Jezebel fails feminists, chooses snark over respect, humanity, & accuracy

It’s easy to hate on Jezebel, I know. It’s also easy to hate on Feministing and xoJane and, really, any website covering feminist issues, ourselves included. They’re liberals, we’re “whorephobic,” they’re capitalists, we’re “second-wave” (like it’s a bad thing), they’re tepid, we’re a bunch of sex/dick/boob-haters, and so on and so forth. We all talk shit and oversimplify, whichever way that shit is thrown. I do it, you do it, admit it. All that said, sometimes there are very good, very political reasons for that “shit-talking.”

I haven’t intentionally sought out and read Feministing in years because I find it boring and consistently seeped in liberal politics which simply don’t mesh with mine. Jezebel, on the other hand, I read often. Sometimes, admittedly, for the celebrity gossip, and sometimes because they do some good work and have some good, witty writers over there. Some. Lately I try to ignore the bad in favour of paying attention to the good, when it comes to Jezebel. I don’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater, as it were. And I really do, on many occasions, appreciate the snark. That said, yesterday’s big fat fail was too much for me to ignore and is significant in terms of the great political divide in feminism and, consequently, feminist media today.

Last night, a writer by the name of Rachel Veronica Cote published a post mocking a recent open letter drafted by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), addressing Amnesty International’s attempts to push through a policy on “sex work” that endorses the decriminalization of pimps and johns. The letter was signed by hundreds of women and organizations, namely, individual feminists, academics, lawyers, survivors of prostitution, experts, activists, journalists, and human rights advocates. Gloria Steinem signed, so did Rachel Moran, so did Meagan Tyler and Trisha Baptie and Eve Ensler and Julie Bindel and Ruchira Gupta and many others. Thousands more signed a petition connected to the letter, asking Amnesty International to consider the fact that full decriminalization of the sex industry will result in an increase in trafficking and exploitation and supports the idea that men should have the right to legally buy women and girls.

Some celebrities signed on too! Lena Dunham, Claire Danes, Kyra Sedgwick, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, Debra Winger, Kate Winslet, Anne Hathaway, and a bunch more. Just today, Ashley Judd tweeted her support for the petition.

This is all great. Celebrity endorsements are not the backbone of our movement and they never will be, but they help, in terms of pressure and exposure. This is the reality, whether we like it or not. As such, media has highlighted the “big names,” which I get. It’s a headline, it’s a story. But it’s not the story.

This letter and this movement is about regular women. It has been built by survivors, rape crisis shelters, equality-seeking organizations, researchers, groups representing women of colour, and feminists from all around the world and it has not been easy. Women do this work with no reward — they do it because it matters. Our lives matter and the lives of women and girls all around the world matters. It is not silly and it is not a joke. It is real. The sex industry has devastating impacts on women and girls everywhere, every day. Particularly marginalized women. Particularly women with the least social, economic, and political power. The ones who don’t have a media presence.

Despite all this, here’s how Cote chose to cover the issue:

Amnesty International, one of the most powerful forces in human rights protection, has just issued a proposal to decriminalize sex work and, predictably, it has been met with opposition. But fear not: learned gender studies scholars like Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, and Kevin Kline are here to tell you that it’s a bad idea.

No mention of the decades of research behind the Nordic model, no mention of who, actually, was behind the letter. No mention of the fact that it is, in fact, feminists, who oppose Amnesty’s proposal. No mention of the reasons why the proposal is being opposed and what it is we are advocating for instead.

“As long as sex work is illegal, those in the industry remain vulnerable to a host of abuses,” Cote writes, leaving out the fact that all of those who have signed on to and otherwise supported the letter have advocated, relentlessly, for the decriminalization of prostituted women.

This is all a big joke to Cote, who pretends as though a few silly celebrities came up with this letter out of the blue, expecting an ignorant public to blindly jump on a bandwagon:

But here’s the thing, guys: Amnesty International has probably not contemplated this issue with the careful discernment of, say, Lena Dunham or Kate Winslet. We need them to guide us as we come to our own conclusions. You could read Amnesty’s proposal, available here, but isn’t it more compelling to know that celebrities like Anne Hathaway—you know, she won an Oscar for that role—are voicing their disagreement?

I can’t tell if Cote simply elected not to do any research at all on the issues before snarking away dismissively or if she’s intentionally masking the truth in order to manipulate readers, but either way it is abhorrently offensive and shows a complete lack of integrity, journalistic or otherwise. It is Cote, not these celebrity endorsers, who is ignorant and who assumes her readers are as well (based on the comments, it’s clear they are not).

Initially, Cote didn’t even bother to link to CATW’s letter, though she added the link in later after complaints from readers.

Further along in the post, Cote concedes, “To be fair, 400 individuals and organizations are protesting this proposal, not just celebrities,” but still doesn’t bother explaining what it is those individuals and organizations want and why, in any way that could be called fair or accurate.

She concludes by stating, as though she wants to give the impression this is something she’s thought through for longer than two minutes, “decriminalization will require thorough and methodical planning,” before her final jab: “But as debates brew, we can take comfort in the A-listers who raise their voices, shepherding us dewy-eyed lambs to the light of knowledge.”

Now, it’s one thing to disagree about the best way forward with regard to prostitution legislation. I mean, we’ve been disagreeing about that in and outside of feminist discourse since forever. It is another thing to mock an entire movement that has integrity, research, decades of grassroots activism, and real-life experience on their side. Cote, quite literally, is joking about women’s humanity and lives.

Beyond that, while I’m not opposed to covering celebrity going-ons, as they can be entertaining and can speak to cultural trends and debates, I find it enormously ironic that a media platform that publishes dozens of stories a day about fashion and celebrity gossip would dare mock the work of thousands of feminists because a few actors and actresses supported that work. This is a site that treated bell hooks as a curmudgeonly old prude in order to blindly worship at the altar of Beyoncé, after all.

This is the first thing that came up when I typed "Jezebel" into my search bar on Twitter today.
This is the first thing that came up when I typed “Jezebel” into my search bar on Twitter today. I do not know what a “JoJo” is. Internet tells me she is a Famous.

Jezebel does not have a single leg to stand on with that “Ooooh who cares what dummy celebrities think anyway” critique. Beyond that, the very least they could do is a smidge of research before shitting all over something that matters enormously in terms of the global rights and status of women and the actual real, day-to-day lives of women and girls everywhere. It is incredibly insulting, disrespectful, hypocritical, and anti-feminist.

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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  • RadForward

    Strong words that the wrong-headed sex industry apologists need to understand.

    • karen pastore

      this is so damn good…as a survivor I can only add Bravo !!

  • Shana

    Isn’t it quite hilarious that the celebrity-worshiping feminists are now having a meltdown and ridiculing these public figures because it turns out women outside of libfem circles have likely educated themselves on the issue instead of falling to peer pressure so they don’t get branded ”whorephobic trash”? But let’s be real, the same women signing for total decrim and they’d be like ”YASSSS QUEEN SLAY”.

    Honestly there’s a shocking amount of women on the decrim side that have made absolutely no research and are simply parroting the-politics-you-must-have-or-get-dogpiled… that’s pretty much how mainstream feminist circles work these days. But there are those who know and are completely vicious towards women in the sex trade or who have exited it who are now abolitionists. Even without the studies confirming 90% are survival sex workers who would quit immediately if they could, the way these pro-sex industry lobbyists treat women and completely gloss over trafficked and abused women and *never* speak of helping them exit and providing healthcare/education/housing to those in need and instead focus on how prostitution is sexual expression and trafficking is overblown”moral panic” IS SUCH A RED FLAG.

    • Meghan Murphy

      ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    • Lisi

      http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/07/29/prostitutes-tell-lena-dunham-to-stop-grandstanding-about-sex-work.html

      My estimation of these Hollywood women who have signed this petition have gone up. lol’ing at all the liberal feminists like E. Shire of Daily Beast spitting chips about it. They actually know NOTHING about the issues and do no research; they are clueless. They just want to be seen as ‘progressive’ and ‘trendy’ and ‘popular’. I am so tired of the very vocal minority of prostitutes–all white & privileged–telling people, “How dare you try to help the 95% of us who want to get out of the sex industry”.

      • Lisi

        sorry, meant to say ‘has gone up’ not ‘have gone up’.

      • karen pastore

        don’t believe the bs though by so called ‘prostitutes’ or former ‘ones’ saying it’s great etc like the woman wit the ‘sex work’ stuff in Canada now revealing themselves by trying to get us all to accept men buying little girls from 8 to 14 etc and the same with the Dalton’s out there trying to say that when you buy poor kids at age 9 it’s the time of their lives and she knows cause she loved it…time to realize most of these females were only former she-pimps & women on fb with multiple accounts so as to gaslight real survivors who speak out against legalizing the inhumanity of johns…Even their ‘genuine’ comments are robotically the exact same lines, sentence after sentence starting off the same way. PR for the trick lobby just sock puppets…And even so called rich ‘prostitutes’ were sexually abused as girl children blamed for it and called ‘whores’ & flee it & get sex slaved at ages 11 to 14 as average entry age, or they get put into it at those ages by their pedophile abuses who have raped & sold them since way back before ages 11 to 14 even. Often it’s incest or father figures etc So don’t even buy the online specious spin from even the few…there real lives tell the real story and many are really former female pimps who want to get rich off it legally again: off of selling females to men who buy them as subhuman products like drugs or alcohol …abusing and buying them as though they are not humans at all.

