by Furry Girl

11.23.13

"The problem is that female competition and aggression don't always look like the male versions...

Females tend to threaten each other with social isolation rather than violence.  Among social animals, being cast out of the group can mean death, or very few chances to mate.  Among humans, perhaps the most social animals we know, the 'mean girls' phenomenon is a perfect example of low energy competition.  Nobody is beaten, but we know for sure who has lost the battle."

-- Annalee Newitz  in Evolution is steered by aggressive competition between females on io9.com





by Furry Girl

09.20.13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





by Furry Girl

07.25.13

"Here's what I, personally, have observed about the sex industry: If, before she ever enters the sex industry, a woman is an emotionally troubled person with poor self-esteem and a history of bad decisions, she'll continue making bad decisions and suffering the negative consequences while she's in the business.  But now, some of them will be sex-work-related decisions and consequences, so it's easy for people to say, "Well, obviously it's because she's a sex worker.  See what an unhappy, damaging life it is?"  And she'll probably agree with them, because it's easy for a troubled, low-self-esteem person to buy into the victim mentality.  That way, she can then avoid taking any responsibility for her choices.  So she's tucked neatly into the victim pigeon-hole, and everyone thanks goodness they don't have to examine any potentially unsettling ideas any further.  Their pre-existing beliefs have been confirmed and they feel righteous.

Now, she could fuck up her life just as badly if she were a waitress at Denny's.  But that's not as sexy, so no one writes newspaper articles about that.

You see, the work itself doesn't fuck you up - it just magnifies what's already there."

-- Mistress Matisse in an untitled post on mistressmatisse.blogspot.com

This is probably my favorite thing that she's ever written.  It's from 2004, and these observations completely match my experiences in the sex industry as well.





by Furry Girl

02.06.12

"The ["fake"] women are loud, hyper-real versions of the femininity to which we are all supposed to aspire, and the disdain with which our culture drenches them is a telling indictment of its own narratives.

What we have is not a war against fakery, it is a war against that which displays itself as fakery; we're all supposed to be pretending that we're naturally wide-eyed and soft-skinned and blushing and blemish-free. Women are expected to be photorealist portraits of femininity, not expressionist canvasses; lies are tolerated only in so far as they are told convincingly. But when we start being too overt about the fabricated status of natural femininity, there's a lurking danger that we might start to question their absurdity, or realise that we can invent altogether new images in radical moulds.

[...]

Style and beauty are produced, discarded and reinvented with startling rapidity and, in such a climate, the very notion of the natural can be seen for what it really is: just another aesthetic category, its signs every bit as carefully fabricated as the most flamboyant artifice."

-- Shona McCombes, In defence of fake beauty on thefword.org.uk

People are often surprised that I'll be the first person to speak out in defense of makeup, shaving, and cosmetic surgery.  They shouldn't be, though.

It really bothers me when some of my male fans and clients assume that my own unshaved crotch means I must have a pathological hatred of women who choose to shave.  For almost a decade now, I've been greeted at least a dozen times each week with comments like, "Thank god you're not one of those disgusting fake bimbos," with the unthinking assumption I am in complete agreement about said bimbo's supposed disgustingness.

Why don't I shave?  Because I'm kinda fucking lazy.  I'm a tomboy-ish chick who doesn't generally put a ton of work into my appearance, and I personally don't feel like the effort and itchiness and pain and money that goes into removing hair is worth it.  I never advocate that others join me, I'm not out to convert and save follicular souls.

I wish all of my Furry Girl fanbase understood that I don't hate women who shave, and it's always disturbed me that some of them start an interaction with me by assuming we have a shared hatred.  Not a shared fetish or interest, but starting off a conversation or email talking shit on women who are not me, and I don't find this the least bit flattering.  It's totally cool to have whatever body hair preference or fetish, but stop projecting your angry shit onto me.  (I'm angry about plenty of other things, but I don't give the slightest damn as to how other women groom their crotches.)

