Why I won’t be supporting Canada’s Next Top Progressive Startup, Ricochet

Ricochet has been making some big waves in Canadian media over the past month since it launched a crowdfunder and began work to raise $75,000 to help build “a new model of digital journalism in the public interest.”

Ricochet, we’re told, will be “a counterweight to corporate media” and is “building a new model of media: independent, progressive and grassroots” that will “transform the Canadian media landscape.” Sounds great, I’m sure we can all agree.

The question I asked myself when I first caught wind of the project, co-founded by Ethan Cox and Derrick O’Keefe was, of course, “what about the women?”

I have a healthy and well-founded mistrust for the male left. History shows that women and the feminist movement have been abandoned over and over again by our progressive brothers. The radical feminist movement quite literally was launched, back in the 60s, in response to women’s disappointment in the New Left, who continually ignored and treated our sisters as second class citizens. Women tried to join the fight for equality and liberation only to learn that their own liberation didn’t count. Women were still expected to take on traditionally feminine roles: cooking, cleaning, secretarial work, reproduction, child care, and the work of caring for men and their sexual desires. Progressive men have long been our rapists and abusers, too.

In 1967 Shulamith Firestone got fed up after, at a demonstration, Marilyn Webb got up to speak, only to be met with shouts of “Take her off the stage and fuck her!” Firestone took the mic and told the men this “was the end.” She followed with a letter to the Guardian:

“We say to the left: in this past decade you have failed to live up to your rhetoric of revolution. You have not reached the people. And we won’t hitch ourselves to your poor donkey. There are millions of women out there desperate enough to rise. Women’s liberation is dynamite. And we have more important things to do than to try to get you to come around. You will come around when you have to, because you need us more than we need you… Fuck off, left. You can examine your navel by yourself from now on. We’re starting our own movement.”

And here we are, 50 years later. Fighting the same battles.

No dis to the feminist movement, we have much to be proud of, despite the fact that many of our hard-earned wins are being hammered away at by both the right and the left. We still have to fight to keep our reproductive rights and our funding for women’s shelters and rape crisis lines. We’re still begging for sexual assault and domestic abuse to be taken seriously. We’re still demanding accountability from the police and the Canadian government in terms of the missing and murdered women. We’re still looking for universal childcare and support for single mothers. And, of course, here in Canada, many of us have been fighting for new prostitution legislation that prioritizes gender equality, addresses the issue of race and class oppression, targets exploiters and violent men, and works towards a world wherein women have real choices, beyond selling sex.

When I asked myself, with regard to Ricochet, “what about the women,” I found the answer just a few days later. They had brought on women as contributors and editors. But the founders and the editorial board appeared to have chosen feminists who were overtly biased in terms of the prostitution debate. I could tell where this was going and my heart sunk. Our brand spanking new lefty media platform that promised to change the landscape of Canadian media with all it’s radicalism and progressive values had already taken a position on women and the sex industry and, disappointingly, it was a neoliberal one. It appeared as though they would be taking a position in favour of legalizing or fully decriminalizing prostitution — a position that leaves women in the hands of the market, their equality, dignity, and survival to be dictated by supply and demand, and is rooted in individualistic notions of “free choice” and personal empowerment instead of social, political, and economic equality.

I contacted one of the founders and editors, someone I respect and consider a friend and colleague. I was frustrated and angry. And tired. I’m just so fucking tired. I’m tired of watching these Marxists, these socialists, these anarchists, these oh-so-revolutionary folks leaving women out in the cold. I’m tired of them taking radical positions on just about everything else but the sex industry. Because, you know, we can change the world, we can build a new society — one that is fair and just and free and egalitarian — but we’re going to keep a class of women on hand for bjs.

I told the co-founder that I was disappointed to see that Ricochet had chosen feminist contributors who are so heavily biased on the prostitution issue. I told him that he was welcome to his own opinion, even if it differs from mine, but asked why that meant promoting manipulative or dishonest articles, why that meant “launching yet another progressive media platform that only promotes one particular neoliberal/liberal version of feminism and erases the views and arguments and work of the rest of us.” I told him that he needed to be accountable, on some level, for how he dealt with and approached women’s issues and feminism when launching a lefty site. I said I thought it was “lazy and cliched when men fall back on this ‘cool girl feminism’ where we’re, like, so fucking open minded about ‘sex work.'” I said “It doesn’t have to be your opinion but I would hope that you’d give the women’s movement a fair shake on this one.” And I told him I felt betrayed.

So why I felt so angry to see that one of the very first articles published on Ricochet promoted the decriminalization of pimps and johns and called for the death of Bill C-36, a bill that explicitly targets pimps and johns, names prostitution as exploitative and gendered, and states that “the objectification of the human body and the commodification of sexual activity” causes “social harm,” I don’t know. I know I shouldn’t be surprised. But I was livid. My hands shook. I tried to compose myself. I hope I’ve managed to write this with some composure.

As I wrote for VICE recently, Bill C-36 is not perfect. But, if passed, it brings us far closer to a model that works towards an end to prostitution, a goal that should be a priority for anyone who cares about women’s lives and social equality. It is my opinion that you cannot call yourself a feminist or a progressive if you don’t also wish to create a world wherein women are not bought and sold, where there is no such thing as paid rape, where men don’t believe they have (or legally have) the right to sexual access to women, where women aren’t forced to sell themselves on the streets or in brothels in order to survive.

Women deserve better than that. And I will not be supporting yet another progressive media platform that is so overtly and unabashedly biased on this issue. Because it isn’t simply about this issue. The faction of feminism that advocates for the full decriminalization or legalization of the sex industry is also the faction that argues that “sex work” is simply an individual choice, an empowered choice, a “job like any other.” It is a faction that has adopted the language of “sex work” — a term invented and promoted by the prostitution lobby (which is, let me remind you, a patriarchal, capitalist industry) — and turned it into some kind of deluded, politically correct, empty, manipulative, faux-labour rights term.

If you can’t imagine a world without prostitution, then you can’t imagine a world without colonialism, poverty, misogyny, and racism. And what the fuck kind of socialist utopia is that?

I am not asking that the founders of Ricochet or their editorial board agree with me on the best way forward with regard to prostitution law. I am not asking them even to prioritize this issue as I and my sisters and some of my brothers have. I would ask (again) for some fucking solidarity, but I don’t think we’ll get it. What I am asking for is a fair shake. I am asking that they be accountable to our movement. The one we built. The one we have fought and suffered for. I am asking that our lives and interests and struggles be a part of their revolution. Is that too much to ask? That’s not a rhetorical question. I’m asking. And I’ll wait for an answer.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan 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.

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  • This is so great, Meghan. I couldn’t agree more.

    • Whether men are left or right wing the thing that holds them together is their psychopathic view that women and children are things to be used, owned or traded for male advantage. They have the same viewpoint of us as they did of slaves. Progressive? Baby, you aint come a long way …

  • MLM

    A POEM FOR THE MALE “PROGRESSIVE”

    The magic word is “agency”!
    It liberates misogyny!
    Hey, I support equality,
    but not the type that cockblocks me

    You bitches just aren’t feminist
    If you’re not the sexy kind,
    And I’ve got FIRM support to give
    The ones I get behind

    I support the right of any chick
    To suck my cock for money,
    Or empower herself in porn for me
    Fuck that patriarchy honey!

    We all know feminism’s all about choice,
    And no one knows better than me,
    The choice to back girls who still like men on top
    Sounds pretty damned good, you see.

    I’ll call “consent” no matter what,
    Piss off all buzzkill fear,
    It’s easy when my feminists
    Spruik what I want to hear!

    • Meghan Murphy

      Indeed. Thank you MLM.

    • Farmer Plain Jane

      May I share that MLM? Because it’s wonderful.

      • MLM

        Sure, no problem. And thank you for the compliment. 🙂

        • marv

          That is the most remarkable poem I have ever seen, MLM; a perfect complementary match to Meghan’s writing. Both are truly mind-blowing though agonizing.

          • MLM

            Thank you so much, Marv. And I’m total agreement with your praise of Meghan’s writing, which is powerful and well needed.

    • BEST EVER

    • Thankyou for writing this poem – I can’t quite articulate the elation I get from reading it – You are brilliant!

  • SummersAnne

    Why did you reach out to the editor and not the writer of the piece? You could address them instead of going over their head. You could write a rebuttal piece.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Hey SummersAnne,

      I went to the co-founder last week, before this piece was published, to discuss an article he promoted that was, in my opinion, dishonest and manipulative as well as to discuss the feminists he’d chosen to bring on board and their overt bias. It was clear that the bias of the founders was represented in their choice of contributors and that this would, in turn, impact their coverage of the issue. This has happened time and time again on so-called progressive media sites/platforms in North America. It gets old. I also wanted to address the fact that he’d brought on someone who has continually attacked me personally and professionally online, unprovoked and with zero engagement on my part, because of their and my position on prostitution. I felt it made sense to discuss his planned coverage of this issue and his choices in terms of the feminist voices and ideology represented on his site as Ricochet is purporting to be the new progressive voice of Canada. The issue is not with the writer. The writer can have and express whatever opinion she likes. The issue is with fair coverage and representation and editorial choices and biases.

      • SummersAnne

        With all respect, I know the writer personally and it seems like you are writing them off as simply biased and unable to be reasoned with. What does fair coverage entail? A writer for sex worker’s rights and a writer against sex work? Or just your own position? If I was a writer and you had a problem with something I wrote and your method of dealing with it was not to address me but to go to my editor I would feel like I was being treated like a child.

        • Derrington

          Then you fundamentally dont understand the commissioning process of magazines and newspapers. This was a commissioning problem as in both sides of an argument weren’t represented which is an editorial decision, not the writers individual one.

        • Meghan Murphy

          The writer has a right to her own biases — I have no problem with that. I’m talking about the choices made by the editorial board (and the people chosen to be on the board). Why would I go to a writer to try to force her to change her opinion? That makes no sense.

          • SummersAnne

            Are these issues simply a matter of bias, then? I thought feminism was supposed to include a dialogue. Is it just that you’re biased, and that writer is biased, and that’s that? Why doesn’t Feminist Current include articles on the side of sex workers, then? Do you consider your position to be bias as well? Or is this a closed debate where you are right and people who don’t agree with you are biased? Why are people biased against your position?

          • Meghan Murphy

            Of course I consider my position to be a bias. And no, I won’t publish articles promoting or normalizing the sex industry on my site, because feminism. Others are free to be biased in a different way but I feel it is the responsibility of platforms that purport to be the voice of progressive Canada or to cover issues from a progressive or left perspective perspective to cover feminist issues and, in particular, the prostitution debate, in an accurate, responsible and fair way. I don’t expect the writers themselves to be unbiased, nor do I see why I, as a feminist writer, should not take a position.

          • SummersAnne

            Well this is the core disagreement here. Some of your readers seem to think I have very poor reading comprehension, but from where I see it I recognize your feminism as feminism. Your feminism is different from my feminism with regards to your position on my job and whether I have a right to it, but I recognize it as a form of feminism that has a long history. The difference between us is that you don’t recognize my feminism as feminism. That’s the problem I’m having with your piece here. Why are you the gatekeeper of feminism? I mean, I can get pretty furious with you sometimes when you tell people to take my job away for my own good so I can go back to poverty and washing dishes or something, but I still respect your position as a feminist one. I feel like you are acting elitist and are disrespecting Clay by refusing to acknowledge them as somebody who might be reasoned with, talked to, or generally respected as a feminist. If you still disagree with me I guess that’s that. I just wanted to make myself clear that I understood the issues at hand and that my comments here are not out of confusion but rather exasperation that you continue to treat people who disagree with you with such disrespect. If my feminism is not feminism then I have a list of college and university Woman’s Studies teachers in Vancouver you can call out for not being feminists either.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Well “my feminism” is not my feminism. It is what I’ve learned and developed from other women/a movement and from ideology that’s spanned and been developed over 100 years… I didn’t come up with this on my own or out of nowhere… What is “your” feminism? How does it differ from the ideology and arguments I put forth in my work?

            “I feel like you are acting elitist and are disrespecting Clay by refusing to acknowledge them as somebody who might be reasoned with, talked to, or generally respected as a feminist.”

