Monthly Archives: March 2013

How workfare and students working contribute to unemployment

While workfare is widely criticised as providing free labour for corporations such as Asda and Superdrug, workfare is only part of a wider trend of free labour being used.

Firstly, there’s social media marketing. When you follow Burger King on Twitter or ‘like’ the new Cadbury product, you’re providing free marketing. Many apps and sites post your activity to social media sites without you even noticing (such as Amazon, Spotify, etc).

Then there is the normalisation of volunteering. The disabled or poor aren’t being helped by the state but by free labour. While the DWP and the bedroom tax push people into poverty, Comic Relief normalises charity (which is usually accomplished by Joe Public and not by the very rich.) And because of the 9k tuition fees and the recession, many students work or volunteer to enhance their CVs. The job market has never been more competitive and it’s generally believed that you won’t get a real job after graduation without working or volunteering while still in education. And then of course there are internships which is another form of free labour and sometimes only accessible to young people who live nearby, have the funds to commute or don’t need a paying job.

All of these pressures lead to a ‘working culture’ among pupils and students which normalises holding down jobs while studying. The result is that students who don’t need money still work to build up their CVs – which in turn means that employers expect graduates to have a work history. And so the cycle keeps repeating.

The upshot of all of this is more unemployment. With free labour available through workfare, there are less jobs. With almost every student having worked at some point by the time they enter the world of work, it’s obvious that students seeking only to enhance CVs are taking away jobs from the less skilled people who actually need the jobs.

I’ve been there myself. I didn’t need to work as a student but nevertheless I did, because all my friends and many other students were working and I wanted to be able to compete for career jobs. One of my best friends has been working since he was 14 and I know people who started at 13.

What the government needs to do is ensure students have enough money and put a stop to this culture of employers expecting fresh graduates to have a work history. We also need to get rid of (or dramatically reduce) workfare so that jobs and volunteering oppirtunities go to people who actually need them.

 

Why we stigmatise teen pregnancy: teen sex and intersectionality

Why is there a stigma, perpetuated by the media, about teenage pregnancy? And why does the expression “teen pregnancy” and other terms like “teenage mother” or “young mum” exist at all? It’s because of age discrimination – the only thing pathological about these families is the age of the female parent. Intersectionality – being female, being a parent, and being young – is what creates the prejudice.

But I think we also have to look further. Because how could we stigmatise teens having families if we didn’t stigmatise teen sex? This month’s Cosmo has “Are you getting enough sex?” on its front cover, but where is the equivalent focus on sex in teen magazines? There isn’t one. The media pathologises sexting as if only teens were doing it, or if only adullts should be allowed to sext.

I think we really need to ask ourselves: “Is it acceptable for a teen too have a great sex life?” Because honestly I don’t think it is. It used to be acceptable. In fact, people used to get married as teens. Even Pope Francis – going one step further than teen dads – told a same-age girl he wanted to marry her at the age of 12. When she refused, he became a priest (and as they say, the rest is history.) In keeping with the Catholic teen sex theme, the Virgin Mary would have been an unwed teen mother.

So, if it currently isn’t acceptable for teens to have sex, what’s our justification for sex blogging, sexting and consuming pornography while we force celibacy on our children? Selfishness? Prudery? Or are we competing with our teenage kids for available partners?

Whatever the answer, it certainly won’t be a noble or sensible reason why we’re doing this. Or why we have taken the wider double standard and slut shaming trend into our repressioon of teen sexuaality so that teenage mothers are stigmatised more than teenage fathers.

Problem children – why blame the parents, not the schools?

When pupils misbehave or fail to achieve their potential, it’s the parents who ae blamed. When they skip school parents can be imprisoned. The slightest “deviation” can cause teachers to call in social workers, educational psychologists, paediatricians, psychiatrists and child psychologists to intervene the family. And every now and again, some politician claims that teachers should have yet more powers – even the power to physically abuse children in their care.

But nobody thinks of blaming the schools. If a kid doesn’t go home, it’s the parents who are scrutinised by police and interfered with by social services. So if a kid doesn’t go to school, why isn’t the school scrutinised for failing to make the child feel happy, safe or accepted? Perhaps if schools dealt with bullying more effectively or successfully made pupils feel interested in the coursework, they wouldn’t skip school. Schools are often far more dangerous than childrens’ homes, with drug problems, bullying and even sexually abusive staff.

Teachers should also face up to their responsibilities. Instead of having endless meetings with families to surveillance every nuance of a child’s natural behaviour, they should correct children at the moment of the misbehaviour. It is the school’s job to deal with in-school behaviour, not a psychologist’s job or the family’s job (unless absolutely necessary). Parents don’t demand meetings with the school every time their child picks up a swear word at school or gets bullied. Families accept the inevitable – that their kids will be exposed to drugs, sarcastic teachers and bad influences at school.

Another problem with teachers referring pupils to other professionals at the drop of a hat is that social workers, psychiatrists and the like are usually members of priveleged and dominant social groups. They’re not likely to be LGBTQ, ethnic minorities, disabled or have less common family forms (e.g. single parent, mixed race or polyamorous families). This situation poses a real threat to such pupils and their families, who may be viewed as deviant or dysfunctional just because they don’t fit the professionals’ model of the ideal family.

