Christina Hoff Sommers, for example, claims that in the US women have achieved ‘equality of opportunity’ and that anything further is an attempt to rig up some sort of ‘equality of outcome’. She focuses quite a bit on educational opportunities, gender quotas, female centered programs and the like, saying that because men and women are different and make different choices so much effort is an attempt to encourage women into fields they may not be interested in.
I’m not even going to bother arguing that topic, but what I will say is this: When it comes to the ability to earn an income women can never be considered to have achieved ‘equality of opportunity’ in a country where prostitution is in any way criminalized. CHS and her ‘gender feminist’ counterparts can argue all they want about the importance of ‘equal gender representation’ on academic panels, and on those panels they can argue all they want about how much women earn in comparison to men and how that effects that status of women, but until they recognize that the criminalization of either the buying or selling of sexual services is inherently discriminatory against women they just sound like a bunch of self-interested privileged hypocrites to me.
Examining some radical feminist tactics of intimidation, silencing, and bullying:
Jill wrote a blog post titled Supporting Sex Workers’ Rights, Opposing the Buying of Sex. Reading it, I once again did that thing where I start arguing with an online article in my head, and then I realized this is blogging material. So here you go:
I am an anti-sex-trafficking feminist. I think sex work is incredibly problematic. And I also support the rights of sex workers.
There are a few groups, generally speaking, that follow / subscribe to my various social media stuff. There are MRAs, Anti-Feminists, Feminists, Sex Workers & Advocates and I think those groups are mostly in equal parts, and there is some cross-over as well. Lots of them are atheists, which of course is becoming quite fashionable these days, but there are of course some cool non-atheists in there too. I dunno, I’m pretty mad at religion, but I understand faith, so I guess that’s where all the atheists come from, but I try not to be too rude about that stuff most of the time. … there are a few anarchist-types too, and they seem pretty dang cool… Anyway…
It’s really the MRA/Antifeminists vs. Feminists that get me, that scare me. These are two groups that generally don’t like each other, to put it mildly. There is so much stuff that I want to say, almost need to say, but I know it’s just gonna be hell to pay from both sides here. So just wanted to let y’all know that you scare the fuck right outta me. Not good for bizness. Lol Prostitute humor. The sex worker types? They fucking rock and you should all pay more attention to them, they know some serious shit.
This was part of a longer entry from a couple years ago, for some reason I’ve decided to repost it with some cleaned up formatting. When I wrote it, I was mostly imagining the ~Responder as being Catharine MacKinnon. :D
Dialogue’n yer ass:
The hypocrisy is that women have a right to autonomy – except the intersected sexual and economical autonomy that is prostitution.
And that’s FEMINISTS saying that?! Wha?! How does that make sense?
~Because it hurts women.
~Trains men to expect sex.
What? You mean trains them to pay for sex?
~No it trains them to take it.
Wait. What? but….
~Yes, they get used to just being able to go have sex whenever they want to.
And that’s bad for who?
~It’s bad for women.
~All women, everywhere.
~Because it trains men to think they are entitled to sex.
Oh. But wait, I’m still confused…
~That’s what they do, they confuse you. They are smart that way.
Ah. I was thinking it was YOU that was trying to confuse me….
~I only want to help you understand. Even you do not really do these, we call them ‘performances’, because you want to do them, you think you do because it’s natural for you to want attention or to be loved or valued, but men, this male culture of ours, has so convinced you that the only way – or the easiest way – to do it is by using your sexuality. It’s what we’ve all been taught. But, you see, because it’s been going on for so long, when you reward men with your sexual performance, it re-inforces the culture that allows them to do that, you reward them for their hard work of training women to use their sexuality to gain approval. Women are starting to wake up and notice this.
Ok, well, that actually makes a lot of sense…
4 months later…
Ok, ummmm, remember you were saying how we’re all trained?
~Yes, yes, have you been noticing it now?
I sure have, all over the place. But…
~It’s overwhelming isn’t it?
Quite. But… I still don’t really understand how prostitution is the same thing as being convinced to perform, really, I mean don’t they want to perform for the money?
~Well, of course, it’s for the money. How sad is that though? Why should a woman be reduced to selling sex to earn money? If she had another way to earn money, wouldn’t she choose that?
