Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers Is More than Grief and Death

From SF Weekly:

By Chris Hall
Mon., Dec. 17 2012

December 17 is one of the few times that you’ll see the deaths of sex workers mourned publicly and sincerely. For the rest of the year, sex workers who die at the hands of clients, police, or pimps are reduced to punchlines or object lessons in one morality or another. One thing that liberals and conservatives share, even in this very polarized era, is that both are much more comfortable speaking for dead whores than talking with live ones.

This year will mark the 10th time that the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers has been observed since 2003, when Annie Sprinkle and Robyn Few organized the first one in memory of the victims of Gary Ridgway, also known as the “Green River Killer.” Since then, events have been held every December 17 in memory of the sex workers who have been murdered that year.

I’m not a sex worker, nor have I ever been one, but I’ve attended these events for years, not only because my friends have always included escorts, porn models, and strippers, but because I write about sexuality, and my work would be dishonest and incomplete if I didn’t value theirs. The lives of my friends are important, but so is their work.

By their nature, the events organized around the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers are a mixture of emotions. All have an inevitable core of grief. Often the focus has been on reading the names of the dead out loud, and those reading or in the audience sometimes break into tears. People die in all walks of life, but these names are inevitably the names of those who died because they were considered disposable.

“The people who are most at risk for violence are people working on the street,” says Sandy Bottoms, co-director of the Bay Area chapter of the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP).

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Why Won’t We Talk About Violence and Masculinity in America?

From Ms:

by December 17, 2012

As I listened along with the rest of the world to the unfolding horror of what transpired at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I was struck by the persistent lack of commentary and analysis discussing the fact that mass shooters are almost all angry, male and white. What will it take for us to have widespread, open, public dialogue about gender and violence in this country? About masculinity and identity? These are among the “hard questions” we’re inclined to ignore. Instead, as I listened to the radio and watched the TV, I heard media commentators repeatedly explain how rare this scenario is. How this community didn’t have a “crime problem.” About the psychological make-up of mass shooters. Law enforcement officers are looking for a motive. And people are asking, again, “Why did this happen?”

This is the wrong question. Mass murderers are an extreme symptom of a common, everyday problem. Yes, the risk of being terrorized by a lone, mass murderer is slim. But everyday people live with fear and terror in their homes. There is, sadly, nothing unique about men with guns in this country killing people every day. In the case of mass murders, the extreme symptom of this disaster, the question is, “Why did another angry, young, white man act this way and kill these people?”

This tragedy happened and will continue to happen because too many guns are readily available in a culture that is optimized for their tragic use, most often by unstable boys brought up to define themselves as men through violence, and taught from birth to expect control. Men with cultural entitlements to and expectations of power and privilege. Expectations, when not met and combined with illness, loss, depression and more, explode into uncounted tragedies every day. De-stigmatizing mental illness and regulating guns will of course help, but will be insufficient without inclusion of this dimension of the problem. In the case of Adam Lanza, yes, he had a mental health issue and had access to guns. But, unlike others with illness and access, he experienced the culture in a way that shifted his propensity into violent actuality.

Lanza’s mother’s guns, all properly licensed, were among the 270 million guns that can be found in the U.S. today. He was denied a gun in a local gun store earlier in the week because he didn’t want to wait the required two weeks. Our exceptional country ranks No. 1 in the world in guns/per capita, with 88 guns/100 people–far exceeding the second on the list, Serbia, at 58.2/100. There are countries similarly armed, but not similarly violent. As Ezra Klein pointed out in The Washington Post on Friday, “Switzerland and Israel have rates of homicide that are low despite rates of home firearm ownership that are at least as high as those in the United States.” Of the 25 worst mass shootings of the past 50 years, 15 took place here. It’s a lie to say these events are rare.

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The Elephant in the Room: Why is the Gunman Always Male?

From RH Reality Check:

by Sheila Bapat, RH Reality Check
December 17, 2012

As a nation, we are reeling. On Friday, December 14, 20 young children—12 girls, 8 boys—and six female teachers and school administrators were massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in one of the most harrowing acts of gun violence in this nation’s history. After a year of some of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history, Newtown’s was among the most sickening in large part because the majority of the victims were young children between five and seven years old. A number of writers have begun to offer policy suggestions to outline, as President Obama called it, “meaningful action” on gun control.

To truly address the problem of which Newtown reminded us in the most horrific way, gender, and its entanglement with culture, poverty, and mental health requires serious attention in addition to gun policy reform. On NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday, Shankar Vedantam pointed out common characteristics of gunmen in the most recent gun massacres including Friday’s in Newtown:

“[I]f you look at the series of incidents that have happened in recent years, there are several things that stand out in terms of patterns….the shooters have always been men.”

Why is the gunman always male? After the Aurora, Colorado shooting during the opening of the Batman: The Dark Knight Rises Premiere in July, Feministing ran a piece by Eesha Pandit, Executive Director at Men Stopping Violence. Pandit wrote:

What we are missing in our collective understanding is the gendered nature of mass homicide…the acknowledgement of ‘male violence’ without conflating it with all different kinds of violence is particularly useful, because it helps us contextualize the violence in our society as a function of patriarchy and sexism.

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Tennessee pastor: Mass shootings because schools teach evolution and ‘how to be a homo’

BTW he is a lying sack of shit.  Guns at gun shows are required by law and common sense to be kept unloaded.  Even carry licensed people are not permitted to carry loaded guns in to the gun shows here in Texas.

