by Furry Girl

09.20.13

Anti-sex work activists endlessly harp on the specter of the multi-billion dollar sex industry.  They never want to talk about how individual sex workers only make fairly modest incomes, and for generally short periods of time.  It's easier to set up all of us sinners as obscenely wealthy, because it makes it easier for average people to resent us.  This contributes to a culture of disrespect for sex workers where the public thinks we're not only lazy and gauche, we also get a 6-figure check every time we disrobe.  It's a tactic of othering sex workers to a country that has been struggling a lot financially since the recession.  And it's a very successful one.

When I was making the opposition tracker on SWAAY.org, I thought about trying to create a comprehensive list of how much profit there is to be made in anti-sex worker activism.  As sex workers, we're constantly having our campaigns dismissed on the grounds that everything we say must be a lie because we have a financial stake in sex work.  It drives me crazy that it's a one-sized argument, as though only sex workers profit from sex work.  Your average sex worker makes substantially less than an anti-sex worker academic or nonprofit, so who really has a "financial incentive" to say what they say?

Some Twitter exchanges made me realize I should post the data I already collected, and I decided to update the tax returns for some popular foundations that oppose sex workers rights.  Catherine MacKinnon's base salary statement was obtained a couple of years ago with a FOIA request against her employer, the University of Michigan, a state-funded university.  (They have to disclose if you ask, google for "FOIA template" for the format.)  The other tax returns are from 501(c)3 nonprofits, which make them public information.

Catherine MacKinnon's base salary (not including bonuses, insurance, speaking engagements, writing, and tours) was $273,000 for 9 months of work in 2009 (page 386, huge file) and $280,000 for 9 months of work in 2010 (page 394, huge file).

The biggest winner is, of course, the Hunt Alternatives Fund, which took in a whopping $12,976,136 in 2012.  A 20-hour a week job at this foundation paid one "advisor" $101,562 in salary and benefits!  Under "direct charitable activities," HAF say they spent $1,409,171 "eradicating the demand for purchased sex."  While Swanee Hunt and family were the top donors, this foundation also received an even one million dollars from Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Shared Hope International (which campaigns against prostitution among other activities), which raked in $2,253,367 in 2011.

The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women raked in $1,161,729 in 2012.

Fireproof Ministries, which runs XXXChurch, raked in $610,719 in 2011.  $102,350 of this went directly into the pocket of Craig Gross in the form of a salary.  (I've never netted that much as a pornographer!  I should have gotten into running anti-porn sites.)

Shelley Lubben's Pink Cross Foundation raked in $137,183 in 2012.  Shelley officially draws a modest $57,640 in salary and compensation.

Melissa Farley (who has glowingly referred to sex workers as "house niggers") heads a group called Prostitution Research and Education, which raked in a mere $81,958 in 2012.

Cite these figures when you're talking to people who think that our side is the only one with something financial to gain.  I wish I knew more about individual anti-sex worker activists. I still want to flesh out the anti-sex worker activist tracker.  Let me know if you have links to add.





by Furry Girl

06.13.13

"Over the past year, there have been a number of headline-grabbing legal changes in the US, such as the legalization of marijuana in CO and WA, as well as the legalization of same-sex marriage in a growing number of US states.

As a majority of people in these states apparently favor these changes, advocates for the US democratic process cite these legal victories as examples of how the system can provide real freedoms to those who engage with it through lawful means. And it’s true, the bills did pass.

What’s often overlooked, however, is that these legal victories would probably not have been possible without the ability to break the law.

The state of Minnesota, for instance, legalized same-sex marriage this year, but sodomy laws had effectively made homosexuality itself completely illegal in that state until 2001. Likewise, before the recent changes making marijuana legal for personal use in WA and CO, it was obviously not legal for personal use.

Imagine if there were an alternate dystopian reality where law enforcement was 100% effective, such that any potential law offenders knew they would be immediately identified, apprehended, and jailed. If perfect law enforcement had been a reality in MN, CO, and WA since their founding in the 1850s, it seems quite unlikely that these recent changes would have ever come to pass. How could people have decided that marijuana should be legal, if nobody had ever used it? How could states decide that same sex marriage should be permitted, if nobody had ever seen or participated in a same sex relationship?"

