I don’t drink Haterade, man.

15 Jul

What I mean by that is that I am never, ever bashing any group of people that isn’t harming women.

A few weeks ago, two posts appeared on Renegade Evolution taking me to task for my anti-porn views and for some purported mischaracterizations of the sex industry in my porn series and on my about page. I don’t expect that Ren and myself will ever agree on the abstract ethical issues involved in the porn industry, but I do think there is some common ground that can be reached, or at least that we can use each other to clarify our own positions. At least that’s what I plan to do.

As a result of the Kyle Payne incident (Kyle – if you’re reading this, KILL YOURSELF), I’ve been reading a few blogs lately that I’ve never read before. I can’t say that I’ve been persuaded of much, but I can say that I’ve developed a somewhat more nuanced view of some of the positions/arguments of a few of my opponents in the porn/sex work debate. Either that or I’ve figured out how better to respond to them. Anyway, I hope what I’m about to write doesn’t turn out to be too nice and disappoint my readers; I promise I’ll try to throw in some broad generalizations and insults, but this is about as likely to be funny as Tim Allen at a time-share owners’ convention.

I admit that I make a lot of generalizations when I discuss the sex industry. I have to. It’s a huge topic. So I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised when people make generalizations about radical feminism or even about me based on a small sample of what I’ve written. As such, I didn’t really have a heart attack when I read that Ren and some of her commenters thought me guilty of slut-shaming, transphobia (funny, since I’ve never mentioned trans people, EVER), and sundry other uncool things (including, to my dismay, faulty logic!). In one post, one of her commenters even accused me of violating Rage Against the Machine’s copyright and trying to ride their street cred to some kind of uber-rebel status, which is fucking hilarious. First off, I’m way more radical than those assholes. I don’t need to get dreadlocks or jump up and down with black socks on to prove that I’m fighting The Man. Radical means outside the mainstream, and way more people know about the uber-corporate bullshit funk “music” of Rage Against the Machine than know about my totally indie blog. That means I’m way more radical than they are (har har). Besides, I saw that singer guy Zac La Cucaracha at Aron’s records in LA when I lived there, and he didn’t look all that radical to me. He was probably buying a Radiohead CD or something. If he was really a radical, he would’ve stolen a bunch of Rudimentary Peni CDs and kicked a cop’s ass on his way back to his skateboard, then ridden back to the squat he shared with GG Allin and Wendy O. Williams. I mean, that’s what I did that day.

Anyway, I’ve decided to spend my Monday evening correcting some of the misconceptions some people have about radical feminism (well, actually, just of my kind of radical feminism, which I admit isn’t necessarily representative) and getting a little more specific about my ideas on porn. In the spirit of this week’s climate of non-assholism between feminists of various stripes, I’m going to do a lot of qualifying, but I suspect I’ll still be forced to make generalizations here and there.

People assume that radical feminists have a problem with sex workers, or at least that we have paternalistic attitudes when it comes to sex workers and that we deny them any agency when making our arguments. That, my friends, is bullshit. I’ve got nothing negative to say about sex workers, but I’ve got a problem with the sex industry. There is, after all, a difference between the two. I’m not trying to speak for sex workers, or tell them that their experiences aren’t what they say they are. That would be presumptuous, and if I was doing that, I’d deserve the shit I get from sex-positive types. What I am saying is that the sex industry is not a feminist industry. I don’t give a fuck this way or that what individual women choose to do with themselves. I’m not here to tell people how to make life choices. I do have sympathy for women who suffer within and because of the sex industry, but I’m not in the business of telling those who are happy with what they’re doing that they shouldn’t be doing it.

I’ve read that it offends pro-sex-work types that radical feminists supposedly take it upon themselves to pity sex workers. That shit would piss me off too, if it were the case. I’m not going to tell you I pity sex workers. I pity women who are being abused and I pity women who are stuck doing something they do not want to do because they need to make a living or because they’re being coerced into something. Women who are doing something by choice I don’t pity, because I’ve got no reason to (but we’ll have to talk about “choice” later). Why would I pity someone who isn’t unhappy? I’m not sitting here telling sex workers that they’re deluded, that they don’t see what I see and that I feel sorry for them in their ignorance. I’m simply laying my theoretical and ethical issues with the sex industry out and asking people to consider them. If you disagree, I don’t feel sorry for you, I just think you’ve got different priorities. I’d ask for the same in return. I’ve read a lot of comments from people in which I’ve been diagnosed with all manner of emotional problems. I don’t have emotional problems, I have ethical objections to what I see as an inherently problematic industry.

No arguments yet? Good. Here’s where the problems start. Get naked, hump away, take pictures, make a video, party down, but when you’re done, don’t come and tell me that what you’ve been doing is a feminist act. Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining, as it were. Working from within an industry that is inherently anti-feminist, one cannot create a feminist product or further the feminist cause. I’m going to have to drop the p-word here — in a patriarchy, women are valued for their usefulness to men. One of the ways in which women are useful to men is as sex objects. When women choose to allow themselves to be treated like sex objects, they are acquiescing to the patriarchy, not fighting it.

Oh! Wait, wait, wait! What about lesbian porn? And I don’t mean the fake kind dudes like, I mean, like, the real kind! Gender Studies 101, my dear. First off, gender binaries hold in most same-sex relationships, and porn is usually no exception. Even in the case that one can’t pick out a “top” or a “bottom” in same-sex porn, the element of objectification persists, and objectification is outside of the realm of feminism.  There isn’t really a consensus on what feminism is, but I’ll bet that no one would argue with the proposition that, at a minimum, feminism is about gaining recognition for women’s humanity. As such, it can’t mesh with pornography. You see, when we use pictures of human beings to masturbate, we are turning human beings into objects, and objects are not human. The social contract involved in human interaction is obliterated, never exists, which is why people use porn, for its convenience. Making people objects is easier than treating them like people with feelings. It is OK to use objects, but it is not OK to use human beings. That is why turning human beings into objects is not OK unless you are ready to admit that what you are doing has nothing to do with feminism.