Imagine the disastrous consequences and the lawsuits  that would occur if a loaded gun was accidentally  left laying on one of the tables for customers to handle.

What is happening now with these right wing  so called Christians and the crazies among the Tea Baggers is insane.  It is as though they are trying to provoke something that will bring on a new civil war.

From Raw Story:

By David Edwards
Monday, December 17, 2012

A Tennessee pastor on Sunday told his congregation that the number of mass shooting were escalating because of schools were government “mind-control centers” that taught “junk about evolution” and “how to be a homo.”

Old Paths Baptist Church Pastor Sam Morris began speaking about last week’s school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut by warning that “this sermon will not be pleasant.”

“We get all up in arms about 20 children being shot in a day care but we don’t give one good-glory rip about the 4,000 that were removed violently from the wombs of their mothers [in abortion procedures] the same day,” he explained. “I believe they use children and Christmas and all that to pull on our heart strings about gun control. That’s what it’s all about.”

Morris asserted that equal rights was a “sham” because it’s “equal immorality” and that authorities should take the body of the suspected shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, “and string him up in public and set his body on fire and leave it out there to let the birds pick his bones.”

“We’re going to see more of this,” he continued. “Because notice, the first thing in America we start yelling about is gun control is gun control. Have you noticed that? Gun control. No one’s even thought about the fact that these shootings only happened at places where guns are banned. Have you noticed that? They have never had a mass shooting at a gun show, where you can find over a thousand loaded guns at one time.”

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Sean Penn blasts fellow actors for putting money before art

From The Guardian UK:

Campaigning actor hits out at Hollywood contemporaries for contributing to ‘consumerist mosh pit’ of modern movie business, Friday 14 December 2012

The Oscar-winning actor and director Sean Penn has laid into Hollywood stars for being more interested in selling perfume and jewellery than shooting decent movies.

Interviewed in the new issue of Esquire, Penn lambasted his fellow thespians for taking up commercial endorsements and agreeing to shoot films that he clearly believes are below acceptable quality levels. “I just did this picture that I enjoyed doing – [forthcoming Ruben Fleisher film] Gangster Squad. But I do think that in general the standard of aspiration is low,” he told the magazine. “Very low. And mostly they’re just doing a bunch of monkey-f*ck-rat movies, most actors and actresses. And I blame them just as much as I do the business. I know everybody wants to make some money, everybody’s got a modelling contract, everybody’s selling jewellery and perfume.”

Penn, who largely avoids commercially oriented films and most recently starred as an ageing goth rock star who goes on a road trip in the indie drama This Must Be the Place, compared the current state of Hollywood unfavourably with the early 70s, pre-blockbuster era of risk-taking and adventurousness on the part of studios.

“When I was growing up and somebody like Robert De Niro had a movie come out, it was a cultural event,” he said. “Because he had such a confidence and a single mission that was so intimate. But when people start using themselves as instruments of a kind of consumerist mosh pit, they’re helping that take over. I mean, you are a soldier for it or you’re a soldier against it. That’s all there is to it. And we have so little of that intimacy left, it’s no wonder that interpersonal relationships have become text relationships. It’s a texting orgy. When is somebody gonna sit there, with their mate or their child, and just look them in the eye and say, ‘I love you’? When is that life?”

Penn is not alone in his assertion that the Hollywood studio system increasingly steers clear of films it deems unlikely to achieve spectacular blockbuster success. Actor Rashida Jones, whose recently released film Celeste and Jesse Forever touched on the issue, has said she believes it is a “two-way street”, with the onus also on audiences to demand more unorthodox fare. “I would say there is some feeding of some – as my character says in the movie – ‘pretty garbagey stuff’, but we’re also eating the garbage,” she said. “So people have to show that there’s a mature, complex moviegoing audience that wants to see – we have to see, we have to demand the better stuff.

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Ex-Komen VP: Planned Parenthood ‘literally co-opted the color pink’

From Raw Story:

By Kay Steiger
Thursday, December 13, 2012

Former senior vice president of public policy for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation Karen Handel said that Planned Parenthood had “literally” stolen the color pink in its branding from the breast cancer research organization during an event at the Family Research Council headquarters in Washington, D.C. to promote her new anti-Planned Parenthood book.

“The public scrutiny against Planned Parenthood was really growing. Planned Parenthood got that, and they knew they needed to embark on a kind of PR-image campaign,” Handel said. “And when they did that, they decided to make mammograms and that they were a  primary of breast health services one of their key messages. As they did that, they talked so much about mammograms, it was drawing Komen into the abortion fight even deeper than the organization ever wanted to be.”

“To them, Planned Parenthood literally co-opted the color pink. And for most people the color pink is associated with what? The fight against breast cancer,” Handel continued. “But Planned Parenthood cloaked itself in that color. Their website changed to pink. Everything they did was pink, pink, pink. Wrapping themselves in what I would call, if you will, a cloak of legitimacy in an effort to gain credibility.”

Handel is credited as the anti-choice operative who pressured the Komen Foundation to end its $700,000 worth of grants to Planned Parenthood for mammogram referrals. The move spurred a wide public support campaign for Planned Parenthood. Komen eventually recanted its decision and Handel left the organization. She’s currently promoting her tell-all book, Planned Bullyhood: The Truth Behind the Headlines about the Planned Parenthood Funding Battle with Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

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Anonymous – Message To The Westboro Baptist Church

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