Where are the sex-positive dudes at? (An invitation)

27 Jul

I’ve noticed, because I can read, that there are an awful lot more women out there fighting for women’s “right” to get naked, get fucked, and have the whole thing taped than there are men doing so. Why might that be? Every time I get into a conversation about sex positivism or third wavism (coinage!) with a group of people (that doesn’t include any radical feminists), the men (even the ones who use porn) seem more likely, if they’re being honest, to agree with me that porn and prostitution exist in inherent conflict with feminism, whereas the women want to tell me I’m blowing it as a feminist because I’m excluding women who engage in sex work from feminism. I’ve even met a few women who have told me that I’m worse than men are because I’m trying to tell them what to do, because I’m trying to limit their choices, as opposed to the men, who are all about letting them exercise their freedom and express their sexuality. That’s a real knee slapper.

Where are the men who want to argue vociferously for women’s “right” to participate in their own exploitation? Where are the men clambering to convince me that (women) getting naked for money is empowering? Where are all the dudes who want to tell me that feminism is about “choice” and that women who are making the “choice” to suck a bunch of dicks for money are leading the charge toward some future utopia in which women will be safe, free, and human? Not many of these men exist, because most men know that they’d have a hard time keeping a straight face while making such claims. So why are women making the claim for them?

As stupid as I think most (MOST – calm down) men are, it’s pretty goddamn brilliant that they’ve gotten women to run around fighting the porn/prostitution battle for them. “Sex-positive” “feminists” are the greatest allies men have ever had in their quest for ever more unfettered access to women’s bodies and a free pass to degrade and abuse women. I mean, if you can get a few women to acquiesce to your porn fantasies and call it a feminist choice, you’re the fucking man, right? You don’t have to claim responsibility for the damage caused to some women because you’ve got a few other women who will call the women hurt by your support for the sex industry anti-woman and anti-sex. Fuck yeah!

I’ve had untold numbers of dudes make comments to me that let me know how men really see sex positivism. One example: some asshole, in trying to belittle my blog and feminism in general, commented, “Get off the internet. But if you’re one of those sex-positive types, I do oral.” Mmmhmm.

Most men love sex positivism and hate radical feminism. That should tell us something.

There are some ethical issues involved in sex work of all kinds. Performing sex acts for money isn’t apolitical, and it doesn’t take place in a vacuum. Women who participate in sex work and run around telling people that it’s a “choice” and that it’s “empowering” and that it’s somehow a feminist act have an effect on other women’s lives, whether they like it or not. They shove a detour into feminist discourse and make it possible for the public to ignore the chief problems women still face while they’re arguing about whether pole dancing is what feminism is all about.

But, apparently, asking someone to think about something is akin to telling them they’re worthless and have no agency, according to the sex-positive types I’ve been reading. Well, I’m not doing that, and I expect people to discuss things like rational adults, not get all whiny because they are uncomfortable with the issues my questions raise.

I want to say first that this post is in no way directed toward women who are unwillingly involved in sex work, but rather toward women who conceive of sex work as a choice, and a feminist one at that. I have said this before and I’ll say it again now: I’m not here to take pity on “choice” sex workers for not “getting” what I “get.” I understand that we all live under the same oppressive system, that we get by in whatever ways we can, and that we all face different obstacles and have different priorities. I’m not calling sex workers sellouts, I’m not saying they’re deluded, and I’m not going to decide the consent issue for them. But I, unlike many purportedly pro-sex-worker feminists, will not patronize “choice” sex workers or their advocates or treat them like babies by refusing to ask them to explain their positions (pisaquaririse brought my attention to that tendency, which I thank her for because it helped me tremendously as I formulated this post).

With that out of the way, I’m inviting anyone who calls her/himself a sex-positive feminist or who refers to sex work as a feminist choice to answer the following questions, and I promise to be fair, civil, and reasonable in discussing them:

  • Do you believe that women would participate in sex work if we did not live in an oppressive, misogynistic culture? If so, what would the sex industry look like in a world in which women were seen as possessing the same humanity men do?
  • Do you believe that pornography and prostitution negatively affect some women’s lives (obviously some sex workers suffer abuse, but I am referring to women outside the sex industry here)? If not, why not? If so, does any of the responsibility for that lie with sex workers, or does it lie solely with the producers and pimps? Or somewhere else?
  • Why aren’t there more men out there arguing for women’s “right” to participate in sex work? What do you make of the fact that very few men call sex work a feminist choice? I’d also be happy to discuss the arguments of men who do make such a claim.
  • Can women like Jenna Jameson be considered feminists for taking leadership roles in the production of pornography? Why or why not? If the answer is yes, how can we reconcile the negative effects pornography has on women’s lives with referring to a producer of mainstream pornography as a feminist?
  • How can sex work empower individual women when it requires that women submit to being objectified and performing acts for money rather than out of genuine desire to do them?
  • Alternatively, if one genuinely enjoys something and gets paid for it, does it become a feminist act?
  • In other words, does feminism exist to advance the cause of women as a whole or for individual women to use as a justification for their personal choices?
  • If sex work is a valid, feminist choice for individual women, what are we to make of women who say that their participation in sex work resulted from their dire poverty, drug addiction, etc. being exploited by pimps and porn producers?
  • I see sex work as a reductionist commodification of human sexuality. Do you think that the reduction of sex to a commodity has a negative effect on our ability to explore and express the potential of human sexuality? If not, why not?
  • If you’re a sex-positive dude, tell me why. Why are you in such a huff to help women out? And why does it manifest as sex positivism? Why is your desire to help women out limited to arguing for their “right” to serve you sexually?

I realize I’m asking a lot of big questions and that I’m leaving a lot out. Please feel free to bring up anything you think germane, and to pick and choose what to address.  I also realize that I’ve framed the debate, but I don’t care. I’ve wanted the answers to these questions for a long time, and I have to pose the questions if I’m going to get the answers I seek. You see, these questions stem not from a desire to trap anyone, but from my own honest sticking points when I think about what I’ve seen of the sex-positive position.


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311 Responses to “Where are the sex-positive dudes at? (An invitation)”

  1. thebewilderness July 27, 2008 at 10:23 PM #

    “Where are the men who want to convince me that getting naked for money is empowering? Where are all the dudes who want to tell me that feminism is about “choice” and that women who are making the “choice” to suck a bunch of dicks for money are leading the charge toward some future utopia in which women are safe, free, and human?”

    Trolling the schoolyard for 12 year old “girlfriends” to condition, would be my guess. Oh, and the highway for runaways who have already been conditioned by their fathers, uncles, and brothers.

  2. Jen July 27, 2008 at 11:09 PM #

    Funny thing is, I run into lots and lots of men that call stripping “empowering” and all sorts of things in my circle of liberal dudez. Just start frequenting some liberal or libertarian (yuck on the second) circles and watch the men go around frothing at the mouth exclaiming the word “choice!” over and over. My experience is that the women give me shit for being too “abrasive” and the men go on and on about choices and how I’m a horrible person for enfantilizing men or women, depending on their point.

  3. Nine Deuce July 27, 2008 at 11:17 PM #

    I know they exist, but they’re usually a lot less vocal about it than the women are, at least on blogs. I’ve had plenty of dudes tell me that sex work is a choice, but they are usually doing so as a way to show their disapproval (even though they consume the product) rather than argue that it amounts to feminism. I think most of them know it’s disingenuous to claim that sex work is a feminist choice, not that that will always keep them from saying they think it is to get chicks to get naked.

  4. crankosaur July 28, 2008 at 12:53 AM #

    Most men are quiet about sex positivism because they know that when they go to a strip club with their friends, they’re not thinking about how empowered the strippers are but that they’re sluts/whores/etc. If the sex positive feminists actually stopped to think about what the vast majority of men feel about female sex workers, they may be less likely to dry hump guys for money.

  5. Maggie Hays July 28, 2008 at 2:25 AM #

    Excellent post, Nine. :)

    I believe that feminism is not only about choice but also about being able to analyze the circumstances within which women make choices, and recognizing how women’s choices are somehow limited in a patriarchy. And also it is about being able to recognize how pornified cultures trains young girls & women to be sexually accessible for men’s use and, sometimes, abuse.

    The ‘sex poz’/pro-pornstitution dudes, they are very glad that pro-porn women are the ‘smokescreen’ to conceal them and thus protect their beloved ‘sex’ industry. They are totally happy that some women are willing to defend commodified misogyny in the name of ‘feminism’. This way, ‘sex poz’ men can use those pro-porn women as proxies to attack radical feminists.

    And, trust me, Nine, the ‘sex poz’ dudes are there. You can sometimes hear them cheering in the background of pro-pornstitution “feminism”. These dudes are glad that they can rest easy because their and other men’s use of porn and prostitutes remain (mostly) hidden or protected and the patriarchal status quo is being maintained.

    The men love it ’cause pro-pornstitution “feminism” is not only sheer capitulation to the status quo, it also means truly embracing male supremacy, which is exactly what the menz want!

    I like the set of questions you wrote in your post, Nine. These are truly challenging. :)

    conditioned by their fathers, uncles, and brothers

    Yep, thebewilderness, as usual.

    SSDDIP= Same Shit, Different Day In Patriarchy.

  6. psych July 28, 2008 at 4:45 AM #

    Deuce, are you familiar with battered person syndrome? I imagine that many sex-positive feminists suffer from it. It would be an absolute textbook case for a person to go into sex work and celebrate how empowering it was after a rape or a history of child sexual abuse. More and more studies continue to suggest that childhood sex abuse is frighteningly common, so I wouldn’t be surprised that many young girls are getting conditioned into being sex-positive feminists.

    I can’t possibly speak as to how many sex-positive feminists are working through psychological issues, because of course there are just some who philosophically arrived at the idea. I would imagine that it would mostly be the ones who get defensive and lash out at anyone who dares to apply feminist analysis to sex work.

    Although, I’ve never actually met a sex-positive feminist anywhere off the internet. I did stripping in both the US and Europe and never met a single sex worker who was in denial about how horrible it was. In fact, it’s pretty much status quo in the world of sex work to talk bluntly and openly about how much you hate yourself and need the sex work in order to punish yourself.

    As a side note, I’m reminded of this article from The Onion:

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/30548

  7. Nine Deuce July 28, 2008 at 5:38 AM #

    I’ve met non-sex workers who want to tell me how empowering sex work can be, and I always ask them why they aren’t out doing it themselves, to which they usually have no adequate reply.

    I just want one “choice” sex worker tell me the truth, that they know that sex work is anti-feminist but that they care more about money than they do about feminism.

    That article was hilarious.

  8. Nihilunder July 28, 2008 at 7:33 AM #

    Honest answers from a man. Enjoy.

    * Do you believe that women would participate in sex work if we did not live in an oppressive, misogynistic culture? If so, what would the sex industry look like in a world in which women were seen as possessing the same humanity men do?

    —I think our culture is sick in many ways, but to call it “mysoginistic” is oversimplistic. The fact is that we are anti-male in some ways, anti-female in others. Nobody but those who inhabit the top echelons of our society are really benefiting from this.

    That said, the sex industry in a rational, free society would be respected like any other, and those who participate in it would be treated like legitimate servicewomen/men rather than dirty secrets or subhumans to exercise our power trip desires on.

    * Do you believe that pornography and prostitution negatively affect some women’s lives (obviously some sex workers suffer abuse, but I am referring to women outside the sex industry here)? If not, why not? If so, does any of the responsibility for that lie with sex workers, or does it lie solely with the producers and pimps? Or somewhere else?

    —In its current form, yes. I think that addiction to porn prevents men from effectively and productively communicating with females, and tends to instill the madonna/whore complex you talk about. This isn’t the NECESSARY outcome of a person’s consumption of sex industry products, but in our schizophrenic society, it too often does.

    * Why aren’t there more men out there arguing for women’s “right” to participate in sex work? What do you make of the fact that very few men call sex work a feminist choice? I’d also be happy to discuss the arguments of men who do make such a claim.

    —Because most men don’t really think about the issue either way. They purchase the goods for a quick pleasure fix without philosophizing about it. See, men are more compartmental in their thinking than women; we can tell dirty jokes all day, get drunk at a strip club, then go home to our wives whom we genuinely love and respect. Our thoughts and actions aren’t quite so integrated as they are in the female mind. I know that the gender essentialist assumption this point is based on is something you don’t share, but it’s true.

    * Can women like Jenna Jameson can be considered feminists for taking leadership roles in the production of pornography? Why or why not? If the answer is yes, how can we reconcile the negative effects pornography has on women’s lives with referring to a producer of mainstream pornography as a feminist?

    —Feminism, as I understand it, is an emphasis on issues directly impacting women within whatever worldview the individual is operating in. Since I don’t think the sex industry is necessarily harmful to women, yes, Jenna Jameson can be a feminist if her goal is to make it into a legitimate, respected service. If sex positive feminists are simply trying to justify the industry as is, then no I don’t.

    * How can sex work empower individual women when it requires that women submit to being objectified and performing acts for money rather than out of genuine desire to do them?

    —You take a rather extreme view of what constitutes “objectification.” Admiring a woman’s naked body is not objectification anymore than admiring Stephen Hawking’s mind. In both cases you are paying someone to provide a service; sexual stimulation in the former case, knowledge in the latter. There is nothing wrong with only being interested in a specific aspect of someone, so long as you don’t see that person (and those of that person’s group) as being ONLY that one thing.

    As for women lacking a “genuine desire” to do certain things, nobody really wants to perform every act their jobs require. When I eat at a restaurant, I don’t particularly care if the waiter/waitress is serving me out of love for the job or simple economic necessity; I’m paying him/her for a service, that’s it.

    * Alternatively, if one genuinely enjoys something and gets paid for it, does it become a feminist act?

    —If one is treated like a human being (and no, being sexual with someone is not dehumanizing), then yes, I suppose.

    * In other words, does feminism exist to advance the cause of women as a whole or for individual women to use as a justification for their personal choices?

    —Feminism exists to ensure respect for women as human beings and alter aspects of our society that denigrate them. But, in YOUR worldview, a man only being attracted to a woman’s body rather than her mind is itself harmful to the cause of women. I don’t share it, so we can’t see eye to eye on this.

    * If sex work is a valid, feminist choice, what are we to make of women who say that their participation in sex work resulted from dire poverty, drug addiction, etc.?

    —Many career choices are made out of economic necessity rather than genuine desire. No child dreams of being a claims adjuster who atrophies in a cubicle all day. That said, drug addiction and poverty are seperate issues from sex work that need to be dealt with. They aren’t particularly relevant to this issue.

    * I see sex work as a reductionist commodification of human sexuality. Do you think that the reduction of sex to a commodity has a negative effect on our ability to explore and express the potential of human sexuality? If not, why not?

    —It depends. If your primary source of stimulation comes from commodified sex, your ability to explore real sexuality will be impaired. Sex as a commodity is to a relationship as cotton candy and McDonalds are to food: a source of temporary pleasure to be enjoyed in moderation, but not something you can sustain yourself on, or derive any lasting joy or contentment from.

    * If you’re a sex-positive dude, tell me why. Why are you in such a huff to help women out? And why does it manifest as sex positivism? Why is your desire to help women out limited to arguing for their “right” to serve you sexually?

    —I’m not really a “sex positive” dude, in that I don’t pretend that the sex industry IN ITS CURRENT FORM is beneficial for many people. But this all takes place within the context of a culture heavily influenced by Christianity. I take a more pagan outlook: sex is a natural part of life, and ought to be respected as such. Thus, a woman who chooses to provide stimulation for money is to be respected like anyone else; she may be a prostitute, but I would never call her a “whore.” I don’t have the repressive squeamishness or morbid obsession with it that traditional Christian mores have left most people with, and therefore, the problem as I see it is not that sex work exists but that those who work it are viewed as rent-a-harem-girls rather than equals.

    Again, you don’t understand how men can drool over a woman’s body (and at that time only her body) and still respect women in general as equals. I don’t fault you for this, because that’s a difficult concept for most women to wrap their heads around. It’s OK though, because these differences between men and women are what make us interesting. As long as we’re willing to communicate honestly and openly, we’ll be fine.

    But hey, we live in world that instills in us obscenely shallow conceptions of masculinity and femininity; who wants open communication? ;)

  9. Laurelin July 28, 2008 at 8:30 AM #

    Great post, Nine. x

    (please delete my last comment- it was meant to be posted at Witchy’s which was in my other browser window. Thanks!)

  10. Djiril July 28, 2008 at 8:54 AM #

    Ok, I’ll bite. I do not consider myself an expert on this subject, but these are my guesses from what I have read:
    Q: Do you believe that women would participate in sex work if we did not live in an oppressive, misogynistic culture?
    A: My guess would be yes, though probably not as many.

    Q: If so, what would the sex industry look like in a world in which women were seen as possessing the same humanity men do?
    A: The absolute right to say “no” in any situation would be recognized.
    Having a job in the sex industry would not be used against accusers in rape trials (if rape still existed in such a culture), nor would it be used as a reason to dismiss women from jobs such as teaching (such a situation was recounted in a recent issue of $pread magazine.)
    If a prostitute was raped on the job, she would be more likely to press charges and win the court case.
    Strip club owners would find it harder to make strippers pay fees out of their tips in places where doing so is illegal, meaning that strippers would not have to sue to get their money back (as has happened in a few places.)
    As for subject matter in porn, there might be less misogynistic content.

    Q:Do you believe that pornography and prostitution negatively affect some women’s lives (obviously some sex workers suffer abuse, but I am referring to women outside the sex industry here)?
    A: Possibly. However, I think the bigger issue is how women’s sexuality is viewed by society in general. I think sex workers often see the uglier side of our society and its views on women’s sexuality because they are visible as sexual women. I think they are treated how all of us would be treated if society thought of us all as sexual beings who didn’t conform to “acceptable” forms of sexuality.
    Q: If so, does any of the responsibility for that lie with sex workers, or does it lie solely with the producers and pimps? Or somewhere else?
    A: It lies with everyone who has ever looked down on another person solely because of her/his sexuality, which in this society is most of us.

    Q: Why aren’t there more men out there arguing for women’s “right” to participate in sex work? What do you make of the fact that very few men call sex work a feminist choice?
    A: If this is true, I think it is because the men do not want to be seen as sleezebags who don’t respect women, which is how a lot of people see men who do argue the above.

    Q: Can women like Jenna Jameson can be considered feminists for taking leadership roles in the production of pornography?
    A: In my opinion, there is one thing that defines a feminist, and that is the belief in equality between the sexes. If you are asking if the taking of those roles can be considered a feminist act, my answer is only if the porn in question challenges cultural assumptions about gender (and, of course, does not involve coercion of any of the people involved.)
    Q: If the answer is yes, how can we reconcile the negative effects pornography has on women’s lives with referring to a producer of mainstream pornography as a feminist?
    A: See my answer to the second question.

    Q: How can sex work empower individual women when it requires that women submit to being objectified and performing acts for money rather than out of genuine desire to do them?
    A: I do not think that sex work is inherently empowering, I just do not think that women who do it, out of free choice or not, deserve to be disrespected for it.

    Q: Alternatively, if one genuinely enjoys something and gets paid for it, does it become a feminist act?
    A: No. Did someone say it does?

    Q: In other words, does feminism exist to advance the cause of women as a whole or for individual women to use as a justification for their personal choices?
    A: The former, though I think some feminists need to walk a mile in other women’s shoes before judging their personal choices.

    Q: If sex work is a valid, feminist choice, what are we to make of women who say that their participation in sex work resulted from dire poverty, drug addiction, etc.?
    A: I think it CAN be a valid (I am assuming you mean free from coercion), and under some conditions feminist choice. Not that it ALWAYS is.
    The real argument between the feuding sides when it comes to these cases is finding the best solutions.

    Q: I see sex work as a reductionist commodification of human sexuality. Do you think that the reduction of sex to a commodity has a negative effect on our ability to explore and express the potential of human sexuality? If not, why not?
    A: I don’t know. If so, I think it can be countered with a bit of rebellion and creativity. Either way, it’s not my biggest concern on the issue of the sex industry.

  11. Djiril July 28, 2008 at 9:05 AM #

    And now a question for you. In your post you said this:

    “I’ve had untold numbers of dudes make comments to me that let me know how men really see sex positivism. One example: some asshole, in trying to belittle my blog and feminism in general, commented, “Get off the internet. But if you’re one of those sex-positive types, I do oral.” Mmmhmm.”

    These guys sound like jerks and idiots. They are certainly not the kind of people I respect. You do not seem to respect them either, and yet you are treating them as the foremost authority on us. Why is that?
    Does it occur to you that what they are really just calling us sluts, the same way they would call you ugly man haters?
    They do not “love sex positive feminism,” they are just using a standard sexist insult against us, and you are falling for it hook, line, and sinker.

  12. Friction July 28, 2008 at 11:22 AM #

    Because men are already “sex positive” by cultural default. It’s not an issue for them. Of course they want women making the right choice to cater to their sexist demands. It’s a given. I’m a sex worker by the way, and yes I think about what I do and how it symbolizes and maintains sexist values. You can read my thoughts on that here: http://www.emiliedice.com/blog/?p=282

  13. Aaron Boyden July 28, 2008 at 2:27 PM #

    I do have an answer to your third question. As a male with sex-positive feminist leanings, I’d say that the fact that I don’t bring this up a lot (my comments on your blog are an exception, not my usual habit) has nothing to do with my inability to keep a straight face while arguing the sex-pos line; I have no trouble with that. Rather, what prevents me from arguing that line very often is the fear that my arguments will be dismissed as self-serving. I imagine this may be the reason for your observed shortage of sex-positive feminist men.

    On your second to last question, I would bring up an analogy. The commodification of art has no doubt had all sorts of negative effects on human artistic expression. But it’s had lots of positive effects as well. Is it bad that commercial interests exploit artists and use their influence to corrupt artistic vision, or is it good that artists can actually make a living doing something they feel is worthwhile? I would say clearly both in the case of artists (not sure what you would say). Now, I’m not saying the case of sex workers is exactly the same, but I think there are some similarities, and as a result that the analogy does reveal some factors worth examining.

  14. RenegadeEvolution July 28, 2008 at 5:43 PM #

    My response is long, so here

    http://renegadeevolution.blogspot.com/2008/07/okay-then-so-be-it.html

  15. Nine Deuce July 28, 2008 at 6:49 PM #

    For reference, here’s the text of Ren’s response. I’ll be responding to each of the above comments shortly.

    Okay then, so be it…

    You know, there is a part of me that would really, really like to do a long, well-thought out response to this post, because in many ways, I think maybe it deserves such. However, there is a part of me that feels so many folk (myself included) have been banging their heads up against a brick wall about all this shit for so long, without anyone listening (or hearing, or remembering, or even bothering to consider, hey wait a minute, maybe “those women” are actually greater authorities on their own lives than we are!) that I just can’t do it. Nope. Not today. Plus, I am on vacation. So no long, well thought out response.

    A response however, we will have.

    First, where are all the sex-positive men? Well, on sex-positive blogs. Where they don’t generally get banned for asking questions or disagreeing on various matters, actions which, even in the most innocent of lights, can get them tossed straight off radical blogs. So, there you have it. Looking for sex-poz men? That’s where they are. Also, when discussing a woman’s or women’s rights to do much of anything (including getting fucked), generally, you are going to find more women period. I mean, where are the radical feminist men? Jensen? Richard? Actually, who really cares, since those dudes use feminism to preach and tell women what they need to do anyway, rather than, oh, actually shut up and listen. And really…even my non-feminist self has to ask? The men? Who gives a fuck? Not everything and anything is all about the men…and you know, I see a shit ton more of “woman-positive, not about the men” writing on sex poz blogs than radical ones as a general rule, so I have to wonder…really…who is truly letting their lives, thoughts, and every action be dominated by men more? It’s something many have wondered, I’m sure, but fuck it, I am too cynical not to ask at this point.

    Moving on: Now, I’m not accusing the author of pulling the whole “you have no agency” crap with women in the sex biz, but to pretend that such sentiments do not come out of noted radical feminists, and are not incredibly patronizing and utter bullshit is both ignorant and naïve. End of story.

    And men? Trust me, they aren’t the only people who hate radical feminism, or see it as corrosive and destructive. I mean, you ask about empowerment? Well, where is the empowerment in trading out one set of rules (the Pats) for another (the Mats). Hey, when you’re a Jet you’re a Jet, right? So quarries the Shark…

    “I want to say first that this post is in no way directed toward women who are unwillingly involved in sex work, but rather toward women who conceive of sex work as a choice, and a feminist one at that.”

    Humm, interesting. Feminist choice? Nah, not so much…the ability to make that choice? Yep.

    But since you asked…nicely, I’ll answer your questions. I’ve never been afraid to do that, and one need not tap dance and play nicey-nice with me. So here we go, ND:

    Do you believe that women would participate in sex work if we did not live in an oppressive, misogynistic culture? If so, what would the sex industry look like in a world in which women were seen as possessing the same humanity men do?

    Yes, I do. Sex workers are a wide and varied group, and even amid the choice ones, you have a lot of variety; from those who do it for money, to those who do it for fun, to those who see it as a spiritual calling. As for what it would look like, I’m honestly not sure, but I imagine there would be greater body acceptance of all kinds and highlighting of that, more women-centered/mutual pleasure erotica and porn, and the men would make the same amount of money as their female counterparts. Oh, and you’d see more women in high up places in production.

    Do you believe that pornography and prostitution negatively affect some women’s lives (obviously some sex workers suffer abuse, but I am referring to women outside the sex industry here)? If not, why not? If so, does any of the responsibility for that lie with sex workers, or does it lie solely with the producers and pimps? Or somewhere else?

    Yes. I do think it negatively affects some women’s lives. As for people’s bad actions, I put the responsibility where it goes: on the person(s) who committed the bad act. Do I blame women who drink or work in breweries or distilleries or in bars for domestic violence and rape? After all, booze is often thought to be a leading cause of those things. No, I do not, I blame the abusers and the rapists. Not the product, not the people who make it, not the people who sell it.

    Why aren’t there more men out there arguing for women’s “right” to participate in sex work? What do you make of the fact that very few men call sex work a feminist choice? I’d also be happy to discuss the arguments of men who do make such a claim.

    Because men could care less. Feminism and feminist choices aren’t about the men.

    Can women like Jenna Jameson can be considered feminists for taking leadership roles in the production of pornography? Why or why not? If the answer is yes, how can we reconcile the negative effects pornography has on women’s lives with referring to a producer of mainstream pornography as a feminist?

    I wouldn’t call Jenna a feminist. A brilliant business woman, yes, and as far as I know, she doesn’t claim to be a feminist. However, other female pornographers? Yes, I would absolutely defend their rights to call themselves feminists, women such as Candida Royalle, for instance, because she makes women-centered and woman centric porn (Jenna does not). I can reconcile this because her porn has nothing to do with hurting, degrading, humilating, or demeaning women…and has everything to do with female pleasure.

    How can sex work empower individual women when it requires that women submit to being objectified and performing acts for money rather than out of genuine desire to do them?

    How can you asuume there is no genuine desire to do them? You may not ever fathom the idea, but you are not every woman. I enjoy what I do, I have a genuine desire to do it, even amid other attractive options, I find it empowering. The pay isn’t bad either, but even if/when I don’t get paid to do porn, I do it anyway, because I like doing it. Genuinely.

    Alternatively, if one genuinely enjoys something and gets paid for it, does it become a feminist act?

    The act? Not necessarily, the choice to do it, yes. After all, women didn’t used to be able to vote, drive, or own property either. Driving and owning property is not necessarily feminist, the ability to do so? Yeah, some feminism going on there for certain.

    In other words, does feminism exist to advance the cause of women as a whole or for individual women to use as a justification for their personal choices?

    Your wording is loaded. Feminism exists to advance the cause of women AND to allow for individual women to MAKE choices, personal or otherwise.

    If sex work is a valid, feminist choice, what are we to make of women who say that their participation in sex work resulted from dire poverty, drug addiction, etc.?

    What do we say to women who get medical degrees because their parents told them being a doctor was what they would do? Or women gold-medalists who were driven by coaches and parents? Or women on a assembly line because they needed to put food on their table? Or women who go through a fifth of gin every other night to deal with a customer service job? What we do, you see, is take those women and attempt to give them what they need to make other choices if they want to do so…you know, like these people do? None of us in the biz who are “like me” want those who don’t want to be there to be there…some of us even do something about it. Yet, dislike of one’s job and less than ideal reasons for being in it are not unique to sex work. Surely you understand that?

    I see sex work as a reductionist commodification of human sexuality. Do you think that the reduction of sex to a commodity has a negative effect on our ability to explore and express the potential of human sexuality? If not, why not?

    We’re all commodities, no matter our job. And no, I don’t, not for the vast majority anyway. I feel that way because I think human sexuality is vast and diverse and varies a great deal from person to person, and the onus lies on the person to express what their desires are. If anything, we are better served “empowering” women to do that.

    If you’re a sex-positive dude, tell me why. Why are you in such a huff to help women out? And why does it manifest as sex positivism? Why is your desire to help women out limited to arguing for their “right” to serve you sexually?

    Not a sex positive dude, sorry. However, I’ve received more help from various men and sex positive feminists on a whole lot of fronts, with no expectations in return…or having things twisted, than I have from some radical feminists. Shrug. Psst, sex positive dudes, feel free to jump on in and respond to ND’s questions.

  16. jerry July 28, 2008 at 7:07 PM #

    When I visit feminist sites and say my say, regardless of how polite it is, I frequently find:
    a) the post never makes it out of moderation
    b) if the post does make it out of moderation, I am often called by the blogger or commenters a likely
    1) rapist
    2) wife beater
    3) pedophile
    4) misogynist
    5) ugly guy who can’t get laid
    6) ugly guy with a small penis
    7) ugly guy who can only pay for sex
    8) horrible wifebeating misogynist father who should have CPS called on him for posting on the Internet

    I’ve had people threaten me for my posts, telling me they would figure out who I was from my IP and alert the judge in a custody battle that I was posting on the Internet. Now my posts were pretty bland stuff, mainly that I think that no fault divorce is good, but that it needs to come with a rebuttable presumption of joint shared custody, but the last thing I need are people writing judges or writing employers or writing to CPS.

    So, when you say there are few men on the net writing on behalf of women in sex you may wish to consider:

    a) your sample bias (you probably should read FARK)
    b) the moderation drama on most feminist blogs
    c) the way dissent is treated and the way dissenters are treated on most feminist blogs.

    Regarding one of your questions: “Do you believe that women would participate in sex work if we did not live in an oppressive, misogynistic culture?”….

    First, I do not think we live in an oppressive, misogynistic culture, though I certainly think misogyny exists and work to rid the world of it.

    Second, yes, yes I do. I think biological and anthropological evidence shows that throughout time on our planet, across species, and including class Mammalia as well class Aves we see lots of sexual dimorphism in terms of form as well as in terms of behavior.

    We see female owls using makeup. We see male birds dancing. We see animals and birds preening, and singing, and grooming.

    We see bonobos exchanging oral sex. We see capuchins inventing prostitution.

    We see lionesses performing the hunt and kill and the lions eating first.

    I suspect that outside of humans, the behaviors I described above cannot be placed on the mythical patriarchy scapegoat.

    What I don’t understand is why in so many radical feminist responses to sexuality, it’s always in terms of misogynistic patriarchy, and there is no reference to evolutionary biology, or anthropology.

    So yes, assuming that we got rid of EVERY last vestige of oppression and misogyny in our culture, yes, I think women (and men) would still participate as sex workers.

    I am about to click “Submit Comment”, but based on my experience at most feminist blogs, I have no expectation this post will ever make it through your moderation queue.

  17. Nine Deuce July 28, 2008 at 7:08 PM #

    jerry – I approve everyone who isn’t being an asshole. Call me a renegade.

  18. Ellie July 28, 2008 at 7:43 PM #

    “If you’re a sex-positive dude, tell me why. Why are you in such a huff to help women out? And why does it manifest as sex positivism? Why is your desire to help women out limited to arguing for their “right” to serve you sexually?”

    Because all men are straight? And the only reason a straight man might be sex-positive is so he can get laid?

    My sex-positive boyfriend is BISEXUAL. He supports my right to DOMINATE HIM if we both feel like it. I support his right to CROSS DRESS.

    Can’t imagine that these kinky, evil perverts are up to anything transgressive can you?

    Of course my comment isn’t meant to imply that only transgressive expressions of sexuality are acceptable. Heck, I like getting dominated too. And wearing high heels and lipstick. However, why assume that every expression of female sexuality is met by ravenous males hell-bent on oppressing them?

    I meet sex positive males every day (as Ren said they hang out on sex positive blogs where they don’t get shouted down for, um, liking sex) and they aren’t as simple-minded as you like to think. They consider their relationships with the men and women in their lives, with masculinity, with gender, and with sex workers.

    But I’m not expecting many of them to show up in a place where more guilt and shame will be piled on them.

  19. Mark July 28, 2008 at 7:44 PM #

    Because when I do so I’m always accused of one-handed typing.

  20. jerry July 28, 2008 at 10:28 PM #

    If you’re a sex-positive dude, tell me why. Why are you in such a huff to help women out? And why does it manifest as sex positivism? Why is your desire to help women out limited to arguing for their “right” to serve you sexually?

    Who said I only help women out? Who said it was limited to arguing for the rights of women to make sexual choices?

    It’s been famously argued that it’s feminism not humanism, so okay, whatever. But some of us are humanists not feminists. Apparently radical feminists are proud that feminism is not humanism meaning I gather it’s A-OK that radical feminism doesn’t mind leaving some or many people in the cold to freeze. But us humanists strive to raise the rights of everyone, even feminists that try to strip others of their rights.

    If you notice me arguing that sex workers have agency, and you don’t see me encouraging young women to become scientists and engineers, maybe you’re the one with the issues.

    Related: when a college student says she was not raped, why do radical feminists insist she was?

  21. psych July 28, 2008 at 10:44 PM #

    Is any commenter going to actually address the issues? Okay, everyone, I’m ready for someone to address what Deuce was actually talking about. Any time now…

  22. Jim July 28, 2008 at 11:17 PM #

    +1 to RenegadeEvolution and jerry.

    Why do I stay quiet? Well I see other men get called misogynists if they so much as refuse to call all pornographers rapists. I’ve seen feminists completely disregard what female sex workers themselves say on the matter, so why would *my* opinion be listened to?

    If you are a man, you rapidly learn that the only way to not be subjected to verbal abuse on a feminist blog is to either agree with the women in every conceivable way – not even *slightly* deviating from their viewpoint – or just remain quiet. Sex-positivism isn’t popular with many feminists. When you know your opinion is going to be dismissed out-of-hand and you’re only going to get an insult for your trouble, why bother?

    This is the very first time I’ve seen a feminist actually genuinely interested in what men have to say.

    > Do you believe that women would participate in sex work if we did not live in an oppressive, misogynistic culture? If so, what would the sex industry look like in a world in which women were seen as possessing the same humanity men do?

    I do not believe we live in an oppressive, misogynistic culture. I believe we live in a culture where sexism is rampant and both sexes are subjected to it.

    If sexism disappeared, would women participate in sex work? Of course. So long as there’s a market for it and women need to earn money. I see no reason why either would disappear with the elimination of sexism. The market for sex workers is driven by libido, not sexism.

    I do not believe that women are seen as lacking humanity in the western world, in fact I think that’s an extreme minority viewpoint.

    Let me remind you that there are male sex workers too. Clearly, even with your own assumptions, oppression is not necessary for sex workers to exist.

    > Do you believe that pornography and prostitution negatively affect some women’s lives (obviously some sex workers suffer abuse, but I am referring to women outside the sex industry here)? If not, why not? If so, does any of the responsibility for that lie with sex workers, or does it lie solely with the producers and pimps? Or somewhere else?

    Of course pornography and prostitution negatively affects some women’s lives. Most types of work negatively affect lots of people some of the time.

    Where does the responsibility lie? Well it depends on the circumstances of the individuals involved. It’s a pretty open-ended question. You can’t point to any particular group and say that they are intrinsically innocent or guilty.

    > Why aren’t there more men out there arguing for women’s “right” to participate in sex work?

    Because we don’t want to be accused of being hate-filled misogynists.

    > I’d also be happy to discuss the arguments of men who do make such a claim.

    Women are capable of thinking for themselves. They don’t need anybody to step in and make decisions for them. That is more dehumanising than anything another person could pay them to do.

    > Can women like Jenna Jameson can be considered feminists for taking leadership roles in the production of pornography? Why or why not?

    Sure they can, because the term “feminist” means practically whatever anybody wants it to. The term is so diluted it is worthless. You have a spectrum from man-haters to true egalitarians. When two people who believe exactly the opposite of one another can both have their beliefs labelled by the same term, it’s lost its value.

    > If the answer is yes, how can we reconcile the negative effects pornography has on women’s lives with referring to a producer of mainstream pornography as a feminist?

    You’ve made a subtle change here. Earlier, you asked:

    > Do you believe that pornography and prostitution negatively affect some women’s lives

    Key word: SOME

    Now you are assuming the position:

    > the negative effects pornography has on women’s lives

    The former is true even when the effects are not widespread and caused by a minority of porn. But by us acknowledging that, you seem to want to push us into saying that all porn affects all women negatively. These are two very distinct claims.

    So, again:

    > If the answer is yes, how can we reconcile the negative effects pornography has on women’s lives with referring to a producer of mainstream pornography as a feminist?

    The two are unconnected. Just because she is a pornographer, it doesn’t follow that she is responsible for making women’s lives worse. The subset of the porn she produces and the subset of porn that makes some women’s lives worse do not necessarily intersect.

    > How can sex work empower individual women when it requires that women submit to being objectified and performing acts for money rather than out of genuine desire to do them?

    I think “empowerment” is mostly used as a buzzword/slogan rather than a meaningful term.

    But in the most obvious sense: money is power. By making money, a woman can become more powerful. As you mention poverty later, one example springs to mind. A woman living in poverty can use the money she gains through sex work to gain control over her life. Is that not empowerment?

    As for “performing acts for money rather than out of genuine desire to do them”: that’s why it’s sex *work* and not sex *hobby*. Everybody who has ever had a job has performed acts for money rather than out of genuine desire to do them. That’s why you need to pay people to do jobs.

    > If sex work is a valid, feminist choice, what are we to make of women who say that their participation in sex work resulted from dire poverty, drug addiction, etc.?

    If you are in that situation, your options in terms of employment are severely limited. The sex industry is one of the few industries where the requirements of the job are not incompatible with drug addiction or other causes of extreme poverty, e.g. a lack of education.

    > I see sex work as a reductionist commodification of human sexuality. Do you think that the reduction of sex to a commodity has a negative effect on our ability to explore and express the potential of human sexuality? If not, why not?

    How would the existence of a sex industry limit the potential of a person who hasn’t chosen to participate in it? Sex is only a commodity to the people who pay for it or who charge for it.

    > If you’re a sex-positive dude, tell me why. Why are you in such a huff to help women out?

    Er, fuck you too. You wonder why we remain silent? How about this kind of attitude?

    > And why does it manifest as sex positivism?

    It doesn’t. Sex positivism comes from the idea that people should be able to make their own choices in life. There’s nothing gender-specific to that belief.

    > Why is your desire to help women out limited to arguing for their “right” to serve you sexually?

    Why on earth would you think that is the case?

  23. bonobobabe July 28, 2008 at 11:52 PM #

    Sex workers are a wide and varied group, and even amid the choice ones, you have a lot of variety; from those who do it for money, to those who do it for fun, to those who see it as a spiritual calling.

    Having a guy stick his dick up your ass and then put it in your mouth without washing it first is a spiritual calling? I think I’d rather be a secular humanist.

    Here’s something to think about. If it were a spiritual calling, the person would be following the teachings of some made up deity, or she would be following her inner voice. How convenient that what god and/or her inner voice is telling her just so happens to be what the least common denominator sleezeball finds titillating? Come on.

  24. Philomela July 29, 2008 at 12:05 AM #

    Did you draw that picture yourself?Do you not think that its a real issue and shockingly racist that all the men in this cartoon are men of colour and depicted in really animalistic ways?

  25. RenegadeEvolution July 29, 2008 at 12:07 AM #

    bono-

    All sex work involves ass to mouth? Is that the assumption you’re working off of? If so, not much I can say to you really, other than you are mistaken. There are women who specialize in what they call and consider to be healing/spiritual sexuality, and they charge for it…and really, it’s not for YOU to tell them anything about their own feelings on the matter or experiences with it. A thought might be to read what some such women say on the matter For Themselves.

  26. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 12:11 AM #

    Philomela – Of course I didn’t draw it myself. And they are not men of color. They are outside of the spotlight that the stripper is in, so they are not as brightly lit. They are depicted as animalistic because they are men drooling over a woman who is getting naked. It’s part of caricaturing. It helps accentuate the point of the comic.

    Come on, for fuck’s sake. Let’s not address what the post is about or anything. Let’s just try to find something to get offended about.

  27. bonobobabe July 29, 2008 at 12:19 AM #

    See, men are more compartmental in their thinking than women; we can tell dirty jokes all day, get drunk at a strip club, then go home to our wives whom we genuinely love and respect.

    Again, you don’t understand how men can drool over a woman’s body (and at that time only her body) and still respect women in general as equals.

    You know, it’s also possible that you only THINK you are able to compartmentalize all this stuff. Maybe you only believe you are treating women with respect. I can’t speak for you personally, as I don’t know you, but I know a lot of other people who are deluded about just what kind of person they are. You wouldn’t be the first. Again, I’m not saying you are, I’m saying it’s a possibility.

  28. Kristin July 29, 2008 at 12:20 AM #

    I share Philomela’s interpretation of this post, actually, and I think *not seeing it* is the result of not having to (You know, white privilege.).

  29. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 12:34 AM #

    Of the post or the comic? And how do you know what kind of privilege I have? Is it me having white privilege that makes me not see the men in the comic as being men of color, or are you searching for something? If they’re men of color, what ethnicity do you think they are supposed to be?

  30. bonobobabe July 29, 2008 at 12:37 AM #

    All sex work involves ass to mouth? Is that the assumption you’re working off of?

    No, of course not. I used the most foul thing I could think of for effect.

    There are women who specialize in what they call and consider to be healing/spiritual sexuality, and they charge for it

    The problem with this is that whatever you want to call it, it all involves helping the ruling class get their rocks off.

    …and really, it’s not for YOU to tell them anything about their own feelings on the matter or experiences with it.

    I can’t speak for them. You’re right. I don’t know their experiences, but as I said in a previous comment, people can be deluded. Stockholm Syndrome, battered wife syndrome. People can say they like all sorts of stuff. I can’t say they’re lying or deluded for sure, but like I said before, it’s pretty damn convenient that they just happen to like being commodified by the ruling class. Real nice and tidy when it works like that, eh?

    And another commenter mentioned something about free market or exchange of goods and services. How come women don’t use these services in the numbers that men do? And don’t give me the whole men are sex crazed and women aren’t claptrap. You want to see sex crazed, come to my apartment when I’m ovulating.

    And what about the fact that most women in sex work have been molested or abused? Are we glossing over that? That certainly will affect concepts like free will and consent. Surely, not all sex workers have been abused, but it seems that the few that are really and truly doing it out of choice have become the mouthpieces for all sex workers, which I don’t think is fair.

  31. Kristin July 29, 2008 at 12:42 AM #

    Sorry, I meant the cartoon.

    They’re brown men, I am really not sure what ethnicity they all are. Nevertheless, MOC are routinely portrayed in popular culture as “animalistic,” and these are extremely stereotypical and racist portrayals.

  32. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 12:46 AM #

    I think the picture is of a bunch of old white dudes that are outside the reach of the spotlight. If the artist intended them to look like men of color, I’m not backing that, but I doubt it. In any case, with regard to the post it’s a tertiary issue at best. Back to the point.

  33. Kristin July 29, 2008 at 12:48 AM #

    Also, I was just checking out this cartoonist–Elena Steier’s–website, and I’m curious how you found the comic? Was it published somewhere else?

  34. belledame222 July 29, 2008 at 12:52 AM #

    Um, mostly I’m just responding to the picture because I had the same immediate reaction and a) I don’t consider racism a side issue, generally b) I’d address the rest of it, but goddam if I don’t feel like I’ve been to this rodeo a billion times. Maybe later when I have less of a headache. Meantime, and briefly: yeah, I had the same question wrt: are we assuming all the men are straight? I linked to a male sex worker over at Ren’s post there, p.s.; he might be someone you want to check out as well, “The Gentleman Whore.”

    http://agentlemanwhore.blogspot.com/

    Also, I’m not a sex-positive dude; hope the discussion -with- them is illuminating.

    Can I just ask: where did you find that cartoon? I found the author’s website; wondering if it was published elsewhere before, or what.

  35. Kristin July 29, 2008 at 12:52 AM #

    Well, I mean… You don’t have to post this, really, but I think you would notice a number of other problematic comics if you took a look at the author’s website:

    http://striporama.com/

    Also, sorry, no, racism is not tertiary. No, it wasn’t the point of your post, and you missed it, but, seriously… No, not tertiary.

    As far as your post goes, I really liked Ren’s response.

  36. belledame222 July 29, 2008 at 12:53 AM #

    –jeez. “Ass to mouth” is the “most foul thing you can think of?” Oh whatever. At worst it’s potentially unhygenic, but–Whatever. Maybe best not dwell on it, then. Personally I can think of a lot worse, but you know, I -don’t watch it.-

  37. belledame222 July 29, 2008 at 12:56 AM #

    -kicking myself-0

    “And what about the fact that most women in sex work have been molested or abused? Are we glossing over that? That certainly will affect concepts like free will and consent.”

    Really?

    So, okay, does that also apply to people who declare themselves radical feminists, if they’ve been molested or abused and indeed a lot of their politics stem from that experience, as is true for most people? Or lesbians, for that matter? (Hey, I’ve heard it before, even in this supposedly enlightened age). Should the rest of us just not listen to people who’ve been molested or abused, then? Neato.

  38. belledame222 July 29, 2008 at 1:02 AM #

    oh jesus. “the ruling class”–okay, fine, am I a member of the ruling class? As a woman, I mean? If I went to one of my friends/acquaintances (male AND female) who work as “sacred companions” and said, you know, I’d like to do a session, actually, is it bad if I get my rocks off? Or am I supposed to be just, like, saving their souls or not talking to them instead of just going to workshops alongside them, talking about our respective lives, and either of us being on the table for an erotic/therapeutic massage at any given point, getting our rocks off (or not) without paying each other?

  39. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 1:13 AM #

    I’m going to reply to these one at a time in separate comments so as not to lead to confusion.

    Nihilunder –

    That said, the sex industry in a rational, free society would be respected like any other, and those who participate in it would be treated like legitimate servicewomen/men rather than dirty secrets or subhumans to exercise our power trip desires on.

    My only objection to this argument is that I believe that in a society in which women were seen as wholly human in the same sense that men are, sex work would not continue to exist. Women’s sexuality would not be commodified, and women would not have to sell sexual favors to men. Women would be immune to sexual objectification if they were seen as fully human, in much the same way that men (for the most part) seem to be immune to it now (I am aware of the exceptions to this, but it nonetheless remains generally valid).

    I do believe our culture is deeply misogynistic. It’s evident in almost every facet of the gender roles we expect people to adhere to and in our language, arts, philosophy, entertainment, sexuality, relationships, etc. (This might be a sticking point, but we’ll see.) I don’t think it’s simplistic of me to say so. There are anti-male trends in some remote corners of American culture, but on the whole our culture is much more misogynistic than misandristic (coinage!). I’m aware that sexism is not the only -ism that exists, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.

