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Monday, February 25, 2013

Is This Feminism? Murphy and More. FACEPALM.


Over the past year, I have come across several individuals who really hate porn, sex work, and the women, men, and transgendered individuals that take part in sex work. I am hard pressed to find another industry that faces the same discrimination, and that is the target of the same fear and disdain as the sex industry. Simultaneously, there is this absolute need to “save” those who engage in sexual labor, even in the absence of the worker’s desire to be saved! I don’t understand it. I worked as a server and bartender for several years. I HATED IT. I used to drive into work with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, and often left work crying, despite the hundreds of dollars that I had made. No one tried to save me. I never ran into any non-profit groups that promised me “a better life.” Well, perhaps we could begin with an analysis of this countries general fear of sexuality, but I think that’s better suited for a future book.

When examining the anti-sex work camp, it’s easy to spot the loons. I have written extensively about Shelley Lubben’s Pink Cross Foundation in the past Shelley Lubben Article as well as “doctor” Judith Reisman (this is a hilarious one!) "Dr" Lubben & "Dr" Reisman  Jordan Owen has brilliantly demonstrated time and time again why Gail Dines isn’t worthy of a second listen. Jordan Owen is AWESOME

The problem is with this new breed of feminists, who appear well-intentioned but are really just wolves in sheep’s clothing. The feminists who are here to SAVE the sex workers, if only we’d listen to them! If only we really understood the damage that sex work is inflicting upon us, individuals like Meghan Murphy could swoop in and give us a better life. The problem is that they don’t offer any actual resources, and worse yet, anyone who tries to engage Murphy in a debate will be belittled and trivialized. Does it sound like anyone is actually being saved here? Of course not. Murphy, and others like her, isn’t interested in truly listening to sex workers OR “saving” them. They are interested in furthering their own selfish agenda. In Murphy’s own words, if you disagree with her (or are a proponent of free speech), you’re “stupid.” Yup, here’s her latest article. Meghan Murphy Loves Criminalization  This is Murphy’s brand of feminism, and if you don’t agree, then you’re simply not worth her time. 

For the record, I don’t discount the voices of women who have been victims of sex trafficking. It happens, and it’s a problem. Does anyone disagree with me there? However, that’s not what I’m focusing on. I’m focusing on the fact that Murphy (and every other individual mentioned in this article) ignores the voices of sex workers who CHOOSE to be in the sex industry. According to these brave feminist saviors, these women & men don’t actually exist. Again, they’re just suffering from that damn false consciousness.

Here's a noteworthy quote that I came across during the Murphy debate on Twitter: 

Guess what? I DO want an alternative to sex work None of the antis are helping with that. They just shame, silence, support abusive policies”’

What's Murphy doing for her???

I first encountered Murphy on a mutual friend’s Facebook page. She calls herself a feminist, and apparently writes, so I made the mistake of thinking that I could engage her in an interested debate. OOPS! When she told me that Farley’s research is “solid,” (scoff), I asked her what she knew of Farley’s research. (If you're not familiar with Farley's work, look it up, at your own risk. Anti-prostitution researcher, although I hesitate to even call what she does research.) Murphy had once interviewed Farley, so this was enough evidence for her. She proceeded to tell me that perhaps if I read any of Farley’s research, I would understand why prostitution is harmful. Hmmm. I have had the displeasure of reading and critiquing Farley’s “research,” as have many others. When I tried to talk to Murphy about small sample sizes, poor sampling techniques, and unethical research practices, she responded with insults.



Individuals like Murphy (whom, by the way, has no training in statistics or research methodology) hide behind Melissa Farley’s research. Farley has a PhD, and therefore, she MUST know what she’s talking about, right? She receives funding from the US Department of Justice, and her studies are published in academic journals. As we all know, journals ONLY publish “solid” research, so we should believe everything that Farley writes, right…? Please tell me that you note the sarcasm here. *sigh*

Is this the face of feminism? I suppose so. Farley has been cited over and over and OVERRRRRR again by abolitionists such as Meghan Murphy & Stella Marr, yet nobody pays any mind to the fact that other researchers have filed complaints against her to the American Psychological Association. Am I missing something? These abolitionists love turning a blind eye, don’t they?  Complaint Lodged to APA

I could go on for years about Farley, but I could never do as brilliant a job as Dr. Barb Brents (a researcher who actually DID HER RESEARCH IN THE NEVADA BROTHELS) in this one article. Barb Brents Re: Farley In 2007, Brents writes

Thus I conclude that Dr. Farley could not have intended this particular document to be presented as scientific research. Rather this report must be read as a series of essays drawing on facts as they support her organizations goals and positions. Should Dr. Farley choose to publish scientific work from her findings, I will look forward to seeing these in other peer-reviewed venues.” 

Oh, and in case you were wondering, that’s the same Melissa Farley who was arrested 13 different times in 9 states for tearing up Penthouse and Hustler magazines in 1985. I’ll give you a moment to let THAT nugget of knowledge sink in.

So, who is Murphy and why does anyone listen to her? Well, for starters, she holds a Masters degree in Women’s Studies, and I think she’s also completing a degree in journalism. So, clearly, she’s received excellent training in research methodology, right? FFS. In the absence of any empirical support, experience in the sex industry or academic background to actually critique the studies that she touts, WHY does anyone bother to listen to the Rick Santorum of feminism (as she calls herself on her own Twitter page). It’s a mystery to me.

She does a great job of spouting the same crap that other abolitionists have been repeating for years. Keep repeating the same message, and supporters will latch onto it, even in the absence of truth. Perhaps the most offensive of Murphy’s missteps was her conversation between several sex workers on twitter a few days ago. Sex workers were telling Murphy that THEY CHOOSE THEIR JOB. THEY ARE NOT COERCED. She does not want to listen. Well, we are all suffering from a false consciousness, so I guess that explains it. Murphy, Marr, Dines, Lubben, Riesman, and Farley all know me better than I know myself. I’m impressed. If only I could understand my inner workings as much as these strangers do. They’re really onto something!

To summarize:
Dear antis- you don’t give a crap about sex workers. You only care about how YOU feel about sex work. Your morals are yours and yours alone. I would appreciate if you kept them off of my body. In the event that I ever need saving, I won’t come to you. Not unless I want to be shamed and judged. Thanks.

UPDATE: Rabble, a site that Murphy actually blogs for, has re-posted this article. Murphy responds to the re-post by claiming that I am "obsessed" with her. Hilarity ensues! Susan Davis writes:

"this is a great piece against abolitionist journalists and shows alot about our resident blogger meghan murphy.
she has recently published an article in which we equates criminalization of rape as effective with the criminalization of sex work as being potentially effective...
i don't know where to begin to answer that argument so instead i found this response below"
http://rabble.ca/babble/sex-worker-rights/feminism-murphy-and-more-pioneering-sex-worker-advocacy-connecticut


UPDATE: Even more new developments. Susan Davis of Rabble Speaks Out

158 comments:

  1. Hi, since the link you provide to Murphy's alleged insults doesn't work, would you mind pointing out what you think are inconsistencies in Farley's research/sample size?

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    1. Hi there, I sure can. I'm not sure why I can't get that link to work, it's a screen shot of our facebook conversation. I'm not very tech savvy, but I can look at it tomorrow. For a comprehensive explanation of why Farley's research is utter bullshit, your best bet is to read the article by Brents that I linked. However, I can point out a few key points. (If you'd like detailed summaries from individual studies, I can dig up my old research notes/her studies and post those this week.)

      Problems with her research range from methodological issues such as small sample sizes and poor sampling techniques, to HUGE conflicts of interest. Getting a large percentage of her funding from anti trafficking institutions, for instance. Obviously you can see the conflict of interest there.

      Her definitions are NEVER operationalized. She conflates the terms prostitution and sex trafficking every damn time. Good research is born of hypotheses, not of an opinion that's already firmly set in stone. Oddly enough, Farley writes about the trafficking taking place in Nevada brothels, without empirical support. She puts words into women's mouths, stating that the women are "minimizing" their experiences. How can we know this? Again, Farley writes editorials and opinion papers, NOT empirical articles. When her "data" doesn't add up to her hypotheses, she explains it away. How she even gets published is honestly beyond me.

      I remember reading one of her "studies" about a year ago, in which she discussed the differences between men who bought/did not buy sex. The study did not even reach .05 significance , and I wondered "why is she still pushing this same idea? HER RESULTS WEREN'T STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT!" I mean, how frustrating is that? One cannot claim "facts" from a few interviews. This isn't how empirical research works.

      When I asked Murphy what she thought of Farley's quasi designs, shit sample sizes, and ESPECIALLY conflict of interest re: funding, she said that she had work to do and had to go.

      I suggest you read the APA complaint (although I know it is quite long and perhaps dry) lodged against Farley. Her website, PRE, is also mind blowing... http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/c-prostitution-facts.html



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    2. Also pointing out that one of your links (the one after "When I tried to talk to Murphy about small sample sizes, poor sampling techniques, and unethical research practices, she responded with insults.") links back to your personal computer rather than anywhere on the internet. Could you post the file? Thanks.

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    3. Also have a look at the Wikipedia article on Melissa Farley, which links back to several critical articles about her, notably a series of articles in which she and sociologist Ronald Weitzer debate her work and that of other "abolitionist" scholars:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melissa_Farley

      Farley's work has a *huge* problem with sampling bias (she strongly favors jails and emergency drop-in clinics as sites to survey sex workers), lack of any kind of control group, lack of transparency in her survey questioning methodology, and poorly defined hypotheses (and lack of any alternate hypotheses) and other slippery operational definitions. To even critique sample size or statistical significance at that point is beside the point, because a study with those kind of methodological problems will never amount to anything more than "garbage in, garbage out", even if her studies had great sample sizes and results that showed strong statistical significance.

      Essentially, Farley starts out with a conclusion, then sets up a biased survey to get the numbers. Because she can rattle off numbers claiming "89% of prostitutes suffer from post-traumatic stress", the media will report it uncritically as real data rather than anecdote. And that's where junk science like Farley's is far more dangerous than simple moralism or biased opinions that don't pretend to be based on actual data.

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    4. Thank you for this! And yes, I will fix the links now.

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  2. I.

    Unfortunately, the answer to the question posed this post's title is, 'Yes, this IS Feminism,' because Feminism is defined by its leading proponents, not by what outliers and subfactions feel about what it could/should be. Any attempt by "sex positive feminists" to lay out what Feminist philosophy "really means" or "ought to be" falls victim to the "No True Scotsman" fallacy, as is explained in FurryGirl's excellent recent article, http://www.feminisnt.com/2013/frequently-addressed-accusation-you-misrepresent-true-feminism-by-focusing-on-the-bad-feminists-theyre-not-real-feminists-anyway/

    In my view, sex positive feminists are the Log Cabin Republicans of Feminism.

    I also recommend this column by Maggie McNeill:

    http://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/neither-cold-nor-hot/

    The author notes, above, that Feminists such as Murphy don't care about sex workers, but instead "only care about how [THEY] feel about sex work." In my view, "sex positive feminists" also do a disservice to sex workers by remaining steerage class passengers deep within the bowels of the rotting hull of the SS Feminism. By self-describing as Feminists, you lend credibility to the philosophy which produced this ideological freakshow. Feminism's irreversible course was charted long ago by stars who hate you because you dare to demand your agency. Your individuality is abhorrent to these mariners. They have only contempt for you.

    See: http://youtu.be/5lI8cEU824c

    Group think-oriented gender politics, coming from any direction, inevitably lead to -- and, in fact, require -- dogma. Sex workers simply do not, and can never, fit the narrative which has been decreed by the Feminist orthodoxy. Why? Because Feminism places the group over the individual -- in that, by some quirk of genetics, a human born female is ethically required to subscribe to a certain ideology since women are all born "sisters" with duties to the collective -- and therefore ANY individual choice that does not align with the orthodoxy must be targeted, ridiculed, marginalized, and stamped out.

    And since "patriarchy" is the cornerstone of ALL Feminist theory, any individual choice made by women ("womyn") which is not antagonistic to men (a.k.a. subjugators of womyn) whose desires they claim caused the imbalance in the first place, and especially those choices from which men might derive satisfaction or comfort, MUST be decreed to be blasphemous -- a sin against all womyn. Change the players, and the same is true of all -isms.

    These Feminists wish to eradicate sex work, and thus sex workers.

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    1. Well, I disagree Michael. Feminism is simply the position that women deserve full equality of opportunity and equal rights alongside men. We still need feminism as a political movement because women are far from equal and suffer a lot of discrimination and misogyny.

      Feminism is very diverse and there is no one feminist "dogma." People who dislike feminism are generally mistaking one stream of feminism for the whole thing. But the "radical feminists" who are prohibitionists represent only one school that gives a bad name to the rest of feminism. I am a lifelong feminist and most feminists I know are also allies of sex workers. The group FIRST (www.firstadvocates.org) is an explicitly feminist group that formed to be an ally to sex workers and advocate decrim. So please don't tar us all with the same brush.

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    2. Since when is feminism about anything other than female (and everyone else's) self-determination? Feminism is not what the most privileged "feminists" says it is. It's also not what the sex positive say it is. It's about my right, as a human fucking being, to have self-determination, and if that means selling my time, affection, and sex, then that is my right... and it hurts no one. And sorry, if you don't agree with that, or want to control what I do in private with other grown, consenting adults, that is NOT FEMINISM. That is fucking patriarchal fascism. I don't need some non-sex working people defining feminism for me. STAY THE FUCK OUT OF MY BODY, and get your heads out of your asses.

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    3. Joyce, I appreciate your response, but I'm afraid you are stating your wish, and not the cold reality.

      My point is not that there is only one dogma shared by branches of Feminism; rather my point is that ALL dogma is a tool of enslavement. Dogma removes choice, and devalues individuality in favor of the group. This is true of ANY -ism. It is dogma that takes away the right of the individual to make "disfavored" or blasphemous choices. It is dogma that infantilizes and denies agency whenever the potential actor might offend group values.

      Yes, there remains discrmination against women (and other groups) today, and yes it's wrong, but that reality does not lead automatically to the Feminist conclusion that one can make both sexes equal by focussing solely on the issues of one of them.

      Finally, while your definition of feminism may be "the position that women deserve full equality of opportunity and equal rights alongside men" -- a philosophy with which I agree completely -- with all due respect, you and I do not get to decide that. Feminism is what its leaders say it is. Like the rest of the last paragraph of your comment, that statement represents a "No True Scotsman" fallacy, as explained in the FurryGirl post I linked to in my comment.

      I used to believe that radical feminism was to feminism what national socialism was to socialism -- the deliberate false-flagging of an authoritarian worldview as liberationist -- but I am now forced to see that the inherent flaw in Feminism is the -ism. Radical feminism is not a perversion of Feminist theory, it is in fact the logical extention of an ideology whose cornerstones are Patriarchy and group identity and which borrows from Marxism (yes, another -ism) the historical narrative of class/group struggle.

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    4. I have to agree at least somewhat with Michael's point, even though I'm quite aware that feminism is very diverse, and there's a portion of it that's the complete opposite of the kind of crap that (lets people like her for what they are) fascists like Murphy advocate.

