Monday, December 6, 2010

Calling All Intersex, Intergender, Asexual, Anti-binary Gender Radicals and Anti-Heteropatriarchy Activists

image for trans/gender activism is from here

I am wanting to organise support and empowerment to those of us who are not part of the binaries of sex and gender to gather in cyberspaces to discuss how to better support radical feminist activism and other radical women's activism who may not ever identify as "feminist". (It is, after all, an English word, and for most humans, English is not a first language. And many women do perceive "feminist" to be a specifically "Western" or "white" term, and that doesn't mean those activists aren't doing radical anti-patriarchal work.

The sex and gender binaries are set up patriarchally and oppressively in the West, and elsewhere--but not universally, with violence, with coercion, with harassment, with subordinating practices including bullying, beating, and rape. These forms of violence, as well as institutional discrimination and industrial strength degradation, disproportionately targets females, girls, "feminised" or "feminine" children and adults, and women. The violence and discrimination is disproportionately perpetrated by males, boys, and men, against girls and women, and also against male children and adults.

Class and race are gendered such that being dominant in any hierarchy adds "masculine" status and privileges, while being "on the bottom" of any hierarchy "feminises" the oppressed groups.

 Across class, race, region, and ethnicity, there are people who "don't fit" the binaries, because the binaries are not natural or inclusive of all humans. One strategy has been for gay men to claim to be "real men", which often has misogynistic implications and courses of political action. Another strategy has been for transgender and transsexual people to insist on being identified using the terms of the master which reinforce the oppressive/misogynistic/patriarchal binary.

I'm hoping to hear from people, by email, by comment, here, who support the group "woman" being identified as radical feminists identify that group: the people who are not male and not men who are oppressed by male supremacy and by men interpersonally and institutionally for being "girls" and "women".

I'm wanting to support the realities and existence of asexual people, who, for many reasons, opt out of hetero/sexual social rules and codes of conduct, including how we "do" relationships, and how we express affection and intimacy. I'm wanting to explore, here, how being sexual can be a form of acting out child sexual abuse or heteropatriarchal upbringing. I see heteropatriarchal upbringing as a form of spiritual and psychic harm, privileging some, punishing others. Some of us, like me, experience both privileging and punishment. As someone who is asexual, politically and personally, I reject hetero/patriarchal ways of being in relationship as inhumane and oppressive, misogynistic and often racist and classist too. I see my white gay class-privileged brothers not usually questioning and resisting CRAP, instead of confronting and working to end capitalist, racist heteropatriarchy.

I'm wanting to support the realities of lesbian existence, of women's existence, who do experience assaults against their female bodies because of the political meaning of them in patriarchal societies. I believe this experience of oppression, dehumanisation, degradation, violation, and subordination due to being a girl or a woman with a female body warrants respect and regard as we strategise resistance movements and political courses of action to challenge the ideologies and imperatives of white het male supremacy and to effectively compost CRAP.

I'm also calling on all WHITE WESTERN non-trans and trans activists who proclaim "transgender people" or "transsexuals" to be THE MOST OPPRESSED GROUP ON EARTH to knock off the racist, Western privileged nonsense. It's an insult to all people of color, especially girls and women, who experience things you'll never even hear about, unless you go out of your way to do so. This isn't to minimise anyone's pain or suffering, but it is to note that you DO have white and Western privileges, and often non-ESL and non-Third and Fourth World privileges. And, in case you didn't notice, most non-trans women and girls do not.

Thoughts? Interest? I welcome hearing from people who basically are in agreement here, not from non-trans and trans activists who want to reinforce the gender binary by insisting that everyone is either "one [dominant, statused] gender" or "the opposite [subordinated, stigmatised] one". And from intersex people generally--those who were raised as girls or as boys, but who have had to find their own ways as intersex people, who had surgeries they didn't welcome or want, or who have had no surgeries and want to be fully statused as complete and whole human beings just as you are.