    This isn’t the NECESSARY outcome of a person’s consumption of sex industry products, but in our schizophrenic society, it too often does.

    Then what is to be done? If a product tends to create harm, what do we do to mitigate or eliminate the harm? I’m not for the banning of anything, but rather changing people’s minds about what is and isn’t socially acceptable. I think degrading porn feeds cultural assumptions that tend to cause harm to women in our daily lives. That may not be the necessary outcome of people’s consumption of sex industry products, but it tends to be the default one. Any ideas?

    Because most men don’t really think about the issue either way. They purchase the goods for a quick pleasure fix without philosophizing about it. See, men are more compartmental in their thinking than women; we can tell dirty jokes all day, get drunk at a strip club, then go home to our wives whom we genuinely love and respect. Our thoughts and actions aren’t quite so integrated as they are in the female mind. I know that the gender essentialist assumption this point is based on is something you don’t share, but it’s true.

    Men can “compartmentalize” because of the Madonna/whore complex. See this post. The differences in the way men approach things does not stem from some innate biological difference. It’s cultural. No evolutionary biologist (as dodgy some of their studies are) would suggest such a thing.

    Since I don’t think the sex industry is necessarily harmful to women, yes, Jenna Jameson can be a feminist if her goal is to make it into a legitimate, respected service. If sex positive feminists are simply trying to justify the industry as is, then no I don’t.

    Haven’t we just been discussing the fact that the sex industry is harmful to women, at least in its current incarnation? Jenna Jameson is calling herself a feminist while producing status quo degrading porn. That’s a problem.

    Admiring a woman’s naked body is not objectification anymore than admiring Stephen Hawking’s mind. In both cases you are paying someone to provide a service; sexual stimulation in the former case, knowledge in the latter. There is nothing wrong with only being interested in a specific aspect of someone, so long as you don’t see that person (and those of that person’s group) as being ONLY that one thing.

    There is a problem with that analogy. Stephen Hawking is never used like an object, he is consulted and respected for his intellectual capacity, which is lauded because it is so complex and multidimensional. While we may appreciate one aspect of his being, that aspect is much more nuanced, valued, and lasting than a woman’s youthful body. And we aren’t paying Hawking for his services. He pursues what he pursues on his own, and we find value in it as a society. He does not conduct research at the behest of some patron who is hot to know the secrets of the universe.

    I’d also ask you whether many men, when consuming sex industry products, are thinking of the women involved as anything BUT only one thing.

    As for women lacking a “genuine desire” to do certain things, nobody really wants to perform every act their jobs require.

    Sex is not the same thing as doing someone’s taxes. It’s as intimate as two human beings can get with each other, and as such deserves a little more consideration than getting one’s toenails painted. I know that there are plenty of aspects to most people’s jobs that they dislike, but few people are required to submit to allowing people to insert objects or organs into their orifices or performing intimate physical acts with people they are not even physically attracted to.

    I ask you one thing: why do you think it is that it is women who make up the bulk of sex workers? Why aren’t men out servicing women sexually? Why aren’t men out in droves having sex with people they aren’t interested in or attracted to for money? The easy answer is that men are biologically more libidinous than women are, but that is simply false according to studies galore.

    If one is treated like a human being (and no, being sexual with someone is not dehumanizing), then yes, I suppose.

    How does a sex act become feminist simply because the woman participating is being treated like a human being? When I have sex I make sure I am treated like a human being, but I don’t pretend that the simple fact that I had sex has feminist significance.

    Also, I’ve never made the claim that being sexual is inherently dehumanizing. I’m tired of that straw man.

    But, in YOUR worldview, a man only being attracted to a woman’s body rather than her mind is itself harmful to the cause of women. I don’t share it, so we can’t see eye to eye on this.

    In my worldview, it is odd that men tend to be attracted to women’s bodies before their minds and that women tend toward the obverse. That women’s chief value, as our culture defines it, lies in their attractiveness to men is problematic. That reduces women’s ability to be seen as fully human. How is that not harmful? When a woman’s humanity is dismissed because she isn’t attractive to men, that’s a problem.

    No child dreams of being a claims adjuster who atrophies in a cubicle all day. That said, drug addiction and poverty are seperate issues from sex work that need to be dealt with. They aren’t particularly relevant to this issue.

    There is a difference between having an unsatisfying career and being involved in sex work against one’s will because of a lack of education, viable options, job skills, etc. Drug addiction and poverty do transcend the discussion of sex work, but they are not irrelevant to it; there are a LOT of women who are in sex work to feed drug habits or to avoid dire poverty.

    I see it is not that sex work exists but that those who work it are viewed as rent-a-harem-girls rather than equals.

    Again, you don’t understand how men can drool over a woman’s body (and at that time only her body) and still respect women in general as equals. I don’t fault you for this, because that’s a difficult concept for most women to wrap their heads around.

    It isn’t possible for men to truly see sex workers as equals in every sense, because women do not have legal, economic, cultural, or social equality with men in this society. If they did, the sex industry in its current form would not exist (I’d argue that it would cease to exist altogether). Even if a few men do exist who have the ability to see sex workers as equals in whatever ways one can try to do so, do you really think most men who consume the products of the sex industry see sex workers as equals? Or even as fully human?

    There is no concept in the world that I have difficulty wrapping my head around; I’m probably smarter than anyone you know. Watch that kind of condescending talk. I promised to be civil here, but not to allow people to insult me.

  40. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 1:17 AM #

    I don’t remember where the cartoon came from. Someone e-mailed it to me a long time ago.

    I didn’t say racism is a side issue, but that it is tertiary in relation to THIS post. And I’m still not convinced of the racism of the comic, and not because of some special White Privilege Racism-Blocking Glasses (TM).

  41. belledame222 July 29, 2008 at 1:22 AM #

    O.K. Except for–

    When is the last time you were in a discussion with some dude, and he had said or included a cartoon that to you was grossly misogynistic, and when you pointed it out, the response was,

    “Oh, come on! CLEARLY that is NOT what the author/I was saying AT ALL, you’re IMAGINING things/just inventing things to get offended at in order to miss my VERY IMPORTANT point…Well, of COURSE if -I- can’t see that it’s offensive, it just..isn’t! ”

    Never, right?

  42. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 1:24 AM #

    I’d be able to show him why the cartoon was offensive. Analyze it and maybe I’ll agree with you.

  43. belledame222 July 29, 2008 at 1:32 AM #

    Okay, other people have already given it a shot, but:

    You’ve got a blonde woman who, whatever else, has clearly lighter skin than -all- of the audience there. Whether the author intended for the audience to read as “white” or not, fact is, at least several of us separately took one look at it and went, “wo! Seriously?”

    I mean, I dunno. Do you see why people read King Kong as racist, for example? Or, say, the illustrations in Amanda Marcotte’s book? Just because whatever historical examples of Bestial Dark Skinned Men Slavering Over White Woman I’d use here, I’d probably be going back through those thrashes (for instance) to dig the ones I and a bunch of other people were trying to explain with (often to no avail).

    That, and, separately, we have the whole, clearly she’s too dumb to know her own predicament, hardehar (poor dear), which frankly I find sexist, bimbo-bashing division; but well anyway.

  44. Anthony Kennerson July 29, 2008 at 1:36 AM #

    No, Nine Deuce, you don’t get to explain your way out of this one.

    That cartoon is as clearly racist in its intention as Birth of a Nation was…..there are clearly Black faces depicted. The man up front staring at the ass of the stripper is clearly Black. There is a bald-headed man in the background…also clearly Black. I can count about three or four other faces in the crowd of leering men who are also Black. The fact that there are also a few White male faces does not distract from the intent of the toon to promote explicitly racist myths about oversexed, out of control Black men (albeit in the context of attacking all men who visit strip clubs in the same light).

    Tertiary, my left butt cheek. Considering that you and Witchy-Woo called me and Iamcuriousblue out directly for our responses, I’d say that the cartoon could be construed as a deliberate attack on both of us….in par with the usual tradition around here.

    Way to represent yourselves for feminist unity again, ma’am.

    Anthony

  45. belledame222 July 29, 2008 at 1:36 AM #

    “There is no concept in the world that I have difficulty wrapping my head around; I’m probably smarter than anyone you know. Watch that kind of condescending talk. ”

    Um…

    …rrrrright then, I’ll probably be trotting off back to the remedial room with my friends, then. I’m not worthy either, I expect.

  46. Kristin July 29, 2008 at 1:38 AM #

    I don’t think *analysis* as such is actually needed to see the racism in this post. Again, you may want to check out the author’s other stuff if you’re really that skeptical of the racism claim. Her series “The Block” is very instructive in this regard.

    It is racist because it is a bunch of brown men with animalistic facial features and facial expressions leering at a Poor Misguided White Woman. End of story. I don’t get what needs to be explained here.

  47. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 1:38 AM #

    Djiril –

    The absolute right to say “no” in any situation would be recognized.
    Having a job in the sex industry would not be used against accusers in rape trials (if rape still existed in such a culture), nor would it be used as a reason to dismiss women from jobs such as teaching (such a situation was recounted in a recent issue of $pread magazine.)
    If a prostitute was raped on the job, she would be more likely to press charges and win the court case.
    Strip club owners would find it harder to make strippers pay fees out of their tips in places where doing so is illegal, meaning that strippers would not have to sue to get their money back (as has happened in a few places.)
    As for subject matter in porn, there might be less misogynistic content.

    There are some assumptions inherent in all this that you might need to examine. It seems that you are still envisioning a world in which men produce/consume and women perform the sex work. Where’s the change? Where’s the equality? Why are rapes still happening? Why are women still just “more likely” to report having been raped? If a woman is submitting to sex acts she does not want to submit to for money, is there not already an element of coercion? Where is the equality in this world of yours in which women are still eligible for sexual coercion?

    I think sex workers often see the uglier side of our society and its views on women’s sexuality because they are visible as sexual women. I think they are treated how all of us would be treated if society thought of us all as sexual beings who didn’t conform to “acceptable” forms of sexuality.

    I agree. But I think if our social conception of women’s sexuality were to change, if women were to be magically awarded sexual autonomy, free from shame, our behaviors might change. If women’s sexuality were not defined in terms of male sexuality, our sexual behavior might change so drastically that sex work would cease to exist. If no women needed to turn to sex work for money, attention, power, whatever, there’d be a lot less supply. And if most men didn’t conceive of women’s sexuality the way they do now, there’d be a lot less demand.

    It lies with everyone who has ever looked down on another person solely because of her/his sexuality, which in this society is most of us.

    The responsibility for women being harmed by pornography and other sex industry products lies with the people who produce those products. I’d be hesitant to blame sex workers, but not producers. But I agree that people who shame others for their sexual behavior are part of the larger problem we discussed above.

    I think it is because the men do not want to be seen as sleezebags who don’t respect women, which is how a lot of people see men who do argue the above.

    I think people tend to view men who argue for women’s “right” to engage in sex work as either disingenuous and self-serving (because many of them only discuss women’s rights in this context), or myopic, because they don’t see how sex work indirectly affects many women’s lives.

    I do not think that sex work is inherently empowering, I just do not think that women who do it, out of free choice or not, deserve to be disrespected for it.

    No argument here. My only qualification is that I will take issue with women who are perpetuating the misogynistic status quo and calling it a feminist act. In any case, I ain’t dissing no one, yo.

    You do not seem to respect them either, and yet you are treating them as the foremost authority on us. Why is that?
    Does it occur to you that what they are really just calling us sluts, the same way they would call you ugly man haters?
    They do not “love sex positive feminism,” they are just using a standard sexist insult against us, and you are falling for it hook, line, and sinker.

    I don’t respect them. Men who denigrate women can fuck right off in my book. All I’m saying is that when a bunch of asshole men are pumped about something women are doing, those women ought to wonder. I’m not treating these dicks as authorities on anything but their own assholism. I knew very well that they were calling sex positive women sluts, and that was the problem: these dudes act like they’re supportive of something for self-serving reasons, then denigrate the women they purport to support when they aren’t looking. I’m asking for people’s input on this to learn something, and to hone my own opinions with what I learn.

  48. Kristin July 29, 2008 at 1:39 AM #

    Ack, and again, I meant the cartoon, not the post.

  49. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 1:40 AM #

    belledame – I was responding to that guy with condescension because he was being condescending. It was meant to be illustrative. I’m not here insulting you.

  50. Gayle July 29, 2008 at 1:41 AM #

    The men in the cartoon look like old and middle aged white pervs to me. Whoever drew it should have included some young guys wearing backwards baseball caps.

  51. Roy Kay July 29, 2008 at 1:42 AM #

    Ehh. I’m not a sex-pos feminist, because I’m not a feminist. I’m a women’s libber, I favor the elimination of legal restraints on women’s occupational rights, whether that means being President or Prostitute. A women’s body and mind are hers to employ as she elects – unencumbered by RadFem, Religious Rightist, or even my own personal preference. With that out of the way.

    >Do you believe that women would participate in sex work if we did not live in an oppressive, misogynistic culture? If so, what would the sex industry look like in a world in which women were seen as possessing the same humanity men do?

    Yes. Partly because they already do. Yes, there are prejudices around, but I know few men, and certainly no men I care much for, who want women held down. We want full partnership with women navigating through the culture and economic world. An inept woman is a poor partner and a silenced woman is a poor partner.

    Women ARE seen as worthwhile strategists and tacticians, and managers of humans and material. Women can hire men if they so desire for sex work. Under a BETTER society, one devoid of the manipulations and controls of the two groups I noted, they could do so with less opprobrium.

    >Do you believe that pornography and prostitution negatively affect some women’s lives (obviously some sex workers suffer abuse, but I am referring to women outside the sex industry here)? If not, why not? If so, does any of the responsibility for that lie with sex workers, or does it lie solely with the producers and pimps? Or somewhere else?

    Pornography and prostitution probably make little difference in most women’s lives. Under a fully liberated society it would improve women’s lives. The ethos of sexual autonomy remaining with the individual woman, not controlled by the state nor others in society, but hers to employ as she so desires, whether for profit, pleasure or both, positively affects women, by encouraging a general respect for their autonomy and agency.

    I will go further and declare that obstructing women’s rights to engage in prostitution and pornography is tantamount to rape. I see no difference between forces her legs together and forcing them apart. It’s still the same invasion of her sexual autonomy

    >Why aren’t there more men out there arguing for women’s “right” to participate in sex work? What do you make of the fact that very few men call sex work a feminist choice? I’d also be happy to discuss the arguments of men who do make such a claim.

    Uh, because when we do argue for women’s right (note, no quotes, it’s a right, plain and simple), we become the straw man of the attack. The professionals arguing their own case get sidetracked, dismissed, pitied, and manipulated in pre-women’s-liberationist terms of “concern” and “care” that basically translates into control and dictation of approved and unapproved roles.

    >Can women like Jenna Jameson can be considered feminists for taking leadership roles in the production of pornography? Why or why not? If the answer is yes, how can we reconcile the negative effects pornography has on women’s lives with referring to a producer of mainstream pornography as a feminist?

    Jenna Jameson can be considered liberated because she has not limited herself to a prescribed role in the production of pornography.

    “negative effects pornography has on women’s lives” totally begs the question, now doesn’t it? The effects of pornography on men’s and women’s lives has be to give permission to consensually explore their sexuality. Had the strongest faction of “feminists” sought to work with pornographers instead of the Meese Commission to create models of consensual sex, society would have been a whole lot better off. Having taken the wrong turn, it persists in that channel to the benefit only of its leaders.

    >How can sex work empower individual women when it requires that women submit to being objectified and performing acts for money rather than out of genuine desire to do them?

    I don’t know. Everything can be objectifying, regardless of what is exchanged: cash, votes, markers for future services.Women have entered politics, which is the most objectifying aspect of society and its “organization of hatreds” the most deleterious. I wouldn’t debar them for that reason. Polemics is another objectifier. People are reduced to symbols to be avenged for or against, taxed or subsidized. Economics regards people in terms of what they desire and what is desired of them. When we are most wroth with our significant others, we balance that with what they do FOR us – essentially objectification. One can perform sex acts for money, for the same reason on can perform medicine for money, machining for money, lecturing for money. They find it a good use of their time and capabilities.

    >Alternatively, if one genuinely enjoys something and gets paid for it, does it become a feminist act? In other words, does feminism exist to advance the cause of women as a whole or for individual women to use as a justification for their personal choices?

    Feminism exists for whatever the dictators of feminist meaning choose it to exist for. By and large, it exists to add a panache of virtue to it’s proprietors.

    Women’s Lib, by contrast exists to free women from oppressions patriarchal and matriarchal, as visited by the state and those classes that the state elevates to power. Women do not need patrons or matrons. They need only freedom, though a mentor of goodwill never hurts. Free women will find the happiness that they determine suits them.

    >If sex work is a valid, feminist choice, what are we to make of women who say that their participation in sex work resulted from dire poverty, drug addiction, etc.?

    Again, I repair to the Liberated choice, and I would say that sex work opens another channel for them. It may not be an ideal channel, but it is a channel, none the less. Further, freedom does not inhere in a perfectionist universal of ideal choice, but in the RIGHT to make choices for good or for ill. Women are not to be owned and directed to suit the sensibilities of those well situated, but to own themselves as individuals and choose the directions in life that fortune has afforded them. One might desite better fortunes and strive to create them. However, one’s own aspirations and striving does not and ought not secure control and direction.

    >I see sex work as a reductionist commodification of human sexuality. Do you think that the reduction of sex to a commodity has a negative effect on our ability to explore and express the potential of human sexuality? If not, why not?

    Sex is reduced to a commodity only when the participants can not impart proprietary value to it. That can happen with or without wages. Sex is most reduced when one’s agency is shorn by those who set and enforce rules through the state. There are few proprietaries among the conscripted.

    >If you’re a sex-positive dude, tell me why. Why are you in such a huff to help women out? And why does it manifest as sex positivism? Why is your desire to help women out limited to arguing for their “right” to serve you sexually?

    Who said that my love of liberty is constrained to one avenue? I argue from women’s right to accept or reject me at will, with or without that accouterments of cash, status (Hahn, that I had either!) or any other benefit of my company. They have the right to please other men and be pleased by them is such liaison can offer itself. They can do likewise with women.

    If I am in a huff at all, it is because I disdain and holds in contempt white knights of either sex who wish to rescue them from the freedom to make their way in the world. I will gladly support and partner with women as researchers, managers, investors, machinists, fabricators, or any other profession or trade. I would be a fool to do otherwise and reject talent, enterprise and partnership for mere acquiescence.

  52. RenegadeEvolution July 29, 2008 at 1:43 AM #

    bono:

    “And what about the fact that most women in sex work have been molested or abused? Are we glossing over that? That certainly will affect concepts like free will and consent. Surely, not all sex workers have been abused, but it seems that the few that are really and truly doing it out of choice have become the mouthpieces for all sex workers, which I don’t think is fair.”

    Fact? You wouldn’t be basing that “fact” off of Farley’s much questioned and over used statistics, would you? And as for the mouthpeices thing…hum, yeah, as someone actually involved in sex worker outreach…well, yeah, a whole lot of sex workers/ex sex workers/ prostituted women with less than glowing tales are talking too. R. Mott comes to mind. The often maligned Jill Brenneman as well, Victoria M, three bloggers I can think of off the top of my head. Sarah Katherine Lewis wrote a book that hardly makes things sound so rosey.

    As for the cartoon: All of the men are darker skinned, and many have large noses similiar to those seen in anti-Semitic cartoons. I’m Jewish, so I notice those things.

  53. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 1:44 AM #

    Anthony – I didn’t call you out specifically because I’ve never even heard of you, nor Iamcuriosblue. You may have some issue with Witchy that I’m unaware of (I just found her blog a few days ago), but it’s nothing to do with me. Usual tradition around here? Have you ever been here before? I don’t do specific attacks, and I’ve never engaged with anyone besides Ren before on this issue, and we’ve always maintained some measure of civility.

    I’m going to take the goddamned cartoon down because I want to stick to the topic. How’s that with everyone?

  54. Trin July 29, 2008 at 1:45 AM #

    With that out of the way, I’m inviting anyone who calls her/himself a sex-positive feminist or who refers to sex work as a feminist choice to answer the following questions, and I promise to be fair, civil, and reasonable in discussing them:

    I’m not a dude. But I appreciate the civility with which you asked this, so I’ll say my piece.

    * Do you believe that women would participate in sex work if we did not live in an oppressive, misogynistic culture? If so, what would the sex industry look like in a world in which women were seen as possessing the same humanity men do?

    I absolutely believe sex work would exist in any world in which markets and money exist (which, to my mind, is all of them, but I could be wrong/unimaginative/overly capitalist.) I think as long as any kinds of service are traded, sexual service will be as well. (By “service” here I don’t mean to imply heavy domination or debasement — I just mean, well, people pay for massages, for treatments in spas that are as much about being pampered as anything else, etc.)

    In a non-sexist world, I believe we’d see more of such service oriented toward and consumed by women, as well as more oriented toward people who are queer and non-gender-normative. (I know some people think women aren’t consumers — which makes me just want to ask them why then it was that any time the local gay club had a strip show, the audience was both full of other gay men AND of women. Is that ALL something that can be chalked up to sex positivity being popular in feminist circles?)

    I believe that the job would have less stigma associated with it in such a world, so people would be less likely to be in it because of pressure or force. I believe that it would be far easier for the workers to get the health care and safer sex supplies they need, and standard procedure to demand the use of safe sex supplies.

    As far as what pornography would look like, I think it would cover a wide variety of fantasies, groupings, bodies, etc. I think it would be far easier to find — or act in, if you liked — material that isn’t designed by and for heteronormative men.

    * Do you believe that pornography and prostitution negatively affect some women’s lives (obviously some sex workers suffer abuse, but I am referring to women outside the sex industry here)?

    I don’t know that I’d quite say “yes” to this question as worded, but I wouldn’t say “no” either. I do think there are men who use pornography as it exists today to pressure women to do things they don’t want, to make women feel unattractive, and otherwise as a tool of control. I don’t like it. But I’m not at all convinced these aren’t people that would find other tools of control to pull the same shit if they didn’t have porn.

    If not, why not? If so, does any of the responsibility for that lie with sex workers, or does it lie solely with the producers and pimps? Or somewhere else?

    I don’t believe the responsibility lies with sex workers. I don’t think we can demand that someone be a role model. I also don’t think we can hold sex workers to a standard that we don’t hold other performers, such as actors, to.

    * Why aren’t there more men out there arguing for women’s “right” to participate in sex work? What do you make of the fact that very few men call sex work a feminist choice? I’d also be happy to discuss the arguments of men who do make such a claim.

    I think this is because men don’t tend to be active in feminist circles. I think most dudes aren’t likely to even be aware of feminist arguments about prostitution or pornography. If they’re aware of any arguments against these things, they’re likely to be the arguments of conservatives. And many men will reject those out of hand anyway.

    * Can women like Jenna Jameson can be considered feminists for taking leadership roles in the production of pornography?

    No. I don’t think this by itself *makes* anyone a feminist. I do think that some feminists (and some non-feminists) might, and have, choose to make alternative pornography in an attempt to create more material depicting things women want and like. While I think this is good, I do not think it *makes* someone a feminist.

    Why or why not? If the answer is yes, how can we reconcile the negative effects pornography has on women’s lives with referring to a producer of mainstream pornography as a feminist?

    I think someone trying to bring change to an industry should not be blamed for the status quo. So there’s not much to reconcile.

    * How can sex work empower individual women when it requires that women submit to being objectified and performing acts for money rather than out of genuine desire to do them?

    I don’t think it does require this in all cases. Read Ren for one. Not to speak for her, but she seems to have a genuine desire to do the acts and to be in the work. So saying that it “requires” thus and so is sloppy.

    In many cases, of course, women don’t want to do these things without the money as an incentive. But I’m not sure that should be taken as not “empowering” (though the word “empowering” gets used to mean so many things that I have no idea how it’s being used here at all.) I mean, someone being able to pay for her college textbooks is empowered in that it’s easier for her to get an education. Someone who can feed her family is empowered. So… yeah, I don’t know what this question means.

    I’m guessing “empowered” is being used in the sort of poppy way that means something like “makes people feel more confident.” In that case, well, feelings are feelings, and you’d have to ask the people that say they’ve got them.

    My wild guess would be that it feels good to some women to be on display, and also that it gives them a sense of being in sexual control that can feel good to them. I’d imagine that to these people, seeing a mesmerized audience makes them feel confident in a way they’re not used to, and that that can be an emotional rush. Whether that’s a temporary adrenaline high or something that leads them to feel more confident in general will, I think, vary between people.

    * Alternatively, if one genuinely enjoys something and gets paid for it, does it become a feminist act?

    No, but I don’t think everyone’s acts need to be or become feminist to be good for them. I think that when we focus with such laser sight on the feminist way to do things, we lose the fact that… most actions performed by most people have nothing to do with feminism.

    * In other words, does feminism exist to advance the cause of women as a whole or for individual women to use as a justification for their personal choices?

    I think this question sets up a false dichotomy. I think that we need to stop thinking in terms of “the individual versus the collective” and go back to basics: What helps people? Sometimes what helps them is to be able to make more choices. Sometimes what helps them is resources. Sometimes what helps them is to be heard. Sometimes what helps them is places where they can be safe.

    * If sex work is a valid, feminist choice, what are we to make of women who say that their participation in sex work resulted from dire poverty, drug addiction, etc.?

    I don’t understand the question. If someone says this, there’s no reason to think she’s not telling the truth. That some people are coerced or pressured does not somehow mean others cannot make a choice. (Is that what you’re even getting at? I’m baffled. Why does it have to be one or the other?)

    * I see sex work as a reductionist commodification of human sexuality. Do you think that the reduction of sex to a commodity has a negative effect on our ability to explore and express the potential of human sexuality? If not, why not?

    I’ve never understood the claim that commodification of sexuality is worse than other kinds of commodification, so I’m not sure how to answer you in more depth than “Wait, what? Uh… no.” I think sexuality is important and personal and key to who we are, but I don’t think every time we perform sexual acts, all of this gets fully engaged. Sometimes when we kiss our loved one hello it’s a profound expression of love and need. Sometimes it’s routine. If that weren’t the case every sexual interaction with a consenting partner would be About Our Very SOOOOOOULS! and, well, barring what some swooning teens think about it, I don’t see why anyone would believe this.

    I don’t mean that to be snide, really. I just honestly don’t get it.

    * If you’re a sex-positive dude, tell me why. Why are you in such a huff to help women out? And why does it manifest as sex positivism? Why is your desire to help women out limited to arguing for their “right” to serve you sexually?

  55. Gayle July 29, 2008 at 1:50 AM #

    HA! Now they’re trying to accuse you of being racist for posting a cartoon showing pervy old white men ogling a woman?

    Awesome!

    They’ll find any excuse to try and push you off them. Losers.

  56. Trin July 29, 2008 at 1:52 AM #

    “That, and, separately, we have the whole, clearly she’s too dumb to know her own predicament, hardehar (poor dear), which frankly I find sexist, bimbo-bashing division; but well anyway.”

    Yeah, this too. The racist overtone is obvious to me too, but I was wondering why no one mentioned that bit too. If there’s one thing I hate it’s the whole “OMG you’re SPARKLY!” bullshit. I don’t get how feminists can say this and not understand the “airheaded bimbo” stereotype they’re invoking. If I never hear the word “sparkly” used as an insult again it’ll be too soon.

  57. RenegadeEvolution July 29, 2008 at 1:56 AM #

    Gayle- several people have addressed ND’s questions as well as mention the cartoon…and oddly enough, I don’t feel like I have to “push her” anywhere…conversation is happening, not a steel cage match.

  58. Nihilunder July 29, 2008 at 1:59 AM #

    “You know, it’s also possible that you only THINK you are able to compartmentalize all this stuff. Maybe you only believe you are treating women with respect. I can’t speak for you personally, as I don’t know you, but I know a lot of other people who are deluded about just what kind of person they are. You wouldn’t be the first. Again, I’m not saying you are, I’m saying it’s a possibility.”

    Well, for the record, I find commodified sex depressing and don’t purchase it myself. But I think the entire idea that men are somehow vile for liking the sight of naked women is offensive and unnatural. There’s nothing immoral about only wanting a woman for her body, so long as the proposed arrangement is mutually understood and agreed upon.

  59. belledame222 July 29, 2008 at 2:01 AM #

    Hi, Gayle! Long time no see! -flick-

    Okay, taking the cartoon down is…well, okay, then. I guess. I mean, it’s a discussion still, but I won’t continue it here, then.

    And, yeah, I get that you were responding to that guy; just, y’know, I see something like “there is -no- concept I can’t wrap my head around” and my immediate first impulse is to respond with something like,

    “Really? Can we talk about quantum physics, then? Or nanotechnology? Because I like to think I’m no slouch, but still, -I- never wrapped my head around those, but if you could explain some of these basic concepts to me, you know, I always wanted to understand…” ah well. I’m probably snarkier than anyone you know. Or, you know, not.

    Per the questions: I’ll just repost what I put at Renegade’s then, for a start:

    per whether people would freely choose sex work in some other society:

    first of all, I dunno, I sort of tend to focus on the world I’m actually -in-, because that’s usually the one in which people tend to eat, need shelter, health care, pursue life, liberty, happiness as best they can. I get the impression we’re sort of supposed to keep our eye fixed on this Utopia which, a) I’m never sure what it IS supposed to look like exactly, just what it’s not and b) clearly isn’t going to happen any time in the next ever, so…

    second, before I go to the rest, I kind of want to backpedal and address something you said in passing over in the comments at Renegade’s, I forget which post now so I’ll be paraphrasing, but, as I recall it, it was to the effect that orgasm is a more powerful conditioning/beahvior mod tool than any other. Am I remembering this correctly? Because I remember seeing that and thinking, okay, wow, we’re really coming at this from very different assumptions about How Some Things Work, for starters.

  60. Philomela July 29, 2008 at 2:02 AM #

    Gayle,

    the cartoon wasn’t being invoked for any reason except it was racist. I am not by any stretch of the imagination sex positive so that kind of blows a hole in your argument. I am however friends with some of the sex positive people who have commented here and I don’t think its appropriate of you to refer to them as losers

  61. Kristin July 29, 2008 at 2:06 AM #

    Belle and Trin–agree with your assessments of the way the woman was depicted as well. The “sparkly” insult is ridiculous. If anyone here saw *me,* they would know that “sparkly” is not a particularly apt descriptor. Anyway, yes, it does depict her as stupid woman with no consciousness of her own oppression. I agree that it’s sexist.

  62. Trin July 29, 2008 at 2:07 AM #

    Addendum: I actually think the commodification point gets to the heart of the disagreement between the two sides. I took a class on exploitation and commodification in grad school. We noticed that we all had wildly differing intuitions about whether sex was a particularly bad thing to commodify, with some of us feeling that it was obvious this was so and some of us feeling it was equally obvious that this was not. Our feelings about pornography and prostitution, not surprisingly, tended to correlate with whether or not we found commodifying sex inherently problematic.

  63. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 2:11 AM #

    Ren –

    Well, on sex-positive blogs. Where they don’t generally get banned for asking questions or disagreeing on various matters, actions which, even in the most innocent of lights, can get them tossed straight off radical blogs.

    I’m not speaking for anyone else, but that’s not applicable to me. I’ve got the most charitable comment policy in the universe, and I think I even disappoint some of my radical feminist pals with my willingness to discuss certain things to death, even with disruptive dudes. It’s a fine line. I ask people here to be willing to confront and examine their own privileges, and to be civil, but…

    The men? Who gives a fuck? Not everything and anything is all about the men…and you know, I see a shit ton more of “woman-positive, not about the men” writing on sex poz blogs than radical ones as a general rule, so I have to wonder…really…who is truly letting their lives, thoughts, and every action be dominated by men more? It’s something many have wondered, I’m sure, but fuck it, I am too cynical not to ask at this point.

    It’s funny. I wasn’t inviting men per se, and I really intended for this to be a discussion with sex positive women, but I admit the title could be misleading. I thought people would pick up from the post that I thought it odd that more women than men seem to be arguing in favor of something that benefits men quite a lot. I laid out my confusion, the red flags I see, and asked people to answer some questions I’ve been wondering about, and I guess I expected more women to respond, since the questions were directed at them (only the last one was specifically for men).

    I blame the abusers and the rapists. Not the product, not the people who make it, not the people who sell it.

    I agree that the blame lies with the abuser. But I’m not a free-market type. I think that corporations are ought to lose personhood and that they need to be regulated, maybe not allowed to push harmful products on the public with dishonest advertising and relative impunity. Still, I’d prefer to see demand dry up rather than ban anything. I just don’t see how attitudes can change if people are inundated with messages reinforcing the status quo.

    What do we say to women who get medical degrees because their parents told them being a doctor was what they would do? Or women gold-medalists who were driven by coaches and parents? Or women on a assembly line because they needed to put food on their table? Or women who go through a fifth of gin every other night to deal with a customer service job? What we do, you see, is take those women and attempt to give them what they need to make other choices if they want to do so…you know, like these people do? None of us in the biz who are “like me” want those who don’t want to be there to be there…some of us even do something about it. Yet, dislike of one’s job and less than ideal reasons for being in it are not unique to sex work. Surely you understand that?

    Parental pressure on a privileged college student is not the same thing as the pressures that a woman with kids, no money, and no job skills or education faces. In any case, my entire goal here is to lobby for a world in which women have more choices. That I want to discuss the problems inherent in the limited set of choices we now face doesn’t mean I’m not shooting for a different set of choices.

    I addressed the dislike for one’s job thing up there in my reply to Nihilunder:

    Sex is not the same thing as doing someone’s taxes. It’s as intimate as two human beings can get with each other, and as such deserves a little more consideration than getting one’s toenails painted. I know that there are plenty of aspects to most people’s jobs that they dislike, but few people are required to submit to allowing people to insert objects or organs into their orifices or performing intimate physical acts with people they are not even physically attracted to.

  64. Gayle July 29, 2008 at 2:14 AM #

    “Gayle- several people have addressed ND’s questions as well as mention the cartoon…”

    So what? The cartoon is what it is. And yeah, I think its funny people are trying to squelch it by calling it racist.

    Funny in a pitiful kind of way.

  65. Kristin July 29, 2008 at 2:14 AM #

    About the racism in the cartoon–I mean… Taking it down erases the record, I suppose, but I am glad not to have to look at it anymore. But if anyone new to the discussion wants to see it, it is still up at Women’s Space.

    In any case, I find it troubling that you dismissed the concerns of the many people here who *did* notice it. I don’t get involved very often in the porn discussions because, frankly, I have very little at stake in the debate–and no personal experience and very little expertise. But this… I really couldn’t let this go, and I wonder if there *is* in fact something to be said for intersectionality and a willingness to engage with multiple forms of oppression? This was a disgusting and hateful cartoon. And I *have* to wonder if the obsession with “raunch culture” is making it difficult for some folks to see the forest for the trees? I mean, for those of you who *didn’t* notice the racism–that suggests to me that your priorities are a little…narrow.

    And, no, I didn’t speak up because I am involved in a conspiracy dedicated to undermining anti-porn posts. I spoke up because it was a disgusting cartoon that had been linked to and posted at multiple blogs, and I was shocked and disgusted by the whole thing.

  66. jerry July 29, 2008 at 2:16 AM #

    I absolutely believe sex work would exist in any world in which markets and money exist (which, to my mind, is all of them, but I could be wrong/unimaginative/overly capitalist.)

    As I alluded to above, in an experiment where capuchin monkeys were taught about money, they invented prostitution. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/05/magazine/05FREAK.html?pagewanted=all

    Throughout the animal kingdom, we see all sorts of behaviors that rad fems attribute to some sort of social construction, or to a patriarchy. I am not saying these behaviors in Animalia mean they are correct in 2008 Homo Sapiens. I am saying that Occam’s Razor suggests that attributing them to an evil patriarchy with no evidence of that is not as likely as attributing them to genetic and evolutionary causes.

    ND, regarding “evolutionary biology” and their “dodgy studies”, I am confused. I know that RadFems dislike evolutionary psychology, but just now discovered that evolutionary biology is also dodgy.

    I honestly believe that it’s evolution that RadFems dislike, because much of it seems to consider unproven, hypothetical, not-observed patriarchy to be the dodgy construct.

    I am “amused” by the various claims that it was child molestation and Stockholm Syndrome and battered wife syndrome and all that stuff that means we can disregard the statements of:
    a) sex workers
    b) college women who say they were not raped
    c) women ph.ds in evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology
    d) gender feminists
    e) any woman that disagrees with radical feminism

    Going back to Occam’s razor, when your defense is that everyone around you is CRAZY, and you are the only person who SEES the TRUTH, well, …. You’re going to need a lot of extraordinary evidence to sell that stuff to Occam.

  67. Kristin July 29, 2008 at 2:17 AM #

    Gayle–Did you happen to SEE the cartoon? If not, you might go over to Women’s Space to check it out before you make assessments about how “funny” it is.

  68. belledame222 July 29, 2008 at 2:19 AM #

    yeah, it’s going to take me a while to properly slog through all this myself. Just coming back to say: to take a stab at addressing that first question meantime, though: i.e. if one hypothesized a world in which economic and misogynist pressures were not factors–that is, sex work -could- be a job like any other job; would it be? And what would it look like?

    And my answer would be: yes, and it’d probably look very much like the very small and “privileged” enclaves I know of, people like Renegade who just like sex as a kind of extreme sport; people who do strip and pole dancing and burlesque and so on as one art form of many (yes, they really can be!); and people I know who are yep, women AND men, who see men AND women, who see their work as a branch of somatic therapy (i.e. bodywork, yes, that is a legitimate field, even including orgasm, yes, in some places: google Joseph Kramer some time) and/or even spiritual practice. Yeah, absolutely.

    And I think in that ideal world, they’d be free to practice their trade without harassment from police or fucked up bastards who think “whores” are fair game (an attitude helped along by keeping it illegal); and would also find it very easy to find any other sort of work should sex work prove not to be something that feels right, as indeed would we all. In that ideal world, we’d all be able to do whatever the hell we wanted and make a living from it; rape and abuse would be universally condemned; and, well, a lot of other shit that we’re a long way from now, yes. And is what people immediately tend to go to when I bring up the existence of the (few, but real) sex workers who -really love their work and find it fulfilling, not just ‘empowering’- that I know of. But, since you asked.

    But the reason I asked about the “orgasm” thing was, it made me suspect that among other things, we may have rather different ideas about the ways in which human sexuality actually works, which might lead us to be talking at cross purposes.

  69. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 2:19 AM #

    It isn’t a matter of not noticing racism, it’s a matter of differing interpretations. Of course I care about the ways in which racism and sexism intersect, but it isn’t germane to this post. This is hard enough to keep track of, since I’m engaging about 30 people in lengthy conversations, so I don’t need other issues taking over the thread. I am going to say this once more: I don’t consider racism a side issue, but I can’t discuss it in this thread or I’ll never get to the discussion that I wrote the post to initiate. If you want to talk about that cartoon, do it somewhere else.

  70. Drakyn July 29, 2008 at 2:21 AM #

    (crossposting from Ren’s with minor editing-yay typos)
    I’m not sure if I’m the sort you were referring to since I don’t really focus on sex-worker’s rights much, but…

    OK, most of Ren and Trin’s answers are pretty much what I’d say and I can’t really think of anything to add/change at the moment. But here are the two that I do differ on:

    I see sex work as a reductionist commodification of human sexuality. Do you think that the reduction of sex to a commodity has a negative effect on our ability to explore and express the potential of human sexuality? If not, why not?

    I don’t think that sex work has to be a “reductionist commodification of human sexuality” (though in today’s society a fair amount of it may be). I think that porn being many people’s main bit of sex-ed has really hurt a lot of people and their ability to explore their sexuality. I don’t think that the ability to buy pictures of people nude or being sexual does this inherently though. Ditto for other forms of sex-work. I also think that privilege and the kyriarchy lets many people be abusive; and sex and sexuality is one obvious area in which these people are abusive. The kyriarchy also promotes very unhealthy relationship and sexuality patterns and ideals in general; sex work reflects this and some aspects may feed into it but do not cause it.

    If you’re a sex-positive dude, tell me why. Why are you in such a huff to help women out? And why does it manifest as sex positivism? Why is your desire to help women out limited to arguing for their “right” to serve you sexually?

    I also don’t much like the term “sex positive”, but that’s another topic.
    I think that people are all different and what works for some won’t work for others (PIV, BDSM, monogamy, consensual exhibitionism/voyeurism, etc). I think that everyone needs to be able to do what the want as long as they only do it with consenting adults.
    I think that there is nothing inherently wrong or bad or dangerous about pictures or videos or text of people being sexual/nude. I think some people have no problem with (or enjoy) selling a sexual service. I’m against anyone being forced or coerced to do any of this.
    I said this earlier, but I really don’t focus on fighting for sex worker’s rights, I’m more focussed on trans*folk’s rights and working against cissexism. Though I obviously support sex workers and prostituted folks, it’s just not my fight to fight.
    I also try to do the whole “shut up and listen” thing since I’m both a guy and not a sex worker.
    I comment and link and whatnot to Ren and other sex worker’s rights advocates because it’s the right thing to do and because she’s a good person and I like her and her writing.
    Many trans*women are also prostituted and/or sex-workers because of discrimination and so this intersects with trans* rights. Trans* rights and cissexism are my focus, but intersectionality is incredibly important. Furthermore, even if something isn’t my focus I need to make sure I am knowledgeable enough to not tread on others’ backs even as I fight for the rights of me and my trans* siblings.

    And I’m generally not sexually interested in women; moreover, I require love in my sex life.
    So it really isn’t any “desire to help women out limited to arguing for their ‘right’ to serve [me] sexually” that causes me to support sex worker advocates like Ren.
    Hellsbells, the only porn I use is explicit stories (with the sex between two or more guys, rarely any women, who are in love) written by people who just enjoy writing them (fanfiction FTW).

    Actually, I just thought of an addition to the first question. I don’t comment much on radfem blogs because they are generally women-only, anti-porn-only, or incredibly transphobic. Moreover, I am of the opinion that in feminist spaces men need to listen; and I am not comfortable telling a group of women that they are wrong about a topic that I do not know intimately and/or extensively.
    It would also feel trollish and icky if I went onto someone’s blog to disagree about something like sex work that I don’t have extensive knowledge of.

  71. belledame222 July 29, 2008 at 2:22 AM #

    um, Gayle? Some of the “people” in question are actual men of color, see. But yes, absolutely, people protesting perceived racism (and several of us separately came to this conclusion) is “pitiful,” okey-dokey then, good to know, mazel tov, say hi to Ma, thank her for the chicken soup, please feel free to disappear from my Internets life and consciousness again for the next ever, that was a really nice year or so there.

  72. belledame222 July 29, 2008 at 2:23 AM #

    I’ll respect ND’s wishes, then, just responding to Gayle there, since she’s still carrying on as well: discussion of the cartoon can continue at the post already started at my place.

  73. Nanella July 29, 2008 at 2:24 AM #

    “I’m probably smarter than anyone you know.”

    Word. It’s always a pleasure to see sharp feminist cerebral matter in action, cutting apart feeble rationalizations to expose the ugliness of patriarchal privilege and conditioning underneath. Keep up the fabulous good work :-D

    “Even if a few men do exist who have the ability to see sex workers as equals in whatever ways one can try to do so, do you really think most men who consume the products of the sex industry see sex workers as equals? Or even as fully human?”

    They don’t, they really and truly do not, otherwise it would be impossible to “compartmentalize” women into groups of cum receptacles/sex objects and Good Girls We Treat Respectfully.

    The myth that women have a weaker sex drive has been scientifically debunked, the myth women that are less “visually stimulated” has been scientifically debunked, and yet there are far, far fewer male strip clubs and gigolos in the world than there are sex workers pandering to the male sexual appetite, which speaks volumes about the role of patriarchal entitlement in using women as objects and cum receptacles. You have to dehumanize a person, strip them of personality and emotion, disregard their hopes, dreams, idiosyncrasies, penchants, etc., in order to project your porny fantasies onto them like a blank slate. That men can become entirely consumed by these fantasies and delude themselves into believing that a stripper is performing for them because she *wants* to and not because he’s paying for it, or that a prostitute is getting off on the encounter, and what’s worse, that some of the men who engage in these activities really could not care less that the women are faking it, I mean, you *have* to “compartmentalize” that sex worker into a subgroup of women who aren’t like ordinary women and are closer to being living, breathing blow-up dolls.

  74. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 2:26 AM #

    jerry –

    What I don’t understand is why in so many radical feminist responses to sexuality, it’s always in terms of misogynistic patriarchy, and there is no reference to evolutionary biology, or anthropology.

    A lot of the studies I read that come out in this or that “scientific” rag claiming that evolutionary biology “proves” that some cultural trait is innate are pretty shoddy. It isn’t hard to find the answer you are looking for if you have already decided what it is before you ask the question. Because I’ve studied the history of several cultures extensively (no, not on the internet), I treat any claim that a behavior is innate with extreme suspicion. There is just too much variance in gendered behavior across cultures for me to assume that anything is innate without incontrovertible proof, which evolutionary biologists don’t often even try to provide.

  75. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 2:48 AM #

    Ellie –

    However, why assume that every expression of female sexuality is met by ravenous males hell-bent on oppressing them?

    I never made that assumption. I’m asking about women who express their sexuality in terms of what men want because they’re getting paid to do so.

    Why are you being so snotty? Don’t answer my questions if you think I’m such a fool and such an asshole.

  76. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 2:51 AM #

    jerry –

    Related: when a college student says she was not raped, why do radical feminists insist she was?

    What the fuck are you talking about?

  77. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 2:53 AM #

    Here is Anthony Kennerson’s response:

    1) Do you believe that women would participate in sex work if we did not live in an oppressive, misogynistic culture? If so, what would the sex industry look like in a world in which women were seen as possessing the same humanity men do?

    Probably, yes…because I believe that misogyny is not just an element of porn but endemic in the entire culture; thusly, a more democratic and egalitarian culture that distributed wealth and resources more equally would allow women more freedom of choice and thought…and more access to safer and more sane sex work and media. And with better rules and regulations to ensure the safety and consensuality of client and worker alike, and the more corrosive puritan attitudes transformed and vetted, sex work would become itself more sane and safe. It won’t be perfect, since there will always be assholes who will attempt to push themselves and their myopias onto both workers and clients, but at least it will be so much easier to isolate and contain them from the general population.

    2) Do you believe that pornography and prostitution negatively affect some women’s lives (obviously some sex workers suffer abuse, but I am referring to women outside the sex industry here)? If not, why not? If so, does any of the responsibility for that lie with sex workers, or does it lie solely with the producers and pimps? Or somewhere else?

    When it is enfused with sex negative and antiegalitarian values?? Sure, porn and prostitution can indeed negatively affect the lives of outsiders. BUT…so can so many other factors, such as income levels, socioeconomics, race, access to basic human resources. The difference between we sex-poz radicals (both men and women) and the antiporn “feminists” is in how we would resolve such inequities. They favor censorship and imposition of a narrowly based sexually conservative vision on everyone; we favor greater access to more choices and developing safer environments for such choices.

    3) Why aren’t there more men out there arguing for women’s “right” to participate in sex work? What do you make of the fact that very few men call sex work a feminist choice? I’d also be happy to discuss the arguments of men who do make such a claim.

