The Pornstitution* Debates: Some thoughts on civil debate with Hugo Schwyzer et al.

I wanted to call this post ‘Well, that was a big waste of time’, but am working on presenting a semblance of professionalism and making an effort against cynicism. I’ll keep working at it…

While the purpose of these conversations was to, somehow, engage a civil debate between liberal and radical feminist strains of thought, I am having trouble feeling like this was anything other than a pretty big, fat, fail.

Regardless of what was argued by myself, or by commenters, the responses from those who advocate for ‘sex work’ sounded eerily similar. These were some of the more common points made in response to my and/or some of the commenters’ arguments around prostitutution / pornography and misogyny:

1)    All men aren’t the same and therefore arguments around what men see in pornography are essentializing

2)    There are women who work in the sex industry who enjoy their work.

3)    Radical feminists want to throw women who work in the sex industry in jail

4)    Women buy sex too.

5)    You are rich. Stop making money off of us / who paid your tuition

The individual as audience

One of the primary problems that continues to come up within these debates is the obsessive re-focusing of the conversation onto individual experiences. I argue that the purpose of pornography is male pleasure, at the expense of women and someone responds and says ‘but I don’t objectify women when I watch pornography’ / ‘I don’t watch porn that degrades women’. This seems to miss the point that a) pornography is so normalized that when we see images of objectified women we think this is ‘normal’ and don’t view the images as particularly misogynistic, and b) whatever you’ve decided is progressive in your head doesn’t change the reality of what pornography does to women and how pornography represents women, women’s bodies, women’s sexualities. You don’t get to change the context with your personal experience watching pornography at home. The film has already decided the context for you.

Arguing that men don’t see full human beings in pornography is not the same as saying ‘you, Individual Man, do not think women as a whole are human beings’.  Again, you don’t get to decide the context of the film or the images you are being shown. Pornography does not show women who are human, it shows women as bodies and orifices and things that men are entitled to access for the purposes of their own pleasure. You, Man-on-the-Computer, don’t get to decide what it is that is being conveyed to you when you are watching pornography for the purposes of masturbation. This argument doesn’t essentialize men, it describes the images and messages presented in most pornography.

Individual choice, personal empowerment and criticism of the sex industry

Same goes for the argument around radical feminists ignoring the women who ‘freely choose’ to work in porn and/or prostitution and enjoy their work. No one is ignoring you. We know that you exist. One articulate commenter, Joanne Costello, responded to this argument as such:

“…someone liking their work does not make their industry immune to criticism. From a socialist feminist perspective, we ALL live in contradiction…simply by participating in the world food system, I am screwing over other women every day who have lost their land and subsistence to corporations marketing goods to the developed world. I think when we OWN our contradictory and complex positions in global capitalism and are seen working to emancipate ourselves and not just working to “save” other people, we gain trust. I don’t think anyone can empower someone else – we have to work on our lives, challenge social structures and act as allies to facilitate change.”

And Kathy wrote:

“Re: the teeny minority of self defined “sex workers” who enjoy it. Since when is enjoyment or pleasure or *feelings* of empowerment–*feelings* in and of themselves- the same as truth or reality? What sort of argument is being made here? Feelings are also socially constructed in a capitalist/patriarchal society: think of mania for commodities; see the mobs going crazy after sports events (like in Vancouver now?). Lots of feeling there: does it mean consumerism and mob-violence is ok? Men feel empowered by raping: so, do we validate rape? Abolitionists of slavery didn’t care what made a few slaves content–slavery is wrong. Selling people is wrong, no matter how content someone is to sell themselves. These ideas about individual empowerment and pleasure are all part of the way we are bamboozled in neoliberalism. Since when has being content with one’s lot stood as an argument that one’s lot is therefore just and right? We don’t have to tell an individual woman “porn star” about what her “experience” is in order to critique the prostitution of women as a societal institution–to critique the demand by men that women’s bodies are for sale.”

One does not need to work in the sex industry in order to critique it. That’s insane. That would be like arguing that one couldn’t possibly have opposed slavery without having actually experienced being a slave themselves. Or that one could not oppose homophobia without being gay. Or that vegans have no right to actively oppose the consumption of animal products since they, themselves, are not the animals who are being consumed. I would also like to remind everyone that it is WOMEN who are hurt by pornography. It is WOMEN who, under patriarchy are raped and abused en masse. It is WOMEN who are prostituted and it is WOMEN who are objectified and degraded in pornography. And therefore, as a WOMAN, I oppose this degradation and exploitation and oppression of yes, me, but more importantly, millions of other WOMEN in this world.

Simply because a woman claims to have chosen to work in the sex industry does not change the fact that this industry is misogynistic and oppressive to women (not just oppressive to you, Individual, but to women as a whole). Your personal experience does not alter the images of women being ejaculated on. It does not alter the way in which pornography dehumanizes women. The images presented in pornography do not disappear because you, as an individual enjoyed your experience.

This argument/conversation was never about your personal experience. This does not mean that your individual experience is being denied, it means that your individual experience does not change the argument radical feminists are making about the ties between male domination and the sex industry.

Criminalization

For, what I’m sure will not be the last time, I would like to point out that I have not, nor has any other radical feminist or abolitionist involved in this conversation, argued for the criminalization of women in the sex industry. What we have argued for is the DE-criminalization of women and the criminalization of male buyers and sellers of sex. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why this misconception continues to be reiterated over and over again without any foundation but I suppose as long as it is, radical feminists will continue to refute it. It simply isn’t true. It will never be true. Ending prostitution will not come from incriminating prostituted women.

Making the exception the rule

There is something else I’ve found common to the pro-sex work argument and that is pointing to the exception rather than the rule. For example: ‘what about feminist pornography’/’what about women who buy sex’?

In terms of addressing arguments around ‘feminist pornography’ I’d like to point out a couple of things that frame my argument. As pointed out by Andrea Dworkin, the root of the word pornography means ‘the graphic depiction of whores’. The vast majority of pornography is made for heterosexual men and is sexist. Therefore, the term ‘feminist pornography’ in my opinion, is an oxymoron. Pornography isn’t feminist. There is such a thing as feminist erotica, feminist depictions of female bodies and lives and sexualities, but ‘feminist pornography’? It not only doesn’t make sense but, if we have decided that there is indeed such a thing, it exists as such a tiny minority within the vast sea of misogynist pornography that it couldn’t possibly counter the impact of ‘Pornography: The Industry’. The exception is not the rule. And the rule is that pornography is made for men and prostitution exists because of male buyers. The few odd women who have paid for sexual services exist (yes, they do exist, I acknowledge this), but do not come anywhere near floating the industry. Never have, never will. Prostitution has never been about female pleasure or female empowerment. The vast majority of buyers (of men, women, and children) are men.

I did find this comment from ‘MaggieK’ interesting and think that she brings up some valid questions:

She writes:

“ Why do so many radical feminists persist in using “pornography” as shorthand for “the mainstream porn industry”? It’s not that many  extra words. I can see by Meghan’s reference to feminist erotica that she is not in fact using the standard definition of “pornography” as encompassing pretty much any kind of erotic imagery and thus value neutral, and frankly this is only going to keep confusing people.

Of COURSE the porn industry as it stands is abusive, misogynist and generally terrible. I have NEVER seen a feminist argue that it isn’t. But, newsflash: people (not just men, natch) are not going to stop being visually aroused. It is unrealistic to expect to rewire human beings so that they no longer want to look at sexy things. All we can do is try to change the definition of “sexy” – and I’m pretty sure Meghan actually agrees with me, or she wouldn’t have mentioned feminist erotica.

Deciding that “pornography” can only be used to refer to “bad pornography” is a) tautological and therefore unproductive in debates like this and b) completely useless at actually changing pornographic trends, which will only happen if people support the shit out of independant companies producing ethical porn, thus REPLACING mainstream (abusive) porn. You can call it feminist erotica if you like, but it’s still porn. It’s just not horrible. Deal with it.”

I do see quite a big difference between feminist erotica and pornography and, in many ways I feel like pornography is a lost cause. What is called ‘feminist pornography’ is often not particularly feminist (meaning that simply having a female director or producer does not necessarily make a film feminist) and what I see as being ‘feminist erotica’ usually is much more complex and completely disrupts the objectifying male gaze, which doesn’t seem to happen much even in what is labelled as ‘feminist’ or ‘ethical’ pornography.

I wonder what others think? Is it more productive to stick with a definition of pornography that best represents most of the pornography out there and use separate definitions for that which actually presents a challenge to the mainstream? Or do we work to create pornography that isn’t ‘pornography’ as we know it, altering what people watch in that way?

Big sighs

My initial reactions to this ‘exchange’ have not been positive (though I have learned a lot from many of the feminists who posted some very challenging and thoughtful comments both on my blog and on Hugo’s). I can’t help but feel as though many of the ‘pro-pornstitution’ arguments are disingenuous. So many don’t seem to respond to the arguments actually made by radical feminists and, within this particular conversation, they have had little to do with anything I argued in my responses to Hugo.

The existence of women who buy sex or women who enjoy sex work does not make a dent of difference in terms of what is happening to women, en masse, all over the world. It doesn’t change what pornography looks like, it doesn’t change how men see women, it doesn’t change the way in which so many women are actually hurt and abused and murdered because of these industries. What do these arguments do? Brush the truth under the carpet. Brush context under the carpet. They work to normalize the objectification and abuse of women. These arguments, in this context, are not ‘pro-woman’, they are pro-patriarchy, they work to perpetuate industries that hurt women.

Not interested in the conversation? Let’s make it personal.

One derail that did surprise me, though it shouldn’t have, as it is an all too common way to steer the conversation immediately off-topic, is of course the: I-demand-to-know-personal-details-about-your-life-which-have-no-relevance-to-this-conversation. For example: ‘how did you pay for your education’, ‘have you ever been abused’, ‘what personal issues do you/have you had with men that turned you into such a crazy bitch’ (I paraphrased a little there on that last one). My personal life and/or finances and/or past experiences with abuse and/or personal relationships with men are absolutely none of your business. I have experienced abuse, I have an embarrassingly huge student debt which I doubt I will ever be able to pay off, all of the feminist work I do, I do for free, I come from a working class family, there are men in my life who are great, and there have been men in my life who were assholes and misogynists. I do not need to qualify my writing by telling angry strangers on the internet very personal details about my life. The massive assumptions that have been made about my life are laughable, but they are also frightening. To me they represent an absolute lack of interest in engaging with the real issues. So claims to care very deeply about the lives of women, unfortunately, are very quickly suffocated by these kinds of personal interrogations. Particularly when the personal questions are unrelated to the arguments I am making.

These questions do have a purpose, they are intended to discredit. Unfortunately for those who are working very hard to discredit and invalidate rather than engage, feminists get to speak about feminism not because they were abused or because they are poor or because they were prostituted, but because they are feminists. Women who have been abused or who are poor or who have been prostituted also get to speak, but not simply because of these experiences, but because they are women and their experiences are important. I refuse to engage in contests over who is and who is not qualified to speak.   These kinds of demands speak to one thing: a lack of willingness, interest or ability to engage in real dialogue and in the conversation at hand.

Women’s experiences are key to their understanding of patriarchy, oppression, and of feminism, but this does not obligate them to divulge very personal experiences to strangers in order to be ‘justified’ in speaking to issues which impact women and pertain to feminism.

Final thoughts?

So my thoughts on this dialogue with Hugo are this: I’ve heard this all before. It still doesn’t make sense, it still feels as though we are having two separate conversations. It doesn’t feel productive, it feels like a stalemate. Regardless of what is said the same arguments are made over and over again until someone starts shouting obscenities or making personal attacks. It feels like we’ve all worked really hard to have a conversation that goes nowhere.

On a note of positivity, I have to say that after all the frustration and cynicism, I have been so impressed and have learned so much from some of the wonderful radical feminists who commented on my blog and on Hugo’s blog and am grateful to continue learning from these powerful and articulate women.

Some questions for Hugo

So those are my thoughts. And now I’d like to pose some questions to Hugo, both from some commenters and from me.

First, there were some questions which I thought were interesting from a commenter named ‘pisaquari’ for Hugo. I’ve edited these questions a little bit, but not much. I’m hoping he might like to address them. These questions were posed in response to Hugo’s responses to my questions:

1) Why is pornography use incompatible with your sex life? What are the specific lines of impasse between your sex life and using pornography?

2) Is pornography use incongruous with your feminism? What tenets of your feminism are not in line with pornography use?

3) Why is pornography not inextricably linked to your version of intimacy? What version of intimacy do you ascribe to that is undermined by viewing what, could ultimately, turn out to be an empowered, feminist woman?

4) Would you also reject porn made by one of your students who claimed she was empowered by the experience and wanted your opinion? Taking into account that you wouldn’t want to diminish the importance of her personal experience by denying her the right to be viewed…

And some questions from me to Hugo:

– Why choose to question me about things that I have never written or spoken about? For example, PIV? It would seem that such a question would be more appropriately put to someone who had expressed an opinion.

Sidenote: The conversation about PIV was quickly derailed into a conversation about  “tops and bottoms’ in gay relationships between men and S & M. As well as condescending comments about how little I know about sex and pleasure. Which is interesting because I have never claimed to be an expert on such things, nor do I desire to be.

The point I was trying to make had nothing to do with what should or should not give any one person pleasure, but rather, simply, that PIV is about male pleasure and is a male-centric way of defining sex.

I responded to this question, which felt a little out of the blue, seeing as I tried to pose questions to Hugo that were related to conversations we had already been having, as best I could. Luckily some folks like Kathy and Andrew Pari came up with a more solid response than I.

From Andrew Pari:

“Regarding penetration in all its forms: PIV is problematic, not because it is inherently about man’s power over woman’s, but because it is ONLY women who will suffer the various consequences of this specific type of penetration, by men. I.e. pregnancy and its myriad complications including physical and emotional collateral damage, medical problems such as fistulas, etc.

Penetration in other contexts (gay, lesbian) may be about power or may not, but male-to-female penetration (or enveloping, if you prefer) create unique concerns for women.

It’s not about sexual positions.”

And from Kathy:

“Many of the comments here spoke in ways that failed to engage with what Meghan actually said but just reiterated a defense of slutwalk or “sex work” in their own terms. Some hit on kernels of truth–the person who focused on the PIV point– I’m a radical feminist who also thinks that’s a red herring. Penetration isn’t the point, and it did trap you a bit, Meghan, into focusing on interpersonal behavior (of which sure perhaps in subcultures at least there is a great variety of positions taken in the bedroom-or maybe not..) when the real issue is what you call “power” and I call sexualization in general-the organization of society around male dominance which includes the sexualization (starting in infancy) of girls and women to be “for men”–i.e. feminine-ized at the root. Liberalism is genius in its intersection with (hetero)sexualization–since today women’s subordination/sexualization expresses itself as choice, autonomy etc: My choice to express myself as a “slut” which for some strange reason doesn’t deviate a jot from mainstream banalized and pornographic versions of the same. Very rebellious -NOT. Individual changes in the bedroom have no impact on the social structure as a whole.”

Thanks to you both for your thoughtful comments.

My final question to Hugo is this:

– If sex work is the/a manifestation of the problem that is rape and sexual violence, which is, as you say, linked to a profound sense of male entitlement, BUT is not the root of the problem, what is the root and how do we address this? Clearly sex work and pornography have not helped liberate women and clearly these industries have a negative impact on most women. How do we address this? Not how do you address it on a personal level, but how do we address this as feminists who are part of a movement?

There is much more to say but for now I do hope this conversation continues with sincerity and without personal attacks and efforts to derail the conversation.

*term borrowed from Samantha Berg.

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy, founder and editor of Feminist Current, is a freelance writer and journalist. She completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog. Follow her @meghanemurphy

  • http://hexpletive.com hexy

    Hi, Meghan. I followed you over from Hugo’s, obviously.

    To address a couple of your points:

    That would be like arguing that one couldn’t possibly have opposed slavery without having actually experienced being a slave themselves.

    I’m sure you wouldn’t argue that people who have some sort of direct experience of slavery should be considered the experts on the topic and should have their voices privileged in any discussion of the topic. Yet anti sex work radical feminists resolutely refuse to apply this principle to sex workers in discussions of sex work.

    I would like to point out that I have not, nor has any other radical feminist or abolitionist involved in this conversation, argued for the criminalization of women in the sex industry.

    As I pointed out at Hugo’s, anti sex work radical feminists have repeatedly refused to support the work of sex workers when we attempt to have criminalised models repealed, or fight to keep decriminalisation in place where it is the current legislative model. Inaction on this front is just as damning as support of criminalisation itself.

    Furthermore, the Swedish model harms sex workers. It makes sex work more dangerous, and drives it underground, where sex workers are less able to access services and distanced from safe access to law enforcement if we are victims of crime. It has negative health and safety outcomes for sex workers and hands more power to clients, taking it away from sex workers… something I would think that people who think that clients are the “evil” parties would be opposed to. The recent LASH study in Australia found that, out of all the varied legislative models in Australian states and territories, the one with the best health and safety outcome for sex workers was the decriminalisation model in NSW. Which, incidentally, is currently under threat.

    Sex workers don’t want ANY part of our work to be criminalised. It harms us. Why won’t anti sex work radical feminists listen to us on this front?

    • Levi

      “Furthermore, the Swedish model harms sex workers. It makes sex work more dangerous, and drives it underground, where sex workers are less able to access services and distanced from safe access to law enforcement if we are victims of crime. It has negative health and safety outcomes for sex workers and hands more power to clients, taking it away from sex workers… something I would think that people who think that clients are the “evil” parties would be opposed to. The recent LASH study in Australia found that, out of all the varied legislative models in Australian states and territories, the one with the best health and safety outcome for sex workers was the decriminalisation model in NSW. Which, incidentally, is currently under threat.”
      Sorry to say but the Swedish model has NOT made it more dangerous and it has NOT driven it more underground compared to the rest of the world. The real fact is, that Sweden has the lowest number of prostitutes conpared to Denmark and The Netherlands.
      The bad sexbuyers has allways been there as they are everywhere where there are prostitution. They were also buying sex before 1999. So it is a big misinformation from the prostitutionlobby who obviously don’t like the swedish model.

      On the other hand NSW has some very big issues with their legalisation. Headlines from a newspaper New Kerala.com “Illegal brothels sprouting across Australia.” And down in the text….”Some women are held by the brothel until they earn a minimum contract amount – typically for USD 25,000-USD 40,000. The worry is the debt bondage sex workers are often subjected to squalid, unhygienic living and working conditions, with many girls often being forced to live and work within brothels,” the investigator said. “

      • http://hexpletive.com hexy

        There’s no such thing as an “illegal brothel” in NSW. That’s what decriminalisation MEANS. You’re referring to brothels operating without development approval, which is simply a council matter and not an issue of sex worker health and safety.

