Welcome to Pug Politics.

Welcome to the new blog run by Rebecca Carr. This blog will be discussing art, history, feminism, politics, activism and more. The social justice issues will be primarily central to Melbourne, Australia but will also cover relevant global politics. The aim will be to create awareness of egalitarian values and to spark healthy discussion. The style of writing will include a meshing of a newspaper article and personal experiences. My personal love of pugs (the dog) has been incorporated into the name of the blog-Pug Politics. Grace the pug (whom lives at my parents) is an inspiration to myself.. She motivates me to create a better world that we live in! You can expect to see cartoon comics with a pug character depicting political issues. Any opportunity for Grace to be involved with political rallies will also be shared with you – the readers. I look forward to sharing my passion of politics and pugs – Welcome to Pug Politics!

The first Melbourne Feminist Conference (28-29 May 2011) was recently held at North Melbourne Town Hall and The Meat Market.

Feminist Futures is a conference organised by the Melbourne Feminist Collective that aims to provide a safe, supportive and active space for discussing different strategies to create a feminist future. It is an open environment for anyone interested in imagining and creating feminist futures in our community.

http://www.mfc.org.au/conference.html

The feminist conference was open for anyone to attend on condition they accepted the participation agreement. I, personally highly respect the participant’s agreement. The collective should be congratulated for the professionalism in their organization.

1. To refrain from being intolerant of someone‘s religious beliefs or lack thereof, and from being racist, ageist, sexist, heterosexist, transphobic, whorephobic, ableist, classist, sizist, and to refrain from any other behaviour or language that may perpetuate oppression;
2. That everyone else is entitled to her/his opinion and experience, regardless or whether I think it is right or wrong;
3. That I am entitled to my opinion and experience, regardless of whether others think it is right or wrong;

4. To listen to everyone’s opinions and experience without interrupting or arguing afterwards.
5. To discuss, not argue;
6. To use ” I statements;”
7. To disclose my opinions and experience without trying to convince others that I am right;

8. To share the group’s time equally;
9. To respect people‘s physical and emotional boundaries;
10. To always get explicit verbal consent before touching someone or crossing personal boundaries;

11. To take responsibility for my own safety and get help if I need it;
12. To look out for kids at all times and try not to leave anything around that would endanger kids;
13. To respect that the conference space is drug and alcohol free;
14. To participate in the conference grievance procedure when necessary;
15. That I am 100% responsible for asking for 100% of what I need, 100% of the time – and then negotiating; and

16. That I will not disclose outside of the workshop any information that other participants disclose about themselves.

Many of these ideals could be incorporated as an agreement for participating in comments on my blog. Only- don’t worry about leaving things around on Pug Politics for kids to trip over! Furthermore, censorship is an issue worth taking into consideration on Pug Politics. I respect that everybody has different life experiences and accept that not everybody is going to agree on issues  (eg. same-sex marriage). However, disallowing people to post their beliefs (eg. homophobic) will limit discussion that creates change.

Sat 28th

Panel 1: Women from the First Nation

Tracey Bunda, Paola Balla and Rebecca Gerrett-Magee.

Panel 2: Why Feminism Matters

Raewyn Connell, Elena Jeffreys, Ludo McFerran and Alison Thorne.    

Sun 29th

Panel 3: Feminism and Intersectionality

Joumanah El Matrah, Katrina Fox, Amanda George, and Marisa Sposaro

Panel 4: Feminist Futures: Visions and Strategies

Stephen Fisher, Kathleen Maltzahn, Melba Marginson and Jez Pez

               Kathleen Maltzahn

Kathleen Maltzahn: Kathleen has worked on violence against women for many years, and was the founding director of Project Respect (from 1998), which in 2003 spearheaded the successful campaign to put trafficking in women for prostitution on the national agenda. She was Executive Director of Women‘s Health in the North, a regional women‘s health service in Melbourne‘s North, from 2007-2010, and has also been a Greens councillor at the City of Yarra, and the Greens candidate for the state seat of Richmond in the 2010 state election.