            How are my arguments “elitist?” I have never suggested Clay can’t be reasoned with or talked to — I’m sure she’s very reasonable — but that’s really not the issue here.

            “If my feminism is not feminism then I have a list of college and university Woman’s Studies teachers in Vancouver you can call out for not being feminists either. ”

            Those who promote the decriminalization of pimps and johns, want to normalize the sex industry, and misrepresent abolitionists over and over again (there are many who do this, this isn’t *just* about Clay’s article) are indeed free to call themselves feminist, but I don’t recognize that ideology as being part of an effort to end patriarchy — I see it as a liberal position that prioritizes individual choice and working within a patriarchal system to try to make the best of it rather than challenging the system itself. There are different kinds of feminism, sure, but I guess it’s true that, if at the end of the day, you don’t think patriarchy is a problem, it’s going to be hard to convince me to respect your position as truly a feminist one…

            And again, I’m still unclear on what it is you mean by *your* feminism.

          • lizor

            Here again, you don’t seem to grasp the difference between bias (“Rob Ford bought me a car so therefore I think he’s a great Mayor”), positionally based on personal experience (“I’ve been abused by my father, my brother and my boyfriend, so therefore I believe men to abusive”), and conclusions based on sociological evidence (“I have surveyed multiple studies that show between 1 in 3 and 1 in 5 women will be raped in their lifetime so I conclude that rape is extremely prevalent”).

            You write above : “I know the writer personally and it seems like you are writing them off as simply biased and unable to be reasoned with.” This is bias. You don’t seem to be able to comprehend the structure of Meghan’s critique, because you’re so busy being defensive about this person you happen to know. I really hope you see your way through your personal outrage and begin to understand the broader implications of culture and opinion-making, especially when it comes to journalistic media.

        • lizor

          Wind your neck in, SummersAnne.The problem is with editorial decisions at the board level. There is a significant difference between a journalistic body (which is meant to at least pretend to adhere to journalistic standards) and a personal blog. You don’t seem to understand that, or what the actual issue is here.

      • Bastet

        Hi. They most certainly misrepresented the issues. They refer to the NZ model as an incredible positive which is an outright lie. As an ex-NZ-sex-worker I support the Nordic Model and can absolutely attest that decriminalisation made the industry far worse than when it was illegal. I once wholeheartedly agreed with decriminalisation. I volunteered at NZPC, New Zealand Prostitutes Collective and fought for it. I was one of the consultants for how the laws would effect prostitutes on a real-life level. If I had known then what I know now, I would never have given so many years to the ’cause’. I believed I was helping myself, my friends and my industry. Since decriminalisation sex workers pay is terribly low, violence is up, the brothel makes more money than the workers and has far more power than the workers and trafficked women has skyrocketed. Abuse is absolutely inheremt in the industry. Back in the illegal days, there was no kissing, or unsafe practices. Now johns just negotiate or force to get what they want. They can do this by giving a bad review, effectively cutting off the womans livelihood; complaining to reception and demanding refund which can result in the woman recieving fines equivalent to up to 3 jobs. NZPC doesn’t even have exit strategy help available but they have ‘New Worker Kits’. This angers me so much! My entry into prostitution was as a 15 year old runaway escaping domestic violence. What I needed back then was a safe place to live and financial help. What I got, was an abusive ‘massage parlour’ owner, read pimp; who ‘helped’ me pay for my education, rent and bills. If people truly care about prostitutes, then the real answers are to be found in the elimination of poverty and violence. In the mean time; harm-minimisation means enabling sex workers to work for themselves, recieving 100% of their income, without shift fees, room fees, towel fees, shower fees, late fees (which can be a $1 per/minute), outcall transport fees, laundry fees (despite being told to do the laundry; go figure), fines for complaints, fines for losing a regular client, fines for a room being deemed not left up to standard, fines for messy hair or not wearing nail polish. .. In NZ, PTSD and dissociative disorders are rife amongst prostitutes because of the lack of the most rudimentary of human rights and dignity. Straight from the mouth of an ex-prostitute- It was better when ot was illegal and we watched out for each other.

  • Dear Meghan Murphy, I am an Editor on Ricochet and I respectfully disagree with your assessment:
    http://melissafong.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/5930/
    My response ^

    • Meghan Murphy

      This was the comment you were freaking out about me not publishing fast enough on Twitter and on Facebook?? It’s not a comment. It’s a link. I normally don’t even publish comments that are just links that contribute nothing to the discussion. But SILENCING. Anyway, I’m home now. I am deeply sorry you had to wait what, an hour and a half, for your not-a-comment to be published.

      But ok. Let me help.

      From your post:

      “Bill C-36 won’t stop or deter sex work. Bill C-36 will drive the sex work in unsafe invisible venues that will make the work more dangerous. The Ricochet article states correctly that many academics, activists and sex-workers themselves recognize Bill C-36 to be harmful. However, I think the strongest argument here to be made by Nikiforuk’s approach is that she talked directly to sex workers about this issue and brought those opinions to the fore.”

      There is no evidence that criminalizing pimps and johns makes prostitution more dangerous. Prostitution IS dangerous BECAUSE of pimps and johns. Blame the perpetrator. You, nor Nikiforuk, have any actual evidence to back up your claims. Just guesses, myths, hearsay, and speculation. That is not evidence.

      “I am writing this response because it is clear that you are not informed on Ricochet or the prevailing opinions of the needs of activist sex workers who have described how harmful Bill C 36 will be to the reality of women engaging in sex work.”

      I have been covering this issue for years. I have learned everything I know from exited women, Indigenous women, researchers, experts in prostitution law, and women who have worked the front lines and in this movement for decades. You, on the other hand, are just regurgitating unfounded rhetoric.

      “I am also writing this response because, by saying that ‘The founders and the editorial board appeared to have chosen feminists who were overtly biased in terms of the prostitution debate’, is utterly insulting and denies voice and agency to three women- Clay Nikiforuk, Erin Seatter and myself- who have been involved in Ricochet from the beginning and support the team, visions and work of everybody on board.

      Denying our choice to produce and engage in Ricochet, and assuming that we were just brought on board last minute for a pro-sex worker article, seems particularly unfeminist to me….”

      I honestly don’t understand what you are talking about here. The editorial board is biased. Overtly. As I said. You have just admitted as much. Derrick and Ethan know it. The editorial board knows it. It’s clear the founders are biased. This bias is only insulting to your audience, to women, and to the feminist movement. Not to you. How could the bias of the editorial board be insulting to… your editorial board? The “voice and agency” of the editorial board has elected to be overtly biased in terms of this issue. How do you plan to address this? Why not use your “voice and agency” to remedy it?

      I haven’t assumed you were brought on board at the last minute for any article. I have no idea where you would get that idea. I have assumed just the opposite — that this was a conscious choice from the get go, which happened because of the bias of the founders. The point is that the board is stacked with ONLY individuals who advocate for the decriminalization of pimps and johns and has been since the beginning. This is what is clear and what I pointed out in the article. Again, how do you plan to address this?

      “Simply this, choice sex work, survival sex work, prostitution, escorts and trafficking are NOT the same thing. They shouldn’t be treated in law as the same thing and we need precision with a legal framework for the goal of protecting women- or anybody in sex work. We don’t need blanket laws that will result in increased harm to sex workers.”

      The system of prostitution exists because of and within the context of patriarchy, colonialism, and capitalism. All of it. All of it exists because of male power and entitlement. As feminists, we address the perpetrators of male violence: men. That is why we advocate to criminalize pimps and johns and decriminalize prostituted women. As feminists, we advocate against the commodification and obectification of all women’s bodies. This is not simply about laws — certainly not “blanket laws.” The Nordic model, which is what we do advocate for, is far more complex, comprehensive, nuanced, and well-researched than any other model of prostitution law. It is about changing minds and changing society, unlike laws that regulate and legalize prostitution or a model that fully decriminalizes all aspects of prostitution, which literally are “blanket laws,” and address nothing with regard to society, the context of patriarchy, capitalism, and racism nor do they work towards social equality.

      “Also, you say that you don’t even care for agreement but you want ‘Fucking solidarity’ among progressives- it would have been really helpful if you had practiced that by approaching some of the women to hear why they are involved in and supporting Ricochet.”

      I don’t understand why I should approach women involved who are exactly those who I address in this article? Like, to say what? Everything I wrote here? Everything I’ve ever written? To tell you what you should already know? That you have a responsibility to cover this issue fairly and accurately? Well if you don’t know now you know. Go for it.

      If the editorial board is so uninformed on this debate and this issue then perhaps it should bring on some folks who are informed. If you are informed the bias is intentional. If the bias isn’t intentional then the editorial board is too uninformed to be able to cover this issue in an appropriate way and is unqualified to declare themselves the voice of progressive Canada. Which one is it? You choose.

      Editors are responsible for editorial choices. Make some choices.

      • Ahem– perhaps you didn’t read the end properly:

        “Denying our choice to produce and engage in Ricochet, and assuming that we were just brought on board last minute for a pro-sex worker article, seems particularly unfeminist to me…. My opinion on sex work and Bill C-36 was never even in consideration when we collectively thought of the Ricochet project. The fact that I support both Nikforuk and Seatter’s pieces on the harm Bill C-36 is based on informed-discussion with each of the communities of which we are a part.”

        I guess direct quotes from sex workers are not as good as a Harper-backed bill?
        alright.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Are you new to this issue and to my work? Honest question.

        • Missfit

          This is not about your personal opinion or the validity of your arguments. The question raised here is the fact that the opinions expressed all share the same position on the issue. Why are no counter positions expressed when they are based on anti-capitalism analysis and equality principles (something I thought the left was all about)?

          Personally, I don’t care much for the left movement, which is male-dominated and male-centered. Firestone expressed the problem with the left in the 60s already. Dworkin eloquently wrote on how both the men from the left and the men from the right are clinging to the patriarchy. Men from the left are okay to embrace the word feminism if what it refers to does not threaten gender hierarchy (done by using tricks such as renaming limitations as choices and subordination as empowerment).

        • morag

          “Denying our choice to produce and engage”
          Gah Meghan, you really need to stop using your omnipotent radical feminists powers to “deny women their choices.” Goodness knows how many women-especially sex workers-can’t do the job they love because of you. Don’t you know you’re *oppressing* the women working with Ricochet with your *privilege*? Oh why do you hate seeing women *empowered*?

          • Meghan Murphy

            How did I become so powerful! I’m like a feminist wizard!

          • ozzie

            Yes, morag! This is exactly what bothers me about the ”don’t deny my agency!!” rhetoric from the faux-empowered crowd. Like, if your ”agency” is tenuous enough to completely shatter under scrutiny or by someone simply questioning it, it probably never existed nor had any basis in material reality whatsoever.

        • ozzie

          ”assuming that we were just brought on board last minute for a pro-sex worker article, seems particularly unfeminist to me…. My opinion on sex work and Bill C-36 was never even in consideration when we collectively thought of the Ricochet project.”

          Do you honestly think you would have been brought on board if your brand of feminism was challenging, radical, and uncompromising in the fight against male supremacy and the male entitlement to purchase women as commodities? There are countless women who are more educated, well-read, and articulate on the issue at hand who have done years or even decades of work and research with patriarchy’s most marginalized, yet they were never approached to contribute while you were. Do you think this is pure coincidence and serendipity?

        • Laur

          “I guess direct quotes from sex workers are not as good as a Harper-backed bill?”

          The article contains quotes from two individuals. It is not clear whether the second individual is or is not involved in the sex trade.

          It seems you are propagating your own views, and putting that behind the “voices” of sex workers.

        • Bastet

          Here’s a direct quote from an ex-prostitute in NZ.

          Decriminalisation doesn’t work. It is now even worse than it was when it was illegal. I support the Nordic model!

