Friday, November 30, 2007

Why is this apparently such a difficult concept for so many people?

"You are you. I am me. You; me. You; me. You are not inside my head or body; I am not inside yours. Therefore, it shouldn't come as a huge surprise that we might not think or feel the same way about ___, even though yes, we -do- resemble each other in certain superficial ways, I suppose. But, and yet! Different people."

Oh, it doesn't much matter specifically what brought this on, today. Just another trip down the rabbit hole, and I've explored that particular bunny pit too many times on this blog already. There's really nothing new to say about that. Just: damn. Sometimes I think some people use politics or whatever else to cover up the basic problem: that they never figured out basic boundaries. And yet, in most -other- ways they sort of kind of resemble adults.

Oh, well. Back to hibernation--

'tis the season to go postal

if i hear "jingle bell rock" ONE MORE TIME...

and it's not even december yet.

rrrrrRRRRRrrrrr

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

16 days

'tis the season. A grimmer and longer Festival of Light; you can curse the darkness while lighting these candles. 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence

November 25 - December 10, 2007

Demanding Implentation, Challenging Obstacles: End Violence Against Women

Since 1991, the 16 Days Campaign has helped to raise awareness about gender violence and has highlighted its effects on women globally. Each year, thousands of activists from all over the world utilize the campaign to further their work to end violence against women. The campaign has celebrated victories gained by women’s rights movements, it has challenged policies and practices that allow women to be targeted for acts of violence, it has called for the protection of people who defend women’s human rights and it has demanded accountability from states, including a commitment to recognize and act upon all forms of violence against women as human rights abuses...

Challenges and obstacles have been identified by activists in all regions of the world, and we have chosen to highlight a few of those here. These can be addressed both as demands to be made on the state or other institutions and as actions that we must take in our own work in order to achieve better results. A few suggestions for focusing advocacy in this year’s campaign include:

· Demanding and securing adequate funding for work against VAW;
· Calling for greater accountability and political commitment from states to prevent and punish all forms of violence against women in practice, not just in words;
· Increasing awareness of the impact of violence against women, including engaging in measures to end it by men and boys;
· Evaluating the impact and effectiveness of work to prevent violence against women;
· Securing the space for advocacy and defending the defenders of women’s human rights in their work to end gender based violence.


Blogs/gers who have been participating in this include:

Ann Jones of the International Rescue Committee (photos may be triggering/disturbing)

Sokari and chinwe at Black Looks

bideshi blue


Black Amazon


Shakesville

Feminist Allies

A Closer Look

Ultra Violet

There's a roundup of diverse blog posts at openDemocracy.

Also see the blog Document the Silence for ongoing work on violence against WOC, and take a look at the recent week of Red Essays.

Because the "official" commemorative dates pass, but the violence continues, and so does the work.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Quote of the day, 11/25/07

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin; yet I say unto you, Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.


Luke 12:27

as loosely inspired by this post, which you should read for a whole bunch of reasons.

Friday, November 16, 2007

and back to giggles

i make post more funny.










Wednesday, November 14, 2007

...and this emphatically does NOT make me giggle.

The saga of one Claudia Contrada, a 17 year old who is not gay, no matter how much she insists otherwise. How do we know? Well, her mother says so. She's kind of invested in -not- having a lesbian for a child, you see: she co-runs a virulently anti-gay activist organization. One that in fact was busy protesting the very play her daughter was an actor in--"The Laramie Project," natch, it's such an offensive piece--amd which inspired her to come out, just a couple of weeks ago.

This week Contrada's daughter Claudia is starring in the Acton High School Production of the Laramie Project despite the fact that her mother helped to organize a forum against it, and no doubt opened the door for the similarly anti-gay Fred Phelps crew to plan their own protest of the event.

In a most brilliant display of resilience Claudia is standing up as an inspiring role model for anyone, especially young people, struggling with homophobia in their homes or communities. In addition to her acting, some of the things Claudia speaks out about include animal rights, AIDS, and war.

Today in an exclusive interview with QueerToday.com Claudia has revealed that she is a lesbian...

...7. What inspired you to become interested in the rights of oppressed communities, and animal rights, etc.? Who are some leaders (alive or dead) you look up to ?

Well I love animals and have grown up with them so the thought of killing them or torturing them tears me up. It’s disgusting. As far as oppressed communities go, I know what it’s like to be prevented from being who you are. It’s painful and psychologically unhealthy. People shouldn’t have to go through that.

8. Do you identify as LGB or T?

I am a lesbian, which my mom still does not get. She just says that I am confused. I realized in around eighth grade, but I was in denial for quite some time because I was scared due to my mother constantly saying that homosexuality is wrong. How can it ever be wrong to love though? That’s what I’d like to know.


Shortly after this
,

The story spread among LGBT and progressive blogs. And on November 2nd, Claudia went on to give a stellar performance in the sold-out Laramie Project play that depicts the brutal anti-gay murder of Mathew Shepard. Despite overwhelming support from the community, the play was protested by Fred Phelps thanks to the red carpet Claudia's mom rolled out for them by holding an anti-Laramie Project forum at the school a few weeks prior.

That should have been the end of this story.

