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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

On the anti-PAP bloc in Singapore

"the segment of Singaporeans who would vote against the PAP comprise an unstable coalition of liberal progressives and what I would call "anything but the PAP". The problem is that the liberals still comprise a minority within this segment. Even though I do not have concrete statistical results, a sampling of the anti-PAP media will show you that the number of anti-PRC comments far outweigh any comments that express concern for their working conditions"

Monday, December 10, 2012

Do we actually want to rid Europe of its sex workers?

Do we actually want to rid Europe of its sex workers?

""Towards a Europe free from prostitution" – this is the call from the European Women's Lobby, a coalition of some 200 women's rights NGOs from across the EU, which met at the European parliament last week to launch their campaign. And to build a world where sex is no longer commodified and pleasure is freely exchanged is indeed a laudable feminist project. But we make our lemonade with the lemons we're given, and 21st-century capitalism, under which women's economic and social rights remain grossly circumscribed, does not lend itself to the foundation of such a utopia. So you'll forgive me for concluding that the Women's Lobby might as well be demanding a Europe free from vaginas.

At the launch conference, the lobbyists also heard assessments of the competing policies in Sweden and the Netherlands. Though not designed for societies free from sex work, these represent the two most widely recognised models for reducing violence against and exploitation of sex workers. In 1999, Sweden became the first country in the world to criminalise the buying, but not the selling, of sexual services. By contrast, under the Dutch approach prostitution has been legal and state-regulated for over a decade...

The trouble is that this is not a morally neutral discussion – prostitution provokes that almighty feminist fissure. Are you a rescuer, for whom one woman's willing wage-earning cannot trump the plight of the exploited, drug-addicted abuse survivor? Or an enabler, swallowing whole the inevitability of sex work, mythologising the happy hooker, or daring to suggest that in times of recession plenty of working-class women feel themselves but one step away from the oldest profession?

The experience of sex workers themselves is instructive about both models. A crackdown on clients forces them to work in the shadows, beyond the protection of the law. Legalisation sets up a two-tier system. Women working outside the toleration zones face the same dangers as before. Those working within them have less control over their conditions, pay higher taxes and essentially cede to the state as their pimp. Sex workers themselves say this, but sex workers are not always listened to. Perhaps because what they say doesn't always suit those who claim to advocate on their behalf.

Meanwhile, hard facts are hard to come by. Research is limited, inconclusive or methodologically dodgy, with data plucked out of context and moulded to one agenda or another. The oft-cited Home Office statistic that more than half of prostitutes have been raped or seriously sexually assaulted is in fact taken from two relatively small sample studies of street workers...

So who do we mean when we speak about sex workers? A Europe free from prostitution, after all, means a Europe free from prostitutes. The collective imagination offers polar opposites: the highly educated, economically savvy Belle de Jour and the trafficked eastern European innocent, robbed of her passport and imprisoned in a brothel. Both of these are, to an extent, fantasies of what non-sex-workers would like a prostitute to look like. And they ignore the huge variety of women who want protection from exploitation without being treated like a disease to be wiped out in order to end the oppression of all women. Pity is seldom far away from contempt...

In July a report by the UN-backed Global Commission on HIV and the Law recommended that all countries decriminalise private and consensual adult sexual behaviours, including same-sex sexual acts and voluntary sex work. It specifically stated that this should also apply to the Swedish model, concluding that criminalising the buying of sex had actually worsened the working lives of prostitutes in that country. Decriminalisation, which is very different to legalisation, has been in place in New Zealand since 2003. Safety has improved, the segregation that occurs with tolerance zones has been avoided, and there has been no increase in prostitution.

In Brussels, the European Women's Lobby described prostitution as "a form of violence, an obstacle to equality, a violation of human dignity, and of human rights". And for too many women, it is. But that will not change until it is also accepted that prostitution is also, for some, the best economic choice."

Sunday, December 09, 2012

SG Tipsy Trivia

SG Tipsy Trivia

Join us for the only pub quiz in Singapore with a Singaporean theme!

Date: Thu 27 Dec 2012
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: The Pigeonhole, 52/53 Duxton Road
Fee: S$5 per player, no more than 6 players per team


The most fun you can have on Duxton Road on a Thursday night!

Not everyone bothers about the important things, like how long a pig's orgasm is, or the National Day Parade themes from 1965 till today.

But if matters like these are everyday knowledge for you and your friends, then join us at The Pigeonhole on Thu, 27 Dec 2012 at 7.30pm for a night of Singapore-themed Tipsy Trivia!

It's the only pub quiz in town with a Singaporean theme, in which each category has six Singapore-themed questions and four international-themed questions.

For $5 per player, your team of six players gets to flex your brains over six rounds of trivia.

What's more - the winning team stands a chance of bringing home six bottles of beer along with 60% of the pot for the evening!

You'll also be joining the quiz for a good cause - as The Pigeonhole needs to raise $15,000 to carry on operations, we'll be donating 40% of the pot to keep The Pigeonhole alive!

So do join us - because, really: how much more fun can you get up to on Duxton Road on a Thursday night?

Singapore-themed Tipsy Trivia!

Thu, 27 Dec 2012
The Pigeonhole
Price: $5 per player (max. of six players per team)

Top Prize: One bottle of beer per player + 60% of evening's pot

Remainder i.e. 40% of pot goes to saving The Pigeonhole.

Email us at eisenteo@gmail.com to reserve a table for your team. There are limited spots so reserve your table now!

(Facebook event)

(I am one of the organisers for this event)

A new height in sick shit

Despite all my years on the Internet, I still sometimes come across stuff that shocks even me.

This time, it is the source of this animated gif called "Oh children, it's Dinner Time":

Uploaded with ImageShack.us

The highlights reel (1:17) is titled "Video WTF Of The Week":

In its full glory:

One of the videos of this... performance has the description "une bonne raison d'aimer la dance contemporaine" ("a good reason to love contemporary dance")

There seems to be another version of the dance under the same name ("(HQ) Part 1. Body Remix - Goldberg Variations, Marie Chouinard.") I haven't yet decided if it's marginally more or marginally less disturbing, but there're certainly more people onstage.

Naturally, there is an academic interpretation to all this:

The In-tensions of Extensions: Compagnie Marie Chouinard's bODY rEMIX/ gOLDBERG vARIATIONS

"This essay explores the affective intensity of movement in a recent choreography by noted French Canadian choreographer Marie Chouinard. In bODY rEMIX/ gOLDBERG vARIATIONS, dancers perform with all manners of prosthetics and bodily extensions--crutches, ski poles, coat racks, pointe shoes worn by men and women, on one or two feet or on hands--to a score that remixes Glenn Gould's recordings of the Goldberg Variations with his recorded interviews. Drawing on Gilles Deleuze, José Gil, and André Lepecki, I argue that despite its engagement with forms of extension, the use of prosthetics in Chouinard's bODY rEMIX fundamentally explores the intensive movement of affect, particularly through its engagement with suspense (as the generation of an ambiguous image in the tension between extensive and intensive movement) and the sound image. This exploration of the in-tensions of extensions, when, rather than simply extending into the world, movement develops a centrifugal force, likewise argues that the movement of affective intensity is the way in which the body activates its inherent capacity for change. Extension is a fundamental attitude of the dancing body; dancing “projects lines into the invisible” in a movement of outward intentionality. Yet that movement is always doubled and deviated by a responsive (not simply reactive) intensity of movement, a dynamic activation of the body's potential charged by the encounter that pushes against and reworks the constitution of the very bodies that compose it, a movement of a different quality whose effects cannot simply be determined by a reverse calculation from extension."

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