by Furry Girl
I had two conversations in the last week that involved talk of memoirs. I still get asked sometimes if I'm planning to write a memoir about my experiences in sex work, and my answer is no. The reason why has changed over time, however.
I seriously thought about it several years ago, read a couple of books on getting nonfiction published, and talked to people who have written books (that weren't self-published). The conclusion I made was that the effort simply wasn't worth the money. Unless you're already famous and can secure a good advance, you write a memoir for personal satisfaction, not because you want to get paid. I was told that I would be lucky to get $5000 for a first time nonfiction book, and that was maybe 5 years ago. Even with borrowing already-written material from my blog, let's say that writing new material, doing research, and revising would be a full-time project for 6 months. (And then all the time that goes into promoting a book once it's released.) $5000 for 6 months of work? Nope, my time is worth more than that And since my end game with sex work was never to write a book about it, the bragging rights didn't offset the financial loss of taking time away from work that pays decently to do work that pays poorly.
My reason for not wanting to write a memoir is also about the pointlessness of such an endeavor. Let's get real: there are already too many sex work memoirs written by intelligent white chicks in their 20s and 30s from major cities in the English-speaking world. We are not beautiful and unique snowflakes. We as a civilization already have sufficient "I was a sex worker, but here's the big twist! I am also smart!" books. There is no stone that has been left unturned. Even though yes, I think I have my own slightly different spin on things, I'm self-aware enough to know that my views are not so unique that I could possibly truly break new ground.
As someone now working in science, there's a process one goes through before starting any project. It's called a literature review, and the point is twofold: to familiarize yourself with the existing knowledge and methods in an area so you know the norm for the field, and so that you can justify that your project will be doing something new and noteworthy that someone else hasn't done before. Otherwise, what's the point of spending years on a project if someone already published what is essentially the same thing? Science (and its limited funding) forces one to do some ruthlessly honest introspection and ask, "is my clever idea actually that special?" I wish that same level of rigor was applied by people who are considering doing anything. Few sex work books pass this test in 2016.
I remember 10-15 years ago when there were only a handful of books in the genre. I devoured memoirs, anthologies, and nonfiction excitedly back in the day when it was as easy task to read all the books written by and about sex workers. Times have changed, and for the better. Sex work is no less interesting, but holy fuck, we have enough contributions from people like me. I hope that other white middle class (former) sex workers from major cities will step back and realize their stories have already been told. Ad nauseam. I hope to read more memoirs from sex workers who don't fit the cliche of "sex work memoirist." Those are the stories that I want to see told. Not mine.
by Furry Girl
I rarely update my blog now that I am no longer in the jizz biz in any shape or form, but I'm planning to keep it online for now. I am glad that people still find value in some of the content and appreciate the nice emails I receive, and I'd also hate to delete my blog and have my detractors take that a victory. I launched this blog in 2009, making some of the content 7 years old at this point. While I'd love to have the free time to make my blog a dynamic living masterpiece that I can update, expand upon, revise, and improve, my writings are a snapshot of what I was thinking on a particular day. I occasionally receive email or comments on Twitter where someone tries to throw a "gotcha" question in my face which demonstrates their inability to notice the publication date on the post they're currently angry about. Since I was not a time traveler in my younger days (alas!), and since I rarely revise or update a post, my writings do not address things that had not yet happened at the time of the posting. This goes doubly so for the "if only you'd read [new dumb feminist book], you'd think completely differently!" comments. One of the benefits of leaving the sex industry is knowing I'll never again feel obliged to waste my time reading the latest recycled drivel so that I can rebuke it.
by Furry Girl
There's a wonderful new photo project at WomenAgainstFeminism.Tumblr.com that you must read. It shows the huge political diversity of women who are standing up against feminism. (See, you guys! It's not just a few random whores and Sarah Palin types.) I love this Tumblr, and I wish I'd thought of it. Here's my contribution:
by Furry Girl
It's been a while since I've done a public shout-out to people who have sent me gifts. I'm sorry for the delay! I do love that people I've never met send me presents, so I'm sorry if anyone felt neglected. A special thanks to the awesome people who sent me gifts from my Amazon wishlist: AM, AP, DR, DS, EM, EW, JD, JM, KS, MF, and T! (Please make sure include your email address in the "gift comments" field on Amazon so I can send you a thank you. Some books came without such a note, so I have no idea who to thank.)
