There is no feminist war on sex workers

I’ve become increasingly frustrated by what feels like a barrage of articles coming from self-described progressives claiming that feminists are the real enemy of sex workers. It seems as though some of those who position themselves as ‘sex worker rights activists’ are intent on creating rigid divisions among women, placing the prostituted woman in a category of her own and placing feminists in some illusory moralistic war against sex.

A key factor is that many writers on the left either misunderstand or misrepresent the abolitionist approach as a moralistic one, leading them to draw unfounded conclusions based on what could easily be resolved by having a simple conversation.

I’m disappointed that journalism, the left and the feminist movement has come to manipulating ideology in order to further a rather self-defeating cause, but here we are.

There are a number of recent examples of this distortion. Reason, a libertarian print and online magazine, recently published an article called “The War on Sex Workers.” The author, Melissa Gira Grant, criticizes the criminalization of prostituted women in the U.S. — a righteous endeavor, no doubt. But rather than challenge an unequal and oppressive system that offers marginalized women few viable options outside the sex industry and then criminalizes them for doing what they have to in order to survive (essentially criminalizing poverty) and a porn culture that positions stripping and pornography as empowering professions for women, Grant blames feminists.

She writes:

Not all people who do sex work are women, but women disproportionately suffer the stigma, discrimination, and violence against sex workers. The result is a war on women that is nearly imperceptible, unless you are involved in the sex trade yourself. This war is spearheaded and defended largely by other women: a coalition of feminists, conservatives, and even some human rights activists who subject sex workers to poverty, violence, and imprisonment—all in the name of defending women’s rights.

This “war on women” is not imperceptible. In fact, one of the ways in which this ‘war’ is glaringly obvious, is in the fact that the sex industry is a gendered one. Women make up the vast majority of prostitutes (statistics say approximately 80 per cent) and, beyond that, women of colour are overrepresented. In Vancouver, B.C.’s notorious Downtown Eastside, Canada’s so-called ‘poorest postal code,’ where at least 60 women went missing over about 20 years, 70 per cent of prostitutes are First Nations women. Considering that First Nations people make up about 2 per cent of the total population in Vancouver and 10% of the population on the Downtown Eastside, this number is significant.

It doesn’t take involvement in the sex trade to know that prostitution and violence against women in prostitution is the result of a very effective combination of racism, poverty, and patriarchy.

Feminists have been working against these intersecting oppressions for decades; so why are progressive writers so unwilling to cover the prostitution debates accurately?

Jacobin*, a magazine which is being credited with ‘mainstreaming Marx’ has taken up the topic of sex work a number of times. Seemingly invested in ‘sex as work’ line so many leftist publications favour, discussions of the issue either erase the abolitionist perspective completely or simply misrepresent the arguments.

Laura Agustin, for example, writes: “Most of the moral uproar surrounding prostitution and other forms of commercial sex asserts that the difference between good or virtuous sex and bad or harmful sex is obvious.” She frames dissenting perspectives as repressive and prudish – people who have limited their understanding of sex to the marriage bed — a sentiment that is the antithesis to decades of feminist work that deconstructed notions of romance and monogamy and placed sex firmly within a political context.

Agustin muddies things further by stating that “there is nothing inherently male about exchanging money for sex,” as though this has been argued. “By whom?” one might ask. Indeed this is what feminists have been arguing for decades – that there is nothing ‘inherent’ or ‘natural’ about men buying sex from prostitutes, rather it is a product of our unequal culture and male power.

By ignoring feminist perspectives on sex work and erasing the gendered nature of the industry; by focusing only on the ‘work’ aspect of sex work, women and the feminist movement are done a huge disservice, as is the reader, who is left with a completely confused and inaccurate understanding of the reality of the industry as well as the discourse.

Another piece at Jacobin follows this progressive effort to look at the issue of prostitution through the lens of ‘work.’ In his article ‘The Problem With (Sex) Work,’ Peter Frase argues that “the issue with sex work is not the sex, it’s the work.”

This is a mistake many socialists make while trying to approach the subject, as they assume that using a labour analysis will necessarily translate into a leftist one. While Frase notes that there are problems with the end of the debate “that revels in sex work as a source of independence and self-expression while glossing over its less glamorous aspects” because it “can neglect the coercive and violent parts of the sex,” he glazes over the abolitionist position (that is, feminists who want to work towards an eventual end to prostitution) as though it were irrelevant. In this effort to make prostitution just a job like any other (possibly crappy) job (as Frause writes: “it’s work, and work is often terrible”), the left abandons women to the whims of men and the market, something you’d think we who desire a more equal world would want to move beyond.

Grant also published a piece in Jacobin discussing her frustration at those “who have made saving women from themselves their pet issue and vocation, [who] are so fixated on the notion that almost no one would ever choose to sell sex that they miss the dull and daily choices that all working people face in the course of making a living.” But this argument fails to understand both that choice exists on a spectrum and within a context of inequality and that the sex industry is part of a larger system that sexualizes the oppression of women.

The argument that feminists are trying to “save women from themselves” is a dangerous one that can easily be applied to, for example, feminist activism around domestic abuse (what if she wants to stay with her abusive husband?) and extended into an overzealous defense of individual women’s ‘choice’ to objectify themselves. We want so desperately not to be victims that we try to turn oppression into empowerment.

Misunderstandings about feminist perspectives on prostitution are perpetuated explicitly by articles like Grant’s but further reinforced when other writers aren’t willing to do the work of fairly representing the arguments.

Fuse magazine published an article in their Abolition issue by Robyn Maynard, criticizing what she calls ‘carceral feminism’. She cites the Bedford case, which challenged Canadian prostitution laws as unconstitutional, as an example of ‘sex worker-led’ opposition to ‘prohibition’, as she mistakenly calls it.

Maynard claims that this case is one led by marginalized women, in doing so, erasing the fact that First Nations women’s groups across Canada support the abolitionist movement and have made the point numerous times that the prostitution of Indigenous women is as a direct result of colonization.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) recently passed a resolution that supports the abolition of prostitution, stating that: “prostitution exploits and increases the inequality of Aboriginal women and girls on the basis of their gender, race, age, disability and poverty.”

NWAC goes on to state:

Aboriginal women are grossly overrepresented in prostitution and among the women who have been murdered in prostitution. It is not helpful to divide women in prostitution into those who “choose” and those who are “forced” into prostitution.  In most cases, Aboriginal women are recruited for prostitution as girls and/or feel they have no other option due to poverty and abuse.  It is the sex industry that encourages women to view prostitution as their chosen identity.

Another organization, Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry (IWASI) states that they recognize the sex industry “as a continued source of colonialism and harm for Indigenous women and girls worldwide” and stand against “the total decriminalization, legalization, or normalization of the sex industry.”

In her piece, Maynard conveniently ignores the fact that the Bedford case is not, in fact, a ‘sex worker-led’ case, but rather was initiated by a white man, Alan Young, whose interest in terms of winning this case is not to decriminalize street prostitution but rather to legalize brothels. With the knowledge that the most marginalized women tend to be the ones working in street prostitution and that these women would likely not be offered the ‘privilege’ of working inside any legal brothel, the argument that, somehow, this case is fighting for the rights of marginalized women is simply not true. It’s worth noting that the legalization of brothels in places like Amsterdam has been a complete disaster and has only worked to increase trafficking and organized crime.

For some reason, even some feminists have begun to participate in these wrongheaded portrayals.

Laurie Penny, whose progressive, feminist analysis is generally spot on, seems to have lost the plot when she wrote for the New Statesman that feminists who were critical of the sex industry were simply anti-sex, opposing prostitution and trafficking on moral grounds:

“This is because it’s the “sex” part of those activities that really causes knickers to be twisted in the icy corridors of bourgeois moral opprobrium.”

In reality, abolitionists make a case against prostitution based on a combined class, race and gender analysis, as well as, of course, on the basis of defending women’s human rights.  This has nothing to do with either ‘liking’ or ‘not liking’ sex. That feminists are buying into and perpetuating an anti-feminist stereotype invented by sexist men — that feminists either just need to get laid or that they hate all men/sex/fun — shows the strength of the backlash. Now we are fighting ourselves. We’re buying what the patriarchy is selling.

Penny writes: “In reality, sex work isn’t stigmatised because it is dangerous. Sex work is dangerous because it is stigmatised.” But she’s wrong. Sex work is dangerous because of those who commit violent acts against prostitutes — that is, men.

A key success of the feminist movement has been to name the perpetrator. Andrea Dworkin was one of the first to do this; to say that the problem is men. In doing this, she created a foundation for legal approaches to domestic abuse, for activism against cat-calling, sexual assualt and victim-blaming. We don’t pretend as though we don’t know who sexually harasses women or that it’s a mystery who is, in large part, raping women. We know better than to blame women for their own assaults – regardless of what they wear or how much they flirt or drink. Why are we so uncomfortable naming the real cause of violence when it comes to prostitution? Why are we blaming women?

The goal of feminism is to end patriarchy. The goal of socialism is to create an egalitarian alternative to capitalism. Prostitution is a product of patriarchy and capitalism. With that in mind, abolitionists have been advocating for a model based on true equity. Sometimes described as ‘the Swedish approach’ or ‘the Nordic model’, Sweden, Norway, and Finland have all adopted versions of this feminist approach to prostitution that decriminalizes prostitutes and criminalizes those who commit the violence: the pimps and johns. The model combines exiting services with an already strong welfare system and education programs for the police that teach them that prostituted women are not criminals. It isn’t simply a change in law, it’s a political vision that has gender and economic equality as a goal. As feminist lawyer Janine Benedet told me, it’s “a state commitment to offer something better and not to use prostitution as a social safety net.”

A Norwegian study looking at rates of violence against prostituted women under the Nordic model was recently released in English. It showed that, since 2008, reports of rape and other forms of physical violence against prostituted women has decreased.

The sad truth is that, if buying sex is legal, the police aren’t likely to start going after or charging johns who rape and abuse prostitutes on their own accord. We know this. We know the police have been ignoring violence against prostituted women, particularly those who are poor and racialized, for years. We know that the criminal justice system often blames the victim, particularly if they can argue: “Well, he paid for her.” The most feasible way to address this violence is to decriminalize prostituted women, criminalize johns, and educate the police to this regard. If pimps and johns are criminalized, sex workers will at least be able to go to the police if they are raped or assaulted and the police will be able act easily.

We know that it isn’t feminists who are perpetrating violence against sex workers. We also know that feminists don’t blame the victim, meaning that this is not a debate about the morals of women in the industry. Why are progressives obfuscating the perpetrator by blaming feminists and misrepresenting the abolitionist movement?

Feminists are not the enemy. Rather, it’s men who treat women as disposable objects who are to blame. It is both unproductive and dishonest to claim that feminists advocate to criminalize prostituted women, as one of the few things feminists and those who advocate to end violence against prostitutes can agree on is that decriminalizing prostituted women is key.

The women who I call my friends and allies are women who have worked in the sex industry; they are women who work tirelessly in shelters, as outreach workers, as lawyers, as academics, and as activists. The women I admire and have learned from — women who have shaped the movement — women like Robin Morgan, Gloria Steinem, and Andrea Dworkin — are being positioned as being on the other end of some kind of ‘war’ against women.

These women deserve more than inaccurate and meaningless labels like ‘anti-sex’ or ‘prohibitionist’. These feminists don’t hold prostituted women in judgment; they are women who want the abuse, the rapes, the beatings, and the murders to end. I believe those who call themselves ‘sex worker rights advocates’ or ‘sex worker allies’ want this as well. I have no interest in creating unnecessary or dishonest divisions.

This is a movement, not a war.

 

*UPDATE: 02/05/2013: Some readers have been suggesting I pitch a response piece (or simply send this piece) to Jacobin. To be clear, I did pitch a response to Jacobin before writing this piece, offering an alternative perspective on prostitution/progressive approaches to prostitution law, as well as a clarification on the feminist debates, abolitionist movement, and the Nordic model. I was told by the editor that they couldn’t publish a piece of that nature because Grant and Frase told him they ‘wouldn’t have time to respond’ to a ‘dissenting’ piece written by myself.

 

 

 

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

  • https://www.facebook.com/martindufresne martin dufresne

    Meghan, You write, correctly, “Why are progressives obfuscating the perpetrator by blaming feminists and misrepresenting the abolitionist movement?”
    And yet, you do so yourself by lumping “the feminist movement” in your critique when you write: “I’m disappointed that journalism, the left and the feminist movement has come to manipulating ideology in order to further a rather self-defeating cause, but here we are.”
    Uh, I am not there… The only basis for this depressing account in your otherwise well-documented and convincing essay is a reference to journalist Laurie Penny… where she herself attacks feminists.
    Your article asserts and demonstrates that the feminist movement – includig Aboriginal feminists – has chosen to support prostituted women against their exploiters and enemies. Your reference to Dworkin’s analysis is totally spot-on. Please don’t reverse that by what seems like a bizarre and contradictory generalization as soon as one or two otherwise feminist journalists spin their wheels by reverting to a traditional neoliberal line of argument, attacking feminists. I was also disappointed by Penny’s broadside against abolitionists, but I would never call her “the feminist movement”.
    In solidarity,

    • Meghan Murphy

      You are right that this position isn’t a feminist one in any logical sense, but, unfortunately, many who align themselves with feminism take this misguided position, particularly among young third wavers. You can look to any of the mainstream feminist sites (Jezebel, Feministing) to see this.

  • http://bonerkilling.blogspot.ca BK

    OMG there are so many things I want to say…
    First of all though, there’s a lot wrong with Grant’s huge assumptions in this statement [about feminists] “who have made saving women from themselves their pet issue and vocation, [who] are so fixated on the notion that almost no one would ever choose to sell sex that they miss the dull and daily choices that all working people face in the course of making a living.”

    BUUUUT…

    1) What happens in the sex industry and the sex industry in general (and how it permeates our lives on a daily basis) is not a mere “pet issue” or “vocation”
    2) No one is talking about “saving” women but rather, talking about the larger issues surrounding WHY the sex industry exists and THE DEMAND (i.e the MEN who CHOOSE to keep this “marketplace” afloat)
    3) No one is suggesting that feminists “are so fixated on the notion that almost no one would ever choose to sell sex that they miss the dull and daily choices that all working people face in the course of making a living.”
    This statement is filled with unfair assumptions that misrepresents and excludes. Grant is as making a clear assumption that all people seeking the eventual end of prostitution and the sex industry in general, are all merely bourgeoisie, middle-class white women who have a moral apprehension or sense of disgust towards sex workers and the working class in general.

    I smell bullshit.

    Grant wants to end the discussion with this statement…she wants to keep ignoring the voices of poor women, working class women, women of colour, First Nations women etc. Women who have spoken out against the sex industry and questioned THE DEMAND and the structural components that perpetuate the existence of the sex industry.

    This whole “lets yell at feminists instead of the men who are abusing, raping, & murdering sex workers and who are the ones maintaining the sex industry” is so utterly useless and completely unfair.

    • Meghan Murphy

      So many good points, BK!! No one in the feminist movement talks about ‘saving’ or ‘rescuing’ women. They talk about ending patriarchy and male violence against women. As you point out, this isn’t a ‘pet issue/vocation’, because clearly feminists see the sex industry as part of a larger context — this context is the foundation of the abolitionist movement (i.e. misogyny/patriarchy, racism/colonialism, classism/poverty). And yeah, we know full well some women make choices about entering the industry. People are making choices all the time, even if those choices are limited — so what? Does this change that the industry exists because of male power??? Of course not.

      • http://vivicaliqueur.wordpress.com vivicaliqueur

        First of all, stop calling it the ‘abolitionist’ movement. That is a very powerful word meant to actually describe freeing of slaves when all you and the feminist movement are supporting is keeping women enslaved to the law enforcement.

        The industry exists because of ‘male power’? Way to continue to dismiss woman’s power and her choice. By saying our choices are ‘limited’ it proves how completely unaware and biased you are against sex work. Sex work has been around since the beginning of time with Priests and Priestesses who have been a part of the Sacred Sexual teaching Tantra. The sex workers worked in Temples and were highly honored.

        Your fear of sex is what cheapens sex work, no the workers themselves. Your judgments have turned into hatred towards sex workers and you are hurting them. In Cambodia women are forced into ‘rehabilitation’ camps where they are raped, abused, have poor nutrition and health care. But you care so much about women are are helping right?? I will link the article again:

        http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/05/22/why-women%E2%80%99s-rights-movement-must-listen-to-sex-workers/

        YOU are the ones responsible for this.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Hi Vivica,

          The abolitionist movement is called the abolitionist for a reason. Can you guess what it is? Prostitution and trafficking are very closely related to racism, slavery and colonialism and seeks to liberate women and provide them with real choices in this world.

          To say that the industry exists because of male power does not take power and choices away from women, what takes power and choices away from women are a LACK of power and choices, systemic inequality, and the men who exploit and abuse them.

          Prostitution has not, in fact, been around since the beginning of time, unless you are erasing Aboriginal populations from history, in which case, please stop being ignorant and racist. Before contact, I’m told, prostitution was not a thing that existed. You should try speaking to your indigenous sisters — I bet you’d learn a lot.

          No one here is afraid of sex. We advocate for non-exploitative, non-coercive sexual experiences. No one here hates sex workers either. We want all women to be safe and free from violence and oppression. If there’s anyone we “hate,” it’s pimps and johns. Certainly not prostituted women. You’ve confused the word “critique” with the word “judgement.”

          Please blame the perpetrator. Your misguided anger and blame is irrational and unwelcome.

          P.S. I deleted your comment that said “feminism is responsible for the rape of women.” I’m sure you understand.

  • http://metamorphocity.com/ Sarah

    Thank you so much for writing this. You’ve managed to articulate a lot of my frustration around this issue, which I often have trouble explaining to people. Just because I am critical of the sex industry does not mean I am anti-sex.

  • riv

    I think this is backwards: (…) writers on the left either misunderstand or misrepresent the abolitionist approach as a moralistic one, leading them to draw unfounded conclusions based on what could easily be resolved by having a simple conversation.

    **They approached the topic with their unfounded conclusions and looked for what could be commandeered to fit that. In most cases as you know, they are being pimped themselves by whoever is paying them, cash or in kind.

    For those not sure who the real enemy is:

    Streaming: Not a Love Story.
    http://www.ctvnews.ca/w5-rescuing-the-girl-next-door-from-the-sex-trade-1.773424

    Rent: SPOILER ALERT
    The Whistleblower
    “A story so repellent it is almost beyond belief” NYTimes
    http://movies.nytimes.com/2011/08/05/movies/the-whistleblower-with-rachel-weisz-review.html?_r=0

  • Andrew

    Meghan, thank you for this thoughtful analysis and statement of conviction. I admit as a leftist thinking person, I am sometimes confused as to how feminism and liberal politics are not squarely in the same corner.

    Harm is harm and anything that can be done to reduce or eliminate harm needs to be prioritized over individual desire. It feels like “we” go in circles a lot on this one, but when you consistently re-orient the conversation on the aspect of who’s getting hurt and by whom, the goal and focus become clear.

    There continue to be pieces of this that I have to think about. Articles like yours keep me grounded.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks Andrew. And yes, you are exactly right that we need to continue to shift focus to “who’s getting hurt and by whom”.

  • http://rmott62.wordpress Rebecca Mott

    I think it is important to know that many so-called sex workers are sex trade profiteers, and therefore will want to keep the status quo of prostitution, for it is their business.
    The language and motives of supporting sex workers is not innocent, it is strong lobby of those who see the prostituted as sub-human and will attack anything that gives the prostituted, especially exited women, a strong and independent voices or voices.

    • Ger-I

      so right you are, Rebecca.

    • MLM

      ‘The language and motives of supporting sex workers is not innocent, it is strong lobby of those who see the prostituted as sub-human and will attack anything that gives the prostituted, especially exited women, a strong and independent voices or voices”.

      I seriously don’t know how people can try and frame such motives as “libertarian”, when they reflect a deliberate silencing of the voices speaking up for the most vulnerable people concerned in the whole conversation.

      And when did logic become so unfashionable? It should be mind-numbingly obvious that the best way to find out how to prevent harm in a given situation is to listen to what the people who have personally experienced the harm have to say about things, and what changes they suggest to improve things. And to give their testimony substantially more weight and credibility than whatever comes from those who stand to profit from the current situation, or those who have had a far more fortunate and privileged experience of the situation (which has not involved the same kind of harm).

      The fact that people support the arguments of sex trade profiteers over the testimonies of prostituted women, and still manage to see themselves as “progressive” and “socialist” etc., makes me feel like I must be living in Bizarro World.

  • Ger-I

    If you care to read my experience and what lead me to be an ant-prostitution/pornography supporter.http://gerilewis.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/pornography-the-ugly-truth/

  • http://alterwords.wordpress.com Elizabeth Pickett

    I note the “sex workers” and their male allies (pimps and johns) are on the attack on Twitter with respect to this article. From my point of view their argument comes down to this: “It’s my party and I’ll let men fuck me if I want to but I insist you endorse my choice and sacrifice the welfare of other women to protect my business.”

  • http://alterwords.wordpress.com Elizabeth Pickett

    Oh yes, and as a man, I like exploiting women who think they’re powerful but believe me I’m in charge. Just let one of them cross me.

  • Opone

    When Laurie Penny’s name comes up I first think of her belief that a friend of hers who gets paid to DRAW sexy pictures of naked women is a sex worker whose voice should be weighted equally with prostitutes. That’s become my favorite example of sex work as an intellectually bankrupt term though by no means is it the only one.

    • http://bonerkilling.blogspot.com/ BK

      LOL, her friend draw naked women and sells them and she calls that sex work? Oh fuck…whuuuuuttt???

    • jo

      Absurd, isn’t it. The sexpossers say that sex worker is the correct term for a prostituted woman, yet everyone from a pimp to an illustrator can be called a sex worker. This hides prostitution and it’s specific abuse and effects. A pimp can now speak out on “sex workers rights” because he (or she) can call himself a sex worker, and fool people who think the word is only for prostitutes.

  • Meagan Tyler

    Brilliant article Meghan. Thank you for, once again, providing such clear and critical analysis.

    I hope it is read widely.

