by Furry Girl
Although I'm normally loathe to give my time to college students seeking a sex worker to interview for an assignment, I recently made an exception for a friend of mine. The questions were the standard things that everyone asks sex workers, and the interview included a question about how I respond to the accusation that porn and sex work objectify women.
As an ex-feminist, ex-sex positive, and general gold star member of the interweb debaters club, I have spent untold hours fighting about "objectification." One of the things that people most frequently ask me is, "But what about objectification!?" Even anti-sex worker activists who claim they can get on board with the idea of bodily autonomy and the right of people to choose to sell sex still have the "gotcha" final argument that porn and sex work are not just a matter of individual rights, but that the sex industry as a whole oppresses every woman in the world by its mere existence due to "objectification."
For the last decade, I've generally addressed "objectification" by pointing out that every single person is objectified at their jobs, so if you're going to get all cryface about sex workers "being objectified as sex objects," you better also be protesting in front of hospitals where people with medical degrees are objectified as doctors, protesting restaurants where people cooking your food are objectified as chefs, and so on. Most of the arguments made against sex work are arguments that could be made against basically everything, yet aren't. For example, anti-sex worker activists rail endlessly about how prostitution is wrong because prostitutes are only doing it because they are getting paid, but these agitators don't lobby the government to outlaw elementary schools because teachers wouldn't show up to their jobs if they weren't getting paid. News flash: almost no one would do their jobs if there was no financial incentive for them to do so. Doing work that isn't always fun so that we can get something else we want is the definition of being a grown-up, not the definition of suffering oppression.
In my interview, rather than expounding on the hypocrisy and lunacy of the application of "objectification" to sex work alone, I've decide that from now on I'm taking a different position, and I hope that you will, too.
Let's stop pretending that "objectification" is a thing that exists, because in doing so, we're dignifying the idea that it's somehow a real social harm and perfectly valid reason to deny human rights to sex workers. The instant we go down the road of debating the meaning of objectification (and its equally stupid inverse concept "empowerment"), even if it's to challenge its inconsistent application only to the sex industry, we've already failed. Objectification, much like "feminism," means whatever a person wants it to mean in order to win their current argument. Feminists and other such idiots ache for the chance at having such a conversation, because then everything is solely in the realm of abstract theories, so facts can be thrown in the garbage and the side that wins is the side that keeps at it the longest.
The sex workers' rights movement in the US needs to pull its head out of the clouds of bullshit feminist philosophical theories that have nothing to do with anything in the real world. Stop giving these distractions credibility by addressing them at all, and instead keep the conversation exactly where it needs to be: on human rights, on labor rights, on harm reduction, and on stopping the violence against sex workers created by criminalization. Feminists and other moralizers know that they will always lose against sane, evidence-based positions, so they purposefully try to change the subject to a go-nowhere discussion about things like objectification and their own emotions. If we care about making a difference for sex workers (or women and people in general), our duty is to always privilege real problems above pretentious navel-gazing.
by Furry Girl
"But Sexual Harassment law was never designed to protect women from merely feeling uncomfortable. In a typical workday, men and women alike face many sources of discomfort: atheists face clerks wearing crosses; able-bodied people face colleagues in wheelchairs; Fundamentalist Muslims and Jews face professors dressed with arms and legs uncovered; the infertile face coworkers' desks with photos of their kids, and parents are given time off for parenting events such as piano recitals.
No, the law is designed to simply create a level playing field of opportunity—not of emotional experience. It doesn't require anyone to be a mind-reader, it doesn't undo the normal uncertainties of social interaction, and it doesn't require anyone's social skills to be smooth as silk. Occasionally feeling offended is still considered part of the cost of being out in the world.
The topic is particularly poignant when the people involved are progressive political activists. If we expect to go out and communicate effectively in a world that is often hostile to our ideas, we need to have the emotional skills to tolerate a wide range of responses. If we can't even handle a friendly sexual invitation in a genuinely safe environment without losing our composure, how can we tolerate the rough-and-tumble of the world out there?"
