Monday, March 1, 2010

Question: When Catharine A. MacKinnon speaks truth to power, what do dick-whipped white het men in power call the reality she addresses?



Answer: Dick-whipped white het men don't deal with the realities feminists describe.

Question: Why don't they deal with reality?

Answer: Because they're too busy misunderstanding and misquoting radical feminists, and they're too busy benefiting from the privileges and rights, entitlements and lack of stigma that they enjoy. Including the right and entitlements to systematically misquote and misrepresent people who aren't white het men. On their own websites, they get to be racist, homophobic, misogynist jerks who don't get called out for behaving this way by other WHM. Because they're so dick-whipped, they can't speak against each other! They're "victimised" all right: by each other. That's why you never see them call each other out publicly on the fucked up CRAP they do. Misogyny, racism, and homophobia are all big jokes to these boys. That's why they're so often seen as nothing more than an internet joke.

And a key entitlement is that they get to see and name reality as they wish. They don't know they're dick-whipped, or how controlled by other het white men they are. So when feminists critique THEM, and their privileges to do this, those boys ain't happy campers. They get irritable and moody. Sometimes they threaten the lives of those who criticise them. THAT'S how unstable, irritable, and moody they are. The life of the most privileged people on Earth isn't easy: they have to contend with all those people they oppress speaking truth to power.

Question: Why don't white het men organise against sexual trafficking? 

Answer: They're too busy protecting the rights of other white het men to stick their dicks in children and enslaved women around the world.


To read about sex tourism and human trafficking in San Diego, please see this article, *here*:


51 comments:

DanceDreaming said...

Such a controversial issue. And far more complicated then either side presents it. Sexual trafficking is a terrible thing. More effort needs to be put into shutting it down, specifically targeting the traffickers(who are rarely, if ever, brought to justice). And the penalties need to be raised, severely. At current, if it is proven that trafficking crossed state or international lines, the penalties can be as high as 20 years. Otherwise the penalty is more often a maximum of 5 years. These are ridiculous, as are the numbers of men actually caught.

However, I feel that the illegality of prostitution as a whole hurts efforts to fight this crime. As the whole industry is cloaked in shadows and facts are hard to filter from fiction, the real criminals are almost never caught. And the women are often victimized twice. First by the criminals, second by the law.

The illegality itself is also a violation of liberty, and hurts those who, for whatever reason, consensually engage in sex for money. And I find the notion that no woman 'chooses' this activity, due to the forces at work in misogynist society, to be a misogynistic notion itself. And have far too much in common with anti-choice rhetoric for my taste.

Sexuality needs to come out of the shadows. As long as the sex trade is relegated to the black market, it will follow black market rules. And the women in it will suffer greater indignities. It needs to be legalized. What a woman does with her body is her choice. You may not like it, but it is still her choice.

Opening up information to women, aiding women in feeding their families, and going to college. And granting automatic amnesty to women who have been brought here as slaves. These are the things that will help against this problem. New laws to push the trade further into the shadows? Will only give the abusers more power.

I don't know whether switching the culpability from the seller to the buyer would slow the sex trade. Likely it would, and it would certainly be less directly vile a practice then the one we have now. But it won't stop it, and it's inherently unethical.

Paying for sex with a minor is criminal, and should be prosecuted. Paying for sex from a slave is criminal, and should be prosecuted. Paying for sex from a free adult, though morally objectionable, should not be illegal. And saying that no woman in the sex trade is 'free' is robbing women of their agency to do what the choose with their own body.

Sorry if this rant seems an attack, it's not. Just a rant. Keep up the good work.

Julian Real said...

Hi and welcome, DanceDreaming.

I took your comment neither as a rant nor as an attack.

I think you and I are basically in agreement.

This is what I heard in the writing in this post, which sounds similar to what you are saying. I'll clarify something about my own position in a moment.

Here's a bit from what's above in the post:

Following the lead of Sweden’s progressive 1999 legislation, increased penalties for customers has shown great promise in reducing the instances of sexual exploitation. Since the enactment of the 1999 law, which punishes solely the customers and then delivers the prostitutes or trafficked individuals into a safe-home or rehabilitation program, Sweden has reported an astonishing 75 to 80 percent decrease in customers and a 30 to 50 percent decrease in the number of prostituted women. The powerful success of this program has interested many countries and, according to MacKinnon, may even be shifting the way Britain approaches the issue.

Approaching human trafficking from an aware and compassionate perspective may be the only way we can bring restoration to this evil in the United States and in San Diego. Sweden’s success shines through as hope in light of the ever powerful and profitable industry that lurks in the shadows or our social consciousness.


I support legal approaches that decriminalise being a prostitute. No prostitute, in my view, should be arrested for being sexually bought/rented/used.

I accept that women choose things, including prostitution, in some instances. My issue is not with women who chose to be prostitutes, my issue is with the social/political/economic condtions that make such as choice the best one available. My issue is not with what women in systems of prostitution do. It's with what pimps and procurers do.

It's not for me, or any man, to tell women what they are doing is right or wrong, unless it's white women being racist, or het women being homophobic, or non-Jewish white women being anti-Semitic.

I support intensifying the effort to stop procurers and pimps, by any means necessary.

I support women in systems of prostitution doing whatever occurs to them to do to support one another. I'm not in those systems, and am ignorant about the many, many issues that surround that reality--those realities.

And I deeply appreciate your comment. :)

DanceDreaming said...

I do agree that the social, political, and economic landscape needs some serious tending. I tend towards socialist ideals, personally. A landscape that makes prostitution the best option for so many, and yet still such a bad option, needs some serious work. Yet I have to say, from my own point of view, the same could be said for working at a fast-food establishment. As someone who has done each, I find the latter more distasteful.

I've always felt that sex work is broken because of misogyny, not that misogyny exists or is fueled by sex work. And that there would still be a place for such activity in a potential post-sexist world. So Mackinnon(and Sweden)'s idea of switching the punishment onto the clients seems flawed to me. It still relegates the trade to the shadows. The main focus of my commentary really has been at MackKinnon, because I disagree with her methodology.

Granted, it's far better then the incredibly insane laws we have now. Laws that are spoken of as protecting women, that in truth cause only harm. But I still think such laws are wrong.

Simply legalizing would still be problematic. There would still be coercion, manipulation, slavery. If for no other reason then the reason men and women are trafficked for other, legal trades. Smuggled non-citizens, with few rights, in fear of US authority and controlled by criminals, are cheap. They are available for whatever they do(be it labor or sex), for a low rate. So the demand for sexual slaves would still exist.

There are ways to cut this down that do not involve the law in consensual actions. Including: automatic(or at least easy) amnesty for trafficked women. Higher penalty for trafficking. Legality itself would create room for one thing: if sex workers could network, unionize and create a legal sisterhood, they(we?) could help pull victims away from procurers and pimps.

A standing difficulty is that when trafficked women are brought in, they are loath to talk. And they very rarely come in on their own. Many are more afraid of the law then they are of their abusers. The law is the enemy. And even if the law was flipped, people here illegally, who still wish to be here just not as slaves, will still not come forward.

Shrug. Now I'm just rambling. Some point here, I'll start my own blog. I only jumped in because MacKinnon's(and to a lesser degree, your) terminology is cringe-worthy to me. Referring to all women who engage in sex for money as 'prostituted' women. Referring to people being sexually bought/rented/used. These terms do fit for those who are forced, those who are slaves. But from everything I can tell, the -vast- majority of women in the sex trade do so with some personal autonomy.

Granted, the options available are generally very sparse. It's the best of a very bad situation. When a woman chooses to have sex for money to feed her children, the actual options are slim. And societal influences are strong here. This doesn't occur in a vacuum, it occurs in a circumstance of women being 'valued' for sexuality at the expense of other things.

And it is true that prostitution, along with pornography, do hurt feminism. These things do encourage the sexualizing and objectification of women. It's all very complicated. I think I'm done now.

Julian Real said...

Hi DanceDreaming,

I love the "I think I'm done now". Whether I state it or not, that's so often how I feel after leaving comments places!! ;)

I'll try to clarify the positions of this blog, er, me! So that we can agree to disagree, where that's indeed the case.

I do agree that the social, political, and economic landscape needs some serious tending. I tend towards socialist ideals, personally.

I think civilisation must end, sooner than later. There's no room in my vision, and in the vision of the Indiginist activists and other activists I find myself most in sync with, for money economies, for cities, for unsustainable living.

That, in a nutshell, is "civilisation" as Derrick Jensen defines the term.

That's what I'm against, and the fact that I'm against civilisation existing doesn't really mean much. Civilisation has the upper hand over my blog!! lol

Civilisation isn't going anywhere in my lifetime, unless I miraculously live for a thousand years, when the Earth has decided it has had enough of civilisation and stops it all, one way or another--by overheated it or by freezing it out.

So any notion that society is basically okay, but could be better/more humane, to me, ignored the reality of lives both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, human and non-human. That species are disappearing daily is an emergency to me, not something that's a little bit off and in need of tweaking.

That women are perpetually used and abused by men is also not something that implies, to me, that patriarchal societies just need a bit of modification. They need to be gone, history, done.

That's my view and the view of this blog. I know most people don't like what I say, and that's fine with me. I'm not here to please people. I'm here to express a minority viewpoint that supports radical activism.

That's the function of this blog.

I don't want to make or advocate for "a less genocidal capitalism", "a less misogynist socialism", or "a less racist liberal society". Fuck 'em all, as they fuck over people every day--the people who don't have access to dominant media to let most people know what's going down. Just read regularly at Censored News (linked to from this blog) and you'll get a sense of what I'm speaking about.

So, this blog exists to say "Fuck you to capitalism", "Fuck you to white supremacy", "Fuck you to male supremacy" and all the systems and institutions which keep them going.

That doesn't mean I despise people living in those systems, unless they are willfully and with significant power, supporting and enforcing those systems exploitation, harm, and death.

Julian Real said...

A landscape that makes prostitution the best option for so many, and yet still such a bad option, needs some serious work.

That landscape, in my little, wee, blogger's view, MUST BE destroyed completely, or allowed to return to the sustainable ecosystem it once was.

Yet I have to say, from my own point of view, the same could be said for working at a fast-food establishment. As someone who has done each, I find the latter more distasteful.

This blog promotes and supports the end of McDonalds, factory farming, agribusiness, cereal grains offered up as "good food for humans", etc. See Lierre Keith's book "The Vegetarian Myth" for more. Or Derrick Jensen's work.

I've always felt that sex work is broken because of misogyny, not that misogyny exists or is fueled by sex work.

I don't think of the relationship between stripping, massage parlors, street prostitution and pimping, sex trafficking, and sexual slavery to fit the way you describe it. For me, it is all mutually reinforcing.

Heterosexism, homophobia, and all institutions and practices that create an idea, acted out with violence, that heterosexuality is "Good" and everything else is "Evil" is fucked up to the core, for me.

