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?
The Supreme Court may be sending a signal.
This ariticle in the LA Times deserves reading and comment.
It's about time. If you do a search on online danger to children, you should be able to find a recent study ordered by 43 Atotrneys General that concludes the danger to children on the internet is vastly overblown. I'll find the link and post it later.
Is this a signal that the hysteriics have finnaly made big enough fools of themselves and reason is emerging? One can only hope.
I highly recommend this episode of Grit TV for insights on the recent defeat for same-sex marriage rights in California via the passage of Proposition 8. The election results have produced a lot of anger and heat, and the conversation here manages to bring some light to what is a much more complex issue than is shown in most media or activism.
It's one of those odd twists that leaders of the Mormon Church probably never saw coming. Whenever opponents of Proposition 8, the ballot measure that eliminates the right of gays and lesbians to legally marry in California, protest outside a Mormon temple, they effectively stop church members from getting married, according Levi Jackman Foster, an ex-Mormon who lives in West Hollywood.
"A temple is the only place (Mormons) can get married," Foster says, "if they want to get sealed to God."
A Mormon temple, in other words, plays a vital role in a religion that strongly promotes marriage among its members.
We are advocates here for solid research on sex work, especially on working conditions across the many sectors of the sex industry. It is especially galling when bad research, often bad enough to be called "research"-in-quotes, gets passed off to support public policies that make working conditions more dangerous (e.g., driving sectors of sex work further under ground or making it harder to report crimes or workplace dangers).
Recently the UK has been taken by a storm of anti-prostitution "research" that is being used to support policies that would criminalize the purchase of sex. There was Melissa Farley in Scotland "studying" men who purchase sex (we debunked that here) and now there is the Poppy Project's "Big Brothel" investigation by Julie Bindel and Helen Atkins, purporting to look at the workings of establishments where women sell sex to men. I am glad that a growing number of well-organized feminist researchers are publicly challenging these projects. They clearly highlight the ethical and methodological flaws in the studies and the sensationalistic ways that they overgeneralize from flawed findings. It seems sometimes that the anti-prostitution "researchers" are so disgusted by their topic that they can't take it seriously. Below is a summary provided by the UK researchers who are most actively challenging this kind of work and who need the support of everyone who takes sex workers seriously.
What turns a person on? Is what arouses one person the same as what arouses every other person? Should it be? According to the current wave of successful obscenity prosecutions by both federal and state governments, the answer is not only a resounding “yes,” but exactly what is permissible under the law is subject to the whim of the FBI, the local and state governments, and a person's neighbor down the street. Video store owner Rick Krial was recently convicted in Staunton, Virginia, on one of two misdemeanor charges of obscenity and his store was likewise found guilty on one of two similar charges. He and his store still face trial on sixteen obscenity-related felony charges for selling pornographic DVDs to consenting adults for private viewing in their homes. Mr. Krial applied for and received all the proper business licenses and permits required of him, and the videos were made by legally documented consenting adults.
At the heart of this case and others like it is the legal definition of the word “obscene.” What is truly problematic here is that the definition of the word is as malleable as the sixteenth century definition of the word “blasphemy.” Current obscenity laws are based on a 1973 ruling by the Supreme Court in the case of Miller v. California. From that precedent comes the Miller test, whereby an item is deemed legally obscene (and thus unprotected by the First Amendment) if it meets all three of the following criteria: “a) 'the average person, applying contemporary community standards' would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, b) the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and c) the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.” Each of these three standards is so subjective as to allow them to be brandished like Sixtus IV's pernicious bull of 1477.
(Continued below the fold)
What happened in Staunton, part 1: Store owner convicted for selling legally produced porn to adultsSubmitted by Elizabeth on 7 September 2008 - 6:59pm
There are few places where our public and private lives become blended into such ugly displays as they do in custody and divorce proceedings. The current controversy surrounding Jefferson's appeal for support because of a custody challenge that is, at least partly, based on his blogging about his sex life demonstrates that better than almost anything could. The details have been documented over the past week in several other places, and I am coming late to the story having just returned to town.
Briefly, Jefferson is the pen name of a NYC sex blogger, author of One Life Take Two, and member of the community to which we all here at SITPS belong, to greater or lesser degrees.* He is currently being sued by his ex-wife for full custody of their children whose custody they had shared since divorcing, and it appears that information he revealed in his blog is being used against him in court. That information includes his bisexuality, his hosting of sex parties, his drinking, and his having sex with lots of different people, many of them women much younger than he. Some of his friends have set up a legal fund - the Friends of Jefferson Legal Defense Fund while others of his friends and some of his former lovers are advising caution about contributing.** This conflict started an online public debate about Jefferson's life, his writing, and the current custody dispute that has quickly spread throughout the sex blogosphere and has been occasionally ugly but also very thoughtful.
As Elizabeth careens through the Heartland of America on her road trip in search of anti-porn paranoia, I'm continuing to sit in the relative comfort of my apartment in Brooklyn doing my own investigations into the heart of America's traditional values crowd. Just think of me as Peter Fonda in cyberspace, baby. But without bad acid trips or getting shot by rednecks, hopefully.
So this afternoon, as the caffeine hits my brain, the first thing that comes to my attention is a news item from Black Jack, Missouri, via Ed Brayton's Dispatches From the Culture Wars. Black Jack has a certain infamy in the area of civil liberties already: in 2006, they were sued by Fondray Loving and Olivia Shelltrack because the couple, who had lived together for 13 years, was denied an occupancy permit on the grounds that they were in violation of a local ordinance that forbad three or more persons from living together if they were not related "by blood, marriage, or adoption." The couple had two children together, but the oldest was from one of Shelltrack's previous relationships. Loving and Shelltrack filed a federal lawsuit, and the city wound up settling by giving them the permit and spiking the ordinance.
Amber Rhea sent me a link to a news story about a very bizarre ruling in a sexual assault case. It is a strange story and I'm wondering if it has been accurately reported. It sounds too awful to be true. If it is being accurately reported, it is beyond outrageous.
Here is what we can know based on the news story:
Melanie Ross alleges that she was sexually assaulted by Daniel Day at his Mercer University fraternity house in 2003. (According to the article, Day comes from a powerful Georgia family. His father is Burke Day, a State Rep and he is of the Days Inn Days.)
Melanie Ross is brought a civil suit against Day because of the assault.
A Bibb County judge ruled in the civil suit that the lacerations she had did not prove rape, and that she needed to provide a list of her sex partners because "only virgins can bring a case for sexual battery in civil court." In addition, she was ordered to pay $150,000 of Day's attorney fees.