Friday the Thirteenth

A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them.  –  P.J. O’Rourke

Today is the third Friday the Thirteenth since I’ve been writing The Honest Courtesan, and there will be three such days this year (today, April 13th and July 13th); as it so happens, three is the maximum number of such days in any given year, though each year has at least one.  In my very first column on the subject (Friday, August 13th, 2010) I explained how the superstition arose and why even superstitious whores should consider it lucky for us rather than unlucky:

Given the origin of beliefs about Friday the 13th…even the superstitious whore has nothing to worry about…since Friday is the day sacred to our patron goddess, and 13 the most feminine of numbers, Friday the 13th should be good luck for whores even if it really were bad luck for Christian men.  Now, I’m not really superstitious; I don’t believe that a day can bring either good luck or bad.  But considering that the reasons for fear of this day are so closely related to the reasons our profession is maligned and suppressed, perhaps whores and those who support our rights should make every Friday the Thirteenth a day to speak out in favor of full decriminalization and an end to the institutionalized persecution of prostitutes.

Nine months later (on Friday, May 13th, 2011) I explained why it’s especially important for my readers who aren’t sex workers to speak out:

A number of advocates are working to respond to the lies, propaganda and misinformation wherever we find them, but…we’re often accused of distorting facts to make ourselves look good, and no matter how assiduously we work to present a balanced view this is a natural and credible accusation against anyone who advocates for some issue which directly concerns her.  That’s why allies are so important; it’s much harder for the prohibitionists to shout down people who don’t have a dog in the fight, but merely support prostitutes’ rights on moral grounds.  Every Friday the Thirteenth I will ask my readers, especially those of you who aren’t yourselves sex workers, to speak up for us in some way; talk about the issue with someone who will listen, make a post on a discussion board, comment on a news story which spreads disinformation, or even just post a link to this column.  If you aren’t confident in your ability to debate, even a simple phrase like “I think adult women should have the right to decide why and with whom they want to have sex” or “everyone has the right to equal protection under the law” might have a tiny but important impact on those who overhear.  Because in the final analysis, they’re the ones we have to convince; rational people already support some type of prostitution-law reform and fanatics cannot be convinced by argument because their minds are already made up, but the silent majority – the fence-sitters and swing-voters, the ones who answer “unsure” or “no comment” on polls – are the ones who can and must be made to understand that we are not intrinsically different from other women and deserve the same freedoms and protections that non-harlots take for granted.

Last time around I also offered a synopsis of prohibitionist victories since the last such day, but since I already offered a similar list just two weeks ago I think that would be inexcusably repetitious.  And though there are several other days dedicated to fighting for sex worker rights (namely International Sex Workers’ Rights Day on March 3rd,  International Whores’ Day on June 2nd and International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers on December 17th), human rights are not something to be discussed only once a year; even six occasions to speak out on the subject are not enough.  For me and many others, every day is Friday the Thirteenth, and so it must remain until people wake up and understand that no collective, “authority” or government has the right to tell women what we can and cannot do with our own bodies.

(Cross-posted from The Honest Courtesan)

CALL TO ACTION: UGANDA: Government should break the chains of injustices against sexual minorities and lift decision to ban Sex Workers Human Rights workshop.

20 November 2010

On the 17th of November 2010 the State Minister for Ethics and Integrity Hon Nsaba Buturo called off a conference organized by Akina Mama wa Afrika a Pan African Women’s Non Governmental Organisation based in Kampala, Uganda. He did so by sending a strong worded letter to the Hotel General Manager giving “directives not to host a Prostitutes Conference run by Akina Mama wa Afrika and if they do so, will be abetting illegality in Uganda”. It should be noted that Akina Mama sent a letter to the Minister informing him about the details of the conference. He never responded to it, but instead, sent a threatening letter to the hotel management with the objective to suspend the meeting.

The Minister’s actions are in open contradiction to the constitution of Uganda which guarantees the Freedom of Assembly, Speech and non discrimination said Kasha Jacqueline Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda. Commercial sex workers constitute a minority group that has the right to assemble, share ideas and forge ways on how to protect themselves against violence, abuse and HIV/AIDS as well as empower themselves, as any other Ugandan citizen.

