QotD: “The Momentum crew are less good at explaining who will do the work of caring in the future because they have zilch in the way of gender politics beyond loving sex workers”
The Momentum crew are less good at explaining who will do the work of caring in the future because they have zilch in the way of gender politics beyond loving sex workers.
Suzanne Moore, Labour needs to address the issues of the present before it becomes the Retro party
QotD: “New fears for 1,000 lone children in Calais refugee camp – French authorities hope Britain will honour pledges and rescue minors when the bulldozers move in”
Up to 1,000 unaccompanied minors will be left to fend for themselves when the so-called jungle camp for refugees in Calais is bulldozed next month. The French authorities have made no plans to rehouse the children, the Observer has learned, because it is hoping to force Britain to honour a promise to help child refugees.
The French interior ministry has informed charities and aid organisations that it intends to destroy the camp in less than four weeks.
Almost 400 unaccompanied youngsters in the camp, some of whom have relatives in the UK, have already been identified as having a legal right to come to Britain.
In May, David Cameron announced that Britain would accept as many as 3,000 unaccompanied minors. James Brokenshire, immigration minister at the time, said Britain had “a moral duty to help”.
However, Home Office figures reveal that by mid-September, only 30 children had arrived under the scheme. The Home Office did not respond to queries over whether it intended to help lone child refugees once the Calais camp was destroyed.
On Monday President François Hollande is expected to visit Calais and confirm that the refugee camp will be demolished. Details emerged last week when refugee organisations were told that alternative accommodation elsewhere in France would be supplied for 9,000 adults and families.
However, because of a supposed lack of emergency capacity for unaccompanied minors, at least 850 children will be made homeless.
Josie Naughton of the charity Help Refugees said: “We are particularly concerned for the safety of the unaccompanied children and ask the authorities to ensure they are protected and accounted for. We also urge the UK government to make good on its pledge, as there is little time to act.”
Jess Egan of the Refugee Youth Service, which runs a safe area in the camp for many unaccompanied minors, expressed outrage at the development. “It’s really worrying – horrendous – that nothing has been put in place to help these children,” she said.
Emily Carrigan, who has been working at the unofficial women and children’s centre in the camp for nine months, said: “We’ve been told that there is accommodation provided, but not for unaccompanied minors, because they [the French] hope the UK will help.
“Who knows what will happen to them? They will scatter everyone, and we won’t be able to track them. They’ll disappear.”
The dismantling of parts of the camp earlier this year caused so much panic among unaccompanied children that many of them disappeared. One charity, Care4Calais, said that after an area of the site was cleared, 129 unaccompanied minors had vanished.
Charlie Whitbread of Care4Calais said he was looking to set up a system to track down lone child refugees after the camp was demolished.
“The plan is to remain active and help the small camps that will spring up across northern France afterwards,” he said.
QotD: ‘The Beauty Myth’
Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth
QotD: Victims of commercial sexual exploitation as young as 16 who were taken to Ibiza for the tourist sex trade then beaten with brooms and sticks if they didn’t bring in €1,000 a day have been rescued by police
[Victims of commercial sexual exploitation] as young as 16 who were taken to Ibiza for the tourist sex trade then beaten with brooms and sticks if they didn’t bring in €1,000 a day have been rescued by police.
The victims, who were lured to the Spanish mainland with fake promises of jobs, were forced to work 14 hours a day.
One of the women, police have revealed, was just 16 years of age.
All 21 are Nigerian and were working in the exclusive districts of Ibiza.
A major operation carried out by the Spanish police in association with the Office of Criminal Investigation in Germany and Europol has led to the arrest of 24 suspects.
‘The network captured very young victims among the lower classes of the major Nigerian cities, deceiving them with false job offers in Spain.
‘Once in our country, they were forced into prostitution in marathon days, being beaten if they did not earn the money demanded by the gang,’ said a police spokesman.
Investigators said Ibiza was chosen for the summer because of the high influx of tourists, with the gang totalling controlling the streets of the exclusive areas.
They were kept in one apartment and only allowed out occasionally to buy food or to keep an appointment with a client.