  • Cassandra

    Agree with every word you’ve written here, Meghan. I also read Jezebel now and then, less often lately as I can’t stomach the libfem party line like I once could. I read this snarkticle (my probably already made-up-by-somebody- else word for Jez writing in general) this morning and was so disheartened to see the subject treated this way. All I could think was, “This writer has to be young.” But I know there are younger feminists who do get it–it’s just so much easier to be a sexy fun fem and prattle on about choice and agency. (I was a child in the 70s and feel very fortunate that I grew up in that particular pocket of history, with hippie feminist teachers and watching Free to Be You and Me many, many times on Teacher is Hungover Days. I can still hear that film in the projector. I can also hear the funfems right about now, mocking how ancient and second wave I am. If they only knew WHY I became a radfem, decades later, but would it matter?)

    Anyway, I only got part way through the comments before I gave up. Also, I’m not sure I believe that the people commenting as “sex workers” are really “sex workers.” One in particular sounded like Noah Berlatsky. Does anybody else share my suspicion?

    • Meghan Murphy

      “Anyway, I only got part way through the comments before I gave up. Also, I’m not sure I believe that the people commenting as ‘sex workers’ are really “sex workers.” One in particular sounded like Noah Berlatsky. Does anybody else share my suspicion?”

      Yep and yep.

      • K

        I used to be an online sex worker and I can say for a fact that it’s a lot worse than that. The “sex workers” who comment on this sort of stuff are 99% online SWers who have never actually interacted with clients physically and maintain safety and privacy behind a computer screen. Cam girls and porn stars and most strippers and PSOs are usually not survival sex workers unless they come from an impoverished country (where they will have been trafficked into it anyway). They are white women who often lie anywhere from below the poverty line to middle class.

        “Survival” sex worker is a term used for prostituted women who NEED the income to survive. Not white women who don’t want to get a job at Barnes and Nobles. I know that sounds harsh but all the peers I had in the industry were so DISGUSTING and appropriative with their language. There were women who were making under minimum wage selling their porn videos independently as practically a side hobby complaining to be SURVIVAL sex workers. Women with good degrees and numerous opportunities who paid the bills just fine before they started. Women who have NEVER strayed off of the Internet.

        However through my entire time in the industry, if I ever stepped out of line I was told to shut up and stop being a “whorephobe” because I was offending these “survival” sex workers.

        But these are the kind of people sitting and commenting on the Jezebel article as sex workers. The uber-privileged, often white and American woman who hasn’t seen a John face to face let alone been inside a brothel. Women who has just as much insight into sex industry as Streep and Hathaway do. Yet they claim all sorts of experiences that don’t belong to them for the sake of furthering their libfem agenda, putting on the “cool girl” act for their male clients, hating on other women aka SWERFs and survivors etc etc.

        Even sex industry apologists are peeved and disgusted by the way these women appropriate the language of the prostituted and use it to propagate their own libfem agenda. However I spoke to one sex industry woman recently in particulate who said that even though libfem language bothered her IMMENSELY, she would never call out these women because they further her own cause by back lashing against abolitionists, however disingenuous they might be.

        It’s disgusting and revolting and the definition of appropriation in my eyes. For every “I’m a sex worker” I see, there are so few out there who have actually been prostituted. I have no idea why these women coopt experiences that aren’t theirs to further an agenda that isn’t theirs.

        Their new shtick of claiming their “survival” to shut down any sort of arguments is even more revolting. They sit in the privacy and safety of their own home with opportunities in front of them and take voices away from actual prostituted women.

        • qvaken

          That’s especially infuriating to hear because I did skimpy / topless bar work a few years back, and I did have men right there who gawked at me, touched me, made comments at me, tried to coerce me to do things that I didn’t want to do, and two of them attempted to rape me, and I feel uncomfortable calling myself somebody who was in the sex industry because I’m not sure if others would consider that to be honest. I’m not sure if I would consider that to be honest, either. And then they have no problem calling themselves “sex workers”, knowing the implications of that term, and knowing how their experiences are nuanced and the experiences of prostituted women are nuanced, so that they can push the pro-sex trade agenda. That really makes me angry.

    • Rachel

      “This writer must be young” that’s also the vibe I got. I have no idea if she actually is or not, but it comes across that way. Not that I mean that in a condescending way to all young people, I just mean that it reeks of the “sexy feminism” that you see all over the place these days. What really made me think that though, was when I read a comment by someone who said that she would never encourage her teenage daughters to chase this lifestyle in porn, and that she wondered if the women that were defending the sex industry were those that were young and would possibly have different views if they had teen daughters. I know I sometimes even get caught up with the “but maybe it’s not so bad” idea …not because I do think that, but because it’s everywhere and I wonder if my views are overly biased. But then I think about if I had a daughter, would I want her chasing this lifestyle?! The answer is absolutely, unequivocally no. No no no. Not that I could stop her, but I’d hope I could instill enough self esteem and worth for her to not feel that is all she had to offer. To rise above the peer pressure of being a “cool chick”. Actually, I think I’m going to have to lose that question to my friends more often when they defend the sex industry and the idea of “choice”…not that it should have to come to that, but if that’s what it takes people to think, that’s what it takes people to think.

      • Eli2

        Another thing that is never presented is how would these women feel if it was THEIR partners using women in prostitution? I was in what I thought was a monogamous long term relationship for over a decade. In the last years of that relationship, my ex was seeing multiple “escorts” one of whom he “fell in love” with. It was so incredibly painful for me when I realized what was going on, and I still have difficulty with it. None of these “sex workers” ever consider the damage they do, either, to other women OUT of the industry. The wives, partners and children of the men they are “merely providing a service to.” The men go to them and say how they are so “misunderstood” by their wives or they are not getting whatever sex they want, then they turn around and go home and are all lovey-dovey to their wives and are having perfectly fine sex. I had NO CLUE anything was wrong in my partnership because in fact nothing was wrong with it. He had a serious problem that he didn’t want to face. So he dumped me and moved on to another LTR with someone else who was unsuspecting of his behavior. His “happy hooker” who he was so in love with went laughing all the way to the bank, completely oblivious to the damage SHE caused as well. Lets see how some of these libfems feel when they are on the receiving end of some shit like THAT, and potentially with a nice little STD to boot.

        • corvid

          Sorry to hear about what happened to you. It’s very doubtful that any of these prostituted women your ex was seeing were “laughing all the way to the bank” or laughing at all, most likely they were wishing they were somewhere else, anywhere else. It is very likely they were dealing with trauma and would have loved to have the chance to make a good living doing something else. It’s your ex’s fault alone that he saw women as things to be used and bought the sex industry lie about the “happy hooker”. Rachel Moran, an exited woman, has spoken about this very subject of the partners of johns and how prostitution affects them. She is a powerful speaker and it would be a great idea to look her up if you have the chance. Otherwise I wish you the best in healing from this awful experience.

          • Eli2

            The “escort” my ex was “in love with” had a college education and ran a “legit” business in real estate. The thing with her is that she wanted lots and lots of expensive things, and men to finance them, such as her half-million dollar condo, shopping sprees at Nieman’s and trips overseas. I have no doubt she had serious issues, though. I saw correspondence and heard messages that indicated she was not an emotionally stable person. However, this was not “survival sex” for her. Unless one considers needing tons of material things, very expensive dinners out at 5 star restaurants, Jimmy Choo shoes and high-end spa treatments necessary to survival.

            I still wouldn’t call her a “happy hooker” though, as I think deep down she was a miserable person, and addicted to material things. However, she had other viable options to support herself that would have provided her with a decent living, just not to the level she desired. I have a hard time feeling anything but contempt for people like that.

          • Lisi

            I can understand your anger and contempt. Let them lie in the rotting, fetid bed they have made for themselves. Men can be so stupid. My husband had an affair and left us because he said he wanted to be ‘adored’. Obviously, my kind of adoration–cooking for him, cleaning, raising children, working, nursing him when he had a stroke, supporting him in everything he did including his business, always putting his needs first, sex, buying him beautiful clothes–wasn’t enough. I have a relative who, after 25 years of marriage and a healthy sex life with his wife, fell in love with a prostitute. He would cry because ‘it was the best sex’ he’d had. His words were ‘She blew my mind’. I don’t understand how a friggin’ orgasm trumps your children’s needs.

          • corvid

            Ughh, yeah, men’s stupidity is pretty glaring. It’s like hey dude, you:
            1) Are *paying* this woman to act like every painful, humiliating thing you are doing to her is the greatest thing ever, and for her to treat you like a god, it’s a fucking power trip, admit it
            2) Are endangering the health and well-being of all parties involved for the sake of orgasms.

