by Furry Girl
I've noticed my local government's anti-trafficking ads on the sides of buses, but haven't mentioned them on my blog. Then I really saw one yesterday that did something I have never, ever seen before from a mainstream anti-trafficking campaign: declare that women can be traffickers and men can be victims. Sure, this dynamic is no shocker to people who actually know anything about migrant labor, but to see it in a county-funded ad campaign blew me away.
King County's anti-trafficking campaign has many flaws, of course, but I will say that I appreciate that the ads are not just about sex slavery. The campaign uses the Polaris Project, a Christian morality NGO as a "fact" source; is partnered with the Somaly Mam Foundation, which sends Cambodian sex workers to private prisons where they are sexually abused; and links to a Shared Hope International anti-prostitution page as a resource. So the campaign is deeply problematic and based in the lies of anti-sex worker hysterics and religious nuts, and I'm not defending that.
But I think this is still a tiny, possibly hopeful step in the right direction, because the campaign is about the many faces of forced trafficking, not just the sexy sex trafficking for sexy sexual abuse thing that we normally see. There are three ad designs, and only one is about sex trafficking. The other two imply domestic labor.
by Furry Girl
Much has been made over the years of feminist academics' use of images of sex workers without their permission for the purposes of belittling the featured sex worker and campaigning for their criminalization and public shaming. I found out that a photo of me has made it into an academic's lecture slides, but not in a class on navel-gazing feelingsy bullshit.
A friend of mine recently sent me a slide from a class on genetics he's taking, but asked me to not post the details about his school. (I told him that rather than seeking anonymity, he should have hollered out, "I banged that chick!" during the lecture.) Maybe I should be offended that I'm not credited, but I find it amusing that I am being used as an example when discussing human body hair growth patterns. (If I'm going to make it into the halls of academia, better a scientific example than a target of feminist hatred.) I'm pretty sure that's not my bush, I'm just the armpit example.
by Furry Girl
I am pleased to see that a new fight is gearing up against the United States' horrible 2257 regulations, and I want to tell my readers about why "a porn regulation" should matter to them as sex workers, sex workers' rights activists, and privacy rights supporters.
"2257" is shorthand for the numerical code of the irritatingly-named Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act. You can read about it in detail on Wikipedia, but the short of it is that when you appear in adult productions in the US, you as the performer/model must give the production company/photographer two forms of identification and sign a bunch of paperwork promising that you are over 18. (Which is its own absurdity, because there have been a few instances of 16 or 17 year olds getting fake IDs to work in porn, and any contract a minor signs is void anyway. The contract doesn't do a thing to guarantee age, and does not prevent a determined teenager from working in porn. It's the producer who is punished, even if they do everything they possibly can to screen out a lying underage worker.) 2257 laws, like all ridiculous, anti-privacy, anti-free speech measures, are "to save the children."
There are many good reasons to oppose 2257 regulations as they stand now, not the least of which is that it's an attempt by the government to strangle the sex industry and stifle sexual expression online through red tape and excessive paperwork-keeping requirements. As someone who both appears in and produces online porn, 2257 is a problem from all sides for me, but there are two facets which I oppose the most. (I covered this topic in my talk in privacy at the 2010 Desiree Alliance conference, and I really wish more sex workers understood what happens to their information once they sign waivers and let their IDs be photocopied.)
First off, 2257 laws are a horrifying problem in terms of privacy for models and performers. I am required to keep records of the name and legal address of all people who appear on my websites, and to keep copies of two forms of ID, one of which must be government-issued and have a photo. If I pay them over $600 US in a year, I am required to note their social security number for tax purposes. I am required to keep these model releases and IDs organized by legal names and stage names, and where the images appear. I am required to have these records available for inspection by the federal government to prove that my web sites are not actually filled with child pornography.
As a small-scale pornographer who only produces exclusive content, I keep all of these records to myself, but with the vast majority of porn, content is shot with the purpose of re-selling and licensing it out to many sources, which means a performer who thinks they are entrusting their name to one photographer may end up giving it to hundreds of people. Any random person can search for companies reselling and licensing adult content, and with a purchase, buy performer's legal names, social security numbers, and addresses. I've even seen online content sellers that allow new customers to try their content for free, meaning they are literally just handing out copies of performer's personally-identifying data to anyone who asks. This should rightly scare anyone who has ever signed a model release for an adult company. I even hesitate to talk about it this part of the porn industry publicly, because it's the easiest way for a stalker to find a porn performer. It's not as easy as Googling, "Sally Sweetsucker home address," but a determined stalker can comb through enough adult content resellers and have a good shot at finding their target.
