by Furry Girl
In the last month, there has been more and more talk from some sex workers about how awesome the Occupy movement is, including some of my ho activist friends on Twitter who are part of different Occupy encampments. SWOP-NYC has a pro-Occupy post, Jessie of SWOP LA throws in her support, Trisha wrote about the issues of SlutWalk and Occupy, and Melissa Gira Grant wrote a strangely pearl-clutching piece about how sad it is some people -gasp- do sex work to pay for college.
I've been wary and on the fence about the Occupy movement and its vague, utopian, barely-articulated aims. Occupy embodies basically everything I hate about the left, and the best I've been able to muster so far is feeling sorry for people who have been assaulted by police. Today, I went from on the fence to against Occupy Seattle. I was trying to get to the nonprofit vegan grocery store, Sidecar, a place I'm happy to support because all the proceeds go to an animal sanctuary. I sure timed my bus errand poorly, because I ended up behind an Occupy Seattle march.
First off, the protesters went out of their way to disrupt as much traffic and transit as possible. I talked to my bus driver, and he said the group had told Seattle Metro they would be marching along a certain route, giving Metro a chance to divert buses in the area to another street. Once the time came for the march, however, the Occupy folk changed their official plan and went down the street where they knew Metro buses were being re-routed, all to maximize problems for commuters. That's a pretty asshole move. How is going out of your way to screw up as many public transit lines as possible harming the super-rich? Are there a lot of country-ruining billionaires on the bus during rush hour? I guess I never noticed them though all the students, disabled people, punks/hippies, elderly people, nonwhites, single moms, young folk, and homeless-looking people who typically make up much of Metro's ridership.
After half an hour on a bus that was barely moving, I gave up and angrily walked home in the freezing rain, knowing it would have taken hours to get to my destination. Congratulations, anti-capitalists, you prevented me from spending my money at a nonprofit, so I shopped at a corporate grocery store instead. I went home and watched the clamor unfold on Twitter. The march had moved on to occupying a bridge, shutting down traffic in both directions. This bridge is one of the connections between the central Seattle area and the University of Washington and the outlying suburbs, as well as a major hospital complex at the university. Occupy Seattle was cutting off a key route for hospital access, which could genuinely cost lives if ambulances had to re-route and go back to other another bridge in an emergency.
Less than 24 hours after winning national sympathy when Seattle police pepper-sprayed a small elderly woman, Occupy Seattle experienced a big wave of hatred from the general public, pissed off at missed meetings, missed classes, missed flights, and being stuck in traffic for no good reason. Twitter users were cheering for them to be beaten, shot, pepper-sprayed, and many hoped aloud that the bridge would collapse, or that protesters would fall/jump to their deaths. Comments on various local news websites all echoed similar opinions - anger, annoyance, confusion, and rooting for harm to befall protesters. There were countless comments where someone said they supported Occupy before, but this changed their minds.
Any sane activist would be thinking, "Oh shit, we made a huge fuckup here. The public is angry at us, we're blocking hospital access, and we're not accomplishing anything other than showing people that we like to cause pointless disruptions. This has been an absolute disaster."
Instead, the resounding consensus among protesters on Twitter was that the event was a massive success, and Occupy Seattle marchers and supporters responded to people who disagreed by making fun of them, insulting them, telling them they are the enemy, and generally celebrating the fact that the public had turned against them after the bridge occupation. It was like watching some spoiled punk teenager gloat about how they're really "sticking it to the man" by pissing off "the squares" with their green hair.
What today highlighted for me is my growing uneasiness with how Occupy protesters continually scream that they are "the 99%," insisting that they represent just about everyone in the country. I don't like seeing strangers keep arguing that they are my spokespersons, that they can attest to the interests and beliefs of most Americans, that they are protesting "for me," and even that they are me. This creepy rhetoric reminds me all too well of how anti-sex worker crusaders always insist that they are acting and speaking on our behalf, without ever deigning to listen to us. There is something deeply and profoundly fucked up about declaring oneself the mouthpiece for people whom you don't know, aren't trying to get to know, and in many cases, who actively oppose what you are saying and doing, such as it the case of the vast numbers of Seattle folk irate over having their evening disrupted by a core group of perhaps a hundred protesters who were trying to stay on the bridge as long as possible.