      But at the same time, you have to judge any movement by the actual facts of what the majority of people who belong to that movement actually support. Kind of like the rhetoric about Islam being a "religion of peace" and mostly not consisting of fundamentalists, which belies actual opinion surveys that state that Muslims in a number of countries support, by a large majority, an Islamic state with harsh punishments for violations of Sharia. With feminism, in some countries (notably the Nordic countries and the UK), typical feminism IS radical feminism. In the US, and to a much lesser extent, Canada, a kind of post-third wave "intersectional" feminism is favored that at least pays lip service to the idea of sex workers rights. But look more closely, and that sentiment doesn't run that deep, and I've found that what most North American feminists really dislike about radical feminism is the blatant and ugly transphobia, but are a bit more standoff-ish when it comes to porn and sex work issues, and are actually very sympathetic with those like "Radtransfem" who combine old school anti-porn radical feminism with a more trans-friendly approach.

      So while sympathizing with the fact that there is a "good" non-authoritarian feminism that deserves support, I can't labor under the illusion that this represents the majority of feminism or that the feminist movement as a whole isn't problematic because the minority of good eggs among them somehow redeem the entire batch.

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    5. Photos uploaded, crappy link is gone.

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  3. II.

    Meghan Murphy's latest disgusting article, to which the author links, is right out of the Dworkin-Dines school (thanks to her degree in Women's Studies from Simon Fraser University, Murphy's a vocal, well-indoctrinated fan of both): it equates NON-consensual behaviors (such as rape) with consensual sex in order to 'demonstrate' that criminalization "works."

    Prohibitionist frauds just love to employ the rape straw man. Like Dines, Murphy says "rape" in one sentence, and then she says "porn/prostitution" in the next -- to quote Penn Jillette, "that's not even an argument; that's bullshit!"

    The only people more contemptible than these intellectually fraudulent prohibitionists are those who suck up to them, promote them, and give them airtime, ostensibly in the name of solidarity. These cowering (often male) frauds, who refer to authoritarian enslavers such as Murphy as friends and even heroes, only care about currying favor for themselves. Their actions presage the brave new authoritarian world envisioned by Murphy et al: an idyll in which emasculated men, like converted ex-individualist women, beg for scraps.

    Women don't need Feminism any more than men need Masculinism. We are all individuals, and groups are not born, they're made -- they are, in actuality, groups of individuals.

    To quote George Carlin, "Somewhere along the way, someone is going to tell you, 'There is no "I" in team.' What you should tell them is, 'Maybe not. But there is an "I" in independence, individuality and integrity.'" For the sake of not only sex workers, and not only women and transgendered people, but for ALL people, ride these authoritarian ideologues out of town on a rail. Their course is charted; steer by your own star.

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    1. I've read Murphy's newest article three times, and each time made me sicker than the last. Thank you for discussing it in more detail than I chose to. Again...I'm getting that familiar feeling of nausea.

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    2. Love this blog! Interesting reply. From what I understand of it, I agree with some of it, but I also disagree with some of it. Personally, I love sex positivity, but I'll leave that for another discussion, because there is a lot more to discuss here!

      Now, I'm no friend of Andrea Dworkin, but I'm probably more sympathetic towards her than most. I'm just not sure that Dworkin presents the idea that equates all intercourse (including consensual sex) with rape. From what I understand, in both her preface to Intercourse, and an interview, Dworkin explicitly denies this claim for a more nuanced view. I would also like to add that Dworkin and MacKinnon don't want to criminalize pornography, simpliciter. What is often ignored is that their push for legislation was for women, if they are harmed by pornography, to be able to seek legal action against producers and distributors. An individual would firstly have to prove that they were harmed by the production or distribution of the pornography, establish that the material in question was pornographic (by their specific definition), and then they could proceed with legal action. Granted, it is pornography defined in a narrow, radical way, but she is particularly interested in the sexual acts done on film that could potentially harm women. I could be wrong here, but wouldn't the "innocent" sexual media not be labelled pornography, and hence avoid the legal repercussions of her legislation?

      Should some women who are harmed by pornography be able to take legal action against producers or distributors? An example where this legislation might be useful is when a boyfriend obtains sexually suggestive materials of their girlfriend, then later, when the relationship goes sour, decides to distribute the materials to a massive audience. This sort of thing happens all the time, there are websites dedicated to this sort of thing, and it is predominantly women who are presented in the stigmatic light with this sort of material. Furthermore, because of the way that gender roles play themselves out, I think it can damage women emotionally, psychologically and physically far more than men. Suppose a woman can successfully prove that she was harmed by the production and distribution of this sort of sexual material, should she be able to take legal action against the producer or distributor (in this case the boyfriend)?

      I also wonder what exactly you mean by "prohibitionist". Dworkin herself made public statements to the effect that she was against a ban on certain pornography based on obscenity laws, after the whole Canadian debacle. All "anti-porn" theorists are certainly not the same, so due diligence may be required to really form an adequate critique of their arguments.

      More importantly, as a feminist, I would add that women do need feminism, and so do men. Without feminists, we would not have sexual harassment policies in the work force; women would not have voting rights; they would be excluded from the work force; we would remain unaware of the subtle nature of rape, sex trafficking and sexual coercion; we would lack a voice against victim blaming and slut shaming. Feminism, by it's philosophical definition, seeks justice for women and to end sexism I'm not sure I explicitly see what is wrong with that. Feminists remind us of the myriad of ways that women are disadvantaged with respect to rights and respect in comparison to men, and they seek to garner some form of equality or justice in response to these disparities. Indeed, we, I, and everyone would be a deeply impoverished without feminism. Wouldn't we?

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    3. I don't know where to begin in critiquing your comment, Ray. You write,

      "Without feminists, we would not have sexual harassment policies in the work force; women would not have voting rights; they would be excluded from the work force; we would remain unaware of the subtle nature of rape, sex trafficking and sexual coercion; we would lack a voice against victim blaming and slut shaming. Feminism, by it's [sic] philosophical definition, seeks justice for women and to end sexism I'm not sure I explicitly see what is wrong with that."

      I could start with the fact that women's suffrage in this country long pre-dates Feminist theory -- and in fact disproves Patriarchy theory: women got the right to vote because men, who then had all voting power (and thus, control of lawmaking) decided that women not having the right to vote was wrong. There was no bloody war in the name of suffrage as there was in the name of, say, colonial independence. Men ceded to women the right to vote BEFORE women had the political muscle to force them to do so.

      Then there's the great triumph of women in the workforce. Did you ever read Gloria Steinem's autobiographies? She reveals that the CIA funded Ms. Magazine. This was the CIA during its black ops heyday of destabilizing nations and governments. This was the same era that Nixon opened up China and sowed the seeds that destroyed the US middle class via the migration of manufacturing jobs overseas.

      I don't know how old you are, Ray, but I'm 45; I remember the push for the Equal Rights Amendment and the ubiqitous advertisements for "Women's Lib." Do you recall who paid for those ads? The Rockefeller Foundation. As in the Rockefeller family. The banking class -- the 1%. The drive to get women into the workforce may not have been so egalitarian after all -- it resulted in the taxing of the 50% of the population who were previously not among the workforce. Today, women too can be sent to foreign lands to participate in wars in search of WMDs that don't exist and which result in untold numbers of deaths. Go Feminism!

      As for the "subtle nature" of rape -- this statement is appalling. Rape is not subtle; it has a definition and words mean things. Rape is not a "sense" of entitlement to women's bodies. Rape is not a feeling; rape is not sex; rape is a deplorable violent crime -- an ACTION -- that is perpetrated upon women, AND men AND transgendered persons. Feminists often pretend this kind of abuse (along with domestiv violence and sexual harassment) is only visited upon women. Rape has been used as a political and military tool since time immemorial to subjugate PEOPLES.

      You write that without Feminism "we would lack a voice against victim blaming and slut shaming." That is a contemptible, arrogant, self-congratulatory viewpoint -- spoken like a true believer. Ethics are not the sole province of righteous feminist saviors. How dare you assume that unless one subscribes to YOUR dogma one is less just, or less concerned with fairness, justice and equality? How dare you? I see as much shaming from so-called feminists as I do from any other group! It's a function of the -ism: if you're not a devoted member of the group, you must be shamed, belittled and dismissed.

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    4. Part I:

      Whoa, Michael! You are a saucy one!

      I’ll attempt to reply, because I think you might misunderstand what I was getting at here. Furthermore, I think I need some clarification on your own position. You write the following:

      “I could start with the fact that women's suffrage in this country long pre-dates Feminist theory -- and in fact disproves Patriarchy theory”

      I’m not really sure I follow how the women’s suffrage movement disproves claims about patriarchy, if anything, the writers and activists in the movement seemed to explicitly confirm this claim (how else could you argue that men have all the voting power and women don’t without a description similar to patriarchy?). But, I digress.

      You seem to suggest that men had power, and gave women the right to vote before women were exercising their own political muscles. Are you essentially saying that feminist activists and women’s rights groups played little to no role in obtaining women’s right to vote? Similarly, are you suggesting that feminist activists (like Betty Friedan) and women’s groups played little to no role in the increasing the numbers of women represented in the workforce? Both Forbes, and the Economist seem to have no problem with crediting the feminist movement as a cause for this phenomenon. So the problem I have is that the significance of feminist movement, women’s rights groups and female advocates seems to be downplayed -if not entirely eliminated- by your account. Unfortunately, I fail to be convinced that this is justified, but maybe you can convince me.

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    5. Part II

      I had suggested that rape can be subtle. I apologize if this statement deeply offended you. I take rape very seriously. You argue that it has a simple definition, and therefore it is not subtle. Certainly I was not implying that there are not many egregious cases of rape, that is very easy to perceive and understand the sort of violation that goes on. Indeed, for the woman, rape can be very egregious, wrong and traumatizing. What I was talking about was rape culture: how it exists, persists and how it goes unchecked in our everyday lives (hence subtle). I also can’t agree with your description of feminists who often claim that rape, domestic violence and sexual harassment are only “visited” on women and not also a violent action done to them. I certainly didn’t make this claim, but I’m interested in which feminists argued this. I may have to write a reply. However, after all of this, maybe I’m just missing the central point you were trying to make.

      Finally, feminists DO offer a voice against victim blaming and slut shaming, don’t they? I’m not sure why you got offended at this claim. When I sit in graduate courses, or attend philosophy conferences, it is the feminists of the group that chime in with how some academic paper decrying women for promiscuity is an example of slut shaming, or how some reactionary article on rape in the media was a case of victim blaming. Furthermore, many of my feminist friends are the ones who find the cold injustice that I face in response to my disability deplorable. I value the contribution of feminists to the intellectual atmosphere that I occupy so much that I readily identify with it. Now, you don’t have to identify with feminism, but I was interested in where you disagreed with it.

      What I tried to suggest is that if we come up with a general description for what feminism is, the closest thing I can come up with is that feminists seek justice for women and the end of sexism. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy also aptly breaks down liberal feminism into two parts: the first is that men and women are entitled to equal rights and respect, and the second is that women are currently disadvantaged with respects to rights and respect, compared to men. I just didn’t see what was wrong with either of the two claims. There’s ample sociological evidence to support the descriptive claim that women are disadvantaged in terms of rights and respect compared to men. And aside from a few minor quibbles with the semantic claims of the normative element, women should be entitled to equal rights and respect as men. Do you disagree with these feminist claims? Or is it simply that some people identify with some form of feminism that you disagree with, and you don't want to be associated with them?

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    6. In what sense does cash make sex that would otherwise not be had 'consensual"? Without the money there would be no sex. How is this consensual? magical capitalism-think here.

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    7. "In what sense does cash make sex that would otherwise not be had 'consensual"? Without the money there would be no sex. How is this consensual?"

      In what sense does cash make a transfer of a loaf of bread that would otherwise not be had 'consensual"? Without the money there would be no bread to eat unless one baked it oneself. How is this consensual?

      Let me explain this so that even a child or a Marxist can understand it: In this example there are two individuals; each wants something and is willing to give something in exchange for it. When these elements align between two (or more) willing individuals, this is called a meeting of the minds. They choose to enter into a transaction that they each feel benefits them (it gives them "the benefit of the bargain"). And when you don't persecute or criminalize the transaction, individuals have the right to enforce their agreement through the law.

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    8. Ray asks, "Are you essentially saying that feminist activists and women’s rights groups played little to no role in obtaining women’s right to vote?" I am saying that Feminism had not yet been cooked up at the time women were battling for the right to vote. This is a matter of historical fact. Women wanted the right, campaigned for it, and men came to agree they deserved it and gave it to them.

      Ray continues, "are you suggesting that feminist activists (like Betty Friedan) and women’s groups played little to no role in the increasing the numbers of women represented in the workforce?" Of course they did, and the "role" they played was either knowingly or unknowingly to the great benefit of the powerful overclass.

      As for why women's suffrage in this country disproves Patriarchy theory, I refer you back to the explanation in my original comment to you -- a historical account whose details fly in the face of any theory which postulates a "class" of people (men or privileged white men) who are predisposed and pre-ordained to subjugate women. Men would NEVER have allowed the women's movement, women's temperance drives, women's suffrage, and women's crusades against prostitution, etc., if they were truly patriarchal oppressors and subjugators. Anyone who believes that bunk clearly has no historical perspective of what systematic oppression and subjugation really looks like.

      As for the emotional and dramatic term"Rape Culture," I'll quote the great writer, Maggie McNeill: "what the radfems call 'rape culture' is actually just culture they dislike."

      Finally, if you seek "a general description of what feminism is," I submit that you should begin with a comment on this page written by a feminist which clearly lays out what it is not:

      "The essence of feminism is not individual self-determination."

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    9. Michael Whiteacre claims, “I am saying that Feminism had not yet been cooked up at the time women were battling for the right to vote. This is a matter of historical fact.” So when was feminism cooked up? To pre-empt the claim that it was “cooked up” in 1982 by Charles Fourier who coined the phrase, I would argue that feminist attitudes, beliefs and actions existed far before we had a linguistic item. Otherwise Olympe de Gouges and John S. Mill were not feminists, and that would be absurd.

      Whiteacre asserts, “Of course they did, and the "role" they played was either knowingly or unknowingly to the great benefit of the powerful overclass.” So what? That doesn’t mean a great many lower class women didn’t benefit from the feminist push to be treated equal in the workforce as well.

      Whiteacre clarifies what he means by “patriarchy theory” and an argument for why women’s suffrage disproves it, “Any theory which postulates a "class" of people (men or privileged white men) who are predisposed and pre-ordained to subjugate women. Men would NEVER have allowed the women's movement, women's temperance drives, women's suffrage, and women's crusades against prostitution, etc., if they were truly patriarchal oppressors and subjugators. Anyone who believes that bunk clearly has no historical perspective”

      This is a strawman to any feminist theory on patriarchy, kind of insulting and historically inaccurate. It suggests feminists hold a fatalist view about men and that patriarchal social conditions are necessary(as opposed to contingent), which couldn’t be farther from the truth.

      Whiteacre’s comments about rape culture emanate from a writer who essentially says that what radfems call “rape culture” is actually just culture they dislike. Now, I’m no radfem, so I’d probably disagree with their description of it. But, I hope you aren’t suggesting that rape culture is a term cooked up by radfems, something that exists in theorist’s minds that is projected on the world, and not an actual social structure. If you are suggesting that, you appear to be negating the SlutWalk and Besharmi Morcha movements, who heavily utilized the concept. Additionally, it seems that there is enough anthropological evidence to suggest that rape cultures exists; there are cultures prone to rape and cultures that are less proned to rape; rape cultures resemble a patriarchal social structure; and we are probably in one (see Sunday, 2003; Benderly, 1987; Lepowsky, 1993).

