Jaded's picture

Is "The Great Detachment" The New Saviour?

As a Lady who is more often than not publicly and loudly UnSubtle (why yes she speaks!) (when she is allowed to that is),  I get my fair share of thoroughly silly people who will sprout the most ridiculous reasons for the most inane things. Last week I had to convince someone that I didn't kill people who disagreed with me, that I can talk about things beyond feminism without being entirely sarcastic and the fact that I am still capable of (perhaps?) making jokes despite 'cutting off my fallopian tubes in exchange to be let into the uber cool club of the world's humourless feminists'. Sometimes I just have to say, "I like puppies" and I'll still get some nincompoop call me a 'man-hater' as a sort of reflex to using as little common sense as possible. I am sure you know the type, the one who will cower the moment you give them your MedusaGlare for insinuating you can't be a feminist, simply because you are not lesbian or aren't as hairy as the yeti or have an inordinate liking for bras or so many inconsequential reasons. What actually struck me today when someone accused me of not being feminist or feminist enough because I'm not particularly fond of body hair -- call it the parting gift of colonisation if you will -- is how deeply Western this slur was.

Feminism as a concept isn't one that is inherently Western. Of course, the feminist cannon, where you can see Beauvoir, Mary Wollstonecraft, J. S. Mill and perhaps even Elizabeth Cady Stanton (conveniently excluding Sojourner Truth) dancing around or playing cards while (existentially!) pondering over The Woman Problem In Their Respective Time Zones is as Western as the concept of SystematicCulturalDomination LiberalHumanism itself and just as problematic. Contrary to popular myths, feminism did exist in other 'culture-less' places, even in the very heart of supposed darkness, even in places as far off as India. I remember hearing about Meera Bai as a part of cultural folktales  growing up, who rejected her husband and worshiped the idol of Lord Krishna. Today, beneath the QueerLens, we can assert judging from her poetry that this was a conscious decision, involved full agency and choice. She addresses her husband's impotency in a 'religious' couplet to Krishna -- always under the larger umbrella of religious movements such as the Bhakti movement so as to escape harsher punishment -- even talks about his (small) penis and articulates the exact way she'd like to be loved. All of this addressed to a piece of stone -- her Krishna idol -- or to the ideal man of her dreams enters the realm of a Queer framework. Doesn't she fit, rather squarely the definition of a 'feminist' as we have today? Where she identifies the dominant ideology, subverts and perverts it by mixing erotica with religion. And she is a cannonised voice of sorts herself as she is seen as one of Krishna's most devout followers (no one mentions her sexual transgression though). What about those countless Meera Bai's who never recorded their thoughts, who never wrote or sang out loud? So because of lack of documentable proof, do we exclude those mutated muffles?

arvan's picture

Making Sex Work - A video from sex workers


arvan's picture

Sex workers don't need to be rescued

People will believe and accept an unusually dramatic story over and above the banal day-to-day reality of paying your rent or mortgage through sex work. (Getty Images: Sean Garnsworthy, file photo)

Organisations that capitalise on the suffering of the people they are supposedly helping can learn a great deal from the recent Salvation Army apology, writes Scarlet Alliance president Elena Jeffreys.(ABC News)

"An advertisement has run in the Sydney Telegraph this morning... certainly has offended those working within this particular segment within their community. The very last thing that we would want to do is to distance ourselves from any person in need and so as a direct result we pulled the ad from our public media," Major Philip Maxwell of the Salvation Army told a horde of media gathered in the Salvation Army cafe on Albion Street, Surry Hills.

Sex workers had spent several hours negotiating for an apology, and had a strong presence at the launch, holding red umbrellas and signs including "Salvo's Pimping Sex Workers", "We don't need to be rescued - We Need RIGHTS", and my favourite, "Salvo's = Ugly Mug".

The offensiveness of the ad comes from the stereotypes and stigma it perpetuates. The ad speaks about a male sex worker who is 'saved' by the Salvation Army. The stereotype is simple. Sex workers are victims of an immoral world, the Salvation Army are our liberators. Readers' first thoughts are "Yes a sex worker is saved by a religious charity, all is right in the world".

It is always more plausible to understand sex workers as victims than it is to understand us as intelligent, articulate and community-minded.

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