        As for debt bondage, this is not something that will be fixed by criminalisation… quite the contrary! Sex workers are forced to enter into debt bondage contracts because they are unable to legally migrate to Australia to do sex work and are hence vulnerable to people who coerce them into exploitative situations under the guise of helping them. The answer is to open up visas to sex workers and make them more accessible, enabling more migrant sex workers to have autonomous and affordable travel to this country to work without having to enter into debt bondage to do so.

        • Levi

          I am not sure but I would say that the word Illegal has been used in this article from New Kerala.com Illegal brothels sprouting across Australia

          Melbourne, Nov 15 : Illegal brothels are flourishing across NSW with at least 500 undercover sex shops in the state, outstripping legal brothels by at least two to one, according to experts.

          “Many prostitutes, particularly at illegal brothels, are believed to be drawn into the sex industry by way of debt bondage arrangements,” the investigator said.

          (…)
          Overseas sex workers – particularly from South-East Asia – were being assisted in fraudulently gaining local student visas.

          “They then work as prostitutes,” the investigator said.

          “Some women are held by the brothel until they earn a minimum contract amount – typically for USD 25,000-USD 40,000. The worry is the debt bondage sex workers are often subjected to squalid, unhygienic living and working conditions, with many girls often being forced to live and work within brothels,” the investigator said.

          http://www.newkerala.com/news/world/fullnews-84539.html

          What you are saying about debt bondage is absolutely rubbish and not the true. It will just make the traffcking in persons much easier for the traffickers but it will definatelly not help the girls. The only winners are the traffickers and the customers. In the european countries the citizens are free to travel and work in every EU country but they still have huge problems with trafficking in persons for prostitution from Rumania.

          • http://hexpletive.com hexy

            Trafficking in the EU and trafficking in Australia are very different creatures. For one thing, it’s just less of an issue here than it is in Europe. For another thing, we have far more of the type of “trafficking” where people who intend to be sex workers get here and find themselves trapped in exploitative conditions, not the type of trafficking where people are forced into sex work against their will. I gather that may be more common elsewhere.

            And you may claim that the solution I advocate is “rubbish”, but it’s what’s being advocated in Australia BY MIGRANT SEX WORKERS. I tend to think they know what they’re talking about when they discuss what will best help migrant sex workers avoid exploitative conditions. What’s that saying? Nothing about us without us? Affected communities are the experts on their own lives and work.

    • J

      Are you really trying to assert that women who are not sex workers have no direct experience with the sex industry? That’s absolute nonsense. Where do you think that many of our male partners got their ideas about male and female sexuality? Where do you think we got our own ideas about our own sexuality, about what was expected of us, about what we have the right to expect? In a culture that’s absolutely inundated with images and values that are misogynistic and abusive when it comes to women and sex, it’s disingenuous at best to try to relegate those of us not actually working in the sex industry to the role of “outsiders.” Of course the voices of the people most affected should be privileged, which is exactly why women, ALL women, need to be heard on this issue, because we are the ones with the most to lose, including those of us who do not choose to profit or to seek some kind of personal empowerment from the sex industry.

      • Levi

        @J you are just SOOO right.

    • http://womononajourney.wordpress.com womononajourney

      Hexy,

      I would say you represent the common position of women in the industry who are also privileged enough to be informed on these issues, read feminist blogs, etc.

      A vast, vast number of radfems *do*have experience in the sex industry, but are not willing to speak up about it in public. Indeed, I know women who have specifically said they prefer women who have not been in the industry to speak on their behalf. Keep in mind, virtually all of the women who are exited women said they loved “sex work” while performing it. It’s only in retrospect that they realize what a horrible part of their lives is gone.

      There should be no category of women set aside to be deserving of whatever men want to do to women. As a Women’s Liberationist, that is simply intolerable to me.

  • Thefremen

    I agree about differentiating between “pornography” and “feminist erotica”. That was a hard one to read, especially when I went back and read part 2 with the question about PIV. It just brings me back to when I read “Intercourse” and I was having some anxiety but nothing really bad but the line “Women cannot rape” turned out to be triggering, or rather, the idea. I’m not educated or intelligent in any way, and I realize I’m a statistical outlier in the extreme but on two occasions I woke from a deep sleep to find my penis enveloped by a partner’s vagina, a partner whom I did not previously say that this kind of thing was consented to ahead of time, and in fact, a person with whom I would not want to have sexual contact with of any nature at that point in time. By the logic that act is fundamentally oppressive, even when the penis-haver is not consenting, it would seem to suggest that the penis-haver was still acting as an oppressor, even as he awoke in fear, hurt and anger, waiting silently for it to end, the entire event recorded vividly as it would return in flashbacks.

    Ugh vented a little there, sorry. At any rate, couldn’t agree more about the definition of “sex” being PIV. Although, isn’t any sexual interaction between a man and a woman where a penis is put into an orifice oppressive by the same standards PIV sex is?

  • monkmunk

    Sorry you feel like it was a waste of time, but i can tell you that as a direct result of the conversation between you and Hugo i’ve re-evaluated a lot of my opinions, and taken a hard turn towards the ‘radical’ stance on pornography and prostitution, and i doubt i’m the only one.

    • Meghan Murphy

      That’s good to hear, monkmunk. Like I said, I need to work on this whole cynicism angle.

  • kathy

    Incisive entry Meghan!!! You did an excellent job of analyzing Hugo’s site and I’m amazed wonderfully that one person –monkmunk–was actually influenced by the radical feminist analysis. I still think it’s a waste to deal with the kind of bamboozlement wrapped in male authority that we were subjected to. One thing I would add to your analysis is that the quality of some of the main blow-hard commentators were so aggressively stupid–stupid, and aggressively so, maybe intentionally– and there is something in this. One of the commentators was allowed to keep on justifying why he said that you should be slapped the upside of your head even *after* “apologizing.” Meanwhile, my comments were censored after I used the words dick-ological (to mock a male commentator’s completely usupported use of “tautological”) and mansplaining! I know Meghan that you tried to object to Hugo about this and he ever responded. This obviously supports the mansplaining point. He takes the authority to omit the comments of someone who actually makes an argument. I explained my use of the terms –but since i didn’t *apologize* (Power play) i guess that’s why I and not the slap-on-head comment person was censored.
    to respond to some of the other points above:
    What does it mean to say that people will be always visually aroused? Is this arousal also sexual? It’s true that at least Westerners–are very visually oriented–but this has been exacerbated to the nth power in a scopaphilic, surveillance culture context. I don’t think erotica is the same as pornography- yet i wonder why it’s assumed we NEED visual material that just has the purpose of sexual arousal–as opposed to art that is art, but as part of it might arouse? Also i have never seen erotica that subverts the patriarchal gaze– so i’d love to hear about it!

  • kathy

    To Hexy:
    “Yet anti sex work radical feminists resolutely refuse to apply this principle to sex workers in discussions of sex work.”
    ON what basis are you arguing this? I know of many former prostituted women who are part of abolitionist anti-prostitution campaigns. One of them was Andrea Dworkin herself!
    There are also many routes to finding out what prostituted women think about their experiences: there are studies for example, showing that the vast majority want to exit. I don’t have the figures on hand but I could get them.
    Finally- i reiterate a point made above- it’s perfectly legitimate to make a political and ethical judgment about practices that are wrong whether people express contentment in practicing them or not. Buying and selling people are wrong. period. and presuppose entrenched power relations of domination and subordination that make it possible for one group of people-men–to demand that other people–mostly disenfranchised women–are put on the market. If the latter group decide –in the cases where decision is possible–to be on the market, this doesn’t change the power relation which makes this decision one of the only options in which survival or subsistence is possible.

  • http://www.AMensProject.com Geo

    “If sex work is the/a manifestation of the problem that is rape and sexual violence, which is, as you say, linked to a profound sense of male entitlement, BUT is not the root of the problem, what is the root and how do we address this?”

    IF … – then the issue is ending male entitlement. Hugo – in my estimation seems to believe that he and other men can “liberally” talk to both young women and young men, and that this will somehow result eventually in us men changing. The fact that young women respond much more readily than young men do and that we men are changing at a miniscule rate (if at all) seems immaterial.

    Ending male entitlement is “radical”. “We men” listen to “you women” when it is in our heads and not in our hearts and souls. Unlike racism and homophobia, the “female rebellion” isn’t strong enough as the bonds between women and men are in a sense tighter than in other areas.

    Men need to confront men and recognize the importance of working amongst ourselves and within ourselves to bring about change. We do need to support women. We do need to build coalitions with women’s groups. We need to focus upon and do the tough work (with men)! In the late 1960’s – White Activists – didn’t take in the messages from Blacks that they needed to work with White People instead of continuing to “lead” Civil Rights organizations.

    Men like Hugo and indeed most of us – find it much easier – to stay with the “liberal” approach which can be nurtured easily by the accolades of some women who appreciate a seeming “ally” like Hugo. Women can and do do the necessary work reaching women. The men remain largely unaffected beyond at the surface.

    Men need to reach men! It’s both very simple and very complex!

    • No Sugarcoating

      You’re right, and I think it would be very valuable for men to try to reach other men, but unfortunately there are not that many men that are friendly to anti-prostitution/porn feminism, let alone radical feminism. How did you come to feel this way? Was it another man who clued you in?

      • http://www.AMensProject.com Geo

        No Sugarcoating – Personally – I got in a Men’s Support Group circa 1981, went to a men’s gathering that I heard about from that, began organizing first men’s gathering, then after moving joined the Madison Men’s Center in 1983, a group of us went to a Men’s Conference in St. Paul, MN, USA (we were in Madison, WI) where we were fortunate to hear Andrea Dworkins’ first speech to a predominantly male audience. Dworkin’s words helped inspire us in forming what became Men Stopping Rape, Inc., of Madison, WI USA which for a time was probably the most effective men’s anti-rape group in North America. Now at age 60 – I have a men’s support group (I reached out to get going), and last fall I started: A Men’s Project – http://www.AMensProject.com – which has over 1350 resources trying to reach men (the vast majority of which deal with violence against women related issues).

        I may not be “radical enough” for you or Meghan – but we each need to start where we are at and build from there. There are individuals and groups that men – who want to can easily reach out to. There are far more visible – anti-feminist men’s resources (of course), but we won’t counter them until we organize and build more effectively than we’ve done so far.

    • Michael H.A. Biggs

      Ending male entitlement, Geo? First, I wondered whether you mean “entitlement” like rich people regard themselves as being entitled to be rich. But then I thought, if we are talking about fee for service industries, does this mean that it would be a good thing if ALL purchasers gave up their sense of entitlement to purchase? Or just MALE purchasers? Or if you would restrict it just to sexual services such as being photographed sexually, why are they in a seperate category from (say) being photographed for an advertisement? I think that many women do regard sexual interactions as somehow in a different category from all other services. But I don’t think that this way of looking at it comes very easily to many men. I try to imagine what it must feel like to regard sex as special or sacred in that way, and I find it difficult. So I’m not sure that there is much potential in reaching men with this message.

      I think that for new ideas to become “memes” and spread with energy within a given population, they either have to have some essential good sense to them (eg seat belts save lives, or family violence should be combatted with the force of the law) or hit a ready population at the right time (like videos going viral, or “save the forests”). Its hard to imagine that the idea that porn is in a seperate category from other transactions will become viral among men – it seems anti-intuitive, and like going back to religious wowserism.

  • http://thefivefoldpath.wordpress.com/ EDB5Fold

    I’ve followed both threads and comments here, but not over at Hugo’s because of his history of allowing really egregious comments to stand. This whole post is great, especially the “Individual choice, personal empowerment and criticism of the sex industry” section. The radical position as I’ve always understood it is about the big picture for liberation. Individual empowerfulment*, though understandably desired by many women, is a dead end street as long as there’s still patriarchy.

    “[W]hatever you’ve decided is progressive in your head doesn’t change the reality of what pornography does to women and how pornography represents women, women’s bodies, women’s sexualities. You don’t get to change the context with your personal experience watching pornography at home. The film has already decided the context for you.”

    Yes! I’ve had a couple of thoughts swimming around that I hope I can express clearly here:
    Most porn apologists I’ve come across can’t/won’t admit that there’s inherent objectification in looking at images of strangers having sex (or raping/being raped, as the reality may be). Sex in porn filmed for profit is made to meet the desires of the target demographic, not the desires of the people actually having the sex. (Wasn’t it Stoltenberg who said, “Pornography tells lies about women. But pornography tells the truth about men”?) Porn isn’t, in the vast majority of cases, primarily about the pleasure of the people on camera, and the pleasure itself is often an act, as people here no doubt already know. If a woman depicted does actually feel like she’s expressing her own sexuality, the viewer still has no personal part in it. There’s no connection; no sense that that individual consented to that specific viewer’s actions, much less enjoyed them. The real-life actress is allowed no subjectivity in the matter. The knowledge that anyone could access my image and use it to whatever end they desired without the first thought for my humanity was a factor that kept me out of the industry even when I couldn’t afford both food and heat at the same time during an Illinois winter. I’m fortunate in that I can tolerate the cold. Many others can’t.

    Regarding your question about whether porn can be fixed, I really don’t know. I realize I have a bias toward hoping it can, as someone who used to use so-called amateur porn featuring various genders, races, and kinds of bodies (the sorts of stuff queer pornographers love to talk about). But the male gaze is so normalized that I have no idea what ‘feminist porn’ would even look like, much less how producers and viewers could be certain that there’s no coercion or pressure whatsoever involved. Plus, like you said in your post, as long as we’re still living in the patriarchy, the context for porn is patriarchal. Maybe we can have some idealized vision of porn in the post-patriarchy, but before? I don’t see how.

    Also, as misogynistic porn is the norm and the possibility of feminist porn still up for debate, I just call it all porn and add qualifiers where they apply. ‘Mainstream porn’ can be a misleading term, as it does seem to suggest things that are well-known, like Max Hardcore and Playboy, when there can be just as much misogyny in queer porn, uploaded home videos, etc. That’s just my take on it, though.

    Thanks for giving us a space to talk about these issues. They usually make me want to crawl into a cave for a while.

    [*Credit to Jill at IBTP, of course]

  • No Sugarcoating

    Wow, I just read through those threads at Hugo’s for the first time and am disappointed, although not surprised. And Ren was obviously disrespectful, in one of her first replies to you, she said “these kinds of things inspire me to violence”. Really? Is this not a threat? Radical feminists who have opposing views inspire you to violence? What about those men who think you’re not even human and make jokes about dead hookers? It was also ridiculous how Hugo called out Kathy, but gave his readers a pass. I expected better from him, to be honest. Every time I read one of these debates, my admiration for radical feminists grows. I know it doesn’t mean much since I’m already “converted”, but it was not that long ago that I trashed Andrew Dworkin as a man-hater who thought all sex was rape. It’s obvious to outsiders that sex-positive arguments do not stack up to the radical feminists. It’s apparent that the critical thinking going is on an entirely different level.

    p.s. I had never read a word of Andrea Dworkin, I was just repeating what I heard in the hopes of getting cookies and back pats from the usual suspects. I don’t think most of these women have read Dworkin either.

  • Mike

    Meghan,

    I’m extremely confused by two of your comments:

    “Arguing that men don’t see full human beings in pornography is not the same as saying ‘you, Individual Man, do not think women as a whole are human beings’. Again, you don’t get to decide the context of the film or the images you are being shown.”

    If the viewer does not get to decide the context of the image, who does? You state that mainstream pornography dose not depict women as human, but do not substantiate this claim. How is an unsubstantiated claim on your part any different from the kind of argument you are trying to silence? What makes your interpretation of context superior?

    “The exception is not the rule. And the rule is that pornography is made for men and prostitution exists because of male buyers. The few odd women who have paid for sexual services exist (yes, they do exist, I acknowledge this), but do not come anywhere near floating the industry. Never have, never will.”

    Likewise, I could argue with ease and statistical accurancy, that heterosexuality is the majority experience, and that “the few odd people” who experience homosexuality (and the even smaller number than fall somewhere inbetween or totally outside) will never come near to being the majority. As a result, their experience should completely ignored.

    Obviously, this is a silly argument. You yourself have previously attacked heteronormativism. Yet if you want to set aside exceptions because they make up only a small part of the whole, why would that argument not mandate setting aside non-heterosexual expriences, given that such experiences will never be in the majority (or even a large plurality, the highest existing estimates are still below 25%)?

    • Meghan Murphy

      Well Mike, now I’m confused. What argument am I trying to silence? I had no idea that making an argument against pornography and challenging arguments made by others was ‘silencing’?

      In any case. Women are objectified in pornography. Represented as objects. Body parts are sexualized. Their bodies are cut up into pieces with the camera: breasts, genitals, anus, mouth. Orifices focused on. No complexity. Humans are complex. I’m simplifying in the extreme here because there have been many books written about just this, the male gaze, the way film and, particularly, pornography objectify women. Not only that but women are degraded in pornography. They are treated as and represented as things. As things that exist for male pleasure. To be ejaculated on to. I feel like I’m repeating myself a little here….Does any of this, according to you, work to ‘substantiate my claim’? I feel like it’s fairly straightforward. Let me know if you need clarification.

      Regarding individuals, do you believe that, for example, when you are shown an image on screen, in a magazine, etc. you get to define the image? No. The maker of the image decides what is shown, how the objects in the image are represented. This is pretty widely known and understood within film theory/communications theory/media studies.

      Regarding the exception to the rule – I am not ignoring individual experiences. I know they exist. It’s just that they don’t alter the images or the messages conveyed. To respond to your example, the experiences of gay people are important. Just as important as the experiences of heterosexual people. But I am not arguing that gay people hurt women. That would be psychotic. Pornography hurts women. It perpetuates misogyny and male power. My argument around the exception not being the rule was in response to those who have argued that there are female buyers and therefore prostitution has nothing to do with male power or patriarchy. Which is crazy. It’s not that those experiences don’t count, it’s just that those few women couldn’t possibly float the industry (which has been argued in the comments section of my other post) nor do they represent the realities of the industry.

      • Mike

        Meghan,

        There seems to be a clear contradiction here, you make this claim:

        “Regarding individuals, do you believe that, for example, when you are shown an image on screen, in a magazine, etc. you get to define the image? No. The maker of the image decides what is shown, how the objects in the image are represented.”

        Yet it is preceeded by:

        “Women are objectified in pornography. Represented as objects.”

        Which is no different from your own definition of the image.

        When asked, do the vast majority (because you want the rule, not the exception) of producers of mainstream pornography state publicly that “Yes our goal is to objectify women,”? Or do they provide different answers?

        And if they, the makers of the pronography, provide a different answer, aren’t they correct by your own argument? Put differently, why do their own claims that their work is merely an expression of free speech not deserve to be heard out, if, in your opinion, it is the maker of the image that gets to decide what it means? (this is the argument you are silencing, you claim the maker gets to decide the context but then do not give credence to the pornographers’ own arguments about what their work is)

        Additionally, you have still not substantiated this argument:
        “Pornography hurts women. It perpetuates misogyny and male power.” Restating is not substantiation. Indeed, Dworking argued that rape was the ultimate expression of male dominance, and yet study after study after study has linked the explosion of pronography over the internet with a decline in rape. This would seem to suggest that pornography is actually reducing an expression of male power. You have yet to prove how mainstream pornography is actively hurting women aside from simply issuing that statement and rephrasing it.

