Who is qualified to speak for ALL women in the sex industry?

14 Sep

Pretty sure that’s no one, right? I’ve been getting a lot of shit lately from pro-porn people for supposedly speaking on behalf of all women in porn, but I wonder who appointed them the spokespeople for everyone involved. I might be guilty of making some blanket statements (though I avoid the words “all” and “none” when I can), but I try to be cognizant of the fact that there are women for whom my statements aren’t true. There are, I know, women who choose to do every kind of sex work that exists. I’d have to be a complete fool to be unaware of that fact, because I’m bombarded every day with messages from pro-sex work bloggers who want to tell the world how stoked they are about what they do.  But are these women more qualified to speak on behalf of ALL sex workers than anyone else? I don’t think so, and the fact that they do so and then give me shit for purportedly doing so is kind of funny.  (I won’t even discuss the men who call themselves “pro-porn activists,” because the paternalism and glaringly obvious self-interest that drip off of their protestations make it unnecessary.)

The thing is, I don’t claim to be qualified to speak on behalf of anybody. I forcefully state my opinions and recount the observations from which they derive, but I’m not anyone’s spokesperson. Asshole men speak for women. I’ve probably made some gross generalizations in the past, but I’d like anyone to find a quote in any of my posts in the last year that makes any kind of claim that I speak on behalf of anyone.

But what about people who don’t get to have their voices heard? Who is going to speak for them? There are an awful lot of women in the sex industry without the wherewithal (computers, Internet access, writing skills, self-confidence, leisure time, etc.) to speak on their own behalf and whose opinions might differ from those who have chosen not only to do sex work, but to argue on behalf of the industry for their own gain (and who do have computers, Internet access, writing skills, self-confidence, leisure time, etc.). Am I allowed to speak on behalf of the women who e-mail me and tell me they used to strip, do porn, etc. and tell you that there are at least a former few sex workers who think there’s something wrong with the sex industry? Or should I forward their e-mails to porn producers and pimps and let them decide?

We know what pro-porn and pro-sex industry people think. The world is inundated with the views of those who profit from the porn industry and the people who think that anti-woman propaganda and women’s sexual servitude are liberating and awesome. But what about those who disagree? What about the sex workers who, given the choice, wouldn’t be sex workers?

So, to those of you who tell me I have no place speaking for all sex workers (which I don’t disagree with at all), I won’t. But if you’re going to do so, how about we get a little more accurate portrayal?

Or is kicking the truth about sex workers’ lives not what this is really about? Is accusing me of “speaking for” women in porn just a derailing tactic designed to distract people from the point (that porn and the sex industry on balance are a detriment to women’s lives) by calling me a bad feminist or claiming that I’m dehumanizing women in porn just as much as the men who get off on seeing them degraded are? Lunchtime. A red herring burrito awaits me.

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373 Responses to “Who is qualified to speak for ALL women in the sex industry?”

  1. James September 14, 2009 at 8:32 PM #

    (I won’t even discuss the men who call themselves “pro-porn activists,” because the paternalism and glaringly obvious self-interest that drip off of their protestations make it unnecessary.)

    I’d do the whole reminding-you-that-gay-porn-also-exists thing, but I imagine we’ve both become pretty bored of that by now. Instead:

    Good post, esp. since it raises one of the most distinctive & indisputably potent privileges there is: literacy. The literate form an astoundingly advantaged elite, with those not within its ranks not only the most disadvantaged in the world, but also incapable of marshaling adequate protest, by the very nature of their condition.

    I can see how the most exploited sex workers being starved of funds, their host language and time would indeed skew things away a representative sampling being accessible via the blogopolis. It is always foolish to try and use websites or blogs to discern such things, though: they are forged almost solely by a minority of people, namely those who enjoy writing. Whether they’re eloquent or not is another matter, they all have enough fun typing up their views to do that for free (I’m excluding the roomful of professional bloggers out there because…There’s a roomful of them. If that many.)

    It distorts stuff most predictably.

    • Nine Deuce September 14, 2009 at 8:33 PM #

      How does gay porn contradict that?

      • James September 14, 2009 at 8:36 PM #

        I don’t see how someone who’s a “pro-porn activist” and works in gay porn is really being paternalistic? Or that self-interested, tbh.

        • Nine Deuce September 14, 2009 at 8:38 PM #

          Well, if it were a male porn producer speaking on behalf of porn performers (like the dude I was thinking of when I wrote that)…

          • James September 14, 2009 at 8:43 PM #

            This is the problem with pedants: we’re over-imaginative. I don’t know if a gay porn actor “pro-porn” activist even exists. For all I know about this topic, they could be a being which dwells purely inside my head. I was just being annoying, please carry on.

  2. Andrew September 14, 2009 at 8:41 PM #

    This problem would arise in any debate between two competing views. (Who really speaks for whom is always an issue). What makes it particularly important here is that women being spoken for is part of the problem.

    One way to get around this is to suggest that what women in the industry thing is irrelevant. The problem is the product, not the participants, and if the product is bad then the participants are culpable. This has potential problems for infringing on the rights of women to do what they like, but it does not involve an issue about whom is speaking for whom.

    Porn is inherently patriarchal. This is arguably what makes it so attractive to its consumers. Being a willing participant or finding it empowering does not free somebody of culpability simple because they are a woman.

    • Nine Deuce September 14, 2009 at 8:43 PM #

      Not all of the participants can be considered culpable, as there are people who are involved in it unwillingly. But other than that, we are sort of in agreement here.

      • Andrew September 14, 2009 at 10:22 PM #

        I think what really might be missing here is people’s comfortability with disagreement. It’s sometimes taken for granted that people who feel like they are on the “right” side of an issue all have to be in accordance. This isn’t necessarily true. Personally, I agree with your structural take on the system. I also agree with the culpability of the willing participants (assuming they are interested in disassembling the patriarchy).

        Women who don’t have the same underpinnings behind their feminist leaning though might see any choice as positive and empowering, even if it’s one between girl on girl or golden showers. They may be right in this inference since a world in which women didn’t even have this choice is not that hard to imagine.

        I think the forest is being lost for the trees because women are emphasizing their feminist credentials over their feminist goals. The best way to resolve this, ultimately, is to broaden the issue wider and wider so the debate encompasses everyone and a consensus can emerge.

        In short, nobody speaks for everybody, everyone should speak for themselves. You (Nine Deuce) should feel free to come to the conclusions about porn that you come to without worrying about if your speaking for pro-porn women, activists, etc. If they disagree they can speak for themselves, if they do not then nobody is hurt.

  3. jackie September 14, 2009 at 9:25 PM #

    i was one of the women who emailed you stating that i had recently quit the sex industry, and i couldn’t be happier. (for the record, your blog had a part in giving me the courage and motivation to move on and realize that the money is not worth the emotional pain, so thank you.)

    i worked as a stripper for the past three years. when i first started, i was stoked on my job and i felt “empowered” and in control. it didn’t take me more than a year to get over that outlook. i grew tired of being a sexual object, some real life sex doll that had to conform to each man’s fantasy. it’s emotionally draining. for a while, i would somehow switch my brain off whenever i would go into work just for the sake of making money. but towards the end (the last six months), i could hardly even force myself to show up at work, and i would spend my entire night sitting at the bar or hiding in the dressing room. i couldn’t bring myself to dance for these men, and the money meant nothing to me. i’m thrilled to be done.

    the strip club is a depressing place. i’ve seen countless girl comes in, eighteen and naive and “innocent”, and it doesn’t take them long to go the opposite direction…prostitution, alcohol, drugs, etc. it’s usual for dancers, even staff, to become a slave to the money and feel trapped (that’s how i felt). depressing. i really can’t express how happy i am to be done with it.

  4. polarcontrol September 14, 2009 at 9:30 PM #

    I’ve read some of the comment threads in this blog that display this pro-porn mania.
    I wonder why are especially those who themselves work in the sex industry so eager to support it.
    I mean, even if their personal experience is positive, why the lack of worry for those who might be exploited and the denial of the wider harm caused (indirectly) by pornography?

    (When I worked in the catering business -and was content enough as to conditions of work etc- I was still aware of the fact that a lot of folks, mainly foreigners in vulnerable positions, were exploited and taken advantage of in the business. I found this unacceptable and tried to raise my voice about the issue whenever possible.
    Okay, bad analogy perhaps, but really, for those who do sex work/work in the porn idustry: Do you see any of this exploitation and violence that anti-porn people talk about happen? Do you not experience at all the ethos of (women’s) degradation and humiliation that anti-porn people see in porn? Do you know/hear about cases of atrocious exploitation as insiders of the industry? Do you see any of the more indirect harm caused by pornography? Or is your work and life just so far away from all these things?)

    • jackie September 14, 2009 at 11:11 PM #

      i can’t speak for the porn industry so much, but as far as the strip club world i saw it happen constantly. strip club managers belittling/degrading their employees/dancers, pimp “boyfriends” forcing their dancer girlfriends to work and hand over their money, club bouncers letting customers get away with things that are against the rules (verbal abuse, unwanted touching, etc)… i could go on.

      i used to think stripping was empowering because men would give me loads of cash just for being a hot girl. i felt as if i was exploiting men. these lonely men would come into the club and pay me just to keep them company, talk to them, pretend to like them, dance for them, whatever. but like i said in my previous comment, it didn’t take long for me to realize that there is nothing empowering about spreading open my vagina for a stranger for a dollar.

      in my opinion, i am confident in saying that the majority of sex workers wouldn’t be doing sex work if it wasn’t for the money.

      • James September 14, 2009 at 11:17 PM #

        I know this is one of those “standard line” things, but are there any jobs that that isn’t true of?

        • jackie September 15, 2009 at 1:20 AM #

          haha. that’s half true.

          BUT for example, my sister is a hair stylist. she LIKES doing hair. i wasn’t a stripper because i enjoyed showing my vagina and rubbing my boobs on perverts. you know?

          now that i quit dancing, i work at a bar selling beer. the money hardly compares, but i’m MUCH happier.

          • James September 15, 2009 at 9:50 AM #

            I get you.

    • winter_lights September 15, 2009 at 3:58 PM #

      “I wonder why are especially those who themselves work in the sex industry so eager to support it.”

      That’s an odd way of putting it. If someone was saying that your job was the root of various evils, and you felt it wasn’t so, wouldn’t you be inclined to speak up about it?

      (There’s also things like the attempt by various people in California to force condom usage in porn, which could be a major threat to performer’s health and safety. I can’t blame anyone for being a bit twitchy when something like that’s going on.)

      I myself am not in the sex industry, but imagine that many of the people who are don’t see the exploitation that happens as endemic, and would rather see the focus on eliminating the exploitation than eliminating the sex industry. (Much like how, in your analogy, you didn’t call for the end of the catering business.)

      • Michelle September 15, 2009 at 10:03 PM #

        I think a lot of women who are in the industry (and I’m not including feminist porn or less degrading porn because I know nothing about it – the only porn my bf’s ever had was degrading) are going to claim it’s all good and empowering because if they actually speak the truth about what they are experiencing, they won’t get booked.
        You think a contestant for America’s Next Top Model would win if she started speaking about how degrading that industry is?
        Women who are still in porn have more reasons to speak highly of it than anyone else…
        One of the problems with the “empowerment” argument is that it’s over-used. I have problems at my job, there are things that bother me about my job and I don’t HIDE those problems from the world. It just seems like everyone working in mainstream porn wants to brush all the negatives under the rug and keep it from public minds. Which makes me even more skeptical. Needless to say, as well, I’ve worked minimum wage jobs in the past and as degrading as those jobs were – I was never asked to lick shit off the toilet.

        • RenegadeEvolution September 15, 2009 at 10:24 PM #

          Ah hah, the old you cannot believe women in porn because if they say one wrong thing they will never work again theory!

          Only, a lot of women in porn have done just that and are still working. Tera Patrick, Sasha Grey, Belladonna, Nina Hartley and Jenna herself all come to mind.

          I agree with you on the empowerment argument though. It is overused. Most people (porn folk included) find their jobs make them feel “empaychecked”. And sure, having money can lead to other forms of empowerment, but working, the actual act of having a job itself, no matter what that is? I tend to think the empowerment word is thrown around way too much.

          • James September 16, 2009 at 9:10 AM #

            If you meant the ABC Primetime thing re: Belladonna, then I should point out that apparently that was pretty heavily distorted. She’s said repeatedly they slanted it to make her look anti-porn, refusing a second interview on the grounds that she was worried they’d do it again.

            If you meant something else then nm, she has got quite a bit to complain about.

          • SheHasNoName October 29, 2009 at 5:18 AM #

            They are also all famous. For your run-of the-mill person in porn (hardly a pornstar) if you admit to how bad it is then the best hope is you won’t work again, the worst is that you will get seriously hurt. I was stupid enough to complain once and got sexually assaulted to “teach [me] how to love it”.

            • Ren October 29, 2009 at 12:13 PM #

              Speak for yourself. I’m not famous, and I’ve not had those problems. I am not saying such things haven’t happened to others, but what is true for one is not true for all.

            • Laurelin October 29, 2009 at 4:14 PM #

              I’m sorry that that was done to you. I hope you are doing okay.

  5. RenegadeEvolution September 15, 2009 at 1:21 AM #

    ND: I don’t think any one woman in the sex biz speaks for all of them, and I have said as much repeatedly. But you (and others) do make a lot of “The Women in Porn Are” statements and yeah, it gets old. I even completely understand why you and others do it. 100% completely get it…but nah, I do not like it. Never have, never will. Anyone who is actually interested in hearing a variety of voices with all kinds of opinions and experiences can find them fairly easily- in books, on the news, in blogs- all over the place…pro, anti, undecided. And yep, everyone in the world is perfectly able to have an opinion on porn itself….but when people do the whole “women in porn are…” when they have not done the job themselves…

    Well, I feel it is a lot like me saying (insert marginalized group I am not a part of here) when I am not part of that group and have no idea what their lives are like because I’ve not been there. And often, a lot of those people can speak just fine about their varied experiences brilliantly without anyones help. Or assumptions.

    • Nine Deuce September 15, 2009 at 1:51 AM #

      But I’m not speaking about your experiences. I’m speaking about the way things look to the outside observer. Whether you feel abused or not, if you’re doing porn in which you are meant to look as if you’re being abused, that’s the part I care about. I care about the fact that people who make porn both serve and create misogynistic desires in their customers. Of course I care if women are being abused in the making of porn, but for those of you who don’t feel abused, that’s your deal. It’s the product that bothers me at that point, and the demand for it especially (a demand that I think is fueled both by widespread misogyny and by the porn industry’s own actions in trying to create the next most misogynist image in order to compete for viewers).

      • RenegadeEvolution September 15, 2009 at 2:47 AM #

        ND: Then you really do need to be a lot more specific when framing your concern in that manner. Even then it will be tricky, because of the wide realm of different tastes in human sexuality. I mean, you know for a fact via your own experiences here that if you say “the visual depiction of sexual act X is degrading “…well, a whole lot of women are not going to agree with you.

        And when you make statements like “women in porn are treated like trash” and “thus ensuring pornographers a life time of billion-dollar profits on the backs of the women they use and abuse in the making of their product”…well, it sure sounds like you are talking for the women in pornography…which is presumptive as hell even if that is how it DOES look to you as an outside observer. You have no idea if the women in porn feel used and abused or whatever else unless you ask them. Some may, others may not, but to say they are because that is how you observe it or assume that is how they feel? Well yeah, I do have a problem with that.

  6. redmegaera September 15, 2009 at 2:32 AM #

    It’s also worth remembering that a lot of women who aren’t involved in the production of pornography are very much experienced with the ways in which pornography is used by their male partners- either as a tool for enacting sexual fantasies or abuse, a substitute for intimate relationships, a conduit for hegemonic, misogynistic models of sexuality, an essentially benign mastubatory aid, a kind of Foucauldian apparatus for producing docile female bodies, a bit of harmless fun etc. When radical feminists critique pornography they’re not just talking about women in systems of prostitution, they’re talking about how the idea of prostition affects all women, including themselves.

    • RenegadeEvolution September 15, 2009 at 2:50 AM #

      redmegaera:

      Yep. I remember that. However, I am pretty sure I could get a whole lot of women, in the sex industry and outside it, to do critiques on how the ideas of radical feminism are harmful to all women, including themselves. Which is pretty unfortunate really, but entirely true.

      • Nine Deuce September 15, 2009 at 3:00 AM #

        How much damage is radical feminism doing to those women right now? And I mean actual — versus the scary bullshit version these people often trot out (if I get called anti-sex one more time…) — radical feminism. If we radical feminists get our way, what happens? Patriarchy disappears? Gender roles disappear? Rape stops? I don’t want to hear one word about anything getting outlawed or anyone’s idea of sexuality being forced on anyone else, because that’s a dishonest representation of what radical feminism is about.

        But that’s all hypothetical, while the porn industry and the damage it does are real.

        • RenegadeEvolution September 15, 2009 at 3:12 AM #

          Meh, I don’t think you are anti-sex.

          I’ve been threatened by a radical feminist. Jill Brenneman could tell you about her life pretty much being trashed by radical feminists, as well as threatened. A great many Swedish Sex Workers have spoken out about how the Swedish Model has made their lives a whole lot more difficult. Am I saying this is the work or intent of all radical feminists? Absolutely not, but it happens. And it causes damage.

          I also think that often times the arguments surrounding choice, consent, desire, and other things are damaging. No, YOU specifically are not trying to out law anything, however, there is a tendancy in some radical feminist circles to deny other womens ability to make choices, endlessly call for examination (as if such things have never happened) so on, so forth, and yes, I think this can be and have seen that it is damaging to other women.

          • Nine Deuce September 15, 2009 at 4:59 PM #

            Who threatened you? Did you actually feel threatened? I don’t know Jill Brenneman, but how exactly has her life been trashed? As to Swedish sex workers, what’s the problem? Has demand dried up a bit? That’s the whole point of that model. And as to the issue of people wanting to outlaw things, I keep hearing that there are “some radfems” who want to do X, but I never really hear who they are, what it is they’ve proposed, etc. And you can point your finger at me as far as the examination thing goes, because I do recommend it to everyone. We do, after all, live in an oppressive system, and it’s incumbent upon all of us who give a shit about that to decide whether we’re contributing to it or not.

            • James September 15, 2009 at 5:27 PM #

              My my, a victim of persecution speaks out and they are immediately snarled at. Now what does this remind me of?

              • Nine Deuce September 15, 2009 at 5:34 PM #

                James, you don’t know what you’re talking about. There are long-standing fights between radical feminists and certain people Ren knows, and I’m asking her to be more specific if she’s going to make claims that radfem X did X.

            • Nine Deuce September 15, 2009 at 10:35 PM #

              What did Stormy threaten to do? What specifically were you accused of doing? Where? (I’m trying to get shit straight here; I keep hearing about this or that incident that I wasn’t there for, so I want people here at least to be clear on what’s being talked about.)

              I’ll wait and see if Jill wants to speak to the bit about her.

              Do you have any links for Heart and Maggie saying that? I of course invite both of them to share their opinions on this matter and promise to enforce my comment policy.

              I’m the only one I hear telling people to examine, and I’m down to examine whatever anyone asks me to, provided it’s done honestly.

              • delphyne September 16, 2009 at 3:00 PM #

                Are you seriously setting up your blog as a place for anti-feminists and sex industry activists to make accusations against radical feminists, which radical feminists then have to come and defend themselves against Nine Deuce?

                This is not right.

                You are not a judge here. You have no right to put yourself in that position, and you have no right to encourage attacks and slanders against other radical feminists.

                • Nine Deuce September 16, 2009 at 3:20 PM #

                  I asked her to be specific because I thought the whole “some radical feminist did something bad to me, but I won’t say what” thing was a bit unfair. I’m not encouraging attacks, I’m asking people to come out and say what they’re talking about instead of making vague accusations. I’m doing my best here. I am tired of people misrepresenting radical feminism, claiming radical feminists think this or that without any evidence, claiming a radical feminist did something or other with no evidence, so I thought the best move would be to require people to be specific. My intent isn’t to act as a judge but rather just to not let people make nebulous claims. I thought it a bit absurd to hear someone say they were more threatened by radical feminists than X, so I thought the best thing would be to ask people to explain themselves.

                  • Faith September 16, 2009 at 3:30 PM #

                    “I am tired of people misrepresenting radical feminism, claiming radical feminists think this or that without any evidence, claiming a radical feminist did something or other with no evidence, so I thought the best move would be to require people to be specific.”

                    While I agree that Ren has some legitimate beef with certain people on the internet, I don’t believe that there is any chance of reconciliation between the “pro-porn” peeps and those of us who speak out against the sex industry. Even if they had absolutely no dirt whatsoever to sling, they would still be ranting and raving like lunatics. Their side has been extraordinarily vicious to radical/anti-porn feminists. They are ultimately mostly bullies who want to nothing more than to see the anti-porn feminists silenced.

                    It doesn’t matter what you do or say, 9-2. They will keep attacking you and anyone who speaks out against the sex industry.

                    • Nine Deuce September 16, 2009 at 3:32 PM #

                      I don’t disagree at all. I was just trying to counter the “radical feminists are just as bad as ______” argument, which I may not have approached properly. I don’t want to open old fights or attempt to force a reconciliation, because I know it’s unwise and counterproductive.

                  • buggle September 16, 2009 at 3:34 PM #

                    But you just gave her a platform to spread her lies and vitriol. Why not just say something like “no personal attacks” and not approve her comment? Why would you let her trash talk radical feminists, especially knowing there is a long and bad history? I just don’t get it.

                    • Nine Deuce September 16, 2009 at 3:39 PM #

                      Alright, I’ll delete it. I don’t want to open old wounds or to allow one side to represent the story without the other there to defend itself.

                  • delphyne September 16, 2009 at 4:15 PM #

                    You have to run the your blog the way you see fit ND, but if you want to start the blog wars up again, this is the way to go – encourage RE to make attacks on rad fems which then require rad fems to defend themselves. It was hellish two or three years ago, and I can’t imagine it would be much more fun if we all got into it again now.

                    There’s a reason that most of us agreed to stay the hell away from each other. There’s also a reason that a whole lot of anti-porn, anti sex industry bloggers left the internet or hardly blog at all any more. The attacks were just too much to bear.

                  • RenegadeEvolution September 16, 2009 at 7:44 PM #

                    ND: If you are going to delete the comment where I provided the proof that you asked for, the least you could do is make sure your “no personal attacks” rule goes both ways. I linked what was said so you could read it and other peoples words would show what they said- what I’ve said is still all there too. Yet, here folk are, feeling free to attack myself and other “pro-porn” people at will and call us all kinds of things.

                    You asked for proof, I gave it, and I did so without talking about how horrible and vicious everyone- and I mean everyone- involved was. Sure enough, your blog, your rules…but letting folk call me and others every nasty thing they want to when their hands sure as hell are not clean is not exactly a great way to explain how harmless radical feminism is to people.

                    And I just love how once again the threats and lies are glossed over in the name of “no blog wars”. Maybe people should have thought of that before they lied and threatened.

                    • Nine Deuce September 16, 2009 at 7:54 PM #

                      OK, this is the last comment I’m putting up with regard to this subject. There’ll be no rehashing of old blog wars on my site, nor will a new one be started. I’d like everyone on all sides to please comment on what they think about the issues raised in the post. I still want to hear more from people on that, radical feminists and others alike.

        • RenegadeEvolution September 15, 2009 at 3:23 AM #

          and this might sound odd, but it seems to me there are some radical feminists who do not really want to see gender roles, or at least various aspects of them, disappear.

          • James September 15, 2009 at 10:13 AM #

            To this, amen.

            It’s pretty peculiar to me, I’d have thought that the entire “striking at the root” thing would have made the gender binary a target never to be missed. I think it’s partially because of the pure power of that trope in our culture, perhaps partially also due to the history of feminism.