With employment discrimination of the LGBTQ community slowly fading (in comparison to previous decades) and the number of professionals who are ex-sex workers possibly growing (if you believe claims that the number of university students joining sites like SeekArrangement.com is skyrocketing since the 9k fees were introduced) this dynamic may change in future. But it will be a painfully slow change because discrimination against LGBTQ people is still rife and many students affected by the 9k fees have not yet become social workers or psychologists.

It remains necessary for teachers and education services to respect families and try to create order and discipline within schools themselves before reaching out to other professionals.

Claims of the Ancient Aliens series refuted

Once again, it’s time for another post on the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens series and why it is completely stupid. I’ve amalgamated several episodes into this one post and I’ll present each logic fail as a quote or claim. As I’ve done a few serious posts on the ancient alien theorists’ qualifications (or lack thereof) this will be less serious.

 

“Why else would he have written above the door [of a church] ‘this place is awesome’ unless he meant it was a portal to another dimension?”

Which is a valid point. That’s also what people mean when they say Avatar is awesome – the film is clearly a portal to Pandora.

“The layout of these three [ancient MesoAmerican] buildings looks like the [inside of a computer]”

Yes, and the layout of Stonehenge, with its concentric circles, looks like the power button on my laptop. So what?

“Nobody has found King Antiochus’ tomb yet. He must have left via a star portal.”

And maybe every historical person whose tomb hasn’t been found departed this world through a star portal. I’m not saying star portals don’t exist, because I wouldn’t know; I didn’t study astrophysics. But even if they exist you can’t assume star portals are responsible for everything we haven’t found yet. As the ‘documentary’ itself claims, Antiochus’ court was scattered by the Romans so it’s more likely he died as a fugitive or an ordinary citizen.

“The Great Pyramid might have been a nuclear reactor or a device for beaming out microwaves or signals to satellites.” (Cue ilustration of the pyramid sending a beam of light out to a spaceship).

This would be interesting if they actually pointed to evidence instead of just saying this and moving on. People should just stick to conspiracy theories about David Cameron being a robot programmed by the corporations.

“These carvings look like people in space suits.”

True, but only after you said it. And the laws of probability mean that since there’s thousands of ancient carvings there should be some that look like astronauts (or TVs, or cars, etc).

“These hieroglyphs are too perfectly carved to be made by hand and this statue is smooth with no chisel marks.”

Actually, the varying thickness of the lines and some chips can be seen during the brief filming of the hieroglyphs. And why wouldn’t the Egyptians have sanded or polished, maybe even painted, their statues?

“These stones look like they were fused together. It must have been alien technology.”

Just because they look fused doesn’t mean they are fused, and even if they are there could be a more rational explanation.

“What made these tracks? It must have been a railway or how rockets were wheeled out for launch. And his chamber was built to bounce sound around the whole cave. So maybe people moved heavy rocks by levitating them into place with sound.”

Evidence??

“Morgellon’s Disease is caused by aliens planting bacteria on asteroids and sending them here to crash into Earth and infect us.”

Can aliens control comets’ trajectories? And Morgellon’s is thought by the medical community to not dven be a real disease – it’s classed as an ‘internet disease’ at best, and a conspiracy theory at worst. The Ancient Aliens programme has a duty to inform people that it isn’t recognised as a real disease before basing theories on it and interviewing the only scientists in the world who do believe in it.

“The star that guided the Three Wise Men was an alien spaceship.”

Only if you believe that the Bible is literally true. The Gospels were written several decades or hundreds of years after Jesus died (after being passed on by word of mouth), so the Three Wise Men story is unlikely to be true.

“The Garden of Eden was a laboratory designed to look like a natural environment in which aliens created modern humans.”

See above. Also, they must refute the evidence that we evolved from other hominids first before presenting their own theory. First rule of writing an essay or creating a theory.

 

 

 

Chief Police officers said UK forces should adopt the Merseyside model in 2010

The Merseyside police have been working with sex workers’ organisations to catch violent offenders, not arresting street sex workers (outdoor sex work is a minor crime – ‘soliciting’ for the sex worker and ‘kerb crawling’ for the sex purchaser – while indoor sex work is legal) until they have offered them help to exit the sex industry but the sex worker has continued with sex work, and have declared all crimes against sex workers hate crimes. This has resulted a 67% conviction rate for rape, while the national average rate is 6.5%. So, basically what this model consists of is 1) treating such crimes as hate crimes and 2) creating effective partnerships with sex worker organisations (including using exiting strategies in place of arrest).

 

This push for the Merseyside model to be implemented across all police forces in the UK should be easy and uncontroversial – because the Association of Chief Police Officers’ (ACPO) Guidelines on Policing Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation Strategy already state that all forces should do what is “currently done by Merseyside Police, to deal with violent and sexual crimes / incidents on sex workers in the same vein as a ‘Hate Crime / Incident’” (ACPO Guidelines on Policing Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation Strategy p8). So, it looks like 1) has already been endorsed by ACPO.