But today things suddenly took a turn for the worse. The author of the MassResistance website*, longtime anti-gay activist Brian Camenker, announced that Amy Contrada had pulled her daughter from school and the remaining performances of the play. As usual, his expose' also included lies and attacks on me, QueerToday.com, and the Acton school system. The twisted material was also sent out via e-mail to his supporters and the Massachusetts legislators.

As I read his vicious rant my heart sank because Claudia's cherished role in the Laramie Project, and her support system of friends, teachers, and counselors had been robbed from her in order to maintain her mother's sick addiction to hate...


This is how Amy Contrada justifies her actions:

http://www.massresistance.org/docs/gen/07d/cac/

(I'm not hyperlinking the fuckers. I'm sorry, I'm just not).

Homosexual activists violate special-needs student, daughter of MassResistance staffer.
High school involved. Also Boston Globe reporter.
Persuaded vulnerable girl to "come out" as a lesbian on homosexual website -- for their propaganda advantage.
This is the kind of thing the homosexual movement does in schools across Massachusetts. It is pure evil.


ACTON, MASSACHUSETTS (NOV. 7, 2007) Homosexual activists - possibly in cooperation with school staff -- have viciously targeted a 17-year-old special-needs student, the daughter of Amy Contrada, a MassResistance staffer. (It's outrageous that a parent is now forced to reveal once-private information in order to stop this assault.)

Claudia Contrada was born in Korea and was adopted by Amy and her husband as an infant. Claudia's special needs include psychological/emotional issues and learning disabilities. Amy and her husband had Claudia enrolled in private parochial schools until her special needs exceeded those schools' abilities to deal with them. Thus, in seventh grade, they had no choice but to enroll Claudia in the Acton-Boxborough public school system.

But Claudia is talented in singing and especially acting. She has a beautiful voice and a fantastic memory for lines and lyrics. She has won awards for her acting. Her therapists said that Claudia's participation in the school's drama program is directly related to treatment of her special needs.
Pro-homosexual, violent play

This year the high school decided to have the drama club perform "The Laramie Project", a very objectionable pro-homosexual, anti-Christian play filled with profanity and extreme violence. Last summer, Amy met with school officials and also the drama board and begged them to choose a different play, citing Claudia's vulnerabilities. They responded very coldly, and refused to consider it...

Of course, Claudia is no more a lesbian than the man in the moon. She's always had crushes on boys, and her bedroom has always been (and still is) plastered with pictures of boys.

[picture of her daughter's wall]

Claudia's bedroom wall: Does this look like a lesbian's room to you?

So when Claudia told Amy and her husband that she's a lesbian, they basically ignored it as another silly idea that Claudia got from the latest school lunacy, and nothing more. Claudia doesn't really understand what "lesbian" is. It was all about getting attention. They did worry that she was starting to hang out with some very strange kids who had their own emotional problems stemming from "gay" and "transgender" identity issues...


Got that so far? We've got: outing the kid as a (transracial) adoptee, because it is important for everyone to know what kind, saintly people the parents are for taking the wee waif in (and incidentally, whatever's wrong with her is Not Their Fault). We've got rampant ableism--incidentally, what -are- Claudia's "special needs," exactly? There's nothing in the interview or anywhere else that suggests that she's got anything hampering her ability to get on in the world besides hateful, fucked-up "parents" and other authority figures, who, speaking of evil and religion and so on, sound like poster figures for Scott Peck's "People of the Lie." Whatever it is, though, it clearly means she just doesn't know her own mind; she's -confused-, poor dear. Also, she has pictures of teenage boy pop idols on her wall, which means she's totally straight. There is no contradiction here. Anyway, it's best she get taken out of school and away from the Bad Influences, for her own good,- of course. I'm afraid from there it actually gets worse. Photos of her queer classmates, the "corruptors," with personal information and lurid tales of their supposed depravity...

agh. sorry. ill. anyway.

Here is the most recent update from QueerToday.

Here is more information on the hate group run by Amy Contrada, "Mass Resistance" (Watch)


More later.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

This also makes me giggle, alas:

dammit, kactus.

Did y'all know lesbians have a special "clear-eyed gaze?" Neither did I. I must've missed that in the Official Coming Out Package. Well, it's my own fault. After having so many pencil-stab-related-injuries from reading, uh, Certain People and Places, I'm just grateful my eyeballs function at all. Damn, though. The things you learn.

"Fanny, you're looking a little bloodshot today. Have you been thinking about cock again? Tsk. Tsk."

Things that make me giggle

As promised, Fluff.





















Sunday, November 11, 2007

something tells me i shoulda stood in bed

A Bad News Roundup, because I kind of don't really feel up to addressing any of these any more than that right now, though each deserves its own post(s).

Via Renegade: another (? i seem to recall) case wherein "sleepwalking" is a justification for rape, cause you know, how was the guy supposed to know the difference? if she's like that? in the middle of the road and all? who wouldn't just get on top and ask questions never? p.s. he's HIV positive.

Dexter Ford, 52, is charged with raping the 23-year-old woman early Thursday morning near Interstate 71 in Cincinnati.

Ford's lawyer, Jeff Adams, said prosecutors told him the woman takes prescription medication and has a sleepwalking condition, a fact that will likely be the core part of Ford's defense.

"It goes to consent," he said. "How is he to know she is sleepwalking, if it's a dream 'yes' or a real 'yes?'

