Friday, December 28, 2007

My Resources

I seem to be wanting lately to fuse entirely different trains of thought -- entirely different stories. Partly that's just how I always work in writing -- maybe it's just my own attempt at globalization... of course we all know where that can lead. A definite need for a rollback is on the horizon -- still, I'm going to give it another shot this morning.

Yesterday in Alaska, a superior court judge ruled that Alaska had, indeed, had the right to tell Exxon it didn't accept a plan to build a massive pipeline to support the drilling of an enormous amount of reserves. Exxon and partners hold a lease for the land under which holds 8 trillion to 9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and hundreds of millions of barrels of liquids, both crude oil and natural gas liquids.

The Court did say that Exxon had another shot at trying to figure out a plan, disallowing Alaska's attempt to revoke the lease altogether.

Alaska Pipeline at sunset
Photo by Alaska Stock

Pipelines are big, leak, stay forever...

Okay -- here's the second thing occupying my brain. Yesterday I engaged in a conversation poorly -- and irritated afterwards, I wrote a friend for a little girl power. The issue was sexism, how we respond -- the problem is that any engagement in the conversation feels like a defeat -- as does any avoidance of the conversation...

My friend works for Care, and here was part of her amazing response...

A colleague whose public health work with sex-worker populations challenged me recently to take a position on the Indian government's latest effort to do the right thing for gender equality and public health - rather than criminalizing the sex worker, criminalize the client - what did I think? My head was spinning - of course, criminalizing the client is still reinforcing the notion that selling sex is wrong. But we know that thousands of women don't want it seen as a sin, just a reality stripped away of its deeper meaning. and criminalizing the client is another way of penalizing the sex worker - of threatening her chosen livelihood, and casting her trade as a menace to decent society.

I met the head of a sex-worker's organization in Peru, who says "I'm a decent hooker" - by which she means, she plies her trade with integrity, respect for herself and her client, and with no shame. Is she exploited? Surely, she is - not only because the system uses her trade as a reason to deny her all sorts of human and civil rights, but also because her very existence is fodder to reinforce the myths about women as sexual playthings which, even if they don't reflect the reality of her, get projected onto her and all women. But on another level, if she stands toe-to-toe with a congressman in demanding decent life insurance, a pension, labor standards, and an end to police brutality for sex workers, isn't she fighting back against that plaything image?

I think the question is the same: if we use what we have, do we still maintain any rights? If our only means to income resides in the body, in the land, in the resources of those things, how do we then fight later for protection -- for respect -- for autonomy to make the decisions about how exactly we are going to allow ourselves to be used?

When we trade what is most intimate in a public arena... shame and regret and pollution... and can we maintain ownership and rights and respect?

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