            Here in Britain there were trends such as the Suffragettes & New Feminists who in their own diverging ways both sought to emphasise, and indeed perhaps even exacerbate, gender differences, rather than stress the case for equality. In the case of the Suffragettes it was an obvious sex war thing (“Votes for Women & Chastity for Men”, anyone? Men & their VD as “The Scourge”, etc…), with the New Feminists it was an attempt to purge feminism of its radical implications and just forge an interest group for women, pure & simple.

            Despite having almost entirely inverted aims, though, both groups depended upon gender roles sticking around, neither were really seeking to advance equality (and there were groups who were explicitly trying to). Indeed their leader, Eleanor Rathbone (one of the most successful difference feminists in history) thought that that was an impossibility. You couldn’t get women to behave like men, women were another kind of human being and a movement which would benefit them wouldn’t be one that would make them forget that, it would be one that supported families. The role of feminism should be to better the position of women in their inalienable roles: as mothers & housewives. Unsurprisingly, this is a strain of feminism which the Vatican has lately shown quite some enthusiasm for.

            Eventually the New Fems. were defeated by the Six Point Group & the Suffragettes figured that they could get more men killed by handing out white flowers to all males who weren’t at the front throughout the First World War than in any sex based conflict the Pankhurts could orchestrate (leaving the horrifically underappreciated Suffragists to finally seal the deal with regards the entire “votes” thing).

            But it sort of left a basis within the tradition for those who weren’t really anti-binary at all. Hence Germaine Greer calling transexuals “delusional” without becoming an absolute outcast amongst British feminists, etc, etc. I don’t know how things worked out in America. I’d imagine similarly.

            • polly styrene September 16, 2009 at 7:44 PM #

              Sorry for un peu de thread hijack here ND, but, in response to James, it seems like a lot of leading transactivists are calling trans people delusional themselves.

              http://jasperswardrobe.wordpress.com/2009/09/16/you-degender-me-i-degender-you/

              Fascinating: so – the trans lobby tell us – your gender is what makes you a woman. But you’re only a REAL woman if you “display outward signs of being transgender”.

              Que? I display outward signs of being transgender…..people often call me ‘sir’.

              Now I’m sorry folks but if *identifying* as a woman is what makes you a woman then anyone who says they identify as a woman is a woman. End of.

              You can’t have it both ways….

              • Bean September 23, 2009 at 7:51 AM #

                “Leading” buh? “Leading” wha? Those are…um, WordPress blogs? What makes them leaders of any sort?

                If I wanted to find people of any group acting like kooks just to bolster my own already-negative impression of said group…

                …You know, I’m sure that’s pretty easy.

                • polly styrene September 23, 2009 at 7:07 PM #

                  Leading in the sense of people who get a lot of airtime on t’internetz on the subject of ‘transphobia’ Bean. Because that’s what we’re doing here, arguing on t’internetz. Of course if you don’t like/aren’t interested in arguing on t’internetz, it does beg the question of why you’re reading this particular wordpress blog.

                  • Bean September 23, 2009 at 11:13 PM #

                    Well, hell. I know an awful lot of people who get an awful lot of airtime on the internet on various issues. Some I admire; others disgust me.

                    But I wouldn’t consider any of them “leaders.”

                    Unless I’m misunderstanding something. These people been in the news lately? An articles on them in queer press?

                    If so, I withdraw my raised eyebrow. If not, suggesting that they’re “leaders” of the trans community as some sort of attempt to discredit trans people is rather disingenuous at best.

          • truthvscompliance September 21, 2009 at 6:07 PM #

            You make a lot of generalizations about anti-porn feminists. What is up with that?
            I’m actually quite against gender roles – especially the same kind of gender stereotypes re-hashed over and over again in mainstream porn.

      • redmegaera September 15, 2009 at 3:15 AM #

        You could! There’s no shortage of bloggers, feminist or otherwise, who believe Andrea Dworkin is more oppressive than capitalist patriarchy, white supremacy and the federal government combined. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that those critiques are credible or would stand up to critical interrogation. My point was that if personal experience is supposed to be the number one criteria for authentic, authoritative knowledge on a subject, then there are plenty of women who, while they may or may have experience in the sex “industry”, base their critiques on personal experience. Personally, I find that argument to be well-intentioned but somewhat problematic…but then that’s just me!

        • RenegadeEvolution September 15, 2009 at 5:33 AM #

          RM: I think Dworkin is over demonized myself. So are a whole lot of people, actually. That does not mean some radical feminists have not done some seriously shady shit that has harmed other women.

          • truthvscompliance September 21, 2009 at 6:15 PM #

            Why the emphasis on radical feminists alone? There are feminists from all types of feminism that have done shady shit, it’s not like radical feminism holds them all. I mean, come ON! There are ignorant people in every group of people… You can’t judge an entire group of people based on a few bad apples. You’d think that AT LEAST feminism would have taught you that. Just because you’ve met a few radical feminists that fit your stereotype doesn’t mean most of us fit it.

      • Andrew September 15, 2009 at 4:19 AM #

        That really does not address the issue of whether porn can or can not be used responsibly though under a feminist framework. It’s very hard to walk the line your walking, and unless there’s something about the work you do that keeps your feminist goals in alignment with your personal empowerment through paid sex-work then it almost has to come out inconsistently.

        For example, I can not pretend that as a user of a porn I am not maintaining a structure which hurts some women. Vegetarians face the same issue, if they abstain for moral reasons, by still using dairy products. The only way I can reconcile this by reminding myself that in my heart of hearts, I really do not care about the welfare of these women because if I did I would have to stop using porn.

        The fact that you are not the CEO of Vivid does not change the situation. In the Nazi concentration camps, many Jews were placed in positions of power over other Jews, often over-working, raping, and using their own in order to ensure their survival. One could argue that this is in-fact the nature of life, cruel, short and brutish. But if feminists are to aspire to the higher ideals that justify the movement, it can not be content let some devour their own.

        If your brand of feminism is simply more personal choice for women in a indefinitely patriarchal system, I don’t think your defense of pornography is inconsistent.

        If, however, you are more radical and would like to see an abolished patriarchy, you can not reach that goal by continuing to serve its masters.

        • RenegadeEvolution September 15, 2009 at 5:31 AM #

          Andrew:

          One, I am most certainly not a radical feminist.

          Two, I am a Jew. And comparing people who make pornographic movies to NAZI’S (or anyone else to Nazi’s, other than Nazi’s) is a sure fire way to get me to go off on you, or at least scream GODWIN’S LAW really loudly. People involved in the production of porn- any aspect of it- have not killed roughly 5.9 million Jews, 2-3 million Soviet P.O.W’s, 1.5 million Romani, 2 million Slavs, 250,000 disabled people, 15,000 homosexuals, and other assorted “impure” peoples. GOT IT? I sure as fuck hope so.

          And I am sure freakin’ amused you think any and every woman who is involved in porn is all about serving “her male masters”.

          • Andrew September 15, 2009 at 3:58 PM #

            I didn’t say that at all.

            I said that she (the porn actress) is either probably “about” either (1) surviving by doing something she doesn’t particularly like and is thus degrading in the way that sex for money often is or; (2) enjoying her own sexuality, is being empowered by it, etc. It just so happens that 2 is inconsistent with radical feminism because one can not oppose a system meaningfully is they take an active part in perpetuating it.

            My point also, was not about Nazis. It was about Jews in concentration camps. Its for exactly the numbers you cite that the holocaust is such a great example for many acts of depravity. Regarding said Jews, I only wanted to point out that one can be very culpable without being the “high man on the totem pole”. As an example of this, I pointed to Jews who did very bad things in the holocaust to survive. Whether or not the circumstances justify their actions depends on your world view.

            But, never the less it seems like your comfortable with limiting your feminism to the more moderate view which is more concerned with “creating opportunity” as opposed to abolishing patriarchy. That was all I asked.

            • James September 15, 2009 at 5:29 PM #

              You can’t see why comparing people who act in warfilms to people who co-operated with multiple genocides might be a tad…Unhelpful?

            • Nine Deuce September 15, 2009 at 7:13 PM #

              I’m going to have to go with the others here. Find another way to make your argument. You don’t need an analogy in Nazism to explain how hierarchies of oppression work, dude. First off, it’s a weak analogy in about 60 ways. Second, it discredits your argument straight off since a lot of people just shut down at mention of Nazism (bringing up Nazis is the #1 tactic of the modern demagogue).

              • Andrew September 15, 2009 at 7:44 PM #

                It should be no surprise too people that systems in power only stay in power because they co-opt those they have power over into perpetuating that control.

                Attacking the analogy for it’s additional inferences does not diminish its core credibility.

                One still has to overcome that problem if they don’t want to be accused of perpetuating and working against patriarchal attitudes at the same time.

            • RenegadeEvolution September 15, 2009 at 10:09 PM #

              Andrew:

              It is still a crap anaology. But if you want to try and stick with it…okay then, if women who are willingly in porn (though it is unlikely they FORCE any other women to be in porn)are like the Jews who oversaw other Jews in camps…well then…I guess that makes you, man who watches porn and thinks nothing but ill of those women in it more along the lines of the fellow who ran the ovens, no? You after all are creating the demand for films where the women in them appear to get chewed up and utterly failing to see them as human. Whether that is what is happening to them or not, that is what gets you off-that idea. So, maybe you ought to consider that before throwing your hat in the ring as it were.

              • Nine Deuce September 16, 2009 at 12:11 AM #

                I can’t disagree with that.

              • isme September 16, 2009 at 11:43 AM #

                “I guess that makes you, man who watches porn and thinks nothing but ill of those women in it more along the lines of the fellow who ran the ovens, no?”

                Ouch. Got him there.

          • SheHasNoName October 29, 2009 at 5:27 AM #

            No, they have only killed that many through the suicide and overdoses that come out of being abused in the sex industry.

            • Ren October 29, 2009 at 12:14 PM #

              That many? I think not. Unless, of course, you can prove otherwise.

                • Ren October 29, 2009 at 7:39 PM #

                  I’ve seen your proof post, Laurelin. It’s not changed my mind about wanting to see it. A lot of accusations fly in discussions like these- I like a little proof with my accusations and your post is not going to change that. When asked, I myself can give it. I don’t think it is so much to ask for it in return.

                  A serious accusation was made- that the porn industry has caused (in one way or another) as many deaths as the Nazis did in the Holocaust. That offends me more as a Slavic Jew than it does as a person in porn. If someone is going to make accusations like that, why yes, I want proof.

                  • Laurelin October 29, 2009 at 7:58 PM #

                    Just as well I didn’t put it up only for you then, eh!

                    • Ren October 30, 2009 at 7:09 AM #

                      agreed, you put it up there for several people as you said, I however decided to reply to you with why I think proof is often a good thing.

              • Laurelin October 29, 2009 at 4:15 PM #

                My link there was addressed to everyone, btw, not aimed at any one individual.

                I think the issue of ‘proof’ merits proper discussion. Particularly in a context such as this, as serious and as deadly important as this.

              • SheHasNoName October 30, 2009 at 7:27 AM #

                How precisely can we prove it? I am involved in organisations which have lists of names of people who have been killed/killed themselves because of the porn industry, but I am not going to spread those names all over the internet. They died trying to escape the horror – they deserve the respect of being allowed to rest in peace without their real names being continually associated with something they so desperately wanted to get out of.

                • James October 30, 2009 at 8:40 AM #

                  Proof is only being requested since a claim which requires it was made. It’s much like the dodgy figure used by Amnesty International to front a recent campaign, taken apart here:

                  http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2009/03/08/crying-wolf-on-intimate-violence/

                  It’s all well & good saying that the inclusion of feelings & anecdote & unsupported assertions should be permitted, but when a claim which requires proof is made (more women have died through porn than the holocaust) that just won’t cut it. You can’t try & exploit the weight of a statistic like that, then back away from quantifying anything. It’s too late.

                  • SheHasNoName October 30, 2009 at 9:07 AM #

                    It’s not qualifying, its acknowledging that this is hardly a scholarly place and I am not giving up women’s confidentiality for wome stranger on the internet. If anyone wants to do an actual study in which a number of organisations are actually asked, confidentiality forms signed and the women’s names protected, that’s a different matter. Of course, I don’t expect anyone who supports porn to understand things like respecting these women, beccause they died because of this kind of disrespect. The least I can do is protect their names now.

                    • James October 30, 2009 at 6:04 PM #

                      Well that was an ad hominem. You ask how you can prove a claim. My suggestion to you is that if you don’t know how, don’t make it.

                    • Laurelin October 30, 2009 at 11:25 PM #

                      I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again (and again and again and again)
                      if you want testimony of the harm of pornography from both ex-performers and other women effected click on the links under ‘Anti-Porn Resources’ on my blog (right hand column) and you will find plenty.

                      Try doing that, and educating yourselves, instead of jumping en masse on survivors on this thread. Show some respect.

                  • polly styrene October 30, 2009 at 10:26 PM #

                    To prove whether porn is ‘harmful’ you need first to define what you mean by ‘harmful’.

                    Harmful to whom, and what harm?

                  • TrinityVA October 30, 2009 at 10:51 PM #

                    This. I really don’t buy the whole “but I need my anecdotes, some people are in such danger that they cannot be surveyed!” thing. There must be some way to do so, and the fact that the anti-porn faction has never managed to do so is a testament to either 1) its willingness to baldly lie OR 2) its complete and utter lack of basic organization. Even if 2 is the case rather than 1, I’m not sure I want people saving the world who cannot even back up the claim that it needs saving.

                    • Nine Deuce October 30, 2009 at 11:00 PM #

                      Trinity, give me a fucking break. Are you claiming that no one has demonstrated that there is harm occurring in porn?

                    • TrinityVA October 30, 2009 at 11:06 PM #

                      Since I can’t reply to ND below: No, I’m absolutely not claiming no one has been harmed in the making of porn. I’m saying that the widespread hand-waving “we’ve got to keep everything we know about how widespread this is a secret, but then we get mad when you say you won’t believe us without proof” thing… was old when Dworkin did it.

                      That’s not the same as “harm never occurs.” Please don’t foist words on me that are not derivable at all from what I said.

                • Ren October 30, 2009 at 9:27 AM #

                  I don’t recall asking for anyones real name…merely proof that what you claim is on par with the holocaust.

                  • SheHasNoName October 30, 2009 at 10:37 PM #

                    And how precisely can I prove it without giving names? I can list numbers from various organisations but given that they have never been published in any sort of peer-reviewed form I highly doubt that anyone who doesn’t beleive their are ridiculously high numbers of death caused by porn aren’t going to believe it nby me simply stating them, unless I have names to back it up.

                • Laurelin October 30, 2009 at 9:37 AM #

                  I’m sorry you’re being treated like this on this thread SheHasNoName. You don’t have to prove anything, for the reasons you have said.

                • hexy October 31, 2009 at 12:02 AM #

                  I can’t speak for anyone else, but I personally would like to know the name of these organisations. Are you able to provide those, at least, without worrying about breaking confidentiality?

                  • SheHasNoName October 31, 2009 at 5:57 AM #

                    Pink Cross, Hope Foundation and I am Treasure are the ones that I have been involved in.

                    • Lucy November 1, 2009 at 3:04 AM #

                      I looked at Pink Cross and they do provide numbers for deaths from suicide and drugs for the porn industry. They report 48 known deaths since 2000 and 74 since 1990. These numbers just don’t back up your claim. Even if you multiply them by a factor of 10, it’ll take over 19,000 years before more women die from suicides and drug-related deaths in the porn industry than died in the Holocaust.

                      My point is that making a hyperbolic claim does not help. Instead, what tends to happen is that all of what someone says is disregarded when the falsity of such an extreme claim is found out, even the true things. It’s better to stick to claims that can be backed up.

                    • Nine Deuce November 1, 2009 at 7:37 AM #

                      Well, then let’s take that number you’ve given there. How many deaths are acceptable? 48? 74? How about none.

                    • hexy November 1, 2009 at 7:43 AM #

                      Oh, come on… you know that no one is saying any number of deaths are acceptable, and you know that “how many deaths are acceptable” is a completely different question to “is the claim that porn has killed more women than the Holocaust killed Jews a ridiculous and inappropriate statement”.

                    • James November 1, 2009 at 11:49 AM #

                      This.

                    • Nine Deuce November 2, 2009 at 4:23 PM #

                      My point is that, instead of coming here to tell abuse survivors and feminists they’re out of line for the way they discuss abuses, why not attack the abuses themselves?

                    • James November 2, 2009 at 4:26 PM #

                      Because they’re staging a comparison to something which is not their abuse, i.e. the systematic extermination of 6-15 million gays, gypsies, Jews, communists & trade unionists? & actually belittling the latter?

                    • Nine Deuce November 2, 2009 at 4:51 PM #

                      I agree. It’s not an appropriate comparison. Still, it’s not what this post is about, and I’m not going to discuss that further.

                    • Lucy November 2, 2009 at 5:11 PM #

                      Correction to my last comment: You did (just above) acknowledge the comparison is inappropriate. I guess that’s a start.

                    • Lucy November 2, 2009 at 5:05 PM #

                      I’m all for attacking abuses when they occur. This is why I get very annoyed when any feminist who’s not categorically anti-porn gets told that they therefore must be all “Yay porn!”. Porn, like almost any endeavour that’s almost entirely male-centred in a patriarchial system, has abuses. I would think all feminists could agree on that. Where the disagreement arises is that anti-porn feminists, like yourself, see the abuses as arising from the fact that its porn while other feminists, like myself, see the abuses arising from it occurring in a patriarchial system. Thus, we end up with differing ideas about how to deal with the abuses. For anti-porn feminists, the solution is to eliminate porn. For non-anti-porn feminists, the solution varies. Anti-porn feminists have an advantage in a simpler answer. However, whether or not that is the answer is open to question.

                      I think it is at best disingenuous to cast those who are upset at a spurious comparison with Holocaust as somehow telling abuse survivors and feminists they’re out of line for discussing abuses. Surely we can discuss abuse without being insensitive to the abuse of others. The idea that it’s okay to cause harm to one group of people (Holocaust survivors, their families, etc) in discussing harm for another group is mind-boggling. Feminism already has a history of classism, racism, and so on. It detracts from the anti-porn argument to be apparently disparaging Holocaust victims. As a feminist, I would prefer that feminism not continue its inglorious history of actually avoid harming other people (like say, other women) in pursuing its goals and while I would like feminists who differ on the causes of abuse to work together to end abuses, I can’t in good conscience work with those who either actively or passively endorse continuing feminism’s failure to be for all women.

                    • hexy November 2, 2009 at 10:27 PM #

                      Well said, Lucy.

                    • hexy November 2, 2009 at 10:28 PM #

                      Many of us ARE abuse survivors and feminists, and we DO attack abuse where we see it.

                      We can still have the time and energy to call someone out for a ridiculous, inappropriate, and offensive analogy. “Why aren’t you focusing on the issues I think are important?!” is an anti-feminist bingo square for a reason.

                    • Nine Deuce November 2, 2009 at 10:33 PM #

                      I’m pretty sure I’m not an anti-feminist.

                    • hexy November 3, 2009 at 2:03 AM #

                      I never said you were.

                    • Nine Deuce November 3, 2009 at 2:30 AM #

                      Who was the bingo comment aimed at then?

                    • hexy November 3, 2009 at 2:43 AM #

                      You. But I never said you were an anti-feminist. Just that you were utilising a tactic I’m far more used to seeing from those who wish to undermine feminism as a whole, rather than just part of it.

                    • isme November 3, 2009 at 5:19 AM #

                      I don’t see why anti-feminists have the monopoly on “Why aren’t you focusing on the issues I think are important?!”. It’s used by everyone, against everyone, in regards to everything.

        • James September 15, 2009 at 10:22 AM #

          …You just compared women in the porn industry with Jewish collaborators with the Holocaust.

        • isme September 15, 2009 at 2:14 PM #

          “For example, I can not pretend that as a user of a porn I am not maintaining a structure which hurts some women.”

          A bit of a sticky issue. Yes, women are often abused in the making of porn, but the abuse of the less fortunate to keep us in our preferred lifestyle is something people living in First World countries have become fairly comfortable. Our oil and our shiny plastic crap tends to be sourced from places where the people live in conditions we’d prefer not to endure ourselves, but that we don’t feel like doing anything about.

          Ignoring the plight of abused women in the sex industry is, IMHO, little different to ignoring the plight of the beggar on the sidewalk, and the vast majority of us do that.

          • Faith September 15, 2009 at 6:21 PM #

            “Yes, women are often abused in the making of porn, but the abuse of the less fortunate to keep us in our preferred lifestyle is something people living in First World countries have become fairly comfortable.”

            Speak for yourself, please. If you believe that no one in the First World countries cares about such things, than clearly you are not paying attention. There are plenty of people speaking up against the abuse of other people for our comfort or pleasure. Some people are actually doing every little thing that they can do to reduce (and hopefully eventually eradicate) the exploitation and abuse of other people that occurs so that we can live privileged, pampered lives. Some of us are very uncomfortable with such things indeed.

            • Andrew September 15, 2009 at 7:53 PM #

              Many do what they can up until the point it becomes uncomfortable. They spend more money on lightbulbs and buy their water from Starbucks, but they still live and work in a system that participates fully in consuming more than it produces and sustains itself by maintaining that disparity. This not unlike the “liberal dudes” who pay lipservice to women’s issues until those issues conflict with their own privilege. There is little any first-worlder can do to get around this outside of living on the street and surviving on trash. Even the homeless in America are the benefactors of the opressed abroad.

              I think what isme is trying to get across is that many of us like to tell ourselves that we are not the opressor, that we work against it, that we are not bad. Then we go out and jog in our sweatshop sneakers and eat foods grown in other countries to the detriment of their economies.

              Personally, as I have mentioned before, Being consistent in these respects means that you come to the conclusion your an awful person.

              Being an awful person though might just be our state of nature. I’d rather be awful than poor and oppressed; and if it’s really impossible to be good and well-off then who would say they’d make a different choice?

              • Faith September 16, 2009 at 11:53 AM #

                “They spend more money on lightbulbs and buy their water from Starbucks, but they still live and work in a system that participates fully in consuming more than it produces and sustains itself by maintaining that disparity.”

                Yes, correct. And aside from doing all the little things they can do to eliminate the problems – including making ethical choices where they can and speaking out about it – there is little people can do because we are stuck in the system and must comply to some degree or another if we want to live within our society. However, there is a big fucking difference between buying clothing – which is a necessity – and jerking off to porn, which is not a necessity.

                We all must eat. We all must cover our asses (whether we want to or not). We do not have to use, abuse, and exploit other people for our own selfish pleasure. So, yes, Andrew, I still think you’re an awful selfish shitty worthless asshole for your refusal to stop using porn that you know is harmful.

                • isme September 17, 2009 at 10:22 AM #

                  “However, there is a big fucking difference between buying clothing – which is a necessity – and jerking off to porn, which is not a necessity. ”

                  True, but I was thinking of other non-essentials and luxury items. Even clothes become luxury items when fashion is introduced.

                  I’m not trying to accuse you (or anyone else) of hypocracy here, I’m just saying that really caring (beyond the usual pretence, I mean) about the rights of nameless, faceless others isn’t something that’s as common as we’d like.

                  • Andrew September 17, 2009 at 3:14 PM #

                    This a point I like. When people realize how much action it would take to actually stop exploitation, and how much exploitation is inherent in simple things like having a house, food, liberty, etc., it really makes you question if an exploitation free model of humanity is even feasibile. I’ve come to the conclusion it isn’t, and I’m sure every other person/entity in power has come to same conclusion. Exploitation ceases when it it becomes too unfeasible, expensive, or dangerous for the exploiter to to continue, or their are greater benefits derived from providing the illusion of choice. In America we call this democracy.

                    Since I see this as the default model, I won’t like a gift horse in the mouth if I happened to be born into a little bit of privilege. Looking at porn without many legal/social consequences is one of them.