          • corvid

            Furthermore, it isn’t the prostituted women these men are “in love” with. The point of the transaction is to turn the woman into a perfect reflection of his desires. So really what men are “in love” with is themselves, their own egos.

          • Rachel

            I’m so sorry that you both went through such traumatic experiences, Lisi and Eli2. From the sounds of it Eli2, she definitely had some other serious issues that were underlying her reason to do prostitution. I wouldn’t even be surprised if it had something to do with being ‘wanted’ and ‘admired’ by men. Lisi, I reckon when the guy was talking about those ‘mind blowing’ orgasms, it was the taboo factor, the creeping behind his wife’s back, the using of a prostitute etc that made those orgasms mind blowing. But you’re right, how does an orgasm trump his children’s needs?! Just a selfish little man it seems.

          • corvid

            Sounds like she was dealing with at least an addiction to the things she was buying, and possibly another type of addiction if she was acting “emotionally unstable.” Maybe she was sexually abused growing up, and/or spoiled by an abusive family member. Another thing some exited women say is that, however much money they received from johns, they would always spend it right away as though the money itself were poisonous. It’s hard to know, too, how much of what currently prostituted women say about themselves is true in terms of having other jobs and such, although based on what you’ve written it seems likely you have some kind of proof she was in real estate.
            The reason I’m bringing these things up is that I think the sex industry thrives on perceived antagonism between the “wife” class and the “whore” class. It’s not your fault that you feel angry toward this woman, and it’s important that you can express this. It’s also important to remember the humanity of women who allow men to use them in exchange for money, because is it never a fair exchange no matter what the amount and whatever the circumstances. (You know this situation best so stop me if you think I’m making assumptions.)

          • Laur

            Hi Eli2,

            First, I’m really sorry to hear about your experience with that man. He sounds really awful and selfish, and it is clear he gets off on using women.

            I am glad you can see that the woman working as an escort was neither happy nor healthy. I seriously doubt wanting fine goods was the only reason she was doing what she was doing. For one thing, just because someone has a college degree doesn’t mean that they are able to hold and keep a job, or even able to find decent, paying work. She could even be using the real estate business as a cover for the escorting (both a way to hide the money legally and also a cover story regarding her job). Also, a lot of women with histories of trauma get involved in the sex trade. Re-inacting abuse is a form of PTSD.

            Many women in the sex trade do worry quite a bit about the men’s wives. If you read autobiographies by exited women they talk about this. It’s not easy to listen to men who are awful say how awful their wives or girlfriends are and have to pretend to be sympathetic. Rachel Moran discusses leaving a tube of lipstick in the house of a man who was saying abusive things about his wife, as a signal to the woman that other women had been in the house.

            I hope you don’t think I’m saying this woman was a nice person, as she may well not have been. Just that her life couldn’t have been easy, and from her end, it’s hard to know what to do.

        • unali

          It is sooooooooo disapointing to see that even radical feminist are misogynistic. There is no safe place from woman hate. If a woman cheats her husband than she is the only guilty party, she is the whore, and her lover is not even mentioned, he could be male prostitute begging her every day to sleep with her for free it wouldn’t matter, nobody would call him responsible, not even the husband, he would blame only woman as he should. When the man cheats, than everybody is guilty except him. Wife let herself go, he had to cheat, and the woman he cheated with is called whore and is more despised than the cheater itself. The only homewreacker is the person giving you promise that he will be with you forever, not other woman. Some men can beg me to sleep with him and if I say Yes I am the only one to blame for cheating. It is sad to see woman attacking woman because her subhuman dickhead can’t keep it in his pants. So even the single women have to be worried and have to guard the married man golden penis. He is an animal and he is never responsible for cheating.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Men are responsible for men’s actions. Period. To blame women is not a feminist position. It’s just internalized misogyny. So please don’t think this is something radical feminists believe simply because the comment was posted here.

          • Lisi

            I don’t see anybody here being misogynistic. It hurts when your partner ‘falls in love’ with someone else. It would be abnormal to feel no anger or bitterness. I can’t see anybody blaming only the woman. Men make their own decisions; they are responsible for their actions. Noone is letting them off the hook.

          • unali

            I and others see. She should be mad at her husband, but I don’t see that in her post, she was to busy shitting on another women who “stole” her golden penis. When woman cheats, suddenly she is the only guilty one, nobody mentions her lover, husbands think she is the only one in fault, and the public calls her a whore. When the husband cheats suddenly we have two sides who are guilty, and public is going to blame his lover more. So no there are no two who did wrong in here, just one and that is the husband. The one who gave the vows is the only guilty party. If we continue to blame both, and in cases where woman cheats just one misogyny continues and we are again not holding men responsible for their behaviour and we are again throwing other women under the bus because of some men, if that is not patriarchy and women hating I don’t know what it is.

          • Lizor

            What a load of bollocks. Eli2 did not use the word “stole”. You put it in quotes, indicating that she did. Nor does her post indicate that she is not mad at him and only blames the woman he paid for attention, acquiescence and flattery. Nor does she indicate that he is now with the woman he paid, but rather someone else. You’re posing a classic straw argument.

            “When woman cheats, suddenly she is the only guilty one, nobody mentions her lover, husbands think she is the only one in fault, and the public calls her a whore. When the husband cheats suddenly we have two sides who are guilty, and public is going to blame his lover more. So no there are no two who did wrong in here, just one and that is the husband. ”

            You seem to be very upset about a phenomenon that is simply not evident in this blog. And you are using your offence at something [that may or may not occur elsewhere, but certainly not here] to condemn commenters here of misogyny. That’s a very serious accusation to make on a feminist blog.

            What are you talking about? Where is your evidence? Why are you commenting here?

          • Rich

            Of course the cheater, male or female, is the major wrongdoer.

            But, that does mean that the people they are cheating with are behaving in a morally neutral manner. And if the cheater is a woman, criticizing her behavior is not “throwing other women under the bus.” It is just speaking the truth, IMO.

            Everyone is responsible for their actions. It does not lessen the blame on the primary wrongdoer to point out that the person they are cheating with is not acting morally. The only person who is getting “thrown under the bus” is the cheater’s spouse, IMO.

          • Ann

            I don’t think that a woman in prostitution is morally responsible for cheating with a another woman’s partner. She’s just doing what she has to do, she’s most likely not in that situation out of choice, and I’m pretty sure she’s not ‘in love’ with the cheating husband. If he believed that he’s probably delusional.

          • As far as I can work out, it’s commonly believed that when a man cheats, there are actually TWO people to blame:

            1. The evil homewrecking OTHER WOMAN

            2. The whiny/clingy/frigid/career-minded/unfeminine/(insert woman-blaming adjective here) WIFE, who failed to meet his ‘needs’ and therefore forced him to cheat on her

            I recently discovered my own mother is a proponent of this view, even in the case where the ‘other woman’ was a 13-year old boy who ‘lead him on’. (‘Him’ being a female pastor’s husband. Who went to jail for his abuse of the boy).

            I cannot describe how much this horrifies me.

          • unali

            You have nailed it, it saddens me than not even “feminist” woman see this huge double standard. The woman who wrote about her husband and how he cheated, didn’t mention him in 2 sentences, while the horrible slutty slut was mentioned and blamed in like 90 percent of her rant.
            People here are twisting my words. If a man had a wife who cheated on him with a male prostitute, and wrote a post, you can bet on your life that he would mention that prostitute once saying that he doesn’t blame him. And than he would throw every imaginable sexist slur at his wife and she would be the only guilty party in his eyes and the eyes of the public. Isn’t it convenient that we are mentioning both sides only when man cheats. Just look at the public reaction when some famous people cheat. When famous actor, for example Bred Pitt cheats, nobody calls him names or blames him. Instead they argue that Angelina Jolie is homewreking whore or that Jennifer Aniston is cold bitch who deserved to be cheated on. When the famous woman cheats, we don’t even hear who her lover is, that doesn’t matter to anyone. We just read million slurs like whore, slut, bitch thrown in her way and suddenly she has no right to cheat even if her husband is abusive asshole.

          • Priscila

            unali, I understand your point – and I might very well be wrong on what I’m going to say – but I think she simply assumed her husband’s shitty behaviour to be self-evident.

  • Jennifer

    Right on target!