Where this whole thing goes from eerily cult-like to comical is that the people who pretend to be and represent "the 99%" are a tiny minority, even in a large left-leaning city, and they were causing a problems for the majority. Occupy Seattle wasn't representing the desires of anyone but themselves, least of all working and lower-income people who rely on public transit to get around the city.
Occupy Seattle: you are not the 99%. You do not represent me, you do not represent Seattle, and I wish you people would stop insisting that you do. A group that relishes in causing disruptions purely for the sake of causing disruptions does not embody the key political concerns of most Americans, any more than a right-wing billionaire does. You are an obnoxious minority that continues to further isolate itself from the rest of the public, and I can't think of one positive thing you have contributed to my city.
But all that doesn't matter. According to Occupy Seattle kids, the fact that I dislike them just means that they've been victorious in their protest, despite the fact I will never be earning in the top 10%, let alone the top 1%.
As a sex workers' rights advocate, my life would be so much easier if the sole metric by which I judged an activist "success" was how many members of the general public I could get to hate us. It's easy to turn the public against you, any lazy dipshit can do that. Influencing the public to adopt more progressive and tolerant ideas? That's not as adrenaline-soaked and fun as instigating confrontations with the police, but it leads to actual and long-lasting change, which is precisely the kind of work that needs to be done.
Update one: In looking at more local coverage, the first three comments on a cheery pro-Occupy article on SLOG summed up today's debate so neatly, especially the middle one as being the most used defense by bridge protest supporters.
Gern Blanston: "Claim it for the 99 percent." What a fucking joke! When they shut down a bridge, or a busy downtown street, they're preventing everyone else from going about their daily lives. They're just a bunch of self-important, grandstanding pricks. They don't speak for me.
what_now: Maybe there are things that are more important than people going about their daily lives?
LJM: the problem is that you're suggesting that one group of people know which "things" are "more important" than going about their daily lives, and which "things" are less important. You can use this reasoning to justify any type of inconsiderate behavior by people who claim to be doing it for your own good.
Update two: Seattle Central Community College - where Occupy Seattle set up residence after moving from their original location in the shopping district - has been complaining about the public health hazards being created by the camp in the form "accumulations of garbage, poor food handling, discarded syringes and needles, fire safety hazards, dog feces, and disposal of wastewater." Congratulations again, Occupy Seattle, you've succeeded in be-filthing a facility that caters to lower-income people. That's really sticking it to the evil super-rich, isn't it? (As I saw someone else point out today, if they really want to stick it to banks through civil disobedience, why not occupy bank-owned foreclosed houses?)
Occupy supporters are seemingly unable to come up with non-false dichotomy arguments to support their protest at the bridge. It's all hyperbole like, "Oh, so you love watching billionaires raping the country?" or one who told me that I must be too busy fawning over the Kardashians to care about anything else. You can be against Occupy Seattle and its dumbass tactics without being pro-cop, pro-bailout, pro-apathy, and pro-status quo. I was, in fact, anti-status quo before this new wave of Carhartt Warriors grew their first pubes. (Do dirty anarkids still wear Carhartts? Am I totally dating myself in my choice of derisive terminology?)
Also, I actually do support using disruptive and controversial protest methods, but only when they are targeted and/or express a clear message and demands. (Examples being crashing a shareholder meeting to send a message that a corporation should stop engaging in such-and-such practice, or civil disobedience on a logging road that prevents logging companies from cutting down any trees that day.) Making things hard on huge numbers of Seattle residents who just want to get home from work makes people hate you, and accomplished absolutely nothing. Yes, it got media coverage and attention, but so what? Is the only goal of Occupy Seattle to get lots of bad press? Does getting bad press fix the economy or make one single person's life better? No, but it sure is easier than engaging in strategic activism or doing something positive.
by Furry Girl
Because really, what's sexier than an avocado?
Ho revolution programming to resume tomorrow.
by Furry Girl
Throughout my life, I've often felt like I'm in the middle. (Which is a positive way of phrasing that I don't fit in well anywhere.) I have too many fiscally-conservative views to be a proper leftist, but I'm not cheering for the uninsured to be left to die like some libertarians. While I have an unshaved crotch and don't have a mainstream LA porn appearance, I lack the tattoos and rainbow hair to demonstrate that I'm "smarter than your average porn star," as one popular alternaporn site marketed its collection. I also don't mesh perfectly with the American subculture of "empowered" sex workers, whatever that's supposed to mean.
