Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Life without Privileges, part 3. A Sweeping Success: The Patna High Court Ruling in favor of Apne Aap's position on prostitution

image of the Patna High Court, Bihar, India

This is the 3rd of a three-part post.
Part 1: click here
Part 2: click here

In a great sweeping judgment, Apne Aap won at the High Court in Patna, Bihar. Please copy and paste what is below and spread it through social media. What follows was written by Ruchira Gupta.


The more mentions this gets online, the more encouraged the judge who worked closely with us would be. It would also support other judges doing something similar.

Here is the link to the judgment by the Patna High Court http://indiankanoon.org/doc/83172639/ on a public interest litigation filed by Apne Aap.

We had asked for the court to ask the police to arrest traffickers and not activists, have special police officers for trafficking cases, social welfare services for both victims and @risk girls in every panchayat (village council), boarding schools for @risk girls, health, education, housing and legal services as well citizenship and subsidy documents for all victims.

We shared Apne Aap's Ten Asset Approach to enroll an @risk girl or victim of trafficking into an Apne Aap network and then help her gain a safe space, education through KGBV (government supported) boarding schools, to karate class, to government IDs and subsidies, to livelihood support, bank accounts and wrap around services for victims including more shelters and more police action against traffickers and clients.

In a sweeping judgment, the court has asked the government of Bihar to tackle trafficking from every angle in every village--from identifying at risk girls in marginalized communities, to keeping track of missing children, to ensuring school for @risk children, to arresting traffickers and clients, to providing citizenship papers and subsidies to @risk women and victims, to providing seed money for small business, to setting up more shelters, to reporting back, to link victims and @risk girls, to wrap around services like housing and counselling. It is truly one of the most comprehensive anti-trafficking judgments in the poorest state of India with a population of 82,998,509 of which 23,852,828 are girls!

This judgment can transform the lives of the most marginalized of them by gaining them access to citizenship and services and justice which has evaded them for centuries.

Ruchira Gupta


The Life without Privilege: the Inhumane Consequences of Pro-Prostitution Politics, part 2. Ruchira Gupta's challenge to the UN


photo of Ruchira Gupta is from here
This is the 2nd in a three-part post.

Part 1: click here
Part 3: click here

What follows is the writing of Ruchira Gupta. Anything in brackets and italics was written by me.  -- Julian

I was the 2015 Woman of Distinction Awardee by the United Nations NGO CSW/NY. I gave the  Keynote speech on International Women's Day, March 8, at Apollo Theatre to 1500 feminist activists from the whole world, who had come to the New York to offer advice and consult with the United Nations at the 59th session of the United Nations meeting on the Commission on the Status of Women.

[The speech may be viewed and heard here, or by clicking on the link @ "Keynote speech" above:]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpnUgqgpXLY

This was 20 years after the big Beijing Women's meeting in 1995 which created a platform for action for the UN and governments to improve the status of women. I had attended the Beijing as a young reporter. Inspired by the survivor testimonies of victims of Domestic Violence I heard at Beijing, I went back in 1996 and completed a documentary,  The Selling of Innocents highlighting the voices of victims of prostitution and sex trafficking. I won an Emmy for outstanding investigative journalism and quit journalism to form an NGO, Apne Aap (self-empowerment) Women Worldwide, with the 22 women who had told their stories in my documentary, and had at one time formed a circle around me to protect me from a pimp who had stuck a knife at my throat when I was filming. This was 14 years ago. Apne Aap now has reached more than 20,000 girls, women and their family members  

And now I was honoured by my peer group of NGOs who had given me the CSW NGO/NY Woman of Distinction  award at the UN. I was thrilled. To my dismay I got an email from them on the eve of my keynote speech saying that UN Women had asked them to tell me that " I should not speak on prostitution or put UN Women, " on the spot. I was surprised that the UN was trying to censor an NGO and that they should tell me not to speak on prostitution when my work was with victims of prostitution.

I went ahead and gave a speech which was a call to action to all UN policy makers, governments and NGOs to include the "last" girl as they were drawing up policies and not just represent the viewpoint of the "first" girl. I also asked us as a global family to watch out for backdoor policy creation by some people in the UN who sent out notes and reports by independent experts asking for governments to legalize pimping and brothel keeping. I mentioned how this contradicted  the UN's own Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UN Protocol to end Trafficking in Persons. 

By asking for legalization of pimping, the UN Women note and an independent UNAIDS report let down the rights of the "last" girl who needed those who exploited her to be punished not protected and certainly not legalized. 

We have still to get an appointment with the UN on this, though we have been trying for two years!


[Details:]

1. On October, 2012, UNDP, UNFPA and UNAIDS released a report by independent experts titled: ”Sex Work and the Law in Asia and Pacific": On Page 7 of that report, they ask all countries to change laws to decriminalize pimping and brothel keeping. The exact quote is:

"Decriminalization of sex work requires the repeal of laws that criminalize activities associated with sex work, including removal of offences relating to soliciting; living on the earnings of sex work; procuring; pimping; the management and operation of brothels; and promoting or advertising services".

2. Apne Aap was shocked by this. Decriminalizing pimping and brothel would give impunity to all those who enslaved hundreds and thousand of girls and lived off selling them to 8-10 customers every night. In January, 2013, We wrote a letter to the head of UN Women saying:

"We ask that UN Women advocate with other UN agencies, as the agency charged with representing the voices of women, to recognize that commercial rape is the same as non-commercial rape and to remove all demands advocating for decriminalizing pimping and brothel-keeping. We want an end to impunity for all those who take advantage of our vulnerabilities to sexually exploit us. We want them to be held accountable and we want laws that penalize and punish them. By calling for the decriminalization of pimping, UN agencies are effectively helping the sex-industry and impeding our access to justice."

This was signed by 61 organizations representing the most vulnerable groups in South Asia and at the very minimum representing more than 150,00,00 people. 

3. We got a note from  UN Women saying they stood by the UNAIDS report:

"UN Women also supports the regulation of sex work in order to protect sex workers from abuse and violence."

