Posts from December 2012

December 17th is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

December 17th, 2012 is the 10th annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. From December17.org:

December 17th is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. This event was created to call attention to crimes committed against sex workers all over the globe. Originally conceptualized by Annie Sprinkle and initiated by the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA as a memorial and vigil for the victims of the Green River Killer in Seattle Washington, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers has empowered workers from cities around the world to come together and organize against discrimination and remember victims of violence. During the week of December 17th, sex worker rights organizations and their allies stage actions and vigils to raise awareness about violence that is commonly committed against sex workers. The assault, battery, rape and murder of sex workers must end. Existing laws prevent sex workers from reporting violence. The stigma and discrimination that is perpetuated by the prohibitionist laws has made violence against us acceptable. Please join with sex workers around the world and stand against criminalization and violence committed against our communities.

From GT 2005-12-17: December 17th is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

The commemoration began from the Sex Workers’ Outreach Project’s memorial and vigil for the victims of the Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer. Since then its purpose has expanded to a memorial for, and protest against, all forms of violence against women in prostitution and elsewhere in the sex industry.

I’m opposed to prostitution as an industry, on radical feminist grounds. I frankly have very deep and sharp differences with the organizers of the event, and I’m iffy at best towards the rhetorical framework of sex work as a whole, for reasons that are way beyond the point of this post. But so what? The day is an important one no matter what differences I may have with the organizers. Real steps towards ending the ongoing daily violence against women in prostitution and elsewhere in the sex industry are more important than that; here as much as anywhere — probably more than anywhere else — women’s lives are at stake.

… A serious commitment to freedom for, and an end to violence against, women means a serious commitment to end violence against women in the sex industry. All of it. Now and forever. … And ending violence against women in prostitution also means ending State violence against women in prostitution. All of it. Law enforcement comes from the barrel of a gun, and criminalizing women in prostitution means authorizing cops to attack them. Ending violence against women means decriminalization of prostitution; it means an end to cops, guns, clubs, cuffs, jail for women who are just trying to get by in peace. It means an end to the misogynist audacity of conservative pols who use violence against women in prostitution as one of the primary excuses for attacking those women with the sword of the Law.

From GT 2008-12-17: December 17th is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers:

Any serious commitment to freedom for, and an end to violence against, women, means a serious commitment to ending violence against women who work in the sex industry. All of it. And that means any kind of violence, whether rape, or assault, or robbery, or abduction, or confinement against her will, or murder. No matter who does it. The one image of violence against sex workers that the malestream media never tires of repeating is the roving madman, cutting women down in the streets. But roving madmen come in a lot of shapes and sizes and uniforms. It may be a serial killer. But it may be a pimp. Or a trafficker. Or a john who imagines that paying for sex means he owns a woman’s body. Or, lest we forget, it may be a cop who believes that his badge, and his victim’s status in the system of patriarchal sex-class, makes absolutely any kind of sexual predation or physical torture a cop’s prerogative and nothing better than what the victim deserves. Or, lest we forget, a cop or a prosecutor or an immigration control freak, who calls the violence of an assault, restraint, and involuntary confinement an arrest or a sentence under the color of The Law. The Law has no more right than anyone else to hurt women or shove them around.

No matter who does it, this kind of violence — violence against peaceful people whose work, whatever you think of it, is honest work for willing customers, and is a way to get by, and doesn’t do one thing to threaten or violate the rights of a single living soul — violence against women who are made vulnerable by the violence and the killing indifference of the State — violence against women practiced in the name of enforcing patriarchal sex-class and misogynistic hatred for overtly sexual women — is wrong, absolutely wrong, and it has to stop. Immediately, completely, and forever.

There is a list of some local events at December17.org. I looked for some information on events for my friends in Las Vegas (where there usually is an event organized) but wasn’t able to find it in time for this post; if you know of local events in your area, please feel free to add information or links to them in the comments below.

May we all live free
in the glory and joy of life
that every human being deserves.

— Daisy Anarchy, I deserve to be safe

Remember. Mourn. Act.

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Grassroots Expansion for Red Emma’s in Baltimore

In Baltimore, Red Emma’s has some big plans, and they are looking for some grassroots support to build out their worker-owned radical bookstore, café and community space.

Here’s more from the Red Emma’s collective, via IndieGogo. As you may know, one of the harshest restraints on most worker-owned shops, co-ops and radical spaces are the extreme difficulties they have in paying for maintenance and expansions — you need resources to expand but you need to expand to get access to resources, and it’s hard to get bank loans, credit, or any other form of capitalization when you don’t look like a traditional corporate capitalist enterprise. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done but it does mean if it’s going to happen it largely depends on us and our networks to step up and put up the mutual support for the kinds of radical spaces that we want to see, that their institutions won’t fund. Anyway, the campaign is running now over at IndieGoGo, and any support you can send their way will really help with what sounds like some really awesome plans.

After 8 years in the storefront at 800 Saint Paul, Red Emma’s has decided it’s time to move: our current space just isn’t big enough to hold all the things we want to collectively make it do.