  • http://www.twitter.com/terristrange Terri Strange

    You’re right Meghan. It all comes down to an absolute refusal to name the agent that is at work waging war against the prostituted class. That ain’t feminists, thats men. But you won’t hear that because the sex industry relies on coddling the egos of sick and twisted psychos that think women are consumable like any other product they can pick up. FUCK THAT NOISE!

  • Missfit

    Feminists make a point of correcting the language when the word ‘sex’ is used when what is being referred to is rape. Rape is not sex. In the same vein, prostitution is not sex. When I hear this ‘anti-sex’ rhetoric, sometimes from claimed feminists, I wonder: what is their definition of sex? A commercial product for men?

    Women sexually serving men in any way deemed fit by men is patriachy/sex industry’s definition of (hetero)sex. In this scenario, prostitution does equal sex (which becomes merely free prostitution). This is not a feminist definition of sex. Feminists should drop this definition, foster a definition of sex that is mutual and identify prostitution for what it is (not equalizing sex).

    As a feminist, I’ll stand beside my sisters at NWAC and ISAWI before the pimps. I will prioritize the right of women to be free from sexual exploitation before the ‘right’ of men to infinite access to women and girls’ bodies. And for those who want to point the exception of women who totally freely choose to prostitute themselves, I would simply refer them back to the two previous points.

    • jo

      Exactly Missfit, prostitution is not sex – if you are the woman. The man who buys the woman thinks it’s sex, it’s sexual for him and he only cares about himself.

      If you call feminists who protest the sexual exploitation of women anti-sex then you identify with the punters and the abusers.

      • Lela

        The “feminists are just anti-sex” argument is such a straw man. Are exited women “anti-sex” when they detail their experiences of rape and torture at the mercy of men and men’s market demands?

        We give full support to those who protest the commodification of our natural environment and the many creatures within it, and yet, feminists who oppose the commodification of female bodies, *our* human bodies, are treated as though we are delusional. Why?

  • http://www.charlieglickman.com Charlie

    It often seems to me that part of the difficulty around this piece of the puzzle is that there have been many, many examples of people trying to “rescue” women and forcing them into even worse situations such as Magdalene asylums, arrest & conviction, etc. Given that history, I think it’s easy to understand why so many people are skeptical about anyone’s intentions and distrust that current feminist proposals will be any different in their effects. I get that you’re saying that they’re different, but can you see why many sex workers/prostitutes might have difficulty trusting that?

    I’ve certainly heard some abolitionists (including Meghan) discuss how there should be more social support so that people aren’t forced into trading sex for survival. And I don’t know that I’ve seen any suggestions for what to do if, for example, the Nordic Model was adopted and suddenly there were fewer clients. I understand that some people advocate that the benefits of the Nordic Model are worth it in the longer term. Are there any concrete plans for how to get there from here without taking away the reason many people sell sex?

    When there are fewer clients but just as many people who need to survive, what effects does that competition have on their safety? What happens to the folks who can’t afford to stop and don’t have alternatives? How do you propose they survive (literally) if you get your way? How can you get that message out to them? How do you communicate with them so they see that you’re not taking away their livelihood without providing an alternative? And how do you know what alternatives they want?

    If these sorts of questions are being discussed outside of sex work advocacy groups, can you point me to some links? I’ve never run across that and I’d appreciate the pointer.

    • MLM

      Rachel Lloyd (who is an industry survivor runs an organisation called GEMS (Girls Education and Mentoring Service)
      http://www.gems-girls.org/about

      Sophie Hayes (also an industry survivor) has set up The Sophie Hayes Foundation in the UK
      http://www.sophiehayesfoundation.org/about-us/our-mission-values/

      Michelle Carmela (a child trafficking survivor) has an organisation called Once Upon an Eden
      http://www.onceuponaneden.org

      Sextrade 101 is an sex trade survivors and abolitionists organization (also founded by survivors. Noticing a theme here?)
      http://www.sextrade101.com

      The lack of an alternative needs to be addressed by fighting tooth an nail for social welfare reforms that provide a viable exit strategy. It should utterly unacceptable in a civilised society that anyone’s choices are limited to “have sex for money” or “starve and live under a bridge”. And, actually, as Nicole Rowe points out in this interview, sex worker advocacy groups are undermining efforts to make the human rights of these women a bigger priority, which would make viable exit strategies more of a priority.

      http://ruthjacobs.co.uk/2013/01/25/nicole-rowe-feminist-activist-co-founder-nordic-model-advocates-normas/

      The “In the Booth with Ruth” is a great series of interviews with a number of anti-trafficking advocates, many (if not most) are survivors themselves.

      This list is by no means exhaustive, but I’m sure Meghan and others can provide more.

    • Djedi

      Charlie, your concern for the income of sex workers would be less of a selfish interest for you if your entire salary weren’t dependent on the hypercommodification of women and the free activity that is human sex. If you cared about sex workers on the margins you would stop skimming your five-digit salary from their labor instead of trying to pin the Magdalene asylums on 19th century feminists and not the Catholic church.

      Your employer Good Vibrations sells the pornstituted products that made Larry Flint, Hugh Hefner, and many more millionaire pimpographers. If sex workers are impoverished and on the brink of financial disaster while taking all the health and psychological risks it’s because rich men like them and lowly minion men like you are all stealing from prostituted women and exploiting their labor to your non-impoverished benefit.

    • pisaquari

      Charlie, your first paragraph misses the precision in Meghan’s piece: the targeted and downright inflammatory words of “sex worker rights” feminist towards the abolitionist feminist position. (It’s not “so many people” being skeptical about “anyone’s intentions”—it’s a very specific, ideological group towards another). Abolitionist feminists have gone blue in the face restating our restatements(!) on decriminalizing women in prostitution (aka NOT arresting or convicting them), providing exit programs, job training, long-term mental and physical health services, etc (and all these efforts led by as many women-centered programs as possible). How many times do we have to say it? How many conferences do we have to hold/support, shelters/programs do we have to fund, websites do we have to develop, before harm reductionists will stop conflating our words with conservatives and religious groups?

      As well, your last statement implies that there is some moratorium on prostitutes distrusting abolitionist feminists. Given 1. how many exited women *are* abolitionist feminists and 2. that there is no running survey among prostitutes on which “kind of feminist” they most trust (keeping in mind that “sex workers” who write feminist columns on the net are NOT a representative sample), that you would even make this claim is ridiculous.

      (As an aside, I’m really really over this whole “rescue industry” phrase b/c the coinage of such a term is underpinned by a feminized-demonization of women’s empathy towards other women. That’s sexism.)

      As for the social mechanics of the Nordic Model and your questions, this Model *is* accompanied by exit programs (<google this to find out more) and enacted by governments which, largely, support social programs more widely (<not a coincidence). Complementary legislation around gendered poverty conditions, childcare, access to education and healthcare, income disparities, etc are absolutely important as well. But these other issues, while still polarizing, get A LOT more airtime than discussions around men’s sexual entitlement to female bodies and this legal approach (most lay people still think of full crim vs. full decrim). What’s more, abolitionist feminists are spending an inordinate amount of time clarifying misinformation and mischaracterizations around their motivations. Thus, if you or any other person wants to get more into the nit and grit of the Nordic Model, I might suggest you help lift our information burden: when you feel the urge to use misinformation-stop and/or inform yourself, when you read/hear misinformation-correct it, when abolitionist feminists link to studies-read them, and when we say for the umpteenth time, without a shred of evidence to the contrary, that we are not being funded by the Mormon Church-finally believe us.

      • Meghan Murphy

        I agree with everything you’ve said here, pisaquari (obviously). In particular, I mean, I wrote this piece out of frustration that arguments and activism were being misrepresented (whether intentionally or otherwise). This ‘rescue industry’ language does just that. I’m not a part of any ‘rescue industry’, I’m a feminist. Are the women who work in shelters and transition houses part of a ‘rescue industry’?? I mean, give me a break. The ‘history’ of religious groups trying to turn ‘bad’ women into ‘virtuous’ ones has nothing to do with feminism — that isn’t a feminist argument. So why keep bringing that up as though it’s in any way related to what we’re arguing or working towards?

    • @FeministPrncess

      Charlie, there are a great many jobs where the supply outweighs the demand and leaves some workers unemployed. This is how many industries operate (art, music, fashion, literature, sports, design etc.)

      The most important first step to take is making post-secondary education 100% free. It wasn’t too long ago that high schools were all private, and not long before that, elementary schools were private too. Post-secondary is now as crucial to survival as high school, so it should be available to all. I’ve heard too many johns bragging about how they put their “sugarbaby” (their word, not mine) through college, patting themselves on the back for their amazing ‘charity’ work. We need to ensure that no one ever feels the need to work in a position of sexual servitude to pay their tuition. We can pay for it by raising taxes on capital gains and heavily fining pimps and johns.

      We obviously also need much broader safety nets in general, so that people are guaranteed to not have to work in sexual servitude due to a lack of options.

      • MLM

        “The most important first step to take is making post-secondary education 100% free”.

        Absolutely! I could not agree more with this whole comment. Well said.

      • lizor

        “We can pay for it by raising taxes on capital gains and heavily fining pimps and johns.” Love this.

  • MM

    I almost think that what the progressive/sex-positive movement lumps under “sex work” should really be considered two different industries. Whenever you hear sex workers speak positively of their free choice to participate in the industry, they all fall under a specific type – the middle class, college-educated woman who seems to be content with their choice to work as a high-class escort, cam-girl, or dominatrix. The “sex work is real work” arguments all seem to centre around these women, not the women who simply don’t have a choice because of poverty, addiction or being the victims of trafficking. There’s definitely a complaint that anti-sex work feminists are trying to speak for all women. Well, I wish these sex workers would stop trying to speak for all sex workers, especially those who don’t have the same voice.

    • Anarcha

      I don’t expect this comment to be published, being that it is a dissenting voice and it seems that only the sex workers who agree with Meghan get their comments published, but it is completely untrue that the only sex workers who believe that sex work is real work are privileged, college educated workers in the higher end of the industry. I and many other sex workers who don’t fit that profile want our right to work respected and do not want our work made harder by the criminalization of our clients.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Have you actually read anything I’ve written on this site or the comments on those pieces? It’s a bold-faced lie to say that I don’t publish dissenting comments. I’ve also never said that “the only sex workers who believe that sex work is real work are privileged, college educated workers in the higher end of the industry.” If anything, your comment shouldn’t be published because you’re unwilling to engage with honesty or integrity and seem disinterested in productive conversation.

        • BobChaos23

          That’s because to you, “productive conversation” is the one where you get to define the terms and you expect people to only agree with you. You have all the facts (even though many of those “facts” are erroneus and have been debunked, often coming from radical feminists whose names you have never heard of) and HOW DARE those sex workers who disagree with you try to tell you about their experiences, because they are clearly WRONG.

          That’s why you blocked me on twitter. I asked you several pointed questions and you ignored them and strawmanned me completely. Oh well, at least you are “right”, huh?

          • Meghan Murphy

            I blocked you on Twitter because you are a moron who genuinely believed he was introducing me to Andrea Dworkin/explaining Dworkin/feminism to me.

            You’re a dude. Do you speak for sex workers? For feminism? For women?

          • NitroGirl

            Only MEN can comment on sex-work. I mean, it is a male-created industry. It’s like,a right or something. I like how it’s ok for men to talk about the subject of sex-work if it supports sex work, but any woman against it is seen as villainous. It’s funny how only men who have no experience in sex work get to “speak for” sexworkers in support ,but any woman against the prostitution/sex industry (not the women themselves) with (also) no experience better not say a word. Oddly enough you hardly ever see them defend any other Feminist issue so fervently if it doesn’t have anything to do with giving them bjs and boners. I long for the day men as a class can be so damn righteous and zealous towards equal pay.

          • Joan Thomas

            NitroGirl wrote:

            “Oddly enough you hardly ever see them [men] defend any other feminist issue so fervently if it doesn’t have anything to do with giving them bjs and boners.”

            Well at least that shows that men who defend the sex industry do so for hedonistic reasons and not because they’re “against” women. I for one applaud that.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Well, the ‘hedonistic reasons’ and being ‘against women’ are tied in, in this case. The ‘right’ to access women and the idea that women’s bodies exist in order to provide men with sexual pleasure isn’t a ‘pro-woman’ stance — it’s ‘pro-men’. Not seeing women as fully human, but rather as products to be bought and sold is a rather hateful position to take, if you ask me (never mind the fact that it’s men who perpetrate violence against prostituted women…).

          • BobChaos23

            Oh, and thank you for proving you are also a sexist with your “You’re a dude” crap.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Haaaaaaaaaaaa. But seriously. As much fun as this is, you’re trolling/spamming/derailing. Please read the comment policy and try again. If you can’t engage with the post/comments at hand, you’re out of luck.

          • MLM

            ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz

          • Grackle

            Waaah sexism against men is the worst and totally worth complaining about, just like racism against whites, boo hoo hoo

          • Anarcha

            You may be a woman but you don’t speak for sex workers any more than he does. If your opinion on sex work, as someone who has never been in the industry, is valid then why isn’t his?

          • Meghan Murphy

            Because he’s a moron? And also not a feminist? So why do we give a fuck?

          • guestie

            Once again, Meghan Murphy is the vanguard of what REAL feminism is.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Gosh, what an honour! But seriously, you realize feminist theory has been developed/developing over, like, decades, yes?

          • MLM

            Oh, sorry, I accidentally “liked” this comment because I initially read it as an enthusiastic compliment! Far more coffee needed, obviously.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Hahaha. I assumed it was sarcasm, but maybe I’m just too cynical.

          • MLM

            Because his opinions seem trite and he doesn’t even bother trying to back them up with anything substantial? And because he seems to have come here trying to bait as opposed to engaging in any sort of debate?

          • Joan Thomas

            But feminists who oppose pornography and the sex industry ARE Dworkinites. It was the publication of Dworkin’s book “Pornography – Men Possessing Women” in the late 1970s that springboarded the rise of the feminist anti-pornography movement. Before that, porn and the sex industry were not central issues in feminism.

            Andrea Dworkin and those who think like her hijacked the feminist movement. The “pigeonholing” of feminists into anti-porn feminists and anti-censorship feminists may be a bit simplistic, but it is accurate.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Dworkin ‘hijacked’ the feminist movement?? HA. Good one.

            Feminists are hijacking feminism, everyone!

          • Joan Thomas

            Whether you consider “Dworkinism” to be a legitimate word or not, surely you recognise that there are many different (and sometimes mutually hostile) factions within feminism? There are radical feminists, socialist feminists, liberal feminists, libertarian feminists, cultural feminists, post-modernist feminists etc.

            And there is at least one feminist organisation who’s view of porn and the sex industry is very different from yours, namely Feminists Against Censorship (FAC). What is your opinion of FAC?

          • Meghan Murphy

            Sure. But most feminists would not likely fit themselves into said categories, though these terms are useful in terms of talking about ideology.

            The problem is that you’re using terms that aren’t real terms: “But feminists who oppose pornography and the sex industry ARE Dworkinites.” — No, they’re feminists. Feminism is about ending patriarchy and the oppression of women. Pornography and the sex industry exist because of and perpetuate patriarchy and the oppression of women.

          • Joan Thomas

            And what is your opinion of Feminists Against Censorship?

          • Meghan Murphy

            Don’t know who they are. Not derailing into that conversation.

          • stephen m

            @Joan Thomas, You seem uncomfortable with feminism concerning itself with porn and prostitution. Which active 1970’s issues do you consider more important than the added focus on violence in pornography and prostitution and their effect on women? How were these other issues affected negatively by the apparent or imagined reduction of attention?

          • Joan Thomas

            In answer to stephen m.

            1960s/early 1970s feminism was closely linked to the sexual revolution. In the sexual arena, feminism back then emphasised freedom and exploration, pushing back boundaries etc. However, from the late 1970s onwards (and especially in the 1980s) the Dworkinite position on issues such as porn and prostitution prevailed in feminism to the point where any feminist who disagreed with it was branded a sell-out.

            I’m not saying feminism shouldn’t “concern” itself with porn and prostitution, but the Dworkinite position (and I call it that without apology) should not be the only one heard. There are other feminist positions, as articulated by organisations such as Feminists Against Censorship.

            Your phrase “violence IN pornography and prostitution” (my emphasis) hits the nail on the head. It is violence/coercion that is the issue, not porn and prostitution.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I think it’s kind of funny that you think accusing feminists of being ‘Dworkinites’ is meant to be some kind of insult. And you’re on the wrong blog if you think that porn and prostitution isn’t the/a key issue with regard to the feminist movement. The sex industry epitomizes gender inequity.

          • Joan Thomas

            I’m saying that Dworkinism is only one wing within feminism. Feminism is a broad movement with many different factions. Not all feminists agree with Andrea Dworkin, just as not all Christians are Roman Catholics.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “Dworkinism” isn’t any wing of anything. Stop making up words.

          • stephen m

            @Joan Thomas, I have problems making the leap that violence/coercion can be separated from porn and prostitution

            Everyone’s definition of porn is somewhat different. I would understand that your definition of porn includes both media sex and violent/coercive media sex. Whereas mine is just violent/coercive media sex. Do you think that violent/coercive media sex should be criminalized with enforcement? If you don’t, how else would you make violent/coercive media sex take a similar roll along with child porn.

            As for prostitution I take it that you feel that some how the violence/coercion inherent in prostitution can some how be mitigated by calling it legal and presto the violence/coercion will magically disappear?

            The the violence/coercion inherent in prostitution has been shown previously in the copious explanations here in FeministCurrent.com.

          • stephen m

            @Joan Thomas, I am afraid that my earlier comments were not well thought out to express my thoughts about your objection to Andrea Dworkin and others like her who helped make pornography an issue in the feminist movement.

            Quite simply without Dworkin and others, the feminist movement might not have been in a position to take part in the very important decision of what porn type materials would be criminalized.

            This was the Butler decision and it can be reviewed here:

            http://scc.lexum.org/decisia-scc-csc/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/844/index.do

            I think it was a good decision and was inclusive to all interested parties. You may disregard my earlier responses to your comment about Dwarkin they were off topic.

        • Anarcha

          Actually I was intending my comment to be a response to the commenter above me but did something wrong and ended up posting it as just a comment. The poster above me did say that the sex workers who advocate for sex worker rights are middle class, college educated etc. This is highly offensive to all the sex workers who come from marginalised backgrounds but who fight and advocate for our work to be respected. Take a look at the sex worker freedom festival that was held last year or at groups such as Empower Thailand or APNSW to see grass roots activism in play.

          But yes, call a sex worker (you know, I have experience here, I haven’t just read a bunch of stuff and spoken to some people and decided I don’t like the sex industry and am going to write about it) who disagrees with you dishonest rather than engage. This is what we mean when we talk about a war on sex workers, prohibitionist feminists are openly hostile towards sex workers who they don’t agree with.

          • MLM

            And did you not enter this conversation with an amount of hostility yourself?

            “I don’t expect this comment to be published, being that it is a dissenting voice and it seems that only the sex workers who agree with Meghan get their comments published”.

          • Anarcha

            Yes I did, reading an article that is hostile to sex workers and sex worker advocates has that affect on me. My livelihood and safety is impacted by opinions like this. For sex workers it is not merely a difference of opinion but an attack but we are still meant to act like it is not personal.

          • Meghan Murphy

            In what way is this article ‘hostile’ to sex workers?? How is this ‘an attack’??

          • Me

            So there is no common ground whatsoever?

          • kaz chang

            @ Anarcha. I totally agree with you. I’ve been reading these comments to find a dissenting voice, and thank heavens you are one. As a writer studying this issue, I have been amazed and shocked by how paternalistic some feminists are toward sex workers. Paternalistic, controlling, judgmental, moralistic–wow, sounds like the patriarchy! except they are also . . . man-hating, as exemplified by some of the unprofessional comments here, including comments by the writer of the article. Sex work is here to stay. So let us respect the women and the men and the transgendered people who do that work. If they are street workers–obviously more vulnerable than people who work at the higher end of the industry–let us advocate for better protection and decriminalization, so they can be supported by us and each other in public streets instead of being driven into back alleys and the most dangerous areas of our cities. Contrary to much of what I’ve read here, most middle class clients of sex-workers are respectful and decent; sex worker after sex worker has told me this. Higher-end sex workers are in business for themselves, and it’s a good business. Just face that. Why is that a bad thing? There are no pimps, no gangs controlling those women. They control themselves, and they make their choices. Stop telling women how to live, how to be, and what’s BAD for them. Ugh. I am a feminist, but this thread just makes me shake my head.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I dare you to find one example of a “Paternalistic, controlling, judgmental, moralistic, man-hating” comment, kaz chang. Just one.

          • MLM

            “As a writer studying this issue…” It doesn’t sound like your “studies” have been very comprehensive, or even genuinely involved any attempt to examine the opposing view, if “sex work is here to stay”, stop “moralising” is the lazy conclusion you have drawn on the subject.

            Also, for a writer, your comprehension skills seem to be pretty poor. None of the commenters here has been telling anyone “how to live”, but condemning an exploitative institution that causes a world of harm for many others other than the fortunate middle class sex workers who are clearly the only kind you’re interested in listening to. The whole point is that the situation is bigger than individuals making individual choices. It is a system causing social harm, usually to members of the most vulnerable groups in society anyway.

            Good writers are informed, not just opinionated. If you bothered to do some actual research beyond what supports your own comfortable preconceived assumptions you would, at the very least, be far less confident about your claims here.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Oh ok. So apparently Laura Agustin’s friends on Facebook are saying I’m not posting certain comments. JUST SO YOU’RE ALL AWARE (folks who can only manage to drum up support by lying), I have, as of this moment, posted every single comment left on this article.

        • BobChaos23

          You deleted several of my comments…why are you lying?

          • Meghan Murphy

            Stop wasting my time with spammy, derailing, comments and I’ll stop deleting them. I gave you fair warning AFTER I posted the above comment, before deleting your troll shit. For the record, you’re the only lucky one whose comments have been deleted. Feel special? It’s not in your right to monopolize the comment section with your reverse sexism, waste of space, male privilege, moronic crap. There’s a comment policy — stick to it and your comments will be published. I’ve given you tons of warnings and tons of chances. More than you deserve.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Oh gosh Bob. Really? Big sadfaces.
            https://www.facebook.com/lauramariaagustin/posts/336565943119329?comment_id=1661199&offset=0&total_comments=25

            5 hours ago · Edited · Like
            Bob Kyuss She has deleted some of my comments, yet claimed not to have. Just sayin.
            3 hours ago · Like

      • MM

        Anarcha, you’re drawing off of my statements, not those of the author. We do have the same initials.