    Gee, ND, I thought that men were universally FOR women’s “right” to participate in their own subjugation?? Doesn’t that kinda make your argument kinda moot???

    And I thought that feminism was a women’s movement that didn’t concern itself with what men thought about them???

    But to answer your question more directly: Because a great deal of men have inoculated themselves with the dominant cultural beliefs about sexuality being redeemed only through “intimacy” and procreation through marriage?? Even though they tend to violate these vows with regularity??

    4) Can women like Jenna Jameson can be considered feminists for taking leadership roles in the production of pornography? Why or why not? If the answer is yes, how can we reconcile the negative effects pornography has on women’s lives with referring to a producer of mainstream pornography as a feminist?

    Well….I don’t see Jenna calling herself a feminist, any more than Carly Fiona or Whitney Houston or Cindy McCain calling themselves “feminists”. But considering how successful she has been in her profession, whether she calls herself a feminist or not, she is still a woman deserving of respect and admiration for her success and her leadership.

    Now…I would consider someone like…say, Nina Hartley, definitely a feminist, and definitely a leader in revolutionizing the production of porn and sexuality. Her legacy of bringing progressive values (not only feminist, but also anti-racist and anti-ageist and pro-pleasure) simply can’t be dismissed as readily….and as to “negative effects on women’s lives”: well, we’ll have to just agree to disagree on that.

    5) How can sex work empower individual women when it requires that women submit to being objectified and performing acts for money rather than out of genuine desire to do them?

    Well….people are “objectified” every day to do things that they normally wouldn’t do for the paycheck…and they do learn much from the experience that they can use later on in their lives. And who says that the women don’t already enjoy those acts they get paid to do in their private lives for free?? And as Nina has said consistently, sexual objectification isn’t always that bad in itself.

    6) Alternatively, if one genuinely enjoys something and gets paid for it, does it become a feminist act?In other words, does feminism exist to advance the cause of women as a whole or for individual women to use as a justification for their personal choices?

    It depends on how you describe “feminism” to be, ND. If feminism is defined as to maximize the humanity of women to equal that assumed of men and enlarge the choices and resources that women should have, then I guess that doing something that you love and getting paid well for it would count as being the ultimate goal of “feminism”. But then again, I’m a man, and I don’t feel myself suited to define what a movement of women should be like; that should be up to women themselves. I tend to judge political movements by their actions, not by their labels or gender…or their private sexual practices.

    7) If sex work is a valid, feminist choice, what are we to make of women who say that their participation in sex work resulted from dire poverty, drug addiction, etc.?

    I have a novel idea: ATTACK THE POVERTY AND THE DRUG ADDICTION AND THE CONDITIONS THAT CAUSED SUCH, NOT THE OCCUPATION. Why should sex work have to be the scapegoat for problems that are so much more universal??

    8) I see sex work as a reductionist commodification of human sexuality. Do you think that the reduction of sex to a commodity has a negative effect on our ability to explore and express the potential of human sexuality? If not, why not?

    Well….since I don’t quite see sexuality as you do, ND, I’ll just have to pass on that loaded question. And EVERYTHING in capitalism is commodified; that’s capitalism’s nature. Of course, if you believe that “the potential of human sexuality” can be best realized by neutering, slut-shaming, and badgering women into submitting into your particular narrow view of sexuality, then be my guest.

    9) If you’re a sex-positive dude, tell me why. Why are you in such a huff to help women out? And why does it manifest as sex positivism? Why is your desire to help women out limited to arguing for their “right” to serve you sexually?

    Ahh, yes…the most loaded question of all for last: the old “You evol ’sex pozzie men’ just wanna get into our freakin’ panties!!!” meme.

    Now, ND….if I was in fact capable of meeting Renegade Evolution or Nina Hartley or Vicky Vette or Bridgett Lee or whomever sexy and intelligent woman I currently admire and respect, do you really think that I wouldn’t be in the least interested in jumping their bones?? But there is a distinct reason why I wouldn’t do such: BECAUSE I RESPECT THEM AS FULL HUMAN BEINGS. First off, they are already taken. Secondly, they have the right of first refusal…remember that old meme “NO means NO!!!” (Now, if they came to me and specifically wanted me to get it on with them, then that’s a different question altogether…but my stated principle is that unless they say yes, just assume NO. Not “Not now,” not “Maybe later”…but “NO.”

    Trust me on this, ND…..sex isn’t much fun or pleasurable to me if the person on the other end isn’t enjoying herself as much. That’s the fundamental difference between a genuinely sex-positive male and a boorish, MRA-ish lout who really doesn’t give a Hoover Damn how the woman feels. It’s not about a woman’s “‘right’ to serve me sexually”; it’s about her right to serve HERSELF sexually…and if she prefers to serve herself with one man or the entire roster of the New York Giants team; or one woman, or the entire Los Angeles Sparks women’s pro basketball team, or just by herself with her favorite toy…then that’s all right by me.

    The only means in which such a woman “serves” me is that she is an active participant in her own pursuit of safe and consensual pleasure…and that she is open and honest and willing to share that pleasure with others. That, in the end, is what turns me on, gets me off, and earns my respect.

    And no, ND…I don’t have to want to have sex with a woman to respect her for her humanity. I was brought to this earth by a woman; was raised by a woman, have bosses and supervisors who happen to be women, and look up to and admire several women whom I have no intentions of ever having sex with. There are more than enough willing sexual subjects who celebrate my sexual desire for them willingly to satisfy me. (Even if only in fantasy.)

    Hopefully, that fulfills my end of the challenge…probably not enough to change ND’s opinion of us sex-poz men (and definitely not enough for Witchy to lay off the claws….but then again, I don’t blog to please them in the first place.

  78. jerry July 29, 2008 at 3:05 AM #

    Nine Deuce:

    A lot of the studies I read that come out in this or that “scientific” rag claiming that evolutionary biology “proves” that some cultural trait is innate are pretty shoddy. It isn’t hard to find the answer you are looking for if you have already decided what it is before you ask the question. Because I’ve studied the history of several cultures extensively (no, not on the internet), I treat any claim that a behavior is innate with extreme suspicion. There is just too much variance in gendered behavior across cultures for me to assume that anything is innate without incontrovertible proof, which evolutionary biologists don’t often even try to provide.

    With respect, I think your answer is lacking.

    I am not a lawyer, I have my layman’s notions of laws, but I am not qualified to tell you about rules of evidence. I am not a doctor, I have my layman’s notions of what causes a disease, but I am not qualified to tell you about hdl/ldl whatevah.

    I see no reason to believe your claim per se that studies you’ve come across in scientific rags are shoddy.

    What scientific rags? Nature? Science? Time? Peer reviewed? Written by whom? Written by journalists or written by scientists? Are you reading the actual study? Do you have a deep knowledge of the field?

    Most journalists attempts to explain ANYTHING are usually watered down and akin to blind men and elephants. We all know that by having read what some journalist writes about some incident we’re familiar with.

    Picking apart Time Magazine’s notion of some study is not the same as reading the study, reading its references and deciding the scientists are dodgy.

    I’m still not certain why you are referring to evolutionary biologists when I think you mean evolutionary psychologists.

    But my point is that yes, there are lots of different behaviors and similar behaviors across human cultures, and also an amazing number of similar behaviors across Animalia.

    When I see evidence of capuchin monkeys reinventing prostitution, when I read of owls using makeup, when I learn of lionesses doing the hunting while lions do the eating, well, as I said, I find it remarkable that the rad fem discussions I surf through NEVER mention behaviors in the Animal kingdom.

    Occam’s Razor: blaming a patriarchy seems to be a much more complex explanation, and one that doesn’t answer as many questions or make as good predictions as the simpler explanations: these behaviors arise from genetic and biological reasons.

    Why should I believe Apostate that it is some evil cabal of men in the patriarchy making her put on lipstick, when I know that owls use makeup, that chimpanzees groom, that peacocks strut, that orchids fake male wasps with female wasp constructs? Apostate offers no proof of this, no office memos. She just blames a patriarchy.

    Feel free to look at claims that behavior is innate with lots and lots and lots of suspicion. But you still need to answer that possibility.

    When I hear rad fems regularly dismiss evolutionary psychology studies, without rigorously discussing the science, and by dismissing them as “I cruised the websites of Evo-Psychos quite regularly and found most of them to be woman-haters.”

    http://echidneofthesnakes.blogspot.com/2007_07_01_archive.html#8291138433810237995

    well it tells me where the bias is.

    There are hundreds of Ph.D programs in Evolutionary Psychology located globally and thousands of graduates, many of whom are women.

    When I hear radical feminists dismiss the fields out of hand, I wonder how they think these Ph.Ds were able to write peer reviewed studies, and what they are saying about the women Ph.Ds.

    And I wonder what they think the evolutionary psychologists are saying about the studies and ph.ds in womens’ studies….

  79. jerry July 29, 2008 at 3:16 AM #

    “Related: when a college student says she was not raped, why do radical feminists insist she was?”

    What the fuck are you talking about?

    There’s a very well known claim that 25% of college women will be raped. The problem is this:

    During the 1980s, feminist researchers committed to the rape-culture theory had discovered that asking women directly if they had been raped yielded disappointing results—very few women said that they had been. So Ms. commissioned University of Arizona public health professor Mary Koss to develop a different way of measuring the prevalence of rape. Rather than asking female students about rape per se, Koss asked them if they had experienced actions that she then classified as rape. Koss’s method produced the 25 percent rate, which Ms. then published.

    Koss’s study had serious flaws. Her survey instrument was highly ambiguous, as University of California at Berkeley social-welfare professor Neil Gilbert has pointed out. But the most powerful refutation of Koss’s research came from her own subjects: 73 percent of the women whom she characterized as rape victims said that they hadn’t been raped. Further—though it is inconceivable that a raped woman would voluntarily have sex again with the fiend who attacked her—42 percent of Koss’s supposed victims had intercourse again with their alleged assailants.

    All subsequent feminist rape studies have resulted in this discrepancy between the researchers’ conclusions and the subjects’ own views. A survey of sorority girls at the University of Virginia found that only 23 percent of the subjects whom the survey characterized as rape victims felt that they had been raped—a result that the university’s director of Sexual and Domestic Violence Services calls “discouraging.” Equally damning was a 2000 campus rape study conducted under the aegis of the Department of Justice. Sixty-five percent of what the feminist researchers called “completed rape” victims and three-quarters of “attempted rape” victims said that they did not think that their experiences were “serious enough to report.” The “victims” in the study, moreover, “generally did not state that their victimization resulted in physical or emotional injuries,” report the researchers.

    This goes back to stripping women who dissent of agency. Radical feminists dislike what certain women tell them, and knowing better, say the women were victims of wife battering, stockholm syndrome, abuse, patriarchal brainwashing, etc.

    In the 25% rape claim, when college students said they were not raped, the radical feminist researchers defined the incident AS rape anyway. The women did not really understand or know what happened to them. The radical feminists knew better than these women did.

    Now, instead of radical feminists, insert the phrase ,”men” and you would see how condescending, patronizing, arrogant, and sexist the radical feminists claims are.

    Oddly, often times it is the radical feminists who strip women of the ability to think and act as rational adults.

    Hope that helps.

    (Here’s to hoping my html-fu was working….)

  80. Jim July 29, 2008 at 3:26 AM #

    It’s not just monkeys, penguins also engage in prostitution. Other birds and insects too.

    http://www.nwf.org/nationalwildlife/article.cfm?issueID=73&articleID=1039

    Prostitution exists independently of culture.

  81. Gayle July 29, 2008 at 3:26 AM #

    “um, Gayle? Some of the “people” in question are actual men of color, see.”

    Oh, well. I’m completely chastised then.

    No, I’m really not!

    What happened to you, Belledame? You used to be somewhat funny (although never intentionally). My mum with chicken soup? Really, is that all you got?

    Boring! I’m very disappointed.

  82. Gayle July 29, 2008 at 3:39 AM #

    “the rad fem discussions I surf through NEVER mention behaviors in the Animal kingdom.”

    Hyena females dominate the males. Actually, its worse than that, they beat the shit out of them when they don’t fall in line. My female cat rules over my poor, oppressed boy cat. Oh, and I saw an owl the other day who wasn’t wearing lipstick. She must have been a “rad fem.’

    LOL!

  83. jerry July 29, 2008 at 4:01 AM #

    Hey Jim,

    Thanks for the link to the NWF article. Fascinating stuff. I never knew!

  84. Trin July 29, 2008 at 4:11 AM #

    “Further—though it is inconceivable that a raped woman would voluntarily have sex again with the fiend who attacked her”

    Actually, Jerry, that’s not inconceivable. One of my first thoughts after something nonconsensual happened with a good friend was, “Hey, that was awful. You owe me an orgasm. I should at least get it from you.”

    Not logical in the least, but I would not at all be surprised if some women — particularly if what happened was what often gets deemed a “gray rape” or the rapist was someone the victim considered a friend — go back to their rapists in an attempt to “rewrite” what happened, or to try to give themselves a happier memory of the person.

  85. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 4:19 AM #

    Jim –

    I do not believe we live in an oppressive, misogynistic culture. I believe we live in a culture where sexism is rampant and both sexes are subjected to it.

    That we live in a misogynistic society is so self-evident to me that I can’t possibly move on with this discussion without starting with that as a given. Though this is probably ill-advised, I’d like to ask you to tell me how you came to the conclusion that men suffer from sexism just as much as women. I know that gender roles are oppressive to men as well as women, but women bear a far larger share of the burden of socially constructed gender roles than men do. Seriously.

    The market for sex workers is driven by libido, not sexism.

    Only if you intertwine sex and power. In a world without sexism, men would not want to have sex with women who were not attracted to them, and so would not pay for sex. In a world in which women were human, they wouldn’t be objects, and hence porn couldn’t exist. See this post.

    Let me remind you that there are male sex workers too. Clearly, even with your own assumptions, oppression is not necessary for sex workers to exist.

    I’m aware that male sex workers exist. The deal is, though, that I’d say oppression can exist for them as well. Men who end up in sex work due to a lack of other options are suffering too, no? And as for the men who choose sex work, the dynamic is a bit different. They are objectified just like the women are, but that’s not their default state in this culture. When one gets to choose when and where to be objectified, one has TRUE agency. Know what I’m saying?

    The subset of the porn she produces and the subset of porn that makes some women’s lives worse do not necessarily intersect.

    In Jenna Jameson’s case, they do. It cannot be reconciled. Anyway, I’d argue that all porn, as it exists now (when someone comes up with an example of post-patriarchy porn, let me know), is harmful to women because it spreads the word that we’re here to be objectified.

    By making money, a woman can become more powerful. As you mention poverty later, one example springs to mind. A woman living in poverty can use the money she gains through sex work to gain control over her life. Is that not empowerment?

    But at what cost? And why are women’s sources of power so much more limited than men’s sources of power? Why is sex work one of the small number of lucrative options open to women, when men do not face the same limited set of choices? And what of the fact that only women of a narrow body type can even cash in on such a source of “power”?

    Everybody who has ever had a job has performed acts for money rather than out of genuine desire to do them. That’s why you need to pay people to do jobs.

    See my response on this issue to Nihilunder and Ren. This is a pretty weak argument. There is a qualitative difference here.

    The sex industry is one of the few industries where the requirements of the job are not incompatible with drug addiction or other causes of extreme poverty, e.g. a lack of education.

    And don’t you see the potential for exploitation here? Is it ethical for an industry to get rich off of the suffering of the people it employs? And don’t tell me it’s a good thing because it offers them a source of income. I’m not arguing that these women be left out in the cold, but rather that we create a society in which they don’t find themselves in such dire straits with nowhere to turn but to pornographers and johns who would exploit their misery to make money off of selling their coerced sexuality.

    How would the existence of a sex industry limit the potential of a person who hasn’t chosen to participate in it? Sex is only a commodity to the people who pay for it or who charge for it.

    Porn has an influence on our cultural conception of what sex is and how it is to be done. When sex is reduced to a commercialized exchange, that tends to affect real people’s sex lives in negative ways. Ask any woman who has to deal with a dude who is into porn when she doesn’t want to.

    A reminder: be civil. I didn’t say fuck you, I asked a question.

  86. Nanella July 29, 2008 at 4:28 AM #

    I’d like to take a moment to thank Jerry and Jim for enlightening me to my clearly inferior and ineffective human-based view of sex. To think I’ve wasted undue mental energy and time striving to construct a feasible sexual ideology when obviously I had to look no farther for guidance than the animal kingdom. Monogamy? Sentimental and impractical human construct: out the window it goes! Contraceptives? Waste of money, messy, uncomfortable; animals don’t use contraceptives, so why should I? The next time I ovulate, I’ll honor my animal nature by “doing it” like the animals do…I’ll hunker down in the doggie position in the middle of the sidewalk and wait to be mounted by an acceptable male member of my species.

    Incidentally, female animals trading sex for resources resembles the working husband/housewife patriarchal paradigm far more closely than it does prostitution.

    Not to mention, animals are notorious for instinct-driven behaviors that most humans would condemn as “amoral” because, well, humans are the only animals intellectually evolved enough to understand the concept of “morality”. I see that penguins have a penchant for stealing pebbles from one another, as well, so I guess we should assume that there’s nothing wrong with committing theft because, hey, it’s a *natural* behavior in the animal kingdom.

  87. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 4:41 AM #

    What Nanella said.

  88. jerry July 29, 2008 at 4:50 AM #

    Trin,

    Further—though it is inconceivable that a raped woman would voluntarily have sex again with the fiend who attacked her … Not logical in the least, but I would not at all be surprised if some women — particularly if what happened was what often gets deemed a “gray rape” or the rapist was someone the victim considered a friend — go back to their rapists in an attempt to “rewrite” what happened, or to try to give themselves a happier memory of the person.”

    Actually, Jerry, that’s not inconceivable. …”

    Yes, I think what you write is reasonably plausible, and though I snipped it, it is Heather MacDonald saying that not I.

    I took MacDonald’s version of this since it is fairly recent and a relatively nice summary, but the basic facts behind the Koss study and the theme of her article has been around quite a long time, and I think is accurate — in general radical feminists strip college women of agency with regard to whether a rape occurred.

    I think the gray rape scenario is more nonsense. In one gray rape proposal (discussed at Broadsheet/Salon many times), a man and women are at a party engaging in consensual kissing, and getting very drunk, and the next morning, they wake up in the same bed and neither remembers what happened but the radical feminists decide the woman was raped and the man was responsible because there is no such thing as gray rape.

    According to my understanding of feminism, that’s a load of rubbish. The woman and man should be considered equally as desirous of sex, equally able to judge their ability to drink or their drunk state, and if neither can remember what happened, there is no more reason to suggest the man was the rapist and to suggest the woman was the rapist. More plausibly there was no rape at all and once again the radical feminists are stripping women of rational choice, sexual desire, and equality with men.

    Even in the original Jezebel/Cosmo gray rape scenario described at Jezebel we have two participants, heavily drinking, the woman says she wakes up to realize the man is trying to have sex, she rolls over and goes to sleep, and the readers excoriate her, she was raped, nothing gray about it. Except of course it’s never black and white, we don’t know what his state of mind was, how drunk he was, nor when she says she woke up do we really have any reliable witness to tell us how out of it she really was. Was she passed out, or was she conscious, talking, drunk too, and came to a moment of increased lucidity.

    Ann at Feministing, Jessica Valenti at TPM, Melissa McEwan at Shakespeares Sister all call it a clear rape. McEwan:

    I’m pissed that the woman who wrote the Jezebel piece has decided to go after feminists who are angry about the original ‘gray rape’ piece in Cosmo … But I also feel profoundly sorry for her, because I’ve rarely seen an example of a woman so desperate to dissociate herself from the stigma of rape, so willing to engage in such pitiable semantic gymnastics to redefine a rape as something else, so clearly resolved to the notion that to admit victimization is to admit weakness

    In all cases, the man becomes responsible for his drinking, AND the woman’s drinking. Since she is assumed to be the victim, she is not responsible for understanding how drunk she is. Um, what if she wasn’t the victim? She was drunk off her butt. How do we know she wasn’t the pursuer in her drunk state?

    When her state during sex is compared to her state behind the wheel of car, we are told it’s different, she was the VICTIM of rape, versus the commiter of the crime of drunk driving. And yet, since everyone involved was drunk, how do we know she was the VICTIM and not the assailant? How do we know a rape even occurred?

    It’s more sex based double standards and ends up with the man being forced to take on the role of the patriarch who is responsible for the helpless woman who doesn’t understand the dangers of alcohol.

    I don’t see how radical feminists can both claim to believe women are every bit the equal of men and still claim that women have no agency to determine their drunk state, or whether they were the victims of rape. And same with claiming that sex workers cannot determine that they voluntarily choose sex work and enjoy their life.

  89. Nanella July 29, 2008 at 4:53 AM #

    A little more on the penguin article:

    “In each case, a female penguin left her mate and made her way to a single male at his nest. She stood nearby and gazed at him. When he gave her a sidelong glance and bowed his head, she followed suit. The hopeful male then stepped off his platform of stones, allowing her to waddle on. Leaving no uncertainty about what she was there for, she lay face down on the nest, and the male mounted and mated with her. Afterward, she got up, picked up a stone with her beak, and without further ado, went back to her own nest. In half of the cases, the female returned to the same single male for a second stone, although they did not mate again. In one instance, a female made off with a total of ten stones.”

    The females are *choosing* which males to mate with and then proceed to have the equivalent of an extramarital affair, then leave with a parting gift (a bartering system between prospective future mates, if you read the entire article)! This type of arrangement hardly resembles prostitution. A more appropriate title for the article would’ve been “Swinging Penguin Chicks Get Their Rocks Off (Of Gullible Male Penguins)”.

  90. jerry July 29, 2008 at 4:56 AM #

    Right Nanella, except I clearly said that just because it’s done one way in the animal world doesn’t mean it’s right for homo sapiens in 2008.

    Throughout the animal kingdom, we see all sorts of behaviors that rad fems attribute to some sort of social construction, or to a patriarchy. I am not saying these behaviors in Animalia mean they are correct in 2008 Homo Sapiens. I am saying that Occam’s Razor suggests that attributing them to an evil patriarchy with no evidence of that is not as likely as attributing them to genetic and evolutionary causes.

    Can you please construct a better straw-Jerry and straw-Jim and straw-Man to argue against?

    I also appreciate the mocking and derogatory tone of your post. Do you often find that when faced with an argument constructed of proposition supported with fact, that a strategy of mocking, derision, ad hominem, distraction, and other logical fallacies works for you?

    Most of us prefer a logical counter.

    As to this:

    Incidentally, female animals trading sex for resources resembles the working husband/housewife patriarchal paradigm far more closely than it does prostitution.

    Well, for all Ren and others discuss how the term “sex positive is not quite the right term because it implies other feminists are sex negative….” Congrats for providing a contrary data point to Ren’s argument against the use of sex positive and its implicit assumption.

  91. Djiril July 29, 2008 at 5:03 AM #

    There are some assumptions inherent in all this that you might need to examine. It seems that you are still envisioning a world in which men produce/consume and women perform the sex work. Where’s the change? Where’s the equality?

    Point taken. There would also be an equal number of men in the industry that existed.

    Why are rapes still happening? Why are women still just “more likely” to report having been raped? If a woman is submitting to sex acts she does not want to submit to for money, is there not already an element of coercion? Where is the equality in this world of yours in which women are still eligible for sexual coercion?
    On the rape question, I did say “if,” and I mentioned it because I thought it was an important thing to bring up.
    I think that there would be both women and men who didn’t mind selling sex, especially since they would not be stigmatized for it, and there would also be people who might want to pay for sex, watch an attractive naked person dance on a stage, or watch people performing sex acts on camera.

    I agree. But I think if our social conception of women’s sexuality were to change, if women were to be magically awarded sexual autonomy, free from shame, our behaviors might change. If women’s sexuality were not defined in terms of male sexuality, our sexual behavior might change so drastically that sex work would cease to exist. If no women needed to turn to sex work for money, attention, power, whatever, there’d be a lot less supply. And if most men didn’t conceive of women’s sexuality the way they do now, there’d be a lot less demand.
    Less supply, probably. Less demand, I’m not so sure about, since I generally disagree with the assertion that the majority of demand is about the desire for power and to see women humiliated. I think that people being antisocial, not being able to find a partner, and being more comfortable with business transactions that human interaction would still supply plenty of demand, and gender equality would not make those things go away.

    The responsibility for women being harmed by pornography and other sex industry products lies with the people who produce those products. I’d be hesitant to blame sex workers, but not producers. But I agree that people who shame others for their sexual behavior are part of the larger problem we discussed above.
    I just don’t see women as being directly harmed by pornography. The responsibility for abuse and assault is with those who commit the acts, and the larger society, of which porn is a small part, is responsible for any attitudes which make those things seem ok to the abuser.

    I think people tend to view men who argue for women’s “right” to engage in sex work as either disingenuous and self-serving (because many of them only discuss women’s rights in this context), or myopic, because they don’t see how sex work indirectly affects many women’s lives.
    I think that a lot of men may be like that, but if I can be convinced that some of these sex worker rights activists have good points, so can men.

    I don’t respect them. Men who denigrate women can fuck right off in my book. All I’m saying is that when a bunch of asshole men are pumped about something women are doing, those women ought to wonder. I’m not treating these dicks as authorities on anything but their own assholism. I knew very well that they were calling sex positive women sluts, and that was the problem: these dudes act like they’re supportive of something for self-serving reasons, then denigrate the women they purport to support when they aren’t looking. I’m asking for people’s input on this to learn something, and to hone my own opinions with what I learn.
    Well, I don’t have any reason to think these guys actually “support” sex positive feminism, if they even know what it is. I think they just see the word “sex” and think “sluts” and then they see the word “feminists” and think “people to insult.”
    Trying to infer anything about sex positive feminism from these guys is like trying to infer something about the sexual activities of people’s mothers from a guy on the corner who yells “I ****ed your mom!” at random people.

  92. panoptical July 29, 2008 at 5:12 AM #

    I’ll try to speak only for myself, and not for any other dudes, or for anyone who self-identifies as sex-positive.

    I am a very odd person with a very odd set of backgrounds. If someone asked me what kind of feminist I am, I’d say that I’m a postmodern feminist with radical leanings and a foundation of libertarian anarchy – that is, if we accept the premise that males can be feminists.

    I don’t identify as sex-pos even though I agree conditionally or coincidentally with some sex-pos positions. For instance, I don’t think that criminalization of prostitution will help women overall, because of the general incompetence of law enforcement and the collusion between the government and the criminals. I think that it is clear that expecting politicians who are often themselves johns to make a serious commitment to enforcing laws against prostitution is unrealistic. Furthermore, things like human trafficking, sex slavery, etc often happen out of reach of traditional law enforcement – meaning the only solution would involve the military, who are notorious for their patronage of the sex “industry,” and who are therefore likely to make the problem worse. In other words, as an anarchist, I think that the idea of criminalizing the sex trade is akin to the idea of letting the foxes guard the henhouse.

    Rather, my position is that it is better to offer women options – ideally, the same options men have – and then, and only then, if women who have all the options men have and have been liberated from the patriarchal oppression that, so far, all women still live under, then those women who still want to be “sex workers” could do so with no complaint from me. Now, there’s no perfect world, but at the very least, good strategies for helping women in the sex industry include fighting for economic independence/equality for women (fighting the pay gap, discrimination in education and the work force, etc) and fighting against women’s poverty with programs to educate and employ women who are currently doing “sex work” in order to feed themselves and their families.

    I’m not saying that people who abuse women should not be punished. I’m just saying that in order to address the problem from a legal perspective, all we need are:

    – better laws, in other words, laws that comprehensively address the abuse of women
    – better judges – to enforce these laws – note that the judges we have today fail to enforce the laws we have today, and fail to hand down strict sentences to abusers/sex offenders
    – better juries – juries who will convict men who rape/abuse women
    – better police – police who will take women’s reports seriously, who will not dismiss the words of women based on their appearance, clothing, or profession

    Or, in other words, we need to totally overhaul the patriarchy’s most beloved institution, the State. As an anarchist, I’m trying, and not just on behalf of women, but I’m here to tell you that the fight isn’t going so well.

    So that was kind of a long preamble. To get to the point – I do argue sex-pos positions, when I happen to agree with them. I have defended BDSM, transgender, and burlesque as valid projects to try to explore and express sexuality in non-patriarchal ways. I have found that even the most radical of radical feminists are willing to listen to and engage my points even when we come to the conclusion that we have to agree to disagree.

    So perhaps I should draw a distinction between a pro-porn, pro-prostitution sex-positivism, and my idea that it is generally a good idea to try to wrest women’s (and men’s) sexuality from the grasp of the patriarchy – even if we try and fail, or even if the patriarchy recovers and absorbs whatever advances we make, or even if the only tools we have with which to assess some new sexuality are the patriarchal language and definitions that cause us to see everything in reference to existing patriarchal systems.

    Um. I guess I’ll try to answer your questions now.

    * Do you believe that women would participate in sex work if we did not live in an oppressive, misogynistic culture? If so, what would the sex industry look like in a world in which women were seen as possessing the same humanity men do?

    – Sort of. I believe that marriage is essentially institutionalized prostitution, although the exchange of sex and what some authors have called “women’s labor” for financial, political, and (going back to de Beauvoir) existential security is rarely made explicit. That being said, I think that without misogyny/oppression we’d still have the tendency for people to form mating pairs (and as I am also an advocate for polyamory, mating triads, quads, etc) but these pairs would form their agreements dynamically based on the genuine skills and needs of the individuals, rather than on the preconceived gender roles they’ve been forced into. Could some of those agreements conceivably include sex for money? Sure.

    * Do you believe that pornography and prostitution negatively affect some women’s lives (obviously some sex workers suffer abuse, but I am referring to women outside the sex industry here)? If not, why not? If so, does any of the responsibility for that lie with sex workers, or does it lie solely with the producers and pimps? Or somewhere else?

    – Absolutely. And yes, there’s enough responsibility to go around – producers, pimps, workers. Just as people who participate in porn that conditions people to accept and expect violence towards or degradation of women share in the responsibility for these things happening in the real world, so do also people who participate in showing healthy, positive sexuality deserve credit, which is why I think that some sexual performances can be valid attempts at improving the situation of women, in other words, valid feminist projects. Of course, the vast majority of what we see now is the bad kind.

    However, an individual woman who participates in porn/prostitution because it is the best choice for her can’t really be blamed for the system that interprets her choice as an essential statement about women. The negative effect on women’s lives is, in economic terms, an externality, and externalities are somewhat difficult to deal with, especially in a society that respects people’s rights. I don’t think that sex workers should be blamed or punished, and yet there isn’t a good way to address the consequences of their actions, which makes me think that the solution lies in reducing the demand for violent/degrading sex work – in other words, we have to somehow convince men to treat women like humans.

    * Why aren’t there more men out there arguing for women’s “right” to participate in sex work? What do you make of the fact that very few men call sex work a feminist choice? I’d also be happy to discuss the arguments of men who do make such a claim.

    – Although I am male, I don’t know that I am qualified to speak for men as a group. I certainly don’t understand most of the behaviors exhibited by or expected of men.

    * Can women like Jenna Jameson can be considered feminists for taking leadership roles in the production of pornography? Why or why not? If the answer is yes, how can we reconcile the negative effects pornography has on women’s lives with referring to a producer of mainstream pornography as a feminist?

    – I think that’s a stretch. I don’t know anything about JJ, or other female pornographers, but I suspect that rather than being idealists, they are simply profit-driven. It’s a good sign that women can succeed in traditionally male fields, but it’s sort of a pyrrhic victory for feminism if a woman simply steps into the role of oppressor.

    I think a similar question could be asked about Thomas Jefferson, or any of the other slaveowners who Americans are trained to worship and revere as the people who gave us liberty.

    So I guess one thing we could do is somehow try to weigh the positives against the negatives. Is the porn JJ produces less violent or degrading to women than the porn men produce? Perhaps female pornographers could curb the most vile offenses against women. Or perhaps they become used as justifications for it. I confess I don’t have the answers.

    * How can sex work empower individual women when it requires that women submit to being objectified and performing acts for money rather than out of genuine desire to do them?

    – Power is a strange thing. It comes in different degrees, different forms. If you consider money to be power, a woman who performs sex acts for money has more power than a woman who has no money. In addition, women are given status within the patriarchy if they live up to patriarchal standards of sexiness, and displaying this sexiness can make someone feel powerful. I’m not going to call this power a delusion, but it is certainly not power of the kind or caliber of the power that men reserve for themselves.

    And furthermore, some sex workers don’t feel empowered. I suppose it depends on the person and the specific circumstances.

    * Alternatively, if one genuinely enjoys something and gets paid for it, does it become a feminist act?

    – I think for something to be a feminist act it requires a certain amount of conscientiousness about the act, its repercussions, and the real factors behind it. And generally speaking, I have an easier time buying something as a feminist act if it is difficult than if it is enjoyable. Someone exhibiting a non-pat-approved sexuality – especially if it is likely to invoke scorn or censure from the patriarchy – is someone who I’d consider to be making a feminist statement. Someone doing pat-approved stuff for the high of pat-approval, not so much.

    * In other words, does feminism exist to advance the cause of women as a whole or for individual women to use as a justification for their personal choices?

    – “I’m doing this because I want to celebrate/demonstrate/expand the extra choices that women now have due to feminism” = feminist.

    “I’m doing this because I have decided that it’s my best option/because I feel like it” + “I am female” != (does not equal) feminist.

    This extends to women who claim that their choice to be housewives or stay-at-home-moms are making feminist statements. Women always had the “power” or “choice” to do those things.

    * If sex work is a valid, feminist choice, what are we to make of women who say that their participation in sex work resulted from dire poverty, drug addiction, etc.?

    – This disconnect is due to differences in privilege. Race, class, economic background, appearance, etc all contribute to different situations for different people. If some woman has the economic status to truly have a choice whether to participate in sex “work” or not, then she is in a vastly different place than some woman who does not have the choice. I don’t necessarily think that sex work is a feminist choice, but I do think it could be a valid choice in some circumstances.

    * I see sex work as a reductionist commodification of human sexuality. Do you think that the reduction of sex to a commodity has a negative effect on our ability to explore and express the potential of human sexuality? If not, why not?

    – If you mean in the sense that people might only pursue those aspects of their sexuality that are likely to be profitable, then no, I don’t – not really. I think we can see that the sex acts people perform to accrue profit are not in line with their sexuality, which suggests that it is unlikely that a desire for profit motivates people’s sexuality, which in turn says to me that profit-based sexuality is likely to coexist with, rather than supplant, genuine sexuality. In other words, I don’t think that the availability of sex for money would make people only want to have sex for money.

    However, I do think that some of the realities of the sex industry do serve to limit, redefine, or warp people’s genuine sexuality. For instance, watching porn that features degradation of women seems to cause men to want to have sex that is degrading towards women. This is a bad thing, but I don’t think that it is caused, or rather, determined, by the commodification of sex. I think that if men didn’t desire the degradation of women already, then the commodification of sex would result in non-degrading sex being bought, sold, and portrayed.

    * If you’re a sex-positive dude, tell me why. Why are you in such a huff to help women out? And why does it manifest as sex positivism? Why is your desire to help women out limited to arguing for their “right” to serve you sexually?

    – Well, I guess I’ll answer this to the extent that I hold some sex-pos opinions. Before we dated, my girlfriend was in a five year long relationship with a male who raped and abused her. She described this treatment as BDSM, although it was clear to me that it was abuse, and only after several months did she even begin to see his behavior as something that was wrong, that was not her fault, and that should never have happened. I was only able to convince her that what was going on was not BDSM, and not a valid sexual lifestyle, by educating her about safe, sane, healthy BDSM practices and having her talk to a female, feminist friend of mine who practices BDSM.

    It seems to me that the more people have been influenced by feminism, the more likely they are to be able to help with/prevent situations like this. My gf did not grow up with feminism as I did (my father did all the child-rearing; he taught me to respect women and ignore gender roles). She’s from a Muslim background, and her father is especially religious. Her father also nearly beat her mother to death once, before they got a divorce. So I’ll say that I want to help women because it is completely senseless that so many women put up with abuse from men, and it enrages me that so many men have never been taught any other way to interact with women.

    And I’ll say that it manifests partially in defending certain sex practices because it’s not the people doing BDSM, polyamory, burlesque, cross-dressing, transgendering, or any other alternative or pat-subverting practices who are the ones committing atrocities. Indeed, a knowledge of BDSM has helped me a great deal to help an actual woman (for instance, it’s rape, not BDSM, if there isn’t a safeword, because without a safeword the option for the woman to withdraw consent has been taken away). And from my experience, those involved in alternative sexual practices are much more conscientious, much more scrupulous about attaining consent, and much further from the many hallmarks of rape culture than those who have normal missionary man-on-top patriarchal approved sex.

    And I guess I should say that I don’t personally enjoy BDSM – my friends say I’m as vanilla as they come – and I’m currently in a monogamous relationship, not gay, not transgendered, etc etc. So my only stake in defending these things is that I honestly think that they provide better tools for understanding human sexuality than anything patriarchal society has ever come up with, and these tools are really useful in fighting the patriarchy in real life situations.

    This comment now seems to be ridiculously long… signing off.

  93. Drakyn July 29, 2008 at 5:33 AM #

    Also just wanted to say that not all guys think that “but the animals do it!” is a good enough reason. Animals also eat their young, have incestuous relationships (my aunt’s barn cats), and other unsavory and unhealthy things.

  94. jerry July 29, 2008 at 6:03 AM #

    Hi Drakyn,

    I’m not sure if you were responding to my post, but I am explicitly not saying at all ““but the animals do it!” is a good enough reason. ”

    I am saying that before you attribute behavior to some unseen conspiratorial patriarchy, you need to eliminate the simpler explanation: it’s biology, genetics, and evolution.

    (It’s not only simpler, it would seem to have more evidence supporting it, as well as generate better predictions.)

    Because we see similar behaviors in Animalia, it’s only after eliminating biological/evolutionary explanations, that you can advance to some sort of societal induced and enforced behavior. That’s Occam’s Razor and the scientific method speaking.

    Cole Porter is great stuff, but I am not saying that “the birds do it, the bees do it, even educated fleas do it….” so we *should* do it too, and it is *okay* for us to do it, whatever it is.

  95. panoptical July 29, 2008 at 6:36 AM #

    Jerry,

    I think that once you accept the premise that a given creature can be taught to use money, you also have to accept the premise that the creature can socially construct something – in other words, that it exhibits behaviors created by its interaction with other creatures rather than hard-wired into its DNA. That’s all social construction is – the theory that society is not this way because of an unchangeable “human nature” handed down by God or DNA or whatever, but rather society is this way because this is the way we have learned to interact, and we could also learn different ways.

    The thing is, trying to argue that this or that behavior is found in the animal kingdom doesn’t disprove social construction theory. Social construction theory is the theory that our behaviors are *not* determined by our DNA. Logic tells us that in order to disprove this claim it is not sufficient to provide examples of behaviors that we exhibit that coincide with behaviors that other creatures that share our DNA exhibit.

    The article that you link to in the Times actually proves social constructionism quite nicely. It tells us that in the lever-pulling experiment, monkeys pull the lever about 40% of the time if left to their “natural” lever-pulling devices. However, it also tells us that monkeys can be “conditioned” to pull the lever 100% of the time (which results in other monkeys pulling the lever 50%, then 30%, of the time) or 0% of the time (which results in the other monkeys freaking out and throwing crap all over the place). These behaviors are socially constructed behaviors. The conditioning faced by these monkeys is the same sort of thing that human beings face in our society. The responses of the other monkeys to the conditioned monkeys is the same sort of altered response that humans make to other conditioned humans.

    If monkeys can be taught to be 100% altruistic or 0% altruistic, can’t humans be taught to be 100% misogynistic or 0% misogynistic?

  96. jerry July 29, 2008 at 8:14 AM #

    Panoptical, first there is a huge difference between “social construction” and some sort of rad fem hypothesized “evil patriarchy of da menz” that we all need to blame. At the least social construction theory isn’t judgmental. It doesn’t assume or require evil behaviors on the behalf of a conspiracy of menz to keep the women down. Social construction at least seems to imply this wasn’t a gender forced behavior, but behaviors that the sexes collaborated to form.

    “The thing is, trying to argue that this or that behavior is found in the animal kingdom doesn’t disprove social construction theory.”

    And that’s nothing I ever claimed.

    What I see is that:
    a) Red Fems never acknowledge animal behavior theory, but skip right past it
    b) Occam’s razor suggests animal behavior theory is:
    1) a simpler theory (since we see it across Animalia, and since it requires ONE theory, and not TWO theories, one for Animalia, and one for Homo Sapiens)
    2) more predictive theory (since it predicts sexual behaviors across Animalia) (and since evil patriarchy theory requires spooky action at a distance, that is, unseen participants mediating behavior amongst rational actors, and even requiring actors to work against their best interests)
    3) more backed up by observational evidence (since we can see “sex work” in many animal species, since we think we differ from animals only in DNA, since we see sexual dimorphism across animal species) (since it is hard if not impossible to measure degrees or amounts of patriarchy.) (What units is patriarchy measured in? How many patriarchy units is society at now? What will society look like when patriarchy units have gone to zero? No one ever seems to discuss the measurement of patriarchy or how we determine the difference say between US Society and Pakistani Society and when we will know that US Society has no more patriarchy. In contrast, I can give you all sorts of ways to measure when sexism has decreased, for example, by using “mystery shoppers” to measure rental sexism, or hiring sexism…)

    So I am not saying animal behavior theory eliminates the possibility of a social construction theory. I am saying that explanations that require the more complex social construction theory must eliminate animal behavior theory. That’s Occam’s Razor, a principle long used within science to help judge competing explanations. And it’s also just basic logic.

    “I think that once you accept the premise that a given creature can be taught to use money, you also have to accept the premise that the creature can socially construct something….” I am not a behaviorist — I see what you are saying, but I disagree that money necessarily requires social construction. Beats me, I don’t know, I am only saying your saying it requires it doesn’t make it so. Such a statement requires evidence, experiments, and at the least references to scientists that agree with you. And again, social construction theory is not the same as Evil Patriarchy theory.

    Before you claim social construction amongst the capuchins or claim the Times article proves social construction amongst the capuchins, you need to prove that capuchins are capable of society or social construction. It’s an interesting claim. I’m not saying they are not, just saying that armchair debunking is not worth a whole lot.

    If monkeys can be taught to be 100% altruistic or 0% altruistic, can’t humans be taught to be 100% misogynistic or 0% misogynistic?

    100%? Maybe. Doubtful. I think there is evidence of ingrained preferences for altruistic behaviors in our brain. Conceding the point that maybe it is possible, do you have any observational, empirical evidence that suggests it happens?

    I see no evidence whatsoever for evil patriarchy theory, a theory of covert conspiracies by men and collaborating women intended to keep women down and at bay.

    So again, Occam’s Razor prefers a simpler explanation (many of these behaviors are biological in nature and we can see them across Animalia) over a more complex explanation (while we see these behaviors in Animalia, they are not what is relevant in Homo Sapiens, and what we see in Homo Sapiens is socially constructed, and most likely constructed by some evil patriarchy).

    Maybe God or Demons cause eclipses. First you have to prove that it’s not just F=G M1M2/R^2, because that’s a simpler explanation that matches observables and predicts many other behaviors.

  97. psych July 29, 2008 at 9:08 AM #

    So let me get this straight. Jerry’s arguments boil down to:

    1) Animal brains are identical to human brains.
    2) Pick one of the following:
    a) Animals don’t have experiences at all. Ever.
    or…
    b) People and animals are immune to experiences ever affecting them in any way and they never, ever, ever react to any experience.

    Put these two facts together and we’ve proved that when an animal does something, it is always irrefutable proof that it is wired into them since birth for both the animals and humans.

    Now here’s a humdinger for ya. Some animals can’t be taught to practice prostitution. Proof that prostitution can’t possibly exist! Oh my!

    Oh yes, and those lovely rape statistics. Nothing I love more than people who claim that if anyone shows signs of being traumatized, that is proof that they never experienced any trauma. Score ten points for logic. And look up what Occam’s Razor actually is before you keep throwing it around, please.

  98. Jessica July 29, 2008 at 9:13 AM #

    #1: Yes, I think women would participate in sex work if we got past patriarchy. My hope is that such a post-patriarchal sex industry would be more gender-egalitarian, and there’d be as much porn with a female gaze as with a male gaze. The camera might not necessarily pan to cover each of them equally – it’s plausible that some porn could be marketed to het women and some to het men, and at least according to the current paradigm, there’s no need to show the partner the viewer isn’t interested in.

    #2: I do think porn and prostitution negatively affect some women’s lives, but not all porn, and not all women. I know a lot of men who view pornography, and they’re not scarred by it. It’s certainly true that some men are scarred, and therefore believe that all women are fuck objects, but my guess is that pornography isn’t exclusively to blame for that, that it just exacerbated an existing personality tendency, and also that these men are the exception rather than the rule. Men have imaginations, and I think in the absence of obscene misogynist porn they’d just imagine it for themselves. Correspondingly, I don’t think porn makes men rape – I blame the rapists for rape, and courts that accept the miniskirt line of prosecution, and the worship of sports that allows professional athletes to dismiss rape charges out of hand, etc. But I don’t think a man who isn’t at all inclined to view women as existing solely for his pleasure could watch porn, be converted, and commit rape. I can imagine a man who harbors just a touch of misogyny using pornography to exacerbate it, but in all likelihood there would be many other environmental factors as well, and the porn he consumed would be only one of them. I think mainstream magazines and movies do a lot more to negatively affect women’s self-images. But then, I don’t notice a negative effect on my own life – the biggest effect the patriarchy has on me is to define the ideal female height as shorter than me, so it’s a little hard to find clothes. Not to say that patriarchy doesn’t exist, it’s just that I’m tall and white and pretty and upper-class so it mostly passes me by. My conception of what it would mean for the patriarchy to hurt me is therefore kind of theoretical.

    #4: I would love to see more women like Jenna Jameson in pornography production. Even if the porn she makes does have a negative effect on women, I think it’s outweighed by the fact that money is going into the hands of a successful female business owner. Historically the quickest and most permanent way to erase oppression is economics – money is powerful and has a way of perpetuating itself.

    #5: Work in general is objectifying. The whole point is to sell an ability you have, and the rest of your personality is just incidental. I don’t see sex work as essentially different from any other form of work that requires your time and abilities. (Except for trafficking, which I think we can all agree is bad, and isn’t the point. I’m assuming we’re talking about sex work performed by consenting adults.) It’s not even the only work that sells your body – construction is much harder on your body than pornography is. The limiting factor in porn is age, which doesn’t become a factor until age 40 or so, or later if the milf thing is to your taste. The limiting factor in construction is when the discs in your back give out, or knees, or what have you.

    #6: Feminism means very different things for different economic circumstances. For me, personally, it provides me a litmus test to determine if my choices are good ones. A choice to invest in real estate is potentially a feminist one, since it concentrates more money and therefore power in the hands of women. Teaching women’s self-defense is a feminist choice. A choice to date a selfish abusive asshole is not a feminist choice. But that rationale is naive, shortsighted and brainless in light of, say, Saudi Arabia. Broadly speaking, applying feminism to the Islamic world might mean eventually trying to ensure that women have the same power of choice that men do, but in practice it will mean convincing people to adopt a reading of the Koran in which women aren’t worth less than men. (Among other things, obviously, but since the equivalent battle with misogynist interpretations of the Bible is much closer to being won, the same strategy isn’t as applicable to Western countries.