 

ACPO supports the work of the UK Network of Sex Worker Projects, especially in relation to the ongoing development and enhancement of ‘Ugly Mugs’ schemes.” (ACPO Guidelines on Policing Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation Strategy p6).The guidelines also state that “This strategy supports partner organizations and projects offering support services to sex workers” (ACPO Guidelines on Policing Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation Strategy p5) and ACPO believes that the strategy’s objectives “ objectives will only be achieved through working in partnership with other agencies, organisations and individuals” (ACPO Guidelines on Policing Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation Strategy p6). Police are also instructed that they should only arrest street sex workers “[O]nly as part of a staged approach that includes warnings, police engagement with local support projects, voluntary engagements with projects, existing diversionary mechanisms and Engagement & Support

Orders (ESOs)”. So 2) appears to be supported by ACPO as well.

 

These guidelines were written in 2010, and updated in 2011. So why haven’t other police forces taken these guidelines on board?

 

It’s a mystery, but it’s good news for us – because it means that, instead of convincing the police that the Merseyside model is something they should be doing, we just have to get them to do what they already agree they should be doing.

 

 

 

The ACPO Guidelines: http://www.acpo.police.uk/documents/crime/2011/20111102%20CBA%20Policing%20Prostitution%20and%20%20Sexual%20Exploitation%20Strategy_Website_October%202011.pdf

The Sunday World’s outing of a sex worker and how the Merseyside model can stop this

Today, an innocent woman was outed in the Sunday World – all because one of her three part-time jobs is as a sex worker. This comes a day after Kalika Gold announced her and Ruth Jacobs’ joint project to bring the Merseyside model of declaring all crimes against sex workers as hate crimes and collaborate with sex worker organisations to get information about violent criminals.

I’ve been asked to help with this, and I can’t help thinking of these two things together. Yesterday a YouTube video dubbed the woman “Scary Poppins” (her other jobs are as a nanny and a cleaner).

 

Outing is used as a weapon against sex workers by the media and by abolitionists; but it is only effective as a weapon because of the stigma attached to sex work. This stigma does not seem to affect any other type of work. As I commented on the YouTube thread, why wasn’t this person outed for being a nanny? Or for being a cleaner? It’s because we hate sex workers, we despise them; but we don’t hate any other workers.

 

If it had been a gay or a transgendered person being outed, everyone would think it was sickening (the Daily Mail actually did out a trans person once, I recall complaining about it). But if it’s a sex worker, nobody seems to care. It’s not recognised as hate or phobia. (I believe the term for this would be whorephobia, but I’m not sure).

 

So, how is this connected to the Merseyside model? I believe that if Ruth and Kalika succeed, and crimes against sex workers are hate crimes, then the stigma will begin to disappear. Once they’re protected, it will be easier to push for sex workers to enjoy the same employment anti-discrimination laws that ethnic minorities and LGBTQ people already have. And that will mean that outing will no longer be an effective weapon. Because if people won’t stigmatise you for it, and employers find it harder to discriminate against you for it, then you have much less to lose by being outed.

 

What Eamonn Dillon (the journalist who outed this person) did was fuelled by hate. The fact that he (reportedly) has received an award from the Irish organisation Ruhama (which is against sex work) only makes his attack even more suspicious. The fact that one sex worker exists in Ireland is not news, and by that logic they’d have to do a news story on every sex worker in Ireland. By outing her, they are only making it far more difficult for her to exit the sex industry, because emplloyers may discriminate her and not employ her. Even continuing to work as a nanny might be difficult for her if her employers are bigoted or want their children to grow up despising sex workers. (She could of course promise not to tell their children about her other job, but most bigoted people are not reasonable anyway.)

 

This is why I hope for the success of the Merseyside model – because not only will serial rapists be caught, and not only will sex workers be safer, it also opens the door for them to finally receive the same protection as other marginalized groups, and ultimately breaks the power of the press to use outing against the sex worker community.

I’ve been asked by sex blogger Kalika Gold to publicise what she and author Ruth Jacobs are doing to implement the Merseyside Police’s hate crime model across all police forces in Britain.

Diary of a VirginWhore

In Merseyside, Police have worked in partnership with sex worker organisations to catch serial rapists and declared all crimes against sex workers to be a hate crime. The police have now have achieved a 67% conviction rate for rape against sexworkers – the national average is just 6%. Article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/dec/22/merseyside-police-sex-workers-protect

After Jemima (@itsjustahobby) over at itsjustahobby.wordpress.com sent Ruth Jacobs (@RuthFJacobs) who blogs at soul-destruction.com the link to the article, Ruth has got an MP on board with this sex worker collaboration model. Ruth has asked me to work with her to get this model implemented in every police force across the UK.

Ruth’s focus – in her own words – has always been to protect women in prostitution, and since finding out about Merseyside she has decided that focussing her efforts in implementing this across the UK is the best way to realise this goal. I think that whether…

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