So a heterosexist film industry, dominant news media, and customs fuel heterosexism; heterosexism is maintained and shaped by those and other industries, businesses, social practices, habits, customs, and ways of being. There's no "linear" relationship, for me. One thing doesn't exactly "cause" the other. They are all part of one another, intricately and intrinsically. That's the view of this blog. And I'm sticking to it.


And that there would still be a place for such activity in a potential post-sexist world.

That's a hypothetical I'm not willing to engage with. When we get there, let's see.

So Mackinnon(and Sweden)'s idea of switching the punishment onto the clients seems flawed to me. It still relegates the trade to the shadows.

That's not my understanding of what it does. I think it shines a spotlight on the perps: the abusive procurers and pimps. And that's fine with me. If you are telling me that not all procurers and pimps are perps, that's not for me to challenge. That's your experience.

I'm talking about the perps: the men who think it is their right and entitlement to use and abuse women, "sexually", 24/7.

Julian Real said...

The main focus of my commentary really has been at MackKinnon, because I disagree with her methodology.

And you get to be, of course. I support her work as long as it is grounded in the experiences and activism of prostitutes and other women who are exploited, abused, and trafficked by men sexually.

If you are telling me you were not exploited by men when you worked as a prostitute, then that's your experience. I know women who were harmed, very much, while working as prostitutes, and they couldn't let themselves know it for years, until decades later after getting out, because they had to tell themselves "it's okay" while doing it, in order to do it. And none of them would say flipping burgers is "worse" than having a man cum on their faces. Not one of them.

Granted, it's far better then the incredibly insane laws we have now. Laws that are spoken of as protecting women, that in truth cause only harm. But I still think such laws are wrong.

I agree that the legal system is fucked up, irreparably. And in this sense, I don't think laws will ultimately solve the problem, but if Sweden's law makes the problem of procurement more visible, and makes procurement an illegal/criminal activity, no matter where Swedish men engage in it, that's something I support. BUT my support doesn't really mean much. I write a blog. I don't work in law enforcement and am not part of "the system" as a judge or lawyer. So my support really means very little, I think. It's an opinion--one that is stated in a public venue that is read by a few hundred people a week.

Simply legalizing would still be problematic.

I accept Ruchira Gupta's (of Apne Aap) reasoning on what legalisation is a terrible idea.

Julian Real said...

There would still be coercion, manipulation, slavery. If for no other reason then the reason men and women are trafficked for other, legal trades.

I'd say they'd still exist because coercion, manipulation, force, and slavery are "sexually arousing" for a lot of men who think that what arouses them needs to be enacted against other people.

Smuggled non-citizens, with few rights, in fear of US authority and controlled by criminals, are cheap. They are available for whatever they do(be it labor or sex), for a low rate. So the demand for sexual slaves would still exist.

I agree with you.

There are ways to cut this down that do not involve the law in consensual actions.

I don't see most actions, inside or outside systems of prostitution, as meaningfully consensual, so that may be one other place of significant disagreement.

I think "consent" is a manufactured, manipulated idea more than a reality in racist capitalist patriarchies.

Including: automatic(or at least easy) amnesty for trafficked women.

Yes. I agree!

Higher penalty for trafficking.

I agree with that as well.

Legality itself would create room for one thing: if sex workers could network, unionize and create a legal sisterhood, they(we?) could help pull victims away from procurers and pimps.

Why wouldn't "decriminalisation" allow for that? Not legalisation, but decriminalisation?

A standing difficulty is that when trafficked women are brought in, they are loath to talk. And they very rarely come in on their own. Many are more afraid of the law then they are of their abusers.

Which is not to say the law is more abusive. "The law" doesn't mass murder women. Pimps and procurers do. But the law is not friendly to any women or any person of color, if the law is white male supremacist, which most but not all laws I know of are.

The law is the enemy.

I'd say Civil Rights Laws, and Human Rights Laws, if enforced, are not the enemy. How about you? What is your opinion on that?

And even if the law was flipped, people here illegally, who still wish to be here just not as slaves, will still not come forward.

That's a complex matter, in my view. Because it's a lot to do with immigration law, as well as trafficking laws. And also sexism, heterosexism, and racism, and xenophobia in the U.S.

Shrug. Now I'm just rambling. Some point here, I'll start my own blog.

I hope you do! And please let me know the name of it once it is up! You clearly have a voice and that voice should be made central rather than just appear as comments on someone else's blog. (That's what led me to have a blog: I got tired of always being "in response" to someone else's posts!).

I only jumped in because MacKinnon's(and to a lesser degree, your) terminology is cringe-worthy to me.

Thanks for letting me know that!

Julian Real said...

Referring to all women who engage in sex for money as 'prostituted' women.

I don't tend to do that, but I do it on occasion. A very close friend of mine, who was a street prostitute (pimped) when a teenager, doesn't like the term "prostituted" either. And she's a radical feminist and has been an activist against the sexxxism industries. So given what you're telling me, I won't use it any more. Again, thanks.

Referring to people being sexually bought/rented/used. These terms do fit for those who are forced, those who are slaves.

I'm speaking about what men do who procure, not what women experience from procurers. I'm speaking about their actions, not how their actions are held by those who make money off of them.

If a human being pays money to use a person as they wish, without many safeguards in place--such as being able to DEMAND condom use and have that demand respected, then I find those men guilty of not just exploitation, but of potentially murdering those women by giving them disease and illness that can kill them.

What was your own experience with men being willing to use condoms? What percent of men who you were with didn't want to use condoms or refused to? (And if you'd rather not get into that, that's fine!!!)

But from everything I can tell, the -vast- majority of women in the sex trade do so with some personal autonomy.

For me the question is this, DanceDreaming. What does "some personal autonomy" mean? Because everyone, unless in a coma, or otherwise unconscious, or who is not completely disabled, has "some personal autonomy". For me the issue is this: are women free to not be approached by men for sex in contexts in which women are economically or socially obliged or coerced to say "yes".

Most of the sex I've had has been "consensual". All of it has, legally. But looking back, as an abuse survivor, I can now tell you, honestly, that a lot of it was compulsorary, because it never occurred to me to not have sex. "Having sex with men" although going against heterosexist norms, was still a social obligation, for me, in my world. So I don't consider my "consent" to be worth too much. I'm glad it was there to the degrees it was, don't get me wrong!!! I do not feel traumatised by most of the sex I've had in my life, in a way that I would were consent not present at all.

But that's not good enough, for me, or for many women I know. The freedom to not be socially defined by gender, to not be socially represented as "for men, sexually" is what I'm talking about.

Julian Real said...

Granted, the options available are generally very sparse. It's the best of a very bad situation.

I agree. And that's why I'd never criticise any woman's "choices". Because there aren't many that are even potentially liberating. I think some lesbian separatists feel liberated in their choices, but I know many women will not wish to make that choice, for many, many reasons.

I don't think men are "entitled" to sex with other people. And any institution or industry that reinforces in men the idea that they are, that they are entitled to have sex with women and girls, especially, is an institution and industry that needs to be eradicated, not modified. That's my view.

When a woman chooses to have sex for money to feed her children, the actual options are slim.

Yes. And, as I think you'd agree, I wouldn't call her a "sex slave" if she makes that choice. I'd call her a sex slave if she was tricked into being trafficked against her will, and is held captive by one many or many men, for the purposes of raping and exploiting her sexually.

A And societal influences are strong here. This doesn't occur in a vacuum, it occurs in a circumstance of women being 'valued' for sexuality at the expense of other things.

Yes. The question that never gets much of an answer, from men, when men say to me that "some women WANT to be prostitutes!" is this:

What does it mean that we live in a society that pays women less to do anything, than it pays men, except to take off their clothes, strip, and fuck men?

And, as we know, often it's the pimp that makes out like a bandit, not the woman!

And it is true that prostitution, along with pornography, do hurt feminism.

The issue for the feminists I know ISN'T that it hurts feminism. It's that it harms women, as a political class of people. It makes it harder for ALL women to be seen as human.

These things do encourage the sexualizing and objectification of women.

In my view, they require and define it, they don't just encourage it. Without objectification and sexualisation of women, what is left of heterosexual prostitution?

Another problem I have with contemporary Western society is that "sex" can mean something that men do with women they pay. Why is sex commerce? Why do men think "sex as commerce" is good sex or desirable sex to have? They clearly know they are having to pay someone for it who won't do it for free? So why do men think paying for something makes it okay or good?

Listen to Dworkin's speech on prostitution, for much more on this. Which I posted a few days ago.

It's all very complicated. I think I'm done now.

I look forward to your answers. And, a question I'll leave you with: who has harmed you more, and all the women you know, of these two groups of people? Feminist activists, or men who pay women for sex? Who has put those women's lives more at risk?

DanceDreaming said...

Wow,

That's a lot of response. I want to give it a good thought before I reply. I certainly can't follow the same format you did, or my response will be 10 pages long. XD

Julian Real said...

lol, DanceDreaming,

Please, please respond only in ways that work for you! :)

DanceDreaming said...

Ok, let's see.

Let's start where you did. The strong stance against civilization, as a whole. Well, first off, as you state, I don't see civilization going anywhere too soon. And I have yet to hear anyone clearly state an actual working alternative that doesn't require a complete restructure of the thought process of the entire human race.

Most foremost, a completion of the ideal of making systemic coercion completely unthinkable to all. Because without that, the ideal posited on Rad Geek, for example, is simply a situation of trading one set of cartels for another.

I also don't know how such a shift could occur. I think violent revolution is a poor plan. It tends to create very little benefit for any other then the warrior kings.

But as to the idea of speaking up, of loudly declaiming coercive thought, speech and action, of holding up ideals, of shining light on systemic injustice? In the hopes of slowly furthering the millennia old struggle toward a more perfect state? With perhaps even the goal of accomplishing that complete restructuring I mentioned? Well, that's why I like this blog, and why I'm here.

Though I personally am a fan of working on such a goal, I like to think that some things need to be dealt with in the meantime as well. That some progress can, and must be made. Toward more sustainable living, before the world is uninhabitable for humans. Toward a less misogynist(and other-ist) society, so that fewer suffer. Toward a less coercive, greed based system, for those who will live in this world in the meantime.

I agree that capitalism has to go. But I'm uncertain how to even start on that, or what could possibly replace it, given the current cultural landscape. If it were gone, the issue of sexual slavery disguised as commerce would be moot. As would all other forms of commercial slavery.

Please do keep saying 'Fuck you' to white, male, moneyed supremacy. It's great to have that voice here.

DanceDreaming said...

So, before I go on, I will mention that I am in part critiquing MacKinnon's stance. I do so to you because you presented her stance as one worthy of praise, and I enjoy friendly debate. It can help people, and very particularly me, hash out ideas, work through their logic, and either come to new ways of thinking about things or formulate better manners of presenting the ideas they hold to be valuable. I do this not to convince you, nor to denigrate your ideas, but because so long as it's consensual, it's fun and helpful for me.

