“Letter to the Editor” re: Upcoming Pornography Conference

Post to Twitter

(NB: information about the referenced conference is here)

Letter to the Editor Regarding Feminist Anti-Porn Conference

We read the agenda and overview for the”Pornography and Pop Culture: Reframing Theory, Re-Thinking Activism”Conference, which is scheduled from March 23-25, 2007 at Wheelock College in Boston. We are deeply concerned by the rigid ways in which the complex issues of feminism and pornography are portrayed. In the broader society as well as within academic and feminist frameworks, there is a lot of disagreement about the extent to which pornography reflects and promotes sexism and violence.

Though this conference is about pornography, none of the presenters on the agenda are performers in the pornography industry. Various important voices are excluded from the list of presenters, such as sex workers, feminists and scholars with opposing views about pornography, and advocates for the legitimization of consensual sex work.

Furthermore, the genre called”feminist pornography”is not included on the agenda. This genre of pornography is inspired by feminist principles, such as gender equality, bodily freedom, and mutual sexual pleasure. Women play a major role in producing this genre of pornography, so this genre is not produced just by men for a predominately male target audience.

We realize that various types of activism occurs on college campuses and encourage this, but there is a difference between a group using a college simply as a venue for activism and a college actually presenting a conference on a controversial issue, such as pornography, in a very biased manner. Because the website to this feminist anti-pornography conference has a Wheelock College domain name (http://www.wheelock.edu/ppc/index.asp) and no organization(s) is listed as the official presenter(s) of the conference, it seems like the College is presenting this conference rather than only serving as a venue for the conference. Since Wheelock College is a College rather than an anti-sex work organization, we contend that conferences such as this one must be more balanced in the name of academic integrity.
Though the organizers and presenters of this conference have the right to their perceptions, it is important to understand that their attitudes toward pornography do not reflect the views of all sex workers, feminists, and scholars.

In Solidarity,

Jill Brenneman, Sex Workers Outreach Project-East, Coordinator

Danielle L. Brodnick, M.A. Gender and Cultural Studies

Aster of San Francisco

Gennifer Hirano, Sex Workers Outreach Project-Los Angeles

Stacey Swimme, Desiree Alliance, Sex Workers Outreach Project-Arizona

Susan Lopez, MSC, Assistant Director-Desiree Alliance; Founder-Sin City Alternative Professionals Association

Kitten Infinite, Sex Workers Outreach Project-Chicago

Averen Ipsen, Ph.D., Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies, UC-Berkeley

Melissa Gira, St. James Infirmary

Holly Pottle, M.A. Sociology

Jessica Land, Sex Workers Outreach Project-East

Ricci J. Levy, Executive Director, The Woodhull Freedom Foundation

Priscilla Alexander, Director of Research and Evaluation-Frost’D

Beatriz Mercado, Clinical Pharmacist-Chile, South America, SWOP East Latin American Advisor

Katherine DePasquale, SWOP East Board of Directors

Carol Queen, Ph.D., Staff Sexologist-Good Vibrations

Aimee M. Patton, B.A. Sociology, SFSU

Carol Leigh, BAYSWAN/COYOTE

Vanessa A. Forro, LSW, Cleveland, Ohio

Serena Toxicat

Crystal Jackson, Graduate Student-Sociology and Women’s Studies, University of Nevada-Las Vegas; Desiree Alliance

Caitlin Ryerson, Pro Se Lawyer

Share
This entry was posted in Blog Administration, Upcoming Conferences. Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to “Letter to the Editor” re: Upcoming Pornography Conference

  1. radfeminist86 says:

    “In the broader society as well as within academic and feminist frameworks, there is a lot of disagreement about the extent to which pornography reflects and promotes sexism and violence.”

    Even a cursory look at “lad magazines” and popular porn internet sites will show you extremely degrading attitudes toward women. I encourage you all to read “In Harm’s Way” which contains transcripts of testimony and exhibit’s presented at the anti-pornography hearings in the 1980s and 1990s. You can find a wealth of evidence from social psychologists, psychotherapists, sociologists, and most importantly, survivors of sexual violence about the harmful effects of pornography on the lives of real people and on all women, as a group. And I’ve yet to hear a defense of the overt racism in pornography.

    “Various important voices are excluded from the list of presenters, such as sex workers, feminists and scholars with opposing views about pornography, and advocates for the legitimization of consensual sex work.”

    The goal of the conference organizers was not to present sexism and the degradation of women and the fight against them….as two equally-valid opposing sides up for consideration. Their goal was to examine how pornography has changes over the last several years (pop culture and technology) and what this means for activism and feminist movement.

    “Furthermore, the genre called”feminist pornography”is not included on the agenda. This genre of pornography is inspired by feminist principles, such as gender equality, bodily freedom, and mutual sexual pleasure.”

    Pornography is by-definition not feminist. There is still a problem with sexually objectifying people. And most people when they are being intimate don’t have a camera right there. And what is most intimate and equal between people isn’t accessible to a camera. This sex is still being bought and sold by people not intimate to the experience. The folks being intimate are now things in relation to the people buying the porn and experiencing it sexually. This is not equality.

    “but there is a difference between a group using a college simply as a venue for activism and a college actually presenting a conference on a controversial issue, such as pornography, in a very biased manner.”

    Howard Zinn once said, “In a world where justice is maldistributed there is no such thing as a neutral or representative recapitulation of the facts.” I am constantly amazed that people who take an anti-sexist position are routinely criticized for being biased or extremist. When did we start caring so little about the concrete lives of women that defending them became merely an option or possibility among others? I applaud the conference participants and the organizers for taking a FEMINIST stand on an important issue which affects the well-being of all women.

    Please read this article by Gail Dines and Robert Jensen. I realize it’s written by the very folks in the conference but I think they do a good job of responding to folks who defend pornography with such ferocity.
    http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=9272

  2. msjared says:

    amen, radfeminist86!

  3. msjared says:

    This is a comment regarding the conference that Pony left on another forum. I think the analogy is appropriate as we had a similar “disturbance” at the Human Sex Trafficking Conference in San Francisco that I attended last week.

    Pony writes:

    “You know I’ve attended conferences where there were workshops on drug and alcohol addiction. They were run by, work-shopped by, attended by, former users. Not one of them invited current users who were dealing, stoned, not interested in getting clean (formal or self-directed) to tell everyone there why they had a right to be there, be funded to be there, destroy themselves, their families, their communities, break into homes, steal, pimp out (other) women to keep themselves going … and expect us to nurture their sickness and habits, give our approval, and if we didn’t agree with that, yell CHOICE, CIVIL RIGHTS.”

  4. xyzskybabe says:

    I don’t know why I should be surprised but I still am at the arrogance of abolitionist/radical feminist/prohibitionist movement. First, I’m a survivor of sexual violence in the sex industry. No one needs to clarify the harm that can happen in the sex industry to me. I lived it. I’ve read the books referenced in the responses and have read the work of the presenters of this conference. I’ve spoken at conferences with speakers at this conference. So the condescending attitude that sex workers and sex worker rights human rights activists are some doltish trollups and slack jawed jezebels that inherently are at best misguided and in need of guidance to read the proper feminist books is elitist, it’s arrogant and it’s nothing short of a first world feminist ideology that assumes all that differ are some misguided waifs that need to be educated on correct feminism. Worse however, is the endless spin doctoring which tries to associate all things sex worker rights as opposing women, opposing feminism. Radical feminism and radical feminists do not hold the holy grail of feminism.

    This presumption that the radical feminist/abolitionist/prohibitionist ideology has that feminism revolves around it and all others are creating”disturbances”,,,, is that what it’s called when those involved in sex work challenge the ideology of those that self identify as being on the right path while the rest of us are supposedly misguided, pro exploitation, whatever,,,,? It sounds remarkably like censorship, beyond that it’s patronizing, elitist and disingenuous to the idea of feminism. Alleged feminism that excludes the majority of women with the most extensive knowledge of the topic, in first person no less, is a feminism that I am very glad I walked away from. I’d rather work with women to build social change and a world where sex workers are safe from exploitation than look down from self imposed pedestal to”save”them. Trickle down feminism is nothing more than repackaged fundamentalism with the same basis as those that want to save the world from feminists.

    It’s a distorted view of reality when one segment of feminism feels they hold the keys to feminist truth with everyone else being ignorant or heretics. Feminism is about equality, respect and empowerment of all women. Including respect of those with divergent views. The”disturbances”in San Francisco were the voices of those in sex work, which using the abolitionist/radical feminist/prohibitionist line of thought means the voices of the”trafficking victims”.

    What’s next? Let us eat cake?

    Jill Brenneman
    Program Coordinator
    SWOP East
    http://www.swopeast.org
    http://www.myspace.com/jillbrenneman

  5. xyzskybabe says:

    Feminist Law Professors
    “No person is your friend who demands your silence.” – Alice Walker

    There is the prohibitionist feminist backslapping, condescending and patronizing calls for those of us deemed not feminist for our sex worker rights activism to read various radical feminist/prohibitionist books, coincidentally authored by conference speakers, but something truly astonishing was written, not astonishing because of content but because it is under the guise of feminism.

    When those of a population allegedly being represented as victims by activists are referred to as creating disturbances when we dare speak in their holy fundamentalist feminist forums, when the analogy that is excerpted below is written under the auspices of feminism and representing “trafficked women”……..

    Perhaps I should consider now as an appropriate time “to go eat cake” and not upset those at the royal prohibitionist feminist palace? Bienvenue Ms Jared the peasants dare revolt………….

  6. Ann Bartow says:

    Jill. I posted your letter above, and I have posted your comments. Obviously not everyone agrees with your positions, but I don’t understand why you say you have been “silenced.” Your blog is linked to your comments, so people can find you and continue the conversation there, and maybe that is best if you feel “silenced” here.

  7. kitteninfinite says:

    Here Here Jill!

    radfeminist86 Says:

    “Pornography is by-definition not feminist. There is still a problem with sexually objectifying people. And most people when they are being intimate don’t have a camera right there. And what is most intimate and equal between people isn’t accessible to a camera. This sex is still being bought and sold by people not intimate to the experience. The folks being intimate are now things in relation to the people buying the porn and experiencing it sexually. This is not equality.”

    Pornography CAN be feminist, but rarely has the opportunity. Ladies please!Pornography is a multi-BILLION dollar industry that is traded, controlled, and owned by companies such as General Motors and Hilton Hotels. It isn’t going anywhere, especially when we throw feminist theory such as the above at it. This kind of theory further creates a culture of shame that divides women.

    Until we address that pornography is an industry that is legitimate in the hands of a corporate board, but “objectifying” to the women who make a living at it, can we PLEASE stop resorting to just throwing mud on women who support it in the name of “equality”?

    That kind of attitude comes from a place of moral arrogance, and completely undermines feminism. This comment is a lofty position to take surrounding the issue, and I encourage every woman to examine her personal attitudes about the “commodification of intimacy” with a heavy dose of reality so that an appropriate and effective response to REAL problems in the porn industry can be addressed in the SUPPORT and RESPECT of ALL women.

  8. xyzskybabe says:

    Ann, I believe disagreement is often a positive event. While I don’t agree with radfem86, she makes her points and there is opportunity for both views to express their thoughts, feelings and opinions and let those reading the blog choose what is right for them. Thus disagreement is healthy. The one commonality is both sides are working toward social change. Different perspectives, different goals but social change involves a large dynamic of society and through discourse and disagreement views are expressed and society can judge for itself which direction it chooses. Thus my argument with the conference. It is one sided. And fails to factor the views of those most closely involved within the porn industry.

    On the topic of disagreement, I will say that I strongly disagree with Pony’s perspective. I see misogyny and hate speech not feminism in the analogy. I’m glad pony speaks for the other side. Pony would be no ally of mine even if were complete political agreement. Ends don’t justify the means.

    Brenneman

  9. radfeminist86 says:

    “It isn’t going anywhere, especially when we throw feminist theory such as the above at it.”

    Saying it’s huge and pervasive and impossible to get rid of is NO reason to stop working against it. And for the record, these conference participants and the radical feminists I know that do anti-pornography work are NOT talking about censorship. We’re trying to allow women to bring civil suits against those in the pornography industry and those who used pornography to abuse them. Abuse that is done as a result of or in the creation of pornography is a violation of the civil rights of women. If we take this attitude, we’ve already given up and failed. But we can do a lot of great work and make progress. I’m willing to work hard to do that. Are you?

    “Until we address that pornography is an industry that is legitimate in the hands of a corporate board, but”objectifying”to the women who make a living at it”

    Radical feminists who do anti-pornography work all understand that pornography is HUGE corporate industry which profits from the traffic in women’s bodies. They also understand that the consumption of pornography has wider sociological effects (something a lot of folks seem to forget). Women are increasingly seen and treated as sex objects by pornography’s consumers. This is all an integral part of their analysis and critique of pornography.

    “REAL problems in the porn industry…”

    What else are we talking about?

    “can be addressed in the SUPPORT and RESPECT of ALL women.”

    Respecting and supporting all women can be done without agreeing with everything people say. A lot of women are anti-choice and a lot of women have said racist and homophobic things over the years…but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop promoting reproductive rights or stop fighting racism and heterosexism.

  10. xyzskybabe says:

    radfeminist86,

    Your reference to the anti-choice women illustrate a point though. The anti-reproductive choice activists, which for the sake of clarity, I am strongly pro choice so we are in agreement in our fight for reproductive rights, the anti reproductive choice activists, would and do use the same methodology that radical feminists use with sex worker rights activists. The anti-choice people want no compromise, seeing their fight as ending a great social evil, which to them is the killing of unborn babies. They view any type of collaboration with pro choice activists as collaborating with the enemy. They would bring us back to a time where abortion is illegal, but it would solve nothing, only women would be greatly endangered by having illegal abortions and not have access to healthy medical services both for the abortion in a criminalized environment but also be stigmatized in getting help from the medical profession if it goes wrong, plus face potential criminal charges.

    The anti choice people claim to know better and be better than the rest of us, they tell us to read their books, to attend their lectures, to look at their propaganda which often depicts the worst possible views of abortion and call their worst case the state of the abortionist industry. They claim to be pro women but they aren’t.

    If I became pregnant I would choose to keep the baby. But that being said I am strongly pro choice because the alternative to pro choice is a terrible situation for women.

    Radical feminist activists against sex worker rights are using a very similar dynamic as the anti reproductive choice movement. Activism that is on top of those deemed as part of social evil.

    It is one thing to fight a social evil and I can respect others activist choices and beliefs, agreement or disagreement, but I believe the radical feminist/abolitonist/prohibitionist movement regarding the sex industry needs desperately to look at itself, and look at the methods it is using in it’s activism. The pro-life movement does far more harm than good and excludes all the women it claims to represent for the sake of social change. Is that a model to be followed?

    Jill Brenneman

  11. Ann Bartow says:

    ..I believe the radical feminist/abolitonist/prohibitionist movement regarding the sex industry needs desperately to look at itself, and look at the methods it is using in it’s activism.

    Jill, could you explain with specificity what “methods” exactly you are troubled by?

  12. radfeminist86 says:

    I simply don’t see how doing anti-pornography work can be equated with denying the women in these industries their rights. It’s beyond absurd.

    This is an industry that profits from the buying and selling of women’s bodies. It makes money off of turning women into sex objects. Women are depicted as enjoying being degraded and raped. There is a lot of social science research that shows that men who consume pornography are more likely to believe rape myths and hold misogynistic attitudes.

    So I really don’t know how fighting this sexist and racist industry is the same thing as denying sex workers their rights. And I don’t understand what’s so bad about taking a firm stance against sexism. Social change has always been made because a group of people took a stand on something. If we accept all viewpoints and behaviors as equally valid then we can never say anything with certainty and we’ll never move forward. Feminists see gender equality as BETTER than sexist oppression. What’s so bad about taking that stand. Should feminist conferences invite rapists to balance out the views? Of course not!!!

    “Thus my argument with the conference. It is one sided. And fails to factor the views of those most closely involved within the porn industry.”

    Do you think an anti-racism conference should allow the KKK to come speak in order to provide a “balanced perspective”? That would be ridiculous!!! This conference is a *feminist* conference and thus is taking the political position of being anti-porn. This doesn’t mean they are anti-sex worker. In fact, the folks at the conference are trying to get justice for these sex workers who are coerced into the industry.