4. We asked UN Women to clarify if they meant that regulation of sex work meant decriminalizing pimping and brothel keeping. If they did not agree with this recommendation of UNAIDS they should say so. We were told that we would get a meeting in August, 2013. It is March, 2014 and we have not heard anything. In the meantime, the Chair of the NCW in India says she wants to legalize prostitution by decriminalizing pimping and brothel keeping because that is a UN recommendation.

I have asked UN women to not to recognize JUST the rights of privileged and powerful women, but also of the weakest and last girls as they develop policies and decide budget allocations. I have said while they recognize the right of those with choices to be sex workers, they should recognize the absence of choices of hundred and thousands of prostituted women and girls.

I have also asked UN women not to create the dangerous precedent of creating policies through the backdoor, through notes and reports by independent experts and dilute agreed upon conventions and protocols by member states and civil society.

Ruchira Gupta


The Life without Privilege: the Inhumane Consequences of Pro-Prostitution Politics, part 1

photo of girls learning techniques for empowerment is from here
I sit here now in North America, typing, with a great deal of privilege. Here are a few ways that privilege exhibits itself:
  • I have clean water to drink.
  • I have enough food to eat.
  • I am not economically insecure.
  • I am not designated as dangerous due to my race.
  • I am not presumed a terrorist due to my religious and cultural ethnicity.
  • I am not assumed to be lazy due to my class.
  • I have good health care and choices about who I see for treatment.
  • I have a safe home to live and sleep in.
  • I have privacy when I want it.
  • My socially perceived gender does not target me as 'rapable'.
  • I am not raped daily.
  • My sexual life is not a function of pimps', brothel-keepers', and procurers' economic and sexual demands.
  • I have choices about when and where I am sexually available. I choose not to be sexually available to anyone and am not harassed, beaten, or murdered because of that decision.
  • My body belongs to me.
  • I am generally regarded as a human being with rights to be treated humanely.
  • When I am harmed, what happens to me is seen as harm.
  • Criminal justice systems and prison industrial complexes don't punish and imprison me for unjust reasons.
  • I can see similarly privileged people in the media portrayed as good, honorable, and moral.
  • Men across the globe do not assume I exist for the sole purpose of meeting the demand too many men have for gross sexual exploitation of female human beings, including unlimited visual and physical access to female incest and rape survivors of all ages.
If we went down the list and removed each form of privilege, what might the conditions be that define and limit my life?

I would be poor or economically insecure. Available clean water and nutritious food would not be givens, or easy to get, or reliably available. I'd be perceived and portrayed as a threat to the health and well-being of more privileged people. I'd be seen as someone who ought to endure serial rape and slavery but it would be called something else by the rapists and their apologists: it would be called sex, or sex work, or men having fun with me with my consent. I would not be safe. Violation, denigration, and other forms of violence would be a routine part of daily and nightly life. I would not have a place to sleep that was without threat of invasion, capture, and horrific mistreatment. I would not have any assurance of living another day. In the social-political sense, I would not be human to most people; I'd be invisible, unheard, and disposable.


In some political groups, there appears to be a pressing need to define something one way for everyone, regardless of how various people name their own experiences. For example, straight white men typically define prostitution as harmless and consensual and as something that ought to be legal for all involved. I find such a viewpoint spiritually callous and politically self-serving.


In various parts of the world, different conditions intertwine to make practices with the same name quite different in experience. I accept that each nation and state has its own historic, geographical, cultural, and social dynamics. Challenging and ending various forms of subjugation and terrorism by men against children and women require their own respective approaches. And of course women will define their conditions differently, in part because the conditions are different. So too are the structural locations of various groups of women.


Some identify and experience prostitution as slavery; some identify and experience it as sex work. It certainly is not for me to tell any woman how to define her experience. But engaged conversation can happen and I have asked several women, all young, how their respective plans to be a stripper, or a performer for a pornographer, gets them closer to achieving their longer-term goals. I ask them to consider the consequences of being repeatedly viewed or engaged with as an object of sexist men's desires. I ask them if they'd support their best friends making the same choices.


Promoting international human rights policy is a different matter than engaging with various populations about oppression. I'd argue that any human rights organization created to address globally oppressive conditions ought to be sure the most invisible and most silenced among us are brought into the center of our conversations, considerations, recommendations, and policies. If the organization is male-dominated, it ought to center the experiences of women. If it is majority-white, it ought to centralize the experiences of people of color. As I live in a society that is both, I see no reason not to center the experiences of women of color within and outside this country, especially groups of women generally invisible to the majority of U.S. citizens.


There are on-going efforts in various parts of the world to respond to the reality of prostitution as different populations experience it. There is often confusion among many about the difference between legalization and decriminalization as approaches; there are wide differences about who it is that is needing protection. 


For procuring and pimping men, the protection needed is a condom and appropriate laws making what they do legal. But those men want it also to be legal everywhere they prey. See this link for details on how 100 countries understand and legally deal with prostitution: http://prostitution.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000772


Legalization of prostitution sometimes means legalizing pimping and brothel-keeping, sometimes not. It sometimes means working to protect only traffickers and procurers from negative consequences, but not always. 


If pimps and procurers in 'First World' countries embrace their nations' efforts to legalize prostitution, or if it is already legal, the lack of accountability to committing rape 'at home' may serve to embolden their predation abroad. If it is not legal, they may travel to countries where it is, in order to commit those rapes with impunity. I support laws that render actions, such as the following, illegal and criminal: purchasing, renting, and physically and sexually abusing children and women--as those children and women define and describe it, not as it is defined for them by men or other more privileged people.


To frame prostitution primarily as a health crisis for predatory men in need of condoms and (even more) liberties is to abandon the human rights abuses endemic in places where trafficking, pimping, procuring, and brothel-keeping are done. Decentering or completely ignoring the perspectives and experiences of female and/or transgender human beings is wrong generally. But to do so from a position of structural or institutional power, even relative power, within human rights organizations, can too easily be utterly callous to the realities done to people who have identified their conditions as deplorable and atrocious.


