by Furry Girl
"For example, while the [UN] draft resolution [on women's rights] doesn’t call for providing protection or respect for prostitutes, it does call for ending violence against all women, which would include the minority that work in prostitution. Those women, while their job may be deemed immoral or illegal in certain countries, deserve protection from violence like any other human being or citizen of their country, a fact which the MB seems to take issue with. Aside from using religion to oppose equality between men and women, they are even advocating dehumanizing - in the sense of deeming them unworthy of their human rights - those they consider morally bankrupt, like lesbians or prostitutes. Protecting these two subgroups of citizens from violence is against Islam according to the MB, and therefore shouldn't be allowed."
-- Mahmoud Salem (aka @Sandmonkey) in Gender Wars: The Muslim Brotherhood Versus Egypt's Women on acus.org. He's my favorite Egyptian blogger/activist/self-proclaimed "pain in the ass," and it's been interesting watching a revolution/coup unfold and through his eyes.
by Furry Girl
My favorite things/blogs/slogans/books/jokes have two common traits: they offend and upset all the right people, and they are completely true. In that spirit, I ordered a small batch of stickers to send my readers as gifts for my blog's third anniversary. I spent quite a while mulling over what short, concise phrase would adhere to my Favorite Things Doctrine, and also sum up part of what my blog is about: hatin' on feminism, hatin' on illogical thinking and religion.
Email your mailing address to feminisnt(at)feminisnt.com, and I'll send you a few of these delightful weatherproof vinyl stickers to brighten your day and the days of those around you. This offer is valid anywhere in the world, because I love my readers so much that I'm busting out the $1.05 international stamps. (I've shipped these stickers all around the US, plus Canada, the UK, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, and Norway.) I generally eschew energy expenditures that are solely about antagonizing one's opposition, but the cost of a few cocktails is worth the fun I am already deriving from these stickers. And besides, I have so much free energy after I stopped wasting time debating feminists on the internet.
I thought about writing a post to fully flesh out why I believe that feminism is just another bullshit religion, but I've already addressed those general topics many times if one reads through my archives, so if you're all cryface about my stickers, you can do your own reading without my hand-holding. I'll summarize the topic only once, and then I will ignore and delete the dozens of comments I'll no doubt receive from the same old annoying detractors who always demand that I re-explain everything I say, just for them, because they are so very special and entitled to my time.
Why is feminism just another bullshit religion?
Feminism is a belief system unsupported by actual data and which often uses outright lies to justify itself and push its political agenda; feminism is impervious and opposed to revision and progress; feminism denies and hides its own oppressive history to look nicey-nice and inclusive; feminism does not allow for questioning or any deviation from its ideology of women as inherently helpless and men as inherently villainous; feminism views science as suspect at best and evil at worst, since rationality, competition, and fact-based thinking are supposedly "patriarchal" values; feminism hinges on hyping the world as an extremely horrible and dangerous place, and only through adhering to it can one find salvation; propaganda that feminism (like religion) has a monopoly on morality and ethics, and that you must subscribe to one particular belief system in order to consider yourself an ethical/moral person; ultimately, because it's a tangle of circular logic where its conclusion is based on that very same conclusion (that women are feeble and to be told what to do because women are women are feeble and to be told what to do), much like a religion.
Moving on, as I have in past years, I made a list of my ten most popular or controversial posts. It's usually a list of ten, but this year we had a tie, so I'm including eleven.
* Why I am against sexy breast feeding and using a baby as a marketing gimmick to sell porn [August 2011]
* Hipster dude self-publishes book of Google Street View images of supposed roadside prostitutes [July 2011]
* Not all sex workers love Occupy: the creepy dynamic of pretending to speak for "the 99%" [November 2011]
* What do I mean when I say "sex worker"? Why I'm against an overly-broad definition [May 2011]
* Thoughts on Occupy Wall Street and how to fail at activisting [September 2011]
* Why I call them "anti-sex worker" rather than "anti-porn" or "anti-prostitution," and why you should too [June 2011]
* Why I am against "free" college for everyone [November 2011]
* The common logical fallacies deployed by anti-sex worker activists [November 2011]
* Are Pagan-themed sex businesses entitled to special legal rights? [September 2011]
* Blackface for sex bloggers: why it's offensive for non- sex workers to claim to be one of us [May 2011]
* Frequent Addressed Accusation: "Why not work to make feminism better?" [August 2011]
Finally, I always appreciate gifts myself. If you want to thank me for the time I put into writing and tweeting and sharing news and stuff, my Amazon wishlist has items for every budget, and you can send a gift card in any denomination.
by Furry Girl
[Updated: I didn't get enough sponsorship money to attend these events, but thank you to people who did offer a pledge. Hopefully there will be another such opportunity in the future.]