Eh, well, it’s a lot of money though, for the time you put in… I don’t think there are many other jobs that pay that much…
~You can’t measure it in time put in, you have to also measure it in psychological trauma, and wear and tear to the body, and you have to remember that so many of these women are terribly abused, and no amount of money can be worth that price.
Sounds terrible, put that way – but is it really like that? how do you know they get abused?
~We’ve done the research, almost all of them have been abused, or they have drug addictions that their pimps take advantage of, and most of them tell us they’ve been raped – these are the things these women tell us.
Well, I actually know a prostitute, not very well, but she never seemed like she had those problems, and I know she doesn’t have a pimp….
~She’s very lucky then. Many women who were abused as children seem as if they’ve dealt with the trauma just fine, until you realize that they are selling themselves to the highest bidder like a piece of meat.
Hey now, I’m pretty sure she wasn’t abused when she was a kid, I know about her life, just not her life as a prostitute…
~Do you think she would want to talk about it with you? Culture teaches women to be ashamed about their sexuality, so they learn to not complain about their victimization at the hands of men, especially their fathers.
Well, yeah, I guess you’re right about that…
Hi, remember me?
~I sure do.
I talked to my friend, and told her what you said and she got kinda mad about it. She said she wasn’t abused, and even if she had been it wouldn’t mean she sells it because she’s all trauma’d out and stuff.
~Hmm. Like I said, she’s very lucky. It’s rare, but the stereotype is true every now and then, that prostituted women have chosen to do that to themselves.
~Well, we find it helps to get the message across that these women are victims, not criminals, they haven’t chosen that life.
But she chose it, she says…
~It’s really a choice out of no choice, nobody would choose it if there was a better option.
I see. But… well, nevermind…. I wonder though, besides if prostitutes get abused or do drugs, how does that make men get used to expecting sex? Or however it was you put it?
~Well, think about pornography, which is just prostitution on film -
oh, ok -
~Pornography effects many many women, the men, they watch it, and bring those attitudes into the bedroom they share with women like you and me, and they impose those pornography promoted behaviors onto us, in the way they demand lingerie, make-up, even the sex acts they see in pornos.
Yeah, my guy sometimes asks “why don’t you do this or that” it’s annoying…
~See, that is a real problem, it effects us all, average women, women who didn’t make the choice to do pornography, women who have worked hard to be taken seriously for their accomplishments, and we are made to feel as if the most important thing, or the only thing that matters is whether or not we are sexually appealing.
Ok, so yeah, I get that, but what sort of guys are you with that they don’t just respect your wishes, if you tell him not to expect you to be a porn star because you’re not a porn star, if they keep hassling you, they are jerks and you should tell them to scram, right? If he demands porny stuff, you demand respect.
~Ha! You’re quite a dreamer! That’s back to the basic problem – we can’t demand respect, because he can just go out and find a prostituted woman and buy the right to use her any way he wants to.
Ha! well you’re a dreamer too if you think men get to do ‘whatever they want’ even with a prostitute.
~They can. There is no denying that – a man can go out and find a woman who will do anything for him for a sum of money – he can find a child to buy if that’s what he wants to have sex with.
Wow. That’s not even remotely the same thing. A guy going out and finding someone willing to give him a blowjob and he’s willing to give her some money, it doesn’t have anything to do with children.
~You think you can seperate the two things? You can’t it’s all sex, sex that men feel entitled too… The same thing that enables a man to go out and buy a woman for sex, enables him to buy a child.
But what thing is that – what “enables” it?
~The cultural attitude that he can. The attitude that it’s just “no big deal” if a man is able to buy sex, or rape a woman, or beat a woman.
What? How can you conflate all those things? And the way you say it, as if everyone already agrees with you? I don’t think buying sex is the same as rape, or abuse, or even buying children for sex.
~Well, it’s not the same really, it’s more of a cause.
Holy shit. Wait, so my friend, who chose to make money this way, for whatever reason – let’s says she’s out of her mind on crack even – that her choice out of no choice to do that causes rape and abuse and child rape too? Lady, you are cruisin’ for a bruisin’.
~Please I don’t appreciate your threats.
~Your threats of physical violence, that you want to bruise me.
Yeah, um, that was pretty much a joke.