                    It sucks for women I suppose, but to see if women are actually able to mobilize, put an end to it, and end patriarchy in this respect will be interesting.

                    • James September 17, 2009 at 4:44 PM #

                      Oh my, we got ourselves a low-calibre Nietzsche.

              • Faith September 16, 2009 at 11:58 AM #

                One clarification: When I say i think you’re worthless, I mean that I think you’re worthless to me. I’m sure that someone somewhere thinks you’re worth a damn for something, as it should be. I just have no use for you in my life, so therefore you are worthless to me.

                • Andrew September 16, 2009 at 4:07 PM #

                  I won’t disagree that I might be (am?) an asshole for using porn. I only want to make the point that we are all assholes in some sense and that being “just” or “right” is not nessecarily the de facto, or even most efficient, mode of human operation.

                  I also want to point out that the dichotomy you draw between porn and buying clothing does is not as disparate as you suggest. If I buy a porn video for $50….and there are 5 women exploited in it, the shoes (necessities) you have on for that same price probably exploited 5x that many in children, not to mention the harm to the family. The food you claim is also a necessity, brought to us by factory farming, not only poisons the water of whole communities but also the bodies of all of the workers along its production lines. (Most of whom are probably women, and illegal as well). There are also asshole bonus points inherent in this since they grind up live newborn male chicks since they have no inherent worth. (Youtube it). Your dinner last night theoretically exploited many more people than any masturbatory session I had.

                  Im not sure why I am being called out though, other than because I pointed out that sham uncomfortability is not a get out of jail free card for being a hugely inefficient, exploitive, first world consumer. We both agree that porn has negative effects, if not structurally, than at the very least, in relationships. I might be a Grand Master First Rate Asshole because I eat beef, wear Nikes, AND use porn, but to consider yourself blameless would be dishonest at best.

                  • Nine Deuce September 16, 2009 at 4:17 PM #

                    I’m a vegetarian who is usually vegan. No women had to pretend to like sucking 9 dicks while being called names in order to provide me with my sweatshirt (and no, not just because it’s not from American Apparel). I don’t consider myself blameless, but there’s a real problem with your analogy. How hard is it to not use porn? Not very. How hard is it to avoid eating industrially produced food or to avoid buying clothing made in less than ideal conditions? It’s nearly impossible. But at least I try, because I try to recognize my privileges and stop taking advantage of them at other people’s expense. You recognize your privileges and then decide to take advantage of them unapologetically. So, on the asshole scale, I might rank a 2, whereas you’d pull in somewhere around 600.

                    • Andrew September 16, 2009 at 4:37 PM #

                      Your post made me smile.

                      Your right, there is something inherently more degrading about coerced sex work and making t-shirts. Thats a legitimate distinction.

                      I also give you credit for giving yourself a 2 instead of a 1, I appreciate the honesty ;).

                      As for the 600 though, I have to ask out of what? I’m crossing my fingers and hoping you say 1,000,000 or something high like that.

                    • Nine Deuce September 16, 2009 at 4:43 PM #

                      115.

                    • Faith September 16, 2009 at 5:19 PM #

                      “Your right, there is something inherently more degrading about coerced sex work and making t-shirts. Thats a legitimate distinction.”

                      Gosh. Ya’ think?

          • Faith September 15, 2009 at 6:23 PM #

            “Ignoring the plight of abused women in the sex industry is, IMHO, little different to ignoring the plight of the beggar on the sidewalk, and the vast majority of us do that.”

            So what exactly is your point? That just because so many people do it, that makes it ok? Or that we shouldn’t be concerned about that fact? That we should just shrug our shoulders and figure that because everyone else is doing it, we might as well do it too?

            I mean, seriously, what in the holy fuck?

            • isme September 16, 2009 at 11:46 AM #

              ” That just because so many people do it, that makes it ok? ”

              No, that despite it not being OK, it’s not going to stop people doing it. People who choose the ignore the problem cannot simply be persuaded or educated with any facts anyone happens to show them, because they don’t want to be.

          • truthvscompliance September 15, 2009 at 10:05 PM #

            All of your arguments are logical fallacies. Redirecting the debate doesn’t change reality.

          • truthvscompliance September 21, 2009 at 6:26 PM #

            What is your point? I mean – really? So we should just give up because you know, slavery exists on the Ivory coast?
            Ugh, I hate defeatism. It’s the worst argument/theory EVER. I get it all the time, because I’m vegan. People are like, “Well just because YOU don’t eat animals, doesn’t mean other people are going to stop.” – it’s like SO WHAT? So I should just stop caring?
            So because some person is begging on the street, probably due to a mental illness, I should stop caring about how hetero mainstream pornography harms women and misinforms people about female sexuality?

            • Andrew September 21, 2009 at 8:24 PM #

              Assuming this is directed at me…

              I actually struggle a lot, personally, with making sure that what I embrace isn’t some sort of defeatist cop-out.

              I don’t think, and I would never say to someone, “give up, what your advocating, it will never be reality.” This in fact may be true, but I don’t think it is my place to tell people to stop working for what they believe in. This does not mean their beliefs can’t/shouldn’t be critiqued, just that their right to believe what they want should not be checked.

              I just think that to feel one way about some types of injustices, and remain the beneficiaries of other types of injustices, reveals a logical inconsistency in a lot of people’s belief systems. I think this is because humans, all of us, are a lot more base, “evil” and survival minded than we tell ourselves. This self-deceit leads us to conceptualize of ourselves as different than we actually are, and as a result, we start aspiring to be the ideal of a model that doesn’t exist. That is, the good human being. I think that we as a race, have been, and are likely to remain nothing more than the very impoverished souls that we have heretofore been. This is made evident to me by even the best, superhuman efforts of some to overcome those inherent dilemas and still failing.

              So in short, while I encourage you to do what you think is right, and while your actions unquestionably improve the lot of some, think critically about the implications of your acts, lifestyle, etc. as a whole. It might be discomforting at first, or you might ask yourself, “What more can I do?”, but the point is not to make you feel bad, it would be to help you realize that maybe being a “good person” is just not intended for us. I don’t think this isn’t as much defeatist as much as it is re-defining the paradigm that we view our motivations through.

              • isme September 22, 2009 at 3:42 AM #

                “This self-deceit leads us to conceptualize of ourselves as different than we actually are, and as a result, we start aspiring to be the ideal of a model that doesn’t exist. ”

                Agreed…sort of. The ideal model remains something to be aspired to, even if we know it to be unacchievable, as long as it helps us move towards it, though never reach it.

                It’s only something that needs to be rejected when the division between reality and the ideal becomes a problem.

                I’m sorry I can’t find a clearer way of saying what I mean.

            • isme September 21, 2009 at 8:28 PM #

              “Ugh, I hate defeatism. It’s the worst argument/theory EVER. ”

              Funny how realism is confused with defeatism ;)

              My point was that trying to get people to stop watching porn by convincing them it’s abusive is simply not going to work in most cases.

              • cub September 25, 2009 at 7:46 AM #

                will this http://i34.tinypic.com/zxmowi.jpg work?
                b/c the omnipresent institutions that give us picture A also give us picture B.

                the san fernando valley and the congo are ideological next-door neighbors. the problem is that picture A gets more exposure. maybe we need a charity-surgery-for-fistula-themed restaurant chain* represented in times square right next to hooters.

                *family-friendly (of course)

  7. Val September 15, 2009 at 3:18 AM #

    9-2, Keep doing what you’re doing.

    It seems the whole world is pro-porn. It’s like a nightmare of a song being played over and over again. XXX.

    Thank you for playing another record!

    Pleasant dreams.
    -Val

  8. Rachael September 15, 2009 at 7:23 AM #

    I enjoy reading your blog, and although I don’t agree with everything you say (I don’t bring it up because I’m a horrible debater), you never fail to make me think. I also enjoy reading the debates between you and RenegadeEvolution. Seeing both sides of the porn debate makes it difficult for me to come to a definite conclusion, but thanks to feminism–and blogs like this–I’ve become much more aware.

    At one point I judged women I considered “sluts” and had no respect for those who stripped, acted in porn, or had sex with more than an arbitrary number of people. No more.

    • Rachael September 16, 2009 at 7:23 AM #

      You know, reading this again, I think I sounded a bit obnoxious in that second paragraph. I can’t quite put into words how–I’m not exactly sure–but I’m really sorry about that.

  9. polly styrene September 15, 2009 at 6:55 PM #

    I don’t see why speaking ABOUT something is the same as speaking on behalf of everyone involved anyway. For instance if i say I think the war in Afghanistan is a bad idea, the only way I am directly involved is that a bit of my taxes is going to pay for it. But I’m still entitled to express an opinion. And that doesn’t mean I’m speaking on behalf of everyone involved, since I’m fairly sure lots of those involved, on both sides, think the war is a jolly good idea.

    • redmegaera September 15, 2009 at 9:47 PM #

      YES! I don’t know why that’s so hard for people to understand….

  10. polly styrene September 15, 2009 at 6:59 PM #

    Also James: if you think patriarchal power relations can’t be reproduced between people of the same sex, you’re not thinking very hard.

  11. polly styrene September 15, 2009 at 7:13 PM #

    Actually I have to work with people I hate and find physically repulsive. Fortunately I don’t have to get physically intimate with them. Ok we’re talking horses for courses here, but there are a lot of things about my job I like. Unfortunately, I work with some homophobic arseholes, who have been trying (largely unsuccessfully because I know my law) to pull all kinds of shit on me. Now I don’t think threatening them with my solicitor would work were I in the sex industry. And of course I wouldn’t be working there if I were rich – behave.

    The sex industry may well be fine for those few who are at the top end and as in control as anyone can be. However I suspect (and I freely admit there’s no reputable research one way or the other) that that’s a minority. That is purely anecdotal of course in that most of the sex workers I see are outdoor ones who sure as hell didn’t choose sex work as a career, most are feeding drug habits.

    What annoys me about this debate, is that it seems most of those involved want to take a ridiculously polarised viewpoint. Either everyone involved in sex work is a happy hooker ‘choosing’ the life they lead, or everyone is a victim.

    Neither is true of course, but because someone wants to do sex work to feed a drug addiction that doesn’t mean they want to do sex work. It means you can’t earn the kind of cash you need to have a serious heroin habit in McDonalds. I’ve linked to this before, but this report is worth a watch, for both sides of the debate.

    http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/society/law_order/prostitution+and+the+law/1622847

    • RenegadeEvolution September 15, 2009 at 10:04 PM #

      Polly is right here. Within the sex industry there are all kinds of people. People who what to be there, people who Do Not want to be there, people who would be doing something else if they could, and people who would not do anything else in the world. I fully agree that most street-based sex workers probably would be doing something else if they could. Hence, me being into sex workers activism and outreach. Contrary to popular belief, orgs who are devoted to that kind of thing are not all “Woo legalization and all Sex Workers are Happy!” A great deal of time is spent on figuring out ways to address needs based on various forms of sex work, problems facing those in all aspects of it, and yep, even ways to help those who want to transition out of sex work to do so via things like drug counciling, educational assistance, job training, so on, so forth.

      I’ve said before, I am all for letting people who are happy in sex work doing their business as they do and helping those who want to get the hell out to get out.

      And I sure think that all of those people need to be listened to, otherwise, how can anyone assist or stand by them to do what it is they want to do?

  12. redmegaera September 15, 2009 at 9:54 PM #

    Neither is true of course, but because someone wants to do sex work to feed a drug addiction that doesn’t mean they want to do sex work. It means you can’t earn the kind of cash you need to have a serious heroin habit in McDonalds.

    This reminds me of something that S.M. Berg (of http://www.genderberg.com) said in an interview a few years ago. To paraphrase: if pornography and prostitution is all about “choice”, why are the women doing the “choosing” the people with the least amount of choices available to them. Apologies to Ms Berg for the clunky phrasing ;)

  13. Jenn September 16, 2009 at 4:04 PM #

    Regardless of who is speaking for who, I at least think that ND’s portrayal of pornography and prostitution and the people that consume, demand, and profit from it is more accurate most of the things I’ve read at pro-porn blogs.

    I’m personally currently studying to become a lawyer in International Law, and I do most of my research and devote most of my attention to sex trafficking. Where pornography and prostitution are acceptable or unfettered, sex trafficking is rife. Even Nevada—the so called paradise of legal prostitution—heavily deals in the buying and selling of the sexually enslaved bodies of women.

    There are people out there that just want to get their rocks off. They don’t approve of pornography that depicts rape or violence or degradation. But—from my personal experience amongst the demand side of porn—they are absolutely the minority. Outside of a couple of grandpas stashing Playboy under mattresses, I would feel confident in saying that the majority of people (overwhelmingly men) who demand pornography or prostitution are shit stains on the underpants of humanity that blow their load to the thought of rape, violence, death, pain, and exploitation. They are frequently rape-apologizers, misogynists, and treat the women in their lives like shit—just how they view the women in the pornography they consume.

    Face it: the industries of pornography and prostitution are run and most beneficial to men who cater to the twisted inhumane desires of other men. The people producing pornography that is safe for their performers and non-exploitative are a tiny minority, as are the “empowered” women in the physical sex industry. There’s little to no demand for what is safe, humane, and not a veritable crime against humanity.

    When it comes down the wire, models like Sweden—until reprogramming men to not be misogynists is possible—are the most successful in eliminating and vastly reducing the most nefarious abuses of the sex industry including sex trafficking. If my choices for my opinion are legalizing something that I know nobody in power has the willingness or ability to properly police (simply because the shear numbers of sick fucks that demand and feel entitled to what the law prohibits) and outlawing something that inconveniences some but basically destroys the local industry of sex trafficking, which one would I choose?

    On an unrelated note, perhaps this is selection bias, but I’ve seen way more bullshit on the internet by other feminists demonizing the fuck out of radical feminists and radical feminist theory, and very little from actual radical feminists behaving like shits towards feminism proper. It’s also a numbers game. Radical feminists are the minority, and we have a bad rap in feminism proper, nevermind what people outside feminism think of us. Do I deny that some radical feminists are shits to other feminists? Hell no. But most of the critiques I’ve seen done by radicals of feminism proper and the pro-sex movement are merely criticism of things overlooked or mischaracterized in the theory in general, whereas attacks leveled against radicals are against one radical, a mischaracterization of radical theory, one poorly understood radical theorist, or just shear bullshit.

    I sure as fuck feel alienated as hell from feminism proper. Between being queer, being radical, and thinking that abolishing sex trafficking is magnitudes more important than defending the handful of sex workers who like their jobs and don’t feel endangered or exploited means, apparently, that my views are neither mainstream nor acceptable.

    And that, you see, is pure unadulterated bullshit. I’d much rather be doing my part to rid the world of sex trafficking than endlessly spinning my wheels trying to come up with a woman-friendly model of pornography that tries to thrive in a market that deals most solely in exploitation.

    • Nine Deuce September 16, 2009 at 4:09 PM #

      What Jenn said.

      • v September 17, 2009 at 2:31 PM #

        who is claiming to represent sex workers? the new sex work and sexualities (!) blog certainly pretends to.

        the whole discussion of ‘sex work’, including what language we are allowed to use, on the feminist web is so totally sickened by classism that its hard to respond at all. big feminist blogs tend to be middle class white and politically liberal, not to mention usa based, and the sex workers voices they allow are the ones that most match their own.

        • Caroline September 19, 2009 at 3:48 PM #

          Um, v? Check out the first post of said blog –

          “We can’t claim to represent everyone’s experience and nor do we claim to represent all sex workers”

          So, “the new sex work and sexualities (!) blog certainly pretends to” – FAIL.

          • chrysalis September 19, 2009 at 8:36 PM #

            Because if you keep repeating that one disclaimer sentence over and over it totally negates the PROSTITUTION defending, harm reduction only politics maintained by everyone invited to participate there.

            My rapist told me he loved me. Often. Words are so easy to say.

        • hexy September 21, 2009 at 12:35 AM #

          I’m a sex worker asked to participate on Feministe, which is one of those “big feminist blogs” criticised for featuring the Wrong Kind of sex worker voices.

          I am not white, not American, and not middle class. I’m still held up as an example of what they’re doing wrong. This is an unwillable argument.

    • buggle September 16, 2009 at 4:30 PM #

      Word. Word word word.

    • truthvscompliance September 21, 2009 at 6:36 PM #

      I agree with everything you said.

    • Gayle October 30, 2009 at 11:26 PM #

      I don’t stay on Nine’s threads too long as I know all too well who comes in here after the first few days a post is up and starts the doublespeak/threadjacks.

      Your comment was worth finding.
      Thanks. And thanks for what you do.

  14. buggle September 16, 2009 at 4:39 PM #

    Thanks ND, but you left up her post about stormy, maggie and heart, which is problematic. I thought personal attacks against radical feminists were not allowed here? This is an attempt to stir the pot, and I for one don’t appreciate it.

    I do like your post, by the way. I don’t come here much because most of the comments are so ignorant, but I do like your writing.

  15. buggle September 16, 2009 at 4:42 PM #

    Thanks ND.

  16. Lillie September 16, 2009 at 6:50 PM #

    James above:

    “Here in Britain there were trends such as the Suffragettes & New Feminists who in their own diverging ways both sought to emphasise, and indeed perhaps even exacerbate, gender differences, rather than stress the case for equality. In the case of the Suffragettes it was an obvious sex war thing (”Votes for Women & Chastity for Men”, anyone? Men & their VD as “The Scourge”, etc…), with the New Feminists it was an attempt to purge feminism of its radical implications and just forge an interest group for women, pure & simple.”

    Oversimplification much?? Yes, the early feminists who emphasised chastity did glorify feminine virtues in many ways, and did consider women the ‘purer sex’ – but they had damn good reason to do so. What’s easily forgotten is the tireless grassroots work done by these self-same feminists among the sex workers of the time: the fact that feminism as we know it basically started in campaigns for sex workers’ rights.The activists witnessed the victims of the trade first hand – there were precious few ‘happy hookers’ back then – and, unlike society at large, did not turn their backs on them. There were extensive campaigns against unjust and cruel treatment of prostitutes (e.g. forced STD examinations, child prostitution) long before the suffrage movement was in full force. (These activists were a diverse bunch, of course; a lot of the earlier campaigners for prostitutes’ rights were actually devout Christians, but by the late nineteenth century the majority of them were motivated by clearly feminist principles. Yes, some of them tried to advance women’s rights within the traditional framework of wifehood and motherhood, and some of them thought women would be far better off exalting their ‘feminine virtues’ without any association with men, and frankly I think all of these different forms of feminism were necessary in the context of the time.)

    My point is, these women made a point of sexual differences, glorified women’s purity and demanded chastity from men because they lived in a world where female chastity was idealised but male promiscuity was the norm and called all the shots. Because they saw the harm done to women sexually, and saw that the harm sure as hell wasn’t done by other women.

    Many of them talked (too) frankly about the darker side of sex, and – bewilderingly enough – were demonised BOTH as kind of indecent and vaguely perverted AND as shrill spinsters who couldn’t get a man and were just trying to spoil the fun for everyone else. They had the same tired old dichotomy back then, you know. There were ‘sex-positive’ feminists who were all about free love and universal human rights… and usually found themselves sidelined and disappointed by their male ‘allies’. There were the radfems, suspicious of their male contemporaries for good reason, who found a strong network of support among their like-minded ‘sisters’… and were hated and ridiculed by pretty much everyone else.

    You could use a time machine to drop any of these feminists in 2009 and they’d say, ‘Oh in the name of eternal fuckwittery, here we go again.’

    • Laurelin September 16, 2009 at 7:07 PM #

      It’s amazing how much of what Josephine Butler said over a century ago still applies today- men have to control their sexual behaviour. Simple as.

      • Lillie September 16, 2009 at 8:12 PM #

        I agree. When I started studying feminist theory of the time period, I remember gaping at the book and asking myself what year it was now.

        Incredibly depressing. But also inspiring, in that I’m astounded by the courage of these women, and how they stuck to what they believed was right in the face of all the opposition. And so many things did change, though they didn’t live to see the changes… so I suppose we can only stick to what we believe in and hope for the same.

    • Laurelin September 16, 2009 at 7:09 PM #

      For excerpts from the writings of the early feminists who confronted the rape industry:

      Jeffreys ed. 1987 ‘The Sexuality Debates’

      Invaluable for anyone who wants to understand the early feminist movement.

    • Lillie September 16, 2009 at 8:06 PM #

      Laurelin’s mention of Jeffreys’ writing reminded me – I just wanted to add that of course the middle-class feminist activists didn’t do everything they did strictly for altruistic purposes. They recognised that the problems of prostitutes went hand in hand with the problems of middle-class wives, and that the same men who harmed and abused prostitutes treated their wives with like misogyny.

      I suppose the time-machine Victorian feminist would, in fact, say, ‘Holy fuckwittery, Batman! You people still don’t get it.’

      • Laurelin September 16, 2009 at 8:14 PM #

        Agreed.

        • Happy Endings? October 2, 2009 at 8:05 PM #

          You should check out the documentary “Happy Endings?” on legal prostitution in Rhode Island.
          Women from the Asian massage parlors were followed as the senators debated changing the prostitution law.
          The woman leading the fight to make prostitution a crime in Rhode Island is a feminist, women studies professor. Although the film is finished, the fight is still raging on in the state. Some people just want to give the women a $100 fine, but others want 6 month to a year jail sentence. It might also be mentioned that while prostitution is legal indoors in Rhode Island, street prostitution is illegal and 1/3 of the women in prison in RI are there for prostitution, yet there is not one man in prison for purchasing or pimping.

          • Nine Deuce October 2, 2009 at 8:52 PM #

            I’m all for prosecuting buying and decriminalizing selling. It’s absurd to punish women for doing what they need to do to survive.

          • Laurelin October 3, 2009 at 2:40 PM #

            Criminalising the selling of sex is unconscionable – prostituted women are then punished for the crimes of the men who seek to buy them. Prostitutes are not doing anything wrong – their abusers, the johns, should be punished.
            Buying sex should be illegal. No human being should be able to buy another.
            If men weren’t willing to purchase women, there would be no prostitution.
            We need to put the blame where it belongs- critique the choices of johns who choose to abuse women.

      • James September 17, 2009 at 12:53 AM #

        It also bears mention that the prostitution moral panic was immensely buoyed by the cultural trope of the depraved aristocrat. The middle classes have always relished the self-perception of themselves as purer than their surrounding social groups, the predatory noble acted here as the less common but equally foul counter-part to the ill-educated ruffian the middle classes perceived as being beneath them. The newspapers which whipped up the panics were aimed largely at the center of society.

    • polly styrene September 16, 2009 at 8:38 PM #

      James you need to realise that the Pankhursts put out a lot of propaganda about the woman’s suffrage movement, in a retrospective PR move to try and make it look a lot more respectable. It wasn’t.

      • James September 16, 2009 at 11:55 PM #

        I don’t quite follow you.

        • polly styrene September 17, 2009 at 6:17 AM #

          I mean you shouldn’t believe the stuff about it all being about chastity. For a start off, many of the women’s suffrage campaigners were lesbians.

          • James September 17, 2009 at 10:43 AM #

            I didn’t say it was all about chastity. That was, however, a prominent slogan that Christabel came up with. I believe that was during her “swanning around Paris while mummy gets force-fed back in England” phase.

        • polly styrene September 17, 2009 at 6:21 AM #

          And the WSPU weren’t the only suffrage campaigners. However even members of the WSPU weren’t averse to the odd bit of arson to prove their point. Of course the Pankhursts, (Not Sylvia who was much more left wing, there was also a third Pankhurst daughter who was shipped off to Australia, so wild and likely to disgrace the family was she) who like a lot of former political outcasts were striving to be a bit more mainstream, hushed all that up.

          • James September 17, 2009 at 10:32 AM #

            And the WSPU weren’t the only suffrage campaigners.

            I do know this!