I'll also say that I have read only a small amount of Mackinnon's work(I need to get around to doing serious reading) but from what I've read, I agree with her on many, many levels.

That all said, my issue with MacKinnon's stance here primarily has to do with her intended use of the Kyriarchal power structure itself to continue to outlaw, via the threat of governmental force, certain conduct pertaining to sex and money. Specifically going farther then existing laws that already prohibit sexual violence, physical violence, threat-based coercion, and slavery.

If her stance was one against commerce as a whole, I would applaud the notion at it's base, and look into how she formulates a replacement. But primarily, her stance is not against commerce here, it's specifically against commerce in connection to sex.

I don't know how to frame this thought. I may not agree with what a woman does with her body, or a man does with his money, but at what point does society have the right to interfere? At the point of direct harm, certainly. At the point where one's actions directly curtail another's freedoms, yes. At the point where the life, health, the land, resources, the items of others or of the common wealth are endangered, yes.

But though I think pornography, in it's current form, is vile, I stand against censorship. Although I believe prostitution as it is often practiced greatly harms women in this world, I don't know that criminalizing it, either for worker or client, is justified.

I don't argue that there is a great deal wrong with sex work. It's a pressure cooker of everything dysfunctional about modern society's position on sex, sexuality and gender, with the broken aspects of money, class and race thrown in for good measure(and likely things I've missed).

I agree that prostitution and pornography, as they stand, do strongly support patriarchy, and hurt women and equality(this is what I meant by 'hurts feminism'). But I also feel that they support patriarchy because they are informed by misogyny. I feel that most mass media supports misogyny as well. Along with the majority of privately created media. As evidenced by youtube, the blogosphere, and various conversation forums throughout the net. There's good stuff, but a lot of what people create and put out there strongly supports patriarchal structures. The degree might be different, but the affect is still there.

I don't mean to equate these as being equal, just pointing out that the fact that something in it's current form supports oppressive power structures doesn't by necessity make the thing itself intrinsically flawed.

I don't feel that sexually arousing imagery is inherently flawed. I loved the movie ShortBus. I just feel that the vast majority of pornography is...twisted, off somehow. Some in obvious and deeply disturbing ways, most in nominally more subtle ways that are possibly just as upsetting, for being passed off as subtle.

DanceDreaming said...

So, sex work. Information, specifics here are much harder to get a hold of. How much of what is going on, so here's bare minimum. Fact: there are women and girls who are bought and sold, abused and coerced. There are women who face economic deprivation and turn to the occupation due to a lack of options. And even the modern courtesan, who chooses the occupation due to a love of, and a pride in skill at sex, and a desire to care for the unloved, often finds herself in difficult circumstances.

This is how patriarchy harms women, through prostitution. But prostitution also strongly supports the porn culture, the commodification, objectification and hypersexualization of women.

I never said I was untroubled by any of this. I do feel that legalization would assist in some of these problems. Most of the violations that women in the sex trade suffer are illegal in their own right. Increasing efforts to arrest, and increasing the penalties of, the pimps, slave traders, rapists, abusers, this I support heavily.

Sweden is an interesting case. Before 1999, prostitution was actually legal in Sweden. It was also not terribly common, comparatively. Since the law was enacted, it's become hard to tell what exactly has happened there. Several studies have been done, and their results contradictory. Surveys have shown that the majority of Sweden doesn't believe the amount of prostitution has gone down much.

There does seem to be evidence that the trade has gone underground though. Social workers have a harder time finding women in need of help. Violence around the trade has increased. And though studies seem to indicate that the number of workers has gone down, they also show that those that remain are the subsets most likely to be most victimized. The poorest, the mentally disabled, the addicted, and illegal immigrants.

Now, this is compared to a country with no laws. Less sex trade, but more violence. A stronger association with organized crime. A harder time assessing clients, more difficulty screening(which is -vital-). Less communication with social workers, with each other, less access to valuable information. Since making money off a sex worker is illegal(anti-pimp laws), it is illegal to hire a driver, a screener, or a bouncer/bodyguard.

It's uncertain what affect such a law would have compared to a country where prostitution is currently illegal. It's hard to say. It might be better. It very likely would reduce the total trade. It probably would also drive the trade deeper underground. To protect themselves, clients would be more likely to deal with 'known agents' with established reputations, in order to reduce their risk of running into law enforcement. In other words: pimps. The independent that craigslist briefly made possible will be fully and truly gone.

DanceDreaming said...

No we go to italics :P

I support her work as long as it is grounded in the experiences and activism of prostitutes and other women who are exploited, abused, and trafficked by men sexually.

But, is it? I googled around the Sweden situation, and found lots of prostitution activists declaiming the laws. I found lots of politicians and feminist groups talking about the positive aspects. And a large number of journalists being skeptical of whether the law has been positive.

So far as I am aware, almost all activism of prostitutes, and much of the activism of social workers who try to help them, is aimed at legalization.

I'm talking about the perps: the men who think it is their right and entitlement to use and abuse women, "sexually", 24/7.

Sexual abuse is illegal, apart from prostitution. Increasing the efforts to catch and prosecute perpetrators of sexual abuse is something I strongly support.

I don't see most actions, inside or outside systems of prostitution, as meaningfully consensual, so that may be one other place of significant disagreement.

I think "consent" is a manufactured, manipulated idea more than a reality in racist capitalist patriarchies.


...
So, this is really the sticking point. This is the main point of disagreement. This is why I entered this conversation.

So, you do offer the extension of this idea of manufactured consent to all of kyriarchal society. Kudos for that one. But the statement is still problematic for me.

First, every time I hear it from the lips(or fingers) of another feminist, I can't help but note the distinct similarity between this and the rhetoric of the anti-choice movement. That women who have abortion are duped, preyed upon while vulnerable, and that they universally regret their choice.

Now, again, it's a stretch. There's a difference in scale here(and, frankly realism). At least, from my point of view. But the ideas are really similar. The group sees someone(in both cases a woman) doing something that they feel is wrong, harmful to themselves, and harmful to society. They see another group influencing the decision. And they come to the conclusion that the woman has been duped. That she can't really know what she's doing. She's a victim who must be protected.

There are a lot of things that can be done to aid against the violation of women that do not involve infantilizing.

DanceDreaming said...

I don't think men are "entitled" to sex with other people.

I agree. No one is 'entitled' to sex. No one is entitled to emotional support either. Or conversation. Or plain old physical contact. No one is entitled to love. Or acceptance. Friendship. No one is entitled to back massages, or their own car.

Entitlement around sex is a major issue. It's one of the elements that feeds rape culture. But there is no denying that sex is entwined with satisfaction, with happiness.

The vast majority of the men I saw while working were not rapacious scum, or anywhere close. They were lonely and sad. There felt like a lot less entitlement then appreciation. There were aspects of the work that were negative, some deeply so, and I have my scars. But one thing I found positive about it was that most of the people I saw left happy, and grateful.

Now my experience is likely -not- typical of how sex work exists today. I came into the work from a position of notable privilege. I'm white, raised with middle-class ideology and strong feminist grounding. I'm intelligent, fluent in english, well-spoken, assertive and capable of standing my ground. I started young and left young, and fit fairly well into the american beauty standard. Honestly, this makes me little, if any, more qualified to speak about the majority of sex workers then you. Or MacKinnon.

But I still feel that the portrayal of all clients as violators, as rapacious thugs for whom coercion, manipulation, force, and slavery are "sexually arousing" for a lot of men who think that what arouses them needs to be enacted against other people. I think a lot of clients are lonely, wish to be pampered, wish to have desires fulfilled and happen to have money to burn.

Finally here, I am aware of the inherent issues of objectification and the sex-class. These need to be fought tooth and nail. But relegating the sex trade to the criminal underworld doesn't help. It hurts.

DanceDreaming said...

Hmm.... My first post(starting 'Ok, let's see) is gone? Did it go out of order, or did it not go through? It was about capitalism/ civilization...

Oh, and this comment doesn't need approval. Sorry if this isn't the right format for meta communique.

Julian Real said...

Hi DanceDreaming,

So, before I go on, I will mention that I am in part critiquing MacKinnon's stance. I do so to you because you presented her stance as one worthy of praise, and I enjoy friendly debate.

I guess I should own that my experience is that I live in a war zone, a gynocidal, genocidal, anti-queer war zone. A white het male supremacist war zone in which all those who are not white male, het male, and male-men are under attack verbally, physically, economically, and sexually. Also intellectually and spiritually.

So that is the context in which I live and experience my life. And I live a damned privileged life, and so I have to go pretty far out of my way to know what I know about what's going down. I go there primarily through connections with people around the world. I read what they write, about how they live and what their battles are, for survival, for food, for clean water, for a small, tiny rape-free zone, for one wee spot where they won't experience someone thinking of them as the n word, or treating them as such.

I find most intellectual discussion not in service to making their lives visible, their struggles real, their suffering as human as my own is, socially and structurally.

This is to say, intellectual discussion stopped being fun for me. It stopped when I realised what its political function or effect usually is. And, for me, that function or effect is to take the focus off the suffering of those who are not considered human by white het male supremacist systems, values, and practices.

Right now genocide is occurring. This horrifies me. Right now gang rape and marital rape and the rape of women and girls intimately and well-known by their rapists is occurring. Right now. Right now some doods are beating the shit out of women, the ones the doods "love and want to be with until death do them part". And he will likely cause that death to do them part.

The intellect is an odd thing, to me. Because it is integral to understanding, but not to knowing. The body knows. My body knows things about being sexually assaulted it won't let my mind know.

I say all of this because I have come to see, through what was for me an exercise in pissing and spitting--from me and from another man--at the blogpost on why David can't read... I have come to see that most intellectual conversation isn't in service to stopping the atrocities, or even naming them or recognising them as such.

How many Indigenous people have to die before whites "get it" that genocide is occurring now?

How many women have to be raped, how many children sold into sexual slavery?

How much human destruction has to occur before we "get it" that things like "Western civilisation", among others, are rotten to their core, even if that's not all they are. I like the Beatles and Rufus Wainwright. They are products of white het male supremacy. I like some TV shows too. They are very capitalistic.

But if ending rape and genocide and racism and heterosexism and economic atrocities means I don't get to hear the Beatles any more, so be it. (And, that's not likely to happen, so it's a moot point.)

Julian Real said...

Nothing I value that comes from the cultures of death and destruction, of exploitation and extermination, is worth what the cost is to oppressed and harmed people, to non-human animals and the rest of Life on Earth.

And I know that, and it leaves me in a kind of daily limbo. I don't know how to live with what I know. So I despair or I rage. Most of the time I do one or the other.

DanceDreaming, I can't discuss Catharine MacKinnon's work very much. I can praise it because I've read it--most of her work I've read. And I've met her and I've heard her speak and while I hold some critiques of some things about her and her work--as I do anyone and everyone, I won't debate the work of an international human rights activist, while pimps and procurers, rapists and incest perpetrators, pornographers and advertising execs, financial and political institution leaders, go unchallenged.