It's no secret that I'm an atheist. Debating religion was the first political issue I learned inside and out. When I was 6 or 7 years old in flyover land, understandably unaware that there was any difference between church, state, and schools, I wrote a letter to my principal demanding he address the hypocrisies of his faith. I could take apart the absurdity of religion before I learned how to do multiplication tables, and at an early age, I developed a strong affinity for science, nature, and books. (And it bums me out to see how commonly people view "science" and "nature" as opposing ideas.)
I would love to see more crossover and networking between sex workers' rights advocates and the organized skeptic, atheist, and pro-science communities. I want to bring sex work issues outside of the sex-positivity and radical sexuality scene in America. I want sex workers' rights to appeal to the sort of people who have never fisted anyone, basically. I want our serious political issues to be framed as the serious things they are, not just another branch of transgressive left-wing sexuality. (And I say this as someone who is kinky and invested in "alternative sexuality," but I draw a distinction between a human/labor rights issue and a sexual fun issue, and I wish more visible American sex workers also separated the two.)
There's a big event coming up shortly, the Reason Rally in Washington, DC, which is aiming to be the world's largest secular event. I would love to attend this as an ambassador of sorts for sex workers' rights, and to work on gaining allies in a space where I think we have a great chance at being heard. This isn't some feminist sex conference or BDSM event where sex workers aren't actually getting outside "the bubble," but something that will have a wide variety of smart people who pride themselves in looking at things logically and ripping apart emotion- and nonsense-based arguments. And, bonus! American Atheists are holding their national convention on the Sunday and Monday following the Reason Rally. Two skeptic events for the price one one (flight)! It's cool to see other "sex world" folks on these events rosters: Greta Christina and Dr Marty Klein.
by Furry Girl
This week in Arizona, two "sacred temples", aka, Pagan-themed sex businesses, were raided on charges of "illegal control of an enterprise, prostitution, maintaining a house of prostitution and receiving the earnings of a prostitute." The busts at the Phoenix Goddess Temple and the Sedona Goddess Temple have liberal sex bloggers rushing to cry foul and act shocked, asking, "What about freedom of religion?!" It's apparently an outrage that sex workers who are Pagan (or claim to be Pagan to earn money) weren't given a special exemption from the laws that apply to other sex workers.
First off, for those of you not familiar with the funny double-speak about "tantric healing," "goddess worship," and "sacred touch," you might wonder what goes on inside a typical "sacred temple." Sometimes, sensual massage parlors and brothels are gussied up with a bunch of new age mumbjo jumbo, and the businesses stress that they are "churches" that are not selling sex, but providing sacred healing sessions for "donations." You're not supposed to notice that these "sacred healing sessions" look exactly like regular prostitution, and if you suggest such a thing, you will be accused of oppressing people for their "religious beliefs." Whether the owners and workers in such sex businesses choose to go this route because they think it will offer them legal protection, or because they honestly believe they have magical powers, seems to vary on a case-by-case basis.
Earlier this year, an Arizona paper ran an exposé, "Phoenix Goddess Temple's 'Sacred Sexuality' Is More Like New Age Prostitution," for which the "temple" workers were happy to demonstrate a "healing session" where a nearly-naked woman massaged a naked man and then fingered his ass while giving him a handjob. Really, go read that article and tell me that the "temple," which took in $20,000 in "donations" each month, doesn't sound anything like a for-profit sex business. (Tracy Elise, the "Mystic Mother Priestess" who founded the Phoenix Goddess, had her last business/"temple" shut down by law enforcement in Seattle for allegedly being a brothel.) The article is full of gems, like one worker's claims that being touched by him will cause you to re-grow lost body parts, or this, a description of language:
There's a euphemism for everything in temple-speak. There are no johns, but "seekers." No sex, only "sacred union." There are no handjobs, only "tantric touch." No payment is accepted, but hefty "donations" are expected. There are no hookers, just "goddesses." They don't work with penises, but "wands of light."
Let me emphasize: I support all consenting adults' rights to buy and sell sex, but there is no difference between selling sex while burning incense and selling sex while not burning incense. I am sick of seeing sex-positive people act as though Pagan-themed sex work is morally/ethically superior to non-Pagan-themed sex work, and that if you claim a certain religious belief, that you deserve special treatment under the law.
I absolutely support freedom of religion and our First Amendment rights. However, arguing that the law should apply differently to people of certain religions is actually the opposite of "freedom of religion". It's state-sponsored favoritism, which is what the First Amendment was set up to prevent, not to create. I don't want to live in a world where each faith has a different set of law books, and people can pick and choose which religion they say they're currently a part of based on which laws they want to follow. Again, I don't think consensual adult sex work should be illegal for anyone, but I don't support carving out special legal rights only for sex workers who are Pagan, or those who pretend to be Pagan to make money as a part of their work persona.