      You had made a suggestion about what feminism essentially is, and that it essentially is not about individual self-determination. I wonder what you mean here. Are you implying that feminists aren’t concerned about self-governance or autonomy? If you’re saying that, it’s simply not true. John Stuart Mill, is a well known feminist thinker, he wrote the classic “The Subjection of Women” (1869), and happens to be one of the most quoted philosophers on individual autonomy and self governance. Not to mention, we’d have to ignore the large number of feminist philosophers working on the subject of agency and autonomy, and then we’d have to completely ignore second wave feminists who persistently insisted that women should be the ones to make self-governing decisions about their own, individual bodies and reproduction. If we are going to make a general claim about feminists, we will have to look elsewhere.

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    10. Ray, your comments about MacKinnon/Dworkin's anti-porn legislation are highly misleading.

      For a start, providing ways for individuals to sue pornographers was just part of it. The legislation Dworkin promoted also called for the production, sale, exhibition, or distribution of pornographic materials to be banned. While mere possession of pornographic materials wouldn't be prohibited, any distribution or display of those materials would be.

      Their "Antipornography Civil Rights Ordinance" defined porn as inherently being a violation of women's civil rights. Far from limiting that to a narrow and specific definition of pornography (one that would leave less extreme material alone), their definition was so intentionally vague that almost anything sexual could be classed as porn. For example, under their definition anything presenting women as "sexual objects or commodities", "sexually submissive", or "degraded" was considered pornography, and therefore prohibited. These definitions are highly ambiguous, and for many radical feminists would include even the tamest non-nude modelling.

      The scenario you come up with to support this is misleading too. You choose an example of something that's already a court case waiting to happen, namely someone distributing home made sexual materials against the participant's will. In porn, model releases and 18 USC § 2257 records are required to show that the people involved are consenting and working legally.

      MacKinnon/Dworkin's ordinance would have allowed anyone who felt harmed by pornography to sue, even if they hadn't had any involvement in the production of that pornography. An example that Dwokin herself used was that of a women abused by a porn using boyfriend suing both the producers of the porn he watched and the shop where he bought it. That's like a carjacking victim being able to sue the programmers of Grand Theft Auto games and the shops that sell them. I think it says something about the people involved that they saw this as perfectly reasonable.

      The idea that this wasn't an attempt to ban anything resembling pornography is utterly ridiculous. The fact that feminists like Dworkin back then, and Gail Dines today, avoid using words like "prohibition" or "censorship" just shows how disingenuous and dishonest they really are.

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    11. I'll have a more detailed reply to Ray later on, after I return from my travels, but for now I'd like to note that Ray is conflating pre-Feminist thinkers with Feminist thinkers. An influence is neither a founder nor a proponent.

      Calling the influential British philosopher John Stuart Mill a "Feminist" is like calling Thomas Hobbes a "Federalist."

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    12. DK, thanks for this - I figured that I was coming too close to comment hogging elsewhere in these discussions to jump into this one with Ray, but I too found his statements about the Dworkin/MacKinnon law (aka the "Antipornography Civil Rights Ordinance") to be misleading in the extreme. That ordinance did not merely allow porn performers to sue producers if they were harmed in the production of porn. (In fact, they can already do this, like any other worker, albeit, like any form of litigation, it's an expensive and time consuming process for both parties favoring those with the deeper pockets.) The "MacDworkin" proposed ordinance in fact hugely lowered the bar on what would constitute actionable "harm" in lawsuits involving porn, redefining pornography itself as "harm" and allowing lawsuits "in the name of all women" if a woman was so much as offended by the content of a particular piece of pornography.

      The tremendous legal overreach of this ordinance was noted by the courts to be a gross violation of the First Amendment in the Booksellers vs. Hudnut. And yet, Gail Dines keeps floating the idea in interviews, with no mention that this approach has been found unconstitutional in the past. The fact that people like Ray keep peddling this as merely allowing those in the porn industry to sue for harms done shows that they are either grossly misinformed about the true nature of this legislation, or in the business of "selling" the proposed legislation by soft-peddling its larger implications.

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    13. "In what sense does cash make sex that would otherwise not be had 'consensual"? Without the money there would be no sex. How is this consensual? magical capitalism-think here."

      I'll also take this rhetorical question on, even though Michael's response was a good one. From the point of view of sexual consent, even the higher bar of affirmative sexual consent, there is absolutely nothing inherently non-consensual about paying for sex. The payment is simply a *condition* of consent, and if sexual consent is at all a meaningful concept, an individual can put any condition on it they want. Maybe that condition is that the other person is a certain gender, meets a certain level of attractiveness, knows the right rope tricks, has some kind of status or celebrity that one finds impressive, or can pay a set amount of money. You as a third party might not like such conditions much, but when it comes down to it, you're not the one engaging in the act, and hence, it isn't really any of your beeswax. You set your own conditions for consent and don't set it for other people.

      I suppose I should dispel a related myth - the idea that once a customer pays their money, a sex worker has to do anything and everything the customer asks, that they've signed away any and all right to not consent during the time paid. In fact, commercial sexual arrangements are among the most structured and negotiated sexual agreements I know of, and there are in fact far less assumptions about what a sex worker will do than there is with somebody you've picked up at a party. With a pro, you don't so much as kiss unless that's agreed in advance that's part of the package.

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    14. DK: Thank you for your intelligent response. I want to clarify that I am do not hold Dworkin’s or McKinnon’s anti-porn stance, and sometimes I find myself defend people who I vehemently disagree with, because I think people mis-represent them. I suspect that Dworkin, in particular, is frequently misquoted and misunderstood. In particular, she explicitly said she does not define all sex as rape, yet people argue that she does. I also think their legal ordinance is often misunderstood. Yes, it’s wrong and I vehemently disagree with it, but it’s still misunderstood and then that misrepresentation is offhandedly refuted. As a philosopher who is interested in arguments and critical thinking, I dislike this approach and prefer to entertain another position with a charitable ear. Perhaps I was being a little too charitable to them, but my intention was to accurately representing their position, in the strongest way, to tease out the strongest refutation of them. I am still uncertain whether I mislead anyone about their legislation and their intentions.

      DK says: “The legislation Dworkin promoted also called for the production, sale, exhibition, or distribution of pornographic materials to be banned.”

      This seems pretty close to their intention. But, you would have to prove that you have been harmed by the production, sale, exhibition and distribution of the pornographic materials. You're right, mere possession of pornographic materials wouldn’t be prohibited, but many assume that’s what Dworkin was arguing and they throw Dworkin in a
      camp of radfems who do.

      Your critique of the “Antipornography Civil Rights Ordinance” was spot on (or closes enough)! They did define porn as inherently being a violation of women’s civil rights, and this is where I disagree with them. But they seek to have a narrow, specific, legal definition of pornography, and I don’t think their definition was supposed to be INTENTIONALLY vague. Furthermore, I don’t think their definition was meant to suggest that ANYTHING sexual could be classed as porn. Additionally, I doubt they were after an ordinance that implied that the tamest non-nude modelling would legally be porn. But, the critique of their definition containing vague and ambiguous concepts was very apt and there is a very real concern that the definition of porn was too strict.

      The scenario I came up with was not misleading, their ordination did cover defamation though pornography. I don’t know how I mislead people about this. I agree with you, according to Dworkin, another action could be made about assault or physical attack due to pornography. But one thing to keep in mind was that that the physical attack or injury had to be DIRECTLY caused by pornography. I think most radfems have, at best, proven a CORRELATION between attacks and pornography, not a causal relationship (many people watch porn and do not attack their spouse). I also have misgivings about their claim on forcing pornography on a person. However, I still legitimately wondered whether if a woman is harmed by defamation through porn, if they should be able to pursue legal action against the distributors and producer for harm. But, as you aptly point out, it would appear that we already have legislation that could cover those harms, so the ordinance is really unnecessary.

      So I guess after all that, aside from a few quibbles with some minute details, I largely agree with your critique of Dworkin/Mackinnon. At the same time, I don’t think the way I presented their position was egregiously misleading. I had legitimate questions about what exactly people meant by “prohibition”, because some anti-porn radfems, and the positions they defend, may not imply prohibition or censorship simpliciter.

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    15. Ray, I think you're being far too charitable, to the extent that you're whitewashing their anti-porn campaign.

      I'll quote to you the section on "trafficking in pornography" directly from their ordinance:

      "The production, sale, exhibition, or distribution of pornography is discrimination against women by means of trafficking in pornography:

      (1) City, state, and federally funded public libraries or private and public university and college libraries in which pornography is available for study, including on open shelves, shall not be construed to be trafficking in pornography but special display presentations of pornography in said places is sex discrimination.

      (2) The formation of private clubs or associations for purposes of trafficking in pornography is illegal and shall be considered a conspiracy to violate the civil rights of women.

      (3) Any woman has a cause of action hereunder as a woman acting against the subordination of women. Any man or transsexual who alleges injury by pornography in the way women are injured by it shall also have a cause of action."

      It specifically defines "The production, sale, exhibition, or distribution of pornography" as "discrimination against women". It states that merely forming "private clubs or associations" to display or distribute porn would constitute a "conspiracy to violate the civil rights of women" and would therefore be illegal.

      As I read the ordinance, the ability of women to directly sue pornographers/distributors is something separate from that direct criminalisation of "trafficking in porn".

      Their definition of porn is anything but "narrow" or "specific"; if that was the goal of their legal definition then they failed miserably at that task. How much porn doesn't (in the eyes of radical feminists) turn women into sex objects? How is that even to be legally defined and tested for?

      Personally, I don't give them the benefit of the doubt, and I'm convinced that they knew exactly what they were doing. Bear in mind that these are people who were attacking softcore pornography like Playboy as a violation of women's rights, not just the harder material.

      In my opinion Dworkin and MacKinnon back then were no different from the likes of Gail Dines today. Dines concentrates on the most extreme pornography when pushing for censorship, but when it comes to defining the limits, even something like Sports Illustrated is classified as an unacceptably pornographic objectification of women. And that's not my interpretation of Dines' views; she's specifically attacked Sports Illustrated as pornography, and blamed it for causing rape...

      As for the scenario you came up with, I found it misleading because it was such a clear cut case of porn being used to directly harm someone. I felt that you were presenting that example as if it was representative of how the ordinance was intended to be used, when in fact it didn't require those kind of circumstances.

      It's incorrect to say that a woman had to be attacked, defamed, or otherwise directly harmed due to pornography for her to use the ordinance. Under the ordinance, simply feeling that women as a group were "subordinated" by porn would be a valid enough reason to sue pornographers. Proving that case would of course be a different issue, but that's what the ordinance allowed for.

      Part of the punishment that the ordinance prescribed was a "permanent injunction against the sale, exhibition or distribution" of any materials that were felt to contravene it. To me any suggestion that this doesn't represent censorship and prohibition is utterly ridiculous. On this, the courts that declared this ordinance unconstitutional happen to agree with me.

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    17. DK: Thanks for the reply. I readily cede that I could be too charitable, to the extent that I might be whitewashing their anti-porn campaign. But, in my defense, I may be doing so with the intention of understanding them based on what they actually wrote, said and argued. The trafficking section of the ordinance you cited is interesting. According to your interpretation, “the ability of women to directly sue pornographers/distributors is something separate from that direct criminalization of trafficking in porn.” I am not sure. In MacKinnon and Dworkin’s “Pornography and Civil Rights”, the trafficking provision is discussed. In their words, “the trafficking provision makes it possible for any woman to bring a complaint against pornographers for subordinating women..It is definitely necessary for her to prove that the material meets the definition of pornography, for which it is necessary to prove that they do the harm of subordinating women...[it]would provide the opportunity for women to attempt to prove to satisfaction..that there is a direct connection between the pornography and harm to women as a class.” (1988) The two don’t seem as distinct to me.

      I think you and I may be talking past each other about their definition. You claim it’s not “narrow” or “specific”, but misunderstand what I meant by specific and narrow. They define porn as the graphic sexually explicit subordination of women through pictures and/or words. This is meant to be a definition that stands in contrast with a standard obscenity model. MacKinnon also explicitly says, “erotica, defined by distinction as not this, might be premised on sexually explicit materials premised on equality.” It is narrow in the sense that excludes some materials I would call innocent pornography, and as a contributor already stated, it defines pornography as harmful subordination, and ignores or silences the voices of women in porn who claim consent and autonomy. Furthermore, that which is counted as pornography, under this definition, may not be counted as such by a standard account. It is specific in the sense that it was created with a particular special purpose and application in mind.

      I haven’t heard what MacKinnon and Dworkin say about softcore porn. It may not meet their definition of porn, because it is not sexually explicit. I do remember MacKinnon sounding off on Playboy, and she seemed to waffle on whether it fit the definition comfortably.

      The scenario I presented was a clear cut case where the ordination would be used. The ordination specifically says that it can be used by a woman who claims harm via defamation; they talk about it in Pornography and Civil rights to a great extent. That is one kind of action, amongst many, the ordination could be used. Am I wrong about this?

      The case you brought up was another provision of the ordinance: a provision about assault or physical attack due to pornography. Again, I still think that what MacKinnon and Dworkin were after with this legislation is for women who have been harmed by the production and distribution of porn to claim damages. MacKinnon explicitly says this in several interviews and her constant concern is with harm that does (she goes way overboard here). She cites Lovelace as an example of a woman this ordinance could help. The idea behind it, I think, is to recognize the harm that can be done via porn, ensure that producers make porn that doesn’t harm women, and, according to them, give women the power to fight pornography. They argue that criminalizing it, or censoring it, would drive the industry underground and obscure the harm it does. Yes, the courts found it unconstitutional on the grounds that it violated free speech laws. To which, MacKinnon and Dworkin would reply that porn is not speech, but real sex.

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    18. Ray -- so, you believe it because MacKinnon said it (in some interviews).

      LOL okay, then. Good luck with that.

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    19. Michael - Not sure if I believe it. Waffling could mean dishonesty, or genuine uncertainty. I certainly disagree with their stance on porn, so I don't believe it in that sense. This is just what they said and argued. I really don't feel I know them well enough to go beyond that and determine if they were disingenuous. I'm limited to what they said, argued and wrote. The way I presented the MacDworkin rad-fem position, I thought, is a standard way of presenting it: it's what you teach and what I learned in grad school. It's problematic, false and incredibly paternalistic; but it is what it is.

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    21. Michael - About the claim that I conflate pre-feminist thinkers with feminist thinkers, I guess I subscribe to the philosophy that if you write like a feminist, believe the things feminists believe, argue like a feminist, act like a feminist and sound like a feminist...you are probably a feminist.

      Calling John Stuart Mill a feminist seems to me to be more like calling Hobbes an absolutist, which he was. ;)

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    22. Even if one were to accept that construction, that still does not place the feminist movement in the time of Mill. It means merely that soneone who subscribed to theories later found in feminism lived at that time.

      Jimmie Rodgers, "The Singing Brakeman," was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but that doesn't mean that Rock & Roll started in 1928, and it doesn't mean Jimmie was a rocker.

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  4. I agree. I can't stand these "feminists". They are just misogynists pretending to be feminists.