For me, criticising MacKinnon is about one thousand items down my "What to do today list". And while I support and often defend her, I can't take much time to explain her work to someone who hasn't really read much of it.

For one thing, I'm a boy. It's not for me to pretend I get all of what she's saying. I think I get a lot of it. And I'm willing to argue for what I believe she is saying. But her words speak for themsevles, and there are feminist blogs, not profeminist ones, that have discussed her work at great length.

Julian Real said...

There are other blogs that have as well, particularly with regard to capitalism and feminism. See the archives of Stan Goff and De Clarke's blog, Feral Scholar, for those discussions. I was part of them.

Those days, for me, are done.

It can help people, and very particularly me, hash out ideas, work through their logic, and either come to new ways of thinking about things or formulate better manners of presenting the ideas they hold to be valuable.

But I can't convince you of why I find her work valuable. I can recommend that you read her work, thoroughly, and come to your own conclusions based on that thorough reading.

I do this not to convince you, nor to denigrate your ideas, but because so long as it's consensual, it's fun and helpful for me.

It's all very painful for me, DanceDreaming. There's nothing fun about it. I get how discussion can be helpful. But MacKinnon engages in discussion in her work. She's always tackling ideas, arguments, put forth by the dominant culture, and is arguing back, convincingly, to me, that those ideas are deeply problematic, oppressive, and in service to men's systematic dominance over women as a class of human beings designated by men to service men in many ways.

I'll also say that I have read only a small amount of Mackinnon's work(I need to get around to doing serious reading) but from what I've read, I agree with her on many, many levels.

Then we don't have much to discuss. If we basically agree, that's good enough for me, and, also, I don't need us to agree. Do you need us to agree?

That all said, my issue with MacKinnon's stance here primarily has to do with her intended use of the Kyriarchal power structure itself to continue to outlaw, via the threat of governmental force, certain conduct pertaining to sex and money. Specifically going farther then existing laws that already prohibit sexual violence, physical violence, threat-based coercion, and slavery.

That kind of discussion is not one I can have, easily, any more. It's too painful, too upsetting, too frustrating, too filled with a kind of grief I'm not sure I can put into words.

If her stance was one against commerce as a whole, I would applaud the notion at it's base, and look into how she formulates a replacement. But primarily, her stance is not against commerce here, it's specifically against commerce in connection to sex.

And if she were, primarily, an anti-slavery abolitionist, against the enslavement of people of color by whites (and she is that), would you argue to me that you disagree with her because she focuses too much on how race is commerce unjustly and inhumanely?

Julian Real said...

I don't know how to frame this thought. I may not agree with what a woman does with her body, or a man does with his money, but at what point does society have the right to interfere?

Pimps interfere, DanceDreaming. Corporations interfere. So let's at least deal with the reality of profound and grotesquely destructive levels of interference. There's no option of having "sex" exist without interference. And the most powerful members and classes of people in a given society interfere the most. And in no industrialised society I know of, on Earth, is "the most powerful" radical feminists of any color. Not one.

At the point of direct harm, certainly. At the point where one's actions directly curtail another's freedoms, yes.

And my friend, when she was fourteen, was taken off the street by a pimp only to be turned out onto the street to make money for him by sucking exploitive, objectifying, sexist men's cocks and by fucking those men. That's some significant intervention into her life, isn't it? Far more than any radical feminist theories have on any prostitute's life. Do you agree?

At the point where the life, health, the land, resources, the items of others or of the common wealth are endangered, yes.

Well, that, in a nutshell, is what white supremacist, ecocidal, genocidal, misogynistic, heterosexist "civilisation" does: it endangers lives: women's lives, people of color's lives, Indigenous people's lives, queer lives, non-human animals' lives, the balance of life on Earth. If you haven't seen the film "Koyaanisqatsi", please do. It's the kind of "argumentation" I most appreciate. Also see the DVDs "Life and Debt" and "Darwin's Nightmare". They may exist online. And then let's talk some more, okay?

But though I think pornography, in it's current form, is vile, I stand against censorship.

As does MacKinnon and as did Andrea Dworkin. They could have crafted a criminal law. They didn't. They crafted a civil rights law, so that the State wouldn't decide what happens: those individuals harmed by the pornography industry would.

Although I believe prostitution as it is often practiced greatly harms women in this world, I don't know that criminalizing it, either for worker or client, is justified.

I've never argued for criminalising it, nor has MacKinnon, as far as I know. So I ask that we deal with ethical and strategic positions MacKinnon or I do hold. Okay?

I don't argue that there is a great deal wrong with sex work.

Why is sex "work"? Why? What kind of society makes both those things be true? Pimps make that be so. Procurers and sexual exploiters make that be so. Without them, sex would not be work, as in paid labor.

It's a pressure cooker of everything dysfunctional about modern society's position on sex, sexuality and gender, with the broken aspects of money, class and race thrown in for good measure(and likely things I've missed).

I so agree with you. The pressure cooker is the civilisation. What it boils to death varies from era to era and region to region. In some, it is the heat of uranium waste that burns people. In some, it is lack of water that causes throats to burn. In others, it is what pimps and rapists do to women, against women's will and wishes, that causes their bodies to burn with pain.

Julian Real said...

I agree that prostitution and pornography, as they stand, do strongly support patriarchy, and hurt women and equality(this is what I meant by 'hurts feminism').

So we agree there too. But "pornography" is the graphic depiction of women as wh*res. That's what it means and that's what it does, politically and culturally. So why are we talking about it as if it could exist without racism, misogyny, and patriarchy? It couldn't.

But I also feel that they support patriarchy because they are informed by misogyny.

And, to me, in my view, they create, they generate, they foster and they reinforce misogyny. They aren't just informed by it. They make it socially real: pimps and procurers practice sexism and racism and classism. That's what they do--they aren't just informed by it; they enact it. They make it more prevalent.

I feel that most mass media supports misogyny as well. Along with the majority of privately created media.

I agree with you!

As evidenced by youtube, the blogosphere, and various conversation forums throughout the net. There's good stuff, but a lot of what people create and put out there strongly supports patriarchal structures. The degree might be different, but the affect is still there.

I completely agree with you. Unless it's a video of a baby laughing or a dog chasing its tail. ;) But most of what is put out there and discussed: I totally agree with you.

I don't mean to equate these as being equal, just pointing out that the fact that something in it's current form supports oppressive power structures doesn't by necessity make the thing itself intrinsically flawed.

I just don't see how you can make "pornography" (the graphic depiction of women as wh*res) into something that isn't male supremacist and patriarchal. If you succeeded in doing that, it wouldn't be pornography any more. By definition. But, no matter what kind of material is produced by feminists or sex-positive people, that includes women engaging in sexual acts, men who are socialised to objectify women, to see women as "for men's sexual appetites", to see women as "men's sexual service stations" will appropriate that material too, and they, through their use of it, will turn it into pornography. That's my sense, given what I've seen men do with "lesbian" pornography. (And I mean material that is made by lesbian women.)

Julian Real said...

I don't feel that sexually arousing imagery is inherently flawed.

I don't find discussing that meaningful, in a society that doesn't teach us how to look at each other as fully human beings.

If the issue is you enjoying some pornographic images, well, I do too. But I don't find much that's appealing, although I used to find more of it appealing.

We--you and I--are socially obligated to find it arousing. We're supposed to like it, be turned on by it, and, if possible, not be able to imagine "sex" without its existence, production, distribution, and use.

I loved the movie ShortBus.

I fucked hate the title (it's so damned ableist), and I was intrigued by that movie, and I have problems with it, but I have problems with all movies!!! And I appreciated A LOT, the intention of focusing on the human beings, the soulful people behind the "women and men having sex, alone, or with other people". I think that movie was trying to say a lot to its audience about humanity and public and private sexuality. I can see why you'd like it. It was unconventional in some ways. But it didn't show me how physically disabled people, and fat people, and old people, can enjoy one another physically and sexually. And a lot of how some physically disabled people have sex can teach the rest of us a lot about how to have sex in humane ways. See the film "Coming Home" starring Jane Fonda and Jon Voight (Angelina Jolie's dad!) for more on that.

I just feel that the vast majority of pornography is...twisted, off somehow.

It requires humans to be two-dimensional, objectified, fetished into body parts that are or are not "hot". It fuses sex with sexism and with racism. It makes penis-focused sex "sex". And so when het pimps make "lesbian porn" they have to include a strap-on. And it requires people to be what they are not: sexual all the time, and interested in sex all the time. And things that like men's sexual attention, violation, exploitation, and invasion.

Some in obvious and deeply disturbing ways, most in nominally more subtle ways that are possibly just as upsetting, for being passed off as subtle.

Playboy is violent to women, in my view, by making women feel that "sexiness" means having shaved legs, tweezed faces, bleached hair, white or light skin, unnaturally shaped breasts, unrealistic and unnaturally shaped bodies--bodies that only a very few number of some European descended women have. Most African, Asian, and Indigenous women, if not white and from Europe, do not have bodies that resemble the ones in Playboy. How are women supposed to feel good about THEIR bodies, with thick wastes, breasts not "perky" or pumped up, legs and armpits and faces with hair on them, pubic areas with hair on them, when you have something like Playboy teaching millions of men that "sexy" means what it puts forth in its images?

Julian Real said...

Hi DanceDreaming,

Some of our comments got intermingled. And thanks for alerting me to one that didn't get posted! I think, I hope, I found and posted it.

And I'll reply to all I haven't replied to, soon. But not right now. But I want you to know that I think I've published everything you've sent, but if you notice something missing here, please, do let me know what it starts with, and I can again do a phrase search, find it, and publish it.

I appreciate your willingness to engage with such a blabbermouth as me! lol

Julian Real said...

PART ONE OF TWO COMMENTS WITH LINKS, FOR DanceDreaming,

Here are some of those discussions I mentioned, from the archives of the blog Feral Scholar. I think after reading them, you will see why it is I'm not so into debating MacKinnon's work!!! lol (I've been there and done that... here's the record... and what follows, that is not written by men, reflects the values and politics of those authors, not of me). I've put the links in chronological order. A Black feminist and white profeminist me left that blog in the dust, years ago, due to our sense that it was willing to allow comments and discussions which would intellectually engage and emotionally entertain hostile-to-Black-women men. Fuck that. But I value much of what Stan was trying to accomplish in these posts that follow. His blog is still active, if you want to post comments to any of this stuff, well, particularly the last link, which was written in 2009 and is not yet "archived" into posterity.

