Thursday, January 31, 2008

Media Release from Scarlet Alliance

Recently a male sex worker was charged in the ACT under the Prostitution Act on two accounts.
“At this stage we do not know if the person is guilty of the charges laid. Mr Scott has pleaded not guilty and deserves and is entitled to a fair trial.” Janelle Fawkes, CEO, Scarlet Alliance.

ACT Health has taken the unprecedented step of identifying the infection. “Scarlet Alliance does not support the decision from ACT Health to release details on Mr Scott’s HIV status. In our opinion this information being released out of court will significantly prejudice a fair trial.”

ACT Health revealed that Mr. Scott was known to be HIV positive, and announced its intention to commence contact tracing – broadly contacting a range of people whose phone numbers were held by the accused. “It must be remembered that 250 contacts in a persons phone or diary does not mean all or any of these people are at risk or have even had sex with the accused.” Janelle Fawkes, CEO, Scarlet Alliance.

“The epidemiology in Australia supports our understanding that Australian sex workers are on the whole effectively implementing safe sex practices with their clients on a daily basis. We know that in the majority of cases it is the client that does not perceive themselves to be at risk and the sex worker that successfully negotiates and implements safe sex practices.” Janelle Fawkes, CEO, Scarlet Alliance.

“What we have learnt from our partnership (between Government and communities) response to the AIDS epidemic is that when safe sex practices are implemented, including the combination of condoms and water based lubricant, the risk of transmission or acquiring HIV is very low. And condoms do work, evidenced by the low rates of HIV or STIs amongst sex workers in Australia. But it must be understood that safe sex is a shared responsibility. If unsafe sex has occurred it is the responsibility of both parties.” Janelle Fawkes, CEO, Scarlet Alliance. ‘HIV is transmitted by unsafe sex not because money changes hands.”

Evidence shows that HIV positive people participating in safe sex do not necessarily place their sexual partners at risk.
“The high number of sero-discordant relationships in which the HIV negative partner does not acquire HIV demonstrates that protected sex with a HIV positive person does not necessarily lead to transmission.” Janelle Fawkes, CEO, Scarlet Alliance.

“The high levels of condom use amongst Australian sex workers means there is no need to exclude HIV positive people from sex work. The cultural norms in the industry are high levels of condom use and very responsible approaches to implementing safe sex by individual sex workers.” Janelle Fawkes, CEO, Scarlet Alliance.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I love this site! Using creative mail art/ postcards to explore and make visible queer identities. Check out the diverse range of post cards they've received, and maybe consider sending one in yourself.

What a waste

I read something that made me feel ill today. The war in Iraq is currently costing $250 million a day. I'm sure we can all think of many, many things that money could be better spent on. One that seems relevent to me at the moment, and something to promote economic and political stability, is to put that money into global HIV prevention and treatment. UNAIDS have identified that we need to more than double our global spending in this area to prevent the numbers of HIV-positive diagnosises rising to 60 million by 2015. Oh, and this would entail evidence based approaches to prevention, namely access to condoms, clean injecting equipment, targetted education programs for at risk groups and reliable, non-judgemental sexual health information. Abstinance, prayer and shame doesn't prevent HIV.

Monday, January 07, 2008


When I have nightmares, I really go to town. No ‘clowns will eat me stuff’, I dream of scary, apocalyptic happenings. I dreamt the other night that Neo Nazis were taking over, and were herding up all the queers and assorted freaks, to take us away to the camps.

You might think, with my long hair and high heels, that I’d be relatively safe…. But then there is that *black triangle tattooed on my wrist, with the words QUEER DYKE WHORE bordering it…… Well, I just made it real easy for them, didn’t I? They didn’t even have to take the time embroidering a patch for me.

As the odds were, I was going to be killed anyway, I figured I would just go ahead and lecture them all, stern mummy style: “You do realise, don’t you, that you are targeting minority groups in order to avoid dealing with your own issues. And it won’t help one bit. Once we are all gone, you’ll still be stuck with the same problems!”

I don’t think my finger wagging and ranting made an ounce of difference, or turned any one away from their minority-persecuting ways. Those who have heard this story so far have remarked that this is exactly what they would imagine me doing, under the circumstances. “I’m not frightened of you, you nasty little Nazi brat! What, do you think that gun distracts every one from your insecurities? Have you tried a self help book, or some counselling?”