        Maybe my point was exaggerated with the college-educated, middle-class statement, but my point was is that sex workers who choose to take part in the industry and could have easily chosen another career path, are essentially working in a different world from women who don’t have other options. You can’t focus endlessly on women’s choices to participate in sex work when not all the workers had a choice.

        • MLM

          “A study of 475 people in prostitution from five countries indicated the common features experienced by individuals: 73% reported that they had been physically
          assaulted, 62% had been raped and 92% stated that they would leave prostitution immediately if they were able to”.

          The world average age for entry into prostitution is 13 years old, with as many as 75% of those in Britain entering before their 18th birthday”.

          http://www.care.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Tackling-demand1.pdf

          Even the most conservative estimates seem to indicate that over half of sex workers don’t actually want to be sex workers, or wouldn’t be if they had better choices. You’re not speaking for them either.

        • MLM

          Sorry, MM. I meant to direct that to Anarcha. I’m agreement with you that “You can’t focus endlessly on women’s choices to participate in sex work when not all the workers had a choice”.

          • Anarcha

            And I have not focused on women’s (or anyone’s) choice to do sex work. I don’t know about you but most people I know work in the jobs they can get not the ones they chose but I don’t see people running around trying to ‘save’ them by abolishing or criminalising their livelihoods. Sex worker rights will be won not by abolitionist feminists but by workers organising.

          • MLM

            “I don’t know about you but most people I know work in the jobs they can get not the ones they chose”

            Sure, but there’s a vast difference between not working in a job you choose and finding your job to be a source of physical and emotional trauma and feeling that you have no genuine alternative.

            “I don’t see people running around trying to ‘save’ them by abolishing or criminalising their livelihoods”.

            As it has been pointed out before legalisation has not worked to keep women safer and in many cases has only served to legitimise abuse in all the countries where it has been implemented.

            “Sex worker rights will be won not by abolitionist feminists but by workers organising”.

            But not the rights of those who want a way to exit, because sex worker advocacy groups seem to deprioritise their multifaceted needs. It needs to be recognised that some sex workers have a far easier time making themselves heard than others. And, also, a lot of the “abolition feminists” you refer to are actually sex industry/trafficking survivors themselves so it is pretty offensive for you to be implying that their concerns are just academic.

          • MM

            Anarcha, this is the big problem I find with the pro-prostitution arguments. Yes, a lot of people work jobs they don’t want, but sex work is on a different level. I’ve worked some shitty jobs in my life, but I’d consider every single one of them preferable to being a prostitute. Unwanted sex has the potential to feel far more violating and degrading than serving french fries or cleaning toilets, and prostitutes are prone to a massively higher degree of violence and sexual assault. I’m sure some sex workers simply prefer to be giving blowjobs than working at Burger King, but a lot of them simply have no choice because they are trafficked into the country illegally, or they have drug issues, or they are mentally ill, or they are simply very poor (an issue which affects women more than men in a patriarchal society). It is those women I am concerned about.

          • AmberB

            I’m joining this discussion so late!

            I am part of the aforementioned class of sex workers who is college-educated and originally from the middle class. I chose this and enjoy it, and quit the parts I didn’t like as soon as I found myself dreading them… the same way I quit my retail job at Toys R Us (irony, I know) when I realized it was doing nothing for me. I consider myself an educated and empowered feminist woman.

            I find myself quite torn on this issue. On one hand, I so hear Anarcha. I chose this path as the most efficient career choice at the time. It’s not my full-time gig (did it while finishing a terminal degree in my field, and now continue it here and there on the side…. for *FUN*). When people tell me that I’m objectifying myself, or doing something harmful towards feminism, when I feel fully informed and conscious of my choices, I am hurt. I do my best to articulate my thoughts/feelings, but they often fall on deaf ears. There are many like me. The ones who love sex and who enjoy having sex with each and every client, who find something sexy about every single scenario. The ones who are in charge of the situation- who have the ability to brag about the fact that though the men feel they are in power, in reality by the end of the night we’ve got their entire wallets emptied and them on the phone requesting a higher ATM limit. If you want to take it this far (and don’t), *we* objectify *clients* by seeing them as nothing but $$ while they think we legitimately care for them. And please notice I said “clients”, not “men”… many of my clients were women and couples (though statistically, yes, most were men).

            The idea that someone would want to take away that empowered career choice is threatening.

            And then there are those who are not like us. The drug addicts, the women who I see make $2000 but then the same night complain they don’t have any money for their four-year-old’s birthday present because all the money went up their noses. The women who tell me they hate it and that they wish they could stop, but that they don’t have any other skills or that nothing else will ever pay this much so they might as well do it while they have the bodies to.

            So yes, i do think there is a dividing line between the two “classes” of adult industry workers. But for people to say “it’s not sex” for ALL of us because it must be forced and undesired is hurtful. It undermines our career choices (yes, choices).

            I don’t know what the solution is in order to create a scenario where situation #2 wouldn’t happen. I do resent the fact that I can’t make nearly as much money with my 3 college degrees (or teaching certificate) as I can with my clothes lying on the floor or playing a professional sport. Our society’s values tend to be athletics/entertainment/sex above education.

            Like I said, I’m torn on the issue- but for those of you looking down on us in the sex industry and commenting on “them”… many of us are just like you. We’re not all the same. Please think before you comment, about what you’d like to read about yourself.

          • MLM

            It’s not so much looking down on you as real frustration that discussion of the experiences of people like you are allowed to erase the voices and experiences of those in vastly different situations and with far more limited choice, for a variety and/or combination of reasons.

            There may be many like you, but there are many, many more who are not in the same fairly fortunate situation. And, also given the abusive and destructive nature of their situations, and the urgent need for change, this can’t be characterised as an equally weighted set of concerns.

            As well as this, the normalisation of (and even the term) “sex work” has served to further disempower those most at risk, and further empower those who exploit them (as this article outlines)

            http://secretlifeofamanhattancallgirl.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/pimps-will-be-pimps-whether-male-or-female-or-posing-as-sex-worker-activists-other-conflicts-of-interest/

            And, I’m genuinely sorry if you find it hurtful, but even if we take it for granted that this is an empowering choice for you individually, it’s not one that empowers anyone else or women generally. As, on some level, you seem to realise
            “I do resent the fact that I can’t make nearly as much money with my 3 college degrees (or teaching certificate) as I can with my clothes lying on the floor …”

            How does buying into (pardon the pun) and promoting the idea that women’s bodies are a commodity, and a monetary value can be placed on our sexuality as a product, not undermine the idea that we are equal fellow human beings requiring basic human respect?

            It’s not about making perfect feminist choices. I doubt anybody here would lay claim to that. But if we don’t call out situations that foster harm, how do they ever change?

            You say “I don’t know what the solution is in order to create a scenario where situation #2 wouldn’t happen”. The truth is, the only effective way to bring an end to situations like #2, will be trying to bring an eventual end to such situations in general (i.e. #1 & #2).

            Which is why people who focus their concerns on ending scenarios like #2 are unlikely to be popular with people like you. (And are often labelled as “whorephobic” – yes, apparently that’s a word now, better notify the Oxford Dictionary – anti-sex prudes with a a saviour complex. So, honestly, it isn’t just you being looked down upon).

            What feminists are really trying to point out is that the situation is a lot bigger than anyone’s individual choices, and that yours exist in a much larger context even if they have been positive and empowering for you personally.

          • amberb

            A good portion of feminism is also about creating choice. I, as a woman, as a human, as a member of society, should have the right to choose this profession if I so desire, and I should also have the option to choose NOT to be in this profession. If you take away my right to choose in order to solve the problem of those who are being forced, how is that “the only effective way”?

            Anyone who claims that a solution is “the only one” is naturally disregarded. How about legalising, organising, and UNIONISING? Much like the strip clubs that created unions in the US in the 90s, such organisations could empower women in the sex industry who aren’t already aware of their power and show them that they do have real authority and choice. This would help women in poverty learn what it’s like to have a voice and make changes to the industry. It would help set up classes and childcare for women who wanted them. It would show women healthy and unhealthy behaviors and attitudes. It would give them access to another life and other job skills they could develop- a reintegration into the “normal” workforce.

            Just one idea of many out there! I don’t think there is ever “one solution” for a problem.

            Furthermore, though you pulled my quote out about “I can make more with my clothes on the floor than I could using my teaching certificate”, you’re missing the bigger context (and the rest of the sentence). I also go on to mention professional athletes, who make millions of dollars per game in some cases. Teachers in many countries make a pittance compared to almost every other profession. The larger issue I’m referencing is that society’s financial priorities are skewed: sex and entertainment are valued many times more highly than education or philanthropy. This is not a feminist/objectification issue necessarily, but one of priorities.

            Getting rid of the sex industry will not solve that problem.

            Regarding the claim that my personal choices may empower me but don’t empower anyone else, I completely disagree. Every person who is able to make his/her own choices and celebrate them is a contribution to the world. People who are satisfied in their careers are nicer to others, better parents, and more philanthropic in general. If I am able to make the equivalent of a full salary in only a few days, I can spend those other days volunteering, creating, starting a non-profit to educate those women who feel trapped by the adult industry, hell, even running for office to make policy changes! For you to say my choices (or any one person’s choices) don’t empower others is frankly ignorant. I would rather be satisfied in my career choice and able to actually make a difference than miserable like most of my friends who have chosen corporate suburban lives and have no time or energy left after their soul-sucking jobs.

            Really, who can make more of a difference? People like me, who are already in the industry and can support my coworkers to make more positive decisions, or people who come in with outside opinion but little inside knowledge?

            The overarching theme I have seen with women who are indeed disempowered in the job is actually substance abuse. If the whole thing were regulated properly, substance abuse would drop and people could make more clear and powerful decisions. Let’s stop focusing on who’s abusing whom, and focus on the actual issues people face on a daily basis. Everyone should have a choice. Even me.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “A good portion of feminism is also about creating choice.” That’s not true. The feminist movement is about ending patriarchy and violence against women. Prostitution exists because of gender inequality. Naturally, part of ending male dominance and patriarchy would mean an end to the oppressive practice of prostitution.

          • amberb

            Really, that’s your entire response?

            “Ending violence against women” would naturally mean ending violence against everyone. “Ending patriarchy” would naturally mean women having as many choices as do men- choices to do what we like with our bodies, our finances, and our careers, while making the same pay based on skill rather than gender. Male sex workers, in my experience, make far less than do women.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Hmm no… Feminism isn’t *just* about making choices. It’s about creating an equitable world free of male dominance. You can make all sorts of anti-feminist choices which may or may not oppress other people — making choices, in and of itself, does not equate to feminism.

          • amberb

            Agreed-which is exactly why I never said “just” :)
            I never even implied that feminism is “just” about any one thing. I specifically said that a *portion* of it involves creating choices for women.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Sure. But I think you’re missing the point of the movement by making it about ‘choice.’

          • liz

            W
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            w.

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            e
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            !!

          • Meghan Murphy

            Hahahaha. I may have to make these comment threads cut off a little sooner or something :)

          • amberb

            @Megan

            Yes, I understood exactly what the speaker’s point was- I’m simply using her addressing this group as proof that we exist and are of concern enough to be considered even by her. I did hear the part about those groups not actually being comprised of sex workers, but she also mentioned current and ex-sex workers who are outspoken with similar opinions to mine.

            Please tell me you don’t also think the field of sex work is limited to prostitution?Sex work, of course includes the porn industry, dominatrices and other fetish providers, strippers, erotic massage providers, and a host of other sex-related professions. You ask what I’m talking about- I’m talking about SEX WORKERS. I thought I’d made that clear? Why even use the word “sex workers” if a) you agree with the speaker from the podcast that it’s not “work”, and b) you mean prostitution> Say prostitution if you mean prostitution. Either way, once again I’m having to point out the fact that this issue is bigger than the myopic focus people love to take.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “Please tell me you don’t also think the field of sex work is limited to prostitution?Sex work, of course includes the porn industry, dominatrices and other fetish providers, strippers, erotic massage providers, and a host of other sex-related professions. You ask what I’m talking about- I’m talking about SEX WORKERS.”

            Can you stop? This is irrelevant to the conversation we are having. Define ‘sex work’ however you like. I rarely use that term, anyway. I used the term in the title of the piece because I was directly responding to an argument about a “war against sex workers.” We’re talking about prostitution. Pretty sure that’s clear.

          • http://www.freesoil.org Aletha

            AmberB, if these encounters are so empowering and so much fun, why take money for them? Would you have these encounters if you were not getting paid? Why not? What is empowering, fun, or sexy about objectifying a client? Do you see that as a feminist response to the objectification of women?

          • amberb

            @Aletha- I find it quite interesting that you ask a question and then assume you know the answer (“why not?”). Do you love your job? If so, do you do it for free? Wouldn’t it be more empowering and liberating to not be paid for what you do? My mother is an accountant and loves every day she gets to wake up and use her calculator. Yet she accepts a salary. How dare she! Doesn’t that automatically indicate she’s not really as in love with accounting as she claims to be?

            And, as a matter of fact and despite your erroneous and demeaning follow-up query, I do engage in the activities I charge for at no cost for my own personal enjoyment at times. I selectively only choose clients with whom I would normally participate in these activities with for free, and those clients with whom I would spend time as a friend. And I still get paid, because the people want to express their appreciation of me.

            Most people in the world have parts of their jobs they dislike or even hate. Some people hate their jobs their entire careers, yet feel trapped- particularly in the corporate sector. They don’t get to choose their clients, their job descriptions, or their days off. Yet people like me do.

            People like you, who assume you know anything about what it’s like to be a sex worker and what my views on life are, are exactly to whom I directed my earlier statement about being careful regarding what you say.

            We are people, too. With our own values and our own choices. Not just some cause you jump on the bandwagon and clamor and gnash your teeth about. Learn some respect.

          • http://www.freesoil.org Aletha

            Your reasoning might make sense, if you were at all representative of prostituted women. I do not love my job, would never do it for nothing, and somehow I doubt many women in your line of “work” would either. Why do you have so much disrespect for the thoughts and feelings of those who allow men to use them because of desperation and lack of opportunity? Really, what proportion of prostituted women get to choose their clients, or have any control over what the johns who choose them may do to them to gratify their vicious fantasies? As I am sure you are aware, people like you are not the only ones writing about their experiences of prostitution. There may be a few “happy hookers,” but the story you are peddling that most prostituted women are happy with that “choice” is a myth that only serves men and male power over women.

          • amberb

            @Aletha, several big picture points you miss (and misquote).

            1) I have never, ever claimed I am representative of all people in sex work. I specifically state that I am part of *one type* of sex worker and I specifically mention the other type you reference. The point I am making is simply that this issue is more complex than weekend warriors like you believe- that there is indeed a section of us, however large or small, who are choosing this career in an empowered way. As I have pointed out as well, that means that luckily, feminists and advocates have an “inside advantage” into solving the problems inherent in the system here. We are likely some of the only sources that the unfortunately oppressed section of the sex industry will listen to- others like them.

            2) Sex work is not only prostitution. You should really bone up on your dictionary usage before you post, no pun intended. Your ignorance is showing.

            3) You’re making some brash assumptions about the industry that are totally unfounded. Where is your research to show that the women like me are such a small fraction of the total? Even the podcast posted on the front page of feminist current includes a section regarding people like me who are outspoken- the speaker feels we are harmful to the abolitionist movement (which naturally we are, since we don’t believe that is the best/only solution, and because of course it would remove our high-paying jobs). To be significantly mentioned in a short 30 minute talk indicates clearly that there is a sect of empowered women in this industry large enough to make a difference. Your rude comments aren’t making much of a difference, are they?

            4) For you to say I have disrespected and disregarded the feelings and experiences regarding those who suffer in my industry is not only unfounded and the opposite of my original posting, it’s also rude. I delineated the experiences of some women in the industry in addition to my own (remember, groups 1 and 2?) and fully admitted that I don’t know what the solution is. However, you have no idea what kind of advocacy I have been personally doing, so for you to make that assumption (seems to be a pattern with you) is spiteful. You have no idea how many women have slept on my couch when they finally leave the abusive people they’ve been with. You have no idea how many women I’ve brought to leadership classes and other self-improvement classes so that they can realize they can choose other careers if they want to (or stay, if they want to). I’ve given clothing away, watched babies and children, bought bus tickets and hurriedly packed suitcases, and arranged temporary housing in other cities for women to get out quickly to. What have you done, other than posting on this forum? And I’ve also had coffee and started websites with and gone shopping with and rented living space with others like me. I’ve seen both. It’s impossible to deny that there are two classes of sex workers (if not more), just like there are classes in society. Am I ok with the way people in the other class are being treated? Of course not. I’m simply saying that *we* exist too. And we deserve a voice (even in places like this) and choices as much as those other women do. Arguing anything else is ridiculous and removes that whole goal of “equality” so loudly touted.

            I’m so sorry that your disappointment with your choices in life and your disdain for your career have caused you to react like this to a simple reminder that issues are more complicated than they seem. Perhaps you are not empowered in your own career choices, but I promise you, you can change that. I’ve seen it happen.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “2) Sex work is not only prostitution. You should really bone up on your dictionary usage before you post, no pun intended. Your ignorance is showing.”

            But we are talking about prostitution here. What are you talking about?

            “3) You’re making some brash assumptions about the industry that are totally unfounded. Where is your research to show that the women like me are such a small fraction of the total? Even the podcast posted on the front page of feminist current includes a section regarding people like me who are outspoken- the speaker feels we are harmful to the abolitionist movement (which naturally we are, since we don’t believe that is the best/only solution, and because of course it would remove our high-paying jobs). To be significantly mentioned in a short 30 minute talk indicates clearly that there is a sect of empowered women in this industry large enough to make a difference. Your rude comments aren’t making much of a difference, are they?”

            The reason Janice Raymond expressed concern about these ‘outspoken’ voices was not because they were high in numbers, but because they were misrepresentative shills being used to put forth pro-prostitution propaganda while erasing the realities of the industry/other women’s lives.

            This isn’t to say that the, as you say, ’empowered sex worker’ doesn’t exist, but it is to say that organization who have claimed to represent ‘sex workers’ or ‘sex worker unions’ have turned out not to be run by sex workers and to be solely propaganda machines, advocating on behalf of the sex industry.

          • amberb

            @Megan, the thing is, I made the point to someone else (althea), then you ignored the major points of my reply in order to focus on one single sentence regarding “sex worker” as a larger context. So if you’re bringing up semantics, yes, we do need to define these terms, whether you use them often or not.

            While I have been accused several times now of ignoring the plight of many of my less fortunate coworkers, your exclusive use of the term “sex workers” to mean prostitution ignores the plight of many more. I know dozens of women in porn who have been misled into it and are being kept in it unwillingly. They are also in poverty and also being abused physically- just like the class of prostitutes you’re exclusively focusing on. I know strippers in the same situation.* Yet we should just forget about those humans suffering, because they don’t fit into your (and your readers’) narrow definition of sex worker? How can you say you want to address the issues inherent in this system, when you ignore that the systemic problems extend well beyond *just* prostitution?

            Once again, the issue is more complex than you are able to understand or admit.

            *for those who inevitably bring this up, yes, I do also know a good portion of women in these industries who are self-expressed, happy, and self-actualized regarding their career choices as well. Again, multiple classes/types in these industries.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “While I have been accused several times now of ignoring the plight of many of my less fortunate coworkers, your exclusive use of the term “sex workers” to mean prostitution ignores the plight of many more. I know dozens of women in porn who have been misled into it and are being kept in it unwillingly. They are also in poverty and also being abused physically- just like the class of prostitutes you’re exclusively focusing on. I know strippers in the same situation.* Yet we should just forget about those humans suffering, because they don’t fit into your (and your readers’) narrow definition of sex worker? How can you say you want to address the issues inherent in this system, when you ignore that the systemic problems extend well beyond *just* prostitution?”

            Oh ffs, stop. You are either being intentionally obtuse or you are trolling. It’s very clear from my work that I link strip clubs, porn, prostitution and understand that this things are not separate. Stop pretending as though I am making arguments I am not or I’ll stop approving your comments.

  • J

    “I’ve become increasingly frustrated by what feels like a barrage of articles coming from self-described progressives claiming that feminists are the real enemy of sex workers. ”

    What you mean is, sex workers have legitimate complaints about the way feminists treat them that none of ya’ll want to listen to.

    • Meghan Murphy

      No. Did you read the article? None of the authors I reference are current sex workers.

      • BobChaos23

        Because you have no interest in hearing from current sex workers…only ex-sex workers who support your a-priori biases.

  • Hecuba

    Charlie raised the question of what would happen if the Nordic model were to be adopted. In fact Sweden’s legislation criminalising males who attempt to purchase women/girls for the purpose of using them as males’ disposable sexual service stations does not merely criminalise the male buyers. Sweden has enacted social policies wherein women and girls who wish to exit prostitution are accorded professional help and support to enable them to recover from systemic male sexual violence inflicted on them by the male buyers. These policies include providing professional help and support to the exited women/girls; supporting them as they seek work to lift them out of poverty which is the main reason why so many women and girls become involved in prostitution.

    The Magdalene Laundries however was created by the Roman Catholic church who took/takes the view that women involved in prostitution are immoral and must be punished by imprisoning them in Convents and forcing these women to undertake unpaid work. Patriarchal/male supremacist systems continue to hold women involved in prostitution as criminals and that is why male supremacist legal systems criminalise women in prostitution but does not criminalise the male buyers, the male pimps and male brothel owners.

