Dear Julie, can you love me?

Or why I support radical feminism.

Julie Bindel is saying many things publicly about many people, including trans’ people, sex workers, vegans and more recently about bisexual women.

I know she receives a lot of hate mail from readers, but she challenges so many people, especially about their sexuality, that I wonder sometimes if she actually likes being seen as this character who hates and who’s hated. It makes her appear as brave and without fear of what people think of her.

She concludes her recent article Where’s the politics in sex? in the Huffington post by: “ if bisexual women had an ounce of sexual politics, they would stop sleeping with men.

My first reaction was to think “wow she’s so radical. It sounds like the 1970s again”.

But then I have to think to myself: “As a faggot and a whore, does this mean that I am not only sleeping with the enemy? But even worse, it makes me the enemy, just for being a male?”

And what could I do about that?

Bindel is against transgenderism so even if I became a woman she would be against.

And what about sleeping with men? The thing is I tried once or twice to have sex with a woman but I couldn’t. I felt almost forced by the woman and forcing myself at the same time. I couldn’t do anything but let her fingering me. I have this kind of blockage in me. I feel even a bit guilty not being able to be more open minded sexually but I don’t know why, it’s like if I had a political thing that blocks me. I struggled so hard to be a faggot and to be proud and to fight all my life against heterosexuality as a system that it would make me feel weird to have sex with a woman.

And the other thing is that I really love men. I am mad with them and I could do the craziest things for a man. I really can’t imagine stop sleeping with men. I am so attracted to men all the time. Every 2 minutes I see a man in the street and I think to myself “HIM! I would s@#&!k his c=$%k anytime…”. I am just too comfortable having sex with men all the time, I know the male body, how to pleasure a man sexually, etc. I just can’t imagine censoring myself sexually and emotionally just to make a political statement. So why could we expect the same from straight or bisexual women?

My best friend thinks she’s just an idiot, and that she’s guilty of spreading transphobia, hurting many women like sex workers by imposing her old fashioned views on sex, and that she naturalises men as violent when many men can actually be the victims of violence like he was as a child.

Of course I disagree with most of her views regarding sex but I also can’t help but feel impressed.

If I had to define myself as a feminist I would say that I am more a radical feminist than a socialist feminist. I know it sounds completely paradoxical since most radical feminists are anti-sex work, and that as a male I am not supposed to (I can’t) be a feminist.

But I share their analysis about patriarchy being the base and origins of oppression between humans. I believe that the first political difference made between humans is gender, even before birth, we are expected to be boys or girls and with a whole system of roles and behaviours that we will have to perform all our life whether we like it or not.

I think capitalism is quite recent in history in comparison and has been very efficient at using gender divisions between humans to function, but the model of class division is the sexual division of labour. With patriarchy there is even the idea that the bi-categorisation of humanity in two classes (men/women) is natural. People genuinely think that having male or female sexual organs make them completely different people.

Of course as a male I can’t biologically be pregnant. But apart from that, I am not sure what “naturally” makes me different from a woman. And given that women on average are pregnant only twice 9 months in their life, I really don’t see why this difference by nature becomes so important, especially when many women will never have children.

Most of differences between men and women are in fact made up culturally. This is the basics of feminism. I don’t invent anything. “On ne nait pas femme on le devient. Le genre est une construction sociale.” Simone de Beauvoir.

I like that Julie Bindel is one of the rare voices which is critical of same sex marriage and would rather abolish marriage as a whole. I like the fact that radical feminists are very critical of any form of relationship between men and women. I find lesbian separatism a very radical and very brave ideal. It destroys completely the idea that women need men, or that men and women are complementary.

I loved reading Valerie Solanas’ Scum manifesto despite the tragic shooting of Andy Wharol. I loved Sheila Jeffreys’ critique of the sexologist movement and how lesbophobia was used in the twentieth century to divide women and discredit feminists as lesbians and dangerous sexual perverts. I loved Christine Delphy‘s L’enemi principal on the sexual division of labour. I loved reading Adrienne Rich text on compulsory heterosexuality. I loved reading Monique Wittig’s Straight mind, her analysis of heterosexuality as a political system and how lesbians could escape this system by refusing to have any sexual contract with men, and by inventing new identities, new lifestyles without having to interact with men, to the point that they are no longer women, since they no longer need to define themselves politically by a gender identity defined by and for men.

When Sheila Jeffreys and Bindel after her say that all women should be lesbians, I find it very radical.