I realize that sex work is one way that women can gain power in a patriarchy in which their sources of power are limited, and so I rarely call sex workers sellouts, but I don’t need anyone who is participating in an industry that pumps out anti-woman propaganda telling me that what they’re doing amounts to feminism. That’s reductionist and insulting. I’m not tremendously happy that women participate in the sex industry. I’d like it if they didn’t need to, or didn’t want to, or if the industry didn’t exist, but we live in a culture in which those conditions are unlikely to develop this week. Still, I’m not labeling every sex worker an Uncle Tom, and I’m not saying that the term “feminist sex worker” is an oxymoron.

I will say that the term “feminist porn” is one. Someone can be a sex worker and also be a feminist, but they can’t logically say that sex work is a feminist act. Women may create pornography, run their own brothels, or own strip clubs, but what they are doing is acting as agents of the patriarchy, not as its opponents. People often argue that, in producing porn, women are transforming themselves from objects into subjects, but subjecthood that is defined by outside forces (the P) cannot truly be deemed subjecthood. I don’t argue with the idea that many of the women who create, participate in, and consume the products of the sex industry are exercising their agency, but I do think that they are doing so within a limited set of parameters, parameters that preclude feminist action.

I’ve been told that I’m missing the point when I don’t see that women like Jenna Jameson are feminists because they have taken control of some aspects of their own participation in the porn industry. I understand how someone could construe women taking leadership roles in any industry as a gain for feminism, but I don’t see it that way. If Jenna Jameson was a feminist, she wouldn’t participate in the creation and distribution of a product that harms women, or she’d at least realize that her participation in that industry was a thing completely separate from whatever kind of feminism she’s claiming. Saying that women working in porn are feminists requires taking a very myopic view of the world and women’s place in it. Let’s say there was a right-wing men’s organization that wanted to fight to keep women out of higher education. Would a woman attorney working for that organization be a feminist just because she’d reached a lofty career position within her field? Or would the actual results of her actions matter more in the grand scheme of things? Pornography has a net negative effect on women’s lives, on our chances for equality, and on our personal relationships. I won’t argue that there is no such thing as a woman who is into porn, who thinks it’s been a force for good in her life, but most women do not see pornography as a boon, because on the whole it isn’t one.

Let’s talk about this term, “sex industry.” Is it just me, or is that kind of a gross combination of words? I’ll readily admit that I’m all for regulating the fuck out of capitalism. Let’s get that into the open up front. Free market fundamentalism is either naive or heartless (likely a bit of both), and the only way to protect the many from the predations of the powerful few is to control the capricious elements of capitalism on behalf of the many. Call me a socialist, whatever.

That means that there are a few realms of human existence in which I think the concept of the primacy of profit is obscene and immoral (e.g. war, health, and sex). We all see what the primacy of profit does when industry and government get together. I know it’s a cliche at this point, but Eisenhower was right about the military-industrial complex. When war equals profit, those who stand to profit will push for war, and when those in charge of deciding whether to go to war stand to profit, either directly or in the form of campaign contributions, war is guaranteed to happen and to continue indefinitely.

That profit supersedes everything else should be recognized as immoral and unacceptable, but people in the US seem very, very reluctant to question the wisdom of men who, three hundred years ago, thought absolutely unfettered markets were the answer to all the world’s ills. Never mind the fact that we’ve yet to ever allow markets to operate freely, that our government has intervened in the operation of free markets constantly and consistently for centuries. We’ve fought wars over tariff practices, we’ve used our military and intelligence apparatuses to back American corporations’ agendas in foreign countries against the wishes of the people in those countries, we’ve used governmental policy and funds to promote certain industries and suppress others, we’ve subsidized farming, oil, electronics, and scads of other industries at various times because of their perceived importance to our greater goals. Government does not leave markets be. Government interferes with markets on a daily basis. What we ought to be paying attention to is not whether markets are interfered with, but rather how we choose to interfere with them, to what end, and for whose gain.

Profit should not be more important than the health of a medical patient. Profit should not be more important than human life. Profit should not be more important than human rights. But it is, and that’s the foundation of my objection to many of the things I think feminism is and should be here to address (porn, misogynistic advertising, sexist entertainment media, etc.). Corporations have the rights of individual human beings but lack our sense of right and wrong, and that is where the problem lies. We are asked every day to trust amoral corporations with our physical, mental, social, and financial well-being, and it’s quite foolish of us that we do so. Corporations are responsible to their shareholders, to their bottom line, not to the consumer or the general public. Why would we trust the most important things in human life to amoral corporations? Why would we view their activities with anything other than extreme suspicion? And when they are providing goods and services to a market that is inherently misogynistic, why would we ever assume that they are putting out a feminist product? Simple economic thought tells me that, in the absence of demand for a feminist product, one won’t be supplied.

I don’t suppose that any pro-porn feminist would claim that rape porn is feminist in nature, or even that most mainstream porn is feminist in nature, but I’d bet that plenty of them would tell me that there is such a thing as feminist porn, and that’s where we come up to the wall. I don’t think it exists. If we lived in a world in which women were as human as men, we wouldn’t get excited about seeing women objectified, just as we currently don’t get excited by seeing men objectified (on the whole — I know exceptions exist, but that’s what they are, exceptions).

