by Furry Girl
"No one, but no one, has 'free choice'. If you think otherwise, remind yourself what you wanted to be when you grew up, and reflect on how exactly you ended up where you are now. Did you freely select from all career choices in the world, ever? Or did you choose as best you could from the options offered by your abilities and (more crucially) your circumstances? You know, like [famous pimp] Iceberg Slim did?
Some folks seem especially resistant to acknowledging the truth about work, so I'll underline it some more. Entire towns in the North weren't full of miners because everyone there just happened to have the aptitude and preference for that sole job, but because it was the only job going. NE Scotland isn't full of fishermen because they have a particular concentration of people whose life's dream was to catch fish, but because that's what the job market offers. Everyone's outcome is the product of limited choices, from streetwalkers to the Queen. And no one's suggesting she needs to be 'rescued' from her lack of career options.
If you want to improve someone's options, you address the things that constrain their choices in the first place. Poverty, addiction, education, to name a few. Not take away the only choices they have."
-- Dr Brooke Magnanti, in Radfems, racism, and the problem with "pimps" on sexonomics-uk.blogspot.com
by Furry Girl
"We know the prime users of alternative medicine worldwide - it's those middle-aged, middle-class, educated women with a high disposable income. The younger end of this group is also likely to take their children to naturopaths and cranial osteopaths, to avoid having them immunised and to medicate them with shop-bought homeopathic and herbal remedies. Alternative medicine offers these women a way to take control, to be remarkable in their day-to-day lives and to make them feel as if their needs as individuals are being attended to. It touches them, both physically and emotionally, at a point in mid-life when many women in our society say they are beginning to feel invisible... Marketing executives have been quick to appreciate the strong appeal of CAM for women.
Alternative medicine knows precisely how to make every user feel special. CAM [Complementary and Alternative Medicine] says you are unique so your treatment needs to be carefully calibrated to reflect your individuality... What matters is you, not your illness symptoms or even whether you actually have any identifiable illness or symptoms.
It is an abiding paradox that alternative medicine is used most keenly by the generation of women who, in the form of the women's liberation movement of the 1970s and 1980s, asserted that it was 'our bodies, our lives, our right to decide' and rejected paternalistic medicine in the delivery room and beyond. Yet these same women now want to be told what to do by a shaman."
-- Rose Shapiro, in her book, Suckers: How Alternative Medicine Makes Fools of Us All.
My favorite part of this book was the commentary on the gender politics of pseudoscience, and the embarrassing fact that women will gleefully line up to empty their wallets for any woo-woo nonsense that holds their hands and tells them that they're beautiful and unique snowflakes.
Quack "medicine" should be decried for the same reasons as scented vaginal douches (which also profit from purposefully exploiting women's insecurities). Instead, the very people who would balk at shame-centric, unhealthy "feminine hygiene" products are the same people in the "natural alternatives" section of the pharmacy picking up another expensive a tube of sugar pills that promises to truly appreciate their specialness.
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
"You get work however you get work, but people keep working, in a freelance world - and more and more of today's world is freelance - because their work is good, and because they're easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time. And you don't even need all three. Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. People will forgive the lateness of your work if it's good and they like you. And you don't have to be as good as everyone else if you're on time and it's always a pleasure to hear from you."
-- A video posted as Neil Gaiman – The Best Commencement Speech You May Ever Hear on fourhourworkweek.com
Thanks to Brooke Magnanti for tweeting this video. This bit was my favorite from the speech, which is worth watching in its entirety.
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
"...Corporate philanthropy began to replace missionary activity as Capitalism's (and Imperialism's) road opening and systems maintenance patrol.
The Privatisation of Everything has also meant the NGO-isation of Everything. As jobs and livelihoods disappeared, NGOs have become an important source of employment, even for those who see them for what they are. And they are certainly not all bad. Of the millions of NGOs, some do remarkable, radical work and it would be a travesty to tar all NGOs with the same brush. However, the corporate or Foundation-endowed NGOs are global finance's way of buying into resistance movements, literally like shareholders buy shares in companies, and then try to control them from within.