I have sympathy for the "temple" people arrested in Arizona, and I hope they beat their charges, but my sympathy is not because I think they have supernatural healing powers or deserve special treatment, but because they're sex workers like me. It's too bad that so many of the people who will now rally around the Phoenix Goddess "temple" are not doing so out of concern for sex workers' rights for all, but because they want special rights for Pagans only.
by Furry Girl
My WikiLeaks cable search continues, and this time I spent a full day reading about how US diplomats cover abortion. A lot of the items I've seen mentioned with the cables are "big deal" political issues like terrorism, censorship, corruption, but I think it's also important to consider more "pedestrian" topics, such as the issue of abortion. Access to safe abortion services might not garner headlines like an leak about who we've tortured, but it affects far more people worldwide in their daily lives.
Most of the results for "abortion" are about the Catholic Church opposing it, snippets about sex-selective abortion in India and China, and brief mentions of forced abortions at the hands of human trafficking rings. Meddling from pro-life Republican Congressman Chris Smith came up in four cables about abortion, and that's just what I noticed as a casual reader. (What does your representative do overseas on diplomatic missions? Why not search the cables and see?)
This post is by no means exhaustive, and like my roundup of cables on sex work and prostitution policies, reflects only some of the things I found while poking around on CablegateSearch.net. If you find something else interesting, post it in the comments, or on Twitter with the hashtag #wlfind. If everyone spends just a couple of hours looking through the cables for a topic that's interesting to them, we can all find more stories in this huge repository of US diplomatic information.
Cables of note, mostly on abortion, plus two on FGM I stumbled across:
* A January 2010 cable from China discusses the country's sex-selective abortion and how it affects their gender ratio. "Social consequences of this imbalance include an estimated excess of over 30 million unmarriageable males, a potentially destabilizing force that threatens to cause unrest in the most economically marginalized areas, and could lead to increased gender violence through demand for prostitution and trafficking in girls and women." The @WikiLeaks Twitter account mention this earlier today. I still am wondering what defines one as an "unmarriageable male" in China.
* A December 2009 cable from the Vatican, marked SECRET, "reiterate" the Vatican's position on US healthcare legislation. "[Archbishop] Mamberti asked the Ambassador about the status of the health care legislation now pending before the U.S. Senate, and reiterated the concerns expressed by the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops that the final version of the legislation not contain funding for abortion."
* A November 2009 cable from the UN summarizes a meeting on population, family planning, development, and climate change. Call me ignorant, but I wasn't previously aware that the Catholic Church has a representative at the UN. Really, why should they of all people get a seat at the table in UN population and family planning meetings? Does the Taliban get to have a place to influence debates on the global response to terrorism?
* An October 2009 cable from Colombia explains how the country's complicated system of having 4 types of courts hinders clear decisions on abortion rights. "In September, [Inspector General] Ordonez successfully scuttled the Mayor of Medellin's plans to offer abortion services at a new integral women's health clinic. Some hospitals and doctors still refuse to perform the legal abortions due to objections of conscience, and some judges have blocked the full implementation of the ruling. Ordonez argues that abortion is still a crime (punished by one to three years imprisonment) with specific exceptions, and not a right."
* An October 2009 cable from the Vatican summarizes a conference on getting more faith-based groups to work with governments on HIV/AIDS charity work. The Vatican's event had nothing to do with promoting condom use or sex education (surprise!), but on the importance of HIV testing and treatment for children, how to work to prevent HIV transmission between mother and child. The Vatican wants to see more groups providing care to children born with HIV, but has zero interest in addressing the reasons why babies are born with HIV or how HIV is most commonly transmitted. The US embassy considered this event "very successful."
* An October 2009 cable from Afghanistan on the situation of women weighs the pros and cons of a drug. "Hemorrhage is the leading cause of maternal death in Afghanistan. JPAIGO, a USAID implementing partner affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, conducted a study in which midwives and health workers provided expectant mothers with misoprostol, a drug that prevents hemorrhaging if taken immediately after delivery. The Afghan Government is cautious about using the drug, since it can also be used to induce abortion, which is illegal in Afghanistan."
* A September 2009 cable from Kazakhstan explores the many factors that caused one town, Temirtau, to be dubbed "The AIDS Capital of Kazakhstan". They include layoffs from the world's largest steel company, AcelorMittal, which once employed half the town. Later, on the subject of efforts to promote safer sex, "...only 1-2 percent of Temirtau's residents use contraception to restrict birth; abortion remains the overwhelming preferred method of birth control."
* A September 2009 cable from the Vatican covers a Catholicism conference headlined by Tony Blair and Jeb Bush. After defending the event from critics, the cable reluctantly notes, "It is, however, at the forefront of the cultural wars pitting traditional Church values against Western European secularism. As such, it works assiduously to advance Church teachings on controversial issues such as euthanasia, abstinence in the fight against AIDS, abortion, and the role and influence of religion in society." The cable refers to the conference as a success.
* An August 2009 cable from Morocco deals with abortion and family planning. "Abortions are legal in Morocco only to safeguard the health of the mother. The practical measures to garner permission for a legal abortion, however, are especially difficult. In addition to written consent by the spouse, the region's chief medical officer must approve all pending abortions. These stringent procedures mean that legal abortions are rarely approved beforehand."