-- Dr Marty Klein in Sexual Harassment or Unwanted Sexual Attention? on sexualintelligence.wordpress.com
by Furry Girl
"The Web sites I found, trolling through hundreds of Google hits for 'egg donor' were similar, placing heavy emphasis on the motivation of donors. They spoke of fulfillment, of 'making a difference,' of 'one of the most loving gifts one woman can give to another.' The pictures were of babies, clouds, building blocks. The site I chose was among the most thickly written, its invitation to donate dripping with hyper-feminized expressions of motherhood and generosity. It was the linguistic equivalent of a doily.
The application also asked, 'What is the least amount of compensation you will consider accepting for an egg donation?' Elsewhere, the agency stated that it would not accept requests of more than $10,000. So I typed in: $10,000.
When I suggested later that the egg-for-dollars swap is hardly a donation, [the doctor] looked genuinely confused and changed the subject to my egg-producing potential.
The mainstreaming of fertility treatments contributes to a larger concern among cultural conservatives, who worry egg donation is a step on the way to the much-feared designer baby. 'Do you really want to pick a kid the way you shop for a car?' Reader's Digest asked in 2001. Feminists, too, find the mixture of capitalistic enterprise and female bodies disturbing. The Nation's Katha Pollitt has called surrogacy 'reproductive prostitution.' Sexual anxieties make for strange bedfellows: In 2004 National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez wrote a column slamming egg donation, approvingly quoting Pollitt.
While egg prices range from a few thousand dollars to $30,000 or more, ASRM guidelines recommend donors receive a maximum of $10,000, above which compensation is deemed 'inappropriate.' Paradoxically, such guidelines are sold as being in the interest of the donor, usually portrayed as cash-strapped and naive. In the words of the President's Council on Bioethics, such women tend to be from 'financially vulnerable populations,' which implies they need protection from the temptation of incurring bodily risk for profit."
-- Kerry Howley in Ova for Sale on reason.com
I support the consensual selling of organs, bodily fluids, tissue, and eggs/sperm, as well as women renting out their uteruses for surrogacy, or people being paid participants in medical research. The same arguments hurled at sex workers are also deployed against other "weird" or "possibly dangerous" uses of one's body for income. (Though very few people will apply that condemnation of occupations with physical injury risk to sports, agriculture, construction, the military, manual labor, or any number of blue collar jobs.)
Also: the euphemisms and bullshit parade that accompany egg-selling remind me of the prostitutes who put on airs about how they are "erotic journey facilitators," "tantric healers," and "sacred goddess practitioners."
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
"...let's stop blaming men ('all-male church,' 'mostly-male Congress,' 'male-run Fox News,' etc.) for doing all this bad stuff to women.
Women vote to put anti-sex politicians in office; a majority of women voted for Republicans in the 2010 Congressional election. Women support the churches that keep anti-sex politicians in office. Women buy the newspapers and consume the radio and TV programs (like Rush's) that promote moral panics about sexuality.
And let's remember that when women get political power they typically act like men when it comes to sex. Both Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin are aghast about Rush—not about what he said, but about how he’s been held accountable for it. And virtually every female Republican governor and Congressmember of the last decade has voted to restrict access to abortion and birth control."
-- Dr Marty Klein, in It’s Not A War On Women—It’s A War On Sex on sexualintelligence.wordpress.com
by Furry Girl
I'm not a mainstream LA porn performer, so I don't write much about mainstream porn. I tend to avoid writing about topics where I don't have a lot of personal experience, even if I have a lot of second-hand knowledge. (This is why I don't write much about prostitution here - it's not that I don't absolutely support decriminalization, or know how to debate the issue inside and out, but I'd rather people read about prostitution-specific issues from those doing that form of sex work.)
