Michael's blog

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Sexuality and making sex work

In her New Year's message, Elizabeth reflects on the place of sex work within an internet site dedicated to public discussion of sexuality and its place in our culture. I agree with her that this site was not designed to just be a sex work forum. However discussions on sexuality inevitably bring sex work in all its manifestations and diversity into their ambit.

While it is easy to discuss sex work merely as a rights based issue, a more nuanced understanding cannot be achieved without considering how our knowledge of and attitudes to sexuality inform and are informed by sex work.

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When is it in to be out?

Women, Sex and Blogging

Earlier we have written about the difficulty many bloggers and people working in stigmatised trades and professions have with maintaining multiple identies. We have also frequently described the tragedies that unfold when people are outed by zealous media, bigots or jealous colleagues.

This solstice season, a time for reflection and coming together, has been marked by an enthusiasm that at times borders on a feeding frenzy, to out bloggers, or suggest that they may be not be quite who they appear to be in their blogs. This raises many concerns.

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A Day to End All Days

December 17

 

Today is December 17th, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. There have been many days related to sex work and violence over the last month or two and many days that remember a myriad of other causes. The danger of days of rememberance is that each special day obscures the next. Will we remember today tomorrow? Is a day sufficient for such an important subject? Don't other causes have awareness months? Will violence against sex workers have ceased by tomorrow?

 

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Science and Responsibility: A response to Margaret Brooks and Donna Hughes

Margaret Brooks and Donna Hughes of Citizens Against Trafficking (CAT) criticise our lettter to the Rhode Island legislature of July 31st raising concerns about proposed criminalisation of sex work. . In their article "International Sex Radicals Campaign to Keep Prostitution Decriminalized in Rhode Island" they claim the presence of an international conspiracy.

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Rhode Island: The next step

In writing our letter to the Rhode Island legislature in July of this year, we were forced to depart from our usual position of building and bridging communities by the political realities. Nor was it easy for us to explain to the politicians how the bills` supporters conflated and generalised information from one sector of a highly diversified activity without appearing to privilege the indoor market.

As it so happened, our decision to send a letter from the academic community was reasonably effective. Predictably we were attacked by the extreme right wing as perverts and pedophiles.  We now need to move on to the planned second stage, a letter from the rest of the community involved in sex work, and also an opportunity for those who were unable to sign the first letter.

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Coordinating research and informing policy in sex work

We have previously written about the need for the sex work research community to influence the overall research agenda to ensure that resources are directed to research that is responsible, responsive to need and that informs public and social policy.

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Fundamental freedoms or moral soapbox?

There are essentially two ways to change unjust laws, by appealing to the legislature, or by referring the statutes to an independent judiciary for a  determination of whether they transgress fundamental freedoms protected by the constitution. Both approaches have been tried in Canada with respect to sex work legislation. 

The last judicial review ocurred in 1990, and was lost in an interesting split of the Supreme Court along gender lines. It nearly succceeded however. It passed the first test, in that of two sections of the Criminal Code that were being challenged, the majority of the court held that;

Section 195.1(1)(c) of the Code is inconsistent with s. 2(b of the Charter but is justifiable under s. 1 of the Charter

Section 195.11(1)(c), as it was then, dates from 1972 and prohibits solicitation in public. Specifically it states that;

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Entrenching privilege: Child-care, parenting and politics

A Father's Day Reflection  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The  story of Sarah Coral Hanson-Young illustrates two intersecting themes that entrench male privilege - the representation of gender in politics and the imbalance in responsibility for parenting. It is of concern that many (but not all) legislatures under-represent women, ensuring a cycle in which women's interests remain a low priority and decisions that are gendered continue to be taken. Yet so long as women carry an unequal burden of domestic and child-care responsibility this is unlikely to change appreciably.

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The Business of Sex

"The Business of Sex" is the title of this year's meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (Eastern and Midcontinent Regions) in St Petersburg, Florida June 5-7. We think it is important that there be representation from all realms of knowledge, theoretical, empirical and experiential, and that there be free dialogue between researchers and practitioners. 

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Don't put your daughter on the stage

Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington, wrote Noel Coward in 1947. Till the early twentieth actors, actresses and all things to do with theatre were considered unseemly as a career choice. Actors were often conflated with 'rogues', 'vagabonds' and 'loose women' as an underclass. The twentieth century saw a paradigm shift whereby  an acting career could bring fame and fortune, and  actresses and actors like Vanessa Redgrave and Ronald Reagan could enter politics without having their characters impugned. 

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