    As far as I know, Gail Dines and Robert Jensen have both done research on pornography for years. They have talked with folks inside the industry. Their work cites previous work where women in the industry have been interviewed. So they are indeed reflecting what women in the industry are saying.

  13. xyzskybabe says:

    Ann,

    Absolutely I will give specificity. I’m too sleepy tonight and have had too many long work days to be able to do this coherently tonight or tomorrow but your question is one I want to answer fully. I will have a response Monday.

  14. xyzskybabe says:

    Radfeminist86, your post clarifies helps me recall many of the myths that I were sold and that I bought into in my six years as a rad fem based activist. This whole demonization of sex worker rights activists as pro prostitution, pro oppression, pro porn, looking to somehow cause women to be degraded and victimized,,,,,,,,, It had no basis in reality. It’s mythology.

    I am no more connected to Larry Flynt, Hugh Hefner or those that have made a fortune off of porn while the porn actresses have been largely left without labor rights, stigmatized by the negative stereotypes of being a sex worker, discriminated against as a result,,, I have no alliance with Hugh Hefner, Larry Flynt any porn producing giants. There are aspects of pornography that I believe are awful, certainly child porn is something I can not oppose strongly enough. Bestiality porn is something I feel is completely degrading to women. There are obvious exploitation and degradation scenarios in the sex industry. But does that mean sex worker human rights activists should be linked with those that have exploited women? Or that make child porn or that create degrading porn like bestiality? No! There is no relationship. Analogies linking those that exploit sex workers and non sex workers with sex worker rights activists are contradiction and absurd. I’m an outspoken sex worker rights activist and I have absolutely no respect for Larry Flynt, Hugh Hefner, and nothing but contempt for child porn producers who belong in prison in the general population as do those that want it.

    Addressing your analogies of KKK at a conference on racism or rapists at a feminist conference…………… There is absolutely no relationship between those scenarios and sex worker rights activists being brought into conferences in pornography. None.

    The KKK is a hate group dressing up white supremacy as fighting for social change while seeking to deny human rights to everyone non white. The sex worker human rights movement is fighting for sex worker rights. The sex worker rights movement is seeking to oppress anyone or deny anyone rights, if anything, the whole point of this petition is to fight for sex worker rights to be respected. Inviting sex worker rights activists to a conference on porn is giving those actually in the industry the opportunity to discuss what the industry really is and is not including the exploitation faced by sex workers. The sex worker rights movement position isn’t academic based first, it is mostly a movement of those who have been in the industry and have in many if not most cases also done significant academic study. But the basis of sex worker human rights activism is social change to benefit sex workers, to fight discrimination, end violence, end exploitation, coercion and other social evils in the sex industry. The radical feminist movement’s demonization of sex worker rights activists only makes the fight harder. There is nothing gained by shutting out a movement fighting for rights of a marginalized and exploited population. If you choose to oppose porn, fine, if anything there are aspects of porn that I would join you in opposing. Except I am the enemy, my position wouldn’t be allowed to be aired on the floor of the debate because I am slotted as aligned with oppressors.

    To use your KKK analogy, accurately it would be better to invert it. Should activists from non whites and even white activists opposed to the oppression of the KKK be allowed to speak at KKK rallys? Yes. It would bring a human component to an audience that sees all non whites and non KKK believers as evil and harming the world. Perhaps some in the audience could be swayed into realizing the group they hate and vilify isn’t what they believe or what they have been sold by their movement’s leaders.

    A rapist at a feminist conference? Again, no correlation. A rapist belongs in prison. Rape is a crime of violence and power. But who is probaby the most easy target for rapists and serial killers? Sex workers. Should the easiest targets for rapists and serial killers be shut out of feminism? No.

    Why link the sex worker rights movement with rapists and the KKK? It discredits your argument. I am a sex worker rights activist, I am also a survivor of sexual violence in the sex industry that would have benefited in every scenario by a powerful sex worker rights movement. My victimization came because of marginalization, my vulnerability exploited by predators who knew damn well that I was in a marginalized community with no legal rights, no labor rights, little access to health care, little chance of gaining help from the justice system and certainly not from the police.

    You slot me with the KKK and rapists because I am a sex worker human rights activist? That’s absurd. I’m fighting exploitation and victimization. I’m an anti rape, anti violence activist and always was. By finding that the sex worker rights movement was not the evil entity that I was lead to believe they were but instead in discovering that they were doing better work to foster social change for sex workers doesn’t make me either a supporter of racism or rape.

    The folks at the conference that you state are trying to get justice for theose coerced into the sex industry, that’s great. I too oppose coercion. Strongly oppose it. But my fight against coercion can’t come at the expense of everyone else in the sex industry. And not everyone in the sex industry is coerced. If I hypothetically agree to be a bondage actress in a bondage porn movie, no one is coercing me at this point. It is a free choice. And completely different from the time frame when I was coerced.

    I’m sure Gail and Robert have done extensive research. I’m certain they have talked with those in the sex industry. I don’t know Gail directly but know of her through a former friend and colleague. I have little doubt Gail is doing what she feels is right and there are parts of her activism I can find common ground in. Certainly fighting exploitation. But I am not her enemy and if I attended her conference or even spoke, that doesn’t mean she has allowed the KKK or rapists into her conference. My opinion may be different but not not wrong or evil. If anything I would be open to talking with Gail as long as we could agree that the conversation was mutual about exploitation and not a lecture where she was trying to convince me of the errors of my ways or find reason to make me evil. I am open to agreeing to disagree and finding common ground and advocate that approach. But this conference and the attitudes exhibited by participants in this discussion seem to make it clear that they have no interest in hearing alternate opinions or finding common ground but seem instead only to want to evangalize their message and shut out all other opinions. And that is where I have a huge problem.

    rf86, your villification of sex worker rights activists and your analogies that vicarously link sex worker rights activists with hate groups and rapists only divide and have the potential to further marginalize the very population you by your own admission state as trying to seek justice for.

    I would advocate that you spend some time learning about the activists you find analagous to the KKK and rapists. You are either very mislead or doing some very significant spin doctoring. My hope is that you are mislead.

    This is actually an example of what sex worker rights activists are trying to achieve. It is a set of core values used by SWOP East, ones that I sought and gained permission from Canada’s IUSW to incorporate into SWOP East. I fail to see the links to the hatred of the KKK or the violence of the rapist. Instead I see them as fighting these very oppressions and crimes.

    * Decriminalization of all aspects of sex work involving consenting adults.

    * The right to form and join professional associations or unions.

    * The right to work on the same basis as other independent contractors and employers and to receive the same benefits as other self-employed or contracted workers.

    * No taxation without such rights and representation.

    * Zero tolerance of coercion, violence, sexual abuse, child labor, rape and racism.

    * Legal support for sex workers who want to sue those who exploit their labor.

    * The right to travel across national boundaries and obtain work permits wherever we live.

    * Clean and safe places to work.

    * The right to choose whether to work on our own or co-operatively with other sex workers.

    * The absolute right to say no.

    * Access to health clinics where we do not feel stigmatized.

    * Re-training programs for sex workers who want to leave the industry.

    * An end to social attitudes which stigmatize those who are or have been sex workers.

    * Zero tolerance for child sexual tourism

    Jill Brenneman
    http://www.swopeast.org
    http://www.myspace.com/jillbrenneman

  15. radfeminist86 says:

    I never said sex workers are equivalent to the KKK or to rapists. I don’t know where you got that but perhaps I should have been clearer. When you said “those most closely involved within the industry” that can either mean directors, producers, and executives (i.e. Hugh Hefner and Larry Flynt) or it could mean the sex workers…I was comparing the producers and directors to the KKK and rapists, NOT the sex workers. Let’s be clear about that.

    And the reason I made that analogy is that I don’t think it is productive or OKAY to invite people to a feminist conference who have unabashedly sexist or racist opinions. Working for sex worker rights is great. I’m all for helping women in the industry. But I don’t think that supporting the traffic in women and encouraging the production of more pornographic materials is feminist. It is the promotion of sexism. Does that make sense?

    I’m troubled as to why you point ONLY to bestiality and child porn when you discuss the exploitative aspects of the industry. Surely pornography that does not involved children or animals, can ALSO be exploitative and degrading.

    “If I hypothetically agree to be a bondage actress in a bondage porn movie, no one is coercing me at this point.”

    I think Dines and Jensen respond to this point best in the following excerpt:

    “When these concerns are raised, pro-pornography leftists often rush to explain that the women in pornography have chosen that work. Although any discussion of choice must take into consideration the conditions under which one chooses, we don’t dispute that women do choose, and as feminists we respect that choice and try to understand it. But, to the best of our knowledge, no one on the left defends capitalist media — or any other capitalist enterprise — by pointing out workers consented to do their jobs. The people who produce media content, or any other product, consent to work in such enterprises, under varying constraints and opportunities. So what? The critique is not of the workers, but of the owners and structure. Look at the industry’s biggest star, Jenna Jameson, who appears to control her business life. However in her book she reports that she was raped as a teenager and describes the ways in which men in her life pimped her. Her desperation for money also comes through when she tried to get a job as a stripper but looked too young — she went into a bathroom and pulled off her braces with pliers. She also describes drug abuse and laments the many friends in the industry she lost to drugs. And this is the woman said to have the most power in the pornography industry. As we understand left analysis, the focus isn’t on individual decisions about how to survive in a system that commodifies everything and takes from us meaningful opportunities to control our lives. It’s about fighting a system.”

    Furthermore, if we think sociologically about the effect pornography has on all women, we can see that this isn’t something that can be reduced to an issue of simple individual choice. Our individual choices affect everyone else and so we need to act responsibly. There are a lot of individual choices that people make that have an effect on A LOT of people around us. So for example, when people make pornography and sell it to men who then consume it, this reinforces the idea that women are sex objects who enjoy degradation and rape. It creates an atmosphere where men see women as things to have. It ties men’s orgasms to sexual humiliation and violence which is dangerous. So if there are men and women in the porn industry who are not coerced (however few there are), they need to consider what they are reinforcing about women and people of color.

    “But this conference and the attitudes exhibited by participants in this discussion seem to make it clear that they have no interest in hearing alternate opinions or finding common ground but seem instead only to want to evangalize their message and shut out all other opinions. And that is where I have a huge problem.”

    If you’re referring to me, I hardly count as “the conference” so I think you’re being unfair here. I’ve tried to imagine what folks at the conference would say but again, I’m not these conference folks so you shouldn’t treat what I say as representative of the opinions of those AT the conference. And I’ve already explained that the conference organizers have chosen to take a political stand against the pornography industry (b/c it promotes sexism and racism). They are going to invite anti-porn speakers. They have every right to do that. And even people who are pro-porn are allowed to attend the conference. They can ask questions and they can make comments during workshops if they want. Nobody is stopping you from going to this conference and speaking your mind. A lot of folks will disagree with your views, but you can’t say they are denying you your free speech or shutting you out. You are allowed to attend and say what you want.

    “she was trying to convince me of the errors of my ways or find reason to make me evil. ”

    Just because somebody says that your politics reinforce sexism and explains why, doesn’t mean they are calling you evil or that they are lecturing you. If you don’t like what somebody is saying, that doesn’t mean they are by-definition lecturing you or are trying to smear your name. If you have talked to radical feminists who were rude or nasty to you, I agree that that is unacceptable and anti-feminist. But there is nothing wrong with somebody disagreeing with your politics and there is nothing wrong with organizing an event/conference/forum that takes a particular stand on an issue.

  16. xyzskybabe says:

    “I never said sex workers are equivalent to the KKK or to rapists. I don’t know where you got that but perhaps I should have been clearer. When you said”those most closely involved within the industry”that can either mean directors, producers, and executives (i.e. Hugh Hefner and Larry Flynt) or it could mean the sex workers…I was comparing the producers and directors to the KKK and rapists, NOT the sex workers. Let’s be clear about that.”

    It was hard to see it as not being directed at the sex workers considering it came in response to a sex workers and sex worker rights activist letter to the editor regarding being excluded from the conference. But my point isn’t to argue this only to clarify what I and many others stated feeling reading your post. Hefner and Flynt have nothing to do with my activism or that of SWOP-East. If anything I’m opposed to Hefner and Flynt. They have made their fortunes at the expense of many. I have no fondness or respect for either of them.

    “And the reason I made that analogy is that I don’t think it is productive or OKAY to invite people to a feminist conference who have unabashedly sexist or racist opinions.”

    Actually I don’t think it is productive or OK to invite people with unabashedly sexist or racist opinions to a feminist conference either. I am as opposed to sexism and racism as anyone. The sex worker rights movement takes a strong stand against both sexism and racism. However, I believe the conference would have benefited from having a sex worker rights presence in their speaking presentations. The sex worker rights movement is working against exploitation, racism, sexism, discrimination and other forms of harm committed against sex workers. It would have also broken stereotypes an audience has of sex workers and porn actresses as being stupid, drug addicted, etc. Society viewing sex workers as human beings rather than some absurd mythical stereotypes benefits everyone.

    A colleague from outside the US that is unfamiliar with US Feminist politics has read both the agenda of the conference, the radical feminist responses to the sex worker rights activists concerns and she raised a point that I had conceptualized but hadn’t ever been able to put in a concise thought process as she has. Her statement from reading the conference material and the radical feminist response was that the radical feminists made it clear who their enemies were but not who they are seeking to help. Which, is also my experience with the radical feminist movement, only I hadn’t been able to put it into such words. My concept of feminism is seeking initiatives that bring women together, empower them, ones that are based on respect, tolerance and that build an equal world where women’s lives improve through social change. I’m not waging some vast war on a monolithic enemy. To me feminism isn’t about destroying an enemy. It is about social change to improve the lives of humanity. It is one thing to point out oppression and take a stand against it. The sex worker rights movement is doing the same only from a very different perspective. I see no positive outcome from a movement about the sex industry that excludes sex workers, or that is opposed to initiatives that empower sex workers. Certainly, a society in which sex workers without rights that are marginalized, criminalized and easy prey for exploitation is a society that needs improvement. There is no benefit to keeping sex workers disempowered, marginalized and criminalized except to those that seek to oppress and exploit them. I believe the radical feminist movement has lost focus on humanity in it’s long termed strategy of attempting to end the sex industry. Whether the radical feminist goal can be plausibly attained is even questionable, but certainly during that fight sight can not be lost on humanistic values. Radical feminism can not simply focus on goals of the future while missing the nuances of the present. And I believe that is a point that has been very much lost by radical feminism. An empowered sex worker rights movement should not be viewed as a threat to radical feminism. If anything, if the goal is to end exploitation by the sex industry, radical feminism should be about empowering sex workers to be free from exploitation and harm while fighting for the end result radical feminists are hoping to achieve.

    “Working for sex worker rights is great. I’m all for helping women in the industry. But I don’t think that supporting the traffic in women and encouraging the production of more pornographic materials is feminist. It is the promotion of sexism. Does that make sense?”

    How is supporting denying sex workers voice part of helping them? I realize you aren’t the conference, you didn’t pick the speakers, I’m not insinuating that you did. But my guess is that you are supportive of the speakers they hired and would have been unlikely to invite sex worker rights activists as speakers? This is an assumption perhaps I’m wrong.
    In terms of supporting the trafficking of women, I don’t know a single sex worker or sex worker rights activist that supports the trafficking of women. Zero tolerance of coercion of anytime, an absolute right to say no are both planks in the sex worker rights movement’s core values. These are strong statements against trafficking. I can say conclusively that as Program Coordinator of SWOP East, not only am I and the organization opposed to trafficking in women but also we take this on as an issue in our organization. We too, are opposed to human trafficking and are an anti violence, anti exploitation organization. There is a huge difference between supporting sex worker rights and supporting trafficking. Opposing sex worker rights only makes trafficking more likely.

    As for encouraging the production of more pornographic materials being linked to sexism, certainly there is an argument to be made supporting your belief. There is also an argument against it. Regardless of perspective it has to be remembered the majority of those in pornographic films are women. How they perceive their role in pornography varies from woman to woman but certainly respecting divergent worldviews of the women is a feminist stance. A stand that opposes recognition of the opinions, beliefs, thoughts and feelings of all women in pornography is inherently sexist as it is stating that a percentage of the women are incapable of making legitimate choices. To hear from only women victimized and harmed by pornography isn’t representative of the whole picture any more than it would be realistic to say that all women choose to be in pornography. The spectrum is wide and feminism needs to be adaptable to meet the world view and needs of all women.