How Much "Gender Variance" Will CRAP Tolerate? A Radical Profeminist Query

image of a kind of androgynous gender restroom symbol is from here

Across queer cultures, particularly class- and race- and region- privileged ones, I see discussion after discussion about the need to promote gender variance in media and in society beyond media.

I support media projects that seek to visibilise people who are not represented by dominant media if and when those invisible people are fighting against racism, heterosexism, misogyny, genocide, and ecocide. Without defining the much-needed politics, one may be left supporting abstract goals of "more visibility for everyone"--a very liberal notion--which would, by definition, include more exposure in media to the pursuits of those who think slavery is awesome, white nationalism is desperately needed, anti-Muslim terrorism needs to be amped up, and lesbian feminist women are nothing more than "man-haters", "prudes", "transphobes" and "intolerant bigots". The lesbian feminists I have been honored to know across my lifetime are sheros, warriors, and radicals who refuse to accept conditions of race and gender oppression as natural or inevitable. They are not man-haters: they are woman-lovers; they are not prudes: they are passionate and prudent; they are not transphobes: they offer a critique of queer and dominant cultures that include investigating and interrogating the depths of sex and gender, turning over every stone, not just the ones easiest to lift. And they are not bigots: they are women who speak truth to power.

I await filmmakers making films that promote radical points of view, revolutionary actions, anti-WHM conservative and anti-WHM liberal stances on everything under the sun. I await media that names white het male supremacy as a globalised endemic problem, a murderous and otherwise tyrannical and lethal one.

If whites and class-privileged folks wish to promote gender as "in need of variance" without naming male supremacy and patriarchy as the forces which keep it narrow and hierarchical, they are participating in a dangerous form of liberalism, of invisibilisation of the cost of gender to over half the population of people on Earth: women raised as girls. The promotion of "women" as a category that is de-politicised, that is assumed to be able to exist apart from its ties to white het male supremacist objectives and aims that are explicitly and egregiously oppressive-to-women-and-girls, is an anti-radical, anti-profeminist project, in the view of this blog.

I oppose the patriarchal, pro-pimp promotion of wearing or implanting fake breasts as a way to "be a woman". I oppose CRAP's medical establishment promoting genital surgery, such as labiaplasty, as a way to "be a woman". I am against cultural and academic efforts to pretending that contemporary Western womanhood is a disembodied experience, as if most women and girls aren't in bodies that are specifically targeted for specific forms of invasion and violation, punishment and predation, objectification and dehumanisation.

In our lived lives, human "vaginas" and human "female breasts" are targeted for exploitation and violence because they are seen by male supremacist as "parts" of women that must be abused and violated, along with every other "part" of women's bodies and lives.

To "deconstruct" (read: abstract and delegitimise) women from the bodies most women live in, and have lived in since birth through girlhood to adulthood, is to remove from analysis the experiences of that political group of people, rendering claims that it is a political group "exclusivist" or "bigoted". Whose interests are served by taking the focus off of what happens to that political group? My answer: Men's and patriarchy's.

On a related note: why don't those of us who are intersex, intergender, transsexual, and transgender demand from the State, the government, the right to be identified "as we are" regardless of what levels of hormonal or surgical procedures we have had or will have. "What we are" is this: intersex, intergender, transsexual, and transgender, and why can't, for example, TG be listed as our "sex/gender" on forms that ask for such information? Why do we all have to be forced into saying "I'm a woman" or "I'm a man" if we're adults? There are, after all, intersex people who may not be "female" or "male". Why can't intersex people gain legitimacy as being "I" for intersex, not "F" or "M"? I'm not saying that some intersex people don't or won't identify as male or female. But when surgeons are at the ready to snip and cut children's genitals to "make them male" or "make them female" one has to ask: why can't genitals be something else too? Why does the binary have to be surgically enforced against the will of people who never asked for it or welcomed it?