http://www.mfc.org.au/Resources/Feminist_Futures_Final_Program.pdf

Elena Jeffreys                   

Elena Jeffreys is a full time sex worker and part time volunteer President of Scarlet Alliance, the Australian Sex Workers Association. Recently Elena presented ‘HIV and Sex Worker Criminalisation in Australia’ at the Bali ICAAP International AIDS Conference (2009), and at the National Centre for HIV and Social Research conference (2010). Currently Elena is also heavily involved in supporting the national Migration Project within Scarlet Alliance, in partnership with    Zi Teng (Chinese migrant sex worker project, Hong Kong) and Empower Foundation (Thailand).

If you ever wanted to see a pug fight in action…

Kathleen Maltzahn vs. Elena Jeffreys (and what felt like the majority of the room)

The crowd entered the room after the intermission to find flyers on their seats. [“Kathleen Maltzahn supports legislation that HARMS SEX WORKERS“.] The room felt incredibly tense. Elena was incredibly brave to speak amongst a crowd whom did not share her point of view on sex workers.

Ok, so I’m totally new to this feminist thing.. heck, I’m still trying to define what makes a feminist and if it is something we should strive for? Feminism vs. Equalism? As I was enjoying a much needed coffee on break from the first panel… a woman holding a pad asked if I wanted to sign for equal pay. These days I’m much more cautious about signing something unless I know the source of the material and what it is exactly they are proposing.. the idea of equal pay was certainly appealing.. however I played it safe and asked if  she had any material I could read to learn more.. she whips out a copy of the newspaper from her organization Freedom Socialist. ($1/$2 solidarity price). Usually, I’m uptight about financially supporting organizations whom have political views that aren’t in line with my own..I took the risk for the sake of education! Enclosed in the newspaper was the Freedom Socialist Organiser… SURPRISE SURPRISE – first page had an article promoting the feminist futures conference: “Build a feminist future with Radical Women.”  Quickly speed reading the article, Kathleen Maltzahn’s name popped up. 

Kathleen Maltzahn, supports the criminalisation of payment for sex, as legislated in Sweden – which has left sex workers open to violence from customers, super-exploitation by bosses and harassment from authorities.

Kathleen had a shaky voice as she spoke.. Her jitters were easily felt. Members of the audience stood up and turned their backs as she spoke on the microphone. Some were holding objects symbolic of the position they held on the issue. Most notably the red umbrella. (I’ll research the meaning behind the red umbrella and get back to you! *Starts singing the umbrella song by Rhianna*). The peaceful protest turned ugly as Elena kept interrupting the speech by shouting like a tyrant. How would you react if your job was under threat?

Worth looking into – Swedish model for sex workers.

Question: Should sex work be decriminalized?  Why/why not?

My take – this is a far fetched comparison but I think decriminalizing sex work is as absurd as the laws for wearing a helmet. Here is why – your decision to wear a helmet is only going to impact 1 person = you.  Personally, I would find sex work a disrespect both to my partner and body. However, who am I to push my ideals on another person? Is sex work a choice? I don’t deny that Kathleen has met some sex workers whom are psychologically damaged by their line of work. However, I don’t believe she is in a position to dictate what people should do with their bodies. Is their decision to be involved in sex work affecting her? How can she assume that sex work is not rewarding for some because she has met some that don’t find value in it? However is legalizing sex work, drugs and not wearing bike helmets giving it the ok? Would legalizing sex work, drugs and not wearing bike helmets create a society in chaos?

Upcoming on Pug Politics:

  • Interview with Nat Gabriele a young woman living with a disability about her access to support/services.
  • Interview with Lee discussing ‘Trans’ issues
  • Interview with Jo Anderson about land conservation

Collected a flyer for this at the feminist futures conference…

Upcoming events:

Queer Youth Speak Out (celebrating the anniversary of Stonewall Riots) – Sunday 26th June

Melbourne premier screening of Gramercy Stories (documentary directed by Joyce Chopra)

Followed by a panel discussion with Ygender (http://www.ygender.com/) and Daniel Witthaus.