This month, we're posting a series of gift guides to highlight the work of our favorite artists and groups, plus to offer ideas for finding presents for the people you love. This edition of Bitch in a Box is a gift guide for winter hibernators.
By Mychal and Sesali
Man charged with 31 felony counts of conspiracy, identity theft and extortion as a result of his “revenge porn” website.
Here’s Lori being incredible in an interview with The WILD Magazine. And check out Zerlina on the list of the most epic feminist moments of 2013!
In a mockery of the very idea of this prize, no one in the Feministing crew was named TIME’s Person of the Year. Please help to restore justice to the world by donating to our Kickstarter and helping us rich our stretch goal of $50,000.
December 11 is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Annie Jump Cannon, whose progress in her chosen field of astronomy was sometimes thwarted because of her gender or deafness. She worked more than 40 years at the Harvard Observatory. She developed a classification system adopted by the international astronomical community -- and did not receive a full faculty appointment at Harvard until she was 75 years old. Learn more: Annie Jump Cannon
Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Paula Nicol from the English Collective of Prostitutes, which campaigns for the abolition of the prostitution laws which criminalize sex workers and their families, and for economic alternatives and higher benefits and wages.
I have worked as a sex worker in at least ten different flats in Soho over the last six years. To my great fortune I wasn’t there on Wednesday 4 December when 200 police raided the walk-up flats.
I saw that Met police commander Alison Newcomb said the raids were “not about the prosecution of prostitutes” but to “to close brothels where we have evidence of very serious crimes happening, including rape and human trafficking.” I say to her: “show us the victims.” I haven’t heard of one arrest for rape or trafficking. Instead some of my friends were held for 23 hours and bullied into accepting cautions for criminal offences. Other women I know were taken to a “place of safety” despite them saying that they weren’t being forced to work.
Westminster council backed the raids saying it aimed to “help any vulnerable woman” and that “their safety is paramount.” If the aim was to help victims why did the police break down doors and handcuff women while they searched premises? Why did they bring the media with them, which then published photos identifying women?
Soho is one of the safest places to work. This action will force women out onto the street where it is 10 times more dangerous. Most of the women who have been evicted are mothers and grandmothers who have now lost their livelihood.
Closure orders against sex workers flats are trundling their way through court. One was granted yesterday and approximately seven more are scheduled over the next two weeks. Meanwhile the flats remain closed. In order to get a closure order the police have to show that prostitution offences are being committed on the premises, namely “causing and inciting prostitution” and “controlling prostitution”. Two women gave evidence yesterday to say that they were working independently, found out about the job from a friend or by knocking on the door of the flat and asking for a job, that they decided which days they would work, could turn down clients and crucially, far from being controlled by a maid they wanted to work with her because she helped protect them from attack. Police evidence said that normal employment practices such as “being required to work certain days of the week, between certain times, charge a specific amount of money for each service” (which the police say is “treating the sex worker as a commodity rather than a human”) all adds up to us being controlled. We take great offence at this. Does what we say about our own situation not matter?
We have heard this before. In the run up to the 2010 Policing and Crime Act, prominent feminists, including those in government claimed that 80% of women in prostitution are trafficked. When we protested that we are working to support ourselves and our families, often our families in our home country, we were told that “you don’t realise that you are a victim.”
I came to the UK from Romania. I came with my boyfriend and knew I was going to work in the sex industry. I was not trafficked. But when I got here I got into trouble. My boyfriend turned violent. When I tried to get the police to help they wouldn’t do anything. I escaped by my own efforts. I kept working in the sex industry, but for myself, keeping my own money and setting my own times. I did this partly because racism against immigrants means I couldn’t get another job. I don’t want to stay in this job forever. I am terrified that if I get caught up in a police raid, it will come out what I do for a living. Can you believe that the police who claim to have our interests at heart went to the home of one of the women arrested during those raids and told her daughter what she did? Vindictive!
Evictions and closures of sex workers’ flats are opposed by many other Soho residents and businesses because they feel that if the “girls” go, the whole character of the historic area will change. It is this unique, diverse and tolerant community – immigrant, LGBTQ venues, small independent businesses, theatres – which attracts many visitors from around the world. The raids, like the bedroom tax and benefit cap, are socially cleansing Soho for the super rich.
I was raised by an educator. My Granny was a teacher and my sister followed her career path, later becoming an assistant principal. Growing up I
wasn’t disciplined for too many things was disciplined the most for fucking up in school. If my mother or grandmother got word that I was even late for a class too many times I could expect to grounded swiftly. For my parents (my grandmother was one of my parents), education was the righteous path and college was the promised land. When senior year of high school came around I had already decided which school I wanted to go, which ones I would apply to so I’d have options, and which program of study I would enter upon my arrival. Back then, when I had dreams of being a fancy OB-GYN, I was sure that my family was right: that a college education was the only right way to go after high school.
Imagine my surprise then to find out that it would really take 2 major changes, one semester off school (and unemployed), plus a transfer to another institution to get me to through the 6 year (SIX YEAR!) struggle that left me $60,000 in debt. Needless to say, I’m no longer wrapped up in the romance novel happy ending that college is supposed to offer. I think that schools and parents should be equipping students with information, support, and resources to develop sustainable plans for their futures, especially if college is not an option.
A recent NPR story, however, is reporting that parents aren’t feeling the support pour in for daughters who might join in on the collective “fuck college” cry.
“A new poll from NPR, the Harvard School of Public Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds that the majority of parents feel their child’s school is preparing students for college. But 4 in 10 say that schools do not sufficiently prepare students who will not attend college — and parents of girls are even more likely to be concerned than parents of boys…
…Many Trades Remain Male-Dominated
Students today face the same question, and it’s especially frustrating for young women, Simpson says. They face more hurdles, both real and perceived. Women, after all, are still a tiny minority in well-paying trades like plumbing, welding and masonry.”
The gender wage gap is obviously real and can haunt women in the workforce, especially in the long run. But I wonder if this cycle is fed before women even enter the workforce. Is it more feasible for a woman to go on to college right after high school because our society is telling them that they aren’t good with their hands? Is it because they don’t see themselves represented in fields where that’s what’s required? Is it because their families are not supporting their choices to enter fields like “masonry” and plumbing? Or is it because we, as a society aren’t able to create a narrative of success that doesn’t revolve a degree of higher education? I’m willing to bet that it’s a dangerous combination of all of these.
And I think high schools are in on it, adding another layer. Growing up in Chicago schools were always either considered “college prep” or “trade” schools. More often than not, alternative schools (where students with learning or behavioral problems were sent) offered “trade training.” Entering a trade, as opposed to going to college, seemed to conjure images of dead end jobs for people who couldn’t do the “right thing,” whatever that is. As an adult, I’d like to re-envision the role of guidance counselors at high schools. One that obviously does not support sexist about where women should/shouldn’t or can/can’t work. Guidance counselors should help students create a sustainable plan for their future, at least for the next few years. And that plan should take their strong skills, interests, and socioeconomic position into consideration; in addition to their grades and behavioral rap sheets.
Where: The Muse Ballroom (1700 W. Beverly, Salina, KS)
Where: The Muse Ballroom (1700 W. Beverly, Salina, KS)
The New Zealand landscape hosts a parallel fantasy world: The Lord of the Rings' Middle Earth. (photo by Hannah Strom)
Where: Walnut Room (HCC Student Union)