  • Kay

    Sex trafficking wouldn’t exist if we just allowed women/whoever to have sex for money, freely and without judgement. And I mean… you are aware that many sex workers (myself included) have disabilities and can’t work at “vanilla” jobs. Rather than barely scrape by on disability or welfare, sex work allows me the freedom to work when I want, and make a LIVING WAGE.
    Also…
    A) Please don’t use “prostitue” as it is a slur
    B) People are paying for a SERVICE they are not buying women & girls

    • Helen Pringle

      Dear Kay, Not a single person signing the letter to Amnesty uses the word “prostitute” as a slur. No one. And nobody I know who argues for the Nordic Model addressing the abolition of prostitution (in part by criminalising buyers and pimps, NOT those women in the prostitution system) would ever use the word “prostitute” at all in reference to women in prostitution. I think you probably know that, but it is important to reiterate it because otherwise our support for abolition could be misconstrued, as you do here. Sometimes we say “to prostitute a woman” when we are talking about what buyers and pimps do, but that is a very different use, I’m sure you can see that: we use it in that way to express our condemnation of the violence done to women by and in prostitution.
      I too understand that women have very many different motivations for working in the prostitution system, that goes without saying almost. But when you say “People are paying for a service they are not buying women & girls”, well, we part company. It is not “people” who buy women in prostitution. it is mostly men, you know the figures and I’m sure you know the reality only too well. And when those men are asked why they pay money, buying a service is not what THEY think they are doing by any stretch: you know the Invisible Men sites, they very clearly tell us what men think they are doing – and it’s not for them just like buying a loaf of bread, is it? But it is the last part of (B) that concerns me most. You say “People” are paying for a service not buying “… girls”. huh? Be careful, the buying of “girls” is one of the worst kept secrets of the prostitution system, but you don’t defend the system very well when you say this openly.

    • Ellesar

      I seriously cannot believe this comment! So you are now claiming that a woman with disabilities (you apparently) cannot do any other job?! And that there are ‘many’ like you?!

      And this:
      “Sex trafficking wouldn’t exist if we just allowed women/whoever to have sex for money, freely and without judgement”

      You do realise that most sex trafficking does not involve women don’t you? They are GIRLS. I don’t need to tell you, as you are obviously extremely knowledgeable about the industry that the younger the better right? That if you are 25 you are getting past it, but if you are under 18, or look like you are you will earn the most money?

      When I did prostitution I was 24, I was one of the older ones. A young woman came to work at the brothel I was working in. She was 18, an addict, and a mother at 16. She told me how previously (so before she was 18) she had worked in one of the ‘best’ brothels in town because she was so young – she acknowledged that she wasn’t ‘pretty’, that they wouldn’t have taken her if she hadn’t been so young. Even at 18, a fucked up woman like that knew that her youth was what was making her the money. I also met a girl of 17 working in the brothel though it was illegal for her to do so. She had had an abortion ONE WEEK previously.

      I could go on a lot more as your comment has really pissed me off, but I will make just one more point:
      A lot of men LIKE the fact that the girl is not happy in her situation. A lot of men LIKE the deal they make with the pimps, not having to deal with her directly when agreeing terms. They LIKE knowing that she is fucked up, an addict, whatever. IT MAKES THEM FEEL SUPERIOR AND BETTER ABOUT THEIR SHITTY LIVES. You may have bought some liberal shit about ‘ordinary men’ who just can’t get their needs met otherwise (boohoo). Well, many of those ‘ordinary men’ despise women and girls, and THAT is why they cannot get their needs met other ways.

    • Eli

      Sex trafficking exists *because* prostitution is in demand (by men). Women already know that it is not exactly a “job”, no matter what you and other “sex workers” use as an argument in your play-pretend fantasy world, so trafficking is used to supply unwilling and desperate women, since there aren’t enough of you “happy sex workers”. Women deserve better than to be chattel for use by men. We are more than a vessel for their consumption. Using your disability to pretend it’s somehow a viable job for women is ridiculous and harmful. You think Asian, Nigerian and Eastern-European women in Denmark or Germany have much of a choice? Do you realize that this thing you call “sex work” actually *creates* more disability? Do you know how many within this industry of exploitation and rape, that you call “work”, develop PTSD and disassociation from their body? But since it makes *your* life easier, fuck them amirite?

      A) don’t use “sex work”, it’s whitewashing of an industry of exploitation, disingenuous and harmful. Besides, seeing as a pimp or a porn director can call himself a “sex worker”, it becomes so vague to make it meaningless. Prostituted women, and those who have exited, use this term “prostituted” and I don’t see why I should take your word over theirs.
      B) MEN are paying for the USE of women and girls’ bodies. Try not to obscure the truth with your use of “people”, jesus fuck, it’s so obvious how you’re trying to shift the blame off men. MEN are the ones who create the demand. WOMEN and GIRLS are those who most often are supplied to meet that demand, unwilling more often than not. Can you explain how it can be a “service” when so much harm is done, and when it is so skewed in favor of men? Who benefits, really?

      I might be harsh here. But I’m sick of this whitewashing, this obscuring of the truth, and the blind idiocy of people who pretend that *their* situation and wants and needs somehow trumps reality. I’m sick of you who call yourselves “sex workers” and advocate for the decriminalization of men’s entitlement to women’s bodies, because every single ounce of your worthless politics is about throwing other women under the bus. Right into the meat-grinder that is male violence. Because it suits *you*. Your selfish politics are obvious. Your individualist idea of “freedom” only works off the backs of women who are not free in the least. Your comfort comes at the cost of another woman’s freedom, her life and her health. So yeah, I’ll be harsh. I’m done with being polite in the face of people advocating for the continued commodification of women’s bodies.

      • Rachel

        Yes exactly! You make a great point that even IF there was that tiny chance that some woman was empowered by her ‘choice’ and was treats like a Queen in the industry, it doesn’t give her the right to completely dismiss the fight for the right for women not to be used and abused for sex by men.

        I noticed a few comments on the Jezebel article which stated that it’s strange that people willingly acknowledge exploitation and abuse in other industries regarding work. However they refuse, for some reason, to acknowledge the widespread abuse and exploitation of women and girls in the sex industry. They act like it’s all rainbows and unicorns. Firstly, I find it strange that we should even be comparing it to other industries, since when is selling sex the same as selling a service to a customer at a burger joint. It’s no comparison. Secondly, why are people so readily defending the industry like its a job made in heaven for women and girls? It’s totally backwards. Even girls that think they are ’empowered’ and ‘choosing’ to enter the industry I.e in hot girls wanted, are going to end up messed up. Their view of themselves, and their ability to trust men is going to be totally destroyed. All they’ll ever be is sex.

        Also the comment that sparked all these replies doesn’t sound like a situation of choice to me at all.

        • Tuesday Adamms

          “I noticed a few comments on the Jezebel article which stated that it’s strange that people willingly acknowledge exploitation and abuse in other industries regarding work. However they refuse, for some reason, to acknowledge the widespread abuse and exploitation of women and girls in the sex industry. They act like it’s all rainbows and unicorns.”
          Yes. This. When I talk about the plights of labor in industries commonly understood to be exploitative, no one starts attempting to drown me out with “But consent!! Autonomy!! Empowerment!! Those workers freely chose to be there!”
          It drives me mad.

    • Dolores

      “Sex trafficking wouldn’t exist if we just allowed women/whoever to have sex for money, freely and without judgement.”

      It isn’t stigma or legal prohibition that cases sex trafficking, it’s men’s demand for women and girls to rape. Furthermore, having sex for money is never a freely made choice, because money is coercion. Prostitution is paid rape.

      “you are aware that many sex workers (myself included) have disabilities and can’t work at “vanilla” jobs. Rather than barely scrape by on disability or welfare, sex work allows me the freedom to work when I want, and make a LIVING WAGE.”

      The way you describe it, it sounds like you’ve been forced into sex work due to your disability (and the unappealing alternatives of disability or welfare which I do not blame you for finding unacceptable). You can’t work another job, so your choice to be a sex woreker is coerced. You may have the freedom to work when you want, and I would never blame you for ‘choosing’ prostitution, but it clearly isn’t a freely made choice, and I do hold you accountable for presenting it as one, and defending it (or rather defending johns and blaming judgement for sex trafficking).

      “People are paying for a SERVICE they are not buying women & girls”

      Well that’s funny. First of all, you mean men. Not people. It’s mostly men who buy sex. If johns just wanted a nice blowjob, why would they want an inexperienced teenager to do it? You’d think they’d want an experienced woman who knows how to give a good blowjob. But most johns seem to prefer younger prostitutes (this is based on the accounts of formerly prostituted women that I’ve heard talk about their experience, and reading things johns themselves have said where they’ve commented positively on prostituted women who look underage, BECAUSE they look/are underage).

      It’s a profit-driven industry (although the pimps/traffickers are the ones making the most profit…). Why aren’t experienced women in demand, if men are really buying a service? Surely a woman who has given more blowjobs than a teenage girl would be better at them, just as a masseuse gets better with experience and their services are therefore worth more.

      Why is the average age of entry into prostitution “16.3 years for females and 15.6 years for males.” according to http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/cj-jp/yj-jj/rr01_13/p1.html ? Why is it that teenagers are prostituted at all, if men are REALLY paying for a service (and presumably want a better blowjob technique as opposed to a worse one)?

      You’ve bought the lie that men who buy women are just buying sex. Many of them get off on the power they have over you. None of them respect you- they might respect you enough not to rape you, but you aren’t a human being to them. Every woman deserves better than to be prostituted, or forced to resort to prostitution to stay out of poverty.

