The Challenge

fannie-lou-hamer-activist-nobodys-free-until-everybodysOkay, my LGBTQ and sex positive friends and allies:

This is your call to action.  Maybe you’ve been burning with anger, or immobilized by fear. Maybe you just don’t want to think about political stuff at all — jeez, I know I don’t.  I’m not a policy wonk, and while business-as-usual hasn’t worked out that well for me as a disabled person, I’ve survived.

But the battleground is set, and it’s on the edge of a volcano. We hear the ground rumbling underneath us.  It’s more heated right now than I can remember anytime in my life — and I’m in my fifth decade. The fight for human rights feels more urgent to me now than anything since Stonewall, since the fight against AIDS in the 1980s & 1990s, since the assassinations of George Moscone and Harvey Milk, since the rallying cry around the death of Matthew Shepard or any of the myriads who’ve died for the crime of being different.

In the last five years we’ve seen the LGBTQ  community gain some amazing strides: the legalization of marriage nation-wide, the Obama administration interpretation of anti-discrimination law, some strong moves forward and statements by cities, states and school districts in support of their LBGTQ population.

We have met these changes with triumph and with regret that they are still so little and long overdue.  To us, it is obvious that all human beings must have the equal rights to access to love, security, housing, education, and jobs.

For the most vocal of the Trump supporters, no.  The election results were not a surprise to me, nor to many of my friends who’ve lived in rural America.  Anyone who is poor could probably see this coming. We know what shadows lie in the system of business-as-usual, and what has to be sacrificed to keep our awareness down, to keep from being ground under its wheels.

Throughout this election year and especially after the election results, it has become more obvious to us that people are tribal. We’ve noticed that many people’s definition of tribe can’t encompass an entire country, and maybe ours can’t either. But those of us who have been in this fight, whether for years or decades, need to redouble our efforts to put the good for the whole country over the good for just the people we like.

And how do we do that?

We need to challenge the idea that any life can be disposable. We need to broaden our perspective.  We have to struggle even harder for our own rights while simultaneously insuring that the rights of other people aren’t sacrificed for our security and peace of mind. Not in this country, and not on this planet.

We need to stay informed. And we need to get our information from good sources. Read many sources not just a few.  Cruise the news. Try checking out The Guardian or another foreign paper to get news on US politics.  Don’t rely on the same sources every day. And definitely get on the mailing lists for your own representatives to stay apprised of what they are working to do.

We need to stop vilifying people.  We can despise actions without despising the humanity of the people who perpetuate them.  We aim for understanding of those who are our worst critics. Tha

We need to commit to what we can actually do.  It’s easy to get swept up in post-election fervor and it’s not hard for most people to participate in a nonviolent protest. But if I’m agoraphobic, that’s not going to be my style of activism.

What small thing can I actually do to change the world today?  Would my efforts be more useful at a local level or state level? Am I more of an online activist or a call-your-senator type?  Maybe I’m a person wh0 believes that meditation or prayer has a place in activism.  Or maybe my Vietnamese next door neighbor needs me to go with her to Social Security to make sure that communication lines stay clear because she doesn’t speak English well.

I remember why I left the peace movement in the late 1980’s — I reached a wall. I felt I’d done what I could and I didn’t have any more to give. I was angry all the time, and some part of me felt that I couldn’t be marching for peace until I had more peace with who I was. Sometimes you need to change the world and sometimes you need to let the world change you.

The Challenge

I completely understand the desire to hide away somewhere peaceful or to Netflix out for awhile — and there’s a place for that. But don’t let that be where you stay.  Make a small amount of time for political action — an hour a week, or a phone call a day. Pick an organization working for change and meet with them in your city.  Because we really can’t afford to numb out all the time. We have a clear example of where inaction leads us. Now let’s see what we can really do.

 

(Value added: LGBT rights by country or territory)

 

#MyPebbles

Join me.

I pledge to take one political or social action every day between now and January 20th to make this the kind of world I want to live in. Yesterday, I participated in a protest. Today, I bought a Real Change and started thinkihg about the things I want to work on. I want to work on a city and state level to make Seattle and Washington state refugee-friendly, immigrant-safe, with community policing and good social services. To this end, I’d like to work on getting an income tax instituted in Washington state and repealing all sales taxes except for tourism and luxury items.

I’ve thought a lot about the kind of actions I’d like to take, but I need your help. Please comment with your ideas.

So far I’ve thought of:

Letter-writing. Showing up for protests. Writing blog posts. Sending post cards. Participating in those global meditations for peace on New Year’s Eve. Campaigning in the City of Seattle to get the council to adopt a policy of protecting immigrants. Feeding a hungry person. Fighting for racial equality. Writing a check to the ACLU. Attending local political party meeting, more blog posting. What other things could I do?

Feel free to join me. Pebbles can create an avalanche. #MyPebbles

Seattle Bans Conversion Therapy

The Seattle City Council voted to ban conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth on August 1st. The vote was unanimous.

Seattle is the third city to ban conversion therapy (or “reparative” therapy), joining Washington DC and Cincinnati.

Conversion therapy is an attempt to change LGBTQ youth and make them straight. It has been condemned by “every major medical and mental health organization in the United States” based on a body of evidence that the “therapy” can be affirmatively harmful to LGBTQ youth, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Author Garrard Conley , who has undergone the therapy, calls it a “death sentence”.

Seattle City Councilwoman Debora Juarez likens it to the forced assimilation of Native Americans into mainstream Eurocentric culture.

Conversion therapy is the 20th century or 21st century version of what happened to my people all in the name in assimilation. We were forcibly taken from our families, from our children. I am literally one generation removed from that practice. –Debora Juarez, member of the Blackfoot nation.