‘If they didn’t earn 1,000 euros a day, they would be forced to kneel for hours and beaten with sticks and brooms,’ said the spokesman.
Police found that 17 women were forced to share one apartment of just 30 square metres, with three to four girls sleeping in one single bed.
The vulnerable women were given employment offers ‘too good to refuse’ in view of their poor circumstances but once captured, were unable to escape.
They were subjected to voodoo rituals and sworn to loyalty contracts under the threat of family members being killed.
The women were smuggled into Europe on boats and planes and were only told their job offer was false when they arrived in Spain.
They were then told they would have to pay up to 50,000 pounds to be freed and could do so through prostitution.
Those arrested included two women said to be the ringleaders who had ‘years of experience’ in recruiting vulnerable girls.
Police said they took elaborate steps to avoid detection, often moving the women from house to house.
One of the gang was arrested in Germany where he had tried to hide and five others were found to be members of the 1960s cult called ‘Supreme Eiye Confraternity’.
The money earned from prostitution was sent to Nigeria via Madrid where a bar was used as the front.
Seven properties were raided in Spain and Germany and 20 bank accounts blocked.
QotD: Italian court orders child rapist to buy books on women’s dignity
A court in Rome has handed down an unusual penalty to the [rapist] of [a child victim of commercial sexual exploitation] and ordered him to buy her 30 books on the theme of women’s dignity.
In addition to a two-year jail sentence, the unnamed man, 35, will be required to give the 15-year-old victim a list of famous novels.
These include books by Virginia Woolf, Anne Frank’s diary and the poems of Emily Dickinson, as well as two feminist-themed films.
Judge Paola Di Nicola’s ruling follows an investigation launched in 2013 into a Rome-based [child sexual exploitation] ring that pimped two girls aged 14 and 15 in the upmarket Parioli suburb of the Italian capital.
The teenagers were lured into the world of [commercial sexual exploitation] with cash which they used to ‘buy new clothes and the latest mobile phones’, reports said, citing investigators.
In the 2014 trial of the [child sexual exploitation] ring’s mastermind, who was jailed for nine years, a judge said the girls were ‘children who got carried away with the debauchery, without restraint, so they could easily earn money’.
A copy of the latest court ruling was not available on Friday.
The Corriere della Sera newspaper wrote: ‘But the decision suggests that the judge favoured a remedy that would help the young girl to understand the real “damage” that she had suffered was damage to her dignity as a woman.’
Adriana Cavarero, whose ‘Notwithstanding Plato’ was among the books that the judge ordered the accused to buy for the girl, told the newspaper it would be better if the judge had read the works to the convicted man.
She said: ‘Adolescence is not the time for reflection, what he did was much worse: an adult who, knowingly, paid for sex with a minor.’
Am posting this for information only, not approval. Also, it’s the Daily Mail, so I’m not even going to bother trying to complain about their use of the term ‘sex work’ in relation to a raped child.
The first comment (as of reading) is pretty accurate:
Are you kidding me? Yeah throw all that at the victim? Should have given them 30 years in prison for rape of a child rather than throwing a ton of books at her – like she’s going to be spending her recovery reading rather than surviving! Make him pay for 30 years of therapy and a safe place for her to live and the antidepressants she will likely need…books emphasising how much was stolen from her is hardly appropriate!
QotD: “Keith Vaz’s defenders have backed his call for privacy”
Privacy, like power and money, is one of those unevenly distributed commodities. And as with power and money, if you want to lay claim to privacy, having a penis is a great place to start. Even when a man’s personal conduct is in direct conflict with his public duties, he can still try to plead his entitlement to a “private life”. That’s the line Keith Vaz’s defenders have taken since Sunday, when the Sunday Mirror published allegations that the Labour MP for Leicester East paid two men for sex and that he did this while chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, which is currently conducting an inquiry into the laws on prostitution. The same day Vaz was exposed, the Sunday Times published a list of “childless politicians” who were, inevitably, women: if you’re female, scrutiny is permissible all the way into your uterus, however little it has to do with your work.