    “I’m troubled as to why you point ONLY to bestiality and child porn when you discuss the exploitative aspects of the industry. Surely pornography that does not involved children or animals, can ALSO be exploitative and degrading.”

    I wasn’t implying that only bestiality and child porn are exploitative and all else is not. Those were only examples. The most banal amateur porn video shot on a camera bought for $100.00 at Best Buy involving just one performer can be exploitative and degrading depending on circumstance. Which, essentially is exactly my point. Empowering the performer by supporting her rights improves her chance of not being exploited or degraded. Again, zero tolerance for coercion, an absolute right to say no are core values of the sex worker rights movement.

    There are many actors that refuse to play the roles of pedophiles, rapists, serial killers, etc, stating they would be degraded by doing the performance. If they were forced to perform these roles that certainly would be something to oppose strongly. The same applies for women performing in porn movies. There are men who play the role of pedophiles, of rapists, but they are neither, they are playing a role and do not feel degraded by it and are not advocating pedophilia or rape. Jody Foster was degraded and raped in the movie The Accused. Elisabeth Shue played a prostitute in Leaving Las Vegas and played many scenes with clients in which she acted as if she were enjoying it. She was also violently raped in a scene. She stated after performing the role that she went to the red light districts of various cities because the experience had changed her and she found commonality with sex workers. Demi Moore played a stripper in Striptease and acted like she liked it. Do we shut down all of those movies also? I know for a fact that some men got off on seeing Jody Foster raped in the Accused. I remember hearing the discussion amongst male co-workers at the job I had at the time and strongly opposing them and still would. We don’t tell Jody Foster, Elisabeth Shue or Demi Moore they can’t play the roles, we don’t say that for Elizabeth Berkeley who was horribly gang raped in Showgirls, we don’t oppose their rights as women or actresses.

    Yet the same does not hold for porn actresses. I know two porn actresses that were at the very least sexually harassed, probably the definition is much closer to sexually assaulted by an L.A. producer/director when they tried to get a part in a non pornographic movie. When they tried to bring their complaint to SAG, Screen Actors Guild they were not supported because SAG will not recognize or at least at the time, I’m not certain of their stance at the moment, porn actresses. Thus by having less rights and being disempowered, these two actresses were violated easily and without recourse that Jody Foster, Elisabeth Shue, Demi Moore, have because of the social role given to porn actresses as being lower, being beneath having rights. Fighting exploitation is important but it can’t be only a long range goal with casualties now being viewed as casualties of war or viewing the women in porn as collaborating with the enemy. Kim Basinger was by her own statement exploited and degraded by the producer in the filming of 9 ½ weeks. Which was not classified as porn, thus there was little outcry. Farrah Fawcett had huge problems with the man playing the rapist in Extremities because she felt he got off on the scenes. It doesn’t take porn specifically to create degradation or exploitation.

    “She also describes drug abuse and laments the many friends in the industry she lost to drugs. And this is the woman said to have the most power in the pornography industry. As we understand left analysis, the focus isn’t on individual decisions about how to survive in a system that commodifies everything and takes from us meaningful opportunities to control our lives. It’s about fighting a system.”

    Which is exactly my point. We need to fight for the rights of these women. Fighting the oppression that harmed her and so many others is very important but we can’t lose sight of improvement that can be made right now in an overall fight against oppression. I too was harmed in the sex industry, but that harm was made worse and enforced by having no labor rights, being an easy target for violence, for arrest, for discrimination, for oppression. And that fact was taken advantage of by a pimp in a great way. It is great that there were feminists fighting to end the oppression and violence that I faced in the sex industry. But while feminists were fighting to end the sex industry, how did I benefit? I didn’t. I would have benefited far more from the sex worker rights initiatives that would have protected me, given me legal recourse even civil recourse to sue the pimp for exploiting me and my labor. But I couldn’t go to the police because I was a prostitute. I couldn’t expect justice from a justice system that would have been totally unwilling to even put me on the stand as a victim because I was a prostitute. I can’t sue the pimp for exploitation of me and my labor or all the money he took from me or for financial compensation for the harm he caused me. And given that I am considered to be pro prostitution because I am a sex worker rights activist my views would make me ineligible to be a speaker at this conference, despite the fact that I would have been qualified and spoke at similar conferences years ago because I changed views on what is the best method of social change to end violence, exploitation, oppression etc, and changed the group of activists that I work with. I’m still an anti violence, anti exploitation, anti racism, anti discrimination, anti oppression activist. I just focus my activism on what can be done for positive social change now rather than against a monolithic enemy with little chance of a huge victory decades away. My point is to network, to find allies, to define positive social change today, tomorrow and the next day rather than defining all of my enemies and their collaborators in a system of oppression. I stopped being a revolutionary and became a reformist in 2003 which ended my time as a radical feminist given the base definition of radical.

    “It ties men’s orgasms to sexual humiliation and violence which is dangerous. So if there are men and women in the porn industry who are not coerced (however few there are), they need to consider what they are reinforcing about women and people of color.”

    Their orgasms are tied to this anyway. Unfortunately men with orgasms tied to sexual humiliation and violence have to be dealt with more individually. Trying to make this go away via ending porn isn’t going to stop this. This isn’t going to change by forcing pornography underground and realistically it isn’t ever going to end. It is equivalent to the kink.com issue in San Francisco. With the issue of trying to keep them from using the old armory building. I think that’s the building, I’ve been to the Bay Area many times but not enough to be entirely literate on which building. The argument of radical feminist being kink.com does torture porn. Which yes, it does BDSM porn and does depict torture. By kink.com’s own website employment page, there is pain inflicted on actresses for a set financial compensation. But the fight opposing their using that structure to fight BDSM is flawed. Even if they won the fight, which they didn’t, the radical feminist activists would have only driven the BDSM porn production farther underground. Which certainly does not benefit the actresses.
    I understand the point you are making about individual choices impacting others. But the analogy is similar to that used by prohibitionists in the 1920’s with alcohol. They succeeded in getting prohibition in place. But what really changed? If anything it empowered organized crime by driving it underground. It is illegal to drink and drive, yet people do it today and lives are forever changed for the worse when tragedy strikes. We can educate on the risks and harm of drunk driving, we can penalize aggressively for those who do and even harsher for those who do great harm. But we will likely never end it. Best case is holding those that do harm accountable and empowering the victims and potential victims.

    “If you’re referring to me, I hardly count as”the conference”so I think you’re being unfair here”

    I’m not implying that you are the conference. I have no idea who you are.
    I’ve tried to imagine what folks at the conference would say but again, I’m not these conference folks so you shouldn’t treat what I say as representative of the opinions of those AT the conference. And I’ve already explained that the conference organizers have chosen to take a political stand against the pornography industry (b/c it promotes sexism and racism)”

    I don’t have to imagine what some of the speakers at this conference would say. I’ve met them, worked with them and heard what they would do if sex worker rights activists would have shown up at their events. The last radical feminist event that I spoke at one of the featured speakers at this conference was the keynote speaker. There was great paranoia about what steps would happen if sex worker rights activists showed up. Which they didn’t. Some of the activists at my last radical feminist speaking event in 2002 meant well, I still respect and call them friends today despite our differences of opinion because there is mutual respect. And because I respect their convictions even if they are different than mine. Which they have done the same with me. There were others that I believe are toxic to the feminist movement and to the very people they claim to represent. And unfortunately they have come to dominate radical feminism in a way that I couldn’t accept including the basis of that 2002 event. That was the end for me. I heard the outcry from the sex worker rights movement against this event, listened to those that were so opposed to it, asked them for input as to why, what their feelings were and found that their reasoning to oppose this event was very valid. I began asking more questions and saw things from a very different perspective. I had been mislead about the sex worker rights movement. They weren’t aligned with some predatory mega corporation aligned with Hefner and Flynt. Their activism made sense, their reasoning was far more pragmatic and inclusive and was also anti violence, anti exploitation anti racism, anti sexism.

    “They are going to invite anti-porn speakers. They have every right to do that. And even people who are pro-porn are allowed to attend the conference.”

    It’s a college. I’m not I’m in agreement that an event held by a college of higher learning should be so polarized. Had it been a private event sponsored by a group rather than a college, which to my understanding Wheelock College was the sponsor, I would agree with you that they have the right to hire who they choose, but to my understanding it wasn’t sponsored by a private group. Beyond that, I think the term pro porn is a divisive term. Words convey a lot of meaning and there is a major difference between the term pro porn and sex worker rights and the way that the term pro porn is used. The term pro porn tends to be used as a methodology of communicating an alliance with Hefner, Flynt etc,. It’s a misrepresentation.

    “They can ask questions and they can make comments during workshops if they want. Nobody is stopping you from going to this conference and speaking your mind. A lot of folks will disagree with your views, but you can’t say they are denying you your free speech or shutting you out. You are allowed to attend and say what you want.”

    Yes, I can attend. And I can ask my question, speak my mind and take the disagreement that comes. But saying that sex worker rights activists can attend, speak their mind in the face of hostility is a far cry from saying lets hire one of the sex worker rights advocates, whomever, I’m not advocating that it be me, even if invited I couldn’t have done this, so to avoid that as an issue, let’s be clear I’m not advocating that should have been invited as a speaker, actually I shouldn’t be because porn isn’t a category strength for me, there are far more qualified speakers on porn in the sex worker rights movement than I am. But if a sex worker rights speaker were hired to speak and it was made clear that while there were differences of opinion, there were also commonalities of fighting violence, oppression, exploitation and that there was more balance, the event would be much more open to everyone rather than to a partisan crowd. And a much better chance for those new to this type of conference that had yet to form an opinion would have had a chance to see that sex workers are human and fighting worthy causes deserving of respect, I believe this conference would have had a much greater social benefit than just being a partisan event.

    “Just because somebody says that your politics reinforce sexism and explains why,”

    Somebody who says my politics reinforce sexism is absolutely incorrect. They would not be explaining why. They would be explaining their opinion. Explaining why implies they are defining fact. In this case they would not be. They would be defining a misinformed opinion because I am very strongly opposed to sexism and have taken on many fights against it at significant cost. The person explaining why doesn’t know me. This is not an issue that can be explained with why. It can be explained that they have an opinion. I can respect that they feel the way they do about my politics but it doesn’t mean they are explaining why I am reinforcing sexism. And it could be equally stated that by pretentiously telling me why I am reinforcing sexism, they are being sexist by not respecting that as a woman I can define my own thoughts with legitimacy.

    “doesn’t mean they are calling you evil or that they are lecturing you. If you don’t like what somebody is saying, that doesn’t mean they are by-definition lecturing”

    Saying to someone they are reinforcing sexism and explaining why is a strong statement. Framework would be important to this. That they feel that I am or asking me to consider that I am and explaining their beliefs is one thing. Saying to me that I am reinforcing sexism and explaining why……………. That is coming from a place of pretentious moral superiority. This is a social science, not science. We aren’t discussing converting physics with absolute laws and absolute why’s.

    “If you have talked to radical feminists who were rude or nasty to you, I agree that that is unacceptable and anti-feminist. But there is nothing wrong with somebody disagreeing with your politics and there is nothing wrong with organizing an event/conference/forum that takes a particular stand on an issue.”

    If it were disagreeing with my politics I wouldn’t have a problem with it. I’m a strong believer in the right to respectfully disagree. If anything I believe disagreement can often forge very strong growth. That some radical feminists have been rude or nasty to me is irrelevant. I consider the source and base that kind of thing on the individual not the belief. There are radical feminists that I respect, are friends and have been important in my life and still are. This isn’t about branding an entire belief structure. It is about challenging the semantics of a movement and the effects it has.

  17. radfeminist86 says:

    “the radical feminists made it clear who their enemies were but not who they are seeking to help.”

    I disagree. A lot of folks get turned off by radical feminism b/c radical feminists make a point to call things what they are and they are willing to name their oppressors. Whereas liberal feminists or other progressive and even leftists folks often claim both men and women are oppressed by gender, radical feminists said men benefited from the systematic oppression of women. Radical feminists grounded their analysis in the experiences of real women on the ground. Radical feminism came out of consciousness raising in the late 60s and 1970s. Radical feminists took the everyday experiences and realities of women and turned them into an analysis of patriarchy. Radical feminists have always been clear about working towards the liberation of women. And they have also been clear about stating the ways that men oppress women. But radical feminists know men can do better. Radical feminists believe in the fundamental humanity of men to be able to change.

    “I see no positive outcome from a movement about the sex industry that excludes sex workers, or that is opposed to initiatives that empower sex workers.”

    I don’t know many radical feminists who have the goal of excluding sex workers from the movement. In fact, Catharine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin, Ann Russo, etc. have all grounded their analyses of the porn industry in the experiences of sex workers and women and men in the industry. A LOT of people in the industry have been abused, coerced, assaulted, and treated in an inhumane manner. MacKinnon, Dworkin, etc. have also grounded their analysis of pornography in the experiences of women OUTside the industry. Since everything is interconnected, we have to consider the effects of the industry on the culture at large. And based on the accounts of women and men, pornography ties orgasms to scenes of sexual violence and degradation. Women whose partners use pornography have said they are beaten, forced to perform certain sex acts, and treated as sex objects. If men learn to see women as primarily”things to be fucked”when they watch pornography, are they likely to think much differently about women in the workplace, or with their female friends? Based on the rates of acquaintance rape and sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as on the testimony of thousands of women who’ve been harassed at work, it seems that men learn to see women as sex objects that are always sexually available. So I want to stress that pornography has consequences for women as a group. It’s effects are far-reaching and devastating. So I’m not just talking about the women in the industry. And actually the data show that A LOT of women who go into the sex industry were physically and sexually abused as children, had and still have few economic resources, and were socialized to think sexual violation is normal and healthy. Under such circumstances, is the”choice”to enter the sex industry (assuming you aren’t trafficked into it) really a free choice???

    “How they perceive their role in pornography varies from woman to woman but certainly respecting divergent worldviews of the women is a feminist stance.”

    Actually feminism is not about taking all women’s opinions to be equally valid. It’s not anything goes. Feminism is not whatever you want it to be. Feminism is about liberating women from sexist oppression. As such, it takes a particular political stand. So while feminists think women should be free to have their own politics and make their own choices, feminism is not about accepting each of these viewpoints as valid or feminist. Phyllis Schlafly is not a feminist simply because she’s a woman and has an opinion. If we define feminism this way, then feminism is reduced to meaninglessness. Some women think that women should stay in the home and have babies. But feminists do have to, and certainly should not respect this viewpoint as valid or okay.

    “A stand that opposes recognition of the opinions, beliefs, thoughts and feelings of all women in pornography is inherently sexist as it is stating that a percentage of the women are incapable of making legitimate choices.”

    As feminists we try to make sense of the choices women make. All women make choices in the context of this sociohistoric moment. And at this time, women are oppressed based on their gender. So when women make choices which seem to reinforce sexism or perpetuate the status quo, a lot of feminists understand this to be an example of internalized sexism. This doesn’t make these women stupid. Nobody was born with a critical feminist perspective. We all had to have our consciousness raised and we all had to develop these political analyses over time. I would also reiterate that being a member of an oppressed group doesn’t automatically ensure that one will have the best analysis of one’s condition.

    “The spectrum is wide and feminism needs to be adaptable to meet the world view and needs of all women.”

    Feminism needs to take the experiences of all women into account but it DOES NOT need to reflect the political perspectives of all women. As I said above, given how widely women differ in politics, this would stretch feminism into meaninglessness.

    “I can’t sue the pimp for exploitation of me and my labor or all the money he took from me or for financial compensation for the harm he caused me.”

    Giving women the right to bring civil suits against men who create porn and men who abuse and traffic women because of it, is EXACTLY what anti-porn folks have been pushing for. Not censorship, as you have suggested. Censorship has thus far failed to protect women from the abuses resulting from pornography. So please stop saying that we are trying to censor. It simply isn’t true. The anti-pornography ordinance of the 1980s and early 90s were trying to make it legal for women to bring civil suits….they had nothing to do with censorship.

    “My point is to network, to find allies, to define positive social change today, tomorrow and the next day rather than defining all of my enemies and their collaborators in a system of oppression.”

    Why can’t we do both? They are not mutually exclusive. What’s so terrible about saying men systematically benefit from women’s oppression???? It’s describing reality, and I don’t see what’s wrong with that.

    “Their orgasms are tied to this anyway.”

