Identities

Information from Autonomous groups will be posted as it is received.


Asexuality is usually defined as the lack of sexual attraction, and one of its most cited studies suggests that up to 1% of the world fall somewhere on the asexual spectrum.

Within the asexual community, there can be an incredible amount of diversity. When thinking about asexuality, it helps to recognise that there are different types of attraction and relationships. As such, some aces have a romantic orientation, and call themselves hetero, homo, bi or pan-romantic. Generally that means that they are interested in romantic relationships, but nothing sexual. Some aces don’t have a romantic orientation and call themselves aromantic, but still enjoy close platonic relationships. To complicate things further, some asexual people (especially those in romantic relationships) are happy to engage in sexual behaviour to please a partner or even because they enjoy the act of sex, while others are repulsed or simply not interested. Similarly, some asexuals masturbate and some don’t. Behaviour doesn’t determine orientation.

There are many things that asexuality isn’t. It isn’t the same as sexual dysfunction and in most cases it has no medical reason behind it. It isn’t a cheap excuse for not committing to a relationship. It doesn’t mean that someone is ashamed or prudish about sex. In fact, many asexuals openly identify as sex positive, as long as being sex-positive includes the freedom to not want to have sex.

Sometimes even the GLBT community assumes that everyone forms relationships in the same way, and that sexual relationships are somehow more important than other relationships. For asexuals, romantic and platonic relationships can be just as important and intimate as sexual relationships, if not more so. Being asexual means having to figure out what sorts of relationships you form, what works for you, and what doesn’t. Sometimes that can be a difficult process, because it involves re-writing the way we think about relationships. In that sense, asexuality is queer in itself, because it doesn’t conform to the way of doing things that is presented as normal in western society.

Asexual: Someone who doesn’t experience sexual attraction

Demisexual: Someone who may develop sexual attraction after a period of emotional bonding.

Grey-asexual: Someone on the spectrum of asexuality, but not completely asexual. Either between the two places or phasing to different parts of the spectrum.

Aromantic: Someone who doesn’t experience romantic attraction.

Demiromantic: Someone who may develop romantic attraction after a period of platonic friendship.

Grey-romantic: Someone who is on the spectrum between romantic and aromantic. Either between the two places or phasing to different parts of the spectrum.

 

A description of the disabilities caucus

The Disabilities caucus is a space for people with disabilities and people who experience ableist oppression. This includes (but is not limited to): people with physical, mental, learning, developmental, social, hearing, visual, and/or sensory disabilities and/or impairments, mental illnesses, chronic illnesses, debilitating medical conditions, and/or members of the d/Deaf and Autism Spectrum communities. We seek to challenge ableism-prejudicial attitudes that equate devalued bodily conditions with decreased social value- and to reframe terms so that impairment refers to: the actual functional limitation within a person; and disability: the loss or limitation to take part in life on an equal level with others due to physical and social barriers. In this way we have a political framework from which to perceive our bodies/minds and the world from a new and empowered perspective. It gives us the words to describe our experiences of inequality and opens our hearts and minds by offering an alternative conceptualization of “the problem’’ through locating it externally within the environment; creating a collective identity which allows for a sense of purpose, political strength and solidarity to develop between us.

Below is a statement of disability politics for the reader outlining the politics underpinning the caucus. It is also intended to be the article for pro-caucus members to read and discuss when disabilities caucus is meeting.

Disability politics 101- The social model of disability

The disability movement began in the UK in the 1970s. We reclaimed the term ‘disability’ from professionals in medicine and social care who viewed it as a personal affliction, entirely reconstructing its meaning in the light of the social exclusions encountered in our own lived experience (UPIAS, 1976). In a radical move, we severed the presupposed causal link whereby impairment resulted in disability, asserting instead that disability was an entirely socially caused phenomenon. Disability was reformulated to mean the social disadvantages and exclusions that people with impairment faced in all areas of life: employment, housing, education, civil rights, transportation, negotiation of the built environment, sexuality and so forth. Traditional medical and welfarist models of disability, together with their culturally pervasive ‘personal tragedy’ counterpart, were thrown aside in favour of a social definition of disability. Mike Oliver coined the phrase ‘the social model of disability’ to capture this new paradigm, and it became a touchstone in Disability Studies and the disabled people’s movement in the UK. The social model of disability unleashed a powerful drive for social and political change. Disability was exposed as a form of social oppression and exclusion that should not be tolerated, analogous to already recognised oppressions associated with gender, race, class and sexuality. Once this understanding of disability is adopted, the manifestations of ablism can be readily observed: a wheelchair user or a person with visual impairment cannot access public transport systems, or is not able to obtain a quality education that would enable them to compete for well-paid jobs in the labour market, or is represented as a person of lesser value in films and other media. The disabling ‘social barriers’ in the lives of people with impairments can be identified and challenged because socially created barriers can be dismantled. As people with disabilities the social model has enabled a vision of ourselves free from constraints of disability (oppression) and provided a direction for our commitment to social change. It has played a central role in promoting disabled people’s individual self-worth, collective identity and political organisation. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that the social model has saved lives (Crow, 1996: 207).