Gender and Power -- a Tutorial -- part 1: Compulsory Heterosexuality:
http://www.feralscholar.org/blog/index.php/2005/09/08/gender-and-power-a-tutorial-part-1-compulsory-heterosexuality/

Gender and Power -- a Tutorial -- part 2 -- Male & Female:
http://www.feralscholar.org/blog/index.php/2005/09/08/gender-and-power-a-tutorial-part-2-male-female/

Gender and Power -- a Tutorial -- part 3 -- Desire:
http://www.feralscholar.org/blog/index.php/2005/09/08/gender-and-power-a-tutorial-part-3-desire/

Gender and Power -- a Tutorial -- part 4 -- Masculinity and Femininity :
http://www.feralscholar.org/blog/index.php/2005/09/17/gender-power-a-tutorial-part-4-masculinity-femininity/

Gender and Power -- a Tutorial-- part 5 -- Outside reading, Porn and Capitalism:
http://www.feralscholar.org/blog/index.php/2005/09/28/gender-power-a-tutorial-outside-reading-porn-capitalism/

Julian Real said...

PART TWO OF TWO COMMENTS WITH LINKS FOR DanceDreaming,

Why gender, part 1:
http://www.feralscholar.org/blog/index.php/2005/11/26/why-gender/

Why gender, part 2:
http://www.feralscholar.org/blog/index.php/2005/11/28/why-gender-part-2/


Why the left should drop Engels on gender, part 1:
http://www.feralscholar.org/blog/index.php/2005/12/17/why-the-left-should-drop-engels-on-gender-part-1/

Why the left should drop Engels on gender, part 2:
http://www.feralscholar.org/blog/index.php/2005/12/20/why-the-left-should-drop-engels-on-gender-part-2/

Gender & Engels, part 3:
http://www.feralscholar.org/blog/index.php/2005/12/31/engels-gender-part-3/

Rescuing the individual from individualism:
http://www.feralscholar.org/blog/index.php/2009/09/17/rescuing-the-individual-from-individualism/

Patriarchy -- the Prime Enemy of Democracy:
http://www.feralscholar.org/blog/index.php/2006/09/20/patriarchy-the-prime-enemy-of-democracy/

Julian Real said...

@DanceDreaming,

That last link is out of chronological order. Sorry about that!

Julian Real said...

@DanceDreaming,

Correcting a typo here. This:
... and what follows, that is not written by men, reflects the values and politics of those authors, not of me. ...

Should say ... "that is not written by me, reflects the values"...

And, again, I'll reply to some of your comments next time.

DanceDreaming said...

Hi,

So, I'm not sure if I really want to go see a blog conversation in an unmoderated forum that has people being belligerent and closed-minded. I've seen that before. I'll take a peek, though. It might be helpful, dunno.

I seriously don't want to be that person. That's why I started with an attempt at a feeler. To gauge whether conversation on this was welcome. Then, I went and just unloaded my ideas before getting a gauge on things. Sorry.

I'm trying to open my mind. I've spent the last several months obsessively reading everything about this subject I can get my hands on.

I was trying not to be someone who says 'That issue isn't important to focus on, because this other one is more important'. But I think I did just that. One of the reasons I don't have a blog yet, and have been reading way more then commenting(this conversation as a huge exception), is that I'm, most of the time here, more interested in hearing and understanding other points of view then trying to convince people of mine.

My world isn't a war zone. I'm buffered from that by a thousand thousand things. My word is inhabited by unhappy desperate people, struggling to hold onto the lives that makes them miserable. But most of the struggle is in the realm of ideas, ideals, power and privilege. Not in violence, abuse, or torture.

The war in the world I can see, was I go through my day to day life, involves psychological warfare. Social structures of control and manipulation.

I'm buffered by race, by class. I'm buffered by living in a place where queer liberal idealogs have carved out a place of some privilege. Where being a loud, assertive, queer women with blue hair is welcome. Where I have some of the privileges classically reserved for men only.

I came to look into feminism heavily, finally, via sex work. I started looking into things because I had time, between sessions, to read. And because I was angry. I was angry about the illegality of prostitution and how it made me less safe. I was angry about seeing airbrushed images of nearly naked 'idealized' women everywhere. I was angry that my sister feels forced to gender her children, particularly her soft and gentle son. I have long been angry at capitalism, at class-based privilege.

I was angry that discussion of gender imbalance was so polarized. Men and many women on one side loudly proclaiming that it wasn't a big deal, that there wasn't really a problem, or that is was mild. And on the other side, what seemed to me to be angry, confrontational oppositionists. An embattled, embittered camp with grievances, but unwilling or unable to present their case in a manner that could engage the neutral. The people in the middle.

When I first looked at your blog, months ago, I find it very...challenging. I thought your ideas were pretty over the top. I've since learned a lot, and have been finding your ideas making more and more sense.

I feel bad that my first major commentary here has been so confrontational. I got hit close to home, I guess. But I think, despite my time working, that talk of sexual slaves, talk of trafficked women, talk of the oppression of prostitutes, isn't really about me.

I've since read a lot. I understand now why most online conversation on the topic is somewhat closed. I've seen how vile it can get when conversation, when debate opens up. I know why it is important to not allow conversations to decenter the oppressed.

I'm likely confrontational here because I want my choice to have been a right one. I felt like I was helping people, or at the least not hurting anyone. And the money was far better then anything I've managed before or since.

I still feel a lot of these ideas are challenging to me. One of the reason I want to comment, I want to discuss, is because I want to understand. But I think I should stick with mostly reading, less novel length commentaries.

DanceDreaming said...

Off to read your links.

Julian Real said...

I really appreciate your commitment to thoughtfulness, your passion, your desire to challenge.

(Hmmm: things we share in common!)

Believe me, I don't mind your "novel length" (lol--hardly!!!) comments at all. I'm well known for them myself, so that's something else we have in common!!! ;)

I don't think you'll find Stan's blog discussions to be those vile ones I know all about too. He allowed a range of comments, but not from complete jerks or trolls. Well, usually! lol (It was never an unmoderated blog, in other words.)

I think you'll rather enjoy the conversations I linked to, and search around there--there may well be others you'll like reading. I think or hope you'll find them intellectually engaging and politically relevant.

And, after you're done reading as much of that stuff at Feral Scholar as you'd like, I will pick up with you here, to discuss more.

I think I sort of made it sound like I'm closed to such conversation with you, but I hope I didn't. What I meant was that it is rarely fun for me anymore. I've been doing it for too long, maybe, without a break. And the subjects are not AT ALL abstract for me. But I sense, given your history, they aren't exactly "abstract" for you either.

But I really like you. From what I can gather from your posts, I like you and your holding to ideas and beliefs that are meaningful to you, while also being open to examining them in a strangely and militantly radical place like my blog.

Andrea Dworkin once said something that has ALWAYS stayed with me--that those who despise her would never imagine she'd have said (I'll paraphrase):

We must always stand naked before reality, and adjust our sense of truth accordingly.

This was a challenge to never get too comfortable with any belief system, with any ideology, with any point of view.

Because it is, after all, a point of view.

The information you most recently shared with me helps me have a MUCH better sense of where you are coming from and the social world in which you live. I know of a world very similar to that one, that I have access to but refuse to be part of. I refuse because there's an overwhemlingly liberal point of view there, that views all radicals as weird. That they don't get how freakin' weird liberalism is, well, is annoying as hell to me.

What you most recently shared helps me feel like engaging with you more here, in this conversation between us.

I'm open to doing that, DanceDreaming. I wanted you to know that, especially since I've now recommended that you enter the world of Stan and De's blog!! You can come here to reflect and ask questions and post challenges to what you read there, if you don't wish to do it with Stan and De directly.

De, especially, has written comments that are, more than anything you or I have done to date, "novel length". And she's quite brilliant too. I trust her perspective more than Stan's, which has wavered quite a bit in some ways, over just the last few years. De has intellectually and actively been engaged with feminism for decades longer than has Stan, even though they are approximately the same age. He put down his understandings in a book called "Sex and War". De's writings can be found in various places, I think, online.

(I sometimes call it "Stan's blog" because for a time De--a white lesbian radical feminist--was a regular commenter there, not "officially" a co-moderator of the blog, Feral Scholar. I think with them being good friends, he thought it would be best to have a woman with him on that level. So it became Stan (who is het and white and not Jewish) and De's blog.

Again, I think you'll rather like what you find there.

And let me know, okay? You don't have to read it all before checking in here with me about any of it.

DanceDreaming said...

Hello,

So, I've been pretty busy with things, but have been plugging my way through your recommended reading. And I must say, it's led me to some interesting thoughts. Some of which I need to mull over a lot more before I can say much about. But a lot of it is being incorporated into my worldview/epistemology.

One thing I will say here. I couldn't get through the comment section of 'On Engels and Gender'. The commentary was powerful, and very interesting. But eventually aggravating. John and Charles continuously not getting what people were saying to them was just too much. And I guess that was part of the point of me seeing it, yes?


-----------

I guess where I was coming from, at the start, and why I pointing out the issue being 'about Mackinnon', was my own grappling with 'the pornography/prostitution question'. And MacKinnon seeming to be one of the crux points of that still lively discussion.

The point from which I come is that of a women who -chose- prostitution. Granted, the choice did not occur in a vacuum. As a highly educated high school drop out, well spoken young white woman, with little to no employment record in her late twenties, with few recognizable marketable skills, and mental circumstances that make most standard employ virtually impossible(undiagnosed bi-polar, likely).

More, living in a capitalist culture, and feeling a strong societal demand that I do -something- to 'meaningfully contribute to society' in order that society would deign to allow me the privilege of such extravagances as eating and having a place to sleep, along with the social validation that comes with not being destitute. And a desire to not get trapped in a long dreary series of entry level jobs, lasting until the day I could collect a meager social security check.

From this perspective, sex work seemed a positive choice. And hearing people rob me of the human dignity to have made that choice, by telling me it was something 'done to me', creates a certain distress. And I reacted over-defensively.

More I have often felt, within my understanding, my own worldview, that prostitution need not inherently be such a negative thing. There is no denying that at currently it is fairly awful. Even when entered in the most positive, uplifting, hopeful fashion, the nature of prostitution as it exists is disheartening. Entered in other contexts it can be downright gruesome.

But I have felt, and now find myself questioning, that sex work could be a positive social role. Granted, one that may be made obsolete or irrelevant in a non-monetary system. But within capitalism, since it still exists, I feel it -could- be(as much as any other 'job' in capitalism). If the social stigmas around sex were challenged, the virgin/whore dichotomy challenged, if sex workers united and stood up for one another. If there was some capacity to take pride in sex work, instead of the shame pushed onto us by both the religious right -and- much of feminism.

It could be a valued thing. Being a sex worker, an -intentional- prostitute, seems to me to involve more then simply being a warm willing hole that a man can pay for(and insinuations to the contrary hurt). It involves learning techniques, and creating an experience(I have taken a certain pride in being -good- at what I did, more then in any other job I have ever held). It involves adding to the pleasure of the life of another human being, which is the heart of all meaningful labor, to me. If it could somehow be separated from, protected against, or even used against, the deep misogyny of much of the clientele...

DanceDreaming said...

But the more I read, the more I am uncertain. The more I question. My experience is -not- the norm it seems. My motivations and intent are not that of the majority of sex workers, though I have met others like me who struggle with the same dilemmas. The majority of women in prostitution experience it as a much more degrading and disempowering phenomena.