My second main problem with 2257 as a small-scale pornographer is that I am required by law to list my legal name and home address (because that is my business location and primary place of production) on the front page of my web sites. (This is not allowed to be a PO box or an office you rent just for the purpose of record-keeping. It has to be staffed during business hours, and where you actually shoot your content. That might work for a big studio with a building with security, but not for small-timers.) In my decade in the business, I have only ever met one small-scale producer that complied with that portion of 2257 regulations, and I was shocked that they did. Independent pornographers and sex workers like myself should not have to choose between a fear of federal prosecutions and prison time for violating this aspect of 2257 laws, and a fear of overzealous stalkers coming to our homes to rape or assault us. When I started in 2002, it was allowed to have an attorney serve as the official record-keeper of your 2257 documentation, but that changed years ago during the Bush administration. Many small-scale pornographers simply pulled out and found new jobs, too scared of making the horrible choice of federal prison or being attacked by stalkers. No one should have to make that choice. No one should be put in such an extreme a lose-lose position.
There have been legal challenges in the past to 2257 laws, but the fight continues. The Free Speech Coalition has launched a new web site asking for help funding their battle, and you should support it. 2257 laws endanger the lives and safety of sex workers, but this issue is never discussed in sex worker advocacy circles. Porn production regulations are more institutionalized and abstract that the immediate concerns of escorts/prostitutes/etc who fear arrest, assault, and rape, but it's just as real, as just as serious. Please support the effort to fight against 2257 laws, and spread the word.
by Furry Girl
I know, I know - Annie Hall came out in 1977, but in keeping with my belief that everything you need to know about life, you've already learned from movies you watched growing up, I wanted to share a favorite scene. Woody Allen and his date are stuck in line with a man loudly sharing his profound philosophical insights on what Marshall McLuhan would think about something. As sex workers, we've all been subjected to hearing blowhards drone on and on about "what it's like to be a sex worker," especially from academics, so seeing this scene made me laugh.
If only life were only like this, indeed.
by Furry Girl
"For example, while the [UN] draft resolution [on women's rights] doesn’t call for providing protection or respect for prostitutes, it does call for ending violence against all women, which would include the minority that work in prostitution. Those women, while their job may be deemed immoral or illegal in certain countries, deserve protection from violence like any other human being or citizen of their country, a fact which the MB seems to take issue with. Aside from using religion to oppose equality between men and women, they are even advocating dehumanizing - in the sense of deeming them unworthy of their human rights - those they consider morally bankrupt, like lesbians or prostitutes. Protecting these two subgroups of citizens from violence is against Islam according to the MB, and therefore shouldn't be allowed."
-- Mahmoud Salem (aka @Sandmonkey) in Gender Wars: The Muslim Brotherhood Versus Egypt's Women on acus.org. He's my favorite Egyptian blogger/activist/self-proclaimed "pain in the ass," and it's been interesting watching a revolution/coup unfold and through his eyes.
by Furry Girl
Last night, the feminist porn bubble erupted in girlie squeals of "OMG, a cute boy looked at us!" on Twitter because it has found a new celebrity hero: Justin Timberlake. In a skit on Saturday Night Live, a character Timberlake was playing made a joking reference to feminist porn, which the feminist porn scene have been quick to appropriate (inaccurately) as some sort of serious celebrity endorsement of their genre, with Tristan Taormino now using Timberlake's face with the line from the SNL joke as marketing for her latest book. An image of Timberlake's face and the quote is currently being widely retweeted, reblogged, and celebrated as a victory. (On what planet does a joke on SNL constitute a celebrity's endorsement and interest in you using their image to sell you products, anyway? Should the piss porn genre should start using Patrick Stewart's face to sell their products because he once did a skit on SNL where he played a man turned on by women urinating?)
However, implying a celebrity endorsement of your products where none exists and using their image without their permission so you can make money isn't why I take issue with Taormino and others fawning all over Timberlake. (Though those are perfectly problematic issues in themselves.)
Timberlake was one of the celebrities who appeared in advertisements for the now-defunct Demi N Ashton Foundation, an anti-sex worker organization that regurgitated the same old lies about how the average age of entering the sex industry is 12, and how a whopping 1% of the population of America are trafficked child sex slaves. If you follow sex workers' rights issues even in the most passing way, you'd remember what a big deal this celebrity-led campaign was, and how it launched the biggest-yet mainstream media coverage of the rescue industry in the form of a series of Village Voice articles debunking the Foundation's claims. Like it or not, celebrities get more attention that any normal person ever could, including most politicians, so when celebrities pick up a cause as a trendy new way of earning themselves some good PR, millions of people will hear about that cause. It's because of the instant credibility which Americans assign to celebrities that their campaigns have so much power to undermine grownup-level conversations like sex workers' rights. I'm infuriated that Tristan Taormino and the rest of the sexy feminist team are currently heroizing a man who was very recently making the rounds as an anti-sex worker campaigner. Justin Timberlake has contributed to setting the sex workers' rights movement back by popularizing the worst lies about us, and no amount of jokes about porn can right that wrong. Feminists like Taormino couldn't care less about Timberlake's anti-sex worker activism, though, apparently finding it perfectly acceptable to throw normal sex workers under the bus so they can grasp desperately at the exciting straw of a celebrity knowing their porn genre exists.