There's this profile tacitly promoted by current sex workers' rights activism of how exactly one should look and behave if they are truly empowered: it's a movement for punks and anarchists, for feminists, for people devoted to deconstructing gender, for people with liberal arts degrees, for sex radicals and kinksters, for Pagans, for artists, and most importantly, for people who don't fit mainstream beauty standards. In short, the typical person drawn to ho activism is the typical person drawn to any sort of activism: one who constructs their identity around to how they are not like the rest of society. As a person who straddles the weird/normal border, I don't always feel like I fit in with American sex workers' rights activists, so I can only imagine what it's like for someone whose only "non-normal" trait is their occupation. I have no solution to the problem of the over-representation of "lifestyle outsiders" other than to do my best to encourage more typical sex workers to step up and claim their stake in their own movement.
Inspired by Annie Sprinkle's Anatomy of a Pin-Up, I thought I'd make an Anatomy of an Empowered Sex Worker.
Do you have what it takes to be empowered?
by Furry Girl
I wanted to drop a quick public thank you for this season's awesome gifts from my Amazon wishlist. Thank you to NT, SC & C, DG, DF, and MC. (Three came without a gift note. Please include your email in the "gift comments" field so I can thank you personally.) I don't get paid for writing, so getting tokens of thanks is always flattering. It's a nerdy economy: I create things for people to read, and am paid in books.
My cool new books:
* Vamps and Tramps by Camile Paglia (It's true, I haven't read any of her work before. But I've been repeatedly insulted I'm like her, so maybe we'll get along.)
* Professing Feminism: Education and Indoctrination in Women's Studies by Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge
* Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America by Frances Fox Piven
* Emperors in the Jungle: The Hidden History of the US in Panama by John Lindsay-Poland
* After Subculture: Critical Studies in Contemporary Youth Culture edited by Andy Bennett and Keith Kahn-Harris
* Prostitution and Sex Work by Melissa Ditmore
* The Industrial Workers of the World: Its First 100 Years by Fred W Thompson and Jon Bekken
* Pretend We're Dead by Annalee Newitz
If you want to support my love of books and thank me for being awesome, check out my wishlist on Amazon, and click the option to sort by priority. (Some books are high on my to-read list, others are "when I get a chance.")
by Furry Girl
I feel like the best foodie slut in the world to have been gifted both a new deep fryer and glitter high heels in one gifting season. Thank you to KB, GH, MF, DS, JH, and CB. (Several items came without a sender name or email address. Please include your email in the "gift comments" field so I can thank you personally.) Trivia: I now own two books with praise on the cover from Ann Coulter. I find this hilarious.
My new stuff:
* Glitter high heels (vegan glitter not from endangered unicorns, of course)
* A Presto deep fryer to replace my older one that died
* Lost season 6
* Watership Down DVD (a favorite childhood movie)
* Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa by Dambisa Moyo
* How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen
* Collapse by Jared Diamond
* The Porning of America by Carmine Sarracino and Kevin M. Scott
* The Flipside of Feminism by Suzanne Venker and Phyllis Schlafly (I'm finally taking a proper crack at some conservative anti-feminism in this book by Phyllis Schlafly and a younger woman)
* The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why by Amanda Ripley
* Porn 101: Eroticism, Pornography, and the First Amendment
* The Best of H. P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre
* Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the "Frenzy of the Visible" by Linda Williams
* Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture by Paul Nathanson and Katherine Young
* Mr X by Peter Straub and Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban (these weren't on my wishlist, but are from a viewer who thinks I'd enjoy them.)
If you want to thank me for bringing you the best in anti-feminist sex worker rantings, presents are always a delightful way of doing that. Visit my wishlist on Amazon, and click the option to sort by priority. (Some books are high on my to-read list, others are more "when I get a chance.")
by Furry Girl
I really won this holiday season. Between it being my 27th birthday, Christmas, and having disrobed in an airport, I was awarded a nice pile of presents. Thank you to J, R, T, S, E, Sequoia, JC, RL, and JS. One of the items came without a receipt, so I don't know who to thank. (Please include your email address in the "gift comments" field so I can email you personally.) I shot a photo of my goodies splayed out in my office area before a recent shoot. Damn, my desk looks so clean when I take most of the stuff off it and just put up some books!
