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Put Goldcorp on the Agenda

Original Peoples, →Honduras

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Simon Fraser University (SFU) community and supporters rallied outside the January 27 meeting of the SFU Board of Governors to demand for the Goldcorp donation to be put on the agenda. The rally came after numerous attempts by faculty and students to get a chance to present their objections to source of the donation, its uncritical acceptance by the SFU administration, and the way it is intended to be used in the Downtown Eastside (DTES).

Community members from the DTES and Honduras, as well as students and faculty gave voice to their objections to this donation in front of Harbor Centre before marching over to the Sigal School of Business, where the meeting was taking place. Upon arrival, the protestors found the door to the room locked and so they waited around chanting, drumming on the doors to the meeting room and sliding signed petitions under the door, since one of the purposes of the rally was to deliver about 400 petitions signed by students, faculty and supporters.

The marchers were joined by a number of musicians including the Solidarity Notes Choir who came up with a special song for SFU's "corporate prostitution."

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Comments

Awesome!!

Hells ya!

Great job Masrour!

Such an important and not well known issue.

Mining watch and other organizations working in solidarity to keep companies like Goldcrap....er....Goldcorp from trashing mother earth and peoples lives without impunity.

Rock on - keep them coming my friend/comrade.

Namaste/All my relations

Tami Starlight - VMC Editorial Collective

I find it offensive that this

I find it offensive that this article and rally is throwing around the word "prostitute". Yes, GoldCorp is a dirty corporation that should be protested. However, sex workers are a part of our communities and they are people with a right to autonomously choose how to work and what to do with their own bodies. They deserve respect and dignity.   I understand that it is a commentary on class hierarchy, but I still don't think it's right.

posted photos

To see VMC photo story posted on Jan. 27 go to:

http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/photo/board-nailed-goldcorps-dirty-money/5878 

 

Choir

Wow...I don't know much about the issue, but that choir was quite good! Way to use creativity to get your message across.

not loving the title of this

not loving the title of this piece or the use of the term "prostitution" as a metaphor for selling out :(   let's resist goldcorp and the corporatization of SFU without relying on anti-woman/anti-sex-worker/anti-sex tropes, K?

same thing at university of Toronto

Just got back from a protest at U of T against Peter Munk from Barrick Gold's 'donations' that act to muzzle the unversity and provide intellectual support for mining. Good to see a nation-wide movement against this is building.

It is not necessary or

It is not necessary or acceptable to further stigmatize sex workers by using prostitution in this kind of negative and derogatory context. Actually, it hurts the credibility of a cause when the message is communicated at others' expense.  Equality and respect for all and the only way to get respect is to give it!  

please change the title of this piece

Hey VMC Editors,

This video is not about prostitution / sex work so why is the title about prostitution? It seems to be using "prostitute" as an insult... which should be as unacceptable on the VMC as using any other gendered, sexed, racialized terms as insult. "Prostitute" is a moralist, misogynist  anti-sex worker term that has been used for centuries to regulate the public lives and sexuality of women and, through them, men.

I understand that the choir sang a song with this line, but the choir was one voice amongst many and I think it's unfair to elevate this one line from one song to a (mis)characterization of the whole demo.

I have written Masrour with this concern and he has refused to change it so I'm appealing to the VMC editorial board.

Thanks,

Ivan
ivandrury[at]gmail[dot]com

Since you refuse to respond to the substance ...

... of my counter-arguments, I'll post them here for everyone to read and to judge for themselves: these are excerpts from an email exchange, so if parts of it don't make sense my aplogies. I will post Ivan's responses when he gives me permission to post them, which I would love to do because I think it was an interesting discussion. Also, not many editors read this stuff, so you might want to email them at vmc you-know-what mediacoop.ca

I'm genuinely interested in the reaction.

Ivan wrote:

...

Masrour wrote:

...

2- Stop phrasing a debate on prostitution as an argument about feminism: since you guys seem to know so much about sex workers, I'm assuming that you know that male sex workers abound. I'm more than happy to have a rational debate, so please don't insult my intelligence by bringing in fallacies.

