Domestic Workers in New York Win First-Ever Job Protections

Photo: Scott Lu.

Domestic workers in New York have won historic changes to the state’s labor law to include protections for their jobs. Final votes on Thursday ended weeks of wrangling between state Assembly and Senate leaders and Governor David Paterson, who said he would sign the bill.

The law guarantees domestic workers time-and-half pay for more than 40 hours and a day off each week, along with protection under worker compensation and anti-discrimination law and access to unemployment insurance. The compromise bill won’t include original demands for paid sick and vacation days and advance notice of termination. But three paid days off were granted after a year of service.

Continue reading Domestic Workers in New York Win First-Ever Job Protections

Facing Funding Shortfall, Worker Centers Keep Organizing

Just as worker centers are reporting an increase in calls and drop-ins, and ripe potential among members, some are facing funding shortfalls that jeopardize their work.

Some centers depend on foundation money for 80 percent or more of their operations. As the plunging stock market drains foundations’ reserves, the well could run dry.

With the need for their work growing in a cutthroat economy, worker centers are scrambling to make ends meet. They’ve gained momentum in recent years for workers who aren’t in unions, battling immigrant bashing, winning millions of dollars in stolen wages, and providing a political orientation to thousands of members. So how to keep the doors open? Continue reading Facing Funding Shortfall, Worker Centers Keep Organizing

Muslim Workers Demand Time for Prayer at Meatpacking Plants

Muslim workers at meatpacking plants owned by JBS Swift in Colorado and Nebraska walked out in September to demand time for prayer and dinner during their holy month of Ramadan. When the company agreed, other workers, largely Latino immigrants, led counter-protests, complaining that the Muslims were being favored.

A month earlier, Tyson chicken processing workers in Shelbyville, Tennessee, represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), signed a contract that made Eid al-Fitr, the day marking the end of Ramadan, a paid holiday they could take instead of Labor Day. The contract triggered community outrage, but the union said it made sense for the hundreds of Muslim workers. Continue reading Muslim Workers Demand Time for Prayer at Meatpacking Plants

Bitching about feeding porn

This month’s Bitch takes on porn with feeding in “Feast of Burden: The transgressive, disturbing world of ‘feeding’ porn”. For the uninitiated, feeding is the erotic act of eating to gain weight, done alone or with a partner.

The art betrays the conclusion. Erotic eating is just a huge, feminist mess, right?
The art betrays the conclusion. Erotic eating is just a huge, feminist mess, right?

For those of us in the scene, or following the scene, women with politics or a sense of feminism, we’ve had so many debates about the implications of feederism that we’re knock-down drag-out tired of the debate and the half-assed way it gets dealt with my the mainstream AND the alternative media. When we hear that it’s getting written up by Bitch, a alt feminist mag I got mad respect for, we get ready for the bruising, cause we know this shit’s not gonna get done right.

The article made me roll my eyes, get angry, tired. I feel burnt out trying to defend this little community. Oh, the feminists in the fat and fat-porn and feeder-porn communities (don’t confuse them, they are separate and not all agree) are just tired of trying to explain it to everyone.

I wrote a critique of the article, which I’ll post below. It’s not fully-edited, but neither is my blog.

I didn’t get into this in my comment, as it was already dealt with by others, but the model in question, Ivy, is by far one of the most female-oriented women in the biz. Her and her pals (other models) dream up their sets. While men play a HUGE role as clients, she ain’t got a manager, a feeder, or a dude tellin’ her what to do. She is the real-deal, and as such, an incredible resource for the feminist community, should they want to really understand fat women and feedee women.

Her site is http://www.hotfattygirl.com but note that this site does include suggestive imagery and toplessness. NSFW.

What’s most disturbing about Hester’s article is that it’s one of those poorly-done incendiary political pieces that causes a stir of trouble and controversy, but does nothing to heighten or renew a feminist debate about feeder porn. Many fat- and not-fat-feminist women have been talking about the implications of the “scene” for many years. I’m not sure Hester, in her freshman attempt for Bitch, was the best situated to bring the debate to the next level.

We could go on for hours about whether or not an article about fat porn needs to contact a model used as an example. I tend to think, out-of-context, no. Models are well aware that they have commercialized identities, separate from themselves, that will be critiqued.

However, Hester failed to do enough work, and was a lazy academic writer, sourcing only literature that upheld her feminism, not informed by any conversations with the women involved. I am not a by-the-books feminist. I do not think we can have thesis that are unproven, and I trust women’s lived experiences to create a road map for our theory. As such, I’m not an academic, and would’ve trusted Hester’s voice and authenticity if she had approached this as a journalist – rather than a academic. Even for opinion pieces, we have to make sure we’ve asked the right questions.