    #…8?: I don’t think reducing sex to a commodity has limited its scope or variety. Generally, viewing porn has actually given me ideas as to what’s possible. Heck, once I thought butts were only for pooping from! The fact that I don’t like (or practice anymore) anal sex notwithstanding, I doubt I would have tried it without porn or its close cousin literotica. There are factors that do reduce the range of human sexual expression, notably the Catholic Church, but I think porn isn’t one of them. If only because pornography is so varied – for it to narrow the playing field, it would have to give the impression that a certain kind of sex is the only kind you can have, or at least, is the best kind. There’s porn of anything you can think of, and probably a lot of stuff you can’t (or wouldn’t if you got a choice). The biggest thread running through pornography is probably objectification – even that’s not universal, but it’s much harder to find porn that doesn’t objectify SOMEBODY.

    Gosh, what a long comment. Anyway, that’s what I have to say on the matter.

  99. Iamcuriousblue July 29, 2008 at 10:46 AM #

    Panoptical –

    I was actually going to largely stay out of this discussion even though I have a lot to say about the topic here, however, your arguments concerning social constructionism are appallingly simplistic.

    Basically, you argue that if any aspect of behavior can be shown to run counter to genetic hard-wiring, that “proves” social constructionism. Huh?

    Social constructionism vs evolutionary psychology is simply the old “nature vs nurture” debate recast in more ideological form. The problem with both, of course, is that anybody who has undertaken the most cursory study of behavioral science will understand that human behavior is a mix of hard-wired and learned behaviors, with some behaviors falling more into the former category, some into the latter, and most being a very complex interaction between the two. The roots of behavior are not the “either/or” dichotomy you make them out to be.

    Furthermore, you oversimplify enormously when you take “socially constructed” behavior to translate to behavior that is malleable – changeable through “right” education of some kind. That’s really not necessarily the case, either. Much learned behavior is actually very deep and fundamental to one’s identity. Language would be a good example – I defy anybody older than adolescence to completely forget their native language and start speaking another fluently.

    I’ve seen several people argue that the stronger claims of evolutionary psychology have some dodgy science behind it. While that’s a point well taken, I’ll point out that social constructionism has even less in the way of science backing it up, and I don’t thing any behavioral scientist worthy of the title would get behind the idea that humans are a complete tabula rasa who can simply be conditioned to 100% or 0% altruistic, misogynistic, or anything else.

    What ethical implications does this have? Well, to argue that just because animals do something it is therefore ethical is what is know as naturalistic fallacy. However, understanding the range of human behavior (and animal behavior definitely helps in this understanding, which is where I agree with Jerry), as well as the most common tendencies of behavior certainly help one understand how people actually behave and and are generally capable of behaving.

    Philosophically, this gets you back to the “is” versus “ought” problem in ethics. “Is” certainly doesn’t determine how one “ought” to behave, but contrary to utopian arguments (like many advanced here), “is” most certainly puts real constraints on “ought”, and if one’s ethical system is a series of “oughts” that are totally counter to the very real “is” of behavior, then you don’t have a very good or workable ethical system. The worst-case scenario is you end up with something like Cultural Revolution-era China, where a large amount of outright terror is used to scare people into “altruistic” behavior that is otherwise contrary to their nature.

  100. Ellie July 29, 2008 at 12:36 PM #

    Thanks for picking *one* part of my comments to respond to. As for why I’m being snotty, why are you posting graphics that are so degrading to men? Or is it okay to be degrading to men?

    Don’t ask questions if you can’t stand to hear answers that you don’t like.

  101. RenegadeEvolution July 29, 2008 at 1:23 PM #

    ND:

    “I’m not speaking for anyone else, but that’s not applicable to me. I’ve got the most charitable comment policy in the universe, and I think I even disappoint some of my radical feminist pals with my willingness to discuss certain things to death, even with disruptive dudes. It’s a fine line. I ask people here to be willing to confront and examine their own privileges, and to be civil, but…”

    True enough, you don’t go in for the heavy moderation and pretty much run a free-fire zone, but a lot of people in general find themselves heavily moderated/edited (even when being highly civil) on some radical feminist blogs, hence the avoidance on the part of many. Sure, this doesn’t apply to you, but it colors the way people view “rad fem blogs” in general.

    “…I guess I expected more women to respond…”

    Well, some of us have, so at least you have some women’s opinions for pondering.

    “I think that corporations are ought to lose personhood and that they need to be regulated, maybe not allowed to push harmful products on the public with dishonest advertising and relative impunity. Still, I’d prefer to see demand dry up rather than ban anything. I just don’t see how attitudes can change if people are inundated with messages reinforcing the status quo.”

    All worthy goals, really. Not necessarily how I look at it, but that’s fine, you know? And the demand drying up? Well, there’s a mountain indeed.

    “In any case, my entire goal here is to lobby for a world in which women have more choices.”

    I think many of us are with you on that. In fact, I don’t think I know any woman who would disagree with that goal.

    “Sex is not the same thing as doing someone’s taxes. It’s as intimate as two human beings can get with each other, and as such deserves a little more consideration than getting one’s toenails painted. I know that there are plenty of aspects to most people’s jobs that they dislike, but few people are required to submit to allowing people to insert objects or organs into their orifices or performing intimate physical acts with people they are not even physically attracted to.”

    Ah, see, this is one of those “nothing is universal things”. In your mind, it may very well be as intimate as two human beings can get and deserve more consideration, but that is not necessarily the case for everyone. That is almost a moral call, even. I find an intense, deep and honest conversation or the sharing of a great tragedy or accomplishment with someone far more intimate than any sex act, in fact, doing my taxes is a bigger deal. That is merely a difference in wiring between me and you, I suppose, but I don’t feel as if either one of us gets to tell the other what is intimate and deserving of consideration and what is not.

    Gayle: Yawn.

    Nanella:

    “They don’t, they really and truly do not, otherwise it would be impossible to “compartmentalize” women into groups of cum receptacles/sex objects and Good Girls We Treat Respectfully.”
    Really? You 100% positive on that? Oddly enough I know a lot of guys, including the one I married, who have no difficulty seeing sex workers as fully human people deserving of resepect, and never in his wildest dreams, even for the sake of shock and irony, would they call them “cum receptacles”.

  102. syndicalist702 July 29, 2008 at 1:36 PM #

    I would say I’m sex neutral. I like sex, but I think our society grossly overrates it. I still want to answer your questions, tough.

    First one: A society without patriarchy would probably see much less participation from women and more from men in the sex industry compared to now, given a more equal playing field.

    Second: I believe porn destroys our natural abilities for sexual relations when we become dependent on it as men. Porn has ruined many women’s lives who have gone on record to say so.

    Third: Folks in a position of privilege have no incentive to argue or act, on behalf of or as an auxiliary to, a movement lead by those less privileged. My wife appealed to my humanity, which got me interested in feminist ideology, though I’m not inclined to make appealing to the privileged the responsibility of those who are not privileged.

    Fourth: Folks like Jenna Jameson are the house slaves of feminism, at best. They are living proof that empowerment doesn’t necessarily constitute freedom. That said, I just can’t wrap my feeble mind around the idea that one who is captive can do exactly what her captor wants, but still be captive and call herself “empowered,” or “free.” I scratch my head at that one.

    Fifth: Sex work my be able to “empower” women individually, and only in a relative matter to the other slaves, kind of like a house slave in comparison to a field slave. It’s a scam, really.

    Sixth: Calling something feminist or non-feminist isn’t up to me. I’m not female. Seeing someone comply with the master and call herself empowered sure as hell is confusing, though.

    Seventh: Hopefully feminism exists to empower all women (and men, for that matter), rather than a few individuals. Otherwise, how could anyone call it a movement?

    Eighth: This question is moot to me, because I don’t feel participation in sex work is a feminist or empowering act. The idea that the two can coexist is ambiguous as hell to me. I mean, if a woman chooses to do that (meaning she’s not forced into it via social woes), then more power to her, but I still can’t reconcile complying to objectification with true feminist ideology. I just can’t.

    Ninth: When anything is commodified, packaged, and sold, it becomes a shadow of its former self. It’s invariably watered down for mass appeal, rather than left whole and honest to the individuals’ desires. Take the music industry for an example. See what I mean? Ick.

    Ten: I love sex, but I’m not their definition of sex-positive, which is a cannibalized term, at best. I love my wife to be pleased as much as I like to be pleased. As such, I feel women should have as much say as men in the bedroom. To me, that’s exactly where sex belongs: in the bedroom. The hypersexualization of like, everyFRICKINthing, is beginning to bore the hell out of me. It’s old, it’s tired, and it’s redundant. It’s okay to talk about sex, but – shit, man! – everywhere I look (I live in Vegas)?? Come on. Turning any human being into a commodity is wrong, I don’t care how one tries to justify it. I feel the same way about sex.

  103. demonista July 29, 2008 at 1:40 PM #

    The people who have refuted jerry have done fairly well; the boy is a fool.

    Incidentally, I’ve been blogging about evolutionary psychology lately: http://demonista.livejournal.com/95400.html, http://demonista.livejournal.com/94561.html, and http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/note.php?note_id=59031435643&id=187908079&index=0

    how instinctual is rape, prostitution, etc if sexuality, including intercourse, is learned?

    what about all those pesky female supremacist species? preying mantises is one of many species which tend to kill their male partners after mating. female elephants beat and even kill male elephants if they do not leave the female-run herd. the males have to go to another herd and be accepted by the females.

    in addition, if it was in men’s biology or genetics, wouldn’t more men rent women in prostitution? wouldn’t men have the same rates of sexually abusing women, regardless of the offenders’ race? why would so many men have an aversion to both?

    in most species, the male is the beautiful partner, competing with other males for female attention. so using that as an example to justify the prostitution of women is rather naive–yet another patriarchal reversal. same with lionnesses being the hunters–they are the providers, not the males. female penguins STEAL from male penguins, not prostitute themselves.

    and in humans, if women are so sexless, why do we have multiple and sequential orgasms? why are we often at our most “horny” and “aroused” when we are menstruating–a time when we are not ovulating? why do pregnant women feel such stron sexual desire? why do menopausal women?

    in reference to koss’s study. many women who have been violated don’t recognise it as such, and even if they do, go on to have sexual contact with their abuser. i was one of them. i know many women who figured various things after sexual assault–from “well, i might as well get an orgasm out of this if he’s going to force me anyway” to “men are just like that; they need to be men” to “it’ll be different this time.” and needless to say if it’s in a dating relationship, the risk of repeated rape increases, and if it’s a marital relationship, the risk goes up even further.

  104. womensspace July 29, 2008 at 3:55 PM #

    Gayle: HA! Now they’re trying to accuse you of being racist for posting a cartoon showing pervy old white men ogling a woman?

    Awesome!

    They’ll find any excuse to try and push you off them. Losers.

    Anuna wrote the definitive response to this (on my blog), which I thought some here would appreciate.

    To me, only two of the men looked as if they were probably of color, and one maybe. I just assumed the rest of them were white, and the idea that they were all supposed to be non-white would never have occurred to me. I think if a bunch of different people looked at this cartoon, you’d get a wide variety of different estimates on the racial proportions of the audience. Maybe that shows that race is partly in the eye of the beholder.

    Maybe the deleted commenters’ real problem is that the men are portrayed in a very unattractive way. This makes them look, to the racist viewer, less “white.” Because the white man is defined as the epitome of perfection, especially the white northern European man. They are idealized with very pale smooth skin, straight noses, clear (blue) eyes, symmetrical proportions, and controlled, upright, athletic carriage. Whereas men of color are defined as all that is unattractive, so that every negative quality can be projected onto them. Thus, any time a man looks bulbous, hairy, sneaky, crude, greasy, sloppy, slouching, misproportioned and out of control, he has, in the eyes of the racist, been pushed down the scale toward something “less white.” It’s all part of the continuum of racism, isn’t it? So perhaps the real problem is the racist assumptions of those who perceived racism in negative commentary about pornophiliac men. Otherwise they wouldn’t have assumed that just because the men are unattractive, they must not be white.

    Bolds mine.

    Panoptical also pointed out that the men in the picture have white people hair. They do, most of them exaggeratedly so.

  105. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 4:11 PM #

    That was how I saw it as well. I was pretty taken aback when Anthony made the suggestion that I had chosen the cartoon as a specific attack on him, considering the fact that I’d never heard of his existence until about 30 minutes before he made that claim (2 days after I posted the comic).

  106. Gayle July 29, 2008 at 4:14 PM #

    Jerry,

    Feminists mock EP for the same reason scientists find it suspect. Like astrology and phrenology –and scanning tacos for images of Jesus—there’s not that much science involved in it. Rather than gleaming usable information by observing a subject, practitioners of this art have a tendency towards projecting their own belief systems onto the observed. There’s a long history of quack science which should have taught us all something about the legitimacy of this type of thing: Spanish scientists who measured the shapes of women’s heads and decided, once and for all!- that, unlike men, women have no souls. Animal behaviorists who were oh-so-sure prides were ruled by the males that feed them, until they found out the females do all the hunting and the males stick around only during mating season. (They are feed for their efforts, though—so going by your penguin example above, they must be prostitutes.)

    I can’t think of a less convincing line of argument from a so-called sex–pos, if that’s what you are, anyway. If you really believe people operate on the same instinctive level as animals then you deny thought and choice and agency, which is what the whole sex pos argument is supposed to be about, is it not?

  107. Iamcuriousblue July 29, 2008 at 4:36 PM #

    Gayle writes:

    “Feminists mock EP for the same reason scientists find it suspect. Like astrology and phrenology –and scanning tacos for images of Jesus—there’s not that much science involved in it. Rather than gleaming usable information by observing a subject, practitioners of this art have a tendency towards projecting their own belief systems onto the observed. “

    Which is also very much the case with social constructionism. In spite of which, feminists often seem very quick to point to it as the the true and uncontested model of human behavior.

    It strikes me as special pleading, really.

  108. jerry July 29, 2008 at 4:40 PM #

    NineDeuce,

    Remember what Ren and I said above about why the men rarely show up? Well, I appreciate the way you have not allowed personal attacks to foster in this thread, and encouraged the participants to understand that invective is not a replacement for a fact based argument.

    Look I’m just a foolish boy who thinks that dogs sniffing butts in public means I should sniff butts in public, but my experience stands: in surfing the web and in my limited experience, I’ve never seen any of the people that claim to be radical feminists, containing people I assume have taken women’s studies EVER seriously address ANYTHING from the animal kingdom. They all go straight to patriarchy and social construction and dismiss animal behavior with snide put downs like echidne, nanella, psych, panoptical and you do. That’s a pretty interesting theory of how science works right there. Or maybe all that animal behavior stuff is just a sore point.

    Hey, IACB, well written, much better than mine of course, and thanks for the clarification.

    Gayle, IACB wrote it better than I. Read more carefully, I never said what you claim. Also, funny what you say about scientists and EP, because lots of scientists say the same thing about your conspiracy theories.

    Hey psych? So do tell, what’s Occam’s Razor and how did I get that wrong? How does Occam’s Razor suggest that we can ignore animal behavior, and how does Occam’s Razor suggest social construction or patriarchy conspiracies are the simpler theories?

  109. m Andrea July 29, 2008 at 4:44 PM #

    Sheeeeeeet, and I thought you were a troll. gah, I’m embarrassed. You are fabulous, amazing post, wonderful discussion.

  110. syndicalist702 July 29, 2008 at 4:52 PM #

    “-and scanning tacos for images of Jesus-“

    Laughed my ass off at that one.

  111. Kristin July 29, 2008 at 4:59 PM #

    I must say… I find it utterly hilarious that *I* was accused of derailing, and yet… This thread has morphed into a debate about evolutionary psychology. Funny, that.

    In any case, Belle has added another particularly *enlightening* cartoon by that cartoonist to her site, in case you had any questions about whether or not she (Elena Streier) is a racist cartoonist. It’s a picture of W. on horseback gunning down an Indian woman–the caption reads, “pursuing terrorists in the Old West.” Again, just in case you still weren’t sure…

  112. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 5:02 PM #

    Kristin – You have to be kidding me. A cartoon showing W shooting Indians referring to those Indians as terrorists is meant to highlight HIS racism and violence. Is no one capable of detecting satire anymore?

    Also, evolutionary biology is germane to the post. It speaks to my first question. We’re discussing whether porn would exist in a non-misogynistic world.

  113. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 5:04 PM #

    702 – I liked that one a lot as well. Any time someone can bring up tacos in a joke, I’m on board.

  114. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 5:08 PM #

    jerry – Just hold your horses. I’m going to address everything going on here. Would you rather I start moderating more heavily, but against radfems instead of men? I have a lot to say, but I have a life that is getting in the way. I’ll see everyone in a few hours.

  115. womensspace July 29, 2008 at 5:15 PM #

    It’s a picture of W. on horseback gunning down an Indian woman–the caption reads, “pursuing terrorists in the Old West.” Again, just in case you still weren’t sure…

    What is the apparent disconnect here so far as satire goes. That cartoon is commentary on the heinousness of George Bush and his war on terror. Satire is what political cartoons are all about. The cartoonist is saying, “This pathetic excuse for a human being, let alone a President, could shoot an indigenous woman and justify it as a war on terror.”

    Incredible. Pathetic. Ridiculous.

  116. m Andrea July 29, 2008 at 5:18 PM #

    “I see a shit ton more of “woman-positive, not about the men” writing on sex poz blogs than radical ones as a general rule, “

    Most women want to believe that men consider them as equals; it is extremely painful to contemplate that men equate “equal” to “sexual servant”. So naturally all the sex-pozzies are going to talk about how empowered women are by this crap, and of course they will not focus on the negative. If they ever do discuss the negative, it’s always in terms of isolated incidents; they will not measure the amount of harm done to women on a grand scale. And of course everything is framed in relation to the nice neutral guys who don’t do these horrible things.

    I do not measure the amount of harm done to women by measuring the amount of nice neutral guys.

  117. panoptical July 29, 2008 at 5:21 PM #

    Jerry,

    Why don’t we see animals creating the internet? Long-range communication devices? Art? Literature? Musical instruments, symphonies, opera, ballet? Flying machines? Any machines?

    Clearly, human beings are capable of creating systems far more complex than anything created by animals. Most of these systems are emergent. That means that they cannot be explained in terms of animal behavior, but instead must be seen as resulting from a multiplicity of interactions in which no actor has a final schematic for what the system will look like.

    The reason radfems don’t look to animal behavior to explain human behavior is that the above stated fact – that human behavior is too complex to be reduced to a sum of animal behaviors – is intuitively obvious to us. It’s so intuitive that it’s difficult to even put to words. But, since you asked, I’ve eliminated animal behavior theory. Animal behavior theory can’t possibly account for complex human behaviors.

    Regarding patriarchy: no, something does not require “units” in order to exist. We consider our society to be democratic. We consider Bristish society to be democratic. Do we expect to be able to measure the number of units of democracy here and in Britain and thus find out quantitatively which society is more democratic? Let’s see. Britain has three major political parties, America has two – that’s 30,000 points for Britain, 20,000 for America. Britain still has a monarchy; that’s minus 5,000. Britain has an official church, minus 10,000. America’s last two elections were fixed, that’s minus 40,000.

    Ah, this is ridiculous. Too complicated for my animal brain. Clearly, democracy doesn’t exist and we’re all deluding ourselves. Let’s use Occam’s Razor! Britain has a queen; so do bees, therefore the English must have lots of bee-DNA!

    There’s tons of evidence for the patriarchy. It’s overwhelming. I don’t even know where to start. Throughout all of human history, almost everyone who’s ever been in charge has been male. Kings, nobles, popes, priests, rabbis, imams, mullahs, prophets, messiahs, gods, emperors, pharoahs, senators, representatives, presidents, prime ministers, grand viziers, CEOs, etc etc etc etc. Can anyone honestly hold the opinion that these people haven’t spent all of human history setting things up to favor themselves? It doesn’t require any kind of covert conspiracy theory. When rich people are in power they set things up to favor rich people. When white people are in power they set things up to favor white people. When men are in power they set things up to favor men. And men have been in power for all of human history and men still are.

    And it’s not just political and religious and economic power. A man’s home is his castle, every man is king of his household. That’s why the nuclear family is the fundamental unit of the patriarchy – the father is in charge of the woman and the children. This doesn’t mean that every father goes to a secret meeting to receive instructions on how to oppress women. It just means that the concept of father as we understand it is parallel to the concept of king and of God (who is the father to all of us).

    The father/king/god isn’t in charge because there’s some magical group with spooky distance powers enforcing male authority. Rather, the patriarchy is the result – the observable end product – of countless instances of male, paternal authority. And we are awash in evidence that the end result of male authority is oppressive to women.

  118. jerry July 29, 2008 at 5:33 PM #

    Would you rather I start moderating more heavily, but against radfems instead of men?

    It’s not a question of moderation policy. It’s a question of your understanding of your own question: why don’t men show up? And it’s a question about answering questions about science or behavior: invective and snark are “fun” and “cool” and “hip” and a way of “getting back at the man”, but are actually not part of the rational and logical part of an argument, which is actually, the only required part of an argument, and the invective and snark should come as a nice desert, not as the main course or only course.

    Lots of shouts of “he’s a fool” without adding much else doesn’t make him a fool, or wrong, though it probably keeps him from coming back. It’s basically just thought policing, speech policing, and message enforcement. Those are not often found in useful discussions.

  119. bonobobabe July 29, 2008 at 5:34 PM #

    I’m glad I logged off the internet last night. Sheesh. I expected a lot of comments…but man oh man, there are TONS.

    Anyway, I don’t care to debate sex-possies. That’s your deal, Nine, and you do it way better than I can, anyway.

    I just want to say that you always state things really well, your arguments are cogent, coherent, and airtight. I think the most important thing you mentioned (and I’m going from memory, because I’m not about to slog through over a hundred comments to find it) was that in a society without sexism, men wouldn’t pay women who weren’t attracted to them to have sex with them. That’s the crux right there.

  120. belledame222 July 29, 2008 at 5:56 PM #

    Well, actually the cartoonist’s bio says that she’s drawn for both rightwing and leftwing publications: she is an “equal opportunity offender.” The overall bulk of her work makes her come off like a very rightwing libertarian who started off jingoist after 9/11, then switched to being against Bush and anti-war because it’s wasteful and he’s doing it wrong and shit, but–okay. Can’t say when this particular one’s vintage is from, but um. Okay. Satire and irony, righty.

    So, let me see if I have this straight:

    Stripping, sex work, burlesque, femme presentation, porn, etc., none of that can be reclaimed, made ironic, have its meaning changed. Men read it a certain way, women (some women) always find it offensive and oppressive, and that’s all that matters. Period, end, full stop.

    But…when it comes to racism, or even garish -sexist- caricatures of “dumb blondes,” suddenly, subtle nuances in the supposed intent of the author (which none of us knows for sure) make the world of difference, and the rest of us are, what was it? -idiotic- if we can’t automatically tell the difference. I mean, even if an actual NDN woman is the one who first drew my attention to that particular cartoon, because she found it incredibly offensive, which she did (Donna of “Silence of Our Friends,” for the record). Lighten up, it’s just entertainment.

    I realize that you are the smartest person in the multiverse, and that if you haven’t wrapped your mighty brain around this concept it clearly isn’t a legitimate one. Still, just for the sake of exercise, it seemed worth typing, just one more time.

  121. panoptical July 29, 2008 at 6:25 PM #

    IACB,

    Gosh, I didn’t mean to appall anyone. I went for simplistic because I just had my head shaved with Occam’s Razor and I think it took off a piece of my ear.

    * Basically, you argue that if any aspect of behavior can be shown to run counter to genetic hard-wiring, that “proves” social constructionism. Huh?

    – Yes, exactly. After the Enlightenment, philosophers stopped being able to use God as an excuse for the order of society and began looking to other quarters for explanations. Men were no longer in charge because God put them in charge – so why were they in charge? “Well, if it’s not God, it must be biology,” went the reasoning. “Clearly men are biologically superior – stronger, more rational, etc etc. There are biological reasons why men have to be in charge and women have to be subservient; why men have to wear trousers and women skirts; why men have to provide financially and women have to raise the children; etc.” These theories can be grouped under the heading “biological determinism.” In order to move beyond this view of men and women – which is still held by many people today – feminists had to come up with some other explanation for the differences between men and women. Social constructionism is that explanation – that gender differences are not determined by biology, but are instead learned behaviors. From these theories we get the idea of sex vs. gender.

    There are different degrees of social constructionism. For some, sex differences are real and significant, but should not be seen as prescriptive (for instance, someone might claim that women are physically weaker than men, but that this should not be taken to mean that women must not be allowed to do things that require physical strength). For others, even biological differences are socially constructed in terms of how we regard them; in other words, perhaps women and men do have differences in their muscle mass and distribution, but these differences are only intelligible to us by reference to their social significance, and if not for social convention, we wouldn’t even notice them.

    * Furthermore, you oversimplify enormously when you take “socially constructed” behavior to translate to “behavior that is malleable”

    – I’m not making the claim you think I am. Just because a behavior is learned, doesn’t mean it can be unlearned – but just because a behavior can’t be unlearned, doesn’t make it innate. No, I can’t unlearn English, but that certainly doesn’t mean that English comes from my DNA, or that we can observe English arising in animal behavior.

    And that does prove my point: humans create constructions – like English – that are not traceable to animal behavior. And semiotically, the signifier and signified need not have any causal relation, in other words, the word we use for something is not necessarily related to that thing by anything other than convention. These conventions are completely arbitrary. There’s no reason that a tree should be called a “tree” rather than a “blorp.” Similarly, the relation between human biology and human social practices is also often arbitrary. There’s no reason why a very skinny woman should be considered “pretty” and a healthy woman should be considered “ugly,” and yet we continue to bombard each other with images of Kate Moss and other similarly-shaped individuals.

  122. womensspace July 29, 2008 at 6:49 PM #

    More brilliant analysis, for once from a black/mixed race woman:

    http://www.womensspace.org/phpBB2/2008/07/28/what-exploitation/#comment-17620

  123. syndicalist702 July 29, 2008 at 7:39 PM #

    “I just had my head shaved with Occam’s Razor and I think it took off a piece of my ear.”

    Brilliant.

  124. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 7:41 PM #

    Alright, everyone. I’m back and I’m going to try to get to everything.

    Roy Kay –

    Ehh. I’m not a sex-pos feminist, because I’m not a feminist. I’m a women’s libber, I favor the elimination of legal restraints on women’s occupational rights, whether that means being President or Prostitute. A women’s body and mind are hers to employ as she elects – unencumbered by RadFem, Religious Rightist, or even my own personal preference.

    Are you for liberating women from sexual assault, or just from restraints on their occupational rights? Are you for liberating women from bearing the bulk of responsibility for childcare and house work? Are you out asking people to bring back the ERA for a vote?

    As of now, the only kind of sex work that isn’t legal is prostitution (if it’s not being filmed), and I’d agree that it should be decriminalized. But I’m also a women’s-libber, rather than an equality feminist, meaning, I don’t want us to get to be the same as men. I want us to be liberated from the idea that being like men is the ultimate goal. I want women to be human, too, and to get to decide for ourselves what and who we want to be. For me, that includes defining our own sexuality, which we are not at liberty to do in a culture in which sex is defined by men and in which women are used as objects by men.

    Don’t lump me in with right-wingers. I have never tried to tell women what to do with their bodies and never would. I’ve always approached this from the standpoint that it’s consumers that are the problem, not sex workers. If men didn’t feel entitled to the use of women’s bodies, demand would dry up and the industry would shrivel. That is not the same as me shaming sex workers the way right-wingers do. See, they want to control women’s sexuality to protect their privileged access to and ownership over it. I want women’s sexuality freed from men’s sexuality. We aren’t bedfellows. We aren’t even in the same neighborhood.

    An inept woman is a poor partner and a silenced woman is a poor partner.

    I agree, but how about we push for women’s financial and social equality for women’s sake?

    Women can hire men if they so desire for sex work. Under a BETTER society, one devoid of the manipulations and controls of the two groups I noted, they could do so with less opprobrium.

    Do you really think it’s opprobrium that’s keeping women from paying for sex? I think it the consumption of sex industry products highlights a way of looking at people that is problematic. Our culture has commodified female sexuality to a much greater extent than it has male sexuality. It is almost ethically acceptable in the main to rent a woman’s body. That concept seems absurd to most people if you replace the woman with a man.

    Pornography and prostitution probably make little difference in most women’s lives. Under a fully liberated society it would improve women’s lives.

    Utter nonsense. Pornography has negatively affected my life, and the lives of almost every woman I know. We have to deal with men who have no understanding of female sexuality, we have to deal with men who have been taught that women are nothing but fuck objects, we have to deal with men who have lost any sense of appropriate boundaries after years of wacking off to dehumanizing porn.

    Not to mention the fact that we often find ourselves dealing with men in positions of authority who watch degrading porn and see us as less than human. You can say men compartmentalize (a problematic concept in and of itself — isn’t talking about compartmentalizing just another way of saying you have a Madonna/whore complex?), and maybe you do, but they all don’t, and degrading porn wouldn’t exist if there were no misogynistic men creating demand for it.

    The ethos of sexual autonomy remaining with the individual woman, not controlled by the state nor others in society, but hers to employ as she so desires, whether for profit, pleasure or both, positively affects women, by encouraging a general respect for their autonomy and agency.

    Again, no one is arguing for restricting women’s legal or social rights to decide what to do with their bodies. That’s a straw man. I’m a feminist. I’m all for women determining their own destinies. But that doesn’t mean I can’t call attention to the fact that our society limits their options.

    I will go further and declare that obstructing women’s rights to engage in prostitution and pornography is tantamount to rape. I see no difference between forces her legs together and forcing them apart. It’s still the same invasion of her sexual autonomy

    Un-FUCKING-believable. I’d like to ask any female sex worker to tell me whether they think I’m telling them they ought to not be allowed to do as they please with their bodies. I’d also like to ask them whether they’d prefer to be raped or go into some other line of work. This statement is so fucking insane that I can’t even address it. Only someone who is relatively free from the threat of rape could say something so absolutely ludicrous.

  125. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 8:02 PM #

    Trin –

    I’ve never understood the claim that commodification of sexuality is worse than other kinds of commodification, so I’m not sure how to answer you in more depth than “Wait, what? Uh… no.” I think sexuality is important and personal and key to who we are, but I don’t think every time we perform sexual acts, all of this gets fully engaged. Sometimes when we kiss our loved one hello it’s a profound expression of love and need. Sometimes it’s routine. If that weren’t the case every sexual interaction with a consenting partner would be About Our Very SOOOOOOULS! and, well, barring what some swooning teens think about it, I don’t see why anyone would believe this.

    The problem with the commodification of sexuality is that it’s women’s sexuality that’s being objectified and commodified. I think the reason that such a thing is possible is that we live in a sexist society in which women are seen as less human than men are in a lot of senses and in a lot of quarters. But I’d say it was a problem in any case, because despite the existence of women who enjoy sex work, the vast majority of women, even those who do engage in sex work, do not want to have sex with people they are not attracted to for money. Nor do men, though they don’t have to consider it to the same degree women do. It’s a limited set of options that women are offered in this society, and I truly believe that if we had real equality (or, better, liberty), women would not be as likely to identify with men’s misogynistic fantasies, and women would be less likely to be willing to sell their sexuality.

  126. RenegadeEvolution July 29, 2008 at 8:06 PM #

    mAndrea:

    “So naturally all the sex-pozzies are going to talk about how empowered women are by this crap, and of course they will not focus on the negative. If they ever do discuss the negative, it’s always in terms of isolated incidents; they will not measure the amount of harm done to women on a grand scale. And of course everything is framed in relation to the nice neutral guys who don’t do these horrible things.”

    Incorrect.

    N.D.:

    “Un-FUCKING-believable. I’d like to ask any female sex worker to tell me whether they think I’m telling them they ought to not be allowed to do as they please with their bodies. I’d also like to ask them whether they’d prefer to be raped or go into some other line of work. This statement is so fucking insane that I can’t even address it. Only someone who is relatively free from the threat of rape could say something so absolutely ludicrous.”

    It is an inane statement. However, while you’ve not said jack about what people can and cannot do with their bodies, there are plenty of people who feel they can, or absolutely refuse to recognize that what they do with them can be a legit choice made via sound mind, or forever and always make a sport out of speculation on the women who not only do sex work, but enjoy certain types of sexual activity…not for pay or on film or any other such thing. There is always strong agreement on the right of domain a woman has over her body when it comes to abortion, but if she likes porn, or BDSM (even if she’s a lesbian and wants nothing to do with men in porn or kink), suddenly, well, that right is subject to all kinds of speculation and bullshit. I’d also think it would be pretty safe to say that no one, regardless of their job or biological sex, wants to be raped.

  127. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 8:15 PM #

    jerry –

    Going back to Occam’s razor, when your defense is that everyone around you is CRAZY, and you are the only person who SEES the TRUTH, well, …. You’re going to need a lot of extraordinary evidence to sell that stuff to Occam.

    Occam’s Razor? William of Occam died before 1350. A few developments have taken place in the world of science, and in the philosophy of science, since 1350. The Enlightenment comes to mind. In any case, Occam’s Razor doesn’t mean that the simplest explanation is right, but rather the one that makes the fewest assumptions. That some kind of innate human behavior should be congruous with that of one kind of animal rather than another makes more assumptions than I am comfortable with.

    Human behavior is not simple or universal. Kant said, “The variety of beings should not rashly be diminished.” What do you say to that?

    As to radical feminists claiming we’re the only ones who see that everyone else is brainwashed, I guess I’ll have to deal with being lumped in with other radicals people used to think were insane. You know, like abolitionists, suffragettes, secularists.

  128. Trin July 29, 2008 at 8:15 PM #

    Roykay,

    WOW.

    While I actually agree more than I disagree with this:

    “Pornography and prostitution probably make little difference in most women’s lives.”

    and think that some anti-porn women are focusing on a rather small harm of sexism rather than a large one (really, I’m getting frelling TIRED of “but my boyfriend doesn’t like my labia!” Fucking dump him already, then.)

    this here:

    “I will go further and declare that obstructing women’s rights to engage in prostitution and pornography is tantamount to rape. I see no difference between forces her legs together and forcing them apart. It’s still the same invasion of her sexual autonomy”

    is completely fucking disgusting. While I agree that women’s rights should never be curtailed (and I’m not so sure 92 is even disagreeing with THAT, tbh — nobody’s brought up anything like the Mackinnon/Dworkin ordinance or anything else at all so far), I think it’s monstrously naive to claim that that’s just like being forced to have sex. WHAT?

  129. jerry July 29, 2008 at 8:28 PM #

    panoptical, quite a lot of interesting emergent behavior evolves from very simple and seemingly hardwired rules. Check out genetic algorithms and the robots that use those.

    Just arguing that man is complex does not free you from having to prove that behaviors you see are not linked to less complex reasons.

    Yes, kings make rules to favor kings. Very few people, men or women, were kings. For a refresher, I refer you to Dennis the Peasant in the Holy Grail. Similarly, emergent behavior is a better description for what happens in a married relationship than patriarchy.

    My basic stance is this: sexism is real and can be measured. We can agree on measures that describe a society when there is no more sexism. We have lots of descriptions of societies without sexism. Sexism relies on individuals and organizations acting like shit towards other individuals and doesn’t require any sort of conspiracy.

    Patriarchy as used in the women’s studies and not the anthropology department’s sense is mostly bullshit. It is unmeasurable. It is unobservable. No less an expert than Twisty Faster tells us that Patriarchal Oppression is NOT sexism. Feminists don’t refer to sexism as a synonym for patriarchy because they feel the two are not the same.

    But patriarchy cannot be measured. We see almost no descriptions of what a society would look like without patriarchy. We cannot make and measure of patriarchy that does not actually merely measure sexism, a different concept.

    Unlike sexism, we cannot agree on when society has reached a point with no patriarchy.

    Try it. Please do. I’ve asked this question in many places, mainly because I am ignorant, and no one has ever given me any actual answer.

    My conclusion then are that Patriarchy in the womens studies sense is unmeasurable conspiracy theory involving action at a distance and actors (men and women) working against their rational interests. It is a scapegoat. It is YOUR version of an intelligent designer. It’s mostly a way to blame men and to lobby for sexist laws and policies.

    Do people act like assholes? You bet! Do lots of men act like assholes towards women? You bet! Do people have really stupid and ignorant attitudes regarding the behavior of women in their family? You bet!

    Is there an either an overt or covert conspiracy of men (and women) to keep women down? No.

    There are lots of people working on their own in their own interests and yeah, evolving emergent behavior. And some of that emergent behavior is oppressive to women, and some to men, and some to minorities, and some to the poor and some to the rich.

    Circling portions of that emergent behavior and calling it an evil conspiracy of patriarchy is as useful as looking at cloud patterns and deciding that clouds that look like ducks are caused by a conspiracy of water molecules, dust, and sunlight.

    There is sexism. There is no patriarchal conspiracy.

    To prove otherwise please discuss:
    how patriarchy can be measured
    how it is different from sexism
    how we know when we have eliminated it
    And I really am very interested in fiction or non-fictional accounts of our society without patriarchy, especially describing: work, families, monetary transactions, art, sex

  130. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 8:32 PM #

    Anthony Kennerson –

    The difference between we sex-poz radicals (both men and women) and the antiporn “feminists” is in how we would resolve such inequities. They favor censorship and imposition of a narrowly based sexually conservative vision on everyone; we favor greater access to more choices and developing safer environments for such choices.

    Absolutely false. First off, you aren’t going to impugn my credibility as a feminist by putting the word in quotes. I have a much greater claim on that word than you do, simply by dint of my having been born female in this misogynistic world.

    I do not, nor does any other radfem I know of, advocate censorship of any kind, nor would I impose sexual conservatism on anyone (for one thing, I ain’t a sexual conservative). I am for women reaching sexual liberation, but I don’t think the path to that liberation ought to be laid out and defined by men or by misogynistic pornography. I’m all for choice, but I don’t believe that the set of choices women have right now is as free as the set men have.

    That was a blatantly obvious straw man, and I’d like you to confront the fact that it is a wild mischaracterization of radical feminist thought, or at least my own position.

    And as Nina has said consistently, sexual objectification isn’t always that bad in itself.

    Maybe, maybe not. But why is it that it is just women who are the ones who have to decide whether objectification is OK? Women are being objectified in vastly larger numbers than men, and I think it’s because our culture commodifies and defines our sexuality for us, rather than allowing us to do it for ourselves. Men don’t face that to the same degree women do.

    ATTACK THE POVERTY AND THE DRUG ADDICTION AND THE CONDITIONS THAT CAUSED SUCH, NOT THE OCCUPATION. Why should sex work have to be the scapegoat for problems that are so much more universal??

    You’re assuming I’m not doing that. I’ve said before that my goal is to create a world in which women have the kind of social, educational, and economic freedom that would free them from dire poverty and would help them avoid getting involved with drugs/booze/whatever. But, since those problems do exist, I’d like to ask people whether they don’t find it problematic that the sex industry tends to take advantage of the conditions these women find themselves in. That the underlying problem needs to be addressed is a given. I can do two things at once.

    if you believe that “the potential of human sexuality” can be best realized by neutering, slut-shaming, and badgering women into submitting into your particular narrow view of sexuality, then be my guest.

    You know that’s dishonest. There isn’t a single woman on this blog that will tell you I engage in slut-shaming or telling women how to express their sexuality. All I do is ask people to explain things to me that seem odd in my view.

    You are shutting down discussion by mischaracterizing my and others’ position and using hyperbolic rhetoric. Chill out a little bit.

  131. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 8:42 PM #

    jerry – No one is claiming that there is some vast male conspiracy going on. See this post.

  132. jerry July 29, 2008 at 8:55 PM #

    Occam’s Razor? William of Occam died before 1350. A few developments have taken place in the world of science, and in the philosophy of science, since 1350.

    And most of those developments have used Occam’s Razor to flourish as part of their basic philosophy of science.

    In any case, Occam’s Razor doesn’t mean that the simplest explanation is right, but rather the one that makes the fewest assumptions. That some kind of innate human behavior should be congruous with that of one kind of animal rather than another makes more assumptions than I am comfortable with.

    Sure, but you need to compare it with the alternatives. Saying it makes more assumptions than you are comfortable with begs the question (in the correct use of begs the question I think) of the number of assumptions in the theory you support.

    I am also surprised with your statement. I would think that thanks to the shoulders of Rosalind Franklin and many other scientists, one of the most profound developments of the 20th century was how similar we are to the other animals, sharing 96% of our dna with chimpanzees and sharing much of our dna throughout the animal kingdom. I am totally blown away that so many radical feminists seem unwilling to examine the nature side of the nature or nurture argument. It’s one of the reasons I think that it’s not evolutionary psychology you have issues with, it’s with evolution and biology. And why I think evil patriarchal conspiracies make as much sense in describing behavior and culture as intelligent design.

    I am literally stunned when I fall into groups of radical feminists that insist we are not monkeys. Where have I heard that before?

    Regarding the abolitionists, suffragettes, and secularists good luck with that! Don’t forget the creationists, the Michigan Militia, the Black Helicopter crowd, the 9/11 Truthers, the CIA/AIDS hypothesis, and the Apollo landings were faked group. When I see what radical feminist policies have done to family law courtrooms, and when I listen to you explain how it’s all nurture and never nature and damnit we are not monkeys, well I don’t think you’re going to end up with the abolitionists.

    Note to panoptical above: I am deeply ashamed, and truly I am, to point out that evil conspiracy patriarchy theory is not falsifiable. If you want me to put any credence into it, show me that radical feminist patriarchy theory can be falsified.

  133. SnowdropExplodes July 29, 2008 at 8:57 PM #

    * Do you believe that women would participate in sex work if we did not live in an oppressive, misogynistic culture? If so, what would the sex industry look like in a world in which women were seen as possessing the same humanity men do?

    Yes. The sex industry would be a lot smaller, because a lot more people would be getting it for free, without any of the hang-ups that go with the patriarchal or radical-feminist views of sexuality.

    * Do you believe that pornography and prostitution negatively affect some women’s lives (obviously some sex workers suffer abuse, but I am referring to women outside the sex industry here)? If not, why not? If so, does any of the responsibility for that lie with sex workers, or does it lie solely with the producers and pimps? Or somewhere else?

    No. There is no scientific evidence that reliably supports the thesis, and the most that can be said about it is that, where a person already has violent or misogynistic attitudes, then occasionally, pornography might represent the “last straw” – but essentially, people take from porn what they bring to it as far as violence and misogyny are concerned. The problem is not with pornography but with the wider society. Prostitution is a different matter, and it definitely does not affect anyone outside of the sex business, except where jealousy becomes involved.

    * Why aren’t there more men out there arguing for women’s “right” to participate in sex work? What do you make of the fact that very few men call sex work a feminist choice? I’d also be happy to discuss the arguments of men who do make such a claim.

    I make of it that few men are feminists! Patriarchal men would not be keen on having just any woman feeling she could do what she liked sexually; it must be strictly controlled (cf. the way fathers “protect” their daughters jealously). Sex work in which women make their own choices and get paid (thus giving them economic power) is anathema to the patriarchal system. Sex work involving pimps and porn producers is a different matter.

    * Can women like Jenna Jameson be considered feminists for taking leadership roles in the production of pornography? Why or why not? If the answer is yes, how can we reconcile the negative effects pornography has on women’s lives with referring to a producer of mainstream pornography as a feminist?

    Yes, that can be considered feminists, if they go about their business with feminist principles in mind, but equally a woman owning a porn business doesn’t HAVE to be feminist, if she simply operates a business model exactly the same as a misogynistic company. As far as “the negative effects on women’s lives” – I answered that there aren’t any!

    * How can sex work empower individual women when it requires that women submit to being objectified and performing acts for money rather than out of genuine desire to do them?

    Sex work itself is not the empowering part. The choice to do it is what is empowering. And the decision to get paid (and the act of getting paid) also give power to the person. The same can be said of any form of work – I was objectified and performing an act for money, when I was a cleaner (and you can bet I didn’t enjoy it!) but nobody asks whether that was bad for me.

    I reject the premise of the question that women while performing in sex work are necessarily “objectified” by their co-workers. While it may be argued that prostitutes are objectified by their clients, but a large proportion of johns use their paid-for time to talk to the prostitute they’ve hired – which is the antithesis of objectification. A producer of pornography has to be able to get what he wants from a performer, and that requires the same person-to-person skills as in any other job.

    * Alternatively, if one genuinely enjoys something and gets paid for it, does it become a feminist act?

    The “feminist act” is in choosing to perform, without reference to the patriarchal attitudes and without reference to men’s reactions (that is, if you decide to be a sex worker not because you want to get men to like you, or think you are sexy, but because it is what YOU want to do). Enjoying it or not is not a part of the feminist act, it’s a part of doing the job. Everyone has parts of their job that they don’t enjoy, after all!

    * In other words, does feminism exist to advance the cause of women as a whole or for individual women to use as a justification for their personal choices?

    I reject the premise of the question. The underlying assumption here is that for an act to be “feminist” it must “further the cause of feminism”. But in the case of sex work, “feminism” has liberated women and given them the power to make choices. Unfortunately, the legal protections have not kept pace with this, which is why campaigning for sex workers’ rights should be a key feminist issue – o that women exercising their freedom do not have to fear reprisals either from the law or from misogynists.

    * If sex work is a valid, feminist choice for individual women, what are we to make of women who say that their participation in sex work resulted from dire poverty, drug addiction, etc.?

    The key element is “choice”. Someone who does it because they can see no alternative has not made a choice. That’s why one of the key elements of the sex workers’ rights movement is the campaign for there to be far better help for those who do not have other choices, to give them a way out.

    * I see sex work as a reductionist commodification of human sexuality. Do you think that the reduction of sex to a commodity has a negative effect on our ability to explore and express the potential of human sexuality? If not, why not?

    Again, I reject your initial premise. In the modern patriarchal society, sex is treated as a commodity in EVERY aspect of the economy, not just in sex work; but sex work is possibly the example of where this is the least true. This is because in sex work, at some point, the sex is explicit and there is a genuine interaction between two or more human beings (though a purchaser of pornography may not be interacting with any of the performers). This is because in order for sex to be the basis of our patriarchal economy, sex must be limited and artificially made scarce. It is this, and not sex work, that limits human sexuality. Sex work may, in this respect, actually be genuinely feminist in that it can undermine the basis of the patriarchal system.

    * If you’re a sex-positive dude, tell me why. Why are you in such a huff to help women out? And why does it manifest as sex positivism? Why is your desire to help women out limited to arguing for their “right” to serve you sexually?

    I’m sex-positive because I think that men suffer from the patriarchy too, and that in particular, men suffer from the unrealistic expectations with respect to sex and sexuality that are imposed on us. I’m so eager to help women out because I think the fates of men and women are inextricably linked, and that men will not know sexual freedom unless women do too. And, no, my interest in helping women out is not limited to sexual freedom: I’m a feminist and a feminist ally across the board, for the same reasons as those I give specifically for sex-positivity. I believe that the patriarchy oppresses everyone, and that the rising of the women is the rising of EVERYONE, including the men!

  134. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 8:58 PM #

    Saying we are not monkeys now does not equate to saying we did not evolve from them. Come on.

  135. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 9:00 PM #

    I’m tired and I have a post to write. Please talk amongst yourselves.