Moreover, if you really have a hard time separating those two from each other, then maybe you're the one who has chauvinistic views of women. Why should sex work be limited to women? Why is it the female sex workers who need to be defended by you and not the male ones? These are all actual questions and if any of you took this issue seriously at all, you wouldn't consider it a waste of time to respond directly to them instead of bringing up the whole screwed up history of activism in the lovely city of Vancouver.

3- Going on with the whole conflation issue, why are you all talking about prostitution and sex work as if they're one and the same (specially survival sex work). I have a lot of respect for sex workers and I do not consider them prostitutes at all: to me a prostitute is someone who sells his or her integrity to gain something that is not a necessity to their livelihood. A man or woman sleeping with their boss to get a promotion is a prostitute, which is indeed an immoral act. A publicly funded educational institution selling one of their campuses for money that they should be getting from the government is prostitution, and that is immoral as well. Survival sex work is not the least bit immoral: in fact, it's the most ethical thing one could do; you have a moral responsibility to make sure you survive.

Seriously, this is all completely confusing to me: I would've thought that you guys were all a bit more enlightened than this. I mean sit down and think about how patriarchal and chauvinistic your "defense" of the people whom you pretend to be defending is. I'm actually pretty sickened by this, although I'm sure you have your own reasons for saying all this stuff.

Let me just say that I'm not going on the offensive to defend my own position: I'm really constantly shocked by how activists repeat rhetoric without really thinking about the logical consequences of what they're saying.

4- One more technical objection is that both you and Tami were at the rally when the Choir sang this song (from which I got the title). Just out of curiosity, where was your concern for the sex workers back then? What stopped you from tapping the choirmaster on the shoulder and objecting to this apparently most unfortunate choice of words? In fact, as documented by the video, they sang the song twice, so even if you missed your chance the first time, surely you could correct it the second time.

Given the fact that you tacitly condoned that choice of words, the question is why are you biting my head off now? Of course another defining characteristic of Vancouver activism is its self-righteousness.

As a side note, it is somewhat reminiscent of this anti-oppression workshop yesterday afternoon, during which we all sat around feeling so sorry for ourselves, when no one even bothered to point out that just being at that workshop is a form of privilege because at least you know that you're being oppressed and that there is something that should and could be done about it: most oppressed people I know don't even speak English well enough to be able to attend a workshop like that, let alone do anything about the society that's completely marginalizing them. I'm sure you all have been to plenty of these anti-oppression workshops: just out of curiosity (and I'm genuinely curious), have you ever seen a Filipino nanny or a Mexican temporary worker at one of these?

Oh, sweet self-righteousness: how delicious are you!! I am physically smiling here and it's not a malicious smile at all: it's more like a sad smile.

5- Moving beyond the technical issues, let me get to the heart of the matter, which is that your entire argument boils down to the assertion that the DTES is a really messed up place with lots of "bad" politics (it seems like everyone's fighting everyone else here, which is truly sad). First of all, I want to say a few words about this whole notion of "bad" politics because I really think this is the most troubling manifestation of this Vancouver style self-righteousness and this whole idea that if your politics is not exactly the same as mine, you deserve to die (or at least be locked up indefinitely), which seems to be the way many people think about activism in this retarded city (and I say that with nothing but love and gentleness, much like one feels toward a simpleton).

Just because someone disagrees with you, that doesn't make them wrong and it doesn't make you wrong either: sometimes you're affected by different forms of oppression and so you have different takes on things. Like I said before, I am most certainly not an abolitionist, but if sex work inflicts so much pain upon some people in this community that they want it banned, I think those people are entitled to their opinions and they should not be judged. Just to give you an example from a different domain, some of the most blatant forms of racism I've faced over the years has come from the gay and lesbian community, but I don't use that to fill myself with hatred for gays and lesbians because I'm sure those people have in turn faced homophobia from people of colour, so I make a conscious choice to end the cycle with me. The point is to keep the context in mind.

