends blamed me or didn’t want to talk about it and didn’t support me. This time, about 90% supported me and thanked me for my boundaries and talking to them. You can read more about that whole situation here.
Things can change. WE can change. But it’s not going to be easy, and it’s not going to be one size fits all, and we’re going to fuck up and have to take ownership when we do. I realize now that this is probably the work I’m going to do for the rest of my life, that this work saved me, that it could save others. I hope you’ll join me in any way you can. We’ll need an army of lovers.
Meanwhile, Fetlife explodes as man who was banned from one community for burglary now stands accused of sexual assault in another community. GOOD THING WE CAN’T NAME NAMES! OTHERWISE IT’D BE A WITCH HUNT, HUH GUYS?
I notice that no one is fussing about false accusations in this particular case- is it because pillars of the community are speaking against him? Is it because he’s a man of colour and white people are the ones accusing him (supported in part by at least one of the commenters on his “mug shot”)? Is it just a question of enough accusations? Is there enough proof to make it seem valid?
I’ve made screenshots of that thread because I foresee it disappearing. It’s notable that people (pillars of the community type people) who supported Baku’s “we can’t possibly name names, that would lead to LYNCH MOBS” TOS want to name names now. And don’t get me started on white people tossing terms like “lynch mob” around when it comes to things like “being held accountable” in the first place. I guess it’s only a lynch mob if it’s a white dude being accused? I mean, look, this guy seems like a complete asshat, but it seems really fucking obvious that when a white dominant guy is an unethical rapey douchecanoe, the peanut gallery rallies behind him to defend his honor against those “bitches” who are “just jealous” or whatever. But when it’s a black dominant guy with similar accusations, suddenly no one’s speaking up.
Sometimes I wish I could gather up the whole community and smack the privilege and hypocrisy out of all of them in one full swoop.
I just really hope this is a kick in the pants to the community that this is exactly WHY being able to name names on our social media resource is potentially important.
I’ve been following a lot of the conversations in various circles about creeps, both online and in various communities I move through, and I’m really glad that this topic is getting more traction. I know that it’s a tough thing to bring up, for a variety of reasons, but until something gets brought into the light, it’s not going to change. Creepiness ends up affecting all of us, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, and it’s especially challenging for male-female interactions. Plenty of women have articulately described how annoying it is for them, though so far, I’ve seen far fewer men talk about how it affects us.
It’s important for guys to be talking about this, too. Given the very scary possible consequences for women when men approach them, I think it’s entirely reasonable for someone to assume that a random guy hitting on her is a possible predator until he demonstrates otherwise. I understand that that creates a frustrating situation- after all, who likes to have to prove their good intentions? And it’s also one of the many ways in which sexism and misogyny make things harder for men. If you want that to change, work to change things. Don’t complain that women don’t assume you’re a good guy. Their reasons for not doing so are useful protective measures in a world that sets them up as targets to be harassed, groped, and assaulted while simultaneously blaming them for it. You’d do the same thing in their shoes.
Go read his tips and become a better person. This is how we change a culture. This is how YOU change a culture.
Jezebel posts an article about a woman who posted on Fetlife about her Halloween experience where she was sexually assaulted, supposedly “for not wearing a costume”, and how many of the comments on her experience shamed and victim blamed her for being on her own and for smiling at them (and i’ll tell you, many women smile in those situations, hoping that they’ll seem unthreatening then and de-escalate the situation so they can get away- it’s not an invitation, it’s a fear response):
Chalk off FetLife, a members-only social network run by and for fetish enthusiasts, as yet another purportedly non-judgmental, welcoming online community that hosts a shocking number of slut-shaming misogynist assholes.
This election was excellent for consent culture, with rape apologists being defeated left and right, making me pretty happy. GlobalGrind has a brief rundown of this “victory for vaginas” though I’d argue it’s also a victory for pretty much anyone against rape/entitlement culture:
We heard it all from Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment and inference that “the female body” can prevent pregnancies during rapes, to Richard Mourdock’s statement that rape pregnancies are what “God intended,” to Joe Walsh who declared that “the life of the woman is not an exception” for a woman to have an abortion.
