Smart people saying smart things

danah boyd: “What Anti-Trafficking Advocates Can Learn from Sex Workers: The Dynamics of Choice, Circumstance, and Coercion”

What sex workers see can be of great value to combating sexual exploitation, but leveraging this knowledge requires collaborations between unlikely parties. My hope is that anti-trafficking advocates and sex workers can find ways to work together to combat commercial sexual exploitation. They have a lot to learn from one another about the complexities of the issue. When it comes to sexual exploitation, pro-sex advocates are not at odds with anti-trafficking organizations. They may see the world from a different perspective, but both groups want to end exploitation.

Of course, this all presupposes that the goal is to actually combat commercial sexual exploitation, change structural conditions to minimize oppression, and otherwise address the crux of the issue. Which, I admit, is a bit optimistic given the highly political nature of all of this.

Maria Mazzenga: “A Tale of Two Ryans”

Many of those protesting Paul Ryan’s budget measures cite the name of another Ryan in their arguments. In Catholic circles, the name Ryan in relation to the economy usually brings to mind another important figure: Monsignor John A. Ryan (1869-1945), arguably the most influential American Catholic social and economic thinker of the twentieth century. Monsignor Ryan provides an illuminating comparison with the young congressional representative. He and Paul Ryan have much in common besides the same last name: both hail from the upper Midwest and from Irish-American families, both have a penchant for number-crunching, and both have sought to reconcile their ideas about economic policy with their Catholicism. But in terms of their interpretations of Catholic social doctrine, perhaps there is no starker contrast than that between the two Ryans.

George R.R. Martin: “Show Us Your Papers”

It is one thing to attempt to win elections. But trying to do so by denying the most basic and important right of any American citizen to hundreds and thousands of people, on entirely spurious grounds… that goes beyond reprehensible. That is despicable.

It would really be nice if there were still some Republicans of conscience out there who would stand up and loudly denounce these efforts, a few men of honor and integrity for whom “win the election” does not “win the election at any cost.” There were once many Republicans I admired, even I disagreed with them: men like Everett Dirksen, Clifford Case, Henry Cabot Lodge, William Scranton … yes, even Barry Goldwater, conservative as he is. I do not believe for a moment that Goldwater would have approved of this, any more than Robert A. Heinlein would have. They were conservatives, but they were not bigots, nor racists, nor corrupt. The Vote Suppressors have far more in common with Lester Maddox, George Wallace, John Stennis, and their ilk than they do with their distinguished GOP forebears.

The people behind these efforts at disenfranchising large groups of voters (the young, the old, the black, the brown) are not Republicans, since clearly they have scant regard for our republic or its values. They are oligarchs and racists clad in the skins of dead elephants.


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  • vsm

    Women enjoying sex isn’t approved, though

    Isn’t that changing, though? Abstinence discourse emphasizes the idea of married sex being better for both the man and the woman, so they’re at least giving lip service (I’m truly sorry) to women’s enjoyment as well.

    Personally, I find sex kind of ridiculous.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Hadn’t heard that…but I suspect the proper female attitude toward sex is still that sex is a chore, it’s just that now she’s being assured that it’s not meant to be an unpleasant chore. And if it is unpleasant, it’s her fault for not being a proper female, rather than being the fault of whoever gave her the idea that she can’t say ‘no sex tonight’, or the fault of whoever failed to make sure she and her partner knew how genitals work and what most people find sexy and how to experiment to determine what their personal kinks and hot buttons are and how to make sure ‘what if a baby happens’ is never a concern unless they’re actively trying for a baby, or the fault of whoever told her the sex would be better if her first sex was married sex (which isn’t to fault anyone who chooses to wait till marriage, not at all, it’s just that by most non-romance-novel accounts, if it’s somebody’s first time, it’s not gonna be great sex), or the fault of nobody whatsoever because she’s asexual.

    Or alternately, depending on how one defines ‘better’, having married sex and only married sex is better for the woman because that way all the bits of herself she gives away every time she has sex go to someone who’s guaranteed (because of course divorce is Not Approved) to stay with her, rather than some going to her high school sweetheart and some to her college sweetheart and whatever.

    Know what would be really nice? If we could collectively decide that whether and with whom someone has sex is important to that person and that person alone, and that no significance attaches to having had no partners or more than X partners, for whatever value of X.

  • Albanaeon

    I don’t know.  I think cultural trends have a greater impact than simple population patterns, which I think in general remain pretty static.  But what is important is what is “valued.”  We are products of our culture (mostly) and if our culture has put more value on greed and success at all cost, then it’s going to be reflected in everything, from our highest leaders to how we interact with each other waiting at a traffic light.

    But if you’re referring to the US not being ever the angels we like to pretend we are, then I fully and completely agree with you.  It just seems that now we don’t do as much pretending as we used to, but that might be just me actually paying attention… 

  • Albanaeon

    Why would they? It was all legal.

    Mostly.  They think.  It’s kinda hard to tell with the Gordian knot that are our financial laws and transactions.

    Just ask Mitt Romney.  He’s pretty mostly sure that he paid ever penny that he was legally supposed to and if its half of what the rest of us have to pay well that’s  just SOL territory and we should have bootstrapped (read inherited) our own business to gazillionaire and bought enough lobbyists and politicians to make our Randian fantasies come true.

  • Lori

    They paid a pretty penny to get the laws changed to make it legal, but they still managed to break the law plenty. We’ve just collectively decided we’re not going to prosecute them for it because most of the people in a position to do so are either one of them, wholly owned subsidiaries of them or terrified of what will happen if we start pulling the loose threads on our financial sweater and  most average people have been convinced that it’s impossible to actually understand what they did.

    The part that really chaps me off is that they actually broke some laws that are fairly easy to understand. Fraud is not that tough to grasp. The details of exactly how they committed fraud are convoluted, but the fact that it was fraud is not tough to grasp.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    OK, I have exactly zero interest in defending Paul Ryan’s awesomeness, but as a Catholic the assumptions and comments re birth control are making me really bloody uncomfortable. The individual guy being  a dickhead doesn’t require anyone to jump to the “stupid Catholics always have a million kids or else they’re lying” crap. Yes, ha ha, Catholics who use natural family planning are backwards morons and if you don’t have a gigantic family clearly you are hiding a secret from the Pope.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    John Howard, our former conservative Prime Minister, said that his favourite musician was Bob Dylan “except for the lyrics”.