Monday, July 28, 2014

The Ford-Fest Bigots

A lot of people have already talked about the eruption of homophobia at the "Ford-Fest" in Scarborough. I watched it a couple of days ago at Montreal Simon's and I just thought I'd discuss what I saw at that NOW Magazine video.

In the first segment, we hear someone shout "Fag!" But mostly it becomes an attempt by Ford's fans to drown out the organizers of "Queeruption" from speaking to the media by shouting "Rob Ford!" over and over, louder and louder. I also noticed the rainbow of diversity; the multicultural mosaic of both the "Queeruption" and Ford's fans. I noticed in that first segment, East Asians, South Asians, Blacks and Whites. (Is this a great country or what?)

Next we have the guy with the camera interrogating the protesters. "You're a Kathleen Wynne fan. I can see it in your eyes." It wouldn't matter if the protester was NDP, Green, a Marxist of some sort. They're all increasing degrees of crazy to a right-winger. And, more importantly, part of the vast left-wing conspiracy that's been afflicting Rob (the beautiful boy wonder) Ford since he started his career.

Then he starts in asking them "If somebody believes in traditional marriage between a man and a woman, are they automatically a bigot?"

Now here, we have an important point. The person he's interrogating told him "No" twice, but he either couldn't hear because of cognitive dissonance or because of his compatriots' yelling and he continued to ask, adding "Yes or no?"

But this is how these stunted minds work. Put it another way: "Is someone who thinks same-sex marriages shouldn't be allowed automatically a bigot?" The answer is "Yes." Just like someone who says that males and females shouldn't be allowed to get married. Do you see how this works? It's called "individual equality." Two adults who want to get married, should be allowed to get married. So, while some unreflective person who never thought about it before might say: "Yeah, I guess I think marriage should be between a man and a woman." we aren't talking about people living under rocks. Same-sex couples exist. Deal with it.

Mister Traditional Marriage finds out that somebody he's filming is from the media and then launches into some whine about the biases of the media. Sure the media is biased. But these Ford-fans are biased too. No. Make that deluded. They were the ones who said that the stories of Ford's crack use were all vicious slanders. If they ever paused to think about it (and managed to think successfully!) they'd realize that, actually, everything said about their hero turned out to be true and everything Ford said, lies, and everything they believed, false.

I was going to write about all the segments, but I'm done for today ...

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Liberal Fascism?

This is old, but still relevant. If anyone of the usual suspects gives you any trouble, just make 'em read this.

Shooting Down Airplanes and Mainstream Morality

"A Tale of Three Aircraft Tragedies" by Brian Cloughley really strikes at the heart of the hypocrisy of the US-Americans' response to the tragedy of the Malaysian airliner that was shot-down over the Ukraine. When you see all the furrowed brows and stern gazes and read all he words of outrage over the (very good) possibility that pro-Russian separatists fired the missile that killed all those people, contrast it with the way the USS Vincennes was met with celebration, it's captain decorated for meritorious conduct, after shooting down an Iranian airliner. The president at the time, George H. W. Bush, infamously said "I will never apologize for the United States of America. I don't care what the facts are."

This is just another example of why you should outright refuse to be outraged about things that the US government, its media (and their puppets among the Canadian political and media classes) tell you to be outraged about.

They have less than zero moral credibility.

Use your own brain and respond in your own way. Their criticisms of you will be meaningless.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Safety of Prostitutes

It was decided a long time ago not to criminalize prostitutes. For thousands of years (it is "the world's oldest profession" after all), prostitutes were treated like thieves, or at least like public nuisances. Gradually, our legal system discovered that many prostitutes were victims of circumstances (or of patriarchy, or of gangsters) and couldn't bring itself to punish them for their own bad luck,

But we still didn't want it as a society. We didn't want women on street corners propositioning men in front of families. We didn't want men driving cars slowly down streets where prostitutes were known to work and propositioning daughters and wives of decent folk. Hence the laws against communicating for the purposes of prostitution.

We didn't want houses of ill-repute, brothels, operating openly, with all the imagined shouting, fighting, fornicating, and accompanying criminal activity and overall bad influences on the community they were presumed to bring. Hence the laws against keeping a common bawdy house.

We wanted to go after the exploitative pimps who we all knew were keeping poor women trapped in prostitution and taking the bulk of their earnings for themselves to finance their repulsive lifestyles. Hence the laws against living off the avails of prostitution.

But the Supreme Court of Canada recently ruled against all those laws saying they denied the freedom and safety of the person Charter rights of prostitutes. For reasons you can look up if you're so inclined.

Proponents for the freedom of sex-workers to be sex workers were delighted, whereas social conservatives and feminists for the abolition of prostitution were appalled. The fraudulently-installed harper regime, under the leadership of our moronic, corrupt "Justice Minister" Peter MacKay returned with a law (which will surely be tossed-out upon a challenge), based partially on what is known as the "Nordic Model" of prostitution regulation; in that it targets the clients, the buyers of sex, rather than the prostitutes themselves, the sellers of sex. (It also criminalizes prostitutes though, outlawing communication for the purposes of prostitution, and providing criminal penalties for conducting the business anywhere near where a child might come into contact with it. This bit of overreach is what will doubtlessly have the law thrown out.)