Though most people were angered, or perhaps in awe by these ignorant remarks, it was even more nauseating to think that not only did these men believe their flawed theories, but they were close to actually enforcing them.
But women struck back! Through voter awareness and campaigns, we stopped these men from taking office and taking control of our anatomy.
On Tuesday, it was declared that Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock lost their run in the Senate and Roger Rivard, who’s infamous for saying “some girls rape so easy,” lost his re-election bid in the Wisconsin State Assembly.
In addition, Joe Walsh lost his congressional race in Illinois and John Kosher, a GOP candidate who was recorded dismissing the idea that women should decide what to do with their bodies when “the rape thing” happens, was defeated in Illinois.
For personal reasons, I’ve just ordered “The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence In Activist Communities“, co-edited by Ching-In Chen, Jai Dulani and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. I’m really looking forward to checking it out, especially as I’ve been having frustrating experiences with “activist” men in my own life/experience who have a particular set of stated politics and then behave in a way completely contradictory to those values. Plus, it sounds awfully familiar to what’s going on around the silence within the kinky/altsex communities.
The extent of the violence affecting our communities is staggering. Nearly one in three women in the United States will experience intimate violence in her lifetime. And while intimate violence affects relationships across the sexuality and gender spectrums, the likelihood of isolation and irreparable harm, including death, is even greater within LGBTQI communities. To effectively resist violence out there—in the prison system, on militarized borders, or during other clear encounters with “the system”—we must challenge how it is reproduced right where we live. It’s one thing when the perpetrator is the police, the state, or someone we don’t know. It’s quite another when that person is someone we call friend, lover, mentor, trusted ally. Based on the popular zine that had reviewers and fans alike demanding more, The Revolution Starts at Home finally breaks the dangerous silence surrounding the “open secret” of intimate violence—by and toward caretakers, in romantic partnerships, and in friendships—within social justice movements. This watershed collection compiles stories and strategies from survivors and their allies, documenting a decade of community accountability work and delving into the nitty-gritty of creating safety from abuse without relying on the prison industrial complex.
On that basic thread, I had a bit of a rant on Fetlife that I’ll share here for those who aren’t on there:
I know I said I wasn’t going to get into this on here but something maymay said on Twitter made me so fucking angry I had to rant. So here we go.@maymaym: “Process #SexWorkers use to screen clients is great success case replication model for “consent culture” folks to stop #abuse in #BDSM Scene. I posit “#consent culture” people don’t know or don’t care how to stop #abuse in #BDSM Scene, cuz nobody knows what consent even feels like. I also posit “#consent culture” people are basically unwilling to work on modeling a safety process cuz abuse culture makes them rock stars. So in other words, there are two main groups who benefit from the #BDSM Scene’s rampant #consent violations: predators and consent warriors.” I want to punch him in the face.
So maymay is bashing my consent culture work while ignoring most of what I’ve actually been doing, ignoring the fact that I’m a fucking sex worker and part of my whole fucking reason for suggesting a blacklist in the first place came from being one. The irony of the situation of course is that his tweets on the topic are fairly emotionally abusive, if indirect. So, erm… yeah.
Meanwhile, he’s suggesting people like me don’t actually want to fight abuse in kink cause we want to be rock stars. I live for the day when calling out rape apologism makes me a fucking rock star-plz let me know when I get to have my special parking space. In the meantime, I’ll just continue to field getting told I deserve to be raped for calling this shit out. You know, like a rock star.
As someone who not that long ago (had an emotional breakdown) because in part at least this activism was so thankless and I was so fucking tired, maymay, you’re a dick. An abusive, part of the problem dick. And I’m calling you the fuck out.
