This and that

Phew. Winding down my first year of grad school while suffering a relapse of my chronic back pain and a killer round of seasonal allergies has meant I haven’t posted as regularly as I’d like. Heck, I even missed shameless self-promotion Sunday this week, which is a travesty. Anyway, until I can get to some of the things floating around in my wee brain (like the hunger strike over at my alma mater, butch visibility, rural queerness, and how it’s possible for Boston to support so many different queer women’s dance nights with such distinct clienteles), here are some quick hits on things that I’ve come across at work lately. (Shhh…)

In 1995, California became the first state to specifically ban gender differences in pricing for services. Assemblywoman Jackie Speier (D- San Francisco) had introduced AB 1100, The Gender Tax Repeal Act, a year earlier, but the first version was overturned by the governor. From a press release:

Upon introduction of this year’s bill, Speier met with the Administration and carved out a compromise agreement which reduced the scope of the bill to include only services and not products. Language was also added to clarify that price differences based specifically upon the amount of time, difficulty or cost of providing the service are not prohibited.

The only good link I could find was to a Harvard Law Review article in JSTOR, so apologies to those of you without fancy-pants institutions.

I also uncovered the text of “A Million Jockers, Punks, and Queens: sex among American male prisoners and its implications for concepts of sexual orientation,” a lecture delivered by Stephen Donaldson at the Columbia University Seminar on Homosexualities in 1993. Here’s a bit from the beginning that I found particularly interesting:

Considering the numerical significance of the prisoner population, not only at any one time but in terms of the enormous cumulative number of American males who have experienced the subculture of confinement, it is remarkable that the sexuality of prisoners has barely been examined by academically-affiliated scholars. Remarkable, but understandable: the walls exist as much to keep civilians out as to keep the prisoners in, and academics are generally more interested in studying middle-class people like themselves.

Donaldson goes on to point out one of the signs that language isn’t universal when it comes to notions of sex and sexuality (he’s referencing a study by Nacci and Kane of homosexuality in federal prisons):

The federal employee doing interviews asked prisoners: ‘Have you had a homosexual experience in prison as an adult?” The middle-class researchers think this refers to any same-sex involvement, but the lower-class prisoner thinks he is being asked about passive behavior, since he does not consider penetration of another male to be a ‘homosexual’ act; he may be fucking his cellmate every night but will truthfully, as far as he is concerned, answer ‘no.’ And many of the researchers and interviewers have been employees of the authorities whose main purpose appears to be to justify existing policies of blanket sexual prohibition rather than to understand actual behavior.

Interesting stuff. You can read the rest (I plan to) at Stop Prison Rape.

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