    Real feminists however, do not accept that women in prostitution are the criminals – rather they rightly view men who attempt/and or do purchase women/girls to be used as ‘disposable dehumanised sexualised commodities’ as the real criminals. Men created prostitution and it is men who are the ones driving demand for limitless supplies of women and girls. However, male supremacist systems do not want to spend ‘mens’ money (sic) on providing services to women and girls who wish to exit prostitution because if male supremacist systems were to spend this money, this would mean males would not be able to routinely purchase women and girls to use as males’ disposable sexual service stations. Another reason why male supremacist governments do not want to spend money on providing holistic services to women who wish to exit prostitution, is because prostitution is very profitable and governments benefit from prostitution. Corporate bodies such as hotel chains; airlines; media all benefit from prostitution because it is now an industry but one wherein it is women and girls who are the disposable products not men.

    Sweden rightly believes that prostitution is male sexual violence against women and it also rightly recognises that criminalising women in prostitution ensures the male buyers’ pseudo male sex right to female bodies remains sacrosanct. So the issue is about womens’ right not to be bought and sold by men because these men claim they must have regular sexual access to female bodies otherwise they will spontaneously combust!

    Is it not strange that men en mass are not rushing to enter prostitution as prostituted males given it is just ‘work!’ Why is that? Is it because men know that prostitution is not work but enactment of mens’ pseudo sex right to female bodies. Men do not want to experience what women are subjected to by the male buyers.

    Those female writers are not feminist, because they are promoting prostitution as ‘work’ and are the vocal voices of the male controlled and male dominated prostitution/pornography industry. One cannot claim to be a feminist and at the same time condone/promote pseudo male sex right to womens’ and girls’ bodies. Male Supremacist System has always employed the clever strategy of massing an array of women who support Male Supremacist System because this conveniently hides which sex are the ones with the real socio-economic power. In other words these female pro-pornstitution writers are ‘the vocal puppets’ of the male created Prostitution Industry.

    European Womens’ Lobby constantly denounce prostitution as male sexual violence against women and demand real alternatives and support programmes be implemented by government bodies in order to provide women and girls to survive without having to enter prostitution. http://www.womenlobby.org/spip.php?article4349&lang=en

    Also read this lengthy paper by Melissa Farley because she describes how and why male dominated governments profit by prostitution and how the male created Prostitution Industry spews out endless propaganda claiming ‘prostitution is sex work (which if it is why then aren’t men outnumbering women as ‘sex workers, because if ‘sex work’ is so important men would by now have marginalised women because work which is valued has always been declared to be ‘male only.’

    http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/pdfs/FarleyYaleLaw2006.pdf

    • Meghan Murphy

      As Hecuba (and as I point out in the piece) points out, the Nordic model is not simply about criminalizing buyers, but is also about offering other options. I’m concerned that the ‘there is no other option’ line will be used indefinitely in order to defend the prostitution of women. I mean, women who are trafficked have ‘no other option’, right? It’s not as though, suddenly, the Nordic model will make prostitution disappear. It’s a gradual move to a more equitable world that allows women to report violence, abuse, and rape and ensures that the police will act on those reports. We have to start somewhere. I mean, you could make that very same argument (and that argument has been made) about other slave labour and exploitative industries. I mean, those people all need ‘jobs’, too, right? I mean, what do we do about other industries that exploit and destroy people’s lives in order to make owners wealthier? Do we defend them on account of the fact that these people need jobs? No. We say people need other, better, options. Are we just giving up on humanity? Is that the goal here?

      • MLM

        It is would also be far easier to find political will and support (and urgency) in creating jobs for them if it wasn’t being undermined by the idea that they have “chosen” prostitution as a “job”. And that we should merely concentrate on improving the “on the job” conditions.

        The normalisation and legitimising of prostitution “as a job” is a actually huge disservice to the “workers” and effectively legitimises their abuse, as mentioned in this article.

        “Why even Amsterdam doesn’t want legal brothels –
        The Dutch experiment in legalised prostitution has been a disaster”
        Julie Bindel writes for “The Spectator” 2 February 2013

        “Twelve years on, and we can now see the results of this experiment. Rather than afford better protection for the women, it has simply increased the market… Rather than be given rights in the ‘workplace’, the prostitutes have found the pimps are as brutal as ever. The government-funded union set up to protect them has been shunned by the vast majority of prostitutes, who remain too scared to complain.

        …Abuse suffered by the women is now called an ‘occupational hazard’, like a stone dropped on a builder’s toe. Sex tourism has grown faster in Amsterdam than the regular type of tourism: as the city became the brothel of Europe, women have been imported by traffickers from Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia to meet the demand. In other words, the pimps remained but became legit — violence was still prevalent but part of the job, and trafficking increased. Support for the women to leave prostitution became almost nonexistent”.

        http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/8835071/flesh-for-sale/

        People can not expect to have any credibility on this subject if on one hand they’re saying “where are the services for those who want to exit?” and on other they are aligning with groups who actually serve as an impediment to setting up such services.

      • BobChaos23

        Some factories are sweatshops, so all factories must be closed, even the ones who treat their workers well. That is the abolitionist position in a nutshell.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Just a friendly warning — if you start spamming the comment section, your comments will be deleted.
          xo
          mm

          • stephen m

            Megan, please just block his posts. As far as I can see they add nothing to the dialog.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Done and done. Sorry it took me so long — I do try to give people chances.

        • http://lolliguncula.wordpress.com lolliguncula

          Factories exist within capitalism. As long as they exist within capitalism sweatshops or other exploitative industries will flourish, “good” factories notwithstanding.

          Prostitution exists within patriarchy. As long as it exists within patriarchy, women will continue to be prostituted against their will or must choose to prostitute themselves out of a lack of resources, “happy hookers” notwithstanding.

      • BobChaos23

        Because some factories are sweatshops, ALL factories must be closed, even those who treat their workers fairly. That is the abolitionist position in a nutshell.

        Odd that no one talks about coercion in any other job. How many people really want to work at Walmart anyways?

        Oh, right, sex makes everything different, somehow.

        Check your biases sometime, Meghane. And maybe try fighting for women who are ACTUALLY being exploited, not against women who aren’t.

        • MLM

          “Oh, right, sex makes everything different, somehow”.

          Exactly. Somehow when it comes to sex it is perfectly okay for women to be exploited and for douches like you to delude yourselves that your arguments in defence of the exploitation are “libertarian”. I wonder why that could be…Something about male entitlement, perhaps? Just a wild guess.

          “…try fighting for women who are ACTUALLY being exploited” She is. Unlike you she actually is informed about the situation and gives a shit about their welfare. And if you had any idea how tired and old and overused that ridiculous “sweatshop” analogy issszzzzzzzzzzzzz…sorry what were you saying?

          • BobChaos23

            I have no interest in paying for sex. That does not preclude me from gratning that others havethe right to sell their services in that arena, the same as people do after being “coerced” for pay anywhere else. Most jobs offer economic coercion in exchange for a service. sex work is not somehow different just because it is something that has been considered “taboo”.

            Save the women who need it, leave those alone who don’t…how hard is this?

          • NitroGirl

            A lot of men have no interest in paying for sex,but they wouldn’t want to deprive less attractive,financially,able-bodied men of having access to sex work services. You may not care about personally purchasing it, but many man don’t—they just want that option available for men they “feel sorry for”. All I can read from the tone of your posts is that you want to protect male’s entitlement to sex work,and it really doesn’t help. I don’t think you know how transparent you are. Also,you believe in sexism against men—yeah I think I’m done here.

          • MLM

            “That does not preclude me from gratning that others havethe right …”
            You use language like “grant the rights”…but then try and argue your male privilege is irrelevant to your perspective on the situation???

          • BobChaos23

            “And if you had any idea how tired and old and overused that ridiculous “sweatshop” analogy issszzzzzzzzzzzzz…sorry what were you saying?”

            Just about as tired as the old and overused “selling their bodies” nonsense. sex workers sell their TIME. They sell a SERVICE.

            Recently a sex woker friend of mine hired two burly men to move her furniture into her new apartment…did she “buy” their bodies? And no, please, don’t just call the analogy “ridiculous” and ignore it. Actually think about it for a moment and come back with a real response, k?

          • Meghan Murphy

            As @BobChaos23 knows, moving furniture and prostitution are the exact same thing! He would know, you guys, as a man oppressed by sexism/me :(

          • pisaquari

            Chill out Meghan, we’re just talking about TIME workers

          • MLM

            “A john who was guaranteed anonymity said prostitution was like “renting an organ for ten minutes”. Another man said, “I use them like I might use any other amenity, a restaurant, or a public convenience.”

            http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/the_real_harms_of_prostitution

            In your moving furniture analogy, the prostitute is probably more akin to the chair than the removalist. She is selling her time/service to allow someone to treat her as something less than human. That is appeal of the service.

          • lizor

            Bob, I need you to come over and move my piano. That should take about 10 minutes and then I would like to spend the next 50 minutes penetrating your with a rolling pin. And my roommate would like to screw you too, then you can finish him off orally. We promise to get the whole job done within the hour.

            Is it one flat for the whole service or do different rates apply? I mean, we’re just renting your body, right?

        • Lotus

          @ BobChaos23
          So if someone locked you in a factory and forced you to do manual labour you would say it is similar to if that same person locked you in a room and raped you? Because since sex is the same as working in a factory, both situations are examples of “forced labour” or “theft of services”, right?

          • kmiriam

            This contrast is not helpful. I personally would indeed call for the abolition of sweat shop labor. We can talk about distinctions between prostituting women *and* slave labor conditions without trying to say the latter is ok in any shape, form or way.

          • Grackle

            She isn’t defending sweatshop labour, she’s saying that sweatshop labour and prostitution are different. Which they are. I would hope that we’re ALL calling for the end of sweatshop labour but that really isn’t the point.

      • Me

        Are you thinking more along the lines of trying to model the Nordic states as such, or using that as platform to create real alternatives on the ground? I don’t think the Nordic welfare states can maintain themselves either. They won’t be able to pay for their pensions and social programs no matter what, and their leadership seems intent on using whatever inertia these defunct-turning (growth and consumerism based) systems have to loot them as much as they can.

  • dave

    This is a great piece.

    I would like to add that for those who are confused and/or ambivalent about the viability of “decriminalization,” that although some seemingly good arguments can be made–i.e., brothels offer prostitutes better working conditions and pay, some poor women should be able to choose to work as prostitutes, and that criminalization leads/keeps the so-called “sex-trade” underground–,there are immediate (and, i would argue, inherent) ethical problems in the legal sale of sex as a service, and the cultural conception of prostitution as “a job like any other.”
    Prostitution without question leads to a loss of sexual autonomy insofar as it places the ability to subsist on the forfeiting of one’s sexual choices. It is also necessarily (at least in Western society) psychologically damaging to those who do such “work,” due to the relation/positioning sex life and identity have with respect to one another. It perpetuates patriarchal phenomena of violence against and oppression of women (and here I do not buy the argument that since not all prostitutes are women that this is not valid reasoning; this is simply true in a VAST majority of cases) in that it takes an economically disadvantaged group, women, and then pays them to endure the sacrifice of a part of themselves their better-off clients would never consider. Perhaps most disturbing, legalization–in the context of a societal/legal acceptance and legitimization of so-called “sex work” as work–could conceivably lead to, under the right political and economic constraints, the denial of basic welfare for women (and [just gay or poor?] men); after all, one could logically claim from a liberal perspective that those moralistic feminists and conservatives simply draw arbitrary lines between work and sex, and then expect that productive members of society, those eager to do any kind of work, will pay for the inefficiencies entailed! For these reasons, in addition to the clear evidence that legalization has been a failure in the Netherlands as well as in Germany (where the dominant parties, and unfortunately, even the Left, deny it), I claim that the same basic right of a worker not to have her(his) sexual autonomy breached on the job should apply universally. With legal and legitimized prostitution, the sort liberals and those “feminists” who accuse advocates of the nordic model of being anti-women advocate, such basic and humane protections are simply not possible.

    And this line of reasoning does not address the very relevant fact that the “choice” to be a prostitute is one that almost universally involves some kind of coercion, be it economic or personal.

    • MLM

      I agree with everything here except for this …

      “…brothels offer prostitutes better working conditions and pay”. Not necessarily.

      “Indoor prostitutes are being sexually assaulted by their clients more than streetwalkers, who are ultimately abused more frequently but not raped or robbed more.”

      http://feministcurrent.com/7038/new-research-shows-violence-decreases-under-nordic-model-why-the-radio-silence/

      “Legal Amsterdam brothels have up to three panic buttons in every room. Why? Because legal johns are not nice guys looking for a normal date. They regularly attempt to rape and strangle women”.

      http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/the_real_harms_of_prostitution

      • dave

        MLM,

        These are good points. I am not familiar with the literature on this particular liberal claim; it was my intention to highlight some of the (seemingly) more reasonable arguments put forth by well-intentioned folks who fail to see the problems that cannot be avoided by this overly-but-really-just-mistakenly-“pragmatic” step toward better treatment for prostituted (I take this purposefully and consciously from the German term “Prostituierte”) women. As I’m sure others have experienced, it has often been the case that arguing with logical and intelligent people leaves one with the impression that those who adhere to a liberal formulation of and solution to the problem of prostitution see advocates of more progressive models as naïve and indeed harmful to prostitutes’ cause. Of course, the real naïvité is to distinguish between so-called “forced prostitution” or “chosen prostitution,” in an attempt to legitimize an oppressive feature of an already very unegalitarian economic system. What could be more harmful? My argument is that liberal reasoning, which–let’s face it–is the dominant way of thinking about politics for those who consider themselves “progressive” in the US and Canada (and much of the Western world), is not equipped to adequately deal with the phenomenon of prostitution.

        • MLM

          “it was my intention to highlight some of the (seemingly) more reasonable arguments put forth by well-intentioned folks who fail to see the problems that cannot be avoided by this overly-but-really-just-mistakenly-”pragmatic” step toward better treatment for prostituted (I take this purposefully and consciously from the German term “Prostituierte”) women”.

          Understood. I respect both your intention and generosity of spirit. I still think it needs to be said that there can often be a level of wilful blindness at play, as well. (It’s always interesting, for instance, when commenters accuse others of having “a-priori biases” on the subject while simultaneously exposing their own).

          Confusion and ambivalence over this subject is understandable, but automatically maligning abolitionist motives as “moralistic” is not.

          I can also say I was once guilty of the very kind of naivete you mentioned. I used to believe that harm reduction would have to be the best approach to addressing everybody’s interests and welfare etc. But when prompted to really scrutinise and verify my ideas – to genuinely listen to the other side of the argument without prejudice – I came to redefine position entirely.

          Maybe I’m less generous than you, but I think a big part of the problem actually is that there are far too many people trying to make this “progressive” argument largely out of self-interest, or refusal to truly examine anything inconvenient to making the argument they’ve already committed themselves to.

  • Jane Walsh

    Thank you Meghan! I was so disturbed by the Grant piece and the attention it was getting.
    Your piece is the clear-headed , thoughtful and informed response needed.
    I’ll share it, and the many good links in the discussion.
    Bravo.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks Jane!

  • vouchsafer

    I understand that some women choose to work in the sex trade and seem quite happy there.i would argue, however, that the word choose implies they have some other options. This discussion is not about those people, it’s about a movement that seeks to fair things up a bit so that no woman who does not want to sell access to her body to survive should ever have to.
    can we not agree on that at least?
    it’s so not the same as moving furniture or factory work.

    • stephen m

      Yes, plain and simple.

      When we were in school we often took factory jobs for the summer to earn money for the following year. I would like to suggest that the folks who call and think of prostitution as “sex work” contemplate having a summer vacation with their teenagers working the streets as “sex workers” to earn money for their school year. Distasteful, you bet, yet you feel it is OK for other people and their children to have to earn money this way to survive!

  • Jason Congdon

    Hi Meghan,

    I appreciate the frustration you must feel when feminists are depicted as part of the problem in the prostitution debates. It’s a very difficult issue and fractious debate. A failure to consider the nuances of feminism is definitely part of the problem, for the spectrum of feminist positions is so broad that one can name two feminist orientations that are quite opposed on this issue: sex-positive feminists who are influenced by Michel Foucault, Gayle Rubin, and Judith Butler, among others, and abolitionist feminists influenced by Andrea Dworkin, Catherine McKinnon, Sheila Jeffries, etc. As their are opposite approaches to prostitution, both of which have deep roots, suggesting that there is a single “feminist” position on prostitution is part of the problem.

    When I read these debates, binary oppositions seem to be a big part of the problem. Men versus women, feminism versus patriarchy – this is a convenient shorthand which radically oversimplifies the issue. If “this is a movement, not a war,” binaries have no place in the struggle, for they tend to promote a logic of me vs. you, us vs. them – conflict as opposed to cooperation. What might be easy to overlook in reading the comments to your piece is that this oppositional rhetoric risks alienating not only men (who one can hardly be expected to embrace their role as “culprit,” regardless of their individual culpability), but a great many feminists, not to mention the queer community in general.

    One thing that alienates many readers of the abolitionist-feminist position is a tendency in some cases to argue unethically. You’ve caricatured “I choose my choice” feminism in circumstances where you perceive others to take a simplistic, agency-for-its-own-sake approach to choice. That’s a fair argument in some cases, even if the label is dismissive. But it has a corollary which might be termed “It’s my right to be right” argumentation. I sometimes hear abolitionist arguments that sacrifice ethics in order to win points. When Melissa Farley represents research on survival sex workers as representing all sex workers, and is supported by abolitionists, it undermines her authority as well as the abolitionist position, as we see thus far in the Bedford case. When Gail Dines overstates the rapaciousness of the average porn one encounters via a simple google search, it reduces her credibility. One is reminded of the MacKinnon-Dworking ordinances, which, in overstating the definition of “porn”, ultimately amounted to what one might call “a vindication of the rights of pornographers”.

    You’ve probably anticipated where I’m going with this: your article reiterates the headline you recently ran: “A Norwegian study looking at rates of violence against prostituted women under the Nordic model was recently released in English. It showed that, since 2008, reports of rape and other forms of physical violence against prostituted women has decreased.” I have to ask: what is gained by maintaining this interpretation despite the counterpoints made by myself and others? As I’ve stated elsewhere, I worry about the Nordic model because I think it will have terrible consequences both for survival sex workers and for the feminist movement in Canada. Toward that end, I’ve asked for evidence that the Nordic model has improved the conditions of prostitutes or reduced the incidence of prostitution in Sweden or Norway. I am aware of none, and no one seems to be able to meet this request with evidence. Even the Swedish state won’t go any further than suggesting that the law has reduced the appearance of prostitutes in the streets. In other words, the law’s advocates can only suggest that prostitutes disappeared, and they have no idea where they disappeared to. That’s not a radical feminist position, it is a radically irresponsible position.

    I realize that your opponents make irresponsible claims, too, but two wrongs are merely twice as wrong. On both sides, turning down the rhetoric, and listening carefully to both evidence and sex workers (from all across the spectrum), would be helpful to building a movement and mitigating a war that risks catching Canada’s least advantaged sex workers in the crossfire.

    • MLM

      Jason, I’m confused. On one hand you attack Melissa Farley’s credibility because you assert that her research only reflects the experiences of survival sex workers, and on the other hand you express concerns about “catching Canada’s least advantaged sex workers in the crossfire”.

      Who are Canada’s least advantaged sex workers if they’re not survival sex workers?

      • Jason Congdon

        I meant survival sex workers and least advantaged sex workers similarly, though I suppose the terms aren’t equivalent, they’re overlapping.

        I was merely trying to say that the argument itself, and the particular form it takes (hyperbolic, binary, and riven with conflict) is unhelpful to building the kind of coalescent social movement required to effectively deal with the many and varied causes of what suffering occurs in sex work. The shape of the argument itself is polarized and polarizing, even among people who genuinely identify as feminist. Is it absurd to suggest that the best chance for the best outcome requires all the varied voices of prostitution carving out a practical common ground in solidarity with abolitionists, harm-reductionists, sex-positivists, and others?

        Easier said than done, no doubt. But if not, why not?

        • MLM

          “When Melissa Farley represents research on survival sex workers as representing all sex workers…”

          What do you actually mean by this? Melissa Farley has also researched sex work in legal brothels (see link/details below), along with many other facets/aspects. So are you referring to a specific instance? Or are you defining “survival sex worker” as someone who literally relies on sex work to survive (which would, no doubt, be the majority. For example, 70% of sex workers in the UK are single mothers). And if that’s the case how is that not more representative of sex work than the claims of her opponents?

          “Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada: Making the Connections”
          Melissa Farley 2007
          Prostitution Research & Education

          http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/prostitution_research/000168.html

          “When Gail Dines overstates the rapaciousness of the average porn one encounters via a simple google search, it reduces her credibility”.

          When Annie Sprinkle tries to insinuate that law enforcement concerns about child pornography include pictures of people’s kids in the bath it should reduce her credibility. But for some reason the accuracy of what she has to say about pornography seems to be held to an entirely different standard. And, in my opinion, Gail Dines overstates the case about pornography a whole world less than Annie Sprinkle understates.

          You keep talking about misrepresentation in Sam Berg’s article as if it is fact and not your opinion.
          “I have to ask: what is gained by maintaining this interpretation despite the counterpoints made by myself and others?” Simply put, they disagree with you and your interpretation. I thought that was a bit obvious.

          You talk about “oppositional rhetoric” as a source of conflict in these discussions and then quite happily engage in some of your own
          “I realize that your opponents make irresponsible claims, too, but two wrongs are merely twice as wrong”.
          It is your opinion that these are irresponsible claims. I don’t share it, and evidently neither do most people on this site.

          What you are essentially asking is “why don’t you just agree with my point of view so we can all stop arguing?” And the answer is that is we have own perspective on the situation and haven’t come to our convictions lightly. They are founded on our understanding of the situation and interpretation of the evidence.

          You don’t share the same opinion, as you’ve made clear. That’s your prerogative. But it is absurdly naive to keep trying to put your opinions across as fact and then basically ask “why is everybody maintaining their position on this, when I’ve told you it’s wrong”.

          • Me

            Well said!

          • Me

            PS. Gail Dines doesn’t overstate anything. To make her descriptions about porn less awful would be to lie, plain and simple.

          • MLM

            I fully agree, Me. But my fundamental point here is that there is a distinction between fact and opinion and Jason needs to learn to start making that distinction when expressing his opinions.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Thank you @MLM!