      • Margaret McCarroll

        ‘It is about changing minds and changing society,,,’ – beautifully put Meghan – this is the truest and most wonderful part of the new legislation – finally, we take a stand on the degradation of women , the subjugation of women , the pornification of everything in society – it is a line in the sand – we won’t take this horrendous treatment any longer – we want something better, more noble, hopeful, purer for all women and especially for our girls growing up in this mess – as for ricochet , surely you intend to cover the abolitionist perspective – ask for the opinions of Cherry Smiley or Rebecca Mott , two highly intelligent and well-spoken women who have exited prostitution

    • Donkey Skin

      Aside from the disingenuous lecturing about the need to decriminalise people in prostitution and provide exit programs (what does she think abolitionists work for all day, every day?), I found this part of Melissa Fong’s ‘rebuttal’ particularly creepy:

      ‘we have to understand how the sex work profession works and how to protect the women who engage in it (yes, both survival sex workers and by choice-sex workers)’

      That term ‘survival sex work’ is possibly the most Orwellian phrase yet invented by defenders of the sex industry, aside from, perhaps, ‘underage sex work’ (aka child rape). The fact that people who claim to be progressives and feminists can deploy it so easily speaks of the deep cognitive dissonance they have concerning the sale and purchase of sexual access to another human being, a dissonance that the term ‘sex work’ itself was deliberately created to foment.

      What does it say about leftists, when they can justify and normalise a situation in which (as the term ‘survival sex work’ acknowledges) people, mostly women and children, are forced to repeatedly endure dangerous sex they don’t want in order to survive?

      What does it say about liberal feminists like Fong and their vaunted commitment to meaningful consent, nay, ‘enthusiastic consent’ as the standard for ethical sex? When, if you have no home and no money, your consent means nothing more than having dangerous, painful and unwanted sex with strangers because your only other option is dying? What does it say about them that they are blithely unconcerned about the fact that untold numbers of men are so alienated from any feeling of humanity for women that they find it pleasurable to use the bodies of women who are forced to ‘consent’ to sex in such desperate circumstances?

      And yet, the phrase. ‘survival sex work’;, which describes just such a situation, rolls so easily, so glibly, off the tongue of ‘intersectional feminists’ like Fong.

      • Meghan Murphy

        What I’m finding particularly “creepy” is the two male founders sitting back and saying nothing/not responding, while letting these young women (who appear to be pretty new to this issue and to feminist debate/discourse, more generally) fight their battles for them.

      • Bastet

        Thank-you. Financial coercion is NOT consent and the true problem is poverty and violence. I can’t tell you how much I wish for people to understand why women ‘choose’ prostitution. When my choice was prostitution and living in a home, studying during the day vs being homeless I defended my income with everything in me. I pretended it was easy and everything was fine. It wasn’t. But what other options were there?

  • Men of whatever political persuasion always bond together on that male issue of pseudo male sex right to female bodies. Male pseudo sex right to have constant sexual access to women and girls is one of the central tenents of mens’ Male Supremacist System.

    Remember the issue is ‘if issue directly negatively impacts on men it is important and real’ but if the issue is about womens’ fundamental human right not to be bought/sold and exchanged between men then this issue is not important or real!

    As usual these pro mens’ pimp industry male advocates are uttering the same old male created women-hating propaganda and claiming ‘wah it is so empowering for women to be bought/sold/exchanged amongst men!’

    Men since time immemorial have always ‘thrown under the bus’ because mens’ rights are human rights whereas we women have no rights – apart from being mens’ disposable/interchangeable sexual service stations!

    • Aaron

      … I’m wondering how male prostitutes fit your worldview? Is it possible that only _some_ people benefit from the “Male Supremacist System”?

      > claiming ‘wah it is so empowering for women to be bought/sold/exchanged amongst men!’

      I don’t think sex work is _usually_ empowering (the reverse I suspect – I’m a scientist so I’d like some statistics) but if you’re so…. vehement about the situation then why don’t you go out & give some sexworkers money? Then they would have to do less sexwork (at least today).

      • Girlsoftheinternet

        Individual level charity as the solution to a structural problem. How very progressive!

        • Aaron

          Would an incorrect (or perhaps dangerous) structural solution be better or worse than individual charity? Before worrying about progressiveness, how about ensuring “solutions” aren’t regressive (like the proposed Canadian legislation)?

          • stephen m

            Sorry – this is a repost here to get it where it belongs

            @Aaron:

            Given that you are a scientist.

            Who has likely put MORE work and real accurate research into understanding prostitution?

            – Ricochet’s writers

            or

            – The European Parliament which BACKS the ‘Nordic model’ and which includes countries which have actually experimented with and currently use the full spectrum of prostitution scenarios.

            No brainer for the Nordic model!

          • Aaron

            Well, that’s logical. Unfortunately, logic was used to prove that larger objects fell faster than lighter ones. Also politics sometimes has a fairly light relation to reality.

            So, I tried googling & I got something on Wikipedia:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution_in_Sweden#Skarhed_commission_and_report_.28Ban_on_purchase_of_sexual_services:_An_evaluation_1999-2008.29_2010

            > In 2011, a research paper on the consequences of the Swedish legislation to sex workers concluded that the realisation of the desired outcomes of the legislation is hard to measure, whereas the law has clearly stigmatised the already vulnerable sex workers.[176]

            > In April 2012 the Program on Human Trafficking and Forced Labor issued a report on the effects of the law, concluding that it had failed in its purpose.[177] In July 2012, a report by the UN-backed Global Commission on HIV and the Law recommended all countries to decriminalise private and consensual adult sexual behaviours, including same-sex sexual acts and voluntary sex work. It specifically pointed out that this also applies to the Swedish model, concluding it has actually resulted in grave consequences for the sex workers even though reported as a success to the public.[178]

            I’d like to note that science doesn’t have to do with logic – you make a guess about what reality is (hypothesis or at worst ideology), then you go & see what reality is (experiment / statistics ideally with control group). Then you modify your hypothesis. Quantum physics completely baffled the people who discovered it (not human-logical at all) but it’s reality.

            I’m also not sure that any of the European countries have _legally_ ruled that (if prostitution is not illegal) sexworker safety has to be a priority in any legislation, as has happened in Canada.

          • Laur

            Aaron, can you tell us why it is so important to you that you argue for the existence of the sex trade? Are you a sex buyer?

          • Aaron

            Nope, I’ve never purchased sex – I just firmly believe that there is already enough legislation on the books to deal with exploitative relationships, people should somewhat mind their own business (Fetlife member!), and that legislation that makes things more dangerous for people instead of safer is wrong.

            > men who would buy sex(ual abuse) from women just GAVE them the money and left them alone?
            Yes, financial domination of various levels by female dominants exists. 🙂 Joke, but true.

            > You’re also making an assumption that the ONLY reason women participate in compensated sexual abuse is for the money. Try self-hatred, feeling you have no worth but as a sex object, feeling the only thing you’re good at is giving blow jobs, and so on.

            This surprised me – I’ll have to think this over. However, as a member of the Scene, I know lots of people (in m/f, f/m, m/m & f/f couples, no less!) that participate in some types of “sexual abuse” for fun. Feel free to chalk me up as a person with my own worldview – people certainly feel that it’s important to comment back at me with their worldviews.

          • stephen m

            @Aaron: We both know you were just cherry picking when you were using the quotes from wikipedia. They may or may not be in completely relative context to the discussion.

            I think you will actually appreciate the following paper and its analysis, pros and cons are discussed. I found it very enlightening.

            Sweden’s prohibition of purchase of sex: The law’s reasons, impact,
            and potential, Max Waltman
            Department of Political Science, Stockholm University, Sweden

            http://projectrespect.org.au/system/files/Sweden's+prohibition+of+sex.pdf

            And of course I have to throw in some material about what is happening in Germany too.

            Prostitution in Germany
            (by Helmut Sporer, Detective Chief Superintendent of the Crimes Squad, Augsburg)
            http://www.scribd.com/doc/184667092/Prostitution-in-Germany-by-Detective-Superintendent-Helmut-Sporer

          • Laur

            @Aaron, well, gee, how about men who would buy sex(ual abuse) from women just GAVE them the money and left them alone? Demanding sex out of women for money is where the entitlement piece comes in.

            Women, by and large, are the world’s poor. Collectively, we own 1% of the world’s property. Not to mention that poorer people are MORE likely to give their money to others in need comparatively with more wealthy people.

            You’re also making an assumption that the ONLY reason women participate in compensated sexual abuse is for the money. Try self-hatred, feeling you have no worth but as a sex object, feeling the only thing you’re good at is giving blow jobs, and so on.

      • morag

        Uh yeah, men like exploiting other men too. That’s nothing new, radical feminists are aware of that. And what have you done lately for women, Andrew? Note that no one here would take you seriously if in your comment you list various charities you donate too, how much you love and respect women, how you hate rape, how you surround yourself with progressive people who never hurt a fly, and then add any variation of “women are ungrateful bitches who don’t acknowledge all that I do for them.”

        • Aaron

          … Are you making a pre-emptive counterclaim against the #notallmen argument? I certainly can’t make all of the claims above – I’m busy living my life, which is not centrally related to women’s rights. However, I surfed to this article, and I was surprised by the first sentence in the comment above:

          > Men of whatever political persuasion always bond together on that male issue of pseudo male sex right to female bodies.

          I realize that there’s quite a gap in time, but (to pick the country I’m most familiar with) in 1929 women were ruled to be persons in Canada. (British Privy Council, probably 100% male). In 1983, marital rape was legislated as illegal in Canada. (Canadian Parliament ~4% female). Behold, men do not always bond together to keep women down. [eye roll, sigh]. Of course, now I guess I’m being nit-picky & male. 🙂

          • morag

            You mentioned male prostitutes in an above comment, and I concurred that yes, men like to exploit other men too. Doesn’t it bother you in the least that the events you cited (female personhood and marital rape) are so fucking recent? Let that sink in: women have only been given legal personhood in Canada for ~80 years. It’s only been 20 years since a man could legally rape his wife. The fact that you used these as a “gotcha” moment to somehow disprove men’s systematic oppression of women shows that you are a disgusting human being with no empathy or sense of history.

          • Aaron

            [sigh]. Before one insults someone else over something written, one should really read what has been written. Literally:

            > Behold, men do not always bond together to keep women down.

            No more, no less. The statement does not disprove systematic oppression; rather it says the opposite – that systematic oppression does not occur in every single instance, as the author of the first comment plainly said. The 1983 event was particularly relevant.

            > Men of whatever political persuasion always bond together on that male issue of pseudo male sex right to female bodies.

            What I should have _also_ said but is pretty much implied is that what progress that women have made has not always been in spite of men but has sometimes occurred with the help of men – in these cases, legal rulings & legislation. Please _read_ what I have said & take note that I am not claiming that men helping women through changing the system(s) happens often – I am saying that it _has_ happened. Therefore the first author should not be throwing “always” around. – In my personal opinion the 2013 ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada was another such ruling in favour of women(s safety), which the Conservative government is attempting to walk back.

            To be 100% clear, I am not calling you illiterate – I am saying that you did not follow what I was saying, which I could have stated more clearly.

            As for my empathy & sense of history – I worry & care about things and people all the time, but I don’t think I can make much difference to the broad sweep of history. Can I stop people from contributing to climate change or bring down atmospheric CO2 even 1 PPM myself? David Suzuki can’t do it, and he had a tv show. However, global climate change is a very real threat to our civilization & food production – history shows that many local civ crashes were due to local climate change. If our global agricultural system develops serious problems – well, no one will be building a utopia if they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
            Incomplete list of civ crashes:
            Mayans
            Akkadian Empire (Mesopotamia)
            Old Kingdom of Egypt (pyramid builders)
            Anasazi

            I also can’t do anything about history – I can only live my life now as ethically as possible. Shall I refer you to my (deceased) grandparents?

          • morag

            It’s unbelievable to me that men can be so condescending and obtuse while at the same time upholding a veneer of intellectual superiority. If you honestly think that systematic oppression doesn’t inform everything wrt to men’s relationship to women, then I suggest you just stay in bed all day since you’ve completeley missed the point.
            And don’t you dare call me illiterate with that obnoxious sigh. You really think there’s something nuanced and ahistorical about a man questioning a woman’s understanding of feminism? I’m studying for my Phd in history, do you really want to mess with me over this?