I'm advocating for a progressive to radical "Gender Variance" movement, which does exist in some places among some individuals, that rejects the inhumanity and tyranny of dominant culture forcing of all of us into only binary categories. And I also support acknowledging that people assigned female at birth, raised to be girls, who are then identified and treated and structurally positioned as "women" in adulthood, or mistreated for being femme women, or mistreated for being butch women, be validated and respected as a distinct political group, who have the right to offer one another social-political services and support, who have the right to gather together, without other people insisting they are part of that group when they are not FAAB, raised to be a girl, socially statused as a woman as an adult.

There is, without much question or challenge, a distinct political group called "men" who were assigned male at birth, raised to be boys, and institutionally identified and structurally positioned as "the superior gender" over and against women. To blur or obfuscate the meaning of this group as anything other than "the dominant sex/gender" is to make organised resistance to that group's oppression of non-males and non-men more difficult, in the view of this blog.

Gender Terms: An introduction to the lingo of gender in the Anglo-white West

image is from here
Increasingly, for now, I am wanting to analyse how dominant society presents information about "gender". My experience  within my own queer realms, is that in the last twenty years, there has been a concerted effort to de-politicise gender, presenting it instead as an ever-increasingly fluid and complex social reality, as if whte het male supremacy has effectively disappeared as an ideological and institutionalised force that determines a great deal about how gender is expressed, enforced, and sometimes survived.
From Below The Belt blog: 1.14.2010. Please click on the title just below to link back. My comment follows, along with a couple by another member of Below The Belt, who goes by the moniker aqueertheory.

Gender 101

My previous (and first post) dealt with the concept of femme gender and whether or not it needs to be legitimized. An excellent suggestion was made that I make myself clear on what I mean by gender and the terms that I’m using and that I do a little Gender 101.

Usually with a 101, we start with vocabulary so that we can understand the words being used. Here are some common terms that are used when talking about sex and gender:

Sex: A term used to describe a type of physical body, can be based on primary and secondary sex characteristics, hormones, and/or chromosomes.

Primary Sex Characteristics: Sex characteristics that are directly related to the reproductive system and encompass genitals

Secondary Sex Characteristics: Sex characteristics that are not directly part of reproductive organs and develop during puberty (such as breasts)

Genitals: External sex organs that are directly related to the reproductive system

Reproductive System: The organs of a body that allow a species to reproduce

Gender: A social and psychological identity

Gender Roles: Sets of behavior and assigned by society that are supposed to correspond to traditional ideas about gender

Male Sex: Usually assigned at birth based on primary sex characteristics, such as the presence of a penis, scrotum, and testicles. The assignment can be based on hormones, other primary sex characteristics, secondary sex characteristics, chromosomes

Female Sex: Usually assigned at birth based on primary sex characteristics, such as the presence of a clitoris, vagina and vulva. The assignment can be based on hormones, other primary sex characteristics, secondary sex characteristics, chromosomes

Man: A gender identity socially assigned to those who are assigned with the male sex at birth as well as a gender identity that one may come to through experiences and identification.

Woman: A gender identity socially assigned to those who are assigned with the female sex at birth as well as a gender identity that one may come to through experiences and identification.

Gender Fluid: A person whose gender identity and presentation fluctuates

Third Gender: A person whose gender identity and presentation does not fit within concepts of man or woman

Intersex: Intersex bodies are that do not fit within the concept of an exclusively male or female sexed body.

Biological Sex: A term used to describe the sex of the physical body – a controversial term

Cisgendered: A term used to describe those whose gender identity matches that of the sex they were assigned at birth

Transgender: An umbrella term to describe those whose gender identity falls outside of the normative assignment of male sex = male gender and masculine behavior and gender presentation, or of female sex = female gender and feminine behavior and gender presentation

Transsexual: A term originating in the medical field to describe one who has through medicine changed a part of their sex either through hormones or surgery

Feminine: Characteristics of a person that are associated with femaleness and female gender roles

Masculine: Characteristics of a person that are associated with maleness and male gender roles