I realize that it must be frustrating if you have an uncommon sexual interest that most women do not want to cater to, but that doesn't mean those women are low-IQ monsters.  Writing them off with nonsensical personal attacks such as saying they must be "incapable of thinking for themselves" because they won't indulge your kink is not a demonstration of how "sexually liberated" or "appreciative of real beauty" you are.  Sexual empowerment is about everyone making their own choices with their bodies, not pushing for some kind of fascist society where all women are forced against their will to look a certain way for the amusement of a small group of men.  That's everything that I am against, not what I support.





by Furry Girl

10.04.11

"One thing I do not see, sadly, is performers as a group making common cause with other sex workers, whether strippers, escorts, massage parlor workers or street walkers.  There is a cultural problem inherent in this climate that makes that an unlikely outcome.

[...]

Identifying with the oppression and the struggle of less privileged sex workers is not a pleasant thing to contemplate for someone who prefers to see him or herself as a 'star.'

This is a wedge that [anti-porn feminists] effectively drive between us all the time.  They love to go on and on about how a lucky few of us get all the rewards while vast numbers of 'enslaved, brutalized, prostituted women' suffer all the miseries into which our visible good fortune has seduced them.

Somehow, we need to take that wedge out of the hands of those who want to see sex work abolished and those who profit by keeping it divided and powerless.  Between them, our common enemies make a formidable opposition to be conquered, and before we can take them on, we have to rise above our own misgivings from within."

-- Ernest Greene, in Labor Organizing in the Sex Industry - Hopes and Realities on bppa.blogspot.com

 





by Furry Girl

08.02.11

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.

Imagine that:

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.

Right?

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

02.15.11

I've been thinking a lot in the last month about sex worker activism/outreach and what people in North America have been trying thus far.  One of the tactics that's popularly been deployed - and which is our primary form of "outreach" - is storytelling.  There are oodles of published sex worker memoirs, sex worker blogs, Twitter feeds, and live storytelling events have been organized in Manhattan such as The Red Umbrella Diaries.  The mainstream media also loves getting sex workers to dish on their "secret lives," and it's generally the only time they care to talk to us.  This blog post isn't about any one person or blog or book or event, it's about the idea as a whole.

I love sex worker tales.  I've read a number of the memoirs, dozens of sex worker's blogs, and attended a couple of the Manhattan readings, and have watched all the videos and podcasts made from those events where stories were recorded.  But, I think I look at these stories through a different lens than most people, because I'm also a sex worker.

The thing is, I wonder what this "shop talk" looks like to regular people.  I don't know if storytelling is helping us advance our cause.  But is that its goal anyway?  Is it subversive activism - luring people in with titillating tales of jizz-eaters and anal fisting, and in the process, making ourselves seem human and real and worthy of rights?  Or is it just another means by which the public is invited to come and laugh at the freaks, and the joke's actually on us?

There are two types of sex worker stories.

My favorite sort are the ones of self-discovery and observations about life, whether these tales are funny, awkward, depressing, painful, or transcendent.  I like seeing how sex - paid, unpaid, all its forms - affects people.  I zero in on that sort of thing and find it really interesting.  I could never get tired of seeing these sorts of pieces in any form, and I think these sorts of things do help us humanize, explain, and publicly explore our choices.

The other type of sex worker story that gets told, however, is the one called, "Ewww, clients are ugly and disgusting and have fetishes, let's make fun of them!"  I don't expect sex workers to find every one of their clients sensual, handsome, and witty, but I don't understand what we have to gain by telling the public all the time that the sorts of people who patronize us are scummy losers and that "we" laugh at them.

I feel bad sometimes that I'll rant on Twitter about a mean dude angrily trying to heckle me into fingering my ass for him, but usually neglect to mention someone cool that I meet on a given night of live web cam work.  My fans and clients whom I enjoy or feel neutral towards vastly outnumber the obnoxious losers.  I don't like dealing with assholes and cheapskates and intrusive people, and I do sometimes publicly complain about them, but I'm not going to run to the internet to dish on clients whose only "transgression" is being socially inept, having an "odd" fetish, or not meeting my own personal standards of attractiveness.