          • Elizabeth Pickett
          • liz

            It never ceases to amaze me the sheer volume of extraordinarily ignorant and arrogant men who come on these fora with their looonnnngggg BORING, PREDICTABLE, intellectual flatulence.

          • Margaret McCarroll

            morag , Aaron actually looked something up in WIKIPEDIA !!! that and his gender make all his arguments slam dunks – geez glad you showed up Aaron – we were floundering here without your deep expertise

          • Derrington

            Maybe Aaron, if you are living an ethical life, you should stop baiting people fighting for basic human rights for more than half the world’s population (women and children) and do something constructive. After all, Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, Emmeline and Sylvia Pankhurst, et al did not sit on their butts saying ‘I can’t do anything about history’, they got off their arses and changed it. If you can’t do something decent, then at least get out of the way of those of us that are trying to end sexual slavery of women and children for male consumers to pay to rape.

          • ozzie

            ” in 1929 women were ruled to be persons in Canada. (British Privy Council, probably 100% male). In 1983, marital rape was legislated as illegal in Canada. (Canadian Parliament ~4% female). Behold, men do not always bond together to keep women down. [eye roll, sigh]. Of course, now I guess I’m being nit-picky & male. :-)”

            Oh fuck off. Stop acting like men ”gave” us rights when it was first and second wave female activists that relentlessly fought, organized, protested, lobbied and constructed feminist political theory and theories of state that for the first time examined the nature of women’s oppression and sought out women’s collective liberation. If you do some reading, you’ll find that literally every single feminist cause championed by women has been initially met with resistance, derision, or violence from the status quo until politicians had to play along for their own self-interest and self-preservation since these pesky factions of ‘problematic’ women had voting rights.

          • huha

            Oh my! Didn’t you understand? Men recognized women as persons, therefore, women now owe them blow jobs! Feminists are oppressing teh menz.

          • “I’m busy living my life, which is not centrally related to women’s rights.”

            Everything, that’s EVERYthing, is related to women’s rights you proudly ignorant arrogant boy. Will the world soon come to an end unless men stop oppressing women? At this point in human history, yes! Either death worshiping patriarchy ends or life on Earth ends.

  • Lola

    Thanks again Meghan for yet another great post. This needs to be said over and over again: most of those who call themselves left-wing and progressives are quite interested in keeping their porn and prostitutes as a right.

    This reminds me oh so much of the Enlightment period, when guys as “progressive” as Rousseau talked so much about freedom and equality – making very clear that women can never be citizens and don’t deserve any of that.

    • lizor

      “This reminds me oh so much of the Enlightment period, when guys as “progressive” as Rousseau talked so much about freedom and equality – making very clear that women can never be citizens and don’t deserve any of that.”

      Yup. And while these European dudes were waxing on about “fundamental freedoms”, their home nations were reaping the economic benefits of colonial expansion with its terrorism, slavery, resource pillage and so on. It is the perverted roots of liberalism with its continued service to and maintenance of white male supremacy.

    • Meghan Murphy

      There are more important things at hand, right? Also, men need women on hand to do their cooking and cleaning and diaper-changing and to provide sexual pleasure so that men are freed up to do the real political work!

    • morag

      Absolutely! John Stuart Mill half heartedly advocated for female suffrage but placated his friends by saying that once women got the rights they thought they wanted they would return to the home, much like children who quickly grow bored of a new toy. Schopenhauer and Nietzsche hated women and argued that women’s inherent weakness, sensuality, and stupidity made them bareley human. And finally Sartre wrote that femaleness was literally a hole. I love de Beauvoir’s writing but she only cared about women like herself, and left her Jewish students for dead after pimping them to Sartre. Thank goodness for Shulie Firestone though!

  • Aaron

    I found your article fascinating. People still believe that a “socialist utopia” can be built?!? I would definitely support your push for the end of prostitution if poverty was dealt with first – but that isn’t realistic. “The poor will always be with you” – about two thousand years ago & no one has cleared up the fact that there will always be winners & losers. (Yes, I’m an odd mix of left & right wing.) But if the choice you’re presenting someone with is a sweatshop & a near-starvation wage vs sexwork, I’ll be for letting _them_ choose.

    I’ve got a fairly bleak worldview as to whether this global society / trade network will even be around in 50 years – we’ve used up the cheap energy that built North American society to where it is today, and I don’t see where the money will be found to make things more equitable. (The Energy of Slaves is a good book on how we’re dependent on oil to live like historical monarchs.) With declining amounts of energy available + rich people holding onto power like they always have, it just doesn’t look good for anyone – I don’t support it, but I suspect that everyone is going to have their hands full just keeping the utopian gains we’ve made already. I.e.: religious extremists popping up all over the place & making hijabs (Islamic areas) & lack of abortions (Christian areas) mandatory.

    • marv

      Your assessment of climate change and poverty is as sexist as your take on prostitution. You speak of “the poor”, “winners and losers”, “left and right”, “sweatshops”, “trade network”, “cheap energy”, “rich people”, “everyone”, “religious extremists” in completely gender neutral terms. Do you really think women created these classifications along with men? Who invented and controls the cause of poverty and biospheric degeneration, which is capitalism? Or the State apparatus? Or global trade? Or the energy sector? Or rich people? Or religious fundamentalists? Or prostitution? Patriarchy is the origin of all these problems. None can be resolved without abolishing it. You are not alone in your outlook or lack of it. Environmentalists and all conventional thinkers have the same blinders.

  • Here’s a suggestion Meghan. Stop waiting for an answer. Stop thinking of these guys as friends or colleagues. They’re not. They’re just as much the enemy as the right wing. Take a leaf out of Firestone’s book, because your calls for solidarity are falling on deaf ears. It’s not unintentional, on their part, to make sure women keep wearing themselves out waiting for them to come around. You’ll be banging your head against that brick wall until your brain falls out, and it costs them nothing.

  • lizor

    Thank you so much Meghan for this post. I share your visceral upset at yet another media outlet towing the oppressive line. All I can say is that your work fills me with hope and goes a great distance towards fending off the despair I feel over the wholesale embrace of the pro-subjugation lobby. I send you my gratitude and sincere wishes for your own personal sense of well-being. Your courage is deeply appreciated.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thank you lizor. Solidarity!

  • amongster

    honestly, what are you trying to do here, sharing your “bleak worldview”? do you really try to convince anyone here that there is nothing to be done to change this world? don’t you have better things to do?

    “I would definitely support your push for the end of prostitution if poverty was dealt with first ”

    and of course women should wait again for their liberation.

  • Elizabeth Pickett

    “The Left cannot have its whores and its politics too.” — Andrea Dworkin

  • Natalia

    What if they would’ve been only anti-prostitution feminist on the editorial board? Would you be so angry then? Wouldn’t that also be “feminists who were overtly biased in terms of the prostitution debate”? I’m a sex worker and a pro-sex worker feminist. And I understand your frustration. I live it the other way. In some feminist workshops, activities, etc… the feminist who organize them are anti-prostitution. And they teach other feminist who are new in the debate to have the same opinion as them. When I disagree and share my opinion, I feel they don’t listen or that the mock me viciously, because they are so passionate about this debate. Their position is about “freeing” me. However, it does quite the opposite.

    With this mentality : “It is a faction that has adopted the language of “sex work” — a term invented and promoted by the prostitution lobby (which is, let me remind you, a patriarchal, capitalist industry) – and turned it into some kind of deluded, politically correct, empty, manipulative, faux-labour rights term.”

    … how can you feel you’re trying to help MY cause? You are a better feminist than the pro-sex worker?

    I AM A SEX WORKER. And I’ll keep calling myself that. So maybe, I am ” part of a faction of feminism”.

    Luckly, I have a lot of feminist friends and SEX WORKERS girlfriends that share the same opinion as me. I’m just sad that there is another faction of feminism that tries to destroy my work, make it worse, and invalidates my opinion and my experiences.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “What if they would’ve been only anti-prostitution feminist on the editorial board? Would you be so angry then?”

      No. But I also wouldn’t argue against them including alternative views and bringing on board members who didn’t share my views AND I would still expect them to respond professionally.

      “I’m a sex worker and a pro-sex worker feminist.”

      All feminists are “pro-sex worker” feminists. This is to say that feminists are pro-woman. And prostituted women are women. We aren’t ‘against’ prostituted women. We are ‘against’ violent men and the sex industry.

      “I AM A SEX WORKER. And I’ll keep calling myself that. So maybe, I am ‘ part of a faction of feminism.'”

      That’s fine. You are free to identify however you like. I just think it’s important for people to know why, where, and how that language originated.

      Our goal is not to destroy your work or make it more difficult. It is to create a world free from violence and oppression and to create a system that offers women choices beyond prostitution.

      • morag

        I honestly don’t know how you can repeat yourself over and over so patiently Meghan. Natalia, can I ask you a few questions?
        Why don’t you mention men at all in your comment? Do you really think that feminists are causing more harm to you than the men who hold positions of power in the sex industry? To assume that radical feminists are the dominant voice in the sex industry debate is laughable.

        Have you ever considered that maybe you make other women uncomfortable in feminist workshops, such as exited women who are abolitionists? Women like Rebecca’s Mott and Cherry Smiley routinely get death threats. Have any abolitionist feminists threatened you? And finally who here ever said you couldn’t call yourself a feminist or a sex worker?

        • rob

          “and finally who ever said you couldn’t call yourself a feminist or a sex worker”

          the issue here is Natalia would like to be identified as a sex worker, specifically a sex worker that doesn’t believe she is being victimized; AND a feminist. Radicals, at least as far as I know, don’t believe those two things are compatible.

          “Have you ever considered that maybe you make other women uncomfortable in feminist workshops”

          So what would you have her do morag?, not talk about her experiences, simply because they may make others “uncomfortable”?

          • Meghan Murphy

            “Natalia would like to be identified as a sex worker, specifically a sex worker that doesn’t believe she is being victimized; AND a feminist. Radicals, at least as far as I know, don’t believe those two things are compatible.”

            Hmm, what? She can’t identify as a feminist and a sex worker? Says who?

          • rob

            says the people who don’t believe “sex work” can legitimately be called work

          • Meghan Murphy

            You’re new to this, huh rob.

          • rob

            Actually been following this blog for about 2 years, been interested in feminism since my university days; part of the problem, I think is, in the part of the world I’m from (Toronto) the brand of feminism practiced is overwhelmingly (but not exclusively) liberal in it’s orientation, remember this is where the slutwalk movement began. In fact it was the slutwalk controversy that actually brought me to this particular space on the internet. When that cop told York University students to “don’t dress like sluts” to avoid rape and the marches started, the issue wasn’t weather or not women should take back the word “slut” or whether the women participating in those marches were “fuckme” feminists of “fun” feminists, which, by the way, are incredibly disparaging terms to describe lib fems. The issue that the walks dealt with was that men shouldn’t feel entitled to women’s bodies based on their appearance or anything else for that matter, that is the ONLY issue the Slutwalks dealt with, period. Of course, I had heard about radical feminism long before this, and mostly associated it with the anti-porn activism of people like Dworkin, Mackinnon, and such. When the walks first began, the first people to criticize (so far as I noticed) were the usual social conservative types, who either defended what the cop said and or ridiculed the marchers as a bunch of crazed radfem publicity seekers. So when I first heard that feminists were criticizing the movement, my first response was: WHAAAAT!?, and I googled “slutwalk feminist criticism”, the second or third hit was a piece you wrote for this blog, and since that day I have learned A LOT about radfem theory/practice. I had always assumed (in my ignorance) that the problem women have with sex work, such as prostitution, porn, strip clubs and the like was that in our patriarchal society (yes, liberals actually do believe it exists) sex work is almost exclusively geared towards males, heterosexual or otherwise, so of course walking in a women’s shoes, I would be pretty pissed living in a world where everything revolves around HIS gratification. OK so how do we rectify the situation, oh OK, let’s make room for, and encourage women so that they can indulge their wants/desires: porn that appeals to women, strip clubs that appeal to women and such. Then I started following feminist current – holy shit. In a podcast from Ernesto Aguilar’s show a few weeks back where you related Elliot Rogers shooting spree to porn culture , you said something to the effect of: “when you throw money at a woman on stage (in a strip club) what you’re actually doing is putting yourself in a position of power over that woman, you’re propping up male power”. how exactly do I have power over her when I pay her for a service? how exactly do I view her as a less than human object when I clapped as she exited the stage. Does the same apply to women who go to Chippendale’s? if you gave money to a strapping young lad and clapped and whistled at him, do you have power over him? Do you automatically view him as a less than human object, simply because you where turned on by his physical appearance enough to pay him for it? Then I read a piece you wrote entitled “the tyranny of consent” and my head exploded.