    The essence of true feminism is about a woman's right to make her own choices, whether it be choosing to have children, not have children, using birth control, having an abortion, getting sterilized, wearing makeup or not wearing makeup, going to university, becoming a SAHM, joining the military, becoming a nun, voting, even choosing to provide sexual services for money.

    I'm tired of these "feminists" trying to speak for sex workers, especially since most of them know absolutely nothing about the sex industry and rely on stereotypes. Not all of them are drug addicted alcoholics being beaten up by their pimps, but try telling that to a "feminist"!

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    1. The essence of feminism is not individual self-determination since "individual self determination" is the ideological bedrock of capitalism a system which by many accounts that i'm sure include the writers here is a system based on exploitation. do migrant workers choose to work in conditions of servitude? is that self-determination? If that is not self-determination, how is having unwanted sex for pay (since without the money the same sex would not be had) an example of self-determination?

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    2. Anonymous writes: "The essence of feminism is not individual self-determination." I urge every so-called sex positive feminist to read this again and again until the ugly reality of this statement sinks in. Feminism will never accept your personal choice, your agency or your individuality. Never -- because the very foundation of feminist philosophy does not value the individual.

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    3. Most people wouldn't want to have sex with their partner if they perceived their partner to be unattractive. Without a perceived level of attractiveness, the same sex would not be had. That doesn't make it rape.

      I am an adult woman and I will make my own decisions for me. You don't get to tell other people what they can and can't do with their own bodies. Feminism is about a woman's self-determination. Feminism is about her right to make her own decisions for herself regardless of what others think.

      If feminism isn't about individual self determination, then what is it?

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    4. "The essence of feminism is not individual self-determination since "individual self determination" is the ideological bedrock of capitalism"

      Substitute "Marxism" for "feminism" and you'd have the ideology of the Soviet Union and its offshoots in a nutshell. If THAT is feminism, Anon, then fuck feminism! Of course, I'm sure many feminists subscribe to a more individual rights- and autonomy-friendly version of feminism and would disagree with you vehemently.

      I don't reject feminism on the whole, of course, but I reserve the right to dismiss "feminism" in general when it's defined in the nasty, totalitarian way that the above Anonymous does.

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    5. Well IACB, if "many feminists subscribe to a more individual rights- and autonomy-friendly version of feminism" I'd like to know why they call it "feminism" and why they align themselves with Feminists considering the fact that the philosophy as stated by Anonymous, above, (along with class/group struggle) lies at the heart of all seminal Feminist theory. In Feminism, any woman who varies from the goals of the group/collective by making an unfavored choice has "betrayed" the group. Every shade of Feminism has its no-no list; for some it was choosing to "serve" a man and be "barefoot and pregnant," for others it's choosing to use one's sexuality for profit.

      Believing in autonomy, individuality and self-determination while calling oneself a feminist makes as much sense as believing in entrepreneurship, self-determination, and capitalism while calling oneself a Marxist. I say again, "sex positive femists" are the Log Cabin Republicans of Feminism.

      Why can't we all just be individualists, and believe in liberty and self determination and agency and autonomy? Why does anyone need all this Marxist and authoritarian garbage?

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    6. Que Tran asks, "If feminism isn't about individual self determination, then what is it?"

      It's about group-based dogma which places group values (as defined by the orthodoxy) ABOVE the desires and freedom of the individual. You're born into a class with duties relating to the struggles of that class. Under such a system you are morally obligated to subscribe to a certain ideology. This is also true of Masculinism, religion, and other movements.

      If you want to the right to make your own decisions, guided by your own star, then I suggest a libertarian philosophy might be for you.

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  5. I understand that you want people to see sex work as valid work, but it's hard to take you seriously when you make your case by talking about sex as if it's the same as busing tables at a restaurant. If that's what your sexual experience has been, I think you may be doing something wrong.

    The premises beneath the arguments you often make are not really in line with our human experiences of sex. It seems like you consistently fail to address even the remotest possibility that sexual intimacy between two people IS different than other experiences. Sex is a profound and mysterious part of love and life and humanity, and you write as if going to eat at a restaurant or buying a book are just as deep. Even at their best, getting a pedicure or buying clothes or drinking coffee are not even on same plane as sex, and most anyone who has been in an intimate relationship will agree.

    In order to build an argument that is compelling, you need to be able to acknowledge this reality (some may even call it “spirituality”) of human sexual experience and then still be able to make your case.

    Of course, we so often disagree as to whether or not it is "moral" to have sex with certain others, but that is not my point - I am not talking about the moral right or wrong of sex just now, but simply the fact that sex has a deep internal meaning for most people. Your arguments are often based on the assumption that having sex is the equivalent to any other transaction, when no one I know would describe their sexual experiences that way.

    I also find it way off-base to compare sticking out a tiresome restaurant job to the life of someone who hates their job as a sex worker. Having worked in multiple bad restaurant jobs, I can say with confidence that a bad day busing tables is not even REMOTELY comparable to a bad day in sex work. Busing tables just does not involve something as quintessential to the human experience as sex. It would be much more helpful if you could try to convince me with an argument that actually seems real to human sexual experience.

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    1. I'm discussing sex work, a sexual labor. Yes, I am comparing two types of work. One type of work in which frauds like Murphy feel that it is their duty to SAVE the workers, and another type of labor in which this feminist phenomenon does not happen. You're generalizing YOUR human sexual experience onto others. You're assuming that sex is always intimate, that it serves the same purpose for every participant. I appreciate your OPINION, but it's not relevant to this discussion.

      Although I am curious how you assert that there is no way that a bad day at a restaurant job could be similar to a bad day as a sex worker. I'm assuming you've worked as both a restaurant employee AND sex worker? Otherwise, not sure how you could be so certain. I try to be open though, so I'd like to hear more.

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    2. sex can be just fucking. it can be mind blowing intimacy as well. but when you say this:
      "most anyone who has been in an intimate relationship "

      i do not have intimate emotional and sexual relationships with clients. i have fuck clients. and i have no problem doing that. i would like to ask you though... do one night stands fuck with people's heads? i mean if all sex has some mysterious deep connected intimacy, should't people have confsuing feelings after a hook up? and how is a hook up with a stranger different than a sex worker/client aside from the money changing hands?

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    3. Bravo Nina. Sex can be the same as eating or taking a shit; just satisfying a biological need. Actually, to put it more generally, SEX CAN BE WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU VAGINA WANTS IT TO BE. I have had great sex that I didn't consider to be "intimate." Again, it's not up to other individuals to impose their values on my body.

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    4. Acknowledging that sex is a different kind of experience than work does not necessitate that all sex be spiritual intimacy. Do you think that sex work for you (those here who are advocating that what you do is like any job or at least a form of labor) is part of your "sexuality"? is getting money for sex a form of sexuality? I don't mean to dump on those who sell sex. My issue is with the elephant in the room-- that one portion of the population--men--feel entitled to put women's bodies up for sale, and entitled to use the bodies of another (sub) class of humans--the prostituted class, a sub population of women for their own interests. Are you equating the interests of survival for those who labor, let alone do sex work, the same as the interests of those who have the power and money to purchase that labor/that sex? that's like saying that plantation owners and plantation laborers or--in the past slaves-- are part of the same identity group.

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    5. Do you realize that not everyone attaches emotion to sex? Why else are there so many people who look for casual sex, paid or unpaid?

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  6. Thank you for this! Murphy is an asshole - rude, condescending and hateful towards sex workers. If you want your head to hurt more, check out this commend thread from an article of hers a year ago, where a number of sex workers and allies challenged her and her supporters, only to be met with insults, ridicule, dismissal, misandry, and anti-sex diatribes: http://feministcurrent.com/4346/who-does-decriminalization-leave-out/

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    1. Thank you for saying what I so desperately want to say. I try to be PC on my blog (god only knows why, I mean...look at the title..LOL!) But yes, yes she is a hateful asshole. I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

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  7. Thank you for this. Murphy has also spouted a great deal of trans misogyny and transphobia, particularly via applauding the work of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter. Infuriating.

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    1. Anytime. What she's doing is NOT okay, and it is infuriating. It's disgusting. Thank you for reading!

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  8. Since this article seems to be getting lots of views and attention...I feel compelled to point out the link to the 5th annual Desiree Alliance general fund on the top right of the page!! Please consider donating to this amazing sex work conference, and submit a proposal if you can!!! Make your voice heard :)

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  9. i want to thank you for this amazing article. I am amazed at the following that Megan Murphy has- somewhere between snake oil salesman and tv preacher she has hypnotized an appalling amount of people to agree with her close mined and ridiculous views. I won't write any essays here at this point and time but simply state the following:
    -by bullying and oppressing others into sharing your views, by calling others IDIOTS and only allowing "debates" on your threads that follow YOUR train of thought, by trying to ban some women's source of income (prostitution of various forms, porn of various forms), by further stigmatizing the most "at risk" people in society...... HOW ARE YOU FUCKING HELPING THEM, "SISTER"?
    ....she makes me sick.

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    1. Wow- couldn't agree more and thank you SOO much for sharing this!!! She seeks to oppress others so that she can rise above. She is not a "sister," she's a fraud. Bravo!! God, I love your comment so much that I might quote it on facebook!! It deserves it's own damn article! The outpouring from folks has been incredible.

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  10. i despise people like farley and murphy for the same reason i despise the moral right in this country. they claim there is no war on sex workers, they claim they are only trying to help. ultimately, both sides are full of shit for the same reason. the moral cursaders want to save women from sinful lives with jesus, the feminists want to save women from the patriarchy. both sides assume a) i need saving. b) i am too supid to know what i need. c)because i am too stupid to know what i need, i can't get what i need without their help.
    let me tell you what i do know- i know i have the right to do whatever i fucking please with my vagina. if that involves sex with multiple partners, so be it. if that involves sex with clients, so be it. if that means no sex, that's okay too! because it is my vagina, and i will never take kindly to someone telling me that i am stupid to know how to use my own sexual organs properly. i am not stupid, and i don't need savior. all i need is the same protection from law enforcement and the same respect that other people in society have.

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    1. Well, according to Murphy and the rest of her clan, you're just too stupid to know what you need Nina!

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  11. As an exited woman, former call girl, ex-hooker, whatever title you prefer, I have to say that my experience of the women you are slating in this piece is very different from yours. This is not about conjecture, but about personal contact and interaction with both Melissa Farley and Meghan Murphy. Before, and if I even go into it at all, the talk on research, I am keener to discuss these women’s intentions, which are completely misunderstood. For them, and many others who I hear slated, the perception, or what is put out there as being the perception others have of them, is wholly inaccurate. I have found them to be loving and caring of women in prostitution. They are respectful, they listen to their voices, and they do what they do because of love for women, not hate. There is no moral judgement in why they support abolition - it is about ending violence against women. If someone really hated people in prostitution, they would not spend their time trying to protect them from abuse.

    I have known a great many women, some men, and some transgendered people in prostitution over the years, and apart from one man, who I don’t know whether he did or didn’t suffer rape and/or assault, every single other woman, and the few men and transsexuals I knew, had all been raped and most had also been beaten on jobs as well. Yes, there will be some people in prostitution who have not been raped or beaten. I haven’t met them in person, but I have corresponded with them online, and I am not denying their experience. Of course, there will be some people who are lucky in prostitution, just like there are some people who win the lottery. But most who enter don’t win the lottery, and most in prostitution don’t escape rape and assault. TBC

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    1. I disagree. I don't care how Murphy and Farley pretend to act towards women and sex workers, The fact is that their writing and their "research" (well, Farley's "research" since Meghan isn't a researcher) are flawed, biased, full of stigma and inaccurate information. THAT alone is VERY harmful to the sex worker's rights movement. You can turn a blind eye and say "oh but they're so sweet!" but, that is irrelevant. Completely and utterly irrelevant to this discussion.

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    2. XLondonCallGirl, you have no way of KNOWING what is in their hearts because you do not have sensory powers that I and the rest of us do not have. You merely feel a certain way about them, and place FAITH in them.

      To quote Nietzsche, "A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything."

      While I do not, and would not, attempt to discredit your claimed personal experience, even if it is accurate, it does nothing to nullify the experiences, the agency, and the rights of the many sex workers who oppose being "rescued." Instead, it is the assertions of Farley et al that are nullified by the many accounts of experiences which do not fit the sex work = abuse paradigm.

      Also, I do find it striking that someone with such a dim view of sex work would still self identify as a London Call Girl. It is reminiscent of fable-composer Stella Marr's compulsive need to draw attention to her fabulous decade long career as a Manhattan Call Girl which somehow managed to yield a single corroborating witness.

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    3. By the way, the faulty link is removed and I uploaded screen shots from my conversation with Murphy. Yeah, she's a real peach. Can't back up a single thing she writes.

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    4. Farley and Murphy are nice to those sex workers who's politics happen to align with theirs.* If they don't agree with the party line, any pretense of being "loving and caring" quickly go by the wayside.

      * (And, in spite of rhetoric to the contrary, I think only a small minority of current or former sex workers subscribe to the radical feminist position. I think that's true even among those who didn't exactly have happy experiences in the sex industry, since "abolitionist" politics barely address the actual needs of women who wish to exit and are more about revenge politics toward customers and anybody else who they disagree with.)

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    5. Here's a shining example of Melissa Farley and fellow radfem Nikki Craft's "loving and compassionate" view of sex workers. Posted on Farley's supposedly professional "prostitution research" site, no less:

      http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/WhyIMade.html

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    6. Oh my fucking god. I can't believe I haven't seen this before. I thought I'd already read every piece of garbage on that ridiculous "academic" site of hers, but I had not. Thank you for sharing this. If it wasn't already my goal to academically crush Farley & frauds like her, it is now.

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  12. Part 2: Comparing prostitution to any other job is impossible, because no other job puts you at a 70% chance of being raped multiple times, a 67-68% chance of developing posttraumatic stress disorder, and a very high (some say 95%) chance of ending up with a drug problem. Let alone the increase in the risk of being murdered. These stats show that being in prostitution is like being in a warzone, and even if you disagree with the stats, there are enough exited women sharing this experience for it to be heard directly from them. I am massively insulted that the writer of this piece has compared selling sex, which is a traumatic and dangerous way to earn a living, to being a server and bartender!

    There is a stigma against women, and men, and transgendered people, in prostitution, and it is NOT from these women you are accusing. It is from the ignorant bigots who judge people who sell sex, see us as immoral, fallen women, husband-stealers and corrupters of innocent men. They believe that if we ‘choose’ to get into prostitution, then we deserve what we get, whether that be beatings or rapes, if we disappear or are murdered. These are the people we all need to educate. These are the people who see us as a sub-class of unrapable disposable goods.

    Sadly, after having an article published a few days ago here http://www.litro.co.uk/2013/02/denial-a-former-call-girl-shares-her-story/, which I am sure some of you would rip into from other angles, a woman informed me that I got what I deserved. That I deserved to be raped, to be beaten, and anything else that may have come my way because I ‘chose’ to be a call girl and stole other women’s boyfriends and husbands. This is what needs to be changed in society - sick, perverted opinions of ignorant, hateful people.