My new books:
* The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr.
* Revolution for the Hell of It by Abbie Hoffman
* Tea Time with Terrorists: A Motorcycle Journey Into the Heart of Sri Lanka's Civil War by Mark Stephen Meadows
* How to be Invisible: The Essential Guide to Protecting Your Personal Privacy, Your Assets, and Your Life by J.J. Luna (This came highly recommend by Amanda Brooks during our privacy panel at the Desiree Alliance conference.)
* Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer
* The Other Side of Desire: Four Journeys into the Far Realms of Lust and Longing by Daniel Bergner
* The History of Sexuality, Volume 2: The Use of Pleasure by Michel Foucault
* Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in Our Free Country by Peter McWilliams
* Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explains By Its Most Brilliant Teacher by Richard Feynman
* Frozen Earth: The Once and Future Story of the Ice Ages by Doug Macdougall
* Where There is No Doctor: A Village Healthcare Handbook by David Werner (The cool part of this is that the sender used it in the 1980s while wandering from Namibia to Kenya, and said it really is an ace book on DIY medicine.)
Plus, those pretty rain boots I'm wearing.
If you want to pay tribute to me for being a pernicious cunt, books are always a delightful way of doing that. Visit my wishlist on Amazon, and click the option to sort by priority.
by Furry Girl
The first person who ever made me fear for my life was an avowed pacifist. He was my boyfriend, and he lost his temper, threw me to ground, pinned me down, and head-slammed me until several of his guy friends dragged him off me. This was at the same time that he became obsessed with Gandhi and decided that protesting was unethical because it had the potential to make someone uncomfortable, which was, according to him, a form of unacceptable psychological violence in which activists must no longer engage. I later had my head smashed into the edge of a tiled kitchen countertop by an environmentalist boyfriend, too. I've twice experienced a panic at the hands of a "do-gooder" that my skull was going to be cracked open. You don't need to convince me that abuse exists in even the most purportedly enlightened circles.
I have also witnessed a number of instances of people in activist and political social scenes who have use calculated accusations of rape, abuse, and assault out of spite, broken-heartedness, desire for attention, and to deflect from their own behaviors. Why does this happen? On the left side of the political spectrum, people are awarded unflinching acceptance of all claims of sexual misconduct. This harm lasts forever, even if later proved false or rescinded by the accuser once they've stopped being mad at their ex. I have friends who have been slandered by former lovers, and I've seen how the stigma scars their lives. I've seen this happen in different countries, in different social causes/subgroups, among people with different class backgrounds, different orientations and genders, and different ages. It's not been just a one-off thing that could be chalked up to a small and localized problem, like, "Gay animal rights people in Tuscon under 25 tend to do this."
I have no idea if WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange might have had sex with two of his fans without using a condom every time, or whether a condom broke. I don't know whether, if true, it was coerced unprotected sex, or consented to in the moment and later regretted. (You don't know the answers to these questions, either.) I spent several hours reading articles from both pro-and anti-Assange camps, and the more I read, the more the stories and circumstances of his accusers sounded fishy, and the more hysterical his detractors got with cherry-picking information, flat-out lying, and using over-the-top emotionally-manipulative language.
Here's the story from what I can tell: "victim one" bragged about having trophy-fucked Assange, threw a party for him the day after he "raped" her, and only decided she'd been "raped" after finding out she wasn't his only lover. Earlier this year, her blog promoted exacting malicious revenge on men who are unfaithful. (This series of events apparently could sound suspect only to a "rape-apologist"?) Once two jilted Assange groupies discovered each other, the women who'd previously stayed friendly with Assange even after their "assaults" (while thinking they were his only girl) got upset and decided to go to the police. And, even then, they didn't go to press rape charges at first, they went to see if they could force Assange to undergo STI testing. After there wasn't any evidence to charge him with anything, one woman changed her story to claim that, yes, actually, she did recall that he held her down with his body weight when they had sex, and so she was a rape victim. (The feminist hysterics have been holding up that part as their key lynchpin in their witch hunt. Because obviously, only a rapist would be on top of a woman during sex!)
So, are Assange's accusers victims of a powerful and horny political celebrity, or are they pissed off jealous fangirls who assumed Assange would reciprocate their adoration if they pursued and seduced him? It's a fair question to ask about motivations and truthfulness here, but anyone who's been asking gets shouted down with screams of "YOU SUPPORT RAPE!" It's a very offensive logical fallacy: question whether Assange is actually a rapist, and it means you must think rape is awesome.