        • No Sugarcoating

          Meghan probably didn’t elaborate because one would assume that someone engaging in feminist debate would at least be familiar with the basics of anti-pornography activism. The decline in rape can be attributed to a decline in reporting, especially if sexual violence is becoming further normalized (which anti-porn feminists do argue) to the point where women are not even sure that they have been raped. Example: A husband and wife are having sex in the “doggystyle” position. At some point, the man removes his penis and inserts it into her anus without even asking. The woman is shocked and does not say anything, or perhaps even ends the sex session after yelling at him. What happened is he raped her. It is very unlikely that she would report this, seeing as it’s her husband that has raped her, and many people do not even consider spousal rape to be actual rape. As for how pornography perpetuates misogyny and male power, and hurts women in the process, you can look through these websites instead of expecting Meghan to summarize several books worth of examples and analysis into one little essay.

          http://oneangrygirl.net/antiporn.html – particularly the “Porn Myths” section.

          The entire Rage Against the Manchine porn series:
          http://rageagainstthemanchine.com/2008/04/12/why-porn-isnt-cool-part-1/
          http://rageagainstthemanchine.com/2008/04/12/why-porn-isnt-cool-2-the-high-school-years/
          http://rageagainstthemanchine.com/2008/04/12/why-porn-isnt-cool-3-real-people-have-feelings/
          http://rageagainstthemanchine.com/2008/04/16/porn-part-4-half-of-the-big-picture/
          http://rageagainstthemanchine.com/2008/04/16/porn-part-5-the-other-half-of-the-big-picture/
          http://rageagainstthemanchine.com/2008/04/23/pornpart6/
          http://rageagainstthemanchine.com/2008/04/24/porn-part-7-it-takes-two/
          http://rageagainstthemanchine.com/2008/04/25/porn-part-8-rights-vs-privileges/
          http://rageagainstthemanchine.com/2008/04/26/porn-part-9-the-opposite-of-dudishness-is-not-prudishness/

          Oh and, consider the fact that Meghan is a woman. Perhaps she knows better than you about how porn hurts women. Maybe porn has even hurt her. I am also a woman, 18 years old. I can tell you that I haven’t yet met a single girl in my age group who has not admitted to porn hurting her, and I have even met a few that now hate sex because of pornography’s effect on men.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Hey No Sugarcoating,
            Sorry it took so long for this comment to go through it got stuck in the spam folder accidentally!
            mm

        • european reader

          …you claim the maker gets to decide the context but then do not give credence to the pornographers’ own arguments about what their work is

          Most pornographers are no artists, they work in a multi-billion INDUSTRY. Their goal is to make money.
          Some are more honest about this than others. Some have other motivations too, and state many different kinds of goals and defences of what they do.

          There is a quote from an industry insider in Gail Dines’ book Pornland, (can’t find the quote online now) who basically says he thinks they (pornographers) are doing a public service by showing violence to women.

          The maker of the image decides what is shown and how, but they do not get to decide what violence and degradation mean. These meanings are formed in a wider social setting. I find it peculiar that some pornographers and porn users try to deny that many even most acts in mainstream gonzo porn are violent and degrading. While others admit that this is precisely what the appeal is based on..

          I think this is what hurts women, perpetuates misogyny and male power. That violence, degradation and domination of women are eroticised in porn.

        • http://womononajourney.wordpress.com womononajourney

          I suggest you read the writings of women who have actually been in the pornstitution industry. Start with Rebecca Mott’s blog. Rachel Lloyd has a new book out detailing her experiences down under.

          Even if you see the women in pornography as totally human, the fact that you are viewing them (and jerking off to their rapes) will cause them pain for the rest of their lives. They said it, not me.

  • http://hexpletive.com hexy

    Kathy:

    ON what basis are you arguing this? I know of many former prostituted women who are part of abolitionist anti-prostitution campaigns. One of them was Andrea Dworkin herself!

    For one thing, there’s a big difference between “some women who have done sex work are involved in abolitionist campaigns” and “making people who have done sex work the primary voices in our movement.”

    Secondly, I still don’t think that experience in sex work means you get to take away other people’s human rights to do with their bodies what they want… but if you’ve at least done the job, I’ll respect that you actually know what you’re talking about. Unlike all the people who just want to talk over sex workers.

    There are also many routes to finding out what prostituted women think about their experiences: there are studies for example, showing that the vast majority want to exit. I don’t have the figures on hand but I could get them.

    “Studies” done with terrible methodology, performed entirely on street based sex workers (while they were working!) and then extrapolated to apply to all women in the sex industry. Hardly a reputable source for that statistic.

    Buying and selling people are wrong. period.

    Yes, buying and selling people is wrong. Fortunately, no-one is talking about that. Sex workers do not sell our “selves”, we sell sexual services and units of time. No one sells us. To imply otherwise is offensive and insulting.

    If someone is selling you to another person, you are not involved in sex work. You are involved in slavery or human trafficking, which is an entirely different topic. Conflating the two simply makes it harder to fight trafficking and slavery and makes it harder to protect sex workers human rights.

  • Michael H.A. Biggs

    In relation to perceptions of porn: this debate has whiff of the arcane debates about idealogy conducted within groups such as Christians, economic rationalists, socialists, vegans etc. For a huge proportion of boys and men, porn is compulsively fun. Religious prudery was defeated, and technology has let the genie out of the bottle, and there’s no way its going back in. One may as well campaign against the existence of cars, or money, or tv – I’m sure that pornography will last longer than any of these, because technology only makes it easier for us to express our deep drives, while it may supersede other aspects of life.

    Using words like “misogynist” and “patriarchy” to describe people like me is a little like Christians calling me a “pagan”, or socialists calling me a member of the “bourgeoisie”; it only makes sense from within a framework of ideological circular arguments. Pornography will remain, and if we want to improve the world we need to take realistic opportunities to promote kind and intelligent values which bring out the best elements of human nature rather than trying to squash a human drive which runs nearly as deep as the desire for food. There are much more realistic ways to improve the lot of women – such as looking after lonely old ladies, or fighting to prevent the spreading of Sharia law.

    • Meghan Murphy

      @michaeal – Well, I suppose the difference between you and me is that I don’t believe that it is ‘human nature’ to treat women like shit.

    • http://womononajourney.wordpress.com womononajourney

      “I’m sure that pornography will last longer than any of these, because technology only makes it easier for us to express our deep drives, while it may supersede other aspects of life.”

      It could vanish very quickly if men stopped valuing their “fun” over women’s lives.

  • Liz XIan

    I admit I am still on the fence about the porn and prostitution debates, but I did find both the posts you and Hugo have up as well as the comments enlightening. As a woman I cannot help but feel there is an inherent sense of objectification towards women and to a lesser degree even men in pornography. While the people in it are real people, they all use stage names, about half the women in it have altered their bodies somehow to be more sexually appealing, and focus is put on parts of those bodies rather than the whole person. But then I wonder if this is any different than when a person is attracted to someone for how they look before getting to know them? I have not watched a lot of porn but I have watched it, and it always leaves me feeling dirty even if the women in it appear to be enjoying it and are not called names or anything. It makes me wonder about the men who are watching it and how they think of the women in their lives and how they would treat the women in porn if they actually ever met them. I will also admit I compare my own looks against the women in porn and in media and it upsets me. I figure though that this is a problem with me and not with them and I should not think lesser of them for how they look.

    In reading the posts though it would seem there is a shared goal between those with Meghan’s stance and those with the stances of Hexy and Ren (who is a woman and a sex worker- or so her comments and own blog would definitely indicate) and that is a desire to see that any woman working in the sex industry is able to get out of it if she wants to. Is that not a common ground between both sides and something that the two could come together on? It seems like that is an idea that neither side should oppose and it could be a common ground. Is there any possibility of that? While your end goals are different from those on the sex worker side, think about what could possibly be accomplished if on that one thing you put aside those differences and worked together. There seem to be a lot of powerful and highly motivated voices on both sides of the debate, and if they did come together on that one issue it could be amazing. It’s even a helping women issue, and I am not sure why anyone from either side would oppose that. Maybe I am just new to this ongoing dialogue and naïve, but just from reading these posts and comments? If I was someone who did not care about women in forced prostitution or actually someone who used forced prostitutes, I do not think I would want Meghan, Kathy, Hexy and Ren all coming at me at the same time! All four of you women seem to be pretty smart and knowledgeable, imagine that on a wider scale? It could be really formidable and draw attention to the issue. Is such a thing possible, because I don’t know.

    As for the treatment of women by women in the comments over at Hugo’s blog, well it’s no wonder there are such problems amid women period. Kathy should not have been singled out by Hugo, because there was plenty of vitriol through the whole thread. If he was going to admonish people for it, he needed to admonish not only Kathy, but Ren, Hexy, Mythago, and well, Meghan too. It’s a shame it got to that, because a truly interesting conversation between the sides which could have allowed for someone like me to refine our views could have happened. I know that is a selfish view, but was that not the purpose at least in part? Instead Meghan did become very patronizing and overly sensitive. Ren may be vicious, but she did not ask about your personal life other than your college education. Ren was very hostile and calculating and I can see why you might avoid her, but she did ask some good questions that maybe deserve answering. Hexy was also hostile and short with people, but did post some interesting concerns, and Kathy was not polite but she was no more rude than anyone else and I think she got blasted for picking on the men which is not at all fair. And Mythago was just rude in general.

    I guess I am disappointed because I was hoping this might help me decide more clearly where I stand on things. I found the whole thing interesting, but I did not learn much new information. I would be curious to know how, you, Meghan, would handle the issues of criminalization- do you support the Nordic Models as they are or believe they need refining? Hexy, how does it work in Australia? What Ren said about the 90% fact and what Jensen said about porn is kind of disturbing, because if that is how the Radical Side uses that information it is wrong and lying to people. I’m sorry if I am being a pest, but I want to know more. I did not even know there were these huge divisions between radical feminists and sex workers until recently, and I am trying to educate myself.

    I am looking at more blogging here so maybe that will help, and I plan to look at some of Ren’s posts on sex work. Hexy, do you have a blog too? Or you Kathy?

    Thank you for your time and sorry for taking up so much space.

    • http://othersideofporn.wordpress.com No Sugarcoating

      “I guess I am disappointed because I was hoping this might help me decide more clearly where I stand on things. I found the whole thing interesting, but I did not learn much new information. I would be curious to know how, you, Meghan, would handle the issues of criminalization- do you support the Nordic Models as they are or believe they need refining? Hexy, how does it work in Australia? What Ren said about the 90% fact and what Jensen said about porn is kind of disturbing, because if that is how the Radical Side uses that information it is wrong and lying to people. I’m sorry if I am being a pest, but I want to know more. I did not even know there were these huge divisions between radical feminists and sex workers until recently, and I am trying to educate myself.”

      Liz, I think the reason you may not have learned too much was because these conversations were not really that accessible. They were meant to be a debate between activists on both sides and it was not a very constructive debate either. I don’t think Jensen or the study he cited actually lied, but one could dispute what constitutes “aggression”, which I’m sure Ren does. If one sees certain acts/words as non-aggressive, then saying over 90% of porn contains sexual aggression would be a “lie”.

      There are also many ex-sex workers allied with radical feminists and some radical feminists were themselves part of the sex industry at one point. Rebecca Mott is a survivor of the prostitution industry, and she blogs at http://rmott62.wordpress.com/ Be warned though, she does describe graphic sexual violence.

      “I have not watched a lot of porn but I have watched it, and it always leaves me feeling dirty even if the women in it appear to be enjoying it and are not called names or anything. It makes me wonder about the men who are watching it and how they think of the women in their lives and how they would treat the women in porn if they actually ever met them.”

      I hope it’s not too presumptuous to link you to my blog. I cannot tell you more about sex workers’ experiences than they or anyone else can, but I write mostly about how men view pornography (and by extension, women and sexuality) and how women outside the porn industry are affected by it, which is something you seem to be concerned about. (And should be)

      • Liz XIan

        It’s not too presumptuous. I also got confused there for a second and had to go back and look. The stats Ren were talking about were the 90% number that came from Farley’s research which she says is often applied in a “90% of Sex Workers want to leave the industry” manner when the study was only done on 200 street based workers and not a wider variety of sex workers. The other, which I had to dig for more, was that Jensen and the film “the Price of Pleasure” claimed to a be a study of top selling porn films but was not actually a study of top selling porn films but instead the sub genres of gonzo and bdsm porn. I saw no mention of aggressive acts in porn, but I would risk the guess that she would find things non-aggressive that others would find aggressive because she seem to be pretty aggressive herself. Anyway, I think that is what she was talking about.

        I am also curious to know if anyone knows which side, the sex worker side or the radical feminist side actually has more current and former sex workers supporting it? As I said I am still formulating an opinion on all this for myself but I do have this feeling that if radical feminists are trying to make laws and decide things about sex work without the people doing it on board, it just doesn’t seem very fair or right to me.

        I also want to know if there would be a way the two sides could work together on helping women who wanted out.

        • http://othersideofporn.wordpress.com No Sugarcoating

          Gonzo porn is the vast majority of what’s on the internet, and the most popular type of pornography with men. If Ren is speaking about “feature films” that are sold as DVDS, she is being disingenuous. DVD sales are not a good indicator of popularity because most people, especially men, do not pay for porn. The industry is in a crisis right now because free porn and pirating are so ubiquitous. Companies like Vivid have spoken about how they barely make any “storyline” porn anymore, because men want gonzo.

          Also, women that use porn are more likely to pay for it than men that use porn, which can skew the results of sales to appear as if non-gonzo porn is more popular.

          I’d wager that the “sex worker side” has more current and former sex workers supporting it, but the vast majority of prostitutes are not involved in any activism on this front, so it’s difficult to really know. We do know that a lot of women want out, but can’t get out. Which side would they support? I don’t know. About working together..it seems like a great idea on paper, but sex worker activists are more focused decriminalization and destigmatizing prostitution than combating trafficking or helping women exit. It tarnishes the image of prostitution and the idea of a sex worker who enjoys her job.

          • Michael H.A. Biggs

            Gonzo pornography is a style of porn without a storyline, focussing just on the sex, and usually involving the cameraman in some way. It is common, but certainly not the majority of what’s on the net – some people just like its amateurish, up-front approach. The idea that gonzo is more violent than other porn is one of Gail Dines errors – just a wrong use of the word, and easy to look up.

            In relation to the question of the most popular kind of pornography, the largest data analysis ever has just been released by Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam (“A Billion Wicked Thoughts”). The five most popular categories are apparently Youth, Gay, MILFS (mothers), breasts and cheating wives.

          • http://othersideofporn.wordpress.com No Sugarcoating

            You are so full of it, Michael, it’s almost unbearable. YouPorn.com has a gonzo category..http://www.youporn.com/category/50/gonzo/ I watch enough porn to know you’re being deliberately disingenuous. Gonzo is a euphemism for FUCKING HARDCORE!!! It’s not a secret among porn users.

            Why are you even here? You are not ANY sort of feminist.

          • Michael H.A. Biggs

            Of course Gonzo is a category of hardcore pornography, as I described above. I expect it would be possible to make it as softcore, but it would be unwatchably boring, and contradictory in its purpose. I was clarifying about the term because some people (eg Gail Dines) have been misusing the term to imply that Gonzo is violent, and also saying that it is the dominant form of porn. I see you’ve looked it up on a tube site – its one of many, many hardcore categories. Feel free to look up wikipedia or whatever.

            I also think its worth saying (because I expect some people here don’t access porn) that there definitely are violent categories (eg bondage, BDSM), and they are easy to find. But they are in no sense the majority – just one of the many ‘flavours’.

            As for why I like to explore ideas on blogs of people with all kinds of radical perspectives, I’d be happy to explain it to you if I thought you were interested in finding out about me, but I don’t think that’s why you raised it.

          • http://hexpletive.com hexy

            It’s my understanding that the most popular online porn is amateur porn, not professionally produced gonzo.

          • http://othersideofporn.wordpress.com No Sugarcoating

            What leads you to believe that?

          • http://hexpletive.com hexy

            I’ve read people saying it in discussions about porn, and from what I know about the use of the internet to access porn it rings true. That said, I have no stats on the matter, so it’s worth absolutely nothing as a point of “debate”. I may very well be misinformed.

            Ren’s claim that gonzo is not the most popular professionally produced porn also rings true to me. There simply isn’t enough of it produced, the production side of the industry doesn’t focus anywhere near enough on that style of work, and feature style productions blow gonzo out of the water with earning potential, distribution and promotion.

            All that said, I’m not a porn consumer, and I’ve only done a minute amount of work in that segment of the industry. Most of my information is second hand and based on research or talking to people who have worked in the industry, so I shouldn’t be taken as an expert. I actually practice what I preach when it comes to that “sex workers should be considered the experts on our lives and work” thingummy, and I also think porn consumers are the ones who know what they’re talking about when it comes to their own habits.

          • Liz XIan

            I have no idea what the most popular type of internet porn is or who is more likely to buy DVD’s men or women, but I just looked at the write up for the price of pleasure film and it says it is a fair and unbiased look at the top selling porn. To me top selling porn says that people have spent money on it, and if the film claims that then does focus on gonzo and bdsm porn when it is feature porn that is the top selling kind, then nit picky or not, Ren is right and the film is misrepresenting itself. Also, if a film is made by anti porn people which this one appears to be, can it really be fair and unbiased? I am not saying porn is fine and okay, but seeing that so many people realize there something wrong with current porn, I am not sure why any distortion at all is necessary and when people like Ren catch things like that and can prove them wrong it is not a help at all to the actual messages the anti porn side is trying to relate. I have read some of her blogging on porn and the sex industry and she is ruthless when it comes to proof and facts and because she can prove a lot of this stuff and tear holes in peoples claims and wording…people will listen to her. While I personally might agree with the message the Price of Pleasure is trying to get out there their own claim that the film is something it actually is not makes things like this easy for her. Same with the 90& statistic both she and Hexy have mentioned. If people do apply date drawn from a sampling of 200 street based workers to all people in the sex industry, isn’t it then easy to say that is junk science because obviously a prson in the sex industry who commands a higher price and works in safer conditions with a better sort of customer or someone who is a stripper or a different sort of worker might feel very different about it than a street based worker? I just don’t see why the distortion is necessary.

            It does seem sex worker activists are more focused on decriminalization and destigmatizing prostitution and I guess that makes perfect sense. If I was a sex worker I would not want to deal with that, but from what I have read it also seems they do have a genuine concern with helping women who want out. I don’t see how anyone could object to that. And traficking, wow, there is a huge global problem that goes beyond just the sex industry! I am not sure that is something anyone aside from pwoerful governments can stop.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Is that you, Ren?

          • http://hexpletive.com hexy

            Completely different writing style, and Ren’s really not the type to sockpuppet. Do you really think she wouldn’t come and say what she thinks to your face, so to speak?