    And who stood by me and stuck up for me, not that I can’t stick up for myself, but this stuff really hurts. I know I didn’t deserve to be raped when I was, and I know I didn’t deserve to be beaten, but for someone, even a stranger, to think that I deserved that, it tears at something inside me. I’ve lived with that kind of stigma against me from when I entered prostitution in my early-twenties and when I exited a few years later, the stigma did not leave me, and more than a decade on, here I am still feeling it. And that very same stigma is the one felt by all women, men, and transgendered people, in prostitution and those who are exited. It is something we all share in suffering to varying degrees. So when Meghan told this woman that I did not deserve to be raped because I was prostitute, that I, nor any other woman in prostitution, stole other women’s husbands, and that it is these very attitudes, which prevent women in prostitution reporting rapes against them, it is completely clear that she cares about people in the sex trade, that their welfare and safety is important to her, that they do not deserve to be judged, that they should be able to report crimes committed against them - things that I would hope we all here agree on!

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    1. Yes, I agree completely. Of course sex workers don't deserve to be raped, as no one does. The fact that you're getting all warm and sappy over a hateful fraud telling you the obvious is actually surprising. Only a monster (like the asshole that commented saying that you deserved it) would say such a thing. Wake up.

      Just because Meghan gave you a few kind (and OBVIOUS) words doesn't make her a saint. Have you even read what her and Farley have to say about sex work? THEY are furthering stigma and rape myths. Those very rape myths that you were the target of. How can you not see that? If you want kind words AND truth, stick to those who actually know how to conduct a proper study.

      Additionally, it was my comparison (I'm the writer of this blog) that offended you, sex work and bartending. That was my experience and you cannot tell me that MY experience is wrong. I suppose you could, although that would make you just like the frauds that I seek to expose.

      Can you provide citations for the statistics that you presented? Thanks.

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    2. This is in response to both you and Michael Whiteacre. I am saddened that your brand of sex-positive feminism means speaking in such a condescending manner to someone else who used to sell sex.

      I dislike the attempt made to discredit my truth: "While I do not, and would not, attempt to discredit your claimed personal experience, even if it is accurate," - emphasis on "even if it is accurate" and the word 'claimed'.

      I don't have the energy or the time to copy every condescending comment, but most intelligent people will see them scattered throughout your replies.

      It is telling that when I share from my personal experience, the only question I am asked is about statistics. And contrary to what you may think, considering how you have spoken to me (like I am a child, and a stupid one at that), I am intelligent enough to know it is a waste of my time to tell you the sources because you will tell me they're incorrect.

      99% or more of what I wrote was from myself and not a study. I care about the individuals, not stats of a phenomenon - the actual people are who really matter. They are who is important. From your responses, it is clear that you don't even read my words with a thought in mind that they have come from a real person sharing experiences which have been horrifically painful. Instead, I am a faceless, feelingless nothing. I am not an individual to you, just part of a phenomenon.

      I call myself what I do because that is exactly what I did and mostly, where I did it. Considering that I am in fact a real person, the name I use is a most logical one. Why would I want to separate myself from every other person who has been or is currently in the sex trade? Perhaps you will never feel it, but if you do get out, and you do feel trauma hit you, and you connect with other women who have lived through similar hells, hells that some used to call heaven, then you will know where I am coming from.

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    3. I only speak for myself, not Michael or anyone else in this thread. I don't see how I discounted anything that you said. I am interested in research, and so it seems natural (and very reasonable) that I would ask for a source. I am already quite certain that it's Farley, but I was still curious. Why on earth would someone write all of those stats and not cite it? It was just a simple question that you're now defensive over.

      I didn't say anything that discounted the painful & heartbreaking things that you endured as a sex worker. At least, I don't believe that I did and if I did, I apologize. I don't think I said much of anything about it, actually. I wasn't aware that I had to, as this isn't a counseling website. I read you words, and acknowledged that you did not deserve to be raped, as nobody does. Not sure what you're looking for here...

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    4. For the record, you seem to only be interested in YOUR individual experience, as you've basically discounted the experiences of other sex workers who have had different experiences.

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    5. Oh, and lastly, if you don't care about research and stats then why are you even bothering with them? At least cite the source. Geez. Talk about contradictory.

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    6. sex workers are more likely to be assaulted, raped, etc... because of the stigma surrounding sex work. unfortunately it's a double edged sword for sex workers, because the moral right thinks we are bad and the feminists think we are stupid. so the stigma is everywhere!

      from the murphy article:
      "... understand that choice exists on a spectrum and within a context of inequality and that the sex industry is part of a larger system that sexualizes the oppression of women."
      "extended into an overzealous defense of individual women’s ‘choice’ to objectify themselves. We want so desperately not to be victims that we try to turn oppression into empowerment"

      so if i choose sex work... then i am desperately trying to turn my patriarchal oppression into empowerment? i am very glad someone consulted me (aka the girl too stupid to know she is being oppressed)about what i want, think, and feel. i am glad that these people have so little faith in my ability to make my own choices that they gallantly choose for me. which is kind of weird, because feminists are giving me as little choice about how to run my life as the ever oppressive patriarchy is. so for me, it's 'six of one, half dozen of the other' neither side actually cares enough to listen to what i say, or learn who i am. i am either some slut with no morals, or i am some lost girl who needs rescuing.
      and again sex work, is work. clients are not buying my heart, soul, or me as a person. they are buying a service i provide. and i am offended that the only way to gain respect and be listened to by the feminists is to exit sex work. as long as i want to stay, my opinion is invalidated. so why even bother dismantling the patriarchy if my life won't get better? neither side respects me.

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    7. XLondonCallGirl, You chose to ignore my points and instead take issue with my perceived tone. I think you may be taking my incredulity for condescension.

      As this is a comments section, not a therapy session, I was laboring under the impression we were engaging in a debate over facts and policy. In your initial comments, however, you made claims which are unquestionably non-factual in nature, i.e., you expressed your opinion about the intentions of Farley, Murphy et al. And so I pointed this out. My goal isn't to hurt your feelings, but instead to try and pry verifiable facts out of someone who has essentially come here to grandstand.

      In rational discourse, there is no "my truth" or "your truth," there are only provable facts, opinions/beliefs, errors and lies. That's it. I don't come onto comment threads and expect that people believe me in the absence of supporting evidence; to do so would be irrational and/or arrogant and/or evidence of an authoritarian ideology in which others are not entitled to question the orthodoxy. I am a rational person, therefore I question everything, and no one is above having to prove their point.

      You write, "I am saddened that your brand of sex-positive feminism means speaking in such a condescending manner to someone else who used to sell sex." No, ma'am, you are merely someone who has made the assertion that you used to sell sex. People can lie, people can exaggerate, people can mythify. As commenters on this thread can attest, it wouldn't be the first time. But again, you are deflecting by picking on a side point.

      The heart of my reply comment to you -- which you ignored -- was that any personal experience such as the one you claim does nothing to nullify the experiences, the agency, and the rights of the many sex workers who oppose being "rescued." Instead, it is the assertions of Farley et al that are nullified by the many accounts of experiences which do not fit the sex work = abuse paradigm.

      The remainder of your reply comment is simply another round of conclusory bollocks.

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    8. XLondoncallgirl - While it indeed is out of line to dismiss your experiences, I have to question why you point the finger at your opponents in this argument for doing this, yet give a free pass to people like Meghan Murphy, Melissa Farley, and other "abolitionists" who do exactly the same thing toward those who report more positive experiences in the sex industry. The same rules should apply to everybody across the board, don't you think?

      (Though I will note, it is impossible in most cases to verify the truthfulness of most personal narratives, especially from anonymous voices on the internet. I'll assume good faith and assume you are telling your actual story and telling it accurately, unless I see evidence to the contrary. Perhaps you and the "abolitionists" you're puffing up here would do well to do the same.)

      As for use statistics as opposed to stories/anecdotes from individuals, the answer to that is obvious - *everybody* has stories, but how representative those stories are can only be answered empirically by statistics, and those statistics can only come from research with *valid* methodology. Without those statistics (and in the case of sex workers, there aren't a whole lot of good ones out there), one simply ends up with competing claims of who's story is more representative, and that can be subject to a lot of manipulation. And no, I don't happen to think the truth automatically lies with those who happen to be able to tell the most tragic story.

      Also, saying "no other job puts you at a 70% chance of being raped multiple times, a 67-68% chance of developing posttraumatic stress disorder, and a very high (some say 95%) chance of ending up with a drug problem", followed by "I care about the individuals, not stats of a phenomenon - the actual people are who really matter" is a contradiction on the very face of it. Pick one and stick with it!

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    9. Ya know what, I am going to get a ton of heat for saying this, and I might be wrong, BUT I have a feeling that "London Call Girl" is the same person as "Dublin Call Girl" is the same person as "Stella Marr." I call bullshit on all of this.

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    10. Iamcuriousblue - I don't dismiss anyone's experience out of hand, but after Shelley Lubben, Stella Marr, Theresa Flores et al, I am imbued with a healthy sense of skepticism. When someone couples a lack of verifiable details (or contradictory details) with a healthy dose of grandstanding, I smell a rat.

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    11. MW - I don't want to automatically dismiss those who report less than wonderful experiences in the sex industry any more than I want anyone to automatically dismiss those who report more positive experiences. I try to keep my cognitive biases in check in that regard. That said, I certainly have a healthy skepticism of those figures that the "abolitionist" movement place front and center, especially anonymous figures who only seem to engage when somebody like Dines, Farley, or Murphy are catching flack.

      AG - I too sometimes wonder who the "Survivors Connect" figures really are, but I don't think "London Call Girl" is Stella Marr. Marr has a characteristic space cadet writing style that I don't see in LCG's posts.

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  13. For the record, the blogpost where Murphy tees off on porn is here:

    feministcurrent[dot]com/7229/you-want-proof-that-criminalization-works-look-no-further-than-the-feminist-movement/

    I've deliberately truncated the URL so that no bots or spiders get a hold of it and tip off Meghan's peeps.

    And, Meghan Murphy is simply the latest human form of GenderBorg antiporn/antisexwork "feminist" nonsense that has been proven to be a falsehood and a tool of sexual fascism since Andrea Dworkin broke out that playbook in the 1980's.

    Way to go, AG, for exposing her nonsense.

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    1. Thank you, Anthony. Nonsense it is....and bullshit too.

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  14. Thank you for answering my first question since the link didn't work and thanks for reminding me the Brent piece was there all along. That is still a critique of someone else's work. I'm curious if you would feel like you were up for serious deconstruction or harassment due to the most poorly sourced citation you've ever voiced approval for. (This is not an indictment of Farley, I'll have to read the work for myself.)

    I've read through your experiences, reactions here, and other testimonials from sex work advocates and pro-commercial sex industry lobbyists. I want to be honest with you and try to cut between all of the invective and names being thrown around.

    After the critique of Farley, it has gotten a lot less detailed. It's very hard to get a grip on what you find so noxious about the call for decriminalization models for workers only or the call for abolition in the midst of an economic system that is unfair to all workers for many reasons. (One of the main reasons is the major economic inequality between men and women though.) I think the argument for choice is an easy one for you guys to ignore because you're happy with your sex work. Your critics have a hard time with this, it's a huge issue to them. When you're just attacking a separate author but making Meghan Murphy the object of your fury and people come along to pile on, it's difficult to understand what your actual disagreement is. A lot of times she is being linked or something she or a colleague has done/written is being mentioned...but then there is no actual critique of what is said? You act like every argument is an obvious one from your perspective even though there's still this huge disagreement about "choice" that is never being resolved. All I'm saying is, if it is truly so apparent that Murphy and the "antis" you are writing about are irrational it seems like you could easily deconstruct it for us.

    Otherwise, women like myself who want good, fair conditions for workers AND want to address the numbers of women, men, and children who don't choose to do ____ hours of sex work a week, will have to rely on what we know. Personally, I know two women from either side of my family who were prostituted, both constituted incidents of trafficking too since they one was physically taken against her will and both were drugged, raped, and moved around different apartments during the stints they did in Houston, TX and New Orleans, Louisiana. (I noticed that you had a problem correlating prostitution and trafficking without explanation which is why I mention that.) I still need answers for the people who don't get to choose. No matter what you think about Meghan Murphy's opinion of how you came to your own decisions, she clearly writes about the voiceless and those without choice. This conversation may have made one side feel good but nothing real is happening. Nothing is really being done for a lot of people who can't comment here on the internet. I don't want women to go to jail and I don't want men to be able to buy anyone who doesn't want to be there.

    Please, tear what I wrote apart with rationale and stop with the "nonsense, asshole, hateful, stupid, disgusting", etc. Otherwise, the two sides should just ignore each other entirely and advance their own interests.

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    1. Simple- I'm not writing about sex trafficking, I'm writing about sex work. Unfortunately, Murphy and many others can't seem to keep the two terms straight.

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    2. "I don't want men to be able to buy anyone who doesn't want to be there." I don't either. I'm also against sex trafficking, but again, that's no the topic of this blog.

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    3. I believe you referenced the Swedish model early on in your comment. My problem with it is one that seems obvious to me, and it's this; taking away business and clientele from workers is NOT helpful. The whole "get rid of the demand!" argument is laughable. It's akin to the "war on drugs." It just doesn't work. Imagine having your source of income being criminalized and stripped from you? Does that seem fair to anybody?

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    4. Quite honestly, I really don't know where to begin with your points, Anon, because there are so many wrongful assumptions there, I hardly know where to begin. But let's start with "Meghan Murphy's....clearly writes about the voiceless and those without choice." Well, sorry, but in fact, sex workers, even those who are very marginalized, even those who didn't have a rosy time in the sex industry DO have a voice and really don't need somebody like Murphy speaking for them. In fact, I have to wonder about activists who fetishize the idea of “speaking for the voiceless”, which seems more about the need for a paternalistic relationship toward a weaker group that one can play “savior” toward. It’s a strain of political activism that’s pretty damn problematic, to put it mildly.

      If you wonder why it seems so obvious that people like Murphy are wrong, it is because criminalization of any kind is such a wrongheaded strategy on the very face of it. In your argument, you play the “problematization of ‘choice’” concept like a kind of trump card. I perfectly well understand the conditional nature of choice, actually, and I don’t think it’s the huge game-changer that you seem to think it is. For starters, how is it so different from the conditional nature of choice that most of us experience? Would you like to make any guesses as to how many people would show up for their jobs tomorrow if suddenly nobody was getting paid for their work? Yet the sex industry is treated as somehow wholly different, and if sex workers are at all motivated to do what they do by money, they’re considered victims. In the “abolitionist” script, there’s no consideration for the fact that they might very well be choosing the best option available under their circumstances and that while they might not be exactly “Yay, selling sex today!”, they don’t want that option taken away either.

      And let’s say, for sake of argument, that sex work is largely a shit job done by poor women and that most sex workers would rather be doing something else. How exactly are ‘abolitionists’ like Meghan Murphy helping here? All they offer are a bunch of self-righteous “end demand” platitudes and criminalization strategies against customers. Nothing that offers more options, only ones that take away one of the options those who do sex work have left. So that they can presumably do something they’re even less happy with, like work in a sweatshop (and I’ll note that there are those like Nicholas Kristoff who acknowledge they’re fine with driving women from sex work into sweatshops).
      It seems to me that if the “abolitionists” were really worried about the well-being of those bad-off in prostitution, they’d be doing their damnedest to help offer alternatives and ways out. Ending “demand” would be a complete red herring from that point of view. So why, then, the focus to push the “Nordic model” that offers nothing but criminalization of customers? Not to mention, in practice, “end demand” rhetoric is all too often just a smokescreen for further criminalization of sex workers themselves.