I believe more privileged people ought to listen carefully to what less privileged people have to say about what is going on in the world. Not only that, but design their laws and policies to support the human rights of the least privileged. This blog exists to challenge and support the uprooting of core wrongs such as male and white supremacy, globalized exploitive capitalism, and 'First World' and anti-Indigenous colonialism, occupation, and genocide.


Newer approaches introduced in the last several years, such as one in Norway, identify a core problem when naming the problem of prostitution:

"A new law has come into force in Norway making the purchase of sex illegal.
Norwegian citizens caught paying for prostitutes at home or abroad could face a hefty fine or a six-month prison sentence, authorities say.
The prison sentence could be extended to three years in cases of child prostitution.
The Norwegian authorities say they want to stamp out sex tourism and street prostitution by targeting clients rather than prostitutes...
The tough new measures go further than similar ones introduced by other Nordic countries such as Sweden and Finland.
There has already been a visible decrease in women working on the streets of central Oslo, local media report...
Prostitutes will be offered access to free education and health treatment for those with alcohol or drugs problems."
BBC News, "New Norway Law Bans Buying of Sex," www.news.bbc.co.uk, Jan. 1, 2009
This approach rises out of the work of activists such as Ruchira Gupta and the girls and women who are part of it. In part 2, I shall place her voice, and her experiences with those other women and girls, at the center of this discussion.

Part 2: click here
Part 3: click here



Thursday, November 6, 2014

Find Sage Smith: a Conversation with CeCe McDonald and YM Carrington*

*The video below features a speech and conversation held at the Jefferson School African-American Heritage Center on November 1st, 2014 to raise awareness about Sage Smith's disappearance and also trans liberation with YM Carrington, CeCe McDonald, GABRIELA-DC, Sage Smith's family and community members. You can also click on this link to access this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLI4rxjVJC8

Here is some information about Sage from this website: 
Sage Smith is a black trans woman who went missing on November 20th, 2012 and was last seen at the Amtrak train station in Charlottesville, VA. Since then, various community efforts have sprung up to raise voices around her continued disappearance. However, despite the persistence of family and community members, there are as many questions today about her disappearance as there were in 2012. 
Almost two years later, the family, alongside friends and community members, is putting new energy into this effort to find answers, and we need your help. The Wayside Center for Popular Education is sponsoring a campaign to raise funds that will go towards these efforts to find answers. We have set our goal for $5,000 so that we can ensure that we have the resources to put quality work into the search efforts, and any form of contribution from you or your community will go a long way. 
Sage's case has been written on by various trans activists like Monica Roberts and CeCe McDonald, as well as various media outlets around the region. However, this case still needs much more attention and support than has been gotten and we aim to amplify the voices of those involved in finding Sage.
On the right side of this blog is an appeal for funds to support the effort to find Ms. Smith. 

With thanks to all for your activist efforts.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

A call for support for nina de jesus and Lisa Rabey: being threatened legally for calling a man's actions abusive and predatory


political poster is from here

The information on that can be found here: http://teamharpy.wordpress.com/why-are-we-being-sued/

From the link above:

Why are we being sued? 
Joseph Murphy (aka Joe Murphy) has begun legal proceedings naming nina de jesus and Lisa Rabey as defendants in a defamation lawsuit, asking for a total of 1.25 million dollars in damages1. 
Mr. Murphy claims that we: 
have injured his personal and professional reputation, and have lowered him in the estimation of right-thinking members of society, generally, and, in particular, have caused him to be regarded with feelings of hatred, contempt, ridicule, fear, dislike, approbrium or disesteem. The defendants’ statements are clearly defamatory and impossible to justify.2 
Mr. Murphy claims that Ms. Rabey “posted the following false, libelous and highly damaging tweet accusing the plaintiff of being a ‘sexual predator'”3. He further claims that Ms. de jesus wrote a blog post that “makes additional false, libelous, highly damaging, outrageous, malicious statements against the plaintiff alleging the commission of sexual harassment and sexual abuse of women and other forms of criminal and unlawful behaviour”4. 
Both Ms. Rabey and Ms. de jesus maintain that our comments are fair and are truthful, which we intend to establish in our defense. Neither of us made the claims maliciously nor with any intent to damage Mr. Murphy’s reputation.


Also she is raising money for a defense fund here: http://teamharpy.wordpress.com/legal-defense-fund/

From the second link, just above:


Legal Defense Fund 
Joseph Murphy (aka Joe Murphy) has begun legal proceedings naming nina de jesus and Lisa Rabey as defendants in a defamation lawsuit, asking for a total of 1.25 million dollars in damages1. 
Unfortunately, lawsuits are quite expensive and Lisa is currently unemployed and nina is underemployed: neither of us as the financial resources to stand up for our right to free speech and to defend ourselves in court against this lawsuit. 
We are asking for financial help from our communities and allies for our legal defense. We also understand that people may not be able to help us financially, so we also welcome support in the form of boosting our fundraising efforts and general moral support. 
Click here to donate to the Team Harpy Legal fundNote: Our funds are going to be held by a third party, to be dispensed whenever we incur costs.

  1. Please consult the statement of claim served to nina, for full details (Court File no. Cv.14-5.8411, of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice). 
Please visit this third site as well:
And calling for witnesses here: http://teamharpy.wordpress.com/call-for-witnesses/

Julian

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Please take one minute to sign this Change.org petition to revoke the bail of a cop who serially rapes Black women


First, here's the link to the Change.org petition:

https://www.change.org/p/gov-mary-fallin-revoke-the-bail-for-accused-serial-rapist-daniel-holtzclaw

With great thanks to Son of Baldwin: Twitter: https://twitter.com/SonofBaldwin, Tumblr: http://sonofbaldwin.tumblr.com/.

A few thousand more signatures will make a difference. So please share the Change.org link via Twitter and other social media. Thank you!