I know it sounds very simple because most people actually don’t choose their sexual orientation. As I said earlier, I don’t think I would feel able to be straight and I suffered a lot as a child for wanting to be straight and having to realise that it was not going to happen.

But I also tend to think that human beings are not genetically gay, bi or straight, and I see no reason why the majority of humanity would be straight. I tend to think that there are political reasons why we become (for most of us unconsciously) what we are sexually.

It always makes me laugh when people are scared of the homosexual propaganda, because you can’t reasonably turn someone gay (although you can suck a str8 man’s dick fairly easily even without a wig on). However, I also think that there is an incredible propaganda that exists for people to be straight. It’s just that it’s so normal that most people don’t even see it but everything around us is promoting heterosexuality all the time.

Most people could probably be able physically to have sex with all genders. It’s just that we are often blocked in one sexuality whatever the reason is. And in a non-hetero-normative society where there is no model of sexuality promoted against another, maybe there would not be a majority of heterosexuals. Actually, when I think about the men I have sex with, there are many of them who would define themselves socially as straight, especially among my clients. So we’re talking about social identities here, not what people actually do sexually. In fact the concept of homosexuality versus heterosexuality is very recent.

Maybe I am guilty of being attracted to the enemy. Why do I love men? Isn’t it also for their appearance of strength and power? But I also think that men are much more complex and can be very weak as well, especially when it comes to love and emotion. Or is it another cliché about men?

Of course as a male I have many privileges in patriarchy, most of them I am not even conscious of. Does that make me an enemy who deserves no sexual or emotional contact? Am I still a man even if I want to define myself as queer and try to deconstruct gender? I don’t have the answers.

The point where I would disagree with other radical feminists is when they start blaming other women of being accomplices of patriarchy.

I don’t think straight and bisexual women are less feminist because they sleep with men. To love men and being a feminist can be very challenging because of course you tend to give excuses to the people you love, and accept sometimes things which are unacceptable. But they also confront men on a daily basis and sometimes with great success.

I don’t think that trans-women are stealing or caricaturing a feminine identity. I don’t think Trans people even choose their gender identity, it’s just who they are. Femininity is just a concept which doesn’t mean anything if you’re a feminist. We are all a caricature of gender stereotypes that we have internalised. We are all copies because there is no original. There is not one true woman and false women. I think feminism is the contrary of essentialism. Trans-women can be great feminists who teach us a lot about gender and their experience of oppression within patriarchy is crucial to understand and change the system.

I don’t think sex workers are essentially victims or accomplices of pimps if they refuse rehabilitation and campaign for decriminalisation or labour rights. I think sex work as it exists is part of a sexist system that expect women (majority of sex workers) to provide men sexual and emotional pleasure and attention. But asking for money is making visible that this is work, which they have to pay for it, and not expect it for free in the “private sphere” of the family or within heterosexual relationships. I don’t think prohibition is going to abolish sex work. It just makes it invisible and more dangerous for us, and it’s contrary to what abolitionist Josephine Butler would have campaigned for.

I think nothing should be banned for women, and they should be free to do whatever they want with their body, whether they want to abort, wear the veil or make up, selling sex, changing sex, etc.

I also think that patriarchy doesn’t produce only sexism but all forms of discriminations and that we can’t make hierarchies between oppressions since they are one. We can’t fight sexism properly if we think it only from the angle of white middle class western women.

We have a lot to learn from minority women and understand their forms of resistance and why things which can appear as treason for some is for them a way to gain economic independence, migrate, study, improve their life how they can.

Dear Julie, I wish you could see that feminism is a hope and a source of power for many many people, including some men who within patriarchy can be in a position of being dominated too, and that we should try to make this movement open to everyone. I know you condemn “fun feminism”, but I believe feminism can be fun, include men, and not just be about blaming other people. Feminism is one of the greatest things that happen in history and in so little time has dramatically changed the world. Feminism has been and is one of the most successful revolutions.

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What is Hands on pro?

The Sex worker Open university and X-talk come together to offer Professional development classes for sex workers. It’s called Hands on on and it’s amazing.

http://handsonpro.wordpress.com/

Hands on is the new professional development and skill sharing project devised by Sex Worker Open University and X:Talk, the two sex workers’ cooperatives based in London ( links below).