Porn is misogynistic. I know that a lot of pro-porn types will tell me that such is not the case, that a lot of the performers are actually into what’s going on, but that isn’t what I am talking about. I’m saying that, despite what the sex workers involved think, porn is inherently misogynistic. If you want to try to provide me with an example of porn that is not misogynistic, go ahead, but I’ve never seen nor heard of such a thing. Pornography is about power as much as it is about sex, power that has itself been sexualized. When male dominance and female submission is sexualized, misogyny has been sexualized, and depictions of sexualized power are thus misogynistic. Bring up same-sex porn all day, tell me about BDSM in which women are dominant, but remember the gender role binary that still exists in same-sex porn, and remember who is paying for depictions of women dominating men, remember who is playing a role at whose behest.

I’ll get to the idea of consent and regulation in the sex industry, the social harms of porn, and some other stuff later.


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47 Responses to “I don’t drink Haterade, man.”

  1. Maggie Hays July 15, 2008 at 1:06 AM #

    porn is inherently misogynistic.

    Nine, I couldn’t agree more.

    Great post! :)

  2. bonobobabe July 15, 2008 at 1:41 AM #

    You’re new to blogging. So, the sex-pos feminists have just found you.

    From what I’ve witnessed, they either troll radfem blogs and boards or they read them and then go back to their blogs and boards and trash radfems.

    Me? If I don’t agree with something, I just don’t read it. Life is too short to worry about what other people are doing. You aren’t a radfem? Fine. Who cares. Blog about what you think and don’t worry about the radfems out there blogging.

  3. Maggie Hays July 15, 2008 at 2:52 AM #

    You’re new to blogging. So, the sex-pos feminists have just found you.

    From what I’ve witnessed, they either troll radfem blogs and boards or they read them and then go back to their blogs and boards and trash radfems.

    Exactly!

    Nine, I agree with Bonobobabe. They’re trying to get your attention in order to distract you from your great anti-porn work. My advice is don’t give it to them.

    Ignore, ignore, ignore them. That’s what I do 99% of the time (I ignore them and I’m now going on toward ignoring them 100% of the time).

    As for the issue of the female performers/prostitutes, while some of a few of them are in porn by choice, many are there ’cause of lack of choice and their bodies and minds are terribly harmed & abused in the ‘sex’ industry:

    http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/c-prostitution-research.html

    http://www.againstpornography.org/womeninsexindustry.html

    Nine, trust me, they aren’t worth your time. Ignoring them is now becoming my strength. I do not care whatever hatred they wanna direct toward me next. When you ignore the pro-porn blogs, it feels like breathing.

    Nine, I’ve met you recently on the blogosphere and I do think you’re really cool! And I will email you sometime (to tell you about something very important I wanna let you know about in private). Is that okay?

    Anyway, have you got my email address?

  4. Maggie Hays July 15, 2008 at 3:03 AM #

    Of course what I meant is that the pro-porners aren’t worth your time (and energy).

    :)

  5. Nine Deuce July 15, 2008 at 3:51 AM #

    Maggie and bonobobabe – I’m not responding to them, I’m merely laying out the details of some of my positions. I’m glad I read their blogs because it’s helped me elaborate a little bit in my own mind on some things that are very important to me.

    Maggie – Send me an e-mail for sure. I don’t have your address, unless it’s on your page.

  6. psych July 15, 2008 at 5:20 AM #

    Anyone who accuses you, of all people, of slut-shaming has not read even a paragraph of your blog and appears to be trying to discredit you in order to escape having to acknowledge your point.

    People who use straw men aren’t just irritating. They are suspicious. I can’t imagine why someone would use a straw man if they have any confidence in their argument.

  7. Laurel July 15, 2008 at 9:13 AM #

    I mostly lurk (although I’m pretty sure I’ve read all your posts), but I’ve gotta say I loved this post. I don’t think it came off as defensive or as a response to the “sex-pos” types, more as the clarification you meant it to be.

    As for the idea that porn isn’t misogynistic if the woman is playing the dominant role, I’m reminded of my ex-husb–I mean, of the following exchange from Ab Fab:

    Saffy: That’s degrading to women!
    Pastsy: What do you mean? She’s holding the whip.

    (-:

  8. Konservo July 15, 2008 at 9:16 AM #

    I would write an insightful and thought provoking comment pertaining to your views on porn…. however, it’s about 5:00am here and I need to go read your previous posts on that topic (not to mention the last few paragraphs of this post).

    That said, I can offer this:

    “Radical” actually means “pertaining to the root or source” and, depending on the context, radical views could be part of the presupposed beliefs which guide many “mainstream” views.

    As far as the morality of porn goes, any argument for or against porn that only considers the pros and cons of a particular species of porn is inherently weak. I’ll have to go back to read your other posts but, from what I’ve read so far, it seems that you’re not objecting to porn, rather you’re looking at porn that features women or a woman.

    You see, when we use pictures of human beings to masturbate, we are turning human beings into objects, and objects are not human. The social contract involved in human interaction is obliterated, never exists, which is why people use porn, for its convenience. Making people objects is easier than treating them like people with feelings. It is OK to use objects, but it is not OK to use human beings.

    This bit is good because it speaks to the moral grounds (which apply to men and women) which constitute a legitimate objection to porn. If your objection depends on a specific group of people (e.g. women) then you are talking about welfare and not morals. The welfare of a specific group of people is certainly important and there are other moral issues involved, however, those moral issues usually involve viewing the group of people whose welfare is in jeopardy as poor victims of circumstance (objects) in need of help from a stronger group that has found themselves in a position to take the victims’ welfare on as a project.

    Or something.

  9. Maggie Hays July 15, 2008 at 11:06 AM #

    Maggie – Send me an e-mail for sure.

    Okay, hang on, Nine. I will at some point today. :)

  10. Nine Deuce July 15, 2008 at 1:18 PM #

    Konservo – I was kidding about that “radical” business. I was making fun of the dude who thought I was trying to emulate a band I think is tremendously embarrassing.

