Why is life unfair? Privilege. Where does privilege come from? History.
Think about it.
My new sound mashed together with three “Alive” remixes, originally by Krewella. Listen to it! It’s boss. :D
Black vs. Gay
ATTN: Tumblr SJWs who shut down others who complain about their oppression because they do not think the party is quite oppressed enough.
not Black vs. Gay… two people realizing they’ve been fighting for the same thing and deciding to change that.
This is why a coalitional politics needs to happen. Intersectionality exists.
The woman asked Officer Hill why he was stopping her.
She wore jean shorts and a tight red shirt and had stood outdoors for half an hour. She’d had a conversation with a passing man. When Officer Hill searched her bag, he found a condom and $1.25.
He arrested her for “loitering for the purpose of prostitution.” On the supporting deposition, he filled in the blanks for what she was wearing and how many condoms she had.
When I read over the deposition in the PROS Network’s Public Health Crisis (PDF), a study of how the NYPD arrests folks for carrying condoms, I thought of all the tight shirts I’d worn while idling outside on delicious spring days. I thought, She sounds like me. She sounds like my friends.
The NYPD will arrest you for carrying condoms, but that depends entirely on who you are. If you’re a middle-class white girl like me, you’re probably safe. But say you’re a sex worker or a queer kid kicked out of your home. Say you’re a trans woman out for dinner with your boyfriend. Maybe you’ve been arrested as a sex worker before. Maybe some quota-filling cop thinks you look like a whore.
Then you’re not safe at all.
Like most laughably cruel tricks of the justice system, you probably wouldn’t know that you could be arrested for carrying condoms until it happened to you. Monica Gonzalez is a nurse and a grandmother. In 2008, Officer Sean Spencer arrested her for prostitution while she was on the way to the ER with an asthma attack. The condom he found on her turned out to be imaginary. Gonzalez sued the city after the charges were dropped. But if the condom were real, why should she have even been arrested at all?
Arrest is always violent. The NYPD may or may not break your ribs, but the process of arrest in America is still a man tying your hands behind your back at gunpoint and locking you in a cage. Holding cells are shit-encrusted boxes, often too crowded to sit down. Police can leave you there for three days; long enough to lose your job. If this seems obvious, I say it because the polite middle classes trivialize arrest. They talk about “keeping people off the streets.” They don’t realize that the constant threat of arrest is traumatic, unless it happens to them or their kids.
Prostitution is only a misdemeanor in New York, but a conviction will knock you off food stamps and out of subsidized housing. While society feigns wanting sex workers to change their profession, it does everything it can to keep them where they are. Most prostitution defendants plea bargain. Too broke and scared to fight, men and women agree to charges that will follow them for life.
There are two types of prostitution arrests. For “prostitution,” the officer has to witness you making an offer, but “loitering for the purposes of engaging in a prostitution offense” requires only circumstantial evidence. On the supporting depositions, officers answer a checklist. Were you standing in an area known for prostitution? According to Karina Claudio, a lead organizer at the community group Make the Road, these areas can be anywhere. Were you dressed provocatively? Did you speak to a guy? Were you standing next to someone who has been arrested for prostitution? Were you carrying condoms?
Claudio says, “There’s obviously a problem with a law so broad that if you are walking with a tight shirt in ‘a place where prostitution happens,’ you can be stopped. It’s like Russian roulette.”
And you’re far more likely to be stopped if you’re trans.
In a study conducted by Make the Road, 59 percent of their trans respondents had been stopped by the police. Cristina, a trans woman out clubbing with her boyfriend, was accused of prostitution when cops found condoms in her bra. Let’s just pause for a moment to imagine the groping that led to this discovery.
The cops refused to believe that her guy wasn’t a client. Claudio says, “This happens to our members for walking while trans. They’re going to stores, clubs, restaurants, and they get profiled as sex workers because of their gender identity and expression.”
That’s how you get arrested for carrying condoms when you’re not a sex worker. But, let’s say you are a sex worker. You’re carrying condoms to protect your health and that of your clients. You may have gotten the condoms from the city itself. New York distributes 40 million condoms a year. The city has its own condom brand, its logo spelled out in the bright letters they use to mark subway lines.
So, you’re arrested. The proof needed to lock you up is that you’re carrying one of these city-branded, city-distributed devices.
If the cops don’t arrest you, they have a habit of confiscating your condoms.