-- Moxie Marlinspike in We Should All Have Something To Hide on thoughtcrime.org





by Furry Girl

03.30.13

I am pleased to see that a new fight is gearing up against the United States' horrible 2257 regulations, and I want to tell my readers about why "a porn regulation" should matter to them as sex workers, sex workers' rights activists, and privacy rights supporters.

"2257" is shorthand for the numerical code of the irritatingly-named Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act.  You can read about it in detail on Wikipedia, but the short of it is that when you appear in adult productions in the US, you as the performer/model must give the production company/photographer two forms of identification and sign a bunch of paperwork promising that you are over 18.  (Which is its own absurdity, because there have been a few instances of 16 or 17 year olds getting fake IDs to work in porn, and any contract a minor signs is void anyway.  The contract doesn't do a thing to guarantee age, and does not prevent a determined teenager from working in porn.  It's the producer who is punished, even if they do everything they possibly can to screen out a lying underage worker.)  2257 laws, like all ridiculous, anti-privacy, anti-free speech measures, are "to save the children."

There are many good reasons to oppose 2257 regulations as they stand now, not the least of which is that it's an attempt by the government to strangle the sex industry and stifle sexual expression online through red tape and excessive paperwork-keeping requirements.  As someone who both appears in and produces online porn, 2257 is a problem from all sides for me, but there are two facets which I oppose the most.  (I covered this topic in my talk in privacy at the 2010 Desiree Alliance conference, and I really wish more sex workers understood what happens to their information once they sign waivers and let their IDs be photocopied.)

First off, 2257 laws are a horrifying problem in terms of privacy for models and performers.  I am required to keep records of the name and legal address of all people who appear on my websites, and to keep copies of two forms of ID, one of which must be government-issued and have a photo.  If I pay them over $600 US in a year, I am required to note their social security number for tax purposes.  I am required to keep these model releases and IDs organized by legal names and stage names, and where the images appear.  I am required to have these records available for inspection by the federal government to prove that my web sites are not actually filled with child pornography.

As a small-scale pornographer who only produces exclusive content, I keep all of these records to myself, but with the vast majority of porn, content is shot with the purpose of re-selling and licensing it out to many sources, which means a performer who thinks they are entrusting their name to one photographer may end up giving it to hundreds of people.  Any random person can search for companies reselling and licensing adult content, and with a purchase, buy performer's legal names, social security numbers, and addresses.  I've even seen online content sellers that allow new customers to try their content for free, meaning they are literally just handing out copies of performer's personally-identifying data to anyone who asks.  This should rightly scare anyone who has ever signed a model release for an adult company.  I even hesitate to talk about it this part of the porn industry publicly, because it's the easiest way for a stalker to find a porn performer.  It's not as easy as Googling, "Sally Sweetsucker home address," but a determined stalker can comb through enough adult content resellers and have a good shot at finding their target.

My second main problem with 2257 as a small-scale pornographer is that I am required by law to list my legal name and home address (because that is my business location and primary place of production) on the front page of my web sites.  (This is not allowed to be a PO box or an office you rent just for the purpose of record-keeping.  It has to be staffed during business hours, and where you actually shoot your content.  That might work for a big studio with a building with security, but not for small-timers.)  In my decade in the business, I have only ever met one small-scale producer that complied with that portion of 2257 regulations, and I was shocked that they did.  Independent pornographers and sex workers like myself should not have to choose between a fear of federal prosecutions and prison time for violating this aspect of 2257 laws, and a fear of overzealous stalkers coming to our homes to rape or assault us. When I started in 2002, it was allowed to have an attorney serve as the official record-keeper of your 2257 documentation, but that changed years ago during the Bush administration.  Many small-scale pornographers simply pulled out and found new jobs, too scared of making the horrible choice of federal prison or being attacked by stalkers.  No one should have to make that choice.  No one should be put in such an extreme a lose-lose position.