My new books:
* Women's Inhumanity to Women by Phyllis Chesler
* Society of the Spectacle by Guy DeBord
* The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan
* Legalizing Prostitution: From Illicit Vice to Lawful Business by Ronald Weitzer
* The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
* The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer
* Tripping the Prom Queen: The Truth about Women and Rivalry by Susan Shapiro Barash
* The Science on Women and Science by Christina Hoff Sommers
* Is There Anything Good About Men? by Roy F Baumeister
* Vegan a la Mode by Hannah Kaminsky
* Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie, a Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss
* Camp Concentration by Thomas Disch
* Gender Myths and Feminist Fables: The Struggle for Interpretive Power in Gender and Development (anthology)
* Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstitions, and Other Confusions of Our Time by Michael Shermer
* Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto by Chuck Closterman
* Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
* The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling by Arlie Russell Hochschild
If you buy any of these above-mentioned books through their Amazon affiliate links, a portion of the price goes to SWAAY.
by Furry Girl
I'm working on a few new blog posts, so no folks, I'm not dead yet.
In the mean time, you should support Drew at Toothpaste for Dinner and The Worst Things for Sale. He's been posting pleas for people to buy merch (shirts, books, housewares, and original drawings), because like me, he doesn't know how much longer he can afford to entertain the internet for free. I've never met the guy, and I get no financial kickback on sales in his store, but I love his work, and it's brought many a smile to my life. Blogging isn't a (well-)paying job despite the myth that blogging = mega famous book deal = millions, and only a rare few people are able to parlay such adventures into jobs that can even pay the rent. Check out Drew's store, buy something cute, and enjoy the years of comics he has posted on his site. It's awkward, nerdy, pro-science, anti-pretentiousness, and all sorts of other good things. Three of my favorites comics, the first of which I own as an original drawing:
And as always, remember to support people who create free stuff for the internet.
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
Thank you very much to the awesome people who sent me gifts from my Amazon wishlist: Raikin, Stella Maris, AP, BO, and CL! (Please make sure include your email address in the "gift comments" field on Amazon so I can send you a thank you.)
My new books:
* The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker
* Not Bad For A Human an autobiography by Lance Henriksen, with Joseph Maddrey
* The Madame Curie Complex: The Hidden History of Women in Science by Julie Des Jardins
* Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science by Charles J. Wheelan
* Symmetry: A Journey into the Patterns of Nature by Marcus Du Sautoy
* Whores and Other Feminists by Jill Nagle
* Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences by John Allen Paulos
* The History of Sexuality, Vol. 3: The Care of the Self by Michel Foucault
* Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman
* Taste the Flavors (The Erotic Web) by Stella Maris (sent to me by the author, a fan of my sites.)
And who could resist the Breaking Bad chucks? MF sent them as a birthday present a while ago.
If you buy any of these above-mentioned books through their Amazon affiliate links, a portion of the price goes to SWAAY.
by Furry Girl
Something I often hear from my blog and Twitter readers is that they love my writing, the news links I share, or my perspectives in general, but that they're not into porn, or their wife won't let them buy porn, or that the kind of porn I make just isn't their taste. (I'm not offended. I know that armpit hair, blood, strapons aren't exactly the most popular niches of erotic material.) Or maybe the $20 price tag is too high for them in the recession, or they're scared of using their credit card to make adult purchases. There are all sorts of reason that someone might want to tip me in some way, but they're just not keen on what I'm selling or how I'm selling it. This kind of thing is even more problematic for sex workers who aren't pitching anything online, such as strippers with a Twitter fanbase mostly outside their own city, or escorts who don't connect their "internet blogging persona" with their work persona, and stand to gain nothing financially from their writing. (Not to mention all the former sex workers who still have a strong online presence as such.)
Sex workers do a lot to amuse the world for free through our blogs, Twitter accounts, and other writing outlets, but most of us don't seem to be getting much out of it, on a bottom-line compensation level. Sure, some sex workers get occasional pieces published on large mainstream web sites that pay a pittance, and others are able to parlay their popularity into books, but for the most part, we spend plenty of time as free entertainers in our "off time" when we're not entertaining people for money at work.
What I've been curious about this week is how other online sex workers prefer to get tips, how well those avenues work, and how much time people put into trying to drive their readers to these "tip jars." After asking about it on Twitter, it seems like the most popular thing by far is having an Amazon wishlist. I thought I'd make a list of ways that blogging/tweeting sex workers can pull in some extra money, in hopes that more of us can get a little something tangible for our awesomeness.