            In a piece you wrote last year; “why feminist porn isn’t the answer” you state:

            “Consensual sex happens when both parties desire sex. If one partner does not want to have sex, and sex happens anyway, that constitutes rape (i.e. nonconsensual sex). In porn, those involved are being paid to perform sex acts. They are paid because the sex acts they are engaging in are not desired. Once you are paying someone to have sex with you, it no longer counts as consensual, enthusiastic, desired sex. Yes, you agreed to perform whatever sexual acts — but you did so because you were being paid”

            So are you telling me that no one in the history of paid work, could actually enjoy that work because they got paid to do it?, or are you telling me that’s only the case when anything remotely sexual is involved?

            You know, after you first commented on Bill C-36, and you provided the link to that interview with Kajsa Ekis Ekman, something that she said popped out at me:

            “But what is she consenting to? She’s consenting to the money, not the actual sex. If you say to any prostitute: “You have two options: either you can take the money and just leave or you can take the money and also stay for the sex,” how many do you think are going to stay for the sex? Not even a die-hard defender of prostitution will claim that most will to stay for the sex. Most of them are going to take the money and leave — which goes to show they don’t actually want the sex — they want the money.”

            How many people in the world, whom if given the same choice that Ekman described above, working regular “non-degrading” work, would just take the money and leave, if given the opportunity? She also describes the “lie” of prostitution in that sex workers must pretend their turned on by or enjoy being with their clients when they really aren’t; again that sounds like most every other service industry to me.

            Now at this point, most radfems would tell me “oh you believe in neoliberal capitalism evil, evil!”, which is odd because I’m pretty sure most of you have exchanged goods/services for money at some point in your life without feeling ashamed about it. Let’s face it, if i told you I paid someone to walk my dog the other day, I’m sure you would react a lot differently than if I told you I paid someone to have sex with me. It’s true that class, race, and gender inequality are inter-related in that often/usually those that suffer from one, suffer from another, but that doesn’t mean that those inequalities are mutually sustained, that is just because you have gotten rid of one form of inequality doesn’t mean the others disappear. Feminism (and sorry if this comes off as mansplainy) deals exclusively with the problems of gendered oppression, that is the problems faced by a specific group (females), it does not deal specifically with the problems faced by people that may fall outside of that group, such as racial minorities or the poor. So if you have a problem with gendered violence (and i think we all do), you need to take that up with patriarchy, if you have a problem with people paying for sex, well then you need to take that up with capitalism.

            And just so we’re clear, the idea that so many radfems seem to have , is that just because “sex work” such as porn or stripping is readily commercially, and legally available, liberal feminists believe that those that work/have worked in the industry must have no problems what so ever, and are totally accepted by society at large because you know, we live in a porn culture. Believe me i wish that were the case. I have never understood the position of people (men mostly) who freely admit to using sexual services (legal or otherwise) and then openly disparage those that provided the service as if they were the scum of the fucking earth, probably the worst example of hypocrisy i have ever come across. I was hoping you would mention something about Alyssa Funke, that straight-A biology freshmen who did an amateur porn scene and then committed suicide, after her former high school classmates tormented her about it on social media. The question i ask myself is: if we actually lived in a society where “sex work” was considered work, just like any other job, with those that worked in the industry free to leave without any fear of social stigma or alienation, would Alyssa have killed herself with a shotgun; was it the actual act of being filmed having sex for money that caused her torment, or rather our societies general perception of those in the porn industry that caused it. What kills me is that what she did was %100 legal, she had really done nothing wrong, but that’s not the way most see it. Just because you like watching porn doesn’t necessarily make you “pro-porn”, conversely a liberal feminist who harbours no ill will towards those who participate in, produce, or consume pornography may not themselves actually enjoy watching it

            Finally, i find it incredibly hypocritical, that you as a radical feminist, while constantly having to fend off biased labels about who you are as a person based on your view of feminism, have no problem labeling those (other women) whose views on feminism don’t reflect your own. Oh what’s that, you don’t like being labeled a hairy man-hater, well liberal feminists just love being called “fuckme” feminists or “belle knox” feminists or “cum-on-the-face” feminists or any other petty, disparaging term used to shut down debate.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “So are you telling me that no one in the history of paid work, could actually enjoy that work because they got paid to do it?, or are you telling me that’s only the case when anything remotely sexual is involved?”

            No. I’m telling you that if you’re paying someone to have sex with you that doesn’t constitute enthusiastic consent. An individual could, theoretically, enjoy the work — though the vast majority do not — but it’s still coerced sex.

            “Finally, i find it incredibly hypocritical, that you as a radical feminist, while constantly having to fend off biased labels about who you are as a person based on your view of feminism, have no problem labeling those (other women) whose views on feminism don’t reflect your own. Oh what’s that, you don’t like being labeled a hairy man-hater, well liberal feminists just love being called “fuckme” feminists or “belle knox” feminists or “cum-on-the-face” feminists or any other petty, disparaging term used to shut down debate.”

            I don’t identify as a radical feminist, first of all. I identify as a feminist and a socialist. Second, what labels are you talking about? What are these disparaging terms you are claiming I’ve used? I certainly have never called anyone a “fuckme feminist” or a “cum-on-face feminist”…

          • Abusing women and children physically and verbally is inherant to the sex industry, an intrinsic part of why men go there, to bolster their psychopathology. If you take the abuse out of it men wont buy the sex on its own, the right to abuse the woman or child is what theyre paying for. Radfems recognise this, libfems dont. Why do libfems take part and promote violent attitudes towards other women? Why do you agree with that rob? And dont just ignore what you dont want to hear, its a psychopathic response to a breach of anothers human rights.

          • liz

            “how exactly do I have power over her when I pay her for a service? how exactly do I view her as a less than human object when I clapped as she exited the stage.”

            How exactly does a middle class family have power over a foreign domestic servant living in their home and receive below-minimum wage? The exchange of some cash does not obfuscate power relations. And what does applause have to do with it? Ever been to a cock fight? Does the applause somehow raise the poultry to the same social status as each male human in the audience? Are you really that obtuse or are you being deliberately disingenuous like the hoards of “pro-sex-work” dudes who show up to bog down these conversations?

          • Missfit

            What you do here is equating sex with any other service or commodity. But it is not, especially under patriarchy where sex-based oppression has been maintained through sexually subordinating women.

            Sex is not the same thing as serving coffee or giving a massage,no matter how hard you want us to believe it. If your boss always insist on filling you a cup of coffee, it’s annoying, but if he insists on you having sex with him, it’s called sexual harassment and there are laws against this. In times of war, men don’t force massages on their enemies, they force sex on women (aka rape). So the line that sex suddenly becomes like any other commodity, while it is not treated as such in any other context, is simply absurd. You can’t erase how many girls enter the sex industry, you can’t erase the consequences they endure. You can’t erase how prostitution is entrenched in patriarchal history of gendered power dynamics. Also, you’re certainly not without knowing that sex is tied to violence in our society (and porn does a good job in promoting this association). Men don’t respect women in the sex industry because they want to humiliate, violate and degrade them; it’s part of their enjoyment.

            Also, you said: ‘feminism deals exclusively with the problems faced by a specific group (females), it does not deal specifically with the problems faced by people that may fall outside of that group (…)’
            – these people would be males and no, feminism does not deal specifically with their problems – ‘ (…) if you have a problem with gendered violence (and i think we all do), you need to take that up with patriarchy, if you have a problem with people paying for sex, well then you need to take that up with capitalism.’ I think you don’t understand how intersectionality works.

          • Donkey Skin

            Men like rob are able to equate sex with a service or commodity because they don’t think a woman’s actual desire for sex is necessary to the sex act. It’s the way men have always defined heterosexual sex under patriarchy: women are holes to be fucked by men, and thus their feelings – be they fear, pain, unhappiness, boredom or revulsion – while they are being penetrated are irrelevant. If men actually believed that a woman’s independent desire to participate in sex was a necessary condition for sex to take place, there would be no market for prostitution.

            Rob’s belief that sex is a ‘service’ that women provide to men, like serving food or scrubbing toilets, also reminds me of this quote from Rachel Moran’s ‘Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution’:

            ‘Sexual disgust is as familiar to the prostitute as the smell of coffee is to a waitress.’

          • Laur

            Rob, when you go to work, do you have three “safety” buttons in your office in case someone you are working for tries to murder you? Do your clients have to take off their belts and shoelaces because they could try to murder you with these? This is what happens in legal brothels. One Dutch pimp didn’t like the fact that rooms are required to have a pillow stating, “They’re murder weapons.”

            Sound like any other job?

          • liz

            There is a difference between saying a transaction “is not work” and saying that the same transaction is not a job “like any other”.

            Quit conflating the two.

          • liz

            Is Natalia your alter ego, Rob? Otherwise where do you get off answering questions that were specifically addressed to her?

      • rob

        “our goal is not to destroy your work or make it more difficult”

        Based on what I’ve read on this blog and other radical feminist literature, I’d argue that’s precisely what your trying to do, I mean you’ve even said in this post that referring to “sex work” as “work” is blatantly wrong. You’ve clearly taken the position that the only way to save people from the harms of “sex work” is to abolish “sex work” to begin with; Natalia, a self-identified feminist who is involved in “sex work” disagrees. The fundamental difference between this blog and ricochet, is that ricochet is fundamentally liberal in it’s outlook, where as this blog is radical, and that’s that. I could whine about how “feminist current” doesn’t have any articles from a liberal perspective and is unfairly shutting out liberal feminist voices, but what gets put on this blog is entirely at Meghan’s discretion. Would it be reasonable for conservatives to complain that ricochet doesn’t provide any space for conservative voices?

        • Meghan Murphy

          I write opinion pieces here. This blog represents a particular ideology. I don’t purport to represent progressive Canada or all feminist voices in Canada. That has never been my claim or goal. My perspective, goal, and ideology is clear. I have not heard Ricochet claim their goal is to decriminalize prostitution. I suppose if they made that clear, at least their bias would be on the table. My bias — that I advocate for the Nordic model and am an abolitionist — has been clear for years.

          Would you argue that efforts to abolish, say, factory farming is an attack on individual workers? Or sweatshops?

        • “liberal feminist” is an oxymoron. Radical feminism is not a faction of feminism. It is feminism. It digs down to root cause in order to eradicate misogyny regardless of who it may inconvenience.

          • rob

            Actually “liberal feminism” and really any form of liberalism attempts to create equality by working within society rather than “radical feminism” (and really any type of radicalism) which seeks equality by burning everything to the ground. For example; it’s fair to say that most pornography made today appeals almost exclusively to the heterosexual male, obviously from an equality point of view this is problematic. It’s how each ideology deals with the problem that separates them. Liberal feminists would say “let’s produce and watch porn that appeals to the sexual needs/desires of us women”. Radical feminists would say “there’s no such thing as feminist porn, it’s all exploitative no matter what, no porn for anybody, burn it all to the ground” and that pretty much sums up the difference between the two streams.

          • huha

            Thanks for mansplaining feminism to us, rob. You are still pretty much clueless.

          • Radical feminists do not want to merely burn patriarchy to the ground. It will just grow back. We want to yank it out by the roots.

            The only argument between liberals and conservatives is whether women should be public or private property.

          • ozzie

            Hey mar iguana, someone quoted your (brilliant) last statement on tumblr and last time I checked the post had gotten nearly 300 likes and reblogs. Internet famous.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Woo!

          • Cool. I’d check it out, but would have no idea of how to negotiate this tumblr thing of which you speak.

          • ozzie

            Here’s a link: http://pomeranianprivilege.tumblr.com/post/89792832578/the-only-argument-between-liberals-and
            You’re at 455 notes/reblogs and counting now.