~Ah yes, a joke. I’m willing to engage with you, but I won’t put up with threats of violence. I’ve been threatened by people who don’t like what I say for years already.
Well, that might have something to do with your criteria.
~It’s rape culture that creates the criteria, this attitude that violence is ok.
I don’t think violence is ok, but neither is saying that prostitution is the same as rape, or causes rape, or any of the horrible things you said.
~I agree. They are horrible things to say. And to hear, the truth is always hard to hear.
Oh you are good. – It’s not true, I don’t believe it. It doesn’t make sense.
~It’s difficult to come to terms with, it’s such a huge problem that it’s easier to pretend it doesn’t exist.
I say I don’t believe it, you don’t bother asking me why, you just explain to me why I don’t believe it? That it’s hard to deal with? That I’m pretending?
~Well, there isn’t any other plausible reason for it.
Reason for what, even – rape? rape-culture? men expecting, feeling entitled to sex? – you’re accusation that I am “pretending IT doesn’t exist” – what is the “it” there?
~Women’s oppression, all the ways that they are oppressed is the “it” there.
So, prostitution causes women’s oppression?
~In a way yes, it re-inforces it, promotes it, and we won’t be able to liberate women from oppression – truly liberate them – until all the things that promote their oppression are stopped. Ended. Destroyed. Abolished.
Yes, well, that was actually a lot of nothing that you just said there.
~What about it was “nothing”? The idea that women shouldn’t be oppressed? The idea that women being oppressed is unstoppable or natural or “god’s will” or some such other patriarchal nonsense like that.
It’s hard to keep up with you, you know.
~I’ve been told that before – but it’s only that I’ve been working against that oppression for so long, I know the arguments by heart
Who uses the “god’s will” argument to defend prostitution? God’s will types are against prostitution too.
~True, it’s one of the few things they got right. God’s will types think that women’s oppression is “god’s will” not specifically that prostitution is god’s will
I still don’t understand what is supposed to be the cause of it though, of any of it, what makes rape and abuse happen then?
~It’s a cultural conditioning, that tells men it’s ok to take sex, and tells women not to complain about it.
But why? Who first decided to do that? Did men just one day decide to rape all the women and lock us up in a room and we’re all just descendants with stockholm syndrome handed down from our mothers?
~In a way, yes.
What do you MEAN “in a way”? In what way? And why, in ‘that’ way, or in any way? Why did men originally “want” to oppress women?
Ed Brayton published a post, those of you who’ve been following this have probably already read it, and in it he said:
And can we stop all this nonsense about “radical feminism”? There really is such a thing and it is embodied by folks like Andrea Dworkin, second wave feminists who are anti-sex, anti-porn, anti-prostitution. Does that really accurately describe pro-sex feminists like Ophelia, Stephanie, Jen, Greta and Rebecca? If you really think that Rebecca Watson or any of the others he names hates men, you cannot possibly have met them.
First of all, it’s not all about men, you know. Particularly not when you want to invoke the ‘not anti-porn or anti-prostitution’ defense. But, in more detail:
And can we stop all this nonsense about “radical feminism”?
No. Not just yet.
There really is such a thing and it is embodied by folks like Andrea Dworkin, second wave feminists who are anti-sex, anti-porn, anti-prostitution.
Um, Andrea Dworkin probably wouldn’t like you calling her anti-sex. The ‘anti-sex’ accusation is a gross oversimplification of complex critiques/analyses of sexual power dynamics.
Ed doesn’t seem to understand much about radical feminism. There is more to it than just having some sort of blatant ‘anti-porn, anti-prostitution’ stance. He doesn’t seem to understand that the ‘rape culture’ theory and the ‘patriarchy theory’ – in particular the way these concepts are talked about and used by his feminist friends these days – those theories are the foundations of much of the anti-porn and anti-prostitution positions and are radical feminist in origin.
Does that really accurately describe pro-sex feminists like Ophelia, Stephanie, Jen, Greta and Rebecca?”
Greta – is the most ‘not anti-prostitution’ of the bunch. She’s a former sex worker herself and she came out swinging during the Tasleema Nasrin sex slavery thing, but other than that she hasn’t written anything about sex work issues in a long time. What she does write isn’t really about the current policy issues, some that are urgent, that sex workers are trying to address. It’s ironic that Greta has ignored the end demand statutes considering I’ve read things from her that were very pro-client. She doesn’t seem to have noticed that clients are being criminalized all over the place. I’ve never even seen her tweet or even RT anything about any of the legislative battles that have been waged in regards to prostitution in recent years.