            I mentioned the NUWSS repeatedly in my earlier comment (I could also have mentioned the Woman’s Freedom League, who were a split from the split thanks to finding the WPSU’s ironic lack of democracy and violence distasteful, but I don’t know whether they were very significant), referred to the suffragists as one of the most underrated political movements there is and only really presented the WSPU as an example of a group interested in exacerbating, rather than reducing, gender/sex distinctions; not as the totality of the suffrage movement.

            The WSPU were a minority of the movement (although we don’t know by how much exactly, since its membership figures are annoyingly elusive courtesy of the the Home Office bust on its records and we also have no idea how much NUWSS-WSPU overlap there was, & there could have been quite a bit), they often embarrassed it and as far as I’m concerned they did precious little to counter-act the “hysterical woman” trope which was such a major block to advancement of female emancipation. Accordingly their success in actually advancing Votes for Women was in inverse proportion to their success in generating scandalized headlines. There is such a thing as bad publicity. I think that their place in the popular imagination is undue.

            They are, however, a good example of antagonist feminism, as opposed to egalitarian feminism. By which I mean the outcome they wanted was a fight between, rather than a merger of, the sexes. You can’t arrange a war while arguing the two sides struggling don’t really exist, that would utterly wreck unit coherency.

    • James September 17, 2009 at 12:39 AM #

      Lillie – You raise quite a few points there, but I don’t think all are entirely relevant to the one’s which I made.

      Yes, a good deal of early feminism was about bettering the lot of sex workers. As you allude to, a woman suspected (just suspected, mind) of being a prostitute could at one stage in British history be forcefully examined for STIs, then imprisoned in what were basically prison hospitals if they were found to harbour any.

      However, that doesn’t really relate to my point. I knew that those campaigners existed, but I wasn’t talking about them. As far as I’m aware the Pankhursts and their WSPU were never involved in the prostitution issue. I’m sorry if that makes things seem overly simple, but mention of the roots of earlier strains of feminism didn’t seem to add anything.

      Where I was in error was probably trying to establish it as a normative that feminists should, or even would be anti-gender binary, or simply just in favour of the advancement of egalitarianism or the diminishment of sex/gender differences. That was more than a little anachronistic of me, it would have been better to have said that there were always elements of the movement who were in favour of that and always those who were not.

      Indeed, there were stages where that was sort of an irrelevance as there was simply a campaign of whoever was willing to speak out to right an obvious injustice (aforesaid use of the state to wreck the lives of prostitutes in the name of public health a prime example, once again).

      So, with that sorted, onwards to the substantative point which you raised: that things are much the same as they were back then. I think that that’s an alluring idea, but I don’t really think it’s an entirely sound one. Firstly:

      There were ’sex-positive’ feminists who were all about free love and universal human rights… and usually found themselves sidelined and disappointed by their male ‘allies’.

      Those in favour of free love were a very small section of the suffragists. As for the allies, there certainly were disappointments, but I’d say that these did not emerge from allies, as such (the Liberal government quite clearly acted as an enemy of the movement, with the attempts to have female suffrage killed and the entire Cat & Mouse Act thing). The allies that were definitely there acquitted themselves quite well, the most obvious example being Mill.

      Now usually I think that the man is held in far too much esteem, with his blatant imperialist racism overlooked to often and the fact that his form of utilitarianism wrecks Bentham’s vision completely and forges in its stead a rather self-serving understanding of pleasure which makes the sorts which Mill enjoyed of highest importance. On Women, however, is a pretty damn important bit of work, and a substantial piece of forward thinking. It bares mention that Mill was dead quite a while before the Suffragettes got going, though.

      As for “sidelined”…Well I find that rather curious. The extreme feminists didn’t so much sideline men as refuse to work in organisations which included them at all. They were clearly unwilling to be in the same movement as men at all, let alone be pushed to the outskirts.

      And finally, I think that we’d probably say that they were in favour of “universal human rights”, but I doubt that they would have done. The concept of a “human right” wasn’t developed by that stage.

      Secondly:

      There were the radfems, suspicious of their male contemporaries for good reason, who found a strong network of support among their like-minded ’sisters’… and were hated and ridiculed by pretty much everyone else.

      They weren’t suspicious, they were hostile. As I mentioned before, they refused even to work in the same organisations as men. And much of what they did was hateful and ridiculous: they smashed shop windows at random, burnt down the house of a key parliamentary supporter and spat at policemen in a successful effort to get themselves arrested.

      Which is fine: freedom fighters with commitment, right? Whatever it takes to get the job done. All well and good, but when the First World War came around they dropped the campaign and embraced jingoism instead. They were perfectly happy to interact with men if that interaction was shaming them onto the battlefield. Christabel wrote about “The German Peril”, instructed her minions (the WSPU was hugely autocratic, with branches which got too disobedient simply being disaffiliated) to hand out white feathers to every man in civilian clothes they came across, placards referring to conscious objectors declared “Intern Them All.” They embraced patriotism/nationalism whole heartedly and abandoned completely the struggle. Now that’s what I call fair-weather militancy.

      Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there’s your usage of the word “sisterhood”. I think it’s here that you are furthest from the truth when it comes to the WSPU (who I assume you are referring to when you talk of radical feminists, seeing as they were the militants and they were the ones who I was referring to): when the Labour Party backed universal suffrage the NUWSS shifted towards it, the WSPU away from it. This is because much of the politics of the struggle, as with any political struggle, were associated with class.

      The WSPU was not really an outfit promoting universal advancement of the feminine. They were a group of middle class women seeking the vote for themselves. What they were after was the vote given to women with the same restrictions as already existed in local voting, not the vote given to all women. Now you could argue that this was a transitional thing, with the WSPU wanting that as a stepping stone to full emancipation. It would be rather curious, however, that they sought a more modest outcome than the non-militant group they’d split from.

      In brief, then: the most “radical” outfit around shot its dedication to electoral equality through with nationalism and class politics, rather than being any purer than the feminists who thought incinerating the houses of their key political supporters wasn’t a good way to advance your aims. Indeed, they weren’t even in favour of as thorough electoral equality as their non-militant counterparts were.

      • polly styrene September 17, 2009 at 6:25 AM #

        And there were plenty of working class Suffrage campaigners James, it’s just that as usual, they get erased from mainstream history. Try googling Dora Thewlis for starters…

        • polly styrene September 17, 2009 at 6:29 AM #

          My internetz has now unfrozen (bloody microsoft) so try this excellent link James…

          http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/dora-thewlis-the-lost-suffragette-477315.html

          “New research by Jill Liddington, senior research fellow at Leeds University, has uncovered how Thewlis and other poor, unschooled Yorkshirewomen are the forgotten heroines of the long struggle for the vote. Lilian Lenton, a 21-year-old dancer; Edith Key, a mill worker born out of wedlock and given away by her mother; Lavena Saltenstall, a self-taught journalist; Elizabeth Pinnace, a rug weaver; and Leonora Cohen, a seamstress’s daughter, were among those who campaigned hard. They fought despite minimal schooling and the risk of censure and ridicule in west Yorkshire, then a stronghold of Liberalism and temperance.”

          • James September 17, 2009 at 10:38 AM #

            Thanks for the link, polly. That doesn’t surprise me at all, notable exceptions are to be anticipated. It was an organisation with membership in the tens of thousands, after all. Whether any of those people would actually have received the vote had the WSPU succeeded in its aim of bourgeois female emancipation is something I’m not quite clear on, though.

            • polly styrene September 19, 2009 at 8:51 PM #

              In all movements it’s only the white middle classes who get *remembered* by history. A vast majority of the anti slavery campaign was working class/non white, but the only dude we ever hear about in the UK is Wilberforce.

              FACT: William Wilberforce’s first speech in parliament was pro slavery

              • Nine Deuce September 20, 2009 at 12:04 AM #

                And even they don’t always get remembered. As a graduate student in history, I can attest to the difficulties of finding out what any but about 3% of any society did, thought, experienced, etc. up until pretty recently, and even now we only get to know what about 40% of people think.

  17. Marisol September 16, 2009 at 8:10 PM #

    I was recently reading about Somaly Mam, a woman who survived rape slavery and fights against prostitution. A pimp murdered her best friend while she watched. Some years ago her 14-year-old daughter was kidnapped and raped in retaliation for her mother’s anti-prostitution work and she still receives constant death threats.

    Mam told Congress about a 6-year-old girl infected with HIV who asked Mam to bring her voice to public officials and say to men, “For a few minutes of pleasure, you kill me, and if you don’t actually kill me, you kill me inside which is [in some ways] more horrible.”

    I am beyond horrified to see the severe terrorism she and her family have suffered compared to a hermetic verbal dispute between Western bloggers. For some blogger, any blogger, to conclude that feminist women are more dangerous to the women of the world than pimps and johns just makes me weep for that person’s lost soul, the seat of human empathy.

    • RenegadeEvolution September 17, 2009 at 4:19 AM #

      Don’t bother crying, I am sure plenty of people here would be willing to tell you I have no soul.

      • Jenn September 17, 2009 at 6:58 AM #

        Here? Well, no. I mean, as long as we both agree that the story Marisol shared is disgusting and horrible then I don’t gather who, other than those you named above (yes, I read it before it was deleted) you may have reason to believe you have no soul.

        I mean, I personally assume that the majority of pro-sex feminist bloggers think that I’m an absolute nut and impeding the movement and blah blah blah other alienating shit. Maybe you feel that too about anti-sex (God, what a bullshit term) bloggers.

        Well, I never really got the impression that anyone really thought of anyone else as not having a soul. You don’t profit or excuse rape or human trafficking, neither do I, ergo, we both have souls and are not shit stains.

        I guess my modius operandi here is that it’s pretty damn useful that we pick apart the feminist theory for holes all day long, but let’s not lose sight of who is really soulless.

        • Ren September 17, 2009 at 10:20 AM #

          Jenn- I think the term anti sex is a crap one. And no, I don’t think you are a nut.

          And yeah, that story is vomit inducing, no doubt.

        • Marisol September 17, 2009 at 4:23 PM #

          My point wasn’t directed at anyone making excuses for rape or human trafficking or not finding them disgusting. It was about a blogger saying feminist women are worse oppressors of women than pimps and rapists and how delusional and anti-feminist that is.

          The reaction to what I wrote has incredibly been spun to prove the original blogger’s point that “plenty of people here”, meaning feminist women like me, really are the worst oppressors of women, sex workers especially. I’m feeling there’s nothing I could write on this blog that won’t be twisted to support that absurd proposition, so I won’t write any more.

          • isme September 17, 2009 at 5:00 PM #

            Ah, but human rights violations, if I acknowledge them at all, happen to anonymous faceless people I don’t know or care about.

            People disagreeing with me on the internet happens to ME.

          • Ren September 17, 2009 at 9:41 PM #

            Marisol: Nothing I’ve ever said has been directed at you- or a great many other feminists. I personally have been put through the ringer by some individuals who use the word feminist as part of their monikers. Do I blame all feminists or feminism for that? Absolutely not- not in the least. But amid all kinds of people, all kinds of groups, there are people who do things that harm other people.

            I also am rather done with the whole thing. Moved on. People will do what they do, behave how they behave, and it does no one – even me- any good to keep at it. Took me a long time to realize that, but I have.

            Anyone against trafficking and the forced sexual labor of anyone is working for something good- and I will leave it at that.

            • delphyne September 17, 2009 at 11:48 PM #

              You’ve moved on have you, yet you still won’t shut up about it and any time you think you’ve got the hint of a platform you try to exploit it to the max. Why are you complaining on your blog that you were “silenced” about this, because if you’d really moved on you wouldn’t feel the need to keep repeating this shit and attacking people who aren’t even here to defend themselves.

              The thing is despite the crap you’ve pulled on radical feminists most of us actually have moved on. It’s not us at Nine Deuce’s blog listing your misdeeds and the people you and your pals have hurt, it’s you pulling up crap from way back when. You’re the one who gets the platform here, while radical allies stay away because they don’t want to have to deal with your or any other of the misogynist assholes who hang out in the comments here anymore.

              And more to the point, what has this got to do with who speaks for all people in the sex industry which is what this thread was about? Nothing, that’s what. It’s just me-me-me. But good derailment of the conversation – job done for sex industry activism I guess.

              Frankly I don’t give a shit what you say, I think your posts should have stood to show the bullshit they were.
              I do however hold those radical feminists who are asking you, RE, someone who has never been able to stop herself attacking and undermining rad fems for as long as she’s been on the internet, to tell them tales about other rad fems, responsible for their actions though.

              But hey, a blog war at Nine Deuce’s. I guess that was the plan all along.

              • Nine Deuce September 17, 2009 at 11:51 PM #

                No, it wasn’t, and that’s why I deleted the comment. I don’t want to get involved in the personal squabbles that came about way before I was even on the scene. I’d rather use my time here to write about/discuss feminism than to get involved in interpersonal business that I don’t even care about. This is now officially over.

                That said, I don’t disagree that this post was supposed to be about sex worker activism rather than who fucked whom over or whatever. If anyone would like to get back on topic, that would make me happy.

                • Ren September 18, 2009 at 7:52 AM #

                  ND: At some point and time, if you have the opportunity and inclination, you should go to a meeting of sex worker activists/outreach advocates. At such a thing, you will see the whole big wide variety of people in the sex industry- people who make a lot of money, street based workers, white, WoC, transgender women, male workers, of all different kinds with all different kinds of stories. Not a bad place to hear various views and ideas on what is needed and wanted.

                  • hexy September 21, 2009 at 12:38 AM #

                    I concur. The movement is as diverse as the industry itself. I think a lot of people would be surprised by what’s actually being done by whom at such meetings.

              • Ren September 18, 2009 at 7:49 AM #

                D- I am saying right now, I am letting it go. Done with it. Closed down the old blog and everything. Finished. Moving on and all that stuff. Other people, what they say and what they have said? Well, speak to them about it.

              • TrinityVA October 31, 2009 at 12:07 AM #

                Y’know… I don’t see why someone should have to “just move on” from being asked “how did these people harm you?” and then having her comments deleted when she answered the question.

                That’s big. Sure, ND’s within her rights to do it, but… why there’s a statute of limitations on how long you can be upset that someone punished you for answering a direct question, I don’t understand. If, say, I’d done that to you, I don’t doubt I’d still be hearing about it.

    • Gayle September 20, 2009 at 10:39 PM #

      Yes, it’s true.

      It’s appalling how the slavery of women and girls is utterly ignored or denied so that men can wank and fuck at will.

    • Gayle October 30, 2009 at 11:59 PM #

      Isn’t it fucking amazing?

      And horrifying? Of course the people who start this shit are shills for the industry. Big Deal. There are shills all over the internet.

      What I can’t understand is why so many self proclaimed feminist bloggers allow this BS on their blogs. I suppose some misguided attempt to be PC?

      They should know better by now.

  18. hexy September 17, 2009 at 11:55 PM #

    I try to avoid universals. And I don’t generally talk about being totes “stoked” about the work I do, unless the discussion is actually about the positives people find in their work. I speak only on behalf of myself and, occasionally, people who specifically OK me referencing them. Pushing for sex workers rights and the decriminalisation of consensual sex doesn’t equate to “YAY SEX WORK IS AWESOME, HEY Y’ALL?” any more than it equates to ignoring the negatives of the industry that most sex worker activists actually spend a lot of time trying to fix.

    That’s not my reason for commenting, though. I have to ask… what on earth makes you think you have a greater exposure to sex workers of a range of experiences and perspectives than women who actually work in the industry alongside a variety of other sex workers?

    • Nine Deuce September 17, 2009 at 11:58 PM #

      Where did I say that?

      • hexy September 18, 2009 at 12:03 AM #

        You’re right, you don’t explicitly state it. You certainly seem to be implying that these emails you receive from people who don’t want to be sex workers, or who are glad they no longer are, are representing a perspective that you hear because of your radfemminess, and you’ve suggested before that non-anti-types either don’t hear or don’t acknowledge these voices.

        I’m just pointing out that, for most of us? We’ve got a lot of exposure to other sex workers. The majority of jobs in the industry tend to make that inevitable.

        • Nine Deuce September 18, 2009 at 12:05 AM #

          Duh. But I think the point was that there’s some classism going on here. All this discussion among “choice” sex workers leaves out a lot of voices. Who is going to bring their voices out? I’m certainly not claiming it’s me, but who will?

          • hexy September 18, 2009 at 12:09 AM #

            I thought it was fairly obvious, too, but it certainly seems to get ignored a lot.

            And I certainly agree with you on the “choice” argument. I don’t participate in it, and I think it’s generally a bunk argument used almost solely as a derail to prevent actual discussion about issues surrounding those of us in the industry, whether we want to stay there or not.

            Sex worker organisations do a lot more paying attention to the voices of marginalised and unhappy sex workers/prostituted people than some give them credit for. Outside of organisations? Well, we do talk amongst ourselves, ya know.

            Personally I’d think it was fantastic if all sex workers who wanted to be heard were (here’s that word again) empowered to speak for themselves, and to have their words treated as relevant and vital. I just also think an important step towards that ideal is recognising in the broader community that we ARE the experts on our own lives and work… all of us, and no one else.

            • hexy September 18, 2009 at 12:40 AM #

              I’m not sure if your reply to this was supposed to disappear, ND, so if I’m rudely replying to a deleted comment feel free to bahleet this one as well.

              I do actually feel that you can’t really understand sex work until you’ve done the job, and preferably a few different kinds. But that’s still not what I said.

              I absolutely believe that you cannot be an expert on the lives and work of ______ unless you are _____.

              • Nine Deuce September 18, 2009 at 12:42 AM #

                I don’t think you can understand what it’s like to do it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t talk about it as a phenomenon and its effects on society.

                • Nine Deuce September 18, 2009 at 12:42 AM #

                  And that’s a misquote. I didn’t say on the lives of ___, I said on ___, as in the subject of ____.

                  • hexy September 18, 2009 at 12:44 AM #

                    Yes, but I said on the lives of. You responded to something I hadn’t said.

                    Apologies if that wasn’t clear, I thought I had covered that with the italics and the “not what I said”.

                • hexy September 18, 2009 at 12:43 AM #

                  I quite agree. But the privileging of the voices of non-sex workers over those of sex workers? I’m not OK with that.

                  • Nine Deuce September 18, 2009 at 12:47 AM #

                    No one is doing that. You can tell people what it’s like to be a sex worker, I can say that, despite the fact that you and other choice sex workers exist, the sex industry on balance is detrimental to women.

                    • hexy September 18, 2009 at 12:49 AM #

                      It happens all the time! I’m quite surprised you can’t see that.

                      And considering the topic was that of speaking for and on behalf of other women, I thought that relevant.

                      I did say above I don’t make the “choice” argument and that I feel it minimises a complex issue. Please don’t stick a label on me that I specifically reject.

                    • Nine Deuce September 18, 2009 at 12:51 AM #

                      OK, you aren’t a choice sex worker.

                      I know it happens, but that’s not the issue. The issue is, when radical feminists talk about sex work being harmful for a large number of women, pro-sex work people come and say, “Not me! Don’t speak for me!” And that’s supposed to be it. The problem is, there are other women who are being hurt but aren’t being heard.

                    • hexy September 18, 2009 at 12:54 AM #

                      Eh, I don’t actually see that pattern as much as some like to say it occurs. I often see similar-but-different conversations (such as the one you mentioned without the “a large number of” adjustment”, or someone saying “enough with the unnecessary and harmful universals”, etc and so forth) which are then later redacted.

                      I’m not saying that conversation doesn’t happen, but it’s hardly the all-encompassing meme it’s presented as.

                      Every sex worker has the right to be heard. The hard bit is getting there without fucking it up.

                      And just FYI, I’m heading interstate in about ten minutes, so replies may go unheeded for a few days.

                    • Andrew September 18, 2009 at 10:08 AM #

                      This is why I don’t disagree with with feminists on points by citing to the effects that policy choices would have on men. Radical feminism is not concerned with those effects if they get in the way of women’s goals. There is some element of “speaking for women” here, but anytime somebody says something should be someway there is an implied assumption that for it to be so there would also need to be a broad endorsement from society. I have to say though that this post was never about sex workers, it was always about porn and women at large.

                      Sex work is complicated. Porn is not.

                      Radical feminism may find tension with sex worker advocates, but this dissipates when sex worker advocates are understood to not always be operating in a feminist framework. Asking for more money, safer sex, structural changes, etc., does not necessarily mean the sex worker is making a statement that the larger act does not hurt women. The needs above are needs of survival, not of abolishing patriarchy.

                      Ideally, in a feminist framework, there would be no porn (as it exists) and thus no porn talent. Just like, in an ideal world, there would be no crime and, as a result, no police. Police are allowed to negotiate the terms of their employment without being accused of benefitting from the criminal lifestyle. I am positive that no serious feminist on this blog would argue that sex workers wouldn’t be entitled to all the benefits they could get.

                      The problem comes when talent embraces pornography and its institutions so much that, in effect, she supports them. At this point, Nine Deuce, myself, anyone really, can comment on the validity/consistency of that support without opening ourselves to accusations we are speaking “for” them. This is because we are critiquing the validity of support for the system. One does not need to be a sex-worker to infer that images of women getting dickslapped might have consequences for its viewers. If somebody opposes those consequences, there is nothing that prohibits them from saying “Women getting dickslapped in pornos sucks, it should stop”.

                      An anti-porn proponent does need to flash her sex-worker opinion certification credential every time she want’s to criticize the industry. Also, it does not necessarily follow that sex workers have any more valid a viewpoint than non-sex workers about the issues.

                      Doing a job does not necessarily mean you understand the consequences of your labor. In fact, in opens the door very widely for strong biases, rationalizations, willful blindness, etc. This would be even truer of a job which came with its own anonymous support group.

                    • Random Observer September 18, 2009 at 4:38 PM #

                      Generally, I’m somebody who reads here but does not comment, given that I’m on the other side of most people here, and don’t feel that “running the gauntlet” on a hostile blog is a terribly productive use of my energy. However, I kind of feel compelled to comment on your post here.

                      In light of what you’ve said about being a porn viewer, your above-statement just strikes me as a massive shade of wrong. So lets get this straight – the women in porn who take a more pro-porn view are engaging in a massive act of rationalization and denying social harm. But yet you don’t have much to say about the role you as a consumer play in propping up an industry you see as evil. You agree that porn warps its viewers and causes harm by extension, then you willingly view it? And then harp on the performers for insufficient social responsibility? What kind of shit is that?

                      Of course, I watch porn and I generally defend such. More especially, I try to be an ally toward performers like Ren, Belladonna, and Nina Hartley who are doing it for all the right reasons. But I also am coming from the opposite of an anti-porn view, so I’m not exactly being contradictory in this regard. You, on the other hand, are not just being contradictory, but outright hypocritical, and that you think its your place to call out anybody else on their moral responsibility is simply staggering.

                      This to me speaks to a very messed-up dynamic in male pro-(radical)-feminism that I saw with Kyle Payne, namely, embracing the most radical kind of feminism as a way of absolving themselves of personal responsibility and generally not owning their shit.

                    • Nine Deuce September 18, 2009 at 4:44 PM #

                      I assume you’re talking to Andrew?

                      That was a very, very good point (though I’m a little perplexed by what “for all the right reasons” could mean with regard to porn).

                    • Random Observer September 18, 2009 at 5:21 PM #

                      Yes, that was directed at Andrew and I even hit “reply” under that comment, but I guess WordPress messed it up.

                      For all the right reasons, I mean, understand what they’re doing in the sex industry, and, where they can, are involved in making porn that reflects their sexuality. Obviously, being on the opposite sides of the sex-positive/radical feminist debate, I don’t expect that we’re going to see eye-to-eye on whether that’s positive.

                    • Ren September 18, 2009 at 6:14 PM #

                      ND: that is a dang good question. A good call for examination as it were. I am going to think about that and write something, but since some folk are not thrilled with my presence here, I will do so elsewhere and let you know when it is up. And I actually promise that there will be no meaness towards radical feminism in my response.