Let’s reflect a bit on the idea of teaching teens about enthusiastic consent as part of their sex education, which we HAVE to do if we want to fight rape culture, says Nerdy Feminist:
When you are inexperienced–not just sexually, but just in life in general, it can be really hard to parse apart feelings of excitement, worry, nervousness, fear, giddiness, and/or arousal. I mean, if you really think about it the physical response to those things are all similar, but there is clearly a big difference between feeling fearful and feeling excitement. If we are not talking with teens about how their body might respond and how that varies from listening to what you really want, we are doing them a big disservice. If someone never tells you that it’s ok to be excited and nervous during a sexual experience, but never afraid or dreadful, then how can you know? These are nuanced distinctions, and if you aren’t properly educated and don’t think about these things before you encounter a sexual experience, how can you possibly communicate what you are feeling in the moment? And when we don’t teach teens that talking about sex in society or our schools is ok, how can we expect them to communicate within their own intimate relationships?
Monika from the awesome radio show Sexploration with Monika offered to guest post with three of her most recent shows discussing consent culture in various sex-related contexts, and I jumped at the chance, especially as I’m gearing up for a weekend at Dark Odyssey myself! Check these three episodes out, along with her other shows- always fun, and a great reminder that the personal is political. <3
You’ve probably heard, “what was she wearing?” or “why was she in his
bedroom?” as someone talks about rape. Why do we blame the victim
instead of the rapist? Even a police officer during a safety class in
Toronto said, to remain safe “women should avoid dressing like sluts.”
Thousands of people protested in front of the Toronto police
department, and the SlutWalk movement began. SlutWalk marches have
spread throughout the US, Berlin, India, Morocco, Singapore and all
over the globe. Join us as we celebrate slut-positivity and consent
culture at San Francisco’s Slut Walk 2012. We’ll talk to Tommi Avicolli Mecca about Stonewall, the Gay Liberation Front in the 70′s &
connections between transgender violence and slut-shaming. We’ll also
talk about protecting sex-workers from rape and a new law claiming to
protect victims of human sex trafficking. Maxine Doogan, founder of
the Erotic Service Provider Legal Educational and Research Project, has
shocking findings about the horrible fine print in this law, abuse by
police and explains how Prop 35 makes sex workers even more
vulnerable. You don’t have to be a slut to benefit from living in a
slut-positive world. Jadelynn Stahl, one of the organizers of SlutWalk
SF Bay, deconstructs how social power and sexual power are affected by
victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and infantilizing the rapist. How we can
speak out & claim our right to safety no matter where we are, what
we’re doing, or what clothes we’re wearing – if we’re sluts and even
if we’re not sluts!?
You can’t get a ticket to this Saturday’s performance of Cum and
Glitter, a secret live sex-show for and by sex workers (because it’s
sold out), but you can join us now at their (un)dress rehearsal! We’ll
talk with Dorian Faust, queen of indie burlesque, about her & Eve’s
“fall from grace” – a burlesque-ter-bation! Also race politics in
taking off your clothes professionally. Then we’ll talk to Kitty Stryker, sex-worker and “Purrversatility” blogger, about her military
spanky-the-klown (or spanking the clown scene) scene, creating consent
culture, and working as a “fat” sex worker. Kitty and her sex-positive
colleagues Kelly Shibari, and Jolene Parton did a presentation on the
challenges of being – or being perceived as “fat” for the kind of sex
work you are doing… there are positive, healing things about “fat
sex work” Kitty adds, as well. How can you contribute to consent
culture? Very literally, in fact. You can also watch Saturday’s
sold-out Cum & Glitter shows live streaming from the comfort of your
own laptop on Skin Video, or watch previous shows now on Indie Porn
How can you take all the increased awareness of rape and the critical
need to become a culture of consent generated by Republican Todd
Akin’s quote, “If it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to
try to shut that whole thing down” and use the momentum to create
healthier relationships and better sex? Akin’s statement is not only
false and offensively dangerous, but Akin’s brand of political idiocy
affects all women and the whole culture. Sex-educators Reid Mihalko of
ReidAboutSex.com, and Allison Moon of LesbianWerewolves.com and I are
literally in bed talking about the commitment to consent and “How to
be a Gentlemen and Get Laid,”- this is actually a class Reid teaches!