* A June 2009 cable from Russia says that family planning efforts are having a hard time "gaining a foothold" in the face of religious and state opposition. "Svetlana Yakimenko, the Director of Project Kesher, an international women's rights NGO, told us May 21 that Planned Parenthood International had a difficult time gaining a foothold in Russia and faces opposition to its work from both the GOR and the Orthodox Church. [...] The GOR pursues an official policy of encouraging women to have as many children as possible in order to counteract the country's demographic problems..."
* A June 2009 cable from Poland discusses the country's abortion laws. It notes that "abortion is allowed only in three instances: when pregnancy poses a threat to the life or health of the mother, when pre-natal examinations indicate a high probability of severe birth defects or incurable disease, and when pregnancy was the result of rape. As women's rights NGOs point out, even those entitled to legal abortion under the strict anti-abortion law are often denied. Under Polish law, a doctor has the right to deny an abortion if it is in conflict with his/her conscience (so-called conscience clause)."
* A June 2009 cable from the Vatican seems to be written for Barack Obama, explaining what the Church wants to discuss on his visit. "Vatican officials grudgingly accept that abortion is legal in the U.S., but oppose making it more widely available. Internationally, the Vatican would forcefully oppose USG advocacy of legalizing abortion elsewhere, financing foreignabortions, or making abortion an international 'reproductive right.' The Vatican would welcome an honest, respectful dialogue with the United States on abortion."
* A June 2009 cable from Mexico covers the abortion debate in the country. Abortion is legal in cases of "confirmed rape," which makes me wonder what their rape certification process looks like. "Some pro-abortion NGO's claimed a modest victory in regulations requiring a response by state health authorities no more than 120 hours after a confirmed rape, provision of emergency 'morning after' contraception, as well as abortion on demand in rape cases. Such organizations, however, noted that the regulations require written authorization by law enforcement authorities who must certify that a rape had taken place (for victims under 18 a parent or guardian must also provide authorization)."
* An April 2009 cable from Guinea titled, "Exploring Fgm- Sorcery, Secrecy, And Livelihoods" talks about female genital mutilation and the women who perform it. "...Asst Poloff had a rare opportunity to interview women who actually perform FGM, or 'excision'. The interview took place at the community health center, with four local women in attendance. [...] Although any woman can attend the actual procedure, it is usually older girls who have already been excised and/or older female relatives such as aunts or grandmothers. [...] The excisers balked when questioned about the role of men in the practice of excision. The younger exciser explained that men would not 'dare' involve themselves in the domain of women." (And here we Westerners are told that FGM is caused by a thing called "The Patriarchy," not an empowered sisterhood of women. A cable from the UAE in 2005 notes that FGM is inflicted by "elderly women or midwives" when it happens in that country.)
* An April 2009 cable from India discuses sex-selective abortion and gender disparities in the country. "Though President Patil, India's first female president, claimed in her talk in December 2008, in Yavatmal, Maharashtra, 'Today, our women are competing on an equal footing with men,' the reality for many in western India belies this claim."
* A March 2009 cable covering the presidential election season in Slovakia notes how Catholic Church campaigns against one female candidate. "Recently, several bishops helped to ignite the Slovak 'culture wars,' by publicly calling on Catholic voters not to support her. Banska Bystrica's Bishop, Rodulf Balaz, recently went as far as to indirectly compare [her] to Hitler because of her attitudes toward abortion and gays."
* A November 2008 cable from Nicaragua speculates on whether the country's anti-abortion president is causing it to lose foreign aid. "Finland is not the first country to withdraw budget support from Nicaragua since Daniel Ortega became President. In August 2007, Sweden announced it would end its foreign assistance to Nicaragua, as a result of its decision to shift focus on countries in Africa and Eastern Europe. Observers in Nicaragua speculated that the true reason behind the Swedish decision was Ortega's prohibition of therapeutic abortion, an assertion denied by the Swedish Ambassador."
* A July 2008 cable from Ethiopia discusses inteference from an anti-abortion American politician. The country apparently doesn't want outsiders meddling in its laws, citing "the example of Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, who adamantly opposes abortion. When Ethiopia's parliament passed a clause allowing abortion in instances when the mother's life was in danger, Congressman Smith severely criticized the Prime Minister and his government and is now a vocal critic of Ethiopia. If Ethiopia accepted funding from anti-abortion groups and overturned the Parliamentary law to be in compliance with Congressman Smith, it would not be a law truly embraced by the people of Ethiopia."
* A September 2008 cable from the Vatican is titled, "Catholic Movement Wary Of European Human Rights Discourse". The Church is upset that they think Europeans and their governments "are promoting the view that abortion, euthanasia and same sex-marriages are human rights," views that "betray" the "true essence" of human rights according to Catholic religious doctrine.
