by Furry Girl
As it says in the header of my blog, my political philosophy is informed primarily by Patrick Swayze's character in Roadhouse: "I want you to be nice until it's time to not be nice."
There are two types of "politically-engaged" people: those who are concerned with reality, and those who are concerned with theory, and rarely the twain shall meet. There are those who work hard, with what they have, in the here and now, to make the world a slightly less shitty place. Then there's the theory camp, which likes to hem and haw about "what ifs", focusing on keeping their educated analyses in a consistent and tidy spreadsheet. They criticize and dismiss the works of the reality camp as not being perfect enough, while they themselves contribute nothing but armchair commentary about how things should be done. I despise the theory class with every fiber of my being. Always have, always will.
I've been sitting back and waiting to post about the final nails in the coffin of "Alexa di Carlo". While I doubt the saga is complete, I've decided it's time to write something about the whole thing before the sex blogging community forgets and goes back to busying themselves with writing sex toy reviews. Plenty of other people have written pieces rehashing what's happened, so check out these select bits of commentary by Expose A Bro (the kick-off post that details all the information of the outing), Charlie Glickman, Belle de Jour, The Sexademic, Miss Maggie Mayhem.
The dirty laundry in a nutshell: "Alexa" was the name of a fake escort who gave bad/dangerous sex advice on "her" blog, The Real Princess Diaries. "Alexa" pretended to be an academic, stole photos from real sex workers and passed them off as herself, mocked and harassed sexuality activists, and was generally know for churning out poor-quality erotica about her adventures, which read like the cliche and misinformed fantasies of a man who wished he was a sexy woman. "Alexa" also had another online persona, "Caitlain", that hit on underage teenagers, tried to get them to tell her in graphic detail about their sex lives, and even solicited and received nude photos from these minors. But the infodump doesn't stop there - when "Alexa" was outed as being a frumpy dude in Delaware named Pat Bohannan, another secret scam was revealed his photo began to circulate. "Alexa" was privately coaching newbie sex workers and other women to try out her favorite and most trusted client client, Pat Bohannan. Collecting underage porn and convincing women to enter prostitution are both prosecutable crimes, and apparently, the guy has been reported to law enforcement.
As a community, many people came forward and offered their little puzzle pieces of information on the guy, and the picture formed was that of a devoted sexual predator - whose online web of deception and law-breaking was halted by the transparent collaboration of many sex bloggers, sex educators, sex workers, academics, and youth. I can't think of a better example of what sex workers are always telling the world - it is those within sex worker communities who are in the best place to identify the truly dangerous criminals.
What I want to draw your attention to is not the "Alexa"/"Caitlain"/Pat clusterfuck itself, but the reactions to it, and how it reinforces all the things that I loathe about political discussions and how we react to anger, especially when it's coming from women.
As this all unraveled, the internet was quick to explode in commentary. While many noted people wrote smart things about the messy, awful situation, every two-bit sex blogger from here to Kansas was also chomping at the bit to get their own post online to offer some contrarian counter-point in a desperate attempt to get traffic. Many such commenters have been pushing a nonsensical slippery slope angle. There's been a lot of babble about the horrors of "vigilant justice", and comparisons have been made to "witch hunts", "lynchings", and "unthinking angry mobs."
I'm an antiauthoritarian, and so as far as I'm concerned, "the justice system" and "the police" are simply vigilante justice implemented and accepted by majority rule. I'll assign my opinion on acts of either "law enforcement" or "vigilantism" on a case-by-case basis. "Vigilantism" is an accusation I've seen commonly used by a majority to dismiss efforts on behalf of the marginalized (or those who perceive themselves to be marginalized) to actualize their own immediate self-defense and self-offense, often after being failed by official systems.
Vigilantism (and by extension, all controversial methods of creating change or redressing grievances) is neither ethical nor unethical as a whole - is it a tactic, not a philosophy. For example, would I consider it an ethical response to break someone's legs for cutting in line at the grocery store? Of course not, but that is not because I believe that violence is always wrong. When a friend of mine once happened upon a gay-bashing and intervened by assaulting the attackers, I thought that was awesome. This doesn't mean I think that breaking people's noses is always the best solution to every problem, but violent bigots are rarely compelled to stop through means other than a violent response. Politically-engaged people seem to have the darnedest time wrestling with these issues of tactical dogmatism.
Outing and publicly shaming someone is a tactic, and one that I personally think was ethically correct in the "Alexa" situation, because it was a case of a persistent sexual predator who was causing harm to people - most obviously, the women he tricked into having sex with him, and teens who felt violated by sending him nude photos of themselves. Various people have tried other methods of ridding the community of "Alexa"/"Caitlain" for years. He was able to persist because of shame and silence, and his complete public outing shattered his power. I remain in agreement with Dan Savage's take on similar matters. To paraphrase: outings are brutal, and must be reserved only for brutes.
There's this idea floated by people are who not terribly mentally sophisticated that if the sexuality community supports a "vigilante" outing of this one man, no matter how vile or illegal they admit his behavior to be, then the community surely has opened itself up to being obligated to support all outings of all people in all instances. This is the sort of junk you get from the theory class - they're too busy working on keeping their theories perfectly consistent. They might as well be arguing, "I am against putting people in jail for murder, because once we start jailing anyone for anything, we will have to jail everybody." There is no slippery slope. It's lazy thinking, pure and simple, from people who don't care enough to determine ethics on an individualized basis, and prefer to make sweeping decrees without paying any attention to circumstance. It's morality as an auto-reply form letter.