* Black triangle (badge)

The black triangle has sometimes appeared as a
lesbian or feminist symbol of pride and solidarity.
The symbol originates from
Nazi concentration camps, where every prisoner had to wear one of the Nazi concentration camp badges on their jacket, the colour of which categorised them according "their kind." Individuals deemed "asocial" had to wear the black triangle. The majority of black-triangle prisoners were mentally retarded or homeless. But smaller groups of prisoners were also given this badge, including alcoholics, the habitually "work shy," prostitutes, and others.

In the Nazis' meticulous records there is no word of the black triangle having been imposed on lesbians, or of lesbians as a group being confined to concentration camps. However, some have reasoned that since the Nazis believed strongly in a traditional social role for women, lesbians and other sexually unconventional women might logically have been considered "asocial" from the Nazis' point of view.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Discretion is the better part of valour (bad blogging behaviour, Part1)


Shakespeare, in Henry IV, Part One, 1596:

Falstaff: 'The better part of valour is discretion; in the which better part I have saved my life.'

Someone said to me recently that this blog is all about politics…. This isn’t the first time someone has mentioned this…. My usual response is “What else is there?”

The truth is that who I fuck, how and under what conditions are often less meaningful for me than my politics and what my broader passions are. For example, the sex worker rights movement has been my longest, most committed and passionate relationship. In some ways, as long term romantic relationships have been on the skids, my connection with the movement has been especially helpful, as I can bury myself in the work, and focus on bigger goals than myself, and whatever whirling emotions are happening for me, before I embarrassed myself too badly.

Also, while I am generally always interested in human sexuality, who is fucking who and how is often of little interest. Hence Her Royal Whoreness is all about sex and little about fucking.

I’ve also been on the receiving end of some icky passive aggressive blogging on more than one occasion since I’ve been in Sydney. I don’t know if it’s the middle class Adelaide girl manners I grew up with, but I’ve been a little shocked by incidents I’ve heard about or read about, with people blogging about others in wildly indiscreet and some times totally horrible ways. People using their unlocked, free to anyone to read online journals to do constant character assassinations, to blog about who’s doing who, any random scene gossip, or simply posting personal emails they’ve received. I've heard the people involved use the justification that as it is their blog, they can post whatever content they want - I guess that's like saying that it's my gun, I'll shoot whomever I want with it.

Boundaries such as differentiating between what you might say in a conversation with a close friend, and what you would post for a potentially worldwide audience have seemingly collapsed. However, if you maintain a blog, and all your friends read it, and maintain their own, which you also read, these fine distinctions may be hard to distinguish.

The fact is, you can blog something nasty under the influence of anger, sadness, alcohol, misunderstanding or PMT and then regret it and erase it the next day, but as a large amount of bloggers are also compulsive blog readers, chances are quite a lot of traffic has passed in that time, and even after an entire blog/ journal has been deleted, if you Google the right combination of words, you can access the postings for ages afterwards. Putting somthig out there in writing, online, is very, very different indeed from a bitchy conversation over a beer or a coffee with friends.

SMS, blogging, myspace, etc are being used as tools from primary and high school bullies to torment and harass classmates. Cyberbullying is a huge issue in schools across the world, and I am sad to say that I've witnessed some hideous examples of cyberbullying and harassment from some people abut on the Sydney queer scene who don't seem to have grown up yet. I shudder to think of the motivation behind someone who is too gutless to say something to someone's face, but will parade their mean spirited opinions online, or will use their blog to air dirty laundry to punish someone for no longer being in contact, or for leaving a relationship. The lack of dignity demonstrated by these cowardly, underhanded uses of what can be an exciting medium, - that potentially allows a greater diversity of voices to be heard particularly when considering the concentration of mass media ownership - is astounding. It's enough to make me yearn for the restraint and dignity advocated for in Jane Austen novels, before talk shows, talk back radio, reality television and the blogging/ online networking revolutions took over and the resulting Jerry Springeresque parading of ones life, all big, sloppy emotions, self destructing in public and self indulgence by any means necessary...