And my actions do not occur in a vacuum. The personal is the political, and my choices have consequences. The fact remains that prostitution as it exist does help support patriarchy. It does tend to support men's belief in their entitlement to women's bodies. We do live in culture with rampant rape-fueling ideologies, where 'feminine' is coded as 'sexual', 'vulnerable', 'object'. A system which creates an unconscious, invisible condition of predator/prey relationship between man and woman. And prostitution as an institution seems to be a direct concentration of all this.

I do find myself wondering though. I try to imagine a world free of patriarchy, free of class and racial inequality, free of inherited wealth and power. And I feel that even in such a future, there will be those(men and women) that for various reasons, will have difficulty finding situations of sexual pleasure. And that in this world, as each will give according to their ability and inclination, perhaps some will still have as their contribution, or part of it, a creation of sexual pleasure for these ones.

Because this is why I chose to be a 'courtesan', and what I tried to make my sex work mean. That I failed to keep the darker aspects of the work from overwhelming me, that the darker aspects of prostitution -as it exists- as a whole far overshadow what value the action has in society, does not wholly rob it of all value.

I hear often it said that men must learn that they do not have any inherent 'right' to the body of any woman. And I feel this is true. And that they must learn they do not have a 'right' to sexual pleasure. And this I wonder at. Perhaps not a right. What is a right? But it -is- a large part of being a happy, healthy human being.

I don't know. Perhaps in the cultural context of thousands of years of male supremacy, of women as commodities, and women's sexuality being owned and traded by men, of men lying, manipulating and simply assaulting in the name of sexual conquest; in light of the current and ongoing circumstances of women being bought and sold, valued above all else as sexual objects; in light of the horrors committed daily by traffickers, pimps and procurers; perhaps procuring -should- be illegal.

I don't know. I have much to think about here. Of course, whatever I decide on this, whatever you feel, this is just one discussion, in the footnotes of one blog. Society at large, and feminism in particular, will continue to grapple with this question for some time to come, I think.

DanceDreaming said...

And here I had planned to simply write a quick 'I've been reading your recommendations and see what you mean' post. Ah well.

Julian Real said...

Dear DanceDreaming,

I both welcome and appreciate your comments. You needn't ever apologise for them. I want your voice here, in this discussion.

I am very open to continuing our conversation on all these and related matters. I thank you, most especially, for your honesty in owning the privileges you have had and have in being able to make the choices you did.

I have a lot of questions and comments, but will hold onto them for now, as I could get rambly as hell--lol--and want to spare you, and other readers here, that experience!

I will mull over what you have said. There are older comments here as well that I've neglected, to date, to respond to.

Thanks for letting me know you're still open to this discussion. :)

I greatly admire your willingness to engage in complex, honest, conversation.

For the record, I do not support ideas that "all prostitutes are sex slaves" or that "women in prostitution aren't making choices". Nor, for that matter, do most of the radical feminists I know. As noted, some of the women I have known came out of systems of prostitution--none with the privileges you had when entering it.

I think to take the views of the most privileged in any system of harm and exploitation as "central" is a mistake. This shouldn't negate or silence your voice, but, as you note, to speak as a privileged minority in a system which holds nothing but contempt for women and a believe in their existence as fuck-holes for men, means we have to consider what it means to speak in favor of the system itself.

I noticed, with some alarm, that you note how the right wing and some feminists "shame" women in prostitution, without mentioning pimps and procurers as a fairly significant constituency who shames and abuses the women in prostitution: far more, I'd argue, that feminists and the right wing--assuming those right wingers aren't also pimps and procurers, which is not an assumption I'm prepared to make.

Julian Real said...

As you may well know, prostitutes in the areas where the Republican National Conventions happen are far more busy than those in the areas of the Democratic National Convention. Right wing men, contrary to many claims, are the men who most abuse women, in many ways, because they are disproportionately wealthier, can travel more to poor places where they can rent and buy human beings, often children, for the sole purpose of raping them and calling it "sex".

As we know, priests are not infrequently sexual abusers of nuns, other women in the church, and children, female and male.

So I'd rank white wealthy men identified with and active in Right-wing (or liberal) agendas along with pimps and procurers (those who are not also Right-wing), as THE shamers of women--women inside and outside systems of prostitution. "Feminists", in my view and experience, don't even rank on the list of groups who shame women.

I think how many people interpret what feminists say about prostitution, pornography, and sex, do not appreciate the perspective and accounts they have heard.

Feminists, by and large, who work in the areas of stopping sexist/racist sexual violence against women, do so by speaking with, listening to, and working alongside women in prostitution, pornography, and systems of making sex into sexism and racism, and sexism and racism into sex. I don't know of any feminist activist who does that work without such alliances and accountability in place.

To me, the "feminists shame women" line is, relatively speaking, unfounded and spurious. I think this is a myth--quite a misogynist one and an antifeminist one as well, needless to say.

After all, every antifeminist and nonfeminist women and men and trans folks I know make it a part of daily life to be far more contemptuous and vile and woman-blaming when it comes to understanding and assessing the actions of women, than do feminists, generally speaking.

Nonfeminist women and men I know routinely and unapologetically call women "b*tches" and "*wh*res" and "c*nts". This is shaming, yes? Pimps do this, yes? Not feminists. And when ANY feminist I know has done so, she immediately owns it as misogynistic and not okay. NONE of the nonfeminist and antifeminist people I know apologise for it, or even think there's anything wrong with it.

And that's just on the matter of speech acts.

DanceDreaming said...

I just recently that awesome speech of Audre Lorde you have up, so please forgive any inappropriate appropriation here. As far as some feminist women shaming sex-workers, from my personal experience, it -does- happen.

Was Lorde wrong to note that although the feminist movement was more supportive of black women then misogynist men, they were less supportive then they could be? then they should be? I feel that although all feminists are more supportive of all women(including interesting defenses of Palin) then misogynists are, that there is still an element of shaming much some of the language around prostitution in feminist circles.

I am talking about the frustration, confusion, and betrayal I felt when initially trying to get into studying this. Just my personal perspective, and a fair amount of it from my own misunderstandings, but not all I think.

The language used to describe sex work, and the way it robs women of agency. The characterization of the entire 'industry'(not an appropriate term, but I can't think of one) by it's most awful examples. The low number of actual sex worker voices in the discussion -about- sex work.

I have heard 'sex-positive' activist being called rape apologists. I have heard sex-worker rights activists told that they have internalized misogyny.

The marginalization of the concerns of quite feminist sex-workers rights advocates and groups in feminism concerns me. Despite the fact that a huge focus in such groups is harm reduction.

My experience and those like mine are not, and should not be central in the discussion. But I have met a lot of sex workers, and most have been more like me then like the stereotype. I have not met any women who have been trafficked, nor any who were manipulated/forced by pimps as children. Such women do exist, and it is important their voices are heard but they are not all of the women in sex work. And to hear many people talk about prostitution, people like me simply do not exist.

Characterization of sex-workers purely as victims, negating the possibility of their agency, is harmful. When I hear "I hold nothing against a woman for whatever she needs to do to survive in this CRAP.", or things like it, I here a silent ", but what you do is disgusting." And I've talked to other women, and I know I'm not the only one.

It's not that much of feminism actively shames sex-workers. It is that sex-workers are dealing with a mountain of shame and when reaching out to our sisters for community, we here that what we are currently doing(if still engaged), is wrong. Whether or not that is intended, that is how it came across to me, and has to others I have known.

Until we can find a way to kill patriarchy and misogyny(and possibly after), there will be a demand for prostitution. If prostitution is illegal and demonized it will fester in the black market. We need to wrest the power to control and define sex-work out of the hands of men.

If sex work were legal, and I could have supportive sisters to work with, good bouncers to handle trouble, and still maintain my own independence of schedule and choice of clientele, I might go back to it. In some ways, it was the best job I ever had, by far. In some ways it was by far the worst. And most of those ways were directly related to legality, loneliness, isolation, lack of safety and support, and the general systematic societal shame.

It was so disheartening to get into reading about modern feminism and find so many little echos of that shame.

Julian Real said...

DanceDreaming,

I will remind you this is a radical activist blog.

It's not a discussion blog. I welcome you to discuss stuff, but that's not what this blog is for. It's for supporting radical womanist and feminist women, and I have no plans to make it do anything else any time soon.

It's the only male blog I know of that does this. So I think having one is okay, without apology.

I just recently that awesome speech of Audre Lorde you have up, so please forgive any inappropriate appropriation here. As far as some feminist women shaming sex-workers, from my personal experience, it -does- happen.

Everything happens, DanceDreaming. The issue is what is typical, normalised, accepted as harmless that is, in fact, harmful.

No feminist I know of is stopping any woman who wants to sell sex from doing so. Right?

So feminist language is experienced as shaming to some women in prostitution. True that.

This is not a top priority concern for me, to be honest. It's not for me to tell feminists who use language that some sex workers feel shamed by to "tone it down a little" or "could you always make sure you include the women who are most empowered in systems of prostitution?"

Women, girls, boys, trans folks being coerced, manipulated, violated, injured, beaten, raped, and killed, inside and outside systems of prostitution is part of the population of women the feminists I know seek to empower and liberate, with their assistance.

Was Lorde wrong to note that although the feminist movement was more supportive of black women then misogynist men, they were less supportive then they could be? then they should be?

I hope the part where Audre Lorde speaks about the need to make real the voices of the most silenced women, the most marginalised women, the poor women, the women in the Third World, is critical to even forming feminist theory and practice.

I hope you hear Andrea Dworkin always calling for the same thing: to hear the women without race, class, and education privilege. To hear the women who are so shamed by violence they dare not speak out at all.

DanceDreaming, I hear your appeals being like the rich saying "when anti-capitalists speak about how horrible a system it is, how much it robs people of choice and dignity, they're invisibilising the dignity and choice I feel I have within capitalism."

Do you get why that's problematic?

It's not the least harmed women or most empowered women, or the women who want to promote prostitution as "socially good" that I'm especially worried about. Nor, as an anti-capitalist, am I especially concerned about folks like me, who are financially secure. My experience is not including in the words and theories of people who do anti-capitalism work. And I don't want it to be, either, except to note that some of us--the vast, tiny minority, do fine in capitalism while the majority suffer it's abuses, structured poverty, systematic injuries. You know what I mean?

Julian Real said...

The least harmed women may, or may not, have a great deal of privilege relative to the most harmed: the sex slaves, the trafficked, the women whose lives are being controlled by pimps, economics, and drugs.

That's not you. I hear you. You feel shamed by some of how feminists speak. Do you get how privileged it is to complain about how anti-prostitution feminists speak, at all? And to compare that with what Audre Lorde was addressing?

As if... as if it is not patriarchs who brutally shame women, daily. As if it is not men, not feminists, who harm women in grotesque, unspeakable ways, using speech and using fists, and using penises. Making children and women feel responsible, fully, for the harm they endure at men's hands and dicks.

