QOTD: Rethinking Sex-Positivity & Sex Work

Audacia Ray:

If we put aside our attachment to the sex positive construction of sex work, we will certainly hear things that will be hard to sit with. But for sex positivity to be a useful framework, one that encourages the pursuit of social justice, it must also engage with the ugly pieces of sexuality, and not in a simplistically reactive way. Otherwise, the concept of being a sex positive sex worker is a self-serving marketing practice, in which the enjoyment of sexuality is being sold as a product to both workers and our clients.

h/t Jill

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PSA: Petition for the immediate release of Esha Momeni

by matttbastard

Via For Esha, the One Million Signatures Campaign has started a petition calling for the immediate release of imprisoned graduate student and womens rights advocate Esha Momeni:

To: His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi,

His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei,
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi,

We, the undersigned, have heard with great alarm of the arrest in Tehran, on Wednesday October 15, 2008, of Esha Momeni, a graduate student in film and communication at California State University, Northridge. This arrest was made by Tehran traffic police on the pretext that she had made an illegal turn, but we have since been informed that she has been transferred to Section 209 of Evin Prison and kept in solitary confinement.
We wish to make clear that at no time has Ms. Momeni been involved in any activities contravening the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran. She had returned to Iran for an extended visit mainly for the purpose of seeing family and friends, and also in order to carry out research related to her MA degree at California State University, Northridge. Ms. Momeni, a women’s rights defender and a volunteer of the California branch of a grassroots campaign called the “One Million Signatures Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws”, decided to make her Master’s thesis project a personal exploration of the shared experiences of everyday Iranians. This included interviews with some members of the Campaign. The activities of the Campaign are peaceful and merely aimed at reforming the Iranian laws in areas that discriminate against women; the Campaign has no political objectives.
Those who are privileged to know Ms. Momeni are fully aware of the sincerity and passion for justice which she brings to the promotion of a truer image of Iran outside the country, and we are therefore dismayed that she should have been arrested and detained despite not having engaged in any unlawful activities.
We, the undersigned, therefore demand Ms. Momeni be released immediately and without conditions so that she can return to complete her education. In addition we urge you to:
1.Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Esha Momeni;
2.Assure that while in detention she is granted immediate and regular access to her family, a lawyer of her choice, and any medical treatment necessary in light of her medical condition (kidney stones);
3 Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Iran.
Yours sincerely

Sincerely,

The Undersigned

Please add your voice here. Make sure to take note of the caveat offered by For Esha:

We request you not to sign petitions organized by organizations other than the One Million Signatures Campaign. While such petitions may mean well, they often contain inappropriate language and factual errors and as such are more likely to endanger Esha than help bring about her release.

And please forward the official petition to as many people as you can.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

PSA: Free Esha Momeni

by matttbastard

Update: Be sure to sign the official petition calling for Momeni’s release.

Change For Equality:

Esha Momeni, women’s rights advocate and a member of the Campaign from California was arrested on Wednesday October 15, 2008, while on a visit to Tehran. Momeni who is a photographer and graduate student was arrested in an unusual and illegal manner after being pulled over on Moddaress highway, by individuals who identified themselves as under cover traffic police on the pretense that she had unlawfully passed another vehicle while driving. Esha was arrested and taken to Section 209 of Evin Prison, managed by the Intelligence and Security Ministry.

Prior to her transfer to Evin, security officials searched her home and seized property, including her computer and films which were part of her thesis project. The security officials had an arrest warrant and court permission to search the home and seize property.

While Esha’s friends and colleagues were insistent about announcing the news of her arrest immediately, based on requests from her family this news was announced with delay. Security forces had promised Esha’s family that she would be released quickly if news of her arrest was not published.

Esha’s parents went to the Revolutionary Courts today, on the fifth day of her arrest, to follow up on the case of their daughter. Court officials told the Momeni family that they should not come to the courts again, and that their questions will not be answered until the investigation of Esha’s case comes to a close.