From Change.org's petition page:

Revoke the Bail for Accused Serial Rapist Daniel Holtzclaw

Revoke the Bail for Accused Serial Rapist Daniel Holtzclaw

Petition by

Son of Baldwin

Dear Governor Fallin:

We are outraged that Oklahoma City District Court Judge Timothy Henderson saw fit to offer bail to accused serial rapist (and possible murderer) Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw. Not only did the judge offer an initial bail of $5 million, but REDUCED it to $500,000 for the sole purpose of allowing Holtzclaw to obtain his freedom. We believe the public safety is at risk for as long as Holtzclaw is allowed to remain outside of prison. 

Holtzclaw has been accused, by EIGHT WOMEN, of abusing his power and resources as a police officer as a means to rape them without consequence. These testimonies, given by women who do not know one another, are remarkably consistent and credible and, in the interest of social justice, we demand that Holtzclaw's bail be revoked so each of these women, and every other woman in the community, can be assured that Holtzclaw, through his considerable connections through the Oklahoma City Police Department, will not be able retaliate or enact some sort of revenge against his accusers. 

Anything less than that does not serve the public interest and will not only seem to be a suspicious and concerted strategy on the part of the local government to protect one of its own, but also an attempt by the local government to perpetuate institutionalized and systemic racism and sexism, as all of Holtzclaw's victims are black women. 

So much sympathy and concern have been placed with Holtzclaw and his family. Well, what about the victims and THEIR families?

We cannot imagine a single American agency allowing Holtzclaw mercy, much less bail, if he were black and his victims were white.

Please join us in our efforts to show the world that the United States of America is not a rape culture where rapists are protected and excused. Please show the world that the lives of black women do, indeed, matter. Instruct Judge Henderson to revoke Daniel Holtzclaw's bail.

Signed,

The Concerned Citizens of the World



To:
Gov. Mary Fallin, Oklahoma-05 
Revoke the Bail for Accused Serial Rapist Daniel Holtzclaw
Sincerely,
[Your name]

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

12 Years A Slave: Review

Lupita Nyong'o and Chiwetel Ejiofor, featured in 12 Years a Slave
Before getting to the review, I wanted to let you know about a blog I just discovered. The publisher and editor is Kimberly N. Foster. Here's the link: http://www.forharriet.com/

And speaking of Harriet Tubman and the call to end slavery, I also wanted to offer a review of the film and winner of the latest Academy Award for Best Picture, 12 Years a Slave.

This is the cinematic telling of one U.S. man's true story. Solomon Northup was a real person who was born a free man in the north in 1808. He authored the book, 12 Years a Slave, about his capture in 1841 and release in 1853 from a white Southern hell.

What I appreciated was how the opening scenes might allow a white male viewer to see a Black man in 19th century U.S. as a free man, and how his horror at becoming a slave is not told through his abduction from West Africa, which might allow white people in the U.S. to distance ourselves from his plight. Northup, played superbly by Chiwetel Ejiofor, is "us" more than Kunta Kinte is "us". And for the purposes of a film most appropriately aimed at a white audience, this is crucial. Usually this is done by having the protagonist be white, reinforcing the deadly "Great White Man" myth, in such as in films like 1997's Amistad, 2006's Amazing Grace, and 2012's Lincoln.

I'm not saying the film is made (only) for a white U.S. audience: I'm saying that white people need to see and understand what this film is saying about us. And I'm not saying there isn't a collection of Great or Good White Men in this film. Brad Pitt's character, Bass, is one.

To me, the film brilliantly layers insult over injury, over and over. Each scene is another stark example of how whites conspire, on the institutional level and the interpersonal one, to control the bodies and destroy the dignity of Black people, here in the mid-19th century U.S. south. Each scene details the efforts of those enslaved to survive and not allow their humanity to be completely obliterated under the harsh and horrible lash of antebellum slavery.

The movie is brutal, graphically brutal, horrifyingly brutal, and unflinchingly honest in its depiction and portrayal of white men's sadism and savagery against Black people. In particular, it also depicts the complex relationship between white women and Black women, each group owned by white men. This is shown in the character of Mistress Shaw, played by Alfre Woodard.

But far more graphically, it is rendered through the tortured and tenacious humanity of Patsey, astoundingly acted by Lupita Nyong'o, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress.

A brilliant discussion of the legacy of colonial racist misogyny woven into the relationships of U.S. Black and white women may be read here in a brilliant piece by Michaela Angela Davis titled "12 Years A Slave: Rage, Privilege, Black Women and White Women". Here's the link, followed by an excerpt:

http://jezebel.com/12-years-a-slave-rage-privilege-black-women-and-whit-1452173238
The women in the beautifully brutal film 12 Years A Slave were mangled and maliciously intertwined. The enslaved women lived like beasts and the “free” women behaved like savages, trapped together in a filthy cage of rape, rage and bitter resentment. A resentment so magnificent, it could freshly fester in the psyche of their daughters for centuries to come.

The twisted relationship dynamics between the two lead female characters Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) and Mistress Epps (Sarah Paulson) in 12 Years A Slave are a horror.
The juxtaposition of such naked racist-misogynist sadism with feeble gestures at Southern white gentility is striking to me, reminding me of how fused the two are, and how dependent they are on one another. The white man who is only brutal is uncouth and risks revealing the putrid soul of whiteness to everyone who want to believe it is natural or God-given. The white man who is only genteel is not doing his job. His job is to rule over, exploit, and dehumanise Black people: to treat Black men as worse than non-human plantation chattel; to treat Black women as chattel and also as a rape object: chattel slave and sexual slave both.

We see how white men, more stupid and less stupid ones, are seduced by an unjust and inhumane ability to rule others. We see the gross arrogance, the supremacist self-delusion that he might be better because he is free, even while he is doomed to moral inferiority due to how he treats other human beings.

As you watch the film, or rewatch it, note how each scene carefully reveals another bloody-sharp facet of what U.S. slavery did to people: the rulers and the ruled, the owners and the owned.

I am led to see more deeply how this is still the case, with more slavery than ever, and at least as much denial that it ought to be abolished once and for all.




Tuesday, June 10, 2014

White Gay Male Politics and White Lesbian Feminist Challenges

photograph of Marilyn Frye is from here

What follows is a recent and extensive exchange in the comments section of a past post:
Why isn't the Misogyny and Anti-Radical/Anti-Feminism in and beyond Queer communities being seen as just as important to challenge and uproot as Anti-Trans practice?

