Bi-Weekly Sexual Freedom Newsletter Wednesday, April 17th, 2019
Top Stories This Week
1. Zoning rules to hinder access to abortion services 2. #MeToo and the media’s responsibility to survivors 3. Three Supreme Court cases that could upend LGBTQ+ rights 4. Reflecting on the mourning of Notre Dame; remembering the many Black churches attacked by arson 5. A recognition and appreciation of sanitation workers’ invaluable role in society 6. Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s activist work toward prison abolition 7. The criminalization of sex workers and its promotion of intimate- and state-based violence
Abortion Rights Foes Have Weaponized Zoning Regulations. Here’s How. (Rewire.News)
Anti-choice advocates have increasingly implemented zoning rules to hinder access to abortion services. Rachel Wells writes, “Last month, city council officials in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, rezoned surgical abortion clinics to industrial zones rather than commercial, pushing out a clinic that had opened a few days prior. And this month, in Lebanon, Tennessee, the city council is pushing a zoning scheme that would erode access to abortion services. Using zoning rules and regulations to hinder access to abortion services is nothing new, but it’s picked up momentum as an anti-choice strategy in recent years.” Read more.
Building Trust: #MeToo and the Media’s Responsibility to Survivors (Bitch Media)
In the case of intimate violence, particularly in the wake of the #MeToo movement, the media can “be either a powerful ally to survivors or their worst enemy.” Roslyn Talusan writes, “If we have any hope of creating a safe world for marginalized communities that’s free of sexual violence, the media must change the way it covers sexual violence. Shedding light on the pervasiveness of sexual violence is integral in the fight to end it, along with better understanding the social context behind it.” Read more.
(Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
The Supreme Court Just Took Up Three Cases That Could Upend LGBTQ+ Rights (them.)
The Supreme Court recently announced that it will hear three major cases involving LGBTQ+ employment discrimination. Mary Emily O’Hara explains a guiding legal question of these upcoming decisions: “Even though gender identity and sexual orientation have never been explicitly included in federal civil rights law as protected classes, multiple courts over the years have ruled that discrimination against LGBTQ+ people is a form of sex discrimination—and ‘sex’ remains a federally protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the portion of the law that pertains to employment. A ruling from the Supreme Court would essentially decide whether the federal definition of ‘sex’ does indeed include sexual orientation and gender identity.” Read more.
(Fouad Maghrane/AFP/Getty Images)
As We Mourn Notre Dame, Let Us Remember Black Churches Also Matter (Truthout)
As the Notre Dame burned, many mourned its loss. But as Eisa Nefertari Ulen notes, the deliberate arson attacks on Black churches have not been met with this level of heartbreak: “The list of documented cases of African American churches attacked by arsonists is long—and on that long list there are, of course, only the cases that have been documented. [...] As I watched the international coverage of Notre Dame, a chant echoed in my head: Black churches also matter. This was a response to lopsided news coverage that centers white spaces. There is real injury in the Notre Dame story, and a macabre, surreal irony, too: Black bodies bled to provide those spaces where whiteness is centered.” Read more.
An Ode to Sanitation Workers (Jacobin)
Meagan Day urges us to appreciate sanitation workers, as “our whole lives depend on them.” In her ode to sanitation workers, Day writes, “The labor performed by sanitation workers is all but invisible to people going about their daily lives, but it’s indispensable to nearly every aspect of our society. [...] Because capitalism requires business owners to compete with each other to maximize profit, it relies on driving down labor costs, which means it will always compulsively devalue labor, no matter how essential. As a result, the sanitation worker under capitalism is exposed to unnecessary danger and often receives (especially without a union) low wages—this as compensation for preventing the complete breakdown of social order and the collapse of human civilization.”Read more.
(Amaal Said/The New York Times)
Is Prison Necessary? Ruth Wilson Gilmore Might Change Your Mind (The New York Times Magazine)
Is prison necessary? Ruth Wilson Gilmore has centered her activist work on this question for decades, arguing that prisons are neither necessary nor at all redeemable. In a feature on Gilmore, Rachel Kushner writes, “Prison abolition, as a movement, sounds provocative and absolute, but what it is as a practice requires subtler understanding. For Gilmore, who has been active in the movement for more than 30 years, it’s both a long-term goal and a practical policy program, calling for government investment in jobs, education, housing, health care—all the elements that are required for a productive and violence-free life. Abolition means not just the closing of prisons but the presence, instead, of vital systems of support that many communities lack.” Read more.
Criminalizing Sex Workers Drives Rape and Gender-Based Police Violence (Truthout)
As Juno Mac and Molly Smith contend, the criminalization of sex workers promotes intimate- and state-based violence: “Mainstream feminism too often puts ‘police violence’ and ‘male violence against women’ into different conceptual categories—if, indeed, it considers police violence to be a topic of feminist concern at all. [...] However, when we think of police violence not only as state violence but also (often) as male violence against women, the criminalisation of prostitution comes into focus in a new way: as a key driver of male violence against women.”Read more.