However, I hadn't seen anyone post the exact regulations that will go into effect in LA on March 5th, so I figured I'd go look up the laws and do it myself. You can read the full 6-page PDF document I downloaded from the LA City Clerk's web site.
The people of the City of Los Angeles hereby find and declare all of the following:
(a) The HIV/AIDS crisis, and the ongoing epidemic of sexually transmitted infections as a result of the making of adult films, has caused a negative impact on public health and the quality of life of citizens living in Los Angeles.
(b) Safer sex practices are a prime method of preventing and reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.
(c) The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has documented widespread transmission of sexually transmitted infections associated with the activities of the adult film industry within the City of Los Angeles.
(d) The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has opined that the use of condoms is the best and most effective way to stem the spread of sexually transmitted infections within the adult film industry.
The people of the City of Los Angeles hereby declare their purpose and intent in enacting this ordinance to be to minimize the spread of sexually transmitted infections resulting from the production of adult films in the City of Los Angeles, which have caused a negative impact on public health and the quality of life of citizens living in Los Angeles.
Porn production is not the root cause of HIV/STIs, I wish so badly that people would stop repeating that as though it were a fact.
First, there is no "ongoing epidemic" of HIV in the porn industry. I don't know how to calculate the numbers, but a lot of sex happens on porn sets in LA. We can all agree it's "a lot," right? And every couple or few years, there have been HIV scares in porn where sadly, a small number of performers are infected. (The HIV cases seem to all originate with a performer who has unsafe sex with "civilians" in their private life, and then brings the virus to work.) While any new HIV infection is unfortunate, a few cases of HIV every few years is not an "epidemic," it's an anomaly. According to the CDC, about 50,000 people are infected with HIV every year in America.
The ordinance starts off big about HIV/AIDS, the most scary diseases, but then the language changes to read "sexually transmitted infections." Yes, people get minor STIs in porn, and it's not a secret. Risking an occasional case of chlamydia (easily treated with antibiotics), or even getting herpes, is part of the known risk of working in the porn industry. You know who spreads more STIs per sex act? Everyone else. How about the city devote its resources to providing free condoms and accurate sex education in every middle school and high school? That's a group I'm more concerned about. The porn industry is already hyper-vigilante about STI reduction, it's the last population that needs the government's meddling on that front.
While almost all porn performers strongly oppose condom laws, it's important to emphasize that condoms are not the only way to reduce one's risks, and nor are condoms flawless. Their efficacy on reducing the transmission risk of genital warts, HPV, and herpes is debatable, so condom or no condom, those skin-to-skin STIs can be shared. The ordinance's justification and language makes a huge error by implying that "safer sex" means "sex with a condom." In fact, "safer sex" is not a single idea or product like a condom, but a term that implies a wide array of options which can be deployed by themselves or in combination. Condoms are one way to reduce your risks, but they're not the only way. "Pulling out" is also a safer sex tactic. Regular STI screening is a safer sex tactic. Only having sex with partners whose STI status you trust is a safer sex tactic. Improvising "dental dams" from plastic wrap is a safer sex tactic. Only sleeping with one person your entire life is a safer sex tactic. Taking medication if you have herpes is a safer sex tactic. Safer sex is a spectrum of choices to reduce one's risks, it is not some single-meaning word that stands in only for condoms.
An "adult film" is defined as any film, video, multimedia or other representation of sexual intercourse in which performers actually engage in oral, vaginal, or anal penetration, including but not limited to penetration by a penis, finger, or inanimate object; oral contact with the anus or genitals of another performer; and/or any other activity that may result in the transmission of blood and/or any other potentially infectious materials as defined in California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 5193(b).
(4) All producers of adult films issued permits under the authority of the City of Los Angeles or the Los Angeles Police Department pursuant to Section 12.22(A)(13) of this Code or any other law authorizing the issuance of permits for commercial filming are required to maintain engineering and work practice controls sufficient to protect employees from exposure to blood and/or any other potentially infectious materials controls consistent with California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 5193.