Of the methods I use, my Amazon wishlist is the best for my blog and Twitter worlds, and I generally get a couple of books a month. (Which I would be buying anyway, so it saves me money.) I get maybe $5 a month from linking to books I recommend via my Amazon affiliate account. I make $50-100 a month linking to porn affiliates from my porn sites. It's not a lot, but I put zero effort into promoting my affiliate links, nor do I push my wishlist heavily, so I'm happy with my returns. There are definitely sex workers who get a lot more out of their wishlists than I do, and bloggers who make a part-time income on promoting sex toy and porn affiliate programs, so the potential is there.
If you have a suggestion or addendum, post it in the comments.
- Setup, privacy, and hassles: You do need to disclose a mailing address in order for things to be shipped to you. Your full mailing address is not revealed to the public, just the mail-to name and your city/state.
- Pros: People are very familiar with using Amazon wishlists, and there's high customer trust that their purchase is secure. The checkout is easy, and most people already have accounts with Amazon. Pretty much everything is for sale on Amazon, from butt plugs to cat litter to gourmet food.
- Cons: You need a post office box or other mail service. You can also use initials or another fake name to protect your sex work identity from the mail box company. (Let's say you are known as Tammy Tittyfuck. Get a mail box for Tammy's Telephones, and having Amazon send things to "Tammy" or "TT.")
- This method seems to work the best: I think that guys most like sending women "sexy" things, like clothing and shoes. My own wishlist is pretty much all books so they don't have a choice, but I've seen others have success with getting their fans to buy their work outfits. Try a mix of items and see what works best for you.
- Setup, privacy, and hassles: Depends on the business. Lots of stores do online gift certificates, so you only have to disclose an email address.
- Pros: No mail box required. Also, let's say you like Amazon, but don't want frilly panties and sexy things, and instead want to buy food and tampons and boring stuff. This allows you to use tips more like cash. You could also resell these, but the eBay resale value on gift certificates is usually less than 50% of face value.
- Cons: People can feel like it's less personal, and may prefer to get you an exact item that you'll be using in your life.
- This method seems to work the best: (I'm not sure! Any tips on making the most out of gift cards?)
Sex toy and porn affiliate links
- Setup, privacy, and hassles: You need to disclose a legal name (or business name) and mailing address and/or bank routing information to receive your payouts. They have to put something on the checks/wire transfers, and unless you're incorporated as such, you can't cash a check made out to "Tammy Tittyfuck."
- Pros: Cash money. Some sex toy stores give out free products in exchange for coverage of them on your blog, so if you don't have enough sex toys, here's your chance. Weekly or monthly payouts, depending on the affiliate programs.
- Cons: May be taxable income, consult your accountant. How much you make really depends on how well an affiliate works with your own traffic and readership. Try a bunch of different things, but without filling your blog with too many ads and alienating readers. Affiliate links have minimum payouts, such as CCBill's $25. It could take you a while to reach the minimum payout required.
- This method seems to work the best: For people who want to pitch sex toys, porn movies, and such on their blogs as reviews. Make sure you're sending traffic to an affiliate program that is appropriate with your audience. Check your stats, and jettison affiliate programs that aren't making you much money, and try something else.
Amazon affiliate accounts
- Setup, privacy, and hassles: You need a legal name or business name to receive payments, just like other affiliate programs.
- Pros: Amazon sells everything, and they have a low minimum payout. (I think it's $10, and payouts are once a month.) You can link to a book you like, and hope your fans will go buy it through your link to Amazon. You can also ask people to do their normal shopping on Amazon after clicking your affiliate link, so you can make money on products that you don't even promote on your site.
- Cons: The payout percentage is very low, starting at just 4%. May be taxable income.
- This method seems to work the best: If you recommend books or other items, or if you pester your readers to do normal Amazon shopping after going through your link. If you're already mentioning books, albums, or basically anything on your blog, why not use an affiliate link?
- Huh..? Flattr is a new-ish micropayment system. The point is to get enough of your readers to "flattr" you by giving you a tiny monetary tip, and having it all add up at the end of the month. It's a great concept, but it hasn't hit serious popularity yet. I've received only one tip in months of having a Flattr link on my blog.
- Setup, privacy, and hassles: Easy signup, but since I haven't withdrawn money yet, I don't know what I have to disclose for a withdrawal.
- Pros: Possibly the wave of the future?
- Cons: You need to have collected at least 10 Euros to be able to withdraw your tips from your account. At this stage in Flattr's life, that will probably take a very long time.
- This method seems to work the best: (No idea. Any suggestions from those who get decent returns via Flattr?)