If rape and the fear of rape makes women shut down their sexuality,
how can we create safety and freedom? We’ll also learn about how to
drive a vulva, the unexplored and genderless joy of taints, and
whether a balloon orgy pops with a glory hole. We’ll take a
Sexploration with Monika listener question about when one partner
wants to explore something freaky and the other one is a big NO -
which is hard, because even after you try to find out about WHY your
partner is shut down, you both have to accept the other as is, because
from celibate to freaky-deaky every person has a right to their
sexuality – but how to make the unmatched sex drives work together?
Sexual freedom isn’t “easy!”
If you are passing in your car - In the opposite direction and you notice my silk black legs my provocative hips and the sunshine in my eyes, and the mood takes you to - comment on my loveliness - of course I will flirt and wave behaving like you are my only true love. I will shoot kisses through the air and share this fleeting intimacy. If you are passing In your car - in the opposite direction.
But - If it’s late. If I have missed the last bus and, in desperation I am rabbit-darting home If it’s dark and cold and there’s dampness in the air and the ghosts of the day just passed whisper warnings. If you come driving by, Aretha Franklin in your ears protected by the warmth and speed of - your metal love If you see me and opportunity springs to mind…
So Amanda F*cking Palmer has gotten herself in the middle of a shitstorm, again. Not surprising, as she likes controversy (like many artists). This time it’s about her request for volunteer “professional-ish” musicians from each town she tours in to be part of her show, in exchange for beer, high fives, hugs and merch.
I think that it’s bad form for the most part to not pay musicians for their work when you’re doing a paying gig.
Just as I think it’s not cool to have interns you don’t pay when you’re using them as free labour vs actually inconveniencing yourself to teach them the trade, which is what an internship technically is (otherwise believe me I’d have an indentured servant-I-mean-intern).
Just as I think it’s unfair to expect sex educators to put themselves in debt in travel/housing so they can lecture/teach for free.
Just as I think it’s unfair to expect that people will fix your computer, or design your logo, or give you rides for free.
It’s awesome if people volunteer, or they offer, when you say “this would be super helpful, if you can maybe do this” and then you are really grateful, offer a trade of services, make sure you’re available when they next move house or need a babysitter. That’s community, and that’s rad.
It’s less awesome when you become yet another cog in a machine that acts like you should be the grateful one for the opportunity, esp when EVERYONE acts that way. It burns out the generous. And if you’re making money at a show/gig/conference/etc, then you really owe the people who help make it happen some cold hard cash, or at the *very least* travel expenses to get to/from that gig. Actually, it’s an expression of class privilege to expect that people have the time/energy/resources to do things for free, particularly if that involves things like gas money or multiple meetups. As Amy Vaillancourt-Sals, a manager of her local branch of Classical Revolution, says here:
We have unions that stand for us, but they can only do so much. Artists are feeling desperate. I confess, I have found myself giving free performances in order to get ahead and perhaps have something notable to put on my resume. You’d think that this would help, but it doesn’t and in fact it’s made my position worse. Volunteer opportunities have effectively lead to more volunteer opportunities. Very very seldom have I found it leading to compensating gigs. As a result, my desire to share my craft and my feeling of self-worth have waned, while people around me are mocking, saying “yes, but aren’t you happy you get to create music?” Not while I’m starving, stressed and frantic… no! I can only imagine the clever and snarky retorts that you would tell those (insert expletive and plural nouns here) that approached you with that sort of BS. In fact, it makes me blush just thinking about it!
My friends and I are looking to bring back the respect that musicians deserve. As a personnel manager for my branch at Classical Revolution, I’ve been working towards assuring that my musicians are compensated for their talents and hard work. So, looking back at your ultra successful kickstarter and your request… Here you are, and you’ve raised over $1 million for your tour and album release. Here we are as musicians on foodstamps, maxing out their credit cards to keep the lights on, are hoping that we have enough money to pay next months rent, and have instruments that are in need of repair, need to be replaced, and even need to be insured. We are looking at you now and your request for musicians to come play with you for free, and most of us have even fallen in love with you and your music, and how do you think we’ll respond? We’re f*&king perplexed, agitated and disheartened, to put it mildly! What would you say to you if you were in our shoes? I have a pretty good guess.