The PROS Network’s study is filled with gutting stories. A 37-year-old white woman in Coney Island says, “I was locked up because I had a condom. I wasn’t even prostituting. They took the condom.“ A gender queer Puerto Rican sex worker, 22, says, “I’m damned if I do, I’m damned if I don’t. I don’t want to get any disease, but I do want to make my money. Why do they take our condoms? Do they want us to die?”
How does something so egregious keep happening? Because sex workers don’t matter.
Sex workers matter. They matter to their friends and partners, their kids, their parents, their communities. But sex workers don’t matter to power, even if power is paying a sex worker to dress it up in diapers every Wednesday.
Horrors are acceptable when they’re not happening to the dominant class.
NInety percent of people who are stopped and frisked are of color. Because of the work of community organizations, the mainstream media finally reports that the NYPD has been filling their arrest quotas by searching for weed under black teenagers’ testicles. They now report that, in a Clean Halls building, you could be slammed up against the wall, or even arrested, because you didn’t carry your ID when you were dumping the trash. If drugs and weapons provide an excuse to harass men of color, then condoms do the same for queer folks and women.
LGBT civil rights and sex worker advocacy groups are fighting against the use of condoms as evidence. Mainstream feminism is not. A movement that rightly and vociferously fought pharmacists who refused to fill birth control prescriptions has remained largely silent about women being jailed for carrying another contraceptive.
Mainstream feminism might remember that the war on women always starts with the war on whores. Then, that category expands to include everyone but the white virgin tying her knees together in church. Until 1996, Ireland locked up unmarried moms and rape victims in Magdalene Laundries, where nuns worked them to death to cleanse their imaginary sins. The nuns built those Magdalene Laundries to imprison sex workers. Tens of thousands of women died within their walls, of every walk of life except the very wealthiest.
A bill to end the use of condoms as evidence was introduced in 1999. Health and civil rights organizations have been fighting to pass it ever since. Audacia Ray, founder of the sex workers activist organization the Red Umbrella Project says that while many politicians are supportive of the bill in private, they’re afraid to champion it publicly. They don’t want to be seen as pro-prostitution.
If you’re a New Yorker who thinks it’s wrong that folks are locked in cages for trying to protect themselves and their partners from HIV, you might give your state senator a call. No Condoms as Evidence has more details.
With sex workers, as with anyone, charity doesn’t change things. Solidarity does. Have you ever been outside on a sunny day, wearing shorts, a condom in your purse? Were you afraid of being arrested? Or were you a good woman? A member of the privileged class? Do you look away from official violence, until maybe, one day, it happens to you?
Who are these officers and why do their prejudices infect our world…
Imagine a wall full of circular holes, that circles can keep walking in and out of with no difficulty.
Now imagine that the triangles manage to get the resources together, after years of not being able to fit through the circle’s holes, to drill a single triangle space into the wall.
Now imagine that the circle — who previously supported the triangle’s efforts because they are well-rounded (har) and value equality — comes along and sees the construction project. But instead of being happy, they get angry.
“Well, I won’t be able to fit through your hole!!!!” the circle cries.
“I helped you get the drill!!!!” the circle shrieks.
“Make it fit me too!!!!” the circle demands.
The triangles, barely holding it together enough to get a triangle hole together, stare at the circle in confusion.
“You have all the holes you need,” the triangles explain. “This is for us. You don’t need to fit through our hole, too.”
“YOU’RE BEING UNEQUAL AND HURTING MY FEELINGS!” the circle wails. “I DON’T SUPPORT YOUR HOLE IF IT DOESN’T FIT ME TOO. GIVE ME MY DRILL BACK.”
“It’s not your drill, it’s our drill. You helped us get it, because you said you cared.”
“I ONLY CARED WHEN I THOUGHT YOU’D MAKE A HOLE EVERYONE COULD FIT THROUGH. YOU’RE PERPETUATING INEQUALITY!!!”
“Why is it up to us, the small group that has never been able to fit through the wall at all, to make a hole everyone can use? Why isn’t it up to you, the people who have been able to cross back and forth at will for years? We just want to see the other side; why are you yelling at us?”
“I DIDN’T ASK TO BE BORN A CIRCLE, OMG. I’VE HAD TO WORK HARD ALL MY LIFE TOO. YOU’RE JUST BEING BIGOTED AGAINST ME BECAUSE OF SOMETHING I CAN’T CONTROL, JUST LIKE EVERYONE IS AGAINST YOU.”