Hands On will be a series of weekly workshops, over two months, aimed at sex workers wanting to learn or develop relevant skills. Our first two classes will be Swedish Massage facilitated by David and I.T skills with Ms Tytania starting on the the 7th of june til 26th of July. You can read more about the classes and the teachers below. We will also offer one-off Self Defence and Martial Training with a range of  expert instructors. The classes are limited to 12 people so please email contact.swou@gmail.com to book a space ( or ask us any question!). Hands On is open to sex workers of all genders, races and abilities. We wish to make the class a safe and confidential space where sex workers can learn new skills and feel less isolated.

See you soon,

The Hands On team.

http://www.xtalkproject.net/

www.sexworkeropenuniversity.com

We now have preliminary information on Hands On! workshop times, dates and contents…

The workshops will start on Thursday 7 of June and end on Thursday 26 of July. They will run every Thursday between those dates, in the following order. For confidentiality and safety reason, the address of the venue in Central London will only be sent to you once you have booked your place through contact.swou@gmail.com

11-1 Massage with Davyd

This is an all-level friendly, informal but structured massage workshop.
Everyone is welcome from complete beginners to advanced masseuses. The
focus will be more on having an interactive, skill-share workshop than a
teacher/ students structure.

We will be doing mostly Swedish massage which is oil massage applied
directly on the skin. It’s a fascinating way to cultivate your touch and
get to meet another body in a different way. Hopefully we’ll have time to
do a bit of acupressure and other techniques too. The objective of this
workshop is for everyone to gain some basic massage techniques and a
little anatomy knowledge that will hopefully prove useful to people in
their work as a sex worker.

Massage is a good skill to have in this job. It can make you look just a
little bit more special to a client and is very useful to relax a nervous
client and put him at ease.

And of course we’ll all get to be massaged for free!

Come and join us in this fun experience!

Davyd has been working in London as a sex worker and sensual masseur for 3
years. He also works as a “regular” massage therapist and has trained in
different styles of massage. Apart from the healing side of massage, Davyd
also has a strong interest in massage as bodywork and in anatomy and
physiology.

1-2 Lunch

2-3.30 IT Skills with Ms Tytania

Design your own free website using WordPress.

In this beginner’s workshop, Ms Tytania will teach you how to design a basic, but functional and stylish website using WordPress. You don’t need to be IT savvy to use WordPress. You have the last word on how you want to sell your work and how you present yourself to your clients.

A website designed and run by yourself is the first step towards independence as a sex worker. It gives you the agency to decide who you are, how you want to present yourself, and where you want to advertise.

It’s a good way to network with other sex workers and it’s also a great tool for self-expression, so if you are sick of being perceived as a service-providing piece of meat – design and update your own website! It’s your shop window to the world and to your clients.

We will also aime to create a skill share environment in which we can teach each others how to navigate different websites such as Adultwork and Gaydar, as well as some marketing basics, to help each other be more internet savvy.

Ms Tytania has been a professional dominatrix for 10 years. As well as real life sessions she also produces her own content website, the Urban Chick Supremacy Cell. From her early days in the industry, she understood the importance of agency for a sex worker, in any branch of the industry. She has given talks and workshops on Japanese rope bondage, the cross-over between art performance and sex work, and on professional domination and authenticity.

Self defence and Martial Training.

More info coming soon for Fast Defence system training!

http://www.fastdefence.com/

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pics

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Stop the arrests during the Olympics

To answer the panic around the Olympics and the increase in police raids against sex workers, (already reported in East London boroughs of Newham and Tower Hamlets), a campaign has been launched to demand a moratorium and an end of the arrests.

http://www.moratorium2012.org/

No evidence has been found to the claims that human trafficking has increased during international sports events, however, these claims have been used to increase sex workers’ criminalisation and the deportation of migrant sex workers.  http://www.moratorium2012.org/the-evidence/

Please sign the campaign letter addressed to Boris Johnson and circulate within your networks so more organisations and individuals sign. http://www.moratorium2012.org/open-letter/

 

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Petition: Stop the forced testing and outing of sex workers in Greece

Please sign this petition http://www.change.org/petitions/to-mr-lucas-papademos-prime-minister-of-greece-stop-the-forced-testing-and-outing-of-sex-workers

 

To Mr Lucas Papademos, Prime Minister of Greece,

Sir,

Since the end of April 2012, sex workers in Greece are forced to be tested by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (KEEL).

According to Kathimerini news, the police uploaded photos of 12 sex workers onto their website http://www.hellenicpolice.gr. Those who are tested HIV positive are to face a prosecutor on charges of intentionally causing grievous bodily harm, a felony.