People need to eat. Many, many people are struggling to make ends meet, are in crippling debt, and are working themselves to the bone. Creative folk in particular struggle, because often they have a crap job they hate to barely stay above water, AND the desire to create in a country that doesn’t care to support artists. $50 even would be something to many people. People *like* to help each other out, especially artists, but they will end up unable to make rent because no one ever wants to pay them for their work. “You get to be in my presence/you get exposure” is not really good enough and does not get groceries at the store. Additionally, Amanda Palmer did just raise a shitton of money in a kickstarter so this looks kinda bad (here’s the breakdown of where the money goes, and frankly, looks like she could still afford to offer $50 to each performer). I mean, *she’s* not playing for free, is she? And particularly ironic is that she had her own blog entry about how people ought to pay the artists- but perhaps it’s somehow different asking the fans to pay directly vs paying collaborating artists..?
Had she said “I really want to highlight local talent!” or “I’m eager to collaborate with my fans!” I expect the response would’ve been kinder. But she didn’t. She said she couldn’t afford to pay these people, which left a sour taste in the mouth of many artists. Worse was her response on Twitter, something along the lines of “People just love to hate me!” No, it’s really not that. Most of the people I saw commenting were the musicians she was looking for, and they’re HURT. They love her, and they feel betrayed by her entitlement, not just as fans but as fellow artists. It’s also frustrating that a lot of really excellent critique is getting lost among the sexist “bitch” and “cunt” comments. Really guys? There’s no need to stoop to that when you have such a good platform for commentary based on behaviour.
But she’s not the only person who has ever done this. This is not, in my opinion, just a backlash against Amanda Palmer, but against a whole cultural phenomenon. In fact, we live in a culture of entitlement where people are expected to work for free and be grateful for the potential “opportunity” all the time. I rarely get paid to go speak at a conference about sexuality, for example- many presenters go at their own expense for years to “make their names” before they get fed up. It’s become an expectation. I’ve had to check my own entitlement when planning events, and make sure to budget in paying for things, particularly things I want done by a specific time or in a certain way, and definitely if making money that will line my pocket. It’s so common to be expected to do things for free, that you’ll be desperate for the exposure, that many people feel ashamed to ask for compensation.
”They want everything for nothing! They wouldn’t go for 5 seconds without being paid, and they’ll bitch about how much they’re paid and want more. I should do a freebie for Warner Brothers? What, is Warner Brothers out there in an eyepatch with a tin cup out on the street? Fuck no!” -Harlan Ellison
It’s not just within the alternative communities, either. Many of my friends have done unpaid internships that are, in fact, illegal. An internship should really be a pain in the ass for the hiring company, not free labour, and yet so often the unpaid interns are the ones sorting mail, answering emails, and doing other menial admin work. No one tells them that they are actually being used. Here’s a quote from a legal company warning employers how they should work interns into their workplace:
First, employers should attempt to maximize classroom and/or training experiences rather than simply assigning more traditional “work” projects to interns. Second, employers should attempt to provide interns with experience practicing more “general” skills rather than assignments or duties specific to that employer’s operations. Additionally, in order to ensure that an intern is not viewed as “displacing” regular employees, the internship should be designed to minimize independent work by the intern and should instead revolve around close supervision and “shadowing” of other employees. Employers should also take great care to ensure that interns are not performing more “menial” tasks such as filing, clerical work, data entry, or other tasks that might indicate they are displacing other employees or are working merely for the advantage of the employer. Further, employers offering fixed “stipends” should take great care in determining the amount of any stipend so as to reasonably approximate the intern’s expenses rather than giving the appearance that the payment simply an attempt to pay less than the minimum wage. Finally, employers should ensure that internships are not used as simply a “trial period” for regular employment, and thus should always have a definite beginning and ending date.