Moving on from the issue of "bad" politics, I'd like to point out the narcissism that is prevalent in this city in general and among activists in particular: the world does not end at the boundaries of the DTES. There are people outside this neighbourhood and believe it or not even outside this city. Just because there are some "horrible people" in the DTES, that doesn't mean that everything should be framed in a way that is adheres to the norms and standards in that community.

It was kinda funny when I was reading this response last night and talking to Tami about it and at the same time chatting with this Tanzanian friend of mine, who's fighting against Barrick down there. That really put things in perspective somehow. I'll just end this line of thought here because the next thing that comes after this doesn't sound very compassionate.

Anyway, I'd be more than glad to have a discussion with anyone about the word prostitution, but I'm really not the least bit convinced by this argument that things are too messed up here, so don't go around shit-disturbing.

At this point, I will change the title by putting quotes around the problematic term, so it's clear that I'm just quoting it from somewhere else.

6- Finally, this is somewhat reminiscent of this whole thing we were going through with Goldcorp's lawyers and when someone said something about metaphors: is there any doubt in anyone's mind that I'm not talking about actual sex workers? And let me reiterate that I do think prostitution is immoral: it's just that it's not the same thing as (survival) sex work, as you seem to be suggesting. You should really cleanse your mind.

Anyway, I'm sure you have more to say and I'd be more than glad to sit down and talk for 10 minutes. You'd be surprised how easy it is to sway me if you put some effort into reasoning with me instead of trying to coerce me into doing something: somehow it tends not to go down very well when people try bullying.

Ivan wrote:

...

Masrour wrote:

This is actually becoming interesting. I like this website you pointed out because of the contradictory thoughts it provokes in my mind: I agree with quite a bit of it, although I think for very different reasons, but there are also a few bits in there that I find utterly disgusting, again not for the same reasons that you might be assuming.

You are absolutely right to say that I don't know much about the issue, but the issue that I don't know much about is not prostitution itself, but rather prostitution in the DTES. I'm more than happy to learn more about the way people think about things in this neighbourhood, although this is but one neighbourhood and the issue is too big to be confined to ten square blocks.

But, let's talk about this whole issue of survival sex work and prostitution and all the rest of it: you (as well as the these FIRST people) seem to be saying that all forms of consensual sex in which one side obtains material gain from the act is perfectly moral (correct me if I'm misinterpreting what you're saying). This reminds me of this debate that took place on Democracy Now between two American feminists around the time of the whole Julian Assange fiasco, which you can watch here:
http://www.democracynow.org/2010/12/21/part_iifeminists_debate_sexual_allegations_against

What I got out of this discussion was Naomi Wolf's point about the seriousness with which rape should be treated and how important it is not to make a mockery of (as she put it) the most serious crime after murder by turning it into a tabloid cover issue.

And it's a similar story over here: I think it is absolutely disgusting that these people (as exemplified by their language of "sex industry workers") are using the plight of survival sex workers, for whom, as I said, I have nothing but respect and sympathy, with high end prostitutes and all sorts of other people who use their physical attractiveness to get ahead in life. And I'm not saying this because I'm envious, but because I think there is something fundamentally wrong with this picture: why is it that a guy or a girl who is in the same situation minus the outer beauty should be stuck doing cheap labor or working on the streets?

There should be something separating my Native sisters who do this out of isolation and desperation from the rest and I think this sort of despicable (as you'd put it) "liberal" monolithization and branding "them" all as prostitutes does nothing to address the gravity of the situation. And the situation is indeed grave for those survival sex workers who are probably the usual clients of organizations life Rape Relief, who are abolitionists, I'm assuming, because they figure if this "easy" way out is removed as an option, then maybe the government and the rest of the society would be forced to deal with the root causes, which are poverty and colonization.