...During the past 15 years Ford, who is currently homeless, has served time in the Hamilton County jail and state prisons on charges including aggravated arson, breaking and entering, possession of illegal drug paraphernalia, theft and trespassing, court records showed.

...Sleepwalkers typically look like they are in a daze, and may not respond to outside stimuli, he said.


See? Totally understandable! Any reasonable person would see a mumbled "yes" (you know, assuming that convenient hypothetical actually happened) from a "dazed looking person" and immediately take advantage of the situation! That's not rape! So not his fault. And plus, you know, guy who's already been arrested for "aggravated" arson, theft, trespassing, and other signs of being respectful of boundaries in general, "on top of" a woman "near the Interstate," I mean, I'd -totally- assume that was, like, all about consensual good times. Who wouldn't? C'mon, people, benefit of the doubt!

Like f'r instance in this case. Trinity reminds us of last year's case in Australia that actually may beat out the Glen Ridge case for sheer evil, and the loathsome enabling thereof. iacb (among others) notes the more recent news that once again, the fuckers got off with a slap on the wrist:

EIGHT teenagers have escaped a jail term for their role in the notorious "Werribee DVD" after a judge ruled they should complete a rehabilitation program to prevent them repeating their "callous" crimes.

A Children's Court judge convicted seven of the eight youths yesterday after they pleaded guilty to making a film in Werribee last year, which showed them forcing a 17-year-old girl to perform sex acts with two of the boys while the others spat on her, poked her with sticks and repeatedly set her hair alight.

...The judge said the DVD shocked the community.

"Your behaviour was cowardly, brutal and, above all, a serious breach of the law … it was a sustained attack by a pack of young men upon a vulnerable young woman," he said. If they had not pleaded guilty they would have been at "significant risk" of serving time in youth detention, he said.

The court heard that the victim, a 17-year-old girl who suffers from a mild intellectual delay, was terrified during the attack and continues to fear she will be recognised in public.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, the girl said: "I'm shocked that they did this to me … my life has been changed forever."

The court heard the girl's father, who only became aware of the attack two hours before excerpts of the film were shown on a television program in October last year, had suffered significant emotional and financial damage. He could not be contacted last night to comment on the sentence.

The eight teenagers, now aged 16 to 18, pleaded guilty last month to four offences over the attack, including procuring an act of sexual penetration by intimidation, assault and making child pornography.

Three other teens charged over the DVD will contest the charges in December, meaning the victim will have to testify in court


I wonder what it would've taken for "significant risk" to be upgraded to, like, "oh, you're REALLY asking for it now." Actually burning her to death? Oh, well, errant yoot. twinklecoddlepinchcheeks

Maybe (maybe) if they'd been responsible for something like this: via Questioning Transphobia:

A trans woman in Indiana was airlifted to a hospital with two broken shoulders, burns over 40% of her face, in a drug-induced coma. The hospital says that the injuries are consistent with physical assault, being doused in gasoline, and set on fire. The sheriff says that it was an automobile accident.


Information here

More information here: ("Yeah. That. And her purse is missing")

Donation information here.

brownfemipower links to the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence Women Of Color Caucus' statement on the case of Megan Williams, and also notes (via xicanopower)
the continuing saga of the teenage boy who was kidnapped, taken across the Mexican border, and is not being allowed back into the U.S. Instead, his family in Nebraska is being deported as well.


"He's in a bit of a pickle, of course," Mumgaard said. "Anyone who is here in the U.S. without documentation is behind the eight ball almost immediately, even a 13-year-old boy."


You don't say.

Meanwhile, as the world turns, all kinds of lovely stuff on an epic scale. brownfemipower has been monitoring the catastrophic flooding in Tabasco, Mexico

(one MILLION Mexicans displaced by floods, yes that's right; and the U.S. has pledged $300,000 to aid refugees, yes THAT's correct, which i guess is what, about 33 cents per refugee? sweet)

...over a series of posts, including some choice words of her own springing off some comments at feministe*:

And guess what, poor white folks–they already ARE effected by global warming (try googling mountain top removal and Appalachia some time, or asbestos poisoning and mining town, or drug addiction and mining or black lung and mining towns, or…maybe you get the picture). These white folks have been working alongside people of color to invoke radical environmental justice for a long time.

But let’s go to the next point:

Just look at who Bush is killing with our wars. The Americans dying are more poor than anything else.

Actually, Bush is killing brown people. And he is using poor white people and people of color to do it. He is not killing white people. The mission we’ve “accomplished’ is the deaths of over a hundred thousand BROWN people. And that’s just in Iraq. Yes, Bush is willingly putting the lives of poor whites into dangerous positions,, but he is not killing them. The Bush regime has not created whole knew words (Islamofacists) to describe poor white citizens. He has not named an axis of evil consisting of Kentucky, Louisiana and Tennessee. He has not used these code words to justify the obliteration of poor whites.

He is killing brown people. Period. He is using poor whites and people of color to do it. Period.

...As native environmentalist activists have said, “Once they’re done with us, they’re coming for you, so you better start paying attention”.

That’s what happens when there’s an economic *hierarchy*–eventually, level by level, each group of people will be destroyed, it doesn’t matter what color they are. But the base of that hierarchy is built on the souls and lives of people of color–and that’s not a fucking accident.