This spat with an obtuse feminist pornographer reminds me of why I hate the feminist porn genre so much. No, not the products it makes, since I think a lot of it is sexy, but the way the genre works. It adds insult to injury that so many people see feminist porn as an extension of and solution to sex workers' rights, when it's really an obstacle.
Feminist porn is the anti-sex worker sex work, and its marketing commonly slams other sex workers and their appearance. One of the first feminist porn sites was Nakkid Nerds, whose motto was "Smarter than your average porn star," and it's only gone downhill ever since. Feminist porn has an aesthetic, and that aesthetic is marketed as the definition of being "empowered," as though a woman's intelligence and value as a human being is to be judged solely by whether or not she has tattoos and thick-rimmed hipster glasses. I can't tell you how many times I have seen feminist porn marketed with insults, catty little jabs about how their company doesn't have those brain-dead bleach-blonde drugged-up bimbos you see in regular porn, it has artists and lovers and manic pixie dream girls. As someone who makes porn with a similar "not traditional beauty standards" aesthetic, I have always tried to avoid that kind of vicious marketing copy, and while I do want to differentiate myself from a mainstream porn site, I prefer to use terms like, "not another cookie-cutter porn site," rather than launch an attack on how mainstream porn performers are ugly and stupid. You don't have to insult the appearances and intelligence of other sex workers to show that you're different, but it's endemic to feminist porn.
Feminist porn excludes normal sex workers by screening out applications from anyone who dares to be motivated by money, and the genre has long been inconsistent when it comes to actually paying performers. Feminist porn sites try and avoid hiring people who are "just in it for the money," as though there's nothing more disgusting than being a sex worker. One of the largest feminist porn companies used to openly claim that you could only get paid modeling work if you did some free work, so they could deter those awful people who were in it for the money. Another famous feminist porn director is renowned for financially screwing over her performers by trying to talk them down to accepting a lower payment after they've already shown up for work, or have already performed their scene, or simply not paying them at all. Most feminist porn sites start not with some investment capital, but by asking performers to donate their labor on the vague promise that they will be paid if and when the site ever makes a profit. (And many sites fail, which leaves a lot of hurt feelings.) I've watched as this business model has lead to plenty of behind-the-scene drama over the years when models don't get paid. This is not just about one feminist porn company, it's how the genre works. This financially exploitative relationship to workers is their normal, and it only continues to work because there will always be plenty of cute college-age punks and hipsters who are motivated by the fun and rebellious aspect of the porn industry, but aren't trying to make it a reliable source of income. Many feminist porn sites also expect workers to donate unpaid labor in the form of writing blogs for the site, participating in the site's online forums and flirting with paying subscribers, responding to fan emails, and doing member chats. Those precious "social networking" and "community" features, of which the feminist porn genre is so proud, are built on the labor of unpaid workers, who are well aware that doing free work might lead to being hired for paid work again.
Feminist porn splashes the word "revolutionary" all over everything it does. This might seem like I'm nitpicking semantics here, but I take deep offense to corporations using the term "revolution" in order to sell things. After all, let's not forget that feminist porn is a business, and as a business, its goal is to make money. It's fine by me to make money, I like making money, too, but I would never insult all the peoples of the world who have engaged in lengthy and costly life-or-death struggles by touting my collection of tit pics a "revolution." Using that word to market entertainment products shows a profound ignorance of and giggly insensitivity towards countless historical and global struggles where vast numbers of oppressed people have died in horrible ways while fighting for freedoms like ending racial segregation, to buck off colonialism, or to overthrow dictators. Feminist porn sellers are not "revolutionaries" by any stretch of the imagination.
