Sex work is work, as they say, and sex worker rights are human rights. Per the link below, I’m one who comes at this from the libertarian side, the equal-treatment-under-the-law side, the women-have-the-right-to-choose-how-their-bodies-are-used side, the not-seeing-sex-work-as-immoral side, and the not-treating-working-girls-like-pieces-of-shit side. For the record, I’ve never patronised a sex worker (heh…did you see what I did there?), but trying to make/keep this consensual activity criminal is beyond stupid.
Read her stuff. Maggie McNeill–a retired escort–articulates things I could never find the words for and describes things far outside of my experience. But society treating sex workers as pariahs is why Robert Pickton got away with murdering women–people who were wives, sisters, daughters–for as long as he did, and why other murderers, abusers, and rapists continue to do. And this is in Canada, a country where prostitution is itself not illegal. I mean, listen to the news: recently, two women were killed in Vancouver almost next door to each other. “High-risk lifestyle” is media/police code for “she’s just a whore”, where missing or murdered women are concerned. More often than not, it even means “drug-addled whore.” That they were connected to sex work should never have made it into the news reports, because at this point in time, it’s fucking irrelevant–and perhaps never relevant. Treat murdered/missing women as murdered/missing women, in the press and elsewhere, and maybe violence against women will decrease. That they were escorts may be a relevant line of investigation, but why publicise it or change how you approach the case?
If you haven’t thought about things like this before, read her well-written blog (she is intelligent, articulate, and thoughtful, though I don’t always agree with her), and you will. However, you might end up feeling a bit gob-smacked from time to time at the things you’ll learn, especially about how whores in America are treated, and how they’re trying to export their misguided morality and control-freak tendencies worldwide, where it’s just not wanted. And you wouldn’t believe some of the stuff that goes on around the world.
“Nice pussy you have. Shame if something happened to it.”
You may be shocked at how most feminist groups, who should be staunch allies of fully-sexually-actualised, independent businesswomen, routinely fight against efforts to humanise (read, decriminalise) sex work/workers: a woman is allowed to choose, as long as it’s not choosing to take money for sex. Slut it up and fuck whomever you want, just don’t take cash money for it.
So, though this post is now going up a few days late, I don’t think it hurts to remind people that sex workers are people too. Porn stars have sex with multiple partners for money, and they don’t face nearly the same stigmatisation as someone doing a straight-up financial transaction for sex. They also don’t get arrested for their activities; some are lauded and some run for political office. And as Maggie has pointed out a time or two, cops aren’t smart enough to differentiate between hookers and non-hooker females. In some places just having more than a few condoms in your purse is enough to get you nicked, and that’s utterly ridiculous. Other stories are more harrowing, and all are because of demonisation of sex workers and the illegality of sex work in many jurisdictions. Strangely, however, most people can’t tell sex workers apart from “regular” women: they look just like everyone else. And they are just like everyone else: trying to make a living with their native skills.
So, I’m goin’ travelling. In addition to my other recent distractions, this will also cut into blogging time. Since I’m not really doing a travelogue blog, I wouldn’t hold out much hope for updates in the near future. However, the trip may provide fodder for a post I started in April and never finished. We’ll have to see. I’ve been to Europe before, so this time I’m going to Asia. By myself. Which kind of scares the crap out of me. I’ve wanted to go there for a very long time, and now I get to make it happen. I expect to be thoroughly culture-shocked. Hopefully, my anxieties won’t ruin the trip for me, but I’m trying to be positive about it.
So, presuming no one is bored at my rambling yet, I shall continue…
I spent some time adrift after leaving school sans degree. This was in 1991, when I should have convocated as a teacher, as did many of my friends. Instead, I was somewhat aimless. Employment prospects poor, I didn’t quite know what to do. I didn’t much care about other things, either. I had my first brush with what might be called depression, though it was never diagnosed as such. I scared my family by doing a very good impression of a rock for about eight hours uninterrupted one day.