(5) Any film permit issued under the authority of the City of Los Angeles or the Los Angeles Police Department pursuant to Section 12.22(A)(13) of this Code or any other law authorizing the issuance of permits for commercial filming for the production of an adult film must expressly condition said permit on compliance with subsection (4) of this section. Any such permit shall contain the following language: "Permittee must abide by all applicable workplace health and safety regulations, including California Code of Regulations Title 8, Section 5193, which mandates barrier protection, including condoms, to shield performers from contact with blood or other potentially infectious material during the production of films."
(6) The City shall charge, or shall direct any other person or entity contracting with the City to administer the film permitting process, to charge, entertainment industry customers seeking permits for the production of adult films a fee sufficient to allow periodic inspections to ensure compliance with the conditions setforth in Section 12.22.1 (B)(4).
Disappointingly, there's nothing about how these "periodic inspections" will occur, or who is held responsible if a violation is in order. From the wording of the law, and it being based on filming permits, I'd assume the studio/producer/director would be responsible for paying a fine for facing charges. Are performers themselves seen as passive victims of a greedy and corrupt porn studio if they reject condoms and then a condomless sex act is filmed? I'd love to know how enforcement will work, and if the regulations will be used to crack down on porn makers, or performers as well.
So, what's in this Title 8 Section 5193 that keeps getting mentioned? A gigantic long page of definitions about what constitutes a bloodborne pathogen or bodily fluid. It's written for people in the medical and research realms who may get needle sticks or be exposed to contaminated bodily fluids at work, and how to dispose of medical waste and needles. There's also a lot of vague language about "personal protective equipment," but how that will be defined when it comes to porn is unknown. It could mean condoms, it could mean that each performer is legally required to wear a bright yellow hazmat suit like someone in a movie about a zombie or plague outbreak. Will LA enforce the part of these workplace regulations that say one is required to wear a "face shield" or "protective bodily clothing," or even use a respirator? Is this what porn could look like in the near future?
These new regulations go into effect in a couple of weeks. How they end up being enforced is anyone's guess. Based on the vagueness of the rules, and how any porn where performers are not wearing a full hazmat suit could technically be held in violation of the laws, I'd predict selective and politically-motivated prosecutions. Did your studio kick and scream to oppose the law? I wonder if the safety inspectors will be paying you a visit first. Better have those face shields ready.
Edit: One of my Twitter followers brought up an important point: what if studios carry on as normal and just agree to pay fines? I don't know what the fines are, or if jail time is also a part of the deal. But, if it's a $500 fine on a production with a $10,000 budget, maybe it will just be another cost of doing business in LA. An unfair increase, of course, but perhaps this is a case where it's better to just pay the fine than comply with the law.
by Furry Girl
One of my readers sent me Sun Tzu's classic book The Art of War, and I thought I would quote and comment on certain passages that I'd consider relevant to sex workers' rights activists. For those unfamiliar with the small public domain book, it's considered the instruction manual on warfare strategy, written about 2200 years ago by a Chinese general, and still used today. You've no doubt seen quotes from it before, even if you didn't recognize them as such, and you can read more about its history on Wikipedia. Below are some snippets I especially liked, and comments on how they apply to us.
The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand.
This is a blanket critique I have of a lot of activism: people focus on the acting bit without really gaming out whether what they're doing is likely to be effective, or how it fits into a long-term strategy. Yes, action is necessary, and exciting, and makes you "feel activisty," but when it's done without a plan, it's wasting valuable time and energy that could be spent on a targeted project.
Hence a wise general makes a point of foraging on the enemy. One cartload of the enemy's provisions is equivalent to twenty of one's own.