  11. Maggie Hays July 15, 2008 at 3:01 PM #

    Email sent, Nine. ;)

  12. Aoife July 15, 2008 at 3:43 PM #

    Awesome post, Nine Deuce. I’m still trying to understand a lot of this myself particularly the link between capitalism, porn and radical feminism. I’ve read shit on it before but you’re so down to earth, it doesn’t feel like homework reading your views on it. Thanks.

  13. pload July 15, 2008 at 3:48 PM #

    heh, this is something I was going to blog about soon as well. Totally agree. While sex work may be individually empowering to women, as a whole it just re-enforces the idea that womens’ sexuality is a purchasable commodity. In a (theoretical) world where both genders were equal, that might not be a problem. In our current world it just encourages the objectification of women.

  14. Nine Deuce July 15, 2008 at 4:07 PM #

    pload – I don’t know that I’d say sex work is ever individually empowering. It can provide temporary power to the sex worker, but in the grand scheme of things, I don’t see any real power being gained.

  15. syndicalist702 July 15, 2008 at 5:02 PM #

    “While sex work may be individually empowering to women, as a whole it just re-enforces the idea that womens’ sexuality is a purchasable commodity.”

    DING!DING!DING!DING!DING!DING!DING!DING!

  16. Konservo July 16, 2008 at 1:33 AM #

    people in the US seem very, very reluctant to question the wisdom of men who, three hundred years ago, thought absolutely unfettered markets were the answer to all the world’s ills. Never mind the fact that we’ve yet to ever allow markets to operate freely, that our government has intervened in the operation of free markets constantly and consistently for centuries. We’ve fought wars over tariff practices, we’ve used our military and intelligence apparatuses to back American corporations’ agendas in foreign countries against the wishes of the people in those countries, we’ve used governmental policy and funds to promote certain industries and suppress others, we’ve subsidized farming, oil, electronics, and scads of other industries at various times because of their perceived importance to our greater goals. Government does not leave markets be.

    Very true. But why should we never mind those facts which have rendered people tools of the government as officials try to shape and plan the economy? While I do condemn the view that making profits takes priority over any and all moral issues, I do not condemn freedom. Capitalism does not mean total anarchy, one must still abide by the laws. Capitalism just means that an individual is entitled to private property, nothing more nothing less.

    The reason why Americans are reluctant to question those 300 year old ideas is because America was founded by men who believed that “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” are inalienable rights of all individuals. Capitalism follows from these rights, for “the free market” is nothing more than the natural interactions and relations in which people find themselves when they are exercising whatever amount of freedom is available to them. There is no such thing as “absolute” freedom and there is no such thing as an absolutely free market, but classical economics merely studies how the rates of prices, wages, investments, etc. respond to various changes in the behaviors of human beings.

    On the other hand, Socialism is when the central government controls the means of production and has to balance the way people “spend” and “earn” money by setting down rules about how much one can “buy” and “earn.” It should be clear after 100+ years of failed socialist experiments that socialism is not a viable approach to solving economic problems.

    Profit should not be more important than the health of a medical patient. Profit should not be more important than human life. Profit should not be more important than human rights. But it is, and that’s the foundation of my objection to many of the things I think feminism is and should be here to address (porn, misogynistic advertising, sexist entertainment media, etc.).

    Whoa! I know of nobody who argues that profit is more important than medical well-being, human rights, life, etc.! This is patently absurd. If this were true than the murdering thief who makes is money by breaking into homes, killing those inside and cleaning out the house would be given moral praise for his devotion to making profits. But reality shows that it’s the murders, con artists and thieves that are despised by our society and are subject to our most harsh legal repercussions.

    Why would we trust the most important things in human life to amoral corporations? Why would we view their activities with anything other than extreme suspicion?

    This is actually an argument against Socialism, Fascism and Corporatism. It sound more like you’re a Classical Liberal, Nine-Deuce.

    Is male homosexual porn inherently misogynist?

  17. Nine Deuce July 16, 2008 at 2:00 AM #

    Marxism I don’t subscribe to, but European-style socialistic capitalism I can deal with. I know what -isms I’m discussing here, and I know what people tend to call people like me (socialists), even if such a label isn’t apt. Most people don’t know the differences between the different types of socialism, fascism, corporatism, etc., and so I get called a socialist all the time. I don’t care what anyone calls me, as long as they understand what I’m getting at.

    I think there are a few people who argue, through their actions, that profit supersedes health, life, and human rights, for that is the operating assumption of the health insurance industry, pharma, the war industries, and the porn industry, just to name a few.

    As for the issue of freedom, limits need to exist. We can’t award personhood to corporations that have no sense of right or wrong, and we can’t allow one person (human or corporate) to exercise his “freedom” to the detriment of the freedoms of others. I’m also not one of these people who believes that the words of the Founding Fathers amount to some sort of perfect divine revelation. The rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are a nice idea, but the real meaning of those rights is often twisted and hardly agreed upon these days.

    Male gay porn can be misogynist in the sense that there is usually a “feminine” role being assumed by one of the participants. But in a more fundamental sense, the answer is no. Men in gay porn, when they stop filming, become human beings again, whereas women do not. There is a lot more free agency in men’s decision to participate in porn than there is in women’s, because we live in a misogynistic society. One thing to note about gay male porn is that there is a lot less overt abuse taking place. A large part of mainstream het porn includes obvious elements of domination and abuse, from name calling to outright violence to more subtle things like body positioning and camera angles that denote an extreme power differential, whereas in male gay porn such is most often not the case. Even when there is a power differential in gay porn, it is intimated that both parties are playing at it.