When all is said and done, I think the reality of prostitution for most people who have ever been in the trade has been a bad thing. And therefore, I'm prepared to say that if the "Nordic Model" works, and it really reduces prostitution without producing all the dangers for those who remain in the trade (especially if it doesn't reduce their numbers by all that much, producing an absolute increase in human misery) then it should be tried.

As a result there is a heated debate between sex-workers and their advocates and abolitionists. The sex-workers accuse the abolitionists of making their lives more difficult and dangerous and the abolitionists accuse the sex-worker freedom advocates of being dupes to patriarchy and, furthermore, that they are putting their imagined "freedoms" before the actual sufferings of other women (especially minorities, especially - in Canada - indigenous women, who are disproportionately forced into the trade). As Sooey Says says, it is unfair to blame abolitionist feminists for the male violence that they claim will result from this continued criminalization.

I'd like to offer some of my own speculation. All of the things that sex-worker freedom advocates talk about: Operating from a safe space, having a phone number to screen calls, having a security system, ... don't apply to some poor woman, perhaps a drug-addict, working the street. But much more work is going to be necessary in our society be able to stop poor women from going out to the streets in desperation to  try to sell their bodies. Aboriginal rights activists and feminists,, especially those who had been former sex workers themselves, ... that's not going to have much impact on the desperately poor aboriginal women who are going to inevitably find themselves in the trade.

What is needed is genuine alternatives to prostitution. (Which is why I wonder about the persistence of prostitution in the Nordic countries with their advanced welfare states.)

What is needed is an assault on the mental prejudices, such as misogyny, that poison society in all sorts of areas, including the sex trade. But racism is another one. Less misogyny and racism will mean greater equality and social justice for racialized minority women in our society and less likelihood that if a man finds himself with a prostitute who is a racialized minority female, that he will feel ENTITLED to treat her like garbage.

My position is that there is nothing inherently wrong with prostitution per se., but there is a lot wrong with our society. There is so much wrong with our society, that if the Nordic Model works, then it should be implemented. But if the Nordic Model doesn't reduce prostitution by as much as its advocates claim and it makes things more dangerous for those who remain, then it should be abandoned.

There is nothing inherently wrong with coffee really. But it is often harvested by exploited peasants who are murdered if they organize against their exploitation. There is nothing inherently wrong with lap-tops, but they contain the mineral coltran, which is often mined by child slaves, and they are often manufactured in Chinese sweat-shops by workers whose working conditions sometimes drive them to suicide. We continue to  drink coffee and work on our lap-tops while issuing blanket condemnations of prostitution and calling for its utter abolition. And, no, I'm not trying to back-handedly condemn abolitionists of glaring hypocrisy. I'm saying only what my words say: That I believe there is nothing inherently wrong with prostitution but I recognize that the conditions for most prostitutes are appalling. It is the factors (anti-sex psychoses/misogyny/racism/economic injustice) that make it horrible that should be attacked. But that's true with or without the Nordic Model.

Here ends my series on prostitution.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Arguments For and Against Prostitution

Now, I've said that I wouldn't partake of the services of prostitutes. At the moment I can't see myself doing that. It's entirely possible that I might one day be a 65-year old lecher calling up some escort service for a 20-year old vixen, but I don't see it.

That having been said, I don't see prostitution as inherently evil and degrading. Certainly as it manifests itself, I think that in practice it is often evil and degrading. This is due to our love-hate relationship with sex and to the general level of misogyny in our society.

From what some sex-workers have to say though, it isn't always the case. In interviews with sex columnists, I've read that individual prostitutes have reported that anywhere from two-thirds to three-quarters of their clients express sincere gratitude for their services. The actual number of abusive clients being quite small in comparison.

If it's possible to separate sex from love (and it most certainly is), prostitution can serve as a useful way for inexperienced people to become comfortable with the act, instead of fumbling and embarrassing themselves with a hopeful romantic partner.

It's possible that individuals might have difficulty finding a romantic partner for extended periods of time. Rather than suffer in undesired sexlessness, or entering into a doomed relationship with an incompatible partner, people could relieve the tension by paying for a prostitute.

It seems to be the case that neither men nor women are hard-wired for lifetime monogamy. Unfortunately for us, we arrange our lives in the hopes of having lifetime partners, especially when we have children together.  Rather than have "affairs" and all the messiness that entails, men and women could obtain sexual variety from prostitutes.

Finally (for now) people interested in exploring sexual "kinks" could investigate these desires with specialist prostitutes who can moderate the level of intensity as these newcomers require.

What could go wrong?

Virgins can find their initial sexual experiences to be cold and mechanical. (As opposed to fumbling and embarrassing.)

