CU Boulder students say tenured faculty member being forced out over a lecture on prostitution

At Thursday’s 2 to 3 p.m. class inside the Cristol Chemistry and Biochemistry auditorium, or “chem 140” as it’s called by students, Adler lectured for about 20 minutes before telling students she would not return in the spring.

Students said Adler then told the class that she was being forced into retirement because the administration thought her lecture on prostitution was inappropriate, degrading to women and offensive to some minority communities.

The prostitution lecture is given as a skit in which many of Adler’s teaching assistants dress up as various types of prostitutes. The teaching assistants portrayed prostitutes ranging from sex slaves to escorts, and described their lifestyles and what led them to become prostitutes.

Students said Adler told them the administration heard a complaint about the skit. On the day of the lecture, several people who did not appear to be students attended the skit and took lots of notes, students said.

Adler told her students she tried to negotiate with the administration about leaving the skit off the syllabus. Administrators allegedly told Adler that in the era of sex scandals at schools like Penn State University, they couldn’t let her keep teaching.

From here. 

…and then they came for the transpeople…

As readers will know, Greece is suffering as a result of the global recession. History has shown us time and again that with recession comes social unrest, and repression. Well, things are currently looking pretty ugly in Greece right now.

Operation Zeus in August last year marked the start of an ugly reminder of a European past that we thought we had long buried. Nearly 60 years after the end of the Second European War, migrants were round up from the streets of Greece and shoved unceremoniously into internment camps. In May, women working in the sex industry were pulled from the streets, forcibly tested for HIV, publically humilitated and imprisoned. In March, they rounded up drug users from the streets of Athens and put them too into camps. Last month in Thessaloniki they came for transgendered people.

You can read more from Second Council House of Virgo.

Living on the margins in modern Britain

What makes a life in modern Britain go well? Doing ok involves keeping oneself (and maybe dependent loved ones) fed, warm, and sheltered; being part of human networks that provide emotional and practical support; possessing the emotional and cognitive tools to function day-to-day, and navigate life’s obstacles; being born in a geographical location that means one finds oneself on the right side of borders legislation; existing in a cultural niche where one is presented with opportunities, other than robbing, drugs, and violence. Doing ok in modern Britain depends to a large extent on luck – accidents of birth and upbringing, together with other factors that are mostly beyond one’s control. For those who are unlucky, life is tough. Journalist, Laura Page, interviews five people living on the margins in modern Britain.

Femen: Ukraine’s Topless Warriors

Interesting piece on today’s Atlantic front page about these bold feminist activists based in Ukraine:

Founded in Kiev in 2008 to protest the country’s burgeoning sex industry (“Ukraine is not a brothel!” was the slogan of their first — and still clothed — demonstration, which aimed to dissuade foreigners from visiting prostitutes in the capital), Femen has since evolved into a vanguard of militant activists who have dubbed themselves the storozhevyye suki demokratii (the “watch-bitches of democracy”) and “modern-day Amazons,” some of whom demonstrate topless to, says their website “defend with their chests sexual and civic equality throughout the world.”

The article ends with this remark: ‘Just what de Beauvoir would have thought of topless demonstrations is anyone’s guess.’ Perhaps our erudite readership would care to weigh in? This seems unduly dismissive about the possibility of anticipating and reconstructing the views of a very important philosopher.

Abolishing Prostitution: Possible? Desirable?

In “Abolishing Prostution: A Feminist Human Rights Treaty,”  Kathleen Barry “argues that the time is ripe for a UN treaty to bolster ongoing efforts to end prostitution.”

Barry tells us of Normal Hotaling who founded SAGE (Standing Against Global Exploitation) which has worked to end prostitution in San Fransicso in part by offering customers who are first time offenders the opportunity to attend  a “school for Johns directed and taught by prostitution survivors.”  Seems to work, too.  Over 12 years only 4-5% of johns have been arrested a second time.

On the treaty,The Convention Against Sexual Exploitation, Barry supports:

“In addition to arresting, jailing and fining johns, this treaty would requires state to provide women with health and training programs and jobs, the absence of which sends so many women to streets, brothels and to immigrate for work.  It would require that states prevent the sexual exploitation of women during wartime and insure the safety of migrating women. In other words, criminalizing customers must be accompanied with women’s equal access to jobs and their special vulnerabilities to sexual exploitation (prior sexual abuse, poverty, immigration, war) requires state support.”

I understand and appreciate the sex workers’ movement to an extent, but feel it obscures much of the suffering of and violence against women as well as the human trafficking and exploitation that are too often part and parcel of sex work.   In other words, I support the treaty.  What do you think?

On the importance of punishing pimps.