  18. Slutty McWhore July 16, 2008 at 6:55 AM #

    Quite frankly, I find the saddest thing about the rad-fem/sex-positive sex work debates is that feminists should be at each other’s throats.

    I’m a sex worker, and I can understand both perspectives although I obviously veer more towards the sex-positive perspective.

    I think it’s useless for both sides to attack each other with such vitriol (although I’m not suggesting that this post was doing such a thing). We have so much to teach each other, and we should all sit and listen instead of trading insults.

  19. Jen July 16, 2008 at 11:52 AM #

    Excellent post, as always 9-2. Your discussion of the intersection of misogyny and capitalism is something that I don’t get the opportunity to see very often in the feminist movement outside of the radical grassroots. I wrote a very long and terribly pedantic thesis on it for my Philosophy B.A. a while back. Shocked quite a few people.

    Patriarchy (and I love that word, even if nobody else seems to) is so intertwined with the notion of capitalism that it is horrible to behold. Our entire society, in matters of economics and gender, is based on the construction of consent to inequality and an internalization of superiority to the chances of birth.

    Lurking on anti-feminist or pro-sex blogs is a great way to hone the rhetoric, isn’t it? A while back, some MRAs trolled my posts after I had a brief discussion of their policies, and then slunk back to their blog to contemplate my dusty vagina and how “glad they are that some media outlets are letting the voices of men finally be heard”. Here was an entire self-sufficient community of deluded pseudo-intellectuals producing the most ridiculous satire for my consumption, absolutely free.

    Besides, I read the posts you linked to, and its hardly anything worrisome. Sex-positives (and capitalists, no coincidence there) are typically so concerned with individuality and single cases that they discard trends and data for their pithy facade of titillation, trendiness, and profit.

    And you’re totally right when you pull the usual “piss… rain” comparison out. If some are to be believed, anything a woman does is an act of defiance against the patriarchy in so long as she calls it feminism. Why, it’s a post-feminist society! Revolution is over, nothing to see here. We’re all feminists now, don’t ya know, so everything we do exists in a magical vacuum free of consequences.

    You know, if porn and people looking at my tits and getting fucked was all it took to be free of this disgusting society of rape, violence, and sexism, I’d be the freest motherfucker out there considering my status as a rape survivor, former porn addict, recovering nymphomaniac, and a teenager who was immensely proud of her fifteen year-old DD chest.

    I say it is so, thus it is. Magical thinking for everyone!

  20. pload July 16, 2008 at 12:46 PM #

    Nine, I think that is where you and RenegadeEvolution completely disagree. She would say that sex work is a personally empowering thing. “You see, you will never see me saying my job, my industry, is empowering to women, on the whole, as a tribe. ” You obviously feel differently

    As a guy, I have no idea what is empowering for a woman, so it isn’t really my place to comment on it (hence me saying it ‘may’ be more empowering). It does seem to me that this is fundamental split between second- and third-wave feminism–between trying to speak for the entire gender vs. speaking as an individual.

  21. syndicalist702 July 16, 2008 at 2:33 PM #

    I’m watching this series of videos right now, if you’re interested.

  22. Nine Deuce July 16, 2008 at 3:42 PM #

    My argument is that it may be empowering in a limited sense, but on the whole even the individual woman still lives within a patriarchy that devalues her.

  23. Lara July 16, 2008 at 3:50 PM #

    Hey Nine, I do not mean at all to interrupt the thread, but I wanted to invite you to my new blog:

    http://rychousmama.wordpress.com

    It’s barely a day old, but I will be adding new posts to it probably every few days :)

  24. Nine Deuce July 16, 2008 at 4:00 PM #

    No problem. Everyone get over there and check her out. I like that first post (especially since I’m something of a hater of northeastern literati magazines).

  25. Nine Deuce July 16, 2008 at 4:05 PM #

    Slutty – I often find myself engaging in harsh wordsmithing when discussing this issue, but I tend to agree that it’s not too productive. I think it’d make more sense if we’d spend more time trying to explain the details of our positions and understand each other than calling each other assholes/reactionaries/sellouts/whatever. I don’t suppose that means I’ll always be above a generalization or two, but I think I might try, since my aim is to convince rather than alienate.

  26. Trin July 17, 2008 at 3:18 AM #

    92,

    As one of those “sex pozzes”, I just have one question: can you point me to any one of us who has actually said “engaging in sex work is a feminist act?” Because I can’t think of anywhere I’ve ever seen that claim. The claim I see — and make myself — is that there is nothing *anti-feminist* about being a sex worker, being into BDSM (including as a woman who submits to men), etc.

    That may seem like a small difference, but it’s a huge one to me. When I say that my interest in BDSM *led* me to feminism, I’m not claiming that the wage gap narrows every time I tie my partner up. That wouldn’t make any sense!

    What I’m claiming, rather, is that people’s sexual expectations of women having sex and intimacy with men — that the women submit in a way considered unremarkable and ordinary — chafed at me, and that discovering BDSM was one way I found to allow myself to escape that sexist paradigm.

    That doing this, in turn, got me thinking about why I was treated as though I didn’t fit, rather than as a person with different preferences to others around me. Which itself got me thinking about why *my* preferences should be socially odd — which then led to thinking about how sexism affects the way our culture thinks of sexuality. And thinking about that got me thinking about sexism, and wider social implications of it, and, well, what’s thinking about that, if thinking about that leads to wanting, and working, to change it?

    Feminism.

    Saying “BDSM led me to feminism” is very different, though, from some kind of claim that my BDSM “is feminist” because I’m the top. My BDSM isn’t anything; it’s something my partner and I do together because we like it. My political stances, my opinions, my activism — those things can be “feminist” or not.