Coming out and saying we think prostitution is A-OK doesn't force anyone to address those systemic forms of oppression: it's essentially a disguised form of the right wing argument about personal responsibility and the lack of responsibility on the part of the society, just sugar-coated a bit in pseuo-feminist language. Again, this is another fascinating thing about the "left" that the further left you go these days, the more things start to look exactly the same as the extreme right. This is the sort of thing that made me stop calling myself a leftist a while ago.

Note that I'm not in any way disagreeing with the calls for decriminalization, but survival sex work should be recognized as a social issue that needs to be addressed and simply decriminalizing it and bundling it together with something else that is less justifiable won't do anything to help those people.

I'm just saying re-examine your assumptions and prejudices against these groups whose politics you manifestly consider to be inferior to yours.

Anyway, you still haven't convinced me that there is nothing immoral about prostitution (as opposed to survival sex work) and that the metaphor is inappropriate in this case. Again the argument boils down to the assertion that this is touchy subject in this neighbourhood, so avoid it at all costs. If this sparks a discussion on prostitution and sex workers' plight, I think that'd be a wonderful turn of events even if it has nothing to do with Goldcrap (as Tami would put it). This whole city has an issue with expressing itself.

Masrour.

P.S. My contempt for this city has nothing to do with Toronto: most of the activists I dealt with over there were African women from whom I learned a ton and who, in my humble opinion, have much to teach the very pale (let's put it that way) and privileged activist community in Vancouver.

Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Man This Title Has Got to GO!

Holy crap guy.  Masrour, that is one long and boring response that could really use an edit...you are just ranting, it is long and scattered and covers tons of topics superficially and carelessly.  Probably why people are urging you to not use this forum for debate and probably why people are now appealing to the editors of VMC to change the title and not you.

You wrote: "to me a prostitute is someone who sells their integrity to gain something that is not a necessity to their livelihood.."

No.  A prostitute is someone who exchanges sex for goods/services (usually money).  Selling ones "integrity" has nothing to do with this definition, but framing it as an issue of integrity is moralistic and damning and says that prostitutes have no integrity.  You are using the word prostitute as a metaphor to communicate moral bankruptness and greed. 

At the end here you wrote: "you still haven't convinced me that there is nothing immoral about prostitution."

So you think that prostitution is immoral.  Not a very uncommon position.  Why do you think you are generating a good debate?  Your voice is but a pindrop in the ocean of voices that share this opinion.  You aren't saying anything new and you aren't saying anything interesting.

Change the title of this piece and think through this on your own time.

 

Needless to say that ...

... I'm honoured that the sole female Prime Minister of Canada would comment on my post.

title

hey folks

haven't been as active as previously with the VMC as I'm out of the country at the moment, but here's my two cents: didn't like the first title, glad its changed, and hopefully we can avoid featuring stories with headlines like that in the future. sorry for the grief this has caused,

dawn

Why should we avoid anything?

Why are people on the Left Coast so afraid of having their assumptions questioned? Is that because people are not sure of their convictions because everything around here is so superficial and devoid of penetrating analysis? In turn, is that why dogmatism so rampant in this province, where no one seems to know a thing about balance and harmony?

true enough. makes me wonder

true enough. makes me wonder why you would bother wasting your time with activists in vancouver to begin with

Excellent ...

... and very astute question that I keep asking myself: could it be because I'm a masochist? Or is it desperation? Or perhaps a stupidly optimistic view of humanity that prevents me from giving up on people? More will be written on this one of these days. I promise.

VMC policy

This thread has gone on for a fair bit. In the process, the title of the piece has changed from the original sexist one.

Disregarding the vapid self-defence, I do want to acknowledge that the title has changed. VMC's policy is to take down any posts that are sexist or racist. Do keep that in mind.

This is the most ridiculous of all the comments on here.

You can't just call something sexist without any justification and manifestly disregarding everything that I've written up there. This is what I've been talking about all along.

Then again it has been established that there is no democracy nor any sensibility in the VMC, so go ahead and sensor because something is disagreable to you. I'll change the title back to what it was to provide you with the excuse.

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