Sex workers who are feminists, politically correct, or otherwise "sex-positive" often don't hesitate to publicly mock (male) clients for being fat, hairy, and kinky.  After all, if it's a paying (male) customer who's fat/hairy/kinky, they're a freak to be laughed at, even by sex workers who are one or more of those things themselves.  I just don't understand how we're changing the public perception of the sex industry by offering, "Come be entertained by us as we amuse you with tales of our patrons' contemptibility."  That sort of thing feels so mean-spirited when done on a public level.  Why do you think so many people come to sex workers in the first place, if not to explore kinks?  I think it's neat that I interact with plenty of men who tell me things they can't even tell their own wives, and even if it's not my personal fetish, I'd never write something about how silly or stupid they are for liking that kink.  Maybe it's because I'm kinky myself.

Healthcare workers deal with all sorts of things with patients and the human body that can be gross or funny.  I used to sleep with a guy who relayed the weird stuff people jammed up their asses before freaking out and coming into the ER, people prepared with rehearsed stories about how they accidentally "slipped" and "fell" on a cumbersome household object.  But, these stories would have never been posted on his hospital's website.  When you have a job that deals with "the weird" in any way, workers find ways to laugh about it as a coping mechanism, to their friends and amongst other workers, and even develop gallows humor about the roughest stuff.  But, you don't see a flurry of nurses writing books about how disgusting their patients are, or doctors organizing public events that involve making fun of people for coming to them with an embarrassing medical problem.

There's also the whole issue of creating a culture where sex workers are indeed being heard more, but perhaps only for the petty amusement factor.  Civilian folk lap up tales of "the freaks," but does that help the sex workers rights movement?  Is that an effective gateway into actually engaging people in our real politics and issues?  The dynamic feels exploitative to me, in two ways: it exploits clients as a group - people who were tacitly or explicitly paying for confidentiality and someone who understands (or who can fake understanding), and it exploits sex workers by positioning their primary value to society as entertaining the squares with crazy stories.

Let's not do that thing where people kick the person lower on the ladder than they are so as to look superior.  "I might be a sex worker, but at least I'm not the guy paying someone to spank him and tell him he has a small penis."  That's bully behavior.  Maybe I'm taking it all too seriously, and yes, I realize that it's fun to share stories and blow off some steam amongst ourselves, but as I sit here analyzing the world of sex worker representation in America, I don't know if this focus on belittling customers is helping us at all.

Takeaway question: can we humanize ourselves without dehumanizing clients?





by Furry Girl

01.12.11

"We are in a recession.  It's not pretty out there.  Everyone is counting their change, updating their resume, taking out a second mortgage, moving back into an apartment, moving back home, taking on an extra job, cursing the banks and wall street.  I don't have to tell you this.  Floating above our heads is that magical phrase, 'sex sells.'  It's a post-it note permanently attached to our frontal lobes.  I think it's a troublesome phrase if not an outright lie and I blame this prevailing notion as the main reason people still believe that sex work is illegitimate.  It's because we've all been told time and time again that it's easy.  It's the old reliable thing to fall back on that requires little to no thought or effort.  If you can't think of something creative, just throw a pair of tits there.  It will sell.  When sex is on the table we are helpless to resist and we will open our wallets like hypnotized monkeys.  We hate sex workers because we think they cheated.  We can't precisely name what it is they are cheating, exactly, but we don't like it one bit.  We 'work' for our money, then there they are on their backs.

But an increasing number of people hear that message and rather than getting into an upset huff decide that if you can’t beat them, join them.  The problem is, this thought emerges from the same place.  People get into the sex industry and assume it’s all going to be easy."

-- Miss Maggie Mayhem, in Changes to the World of Porn on missmaggiemayhem.com





by Furry Girl

01.10.11

I've never given blog space to one of my favorite dystopic tales of all time, a short story that is both clever speculative fiction, and applies to parts of the porn debate.

As a precocious 12-year-old in the smart kid English class, I was introduced to Kurt Vonnegut in the form of Harrison Bergeron, a short story from the 60s.  Vonnegut was one of those authors I read at just the right time when I was growing up - alongside Ray Bradbury, Aldous Huxley, and George Orwell - folks who crafted tales that resonate so perfectly with how awkward outsider kids feel about the world.

Vonnegut's story begins,

The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

In this future, we have finally achieved the feminist/liberal dream of equality through by punishing and handicapping those who are beautiful, strong, and intelligent for the heinous crimes of making others feel insecure.  In effect: affirmative action taken further down its slippery slope, this time, to equalize out any and all "unfair" advantages which no one must be allowed to possess in life.