Butch: Can be used to mean a masculine gender identity for a person assigned female at birth, or a masculine gender identity for a gay-identified man or a gender identity that encompasses some masculine or what is defined as butch characteristics originating in the lesbian community

Femme: Can be used to mean a feminine gender identity for a person assigned female at birth that identifies as a lesbian, or a feminine gender identity for a gay-identified man or a gender identity that encompasses some feminine or what is defined as Femme characteristics originating in the lesbian community

Boi: Usually a term for a young masculine or gender fluid identified person who was assigned female at birth, also commonly used among young gay-identified men

Boy: Used as a term for a young masculine or male-identified person, sometimes used by anyone with a young masculine gender identity

Girl: Used as a term for a young feminine or female-identified person

Grrl: A term originating among third-wave feminists to replace traditional ideas of young girls as tender and passive

Effeminate: Gender characteristics associated with the behavior of gay men
Normative: Follows cultural and social norms

We are usually taught that there are two sexes – male and female-and two corresponding genders to the two sexes – man and woman, in some circles, that is considered the end all and be all of sexed bodies and gender identities. In other circles it is acknowledged that there are more than two sexes, that there are those who are intersex, and that the range of sexed bodies is quite large with no clear demarcation between the two. Historically and currently in some areas, the concept that there are two sexes has been considered a simple fact of biology and that there are two corresponding genders a simple organizing principle of society.

Recent developments in gender studies, and findings in anthropology and sociology have challenged both viewpoints. Several theorists, namely Anne Fausto-Sterling have challenged the idea that sex as we know it is a biological fact. She points out that the range of sexed bodies is far larger than simply male or female and that historically and currently our concepts of what constitutes ‘male’ or ‘female’ hormones, the penis and/or the clitoris as well as secondary sex characteristics have been socially influenced for as long as the concepts have been around. Other challenges on Western concepts of gender can be found in comparative Anthropological gender studies show that many other cultures have a different gender structure, they may have more than two genders or entirely different characteristics assigned to the genders they have, even if they two follow the male=man and female=woman taxonomy.

However, one does not necessarily need to look to academia to understand and know that many people’s lived experience differs from what is considered normative in terms of sex and gender. Communities of differently sexed and differently gendered folks, and other sexual minorities such as the BDSM-Leather-Fetish and LGBT communities, have a wide variety of gender identities that are created, celebrated, contested and that move into other communities. The world at large includes a plethora of sexed bodies and gendered experiences and the ways in which I have experienced the world as someone who identifies as a Femme, but not necessarily a woman, and the experiences of others all across the sex and gender spectrum are the types of experiences I would like to examine, celebrate and delve into in my writing. This is just the tip of the iceberg – it is Gender 101 and I look forward to Gender 201 and beyond.

Nice post! One of the best things about setting out a list of definitions is that they can then be played around with and the nuances in them can really be brought out. Just some things I would add: 

Sex: A term used to describe a type of physical body, can be based on primary and secondary sex characteristics, hormones, and/or chromosomes. Nevertheless, some people's assigned sex, usually given at birth, might not match the sex that they feel themselves to be. Hence, sex may also be a psychic, experiential and mental phenomenon. And others might not feel a belonging to any particular sex, preferring to identify as "genderqueer."

Gender Roles: Sets of behavior, life-style patterns, occupations (the list can go on...) assigned by society that are supposed to correspond to traditional ideas about gender