    I don’t know if you’re implying men are hardwired to be turned on by violence, degradation, dehumanization, and rape. I sure hope you aren’t. Our sexualities and desires are not innate. We learn them. Pornography is just one way men learn to be turned on by dehumanizing and dominating women.

    “Unfortunately men with orgasms tied to sexual humiliation and violence have to be dealt with more individually.”

    No, this isn’t an individual problem so individual solutions would not work and they haven’t worked in the past. Is this were an individual problem, we would not see such a gendered difference between men and women. And we wouldn’t see this so widespread among men. Clearly it’s a social problem, with social causes. Consequently social changes are going to have to happen in order for us to change these deeply-held and socialized attitudes and desires.

    “Trying to make this go away via ending porn isn’t going to stop this. This isn’t going to change by forcing pornography underground and realistically it isn’t ever going to end.”

    I don’t ever remember ANY radical feminist saying men’s violence against women would suddenly cease to exist if we got rid of pornography. Please tell me where you heard that. This is a cheap argument made by pro-porn folks. I’m sure women in the early 20th century were told that giving women the vote wouldn’t liberate them entirely or ensure that women would be elected to office. Of course not! But it’s one step. Feminists have never said porn was the only cause of men’s violence against women. It’s not that simple. But they have said porn is implicated in it. It creates a culture where violence against women is more likely to occur. Futhermore, I reject defeatist assertions about the oppression of women. Liberating women is NOT impossible. Hopefully, once people realize the dangerous and unhealthy effects of porn, they will stop buying it. Once it is no longer profitable to traffic and exploit women, hopefully the porn industry will dissipate.

    “But the analogy is similar to that used by prohibitionists in the 1920’s with alcohol.”

    Your discussion of prohibition and drunk driving doesn’t really respond to the point about individual actions having consequences for other people. Actually, there are a number of societies with extremely low rates of drunk driving and the small number is a result of Western values being exported to other societies (imperialism). I think we can eliminate drunk driving.

    “It’s a college. I’m not I’m in agreement that an event held by a college of higher learning should be so polarized. Had it been a private event sponsored by a group rather than a college, which to my understanding Wheelock College was the sponsor, I would agree with you that they have the right to hire who they choose, but to my understanding it wasn’t sponsored by a private group.”

    To my knowledge, Wheelock College is a private college. But that’s beside the point. There is no objective viewpoint on this. Every position reflects a particular political position. And since there is so much evidence (both statistical and anecdotal/qualitative) that pornography harms women as a group and reinforces sexist stereotypes about women, there isn’t anything wrong with taking this position.

    “They would be defining a misinformed opinion because I am very strongly opposed to sexism and have taken on many fights against it at significant cost.”

    Saying you are anti-sexist and believing that you are may not always be reflected in the actions you take. I’ve definitely had to have folks point out to me when I was unmindfully doing something or saying something sexist, even though I consider myself a feminist.
    “And it could be equally stated that by pretentiously telling me why I am reinforcing sexism, they are being sexist by not respecting that as a woman I can define my own thoughts with legitimacy.”

    Oh gosh so if one woman explains to another woman that her actions are reinforcing sexism, that means the woman who is raising the issue sexist, by definition. That’s beyond absurd. I’ve explained a couple times already that feminism is not about validating each woman’s opinion as equally valid. That would make feminism mean everything at once, and thus nothing at all, because women’s politics vary so widely. Having a vagina, does not automatically make one a feminist. Feminism is a political commitment, a political stand against the oppression of women. It is not inherent in women’s anatomy.

    “That they feel that I am or asking me to consider that I am and explaining their beliefs is one thing.”

    I agree that we need to be polite to each other rather than rude and patronizing. But I think we’re being a bit too thin-skinned if we are offended or hurt by statements that don’t start with”in my opinion…”or”Personally, I think…” I’m not going to make something I know to be true sound like an opinion. It’s much easier to dismiss if I do. There are some things we can say with certainty. If I see a man grabbing at women and fondling them in a workplace, I can say with certainty,”What you are doing is wrong. You think it is okay to violate women and that is sexist.”

    We seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of sex worker rights. I believe that women in the porn industry should absolutely have the right to be economically self-sufficient and free from sexual violence. I believe these women should not be discriminated against and I believe these women should have reproductive rights. I think these prostitution should be decriminalized, as I think these laws target the prostitutes more than the pimps and johns who rape and traffic these women. But I do not support the industry they are involved in because of the way MANY in the industry are treated and also because of the sexist and racist messages is sells. I don’t think supporting the rights of sex workers means I must also support the oppressive industry they are involved in.

  18. Pingback: Women's Space/The Margins

  19. Pingback: Women's Space/The Margins

  20. Pingback: Women's Space/The Margins

  21. xyzskybabe says:

    Ann you asked me the following question which time has been short for me so I haven’t had time to respond. However a radical feminist activist/MSW Psycho-Therapist named Andrea Lavigne, responded to the Wheelock petition directly to me via another message board and email and essentially defines by her words much of my problem with the methodology.

    Andrea Lavigne has every right to her opinion. This isn’t a challenge to her opinion. It is analysis of the choice of methodology.

    A few things that immediately strike me and that have been consistent more often than not in my experience in activism both when I did radical feminist based activism and since my 2003 split with the radical feminist movement and choice to work as a sex worker rights activist.

    1. While I am honored by the attribution, I did not write the petition regarding Wheelock. I wasn’t even involved in it’s draft process. My name is first, I believe, because I signed first. My role in the petition was only to forward it. Andrea immediately made the assumption that I wrote the petition, incorrectly judged me, my feminism, my views, my background, my alliances and my sway over others just by reading this petition. She jumped to make me an enemy without so much as asking a question.

    2. Andrea via her own words makes feminism exclusive to her view of it. And makes all others aligned with various forces of evil. Feminism is a theory. Theory according to Webster’s defines as such

    Main Entry: the•o•ry
    Pronunciation: ‘thE-&-rE, ‘thir-E
    Function: noun
    Inflected Form(s): plural -ries
    Etymology: Late Latin theoria, from Greek theOria, from theOrein
    1 : the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another
    2 : abstract thought : SPECULATION
    3 : the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art
    4 a : a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action b : an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances — often used in the phrase in theory
    5 : a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena
    6 a : a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation b : an unproved assumption : CONJECTURE c : a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject
    synonym see HYPOTHESIS

    Analysis of a set of facts in relation to another. Thus differing analysis. There is no gatekeeper to feminism. Feminism is open to interpretation. Andrea’s rigidity shuts out far more than it includes, makes enemies where there aren’t and turns away a large group that may have considered feminism but now view the entire movement as judgmental, rigid and centered on determining enemies rather than social change. I left largely over this same dynamic, the group of younger feminist activists, all of which that were self defined as prostitution survivors, left radical feminism citing this same basic dynamic.

    Andrea states there is no significant disagreement with in feminism. How is that possible? As a response to Andrea’s letter on my blog stated, http://www.myspace.com/jillbrenneman this would be a first in human history that a moment was without disagreement. Unless of course one evaluates movements which drove out all disagreement making non believers out of diversity and heretics out of those that chose to disagree.

    3. Until she sent me her email and posted to the Northampton porn message board I had never even heard of Andrea Lavigne. We have never until this week met or interacted in any way. She makes sweeping analysis, very hostile analysis of me, my beliefs, my activism, my very character without so much as ever having interacted with me. I was judged to be the enemy, addressed with extensive misinformed hostility and blatantly told that I was representing social evil, was part of it, and that I was in charge of some movement to infiltrate and co-opt feminism. Which leads to point 4.

    4. While I signed, fully endorse the petition and forwarded it, it does not mean that I am in charge of some vast group of pornographer buddies as Andrea Lavigne attributes me to, neither am I in charge of any movement to infiltrate feminism or co-opt it. By Webster’s definition of feminism, Andrea, I and all those that signed the petition all qualify as being feminist. And beyond that as theory it is not open to infiltration. Infiltration and feminism are non related terms that can’t be placed together logically.

    5. I can state without question that I am not trying to infiltrate or co-opt feminism. I am a feminist thus don’t have do infiltrate anything. My analysis of fact is neither infiltration nor co-opting feminism. Nor is feminism exclusive to radical/anti porn feminism.

    6. Andrea’s rigid view of feminism and strong borders of who qualifies as feminist and anti feminist seems to have become a significant force within radical feminism. The same type of speech and worldview can be attributed to Melissa Farley, to Janice Raymond, to Donna Hughes, to Nikki Craft, while all are entitled to their own definition and my challenge is not to their right to this worldview, I do believe this worldview is damaging to feminism, perhaps potentially lethal to radical feminism as it drives too many away, is presented as coming down from radical feminist leadership, leaves those who dare challenge it a choice to either be silent with disagreement or leave the radical femininst movement and if they dare speak out with divergent opinion be open to the very strong and aggressive responses that I have received on multiple mediums. While I knew to expect it and took that into consideration before I chose to go very public with my sex worker human rights based activism, others new to feminism, new to radical feminism are not aware of this dynamic. Much of the criticism leveled at me today was the same criticism I received even while I worked from a radical feminist position. I entered radical feminism not by reading about it but through the work of a very talented advocate counselor at a Portland Oregon based program that is now defunct which worked with those transitioning out of the sex industry. While she was a radical feminist, she also was humanistic in her approach. She found constructive to build upon. Her place in my life and history is warm and had very positive impact. I entered activism a few months later just as the program was ceasing operation and thus losing contact with this advocate/counselor believing that other radical feminists were like her. Some were and became close friends, most were not. Most were of the view point of Andrea Lavigne. My lack of knowledge of this dynamic left me wide open to victimization and I can state openly that the activists taking Ms. Lavigne’s view caused me significant pain and harm and their methods and ideology betrayed the feminism I was taught by this advocate counselor. I can also say that the radical feminist survivor based activists that I became close with for the very large part have all left radical feminism as a result of the strident ultra radical feminism endorsed by Andrea Lavigne and others like her. Many are now villified just as I am. Others left feminist activism feeling betrayed and took their talents, their important views with them into silence. Most actually. Many left feminism all together. I chose to continue my feminist activism and found the sex worker rights movement was not evil as it was portrayed but instead humanistic, tolerant and focused on constructive social change that is inclusive of diversity. Respect, freedom and empowerment of women are core values, of the sex worker rights movement and activists that I work with. Not the disrespect, excessive need for control and disempowerment for all but the movement leadership and those in absolute compliance with them as I found in radical feminism.

    7. I can not call off my “buddies” as Andrea Lavigne orders. No one that I know is infiltrating feminism or trying to co-opt it. I don’t believe feminism can be infiltrated and if anyone is trying to co-opt it is Andrea Lavigne through her rigid view, exclusivity and method of creating enemies on all fronts. At least from her own perspective. I am not an enemy of Andrea Lavigne or any other radical feminist. Except perhaps in their worldview. I have a difference of opinion and choose to express it and choose to challenge those wrongly analyzing my feminism, my character and my activism. I am not in charge of some vast underworld network of spies and infiltrators and thus can not issue some communiqué to stop the war. Because there is no war.

    8. The very patriarchy that Andrea claims to fight as surpressed women for centuries. Now various feminist activists in their efforts to fight patriarchy are taking the same measures. It feels like a revolutionary movement I want no part of. Replacing one set of rigid dynamics that disenfranchise women with another. There are many historical analogies of revolutions that have done this very thing. Replaced one repressive state leadership with an equally repressive one while both claimed to be representing the “people”. History is filled with examples.

    I’m out of time. That is my response.

    Peace

    Dear Jill Brenneman

    Here is my response to your posting.

    Jill Brenneman writes: “We are deeply concerned by the rigid ways in which the complex issues of feminism and pornography are portrayed. In the broader society as well as within academic and feminist frameworks, there is a lot of disagreement about the extent to which pornography reflects and promotes sexism and violence.”

    Andrea Lavigne writes: You mention the broader society as if this broader society is some gender neutral egalitarian international community.

    Anti-porn feminists are against rigid sex roles bestowed upon us by the patriarchy, the broader oppressive, male chauvinist society in which you subscribe to, Jill. Sex roles are rigid for the fact that they are patriarchally based on private ownership, class division, hierarchy, male supremacy, inheritance via the male line, a male God, sexual discrimination, etc…. It is the anti-porn feminism who maintain non-rigid sex roles. In fact, any deviation from anti-porn feminism’s non-rigid sex roles toward patriarchal sex roles is a direction toward the most extreme rigidity. Anti-porn feminism is to non-rigidity what patriarchy is to rigidity. Any deviation away from anti-porn feminism is a move away from true sexual liberation, toward sexual repression/oppression. The disagreement in which you speak about is really a disagreement between anti-porn feminists and so-called pro-porn feminists. The disagreement is amongst those who claim to be feminists, but are really sex liberals who really are not feminists, but people who have co-opted feminism. These”pro-porn”feminists really subscribe to traditional patriarchal standards of female sexuality. Amongst true feminists, there is no substantial disagreement. The so-called pro-porn feminists are really the lackeys and apologists of the patriarchy.

    Furthermore, I should not have to put the words anti-porn in front of the word feminism to distinguish me from so-called feminists. To be a feminist is in part to be anti-porn amongst other elements that make up feminism. Within true feminism, there is no room for pro-porn. For the sake of the feminist movement being high-jacked by”pro-porn feminists”,”pro-sex feminists, or sexual liberals, I will make the distinction and keep the anti-porn words in front of the word feminism. A person can’t be a pro-porn feminist anymore than s/he can be a pro-meat vegan.

    Jill writes: “Though this conference is about pornography, none of the presenters on the agenda are performers in the pornography industry. Various important voices are excluded from the list of presenters, such as sex workers, feminists and scholars with opposing views about pornography, and advocates for the legitimization of consensual sex work.”

    Andrea writes: One doesn’t have to be a”sex worker”to have an objective opinion on the oppressive influence patriarchy has on our sexuality. Secondly, you don’t know whether or not the conference presenters ever performed sex work or intimately know someone else who has. You don’t know the historical plight of those who presented at the conference. Thirdly, all of us women are seasoned into the sex trade to some degree whether entered into the sex trade or not at some point or degree. You can’t say a”sex worker”, is going to be more objective about pornography, than a non-“sex worker”. An objective interpretation of the sex trade by a”sex worker”or other, no matter what, requires in someone a high degree of liberation from internalization of oppression. This would be someone most likely in a refuse and resist mode. There is no such thing as legitimate consensual sex work under patriarchy. Consensual implies making a decision free from coercion. When a human being is reduced to a body, objectification to sexually service another, whether or not there is consent, violation of the human being has taken place. In the American legal system, consent has become the defining factor in determining whether violation has occurred. In this way the human experience and self is reduced to will, intent or consent, as if that is all that is involved in violation. In this way, liberal legal theory does not consider the oppressive condition of class domination which invokes consent.
    Anyway,”sex worker”implies a simplistic employer / employee relationship. Just like you would not reduce the relationship between a domestic batterer and survivor of domestic violence to one of employer / employee relationship, you would not be correct to reduce the pimp/prostitute relationship to a simplistic employer / employee relationship.

    Jill writes: “Furthermore, the genre called “feminist pornography” is not included on the agenda. This genre of pornography is inspired by feminist principles, such as gender equality, bodily freedom, and mutual sexual pleasure. Women play a major role in producing this genre of pornography, so this genre is not produced just by men for a predominately male target audience.”

    Andrea writes: There is no such thing as feminist pornography. The term pornography, porno- means whore. Feminist pornography is an oxymoron. Just because pornography is made by women does not mean that it is feminist pornography. For example, Boink magazine, founded by a”sex positive”woman is suppose to display”egalitarian”sexuality. But, when you do an analysis of the magazine, it has a stark resemblance to the same old tired patriarchal genderistic ethics / portrayals of female and male sexuality. Boink caters exactly to a male target audience, even though it’s founder is female.

    Jill writes: “…we contend that conferences such as this one must be more balanced in the name of academic integrity. Though the organizers and presenters of this conference have the right to their perceptions, it is important to understand that their attitudes toward pornography do not reflect the views of all sex workers, feminists, and scholars.”