                    • Andrew September 18, 2009 at 5:00 PM #

                      Thats only half true. I don’t think the morals of these performers are in the wrong place. I don’t think morals of a person are a good place to evaluate anything from. These women are only hypocrites if they claim to embrace the tenets of radical feminism, its goals, and then support pornography. It doesn’t have to be that black and white though. I’ve made allowances before for women who make thoughtful pornograpy, or have a different goal. I even define support very narrowly. Participating in it would not even nessecarily make these women hypocrites. I drew the distinction above that women may have lots of reasons for participating. Its only women, who adopt and support the tenets of radical feminism, AND support the porn industry. That are being hypocritical.

                      I don’t want to speak for her but I think Nine Deuce would agree with me on this, as would many others.

                      As for myself. I read this morning that men come to society with a position of dominance and privilege. Radical Feminism agrees, so do I. And, as discussed prior, since I’m an asshole I embrace this privilege rather than make apologies for it or try and correct it. This might “immoral”, but is definitely not inconsistent. The girls above I criticized for being inconsistent, not immoral. If morals were the issue this would be a very strange debate.

                      For those reasons then, I don’t think I’m hypocritical.

                    • Random Observer September 18, 2009 at 5:39 PM #

                      (Replying to Andrew, in case WordPress messes this one up.)

                      “Its only women, who adopt and support the tenets of radical feminism, AND support the porn industry. That are being hypocritical.”

                      And just who are you talking about here? Because I can’t think of any performer who embraces radical feminism, at least as its defined here, and continues to perform in porn. Now there are more than a few sex-poz feminists in porn, and even more liberal, conservative-libertarian, or wholly apolitical performers. So you’re really constructing a wholly artificial argument here.

                      As for your distinction that you’re simply being immoral rather than hypocritical, I’m not following your argument in that regard, and I’m not sure if you have a coherent argument to begin with.

                      But I reiterate – a consumer who’s doing something entirely contrary to his stated views on porn is not in any position to call out porn performers who aren’t doing anything contrary to their beliefs.

                      And the subtext – I know porn is evil, but I wouldn’t watch it if those Jezebels didn’t put it out there – just YUCK!

                    • Andrew September 18, 2009 at 5:54 PM #

                      Maybe the construction is artificial, but I just can’t imagine there would have been this discussion if some self styled radical feminists were upset that their pro-porn views were being challenged. If I’m wrong and that was never the issue, then yes, my distinction is asking to a green pastel red….(Law Joke).

                      My relation to porn is akin to the CEO’s relation to his labor force. He realizes the exploitive relationship and continues it for it’s perceived benefit. This might make me a lot of things. But it does not make me hypocritical. Putting it another way, just because I realize that change would be beneficial to women does not mean that that change would be beneficial to me. (I have privilege and dominance).

                    • Nine Deuce September 18, 2009 at 6:13 PM #

                      Your moral job, once you realize that, is to try to stop taking advantage of it.

                    • Andrew September 18, 2009 at 7:06 PM #

                      This isn’t a direct reply but the thread is being strange.

                      1) This would not be like eating meat and loving animals, though I do both. I realize that animal suffering is part of what we as human’s do. I see my love for animals more as a weakness developed from being seperated so long from the more natural relationship, which is seeing animals plainly as work instruments or food.

                      I believe that causing suffering not just in animals, but in all sorts of groups, (the relevant one here being women) is what human’s are naturally bent on doing. In our present day, it is the straight white men who do this, who are privileged, but in another age it could easily be blacks, asians, women, gays, etc. Nobody of our genome is really above it.

                      I try and accept this reality because changing it (that is the power dynamic itself, not the sides of the power dynamic) is not really a legitimate goal. In my head, I might as well wish the sky purple and trees blue.

                      2) Radical feminism, in a very short and debatable sentence, is the willingness to work outside of the traditional constructs that moderate feminism works in. It is not as concerned with pay equality, glass ceilings, and equal representation in congress, but with re-evaluating capitalism, hierarchy, and politics anew and analyzing the disparate effects these institutions have on women. Then changing them if necessary, with all methods being fair and in play.

                      3) I am clearly not a feminist. I’ve made this clear. I also really like radical feminists. Your goals and discussions inform my world view. It’s not that you’re here to amuse me or anything, but I feel that a group willing to work so far outside the system is a group that is really aware of the effects that power dynamics can have on it. I think a woman who won’t let a man fuck her because it’s degrading is cool. (I know this isn’t many, but it really makes my point) This why I am as frank and open about my relationships, porn, etc. A lot of it gets bashed because it’s not feminist, but it isn’t being put up to to stir the pot, but really, to inform the readers that you’re right.

                      If I had these views and I was a woman, or a minority, it would be different. As a disadvantaged group cheerleading my masters I would be more akin to an Uncle Tom. This isn’t the case though. But since a lot of people really seem to be struggling with this, I’d like to hear why myself, privileged and dominant, should work to abolish such privilege and dominance.

                      I’ve already considered that it might be the right thing to do and decided it isn’t. Just like I wouldn’t like someone promoted over me, or give away half of my income to charity, I would not lower my status in accordance with some vague moral principal (equality, justice, etc.).

                    • Nine Deuce September 18, 2009 at 7:26 PM #

                      You’re missing the main tenets of radical feminism.

                    • Andrew September 18, 2009 at 7:52 PM #

                      This is your chance to educate me then, I suppose.

                    • Nine Deuce September 18, 2009 at 9:55 PM #

                      No, it’s your chance to educate yourself. It’s exactly this sort of attitude that is your problem. Why is it women’s job to convince you not to oppress women? Especially when you clearly understand that you are doing so. Why do I need to spend MY time educating you on something that you’re already running around pretending you know something about? For fuck’s sake, at least read the Wikipedia entry before you start trying to tell ACTUAL RADICAL FEMINISTS what’s what about their ideology. You seem to understand that we live in a patriarchy. Have you given any consideration to the fact that that social system has given rise to a sense of entitlement in you that is repugnant to the people that suffer because of your and other men’s supposition that you’re the center of the fucking universe?

                    • Andrew September 19, 2009 at 4:09 PM #

                      1) Well, about defining radical feminism, doing in one sentence had to necessarily be pretty broad and vague. I even used 2 sentences and still couldn’t get there. So, if my definition was lacking something, you can’t really claim surprise. As for what it means, at it’s core its the desire to see revolution and reconstruction of the patriarchal structure that deals women disadvantages. Anything beyond that is not really settled upon.

                      2) I didn’t ask you, as a woman, to educate me. I asked you as the person who called me out and told me I was wrong, to educate me. So if you’re looking for misogyny there you will not find it. Believe it or not, I probably would have asked the same of a man.

                      3) With regards to telling actual radical feminists “what’s what”, I was just expressing the same sentiment you were.

                      4) I have given thought to this. Some women hate my sense of entitlement, find it repugnant, and suffer because of mine and other men’s suppositions that we are the center of the universe. The next question is….and? If my only motivation to change this system is because women suffer under it, I’m wondering who suffers under the new system. The answer would probably be men. I am not motivated by fairness, justice, peace, balance, etc. I believe that those things become more illusory as the movements embracing them get larger and larger. While it might seem “ideal” to have a system where equality is inherent in the structure and women were not kept down by entitlement, I don’t believe such is possible.

                      I don’t see anything wrong with women, all 3.5B of them, going to the street’s with guns, overthrowing the government, achieving revolutionary change and structural justice. Men have done it before with mixed success. However, I will not accept that the new system will be fair or just. It will, like all other governments, shit on groups which do not form it’s core membership. Since that would probably be men, straight white men to be exact, you really can’t expect me to sign on anytime soon.

                    • Nine Deuce September 19, 2009 at 4:14 PM #

                      2 – It isn’t misogyny, it’s self-centeredness and laziness (born of a sense of entitlement).

                      4 – Men don’t suffer under the “new system,” they just cease to dominate. I’m not looking for a new order like the one we’ve got now with women in charge instead of men. I’m looking for a new way of structuring society that isn’t based on the things men have been basing society on for millennia: violence, greed, etc.

                      And anyway, if you can’t see the benefit to yourself of living in a society in which women (and men) are treated like human beings and can develop their identities without the stupid constraints placed on us by gender role expectations, then you aren’t very capable of conceptualizing much beyond your immediate needs.

                    • Andrew September 19, 2009 at 6:15 PM #

                      4) This is the thing though, I do not think that violence and greed are “man” things. I think they are human things. Violence and greed are born out of one root cause, scarcity of resources. Someone is lacking something they want, and they move to take it, often from someone who already has it. This might be irrational, but it is the perception, not the reality, which is important. The things which you would ultimately base the new society on, presumably the opposite of violence and greed, would be peace and equal distribution of resources.

                      I don’t think this is possible. The reason I don’t is because peace itself is primarily and illusion. Americans and the First World don’t seem to grasp that our “peace” is the result of MADD and years of oppression all over the world.

                      With regards to equality of resources, it will always be human nature to want more than one has. There is not a time in which this was not true, and such feelings are often the background for our greatest achievements as well as our biggest follies.

                      This why I can’t imagine a society in which women and men are treated both like human beings. There is almost, strictly speaking, no incentive for it. Commercialism drives most of the gender roles women face today. I think the rest are driven by inherited traditions in which women had a dual nature of birther and property.

                      It would be interesting to discuss why, in the state of pure nature, women almost universally became subordinate to men. I would argue that when “shit hits the fan” men have no problem raping, fighting, and beating whatever is in their way to stay in control. Women then cling to the most powerful in following their own survival instinct.

                      What this means is that Modern Commercialism mixed with Tradition are what constrain women. If both disappear, as they would in the society you envision, it’s not hard to imagine that men would, in one form or another, fight back, just like they did in the state of nature.

                      This is why an oligarchy of women would need to control them.

                      I want to be clear though that this is not a “this is way it’s always been and therefore should be” argument. This is an argument that controls for the most base aspects of human nature and builds on those aspects. If women took over the world tomorrow, I would have no recourse but to say “You earned it”.

                    • Nine Deuce September 19, 2009 at 6:30 PM #

                      You’re relying on assumptions about human nature that are at best sophomoric. First of all, do you really believe that we’re still in the same kind of situation cave men were in? We’ve got thousands of years of organized civilization behind us. Hundreds of different theories of property and social organization. There’s a solution somewhere wherein most of us can survive and not hurt each other. It might be in people’s “nature” to seek out as many resources as we can, and to be greedy about them, but we have the ability to think. If our social structures didn’t purposely hinder that ability, if people were encouraged to use their brains and another element of human “nature,” the sense of empathy, we’d be able to see our way clear to something better than this absolute shitpile we’ve created for ourselves. Our entire social and economic system needs to be scrapped and replaced. The best road into that, I think, is to point out that most of the people on Earth are suffering from the chief organizing principle in that social and economic system: the subordination of one group to another with more physical, social, and/or financial power. Hierarchy of any kind has proven itself to be detrimental to humankind, especially womankind, and it’s time to move on. I’m not going out to buy an AK, but I am here urging people to wake the fuck up and look for where their true interests lie rather than allowing this or that industry to do it for them. If enough people face the facts…

                    • Andrew September 20, 2009 at 1:09 AM #

                      With regards to footnotes and citations regarding my assertion that men have and still do almost universally subordinate women; they can be taken from Cynthia Eller.

                      http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/e/eller-myth.html

                      With regards to anarchy, it’s least extreme form is simply the absence of a state. This sounds nice until you realize that the state is an illusion. It wants to achieve a classless society, which sounds fine until someone has to clean toilets while the other writes books.

                      You can ask me to define feminism, and anarchy, and all sorts of other verbage that psuedo-intellectualists indulge in, but the point at issue was originally hierarchy. I am at a loss to discover, realistically, how a world filled with differences, especially of ability, in every field you can imagine, is to be organized (or disorganized) into a society (you can’t have 2 now) where there is no class or hierarchy.

                    • Nine Deuce September 20, 2009 at 1:29 AM #

                      Dude, please go read up on these things before you try to debate them. You may be a pseudo-intellectual, but I’m a real one, and this conversation can’t go anywhere when one side has no idea what he’s talking about. Do you actually think that you are so much smarter than all of the major political and economic theorists that have elaborated these systems of thought? You get the whole thing without looking into it? It’s all reducible to simplistic statements like those in your last comment? Get over yourself.

                    • redmegaera September 20, 2009 at 8:38 AM #

                      Thank you for this last comment, ND.
                      Andrew, on the contrary. I can’t believe that you’re implying sophistry or intellectual obscurantism on Nine Deuce’s part when it was precisely the opposite desire that caused her to ask you for definitions of these terms. “Pseudo-intellectual verbiage” indeed. It’s insulting to the rest of us who have actually taken the time to read the theorists behind these concepts and thought about their ideas. Your posture of intellectual arrogance is quite unbecoming.

                    • polly styrene September 20, 2009 at 7:34 AM #

                      Oh Andrew, she replied, having finally got the hang of these damn nested comments. See my comments about Cynthia Eller above (use ctrl +f if you’re lazy).

                      Look Andrew, nothing is NATURAL. That is the primary assumption you are making. And it is a wrong assumption. Human beings do not *naturally* see animals as work tools or food, for example. Human beings do not naturally see animals as anything.

                      Contrary to what evolutionary psychology posits, there is no such thing as human nature. Humans are actually very adaptable, and as Pavlov showed us, reflex reactions can be learned. That’s why I can touch type, my brain developed new neural pathways through repetition of an action.

                    • Andrew September 20, 2009 at 5:03 PM #

                      It would be my contention that what is “natural” is natural in the sense that it is pre-determined. For example, while it might not be natural that a dog salivate at a bell, it would be natural for him too after always hearing the bell when it received food.

                      The same is true for work animals. While a child may not see an animal as a plow, he certainly will once he relies on it for his daily sustenance.

                      Nine Deuce comments frequently on the pairing of misogyny with orgasms and how the natural outcome of this is, putting it lightly, a low opinion of the feminine contribution.

                      With regards to hierarchy, in a vacuum it isn’t natural. But what is natural and exists outside of a vacuum is the world in which we live. That world has an effect on us that, naturally, leads us to behave, think, act, and see in certain ways.

                      Hierarchy is the result of that. I don’t think there is any disagreement here. In fact, this article speaks at length to just how ingrained gender binaries are in corporate structures. http://www.ifge.org/Article366.phtml

                      So, of course, the method of eradicating hierarchy, tried and true, is revolution. This word is unpopular, and I think the preferred nomenclature might be something like “progressive anarchy”. This is where the disagreement starts. I don’t have to read Foucault’s library to understand that anarchy is either the kind of anarchy nobody likes, or instead, is understood to be simply a precursor to collectivism. There are simply no two ways around this. Society either has no order (pure anarchy), one order (collectivism), or multiple orders (hierarchy).

                      Now, my view, is that collectivism is unsustainable for the same reason hierarchy is natural. The universal demands the world puts on us, mixed with our humanity, create the “natural” responses which always tear down utopian ideals. That is, I repeat, scarcity of resources, inequity at birth, the quest for sexual reproduction, create in humans, jealousy, greed, perversion, aggression, etc.

                      The alternative view probably suggests that on a small scale, sustainability is attainable and inequity can be controlled for. This is not true. It is not true because collectivism does not adjust for individual strengths and weaknesses. It does not adjust for basis psychological tenants, such as the fact that in group as small as two you will find a hierarchy develop.

                      There are more problems, but the fact of the matter is that a world without hierarchy is a collectivist world, and a collectivists world only functions on paper, in the imaginations of men and women who control for all of the variables that make real life as hard and complicated as it is. When these variables are taken into account, i.e., we look at real life, we can see why it was completely “natural” for our societies/structures to develop the way they have.

                      Just like a dog salivating at a bell because it once accompanied food, physical strength and agression are socially rewarded because they once brought wealth, power, and life. This explains the “natural” state, and why women do not win out under it.

                      With regards to my anti-intellectualism, these discussions do not require in depth research. In fact, the existence of such a fractured coalition of feminists, collectivists, marxists, etc. is probably the strongest evidence against the utopias they reach for. Where a new world to be created and handed to these types they would kill each other before one crop was harvested for lack any agreement at all about how society should be structured. All I need to know, probably because it’s all that is relevant, is that anarchy (for the purposes of anyone here) = collectivism.

                    • Nine Deuce September 20, 2009 at 5:36 PM #

                      What does Foucault have to do with anarchy?

                      On the one hand, you want to talk about what things would be like in some nebulous “natural state,” then you want to tell us that the world is too complicated for hierarchies to disappear. Which is it?

                      Why don’t you, instead of speaking in generalities, compare specific theories of social, legal, political, and economic organization and how they might affect women’s lives. Start with Locke. Then maybe Hegel and Marx. If you want to get into anarchism, read Kropotkin, Proudhon. Then see what Bakunin, Goldman, Tucker, etc. had to say. Read up on communism and feminism, socialism and feminism, anarchism and feminism. Check out Catharine MacKinnon’s work (start with Are Women Human and Toward a Feminist Theory of the State).

                      At a minimum, read this, this, this, this, and this (especially section 4). These are all things you could’ve looked up yourself, but you think you know everything already. And even if you read them all, you’ll still have naught but a Wikipedia knowledge of anything and still won’t really be qualified to argue about any of this, though I’m sure that won’t stop you.

                      These discussions do require research. We’re talking about the entire world’s social, political, and economic systems. That’s some complicated shit. You need a solid understanding of the theories and practices of the major socio-economic and political theories, as well as an understanding of what has gone on and what is going on in the world.

                    • Andrew September 20, 2009 at 6:07 PM #

                      1) I wasn’t inconsistent. I was saying that the demands of the nebulous natural state have led to the development of a world full of the hierarchies which function to handicap women. I make this point to demonstrate that were it to all be torn down tomorrow, the factors which created the natural state (human needs mixed with resource scarcity) would most likely still exist and the same problems would arise just as they did 6,000 years ago.

                      2) Thank you for the reading suggestions. :)

                    • polly styrene September 20, 2009 at 7:02 PM #

                      That is, I repeat, scarcity of resources, inequity at birth, the quest for sexual reproduction, create in humans, jealousy, greed, perversion, aggression, etc.

                      Andrew very few of us in the Western world lack basic resources. Indeed looking round my house I think I’ve got far too MUCH stuff a lot of the time. I’ve certainly got far too much food, because I’m fat.

                      Competition for “resources” is therefore not a natural driver of human beings in an advanced capitalist society.

                    • Nine Deuce September 20, 2009 at 4:32 PM #

                      I’m pretty sure I’d rather rely on book reviews by actual academics who know what they’re talking about than NYT summaries.

                    • Faith September 19, 2009 at 12:03 AM #

                      “You’re missing the main tenets of radical feminism.”

                      That’s the understatement of the year. :)

                    • Nine Deuce September 18, 2009 at 10:42 PM #

                      Why have you decided it’s not the right thing to do? Because you won’t benefit from it? If so, you’re an amoral asshole and don’t deserve the oxygen you take up.

                    • polly styrene September 18, 2009 at 9:49 PM #

                      So to put it in a nutshell Andrew, you think it’s worse to be an exploited person who’s a bit hypocritical than an unhypocritical exploiter?

                      So hypocrisy is worse than abusing people?

                    • Kay September 28, 2009 at 7:15 AM #

                      This is why we have to take equality not wait for them to give it to us.

                    • hexy September 21, 2009 at 12:44 AM #

                      I have to say though that this post was never about sex workers, it was always about porn and women at large.

                      Uh… yes it was. Did you read it? Did you even read the title?

                    • Kay September 28, 2009 at 7:11 AM #

                      It’s funny ’cause about 7 comments up ASP wrote that men leave really long comments.

                    • SheHasNoName October 30, 2009 at 11:01 PM #

                      I absolutely agree. When I first got out of sex work because of how harmful it was, there was no one I could go to because everyone was too busy jumping on the “but sex work is empowering” bandwagon. Its only been recently that organisaytions have been set up to help those people who got out (unfortunately most of these are religious based and like to shame women for other reasons, but at least its something). No one wanted to know how awfully hurt so many of us are by working in the industry, both physically and mentally. We need to be heard too.

                    • redmegaera September 30, 2009 at 6:56 AM #

                      What about when we listen to self-identified “sex workers” and still draw negative conclusions based on what they have to say? I have read many anthologies of writings by current and former “sex workers” who take a liberal feminist or sexual libertarian approach to prostitution and pornography and to be honest I see the same kind of evidence that justifies the abolitionist/radical feminist analysis of prostitution regardless of that particular sex worker’s self-avowed political position. One can listen to prostituted women and self-identified sex workers without uncritically adopting the narrative framework though which they interpret their experience. When I read Kate Holden’s (a former heroin addict and prostitute who published a critically acclaimed memoir in Australia a few years ago) account of working first as a streetwalker and then in Victoria’s legal and unlicensed brothels it pretty much cemented my adherence to the radical feminist approach-which I was not uncritical of at the time- EVEN THOUGH Holden’s own understanding of her time as a prostitute was much more generous. Reading back over works by writers by “anti-censorship”, “pro-sex”, liberal and/or decriminalization feminists that I enthusiastically devoured as a teenager I see things I never saw before- tacit admissions of violence, mumblings about pimps… Their words are still the same but I see them through a different framework. That doesn’t mean you can invent something that isn’t there but listening to someone- and I mean really listening- doesn’t mean that you have to frame that experience in exactly the same way.

                    • hexy September 30, 2009 at 7:06 AM #

                      redmegaera:

                      I can only speak for myself, but the use of scare quotes around the words sex worker and the appending of “self identified” and “so called” to the beginning of the phrase is a huge red flag that screams to me that the speaker isn’t exactly checking their bias at the entrance to the Stuff Written By Sex Workers Store.

                      You’re certainly under no obligation to change your views to fit those of a sex worker who has written about their experiences, but part of what I like to call “not being a douche” involves respecting their identification without qualifying it with prefixes that indicate scepticism, as well as doing your best to acknowledge the inherent bias we all bring to stories of things we feel strongly about.

            • truthvscompliance September 29, 2009 at 9:31 PM #

              Do these organizations help underage sex workers?

              • hexy September 30, 2009 at 12:53 AM #

                The ones I’ve been exposed to help underage sex workers as much as they can, but are often obstructed by idiotic legislation that considers “assisting underage sex workers in the ways they want to be assisted” to be the same thing as “condoning underage sex work”.

                While it’s difficult to involve currently underage workers in an organisational capacity, every sex worker organisation I’ve had even a little bit to do with has had sex workers involved who started working whilst underage.

              • redmegaera September 30, 2009 at 8:45 PM #

                Hexy- I qualify sex worker with quotes because I want to make it clear in a public forum like this that it’s not a term I use. It’s hardly a neutral descriptor; embedded within it are ideas about prostitution that I fundamentally disagree with. I think it sanitizes what is essentially a patriarchal institution and a paid activity more often than not “chosen” under conditions of economic and/or physical coercion or violence. I don’t think it’s a job like any other. I use the prefix self-identified out of respect for prostituted women who reject that term. At the time of writing it seemed better than labelling women who called themselves sex workers “prostituted women”, a term most such women would be likely to reject.

                • hexy September 30, 2009 at 10:48 PM #

                  I don’t see why you can’t show respect for ALL women in the sex industry by using their preferred terms without qualification. Where’s your respect for women who find the term prostituted woman offensive?

                  I often refer to sex workers and prostituted women… no scare quotes, no prefixes. But then, I’m a fan of respecting people’s self-identity.