    My sexual quirks? Heavens, no, those are just things about me! That makes as much sense as saying “my hair is feminist” or “my elbow is feminist.”

    The fact that I actually do things I think about? Well, I do think that CAN sometimes be patriarchy-defying in a world where women’s sexual desire is expected to be a mimicry of men, a moon revolving around and reflecting a masculine sun. But that doesn’t make individual sex acts bringers of political change, so what sense would it make to call them “feminist acts?”

    So… well, in your enthusiasm to tear down strawmen (and I think there should be less of those around), please be careful not to impute a statement to “the sex poz” that none of us have made. (If I’m wrong and we have, please do link — I could not be remembering a comment somewhere, but I seriously doubt it.)

  27. thebewilderness July 17, 2008 at 5:31 AM #

    Please pardon me for feeding the troll one tiny troll house cookie, but this ignorance is inexcusable.

    “The reason why Americans are reluctant to question those 300 year old ideas is because America was founded by men who believed that “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” are inalienable rights of all individuals.”

    You need to spend some time with a history book.
    The founders of this country believed in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for white men, and only white men. Seriously dood, you are hustling a myth, just as silly as the myth that women don’t mind being tortured for purposes of menz entertainment. Criminy.

  28. Konservo July 17, 2008 at 8:42 AM #

    thebewilderness,

    I see your point. But now I wonder why they would claim to hold those views if they did not actually believe in them, ya know?

    I note that Thomas Jefferson’s On Slavery can be found in history books:

    For in a warm climate, no man will labour for himself who can make another labour for him. This is so true, that of the proprietors of slaves a very small proportion indeed are ever seen to labour. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference! The almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest. – But it is impossible to be temperate and to pursue this subject through the various considerations of policy, of morals, of history natural and civil. We must be contented to hope they will force their way into every one’s mind. I think a change already perceptible, since the origin of the present revolution. The spirit of the master is abating, that of the slave rising from the dust, his condition mollifying, the way I hope preparing, under the auspices of heaven, for a total emancipation, and that this is disposed, in the order of events, to be with the consent of the masters, rather than by their extirpation.

    This too, can be found in history books (and here is the satire to which it refers)

    And here’s James Madison’s Plan for the Emancipation of the Slaves

    (We can go through various documents and try to determine whether the word “man” referred to human and if the word “citizen” referred strictly to the white men who, at the time, were the only “citizens” properly so-called, but this is not the place for such a lexicographical study.)

    Did the founders of America see slaves as inferiors? Most likely so. Did they view slaves as less-than human because of “nature” or “nurture”? It’s less clear. Did the founders of America believe “in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for white men, and only white men” to the exclusion of blacks, American Indians, and women? Most likely not.

    Sorry, nine. I understand if you don’t post this. I just wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t come to the defense of those who can no longer defend themselves.

  29. syndicalist702 July 17, 2008 at 2:02 PM #

    bewilderness – they should go here and get their learn on.

  30. Amananta July 17, 2008 at 7:02 PM #

    It goes beyond some “abstract ideas” about how porn might cause some harm for “real women”.

    Women in porn ARE harmed, straight up from the outset. Many, many, many of the pictures seen in porn are those of trafficked women, many are children, especially now in the age of the internet where one just has to find a website host in a country that doesn’t regulate and check the “models” age. Real, actual harm being done to actual women and children, many of whom are literal slaves used to make a product that makes the men who sell it rich, most of the rest of whom are underprivileged and have few viable life choices outside of the “sex industry”.

    I don’t even have the time of day for those women who purport to be feminist but constantly want to steer feminist conversation about porn to them them them and how they happen to be a rich white college educated girl who just loves stripping *sparkle* and so see it isn’t all bad! Since they get some sort of thrill out of it, we are told, we should ignore the massive harm done to millions of women and children all over the world by pornographers. No.

  31. Maggie Hays July 18, 2008 at 1:36 AM #

    Seriously dood, you are hustling a myth, just as silly as the myth that women don’t mind being tortured for purposes of menz entertainment. Criminy.

    Exactly. Well said, thebewilderness! :P

  32. Nine Deuce July 21, 2008 at 3:33 PM #

    Trin – I see the claim being made all over the place that sex work is a feminist act, that it’s empowering, especially from strippers. Diablo Cody comes to mind, as do about 1000 articles I’ve read this year on the subject.

  33. buggle July 22, 2008 at 8:02 PM #

    Yah, I’ve heard it about a kajillion times, -it’s so empowering and feminist to strip, to do porn, blah blah blah. And if I say, no, it’s really not, people yell at me things like “How dare you tell me what feminism means???!! Who are you to decide what is feminist or not??!!! ACK!”

    So yeah, a LOT of people make these claims. A LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT. Even when people aren’t trying to claim it’s “feminist” they are trying to claim that it is “pro-woman” or “pro-sex” or some ridiculous thing. It gets old, really fast.

    If I had 13 hours to spare, I could link about 1,000 examples of this. Or 100,000, if I had 30 hours to spare.

  34. Zula July 23, 2008 at 5:12 PM #

    Amananta – is harming women bad and anti-feminist? Hell yes. Are a lot of women in the porn industry harmed as a direct result of working there? Hell yes. But does that mean all porn is inherently bad/anti-feminist? I don’t think so.

    If I may use a completely non-sex-related analogy, in the southern part of Minnesota, the state I live in, there are a lot of slaughterhouses. The majority of the employees at these slaughterhouses are Latino/Latina immigrants, and a good portion of these immigrants are undocumented (“illegal” immigrants, as it were). Because of the current way the animal processing industry is run, flaws in our immigration policies, and racism in our society, a lot of these employees are exploited and harmed at their jobs. But that doesn’t mean that processing meat is inherently exploitative or immoral. The current system is exploitative, but there are ways to fix that: through societal shifts that reduce and eliminate racism, policy changes that protect immigrant workers, and changes in how animal processing is carried out that make the workplace safer.