I almost left university, I should say. With nothing better to do, I went back in the fall to take classes towards a degree in English Literature. That kept me occupied somewhat, and I was exposed to ideas further left than my usual ones, especially in the person of a poet I met in one of my classes, one with certain…issues, let’s say. I absorbed some of these ideas and reflected them back to the world. I learned a higher level of analytical reading and presentation. I honed my writing skills. I thought about doing graduate work, but it really didn’t appeal to me, and I had certain…limitations imposed because of my math/physics grades. I stayed out of politics, mostly, but I voted every election. One can argue that it is a citizen’s highest civic duty, but it was never something I let slide past me, even if all I did was spoil a ballot.
During this time also, I did spend some time with my poet friend and her circle. Except for rare circumstances, I never really felt part of the group, though. I didn’t really understand why, except that I knew at a recognisable level that they were not my people. Different ideas. Diff’rent strokes. Different aims and beliefs. At most levels, except for occasional literary discussions, I could not relate to them as a group. The thought of “conservatism” still left me cold, believing as I did what the media and my acquaintances told me about it and the PC Party of Canada (or Saskatchewan). and I largely considered myself a centrist or centre-left kind of guy. I had not yet realised that I was being fed news pablum, but I did have a sense that there were gaps of some sort (at least on a subconscious level).
I ultimately finished that degree in 1994, but again had no idea what to do with it. No job, no prospects. Unsure. My cousin got married that year, and the wedding was in Sydney, NS. I went, invited as relative and MC. Did not distinguish myself, but it was somewhat life-changing. I had taken geology as an elective, and I got to see out east some things discussed in class, and I began to understand the story the earth tells, if you know how to read it. This intrigued me to the point that I wanted to learn more, and so I re-enrolled upon my return: something finally excited me.
Something else excited me: my sister’s best friend, freshly graduated from high school. For some reason at that ceremony, something changed relative indifference to strong attraction, to the point that while far away from Saskatoon, I kept thinking about her at fairly regular intervals. There’s much more detail, but for my purposes now, I had something else to occupy my mind. We started dating that fall, despite some initial reluctance on my part, and she was central to my life for 16 years, and still currently has a peripheral–but significant–effect on it.
I had goals again; I was excited; I had things to do. With new things to keep me engaged in my life, I again started following politics more closely. I again kept being unsure of myself. I questioned my agnosticism. I kept thinking things the government did were a bit stupid; in my house, however, criticising the provincial NDP government was not generally wise. Based on things I understood at the time, the federal government, Liberal-run, seemed to be going OK, so I had no complaints. Quebec separatism frequently came up as a topic. For that, I saw little reason in appeasement, even with my French-Canadian heritage, so in that regard I was on the opposite side of my supposed party. I would be unhappy with the breaking of Confederation, but I just could not see how they could be so stupid about it. How little did I know at the time, but the press seemed not interested in portraying the true nature of the complaints, as I have now come to understand them.
I finished my geology degree program, which is where I developed a grounding in the historical temperature record. This (among other reasons that would take up other posts completely) informed my resistance to climate change as having any human-caused component, something that set me apart from most people for a long time. I worked as a well-site geologist for about 4 years after that, which also let me to be exposed to a larger world of ideas, including those of surprisingly-educated rig workers.
During this time, I found a left-leaning blog, one of those at right on the main page of this blog: grrlmeetsworld. In it (I can’t remember how I found it) the writer recounted her own political journey from US Southern Christian right to a leftist doing grad work at my university. It interested me, and it was interesting to read how she stopped adhering to the politics she had grown up around. A lot of the change seemed to be propelled by the Christian part of the politicking, to which I could somewhat relate, but in the other direction. I even commented there a few times, even after moving to Calgary. But that’s getting ahead. I learned a lot from her, some of which she might not appreciate, but some things continued to leave me confused.
The rigs were also the milieu in which I was when the attacks of 9/11 happened. Clear as day are some of my memories around that time, though others from that time have deteriorated. I was just coming on shift shortly after the first plane hit. Oddly, it just seemed like a run-of-the-mill disaster to be watched with ghoulish interest. And I was watching as the second plane hit. My first reaction was, “Oh. My. God.” There was no mistaking that for an accident. My second reaction was, “Those stupid, stupid fuckers.” I had no doubt in my mind who was responsible, at least in broad form, and I knew they had just changed the world in an instant. I also knew that hell was coming for them.