Team ho: what's been your experience? Which "tip jars" work best for you, and how do you get the most out of them? If you're in the fan/reader camp, which methods do you prefer for tipping your favorite sex work writers and bloggers, and why?
by Furry Girl
[Updated after NPR responded by snidely mocking me on their web site and refusing to so much as apologize. If they would prefer to handle this as an internet flame war, I'll give them one Google will remember until the end of time.]
This week, I got a surprising email from a friend. He'd heard an NPR program, On the Media, re-hash what was obviously one of my blog posts, but without attribution to either my pseudonym or my blog URL. It was about my FOIA story from a couple of months ago. I knew exactly what my friend was referring to, because I had declined an interview request from On the Media's pushy and annoying Sarah Abdurrahman last week. They'd gone ahead and done a story on me anyway, borrowing from my blog post, and I would have never known of NPR's theft if I didn't know someone who listened to the show.
The punchline is that On the Media portrays itself as a bastion of media ethics, bravely "[tackling] sticky issues with a frankness and transparency that has built trust with listeners." This wasn't just some Tumblr account with a dozen followers pilfering my work, but a nationally-broadcast radio program on NPR, which proudly cites that it "has won Edward R. Murrow Awards for feature reporting and investigative reporting, the National Press Club's Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism and a Peabody Award for its body of work."
My FOIA story is definitely one of the most "journalistic" pieces I've ever had on my blog. Yes, it has snark, but it's also real original reporting. I filed Freedom of Information Act requests with over a dozen government agencies, waited for about 7 months, and then combed through over 400 pages of disclosure to find the pieces of the story I most wanted to tell. I wasn't just posting my opinions on a popular news item of the week that someone else broke, I was writing based on original source materials, for which I was the only civilian who has access. I was posting things that had never been online previously, but would be of interest to the public. If that's not "real journalism," I don't know what is.
Not only was my FOIA piece a genuinely journalistic effort on my part, it's also a very personal topic. I am especially protective of my work being stolen by NPR because it's about me and my experiences as an activist. I wasn't writing about FBI surveillance of the Black Panthers from 40 years ago, I was writing about the FBI surveillance detail that followed me for a few days. This is my story in every sense of the word.
I am referred to only as "a woman" in Sarah Abdurrahman's broadcast of minute and a half which carefully avoids using a name for me, and although the show's summary on the web does link to my blog (though still doesn't mention my name or my blog's name), I doubt many NPR listeners actually check every show's web summary after a story to see if any extra references have been added. I certainly have never sought out a radio show's web site to read a show's summary and make sure it reflected what I heard on the air. Radio is a broadcast media that provides audio news and commentary, the audience are listeners, not readers. An online summary is merely filler and search engine optimizing for their web site, another way to get listeners and money. NPR and Sarah Abdurrahman stole my work, and I didn't even get the benefit of some national exposure.
I publish my blog under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. For those unfamiliar with Creative Commons, it's a way for "content creators" like me to protect their work while also allowing for sharing of ideas. It's a more personalized form of copyright protection that lets a creator specify what people can and can't do with their work. Creative Commons has held up in multiple courts around the world as a real copyright policy, including federal court in the US, so it's not a "made-up goofball license" as someone obnoxiously said to me on Twitter.
My specific Creative Commons stipulations mean that you can share, quote, and repost my writing, but you can't use it for commercial purposes, you are required to attribute it to my pseudonym and blog with a link, and that you can't make derivative works, defined as "You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work." The derivative works portion is a grey area, and whether or not the taxpayer-subsidized NPR counts as "commercial" is also up for debate, but NPR and Sarah Abdurrahman unquestionably violated the attribution requirements of my Creative Commons licensing. Even the one link they provided to my blog on their show summary page on the web (which probably has .0001% of the audience of their radio broadcast) didn't follow the attribution requirements. To quote my Creative Commons license conditions, "Attribution — You must attribute Feminisnt to Furry Girl (with link)."
As far as I can tell, the attribution portion of Creative Commons license has not yet been tested in court in the United States. It has been tested in Belgium and Israel, and in both cases, the content creator won the case. I would love to the the American test case for attribution.
NPR and Sarah Abdurrahman violated both the letter and spirit of my Creative Commons licensing, and in doing so, they have opened themselves up to legal action. [See my third update at the end of this post.]
Here's more of the backstory, which you can skip if you're short on time, and go directly to the final paragraphs of this post.
