Tag Archive: Activism


I’d have posted this sooner, but (a) I was out of town at Unholy Harvest, and (b) I haven’t had internet access since last Thursday afternoon (it was hooked up in the new house yesterday, but only started working this morning).
 
Nyk Morrigan has been found. She’s safe, she’s okay enough to be able to talk to people on the phone. I have no other details and I don’t need any.
 
Thank you to everyone who spread the word, re-blogged, and sent the Woo her way. I was so sure that her body would be pulled out of the river, and I can’t entirely express how happy and relieved I am to have been wrong about that.
 
Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!
 
 
On a related note: If you would like other people to experience this kind of relief, or you want to “pay it forward” in some way, you might consider donating to the No More Stolen Sisters campagne at Amnesty International, and spreading the word when other women and girls – like Diamond Saddleback, below – go missing.
 

Diamond Saddleback
15 years old
Black hair, brown eyes, indiginous
5’6″, 120lbs
Scar on right cheek
Pierced nose, pierced lip
Last seen on October 7th, in Red Deer, Alberta
Wearing: jeans, white sneakers, and a black hoodie


 
Diamond Saddleback
15 years old
Black hair, brown eyes, indiginous
5’6″, 120lbs
Scar on right cheek
Pierced nose, pierced lip
Last seen on October 7th, in Red Deer, Alberta
Wearing: jeans, white sneakers, and a black hoodie
If you have any information that will help find her, please call:
Red Deer Police at: 403-343-5575
OR
Crime Stoppers at: 1-800-222-8477
You can also get in touch with Crime Stoppers through their website.

So… Being a kinky dyke, I’m kind of swimming in safer sex stuff all the time. Which doesn’t mean that I and others don’t screw things up on occasion. I’ve mopped up the last traces of blood play after taking my gloves off, for example. I’ve had unprotected sex with a hook-up in my early 20s, and I’m aware that fluid bonding, while it’s a harm-reduction method, isn’t necessarily as safe-making as we’d like to think it is. I’ve known more than one woman who accidentally got her girlfriend pregnant because, contrary to popular belief, T-blockers aren’t a particularly effective form of birth control. (Maybe someone who’s on them can shoot me some stats about that?)
 
None the less, I tend to forget that us Queerdos get a LOT more safer-sex-ed targetted at us as adults than the het population does. Which is… funny, really, given how much hetero sex is the default assumption, particularly during one’s teens when that’s all you get in school (and everywhere, but really: school).
Anyway. With all of the above in mind, here’s a little tiny bit of local information that may be relevant to Ottawa people’s interests:
 
Places where You Can Get Free Condoms (and other barrier protection) + not-so-free Emergency Contraception:
 
The AIDS Committee of Ottawa (ACO) – will GIVE you roll-on condoms, insertable condoms, and dams if you just go in an ask. BYO trick-or-treat bag. 🙂 It’s at 251 Bank St, between Cooper and Lisgar, on the 7th floor.
 
Planned Parenthood Ottawa will give you free roll-on condoms and cheap/free insertable condoms. Not sure if they’ve got dams or not. They may have emergency contraception (2-pill version) available at reduced rates, but call to make sure. They’re on Riverside, just off Bank.
 
Community Health Centres (link goes to a list of Ottawa CHCs) routinely make roll-on condoms available free-for-the-taking in their rest rooms and/or by request.
 
The Sexual Health Centre at 179 Clarence will hand out free condoms and has Plan B (specifially that brand) available. They can also do IUD insertion and may have hormonal (I think) contraception available at reduced cost if you qualify.
 
If you are under 25 and street involved, the Youth Services Bureau on Besserer St, near the Redeau Centre, has a couple of regular sexual health clinic-nights (via Ottawa Public Health) and also has safer sex supplies – including latex dams + roll-on and insertable condoms – available through their HIV/HepC Prevention Education Program and their Youth Health Clinic.
 
Call your neighbourhood pharmacy to ask if they have over-the-counter (2-pill method) emergency contraception available (assume $35-$40/dose).
 
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ADD TO THE ABOVE LIST.
 
RELATED: Here is a handy cartoon that explains how Emergency Contraception works.
 
 
STI Testing:
The Sexual Health Clinic at 179 Clarence Street can do rapid, anonymous HIV testing, plus tests for All The Things – although most of them will take up to three weeks to get results.
 
Ottawa Sexual Health has a number of satelite clinics (include youth-specific and gay-men-specific ones) around town, the list of-which is available about 1/3 of the way down this page. They offering confidential STI testing though not specifically “rapid” or “annonymous” HIV testing.
 
Your local CHC will also do STI testing but, depending on your risk level and how many tests you want done, they may suggest that you go to the Sexual Health Clinic (E.G.: If you are “low risk” and want a batery of tests for Peace of Mind reasons, you may want to just go straight to Clarence Street).
 
PEPPost-Exposure Prophylaxis – is available at an emergency room near you and can be obtained – sometimes with difficulty, so don’t take No for an answer – if you are worried that you may have been exposed to HIV.
 