How many ways to excoriate the stupidity inherent in the original subject matter, to which Jammie-Wearing Fool points (thanks to HotAir for the link information)? Far too many. I’ll point out two:
The term “right-hand man” is also considered taboo by the gallery, with “second in command” being deemed more suitable.
Not necessarily stupid, I suppose, but a right-hand man is not necessarily (or even usually) the 2IC. For the world in which I live, a right-hand man, or a man Friday, is taken to mean one’s closest assistant for getting stuff done. YMMV, though, and the implicitness of the command structure may be present.
The commission even urges employees to be mindful of the term “ethnic minority” because it can imply “something smaller and less important”.
Umm, isn’t that what “minority” means? Smaller? Not the majority? It’s a descriptor that intrinsically discriminates, when coupled with “ethnic”, too, by those lights. I mean, how else is one supposed to say that there is less of this ethnicity than of the numerically-dominant one for a given geographical or political area?
Another one I like:
The National Gallery in London believes that the phrase “gentleman’s agreement” is potentially offensive to women….
Okay, sure. But could you maybe cite some proof? I believe the people wasting time on this are morons. Let me know when you open the box and Schrödinger’s Cat is offended. Otherwise, piss off. That these people “believe” in the “potential” offense offends me to a deep, deep level. Where’s my redress?
I’m going to call all this revisionist language correction for what it is: complete and utter bullshit. A small, loud, reactionary group (it seems to me) is attempting to distort language for some undisclosed purpose, and this is another cobble in the road being built to language and thought control. These terms are slang. They will follow one of two paths, as the language evolves (languages do that, you know; they’re not created out of whole cloth): they will either disappear from usage on their own (something that tends to take centuries to accomplish), or the meaning will evolve to something different and most likely harmless (also a long process).
English (and other languages) has evolved quite nicely on its own since the 600s or so, without any PC language police out there making sure no one’s ego or feelings were hurt by the nasty wordses. If they just STFU and let the language do what it will do on its own, the problem will ultimately take care of itself. As opposed to making people feel bad by exposing them to such hurtful phrases in the public media.
This PC language crap has been going on for over twenty years. It’s long past time for this sort of thing to disappear. It was stupid when I was in high school, and it’s stupider today. Let’s call a spade a spade: I’m sure if we all pull together, we can come to a gentleman’s agreement to master a method lift black marks from certain social groupings…like the ones that live and breathe true sexist and racist behaviour. And they’re not the ones against whom this new British government policy is directed.
I had the idea when starting this blog that I might spend a lot of time commenting on the stupidity inherent in modern politics, largely in the US and Canada. I’ve since realised that there are far too many people out there doing largely the same thing. And they probably do it better than I can, since I don’t really have the time to devote to it to do it properly. And from what I see, it takes a lot of time to do it right. With a fairly new job and other concerns to occupy my time, it just wouldn’t be right to do the job half-assed.
That said, there are many other subjects that could draw my attention, and I might still now and again make a political statement. It’s been a long time since I wrote a post, because I’ve been busy, and other sites have been making my points at least as well as I could. But this news item, courtesy of my default Firefox RSS News bookmarks two days ago, just made me sit up and go, “Wha?” (Just in case it’s not obvious, the supposed need to add professional golfers to the rolls of Olympic athletes is what pushed me over the edge.)
Two things became instantly clear to me:
The modern Olympics movement has outlived itself.
Jacques Rogge must go, followed shortly thereafter by the rest of the IOC. Possibly thereafter by the various international sport-regulatory bodies.