Esha Momeni is a graduate student at the School of Communications, Media and Arts at California State University, Northridge. Esha had come to Iran two months ago to visit with her family and to work on her Masters thesis project, focused on the Iranian women’s movement. To this end, she had conducted video interviews with members of the One Million Signatures Campaign in Tehran.

Women’s rights activists object to the unusual manner in which Esha was arrested, as well as the irresponsible treatment of her family members by security forces. Further they strongly object to the unjustified and unwarranted arrest of this women’s rights defender.

A weblog in support of Esha pressing for her release has been established, which includes interviews with her professors… . The weblog as well as the site of the Campaign, Change for Equality, will continue to provide news on developments about Esha’s case. Take a look at the blog For Esha.

Take action now–please write to the following contacts:

* Leader of the Islamic Republic, His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader, Shoahada Street, Qom, Islamic Republic of Iran, Faxes: + 98.21.649.5880 / 21.774.2228, Email: info@leader.ir / istiftaa@wilayah.org / webmaster@wilayah.org;
* President, His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98.21.649.5880, E-mail: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir;
* Head of the Judiciary, His Excellency Mr. Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98.21.879.6671 / +98 21 3 311 6567 / +98 21 3 390 4986, Email: Irjpr@iranjudiciary.com / info@dadgostary-tehran.ir;
* Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Manuchehr Motaki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdolmajid Keshk-e Mesri Av, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98.21.390.1999, Email: matbuat@mfa.gov;
* Director, Human Rights Headquarters of Iran, His Excellency Mohammad Javad Larijani, C/o Office of the Deputy for International Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Building, Panzdah-Khordad (Ark) Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98 21 5 537 8827
* Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7330203, Email: mission.iran@ties.itu.int;
* Ambassador Mr. Ahani, Embassy of Iran in Brussels, avenue Franklin Roosevelt, 15 A. 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 39 15. Email: iran-embassy@yahoo.com.

– [express] concern at the arrest of Esha Momeni, and [urge] on the authorities to treat her humanely in detention, and protect her from torture or other ill-treatment;

– [ask] the authorities to ensure that while in detention she is granted immediate and regular access to her family, a lawyer of her choice, and any medical treatment she may require;

[express] concern that her arrest was apparently in connection with her peaceful activities in support of equal rights for women in Iran and in the context of her graduate research;

– [urge] the authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally if she is not to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence and brought to trial promptly and fairly

h/t Vanessa @ Feministing (via Feminist Daily News); more from CNN, DKos, Melissa Wall, and David Blumenkrantz. Also see this article on the 0ne Million Signatures Campaign, written by Momeni in 2007.

Previous Change for Equality PSAs:

Background: More on the still-ongoing One Million Signatures Campaign for Equality from Change For Equality (more here) and Ms. Magazine.

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to add your name.

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Update: Be sure to sign the official petition calling for Momeni’s release.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Quote of the Day: With Eyes Wide Open

by matttbastard

I know that we use media to anaesthetize our selves from the daily strain of this mortal coil however, a release should not be achieved by watching or listening to someone else be degraded.  The media is not the benign lifeless force that we construct it to be.  It helps to frame morals, and is a reflection of our social discourse. When we sit there blindly consuming these images without giving pause to understand that some of these images are a reflection of the ugliest parts of humanity, indeed we are embracing the darkness.  There are just some things that will never be funny.  When we sit there and laugh at things like rape, domestic violence, or the sexual objectification of women we are colluding with patriarchy in our own marginalization.  This has real world effects because it normalizes this behaviour therefore reducing the possibility that such crimes will be taken seriously.  Just because it is not happening to you does not  give you the right to assert privilege, and demean the life experiences of others.

– Renee, Feminists Have No Sense Of Humour

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Quote of the Day: Half Mast Victories

by matttbastard

The truth about feminism is that we cannot imagine the road to change if it comes back in exclusive dividends. It is meant for the freedom of others who are not here, who have died in vain, in violence, in secrecy, in the dark, and in fear. Feminism, until it thwarts itself from the clutches of materialistic greed, will never liberate anyone. It will succeed in a half-mast victory for a few handfuls of women who’ll erroneously assume the battle was well-fought and won.