Jen – Well she wrote a post making fun of the anti-porn people once, so there’s that. And she once wrote a post about how Belle Du Jour turned out to be a – gasp – scientist. In that post Jen said her position on prostitution was that it should be ‘legalized, regulated, with background and std checks’ – which, um, ok, is technically ‘not anti-prostitution’ but it’s definitely not a ‘pro-sex worker’ stance. I’m not even sure who is supposed to be getting the background and std checks? The clients or the workers? I have a feeling she was thinking ‘the workers’ because that’s what everybody always says. It’s more the sort of stance that some MRAs have, actually. Her main concern though was that the whole Dr. Brooke Magnanti thing might reflect badly on other ‘women scientists’. Dr Magnanti, btw, is still out there fighting the actual anti-prostitution movement. As for Jen, other than those couple of posts I haven’t seen her do or say anything in reference to these issues.
Rebecca – She also has not actually said much of anything about these issues. She used to have those ‘bordello’ parties at conventions?… It was really just an appropriation of the prostitute identity, meanwhile she did nothing to raise awareness of sex work or ‘not anti-prostitution’ issues/stances, and she hasn’t since from what I’ve seen. I can only remember seeing one or two threads ever on skepchick about prostitution/porn and one I remember was about whether you can do that stuff and be a ‘feminist’, – nothing she’s ever written/published has addressed the real policy related issues. I’ve seen more on skepchick that helps the anti-prostitution positions actually…. Sure she did the pseudo-nude calendar thing, but has since learned the error of her ways and says she thinks that women should not do such things. She’s similar to Jen with boobquake here – basically, these women did something a tad risque and when people used it against them they turned tail and ran right over to the ‘I learned my lesson, other women who do such things just don’t understand the real risks!’ position.
Ophelia – Pretty sure she is actually anti-porn and anti-prostitution. She’s pretty slick about it, and I’ve never seen her blatantly admit it, but she’s said/written lots of things that add up to enough that it makes it clear to me. It’s too many things to even try to list. There was even a thread on the Atheism+ forum where people had noticed her ‘anti-sex positive feminism’ rhetoric. And she lets her commenters attack sex workers on her threads without ever seeming to notice or care. It’s ironic here because Ophelia herself seems very concerned about what other people allow on their own comment threads.
Stephanie – I tried to introduce a document about the problematic anti-trafficking legislation during a discussion of ‘gender feminist vs equity feminist solutions’ (I didn’t choose that terminology, mind you) on her blog and it was ignored. Stephanie has no interest in these issues and so when I finally got her attention she ends up basically telling me ‘gee criminalization doesn’t seem to help but this conversation isn’t really about that’ – even though the conversation actually was specifically about, and inviting, criticisms of ‘gender feminist solutions’. She might not think ‘criminalization’ makes things better but she, like everybody else, has not once written anything about the nitty-gritty-it’s-happening-now movement of further criminalization.
None of these women, or PZ, Ed or any of the rest them have done, said, written, tweeted, mentioned, or seemed to notice at all any of the ‘not anti-prostitution’ issues happening out there. None of them mentioned the International AIDS Conference or the sex worker protests that were happening, just as a small example, and that was huge news in the ‘not anti-prostitution’ circles I run in. It’s all so ironic considering the huge influence of religion in regards to these issues, and considering how much money religions make with the anti-porn anti-prostitution movements, and how they use that money to spread intolerance of all kinds across the globe. You’d think such dedicated ‘pro-sex feminists’ would care about these things.
Just saying, for people who want to use the “we’re not anti-prostitution” defense they sure don’t seem interested in speaking out against the actual anti-prostitution movement.
ETA: Here’s a video I made a couple months ago covering some of the things I mentioned above:
“If you drive it underground so no one can find it, it wouldn’t survive.” - Rhoda Grant, 2012
In many ways, Dana fits the profile. She’s a twentysomething woman with a drug addiction. She was abused in childhood and her partner is occasionally violent towards her. They’re in and out of homeless accommodation, and she works on the street to fund both their habits.