          • Liz XIan

            I’m not her. She is a really horrible person and I can see why you would not want to deal with her. I made a comment on her blog and she did not publish it and then was really nasty to me. I can see why people won’t deal with her even if she does ask valid things.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Sorry, Liz. Just a hunch. Glad I was wrong!

          • http://othersideofporn.wordpress.com No Sugarcoating

            What did you say to her? I’ve seen her publish some pretty vile comments from dudes.

          • Liz XIan

            She did end up answering most of my questions without publishing my comment which she said was creepy.

            I asked her about her own education since she asked Meghan and it seemed fair. I asked her about her upbringing. I asked about her activism and what aspects of the sex industry she’d been involved in. I said that studies show many women in the sex industry have histories of abuse or drug use and what she knew about that. I asked if she was married or had children and if so what they thought about her work and what her parents thought about it. I asked her if she had ever been hurt or pressured while working. I asked her if she got asked to do thing she was uncomfortable with and what her limits were when it came to sex work. I asked her age and when she started doing sex work and if she’d had other jobs. I asked her if she threatens people often. I also asked her how she feels about the unrealistic image of women pornography presents. Maybe some of what I asked was too personal or creepy, but I was curious.

            She also admits freely to being “a nasty piece of work” with rage issues. She also does swear a lot and her grammar is horrible. I have a hard believing she can act appropriately in college sponsored debates with that temper of hers but I guess she can.

          • Liz XIan

            That should be “I have a hard time believing she can act appropriately”. I need to slow down when typing!

          • Meghan Murphy

            No, I think her claims to have ‘won’ debates and to have ‘poked holes in, for example, Jensen’s arguments, are all in her head. Her posts are juvenile and, to be honest, quite frightening. Sorry about thinking you were her! This line tipped me off as it sounded like something she says about herself a lot: “I have read some of her blogging on porn and the sex industry and she is ruthless when it comes to proof and facts and because she can prove a lot of this stuff and tear holes in peoples claims and wording”. She hardly tears holes in anything. Her ‘arguments’ amount to childish ranting. Honestly, I don’t want to talk about her in this thread anymore. Let’s all move on why don’t we?

          • http://womononajourney.wordpress.com womononajourney

            Gail Dines gets her statistics for the most widely viewed pornography from the trade group, Adult Video News.

    • http://hexpletive.com hexy

      I do have a blog… it’s at hexpletive.com.

      The way the sex industry works in Australia varies from state to state. We have a range of models from almost full decriminalisation in New South Wales to licensing in Victoria to full criminalisation in South Australia. The LASH study conducted a few years ago found that the best health and safety outcomes for sex workers were found in New South Wales under decriminalisation, and sex workers there had the best relationship with health services and law enforcement. The NSW LASH report is due out soon.

      Australian states also undergo law reform (or attempts to push law reform through) quite frequently. We’ve just had the Western Australian government release their proposed legislation for public comment and it’s really hideous from a sex workers rights perspective. The system of decriminalisation in New South Wales, which has been praised globally, is also currently under threat, with the new NSW government promising to replace it with a licensing model and a NSW MP beginning motions to bring in legislation criminalising sex work.

      As a general rule, sex workers and sex workers rights advocates don’t support the Swedish Model. We don’t want any aspect of our work criminalised: this harms us. It pushes sex work underground, it makes it more dangerous, it makes it harder for sex workers to access services and to get help from law enforcement if we are victims of crime. Support for the Swedish Model is about pushing feminist ideology, not about supporting the human rights of people in the sex industry.

      As for finding common ground… it’s a nice idea, and I think there are some areas where we agree and could work together. But I have to insist that people see people working in the sex industry as full human beings and support their human rights as a basic starting point if there’s going to be any collaboration. I just don’t think it’s possible to go anywhere together without that foundation. And that’s something that anti sex work feminists have just refused to give to sex workers… they’d rather see us as pitiful victims, pawns to be used to prop up debate rather than full human beings, or nothing more than tragedy porn. Harsh, but true.

      • http://othersideofporn.wordpress.com No Sugarcoating

        So, do you think all social justice activists see non-white, heterosexual male people as not human? It seems like you’re the one that sees victims as pitiful. Those are your own words.

        • http://hexpletive.com hexy

          That’s a total misrepresentation, and you know it.

          I think if you’re treating people like they aren’t anything more than pitiful victims, you can’t claim that you don’t see them that way.

          I don’t treat or see people that way. I believe in self determination and support all people having full human rights and control over their own lives and bodies.

        • http://omangueblog.blogspot.com Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette

          So, do you think all social justice activists see non-white, heterosexual male people as not human?

          I think a lot of them do. I dont think social justice activistys in Canada and the U.S. have a better record when it comes to ethnocentrism than the population in general. What often makes the activists slightly worse is that they ASSUME that just by being an activist they don’t have to deal with their ethnocentrism.

          • http://hexpletive.com hexy

            I’ve certainly been devalued by white anti-racists (to use another example) because of my race. Some of them seem to see the POC they’re allegedly fighting for as nothing more than pets. Same with anti sex work feminists. They treat sex workers like children.

  • http://www.charlieglickman.com Charlie

    The point I was trying to make had nothing to do with what should or should not give any one person pleasure, but rather, simply, that PIV is about male pleasure and is a male-centric way of defining sex.

    The information that I have is that a majority (in some studies, as many as 70%) of women do not orgasm from PIV without direct clitoral stimulation. And it’s certainly true that there are many women who don’t enjoy PIV, for a variety of reasons.

    Having said that, there are also enough women who do enjoy PIV, whether they orgasm from it or not that I don’t think it’s accurate to say that it’s “about male pleasure.” Further, if about 1/3 of women do orgasm from it, what is your rationale for sweeping them under the rug? If a significant minority has a different experience, at what point does it become your responsibility to use language that makes room for that? For me, 30% is well over that threshold. Where is your line?

    Please note- I am most certainly not suggesting that PIV should continue to be privileged as defining sex nor that it should be what everyone does. I think it’s fantastic when people see it as simply one option among many (assuming that one person involved has a penis and the other has a vagina) and they are empowered to choose to do it or not do it, based on whatever criteria are relevant for them. All I’m suggesting is that it’s not necessarily only about male pleasure and it’s not always a male-centric way of defining sex, and I’m wondering what it is that prompts you to talk about it as if it is.

    What we have argued for is the DE-criminalization of women and the criminalization of male buyers and sellers of sex.

    Like you, I want to live in a world where nobody has to have sex to get enough money to survive. I want to live in a world in which nobody has to have sex in order to have shelter or to feed their kids. However, given that there are many people who do exactly that, what do you think the effects of criminalizing the purchasing of sex will be? What will happen to the 19 year old runaway who got kicked out of their home for being queer and doesn’t have the skills for a job that pays a livable wage? What will happen to the person who wants to put food on the table for their kids? Or the person who wants to go to college and can’t do that and work enough hours at McDonalds to cover their costs?

    It seems to me that decriminalizing selling sex and criminalizing buying sex puts those folks at significant risk, even if that risk isn’t that they’ll be arrested. Until and unless there are resources and support for the people who sell sex and want to stop before making that change, they’re going to get thrown under the bus. Assuming that those structural changes aren’t likely to happen anytime soon (and I see little chance of it), are you suggesting that the lives of the people who are trying to survive through selling sex should be made harder? Or is it worth sacrificing them in order to end commercial sex?

    • Meghan Murphy

      @Charlie – I think you’re right and don’t think I phrased that argument around PIV very clearly. I orgasm from PIV so….I guess I’m erasing myself? Anyway, what I meant (and now, looking at the quote you’ve pulled out there, what I meant isn’t very clear) wa that defining sex as PIV is male-centric (and heteronormative). The fact that PIV is viewed as the norm or even, simply, that which counts as ‘real’ intercourse or what is expected is because male pleasure has been prioritized and a male-centric culture has defined intercourse. I didn’t mean to argue that there are no women who experience pleasure from PIV. So that’s my fault. What I wrote doesn’t actually convey my argument very well. Sorry about that.

      Regarding my argument around criminalizing pimps and johns, the Nordic Model includes the implementation of strong social safety nets and services to women who wish to exit. The idea is that there would be other avenues of income for women besides prostitution as a last resort. It doesn’t need to be a last resort but we live in a country that thinks poverty and desperation is perfectly acceptable. I mean, you are exactly right that the reason many women turn to the sex industry is because they can’t make a decent living otherwise. It’s a fucking trap right? Women need to be able to survive and care for themselves and/or their families without having to sell their bodies. So, yeah, there are other changes that need to happen along with the criminalization of the male buyers and sellers of women.

      • http://www.charlieglickman.com Charlie

        Gotcha. Thanks for clarifying- I had a feeling that’s what you meant and I figured I’d check. :-)

        I totally get that having those other changes take place should be an integral part of the process. I also have no expectation that it’ll happen and without that, I don’t personally think that criminalizing commercial sex is going to help the folks who need support. My expectation is that it’ll make their lives harder, lead to further desperation, and even bigger problems.

      • http://hexpletive.com hexy

        And to hell with the people who don’t “wish to exit”, right? What about the people who don’t want minimum wage, or who have debts or drug habits? Should sex workers have to take a massive pay cut to subscribe to a morality that isn’t even theirs? What about the people who don’t want to deal with the degrading victim narrative that “exit services” overwhelming expect sex workers to subject ourselves to in order to access them?

        What about, more importantly, the fact that Swedish sex workers report that these much-praised “exit services” have simply failed to materialise?

        If you support women being able to support their families, you shouldn’t be in favour of a model of legislation that has seen sex workers having their children removed from them simply for continuing to work.

      • http://insertoriginalblognamehere.blogspot.com/ Djiril

        I would say that if the safety net is good enough, the laws against buying sex shouldn’t be necessary. If it’s not good enough, the laws only create problems for women who feel the need to turn to sex work. I just don’t think that laws against any part of the transaction help anyone.

      • http://hexpletive.com hexy

        I’ll also add that one big reason a lot of people do sex work is because of the flexible hours. It’s one of the only ways you can earn a decent amount of money earning only a few hours a day, or only working when you’re able to, or working inconsistent hours day to day or week to week. Many people need this flexibility due to child care obligations, disability or mental illnesses, or other reasons. I’m yet to see an alternate work program that actually addresses this.

        • Meghan Murphy

          @hexy – I think you’re right. Universal child care would help. Child care is an integral part of the Swedish welfare state.

          • http://hexpletive.com hexy

            I first started sex working for two reasons: personal interest, and because it was the only form of work that was actually available that would fit with my disability. I could work as much or as little as I was able to, I could vary the intensity of my workload according to my capacity at that point in time, I could adjust my hours to fit what was going on with my health, and being self employed I could “call in sick” whenever I needed to without worrying about getting fired. “Straight” work offers neither the financial incentives, the personal appeal, or any of these benefits. I’m doing much better with my health these days and manage to do part time straight work for a sex workers rights organisation (which I find very fulfilling!) but I would not be in the place I am without sex work, and there are still a LOT of people for whom the flexibility of sex work is an absolute necessity.

            I’m completely with you on the necessity of child care. The fact that the Swedish system takes away the children of women who continue working in the sex industry is horrendous.

  • Meghan Murphy
    • pisaquari

      What I left at Hugo’s:

      “I am going to echo similar (radfem) sentiments expressed here, Hugo—this, largely, reads like a dating profile.
      You’ve essentially answered the questions like this:
      “I have these preferences because of these subsequent preferences.”

      What I was *trying* to get at with these questions is where the personal begins and ends with you, where the political begins and ends? Do they hold hands? Ever? At what point(s)? Yes, personal details were expected (by me) in the answers but only to the extent they linked (or de-linked) from their political implications.

      Let’s take question 2 (which you mistyped):

      “WHY is pornography use incongruous with your feminism? What tenets of your feminism are not in line with pornography use?”

      (house cleaning: you answered this in a yes/no format which is off the mark since the question of WHY assumed your feminism and pornography were incongruous. I based this off your sentence “I also want my sexuality to be congruent with my feminism, and for me personally, that means rejecting porn.” Thus, I find your first comment “It’s not incongruous with my feminism. It’s incongruous with my personal value system about sexuality at this point in my life” contradictory with the former—splitting hairs at best)

      I asked for tenets of your feminism. Principals, Values and Ideas which you ascribe to/live by/profess that HELP WOMEN. Not just you or your wife but OTHER WOMEN.
      You did not give those.

      The closest you got to this was addressing pornography that deceives the female subject. You find this “deeply problematic” and “anti-feminist.” Me too but it’s not because it doesn’t bring me to orgasm or makes me think about someone who isn’t my partner.
      Would you take a political stand against this deceptive pornography? Would you tell other men they are participating in misogyny by consuming this porn? Does it ever go beyond Hugo? B/c that’s political: it.goes.beyond.you.

      I find this political and personal compartmentalization to run counter to any sort of productive or progressive feminism. We can sit around all day and undermine each other’s political goals by saying something doesn’t fit us all snug and tight. Big Deal. Who DOES it fit??
      Not to mention, The Individual is an ever-moving target.
      For example, here is the range one can expect to find while engaging with the Hydrahead of *The Individual*:

      “listen, I’m just lil ole me and lil ole me likes lil ole me stuff and is only representative of lil ole me”

      and in the same instance

      “OMG—I freaking MATTER. How can you possibly suggest a POLITICAL STANCE without FIRST hearing from ME? I have been SILENCED by your audacity to have a POSITION before *I* arrived!

      So someone wants to criticize the political implications of an action with their personal experience (i.e. proporn to radfems) but then say that their personal experience isn’t political?? WTF.

      If the individual (personal) can both stalemate a political action/discussion b/c they are Super Important and at the same time be nothing more than a de-politicized blip living at their Bubble Residence then how they hell is anyone supposed to reconcile all this *personal experience*! It’s changing its relevance just as quickly as it changes its story.
      ***Pick Your Level of Importance Already!***

      Because at some point I (personal) wants to DO SOMETHING that’s not just about me (political).
      And I will happily *speak for other radical feminists and women* (<the nerve of me) and say I am not alone."

      • Meghan Murphy

        Right on, Pisaquari. That was excellent.

  • http://marytracy.blogspot.com Mary Tracy

    Re: Feminist Pr0n. Whenever somebody somebody fires a “deal with it” I instinctively recoil in horror. It is an expression that’s never used for good.

    For (not) the LAST TIME: “erotica” is morally wrong, no matter how feminist. DEAL WITH IT.

    “People are not going to stop being visualy aroused”? Perhaps. And people will not stop needing their toilets cleaned and their meals made BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN THEY SHOULD HIRE ANOTHER HUMAN BEING TO DO SO. Exploitation is exploitation no matter the context. And for those of us who question an economic system based on exploitation, any buyer-seller relationship is questionable at best. Just because people want to get their kicks doesn’t mean that somebody should have to appear on pr0n for their benefit.

    Incidentally, all of this would have been cristal clear for feminists 60 or more years ago. Why is “visual arousal” so important all of the sudden? I’ll tell you why: the pr0n industry needs new customers, and it has been steadily brainwashing women for the past decade. To the point that they can’t distinguish between “sex” and “pr0n” anymore.

    • Michael H.A. Biggs

      ” ‘Erotica’ is morally wrong”? Is this the summary of a philosophical argument? Or a revelation of a universal law? I think erotica is a lovely gift from the universe like music, sunsets, and the exciting odours of Thai soup.

      • http://marytracy.blogspot.com Mary Tracy

        Yes.

  • pisaquari

    I’ll be responding here and at Hugo’s tonight. Surprised to see my questions answered…kind of.

  • http://omangueblog.blogspot.com Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette

    Dear Meghan,

    I will give you an argument in favor of prostitution which you’ve not thought of yet: prostitution is often simply BETTER work than other kinds of available labor. This point has been made by hundreds of the women and men I have talked to and interviewed who sell sex.

    Until you can give these people paid labor that is BETTER than prostitution, you are really in no position to morally call for its end.

    As for “criminalizing clients and not the women”, you seem to me to have a very naive understanding of how police work functions. Let’s take Sweden, for example, which currently engages in the sort of behavior you support…

    A couple is suspected of being involved in a prostitution transaction (ofte, according to the Swedish police, ethnic profiling is used to make this sort of judgement regarding suspicion). They are BOTH arrested and BOTH dragged down to the prcinct house. BOTH are interogated and intimidated. In a culture like the one I and most of the world lives in (including a fair portion of the U.S.) both might be slapped around a bit. The woman is going to be booked on a NO-PROSTITUTION charge because that, my friend, is what the police DO. Her only way out of jail herself is to turn state’s evidence on her partner and claim that he bought sex from her.

    This is the reality of “criminalizing the man and decriminalizing the woman”: using the strong arm of the law to force women to turn witness by threatening them with other charges.

    Why?

    Because without threatneing the woman, Meghan, the state almost always has no case at all.

    Think about it.

    Two people brought in on suspicion of prostitution. Unless one turnes state’s evidence THERE IS NO CASE.

    “Ah, but what about using undercover cops to fish for johns”, you say?

    Fine, except in that case the commercial sex scene quickly changes gears and now WOMEN will make the pitch. Johns won’t make the pitch themselves. And if an undercover cop makes a pitch, it is entrapment.

    So THE ONLY way “criminalizing men” works is by forcing, pressuring, or (in the case of my country) torturing women to turn State’s evidence.

    Your solution is thus not a solution if the goal is to protect women’s human rights.

    • http://othersideofporn.wordpress.com No Sugarcoating

      You really think Meghan has never heard this argument? That seems a little naive to me. Or just arrogant, perhaps. Let’s say you’re right: the most effective choice for protecting the women(who are there by choice) in prostitution is to decriminalize both selling and buying sex. How instead should we end prostitution?

      • http://insertoriginalblognamehere.blogspot.com/ Djiril

        “Let’s say you’re right: the most effective choice for protecting the women(who are there by choice) in prostitution is to decriminalize both selling and buying sex. How instead should we end prostitution?”

        Why make ending prostitution the ultimate goal? It seams to me the main goal should be to create a society where poor women have BETTER choices than prostitution and know about them. Create that society and prostitution will go away on its own, except in maybe a few cases where women really really want to have sex for money. Until that society exists, making it a main goal to end prostitution, as opposed to making the lives of all women better inside and outside of the sex industry, seems kind of pointless.

        • http://othersideofporn.wordpress.com No Sugarcoating

          1. Duh. As if we don’t support and seek to create educational and job opportunities for women already?

          2. Ending prostitution would still be the result of these actions. Frankly, I don’t care if there are a few women who will still really really want to have sex for money, as long as the majority of people(men) believe that buying sex is wrong. That’s what “ending prostitution” means. It wouldn’t be illegal for women to sell sex.

          • http://omangueblog.blogspot.com Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette

            But given an egalitarian society, NS, why would buying or trading for sex be wrong?

            You’re always coming back to this point and it seems to me that it’s an unresolved morality issue with you. Which is fine, of course. The problem is that you attempt to portray the position “selling sex is bad” as if it were a given which everyone needs must respect and ascribe to, but you never explain to us WHY this is the case.