      Also I missed where ‘prostitute’ was used as a slur. Could you point it out?

      • Kay: “People are paying for a SERVICE they are not buying women & girls”

        Dolores: ” If johns just wanted a nice blowjob, why would they want an inexperienced teenager to do it?”

        Further to Dolores point: If men are really buying a *service* and not women and girls, why is it that they overwhelmingly buy… *women and girls*, and in particular young women and girls, rather than seeking out ‘service’ from men or women of any age and appearance?

        • Rachel

          Yes yes yes! I know this isn’t exactly the topic, but I got to thinking about why men cheat in th first place when I heard about Ben Affleck and Jennifer garner (no idea if it’s true, it’s just what sparked my thinking). And people on the radio were making remarks about how men often stray with “the help” and insinuated that it was due to them being irresistible etc. but often men don’t actually cheat with a ‘prettier’ woman…it’ll be with someone younger, or someone in a subordinate position. Which I think strengthens the argument by the person who pointed out that the men get off on power basically. Which extends to the sex trade and women being forced, whether she states she is or not, men know deep down that those women are really not choosing to do it for the sex, or the ’employee benefits’. And even if they were, as someone else stated, the men aren’t going to those women.

    • Kate

      Kay, as of 2009, an estimated 60% of women working in the legal sex industry in the Netherlands were foreign born. Even if (and this is a big ‘if’) these women weren’t trafficked per se, how do you explain that? If your argument is true, Dutch women should be clamoring for those legal, non-stigmatized jobs. Why do you think they are not?

      • Non-PC RadFem

        “Kay, as of 2009, an estimated 60% of women working in the legal sex industry in the Netherlands were foreign born. Even if (and this is a big ‘if’) these women weren’t trafficked per se, how do you explain that?”

        I know you didn’t ask me perse 🙂 , but my guess would be; since the Netherlands is in the dog-forsaken EU -> and the EU have – of late – rather funky border ‘controls,’ I’d say; these foreign-born prostitutes/women are illegal aliens the Netherlands’ government is more than happy to turn the blind to, just as most of the other EU members states are also more than happy to turn the blind eye to illegals entering the EU unchallenged, disappearing off the system and working in the black market for peanuts.

        Boosting the businesses belonging to unethical employers, but more importantly… boosting those all important GDP figures…

        Drugs and prostitution add £10bn to UK economy – FT

        “Prostitutes and drug dealers are set to give Britain a £10bn boost as the country revamps the way it measures its economy [..]”

        “The UK is not alone in updating how it measures its economy to meet international standards. Last week, Italy’s statistical office said it would start to include, among other activities, the sale of cocaine and prostitution [..]”

        “It has also used data from the Netherlands to assume prostitutes spent the equivalent of €125 a year on clothes and €0.50 a client on condoms in 2007.”

        Link> http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/65704ba0-e730-11e3-88be-00144feabdc0.html

        Drugs and prostitution to be included in UK national accounts
        http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/may/29/drugs-prostitution-uk-national-accounts

        Accounting for drugs and prostitution to help push UK economy up by £65bn
        http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jun/10/accounting-drugs-prostitution-uk-economy-gdp-eu-rules

        Who said crime doesn’t pay? Counting prostitution and drugs in the GDP figure has seen the UK’s economy overtake France as fifth largest in the world
        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2888416/Who-said-crime-doesn-t-pay-Counting-prostitution-drugs-GDP-figure-seen-UK-s-economy-overtake-France-fifth-largest-world.html

        • Emily

          EU have open borders. And are not allowed to impose quotas. Completely reasonable that a high number of these individuals would be legal immigrants and not victims of trafficking. But part of the 60% are bound to be victims due to the pervasive nature of trafficking.

    • The Raddest

      Can’t tell if joke or not…

    • ArgleBargle

      Once again:

      Paid rape should not be the welfare system for girls and women. Just because social welfare programs are inadequate, men still do not have the right to take advantage of us.

      The health and welfare of all women and girls are best served by advocating for better social welfare programs and economic advancement strategies, NOT by giving men the right to pay to rape us.

      • Funkstar

        Great article MegHan. Jezebels been getting worse as time goes on.

        In response to argle battle…Completely. I don’t see enough connections being made between really horrible welfare programs and women’being forces into prostitution.

        Chomsky

        http://youtu.be/SNlRoaFTHuE

        • Funkstar

          Above video- Chomsky discussing prostitution

    • C.K. Egbert

      Sex trafficking wouldn’t exist if men only wanted to have sex with women who actually wanted to have sex. Sex trafficking exists because men think that women are merely objects to be hurt, used, and discarded like trash.

      And “vanilla” jobs…? Now I’ve heard everything!

      • “And “vanilla” jobs…? Now I’ve heard everything!”

        It seems “vanilla” is the new term for everything liberals dislike. Do they really think that most jobs are completely devoid of BDSM elements (e.g. dominance, submission, physical pain, etc.)?

        I only wish most jobs were “vanilla”. At a “vanilla” job, the employer tells the employees when to show up, when to leave, when to eat, what to wear and (in some cases) when they can go to the bathroom. Women often have to put up with the additional problem of being told that they have to wear uncomfortable shoes and plaster make-up onto their faces. It sounds a lot like lifestyle BDSM to me (minus the violent degrading sex.)

        Prostitution is all that and more. In addition to having all the aforementioned things controlled (by either the pimp or the customer), prostituted women are required to ensure that their breasts, abdomens, butts and genital regions are in conformity with prettiness norms. I do not understand how liberals can defend an industry in which physical appearance is undeniably one of the main criteria determining women’s wages. At least in “vanilla” jobs, employers pretend they do not discriminate based on appearance and women can leave their genitals as they are. Prostitution involves granting employers and customers total access to and thus total (though sometimes indirect) control over women’s bodies.

        On some level, prostitution is a job like any other, but this recognition should lead to a delegitimisation of work, not a legitimisation of prostitution. The sex industry takes all the standard exploitative elements of work under capitalism and amplifies them. This is why I advocate the creation of a “vanilla economy” (LOL), through a revolutionary uprising by the exploited masses and the overthrow of the capitalist class. I guess this makes me boring and conventional (Google’s definition of “vanilla”), right?

        • Meghan Murphy

          “Vanilla” is the new way to shame/coerce women into supporting/acquiescing to male power. If you don’t like to be degraded or abused (or, at least, pretend to like it), you’re ‘vanilla’. Patriarchy is sexy! and exciting! Feminism (you know, the radical movement) is repressive, prudish, and ‘vanilla.’ Cool trick, assholes!

    • Priscila

      “Sex trafficking wouldn’t exist if we just allowed women/whoever to have sex for money, freely and without judgement.”

      How and why? Please explain how exactly the removal of “judgement” would end sex trafficking.

    • bella_cose

      “Sex trafficking wouldn’t exist if we just allowed women/whoever to have sex for money, freely and without judgement.”

      You realize that makes no sense at all, right? Sex trafficking exists because men are entitled pigs, and there are not enough women who want to be sexually exploited and abused by entitled pigs for money. In fact, in a world where women were respected, and had the same opportunities as men socially and economically, I would bet almost no woman would “choose” to enter prostitution.

    • Dewey

      Except the data contradicts your argument: trafficking *increases* when prostitution is legalized (see Germany and the Netherlands). It’s like adding fuel to a fire; allowing expansion in an inherently exploitative industry leads to increased exploitation. The prevailing attitude of johns- “I’m entitled to use a woman’s body for my own sexual gratification, directing the experience from beginning to end with no consideration for the participant’s needs, desires or boundaries”- is extraordinarily narcissistic in nature. The driving force is male supremacy, the desire to dominate and exploit women. If men were seeking a genuinely respectful and consensual sexual encounter, they would want to know that the woman’s sexual boundaries were not being violated, that she felt safe from beginning to end, there would be mutual satisfaction.

      Prostitution bears a resemblance to sex, but it isn’t sex.

      The fact that you’re unable to earn a living wage outside of the sex industry is because you live in a capitalistic society founded on patriarchal ideals; i.e., the dual philosophies that a woman’s primary worth resides in her fuckability and the disadvantaged should be mined by the upper classes for every last bit of usefulness, then tossed aside like yesterday’s trash. Political upheaval is the answer to the problem, not a faux solution like “legalization of prostitution”, that expands the power and domain of the privileged classes.

      • Dewey

        Another thought: Prostitution can never be effectively destigmatized because the johns would never allow it. A major incentive for hiring a prostitute- a descriptive term, not an epithet- is the taboo nature of the transaction. Men, under cover of night, stealthily seek out a masculinity affirming experience with a “dirty whore” (now there’s an epithet). If they can’t perceive of the experience as demeaning for the prostitute, it’s lost all its attraction.

        Then you have your suit and tie types that essentially want the same thing, but classed up a bit. Aesthetics are more important, as is intelligence. That doesn’t make the transaction any less of a power-over dynamic, however.