Difficult people can swear-off ever trying to be emotionally mature enough for a romantic relationship and instead be self-centered assholes to prostitutes.

Married partners can blow the kids' college fund on prostitutes.

Prostitutes can be unwillingly forced to perform unnatural acts for perverted, sadistic employers and clients.

At the back of it all is coercion. Let's not kid ourselves.  If "red-light districts" or brothels and rub-and-tugs didn't exist, there wouldn't be so many human traffickers tricking or coercing so many women (especially from poor countries) into sexual slavery. (Gorgeous women from Eastern Europe don't have an innate desire to fuck all sorts of Western men for money which the end of the Cold War has now made it possible for them to do. Those hot Asian babes in the classified ads don't all consider themselves to be "living the dream.")

On the other hand, there definitely are women for whom (who?) prostitution is freely chosen. NOT because it's the dream job they saw themselves doing ever since they were little girls, but because it's the steadiest work they can find and it pays the best wages they see themselves as being able to command. I don't think this is the same thing as economic and sexual exploitation. Please follow: Sex is not inherently degrading. Prostitution is not inherently degrading. Prostitution is an occupation. The vast majority of their clients are either noticeably grateful and/or repeat customers. It pays the bills far better than any other occupation that they see themselves as able to obtain.

It's these women who have decided that in this world, in this life, at this place and time, that this is what they're going to do. And they saw the laws that prevented them from working from a safe space, able to freely communicate with and screen their clients, and able to employ drivers/bodyguards, have boyfriends, support their children, as violating their rights to freedom of expression and security of the person.

Does legalized prostitution mean that human trafficking is now legal? Did the Supreme Court strike down laws against fraudulently telling Chinese women that they could provide them with modelling jobs in Canada, force them into prostitution, keep their passports from them and threaten them with violence if they try to leave?

It did not.

Did the Supreme Court say that juveniles are free to sell their bodies and to turn the money over to their pimps?

It did not.

Again though: Where is the line separating a respectful, grateful client of an independent individual who has (for all intents and purposes) voluntarily entered into the sex-trade, and the entitled, selfish creep who doesn't care that the young woman he's using is the victim of kidnapping and coercion? Or the men who are having sex with children? I don't know where that line is. I honestly don't.

One constant is the vast over-representation of men as the clients. Why is this?

A lot is said about "male entitlement" and a lot of that is valid. Supposedly men feel entitled to women's bodies and will become resentful and violent when their desires are frustrated. This is true. But in the same way that people cannot see their "privilege" because it seems so natural, some men can't see their sense of "entitlement." To them, it's just "desire." They haven't constructed the world so that women's economic choices are such that so many of them see prostitution as the best of a bad situation. (Albeit sometimes a lucrative best of a bad situation.)

And I want to advance a possibility that I honestly have no idea whether it's valid or not: But might it not be the case that the general lack of a sense of "entitlement" among women is at least partially the result of society denying women's sexual desire? In a culture where little girls are discouraged from burping and farting and otherwise being human, and where sexual women are shamed as "sluts" and "whores," the paucity of female demand for male prostitutes a result of sexual repression? (Or is it also the case that if a woman wants to get laid, she only has to make this information public to be satisfied, which is not always the case for men?)

When I first opened this line of discussion, I mentioned that there are social-cultural-economic reasons why men don't become prostitutes in as great numbers as women. There's a lack of demand, but also a lack of necessity or free choice to do so.

So, the end result of today's post is that I don't know the answers. I'll conclude with a final post about the issue of safety.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Is Prositution Inherently Degrading?

What kind of a question is that?

Is sex inherently degrading? No. But it sure can feel that way sometimes. (Louis CK has a routine where, early in his career, he sleeps with a drunken patron and she wakes up and looks at him and then holds her face in her hands in disgust. He says it's always interesting to find out you're part of somebody's hitting rock-bottom in their life.)

So, yeah. Sex can be messy and sordid and nothing you'd want your parents or your pastor to see you doing. But other times it can be pretty darned nice. Darned tootin'!

So I think it is with prostitution.  Most of the time I'm sure "sex work" is disgusting. For the vast bulk of the people performing it. Other times, it must seem pretty rote and repetitive. (Just like it probably is for a lot of married people.) For a lucky few, it might be extremely well-paying and occasionally enjoyable and fun. No doubt, for almost everyone in the trade, there are a lot of insights on the human condition to be had (if they're sensitive enough to pick them up).

I think I'm going to skip ahead a bit here. I 'll just come out and say that I think a lot of the reason why prostitution is outright loathed though, is because there is, in our society, as in most societies, the feeling that sex is inherently degrading. That sex is bad.

I also think that in our society, as in most societies, women are degraded. Women are inherently bad and inferior.

And, therefore, women who engage in the sex trade get the appellation "WHORE" which is up there with among the worst things that you can call someone. And I think it's the combination of these two toxic mindsets that produce most of the evils of prostitution.

I could probably come up with something more profound and insightful, but that's all for today.