          • http://othersideofporn.wordpress.com No Sugarcoating

            I never said selling sex is bad, I said buying sex is bad.

          • http://omangueblog.blogspot.com Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette

            Nice dodge, NS.

            You still haven’t answered the question, though.

            Given an egalitarian society, why would buying or trading for sex be bad?

          • Shereen

            Dear No Sugarcoating,
            Myself and many of my sex worker friends have been following some of these discussions and I would like to respectfully say that you may not think you’re saying selling sex is bad but that is what we read from your comments. Your comments read strongly as opposing women who engage in sex work and sell sex as a service. It comes across that you don’t like the people engaging in this system unless they’re clearly forced into it. This is something we come across frequently and why we often do not disclose ourselves publically as sex workers. I say this because I think you need to hear this from others and take some time to think about this. I have been challenged before on how I came across even when it has not been my intent.

          • http://othersideofporn.wordpress.com No Sugarcoating

            I oppose sex work(prostitution) and the idea of sex as a service. I certainly do not like people being forced to engage in the system. On the contrary, it is my chief concern and I think that’s one of the worst things that could happen to a person. If it seems like I don’t like you because you sell sex, that is definitely a problem. How can I better express opposition to to the sex industry without that happening?

            I don’t have a problem with the selling of sex, because it doesn’t hurt others. It doesn’t even have the potential to hurt others. Buying sex does have the potential, and often does hurt people, however. And the idea that a man is entitled to buy sex – that it is a right – hurts all women.

          • http://insertoriginalblognamehere.blogspot.com/ Djiril

            You’re still ignoring the point that the Nordic model makes it more dangerous for women who are selling sex. You can’t punish the buyers without punishing the sellers. It just doesn’t work that way.

          • http://othersideofporn.wordpress.com No Sugarcoating

            Nobody has provided any proof, statistics, or testimony that the Nordic model makes it more dangerous for women who are selling sex. And none of you are Swedish sex workers, so I’m not going to just take your word for it.

          • http://hexpletive.com hexy

            There’s plenty of testimony coming from Swedish sex workers. Try looking up Pye Jacobson’s work.

            Or do Swedish sex workers not count as the experts here?

            I’d also recommend Petra Ostergren’s report, recently released.

          • http://insertoriginalblognamehere.blogspot.com/ Djiril

            This report?
            http://74.125.155.132/scholar?q=cache:Jt5EsnKiEWAJ:scholar.google.com/+Petra+Ostergren&hl=en&as_sdt=0,5
            Thanks for the lead. I’ve added it to my files to read later.

          • http://hexpletive.com hexy

            That’s the one. It’s an interesting read, and vital for anyone interested in the topic.

          • http://insertoriginalblognamehere.blogspot.com/ Djiril

            Ok, but who’s word are you taking that the Swedish model is better than full decriminalization? Are you holding both sides to the same standards?
            Personally, I have looked for trustworthy statistics from Sweden and found no studies on the human rights or the quality of life of the sex workers themselves. I find trafficking statistics from the government which tell me nothing about the difference the law has made to either voluntary prostitutes or trafficking victims, and then I find articles such as these:
            http://www.thelocal.se/article.php?ID=9621
            http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11437499

            On the other hand, the New Zealand government, which has taken the tactic of full decriminalization paired with welfare and other services, put out a very detailed study on the human rights impact of their legislation which can be found here:
            http://www.justice.govt.nz/publications/global-publications/p/prostitution-reform-act-impact-on-the-health-and-safety-practices-of-sex-workers

          • http://omangueblog.blogspot.com Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette

            NS, I sat through a five hour presentation in 2004 by the Swedish anti-trafficking ambassador and the Chief of Police of Gothemberg where the both of them admitted flat out to using racial profiling to determine who is and who is not liable to be a couple envolved in prostitution.

            They ADMITTED that couples made up of darker colored women and lighter colored men would get pulled over on suspicion of prostitution. They were PROUD of that and suggested that we implement the same policy here in Brazil.

            Then the Chief Police of Gothemberg got up and said these words: “When we first ARREST women who we feel are involved in prostitution, they always claim that its their right to do what they like with their bodies. But let me KEEP THEM IN JAIL for a few days and they always break down and admit to be trafficking victims.” [CAPS are mine for emphasis].

            In other words, what the head porker of Gothemberg says is this: the actively attempt to pull foreign, third-world-looking women over and check them for passports and such. They then arrest these women on other charges, generally public morals charges or – more likely, given the Swedish cops’ racist focus – immigration violation charges. The women are then kept in jail until and unless they agree to turn state’s evidence.

            After the presentation, I and several other concerned people went up and asked the Swedes, “Aren’t you coercing testimony?” And the anti-trafficking ambassador said “Oh, yes, that’s a concern. But we feel that it’s more important to stop trafficking”.

            In other words, Sweden is using its anti-trafficking policy to wrinkle ouyt irregular and illegal immigrants and it is violating their rights by doing so by using coercion to produce false testimony.

            Here’s an excercise for you: look up how many ARRESTS the Swedes have made on anti-trafficking and anti-buying sex charges and how many CONVICTIONS they’ve successfully proven in court. Their laws are not working to cath human traffickers or evil sex-purchasers, but they are working to serve as an illegal immigration filter and to look politically correct while doing so.

          • http://hexpletive.com hexy

            Sweden also uses condoms as evidence of sex work, both locally and at the border. Migrant women carrying what customs officials deem “large amounts” of condoms (which is completely arbitrary) or anything else that makes the customs official suspect she may be a sex worker, such as information from sex worker rights organisations, are refused entry to Sweden and deported.

            I hope I don’t need to tell anyone that using condoms as evidence is bad health and safety policy that discourages their use and promotes the spread of STIs including HIV.

      • http://hexpletive.com hexy

        Acknowledge that you don’t have the right to control what other people do with their own bodies, or dictate how they make a living, and find some other way to advance women’s liberation?

        We fundamentally disagree that sex work needs to, or will ever, go away. The pro-woman and pro-sex worker approach is to make it as safe as possible. And making it safer goes some way to help both those who are there by choice and those who aren’t… until they can get out, it’s at least better for them to have better health and safety outcomes. People who are coerced into sex work aren’t actually helped by having reduced access to health and legal services, more dangerous working conditions and increased risk of STIs either, you know.

        • http://othersideofporn.wordpress.com No Sugarcoating

          I think ending the transactional model of sexuality is ESSENTIAL to women’s liberation, and ending prostitution is essential to that end. You say we’re supposed to support sex workers, but really you want us to support sex work. That is not something we will do.

          • http://hexpletive.com hexy

            Nope, just sex workers. Sex work doesn’t need your support. Sex workers do.

          • Shereen

            Thank you hexy, just thank you for speaking out for so many of us. Solidarity.

      • http://omangueblog.blogspot.com Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette

        Whether or not she’s heard of the argument, it doesn’t seem to have been brought up in the discussion above yet, NS, so I’d be interested in hearing what she has to say about it.

        Answering your question, “how instead should we end prostitution?”, I suggest that you read Emma Goldman’s ideas on it, which are almost a century old now, as well as Engels.

        You don’t have to be an anarchist or a Marxist to see that prostitution is the rather inevitable outcome of a capitalist economy linked to a society which traumatizes sexual activity. You want to deal with the symptom and not the cause. Unless we’re dealing with the cause, your attempts to attack the symptom are only going to make sex workers more vulnerable and result in further violation of their human rights.

        It is NOT a moral solution to arrest men and women who are working in the sex industry and force them on the streets or into underpaid minimum wage labor. IF you want to end prostitution, you need to create jobs that give these men and women wages and benefits comparable to the sex industry.

        Given this, NS, where you should START working is AGAINST the current wave of union-busting and against the fad of dismantling, reducing and privatizing education. THAT, more than any police activities you might imagine, will keep more men and women from choosing sex work as a labor option.

        • http://othersideofporn.wordpress.com No Sugarcoating

          Thaddeus, you are aware that radical feminists are not capitalism cheerleaders, right? We know this, and we do believe that women are kept in poverty and out of the reach of adequate jobs to maintain an influx of women into the sex industry.

          • http://omangueblog.blogspot.com Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette

            Oh, I’m aware of the fact that many radfems have a critique of capitalism, NS. But if you truly DO, then riddle me this: how and why do you expect prostitution to end by using the capitalist legal system to crack down on it?

            I mean, it seems to me that while you claim to have a critique of capitalism, as Emma Goldman pointed out in 1910, you seem to think you can resolve sex and gender issues via increased oppressive activity involving the current capitalist-based state system.

            If you claim to be anti-capitalist while trying to make the utopian clsim that sex work should be repressed by the cops (but not, say, minimum wage labor as a maid or a fast-food worker), what you’re really saying is “I haven’t the slightest idea as to how the actual social-economic system works, nor do I really care”.

            As for “women being kept in pverty”, you’ve got it bass-ackwards – presuming you’re truly working from an anti-capitalist viewpoint, that is. Women’s labor is kept unrecognized to keep labor costs IN GENERAL low. The State has had a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong history of trying to repress sex work, but it has never, to my knowledge, tried to repress the nuclear family. Women escaping into sex work is a threat to the nuclear family and is often repressed. To the degress that the State lets sex work alone, it is because certain power groups have found a way to make money off of it, not because sex work is the impressment into sex work is the logical goal of capitalism.

            In fact, Engels points this out quite clearly: it’s the wife who is effectively enslaved. The prostitute is effectively a worker. If all women had to be PAID for their work, like the prostitute is, capitalism would have to make massive adjustments or collapse.

          • http://othersideofporn.wordpress.com No Sugarcoating

            Feminists did not criminalize prostitution. Those were the laws in place, created by men. And we don’t think criminalization can reduce demand for prostitution, but legalizing it will help the industry expand and flourish. Additionally, there is a fear that it could help human traffickers in several ways.

            Prostitution and the nuclear family/wife obsession feed eachother. Virgin/whore dynamic. We cannot take down one without the other. This is basic feminism. There is even an essay on this site detailing the patriarchal institution of marriage.

          • http://hexpletive.com hexy

            Decriminalising the industry in NSW and New Zealand has not lead to an increase in the number of people of people doing sex work, nor has it lead to an increase in human trafficking.

          • http://omangueblog.blogspot.com Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette

            Actually, NS, first wave feminists played a very important role in the criminalization of feminism in the U.S., Canada and Britain. This, in fact, was entirely the point of Emma Goldman’s various screeds on prostitution. You can also read any one of several histories of prostitution (I’ll send you a list if you like) which confirm this. Furthermore, certain feminists are playing a key role in the maintenance of prostitution as an illegal activity. The “make buying illegal” campaign in Scandanavia is a feminist initiative and Meaghan (and you, I believe) support that campaign, even though in reality it will create as many human rights violations fo0r prostitutes as the current “make prostitution illegal” laws.

            So yes, NS, feminism – or at least a certain very conservative and small-minded branch of feminsim – has played an enormous role in the continued stigmatization and illegalization of sex work. No one who studies the history of sex work would seriopusly claim otherwise.

            Sex work in the U.S., by the way, became illegal at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century and first generation feminists played a very big role in getting those laws passed, juist like many first generation feminists played a huge role in getting Prohibition passed.

            If you want to lecture me on “basic feminism”, NS, you should read some basic histories of the movement first. Again, I’d be happy to provide a bibliography of authors whose feminist credentials are impeccable and who support the claims I make above.

          • http://hexpletive.com hexy

            This is a great comment.

            Just a note: The Swedish model is not entirely the product of feminist thinking. The Swedish Government is predominantly male, and although the legislation may be based on feminist thought, it spreads much wider than that. I wouldn’t say that this is a solely feminist initiative at all.

            Thaddeus, if you want to investigate the views of modern sex workers, you might want to check out Elena Jeffreys. She’s an Australian sex worker and sex worker rights activist who works with Scarlet Alliance, and from what you’ve posted here I think you’d enjoy her work.

          • http://omangueblog.blogspot.com Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette

            I’ve read some of Jeffreys’ stuff and find her very inspiring, hexy. It’s too bad that none of Gabriela Leite’s stuff is translated to English. Gabriela is my main woman!

          • http://hexpletive.com hexy

            Alas, I am the kind of cultural imperialist who can only speak and read English. It severely limits my ability to appreciate the work of writers and activists from non-English speaking backgrounds.

          • http://othersideofporn.wordpress.com/ No Sugarcoating

            Gee, I wasn’t aware that the majority of government officials at the end of the 19th century were women. Oh wait…they weren’t? Women didn’t even have non-federal voting rights at the beginning of the 20th century in the U.S? Hmm.

          • Meghan Murphy

            @Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette re: ‘Oh, I’m aware of the fact that many radfems have a critique of capitalism, NS. But if you truly DO, then riddle me this: how and why do you expect prostitution to end by using the capitalist legal system to crack down on it?’- Well, I don’t. I’m a socialist. I vote NDP. Sweden leans closer to socialism than Canada does and MUCH closer than the U.S. Socialism would very much be a part of the efforts to, eventually, end prostitution. Without a doubt.

          • http://hexpletive.com hexy

            I am absolutely certain that people will still be providing sexual services after the socialist revolution. There are many socialist feminist groups that agree with me, and that are pro decriminalisation. I’m a huge fan of some of their work.

          • Meghan Murphy

            A socialist revolution doesn’t necessitate a feminist revolution though, does it….

          • http://hexpletive.com hexy

            No, and I’ve met a lot of extremely misogynist socialists. But I personally feel that eliminating capitalism would get rid of at least one way that women and other non-male people are traditionally oppressed.

          • http://omangueblog.blogspot.com Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette

            It most certainly does.

          • http://othersideofporn.wordpress.com/ No Sugarcoating

            lol.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003406050169 kurt

            Wow, Nikki, what part of this story suggest free and unorecced consent and authentic personal expressions of sexuality to you? The being trafficked into underage prostitution by a much older man under threat? Her complaints about sustaining injuries in the course of this, and her being forced to continue? The perp’s guilty plea?How exactly do you define consent ?

          • http://omangueblog.blogspot.com Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette

            And yet you seem to favor use of the current state security apparatus to crack down on sex work. I mean, you DO favor the illegalization of buying sex, correct?

  • http://omangueblog.blogspot.com Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette

    Erotica = what turns me on.

    Porn = what turns you one.

    That seems to be the basic definition at work here.

  • http://omangueblog.blogspot.com Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette

    I should also make it clear that I agree with Hexy and Djirl: even in a perfect society, there will be some prostitution for at least three reasons that I can see:

    1) Some people will otherwise be unable to have a reliably active sex life beyond masturbation (I’m thinking here, for example, of people who have various disabilities, people who go long stretches at a time working at jobs which mean they’ll have no reliable contact with their preferred sort of sex partners, and people who are extremely socially inept).

    2) Some people will always want the sort of sex that just isn’t usually on the menu in most relationships, or will want sex with no emotional/social ties attached.

    3) Some people actually do LIKE sex work. I know that’s hard for a certain sort of feminist and many religious people to believe, but there it is: a fact.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Why must we always go to the poor, sad, unfulfilled john image? Or the man with disabilities (as though people with disabilities aren’t sexually desirable or able to have sex without paying for it)? Many of these johns are just married guys. Married guys with egos who feel that they deserve to be able to use women at will. Your myths work for your cause but they are not accurate in terms of who these johns really are. Nor does it really matter who the johns are. Women aren’t here so that you can buy them. You are not going to die if you don’t find a vagina asap. Is there any particular reason, in your opinion, why the vast majority of those who buy sex are men? And WHY they are buying sex from women? Please do enlighten me. It seems obvious to me that this has something to do with male power and not with sex drive.

      • http://omangueblog.blogspot.com Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette

        Who’s “always going”, Meghan? I’m saying that EVEN IN a perfect society, one wouls have at least these three reasons for prostitution. And note that, unlike you, I do not ascribe gender to either john or sex worker: in a hypothetical perfect society, there’d be men and women (and others) as well as people of all sexual orientations engaged as both customers and sex workers.

        As for your arguments regarding “people with disabilities”, they are nice, but I’m not thinking about someone who’s lost a limb or is bound to a wheelchair or is blind: I’m thinking of disabilities that are major turn offs to most of the population and I’m using real, flesh and blood human beings’ as my model here. Real people who report not having human contact, let alone sexual contact, because of their disabilities. Do I have to list these, or can your imagination fill in the blanks? Or are you claiming that your ideal world (where everyone is equally loved, no matter how they look/smell/taste etc.) should blot out the experiences of men and women in the REAL world who report that, yes, there are some physical disabilities that make it pretty much next to impossible to find a sexual partner?

        Many of these johns are just married guys. Married guys with egos who feel that they deserve to be able to use women at will.

        Meaghan, if you think prostitution causes infidelity, you are naive. If you think that prostitution means “the client can do whatever he wants with the prostitute at will”, you are extremely naive. I am in brothels on the average of 6 or 7 times a month and I can tell you with no uncertainty that a client who tries to do “whatever he wants” with a prostitute is generally going to get bounced. Badly. You PRESUME that prostitution is based on degradation and violence. I do not see it as being that way any more (or less) so than most “consensual” sex. If your argument – like Dworkin’s – is that all sex is BAD until we achieve the goal of a perfectly equal society, well and fine. That being the case, though, stop picking on prostitutes and start a crusade against housewives and marriage. Work against the normative sexual relation first.

        As for my “myths”…. One of the things that I find breathtakingly arrogant about anti-prostitution feminists is how little people like yourself actually LISTEN to the vast majority of people in the industry or researchers like myself who are observing it first hand. You seem to believe that your imaginations about what goes on in a brothel or a porn movie set are somehow more real than what the people doing this work actually say about it. Sex work can be a dirty, degrading nasty business, it’s true. Then again, however, most people get into sex work and stay there because they find it to pay a BETTER dolar per unit of dirt/degratation/danger than the other jobs that are offered to them.

        Again, if you are SERIOUS about stopping sex work, then you should be militating against union busting, the destruction of the educational system and the elimination of birth control. That should be your PRIMARY focus in life, not getting cops to run down johns and pros.

        As for “women not being here for you to buy them”, that is a very nice and noble sentiment. The reality is that we live in late CAPITALISM, Meaghan, and WE ALL are up for sale or rent, including you and me. Until that gets dealt with, complaining about one particular form of labor is rather utopian, especially when you have nothing better to offer but some pious words about an equal society that probably will never, ever materialize. NONE OF US should be bought or sold, but unfortunately, we are.

        As an aside regarding this, johns do not “buy” women: they buy sexual services from men and women (about 25-33% of the sex trade, at least, involves male workers, a fact you seem to forget). A john pays his fee for a given amount of time and the conditions of that time and what can be done or not are generally CLEARLY stipulated. If the john goes beyond those conditions, they generally are looking at getting into a world of hurt. And yes, there are many prostitutes who do get hurt by johns: the polain fact of the matter is that most often this is due to prostitution being illegal or irregular and prostitutes thus not being able to contract security or work in a safe environment – or even work with a contract. You are not going to make life easier for sex workers or make them safer by making prostitution illegal and switching th onus of illegality from pros to johns does not change the stigmatization and violence pros suffer at the hands of police one iota.

