RSS Feed


Lately people have told me, in various ways, that they admire my tenacity. I’m getting a new reputation over the last few years. If you ask me to do something, I will do it. If you offer me a challenge, I will rise to it. Like this–in late 2002 or early 2003, a woman I admire, and to whom I went for help, suggested I apply to go to Graduate School. i would not have come up with that idea myself, having long ago discarded the belief that I was smart enough or disciplined enough to return to school. But she thought I could do it, and she knew some people at the university I could talk to, so I did. I went to talk to the women she recommended, both professors in the department i was going to apply to, and i gathered recommendation letters, and samples of my writing and figured out some ideas of questions I’d like to ask, things i’d like to study. One of the professors said, “Where do you want to go, what organizations or groups do you want to understand? Think of it as an opportunity to learn anything you want about other people and places — how it all works together”. But I didn’t want to go and study other people. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I didn’t want to insert myself in someone else’s place and poke around in their business. I did want to understand more of a big picture — what the hell was going on that there was such a rapidly growing divide between the haves and the have-nots? what was going on that women were in increasingly grave danger? Why am I working so hard, and losing sleep and not accomplishing anything? Why are women who should be my allies so far away from me? we’re so  far away from each other…Anyway.

So my friend and mentor said, “you should try” and I did. And I got into graduate school! Then I got  Master of Arts degree, because teachers and friends and loved ones said, “I think you can”, and even though there were times when i did not believe I could, I did. Then I applied for PhD school, because I wanted to teach, and there were few opportunities I could see around me, but knew I would have more in post-graduate school. Even though i didn’t really believe that I had the necessary discipline or tenacity or focus to do it, other people said, “you can. Try it” so I did. And I was accepted into the program.

Now i’m a Doctor of Philosophy. and at my defense, my advisor said, “Erin is one of the most tenacious women I know”.

Over and over, I have said, “well, okay, if you think I can, I’ll try” and I have, in that manner, taken on new and frightening and challenging and enriching adventures. I teach now, I’ve gone to many conferences all over the place — Denmark, Turkey, New Brunswick, Chicago…the only thing I had to do was say yes. And then do the work that was required.

So, okay, i’m tenacious, in a way. If you ask me to consider something, if you ask me to do something, if you ask for help, I will do it.

But I realized that I do not initiate. I wrote an opinion piece for a newspaper, based on my doctoral defense. I sent it to a couple of papers so far, but haven’t heard back. I called the editorial section editor of one of the papers and left a message on their voicemail. But I’m too self-effacing. “I think i have a unique perspective on this topic” I said, but didn’t say exactly WHY.  I don’t know how to say, “Pay attention to me, I have ideas worth considering.”

Girly behaviour, that. I am too old to be waiting around for “prince charming” (metaphorically, of course)– but here I am. I am still responding, but not proposing.

I’ll post that opinion piece here soon, but first I have to fix it up and send it to someone else, and this time follow up with an assertive phone call. “this is an important perspective, I have something important to contribute to the discourse”.  damn. the very idea makes me anxious. Why, though? it’s part of my promise to others, it’s my responsibility — it’s not just about me. I’m not serving anyone with this false humility. argh.

okay. lookit. I have to go, meet a commitment I made but have resisted. I will post again another time.

“On Boycotting Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival”

Originally posted on Anti-Porn Feminists:

As the yearly debate about the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival heats up, I have been having a lot of thoughts around boycotts, artists pulling out from the line-up, or artists who have stated they will not play again until the intention of the festival is changed from a gender/sex separate space to only a gender separate space. Artists and trans activists such as Red Durkin have made a lot of statements about why they will not play or why the festival should be boycotted, but I find them to be vague, condescending, emotionally manipulative, and intentionally inflammatory.

The artists statements, while varied, all imply that any connection to MWMF and Lisa Vogel is untenable. This claim deserves deconstruction. Let’s try playing Ok Cupid! With this situation, shall we? Let’s imagine that artists and venue owners fill out a political survey and the results will show the percentage of friend/enemy each…

View original 802 more words

Social Determinism Versus the Essentialism of “Cis Privilege” Theory

Posted on

Social Determinism Versus the Essentialism of “Cis Privilege” Theory.

Prostitution and Some Left-Wing Men

Posted on


this is what’s wrong with some arguments from the left about prostitution. Here’s an excerpt: Those who are oppressed are not often in a position to end their exploitation without advocacy on the part those of us who are not quite so oppressed. Yes, they can fight for themselves. But Baglow fails to recognize that the women of the coalition are doing just that: fighting for themselves. He says we should not see prostituted women as “hapless victims upon whom unspeakable violence and degradation are perpetrated.” Well, certainly not hapless but yes, often victims upon whom unspeakable violence and degradation are perpetrated. Is that really even arguable?

Originally posted on mirabile dictu:

… like John Baglow.

I think it’s fair comment to point out that the photo chosen by blogger John Baglow to accompany his piece on prostitution posted at rabble is from a campaign organized and funded by the brutal Irish pimp Peter McCormick. I’m sure it was accidental so I will go no farther with that line of inquiry. There are too many other accidents in Mr. Baglow’s piece that require response.

I have no problem when a blogger or any writer of an opinion piece declares their bias – “opinion” – I get it. But Mr. Baglow also points out that he “is a former VP of PSAC, currently a writer and researcher, public policy consultant, occasional academic and poet”. In that case I expect a cogent presentation of the issues involved in debating the merits or lack thereof of proposed legislation to protect communities and exploited…

View original 1,415 more words

Notes from a non-cis woman

Originally posted on Paperhouse:

If cis means not-trans, then I am cis. I have been told repeatedly that cis is a label that belongs on me, and assured by those applying it that it’s not an insult – even while in many cases its use has clearly implied that, as a cis woman, I have certain privileges that preclude me from being listened to on certain issues. What are those privileges? Julia Serano defines the state of being cis as the condition of enjoying agreement between one’s physical sex and “subconscious sex”:

I suppose that when a person feels right in the sex they were born into, they are never forced to locate or question their subconscious sex, to differentiate it from their physical sex. In other words, their subconscious sex exists, but is hidden from view. They have a blind spot.