          • Jason Congdon

            @MLM:
            I don’t know that the counterexamples you offer are equivalent, and I don’t think it’s constructive to reduce the terrain to nothing more than opinions. When any argument whatsoever can be dismissed with “well, that’s just your opinion” I think our capacity to take a stand against exploitation and suffering is seriously undermined. I’m definitely not suggesting that anyone agree with me for the sake of agreeing with me or for the sake of getting along. I am suggesting that where information meets the standards of evidence, it be taken seriously as such.

          • MLM

            “I am suggesting that where information meets the standards of evidence, it be taken seriously as such”.

            But that’s the whole point, Jason. Others have weighed up the evidence and decided that it does. It doesn’t match your conclusion. They are disagreeing with your assessment of things and in response to that you seem to be characterising their conclusions as “irresponsible”.

            It isn’t reducing the terrain to nothing more than opinion to point out that they have also arrived at their position based on evidence, and have been taking their evaluation of it seriously.

          • Jason Congdon

            @MLM:
            “Others have weighed up the evidence and decided that it does” – please show me where someone has made a serious evaluation of the evidence.

            “They are disagreeing with your assessment of things and in response to that you seem to be characterising their conclusions as ‘irresponsible’.” No, what I referred to as irresponsible is Samantha’s article and Megan’s subsequent reference to it. Neither of these pieces was a response to me. Nevertheless, if someone can provide a reasonable counterargument to what I wrote in response to Samantha’s piece or to what Wendy Lyon wrote, I’ll be all too happy to consider it. But I haven’t seen any such response here or elsewhere.

          • Me

            And if you did see a “reasonable counterargument”, somehow I doubt that would turn your behavior around and turn you into a serious ally. A person can change his opinions all he wants, it’s the convictions that matter and can overcome differences of opinion in forming alliances. If convictions don’t match, that’s another thing entirely.

          • MLM

            I’m kind of in agreement with Me that your mind is pretty well made up on this one, Jason. But will humour you by explaining why I, personally, am unconvinced by Wendy Lyon’s counterargument. I can’t speak for anyone else, obviously.

            Wendy’s counterargument seems largely speculative and what she cites in the report seems largely based on anecdotal evidence. The anecdotal evidence in the report was gathered and compiled by an organisation with a pro-legalisation agenda. I’m not prepared to take it for granted that they were completely impartial.

            Sam Berg, at least, highly based her argument on statistics. And while Wendy Lyon initially deems the statistics to be unreliable, she still wants to have it both ways and make her own claims about what they mean, “notwithstanding my suspicion with the figures…”. For me, she didn’t present much credibility.

            In your response to Sam Berg’s follow up article you made the argument that “the numbers cannot be directly compared”, in response to Sam’s claim “Comparable numbers were compared”. If the report’s “purpose is to evaluate whether the women are more exposed to violence after the introduction of the law”, then surely it was understood that purpose of gathering the two sets of figures was comparison. So if they really can’t be compared in any meaningful way, why include them? Perhaps they are not “directly comparable”, but that doesn’t mean no interpretation can be made on the basis of these figures.

            And all the problems cited for these women have not improved in countries where legalisation has been implemented. All legalisation has done is legitimise their abuse and empower those who pimp them, not the women.

            Anyway, not trying to convince you of anything. Just explaining why your arguments do not convince me. I don’t wish to go around in circles on this point anymore, I can’t see the point.

          • Grackle

            “There are the occasions that men-—intellectual men, clever men, engaged men—-insist on playing devil’s advocate, desirous of a debate on some aspect of feminist theory or reproductive rights or some other subject generally filed under the heading: Women’s Issues…Why do you have to take this stuff so personally? ask the intellectual, clever, and engaged men, who have never considered that the content of the abstract exercise that’s so much fun for them is the stuff of my life.” (http://bit.ly/HPklR1)

          • Meghan Murphy

            @Jason – It’s ‘irresponsible’ of me to link to Sam’s piece?? I’m afraid I don’t see how.

            What I find ‘irresponsible’ is this conclusion, which actually makes no sense at all:

            “The findings of this report show that prostitution has become more individualized and that fewer people seek out support services after being subjected to violence. Additionally some of the women feel that they have little legal protection because parts of the legal framework – which is in principle intended to protect the women – also leads to the women not going to the police for help. They are worried about losing their apartments and/or their livelihood. Some of the women also experience that they now have to protect the customers from being fined. This means that the customers have gone from being a form of ‘business partner’ to an ally, while at the same time the police have gone from being an ally the women could go to for protection, to someone they themselves have to protect the
            customers from.”

            How on earth could they come to this conclusion?? It makes no sense that less people would seek out support services or go to the police if they are decriminalized. None. On what basis would the researchers come to this conclusion?

          • Jason Congdon

            @Meghan,
            As you’ll recall, I (sort of) expressed regret over my use of the word “irresponsible,” and suggested instead that I don’t think it’s a sensible move to promote her response to the ProSentret report as evidence that the Nordic model works. It’s just too easy for your opponents to debunk and dismiss. Meanwhile, the headline circulates through the blogosphere and uncritical readers may actually take it at face value.

            Now, you’re telling me that the report’s conclusions are irresponsible. In addition, you’ve published (and thus presumably stand behind) Samantha’s claim that the report’s authors are “liars!”. Doesn’t that leave you in the position of claiming that the ProSentret report is irresponsible and dishonest, while offering it as evidence that the Nordic model works?

            Regarding your last two questions, the researchers appear to be reporting what their interviewees are telling them. Still, I don’t understand how you can dismiss this as “irresponsible” or of “no sense” while promoting other parts of the same study. It seems like cherry-picking…

          • Meghan Murphy

            No, it leaves me responsible for publishing Sam’s interpretation of the research/data collected. Which you interpret differently. The headline says the report shows that violence decreases under the Nordic model. It does show that, as per Sam’s interpretation of the data. What are you accusing me of, exactly?

            It could easily be said that you are ‘cherry-picking’ a quote/conclusion that doesn’t make any sense. That doesn’t mean the data isn’t accurate or that Sam’s interpretations of the data aren’t relevant, it means, from my perspective, that paragraph/conclusion doesn’t make sense.

          • stephen m

            @jason: I have not carefully read all that you have written here, and everything is now too scattered. If Meghan would allow it, I would be very interested in your personal position on prostitution with your arguments and documented facts to back them up. A succinct summary in a new sub-thread would help me understand where you are coming from. Thanks

          • Meghan Murphy

            Sure, I’d be interested to know what Jason’s position on prostitution is, if he feels comfortable sharing…

          • Jason Congdon

            @stephen m & @ Meghan Murphy:
            Thanks, I would be happy to. I should take a few days to consider the best way to do so. Let me ponder this and follow up with Meghan, please & thanks. Meanwhile, pace the handful of people have suggested (or stated outright) that my comments here have been unwelcome, I appreciate the query.

            Also, @Meghan: I haven’t intended to “accuse” you of anything, but to criticize one or two things respectfully and constructively. If I’ve come across as attacking, perhaps I need to do a better job of heeding my own words about dialogue, cooperation, and such. :)

    • Vouchsafer

      Jason
      My first objection to your post is your pedantic tone. It makes me wonder if you even realize that you’re taking the upper hand, but either way, the proof that you are a walking embodiment of patriarchal male entitlement lies in this comment:
      “this oppositional rhetoric risks alienating not only men (who one can hardly be expected to embrace their role as “culprit,” regardless of their individual culpability)”

      That’s really not the priority concern here, hun. Let me ask you this: If you were walking around every day watching members of your gender being put down, (and thereby, implicitly, you yourself as one of them), how would you feel? I am referring to many problematic aspects of the patriarchy, not just survival prostitution or porn itself.

      Speaking personally, I would like to see a balance in society so that there is no underpriveleged class of people be they male, female, straight, lgbt, or visible minority, because that would abolish the dependence on prostitution for survival for those people.

      Having said that, if such a world were possible, I have no issue with people continuing to choose to buy or sell sex, because all things being equal, that would be a choice, not a survival mechanism. That world would also erase my problem with porn, because it would erase the financial hardships that lead some women (as the underpriveleged class) down that road, and who knows? It might even lead to the rise of a kind of porn that doesn’t seek to debase women (a function of keeping the power firmly in the hands of men.)

      Being the dominant class, therefore, there is an onus on men to change and understand their own culpability, because like any conqueror, they are the ones doing the marginalizing.

    • http://bonerkilling.blogspot.ca BK

      Yeah…!!! Stop being so “binary” Meghan…your lack of Foucault-Butler understandings of “fluid power exchanges” and “agenic choice making” is blinding you to the “subversive, non-binary-ness” of the sex industry – stop being so “black and white” nothing means anything, really…I MEAN…WHAT IS “REALITY?” ANYWAY… COME ON …GAWD.

      Andrea Dworkin!? YUCK! What would a working class woman who was a sex worker know about the “transgressive, non-binary, fluid, non-hegmonic, postpatriarchal, postreality” academic perspectives on the sex industry offered by the brilliant dude, Foucault?

      Clearly, Dworkin is just blinded by her militant feminism – unable to grasp the “complexities” and “contradictions” of “agency” involved in the prostitution industry. Gail Dines? PFF…IDIOT…her research is all biased because pornsick dudes are really decent deep down and don’t ALWAYS watch degrading porn…she just makes shit up because she doesn’t like bonerz. She’s soooo essentialist….

    • Meghan Murphy

      @Jason:

      “When I read these debates, binary oppositions seem to be a big part of the problem. Men versus women, feminism versus patriarchy – this is a convenient shorthand which radically oversimplifies the issue.”

      Are you serious? “Feminism versus patriarchy” is a “binary” that oversimplifies?? That is the crux of the issue! The goal of feminism is to end patriarchy — how on earth can “feminism vs. patriarchy” be a useless binary in that context?

      “What might be easy to overlook in reading the comments to your piece is that this oppositional rhetoric risks alienating not only men (who one can hardly be expected to embrace their role as “culprit,” regardless of their individual culpability)”

      I’m not sure exactly what you’re referring to here, with regard to alienating men (meaning, I’m not alienating men with the arguments I make here — I’m, perhaps, ‘alienating’ johns…But….Oh well?). Maybe I’m misunderstanding you.

      “You’ve probably anticipated where I’m going with this: your article reiterates the headline you recently ran: “A Norwegian study looking at rates of violence against prostituted women under the Nordic model was recently released in English. It showed that, since 2008, reports of rape and other forms of physical violence against prostituted women has decreased.” I have to ask: what is gained by maintaining this interpretation despite the counterpoints made by myself and others?”

      What have I stated here that is untrue? The statistics included in the report show that, since 2008, under the Nordic model, reports of rape and other forms of physical violence have decreased. You seem to be implying that I’m purposefully misrepresenting the research, which I am not. This is, indeed, what the research show. Nothing I stated there is untrue.

      “As I’ve stated elsewhere, I worry about the Nordic model because I think it will have terrible consequences both for survival sex workers and for the feminist movement in Canada. Toward that end, I’ve asked for evidence that the Nordic model has improved the conditions of prostitutes or reduced the incidence of prostitution in Sweden or Norway. I am aware of none, and no one seems to be able to meet this request with evidence.”

      Legalization HAS “terrible consequences both for survival sex workers and for the feminist movement in Canada.” We can see that in Amsterdam. I linked to Bindel’s piece, which shows some of the ‘terrible consequences’ of legalization, in my article. The Nordic model is the ONLY model that is a feminist model and that is based on feminist ideology and goals. There is evidence that prostitution has decreased in Sweden and Norway, AS YOU KNOW. Trafficking AND street prostitution has decreased. Less men are buying sex. This information is easy to find. I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about.

      “I realize that your opponents make irresponsible claims, too, but two wrongs are merely twice as wrong.”

      What ‘irresponsible claims’ am I making?

      I agree that “hyperbolic” arguments aren’t useful. But I don’t think that’s what I’m doing here. And no, there is no “single feminist position on prostitution” in that many of those who identify as feminists have divergent viewpoints, BUT with the goal of equality, ending patriarchy and the oppression of women in mind, I’m hard-pressed to see how legalization supports those goals.

      • Me

        Your original article was very consistently and well written.

      • Jason Congdon

        @ Meghan:

        You wrote: “Are you serious? “Feminism versus patriarchy” is a “binary” that oversimplifies?? That is the crux of the issue! The goal of feminism is to end patriarchy — how on earth can “feminism vs. patriarchy” be a useless binary in that context?”

        Yes, I’m very serious. Of course the binary oversimplifies. It gives the illusion that feminism and patriarchy are each monolithic, while excluding everything in between. Please note: I did not suggest that it’s a “useless binary,” did I? What I’m suggesting is that the tendency toward binarism is in itself problematic, partly because it oversimplifies the issue. Re prostitution, you acknowledge that the problem can’t be reduced to a simple binary when you write: “abolitionists make a case against prostitution based on a combined class, race and gender analysis”.

        You wrote: “I’m not sure exactly what you’re referring to here, with regard to alienating men (meaning, I’m not alienating men with the arguments I make here — I’m, perhaps, ‘alienating’ johns…But….Oh well?). Maybe I’m misunderstanding you.”

        Actually, my main point wasn’t about men, I just didn’t want to exclude the obvious – the more important point would be how the shape of this argument has alienated many feminists from the abolitionist cause.

        You wrote: “What have I stated here that is untrue? The statistics included in the report show that, since 2008, under the Nordic model, reports of rape and other forms of physical violence have decreased. You seem to be implying that I’m purposefully misrepresenting the research, which I am not. This is, indeed, what the research show. Nothing I stated there is untrue.”

        I’m sure it’s not your intention to misrepresent, but I am stating that Samantha misrepresents the report, and that you’re promoting that misrepresentation. The report includes results of two surveys, one from 2008 and one from 2012. The respondents were not answering the same question in each survey, and thus the report’s authors explicitly and repeatedly state that the numbers cannot be directly compared, because they refer to completely different time scales. The earlier survey asked how many times respondents had been raped (etc.) throughout their entire careers, whereas the latter survey limits itself to incidents that occurred in a 3-year period alone. That’s why suggesting that the report indicates a decrease in rape since 2009 is plainly false. Beyond that, the claim that the report’s authors are “liars!” appears to be both defamatory and false, which is to say, libelous. I hate using incendiary words like irresponsible, but I’ll be sorry for whatever words I choose here. This paragraph identifies two serious problems in Samantha’s argument that I don’t think it’s sensible or in your best interests to maintain or to promote.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Feminism vs patriarchy isn’t a binary in the sense that I imagine there are no other oppressive factors. The fact that feminism is in a fight of sorts, or rather movement against patriarchy, remains true. And useful.

          “Actually, my main point wasn’t about men, I just didn’t want to exclude the obvious – the more important point would be how the shape of this argument has alienated many feminists from the abolitionist cause.”

          I don’t think what I’ve written here works to alienate feminists from the abolitionist cause. I was, in fact, trying to do the opposite. I find that accusing abolitionists/feminists of jailing/wanting to jail or commit violence against/contributing to violence against sex workers does much more to alienate than anything I’ve argued in my piece.

          Regarding your comments about Sam, I’m not going to speak on her behalf as I know that she can respond/has a response to your comments and I would prefer not to speak for her or paraphrase.

          • Me

            Come on, don’t backtrack when the other doesn’t respect what you say and you’re also right. If feminism and patriarcy aren’t a binary, in opposition to each other, then what is? Anybody should understand that’s what “binary” here means. Or am I supposed to take it literally in the sense that feminism=1 and patriarcy=0? That would make a lot of sense. Is 1 or 0 monolithic mathematically, does that have a meaning? Are good and evil monolithic? Is all rape exactly the same, are all the women at different ages and different stages of their lives to whom it happens once, or twice, or repeatedly, the same? Do words have any meaning at all that we can insist on? Even monoliths aren’t strictly monolithic in the sense of being “totally uniform and rigid” when it comes to it. This is bullshit.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I’m not backtracking. I’m trying to understand Jason’s points. I don’t think that ‘patriarchy’ is the only problem here. It is the root, yes, but there are other issues and power structures at play. So it isn’t ‘simply’ feminism vs. patriarchy as, of course, it is complex than that. But an easy and accurate way to understand feminism is that it works against patriarchy…

          • Me

            Well, no, you weren’t, but I couldn’t figure a better word for it, sorry.

            I don’t think he actually makes any points, none that he seems capable of explaining anyway. He doesn’t seem to be able to understand what others are saying either, or he doesn’t try. I feel like I just lose a tiny bit of my soul if I try too hard to get in his shoes (that’s too hard, not try at all). That’s usually not the case when I disagree with somebody. From your comments I get that you should slow down a lot, Jason, and then try if you can see the arguments people here make. I don’t mean you’d have to agree, but I don’t think you see what people argue.

            I did read some critical points here, if you haven’t been there already:
            http://www.fafo.no/prostitution/index.html
            http://www.fafo.no/pers/bio/mls.htm

            I haven’t read everything there, but to me the faults largely come down to what I said before about studies. You could go through it and think of interviewing the lead researcher if you like. My view is that these researchers typically are products of the social democracies of the past, and can’t see how that’s not the future or even the situation today, if they genuinely care. Most people do expect things to stay much the same after all. In my opinion, this stuff just isn’t going to hold anything together long term. The approach is in no way commensurate to the problems we face whether through economic/ecological collapse, or while economies hold somewhat together, the onslaught from the pornification of everything and from the overall lunatic mentality that’s taken over. Not just businesmen, but everyone calling the shots or reaching any leading position is a market and growth fundamentalist these days, and that fundamentalism’s become totally “apolitical”. I get the sense that people do see and sense that their world isn’t working anymore, which is why the effort at collective and self-delusion has gone off the charts. That said, there may be good points there, but I don’t see how you wouldn’t get the same insights just talking to feminists and shelter workers and exited prostitutes, the people you cited in your piece to begin with.

            I think I can understand the defensiveness against something being imposed here, but it’s just a fact it’ll be there because it’s not possible to reach and reassure everyone or to get everyone directly involved. Obviously leftists and feminists shouldn’t trust the state, should expect the capitalist media to turn the vulnerable against each other to protect its interest, should expect racism towards women of color to be the main driver for parts of society that may want to take part in the same abolitionist projects or hijack them, expect all of this and more. But enough people need to understand what feminists are on about and insist on solutions that empower women, and I think there are enough people who do and will. Many if not most people will have all sorts of objections and can’t be reassured, and that will only change when the reality changes and they begin to get used to it. Individual healing is important, but so is trying to just stop the mountains of new casualties.

          • Jason Congdon

            @Me:

            Thank you for what I think is a thoughtful and considerate response. Whereas I’ve had the feeling from a variety of respondents that my comments are simply unwelcome, I appreciate that you’re actually attempting to respond to what I’ve said.

            You’re suggesting both that I don’t understand the arguments here and that my own suggestions are incomprehensible. Fair enough, I’ll respond to that. Re slowing down, I’ve been reading and/or participating in these debates for years, and I do try to listen and understand. I’ve had countless debates, discussions, and outright arguments with abolitionists and their opponents, and while feelings have been bruised along the way, everyone’s still friendly. I don’t think I’m just jumping into something naively, and I say that with full awareness that my perspective is partial, incomplete, gendered, and fraught with many other limitations. I do my best as imperfectly as the rest of us.

            As for the argument that I’m making that seems to be so confusing, I think all my words boiled down to two simple points. I could expand on these, but I try to keep things pertinent. The first point is that advocates for the Nordic model need to look very carefully at the evidence and arguments and think long and hard about the risks it poses in the Canadian context. I’ll not elaborate on that any more here, for I can and should write an article of my own about why feminists should be skeptical of this policy. But I took exception to some very literal mistakes in Samantha Berg’s original article on the Nordic model, and I think I stated these objections clearly.

            The second argument I’ve made is simply that the enmity between radical/abolitionist feminists and sex-radical/sex-positive feminists is a huge problem. To me, these positions, while very different, ought to be complementary rather than in conflict with each other. Harm-reduction must be a part of the equation, too. However, instead of building bridges and creating partnerships, many participants in these debates treat anyone who doesn’t completely agree with their basic principles as some kind of enemy. These conflicts are interfering with the missions of each of these approaches, and I don’t understand why that’s necessary or how it’s productive, progressive, radical, or in any way healthy.

            In any case, I’m not repeating these points to belabor them, but because you suggested they were so impossible to understand.

            Finally, thank you for the links – I haven’t seen that particular site yet, so I appreciate the reference. I guess if I were to make one suggestion for an article that Nordic model advocates should be aware of, if only to know the counter-arguments, it would be Dodillet and Ostergren’s piece at http://gup.ub.gu.se/records/fulltext/140671.pdf.

            –Jason

          • Meghan Murphy

            “The second argument I’ve made is simply that the enmity between radical/abolitionist feminists and sex-radical/sex-positive feminists is a huge problem. To me, these positions, while very different, ought to be complementary rather than in conflict with each other. Harm-reduction must be a part of the equation, too. However, instead of building bridges and creating partnerships, many participants in these debates treat anyone who doesn’t completely agree with their basic principles as some kind of enemy. These conflicts are interfering with the missions of each of these approaches, and I don’t understand why that’s necessary or how it’s productive, progressive, radical, or in any way healthy.”

            Yes, well, of course abolitionists support harm reduction. They just don’t want it to end there. They want more. I’m sorry, I realize this will just sound like childish finger pointing, but I can’t help but notice/point out that, when we are being accused, over and over again of hating prostitutes, of having some kind of ‘whorephobia’, of contributing/perpetration violence against women, of being ‘in bed’ with the religious right, etc etc etc, it’s difficult to find alliances. Ther COULD be a lot more bridge building if those who saw themselves as ‘sex positive’ stopped making such anti-feminist arguments and claims. It’s hard to see people who pull out the same old sexist crap (we hate sex, are prudish, etc) as having any interest in anything resembling a feminist movement and it’s hard to build alliances with people who are working to see sexism as something empowering.

            I realize that not all of those who advocate to decriminalize pimps and johns do this, I have talked to plenty of intelligent, feminist women who aren’t abolitionists for intelligent, rather than idiotic reasons, but by and large, this ‘movement’ (towards what, I would like to know?) is represented by voices like Grant and Agustin, who make horribly distorted, dishonest, and anti-feminist arguments.