        Is there any particular reason, in your opinion, why the vast majority of those who buy sex are men?

        Yeah: because women’s sexuality is tightly socially controlled and, up until recently, women havent had access as a rule to disposable income. As those two things change, the number of female clients goes up.

        But here’s a queastion for you: if all of this is due to patriarchy and men’s desire to bust women, then why does male homosexual prostitution follow the same general pattern as female heterosexual prostitution?

        And WHY they are buying sex from women?

        Great question! After 7 years of studying this, I can say that the answer’s damned complex and trying to reduce it to a two-dimensional, good/evil proposition is ridiculous. PEOPLE (not just straight men) buy sex for a huge number of reasons which are not reducible to one single dimension: i.e. the need to dominate women.

        As a matter of fact, if you anti-prostitution feminsist would ever bother to stick your heads into a brothel more than occasionally, you’d find that the ethos of “objectification” is NOT what is going on in most brothels, strip clubs or other areas of sex work, at least in the U.S. and Brazil (where I am based). Men pay money for a cetain PERFORMANCE and said performance can’t be carried out by an inaminate object: it is based upon the human ability to manipulate symbols and generate meaning – false or real, in makes no difference.

        If you’d actually OBSERVE what goes down in a brothel, day after day, month after month, you’d ditch bthis stupid “objectification” idea Dworkin and McKinnon picked up from Kant (an 80 year old protestant virgin, btw) and maybe we could actually work TOWARDS improving sex workers’ lives.

        As long as you attempt to deal with real human livesd as if they were cyphers in a idealistic equation, Meaghan, you’ll not generate justice. And, ironically enough, when you claim to understand the lives of johns and sex workers based upon your idealizations about said lives, it is YOU, my friend, who are objectifying those men and women.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Hey Crazypants!

          You ‘do not ascribe gender to either john or sex worker’?? So you’ve imagined away gender? Wow! You are magic! No matter how much you’d like to pretend that gender isn’t a factor, it is.

          In case you haven’t been paying attention, which clearly you haven’t been. I don’t give a flying fuck about infidelity. And OF COURSE you see prostitution as being totally egalitarian, based on consent, yada yada yada. You buy sex! One would have to convince themselves of this sort of thing in order to do so.

          Regarding your question about ‘why…male homosexual prostitution follow[s] the same general pattern as female heterosexual prostitution?’ Hello! Let me introduce you to the male buyer. Note that men buy men. It is not women who are buying men. But men. So, while less common, it is still prevalent. Men feel they are entitled to other people’s orifices. Mostly women’s, sometimes men’s.

          I have been to lots of strip clubs. And let me tell you – it is ALL about objectification. I have never been to a brothel because I imagine I would get that same vomity feeling I get at strip clubs. I just don’t need to feel more sick about the world.

          • http://omangueblog.blogspot.com Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette

            Dear Meaghan,

            I’d appreciate it if you could avoid the name-calling. Given that you are the owner of this blog and would most certainly censor or ban anyone who responds to you in kind, insulting your commentors is simply bullying.

            You ‘do not ascribe gender to either john or sex worker’?? So you’ve imagined away gender? Wow! You are magic! No matter how much you’d like to pretend that gender isn’t a factor, it is.

            No one is “wishing away gender as a factor”.I am talking, quite obviously, about the idealized situation of a perfect society. That was very clearly the context of my original comment.

            Let me state my original point once again, to make things perfectly clear: “Even in a perfect society, there will be some prostitution for at least three reasons that I can see…”

            In none of those three reasons were genders specifically mentioned. I presume that in our hypothetical perfect society, gender wouldn’t exist or be a main factor in socialization. I mean, this seems to be what you and I are striving for, isn’t it? And EVEN IN such a society, I can think of three reasons why some prostitution would still be around. Said reasons are dealt with above.

            And OF COURSE you see prostitution as being totally egalitarian, based on consent, yada yada yada.

            No, I don’t.

            You buy sex!

            No, I don’t.

            I have sold sexual perfomance (if not sex). I have many dear people in my life who have sold sex or do sell sex. I myself, however, have never bought sex.

            As for me presuming that the sex trade is “egalitarian”, given that its current incarnation is in capitalism, why would I consider sex work, as it is, to be egalitarian? What I AM saying is that it is not necessarily worse of a job than many others which you and plenty of other people apparently have no problem living with. Most prostitutes I know, male and female, are adamant about why they are in sex work, even though it often sucks: because OTHER JOBS SUCK MORE.

            Every time you go to a restaruant, there’re sex workers who reject every single job in the joint as WORSE than the job they currently do.

            When you go to a hotel and find your room stocked with clean sheets and soap and toilet paper – again, there are legions of men and women who QUIT housekeeping work because they find it to be WORSE than sex work.

            When you pick a kid up from daycare or school, again, there are sex workers who’ve quit that kind of labor because they find it worse than sex work.

            So unless you live as a hermit on a mountaintop, Meaghan, and never, ever buy any of the services for sale in the Canadian economy, you are DAILY enjoying services that have been rejected by men and women as worse than sex work.

            It’s not that sex work is egalitarian or good – far from it: it’s that given the other jobs available, sex work ends up being a better option. Often a shitty option among shitty options, but still a better option.

            What really irks me is that your idealized, objectifying discussion of prostitution and abolition makes it next to IMPOSSIBLE for us to create options that would really make a difference in sex workers’ lives.

            We can’t, for example, take on police brutality against sex workers’ – often their number one complaint – because sex work itself is illegal or irregular. We also can’t bring the minority of violent clients to justice for the same reason.

            Hello! Let me introduce you to the male buyer. Note that men buy men.

            Let me restate my question in a different way and see if it’s not clearer. Isn’t your hypothesis that all purchases of sex are driven by misogyny? If that’s the case, how is male/male sex work driven by misogyny when no women are in the picture?

            I have been to lots of strip clubs. And let me tell you – it is ALL about objectification.

            Then you’re not observing carefully or you have a very unclear notion of what an object is and how it differs from a human being. One’s take in a strip club is typically based on creating a stable clientelle and on engaging them with a performance that is responsive to their psychological needs or desires. Objects can’t so that: only symbol-using, meaning generating PEOPLE can do that.

            Read some Martha Nussbaum: there’re 10 specific characteristics of objectification and strippers rate lower than fast food workers on most of them.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Ok. I completely misunderstood your comment. My apologies. I disagree with much that you say nonetheless but will have to reply a little later today, I’m on my way out.

        • Meghan Murphy

          @Thaddeus
          Ok – so let’s return to this comment. Again, where on earth did I imply that I ‘think prostitution causes infidelity’? Where did I ever argue against infidelity for that matter?

          I do criticize the institution of marriage. Yes indeed I do. I think it is bunk. I don’t see the purpose in present society if not to reinforce heterosexist and sexist norms.

          Legalizing prostitution does not create safer conditions for prostituted women. Legalized prostitution creates safer conditions for a few women. The rest still have little control over their ‘work’. It also does not stop the violence.

          re: Objectification / “Then you’re not observing carefully or you have a very unclear notion of what an object is and how it differs from a human being. One’s take in a strip club is typically based on creating a stable clientelle and on engaging them with a performance that is responsive to their psychological needs or desires. Objects can’t so that: only symbol-using, meaning generating PEOPLE can do that.”

          You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. If you think that what is happening strip clubs is not about objectifying women, then you need to look up Laura Mulvey.

          As long as you pretend to deal with misogyny as though it is perfectly normal and practical and impossible to change then you will NEVER end patriarchy and you will never see a egalitarian society. But I suspect you don’t want to. I suspect that you are perfectly happy with the capitalist-patriarchal society we live in now and that you simply want everyone to pretend that it is just fine. That there is no such thing as male power, or class, or race, or gender.

          You are completely condescending and on my blog I will call people ‘crazypants’ as I see fit. It is your choice to be here or not. I make my own rules here, ‘friend’. You go around calling people naive and deciding that those who don’t agree with you just don’t know what they’re talking about and then get choked when I call you ‘crazypants’? Um. Too bad.

          • http://omangueblog.blogspot.com Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette

            Dear Meaghan,

            When you complain that the men who purchase prostitution are married men, you seem to be supporting the notion that we should care what their merital status is, otherwise why bring it up?

            It seems to me that if you see prostitution and marriages as two sides of the same coin, as Engels and Goldman did, then the logical focus for activismn would be MARRIAGE for two good reasons:

            1) It is the sociologically normative institution, not prostitution. Change or get rid of it and prostitution needs must change or disappear. On the other hand, changing prostitution does not affect marriage. This has been proven by the illegalization of prostitution in the U.S. and Canada in the early 20th century in response to the demands of the religious and feminist right: prostituion did not disappear, but it did become more dangerous. Marriage, I’m sure we can agree, was not affected one iota by the illegalization of prostitution. So if you’re against the transactional model of sex relations, the place to attack is marriage.

            2) Because of the stigmatization of prostitution, the men and women involved in it are almost always socio-economically more vulnerable than those involved in marriage. Every attempt to make the sale of sex illegal has resulted in INCREASED vulnerability for sex workers and increased violence directed against them.

            So by attempting to attack the transactional model of sex by calling for increased sanctions on the sale of sex, you are not attacking the root of the problem and you are making a vulnerable group of people more vulnerable.

            Legalizing prostitution does not create safer conditions for prostituted women. Legalized prostitution creates safer conditions for a few women. The rest still have little control over their ‘work’. It also does not stop the violence.

            Your argument is horrible from a logical and human rights viewpoint. You are effectively saying the following: “If legalizing a form of labor does not put control of said labor into workers’ hands, then such labor should be illegal”. And yet, as I mentioned above, you aren’t pushing for other forms of labor, which are not in control of the workers, to be illegal. You are almost certainly quite content to use the services sold by workers in jobs that many sex workers reject as WORSE than the sex labor they do.

            Legalizing prostitution does indeed seem to create safer conditions for sex workers, as Holland, Germany, Australia and New Zealand have reported. It does not, of course, give them control over their labor. But you are using two different measures here for judging the effects of the legalization of prostitution and rather slyly seem to be claiming they are one:

            1) One thing is to create safer labor conditions

            2) Another, completely different thing, is to give workers control over the means of production.

            If you are the socialist you claim you are, you know full well that the two propositions are completely different and that only the first one is achievable under capitalism.

            If you are indeed a socialist, you are arguing in bad faith when you claim that we needs must maintain prostitution illegal because legalizing it doesn’t bring about the jubilee and put the means of production in prostitutes’ hands. If you are a socialist, you know full well that only a thorough-going revoluion will put the means of production in workers’ hands.

            In the meanwhile, however, we CAN work for better working conditions and wages. This is indeed possible under capitalism. Reform of labor conditions IS possible under capitalism: this is why we no longer have 8 year olds working in the coal mines of the U.S.

            Legalizing prostitution allows us to improve labor conditions of sex workers. Furthermore, it allows us to make a very clear distinction between sex work and sexual slavery. If you do not think such a distinction means anything, then you need to do some reading on what slavery IS as opposed to what wage labor is. Socialists are quite clear on this distinction and, if you are indeed a socialist, you should be well aware of it as well.

            Finally, when you say “Legalized prostitution creates safer conditions for a few women. The rest still have little control over their ‘work’”, you seem to be saying that unless and until we can make work conditions better for everyone, they should remain horrible for all.

            I ask you: what moral or socialist logic are you using there?

            You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. If you think that what is happening strip clubs is not about objectifying women, then you need to look up Laura Mulvey.

            I have a very, very good idea of what I’m talking about. I have worked i8n strip clubs as a stripper. I have many people who are close to me who have done the same. Furthermore, I’ve spent hundreds of hours in strip joints actually OBSERVING what goes on without assuming, as you seem to, that I know what happens a priori. And I’ve interviewed dozens upon dozens of strippers and prostitutes.

            As for Laura?Mulvey, I think your citation of her marks a very clear difference between our approaches: you are worried about prostitution and stripping from a theoretical and feminist perspective. You could care less about what the men and women involved in this laboir actually say about it. Thus Mulvey – a FILM CRITIC – is to you a first class theorist on objectification instead of a secondary writier on the topic. Furthermore, Mulvey’s theoretical work on objectification is much more real to you than, say, the hands on work of Katherine Frank, a feminist anthropologist who actually worked as a stripper for six years.

            Again, you seem to be concerned with theory and not with real flesh and blood people. You seem to feel you don’t have to listen to the men and women in the sex trade UNLESS they agree with you. You’d rather follow the analysis of film critic who’s never written about sexual labor than any one of several dozen people who’ve actually been involved with sexual labor and whose academic credentials are as impressive as Mulvey’s.

            Furthermore, if Mulvey is your theoretical touchstone with regards to objectification, well and good, but I think it’s ridiculous to pretend that Dworkin, McKinnon, Nussbaum and others haven’t informed feminist understandings of objectification. Take a look at any social science encycolpedia or dictionary you wish and see if Mulvey is mentioned, at all, in their analyses of objectification.

            As long as you pretend to deal with misogyny as though it is perfectly normal and practical and impossible to change then you will NEVER end patriarchy and you will never see a egalitarian society.

            And as long as you continue to ascribe ridiculous positions to your interlocutors, you’re not going to convince most of the world that your positions are based on anything but empty rhetoric.

            If I didn’t think we couldn’t eliminate misogyny, I wouldn’t bother arguing this point with you, would I? Where you and I disagree is on the point of PROSTITUTION, not misogyny. I do not think that attacking the sale of sex contributes materially in any way, shape or form to the elimination of misogyny.

            You are completely condescending and on my blog I will call people ‘crazypants’ as I see fit.

            Wow. It would be hard to find a clearer example of hypocrisy than that.

            I suspect that you are perfectly happy with the capitalist-patriarchal society we live in now and that you simply want everyone to pretend that it is just fine. That there is no such thing as male power, or class, or race, or gender.

            Wow. And I’m condescending, am I? 😀

            Meaghan, in the real world of politics, where all these changes we seek need to be emplaced, ascribing ridiculous attributes to people whom you disagree with and then attacking them based on those attributes can only take you so far. It should be QUITE obvious to any reader that I’m well aware of the effects of class, race and gender on the world and seek a world in which the markers of difference are eliminated or at least diminuished in their impact. Furthermore, as anyone who looks up my work can attest to, I’m working towards this in my daily life by LISTENING TO and WORKING WITH sex workers in Brazil, attempting to create more justice on a local amd national scale, a day at a time. It’s a lot of hard labor and my salary for this work is non-existent. Furthermore, in this labor I’m hardly located anywhere near the centers of global power – unlike, say, a North American.

            So if you feel that I’m living a life of patriarchical ease when I do the rounds of the brothels here in Rio to collect sex worker testimony and attest to the labor and human rights violations under which they suffer, I’d be very happy to hear what you think you are doing which is making the world a better place for us to live.

          • Meghan Murphy

            ‘When you complain that the men who purchase prostitution are married men, you seem to be supporting the notion that we should care what their merital status is, otherwise why bring it up?’
            I bring it up because you (and many others) use the argument that johns are lonely, socially inept (or disabled) guys that can’t get it anywhere else and therefore they NEED prostitutes.

      • http://hexpletive.com hexy

        Is there any particular reason, in your opinion, why the vast majority of those who buy sex are men?

        Because women are conditioned to repress our sexuality, to view ourselves negatively when we desire people, to slut shame ourselves if we are the sexual aggressors. A woman who instigates sex is labelled with negative terminology, a woman who can be categorised as sexual is victim blamed if she is attacked. Women’s sexuality is stigmatised and pilloried, forced into the virgin/whore dichotomy, with women who fuck men especially expected to be the pursued, not the pursuer. Of course women as a rule do not feel comfortable seeking out and paying for sexual services.

        Still, women are fighting this conditioning. Female purchasers of sexual services, from sex workers of all genders, are on the increase. I’ve seen female clients myself, I know a lot of sex workers of various genders who offer services to women, and there’s even a fledgling (although still struggling) escort agency offering woman-to-woman services in Sydney.

        As we break down the sex negative anti woman bullshit throughout our society, more women will buy sex. Not everyone, of course, and if there’s any truth to that idea that “women need more of an emotional connection than men” (I don’t know if there is or not) then there will still be a disparity) but I think we’re definitely going to see a substantial increase.

        • http://hexpletive.com hexy

          I’ve spoken to a male sex worker friend who sees female clients (who doesn’t feel comfortable commenting under their own name) and they’d like me to add on their behalf:

          “Male sexuality is long tied up in power. I say this, and I ask you to also LISTEN TO THE VOICES OF SEX WORKERS who WILL inform you that playing/working with [sexual] power DOES NOT mean that the client is in complete control of the booking, regardless of whether or not this is the fantasy. When I say that male sex is strongly influenced/driven/inflamed by power I am not referencing how that power is manifested physically, and that is a very, very important distinction. In my experience as a queer, male-whore (who works with all genders) this is not instinctive, but socialised behaviours. We’re taught (its beaten into us) to fearfully, violently, desperately protect borders around our bodies. This is a big fat hard reason why anal m2m sex is so liberating: no one is supposed to be allowed inside! I could expound on this, and a thousand other reasons (including muchos discourse on patriarchy, hierarchy, capitalism, economic privilege, feudalism, slavery and more), that also contribute to an overwhelming majority of female/womyn workers in the sex industry. But I mention this particularly (tonight) because I feel that its worth (this time) highlighting one of my favourite reasons. In current cultural/social/historical climates, female/womyn are typically better trained in the EMPATH department. This makes for better sex workers! We are healers, professional lovers, pleasure activists…

          When it comes to female/womyn clients, my experience (much like my experience with male clients) tells me that the usual rules apply: What works in dating and cruising and falling in love, also works in sex work. Womyn/female clients actually really appreciate, and reward, workers who work at paying attention to what they are actually wanting. My experience of womyn/female clients is that of people who couldn’t care less if you are a “feminist man” by word, its deed that matters. Chivalry rarely gets me anywhere, honesty gets me everywhere. Does this make sense? Men tend to want to pay for something that is already on the market, or is a deviation of whats on the market, they want security, power exchange and stress and pain relief. Womyn tend to prefer a kind of intimacy that is less about sacrifice and more about curiosity and connection (temporary or otherwise)…

          These are some thoughts, from a male sex worker who dances with all genders. Please keep in mind they are very limited, also broad, observations, and not at all representative of the extreme diversity of my sex work. Sex work is not exploitative by nature, sex work is work, there are clients for all workers, i advocate for recognition of vast, largely unrecognised, social and historical value that this job holds. sex worker rights are humyn rights.”

          I’ll just emphasise that their views and experiences are their own and don’t necessarily align with mine. I’ve personally found that my male clients tend to be seeking someone who stands out from the crowd, someone who seems to be offering something that other workers aren’t offering, even if this is only illusory. I don’t specifically advertise to women or other gendered people, although my advertising does specify that I welcome all genders. Because of this, I’ve found that the women who have come to see me have been responding to advertising that’s more or less targeting male clients.