Nicholas Kristof on Rachel Lloyd’s Girls Like US

Our system has failed girls like [one of those Lloyd discusses]. The police and prosecutors should focus less on punishing 12-year-old girls and more on their pimps — and, yes, their johns. I hope that Lloyd’s important and compelling book will be a reminder that homegrown American girls are also trafficked, and they deserve sympathy and social services — not handcuffs and juvenile detention. 

“Rape by deception” story was wrong

Liz and Ofra have contacted us with a very important correction regarding this story. It seems that all the stories on the “rape by deception” conviction left out quite a lot of important facts and also contained some key falsehoods. Most importantly, this was *not* sex in which the woman said ‘yes’ on the basis of false information.

The report shows, that the victim, B., was raped by her father since she was six-years-old, and was later forced into prostitution by him. At the time of the rape, B. was staying in a women’s shelter after another sexual assault by her father. According to B.’s testimony, first revealed in the Haaretz report, after Kashur claimed that he was a Jewish bachelor, he enticed her to come into a stairwell in a Jerusalem building, where he brutally raped her. B. was left bleeding, beaten up and half naked by Kashur.

Following the rape, B. was hospitalized in a mental institution, where she was investigated by the police. The Prosecutor’s office decided to charge Kashur with rape and sexual assault based on B.’s testimony and other evidence. When B. later appeared in Court to give her testimony, which was confused and contradictory at times, she was confronted by the Defense attorney with her past occupation as a prostitute and her father’s abuse and rape from an early age. The court appearance left B. severely traumatized. When the Defense learned that B. previously filed 14 complaints against her father and other men for sexual assault, it asked to cross-examine B. once again about the past complaints, while focusing on a number of them that didn’t result in an indictment and convictions due to contradictions in her story. The Defense planned to use B.’s past complaints to shatter her credibility. Wanting to avoid another traumatizing event, the Prosecution formulated a plea bargain with the Defense that reduced the charges to “rape by deception”. Essentially, using the threat of once again subjecting a vulnerable rape victim to a traumatizing interrogation, the Defense was able to reach a plea agreement with greatly reduced charges, which didn’t correspond with the facts of the incident.

For more, go here.

Why Men Use Prostitutes [sic]

There is a disturbing piece in the ‘most read’ column of the Guardian website today (at no. 2 in fact). It concerns some research conducted by Eaves, a London-based charity that supports vulnerable women. They interviewed 103 men in London about their ‘use’ of prostitutes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it makes harrowing reading in places, for example…

…another of the interviewees left me feeling concerned. Darren was young, good-looking and bright; I asked him how often he thought the women he paid enjoyed the sex. “I don’t want them to get any pleasure,” he told me. “I am paying for it and it is her job to give me pleasure. If she enjoys it I would feel cheated.” I asked if he felt prostitutes were different to other women. “The fact that they’re prepared to do that job where others won’t, even when they’re skint, means there’s some capability inside them that permits them to do it and not be disgusted,” he said. He seemed full of a festering, potentially explosive misogyny.

When asked what would end prostitution, one interviewee laughed and said, “Kill all the girls.” Paul told me that it would take “all the men to be locked up”

Perhaps the most interesting aspect from a philosophical point of view is captured in this passage…

many believed men would “need” to rape if they could not pay for sex on demand. One told me, “Sometimes you might rape someone: you can go to a prostitute instead.” Another put it like this: “A desperate man who wants sex so bad, he needs sex to be relieved. He might rape.” I concluded from this that it’s not feminists such as Andrea Dworkin and myself who are responsible for the idea that all men are potential rapists – it’s sometimes men themselves.

Note that the full report is also accessible here.

Sex (Trafficking) Panic?

Two stories today contending that something has gone wrong in all the attention to sex trafficking in the UK. I’d already been concerned that people were losing sight of the horrors of other sorts of trafficking. But I had pretty much uncritically accepted the high figures I read in the media about sex trafficking, and the reports of police crackdowns on it. Until I saw these (thanks, Sam!):

1. Inquiry fails to find single trafficker who forced anybody into prostitution.

2. Prostitution and Trafficking– The Anatomy of a Moral Panic.

Neither of these stories should be taken to suggest that there is no sex trafficking, or that sex trafficking doesn’t matter. But facts matter, and being right about the facts matters. These stories show that some of the things I took to be facts were not. The second story also draws attention to the views of prostitutes themselves, who have been vocal (though generally unheard) opponents of proposed laws penalising “men who pay for sex with women who are “controlled for gain” even if the men do so in genuine ignorance.

Repeatedly, prostitutes’ groups have argued that the proposal is as wrong as the trafficking estimates on which it is based, and that it will aggravate every form of jeopardy which they face in their work, whether by encouraging them to work alone in an attempt to show that they are free of control or by pressurising them to have sex without condoms to hold on to worried customers.”