Over the past eight years, we’ve hosted a thousand public events, created two new radical spaces (2640 and the Baltimore Free School), organized international conferences, built an amazing annual radical bookfair, and served as a hub knitting together Baltimore’s different politically engaged communities, all the while keeping a collectively-owned and operated business open just about 365 days a year.

… We’ve just signed a lease for the fall of 2013; located at 30 West North Avenue, next door to Liam Flynn’s Ale House (itself started by founding Red Emma’s collective members!), the new space will be over five times the size of our current location.

We’ll be expanding our food operation to a full kitchen, moving beyond our current limited cafe menu to really let some of the culinary talent we’ve got in the collective shine. And we’ll be doing this in a way that makes extensive use of locally sourced agricultural products while keeping prices affordable: healthy, sustainable food should be the norm, not a luxury. We’ll be increasing the footprint of our bookstore sixfold—space constraints alone have prevented us from building the world class selection we’ve dreamed of, and the new space will make it possible to really build the kind of radical bookstore Baltimore deserves.

… The space is going to be far more welcoming; not only are we going to vastly expand the number of seats, we’ll also be full-accessible in the new space … And most importantly, scaling up is going to let us do something we’ve always dreamt of: pay the people working on the project a living wage. Our current storefront has never been big enough to reach the economies of scale we would have needed to keep funding our political mission and also pay ourselves something sustainable for the long-term; most of us work on a volunteer basis right now, and those of us who do get paid don’t get much. With the new space, our plan is to start with a living wage and work our way up from there.

Our plan and your help

Between renovations, equipment purchases, licensing, and other fees, we need roughly $250,000 to open this new space; we’re hoping to raise at least $50,000 through crowdfunding on this site, but the more we can raise here the less debt we will start off with in the new space. While the funds we raise here and elsewhere are crucial, there’s going to be all sorts of opportunities to pitch in to help us get the new space off the ground in other ways as we get closer to opening. Keep up with the status of the project by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook, or subscribing to our mailing list.

Have you seen what they do with that stuff?

In a conversation over on Facebook about the quarrels among the governing politicals parties over fiscal policy and deadlines, Keith Taylor summoned the spectre of repudiating the US government’s debts. This is as you may know the course that I favor for moral reasons; I also think that it is, rhetorically and strategically speaking, the best demand for radicals to make. (Any other demand, any bit of reformism, is always going to entangle you in an inescapable, and ultimately ridiculous trap: it’s not a radical’s job to try to find a way to keep the apparatus of government or the apparatus of global finance capital running efficiently. Our only job is to demand that people be freed of the coercive and exploitative demands of both.) Anyway, in reply to Keith’s comments, David Miller replied:

As the resident non-radical, there’s a lot I could say here, but I’ll just ask — how do you just cancel the debt? Investors and foreign governments buy up our debt because they see the U.S. as a trustworthy investment (a fact that eludes the people who endlessly try to terrify people into thinking we’re on the brink of financial collapse). If you just declare that it doesn’t exist, how do you not topple the global economy in the process?

Here are my answers to David’s questions and comments.

Q1. How do you just cancel the debt?

A. By not paying it anymore.

C1. Investors and foreign governments buy up our debt because they see the U.S. as a trustworthy investment . . . .

A. Right, and if the government repudiates its debts then they may no longer be willing to buy up government bonds in the future. Now, this might seem like a bad thing if you think it’s important to make sure that the US government is always able to issue more bonds in order to raise more money. But how desirable or even acceptable that is is going to look will depend (in part) on how desirable or even acceptable you think it is for the US government to have lots of ready cash. Since the major function of US government debt has always been to fund the US government’s imperial foreign policy and its repeated capital-intensive wars; and since the ready cash it has is constantly put into merciless bombing, war machines, atom bombs, international sanctions, drug prohibitions, prisons, ICE raids, border patrols, detention centers, warrantless wiretaps and surveillance, assassinations, military incursions, and the whole apparatus of massive global violence — along with the occasional multitrillion dollar banking bailout to preserve the habitats of endangered capitalists — I really have trouble seeing the loss here.

Q2. If you just declare that it doesn’t exist, how do you not topple the global economy in the process?

A. I think there’s a big and important difference between toppling the government’s account books and toppling the global economy. That said, toppling the present economic system would also be a massive improvement for the overwhelming majority of people in the world.

I didn’t mention this on Facebook, but I will add here that the fundamental flaw in most pragmatic discussions of fiscal policy, debts, and repudiation is that they are pervaded by an unargued presumption that government offers services that benefit the people it governs. In fact the overwhelmingly dominant function of government, in everything it does, is overwhelming dominance; it is characteristically an institution of violence against the governed, not a service to them. It would be better for us to take all the cash that government takes in through credit issues or through taxes and pile it up on the White House lawn, douse it in gasoline, and set all that money on fire than for it go towards keeping the U.S. Treasury running.

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