Some people were trying to say that the Katrina response was about class, not race, also (it's always an either-or, too, right?) Speaking of, Bint Alshamsa shares this joyous news:

All Public Housing Units in New Orleans Set To Be Destroyed

Information on upcoming protests/civil disobedience, and how to help or join, included in the link.

And there's oh, so much more--I hadn't even gotten to the scary shit in Pakistan, for instance--this is a good starting place, threats/urgings for Pakistani bloggers to go offline before they're -made- to be shut down notwithstanding--but, I gotta stop now.

The next post(s) shall be about something Fluffy.

Friday, November 09, 2007

New Yorkers and/or folks who've been following the New Jersey 7/4 case, heads up:

via brownfemipower, Renata Hill's mother is coming to Bluestockings bookstore on Saturday, Nov. 17.

Hi, everyone.

Mollie Brown, the mother of Renata Hill, will be speaking in support of her daughter and the other members of the New Jersey 4 on Saturday, November 17, at 7 p.m. at Bluestockings bookstore. She invites everyone to join her and the other speakers and she hopes that everyone who hears about this event will spread the word about it.

Bluestockings is a radical bookstore, fair trade cafe, and activist center in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
Telephone: (212) 777-6028
http://www.bluestockings.com/

Saturday, November 17th @ 7PM - $5 Suggested BUT you will not be turned away from any event at Bluestockings for having empty pockets.

Discussion: Criminalization of Queer Youth of Color
Let’s have a cross movement dialog regarding race, gender, media and the law. As highlighted by the arrest and incarceration of a group of 4 young lesbian women of color from New Jersey (the Jersey 4), the legal system has a heavy bias with respect to our treatment, our safety, our freedom. Please join us.

Bluestockings is located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan at 172 Allen Street between Stanton and Rivington - which means that we are 1 block south of Houston and 1st Avenue.

By train: We are 1 block south of the F train’s 2nd Avenue stop and just 5 blocks from the JMZ-line’s Essex / Delancey Street stop.

By car: If you take the Houston exit off of the FDR, then turn left onto Essex (aka Avenue A), then right on Rivington, and finally right on Allen, you will be very, very close.



I'm planning to go to this; if anyone else in the area is too and wants to hang out before or after or at least say "hi," give me a shout.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Update on the Deni election :(

from Philly News

QUELLE surprise.

Teresa Carr Deni has survived.

The Municipal Court judge who provoked a national uproar when she downgraded rape charges to armed robbery in a case involving a prostitute will be back on the bench for another six years.

Lucky us.

Deni won a retention vote yesterday, despite a rare public rebuke from the chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association and a grassroots effort to defeat her.

"A city official told me that you pretty much have to kill your mother not to win a retention vote," said Matilda O'Neill, a local activist and the prime mover behind the "Deny Deni" movement.

The furor over Deni's ruling, which made national news and spurred denouncements on the Internet from as far away as Australia, couldn't penetrate the public apathy about judicial retention elections.

But her Oct. 4 ruling had a profound impact on one person for sure: the victim.


She's a 19-year-old woman who struggles to support herself and her infant daughter - while she cares for her sick mother.

"I'm a single parent by myself and I go through so much - it's so hard," she told me this week.

Her disabled mother spends months at a time in the hospital - which prompted her daughter to drop out of school when she was in 10th grade...

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sex worker raped on the job. Judge Teresa Carr Deni rules it "theft of services." Time to fight back.

A number of people covered this story when it first broke . The basics:

A DEFENDANT accused of forcing a prostitute at gunpoint to have sex with him and three other men got lucky, so to speak, last week.

A Philadelphia judge dropped all sex and assault charges at his preliminary hearing.

Municipal Judge Teresa Carr Deni instead held the defendant on the bizarre charge of armed robbery for - get this - "theft of services."

Unbelievable.

Deni told me she based her decision on the fact that the prostitute consented to have sex with the defendant.

"She consented and she didn't get paid . . . I thought it was a robbery."

The prostitute, a 20-year-old single mother, agreed to $150 for an hour of oral and vaginal sex on Sept. 20, according to assistant district attorney Rich DeSipio. The arrangements were made through her posting on Craigslist.

She met the defendant, Dominique Gindraw, 19, at what she thought was his house, but which turned out to be an abandoned property in North Philadelphia.

He asked if she'd have sex with his friend, too, and she agreed for another $100.

The friend showed up without money, the gun was pulled and more men arrived.

When a fifth man arrived and was invited to join, DeSipio said, he asked why the girl was crying - and declined. He helped her get dressed so she could leave.

It's true the prostitute negotiated sex with the defendant - but not unprotected gang sex at gunpoint.

"The Legislature has defined sex by force as rape," said DeSipio, accusing the judge of "rewriting her own laws."

DeSipio said Judge Deni's ruling was based, not on the law, but on moral contempt.

"Certainly if a jury wants to make that judgment, they're entitled to. But for a judge to make a judgment on a human being - I've never seen that before."

Deni did seem contemptuous of the victim:

"Did she tell you she had another client before she went to report it?" Deni asked me yesterday when we met at a coffee shop.

"I thought rape was a terrible trauma."