* A December 2007 cable from Kenya discusses various ways that religion influences politics in the country. On religious activism: "While some positions are clearly in line with church doctrine -- such as the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Kenya calling for aspiring leaders to reject abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty -- other leaders' declarations have been more political and have correspondingly sparked controversy." Good to know that the Catholic Church is always working hard on issues that really matter, like fighting against abortion access in developing countries.
* An October 2007 cable from Nicaragua covers abortion debates and the Catholic Church's role. Interestingly, anti-abortion politicians decided to turn it into a homophobic issue. "Agreeing that the only women in favor of abortion were homosexual, deputy Navarro scornfully called the female protesters 'lesbians, lesbians, lesbians' during his turn at the microphone." The US embassy concludes, "In our discussions with women's organizations and NGOs, we have made it clear that U.S. foreign policy does not condone or recognize the right to abortion."
* A May 2007 cable from Brazil covers the Pope's visit amidst debate on changing the country's archaic abortion laws. Ever the sensitive guy, Pope Benedict "asserted that the spreading of the gospel during colonization did not represent 'alienation of pre-Columbian cultures nor the imposition of a foreign culture.'" The cable also mentions "a Vatican proposal to make religious education obligatory in public schools."
* A March 2007 cable from Senegal plainly spells out that the position of the US government is anti-abortion. It covers the visit of pro-life US Ambassador Rees to discourage the country's adoption of the Maputo Plan, which aims to improve sexual health and family planning for the people of Senegal, and includes abortion. (Trivia: Rees was once a legislative aid to what US Congressman? Chris Smith!) "Ambassador Rees voiced U.S. concerns that the Maputo Plan of Action requires countries to integrate all HIV/AIDS programs with family planning/reproductive health programs, an integration that would likely divert badly needed HIV/AIDS fund to family planning, and also seemed designed to require African countries to make abortion more widely available. [...] During a 30-minute meeting with Minister of Health Abdou Fall on March 21, Ambassador Rees stressed that the Maputo Plan of action was not a consensus document, could create 'an abortion industry in waiting.'"
* A March 2007 cable from the Vatican reports on a "right to life" conference. "Addressing conference delegates during a private audience, Pope Benedict XVI stressed that the right to life must be supported by everyone because 'it is fundamental with respect to other human rights.' The pontiff then lashed out against interest in developed nations in immoral biotechnological research, 'the obsessive search for the perfect child' through genetic selection, a renewed global push for abortion rights and same-sex marriage, which is 'closed to natural procreation.'"
* A February 2007 cable from Portugal notes that the country is about to legalize abortion (up until 10 weeks). The country's leadership "hailed the outcome, underscoring that it would ensure Portugal's move toward modernity and place it among the world's contemporary democracies." I like that increasing abortion access is seen as a cornerstone of modernity and democracy.
* A January 2007 cable from the Vatican summarizes Pope Benedict's speech about what he thinks wrong with Africa. Abortion is apparently one of the key problems facing the continent.
* A December 2006 cable from Nicaragua talks about the country's abortion laws. "[Nicaraguan Minister of Health Margarita] Gurdian expressed regret that the medical community was shut out of the legislative debate that was strongly influenced by Catholic church and Evangelical group interests."
* An August 2006 cable from Fiji discusses the visit of US politicians, who discussed the pressing issues of abortion and war. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican Congressman, "expressed hope that Fiji would not support a UN program that he said advocates abortion as a means of family planning. A spirited discussion followed among several of the congressmen on abortion-related issues." The country was thanked for "Fiji's participation in the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq." (At this point in time, Fiji probably had less than 300 troops in Iraq.) Perhaps in return for their support of the war, Fijian politicians were "very interested in prospects" that the 2000-ish Fijian citizens illegally living in the US can be shown "some consideration" in upcoming immigration bills.
* An August 2006 cable from Vietnam talks about the current state of affairs for the country's population policies, including what it defines as "real abortion". "[A government official] raised doubts about the reliability of abortion rate figures and stated that 93 percent of all reported abortions performed in Vietnam are actually 'menstrual regulation.' This procedure allows women to end a pregnancy during the first trimester by artificially triggering withdrawal bleeding. Some 20 percent of women undergoing this procedure are actually not pregnant and just 'want to be on the safe side,' he said. Therefore, the [government's population department] only considers mid- or late-term abortion cases to be 'real abortions' and has allocated funding to try to reduce the number of these cases, which account for seven percent of the reported abortions."
* A March 2006 cable from Vietnam mentions Congressman Smith's penchant for telling developing other countries what to do with their abortion laws: "Smith had promised to work cooperatively with Vietnam on the issues of combating trafficking in persons (TIP), preventing abortion and promoting religious freedom."