People who dabble in feminist porn are regularly handed paid speaking gigs at colleges around the country to speak on sex work issues, even though they only rarely engage in sex work, and do so mostly for fun. This would be akin to having an event about labor organizing for farm workers and hiring as your speaker someone who occasionally helps with a friend's garden on summer weekends. People are drawn to sex work for all sorts of reasons, and one of them is that it's naughty and exciting, but it's deeply troublesome to have most of the public faces of sex work be feminist porn models who are motivated by an interest in transgressive fun. The vast, vast majority of sex workers are not in the business primarily for personal growth and sexual fulfillment, so it always bothers me to see such people actively seeking so much attention as sex workers. I doubt any of these feminist porn dabblers claim to represent all sex workers in their lectures, but that doesn't negate the fact that when the public is handed a token sex worker at an event, they will mentally assign to them the status of "spokesperson for sex workers." It's because of the fact that representatives are taken as representative that the onus should be on people invited to speak before large groups as a token sex workers to ask themselves, "Am I really the person who should be addressing this group? Might they be better served by someone who is a full-time sex worker, or who has more experience than I, or who is a more typical sex worker?" I have refused plenty of chances to be on TV or in the media because I felt like I was not the best spokesperson for whatever a journalist wanted to discuss, and I always referred them to people who are better suited than I. I've dabbling in pro-domming work, but I certainly wouldn't be marketing myself to universities as someone they should hire to speak to students on what it's like to be a dominatrix. Dabblers shouldn't be spokespersons, period, but the lure of fame and being able to add "college speaker" to one's resume is too irresistible to feminist porn people.
And the biggest one: feminist porn hinges on the idea that sex work is only ethical or acceptable if it's done by people who are doing it primarily for personal fulfillment. This "let them eat cake" attitude is such profound bullshit, and it's completely antithetical to the idea of sex workers' rights. The feminist porn scene trades on (and profits from) marketing copy that implies that sex work is unethical when it's done by normal sex workers, who are no doubt exploited and degraded. This is so insulting, especially when some of them obtusely throw out the argument that feminist porn is some kind of "solution" to sex workers' rights, as though the millions of sex workers around the world could sustain their incomes by traveling to San Francisco to do a couple of porn shoots a year where they may or may not ever be paid. (Feminists have deployed a similar argument about how the "solution" to large stage fees and mandatory tipouts in the strip club industry is that everyone instead works at San Francisco's small worker-run Lusty Lady punk/chubby girl strip club where everyone earns an hourly wage.)
Along with decriminalization, the goal of the global sex workers' rights movement is to gain public respect for our work and to be recognized as workers, and feminist porn is fighting for the exact opposite: that sex work is only acceptable if it's done by not-workers for not-money, and that being motivated by money to do sex work is a problem in itself. Every business needs its marketing angles and to differentiate itself from competitors, but feminist porn needn't put its own profits and feel-good image ahead of the struggles of sex workers to convince the public that selling sexual services is a legitimate job and should be respected as such. The real insult of all of this is that any advancement in sex workers' rights also benefits feminist porn performers, but feminist porn believes it can only succeed by disparaging other sex workers.
by Furry Girl
One of the things I've stridently maintained when it comes to sex work activism and debate is that the voices of current and long-term sex workers should always be privileged over those of former sex workers and occasional dabblers. It's in that vein that I feel obligated to disclose changes in my own status: after 10 years as a full time sex worker, I'm transitioning out of sex work. Well, half way, for now. It's not the sort of rapid exit process I've seen others undergo, such as getting a new boyfriend/husband and suddenly deleting their web presence. Since I have dealt with stalker problems throughout my career, I'm not going to disclose the details of what I'm doing in the new "straight" part of my life, but I'm not going to leave you totally hanging, either. I'm still one foot in, one foot out, as I work on creating a second career for myself - it's the hokey-pokey method of leaving the industry. (I've wondered if this is more normal, or the sudden exit method? Do most sex workers start a second career secretly towards the end of their stint as sex workers, and just never mention it?) The only thing I feel like saying about Career B is that it involves using science to make the world a better place. Since this has been a big decision that I didn't make lightly, I thought I'd share my reasons and some things I've been discovering.
The big question: why are you leaving sex work?
First, porn simply doesn't pay very well any more. Even though I am a sexually open person and a natural exhibitionist, I got into sex work for the money. (I can be a pervert for free any time, though.) The money's just not there any more, at least in my part of the industry. It's been a struggle to come to admitting this to myself, but the golden days of internet porn are long over, and I'm not willing to continue with the stress and responsibility of running my own business - and one that could land me in prison! - for so little pay. Though I've given it a lot of thought, I'm simply too much a scaredy-cat to be an escort or dominatrix. I've dabbled in offline pro-domming, and had totally safe experiences, but I just worry too much about drawing the short straw and going into a hotel room with a dangerous person. No amount of screening makes you invincible, and while I have friends who've never had a violent client, I have also met people who have been raped, robbed, assaulted, or otherwise harmed on the job (sometimes by police officers). It shouldn't be that way, of course. We should have decriminalization, sex workers shouldn't have to fear reporting crimes against them, and sex workers shouldn't have to fear being robbed and raped by cops, but we're not in that world yet.