Stopping this conference repeats a known pattern, as in 2008 the same Minister also cancelled a scheduled conference organized by the same group and host organization. While many other groups can meet freely in Uganda without being stopped or harassed, commercial sex workers, who experience high levels of vulnerability, inequality and discrimination can not exercise their right to freedom of assembly and speech” “ This is an injustice, a violation of their political and civil rights as well as of the right to work of these young women” lamented FARUG Communications Manager.

The Ugandan Ministry of Health, as it is well known, has acknowledged that Commercial Sex Workers are among Most At Risk Populations (MARPs) and has included them as main partners of the National HIV/AIDS program, which is guided among others by the UNGASS guidelines. Therefore the actions preformed by Mr Buturo are at odds with the national policy guidelines and will evidently undermine the investments made by the Ministry of Health to prevent and treat groups and persons affected by HIV/AIDS.

It should also be noted that, since 2003, Uganda has received eight grants from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. As its known worldwide the Global Funds guidelines are also very clear to state that the various populations affected by HIV/AIDS should be part of the efforts to prevent and treat the pandemic and, not as it is happening in Uganda, be systematically brutalized by criminalization. As it has been analyzed by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Mr. Anand Grover in his report to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2010:

“Criminalization represents a barrier to participation and collective action, through the suppression of activities of civil society and individual advocates. The participation of sex workers in interventions has been shown to have significant benefits. Organizations representing sex workers took an early lead in attempting to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS, through the promotion of condom use, the development of AIDS education programs and inclusive research studies”

Stopping the conference being organized by Akina Mama was Afrika openly contradicts these recommendations and guidelines to fight against HIV/AIDS in Uganda.

We call on the Minister and Government of Uganda to apologies for the trouble his intervention has caused and reverse his absurd decision.

For more details contact:

Solome Nakaweesi on Email: snkimbugwe@gmail.com or call +256772463154
Kasha Jacqueline on Email: kasha@faruganda.org or call +256772463161

To support our call, send letters to:

Min of Ethics and Integrity. Hon Nsaba butruo
Email: info@dei.go.ug
Min of Internal Affairs.Hon Kirunda Kivejinja
Email: info@mia.go.ug or Tel +256 41 231 059
Min of Gender & Equal opportunity Commission. Hon Opio Gabriel
Email: ps@mglsd.go.ug or Tel +256-41-347854 Phone 2: +256-41-347855
Min of Health. Hon Stephen Malinga
Email: info@health.go.ug or Tel: +256 41340884
Uganda Human Rights Commission
Email:uhrc@uhcr.org or Tel +25641 34800718 or +256 41233757

You are not FREE until everyone is FREE
“BREAK THE CHAINS”

Sex Workers and Unpersons.

I haven’t written here in a while.  I spent the last few months in a wheelchair, and then healing from being in the wheelchair, and now being sick the past month and finally getting treated for pneumonia.  But I’m coming out of that now, and I’m moving forward.  These experiences has given me so much to be thankful for!

I’m thankful that I’ve had the privilege of making more friends that do disability activism, so that I can learn from their community, and their amazing strengths.  I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to really experience being in a wheelchair, however briefly, and how much I truly loved being an non-person, versus being less than a person. I’m thankful that I had the experience of being violated from their good intentions and grabbing my wheelchair and pushing me across the street without my permission or desire.

But really, I’m thankful for the huge amounts of self growth and new relationships I’ve been able to form.  And I’m so so so very glad I got to watch this video:

The video is all about being an unperson.  I was amazed at the similarities that Sex Workers share with Amanda Baggs’ experience of being an unperson.  Some of the quotes I really resonated with:

“Being an unperson means being at the mercy of the theories other people have about you”.

“An unperson can’t tell about beatings, rape, torture and murder, if  she does, she will not be believed”

“An unperson knows that the law will never come to his aid, not the way it does for real people”.

But, for all the similarities that we have, we have some very strong differences, one is that we can be selectively “unpersons”.  We have the choice of being in the closet about our Sex Work, and when in the closet, we don’t have to face being an unperson.  (Unless you get arrested by the police and they paste your picture all over town, or put you on TV like they have been known to do.)

I’m thankful for learning about my fellow brothers and sisters who are struggling for basic human rights.  Our struggles are different (and sometimes vastly different), but we have similarities and I hope that all of us can come together around the things we have in common, and respect each other’s differences.