 
Abortions, Carrying To Term, and Other Stuff:
 
The Morgentaler Clinic – covered by OHIP, among other things.
 
Sister Zeus – An online compendium of fertility-related Herbal Stuff that may be of interest to you or people you know. NOTE: You may wish to consult your doctor, if you want to go this route as, iirc, measurements aren’t particularly exact. (Check and see, I could be wrong).
 
If you are pregnant and want to carry to term, you might want to talk to some of the many midwives in the Ottawa area. Or go with an Ob/Gyn, that works, too. 🙂
 
The Ottawa Fertility Centre has a page about acquiring sperm if you want to get pregnant but don’t have a donor/co-parent involved already.

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.”

nbsp;
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.
 
 
Cheers,
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.

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. 🙂

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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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.
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.

Okay, folks. It’s a beautiful, if slightly rainy, day outside. A big part of me wants to shut this computer down, take a walk, and see if I can’t bring home another litre+ of service berries before the season’s over. Another part of me is glued to Twitter, watching the debate around proposed Bill C-36. And another part of me just wants to hole up in an arm chair with a good novel and some chocolate chip cookies, and try to pretend that my country isn’t being force-marched farther and farther into an oil-poisoned, woman-hating, bible-belt version of reality by a bunch of people whose motives just… How can anybody be that appalingly short-sighted, narrow-minded, and cruel???
Seriously. Ignorance isn’t blissful, but it’s got to be less exhausting than this nail-biting cocktail of fury and despair.
 
So. In the interests of signal-boosting, if nothing else, here are some links about the “Canadian Model” proposed by the Conservatives in response to the Bedford Decision.
 
First, from Tits and Sass, we have Canada’s Doomed Compromise On Prostitution Laws.
 
NOW Toronto offers this piece, suggesting that the Conservatives have deliberately proposed a bill that goes 10% against the spirit of the Bedford Decision specifically in order to be able to run on an anti-prostitution (or “anti-trafficking[1]”) platform in the upcoming federal election.
 
The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association has this reaction to Bill C-36.
 
Kwe Today has this piece (and this piece) about C-36 and its potential repercussions should it ever be made into law.
 
Pivot Legal offers this explanation of the bill (for those who would like a review), as well as this letter, signed by over 200 legal experts, criticizing the Conservatives’ proposed bill.
 
POWER has teamed up with Pivot Legal to produce this eleven-page document: Sexworkers and Bill C-36: Social Science Evidence detailing the ways in which the proposed law will harm sexworkers, thus flying in the face of the Bedford Decision. (NOTE: They have a number of other relevant texts on their website, which I encourage you to check out).
 
 
So there you go. Some not-so-light reading for you all.
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Becasue clearly the best way to help people who have been coerced into sex is to criminalize and marginalize and shame them even more. Genius dudes. Absolute genius.

So, after a morning spent working as a Professional Naked Chick, I came home to the news that Peter MacKay had tabled Bill C-36 the inapropriately named “Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons” act.
 
The full text of the bill is, in theory, available through Open Parliament, though I haven’t got a link for it yet.
You can learn what the proposed legislation means, and how it flies in the face of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, over at Pivot Legal.
 
POWER has issued a press release regarding the proposed legislation, and you can read it here.
 
I don’t even know where to start.
So fuck it.
I’m going to yoga and I’ll come back to this another day.

So, you may have come across news of this situation in Nigeria already. The situation is that 234 girls were kidnapped from their school, where they were sitting their physics exam, and their government is doing fuck-all to even look for them.
 
There’s a petition to be signed, here, in the hopes of internationally embarassing the Nigerian government into trying to find them.
 
You can sign that petition, tweet about the situation using hashtags like #helpthegirls and #bringbackourdaughters, and contacting Joy Uche Angela Ogwu (Permanent Secretary of Nigeria to the UN) – I think your best bet for that is to write to ogwu [at] un [dot] org, but I’m not sure. CCing your letter to womenwatch [at] unwomen [dot] org isn’t going to hurt and you could also try CCing the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) at civilsociety [at] ohchr [dot] org, nationalinstitutions [at] ohchr [dot] org and vstefanov [at] ohchr [dot] org (that last is for Vladlen Stefanov, Chief of the National Institutions and Regional Mechanisms Section).
 
All that being said, I’m writing this in Canada, and we have a pretty awful track record, over the past 20 years or so, with regards to not looking for missing women in our own country. To that end, I’m also directing to you this petition calling for a national Inquiry into missing and murdered Indiginous women and girls here because we really freaking need one.
 
In addition to signing that petition, you can also contact the Ministers for Status of Women and Aboriginal Affairs and Nothern Development directly (links go to contact information, including email), and/or get in touch with Guillermo Enrique Rishchynski Oller (either Rishchynski-Oller [at] un [dot] org OR possibly oller [at] un [dot] org) witha CC to the same folks at the UN office of Human Rights (see above). You can also tweet about using hastags like #mmiw, #nationalinquiry, and #canpoli.
 
 
Thanks folks,
Ms Syren.