    Also, I put the comic back up. If you’d like to know why I think it justifiable, see the comments here.

  136. SnowdropExplodes July 29, 2008 at 9:00 PM #

    Pornography has negatively affected my life, and the lives of almost every woman I know. We have to deal with men who have no understanding of female sexuality, we have to deal with men who have been taught that women are nothing but fuck objects, we have to deal with men who have lost any sense of appropriate boundaries after years of wacking off to dehumanizing porn.

    As I said in my other post, I think that men bring those attitudes to porn, they don’t learn those attitudes from porn.

  137. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 9:08 PM #

    I think it goes in both directions.

  138. jerry July 29, 2008 at 9:11 PM #

    jerry – No one is claiming that there is some vast male conspiracy going on. See this post.

    Isn’t that exactly what panoptical (and many many others) claims above?

    Regarding your claim (and many others) that all men use the rapists to keep all women down, I’m honestly just curious: what about the well known and well remarked Lysistrata effects? Doesn’t that form some equally bad evil conspiratorial cabal of matriarchy? You want to control a male? Threaten to withhold sex from the male. You have some bad actors showing you their dicks, and you have other bad actors enticing me with sex or in a committed relationship with me and threatening to withhold sex from me. The common thread: bad actors and no conspiracy is needed.

    I personally prefer to deal with falsifiable theories, and measurable, observable entities. Sexism, racism, anti-semitism, other religious bigotries, ageism, able-ism. I prefer dealing with theories that don’t force me to reject Occam or biology or science.

  139. Nihilunder July 29, 2008 at 9:12 PM #

    @panoptical

    “Men were no longer in charge because God put them in charge – so why were they in charge? There are biological reasons why men have to be in charge and women have to be subservient; why men have to wear trousers and women skirts; why men have to provide financially and women have to raise the children; etc.” These theories can be grouped under the heading “biological determinism.” In order to move beyond this view of men and women – which is still held by many people today – feminists had to come up with some other explanation for the differences between men and women. Social constructionism is that explanation – that gender differences are not determined by biology, but are instead learned behaviors. From these theories we get the idea of sex vs. gender.”

    —Actually, men have had to financially provide for women for most of history out of basic necessity: men are physically stronger, and therefore more qualified to perform the manual labor that has made up most employment, while women, being the only sex to be able to feed a child (before synthetic formula), were needed at home. Also, a pre-industrial society can’t afford to have women die while hunting because of their more limited reproductive capacity. If a man dies in war or the forest, another can simply stand in and do extra work procreating.

    The advent of modern technology, especially that of the past 50 years, has moved these cultural norms closer to obsolescence. However, our brains are still the direct product of millions of years of evolutionary processes that favored aggressive males and nurturing females. Our brains are still what cavemen had, and won’t adapt to the artificial environment anytime soon.

    I agree with you that animal behaviour is not a reliable indicator of how humans should act, but the fact is that, for all our capacity to reason, we are still far closer to monkeys than most people are comfortable admitting. In short, we’re schizophrenic in our impulses. In this context, animal behaviour can indeed be instructive: what you call “patriarchy” is not some conspiracy, or even necessarily wrong; it has been necessary for most societies throughout history.

    That said, modern technology and philosophy presents us with a fantastic opportunity to create something better. Now that productive work is conducted primarily with the mind, women are now on an equal footing and we can finally achieve a sort of balance between the anemic passivity of feminity and the shallow destructiveness of masculinity.

    But demonizing our animal impulses for lust and assuming that different gender roles means hating one of those genders is not going to accomplish this.

  140. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 9:16 PM #

    Jesus Christ, jerry. There is a difference between saying we live in a patriarchy that colors our assumptions and influences our actions and saying that all men get together and plan out how to perpetuate it.

    There are phenomena on in this world that empiricism can’t deal with. For such a scientific dude, I’d think you would know that. It’s a common tactic of the people who have determined our cultural values (one of those values being the belief in the infallibility of “science”) to try to force those who would like to see some change to explain their grievances in terms set by the people in charge.

    Besides, what we’re discussing here fits more in the world of philosophy than science, and philosophers have long ago abandoned empiricism as the sole path to knowledge.

  141. jerry July 29, 2008 at 9:24 PM #

    Saying we are not monkeys now does not equate to saying we did not evolve from them. Come on.

    The creationists are not upset that like monkeys we share hands and feet. The creationists don’t like being told we share brains and behavior because that might mean monkeys have souls.

    This is very very similar to the claims made here.

    Jesus Christ, jerry. There is a difference between saying we live in a patriarchy that colors our assumptions and influences our actions and saying that all men get together and plan out how to perpetuate it.

    Why call it patriarchy? Why not call it “nurture”, “culture”, “social construction?” Why not call it a collaboration between the sexes based on many factors? Why claim it is based apparently on being terrorized with rape? Why claim it emerged based on male actions, and not based on male AND female actions?

    Don’t make it bland. Make it too bland and there’s no need to call it patriarchy. It’s called patriarchy for a reason, and it is reasonable for me to discuss those reasons, their implications, and how it fits in with other theories.

  142. Gayle July 29, 2008 at 9:43 PM #

    “. . . because lots of scientists say the same thing about your conspiracy theories.”

    Link, please! Actually I need two links- one outlining my “conspiracy theories” because I didn’t know I had any and then another to the “scientists” who have debunked me.

    IACB: I’m sure everyone projects to some degree or another. The diff is EP types call their theorizing science.

  143. Gayle July 29, 2008 at 10:01 PM #

    “In any case, Belle has added another particularly *enlightening* cartoon by that cartoonist to her site, in case you had any questions about whether or not she (Elena Streier) is a racist cartoonist. It’s a picture of W. on horseback gunning down an Indian woman–the caption reads, “pursuing terrorists in the Old West.””

    Kristin: Mercury makes you stupid. Now put down that tuna sandwich and go wiki the word “satire.”

  144. m Andrea July 29, 2008 at 10:21 PM #

    Some guy in this thread equated not raping a woman to respect. Let’s go over that.

    When asked to give an example of how you respect a man, most women would probably say “oh I listen to his concerns and take his needs and desires into consideration when I’m making decisions for myself that might adversely impact or intersect his”.

    A man says,” I won’t hold her down and fuck her against her will”. Awesome!!

    Oh, it was Anthony Kennerson.

  145. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 10:28 PM #

    Yeah, he’s pretty awesome.

  146. Kristin July 29, 2008 at 10:46 PM #

    Um, Gayle… So, all this feels very familiar. As with the New Yorker cover of Michelle and Barack Obama: Not successful satire, not fucking funny, not on, and you know… It might behoove all the White Ladies to listen to the WOC who’ve been critiquing this.

    Also, very feminist of you, telling other women they’re “stupid.” Anyway, I’m done. I’ve wasted way too much energy trying to engage you people already.

  147. sparklematrix July 29, 2008 at 10:52 PM #

    Oh yes, and don’t forget ( roy ??) reckons that ‘holding a woman’s legs shut is just the same as forcing them open…It’s all rape’

    Said from a place of pure male privilege – of course.

    Wowsah!

  148. Nine Deuce July 29, 2008 at 11:09 PM #

    Yeah, that one really caught my attention. I’m glad to see some of the sex-positive women in this thread agree that he’s way off base on that. Seriously, only someone who doesn’t have to worry about getting raped could say such a thing.

  149. Iamcuriousblue July 29, 2008 at 11:42 PM #

    Nine Deuce writes:

    “Besides, what we’re discussing here fits more in the world of philosophy than science, and philosophers have long ago abandoned empiricism as the sole path to knowledge.”

    Lame.

    In other words, you don’t actually have to prove your assumptions about behavior, but can simply justify it with arguments derived solely from your own ideology. How you think you’re going to even begin to change the minds of those of us outside of that ideology is beyond me.

    And the thing is, I really think when you’re arguing some of the points that you’ve been arguing, for example, the idea that innate gendered sexual behaviors have been conclusively disproved, or that the majority of sex workers come from backgrounds of sexual abuse, you’re definitely making empirical claims, and its more than a bit of a cop-out to then turn around and say empiricism doesn’t matter.

  150. Sis July 29, 2008 at 11:44 PM #

    Kristin that cartoon just isn’t racist. When you’re on stage and in the lights, the audience is blacked. That’s what the artist is depicting.

    No I’m not a woman of colour. That’s an American term. I’m aboriginal and I don’t see it the way you see it. Sorry. You can’t call this women of colour vs white women.

  151. panoptical July 30, 2008 at 12:05 AM #

    Nihilunder,

    The problem is that the idea of modern gender roles being simply an artifact of male-female specialization in pre-industrial human history ignores the fact that in the animal kingdom male-female specialization tends not to look anything like male-female specialization in humans.

    Also, evolution isn’t quite so simple. Perhaps in a pre-industrial society, women who functioned solely as breeders passed on more genetic material than women who functioned as equals to men. But this would only result in evolution if there were some genetic disposition to function as a breeder, that could then be passed on to offspring – whereas it seems more likely that women who functioned as breeders did so because of social and environmental factors. In other words, I don’t think that women have evolved to be subservient, stay-at-home nurturers.

    So if you say, well, society is organized as a patriarchy out of habit – then yes, that I agree with. The root cause probably was male-female specialization at some level. However, where I draw the line is at the suggestion that this habit has been ingrained biologically, or that this habit is the only habit humanity is capable of. The ev-psych people seem to be making these claims, and that’s what I’m trying to dispute.

  152. Nine Deuce July 30, 2008 at 12:14 AM #

    IACB – Touche, sort of. I meant postivism (as in Comte, not sex positivism) rather than empiricism, but I stand by it anyway. Did you answer the questions? I’ll get to all this, but I have a life. Back later.

  153. L.M. July 30, 2008 at 12:31 AM #

    As for prostitution as a “sacred calling”, I hope nobody meant this.

    I’m sorry if I’m derailing, or if the original comment did not refer to this case, but I would be horrified if child abuse, slavery and economic exploitation is framed as the free expression of spirituality.

    (And it does not make it ok that the girls are nonwhite, and from another country – and some former temple prostitutes are opposed to the practice.)

  154. panoptical July 30, 2008 at 12:32 AM #

    Jerry,

    I’ve never said that patriarchy is an evil conspiracy – in fact, I’m specifically trying to say that it is not.

    There is a difference between patriarchy and sexism. Here’s an example.

    Imagine a nice Christian family in a nice Christian town. They go to church, they pray together, they earnestly try to live up to the ideals of the Bible. When faced with a tough decision they ask, “What would Jesus do?” The father works – good, hard, honest labor. He has a Protestant work ethic. He never shortchanges anyone. The mother is a housewife. She stays at home, cleans, cooks, does the grocery shopping, takes care of the kids. The son plays little league baseball and his room is painted blue. The daughter takes ballet lessons and her room is painted pink.

    There is nothing evil or conspiratorial about this family. They are all happy people. They don’t experience their lives as an example of sexism. Other people in their community don’t see them as sexist. They are probably very nice and very fair and treat others the way they’d want to be treated.

    This family is an excellent example of the patriarchy at work. What makes the father the provider and the mother the nurturer? What makes pink the color of little girls and blue the color of little boys? Why are men supposed to be athletic and tough and women artistic and pretty? Why do we live with these conventions in our society?

    It’s not because some men sat down together in a room and drew up a plan of their ideal society.

    It’s not because in the animal kingdom, boy monkeys like blue and girl monkeys like pink.

    Instead, the interactions between individuals resulted in this scenario.

    If the individuals interacted in different ways, a different scenario would occur.

    The reason we call these conventions social constructs is that they do not seem to follow necessarily from the biology of males and females.

    The reason we call the resultant scenario “patriarchy” is that it seems that the Law of the Father is prevalent at all levels of the scenario. The family worships a male God. The father is the one with the money, and the property, and the economic power to sustain (or not) the family. The father is the one who has final say over issues within the family. The people who will be elected to represent this and other families will be males – will be fathers. These fathers will get together and create laws with the intention of maintaining an orderly, happy, healthy society – and even absent malicious intent, this is still the law of the father, and the men still get to say how it’s gonna be.

    And on a deeper level, the men get more existential satisfaction out of this arrangement.

    And since this scenario is not mandated by God or nature, we could change this scenario simply by teaching men and women to interact in different ways. For some, it may be too late. But the next generation doesn’t have to grow up in a world with these limiting gender roles.

    And you might ask, “well if everyone’s so happy, what’s wrong with the situation?”

    Look at the Bible. Look at the secular laws. What do these things tell us about the relationship between men and women?

    In the Bible it says that if a woman who is engaged is raped within city limits, she should be stoned to death because she did not cry out sufficiently loudly to be heard and rescued. If a woman who is not engaged is raped, she is forced to marry her rapist and forbidden to divorce him, ever.

    In America, if a woman is raped by her partner, our legal system assumes that she gave her consent. If a woman is beaten by her husband it is known as a “domestic dispute.” If a prostitute is raped, she is considered to have deserved it, and the police will not even take her report seriously. If any woman is raped, a man can enter a woman’s outfit and location as evidence of her consent.

    Men have been left in charge for millennia, and have consistently failed to protect women’s fundamental right to self-ownership. This is why we say that the law of the father allows for a culture in which women are the sex class, always and everywhere subject to the possibility of violation by men who are the privileged or dominant class.

    Perhaps if men and women shared equally in the creation and enforcement of laws, men and women would be equally protected by laws. If you want a measure of patriarchy, look at the ruling structures of society and judge whether they favor men or women or whether they are neutral. I think that any objective study would yield the indisputable result that these structures favor men pretty much universally.

  155. Sis July 30, 2008 at 1:21 AM #

    I fully expect the bashers posting here to take their outrage to American Apparel. (next post)

    ND I sure hope you’re not going to let Peter G Werner (aka IACB) pull his sophistry derailing bullshit here.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Mediation_Cabal/Cases/2007-06-25_Melissa_Farley

  156. Nine Deuce July 30, 2008 at 1:25 AM #

    I don’t plan on it, but I’m tired of this discussion for today. Tomorrow I should be up to it again.

  157. Sis July 30, 2008 at 1:30 AM #

    Here’s some bedtime reading:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Iamcuriousblue

  158. Nine Deuce July 30, 2008 at 1:48 AM #

    IACB – Answer my questions, then I’ll answer yours. But for now I’ll say that I am not making the claim that empiricism (really, positivism) has no place. What I am saying is that there are phenomena in this world too complex to be dealt with in such a way (patriarchy, for example). Jerry wants some kind of tangible scale model of patriarchy, and that just isn’t possible.

    panoptical – I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts.

  159. bint alshamsa July 30, 2008 at 2:05 AM #

    Like Donna, I am a NDN woman of color and I DO see the stripper cartoon and the one where the NDN is being shot at as racist. Sis/Pony, since you do not know the artist, how in the world do you know what she was depicting? Have you asked her or do you fancy yourself some sort of mind-reader?

    The idea that something is satire doesn’t mean it isn’t a racist depiction. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

  160. bint alshamsa July 30, 2008 at 2:24 AM #

    Womenspace: “More brilliant analysis, for once from a black/mixed race woman”

    For once? Oh for heaven’s sake, would you please just stop? Do you really have to use your mixed race child to try and prove your point? Speak for yourself and stop trying to use us black/mixed race women to try and bolster your racist ideology.

    I suppose it would probably be useless to point out how the racist implications of your “for once” phrase but…Yeah, there are just as many black/mixed race women with brilliant analyses as there are white women with them. Ugh! Having mixed race offspring does not mean they should be trotted out every time someone of color points out incidences where self-identified radical feminists have done something racist.

  161. jerry July 30, 2008 at 2:33 AM #

    “Besides, what we’re discussing here fits more in the world of philosophy than science, and philosophers have long ago abandoned empiricism as the sole path to knowledge.”

    Lame.

    In other words, you don’t actually have to prove your assumptions about behavior, but can simply justify it with arguments derived solely from your own ideology. How you think you’re going to even begin to change the minds of those of us outside of that ideology is beyond me.

    And the thing is, I really think when you’re arguing some of the points that you’ve been arguing, for example, the idea that innate gendered sexual behaviors have been conclusively disproved, or that the majority of sex workers come from backgrounds of sexual abuse, you’re definitely making empirical claims, and its more than a bit of a cop-out to then turn around and say empiricism doesn’t matter.

    Thanks for catching that IACB, and yes, I cannot agree with you more with your entire statement.

    I think it’s worse than you make out too.

    Biology, evolutionary biology, and even gosh yes, evolutionary psychology are all empirical sciences. It is simply amazing to me to find that anyone who claims that their philosophy experiments overrules empirical science. NineDeuce, can you point me to other radical feminists who would agree with you on that point?

    As Richard Feynman said, “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.”

    I’ve wanted to know for quite sometime, is this sort of anti-science thinking actually taught in women’s studies courses, or does it arise on the internet? I find the belief system so bizarre and clearly at odds with scientific theory that I cannot begin to believe it is taught by ph.ds. And yet, find the beliefs so rampant around feminist blogs, that well I assume some of it must be.

    Scientists and philosophers like Popper, Kuhn and others talk about differing theories of science. But all rely on empirical evidence.

    What is the “theory of science” behind feminist theory? Is it really that empiricism and hard data is no match for philosophical arguments? (Beyond one course in logic, I never took any other courses in Philosophy.)

    ND: at the risk of repeating myself, REALLY? No disrespect, I swear, I wish I could find well sourced feminist academics agreeing with you.

  162. RenegadeEvolution July 30, 2008 at 2:37 AM #

    LM: No, that’s not what I meant. More like this:

    http://www.anthrosource.net/doi/abs/10.1525/ac.1998.9.4.1

  163. Nine Deuce July 30, 2008 at 2:40 AM #

    You are putting a lot of words in my and other feminists’ mouths.

    I said that there are some phenomena that POSITIVISM can’t deal with. Your insistence on empirical evidence for every single phenomenon you are asked to consider is disingenuous in this context. Patriarchy is too broad and multidimensional a concept.

    I am NOT anti-science, and I do not claim any of the things you’ve said I claimed in your last comment.

    Back on topic, please.

  164. Nine Deuce July 30, 2008 at 2:44 AM #

    Actually, fuck that. I’m done with you and IACB. You guys are patronizing and rude, not to mention presumptuous and dishonest in your rhetorical tactics. You’ve barely even touched on the issues in the post, and have instead used my blog as a soapbox from which to vent your disdain for women who dare to disagree with your “wisdom.”

    To all else – stay on topic, avoid condescension, and be civil. I’m happy to continue this conversation, but these two have proven disruptive. Don’t follow their example.

    For people who supposedly want to argue for women’s “right” to this or that, IACB, jerry, and Anthony Kennerman are sure rude to women who disagree with them.

  165. Iamcuriousblue July 30, 2008 at 2:47 AM #

    “Answer my questions, then I’ll answer yours.”

    Which – the questions in your initial post?

    There’s the small problem that I don’t really accept the way you’ve framed a lot of the questions, so if and when I write a post in response, it may not be a point-by-point set of answers, and it might address some other points as well.

  166. Nine Deuce July 30, 2008 at 2:48 AM #

    Then don’t try to hijack my thread.

  167. jerry July 30, 2008 at 2:49 AM #

    I’ll say that I am not making the claim that empiricism (really, positivism) has no place. What I am saying is that there are phenomena in this world too complex to be dealt with in such a way (patriarchy, for example). Jerry wants some kind of tangible scale model of patriarchy, and that just isn’t possible.

    Given the statements in this thread how we are not animals and animal behavior as no influence on us would seem to contradict the empirical evidence of tens of thousands of biologists, or at the least how it answers with a definitive NO a question that many biologists think is interesting and not yet known, why is my asking about the theory behind your theory of reasoning so out of place?

    Why is my “scale model of patriarchy” so wrong, when I can seemingly answer so many of the questions by reverting to simpler theories of animal behavior, sexism, and bad actors?

    Your refutation is “trust us, we’ve got a theory about that, we have no empirical data, and there is no way to test our theory or falsify our theory, but it is our theory” (It sounds like Anne Elk)

    I am not saying my alternatives are correct, I am saying you need to address them and negate them before you can ask people to believe your theories.

  168. Iamcuriousblue July 30, 2008 at 2:49 AM #

    Rude and condescending? Examples please.

    Perhaps you’re just having a hard time coming up with responses to the points I’ve made.

    Anyway, its been fun. If I do post a response on my blog to your rather leading questions, I’ll shoot you a trackback.

  169. Nine Deuce July 30, 2008 at 2:49 AM #

    First of all, you are arguing with me as if I am an amalgamation of all the above posters. I’m not involving myself in the debate you’re in with them, just pointing out things I see that are being ignored or talked around.

  170. jerry July 30, 2008 at 2:50 AM #

    Where have I been rude?

  171. Nine Deuce July 30, 2008 at 2:58 AM #

    Example:

    Lame.

    In other words, you don’t actually have to prove your assumptions about behavior, but can simply justify it with arguments derived solely from your own ideology. How you think you’re going to even begin to change the minds of those of us outside of that ideology is beyond me.

    I am capable of answering anything you want to ask, but I’m not sure that doing so is worth my time or my effort. You don’t seem to be here with any intent of changing your mind about anything. Again, though, I’m not the one engaging in this argument, several other posters are.

    You don’t know what my ideology is. Go read through my posts. There’s empirical evidence aplenty to back them up, and I’ve done fine with convincing people. But, whence do you derive the assumption that it’s my job to convince you that women deserve to be treated like human beings in this society and aren’t?

    Both of you can claim you don’t think patriarchy exists, and that’s fine. We can call it something else: systemic sexism? The Manifold and Multivalent Manifestation of Misogyny (TM)? Whatever. It exists. If you disagree, there isn’t a point to continuing a discussion about the existence of a patriarchy, because you’re too blinded by the privilege it grants you to participate in the exchange.

    As to the nature/nurture debate, I’m fucking tired of it. You two won’t cede anything, no matter how obvious the logic in posts on this thread disagreeing with you (I’m thinking of panoptical especially).

  172. Nine Deuce July 30, 2008 at 3:01 AM #

    You have been condescending and patronizing, something I’ve been strenuously avoiding (way out of character for me). Go back and read through your posts for things like, “gosh…”

    I’m exasperated with this thread for tonight. Remember, I’m arguing with about 40 people here. The end.

  173. panoptical July 30, 2008 at 3:05 AM #

    ND:

    Thanks! Likewise.

    Jerry:

    I’ve avoided snark, sarcasm, and snide comments and engaged your points and answered your questions, and I hope that you’ve gained something from our conversation so far. But I have a question for you: What is your point? I mean, why are you really here? Did you really come here to tell us all that prostitution is great and feminists are lying about rape statistics?

    The point of this whole thread was supposed to be to talk about sex-positive positions. So, imagine that human beings are hard-wired, as you claim, to want to purchase sex for money. I’ll even concede the point, for the moment, that Science tells us that prostitution is as natural as botulism and hemlock. What – if anything – does this insight, given to us by Science, actually tell us about how we ought to live our lives?

    Do you deny the negative effects that prostitution has on women? Because there’s plenty of science to tell us about the PTSD that so many “sex workers” suffer from. Do you deny that human trafficking and the slave trade of women goes on in our world, today? Do you deny that the inundation of the male brain with images of the degradation of women causes males to be more likely to actually participate in such degradation?

    I’m just not sure what the appearance of prostitution in Animalia has to do with any of the concerns that radical feminists have about the effects of prostitution on the prostitutes, the johns, and all of the women in the world.

    No one here is anti-science. Rather, we’re all just sort of going, “yeah, so?”

  174. bint alshamsa July 30, 2008 at 3:18 AM #

    Panoptical:

    What – if anything – does this insight, given to us by Science, actually tell us about how we ought to live our lives?

    It tells us that there is no logical basis for behaving as if sex work is something that can be done away with. It tells us that, in all likelihood, there will always be individuals who will find sex work to be an appealing option even without the evol patriarchy. It tells us that exchanging things for sex is completely natural and nothing inherently shameful or destructive. It tells us that the idea that exchanging things of value for sex probably predates our evolution into homo sapiens. Because prostitution exists in species where there is no proof that objectification occurs, there’s no basis for the idea that one necessarily leads to the other.

    I hope that helps you understand things a bit better.

  175. jerry July 30, 2008 at 3:45 AM #

    “gosh” is now considered rude? Stating my astonishment that science has been done away with and asking you to provide references to others that agree with you is condescending?

    I apologize then — I’ve been trying to be polite.

    Panoptical: “But I have a question for you: What is your point? I mean, why are you really here? ”

    Um, I was invited to answer some questions. I was astonished by what I found were the assumptions behind those questions. I am so astonished I assume I must be wrong about what I think I have been told. I have tried to explain my world view, as informed by my experiences and my understandings of science in an attempt to understand where I have gone so wrong in either understanding science, understanding radical feminism, or understanding philosophy.

    In general I find what I believe to be the philosophy of radical feminism puzzling. I find what I hear are radical feminist theories to be sexist and unscientific. I find the policies it endorses actually harmful and discriminatory.

    This is actually the first time in one of these discussions that I’ve had various rad fems agree that their theories are purposefully unscientific, because empiricism and Occam are just so dead.

    I am still mystified and very curious if this is actually taught in gender studies classes because it would seem to oppose everything since the enlightenment.

    In actuality, I’ve considered myself a feminist since the early 70s and I’m trying to figure out where we branched apart. But the 70s feminism I was taught and familiar with was very empirical and science oriented — that is how we knew that women and men were equal.

    Even now, most of the engineers and scientists I am familiar with due all they/we can to encourage and mentor young women and yet, I think most of us would be stunned to find that radical feminism considers the question of nature vs. nurture solved, and empiricism dead, and Occam besides the point.

    And the danger comes when we consider how the Catherine MacKinnons and other radical feminists write laws and formulate policy. Laws and policy that are apparently not scientifically based and that seem to be sexist and discriminatory on their face.

    So I find this thread truly enlightening and with all respect to ND, I only wish I knew how representative of radical feminist thought it is.

    panoptical, I hope that helps.

  176. Trin July 30, 2008 at 3:48 AM #

    “The problem with the commodification of sexuality is that it’s women’s sexuality that’s being objectified and commodified.”

    I actually agree with this — that’s one of the critiques I have of mainstream porn and of sex work too. I just don’t think it makes any sense to campaign for their abolition, or to center one’s feminism around them. Particularly when doing so very often means slipping into the kinds of opinions depicted in the cartoon (and I don’t mean the race issue here) — thinking that a certain subset of sex workers: is stupid, all feel “empowerfull’d” even in skeevy situation, don’t have mixed feelings about their jobs, don’t have reasons to be leery of anti-pornstitution feminists, can’t tell when their clients are creeps, are deluded, possibly are abused, on and on and on. Yuck. People should just feed THAT strawperson to their horses already.

    And there’s also the fact that, well, under patriarchy, women in ANY job are going to have it worse, as well as be the ones expected to take on the work considered most unsavory.

    “But I’d say it was a problem in any case, because despite the existence of women who enjoy sex work, the vast majority of women, even those who do engage in sex work, do not want to have sex with people they are not attracted to for money. Nor do men, though they don’t have to consider it to the same degree women do.”

    I know it’s probably a broken record question to you at this point, but why does the fact that someone wouldn’t want work if she didn’t have to do it count against that work? I mean, there’s plenty of jobs I’d take right now that I wouldn’t otherwise want to have. Hell, in Utopia, “jobs” as they exist now would probably not even exist at all. So why aren’t we saying the same things about that?

    “It’s a limited set of options that women are offered in this society, and I truly believe that if we had real equality (or, better, liberty), women would not be as likely to identify with men’s misogynistic fantasies, and women would be less likely to be willing to sell their sexuality.”

    I do think that women would be less likely to identify with fantasies that demean them (or, even more commonly, just plain ignore them). I also think people who only go into sex work because they see it as their only option wouldn’t.

    But I’m not convinced it would remain the kind of last resort it is for women in a truly fair society. I’m not sure it would be such a shitty job for so many, if people really were less invested in sexualized anger, hatred, and dominance of the demeaning sort. And I think people would be less invested in those things in Utopia, because well, we’re sort of presupposing that when we say it’s Utopia anyway.

    (Though I’m not so sure it’s productive to talk about Utopia, really, rather than what people need right now…)

  177. Nine Deuce July 30, 2008 at 3:52 AM #

    This is actually the first time in one of these discussions that I’ve had various rad fems agree that their theories are purposefully unscientific, because empiricism and Occam are just so dead.

    Try again. You are completely mischaracterizing what has been said.

    No one is teaching anyone or telling anyone that empiricism is worthless. READ WHAT I SAID. Positivism has been deemed insufficient to deal with some parts of human experience by many thinkers within all disciplines in academia. Philosophers, historians, anthropologists, hard scientists of all stripes. STOP CLAIMING THAT WE ARE ANTI-SCIENCE OR THAT WE ARE PURPOSELY ANTI-SCIENTIFIC. NO ONE HAS SAID THAT. I don’t think you are stupid, and I don’t think you don’t understand what I am saying. But am I to assume that you are being purposefully dishonest?

    Occam has been expanded upon, modified, qualified, rebutted. Are you refusing to move beyond the Enlightenment? Empiricism is fine, but there are things that cannot be empirically measured. Tell me, how would I go about proving the existence of a patriarchy, empirically?

    I find what I hear are radical feminist theories to be sexist and unscientific. I find the policies it endorses actually harmful and discriminatory.

    What do you actually know of the “sexist” and “unscientific” theories you are discussing? Be specific. Did it ever occur to you that the worlds of science and law in western culture are intertwined with patriarchy? Dominant forces determine cultural values. You are a member of the privileged group, and hence find its values useful in protecting your own position. I’m not saying that science is not valid, that empiricism is to be thrown out, but rather that the assumption that positivist “science” is infallible and the only source of knowledge is to be questioned. You are operating from the base position that modern (I do not mean that in a qualitative, but rather a temporal, sense) western (AKA white male) values are inherently “right.” Flex your head.

  178. jerry July 30, 2008 at 3:54 AM #

    bint alshamsa, thank you so much! Very well said and much better said than anything I got out.

  179. bint alshamsa July 30, 2008 at 4:22 AM #

    No problem, Jerry! It would be nice if everyone received a decent science education so that we could get beyond the silly assumptions that people make about animal behavior and what science can and can not show us.

    The idea that someone could say “yeah, so?” and think that science is not extremely relevant to a discussion about animal behavior is just…sad, to say the least.

  180. Nine Deuce July 30, 2008 at 4:23 AM #

    No one said science isn’t relevant. You guys need to learn to read. Either that or you need to learn to be honest in your representation of other people’s positions.

  181. bint alshamsa July 30, 2008 at 4:46 AM #

    Nine Deuce,

    Did it ever occur to you that the worlds of science and law in western culture are intertwined with patriarchy? Dominant forces determine cultural values. You are a member of the privileged group, and hence find its values useful in protecting your own position. I’m not saying that science is not valid, that empiricism is to be thrown out, but rather that the assumption that positivist “science” is infallible and the only source of knowledge is to be questioned.

    Is there any proof that science is intertwined with patriarchy? If we’re going to consider the idea, what basis is there for it? The thing is, science doesn’t belong to men any more than it belongs to women. It is not a western thing or an eastern thing. It doesn’t belong to anyone. It simply is.

  182. bint alshamsa July 30, 2008 at 4:48 AM #

    For one, I’m not a guy. I am a woman. Secondly, if you think that I need to read, perhaps it’s something we should ALL engage in because I did not claim that anyone SAID science isn’t relevant. Can you be honest about that?

  183. Nine Deuce July 30, 2008 at 5:00 AM #

    Sorry, you said we “think” science isn’t relevant. Way to split hairs.

    Whence does science spring? If it “just is,” why did it take so long for us to find it? And who found it? European dudes. What did the precise measurement and quantification of science allow hasten? Industrial capitalism. What does industrial capitalism’s continued existence rely on? The entire world’s accession to the idea that science is supreme, that it is the only form of knowledge that is worthwhile, true, and useful.

    Science has been used for centuries to justify women’s oppression, the oppression of non-whites by Europeans, genocide, etc. How is science, as a source of knowledge, not intertwined with power (patriarchy being a power structure)? Cultures assign values to things based on who it is that’s running things. Meaning, the “true” source of knowledge is defined by those in power. It’s basic 60s social theory. Go read some Foucault. (God, did I say that?)

    I’m not saying science is irrelevant or even that it isn’t the best route to knowledge. What I’m saying is that it cannot be the only source of knowledge, or else we’re limiting ourselves. To refuse to consider anything that can’t be deduced from sensory perception is limiting. To limit ourselves to considering phenomena that can be empirically measured would destroy almost all higher conceptual thinking. COME ON!

    In any case, this discussion has gotten ridiculous and has nil to do with the original post. Everything that needs to be said about this issue has been said. IACB, jerry, and bint alshamsa, good day.

  184. bint alshamsa July 30, 2008 at 5:14 AM #

    Apology accepted for the mischaracterization. By the way, I’m still not a guy.

    All human behavior is interwined with science (e.g. patriarchal behavior, feminist behavior, et cetera) inasmuch as science can be used to describe what occurs. However, is it any MORE intertwined with patriarchy than it is with other systems? I don’t see any proof of that.

    Cultures assign values to things based on who it is that’s running things. Meaning, the “true” source of knowledge is defined by those in power.

    No, that’s not quite right. Everyone defines what’s the “true” source of knowledge, not just those in power. You define it. I define it. Those in oppressor classes define it. Those in marginalized groups define it.

    Go read some Foucault. (God, did I say that?)

    Now that’s funny! Are you really seriously asking me to go and read what some white guy says in order to try and back up what you’re saying? Either women should see white males as good authorities on what’s “true” or they aren’t. Which position are you taking? Or were you simply trying to poke fun at yourself in some way?

    I’m not saying science is irrelevant or even that it isn’t the best route to knowledge. What I’m saying is that it cannot be the only source of knowledge, or else we’re limiting ourselves.

    I agree with that completely. Personally, I think we should consider many different sources. That’s why I think it would be foolish for people to exclude science because they believe it to be something that belongs to men since it doesn’t.

  185. bint alshamsa July 30, 2008 at 5:23 AM #

    Nine Deuce

    Whence does science spring? If it “just is,” why did it take so long for us to find it? And who found it? European dudes. What did the precise measurement and quantification of science allow hasten? Industrial capitalism. What does industrial capitalism’s continued existence rely on? The entire world’s accession to the idea that science is supreme, that it is the only form of knowledge that is worthwhile, true, and useful.

    European dudes found science? Uh, no. Science has existed longer than European culture has been in existence. “We” (homo sapiens) have been using science for thousands of years, at least. This is one of the things that’s problematic about “radical feminism”; it’s based on so many eurocentric ideas that it’s always going to bump heads with what the majority of the world experiences. Do you know where the term “algebra” came from? Do you know who performed the first brain surgeries? Do you know which cultures produced the first scientific manuals? Here’s a clue: It didn’t come from European dudes.

    Also, where is the proof that the whole world believes that science is supreme and that it is the only knowledge that is worthwhile et cetera? When I look at the world, I see a place that is riddled with unscientific concepts that people cling to as if their life depended on it. If you were right, then why do we see so many religion-based conflicts? Why do we see so many self-destructive systems being allowed to flourish? If people truly thought that science was the only thing that was useful, why would philosophy exist?

  186. Nine Deuce July 30, 2008 at 5:36 AM #

    I didn’t apologize. You need to acknowledge your own mischaracterizations.

    Science, in the sense that jerry is referring to it, is a European product. It’s an Enlightenment product, to be exact. I am more aware than you have any way of knowing that plenty of discoveries and technological advances took place outside of modern Europe. Anyone making the opposite assumption would be foolish. But before the eighteenth century, we were still in the realm of technology, worldwide. I have studied the history of science and technology for a long time, both in the western and Asian traditions, and you aren’t going to school me on this.

    As for Foucault, I’d be a goddamed idiot if I wrote off every white dude because he was a white dude. I am just saying that we ought to examine the sources and possible biases of all of our assumptions about the source of knowledge. He wrote a lot about that. I don’t particularly like Foucault, but that idea is present in a lot of his work.

    We might define the true source of knowledge for ourselves, but our definitions are heavily influenced by forces that exist before we develop critical thinking ability.

    No one has said anything about excluding science. Other posters have QUESTIONED some science, but no one has advocated excluding anything, unless it proves shoddily conceived.

    You are off topic and boorish. Goodbye.

  187. Nebulous July 30, 2008 at 6:07 AM #

    Do you believe that women would participate in sex work if we did not live in an oppressive, misogynistic culture? If so, what would the sex industry look like in a world in which women were seen as possessing the same humanity men do?

    Prostitution would probably be mostly gone, because my understanding is that people hire prostitutes more frequently to buy power over someone than specifically to have sex. This would be especially true in this oppression-free society wher,e one presumes, willing partners would be easier to come by. Prnography, on the other hand, would definitely continue to exist is a bewildering array fo forms, as would some types of sex workers, like doms.

    Do you believe that pornography and prostitution negatively affect some women’s lives (obviously some sex workers suffer abuse, but I am referring to women outside the sex industry here)? If not, why not? If so, does any of the responsibility for that lie with sex workers, or does it lie solely with the producers and pimps? Or somewhere else?
    Why aren’t there more men out there arguing for women’s “right” to participate in sex work? What do you make of the fact that very few men call sex work a feminist choice? I’d also be happy to discuss the arguments of men who do make such a claim.

    I’m sure some adult women are mistreated by porn addicts or porn abusers, just as some women–and men– are mistreated by alcoholics and druggies. There’s also, fo course, the question of the effect porn has on its female consumers. However, I feel that it is the stigmatization of porn that makes it danerous. A 15-year-old trawling the web for porn can get into all kinds of trouble. Imagine if, instead, screened, degradation-free porn were left somewhere accessible by parents or libraries? Stigmatizing porn erodes our ability to control it.

    Can women like Jenna Jameson be considered feminists for taking leadership roles in the production of pornography? Why or why not? If the answer is yes, how can we reconcile the negative effects pornography has on women’s lives with referring to a producer of mainstream pornography as a feminist?

    I certainly wouldn’t say that a woman in a position of power is a feminist simply by virtue of that power. Phyllis Schlafly is not a feminist. A female porn director should be judged the way any artists is judged, by their work.

    How can sex work empower individual women when it requires that women submit to being objectified and performing acts for money rather than out of genuine desire to do them?
    Alternatively, if one genuinely enjoys something and gets paid for it, does it become a feminist act?
    In other words, does feminism exist to advance the cause of women as a whole or for individual women to use as a justification for their personal choices?

    Feminism exists to provide women with more freedom and opportunity. This necessarily includes the freedom to do things which are not feminist. Those things aren’t necessarily antifeminist either, they can simply be orthogonal. Given freedom, women, like men, will pursue a host or personal goals and ambitions that may not have anything to do with restructuring society for the benefit of toher women. But that’s okay–women becoming managers, mathematicians, sex workers, novelists, or basketball stars, rather than feminist activists aren’t traitors to feminism, they’re the purpose of feminism.

    As for sex work, “sex work” in the abstract does not “require” anything. Individual sex workers cover an enormous scale from illegally trafficked streetwalkers who have no choice whatsoever, to the handful of porn actresses wealthy enough to only do scenes they personally want to do.

    Sex work in practice tends to play out in a variety of coercive ways, as a result of preexisting power imbalances. However, were Jewel Staite to offer me $1000 to sleep with her would not erase my preexisting desire to do so. Full-time sex workers, of course, can’t usually do only thigns thye want to– but what full-time worker can?

    If sex work is a valid, feminist choice for individual women, what are we to make of women who say that their participation in sex work resulted from their dire poverty, drug addiction, etc. being exploited by pimps and porn producers?

    There is no contradiction. Some sex workers have chosen their careers because they enjoy them, others have been coerced. Therefore, some need to help escaping and some don’t. Incidentally, “empowering” doesn’t necessarily mean that the work is 100$ fun, only that it provides them with more power. Maybe we should have a talk about the “empowering” lifestlye of a McDonald’s Fry Cook.

    I see sex work as a reductionist commodification of human sexuality. Do you think that the reduction of sex to a commodity has a negative effect on our ability to explore and express the potential of human sexuality? If not, why not?

    Honestly, I don’t think so. First of all, the question just of what you mean by “reductionistic” and how you deal with thigns like GFE, long-term clients, etc. would be interesting to unpack. However, I’d say that the clients of sex workers must logically fall into 3 categories: Either they are unable to obtain sex partners without paying, so they aren’t going to be “exploring the potential” anyway, they have other partners, in which case either they are CHEATERS or the sex workers are part of how they and their partners “explore that potential” or they have specific desires or fetishes which they can’t get without paying. Sometimes this is because the desires are unethical or misogynistic. But even in a postfeminist utopia where misogyny and oppression had vanished, I would imagine some people would be desire thigns–especially complicated group activites–that would be difficult to arrange without greasing a few palms. I think there’s a grey area between people who are fascinated by something and would od it for free, and those who find the prospect repugnant.

    If you’re a sex-positive dude, tell me why. Why are you in such a huff to help women out? And why does it manifest as sex positivism? Why is your desire to help women out limited to arguing for their “right” to serve you sexually?

    I started as a rad-fem, actually. I came over (partway anyway) to the sex-poz camp because of the way I see sex workers mistrated by radfems. So no, I’m about more than sexual service. And even on that topic, I also defend the right of women to serve wome, or employ men, etc., etc.

  188. Nine Deuce July 30, 2008 at 6:32 AM #

    bint alshamsa – How, exactly, have you determined that I’m white?

    And did you really think it was honest to completely ignore such a large part of what I had to say?

    How about this, if you don’t like my bringing up Foucault (he was an asshole, I’ll admit): the ancient Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi, through the use of parables, warned us not to exhaust ourselves seeking knowledge. He said that we, as human beings, can only know what limited human perception allows us to know. We see ourselves as the central actor in every exchange we have, and so even human experience is completely irrelevant as a source of knowledge beyond the one doing the experiencing. As such, all knowledge is relative, and we should not exhaust ourselves by chasing after that which is endless (knowledge) with that which is finite (our ability to know). He would laugh his ass off at your fairly uncritical acceptance of the “truth” of science.

    You’re boorish because you do not engage in discussions civilly, honestly, or fairly. You pick and choose what to address, leaving out the most salient parts of what I’ve had to say, you mischaracterize my and others’ stances, and you are insulting.

    Good day, once again.

    This thread is officially closed to people who want to discuss science and/or the philosophy thereof, unless it’s DIRECTLY related to the first question in the post.

  189. SnowdropExplodes July 30, 2008 at 11:34 AM #

    Jerry:

    You do realise that, philosophically, in this debate you’re actually arguing against the beliefs of no less vaunted an evolutionary biologist than Richard Dawkins?

    Dawkins has, on the subject of human behaviour and human ethics, repeatedly explained and justified his view that humans have advanced to the point where we are not driven by animal urges, but are capable of shaping our own responses based on other criteria. That is, what is “natural” is no longer “inevitable” or “necessary”, and certainly is no longer what is “right”. What this means is that claims concerning evolutionary psychology actually tell us nothing about what is right, necessary or even about how humans got to where we are today. The high-level reasoning and consciousness that humans possess means that it’s all irrelevant. As I say, these ideas are expressed by no less a figure that Richard Dawkins.

    If we want to talk about sex work and where it comes from, biology is not going to give us the answer; if we want to talk about the patriarchy and where it comes from, then we need to recognise that any biological basis for it is long buried in the past and does no reflect what we see in the present day (except, perhaps, the physical differences in strength and physique).

    Prostitution will continue as long as there are people who cannot (for whatever reason) find a sexual partner any other way, and there are also people who (for whatever reason) are willing to accept payment in exchange for providing sexual services. Pornography will continue in one form or another as long as there are people who find pleasure in images of sexual conduct, and there are people willing to appear in those images (whether in exchange for money or not). Stripping will continue as long as there are people who are eager to watch, and also people who are willing to perform.

    None of these conditions is dependent upon biology or evolution – they are issues of economics and psychology (not evolutionary, though!) The question then becomes one of whether it is guaranteed in a feminist society that all people who want sex will be able to get it with a partner without paying (which raises a question of coercion); whether there will be no such thing as exhibitionism; whether people will cease to be attracted to (images of) the naked human body. Even if it is suggested that most people would change in this way, I do not believe it can ever be argued that the bell-curve of human sexuality would alter so drastically as to exclude these things entirely.

    However, in a feminist society we could expect that sex work would be safe, that sex workers would have no reason to fear rape, violence, or the law. That the law instead would serve to place the sex worker in a position of control and in a position of being able to leave and enter any other field of work at any time. These conditions, coincidentally, are what sex-positive feminists and sex worker rights activists are campaigning for, with respect to the sex industry.

  190. Maggie Hays July 30, 2008 at 1:45 PM #

    Nine, I enjoyed reading your responses to AK & other dudes. Well said! :)

    I’m sorry that you had to put up with all this MRA/pro-porn bullshit.

    It was still a great post you wrote. Truly challenging indeed.

    And it shows how much the ‘sex poz’ men wanna protect their patriarchal misogynistic status quo at all costs. Sad, sad, sad… but part of this thread also proves some of our rad fem points in many ways…

    (((Big Hugs to You, Nine)))

    I hope you’re alright. :)

  191. Nine Deuce July 30, 2008 at 4:23 PM #

    Maggie and Heart – Thanks. I’ve gotten a little irritated here and there, but I think the whole thing has been a net good experience. I’ve learned a few things and I’ve definitely strengthened my own arguments.

    I’ve enjoyed talking with belle, Trin, Ren, Djiril, and a few others, because they seemed to actually want to engage in fruitful dialogue. I also appreciated and enjoyed reading the comments by a lot of the radical feminists who participated.

    I do think I’m done with this, though, unless someone new enters the discussion with something fresh and/or thoughtful to say.

  192. Nine Deuce July 30, 2008 at 4:57 PM #

    Has anyone noticed anything weird about this thread? I’ll give you a hint: a lot of people missed the point.

    I wasn’t asking for men to come to my site. I was asking women who identify as sex positive why it was that they were out arguing for their right to do sex work and men weren’t. That was the entire thrust of the first part of the post. And there was only one question in the whole list aimed at men. It’s funny, no? They just assumed someone was asking for their dudely opinions, as did almost everyone who came to discuss things.

  193. Betty Boondoggle July 30, 2008 at 5:19 PM #

    Nine Deuce – excellent piece. You exposed the privilege, dishonesty and misogyny inherent in these arguments nicely.

  194. RenegadeEvolution July 30, 2008 at 5:24 PM #

    Maggie: Oh ffs, ND asked questions, and MOST people replied and engaged most civilly with her. And I don’t think ANYONE commenting here i.d.’s as an MRA. Jesus.

    [Edited, as the deleted portion is a response to a comment that was meant to be private. My bad.]

    ND: I think the title of the post threw people off, with regards to whom you were asking, but yeah, all the BS aside, there was some good conversation here…hell, I’m thrilled to see your position on decrim, as keeping things illegal helps no one for a wide variety of reasons.

  195. Maggie Hays July 30, 2008 at 6:05 PM #

    I agree with what Heart said and I wonder where her comment is? I can’t see it anymore, Nine? :? What’s goin’ on? Where is Heart’s comment?

    As for the ‘civil’, it only happens on our radfem blogs (them being ‘civil’, not on theirs, where they trash us with their empty slurs). FFS, indeed!