          • Thanks, ozzie. It’s now at 526. Internet famous, huh? I’m such a neo-Luddite; never was comfortable with the social networking thing, being pretty much an antisocial hermit and devout Solitudinarian (a very limited congregation).

          • Heh, the count is now 611. I’m a star. That’s what I are.

          • Derrington

            Rob, you cannot create equality out of an industry that uses hate speech about its own workforce and promotes this to its clientele whilst using slavery and coercion as a recruitment tool. Its like saying I want to create equality through slavery and promotion of a sub human social caste … it simply isnt compatible. As for Natalie self identifying as a feminist, with all due respect, I may self identify as a teapot, it doesn’t actually make me one.

          • Laur

            Um, the “we need more porn” meme has been going around since the ’70s and at this point, we have plenty to porn. There is egalitarian erotica out there, but it’s not what men are paying for.

            Feminists are not talking about burning anything “to the ground.” We are demanding that men treat us as human beings. Feminist laws have been proposed that would still allow porn to be made, but if anyone was hurt by its production or consumption, the producers could be sued and the porn would be taken off the market.

            Why do you think so many women feel so passionate about this topic, Rob? Clearly, you feel strongly about pornstitution, or you wouldn’t be posting here. Most women here (and the many, many women that are not speaking out publicly, even on blogs, because they want to put it all behind them), have been used in pornography/prostitution and/or have had pornography used as part of their sexual abuse. You’re “need” for paid sex does not come before women’s human rights and dignity.

          • lizor

            There you have it – “feminism a la rob”: some mean ladies who are going to get between him and his porn (the outrage!!) vs. some nicer ladies who will make some porn for him, but assuage his guilt by purporting to like it themselves.

            Yeah, there’s not much more to it than that.

        • Laur

          Rob,

          Referring to oneself as a sex-worker is a form of self-care and self-respect for women in the industry.

          On a political level, though, this term obscures a structural analysis and totally invisibilizes the sex buyers–which is why so many of you love it.

          I see you are eager to support any woman who states she is freely choosing the sex trade, but you refuse to listen to the many, many women who have exited “the life” and who also once presented themselves as “happy hookers” (a term an exited woman used to describe how she presented herself).

          I’m not sure what your point is in posting on this blog. To get more female attention?

          • rob

            I post on this blog because i disagree with much (but not all) of what is being said, I’ve commented on liberal feminist blogs, but after a while you (I) get sick of debating people who agree with you all the time. I find it a little fascinating that rather than taking my comments at face value and forming a rebuttal based on what I’ve actually said, so many of the commenters here wonder what my “true motivations” are. almost immediately after i began posting I’ve been accused of being a john or only being concerned with access to women’s bodies for my own gain, or spreading “monstrous propaganda”, or creating fake blog posts to bolster my points. I understand that this is a space for radfem opinion first and foremost, and that anyone critical of radfem theory will be met with suspicion, especially a dude. I also understand that the issues we debate here can be extremely painful to discuss for many on this board; i often use sarcasm as a rhetorical device in order to emphasis my arguments, if this comes off as callous to anyone here i apologize.

            I’ve also read the comment policy here, and no where does it say “if you disagree with radical/abolitionist feminism don’t bother commenting.”

            While it may seem that i am exclusively interested in supporting/validating women who state they freely choose the sex trade, I’m more interested in what Bill C-36 will provide those women once it becomes the law of the land. As i mentioned before, the fact that a sex worker could call the cops on abusive/violent johns without themselves getting arrested is, undoubtedly, a good thing. It’s a bad thing that while sex workers themselves wouldn’t always technically be charged (unless they violate the all encompassing communications previsions), it would otherwise make it impossible for them to work legally or safely. In addition to the aforementioned communications provisions, the old bawdy-house rules have basically been regurgitated so that now the only place a sex worker can legally work is in her own home, meaning that all their clients would know where they live (not very safe), the law clearly criminalizes those that receive financial or material benefit from prostitution, so sex workers wouldn’t be able to hire personal security guards/drivers (not very safe). Also the government is providing lots of money for women who choose to exit the industry, while the women who choose to stay get bubkiss, as far as i can tell.

            If you think I’m the scum of the earth, because i identify as a liberal, that’s fine, I’m not commenting here to make friends, or have my personal beliefs validated, but i would love to know you’re thoughts on what i wrote above

          • stephen m

            @rob: Please correct me if I am wrong.

            You take a libertarian approach to life.

            You believe in the complete decriminalization approach toward prostitution.

            You believe that the safety of current prostitutes is the most important or only issue in the prostitution debate.

            You believe people should be free to buy any sex act that is offered for sale regardless of any outside pressures placed on the prostitute by their environment even though they might not want to do so. Otherwise the prostitute would not be in that situation.

            You believe the prostitution being normalized by decriminalization is healthy for our Canadian culture.

          • liz

            “I find it a little fascinating that rather than taking my comments at face value and forming a rebuttal based on what I’ve actually said, so many of the commenters here wonder what my “true motivations” are.”

            Are you really fascinated? Do you understand that perhaps a group of humans who happen to be female have had numerous experiences with men who purport to stand by all sorts of convoluted politics when a small degree of scrutiny reveals that their true motivation is to protect their own access to blow jobs (or penetrating teenagers, or whatever the case may be). For example,I know men who purport to have serious concern for workers rights when it comes to women providing these services, but who would be stretched to name a single Canadian labour union. If you respect women as having an intellectual capacity equal to your own, and as being highly likely to behave and think based on accumulated years of lived experience to which they have applied serious consideration, then it’s not so “fascinating”. Maybe it’s “fascinating” if you tow the “broads be crazy”, “women are so unstable/emotional/unpredicatable, etc” brand of misogyny – like we’re a bunch of exotic animals whose actions are just SO inexplicable.

            “While it may seem that i am exclusively interested in supporting/validating women who state they freely choose the sex trade, I’m more interested in what Bill C-36 will provide those women once it becomes the law of the land.”

            No. It seems like you have very little basis to claim to know the motivations of women in prostitution. Have you worked in a city emergency unit, raised funds for a rape crisis centre/women’s shelter, worked at a needle exchange or any other location where you may interact with sex workers in any capacity other than as a [potential] customer? Your “interest” in how the policies affect “choice” prostitutes is based on your ability to identify their authentic choice – that is: absence of sexual trauma or substance addiction in the person’s history and absence of of economic pressure. Your position rests on you having contact with a significant number of women who want to provide sexual service instead of taking fully available choices such as going to university, learning a trade, starting a small business or whatever, in some other capacity than buyer. And that, rationally speaking, seems like a stretch.

            Your support of prostituted women having access to functional protection from the police and your concern about the communications provision echoes the blog post that Meghan wrote on the Bill. When you make comments like this without acknowledging the common ground in interpretation, it appears as if you have not taken the topic or the analyses (note, I use the plural) by writers and commenters here seriously enough to even do background reading on this very blog, then you come off as dishonest, self-interested and arrogant. No presumptions here: just an analysis of how you have represented yourself in your comments.

          • Laur

            @rob
            “I find it a little fascinating that rather than taking my comments at face value and forming a rebuttal based on what I’ve actually said, so many of the commenters here wonder what my “true motivations” are. almost immediately after i began posting I’ve been accused of being a john…”

            Myself and the other women here have spent quite a bit of time responding to your comments. Their not exactly how to refute. We do only have so many hours in the day and so much energy to expend (including mental energy), so thinking we’re going to answer any question that pops into your mind is fantasy. Especially when all these answers can easily be found on blogs of exited women and expert sites (like prostitutionresearch.com).

            You’ve said that you are a “john”, I believe in previous posts in addition to this one, so that’s no secret.

        • ozzie

          ”I could whine about how “feminist current” doesn’t have any articles from a liberal perspective and is unfairly shutting out liberal feminist voices, but what gets put on this blog is entirely at Meghan’s discretion.”
          Please tell me you’re smart enough to discern the difference between these two situations: 1) a woman expressing their personal opinions on their personal blog
          versus
          2) males who (due to existing macro-level institutions and power structures largely control media, narratives, and news/information dissemination) use their influence to colonize the debate and try to minimize, push out, slander, and crush dissidents in order to preserve the status quo and said structures and institutions.

    • Laur

      Hi Natalia,

      I’m really sorry to hear that you’ve been mocked viciously in debates with anti-porn feminists. There are some women who are very hard on women who are currently in the sex trade. I have witnessed this online myself.

      I wish you all the best.

  • huha

    It really pisses me off how (mostly) English-speaking middle class white women with choices go on social media and defend prostitution. The world doesn’t revolve around you. You are not the norm, you are the exception. Get over yourself. I also know that many of you are actually pimps.

    If you like legalized prostitution so much, go to a legal brothel in Germany, work there (as a prostitute), and then tell me how awesome it is. Oooohhh, those flat-rate brothels are soooooo funnnnn. Sleeping with strange men and giving blow jobs, often times without condoms, 10+ times a day is just incredibly easy and safe. Clients treat you like a porn star and re-enact porn scenes with you. Soooo glamoroussss! They tell you what to do and if you don’t comply, you are gonna get in trouble, but it’s okay because it’s legal. Often times the “managers” won’t let you leave and make you work for 12 hours, but it’s legal so it’s safe and fun! Can you imagine how many gentlemen you can gratify in 12 hours?

    And the money! Your manager will take 30-40% of you earnings (sometimes more, depends), then you may have to pay rent (weird huh) and other fees to the brothel. You won’t earn much but it’s still better than… oh

    If your client or pimp is abusive towards you, if you are not afraid, trafficked or whatever, and if you are lucky enough to speak the language, you could report them to the police. However, they won’t do much for you because, well, the client paid for it and the pimp is just a normal businessman.

    Some helpful links:
    If you want to hear about the ‘failed’ Swedish model http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6O4xzzTqSU
    Survivors talking about their experiences. Many ‘worked’ in legal brothels: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTElswfYigA
    http://www.equalitynow.org/survivorstories

    http://www.womenlobby.org/publications/reports/?lang=en

    • Natalia

      I’m a latino american lower class woman. And I find quite odd that most abolitionist feminist that I ‘ve met are white middle class women…

      Look, I know the world doesn’t revolve around me. I know that there are prostitutes that have horrible experiences and are abolitionist. I respect them. I don’t know if I’m the exception. But let’s just say 30% of sex workers are generally happy with their jobs. You can’t neglect them. You can’t say prostitution is inherently bad. Because then, you’re just silencing us.

      “Clients treat you like a porn star and re-enact porn scenes with you.”

      Is that so bad? I don’t have the right to not like that? Do abolitionist feminists have the say in what is respectful to yourself and what is not? There is some slut-shaming in your words…

      • Meghan Murphy

        “And I find quite odd that most abolitionist feminist that I ‘ve met are white middle class women…”

        That’s weird because the abolitionists I know are very diverse — certainly most of them are working class, many are women of colour… And trust me, I know a lot of abolitionists here in Vancouver.

      • ozzie

        ” And I find quite odd that most abolitionist feminist that I ‘ve met are white middle class women…”

        That’s your own confirmation bias. If you want to look at the facts, the pro-abolition groups here in Canada include the Asian Women Coalition for Ending Prostitution (AWCEP), Indigenous Women against the Sex Industry, Sextrade 101 (a First Nations/Indigenous women’s group), The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), and others I don’t recall off the top of my head. Not to mention that women, whether white or not, working for vaw non-profits have salaries pretty much below the poverty line. I’m an immigrant myself, and many women commenting here are poor, WOC, or both. I can point you to countless radfem/pro-abolition blogs/social media pages written by WOC. People try to make this myth happen of the white, bourgeois, Victorian pearl-clutcher trying to forcefully teach the free-spirited brown women about shame and morality and it is 100% fiction not grounded on reality. It’s offensive in that it completely discounts and deletes the voices of women in South America, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East working to end prostitution, trafficking, and violence against women and girls while demonizing white women who could have made lucrative careers doing vapid, boring ‘tell the oppressor whatever they want to hear’ corporate feminism but instead made their lives so much more difficult by being uncompromising in their fight for ALL women.