The second reason I'm starting to retire is that I feel like I have done everything I could ever possibly want to do as a sex worker. There's no room for growth, other than in quantity. I've done a fucking awesome job of going from being a high school dropout to having a successful small business that allowed me to make a middle class income so that I have free time for travel, adventure, learning, and taking on all sorts of hobbies. I don't exaggerate when I say that porn has been my dream job. I wouldn't do it differently other than make some smarter business decisions when I was younger, but on the whole, I am incredibly proud of my work. I feel like I have taken off every possible color of clothing in just about every way I could, and now I'm just repeating myself.
I came, I saw, I kicked ass, and now I'm ready for something new. I don't feel challenged by my work any more, and fully realizing that helped me make my decision to find a second career.
I have no intention of deleting any of my web sites.
I've spent 10 years building a number of awesome porn sites, this blog, and SWAAY, and I'm proud of them. Further, lots of other people have also put plenty of blood, sweat, jizz, research, and time into my web sites, and I'd hate to erase their efforts, too. And even if I did want to erase my past (which I do not), deleting my work only means that I am ensuring that I will never profit from my labor, even though images and videos of me will still be floating around the internet until civilization collapses. Unlike strippers or escorts who would never do porn because it exists forever, I enjoy that the products of my labor will exist forever and continue earning me residuals, even if it's not a lot of money. Residual income is rare in the sex industry, so I'm glad that 18-year-old Furry Girl picked a career path that came with a little retirement income. (On the official social security and payroll taxes front, as a self-employed person, it's damned near impossible to claim unemployment benefits, so while I've paid significantly more in federal taxes than your average worker, I am unable to access those funds to which I should be entitled. It's one of the many insults upon injury sex workers deal with when it comes to the US government.)
Moving on from sex work: the good
For the first time in a decade, most of the compliments directed at me have nothing to do with my appearance. This isn't to say that I think I've been "coasting on my looks" for a decade, especially since I know I'm not a major head-turner. People ignore all the invisible labor that goes into being a successful sex worker. If I shoot a particularly awesome set of photos, the praise I receive is invariably along the lines of, "You're so hot," not, "You're a hard-working photographer!" "Being sexy" is the smallest part of what goes into running your own porn site, but it's the only part that people acknowledge. (The same extends to other forms of sex work: the visible part of your work is always dwarfed by all the preparation.) As much as I stand by the fact that "being sexy" is a hard-earned job skill and that it takes smarts and ambition to be a successful sex worker, I have to admit that it's awesome to be praised regularly for my intellect or work ethic. (This isn't to say that there's something wrong with being a professional piece of ass: that's exactly the job we sign up for upon entering sex work. All humans are all "reduced" to one-dimensional beings by those with whom who we have only fleeting contact, but that fact has no moral component.)
I feel challenged. Sometimes too much! Ha. Seriously, it's awesome to have new things to do, even though some of them are tedious and annoying. While I've always had an array of interests, sex work and sexuality issues have been the focus of the last ten years of my life, and it's refreshing to give some of my other interests free reign and really see what I can do with them.
Just like my first career in porn, I've found a second career where I can make an interest into a paying job. I'm glad that both of my careers are the sort of things I could have written down on a typical high school "how to decide your career" quiz that asks, "If you had millions of dollars and didn't need to work, what would you do with your time?" That's not to say either porn or the new career is easy and always enjoyable, but both tap into my passions.
Moving on from sex work: the bad
Starting all over in building your resume, especially when you're almost 30. Ugh. While being smart, motivated, good with computers, and possessing an ability to learn new things are traits I bring to any job, the rest of my skill set doesn't transfer over. This also means I will not be making much money for a while, hence, staying a part-time sex worker as a financial bridge.
Waking up at a certain time of day. As someone who has been mostly waking up whenever I feel like it since I was 16, it's jarring to need to be somewhere precisely at a certain time. One of the biggest reasons many people choose sex work is the flexibility and ability to set your own schedule.
Working with other people who are not of my own choosing. I'm not the most enthusiastic team player. I can do it, but I am regularly examining my behavior to make sure I am doing it right. Running my own business from home for so many years has made me forget all the required social niceties we are supposed to engage in, like asking everyone how they're doing all the time, and them being required to say, "I'm good, and you?" no matter how they are actually feeling. It's so artificial, but it's apparently the lubricant that keeps society functioning. I've wondered, "Do I have a touch of Asperger's, or am I just kind of an antisocial weirdo?"