My responses are partial and inadequate. There's much more to say in response to SuperMattTO's comments. There's much more to critique and challenge. But rather than have the exchange buried in the comments section of another post, I thought I'd share it here.

I welcome further critique and commentary by anyone who has respectful contributions to make.


Blogger SuperMattTO said...
Sometimes you just have to let the past go if you want to change things. The lesbian separatist movement made the LBGT community deeply divided, and, yes, some gay men felt unfairly attacked by some lesbian feminist authors, and did many trans-women. We might just have to forget about the antagonism that used to be.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014 at 1:01:00 PM EDT
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Blogger Julian Real said...
In my experience, honestly, it wasn't lesbian separatism that divided the community. It was male supremacy and white supremacy. Some women choosing to separate from various status quo society in various ways doesn't divide anything, any more than a group deciding to live somewhere else does. To decide to invest energy in women/wimmin-only spaces make sense to me. What also divides our community is the rape and assault of us as children by adults. And racism, and classism, and misogyny. Would you agree that white and male supremacy divides our community far more than lesbian separatism?
Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 1:20:00 AM EDT
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Blogger SuperMattTO said...
Well, I wasn't part of the community back then. In 1980, I was 8. But, when I read stuff like the following paper, I see that there is some truth to what some older gay men say about the early lesbian feminist movement. http://www.feminist-reprise.org/docs/fryegayrights.htm
Some of them treated us like enemies just for being gay men. It tends to be those older gay men who remember that period that sometimes express an anti-lesbian sentiment. There must be some men with male supremacist views in the gay community, but I haven't run into it very often. And, I certainly have never met a gay man who says that the reason why we should not be gay bashed is that we are not women. The author of that article seems to have just made that part up, but she accuses us all of being the same. As for your point about women-only space, I have nothing against that.
Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 7:00:00 PM EDT
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Blogger Julian Real said...
I want to be sure I'm following you here. What's the objection to Frye's essay? What do you understand the problem to be with it? Can you tell me on what page, and what paragraph? Then I can respond to something concrete.

You don't see the sexism and misogyny of gay men, but for those of us who register it in subtle and crude forms, it's fairly blatant and ubiquitous, particularly among white gay men with class privileges. From white gay drag (also blatantly racist, classist, and pro-sex abuse), to anti-feminism, to anti-lesbian politics. To white gay men assimilating into dominant male supremacist society with the only objection to that society being that it won't let in gay men.

Your comment reminds me of whites who say, "I honestly haven't seen much racism among the white people I know." Well, I see it among just about every white person I know. How can whites really know where racism lives, when it lives so invisibly to and among whites? What white person do you know who has a history of being negatively impacted by white supremacy day to night, week to week, year after year?

The same holds true with men, gay and not gay, re: misogyny. It's never far from the surface and too often is all over the surface.

I'm not saying that's all there is: everyone is human and three-dimensional.

Personally, I really liked Frye's essay--and the whole book--when I first read it. It made so much sense of my own experiences and explained why I had gravitated to lesbian-feminism and away from gay-male supremacist politics.

Lesbian feminism and radical feminism were the only two political stances that took sexual violence (including in media such as television and pornography), sexual exploitation and harassment, and child sexual abuse seriously.

Back in the day, if I described some of the abuse I endured in adolescence, gay men would find it erotic and tell me so. Not one woman--lesbian or not, feminist or not, made such a crass remark to me. I think that's because sexual violence and the threat of it is so real, that it's not anything to take lightly.

What is the transformative plan of white gay men you know? What's the radical social agenda? Assimilation is about all I see.

Lesbian feminism and radical feminism have had a consistently anti-status quo agenda and social analysis. Rooting out patriarchy is an agenda among both groups. I don't know of any gay organizations or activist groups who put that on the 'to do' list, even theoretically. Do you?
Sunday, June 8, 2014 at 11:29:00 PM EDT
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Blogger SuperMattTO said...
I'm too busy to give the long response that you want me to give but teen sexual abuse is very much frowned upon by the gay community. I am sorry that you ran into men that feel otherwise.

Gay men are the other group that has historically taken a stance against childhood sexual abuse. It only took one year for Nambla to be kicked out of most gay pride marches.

Everything is wrong with Frye's essay, but I will have to get back to you on that later when I have more time.
Monday, June 9, 2014 at 6:38:00 AM EDT
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Blogger SuperMattTO said...
Part I...I had to split my response in half.

Let's take a look at some of her arguments.

1. The presumption of male citizenship.
She claims that gay men think that all men should have the right to certain things like a car and a job but that not all women should. I have never met a gay male who does not think that men and women should be equal in this regard.
2. Worship of the penis.
This is a ridiculous criticism of gay men. If gay men worship penises it is only in a sexual rather than a spiritual way. Gay men like dick because they are sexually attracted to other men. There is no assumption that the male body is superior, or a belief that society at large should worship penises more than vaginas It is just our sexual preference. There are some lesbians that worship the female body the same way that gay men worship the male body, and that is fine to us. It is to be suspected, and nothing about gender superiority should be read into it, unless someone really does believe in gender superiority.
She also says stuff like the following.
"The culture is one in which men are not commonly found laughable when they characterize the female as a castrated male. It is a culture in which an identification of the penis with power, presence and creativity is found plausible-not the brain, the eyes, the mouth or the hand, but the penis. In that culture, any object or image which at all resembles or suggests the proportions of an erect penis will be imbued with or assumed to have special mythic, semantic, psychological or supernatural powers. There is nothing in gay male culture or politics as they appear on the street, in bars, in gay media, which challenges this belief in the magic of the penis."
I'm sorry, but very few gay men believe in that type of male supremacism. She is simply wrong in the way she characterises us.

3. Male homoeroticism, or man-loving.
Again, it is simply because we are gay. There is nothing wrong with gay male homoeroticism, because there is nothing wrong with two men having sex with each other, and it is healthy to have sexual relations and sexual fantasies.
4. Contempt for women, or woman-hating.