There have been legal challenges in the past to 2257 laws, but the fight continues.  The Free Speech Coalition has launched a new web site asking for help funding their battle, and you should support it.  2257 laws endanger the lives and safety of sex workers, but this issue is never discussed in sex worker advocacy circles.  Porn production regulations are more institutionalized and abstract that the immediate concerns of escorts/prostitutes/etc who fear arrest, assault, and rape, but it's just as real, as just as serious.  Please support the effort to fight against 2257 laws, and spread the word.





by Furry Girl

02.20.13

One of the most common replies I get on Twitter, via email, and when I allowed comments on my blog has been some variant of the No True Scotsman fallacy.

In this form of faulty reasoning one's belief is rendered unfalsifiable because no matter how compelling the evidence is, one simply shifts the goalposts so that it wouldn't apply to a supposedly 'true' example. This kind of post-rationalization is a way of avoiding valid criticisms of one's argument.

Example: Angus declares that Scotsmen do not put sugar on their porridge, to which Lachlan points out that he is a Scotsman and puts sugar on his porridge. Furious, like a true Scot, Angus yells that no true Scotsman sugars his porridge.  [Source]

This line of thinking is constantly deployed by the sex-positive feminist crowd who want to distance themselves from the myriad embarrassments of mainstream feminism.  The tiny, powerless minority of sex-positive, pro-autonomy feminists rabidly insist that they are the one truly true feminism, and that all the other feminists are splinter sects that simply don't understand "real feminism."  (As an ex-feminist myself, I'm embarrassed that I wasted untold hours of my young life having these exact same conversations.  So I know them inside out, from both sides.)

Why do I hate these comments with such a passion?

"Good feminists" are a tiny minority, even though they claim they're the truest feminists

Part of the reason it's annoying to deal with this logical fallacy is because sex-positive, pro-autonomy, anti-victimhood feminists are a small minority compared to all the other feminists they instantly dismiss as "not real feminists."  Large national feminist organizations and women's studies departments are not run on "good feminist" principles, they are run by the oppressive and anti-sexuality feminists who represent mainstream feminist values.  "Good feminists" aren't the ones being brought in as experts by governments to write new anti-sex worker and anti-porn laws.  Just because all of feminist friends you have are "good feminists," that doesn't mean "good feminists" make up a real majority, it just means you're trapped in a feedback loop of confirmation bias.  I could conclude that most cats are male grey tabbies based on the sample population within my immediate view, but that doesn't mean it's true.

"Good feminists" are outliers, and the fact that they think they represent the majority feminist viewpoint just shows the degree to which they're devoted to willful ignorance of anything that conflicts with their images of themselves and their cutesy, feel-good interpretations of feminism.

"Good feminists" have no political power, nor do they seek it

With very few exceptions, "good feminists" are too busy congratulating themselves for being liberated to waste time on boring stuff like lobbying or working on public outreach.  They always seem to have endless money and time to fly around the country attending sex-positivity conferences, going to Empowered Anal Sex 101 workshops at upscale sex toy shops, and dressing in designer threads for the most nauseatingly self-congratulatory event ever conceived, the Feminist Porn Awards.  "Good feminism" is literally nothing more than masturbation.  I used to believe that the sex-positive scene was building towards a bigger something, but after a decade of being around it, I now know that it's only about narcissism and reveling in how naughty it is to be sexually transgressive.  There's no goal, no endpoint, nothing more substantive than endless recycled discussions about meanings of sexuality and gender.

I love kinky sex, masturbation, and DIY porn as much as any of them, but it makes me seethe with anger how often that scene used the word "revolutionary" to describe themselves and sell their products.  There's fuck-all nothing "revolutionary" about basking in the privilege of how delightful it is to loll about playing with high end dildos and having plenty of free time for orgies and philosophical discussions about the meaning of it all.  This is why I refer to sex-positivity as the "girlie version" of Crimethinc and other forms of self-indulgent drop-out culture lifestyle anarchism that operate under obtuse slogans such as "Poverty, unemployment, homelessness: if you're not having fun, you're not doing it right!"  But as we all know, white and privileged people go totally apeshit for any philosophy that assures them that merely by having fun, they are changing the world.  "Revolution" is a mix of the boring, stressful, dangerous, heart-breaking, difficult, and time-consuming, which is why so few people engage in it, but flock to schools of thought which allow them to have the label "revolutionary" without ever taking a risk or doing any work.  Your typical "good feminist" engages in "sex-positive activism" by assuring one another that they are bold "revolutionaries" for watching punk porn or buying buttplugs.

