I love the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. The NCSF is one of those organizations you know you can count on to fight for the right to sexual expression even around stigmatized types of sexual expression like exchanging sex for money, or engaging in BDSM.
Prostitution arrests in Dungeons and porn shops (where prostitution may not have been occurring at all) have raised much concern, and NCSF advocates spoke with law enforcement representatives to find out how they're interpreting "prostitution". The findings are troubling and are reported below.
The National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) took the decision to declassify the behaviours as illnesses in order to avoid strengthening prejudices about them, said agency head Lars-Erik Holm.
Thanks to Morpheus (of the NYC Alt Events list) and to Doug Henwood I have these New York Post and New York Daily News stories about the recent persecution of NYC BDSM dungeons and the political response of the pro dommes who work in them. This Daily News story details the raid on Rapture, closing it down and arresting one of its workers (who later saw prostitution charges against her dropped as long as "she stays out of trouble"). And this Post story discusses the nascent attempts of dommes to organize, hiring an attorney, beginning the process of forming a political action committee and hopefully, eventually, a union.
Unfortunately one of the arguments being made, and it is very understandable, is that "BDSM isn't the same as prostitution." From the Daily News piece: Click here to read more
Blogger Deliciously Naughty has recently found herself knocked up and on the very brink of adding a third member to her household (how the hell did that happen, DN?). Whether you know DN in real life or only through her writing, you know how much she loves her kink, and pregnancy adds extra challenges to vanilla sexuality, never mind activities like bondage and flogging, and literature on the practicalities of dealing with those desires and practices is rare at best. Ironically, once women enter the role of mother, it makes it even more important for them to be well-behaved and chaste.
The announcement of the appointment of a new Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of New Mexico is very welcome. Now it will be up to members of the English Department to rally round her and rebuild the program after so much public scrutiny over the last year.
We trust that good will and a recognition of the importance of placing the program, teaching and the students first will prevail over past differences . The University is to be commended for appointing a facilitator to try to bring the factions within the Department together and to overcome personal differences. Strong leadership from within the Department and the College of Arts and Sciences will be needed to support her in this role.
Max Mosely, head of Formula One racing, won his privacy suit against the British tabloid "News Of The World." The New York Times reports:
The judge, Sir David Eady, awarded Mr. Mosley, 68, damages equivalent to about $120,000 and legal costs estimated to be at least $850,000 in his lawsuit against The News of the World.
Question: Because this was a lawsuit it had to be framed in terms of a legal question, hence the focus on "press freedom" v. "individual privacy", but wouldn't this kind of thing be better discussed in terms of journalistic ethics? Instead of worrying about whether this decision represents a limiting of freedom of the British press, should the British press be discussing ways to make sure its members adhere to ethical reporting standards?
I'm all for investigative journalism, but there has to be something in the public interest to justify it. Exposing a person's private, legal, consensual sexual activity is certainly not in the public interest. It may be very interesting to the public, but that's not the same thing!
The debate on extra-curricular activities by University of New Mexico staff and postgraduate students continues in the Blogosphere. Of particular interest are those from within UNM, and those associated with Professor Chavez’ writing and teaching (English and Women’s Studies ), such as Samantha Anne Scott.
Yet there is little evidence of any public statements on managing the conflict within the English Department, a conflict that reports suggest threatens the careers of faculty, the integrity of teaching, and is inappropriately dragging students into the debate.
Constructive debate on issues in the academy is productive, unmanaged conflict is not. What then are the issues at stake, that must be of concern to all academics, authorities and students? These can be dissected on a number of levels from the micro-environment, the conduct of individuals to the macro level, the responsibility of the organisation.
This is the third piece on Sex In The Public Square dealing with the University of New Mexico conflict over the investigation into Professor Lisa Chavez's work for a BDSM fantasy phone service. In the first piece I wrote about questions I thought the case raised based on very early media coverage of the story. In the second post, yesterday, Lisa Chavez herself took the time to answer questions about the story. It is important for her voice to be heard. The comments on that thread show what a serious discussion of the issues can look like.
Today we add another voice. Liz Derrington wrote to me yesterday sharing her part in the story. She is the graduate student referred to in yesterday's piece, and listening to her voice is as important as listening to Professor Chavez's. For one thing, their stories so clearly support one other that it seems all the more evidence that the initial university investigation produced the right outcome (though as Michael Goodyear points out here we can't know if they did so by following due process because as far as we know there have been no reports about the investigation released to the public). Liz Derrington's story is important for its own sake, too, of course. For one thing, it provides a window into a part of the sex industry that we often forget to look at. I am especially touched, though by the way that she clearly and openly explains just how damaging have been the actions of people who claimed to be concerned for her. It is a reminder of how harmful is the paternalism with which we often approach the issue of sex work, especially when combined with the stigma already attached to that work. I'm grateful to Liz for telling her story here:
Lisa Chavez is a tenured Associate professor in English at University of New Mexico, where she teaches creative writing--mostly poetry and nonfiction. She has two books of poetry published: Destruction Bay and In An Angry Season. She writes about issues of race, gender, class and sexuality.
On March 24 I wrote about the conflict that had erupted at UNM after some BDSM photos got Chavez into trouble with some of her colleagues. Yesterday I learned from the dankprofessor, who himself learned it from The Daily Lobo, UNM's student newspaper, that the head of the creative writing program is resigning over the matter. Sharon Warner submitted her resignation letter and is expected to step down at the end of next week. Her reason for resigning, according to the student newspaper report is that "her colleague has not been punished for posing in sexually explicit photos with students.” Those photos were advertisements for People Exchanging Power (PEP), a BDSM phone fantasy service and did not represent a sexual relationship. The students were graduate students already working for PEP. The Deputy Provost found no reason to sanction her.
Lisa Chavez has graciously agreed to talk to us about her work for PEP, the situation at UNM, about relationships between faculty and students, about misconceptions of BDSM and the difficulty some people have distinguishing between fantasy and reality, and about and the impact this is having on her life and the lives of some of the other gay, lesbian and bisexual faculty in the department. I am grateful that she agreed to talk with me about her story:
I think I have a crush on Miss Victoria X. It's true that I don't patronize pro-dommes, partly because of a budget that, in a particularly profitable month, might allow me to purchase the privilege of a scornfully lifted eyebrow from one as she passes me in midtown Manhattan on the way to beat the hell out of some corporate lackey at the Plaza. However, were I in the market, I think that Miss Victoria X would be on my list.