These practices are a violation of sex workers’ human rights, their right of freedom, privacy, and the confidentiality on their health condition. They are discriminatory and in complete contradiction with all international and EU treaties that Greece has ratified. They are archaic since they are only a new version of the Contagious Diseases Acts implemented during Victorian Britain.

They are also completely counterproductive in terms of HIV prevention and the opposite of all recommendations made in the fight against HIV.

The scapegoating of sex workers is not going to stop new infections, but only worsen the stigma and discriminations against sex workers and people living with HIV. The mandatory testing and the outing of sex workers living with HIV is only contributing to more distrust with medical institutions and sex workers avoiding access to medical care, when they should instead feel encouraged and respected. If sex workers ignore their status and avoid medical care, they won’t be able to access treatments which can improve their health and reduce the risk of new infection.

The new climate of paranoia and fear will only discourage people to get tested and to disclose their status. It will force sex workers living with HIV to hide and to accept unsafe sex to avoid suspicion, and it will encourage clients to ask for unprotected sex thinking that sex workers are tested for their own safety.

We demand:
– The immediate end of forced and mandatory testing
– The non-criminalisation and non-discrimination of sex workers and people living with HIV
– The respect of the right of privacy
– Access to free, anonymous HIV testing and on a voluntary basis
– Public campaigns for the prevention of HIV, its means of transmission, and against the stigmatisation of sex workers and people living with HIV
– The end of government cuts on health care and services in particular regarding HIV prevention, care and access to treatment.

Sex workers are not the problem, but part of the solution.

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May Day

Today was quite an interesting demonstration in London. And it’s always nice when you pick up a man to go home after the march.

Anyway… because May Day is International workers’ day, I think my favourite picture of the day is this one

It is from our Canadian comrades organised with Maggies in Toronto.

I love the message and the roses.

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Tower Hamlets strippers speak up and organise! (the fight against the council’s ban continue)

Last Wednesday night a public talk was organised in Tower Hamlets by the GMB London Entertainment branch and the Equity Thames Variety branch. The meeting was supported by SERTUC LGBT network and chaired by Linda Keitz from GLATUC and member of the SERTUC women rights committee.

John McDonnell Labour MP was invited to speak and expressed solidarity to the workers. He highlighted the double standard and the double morality between the pressure to close the adult venues because of nudity and all the companies who make immoral profit over people’s health and safety. He pointed out how the Olympics are used to cleanse East London of sex establishments while no word is said against the immoral practices of multinational companies who are using the Olympics to expand their profit and exploit workers.

Edie Lamort from Equity talked about her experience working in office jobs before becoming a dancer and the contradiction she sees in having to justify herself as a stripper while she was suffering worse exploitation as an office worker but nobody cared for her at that time about her working conditions. She explained that her job allowed her to study and support herself while expressing herself in an artistic way as a performer.

Vera Rodriguez from GMB said: “Nobody should tell us how to make a living. We want to save our job. It’s a real job that brings us an income in a time of recession.” She added: “We’re part of the community. We need to be united to improve our working conditions and stop having to justify ourselves. I’m not here for pity or compassion. I’m here to demand rights as a worker.”

Clare Roderick talked about the different jobs she did and the different clubs she worked in Tower Hamlets and Hackney. She opposed the fees and the commission the workers have to pay to work and expressed the need for communities to co-exist with each other.

Montana, a dancer in Tower Hamlets opposed the concept of objectification, explaining that while working “this is the time when I decide to be beautiful and sexy”. She argued that most violence against women happens in marriage but that nobody tries to ban marriage like strip clubs. She questions also how religions can be perceived as offensive to women and again nobody tries to ban freedom of religion. She opposed the ban on strip clubs saying: “the ban will force us to work in unsafe environment”. She added: “What is the difference if I use my body working as an actress in a theatre, on stage or in a strip club? In capitalism we all have to work and sell ourselves. I want to fight capitalism for all work, but meanwhile I need to work.”

Keith Henderson, GMB organiser, said that he was very proud to organise sex workers and that GMB is ready to make a legal challenge in Parliament to change the law.

Many interventions came from the audience about how to improve the working conditions, and what type of actions and organising could take place to oppose the ban and improve workers’ lives. The public talk appeared as a good start to better organise in the borough to oppose the prohibitionist measures. Many workers left their contact to the trade union organisers who promised to have a new meeting soon to decide the next actions and strategy.

Overall, it was a successful event, well attended, with the hope and energy to change things for the better.

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