In contrast, mainstream feminists have their shit together, complete with well-funded and powerful NGOs, huge salaries, and national respectability, and they work tirelessly to pass laws around the world that make things more dangerous for sex workers or seek to enact anti-free speech censorship policies (such as in feminist-run Iceland).  Feminists who have any shred of influence invariably use it to be "bad feminists," whether it's criminalizing indoor prostitution in Rhode Island or holding tenured women's studies jobs so they can terrorize impressionable young women into feeling victimized by the world around them.  Mainstream feminists know that you don't change the world with a Hitachi Magic Wand, you change it by being effective political lobbyists.

So long as "good feminists" have zero effect on either policy or popular thinking, they are irrelevant.

"Good feminists" are more interested in wasting their lives attacking people like me and apologizing for the wrongs and oppressions of mainstream feminism than they are doing anything productive

This final one is more sad than angering.  But hey, it's easier to tweet No True Feminism comments at me all the time than it is to do something useful to change the world in measurable ways.  Instead of going after the "bad feminists," the "good feminists" would rather pick fights with the people they claim to have the most in common with, lecturing us about how great feminism is if we can just get past a few bad apples.

Ultimately, even the "good feminists" are more concerned with their cult-like devotion to the label of "feminist" than they are with anything else.  The label matters above all else.  I have no use for people refuse to part from a ideology that calls transwomen monsters, that seeks to take away as much freedom of speech/press as possible, that calls sex workers "house niggers," that believes women need to be told how to think, that says women who enjoy feminine clothing are brainwashed idiots, that profits from convincing women that they are weak and powerless, that denies that women have free will, and that loves subjecting sex workers to state violence in the form of criminalization.  I will never willingly group myself with oppressors, which is why I am not a feminist, even a "good feminist."





by Furry Girl

12.12.12

Last week, my state (Washington) became the first in the nation to legalize possession and use of marijuana.  Colorado will follow suit next month after a similar measure there won during the November elections.  I am happy to live in a state where we have physician assisted suicide for the terminally ill, one legalized recreational drug, marriage equality, oodles of places where one can get an abortion, no death penalty, and state-level open carry of firearms (though Seattle city bans it).  Overall, Washington is comparatively more respectful of people's rights and choices than are many other states.

Today on reason.com, Jacob Sullum wrote a short piece on why states like mine are doing well on the gay marriage and pot legalization front, and it underscores why I keep harping on the need for sex workers to be "out" as our most important form of activism.

Just as an individual’s attitude toward gay people depends to a large extent on how many he knows (or, more to the point, realizes he knows), his attitude toward pot smokers (in particular, his opinion about whether they should be treated like criminals) is apt to be influenced by his personal experience with them. Americans younger than 65, even if they have never smoked pot, probably know people who have, and that kind of firsthand knowledge provides an important reality check on the government’s anti-pot propaganda.

For sex workers who aren't out to anyone, the idea of admitting to what they do for a living can be extremely intimidating.  What I suggest is to start small.

At the 2010 Desiree Alliance conference, I met a woman who was fairly new to escorting.  If I recall correctly, either no one in her life or only a couple of trusted friends knew, and the Desiree Alliance conference was her first sex worker event, and she'd traveled from out of state to see what it was all about.  A computer security conference was happening the same week as our event, so I had friends from another part of my life who were also in Vegas.  One evening, I went out with them to have dinner and hit a few nerd parties, and the new escort joined us.  I gently challenged her to try being out for that one evening, with a group of people she'd never have to see again, just to "try on for size" what it's like to be an out sex worker.  Rather than inventing stories about herself, she was plainly telling people she's an escort, and discovered it wasn't the end of the world, and she wasn't going to be mocked and shamed by everyone she encountered.  Granted, I had already "broken the ice" on the subject of sex work with some of the people we encountered that evening, but I think the woman was still surprised how normally and politely she was treated, and later sent me a very sweet thank you for the evening.  We didn't stay in touch and I don't know how things worked out for her, but I hope that one night of being an out sex worker gave her some courage to be out in her own city and with her regular friends and family.