      And the above arguments are going by the working assumption that sex workers by and large don’t want to be sex workers. How much more problematic the whole ‘abolitionist’ argument becomes when one acknowledges that many sex workers are in it even with some fairly good options to choose from, and that more than a few view their work positively and do not wish to be “saved”.

      (cont)

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    5. (cont)

      When one also considers the fact that there’s no necessary conflict between helping find options for sex workers who want to exit and fully decriminalizing the sex industry for those who do want to participate, then decriminalization (and I mean real decriminalization, not the “Nordic model”) of sex work and destigmatization of sex workers is the obvious policy choice to support. It is clearly one issue where the imperative of individual rights and the imperative for social justice are on the same pages. Given that, I have to wonder why anybody in their right mind would oppose such a policy, unless there are other agendas they’re advancing, such as some kind of twisted moralism or a resentment of male sexuality at work.

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  15. "[Murphy] clearly writes about the voiceless and those without choice." Incorrect, she conflates adults exercising agency with victims who have no choice merely because these people are doing something of which she disapproves.

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  16. Enough of the bullshit over who is qualified and who is not. I have a doctorate in sociology from a major U.S. university, I teach research methods at the graduate level, and I am a survivor of sex trafficking. I am a vehement prohibitionist, and my reasons for opposing legalization are completely imbedded in my own experiences in prostitution and the research evidence that my experiences are the norm, not the exception. I have had far too many academics and pseudo-academics expound on some bullshit "we have to allow free expression of sexuality" theory. The primary thing I learned in the life, and in my doctoral program, is that any theory that ignores human experience is useless at best, and profoundly dangerous at worst. The non-survivor voices in this discussion are completely ignoring the experiences of hundreds of survivors who are fighting against the oldest oppression.
    Regarding research, yes, it’s true that Farley's studies have small sample sizes and are based on convenience samples--meaning that she interviewed anyone that showed up. And yes, as research goes, these are relatively weak samples. But, how many of you have ever tried to get more than 20 prostituted people to line up for 2-hour interviews when you cannot pay them for their time because no one is willing to fund the project, and you cannot protect them if their pimp disapproves?
    Farley makes no secret of her sample sizes or her sampling method. The only reason her sampling matters at all is that her findings are not generalizeable to the larger population of women in prostitution. Period. Well, neither are anyone else's in studies of this population. Melissa and I have had our differences and I can't call myself a whole-hearted supporter, but the fact remains that her work is endorsed by every survivor-led organization in the U.S. The key question here is, “Why attack Farley in particular?” Because what she finds confirms what prostitution survivors already know? And, since she has found almost identical patterns in all of her research over many years in many regions of the world, she may have identified global patterns that if we had the data, might actually prove to be generalizeable?
    Regarding the assault on Stella Marr, Stella represents a 90+ member network of long-term sex trade survivors who wholeheartedly support the abolitionist perspective. As a collective group, we have ZERO commercial interest how this all hashes out. All any of us wants is to heal from what has been done to us, and be free from fear and attacks by people who have agendas that either ignore or discount the clear evidence that harm is being done.
    So here’s the question that raises my red flags in reading most of the negative comments on this blog: why in the world would anyone put so much energy into discounting survivor voices? What are you guys afraid of? That begs two other questions. First, how many of you that have been critical of Farley and Stella are or have been pimps/madams that profit/profited from selling other people's sexual activities? If you have pimped out others (including running a escort agency), your opinions on this issue are completely irrelevant, as you have a huge commercial interest in the way the legalization argument plays out. If you are not a present or past pimp or madam, did you actually spend more than a few months in the sex trade? If you had the resources to avoid entering, or were able to exit quickly, then your opinions are also completely irrelevant. You have no clue about the ways that children become trapped in this hell, the severe trauma that comes from being so terrified of your pimp that you are unable to even think about escaping, or how emotions are twisted and distorted in trying to stay in your pimp's good graces.

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    1. "The primary thing I learned in the life, and in my doctoral program, is that any theory that ignores human experience is useless at best, and profoundly dangerous at worst." Precisely. Thank you for explaining exactly why prohibitionists are bullshit. You are ignoring OUR voices as sex workers, the voices that say WE ARE CONSENTING ADULTS AND WE CHOOSE THIS WORK. Again, your argument addresses sex slavery, not sex work. I keep repeating myself, but I guess no one is listening! It's like arguing with a wall, and it's hopeless, at best.

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    2. I can't speak for anyone else here, but I have never worked for an agency or had a pimp or madame.

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    3. I'd love to hear from other sex workers on this thread, although apparently our voices (as usual) are irrelevant. Surprise, surprise..

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    4. First, you clearly have not even read the critiques of Farley's methodology, either the one's made here or elsewhere, because they are not at all about "sample size". Considering Farley's incredibly flawed and biased methodology, sample size doesn't matter - she could be claiming huge statistical significance and it wouldn't matter, because she's cherry-picked her sample and otherwise has zero transparency on how she's translating interviews into data. Garbage in, garbage out, and if you don't understand that, then I have to wonder how much is really behind your PhD.

      You ask why anyone would put energy into discounting "survivor" voices. Well, actually, for my part, I have no interest in discounting anybody, and I think those who have had very negative experiences in the sex industry deserve as much hearing as those who have had positive ones. However, I can't help but notice that the only time "survivors" enter the conversation is to drop out of the sky whenever people like Farley, Murphy, or other "abolitionists", or some of the noxious legislation they advocate, come in for some well-deserved criticism. So it seems that at least this version of the "survivor" movement has a distinct political agenda, and that can't be ignored.

      And of course, you then spout off with a series of groundless and shitty accusations calling your opponents "pimps" of various kinds. Yeah, way to advance dialogue, "survivors". If you really have a problem with "shouting down" and attack rhetoric, perhaps you shouldn't be engaging in it yourself.

      Delete
    5. Yes, if we don't agree with the high and mighty abolitionists, then we are all pimps!!! Either way, our voices are irrelevant, and theirs are law. It seems that the two groups will never see eye to eye, so how about this lovely solution; abolitionists can continue to spin the same old victim narratives, and us whores can keep on selling our cunts for cash. Fair enough?

      Delete
    6. Riiiight, Ms. Pierce. The problem with Melissa Farley is a hell of a lot more than simply her "sample size"; it is the fundamental way she cooks her evidence and throws stats out of her ass to justify her predetermined conclusions about sex workers and their clients. She could have 1,000 PhD's, and still her "research" would be proven to be bogus as all Hell...but I guess that's good enough for abolitionists, isn't it??

      And on this "prostitution survivors" meme: you do know that abolitionists aren't the only ones who leave sex work, right?? I'm guessing that there are thousands of women whom have tried sex work (whether prostitution, on-call escorting, or porn performance), and simply decided it is not for them and dropped out without any undue harm or injury. And then, there are those who do go in, make their money, actually enjoy what they do, and then decide that they've had enough fun and move on to other endeavors. You know, like regular people who decide to move to a different venue or occupation.

      Aren't they as much "prostitution survivors" as those women you so fervently promote?? Oh, wait....those women's experiences don't perfectly match with the horrible Gothic tales of endless rape and sex slavery that abolitionists rely on for their pathos! So...these women are simply erased as not even existing, or, if they are even acknowledged, paid useful idiots of the "pimps".

      And of course, pity us men who attempt to respond with the fact that most clients are motivated to treat their providers fairly (pardon the pun), especially since it's THEM surrendering the money. But, hey....that's just our evil erections talking for us, right, Ms. Pierce??

      [cont'd]

      Delete
    7. [cont'd]

      Also....consider that "Stella Marr" has already been outed and exposed as a hypocritical fraud who still makes money by escorting even as she spouts the usual abolitionist radfem party line. I'd trust her opinions on sex work in the same way I'd trust Shelley Lubben on porn or George Rekkers on homosexuality. Which is to say, I wouldn't trust them worth a mountain of crap.

      Sorry, Ms. Pierce, but the only "assault" that I'm seeing is from the beacons of sunlight exposing the Big Fucking Bullshit Lies that underlay your "abolitionist' anti-sexwork/anti-porn campaign. And yes, ma'am, I'll even go as far as to call your movement antisex, because any movement who would say to a woman that she shouldn't be able to engage in consensual sex with others merely because of personal pique at what they do, is simply one step removed from Religious Right fascism. Either prove me otherwise with actual facts and evidence, or let the shoe fit comfortably and end the denial.

      And BTW..this is MY opinon and MINE alone, not AG's or IACB's or Whiteacre's, however much we may share positions, we are our own individuals. Can your movement say that??

      Delete
    8. "how many of you have ever tried to get more than 20 prostituted people to line up for 2-hour interviews when you cannot pay them for their time because no one is willing to fund the project, and you cannot protect them if their pimp disapproves? "

      lolz because all sex workers have pimps, right? because no sex workers work independently? you seem to suggest there is no difference between choosing sex work, and being trafficked. and you can tell me feminists are on my side all day long, but when their satire includes saying things like " I like getting fucked by the football team, the fraternity brothers, and law students at graduation parties. I realized that gang rape could be a transcendental experience.

      5. I figured that laying on my back and getting fucked by hundreds of men, and getting on my knees and sucking thousands of dicks, was the most profound empowerment a woman could have.
      It's complicated, but I thought that working in the sex industry would increase my self-esteem. It's sort of like saying to the world, "I am the best Grade A ground beef" and being the cow." please forgive me for doubting any of you have my best interest at heart.

      Delete
    9. Can you explain your last paragraph? Because it seems you're saying that you sought your self-esteem from men and I don't find that the slightest bit empowering. The cow analogy threw me off.

      Delete
  17. UPDATE: Rabble, a site that Murphy actually blogs for, has re-posted this article. Murphy responds to the re-post by claiming that I am "obsessed" with her. Hilarity ensues! Susan Davis writes:

    "this is a great piece against abolitionist journalists and shows alot about our resident blogger meghan murphy.
    she has recently published an article in which we equates criminalization of rape as effective with the criminalization of sex work as being potentially effective...
    i don't know where to begin to answer that argument so instead i found this response below"

    No, Meghan, I'm not obsessed wih you, but you offend me and everything that I stand for. Guess your fellow bloggers agree. If you can't take the heat, then don't write bullshit.

    http://rabble.ca/babble/sex-worker-rights/feminism-murphy-and-more-pioneering-sex-worker-advocacy-connecticut

    ReplyDelete
  18. Of course, as IACB, Feminist Whore, and Maggie McNeill can attest to, Meghan Murphy seems to break out the "obsessed" card and throw it at anyone who dares to call out her bullshit. That's standard radfem abolitionist procedure in dealing with facts that don't mesh with their ideology. They are, essentially, the Tea Party of feminism.

    ReplyDelete
  19. As usual, the "consenting adults" card is prominently displayed and portrayed as being representative of the majority of "sex workers." I'm sure there is a population that does correspond to that description, but as a physician and former teenage runaway who saw the seamier side of the life of the streets, who most certainly did not enter "sex work" as a choice, who managed to exit after two years and scrabble my way up to earning an MD and going to work in a clinic for street kids...let me tell you, neither I nor my clients did what we did because we were "consenting adults." Even after we turned 18, we were stuck in "the life" because of drugs, pimps, madams, and mostly, because it was the only way of life we knew. I was rescued, went back out, rescued, went back out...and finally when I was ready to be rescued, I was very grateful that I had a place to go. So many of my friends on the streets either disappeared or OD'd because the life was so crashingly miserable. I don't give a rat's ass about academics and their dreadfully flawed studies (interviewing prostitutes without compensating them? Not gonna happen). Just go out on the streets and look at how happy the faces are.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not all prostitutes/sex workers are streetwalkers. Streetwalking is the most dangerous and risky form of sex work. Please don't conflate streetwalking with all other form.

      If you had a pimp/madam and/or you were drugged, you were not a consenting adult. Don't cloud the issue.

      I doubt that phone sex operators, webcam models such as Aspen Rae, pornstars like Ron Jeremy and Maria Ozawa, high end escorts like Brooke Magnanti are all as miserable and desperate to leave the sex industry.

      Delete
    2. Edit: Well Brooke Magnanti did stop escorting but that was after she earned enough money to complete her doctoral studies.

      Delete
  20. LOL! Did i just read a dude's comment calling Meghan and Andrea Dworkin (who was a Jew) "Fascists?" Brilliant rebuttal! Really addresses Meghan's arguments.

    Enjoy harassing women online by personally attacking them instead of debating them like a grown up. Viva la revolucion!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Although I'm not the one who called them fascists, fascism has nothing to do with religion, genius, and is not synonymous with National Socialism.

      Delete
    2. Ahh, dewd...get your insults straight. I called Murphy and Dworkin "fascists"; not "Nazis". There is a difference.

      And besides the Nazis didn't target just Jews; they also targeted Communists, homosexuals, and the Romani (and ultimately, even those Whites not fervently Nazi enough). Oh, and they also were fervently antiporn, too.

      Delete
    3. And plus...if you aren't able to comprehend the entire comment, or my post at my blog where I respond to Ms. Murphy's "arguments"...well, that's your issue, not mine.

      Delete
    4. Hi, AntiqueLens - Considering Murphy's express lack of willingness to engage in discussion and debate like an adult, you really can't point the finger at her opposition for not engaging with her either. I see you're referring to disagreement and heated debate as "harassment", which isn't exactly a sign of good faith, either.

      As for calling Murphy a "fascist", it's not a "rebuttal" to any particular argument, but I stand by it, and you might do well to do a bit of reading if you think "fascist" is synonymous with "National Socialist" or that Jewish ethnicity would automatically exempt one from being a fascist.

      I use "fascist" here broadly to signify extreme nationalism or identity politics (which, really, is a type of nationalism, even if it might be nationalism around something like gender) combined with authoritarianism, something Meghan Murphy doesn't even try to distance herself from. Which is fine with me, actually - I'm glad she shows the sheer ugliness of her ideology and her manner for the world to see so that people like me can point at it and say "See!"

      Delete
  21. You can lob as many insults as you want at Meghan Murphy but insults do not an argument make.
    If you have issues with Farley's study, that is only *one issue* that Meghan talks about.
    you don't seem to have the courage or critical ability to actually engage with any of Murphy's points save the Farley issue. You're making shit up. Your use of the word "rescue' is a particular way to frame an anti-exploitation movement. Are anti-capitalists on a rescue mission when they want to liberate workers from exploitation? Further if there are *any* women who are in conditions where they can not *exit* a "job" than it would seem to me that rescue is part of liberation--Why are you stigmatizing the word? give me an example of someone's writing that shows that "rescue' is something bad. evidence please.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One problem with that, Katrina: most anticapitalist people I know happen to BE working class folk who don't claim to "rescue" other people from their fate; and they don't dismiss or abandon other working class folk merely because they don't like the latter's personal choices of whom they choose to be with.

      When "rescuing" people amounts to coercing them to join Christian or radfem cults against their will to merely survive, or face the alternative of jail or continued "slavery", then it no longer deserves to be called "rescuing". It deserves to be called by its proper word: betrayal.

      Delete
    2. Katrina, you might consider the reason insults are being hurled at Meghan Murphy is because she's so dreadfully insulting and disrespectful toward anybody who she disagrees with. Respect is a two-way street, don't you think?