The original modern Olympics, as visualised by Coubertin, were to be a showcase and supporting mechanism for amateur, youth, sport. And it mostly was. I would say, though, that the last pure Olympics were in 1976, although even by then things were slipping. Through a slow erosion subsequent to those Games (Winter and Summer), the movement and the Games have deteriorated into greed, corporatism, stupidity, and irrelevance. I would blame this largely on two people, supported by a wide cast of characters: Juan Antonio Samaranch and Jacques Rogge.
The slow death of the Games (and by extension, the movement) began with allowing professional athletes to compete for amateur awards. It was accelerated by sponsorships and broadcasting-rights competitions. In all of these the spirit of cooperative competition inherent to the Olympic movement of Coubertin vanished in a cloud of money. It has changed the movement to such a point that the word “amateur” doesn’t even appear in the current Olympic Charter, and the charter itself states that there are no age restrictions for competition, beyond those imposed by the international sporting federations. Most of the charter seems to be about rights and ownership, rather than promoting and supporting young athletes. It has become a corporate, self-serving sinecure, aided and abetted by governments the world over. Recent bribery scandals only enhance this perception, and certain judging scandals didn’t help either.
I grew up thinking the Olympics were a magical thing. Olympic athletes were to be honoured and imitated. I’m just old enough to remember Nadia Comaneci obliterating her competition. I’m definitely old enough to remember the boycotting trend that started in 1980, and I remember being disgusted then that it had come to that. I wasn’t quite old enough to understand the geo-political environment behind that, but that year didn’t feel quite the same without the Olympics. Hearing the reports of the Games but knowing Canada’s athletes weren’t there to compete somehow cheapened the experience. I remember feeling deeply offended that the US-led boycott had opened the field for the Eastern Bloc countries to run amok on the medal counts. Surrendering the field like that left me feeling stung and betrayed. The feeling was oddly reversed, as the Soviets returned the favour four years later. How could Canada trumpet its successes (highest medal count ever), when it was competing against a crippled field? Older as I was at the time, it still made no sense. The one good thing for me about those 1984 Games was that the opening ceremonies introduced me to George & Ira Gershwin. Rhapsody in Blue is an amazing piece of music, and being played by all those pianos in synch was impressive to watch. That, Beijing, is how you impress people…not with CG and lip-synching trickery. (Beijing could take a lesson from Barcelona, also: I have yet to see something top that arrow lighting the main Olympic flame.)
I think what kept me from turning against the Olympics this completely before now was probably some residual after-effects from the’84 Games in Los Angeles, at least in part. I spent a long, hot summer as a young teenager watching most of those games, and it was very interesting to me then. What really affected me–other than the pianos–was the conclusion to the women’s marathon. Gabriela Andersen-Schiess (sorry…this was the best video of it I could find) became for me the embodiment of Olympic competitive spirit, despite not being by any stretch a youth. I was deeply moved watching her hobble around the track for her final lap, almost totally seized up, looking crippled but determined to finish her race. She knew the race was over–ultimately, she would place 37th(!) out of 44 finishers–but she would not let her Olympic experience end with a DQ by accepting medical help. It still moves me today (surprised myself, I did) thinking of it, and it sure moved the X thousand spectators in the Rose Bowl watching her that day who stayed on their feet applauding more than for the American Benoit. That was Olympic spirit, and it’s really hard to find anywhere else any more.
Two more recent incidents come to mind, and that’s about it: in 2006 in Turin when a Norwegian skiing coach Bjørnar Håkensmoen handed Canadian Sara Renner a new ski pole after hers was broken by a competitor, so she could finish her cross-country ski race, an act which may have cost Norway a medal; the 1992 Barcelona Games saw Canadian rower Silken Laumann, a favourite for gold, injured severely two months or so before the Games, and rather than pull out of the Games, she underwent intensive repair and rehabilitation efforts and participated in the Games on schedule, winning a bronze medal. I remember the Laumann story fairly well, as I was in a car accident about that time, so the events are sort of linked in my mind. At any rate I’ve always seen Laumann’s efforts as another example of the competitive spirit engendered by the Olympics, a gold-medal performance despite receiving “only” the bronze, and the selfless behaviour of the Norwegian coach as a hallmark of the sportsmanship the Games are supposed to espouse.