  196. Maggie Hays July 30, 2008 at 6:07 PM #

    They just assumed someone was asking for their dudely opinions

    “it shows how much the ’sex poz’ men wanna protect their patriarchal misogynistic status quo at all costs.” WORTH REPEATING, I was talking about the men here.

  197. Nine Deuce July 30, 2008 at 6:14 PM #

    Heart told me she had meant for it to be private, so I deleted it, as well as the response. It was my mistake.

  198. Maggie Hays July 30, 2008 at 6:20 PM #

    Okay, Nine. ;)

    And I was talking about the pro-porn men & their MRA-like ‘entitlement’ here when I said ‘MRA’, worth pointing out.

  199. Gayle July 30, 2008 at 6:27 PM #

    “And it shows how much the ’sex poz’ men wanna protect their patriarchal misogynistic status quo at all costs. Sad, sad, sad……”

    Yep.

    “And I don’t think ANYONE commenting here i.d.’s as an MRA. Jesus.”

    They don’t have to ID themselves as such. Their comments are dripping with MRA, and other equally misogynistic, propaganda. To say nothing of the tone they chose to take with ND and Panoptical, two women who tried to have a respectful conversation even after fielding unprovoked insults. On ND’s own blog, no less.

    Nice.

  200. Maggie Hays July 30, 2008 at 6:35 PM #

    Thanks Gayle. :)

  201. figleaf July 30, 2008 at 7:20 PM #

    Hi 9-2,

    I think I’m really late to the party here (I stumbled in following a link to a comment) but it seems to me that a good metric would be that you can’t be a sex-positive man unless you also support radical feminism. There aren’t a lot of those so there aren’t a lot of sex-positive men.

    The key seems to be confusing “sex positive” with “pro sex” as in Frictions belief that men are “sex-positive by cultural default.” A trivial counterexample to the claim would be Sen. Larry Craig who is “pro sex” but not sex positive.

    As for prostitution I think it’s perfectly possible outside the dominant paradigm, and possible within the ethical guidelines that define “sex positive.” But as long as anyone, provider or customer or onlooker, continues to believe “with prostitution you’re not paying for the sex, you’re paying her to go away afterwards” then claims that it’s intrinsically sex-positive lack foundation.

    Finally, about your point there being more women than men trying to define, flex, or manifest sex-positive sexuality? Well, first of all I think sex-positivity developed directly out of radical feminism’s establishment of legal and social consent and sexual autonomy and added mainly the then-radical idea that women’s heterosexual agency was independent of men’s. Therefore it makes sense that women (who, being human and all, actually *are* agents rather than subjects of sexuality) would be more ready to get it, and get it on sex-positive terms, than men who are still, for the most part, resisting anything to do with feminism. (Resisting, by the way, because Mary Daley said something mean three decades ago and ZOMG!!!! it must be true about *all* feminism which, you know, hasn’t changed a bit since 1977.)

    I think that bit about agency explains the seeming contradiction that people keep banging up against and why women keep asking “how is it different when women try to control what we do instead of men?”

    And to make sense of that I think the best approach is to look at the debate, for a moment, from men’s perspective: the dominant paradigm for men is that women have no *intrinsic* interest in sex (“madonnas”) except for a dysfunctional subset who do (“whores” who have sex for money and, even worse, “sluts” who’ll just “give it away.”) From that male perspective “good” women are supposed to withhold sex until men earn it by somehow proving themselves “worthy.” The 3rd-wave innovation was the observation that there’s no room in that men’s-eye view for women to enjoy sex because they *enjoy sex* and not for some other extrinsic reason. Like rewarding men. (Remember, inside the dominant paradigm sex is always and only about men.) So. Still looking at things from the male perspective along come unfairly-designated “separatist” feminists who *agree with men* that women should “hold out” and not “give away sex” unless and until men “earn” it. I’m not saying *you* see it that way, I’m just saying it *looks* that way to outsiders. Now here’s the third part: both real and nominal third-wave feminists are aggravated when men discount their choices to be sexual or when they mistakenly believe the sex they’re having is all about them… and they’re pretty obviously apoplectic — as you’ve no doubt noticed — when other women appear to *agree with the men* that women have no agency and therefore sex, heterosexual sex, is all and only about men.

    See the trap? “2nd-wave” feminists see “3rd-wave” feminists as supporting men’s madonna/whore view of the world, “3rd-wave” feminists see “2nd-wave” feminists as… supporting men’s madonna/whore view of the world! And meanwhile all too many men see are… mostly more madonnas and whores.

    So. I don’t know if that answers your questions but it’s my attempt at a) being a man who b) stands up for sex-positive principles and c) thinks there’s a reason why those principles would be more frequently articulated by women than men. Oh yeah, and d) who thinks that explains why men even though can be sex-positive we’re in no way “‘sex positive’ by cultural default.”

    figleaf

  202. RenegadeEvolution July 30, 2008 at 8:37 PM #

    maggie- plenty of us would be civil elsewhere if given the opportunity and not constantly mocked for not sharing the same view…however, most of us have been around long enough to know better or learn different, so yeah, we’ve become bitter…and sure enough, if we can’t (even in a civil way) express our dissent on, oh, say, your blog, then you can bet, if it rubs us the wrong way bad enough, we will do so on our own…where we can be just as mean about it as oh…you are?

    Just sayin’.

  203. Maggie Hays July 30, 2008 at 9:14 PM #

    if we can’t (even in a civil way) express our dissent on, oh, say, your blog, then you can bet, if it rubs us the wrong way bad enough, we will do so on our own…

    Ren- I have heard pro-porn arguments most of my life from ex-boyfriends & ex-boyfriends, so I have had enough. I’ve heard ‘em all. Pro-porn arguments are triggering to me and others who have been harmed by pornography. Thus, my website/blogging job is to provide a safe space for women readers who have been harmed by or in pornstitution.

    Nine has more patience than me with pro-porn comments, and I congratulate her on that one. I find some pro-porn arguments very triggering (i.e. reminding me of my ex-partners) and also trying to silence the message I try to put across about the HARMS of pornography & prostitution.

    Providing safe spaces for anti-porn women & radical feminists who want to educate women and other people on the harms of the ‘sex’ industry is paramount on my sites. And I’ve already explained that=

    here:

    http://maggiehaysagainstporn.blogspot.com/2008/03/to-those-who-whine-about-being-censored.html

    and there:

    http://maggiehaysagainstporn.blogspot.com/2008/03/rad-fem.html

    where we can be just as mean about it as oh…you are?

    Mean, huh? I don’t think so, Ren. I write fiercely against pornography and the sexual exploitation of women with all my anger and, yeah, sometimes rage & dissent at pro-porners (for defending such woman-destroying & woman-hating industries). As I believe that the ‘sex’ industry is patriarchal and misogynistic.

    Just sayin’.

  204. figleaf July 30, 2008 at 11:19 PM #

    Oh and dang it all, looking (again late) at your next post I should have been more clear that *perception* of slut-shaming isn’t the same thing as actual slut shaming. On the other hand *somebody* out there is calling women names like “funfeminists” and it’s not Phyllis Schlaffley.

    figleaf

  205. J.Goff July 31, 2008 at 12:29 AM #

    Aaand….since Witchy-Woo seems to think I am a sex-positive feminist, I will repeat what I said over at Ren’s place:

    Um….I would not consider myself a “sex-positive dude” as defined by these people. I am no fan of porn, nor am I a user of porn, nor do i think it is a feminist enterprise. My thinking, in this area, has manifested itself as a desire for socialist upheaval in the porn industry in the form of radical change in the power structure of pornographic enterprises and complete union control of the production, etc of said pornography.

    The only real way I can see that I am different from radical feminist ideology in this area is that I do not agree that pornography, in itself, degrades women, by virtue of their form, their bodies, and their images being sexualized. If that is degrading, then sex, in and of itself, is degrading, in all forms. And that is something that make absolutely no sense.

    Though, I do find it exceedingly hilarious that, by virtue of the fact that I don’t think RenEv or any of the *gasp* “sex-positive” people are the Devil, I am thus also “sex-positive”, though, no one ever seems to have any definition of that except stereotypes and straw-men.

  206. Nine Deuce July 31, 2008 at 12:37 AM #

    Not bad, Goff. I’m still of the opinion that we have no way of knowing whether porn would even exist in a non-patriarchal world, but if I can’t find out for certain, I suppose I’d rather at least see what you’re talking about happen than continue as things are.

    I never said anyone’s the devil, however.

    I think I’d like to point out to everyone that I am not really referring to Ren or any other blogger when I say that I’ve heard people make the claim that sex work is a feminist act. You hear it a lot form burlesque performers and from some porn producers, which is still a point of contention for me, of course. My entire point here, though some have taken it to be me being an asshole, was truly, honestly, to get answers to questions I had. I honestly would like to understand the sex-positive viewpoint, and I’ve come across a few mental obstacles as I’ve thought about it, hence my questions and this entire post/thread.

  207. J.Goff July 31, 2008 at 12:51 AM #

    I should have been more descriptive in my post. I came here as a result of Witchy’s thread, where she calls me out in the title, using an illiterate representation of my name in the title as an attempt to score a point against me, or something. I can’t really tell with Witchy, anymore.

  208. Roy Kay July 31, 2008 at 2:23 AM #

    Nine Deuce

    >Alright, everyone. I’m back and I’m going to try to get to everything.

    I gotta admit some admiration for your diligence.

    >Are you for liberating women from sexual assault, or just from restraints on their occupational rights?

    I am for liberating people from all kinds of assaults. Whether a guy goes into “the wrong bar” and gets punched out or a women goes into “the wrong bar” and gets rape; I am opposed to both and I am opposed to the dismissive selection of one over the other. Violence is violence. However, that is no cause for censorship, nor for the criminalization of sexwork. The responsibility, readily discharged by one and all, is to not go around beating on or raping people.

    >Are you for liberating women from bearing the bulk of responsibility for childcare and house work?

    I see this as an issue that is resolved best by those who have formed the family. Clearly the model of Stay At Home Parent is open to critique, but then so is every other domestic arrangement.

    >Are you out asking people to bring back the ERA for a vote?

    No, but I think it is a great idea. I think the state convention boycotts should have been locked in place after the last defeat and those states that opposed it should have had the onus on them to restart the process.

    >As of now, the only kind of sex work that isn’t legal is prostitution (if it’s not being filmed), and I’d agree that it should be decriminalized.

    Well, film producers are subject to prosecution too. Actually, anyone is subject to prosecution for “obscenity” – which roughly means “being offensive to community standards”.

    >But I’m also a women’s-libber, rather than an equality feminist, meaning, I don’t want us to get to be the same as men. I want us to be liberated from the idea that being like men is the ultimate goal. I want women to be human, too, and to get to decide for ourselves what and who we want to be.

    I’m all for both men and women being human. This will naturally entail variations in sexual expression depending on libido and inclination. Some women and men will delight in multiple partners and things like sexualized pain and d/s; others will be asexual; and the majority will be somewhere in the middle.

    >For me, that includes defining our own sexuality, which we are not at liberty to do in a culture in which sex is defined by men and in which women are used as objects by men.

    Actually, as near as I can tell you are at such liberty and have taken charge in a manner pleasing to you. Yeah, maybe – maybe – you wear lipstick when you thinks it’s a pretty dumb idea (I know I never tasted a lipstick I liked). I have trouble thinking of you as a prisoner of my particular tastes. If so, I am hugely impressed with my power.

    >Don’t lump me in with right-wingers. I have never tried to tell women what to do with their bodies and never would.

    Good. I’m surprise but pleased. Uh, maybe I shouldn’t be pleased, because that might be interpreted as a patriarchal effort at control. (Got a cheat sheet on this?)

    >I’ve always approached this from the standpoint that it’s consumers that are the problem, not sex workers. If men didn’t feel entitled to the use of women’s bodies, demand would dry up and the industry would shrivel.

    If you have to pay for it, that rather a confession that you aren’t entitled to it. You get charged rent by the proprietor and you have to accept those terms. The same whether you want to employ a sexworker, fiddler, masseur or any other trade that involves using their body.

    >That is not the same as me shaming sex workers the way right-wingers do. See, they want to control women’s sexuality to protect their privileged access to and ownership over it. We aren’t bedfellows. We aren’t even in the same neighborhood.

    The right wingers want to force women to conform with their theology and ideology, just like any other theologian or ideologue who advance a privilege. The right-wingers include women (Coulter, Malkin, Shafley(sp?) and others), but mostly for interdictions inherent in their chastity/monogamy/progeny paradigm. If you reject their paradigm as well, and reject any paradigm that interdicts men’s and women’s free expression of sexuality, then you are probably a lot closer to my neighborhood. (We can now sing a chorus, where we point to each other during the refrain “There goes the neighborhood.”)

    >I want women’s sexuality freed from men’s sexuality.

    I want everyone’s sexuality freed from everyone else’s sexuality. I don’t want either men or women dictating to you or me what is the approved socially conscious way to appreciate our sexuality. To be sure, we will each be in some measure a creature of our culture. To be sure, one beneficial aspect of that culture (for the nonce) is the encouragement to independent thought and evaluation – freedom of conscience.

    >>An inept woman is a poor partner and a silenced woman is a poor partner.

    >I agree, but how about we push for women’s financial and social equality for women’s sake?

    That is another good idea! However, business involves some requirement that we form partnerships of some sort. If women wish to exclusively partner with women, and men with men, that is their right. Still, talent and acumen are found everywhere, and anyone cutting out half the partnership pool on general principles is serving neither themselves nor anyone else.

    >Do you really think it’s opprobrium that’s keeping women from paying for sex? … That concept seems absurd to most people if you replace the woman with a man.

    The cultural assumption is that any woman can get laid for free if she wanted to, so there must be something really wrong with her if she has to pay for it. This is why women paying seems absurd.

    >I think it the consumption of sex industry products highlights a way of looking at people that is problematic. Our culture has commodified female sexuality to a much greater extent than it has male sexuality. It is almost ethically acceptable in the main to rent a woman’s body.

    The only reason people have a problem with renting a man’s body is that they assume it would be another man doing so and they think that’s yucky. Fortunately fewer and fewer people are anti-GLBTQ these days. We have a ways to go, but we will, in the main, get there. Ideally we will get over our aversion to women and renters too.

    >Pornography and prostitution probably make little difference in most women’s lives. Under a fully liberated society it would improve women’s lives.

    Utter nonsense. Pornography has negatively affected my life, and the lives of almost every woman I know. We have to deal with men who have no understanding of female sexuality, we have to deal with men who have been taught that women are nothing but fuck objects, we have to deal with men who have lost any sense of appropriate boundaries after years of wacking off to dehumanizing porn.

    Having seen some RadFem posts, I would say that there are a number of women with no understanding of men’s sexuality. If they think I see women as commodities, which they do, they are in great error. The best approach to both errors is the best approach to all cultural paradigms. Tell the world to eat shit and quit prescribing it one-true-ways of regarding everyone else. I’m not all that thrilled with being represented as a “patriarchal object” either, but I don’t say we should ban women’s studies.

    >Not to mention the fact that we often find ourselves dealing with men in positions of authority who watch degrading porn and see us as less than human.

    People who see others as less than human don’t need porn. Bibles work well to that end, as do Korans, as do the fantasy that one is rightly a dictator over the proletariat, or member of a master race. Everyone deals with authority figures, both men and women, with delusions of superiority. That is one good reason to dispose with delegating authority in general.

    >You can say men compartmentalize … and maybe you do, but they all don’t, and degrading porn wouldn’t exist if there were no misogynistic men creating demand for it.

    Almost tautological. There would be no degrading media at all if there wasn’t a market for it. Most political speech is designed to degrade one side or another. Polemical speech isn’t far behind. I have been a right wing libertarian for a long long time. I still remember the implication that I wanted to blow up that little girl picking daisies in the field from 1964.

    >(a problematic concept in and of itself — isn’t talking about compartmentalizing just another way of saying you have a Madonna/whore complex?),

    Nope. Not here. I have a whore/whore complex. I like partners as slutty as myself. Madonnas need not apply.

    >>The ethos of sexual autonomy remaining with the individual woman, not controlled by the state nor others in society, but hers to employ as she so desires, whether for profit, pleasure or both, positively affects women, by encouraging a general respect for their autonomy and agency.

    Again, no one is arguing for restricting women’s legal or social rights to decide what to do with their bodies. That’s a straw man.

    No one? Uh, I’m willing to believe that you aren’t arguing for restrictions (including interdicting their customers), but no one?

    > I’m a feminist. I’m all for women determining their own destinies. But that doesn’t mean I can’t call attention to the fact that our society limits their options.

    I concur that society limits options, sometimes by law, sometimes by pressure. It does that to everyone.

    >>I will go further and declare that obstructing women’s rights to engage in prostitution and pornography is tantamount to rape. I see no difference between forces her legs together and forcing them apart. It’s still the same invasion of her sexual autonomy

    >Un-FUCKING-believable. I’d like to ask any female sex worker to tell me whether they think I’m telling them they ought to not be allowed to do as they please with their bodies.

    Cool. You apparently aren’t a RadFem then. My error in perception.

    >I’d also like to ask them whether they’d prefer to be raped or go into some other line of work.

    The question is would they like total autonomy or not. A parallel question would be “Would you rather have people trying to kill you or not? Okay, since you don’t want people trying to kill you don’t run for President of the US.”

  209. Nine Deuce July 31, 2008 at 2:32 AM #

    Sorry, but I am a radical feminist. You are mischaracterizing radical feminism. One of the things I’ve learned through this exercise is that a lot of people seem to think radical feminists are all about banning this, criminalizing that, telling sex workers what to do. That isn’t radical, it’s regressive, and that isn’t what radical feminists are about. And not only that, but it wouldn’t do any good. What’s radical is changing the FOUNDATIONS of the system in which sex work exists. That’s the definition of radical. Meaning: recreating society in such a way that there is no patriarchy, reforming our cultural attitudes and values. In a society without patriarchy, the demand for sex work would either a) disappear, or b) look so different from what it looks like now that it’d be unrecognizable. It’s uncomfortable ideological territory, and it’s very difficult to discuss since we’ve always lived in a patriarchy, but it’s nonetheless my goal. I don’t go in for Band-Aids. I’m for a patriarchendectomy (coinage!).

    Eliminating demand, that’s radical. Punishing women? That’s shit men do.

  210. panoptical July 31, 2008 at 2:34 AM #

    (Nine, sorry if this strays too far into the sciencey discussion; I’ll understand if you mod it.)

    bint alshamsa:

    “It tells us that there is no logical basis for behaving as if sex work is something that can be done away with.”

    I could be mistaken, but I thought I had made it clear in my comments that patriarchy is what we are trying to do away with. Once patriarchy is gone, sex work isn’t so much of a problem – and there might not even be any sex work.

    “It tells us that, in all likelihood, there will always be individuals who will find sex work to be an appealing option even without the evol patriarchy.”

    See, here’s where the science is okay but the logic breaks down. Are you claiming that every behavior found anywhere in the animal kingdom will also find expression within humanity? Will there always be people who find eating their young an appealing option?

    “It tells us that exchanging things for sex is completely natural and nothing inherently shameful or destructive.”

    The monkey study tells us that when monkeys are taught to use currency they trade it for sex. It doesn’t say that monkeys trade items of value for sex in the wild – in fact, it doesn’t say anything about the way monkeys who have not been trained as capitalists behave. You are interpreting the evidence far too broadly.

    In addition, the effect of the prostitution on the monkeys was not studied, which means that we don’t know if it was destructive or not.

    In addition, just because something occurs in nature does not mean that it is not shameful or destructive. Shameful and/or destructive behaviors that occur in nature include rape, incest, murder, cannibalism, etc etc. Monkeys also throw their own feces when agitated. Anyone who thinks that just because monkeys do something it is therefore okay for humans to do that thing is a fool.

    “It tells us that the idea that exchanging things of value for sex probably predates our evolution into homo sapiens.”

    Really? Who would have been around before that evolution to teach us to use currency?

    “Because prostitution exists in species where there is no proof that objectification occurs, there’s no basis for the idea that one necessarily leads to the other.”

    Repeat after me: Absence of proof does not constitute proof of absence.

    How do we know that monkeys don’t objectify other monkeys? And are you saying that it would be universally okay for men to treat women the way male monkeys treat female monkeys – in other words, like animals?

    And frankly, objectification is the least of our worries about the sex industry. The fact that violent porn measurably increases its viewers’ tendencies towards violence, for instance. Or the rape, abuse, pedophilia, and human slavery that go on in the sex “industry.”

    “I hope that helps you understand things a bit better.”

    Actually, it did. I think you said it best: “It would be nice if everyone received a decent science education so that we could get beyond the silly assumptions that people make about animal behavior and what science can and can not show us.” And I’d throw some classes on deductive reasoning into the pot just for good measure.

  211. Nine Deuce July 31, 2008 at 2:41 AM #

    panoptical – I stopped the thread because I was tired of the condescension coating almost every word of her posts. It had gotten impossible to discuss anything. But anyway, your post goes back to the part of the discussion in which the science was germane to the post, so no worries.

  212. womensspace July 31, 2008 at 4:41 AM #

    Exactly right, Nine Deuce, and I’m glad you wrote what you did, radfems are not about or interested in censorship, bannings, anything like that. I am personally in favor of decriminalizing prostitution and always have been. I have never been in favor of anything like an obscenity law approach to pornography or prostitution. It’s as you say, we are interested in revolution, a complete reordering of male heterosupremacy. Most of us are really anarchists, anarchafeminists, not interested in governments regulating sexuality, given that governments are, themselves, patriarchal and male heterosupremacist and do not care about women. It seems like we have to make this point over and over and over because we are constantly mischaracterized as wanting bannings and censorship and I have never met a radical feminist who wanted these things.

    Jack Goff, it’s surprising but good to hear you do not use porn, advocate for it, or think it’s feminist. I didn’t know that. It’s always good to encounter anti-pornography men.

  213. Nine Deuce July 31, 2008 at 4:50 AM #

    Thanks, Heart.

    I do want to add, though, that being for decriminalization does not mean that I think porn producers or pimps ought to get a free pass on abusing women. I suppose I didn’t need to say that.

  214. Maggie Hays July 31, 2008 at 4:58 AM #

    I do want to add, though, that being for decriminalization does not mean that I think porn producers or pimps ought to get a free pass on abusing women.

    Nine, I think Heart meant she’s in favor of Sweden’s law instead, that decriminalizes prostitutes but criminalizes johns, pimps & traffickers.

    That’s what she meant (I think)…

  215. Nine Deuce July 31, 2008 at 5:04 AM #

    I think it is too. I just meant I wanted to add that to what I said to Goff.

  216. J.Goff July 31, 2008 at 6:28 AM #

    Well, I can, in someways, give you a hypothetical from my own experience:

    I have created porn (only pictures of the two of us naked) with one of my partners before. It only involved the two of us, and we two only had access to the photos. Were we two horrendous pornographers, on par with Larry Flynt?

    Answer truthfully, because your dedicated hangers-on may judge you negatively for your answer. They’ve called me a misogynist pornographer, and a sexist, because of the “evil’ I have participated in.

  217. J.Goff July 31, 2008 at 6:50 AM #

    I would simply like to here say that the approval of a transphobe means nothing to me. My own hatred of pornography has nothing to do with you, Heart. Never address me again.

  218. figleaf July 31, 2008 at 7:51 AM #

    “In a society without patriarchy, the demand for sex work would either a) disappear, or b) look so different from what it looks like now that it’d be unrecognizable.”

    That’s the important part. A good counterexample nobody but me ever seems to mention is that for at least 200o years, until the late 19th or early 20th Century, doctors treated women for “hysteria” by massaging their pelvises till they had “hysterical paroxysms,” a.k.a. orgasms. According to Rachel Maines (the first chapter of her book is “the job nobody wanted”) this treatment accounted for more than half of some doctor’s practices and income. Which incontestibly means through most of history physicians were sex workers and yet they weren’t scorned, snubbed, or disproportionately serially murdered. Nor, for that matter, were they evangelized, prosecuted, or perpetually reformed. They were regulated, yes, but by and large they wrote the regulations and by and large they wrote them for their own benefit.

    Which means the problem isn’t sex work per se, it’s… ta-da… patriarchy! And/or the social construction of gender wherein what men do is right and what women do is wrong.

    And the incongruity suggest the solution is… ta-da… the radical feminist goals of dismantling constructed gender and seeking equality of power for all humans and not just equal “respect” or equal pay or equal “opportunity” for women.

    If we had that then as you say we might have sex workers, sure, but, for instance, their real purpose wouldn’t be so men could short-circuit their alienated idea that having sex is a reward for male *accomplishment.*

    (Oh yeah, another reason I like radical feminism? The radical proposition that it doesn’t just benefit women!)

    figleaf

  219. womensspace July 31, 2008 at 11:09 AM #

    Yeah, I meant I am in favor of the Swedish model, sorry to not be clear.

  220. Betty Boondoggle July 31, 2008 at 1:40 PM #

    “One of the things I’ve learned through this exercise is that a lot of people seem to think radical feminists are all about banning this, criminalizing that, telling sex workers what to do. That isn’t radical, it’s regressive, and that isn’t what radical feminists are about.”

    Totally. Mutliple times now, I’ve been accused of all sorts of weird things, with absolutely no basis, other than the alleged actions of radical feminists that aren’t me.

    So, for the record:

    My (birth) mother was a prostitute (under coersion) who was raped and utlimately killed by a john. I’ve help the remains of sex workers out of dumpsters, ditches, trunks and shallow graves (I was a cop in a rough city briefly).

    So, it’s deeply appalling, insulting and, frankly, cruel, to be accused of wanting to punish sex workers, or sex-poses for thinking differently (doubly so when those accusations come from self-declared johns). Or being accused of wanting to “save” everyone from that which they do willingly. That’s not it. Safety, security, freedom from exploitation and oppression – that’s what I want. For all of us. That means, whatever the choice made, I want to help make it a safe one.

    And tearing down patriarchy is the only way to ensure it.

    “Eliminating demand, that’s radical. Punishing women? That’s shit men do.”

    Thank you for that. I guess a *am* a radical feminist, after all.

  221. delphyne July 31, 2008 at 2:09 PM #

    Goff used to make pornography of his girlfriend so he’s being somewhat disingenuous when he tries to pretend he’s anti-porn. What he reckoned made him different from Hugh Hefner was that he didn’t airbrush the pictures. He gave her the photos back and apparently doesn’t do it any more but really should men get any kind of brownie points for being anti-porn? Goff has spent a lot of time attacking anti-porn and radical feminists on the internet. I don’t see him as supporting women’s liberation, more pushing his own agenda whatever that may be. I’ve got a feeling he’s a BDSMer as well but I’m sure he’ll correct me if I’m wrong.

    That’s what all this is really about BTW. Almost all the pro-pornies are BDSMers. The abuse of women in porn is pretty similar to the abuse of women in BDSM, so if you’re into BDSM you’re going to be very upset when people point out the abuse of women in porn is wrong because you might have to consider your own activities.

  222. Nine Deuce July 31, 2008 at 3:26 PM #

    Nebulous – Asking people reasonable questions about points in their stances that confuse me isn’t “decrying” them. For my efforts to dry up demand, see pretty much every single thing I’ve written about porn.

    I don’t think I want to discuss Goff’s personal life. I’d rather stick to theoretical issues. But, I will say to Goff that I deleted his “transphobe” comment because I’m tired of people throwing wild accusations around on my site. I’ll not have people dismissed as “racists” or “transphobes” or “fascists” without evidence. As to delphyne’s comment, it does jaundice me a bit with regard to Goff’s anti-porn cred. But I’ll stick to people’s arguments.

    Heart – I knew what you meant, I just wanted to add that to my previous description of my position. I wanted to make sure that when I said I was for decrminialization that didn’t mean I wanted producers and pimps to get a free pass to hurt and exploit women. I feel like I have to be careful, as people seem to be all about mischaracterizing my position this week.

    Betty – I am very glad you posted your story. It’s things like that that really show people how skewed people’s perceptions of radical feminism are and what we’re really about. Thanks.

  223. Nine Deuce July 31, 2008 at 3:35 PM #

    I want to say this to jerry, if he’s still here:

    I think Occam AND Lenin would explain the existence of males fighting for women’s right to participate in sex work with the simplest explanation, one that we can find by asking who benefits.

    Just sayin’.

  224. panoptical July 31, 2008 at 4:06 PM #

    A few observations about this thread:

    1. People who are very tied to the privilege provided to them by the current social order are very uncomfortable with being confronted with evidence that not everyone shares their privilege. (I clearly remember a time when this was true of me – when my own problems seemed so big to me that it was inconceivable to me that someone might consider me privileged for any reason, and when I was simply unequipped to come to terms with the idea that I might be a participant in some of the most terrible things that go on in the world. It took me a long time to get over this. Reading Twisty’s FAQ helped.)

    I think that’s why we see discussions in feminist blogs derailed so often. Notice how the Sciencists engaged with our comments only to the extent that they dealt with science. Although virtually every one of my comments either asked about or described the effects of sex work on real human beings, and specifically the female ones, not one of the opposing comments even acknowledged that these issues had been brought up.

    2. Aside from my first comment answering ND’s questions, all of my comments in this thread have been with one of two goals: one, to point out faulty logic and/or reasoning, or two, to explain the definition of widely understood feminist concepts (social construction, patriarchy) to people who did not seem to understand them.

    What disturbs me is that although I discussed only science, logic, and feminism 101, over the course of the thread I began to be labeled a radical feminist. (Apparently it is quite radical to even put forth the proposition that men ought not to treat women like animals.) I find this disturbing not because I object to the characterization, but because in the process of choosing to understand me as a radical feminist commenter, people stopped interpreting the discussion as being about what was *true* and started interpreting it as being about what “radical feminists” think. This process results in a disingenuous argument, because it separates the ideas being labeled as radfem from even the possibility of being interpreted as true. Notice again the correlated processes of refusing to consider theories that can be simply dismissed as “radical” and refusing to acknowledge that women are harmed by porn/prostitution in our society. I can also point to the shift in perception from “person” to “radfem” as the point when jerry et al. stopped trying to convince me of anything and started posturing, creating strawfem arguments, and insulting my intelligence.

    Conclusion: People separate the topics they are comfortable with from the topics they are not comfortable with. The topics they are comfortable with, they defend to the death. The topics they are uncomfortable with, they ignore, mock, and/or deride.

    (Jerry et al. could scarcely type “patriarchy” without adding mocking, belittling modifiers like “evil,” “unseen,” “conspiratorial,” “of the menz,” etc., meant to ward against the potential that someone might read what they wrote without understanding that they dispute the very existence of the patriarchy, like a lawyer who knows his client is guilty saying “allegedly” when describing his client’s criminal actions.)

    The topics that people are comfortable with become the only acceptable sources of knowledge; everything else is “spooky.” The topics that people are not comfortable with are labeled and thereby dismissed out of hand. It’s a sort of cognitive Othering.

    Because of this process, I have to wonder if it is even possible to change some people’s minds with words.

  225. Betty Boondoggle July 31, 2008 at 5:16 PM #

    “I don’t see him as supporting women’s liberation, more pushing his own agenda whatever that may be.”

    I have to disagree with this. Not only because we, all of us, have things in our pasts that don’t reflect the people we are today, but also because Jack is a vocal and strong ally at Shakesville. I consider him a feminist and an ally.

    __

    “I am very glad you posted your story. It’s things like that that really show people how skewed people’s perceptions of radical feminism are and what we’re really about. Thanks.”

    FTR, I don’t expect to be heard. Meaning, I expect that those who think I’m out to shame or censor them will continue to think that. But, I wanted it on record that thats not what it is. I don’t want any woman shamed. I don’t want any woman stiffled. I do want us safe. And that’s just not the reality for the vast majority of sex workers.

  226. SnowdropExplodes July 31, 2008 at 5:58 PM #

    What’s radical is changing the FOUNDATIONS of the system in which sex work exists. That’s the definition of radical. Meaning: recreating society in such a way that there is no patriarchy, reforming our cultural attitudes and values. In a society without patriarchy, the demand for sex work would either a) disappear, or b) look so different from what it looks like now that it’d be unrecognizable.

    I totally agree withthis definition of “radical”. However, when it comes to “radical feminism”, far too many self-dentifying “radical feminists” do seem to be in favour of banning stuff, telling women what they can or can’t do, insisting that women who don’t conform to certain rules of sexuality are delusional, etc. So if radical feminism means something else, then someone needs to explain that to those feminists.

    My own take is found here.

    Probably the highlight is this passage: “a ‘sex-positive feminist’ is someone who specifically listens to women’s experiences of their own sexuality, and takes that expression seriously and accepts it (NB ‘sex-positive’, it should be observed, only qualifies feminism in one area, feminism is broader than being just a theory of sexuality!). A sex-positive activist wishes for the world to be more sex-positive, and does something to achieve this wish. I’ll leave the reader to put together ‘sex-positive feminist activist’ for themselves…” (My take on radical feminism occurs later in the piece).

    As for, “…the demand for sex work would either a) disappear, or b) look so different from what it looks like now that it’d be unrecognizable.” I refer you to the remarks I made earlier in this thread:

    “The sex industry would be a lot smaller, because a lot more people would be getting it for free, without any of the hang-ups that go with the patriarchal or radical-feminist views of sexuality.”

    “Prostitution will continue as long as there are people who cannot (for whatever reason) find a sexual partner any other way, and there are also people who (for whatever reason) are willing to accept payment in exchange for providing sexual services. Pornography will continue in one form or another as long as there are people who find pleasure in images of sexual conduct, and there are people willing to appear in those images (whether in exchange for money or not). Stripping will continue as long as there are people who are eager to watch, and also people who are willing to perform

    The question then becomes one of whether it is guaranteed in a feminist society that all people who want sex will be able to get it with a partner without paying (which raises a question of coercion); whether there will be no such thing as exhibitionism; whether people will cease to be attracted to (images of) the naked human body. Even if it is suggested that most people would change in this way, I do not believe it can ever be argued that the bell-curve of human sexuality would alter so drastically as to exclude these things entirely.”

    Thus, to be opposed to sex-work, or to believe that it would cease to exist in a post-patriarchal society, I think is a sex-negative attitude (because it appears to assume that people do not want to have sex for its own sake, and it also assumes that if they DO want to have sex, then they don’t want to share).

    What will change is the implication of those clauses, “for whatever reason”. In a post-patriarchal world, we can hope that that “whatever reason” will no longer include coercion, drug addiction, the socially-induced impression that one’s sole value is as eye-candy, and the rest of it. But just because the causes will be fewer, and less harmful, it does not mean that there will be no cause. Because, the fact is, people are exhibitionists. People do sometimes just happen to like sharing their bodies, and getting paid is a bonus. People do like doing all this stuff, and have a whale of a time doing so, and some of them like to share that enjoyment. So, I question the assumption that things would be all that different.

  227. J.Goff July 31, 2008 at 8:00 PM #

    As to delphyne’s comment, it does jaundice me a bit with regard to Goff’s anti-porn cred. But I’ll stick to people’s arguments.

    I do not ask for “anti-porn” cred. Nor do I ask that you consider me an ally. Judge me by what I do. I take Betty’s statement as affirming, and I wish to make sure that I never cause her to regret it.

    I am sorry for my earlier comment which you had to delete. I will no longer comment here.

  228. Betty Boondoggle July 31, 2008 at 9:13 PM #

    ” far too many self-dentifying “radical feminists” do seem to be in favour of banning stuff, telling women what they can or can’t do, insisting that women who don’t conform to certain rules of sexuality are delusional, etc”

    Far to many by whose estimation? Yours? Apologies, but a biased opinion does not equal fact.

    ” to be opposed to sex-work, or to believe that it would cease to exist in a post-patriarchal society, I think is a sex-negative attitude (because it appears to assume that people do not want to have sex for its own sake, and it also assumes that if they DO want to have sex, then they don’t want to share).”

    In what way is sex work sex “for its own sake”, in what way is sex work “sharing sex”. Sex for its own sake wouldn’t need coercion, exploitation, etc. “Sharing sex” would require both parties to want to be there. For a small percentage of sex workers this is the case – not the vast majority. But we only ever seem to have permission to talk about the privileged minority.

    To think that there’s anyone who thinks that people don’t want to have sex, or share it – whatever that’s supposed to mean – is absurd. Being against sex work, or thinking it wouldn’t exist in a post-patriarchial world simply means that we don’t think human beings should be bought or sold and that, sans patriarchy’s heirarchies and confines, such a thing wouldn’t be an issue.

  229. Sis July 31, 2008 at 10:11 PM #

    Sometimes I’m having trouble figuring out who’s saying what. I mean, I’m pretty sure, but not completely. I don’t know all these posters.

    Jack Goff’s an anti-porn dude now? I think this must be a mistake, perhaps arising from the quote technique I’m complaining about?

  230. Sis July 31, 2008 at 10:23 PM #

    Ok, I missed Delphyne’s post and had to do a name search.

    I (being one of those hammered by Goff along with Delphyne, his primary target) absolutely agree with her assessment in this. Goff’s posts are pro-porn, pro-BDSM and anti feminist. And that’s not that his posts IMPLY that, but that he didactly states that.

  231. Nine Deuce July 31, 2008 at 11:05 PM #

    Alright, Goff is out.

  232. Nine Deuce August 1, 2008 at 12:11 AM #

    bint – I didn’t dismiss you or “invalidate” you because you’re a woman of color. Ask some of the other women of color who come to this site if that’s common practice. I’m sure you’ll be told it’s not.

    You were, like jerry, hijacking my thread and being rude to myself and other commenters in the process. Your last comment to panoptical is a perfect example. If you want to claim that you treat everyone as if they are at least as intelligent as you are, you can’t make snide comments and expect them to go unnoticed. I’m done approving comments from people who are only here to be disruptive, condescending, and rude.

    Why are you participating in this thread? Is it because you want to exchange ideas with other women, or because you want to prove that you’re right? If it’s the latter, no thanks. My blog doesn’t exist to serve your ego.

  233. bint alshamsa August 1, 2008 at 12:26 AM #

    I’m participating in this thread because I care about womankind. I’m participating in it because I have loved ones who have engaged in sex work and I’ve seen both the positive and the negative aspects of it.

    Throughout this thread I have agreed with some of what other women have said and I’ve disagreed with some of it too. However, how I’ve stated my agreement gets overlooked. While you’re saying that we should examine everything and the possible sources of what we see with regards to sex work, it seems as if some are unwilling to do the same when women of color state how racist and sexist this cartoon is and how it perpetuates racist stereotypes of people of color and stereotypes about women who engage in sex work.

    This hijacking business seems a bit baffling. Panoptical asked a question and it was a subject that I knew something about so I responded. I didn’t come in here introducing new information. I simply discussed what was already in the conversation.

    If you actually read what I wrote, you’d see that I didn’t claim that you are invalidating my womanhood because I am a woman of color. I pointed out how the invalidation of the views of women of color is occurring in this thread and throughout this entire conversation. Even the “angry black woman” stereotype is being reinforced. Look at how the differences in conversational styles get interpreted. How do you account for that? In a discussion between women from many different cultures about the patriarchy, do you really expect for everyone to have the same sort of speech style? If so, why? Isn’t that the hegemonist patriarchy at work?

    Ego really has nothing to do with this on my end. If it was, I’d have exited the second you called me a guy and refused to acknowledge me as a woman thus perpetuating the idea of women of color as “less than woman” or “un-women”.

  234. Nine Deuce August 1, 2008 at 12:38 AM #

    Everyone’s agreements get overlooked. Once two people have agreed, why would they continue to discuss something? No one in this thread is acknowledging anyone’s agreements, but rather addressing points of contention.

    The cartoon is no longer here. I have examined and examined it. But it has nothing to do with this thread, since it is not here. If you want to talk about the comic, do it at Heart’s or Witchy’s place where it is posted. It was completely tertiary to the post, and hence I removed it because I didn’t want it to derail the discussion. As such, this is the last time I will address it.

    I’d have exited the second you called me a guy and refused to acknowledge me as a woman thus perpetuating the idea of women of color as “less than woman” or “un-women”.

    That is just absurd. Of course I know you’re a woman. I do realize that the colloquialism “you guys” has an element of the assumption that the default human identity is male. But it does not in any way mean I’m implying that women of color are less than woman. I take the colloquialism back, but I’ll not agree that it had that implication. I’d have used that colloquialism with any group of people out of habit.

    I pointed out how the invalidation of the views of women of color is occurring in this thread and throughout this entire conversation. Even the “angry black woman” stereotype is being reinforced. Look at how the differences in conversational styles get interpreted. How do you account for that?

    Where is that occurring? In the discussion of the comic?

    Discuss away, just stay on topic. I’m done with the science argument, because one side seems absolutely certain that human behavior ought to be reducible to that of other animals, while the other finds that absurd (I fall with that group). There’s nothing left to discuss on that end, and there’s certainly no point in any of us going further and further into the realms of critical theory and the philosophy of science. It’s too removed from the concrete that we’re trying to discuss here.

    If you want to talk about the facets of sex positive and radical feminism being raised here, go ahead. That’s what the thread is for.

  235. Sis August 1, 2008 at 3:34 AM #

    I don’t know if you’ll allow this comment Nine because it’s slightly tangent, but maybe not; but something Bint is saying is making me really angry. She does NOT speak for all women who are not white. I am so sick of U.S. women of colour oppression and imperialism over all other non-white women. You do not speak for all other non-white women. I find you far more oppressive and negating of my non-white right to opinion than most of the other women in this thread, or whom I’ve seen blogging in racist discussions. The hubris!

  236. bint alshamsa August 1, 2008 at 6:35 AM #

    Sis, I have NEVER claimed to speak for all women who are not white. My comments were in reference to women of color which, I believe, you have stated you do not identify yourself as being.

    If you look at this thread, it was you who claimed to be speaking for other women when you claimed that the cartoon was not racist. Perhaps it didn’t seem racist TO YOU but you simply don’t have the authority to decide what is and isn’t racist for the rest of us. You just don’t. You don’t have that right any more than I do. All we can say with authority is how we feel and how those who have spoken to us say they feel.

    What if I said that “U.S. women of colour” do not oppress you? From where I am, in terms of power and physical location, could I really know for sure that I (and the groups that you feel I belong to) are not actually oppressing you? I don’t think so. That’s what privilege does; it blinds people to the effects of their actions. Also, the fact that we belong to different cultures also affects what we are likely to notice or feel in a given situation or interaction.

    I would hope that if you’re going to say that I’m oppressing you and engaging in imperialism, that you would explain how this is so in order for me to understand what in the world you are referring to. Otherwise, it does no good to accuse me at all because the same situations will keep on cropping up. Now if that’s not something you care about, then that’s fine. However, if you’re seeking dialogue and you’re really trying to tell me something, then explaining why you say/feel something is the only way make that happen.

    Likewise, it does no good for you to make a determination about something that you aren’t experiencing and then attempt to invalidate the views of those experiencing it, especially when you do not and can not represent that group. Quite frankly, you don’t have the authority to do that even though you claim it by trying to definitely state that something is or isn’t racist. That seems like a great deal of hubris to me! It also mimics the same behavior of men who try to tell women that they can’t possibly be correct when we say that something seems misogynistic to us. Is that the way that your vision of feminism is supposed to work?

    It is impossible for me to negate your right to have an opinion. Nothing that I say or right could determine or affect whether you have this right or not. Furthermore, I am of the opinion that every woman should feel entitled to speak her mind and do so unapologetically. I WANT to hear what other women say even when I vehemently disagree with them. So, ya’ know, if I have said something that left you feeling like I don’t think you should be able to speak up here or anywhere else, then I’m sorry that’s the case because that’s never my intention. I’m not a cowering woman and I wouldn’t want anyone else to be either.

    Now, if it’s okay with you, I’d prefer to discuss what Nine Deuce originally started the thread about. However, if you still want to talk to me about this, I’m more than happy to do so but this may not be the place for that, depending on what Nine Deuce thinks. My Private Casbah is always open for you to say whatever you please to me. I’m not one who is much concerned with tone or style or niceties so feel free to come on over and let loose.

  237. Sis August 1, 2008 at 1:34 PM #

    I’m not white. And I’m not American. And if you don’t get how you are an imperialist and oppressor, in this context, on feminist boards. I cannot explain it to you in 100 words. “Women of Colour” is an American term that you use to make everything about you. Don’t talk to me about “getting back to…whatever”. This thread was derailed by you and others with the same old schtick. Kind of stings though doesn’t it? To see how you as a self-identified American ‘woman of colour’ can be called an oppressor by other “women of colour”.

    I’m aboriginal. I’m one of the hundreds of other non-white women in the world who don’t identify as an American Black woman. With all that implies. This is not the U.S. This is the world wide web. Keep your culture and your oppression within your borders if you can’t do anything else.

    End of conversation. I’m not interested in your twisting of words and manipulation. Just take note. I’m not white. I’m non this thread. I don’t see racism, and I fucking resent your derailing this conversation to your fucking invented racism.

  238. Sis August 1, 2008 at 1:36 PM #

    “A determination about something you are not experiencing.”

    What a perfect example of your mind-fucking bullshit. I am experiencing racism. From you you shithead.

    Pardon, nine-deuce. I have now spoken my mind. My aboriginal mind.

  239. SnowdropExplodes August 1, 2008 at 1:55 PM #

    Betty Boondoggle:

    On your first point: far too many to allow the assertion of the opposite, is what I meant. Or possibly, enough to allow the generalisation to be made!

    As to your other points, I suggest you read the whole of what I wrote, and then you’ll see that I actually answered these already. I would also like to add that in your arguments, you are accepting the patriarchal view of sexuality and thus unconsciously perpetuating patriarchal attitudes.

    In what way is sex work sex “for its own sake”, in what way is sex work “sharing sex”. Sex for its own sake wouldn’t need coercion, exploitation, etc. “Sharing sex” would require both parties to want to be there.

    I said, “The sex industry would be a lot smaller, because a lot more people would be getting it for free, without any of the hang-ups that go with the patriarchal views of sexuality.”

    “What will change is the implication of those clauses, “for whatever reason”. In a post-patriarchal world, we can hope that that “whatever reason” will no longer include coercion, drug addiction, the socially-induced impression that one’s sole value is as eye-candy, and the rest of it.”

    I also said that sex work will continue as long as there are those willing to provide sexual services for cash, and those willing to pay cash in order to receive sexual services, and that I do not believe that human sexuality would alter so much as to remove those conditions.

    Actually, I disagree with the implication of “being willing to share”. You seem to want sex always to involve some emotional dimension, but really, the concept of “sharing one’s sex” simply means doing so without any attachment to the act or the other person. It is the idea of saying, “hey, I’ve got something good, do you want some too?” I used the terms “sex for its own sake” and “sharing sex”, to show that in a sex-positive and post-patriarchal world, sex would not have the same baggage attached to it: thus, saying people wouldn’t have sex for money is the same as saying people wouldn’t enter the performing arts for money. (And yes, I think I do view pornography, prostitution and stripping as a part of “the performing arts”)

    For a small percentage of sex workers this is the case – not the vast majority. But we only ever seem to have permission to talk about the privileged minority.

    “Apologies, but a biased opinion does not equal fact”. And you’ll find that sex workers’ rights activists, and sex-positive feminists, are very vocal about changing the circumstances so that those who want out can get out.

    To think that there’s anyone who thinks that people don’t want to have sex, or share it – whatever that’s supposed to mean – is absurd.

    I refer you to the concept of women as the “no-sex” class, developed by Figleaf (who has commented on this thread). In short, the vast majority of men believe that women do not want to have sex, and must therefore somehow be persuaded or coerced into giving it up. It is far from absurd, and it is in fact one of the greatest elements in the way the Patriarchy works!