– Sudy, LIVE Blogging from WAM: The Truth Out About Feminism (h/t purtek)

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Contextural Margins

by matttbastard

Well, bastard.logic–and *ahem* yours truly–have made it to the finals of the Canadian F-Word Blog Awards (final round voting takes place February 22-23–w00t!) Fellow nominee Pomegranate Queen did not make it past the first round (too bad, as her blog kicks ass). While expressing her gratitude for the acknowledgment she took the opportunity to explore some personal concerns the nomination provoked: namely, that having a separate Women of Colour category others WOC who may (or may not) identify as feminists; how the awards serve a microcosm of feminism in general; and how WOC have been marginalized throughout the history of the movement.

Prole from ACR shows up in comments to address the matter of the WOC category:

I’m really sorry to have offended you or anyone – to be honest, I had questioned the category also when we were putting this together. We consulted some other bloggers while coming up with the list, and the WOC category was insisted on, by a person of colour. We deferred to their judgement.

First of all, in the interest of full disclosure, I am the person of colour in question.

Prole, please don’t take this the wrong way, cause I love your guilt-ridden cracker ass (grinz), but “my black friend sez” is never a valid explanation (not that you’re the first to fall back on it). I’m certainly no proxy for all the brothas and sistas out there, and apologize to all concerned if I presented myself as such. I hold opinions that many would disagree with (obviously), regardless of ethnicity, identity, gender, or orientation.

With that out of the way, speaking solely for myself, I do happen to believe that (for whatever reason, right or wrong) there IS a difference between mainstream middle-class liberal white-centred feminism and the sort that is practiced and written about by WOC bloggers (to say nothing of the perspectives that are highlighted by black male, LGBT bloggers, or disability bloggers). By itself, having a distinctive category highlighting and celebrating the unique contribution to feminist blogging made by Women of Colour isn’t necessarily othering; however, the lack of nominees in the WOC category is indicative of the fact that white feminist bloggers (and white feminists in general) do need to expand their horizons with regards to interacting with bloggers who reside out of the so-called mainstream*, to redefine the boundaries of what feminism(s) is (are).

What does lend credence to the charge of othering (and I should have thought of this when I pushed for the category) is the lack of a parallel “Best Mainstream Middle-Class White-Centred Feminist Blog.” Having an unqualified “Best Canadian Feminist” category alongside categories specifically devoted to racial/gender identity makes “Canadian Feminist” the default stand in for “white”, illustrating the fact that, to too many folks, “white” is synonymous with “normative”. PQ is right: what needs to be discussed isn’t that the F-Word awards othered WOC, but rather that WOC are already marginalized from so-called “mainstream” (read: white middle-class) feminist discourse (and discourse in general) to the point where POC have to cause a ruckus in order for the experiences and issues that affect them (us) to be acknowledged.

Would any WOC-authored blogs have been nominated otherwise? I suppose we’ll never know, and perhaps my (unwarranted?) cynicism was precluded by witnessing too many battles within the USian femisphere where the voices of WOC were reflexively marginalized to the point of non-existence.

The issues explored by POC/WOC bloggers, like all issues, are simultaneously universal and unique; that people default to “white” as being “the norm” is a product of a white supremacist (and no, I don’t mean skinheads and white sheets, lol) patriarchal discourse that has been imposed upon–and willingly embraced by many in–our society. And, much like oblivious Popular Male Liberal Bloggers, white feminists (and, to varying degrees, POC) aren’t immune; having a vagina (and/or darker complexion) doesn’t mean one can’t be affected. But if Feminism(s) truly represent a radical discourse, then the idea of the existence of an inherent “norm”–rather than lazy assumptions born of unconscious and deliberate social conditioning–needs to be challenged.

And that includes lazy assumptions that exist within a radical discourse, even if the privilege is affirmed by somebody who should know better (doh!)

* One thing that I’ve realized throughout all this is that I don’t have much interaction with other Canadian bloggers of colour. That fact was made apparent when I tried to think of blogs to nominate in the category and was stumped–ironic, huh? Which, as I said, is partly the point of the awards: expanding one’s horizons.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers