As y’all know from my last post, I’ve been a little preoccupied the past few days (I’m at home again, and safe), so I forgot to post this earlier.

What follows is from Chicago’s event, but if you live elsewhere and want to know if there’s an event near you, go here

Dec 17th: Int’l Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

presented by SWOP Chicago

December 17, 2008


YWCA 360 N. Michigan, 8th Floor

Each year, sex workers are threatened, harmed, and killed by crimes that go unreported, unpunished, and unrecognized. These types of violence violate the human rights of individuals who work in the sex work industry, and harm sex workers as a group.

The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers was founded by Dr. Annie Sprinkle and SWOP USA in response to the conviction of the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway. Ridgway targeted sex workers because he believed no one would notice their absence.

When sex workers suffer sexual assault, abuse, battery, and murder, these crimes often go either unreported, or unprosecuted. Yet these crimes hurt all of society. Violence is not an “occupational hazard” or a “just punishment”, but a horrible crime for those least able to seek justice. This violence is perpetuated by stereotypes, misinformation, and an ineffective justice system.

This year, join SWOP Chicago in honoring the lives of those affected by this horrible violence. Join us for selected videos from Red Light District Chicago, including “Know Your Rights!”.

Bring photos, poems, artwork, writings, or anything else to help memorialize these individuals, and share what you feel comfortable. We will be providing refreshments, as well as sharing the names and stories of sex workers who have been affected by violence.

If you would like more information about this event, please email

See also: Ren’s blog

Please coment with links to posts about the day!


Abuse and Denial

December 15, 2008

I am in an abusive relationship.

It’s “just” emotional. It’s “not that bad”. He would never hurt me on purpose but it’s only happened once and it’s been a year since that’s happened, we’re past that now. Ze “really does love me” and “really wants to stop.” It “was so nice the past few days” “it’s getting better” “it had been getting so much better.” I’m “sure it will really be different this time.”

“I should erase all this.” “It has to be perfect before I can say it.” “If it’s ambiguous and problematic and he hurts me because of it, it’s my fault.” “I need permission to talk about this.”

“But it’s complicated.” “I do abusive things too.” “She’s not the ‘real abuser’ and I’m not the ‘real victim’,” “we both do this to each other, it’s not better or worse, it’s ‘just as bad.'” “I’m not really being abused” it’s “more complicated.”

“I shouldn’t talk about it.” Or, I should, just “not in one-sided terms.” “I’m an abuser too,” I need to be accountable for my violence toward him, “which means not characterizing things unfairly by just talking about how I’m being abused.” I “shouldn’t talk about how I’m victimized, I should talk about how things are equally violent.” It’s not like I’ve felt so unsafe I had to seek shelter elsewhere. It’s not like that’s ever happened before. Besides that was a couple months ago. “If I’m dealing specifically with being a victim, it’s because I don’t take my own abuse of hir seriously.” “Everything’s equal” “so all my conversations should be at least half about my own culpability” and “there’s no room to talk about this as uneven.” “I’d better give up on that, if I press it too hard he’ll break up with me.” “Maybe she’s right.”

“It doesn’t matter.” “This is the only way we can stay together.” “If there’s things that won’t heal this way, it’s worth it.” “It’s not like I’ll find anything better.”

“I don’t get to demand more people being involved.” “There’s nothing problematic about the form of two people trying to sort out an abusive relationship by themselves,” because “there aren’t overarching power dynamics.” “I’m just trying to control how she deals with the situation.” I know things when I’m not talking to you, “I don’t know why” I can’t articulate them to you. “I’m not backing down, ze’s just right.” “I’m not abandoning taking care of myself, I’m just being mature and accountable.” I feel obsequious and frightened of saying anything that will set hir off “but he is probably feeling the same thing” “and that means we don’t need a mediator” “because power and control aren’t playing out signficantly when we negotiate about abuse.” “It’s my fault.” “I’m not assertive enough.” “I should just be more assertive, then we won’t need a mediator.”

I didn’t push for a mediator when we talked today “because I didn’t think we needed one” not “because I was afraid.” “I do explicit verbal consent, I should’ve been able to say no when he asked me about the raisins.” “I’m a failure at explicit verbal consent if I can’t say no.” “It’s my fault.” “It’s ok that we aren’t talking about that.” “It’s not that important” “and it’s just my shit anyway.”

“There were reasons.” “She only did it because he couldn’t think of another way out of the situation.” “It’s not worse than my violence toward hir, just different.” “Trying to say that it’s worse is just a way of avoiding accountability.” “There’s always going to be a situation in which you break a commitment, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have that commitment or isn’t taking it seriously enough.” “It’s not reasonable of me to expect that to change” “it’s just the way she is.” “I can’t expect to have a partner who is never willing to intentionally hurt me.”