      • huha

        Ha, I come from Eastern Europe. My country is one of the main “exporters” of women to Germany. I come from a poor family. I have seen a lot. Organized crime is everywhere. There are so many women who accept jobs abroad without knowing what to expect. Many find themselves trapped into prostitution. When I was young I always wondered why young women would go to work in a different country and never even call their families. They just disappear. Now that I’ve worked with survivors I know why.

        I have been approached by pimps/traffickers. It’s extremely scary. You just don’t know who to trust. They typically “recruit” girls in very poor neighborhoods and orphanages, sometimes in clubs and on the streets. Thankfully, I was educated on the subject as one of my neighbors fell into that trap. Everybody thought that she had just escaped with her boyfriend, but they were wrong. She returned after 7 years.

        How can anybody justify sacrificing thousands of women for the very small minority? It breaks my heart that women in my country and millions of others worldwide have to suffer due to such ignorance (putting aside the inherent violence and male entitlement behind prostitution).

        • huha

          I’m still half-asleep and cannot express myself well.

          “Thankfully, I was educated on the subject as one of my neighbors fell into that trap. ”

          I think the meaning is obvious, but it sounds a little ambiguous.

          I am thankful because my family educated me before I was approached, not because my neighbor suffered.

      • Derrington

        I’m not slut shaming when I say Natalia that working in the sex industry puts you on the wrong side of the fight for equality for me. I watched my father beat the shit out of my mum when I was a child whilst shouting various gendered hate words such as c*nt and wh*re. I have been raped twice as a child and heard those same words used by the men and boys that attacked me. My daughter aged six has had to move school for her own safety due to 6 boys physically and sexually assaulting her … using those same words of gendered hatred. The sex industry openly promotes this view of women being an inferior, sex providing caste of people using those same words. Some women play this system to their own financial benefit … and some women see the danger of promoting females as simply valuable only for their ability to dish out sex. I couldnt give a fuck about how you choose to earn a living if it doesn’t impact badly on me and my daughter’s day to day safety, but it does, hugely. That has nothing to do with neo liberal white values but more my upbringing around social responsibility in the same way I wouldn’t support the drug industry. Sorry if this is seen as judgemental but there it is, I make judgements every day as to when to cross the road with my kid and when might be dangerous because of the traffic and this situation is just the same.

  • Meghan, another well expressed critique of the behaviours that keep the patriarchy/capitalism/imperialism combo in place. I admire your tenacity to respond so thoughtfully to the comments. Feminist means until ALL women are free.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thank you Jacqueline. Solidarity.

  • OccupyMedic

    The fact is that the bill 36 model has been tried in other parts of the world. The result was that it DECREASED women’s saftey. End of line, any other argument in support of it is spin.
    Let’s be clear here Meghan, you don’t LIKE ricochet’s position on this, fine, that’s your right. BUT: It’s YOUR issue, not a feminist issue & trying to tie the current editorial board into the misogyny of the 60’s left is deeply disingenuous, and is also: SPIN.

    • Meghan Murphy

      There is no evidence that the Nordic model has decreased safety (is that what you’re talking about? the Nordic model? Or something else? Bill C-36 isn’t exactly the Nordic model, ftr…) — there is, on the other hand, evidence that shows decrim/legalization decreases safety.

      Let’s be clear, OccupyMedic — The issue of abolition, prostitution, feminism, sexism on the left, and women’s right to live free from male violence is NOT *MY* issue. What a fucked up thing to say.

      I will add this: I guarantee you will all be ashamed to have supported this platform and that you threw yourselves into protecting them while attacking me. And when you are I won’t tell you that I told you so, because you’ll know. That’s the most I can say.

      I promise you that Ricochet cannot be trusted to cover feminist/women’s issues with any integrity at all. Not like you care about that…

      • Traven Torsvan

        ” I will add this: I guarantee you will all be ashamed to have supported this platform and that you threw yourselves into protecting them while attacking me. And when you are I won’t tell you that I told you so, because you’ll know. That’s the most I can say. ”

        What is that supposed to mean?

        • Meghan Murphy

          It means that that is all I can say publicly at the moment and you’re just going to have to take my word for it. This isn’t a platform I would ever align myself with or one that I’m able to trust on the woman front and I have very good reasons for that. And it isn’t just because of their bias on the prostitution issue and the (pretty abysmal) way they handled my critiques and questions.

          At some point I may be in a position to say more publicly, but at this point I cannot.

    • eastvanhalen

      Did you really come here and mansplain the correct feminist line on Bill C 36? Good grief.

    • ozzie

      ”trying to tie the current editorial board into the misogyny of the 60′s left is deeply disingenuous, and is also: SPIN.”
      Meghan, how dare you use logic, reason, context, and basic knowledge of history and politics to identify recurring cyclical themes and patterns propagated throughout time or draw parallels between two very comparable things. It’s flagrant meanie behavior because you make the boys feel bad when you remind them they’re as regressive as their right-wing brethren.

  • Cherry Smiley

    Meghan, this is an insightful and important piece of writing. The courage you show in truly challenging the status quo is admirable and inspiring. Thank you for the work you do.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thank YOU Cherry! You inspire me every day. I’ve learned and continue to learn so much from you.

  • Hi, My name is Michael Lee-Murphy, I’m involved with Ricochet as a contributing editor, writing about energy and the american border. My initials are obviously MLM, and without weighing in on this debate about sex work or bill c-36, I want to say that I have nothing to do with the poem at the top of this comment stream. I neither wrote nor posted. I think its just a coincidence that someone’s comment name on this is also my initials, but I wanted to make this clear, since I often use MLM in my social media profiles.

    • Meghan Murphy

      MLM is a woman and has been contributing to conversations here forever so I have no idea why anyone would think she were you. I am fairly certain no one here even knows who you are, so I wouldn’t worry about it… In any case, thanks for the clarification…

      • Do forgive me. I’m unfamiliar with your comment community.

        • Meghan Murphy

          It’s fine, Michael. I just was a little confused as to why anyone would think such a thing.

    • ozzie

      lmfao. the hubris.

      • C

        LMFAO!

  • Elizabeth Pickett

    It wouldn’t have occurred to me for a millisecond that Michael Lee Murphy wrote that poem. Whoever he is, he couldn’t.

    Also, people at Ricochet have had the least professional and most divisive response I could have imagined. I would advise a seminar or two on responding to political challenges. I suppose those folks there might still redeem themselves. But the more they say, the more they think they have to clarify that they are not the writers of a poem written by someone we all know, the more their heads look like blocks. We couldn’t have mistaken the poem for Michael’s but he should wish we could.

    I was excited by Meghan’s piece because I thought, what the heck, maybe at least one alternative media source will get their heads straight before they’re all the way out the gate. Apparently bloody not. I will say that feminist voices on all sides of issues appear to be on the rise. He who doesn’t catch on quickly will be left behind. And I do mean he.

    • Meghan Murphy

      The response has been incredibly unprofessional. For those who didn’t see: https://www.facebook.com/melissafong/posts/10154193961185408
      https://twitter.com/ricochet_en/status/480032562606129152

      I’m not sure how these folks plan on moving forward with the project they desire; their editorial board appears completely ill-equipped in terms of approaching controversial topics with integrity or dealing with challenges and critiques.

      • ozzie

        This whole misogynistic pseudo-progressive pseudo-intellectual men trope has played out a million times. I wish more women would learn from the past and not allow themselves to be manipulated, instrumentalized and weaponized to take up causes championed by leftist men who will extract your time, resources, and intellectual labour only to back-stab you the first chance they get. The responses and treatment you received from ricochet’s male editors reminds me of a really similar incident that happened between I Blame the Patriarchy’s Twisty Faster and supposedly progressive site the Daily Kos. When called out for endorsing and supporting an aggressively and unabashedly anti-choice democrat, this was their response: ”many people here, whined and cried about Langevin, the way they whined and cried about Harry Reid, because of those Democrats’ personal opposition to abortion. Didn’t we know, they demanded, that choice was a core principle of the Democratic Party? To which I have a simple answer: The hell it is.
        One of the key problems with the Democratic Party is that single issue groups have hijacked it for their pet causes…Problem is, abortion and choice aren’t core principles of the Democratic Party…We have confused groups that are natural allies of the Democratic Party for the party itself. And the party has ceded way too much power, way too much control, to those single issue groups.” In a separate instance, when called out for running a misogynistic and degrading ad, this was his deranged and idiotic response: ”Whatever. Feel free to be offended. I find such humorless, knee-jerk reactions, to be tedious at best, sanctimonious and arrogant at worst. I don’t care for such sanctimony from Joe Lieberman, I don’t care for it from anyone else. Some people find such content offensive. Some people find it arousing. Some people find it funny. To each his or her own.But I am not Lieberman. I won’t sit there and judge pop culture and act as gatekeeper to what I think is “appropriate”, and what isn’t. And I certainly won’t let the sanctimonious women’s studies set play that role on this site. Feel free to be offended. Feel free to claim that I’m somehow abandoning “progressive principles” by running the ad. It’s a free country. Feel free to storm off in a huff. Other deserving bloggers could use the patronage.Me, I’ll focus on the important shit. p.s. And congratulations — the more people have bitched about the ad, the more successful it has become. It is now the most successful ad in the history of this site, with close to 8,000 click throughs over the low-traffic weekend. And, now that you have demanded I respond to the ad, thousands more will click through to see what the big deal is all about. Sometimes, the best way to kill something you disagree with is to ignore it.”
        I urge Melissa Fong to read the above, put two-and-two together, and draw parallels: these men are not your allies and they’re definitely not worth throwing your fellow women under the bus for.

        • Derrington

          Think women find it very difficult to escape the brainwashing they have been subject to from birth, myself included. That goes for men too. So many of us have been brought up in a world that describes baiting women as ‘banter’, covering up institutionalised violence against women and children as ‘missed opportunities’ and promoting women as sexualised liars who enjoy eating our own shit as sex positive or even liberal feminists, that sometimes it can be very difficult to see the wood for the trees. Melissa Fong is young and probably hasnt been punched outside the matrix. I must admit, until I was beaten into a spontaneous abortion by my ex and then having the police, whom a neighbour called because they could hear his attack, tackle me as the aggressor, I really has no idea of how bad most men treat women and how far a great number of them will go to cover the arse of one of their own when they are caught attacking a women or child they regard as property. Porn pushes this psychopathic viewpoint of women and children, so I regard any woman taking part in this promotion as not sex positive but psychopath positive. Can’t see what’s positive about being called a whore and a cunt for taking part in sex if the man isnt described with similar abuse. Then we’d see how much they like their own treatment,

          • huha

            Word.

            Unfortunately, because they accept that abuse, women who don’t have to suffer too.

          • ozzie

            ”I must admit, until I was beaten into a spontaneous abortion by my ex and then having the police, whom a neighbour called because they could hear his attack, tackle me as the aggressor, I really has no idea of how bad most men treat women and how far a great number of them will go to cover the arse of one of their own when they are caught attacking a women or child they regard as property.” So sorry to hear that! Hugs.
            Also, MF doesn’t get a pass from me for being young. I’m 22, and I just realized that most of the radfem bloggers I follow are no older than 19. There’s no excuse for siding with rapists/pimps/johns/traffickers against your fellow women.

          • Derrington

            Thanks for hug, am over the pain and use the experience to try and help other women see what they may be growing up in and keep safe. My dad, brothers and sisters are all gendered psychos who think nothing of telling any lie to any woman to use her for their ends. Melissa may have had all sorts of sexist positive talk in her life that has led her to accepting being called a c*nt as empowering so I dont hold it against women that work in the sexist industry, anymore than I have a grudge against its clients per say. But that doesn’t stop me speaking out against verbal and physical abuse of a disempowered group within society by a bunch of violent psychopaths who pay to attack people sexually. Its wrong on the same level that slavery is wrong and as for liberal, its as liberal as bear baiting or dog fighting and ethically on much the same level.