On February 28, after sending emails asking for an interview about my FOIA story at 8:55am, 10:58am, and 11:00am, NPR's Sarah Abdurrahman moved to Twitter and yet again contacted me at 12:55pm. (News flash: if I don't reply to your annoying messages within the hour, don't assume you need to keep contacting me over and over and over. This is considered bad internet behavior.) I normally delete and ignore messages from people who exhibit spammer-level cluelessness, but I was feeling generous, and replied to the first of Sarah Abdurrahman's emails, shown below.
From: "Sarah Abdurrahman" <SAbdurrahman@wnyc.org>
Date: February 28, 2012 8:55:59 AM PST
Subject: from NPR
I am a producer with the National Public Radio program On the Media, a media analysis show that covers topics from First Amendment issues, to new media, and everything in between. You can find out more about us at onthemedia.org. One of the topics we like to discuss is transparency and Freedom of Information…which is why I was so interested to come across your story about FOIA-ing yourself! If you are available, we would love to have you on our program to talk about your experience with FOIA. We are not a live show, so we can be fairly flexible with scheduling an interview. Are you available to join us? Thanks in advance,
Sarah Abdurrahman|On the Media
160 Varick Street, New York NY 10013
T: 646.829.4567|E: firstname.lastname@example.org
WNYC: WNYC.ORG|93.9 FM|AM 820
I do not feel like I'm the best person to speak on the issue of Freedom of Information Act Requests, or on the domestic surveillance of American activists. I really believe that "we" should only put forward the formal or informal spokespersons who are the best at a topic. It always annoys me when I see people who don't know an issue well trying to explain it to the media, especially media like a radio or television broadcasts. For those reasons, I declined the interview and referred Abdurrahman to someone whose work centers on that topic in which she was interested. (I'm omitting his name and credentials from these emails just to avoid dragging him into the mess.) I was already being too nice, in retrospect. I tend to err on the side of politeness when dealing with the media, even if they're annoying pests, because you never know when you might need them in the future.
From: Feminisnt <>
Date: February 28, 2012 3:06:34 PM PST
To: Sarah Abdurrahman <SAbdurrahman@wnyc.org>
Subject: Re: from NPR
Thanks for contacting me. I'm flattered by the offer, but I really don't think my case is particularly interesting or special. There are much more interesting topics when it comes to FBI surveillance of American activists, and I'd rather see a more meaningful case get air time. I agree that it's a great topic, but my situation isn't special, and I'm not an expert on FOIA issues in general. My particular incident of being followed went nowhere and resulted in no arrests, whereas some cases result in major prosecutions, illegal wiretaps, and far more amusing anecdotes.
If you're looking for someone to discuss government surveillance of activists, [redacted] would be a much better choice than me, and he's written a lot about surveillance and prosecution of [activists]. His email address is [redacted].
Sarah Abdurrahman refused to take "no" for an answer, and sent me two more emails, on February 28 and 29. Maybe it's a sex worker thing, but anytime someone openly disrespects my politely telling them "no," and continues to insist that I should acquiesce to their demands, I immediately close off and decide I will never have anything to do with them. Sex work teaches you nothing if not boundaries and how to assert your limits in the face of pushy people who feel entitled to your time and energy. If I say "no" to you the first time, I will never, ever change my mind if you keep bothering me.
The meta issue of NPR, On the Media, and Sarah Abdurrahman's theft and disrespect is this: the "legitimate" media - meaning anyone who can afford broadcast licenses or physical paper distribution, even if it's a "small" news organization like NPR - shits on bloggers and independent writers all the time. We're just a bunch of silly kids making lolcats and scribbling nonsense, except when we're not, and then the media will shamelessly steal our work. How often do you see CNN or a major news network not bother to send reporters to cover stories, but just read off the tweets from bloggers and others in an area? That's but one example of how the mainstream media loves to use bloggers and independent writers while stopping short of truly respecting their legitimacy as reporters. Bloggers are not only sometimes the best sources of news, but sometimes the only sources. We break new ground, we do original research, we look at source material the mainstream usually doesn't even bother with, and best case scenario, a "real" media agency might read a few sentences from us on the air amid their fluff. Add to the mix that I write mostly about sexual politics and sex work, and I'm beyond invisible, I'm the lowest scum on the "respectable writers" totem pole. It feels like a double dose of the disregarding sneer the mainstream press shows to both bloggers and sex workers. (Sex workers constantly cope with outsiders re-telling, re-purposing, and twisting our stories for their benefit, not ours.)