Yay for Michelle Pfeiffer and Kathy Bates

On a brighter note, we may have two celebrity spokespeople!

Legalise prostitution: Michelle Pfeiffer

24 Jun 2009, 1558 hrs IST, ANI

Michelle Pfeiffer and Kathy Bates want the U.S. Government to legalise prostitution.

The two stars, who play historical hookers in Stephen Frears’ new period movie Cheri, are wondering why the ”world’s oldest profession” has been banned throughout most of their native America.

“There is an argument to be made for providing some protection for prostitutes. It would solve a lot of problems for them. They”re going to do it anyway,” Contactmusic quoted Pfeiffer as saying.

Her co-star Bates agrees: “For health reasons, it would be better for people to enjoy those pleasures.”

Original on Times of India

Whore Lover: Sex Workers Queering Love

Whore Lover sepia 2SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 18th, 2009 – 8PM. Stories of romance in spite of social stigma, as told from both sides of the bed. Turns out it’s not actually true that sex workers are incapable of feeling love; or too generous, greedy, humiliated or gold-hearted to pursue it. Likewise, the city hosts hordes of humans who love whores. In fact, many of those who have turned a trick or courted a courtesan are luminaries of queer arts and performance.

<p>Whore Lover is a multimedia showcase of the art of balancing between erotic work and play; and establishing long-term intimacy with those of us who charge by the hour. Tales of love, lust and lucre, straight (but not narrow!) from the talented mouths of porn stars, hookers, rent boys, strippers, Dominatrices, and the lovely folks who love them. Featuring art, films,  and performances by: Sadie Lune, Kirk Read, Mariko Passion, Ed Wolf, Lorelei Lee, Ginger Virago, Seeley Quest, and Madsen Minax. Curated by Sadie Lune, and presented by the National Queer Arts Festival with support from the Creating Queer Community program.

<p>

Whore Lover: Sex Workers Queering Love
The Garage Theater
975 Howard St. @ 6th
June 18, 2009 @ 8:00
Tickets: $12-$20
Buy Tickets on-line:
https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/66151

415-885-4006

For more information please visit: http://www.queerculturalcenter.org/Pages/QFest09/WhrLvr.html

Cool event in Chicago next Spring

Announcing a National Radical Queer Convergence

QueerAnarcha-Queers! Trannies! Fairies! Perverts! Sex-Workers! Sex-Radicals! Allies!

Bash Back! is ecstatic to announce a national radical queer convergence to take place in Chicago, May 28th through May 31st of 2009! We are pleased to invite all radical-queers for a a weekend of debauchery and mischief.

The last weekend of May will prove to be four solid days of workshops, discussions, performances, games, dancing and street action! We’ll handle the food and the housing. Ya’ll bring the orgy, riot, and decadence!

We’re looking for folks to facilitate discussions, put on workshops, organize caucuses, share games, tell stories, get heavy in some theory, or bottom-line a dance party. More specifically we’re looking for workshops themed around queer and trans liberation, anti-racism, confronting patriarchy, sex work, ableism, self defense, DIY mental and sexual health, radical history, pornography, or queer theory.

We are also looking for copious amounts of glitter, safer sex products, zines, home-made sex toys, balaclavas, pink and black flags, sequins, bondage gear, rad porn, flowers, strap-ons, and assorted dumpstered goodies.

You down?

To RSVP, volunteer for a workshop, get more information, or send us dirty pictures:

email – radicalqueer2009@gmail.com
and check out – BashBackNews.Wordpress.Com

Lubing-up the social war,
Bash Back!

http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=20081218164102573

Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy

The Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy homepage is a collection of links to blogs that will host future editions of this carnival, promoting the sexual rights and freedom of women.

The first edition is up at Uncool blog.

The next edition will be held at Labyrinth Walk on the 21st April 2008. The call for submissions outlining possible themes is here.

This theory of feminism is known more commonly as Sex Positive Feminism, a movement that developed in the 1980s in response to feminists against pornography and prostitution. Sex Positive Feminists (or sex-radical, pro-sex or sexually liberated feminists) believe that women’s sexual freedom is an essential part of women’s autonomy. Any legal or social control or regulation over the sexual self is an attempt to control and regulate women, undermines their freedom and infringes upon their human rights. We are interested in promoting sex workers’ rights, sex education in schools, and we encourage the free expression of sexualities.