I am one of THOSE people: the one who was shamed, silenced, by a man sexually assaulting me when I was twelve. I don't give a fuck about him and I'm glad he's dead. And I know he fucking abused so many other children, and tried to get a whole lot more.

So if some adolescents tell me "I liked having sex with adults and it was my choice to do so"--and my best friend in childhood DID choose to have sex with adults when he was fifteen, with strange men, over a hundred before he turned 17... I'm not "representing him" when I speak out against child sexual abuse. And if he feels invisibilised by my contempt for perps, for men who seek out sex with kids, I can live with that. So can he. What people can't live with, and commit suicide over, is being raped, sexually assaulted, incested, molested.

And, NO, I didn't call you or any woman a child. My point is this: among ANY oppressed group, including among children, but among ANY adult population of oppressed people, there are those who will say, and believe, and experience, that "it's not really that bad". Well, FOR THEM, maybe, it's not that bad. But for MOST it is.

Now, please hear that those who oppose capitalism get to do so without giving voice to and for those who do alright in it.

Anti-racism activists do not have to note how successful Bill Cosby and Oprah Winfrey have been when decrying the abuses of white supremacy and poverty, which is gendered female and raced Black and Red and Brown, disproportionately. Does EVERY Black person suffer equally because of white supremacy? No. Of course not.

Julian Real said...

I've heard women say "I don't experience what feminists say men do." Ok. So? So does that mean the millions who do should just shut the fuck up? I hear privileged women trying to shame feminists for speaking out about stuff that some women want to do and feel good about. Like being capitalists, white supremacists, and women who engage in systems designed to harm women, to subordinate women, to disempower and exploit and violate women, and tell activists "Don't put me down for what I choose to do!"

I think the criticism is misplaced. I do. Go tell the men who abuse all the women who ARE abused, to stop harming women, if you want feminists to stop speaking out about patriarchal systems of misogynistic harm and horror.

In my view, feminists don't have to acknowledge or pay tribute to those women who defend prostitution as socially good or redeemable.

Go tell the raped kids around the world who procurers abuse that your experience isn't theirs. Tell them. And tell me who is shamed in the process.

You shame is real, but it's not what the feminists I've known personally for 25 years are fighting about: they aren't fighting so you can feel shamed by feminists. They are fighting a very real battle in a very real war zone, that I have lived in and apparently you have not.

I don't see the world the same way you do. I don't. I see women choosing men as partners--because lesbianism was never presented as a viable option, even when I know those women have had feelings for other women. They choose men. Yes, they do.

I know men who don't do the worst of what men do to women and their female partners calling them "good men". I see them as sexist men, and the women call them "good men". Why do they do that? Why don't they also call them "sexist men"? My answer is this: because they can't, really. They can't afford to know what I and my woman friends see in these sexist "good guys". They've invested years of their lives in supporting these sexists guys, so what would it mean for them to say, "Well, actually, he's kind of a jerk sometimes." It would mean they might have to re-assess being with him. If they feel they deserve to be with someone who is NEVER a sexist jerk, ever.

I see women staying with fucked up abusive men and saying "He's really not all bad."

Julian Real said...

I hear you telling me procurers or W.I.M.P.s are sometimes sad and lonely and depressed. And they are very entitled and privileged men too. Yes? Of course they are sad, lonely, and depressed. We all are to some degree, aren't we?

You have told me the men you had sex with, for money, weren't abusive to you. I'm glad. But what do you want me to take from that? I already know that not all men harm women in the same ways. But did those men, the sad guys, have wives they were cheating on? Were they being dishonest with girlfriends when being with you? Were they harming THOSE women?

I'm often sad and depressed and lonely too. And I don't think it's okay for me, a white guy, to take those feelings and let them entitle me to use people, by paying them for sex. And if I do that with my feelings... I welcome any and all feminists to call my ass out on exploiting someone sexually. And that doesn't say anything about the man I might have sought out.

It doesn't tell us what his level of privilege is, what the circumstances are that led him to sell his body for money, what his abuse history is, etc.

But me doing that--me exploiting someone sexually, with money for sex, is not okay. Period. That's the position of this blog and most of the women I know.

Julian Real said...

The women I know who have been raped and exploited by men who see women as being "for men" do not benefit by me participating in that system of exploitation. They don't get anything positive from that choice of mine. What they get is the knowledge that yet one more man can take advantage of his entitlements to use people who have made themselves available, willfully or less willfully, with or without significant privileges.


I hear you wanting me to accept that there are women who want to sell their bodies for sex and that there are women who want to have sex with men, for money. That's not new information to me. I know that. I've also thought about getting money from men for sex. I've thought about selling myself to men, not with a pimp, because, well, I could and it would confirm to me my function, as taught to me by my assaulter: I'm for men. I'm for sex.

You're not in that category. You're more empowered and less damaged by the world, according to what you've told me about your life.

I know a very academically and street smart white woman--IQ through the roof--who left high school and became a stripper and then became a teacher. She tells her students--female and male and trans, "Well, you know, those feminists are wrong--those anti-sex, anti-male feminists are wrong. I wasn't 'only victimised'. I wasn't 'only violated'. Did I feel victimised and violated sometimes? Sure. But was it my choice to be there? Damn straight it was. And I don't appreciate women telling me I didn't make a willful choice!"

And I don't appreciate her teaching mostly eighteen to twenty one year-olds that the women fighting to stop prostitution were "anti-male" or "anti-sex". And I don't appreciate her misrepresenting those political views, or collapsing them by claiming "all those second wavers" were "essentialists" and "anti-sex" and "anti-male".

I can't and won't draw a parallel between Audre Lorde saying that race-privileged women need to be more accountable to women of color, with privileged white women telling women who have been harmed by male procurers that they need to be more sensitive to those who were not so harmed.

Julian Real said...

I hear you saying "Prostitution isn't really all that bad. I hear you saying it does all the things feminists say, but it's not THAT bad for ALL women in it."

Am I hearing you correctly? If so, do you get how my benefiting from capitalism--how the ways it works for me, how the ways white supremacy works for me, a white Jew, DOESN'T work for most people who aren't so privileged as me? And I know very well that anti-Semitism lives and breathes heavily down the necks of Jews of all colors, and seeks our destruction. I know that. I know that non-Jewish white folks want to peg all Jews as "rich" and "in charge" when, you know, we're not. This ain't no Jewish Nation I live in, much as some Christian White Nationalists might want others to think it is.

I find it racist of you, white supremacist of you, to reference Audre Lorde about the nexus of racism, heterosexism, and sexism, and compare that to your situation as a relatively privileged white woman. She wasn't speaking about you. She was speaking about her very silenced Black sisters.

Have you read "The Uses of the Erotic"? I never heard her calling for people finding value in exploitation. I recall her wanting something more for women that acceptable levels of economic and sexual exploitation.

I heard Andrea Dworkin calling for NO sexual exploitation of women, period. None. And I'm down with that.

Please quote the women who you feel are putting you down or shaming you. Name them and quote them here. I can't respond to "women you've heard feel shamed by feminists". Which feminists? In what speeches and essays and books?

Julian Real said...

I feel that although all feminists are more supportive of all women (including interesting defenses of Palin) then misogynists are, that there is still an element of shaming much some of the language around prostitution in feminist circles.

I agree. It can be there, at times. And again, that isn't for me to "correct", and by and large that's not what I hear. I hear women--usually not feminists and usually race and class and education privileged women--making excuses for why systems of harm and oppression aren't so bad.


I am talking about the frustration, confusion, and betrayal I felt when initially trying to get into studying this.

I get how that would not sit right with you, and could turn you off to a movement, or a collection of writings that you wanted to relate to and support.

I could take "generalisations" about men as reason to reject feminism, and many men do. But I get what the fucking point is. I get what feminists are talking about: classes of people exploiting and abusing and subjugating other classes of people. Not EVERY class-privileged person does ALL the same kind of harm. And not EVERY class-subordinated person experiences the same forms of subjection, harm, and exploitation. That's not the point, though. The point is that the systems are harmful. And they harm people based on classed identities, unjustly and inhumanely.

So let women speak about men in a generalised way, because it's a sociological/systemic/structural/institutional/class analysis. It's not a psychological/anecdotal/interpersonal-only/individual analysis. They don't have to support the experiences of those of us who are fine with how things are, because those of us who are relatively fine CAN ONLY BE SO because the majority suffers, and THAT, to me, is THE POINT. Whatever you decide to do, or have done, has an effect on all women, women you don't know--women who do not have class, race, or education privileges. The procurers who pay you for sex use that experience to fuel their fucked up ideas about their being "whores" and "good girls". You get to do it, and I don't really care if you do or you don't. I'd prefer you don't, though.

Julian Real said...

Just my personal perspective, and a fair amount of it from my own misunderstandings, but not all I think.

I appreciate you owning that, because that's a lot of what I see when I hear women criticise feminists: misunderstanding of where those feminists are coming from, or misunderstanding what those women are saying and doing. And I don't think the sole problem here is that you're "not getting it". I do feel that way about some people who stop by here: that they are just willfully not wanting to get what feminists are striving to do.

I see you as VERY sincerely searching and struggling to integrate what you know from your life, and from other sex workers' lives, with what you also know from what you read.

I wish you would contact Ruchira Gupta, and have her put you in contact with ex-trafficked girls and women. Really. Because I think you need to know why she is against the legalisation of prostitution.

Ruchira wasn't in one of those systems of harm. And she doesn't have race privilege, or "First World" privilege, and I believe Audre Lorde would support you listening to her and being accountable to those kids and women who were sex-slaves and who were trafficked, when formulating your ideas about this matter of men sexually exploiting women and children, globally.

The language used to describe sex work, and the way it robs women of agency.

Please read the last quote by MacKinnon. I'll copy and paste it here:

'[T]hose who point out that women are being victimized are said to victimize women. Those who resist the reduction of women to sex are said to reduce women to sex. Subordinating women harms no one when pornographers do it, but when feminists see women being subordinated in pornography and say so, they are harming women. Words do nothing except when feminists use them. Go figure.' -- Catharine A. MacKinnon, Women's Lives, Men's Laws, page 350.

What do you make of that?

Julian Real said...

The characterization of the entire 'industry'(not an appropriate term, but I can't think of one) by it's most awful examples. The low number of actual sex worker voices in the discussion -about- sex work.

How do you know that? How do you know which radical feminists were and were not inside those systems, and impacted by them? Did you know Andrea Dworkin sought out young men for sex, to get paid? When she was homeless and poor? Did you know the woman who organised ALL the campaigns to get the Dworkin-MacKinnon anti-pornography ordinance passed in North America was on the street, controlled by a pimp, as an adolescent?

Neither woman had the privileges you do, at the time they participating on those systems of harm and exploitation.