A case like this, she said - to my astonishment - "minimizes true rape cases and demeans women who are really raped."

The defendant was charged in an identical incident involving a 23-year-old woman four days later, DeSipio said.


Now, Bound Not Gagged has called for a blogswarm about this.

I'm feeling a bit brain-burnt at the moment, so I'm just going to post some highlights from the numerous others who've said everything I could've or would've said a lot better already. Well, one quick introductory note: it is nice to see that despite the differing stances on What This All Means Dear, at least wrt what should be done about prostitution, legally speaking, people on both/all sides of the ideological fence are united in the belief that: damn this was a fucked-up, sexist, awful decision, of COURSE it was rape, and Judge Deni needs to be removed.

**

In Contempt of Humanity, Judge Deni, and definitions


rape1 /reɪp/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[reyp] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation noun, verb, raped, rap·ing.

–noun
1. the unlawful compelling of a woman through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse...

Judge Deni should have to look no further than the first line in the dictionary of the definition of rape. When physical force and/or duress became involved it became rape. When the victim was in a position where sex was forced upon her against her will, without her consent, that was rape. Consent is active not passive. Unless the victim said yes to having sex with all of the men, which she did not, the answer is no. No means no. Anything short of yes is no. Money means nothing if it is against a person’s will.


Sex Workers Against Rape

Sex workers can and are often raped. Sex workers are opposed to rape. We are as vulnerable to it as anyone, we feel as strongly opposed to it as anyone. Because money is exchanged for sex does not change the fact that we do not want to be forced into anything sexually that we do not consent to nor do we want any other woman to.

Supporting sex worker rights is essential to fighting rape. As long as there is a class of women considered “bad” and somehow deserving of rape, all women, sex workers and non sex workers suffer. NO ONE chooses to be raped. The need for society to respect a woman’s right to choose, to consent, or not to as it comes to sex, regardless of how she dresses, what time she is outside, where she is walking, who she is with, and what she does for work, is a social necessity that we all must stand together for. Ending social views that deem some women as bad and deserving of rape is essential.


Where are you?

Now, I’ll ask again, beloved partners in defense of women’s rights, supporters of sexual freedom, revolutionaries waiting for the reverberating call to action, are you listening?

Because I don’t think you are, and it pains me. Unlike Ren, I am still shocked by the deafening silence over this case. I know people are talking, but why isn’t anyone outside of the sex worker community screaming?!?!?!

We could really use allied forces right now. We don’t even have to engage in the ’sex work debate’. We can unite as sisters and brothers in arms against sexual violence.

Everyone, especially the revolutionaries whom so many of us call friends and lovers, should be alarmed by Judge Deni’s ruling. It sets a dangerous legal precedent and suggests that serial rapists can prey on sex workers with impunity.


A guest commenter says,

I’m not here as a supporter of many of the positions of websites like boundnotgagged or because I think all aspects of the sex industry should be legalized. I’m against legalizing measures that allow pimps and johns to consume and trade women. I’m writing on the blog because I agree that Judge Deni’s ruling is a violation of the rights of prostituted women and because we are all concerned with the welfare of women in the sex industry. But I’m mainly here in hopes that the people of PA will vote out Judge Deni. Her ruling that a raped prostituted woman should not be considered a rape victim but instead a victim of “theft of services” because her “services” were stolen when she was not paid after answering an add in the ever dangerous Craigslist and held at gunpoint while she was gang raped by the “client’s” friends makes Deni an unsuitable judge. Please vote her out of service! This is a horrid decision that she made and literally left me up at night in shock and in sadness for the brave victim who had the courage to press charges, despite the social stigma against her. She has been raped twice – once by her attackers and again in the legal system (as Chancellor Jane Leslie Dalton rightly stated).


Why not say what you really mean?

I mean, come on judge Deni, why not just say it. I mean, you said (this case) “minimizes true rape cases and demeans women who are really raped.”

Why not just say it…that it minimizes cases of rape against real women. After all, that’s pretty much the impression you’ve given, the mode of thinking you have towards the victim of this crime, that she’s lesser some how. Not like you. So why not just say it.

Be honest. After all, you’re already an asshole.


From Matilda at the Deny Deni! Campaign in Philadelphia

As I’ve worked on the campaign to get Deni voted out of office on November 6th, the evidence of her contempt for sex workers has become more and more apparent. In the first place, one of her statements to Jill Porter, the reporter who originally broke the story, (which you can find here) was that the victim had taken another client before reporting the incident.

Not only is this in no way relevant—even if she had, people who experience trauma often go on with their plans before they begin to process what has happened to them and, more to the point, she still needed to make money to support herself and her child—but it actually turns out that was an outright lie on Deni’s part. Clearly she thought this would bolster her stance in other people’s eyes but it is nowhere in the court transcripts and participants who were there that day say that no such thing ever came up.

There have also been two different court records leaked of cases involving sex workers she has presided over in which she also dismissed rape charges. It has been repeatedly been stated to me that Deni has been a pretty good judge when some women have ended up in front of her. Apparently she is considered lenient and fair in these cases. What is also readily apparent, however, is that she has a deep-seated and irrational hatred of women who engage in sex work. She clearly feels that she is justified in punishing them for their choice of employment no matter what the reason they have come before her in court.