If you're a sex worker still afraid of coming out, start small.  Go to a bar in the next city over, or a music festival out of town, or just tell the person sitting next to you on the bus or subway.  Try openness on for just a day, or even 15 minutes.  You will get some bad reactions, but I think it will surprise you how many people won't be an asshole to you.  Be prepared for questions, which you can choose to answer or not.  The most shocking thing of all may be meeting someone who themselves has done sex work and never told anyone.  (Only happened to me once, with a seat neighbor on an airplane, but it was still pretty awesome.)





by Furry Girl

11.19.12

Although I'm normally loathe to give my time to college students seeking a sex worker to interview for an assignment, I recently made an exception for a friend of mine.  The questions were the standard things that everyone asks sex workers, and the interview included a question about how I respond to the accusation that porn and sex work objectify women.

As an ex-feminist, ex-sex positive, and general gold star member of the interweb debaters club, I have spent untold hours fighting about "objectification."  One of the things that people most frequently ask me is, "But what about objectification!?"  Even anti-sex worker activists who claim they can get on board with the idea of bodily autonomy and the right of people to choose to sell sex still have the "gotcha" final argument that porn and sex work are not just a matter of individual rights, but that the sex industry as a whole oppresses every woman in the world by its mere existence due to "objectification."

For the last decade, I've generally addressed "objectification" by pointing out that every single person is objectified at their jobs, so if you're going to get all cryface about sex workers "being objectified as sex objects," you better also be protesting in front of hospitals where people with medical degrees are objectified as doctors, protesting restaurants where people cooking your food are objectified as chefs, and so on.  Most of the arguments made against sex work are arguments that could be made against basically everything, yet aren't.  For example, anti-sex worker activists rail endlessly about how prostitution is wrong because prostitutes are only doing it because they are getting paid, but these agitators don't lobby the government to outlaw elementary schools because teachers wouldn't show up to their jobs if they weren't getting paid.  News flash: almost no one would do their jobs if there was no financial incentive for them to do so.  Doing work that isn't always fun so that we can get something else we want is the definition of being a grown-up, not the definition of suffering oppression.

In my interview, rather than expounding on the hypocrisy and lunacy of the application of "objectification" to sex work alone, I've decide that from now on I'm taking a different position, and I hope that you will, too.

Let's stop pretending that "objectification" is a thing that exists, because in doing so, we're dignifying the idea that it's somehow a real social harm and perfectly valid reason to deny human rights to sex workers.  The instant we go down the road of debating the meaning of objectification (and its equally stupid inverse concept "empowerment"), even if it's to challenge its inconsistent application only to the sex industry, we've already failed.  Objectification, much like "feminism," means whatever a person wants it to mean in order to win their current argument.  Feminists and other such idiots ache for the chance at having such a conversation, because then everything is solely in the realm of abstract theories, so facts can be thrown in the garbage and the side that wins is the side that keeps at it the longest.

The sex workers' rights movement in the US needs to pull its head out of the clouds of bullshit feminist philosophical theories that have nothing to do with anything in the real world.  Stop giving these distractions credibility by addressing them at all, and instead keep the conversation exactly where it needs to be: on human rights, on labor rights, on harm reduction, and on stopping the violence against sex workers created by criminalization.  Feminists and other moralizers know that they will always lose against sane, evidence-based positions, so they purposefully try to change the subject to a go-nowhere discussion about things like objectification and their own emotions.  If we care about making a difference for sex workers (or women and people in general), our duty is to always privilege real problems above pretentious navel-gazing.





by Furry Girl

06.12.12

"But Sexual Harassment law was never designed to protect women from merely feeling uncomfortable.  In a typical workday, men and women alike face many sources of discomfort: atheists face clerks wearing crosses; able-bodied people face colleagues in wheelchairs; Fundamentalist Muslims and Jews face professors dressed with arms and legs uncovered; the infertile face coworkers' desks with photos of their kids, and parents are given time off for parenting events such as piano recitals.

No, the law is designed to simply create a level playing field of opportunity—not of emotional experience.  It doesn't require anyone to be a mind-reader, it doesn't undo the normal uncertainties of social interaction, and it doesn't require anyone's social skills to be smooth as silk.  Occasionally feeling offended is still considered part of the cost of being out in the world.