        • MLM

          Just wanted to say something about this charge of feminists “alienating men with the arguments”…

          Feminists can not be blamed for the fact that masculine sexual entitlement is held up to be such a sacred cow in societal consciousness. If men find it “alienating” that feminists want to challenge it in discussions of sexual politics, how is this really any different from white people who find it “alienating” when people of colour want to point out racial power dynamics and the way it affects their lives?

          People have to start taking responsibility, including responsibility for their own discomfort in reaction to hearing something that challenges their perceptions.

        • http://lolliguncula.wordpress.com lolliguncula

          Jason, feminism and patriarchy are not binaries. Both phenomena do not have commonalities in their definitions so they do not exist on a gradient. Matriarchy/patriarchy would be a binary.

          What you really want to say is that Meghan and those who share her opinion are essentialist.

          • Jason Congdon

            @MLM & @ lolliguncula:

            As I’ve already clarified, my point was less about alienating men (though they must be a part of any successful solution, no doubt) as about alienating women in general, and feminists in particular. As Meghan’s article evinces, many feminists are repulsed by the abolitionist argument. How far can an abolitionist movement get while being divisive of feminists themselves? Perhaps it can go a long way, but presently that only seems likely if abolitionists ally with erstwhile opponents of feminism such as the religious and political right. Clearly that’s a risky proposition.

            Meanwhile, re binaries, lolliguncula makes a perfectly good philosophical point. I would suggest that these terms are sometimes used in a feminist way, but I don’t agree that things need to be literal opposites to be framed in binary terms. Whenever two terms are posed as mutually inclusive and that opposition is invested with the energy of a power struggle, I’d suggest that binarism is in play. That said, I should be as careful in my word choice as your comment suggests, so thank you for that, and I’ll definitely consider your point.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “As Meghan’s article evinces, many feminists are repulsed by the abolitionist argument. How far can an abolitionist movement get while being divisive of feminists themselves?”

            But what is the alternative? Give up on our goals to create an equitable world and stop challenging male power and privilege? I mean, ‘sex positive’/choicey-choice feminism is divisive as well, because, of course, it’s ridiculous. Would you argue the pro sex work folks give up on their goals because it’s ‘divisive’? I mean, the more radical you are, the more likely it is you are going to be accused of being ‘divisive’. So what’s the point in making this arguments? It’s one thing to say that something is unnecessarily divisive, but clearly abolitionists are abolitionists for a reason — because they don’t believe women are things that exist to provide men with sexual pleasure, because they want violence against women to end and because they want women to be provided with better options, to end poverty, etc. I mean, ok, it’s ‘divisive’…I guess? So what?

          • Jason Congdon

            I guess I don’t think sex-positive/sex-radical equates with “pro-prostitution” any more than “pro-choice” equals “pro-abortion”. I think repression of sex and oppression of women go hand-in-hand as historical expressions of capitalist, patriarchal, and religious power. If so, it seems that arguments for sexual liberation and for female liberation *should* have enormous potential to ally in opposition to these forms of power.

            I agree with you that the people you’re responding to here are sometimes unfair, just as I contend that abolitionists sometimes overstate their case. I don’t understand what prevents sex-radical feminists from paying more attention to the abominable exploitation of many sex workers, or what prevents abolitionist feminists from acknowledging that some prostitutes are empowered agents. This piece by Audacia Ray is a step in the right direction, I think (if you’re aware of something from the abolitionist movement that strikes a similar tone, I would like to see it): http://blog.audaciaray.com/post/20228032642/why-the-sex-positive-movement-is-bad-for-sex-workers

            I realize that “better arguments, more dialogue” is a tiny suggestion, and hardly amounts to “an alternative” per se. But when it comes to movement-building, it might help facilitate a beginning.

          • Lela

            “I think repression of sex and oppression of women go hand-in-hand as historical expressions of capitalist, patriarchal, and religious power. If so, it seems that arguments for sexual liberation and for female liberation *should* have enormous potential to ally in opposition to these forms of power.”

            Once again, Jason, you lack perspective on this issue (an intrinsically female perspective, that is). The normalization of prostitution has nothing to do with ending your imagined “repression of sex” unless you think sex can be defined as men buying access to women’s organs. Not sure whether you’ve noticed, but we are living in the 21st century, porn and prostitution are mainstream; the Victorian ladies you imagine are running feminism are straw-woman ghosts. *Feminists*, much like the ones you’re currently addressing, paved the way for a more fair and honest assessment of female sexuality, but as we all know there is a great deal more work to be done on this. For you to come on a blog like this and pretend that radical feminists are somehow ignorant about how sex works and/or how patriarchy works, moreover unaware of what so-called “sex radicals” are selling, that’s just rich.

            Honestly, if you think supporting men’s purchase of sex leads to some kind of “sexual liberation” then you are just supporting the status quo. The concept of “sexual liberation” itself is tremendously problematic.

            Your attempts to act as Voice of Reason and “facilitate a beginning” for feminist “movement building” are unwelcome and utterly condescending. More than anything they indicate a basic lack of comprehension of radical feminist thought that you’d do well to remedy before trying to engage in any meaningful way with radical feminists.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “I guess I don’t think sex-positive/sex-radical equates with “pro-prostitution” any more than “pro-choice” equals “pro-abortion”.”

            It shouldn’t, no! But it seems that dominant discourse coming from the ‘sex positive’ is about normalizing prostitution or trying to make it empowering somehow. So maybe ‘pro-prostitution’ isn’t the best way to describe that.

            If we truly wanted ‘sexual liberation’ we would most definitely want an end to prostitution. Like, without a doubt. So what gives?

            “I don’t understand what prevents sex-radical feminists from paying more attention to the abominable exploitation of many sex workers, or what prevents abolitionist feminists from acknowledging that some prostitutes are empowered agents.”

            It’s just not as simple as that. “Empowered agents” doesn’t describe anything. I mean, most abolitionists I know are perfectly willing to acknowledge that there are varying levels of ‘choice’ in terms of how/why women are working in the sex industry, but to say ’empowered agent’ completely disregards context and limits in terms of ‘choice’.

            “I realize that “better arguments, more dialogue” is a tiny suggestion, and hardly amounts to “an alternative” per se. But when it comes to movement-building, it might help facilitate a beginning.”

            Who are you suggesting should have “better arguments, more dialogue”? Did you not think my article contributed to “better arguments, more dialogue”? Why was the response from the ‘sex positive’ community to either block these arguments from being published or to attack me on account of ‘whorephobia’/accuse us, once again, of perpetrating violence against prostituted women?

          • Lela

            Also, re: “I don’t understand what prevents sex-radical feminists from paying more attention to the abominable exploitation of many sex workers, or what prevents abolitionist feminists from acknowledging that some prostitutes are empowered agents.”

            1) “Sex-radical feminists” routinely overlook that the VAST MAJORITY of prostituted women want out.

            2) Abolitionist feminists DO, in fact, acknowledge that a minority of women in the sex trade report positive experiences. However this does not in and of itself indicate that “empowerment” is being had.

            It is dishonest to position these two stances as equal, because they clearly are not.

          • Me

            Lol @ “sex-radical” and repression of sex. Stopping fucking is the most radical thing most men could do sexually, but I guess that’s not in your definition of “sex-radical”. It would also be a radical thing for men to do politically. Just Imagine The Consequences For Women. Clearly we men are sexually repressed.

            You could say that by writing that I show that I just don’t understand sexual repression. Or when Lela writes “your imagined ‘repression of sex'”, she doesn’t understand. But you’re wrong. We understand better than you. I’m proud that at least I’m beginning to understand and I’m not totally blind anymore.

            There’s a lot to say about sex, sexuality and this culture, about toxic mimics and how abusers don’t have identities and how abuse doesn’t produce them, but all of it is already out there by a lot of great authors like Dworkin if you want to learn. If you want a broader and better perspective, it’s already in the very good responses women here have made to your comments. But why am I trying to explain this and justify my first comment? I shouldn’t have to.

          • Lela

            Jason’s statements are interesting, in that I don’t think he actually understands that radical feminist women have commonly personally BEEN through sex-positivism and sex-radicalism and found these to be thoroughly unsatisfying, in the way of offering any tangible *radical* political results for women. Worse, many have found these to be very convenient smokescreens for the machinations of patriarchy. It’s all very radfem 101 and it would benefit Jason and his buddies to read up on it, but of course, they’re already invested in not knowing.

            Me, it’s so encouraging that there are men out there such as yourself who have not only read but actually comprehended women like Dworkin. Keep on doing what you’re doing.

          • Meghan Murphy

            @Lela – so true! I certainly went through a hope-for-feminist-porn phase during my undergrad, a look-for-empowerment-in-unlikely-places phase. Turned out to be bunko. Radical feminism is where you end up if you don’t want to settle for the fun & sexy/lazy version of ‘feminism’.

            If I’d started this blog ten years ago, it probably would’ve looked a lot more like Feministing/Bust/Ms Magazine’s blog, etc.

          • marv

            Both conservatives and liberals are fixated on sex. Conservatives want to limit it to marriage and liberals want freedom from inhibitions. A sensitive and creative observer exposes a deeper reality that transcends facile opinions.

            On the whole sexual liberation is a misnomer. It postulates that sexual expression is an essential aspect of self-realization – an intrinsic human need and right. What a superficial understanding of human liberty. The misconception is a learned liberal mantra that has been drilled into our heads for decades. It has become such a longstanding tradition that many thoughtless people never question it. Uncritical adoption of sex liberation leads inevitably to simplistic and distorted perceptions. It demonstrates a mentality that only scratches the surface of an enriching life.

            If we can’t banish the term I propose we give it another interpretation: liberation from sex (under current patriarchal circumstances). It would mean unshackling ourselves from the social brands of men and women to be truly liberated. Sex and having sex would become extraneous features of social life. The difference would be living deeply instead of clinging to shallow orthodoxy. For the time being I feel like a fugitive on the run from the bondage of liberalism (and conservatism).

            Recognition in itself won’t change the tyranny of liberalism and its counterpart but it can be the beginning of sanity and collective action to undermine it. When you realize your consciousness has been conditioned by these doctrines it is emancipating and dismaying at the same time. You may breathe a sigh of relief to know the truth and at once a groan of sorrow because of the sheer overpowering magnitude of the ideologies and their harms. This is the contradiction we face. Every authentic heretic knows what this means. Luckily I am running with the right crowd. Kudos to all slaves on the loose.

          • Lela

            Marv, you have this great ability to swing right in there and illuminate, within a few paragraphs, the entire lobe-exploding context we are operating within.

          • marv

            Thank you Lela for your gracious reply. All I know is what I have been taught by remarkable feminists like yourself. I could never take credit for their/your originality. Indebtedly.

    • Me

      Jason, if you don’t want discussion to get out of hand, do get to the points you’re trying to make and don’t start with three paragraphs of character attacks on feminists.

      A lot of crucial topics end up never having “actionable data”, because a) no evidence is often enough, b) societies are actually complex to study, c) by design there are no fields to study how things like economics tie into social policies, d) puke at most academics. How does a society produce innumerable studies supposedly to help make good policy decisions and get so utterly fucked up? If there is no data on the Nordic model as you again seem to suggest, then people who care have to go by what they feel is right and work from there.

      On the other hand, if I take your “no data” argument seriously, then why don’t we stop every harmful thing based on the precautionary principle? Apply it universally. I’d actually like that. No, I would very, very much like that. We could just do it, right? Pull the plug, make it happen. Stop the wars, stop it all. How about tomorrow? Let’s cut the power, stop the nukes, shut down the tar sands and I’ll hear from you in what, two or three years when … oh wait, where do we meet again? Or do you think the guys working in Alberta would give you a lift while you drop by to shut the place down and send them home? That’s just silly. Please stop suggesting our view of reality is utterly stupid like that. If that’s what we have to defend against, if we have to keep proving we’re not morons, it’s a waste of time and it can go nowhere.

      No matter what advances, reprieve, or, horror of horrors, victories and corresponding utter defeats for patriarchy women try to reach, the men of power, including the media, the courts, the foundations funding their choice of supine NGOs, will try to punish women just for trying, more so if they might succeed, and will try to punish other women if that’s seen as helpful, as it often is. That’s is something to take seriously, and if you genuinely see how for example Meghan is not taking that seriously, please say so and give good advice.

      • Jason Congdon

        @Me:

        I don’t think I made three paragraphs of character attacks on feminists, though I offered a few examples of feminist arguments that have undermined their own goals because they’ve overstated their position, or the evidence, or some such.

        Good advice?: Argue responsibly and constructively. Know and be respectful to your opponent. Don’t misrepresent things to score points. Strive to create cooperation instead of fomenting conflict, particularly among feminists who happen to take a different approach from yours – in the long run, they’re going to be better allies than political conservatives even if it means ironing out some major differences. Etc.

        I am not suggesting anyone’s “view of reality is utterly stupid”. I am not suggesting Meghan is taking anything less than seriously, though sometimes when she curses, I laugh, and am reminded that she has a sense of humor even when she’s being deadly serious.

        Regardless one’s position on abolition or the Nordic model, radical feminists of all stripes have very good arguments to make, and I don’t think it’s necessary to overreach to make your case.

        • Me

          So you do not have anything to say beyond what is already obvious to people here, and you don’t own up to using exactly the same sort of bullshit tactic you keep accusing everyone of here. I strongly disagree with what you do, and what you keep describing as “cooperation” really means co-optation into some no-win “cause” that I’m not even sure what it is, which is precisely the point.

          • Jason Congdon

            @Me: I don’t know what’s “already obvious to people here,” and I’m not clear on what “bullshit tactic” I’m accusing other people of while deploying myself. Can you please clarify? What is it that I do that you disagree with so strongly, and why? Is it so unreasonable to suggest that the Nordic model might be the epitome of co-optation: a move undertaken in the name of feminism while operating against both feminist values and female persons? I’m arguing that it’s imperative to consider the evidence and arguments about the matter critically rather than promoting the policy credulously. Is my skepticism “already obvious,” or merely unwelcome?

          • Meghan Murphy

            @Jason — the Nordic model is the “epitome of co-optation”?? It is not “a move undertaken in the name of feminism while operating against both feminist values and female persons”. It is a FEMINIST MODEL. Supported by FEMINISTS. It is a model that aims to create a feminist and egalitarian world. Are you seriously arguing that feminism is co-opting itself? Or that feminists are co-opting feminism? What ‘feminist values’ are you arguing the Nordic model works against, exactly? The idea that men don’t have the right to access female bodies for a fee?

            If we are working towards an eventual end to prostitution (which is a ‘feminist’ concept), this is the ONLY model that does that. Period.

          • Me

            No, I can’t clarify :) Sorry.

  • Madmarianne

    On a side note, please can somebody clarify the nature of the objection to Meghan’s use of the term “prostituted woman”. Would “female sex worker” have been ok? Just wondering.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Do you think I am not aware of the reasons/meanings behind the language of ‘prostituted women’ vs. ‘sex worker’ in this conversation? This isn’t the first time I’ve engaged in these conversations…

      • Madmarianne

        Oh sorry, you misunderstand me. Please don’t take offence. I am the one who hasn’t engaged in these conversations before, which is why I asked the question. It was a genuine query.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Ah. Sorry for being defensive. ‘Prostituted women’ tends to be used in order to describe the unequal power relations involved. ‘Sex worker’ tends to be used in order to represent prostitution as ‘a job like any other’ (to put it simply).

  • Insolence

    Jason, just because you dismiss the Norwegian women who spoke with prostitutes and gathered their testimonies as too incompetent to have their research considered anything but trash doesn’t mean the rest of us agree. I’ve read the report and come to a different conclusion than you about its worth.

    I won’t throw out the painstakingly gathered testimonies of 123 prostituted women because you think you know more about what their lives are really like than the Pro Sentret women who spoke with them. I’m going to listen to what those 123 prostituted women have to say despite you telling me to ignore them.

  • sporenda

    Bobchaos: “Some factories are sweatshops, so all factories must be closed, even the ones who treat their workers well. That is the abolitionist position in a nutshell.”

    As was underlined above, working in a sweatshop for money is not the same level of abuse as being raped 15 times a day for money.

    And there might be some factories that treat their workers well, but there are no prostitutes who are well treated by all of their johns, because what the john buys is not just sexual intercourse, it’s sexual abuse: the right to impose degrading, dangerous (unprotected sex) or painful sexual practices, the right to be insulting, rude and humiliating (money thrown at her, or thrown on the floor, calling her names etc), to be threatening, brutal, even violent, in short the right to debase her through enforced sexual acts.

    And by debasing her, the punter confirm his own superior status as a man.
    Prostitution is not really about sex it’s about men (even the powerless)feeling powerful by forcing women to submit to them sexually.
    It’s about violation, forcing the woman to do things she doesn’t want to do.
    The fact that the prostitute doesn’t want them is precisely what some johns enjoy.
    If men could be forced somehow to be respectful, polite, considerate and decent to prostitutes and treat them as human beings, the number of johns would dwindle to almost nothing.
    To self described sex workers advocating a thorough sanitizing of prostitution so that it becomes “destigmatized” and seen socially as just another job:
    how can you believe such deluded nonsense (except for the fact it gives you hope and makes your present situation more tolerable)?
    It makes as much sense to hope for respectful johns and non-degrading, non dangerous prostitution as to envision ethical slavery or non-violent war.

  • https://twitter.com/jasoncongdon Jason Congdon

    My goodness! I wasn’t trying to bait people into evincing my point that conflict-based communication is part of the problem, but:

    @Vouchsafer:
    Regrettably or not, ’tis true: I can be a pedantic bore! But this is no proof of my embodiment, my masculinity, or my entitlement – anyone can be a pedantic bore, right? Meanwhile, you take but a fragment of my sentence to “prove” that, and I think you miss my point in doing so. On the other hand, you affectionately call me “hun”, which makes up for everything :) The rest of what you say seems reasonable, but I would suggest that it the onus is on everyone – privileged, marginalized, and everywhere in between – to understand and take responsibility for their culpability in producing and reproducing the world.

    @BK:
    I assume that you’re attempting to mock me, as opposed to running down the people you name? Either way, your humour doesn’t appear to reflect or refer to my posts.

    @Insolence:
    I am not dismissing the Norwegian and Thai women who did the ProSentret research, and I’m not sure how you reach that conclusion. Quite the contrary: I am suggesting that their words and their report be taken seriously, which means representing them fairly. Don’t forget, the original piece by Samantha Berg called the report’s authors “Liars!” – an assertion which is dismissive if not libellous – and I’m merely suggesting that the mistaken claims in Berg’s article should be acknowledged and corrected.

    I realize that discussion threads like this tend to be argumentative, but each of these responses to some degree relies on misrepresentation to make a counterpoint. What good does that do? Who’s interest does it serve? The risks of such a strategy often outweigh the rewards.

    • http://ambi-irrevens.blogspot.co.uk/ Martine Votvik

      But you are dismissing the prostituted women represented in the report if you fail to acknowledge that physical violence had been reduced.

      I’m not familiar with Samantha Berg, but if she is calling ProSenteret liars, be aware that this is not the same as dismissing the testimony of the prostituted women. ProSenteret are well known lobbyists for legalization and they twisted their findings to be able to claim that violence had actually increased.

      ProSenteret is living on borrowed time, Norwegian politicians are becomming aware of the way they have abused money allocated to helping prostitutes to lobby for legalization and discrediting law.

    • Tam Dao

      “I would suggest that it the onus is on everyone – privileged, marginalized, and everywhere in between – to understand and take responsibility for their culpability in producing and reproducing the world.”

      Glad you think so. Here are some emailed examples of how the sex industry markets women and girls as fuck hungry animals it’s fun to humiliate and hurt:

      ce urinating pussy pics/movies
      nude pictures of my little sis jenny
      Thirsty for cum
      young & doing it for the 1st time
      this cutey spread her legs wide open for us
      It Was Bloody
      tiny chicks huge dicks
      Crazy Girls MAKE it fit
      Cum Swallowing Blondes
      Jizz guzzlers
      why get a pro, get a first timer
      Hidden shower cams
      Small town sluts
      Tight hot teens
      Filthy animal love
      100%free H0rnY eboNy girLs
      Petite women try to handle these MonsTer C0ck
      Tight hot teens
      Watch Me Pickup My Friends Mom And Screw Her
      Watch How I get My Friends Mom To Suck On My
      Riding and blowing big Dicks for the first time
      bathroom camera
      B!g T!tty BL0nde Wh0re
      Completely free dirty teens
      Where the D!ck G0es
      Blonde Hardcore models get Slammed
      teenagers with little B cups
      Make Her Choke On Your Huge Knob
      Watch These Sloppy Teen Girls Get It All Over
      Check Out These Amateur Teen Sl-uts Begging
      Check Out These Sleeping Teen Girls Being Scr
      nude teen stars (describes the girls, children)
      Stupid…Blondes get slapped..in the Ass)
      chicks face looks like a glazed donut
      Seduced….Blondes get Abused
      wild lolitas
      naughty schoolgirls
      s e e these hoes take it deep
      Check Out These Amateur Teen Sluts Begging
      Watch These Hidden Shower Cams Of Hot College)
      Drunk..College girls..get taken.Advantage
      Hot Teen Lesbian Threesomes After Mom Leaves
      these frea’ks do anything
      Dirty,Amateurs,
      Nasty ButtSluts take it in the Ass!
      Shocking hole stretching
      AdV..Mature Blondes.sucking.
      You get to see this girl have a dickSlurpee
      Bend over my pretty wife for no money
      Make Her Bleed After You Smack Her Coc-kpit
      Nasty..Asian Teens..bent Over
      Desperate..Mature Blondes..do anything

      Today you can leave off educating Feminist Current on how it’s doing feminism all wrong and spend your time admonishing the sex industry for its lack of harmonious conflict resolution and respect for others. Let us know how they take your voluminous suggestions for how everybody can get along and build a better world by holding hands together.

  • marv

    It appears as though abolitionists and liberal reformers live in separate cultures, countries or planets. If sexuality is at its core is a power relation of gender disparity then prostitution whether voluntary or involuntary is violence. If sexuality is seen as existing in a state of gender equality (the view from Mars), then whether prostitution is non-compulsory or coerced depends on the individual to decide. The latter view is the masculine standpoint even when it is adopted by women – male liberalism applied to females.