“You are interfering with our project and asking us to comfort you while we’re trying to make progress. Please leave.”
“I’m going to tell everyone about this,” the circle warns. “Nobody will support you now.”
“Apparently nobody ever did,” the triangles sigh, getting back to work.
even better commentary.
Commentary is all kinds of gospel.
Wow, this is the most astute thing ever.
Sorry in advance for all of the cat photos over the next few months.
Dalek and I are bffs
Who apologizes for cat photos? D:
That looks like my kitty!!!!!! :D
This is what structural racism looks like.
Chicago, we have to do better.
Media criticism done on a napkin.
This is a great idea for a tumblr…
ON A FUCKING NAPKIN
And this is how racism still happens.
I made this petition to legally recognize non-binary genders
Amen. SIGNAL BOOST.
SIGNING AND BOOSTING, both are important!!!
ok seriously if you were one of those people making a huge deal about a nonbinary option in pokemon (esp. if you are binary/cis) PLEASE PLEASE SIGN AND REBLOG THIS IT IS ACTUALLY A BIG DEAL FOR US PLEASE
pplease please please sign this okay it needs 100k signatures by april 2nd
i know it’s a pain in the ass to sign up and shit but please i am literally begging here
This is super important, USA followers! Please please please take a few minutes to sign your name!
Bringing this back around again since it needs more attention and is only about a tenth of the way there.
i still laugh every time i see this.
i thought this was an everything bagel with a ribbon tied around it
This is MY LIFE
If knowledge is a basic right under what we come to know as “the right to know,” then why is access to certain knowledge systems barred on the basis of economic privilege?
More simply, if everyone has the “right to know,” then why does education, a fundamental piece of distributing knowledge, cost money?
Vulnerable populations have little incentive to stay in school, especially if their schools do not prepare students, overtly discriminate against them, and/or if students have other major pressing problems in their lives so much that they cannot attend school like economic disprivilege, unsafe family environments, etc.
Again, more simply, if schools are unsafe and boring places, then students from intersections of disprivilege won’t want to go and would rather find a job where they can make money in an unsafe environment instead of sitting in an unsafe environment all day learning nothing and making nothing.
We don’t all have a basic right to education if our public schools can’t provide safe and undiscriminatory places for students to actually learn something about which they are passionate.
How in the world are we going to give students the incentive to learn, then? We have to entirely restructure the education system on the most basic level by heightening requirements and training from privileged education majors who are blind to their privileges, by eliminating barriers to certain schools on the basis of money, and by providing atmospheres in the classroom where students feel both safe and welcome.
I have not, by any means, exhausted the list of demands for transformation of the education system, especially since barriers will continue to exist to schools because of discriminatory unwelcome sentiment on the basis of population-level stereotypes and since any educator has to receive at least a bachelor’s degree, something which not everyone has the privilege to even try to receive, and that privilege will inherently affect the relationship between teachers with higher education privilege and students from disadvantaged populations who may never access that privilege. From a standpoint theory level, no teacher with the privilege of a college education could possibly understand the experiences of their students of disadvantaged populations because only those with experience of disprivilege have a larger understanding of the world (via epistemic privilege).
So, what do?
Transform the education system. Eliminate capitalist bullshit barriers to specific modes of education, including both private institutions and college-level education, both undergrad and graduate/professional level.
Transform the education system. Give students incentives to go to school, and make sure their educators have experience similar to their students or have been trained thoroughly to understand their students’ academic, fiscal, and social needs to the point where they can help their students themselves or send their students to someone they know can help them.
I’m so confused that we can take a look at the current education system and claim that everyone has the right to equal knowledge. Even if we paid students to go to school to ensure that everyone had an equal fiscal right to a system of education, the current system is so flawed and corrupt with bureaucracy and ignorance to privilege and intersectional discrimination that we still wouldn’t have an equal right to education for all.
I have the privilege to articulate these words on an internet forum with my own laptop on the basis that I received an education and tools for that education (ie, laptop) as a result of the racialized and gendered privilege dictating an economic privilege that was passed down many generations from my family to me. That is unfair. A redistribution of life chances (and a restructuring of the education system) is necessary to ensure that many more people deserve the privilege to access education that works and hone in the skills to articulate claims that fight systematic oppression for a more just world.
Fuck this bullshit.
This is true. So very true.
Can we? I hope so. Staging a coup.