If it is determined that an employer improperly classified an internship as “unpaid,” the employer could be liable for violations of federal and state labor laws for failing to pay at least the minimum wage, failure to properly provide wage statements, and meal and rest period violations, among others. Accordingly, it is vital for all employers, large and small, to design any unpaid internship program with these factors in mind and in close partnership with human resources and legal counsel to ensure that the employer is avoiding potential legal liability.
In the United Kingdom there were accounts of jobseekers being told to work for free for up to 30 hours a week at various businesses or lose their jobseekers allowance. To give you an idea, jobseekers allowance is about 56 pounds a week, not enough to survive on as is- 30 hours a week for a total of 56 pounds certainly is less than minimum wage. Again, these are not jobs requiring training, or offering these workers valuable skills or even a job- the companies involved only had to promise an interview, not paid work.
Cait Reilly, 22, is completing three weeks at Poundland, working five hours a day. Reilly, who graduated last year with a BSc in geology from Birmingham University, found herself with five other JSA claimants last week stacking and cleaning shelves at Poundland in south Birmingham.
She says there are about 15 other staff at the store but, unlike them, she will receive no remuneration for her work. “It seems we’re being used as some free labour, especially in the runup to Christmas.”
Reilly says she told her local jobcentre in King’s Heath, Birmingham, that she did not need the experience in the store as she had already done plenty of retail work.
Despite DWP rules, Reilly says she was told by the jobcentre that she would lose her benefits if she did not take the Poundland placement. The DWP says jobseekers should be told about the cooling-off period but was unable to comment on individual cases without being given personal details.”I was told [the work experience placement] was mandatory after I’d attended the [retail] open day,” she said.
And of course there’s the issue with large distribution centres, many stories of which have come out and horrified readers like this one from Mother Jones. Mac McClelland gets informed that emotional abuse is pretty much expected, but don’t protest or you won’t have a job at all:
“DON’T TAKE ANYTHING that happens to you there personally,” the woman at the local chamber of commerce says when I tell her that tomorrow I start working at Amalgamated Product Giant Shipping Worldwide Inc. She winks at me. I stare at her for a second.
“What?” I ask. “Why, is somebody going to be mean to me or something?”
She smiles. “Oh, yeah.” This town somewhere west of the Mississippi is not big; everyone knows someone or is someone who’s worked for Amalgamated. “But look at it from their perspective. They need you to work as fast as possible to push out as much as they can as fast as they can. So they’re gonna give you goals, and then you know what? If you make those goals, they’re gonna increase the goals. But they’ll be yelling at you all the time. It’s like the military. They have to break you down so they can turn you into what they want you to be. So they’re going to tell you, ‘You’re not good enough, you’re not good enough, you’re not good enough,’ to make you work harder. Don’t say, ‘This is the best I can do.’ Say, ‘I’ll try,’ even if you know you can’t do it. Because if you say, ‘This is the best I can do,’ they’ll let you go. They hire and fire constantly, every day. You’ll see people dropping all around you. But don’t take it personally and break down or start crying when they yell at you.”
Yet we still buy our stuff from Amazon and similar places. We’ve grown to expect free shipping. It’s just another cog in the machine.
This is part of consent culture too, and why I use the term “entitlement culture”. People who end up fucked over by these schemes or crappy job situations tend to be people without a lot of power, without the ability to fight back legally or refuse the job. And it starts small. It starts with a person on a tour asking for musicians to play for free, and trickles all the way down to big corporations violating the rights of marginalized people. We need to be a community, and remember that it’s a give and take, that no one owes us, and to be incredibly grateful and gracious to volunteers. We need to break this entitlement for all of our sakes.
Every once in a while I just want to post a bunch of awesome links to articles and resources that relate to consent culture, both very specifically and in the broader sense. It’s like being friends with me on Facebook, except getting all the info in one shot.