          • ozzie

            I’m with you. WRT liberals: I was hate-reading Vice today and they had some articles up detailing how Brazil’s issues such as poverty, violence, lack of education, funding, and housing, etc were exacerbated by the FIFA World cup. The irony is these were posted next to articles mocking and making light of their trafficking epidemic that resulted from legalization + sex tourism (”Which Country’s Soccer Fans Are the Biggest Prostitute Fans?We walked around Rio’s red light district to find out. Is there a correlation with one nation’s performance on the football pitch and their fans’ performance in the bedroom? Who is scoring the most goals, so to speak, with Rio’s sex-worker community?”) Literally all rational thinking and ability to analyze the multiple axes of oppression that lead to poverty, violence, lack of education, funding, and housing completely evaporate when these same systems intersect to oppress women. This and the whole ricochet thing are just further proof that women need a radical, independent, grassroots movement for themselves rather than what’s going on in feminism right now: blind partisan loyalty and acting as liberal men’s auxiliary units.

          • Derrington

            This is what I mean by psychopathic attitudes towards women. Its like Rob down below. The moment anyone starts making a point about how the sex industry talks about women using hate speech, or treats women by recruiting via slavery or the amount of violence customers show towards women … Rob, Natalia et al begin to talk about something else. They simply ignore the human rights breaches as if Nazism, pogroms, Rwanda, Bosnia had never existed and we as a people know nothing about using media to brainwash people into accepting other people as sub human. Porn is doing exactly that – and it is becoming more and more difficult to get human rights for women and children respected if they are abused by a man since porn presents all women and children featured as feral creatures of the night, intent on tricking poor, unsuspecting men into commiting rape in what is made to look like real life reportage via gonzo porn, rather than film set shot fantasy stuff. I have no time for people that pretend history hasn’t shown us these tricks and more in various genocides – the fact that this is world wide is what worries me. Where the fuck is the cavalry going to come galloping over the hill from? We have to fight back but we don’t have guns so words and truth is it for the moment … I’m not sure its enough …

      • rob

        I’m sorry, I’m not a twitter or social media person, nor am I fully familiar with the editorial board at ricochet, but I fail to see how their responses to you were unprofessional, (at least from the links you provided) – they were responding to your accusations, (which you haven’t substantiated), which we’re extremely heated – accusing the male editors of hiding behind both their female colleagues and progressive politics in order to mask their apparent sexism. How exactly were they supposed to respond to that professionally? Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems like the ONLY reason you believe ricochet is sexist is because they don’t make room/wholesale accept the abolitionist/radical view towards prostitution laws. I certainly understand your concerns in regards to them not including more radfem opinion/input, and you could certainly make the argument that they should be more balanced in representing the full spectrum of feminist theory towards the issue, somewhere along the lines of rabble.ca, but unless you know of something going at ricochet (and it sounds like you do) that the rest of us don’t; I’m liable to adopt the wait and see approach.

        “It means that that is all I can say publicly at the moment and you’re just going to have to take my word for it.”

        the problem with that statement is that you’ve leveled some pretty strong accusations against ricochet and it’s editorial board, for no other apparent reason than their (supposed) position on prostitution law, and this dust up between you and Melissa Fong. If you expect people to take these accusations seriously, you’re going to need to give actual evidence that what you’re saying is true, rather than just foreshadow how sorry we’ll all be when the awful truth about ricochet comes out.

        • Meghan Murphy

          My ‘accusations’ are substantiated. In this post.They could have responded to the points I made in this post, but they didn’t. They offered a defense of decrim and then attacked me and my work. They offered zero solutions, I have seen no accountability or an attempt to address the concerns and issues I bring up.

          • rob

            So based on what you wrote they are in fact sexist for adopting a decrim model over a “crim” model, and they attacked you by rebutting your arguments. I’m going to have to re-read the facebook and twitter posts, but it seems to me they offered strong criticism of your work rather than attack you personally. By accountability, do you mean, including articles/perspectives from a radfem/abolitionist point of view? I’m not going to ask about any specific issues between you and the editors/writers at ricochet unless it deals with the content they produce or you discuss it on this blog.

            Getting back to the topic which spawned this disagreement between you and ricochet, Bill C-36, I think regardless of which side of the feminist debate you’re on, this piece of legislation is one monumental clusterfuck on the part of this conservative government. Even if you’re a firm believer in criminalizing the purchase of sex, and setting aside the obvious problems with the bill’s communications provisions (and thank you for acknowledging them), there are massive, massive holes in the bill with regards to harm reduction. The old “bawdy house” rules have been recycled so that the only place a sex worker can work is inside her own home, so the clients know where they live (yikes!), and the new law against profiting from prostitution, means the only security sex workers are allowed to have around them are their spouses/husbands (real progressive). You want to criminalize the purchase of sex, that’s fine, but so long as bill c-36, prevents sex workers from working in a place of their choosing, communicating their services as they choose, with a proactive means of security, then they won’t be safe, but hey at least they can call the cops after a john beats or rapes them.

          • Meghan Murphy

            You keep leaving comments that make me feel like I just need to rewrite the post I wrote above in the comments section, rob.

            This particular ‘feminist’ ideology is typically adopted by the left — wherein prostitution is simply a job like any other, a ‘choice’ women make, and that the only/real solution is to simply regulate the industry in order to make it ‘safer’ (despite the fact that this has never happened anywhere and that there is no such thing as a ‘safe,’ legal prostitution industry). It’s an approach that is easy and comforting but has nothing to do with ending male violence, providing women with real choices, or creating a feminist world. It merely reinforces male power and entitlement but hides all that beneath ‘progressive’ language around labour rights etc.

            Progressive publications are almost universally not only biased on this issue, but also attack, misrepresent, and malign abolitionists.

            I addressed this issue and pattern with a founder/editor after he posted a manipulative, misrepresentative article about prostitution law and Bill C-36, written by a young woman who is on the editorial board at Ricochet and after seeing who exactly had been brought on as representative of ‘feminism.’

            This is nothing new. It’s just more of the same. Male leftists like very much to frame the prostitution issue as simply a labour issue and to smear abolitionists as moralist prudes. I’m not willing to pretend this is an isolated incident or to imagine that somehow Ricochet will be any different based on the reality of who is on the board and that one of the very first articles they publish/promote misrepresents Bill C-36, advocates for decriminalization, and regurgitates the same disproved, speculative arguments around ‘stigma,’ seems not to have any real understanding of what’s happened under legalization in other places around the world, and puts forth this over-repeated, thoughtless, boring and anti-feminist notion that the word ‘victim’ is a bad thing — that no woman is a victim because agency! and that somehow to talk about victimization removes agency and power and that the language, in and of itself, is what victimizes and disempowers.

            It’s just all very boring, tiresome, and naive and it honestly feels like an attack on the feminist movement and feminist discourse. Beyond that, the ‘feminists’ they’ve chosen for the board seem steeped in liberal, postmodernist bs, use language like “SWERF” and “TERF” to attack feminists, and have zero respect for or understanding of the movement, their elders, and their second wave sisters and either directly attack me and my allies on a regular basis or ally with those who do.

            In any case, I addressed all of this and more with a co-founder and the response was basically a non-response.

            No one on the board has either admitted there is a bias or offered to address the bias.

          • Elizabeth Pickett

            I’m waiting till the time we start ignoring this supposedly librul dooood who isn’t even that. He’s just a sexist dick.

          • Derrington

            Rob, you still dont get it do you? Why would a prostitute call the cops having been beaten up or raped? Most of the cops are libfeminists like yourself and would joke that its part of the job. Most of them will see her as an empowered cunt and its one of the pitfalls of the job like any other. Libfem empowerment looks like a heap of sexist horseshit to me, and why on earth would you call the police in when most of them use sexist media/porn themselves. Its like phoning the Nazis to complain about anti Jewish violence – its more than likely a policeman that’s raping her, after all, they have the highest rate of sexist violence in the home of any profession here in the UK. Plus the specialist anti rape squad in the UK is currently under investigation for amongst other things, calling victims cunts and bitches and no criming most reports after they’ve intimidated the victims into dropping their statements. Only 6% of reported rapes are found guilty in court and less than 10% of rapes are even reported because of the bastions of male justice. I believe the problem with the police and sexist violence is just as bad in the States where you have had thousands of rape kits dumped behind the filing cabinets by police officers so that they weren’t investigated. Colluding with rapists and women and child batterers? Much?

        • Margaret McCarroll

          Rob, i hope that you appreciate the phd in feminism you are receiving here – Meghan has WAY WAY more patience than i would have – you’ve already commented 6 or 7 times with reams and reams of text, dude – do some reading now and subscribe ($) to the feminist current

          • lizor

            Of course he does not appreciate the thoughtful and informative responses he’s received. He’s either too stupid, dishonest or lazy to actually read the post. The dude’s a wanker.

          • ozzie

            More productive/interesting conversations can be had with walls than with dudebros hellbent on preserving their oppressive ways. Weird how he stomps in here demanding our undivided attention with boring walls of text but he still addressed/answered none of our questions (mine included) when we called him out.

  • Elizabeth Pickett

    Just for comparison’s sake and because Meghan’s last comment echoed virtually everything I said in response to this lefty-male blogger’s post at rabble, Canada’s other pre-eminent supposedly progressive medium, I am posting this link fyi:

    http://alterwords.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/prostitution-and-some-left-wing-men/

  • I’m deeply disappointed by the betrayal of the progressive community to even try to understand the abolitionist perspective even if they don’t agree with it. I am not an academically educated feminist and really started paying more attention during the prostitution debates over the past years. I’ve been reading over at rabble and I have come to the conclusion progressive men know very little about feminism and they have all fallen for female sexuality as an expression of power over men. It’s like they need to go to feminist kindergarten.

    It helps a lot to read your work as it assures me the world has not gone completely mad. Never in a million years would I ever have thought I would be happy to have a Conservative government in power but I am happy they are right now. Bill C 36 will survive the challenges brought against it. It will become the status quo in Canada much the same way no government wants to legislate abortion. Prostitution law will be a can of worms none of them want to touch.

    That is a big battle won. Reversing legalization and an entrenched industry is much harder and would have made it even more difficult to educate Canadians. The Nordic model will continue to prove itself the most civilized alternative. The grand experiment of legalization is showing itself to be an ugly industry that is a blight on the nations that embraced it. It will only get uglier.

    • huha

      This is so true. It is important to note that each country has different laws and the Nordic Model has to be adapted to them so that it really works. The results won’t be the same everywhere. Legalization/decrim. on the other hand, has similar results everywhere – trafficking is through the roof, men feel more entitled, use of drugs and painkillers increases, violence against prostituted women becomes invisible, some young women are denied unemployment benefits because they refuse to work in brothels, etc.

  • Pingback: Popular feminism: Allying with abusers and trashing feminists | Feminist Current()

  • History is a good place to start. Without an exception, all political, social, education, intellectual, religious, financial, legal, science, math, spiritual, philosophical, artistic, community and charity movements/initiatives were borne with the common blanket assumption that women will provide our bodies for sexual exploitation via financial/violent extortions, provide free labor, free nurturing and encouragement, make the food, raise the babies and pay the bills while men were “revolutionaries.”

    The left is not different from the right or from the halls of science in this matter. The left uses use different language and focuses upon the availability of women being available for paid sex more than the right or academia tends to, but the assumption that “their” movement participants (and therefore men in general) are entitled to access to women’s bodies, minds and emotional nurturing remains a constant. That is the constant: women exist for the exploration of men. That is patriarchy. It can be pitched from any angle, but women lose every time. The left is no exception, it is a patriarchal polarization for the power-grabbing of men.

    The one movement that does not assume that women exist for the exploitation of men is feminism. That makes us feminists a very dangerous lot to all of the above institutions and movements. The left realizes that if feminism were to take root, lefty dudes’ misogyny would be exposed for the selfishness that it is and they will do anything at all to prevent that. Including attempting to destroy feminists who speak out against their hypocrisy.

    Look at history. See which sex really did the thinking, work, the support, provide body, mind and heart and made the real sacrifices day in and day out. And see which gender is mentioned in history books taking credit for the sacrifices and exploitations that women endure to this day.

    If a lefty dude wanted to be a real revolutionary, he would support feminism in matters of women (which is everything, actually), make dinner for feminist thinkers on an ongoing basis and demand that his brothers stop assuming that access to women’s bodies is a right conferred upon them for being born male.

    That would be balanced and really revolutionary.