Right Then


Despite all that other average Citizen Americanus stuff, I’m a sex worker, which makes me different, other, and yes, as Judge Deni proved so brilliantly with her decision to label the rape of a prostitute a mere theft of services, lesser and not deserving of the full protection of the law.

...And people wonder why people like me, who are pretty much Average Citizen Americanus in almost every other way would not ever consider going to the cops in this sort of a situation. It’s very true that on the job I could be beaten, raped, threatened with a gun, and if that happened, guess what? I would not go to the law. I’d like to think I could, that it would be worth it, but this case and every other one like it just shows me otherwise. There is no faith in the justice system here on this issue. If you sell sex, well, you’re just asking for it, right? That’s what they’re saying...

Hell, even when sex workers get murdered, it some how ends up being their own fault. Any attack or assault upon our persons we bring on ourselves, because we sell nudity, sex and sexuality for a living. We somehow, well, deserved it. What did we expect after all, doing something so unseemly? What did she expect?

I guess she really shouldn’t have worn a short skirt.

I guess none of us should.

And this is not going to change until people, people above and beyond us, people above and beyond we sex workers with Internet connections start making some noise.


elsewhere:

Questioning Transphobia

This is an abhorrent way to treat rape and rape victims, this encourages the treatment of cis women who are sex workers as less than human, and I can’t help but wonder what would happen if a trans woman sex worker were brought before this judge or one of a similar mindset. Hell, I wonder about the even more likely case of a trans prostitute’s murder brought before this woman. If this is her attitude, she shouldn’t be sitting on the bench. Thanks to Elizabeth McClung, I don’t have to worry about that last any more. It’s no surprise, though.


Octogalore
:


It may be tempting for those of us who are not prostitutes to sit this one out. After all, this isn’t about us, right?

Wrong.

If it is not rape to be forced to have sex, at gunpoint, after refusing, just because you’d previous agreed to have unforced sex for money, then who is next?

Maybe they’ll come for those who agree to have sex with a friend of the guy who rapes them? That’s not rape, it’s identity switching.

Or those who agreed to have sex in the past and then are forced to do so at a later point? That’s not rape, it’s time discrepancy.

Or those of us who are or have been strippers? We were willing to do sex-related stuff for money, so this isn’t rape it’s just forced inflation of services.

What if we at one point had sex with a boyfriend as a fun way to settle a bet? Then we ARE prostitutes and it’s back to theft of services.

What if we can be demonstrated to have sex with our husbands in exchange for material security? Then there’s no spousal rape...


Bint Alshamsa

This is outrageous! This judge is absolutely incompetent. Fortunately, the people of Philadelphia have the ability to do something about it. Tomorrow, Philadelphians going to the polls will have the chance to decide whether or not they want to give Teresa Carr Deni six more years to misapply and ignore the laws she is getting paid nearly $150,000 a year to uphold.

What this judge did hurts all women in that it makes it more difficult for any of us to get justice from the courts. When she has been victimized by the rapist, a woman is already forced to give all sorts of irrelevant information about her sex life anytime she makes an accusation of rape. Then, to have to go before a judge who claims that a woman being gang-raped at gunpoint is nothing more than a theft of services...Well, how many women do you think would be willing to put themselves through that? I'm not even a sex worker and I know I wouldn't.


Black Amazon


Today sex positive,sex worker and WOC blogs are blogging for a woman.

She was trying to survive. For many women of color,trans women,LGBT women, this " good behavior" that is so derided is simply self preservation.

A black mother in a city that is dismantling welfare.

She is being told that a gang rape, an utter violation of her humanity.

Is equatable to " theft of goods"

The person who told her this was a woman.

...Because the judge is a woman , she a high ranking court official. She's a "woman in power"

and what did her power get us

but her looking another human being in the face and telling her she was "stolen goods"...

...That we are as women supposed to invest and believe in women and a movement that are more invested in unfettered power than actually engaging the problems we have with it.

It leaves me in a strange place.

Because in the end our action is focused on deposing and fighting the woman who " mattered'

Her power her "bad behavior" now becomes paramount.

What about the victim?

Why don't we talk about her motherhood or her blackness and her city taking away her options

Why is she suddenly amorphous woman?

To be discussed not as a specific survivor but emblematic of suddenly larger ills .

Why are the WOC and sex workers the ones who remember this may not be a time to be snide and stick it to somebody.

Why do all of these suddenly blend to me into one large drone of " we'll use you any way we want"

Why is she a one liner in a list or a step to something else...


Renegade again

Every once in awhile, BfP comes around and slaps some sense into my head. Black Amazon probably has a sense slapping stick with my name on it sitting in a corner of her room somewhere…and it’s needed, because often times while I do take on the issues surrounding sex work, and yep, even class (because face it, those are two I am more familiar with) often times I neglect race…which is often the biggest issue of them all.

Truth be told, in the Deni/Prostitute case in Philly…I had not read anywhere, in any of the news reports, that the survivor was black. I knew she was a single mother, I knew her age, I knew where she advertised, but rarely was her race mentioned.

This does not surprise me. Well, as I said already, nothing about this case surprises me.

