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So there’s this article up on Salon right now, talking about polyamoury’s age-old bugaboo, jealousy, and how one poly triad handles theirs.
In addition to talking about “transitivity” (which is fascinating, particularly when considered in conjunction with things like the annual Phamily Reunion that is Unholy Harvest), the author goes into some theories about where the whole idea that “jealousy is a problem that originates within the individual and so must be handled by that individual” comes from. She links it to the 20th Century (“Industrial”, “Modern”, “Capitalist”, etc) idealization/lionization of The Individual. Which I admit is a neat way to look at it if you want to situate polyamoury in opposition to a system (see: Nuclear Family) of isolation, alienation and the resulting anxiety that can be used to, ah, encourage people to buy a lot of stuff they don’t really need to buy. (Although her brief segue into class analysis is also kind of fascinating – again in the context of Queer Leather Tribe with its working class and broke-ass-chosen-family roots).
Given how frequently poly resources (and practitioners) talk about the unacknowledged power dynamics (maybe that’s just us kinky folks?) and ownership mentalities that crop up in traditional-monogamous romance narratives, how often those Cosmo Articles talk about finding a sweetheart in terms of (for real) acquisition, how the roots of marriage really are the literal transfer of property rights to a woman’s body from one man to another… I can kind of see how the author made the leap from “monogamous romance as a capitalist thing” to “polyamourous jealousy-policing as a Capitalist Era thing” (if I can interpret it that way).
Likewise, given how frequently the “don’t be so codependent” / “don’t merge”[1] attitudes show up in Poly advice/how-to books/blog-posts – partially for the legit reason that if we’re going to make consensual non-monogamy work for ourselves and all the people we care about, we have to drag these culturally-indoctrinated ideas up out of our subconscious and into the Light Of Day where we can get a really good look at them and throw out what isn’t working… But also for reasons of the (sorry) time-honoured countercultural refrain of “See how much We’re not like Them? See how much more enlightened[2] We are because of it?” – the position offered by the author of this particular piece is… refreshing. I mean, the author is doing the same thing – positioning her poly dynamic’s structure in opposition to that of the Unenlightened Squares – but she seems to be doing it in a way that doesn’t follow the “traditional poly narrative”[3], which makes it kind of stand out for me in large part because, as an insecure-attachment person, I find that the “traditional poly narrative” can be used by less-than-ethical sluts to justify unreliable behaviour and abdicate responsibility to – not for, but to – their partners’ emotions. It’s hella refreshing to see someone positioning mutual care as the radical relationship thing to do.
Bascially, my take-away from the article is that, rather than this scenario:
Insecure Isabelle stays home and does a lot of self-care and Manages Her Emotions, is generally Good, Giving, and Game, and doesn’t throw the wet blanket of her fear over her partner’s awesome Other Relationship because, really, it’s her problem to take care of. This way, Fun-Loving Frank and Radical Roger can enjoy their pizza-and-a-movie date in peace and Frank gets to think of his GF as being “so chill” and “such a great partner” because she never puts All That Drama on him to deal with… and Isabelle feels like she needs to Face It All Alone, which doesn’t actually help curtail her feelings, or fears, of abandonment.
…maybe strive for this one:
Insecure Isabelle stays home and does a lot of self-care so that Fun-Loving Frank and Radical Roger can have their pizza-and-a-movie date in peace, BUT she’s also able to be open with Frank (and, one hopes, Roger) about the fears that she’s managing and what she needs from him (or them) in order to facilitate this. This way, when Frank comes to see (or comes home to) his GF, he knows that opening with a big hug and an “I love you, it’s great to see you again” will mean a lot to her. Maybe Frank and Isabelle spend time together working out a few coping strategies to help Isabelle cut her fear-spirals short – rather than Frank telling her that her issues aren’t his responsibility – so that those strategies are imbued with the knowledge that Frank cares enough about her to have sat down and actively supported Isabelle while she sorted out what to do. Heck, it might mean that Roger is just as insecure as Isabelle, and that Frank has a Type, and that it does Isabelle and Roger a world of good to have a standing hang-out to watch The Game (football, hockey, Of Thrones… whatever) while Frank plays D&D with a bunch of buddies at his place.
This is sort of what goes on at the House of Goat (my place, fyi). It’s not perfect, and it’s not that We Never Get Jealous – or, more accurately, that we never get nervous, or have mental spirals where we imagine our partner going through NRE with someone New and Exciting and how that’s going to feel, or get anxious about being The Secondary, or worry that we’ll be forgotten or “demoted” if/when someone new comes along, or fret about whether or not someone loves us as much when they’re living with someone who isn’t us… you get the drift, I’m sure. And we do need to handle our own Stuff, when it comes up (I kind of love this post – on attachment styles, managing one’s emotions, and kindness towards people we care about – from Captain Awkward for that, actually), but it works because none of us clingy, needy, loving, introverts are willing to actually talk about stuff as a group, rather than all the metamours putting our mutual sweetie in the awkward position of Perpetual Go-Between (not that this didn’t take some doing, I admit).
Uh. I think that’s it.
Ms Syren.
[1] I have this feeling that, while Poly People as a group tend to aim hard for Secure Attachment styles and do a lot of self/emotional work to get ourselves there, a fair number of us – particularly those of us who “just don’t get jealous” – arrived at poly via an Avoidant-Insecure Attachment style. Multiple partners means that there’s always someone who needs a night with their Other Person(s), so you’re never in danger of being subsumed, and General Poly Community Attitudes tend to support avoidant-insecure people (“Clinginess” is “bad”. Safety nets and hierarchical relationship prioritization are “bad”. Don’t expect your partner(s) to deal with your jealousy issues for you) in the same way that General Monogamous Community Attitudes tend to support anxious-insecure people (Roving Eyes are “bad”. Not being attached at the hip 100% of the time is “bad”. Your “commitment-phobic” partner should totally change their ways so that you are happy).
[2] Hip, tuned in, community-oriented, endarkened, radical… you name it.
[3] Where jealousy is bad – for various definitions of “bad” from “you need to do a lot of work on yourself because your insecurities mean that you’re broken[4]” to “if you feel this way, maybe you’re just Not Really Poly and should walk yourself out of our way-cool clubhouse now” – and wanting reassurance from your partners makes you an emotionally manipulative monster.
[4] And “broken” is not overstating the case here. I’ve come across “how to deal with jealousy” stories where the person who feels insecure or afraid while their main squeeze is out with a different main squeeze is likened to a broken refrigerator. It’s actually a good simile, BUT maybe not so great if your showing it to a partner – the one who is being compared to an appliance in this simile – who is afraid that you’ll only want them when it’s convenient or only as long as they’re functioning properly by (apparently) never having any needs themselves but quietly waiting at (their?) home keeping the food (sex, romance, “how was your day, dear”) fresh.