“This is the best I’ll get.” “I’m too damaged and fucked up for anything better.” “It’s my fault anyway.” “I should’ve just asked for space earlier.” “I shouldn’t’ve started the conversation:” “she was headed out the door” “I hadn’t eaten yet” “I should’ve waited till I’d figured out exactly what was wrong” “I said the wrong thing” “I should’ve backed down when I knew she was getting agitated” “I should be less demanding, it wasn’t important.” “Little things like this aren’t worth losing your relationship over.” “Why did I have to bring it up in the first place?” “I wish I’d never said anything.”

“I should just say this to my friends.” “I shouldn’t publish this publicly.” “It’s not because of shame, it’s to be accountable for my own violence.” “I shouldn’t publish this where she can read it.” “It’s not because I’m afraid of him” –“it’s because I shouldn’t claim to be ‘the real victim.'” “My need to say what she did Saturday is indicative of a different pattern is just being abusive, is just about not taking my violence against hir seriously.” “I’m throwing away my ability to compromise and negotiate.”

“I’m not in denial, I’m being mature and accountable.”

“I should hide this.” “I’m not being fair.” “I’ll prejudice my friends against hir.” “She’s a good person.” “It’s not as bad as all this.” “It’s not like I was actually unsafe there.” “I’m just being dramatic.” “This isn’t real abuse.” “It’s not as bad as real survivors have it.”

(Statements struck out are statements that recently became untrue, but were problematic to begin with. Statements in quotes are internalized abusive messages, which may or may not be true but are problematic/misleading. All are either things I’ve said recently, or things ze’s said to me, or both. Other statements are intended to be taken at face value, though may or may not reflect abuse.)

Yes Means Yes

December 2, 2008

An article of mine is coming out any day now–might already have hit the shelves where you are–in a new anthology about rape culture & sex positivity, Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape!

That’s a link to, provided 1)for international readers (Hi!) and 2)for reviews/info/table of contents. BUT, if at all possible please do NOT buy it from them, and support Women & Children First or the original Amazon Bookstore, in Minneapolis, or your local feminist, queer, or otherwise independent bookseller. supports right wing causes and the Republicans–contrast that with organizations you want to support, and need it.

ANYWAYS, it’s got me, my friend Lee who works at the wonderful Early to Bed (which I also recommend), Julia Serano, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (of “Femme Shark Manifesto” fame), and was edited by folks from Feministing. (ok, ok, we’re not going into that.) Y’all should pick it up!

Wow, it’s been two weeks since I’ve posted. Damn. Well, I’m done with exams as of today, and am taking a bit of time off before really returning to the world of theory. Also the world of transphobia–I read far too much Americans for Truth About Homosexuality in researching for my second paper, some Janice Raymond, and in depth descriptions of transphobic police violence here, here, and here IN ADDITION to anti-Native violence in Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide and anti-Native transphobic violence in Transgender Warriors. Writing about violence and genocide, not recommended.

I will leave you with one weird insight I had while writing my second paper:

Andrea Smith, arguing against the notion that racism tries to keep people “‘tainted’ by Black or Indian blood” from becoming white, writes that that logic “fails to consider US policies of forced assimilation and forced whiteness on American Indians. …American Indians have been valued for the land base they occupy, so it is in the interest of dominant society to have as few people marked “Indian” as possible.” White people can gain access to resources/deny them to Native people through eliminating them physically, but also through identity stripping: “one of the more frequent slurs whites hurled when the Chippewa attempted to exercise their treaty-protected right to fish was that they had white parents, or that they were really white.” Far from indicating that the white people in question simply didn’t realize that the spearfishers were Chippewa, and would have readily granted the resources if they just saw that they were indeed Indian, it represents policing the bounds of the “real”—idealized, formalized—Indian while dismissing the “fake”—factual, embodied—Indian.Its use as a slur isn’t possible without both categories, any more than it would have been possible for the US Congress when, in 1956, it “recognized the Lumbee as Indian, but denied the tribe full status as a federally recognized Indian tribe.”11 This transposition of real and fake enables the construction of Native people as disappearing, in that it creates the conditions to recognize actual Native people while simultaneously dismissing their authenticity, constructing an authentic, “real” Indian inherently at least a hundred and fifty years in the past, so that the “fake” Indian, modern and in the present, is a sign of the “authentic” culture dying off, a ‘present absence.’

(quotes are from “Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy: Rethinking Women of Color Organizing,” in INCITE’s Color of Violence, and the Lumbee Tribe Website.)

I was just struck that when people are contesting other people’s identities, “fake” actually refers to what’s real, and “real” refers to the symbolic. I’m sure you can see how that relates to trans stuff.

EDIT: (In case that sounds bizarre, when people say something like a “real Native American,” they mean someone who goes bare chested, wears feathers, and is deeply spiritual and wise. And dead. So factual, in the flesh Native people who aren’t like that “aren’t Indians”–to the point that one person checked the “Native American” box on a college form and the clerk at the desk erased it and checked “Caucasian” instead. Similarly, when people say “real woman,” they tend to think of a lot of things that symbolize ‘woman,’ and deny someone the symbolic status “woman” at the same time that they recognize them as a “fake” woman, that is, a woman in social terms, that is, what “woman” really refers to, a member of a particular social class. )
(also added two sentences onto the quote from my paper)