* A March 2006 cable from France summarizes how the US has been portrayed in the local press, including Bush's abortion politics. It quotes one concerned article: "This anti-abortion law does not concern South Dakota alone... When it comes to morals and culture, the wind often blows from the U.S. onto our shores. President Bush, spurred by the 'Christian right' is already waging an anti-abortion crusade worldwide. He is making anti-abortion legislation a condition for aid to poor and developing countries. This crusade will intensify if the right to abortion was questioned in the U.S."
* A January 2006 cable from South Africa expressed US concerns with what it considers "contradictions" in a newly passed law. "Under the new bill, a child can consent to medical treatment, including HIV testing and the purchase of contraceptives, at 12 years of age. Previously, under the Child Care Act, the minimum age had been 14. There are contradictions in the new bill. Having sex with a child aged 15 or younger is considered statutory rape, but the new law assumes a 12-year-old is mature enough to purchase condoms. Another concern is that, at 14 years old, children can now consent to surgical procedures, including abortion. However under the new bill, a girl can consent to giving up her baby for adoption only at 18, whereas previously, a 16-year-old could make that decision."
* A December 2005 cable from Vietnam talks about Congressman Smith's advice of using fake "pregnancy crisis centers". "On abortion, the Congressman noted that faith- based pregnancy-care and pregnancy-crisis centers are very powerful weapons in the fight against abortion."
* Another December 2005 cable from Vietnam states that Congressman Smith "is deeply concerned about the prevalence of abortion in the world". A Vietnamese official smartly notes, "Preventing abortions is a noble goal... a far better solution than abortion is to provide the social and financial methods and resources to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place."
* A September 2005 cable from El Salvador touches on the Catholic Church's anti-abortion lobbying in the country. "[Archbishop] Saenz Lacalle succeeded in an effort to prohibit legally all types of abortion, by busing Catholic schoolchildren to the Legislative Assembly to stage anti-abortion demonstrations. In an effort to influence legislators, Opus Dei also solicited thousands of signatures for anti-abortion petitions from churchgoers after Mass; some political observers viewed this as an inappropriate intervention in national policy on the part of the Catholic Church."
* A November 2004 cable from Brazil reports on an effort to amend strict anti-abortion laws to exclude cases of anencephaly, an extreme deformity that renders a fetus/baby incapable of surviving. An earlier cable on this potential exception notes opposition from a Catholic church group, stating they "will struggle for the preservation of the rights of anencephalics, especially the right to be born." (The Wikipedia page on anencephaly includes photos you may consider disturbing.)
* A January 2004 cable from Ghana mentions the country's abstinence-focused sex ed. "USAID,s program works to decrease the abortion rate by promoting family planning for married couples, educating girls and boys on abstinence and delayed sexual initiation, and advocating faithfulness between married partners (school-based curricula, Life Choices media campaigns and the Church's Counseling curriculum are examples)."
* A November 2003 cable from Croatia explains the Catholic church's role in politics. "Catholics were also directed not to vote for parties and individuals who support legalized abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex marriages."
by Furry Girl
I loved this book, and I don't know how I didn't discover it until recently, because it's very me in many ways. It has so many of the issues that I would cover if I were to write an entire book about why feminism is stupid and counter-productive, to the degree I'm actually relieved someone else has already done it so well.
Having been published 16 years ago, Rene Denfeld's references to leading feminists and prominent areas of feminist concern are, as would be expected, a bit dated. (It is pre-internet, pre- sex-positive, and at the end, briefly notes a newfangled area of feminism showing hope in its youthfulness: riot grrrl.) For example, there's an entire chapter mostly about the growing irrelevance of NOW, but in 2011, I honestly can't think of the last time anyone mentioned NOW, as it has become fully irrelevant. Some stale issues aside, like NOW and lesbian separatism, the overall tone of the book, criticism of core portions of feminist theory, and the good framing device of comparisons to the morality of the Victorian era are all still valid. (Even more so now in some matters, with feminist books like "A Return to Modesty," as well as a general increase in hysteria about "the pornification of our culture.")
Denfeld decries victim feminism, man-hating behaviors such as painting all men as potential rapists and dangers, the expansion of definitions of rape and sexual assault to include cat-calling and sexual comments, the obsession with new age spiritualism, that omnipresent mysterious force called "the patriarchy," and even some older embarrassing dirty laundry like feminist opposition to abortion and birth control (because they turn women into consequence-free sex holes for men). Overall, I love the book's relentless questioning of feminist ideas (whether it be banning porn or adopting goddess religious) with, "...but what good will that do for the majority of women, especially poor women?"
While most of the book has nothing to do with sex work issues, the section on the feminist campaign against porn was solid, doing well to exemplify the vast schism between feminist concerns and the issues that impact average women. When discussing porn, the book doesn't quote sex workers or consider our perspectives/rights at all. The anti-anti-porn arguments in the book are about censorship and time-wasting moral crusades.