    Andrea writes: You mention that this conference has to be more balanced in the name of academic integrity. Wow. Earlier you had a beef about academia, now you want academic integrity. Anyway, the patriarchal pornographer’s have a long history where only their voice was heard, and heard loud. The voices of anti-porn feminists at an anti-porn conference once a year does not even come near to the loud mouth pornographers that we have to contend with all year around. Even if you wrote to your local pornographers to cut their sexist bullshit in half, their loud mouths would still muffle out the voices of anti-porn feminists. You want balance, go tell your pornographer buddies this. You and your buddies need to stop infiltrating and co-opting the feminist movement once and for all.

    Andrea Lavigne

  22. xyzskybabe says:

    More response to radical feminist activist rad feminist86
    Current mood: blank
    Category: News and Politics

    Italicized text are excerpts from a radical feminst activist named radfeminist86 Non Italicized text is from Jill Brenneman.

    I disagree. A lot of folks get turned off by radical feminism b/c radical feminists make a point to call things what they are and they are willing to name their oppressors.

    I’m not opposed to naming oppressors. I’ve done so frequently in my activist career. If anything it has left me the target of significant hostility because I’ll call it as I see it and name an oppressor whether or not they are supposed to be on my side of the fence or opponent. But I found that one of the things that turned me away from radical feminism was too much zeal by too many in the radical feminist movement to view to many as oppressors when in fact they weren’t. Many times, there could have been common ground reached were instead enemies are made because someone was immediately told they are an oppressor. Radical feminists in my opinion turn people off because they are too quick to jump to naming an oppressor and too intolerant of diversity. The importance seems to be more in blanket compliance to an absolute radical feminist message than in humanistic goals. I’ve watched radical feminist speakers turn people off because they were too quick to name oppressors, to sweeping in the generalizations and thereby lost the audience not because of disagreement over the message but over the method of presentation. From the outside radical feminism appears an elitist, arrogant, moralistic judgmental, men hating and out of touch movement that gives fodder to Rush Limbaugh’s hate shit about feminists.

    Whereas liberal feminists or other progressive and even leftists folks often claim both men and women are oppressed by gender, radical feminists said men benefited from the systematic oppression of women.

    Both are correct. Men have gained by systematic oppression of women. This is a worldwide event pervasive in virtually every culture. But, men and women are also victims of oppression. One of the criticisms of radical feminism is that it makes all women victims of the patriarchy or whores collaborating with it and makes all but the most complaint men to the radical feminist message into oppressors. I have that a significant segment of the radical feminist movement has been as oppressive or worse to me and others than many of the men that are considered to be oppressors. Andrea Lavigne’s response to me is more typical of the response I have received from anti sex industry radical feminists than atypical. And this started long before I was a sex worker rights activist. My experience is that radical feminism has failed to learn from oppression of women and often replicates the methodology of the oppressors against those who are considered having transgressed or worse collaborated with an enemy. Andrea Lavigne and many others like her in their rush to judge completely misfire as she did in her letter to me which was based on faulty assumption. I was tried, judged and convicted on the basis of a petition she assumed I wrote and took that assumption to wild extremes of telling me to stop my pornographer buddies and infiltrator buddies from co-opting feminism. I can’t even name a pornographer that I know off the top of my head. I know for a fact that I don’t know a single infiltrator radical feminism. And there are far too many similar experiences to call her the exception.

    Radical feminists grounded their analysis in the experiences of real women on the ground.

    As is virtually every other genre of feminism. There is no monopoly of ownership on this. Feminism is not something that can be owned. Feminism is theory.

    Radical feminism came out of consciousness raising in the late 60s and 1970s. Radical feminists took the everyday experiences and realities of women and turned them into an analysis of patriarchy.

    I know the history. I even know some of the activists involved in the 60’s and 70’s radical feminist movement. There is often an assumption anyone not self identified as a radical feminist does not know radical feminism’s history, successes, failures, goals. It emerged from the anti-war movement in the Vietnam era from groups like SDS, Students for a Democratic Society, movement when women realized many of the activists for ending oppression at that time were working to end oppression of men and women were being left behind. I’ve read the books too. I’ve even met and talked with some of those same activists at length. I’m not naïve to history. I can also think off the top of my head of a major radical feminist activist, now deceased, who had her message and affiliation to her very badly exploited by a sector of radical feminist activists who use and used their affiliation with her for their own power and amassing major ethical breaches which she herself opposed once made aware of them. I know for a fact from personal interaction with her that she opposed the tendency to turn the radical feminist fight against women. Especially those with current or former experience in the sex industry.

    Analysis and fighting patriarchal oppression is something I strongly advocate for and believe in. But there have to be realistic limits in who is named as oppressors, collaborators and alike and ethical boundaries in the fight against patriarchal oppression. There also has to be recognition that ends don’t justify the means when the actions of the oppressor are replicated. Further, radical feminism often fails to factor humanism into the fight against patriarchal oppression. How often is harm reduction judged as collaborating with the oppressor? It isn’t. Activists can not simply sacrifice everyone genuinely at risk today and in need of aid for the pursuit of fighting oppression. Not everyone is in the same place. Not everyone is going to be able or willing to fight the sex industry but that does not negate their need for freedom from violence, from discrimination, from sexism, from racism, from sexually transmitted diseases. There is a worldwide populace that can’t afford the luxury of feminist analysis. Their needs are immediate, first person, ground level and they can not be sacrificed for the good of fighting the war against oppression. Nor are they collaborators in oppression nor are those willing to assist them and accept their worldview. The USaid TVPRA, Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act is a terrible example of blatant abandonment of those in need for the sake of a fight against oppression with it’s loyalty pledge requirement, it’s denial of funding based on academic ideology that is irrelevant or harmful. What is dressed up as a collaboration between radical feminists and the Bush Administration as a progressive method of fighting human trafficking is for the large part just a cheap ploy to keep the financial pie to themselves by radical feminist based organizations. Obviously there are some radical feminist based anti trafficking organizations doing very good work, there are also many disingenuous efforts to forward and maintain this legislation for personal gain by radical feminist activists aligned with the Bush Administration. Meanwhile all those unable or unwilling to take the TVPRA pledge get shut out from funding from the US and are financially strangled. It isn’t the radical feminists that are the victims being shut off from funding that are being harmed. Analysis and fighting oppression can only go so far and become destructive when acceptable losses are factored into the fight and enemies of the fight and collaborators with oppressors are artificially created. TVPRA is a huge moral breach of trust and good faith in it’s alleged goals. It’s a transparent ploy to shut out the left from funding regardless of cost.

    It is also essential that radical feminism not make all women victims of patriarchal oppression or collaborators with it. This is far too polarized with too much conflation of terms defining victims and far too much emphasis on labeling those outside radical feminism as supportive of sexist, racist, patriarchal oppressions. It leads to a question of whether radical feminism is engaging in social change based ideology that factors humans or just a narrow war against a perceived vast enemy.

    Radical feminists have always been clear about working towards the liberation of women

    Liberation of women doesn’t come from repressing dissidence within the women’s movement. Nor does it come from being a movement that states compliance to it’s belief structures is the only path to liberation. There are many paths to liberation, radical feminism isn’t the only path.

    . And they have also been clear about stating the ways that men oppress women. But radical feminists know men can do better. Radical feminists believe in the fundamental humanity of men to be able to change.

    Then the rhetoric and methodology needs to be toned down. Aggressive action begets aggressive action, hostility begets hostility. Save the aggression for the actual offenders, not sweeping generalized views of offenders and collaborators.

    I don’t know many radical feminists who have the goal of excluding sex workers from the movement

    How many names should I list of those who have? Perhaps why I have met with so much hostility from the Wheelock petition because I was on the inside of the radical feminist movement and left over my inability to accept the rigidity of it, the ethical abuses, the endless demonization of too many, the exclusion of voices from sex workers and the sex worker rights and initiatives that were inherently destructive, blatantly academic, elitist, far too quick to make enemies where there shouldn’t have been and in some cases just completely absurd inclusions that inspired zero credibility. How many immediately jumped to aggressive and hostile action over the Wheelock letter to the editor protesting sex worker exclusion? And why if there is not set goal from excluding sex workers why the very hostile response to the petition from so many? While you have engaged in discourse with me on this the vast majority of responses from radical feminists on various boards were blatantly hostile, aggressive and blatant misrepresentations. Celia Williamson does a conference on prostitution in Ohio each year in which multiple views are presented, not just a radical feminist view, and the sky hasn’t fallen. Why can’t Celia’s vision of inclusiveness of diversity be a vector point? Wouldn’t it make more sense to be inclusive and humanist?

    . In fact, Catharine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin, Ann Russo, etc. have all grounded their analyses of the porn industry in the experiences of sex workers and women and men in the industry.

    Grounded in the experience of some sex workers and women and men in the industry. And failed to factor those that don’t support their argument. And this from my own experience is a transitory point with radical feminists. I’ve watched too many that were harmed in the sex industry that were championed as such by radical feminism suddenly had their experiences horribly attacked, challenged and invalidated when they dared to challenge the radical feminist party line. I am only one example of a significant number. I’ve just chosen to be outspoken about this where others have remained silent.

    A LOT of people in the industry have been abused, coerced, assaulted, and treated in an inhumane manner. MacKinnon, Dworkin, etc. have also grounded their analysis of pornography in the experiences of women OUTside the industry.

    Yes, you’re right. A lot of people have been abused, coerced, assaulted and treated in an inhumane matter. But again I go to basic sex worker rights core values in which all of these are strong points that the sex worker rights movement is working to stop. There isn’t monopoly on trying to stop abuse, coercion violence and inhumanity.

    Since everything is interconnected, we have to consider the effects of the industry on the culture at large. And based on the accounts of women and men, pornography ties orgasms to scenes of sexual violence and degradation.

    Agreed, it is something to be considered and taken seriously. The same could be said of much of the media showing violence, degradation, torture of anyone. But these mediums aren’t going to go away. We can educate against this but it will still exist regardless. Anything can be used as a weapon. The goal is to educate. Jesus preached peace and tolerance yet how many use his words for reasons of hatred and as weapons for coercion. We don’t ban Christianity because of Jim Jones. We educate and work to end abuses.

    Women whose partners use pornography have said they are beaten, forced to perform certain sex acts, and treated as sex objects.

    You’re right that this is a serious social problem. I agree. But where I disagree is that this will ever go away. It may be driven further underground but it won’t go away. The bigger responsibility is incumbent upon men to recognize that women are not there to be beaten, forced to perform certain acts or treated as sex objects. Which is education. Anything can be taken and used in a context that is harmful.

    If men learn to see women as primarily “things to be fucked” when they watch pornography, are they likely to think much differently about women in the workplace, or with their female friends?

    Sexual harassment has been around as long as women have been in the workforce and well before porn was as prevalent as it is today. If anything it was worse decades ago. Which granted it still happens significantly today and society still has to make huge steps against sexual harassment. For as far as we have come in stopping sexual harassment we still have farther to go. Both in stopping in by having all men recognize what is sexual harassment, it’s impact but also in forcing companies to do more than just have strong company policies against sexual harassment talking about zero tolerance but being undercut by the fact that once a woman files a sexual harassment complaint most times she has signed her career death warrant at that employer because they will do virtually anything to cover it up, minimize it, to avoid litigation, thus it is not acknowledged as sexual harassment, but with legal definitions such as inappropriate behavior or somehow her word isn’t provable in their investigations, all with the goal of corporate greed in avoiding potential payment for pain and suffering. For sexual harassment to end there is going to have to be much more than a fight against porn. There is going to have to be a fight for corporate responsibility.

    Based on the rates of acquaintance rape and sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as on the testimony of thousands of women who’ve been harassed at work, it seems that men learn to see women as sex objects that are always sexually available.

    But I’m not inherently defending porn. If anything I can state that I have been harmed as a result of men’s abuse of porn. But, I fail to see how sex worker rights activism is supposed to advance male abuse of women. Zero tolerance for coercion, an absolute right to say no. Those are sex worker rights core values, the same values that should apply to all women, sex workers and non sex workers. Abuses related to porn are still based on the same basic premise of abuse of power as rape. There are cases of 80 year women getting raped, there can not be an abundance of pornographic images of 80 year old women, yet it still happens. Sexual harassment, rape, women being sex objects are inherently abuses of power and fueled by power. Male prisoners are raped in prison not because the perpetrators saw images of men being raped but because of power. If anything, radical feminists should be joining with sex worker rights activists to fight for the same goals of ending abuses against sex workers. Since we are both talking about zero tolerance for abuse, for coercion, for the absolute right of anyone to say no. But the fight is focused on porn as the issue rather than abuse of power, the sex workers are viewed as inherently collaborating with rapists by producing the porn unless they can prove without question they were coerced into producing the porn, and being blamed by feminism for male abuse of power which results in abuse of women. This doesn’t fight patriarchy or abuse, it divides women who should be on the same side. I’ve seen thousands of people killed in television and movies, seen women and men depicted as objects to be killed and tortured in television and movies. We all have. But it isn’t watching the movies that inherently turns some into murderers or else we all would. Why does the vast majority of the population never kill or torture anyone despite seeing it depicted thousands of times in their life times? Because we’re taught not to and there are consequences for doing it. If anything placing the blame on porn for rape and sexual harassment is giving excuse to rapists and sexual harassers to excuse their behavior. They learned it on television.

    So I want to stress that pornography has consequences for women as a group. It’s effects are far-reaching and devastating. So I’m not just talking about the women in the industry.

    Agreed but lets take on those that have caused the consequences of abuse. Which is the abuser. Not give them excuses saying porn made them do it. And certainly not finding a way to make women responsible for male abuses because they took part in filming porn. They are no more responsible for men who rape and abuse than Kiefer Sutherland is for torture because he plays the role of Jack Bauer. No one would blame Kiefer Sutherland because someone tortured a man even though Jack Bauer tortures someone virtually in every episode. The issue is about abuse of power.

    Under such circumstances, is the “choice” to enter the sex industry (assuming you aren’t trafficked into it) really a free choice???

    Choice is a diverse concept to address unless it is specifically forced trafficking. There is a significant percentage of sex workers that were abused as children but than the same can probably be said about many fields only studies haven’t been done. How many police officers were abused as children? In situations where coercion isn’t direct or where sex work isn’t survival sex as a last option, it is disenfranchising to women to say their childhood makes them enter sex work rather than choosing other options. Do I define all of my career choices based on the abuse of childhood? Am I a flight attendant because of childhood sexual abuse? Perhaps childhood sexual abuse could be stated as making someone more likely to choose sex work but it is still a choice. We don’t say a prison guard had no choice to become a prison guard because he was abused in his childhood. But the more important aspect is regardless of choice or lack thereof no one benefits from the current climate which supports criminalization of prostitution because the prostitutes take the majority of arrests and have the least resources and recourse against violence, discrimination, abuse, etc. Radical feminists often talk of the Swedish model but yet have allied with President Bush in TVPRA. Does anyone really believe President Bush is going to follow the Swedish Model and decriminalize the prostitutes? What in his presidency would lead to a belief that he cares about prostitutes? His war on trafficking is just a public relations move to show he is tough on every issue that is brought before him.

    Actually feminism is not about taking all women’s opinions to be equally valid. It’s not anything goes. Feminism is not whatever you want it to be. Feminism is about liberating women from sexist oppression. As such, it takes a particular political stand

    Actually that is an interpretation of feminism. The actual definition of feminism is:
    feminism

    One entry found for feminism.
    ..>..>..>..>

    Main Entry: fem·i·nism ..[if gte vml 1]> ..[endif]–>..[if !vml]–>..[endif]–>
    Pronunciation: ‘fe-m&-“ni-z&m
    Function: noun
    1 : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
    2 : organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests
    – fem·i·nist ..[if gte vml 1]> ..[endif]–>..[if !vml]–>..[endif]–>/-nist/ noun or adjective
    – fem·i·nis·tic ..[if gte vml 1]> ..[endif]–>..[if !vml]–>..[endif]–>/”fe-m&-‘nis-tik/ adjective

    Thus it is open to many views.

    So while feminists think women should be free to have their own politics and make their own choices, feminism is not about accepting each of these viewpoints as valid or feminist.

    Not every woman is a feminist. Many don’t’ even identify as such. But I fail to see feminism as unilateral to one view of it. That shuts most women out of feminism unless they are willing to follow a straight and narrow path and not challenge the party line. I don’t consider that equality or something that works on behalf of women’s rights or interests. It is more akin to fundamentalism.

    Phyllis Schlafly is not a feminist simply because she’s a woman and has an opinion. If we define feminism this way, then feminism is reduced to meaninglessness.