I am familiar with the city of Philadelphia. It’s a strange place, and though called the City of Brotherly Love, it often times does not live up to the moniker. Philly is notorious for it’s lack of support systems for the economically disadvantaged; it’s bellow the surface racism and anti-gay sentiments. Face it, in a lot of ways, Philly has a bad rep, and it’s somewhat warranted.

And what we have here is a White Female Judge, who makes a whole lotta money, who has all sorts of advantages, Treating a Black Female who does not have that money, or those advantages like a subhuman piece of garbage. And it is so not an isolated incident. It is also bullshit. This whole thing reeks of the snotty upper-class white lady turning up her nose at the dirty, unseemly single black mother hooker. A woman who does, probably has to do, things that the Refined Judge herself has never had to consider doing, would never considering doing, because she has advantages in life this other woman did not. And yet, she sits in judgment over her, and passes down judgment that is far more reaching than in a legal capacity.

...I wonder, if, there were more PoC’s sitting on benches in the legal system if things would, here, there and everywhere, be a little different. Well yes, I think they would be. I wonder if people didn’t carry around this mental image of a hooker in their heads if things would be different. I wonder if this woman had been white if things would be different…

Yes, I think they would be. In her case, and in countless other similar ones.

An favor.

So, I'm taking this research methods and statistics class, and for this assignment I'm supposed to make up a questionnaire and give it to at least twenty people. If y'all wouldn't mind...it shouldn't take you more than a few seconds.

per the "confidentiality" business: this isn't a particularly "sensitive information" quiz, but if you'd like to use the "anon" option to answer this one, please feel free.


cheers!

***********

QUESTIONNAIRE:

PURPOSE OF THIS STUDY: This research study explores the relationship
between peoples' energy levels during the day and their eating habits
in the morning.

PROCEDURES: If you choose to participate in this study, you will be
asked to answer four questions.

TIME: This questionnaire should only take a few moments to complete,
but you may take more time if you wish.

POTENTIAL RISKS AND DISCOMFORTS: No potential risks or discomforts are
anticipated from participating in this study.

CONFIDENTIALITY: The information you provide will be kept
confidential.

YOUR RIGHTS: Your participation is entirely voluntary and you are
under no obligation to participate. Should you decide to end your
participation you may do so at any time.

*******

1. Please indicate your gender (M or F) and your birthdate (month, day
and year).

2. On a scale from one to five, please indicate at what time of day
you have the most energy. 1=much more energy in the morning and
5=much more energy in the evening.

3. On a scale from one to five, how big a breakfast do you usually
have? with 1=biggest meal of the day and 5=skip it altogether

4. How many cups of (caffeinated) coffee or other caffeinated
beverage do you drink in the morning?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Dark Carnival

Via Progressive Gold: maybe this goes some way toward explaining how the same person who crafted a scarily-HUAC-ish looking bill can have also voted to close Guantanamo: apparently, you CAN take it with you.

"Camp Justice"

Do you remember a few months ago hearing about a proposal floating around to build what would have essentially amounted to a little quaint unknown miniature city on an abandoned airfield at the Guantánamo Bay naval base in Cuba – to house federal judges and other personnel there for the sole purpose of trying detainees under the new laws of the Military Commissions Act? Ring a bell? Well, in any event, at a cost of potentially $125 million it was swiftly shot down by Defense Secretary Robert Gates who even he himself saw the political disaster in that plan, thankfully enough.


However, that “military commission compound” – as it was loosely referred to in our previous coverage – would have in theory accommodated up to 1,200 people and provided the capacity to conduct as many as five trials simultaneously in the first U.S. war crimes tribunals held since World War II. The proposed site we learned was used back in the 1990s to house “a tent camp for Cuban rafters."

This fact was made even more curious when we later heard that the U.S. Congress approved earlier this year “an $18 million proposal for the Department of Defense to build a migrant detention facility” on the base as well. Or, as The Miami Herald quoted one U.S. official who called it a space “to shelter interdicted migrants.”
This abandoned runway sure is a precarious little strip of land, to say the least.

Though I’m not quite sure what has become of that contract yet there have been (it seems) various attempts to secure Guantánamo’s value in the war on terror by redeveloping and adding significant new permanent structures to it cementing not only the facility itself but the legal architecture that holds the site in place, too. And I find these last couple proposals a bit too eerily synchronized not to be part of a larger strategy to keep the controversial facility from being shut down altogether. Since Congress has faced continuous pressure to close Guantanamo Bay as a detention center – both internally and from governments abroad – it is hardly odd really to find this sudden plan to offshore a brand new warehouse for rounded-up coastal border-crossers (who can under law now be tried as felons or ‘alien unlawful enemy combatants’) and to establish a compound to expedite the rapid legal processing of them once they end up there...

...According to the article the court building – “surrounded by trailers, moveable cells, concertina wire and a tent city” – is itself a prefabricated and totally portable kit of parts that’s been shipped to Cuba and, we are told, “could be unplugged, disassembled and put back together somewhere else.” Go figure, justice cast in Lego plastic ready to be made in an infinite reconfigurability of political forms.



In the Pentagon’s own words it is a state-of-the-art courthouse, completely unprecedented, never before seen, yet described literally by the Times reporter as “a squat, windowless structure of corrugated metal” rigged inside with the latest trial technology – “the perfect architecture for the long-running limbo that is Guantánamo.” Nicely said.