Our post-feminist western culture celebrates women doing pointlessly spiteful things to men. This is the "triumph" of decades of fighting real sexism: narratives where women blow up an unattractive suitor's truck (Thelma & Louise), or burn all their husband's possessions when he wants a divorce (Waiting to Exhale) are chick flick classics. Women are generally given free passes to control, abuse, and seek vengeance that they would never be allowed if they were men. The solution to gender-based injustice is never to just reverse which gender the injustice gets brought against.
When lefties fanatically spearhead every rape/abuse allegation leveled by anyone, they are creating an environment that enables and even encourages false accusations from angry parties. While it's a travesty that police and courts have historically not often believed the claims of people who have been sexually assaulted, the solution is not to unquestioningly champion and celebrate anyone who says they are a victim. Never believing and always believing allegations are both wrong. Rape and assault are awful, fucked up things, but that doesn't mean accusations shouldn't be subjected to any degree of fact-checking or skepticism. Murder is awful, too, and even with badly flawed judicial systems, we still generally try and sort out the facts and give the accused their day in court and a chance to defend themselves.
Hysterics will no doubt claim that I'm defending rape or don't take it seriously. On the contrary: I consider rape and sexual assault accusations to be so serious that they deserve extra consideration and yes, even questioning when it's warranted. I think we're obligated to turn a critical eye on potentially fraudulent allegations. As someone who recently sung the praises of vigilante justice, I'm all in favor of exacting harsh revenge upon rapists, predators, and abusers - but if you're going to do that to someone, you had better be sure.
What is the workable alternative to having some degree of caution about rape accusations? What solution do the feminists propose? Is their argument that rape is so terrible that it's morally justifiable to mindlessly destroy innocent lives in the pursuit of ferreting out any potential rapists? (The term for that is collateral damage, and it's generally used to gloss over and negate civilian casualties in warfare.)
Julian Assange deserves a right to defend himself, have legal representation, question the lack of evidence of wrongdoing, and address lies being spread in the mainstream and liberal press. (Example: he didn't "flee Sweden to avoid prosecution" as the feminists are claiming - he stuck around some 40 days after the accusations surfaced, trying to see if police wanted to take a statement from him. Assange also willingly turned himself in - hardly the hallmark of a "flight risk trying to avoid going to court".) I don't know what transpired between himself and his "victims", but I do know that thus far, I'm not convinced he did anything more discourteous than failing to make clear to his Swedish ladyfriends he wasn't looking to settle down and marry them. Maybe my guess will be proved wrong. I'll keep an open mind, and I challenge others to do the same, especially when it comes to such incendiary topics. Google the matter for yourself, pick an array of articles to read (start with this post, perhaps), and form your own opinion based on a metric other than "anyone accused of rape is guilty, because rape is wrong."
Being around activist types for over a decade - and witnessing the fallout of how some of them go nuclear on their former lovers - I've been taught to be very suspicious of accusations of sexual impropriety when they involve "politically-minded," lefty, and feminist people. Don't blame me for requesting fairness to all parties - vilify the scoundrels who cry wolf just to get back at an ex, mocking real survivors and make it harder for them to be believed. Just as much as rapists and abusers, fakers are the true villains of this topic.
by Furry Girl
If I get presents sometimes, am I allowed to think of my blog as a paid gig yet? A poorly paid gig - like begging for spare change - but hey, it's awesome to get things in my mail drop. Thank you to the people who sent my latest cool new things: G, N, T, and A. One of them came without a receipt/note, so I'm sorry for the person I'm missing. (Feel free to utilize the "leave a gift message" option so you can tell me your email and I can thank you individually.) The cool things I received:
* A mini cupcake pan by Calphalon.
* An animal cookie cutter set which includes a snail, hedgehog, moose, fox, bear, and a squirrel. Snail cookies!
* Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá.
* Lonely Planet Australia. (I was originally planning to go to Australia for this winter's vacation, but I'm going to Sri Lanka instead. I will go to Australia next year, though. I need my All Seven Continents merit badge.)
* Opening Up by Tristan Taormino
* Gender Outlaw by Kate Bornstein. (The sender bought me two of these without instructions on what to do with the second copy. I gave the extra to a trans friend of mine.)