Not being out as a sex worker in all parts of my life any more. This one bothers me a lot. I'm used to being out out to just about everyone I interacted with, but I'm keeping that under wraps for now with Career B. It's not at all that I'm developed a sense of shame, but because I am the lowest-ranking member of a group, and because life is a competition, I don't want to do things right now that would prevent me from being given a shot at opportunities. (I'm also not out as poly, kinky, or pro-guns, so it's really about not courting controversy in any form.) I made the decision that I need to build up new "credit," and once people see that I am not a cliche sex worker stereotype of an untrustworthy drug addict who can't handle hard work or intellectual challenges, I can be open again. I'd rather demonstrate my competence and then surprise people later than start off by "making myself look bad" and then trying to fight an uphill battle of convincing people I'm capable, or not having a chance to try and convince them at all. It's not ideal, but it's not how I am going to live forever. For now, new folks know me as someone who ran a small web design company and has decided to switch careers.
Moving on from sex work: the random
I am not transitioning out of sex work for a man. Without trying to sound too judgmental, I have to say that it always bums me out when women leave sex work because they got some controlling, jealous boyfriend. I always swore that I would never do that (although that didn't spare me from dating some assholes who had problems with my job), and I'm glad I stayed true to that goal. (As a bisexual/pansexual woman, I will add that I would not have switched careers for a lady, either.) I do have an awesome dude in my life, but he's secure enough that he isn't reduced to fits of terrified panic at the idea that other men have seen me naked.
I am not transitioning out of sex work because I think I'm "too old." Without sounding vain, I think I'm aging just fine, and would have no problem continuing to work in the sex industry for years to come. Sure, I'm about 15 pounds heavier than I was 10 years ago, and I get occasional grey hairs, but I'm so far happy that I'm not one of those people who "hits the ugly wall" and suddenly ages 15 years in 6 months. (It pleases me that this category includes some of the "pretty girls" who bullied me when I was a youngster in school.) Also, unlike some cranky feminist sex workers, I haven't been exercising and eating healthy only because I am trying to cater to mainstream beauty standards to extract money from men, excitedly squealing upon quitting the industry about how I can't wait to get fat. I think people can be sexy at any size, but purposefully gaining weight (and increasing your risks of all sorts of health problems) just to say "fuck you, male gaze!" is as stupid as starving yourself to attract the male gaze. I'm hardly as athletic as I wish I were, but there are reasons to stay fit other than sex work. (Click see to two NSFW photos, one from the most recent photo update on my site, one from the very first.)
I'm not sure about my plans for SWAAY, but I'm not interested in trying to turn it into my career. The debate over whether to be agitators or paid mainstream NGO employees has long been going on in grassroots activist circles, and every scene has watched people lured away with the promise of a steady paycheck if they'll only tone down their rhetoric and get in line with the "proper" nonprofit establishment (ie, become less effective and more palatable to big donors). I know that a number of sex workers' rights activists are trying to turn (or have turned) their passion into careers as professional social workers with official tax-exempt charity statuses, but I don't want that.
I'm not quitting sex work so I can try to have a "real" writing career where I write puff pieces for HuffPo and ladyblogs about how I used to be a sex worker. Doesn't interest me.
I'm still maintaining my web sites, and will undoubtably still shoot new content sporadically, as well as continuing doing cam shows around my new schedule. I don't know when I'm going to stop doing anything new entirely, but I'm guessing in a couple of years. No sense in abandoning ship before the next ship is fully launched, and I'm giving myself a long timeline.
So what am I, a half-retired sex worker? And does this mean all sex workers are considered half-retired if they're starting a different career or going to school? (Because that's a sizable chunk of people in the industry.) I still think of myself as a current sex worker, but I feel like it's dishonest to say I'm a full-timer. I'm going to keep on being a supporter of sex workers' rights, and blogging/tweeting about these issues as Furry Girl, but the sexual politics world is definitely not my top priority any longer. It's a bit sad to think of that, but I am also excited about what's still to come. I have one final big project I want to do as "Furry Girl the sex work blogger chick," while I plan to announce soon.
by Furry Girl
One of the most common replies I get on Twitter, via email, and when I allowed comments on my blog has been some variant of the No True Scotsman fallacy.
In this form of faulty reasoning one's belief is rendered unfalsifiable because no matter how compelling the evidence is, one simply shifts the goalposts so that it wouldn't apply to a supposedly 'true' example. This kind of post-rationalization is a way of avoiding valid criticisms of one's argument.
Example: Angus declares that Scotsmen do not put sugar on their porridge, to which Lachlan points out that he is a Scotsman and puts sugar on his porridge. Furious, like a true Scot, Angus yells that no true Scotsman sugars his porridge. [Source]
This line of thinking is constantly deployed by the sex-positive feminist crowd who want to distance themselves from the myriad embarrassments of mainstream feminism. The tiny, powerless minority of sex-positive, pro-autonomy feminists rabidly insist that they are the one truly true feminism, and that all the other feminists are splinter sects that simply don't understand "real feminism." (As an ex-feminist myself, I'm embarrassed that I wasted untold hours of my young life having these exact same conversations. So I know them inside out, from both sides.)