[...]

The topic is particularly poignant when the people involved are progressive political activists.  If we expect to go out and communicate effectively in a world that is often hostile to our ideas, we need to have the emotional skills to tolerate a wide range of responses.  If we can't even handle a friendly sexual invitation in a genuinely safe environment without losing our composure, how can we tolerate the rough-and-tumble of the world out there?"

-- Dr Marty Klein in Sexual Harassment or Unwanted Sexual Attention? on sexualintelligence.wordpress.com

 





by Furry Girl

05.25.12

Women With A Vision is truly one of the most outstanding sex worker and harm reduction organizations in the US.  They're not part of the big city sex worker hipsterati, fawning over their own navels and lecturing people about obscure philosophical ideas.  WWAV rolls up their sleeves and directly helps those who most need help, and they do it without a lot of publicity and glory - or funding.  WWAV achieved a notable victory for sex workers in Louisiana by helping overturn a law that required convicted prostitutes to register as sex offenders, a bad law which pushed the most marginalized people even further out of society.

An arsonist broke into the WWAV office last night, destroying almost everything, and they need our help rebuilding.  Please see their donation plea on their web site.  Circulate the link on your social networks, and guilt-trip your friends with money into making a (fully tax-deductible) donation.  Here's a short list from their web site of what your donations can make possible:

$50 will buy a case of male condoms;
$100 will cover a month supply of harm reduction kits,
$250 will replace one of our reproductive health models;
$500 will enable us to make a month’s supply of hygiene kits;
$1000 will buy a case of female condoms; and
$2000 to replace our two cases of OraSure rapid HIV tests.

WWAV is also asking for in-kind donations such as computers and office supplies, furniture, and dressy clothing for women who are transitioning out of sex work and need something to wear on job interviews.  Do you have some extra clothing or shoes in your closet that could use a new home?  A laptop left over from your last upgrade?  Or perhaps you're in the New Orleans area and have furniture you're not using?  Everyone can pitch in, and every dollar counts.  Please send WWAV something right now, even if it's just $1.





by Furry Girl

05.17.12

"...Corporate philanthropy began to replace missionary activity as Capitalism's (and Imperialism's) road opening and systems maintenance patrol.

[...]

The Privatisation of Everything has also meant the NGO-isation of Everything.  As jobs and livelihoods disappeared, NGOs have become an important source of employment, even for those who see them for what they are.  And they are certainly not all bad.  Of the millions of NGOs, some do remarkable, radical work and it would be a travesty to tar all NGOs with the same brush.  However, the corporate or Foundation-endowed NGOs are global finance's way of buying into resistance movements, literally like shareholders buy shares in companies, and then try to control them from within.

[...]

Armed with their billions, these NGOs have waded into the world, turning potential revolutionaries into salaried activists, funding artists, intellectuals and filmmakers, gently luring them away from radical confrontation, ushering them in the direction of multi-culturalism, gender, community development—the discourse couched in the language of identity politics and human rights.

[...]

The NGO-isation of the women's movement has also made western liberal feminism (by virtue of its being the most funded brand) the standard-bearer of what constitutes feminism.  The battles, as usual, have been played out on women's bodies, extruding Botox at one end and burqas at the other.  (And then there are those who suffer the double whammy, Botox and the Burqa.)  When, as happened recently in France, an attempt is made to coerce women out of the burqa rather than creating a situation in which a woman can choose what she wishes to do, it's not about liberating her, but about unclothing her.  It becomes an act of humiliation and cultural imperialism.  It's not about the burqa.  It's about the coercion.  Coercing a woman out of a burqa is as bad as coercing her into one.  Viewing gender in this way, shorn of social, political and economic context, makes it an issue of identity, a battle of props and costumes.  It is what allowed the US government to use western feminist groups as moral cover when it invaded Afghanistan in 2001.  Afghan women were (and are) in terrible trouble under the Taliban.  But dropping daisy-cutters on them was not going to solve their problems."