    Feminism is reduced to meaninglessness when it has no meaning to the majority of women because it is a marginalized movement that doesn’t speak to the average woman. Not every woman that claims to be a feminist is. I agree. But that goes in both ways. I can think of many fundamentalist right wing type women that I would not consider feminists. I can also think of some radical feminists that I don’t consider feminist either.

    I’m running out of time.

    Feminism needs to take the experiences of all women into account but it DOES NOT need to reflect the political perspectives of all women. As I said above, given how widely women differ in politics, this would stretch feminism into meaninglessness.

    But radical feminism is so narrow and seems to be increasingly focused on becoming more narrow that it is shrinking feminism into meaninglessness.

    Why can’t we do both? They are not mutually exclusive. What’s so terrible about saying men systematically benefit from women’s oppression???? It’s describing reality, and I don’t see what’s wrong with that.

    We can do both. That is my whole point. There is nothing wrong with saying men systematically benefit from women’s oppression. I am in agreement with that. But empowering sex workers fights this oppression. Disempowering sex worker rights only adds to oppression. There is room for both. I don’t see the sex worker rights movement as adding to women’s oppression I see it as fighting the oppression of women. Denial of women’s rights to fight the war on oppression of women only adds to that oppression and divides women and feminists. Tolerance, diversity and respect for different methodology in the fight against oppression is imperative. Feminism isn’t an exclusive club. Neither is the fight in the war against oppression of women, the oppression of sex workers. I have never heard a sex worker say that she is doing porn because she wants other women to be raped or harmed yet that assumption is made. I have never heard Kiefer Sutherland say he is making 24 and torturing people to cause torture. Why are radical feminists holding women to a standard that they don’t hold men to? Men and women are both humans. If Kiefer Sutherland tortures humans, than that extends to men and women and thus he is responsible for torture following the radical feminist basis. He isn’t held to this standard, neither are male action heros. We’ve had three Governors and a President that played abusers in movies yet there is little relevance given to them when unknown Joe Thug abuses an unknown victim. Yet sex workers are being held accountable as collaborating in violence against women despite the fact that the sex workers are themselves probably the most likely to be victimized and with the lowest amount of resources and recourse in the event of being victimized.

    Again, I believe the focus needs to be on the abuser and on educating against abuse, not on finding excuses for abuse or blaming a percentage of women deemed to be collaborating with misogyny for the violence perpetrated by men against women. It is inherent to feminism that men be held accountable for their own sexuality. Not women. If a man sexually abuses a woman, he is the abuser. Not her and not some woman in a movie.

    I’m out of time.

    Peace

  23. xyzskybabe says:

    Oh gosh so if one woman explains to another woman that her actions are reinforcing sexism, that means the woman who is raising the issue sexist, by definition. That’s beyond absurd
    You explain this as if you are explaining gravity to grammar school students. That would be objective and something to explain. Gravity is absolute. Your viewpoints are not absolute. They are subjective to your worldview. Which is fine. You can communicate yourself however you want to but in taking a condescending posture you risk the value of your message being lost in the presentation. There is also the fact that you really don’t know me well enough to make much of a statement explaining my beliefs to me.
    I’ve explained a couple times already that feminism is not about validating each woman’s opinion as equally valid.
    So if a man said the above statement to you that he his beliefs were more pure than feminism and that even though you are both humans that your belief of equality of the sexes and your opinion was not as valid as his because he stated believing in a true belief while yours was somehow misguided and reinforcing negative consequence that you would agree with his position and find him someone who’s beliefs were more appropriate than yours? Even if that man barely knew you?
    Having a vagina, does not automatically make one a feminist. Feminism is a political commitment, a political stand against the oppression of women. It is not inherent in women’s anatomy.
    I’m glad we are in agreement that having a vagina does not make one a feminist, that feminism is a political commitment, a political stand against the oppression of women and is not inherent to a woman’s anatomy. I couldn’t have articulated my feelings of why I was willing to sign and forward the Wheelock petition better.
    …”I’m not going to make something I know to be true sound like an opinion. It’s much easier to dismiss if I do.
    There are some things we can say with certainty. If I see a man grabbing at women and fondling them in a workplace, I can say with certainty,”What you are doing is wrong. You think it is okay to violate women and that is sexist.”
    We would strongly agree on this point. If anything I would be willing to go farther and state that the man perpetrated sexual assault on a female and go to court against him. I don’t care what motivated him to do it. Pornography, that his parents were poor parents, that he was varsity football player, whatever, all are irrelevant. He just made a choice to perpetrate under North Carolina law at least one count of sexual assault on a female. The reasons for his behavior would be up to his attorney to determine and make his case before the judge. The backlash is that his attorney could very well use the radical feminist argument that porn made him do it to argue that he didn’t realize his actions were wrong. Which we both know would be a crock of shit but we have given him excuse to make someone else responsible for his actions when in fact he is responsible.
    But I do not support the industry they are involved in because of the way MANY in the industry are treated and also because of the sexist and racist messages is sells. I don’t think supporting the rights of sex workers means I must also support the oppressive industry they are involved in.
    You’re making the assumption that I am this huge sex industry advocate. What I am is a sex worker human rights advocate who believes the industry will always exist thus I seek reform as I don’t believe revolution is possible and even if it were many of the activists that are self identified revolutionaries trying to overthrow the sex industry and replace it with feminism are activists that I trust no more than I trust those that exploit women now. Exploitation takes many forms. And while I am not in any way stating that you are exploiting anyone. I don’t know you, not even your name, so this is not a statement about you. But from what I have seen first hand from both sides of the coin is that there are many in the radical feminist leadership positions that need to address their own exploitation of women, of power and of social status before they initiate their revolution. Too many historical models of revolution gone wrong when the revolutionaries take control and already feel they have the morally superior position to all others, the overthrown and those that were neither in power before nor after the revolution. While you may have authentic feminist social change goals, I don’t know you well enough to form an opinion, I do know many of the radical feminist leadership types much better, have known them over a long period of time and have seen them operate. There are abusers everywhere. I’ve seen what they do, been the target of their hatred and seen the damage they have caused. Often to the very women they claim to represent and the very activists so willing to do anything to prove their feminism is up to par.

    Again, it is reason why I walked away.

  24. xyzskybabe says:

    One last point that I meant to make before sending the last post. My issues with many of the radical feminst leadership types are not about them being rude to me or inconsiderate and has nothing to do with being thin skinned. Which I’m not anyway.

    This has to do with major ethical breaches and blatant abuse of power and of the very women who trust and believe in the radical feminist leadership members that I have such a strong issue with. There is a point where a movement has to police itself and deal with abusers in it’s own midst. Apparently the TVPRA money and power was enough to convince many to overlook what they previously were stating strong objection to. And those too low in the social chain of the movement that were opposed are all out of the movement. Most out of feminism at a major loss to both the feminist movement and to social change as way too many talented activists are gone and silent as a result.

  25. radfeminist86 says:

    “But I found that one of the things that turned me away from radical feminism was too much zeal by too many in the radical feminist movement to view to many as oppressors when in fact they weren’t.”

    I simply don’t see what the problem is with saying that men are a privileged group and everyone of them benefits from women’s oppression. I think we can say that without implying that all men are bad people. Even the men who are actively involved in feminist movement still benefit from male privilege. They will continue to receive the unearned benefits of male privilege until there is equality between the sexes.

    “because someone was immediately told they are an oppressor”

    I’ve never heard feminists say,”I would like to find common ground with you but you’re an oppressor.”

    “But, men and women are also victims of oppression.”

    Please read Marilyn Frye’s famous essay”Oppression”where she explains very coherently why men are not oppressed as men. Men benefit and receive unearned privileges because of their gender. Men are quite often oppressed by their race, class, and sexuality, but NOT by their gender. Claiming that men and women are both oppressed by gender is anti-feminist. I would agree that in some ways men are restricted by the gender system, but this restriction ultimately works to the benefit of men as a group.

    “One of the criticisms of radical feminism is that it makes all women victims of the patriarchy or whores collaborating with it”

    So basically what you’re saying is that feminism itself hurts women. Feminists HAVE to be able to describe what is happening to women everyday. If you look around we see women being beaten, raped, sexually harassed, denied their reproductive rights, pressured to change their bodies to conform to beauty standards, and forced to do the emotional labor in heterosexual relationships. Women are oppressed. We have to be able to make that statement. And just because we make the statement does not mean that we think it is a permanent condition. We do ourselves no good to say”women are empowered in society.” That is wholly inaccurate and does not describe women’s situation.

    “Analysis and fighting patriarchal oppression is something I strongly advocate for and believe in.”

    But wait, just a minute ago you said that when we can’t say women are oppressed b/c that’s victimizing to women and so we can’t say that. You also said both men and women are oppressed…which contradicts this statement here where you’re saying you advocate fighting patriarchy. Patriarchy is about male dominance, not female dominance. You can’t have it both ways.

    “There also has to be recognition that ends don’t justify the means when the actions of the oppressor are replicated.”

    Very few feminists use patriarchal methods in their activism. If you expect feminists to agree with you and praise your politics no matter what they are, it won’t happen. Feminism is not”anything goes.” Feminism is a political commitment to ending all forms of oppression. If feminists simply validated what every woman said, no matter what, nothing would ever change. The kind of feminism you’re looking for doesn’t exist. What you’re looking for is for things to stay as they are and for nobody’s beliefs to be challenged and nobody’s feelings hurt. That has to happen for political change to occur.

    “It is also essential that radical feminism not make all women victims of patriarchal oppression or collaborators with it.”

    Again, you’re dismissing the basic tenet of feminism which is….WOMEN ARE OPPRESSED AS WOMEN.

    “This is far too polarized with too much conflation of terms defining victims and far too much emphasis on labeling those outside radical feminism as supportive of sexist, racist, patriarchal oppressions.”

    What you mean is…this is too upsetting for those in power to hear and let’s not make them mad. Then how do you expect us to change anything????

    “Liberation of women doesn’t come from repressing dissidence within the women’s movement.”

    Liberation of women ALSO won’t come from accepting all viewpoints as equally valid.

    “Then the rhetoric and methodology needs to be toned down. Aggressive action begets aggressive action, hostility begets hostility.”

    I’m beginning to think that the aggression and hostility you’re talking about is not really violence or aggression at all. Just because feminists at various points in time didn’t agree with you and did not welcome you to speak at their conferences, doesn’t mean they were being aggressive and hostile.

    “Grounded in the experience of some sex workers and women and men in the industry. And failed to factor those that don’t support their argument.”

    Actually, whether women in the industry want to be there or not, 100% of them say they have been raped, harassed, coerced, and abused. This is what MacKinnon, Dworkin, and Russo have written about.

  26. radfeminist86 says:

    “The same could be said of much of the media showing violence, degradation, torture of anyone. But these mediums aren’t going to go away.”

    I agree that a lot of the violence we see in the media is a problem. But this is very different from pornography, where the violence and rape REALLY IS HAPPENING IN THE REAL WORLD. Using the slippery slope argument is philosophically weak and it’s not really a reason to NOT fight pornography.

    “We don’t ban Christianity because of Jim Jones. We educate and work to end abuses.”

    I’ve already explained several times that anti-pornography activists aren’t trying to BAN porn. They are trying to give women the choice to bring civil suits against their abusers. Right now, these women have nothing. Why do continue to bring up the issue of banning and censorship. That’s not part of this conversation.

    “You’re right that this is a serious social problem. I agree. But where I disagree is that this will ever go away.”

    Why are you so hopeless?? Why are you involved in social justice activism is you have this attitude?? Why are you wasting your time?? After all, according to you it’s not going to ever go away, no matter how hard we try.

    “But, I fail to see how sex worker rights activism is supposed to advance male abuse of women.”

    I don’t see how working for sex workers rights is harmful either. But you’ve made it clear, without any explanation, that you think being anti-porn and also pro-sex worker rights is mutually exclusive. Just b/c I’m against the industry, doesn’t mean I’m against the women abused by it. It doesn’t mean I don’t want these women to NOT have jobs. Of course I do. But by your logic, I can’t be anti-sweatshop or else I’m also against the people working in them. If there is a business that is only hiring Black people to clean its toilets, I can be opposed to the business but that doesn’t mean I’m also against the Black people being discriminated against. It makes absolutely no sense.

    “the sex workers are viewed as inherently collaborating with rapists by producing the porn unless they can prove without question they were coerced into producing the porn, and being blamed by feminism for male abuse of power which results in abuse of women.”

    Actually, as feminists, we try to understand the choices these women have made to participate in sexist work (of course we can’t really call those choices”free”).

    “But it isn’t watching the movies that inherently turns some into murderers or else we all would.”

    Of course not, it’s not that simple. But as sociologists have termed it, pornography is an”enabling condition”for violence against women. Pornography and violence in the media create an atmosphere where violence against women is more likely to occur.

    “If anything placing the blame on porn for rape and sexual harassment is giving excuse to rapists and sexual harassers to excuse their behavior. They learned it on television.”

    So what are you saying? That these men are just sick people with genetically”messed-up”minds? No, it’s called socialization. Men learn these attitudes and behaviors. So I guess all the Nazi soldiers were just hormonally imbalanced or genetically-predisposed to commit atrocities? I guess all the slaveowners in the antebellum south were just biologically messed-up?? OF COURSE NOT. These were people who learnes this attitudes and behaviors from the culture around them…from the attitudes they got from people around them.

    “The issue is about abuse of power.”

    You keep saying that, but you’ve yet to provide your analysis of where that comes from. Whose power? Why do they have that power? Where did it come from? How can we create an egalitarian society?

    “Choice is a diverse concept to address unless it is specifically forced trafficking.”

    You didn’t answer my question. Explain the diverse array of options open to women who have low self-esteem (partly as a result of childhood sexual abuse), have little money, have little education???? If you have 2 or 3 options available that will pay the bills and sex work seems the best option, this is NOT a free choice. And you haven’t addressed that.

    “Actually that is an interpretation of feminism. The actual definition of feminism is:”

    What dictionary did you get that from? Who writes the dictionary?

    “Disempowering sex worker rights only adds to oppression.”

    Feminists are not disempowering sex workers.

    “Yet sex workers are being held accountable as collaborating in violence against women despite the fact that the sex workers are themselves probably the most likely to be victimized and with the lowest amount of resources and recourse in the event of being victimized.”

    Working for the rights of sex workers is okay. But invoking”sex worker rights”as a way to support patriarchal capitalist industries is a problem.

    “I don’t care what motivated him to do it. Pornography, that his parents were poor parents, that he was varsity football player, whatever, all are irrelevant.”

    Then you apparently don’t care about analyzing the social world to see what contributes to oppression. That’s sad.

    “The backlash is that his attorney could very well use the radical feminist argument that porn made him do it to argue that he didn’t realize his actions were wrong. Which we both know would be a crock of shit but we have given him excuse to make someone else responsible for his actions when in fact he is responsible.”

    This is indeed a misuse of feminism. Fortunately, most juries and judges don’t buy arguments like that. But no feminist I know says that rapists and abusers should not be held accountable b/c they products of their social world. What feminists say is that while rapists and abusers are products of their social world, they should be held responsible for their actions. And at the same time, let’s examine what kinds of practices, industries, and cultural phenomena are contributing to and influencing the rape culture. What’s wrong with that???

    “What I am is a sex worker human rights advocate who believes the industry will always exist thus I seek reform as I don’t believe revolution is possible.”

    The industry heads are probably very supportive of the work that you do. Reform is not scary and it certainly does nothing to challenge hierarchy or inequality. An upgraded dungeon is still a dungeon. I don’t just want to make daily life a tiny bit better for these women. I believe that we can make major revolutionary changes in our world. I have not given up the dream that women, people of color, and the working class can be liberated and that we can one day have a world based on equality.

  27. xyzskybabe says:

    You didn’t answer my question. Explain the diverse array of options open to women who have low self-esteem (partly as a result of childhood sexual abuse), have little money, have little education???? If you have 2 or 3 options available that will pay the bills and sex work seems the best option, this is NOT a free choice. And you haven’t addressed that.