Notes on normative language (why I like Disability with a capital D to signify pride)

When you say that we are not disabled, when you say that we are “better than that”; that instead we are “handicapable”, simply “differently” abled, or when you haphazardly throw a parenthesis around an unsuspecting prefix, what you are really saying is that you are afraid. You are afraid of acknowledging the fact that someone can be disabled and still be human being, no more and no less than anyone else. You are afraid of our bodies; and try to lessen the blow by concealing them with normative labels.

When you say “See the Person, Not the Disability”; what you mean is: our bodies should be ignored and our experiences erased in order to make you more comfortable with our presence. What you mean is: Disabled bodies are offensive, macrabe, and they must be overlooked in order for the substance and the humanity of the person to be seen.

When you separate the person from the disability, you are erasing and denying a part of that person’s identity. People are not their disability, but their disability is a part of them, and you shouldn’t have to erase it, ignore, or see past it, in order to accept them (Source: http://fuckthedisabled.tumblr.com/labels )

Extracts from above from:

Thomas, C, 2004, Disability and Impairment in Swain, J, French, S, Barns, C & Thomas, C, (eds), 2004, Disabling Barriers-Enabling Environments, (2end ed.), Sage Publications, London. 

Garland-Thomson, R, 2006, Integrating Disability, Transforming Feminist Theory in Davis, L, (ed) 2006, The Disabilities Studies Reader (2end ed.)

 

 

Sex Work has been decriminalised in New South Wales for 17 years. NSW sex workers currently enjoy the health and wellbeing outcomes of what is recognised by the UN as the world’s best practice model for sex work regulation. These include:

-a better rate of sexual health than the general population

-a lower rate of alcohol and other drug use (compared with other Australian states) and, with the exception of tobacco, an equivalent rate of use to the general population.

-increased scope for community development and peer education

-better protection from exploitation

-appropriate workplace health and safety

Laws regarding sex work vary in other Australian states and territories. In some states sex work is legal but heavily regulated. In Queensland, for example, oppressive laws include mandatory safe sex and the stipulation that private workers must work alone. Further to this, entrapment by police is legal, which means police can and do contact sex workers posing as clients, offering them extra money to break these laws and then arresting them if they agree. In Tasmania although private sex work is legal, it is illegal to operate a brothel and in some circumstances police may enter what they deem to be a brothel and also make arrests without a warrant. In Victoria all private workers and escorts are required to register as such with the Business Licensing Authority and are prohibited from working from their home or hotel room. Street based sex work is illegal in several states. Western Australian and South Australian sex workers are currently campaigning for full decriminalisation.

Whatever the local laws, stigmatisation and discrimination remain universal concerns for sex workers. Conservative social values and/or a lack of understanding of sex work leads to marginalisation. Decreased access to services and support, and social isolation are very real fears still faced by sex workers in NSW and elsewhere.

If you’d like to know more, or if you are a sex worker seeking information or support:

-The NSW Sex Workers Outreach Project is online at http://www.swop.org.au.

-Links to state based sex worker organisations around Australia can be found here -http://www.swop.org.au/links.

-Scarlett Alliance, the national peak sex worker organisation, are at http://www.scarletalliance.org.au

 


Queeredge
is the position of not taking drugs, especially alcohol – in a queer way!

The word ‘Queeredge’ is derived from Straightedge, which grew out of a reaction to the culture of drinking, smoking and other drugs within the American punk movement in the 1980s. Today’s Australian cultures, both queer and non-queer are also dominated by drinking and use of other drugs, which affect us all whether or not we participate. Alcohol is a feature of almost all organised social events. The many drinking events organised in the Mardi Gras and other queer festivals are good examples. Within an alcohol-saturated queer culture there are sites of resistance to this pattern of behaviour. Queeredge is a haven for people who don’t align with this dominant culture; the spaces and events of queer bodies who choose not to drink or take intoxicants.

However Queeredge is more than an issue that has relevance to queer communities. We believe that it is inherently queer to choose to refuse to impair our ability to be thinking, conscious agents in our world, to not abdicate our responsibility, not require inebriation to allow us to be who we want, but to go ahead and make the changes we want to see in ourselves, consciously, with our eyes open; as queer as the choice to acknowledge heteronormative society and our relation to it.

We want to open up space for Queeredgers, raise awareness of our existence and fight discrimination against us and our allies. Many of us, and not only us, have been pressured to drink or take other drugs. Many of us hide our preferences – in a closet, if you will – for fear of ridicule, harassment or loss of respect. Many of us feel forced to lie regularly, making up excuses for not having a drink, such as driving or medication. Many of us are assumed to thus be sick, religious, a recovering alcoholic or constantly available to look after drunk friends, when we let slip our preference. Many of us have to watch our friends’ drunken behaviour ad nauseum, or we are isolated if we avoid such situations. On the other hand, we also get ostracised when our friends are paranoid that we’ll ‘judge’ them if we are sober while they aren’t.

There is a particular need for Queeredge consciousness in queer communities, which tend to have statistically high incidence of substance abuse and whose social interactions often revolve around pubs and clubs. Understanding Queeredge, acknowledging our existence and doing more to make these communities safe and accessible for us is also a big step towards making queer communities – and the wider world – safer for everyone to make their own choices.

Queer talks about making space for a diversity of preferences and identities. Queeredge is standing up to be counted.

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