My 27th birthday is coming up next month, and as always, I love gifts! I have a wishlist on Amazon that's handy-dandy for browsing things I want, and they ship those items directly to me. It's so easy to use, you really have no excuse for not buying me stuff. My top two at the moment are the first couple of books listed in chronological order of being added, which are about Sri Lanka.
by Furry Girl
When I was 13 or 14, I saw a movie called Foxfire, and a certain scene in it really affected me. The movie was released in that general time where the mainstream entertainment world was trying to figure out how to appropriate and capitalize on riotgrrl culture and create a more sales-friendly "girl power" fad. (I've since read the novel by Joyce Carol Oates two or three times, and I much prefer the storyline in its original setting of a working class groups of girls in the 1950s.)
Aside from Foxfire being a fond relic from that period when Angelina Jolie was all tomboy-sexy - as well as featuring other androgynous hottie Jenny Shimizu - the movie taught me a valuable lesson by shoving in my face the concept that you share responsibility for wrongdoings when you fail to prevent them. I don't mean to overly fangirl a Hollywood movie, but Foxfire was my first introduction to the concept of what solidarity means, even before I was aware of the word.
This scene is at near the beginning of the movie, setting up how the characters meet and bond. The context: Rita, the redhead, is tearfully telling new-girl Angelina Jolie's character about a teacher who's been harassing and touching her when her keeps her in detention. The cheerleaders in the bathroom laugh and dismiss the whole thing, and Angelina sets everyone straight.
Afterwards, the group confronts and attacks the teacher, and the previously shy and ashamed Rita slams his head into a table and tells him she'll cut off his balls if he ever touches her again.
This really got me thinking about oppressive types of people. It's important to remember, even if they're not immediately targeting you just now, they sure as hell would if they could.
by Furry Girl
This post is a part of the Scarleteen Sex Ed Blog Carnival. Find links to posts from other participants here. This is veering off the course in which other participants have been headed, since I don't want to write about why sexual education is a good thing, or hit with you my own sales pitch for why Scarleteen and why you should donate, so I've written about a sexual health issue near and dear to me.
If you have a uterus and fallopian tubes, you've been hearing the same thing since you were in junior high (or earlier). When it comes to birth control, your options are condoms, the pill, or maybe, if you're feeling unconventional, the shot or the IUD. But what about those of us who don't want to take hormones or have an IUD painfully jammed up our cervixes? I got myself fixed four years ago - via tubal ligation - and I couldn't be happier with it.
First, a note on gender and language: for the sake of brevity and smoother writing, I'm going to refer to those who have a uterus and fallopian tubes as "women", but this doesn't mean that I don't consider trans women to be women, nor do I mean to exclude those who do not identify as women, but who may want a tubal ligation. Birth control isn't only an issue for straight people. Aside from all the bisexuals, consider, for example, a gay-identified, uterus-having FTM trans guy who fucks men, or a cisgender woman who has an non-op/pre-op MTF trans woman as her partner. It's just too hard to write inclusively of every possibility and still have concise, readable sentences.
I have never wanted children. I do not like children. Where most women light up with delirious joy when they see babies and little kids, I'm just hoping the child doesn't vomit or blow its nose on me. I choose to focus my maternal energies on my cat-baby and on my various projects.
Our culture demonizes childfree women as profoundly selfish, cold, and unfeminine. Sterilization for women seems to be more controversial and patently offensive than abortion - I'm not just saying "not right now" to the prospect being a mommy, I'm saying, "absolutely fucking never." I'd guess there are more places in America that will perform abortions than will sterilize childfree women.
Try on these common responses for starters:
"Aww, you'll change your mind when you hit 30! Wait until that biological clock of yours starts a-ticking!"
"Sure, you think don't like kids now, but it's totally different when they're your own!"
"Your life as a woman just won't be complete without experiencing pregnancy and birth!"
"Smart and pretty people need to out-breed those ignorant hicks!"
And so on. All of the sentiments assume, whether overtly or just subtly, that the only reason for me (and by extension, other women) to exist is to pop out babies, that it's where I'll find my "real" happiness in life, and that I'm controlled by a biological clock, incapable of making rational decisions about my fertility.