I would say you, as a white woman, are accountable to Vednita Nelson on this issue, and I think Audre Lorde would agree. Please see this post for more on what she has to say:

http://radicalprofeminist.blogspot.com/2010/01/prostitution-where-sexism-and-racism.html

I have heard 'sex-positive' activist being called rape apologists.

Were they making rape seem like it wasn't so bad a problem?

I have heard sex-worker rights activists told that they have internalized misogyny.

Don't we ALL have internalised misogyny and racism?

The marginalization of the concerns of quite feminist sex-workers rights advocates and groups in feminism concerns me.

More than the way male misogynistis marginalise sex workers by thinking of you and them as "wh*res" not "good girls"? By dividing women up this way?

Despite the fact that a huge focus in such groups is harm reduction.

I am fully supportive, and always have been, of women doing activism that makes their lives safer and better. I can't speak about or for those feminists who are critical of activist groups of women working for better conditions within systems of prostitution. How do those women--the women you know--speak about radical feminists (the ones who were prostitutes)?

Julian Real said...

My experience and those like mine are not, and should not be central in the discussion.

Well, I agree. I mean it should be central in YOUR life. For sure.

But I have met a lot of sex workers, and most have been more like me then like the stereotype.

That doesn't surprise me, given your privileges. Your world and the worlds of the more oppressed women in those systems are not that likely to overlap. That's why I'm encouraging you to reach out to Ruchira Gupta, to speak with girls and women she has worked with, and also with First Nations women in Vancouver, Canada, and with Vednita Nelson in the U.S.

I have not met any women who have been trafficked,

But we know millions of women and girls are trafficked.

nor any who were manipulated/forced by pimps as children.

That sounds to me like whites who say, "I've never seen a Black person" or a rich person who says "I've never seen a homeless poor person".

That doesn't tell me anything about the extent to which such oppressed people do exist.

Such women do exist,

And are the majority.

and it is important their voices are heard but they are not all of the women in sex work.

And the poor are not the whole of people in a capitalist system who do wage work. But I am more accountable to the poor in fighting poverty and capitalism, than I am to middle or upper class folks.

And to hear many people talk about prostitution, people like me simply do not exist.

Characterization of sex-workers purely as victims, negating the possibility of their agency, is harmful.


Not as harmful as pimps, procurers, men on the Right and the Left who argue there's no harm in prostitution at all.

When I hear "I hold nothing against a woman for whatever she needs to do to survive in this CRAP.", or things like it, I here a silent ", but what you do is disgusting." And I've talked to other women, and I know I'm not the only one.

DanceDreaming, I feel not at all that what any woman does in prostitution is "disgusting" or that any woman in prostitution is "disgusting". I think what men do in participating in those systems, as pimps or procurers, IS, necessarily, harmful and oppressive, NOT necessarily to EVERY woman in the same way, but to woman AS A CLASS in harmful and oppressive ways.

I don't think you've ever heard me state that I think what any woman does, period, in or out of systems of prostitution is disgusting.

Check that. I think white women's racism is disgusting. I think anyone's anti-Semitism or rich women's classism or anti-Muslim bigotry is disgusting. Gross and disgusting. Yes. I do.

Julian Real said...

But not what prostitutes and non-prostitutes do to earn money. I hear that my language makes some women feel like I'm judging them, and it may well be condescending in some ways, and I guess I can strive to speak more clearly and accurately about my feelings and views. But, honestly, if any prostitute thinks I'm the fella they should be concerned with, I'd have them look around as a reality check of who the men are who actively and outwardly display anti-prostitute misogyny and racism.

I'm curious: are the women who feel this way about what I write women of color? And women without class privilege? Because several very privileged white women have taken issue with my position on the men who use women in prostitution.

It's not that much of feminism actively shames sex-workers. It is that sex-workers are dealing with a mountain of shame and when reaching out to our sisters for community, we here that what we are currently doing(if still engaged), is wrong.

Can you distinguish me saying that what I think men are doing is wrong, and what women are doing is wrong? I don't think males who are prostitutes are "wrong". I think they are earning money--hopefully they are and not pimps--from selling their bodies. And I hope they get out soon. And if that's "shaming", I also think poverty should end too. And I don't assume that poor people take that to mean "I'm shaming them". And my poor family members don't take my critique of our system as shaming them for being poor.

Whether or not that is intended, that is how it came across to me, and has to others I have known.

I don't hold much value in my intentions. What matters is the effect of what I do. So I am interested to know how women experience what I say. And, also, what I say has to be sought out, from this blog. And no woman has to come here to get through her day. So if a woman doesn't like what she reads here, she can leave and not ever read anything I write again.

Until we can find a way to kill patriarchy and misogyny(and possibly after), there will be a demand for prostitution.

I agree. Because so many goddamned men are mutherfuckers who demand a constant supply of women and children to stick their dicks into or wiped their dicks onto.

Julian Real said...

If prostitution is illegal and demonized it will fester in the black market.

I totally disgree with you, as do many women in those systems around the world with far fewer privileges than you have.

We need to wrest the power to control and define sex-work out of the hands of men.

Good luck with that project. I think you'll find radical feminists are working to do that far more than liberal to conservative antifeminists are.

If sex work were legal, and I could have supportive sisters to work with, good bouncers to handle trouble, and still maintain my own independence of schedule and choice of clientele, I might go back to it.

And I'm against it being legalised, and all I do is write at a blog, so I don't think I'm much of a threat to you wanting it legalised. You won't have to contend with me, unless you willfully choose to go out of your way to do so, in your struggle to legalise prostitution. You will have to content with fucked up right-wing and liberal-ass men who hate women.

In some ways, it was the best job I ever had, by far.

That doesn't say much for work options for women in the U.S. And if it is the best work option available to you, then do it. I'm not calling the cops on ya.

In some ways it was by far the worst.

Then I don't support you doing it. Anything that leads to you feel like "this is the worst thing I've ever done" is not likely to be something I'm going to be that supportive of you doing.

And most of those ways were directly related to legality, loneliness, isolation, lack of safety and support, and the general systematic societal shame.

Racist capitalist patriarchy is designed to make people feel lonely, isolated, and like criminals, unless they are white het, class-privileged men. For the rest of us: shame and blame.

It was so disheartening to get into reading about modern feminism and find so many little echos of that shame.

Does reading Alice Walker, Audre Lorde, bell hooks, and Andrea Dworkin make you feel ashamed of yourself. If so, what is it in their writing that makes you feel ashamed?

This is what Therese Stanton, the woman who organised against men who want prostitution to be legal and available to them, said:

The burden of proof will be on those of us who have been victimized. If I [any woman] am able to prove that the picture you are holding, the one where the knife is stuffed up my vagina, was taken when my pimp forced me at gunpoint and photographed it without my consent, if my existence is proved real, I am coming to take what is mine. If I can prove that the movie you are looking at called Black Bondage, the one where my black skin is synonymous with filth and my bondage and my slavery is encouraged, caused me harm and discrimination, if my existence is proved real, I am coming to take what is mine. Whether you like it or not, the time is coming when you will have to get your fantasy off my ass.
--Therese Stanton, "Fighting for Our Existence"

How does reading that make you feel? I'm asking you sincerely.

DanceDreaming said...

2 quick notes, as I'm off to bed.

First, the Audre Lorde comment was off-base as hell, I realize, and should have edited it out. I knew it was, hence my caveat at the beginning, but didn't actually remove it, which was kinda dumb. Sorry about that.

Second, this conversation, at this point, isn't actually about you. I don't really take offense at what you blog about, and have actually quoted bits of your site(along with a lot of other stuff I've been reading) occasionally. Particularly a fan of your acronyms and the 'dick-whipped' concept.

I'm engaging with you here basically because you are someone who engaged with me in meaningful dialog. Someone who knows more about a subject I have interest in, is willing to talk(a lot), and generally take me seriously. There's a certain irony in me 'learning' about radical feminism from a guy, but whatever. Really, I need to get to a library and read more of the actual source material, this has been challenging to manage.

Actually, final thing: yes, privilege, I have it. White, middle-class-speaking, well-read, autodidactic and all that. I also have never broken above the poverty line in any single year, and likely never broken over 3k in a year doing anything -other- then sex-work. So capitalism isn't exactly doing me a lot of favors. White supremacy -is-, hugely.

Hell, that reminds me. I need to start poking out info on 'anti-racism for ignorant white people'.

Julian Real said...

For many white people I know, whether they live below the poverty line as adults is, of course, not a form of privilege. But being raised middle class and/or having a high level of literacy and/or academic education, along, at times, with family to depend on for financial help (I'm not saying this is the case for you, as I don't know), means that one's life in poverty as an adult is quite different than the life of a white person raised in poverty, without much literacy or quality educational opportunities.

Having said that, it is very clear to me that a racist capitalist patriarchy WILL pay women more to be sexually available to men than to do anything else. And I have known many white women who have considered doing sex work to pay for college. I talked every one of them out of it, except for one, who did strip for a short time, until being fired.

The other women found other ways to get through college, which has generally meant being in debt. I cannot, in good conscience, advocate for women to go to college, in the U.S., anyway, where the cost is so absurdly high, except at some community and state-funded schools, if one is a resident of that state. Or if scholarships are available, which seems to be increasingly not the case.

As a fairly literate kid, by white middle class standards, I learned far more out of college than in college. I've read far more out of college than in college, even during my years in college! And I do know a young white middle class college-educated woman who is economically on her own, who has found ways to make a living doing many things that are not things many people do to earn money. She works off the grid in some ways and instances.

She is one of the women I talked out of doing sex work. What the women came to see, not primarily through talking with me, is that the emotional, spiritual, psychic, and political cost of being in sex work was not worth the cash.

I understand and do appreciate the dilemma you face. Were I financially strapped, and were I to have a high level of control over the procurers, I might consider some form of sex work myself. And I suspect it would propel me into depression pretty fast. And that's me, with my own history with men, use, and abuse.

You mentioned possibly having a bipolar condition. So this, too, if my own bipolar family members are any indication, greatly limits what you can and cannot do for work.

So as noted earlier, I won't be someone trying to talk you out of doing sex work. That's your choice.

And I will, rather fiercely and militantly, argue against legalising prostitution, in alliance and allegiance with all women who suffer because prostitution exists and thrives, most especially girls and young women of color being trafficked and pimped globally, who will not benefit from prostitution being legalised anywhere in the world, in the view of many feminist activists across the globe--many of whom escaped prostitution that is not like what you have done, in so many ways.

And, as always, I feel a certain kinship with you. I both like you and I respect you. My respect for you and my liking you are not contingent on whether or not you choose to do sex work to earn money.

I especially like your willfulness and sense of righteousness in arguing for what you believe in, even as you are questioning aspects of it. I like that a whole lot. Brava to you. And let's keep conversing, if you want to. If I had a sister, I imagine she'd be a lot like you. I think your temperament and mine are similar.

You seem to have more patience than I do though. I'll try and learn about patience while you read up on anti-racist stuff. And I'll also keep reading up on anti-racist stuff too!