by Furry Girl
I was catching up on online reading last weekend, and one of the links I'd saved from a couple of months ago was this piece on a feminist blog, pearl-clutching over Dr Brooke Magnanti (aka Belle de Jour) saying that she is no longer a feminist in the press materials announcing her new book, Sexonomics. Like me, Brooke is not a feminist, though that's hardly news for readers of either of us.
The feminist blog lobbed two pieces of standard-issue criticism over Magnanti's nonfeminism, which reminded me of things people say to me. (Though, no doubt less often, since she is way more famous than I am.) Here are two of my own rebuttals to the things feminists say to whine about me not being a feminist.
It’s disappointing that despite the open opinions within feminism, Magnanti feels ostracized from the community and would rather renounce the name than contribute to debate as a proud member.
I am constantly pestered by well-meaning, bright-eyed feminists as to why I don't just stick around and work to change feminism from within. They are quick to acknowledge that yes, I have valid criticism of feminism, but surely, it would only be declaring defeat for me to give up now, as though I "threw it all away" in an angry drunken moment where I wasn't thinking clearly. I could be such a productive an valuable member of the community! They point out all the things I have in common with most feminist thought: I believe in things like a woman's right to vote, to abortion access, to own property, and to not be raped to subjected to violence and oppression. And not all feminists believe in [insert thing I hate]! With all that I have in common with feminism, it's silly to throw the baby out with the bathwater, right?
When faced with these sorts of questions, I wonder why I don't get them about my atheism.
I should really stop saying that I'm an atheist, and focus on trying to change Christianity from within the churches. After all, if the atheists let the Christian extremists take over Christian culture, then they have no one to blame but themselves. After all, I have lots of things in common with Christianity and agree with many parts of the Bible: I don't support murder, lying, or stealing. Hell, I don't even eat shellfish! Since I have so much in common with Christianity, there's no reason to not call myself a Christian. Not all Christians blow up abortion clinics, beat up their children for being queer, or believe the world is only 6000 years old. I am being awfully hasty in deciding that I'm not a Christian just because I don't believe in a god, virgin birth, heaven, hell, the resurrection, baptism, sin, angels, or miracles. I should let those little bitty disagreements keep me from being a part of the diverse Christian community.
Moving on, the feminist blogger says Magnanti should not leave feminism because
...sex-work research could use more scientific rigor. While there are many theories about oppression or empowerment of sex-workers, none of that matters if we don't have hard data to back up the theory.
This is another thing I hate - arguments rooted in the notion that if one is not a feminist, then anything that they do doesn't count. It's as though I've said, "I'm going to go seal myself in a cave in the mountains, never to be heard from again." No, I didn't disappear, I just moving on. Magnanti isn't refusing to contribute to scientific research or speak about sex work issues, she's just not doing so as a feminist. If you want your work and ideas to be considered by feminists (who speak of themselves of as though they are the only audience in the world who matters), it needs to be under the banner of feminism. Everything that nonfeminists contribute to society, political dialog, science, activism, or theory is completely irrelevant.
I've already accepted that the boundary-breaking porn that I produce will never be recognized by feminists because it's not pitched using the jumped-the-shark buzz of "feminist porn." I was one of the first people producing porn with genderqueer and trans models apart from the tacky mainstream "shemale" niche. Before the age of circlejerks like the Feminist Porn Awards, I was acting against the advice of a lawyer and opening one of the web's only sites that has menstruation porn because I believe strongly it, despite the very legal risks of an obscenity prosecution. (Operating an adult site with menstrual blood is a thousand times more transgressive than photos of punk girls kissing.) Even my most heteronormative bread-and-butter site is the longest-running solo porn site that features an unshaved woman, a rarity in the porn world.
When the feminist team implores people to stay, what they really mean is, "We will dismiss everything you do if you don't adopt our political label and use it to market all of your products." I can't tell you how many times I've stumbled across people discussing something I wrote and seeing a criticisms to the effect of, "She's not even a feminist. That says it all." (As I've said before, "being a feminist" is the American flag lapel pin of the left - not wearing it must mean you're a terrorist who hates freedom.)
It's not people like Magnanti and I who are blind to engaging with the ideas of a larger community, or who totally give up on people based on what political labels they use to identify themselves. It's the feminists who are so obsessed with their cultish dogma that they refuse to consider the opinions of anyone who doesn't abide by their sole overarching rule: identify firmly as a feminist at all times, and aggressively uphold our petty partisan bullshit, or you must be anti-woman, and therefor, an enemy. To the feminists who think people like Magnanti or myself need to learn how to get along with others and pull towards our occasional shared goals, I turn that suggestion right back at them.
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 14 years because I don't believe in exploiting and killing others for my own petty amusements.
My adult sites
- Cocksexual.com: Strapons
- EroticRed.com: Menstruation
- FurryGirl.com: Unshaved
- TheSensualVegan.com: Store
- VegPorn.com: Herbivores
More of me online
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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
- Laura Agustín
- Lux Nightmare [2006-2007]
- Maggie McNeill
- Our Porn, Ourselves
- Sequoia Redd
- Serpent Libertine
- Sexonomics by Brooke Magnanti
- Shit They Say to Sex Workers
- Stuff Sex Workers Eat