Third Gender (this could be agender, genderqueer, fourth, fifth gender etc...): A person whose gender identity and presentation does not fit within concepts of man or woman
Saturday, January 23, 2010, 9:42:03 AM
Cisgendered: A term used to describe those whose gender identity matches that of the sex they were assigned at birth. Perhaps we need to differentiate between sex and gender here, because there doesn't necessarily need to be a "match" between sex and gender. For instance, Julia Serano understands the terms "transsexual" and "cissexual" to refer more to people who identify and live as a sex that is different from the one they are assigned at birth:
“Trans” means “across” or “on the opposite side of,” whereas “cis” means “on the same side of.” So if someone who was assigned one sex at birth, but comes to identify and live as a member of the other sex, is called a “transsexual” (because they have crossed from one sex to the other), then the someone who lives and identifies as the sex they were assigned at birth is called a “cissexual.”
One thing that we might reconsider, also, is defining primary sex characteristics and genitals in terms of reproductive function or the reproductive system. I think it might be better to emphasize that these organs function also for pleasure and relaxation, for bonding with a partner, for excretion etc... The argument that penises and vaginas' main function is reproductive is usually used by conservatives to claim privileges and superiority for heterosexuality and the two-parent heterosexual family. On the other hand, recognizing the multiple functions of these body parts might be essential to free us from the idea that the most legitimate sex is the kind that occurs for reproductive purposes. Actually, I would wager that most of the sex in the world does not occur with that goal in mind. 
In any case, really interesting post, looking forward to Gender 201 and to more discussion on these definitions!

Julian Real
I just want to add to the list:

Asexual: someone who doesn't desire or wish to participate in compulsory sexual cultures. Sometimes this term is used to describe people who have no identifiable "libido" or "sex drive" or sexual attraction and interest as that is generally understood to occur in the human population.

Intergender: an identity or experience of not feeling like either of the two enforced Western/non-Indigenous genders, and/or someone who feels like both of them.

And to add to this one:

Intersex: Intersex people are those whose bodies or physiologies don't match what dominant society says "a male person" or "a female person" are supposed to biologically be or physiologically look like. There are various conditions identified by the dominant medical establishment as "intersex conditions" of birth, some of which may become more noticeable during puberty.

Gender: in contemporary Western and non-Indigenist cultures, it is enforced as a binary, oppositional, hierarchical system of power relations, in which men oppress, dominate, and subordinate females, girls, women, and boys and men presumed to be gay or perceived to be "too feminine".

*          *          * 

For more information, see these webpages:

From that site is this information:

Asexuals, while typically lacking in sexual desire for either sex, may engage in purely emotional romantic relationships. Terms concerning this:
  • aromantic: lack of romantic attraction towards anyone of any gender
  • biromantic: romantic attraction towards person(s) of either gender
  • heteroromantic: romantic attraction towards person(s) of the opposite gender
  • homoromantic: romantic attraction towards person(s) of the same gender
  • panromantic: romantic attraction towards person(s) of any gender or lack of gender
  • transromantic: romantic attraction towards person(s) of variant or ambiguous gender
  • polyromantic: romantic attraction towards person(s) of more than one gender or sex but without implying, as biromantic does, that there are only two genders or sexes
Also, we ought to note that some people who are what has traditionally in the West been termed "bisexual" may identify instead as one of several other terms: pansexual, omnisexual, or ambisexual (think "ambidextrous":  someone who can write or do other activities with either hand).

Also completely left out of the Gender 101 discussion are Two-Spirit people. Two-Spirit, is a term used to describe various people in many different Indigenous ethnic groups. It is not exactly synonymous with being either "intersex", "bisexual", or "third gender", but may refer to each of those in some cases. As is the case with many non-anglo-origin terms, Two-Spirit doesn't translate neatly into Western-Anglo conceptions of gender and sex. Two-Spirit may refer to someone with a Third Gender, or it may refer to someone who is understood to possess what are traditionally seen as masculine and feminine traits of behaviors. How it is understood, and other terms for similar states of being, are varied among the many hundreds of Indigenous cultures, and we ought not assume one term, such as Two-Spirit, is adequate to mean all of those ways of being across cultures. In the non-Indigenous West, the term is sometimes, if rarely, included in the list of other queer terms, such as by stating that queer people includes those who are "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Two-Spirit."