      As for "engaging with Murphy's points", what do YOU think are the salient points of Murphy's that haven't been addressed? While you're at it, you might also spell out what "shit" you think is being "made up" here and why it is wrong.

      As for "Are anti-capitalists on a rescue mission when they want to liberate workers from exploitation?", well, actually, I see very few "anti-capitalists" in the so-called "abolitionist" movement in general, and, in any event, there are a lot of ways to be anti-capitalist, some of them extremely totalitarian and damaging, which is where I see the small "left wing" of the "abolitionist" movement coming from.

      And as for what's problematic about "rescue", you might read up on what happened in Cambodia after "abolitionist" group International Justice Mission pressured the government there to adopt raid and rescue tactics - it ended up with a lot of sex workers in jails where they were often assaulted, including sexually. And before you go blaming it on just the evangelicals in the movement, IJM has received nothing but praise from "feminist" groups like Equality Now.

      Delete
  22. There is no point in trying to compare U.S. sex worker statistics vs. statistics from other countries. Here, sex trafficking is far far less of an issue than in other countries. Pimps and madame don't exert the same amount of life or death control here. Stateside, I think the vast majority of sex workers are concerned with being able to earn a living. Which gets directly impeded by not having anywhere to go for help if they might need it,by draconian,obsolete prostitution laws that incarcerate rather than rehabilitate, and a health system that fails sex workers and their caregivers when a worker can't provide truthful information to a health professional without risking arrest or punishment.

    I do feel bad for the people in the industry who have had bad experiences. I personally haven't, nor have the majority of the women I worked with, but Ms. Murphy et.al. wouldn't consider us "representative". I have known people interested in sex work that clearly had no business being there. However, it was not my job to force them out of it. They were adults, and being able to make your own decisions is part of being an adult. Some people love being a sex worker....is it really our place to tell them they cant do a job that they enjoy? Start creating safe havens and transition programs for those who want out, and leave those of us who like our jobs alone.

    ReplyDelete
  23. New developments. http://legalizetoprotect.blogspot.com/2013/02/susan-davis-on-rabble-canada-speaks-out.html

    ReplyDelete
  24. By the way, Meghan writes on her twitter that it's mostly male "friends" of mine commenting here, and that they're likely pimps and johns. Well, sorry gents, but apparently the junk between you legs dictates whether or not you have a legitimate voice here!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Last time I checked,I had a pussy. LOL...and from what I see,you've engaged in a fair debate involving all sides of the issue.

    ReplyDelete
  26. What a total waste of time & energy this whole thread is! AdvocateGrrrl, you "often left work crying, despite the hundreds of dollars that you had made" ??? SERIOUSLY?? But you find having sex with guys who possibly don't shower, maybe don't brush their teeth, might weigh 300lbs....(you get what I'm saying) a FUN job???

    I'm one of those (apparently very unliked by some of you), Activists working as hard as I can to end Sex Trafficking. AdvocateGrrrl, why are you complaining about people talking about Trafficking when YOU are the one that brought it up in your "blog"?

    I don't judge sex-workers & I don't judge Trafficking Victims. I'm the last person that should be judging anyone. I don't try to convert anybody into anything. I'm just trying to help Trafficked Victims because my heart hurts very badly for them.

    I don't "follow" or "friend" anybody that I feel is being judgemental...or that I just plain don't like. If you don't like Meghan (I don't know her) don't follow her. Kind of a simple solution, huh?

    Sex workers should take some of their thousands of dollars that they make each night and donate to groups that have built (or are trying to build)Rescue Homes for Sex-Trafficked women & children. Because if there's one thing we can all AGREE on it's that no person should be FORCED to have sex!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhhh, Anon?? Who the HELL are you to think you can define AG's experiences for her?? You say that you don't want to judge sex workers, yet you spend almost your entire comment trashing AG and other sex worker advocates for even speaking out against Murphy's slanders....because you think she's "helpng" sex trafficking victims???

      Actually, sex worker advocates do indeed make legitimate attempts to aid those who are trapped in coercive and unwanted trafficking situations. What they won't and don't do is impose arbitrary religious or moral purity tests as conditions for help. How many of those "rescue" groups can say that, if I may ask??

      The notion that those who oppose abolitionism or "rescue" don't care about coercive sex work or simple don't want to end illegal sex trafficking is simply a red herring, and easily disproven by fact. There is a fundamental difference between targeting abusive and coercive sex trafficking (and non-sexual human trafficking as well), and simply wiping all sex work off the face of the earth. The problem with Meghan Murphy and the rest of the abolitionists is that they are incapable of seeing the difference....or simply don't want to, because they are so obsessed with their male castration fantasies.

      If you think that this is all a waste of time...well, you chose to read and respond. AG just wrote the post.

      Delete
    2. Just ignore and "don't follow" people who are actively campaigning to drive you out of business and into prison -- what a great solution!

      Is cleaning toilets a "FUN job"? Do you think Gail Dines' maids love their job? Do you think they'd do it for free?

      Delete
  27. Just three stray thoughts here, as I'm joining this discussion rather late.

    (1) Some people here seem angrily to insist that sex work is horrible, and that any attempt to make it seem like a choice simply ignores empirical reality. I think everyone here can acknowledge that there is a LOT that is horrible about sex work--BUT, where there seems to be disagreement is about what CAUSES sex work to be so horrible. It seems clear to me from my own research that what is horrible about sex work--the likelihood of being raped or beaten by clients or pimps, for example--is directly attributable to the CRIMINALIZATION of sex work. The prohibition on sex work--as well as just general cultural disapproval--gives power to pimps, means that sex workers have fewer ways to seek redress for wrongs, makes police and judges less likely to believe them when they claim they were raped, etc. It stands to reason, then, that if you want to help sex workers, the way to do it is not with MORE criminalization, but rather the opposite: do away with the prohibitions, destroy the power of pimps, punish officials who do not take sex worker claims seriously, allow sex workers to unionize and pursue criminal and civil claims against those who violate their rights, etc. That seems to me to be the obvious way to help them.

    (2) Another familiar complaint against the pro-sexwork position is that sexworkers would not voluntarily do what they do, but for the fact that they need money. Yes, I agree that is frequently the case. That's also the case with just about EVERY job. How many people would voluntarily go to work at Taco Bell, or some stultifying assembly line, if they didn't need the money? The fact is that MOST work is done ONLY because the worker needs money. To conclude from that premise that, therefore, we should ban all those forms of work, would just be absurd. So why should that argument fly in the case of sex work?

    (3) Michael Whiteacre drew a connection between anti-sexwork feminism and marxism. To be sure, MacKinnon drew from Marx a lot. I would like to suggest, though, that Marx is a very useful theoretical voice for PRO-sexwork voices. I would suggest that, in a very real way, sex work--from prostituion to pornography--is precisely an example of a form of production that does NOT fall neatly into a capitalist form, from Marx's point of view. That is to say: For Marx, the essence of a capitalist mode of production is that there is a small group of people who OWN the means of production, and a large group of people who therefore have no choice but to sell their labor power in order to gain access to those means of production. Now, in sex work, the question might properly arise: WHAT are the means of production there, and who owns them? No matter how you define them, it seems clear that it is NOT the case that some small monied group owns them. No, the workers themselves own the means of production--their bodies, their skills, etc. Even in porn, where the means of production include things like camera equipment, lights, a computer for editing, etc., there is still no small group of people that has exclusive ownership of such things. Pretty much anyone who can save up a couple thousand dollars can acquire them and begin producing porn. What Marx saw as the fundamental aspect of the capital relation--the fact that the capitalist has *exclusive* ownership over the means of production and the worker has no way to access them--simply does not obtain in sex work. And I think that is one way we can rightly champion sex work: as a form of production that actually challenges the typical capitalist form.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let me respond to your excellent comment with an anecdote: in the former Soviet Union, there were (at least for a significant period of time) no laws against prostitution. Do you know why? Simply because sex work was seen as a result of, and only of, capitalist self-determination of the kind decried by a Marxist feminist in this thread, thus it could not exist in a socialist state.

      Now, obviously, prostitution was rampant in the Soviet Union, (as it had been in the pre-revolution "Yellow Ticket" era), but to even acknowledge its existence -- the TRUTH of its existence -- by simply having laws on the books addressing it would be to admit the fallacious philosophical underpinnings of Marxism, socialism, etc....

      Delete
    2. Anonymous - Just to interject here, I think by the definition you're using, pretty much any kind of self-employment situation where one has control of the actual means of production would fall outside of the capitalist mode of production. And while I certainly have no beef with that kind of smallholder capitalism, I'm pretty sure Marx's view was that this was either incipient or even pre-capitalism, and that this mode of production and the petit bourgeoisie who carried it out would inevitably be swept away by advanced capitalism (which would in turn be overturned by socialism in Marx's scheme). In other words, Marx didn't exactly take a friendly view of the smallholder or independent entrepreneur.

      Of course, I don't share this judgement, but it is worth looking at the position of the players in the porn industry from the point of view of view of economic structure, if not "Marxism" per se. If you view the porn industry through that lens, indeed, there is a preponderance of independent performers and small producers through the industry, but if you look at who's making the big money, it's really the middlemen - those making money off of ads, distribution, and page hits - rather than the performers and direct producers of content.

      (Apologies for the digression from the main topic.)

      Delete
    3. Marx made clear that little enclaves of handicraft modes of production and cottage industries could always exist alongside or within a capitalist system--they are not simply pre-capitalist, but can just as easily be grasped as harbingers of future modes of production where workers retained control over productive means, etc. The dialectic for Marx means being able to see both the good and the bad in such things, never just a simple "Oh that's just bad capital again"...

      And yes, a small business where workers retain control over means of production--or at least have just as free access to them as anyone else--WOULD be an example of a business that falls outside of the essential germ of capitalist production. Though it's not as easy to think of such lines of work as you might assume... The adult industry and sex work of various types are some of the few industries where workers are not *structurally* excluded from the means of production...

      Delete
    4. How generous of Marx to allow "little enclaves of handicraft modes of production and cottage industries." *Golf clap*

      Delete
    5. I don't really understand your response--his point was that capital has a tendency to coopt every corner of an economy, and that it's not an easy matter to escape capitalist structures. Marx doesn't "allow" them--capital just isn't able to coopt them. Small enclaves are often the only possibility for escaping the capital relation as such. Which is why, when we do see an industry thriving which seems to avoid the essential traits of the capital relation, we should be eager to champion it. Just another reason to champion sex work.

      Delete
    6. Yes, Marxism views and valuates every aspect of society in economic terms, and yes it constitutes an interesting theoretical device.

      Delete
  28. Yes of course, though it should be said that there are precious few economic or marxist theorists who claim that the former Soviet Union was actually practicing true marxism, lol. At the very least it should be noted that Soviet style "marxism" was quite a far cry from what Marx actually wrote.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True, but I see the same brand of denialism of inconvenient truths in Marxists today. It is ubiquitous.

      Delete
    2. At any rate, I'm really only talking about Marx and Marx's work--the actual texts, his actual philosophy, what he actually wrote. The former Soviet Union has no ownership over those, lol. Marx is a great resource for those of us who support sex workers' rights--no reason to eschew that body of work root and branch.

      Delete
    3. I agree that it can be an interesting theoretical and analytical tool, yes, in terms of abstract principles. I welcome a discussion of sex worker rights as seen through any theoretical prism.

      Delete
    4. Unless one is coming from a distinctly authoritarian approach, and I have BIG problems with Murphy and company in that regard, it's all good to me where various people are coming from in terms of broad political ideology.

      Delete
  29. A good example of a marxist theorist who DOES struggle desperately with sex work, trying valiantly to show how prostitution is actually secretly capitalist, is Andre Gorz. He fails miserably. He gets himself into a dilemma: a masseuse also uses his own body and his skills to give another body pleasure, and no one would suggest that THAT work is inherently wrong or immoral, right? So how is prostitution inherently different? His attempt to distinguish them--that a masseuse's work has a legitimate medical objective--is of course laughable and silly. But that's the best he can do. I think we know better.

    ReplyDelete
  30. A few Anonymous' here so I'll go by Anon. @AnthonyKennerson WHAT??? I didn't trash anybody. Are you nuts? And I didn't say a word about Murphy helping or not helping Trafficking Victims. Where did you get that?? I SAID, I DON'T KNOW MURPHY.
    The reason I read the post is because a friend wanted me to, she wanted my opinion.

    @MichaelWhiteacre I don't know a single fellow activist that wants to see sex workers put in jail. And no, cleaning toilets isn't fun. Been there, done that. But seriously, working at a bar, making "hundreds" of dollars a night would be a LOT of fun for me. I'm a very friendly out-going person.

    Frankly I find that whole story of crying while making hundreds at a bar....and then becoming a sex-worker & loving it, very hard to believe. Much like AG's feelings that she posted: "London Call Girl" is the same person as "Dublin Call Girl" is the same person as "Stella Marr,"
    I call bullshit on the sobbing story.

    BTW, I forgot to mention, in my earlier post, I don't care about sex-workers & I've never claimed to. I care about Sex Trafficking VICTIMS. And I don't preach God to anybody. You people must search for that specific type of activist. The activists that I work with don't even talk about sex-workers, let alone trying to make them "find God".

    I don't have time for this silliness, so I won't be back. But again let me leave with the suggestion that all sex-workers take a few bucks out of the hundreds of dollars they make each night & donate to Rescue Homes for Sex Trafficked Victims. Nobody seemed to agree with my statement that nobody should ever be FORCED to have sex. Y'all worry too much about people you don't like.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Wow. I hit a nerve by saying that comments from any of the pro-legalization folks who have profited by selling others for sex are irrelevant, because anyone that does that has a commercial interest in how this whole thing works out. I made no accusations and called no one a pimp, but because out-of-proportion outrage, I'll ask now: How many of you have been owners or "managers" selling the sexual activity of other people?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not I, although the idiocy of claiming that an experienced point of view is per se "irrelevant" because of a financial interest is stunning. Would you say the same of those who owe their living to the "rescue industry" or prohibionist groups?

      Intellegent people sitting on juries are asked every day to balance different elements to gauge the credibility of testimony. They don't need to be protected from testimony by not hearing it because someone thinks it's biased. Prohibitionists sure seem to go out of their way to silence opposing voices.

      Moreover, a solid argument is a solid argument regardless of who makes it. Same goes for bullshit arguments of the type prohibitionists have made repeatedly, here and elsewhere.

      Delete
    2. Nice try again, Sandi....but I've never been either a "pimp" or a client, since my meager salary and work schedule won't even allow me the time or money to "buy" someone for a night of sex. Plus, why pay for sex when by just treating a woman with respect and admiration, she might allow you into her panties for free?? So, you can just return that bad joker card back to the bottom of the deck.

      But, even if I had even once used sex work services, it still wouldn't justify your smear of all who partake such services as "sex slavers", since you forget that unlike actual slaves, women who offer sexual services legally are actually PAID, and paid well, for the use of their bodies for mutual pleasure. Some may not be paid enough for what they offer; but that is a different issue.

      Secondly, Sandi....you seem to have a BIG issue with lack of comprehension. Merely having a financial interest in profiting from a service does NOT inherently make that service illegitimate or the argument for legalizing that service inherently bogus. Based on that illogic, you could say that Gail Dines and Melissa Farley and the "rescue" groups profit just as much from illegal sex trafficking as any client or "pimp", since they make plenty of personal profit from their crusades to banish sex work.