She says that this is how gay men feel about being gay-bashed.

"Like most other men who for one reason or another get a taste of what it's like to be a woman in a woman-hating culture, they are inclined to protest, not the injustice of anyone ever being treated so shabbily, but the injustice of their being treated so when they are not women.'

No. I have known a lot of gay men very well, and they simply do not feel that way. Gay men are exceptionally critical of men who act violently towards women, or men who treat women as inferiors. Gay men, by and large simply do not think the way she says we do.

She also claims that all effeminate gay men are simply making fun of women. There are a few very politically incorrect drag queens out there. But, just like not all butch dykes are making fun of men, by and large, most effeminate gay men are not either.
Monday, June 9, 2014 at 11:30:00 AM EDT
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Blogger SuperMattTO said...
Part II:
5. Compulsory male heterosexuality.
No. We don't believe in that. There might be some gay fathers out there, but compulsory heterosexuality is not one of our beliefs. We are completely offended by it. And, a lot of gay men are also completely bothered by straight men who think lesbians should have to do it with a man. We understand that this is offensive enough that it warrants significant feminist backlash against straight men, but it is totally unfair to lay the blame on us.
6. The presumption of general phallic access.
Who does she think she is protecting by supporting anti-gay sodomy laws. Does she not realise that in the gay male culture that largely condemns coercive sex, the men who take it up the ass want to because they like it? What business does she have trying to stop gay men from doing this? If she is a feminist, she should concern herself more with whether or not some straight men are coercive and whether or not certain aspects of the dominant straight porn culture might promote coercive sex. But, it is wrong to condemn gay men for this. Rather, the would could learn a lot from us, since we firmly believe that only people who really want to take it up the ass should do so.

Indeed, she misunderstands us so badly that she says this.
"The general direction of gay male politics is to claim maleness and male privilege for gay men and to promote the enlargement of the range of presumption of phallic access to the point where it is, in fact, absolutely unlimited."
In what way is it fair to say that about a culture of people who largely condemns people who are sexually coercive, sex with underage boys and girls, and bestiality.
Finally, take a look at this comment.
"The power available to those who choose, who decide in favor of deviance from heterosexual norms, can be very great."
Because she is opposed to male homoeroticism and she thinks that women who choose to live a lesbian lifestyle make more of a difference than lesbians who are simply only attracted to women, she is essentially claiming that only straight or bi women should be allowed to speak for the entire LBGT community. That is heterosexual supremacism showing its ugly head.

Returning now to an earlier comment she made in her paper that gay men are if anything anti-feminist. I disagree with this statement. But, back in 1983, a lot of gay men were being sick of being told what they think by straight women who were pretending to be lesbians, principally because we don't think that way. Many gay men actually to prescribe to a more-or-less feminist ideology.
Monday, June 9, 2014 at 11:33:00 AM EDT
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Blogger SuperMattTO said...
And, yet another response to some parts of your post that I did not address earlier.

Yes, white supremacy is pervasive in white culture. My experience with gay men is that some of them have a grudge against straight men and some of them hold a grudge against lesbians, but very few hold much of a grudge against straight women. And, I am being as honest as I possibly can. SOME of the lesbophobia that is out there probably has a sexist component, but sometimes it is resentment towards radical feminists who seemed to agree with our oppressors about some issues.

I don't really agree that gay male politics has no feminist component. A lot of the people who oppose gay marriage are gender traditionalists. They say that, for a relationship to work well, there has to be a person with a vagina who cooks, and a person with a penis who mows the lawn. Gay and lesbian marriages violate the view of obligatory gender roles that they want to maintain. And, gay male culture tends to be quite genderless. We don't really maintain that there is such a thing as a male or a female role in relationships or that there is any advantage to introducing the notion of gender into a relationship. Mainstream acceptance of gay marriage will help to dismantle patriarchy.
I have seen a fair number of gay men getting involved in feminist organisations like becauseiamagirl.ca, which does fundraising for underpriviledged girls in third-word countries. But, a gay rights organisation cannot itself take on those types of issues, because it isn't a gay rights issue. That doesn't mean that gay rights activists don't support women's rights though.
As a sidnote, I honestly don't see radical feminists coming up with a viable way to overthrow patriarchy either.
Monday, June 9, 2014 at 2:13:00 PM EDT
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Blogger Julian Real said...
Lots to respond to.

First, "Gay men are the other group that has historically taken a stance against childhood sexual abuse. It only took one year for Nambla to be kicked out of most gay pride marches."

NAMBLA was supported by many gay men, was supported by gay men to be part of the gay pride parade, and was critiqued most clearly and immediately not by gay men, but by lesbian and feminist women.

"Everything is wrong with Frye's essay...

How could that be? I'll assume that is uncareful rhetoric.
Monday, June 9, 2014 at 10:49:00 PM EDT
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Blogger Julian Real said...
'I'm sorry, but very few gay men believe in that type of male supremacism. She is simply wrong in the way she characterises us."

Our experiences are different.

3. "Male homoeroticism, or man-loving.
Again, it is simply because we are gay. There is nothing wrong with gay male homoeroticism, because there is nothing wrong with two men having sex with each other, and it is healthy to have sexual relations and sexual fantasies."


The issue for me has been how gay men treat women, lesbians, and feminists over the years. When lesbian feminism began a systematic critique of male supremacist power as it displayed itself against lesbians, gay men parted company with lesbians in the struggle against heteropatriarchy. In and beyond the bdsm gay community, a very narrow kind of patriarchal masculinity and male power is eroticised: it's not just gay men being attracted to one another; it's the celebration of a kind of masculinity that, in the larger world, is deeply oppressive to women, and also to gay men.

You cite this of Frye's:

"Like most other men who for one reason or another get a taste of what it's like to be a woman in a woman-hating culture, they are inclined to protest, not the injustice of anyone ever being treated so shabbily, but the injustice of their being treated so when they are not women.'

You respond:
"No. I have known a lot of gay men very well, and they simply do not feel that way. Gay men are exceptionally critical of men who act violently towards women, or men who treat women as inferiors. Gay men, by and large simply do not think the way she says we do."