Why didn’t Hester do a survey of the industry and get a sense of how many models manage their own sites and how many have active male managers or feeders? Certainly she was curious enough?

As I type, I know that I’m being too unfair to academia. No good academician makes statements without interviewing subjects.

As a fat feminist, I hear some of Hester’s points, and I believe that we can, and need, to critique this industry from a feminist viewpoint. We HAVE to analyze how selling sex to men impacts women.

However, many fat feminists before me have noted, as I will now, that the way fat is sensationalized, dissected, and hated by thin feminists never makes us feel welcome to the conversation. And, ladies, you need us. You need us to understand this phenomenon that at quick-glance looks like a worst nightmare. You need us to help navigate this rocky and emotional terrain. Feederism is hard to swallow, and I would never ask that anyone just accept it. There’s a lot to fear, and a lot of women to fear for.

However, it’s a lot more complicated than Hester and other contemporaries have made it.

Family

My sister’s house is the kind of quiet that hurts my ears, only crickets pierce the silence in the country. Quiet is nice sometimes as a challenge to the noise I tend to prefer.

My friend Liz and I talked earlier this weekend about the “narcissim of depression.” That’s part of my mother’s narrative, I’d like it not to be my own.

I’m coming to to conclusion that the only thing that has ever saved me is loving other people. Not to be altruistic, rather for my own peace. Family is probably the most important ideology I have right now-given and chosen.

I think the next few years of my life will be more about developing mutual support structures with this “family,” though who knows where and what that’ll be. I’m having a really good time exploring what it means to honor a family outside the constructs of whiteness, wealth, ownership, monagamy.

What’s up in the air is whether I’ll get to a stage where I’ll have more answers than questions-but is that even a worthy goal?

Being around my mom in this rehab facility is making me ask more questions, which is good, I think. How to be healthy? How to take care of our elders? Who gets access to health, and care? And the never ending question of my activist friends also raised in this rural county-what is community?

hallway conversations

This weekend was so full of people, laughter, politics, thoughts and questions asked and answered, it felt like a week’s vacation. The Allied Media Conference was in Detroit. Though I was on the periphery of the conference itself, the folks in town (and Detroiters who came out) filled my house, space, and heart with a whole lot of healing vibes when they were most needed. I wrote little clips of what I heard or thought or shared this weekend. As I wrote, folks called for a place to crash and some hanging out. There is nothing the heals despair like sharing resources—and laughter—readily.

Fuck white people, but some of them are real hot. Cooking food communally, making big messes and putting the crumbs away (or not). The sounds and smells of vegan cooking (“that was so wet”). To the Midwest, rural and urban and trying to put the pieces together. How is it that all these activists are depressed, is that why we’re activists? Child’s laughter, our laughter. Raucus ruckus. Discussing putting down roots instead of going where it’s sexy (“these white kids…”). Being grumpy around people who love you enough to wait until the sky breaks. Skunky beer, gotta drink the beer the people drink. Skipping classes to learn other things, learning things in classes. PYT and dancing even if you feel awkward.”I don’t give a FUCK!” (and how good it feels to say that). Crushing hard on strong women. Loving your crew and validating your strengths, and big weaknesses, together. Fighting to stay out of soul train lines, stepping back. STEPPING BACK! Listening a little bit more. “I’ve never been so unhappy,” but realizing that’s not true and being thankful. Wishing you could sing, blessed by those that can. “In spite of your racial handicap, you handle Detroit really well.” Crimethink still exists? Not knowing where the queer makeout party was, though y’all weren’t gonna go. Putting your head down, because you don’t know if you’re able to find the words. The Detroit disaster and rebirth narrative. Realizing that as a child, I trusted my creativity. Laughing until it hurts at the playground, putting shoes back on tiny feet. Luna negra, el color de tu madre–mine is pale and oh, so sick and it hurts. Almost crying over hummous and oh, these boys and their emotions faintly disguised as rationality, trust women in what is observable. Men you trust sharing your space. Women who trust you. Feeling safe (and not). Loving white girlfriends and those struggling to reconcile. “You all talk about language too much.” Hiding erotica purchases from bible-buyers. Buying large print bibles. Honoring sleep (or not).

Begging summer to stay

I’m always half-basketcase about mid-July, because oh my god, summer is ALMOST OVER and I haven’t DONE ANYTHING that I lived most of winter dreaming about.


This weekend knocked out a few of these goodtime to-dos, like grilling along the water at Belle Isle, swimming at the Kensington Metro Park, and drinking coffee while watching ducks, a heron, and geese chill on a man-made lake in suburbia (okay, this wasn’t really a dream, persay).

And god, if I can eat sushi once a week, how can I be so freaking sad sometimes? It really defies explanation.

Today, however, was partially spent deboweling a computer, which I am neither good at or enjoy. Current irritation level is 110% percent.