    It would be a very arrogant and presumptuous stance to position oneself as an arbitrator between these rival sides even though this is not intended – the rational male who wants opposing groups to put aside their animosity towards each other in order to come to a practical and fair resolution. I can equally imagine a white male cajoling the Idle No More protestors and the federal government that they both have to take “responsibility for their culpability in producing and reproducing the world” too. He, the moderate enlightened eclectic trying to help the opposing camps come to their senses while scrutinizing the antagonism from above in his advantaged condition. The final resolution would be a middle-of-the-road type of colonization in that mindset.

    In a society where pornography and the hyper sexualization of women and girls rules how could any form of prostitution not be a reflection of this ideological/political FORCE? Are there no limits to male social blindness and pompousness? Prostitution No More even if it doesn’t please the individualism of the dominant and dominating view.

    • marv

      I meant to say, “sexuality at its conditioned core….”

      I am not asserting any biological predisposition to unequal sexual relationships.

  • sporenda

    Jason: “the particular form it takes (hyperbolic, binary, and riven with conflict) is unhelpful to building the kind of coalescent social movement required to effectively deal with the many and varied causes of what suffering occurs in sex work.”

    “Coalescent social movements”, we need more of those.
    The bosses of Walmart should coalesce with their workers to alleviate the suffering and extensive exploitation experienced by the workers.
    The victims of racism should coalesce with the KKK to effectively deal with the many and varied causes of racism.
    Raped women should coalesce with the rapists to solve the problem of rape, battered women should coalesce with their batterers to put an end to battering etc etc.

    There can be no coalescence between the powerful and the powerless; if it happens, it can only end up in the latter being ripped off even more.
    Like when battered women are told to undergo counseling with their batterer: double whammy.
    the problem now about coalescence in order to solve the problems experienced by prostitutes is that many of those who are supposed to coalesce are either causing the problems directly–by using or exploiting prostitutes- or indirectly by supporting men’s right to do so.

    A ruling class never gives up its priviledges willingly. Your posts are politically naive and intellectually confused to the point of being hilarious .

    • Jason Congdon

      @Sporenda:
      I appreciate that you find me hilarious; it makes for a nice contrast to the previous objection to my pedantic tone. As someone who has heard more than once that I could be more funny, I thank you. On the other hand, your claim that I’m politically naive or intellectually confused is one that must ask you to explain, please and thank you.

      • MLM

        “On the other hand, your claim that I’m politically naive or intellectually confused is one that must ask you to explain”.

        Don’t want to speak for Sporenda on this but isn’t her claim already largely explained by the preceding examples used to make the argument?

      • sporenda

        You ask me to explain why I see you as politically naive and confused, here is why.
        On topics like abortion, the intrinsically abusive nature of prostitution, rape, etc, men’s opinion are usually naive, uninformed and besides the point.
        When they are not openly condoning the abuse.
        In other words, either they don’t know and they don’t really care, or they are abusers themselves.

        I get annoyed when men give their opinion on sexual abuse/prostitution, telling women what prostitution is really like and what should be done about it.
        Your opinion on any form of sexual abuse is by definition irrelevant because you will never experience what rape is, you will never experience being penetrated X times a day for money, you will never be battered to death, or sexually harrassed at work nor in public places.

        According to UN stats, 1 in 3 woman worldwide has either been battered or raped: abuse by males is something all women have to deal with.
        Not only it will never happen to you, but since it’s a given that these abuses are only done to women, you will never even know the fear women have to live with.

        So, to be absolutely clear, you don’t know a thing about what you are talking about, you don’t have the slighest idea of what it does to a woman’s body and mind to “work” as a street prostitute.
        Still, that doesn’t stop you from proposing unrealistic and dangerous solutions about “coeslescence” between the abusers and the abused.
        I said you were naive, it was a polite way to say you are way out of league here and do not have neither the direct experience nor the knowledge of facts that would make your opinion differ from typical mansplaining.

        The feminist organization I worked for at some time was open to men. The only ones who didn’t underestimate the extent and reality of sexual abuse were men who had been victims of sexual abuse themselves, like my friend X…, who had been sexually abused by catholic priests from age 8 to 13.
        He understood what it was about–you don’t.

        • Jason Congdon

          @Sporenda,

          Thank you for trying to explain, but to be honest, it feels like you’re misrepresenting me. I never commented on women’s experience of abuse, did I? And I never said anything about a coalescence between abusers and abused people. I said that the enmity between abolitionist feminists on one hand and harm-reductionist and sex-radical feminists on the other was part of the problem. Your interpretation only makes sense if you’re suggesting that harm-reductionists and sex-radicals are “the abusers and the abused”.

          “Mansplaining” is a cute epithet, and I can appreciate that my pedantic or academic tone plays into that, but it’s also a sexist way of derogating someone – your argument boils down to suggesting that men, by definition, cannot contribute anything worthwhile to this conversation. If you’re going to dismiss me out of hand, shouldn’t that be based on the content of my comments rather than things you surmise based on my gender?

          • Me

            It’s precisely because of men like you that a term like mansplaining has come to be and is tied to the male gender in the first place. You do the good work of tying the “man” into the “splaining”. You also just tried to mansplain away your mansplaining.

            It’s absurd that you suggest your comments are being dismissed out of hand or because you’re a male. Have you actually considered the time people here have spent responding to you and taking you seriously? Just at the level of simple logic, the time and effort spent by others means you were not dismissed out of hand. Or maybe everyone here is just making excuses and you’re the only one whose contributions are making any sense? Again, even to entertain that thought is typically male-specific entitlement-based behavior that you refuse to be called out on by trying to mansplain what you do.

            It’s both self-contradictory and false when you write so:

            “I said that the enmity between abolitionist feminists on one hand and harm-reductionist and sex-radical feminists on the other was part of the problem. [Sporenda’s] interpretation only makes sense if you’re suggesting that harm-reductionists and sex-radicals are “the abusers and the abused”.

            Firstly, you create two groups, A) abolitionist feminists and B) harm-reductioninst and sex-radical feminists, thus putting the latter in the same category. Why do you then not posit A and B against each other as the abusers and the abused, but do that to two parts of the B instead?

            Secondly, Sporenda’s interpretation also makes sense insofar as abolitionists and “harm-reductionists and sex radical feminists” have different goals that may be fully or in part mutually exclusive. It is not necessary to extend the categories of the abusers and the abused over to the groups one is talking about to make a point about said groups. Sporenda’s comments also make sense if she is trying to suggest that you gloss over actually existing antagonisms between groups of people or genders, either fully or in part, and that you do that in a pattern typical of men. Her comments could also point out that you use language that doesn’t reflect the reality of power relations in this world, by providing unambiguous examples of related if not necessarily equal fallacies for you to think of. These are my interpretations of what sporenda may or may not have been trying to say, and the fact that I found several interpretations quite unlike yours proves that it is false when you say “sporenda’s interpretation only makes sense if…”

            In my view you have been doing this very same routine from the beginning, which is what I strongly disagree with (and see, I could explain!, but I doubt you’ll get it). The result is to muddy the waters and create divisions and arguments that cannot be resolved while claiming to try to do the opposite. Dialogue with you hasn’t resolved that, so I tell myself if I doubt why does he do that, I should observe the result. Are you another passive-aggressive male pacifist who can only be appeased by abject submission? It apparently does not induce any feelings of shame or having been rebuked to be faced with as much criticism as you have got, that you invite the same criticisms repeatedly? My reaction would have been to at least shut up and most likely to ask if others minded if I still participated by reading.

          • Me

            Oh, and by the way, Sporenda’s use of “mansplaining” was not sexist, but your dismissal of her use of mansplaining as a “cute epithet” was sexist.

          • http://www.freesoil.org Aletha

            At the risk of piling on Jason (is he inviting this to subvert the discussion, complaining of being misunderstood?), I have to say, in some ways you remind me of Dalhousie University Professor Michael Goodyear, with whom I had an extensive debate on this topic on my blog after I gave up on the Ms. blog. I thought at the time that the discussion might be worthwhile, though he and I had so many points of disagreement, since he was at least civil and seemed genuinely interested in finding some common ground. He has been doing outreach work to prostituted women and thinks he is an expert on the subject. He thinks most of the trouble with prostitution is due to the laws against it, and the stigma attached to it. He is a longtime ally or colleague of Laura Agustin, and recently started following the work of Melissa Grant. The discussion on my blog ended abruptly when he made some statements that I felt crossed the line, and I let him have it. For instance, when I questioned if he was saying that sex not mutually desired is not necessarily rape, he opined that to “extend the definition beyond that of forced penetration” trivializes the act of rape.

            If that was not bad enough, he also made these astonishing statements:

            “As you know there are strong voices that have conceptualised sexual exchange as wrong, as a form of violence, as degrading, and as a blow to gender equality. But on the other hand there is a huge body of thinking which finds no basis for this, including virtually everyone in academia. One is a belief based on social construction, the other is empirical knowledge. That makes it hard to have a dialogue. There is no empirical data to support the former point of view.

            Who would not denounce the objectification of women – or any other group?”

            I could not believe this man calls himself a feminist. Was that last question impossibly naive, or willfully blind, especially in the context of a discussion of prostitution? Who knows. He contested my contention that johns pay women to be sex objects, having insisted sex slavery was unrepresentative of sex workers, and the concept denied their agency. Ah, academic postmodern hell! But as bad as all that was, what really took the cake for me was this: “We are the only people offering some care and support.” We, meaning his outreach group. As per usual, feminists are invisible. What incredibly arrogant BS. So the moral of this story, Jason, is perhaps you could take a more careful look at your allies and opinions. They may claim the mantle of feminism, but I think this professor revealed his true colors.

  • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

    There’s absolutely a war on sex trade workers by feminists. First of all feminist want to “support ” Sex trade workers from a position of leadership.I remember years ago Megan Ellis wrote the PINK PAPER reflections on demand for NAC. She appointed her self an expert on the sex trade , because she toured a red light district in Europe . Basically it was her reaction to the sex trade as a very privileged daughter of a Judge and a lawyer her self. She failed to mention those minor details. She had actually spoken to 1 yes sex trade worker . And yep that sex trade worker was told what the feminist line is.
    There was no feminist outrage while women were being butchered in the downtown eastside . A couple of individual women did write letter to the editor . VLC was amazing with support , DFD provided safety for demos.
    There were no banners at our demo’s… A TAKE BACK THE NIGHT was held in the downtown eastside through the tenderloin stroll .POWER AND The Downtown Eastside Women’s center asked the organizers to change the route and we were told that the march was in support. Take Back The Night is held on the 3rd Friday of September .And women should take the night off . The week before welfare cheques come out .Friday night the busiest night. PLEASE REMEMBER PROSTITUTION IS A POVERTY CRIME . The marchers left , sex trade workers left to deal with the angry men . 2 women (not sex trade workers)were attacked at the end/back of the march .
    Rape Relief claimed of on there website that one of their wins against prostitution was that they got Craigslist to stop taking ads from escorts / sex trade workers . Women are safer working from ads than on the street. There’s some accountability /SAFETY with ads… Feminist continuously target the free lance part of the sex trade the women not controlled by pimps ,brothel owners…Feminists don’t go after pimps, abusive johns . Or offer access to shelters , services …
    Wanna get women out of the sex trade ,OFFER SOME THING BETTER like a job . Affordable housing , child care , transition housing , respectful access . Stop telling us about ourselves .

    • Meghan Murphy

      Are you OUT OF YOUR MIND??? “There was no feminist outrage while women were being butchered in the downtown eastside” There was and continues to be OUTRAGE over the missing and murdered women. Are you living under a rock??? Who do you think forced the RCMP to be accountable? Women. First Nations women, in particular. As you may have noticed in my article (did you actually read it?), Aboriginal women’s groups in Canada support the Nordic model and oppose legalization.

      Who do you think it is that were monitering the inquiry?? Women. Feminists. VANCOUVER RAPE RELIEF.

      “PLEASE REMEMBER PROSTITUTION IS A POVERTY CRIME” — What, exactly, do you think I meant when I said that criminalization of prostituted women equates to the CRIMINALIZATION OF POVERTY?

      WHO do you think has been advocating and continue to advocate for “Affordable housing , child care , transition housing”??? Feminists. WHAT DO YOU THINK VANCOUVER RAPE RELIEF IS?? A transition house.

      Holy Christ. Is this the garbage you all are spreading around? No WONDER. NO FUCKING WONDER, Grant writes the stuff she does.

      Christ on a motherfucking cracker.

      I am officially losing my mind.

      In-fucking-credible.

      • marv

        It seems as if some people (or many) derive sadistic pleasure from mentally torturing radical feminists. It is very hurtful and infuriating to see. We stand with you in a fortified unbreakable bond.

      • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

        I’m talking about all the years before the inquiry . The years the women I stood next to were being murdered.1986 -1997 .The years before Pickton was arrested When the police dropped me off in Stanley park without my shoes in middle of the night . The years why the police would shine the spot light on me not allowing me to get a cab , on a bus , go to the washroom , get a coffee, for speaking up. When I spoke in the house of commons on the rape shield law and how it effected Sex Trade Workers, and was harassed , set up for a arrest. When I was told that I should be careful , because I would be just another dead whore. The years where very very few paid attention . While the women were being murdered .Not after pickton was arrested. Who the fuck do you think pressured the police ? It was POWER . Marie Arrington and myself were spokeswomen. I think I know what the fuck I’m talking about .
        Legalization does NOT Make women safer .It’s about controlling us and more importantly our income . It make US IN SEX TRADE more vulnerable to exploitation .The government essentially becomes the pimp. Women are told to go to brothels before they can apply for welfare in Nevada .Women also have to stay at the compound available for lineup 24/7 . Time off is when she on her period .In Holland the rental fees for a room in red light zone are over $1500 for 24 hours. Those rooms owned by men . Women have to work 24 hours straight and go beyond their personal limits in order make the rent.
        I know what I’m talking about . I was there before it became a popular issue . So please educate yourself before spewing off .

        • Meghan Murphy

          Why on earth are you so intent on misplacing blame, over and over again?? This is exactly what I wrote about. The police ignore violence against women. MALE violence against women. And you blame feminists?? Talk about the fucking backlash, man.

          Also, I’m totally confused. We agree that legalization doesn’t help women??? Who are you arguing with?

          • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

            Feminist do attack women in the sex trade. Going after women being able to advertize and stay safer. Maybe your confusion comes form lack of understanding of the sex trade. Understandable since feminist continue to support from a position of leadership and expertize without inclusion . Personal attacks on women who dare to disagree .

            Why is it that when feminist get called on their behavior , it gets labelled as a backlash against feminists . Are all feminists above criticism ?

            My focus is on ending all violence .Including women battering their partners , both in straight and lesbian relationships.

          • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

            We do agree that legalization doesn’t help women decriminalization does , but that’s not the feminist line.

            So it was a supportive move to have TBTN though the stroll ?
            Is it supportive to support johns because they’re personal friends of feminist ?collective members ?
            Is it supportive to say women don’t need access to transition houses because they make lots of money? Or because transition houses are just for “normal” women ?
            Was it supportive not to show up at any of the demos?
            That’s what we are arguing about . Or am I bashing feminists ?

          • Meghan Murphy

            Whaa? “The feminist line”?? Re-read the article… I think you’re confused.

          • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

            No I disagree with you. In your mind that makes me confused . I know you’re the self appointed expert, and accountablity for your comments doesn’t work for you . Taking credit for work you clearly haven’t done doesn’t work for me . Why not write about something you know ? Instead you tried bulling me comment like this one

            “WHO do you think has been advocating and continue to advocate for “Affordable housing , child care , transition housing”??? Feminists. WHAT DO YOU THINK VANCOUVER RAPE RELIEF IS?? A transition house.

            Holy Christ. Is this the garbage you all are spreading around? No WONDER. NO FUCKING WONDER, Grant writes the stuff she does.

            Christ on a motherfucking cracker.

            I am officially losing my mind.

            In-fucking-credible. ”
            Thanks a fine example of inclusion and support. ATTACK Women WITH WITH LESS POWER THAN YOU …fucking self serving bulling … or should I say academic pimp .You exploit the poorest of women , so you can spew your crap. Shame on you .Do you take pride in all the women you continue to silence .

          • Meghan Murphy

            But I don’t advocate for legalization??? Abolitionists advocate to decriminalize prostituted women and criminalize johns. This conversation is getting nutbar.

            Your comments don’t make sense, I’m afraid. And yeah, I get mad when people spread bullshit lies around. I also get mad when people comment on articles without reading them.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Feminists don’t ‘go after’ or ‘attack’ prostituted women. They ‘go after’ businesses that promote the exploitation of women and they ‘go after’ pimps and johns. The feminists you speak of and many of the women leading the abolitionist movement are women who were prostituted. I find it incredible that you all insist on ignoring this. If you want to end violence against women you need to name the problem and name the perpetrator. Feminists are not committing violence against women.

          • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

            Ah actually they are I know of at least one women that was battering her lesbian partner while working at a rape crisis center . How about the feminist who work on VAW but hit their male partner , just saying. Or the son’s who have lived off the avails of prostitution ?

            SORRY YOU’RE SO DEFENSIVE .Thank-you for making it clear there’s no room for for our voice in YOUR MOVEMENT .
            Cheers

            Cheers .

          • Meghan Murphy

            I’m sorry but what does this have to do with anything? Has anyone here denied that women can be abusive too? Yes, it happens. It isn’t women who are, by and large, beating and raping and murdering prostitutes. It’s men.

          • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

            Well Meghan you’re the one who said that it’s not feminist who are committing violence . I was just responding to your comment.

          • Meghan Murphy

            It’s not.
            1) Violence against prostituted women is committed by men. To argue otherwise is ridiculous and delusional
            2) The exception doesn’t make the rule. Yes, abusive women exist. Just because something exists doesn’t make it systemic. The issue of male power and patriarchy is a/the key issue when it comes to violence against women.

            When, like, 99% of violence against women (and, in fact, most violence against men is also committed by men…) is committed by men, to argue that ‘women do it too!’ is irrelevant. No one denies that it happens, they deny that it’s systemic.

          • MLM

            “there’s no room for for our voice in YOUR MOVEMENT”.

            Can I urge you please, please to read the article without bias.
            I promise you Meghan is arguing against the academic pimps – and taking a lot of shit for doing so.

            Your anger about the defence of exploiting women is completely understandable, but I assure you you’re directing it at the wrong person – from everything I’ve ever read on this site she shares it. I’m pretty sure you are actually on the same side here.

            The Nordic Model being argued for criminalises the johns and not the prostituted women (as Meghan pointed out). I’m confused by your posts as well but it does actually sound like you want the same things, chiefly an end to violence against these women and an end to the exploitation of the poorest most vulnerable women in the equation.

            Could you please at least consider the possibility that you are attacking a potential ally and not an enemy before you take this any further?

          • Meghan Murphy

            Thanks @MLM. And honestly, I’m sorry for losing my shit. I feel like I wrote an entire article responding to these accusations Snezana made, and it was completely ignored. I also get pretty choked when underfunded, feminist organizations like VRR who have been working with and for battered women for decades are accused of ‘attacking’ women.

          • MLM

            Totally understandable. I have nothing but respect and admiration for the way you handle yourself considering the barrage of abuse you and other abolitionists get from all sides. It’s ridiculously unfair.

            And it just goes to show what a great job “sex work” lobbyists have done to demonise feminists and abolitionists, and to muddy the waters to the point where people who want exactly the same things can wind up pitted against each other.

          • http://bonerkilling.blogspot.ca BK

            I love how every time you say that “feminists don’t want women to be criminalized” or “feminists don’t think women should be threatened by cops or pimps or johns for any reason and should have exit programs available, as well as social services, healthcare etc if they desire to access them.”

            I’m starting to wonder if they are reading anything you have written…

            Unbelievable…

      • http://bonerkilling.blogspot.ca BK

        Thank you for responding to this so coherently because my brain is exploding all over the place ATM…

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  • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

    Yep that’s true . And we have no/or very little resources available .

    And we have feminists attacking us . Horizontal hostility.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Feminists realize there are few to no resources available. Which is why they advocate for resources. Tirelessly. Pimps and johns aren’t advocating for universal daycare or exiting services or for an accountable police force or for funding for women’s shelters and transition houses. Feminists are.

      • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

        Meghan , here’s my problem .
        1. I’m sick and so fucking tired of “feminists taking credit for work they NEVER did.
        2. Taking a leadership role without direction or accountability from sex trade workers, or any other group of women for that matter .
        3. Feminists take funding to fight violence against women , but do very little if anything thing to support sex trade workers. Or even have access to feminist services.
        4. The nasty verbal abuse , attacks if sex trade workers speak for themselves .
        5. Feminist are NOT the experts on our lives. Stop acting as if you speak for all women.Or know whats best for us.

        I know I’m wasting my breath , you’ve appointed yourselves as experts . And of course you all are above learning anything form any group of women.

        • Meghan Murphy

          “feminists taking credit for work they NEVER did.”

          Like whom?

          “Taking a leadership role without direction or accountability from sex trade workers, or any other group of women for that matter.”

          Like whom?

          “Feminists take funding to fight violence against women , but do very little if anything thing to support sex trade workers. Or even have access to feminist services.”

          1) Like whom?
          2) You realize that any and all feminist organizations are barely hanging on due to lack of funding, right?

          “The nasty verbal abuse , attacks if sex trade workers speak for themselves.”
          Yep, we’re all sick of this.

          “Feminist are NOT the experts on our lives. Stop acting as if you speak for all women.Or know whats best for us.”
          And you are not the ‘expert’ on any other woman’s life but your own. I don’t proclaim to speak for all women. I am part of a larger conversation that has been building over decades, among thousands of women and feminists. I’ve learned everything I know from other women, from other feminists, from past generations.

          • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

            “Taking a leadership role without direction or accountability from sex trade workers, or any other group of women for that matter.”

            Like whom?

            There was and continues to be OUTRAGE over the missing and murdered women. Are you living under a rock??? Who do you think forced the RCMP to be accountable?

            Out and out lie! You took credit , did nothing.