    Being against sex work, or thinking it wouldn’t exist in a post-patriarchial world simply means that we don’t think human beings should be bought or sold and that, sans patriarchy’s heirarchies and confines, such a thing wouldn’t be an issue.

    Well, gee, I guess I must be anti-sex work, then! And so must all the other sex worker rights activists out there, too! Human trafficking (for any purpose, not just for sexual slavery) is an abomination and has to be stopped, and in a post-patriarchy world, it would be easier to stop it from happening. If, on the other hand, you’re suggesting that prostitutes (and porn actresses) “sell themselves”, then I think you have a very insulting point of view, because you reduce women to their genitalia and nothing else (and you accept that once a man has fucked a woman, he owns her – which I think is somewhat unpalatable!) But offering a professional service is a rather different idea, and it allows a woman to fuck for cash without being deemed to have “sold herself”, and indeed without any notion of a woman’s body being anyone’s property. In other words, sex work can be reframed in feminist terms, and every time “feminists” fail to reframe it in that way, they unconsciously serve to perpetuate patriarchal attitudes towards women.

  240. Spartakos August 1, 2008 at 7:04 PM #

    Didn’t read all the comments, but I thought I’d respond to the OP…I’m what I would consider a sex-pos man, even though I don’t frequent strip joints or hire prostitutes, and am trying to give up pornography. Because regardless of my personal choices when it comes to those things, sex-pos at it’s base is very simple: women should be allowed to do whatever they want to do sexually, free from coercion…and that coercion includes not only force and threat from men, but shaming from someone who feels what they’re doing is “wrong”.

    If a woman wants to save herself for marriage, that is her business and not mine. If she wants to have sex with whatever partners she chooses, be they male/female/other, that’s her business not mine. If she wants to marry two men, that’s her business not mine. And if she wants to be videotaped having sex in exchange for money, that’s her business and not mine…and it’s not my place to tell her she’s wrong to do it, or misguided, or entrapped by the patriarchy. She is a human being with the right to make her own choices.

    I’m all for helping women who are in sex work not because they want to be, but because they are forced to by circumstance. But I’m not going to ignore sex workers who say they are in it by choice, and try to tell them they can’t, or that their choice is somehow wrong or invalid.

    Now, the questions:

    “Do you believe that women would participate in sex work if we did not live in an oppressive, misogynistic culture?”

    Yes. The wording of this question implies that you think women only participate in sex work because of oppression and misogyny…why?

    “If so, what would the sex industry look like in a world in which women were seen as possessing the same humanity men do?”

    Probably a lot nicer. There would be less of the abusive/degrading porn produced, strip joints would probably be more gender-balanced (both on stage and off), and there would be more gender balance among prostitutes.

    “Do you believe that pornography and prostitution negatively affect some women’s lives (obviously some sex workers suffer abuse, but I am referring to women outside the sex industry here)?”

    Wait…do I think porn/pros negatively affects women who do not work in those fields? Hmmm…to some extent, yes…directly in the sense that it can cause body-image issues, indirectly in the sense that it influence men to affect women negatively, and it can be harmful to relationships. On the other hand, I think this might be as much a part of a culture that has (no pun intended) somewhat fucked-up attitudes when it comes to sex.
    Short answer: yes, but it doesn’t have to.

    “If so, does any of the responsibility for that lie with sex workers, or does it lie solely with the producers and pimps? Or somewhere else?”

    Somewhere else…with the culture.

    “Why aren’t there more men out there arguing for women’s “right” to participate in sex work?”

    I honestly don’t know how many are or aren’t. Some are, but are probably ignored or dissed (sometimes rightfully) as being self-serving perverts. Others aren’t, because they don’t wish to be ignored/dissed as a self-serving pervert. Just speculation, really.

    “What do you make of the fact that very few men call sex work a feminist choice?”

    Assuming it’s true, I don’t feel it’s for men to say what is or isn’t a feminist choice, especially if it involves overriding women.

    “Can women like Jenna Jameson be considered feminists for taking leadership roles in the production of pornography?”

    I wouldn’t consider her (personally) a feminist BECAUSE she takes the lead in porn production. But I don’t feel her position means she can’t be feminist. I don’t know Ms. Jameson well enough to judge her position as a feminist.

    “If the answer is yes, how can we reconcile the negative effects pornography has on women’s lives with referring to a producer of mainstream pornography as a feminist?”

    Because porn does not exist in a vaccuum, and I don’t believe porn necessarily has a negative effect on women’s lives simply because it’s porn. Again, cultural influence.

    “How can sex work empower individual women when it requires that women submit to being objectified and performing acts for money rather than out of genuine desire to do them?”

    That’s a trick question, as it assumes that sex work requires women to submit et. al. Some women claim they do sex work because they have a desire to do it (enjoy doing it), and it is not my place to call them liars. And there are probably some who don’t enjoy it, but don’t actively dislike it and consider it just another job…nearly everyone has worked a job they don’t particularly enjoy simply for the paycheck. I don’t consider sex work any different (and don’t understand why some people do).

    “Alternatively, if one genuinely enjoys something and gets paid for it, does it become a feminist act?”

    Not necessarily, but sometimes.

    “In other words, does feminism exist to advance the cause of women as a whole or for individual women to use as a justification for their personal choices?”

    This is not a dichotomy. I don’t believe this is a situation where one has to choose between advancing the cause of all women, or advancing one’s own personal cause.
    Feminism exists, IMO, because women are not treated as full human beings, and the sole goal of feminism is to insure that they are.

    “If sex work is a valid, feminist choice for individual women, what are we to make of women who say that their participation in sex work resulted from their dire poverty, drug addiction, etc. being exploited by pimps and porn producers?”

    We are to understand that (I believe) their negative experiences in sex work arise not from some problem with sex work itself but with the circumstances under which they got involved in it and practiced it…again, culture.
    We should not ignore them…but we likewise cannot ignore the women who say their participation in sex work is liberating, healthy, or harmlessly profitable.

    “I see sex work as a reductionist commodification of human sexuality.”

    I disagree, but that’s fine.

    “Do you think that the reduction of sex to a commodity has a negative effect on our ability to explore and express the potential of human sexuality?”

    No, since one can reduce nearly anything to a commodity without having a negative effect. If I am paid to compliment people all day, this does not reduce the impact or ability of me to give genuine compliments to people I like and care about.
    Simply because one sells sex does not mean that one cannot also GIVE sex willingly, or enjoy sex in it’s myriad forms with loved ones.

    “If you’re a sex-positive dude, tell me why.”

    Because women need to be treated like human beings, which means they need to be allowed to make their own choices and not have choices removed “for their own good”.

    “Why are you in such a huff to help women out?”

    I’m not “in such a huff” (though I probably should be…because letting people, women or minorities or homosexuals or whatever, be treated as less than human is an insult to human society).

    “And why does it manifest as sex positivism? Why is your desire to help women out limited to arguing for their “right” to serve you sexually?”

    This is a non sequitur…you assume that a.) sex-pos men do not try to help women in other ways, and b.) sex-pos only involves women’s rights to “serve” men, and not their right to make free and unlimited sexual choices.

  241. Dana August 1, 2008 at 10:46 PM #

    You know what? *I’m* sex-positive. I love having sex. I love getting laid. I love going down on a guy, having him go down on me, kissing, hugging, rubbing, touching, caressing, licking and all the rest of it.

    I’m also a feminist, leaning hard in the radical direction.

    Imagine that.

    See, the central problem here as I see it is that the so-called “sex-pozzes” are making the following claims:

    Sex = pornography

    Sex = prostitution

    Sex = BDSM

    Because ONLY if you support these things can you POSSIBLY be sex-positive.

    Even worse? The radfems accept these claims and argue within the same framework.

    Bullshit.

    I will not say I’ve never viewed or enjoyed porn. That would be a lie. I still watch it on occasion, actually. But these days I find myself wondering if any of the actresses ever had to deal with close relatives running across their work on the Internet. God, I think I’d just want to die.

    And I wouldn’t be caught dead selling my ass, or stripping, or anything related. OK, I might try those things on Second Life. But that’s an avatar made of pixels. I would not do it myself.

    Why? Because no man is entitled to fuck. No man is entitled to see a naked woman. We are all entitled to ORGASM, men and women alike, but since when do you need to be touching someone else to get there? You don’t. If you THINK you do, it’s all in your mind and can be overcome.

    The entire sex industry is built upon faulty premises. Ditto for the “sex positive” movement. On top of that, I’ve read Playgirl as well as consumed more mainstream porn, and I’ll tell you right now with a straight face, guys are treated a LOT more respectfully by women when they strip for the camera than vice versa. Chippendales are practically a national institution and recognized everywhere. There is no equivalent female-only stripper troupe. Ain’t that something?

    And you know why it is? Because no matter where it comes from, men and women treat sexuality differently. I think it’s mostly ingrained by culture, but never mind, this is what we’re stuck with. Men are taught that women are interchangeable, especially sexual women. Women are taught that men are Special and that each man is an Individual and should be treated as such.

    And that’s the bottom line problem with the sex industry. Because it is MOSTLY geared at straight men, it is almost entirely premised upon treating women as a nameless, faceless mass put here on earth for the purpose of helping some random dude add a few more socks to his laundry basket. It is also based on the premise that men have the right to have sex with women. If we don’t change these basic premises of the sex industry, then NO, I cannot see participation in the industry as a feminist act, and I refuse to be dragged into the discussion of whether it is feminist to “let” a woman “make that choice.” It isn’t.

    Oh, and don’t let yourself be swayed by these wonderful Pagan men who are sooo much better than Christians because they are SEX! POSITIVE! If Christians are so sex-negative, why do they have so damn many kids? Beverly LaHaye of Concerned Women for America made her first media splash co-authoring, with her husband Tim (of Left Behind fame), a sex manual for married couples. But let’s look at these “sex-positive” Pagan men, shall we. They wait in long lines with their tongues hanging out for teenaged Pagan girls to come of legal age. They eagerly embrace polyamory, but just as long as they’re the only ones who get the multiple partners. Well, all right, it’s OK if the wife or girlfriend is bi. More for him to watch. And cheating? Don’t get me started. Then again, I’m generally disgusted with how the left treats infidelity. You think it’s all about the “consent” and “personal choices.” No, it’s about being an untrustworthy, philandering, lying sack of shit. The sex is only incidental. Well, until you wind up infecting your monogamous partner with HIV.

    Wow, I don’t know where all that came from. But man. Can we TRY to debate honestly about this issue, please?

  242. Nine Deuce August 1, 2008 at 10:53 PM #

    A-fucking-men, Dana!

  243. bint alshamsa August 2, 2008 at 1:03 AM #

    Sis,

    I’m not white. And I’m not American. And if you don’t get how you are an imperialist and oppressor, in this context, on feminist boards. I cannot explain it to you in 100 words.

    If you can’t explain yourself, then there’s no logical basis for expecting me to know what you’re talking about ergo, nothing changes and you still wind up unhappy about the conversation.

    “Women of Colour” is an American term that you use to make everything about you.

    Nope. Wrong again, Sis/Pony. “Woman of color” is a term used to identify myself as part of a particular group just like people calling themselves feminists can be a way of identifying as part of a group. You don’t get to define who I am and why I identify as I do. You may WANT that power but you just don’t have it. I define who I am and no man or woman, but me, can own that power. That’s what womanism is all about, my dear.

    Don’t talk to me about “getting back to…whatever”. This thread was derailed by you and others with the same old schtick.

    Wrong again. I don’t even know the person who brought up the science stuff on this thread. I’ve never spoken to him before or outside of this conversation.

    Kind of stings though doesn’t it? To see how you as a self-identified American ‘woman of colour’ can be called an oppressor by other “women of colour”.

    Not at all. I always appreciate when women speak their minds about the oppression that they experience. It’s rather cathartic, really.

    I’m aboriginal. I’m one of the hundreds of other non-white women in the world who don’t identify as an American Black woman. With all that implies.

    Wonderful! I’m not looking for everyone to identify as I do. The majority of people on this planet aren’t “American Black women” and I think that’s a good thing. Variety is the spice of life!

    This is not the U.S. This is the world wide web. Keep your culture and your oppression within your borders if you can’t do anything else.

    You’re right, this is the internet and that means that there are no physical boundaries to keep any culture within the borders of nation/states. I will not hide my culture nor will I pretend that my heritage does not exist. I love who I am.

    End of conversation. I’m not interested in your twisting of words and manipulation. Just take note. I’m not white. I’m non this thread. I don’t see racism, and I fucking resent your derailing this conversation to your fucking invented racism.

    I don’t particularly care whether you’re white or not. I don’t recall ever asking you what you call yourself. By the way, you still don’t get to decide what is and isn’t racist to a group that you don’t identify as.

    What a perfect example of your mind-fucking bullshit. I am experiencing racism. From you you shithead.

    Now that’s really intelligent. Oh brother! Look, if you want to be spoken to respectfully, it’s going to have to be a two way street because I’m quite willing to give as good as I get.

  244. bint alshamsa August 2, 2008 at 2:12 AM #

    Dana,

    I’d love to see where anyone who identifies as “sex positive” has said that

    sex=pornography
    sex=prostitution
    sex=BDSM

    That is a strawman argument. You’re arguing against yourself. The idea that engaging in sex work means that men are entitled to fuck is just illogical. Likewise, no one is entitled to orgasm. I could go my entire life without orgasming and it wouldn’t mean that someone has deprived me of something I’m owed. Yeah, orgasms are great. I wish we could all have them on demand, like cable television movies. Still, entitled? No.

    The entire sex industry is built upon faulty premises. Ditto for the “sex positive” movement.

    What premise? What movement? I have yet to see any self-identified sex-positive movement. I see individuals who identify as that or have that label used in reference to them but I have yet to see any of the ones I know say that they consider themselves to be a part of any movement.

    On top of that, I’ve read Playgirl as well as consumed more mainstream porn, and I’ll tell you right now with a straight face, guys are treated a LOT more respectfully by women when they strip for the camera than vice versa.

    Here’s where we come to cultural differences again. What’s “respectful” is completely subjective. In other words, you and I could define it in completely different ways and neither of us would be incorrect. What’s considered respectful depends on where and who you are. Some people see all public nudity as disrespectful. Some folks think that engaging in public displays of affection is disrespectful. As for me? I’m totally hoping that one day we can all go around naked if we want to.

    Then again, I’m generally disgusted with how the left treats infidelity. You think it’s all about the “consent” and “personal choices.” No, it’s about being an untrustworthy, philandering, lying sack of shit. The sex is only incidental. Well, until you wind up infecting your monogamous partner with HIV.

    If a couple of people consent to having extra-marital relationships, then it really isn’t infidelity. I think that people should be free to make personal choices when it comes to who they will and will not sleep with. Western culture’s entire premise for what constitutes infidelity is based on religious philosophies that aren’t even relevant in the lives of many people today so why should they feel obligated to live according to these precepts?

    I’m definitely a believer in people being honest and faithful to whatever relationship they’ve committed themselves to. Women of color are getting HIV/AIDS at unbelievably high rates from their male partners. It’s effing ridiculous. However, that doesn’t mean that women shouldn’t be able to define the boundaries of their relationships in terms that are not necessarily in accordance with the enforced norm (i.e. marriage between one man and one woman forever and ever and no outside sex for the rest of your lives, either).

    This isn’t just about having honest debate. We can all be honest about our lives but I don’t think that we’ll really get an understanding of each other without trying to understand where our differences come from and why women see these subjects so differently from each other.

  245. bint alshamsa August 2, 2008 at 2:29 AM #

    Nine Deuce,

    I’ve been thinking about this thread a whole lot and trying to consider why certain people have and haven’t responded to it. For one, I think the title was a little confusing because I, and others, interpreted it as an invitation to “sex-positive dudes” to come and answer some questions. Later, I saw you write that you weren’t actually looking for them to answer (the majority of) them and that you were really looking for “sex positive” women to answer questions ABOUT the “sex positive dudes”. Well, I dunno. Here’s my thing:

    Personally, I don’t care what men identify themselves as. It’s just that I don’t have any interest in spending much of my time defending them. It’s not that I’m one of these imaginary men-haters that some folks see behind every corner. The thing is, my womanism isn’t based on them and what they do. My feelings about sex and prostitution and pornography don’t depend on men and their views about what I should and shouldn’t be or do or say.

    I feel like, every time we put the focus on what men are doing and thinking, that takes away from time and energy that could be spent focusing on the lives and views of women. I mean, of course, they’ll be a part of the discussion because they do represent an oppressor class relative to women. However, my way of claiming my power is by getting beyond reacting to them and what they do and by building up the kind of world that I want to see. I think the patriarchy crumbles when we stop focusing on men altogether.

    That’s just kind of what’s been going through my mind as I think about this thread.

  246. Nine Deuce August 2, 2008 at 2:53 AM #

    bint – I agree with you on that.

    Still, in this context, it isn’t really possible to remove men from the picture, because they, for the most part, are creating the demand that sex workers are choosing (I’ll leave the choice bit for later) to meet.

    The title, which I admit may have been ill-considered at this point, was more snark than an actual question. I had had a few conversations in the weeks before I wrote the post with groups of people made up of women and men, and it was the women who were saying they thought sex work could be empowering, whereas the men all thought sex work and feminism were mutually exclusive. I have a hard time getting past this disconnect. I suppose I think that if the men still think they’re getting what they want, if they’re still able to exploit with impunity, then how can the women they think they’re exploiting be making feminist strides, hence the post. I wasn’t being an asshole. I really wanted people to give me their takes, because I knew it couldn’t be as simple as all that.

    I think the problem here is that people are assuming that radical feminists want to shame sex workers or criminalize the sex industry. There are some aspects of the sex industry I wouldn’t mind seeing criminalized (virtual child porn, rape porn, etc.), simply for the fact that it’s impossible to prove non-consent in some of the scenarios involved in their production, and so it isn’t possible to guarantee women’s safety in these contexts. I would never argue for the criminalization of women’s participation in any kind of sex work, but rather the criminalization of the exploitation of women.

    As for the issue of agency, I have written a ton of posts lately explaining my ideas on the concept of agency within a patriarchy: we have it, but it’s exercised within a limited field that is defined by someone else. It exists, but it’s limited, and so isn’t true freedom. I’m not sure that I can call a choice to participate in sex work a feminist choice, and I’ve been reading a lot of stuff by people who are doing so. When the sex industry is as anti-woman and one-sided as it is right now, I don’t know that perpetuating it can be a feminist act. And women who are making woman-centered porn have yet to convince me that they are really breaking out of the dynamic we see in mainstream porn. The objectification still seems to persist.

    I’m not here to pass judgment on what sexual acts someone is interested in, but rather to ask why we might find certain things exciting, and what that excitement might tell us about our political and cultural situation. I think a lot of the opposition I’ve seen here has been assuming that I’m calling people deviants, sluts, or whatever, and that I want to see women punished for engaging in acts I don’t find appealing. That’s just so far from what I am saying that I’m not sure what to make of it.

  247. bint alshamsa August 2, 2008 at 4:43 AM #

    Nine Deuce,

    I’m VERY snarky so, as far as I’m concerned, snark away! ;) Before we go on, I wanted to address something you wrote before about me only addressing parts of what you say. The reason why I do the cut-n-paste thing is that it’s easier for me to write that way. My arthritis means the amount of stuff I can do with my hands can be kind of limited and sometimes I can’t really do a lot of paragraphs. Now, I’m so used to doing it that way that even when my hands feel good, I tend to just break things up that way so that the person can know what I’m responding to without me having to write as many words. It’s not about ignoring some of what the other person is saying. So, yeah, it’s that good ol’ cultural difference at work, not rudeness or disrespect.

    I had had a few conversations in the weeks before I wrote the post with groups of people made up of women and men, and it was the women who were saying they thought sex work could be empowering, whereas the men all thought sex work and feminism were mutually exclusive. I have a hard time getting past this disconnect.

    Well, see, I tend to think that what men think really can be ignored a lot more than it usually is, even among feminists. Why should we care whether men think that sex work and feminism are mutually exclusive? Their definitions and understanding of feminism just don’t affect how I define what is and isn’t feminist. To me, it seems reactionary to shape our views around what we think is and isn’t pleasing them.

    I think the problem here is that people are assuming that radical feminists want to shame sex workers or criminalize the sex industry.

    Look, I’m not doubting that this does occur but I don’t see that being the general view held by most of those I’ve encountered who identify as “sex positive” or are labeled this by others. However, since I don’t identify myself as a “radical feminist, I wouldn’t be the target of such an accusation so I’d probably wouldn’t see it as often as someone like you who does. Personally, I have seen some people who identify as “radical feminists” engaging in slut-shaming and advocating the criminalization of the sex industry. Couldn’t we take it as a given that all of these groups (sex workers, sex-positive people, radical feminists) are all experiencing what they say they’re experiencing and stop doubting each other? It always baffles me when I hear someone say there’s absolutely no way that anyone who identifies as _____(fill in the blank) would ever __________(fill in the blank). I mean, come on. If you think about it logically, the only way we could say this kind of thing with any authority was if we spent every single moment of our lives with every single person who uses that identifier.

    I would never argue for the criminalization of women’s participation in any kind of sex work, but rather the criminalization of the exploitation of women.

    This is still problematic because doing this would entail finding some sort of agreed upon definition of what constitutes the exploitation of women and that’s just not going to happen unless we force our opinion on others or decide to allow someone else to force their opinion on us. With over three billion women on this planet, from different cultures, economic backgrounds, et cetera, the likelihood that we will all have the same views about what exploits women is so minute that I think it’s safe to say it’s just never going to happen otherwise.

    For example, there are the women who think it’s exploitation to encourage women to walk around with their bodies exposed and there are other women who think it’s exploitation to encourage women to walk around with their bodies all covered up. Of those two views, whose definition should we all adopt? Some women want to be free to be as exposed as they can; some women want to be free to be as covered as they can. Regardless of what decision a woman makes, somewhere in the world, there are going to be men who are pleased by it. So, what the men are pleased by really doesn’t help us determine what’s exploitation either.

    we have it, but it’s exercised within a limited field that is defined by someone else. It exists, but it’s limited, and so isn’t true freedom.

    Well, everyone is free to define whatever they want, even if no one else agrees with them. I mean, I can define what’s freedom to and for me. Other people forming definitions doesn’t stop me from doing that. I also differ with you about what isn’t “true freedom”. How is it that the existence of limitations means that something isn’t true freedom? If freedom only exists in situations where there are no limitations, then true freedom doesn’t exist. I define “true freedom” as a situation where a person can choose from as many options as they’d like to have. For example, if someone says that, of all the things I love to eat, I can choose what I want for dinner, then I see that as true freedom. If someone says that I can choose from their favorite dishes, then that’s not really true freedom. Sure, they may think that they are providing me with some good choices but if I’m not allowed to decide from what I want, then they aren’t giving me the true freedom to choose.

    When the sex industry is as anti-woman and one-sided as it is right now, I don’t know that perpetuating it can be a feminist act. And women who are making woman-centered porn have yet to convince me that they are really breaking out of the dynamic we see in mainstream porn. The objectification still seems to persist.

    Well, I think what many sex workers are saying is that other people don’t need to see what they are doing as a feminist act. When I look at people saying that they see what someone else says they are doing freely and insist that objectification is occurring, I want to try and explain how one’s view of what’s objectifying is very culturally-biased. When we’re on the outside looking in and a woman is telling us what they think about their life (e.g. experiences, choices, decisions), I believe we should trust that they know what they are going through. That means not insisting that making a particular decision wasn’t empowering or beneficial or even preferable to all the other options that you/I think they have or should have.

    I think a lot of the opposition I’ve seen here has been assuming that I’m calling people deviants, sluts, or whatever, and that I want to see women punished for engaging in acts I don’t find appealing. That’s just so far from what I am saying that I’m not sure what to make of it.

    Well, from my perspective, a big part of the reaction that you received came from the cartoon that you included with the post. With the post alone, it’s a lot easier for someone to just examine your words. However, as the cliche goes, “a picture tells a thousand words”. That picture really struck a lot of folks as quite problematic in several ways. Whether someone sees my view as invalid or not, I and others see that picture as existing within a specific framework, a societal framework that is both racist and sexist. Then several white self-identified radical feminists stated that they can decide what is and isn’t racist which only further proved how racist radical feminists can and often are. I mean, this isn’t something that folks are just making up off the top of their heads here. It’s this experience that caused so many women of color to stop identifying with white, Western feminism in the first place. Still, radical feminism, as a whole is still in deep denial about what women of color are saying they/we experience.

  248. Jen August 2, 2008 at 10:46 AM #

    Holy shit, Nine Deuce, you’re like a saint for putting up with the crap on this thread. I think I would have closed it as soon as it got down to the psuedo-intellectual science bullshit. I totally caught that throw back someone did up above to Philosophy. That made me smile. I mean, it’s just really pathetic how people trust on this kind of brain excrement if you label it “science”, but put some real introspective complex thought into something and call it “philosophy” or, godforbid, “sociology”, then you’re a fucking moron.

    I also want to say that it’s particularly hilarious how questions on sex positivism went mainly unanswered and quickly degraded into discussions of racism that was not there or Science(TM) that was being violated. Kind of like I thread I did a while back on abortion that somehow became about vasectomies. However, I seem to have a lot less forgiving comment system, because I usually just delete the comments or refuse to answer them.

    Dana – I love that analysis of Pagan/BDSM stuff.

  249. Maggie Hays August 2, 2008 at 2:58 PM #

    As for the issue of agency, I have written a ton of posts lately explaining my ideas on the concept of agency within a patriarchy: we have it, but it’s exercised within a limited field that is defined by someone else. It exists, but it’s limited, and so isn’t true freedom.

    Well said, Nine! :)

  250. Sis August 2, 2008 at 6:53 PM #

    You don’t speak respectfully, you just weave your contempt for women into a wall of inscrutable bullshit.

    Doesn’t matter what you call me. I’m she of the complete distate for women who are manipulators and liars and their wank from hurting and belittling other women. Thus, fuck you.

  251. Forlock August 2, 2008 at 7:13 PM #

    “Do you believe that women would participate in sex work if we did not live in an oppressive, misogynistic culture? If so, what would the sex industry look like in a world in which women were seen as possessing the same humanity men do?”

    Yes, they would. Sex work is as old as humanity. It is older than money. It did not start with patriarchy, and will not end with patriarchy. Before money existed, people (both men and women) exchanged sex for food, clothing, and other goods and services. As for the second question: In a world where every human being is valued and welcomed (world-wide anarchism or socialism), and where people’s needs are met, full-time sex-workers would be fewer because the economic pressures would not be there. But part-time and occasional sex-work would still be prevalent.

    “Do you believe that pornography and prostitution negatively affect some women’s lives (obviously some sex workers suffer abuse, but I am referring to women outside the sex industry here)? If not, why not? If so, does any of the responsibility for that lie with sex workers, or does it lie solely with the producers and pimps? Or somewhere else?”

    Activist sex workers do not sugarcoat the industry that they’ve worked in. But the vast majority of negativity in sex work has to do with it being CRIMINALIZED and ILLEGAL.

    “Why aren’t there more men out there arguing for women’s “right” to participate in sex work? What do you make of the fact that very few men call sex work a feminist choice? I’d also be happy to discuss the arguments of men who do make such a claim.”

    There are many men who work as sex workers. They are escorts, strippers, prodoms, masseuses, etc., just like the women. Why don’t you ask them?

    “Can women like Jenna Jameson be considered feminists for taking leadership roles in the production of pornography? Why or why not? If the answer is yes, how can we reconcile the negative effects pornography has on women’s lives with referring to a producer of mainstream pornography as a feminist?”

    Displaying a naked body, or displaying a sex acts on camera is not inherently negative. How many nude images of women exist, either through painting, sculpture, or on camera? Are they all negative?

    “How can sex work empower individual women when it requires that women submit to being objectified and performing acts for money rather than out of genuine desire to do them?”

    How do you know women don’t have a genuine desire to perform acts for money?

  252. Forlock August 2, 2008 at 7:36 PM #

    “Alternatively, if one genuinely enjoys something and gets paid for it, does it become a feminist act?”

    I would say not. Those who get paid to denigrate sex worker’s choices and enjoy doing so are not committing a feminist act, in my book.

    “In other words, does feminism exist to advance the cause of women as a whole or for individual women to use as a justification for their personal choices?”

    Gee, I thought feminism WAS about personal choices. When did this become different? Nine Deuce, maybe it’s time for you to re-learn the concept of “my body, my choice”. Also, why don’t you look the concept of “two or more consenting adults”?

    “If sex work is a valid, feminist choice for individual women, what are we to make of women who say that their participation in sex work resulted from their dire poverty, drug addiction, etc. being exploited by pimps and porn producers?”

    For those who engage in sex work because of dire poverty and drug addiction, the problem in this case would be their dire poverty and their drug addiction, not the sex work they engage in. Don’t blame the effect for the cause.

    “I see sex work as a reductionist commodification of human sexuality. Do you think that the reduction of sex to a commodity has a negative effect on our ability to explore and express the potential of human sexuality? If not, why not?”

    You see sex work as a “reductionist commidification of human sexuality”. Others don’t, you’re going to have to live with it.

  253. Nine Deuce August 2, 2008 at 7:39 PM #

    Not very original, Forlock. See about 65 of the above posts for the same answers you just gave me. Also, you might want to consider being less condescending if you’re going to come here and pretend to know more about what feminism is about than I do. Treating a woman like and idiot for disagreeing with you is not very pro-feminist, you know.

  254. Forlock August 2, 2008 at 8:47 PM #

    >>”There is a difference between having an unsatisfying career and being involved in sex work against one’s will because of a lack of education, viable options, job skills, etc.”>>

    See, this statement is the absolute, dead-0n reason why you and other so-called radical feminists are so despised, Nine Deuce.

    The vast majority of jobs in the world are done against the will of those who have to do them. If one has an “unsatisfying career”, then that person is doing a job against their own will. It’s no different then someone stripping because of economic reasons. The only difference is that one involves sex and the other doesn’t.

    A woman could be flipping burgers all day at McDonald’s for peanuts, and to you it’s just an “unsatisfying career”. But if that same woman is making $400 an hour as a escort, then she’s horribly exploited!

    Do you really think that people can’t see through your elitist hypocrisy, Nine Deuce?

  255. Nine Deuce August 2, 2008 at 8:58 PM #

    I know plenty of former and current sex workers who would beg to differ. In fact, if you actually read the posts above, you’d find examples of women who will tell you, first hand, that sex work sucks more than other kinds of “unsatisfying” work. I know that there are sex workers who don’t see the job as any worse than any other job, but there are plenty more who feel otherwise. If a sex worker feels exploited, then she is. You’re the one making universal claims, not me.

    And who says I don’t think a job at McDonald’s amounts to exploitation?

    How am I an elitist or a hypocrite?

    And who the fuck are you to comment on my credibility as a radical feminist? Ms. Dworkin!? Have you risen from the dead!? In the guise of a sanctimonious, ill-informed asshole who is too stupid to know that he’s not making any point that hasn’t already been soundly disposed of?!

    Everyone – Don’t take this to mean I’m not interested in discussing the issues with you anymore. I’m just tired of people who come here and act like rude assholes straight off the bat without even having anything to add to the conversation. Like, really, really tired.

  256. Forlock August 2, 2008 at 9:04 PM #

    >>Not very original, Forlock. See about 65 of the above posts for the same answers you just gave me. Also, you might want to consider being less condescending if you’re going to come here and pretend to know more about what feminism is about than I do. Treating a woman like and idiot for disagreeing with you is not very pro-feminist, you know.>>

    You asked the questions, and I gave you my answers. I did not copy from other posters. If other posters gave the same answers, it’s because they agree with me to a certain extent.

    And as for me being condescending and treating you like an idiot . . . well, Nine Deuce, that is how sex-worker feminists are normally treated by radical feminists. They are condescended to and treated like idiots by you and others. How does it feel to have the tables turned on you for a change?

  257. Nine Deuce August 2, 2008 at 9:07 PM #

    Yeah, dude, how dare I ask someone to answer a question that I’m honestly curious about.

  258. bint alshamsa August 2, 2008 at 10:20 PM #

    You know, Nine Deuce, I’m really curious about how you’re defining things here. On this thread, I’ve seen women of color called stupid, losers, and shitheads with nary a word from you about it. Is this what feminism is supposed to look like? It’s your blog and all, so I’m just kind of curious about how you feel about the fact that it is all self-identified “radical feminists” saying this about the women who disagree with them? I mean, do you think this might have something to do with why so many other womanists/feminists see radical feminists as they do?

  259. Nine Deuce August 2, 2008 at 10:28 PM #

    I have had to read through so many comments and coordinate so many conversations in this thread that I’ve lost track of many of them. Also, I don’t know who is and is not a woman of color unless they tell me. I’d prefer, no matter what race/ethnicity commenters are, that they all remain civil, and I’ve asked people to do so and have done my best to moderate.

    I’m not sure why womanists and feminists who do not define as radical see radical feminists in a negative light. There are too many differing viewpoints for me to put it all down to one cause, and I also think that misrepresentations are too plentiful on all sides.

  260. bint alshamsa August 2, 2008 at 10:32 PM #

    Sis,

    You don’t speak respectfully, you just weave your contempt for women into a wall of inscrutable bullshit.

    That’s rather funny coming from you–the same woman who has called women “whores” and “dogs”. Did you think that anyone has forgotten about that.

    I’m she of the complete distate for women who are manipulators and liars and their wank from hurting and belittling other women. Thus, fuck you.

    Uh, you can’t fuck me dahling! Misogynists are not my type. I’d rather wank anyday before I pair off with someone who defines feminism as you do.

  261. Nine Deuce August 2, 2008 at 10:36 PM #

    I did a search and found one instance each of those insults, as well as about a zillion instances of the word stupid.

    I’ll ask everyone, radfems included, to remain civil on this thread. I agree that calling women names and writing that they are stupid is not cool, and is certainly not very feminist. This is a touchy thread and there’s no way it can be productive if it devolves into nothing but an exchange of insults.

  262. Nine Deuce August 2, 2008 at 10:38 PM #

    I think I’d like to add that I’d prefer if this completely unfruitful exchange between bint and Sis would end now.

  263. Forlock August 2, 2008 at 10:41 PM #

    I know you don’t want to hear from me again, but I need to give you an example of what I mean by “elitist”, Nine Deuce.

    Do you see that picture above? The swanky vacation you are about to take? Many women, including myself, cannot afford to take a vacation like that. What sort of job do you have that you can do this?

    The woman who flips burgers at McDonald’s can’t take a vacation like that either. But she CAN, if she is making hundreds of dollars an hour as an escort. So who are you to tell HER that she can’t do this?

    Now you understand what I mean by “elitist” and “hypocrite”.

  264. Jen August 2, 2008 at 10:45 PM #

    And as for me being condescending and treating you like an idiot . . . well, Nine Deuce, that is how sex-worker feminists are normally treated by radical feminists. They are condescended to and treated like idiots by you and others. How does it feel to have the tables turned on you for a change?

    Buwahahahahaha. What a joke. Dude, go look up who authored the best laws and treatises on how to combat human trafficking, help women to exit prostitution if they want to leave, and who first explored how and why porn and prostitution, particularly the nasty varieties, are so massively popular in today’s society. It’s not going to be your beloved pornographers and empowered burlesque dancers.

    Might I also add that someone who assumes that every single, or at least most, women in the sex industries are there by choice, love their job, and have all sorts of agency and priviledge is fucking [stupid]? I mean, read the last 200+ comments on how and why most sex workers don’t like their jobs. I could even help out and post hundreds of peer-reviewed papers on the how the vast majority of sex workers would like to exit, were viciously abused, and are paid to have sex with men they aren’t attracted to in a manner that renders them vulnerable to abuse and disease.

    But I’m not going to post those things, because you won’t even read them. In fact, you’ll hold up your Diablo Codys and tell all sex workers how empowered they are, no matter how much their words and the reality of the statistics beg to differ. You remind me of Bill Cosby telling all African-Americans that racism is over, and that everything wrong in their lives is obviously their fault because look at him! He’s rich!

  265. Nine Deuce August 2, 2008 at 10:48 PM #

    I’m a graduate student. My stipend is roughly equivalent to what I’d make at McDonald’s, and I have no other income. I live on $20K a year in Manhattan. And don’t give me any shit about going to school. I’m the first person in my family to graduate from HIGH SCHOOL, let alone go to college.

    And just for information’s sake, the reason I travel in Asia and not somewhere else is because I can do so for about $15 a day. I know that it’s still a privilege to get to do, but it isn’t as swanky as it looks.

    Your argument would be awesome if I’d ever told any woman that she shouldn’t be participating in sex work. I haven’t. All I’ve done is asked people to help me understand something that’s a mental obstacle for me when I think about sex positivism. This post was an honest attempt to get answers to questions I would really like to resolve.

    I have empathy for women who are in sex work and don’t want to be, and for women who are abused within the sex industry. How in the fuck does that equate to me telling any woman what to do with her life?

  266. bint alshamsa August 2, 2008 at 11:05 PM #

    Nine Deuce,

    You know, it isn’t so much about the words used (as misogynist as they were and, thus, not to be taken lightly) as much as it is about who uses them and why. I think that what has occurred here pretty much mirrors the way interactions between radical feminists and womanists (women of color feminists). I mean, this stuff has a history that goes back several decades. Yet there seems to be virtually no analysis from the radical feminist side of this.

    Look, I don’t blame any woman for having a serious problem with MRAs because the MRAs consistently engage in woman-hating speech and behavior. I do think that men have a responsibility to speak out against this stuff or else they may well be complicit in what’s being done in their name. Similarly, radical feminists have consistently engaged in speech and behavior that is as easy for women of color to identify as racist. Few radical feminists would accept the idea that they are simply complaining about a non-existent phenomenon when they tell MRAs that what they are saying or doing is misogyny. Yet why is it when women of color and others tell radical feminists that their behavior is problematic in some way, radical feminists claim just don’t engage in the sort of analysis that they are asking others to do?

    I mean, if this is supposed to be a conversation about the disconnect between radical feminists and people who do not identify as radical feminists, where is the radical feminist analysis of the behavior that they are engaging in during interactions with other women?

  267. Sis August 2, 2008 at 11:05 PM #

    Yes. But.

    I’ll be watching for fruitful.

  268. bint alshamsa August 2, 2008 at 11:08 PM #

    Okay, this is just ridiculous. Now we have the radical feminist ablism in full effect. I mean, is there ANY sort of ism that radical feminists are not going to engage in on this thread. Calling someone “fucking retarded”? That’s disgusting!

    Nine Deuce, you know, maybe someone could believe that the first three or four times this stuff occurred was a coincidence but how many examples of this kind of hatred have to crop up before at least one of the radical feminists here are willing to admit that there is a pattern going on?

  269. Nine Deuce August 2, 2008 at 11:11 PM #

    Sis – Me too.

    bint – I suppose I just don’t see how it’s radical feminists vs. womanists, if that makes sense.

  270. bint alshamsa August 2, 2008 at 11:19 PM #

    It’s not JUST radical feminists versus womanists. I don’t think most radical feminists would even be able to see something they are doing as ethically problematic towards women of color and those who they label “sex positive” feminists, so I think it’s not very helpful to try and frame things in terms of one versus the other. Instead, isn’t this about dialoguing?

    To me, it starts with just being willing to say to another woman, “Ya’ know, I don’t see where I’m doing anything wrong but, I love women enough to give you the benefit of the doubt and I love women enough to try and understand why you feel the way you do.”

    To me, that’s how you have a conversation about this stuff that can actually go somewhere. I mean, how can you really converse with someone if you see them engaging in hate speech and telling you that you’re just imagining things?

  271. Nine Deuce August 2, 2008 at 11:27 PM #

    I’m trying my best to do that, but there are so many different opinions here that it’s a little difficult at times. I do want to say, though, that I’m a little dubious about what exactly is being said here that qualifies as hate speech. I do want to make an attempt to understand what other women have to say, but that doesn’t mean I waive the right to ask them to explain their viewpoints. My saying I see something differently isn’t an attack, and I don’t think it’s fair to dismiss my questions out of hand by claiming that I’m somehow blind. I’m aware of the privileges I have, and I think I’m capable of seeing through them, or at least making a sincere effort to.

    As to a pattern, what I see is a pattern of radical feminists being exasperated with being mischaracterized and attacked. I certainly feel that way, and I’ve had a hard time keeping it from driving me nuts on this thread. There are so many people trying to derail, misrepresent things, etc. that it’s maddening. I suppose it’s easier for that to express itself in the way it has on this thread in places when the person doing the expressing isn’t the one who started the conversation. I’m fairly new to this argument. A lot of these women are probably tired of it.

  272. bint alshamsa August 3, 2008 at 12:34 AM #

    Nine Deuce,

    Yeah, some folks here have engaged in conversations with each other many times before and, from where I am, the exasperation is being felt on all sides. I’ve made several comments here asking folks to explain themselves and, instead, I received a nice dose of misogyny in return.

    With regards to what I said about hate speech, I’m more than happy to explain. When certain labels are used as insults (e.g. the “fucking retarded” comment), it has real consequences for those who identify as or are involuntarily identified that way by society. For example, using the state of being retarded as an insult says something about what that person thinks of those who are actually retarded. When we allow this stuff to go unchecked, it adds to the difficulties that people with disabilities face. When people engage in racist behavior and that goes unchecked, it makes life more difficult and, oftentimes, more dangerous for those who are the usual targets for those labels.

    Unfortunately, when women are first told that they are imagining things or are told that they don’t see what they say they see, even if you to come back later and say you’re interested in their views, you’ve already shown them evidence that you see their views as less credible. That’s what’s occurred in this thread. This thread didn’t start out with radical feminists being mischaracterized and attacked. It started with a picture that many people saw as racist and slut-shaming. That’s where this thread truly began. And before this thread began, there was a history of radical feminism having a long track record of engaging in racist, (and slut-shaming and ablist) behavior. Shouldn’t that also be taken into consideration? Shouldn’t radical feminists be willing to analyze the origins of their actions as well? I mean, if it’s easy to see why it’s reasonable to say that sex-positive people should analyze their actions relative to radical feminists, shouldn’t radical fems also be asked to do the same?

  273. Maggie Hays August 3, 2008 at 1:11 AM #

    Nine, do you know that in case this thread became too annoying, irritating or abusive, you could close comments? … So then everybody could move on…

    Have you thought about that? Just asking? :?

  274. Nine Deuce August 3, 2008 at 1:37 AM #

    I’m considering it, Maggie. I really am.

    I’m seeing some fundamental, insurmountable differences in definition of terms, values, etc. Bint has referred to cultural differences in the way we are all approaching things, and I do see some of that, but I think there are also some fundamental ideological issues here that are keeping us from any sort of progress.

    I’m wondering, as I think about the claim that hate speech has taken place in this thread, whether the element of intent isn’t more important than it’s being made out to be. I don’t pretend to speak for any of the women who have commented before, but I don’t know that I think any of them is a racist, an ablist, or a misogynist. I don’t know them personally, but I can say, knowing what I know about radical feminist thought, that there is no room in it for any of the -isms we’re being accused of. There seem to be a lot of suspicions on all sides that are founded more on things that have happened before I entered the fray than they are on what is going on here, so I think I’d like to duck out of this particular argument.

    In any case, this is all related to the comic that is no longer here, and that I will no longer discuss, as I’ve said many times.

    This blog is not a place for feminists of different stripes to duke it out. It’s a place for me to tell people what I think and see how they react. It’s a place for me to pose questions to people I’d like to get a better understanding of. Right now I feel like I’m going in circles, and I’d rather not do it anymore.

  275. Maggie Hays August 3, 2008 at 1:48 AM #

    I can say, knowing what I know about radical feminist thought, that there is no room in it for any of the -isms we’re being accused of.

    True, there is none. All these unfair accusations thrown at radical feminists are totally unfounded.

  276. bint alshamsa August 3, 2008 at 2:08 AM #

    Maggie,

    the proof is in this thread. Are some women’s experiences less valid than yours? Either it’s ablist to call someone “fucking retarded” or it isn’t. Either it’s misogyny to call a woman a “shithead” or it isn’t. Either it’s racist to call women of color “losers” when they discuss racism or it isn’t. These things have all occurred. The only question is whether or not people are willing to examine this stuff and call it what it is. If you don’t think it’s misogyny to call women shitheads, et cetera then that’s fine with me, because that says more about you than it does the people who are being called this stuff.

  277. Nine Deuce August 3, 2008 at 2:16 AM #

    I think calling someone a shithead or a loser is rude and not cool, but I’m not ready say doing so is misogynistic or racist, especially in a context like this, in which no one has any way of knowing anyone’s ethnicity. I’d say that the people doing the name-calling would have said what they said to a man or a woman, regardless of race or ethnicity. While name-calling may not be commendable, I don’t think it is necessarily racist or misogynistic.

  278. bint alshamsa August 3, 2008 at 2:32 AM #

    Nine Deuce,

    I’m wondering, as I think about the claim that hate speech has taken place in this thread, whether the element of intent isn’t more important than it’s being made out to be. I don’t pretend to speak for any of the women who have commented before, but I don’t know that I think any of them is a racist, an ablist, or a misogynist. I don’t know them personally, but I can say, knowing what I know about radical feminist thought, that there is no room in it for any of the -isms we’re being accused of.

    You know, this idea about the intentions (as opposed to the results) of radical feminists has been discussed at length by women of color feminists (e.g. Audre Lorde, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Lee Maracle) time and time again. However, because radical feminism is so eurocentric, very few radical feminists are even aware of that fact. Many women of color such as Audre Lorde, Bernice Johnson Reagon, and Lee Maracle have discussed, the only time intent becomes more important than one’s actions is if you aren’t the one who is feeling the results of those actions. In other words, if someone does something sexist, ablist, classist, racist, et cetera, even if they do it with the best of intentions, that racism still has serious negative consequences for those who are on the receiving end of it and having good intentions doesn’t erase that fact.

    You know, when I first started studying feminism, I called myself a radical woman of color feminist. The idea of radical feminism, as taught to me by other women of color and white women, was one that I strongly identified with. That was until I learned that “radical feminism” isn’t just feminism on a radical level. “Radical feminism” is a particular school of thought with its very own advocates and adherents and history. That history includes a lot of that women–Jewish women, Black women, Latinas, NDN women–have experienced as racist, classist, ablist, and misogynist. And that is something that I just didn’t want to be a part of. I could wish that there really wasn’t any room for this stuff in radical feminism but history has proven otherwise. With regards to it being unfounded, well anyone who wants proof of this history can find it quite easily. It’s just a matter of whether folks are willing to examine their privilege or not.

  279. bint alshamsa August 3, 2008 at 2:48 AM #

    Nine Deuce,

    unfortunately, many of the women here do know each other’s ethnicity. If you look at where this stuff occurred, it was after ethnicity was pointed out. So, with that being the case, what do you call it? With regards to whether it’s misogyny, I think it might be helpful to consider what we would call it if a man called a woman this stuff. Would we call it misogyny for a man to call a woman stupid, a shit head, and a loser?

    This stuff isn’t occurring in a vacuum. Just like sex work, if we took it all out of the current system, a lot of things might not be as problematic to radical feminists. However, we ARE still in the current system so a lot of behaviors ARE problematic to many radical feminists. The same is true with these comments. If you took “fucking retarded” outside of the current ablist system that we live in, maybe it wouldn’t be as problematic, but the reality is we DO live in a world that is ablist just as it is sexist and racist and classist. So, should we just say this stuff isn’t cool and not commendable (as I agree it is) or should we call it what it is and try to understand why it’s that way?

