public discourse

Elizabeth's picture

Q: What to do if attacked by Donna M. Hughes and Margaret Brooks?

A: Consider an unlikley strategy. Identify common goals and engage!

Margaret Brooks and Donna M. Hughes recently attacked Maymay, originator of the KinkForAll unconference model, in a bulletin published by their organization, Citizens Against Trafficking (CAT), which Maymay suggests is more suitably named Citizens Against Sexual Freedom and Discussion (CASFD). The bulletin [1] uses a technique typical of CAT CASFD: Take out-of-context statements and blend them with factual inaccuracies to produce a piece of writing capable of creating (or sustaining) irrational moral panic on the part of those who read it.

Rather than responding similarly, Maymay invites Margaret Brooks and Donna Hughes to discuss with him the issues around the goals they share, namely, the creating and sustaining of communities that are sexually safe places. Of course I have my doubts. I suspect that while they agree on the importance of community - and sexual - safety they do not agree on the definition of safety (not as it relates to community nor as it relates to sexuality). While Maymay invites Hughes and Brooks to discuss ways to further enhance the safety of events like KinkForAll (which already provides safe space for inquiry and education around sexuality), I don't imagine Hughes and Brooks think that an event like KinkForAll can ever be safe. Still, I hope they accept the invitation and engage in the discussion. If we can identify areas of common interest we maximize our chances of successfully creating more inclusive and respectful communities, societies and cultures.

Elizabeth's picture

Finding common ground for rational discussion

While I disagree with their basic premise that prostitution - indoor or outdoor - should be criminalized (I believe that criminalization will make things worse rather than better) I want to point to some very helpful observations made by RI Senators Paul V. Jabour and Sen. Michael J. McCaffrey in yesterday morning's Herald News.

1. We need to re-draw the now-blurred line between prostitution, human trafficking, and age of consent issues. It does not help victims of forced labor or coercive human trafficking when we distract ourselves from their issues by focusing on the sexual content of some of their work. Nor does it help when we make generalizations about prostitution.

Caroline's picture

Guest Post: In The Moderation Queue

carolineNatalia and I have a wee blog project going. Here's the blurb:

Some blogs moderate comments to exclude trolls, some to allow a "safe space" for a discussion amongst like-minded people who can develop and strengthen their arguments without fear of ridicule or uninformed or inflamatory criticism. Other blogs, however, use these excuses to silence the 'opposition' and / or refuse them the opportunity of a platform to defend themselves against often distorted or completely untrue statements. This can be not only incredibly annoying, but also stopping questioning and challenging comments stunts any real discussion and even a chance of a possible solution to a problem. 
 
So, this blog is for those who have attempted to join a discussion and been frustrated, either by having their words ignored or distorted. It is also for those who wish to challenge their own views or to inform their arguments. 
 
If you would like your moderated comment to be included in this blog, email
Caroline at uncool [DOT] blog [AT] gmail [DOT] com or Natalia at nvantonova [AT] gmail [DOT] com with a link to the post you tried to comment on, a link to your own blog (if you have one, if not no worries), the day you left the comment and, of course, your comment.

Now, let's get one thing straight - no one is doubting how valuable safe spaces are. Some of the blogs I have a massive amount of respect for have had more than one post with comment moderation on to ensure no trolls, no ridiculing, no shit basically, went on. And I think when you're forming ideas it can be good to have that space to let the ideas grow and strengthen rather than get knocked down by criticism right away. 
 
Once again for the hard of hearing: no one is trying to undermine anyone's safe space
 
The idea behind this? To really stand against censoring and silencing, which is altogether something different entirely. There’s been countless times when sex positive feminists, sex workers, indeed anyone with contrary views have been denied a chance to voice their opinion. Furthermore, there have been times when posts have been written attacking individuals and they have been denied their right to defend themselves. This blog was set up to try and counter this.
 