Originally posted on National Post | Full Comment:

Who’d have thought that hookers have more integrity than some politicians? A great many of you probably — and you’d be right.

Honourable members may or may not be more prone than the average person to seeking comfort in the arms of representatives of the oldest profession.

They certainly have more opportunity than most, being away from home and spouses for long periods of time. Some of the current cohort have succumbed to temptation and are well known to local prostitutes, according to the sex workers themselves.

“This is Ottawa, so of course people are talking. I’ll leave it at that,” said Frederique Chabot, a representative of POWER (Prostitutes of Ottawa/Gatineau Work, Educate and Resist).

Some of those MPs are Conservatives, who are also in favour of criminalizing the purchase of sex — a position that would appear to require a considerable degree of moral contortion to reconcile.

[related_links /]

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Originally posted on andrea366:

Beyond the Pros and Cons of Trigger Warnings: Collectivizing Healing
Andrea Smith

When I used to work as an anti-violence crisis counselor full-time, a counselor in another agency confided in me that she was currently being battered by her partner. She did not want anyone to know, however, because she feared losing her job. “People won’t think I have my act together enough to be in this movement if they know what I am going through,” as she explained why she did not think she could tell anyone. She was part of an anti-violence movement that she did not feel would support her. She had to address this violence on her own.

I was part of a larger collective that organized human rights/legal training for Native boarding school survivors. Frequently, survivors would drive literally hundreds of miles to attend at considerable expense because they really wanted this information. But when…

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And there’s more! Elizabeth Dussault discusses the mess that is C-36.

Originally posted on Metro News:

An Edmonton sex worker told a House of Commons standing committee on the new prostitution law Wednesday that the proposed bill has a long way to go to help sex workers across the country.

Elizabeth Dussault—who spoke as part of Prostitutes Involved, Empowered, Cogent—Edmonton (PIECE) via video conference on Wednesday— said the bill needs more research so that sex workers can get “the respect they deserve.”

“What will come if this bill passes will be disastrous and dangerous, further unleashing opportunities for fear, abuse, neglect, increased exploitation and of course, more death,” she said.

Fired from her two jobs at brothels and her lifeguarding job for “being an advocate,” Dussault said the bill will further force individuals in the sex trade to hide.

As reported first byMetro Edmonton, Dussault had been a local sex worker for almost five years after starting in the industry while living in Australia.

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Hi again, folks.
It’s been that kind of a week.
My first link isn’t actually about C-36. It’s about street harassment and the policing of women’s bodies, sexuality, and freedom of movement. It Matters. I appreciate the author’s recognition that, when “hooker” is used to police a woman’s… existence outside of a home or outside of the accompaniment of a man… it reinforces the societal position that hookers are shameful and disposable. I also appreciate that the author, who is in the UK (I think), added links to the bottom of her post so that her readers could find out about C-36 and what it means.
The next one is from the CBC, discussing the lack of clarity within the proposed bill itself.
Third up, we have this article from the Globe and Mail pertaining to the lack of any response from the rest of the Conservative Party when Gauguen asked his appalling question about “freedom of expression”.
The last one comes from Impact Ethics, and offers a critical assesment of the proposed bill from the PoV of both former sex worker Kerry Porth and policy expert Genevieve Fuji Johnson.

So Maggie Mayhem has this post about “Women by the Wayside”. It’s a post about the cultural narrative we have about “women on the road”. But it’s also a post about the cultural narrative that we have about women who exercise agency and autonomy when it comes to our own bodies and what we do with them.
She says:

“There’s the rub, right? Whether you’re the woman who dared to stick out a thumb for a ride, tits for the rent, or a tongue for a tab of acid you get that message loud and clear: you’ll get what’s coming to you one way or another.”

It’s not an easy read. I’ve had harder, but be aware: The subject that prompted the post is that of Women disappearing on the highway and getting found in dumpsters. The subject of the post itself is sexwork, stigma and in/visibility. Just be aware of what you’re getting into.
Maggie also says:

“Engaging in sex work as a method of survival is seen as tragic, not victorious. You’re relegated to life in the objective case, not the subjective. When people are committed to the narrative of your context as defeat they will only see you as defeated.”

This is why I’m linking this post right now. Because I think it’s incredibly relevant to what’s going on with #C36.
It’s a post about how, for women who “presume” that we own our own bodies and can make our own choices even when they go against what Patriarchy would want us to do or believe, the presumed (presumed “deserved”?) outcome for us is rape and death.
Go take a look.
Ms Syren.


And this one. (Hi, Mercedes, I’m a fan…) I find this possibility particularly attention-worthy since, hey, the (struck down as unconstitutional) Bawdy House law was used as an excuse to raid bath houses and kink clubs for ages.

Originally posted on Dented Blue Mercedes:

Slightly over a week ago, Canada introduced legislation to replace the anti-prostitution laws that had been struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Conservative government has been trying to race Bill C-36 through both the House and the Senate simultaneously, at breakneck speed.  But the text of the bill has raised questions about its constitutionality.  Sex workers, mainstream media and even many Nordic model proponents and abolitionists agree that it places sex workers in even greater danger than the previous laws did.

But is there also a poison pill within the legislation that could be used to stifle LGBT and sex-positive speech?

Firstly, here is what the dubiously-named “Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act” does:

  • It re-criminalizes communicating for the purpose of commercial sex.  While there is said to be an exemption for the sex worker themselves, that exemption only applies if the communication…

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What the hey. Reblogging this one, too, because it’s relevant. :-)

Originally posted on Dented Blue Mercedes:

(I had to break this one into four parts, although it is essentially one article.  This part is directly preceded by Part One: The Ruling.  Part three will follow tomorrow.)