Conversion therapy (along with the rights of transgender people to use the bathroom of their chosen gender) is addressed by the Republican Platform, which states that “reparative” therapy should be available and that it should be left up to the parents of LGBTQ youth whether or not to subject them to it.

Sources:

 

SEX & Memory

Here’s more good news about the health benefits of sex and even more reason to be sex positive:  sex in your old age may improve your memory!

According to a Coventry University study of 6,800 men and women ages 50-89, those who were sexually active performed better on memory tests than those who were not.  Subjects were given two tests. One was a memory test in which people were asked to remember a list of 10 common words immediately after hearing them, and then again following a brief delay. Another was a test for executive function in which subjects had to identify the missing number from a numerical sequence.

Women who reported having had sex in the last year performed better on memory tests than their abstaining counterparts; whereas, men performed better on both tests.

Click here for the original study.

Originally published on The Center for Sex Positive Culture: thecspc.org

 

News Round-up, May 27

In transgender news

On Wednesday, 11 states filed suit against the Obama Administration over its guidelines ordering schools to allow access to the bathrooms of their chosen gender for transgender students. (New York Times Mag). Plaintiffs in the suit are: Alabama, two school districts in Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine Gov. Paul LePage, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, a school district in Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin. (CNN)

Also on Wednesday, Alisha, a 23-year-old transgender activist in Pakistan, died on the operating table after being shot 7 times and then taunted by men outside the Emergency Room at the hospital. (LA Times)

In sex positive news

Vice.com has a nice article about Pornceptual:

…Pornceptual is not a regular sex party where the primary goal is getting off with hot strangers—although that still might happen. The project has a socio-political mission that many parties of this sort lack: challenging the mainstream porn industry’s misogyny, [exploitative] treatment of its workers, and fetishistic views on race and sexuality by creating an alternative model based on inclusivity and queerness.

On Thursday Babeland employees became the first unionized sex shop employees in the US. (Autostraddle)

In the news about sex worker rights

Amnesty International published its policy on protecting sex workers from human rights violations. (Amnesty International)

The policy calls on governments to take several critical steps to protect the human rights of sex workers, including: decriminalize consensual sex work, ensure that sex workers are protected from harm, exploitation and coercion; include sex workers in the development of laws that affect their lives and safety; and end discrimination and provide access to education and employment options for all.

Feel free to send news items of interest to: mysticsavage@gmail.com

 

What’s so wrong with a little sex work?

We shouldn’t forget that legalizing something means you’ll get more of it.
NYPOST.COM

This opinion piece poses an interesting response to the people arguing for legalizing sex work– of which, I am one.

I would argue that there is a difference between choosing sex work from a place of shame and desperation and choosing sex work from a place of knowing that it’s a good match for one’s interests and skill set.

Prostitution does not inherently commodify women’s or men’s bodies more than professional athletics, or acting, or hell, professional mime. It commodifies their compassion and hearts and conversation skills no more than therapy or teaching. It is no more soul-destroying than being a lawyer — far less in some cases.

I’ve meet a number of sex workers — and have two dear friends in sex work.  They are not victims or survivors (of anything more hostile than the occasional bad police work). They don’t lack self esteem — they’re empowered feminists who are proud of what they do.

One of them has a client who is a paraplegic who doesn’t leave the house.  Another has clients who are shy or don’t have the social skills to approach people for sex, but still have sexual desires.  Some clients are in town for business, or are just too busy to bother with all the complications that come with having a girlfriend or boyfriend.

I’ve known people who are clients too.  There are those who visit sex workers to learn new skills, to have a physical-only relationship with a person after their spouse or partner has become ill.  Some people are clear that they want sex, not a relationship.

What is wrong with that?

 

The author of the New York Post article also uses a slippery slope approach to argue that once sex work is made legal, everyone will want to do it.  There’ll be human sacrifice, cats and dogs living together…mass hysteria! (Thank you, Peter Venkman in my head.) The fear is that economically desperate and unemployed women will receive pressure to go into sex work…like they don’t already?

What is this romantic idea about empowerment through legal work, but not illegal work? Go to the nearest Target or McDonald’s and ask the workers there if they chose the job out of need and desperation or a recognition that it matches their skill set. Then ask them how empowering their work is, and if at the end of the day they feel fulfilled or maybe just a little degraded.

The author of the article then mentions all the organizations that are against Amnesty International’s position to decriminalize all aspects of professional, voluntary adult sex work, mentioning all the organizations that are against Amnesty International’s decision. In their own position paper, “Sex Workers’ Rights are Human Rights,” Amnesty International does describe this controversy and admits to being attacked from all sides when they first announced they’d be developing a group to protect the rights of sex workers.  It’s true.  This is a hugely controversial issue.  But you know who agrees with them?  Other reputable human rights organizations.  From that paper:

We would like to claim to be the first to address this issue.  But we are not. Other groups which support or are calling for the decriminalization of sex work include the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, International Labour Organization, the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women, the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, Human Rights Watch, the Open Society Foundations and Anti-Slavery International.

It’s true that sex work is dangerous. You know why? Because it’s illegal. Until it is legal sex workers will not come forward when they’ve been harmed outside of their negotiated contract for fear of retaliation. Until it is legal, the industry won’t be regulated for safety.

Until it is legal, law enforcement will still conflate powerful, self-respecting, often feminist sex workers with human trafficking victims. Charitable groups will waste their time trying save people who don’t want or need to be saved when they could instead be devoting their efforts to real human trafficking, slavery, and the institutionalized injustices which make real crime invisible.