We'll see how this develops. I think this could be quite a positive tool, not only does it allow people to defend themselves and their ideas that are attacked in others' posts, but hopefully too it will allow for a more rounded discussion. 

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Elizabeth's picture

Sex in the Public Square Presents ....

Sex work, trafficking, human rights forum banner

For one week, starting next Monday, we'll be devoting a forum to that discussion of reducing harm to sex workers and ending human rights abuses involved in the movement of labor around the globe. This is not a debate on the legitimacy of sex work but rather an exploration of how to protect people's human rights. We've invited some of the smartest sex worker advocates we know -- representing a range of connections to the sex industry -- to talk about the intersection of these complicated issues (and also to talk about how to make them easier to discuss!). Here's how it'll work:

Elizabeth's picture

One New Year's Resolution!

You may have noticed that my contributions to the square have been a bit sparse since September. What's up with that? For one thing, I finished my first semester back in the classroom (what an adjustment!), spent two separate weekends at union conferences (union work being another of my passions), and just got back from a trip to Georgia to see family.

So, one New Year's Resolution: To get better at combining blogging with my other work, and next semester a lot of my other work is related to this site, so I'm feeling pretty optimistic!

What's up for next semester? Well, for one thing I'll be teaching a course in Sociology of Gender, being offered for the first time at NCC. That's very exciting, and one way that I plan to integrate some of my blogging and some of my teaching. In addition, I'll be speaking at a bunch of conferences about stuff we discuss here. (If you're local to any of them, drop by!) Here's where I'll be:

Elizabeth's picture

Why Young White Unmarried and Non-cohabiting Humans in Psychology Classes Have Sex (in America): Part II

Part two of my critique of the new sex study everybody is talking about! Part one is here .

Yesterday I wrote about my methodological concerns regarding the study by Cindy M. Meston and David M. Buss, "Why Humans Have Sex," published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Today I'm looking at the reasons themselves and discussing some of the conclusions they drew, and some of the conclusions I'd draw looking at the same data.

First of all, I want to dispense with the notion that there were 237 reasons. Quantifying things is an important part of scientific research, of course, and coding data (fitting responses into categories, etc.) is a process that can never be wholly objective. (Somebody at least has to create the categories!) In this case, my criticism arises because the authors indicate that they whittled 715 initial "reasons" down to 237 by eliminating or merging responses that were "too similar" to other responses. That, they claim, produced a list of 237 "distinct reasons".

Elizabeth's picture

Why Young White Unmarried and Non-cohabiting Humans in Psychology Classes Have Sex (In America)

That should probably be the title of the new study by Cindy M. Meston and David M. Buss of University of Texas at Austin (PDF).

The study is an important one because it does begin to explore people's conscious, expressed motivations for having sex, a subject that has been largely ignored or taken for granted in the past. We know much more about what kinds of sex people have than we do about why they have it (or why they think they have it).

And when I read the New York Times article about the study and saw that there was such a wide range of reasons people gave, I was excited: it seemed that the researchers were breaking open some interesting ground and finding lots of diversity.

Elizabeth's picture

Democrats vote to increase funding for abstinence-only "education"

I don't know how I missed this item posted on the Advocates for Youth web site last week:

Elizabeth's picture

Interpreting the new research on child pornography use and child molestation

The New York Times reports today on research that demonstrates a very high correlation between use of child pornography and the actual molesting of children. The Times did a good job of reporting why it is so important to be cautious about interpreting a study like this one. And it also does a good job of reporting on the need for continued research on child molestation.

Because of the tremendous moral panic risks that are attached to publishing anything about htis kind of research I am going to focus entirely on the cautions. There will be lots of voices out there focusing on the tentative conclusions of the study itself, so here lets just focus on the limitations:


1. Remember when thinking about these results that they were produced using only already-incarcerated men convicted of child pornography charges. These men may well not be representative of all people who have ever downloaded or viewed child pornography.

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