I've dated a couple of guys who wanted vasectomies. I went to their mandatory counseling sessions with both of them. It was easy as pie! No condescending insults, no pervasive culture of, "Come on, now, all men want to have babies! You'll probably change your mind anyway, you silly creature!" They were dudes, and it's natural for dudes to not want to have kids. No one shames or questions the sanity of men who get sterilized.
I got to watch one of my boys have his vasectomy performed, which was awesome, and took less time than getting a pedicure. Had I been supplied with a syringe of lidocaine and an autoclave, I could have performed his vasectomy on my kitchen counter using cuticle scissors, a crochet hook, and a soldering iron. He didn't even need stitches afterwards, and while he spent a few days taking it easy, he didn't need much pain medication at all. Vasectomy was easy to obtain for him, cheap, and didn't have many risks or a long recovery time.
When I was 22, I decided it was time to get serious about finding a doctor to sterilize me. If you're looking to get a tubal ligation, I highly recommend doing what I did: get a list of doctors from Planned Parenthood that they refer women to for tubal ligations. Here in Seattle, I think it was over a dozen doctors. I called one. I told the receptionist that I'd like to make an appointment to talk about getting a tubal ligation, but that I wanted to make sure before I even bothered to come in that the doctor didn't have a problem sterilizing young childfree women. The receptionist put me on hold, then told me it shouldn't be an issue. My consultation went much better than I expected. I came in there armed to the teeth to argue about my right to be sterilized, but the doctor was already on board. He just gave me a short spiel about how tubal ligations are to be considered permanent. To cap it off, he even ranted briefly about how rude and paternalistic it is that other doctors won't sterilize women who want it. I was in!
My experience in finding a great doctor on the first try seems to be pretty unique, however. Talking with other women, or looking at forums dedicated to birth control, you'll see tale after tale of women frustrated at being denied the right to control their own fertility, belittled by doctors and told that no, they actually will want to have children. I am so glad I didn't have to go through that.
I was scheduled to have a laparoscopic tubal ligation, which means I'd just have one tiny little scar. I decided that I didn't want a sterilization via Essure or the other new methods of inserting things into your fallopian tubes by forcing things up my cervix and (hopefully) correctly into my tubes. Firstly, because the multiple procedures involved in these methods sounded more painful and stressful than tubal surgery, and secondly, because my doctor has been doing tubal ligations for 30 years and not once had any failures that he was aware of. I didn't want to be awake and having someone jab away at my internal organs, I wanted to be knocked out and wake up in recovery when the jabbing was completed.
When my special day in the hospital came, it was a serious, all-day event, not like the "pedicure" my ex had gotten. I switched into a gown, and got an IV line started to give me a saline drip and antibiotics. It was done in a real operating suite, with my doctor, an anesthesiologist, and other helpers there to attend to me. I would have to spend most of the day in recovery in the hospital. (All this means that a tubal ligation costs loads more than a vasectomy. My tubal was 10-20 times as expensive as your average vasectomy.) The method of sterilization my doctor used was placing silicone rubber bands around my doubled-over fallopian tubes, which apparently has a shorter recovery time, and doesn't carry the risk to other internal organs that a slip during a cut-and-cauterization procedure could. Here are my before-and-after shots, look for the white arrow pointing to the doubled-over sections of tube in the lower pictures:
There was a bit of bruising at the incision area, but after just two weeks, you had to look hard to see the small reddened scar that was barely snaking out of my belly button. I will probably never have to worry about pregnancy again. There is a slight risk that my body could "heal" itself, but sterilization beats out other birth control methods for efficacy.
I don't mean to sound like a hippie who's afraid of science, but I'm wary of the long-term effects of women taking birth control pills for 20+ years of their lives. I've still used condoms for most of the sex I've had in the last 4 years, but I'm happy that my backup method is internal and intrinsic, not something external that I have to rely upon being granted access to. No one can ever take away my right to keep being sterilized. It's like a buy-versus-lease question, and I wanted to buy my freedom so no one would ever take it away from me. Although I think it's highly unlikely the government would de-approve the birth control pill, IUDs, and Depo-Provera shots, I really value that I will never have to leave my fertility up to the whims of politicians and the laws of whatever country I might find myself in. (And, you know, after the zombie apocalypse, how many years do you think the remaining stockpile of birth control pills will last?)