Why do I hate these comments with such a passion?
"Good feminists" are a tiny minority, even though they claim they're the truest feminists
Part of the reason it's annoying to deal with this logical fallacy is because sex-positive, pro-autonomy, anti-victimhood feminists are a small minority compared to all the other feminists they instantly dismiss as "not real feminists." Large national feminist organizations and women's studies departments are not run on "good feminist" principles, they are run by the oppressive and anti-sexuality feminists who represent mainstream feminist values. "Good feminists" aren't the ones being brought in as experts by governments to write new anti-sex worker and anti-porn laws. Just because all of feminist friends you have are "good feminists," that doesn't mean "good feminists" make up a real majority, it just means you're trapped in a feedback loop of confirmation bias. I could conclude that most cats are male grey tabbies based on the sample population within my immediate view, but that doesn't mean it's true.
"Good feminists" are outliers, and the fact that they think they represent the majority feminist viewpoint just shows the degree to which they're devoted to willful ignorance of anything that conflicts with their images of themselves and their cutesy, feel-good interpretations of feminism.
"Good feminists" have no political power, nor do they seek it
With very few exceptions, "good feminists" are too busy congratulating themselves for being liberated to waste time on boring stuff like lobbying or working on public outreach. They always seem to have endless money and time to fly around the country attending sex-positivity conferences, going to Empowered Anal Sex 101 workshops at upscale sex toy shops, and dressing in designer threads for the most nauseatingly self-congratulatory event ever conceived, the Feminist Porn Awards. "Good feminism" is literally nothing more than masturbation. I used to believe that the sex-positive scene was building towards a bigger something, but after a decade of being around it, I now know that it's only about narcissism and reveling in how naughty it is to be sexually transgressive. There's no goal, no endpoint, nothing more substantive than endless recycled discussions about meanings of sexuality and gender.
I love kinky sex, masturbation, and DIY porn as much as any of them, but it makes me seethe with anger how often that scene used the word "revolutionary" to describe themselves and sell their products. There's fuck-all nothing "revolutionary" about basking in the privilege of how delightful it is to loll about playing with high end dildos and having plenty of free time for orgies and philosophical discussions about the meaning of it all. This is why I refer to sex-positivity as the "girlie version" of Crimethinc and other forms of self-indulgent drop-out culture lifestyle anarchism that operate under obtuse slogans such as "Poverty, unemployment, homelessness: if you're not having fun, you're not doing it right!" But as we all know, white and privileged people go totally apeshit for any philosophy that assures them that merely by having fun, they are changing the world. "Revolution" is a mix of the boring, stressful, dangerous, heart-breaking, difficult, and time-consuming, which is why so few people engage in it, but flock to schools of thought which allow them to have the label "revolutionary" without ever taking a risk or doing any work. Your typical "good feminist" engages in "sex-positive activism" by assuring one another that they are bold "revolutionaries" for watching punk porn or buying buttplugs.
In contrast, mainstream feminists have their shit together, complete with well-funded and powerful NGOs, huge salaries, and national respectability, and they work tirelessly to pass laws around the world that make things more dangerous for sex workers or seek to enact anti-free speech censorship policies (such as in feminist-run Iceland). Feminists who have any shred of influence invariably use it to be "bad feminists," whether it's criminalizing indoor prostitution in Rhode Island or holding tenured women's studies jobs so they can terrorize impressionable young women into feeling victimized by the world around them. Mainstream feminists know that you don't change the world with a Hitachi Magic Wand, you change it by being effective political lobbyists.
So long as "good feminists" have zero effect on either policy or popular thinking, they are irrelevant.
"Good feminists" are more interested in wasting their lives attacking people like me and apologizing for the wrongs and oppressions of mainstream feminism than they are doing anything productive
This final one is more sad than angering. But hey, it's easier to tweet No True Feminism comments at me all the time than it is to do something useful to change the world in measurable ways. Instead of going after the "bad feminists," the "good feminists" would rather pick fights with the people they claim to have the most in common with, lecturing us about how great feminism is if we can just get past a few bad apples.
Ultimately, even the "good feminists" are more concerned with their cult-like devotion to the label of "feminist" than they are with anything else. The label matters above all else. I have no use for people refuse to part from a ideology that calls transwomen monsters, that seeks to take away as much freedom of speech/press as possible, that calls sex workers "house niggers," that believes women need to be told how to think, that says women who enjoy feminine clothing are brainwashed idiots, that profits from convincing women that they are weak and powerless, that denies that women have free will, and that loves subjecting sex workers to state violence in the form of criminalization. I will never willingly group myself with oppressors, which is why I am not a feminist, even a "good feminist."
by Furry Girl
Heartbreaking, enraging blog posts from a former Gail Dines adherent who later became a sex worker. A few snippets:
"instead of questioning her assertion that survivors are basically incapable of making our own decisions with regards to our bodies, i began shaming myself. since i am turned on by MANY of the things she condemns, i determined that i had become an oppressor – the guilt was tortuous, and not in a good way."
