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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Susan Davis on Rabble Canada Speaks Out

The article that I posted a couple of days ago about Meghan Murphy and other abolitionists has received A LOT of attention, from both sides. Last night, I noticed that I was getting traffic from Rabble Canada, a site that Murphy blogs for. She also has a podcast on Rabble, so I followed the link and found that the traffic was coming from the sex work message board on Rabble. Susan Davis re-posted my article on the page, which sparked more controversy, also leading Murphy to assert that I have an "unhealthy obsession" with her. This gave me the greatest laugh over the last two days! The egocentric and continually self-obsessed Murphy assumes that anyone who disagrees with her is in fact "obsessed." Another typical effort from the anti-sex work camp to trivialize our voices. Anyways, you can see all of that here: Rabble Message Board
I was touched by one of Susan's comments, and with her permission, have re-posted it here. Well done, Susan! Also, thank you for sharing my writing and spreading our message. xo
"As a sex worker there seems to be some lack of balance here on rabble. i just mean that while this forum is great and honestly i don't mind people reacting here and discussing these issues but for me it is every day, i am a sex worker.
i have never said that all sex work is safe, wonderful and fulfilling or that violence doesn't happen. i have been a full time support worker for free with no back up or infrastructure for years. i have heard of and experienced violence.
my issue is with the constant belittling of my fellow sex workers in the name of saving us. why can't abolitionists as feminists listen to us and hear all sides. why when faced with a different perspective is the reaction to dismiss? why is citing a "researcher" whose credibility is in question deemed ok? it wasn't good enough for the supreme court but its ok for abolitionists?
we are told that there is no war but yet here we are again. why can't sex workers speak for themselves and why is it that only the perspective of those workers whose experiences mirror what people expect to hear is believed?
i don't understand how such a slanted perspective can be the only actual "staff" journalism on this issue. where is the feminist columnist/journalist who is/was a sex worker? where is the balance between the exposure the 2 positions receive?
the terms seem to create an environment where balance and unbiased journalism allow people to decide for themselves which perspective/outcome/appropriate action they support.
the voices of actual sex workers should be at the forefront of this discussion and should include diverse perspectives to ensure Canadians have a clear understanding of the decisions looming on the horizon. if that perspective does not come forward, the right thing to do would be to seek it out to ensure that balance of information is available to people who care about this issue.
already on the prairies municipalities are taking action changing by-laws and creating all kinds of ridiculous and dangerous rules. why? because abolitionists are funded like crazy to spread their message. where is the support for sex workers to do them same?
forced registration, fining for non compliance, arrest and detention during registration, forced information sessions containing all of the usual rhetoric (its like they copied john school) the worst of that session is the "how to save your money" portion put on by the bank, they're not above selling us mutual funds even though we're down trodden, victim's of our own self delusions...oh yeah and human this the desired affect? is this what abolitionists wanted? because here it is. thanks a lot, we really appreciate your enabling of police violence against us....oh, you didn't know that was happening? you didn't mean for that to happen?
the question is will any of you do anything to stop it? will you accept that this is a direct result of only one perspective being heard?
you say i am slanderous, you say you mostly support an abolitionist stance, you say you want balance on issues on rabble....
its a little hard to believe when it seems that the reigning opinion here is against us.
will rabble hire a feminist sex worker journalist? will rabble bring balance to this discussion which affects me and my entire community every single day?
here' a story for you, some contrast to the violence described be clear this is not diminish the experiences described but to try to balance views on our daily lives.
a friend of mine was visiting from Edmonton where she has moved to take care of an aging regular client who can no longer take care of himself. this man had been her friend for a long time prior to his health crisis and so she went ot visit him in the care home where he lived. he wept when he saw her and began to describe the horrible treatment he was receiving from the care givers...not changing his diaper, one bath a week, very little food, no human interaction...
she was moved and totally upset and so removed him immediately....legally...but as immediately as possible... she has since been taking care of him ....for no money.....that's money whatsoever....
she shared pictured of him smiling in a bubble bath with candles all around him....
is this guy a criminal rapist? was he ever?
how can in this day and age our society paint a situation with only one brush? where is the support for sex workers who like their work to be heard? when do we get understand that we need to hear from all sides to ensure we stabilize the safety of people working in the sex industry. when will abolitionists recognize the impact they have on our safety?
will you ever listen to us?"

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"

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