          I’ve found that, while my male clients may be seeking a fairly general experience, my female clients have been after something extremely specific. They walk in knowing exactly what they want and how they want the session to go. I’ve also found that my female clients like to talk a lot and give me their histories… where their fantasy comes from, why they’ve come to see me. I guess this expands on what my friend has said about female clients seeking a connection. Male clients seem a lot happier to take things as they come, to take the session without the enhanced connection, or to slot me into a role they’ve already partially played out in their heads.

          I guess I have to ask, although I find even asking the question kinda triggering, do you find me to be participating in the oppression of women by seeing female clients? Or do you think my female clients are oppressing me?

          (My friend has just added, in a very dry tone, “they’re only oppressing you when they don’t show up for bookings.”)

    • http://othersideofporn.wordpress.com No Sugarcoating

      In a truly egalitarian society,

      1) Men would be horrified at the idea of having sex with someone who doesn’t sexually desire them, and thus wouldn’t buy sex.

      2) Men would not want “the sort of sex that just isn’t usually on the menu in most relationships” because most women find that sex degrading, and they certainly wouldn’t believe they are entitled to it OR we would disentangle the idea of said sex as being degrading, and most of those men would lose interest.

      3) How many prostitutes do you think would be left in this egalitarian society? Do you think there are millions of women who enjoy having sex with johns?

      Eliminating the demand for prostitution is only one facet of women’s liberation. You’re acting as if the only change would be the absence of prostitution, but prostitution is just one of the bigger symptoms of the real problem – misogyny.

      Another thing – Any man who has bought sex should not even be in this discussion, and I strongly suspect you are one of them.

      • http://omangueblog.blogspot.com Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette

        Men would be horrified at the idea of having sex with someone who doesn’t sexually desire them, and thus wouldn’t buy sex.

        Why? This presumes that “equality” needs must mean “like exchanged for like”, i.e. desire for desire. Why can’t desire be exchanged for something else and still be egalitarian? You do not presume, I’m sure, that in a true egalitarian society, apples must be exhanged for apples. You would allow the farmer, for example, to exchange the fruits of her labor for those of the mechanic, correct? And a talented musician would be allowed to exchange their performances for sustenance, am I not right? So why wouldn’t a man or woman who was very good at sexual perfomance be allowed to exchange that for sustenance?

        It’s not the sex that’s the problem, NS: it’s the objectification. And that objectification is caused by capitalism in ALL forms of labor, not just the sexual. Remove that and you remove your objectionn to exchanging sex for things other than equal desire.

        If that’s not true, then why does sex become the focus of this special “egalitarian” provision for you? Why can desire only be exchanged for desire? Can you give me any logical reason why that must be the case, NS?

        Men would not want “the sort of sex that just isn’t usually on the menu in most relationships” because most women find that sex degrading, and they certainly wouldn’t believe they are entitled to it OR we would disentangle the idea of said sex as being degrading, and most of those men would lose interest.

        I find it interesting that you are presumning I’m talking about men when I’m talking about people in general. Women, too, often desire sex that’s not on the menu in their relationships.

        Also, note that I didn’t mention any specific sexual acts, and yet you seem to believe that all the ones I have in mind needs must be “degrading”. Degradation, however, is not a transcultural constant: most men and women today ROUTINELY engage in sexual activities that their recent ancestors would find “degrading” – oral sex and homosexual sex, for example. What is and is not “degrading” apparently changes with the cultural winds. Given that there’s a HUGE variety of sex experiences and that most human societies restrict their members to all but a few approved sexual activities via taboos, I think we can very safely say that there is plenty of room for sex acts to be taboo – and thus not on the menu – without said sex acts being ontologically degrading.

        How many prostitutes do you think would be left in this egalitarian society?

        In terms of percentage of population? Probably not many, given that most prostitution is today based on the repression of quite routine, everyday, sex acts. But my point isn’t that there’d be many: my point is that even in a perfect society, there’d still be SOME.

        Do you think there are millions of women who enjoy having sex with johns?

        I don’t think most human beings who work enjoy their work. I don’t enjoy being a university professor, most days. And, of course, all of us – even prostitutes – have good days at work. I CERTAINLY don’t think that taking those millions of male and female sex workers and putting them to flipping burgers at McDonalds or cleaning hotel rooms for tourists would make them any happier, over all.

        Eliminating the demand for prostitution is only one facet of women’s liberation. You’re acting as if the only change would be the absence of prostitution, but prostitution is just one of the bigger symptoms of the real problem – misogyny.

        If you get rid of misogyny, you won’t get rid of prostitution. There’s male/male prostitution, even some female/female prostitution and not all male/female prostituion is driven by mysogyny in the first place, something you’d quickly see if you actually engaged with prostitution in real life instead of as an abstract concept.

        My suggestion would be to work towards gender equality in general and towards better labor conditions for all. That, in and of itself, will wipe out a good chunk of prostitution. Not a single pro I know went into the job because s/he lacked for other employment opportunities: it’s because all those other opportunities couldn’t compare with what s/he makes turning tricks. And I know many, many prostitutes and this is BRAZIL I’m talking about, which is certainly not the most egalitarian of societies, any way you cut it.

        Likewise, not a single john I know goes to pros saying “Hey, hey! Now I get to degrade women and reinforce the patriarchy! That’s what prostitutiuon is all about after all, isn’t it?”

        Johns buy sex for a whole RANGE of reasons.

        What I find ironic, NS, is that by ignoring what the vast majority of pros and johns have to say about sex work, you are in fact objectifiying them: turning them into little elements in an ideological equation whose result you’ve decided before hand. Come down to RdJ and I’ll be happy to introduce you to prostitutes and you can hear for yourself what THEY consider to be their main problems. Hint: it ain’t “the patriarchy”.

        Another thing – Any man who has bought sex should not even be in this discussion, and I strongly suspect you are one of them.

        Actually, I’m am man who has NEVER bought sex but who has SOLD sexual performances to female consumers, ages ago, as a stripper. And I’m a man who has many dear people in my most intimate circle of social support who have sold sex in one form or another or who are currently doing so.

        If you like, you can do a google for my name and some of the scientific papers I have produced as an anthropologist with my partner, also an anthropologist.

        • http://othersideofporn.wordpress.com No Sugarcoating

          “Why? This presumes that “equality” needs must mean “like exchanged for like”, i.e. desire for desire. Why can’t desire be exchanged for something else and still be egalitarian?”

          “If that’s not true, then why does sex become the focus of this special “egalitarian” provision for you? Why can desire only be exchanged for desire? Can you give me any logical reason why that must be the case, NS?”

          Sex without desire is rape. That’s the crux of the matter. Most prostitutes are not attracted to most of their clients. Your example of men “physically disabled” to the point where they are so hideous NO ONE will have sex with them qualifies. I don’t believe in such a man either. Anyone can find someone who will have sex with them. These guys’ problems is that those women who volunteer aren’t the “tens” that they think they are entitled to.

          Do you believe sexual abuse is worse than other forms of abuse? I do. Feminists do. Hell, most people on the planet do. That’s why I stress that egalitarianism is more important involving sex than other interactions. That’s also (besides the obvious reasons) why I am more critical of exploitation in sex work than in other industries.

          “In terms of percentage of population? Probably not many, given that most prostitution is today based on the repression of quite routine, everyday, sex acts. But my point isn’t that there’d be many: my point is that even in a perfect society, there’d still be SOME.”

          I think that’s a reasonable prediction, and I’m fine with that. I disagree with your reasoning as to why though. It’s useless to focus on the selling of sex if one wants to end prostitution, and I don’t find selling sex to be problematic in the first place. We want to end DEMAND. I’m sure there will be a few bad eggs left, but we’ll feel free to call them as such.

          “If you get rid of misogyny, you won’t get rid of prostitution. There’s male/male prostitution, even some female/female prostitution and not all male/female prostituion is driven by mysogyny in the first place, something you’d quickly see if you actually engaged with prostitution in real life instead of as an abstract concept.”

          Men buying men is not the same dynamic as men buying women. There is no gender inequality between men. So if gay prostitution still exists, I will deal. I don’t think gay prostitution has harmed gay men as a class the same way heterosexual prostitution has harmed women.

          “My suggestion would be to work towards gender equality in general and towards better labor conditions for all. That, in and of itself, will wipe out a good chunk of prostitution. Not a single pro I know went into the job because s/he lacked for other employment opportunities: it’s because all those other opportunities couldn’t compare with what s/he makes turning tricks. And I know many, many prostitutes and this is BRAZIL I’m talking about, which is certainly not the most egalitarian of societies, any way you cut it.”

          I already do all those things. The real question is, why can’t I do both – argue against prostitution and work in indirect ways towards ending demand for it?

          “Likewise, not a single john I know goes to pros saying “Hey, hey! Now I get to degrade women and reinforce the patriarchy! That’s what prostitutiuon is all about after all, isn’t it?

          Johns buy sex for a whole RANGE of reasons.”

          Wow, REALLY? I would have never expected that—NOT! It’s irrelevant to me whether they admit it. Most men don’t admit to being sexist, saying or doing sexist things, wanting to degrade women. Most rapist also claim they’re not actually rapists. Also, I think an increasing number of men’s views of women and sexuality have become so distorted they don’t even REALIZE they hold sexist attitudes or desires for degradation. I’ve heard this whole “range” of reasons and they all sound really similar to me. I am done giving men the benefit of the doubt. Porn killed any chance of that.

          “What I find ironic, NS, is that by ignoring what the vast majority of pros and johns have to say about sex work, you are in fact objectifiying them: turning them into little elements in an ideological equation whose result you’ve decided before hand. Come down to RdJ and I’ll be happy to introduce you to prostitutes and you can hear for yourself what THEY consider to be their main problems. Hint: it ain’t “the patriarchy”.”

          Oh, boo hoo, am I objectifying those poor johns? Cry me a river! You’re not even using the feminist definition of objectification, and you expect that to mean anything to me?

          • http://hexpletive.com hexy

            Your example of men “physically disabled” to the point where they are so hideous NO ONE will have sex with them qualifies. I don’t believe in such a man either. Anyone can find someone who will have sex with them. These guys’ problems is that those women who volunteer aren’t the “tens” that they think they are entitled to.

            That’s simply not true. Some of the people who engage sex workers due to physical disability are bed ridden, or completely non verbal, or unable to master simple social social skills due to intellectual disability. I’m certainly not saying that it’s impossible for people with these conditions to make non-commercial sexual connections, but it’s extremely difficult. These people still have a right to a sexual side to their life, and seeing sex workers is one way they can achieve that.

            You may want to look up the organisation Touching Base. It’s based in NSW and works with clients of sex workers who have disabilities and sex workers who work with them. I know a lot of sex workers who have gone through their training and now focus mainly on working with clients with disabilities. They are a very respectful demographic… hardly the entitled jerks you make them out to be.

          • http://omangueblog.blogspot.com Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette

            Sex without desire is rape.

            Oh, my. And now I find out that I’m a rape survivor as well. 😀

            No, NS, sex without desire is not necessarily rape. I have often had sex with a person because I wanted them to feel good, even though I wasn’t particularly desiring sex at the moment.

            SEX AGAINST ONE’S WILL IS RAPE. Period. There is nothing in any legal or moral definition of sex, anywhere, that mentions that desire muist exist, NS. People have sex for a lot of reasons, many of which don’t involve desire. Rape is and has always been defined as sex against one’s will. Now, you seem to want to water that definition down to the point where it effecvtively means nothing at all.

            I find that to be very dangerous.

            One can CHOOSE to have sex even if one isn’t feeling particularly full of desire. People do this ALL THE TIME for a series of reasons which don’t involve coercion in the slightest.

            Here I thought that one of the basic tenures of feminsm was the RIGHT TO CONTROL ONE’S BODY. Apparently not. Apparently some feminists now have an artificial definition of “good sex” and unless one plays up to that in ones sexual life, one is being raped and one’s partner should be jailed, independent of one’s will or thoughts on the matter.

            Do you believe sexual abuse is worse than other forms of abuse? I do

            Can I borrow your “abuso-meter” so that I can clearly measure what kinds of abuse are worse? 😀 I’ll just take a quote from Lenin here: it’s utopian in the extreme to believe that we can measure which sort of inhuman behavior is worse.

            It’s useless to focus on the selling of sex if one wants to end prostitution, and I don’t find selling sex to be problematic in the first place. We want to end DEMAND. I’m sure there will be a few bad eggs left, but we’ll feel free to call them as such.

            I would agree with that. Where I disagree is with the use of the current state security system to try and end demand. The effect of such prohibitionism is ALWAYS to make the women who sell sex more vulnerable and to subject them to violence. Cops in Sweden don’t just drag the men down to the precinct house you know: the women go too. And, unless the women are willing to turn state’s evidence against the client, they will be rung up on OTHER charges. So if your goal is to avoid violence to women, making demand illegal is not the way to do it.

            Men buying men is not the same dynamic as men buying women. There is no gender inequality between men.

            You SERIOUSLY need to read some queer theory if you really think that’s the case. Start qith Judith Butler and then tell me that there are no engendered dynamics between gay men. What there is NOT is a dynamic to punish women.

            I already do all those things. The real question is, why can’t I do both – argue against prostitution and work in indirect ways towards ending demand for it?

            What bothers me isn’t the “indirect ways”, its the use of cops to bust pros and their clients under the smokescreen justification that “only the men are being hurt because only buying sex is illegal”.

            Wow, REALLY? I would have never expected that—NOT! It’s irrelevant to me whether they admit it. Most men don’t admit to being sexist, saying or doing sexist things, wanting to degrade women. Most rapist also claim they’re not actually rapists.

            First of all, if you start out by saying “I’m going to try to understand reality, but I’m going to iognore any and all data that doesn’t meet my preconceived notions”, then you’re simply an ideologue. I’m a social scientist: I try to paint a reasonably accurate picture of what’s going on based on the evidence before me, not on some ideological outlook I have in my mind.

            Secondly, rapists are actually quite pleased to tell you about their activities, as lo9ng as you don’t use the word “rape”. Several studies among college men and military personel have proven this beyond a shaodw of a doubt.

            Finally, I’m an anthropologist. I don’t work by giving people a survey, I work by inserting myself in a social scene over a long period of time and observing people’s normative behavior. If most of these men were really using prostitutes in a violent way, most of the time, you’d think someone – prostitute or client would have mentioned it over the last seven years. Instead, prostitutes are more afraid of the police and are as afraid of “good citizen” types as they are of clients. A violent client is a relatively rare event: you get picked up by the cops and youknow that rape or a beating is pretty much on the menu. And if you stand on a street corner in Brazil, abuse from passer-by is much more common than abuse at the hands of clients.

            This is why the thought of using cops to end demand sickens me: it’s giving justification and legal excuse to prostitutes’ worst enemies to abuse them evfen more. I don’t even want to think what will happen if such a law is ever enacted here in Brazil.

            Oh, boo hoo, am I objectifying those poor johns?

            No, you’re mainly objectifying sex workers. I wouldn’t expect you to even think johns are human beings, but it’s surprising that you don’t seem to want to listen even to the women in whose name you seem to love to talk. Unless their stories and opinions coincide with your politics, you don’t want to hear them. You seem to believe that your politics should weigh more than prostitutes’ experiences and wishes.

          • http://hexpletive.com hexy

            These guys’ problems is that those women who volunteer aren’t the “tens” that they think they are entitled to.

            It just occurred to me to come back here and reply to this again, because you might not actually be aware of the trope you’re buying into here, and how incorrect it is.

            The sex industry has some of the most diverse standards of attractiveness I have ever encountered, in any arena where people are seeking other people to fuck. There are sex workers of all ages, all sizes, all races, all disability statuses, all sexes, all genders, all socioeconomic backgrounds, all prices, all appearances, all styles, all states of seroconversion… everything! If you can name a type of person, there is another type of person willing to seek out and pay that type of person for sex. Sex workers are certainly not all “tens”. I myself am a mixed race, disabled, plus size sex worker in my late twenties who wouldn’t consider myself the most attractive person in the world. I’ve worked in houses with sex workers who have been mature, plus size, working with disabilities, and yet still out-earned the young, white, able-bodied, neurotypical, thin competition.

            It’s a common misconception that all sex workers are slim young white able-bodied cis women. It’s simply not the case… on the contrary, many clients have distinct preferences away from this type of person.

        • Meghan Murphy

          ALL johns benefit from the patriarchy, and so I doubt they think about it much. I doubt that they ‘ [go] to pros saying “Hey, hey! Now I get to degrade women and reinforce the patriarchy! That’s what prostitutiuon is all about after all, isn’t it?” because they think patriarchy is natural and awesome. It’s just the way it is for johns. THAT IS WHY THEY BUY SEX. That’s why they CAN buy sex. They aren’t feminists. They don’t give a fuck about the patriarchy.

          And, as NS gets at, and working with Jaclyn Friedman’s vision of ‘enthusiastic consent’, I would argue that there is NOT ever enthusiastic consent when a man buys sex from a woman. So how doesn’t this count as rape? If these women would never in a million years have sex with these men voluntarily and with enthusiasm then aren’t we actually talking about rape?

          Experiencing sexual assault or abuse is not like cleaning a hotel room. Having sex with another person is not like cleaning a hotel room. Where on earth are you getting these comparisons from?? Have you ever had sex before? Was it like cleaning a hotel room? If I have ever been so detached from sex as to feel as though the experience was akin to cleaning a hotel room, I would feel as though I had been violated. Having sex with someone when you aren’t into it feels like rape. In my personal experience. But what does my experience matter, right?

          • http://omangueblog.blogspot.com Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette

            Well, I”ll agree that most johns aren’t feminists. Hell, you and people like NS seem to think that anyone who doesn’t think exactly like you isn’t a feminist. You’re into heavy duty schismatics. Even guys like Hugo Schwyzer aren’t feminist enough for thee, so I’m not surprised that you don’t think johns are feminist. 😀

            And it’s true, most of the johns I interview hate feminism and the main reason they do so is that they believe that it’s being dominated by people like you, even though your view is pretty extreme and certainly not what most feminists would accept as their understanding of feminism.

            But one of the things I find interesting is that you seem to think these guys are powerful when, in fact, my reserach indicates that most of them are not at all powerful. These guys are certainly not anywhere near the reins of power in the System, whether we see the system to be primarily patriarchical or capitalist or (as I believe) kyriarchical.

            As for Jaclyn Freidman, you’ve never SEEN enthusiasm until you’ve seen some man or women make the equivalent of 4 month’s wages in a single hour of sex. By any way Jackie chooses to measure it, most of the sex that goes on in brothels in Brazil is EASILY as “enthusiastic” as most of the sex that goes on in marriage beds in Brazil.