By foregoing political and economic activism, current feminists have created a campaign that smacks of classism. Many of the feminist activists working against porn are middle-income and well-educated women. The subjects of their attacks (porn actresses and nude models) are predominantly lower-income and less-educated people - and usually not boasting choice jobs at magazines or universities. It must be recognized that many women freely choose to enter the porn field. And some of their choices are no doubt influenced by the fact that it pays more than flipping hamburgers.
But the antiporn activists don't seem interested in helping lower-class women - try telling an impoverished mother on welfare that outlawing Playboy is the answer to her troubles. And try telling a porn actress that it's better to starve on minimum wage than it is to pose for pictures that middle-class women find immoral. Lost in the rarefied world of academia and backed with cushy jobs, these feminists forget that women can't feed their children on censorship.
Just as in Victorian times (when respectable ladies condemned unrespectable lower-class strumpets), a select group of middle-class women have bestowed upon themselves the title of saviors of female virtue. And just as Victorian ladies blamed prostitutes for their husbands' faithlessness, today's feminists implicitly blame women in pornography for the most reprehensible crime: rape.
Another thing I love is the chapter on feminism's promotion of new age religions, although this has died down a bit since the book was published in the 90s. As someone who angrily bit my tongue as a pagan religious ritual opened last year's Desiree Alliance sex worker conference, I appreciate those who share such annoyances. Denfeld's book rightfully hammers home that there is no historical evidence to suggest that a magical war and weapon-free matriarchy ever existed, though new agers are always quick to rebut that inconvenient truth with conspiracy theories about how The Patriarchy has suppressed the evidence.
The religion is based on theory that reeks of old fashioned sexist stereotypes. Women, again, are held to be the gentler, nurturing, compassionate, and clearly unassertive sex.
This vision of women as spiritually superior - and spiritually pure - has led to devastating inertia. Political and economic activism is suddenly portrayed as quite unnecessary, even distasteful. Instead, goddess aherents are convinced that witchcraft rituals of chanting, burning sage, sending spells, and channeling Aphrodite with effectively advance women's rights.
And so feminism today has taken a distressing step away off the path to equality onto a detour down the yellow brick road. Feminist leaders are now telling women to perform the modern equivalent of the Sioux Indian Ghost Dance, to spend our energies frantically calling upon a mystical golden age in an effort to create a dreamlike future - because such rituals are better suited to our superior nature than fighting directly with men for our rights. This ideal of feminine spiritual purity was used effectively against women in the Victorian era; they were told that, for the more spiritual sex, prayer was the only appropriate means of improving the world. Then, as now, it's striking that the more ineffective an action, the more it's said to reflect "female" values.
Meanwhile, millions of women - young and old - have to cope with unequal pay, lack of affordable child care, nonexistent job opportunities, and raising families without health insurance. Countless more face unavailable birth control and abortion, sexual harassment in the workplace, or no workplace at all. And many face the trauma of rape and domestic violence under a judicial system that too often slaps offenders lightly on the wrist. Goddess worship does absolutely nothing for these women.
If this sounds like embellishment to you, perhaps you're not old enough to remember the massive popularity of one particular nutter who goes by Starhawk. She was devoted to distracting the west coast left during the 1990s and early 2000s, admonishing activists to focus on spell-casting and sending out magic spirit vibes rather than engage in protests or directly confronting businesses/governments. Thankfully, Starhawk gets thoroughly ridiculed in the book, including a "blockade" of hers where a bunch of witches shined flashlights in the direction of a nuclear power plant in an attempt to shut it down. When the power plant later had a temporary technical issue causing some downtime, Starhawk took credit. (You can't make up stuff this funny!)
In the chapter rebutting the notion of a patriarchy that's somehow a sentient force and conspiracy to oppress women through the evils of science and rational thinking, Denfeld gets a standing ovation from me yet again.
Patriarchal theory appeals to many feminists because it takes the onus off women when it comes to problems such as racism, sexism, and violence - although female Ku Klux Klan members to abusive mothers, women have done their share to add to these ills. It is also appealing because it acts as a rallying cry, allowing feminists to condemn a common enemy while ignoring class and cultural differences among women. By asserting that all women are oppressed under the patriarchy, feminists often implicitly dismiss the experiences of minority, poor, and working class women: A single mother on welfare and Gloria Steinem are portrayed as having more in common than not.
What makes this ironic is that oppression is defined solely from the viewpoint of current feminist leaders, who tend to be well-educated, affluent white women enjoying careers as authors, speakers, and tenured professors. For instance, in The Beauty Myth, a 1991 book detailing how there is a "backlash" against women via beauty standards, Yale graduate Naomi Wolf likens the beauty methods of upper-middle-class women to the medieval torture instrument known as the iron maiden, a spike-lined body-shaped casket in which victims suffered slow, agonizing deaths. When women who exemplify the American dream and the fruits of feminism - educated in the finest universities, getting paid for the careers of their choice, well-respected, and enjoying all the freedoms and comforts life has to offer - write books comparing their lives with medieval torture, it's not surprising that many lower-income women don't find much in common with the movement.