-- Arundhati Roy in Capitalism: A Ghost Store on outlookindia.com

Great piece, I recommend reading it.  If you're short on time, feel free to bypass the discussion of Indian politics and corruption (tl;dr: shit's fucked up), and start with the section "What follows...", as a lot of that relates to any country.





by Furry Girl

05.07.12

It's weird to occasionally hear people tell me I'm a great activist, or that I've written lots of helpful stuff about activism.  It's weird because I generally don't identify as an activist at all, I don't feel like I have it all figured out, and have a long and problematic relationship to the concept of "activism."  I will say that I am better than most activist-identified people at gaming out ideas and considering how well something is likely work in the long run, but that has not proven an in-demand skill in activist social scenes that thrive on the cult of "doing something," whatever that something is, whether or not it's effective at all.  I believe that most activist-identified people are sorely lacking in both historical understandings of social change and the critical thinking skills required for really focusing only on the most strategic actions.  Recently, someone asked me on Twitter what advice I'd have for new activists or people interested in getting involved in activism.

I openly admit it: I generally hate activists, activist subculture, and everything that is typically associated with activism.  (All three of those external links should be considered required reading on the topic.)  Anyone who is not themselves a part of the problem knows that activism is absolutely fucking insufferable, as it attracts many of the worst, dumbest, most mentally unstable people in the world - who all want to imagine themselves as heroes and saviors.  So, not only are you battling for a political issue, but you're faced with a double burden of having to do so while dealing with activists themselves, like trying to run a marathon through a swamp.  Because activism "has to" be inclusive, it welcomes everyone with open arms, despite whether or not they ever do anything objectively useful: the people who love wielding power by blocking consensus processes and causing constant infighting in a group, the over-the-top PC hysterics whose "contribution" to "activism" is lecturing everyone around them about why they are not enlightened enough, the people who derail every simple task into an exploration of ephemeral philosophical issues like "the need to examine gender roles," the people who have self-righteous fits about the need to "get out there and do something!" without ever stopping to think if that something is really going to help anything (or even make things worse), the people who only seem to drop by when there's a photo-op or something important happening, lifestyle protesters who drift around and latch onto any random cause without putting effort into understanding it, the larger groups that take public credit for the work of small grassroots groups, the people for whom "activism" is a mere performance to achieve status among their educated lefty friends, the people who steal funds from projects because they feel entitled to a little unofficial stipend here and there... I could go on and on.

I say this as someone for whom activism is not my social scene.  I realize it's a different experience for people who, for reasons I have never understood, actually enjoy spending their time with activist-identified people.  People can and do build their lives and families in activist cliques.  Sure, I've made some genuine friends via activism, but we'll always be the two people snickering in the back of the room while other people do their best performances of being "heroes."

Activists are so fucking awful.  It needs to be acknowledged more often.

This is where my important lesson comes in, because if you read my blog, you probably agree with a good bit of what I've written so far.

The most important lesson I could ever impart about activism is to remember that it's not about activists.  It's about your cause.  Never confuse the two, because they couldn't be more different from one another.

I realize that sounds like a no-brainer, but it's something I have struggled with for more than ten years, and something I've seen the best people also battle.  I've gotten in fights with more activist-identified assholes and fame-seekers in more scenes in more cities than I can count, and there are so many times where my mind wants to jump to, "fuck you people, fuck this cause, I hope you all fall into a giant blender" and just leave them to keep going about their ego-boosting ineffectual nonsense.

I've gotten better at finding my own way, interacting only with small and select groups of people, and focusing my time on the things that I think will do the most for a cause, not for the "cause" of social status in activist cliques.  Taking this sanity-preserving path means I generally work alone or in pairs, but the extra workload has always been more than balanced out by not needing to haul around dead weight.  I hope that more people will take the same route (especially new folk who could be entirely spared the horrors of the activist subculture), and work on small, non-"inclusive" projects, where there is a narrow focus, a clearly stated mission and goal, no time wasted on debating the "true" meanings of abstract philosophical concepts, and above all, an emphasis on always putting the cause above activism.





Go back to older posts »

Furry Girl: legs now closed for business.

My adult sites

More of me online

Enjoy my writing? I enjoy presents!

Browse by topic

New to my blog? Some favorite posts

Vaguely similar blogs

Sex workers' rights info

Search

RSS