I don’t really see examples of this with any sort of regularity any more. Doping scandals abound; there are pushes for more sports that shouldn’t be included, and worthy ones are removed or ignored. It’s a numbers game, and the IOC rules by fiat and caprice, answerable to none. National Olympic committees and organising committees aren’t much better. Just Google “VANOC news” to see where some britches are just too darn small for some people.
The simplest and correct solution to this morass of crap would be to shit-can the Games for at least a generation…maybe more. By then maybe another Coubertin would raise again the torch of the true Olympic spirt. I doubt that it would happen, as there’s too much money and phony “prestige” at stake. But I henceforth boycott the Olympics. I refuse to be drawn into the hype; I refuse to give my hard-earned money to support them in any way, shape, or form; I refuse to watch them. I will mentally cheer on the athletes who work hard to get there (not the pros), and I’ll probably be happy when Canada wins medals, but that’s where my future support ends. Inviting more pro athletes to participate was the last straw. Since total cancellation is unlikely, I will maintain this position until something like what follows happens.
I’ll be honest, in that I don’t really have much of a problem with the age thing in the Games. I do think, though, that the competitive age limit should be set at either 30 or 35 at the top end and 15 at the low end. I’d honestly like to see the lower end raised a bit, simply because of the bodily damage that can be done to adolescents training to compete at that elite a level. I don’t know where a fair boundary would be, though. There could be a Senior Games, I suppose, for the older competitors, but I have a feeling that wouldn’t work out too well.
Doping is a contentious issue, to say the least. There needs to be some sanity dropped into this discourse. One suggestion, following a fairly lame “Saturday Night Live” sketch some decades back, would be to have a Steroids Games, where doping restrictions are lifted. As my Classics prof once told me, the original Olympic athletes would’ve been all over performance-enhancing drugs. For them, it wasn’t about sportsmanship, but about winning and glory (and oiled, naked bodies prancing about and rubbing against each other). I say that if such a thing were allowed, these kind of “cheaters” would stop sullying the “good” name of the Olympics, and honest competitors could face off against each other. But for this, there is a lot of stupidity in the WADA protocols. Pot is not performance enhancing, I would think; more performance-reducing. It slows you down (from what I understand). Cold and allergy medications are not performance enhancing. For me, even the non-drowsy ones can make me logy all day and reduce my cognitive and physical abilities. And why should athletes have to suffer through a cold for fear of testing positive? And the surprise doping tests are a joke. They seem to test people who have no record or history of doping or suspicion of doping, it seems. Is this to prove the system works? Puts me in mind of gun-registration stupidity. And showing up at 3am is just rude and moronic, and then saying they failed the test b/c they didn’t have to pee just then is far more than one step beyond. In any segment of the population other than elite athletes, this type of action likely would be challenged in courts of law. There’s one quick way to solve doping at the Olympics, though: ban the country. If one competitor tests positive during the games, the whole country gets punted and forfeits all medals won. You want to see countries self-police? That’ll do it. If the countries won’t, the athletes themselves will. No one can afford to ignore the problem, then, to say, “This doesn’t affect me.” But there has to be latitude for documented colds/medicines etc. Focus on the hard-core shit, not the stuff that might help an athlete.
It’s a truism that technology improves. As technology improves, the lives and skills of people tend to improve also. But as we have seen with the speed swimsuit issue, “technological doping” continues to be a focus of research and development money for elite athlete equipment providers (and nations). FINA has finally decided to ban these suits, but not immediately, which would’ve been the right, logical thing to do. Instead, they’re waiting a year or so. If they wanted to send the right message, not only would they have banned them immediately, they would’ve invalidated any records set by swimmers wearing them. The only equipment that should be allowed in any sport’s competitions are that which are necessary to either play the sport or to protect the participants. A downhill skier needs to wear full-length clothing; a swimmer does not. And all competitors in a sport should be equipped approximately equally. Not too egalitarian otherwise, which means it should be the minimum equipment necessary. In swimming, that means Speedo-sized trunks for men, and one-pieces for women (only because bikinis would result in wardrobe malfunctions and give an advantage to the smaller-chested among the competitors). Then you have a contest between swimmers, not swimsuits. There are other issues for equipment, but this one is the most visible just now.
