Friday, September 26, 2014

Full text: Motion to Support Inclusive HIV Prevention Strategies

This is the motion I motivated at tonight's GSA Carleton Council meeting. Passed no opposition 2 abstensions.

Whereas pharmaceutical companies have successfully lobbied for proprietary PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) prescriptions (Truvada) to become available to all “gay men” on demand in the state of New Jersey; and
Whereas provincial and federal HIV prevention strategies are currently in formation; and

Whereas PrEP prescriptions have serious health side effects[1], and their preventative capacity dramatically falls when just a single dose is mis-administered. (The average PrEP prescription transmission reduction rate is 44%, compared to 92% under ideal circumstances); and

Whereas PrEP is prescribed for the reduction in transmission of only 1 of the 2 known strains of HIV; and

Whereas the use of PrEP as a widespread HIV prevention strategy, unlike condom use, does not promote health, it promotes sero-negativity; and

Whereas the (American) AIDS Healthcare Foundation has begun a campaign against the widespread prescription of PrEP as an HIV prevention strategy; and

Whereas sex workers and the recurring partners of HIV patients have heightened exposure risks to HIV; and

Whereas the prescription of PrEP based on the identities of “gay men” is both homophobic and unscientific because it conflates risk with an identities rather than behaviours; and

Whereas the GSA and CFS have lobbied against this same unscientific homophobic policy motivation regarding blood donation; therefore

Be it resolved that he GSA executive write an open letter the federal and provincial Health Ministries with two explicit recommendations:
1)      Endorsement of PrEP prescriptions on demand for sex workers and the recurring partners of HIV patients
2)      Opposition to the prescription of PrEP for “gay men” on demand

Be it further resolved that the GSA delegates to the next CFS-O meeting present motions mandating the CFS-O leadership as well as encourage other member locals to write open letters to the federal and provincial Health Ministries affirming the two listed recommendations.

[1]Common side effects include: headache, stomach-area (abdomen) pain, and decreased weight. Serious side effects include liver problems and a buildup of lactic acid in the blood (lactic acidosis). New or worsening kidney problems, including kidney failure. Bone problems. Changes in body fat. Changes in your immune system.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

#gradschoolproblems: My Epistemological Epiphany

Round 2 of life decisions explained via blog! (Click here to here to read the first)

A few of you know that despite having a second draft of my MRE (Master's Research Essay), I decided to complete my MA via coursework. A health issue precluded my intended August completion date, and I was faced with the options of rolling my MRE over another four months or taking 2 additional classes. I chose the latter, and I couldn't be happier. As well as providing a healthy weekly structure, this decision actually makes perfect sense, if you're aware of my staunch post-structural leanings.

Let's be honest, the only people who you know will read your MRE are the two members of your research committee. I consider my research interests to be of transformative nature, and I don't think the strategy of writing for two professors who share my ideological traditions achieves a meaningful shift in the authorities my essay sought to challenge. 

Realistically, the MRE (50-75 pages) is an obtuse form to offer an argument. The thesis (75-120 pages) has the advantage of being indexed online through a Library and Archives Canada initiative. If I were to complete my MRE, I would be required to re-write it (at least) once more to articulate my ideas about gender pluralism in a form that could gain traction within or outside the academy via journal publication or another more reader-friendly form.

By the end of my second draft, I'd concluded the "thought work" of my project. I solidified my ideas and arguments and worked through their supporting logics. The remainder of the task would have been to complete the references/bibliographic element of the paper and align my ideas to the arbitrary requirements of an MRE and the arbitrary preferences of my research committee. 

I am not stepping away from the activist cause that underscores most of my written work. In fact, I'd argue I'm more meaningfully leaning into it.

The work I have done will be recreated for consumption by non-academics. I now understand that my most meaningful role is not per se as a thought producer (a role I still very much enjoy and respect), but as a knowledge translator. Simplified analogies motivate public policy change, and I need to be producing discourse with wider appeal.

In jargon: my approach to social justice scholarship has shifted from interdisciplinarity to anti-disciplinarity. I believe that what we name "revolutions" are a faster-than-expected retrenchments of dominant (usually oppressive) paradigms. To accomplish the renegotiation of knowledges, social justice thought must be equally ethical and effective. My belief in the capacity of the academy to incubate transformation waned as I woke up to the fact that no academic program or project is the shortest path to a better world. I've embraced a new identity as para-academic, a scholar working beside and against the academy to enact social transformation. That PhD project you might want to write in the social sciences or humanities, it could be a book, probably in less time and less stress.

Riddle yourselves this: in 2014 who are advancing gender justice more effectively: BeyoncĂ© and Lady Gaga or Gloria Steinem and Audre Lourde? The reach of an idea is that ideas' true measure of success.  The academy, particularly the small community of feminist academics, is too isolated to enact the kind of change I'm looking for. 

The only way out is up, but who says we have to play by gravity's rules? 

So, Onward. Onward with fervour, rigour, and fresh-to-death perspective.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

NEVER say the phrase "rape fantasy" (TW)

Yeah the title says it all.

Let's be honest; the online dating world is full of tactless exchanges, but there comes a time when your feminist brain literally explodes. For me, it's around the term "rape fantasy".

Issue: some one tells you they have a "rape fantasy". 

Here's an appropriate follow up question I wish I'd been witty enough to ask at the time:

So does your "rape fantasy" include a "being arrested fantasy", an "incarceration fantasy",  and a "criminal record fantasy"? 

I've been using air quotes because what many people refer to by "rape fantasy" is a complete bastardization of the words themselves. Rape is by definition non-consensual. Rape cannot be wanted, and rape is always a heinous crime. If someone legitimately has a rape fantasy (note lack of air quotes), they are in need of psychiatric assistance.

What uninformed persons refer to as a "rape fantasy" is in reality a role-play scene of consensual non-consent (CNC). Legally, all partners of any sexual activity must be able to withdraw their consent at any point. How this is communicated can look like a lot of different things from yelling stop to dropping a marble, but the withdrawal consent must always be respected.

My mind explodes because there is no more blatant inculcation of rape culture than the poor word choice of "rape fantasy". When rapists hear other people have "rape fantasies", they don't hear the air quotes, and they think what they do is more acceptable.

Also consider that whoever this desire is disclosed to may themselves be a survivor.

So please file "rape fantasy" away in the "don't f%$ing say it pile" alongside other oppressive language like slurs based on race, ability, sex, sexuality, etc...