Also left out in the Gender 101 list is this term:

Cissexual: [from Wikipedia] Cissexual is an adjective used in the context of gender issues to describe "people who are not transsexual and who have only ever experienced their mental and physical sexes as being aligned". Julia Serano uses the term in her book "Whipping Girl" but does not claim to have coined it. Helen Boyd, author of "My Husband Betty" and "She's Not the Man I Married", has argued on her blog that "cissexual" is a less loaded term than "cisgender" and make fewer assumptions about the person's relationship to gender roles and the transgender community. Should not be confused with sissy.

Sheila Jeffreys and Cordelia Fine Call Out [White Het] Male Supremacist End-of-Year Corporate Procurement Parties That Promote and Provide Sexist-Misogynist Exploitation to WHM Employees

image of Jeffreys' book cover is from here

Larry Flynt and Co. are up to their old tricks, promoting old tricks picking up women who work in sexxxism industries. Skinflynt Larry is a pimp, plain and simple. He's a come-from-rags white racist dickhead who found a niche in the early corporate pornography industry, making his living off poorer women's backs, and fronts. He's a scumbag of the highest lowest order. That Milos Forman and Woody Harrelson portrayed him as a Free Speech Hero is as much as joke as it is an insult to the women heros and sheros who fight trafficking and are, therefore, fighting for human's to have free speech and freer lives--lives free from procurement, pimping, trafficking, and sexual slavery.

Sheila Jeffreys has been exposing the politics of pimping for a long time. In one of her more recent books, The Industrial Vagina, she connects the dots of men's determination to have 24/7 access to incested and raped girls and women. That liberals across sexuality refuse to engage with her work, because she is [fill in the blank] means that we all collectively lose in our abilities to more fully understand the Western History of Men's Abuses of Women Through Sex. I recommend reading all of Jeffreys' books, especially a feminist classic: The Idea of Prostitution; a must-read on the patriarchal politics of sex-liberalism: Anticlimax: A Feminist Perspective on the Sexual Revolution; the best book yet on what's liberal and fucked up, misogynistic, and anti-lesbian about male supremacist queer culture: Unpacking Queer Politics, as well as The Industrial Vagina. See also, The Spinster and Her Enemies; The Lesbian Heresy; and Beauty and Misogyny.

In what follows, there is this, about which I want to offer a critique:
British women's rights group the Fawcett Society released a report on the sex industry's infiltration of the workplace. It found the use of lap-dancing clubs and pornography was ''a major new threat to women's equality at work''.
I find it critically important to never forget and to always work with the women who are in the industries, forced or coerced to suck off and fuck men. Because, in the view of this blog, it is threatening to women's equality--at work including work in racist sexxxism industries, at home, on the street, in urban, suburban, and rural areas, across race, age, class, and region, than enforcing social practices wherein men get to stick their dicks in women and girls as a male supremacist "right", a patriarchal "entitlement", and as a way to demean and subordinate women sexually and otherwise, to men who want women to be, as Jennifer Drew in the UK names it, "sexual service stations". As stated above, it appears that there is a concern only for equality for non-sexxxism industry women workers. Equality for women isn't possible economically in a system that is capitalist, racist, and misogynistic. That's the root truth of the matter. Anti-Indigenist societies, genocidal and gynocidal societies, cannot and will not achieve "equality" for women. To pretend that we can accomplish this with CRAP uncomposted is to be in denial about how CRAP works to subordinate, rape, and murder women as a class of human beings raised as girls and expected to both take care of men and endlessly absorb and endure men's misogynist behaviors and institutions.

What follows is a cross-post from The

Naked truth of a new glass ceiling

Suzy Freeman-Greene
December 6, 2010
ILlustration: Andrew Dyson Illustration: Andrew Dyson

Women are excluded if corporate entertainment is focused on lap dancing clubs, where their presence might spoil the fun.

It's the festive season and on their websites, strip clubs are spruiking for business. Xplicit Gentlemen's Club caters for corporate functions and ''Christmas break-ups''. The Men's Gallery advertises corporate poker events (with optional topless dealer), alongside a picture of a naked woman covered in betting chips.