    I wish I had more time to answer this letter in full, but this will have to be a process. However, let me specifically answer this question. But let’s take this out of hypothetical and bring it to real world. This isn’t a hypothetical test question for me. This was reality. A time in my life where the choice came right down to survival and sex work being the only option. Was it a choice for me? No. But before you declare victory let’s go into a reality check. The radical feminist analysis of patriarchal oppression as linked to the sex industry did exactly what for me at that moment? So there were a bunch of radical feminist activists fighting the noble, great war against the oppression of women, against the sex industry. Did I need an explanation of my oppression at that time? No, I was perfectly aware of the exact meaning of oppression. It wasn’t dictionary, it wasn’t some theory defined by academia, it was absolute fact. Did anything radical feminist activists in their great war against patriarchal oppression via the sex industry mean anything to me or do anything for me when I was most oppressed? No. It did absolutely nothing. Would it have mattered if a radical feminist activist came to me then and told me they were fighting against the sex industry to free me? I would have responded that this radical feminist activist was completely out of touch with the real world because at that point in my life, I could not have cared less about some global fight, some ideological battle. My needs were entirely survival based.

    My choices were the sex industry and survive or not survive. End of story. So you can make your case of lack of choice but you haven’t in any of the kilobytes of text you’ve written given a single solution that would have done anything for me or anyone else at that moment when I most needed help. Please, don’t waste my time by telling me that I was a trafficking victim and that I could have gone to the police. And they could have sent me to human services. Because that is an out of touch with reality thought process. The police were not rescuers, not hero’s they were part of the clientele of the sex industry, the enforcers of oppression. I feared the police more than I feared pimps or clients.

    When life is down to survival needs, feminist analysis is worthless and the grand fight against oppression is an irrelevant and intangible concept that is nothing but a slap in the face.

    If I had no other choice, which I agree with you that I didn’t, what I needed was ways to be safe, activists that helped me be as safe as possible recognizing that I didn’t have other options. The fact that I am not HIV positive or carrying an STD is either sheer luck or some sort of blessing that I have no explanation for. But what I needed was basic safety information, basic safety supplies, and if I was to interact with feminists, I needed to interact with feminists that were in my situation at one time and knew what I was really facing, not some macro level analysis. Please explain to me how the analysis of Dworkin, Farley, Hughes or Raymond would have done a damn thing for me? Great I could learn to identify my oppression. I was a submissive escort that had an abusive pimp that knew damn well that society was not going to be supportive to my needs. Would my pimp have seen the error of his ways and ended his abuse because of feminist conscious raising? He would have laughed at the radical feminists and taunted me about where were my great feminist rescuers? Oh wait, all of you were fighting for social change, were not defeatist, not willing to reform because that was a gift to the pimp. All of which would have been filed in the waste of my time file. My needs were way more pragmatic.

    Even if radical feminists somehow got me out of that, which they didn’t. I didn’t need an academic lecture. That very academic, elitist attitude reinforced my isolation when I went for health care. What did the doctors and their lectures about prostitution mean to me? Nothing.

    And given that I was dealing with the oppression first hand. Did I need anyone who hadn’t experienced it telling me their view of my oppression? No. I didn’t. I could tell them what oppression was just by explaining my hunger, the pain I felt from what I received being a submissive. I didn’t need some pretentious pat on the shoulder telling me liberation was coming.

    What would have helped far more was support from an actual sex worker, a peer, someone who knew exactly what I was going through, someone who knew the verbiage, who knew the dangers, the risks and how to survive them, how to be safe and to live through it and move forward. Life was day to day, future social change was irrelevant. So please spare me the lecture on choice, and on the great fight against oppression. And how reform is a gift to those in power. Any reform that helped me at that time was better than what I had. Your distant revolutionary promises were nothing but white noise and fodder for adding to oppression. What, you figure my pimp was stupid? He wasn’t smart enough to see what radical feminists were claiming to do? Please,,,,

    An upgraded dungeon is still a dungeon. I don’t just want to make daily life a tiny bit better for these women. I believe that we can make major revolutionary changes in our world

    Well, that is impressive in theory. But when you are in the dungeon, any tiny changes that make life better make life better. Any incremental improvement today far outweighs the promise of your major revolutionary changes. It is wonderful that you are making choices for the women without choices that you feel revolution is more important than the minor changes that make their lives better today in that dungeon. Spend time in the dungeon and come back and tell me you still feel the focus should be revolution or that reform is a gift to the oppressor.

    What is radical feminism doing for the women with no choice today? And please do better than giving the vague statistics of the Bush/Hughes/Raymond war on the terror of trafficking. A few tokenized reports don’t equal success.

    Tell me how the women in a foreign country who’s aid agency could not meet the abolitionist pledge because getting the women out of the sex industry is implausible in their situation that lost the HIV program benefit from dying of AIDS? Great, you didn’t make their dungeon any better and didn’t collaborate with their oppressors focusing your efforts on the glorious victory in the end. I’m sure that is great comfort to the victim shut out from resources.

    Tell me how the runaway teen doing survival sex benefits not by having their basic conditions improved even if we all realize they are being exploited but at least they are safer until alternatives, real ones, not revolutionary promises can be developed, are better off by being told that their oppression is based on patriarchal supremacy. Their needs are immediate not some future grand illusion to replicate Lincoln Emancipation Proclamation and General Grant’s victory at Appomattox.

    I’m not defeatist. I’m a realist. I will gladly do whatever I can to make that dungeon a bit better rather than leave them in the dungeon telling them we aren’t going to give a reformist gift to their oppressor by improving their conditions with a patronizing pat on the shoulder saying we are fighting for them, keep your chin up, revolution is coming, soon you will be free. What if you are wrong and soon they aren’t free and instead they perish during your war of independence against the male oppression? Tell them their sacrifice was worth it.

    I can’t and won’t sign on to that.

    If you want to fight for your revolution that’s great. But you can’t leave people behind today and justify it as refusing to give gifts to the oppressors. If you believe doing that is social change and feminist, I would strongly advocate you take a very significant look at reality.

    Before you challenge me to answer your question you may want to consider that I can answer your question from first person, not from theory.

    Jill Brenneman

  28. xyzskybabe says:

    Radfem86 asks”What dictionary did you get that from? Who writes the dictionary”?

    Jill writes: Here is the list of dictionaries. Plural. Who writes the dictionary? I don’t know. You tell me since you seem to know.
    feminism
    One entry found for feminism.

    Main Entry: fem•i•nism
    Pronunciation: ‘fe-m&-“ni-z&m
    Function: noun
    1 : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
    2 : organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests
    – fem•i•nist /-nist/ noun or adjective
    – fem•i•nis•tic /”fe-m&-‘nis-tik/ adjective
    Learn more about “feminism”

    Source above Miriam Webster Online Below, Dictionary.com

    Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) – Cite This Source
    fem•i•nism – Show Spelled Pronunciation[fem-uh-niz-uh m] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation
    –noun
    1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
    2. (sometimes initial capital letter ) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
    3. feminine character.
    ________________________________________
    [Origin: 1890–95;

  29. radfeminist86 says:

    Oh gosh and now feminists are being told their analysis and activist work against the sex industry and trafficking in women is pointless and does nothing to help women. Absolutely ridiculous! Feminists support women’s shelters, rape crisis centers, increasingly economic self-sufficiency, increased access to affordable healthcare, etc. We have a broad-based political movement and know the dangers of narrowing our focus to one or two things. So please don’t tell me that feminists aren’t helping real women. And the fact that real women are in dire crisis, needing shelter, money, food, and clothing…doesn’t mean we should stop our work fighting or transforming the very institutions that put them there in the first place. We can’t just respond to women in need and do nothing else. We have to work to make sure women aren’t ever forced into such dire circumstances in the first place.

    “I needed to interact with feminists that were in my situation at one time and knew what I was really facing, not some macro level analysis.”

    Apparently, women who’ve never worked in the sex industry have no business doing anti-porn activism. I guess women who’ve never been raped shouldn’t do anti-sexual assault work. I guess white people have no business doing anti-racist activism. Clearly, this logic makes no sense. One doesn’t have to be oppressed to be able to do helpful activism not does one necessarily have to be oppressed in order to have an analysis of that system of oppression.

    “And how reform is a gift to those in power. Any reform that helped me at that time was better than what I had. Your distant revolutionary promises were nothing but white noise and fodder for adding to oppression.”

    You misunderstand me. I don’t think reforms are a bad thing, in and of themselves. Clearly we can’t have a movement without making changes and adjustments in the system along the way. But reform can’t be the final goal. It cannot be the end of the fight. We’ll still be working under an oppressive situation, albeit somewhat better.

    “It is wonderful that you are making choices for the women without choices that you feel revolution is more important than the minor changes that make their lives better today in that dungeon. Spend time in the dungeon and come back and tell me you still feel the focus should be revolution or that reform is a gift to the oppressor.”

    Please re-read the sentence you are responding to…I said”JUST.” As I said above, I’m not against making improvements in the industry for those women most exploited in it, per se. But you seem to think that should be the final goal…that we should stop working to improve women’s lives once things get tolerable.

    You are trying to make me feel guilty for having a lofty goal for women. Am I supposed to feel bad for not being satisfied if women feel”just a little bit better”??? Excuse me for wanting women’s lives to be as fulfilling and free as they can be. It’s not enough that women are only being exploited 3 times a week instead of 10. Sure, it’s a great improvement, but I’m not going to stop working toward ending the exploitation all together, just cuz things got somewhat better.

  30. xyzskybabe says:

    “Feminists support women’s shelters, rape crisis centers, increasingly economic self-sufficiency, increased access to affordable healthcare, etc”

    Unless they are sex workers. A majority of battered women’s shelters don’t accept sex workers. Many rape crisis centers don’t work with sex workers or are lack training on working with sex workers. And under TVPRA, Trafficking Victim’s Protection Reauthorization Act, which is a radical feminist/Bush/religious right self described success story, they are violating their oath and thus risking their funding by working with those that aren’t leaving the sex industry. Which makes them less likely, not more likely to work with sex workers. So if the sex worker isn’t able to leave sex work or chooses not to, she is shut out in the event of assault, or rape.

    As an activist I have advocated since the beginning of my activism, regardless of position, that shelters and rape crisis programs being accessible and supportive of sex workers as they are to other women. This has not been an easy message to sell to many of the programs that you are describing as feminist supported and has been made more difficult for everyone involved by TVPRA.

    Where are the programs offering stigmatization free healthcare to sex workers? There is St. James Infirmary, but wait, they are considered to be a pro porn, pro prostitution organization. I’ve heard blistering radical feminist condemnation of St. James Infirmary. SWOP East has an intensive class for health workers, more than one actually, one trafficking specific, one sex worker specific, although the humanistic principles interchange, essentially same format different audience, on educating health care providers on offering stigmatization and judgment free services. Yet we are considered by radical feminists to be pro porn, pro prostitution.

    Of course by your definition I am not a feminist. Neither is SWOP East. Nor anyone that signed the Wheelock petition. Under the provisions of TVPRA, SWOP East in ineligible for funding because we are not willing to take the abolitionist oath and shut a significant portion of sex workers out services.

    When it applies to sex workers, radical feminists own”successes”often work against sex workers because of the”not wanting to improve the dungeon”radical feminist concept. Which seems to be a mantra of sorts because it is used by many radical feminist activists.

    “You are trying to make me feel guilty for having a lofty goal for women. Am I supposed to feel bad for not being satisfied if women feel”just a little bit better”???”

    Really? Perhaps you should ask me what I’m thinking rather than tell me. You asked me a question, even asked it a second time, I answered you from personal experience. I’m not trying to make you feel any particular way. You asked a question, I gave you an answer.

  31. xyzskybabe says:

    “Apparently, women who’ve never worked in the sex industry have no business doing anti-porn activism. I guess women who’ve never been raped shouldn’t do anti-sexual assault work. I guess white people have no business doing anti-racist activism. ”

    This whole argument was touched off by a petition stating sex worker rights activists and sex workers should be included in a conference on porn and it’s impact on society and radical feminist response stating we didn’t belong speaking at that conference. So…………………

    “Clearly, this logic makes no sense. One doesn’t have to be oppressed to be able to do helpful activism not does one necessarily have to be oppressed in order to have an analysis of that system of oppression.”

    You are exactly right. So we can agree the sex worker that is not being oppressed can do helpful activism? Therefore the exclusion of sex workers and sex worker rights activists should not have happened?

  32. radfeminist86 says:

    “There is St. James Infirmary, but wait, they are considered to be a pro porn, pro prostitution organization.”

    Well I doubt that the infirmary has published a statement explicitly saying they are pro-porn or pro-prostitution. But if the folks who work there support porn and prostitution, that is unfortunate that they are supporting the industry and human trafficking that is subordinating the very women they are treating. It is infuriating when we have organizations take contradictory political stands on issues. It’s like a rape crisis center giving out coupons for a nearby strip club. That said, I think feminists need to support the few organizations that are willing to provide care to women in these industries, without making them feel guilty. And if there are domestic violence centers or rape crisis centers who are refusing services to these women (I don’t know of any, but that doesn’t mean there are none who do this), that is unacceptable and needs to change.

    “on educating health care providers on offering stigmatization and judgment free services.”

    Well I think there is a difference in judging these women for the”choices”they made and denouncing the industry. I think it’s possible to have that position, and I’ve seen people take this position. Certainly, we shouldn’t refuse these women services nor should we lecture them condescendingly. I think perhaps it would be helpful to offer these women help in looking for work or suggesting other community resources for them. BUT, it would be dangerous to support and affirm the industries that traffic these very women.

    For example, I work at a domestic violence shelter and we certainly do not support the abusers that these women are with. But we also don’t lecture these women on what they should or should not do. Our position is that these women know their situation better than we do and it is empowering to give these women the choice to stay in their relationship if they want or to take steps to leave their abuser. It’s up to them and we are here to offer them resources, connections, and possibly some financial help. So in that sense, we are supportive of the women who are being abused, but we do not support abuser or the abusive behavior. Do you see the distinction? Similarly, I think we can support and empower women in porn, prostitution, etc. and also be against the industries they are in.

    “When it applies to sex workers, radical feminists own”successes”often work against sex workers because of the”not wanting to improve the dungeon”radical feminist concept. Which seems to be a mantra of sorts because it is used by many radical feminist activists.”

    I’ve already clarified this. Feminists are not against making reforms and improvements. We support them and work for them all the time. But most of us are against a political movement that is ONLY about minor reforms and changes. In other words, reforms are great…but we can’t stop there. We don’t see that as the end of the story. And I don’t think it’s fair for you to say that we don’t care about everyday women simply b/c we aren’t satisfied with minor improvement for them. If anything, I would interpret that as evidence that we care A LOT about women. A lot more than most people.

    “This whole argument was touched off by a petition stating sex worker rights activists and sex workers should be included in a conference on porn and it’s impact on society and radical feminist response stating we didn’t belong speaking at that conference.”

    I can’t imagine that the conference organizers would have refused to allow current and former prostitutes and folks in the porn industry JUST BECAUSE they were in the industry. That doesn’t make any sense. I can understand them not welcoming you to the conference if they knew you were pro-porn and would be speaking in support of the industry at the conference. That would be counterproductive to the entire goal of the conference which was to rethink the ways we can fight against an oppressive industry. If I were organizing an anti-racism workshop, I would never invite or welcome Clarence Thomas or Ward Connerly to the conference. Yes they both experience racism in our society, but they also have said publicly that Black people are lazy and that racism isn’t a problem anymore. Why should I invite somebody like that to my conference? And by not inviting them, that doesn’t mean I’m denying them rights or that I’m not supportive of Black people.

    “So we can agree the sex worker that is not being oppressed can do helpful activism?”

    Well I disagree that there are women in the porn industry and prostitution who are not oppressed. Women are oppressed as women. Every woman faces sexism, albeit in different ways and to different extents.

  33. xyzskybabe says:

    Radfem86 excerpts iin quotes

    “Well I doubt that the infirmary has published a statement explicitly saying they are pro-porn or pro-prostitution.”

    I doubt they have published a statement of that nature too. Term pro porn, pro prostitution are rad fem jargon. Nothing more. Jargon such as pro prostitution, pro porn are nothing but to label and define all the enemies of radical feminism. The terminology pro porn/pro prostitution is just a simplistic misrepresentation to put the world in monochrome good vs. evil terms. Life a James Bond movie with heroic good guys that do no wrong vs. a vast array of larger than life villains out to just do evil. They are terms that are just lazy ways to make noise, create false perception of good vs. evil and label anyone deemed unworthy by radical feminism as part of a huge system of evil.