        Men are responsible for creating the wives/mothers of their children and dirty whores dichotomy. Because that’s the way they like it.

        • Priscila

          Yes, exactly. It makes total sense and resonates with Ellesar’s comment: “they LIKE knowing that she is fucked up, an addict, whatever. IT MAKES THEM FEEL SUPERIOR AND BETTER ABOUT THEIR SHITTY LIVES.”

          How had I never thought of that? [facepalming]

        • ArgleBargle

          The stigma is also used to keep girls who have been prostituted from leaving. “Once a ho, always a ho” is flung by pimps at girls they have prostituted to keep them ashamed, afraid, and in line, thinking they have nowhere else to go, no one else will ever want to be with them, no one will help them. Calling these girls and women “sex workers” does nothing to remove that stigma and does nothing to reduce the harm a john does to a woman or a girl when he pays to rape her.

          Look at how the efforts to combat rape myths have changed society’s attitudes towards the victim. There is still much to be done in this area, but there has been a major shift in perception around rape, rape victims and men who rape.

          Prostitution is paid rape. Johns are men who pay to rape women and girls. They should be named and held accountable. Johns and their enablers are the ones who should be carrying the shame and stigma.

    • I’m just curious. Is that “service” separate/divorced from the body of aforementioned women & girls? For what exactly is the male paying? For putting his penis in an abstract entity?

      • Lee

        “Holes” (as SexyFunFems often like to call female body parts) are just commodities, don’tchyaknow. Ain’t no thang.

      • Dewey

        I’m partial to the term “renting”. Pimps, brothel owners, massage parlor operators, madams, etc. are the owners who rent out their human fuck toys.

        Can you imagine a pimp ever conceiving of himself as an employer? Of autonomous human beings? Pretty sure there’s a reason these sleazebags always refer to the women as “MY girls”.

      • Funkstar

        Yeah pretty much.

    • Ann

      I accidentally ‘liked’ this comment. I didn’t mean to.

      Sex trafficking exists because there are criminal men who want to make money from the sexual exploitation of girls and women, and because there’s a demand from men to sexually exploit girls and women. It has nothing to do with judging women in prostitution. The stigma towards women in prostitution comes from men. They want what they perceive to be a ‘whore’, not a woman. Good luck getting rid of the stigma. The stigma is the entire point for them.

      ‘Sex work’ is a term that’s offensive and considered a slur to a lot of women and girls who did not experience prostitution as work.

      Girls and women become sick, injured or develop physical and psychological disabilities as a direct result of doing prostitution. This can impact their employment and economic security in the long term, and every other aspect of their lives as well. It’s appalling that women with disabilities should have to do prostitution a a means of surviving. This is a sign of something deeply wrong with society, not something to celebrate.

      • Ann

        So liberals argue for the ‘right’ of men with disabilities to use women in prostitution, and for the ‘right’ of women with disabilities to do prostitution. Interesting.

    • Marie

      I’ve never heard the term ‘vanilla’ jobs, but it sounds like you’re saying that prostitution is not like other jobs. If it’s just a job like other service jobs why the need to set it apart like that? Isn’t that stigmatizing ‘sex work’? By the way, how old do the girls that you mentioned have to be to get one of these jobs and what qualifications and experience do they need to have on their resume?

    • Zhang He

      Im sorry, but having to do it out of desperation doesn’t sound a lot like a choice to me. I keep hearing sex workers ( the 3% of “happy hookers” ) use the idea that they simply must sell their bodies or starve as a pro-legalization point. But I’d argue that if a woman is in such dire straits that she cannot get any other job, or any other form of income, than she truly has no choice. No choice = no true consent. She is having sex when she doesn’t want to, because she is forced to.
      And that is a problem.
      I too was in the sex industry once upon a time. I worked in a BDSM “dungeon”. I’m not proud of it, but at the time, I was very very ill, in the throws of undiagnosed PTSD. You know what I realized? The woman who ran this set up chose all the youngest, and most mentally unstable of girls. She embraced them and acted like she was providing us with some kind of motherly care, She gave *many* of them drugs of all kinds. One of her clients was a doctor who could get his hands on just about everything, and he ended up OD’ing in the house.
      It was far, far, from this wonderland of consenting adults the pro-prostitution lobby loves to describe.
      I did not know ONE person who wasn’t sick in some way. From schizophrenic girls, to BPD, to bipolar disorder etc etc. Then there were the poor immigrant women who were desperate to pay their bills. She used their naivety and lack of knowledge to convince them that selling their bodies to men made them “strong women” who control their own future. It was utter tripe.

      The men only came to beat young girls, and try to push the limits of what they could do to them, because “they paid for it”.
      Girls who thought they were “empowered” were actually just lost children who thought it was all a game until they realized how dark, violent, and soul-crushing it was.
      This was one of the “high end” places. The places everyone points to when they want to show how lucrative and amazing it would be to legalize prostitution.

      I don’t care what any sex-worker says. It is a world filled with corruption, misogyny, violence, drug abuse, disease, and death. I was one of the lucky few. I was able to wake up and leave. The thousands of women who are trafficked as a direct result of the voracious demand for female bodies? OR THE ONES THAT ARE coerced by boyfriends that become their pimps? They don’t have a hope in hell unless WE do something about it.

      Sorry, not drinking the Kool-aid that this is a “job just like any other job and sex-workers love it! Empowerment”. I know for a fact it simply isn’t true most of the time.

      • Funkstar

        Great post. Just wanted to throw in some more anecdotal info.
        I attended a BPD support group at one point. 3 out of 10 women there were sex workers. If BPD sits at apprx 2% of the general population, that’s one in 50 women with the diagnosis….yet 30% in this group?!

        My explanation/maths is a bit convoluted, but you get the point. Sex work takes advantage/exploits traumatised, mentally ill people. It’s a vile, disgusting industry.
        Anyone supporting this industry can go f*ck themselves. Fu@*ing scumbags. I’m Sick of being polite with apologists, while actual human beings are suffering.

    • lib

      Yeah and the nordic model will give you education and training and housing counselling and rehab so you can actually get a real career that suits your special needs and pays a decent salary and not merely a living wage that you only just earn by enduring endless sexual abuse. I am a prostitute too, I am also dependend on paid rape for a living wage. This is our way out! This is our way to finanally get legal justice against the men who rape us and who sell us for their own profit. No men are not paying for a service when they buy us, they are paying for sexual access to our bodies and to commit violence against us and get away with it. If it were up to me they’d all get the fucking chair.

    • Lisi

      Kay, why is ‘prostitute’ a slur? If you were so comfortable with what you do and confident in your own skin, why does it matter what anybody calls you? Sorry, punters don’t buy a service; they buy a living body. And their expectations are getting more and more violent–anal sex without condoms, fist fucking, thrusting penises down women’s throats until they gag, wanting to cum in their mouths.

      When you sell it, it’s not yours any more. Your body doesn’t belong to you once the money has been exchanged. You are at their whim. Sure, you can have a long list of stipulations, but should he choose to, at any moment, he can turn and rape you, beat you or kill you.

      Why should you as the seller bear the burden for a man’s shameful behaviour? Let him wear the shame and the blame. That’s what the Nordic model does. It doesn’t make you the criminal; it makes the man, the buyer, the criminal. And if you want to exit, exit strategies are part of that model.

      Your comment “Sex trafficking wouldn’t exist if we just allowed women/whoever to have sex for money, freely and without judgement”. The problem is not that people cannot have sex freely. Women have sex with whomever they please, as do men. Free sex has nothing to do with sex trafficking. The problem is that men think that women are commodities. They believe they’re entitled to a subclass of people to service their sexual needs. Perhaps if countries send men the message that they are NOT entitled to assisted orgasms, men will learn that they cannot use and abuse women.

      We live in a world where women are trafficked from third world countries such as Romania to countries such as Germany & NZ where prostitution has been decriminalised or legalised. These women are forced to have sex with up to 20 men a day. They are forced to have sex without condoms; their locked up; their passports are confiscated by their ‘boyfriend’ (pimp) or brothel owner. That’s got nothing to do with ‘free sex’.

      The world is saturated with and revolves around men’s sexual needs. Half the time women don’t even know what turns them on; they are so out of touch with their own sexuality. Where is the class to service our sexual needs? The world is skewed. Some women have been victims for so long, that they don’t even recognise their victimality (not sure that’s a word). Especially women who’ve been abused as children (as studies show most prostitutes have) have no frame of reference; they know no difference. They don’t even recognise it as ‘abuse’.

    • Tuesday Adamms

      I am going to say this as a former prostitute. From 2009-2013.
      1) Sex trafficking and others institutionalized forms of abuse within the commercial sex industry exist because many people are POS. Not because of laws against sex for money.
      2) Prostitute is the accurate term. Words are only slurs when when their intrinsic nature is something you find degrading. I will call myself a prostitute or a whore. Those words have zero affect.
      3) I know why I had to do sex work. I am not ashamed of that. It was easy enough for me to do, as I separate sex from love and always have. So I am not moralizing at you about that. However, I had an absolute crazy position of privilege. College educated, conventionally attractive, upper middle class, American. I wasn’t a victim of anything other than a temporary bad situation. THAT IS NOT THE NORM. This petition, and AI’s advocacy, are addressing the 99.999% of most prostitutes. If you don’t get that, you are naive.