The commons committee that Vaz chaired launched its inquiry into prostitution in January stating in its terms of reference: “In particular, the inquiry assesses whether the balance in the burden of criminality should shift to those who pay for sex rather than those who sell it.” In other words, Vaz was involved in an inquiry to decide whether people who pay for sex should be criminalised. The committee’s interim report, published in June, declared that it was “not yet persuaded” that criminalising punters would be “effective”, despite evidence of the policy’s success in Sweden and Norway.
Regardless of how much direct influence Vaz had over the committee’s findings, this is an obvious conflict of interest. It’s plainly not appropriate for an MP to make recommendations about a potential law when his own undisclosed conduct would put him on the wrong side of it. Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk — suspended from the Labour Party after his own explicit texts to a 17-year-old girl were revealed — has implored the public to offer “compassion” to Vaz, saying that he’s broken no laws.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s first response was similarly to point out that Vaz “hasn’t committed any crime that I know of” and to minimise the allegations as “a private matter”. Vaz’s own committee has recommended that no “burden of criminality” should fall on those who pay for sex, which is precisely why this story is not a “private matter”. But then, Corbyn himself has previously argued that decriminalising the sex industry is the “civilised” approach, on the assumption that all the harms of prostitution can be pinned on the laws against it.
And then there’s Peter Tatchell, whose campaigning work for gay rights frequently involved “outing” closeted individuals who made homophobic public statements, and yet who told BBC Radio 4’s Today this morning that he “found it very difficult to see any public interest justification for that intrusion into Keith Vaz’s privacy. As far as I can see, he has not broken any law or caused anyone any harm, and there’s no allegation of hypocrisy.” According to Tatchell, a hypocrite is someone who acts against their own unstated interests — those who use the guise of disinterest to publicly facilitate what they privately indulge get a pass, it seems.
During her oral evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee in May, former sex worker Paris Lees tried to embarrass the Conservative MP James Berry by demanding to know if he had “ever been in a position where you felt that you needed to sell your body for sex”. The aim, presumably, was to expose him as a privileged man with no right to pronounce on the subject. Vaz, as chair, declared that his colleague did not have to respond. The committee chose the side of men’s privacy too when it set itself against the sex buyer law — men, despite being both the market that drives demand for prostitution and the main threat to sex workers’ welfare, are discreetly unmentioned in the interim report’s conclusion. In that privacy, the pleasure, the safety and the consent of those in prostitution has been purchased away.
QotD: “I choose to put lipstick everywhere on my body except my lips. I choose this. It’s empowering.”
I choose to put lipstick everywhere on my body except my lips. I choose this. It’s empowering.
QotD: “Columbia students claim Greek mythology needs a trigger warning”
“Not far from the walls of Enna, there is a deep pool,” begins Ovid’s version of the rape of Persephone. “While [Persephone] was playing in this glade, and gathering violets or radiant lilies, while with girlish fondness she filled the folds of her gown, and her basket, trying to outdo her companions in her picking, [Pluto], almost in a moment, saw her, prized her, took her: so swift as this, is love.”
The Greek myth has been recounted for thousands of years in hundreds of languages, scores of countries and countless works of art. It’s considered a cultural touchstone for Western civilization: a parable about power, lust and grief.
Now, however, it could be getting a treatment it’s never had before: a trigger warning.
In an op-ed in the student newspaper, four Columbia University undergrads have called on the school to implement trigger warnings — alerts about potentially distressing material — even for classics like Greek mythology or Roman poetry.
“Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’ is a fixture of Lit Hum, but like so many texts in the Western canon, it contains triggering and offensive material that marginalizes student identities in the classroom,” wrote the four students, who are members of Columbia’s Multicultural Affairs Advisory Board. “These texts, wrought with histories and narratives of exclusion and oppression, can be difficult to read and discuss as a survivor, a person of color, or a student from a low-income background.”
The April 30 op-ed has stirred debate on campus and online.
“Grow up, open up, care less about your identity and more about your passions,” wrote one of hundreds of commenters. “Such an insufferable breed of self-centered Care Bears.”
The op-ed comes at a time of intense debate about trigger warnings, a term that is 20 years old but only recently has become a proxy for broader issues such as political correctness, identity politics, liberal arts education and sexual assault.