Most gay men I know oppose domestic violence and the rape of women by men. Many gay men are vague on what constitutes rape between men. Few gay men have an analysis, let alone organized opposition to 'rape culture', which explains the 'hard-core', uncompromising defence of industry pornography across the board.

Also, most gay men I've known oppose gay bashing because it is violence against queer people, not because it is an expression of misogyny directed at allegedly 'effeminate' men. The fact that straight gay bashing men, and other straight men, call us all manner of names that basically mean 'too much like a woman', demonstrate this is how we are viewed in dominant male culture. Gay men's personal ads reveal this too: "no femmes". I have never seen an ad that reads, "no masculine or butch men". Have you?

"She also claims that all effeminate gay men are simply making fun of women. There are a few very politically incorrect drag queens out there. But, just like not all butch dykes are making fun of men, by and large, most effeminate gay men are not either."

I think you mistakenly read feminist and lesbian analysis to think that when authors critique 'men' or 'gay men' they mean ALL people in that category. This is a sloppy misread, in my view. For if gay men critique hetero men, clearly we don't mean EVERY SINGLE straight boy.

Understanding white gay male drag, particularly when allegedly appearing to be 'Black women'--and I don't mean particular famous women like Diana Ross or Patti LaBelle, it is rarely anything but a misogynist minstrel show, garnering adoration and appreciation from other gay men, while turning 'Black women" into a caricature. That is my experience. Perhaps we live in different cultures, or have done so.
Monday, June 9, 2014 at 11:13:00 PM EDT
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Blogger Julian Real said...
Also, you might wish to learn about Allen Ginsberg's position on sex with thirteen year old boys. And note how many gay men celebrate him as a positive libertarian.
Monday, June 9, 2014 at 11:16:00 PM EDT
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Blogger Julian Real said...
Generally, I guess I see you attempting to speak for all gay men across eras, and ignoring a great deal about gay men's historical protection of abuses of male power. Why you rewrite history in this way is not clear to me.

For now, just to offer proof of a example of a prominent gay men who advocates or celebrates sex with children, I'm citing one historical figure who looms large in counterculture, especially if not only among men across sexual orientation. My reason for doing so is not to say Ginsberg is representative of all gay men. It is, rather, to note that when you speak for all gay men, you leave out a lot.

LOFTON: Did you say you had a sexual preference for young boys?

GINSBERG: We're not on trial here. I'm trying to explain.

LOFTON: But in a way, we're all on trial.

GINSBERG: Well, then you must excuse me if I don't adopt the submissive attitude you wish. I got on the air and said that when I was young I was approached by an older man and I don't think it did me any harm. And that I like younger boys and I think that probably almost everybody has an inclination that is erotic toward younger people, including younger boys.

LOFTON: How young were the boys?

GINSBERG: In my case, I'd say fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen.

LOFTON: That you had sex with?

GINSBERG: No, unfortunately I haven't had the chance. [laughs]

Source of the interview snippet is here here.

You may also read Andrea Dworkin's account of his unapologetic predatory attitudes in her book, Heartbreak.
Monday, June 9, 2014 at 11:25:00 PM EDT
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Blogger Julian Real said...
Regarding this, "As a sidenote, I honestly don't see radical feminists coming up with a viable way to overthrow patriarchy either."

I'd phrase that dramatically differently. I'd say this is more truthful:

With the on-going militant pervasiveness and centuries-old stubbornness of racist patriarchy, it is not yet possible to overthrow it. Such a dismantling and transformation would require that many groups of people band together to fight various man-infestations of white male supremacy, including genocide of Indigenous people globally, opposition to globalisation, the creation of economic justice, the cultural overthrow of rapism, the end of rape, the dissolution of white power and male power, the statusing of lesbianism and radical feminism, and so much more. Ask your gay male friends if they'll get on board with such a project and let me know what they say.
Monday, June 9, 2014 at 11:44:00 PM EDT
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Blogger SuperMattTO said...
"With the on-going militant pervasiveness and centuries-old stubbornness of racist patriarchy, it is not yet possible to overthrow it. Such a dismantling and transformation would require that many groups of people band together to fight various man-infestations of white male supremacy, including genocide of Indigenous people globally, opposition to globalisation, the creation of economic justice, the cultural overthrow of rapism, the end of rape, the dissolution of white power and male power, the statusing of lesbianism and radical feminism, and so much more. Ask your gay male friends if they'll get on board with such a project and let me know what they say."

Nearly all of my gay male friends would agree with all of those goals.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at 9:54:00 AM EDT
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Blogger SuperMattTO said...

"When lesbian feminism began a systematic critique of male supremacist power as it displayed itself against lesbians, gay men parted company with lesbians in the struggle against heteropatriarchy. In and beyond the bdsm gay community, a very narrow kind of patriarchal masculinity and male power is eroticised: it's not just gay men being attracted to one another; it's the celebration of a kind of masculinity that, in the larger world, is deeply oppressive to women, and also to gay men."

The problem here is that I don't agree with the analysis. Bdsm is consensual and it is all about exploring one's sensual limits, which is what some people find erotic and even sometimes spiritual. I also don't particularly agree with you that there any such thing as masculinity.

Historically, women were treated like sex slave, but there is a real difference between that type of a major human rights violation and consensual sex. Just the fact that some people like bdsm should show you how different these two things really are. I agree with you on the other points you made in the post.

"Gay men's personal ads reveal this too: "no femmes". I have never seen an ad that reads, "no masculine or butch men". Have you?"

That's always bothered me too. It strikes be to be quite politically incorrect, and far too common.

"Understanding white gay male drag, particularly when allegedly appearing to be 'Black women'--and I don't mean particular famous women like Diana Ross or Patti LaBelle, it is rarely anything but a misogynist minstrel show, garnering adoration and appreciation from other gay men, while turning 'Black women" into a caricature. That is my experience. Perhaps we live in different cultures, or have done so."