    (Of course, if you’re vegetarian, then my argument is moot to you, but I’m one of those meat-eaters who firmly believes omnivores can and should be concerned about the welfare and ethical treatment of their future dinners.)

    In the same way, though there’s a litany of problems with the porn industry in its current incarnation, that doesn’t mean the act of making porn itself is anti-feminist or exploitative. There’s a hell of a lot of work that needs to be done to fix things, but it is possible for there to be porn that is, while not necessarily feminist, not anti-feminist, either. In this ideal situation, producing porn would be no more feminist or anti-feminist than, say, being a mechanic or a teacher. It’s just a job.

  35. Nine Deuce July 23, 2008 at 5:19 PM #

    Call me a vegetarian, in the literal and the metaphorical senses. I don’t think there can be a non-exploitative porn industry, because porn, by making human beings into objects (all porn does this, there is no way for it to exist otherwise), gives the user power over the performer, allows people to use other human beings, removes the responsibility from the consumer to take account of the humanity of the performer. If we didn’t live in a social system in which it was so easy to conceive of women only in terms of their desirability to men, that wouldn’t be such a hard point to get people to consider, but it’s easily the most difficult concept in the anti-porn position for people to grasp.

  36. witchywoo July 25, 2008 at 11:50 PM #

    You are so blogrolled. :D

  37. Nine Deuce July 25, 2008 at 11:56 PM #

    Back at you.

  38. pisaquaririse July 26, 2008 at 3:35 AM #

    Ohh ffs people!

    My breasts should elicit no more arousal than my elbow! My vulva no more than my cuticles! My bum no more than my ears!

    It is fetishization that does that, plain and simple.

  39. Rachael October 25, 2008 at 8:39 PM #

    When you mentioned war, an interesting thought came to me.

    Some pacifists–such as myself–believe that going to war can be justifiable in some very rare cases, such as to defend one’s own country (Gee, it’s been a while since we’ve had one of those, hasn’t it?). I also believe that certain regulations must be followed in any war–no torture, no killing of civilians, etc. That doesn’t mean that going to war is in itself a pacifist act. In fact, war is inherently violent. No matter how one tries to glorify it, war is violent, ugly, and terrifying, and the fact that some big corporations profit from it makes it even worse.

    This is a great post.

  40. isme October 26, 2008 at 3:55 AM #

    I always found the idea of rules of war rather odd. I mean, you’re allowed to invade someone else’s country, bomb their cities, destroy their infrastructure, seize their resources and kill their people…as long as you do it nicely?

  41. Rachael October 26, 2008 at 11:48 PM #

    Ideally, you only go to war if you absolutely have to, and only do the absolute minimum damage. So essentially, it’s not “You can go to war as long as you do it nicely,” but “You can go to war only if you have no other recourse, and you must do it as nicely as possible.” Armies would only attack military bases and each other. Sadly, it’s an ideal that no major conflict has reached–even if we had to go into WWII, we did some pretty awful things that would certainly go against the “rules of war.”

  42. Immir March 20, 2010 at 6:51 AM #

    It’s funny how people will take your anti-porn statements and say “But that is just your opinion, you don’t speak for all sex-workers..”, but when ONE woman comes out & says “I like being a porn actress” then all of a sudden HER word is gospel and she speaks for all women in porn.

    People just agree with whatever supports their point of veiw.

  43. Kelly April 21, 2011 at 10:02 PM #

    It’s also funny when one woman from the sex industry says she is/was exploited and it’s the industry is corrupt, sex pozzies scream ‘it’s not all like that’ or ‘or she’s not credible’. Way to go supporting fellow women, when they says it’s a rarity in the industry (oh please) which admits it happens but denies the scale or just claim (tacitly and explictly) that she’s a lying crazy tramp and antiporn feminists are supposed to be the slut shamers. They want their porn & their orgasm & to feel good about themselves & their theories & and the social acceptance of others (wow they do seem to be gaining alot by ignoring these women who’ve been harmed) but the don’t want to admit that perhaps the women and men they see on screen aren’t really enjoying themselves that’d ruin the porn party.   

    The sex industry is fucked up on several levels and it’s widespread all over the globe. The sex industry in most first world countries is largely unregulated  cruel and corrupt. What people fail to realise it that glamorous lifestyle of the highend where women choose to do sex work is the extremely lucky minority but even then there’s still drugs and abuse. The sex industry only portrays glamour and freedom to give the illusion that it’s the majority, which is good for business. If that was the case why would any woman on the street corner just apply at the highend brothels to start with? They end up on the street because they aren’t affluent and/or from ‘good homes’ to begin with.  If they did apply I doubt they’d get a foot in the door. They deppressingly are the unrepresented majority.    

    Drugs and alcoholism is rampant within the industry and many workers depend on the industry for to support their addiction or even the root of their addiction. They often provide drugs to lure and keep them dependant or they turn to drugs as a coping mechanism. They often being drunk or high porn at pornsets and performing in videos (meaningful consent is gone).  Noone cares if you are on drugs at work as long as you don’t impede the filming or get them in trouble. Pointing out that other industries and other people do it doesn’t mean it’s ok or lesser it’s stating a fact. Drug and alcohol abuse is widespread and impacts on many people and society the porn/sex industry being a (disproportionate) demographic affected.

  44. Kelly April 21, 2011 at 10:05 PM #

    Considering the porn industry is not properly regulated economically and ethically its rife with corruption (just coz the test says a performer is clean does make it so assuming it’s even checked). But on a indiviual basis there are many factors that influence and affect women and men who ‘choose’ porn industry (while the effects remain on forced prostituition this refers to those ‘choose’ to work in the sex industry.) While the reasons vary from person to person it’s part of a wider culture of injustice. These things often happen before, during and after an individuals experience in the industry   worsening problems the individual had and often creating new ones along the way.   