I've given a lot of thought to this concept this year - the basic premise of guerilla warfare that says it's smart to use one's enemies resources against them, especially when they are stronger than you. I'm not sure how to implement this with sex workers' rights, but I think the collective "we" have done a good job with trying to use the media spotlight on Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore's anti-sex worker campaign to get attention for our issues. Another thing I pushed for earlier was that any tweet with the word trafficking shows up on the front page of the DNA Foundation's web site, which uses their celebrity web site to hopefully get some clicks and visibility for the truth behind sex trafficking hysteria. (This still holds true, so tweet away.) We're up against wealthy, politically-connected opponents who are experts at using emotional and fear to control conversations; using that very power and strength against them should always be a top consideration with campaign strategy. If we aren't big enough to get much attention on our own yet, riding the media coattails of celebrities and their well-promoted events may be the best shot.
Thus the highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy's plans; the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy's forces; the next in order is to attack the enemy's army in the field; and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities.
I like this list, most importantly the last two items. As every sex worker activist quickly discovers, trying to change the world by immersing oneself in protracted debates with the extreme of the anti-porn and anti-sex worker crowd is pointless, emotionally taxing, and detracts from doing important things. While some sex bloggers and pseudo-allies tirelessly promote the idea of wasting time picking fights with the opposition on Twitter and in blog comment wars, we all really need to stop wasting out time on silly battles with people who will never in a million years support us. They have already beaten you if you spend your time with them instead of reaching out to the real public and people who are on the fence. I am totally guilty of spending too much time in earlier years fighting with anti-porn extremists, so please learn from my mistakes. Stop besieging walled cities.
Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory: He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout its ranks. He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared. He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.
Item one especially. This comes again to the issue of knowing when and where to best spend your energies.
Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself, but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
As an author of the inventory of anti-sex worker activists, I obviously support gaining a better understanding of exactly who we are up against. These are dangerous and often powerful assholes, but they are still people with strengths and weaknesses like anyone else. Knowing their motivations, histories, and alliances is vital to our work. On the flip side, knowing our own issues inside and out, including our vulnerabilities, is also vital.
Security against defeat implies defensive tactics; ability to defeat the enemy means taking the offensive.
Almost all sex worker activism in the US revolves around creating art, navel-gazing about "the true" meaning of feminism, and community/subculture-building. There's very little being done to take the offensive position. It's important to have projects that proactively get our message out there, educate people, and tackle portions of the criminal code, rather than resigning ourselves to reacting to situations like the murders of sex workers, bad laws being passed, or media campaigns from religious groups with deep pockets.
How to be more proactive is one of my top concerns. Since public education is the area where we're the weakest, and we need public support in order to make political gains, I do my best to make sex work issues accessible and relevant to as many members of the general population as possible. If I had actual funding for this, I'd love to do even more with public education, but since there's been little financial support, SWAAY's public outreach campaign at something of a standstill. I don't have the the luxury to make SWAAY both my unpaid part-time job and spend lots of money on it out of my own pocket. (I'm still something like $2500 in the hole for what I've spent on SWAAY related expenses.)
We can form a single united body, while the enemy must be split up into fractions. Hence there will be a whole pitted against separate parts of a whole, which means we shall be many to the enemy's few.
I'd love to see sex workers, on a national level, come together around more projects. The only thing that seems to unite American sex workers' rights activists is a love of pretentiously opining about "what does feminism mean, and does it mean something meaningful for us feminists who crave meaning?" nonsense. Imagine all that could be accomplished if those countless thousands of hours were spent on something that mattered.
He who exercises no forethought but makes light of his opponents is sure to be captured by them.
While anti-sex worker activists are often absolute nutjobs, that doesn't mean they're not also very cunning. At the 2010 Desiree Alliance conference, Nina Hartley made a great comment in her keynote, which I believe was phrased, "I don't think of them as prudes, I think of them as predators." Don't let their absurd ideas and conservative backwardness lull you into thinking they're easy to beat or not excellent strategists.
If we know that the enemy is open to attack, but are unaware that our own men are not in a condition to attack, we have gone only halfway towards victory.