Julia Serano, Whipping Girl, p. 87

There is no substantial definition of…

View original 707 more words

damn amsterdam

April 14, in the evening, I went to a screening of Buying Sex, a recent Canadian documentary by Teresa MacInnes and Kent Nashon that describes the recent Bedford case, wherein Canada’s prostitution laws were struck down after a challenge brought by Alan Young and appeals through Ontario and Canada Supreme Court. Anyway, the filmmakers follow the case as it ambles through the courts from the original Ontario court decision to the first appeal, leading to the final appeal of Canada to the Supreme court. They interviewed lawyers, women who have left prostitution, academics, policy makers and men who rape women for money buy sex. There were disturbing bits, especially the footage from a German brothel, you could hear a woman moaning in pain and saying, “that hurts…”, there was a bit in there featuring a woman who ran a brothel in New Zealand, where she pimped out young women–“I just said two days ago, ‘i need a blonde, younger than 20, size 6′, and then you came!” she said, crowing about her newest acquisition– and the interviews with the johns was uniformly awful “men need sex, if we don’t get it at home, we’ll pay for it. it’s human nature”  which is ridiculous of course–they were so … entitled yet shut down and cynical. ugh. But there was a lot of hopeful footage, too–Swedish men talking about how they reject that, and one guy (the guy who made the movie about the German brothel) talking about how important it is for men to care for their children, and to see women as their peers — and the women, the women who were lawyers and the women who were once prostituted and the women who were front-line workers (though we didn’t see much of them, and heard very little–I know they were interviewed, though–I know they are front and centre in this fight–but marginalized in the media. sigh).

Then we heard from a panel of women, all of them part of women’s groups, active feminists — and all of them affected by the prostitution and pornography industry, as are we all. Each of them talked about prostitution as a particularly vicious form of male violence against women, a practice of colonial rule, and each of them talked about their hopes for a future that has no prostitution in it — where women and men will be equal to each other, politically, economically, socially. It will take a revolution, this equality, and it will take a long time, too. But we’ve been a long time with men’s boot on our neck, these things take a while to correct. Don’t know when it all went sideways, but we can straighten things out if we want to. And enough of us want to, seems to me. Look at the crowd there for the film screening–the room was pretty full. nearly two hundred people, i think. There was one guy there who was one of the johns in the movie. he went to the mic to ask a question. He has a disability, travels in a wheelchair, and introduced himself by saying, “I am a client of sex workers” — that was kind of brave in a fucked-up way. And then he asked a question about how to prevent people from entering prostitution — that was weird. He didn’t seem at all apologetic or self-reflective, couldn’t see the contradiction, it seemed. One of the panel members said, “stop buying women, stop using pornography”. Everyone said that at one time or another. The guy wasn’t defensive, anyway, seemed to me. Then again, even if he was, he wouldn’t get a lot of sympathy about the whole buying sex thing. People asked thoughtful interesting questions. Of course mostly men came to the mic, it’s always mostly men.

Then i went to a late night twelve-step meeting. and sitting right across from me was a young man with a t-shirt from Amsterdam’s red light district. silhouette of a naked woman right there, in the shape of a capital A, the second one in the name of the city. I couldn’t stop staring at it, and frowning at him. of course he didn’t notice me. I didn’t go up to him after the meeting to tell him he’s an asshole for wearing that shirt, and he has some amends to make to ALL the women in his life for promoting pimping and prostituting women like that, and … but i didn’t. because i was tired, and angry and disappointed — just ’cause you get into recovery doesn’t mean you don’t stop lovin’ the bullshit patriarchy feeds ya. And i was second-guessing myself, too, there’s that whole singleness of purpose thing going on — but really, sexism DOES interfere with women’s recovery — a few weeks ago, i was at that same meeting, and another young man, when he shared, he said, “I want to tell all the men here to not hit on the women in the rooms. I heard that about 1/3rd of our membership is female, and when i was out there, it looked a lot like 50/50 to me–maybe women aren’t coming here because men put the moves on them, and that’s wrong–women are dying out there, we have to really look at our behaviour and stop preying on them” — he did speak in terms that strong. I was grateful to him, and other men said after, “thank you for saying that”. None of the women speaking after thanked him, but that’s fine, he did the right thing, and that should be thanks enough, and the acknowledgment from other men that he spoke a true thing they needed to hear. We don’t owe him any cookies. But still. I am grateful to him. I hope he keeps that up. i hope he meets buddy with the porny t-shirt and takes some care of him.


SSCAB/DSCAB: Reframing the Conversation

Originally posted on Big Mouth Girl:

[Note: There are several acronyms used throughout this post. If needed, you can hover your mouse over them to view meaning.]

In an online conversation about the use and application of the acronym “TERF” (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist [sometimes the E is said to stand for "Exterminating" or "Eradicating"]), a friend argued the semantics of calling something “women or female space” when what is meant is “space for women who are Female Assigned At Birth (FAAB).” As she put it, “Why is it OK to use the terms woman or female to describe FAAB spaces when you know very well that there is a conflicting view about the accuracy and appropriateness of those terms?”

Inevitably, conversations about separatist spaces intended for females devolve into assumptions or projections that such spaces are inherently “anti-trans.” The label “TERF” is applied to any female who admits to…

View original 4,053 more words


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64 other followers