-Have people been following Sinfest? Wow, he’s been on a roll with feminist values lately, and often stripper sympathetic! I’m totally loving it. This one is awesome. As is this one. And this one. And this one… even when I don’t agree necessarily with his conclusions (and my feelings are complicated about what is often referred to as “sex positive feminism”), I still am really, really glad he’s discussing feminism with his ENORMOUS audience. And that he took ownership for his previous comics.
-Pervocracy discusses the myth of the Boner Werewolf, otherwise known as “why men should be really pissed off at the idea that they can’t control themselves sexually”:
If someone started telling stories about how my gender was controlled by our genitalia and sexual arousal turns us into rapist automatons, I would be outraged. I would explain in very small, very loud words that I am a person and I can goddamn control myself. I wish more men would speak up to say “actually, even when I can’t turn my erection off, I can sure as hell use the rest of my body to put it somewhere it won’t bother anyone.”
-Stoya, a porn star, writes about her experiences as a woman in the adult industry vs just walking down the fucking street- guess which one gets her more harassment?:
Before you try to tell me that it’s because I take my clothes off for a living, let me tell you that this started way before I was 18. Let me tell you that every single woman I know has at least one truly terrifying story of street harassment and a whole bunch of other stories that are merely insulting or annoying. Let me remind you that in a room of pornography fans, who have actually seen me with a dick in my mouth and who can buy a replica of my vagina in a can or box, I am treated with far more respect than I am walking down the street.
Frustrating to read, but also important, especially as adult performers/sex workers are often given blame for how men treat women in the street.
So I think it’s worthwhile to spend a minute or two looking at the world from George Parker’s point of view: He’s a good 1950s TV father. He never set out to be the bad guy. He never meant to stifle his wife’s humanity or enforce a dull conformity on his kids. Nobody ever asked him whether the world should be black-and-white; it just was.
George never demanded a privileged role, he just uncritically accepted the role society assigned him and played it to the best of his ability. And now suddenly that society isn’t working for the people he loves, and they’re blaming him.
It seems so unfair. He doesn’t want anybody to be unhappy. He just wants dinner.
Compassionate but also firm, I feel like this might be a great thing to send to people who are unaware of how their privilege is based on oppressing other people, even if they’re not conscious of it.
-Also, in media:
“Their politic, it seems, is just based on spontaneous reaction to any kind of oppression without bothering to analyze it first.”
“Yeah, but that says a lot more about the way we define what constitutes the political, and the inability they have to define themselves- I mean that kind of spontaneous reaction IS their platform. They’re linking their experience of oppression with an image or notion of a women’s army. They would find the kind of dialogue we use as prohibitive or as a substitute for action.”
This conversation is from “Born in Flames”, and is between two (white, middle class) female editors of a socialist paper as they discuss the radical politics of the Women’s Army, a multicultural, working class, queer-embracing movement. I feel like it resonates one hell of a lot with the often white, middle/upper class dominated world of academia vs direct action work that I see raging around activism generally.
“Born in Flames” really is a genius film that Maggie Mayhem suggested to me and I highly, highly recommend.
“We have a right to violence. All oppressed people have a right to violence, and I’m gonna tell you something. It’s like the right to pee. You gotta have the right place, you gotta have the right time, you gotta have the appropriate situation. And I’m absolutely convenced that THIS IS IT!”
Inspiring film. It’s so sad that it’s science fiction because getting so many types of feminist to work together seems too impossible. Go watch it on Netflix.
-”You asked me what my sign is/and I told you it was STOP”
Awesome anti-harassment song via… Nickelodeon? It’s from a show called “Victorious” which seems to be the standard, girl-in-performing-arts-school-wants-to-be-a-star drek that does so well with tweens. But this song is AWESOME, particularly because it teaches said tween girls that if you tell someone to leave you alone and they don’t, GET ANGRY! And not just angry, but “I will punch you if you touch me again” angry.
I’m delighted that teenage girls are being given catchy songs to tell guys to fuck off with! Valerie Solanas is smiling.