    Why is it so easy for radical feminists (in general) to call for sex positive women to consider the system where this all occurs, yet resist it so much when women ask them to do the same with regards to their actions?

    Hey look, I’ve been called classist plenty of times. I’m a middle class American who is a stay at home mom and I’m in the third generation of my family that has attended college. I could say that there’s no way that I could be classist because I’m a woman and I’m a person of color and I’m not a property owner and the reason I am an at-home mom is because I’m disabled and I’m forced to rely on others for a lot of my basic needs. There are millions of ways that I could try to claim that I don’t have any REAL advantages compared to some of the other people I know. However, I don’t think it’s right to dismiss out of hand the idea that I could do or say something that is classist.

    It’s the same thing with saying or doing something racist or sexist or ablist. Dismissing the views of people in a power down position is something that privilege makes possible. It doesn’t mean they are a bad person with bad intentions. However, it does mean that there is a whole lot of privilege that is going unexamined and a whole lot of bigotry is being reinforced.

  280. Jen August 3, 2008 at 3:30 AM #

    Oh holy hell. Let’s all ignore what the point is and the entirety of the thread to concentrate on racism or ablism that may or may not be there.

    Seriously, do you have a point other than radical feminists are big poopy heads? Yeah, I used “retarded” in a politically incorrect way. Sorry, it’s a habit. I know it’s not nice to do, but get me really riled up and I mistakenly use phrases and words that were popular insults from my youth. That doesn’t make it right, but that’s what it is. I’m working on it.

    However, it’s extremely intellectually dishonest to take thousands of words of posts and focus on things that have absolutely nothing to do with the point at hand. That point, in case you missed it, is “pro-sex” feminists and sex work.

    I think the new rule is that you can talk about those things, or fuck off. But that’s just me. Because I am seriously fucking tired of seeing radical feminism being dragged through the mud by a bunch of asshats that don’t even bother to read what we write, and then blatantly mischaracterize everything we say so that it proves someone’s preconception of us as a bunch of fascist bitches.

    Nine Deuce is a fucking saint for putting up with this garbage. I personally would have closed this thread a very long time ago. It seems clear that the posters that stick around here are so desperate for talking points that they’ll outright lie about what we say or what we think, completely ignore our points, and then refuse to cede ground when they’ve been proven wrong or mistaken eleven different ways.

  281. Nine Deuce August 3, 2008 at 3:40 AM #

    bint – I don’t see that anyone’s ethnicity was pointed out before anyone made the comments you referred to earlier.

  282. Nine Deuce August 3, 2008 at 3:41 AM #

    This thread is going to have to close by default, because I’ll be away for the next 48 hours on planes, trains, and automobiles.

  283. bint alshamsa August 3, 2008 at 4:41 AM #

    July 29 at 1:36am Anthony Kennerson points out that he sees the picture as depicting people of color and identifies himself as a person of color.

    July 29 1:43am Renegade Evolution identifies herself as a Jewish woman who also saw the cartoon as racist.

    July 29 1:50am Gayle refers to those who have pointed out the racism as losers.

    July 29 2:14am Gayle says she thinks calling the picture racist is funny and pitiful.

    July 29 2:22am Belledame222 points out that some of the people saying that they are experiencing racism here are people of color and points out that several of us came to this same conclusion separately.

    Is there any need to go on? I mean, I could keep going all the way down to where I identified myself as a woman of color and the stuff that followed but I think it’s pretty clear from the times on the posts that people mentioned their ethnicities several times before the self-identified radical feminists on this board started with the shithead, loser, stupid, “fucking retarded” comments.

  284. Arantxa August 3, 2008 at 9:14 AM #

    With the cartoon gone, it’s easy to assume that it did depict Black and ethnic minority men in the way suggested above. As the cartoon doesn’t do this, I think it needs to be included. It’s also a good demonstration of how low some people will stoop to change the subject.

  285. Maggie Hays August 3, 2008 at 1:55 PM #

    Are some women’s experiences less valid than yours?

    No, I have NEVER said that and will never say that.

    And I have loads of friends who are women of color, BTW. Also, I have disabled people in my family, and I love them very much.

  286. Thene August 3, 2008 at 5:32 PM #

    I’m way late to the party here, but I found your questions interesting so I thought I’d post my answers. I’d be very surprised if none of these opinions have been aired somewhere upthread, though!

    * Do you believe that women would participate in sex work if we did not live in an oppressive, misogynistic culture? If so, what would the sex industry look like in a world in which women were seen as possessing the same humanity men do?

    I’d like to think that in that world, the sex industry would be more gender-balanced, but I’m not sure the sex industry works that way; the recent rise of the sex industry has correlated with a general improvement in the lives of women. The more economic and political power women gain, and the more aware women get about how to fight male oppression, the more men buy sex – and the more the buying of sex becomes a weird homosocial bonding ritual for them.

    So I really don’t know what to make of this question. Perhaps we’ll all, male and female, be buying more sex & pornography in the future rather than cultivating partnerships. My instinct as a (kinda) socialist feminist is that sex work is more related to economic oppression than to sexual oppression; while women are stuck working in the five Cs, for all they know their rights, men are going to buy sex, but a change in gender segregation in the workforce could alter that. Maybe it will lead to a smaller sex industry; maybe to a larger one that caters to women’s desires as well as men’s.

    * Do you believe that pornography and prostitution negatively affect some women’s lives (obviously some sex workers suffer abuse, but I am referring to women outside the sex industry here)? If not, why not? If so, does any of the responsibility for that lie with sex workers, or does it lie solely with the producers and pimps? Or somewhere else?

    I’m one of those sots who think that women who are not in sex work aren’t too affected by it. I’ll go further; men are far, far more affected by the sex industrythan women. We’re sat here talking about whether to take their precious porn away or not – I don’t regard this as a branch of feminist activism, honestly.

    The relationships I’ve had have not been affected by visual pornography or any other part of the sex industry. (The only close-to exception to that was the girlfriend I met via writing erotic fiction online). No one, male or female, has ever made unreasonable porn-based sexual demands of me. And while I’m sure porn and that weird male homosocial baggage it trails around has an effect on wider society, so does the entire rest of the media and it seems crazy to contemplate taking the precious porn away when the consumption of violent, sexist media outside of porn is so vast by comparison.

    * Why aren’t there more men out there arguing for women’s “right” to participate in sex work? What do you make of the fact that very few men call sex work a feminist choice? I’d also be happy to discuss the arguments of men who do make such a claim.

    That’s not the question men identify with, is it? What they’re maybe contemplating is their right to be johns – whether in terms of buying sex, or using pornography during a relationship, or any other kind of sex consumption. (And they are wondering; I’ve talked to a fair few of them about it. It’s just not a feminist question – it’s a question about blokes and the ethical void they see when they wonder where to draw the line).

    * Can women like Jenna Jameson be considered feminists for taking leadership roles in the production of pornography? Why or why not? If the answer is yes, how can we reconcile the negative effects pornography has on women’s lives with referring to a producer of mainstream pornography as a feminist?

    Being PM never made Thatcher a feminist, so I don’t see how leading a porn studio would automatically make Jameson a feminist. And nope, still not seeing these ‘negative effects’ here; they’ve not strayed into my life or the life of any other woman I’ve spoken of it with. It’s the men I know who’re the ones who care about porn.

    * How can sex work empower individual women when it requires that women submit to being objectified and performing acts for money rather than out of genuine desire to do them?

    I like baking. If someone paid me to bake a cake that I wouldn’t usually make, something with coconut shavings maybe, I wouldn’t feel too objectified. I like writing, too, and if someone paid me to write a story I wouldn’t usually want to follow, I wouldn’t feel too objectified. I’ve never had a job I enjoyed, or was proud of; I’ve just worked, where I can, taken money home, got by, been used; either I’m an object whatever someone pays me for, or I’m not an object, but just a person doing the best they can by day and agitating about it by night.

    * Alternatively, if one genuinely enjoys something and gets paid for it, does it become a feminist act?

    No.

    * In other words, does feminism exist to advance the cause of women as a whole or for individual women to use as a justification for their personal choices?

    Funnily enough, I’ve never seen this happen either. I’ve seen women complain that feminists are throwing them under the bus for one reason or another and explaining why this is unjustified, but I’ve never seen anyone saying that feminism justifies their choices.

    What that reverse does, though, is sometimes to say that when a woman faces a choice, there is a Good Feminist Answer and a Bad Nonfeminist Answer. This is bollocks; feminism fights to make the choice exist, but it doesn’t force you to do anything – it doesn’t force you to abort or not to, to vote for a woman or to vote for a man, to get divorced or to stay together, to keep your father’s name when you marry or to take a new one. I would like it if feminism made it so that no woman was ever forced to do sex work.

    Women who don’t make the Good Feminist Choice are not un-women, un-feminists, or evil harpies who are just using feminism to justify their choices. They’re just people making their own judgement calls. Saying that their judgement calls are TOTALLY WRONG because they’re not the Good Feminist Choices that have been picked out is very solipsistic. There are concerns in life other than whether one’s actions are Good Feminist Choices or not.

    * If sex work is a valid, feminist choice for individual women, what are we to make of women who say that their participation in sex work resulted from their dire poverty, drug addiction, etc. being exploited by pimps and porn producers?

    Another economic question. I know a lot of people who’ve been exploited by fuck-awful bosses, and none of them work in the sex industry. Drug addiction is an economic question and also a health one; drug addiction drives some people into the sex industry, into other illegal industries like gunrunning and the drugs trade itself, into benefit fraud, and eventually into hospital where they should have been all along.

    * I see sex work as a reductionist commodification of human sexuality. Do you think that the reduction of sex to a commodity has a negative effect on our ability to explore and express the potential of human sexuality? If not, why not?

    Yes, in the same way that the availability of fast food makes people less likely to be creative about their diets, and the availability of popular media makes people less likely to spend face-to-face time with each other. Sex work is not unique when it comes to the pitfalls of commodification.

    I will say, though, that just as commodified media can sometimes spark people into being more creative themselves (see how the news media manages to feed the blogosphere), commodified sex can lead to explorations and expressions at times. I’m still very, very glad of some of the erotica I wrote and read in my teens; commodified and clichéd or not, it let me take down a lot of mental blocks (esp. internalised homophobia) that had been previously preventing me from having a healthy sexuality. For people who aren’t straight and/or vanilla, seeing our sexual desires in media or porn can be the first time we realise we’re not alone, that our desires are as okay as everyone else’s, or even that there’s a name for our desires.

    * If you’re a sex-positive dude, tell me why. Why are you in such a huff to help women out? And why does it manifest as sex positivism? Why is your desire to help women out limited to arguing for their “right” to serve you sexually?

    Well, why is your desire to help women out limited to ending the sex industry? Why don’t you care about exploited women who work in other industries? And why do you only fight against porn and not all sexist media?

    No, that wasn’t a serious question. I am sure you do care about women in other industries and other mediums. I don’t assume that you don’t care just because your writing is largely about the sex industry. Strange that you can’t extend the same courtesy to others – at least, if yours was a serious question.

    I’ve never met a man who’s into pro-porn activism who restricts himself to that issue only. I know of a few male libertarians (notably Frank Fisher on CiF) who don’t care for feminism but support pro-porn activism because they see it as part of the anti-censorship wing of the libertarian movement. IMLX I’ve seen more single-issue male activists on the anti-porn side of the fence, many of whom are religious fanatics who hate women. As Esme Weatherwax said, it’s not whose side you’re on that counts, it’s which way you face.

    Why does this question define sex positive activism as reducing to pro-sex industry activism, anyway? Because it’s not a serious question? Virtually all sex-positive feminists of either gender step far beyond that; some (like me) rarely write about sex work, and put other sex-positive issues in their sights instead – sex education, queer issues, women’s writing about sex, sex in non-pornographic media… And that’s when our activism is even about sex at all; ime it generally isn’t, and the ‘sex-pos’ stance is only relevant on the odd occasion when it is about sex.

  287. Betty Boondoggle August 4, 2008 at 2:26 PM #

    ““Apologies, but a biased opinion does not equal fact”. And you’ll find that sex workers’ rights activists, and sex-positive feminists, are very vocal about changing the circumstances so that those who want out can get out.”

    Nice dodge. It’s not my “biased opinion” that a vast majority of “sex workers” don’t want to be there, that’s established fact. We’ve all seen the studies and I worked as a cop – I saw first hand that the majority don’t want to be there.

    And i said nothing about the willing helping those that aren’t, so nice strawman.

  288. Trin August 4, 2008 at 4:11 PM #

    “I don’t know them personally, but I can say, knowing what I know about radical feminist thought, that there is no room in it for any of the -isms we’re being accused of.”

    Thing is, though, Nine, I don’t think things work that way. Two reasons:

    1) Yeah, radical feminist theory is snazzy. (There are some parts of it I disagree with, but I’d be a fool to ignore the way that Mackinnon, Dworkin, and many others made violence against women visible in a culture that had shrouded it in “privacy.”) But what’s going on here is not just theory. What’s going on here is people talking. And someone can buy the theory *and* be an asshole. Or buy the theory and not *care* whether they’re matching the “thought”, really. (See the flip comment above that’s like “Oh, I used ‘retard’ in an insensitive way. OH NO!”) So whether the thought is good doesn’t really tell us whether the people are.

    2) As Bint points out, the theory isn’t really all that devoid of racism. Have a look at Audre Lorde. Think about why Walker coined the term “womanism.” Look at the women of color who’ve been alienated, driven off, and accused rather recently in this very blogosphere. What all that says, what all that’s about, is that many branches of feminism, including some radical feminisms, are working with a default idea of “woman” that is presumed to be white. This isn’t out of any malicious desire to behave in a racist way — it’s about privilege.

    And, well, I don’t think that means “let’s dump radical feminism” (my personal reasons for no longer identifying that way are all over the ‘sphere at present, so I won’t go into them here.) But I do think it means being aware that the critiques are out there, and it’s not just Bint derailing or being “difficult.” (Especially when there’s a precedent for ignoring black women as harsh, too angry, obsessed with race issues, divisive, etc. There’s a great Audre Lorde essay on anger that’s helpful to understand this — I think it’s called “The Uses of Anger”, maybe?)

    I actually do get why people are bristling at Bint right now. But honestly, I do think she’s right on this one. And I do, yeah, think part of the bristling is the dynamic Lorde describes.

    I’m not saying no one who disagrees with her “should” be annoyed with her. You feel how you feel. But I think it’s worth thinking about how those dynamics look, and show up, and people’s resistance to the idea that they might behave that way (“but we’re FEMINISTS! we’d never do THAT! you must be derailing!”)

  289. Trin August 4, 2008 at 4:14 PM #

    “For people who aren’t straight and/or vanilla, seeing our sexual desires in media or porn can be the first time we realise we’re not alone, that our desires are as okay as everyone else’s, or even that there’s a name for our desires.”

    Yes. This. The thing is, while many radical feminists are disgusted (rightly, sometimes) with the way sexuality is portrayed in porn, a lot of us are happy to be able to see sexualities like ours, even presented as fast food, at all.

    It’s like… if you’ve wanted a nice hamburger all your life, one of the good meaty juicy ones with the pepper and the fresh lettuce and the onions cooked right in, and you’ve never gotten to have any at all, ever, and then someone offers you a Big Mac…

    …well, is it what you wanted? No, but it might be close enough for you to take it — no, let me be more precise — to BUY it, and to be happy about that, and savor it in a way a Big Mac doesn’t “really” deserve.

  290. Forlock August 4, 2008 at 5:00 PM #

    >>”Buwahahahahaha. What a joke. Dude, go look up who authored the best laws and treatises on how to combat human trafficking, help women to exit prostitution if they want to leave, and who first explored how and why porn and prostitution, particularly the nasty varieties, are so massively popular in today’s society. It’s not going to be your beloved pornographers and empowered burlesque dancers.”>>

    Jen, there are NO LAWS that actually combat human-trafficking, because these laws erroneously presume that all sex workers are trafficked, and that all trafficked persons are sex workers. For example, these laws do nothing to help abused nannies and domestic workers, for example.

    And why this animus towards Diablo Cody? Maybe you just have a problem with a stripper daring to write a screenplay, and then getting an award for it. She didn’t know her place, right Jen?

  291. Nine Deuce August 4, 2008 at 11:30 PM #

    This thread is closed. It’s been hijacked and has devolved into a circus of unfounded accusations and personal attacks and I’m over it.

  292. Airdale August 6, 2008 at 8:57 PM #

    Sex positive indeed. I’ve heard women who are in miserable circumstances say how much they “love” something or “chose” to do this or that, that I can pretty much see behind what it’s about.

    If you in some awful job (sex work, salmon canning factory work), your pride dictates that you don’t want to really say how awful it is.

    Women lie to men all the time. Men believe the lies, or they want to believe that sex work is a choice for women, because it gets men off the hook.

    Why women argue for sex positive keep the porn machine going I think is complex. They might have been raped in childhood, they might have been “rewarded” by daddy for incest, they might have been told that they are “pretty” and ignored when they were intelligent.

    When you think how much women are indocrinated to please men all the time, I think it’s hard for a lot of women to actually have the presense of mind to “stop the pleasing” reflex. It’s one reason I like women only groups, because I hate watching some women fawn over men just because they are in the room. It is sickening to watch, but they feel “obligated to do it” just as women feel “obligated” to smile at their bosses!

    We don’t know who these porn supporting women are, or these sex positive types, we often don’t know who they are or what their life was really like.

    Women who have been “seasoned” since birth to please men and rewarded handsomely for this behavior, often might like to think of themselves as sex positive feminists. But like a lot of things women believe under male supremacy and heteropatriarchy, those thought might have been “implanted.” Just ask any lesbian in her 40s who was married to a man for over 20 years before she “suddenly” discovered her lesbian identity.

    That woman was brain washed into thinking that she had to marry a man to be normal. Hetero brain washing is everywhere in this culture, just as making women believe that they are “choosing” things is convenient to male supremacy.

    And be honest, the sex positive I love porn and prostitution gang won’t admit to this.

  293. Polly Styrene August 10, 2008 at 9:53 PM #

    Sorry to be completely irrelevant but is ‘Jerry’ on drugs?

    We see female owls using makeup. We see male birds dancing. We see animals and birds preening, and singing, and grooming.

    We see bonobos exchanging oral sex. We see capuchins inventing prostitution.

    Female owls using makeup???? What – like Estee Lauder you mean Jezza? How do they buy it, they don’t have any money?

    And how do the capuchins pay for the prostitution?

    And have you ever heard of Big gay Al’s big gay animal sanctuary? (ok that was only on South Park).

    Funniest thing I’ve ever read – no really.

  294. Red Raleigh, Red Raleigh April 22, 2009 at 8:18 AM #

    I started to answer your questions, then realized I should just say how I felt about pornography and relationships between women and men. I’ve left the (dull and boring) answers to the questions below for no reason. In my responses I attempt to answer for myself alone and from personal experience since it’s probably more informative than any guesses or conjectures I could come up with.

    This is what I really have to say. You may not like what I write, but at least I’m being honest.

    Basically this is the situation for me:

    Like it or not hormones rage. Most of the time I don’t want to deal with, or even think about, my sexual desires or drive. I have other shit to deal with. If my choice is between watching a few minutes of pornography a several times a week (And, yes, pornography is a useful tool because it let’s me get back to the rest of my life more quickly.) or constantly dealing with a real person, buying shit, dinner, movies, rings, clothes, cut flowers (puke), first-world-bullshit-fantasy-romance, emotions, having the chance of getting a disease or being charged with sexual assault, jail or… Fuck it all. I hate it. It’s too expensive and too much of a hassle.

    I don’t hate women, and I’m not angry at them. I hate this culture and the role it tells women to play. And I guess I am angry at the women who do play the role. I hate this culture and the role I’m expected to play in it. And I’m fucking pissed-off about it. Fuck. I didn’t realize how angry I was about all this.

    Someday, somehow I’d like to have a respectful relationship with a woman, but right now I want to pay off my student loans. Having sex with someone in a respectful or disrespectful manner probably isn’t going to help me get there. I apologize to the women who I’ve stepped on along the way by raising the page-counts on the free-sites where your clips of pornography in which you’re being abused are posted. At least you’re getting money for what you’re doing, whereas if I took the sleeze-bag fucker route and led women on and just to have sex with them for free, they’d be getting nothing but lies.

    Seriously, I don’t think men who watch porn or go to prostitutes are the worst offenders and the most disrespectful toward women; it’s the men who pretend they’re actually interested in a woman just to have sex with her. I guess another alternative would be to just straight-up say I wanted to have sex with someone, but that brings us back to the whole jail thing. Any alternatives I’m missing? Importing a woman from the third-world so she doesn’t have first-world expectations/entitlement? Disrespectful. Find the ‘perfect woman’ who wasn’t interested in material crap, was independent, and could acknowledge and be comfortable with the innate differences between the sexes? (For the record, I think women are generally more intelligent and physically weaker and men are dumber and stronger. Isn’t that how it should be?) Umm… Too much time, too much money getting there.

    Q: Do you believe that women would participate in sex work if we did not live in an oppressive, misogynistic culture? If so, what would the sex industry look like in a world in which women were seen as possessing the same humanity men do?
    A: As you mentioned, this argument is framed and assumes one believes we live in and oppressive, misogynistic culture. I do, and, no, women wouldn’t willingly participate in sex work. I don’t think it’s anyone’s dream to have their body abused in exchange for money. Some men must feel superior to women and therefore entitled to abuse them. (Is this why men abuse women? I don’t know.) If everyone saw women and men as equals, this would not take place.

    Q: Do you believe that pornography and prostitution negatively affect some women’s lives (obviously some sex workers suffer abuse, but I am referring to women outside the sex industry here)? If not, why not? If so, does any of the responsibility for that lie with sex workers, or does it lie solely with the producers and pimps? Or somewhere else?
    A: Yes, they not only negatively affect women’s lives, but also men’s lives. (I answer this in regard to men’s lives not because men are more important, but because it’s what I have experience with. Women’s first-hand experience would be far more valuable than my second-hand observations and guesses. It doesn’t really matter; it serves to prove the point that prostitution and pornography have a negative impact.) Men no longer need to take responsibility their sexual desires and deal with the consequences of their actions e.g., having children, seeing the signs of abuse on the woman’s body the next day, etc.; they can just go in for a ‘quicky’ and not give a thought about it. There’s no emotion.

    Back to answering your question. The pornography I’ve watched has shown me abusive things that, on my own, I probably would never have thought of doing to a woman. Not that I am out of control and going to go and abuse a woman, but after having seen these things, I’m now conscious of them. And thoughts come before actions. I don’t have any hard, personal or second-hand evidence, but I’m pretty sure some men have seen things in pornography and then acted them out themselves. Now I’m guessing, but prostitutes may receive the brunt of these actions since the men have no ties to them. Again, yes, pornography and prostitution, if in no other way than to allow men to shirk the responsibilities of their sexual actions, have a negative impact.

    It seems obvious some of the responsibility lies with the sex workers; if there were no women who were willing to have sex for money, there wouldn’t be much of an industry. And if the majority of women sex workers were forcibly put in their work, I think both men and women would reject it. (Or is this completely wrong? Is the majority of women sex workers already forced into their work?) Responsibility also lies with main-stream media and government.

    The media constantly objectifies women (and men) and strongly suggests we should all be with and desire a ‘body-beautiful’ someone. Well? What’s the quickest, easiest, safest, arguably least expensive way to get close to that picture-perfect someone? Pornography. It’s easy, and people for the most part seem pretty damn lazy. Next in line is a prostitute. The sex is fast, easy, and there’s probably a lot less chance of there being legal repercussions than if you have sex with someone who’s not exchanging money for use of their body.

    Government could ban pornography and prostitution (and also not turn a blind-eye to it). I agree with prosecuting rapists and people who sexually assault others, and I think it’s a pretty big detractor for some men (myself) to being sexually involved with a ‘real’ person. However, this leads me to look for other outlets for my sexual desires, specifically pornography.

    Q: Why aren’t there more men out there arguing for women’s “right” to participate in sex work? What do you make of the fact that very few men call sex work a feminist choice? I’d also be happy to discuss the arguments of men who do make such a claim.
    A: I don’t think people usually start arguing for their rights until they feel like they’re being encroached upon or severely limited. Currently, no one is clamping down and disallowing women from doing sex work. (Government might claim to, but everyone knows it’s a farce.)

    Q: Can women like Jenna Jameson be considered feminists for taking leadership roles in the production of pornography? Why or why not? If the answer is yes, how can we reconcile the negative effects pornography has on women’s lives with referring to a producer of mainstream pornography as a feminist?
    A: No. I don’t know her motivation, but I don’t think she’s motivated by women’s rights and equality. Most likely she’s soulless and just wants money.

    Q: How can sex work empower individual women when it requires that women submit to being objectified and performing acts for money rather than out of genuine desire to do them?
    A: It can’t. But I don’t think just because the stereotype is that men always enjoy/want sex all male sex workers necessarily have ‘genuine desire’ to perform the acts they do. It doesn’t seem like much pleasure would be had in sexual acts if you had to inject steroids (Not sure, but I think this is common practice.) into your penis just so you could keep an erection long enough to finish a photo shoot.

    Q: Alternatively, if one genuinely enjoys something and gets paid for it, does it become a feminist act? In other words, does feminism exist to advance the cause of women as a whole or for individual women to use as a justification for their personal choices?
    A: No. Enjoyment does not necessarily equate to feminism. I think there a two factors that determine if an action if feminist: 1) On a subjective level, does the person carrying out the action state as their motivation?, 2) Objectively, does the action seem to move the cause forward? i.e., does it raise the overall level of respect and treatment of women? As you’ve written–and regardless of whether or not they genuinely enjoy it–some women say their sex work is progressing the feminist movement and working toward equality. But if we look at this from an objective stand point, how could an act that clearly displays disrespect for a woman (again, whether that one woman enjoys it or not is irrelevant) improve the overall treatment of women? And as mentioned above, it plants the seed of disrespect in the viewers mind. Whether that seed grows and results in more further acts of disrespect is largely up to the viewer. But it’s still there.

    Q: If sex work is a valid, feminist choice for individual women, what are we to make of women who say that their participation in sex work resulted from their dire poverty, drug addiction, etc. being exploited by pimps and porn producers?
    A: This is a different scenario. I’ve chosen to basically sell my body in various ways (medical equipment testing, sperm donation (no it’s not enjoyable), modeling nude) for money. Believe me I did not want to do it. While in school, my choice was either to do these things or take out more loans. The scenarios you’ve listed are more dire than mine, but I think they all just become a personal choice between two evils. Sell your body in the moment to stave off death, hunger, debt, pain and deal with shame, or do nothing and just take whatever comes knowing you did have an option to do something about your situation. Action or inaction.

    Q: I see sex work as a reductionist commodification of human sexuality. Do you think that the reduction of sex to a commodity has a negative effect on our ability to explore and express the potential of human sexuality? If not, why not?
    A: Yes, it has a negative impact, but it’s all about utility in this age of harder, faster, strong, smarter, more, more, more, more, more. I could probably take the time to explore/express sexuality, but I don’t want to. I want to work, not spend money, not get diseases, and not go to jail, not have to think about it. In the end, the guilt of watching pornography every once in awhile is safer for me and less time consuming than dealing with a real person.

    • Nine Deuce April 22, 2009 at 11:28 PM #

      1 – If you don’t like what society tells women to be, don’t hate them, hate the influences that make them act that way, including but not limited to fairy tales, advertising, entertainment media, and porn. And what all of those things share in common is that they rely for their existence on gender roles, which are completely false and socially constructed. There is no inherent female desire for shoes, stupid movies, or diamonds. That shit is all a result of what women have been told all their lives being a (female) human is all about. For the same reason you don’t like what people try to tell you being male is about, and because you know that it’s sometimes hard to reject, cut women some slack. There’s way more pressure on us than you can imagine to fulfill a role, and most men won’t even notice you exist if you don’t do it. You’re expecting too much out of individual women when you expect them to shrug off decades of social conditioning and start acting, really, like men. That said, the few dudes who don’t like women to play at being “female” ought to think about what that means. It means they want to find women who reject gender roles, and that means you are probably looking for a feminist. Misogyny (which is what a lot of this sounds like) and feminists don’t usually mix, know what I’m saying?

      2 – When you say you think of women as nothing but a drain on your time and money, you’re saying you don’t think women are worth treating like human beings. That’s pretty gross. If you think women are just there to use you or accuse you of sexual assault (where the hell did you get that idea, anyway?), you are a misogynist. When you make the claim that you avoid women to avoid spending your money and getting accused of rape, you sound like an MRA, and that shit ain’t cool. As long as you are behaving respectfully and treating people like human beings, you don’t need to worry about getting accused of sexual predation, right?

      3 – The false dilemma: you have a choice that you didn’t mention at first. You said you could 1) use porn, 2) manipulate people into having sex with you and then dump them, 3) have sex with people who want to use you the same way you’d be using them, 4) deal with heinous hormones. What about using your imagination? No one said you aren’t allowed to wank, but why do you have to exploit other people in the process? Millions of people have managed to do it for millions of years without porn, so I’m sure you can figure it out. Porn tends to convince people that they need sexual stimulation way more often than they do, and even more often than they might want to with a real person. No one needs to be at it 4+ times a week, but porn, by making it so quick and easy to do so, make it more likely that people will feel like it’s something they need to do. If you aren’t into it enough to do it without resorting to porn, maybe you don’t really need to be doing it, right?

      4 – You will ruin your ability to deal with women sexually and emotionally by using porn, and it seems that’s already occurred to some extent. You may not be interested in a relationship right now, but it’d suck pretty bad if you met someone you were into and ended up being a shitty partner because you’d lost the ability to empathize with women or to relate to them on an intimate level. And you’ve already admitted that porn has introduced things into your mind that would not have occurred to you otherwise. All women know when the dude they’re with is into porn, because it drastically changes the way men approach sex, and it isn’t for the better.

      5 – Porn is a lame replacement for human contact. You might want to spend more time cultivating actual relationships with people and less over-theorizing and convincing yourself that you don’t have time to care about how other people feel. Try empathizing. Try to figure out why people do things you think suck, and have some perspective instead of just deciding women are idiots or an alien species.

      6 – You’re looking at porn very myopically, and it’s obviously self-serving. Yes, women participate in porn willingly, but why? Why would a woman do something that you clearly think is degrading and hence and odd choice? It’s because we have less options in life than men do, and because we’ve been taught all our lives that our chief worth lies in how many men we can get to want to fuck us. Don’t blame the women, blame the system.

  295. Laurelin April 22, 2009 at 1:57 PM #

    You don’t have time to treat women like human beings? Got it.

    Would’ve read more than just the last line of your comment, but hey! ain’t got time.

  296. Red Raleigh, Red Raleigh April 23, 2009 at 5:08 AM #

    Thanks for the helpful and informative response.

    1. I think you’re correct in saying I have no idea what pressures women experience in our society. But, clearly, we all have the power to make decisions on how we spend our time and money. There seems to be a pretty broad range in how people choose to lead their lives, from living in suburbia and driving absolutely everywhere, to living on a sustainable farm and raising all one’s own food. To a certain point, I think it’s reasonable to cut both men and women slack for the societal pressures they experience, but in the end, nearly everyone is in direct control of their lives and actions and could easily make the decision to bike instead of drive, recycle instead of throwing things in the trash or on the ground, compost food waste, not go to the mall on the weekend out of habit, etc., if only they were willing to make the slightest effort. Sure, point a finger at societal influences, but, in the end and on a human scale, it comes down to people choosing consciously choosing their actions or executing unconscious acts because they’re too lazy to change their habits. In this time of supposed economic and environmental crisis, it seems there are simple things one could do to contribute toward a better society.

    Extended cynical rant: I think most people are just really fucking lazy and are waiting for something magical to come down from the federal government to save them and let them continue driving everywhere (suddenly without petroleum). The chant ‘O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!’ seems to be just another excuse for people to not take responsibility for the impact of their lives and to do nothing. (Don’t get me wrong, I love Obama, but despite all the good things he’s accomplished already, it seems pretty clear he still faces a lot of resistance, and he not just suddenly, magically going to solve people’s problems.) People want issues to be solved for them without putting forth any effort. Do they not realize the hypocracy in the act of pumping gasoline directly from the hearts of Iraqi women and children into the tanks of their cars that have gigantic “BOYCOTT WAR” or “No Blood for Oil” stickers across the rear windows? And all so they can drive a mile to the grocery store! What the hell? Lazy and hypocritical pieces of shit. Take responsibility and get off yo’ ass. At least the drivers of Humvees are not pretending they’re not consuming oil.

    2. I’m not suggesting women are solely a drain of time and money. At this point in my life, I just don’t think it’s a good idea for me to be in a relationship, partially for financial reasons. As a result of societal expectations, I feel obligated to pay for things. I don’t actually have too much of a problem with this if I have plenty of money. Right now I don’t. You’re right; this is not a/the woman’s fault at all and really has nothing to do with her. I should heed my own advice and ignore these expectations and resulting feelings.

    I feel like I have fairly good reason to believe that at least some women want to use me for my body; I’ve had several direct offers of sex from women. Also, I don’t really know if it’s possible for anyone to separate their judgment of someone from their looks, but I’m often under the impression women do simply judge me based on looks. As for sexual assault, I have no real basis for this fear other than one of my friends from high school went to jail for it. In short, and like it or not, some women do just want to use men. Misogynist? Sure, call me whatever you want for me hating when women want to use me.

    3. I was including masturbation without pornography in the ‘dealing with hormones’ option. It seems to be either that or wet-dreams preceded by an intensifying drive for sex. I’m being a whiner, but the point is both of these options are more demanding of my time, attention, and emotions than masturbating to pornography. Thanks to your writing I’ve become more aware of the consequences of the latter. I’m not certain, but I may be able to muster the selflessness to masturbate without the aid of abused sex workers. I’m sure I’m well on my way to sainthood.

    4. It’s pretty impossible to be objective on this as I would be the subject of the damage, but I think you’re probably correct about the damaging effects.

    5. I agree completely with what you write. “Try to figure out why people do things you think suck.” Excellent idea. Planning to do this with the car driving thing.

    6. Regarding women having less options than men: I’ve never really seen this firsthand, but maybe I just wasn’t paying attention. However, even after moving to the South, from what I’ve seen so far just as many, or more, women are in positions of power and leadership than men. But I won’t go so far as to say women are treated equally; they’re definitely not. From what I’ve seen both men and women seem expect women to take the role of the caretaker in the workplace. This can range from purchasing and stocking food for the company kitchen (on their own time), to running a cash register for eight hours straight while three men stand around doing nothing, to being expected to do the cleaning duties.

    Rage on.

    • Nine Deuce April 23, 2009 at 12:00 PM #

      1. You’re sounding like a Libertarian, and that isn’t good. Sure, we’re all responsible for the decisions we make from the choices we have, but we aren’t always responsible for the choices we’re presented with. We don’t live in vacuums in which personal actions are all that matter. It’s a lot easier for a white guy to talk about doing shit for yourself and making choices than it is for a lot of other people. Should poor people just stop being poor? Like it or not, there are systemic and institutional factors that make it hard for even the bravest of people to resist the status quo.

      2. You hate them for wanting to use you, but what about you using them by proxy via porn? You take someone’s desire to use you as an affront to your humanity, as you should, but that should extend outward, too.

      3. “I may be able to muster the selflessness to masturbate without the aid of abused sex workers. I’m sure I’m well on my way to sainthood.” That sounds sarcastic. It isn’t selfless to masturbate without the aid of abused sex workers, it’s just not inhumane.

      5. As for the car thing, try to figure out why they don’t see past what they’re expected to see past. Our entire culture, as well as the advertising and marketing industries, are militating against it. It takes serious critical thinking skills to know why you shouldn’t do something everyone else is telling you to do. Same goes for gender roles, but multiplied by 1000.

      6. Women’s options are limited by the fact that no matter what we do, who wants to do us is more important. See the way people talk about women in the public eye versus the way they talk about men in similar positions.

      • syndicalist702 April 23, 2009 at 4:06 PM #

        “Sure, we’re all responsible for the decisions we make from the choices we have, but we aren’t always responsible for the choices we’re presented with. We don’t live in vacuums in which personal actions are all that matter. It’s a lot easier for a white guy to talk about doing shit for yourself and making choices than it is for a lot of other people. Should poor people just stop being poor? Like it or not, there are systemic and institutional factors that make it hard for even the bravest of people to resist the status quo.”

        Ding! Ding! Ding!

      • undercoverpunk April 23, 2009 at 6:43 PM #

        Your patience is truly admirable.

  297. kendallmck April 23, 2009 at 3:47 PM #

    I’ve noticed, because I can read, that there are an awful lot more women out there fighting for women’s “right” to get naked, get fucked, and have the whole thing taped than there are men doing so. Why might that be? Every time I get into a conversation about sex positivism or third wavism (coinage!) with a group of people (that doesn’t include any radical feminists), the men (even the ones who use porn) seem more likely, if they’re being honest, to agree with me that porn and prostitution exist in inherent conflict with feminism, whereas the women want to tell me I’m blowing it as a feminist because I’m excluding women who engage in sex work from feminism. I’ve even met a few women who have told me that I’m worse than men are because I’m trying to tell them what to do, because I’m trying to limit their choices, as opposed to the men, who are all about letting them exercise their freedom and express their sexuality. That’s a real knee slapper.

    I don’t disagree with this, nor do I think what I’m about to say is an excuse, but my little sociological, analytical brain kind of solved this one right away (made sense to me, anyway).

    I believe the reason this issue becomes so complicated and controversial among feminists and women, and the reason that many men are willing to quickly concede that porn and feminism don’t really jive is…drumroll, please…you’re asking these men about feminism (which they’re not all that invested in) and the actions of women (who they’re not), so it’s a lot easier for them to make a conclusive statement. It’s much easier to be black-and-white about a group of people you don’t belong to and a movement you don’t have any stake in. They’re able to say “yeah, I watch/engage with porn, even though it may not be the most empowering thing for women,” and not have their “sisterhood,” feminism, or plain ol’ self-worth called into question. Also, (heterosexual) men have the privilege of not having their sexuality, sexual behavior, and social status constantly analyzed, questioned, judged, etc. – it’s just the norm, the standard – so it’s much easier for them to ignore the complexities of sex, sex work, and feminism/misogyny.

    Also the fact that the majority of sex workers and porn stars (especially the ones in question) happen to be female mucks it up a bit. I’m hesitant to attempt tell any woman, especially one that I don’t know personally, that she’s not a feminist if she feels like she is or thinks she is (men, on the other hand, seem to have no problem telling a woman exactly what category she belongs in). I straddle the fence on this whole sex and sex work in feminism issue (obviously), so that could be why, but I also think part of it is that, as women and feminists, we know what it’s like to have labels you don’t agree with forced on you, and we don’t like it. At all.

    It just gets confusing and complicated. Obviously you know that there are women who are sex workers as well as women who, wrongly or rightly, watch porn and willingly engage in and enjoy what could be considered to be misogynist sexual practices, and also consider themselves feminists…and it typically doesn’t make a feminist feel all that great to be regarded as, or made to feel like, a co-conspirator in her own oppression – especially by another feminist, and especially when she’s doing these things voluntarily and feels as if she genuinely enjoys them. Again, I’m not saying that these women are or aren’t feminists, that this is wrong or right, that there isn’t an underlying element of coercion that these women aren’t willing to see, or that their “enjoyment” of these things is because of patriarchal conditioning. My real point here is that there are no men in this position having to defend themselves or even engage in this discussion.

    Anyway, long story short, without making any kind of value judgments about the situation, that’s why I believe men will admit what you said they’ll admit and women have a harder time coming to a consensus – our actions and our belief in social justice are being called into question – not theirs. Did that make sense? I feel like that might not have made sense. Damnitt. Also, I didn’t read the comments, so if anybody else already noted this…sorry.

  298. TerriStrange December 5, 2009 at 12:41 AM #

    Hey nine deuce, I’m a marxist-feminist and a fan of your blog. Not being a “fun” feminist I think its important to critique the oversexualization of our modern culture and would like to use the questions from this post of yours in a video and see what my subscribers have to say.

    If you’d like take a look at my site and see if you’d be comfortable with me using these questions to further the discussion on youtube. If not please let me know. Thank you ever so much for your blog and the effort you put into it, it is helping so many people.

    • Nine Deuce December 5, 2009 at 12:48 AM #

      Thanks for the compliment, and feel free. I’m always happy to hear about other anti-sexual capitalism feminists putting their voices out there to counteract the tidal wave of pro-porn bullshit inundating the internet.

  299. Miss Andrist December 5, 2009 at 1:35 AM #

    Hey Nine.

    I was a “choice” sex worker. I was an escort. Got paid $300 an hour. Lived in luxury apartments and contemplated suicide daily. I didn’t form addictions to drugs, but I certainly abused the hell out of them – the euphoria of speed, for example, or painkillers after being raped bloody and beaten black and blue. Just never the face, never permanently disfigured. I have PTSD and I hate males to this day. The prostitute sees humanity from the perspective of a human toilet. Anyone who uses either porn or prostitutes is a monster and as I have stated, should be drug into the street and shot.

    Any questions?

    The end.

    • Nine Deuce December 5, 2009 at 1:55 AM #

      Hi Miss Andrist and welcome. When I used that term, I didn’t really have someone like yourself in mind. I was thinking more of the people who come to my page constantly and tell me that they are sex workers and that they choose to be and that they like it and how dare I say there’s anything wrong with it. I am glad that there are people like you who are willing to tell their stories and let the world know that there is more to the story than the “happy hooker” image, and that there is real damage hiding behind the rosy picture a lot of people who call themselves sex positive paint for us.

  300. Miss Andrist December 5, 2009 at 2:12 AM #

    Hey ND, the first thing I have to say is, you and I have a lot in common. (Except I’m a Chicago punk. But, other than that.)

    The thing is, WHILE I was trapped thusly, I insisted on the same bullshit. Why? Because I couldn’t stand to be alive, otherwise. It was among the implements in my psychological toolbox that I relied on to keep from killing myself. Nobody wants to be a victim. Nobody wants to admit that they are being harmed. You don’t want to think of yourself as vulnerable, weak, being hurt – especially not when you are trapped in a situation in which you can only expect to further exploitation, harm and injury in both the near and far forecast. I can’t begin to list the cascade of negative updates to the self-image that become true when you finally admit that there’s nothing even remotely neutral (let alone positive) in being used as a public human toilet. It’s a psychological defense mechanism, and it’s extremely effective and therefore equally difficult to relinquish.

    Robert Jensen referred to this in his book, Getting Off. In relating the story of being at a porn convention speaking to the mother of the poor young woman, he describes (to his later shame and regret) demanding if the mother had wanted this for her daughter when her daughter was a little girl. He was ashamed of himself later, when he realized that in trying to get the mother to acknowledge that what was happening to her daughter was harmful and wrong, he was trying to get the mother to withdraw her support for her daughter, which would have been devastating. Really, what do those of us exploited have? We’ve got enough self-shame as an instinctive reaction to the way men treat us when we are thusly abused. So the insistence on sex-positivity of sex work from sex workers is actually a refusal to allow further stigmatization. Believe me. If you don’t, just ask them if they’d want their daughter to do have to do it, too. If you can find a single person who says yes, I’ll give you five bucks.

    I have no problems whatsoever condemning the users of these “services” monsters. And mind you, I was one of those so-called “high-class” escorts – aka, the sexual elite, who make up less than three percent of the sexually exploited and enslaved people out there. Check out http://www.prostitutionresearch.com (trigger) if you haven’t already (although it may make you want to just start stabbing people in the face and never stop.) It has numbers, charts, and studies on the people society cares about least: prostitutes.

  301. Immir March 6, 2010 at 3:28 AM #

    Crankosaur: “Most men are quiet about sex positivism because they know that when they go to a strip club with their friends, they’re not thinking about how empowered the strippers are but that they’re sluts/whores/etc. If the sex positive feminists actually stopped to think about what the vast majority of men feel about female sex workers, they may be less likely to dry hump guys for money”

    Exactly. If some women could read men’s minds they would think differently about the ‘power’ of their choices.

  302. Rando July 29, 2014 at 3:15 AM #

    Please forgive the old thread resurrection, but since Google lead me here I’ll answer as a sex-positive dude.
    > Do you believe that women would participate in sex work if we did not live in an oppressive, misogynistic culture? If so, what would the sex industry look like in a world in which women were seen as possessing the same humanity men do?
    A) If the sex industry would still be profitable in your scenario, it would still be full of grotesque niche porn, male or female, because that is what makes money.
    > Do you believe that pornography and prostitution negatively affect some women’s lives (obviously some sex workers suffer abuse, but I am referring to women outside the sex industry here)? If not, why not? If so, does any of the responsibility for that lie with sex workers, or does it lie solely with the producers and pimps? Or somewhere else?
    A) You’re asking whether the actions of people engaged in one activity could conceivably affect at least one person negatively who is not engaged in that activity. The answer is undoubtedly yes, but it’s quite possibly the stupidest question because you can’t possibly answer “no.”
    > Why aren’t there more men out there arguing for women’s “right” to participate in sex work? What do you make of the fact that very few men call sex work a feminist choice? I’d also be happy to discuss the arguments of men who do make such a claim.
    A) I’d argue that you can’t call a lack of absence to the affirmative a “fact that very few men call sex work a feminist choice.” As a corollary, I don’t believe in God but there a lot of people that do. If you can provide a source substantiating your claim, I’ll entertain a further discussion.
    > Can women like Jenna Jameson be considered feminists for taking leadership roles in the production of pornography?
    A) While I’m not sure why you’re asking men to define feminism for you, I would say it depends on her motives and actions and neither of those can be determined without asking her specifically.
    > How can sex work empower individual women when it requires that women submit to being objectified and performing acts for money rather than out of genuine desire to do them?
    A) Money is power, and if you ever talk to any of these women you’ll find out that a large number of them do enjoy it. The ones who do not find it empowering do not stick around for long.
    > Alternatively, if one genuinely enjoys [some specific sex act] and gets paid for it, does it become a feminist act? In other words, does feminism exist to advance the cause of women as a whole or for individual women to use as a justification for their personal choices?
    A) Again, why would you ask men this question? I’ll refer to the person’s intent again here.
    > If sex work is a valid, feminist choice for individual women, what are we to make of women who say that their participation in sex work resulted from their dire poverty, drug addiction, etc. being exploited by pimps and porn producers?
    A) It’s not feminist if it’s not a choice. There should be laws that don’t criminalize people for resorting to those measures, and social policies that discourage it to begin with.
    > I see sex work as a reductionist commodification of human sexuality. Do you think that the reduction of sex to a commodity has a negative effect on our ability to explore and express the potential of human sexuality? If not, why not?
    A) I don’t agree with your assertion, but if I did, I’d still say No, because for some people that’s the only way they can experience human sexuality.
    > If you’re a sex-positive dude, tell me why. Why are you in such a huff to help women out? And why does it manifest as sex positivism? Why is your desire to help women out limited to arguing for their “right” to serve you sexually?
    A) I’m not in a huff to do anything at all and quite frankly I resent the sentiment. I’m the oldest son of a single mother who helped raise two younger sisters. I want them all to be able to lead full and enriching lives and I see feminism and body-/sex-positivity as parts of the toolset required to do so.

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