    I have to admit finding being labeled pro porn/pro prostitution amusing because it is a total misrepresentation and a transparent effort by those using it to bolster a weak argument through trying to discredit someone, some agency, some movement, by trying to create a false image that the alleged guilty party is part of some evil entity. It all reminds me of The Crucible.

    “But if the folks who work there support porn and prostitution, that is unfortunate that they are supporting the industry and human trafficking that is subordinating the very women they are treating.”

    This is sideways argument. It is akin to saying it is unfortunate that the emergency room that treats the battered woman who returns to her husband is subordinating the woman they are treating or that the pharmacist filling the pain killer prescription for the battered woman is simply narcotizing the pain making it easy for the abuser to believe he hasn’t caused her harm because she appears in less or no pain from the wounds. The doctor or pharmacist aren’t subordinating the woman they are providing needed health care realistic to the fact that it is what the woman needs. If the battered woman refuses to report her batterer, thus the health care provider can’t officially report to law enforcement who has harmed her, yet they still provide treatment and release her from the hospital even to her abuser, the health care providers isn’t subordinating her. The health care provider are doing what is necessary and in her best interest.

    Certainly everyone would advocate that the battered woman be given every tool to protect herself from future abuse, to remove the stigmatization she faces, to remove barriers that would make her prone to discrimination, make it possible for her to report her batterer and expect cooperation from law enforcement, to have a movement that fights for zero tolerance of violence, of coercion, of exploitation, but yet still respect her choices. Because she stays in the relationship doesn’t mean she is vicariously harming all other women but perpetuating to men that they can batter without consequence. The battered woman is making choices related to her life, to her world, to her individual circumstance. There isn’t any vast conspiracy between her and the health care providers to oppress anyone. It is the semantics of the world.

    Certainly there is plenty of need for activists to point out the oppression in the scenario, to fight the oppression in the scenario above, but that fight can’t make villains out of the battered woman or the health care providers or making them some sort of collaborators with evil. The same logic has to apply to sex workers and those that provide services to them, to those that advocate sex worker rights. They aren’t enemies, they are part of a process of positive social change.

    The health care provider isn’t pro-domestic violence. Neither is the woman seeking the health care even if she returns to the same situation. Jargon like pro prostitution/pro porn, especially how you are framing it serves no purpose.

    “It is infuriating when we have organizations take contradictory political stands on issues.”

    Well, I agree with that although not as you represent it. A contradictory political stand is alleging to respect sex worker rights to be free from violence, from denial of services, meanwhile casting both the sex worker and the sex worker’s resources as aligned with some perceived enemy. It is contradictory to claim to respect someone’s rights than immediately also name them as accused in the subordination of women. Your argument is contradictory.

    “It’s like a rape crisis center giving out coupons for a nearby strip club.”

    No it isn’t. It is like a rape crisis center providing services as they are needed and not placing themselves above the victim or her respective situation. It is like the rape crisis center allowing the woman to be the expert in her own life rather than condescendingly assuming it knows her life better than she does. A client sided service provider isn’t a collaboration with evil. If the rape crisis center has an education program about oppression, if it fights for rights of the oppressed, if it points out the oppression great. As long as that is part of it’s educational outreach. Which is what the sex worker rights movement is doing. Letting the sex worker be the expert in her life and empowering her rights to fight and eliminate oppression and exploitation in her life. The goal is to improve lives, not make false assumptions about expertise in her life.

    There is also a question of ethics when a victim of oppression, of exploitation, of marginalization is suddenly being thrust into some responsibility to have her victimization be part of the fight against social injustice. Why is a sex worker expected to be part of a feminist war on oppression and guilty if she or the agency that works with her respects where she is at and lets her be the expert in her life? Perhaps the sex worker is only looking to better her life and not save the world. She has that right. Just as the rape victim has the right to better her life from her definition and not be part of the vast overall fight for social change unless she wishes to be that.

    Double standard seems to exist when it comes to sex workers. Positive social change comes about as lives improve. Social change isn’t a war, it isn’t a game which has a set conclusion or assigned roles for the player.

  34. xyzskybabe says:

    “I can’t imagine that the conference organizers would have refused to allow current and former prostitutes and folks in the porn industry JUST BECAUSE they were in the industry.”

    No, they probably wouldn’t exclude someone who was in the sex industry. As long as that someone spoke from the”correct”perspective. A token sex worker victim from the sex industry that speaks the right words is an asset to conferences taking the radical feminist position. Anyone who was a former sex worker who couldn’t be counted on to deliver the radical feminist message would be extremely unlikely to be invited. Or they would be told in advance what could and could not be said. And let’s be clear, this isn’t conjecture, this is reality. I was part of this movement, spoke at the radical feminist conferences, know the politics, the players, and know first hand who gets invited and if someone is considered a potential loose canon they are clearly instructed ahead of time about what can and can not be said, with a moderator ready to pull the plug for transgressions. This happened to me more than once, this happened to others in my presence. Including conferences with speakers from the Wheelock conference. Allowing a former sex worker to speak if she or he presents from the pre ordained position isn’t equivalent to the sex worker speaking from their own perspective. We can go right back to the OJJDP conference fiasco in December 2002 at the Omni Shoreham in DC as an exact example. Two speakers, both former sex workers, were censored. One ahead of time because that former sex worker was considered a potential loose cannon, the second one who caught the organizers by surprise by using the term harm reduction and quickly and publicly was corrected and told the correct term was”safety net”by the moderator. Not harm reduction. This kind of event is ubiquitous at radical feminist based conferences that invite former sex workers. Tow the line or you will be shut off. No, I wasn’t a speaker in this DC conference, it was two others. One a strong believer in radical feminism who was not expected to dare utter the term harm reduction and found herself quickly shut down, chastised in front of her audience and invalidated. This was classic for me as I developed as an activist, being told ahead of time what to say, how to say it, what terms I shouldn’t use because they were terms of the”oppressor”, and grew exponentially when I certified as a harm reduction based sexual assault crisis counselor and had that perspective to add to my own experiences.

    A current sex worker being allowed to speak at a radical feminist conference? Without moderation? I’m skeptical.

    “That doesn’t make any sense. I can understand them not welcoming you to the conference if they knew you were pro-porn and would be speaking in support of the industry at the conference.”

    This is radical feminist liberation from oppression? What kind of liberation from oppression is blatant censorship, invalidation of someone’s experience because it doesn’t fit the narrow definition of feminism as defined by the radical feminist gurus? Again, with the pro porn jargon that is nothing but a red herring. Who said a sex worker rights speaker that was a current or former sex worker would be speaking in support of the sex industry? I haven’t ever given a speech in support of the sex industry. I’ve done what I have always done, advocated justice, social services, respect, ending discrimination and exploitation of sex workers, fought myths about sex workers and spoken from first person as someone who was there, in the sex industry. I’ve opened and closed virtually every presentation by making it clear that I was there not to tell anyone their perspective was wrong or that I had the answers that made me an expert in their lives or that I had definitions of what was right or wrong. I had and have my perspective and was sharing that perspective for anyone in the audience to take how they chose and use in whatever way fit their life. I am not the expert in anyone’s life but my own, thus I am not going to tell someone that I am there to make choices about their viewpoints. What changed is I got fed up with rhetoric, the blatant radical feminist need for control, the assumption that radical feminism was the only truth and that all others were collaborating with the enemy, which they aren’t. I found humanistic perspectives to make far more sense and found that I could speak at sex worker rights and harm reduction conferences uncensored, un-moderated and have my experiences and my opinion respected even if there was disagreement. I haven’t ever been given a list of correct verbiage or acceptable verbiage at a harm reduction or sex worker rights conference that I spoke at. And given that a significant portion of my sex work experience was non consensual, exploitative and harmful to me, I have still been respected for bringing out the risks that all sex workers face from being marginalized, and having their efforts to gain rights against coercion, to be respected in their rights to say no, to having their boundaries respected, even though my point of view didn’t always cast a positive spin on the sex industry. But let’s be clear, not all of my sex industry experiences were alike. Not all were non consensual, not all were ones that I was harmed in or exploited in. But unlike the radical feminist conferences, the harm reduction and sex worker rights activists and conferences had no problem with me making the distinction. So this pro porn/pro prostitution line you keep pitching. You’re throwing foul balls. One doesn’t have to be this alleged pro prostitution pro porn activist to speak outside radical feminism, but one sure as hell better be radical feminist to speak at the radical feminist conference.

    This is first person reality for me and for many others. Thus why so many others are no longer activists. And without question the entire movement lost by losing many of the activists that are no longer active over radical feminist politics. As did those that would have continued to benefit from their perspectives. Most of these were radical feminist activists only they were also service providers and interacted with sex workers not as researcher or book publisher to sex worker, but as advocate counselors. Please, RF86, I absolutely encourage you to take your strident radical feminist message to a homeless shelter for prostitutes in December in Minneapolis, when they are allowed in the shelter only from 7pm to 7am, are homeless, and are doing sex work to survive and present to them your message about macro level oppression and how the shelter that is keeping them warm in the brutal Minneapolis winter is subverting the very women you are speaking to. Have you ever worked outside in December as a sex worker in a northern city? I have. Those providing safe warm places regardless of whether I was a sex worker were not subverting anything. They were saving me from brutal cold, frostbite, and offering me warm coffee knowing full well that I was going to go back out on the street. Again, I didn’t need marco level analysis of my oppression, I understood it first person. I also didn’t need someone telling the people providing me with the warm shelter or the coffee that they were subverting my freedom.

    There is a world of difference between ideology in the conference room, classroom and the feminist books and reality. Spend a night in Minneapolis, Boston, Providence, New York, DC, any cold city in December as a sex worker and then come back and tell me about subversion via shelter. No one was helping Larry Flynt by giving me warmth, coffee, cookies or judgment free acceptance.

    Tell me how to tell the women that are staying up to hear my speak rather than sleeping on the mattress on the floor knowing they have to be out at 7 AM that I am there to talk about macro level oppression from the Dworkin/McKinnon/Farley/Hughes perspective. I would have had that audience for five minutes and been told I was an elitist white chick with no knowledge of the real world. Only I was just like the women that I later was asked to speak to. I knew damn well how cold it was for them and what they were facing. My speech was about honoring their survival, their ability to survive such a harsh reality and that they were brave as hell for getting up every day and continuing to live. And that I knew from first person just how difficult it was. Forget analysis. Forget judging the shelter providers. Respect of my position came because I had been there, understood and honored and validated their survival regardless of what they had to do to survive, with no lectures of feminism or what they should do. And certainly not making them pro porn or pro prostitution.

    Perhaps this is coming off as harsh, but you leave me little choice but to bring this to first person reality because you keep playing the same rhetorical hand from the rad fem gospels as if they are the only feminism, the only method of fighting oppression. It seems your radical feminists heroines haven’t told you the whole truth but only their line of rhetoric for you to repeat. Who is being exploited? Who is being subverted?

    “That would be counterproductive to the entire goal of the conference which was to rethink the ways we can fight against an oppressive industry”

    Yeah, it’s counter productive to have a conference on porn and its impact on society, on women and on sex workers from someone with a different perspective. Can’t have an alternative opinion even if it is based in first person and constructive social change based from the very women who have been inside the sex industry because it might contradict the edicts from academia.

    .”If I were organizing an anti-racism workshop, I would never invite or welcome Clarence Thomas or Ward Connerly to the conference.”

    Neither would I. But that has nothing to do with this. There is no correlation and the continuing effort to link sexual harassers and racists to sex workers and sex worker rights activists is discrediting to your argument. Who are you trying to reach with this? Do you really think this kind of faux affiliation is going to cause sex workers to suddenly leave the industry? Or the men hiring the sex workers to stop hiring them? Or the social conditions to change? Who is selling you this correlation of egregious examples of misogyny and racism being related to inviting a sex worker rights activist? You seriously may want to stop playing this hand. It only illustrates the absolute weakness of your argument and further drives all but your radical feminist believers from your message. If you are preaching to the choir, great. You are succeeding.

    You leave me no choice but to work from first person reality. Your clichés get old, your attempt to cast me as a collaborator with Flynt, Hefner, racists and misogynists is just spin doctoring and factual misrepresentation. If you want to take on the cause of being the rad fem spokesperson you might want to consider that some of us have seen the other side that you are so proud to advocate for, to repeat the mantras for. This isn’t theoretical for me. It is real world and after pages of your condescending responses that attempt to link me to siding with oppressors, misogynists and racists in blatantly inaccurate terms, you need to do your homework on who you are dealing with because I am not some first year women’s studies undergrad that you can throw the manifesto in front of and expect me to accept my role as student. I’m not.

  35. I appreciate the value of a balanced debate. The Wheelock conference is an attempt to balance a debate that has become grossly one-sided in the academy and elsewhere. It’s the first anti-porn conference of its kind in over a decade.

    It is not necessary to defend porn in order to make space for more egalitarian eroticism. The NoPornNorthampton.org FAQ explores these issues in detail. Abuse is abuse and should be criticized, whether or not a camera is present.

    I appreciate that it is possible some women might freely choose “sex work”, but the very term implies that most “sex workers” consent. I find this counter-evidence more compelling…

    Pornography Trains and Indoctrinates Prostitutes
    http://nopornnorthampton.org/2006/10/20/pornography-and-prostitution.aspx

    In a study of 475 people in prostitution (including women, men, and the transgendered) from five countries (South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, USA, and Zambia)…92% stated that they wanted to escape prostitution immediately…

    Giobbe, a former prostitute turned activist who testified before the Meese Commission as a survivor of commercial exploitation, is active in anti-porn legislation. She says she comes at her beliefs “personally, politically and theoretically. (Pornography) is something that hurts women,” she says. “It hurts your dignity. It hurts your health. It hurts your mind, spirit and body. These premises came from the lived experiences of women like myself. These women aren’t finding this particularly empowering.”

    A Review of Christine Stark, “Girls to boyz: Sex radical women promoting pornography and prostitution”
    http://nopornnorthampton.org/2006/10/15/a-review-of-christine-stark-girls-to-boyz-sex-radical-women-promoting-pornography-and-prostitution.aspx

    According to Stark’s own research on Nevada’s legalized brothels, the owners routinely groom underage runaways to enter prostitution when they turn 18, then virtually imprison them in the houses, with no money and no way to communicate privately with the outside world (pp.283-85)…

    Stark suggests that misogynist porn appeals to lesbians because it lets them escape their feelings of vulnerability as women and sexual minorities, and identify with the powerful oppressors. This is not a new, radical vision of sex and society–it’s an unhealthy coping mechanism that leaves the power structure intact. (p.289) Meanwhile, potential abusers take women’s acceptance of rape and incest fantasies as proof that sexual violence is natural, consensual or even invited by the victims.

  36. xyzskybabe says:

    Nopornnorthhampton,,

    I recognize that you may not know her history and thus may not realize that Evelina Giobbe is probably a very poor example to quote. Evelina’s program WHISPER folded because of her actions. Actions that if taken by a male would have caused huge feminst outcry but because Evelina is female and radical feminist brought virtually no response except from her victim who tried very hard to warn others about Evelina. Court documents are public record. I”ve read them cover to cover more than once. Evelina Giobbe is no hero to prostituted women, sex workers or anyone defining themselves anyplace in between. If one believes the victims of Clarence Thomas and Evelina Giobbe, which I believe both of them, than neither of them have anything to offer feminism or women. They are both people to be very wary of. Evelina Giobbe’s actions against Kelly Holsopple completely eliminated any credibility she has. Her actions far outweigh any of the words that she has professed as feminist.

    So please note, my post isn’t an attempt to criticize your views. But to at least make note that you take into account Evelina’s past actions.

    I’m a decriminalization advocate not a legalization advocate. I’m not a fan of or advocate for the legalized Nevada brothel system. There is a vast difference between decrim and legalization. I don’t see the Nevada brothels as an advancement in sex worker rights. Perhaps the only advantage is that they don’t have to fear arrest for prostitution charges. My sex worker rights activism and position is not one that has any intent to advocate for the Nevada system. There are far better alternatives in terms of advancing sex worker rights than the Nevada legalized prostitution example.

  37. xyzskybabe says:

    Regarding Christine Stark, so there is no question,

    This is the only comment I am going to make about Christine or her work. While I may disagree with Chris on many political issues, I respect her dedication to working toward constructive social change. She is doing what she believes is best just as I am. I wish Christine well and hope her present and future endeavors bring her happiness and fulfillment.

  38. Pingback: Being Amber Rhea » Blog Archive » A job like any other job?

Comments are closed.