I know very little about drag. I know that there is some very misogynistic and racist stuff out there. There is a group of guys in my square dance group that dress in drag once per year, and there is nothing misogynistic about it. It is just having fun with outrageous costumes. The same guys come out with other types of outrageous costumes on halloween.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at 10:08:00 AM EDT
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Blogger SuperMattTO said...
What does "the statusing of radical feminism and lesbianism" mean?
Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at 1:00:00 PM EDT
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Blogger Julian Real said...
"Nearly all of my gay male friends would agree with all of those goals."

Where do you live? I don't mean specifically; what country and city do you live in? I don't know hardly any gay men who would be on board with that political project. I'm glad you do.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at 10:03:00 PM EDT
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Blogger Julian Real said...
"Historically, women were treated like sex slave, but there is a real difference between that type of a major human rights violation and consensual sex."

I agree with the last part but need to qualify the first part. Rape and rough or bdsm consensual sex are not identical, of course. I don't think it's a profeminist position that they are. The point is that they rise out of a similar political ground. And: sexual slavery is far more prevalent now than in the past, of women and girls especially. And it's not about being treated as a sex slave, but actually being one as far as the slavers are concerned. That is: the problem isn't just men thinking some women and girls deserve to be treated as sex slaves. The problem is that women's and girls' humanity is so non-existent in the minds of millions of men, that making them into sex slaves doesn't seem like an injustice or mistreatment of the enslaved people. This has always been true of slavers.

"Just the fact that some people like bdsm should show you how different these two things really are.

This is where your argument is weak in my opinion. Because it leaves out a very crucial fact: that rapists, child molesters, and other perpetrators like what they do. They enjoy it. They get intense pleasure from it. So, if we focus on the perps, there's little difference, with regard to liking it. I realise you're talking about BOTH parties enjoying it, and base its acceptability on the presence of consent. But many women I know have experienced rape and the law would only define it 'consensual sex'.

An excellent critique of 'consent' as a woefully inadequate measure of genuinely respectful sexual practice exists. It ought not be what we base law on. For more, please see, chapter 18. Unequal Sex: A Sex Equality Approach to Sexual Assault, in Women's Lives, Men's Laws, by Catharine A. MacKinnon.

If being sexually assaulted, particularly but not only in childhood, results in dissociation, self-imposed silencing, and a terror of telling any man 'no' when sex is brought into an interaction, how might we know what's genuinely consensual? If she is not safe, or doesn't feel safe to say no, why should an absence of a 'no' be assumed to be a 'yes'?

I've never heard one gay man make these points, because consent is sufficient as a maximum level of agreement for most gay men I know, for most men generally.

As a survivor of child sexual abuse and adult sexual exploitation, I am suggesting that 'consent' is an inadequate measure of mutual respect and regard, particularly for law, but also for relationships.

I'll offer up these points: if society is soaked in misogyny, built on it, bred and raised in it, isn't it likely that what we will enjoy it sexually and socially? Put another way, how could we not enjoy it and absorb it as 'hot', on some level? I'm speaking about many levels of misogyny, not just the most overtly hostile forms that might seem obviously deplorable to more sensitive and aware gay males.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at 11:09:00 PM EDT
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Blogger Julian Real said...
"Gay men's personal ads reveal this too: "no femmes". I have never seen an ad that reads, "no masculine or butch men". Have you?"

That's always bothered me too. It strikes be to be quite politically incorrect, and far too common.


The point isn't the degree to which you or I am bothered by it. Or by gay men's embrace of industry pornography. Or by white gay men's misogyny and racism in drag performance. Or white gay men's protection and defence of white gay men traveling to countries where much poorer people of color live to have sex with young men, or younger males.

The issue is that all of that and more is pervasive in gay community or gay male behavior in the Global North and Australia. That tells us something about our culture, doesn't it? It's not that those things are extreme practices--the problem is not that they are extreme. The problem is that they are normal and reveal the core values of the dominant society.

Gay men's practices aren't less innocent because gay men practice them. Yes, gay men are not positioned to rule society the way het men are. But we don't discount the harm just because the most dominant people aren't the practitioners in these cases.

I know very little about drag. I know that there is some very misogynistic and racist stuff out there.

I find that wording to be troubling. "Some very misogynistic and racist stuff out there." It's not exactly something kind of unfortunate, something only some people enjoy. Again, like the 'no femmes' thing, it's pervasive, embedded in our culture. It's not an entirely peripheral phenomenon. It speaks to something at the center of our world.

There is a group of guys in my square dance group that dress in drag once per year, and there is nothing misogynistic about it. It is just having fun with outrageous costumes. The same guys come out with other types of outrageous costumes on halloween.

How would you or I know whether there's anything misogynistic about it? We're not in a position to know it and name it because, let's face it, males aren't the best at doing so; we miss a lot. Nor are whites the best at knowing and identifying racism when it is expressed.

I don't know how the guys in your dance group dress up, so I won't speak to that. But those gay men who I know who do dress up in drag, actually say they are dressing up 'like a woman'. Such an understanding of 'women' is grossly stereotypical, and really has very little to do 'being like a woman'. For those people (female or male) who are threatened and endangered by the prevalence of such two-dimensionalising and distorting of 'womanhood', it is not confusing to me why so many women would oppose it as not at all progressive.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at 11:09:00 PM EDT

Added:

You asked, "What does "the statusing of radical feminism and lesbianism" mean?

As I see it, various perspectives are either statused: valued and held up with regard, or stigmatised: devalued and held down with contempt. This is also true of groups of people. In corporate media, white radical feminism and lesbian feminism are virtually invisible, moreso the radical feminism and lesbian feminism of women of color.

White gay male politics are prominent when 'gay' issues are discussed or reported on. Currently, assimilationist/racist/classist/misogynist white gay male political agendas are embraced by more and more people who value and protect the status quo. Increasingly, radical feminism and lesbian feminism are devalued and marginalised, such as in academic institutions and across status quo society.

P.S. I missed where you wrote you live in Toronto. Thanks for that information. It's useful to know you didn't grow up, or at least don't currently live, in the U.S. The U.S. has very particular historical and contemporary ways of reinforcing white male supremacy. As does Canada.