            One other point about Friendman, however: how is it, excactly, that we’re supposed to measure “enthusiasm”? What’s our objective bottom line here, presuming we’re going to make her definition law? Because you know – or should know – that there IS NO OBJECTIVE WAY TO MEASURE ENTHUSIASM. Jaclyn’s just come up with a nice rhetorical point which – like so much of conservative feminism’s philosophical and rhetorical points – cannot ever be put into operational law without causing more violation of human rights than it fixes.

            Experiencing sexual assault or abuse is not like cleaning a hotel room.

            If you think being paid to have consensual sex with a client is rape, then you simply have not listened to prostitutes, the vast majority of which have VERY clear cut distinctions between the two things.

            Again, Meaghan, it seems as if you feel your rhetorical or political positions should take priority over peoples’ lived experiences.

          • Meghan Murphy

            @Thaddeus
            ‘Well, I”ll agree that most johns aren’t feminists. Hell, you and people like NS seem to think that anyone who doesn’t think exactly like you isn’t a feminist. You’re into heavy duty schismatics. Even guys like Hugo Schwyzer aren’t feminist enough for thee, so I’m not surprised that you’

            Funny because just yesterday your pro-porn, de-crim advocate, Jessie here, told me that none of us were really feminist! I’m so confused! Am I feminist or not? PLEASE tell me DUDE.

      • Michael H.A. Biggs

        NS, you asked me above why I’m on this site despite not being a feminist. And now you say that Thaddeus shouldn’t be in this conversation if he’s ever bought sex. I suppose that’s reasonable, if you want a blog conversation where a certain amount of common assumptions can be assumed. But I would be sad to be excluded – Meghan’s writing is addictive, the debates are fascinating, and there are some real gems, like your responses to Mike Zealey.

        Maybe you then would like to respond to me by saying “then why can’t you just read it Michael, and not chip into the conversation with your misogynist responses?” I suppose the answer is that it is fun to engage if I think I have something to say, or an argument to make. I find I take less notice of blogs which don’t generate debate. So I hope that the Feminist Media Collective doesn’t take your approach. But if Meghan asks me to go away, that’s fair enough, but disappointing.

    • Meghan Murphy

      @Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette
      ‘Even in a perfect society, there will be some prostitution’
      No. In a supposedly ‘perfect’ society no one would be buying sex from anyone because in my version of utopia no one would be coercing anyone to have sex with anyone else and money is coercive. Men who are buying sex from women are buying sex from women who would not otherwise being having sex with them. They are being coerced because they need the money. Money is coercive, therefore there is coercion involved in buying sex from a woman. That doesn’t sound like much a utopia to me.

      • http://hexpletive.com hexy

        Genuinely curious: do you feel that all exchange of labour for money is coercive?

        • http://othersideofporn.wordpress.com/ No Sugarcoating

          I don’t think Meghan sees sex as labour though.

          • http://hexpletive.com hexy

            Part of sex worker’s rights is acknowledging that sex work is work: learning to value what we do as genuine and worthwhile labour worth as much as any other job. Without that, we cannot be respected as workers.

          • http://omangueblog.blogspot.com Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette

            Dear Meaghan,

            Can you please explain why you think money is coercive? I’m interested in the philosophical roots of this belief.

            Secondly, let’s say we have a perfect society with no money. OK, there’d STILL be people swapping sexual services for other kinds of services.

            Or would you ban someone who’s really good at sexual performance from using their art for echange for other things?

          • Meghan Murphy

            Because (ONCE AGAIN), when people are poor they are not free to make ‘choices’ in the same way as people with privilege are. When people need money there is no real freedom of choice.
            This is why men with money have power over women who don’t have money and need to provide sexual services from them. Power dynamics! Systematic inequity! Class! Gender! Wheeeeeee!
            Money is coercive because some people have it and other people don’t. And because people need it in order to survive.

          • http://hexpletive.com hexy

            I certainly agree that economic privilege can create power differentials, but I disagree that this precludes choice when people are poor. People can still make choices when they are economically disadvantaged. Being poor doesn’t mean you’re completely disempowered, and you still own your own body. People often negotiate with what they have, and it’s patronising to sit in a position of privilege over them and tell them that the poor dears are just too poor to know what they’re really doing. I’ve been in economically disadvantaged positions and swapped sex for food and shelter, and I disagree that this was not an informed choice.

            Privilege and coercion are a spectrum, not a binary.

          • Meghan Murphy

            @hexy – You’re wrong. Being poor is extremely disempowering. I think you are representing ‘choice’ as something that happens in a bubble. I am not being patronizing by saying that poverty limits choices. This is simply true. We’re talking about structural inequity here – pointing out that structural inequity exists and limits choice and freedom does not in and of itself limit choice and freedom, rather it is the poverty and the way in which institutionalized sexism and classism and racism impact people’s ability to make ‘free’ choices. This is such a backwards way of approaching the issues. Acknowledging these realities is not what limits choice. It’s like arguing that if we pretend we’re working on a level playing field we will somehow manifest a level playing field. It doesn’t help to simply ignore how structural oppression functions. Yes, we make choices, but we make choice within very tight boundaries. Particularly when we are poor. My choices have been very much impacted by the fact that I have been living, technically, below the poverty line for pretty much my whole life. I have other privilege, of course, which has allowed me to move in society in a way that others can not. Being poor is disempowering. It is why women stay in abusive relationships. It is why survival sex work exists. You’ve just said that you’ve swapped sex for food and shelter and yet deny people’s choices were limited/impacted because of poverty. Choice doesn’t just happen. And it’s not empowering to pretend like we all make choices outside of the context of these structures. I don’t think it speaks to my privilege that I acknowledge this as a primary factor in ‘choice’ and, rather, think that it speaks to the privilege of those who deny these factors and can pretend like choices are something we are all able to make regardless of circumstances. It also goes to show the way in which so many of us have drank the American neoliberal kool-aid.

          • http://hexpletive.com hexy

            I didn’t say that being poor didn’t limit choices and wasn’t disempowering. I completely agree with you that it does and is. I said that being poor doesn’t COMPLETELY disempower people and that, most of the time, people still retain control over their own bodies. As you said, also still retain other privileges that may allow them to navigate their way through poverty with varying degrees of success, if not necessarily comfort. Poverty’s not FUN, but being in poverty doesn’t mean you are automatically an utter victim with no autonomy.

            And I certainly didn’t say that people’s choices aren’t impacted by poverty… of course they are! People’s choices are impacted by all sorts of factors, including socio-economic factors. That doesn’t mean that those choices are predetermined or unable to be made by that person with at least a degree of freedom.

            Also, not American here. I exist in an Australian cultural context, not an American one.

          • http://othersideofporn.wordpress.com/ No Sugarcoating

            At this point I’m laughing. Why are we still engaging a guy who says things like “Or would you ban someone who’s really good at sexual performance from using their art for echange for other things?” Or thinks that radical feminism is “exteme”, which we usually hear from conservatives…which he also likened us to.

            This was supposed to be a debate between feminists, but all of these dudes have come in and hijacked the conversation. That’s the way the cookie crumbles, I guess.

          • Meghan Murphy

            We aren’t. No more comments from Thaddeus. The white man ‘researching’ brothels. Who thinks that those without a ‘publishing record in peer-reviewed journals’ journals don’t deserve his precious, precious time. And in the same breath accuses me of being privileged. He has used his privilege to research brothels and then show up on feminist blogs and monopolize comments sections by explaining to feminists why their feminism is wrong and why it’s our faults that johns don’t like feminism. What a waste of space.

  • http://othersideofporn.wordpress.com No Sugarcoating

    After reading the comments over at Hugo’s, I agree with the radical feminists assessment of him. He is obviously not a feminist if these are the kind of people that feel comfortable commenting on his blog. Half of them are MRAs, I’m sure….

  • http://www.swoplosangeles.org Jessie Nicole

    Meghan,

    You asked me what you said that was so terribly offensive and in the same post accused me of not wishing to engage with people who disagree with me. No, you didn’t force me to engage, but the conversations were centered around sex workers rights and touched on my work and my organization specifically. I’m going to tackle the former and then address the latter. Here are some highlights from this recent exchange with Hugo, which is all your writing I’m familiar with:

    “Just to be clear, I don’t believe that prostitution is work, I believe it is exploitative and abusive and I believe it is a legitimized form of rape…. Calling it ‘work’ makes everyone, but especially men, especially pimps and johns, feel at ease about what they are doing. Because pornography, prostitution and strip clubs are things that exist to benefit men, at the expense of women “

    Emphasis mine. I find it terribly offensive that you would feel you have the authority to tell a group of women they have been raped, and are actively participating in rape. This kind of argumentation makes it especially difficult for prostitutes who are raped on the job to have a way to express that horror, as you have decreed their job IS rape.

    And the term “sex work” did originate from johns or pimps. It originated from a prostitute in an attempt to form some unity between everyone working in the sex industry. It’s a term whose very history is steeped in a human rights effort. Calling it work makes it possible to talk about an industry in terms of labor conditions and safety, as well as talk about commonalities all fields of sex work share. Those who identify specifically as sex workers have a diverse background, a wide array of experiences, and by claiming ALL of them as “exceptions” you ignore a wide community of people fighting for their rights. Continuing on that note…

    “You use the term “sex work” because it makes life easier for you and it enables you to ignore the horrific realities, the rape and the abuse that happens to prostituted women. “Sex work” is a term that deserves quotations. Of course it makes you angry, it disrupts the reality you imagine and disrupts your worldview. It makes you uncomfortable because it hints at the truth and leads you to consider, for a brief moment, what prostitution is and what pornography represents. The messages they send to men and women. The fact that this is exploitation and sexism in action. Using the term “sex work” comforts those who don’t wish to deal with the reality and who don’t wish, really, to challenge much of anything.

    We use the term sex work specifically to differentiate between our experiences and those of women who are forced into the sex trade. We want to challenge the policies and form of policing that not only do concrete harm to our community, but make it harder to help those who need it. We know intimately the rape and abuse that those in the sex trade face. This was incredibly condescending, and showed a blatant ignorance of the history of the movement for sex workers rights. And as you are speaking about my community, and recommending policies that affect my community, I find that deeply offensive.

    I have made, and continue to make, great efforts to engage with people who disagree with me. SWOP-LA is currently building alliances all across the board in LA, including meeting with people running the End Demand campaign. We are an extremely small organization with limited resources, including time, so little of this has been made formal or even public as of yet.

    I also have to engage with people who disagree with me vehemently each and every day. The whole culture that tells us sex workers are not worthy of love, respect, or the authority to make their own decisions, is something I am forced to engage with regularly. I’m sure you experience some of this as a woman and a self-identified feminist. But staying off of your blog or conversations is a form of self-care. There is more than enough to be angry and frustrated with when it comes to feminist politics. I don’t feel the need to subject myself to more than necessary. Were you someone with a lot of influence in Los Angeles or were this conversation doing anything productive, I’d feel differently. So no, it’s not that we disagree that troubles me.

    I put “radical feminism” in quotes in relation to your arguments because I don’t believe that is what you are practicing. I am well versed in radial feminist literature, including the works you have cited. I actually have an extensive background in studying the feminist literature, and other social justice literature, in personal, activist, and academic settings. I am not dismissing all of radical feminist theory, I am specifically dismissing the way you and your supporters in this conversation have presented it. I personally believe that what you advocate is neither very radical nor very feminist.

    I’m sorry things got personal. I’m sorry I added to that. However, I still think you have some problematic views that end up hurting the very people you’re claiming to help. So I hope the best for you, and while I can’t exactly wish you success in all of your endeavors, I do hope your struggle for human rights does good for people and that you are able to enact positive change at some point.

    • Meghan Murphy

      @Jessie Nicole
      The conversation wasn’t centered around sex worker’s rights. It was around the methodology and purpose of doing a study that sets out to ‘prove’ that johns are just ‘regular/nice’ guys. (For those who are confused, we are talking about a conversation that happened around this post on Hugo’s fb page which linked to this study, out of SFU (Vancouver): http://www.johnsvoice.ca/)

      Regarding the quote you’ve pulled out here: “Just to be clear, I don’t believe that prostitution is work, I believe it is exploitative and abusive and I believe it is a legitimized form of rape…. Calling it ‘work’ makes everyone, but especially men, especially pimps and johns, feel at ease about what they are doing. Because pornography, prostitution and strip clubs are things that exist to benefit men, at the expense of women “

      and then your comment: “I find it terribly offensive that you would feel you have the authority to tell a group of women they have been raped, and are actively participating in rape.”

      As I wrote earlier, money is coercive, therefore I believe that when men buy sex from women they are coercing them into having sex. The women are not enthusiastically volunteering to have sex with these men, they are being coerced. Because they need the money. As I also wrote earlier, if we are working towards ‘enthusiastic consent’ as the only egalitarian and respectful way to be engaging in any sexual acts, then I’m afraid that sex work just doesn’t fit into that definition. This is what I mean when I say that it is a legitimized form of rape. Men are paying women to be able to have sex with them that the women would not have otherwise consented to. Does this sound like enthusiastic consent to you? Does it sound like this isn’t coercive to you?

      I’ve been date raped before. I’ve also had blacked out partners have sex with me when I didn’t want to. There was no violence. I wasn’t screaming no. It wasn’t like TV. But I felt violated. Years later I can call that rape. Once when I wouldn’t have sex with a partner he masturbated and then ejaculated on to me. Sexual assault, right? Pretty rapey. Pretty traumatic. Ok. What about women who have sex with their husbands even though they don’t want to, because they are told it is their ‘duty’ as wives? Feels pretty non-consensual, right? What is the difference between a wife agreeing to sleep with her husband, even though she doesn’t want to, in exchange for marriage, the stability of her family, perhaps income, a home, and a man buying sex from a woman who doesn’t want to have sex with him. But will. Because she needs the money?

      You called me a radical feminist. I didn’t identify as one. That said, my arguments are very much based in radical feminism and certainly don’t shy away from the label. The fact that you have a degree in literature and have supposedly studied feminist literature but seem to have no understanding of radical feminist theory seems questionable. I am completing a Masters degree in Women’s Studies and I majored in WS in my undergrad. I know what feminism is. For you to come her and tell me that what I or my ‘supporters’ are advocating for is not feminist makes me think that you are, perhaps, exaggerating when you say you are ‘well versed in radical feminist literature’. You’re not fooling us.

  • http://omangueblog.blogspot.com Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette

    I am completing a Masters degree in Women’s Studies and I majored in WS in my undergrad.

    Of course. A nice, college-educated, middle class young Canadian woman (probably white to boot) CERTAINLY understands prostitution better than the third world women who work in the sex trade, right?

    Your privileges are showing, Meaghan. 😀

    • Meghan Murphy

      @Thaddeus
      ‘Your privileges are showing, Meaghan.’

      EEEK! Hide them hide theeeeem!

      Are you serious?
      a) I was responding to Jessie’s description of her own background and education (which she had described in another thread) and her claim that what I was arguing wasn’t feminism
      b) I am not ashamed of my education. Hey! I better not be – I’m 60, 000 in debt because of it! Wheeee! I feel….RICH. And you know women all over the planet are getting wealthy off of radical feminism! All my degrees sure do make me about as employable as, well, me, before I spent 10+ years in college/university.
      c) I am well aware of my privilege. I don’t hide it. Google me. I’m about as white as they come. Like, glow in the dark white. Read my bio. My education is not a secret. You seem to think I should be hiding it though? Would that provide with more integrity somehow? Would you prefer that I pretended I wasn’t educated? That I was just making all this stuff up on the fly? Love your logic. LOVE IT.
      d) I’m so happy that one of you has finally acknowledged that there are women who exist outside of the West!! I’m just POSITIVE that impoverished women in developing countries are SO grateful for all the work you all are doing to ensure that they are free to be prostituted or trafficked. What an incredible service you all are doing for her! You sure do understand how freedom/poverty works!
      e) Funny comments coming from someone who keeps throwing around I’M AN ANTHROPOLOGIST. READ MY PUBLICATIONS. THEY ARE SCIENTIFIC.
      F) Check yourself or get off my blog. Seriously. I’m getting really sick of your pompous douchebaggery.

      • http://hexpletive.com hexy

        I’m not Thaddeus (never encountered him prior to this thread and the one at Hugo’s) but I’m pretty sure he’s been talking a bunch about women outside the West, at least in the context of his work and where he lives.

    • http://womononajourney.wordpress.com womononajourney

      And the “pro-sex work position” totally arose from third world women on their own, right? The rise of neoliberalism had nothing to do with it, ya think?

  • http://www.AMensProject.com Geo

    I hear common threads repeating themselves here now (amongst the disagreements).

    1. Sex workers perform sex work because:
    a. They lack better economic opportunities
    b. Misogyny – creates a significant – male heterosexual “desire” and “entitlement”
    2. Sex work is Not simply “normal work” in how it:
    a. Commonly hurts women emotionally and in many cases physically,
    b. Reinforces – misogynist beliefs in Men
    3. Support – of women – particularly those who are poor and of Color who are and have been sex workers (as well as survivors of “direct, clear assault” [e.g.”rape” bDey anyone’s definition for example] is very important.

    Disagreement – seems to center upon:
    1. Defining Sex Work as “rape” or not and
    2. Rationalizing and intellectualizing various things related to sex work vs. focusing upon Misogyny and how Women and Girls are hurt by it particularly related to sex work (and rape).

    • Michael H.A. Biggs

      Would it be simpler to regard all sexual acts as rape, unless they are solo and without using porn or sexual fantasies involving women? After all, I’m told that the Bible regards adultery as including the looking on a woman with lust in your heart. In a similar vein, we could ordain that all men are misogynists by definition, at least from puberty onwards. Perhaps you could escape this slur, Geo, because of your involvement with pro-feminist groups.

      • Michael H.A. Biggs

        Before anyone else says it, I admit my last remark was embarrassingly sarcastic. I had been coming to terms with the idea that misogynist seems to mean “non-feminist”, and therefore I can feel comfortable with my “misogyny”. But I’ve just looked at some of the quotes from male porn users quoted on NS’s site. They are truly vile, and seem to reflect my original understanding of the word – hatred of women.

        So it remains a powerful tool for some feminists: to broaden out the meaning of words, to vilify things they reject. So prostitution becomes rape, and non-feminist men who enjoy porn are lumped in with hate-filled neanderthals. I’m snookered, for the moment anyway.

    • http://insertoriginalblognamehere.blogspot.com/ Djiril

      “Disagreement – seems to center upon:
      1. Defining Sex Work as “rape” or not and
      2. Rationalizing and intellectualizing various things related to sex work vs. focusing upon Misogyny and how Women and Girls are hurt by it particularly related to sex work (and rape).”

      In other words, you’re not even bothering to try to understand our arguments. If you were really trying to even see what those of us who disagree are saying, the second list would be at least as long as the first.

    • http://womononajourney.wordpress.com womononajourney

      Ummm…many, many exited women have described themselves as “paid rape victims.” You can’t just throw cash at someone and do whatever you want to them. Legalizing prostitution is simply legalizing abuse.

  • Pingback: The trouble with Twitter feminism | Feminist Current()