      Let me repeat for your benefit, Sandi: people who mistreat or exploit sex workers or who illegally involve underage workers or who coerce people to do sex work against their stated will should be fully punished to the fullest extent of the law. Those who don't, should not be scapegoated and punished for the crimes of the few who do. That's not apologizing for "sexual slavery", Sandi..that's common sense. You and your allies might want to get some of that.

      Delete
  32. Responding now to Anon:

    @AnthonyKennerson WHAT??? I didn't trash anybody. Are you nuts? And I didn't say a word about Murphy helping or not helping Trafficking Victims. Where did you get that?? I SAID, I DON'T KNOW MURPHY.
    The reason I read the post is because a friend wanted me to, she wanted my opinion.

    OK...so what do you call this, then?

    What a total waste of time & energy this whole thread is! AdvocateGrrrl, you "often left work crying, despite the hundreds of dollars that you had made" ??? SERIOUSLY?? But you find having sex with guys who possibly don't shower, maybe don't brush their teeth, might weigh 300lbs....(you get what I'm saying) a FUN job???

    I'm one of those (apparently very unliked by some of you), Activists working as hard as I can to end Sex Trafficking. AdvocateGrrrl, why are you complaining about people talking about Trafficking when YOU are the one that brought it up in your "blog"?

    That, madame, is what most people would call "trashing". And, saying that AG is "complaining about people talking about Trafficking" is nothing less than an inplicit endorsement of Meghan Murphy, since the latter is the main subject of this blog post. (BTW...putting the word "blog" in airquotes is also a sign of insult, too.)

    Also...for someone who says they don't know Meghan Murphy or "Stella Marr", you sure find some creative ways of giving them support by attacking her critics and challenging sex workers to support their causes. You can call BS on AG's charges? Two can play at that game.

    Next time, Anon, try engaging with the people instead of inventing strawmen to burn.

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  33. Everyone is opposed to trafficking. Trafficking by definition involves egregious criminal activity--kidnapping, slavery, etc.

    What makes "activists" like Murphy so gross is that they make virtually no attempt to distinguish trafficking from other forms of sex work. They just lump them all together as though they were all the same thing.

    MacKinnon does this too--in her writing she will sweep from some truly horrible story about a woman being raped and eaten by a deranged attacker, to an ordinary everyday porn shoot--as though these two incidents are wholly identical. They are not--and by failing to make distinctions like that MacKinnon (and Murphy) only end up hurting the credibility of feminism more generally.

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  34. Indeed, saying "rape" in one sentence and then saying "porn" in the next is not an argument. This is the level of intellectual dishonesty which drives Feminist activism.

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  35. I'm a sex worker too and I don't want any of this shit, on either side, done in the name of "protecting" me.

    Meghan's argument is dumb: if criminalization worked, why does rape still happen all the time? Why are those who are criminalized more vulnerable to all this "illegal" violence? Why are cops such notorious rapists and domestic abusers? Criminalization doesn't work and anyone advocating it in any form is not my ally.

    But what does this thread accomplish, except to help Meghan make her case that the only argument for decriminalization is an anti-feminist libertarian one.

    Clients' right to express their sexuality, if only they can afford it? Fuck that shit, dude. Just send me a check. I don't really want to fuck you. (And it's not cause they're dirty and 300lbs, Anon, you fatphobic asshole... it's cause I don't want to fuck them, period.)

    Management's right to make a buck? Fuck that shit too. The entire labor movement is about pushing back against management rights. If you want to make a buck, you can take it up the ass like the rest of us.

    Yeah I want decriminalization and for Melissa Farley to drop off the earth. But I don't need the "protection" of libertarians and bosses any more than I need the "protection" of the recuse industry.

    ~Actual Feminists are Way Meaner than Lil' Meghan Murphy

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    1. Bravo!!! This is one of my favorite comments on the thread. I have been MIA from this for a couple days, mostly because I'm tired/burnt out and have been working a lot. I'm glad and grateful to see such a rich discussion going on here, but I have to admit that I love this particular comment!
      AG

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    2. AG, while obviously I agree that sex workers are THE essential voices in this debate, I'm flabbergasted that you would write that you so "love" a comment which ignores every critique in this thread, while making up phony critiques to rail against.

      To the anonymous "Actual" / Mean Feminist: Where do I EVER write that the goal or intent is to "protect" sex workers? This is a ridiculous and illogical assertion. The entire priniciple behind libertarianism is that the individual knows best, and should decide for themself. The foundation of this reasoning is that human beings own their own bodies and that the right to do as they will with their bodies and their lives -- their right of self determination -- is a fundamental human right. This is not protectionist, it is liberationist. In reality, group-think ideologies such as Feminism, which, as a Feminist's comments above make clear, oppose self-determination (because one might make a personal choice of which the group's leaders don't approve), constitute protectionism at its worst: they infantilize members, deny autonomy, and offer to shield them from eternal dangers.

      Unfortunately, I see no indication that anonymous is interested in debate. Instead she has come to build straw men in order to burn them down.

      First there's the claim that a libertarian approach defends "Clients' right to express their sexuality," which is little more than the old ugly libel that self-proclaimed allies of sex workers (and of women) are nothing more than schemers who wish to secure a free flow of women for their use and subjugation. What a pathetic, hateful and demeaning "us vs. them" view of humanity is created by group-based ideology. It refuses to even consider the possibility that, as human beings, we're all in this together. It denies the essential truth that a system which treats any person or group unequally is an unjust system and that any person of sound mind and good conscience should object to it.

      Another of Anonymous' manufactured critiques decries the defense of "Management's right to make a buck" -- which is also not mentioned anywhere in this comment thread. Despite the reference to the labor movement's struggle against oppressive management (yet another nod to the Marxist group/class struggle foundation of Feminism), in actuality this is the classic "pimps and oppressors" argument; that any philosophy outside of Feminism is designed to sustain Patriarchal subjugation, and therefore should be dismissed without consideration. This sham argument is similar to the "self-proclaimed allies only want access to pussy" bunk, in that a dark motive is assumed which reinforces the notion of group struggle and distrust of anyone outside the group.

      Anonymous links "bosses" and "libertarians" in the way Dines, MacKinnon and Farley link "rape" and "porn": by interjecting a theme which elicits easy support into the argument, and then placing it beside the target of their bile.

      I repeat the criticism offered by Mr. Jillette: "That's not even an argument; that's bullshit."

      BUT, even if it were true that a libertarian approach, while ensuring sex workers' right to ply their trade legally, would as a byproduct also allow their clients' right to express their sexuality, and protect the rights of legitimate bosses -- why would that be objectionable? What would be wrong with a result in which everyone's rights are guaranteed and protected? How would sex workers be harmed by this result? Is Anonymous suggesting that a result which only helps sex workers is preferable to one which elevates everyone?

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    3. As for anonymous' boast that she is an "Actual Feminist" who is "Way Meaner than Lil' Meghan Murphy":

      Mean (adjective)

      1 : lacking distinction

      2 : lacking in mental : dull

      3 a : of poor shabby inferior quality or status
      b : worthy of little regard : contemptible —often used in negative constructions as a term of praise

      4 : lacking dignity or honor : base

      5 a : penurious, stingy
      b : characterized by selfishness or malice
      c : causing trouble or bother : vexatious

      Well, if the shoe fits...

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    4. Whatevs, dude. Bend over: I wanna extract some surplus value.

      ~Marxist-Feminist Whore, Both Vexatious and Malicious

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    5. Whoa- that escalated quickly. Although I enjoyed you first comment (well, parts of it) and was glad to see some actual sex worker voices on the thread (other than my own and a couple others), I am extremely disgusted and appalled by you reaction. How dare you tell someone to "bend over," do you think a man could get away with saying that to a woman on this thread, or elsewhere? Absolutely not. He would be burned at the stake. Your gender and your status as a sex worker does NOT give you the right to act however you please, and especially not in this space. While I'm personally not too invested or interested in the political debates happening here, I will not tolerate comments that are threatening, forceful, and sexualized in nature such as "bend over."

      Being malicious and angry is nothing to be proud of, and it does not add to this thread. I ask you to kindly contribute in a way that is useful, or to exit this space. Of course, you will likely tell me to "fuck off," and I'm okay with that too.

      AG.

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    6. To the anonymous "Marxist-Feminist Whore": No thanks, Comrade.

      And of course, Feminism has NOTHING to do with being anti-male or promoting the emasculation of men! That's just a myth...

      Once again, no answers to questions, no reasoned debate, only insults and dismissiveness. From an anonymous keyboard warrior, to boot.

      Sex workers: these intellectual frauds think they speak for you, and assume that you need them to represent your best interests.

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    7. Nah, I'm fine with that. I can't say I go in for your take on gender parity, though (I think men get away with a lot more than rhetorical play on who actually does sexual labor and who gets to profit off others' labor).

      My problem is with neoliberals who attach themselves to sex workers' rights to advance their own cause of pretending sexism, racism and class don't exist. The individual is everything, right? Wrong. They put "worker" in "sex worker" for a reason. There's nothing wrong with being angry. There is a lot to be angry about.

      All of these discussions they want to have about the evils of feminism are just more labor extracted from sex workers, for someone else's good.

      And sex work advocacy needs to be just a bit "base," don't you think? (I hadn't given any thought to how great a word "mean" is, but I'm totally loving it now.) We're not the lowest of the low for nothing, and it doesn't serve us to try to assimilate into the middle-class sensibilities of the liberal society that put us there. (The current status of prostitutes was founded within and to support classic liberal ideology.)

      ~Trolling Was More Fun

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    8. The term "sex worker" was coined by the great Carol Leigh in the late 1970s. If you believe she did do "To advance [her] own cause of pretending sexism, racism and class don't exist" then you are, by definition, disconnected from reality.

      I must thank you for your latest genre/class war missive, my anonymous Comrade; you're doing more to prove my points than a hundred essays could do.

      MW ~ I am Godzilla, trolls are Japan

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  36. Oh, honey, no. You are the neoliberal, armed with some men's rights rhetoric gleaned from Youtube videos, who has attached yourself to and twisted sex workers' rights to advance your own anti-feminist, individualist cause.

    Carol Leigh is a sex worker, who damn well did put "worker" in the term for a reason. Sex positivity and sex radicalism are feminist and queer philosophies invented in the 80s by folks like Carol Leigh, Carol Queen, Lynn Comella, and Gayle Rubin. The bulk of sex worker activism has been and is done by feminists.

    What so emasculating about getting pegged, anyway? Receptive anal intercourse is a fine, noble passtime and form of labour for a great many men. (And what do you really lose, if feminists are trying to make you less masculine?)

    ~I Like Lizards Too

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. More "us vs. them" bunk, more insults, more faulty assumptions, more missing the point entirely, more refusal to address a single argument -- more bullshit from the same bullshitter.

      And, I'm not your "honey."

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    3. I ask this rhetorically, because I don't expect you can come up with a logical answer, but how exactly can a anti-group ideology libertarian also spout "men's rights" rhetoric? Where, exactly, is this rhetoric in my comments?

      And furthermore, why should anyone attach any value to the commentary of an anonymous troll who claims to be a sex worker, and who also admits to taking pleasure in malice and anger? Funny how, as IACB noted, you angry little trolls always descend from the sky like flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz to deride and dismiss opposing voices.

      I'm laughing at you, troll.

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    4. Sweetiebear, I just very specifically addressed your argument that what you have to say aligns with Carol Leigh's invention and use of the term "sex worker," and thus is not a co-option of sex workers' rights for your own anti-feminist ends.

      I have addressed your argument by disagreeing with it. One would hope that I do make a very convincing case that what I believe differs from what you believe, beginning with the notion of individual agency and responsibility (that's why I keep associating your ideas with liberalism). I am happy to make that case for you.

      When you attach sex workers' rights to your ideas about individualism, you are distoring both the history and the current practice of a movement based not in liberalism, but in sex-positive feminism. I see little difference between your use of sex workers as pawns in your anti-feminist agenda and someone like Meghan Murphy's use of sex workers as pawns in her pro-criminalization agenda. (And the difference I do see is that Meghan at least wants to address structural inequality, even if she's going about it wrongly. If ever I was in real trouble and had no other choices about who to call, I would definitely call Meghan before anyone who considered herself a libertarian.)


      ~Cool With Scat, But It'll Cost You Extra

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  37. Aw, why'd you delete the one calling me a turd? Now I'm just up in here advertising scat fetishes like I had a fucking hankering or something.

    Phrases like "intellectual fraud" and "feminist group think" are pretty regularly leveraged by men's rights promotion materials as vague-but-scary labels to throw at feminism. My apologies if you came up with them all by yourself, but if being associated with that group is a problem for you, you might consider rephrasing your ideas so you aren't using the exact same words.

    ~Well, Now I Kinda Do Have A Hankering

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    1. The phrases, "Hello, how are you?" and "Make that a Diet Coke" are likely used by members of men's rights groups as well, but that does not make them proprietary to such groups.

      AG refers fo Murphy as an "intellectual fraud" as well; does that place her in MRA territory? Furthermore I also rail against "masculinism" and all group think ideologies, rendering your comment utter nonsense.

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    2. Oh no. Absolutely not. I won't tolerate anymore of this, "anonymous." You must be embarrassed to even tag a name to your bullshit. Comments back on moderation because I won't have this disrespectful garbage on my site.

      Delete
  38. Okay I don't have time to moderate each comment, but in an effort to lessen nonsense & insults, I've changed the settings so that only registered users can comment.

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  39. Hey AdvocateGrrrl,

    This might not be relevant, but you might enjoy an article by Barbara Sullivan called "Rape, Prostitution and Consent". As I was reading it, I thought it would be right up your ally. Basically Sullivan argues that it was once commonly held that sex workers always consent to sex, and thus incapable of being raped. This attitude lead to it being very difficult for sex workers to pursue legal action when they were, in fact, raped. However, Sullivan notes a change (partly because of law reform and certain feminist activists) where men began to be prosecuted and convicted for raping sex workers. The social attitude that is responsible for the change was that sex workers were vulnerable to rape, and could give and withhold sexual consent. She uses this idea to criticize the conceptualization of sex work (most notably prostitution) as always involving rape, and argues that the attitudinal change needs to be taken seriously so that law and policy addressed to the sex industry enlarges (not reduces or constrain) the making of sex workers as subjects with consensual capacity. I find it hard to disagree with Sullivan; so Murphy nearly equating sex work to rape could be more dangerous to sex workers than she even realizes.

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  41. I have read Farley and the critiques of her work.

    I may never be able to buy sex again with the misgivings I have since reading the prostitutionresearch.com site. I cant help thinking that I was psychologically harming the girls that Mamasan directed to have sex with me. There was no concept of enthusiastic consent there, they were simply following their bosses instruction. Under these conditions, Farley would suggest that I was harming them, she may even go so far as to suggest that I was raping them, a suggestion that I now tend to accept.

    Your critique does not put my mind at ease. I need good quality academic research that shows that prostitution is NOT inherently harmful, even under the conditions where the woman is bossed around or bullied by a Mamasan, brothel operator or pimp.

    Has any such study ever been done?
    Where could I get my hands on a copy?

    Note: The research needs to be global in scope, not confined to Nevada or to only one country or prostitution venue, since my previous (mis)adventures spanned the globe.

    Any ideas?

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