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. 

More fun news about people you can shoot in the US

From Think Progress:

A Texas jury acquitted a man for the murder of a woman he hired as an escort, after his lawyers claimed he was authorized to use deadly force because she refused sex.

Ezekiel Gilbert shot Lenora Ivie Frago in the neck on Christmas Eve, after she denied his requests for sex and wouldn’t return the $150 he had paid her, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Under Texas law, an individual is authorized to use deadly force to “retrieve stolen property at night,” and Gilbert’s lawyers cited that provision as justification for Gilbert’s action, reasoning that Frago had stolen $150 from him by taking his money without delivering sex. In a police interview played for jurors, Gilbert “never mentioned anything about theft,” a detective told the San Antonio Express-News. Frago, who was 21, was critically injured and died several months later.

That’s it. If anyone needs me I’ll be hiding under my bed with a stack of comic books trying not to read anything on the internet ever again. Because actual news is just too damn depressing.

…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.

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?

Some lapdancing experiences

Wondered what it’s like to take one’s clothes off for money? Different people have different experiences. A new book by former dancer, Jennifer Hayashi Danns, and campaigner, Sandrine Leveque, collects together some stories from lap dancers and other sex workers, describing their working lives. Danns explains that in the clubs where she has worked, the women must pay a fee for working there, so they take on the financial risk – if there are no customers, the club still makes money, but the women could lose cash. Unsurprisingly, there is fierce competition for customers between the dancers, who will sometimes masturbate, or ignore no-touching rules so they can make enough cash to pay the club fee and make a profit. The male customers frequently make remarks – often insulting – about the bodies of the dancers, telling them that their breasts are too small, pointing out their cellulite, calling them names, or commenting on their genitalia. Danns reports that most of her customers were groups of rowdy young men, who wanted to show off to their friends:

There’s something psychologically unhealthy about it… All you have done is picked the woman you think is most attractive and paid her – but now you want a round of applause. Isn’t that strange?

Danns doesn’t want to see the industry banned, as she thinks such legislation wouldn’t remedy the sexist culture that she sees as underlying it. But she hopes her book will help people see that some parts of the sex industry harm both women and men. You can read more here.

Edited in response to comments that rightly pointed out the previous version made it sound as if Danns’ experiences are universal, but other accounts show they are not.

Reader Query Re Partners of Sex Workers

A reader writes:

The girlfriend of a female acquaintance of mine has recently decided to become a prostitute with male clients. Apparently her reason is that she is sex positive and really wants to do this. My acquaintance (who is not a sex worker herself) is having hard time coping with this decision. In order to come to grips with it, she would like to know of websites, discussion forums or blog that are aimed at and/ or written by partners of sex workers. Does anyone have suggestions?

I’ll be very grateful if you could put suggestions in comments. I’d like to ask you, though, to confine yourself to the question asked. There are lots of very legitimate debates that could be had over sex work, and also over words like ‘sex positive’. But let’s not have them here.