For me, the recent Google campaign is a great example of this. I spent two weeks working full time on that to make it happen, ignoring all of my other responsibilities for half a month. It was a campaign that had a good chance of seeing success, but no matter how hard I was pushing, it just didn't catch on. SWOP Bay Area and SWOP LA joined in, which was so awesome, but after lots of begging and pleading, I couldn't get any other cities to spend even one hour at a protest I'd pre-packaged for them.
We lack a national response framework for when things come up in our community like Google giving millions to anti-sex worker lobbyists. It seems like a lot of the people who identify as "sex worker activists," for all their online bluster about whore power, are stone-cold terrified of actually being seen in public as sex workers, and handing out polite flyers about why sex workers' rights are important. I wish I could fast-forward to the future when there's enough of a cohesive, non-closeted movement where it doesn't take hours and hours to find even one person to join me in a protest - in a major American city filled with sex workers and "sex-positives." As I said to someone in a private exchange, it felt like I was trying to recruit people to be suicide bombers or something - the idea of attending a non-confrontational daylight demonstration was a step too far for most "activists." (Cheers to my Seattle protest buddy @ishfery who made Google her very first protest. We need more people willing to get offline for a little while and make a difference.) It was a disheartening project for me to work on overall, but I am glad that it did get some news attention, and hundreds of flyers were handed out to the public in three locations.
Looking at the fizzled out Google campaign makes me worried about making much bigger plans within the next 10 years, though. If it's too much work to show up at a location and hand out flyers that someone else wrote for you, then how the hell is anyone going to have the stamina to even file the paperwork for permission to collect signatures to begin the process of trying to chip away at bad laws through ballot initiatives? Or if an hour of one's time is too much, then how can we afford teams of lawyers to mount constitutional challenges to anti-sex work laws? We have to crawl before we can run marathons, and I wish there were more people ready to even attempt the crawling phase. I know there are wonderful and hard-working ho activists around the country, but the ratio of those types to people who only (re)tweet and (re)blog about the issues is disappointing.
Anyway, get out there, and wage some (smart) war!
by Furry Girl
"...SCTNow, along with similar anti-trafficking concerns, uses a simplistic language of good and evil in its discussions of trafficking. In this way, its selling of the anti-trafficking movement closely mirrors the selling of the 'War on Terror' in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Instead of untangling the resentment against American imperialism built up globally through centuries of exploitation, many Americans rushed to accept the nonsensical explanation, put forth by politicans and pundits, that terrorists 'hate us because they hate freedom.' We wanted enemies that we could name and locate so that we might destroy them, not lessons in humility and self-reflection. Likewise, today’s mainstream anti-trafficking movement appeals to middle-class Americans with the idea that trafficking happens because there are bad people out there just waiting to take your kids away from schools and malls. Thus, its prevention efforts focus less on the systemic realities of poverty, racism, domestic abuse, and the dire circumstances surrounding runaway and thrownaway youth, and more on installing high-tech security cameras at schools and stationing more security guards at malls. And it measures the success of its activities by the number of criminal convictions it achieves, rather than by the long-term health and well-being of the women and children who are most at risk."
-- Emi Koyama, in Trade Secrets on bitchmagazine.org
by Furry Girl
It's been a busy month, but I wanted to post a photo from last week's Google protest in Seattle. The protest was just myself and @ishfery, a sex worker I'd previously only met on Twitter. (And, ornery cunt that I am, I'd wondered if she was real, since "in a post-Alexa world," I've come to suspect all sex worker bloggers who don't post photos of themselves are possibly creepy dudes.)
The protest of two went well, and I was certainly happy to not be alone. Being a lone protester makes you look like some kind of crazy trying to "educate" people about 9/11 being an inside job or something. One protester is a nutjob, two protesters are lovable underdogs. While I can make a banner I can hold by myself, it's hard to hold a banner straight and hand out fliers at the same time. What this photo doesn't show is that I had another sign on my back, hastily tied onto my scarf, reading, "Google Don't Be Evil!" The reason for the sign on my back was not just so Google employees in the building could see it, but because a little birdy alerted me to the fact that Google Seattle's web cam covered this portion of the bridge.