                • Ren October 1, 2009 at 5:49 AM #

                  Red; and I do admit right now I am not in a good head space right now because I have a dying animal on my hands that means I DO HAVE to work to keep them alive…

                  Which means, I will take ANY job, as a sex worker (no quotes) to keep them alive. Just I have done to keep my power on, on pay for my burn surgery, or any number of things. Gee, maybe I should have spent the money I made when I was 21 and just stripper on law school….but I didn’t. I spent it one being an artist, silly me, and on other artists, and on sex worker outreach, and on all kinds of non friviolous things. I’m still a sex worker. Not a prostituted anything. I’d appreciate it if you never refered to me, or any other woman who IDs as a sexwoker, as a “prostituted woman”.

                  You may not like the industry, but FFS have some respsect for the women in it.

                  • redmegaera October 1, 2009 at 7:16 AM #

                    I just said I put sex worker in quotation marks to indicate my opposition to the term while respecting the fact that women like you reject the term “prostituted women”- sorry if I wasn’t clear about that.

                    • hexy October 1, 2009 at 7:27 AM #

                      Yes, but that’s still giving us exactly half the respect you’re giving the women who hold views on the industry that you agree with, isn’t it?

                      I often get shouted down for saying this, but I don’t think it’s your place (or that of any other person with no experience in the sex industry) to “oppose” the term sex worker. It’s the preferred term of identity of a marginalised group of people. Declaring your opposition to our self-identity puts yourself in a position of granting or denying approval of that self-identity, and that’s not OK.

                    • Ren October 1, 2009 at 7:35 AM #

                      gahh, here is the thing though, I am one of those people who does that job thing. Putting the term in quotes because you object to the term when some one who is that says please don’t is…well, not cool. I should get ,like anyone else, to self define and have that seen and recognized. If a woman says she was a prostituted woman, I respect that. If a woman says she is a sex worker, I respect that, because No Matter what you object to, dang, give people the dignity to pick there own terms.

                      Hate the world, the systems, the industry as much as you like…but don’t insult sex workers by saying “sex workers”. Please.

              • Gayle October 31, 2009 at 12:07 AM #

                Hell no they don’t.

                If they actually helped them, they’d destroy their own industry (which is what they are really out to protect).

                Children are the fuel of this industry, the average age of a “woman” entering prostitution is 14, and declining.

          • hexy September 18, 2009 at 12:11 AM #

            I’ll also add that I find there to be a lot of classist assumptions in the assessment many make of us who do manage to raise our voices, particularly online. It’s a far more complex issue than “Well, you have a computer”.

            • Nine Deuce September 18, 2009 at 12:15 AM #

              Yeah, it is. You also have free time, writing skills, etc., which means you have other options in life.

              • hexy September 18, 2009 at 12:17 AM #

                Right now? Yeah, I do. When I first entered the industry, at several points between then and now, and most likely in the future? Not so much. Disability is one of those things that adds to the aforementioned complexity.

                “Free time” is a bit of a red herring in that context. I wish the majority of the time I’ve spent online over the last ten years was “free time”.

                • polly styrene September 21, 2009 at 11:18 AM #

                  I think it’s pretty bleeding obvious to say that non sex workers don’t have the same insight into sex work as sex workers.

                  But the personal stories of sex workers in the media, and indeed the blogosphere, seem to be predominantly those of the choice sex workers. And I fancy that that’s because if you’re trying to feed a major drug habit, you’re unlikely to fill spare time by rattling off comment pieces for the Guardian, or writing a blog. Like it or not, middle class people with a certain level of education ARE grossly over represented in these media.

                  • hexy September 22, 2009 at 1:38 AM #

                    Middle class people with an education are over represented in ANY kind of media. This is why it’s so important to emphasise voices that aren’t those belonging to those people.

                    A lot of sex worker activists and sex workers involved in the movement have this as a primary goal.

                    And I think it’s obvious, too, but I still see a lot of non-sex workers presenting themselves as “the experts” and deliberately excluding sex worker voices.

                  • hexy September 22, 2009 at 1:39 AM #

                    Also? “Choice” sex worker is not a synonym of “educated middle class sex worker”.

                  • Ren October 1, 2009 at 5:57 AM #

                    ND. I call bullshit. Sorry, I do. Hexy is not a white middle class women. I am not either…okay, I pass for white, but so not middle class ever until I STARTED DOING SEX WORK, I have a college education, I do not think (and she can correct me if I am wrong) Hexy does. Oh, what paid for that, btw, as not a middle class person? Gee. sex work! I NEVER would have a degree if I had not stripped for it.

                    I got a computer when Clinton was president. Still using the same one. Everyone seems to think she and I are soooo upper scale because we type? HA! We work odd hours. I don’t sleep often. The thing I am typing on? You’d weep to see it.

                    We’re still sex workers, and with what I have just said….do we really want to talk about people on the net priviledge? if so, it derseves its own thread!

                    • hexy October 1, 2009 at 6:13 AM #

                      Non-white with passing privilege, pretty damn far from middle class, some university but unable to complete tertiary education due to disability. Which also limits/ed my job prospects. But disability is one of those things always made invisible in these discussions.

                      And I bought my computer (much like I bought a lot of my things) second hand when I was having a particularly good few months doing sex work. A lot of the time I spend online is time I can’t really be doing much else, even if there’s shit that needs to be done.

                  • Ren October 1, 2009 at 7:39 AM #

                    Polly, like I said way back in this thread to ND, I think it would be good for you to go to a sex worker activist/outreach event because you see everything having to do with sex work there, from the high hourly rate domme to the woman who is a street level worker who happens to live in town and jets because she needs to make her money to live.

                    and no, a lot of those women do not write blogs, but some of us who do, well, we know them, talk to, and listen to them. Just as I am sure you would, which is why I think it would be cool if you went to such a thing.

                    • hexy October 2, 2009 at 1:54 AM #

                      I concur.

                      I’ve met such a diversity of people in the sex industry through sex work, but the diversity I was exposed to increased exponentially when I became involved in the sex worker rights movement and in sex worker peer organisations.

                    • polly styrene October 2, 2009 at 6:46 AM #

                      There are no such events near where I live that are open to the general public. The IUSW, which is essentially an industry lobby group, has a whole 100 members. And that includes it punters, sorry supporters and pimps, sorry agency owners. They have yet to produce as a spokesperson any other form of sex worker. Plus having so few people nationwide, they don’t have branch meetings. And they’re not open to the public anyway as I said.

                      Unless you are making the all too common mistake Hexy, that I live in the USA? I don’t. America is not the world.

                    • hexy October 3, 2009 at 2:48 AM #

                      Why would I assume that? I don’t live there, either. I’m involved in sex worker organisations in Australia, where I do live.

    • truthvscompliance October 31, 2009 at 4:34 PM #

      I think the point that ND is trying to make: the sex workers whom have had good experiences within the industry have no right to speak for (or over) sex workers whom have had horrible experiences anymore than non sex workers… Do you get what I’m saying? And the women who have had horrible experiences, whom have been coerced, who started sex work at the age of 13 or have done it to feed drug addictions etc shouldn’t be silenced (and there are plenty of testimonies of the harms people have received in this line of work all over the internet).

      • Lucy November 1, 2009 at 3:34 AM #

        Nor do the women who have had horrible experiences have the right to speak for (or over) those who haven’t. No woman can speak for another woman’s experiences. While we’re at it: no woman’s experiences are somehow more “real” or “true” than another woman’s experiences.

      • hexy November 1, 2009 at 6:18 AM #

        I couldn’t agree with you more. They shouldn’t be talked over by sex workers who didn’t share their experiences.

        Nor should they talk over sex workers who are trying to discuss their own experiences.

        And women who have never been sex workers? Really shouldn’t be involved in trying to push the words of one of those groups they aren’t a part of over the other group they aren’t a part of.

  19. Random Observer September 18, 2009 at 6:32 PM #

    “I just can’t imagine there would have been this discussion if some self styled radical feminists were upset that their pro-porn views were being challenged.”

    Name who you’re talking about here, and where they refer to themselves as “radical feminists”.

    Now there is a semantic argument about radical feminism, and one could take the Alice Echols view that radical feminism from Dworkin onward represents a narrowing of what was once an ideologically more diverse set of ideas, that sex-positive feminism has as much claim to being rooted in what was originally called “radical feminism” circa 1970, etc, etc. But that’s not the argument that anybody seems to be having here, and in any event, that’s just a matter of labels. I don’t think anybody identifying as a radical feminist as the crowd here generally defines it is also espousing pro-porn views.

    So unless you can name who the target of your argument is, I can only conclude you’re constructing a strawperson.

    “My relation to porn is akin to the CEO’s relation to his labor force. He realizes the exploitive relationship and continues it for it’s perceived benefit. This might make me a lot of things. But it does not make me hypocritical. Putting it another way, just because I realize that change would be beneficial to women does not mean that that change would be beneficial to me. (I have privilege and dominance).”

    First, I don’t think the CEO analogy holds true, but if it did, you’d be a CEO who seems to be really keen on making a to-do about the hypocrisy of his long-term employees. I see the analogy as being more like somebody with really strong animal rights views who nonetheless continues to eat meat, and then has the gall to question the ethics of the meat industry workers who manage to rise above the most lowly positions in that industry.

    But I’ve been around with you several times about this, and I’m not sure if I’m getting through, or if this is a form of mental masturbation for you, or what your trip is.

    In any event, you really need to stop pointing the finger. You are in no position to do so.

    • Nine Deuce September 18, 2009 at 6:35 PM #

      I suspect Andrew doesn’t really know what radical feminism is. Andrew, could you please sum up, in one sentence, what you think radical feminism is about?

  20. isme September 19, 2009 at 10:58 AM #

    “I believe that causing suffering not just in animals, but in all sorts of groups, (the relevant one here being women) is what human’s are naturally bent on doing. In our present day, it is the straight white men who do this, who are privileged, but in another age it could easily be blacks, asians, women, gays, etc. Nobody of our genome is really above it.

    I try and accept this reality because changing it (that is the power dynamic itself, not the sides of the power dynamic) is not really a legitimate goal. In my head, I might as well wish the sky purple and trees blue. ”

    Unfortunately true.

    • Gayle October 31, 2009 at 12:14 AM #

      Bullshit.

      Don’t project your own sick fantasies out onto everyone else.

      Don’t you dare project them on me.

      There’s nothing natural about any of this.

  21. Andrew September 19, 2009 at 6:43 PM #

    I’ve tried to think this through and I just can’t see how it could be done.

    We can agree that hierarchy = coercion. But if we eliminate hierarchy, what replaces it?

    One possibility is that everyone is on the same page, intellectually. This though, is extremely elitist and begs the question of what do we do with the other 99% of the population. It also begs the question of who “produces” the amount of resources we would need to function. I don’t think this is workable.

    Another possibility is anarchy, but to think anarchy might treat women any better than hierarchy is silly.

    Society depends on order, and order depends on authority. Hierarchy is the reflection of authority. One we have hierarchy, we have all of it’s ills, which are the ones you raise above.

    I do not doubt that a society in which people live peaceably is attainable on a small scale. But even these societies then will have to defend themselves against warlike societies. Native Americans teach us this first-hand.

    • Nine Deuce September 20, 2009 at 12:08 AM #

      Do you even know anything about anarchist theory? There’s a reason that a lot of feminists in the early twentieth century were attracted to (certain brands of) anarchism, and there’s a reason that they are now (despite some anarchists having the absurd tendency to uncritically embrace sex work as empowering).

      You are operating under the assumption that the way that patriarchal (warlike) societies have operated is natural and is the only possible expression of social organization. That’s the thing about hegemony. You have to be really smart to see past it, because it has told you what to think.

  22. polly styrene September 19, 2009 at 9:26 PM #

    It would be interesting to discuss why, in the state of pure nature, women almost universally became subordinate to men.

    Indeed, it would, so let’s discuss it.

    1)Define ‘pure nature’.

    2)Give some evidence (I shall expect footnotes) for your assertion that women ‘almost universally became subordinate to men’ in said currently undefined state.

  23. polly styrene September 20, 2009 at 6:14 AM #

    Well I’m not a real academic, but I work with a lot of people who are. And a lot of them have doctorates in archeology. So I know a bit about what it can and can’t tell you.

    Cynthia Eller from Wiki (I can’t be arsed registering to read the NY times).

    Eller sets out to debunk what she describes as feminist matriarchism as an “ennobling lie”.[1] She argues that the feminist archaeology of Marija Gimbutas had a large part in constructing a myth of historical matriarchy by examining Eastern Europe cultures that she asserts, by and large, never really bore any resemblance in character to the alleged universal matriarchal suggested by Gimbutas or Graves. She asserts that in “actually documented primitive societies” of recent (historical) times, paternity is never ignored and that the sacred status of goddesses does not automatically increase female social status, and believes that this affirms that utopian matriarchy is simply an inversion of antifeminism.

    Ahem. So how exactly does Eller justify concluding that “actually documented primitive societies” of recent (historical) times are the same as prehistoric societies? She can’t: the evidence isn’t there. It is purely a THEORY.

    Prehistoric artefacts, where they are discovered allow us to formulate theories. That’s ALL they do – for instance the discovery of cremated human remains allows theories to be developed about the purpose of Stonehenge.

    They don’t conclusively PROVE anything. But Eller hasn’t researched actual prehistoric societies anyway. She has just said that recent anthropology (a lot of which has some fatal flaws) proves that prehistoric societies mirrored recently existing societies.

    Which proves bugger all. As Karl Popper pointed out “all observation is theory laden”.

    I thank you.

  24. polly styrene September 20, 2009 at 6:14 AM #

    Ha my comment above re Cynthia Eller should have been here. Oh well.

  25. polly styrene September 20, 2009 at 6:58 PM #

    And your model for learned behavior rests entirely on Pavlov! Its no wonder you anti-porn folks make such simplistic claims about the effects of pornography.

    Well with respect, Random Observer, unless you’re secretly Stephen Hawking, or Richard Dawkins, Pavlov is probably a more famous scientist than you are.

    Pavlov demonstrated the conditioned reflex. Human beings are born with some basic reflexes – as your doctor demonstrates when they hit your knee with that little hammer. But these can be unlearned – for instance sword swallowers learn to overcome the gag reflex. Or they can be lost by injury or illness. And new reflexes/reactions can be learned. That’s how phobias develop.

    But I’d like you to give me your evidence that ANY behaviour beyond basic reflexes is innate.

    Andrew: if a child has learned to associate animals with ploughing then that’s not nature is it?

    • Nine Deuce September 20, 2009 at 9:58 PM #

      I’d like to add that while people’s motivations for porn use might vary, and while there is a wide variety of effects associated with porn, let’s not be ridiculous and pretend that orgasm isn’t a good reinforcement mechanism. It’s not rocket surgery to figure out that we’ll end up aroused by the things that’ve been paired with orgasm.

      • polly styrene September 21, 2009 at 9:46 AM #

        That is how fetishes develop ND. Yes I’m sure Random Observer (who seems not very random to me) would claim they were BORN with the tendency to want to view porn, and be aroused by women fucking teddy bears or whatever floats their particular boat, but I don’t buy it.

        • hexy September 22, 2009 at 1:41 AM #

          As someone who works with fetishes and fetishists for a living, I can say with some confidence that there are a LOT of people with fetishes who can trace their fixation to well before they started masturbating, or even knew that masturbation existed.

          I certainly don’t think they’re inborn, although the tendency to form them may be. However, they often stem from very early childhood, rather than the “programmed by jerking off” theory.

          • polly styrene September 22, 2009 at 6:07 PM #

            I said develop, not originate though. I used to hate coffee, now I love it. If I gave up drinking it for a while I’d probably hate it again. It’s the same with salty or sweet food, say we can develop a taste for something. And if you force yourself to reduce your intake of salty or sweet food, you usually find foods you used to love unpalatable after a while.

            My point is that a fetish originates in an association between the fetishised thing – whatever it may be – and sexual arousal. If the fetishised thing is say women being suffocated, and the person watches porn featuring that, and then masturbates to orgasm, as Nine Deuce points out – the fetish will be reinforced. Not created, but reinforced. Because the women being strangled = sexual pleasure path in their brain is strengthened.

            • hexy September 23, 2009 at 12:05 AM #

              I agree with the theory, but I’ve seen far too many examples of people being ruled by fetishes they’ve reinforced through fear and repression rather than pleasure to beieve that’s the whole story, or even most of it.

              • polly styrene September 23, 2009 at 7:03 AM #

                Well if I may use my food analogy again:

                It’s like someone trying to diet. Often they end up eating more, because they’re thinking about food all the time. Attempted repression/fear again are ways of reinforcing something because the *forbidden* thing is still the focus of your thoughts.

                The only way to diet sucessfully is to change the way you think about food, and your eating habits generally. For instance – have enough nutritious low calorie food so that you feel full, and try to avoid those activities where you know you’ll end up eating high fat, high carb food e.g. if you always eat while watching TV, go to the gym instead.

                (nb, this is not an invitation for a huge discussion about why diets are bad, it’s a simple analogy).

                • hexy September 23, 2009 at 7:05 AM #

                  I quite agree with you.

                  Telling people to stop being attracted to something/aroused by it because it’s BAD EVIL WRONG has never worked. I don’t imagine adding “exploitative” to the list will have any better luck.

                  We’re on one hell of a tangent here, though. *shrug*

              • TrinityVA October 31, 2009 at 12:24 AM #

                This.

          • truthvscompliance October 1, 2009 at 2:41 PM #

            I, for one, started masterbating when I was like probably 7 or 8 (I wasn’t aware of what I was doing though)… I can see how if someone started masterbating at a young age, how weird things could be conditioned into fetishes.

            • hexy October 2, 2009 at 1:53 AM #

              Whereas I, for one, don’t masturbate and have never done so. I still have a wagon load of fetishes.

              Aren’t the differences between humans neat?

              • truthvscompliance October 5, 2009 at 8:20 PM #

                I’m just trying to point out that you aren’t a sex expert. Nor do I claim to be but I know lots of people who masterbated really really young. And it goes without saying – people forget a lot of their memories… The way human beings remember things, is often different from how they actually happened. So your claims about people fetishes developing way before they masterbated is a little ridiculous – even if you get them from people directly because they might not be remembering everything.
                I know how easy it is to block memories or forget things because it’s happened to me.

                • hexy October 6, 2009 at 2:23 AM #

                  And I’m pointing out, repeatedly, that part of being a sex worker (especially one who works in the area of the industry I do) IS developing a certain level of expertise when it comes to sex, kink and fetishes. You might want to belittle it, but this is my life’s work and my career.

                  There are a lot of people who have fetishes that have developed without masturbation playing a role, and who can trace their fetishes back before they started masturbating. I just told you that I MYSELF am one of these people, and I’ve encountered a hell of a lot more. But hey, denying women’s real lived experiences doesn’t seem to be considered an anti-feminist act when the woman in question is a sex worker.

                  • michelle October 31, 2009 at 3:52 PM #

                    My own father developed fetishes from watching pornography and were the direct cause of masterbating repeatedly to pornography.

                    • hexy November 1, 2009 at 6:39 AM #

                      *nods* I have never claimed these people don’t exist. Simply that this is not a topic on which universals can apply.

                  • truthvscompliance October 31, 2009 at 4:16 PM #

                    I never belittled your line of work btw. I just don’t think being a sex worker makes you an expert on sex or fetishes – even people with degrees on this subject probably aren’t experts or understand everything about it. Because sexuality IS very individual… and you are only really dealing with people who are willing to pay other people for sex (or whatever fetish they desire), which is a bias sampling.

                    You are the one who seems to deny that masterbating can lead to fetishes – if you aren’t denying that, then I guess we aren’t really debating anything at all.

                    • hexy November 1, 2009 at 6:33 AM #

                      “Being an expert” and “Understanding everything about a topic” are not synonyms. An expert is someone with extensive knowledge and experience, often based on study or occupation, in a particular area. You ARE belittling sex worker expertise, because you refuse to acknowledge that sex work can be skilled work, and that some of us are very serious about what we do. I honestly don’t know how you CAN’T consider someone whose work, personal life and study revolve around a particular topic and have done so for many years (including training, and working with more experienced workers in my area) an expert.

                      And no, I’m not denying that masturbation can lead to fetishes at all. I’m disagreeing with the idea that this is the cause of all, or even most, fetishes, and putting forward the argument that the formation of paraphilias is a much more complex process than that.

          • truthvscompliance October 5, 2009 at 8:27 PM #

            You aren’t an expert on what causes fetishes, are you? Niether am I, but a little research has led me to this:

            “an individual with a paraphilia is repeating or reverting to a sexual habit that arose early in life. Behaviorists suggest that paraphilias begin through a process of conditioning. Nonsexual objects can become sexually arousing if they are repeatedly associated with pleasurable sexual activity. ”

            I realize that it is one type of fetish (paraphilia) but I know someone who was diagnosed with paraphilia and had an obsession/addiction to pornography among other things.

            • hexy October 6, 2009 at 2:25 AM #

              Uh, nothing you posted there is an argument against anything I’ve been saying. And I certainly agree that paraphilias can be detrimental to the person’s happiness and mental health. Sometimes. I also agree that pornography addiction and sex addiction are real. Sometimes.

              I’d also put money on my level of research into fetishes and paraphilias being a wee bit greater than yours.

              • truthvscompliance October 31, 2009 at 4:06 PM #

                I love how you keep claiming you are an expert on this, just because you are a sex worker (some of us have had experiences that led us to research these things a lot – not to mention, discussed these issues with the top forensic sex therapist in the country). That’s ridiculous. Just because you deal with people who have fetishes, doesn’t mean you understand everything about them. I also want to point out that I have done EXTENSIVE research on paraphilia because my father was diagnosed with it. Life experience can teach you a lot but not everything.
                The only reason I quoted that thing about paraphelia being associated (probably most of the time) with masterbation is because you wrote:
                “However, they often stem from very early childhood, rather than the “programmed by jerking off” theory”
                I think your statement is inaccurate. I won’t deny the fact that many people might have fetishes that have nothing to do with jerking off but fetishes do and can form viewing pornography etc. because of the jerking off theory that you seem unwilling to admit is a real issue. People do develop fetishes from viewing pornography and from associating things with masterbation.

                • hexy November 1, 2009 at 6:38 AM #

                  You presume I haven’t studied and researched. You presume I am ONLY referring to experiences that occur in session with a client. You presumed I haven’t talked with, studied with, trained with people with decades of experience and several degrees on the topic. This is my career. I sincerely doubt you’d tell a person in any other field of work that they had no right to refer to their own expertise in the field they’ve devoted their life to.

                  As for my statement being inaccurate… you didn’t argue with it. You just repeated that fetishes can form through the “reinforce by jerking off” process, which I’ve never denied. I just don’t think it’s the cause of all, or even most, fetishes.

          • truthvscompliance October 5, 2009 at 8:29 PM #

            Oops, forgot to post the link with that quote above: http://health.discovery.com/centers/sex/sexpedia/paraphilia_04.html

  26. Gayle September 22, 2009 at 5:08 PM #

    “Or is kicking the truth about sex workers’ lives not what this is really about? Is accusing me of “speaking for” women in porn just a derailing tactic designed to distract people from the point (that porn and the sex industry on balance are a detriment to women’s lives)”

    That about sums it up.

  27. Charlie September 24, 2009 at 12:10 AM #

    It seems to me that there’s a way to point out and address the many ways in which sexwork has negative consequences for many people’s lives while making room for the people who experience it as neutral or even positive.

    The problem that I see in most critiques of sex is that sweeping statements about the experiences of sexworkers are quite common. Even when they are based on the experiences of many people, they simply don’t account for the incredible diversity of sexworkers and their histories. I’ve never heard someone who enjoys sexwork claim that all sexworkers also enjoy it, but I’ve heard plenty of people claim that sexwork is uniformly bad, despite the evidence to the contrary.