            Stop re writing herstory.

            I’m done . listening to your lies . I will not be bullied . or silenced.You make me want to puke , with all your lies .

          • Meghan Murphy

            Uggggggggh. What?? I took credit for what? What are ‘my lies’? Honestly I’m completely confused.

          • Me

            Maybe when feminists finally win and the reality changes, there won’t be so much anger and a sense of having been betrayed by them anymore. Often there’s more anger at those who didn’t save you, than at those who abused you, even if (and sometimes especially when) they tried and failed.

            The other odd thing is that you get blamed for trying to act like a savior, but in reality what the other may expect of you and how she wants to relate to you can be primarily as a savior, so long as that’s somehow made psychologically acceptable. Actual mutual cooperation may be too scary, because it can require a level of vulnerability (to many things, but to betrayal especially) that is not acceptable.

          • stephen m

            Might this dialog with Snezana Kairn Mladenovic be an example of the effectiveness of the propaganda spread to prostituted women by the men who profit from prostituted women?

          • http://bonerkilling.blogspot.ca BK

            we’re all confused together!

        • Bet

          I was politically active in Vancouver in the era that SKM speaks of-and her points about lack of support from many(tho not all) feminists/feminist groups is true. POWER (Prostitutes and Other Women for Equal Rights)was the organization that repeatedly tried to get attention focused on the missing women. Altho’ RR has done and continues to do some excellent work- and they have also made-IMHO-some big mistakes-they did not take the lead from women who were prostitutes and they did refuse to change a march that affected women who were working on the street. SKM’s experience is lived, real and valid-her anger is rooted in some very hurtful experiences. I think it would be useful to focus on her points-on what needs to change…and…lets really work to be kind in our responses.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Lived experience is valuable. I can’t figure out what SKM’s points are, though. Nor can I figure out what it is she’s responding to in my article…? She commented with vitriol and it was pretty clear she didn’t read the piece and, therefore, it appeared as though she just came here to rage but with no real intent of engaging in any way that could possibly be productive as she wasn’t engaging with any of the points I made.

        • http://bonerkilling.blogspot.ca BK

          Did you, like, read anything Meghan wrote? At all? Straight up, because i’m really starting to wonder…

  • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

    Why are you writing about this what’s it got to do with your work ?Funding . Now it makes sense. Exploitation . Why should pimps be the only ones who profit ?

    2) You realize that any and all feminist organizations are barely hanging on due to lack of funding, right?

    Thanks for the clarification .Sad .I’d still rather turn a trick than exploit someone for personal gain . I guess that’s our difference . Sisterhood is economic in your world . Sad .

    • Meghan Murphy

      You realize that feminist blogging pays zilch, yes?

      • MLM

        Bloody hell. Meghan, I’m so sorry. I feel like I’ve made it easier for this person to attack you and feel terrible about it. I’m really sorry.

        I was just trying to give her the benefit of the doubt, but it seems she’s incapable of putting her bias aside and doing you the same for you – or even just reading the damn article as suggested- so that was clearly unwarranted. My sincere apologies.

        “Why are you writing about this what’s it got to do with your work ?” How about, for one thing, debunking the idea that legalisation is in the interests of women in the sex trade, which, from what you claim, is an opinion you share? Libfems uphold this idea (along with the pimps we are ALL against). And believe me, it’s taking root in the rest of society in spite of solid counter evidence. Surely, you should be supporting the voices who come out against it if you are against it? Your position here makes no sense at all to me.

        “I’m done . listening to your lies . I will not be bullied . or silenced.”

        You have done more than your own share of bullying here, if you are honest with yourself. And considering every comment you’ve made – no matter how unrelated to the original post, or hostile – has been published here, on what basis can you claim to have been silenced? Please examine your own behaviour, and your own deficit in truth.

        If you really cared about serving the interests of the women you claim to represent, then you would make a far greater effort to put your anger aside and make your greatest priority serving their interests. Whether you believe it or not, my last wish in the world is to attack you. But you need to wake up. If you are sincere about ending violence and oppression of these women this is one feminist blogger to be supportive of – no matter what you feel your history is with feminists. Because she is making the arguments against legalisation – the same ones you claim to agree with – to the wider world. That’s not unimportant. We have to stop the normalisation of “sex work” taking hold so that everybody doesn’t stop paying attention to the brutal reality. Is it the whole story? Of course not, but there need to be voices that refute this idiotic idea of “sex as work” that just erases abuse. Don’t you think? Please…

  • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

    YES Meghan , please speak for me . I haven’t been fucked over enough .Thanks

    • Meghan Murphy

      Ok Snezana. You’re just trolling now. Either contribute something useful or go elsewhere.

  • http://www.freesoil.org Aletha

    Unfortunately I have to agree that prominent elements of the feminist movement have contributed greatly to the distortions of the abolitionist position. I say this partly because of bitter memories of when the Ms. Magazine blog ran entries such as attack pieces on Gail Dines for her book Pornland, and Why Decriminalizing Sex Work is Good for All Women (http://msmagazine.com/blog/2010/11/01/why-decriminalizing-sex-work-is-good-for-all-women/), which celebrated the original ruling in the Bedford case, stating “What is notable about the ruling is that the judge refuted ideological and unscientific arguments that prostitution, taken as a whole, victimizes women.” One might doubt this reflected the position of the moderators, but that seemed unlikely to me, since they censored or edited to tone down a bunch of comments on these entries attempting to counter the sex-positive arguments. I know because some of my comments were censored or edited, finally inducing me to give up commenting there. Laura Agustin censored my attempt to correct one of her male allies who thought he revealed my real name on her blog, mixing me up with an old nemesis of his. So here I see abolitionists accused of censoring feminists who take a different position. Same old crap. The reversals are staggering, and I doubt the distortions will ever stop; they serve male entitlement all too well.

    • Meghan Murphy

      The Ms Magazine blog has run more than one anti-abolitionist piece, which is so odd because the women who started the actual magazine are actual feminists (meaning, they are critical of the sex industry and Steinem herself supports the decriminalization of prostituted women and the criminalization of johns). I don’t know how the blog ended up in the hands of the ‘sex-positive’/liberal crew.

      My comments and others have been censored on several of the mainstream feminist sites for making abolitionist arguments, for using terms like ‘prostituted woman’, for challenging the pro-sex work discourse, etc. While there are a few trolls out there trying to pretend as though I’m censoring comments from folks that disagree with me here, that’s bullshit (and they know it). It takes a lot for me to delete comments or ban commenters and I almost always give them fair and public warning.

      I delete misogynist comments and comments from people who are obviously trolling. Not comments that simply ‘disagree’ with me.

      The enthusiasm with which sites like the Ms Magazine blog, Feministe, etc are willing to delete counter-arguments and challenges to liberal feminist arguments is extremely disappointing and shapes the conversation in a bizarre and dishonest way.

      • http://ambi-irrevens.blogspot.co.uk/ Martine Votvik

        I’m also surprised and disappointed with the policy on commenting on sites like Feministe. They let some long time commenters and contributors off the hook for using really abusive language and derailing and even defend them when people try to call them out on it.
        I was told I just needed to get shgged to get over my prudery when I argued against the normalization of prostitution. Then somebody complained that I was there at all because I had been “transphobic” in a different thread. And then I was banned.

        They banned me for being “transphobic” when all I did was respond to other commenters who kept bringing up inflammatory content. What I did was disagree that the writings of Sheila Jefferies and Janice Raymond could be dismissed as simply hateful drivel. I didn’t even state one opinion of own on the matter except that I had a lot of understanding for that the writings could be hurtful and difficult to deal with.

      • http://www.freesoil.org Aletha

        I do not know what to make of what has happened to Ms. Magazine or its blog. I think it has something to do with who owns it, the Feminist Majority Foundation, which is hard to distinguish from the Democratic Party. It could be argued that I violated their comment policy, though I would consider that quite a stretch, and I know that some of the comments from the notorious pornography apologist Sheldon Ranz, for instance, who loves to call radical feminists sex-negative prudes in league with fundamentalist fanatics, were also blocked. Some of my comments were only held up in moderation temporarily. One of those quoted excerpts from Rebecca Mott’s blog; it suddenly appeared a week later. At one point I openly questioned this, and one of the moderators apologized, explaining that they were swamped, and warning that per their comment policy, ad hominem attacks would not be approved. Considering the vitriol hurled at Gail Dines, me, and others by the sex-positive crowd that was approved, that was a joke.

        I hope that Ms. Magazine thinks they are simply trying to be balanced. I did note in my parallel commentary on my blog that they ran an ad for Pornland in the Spring 2011 issue, in which Robin Morgan said this: “Dines brilliantly exposes porn’s economics, pervasiveness, and impact with scholarship as impeccable as her tone is reasonable. This book will change your life. Ignore it at your peril.” So I would have to say all is not lost at Ms. Magazine; perhaps its internal conflicts mirror those of the feminist movement. I have been extremely tolerant on my blog, only censoring obvious spam. I get lots of that, and my blog was one of those temporarily put out of commission by Anonymous, but for some reason I have not had much trouble with trolls.

        • Meghan Murphy

          I imagine they are trying to be ‘balanced’ and find the problem is more with the blog than the actual magazine, and therefore, it is the fault of whomever is running the blog there. It’s disappointing, and I’ve pointed out (as I’m sure many others have) to them how disappointing it is to see such weak arguments coming from what was once such a radical, revolutionary magazine. From my perspective they are destroying Steinem, et al.’s legacy. Sad.

          • http://www.freesoil.org Aletha

            I agree on this topic the problem is more with the blog. The moderators were a few volunteers trying to handle a lot of comments in their free time. It seems the blog was meant to be more of a big tent for feminist discussion. I wish Ms. could have stayed independent. The perils of going mainstream. Do not get me started on that; too far off topic.

  • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

    Meghan Murphy Says:
    February 8, 2013 at 1:05 pm
    Are you OUT OF YOUR MIND??? “There was no feminist outrage while women were being butchered in the downtown eastside” There was and continues to be OUTRAGE over the missing and murdered women. Are you living under a rock??? Who do you think forced the RCMP to be accountable? Women. First Nations women, in particular. As you may have noticed in my article (did you actually read it?), Aboriginal women’s groups in Canada support the Nordic model and oppose legalization.
    Who do you think it is that were monitering the inquiry?? Women. Feminists. VANCOUVER RAPE RELIEF.

    Monitoring the inquiry was after the fact . Ironically there was some funding for groups to participate . As I said before there was NO Feminist support while the murders were happening . There was support from the lesbian community . But NOTHING from groups fight VAW. POWER was against legalization since the 80’s . When John Dixon from B.C Civil Liberties was calling for red light districts , and POWER ( Prostitutes & Other Women for Equal Rights )was opposing it , pointing out that it ghettoizes women .Rape Relief thought it was more important to keep BCCL as an alia . Rather than supporting our position . I can give you dozens of examples , just like that one ,if you would like me to list them .
    Those of you who are thing OH my god this is another attack on Rape Relief . Nope .The reason I am talking about Rape Relief is that Rape Relief is claim ing work they didn’t do or support . There’s no other “feminist group working to end VAW “ claiming they were supporting sex trade workers . My issue is that you’re rewriting our herstory .
    That being said Rape Relief has done some great work fighting violence against women . Especially when it was without funding .There’s no other group that has worked with men so well,` House funding committee , Men against Rape .

    “PLEASE REMEMBER PROSTITUTION IS A POVERTY CRIME” — What, exactly, do you think I meant when I said that criminalization of prostituted women equates to the CRIMINALIZATION OF POVERTY?
    RR organized TBTN apparently in support of sex trade workers ,with total disregard that it was effecting women ability to work that night , the week before welfare . Even when asked to change the route . RR respponce was that women should take the night off . As if it was Rape Reliefs decision to make .
    WHO do you think has been advocating and continue to advocate for “Affordable housing, child care , transition housing”??? Feminists. WHAT DO YOU THINK VANCOUVER RAPE RELIEF IS?? A transition house.
    Holy Christ. Is this the garbage you all are spreading around? No WONDER. NO FUCKING WONDER,
    Disagreeing & holding you accountable for what you say makes it garbage ? Where were you when this was happening ? Well one of us was there
    Grant writes the stuff she does.
    Many of us agree that Feminsists have attacked women in the sex trade . Just like you are doing. Bullying with that nasty tone .

    “Christ on a motherfucking cracker.”
    Your religion is a private matter IMO
    I am officially losing my mind.
    Agreed .

    In-fucking-credible.

    No I think you’re fucking uncredible . I think you blogging to gain credibility , but I have no idea where your info come’s from .

    • Meghan Murphy

      Sigh. Ok, Snezana, you seem to have some kind of personal bone to pick with VRR and I’m not comfortable with you posting what equates to gossip about the organization here.

      Regarding my ‘blogging to gain credibility’ — ok… Should I be blogging without trying to gain credibility? I don’t understand what your point is. I provide links and references in my articles in order for people to easily see where I am getting my info.

      Your points are convoluted and lack any factual basis.

      This isn’t productive. If you’re just trying to find somewhere to vent, can’t you do it somewhere else? The things you say don’t seem to be related to anything I say in the article.

      I’m just giving you a warning that, as per my comments policy, I’m not going to post comments that are irrelevant to the post at hand and I’m not going to post comments that spread gossip or are slanderous.

  • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

    I still don’t understand… why is this happening? Why are people trying to shut down discussions about the exploitation of women? I’ve had that happen to me a couple times (from women!), but I just laugh it off. But it seems to be so widespread. It just boggles the mind! I understand the general cause is the Patriarchy, but it’s just mind-boggling why people would decide to try to shut discussion down.

  • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

    This isn’t about VRR .This is about feminist claiming to support STW’s by speaking without accountability or direction from STW’s . Attacking yes attacking women when women speak up for themselves . Somehow women are reduced to being confused , trolling , co oped … that serves to silence women in the sex trade . Women’s experience. POWER was against legalization since the 80’s . Legalization gettoizes women ,30 years later you all finally support that position . When feminists support criminally charging the men who purchase sex , it just means the prostitution is driven under ground .Under ground is where things like snuff movies happened. ASK AND BELIEVE all women’s experience.Isn’t that what feminism is Believing women and how patriarchy effects us.
    It would be really really nice if feminists asked themselves how to be inclusive .RESPECTFULLY .
    Not just monitoring monitoring the murder trial that was getting world wide attention .
    Power over women is not empowering women .

    • Meghan Murphy

      @Snezana – I continue to feel frustrated by the fact that you seem to be ignoring both what was written in the original article as well as comments made here. Abolitionists are accountable and take direction, in part, from women who worked in the sex industry. I learned about the abolitionist movement from women who had exited. That isn’t to say everyone is in agreement on the best way forward, in terms of legal approaches, but you are creating a dividing line that is not as solid as you imagine it to be.

      Also, you keep bringing up legalization even though abolitionists oppose legalization. I don’t support legalization. Most people who have commented here don’t support legalization.

      Finally, feminists don’t have ‘power over women’. Men have far more power over women’s lives, particularly women in the sex industry, than any feminists do. Your insistence on misplacing blame and avoiding naming the perpetrator seems both telling and unproductive.

    • Me

      Could it be that inclusion and invitation of honest criticism of feminism was a part of why Meghan wrote her article in the first place?

      I thought that was kind of why Samantha Berg wrote her article on the Pro Sentret study and the Nordic model too.

  • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

    I have more to say , women in the sex trade need viable options .Women don’t end up on the street because they have better options .Especially street level prostitution .Taking away / targeting the only way many women have to survive makes women more vulnerable . Let me explain. Police respond by arresting women whenever there’s an out cry / media attention . Women end up in darker corner ,have to work longer hours , no one to see what car she got into , she doesn’t have time to see what’s inside the car .IE door handles removed … men prepare for rape and murder. Robert Pickton was not the only one committing murder. At least 3 different MO according to the police in the 90’s.
    What you as feminist say and do effects women in the sex trade . Good intentions and all , mean shit without inclusion , accountability to and from the women you claim to be speaking for.

    • Lotus

      Snezana- you still are not getting it.

      “Police respond by arresting women whenever there’s an out cry / media attention.”

      How many times do abolitionists have to say they are not advocating for the police to arrest prostituted women.

      Abolitionists want police to arrest the pimps and johns- the MEN. MEN are the ones who rape and murder prostituted women. MEN. MEN not FEMINISTS. And unfortunately, cops are mostly MEN too. When they first changed the law in Sweden, they also had problems with the police. So they had to go back, educate them, retrain them, and most importantly, CHANGE their attitudes about women.

  • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

    Meghan , men are tricks for the most part.Men are not speaking for STW. Some feminists like you speak as an authority on the sex trade from a position of leadership without direction or accountability from STW’. When all you’re really doing is picking and choosing what to quote.And for that matter what opinions will be heard . You said that it was feminists who pressured the police to solve the murders , you got called on it .IMO Monitoring a trial that has world wide attention is nothing more than jumping on the band wagon. If you appose legalization what is that you as a feminist suggest instead? That’s one of the reasons I keep bring it . The other is that is wasn’t a feminist position for many many years . Feminists fucking slammed those of us who opposed legalization . Instead they supported BC Civil liberties who said well it was for the betterment of society . That’s the history like it or not . There’s no reason for STW to trust academic feminism . That needs to change. And yes feminist who work on VAW do have power over women .Such as who has access to transition houses. STW are not welcomed into transitions houses for the most and that should be said publicly . Let’s not keep pretending that options exsist when they don’t .

    • Meghan Murphy

      This conversation has been and continues to be ridiculous. You keep making sweeping statements that aren’t accurate. Keep at it, I guess, but I don’t feel like having the same conversation over and over again. It’s a waste of time.

      All the best,
      Meghan

      • bet

        many of SKM’S statements ARE facts: there are transitions houses who do NOT accept prostitutes, there was little outcry in vancouver from organizations working on VAW, VRR did ignore requests to change a march route..I think it would be useful if you listened to the concrete statements from someone who was there-and yes, there is probably more shared ground than is immediately obvious-

        • Meghan Murphy

          I have listened to many women and know many women ‘who were there’. VRR doesn’t turn away prostituted women. If other transition houses do, that’s a shame. There certainly could have and should have been ‘shared ground’. Unfortunately the conversation was going nowhere. SKM was leaving the same confusing, ranty, comments over and over again.

  • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

    Meghan , I’m not surprised . My statements are true , my experience .My actual work as opposed to academic feminist theory.

    Cheers

    • Meghan Murphy

      Unlike…all…the…exited…women’s…experiences…? And…all…other…women’s…lives…and…experiences…? Ok. Got it. Thanks for joining us and best of luck to you.

  • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

    Thank -you Meghan . I’m sure this won’t get posted , but saying it anyway. ‘

    Here’s the irony while claiming that feminist don’t attack sex trade workers and activists , You did exactly that. And further more when you didn’t like what was said ,you claimed it wasn’t true . Thank -You for proving the point that feminists attack women in the sex trade. Even worst you silence women, whos lives you’re writing about . Shame that you fear dialogue , inclusion .

    • Meghan Murphy

      I haven’t ‘attacked’ you Snezana. Nor have I ‘silenced’ you. Stop trolling.

  • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

    Meghan I understand you make your living off of writing . Free lance writer. You may not be paid for blogging , but it does effect your reputation / credibility . It’s important to protect your income , You shouldn’t put yourself in a position of desperation . Men win when we fight each other. So enjoy your privilage … even if it’s off the backs of the poorest women .

    • Meghan Murphy

      Yes, it affects my reputation/credibility. Mostly I blog myself right out of jobs. I also subject myself to tons of attacks, insults, slander, harassment, etc. That’s what happens when you say unpopular things. Feminism doesn’t pay well. Especially the kind of feminism that isn’t pro-sex industry.

      You know nothing about my background or income.

      In conclusion, go fuck yourself. I’ve put you on the ban list. Congrats! A rare feat.

  • http://www.beasister2asister.org Samantha Inesta

    I completely agree with you. I believe that progressives and the far left are turning the tables to fit their own agenda. It’s really sad to see that other women are buying into it and writing deception about the real work that’s being done. I agree that there shouldn’t be divisions between us, that’s part of my mission in my organization. Maybe if some of them read the legislation that we are lobbying for to “PROTECT” and not “HARM” women, maybe they would get a clearer understanding. I think it’s insane to imply that we are the ones creating the rapes and violence against these women when on the contrary-it’s actually them with there destructive articles and leftist/capitalist ideology.

  • http://blamerbushfire.wordpress.com Bushfire

    I just read most of this comment thread, and wow, what a mess! Can I add that this isn’t the first time I’ve come across the “feminists vs. sex workers” dichotomy and it’s a rather silly one because it assumes that no feminists are sex workers and that no sex workers are feminists, when actually these groups can and do overlap. Feminists aren’t just an elite group of university students, we’re a varied group of people from all walks of life. It’s interesting to me that SKM has a real problem with “feminists” keeping prostituted women out of transition houses- I am not at all familiar with the policies of Vancouver shelters but I’ve never come across a feminist who would keep the prostituted away from getting help and I certainly would not condone such a thing. If the word “feminist” means someone who advocates for women, which I believe it does, then there’s tons of feminists from all walks of life, within the sex trade and without, who either help the prostituted or who want to help them, and the idea that it’s a war of “feminists” versus “sex workers” is just not true. If I lived in Vancouver, I would actually want to know if there are any shelters who are denying access to prostituted women because I would want to change that policy. SKM has an idea that “feminists” are an elite group but no, we’re for the most part quite regular people, usually not with much power or much money, not all of us took women’s studies in university, not all of us went to university at all.

    • Meghan Murphy

      @Bushfire “I’ve come across the “feminists vs. sex workers” dichotomy and it’s a rather silly one because it assumes that no feminists are sex workers and that no sex workers are feminists, when actually these groups can and do overlap. Feminists aren’t just an elite group of university students, we’re a varied group of people from all walks of life.”

      Exactly! This feminists vs. ‘sex workers’ has never made any sense.

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  • Oonagh

    Wait, so “there is no feminist war on sex workers” and they don’t think they know better than sex workers what’s good for them, but they do think that it’s a practice that needs to be stopped whether the participants are consenting or not and they equate consensual sex work with domestic violence and oppression? Something about this math does not add up.

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