Showgirls Bar20 has a function room called ''the boardroom,'' and another called ''the schoolroom'', where ''lots of naughty girls in uniform'' are waiting to be taught ''a thing or two''. Hustler Gentlemen's Club offers a ''saucy Santa'', unforgettable corporate events and ''sexy caddies'' for corporate golf days.
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''It's not hard to see that - whatever your moral take on strip joints and lap-dancing clubs - using them as corporate entertainment serves to exclude women,'' observes Melbourne psychologist Cordelia Fine in her book Delusions of Gender.

Unsurprisingly, she writes, researchers have found that male employees are reluctant to bring female colleagues along to strip clubs. They might spoil their fun ''by reminding them that women are more than simply bodies to be looked at''.

Yet if women avoid these outings, they're missing a networking opportunity. It's a bind that Sheila Jeffreys, a professor of politics at Melbourne University, calls ''the new glass ceiling''. The Hustler Club even advertises an ''end-of-financial-year'' boat cruise and lunch. But entertaining clients or co-workers at these clubs, says Jeffreys, creates a masculine, misogynist business culture.

The use of ''gentlemen's clubs'' for corporate entertaining is part of a broader normalisation of lap-dancing and strip venues, which market themselves as ''nightclubs'' or ''entertainment''. But if they're part of the sex industry, should they be taken more seriously?

This week, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia is releasing a report on Victorian strip clubs. It says these clubs are proliferating and by describing themselves as ''entertainment'', are not subject to the same restrictions as brothels.

But the coalition argues strip clubs and prostitution are interconnected.

''The activities that take place in the clubs . . . often involve a good deal of physical interaction between male buyers and the women who strip.

''Strip clubs often provide links to other 'sex industry services' and in some clubs, the full range of prostitution services is available, even though they are technically illegal,'' its report says.

There is not much local detail in the report to back up the latter assertion, though clubs overseas (including an English Spearmint Rhino) have been sprung offering prostitutes to police. Professor Jeffreys, a coalition member, says part of the problem is that little research has been done on Melbourne strip clubs.

But she points out that under Victorian law, sexual services defined as ''prostitution'' include masturbating another person, watching someone insert an object into her vagina, and watching two people engage in an act of sexual penetration.

She argues that private lap dances that bring a man to orgasm fall under this definition. Then there are the deals offering ''two girls who go all the way'' or a raunchy fruit and vegetable act or 10 guys the chance ''to party'' with two girls in a stretch Hummer. Indeed, in 2008, then Consumer Affairs Minister Tony Robinson observed that tabletop dancing clubs provide, ''perhaps not the full suite of sexually explicit services but a fair component of them''.

King Street's first strip club opened in 1992. Since then, the industry has burgeoned in Victoria ''with 20 licensed venues and many other stripping related businesses''. Strip culture has become more mainstream and many venues also offer male strippers for hens' nights.

The coalition is calling for strip clubs to be regulated in the same way as brothels. ''This means that they would be licensed, subject to planning restrictions, unable to obtain liquor licenses and (their) owners would need criminal record checks.''

It says lap dances place women at risk of sexual assault (strippers in one American study described being bitten, groped and spat on). And it notes that Victoria Police argued earlier this year that Showgirls Bar 20 did not deserve to serve alcohol as it had failed to stop violence in and around the club.

I find the coalition's report problematic as it seems to regard stripping, in general, as a form of prostitution - an equation I, and many others, would reject. But I think it's time we had a debate about the normalisation of gentlemen's clubs and I bristle when I hear them called ''nightclubs''. At a nightclub, men and women are on an equal footing.

Last year, British women's rights group the Fawcett Society released a report on the sex industry's infiltration of the workplace. It found the use of lap-dancing clubs and pornography was ''a major new threat to women's equality at work''.

The British experience is different to our own. But as we agonise about the lack of women in senior management, what message is sent to female police or accountants or salespeople if their workmates head off to socialise at a gentlemen's club?

Suzy Freeman-Greene is an Age staff writer.