Armed with their billions, these NGOs have waded into the world, turning potential revolutionaries into salaried activists, funding artists, intellectuals and filmmakers, gently luring them away from radical confrontation, ushering them in the direction of multi-culturalism, gender, community development—the discourse couched in the language of identity politics and human rights.
The NGO-isation of the women's movement has also made western liberal feminism (by virtue of its being the most funded brand) the standard-bearer of what constitutes feminism. The battles, as usual, have been played out on women's bodies, extruding Botox at one end and burqas at the other. (And then there are those who suffer the double whammy, Botox and the Burqa.) When, as happened recently in France, an attempt is made to coerce women out of the burqa rather than creating a situation in which a woman can choose what she wishes to do, it's not about liberating her, but about unclothing her. It becomes an act of humiliation and cultural imperialism. It's not about the burqa. It's about the coercion. Coercing a woman out of a burqa is as bad as coercing her into one. Viewing gender in this way, shorn of social, political and economic context, makes it an issue of identity, a battle of props and costumes. It is what allowed the US government to use western feminist groups as moral cover when it invaded Afghanistan in 2001. Afghan women were (and are) in terrible trouble under the Taliban. But dropping daisy-cutters on them was not going to solve their problems."
-- Arundhati Roy in Capitalism: A Ghost Store on outlookindia.com
Great piece, I recommend reading it. If you're short on time, feel free to bypass the discussion of Indian politics and corruption (tl;dr: shit's fucked up), and start with the section "What follows...", as a lot of that relates to any country.
by Furry Girl
"The reason I went out on that limb [making anti-drug war comments when speaking at Liberty University] was partly penance for my two great aunts who devoted their lives to the Women's Temperance Union and certainly played a part in creating Prohibition nearly a century ago. They are both deceased now, but I think it's important to realize that their religious outrage over alcohol created the legal precedent to allow the federal government to come between my lips and my throat. In essence, to tell me what I could and could not ingest.
That such a precedent would morph in our day into illegal raw milk, homemade pickles, and home cured charcuterie certainly never crossed their minds. But this is why we must be very careful when we ask for the government to remedy our outrage. Outrageous behavior, also known as the lunatic fringe, is the seed bed of innovation and creativity. A government that can take away alcohol can also take away heritage food.
The moment the government determines that you do not own yourself, that society owns your body, you give up all personal choice and autonomy. You are no longer a citizen, but a slave. Not a person, but a pawn.
Right now, farmers can give away raw milk and home made pickles; the prohibition is on sales. What is it about taking money for something that suddenly turns it from a wonderful charitable product into a hazardous substance?"
-- An interview with Joel Salatin in Creating Sustainable Agriculture Without Government Subsidies on reason.com
I don't like how Salatin sees veganism and locavorism as opposing ideas (I bet that a greater percentage of vegans support farmer's markets and are concerned about buying local/sustainable than typical American omnivores), or his support of homeopathy and alt "med," but most of the article is pretty awesome. I found Salatin's anti-GMO stance especially great: the need to fight Monsanto from a property rights perspective, not with more government regulation of GMOs. (An example of how enforcing existing basic laws is better than creating more red tape and more laws.) Overall, I enjoy seeing how people from various walks of life can make the same connections about government intrusion on their bodies and their lives - whether a Christian farmer or an atheist ho.
by Furry Girl
"Beach boys and women sex tourists: every journalist's dream topic...
Reporters want to know if the boys are 'really' prostitutes and why the girls are paying; they have trouble figuring out who is exploiting whom. It's a bias, of course, to insist someone has to be exploiting since money and sex are involved, rather than seeing these as ordinary relationships, the kind that travelling people have been having since human life began."