I frequently meet other women who either already have an active interest in getting sterilized, or dismissed the idea as just too difficult until they met me. I wish that more people were aware of what tubal ligations involve, and that it's not actually impossible to get them, even if you're young, single, and childfree. As more women are choosing to not have children, I wish the sterilization was as widely-promoted as other forms of birth control, rather than a method relegated to the end of the list, surrounded by extra caveats and dismissive language. It's not for everyone (neither are IUDs, the shot, the patch, or the pill), but if you know that having biological children is not for you, don't be afraid to get out there and demand it. You might get turned down by a doctor or few, but don't get discouraged.
If money is an issue for you, all states have federal funds allocated to providing birth control to those with low-income, free of charge. In Washington state where I live, this Malthusian keep-the-poor-from-breeding-up-more-welfare-babies effort is called "Take Charge", and in Seattle, you need to earn less than (last time I checked) $1600 a month to qualify. (The amount varies by area.) Go to your local Planned Parenthood or other clinic, and ask about funding options if you're low-income. Also, check with doctors about payment plans - that might be an option if you don't have insurance.
So, this is my own contribution to sex education today: telling you about my choice method of pregnancy prevention, and my hope that in time, sterilization for women will become more widely-accessible, and as stigma-free as it is for men.
A few resources:
* Planned Parenthood's info on sterilization for those with eggs and those with sperm
* The sterilizationqa LiveJournal Community (Yeah, I know, shocker - people still use Livejournal)
* The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (I highly recommend the "Biology and Breeding" and "Science Fiction and Fantasy" sections)
* The Baby Boon: How Family-Friendly America Cheats the Childless (Awesome book)
Scarleteen is an nonprofit, body-positive resource for young people who are looking for medically-accurate, non-judgmental sex ed. Good projects like Scarleteen can't survive without funding, so consider making a donation. I'm happy to say that my smut company is in the list of the top-tier (over $1000) donors to the site.
Furry Girl: a good time not yet had by all.
- I operate SWAAY.org, an accessible sex workers' rights site that educates the general public about our lives and our issues.
- I've been vegan for 13 years because it's the easiest way for an individual to contribute to less violence, suffering, and exploitation.
My adult sites
- Cocksexual.com: Strapons
- EroticRed.com: Menstruation
- FurryGirl.com: Unshaved
- TheSensualVegan.com: Store
- VegPorn.com: Herbivores
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New to my blog? Some favorite posts
- "You have no right to dislike feminism after all it's done for you!"
- "You misrepresent true feminism by focusing on the bad feminists. They're not real feminists anyway!"
- An argument for more sex workers to be out?
- Degrading, violent desires
- Do you have what it takes to be an empowered sex worker?
- Feminism is the shitty relationship you had in your early 20s
- Feminist porn isn't a branch of sex workers' rights, it's an obstacle
- How are we branding sex workers rights in the US? (Let's focus more on *worker*, less on *sex*!)
- How to do your homework on trafficking, "rescue", and the affected communities
- Let's stop pretending that "objectification" is a thing that exists
- Musings on ethical porn and the red herrings of "feminist porn" and "violent porn"
- My call for a "working" class uprising against inaccessible discourse and the over-representation of dabblers
- Sex trafficking is the new crack: manufactured "epidemics" as political tools
- The common logical fallacies deployed by anti-sex worker activists
- Things I've gained from being a sex worker: an anti-paternalistic perspective
- Vigilantism and 'crushing bastards': in praise of anger, hatred, and taking joy in the smiting of one's enemies
- Want to play BINGO with the antis?
- Watch out for psuedoscience: my long-time nemeses of concern trolling and "teaching the controversy"
- What do I mean when I say "sex worker"? Why I'm against an overly-broad definition
- Why I call them "anti-sex worker" rather than "anti-porn" or "anti-prostitution," and why you should too
Favorite sex/ho blogs
- Amanda Brooks
- Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers
- Belle de Jour
- Born Whore
- Bound, Not Gagged
- Dan Savage on SLOG
- Danny Wylde
- Jiz Lee
- Kat's Stories
- Laura Agustín
- Lux Nightmare [2006-2007]
- Maggie McNeill
- Our Porn, Ourselves
- Sequoia Redd
- Serpent Libertine
- Sex Worker Pie Charts
- Sexonomics by Brooke Magnanti
- Shit They Say to Sex Workers
- Stuff Sex Workers Eat
- Whore Madonna