I never thought I'd be advocating for mile class decorum, but when vindictiveness and harassment cause people to ignore others' right to privacy and dignity, enough is enough. If you can deal with it with the person concerned, go and speak to them face-to-face like grown up. If they don't want to engage with you, or have any further contact, or if they have broken up with you, this is the opportunity for you to move on, get therapy, join a sculpture class, or take up bush walking. Dragging them (and yourself) through the mud won't provide closure, it just tells them they've made very healthy decision in cutting off contact, and showcases all of your most messy, unpleasant, unethical qualities for the world to see, ensuring that you will be bitter and alone for a for a very, very long time. I have, in fact met people who will not date people who are notorious for spilling their personal lives all over the web. Nasty or simply emotionally sloppy blogging always says more about the blogger than anyone being blogged about. Relationships fail for good reasons, and giving yourself the time and space to lick your wounds and reflect in private gives you an opportunity to work out why you are better off not being in that relationship, and gives the necessary distance to aquire some perspective and rationality on the situation.

Also, let's face it even the use of initials, or pet names won't stop friends and acquaintances on the Sydney scene being able to put two and two together, based upon who you do and don't spend time with.

If something has emerged in a social interaction that has really bothered me, I’ll often hang on to it for months and months before I blog on the topic, and even then, I will usually make damn sure that it relates to a significant issue - mental health, social or political, that this blog focuses on. Even this post has been sitting around in draft form for a very long time, but it felt to me like it needed to be said. I try my hardest not to use this medium for punishing those whom I perceive to have wronged me. I try to find greater dignity and more self esteem in silence.

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens....

This is sort of a post to to usher in the new year, but for me it feels more significant to commemorate some truly wonderful things that have been going on in my world lately, so these are a list of my favourite things over the 2007-2008 period...

The defeat of the Howard government

I approached the lead up to the Federal election with caution, trying not to be too optimistic, but hoping and burning offerings to the deities that this time, things would be different. I had approached the last two elections being sure that the Coalition would be defeated, only to be left feeling, more so than usual that I am so very out of touch with the views and opinions of 'average, working Australian families' who parrot along with the Liberal Party that social democratic principles, unions, diversity and peace and non-violence movements are indeed the root of all evil...

I'm not celebrating the ALP's win, as much as I am the Coalition's loss.... I am made uneasy by how much more of a formidable political force that the Religious Right have become in Australia over the last 11 years and that the ALP will still try to bow to this extremist lobby group tht simply have more money and organisation than the left, and certainly don't reflect the viws of the majority of Australians. However, I will maintain my optimism that this electoral shift might mean a bigger shift to the left that hopefully will last at least a decade, in order to reestablish services and infrastructure, and repair some other casualties of Howard's messianic backlash against the social reforms of the 1960s onwards.

Domestic Bliss

About a year ago now, I found myself thinking about some of my adolescent decision making and came to the conclusion that a lot of my significant life directions, including sex work activism and extreme outness was much to do with avoiding becoming my mother, at all costs, and that it hadn't worked. I often find myself speaking in her voice, and expressing a similar set of values, particularly in relation to etiquette, in which I clearly haven' t moved far from middle class Adelaide. Since this realisation, I've been increasingly able to enjoy my home environment, cooking more, including recently, amazing chilli, corn bred and guacamole and maintaining a cleaner environment. It has been amazing to be able to pick and choose which aspects I take on and which I don't. I can take on the living comfortably and cleanly in a home I enjoy doing fabby dinner parties in and playing at being the gracious hostess, without that having to be part and parcel of th fundamentalist judgmental fire n brimstone type my mother was. Hooray! I can play at being the Whore of Babylon and June Cleaver, without either being all that I am, or excluding the other aspects.

Growing Older

Some years seem more like baptism by fire than others. I have being working 3 part time jobs in the last 6 months. It has been almighty stressful, and sometimes, some of the balls I've been juggling crash to the ground. However,my coping skills, work ethic and ability to function have never been so obvious. So while sometimes, everything is just too much, there has been other times,I've impressed the pants, erm, frock, off myself. Growing older does seem to mellow and provide increased skill, knowledge and capacity to get stuff done. I'm at a stage where this far outweighs the gray