Here are a couple of “sex-in-the-news” quickies that I’ve been meaning to blog about and haven’t. I’m headed out tomorrow for a week and a half and since I’m not going to get around to detailed posts on these items any time soon, I figured I’d just toss them out for you to read on your own.
- Circumcision of boys has been in the news lately as two divorced parents exhaust the legal system in a fight over whether the father can have their 12-year-old son circumcised. This is not a brand new case, but it is interesting to me in part because of the age of the boy. Shouldn’t the boy have a say? There is no claim that the surgery is for any other than religious purposes. Religious conversion is a personal matter. It isn’t as if we’re discussing whether a minor should be allowed to reject medical treatment over the wishes of his parents. Shouldn’t it be his choice?
- The New York Times blows an editorial about anti-trafficking legislation being considered in Albany by completely separating sex and work. They talk about how people are trafficked for “forced sex or labor,” as if forced sex isn’t labor. In fact, by using a term like “forced sex” instead of “forced sex work” they are conflating prostitution with rape in a way that is entirely unhelpful to prostitutes or to rape victims. They accurately report that the penalties for sex trafficking would be higher than the penalties for labor trafficking (this is without regard to the age of the trafficked victims), again seeming to say that it is more acceptable to be trafficked for purposes of forced labor in a factory or field or private home than it is to be trafficked for the purpose of strip club, massage parlor or brothel work. It seems to me that all forced labor is appallingly wrong and that to separate out some forced labor as sex, and thus not work, is to reinforce the stigma attached to sexual labor and thus injure again the people who have been forced into it.
- On the other hand, the New York Times also ran a good article on homeless shelters for gay teens and a few weeks earlier they’d run an article on a shelter in Queens, New York, that takes in transgender teens. Estimates by shelter workers and surveys of homeless youths indicate that about 1 in 5 homeless teens and kids is gay. (For perspective, fewer than 1 in 10 adults identifies as gay.) The kids interviewed for the article reported appalling abuses by family, friends of family, and by shelter workers at other homeless shelters. Earlier in the month I blogged about the Safe Harbor legislation also being considered in New York State and argued it was especially important, but the Times editorial on trafficking, mentioned above, makes it sound as if that legislation has been left out of the larger trafficking bill. Perhaps we need a phone/letter campaign to make sure it is considered separately!
Isn’t it amazing that the issues we discuss here seem to be always in the news. Yet another reason to expand the space for sex in the public square!