Petition to defer any bill on prostitution until after the next general election

by Caroline Shepherd

(Originally posted at Shiraz Socialist)

There’s a petition up to defer any bill on prostitution until after the next general election on Number10.gov.uk

The right of people in this country to decide by mutual agreement whether and under what conditions they consent to sexual intercourse is fundamental. In particular, it has never been illegal to pay for consensual sex since at least as far back as Magna Carta. The government are now proposing to criminalise men who pay for sex for the first time in this country’s history. That would constitute a radical change in the legal position for which the government has no electoral mandate, since the policy at the time of the 2005 general election was to legalise brothels operated by a small number of sex workers. We therefore call upon the government to obtain a mandate from the electorate before introducing any bill on prostitution.

If you’re wanting to fight this Jacqui Smith nonsense, there’s a good place to start.

If you’re a British citizen, do please sign this. I’ve written [at Shiraz Socialist] (A feminist perspective on Jacqui Smith’s proposals to change the prostitution laws and What do you make of this?) and my own [blog] about how much these new laws would endanger sex workers if they came into effect, so do have a read through if you’re not sure what’s happening and then do sign the petition.

I would also like to ask people to spread the link to this petition as widely as possible. If you’re a blogger and not a British citizen, I’m sure you’ll have British citizens reading, so do please reblog this.

Cheers.

Caroline Shepherd is a self-described “sex positive feminist who supports sex workers rights.” Her kick-arse posts can be found at Better Burn That Dress, Sister, Shiraz Socialist, Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy and in the moderation queue.

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Guest Post: “Privilege limits imagination”

by Kay Olson

[edit 04.23: originally posted as a comment in response to this post – mb]

With everything that has happened recently in the feminist blogworld (Seal Press, discussions of intellectual appropriation, BFP quitting her blog), and Angry Black Woman’s proposal for a Carnival of Allies, I’ve been thinking a lot on “empathy”, what exactly it is and how far it can get us in understanding each other.

In being effective allies, I don’t believe empathy can get us where we want to go. It’s a good place to start. Probably the best and only place to begin, but even with a generous definition of empathy as something that encompasses all manner of attempt to put oneself in another’s shoes, it still relies on the limits of an individual’s imagination. One has to be able to think of whose shoes to stand in and have some inkling of how they might feel. And privilege limits imagination.

Privilege is the ability to look around a room and not notice who is missing, because they weren’t invited, couldn’t take time off work, didn’t have the means to get there, or weren’t allowed in the building because of, oh, dress code or lack of ramps. CripChick notes in comments to her own post that she doesn’t feel able to participate in a discussion like the one over at Feministe that questions her own right to parent, and she’s not alone in that sentiment. Why show up for a debate where your personhood is in question? Why keep blogging when you (and the people you write about) are not given equal footing in discussions about your own lives? Why keep trying to bulldoze your way into parties where your absence/silence is apparently unnoticed?

What I’m saying is that the misplaced empathy and the silencing: they’re related, you know.

Writer/activist Kay Olson blogs at The Gimp Parade and Alas, a Blog.

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