The phrase can be traced back to the treatment of Vietnam War veterans in the 1980s, according to BuzzFeed’s Alison Vingiano. Psychologists started identifying “triggers” that sent vets spiraling into flashbacks of past traumas. With the rise of the Internet in the late ’90s, feminist message boards began using “trigger warnings” to warn readers of content that could stir up painful or paralyzing memories of sexual assault.
Trigger warnings quickly spread to include discussions of everything from eating disorders to self injury to suicide. In 2010, sex blogger Susannah Breslin wrote that feminists were using the term “like a Southern cook applies Pam cooking spray to an overused nonstick frying pan.” Breslin argued that trigger warnings were pointless or, even worse, self-defeating. A trigger warning is “like a flashing neon sign, attracting *more* attention to a particularly explicit post, even as it purports to deflect the attention of those to whom it might actually be relevant.”
By 2012, The Awl’s Choire Sicha argued that the phrase had “lost all its meaning.”
“Alerts have been applied to topics as diverse as sex, pregnancy, addiction, bullying, suicide, sizeism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, slut shaming, victim-blaming, alcohol, blood, insects, small holes, and animals in wigs,” Jenny Jarvie wrote last year in the New Republic. “Certain people, from rapper Chris Brown to sex columnist Dan Savage, have been dubbed ‘triggering.’ Some have called for trigger warnings for television shows such as ‘Scandal’ and ‘Downton Abbey.’”
But the Internet debate over trigger warnings is nothing compared to the controversy over their use on American university campuses. Last year, students at the University of California at Santa Barbara passed a resolution asking professors to put trigger warnings on class syllabuses and allow students to skip classes containing “content that may trigger the onset of symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
“Oberlin College has published an official document on triggers, advising faculty members to ‘be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression,’ to remove triggering material when it doesn’t ‘directly’ contribute to learning goals and ‘strongly consider’ developing a policy to make ‘triggering material’ optional,” Jarvie wrote. “Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart,’ it states, is a novel that may ‘trigger readers who have experienced racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide and more.’ Warnings have been proposed even for books long considered suitable material for high-schoolers: Last month, a Rutgers University sophomore suggested that an alert for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby say, ‘TW: suicide, domestic abuse and graphic violence.’”
Critics on both the left and the right have expressed concern that these trigger warnings are impinging upon free speech and undermining the meaning of a liberal arts education, where students from all walks of life are exposed to new and often disturbing ideas.
“What began as a way of moderating Internet forums for the vulnerable and mentally ill now threatens to define public discussion both online and off,” Jarvie wrote. “The trigger warning signals not only the growing precautionary approach to words and ideas in the university, but a wider cultural hypersensitivity to harm and a paranoia about giving offense.”
“In reality, trigger warnings are unrealistic,” argued Breslin, the sex blogger. “They are the dream-child of a fantasy in which the unknown can be labeled, anticipated, and controlled. What trigger warnings promise — protection — does not exist. The world is simply too chaotic, too out-of-control for every trigger to be anticipated, avoided, and defused.”
“Hypersensitivity to the trauma allegedly inflicted by listening to controversial ideas approaches a strange form of derangement — a disorder whose lethal spread in academia grows by the day,” Harvey Silverglate opined in the Wall Street Journal. “What should be the object of derision, a focus for satire, is instead the subject of serious faux academic discussion and precautionary warnings. For this disorder there is no effective quarantine. A whole generation of students soon will have imbibed the warped notions of justice and entitlement now handed down as dogma in the universities.”
And yet, it’s no coincidence that trigger warnings have arisen just as sexual assault finally becomes part of the national conversation. As Katie J.M. Baker pointed out in a recent BuzzFeed article, discussing rape and sexual assault simply is different than discussing other societal ills. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 in 5 women in America have been raped. “As far as brutal crimes go, there won’t be any murder victims sitting in class, but statistically, there will likely be survivors of sexual assault,” Baker wrote.
“Of course I understand the import of studying rape in law school,” one Harvard Law graduate told Baker. “That I expect rape to be taught with the understanding that 1 in 5 women are assaulted while in college, and therefore there are very likely survivors sharing the law school classroom does not mean I am afraid. It means I care.”
In their op-ed, the Columbia undergrads — all women of color — recount the story of another female student.
“During the week spent on Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses,’ the class was instructed to read the myths of Persephone and Daphne, both of which include vivid depictions of rape and sexual assault,” they write. “As a survivor of sexual assault, the student described being triggered while reading such detailed accounts of rape throughout the work. However, the student said her professor focused on the beauty of the language and the splendor of the imagery when lecturing on the text. As a result, the student completely disengaged from the class discussion as a means of self-preservation. She did not feel safe in the class. When she approached her professor after class, the student said she was essentially dismissed, and her concerns were ignored.”
The students then call on Columbia to “issue a letter to faculty about potential trigger warnings and suggestions for how to support triggered students” and institute “a mechanism for students to communicate their concerns to professors anonymously, as well as a mediation mechanism for students who have identity-based disagreements with professors.”
“Finally, the center should create a training program for all professors, including faculty and graduate instructors, which will enable them to constructively facilitate conversations that embrace all identities, share best practices, and think critically about how the Core Curriculum is framed for their students,” the students write.
Conservative critics claim that the Columbia students want to silence class discussion of certain texts.
“The hyperbolic language of trauma that’s used! Sheesh,” wrote Elizabeth Nolan Brown in Reason. “Apparently this discussion of Ovid was so threatening it was a matter of self-preservation to ignore it. If that’s really true — if the mere discussion of rape causes this student to feel panicked and physically unsafe — than she needs help treating severe post-traumatic stress disorder, not a f—— trigger warning.”
“Op-eds like this are a call for academic vandalism, defacing culture and history with the ugly graffiti of modern class, race, and sex-war politics,” John Hayward wrote in a Breitbart blog titled “Campus special snowflakes melt upon contact with Greek mythology.”
In the case of the Columbia students, however, they say they want more discussion, not less. A trigger warning on Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” might help a student who has suffered sexual assault stay engaged by offering her a chance to discuss the brutality in the text — not just its beauty.
“Our vision for this training is not to infringe upon the instructors’ academic freedom in teaching the material,” the students conclude. “Rather, it is a means of providing them with effective strategies to engage with potential conflicts and confrontations in the classroom, whether they are between students or in response to the material itself. Given these tools, professors will be able to aid in the inclusion of student voices which presently feel silenced.”
I saw this on the front page of the Guardian yesterday:
and despaired. I can’t bring myself to actually listen to the thing, but ‘fortunately’ there is an article summery published today. It’s all pretty meager stuff (‘fun facts’ and titillation more than anything else), and I almost gave up after reading this:
“Despite the fact that we spend more time peeing or menstruating out of them than anything else, sex remains the primary association when people think of vaginas”
Women do not urinate out of their vaginas!
And despite an attempt at being ‘trans inclusive’ they’re going to get it in the neck for talking about ‘menstrual art’.
QotD: “Police criticised as organised gangs gain control of sex industry”
This is from the Observer, which, I am happy to say, no longer calls raped children workers, but is still ok calling raped adults workers, and, in the full article, quotes the IUSW without offering the alternative view of the Nordic model.
I am writing to the Observer readers editor (he at least replied to my emails before, the Guardian readers editor never has).
I was disappointed to read an article in the Observer today (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/sep/24/organised-crime-behind-uk-sex-trade) on the sex trade that used the term ‘sex worker’ to describe women in prostitution controlled by criminal gangs. You have already agreed that it is not appropriate to call a raped child a ‘worker’, so it should be equally inappropriate to call a raped adult a ‘worker’.
I was also disappointed to see the article quote the IUSW uncritically, without offering any alternative viewpoint on the legal status of the sex industry. The IUSW is not a legitimate union, as it allows bosses to join (see this article here: https://www.byline.com/project/3/article/4).
It is bad journalism to only offer one side of an argument, the Nordic (abolitionist) model has been successful in Sweden since 1999 (https://nordicmodelnow.org/what-is-the-nordic-model/), and should at least be mentioned along side other legal approaches to prostitution.
I look forward to hearing back from you.