We probably handed out about 100 fliers, and had some really position conversations. One woman introduced herself as a budding filmmaker in the early stages of putting together a documentary about the partners of sex workers, and the troubles she was having trying to find people willing to go on camera to talk about those dynamics. A number of Google employees either emailed/tweeted, or said supportive things in person. One took a stack of fliers to hand out in the building. (At the end of the protest, I went to give the reception desk fliers to explain why we were there, and they already had them.) Everyone was extremely nice and interested, and the only detractor was a homeless-looking older man who told us to get a "real job." It sounds like the San Francisco and LA protests went well, too, and SWOP Bay Area has some photos online.
I'm now wondering what the next step should be. It being the Christian holy month, the world is half shut down until early January, so trying to do anything this week would be pointless. I'm curious if another round of protests is something people are interested in, and when to schedule that. (Second week of January, I'm assuming, since many people go out of town for Christmas and New Years.) I'm also wondering about effective ways to utilize internet-based activism as a part of this campaign. I am steadfastly against pointless, masturbatory "activism" like e-petitions, and with Google being such a massive company that doesn't exactly engage in dialog with the public, it's hard to know where to focus energies.
What I do know is that I'm happy to be working on a campaign that engages in real solidarity with sex workers in the developing world. Though Google's shitty NGOs do things that harm sex workers right here in America, the brunt of their harm us directed as the poorest and most marginalized people in the world. Some of the current crop of sex worker "activists" engage in "activism" in the form of attacking people online about which words they're allowed to use and how awful they ought to feel about the erratically-defined issue of "privilege," but it's just bullshit posturing that accomplishes nothing other than making a few people feel self-righteous. If you surveyed sex workers in the developing world and asked what American activists could do to help them, I'm pretty sure that not one respondent would beg us to spend more of our time bludgeoning each other with freshman-level identity politics and feminist dogma on Twitter. I love having an issue around which we have discuss the tangible effects of neocolonialism and Western do-gooderism, and what it really means when these NGOs say they want to "rescue" sex workers. I don't know where the campaign will lead, and if we'll be able to pressure Google into supporting non-missionary, harm-reduction and rights-based services for sex workers, but this is the general direction I'd like to see American sex worker activism go.
My friend Jacob Appelbaum made a comment during his talk about Tor at a nerd convention that stuck with me because it concisely and politely explains what white Western political folk like myself should be doing with our time: "You should consider using your privilege to help other people."
by Furry Girl
I've spent almost the entire last 5 days researching the groups that Google is now funding. Please see the campaign page and read something I've put a lot of time info!
Why are sex workers' rights supporters upset with Google?
Google announced last week that they are making the largest-ever corporate donation to "ending modern day slavery": an impressive $11.5 million dollars. We applaud and support Google's desire to fight slavery, forced trafficking, and exploitative labor conditions, but Google's funding recipients include three NGOs that cause serious harm to sex workers in around the world: International Justice Mission, Polaris Project, and Not for Sale. As small sex worker support services struggle for funding to serve their communities, it is offensive to watch Google shower money upon a wealthy faith-based group like the International Justice Mission, which took in nearly $22 million dollars in 2009 alone. (In contrast, the St. James Infirmary, a San Francisco clinic that provides free healthcare to sex workers, operated on only $335k in 2010.)
Does Google know what their money is really supporting? Let's take a look at what you won't read about on the front pages these groups' glossy web sites.
Also, I'll be protesting outside of Google's Seattle building on Wednesday from 2-4pm (on the bridge next to it, to be specific). There are also protests in other locations, too, so check the campaign page. Please join me so I don't have to feel like a lonely sad protester.
Furry Girl: legs now closed for business.
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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