    I’m sure that other readers will disagree with me, but I think it’s worth exploring what the circumstances are that make sexwork a positive experience for some of the people engaging in it, while also critiquing the systems that make it a negative experience for many others. But then, I think that similar explorations about labor in general are also useful. After all, for many (or perhaps most) people, labor is a source of mostly negative experiences. For a relatively few people, labor is a mostly positive thing. So if we can critique the economic and social systems that create one set of experiences while recognizing the existence of the other, why can’t we do that when it comes to sexwork? If anything, a more nuanced discussion actually helps the analysis move forward, at least in my experience.

    I don’t think it’s a question of being qualified to speak for all women in the industry. I think it’s a question of being able to recognize the validity of the many different experiences that people have and developing a perspective that encompasses as many of them as possible, even when they seem to be in conflict. Then it’s a question of developing and using language that reflects that. I find that to be a much more useful approach than making sweeping statements, especially since the discussion doesn’t get bogged down in the morass of “you’re not including me in your claims.”

    • Ren September 24, 2009 at 12:33 PM #

      here here!

    • polly styrene September 24, 2009 at 9:22 PM #

      I’ve never heard someone who enjoys sexwork claim that all sexworkers also enjoy it,

      Well there’s a difference between saying that everyone who does something enjoys it, and saying that it’s always a matter of “choice” and is just people earning a living. Here’s one advocate of the latter view doing his stuff.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/nov/19/prostitution-ukcrime

      • hexy September 25, 2009 at 12:14 AM #

        Yes, he uses the word “choice”, but he’s clearly arguing from a rights and safety standpoint.

        This is an example of that thing I mentioned where sex workers and sex worker activists will make a nuanced argument about sex worker rights and safety, and anti-sex-work types will dismiss the entire thing as “Well I CHOOSE TO!!11!”

      • Charlie September 25, 2009 at 5:25 PM #

        I fully agree with you. It seems to me that this dude doesn’t understand the complexities of sexwork, the diversity of sexworker experiences, or the intricacies of gender dynamics, class, or labor. Sexwork is not *only* about choice, any more than any other kind of labor is.

        And yet, I don’t think that his cluelessness makes it ok to go to the other extreme and argue that sexwork is *never* about choice. If we’re going to develop an approach that addresses how it actually works and how the people who engage in it actually experience it, then we need to be able to hold both pieces. The fact that so many people are only able to hold one doesn’t make it ok to only hold the other. I’ve never seen that work. It may be more emotionally satisfying, at least in the short term, but it doesn’t lead to any lasting solution.

        And yes, I get that choice and consent are complex. How much choice do most people have about working when they need to pay the bills and feed their kids? I also get that the sexworkers who have the most agency are usually the people who have the most privilege in general. Privilege is all about having more options and better options to choose from. And what that says to me is that we need an analysis that includes an understanding of the relationships between privilege and sexwork, rather than an approach that is missing that. That’s all I’m saying.

        • hexy September 25, 2009 at 7:48 PM #

          Honestly, I feel that the “choice” issue essentially amounts to an accidental derail. It’s just not the most important issue, or anywhere near it.

        • polly styrene September 25, 2009 at 9:31 PM #

          There is an even more clueless piece (if that were possible) in the
          Guardian today.

          http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2009/sep/25/sex-tips-prostitution

          Even more clueless because she seems to think (even though she acknowledges that abuse/coercion exists) that the main reason for objections to the sex industry is that we are frightened sex workers will “take our men” ?!

          • hexy September 26, 2009 at 2:49 AM #

            The fear of sex workers “being better” at sex is a real phenomena. A lot of women have a LOT of insecurities about their sexual “performance”, and this can often come out as feeling inferior to women who shag for a living. I’ve encountered it myself several times and heard numerous anecdotes about it.

            • polly styrene September 26, 2009 at 9:33 AM #

              It might well be, but I’m a lesbian and I object to the sex industry. So is Julie Bindel. I don’t think it’s the main reason most people object to the sex industry.

              • hexy September 26, 2009 at 5:40 PM #

                Neither do I. But it’s certainly not an uncommon set of beliefs.

          • hexy September 26, 2009 at 2:53 AM #

            Additionally, Bindel makes it pretty clear with her assumptions that she’s never done the job and has some irritating ideas about how sex work works. I absolutely know more about sex, pleasure, self-pleasure and encouraging women to enjoy sex than I did before I entered the sex industry. Does she really think you can have sex for a living and NOT learn more about your own body and sexual responses?

            • polly styrene September 26, 2009 at 9:53 AM #

              Julie Bindel has never claimed to have done sex work, so she doesn’t need to make it clear from her assumptions that she hasn’t done it. Neither has Pamela Stephenson Connolly, who was a comedian/actor before she became a therapist.

              Does she really think you can have sex for a living and NOT learn more about your own body and sexual responses?

              Can I direct you once again to the channel 4 clip I posted somewhere on this thread where two sex workers talk about how they hate what they do and find their clients repulsive. Do you think they’re learning more about their own bodies and sexual responses. Or just having sex for money with men they wouldn’t touch with a hundred foot pole if they had the choice?

              • hexy September 26, 2009 at 5:45 PM #

                There are certainly places for people who have never done sex work to discuss the industry. The topic of what actually goes on between worker and client, and how the worker acts, feels and thinks? Not a topic for non-sex workers to pretend to be experts on.

                And yes, I would say that those women probably know more about their bodies than they did before entering the industry. Even if they hate the job and find their clients repulsive.. You can’t do something every day you’re at work and NOT become at least a little more clued in to what your body likes and doesn’t like with regards to that activity.

                And while I hope it’s not necessary, I’ll add the disclaimer that I in no way think this “makes up for” having to do something you hate. I hope those workers find something they’d prefer to be doing, and are willing to swap sex work for.

                • truthvscompliance October 5, 2009 at 9:02 PM #

                  “And yes, I would say that those women probably know more about their bodies than they did before entering the industry”

                  I doubt it. I mean – you don’t need to fuck different guys to learn about your own body/sexuality and what makes it tick. Heck, you don’t even need a freaking partner. To imply that sex workers have better insite into their sexuality than non-sex workers is a bit ridiculous, don’t you agree? I’m sure there are plenty of women who have learned nothing about their sexuality from sex work (like many women who aren’t in the industry and learn nothing about their sexuality).
                  Also – what I have found is that the longer I’m with a sexual partner – the more they learn what I like and the BETTER (just as it takes me a while to figure out what my boyfriends like the most and sometimes that even changes from day to day) they get at it. Everytime I started seeing someone – they completely sucked at 1. returning the favor without being asked (I have a hard time believing men who pay to have sex with women are more in tune with that, than any other guy) 2. Didn’t always get what I like specifically, even if I told them (or some of them – in my younger years, just didn’t give a shit what I liked and were only concerned about what they liked). 3. It takes em a while to realize that porn sex does not equal good sex.
                  I have had to deal with soooooooooo many male entitlement issues and sex along side with all of the porn misconceptions – I have a really REALLY hard time believing guys who pay for sex are really any different than those who don’t.

                • SheHasNoName October 30, 2009 at 10:43 PM #

                  Sure, I know what my body better. I know all the places where I can bruise on the inside, I know about internal bleeding, I know how to cover swelling and bruises so that I can go back to work. Sex work is not about your pleasure, its about the client’s pleasure. The only feelings of mine that mattered was hem trying to hurt me as much as possible.

              • Ren September 26, 2009 at 5:49 PM #

                Once again though, Hexy is not those two women nor are those two women Hexy.

                Because there are all different kinds of women involved in sex work and all have different opinions on it.

                But I would rather hear Hexy OR those two women talk about it than Julie Bindel or other folk who haven’t ever done it. Yes, EVERYONE can have an opinion on the sex industry- everyone. But when it comes to “what those people want/need/deserve” I think it is those people -all of them- who should be listened to the most.

                • polly styrene September 26, 2009 at 9:46 PM #

                  I know Hexy isn’t those two women, but she made a statement about everyone in the sex industry, not just her, which is debatable. FWIW, I know what my body likes and doesn’t like. I don’t have to have had sex with a man to know I don’t want to, any more than I need to cut my arm off with a penknife to know I don’t want to.

                  Why should a sex worker know any more about their own body and what they like sexually than anyone else? Does nobody else have sex? Or is it just getting paid that makes the difference?

                  • James September 27, 2009 at 3:40 AM #

                    I think you might be smudging Hexy’s contributions a little, polly:

                    Additionally, Bindel makes it pretty clear with her assumptions that she’s never done the job and has some irritating ideas about how sex work works. I absolutely know more about sex, pleasure, self-pleasure and encouraging women to enjoy sex than I did before I entered the sex industry.

                    This bit’s about personal experience.

                    Does she really think you can have sex for a living and NOT learn more about your own body and sexual responses?

                    This bit’s less more positive, but more normative. You could expect sex workers to know more about their responses, as they’ve had more experiences. This is because they have a regular rota of sex that constitutes much more than most people would have. Additionally they have to please their clients, so they’re likely to engage in a much wider variety of acts than most women would (there’s also that people might ask of them things they’d be too shy to with their partners).

                    Seems to be sound enough to me. Your response might of course be “Oh God, I hate this all, it’s like losing an arm”.

                    • polly styrene September 27, 2009 at 7:11 AM #

                      Ok James, you make 3 assumptions.

                      1)Sex workers have more sex than other people.

                      – I just read in the UK papers about a model who did sex work five times to clear a drug debt (she got paid £15,000 a time). So that’s not true for a start, unless you are saying that nobody who’s not a sex worker has ever had sex more than five times. Some sex workers do it only once. Some do it part time, which could be once a week, or month.

                      2)You’re assuming that sex is like learning the piano, the more you practise, the more skilled you become. Also debatable I’d say, well, it’s debatable even of the piano. There are some people who practise for years, who are still crap.

                      3) Sex isn’t like food. You don’t have to try something before knowing you don’t like it. Because we have imagination. And I know that if I had sex with a dude, my response would be revulsion.

                    • Faith September 27, 2009 at 2:18 PM #

                      “You could expect sex workers to know more about their responses, as they’ve had more experiences. This is because they have a regular rota of sex that constitutes much more than most people would have. Additionally they have to please their clients, so they’re likely to engage in a much wider variety of acts than most women would (there’s also that people might ask of them things they’d be too shy to with their partners).”

                      Ok, that right there, complete and utter bullshit. There is no reason to assume that a sex worker is going to know more about sex, or be more willing to engage in certain activities than other women. None whatsoever. Those three sentences are insulting to sex workers and non-sex workers alike.

                      I’ve never been a sex worker. It doesn’t change the fact that I’ve had lots of sex with lots of different people. It doesn’t change the fact that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time researching sex, considering sex, having sex, and thinking about sex. It also doesn’t change the fact that my sexual experiences have been pretty damn varied and that I’ve invested a considerable amount of time in learning to please my partners.

                      You don’t have to get paid to fuck to enjoy fucking, ya’ know.

                    • Ren September 29, 2009 at 5:07 AM #

                      Faith:

                      At this point, I almost feel like you are just being petulant. Yes, there are all kinds of kinky people out there. Yes, there are people out there who just have sex for the fun of it, no ritual or cerebral foreplay needed. Yes there are non sex worker people who have strange fetishes. However, I still think that sex workers are more likely to see a huge, wide variety of all kinds of kinks and fetishes- moreso than non-sex workers. I am pretty willing to bet I could sit in a room with 25 other women who are not sex workers and we could have a nice long conversation and my theory would be proven correct. Be that as it may, its not a competition really, nor does it even seem like an idea you are willing to consider- I mean its almost like the mere thought is an afront to you- which strikes me as odd. Be that as it may, you think you are right, I think I am right, and I doubt we’ll be able to convince eachother differently.

                    • truthvscompliance October 5, 2009 at 10:01 PM #

                      “they have to please their clients, so they’re likely to engage in a much wider variety of acts than most women would”
                      Can I ask you – how would you know? How do you know if non-sex workers are willing to try different shit? I’m actually pretty willing to try new shit with my boyfriend (even more than he is) and I know plenty of women who were talked into doing stuff that they didn’t want to do but did because they got tired of their boyfriends pestering them.
                      Women don’t have to get paid for sex to be talked into trying new things.
                      And surprise, SURPRISE, some of us ladies are even willing to try new things WITHOUT being pestered and without being handed money!
                      I think the assumptions you are making (and Hexy)are very ridiculous. It’s like, now sex workers can talk about non-sex workers sexualities and be the experts? Give me a break. They are working in an industry that is just as much a part of patriarchy as hetero relationships. Sex workers have to deal with the same sense of male-entitlement (if they work with men) than any of us do and because they are dealing with MORE men typically – they probably run into MORE assholes. Every single guy I have ever dated, I had to explain that it’s nice to return the favor. Even guys who had been experienced with a sexual partner before me… I can’t believe that more guys visiting protitutes care about returning the favor and pleasuring women.

                    • hexy October 6, 2009 at 2:17 AM #

                      truthvscompliance:

                      Interestingly, Ren and I are mostly making different points.

                      “It’s like, now sex workers can talk about non-sex workers sexualities and be the experts?”

                      Nope. Don’t think anyone’s saying that.

                      “Sex workers have to deal with the same sense of male-entitlement (if they work with men) than any of us do and because they are dealing with MORE men typically – they probably run into MORE assholes. ”

                      What are you basing THAT on? There are plenty of professions where women have to deal with a lot of men per day. I can think of several who would likely see more men than the average sex worker.

                      “I can’t believe that more guys visiting protitutes care about returning the favor and pleasuring women.”

                      This is the bit I get really tired of explaining. Clients of sex workers, just like sex workers and the services we offer, are INCREDIBLY diverse. There are clients of sex workers, just like there are sex workers, from all echelons of society, all proclivities, and all kinds of desires. I know there’s a popular theory amongst some radical feminists that ALL men see sex workers with intent to degrade, but it’s bullshit.

                      Some men just want to get off. Some want to engage in activities they can’t find amateur partners for. Some (not a small “some”, either) want a genuinely mutually enjoyable experience. Some want to improve their technique, either as a primary or a secondary goal. So on and so on and so on.

                    • Ren October 6, 2009 at 7:30 AM #

                      TvsC:

                      At this point, I think this whole conversation is perfectly ridiculous. It’s one of those things I just figure at this point, we may all just have to agree to disagree because everyone is just so damn sure they are right about whatever point they are making. Which is something that I think other people are blurring the lines on. Hexy is talking about a different subject than I am. I have been, specifically, talking about kinks, fetishes, and odd things. Why yes, there are women out there who engage in them and are willing to try them for free! I never said otherwise ffs. What I said, and have been saying, is I suspect that sex workers see more of a wide variety of those things than a lot of other women do. That’s it, that is my assertion. And why yes, I think it to be true. What I have seen and observed as a sex worker, and what I have seen and observed with women who are not sex workers has led me to believe this. I’ve never said other women who do not do sex work don’t engage in various kinks or do them for free. Not once.

                  • Ren September 27, 2009 at 7:33 AM #

                    Polly- I agree that people know their own bodies…but sometimes, I do think, sex workers do thing with theirs that other people might not? Good and bad?

                    • James September 27, 2009 at 6:03 PM #

                      I’ve never been a sex worker. It doesn’t change the fact that I’ve had lots of sex with lots of different people. It doesn’t change the fact that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time researching sex, considering sex, having sex, and thinking about sex. It also doesn’t change the fact that my sexual experiences have been pretty damn varied and that I’ve invested a considerable amount of time in learning to please my partners.

                      …I didn’t claim anything against any of those points.

                      You don’t have to get paid to fuck to enjoy fucking, ya’ know.

                      Or this.

                      1) I was referring to those who did it professionally rather than part time.

                      2) I didn’t same they became any good, I said they became more widely experienced. You can be more widely experienced & still an utterly terrible lay.

                      3) People often end up enjoying sex acts more than they expected to. I’m not saying you’d love cock if you only gave it a chance, I’m saying that you can’t always tell exactly what you want. That’s not a mandate to force on people stuff that they don’t want, obviously.

                    • Faith September 27, 2009 at 8:03 PM #

                      “but sometimes, I do think, sex workers do thing with theirs that other people might not? Good and bad?”

                      Aside from engaging in sexual activity for money, what is it that you think sex workers do that other women absolutely do not?

                      I have never heard of a single thing that a sex worker can do that that some average woman has not done. Even much of the truly degrading, violent activity is often willingly engaged in by average women. All you have to do is look around the internet to find that out. How many blogs are there, for instance, that are operated by female submissives? Female submissives who you and I both know will often do virtually anything for their top. Are they all getting paid too?

                    • polly styrene September 27, 2009 at 9:13 PM #

                      I think it’s probably fair to say that sex workers may well get a more unvarnished view of other folks sexual peccadilloes.

                    • Faith September 28, 2009 at 6:16 PM #

                      “I think it’s probably fair to say that sex workers may well get a more unvarnished view of other folks sexual peccadilloes.”

                      I really can’t agree with this. At all. I can’t offer any proof otherwise, but my experience definitely has not been one to indicate that I need to get paid to have sex in order to know what people are in to. In my experience, all that is needed in order to get people to open up about their sexual preferences is an open acceptance of their preferences and a non-judgmental attitude.

                    • Ren September 28, 2009 at 6:17 PM #

                      Faith:

                      (hard to find out where replies should go at this point…)

                      “Aside from engaging in sexual activity for money, what is it that you think sex workers do that other women absolutely do not? ”

                      Heh, do you really want to know? I mean yes, there are non sex worker women who do all kinds of “kinky” stuff and have all kinds of sex, for their own pleasure and that of other people…but yep, I do tend to think sex workers get some requests and such that other women probably do not…I mean, a reason a lot of men hire sex workers is because what they want to do just might be something they do not think other women would do with them.

                      Oddest request I’ve had personally…very cold bath then “play dead” so dude could pretend he was preparing a body for a funeral. Hair, make up, oils, clothing, all that. Mortician fetish I suppose. You think that is so common place that women all over have been there and done that?

                      Also, Polly is correct again, i think sex workers see a more unvarnished side of human sexual proclivities. The rituals and cerebral foreplay of finding a partner, dating, so on…all that is out the window so what people like and do not like, want and do not want, is far more raw and out there from the get go.

                    • kris September 28, 2009 at 8:29 PM #

                      Sex is a time of vulnerability, and many men have only had certain kinds of sex with people they trusted a lot.

                      Most men have never used prostitutes, but all except a handful of men who have used prostitutes have also had sex with non-prostituted women. That would make the numbers stack up for non-prostituted women having more varied men -and the presumed more varied sex greater numbers bring- than prostitutes have a chance to experience.

                    • hexy September 29, 2009 at 3:30 AM #

                      Kris:

                      Uh… sex workers also tend to have sex with non-clients, you know. Your logic is WAY faulty.

                    • polly styrene September 29, 2009 at 6:45 AM #

                      I have another reply here and I don’t know it it’s disappeared into mod or not. Anyway the debate on whether or not sex workers understand sex and their sexual responses more than non sex workers stemmed originally, just to reminde everyone from the comment in the Guardian that a dude who couldn’t give up paying for sex despite having a partner should ask the sex workers he went to on sex tips to use with his partner.

                      Which seems to be missing the point spectacularly to me. I don’t doubt for a minute that sex workers have had encounters with a lot of stuff the average person in the street has. As I said, my objection was to the idea that sex is like piano playing. That if you have a lot of real life experience, in varied techniques, it somehow makes you *better* at it, and more likely to know how to please one individual partner. Which I still think is highly debatable. Because I don’t see how being a sex worker and encountering a lot of male clients with fetishes, would help someone know how to please his partner. Unless his partner was a male with fetishes. In this case it seems she was a woman with no fetishes. So why would a sex worker be able to give him better tips than any other heterosexual woman?

                    • Faith September 29, 2009 at 12:28 PM #

                      “Be that as it may, its not a competition really, nor does it even seem like an idea you are willing to consider- I mean its almost like the mere thought is an afront to you- which strikes me as odd.”

                      No, the mere thought is not an affront to me. This is far from the first time that I’ve heard these arguments. My personal experience simply does not hold out for what you are saying to be overwhelmingly true. My experience says otherwise.

                    • kris September 29, 2009 at 4:27 PM #

                      Hexy, how does that work when in Nevada the prostitutes are forced to stay at the brothels for days? I have never heard of boyfriends and husbands being allowed conjugal visits in Nevada’s brothels. In my neighborhood, a prostitute who makes eye contact with a pimp is understood to be asking for a new owner and the men sometimes have gun fights over who controls which girls and what turf. I resolutely do not believe pimps let their property give sex away for free to anyone of their free choosing.

                      If you’re misleadingly using “sex worker” to talk about every Dita, Von, and Tease who sells pictures of her boobs online then you’re not really talking about the people the rest of us are talking about when expressing concerns over the deadly harms of sex work.

                    • Ren September 29, 2009 at 5:58 PM #

                      Polly- You’re right in so much it is stupid to assume all women like the same things and that a sex worker would know tricks for pleasing a man’s partner if she has no idea what that woman likes. Ashame the man was too silly or stupid not to just ask his partner himself.

                    • hexy September 30, 2009 at 12:58 AM #

                      So why would a sex worker be able to give him better tips than any other heterosexual woman?

                      Because it’s part of what we do *shrug*

                      It’s not just the amount of sex, or the exposure to lots of different men. It’s the tapping into a network of other sex workers, who all have their tips and tricks.

                      I think this is being misread as some of us arguing that sex workers are “better” in bed than non sex workers. My point, at least, was more that if you wanted to improve your sexual skills, you could do a hell of a lot worse than seeing a sex worker and asking hir to help you do so. A surprising amount of people do.

                    • hexy September 30, 2009 at 1:12 AM #

                      Kris:

                      Hexy, how does that work when in Nevada the prostitutes are forced to stay at the brothels for days?

                      Because A: the Nevada brothel system is fairly unusual, and certainly not the model used by most sex industry establishments, and B: even being kept at a brothel for days doesn’t stop you from ever having non-commercial sex?

                      The idea that sex workers don’t have non-paid sexual and romantic relationships is a nasty piece of stigma that has real repercussions for sex workers.

                      I have never heard of boyfriends and husbands being allowed conjugal visits in Nevada’s brothels.

                      Why the fixation on Nevada?

                      In my neighborhood, a prostitute who makes eye contact with a pimp is understood to be asking for a new owner and the men sometimes have gun fights over who controls which girls and what turf. I resolutely do not believe pimps let their property give sex away for free to anyone of their free choosing.

                      Pimping is a product of prohibition… a particularly nasty product, but certainly not one that directly impacts the lives of all or most sex workers.

                      If you’re misleadingly using “sex worker” to talk about every Dita, Von, and Tease who sells pictures of her boobs online then you’re not really talking about the people the rest of us are talking about when expressing concerns over the deadly harms of sex work.

                      … you haven’t read any of my other comments, have you?

                  • hexy September 28, 2009 at 5:54 AM #

                    You’d probably have to have sex with a man to know what your body does and doesn’t like about having sex with men, though.

                    • Faith September 28, 2009 at 6:14 PM #

                      “You’d probably have to have sex with a man to know what your body does and doesn’t like about having sex with men, though.”

                      Is your body the only part of you that has sex? It certainly isn’t for me. I’m definitely with Polly on this one. You don’t have to actually do something to know that you wouldn’t enjoy it. I’ve never engaged in scat or watersports. I don’t have to have someone shit on me to know that I wouldn’t get off on it.

                    • Faith September 28, 2009 at 6:17 PM #

                      “…I didn’t claim anything against any of those points.”

                      James,

                      Yes, that’s exactly what you did. Maybe you didn’t -mean- to do that. But you did it none the less.

                    • James September 29, 2009 at 12:37 AM #

                      Faith, please don’t tell me what my views are. I get to tell you what they are, you don’t get to make up my mind for me.

                    • Faith September 29, 2009 at 1:26 AM #

                      “Heh, do you really want to know? ”

                      I very seriously doubt you could shock me, Ren.