Like the sign reads ‘Camp Justice’ is – to its credit – just what it says it is: justice in the form of a camp. There is absolutely no pretense here whatsoever, nor can it be mistaken for anything else either, really, which is partially what makes it so disturbing. Not to mention how obnoxious and arrogant it is in its crude declaration of itself. CAMP JUSTICE. We're here. But, again – to be fair – the name does actually say it all...

In a frighteningly lucid and surgical essay Vanishing Points geographer Derek Gregory describes the war on terror as a “war on law”, or a “war through law” – through the suspension of law. While emergency is the state’s tactic it is ultimately the law itself that is the most critical site of political struggle, he contends. If I recall correctly, Derek explains how Guantanamo Bay was established as a purposefully ambiguous political space camouflaged in the folds of legal uncertainty. In short, the U.S. left Cuba while still claiming jurisdiction over the base but not official territorial sovereignty, which allowed it to exist in between a place of law and lawlessness – essentially a place of “indeterminate time” and “indefinite detention.” He calls it a “site of non-place” created for a “site of non-people” located on the peripheral edge – or the “the vanishing point” – of the legal spectrum where international law is no longer enforceable (and therefore non-existent), and where American sovereignty has no application. It is the ultimate space of legal oblivion, you might say. It is neither a legal nor an illegal space and in all juridical dimensions is neither existent nor non-existent: it is – as far as I can make of it – the production of a convenient and sub-legal nowhere.


And just like that, they can make you...disappear.

Poof.

And then they, what, fold up their tents and move on.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Wo! Dude! I bin nominated for a Weblog Award!

I'd no idea. Just saw it in the trackbacks. Here!

Up in the finalists with Pam, Keith Boykin, Republic of T, Joe My God, Susie Bright.. pretty feckin' schweet.

so, y'all know what to do...

"but it's an honor just to be" yeah yeah yeah. go vote, betches.

whee!

Quote of the day: 11/2/07

Personally...I support queer rights not because I am a dyke but because it is the right thing to do. (Yes, my lesbian identity is certainly a part of that. But my support for "homosexual rights" began long before I came out to myself). If i was to base my political activism only upon who i am, i would be limited to fighting for the rights of short, upper-middle class, temporarily abled, white, well-educated, non-transgendered, dyke identified, politically radical, US American, English or French speaking, Generation X women. Like many transpeople, however, i struggle to move beyond the confines of identity politics. I support the rights of people of color not because i am a person of color (i'm not) but because i am against racism. Likewise, i support the rights of transpeople not because i identify as trans (i don't), but because i want all of us to live in a world where we can adopt whatever gender we desire--a gender that comes from our hearts and minds, not what's between our legs. ...gender is a lot more fluid and has many more aspects than our society would have us believe. The feminist and queer movements would become much stronger, much more revolutionary, and much more liberatory by embracing this fact.


--Shannon Wyss

One definition of "hurt"

In response to a question posed by "Defining My Self" in the comments of this post: this piece of news, via Questioning Transphobia and Tough Like a Creampuff (among others):

Dear [name removed],

It is with a heavy heart that I share the tragic loss of one of our community’s beautiful children. Ian Guarr, a 16-year old transgender young man from West Michigan, took his own life on Monday. The Guarr family have been staunch allies and good friends of Triangle Foundation from the beginning of their journey. Ian’s mother Amy is a founder of TransYouth Family Advocates (http://imatyfa.org), a national organization addressing the issues facing transgender youth and a national partner of Triangle Foundation’s Camping.OUT program.

Ian was one of my daughter Chloe’s dearest friends. Ian was sensitive, thoughtful, brilliant, hilarious, and painfully shy. Our world is less bright without Ian’s presence. Even with an amazingly supportive and loving family such as Ian had, the youth of our community face an incredibly difficult path. In the United States, every hour an LGBT youth commits suicide. The statistics for transgender youth are even more harrowing — the attempted suicide rate is higher than 50%!

Ian’s family did everything right. They loved, cared, and advocated for who Ian knew he really was –not just for who society wanted him to be. This community owes the Guarr family a debt of gratitude for all that they have done for Ian as well as for all transgender youth.

Triangle Foundation joins our friends at TransYouth Family Advocates and TransActive Education & Advocacy in once again renewing our commitment to working with and on behalf of transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual and questioning youth who, like Ian, are struggling with a society that is often unwilling to accept them for the unique and beautiful people they are. Our work will continue until no young person feels that suicide is their only option...


Does that help your understanding at all, DMS? I just want to make sure we're clear, here.

Or, wait, don't tell me, let me guess, this has -nothing to do with you-, or your attitude, or indeed with any (non-transgendered) feminist, any lesbian, any -woman- (hey, we have no power! at all! not l'il old us! now: let's have a REVOLUTION, BAYBEE!) or any gay man, or -anyone- else whose hurt is somehow being taken away from by so much as fucking -acknowledging- that, y'know, -other people- have it as bad or worse, and maybe it might be best to -welcome- them as allies,people who're hurt by the same bloody system albeit in somewhat different ways, rather than go, no, this is OUR treehouse, go make your own, and lalalalala can't hear you anyway.

jesus.

what -is- it with some people?