"size was not the only aspect of my body dines had an opinion on. i wanted tattoos and to stretch my earlobes (i have two large pieces of ink now and ears stretched to 3/4″), but whenever i talked about body modifications, dines would get a look of disgust on her face and tell me that was a way of internalizing my abuse and re-victimizing myself by permitting the infliction of pain... and then, of course, the management of body hair. any maintenance of body hair, whether it be plucking my eyebrows, shaving my legs, or waxing my bush, was subject to detailed analysis, and, quickly determined to be submission to patriarchal oppression."
"when i met her, i was actively organizing for the rights of transgender students, putting together panels discussing the discriminatory practice of accepting transmen to my all-womens college, but not transwomen, and to have gender-free bathrooms in our under-construction library. however, dines argues that transgender men and women reinforce gender stereotypes and therefore reinforce patriarchy."
"dines’ perspective is that empowerment is a word for women who believe falsely that they have power when in fact they are ‘oppressing themselves.’ now, it seems to me like this was her way of keeping me from seeking out a feeling of empowerment for myself. because there was nothing empowering about working with gail. it was a constant anxiety, fearing for the lives of all womankind. "
by Furry Girl
When I was a youngster, Corey Feldman was my favorite teen idol. I'd watch Stand by Me, License to Drive, Blown Away, and other films of his while swooning. I didn't have a lot of cliche girlie traits as a tween girl, but crushing on this popular actor was one of them. Today, while reading my favorite source of entertainment news and criticism, The AV Club, I was excited to see an interview with Corey Feldman. While I was a huge fan of his in my earlier years, I've never read any sort of serious commentary by him about his life and experiences as a popular child star. His account of his experiences struck me as similar to the story of sex worker activist Jill Brenneman, who was forced into prostitution and controlled by a violent pimp in her teen years, and came back to sex work later in life on her own terms when she found that other jobs just couldn't pay the bills, or were even more demeaning and dangerous.
Well, at 3 years old, kids don’t really find their way into anything or make any type of decisions. At 3 years old, it’s called child slavery, and that’s what I endured: child slavery. So I was a slave child who got very fortunate in his early career… or I guess my parents got very fortunate, I should say. And through the success that I established as a child, I was able to somehow grasp whatever I was doing, and I had some sort of talent for it and ended up making a career out of it. But I think it was all meant to be. I believe that things happen for a reason. I think there are no coincidences in life, so obviously it was meant to be that I was there, but I wouldn’t say it was my choice. I would say that it was just the path that was laid out before me.
I had a very rough and tumultuous childhood. I often wish that I had the opportunity to make my own choices in life and choose my own path. But at the same time, I realize that things happen the way they’re supposed to. Therefore as a teenager—when it was far too late for me to go back and there was really nothing that I could do other than embrace it or hide my head in the sand for the rest of my life, because I couldn’t walk anywhere on Earth without being recognized—I finally decided to embrace it and take it as a serious business and a career. And that’s where we are today.
[...] when Rob Reiner chose me [to appear in Stand by Me], he said that when he met me and looked into my eyes, the thing that he connected with was the fact that I had such an incredible amount of pain in my eyes. He said he didn’t think that there was any other young actor my age that could’ve had the reality of that amount of pain in their eyes when they were reading the lines.
Anti-sex worker activists make much of demonizing all clients/porn viewers over their potential to (even unknowingly) watch porn or patronize a sex worker who is being coerced, trafficked, or mistreated. Getting off to imagery of suffering, or having sex with someone with an abusive pimp, even if you had no idea that was the case, is an offense on par with being a rapist.
Am I a beneficiary of child slavery because I've watched The Goonies enough times to know the movie forwards and backwards? Should I be arrested and prosecuted for owning the VHS tapes of The Lost Boys and The Burbs, wherein a kid was pressured to perform to earn money for his parents (pimps), even though I had no idea I was watching an exploitative situation? Imagine if anti-sex worker activists treated all forms of entertainment the same way they treat porn, stripping, and the hiring of escorts/prostitutes. Where are the Nick Kristof-led raids of acting classes for children, the protests against movie studios that utilize under-18 performers, and the arrests of live studio audiences at the taping of TV family sitcoms?
(Sarah Wooley wrote a piece in a similar vein earlier this year, Why I wince though Hollywood sex scenes and not porn.)
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