    Reasons and effects for entering the sex industry (pornography, prositiution and stripping) and societal factors:
    -Prior Abuse and assualt and abuse, harrasment, assualt while working (physical, emotional, sexual etc.) 
    -Having/sustaining phychological disorders    
    -Poor emotional/mental health
    -Injury and disease (umtreated) sustained from sex work (Internal damage from violent sex is abhorrent)
    -Substance Dependancy and Drug access (as stated earlier)  
    -Emotionally fragility and Naivete (easily led and preyed upon)
    -Shame, humilation and social stigma (sex workers viewed as sub human and ‘once a whore always a whore’ discourse
    -Criminal record for prostituition and mistreatment from police 
    -Poor education (lack of knowledge and life skills)
    -Lack or job skills/availability   
    -Distorted views on sexuality and sex work  
    -Lack of sex education      
    -Financial & social destitution (no money no where to turn but the industry or the streets) 
    -Lack self worth and despondancy (cease to care about your wellbeing)
    -Self hatred and self imposed punishments
    -Coercion/manipulation from partners, family (the cycle of poverty is usually to blame for this) ‘friends’ or people in the industry
    -Being at risk for rape and assualt (also applies to gay porn performers for homophobic reasons regardless of sexuality)    
    -The normalization of porn culture
     

  45. Kelly April 21, 2011 at 10:08 PM #

    Pornography Industry Injustices:
    -Not all of the reasons are because a porn performers/pornographers are victimized; being a cruel, toxic, person with sociopathic tendencies entering industry to act upon these behaviours with impunity is a huge reason why men make and star in movies like ‘throat fuckers'(something about this industry attracts personality disorders it’s not hard to see why) In many ways hatred for women is impossible not to see. I won’t go into details but it goes beyond thrusting into orifices with enough force to hurt and calling them degrading names.

    -Violent and damaging sex acts which often does internal damage also the possibility of being injured or murdered by your John or pimp or being permanently injured or murdered during a scene (in hardcore)
     
    – The fact the humilated and hurt performer/sex worker is simply a dehumanized outlet of sexual sadism/vicarious sexual revenge fantasies, bile fancination and/or to be laughed at

    -Misogynistic and Homophobic Propaganda (women/gay men are hypersexual will have sex often rough, painful, degrading anyone anytime and enjoy being abused which encourages misogyny (which effects all women) and dampens empathy (proven)
         
    -Knowing your murder will be excused, ignored or you will be blamed or people will believe you deserve it (Hardship Blaming)
    -Financial or contractual coercion/manipulation (you signed you have to and/or agreeing to something relatively softcore and ending up with more people and more ‘extreme’ scenes witholding paychecks unless you do).  which will have no recourse due to filming contracts.

    -Rape/assualt committed ‘off duty’ by a colleague or stranger due to the unrapeable myth

    -Being exposed to STDs including herpes and HIV (incurable) because of low condom rates (it pays higher and is discouraged) and dodgy regulations and enforcement. HIV takes months to detect and people don’t abstain from condomless sex during that time making it meaningless.

    -Marginalising curable diseases because they can be cured ignoring the harm they do
         
    -Having to Pretend to enjoy the work and lie about their job to keep the porn propaganda, up not doing so means you are out ot the job (I guess free speech only applies those in power)
    -Having no control of your image and living with the knowledge it can come back to haunt you having the people you care about see it and ruin future job opportunities

    -Having to live with social stigma and discrimination of being a sex worker (ties into the above) people wants it’s porn but don’t care much for the people sacrifice for it

    -Erotising things that really shouldn’t like be violent, degrading sex and obsessing over youth. Barely legal girls…aren’t. And other depraved obssesions  
       
    -Porn propaganda and popular culture portraying porn amd sex work as something to aspire to it or just seeing it as a safe easy job prospect. Despite the dangers the sex industry (pornography, prostitution and stripping) and the lack of and denial of protection and recourse a sex workers has.

    -Porn propaganda glamourises sex work and promises fame and riches that only happen for few. It doesn’t pay well for what women are subjugated to (which isn’t always paid in full) few women much money. 

    I hardly covered everything but these people need to be helped not fucked. Do think that victims of circumstances and vulnerable people in society should be helped? Or do you think that access to porn and sex workers is more important than these issues?   

  46. Jennie December 2, 2012 at 6:57 AM #

    Nine-You are my favourite blogger EVER! I love the way you don’t sugar coat the reality of the world at large and patriarchy and all of it’s nasty after effects. The truth must be told! The sex industry sucks-plain and simple. Porn will never ever be “empowering.” These are the patriarchy’s LIES!! Stripping looks pretty humiliating to me and being gang raped in the name of “porn” must feel like one is in the second realm of hell! I know drugs and booze mask the pain but eventually the trauma-ptsd-anger-rage etc. will show. Then what? Most women suffer in silence. Some may heal their damaged souls and go on to greater things but the possibility of this is slim. If you are in the industry and want out there is hope..I hate men for making rape porn/gang rapes and all that other shit!! Men came out of a fucking woman in birth and this is how they treat us?!! By making porn “films” where women and young girls are being tortured-raped-and sometimes even killed. Women should boycott the industry-that would be great!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Friction - Links of the Week: July 13-19, 2008 - July 30, 2008

    […] I don’t drink Haterade, man. (Part 1) « Rage Against the Man-chine A radical feminist defends her views against the “sex positive” set. Thank you! Now I will sit back and enjoy the show. […]

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