Throughout this latest (and hopefully final) bout of "Alexa"-induced drama, there's been a strong undercurrent of some people smugly clucking their tongues at women who are angry, dispassionately reminding us to not get bees in our dainty bonnets. The nerve of us ill-mannered floozies for losing our cool! How dare we act up in such a crude and extreme manner as to cuss and use all caps?
It's highly impolitic of women to ever be hateful, no matter if what we're screaming about is something as cut-and-dry as anger directed at a sexual predator. Even when this attitude is coming from people who consider themselves progressives or radicals, it still feels like someone trying to drag women - kicking and screaming, of course - into a past where women were not allowed to be upset, and it was their job to keep up decorum and suffer injustices quietly.
I've long felt like the most uncouth person in the world, because I readily admit my capacity for great scorn. I genuinely do hate oppressive people and groups, and unlike silly hippies, I absolutely do identify certain people and groups not as lost souls in need of saving, but distinctly as enemies. I hate, and I love. I smile at things like the creep behind "Alexa" losing his job, and I take care of my friends and my community with great affection. I cheered aloud and clapped my hands when Andrea Dworkin died, and I feel real pain and sadness when I see people in my communities suffer tragedies. I don't hide my so-called "ugly" feelings, I don't play Stepford Activist. You might catch more flies with honey than vinegar, but when your underlying goal is to kill flies, why not just use a flyswatter and save your sweet stuff for those who deserve it? I express anger on a regular basis, and as such, I'm violating an unspoken social rule of most progressive scenes: there's this idea that the first person to get angry loses the battle, as though ours is a race to see who can be nicest to predators, criminals, and abusers as they work to destroy us. Anger, spite, hatred, and a desire for revenge are supposedly never an acceptable response to injustice - least of all, from women.
After the release of the Afghan War Logs, WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange commented to the media, "I love crushing bastards." I'm a WikiLeaks fan and supporter, and that line is one of my favorite things I've seen come out of Assange. It's so perfect in its simplicity - taking satisfaction in exposing war crimes. Later, at a more informal conversation with the British press, a journalist said something to him like, "A while ago, you made this tongue-in-cheek statement about how you love crushing bastards...", and Assange corrected him with his standard calm fierceness. No, he wasn't joking. He loved crushing bastards.
I wish more people stood up and admitted their love of crushing the bastards in their lives, and of the need for more bastards to be crushed. You are not a monster because you hate bad people and bad social constructs. I happen to think there's something dead inside you if nothing stirs hatred within you. Hatred and anger are passions, like love and joy, and I've found that people either have deep passions or they don't, but no one is truly comprised of all hatred or all love. Some of us are just more intense and open about all of our feelings.
I imagine that The Obtuseness Brigade will process this post as "Furry Girl says that violence and hatred are the only way to achieve social change, and that everyone should carry out acts of vigilante justice against anyone who annoys them." Oh well. Those types always need something to whine about.
Seeing as how quotes from movies starring Patrick Swayze are the final arbiters of all matters, I'll close with another - this time, Red Dawn.
"All that hate is gonna burn you up kid."
"It keeps me warm."
[Note: I will not be publishing any comments from people who want to debate or defend the actions of "Alexa"/Pat Bohannan. That's not the point of this post, so you'll have to take it elsewhere.]
Furry Girl: a good time not yet had by all.
- I operate SWAAY.org, an accessible sex workers' rights site that educates the general public about our lives and our issues.
- I've been vegan for 13 years because it's the easiest way for an individual to contribute to less violence, suffering, and exploitation.
My adult sites
- Cocksexual.com: Strapons
- EroticRed.com: Menstruation
- FurryGirl.com: Unshaved
- TheSensualVegan.com: Store
- VegPorn.com: Herbivores
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New to my blog? Some favorite posts
- "You have no right to dislike feminism after all it's done for you!"
- "You misrepresent true feminism by focusing on the bad feminists. They're not real feminists anyway!"
- An argument for more sex workers to be out?
- Degrading, violent desires
- Do you have what it takes to be an empowered sex worker?
- Feminism is the shitty relationship you had in your early 20s
- Feminist porn isn't a branch of sex workers' rights, it's an obstacle
- How are we branding sex workers rights in the US? (Let's focus more on *worker*, less on *sex*!)
- How to do your homework on trafficking, "rescue", and the affected communities
- Let's stop pretending that "objectification" is a thing that exists
- Musings on ethical porn and the red herrings of "feminist porn" and "violent porn"
- My call for a "working" class uprising against inaccessible discourse and the over-representation of dabblers
- Sex trafficking is the new crack: manufactured "epidemics" as political tools
- The common logical fallacies deployed by anti-sex worker activists
- Things I've gained from being a sex worker: an anti-paternalistic perspective
- Vigilantism and 'crushing bastards': in praise of anger, hatred, and taking joy in the smiting of one's enemies
- Want to play BINGO with the antis?
- Watch out for psuedoscience: my long-time nemeses of concern trolling and "teaching the controversy"
- What do I mean when I say "sex worker"? Why I'm against an overly-broad definition
- Why I call them "anti-sex worker" rather than "anti-porn" or "anti-prostitution," and why you should too
Favorite sex/ho blogs
- Amanda Brooks
- Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers
- Belle de Jour
- Born Whore
- Bound, Not Gagged
- Dan Savage on SLOG
- Danny Wylde
- Jiz Lee
- Kat's Stories
- Laura Agustín
- Lux Nightmare [2006-2007]
- Maggie McNeill
- Our Porn, Ourselves
- Sequoia Redd
- Serpent Libertine
- Sex Worker Pie Charts
- Sexonomics by Brooke Magnanti
- Shit They Say to Sex Workers
- Stuff Sex Workers Eat
- Whore Madonna