I've emailed a number of lawyers, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation about my issue, and I'd love to take this to federal court as a test case for the attribution requirements of Creative Commons. I haven't fired off my own DMCA takedown requests, because I'm generally loath to use the over-reaching DMCA laws, even when I'm in the right. I believe it's important to keep pushing the message that bloggers can be journalists, that Creative Commons is a real copyright that should be respected, and that the media can't just steal from small unpaid writers like myself. (See the EFF's guide to blogger's rights issues here.)
Aside from the occasional presents from my wishlist, I am not compensated for the countless hours I've poured into writing. I write about things I'm passionate about, and I do so without expectation of riches, fame, or ever "crossing over" into the world of "real" writing. I simply don't want news organizations and journalists blithely stealing my work without so much as attribution or a thank you, just so they can earn their salaries, ad/sponsorship revenue, or viewer donations at my expense. I don't think that's too much to ask. I put a lot of my time and pieces of my life out there to write my FOIA story. It's not fair that NPR, On the Media, and Sarah Abdurrahman get to illegitimately and illegally benefit from my efforts.
Update one, March 8th: On the Media's Katya Rogers posted a response on their web site. Rather than apologizing, they distort the situation and mock me. They've just thrown a bucket of gasoline on this fire, and made it clear they have no intention of apologizing for either their ethical violations or their legal violations. They even blame me for the situation because I didn't want to be interviewed for their story. Since when does a refusal to be interviewed translate as, "Instead, just steal my work without attribution"? As is often done by people who dislike me, I am dismissively referred to as "someone calling herself 'Furry Girl'," to draw attention to my pseudonym as a means to discredit me or make me seem unreliable. (Wait, but if I'm such a fake person who can't be trusted, why did they so desperately want me to be on their radio show, and why did they do a story on me?) NPR is particularly incensed and calls it "seriously beyond the pale" that I would dare to call out by name the journalist who stole my work. Oh, so that's the game? You don't want it showing up in Google that NPR, On the Media, and Sarah Abdurrahman engage in content theft from a blogger? Thanks for telling me how to proceed!
Update two, March 8th: This is something of a sidenote, but I feel it's worth sharing. A friend of mine posted a comment on On the Media's web site, which they manually edited. They didn't just delete a comment they didn't like in its entirely, they de-clawed his argument to make themselves look better. His comment linked to my blog as a reference for what I've actually said, which is in contrast to their twisting of what transpired. On the Media's comment policy does not bar commenters from posting links. This was a manual, selective edit of one person's comment to make NPR look better.
Update three, March 11th: After talking to some lawyers and people who follow copyright enforcement issues, on a financial level, it's sadly just not worth it to sue NPR. The problem is that it would cost me a huge amount of money in legal fees to get what would surely be only a small monetary settlement. For me, it's not about money, it's about the point that I require attribution, but no attorney wants to launch a federal copyright case on the hopes of getting a portion of what... $50? $500? It drives me up the wall that NPR can do whatever the hell it wants, violate any sense of journalistic ethics, no doubt knowing that any court settlement they'd have to pay out wouldn't be worth it to me to fight for. The professional media wins, the small blogger they're stealing from loses, simply because I don't their kind of audience and money. (And it stings extra that we, as American taxpayers, subsidize NPR. They're using my money to screw me over, and I don't have enough money to fight back.)
I will not be publishing comments from the NPR apologists (or employees?) who are starting to find their way to my blog. You can go fawn over NPR on their own web site, you don't get to take up space on my server to defend their shitty behavior.
by Furry Girl
If you don't already follow the funny/sad/personal Sex Worker Problems blog, I will agan remind you to do so. There was a post with a question about how to explain gaps in your resume if you move out of sex work and apply for straight jobs, and I shared my two cents about one could tackle that problem.
I’m almost 28, and I’ve been a sex worker since I was 18. I have no plans to leave sex work any time soon, but the “what would I tell potential employers” thing always seemed like a no-brainer to me, so long as one doesn’t mind lying. Here are two completely plausible lies that a potential straight employer has no way of disproving...
Furry Girl: legs now closed for business.
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
Vaguely similar blogs
- Amanda Brooks
- Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers
- Belle de Jour
- Born Whore
- Bound, Not Gagged
- Dan Savage on SLOG
- Danny Wylde
- Jiz Lee
- Laura Agustín
- Lux Nightmare [2006-2007]
- Maggie McNeill
- Our Porn, Ourselves
- Sequoia Redd
- Serpent Libertine
- Sexonomics by Brooke Magnanti
- Shit They Say to Sex Workers
- Stuff Sex Workers Eat
- Women Against Feminism