                      “but yep, I do tend to think sex workers get some requests and such that other women probably do not”

                      I’m really thinking not. Your example below: I could very easily see some of the men I’ve had sex with making that request of me (or at least one in particular comes to mind). I really think that people underestimate just how much men request of the average woman. I also think they underestimate just how much a great number of average women provide.

                      “Oddest request I’ve had personally…very cold bath then “play dead” so dude could pretend he was preparing a body for a funeral. Hair, make up, oils, clothing, all that. Mortician fetish I suppose. You think that is so common place that women all over have been there and done that?”

                      Common place, no. But I’d say that it is not at all unheard of for average women to engage such requests.

                      “Also, Polly is correct again, i think sex workers see a more unvarnished side of human sexual proclivities. The rituals and cerebral foreplay of finding a partner, dating, so on…all that is out the window so what people like and do not like, want and do not want, is far more raw and out there from the get go.”

                      You of all people should know better than to assume that average every day people are not engaging in sex just for the sake of sex without all the “cerebral foreplay”.

                    • hexy September 29, 2009 at 3:32 AM #

                      No, Faith, your body definitely isn’t the only part of you that has sex. We were, however, talking about body reactions and response.

                      I agree with you that you do not have to do something to know you wouldn’t like it. I would say that you’d have to do it to know exactly how your body responded to it.

                    • polly styrene September 29, 2009 at 6:47 AM #

                      No, it’s the whole package I don’t like Hexy. I have been sexually assaulted, don’t know if that counts? Male sexuality is pretty unavoidable, unless you live on the moon, that’s the point.

                    • hexy September 30, 2009 at 1:02 AM #

                      Polly:

                      No, it’s the whole package I don’t like Hexy. I have been sexually assaulted, don’t know if that counts? Male sexuality is pretty unavoidable, unless you live on the moon, that’s the point.

                      I have no idea what this is a response to. :( Sorry! The stacked replies are getting very difficult to read.

                • polly styrene September 26, 2009 at 9:57 PM #

                  And actually, you know what there are a load of people who are way more enthusiastic about, and informed about what I do for a living than me. And most of them don’t get paid. They’re enthusiastic amateurs. Whereas for me it’s just work zzzzzzzzzzzzzz…….

                  • Ren September 27, 2009 at 7:34 AM #

                    Heh, yeah, there are a lot of go sex worker go people out there who have not done it….no question there.

                  • Ren September 27, 2009 at 7:38 AM #

                    Polly- actually a very straight forward question. I am a sex worker. Do you think you are more adept about speaking on the realies of sex work than I am? You are a Lesbian, I am not, would I be as adept at speaking on that as you would be?

                    • polly styrene September 27, 2009 at 9:17 PM #

                      No, absolutely not, of course I’m not, and I’ve never said that I don’t think. That’s why I tend to back what I’m saying up with examples of actual sex workers speaking for themselves.

                      I have said you don’t have to be a sex worker to have an opinion on the sex industry as an entity. And I will also say that not every sex worker agrees on sex work. Which kind of suggests to me that like most phenomena, it’s not as simple as it’s depicted. Sex workers aren’t a homogenous group any more than lesbians are.

                    • hexy September 29, 2009 at 3:33 AM #

                      Which kind of suggests to me that like most phenomena, it’s not as simple as it’s depicted. Sex workers aren’t a homogenous group any more than lesbians are.

                      *applause*

                  • Faith September 29, 2009 at 1:16 AM #

                    “Faith, please don’t tell me what my views are. I get to tell you what they are, you don’t get to make up my mind for me.”

                    I didn’t tell you what your views are, James. I told you what you said. Two very different things.

                    • James September 29, 2009 at 6:38 AM #

                      Faith, you have pretended that I’ve claimed you don’t know what’s what in your own sex like, & that I claimed that you need to be paid to enjoy fucking. I really can’t see where I did either such thing.

                  • Faith September 29, 2009 at 4:07 PM #

                    “I would say that you’d have to do it to know exactly how your body responded to it.”

                    Not necessarily, no. I’d say that all you need to know is how your body responds to similar situations in order to know how your body would respond. For instance, I know without engaging in electroshock that my body would respond by becoming aroused to such stimulation because I understand the impact that electricity has on the body and I also know that my body responds to pain with arousal (despite the fact that I do not psychologically enjoy pain).

                    While I see what you are attempting to state, I just can’t agree that it is necessarily true. I think it is true to some extent, sure, but not entirely true.

                    I also think the argument that a person can’t understand sex work without actually engaging in it is entirely bogus. One does not have to experience something to be able to conceptualize what that experience must be like or empathize with people who have had that experience. If that were true, most of these discussions that we have would be mostly pointless. For instance, it would be entirely pointless to try to get a man to understand how rape affects a woman if one has to have the experience to understand it. That obviously is not true. I have encountered men who have a reasonable understanding of why rape is so traumatic for women to experience. Empathy and understanding can result without actual experience.

                    • Ren September 29, 2009 at 5:54 PM #

                      Faith:

                      I literally mean no disrespect at all when I say this, and yes, empathy and understanding can go a long way….

                      But thinking it is “bogus” goes a long way to legitimize speaking for, about, over, around sex workers if one is of a mind to do it…without ever listening too, much less hearing them -or even letting them in on the conversation. I do not think you do that, but I think there are those who do.

                      I mean, I’ve not been truly and horribly sexually assaulted. I can empathize with and understand how awful that must be, but I am not sure I really understand how awful and life changing it is because I have not been there and I do not know what all goes into recovering from such a thing. Likewise, well…I’ve been set on fire. I can see that people can empathize and understand how much that hurt and what I’ve gone through with it has been rough and all…but I am not sure, unless one has been set on fire themselves, if they really know how “Gah!” the whole deal has been. So yes, when people talk about sexual assault, I am more likely to listen to them because I’ve not been there. When people talk about recovering from burns, I am more likely to listen to people who have actually been burned too.

                      Its not that anyone who has not experienced (insert whatever here) cannot empathize or understand, but people who have actually experienced it? Well, might just have a better idea about the realities of what they are talking about and the full scope of all that goes with it.

                    • hexy September 30, 2009 at 1:07 AM #

                      For instance, I know without engaging in electroshock that my body would respond by becoming aroused to such stimulation because I understand the impact that electricity has on the body and I also know that my body responds to pain with arousal (despite the fact that I do not psychologically enjoy pain).

                      See, I also become aroused by pain. Lots of different kinds. I fucking HATE electroshock, and I did not know this before trying it. *shrug*

                      I don’t think that non-sex workers should be completely baninated from dicussing the sex industry, but I do think there are certain things you just can’t understand unless you’ve done the job… and yes, I believe the same applies to rape.

                      I imagine that if it was so “bogus” that non sex workers couldn’t understand the lives and work of sex workers, I’d spend a lot less time tearing my hair in frustration and yelling “SHUT UP! You have no idea what you’re talking about!” when some non sex workers espoused on the industry.

  28. ASP September 26, 2009 at 2:30 AM #

    I’ve noticed a general trend in the porn-themed topics at this blog. Pro-porn menz comments are about 5X as long as feminist women’s comments. I have to scroll through like 3 pages each time Andrew posts to be able to read a 3 sentence post by a feminist woman. Menz must really like to type. No wonder pro-porn men are unwelcome in so many women’s spaces.

    • Andrew September 26, 2009 at 2:39 AM #

      Haha, my posts aren’t even that long. I’m also not very pro-porn, I mean I guess I am but I don’t come on here to give Nine Deuce shit for hating on it. Most of the longer ones were in regards to hierarchy, not porn.

      Maybe the reason the posts are so long is (1) because the topic requires it, or (2) because the men on here have be careful about their phraseology, or (3) some women’s comments are just kind of terse and dismissive sometimes?

      • James September 26, 2009 at 6:38 AM #

        If a radical feminist decides that you’re a “male supremacist” in some cases it can be very difficult to dissuage them. I’m not saying that every radfem is prejudices against men, but it’s not unknown. Most recently I got into trouble for suggesting that calling men a “health hazard” was bigoted. Accordingly: long posts clarifying the minutiae are indeed safer.

  29. Kay September 28, 2009 at 7:25 AM #

    Andrew is a twit – I’m sorry but it’s true.

  30. Mary September 29, 2009 at 8:33 AM #

    “Our entire social and economic system needs to be scrapped…” An “absolute shitpile we’ve created for ourselves…” You’d do better if you weren’t so hyperbolic.

    Hierarchy is beneficial to humanity.

    “You may be a pseudo-intellectual, but I’m a real one…” Funny.

    polly,
    Everything is natural.

    “Who is qualified to speak for ALL women …?” No one. We always need to preface our statements with, “The people I know..” or “There’s research that says most women…” etc.. Then we can go on with, “I wish all pornographers would die …” or “I think it would be a better world without sex work” or “I love being a prostitute” etc..

    • polly styrene September 30, 2009 at 6:52 AM #

      Polly: eveything is natural

      What even Pot Noodle? I agree that all material objects are ‘natural’ in the sense that they’re made of the same stuff, (atoms, which are of course made of other stuff) but if everything is natural, then Andrew’s arguments kind of come to a screeching halt.

      • Andrew September 30, 2009 at 1:09 PM #

        I don’t think *everything* is natural, but I do think we have survival instincts that respond in certain ways to certain situations. It is these instincts which many feminists refer to “masculine”, “social constructs”, “rape culture” etc. This would explain why they are so hard to change.

        I don’t know what argument you’re referring to specifically, otherwise I’d be more specific.

  31. polly styrene September 30, 2009 at 6:49 AM #

    Polly:

    No, it’s the whole package I don’t like Hexy. I have been sexually assaulted, don’t know if that counts? Male sexuality is pretty unavoidable, unless you live on the moon, that’s the point.

    I have no idea what this is a response to. :( Sorry! The stacked replies are getting very difficult to read.

    It was a response to the statement that if I had sex with a man I’d know what it was I didn’ t like about having sex with a man.

    • hexy September 30, 2009 at 7:14 AM #

      Right, got you!

      I certainly think it’s entirely possible to know that you would not enjoy sex with a man without necessarily having had sex with a man. As much as I cringe at the stereotype the words invoke, I “was a lesbian for a while”. Fluid sexuality, shit changed, I discovered I like people of all genders, blah blah blah. My point is that if I had had sex with a man when I was not oriented towards finding them attractive, it probably would have been a pretty unenjoyable experience. I can only theorise on the bits of sex-with-men that I enjoy now that I would have hated then… the smell of them, the secondary sex characteristics like body hair, etc and so forth.

      Perhaps my point is better served by focussing on an activity rather than something that seems to me to be as potentially flexible as sexual orientation*. Would you agree that, say, penetration is something that most people cannot assess whether they’d like it or not unless they’d tried it?

      *Note: Am aware this concept does not seem flexible to all humans.

      • polly styrene October 2, 2009 at 6:49 AM #

        I don’t know why you’re assuming being a lesbian doesn’t involve penetration Hexy. It doesn’t involve penises and the people they’re attached to.

        • James October 2, 2009 at 4:54 PM #

          Everyone’s seen Chasing Amy, right?

          • polly styrene October 2, 2009 at 10:12 PM #

            James no sensible person would watch a film which posits Ben Affleck* as a cure for lesbianism. Don’t be stupid. The only people who have seen Chasing Amy** are still suffering post traumatic stress disorder.

            *Possibly no sensible person would watch a film with Ben Affleck, full stop.

            **Also Gigli. Not about the opera singer.

            • Nine Deuce October 2, 2009 at 10:55 PM #

              I’ve seen it. I’ll never recover. Ben Affleck is the worst person in the universe.

              • polly styrene October 3, 2009 at 9:52 AM #

                I saw ten minutes on TV once and went to bed.

            • hexy October 3, 2009 at 2:44 AM #

              I liked it when I was about fifteen. Then I, ya know, grew up a bit.

        • hexy October 3, 2009 at 2:44 AM #

          Uh, I’m not… and I’m extremely aware of this. I’m not heterosexual.

          I thought I’d made it clear that I was shifting my point from orientations to behaviours because I was failing at expressing myself.

      • polly styrene October 2, 2009 at 6:53 AM #

        And the bit I would dislike is the ‘with men’ bit. This is kind of proving my point though about having lots of sex not making you an expert on other’s point of view and other’s sexuality.

        I have no idea why any female would want to be heterosexual. I accept that they do, because they tell me that’s the case, and I believe people understand THEIR own sexuality better than anyone else, but I don’t think shagging loads of men would change my incomprehension one iota.

        • hexy October 3, 2009 at 2:47 AM #

          I don’t expect that it would. As I said above, I’ve done a terrible job of conveying what I was trying to get across with this point, and it’s probably best abandoned.

          I will clarify I was not saying that anyone needs to have sex with a person of a particular gender to know that they are not oriented towards that gender, and I don’t think that having lots of sex makes anyone an expert on anyone else’s sexuality. My point was more that lots of sex with lots of different people can and often does lead to a person knowing/understanding a lot more about the physical acts.

  32. v October 3, 2009 at 1:11 PM #

    i lost track of the thread re whether sex workers have more experience of different types of sex than everyone else. but i want to respond with a couple of things –

    1/ ime – most of the sex being had in exchange for money etc is not wildly varying sex. its the, bend over, over in minutes type. esp in street work, where a punter and prostitute will go behind a wheelie bin or a skip or a wall or into a little lane or into a park or a car park etc. this is not varied or interesting or ‘special’ sex. the prostitute themselves doesnt play any part other than as just somewhere for some guy with a tenner in his pocket to stick his knob. sorry to be gross, but thats the reality of street work.

    from what ive heard, most brothel work is pretty much the same – paid by the short and specific time period, in and out in a jiffy.

    so other than learning that all sorts of guys are skeevy and sad, and that sex for those men doesnt require any sort of physical or emotional (positive) involvement on the part of their ‘partner’ – no more than they care about involvement from a melon or a fruit pie or anywhere else they stick it – what is this great extra knowledge of sex that the average sex worker or prostitute allegedly gets from these encounters?

    any discussion where sex workers are painted as worldly experienced ‘Companions’, is a discussion still seeped in classism and ignorance.

    2/ anyone who ever enjoyed (or not) an episode of eurotrash knows full well that there are no limits – no matter how ridiculous – to what people will get up to without any money involved.

    ditto anyone who has ever known any swingers (or done it) or has ever been to a tacky as fuck fetish night. theres all sorts of weird as anything sex going on out here even among the straightest and most boring seeming people we know. men over here are considered suspicious if they dont use porn ffs – the more sexual anecdotes you can give at a dinner party or a pub night out, the more normal you’ll seem. its when you dont do x or havent ever tried y that people raise an eyebrow.

    ren gives a typically pathetic (for the payer) example of a fetish she thinks only a sex worker would have ever learned about, but this is the internet and the 2000s. is anyone ever surprised anymore by any sexual fetish? desensitisation and inability to be surprised is the reason that porn has to keep getting more extreme.

    the point of sex work is not to explore limits or learn about the endless variety of fetishes or to discover pleasure at all – its just to do what youre told at the convenience of the punter for a fee.

    saying sex workers are better at sex or know more about it is like saying telephone customer services people are better at having enjoyable telephone calls. but we all know that most call centre staff are just reading from a script, theres no pleasure, invention, or education involved, and the last thing such a worker wants to do when they get home is answer the bloody phone.

    • Ren October 3, 2009 at 6:28 PM #

      V: Give it up. I could write about something Most Women Have not done and because I wrote it you would deem it pathetic. Are there people out there who have that fetish who are not sex workers and do it? Absolutely. Yes, there are few fetishes out there that “no one does”. There are fetishes a plenty all over the place with all kinds of people engaging in them. However, I still do think that sex workers see more of it than the average woman out there- she and her partner(s) might have a fetish or several, but she is probably not as likely to be asked (or paid) to engage in quite the variety of them that a sex worker is. That is my point. I sort of think sex workers see it all- good, bad, ugly, wierd, whatever- when it comes to human sexuality. I seriously doubt a great number of women out there have done the dead body fetish. Do they exist, certainly, they do. Could you find it on the net- even whole communities about that fetish? Absolutely. Are women who are not sex workers across the globe engaging in that fetish on a regular basis, along with countless others, perhaps all in the same night? I find that unlikely. Sorry if true=lame for you.

      Then again, I am sure if a prostituted woman came here and discussed a similiar thing people would be swooping in to say how wierd and odd it was and how horrible it is that prostitutes have to do things non-prostituted women don’t.

      It’s all in the game of spin, I suspect. Still doesn’t change the fact that I beleive women who engage in sex for money see more of the wierd or kinky or whatever than non-sex worker women do…up close and personal and not on the internet and all.

      And I never said they were better at sex. It’s not a competition. Hey, if people are happy in their sex lives, whatever those include and with consenting of age partners and all- I am happy for them.

      • v October 4, 2009 at 2:27 AM #

        i wasnt calling you pathetic ren. i said your customers fetish was typically pathetic. and it is. and its not really that uncommon – ive had the misfortune of meeting too many men who seem to view unconscious women as an opportunity for one sided ‘sex’, or are turned on by lifeless women.

        but well done you for (once again) finding something that wasnt actually said to take personally. it beats responding to the points made! you just repeated your original bit about how sex workers are more experienced loveeerrrrsss blahblah and ignored any challenge. but there are no grounds at all for what youre saying. its just your opinion and of course youre going to blow your own trumpet, its who you are, and youre hardly going to admit your clients could get the same service, a better one even, for free elsewhere.

        but youre among peers here, ren, and not clients. maybe the ‘sex workers do it better’ t shirt and bumper sticker is high fiving brilliant among those who think theyre cool cos theyre hur hur doing it but the rest of us can surely spot the advertising gimmick for what it is.

        • Ren October 4, 2009 at 5:21 AM #

          Oh gods, where the hell did I say anyone did anything better? No where. Not once. I said I think sex workers probably see more wierd stuff…nothing about who did anything better, but hey, once again, lets see you actually miss that and so on, blah blah blah, basically what you said to me. I never said one word about better. And guess what, sure enough, clients could probably get various kinks or whatever for free and better…especially if they are things I am not particularly into! Look, the grave admission right there!

          And I do not own such t-shirt or bumpersticker, thanks.

          As I have said several times, its not about better, its not a competition, and no where have I tried to make it such. I said I think sex workers see more of a variety of “odd”. Nothing else, it is you who is reading all kinds of other crap into that statement, but that crap is nothing I’ve said.

    • polly styrene October 3, 2009 at 9:59 PM #

      Well that’s my point V. Busman’s holiday syndrome. Loads of people think my job is interesting, but I’d run a mile from what I do out of working hours. Cos it’s work.

    • hexy October 4, 2009 at 2:36 PM #

      V:

      “most of the sex being had in exchange for money etc is not wildly varying sex. its the, bend over, over in minutes type. esp in street work,”

      I wouldn’t say “most of the time”. Sex work clients and services are as varied as sex workers. You’re entirely right that A LOT of the time sex work sessions are short and routine, but that’s only one slice of the industry. All sex workers have a particular type of service they do so often they could go through it on autopilot… but I’d be very surprised if you could produce even a small number who had NEVER had a surprising or unusual request.

      That still doesn’t mean that sex workers aren’t being sought out for their skills. The most low-cost production-line brothels still have workers who are more popular than others because of things they’re good at! I completely agree with you on the classist implications of setting any group of sex workers as something “better”, but the dismissal of that concept doesn’t automatically mean that sex work is not skilled work.

      “the point of sex work is not to explore limits or learn about the endless variety of fetishes or to discover pleasure at all – its just to do what youre told at the convenience of the punter for a fee.”

      This does not match my experiences, or those of many of the sex workers I know and work with, in the slightest. Almost every sex worker I know has a humerous anecdote or two about first-time clients “finding out” that they aren’t the one in charge once the booking starts… I’ve got a fair few of those myself, even though some of the services I offer are pro-sub.

      “saying sex workers are better at sex or know more about it is like saying telephone customer services people are better at having enjoyable telephone calls.but we all know that most call centre staff are just reading from a script, theres no pleasure, invention, or education involved, and the last thing such a worker wants to do when they get home is answer the bloody phone.”

      Telephone customer service operators tend to be, for example, more comfortable and less insecure talking on the phone, tend to have at least some training and reference for resolving phone based tension and conflict, and the good ones are VERY skilled at drawing information from the client about the specifics of their issue so as to help them fix it. It’s hardly “reading from a script” alone. Have you ever worked in phone based customer service?

      And no, sometimes when I come home from a sex work shift, the last thing I want to do is engage in sex or kink. That’s hardly an argument against sex work. Sometimes I just don’t want to fuck my partner for any number of reasons.

      • Ren October 4, 2009 at 3:08 PM #

        “And no, sometimes when I come home from a sex work shift, the last thing I want to do is engage in sex or kink. That’s hardly an argument against sex work. Sometimes I just don’t want to fuck my partner for any number of reasons.”

        Word. There are plenty of people who after a long day of work have no desire to have sex, no matter what their jobs are.

      • v October 4, 2009 at 9:35 PM #

        Hexy – unfortunately I have worked many, many telephone customer services jobs.

        • hexy October 5, 2009 at 6:25 AM #

          Solidarity :)

          I’ve done time in both the telemarketing variety and the tech support variety. Certainly not my favourite job.

  33. hexy November 1, 2009 at 9:14 PM #

    I don’t think your language COULD be any more voyeuristic!

    Also, HIV? Not contracted through viewing porn.

  34. Imaginary December 11, 2009 at 8:50 PM #

    I like this post Nine Deuce. Yay! To be honest, I don’t really see how the sex industry is in the slightest way empowering. Isn’t the worker getting payed to follow orders and give up their power?

  35. kristina February 18, 2010 at 3:15 PM #

    Could a former stripper please inform me as to the following scenario?

    My husband said he wasn’t one of those guys flashing money around the strippers and being what any patriarchal male would consider overtly misogynistic (though I informed him just being there made him such)….but anyway he said the strippers would always come to him and his friends because they weren’t asshole-ish like the other guys there…anyway…I told him yeah, that’s their job…to make you feel special, the fact that you’re there and that you’re a man, that’s reason enough for them not to like you…they didn’t hang out with you cause you were awesome…they hung out with you because the prospect of money without having to feel like a fuck-hole.

  36. Leah Sweeney December 8, 2012 at 5:55 AM #

    Here’s a little bit of deliciousness for you to mull over. A “scientific study” whose findings show; not only are porn stars NOT predominately drug-addled and emotionally-damaged women- but that they are actually MORE well-adjusted than women who view intimacy as an act which should have nothing to do with the exchange of capital:

    http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/sunnews/lifestyle/archives/2012/11/20121125-092536.html

    And it was published in the super-prestigious “Journal of Sex Research”, so you know the results must be empirically verifiable and reproducible. You can’t argue with science. So if you need me, I’ll be in the California phone listings under my porn name of “Selma Pussy”, trying to build my self-esteem by getting stuffed by stranger cock.

  37. Leah Sweeney December 9, 2012 at 9:08 PM #

    Oh, and another thing. If porn (and it’s sister prostitution) were really so empowering, those porn producers and pimps would have to be really fucking stupid, eh? Women should be paying THEM for the privilege of partaking in all those beneficial, empowering gang bangs, facials, double penetrations, etc. Funny how such successful businessmen haven’t yet figured that out and started capitalizing on the droves of women clamboring to rent their bodies out. My bullshit meter, for one, is going haywire.

  38. lizor December 10, 2012 at 7:33 AM #

    A warning about the link supplied by Leah Sweeney. Leah, I make this comment independently of your own comment.

    The Sun news network (as in Page 3 daily porn shot “Sun”) is a relatively new cable network in Canada modelled after Fox news. They are continually applying for broader distribution and the strongest factor against this has been that Canadians have largely chosen to ignore them and not provide them the numbers to make their case to CRTC for broader network access.

    Clicking on the link may help them in their case that the public wants this sort of ideologically-driven media. I could be wrong about this, but whenever I can, I try to look for other sources on the stories they “cover”.

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