After all, if one person (like a feminist or unattractive woman) reacts to another person (like a supermodel or porn star) with insecurity and jealousy, the only way to solve this "problem" is to punish and criticize the attractive party, and try and pass laws to prevent the delicate party from ever being "forced" to feel insecure ever again.

I highly recommend reading Harrison Bergeron, which isn't terribly long, and will perhaps cause you to ask interesting questions about "equality."





by Furry Girl

01.01.11

Something happened at the end of 2010.  I finally became Andy Warhol.

"Don't pay any attention to what they write about you.  Just measure it in inches." -- Andy Warhol

Just kidding.  I don't think I'm that famous.  (And unlike him, not one feminist has actually tried to murder me yet.)

But, I've finally hit that point - sparked by a frothy mixture of more people talking about me, and more letting go of keeping up with haters - where I'm not even trying to read everything people say about me any more.  Google Alerts for my name and my blog are only glanced at, not read in their entirety, and certainly not used as motivation to jump into fights with people on the internet about whether or not I am an asshole.  (I already know I'm an asshole.  I just happen to be an asshole who's correct most of the time, like all the best villains of fiction.)

Haters are so funny.  I'll never get over the hilarity of how verbose and devoted people get when obsessively, repeatedly explaining to me how "boring" or "unimportant" they find me, and I've attracted heaps of those detractors-cum-fans in the last six weeks between two popularity spikes.  (Although, an all-time favorite insult was from two or three years ago, when a Republican pornographer launched her triumphant fuck-you at me on a forum.  She revealed that she found me so extremely boring that she even wrote a whole blog entry about how boring I am.  Yeah, uh... you sure showed me!)  It's like being in kingergarten and knowing who secretly likes you based on who bothers to throw dirt at you, except now, the dirtiest dirt to be thrown is accusations of having bored the hater.  Let the record reflect that I'm not the one who's hounding my political opposites, following them around the internet in the excited hopes that maybe they'll pay attention to me.  I stay in my own virtual house for the most part - something of an internet cat lady shut-in, I suppose.  I hardly even comment on my friends' blogs (sorry!), let alone spend my life seeking out blogs of strangers I can dislike so I can self-righteously lecture them about exactly why I dislike them.  What a bizarre and neurotic thing to do!

Those two popularity spikes I mentioned were my pantless TSA protest (almost half a million views on the video!) and my Assange rape skepticism post (mostly wigged out about by feminists).

No one whose opinion I care about has attacked me, but I did earn praise from three people I admire.  Penn Jillette called me a hero on Twitter for my TSA protest, Dan Savage quoted my thoughts on rape in a post titled "What She Said,", and Laura Agustín commented in support of my rape piece.  I'm going to cherry pick and say I got all the external validation I could want between those three.  And, of course, there was a torrent of people commenting all around the web about how I'm a monster who's basically responsible for everything bad that's ever happened to anyone.  It's pretty rad that I somehow manage to simultaneously be the most insignificant yawn-fest people have ever deigned to notice, and also powerful enough to be personally responsible for stuff like "rape culture" and terrorist airplane hijackings.  I'm an enigma like that.

A couple of months ago, I received an unsolicited email from a literary agent asking me if I had a book proposal she could check out.  Seeing as how getting my shit together and writing a sample chapter and proper proposal was already on my "things to do in the near-ish future" list, it was very flattering to have someone express interest without me even trying.  And, maybe it will go no where and no publisher will want to print anything I say - I'm not going to get over-excited.  (I have a major loathing of how commonly people brag about how they're "writing a book," like just saying it out loud means you're halfway to winning a Nobel Prize.  Ain't nothing special about writing a book, kids - you don't get any bragging rights until all those words are, you know, being purchased in stores in book format.)  Even with that cynicism in mind, I'm flattered by the interest.  I wonder, snidely, how often literary agents track down blog comment trolls to say things like, "Your scathing paragraph of how [so-and-so] is ugly and stupid was absolutely brilliant!  Please send me a book proposal and sample chapter as soon as you have one.  You have a unique voice!"

(Seriously - has anyone ever gotten a book deal based on their "work" as a commenter on blogs?  Has anyone ever parlayed posting comments on other people's web sites into anything substantive or memorable?)





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