The Rescue Industry

Entering into this fray is what Laura Agustin aptly names “the Rescue Industry.”  Over the years, a network of NGOs, government agencies, law enforcement, public services, anti-porn crusaders, corporations, churches, journalists and even hospitals has developed in an informal capacity to propagate the rhetoric of the supposed sex work menace, often conflating prostitution, rape, human trafficking and slavery to the point where the terminology is used interchangeably.

Agustin regularly dissects the euphemisms and tactics of the rescue industry in her book, Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry, and her blog, including this observation:

The old-fashioned term still being used around the world is rehabilitation. – surprising, really, since the moralism…

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So apparently I’m not done for the day, after all. Mercedes Allen hits this one out of the park, offering the personal experiences that led her to her conclusion, discussing the increased conflation of (and linking to another post of hers detailing the differences between) “sexwork” and “human trafficking” and how that conflaition is massively derailing the issues surrounding both subjects, and – most importantly, I think, she talks about the importance of autonomy and how the lack of autonomy brought about by poverty and desperation are exacerbated exponentially by the secrecy and stigma that are built up around sexwork when its criminalized. Go read her article. Fuck yeah Mercedes, you’re a rock star.

Originally posted on Dented Blue Mercedes:

I’m putting on my op-ed hat for this.  The following draws from my own history, but I think it helps provide some insight into the left-wing divide over sex work.  I’m skipping over this very quickly, and I’m sure I’ll probably forget some important distinctions and nuances, so bear with me.

This is two parts in one: a personal experience for context, and then some important distinctions about the divisions among the left and among womens’ rights groups over sex work.

A Personal Experience: A Preface

It takes a certain kind of person to be able to do sex work, and that person isn’t me.  It consumes a lot of personal and emotional energy (which, when compounded with the social stigma, is probably why drug use becomes common, I believe).  It’s fine if you’re the ebullient sort who knows how to recoup and restore that energy, but I’m not — I’m…

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Hey folks,
So because, apparently, when I’m stressed I post Links Of The Day and then run back to my refuge of cooking and making art (oh, wait, that’s all the time… Never mind)… I present to you just a couple more links to information on, and reactions to, proposed Bill C-36 and its potential effects on sexworkers in Canada:
So, first, we have this piece from the Montreal Gazette, discussing – in not so many words – how people inside the Charmed Circle have routinely persecuted those of us who are outside of it. I particularly appreciate the author, Stuart Chambers, drawing the parallels between the persecution and pathologization of sexworkers (and the junk “research” used to back up the claims underpinning those attacks) and the persecution and pathologization of homosexuals and people who practice masturbation in previous centuries. Give it a read.
And secondly (only two today), we have the definition of What Constitutes “Sexual Services” according to C-36. The link goes to a PDF of MacKay’s Technical Paper on the whole bill. The definition is on the sixth page, about half-way down.
The short version is:
If there’s “sexual contact” (hand-job, lap-dance, full service escorting, S/M play) between the client and the provider, OR if the client and the provider are in a private space and the client or the provider is touching themselves (peepshow? private dance?), these constitute “sexual services”. Stripping (on the main stage, I guess?) and porn don’t constitute “sexual services” (although I have no idea where something like camming would play into this).
Right. So here’s where I’m at when it comes to this definition: On the one hand, yes, I admit I’m kind of relieved that my lingerie-modeling for Dudes With Cameras isn’t on the table as a possible criminal activity. That’s a big relief since, until I read the technical paper, all I had to go on was “sexual services” and, seriously, that is a very broad freaking term.
None the less: I gather that some of the witnesses at #JustC36 in Parliament, folks from the Adult Entertainment Industry (so strip clubs and porn?) were distancing the services they provide from other forms of sexwork. Think of the old distinction between “sex trade” and “skin trade”, if that’s any help.
This doesn’t stop being my fight just because my particular end of the amobea is in the clear.
I leae you with that tiny bit of food for thought.
Ms Syren.