DikiLeaks: What The Poor Poor Rich Men Don't Want You To Know About Their Wealth and Privilege

If you can't figure out why the rich-ass Republicans are fighting gold tooth and manicured nail to prevent themselves from having to pay more in taxes, just consult the following two charts and Rachel Maddow's video clip, especially the last minute of it.

pie chart showing which people hoard the earnings is from here
chart showing how much the rich want to keep annually in their greedy little pockets (read: Swiss Bank Accounts) is from here
And here's Rachel, to make this all much clearer. You can skip the first half or so. Just view the part about the Bush tax cuts and why they were set to expire, and everything that comes after that, including the comments of some poor, poor rich white guy who wants to keep money that is better spent paying down the debt and closing the deficit.

What the most privileged poor, poor rich men don't want you to know is that they are not competent to do much--certainly not the things they claim to be experts at doing.

They can't run financial institutions--except into the ground.

No matter how much Viagra and Cialis they take, they remain effectively impotent at doing anything systemically and systematically good for humanity and the Earth.

They can't win wars. They wage them until people demand they end, then they end, being responsive to "the people" and pretend like they would have won if only "the people" hadn't complained so much about the cost--financial and in human life and environmental disaster. They say they are brilliant at math, yet can't figure out how to add up the cost of war and subtract the price of loss of human and environmental life and conclude that there's a net loss, always.

They don't want to fix the deficit problem. Being in debt is "The American Way". If they wanted to end the debt and close the deficit, they'd all voluntarily give the government their millions stashed away in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands that doesn't go into creating jobs anywhere at all. They'd give up a few of their homes and give that cash to the government too, and would stop complaining that doing things like this is dangerous to "democracy" and "freedom". The only freedom it endangers is the super rich's freedom to be completely unaccountable for the corrupt tax codes and corporate welfare system they've created in order to play golf and ride on yachts and decide in what home Christmas will be celebrated this year.

They don't want to admit that they know much of what they support is a huge waste of money, such as pouring millions into the hands of people known to be corrupt. (Am I referring to Afghan leaders and military personnel or U.S. corporate heads who should have been fired but instead get million dollar bonuses?)

They don't know the meaning of the word "sustainable". "Sustainable" doesn't mean "the electric car", for example. Or carpooling. Or finding an alternative way to get to work once a week. Or recycling.

They see but don't care how capitalism doesn't work for the poor, and they see and care that it does work for the very rich but only in ways that are utterly corrupt. The super rich know exactly how corrupt they are--exactly how exploitive, exactly how oppressive and callous and inhumane, but don't care, because they're comfortable and callous and inhumane.

They don't care that genocide is happening now, today, in North America--including in the U.S., as well as around the globe and that globalisation is part of the cause. 

They don't seem to appreciate that the greatest threat to heterosexual marriage isn't lesbians and gay men being able to marry, but it is het men's marital infidelity, use of women in prostitution, fathers' molestation and rape of their own children, men beating the shit out of the women they say they love so very, very much, and heterosexism generally.

They don't challenge the Pope when he says he'll allow men to use condoms if the men are prostitutes, but not if the men are priests who are fucking children. (The logical phallusy seems to be that there is no call for condom use when children are raped by priests because pre-pubescent children can't get pregnant.)

They don't get that men can and must stop raping women. They think what men do is inevitable, like some giant ball on a giant hill that, once sent down, can't stop, ever.

They don't get that sexual trafficking is an atrocity that must be stopped by all means necessary--especially by criminalising all pimping and procuring--including on the corporate level, and that to not make that a priority, along with ending rape, poverty, and genocide, is a sign of their gross incompetence and negligence and inhumanity.

They don't get that killing the messengers of the CRAP they do but want to keep classified isn't a solution to their own corruption; it's a way to keep being corrupt. And we still hear the screams of suffering they cause the world. Even if they sleep well every night.

As they slumber, may all of them who are Christian find Jesus yelling at them for being hypocrites and tyrants, in the course of their otherwise pleasant dreams.