    • Tuesday Adamms

      And also: That you can’t make a living way by any others means is symptomatic of a messed up system of capitalism.

    • Lisi

      Yes, nowadays if you don’t want anal sex you are a prude and ‘vanilla’. I was on a well-known liberal feminist FB page and said that I had never had, nor did I want to have, anal sex. A woman has NO erogenous zones up her anus (unlike men). Wow, the responses I received would have made you think I was frigid and a complete prude. btwy, I have had a lot of sex in my life (with my husband). I’ve done just about every position you can think of and have plenty of good tricks up my sleeve. But I just don’t see the point of having a penis stuck up there when I’m not going to enjoy it. I had a swarm of young women telling me how erotic, sensual and enjoyable it was, as long as you had a lot of lube and took your time. It was though they were taking the high moral ground and pontificating about my ‘judginess’. If it takes a lot of lube to get a penis in an orifice, that tells me that it’s not meant to go there. If it takes a lot of time to get it in there, that also tells me it’s not supposed to go there. So, yeah, apparently I’m ‘vanilla’ because I don’t want to try anal sex. Next I’ll be called ‘vanilla’ because I don’t want to be fist-fucked.

    • SaVa

      Hi. I worked in prostitution for too long. In some ways I held privelege, in other ways not so much. Teenage runaway from domestic violence. White and given ‘opportunity’ to ’empower’ myself to be able to pay rent, bills, food, doctor, buy clothes and shoes etc It was pre decriminalisation New Zealand when I started. It was post law reform when I finished. I did ‘vanilla’, light b&d as the mistress, golden showers (on them), role play such as school uniform (very popular and ironically one I should have been wearing in the daytime) and private strip with ‘happy ending’. I was priveleged in the sense that I could decide services. I didn’t do b&d as a submissive or let them golden shower me, or do anal or spanking etc I worked parlour, street, escorting, bar, hotel, motel, private. In the illegal days, I set my own prices after being told what the average was. Then the law changed and it was decriminalised. Suddenly the brothels (previously called parlours) set the prices. It was considerably lower. They also found excuses to take as much of that as possible: shift fee, towel fee, room fee, late fees for shift and for room usage, hair not perfect fines, must wear stockings and if laddered, fine, makeup not perfect fine, advertising fees, drivers fee for outcalls… The costs started mounting horrendously. Sufdenly there was an influx of ‘Thai girls’ who lived in the brothel and curiously dpoke very little English, if any. Then came the ‘menu’s’. “Johns booked a half hour anal”. “I don’t do that”. “He’s paid already”. “I don’t care. I don’t do that.” “It’s work though”. “Not to me, it isn’t”. I had the experience to stand up to that. New girls didn’t. Doubles and bi-doubles started to change. Girls were foregoing condoms, not instructing guys on keeping it clean, swallowing for extra cash… All things I’d never had to deal with before.

      Decriminalisation was the worst thing to happen. I know it’s not what you want to hear. You want to hear that the old illegal days were nasty, cruel, unsafe, harsh, and offered no protection. In a nutshell, the decrim narrative is bs! I’m not saying it was good, or problem free. Far from it. This is why I fight for the decriminalisation of prostitutes and the criminalisation of pimps and johns.

      And no, I wasn’t a sex worker. I was a prostitute. I realised this during healing.

  • Chris

    I cannot believe an organization like Amnesty is doing this.

    Is this good for women or bad for women? Is punishing the victims a good idea? Maybe targetting the perpetrators is better? Shouldn’t be hard to make a decision on this.

    Forget feminism, even, if you must. Really bad men that do horrible things to women are subject to a law that either says “please do this correctly and pay your taxes”, or “this is wrong and if you do it, you will go to jail”.

    I vote for jail.

  • Rich

    “Celebrity endorsements are not the backbone of our movement and they never will be, but they help, in terms of pressure and exposure.”

    Certainly Cote’s piece was a cheap shot (and I say that as someone who supports neither legalization nor the Nordic model). But in mocking the celebrity endorsements, she focused on something that, IMO, resonates with many. Anything having to do with celebrities is starting to seem tiresome. I think a lot of people are sick of hearing from celebrities. I don’t see why Ashly Judd’s or Kevin Kline’s opinions on prostitution are of more interest, or entitled to any more credibility, than yours, or mine, or those of any random person one could ask while walking down the street. (Now, if they want to talk about acting, directing, film making, different story).

    • corvid

      What if said celebrities have genuinely done their research?  Do they not have a responsibility, as people thrust into the public eye for better or worse, to use their power (however undeserved) for good?

      Why, as soon as they try to use their platform to support real social justice work on behalf of women, is it suddenly “we’re sick of hearing from these people?” I find celebrities stumping for stupid, frivolous products that are harmful to women extremely objectionable and that happens constantly.

      • Rich

        “What if said celebrities have genuinely done their research? Do they not have a responsibility, as people thrust into the public eye for better or worse, to use their power (however undeserved) for good?”

        They are not, for the most part, “thrust” into the public eye. Most of them thrust themselves into the public eye. But I am not criticizing them so much for trying to make their voices heard, as saying that the current obsession with celebrities has gotten to the point that, good intentions, bad intentions, homework or no, there are a lot of people who are just sick to death of hearing from celebrities (as “celebrities”) about anything.

        “Why, as soon as they try to use their platform to support real social justice work on behalf of women, is it suddenly “we’re sick of hearing from these people?”

        It has nothing to do with the particular stance they are taking, and everything to do with our culture being so celebrity obsessed.

        The whole concept of “celebrity” is a problematic. If someone is commenting on something within their expertise, they would be doing so as an successful actor, or writer, or film maker, or basketball player, not as a “celebrity.” And many celebrities don’t seem to have done anything significant at all in any field, they are celebrities because they are celebrities.

        I doubt very much that I am alone in being tired of the whole thing. Or in thinking that it has reached the point where it is an indication of something seriously wrong in the culture.

        So when Cote took that approach, she was tapping into an available body of sentiment against celebrity endorsements, albeit in the service of a hack job attack.

        • corvid

          Yes, taking advantage of celebrity fatigue was a very clever angle for this particular story and its attendant agenda.

          I think that in an ideal world, there would be no “celebrities” as we know them. For now, these particular folks happen to be right on this issue.

  • Ben

    I was absolutely stunned by the article in Jezebel. It couldn’t have been more misleading. What’s worse, I have seen intelligent feminist friends sharing it on social media, seemingly oblivious to the fact that it’s an unethical hack job. It is infuriating.

    Disagreements in feminist discourse are frequent. This is not that. This is a supposedly feminist website sabotaging the efforts of experts campaigning for the liberation of women from sexual abuse, and doing it to generate a few clicks with a lazy “celebrity” angle. It beggars belief.

    • tinfoil hattie

      Jezebel isn’t even close to being a feminist website.

  • “But fear not: learned gender studies scholars like Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, and Kevin Kline are here to tell you that it’s a bad idea.”

    And when learned gender studies scholars do take a stand against prostitution (which is rarely, because liberalism is the dominant viewpoint within universities) they are attacked for being “privileged, white feminists”. In other words, women who don’t go to university and disagree with liberalism suck and women who do go to university and disagree with liberalism also suck. There is no way to win with these people. They just use “identities” as cover for ideological conflicts, because they can’t stand the fact that some people just disagree with them.

    That said, I am annoyed by the fact that certain people’s political views are taken more seriously simply because they appear on television and in movies often (though Anne Hathaway did play a prostituted woman, so she might actually know something about the matter), but just because celebrity opinions are not worth more than ordinary people’s opinions does not mean they are worth less. It certainly does not make sense to dismiss a cause, because a tiny percentage of the people endorsing it are celebrities. In fact I would not be surprised if the amount of celebrity endorsement obtained by such letters/petitions is disproportionately small, since Hollywood is extremely pro-sex (as evidenced by the fact that they make entire movies which revolve around men trying to get it and shove images of butts and boobs down our throats constantly.)

    • A Non-White Feminist

      Ugh a Latina on Feministing just pulled a similar kind of article except that she said they’re all out of touch White rich women who support “criminalization” and went off on some list of legitimate state power abuses as if they had anything to do with decriminalizing prostitution as opposed to legalizing johns.

      I wonder how much class influences how people view this to me. Because working class women IMO as far as I’ve seen seem more likely to find the liberal feminist line nonsensical but middle class (particularly college educated) women seem more like to advocate it. I guess growing up relatively comfortably helps people maintain illusions of individualism and how reform will fix everything.

