Politics and Law

Elizabeth's picture

A new sex education center is born

Next weekend, on September 26th, I'll be speaking at the grand opening of the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health, a nonprofit resource center run by certified sex educator Megan Andelloux. I'll be on a panel with some of my role models in the world of sex education and research: Carol Queen, Becky Chalker, Barbara Carellas, Gina Ogden and Bill Taverner. I'm also very excited about the screenings of Tara Hurley's Happy Endings? and At Your Cervix by Amy Jo Goddard and Julie Carlson.

I admire Megan's work a great deal and was thrilled to be invited to participate in the grand opening of her center. Several times I've been struck by the courage she's shown in the simple act of including the word "Pleasure" in the name of her center. It shouldn't require courage to pair pleasure and health in talking about sex, doing sex education work, or naming sexuality resource centers, and yet it does. Sexual pleasure is a lightening rod in this culture. Pairing pleasure and health takes special courage because while we are willing - sometimes, grudgingly - as a society to spend money on sexual health education we are most unwilling as a society to spend money on sexual pleasure. Publicly recognizing that sexual health and pleasure go together could seem very threatening not only to those whose conservatism requires the public denial of most sexual pleasure in the first place, but also for those who depend on the health discourse to legitimize their sex-related work in the eyes of funders. Megan's insistance that sexual pleasure is an integral part of sexual health is admirable for its honesty in the face of tremendous pressure to disguise or hide the connection.

Anyway, I mention all of this because Megan recently published a piece on Carnal Nation (where Chris Hall, co-founder of Sex In The Public Square lives these days) that reflects on the challenges she's faced in getting her center born. I asked her if I could reprint it here, she said yes, and so here it is, below the fold.

Elizabeth's picture

Letter to the Editor of National Review Online

On August 12, 2009 I submitted this to the editors of National Review Online. I got the standard automated response and will certanly post here to let you know if the letter is published there. Meanwhile, here is what I sent them.

RE: "Not a victimless crime" by D. Hughes and R. P. George

"Not a victimless crime," (Hughes & George, Aug. 10, 2009) is misleading from the start in that what it describes (prostitution in Rhode Island) is not a crime in the first place. In addition, the article contains several logical flaws and much misinformation. It gives the impression that decriminalization of prostitution is associated with more violence against prostitutes and that criminalization of prostitution is associated with more effective policing of human trafficking and better protection of public health. None of this is accurate.

First, violence against prostitutes is associated with misogyny and the stigmatization of sexually active women, not with the legal status of prostitution. People suspected of being prostitutes are assaulted and killed in places where prostitution is criminal and in places where it is not. While there is violence against women, and against sex workers everywhere there is stigma against sexually active women interestingly, in places like New Zealand where prostitution was decriminalized in 2003, there has not been an increase in violence against workers.

Elizabeth's picture

"Decent Exposure": Judith Levine on the black hole of sex crimes law

Judith Levine writes brilliantly about sex, teens, and the law. From her book Harmful to Minors to her recent writings on the new craze of charging teens who send sexy photos of themselves to one another with possession and distribution of child pornography, she is one of the most articulate when it comes to explaining the irrationality of the law. 

Today she writes :

U.S. sex law is like a black hole: Once reason falls in, it can never re-emerge.

Can all this get any stupider? Just as I was asking myself this question, a post arrived from sex therapist Marty Klein’s blog, Sexual Intelligence, confirming that it could:

Caroline's picture

SCOT-PEP's funding withdrawn

SCOT-PEP, or the Scottish Prostitutes Education Project, describes itself as "promoting health and dignity in prostitution". Want their creds? Sure you do -

Between 1 April 2006 and 31 March 2007 SCOT-PEP worked with 557 individuals - recording 3,977 contacts. Services and support were provided to an average of 122 sex workers each month. 367 of our service users were indoor-based sex workers and 89 were street-based sex workers. During the year contact was maintained with sex workers in 37 establishments.

The average number of individuals accessing sessions were:

* daytime service - 10.43 (189 sessions)

* establishment outreach - 6.41 (86 sessions)

* night-time services - 10.94 (97 sessions)

We provided
info and advice to 404 individuals on 2,627 occasions;
a listening ear to 318 individuals on 1,669 occasions;
referrals for 192 individuals on 1,152 occasions;
high level support to 8 individuals on 12 occasions;
and our website received 5,729 hits.

Safe Sex Supplies - SCOT-PEP distributed 91,063 condoms.

Elizabeth's picture

Report: Children at greater risk from peer harassment than from adult solicitation

Thanks to Viviane for alerting me to a NYT article I'd missed on Tuesday. It announces the release of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force's Final Report to the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking of State Attorneys General of the United States.

The task force was made of up of Internet service providers, social networking companies, academics, non-profit child and family safety advocate organizations and was formed in response to a call from state attorney generals for research and policy direction that would help keep kids safer online.

Interestingly the report finds that the greatest threats to kids come from their own peers and that the threat of sexual solicitation by adults, while worrisome and to be taken seriously, is not as great as one would guess based on the media fear-mongering of shows like "To Catch A Predator."

Here are some excerpts from the report's Executive Summary (PDF) :

Caroline's picture

More on how to protest against Jacqui Smith’s proposals

Further to my post yesterday, I have some more information from the IUSW on how to protest against Jacqui Smith's proposals:

The second reading of the new bill is now on MONDAY THE 12TH.

We must get as many MPs as is possible to speak out against the governments proposals.

This is a draft letter from the IUSW.

Please will everyone concerned with this industry send this to your MP. If you need help finding out who your local MP is IM me and I will give you details. [or check out this site]

Clients can of course change the begining to something appropriate such as concerned member of the public.

This is urgent please do this asap.

Caroline's picture

Jacqui Smith and the New Prostitution Laws in the UK

carolineAs I'm sure you'll be aware, the UK's Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is proposing to change the law on prostitution. Councils would be given more power to close down brothels, clients would be "named and shamed" and  sex with someone "controlled" for another's gain would be outlawed.

It's not a good move, let's face it. Throwing women out into the street and denying workers the right to a safe environment to work in (and this is a Labour government?!), fostering a climate of fear, don't get me started on "naming and shaming..." This is bad news, quite simply. How bad? Read more.

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