Elimination of judged sports would go a long way to re-establishing credibility of the Games also. Judging introduced a human element that can be influenced by outside sources. Cases in point would be figure-skating judges and boxing judges (I’m looking at you, Seoul). I tend to lean toward sports of this nature being removed from Olympic competition entirely (like figure skating and gymnastics, especially rhythmic gymnastics), since there’s so much room for error and controversy. For things like boxing or other combat sports, judging would have to be limited to rule infractions (illegal hits, for example); the fights themselves should go until one fighter wins either by knock-out or best-of-X falls. Wrestling would still have to be by pin. And in situations like what arose in Seoul in 1988 at the boxing venue, well, that would have to result in the home team being disqualified (or pulled out willingly) to reward such egregiously-bad behaviour. But it boils down to: you remove judging, you remove controversy. It can’t help but improve the Games, especially when the competitors know they only have to defeat their opponents.
Broadcasting rights. There’s another contentions issue, along with corporate sponsorships. If it weren’t an apparent huge kick-back operation, I’d be less troubled by it. Amateur sport always needs funding. What goes on with the Olympics is naught but crass commercialism. Host broadcasters are one thing, as foreign broadcasters need to piggyback into existing infrastructure. But that sort of thing is getting out of hand, and the IOC is encouraging it to fill their coffers. If it’s about egalitarianism for sport and athletes, open up the broadcast rights and let whoever wants to pay a modest licensing fee. Sponsorships are a different animal, but with the same coloration. It shouldn’t be a bidding war; that’s stupid. Why shouldn’t both Coke and Pepsi (to use an example) be able to sponsor the Games? Why is Visa the only “official” card of the Games? What happens if Mastercard is a sponsor of an athlete, and the sponsorship agreement requires their symbol to be present on the athlete during competition? Does the IOC wish to put the athlete in breach of contract? Stupidity, stupidity, and more stupidity.
Finally (finally), no professionals. Period. All that allowing professionals to compete has done is increase already-inflated wanker egos and the costs associated with the Games, whoever puts them on. I suppose there might’ve been some increased visibility for the Games, but in this day and age, that isn’t necessary. Once they were established, it never really was. But the quicker we get high-paid egotists out of the Olympics (and stop inviting more in), the better the Games themselves will be. As a side benefit, the commercialism of them will probably also diminish significantly.
What’s a professional, you ask? A professional is an athlete whose primary source of income or means of support comes from their sporting activities. This may include the so-called “shamateur” types, as may have been typical of the old Soviet Union. The list below is probably not exhaustive, but you should get the idea:
NHL players, or comparative leagues elsewhere
major-junior hockey leagues
PGA golfers or their equivalents
NBA players or their equivalents
Premier League footballers, or their equivalents, including the next two steps down from there (FA?)
WTA/ATP tennis players
Rugby union professionals
MLB or AAA ball players (or equivalents…maybe also one further step below)
professional boxers/other fighters
I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch
Now the distinction: I’m not talking about banning young people that need financial support to be able to train properly. Obviously, their incomes are not coming from their activities. It’s hard to earn a good living as a pole vaulter, last I checked. There isn’t a professional pole-vaulters’ league. Pierre Lueders isn’t raking in the dough pushing and steering a bobsleigh down the track. Just so we’re clear. Endorsements are fine, as long as the sporting associations return to that whole “in trust” thing that figure skaters used to be limited to to be considered amateurs.
And that’s the long of it. And it annoys me that both Samaranch and Rogge have done nothing to stop the downward spiral of the Games, presiding over them as they crater into the ground. In fact they seem to be cheering on the destruction, oblivious as they race to irrelevancy and open their wallets to corporate largesse. I just can’t handle it any more.
And that’s why I call bullshit on this one.
And I still say Dick Pound sounds like a p0rn name.