-- Dr Laura Agustín, in Girls who buy sex from beach boys: Sex tourism in Bali on lauraagustin.com
This article on Bali reminds me of one of my own anecdotes: a few years ago, I spent a couple of nights on the coast of Kenya in a town called Watamu. It's the only place I've ever been where the sex tourism was about women as purchasers. It was an amusing dynamic for me to suddenly be the one propositioned by sex workers. The gorgeous beach boys would come up to the (mostly middle-aged) white women and say something like, "Would you like to go shopping?" or "Would you like company for dinner?" The guys were not overtly asking for cash for a set time period or a sex act, they seemed to want to stay in an upmarket hotel and be purchased gifts, clothing, and fancy dinners (and hopefully get some "spending money" as well).
by Furry Girl
"I can't count the number of times I've defended figures like Howard Stern and Bill Maher—straight entertainers who 1. fully support gay rights but 2. sometimes tell jokes that sensitivos consider homophobic. These guys are on our side and they're good for our side. Yeah, sometimes the tell jokes or do bits that are rooted in what is clearly their own personal discomfort with/fear of gay sex, particularly that man-on-man buttsex they never tire of hearing about, obsessing about, joking about, etc. But you know what? There are a lot of people out there who oppose gay rights because they're uncomfortable with gay sex and a lot of these folks—and lots of them are the kinds of guys who listen to Stern—are convinced that their own personal discomfort with gay sex requires them to oppose gay rights. What the Sterns and Mahers demonstrate is that you can be a little uncomfortable with gay sex—you can even have sense of humor about your discomfort, you can even tell the occasional joke about it—and still support the full civil equality of LGBT people."
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
Furry Girl: a good time not yet had by all.
- I operate SWAAY.org, an accessible sex workers' rights site that educates the general public about our lives and our issues.
- I've been vegan for 13 years because it's the easiest way for an individual to contribute to less violence, suffering, and exploitation.
My adult sites
- Cocksexual.com: Strapons
- EroticRed.com: Menstruation
- FurryGirl.com: Unshaved
- TheSensualVegan.com: Store
- VegPorn.com: Herbivores
More of me online
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New to my blog? Some favorite posts
- "You have no right to dislike feminism after all it's done for you!"
- "You misrepresent true feminism by focusing on the bad feminists. They're not real feminists anyway!"
- An argument for more sex workers to be out?
- Degrading, violent desires
- Do you have what it takes to be an empowered sex worker?
- Feminism is the shitty relationship you had in your early 20s
- Feminist porn isn't a branch of sex workers' rights, it's an obstacle
- How are we branding sex workers rights in the US? (Let's focus more on *worker*, less on *sex*!)
- How to do your homework on trafficking, "rescue", and the affected communities
- Let's stop pretending that "objectification" is a thing that exists
- Musings on ethical porn and the red herrings of "feminist porn" and "violent porn"
- My call for a "working" class uprising against inaccessible discourse and the over-representation of dabblers
- Sex trafficking is the new crack: manufactured "epidemics" as political tools
- The common logical fallacies deployed by anti-sex worker activists
- Things I've gained from being a sex worker: an anti-paternalistic perspective
- Vigilantism and 'crushing bastards': in praise of anger, hatred, and taking joy in the smiting of one's enemies
- Want to play BINGO with the antis?
- Watch out for psuedoscience: my long-time nemeses of concern trolling and "teaching the controversy"
- What do I mean when I say "sex worker"? Why I'm against an overly-broad definition
- Why I call them "anti-sex worker" rather than "anti-porn" or "anti-prostitution," and why you should too
Favorite sex/ho blogs
- Amanda Brooks
- Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers
- Belle de Jour
- Born Whore
- Bound, Not Gagged
- Dan Savage on SLOG
- Danny Wylde
- Jiz Lee
- Kat's Stories
- Laura Agustín
- Lux Nightmare [2006-2007]
- Maggie McNeill
- Our Porn, Ourselves
- Sequoia Redd
- Serpent Libertine
- Sex Worker Pie Charts
- Sexonomics by Brooke Magnanti
- Shit They Say to Sex Workers
- Stuff Sex Workers Eat
- Whore Madonna