In the nineteenth century, as feminist concern moved on from fighting for the right to vote to fighting to repress sexual materials and female sexuality, a familiar issues played out in the wake of a new law passed to prevent - you guessed it - child sex trafficking.
Rather than used to halt child prostitution, this legislation was mostly enforced against poor adult women. It dramatically changed the structure of prostitution, with devastating effects for the women involved. Full-time prostitution up to that time was largely a brothel industry maintained by women. While these brothels varied from squalid shacks to fancy houses, they at least offered prostitutes a degree of safety and economic autonomy: Many women were assured food and a roof over their heads as well as protection from the authorities. But under this feminist-driven law, the brothels were closed, forcing prostitutes to work on the streets, where they had to rely on male pimps for protection... Far from eradicating prostitution, these feminists only drove them underground -- and once out of sight, the prostitutes suffered more.
Where the Denfeld and I sharply diverge, however, is that at the end of the day, her book is about inspiring young women to "reclaim" feminism and make it a part of their identities, and insisting that anyone who supports birth control or equal pay is a feminist, whether they like it or not. Despite being written to get more people to call themselves feminists (though it's never explained why on earth that matters), I still consider this a great read. I took a bunch of notes, and will be reading some of the source material and using it in places in my own book, if and when that ever comes to fruition.
Buy The New Victorians through this Amazon link and a portion of the sales price will go to SWAAY.
by Furry Girl
The left tends to have a very neurotic concept of the past. Supposedly, one must be either eternally grateful or eternally guilty about things that "your" gender/genetic ancestors/nationality did or didn't do decades or centuries before you were born, things over which you have zero control and possibly even zero knowledge. This isn't to say that I don't believe it's important to consider the ways in which privilege shapes our lives and society, but the obsession with gratefulness or guiltiness doesn't make people anything but defensive, motivating them to lie about their background and refuse to actually think about their privileges.
Perhaps the most popular "look at how clever I am, proving you a hypocrite!" comments that I receive are people who argue that because I have benefited from the work of feminists, I should to be obsessively grateful to all of feminism as a whole, forever. Since I can vote, earn money, own property, be granted divorce, and get birth control or an abortion, I am an ungrateful little shit for not being a feminist now.
There were women (and men!) who fought long and hard so that future generations of women could vote and do other important things. I don't dispute that. But why is it that in order to express my thanks and solidarity for their hard work, I should be a feminist? That's a strange thing to cherry-pick as the belief I should adopt to honor those who fought for women's basic rights.
Almost all of the early activists for women's rights were Christians, motivated by "liberal" religious beliefs as much as what one could call feminist beliefs. Why is no one telling me to convert to Christianity in order respect these early activists who did things that have benefited me? Thanks to Christians, women can now vote, own property, and have all sorts of equality! We all owe Christianity big time. If you are a woman who votes or owns property, but you're not a Christian, you are an ungrateful little shit!
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.
by Furry Girl
"At least the Salvationists are up-front about their religious motivation. If anything they tend, as individuals, to be considerably less judgemental than their ideologically-driven counterparts in the feminist movement. As regards their motivation and objectives, there's little to choose between the two groups: they use the same language of degradation and objectification, and they share the same fundamentally conservative view of a woman's "proper" sexual role. When it comes to sexual illiberalism, religious and feminist groups have long been in covert and sometimes overt agreement. Yes, the Salvation Army probably at some level want to convert the women they rescue to Christianity. But [British anti-sex worker group] Eaves want to convert them to their brand of doctrinaire feminism. Is that really any better?"
-- The Heresiarch, in Feminists and Evangelicals compete to rescue fallen women on heresycorner.blogspot.com
by Furry Girl
"We have an enormous problem with trying to counter people's emotional arguments with rational facts.
After all, if facts were enough, we wouldn't need scare warnings on cigarettes, since the connection between smoking and lung cancer is well and widely known.
From my point of view, while the evidence is clear, there's a problem with trying to gain support from people who don't already subscribe to this view. We definitely need to keep pushing the research, but also, try to tap into the emotional argument in a way so people can understand why the facts matter. Bottom line, when it comes down to Facts vs. Fear Related To Your Kids, most people will choose the fear option 'just to be on the safe side'.
We need to start thinking about how to make the truth appealing, not inaccessible. We need to tap into cultural values as much as we already rely on intellectual honesty. Let's start the discussion."
-- Brooke Magnanti (aka Belle de Jour), in The Irrationality of the Anti-Sex Lobby on freedominapuritanage.co.uk
For me, as a sex worker, this sort of thing ties into my pleas for more of us to be out. Knowing sex workers, just like knowing queer people, does a lot to chip away at people's prejudices, and ultimately, the laws and politicians put into place by the public. It's harder to legislate against and disregard the safety of sex workers if your brother or daughter or mom is a sex worker.
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
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
- 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