  • DefenderofThemyscira

    And this is why no one takes feminism seriously these days because of immature and spiteful people like her writing articles like that. She is nothing more than a handmaid of the patriarchy. It’s ironic how liberal feminists are dissing the very celebrities they claim to idolise, even when what said celebrities are doing is the rational thing. It tells me that they have an agenda and this agenda does not prioritise women at all and is hypocritical when it says it does. She made it look like we are the sheep for being against an oppressive industry that damages women everyday which doesn’t make sense at all. In reality she is the one who is a shill by expressing her support for the sex industry.

  • Arguably, celebrity endorsement can be seen to offer a premium for the reason that celebrities, aware that their identities are more conspicuous and their public statements travel far more quickly through social and other media so are likely to think more carefully and seriously before attaching their name to any public statement. Anyone who is active on twitter and follows any account in the name of a well known media personality will have noticed that any tweets from that direction are probably the most vacuous innofensive and intellectually inane of any they are likely to see. When a celebrity commits one way or another to any ideological viewpoint it is likely to have been mulled over far more thoroughly than the usual click/send visceral response mechanism that is the social media norm.

  • K

    Almost every single article on Jezebel right now is about celebrity gossip.

    Fuck this earth, all I can say.

    • K

      Can I add that its incredibly misogynistic too? Like they have a weekly thing where they talk about female celebrities called “This Week in Tabloids” in addition to constantly talking about female celebrities in general. They constantly are dissecting these women and critiquing them. Maybe not in physical appearance like misogynist men do, but definitely in a creepy, objectifying way. They all seem uber-involved with this and it just grosses me out how they can claim to take the higher road, while taking away privacy from women in the public eye (by spending all day gossiping about their personal lives).

      • Cindi Gold

        Jezebel is *not* a ”feminist” site! They promote pornography and they promoted the horrendous written version of it,Fifty Shades of Grey! So did Feministing in the Spring of 2012 when it first came out. As a poster on the I Blame The Patriarchy blog once said, Jezebel is a feminist site it’s like Cosmopolitan Magazine.

  • Sofia

    I cant stand libfems. They are the only feminists you hear about, and thats shit. Im 17 years old and Ive found radical feminism, but I had to search for it. For the one hand I feel happy that I found it so young, for the other hand, having this knowledge about feminism and the world makes me sad. It makes me realize how fucked up the world is, and nobody seems to notice. I may sound exaggerated but sometimes I want to die for being a woman in this world and knowing all these things most people ignore, because I dont see hope in the future. Now women can vote and be presidents and work and all that, but it seems to me that now men hate us like they have never before, and beauty standars grow higher and higher for women, and porn is becoming more and more violent and misogynistic. So, I believe the progress that has been done has been ‘balanced’.

    • Dewey

      The good news it that you were able to find it. Back in my day, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and the internet hadn’t yet been invented, there were many young women whose singular impression of feminism was “equality”. As in, women could pursue the same educational avenues and careers that men traditionally dominated, women didn’t have to stay at home and raise babies if they didn’t want to, and, heck, you could even wear a pantsuit to work if it struck your fancy. There weren’t any support groups for “modern women”, feminists weren’t congregating (not in small towns, anyway) to discuss the trials and tribulations of life in a patriarchal society. We didn’t even know what the word “patriarchy” meant. We were pretty much in the dark with a very rudimentary understanding of feminism to guide us.

      That you, at 17, have become the owner of this profundity of knowledge about feminism and are eager to make use of it is, in my eyes, nothing short of a miracle. You are already light years ahead of my generation (the ones that conveniently “forgot” about the second wavers) and I am confident that you will be OK. When I reflect back on my early adult years, I can see how having radical feminism in my life would’ve dramatically altered my choices for the better. What you have is an amazing gift. Maybe it doesn’t feel that way at the moment, but it will.

    • Rachel

      You are so right with your views, that although women have more ‘rights’ on the surface, we are more hated and objectified sexually than ever. I used to say the beauty standards and sexual expectations of women (I.e being ok with porn/ letting men off the hook for bad behaviour) was just another way to “stuff is back in our box”. I didn’t know anything about feminism back then, and was often laughed at or told I “think too much” by friends and family. So I really understand what you mean when you say that it feels like no one else can see it, I’m sure every woman on here probably feels that way, at least as some point in their life! I don’t think you are exaggerating when you say you feel like you want to die for being a woman in this world sometimes. I too, and probably many others on here, have felt that way before! This website has really given me more hope though, not because it means day to day life changes, but because it’s somewhere safe I can go with other women who ‘get it’. It’s somewhere I can go that helps strengthen my views and soul, and feel that I can keep fighting for the best for women. No matter how many people disagree. So I hope that you’re ok, and you stick around because they world could do with more people who understand like you do! I’m glad you found radical feminism at such a young age too, because you have a better chance of not ending up in situations that some others would’ve gone through leading them here.

    • Funkstar

      You’re the future Sofia, stay strong!

  • Dewey

    Ashley Judd, I understand, but Lena Dunham? That one was a shocker, and maybe, at least in part, responsible for the acerbic skewering of celebs supporting the CATW’s efforts. It’s got to sting a little when, as a member of the Cool Girlfriends(tm) Club that is third wave feminism, you suddenly find yourself at ideological odds with one or more millenial heroes. After all, if you wholeheartedly believed you were doing feminism right and a high profile feminist you admire challenges your most cherished sex pozzie beliefs, you may find yourself mentally flailing in cognitive dissonance land. Anger is not an uncommon response.

    Let this be a lesson to the Cool Girlfriends(tm) of the world: prostitution is inherently exploitative, the evidence bears this out, and Lena Dunham is not on your side. Allow me to gleefully repeat that: Lena Dunham. Is not. On. Your side.

  • Lisi

    Sorry, I’m venting here and this is slightly off track. Listen to this progressive, liberal dude talk about the ‘agency’ of women who appear in porn. He has posted it on Clementine Ford’s FB page (in response to something I posted). He uses exactly the same language as that of a liberal feminist:

    “Bryan Rodgers: Comments like these barely deserve a response, but I’ll leave you with this.

    The models/actors (women that are 18+) have full agency over their own life affairs, their own body and their own sexuality, do they not? Do you think you should have similar agency over that of yours?

    To assert that these women are being commodified takes a patronising and infantilising view of this agency.

    Providing that the production businesses act in good faith and are upfront on what they do, that the models’ consent is respected, and the models get paid what they ask for – then I’m not in a place to be judgmental on those activities.

    Of course, businesses need to be held to account for their ethics; like all industries there are bad operators as well as good ones in the adult industry, and I believe sex workers deserve employment rights and protections, and have access to outreach support groups just like any other type of worker.

    I would strongly suggest you be more consultative of the opinions of women that have modelled for erotica/porn projects. I have personally known numerous women who modelled for the website that I used to work for, and I’d wager many of them would vehemently reject some of the assertions that you’ve made about their predicaments in this comment thread.”

    It’s pretty vomit worthy.

  • Smi

    i love reading the comments on here by people who have thought this through. It’s so inspiring and positive, and affirming. Thanks everyone for sharing your views. Including Meghan for making this dialogue possible.

  • Okay, so it’s not just celebrities. Who the fuck cares? People who “survived” working in an industry shouldn’t get to determine whether or not people working in it now are able to avail themselves of protection from violence by working in a decriminalized industry.

    When current sex workers are clamoring to criminalize their clients, then maybe I’ll give a shit.

    • Priscila

      So in your world the only ones ALLOWED (!) to fight slavery are the ones currently enslaved.

      Interesting.

    • asdf

      “When current sex workers are clamoring to criminalize their clients, then maybe I’ll give a shit” holy shit that’s idiotic, making it illegal will obviously make the johns nervous and want to go to a secluded area=more potential for violence

      • Ann

        So you’re acknowledging that this ‘job’ is very violent? Should our society condone jobs that are inherently dangerous and violent towards women, not only to their safety but also to their physical and psychological health – short and long term? How will completely deregulating the industry protect women from this danger and violence, verbal abuse, assault, rape and murder? These violent men will be very happy to know that they now have free reign to do what they want to women because society implicitly condones it with these laws.

    • SaVa

      Please give an example of any other industry where years of experience are less valuable than someone in their first year.

  • SaVa

    Former prostitute here.

    When I the industry the majority of ‘sex workers’ require the empowerment and choice narrative to survive. Their is a process of trauma bonding and the stance of decriminalisation is a must.

    After leaving, the fog of dissociation starts wearing off, flashbacks start, trauma bonding starts breaking down and it is then, that healing begins. Some of us begin actiively fighting for abolition/the Nordic Model.

    This is why there is two camps of current for decrim and exited for Nordic. Behind the brothel walls there is a lot of threat, manipulation and reward vs punishment brainwashing.

  • Anonymous

    I commented on a similar article on Feministing and said that I was a former sex worker who opposed Amnesty, and not even a “washed up second-waver” (which is how I think she worded her attack – ageism much?) and they didn’t approve my comment.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Pathetic. That article was awful.

    • Ann

      They only want to ‘listen to sex workers’ when they agree with their stance.