by Furry Girl
I had two conversations in the last week that involved talk of memoirs. I still get asked sometimes if I'm planning to write a memoir about my experiences in sex work, and my answer is no. The reason why has changed over time, however.
I seriously thought about it several years ago, read a couple of books on getting nonfiction published, and talked to people who have written books (that weren't self-published). The conclusion I made was that the effort simply wasn't worth the money. Unless you're already famous and can secure a good advance, you write a memoir for personal satisfaction, not because you want to get paid. I was told that I would be lucky to get $5000 for a first time nonfiction book, and that was maybe 5 years ago. Even with borrowing already-written material from my blog, let's say that writing new material, doing research, and revising would be a full-time project for 6 months. (And then all the time that goes into promoting a book once it's released.) $5000 for 6 months of work? Nope, my time is worth more than that And since my end game with sex work was never to write a book about it, the bragging rights didn't offset the financial loss of taking time away from work that pays decently to do work that pays poorly.
My reason for not wanting to write a memoir is also about the pointlessness of such an endeavor. Let's get real: there are already too many sex work memoirs written by intelligent white chicks in their 20s and 30s from major cities in the English-speaking world. We are not beautiful and unique snowflakes. We as a civilization already have sufficient "I was a sex worker, but here's the big twist! I am also smart!" books. There is no stone that has been left unturned. Even though yes, I think I have my own slightly different spin on things, I'm self-aware enough to know that my views are not so unique that I could possibly truly break new ground.
As someone now working in science, there's a process one goes through before starting any project. It's called a literature review, and the point is twofold: to familiarize yourself with the existing knowledge and methods in an area so you know the norm for the field, and so that you can justify that your project will be doing something new and noteworthy that someone else hasn't done before. Otherwise, what's the point of spending years on a project if someone already published what is essentially the same thing? Science (and its limited funding) forces one to do some ruthlessly honest introspection and ask, "is my clever idea actually that special?" I wish that same level of rigor was applied by people who are considering doing anything. Few sex work books pass this test in 2016.
I remember 10-15 years ago when there were only a handful of books in the genre. I devoured memoirs, anthologies, and nonfiction excitedly back in the day when it was as easy task to read all the books written by and about sex workers. Times have changed, and for the better. Sex work is no less interesting, but holy fuck, we have enough contributions from people like me. I hope that other white middle class (former) sex workers from major cities will step back and realize their stories have already been told. Ad nauseam. I hope to read more memoirs from sex workers who don't fit the cliche of "sex work memoirist." Those are the stories that I want to see told. Not mine.
by Furry Girl
I was reading some recent thoughts on sex work from Brooke Magnanti, which carried the obligatory disclaimer, "I am by any measure an incredibly privileged white, well-educated, successful ex-sex worker & as such a poster child of choicey-choiceness." Having not done much of reading of sex worker blogs in the last few months, I was especially struck by this standard opening many visible (ex) sex workers use.
I've seen these disclaimers countless times, and generally tried to avoid them on my blog. It isn't that I don't acknowledge that I have more privilege than most of world's population - I'm white, middle class, and have had a reasonably successful life, free from famine, displacement, violence, illness, and disability. However, I avoid privilege disclaimers of my opinions for two reasons: the way the left deals with "privilege" is simply as an insult to be avoided and defended against rather than an evolving dynamic to ponder, and because admissions of privilege are starkly one-sided in sex work debates, and I don't want to contribute to that.
Why is it that "our side" feels so constantly obligated to disclaim our ideas as coming from a position of privilege, but anti-sex worker activists - many of whom have much higher salaries than the sex workers they lambast as "privileged" - never say a single word about their own economic/racial/education status? When you have a debate and on one side are all these "I am privileged, but..." arguments, and on the other, no such acknowledgement ever, then it sets up an appearance that professional feminists and anti-sex work activists are the down-trodden victims. And we all know it's bullshit, but we still perpetuate it be defensively prefacing everything we think with, "I am privileged, but..." This disclaimer has the effect in lefty circles of being read as, "My opinion doesn't matter because I am actually an oppressive, obtuse, and shitty person."
Most of the sex workers I've known have been from lower and middle class backgrounds, who have gone onto to become the same or inching up the economic ladder a notch or two. We are not a very privileged or powerful group, honestly. Being a sex worker, even a "privileged" one, is less profitable than being a feminist academic. The wealthiest and most successful sex workers I know of are ones who own homes. Not 6 bedroom palaces on the water with yachts in front and a collection of designer furniture and appliances inside, but basic middle class homes. Think about that - you are held up as an icon of economic eliteness and ruthless capitalism because you can afford the things that other middle class adults in your country can also afford.
To me, there's actually nothing more emblematic of the concept of privilege than being a professional feminist - whether an academic position or working for an organization that campaigns against sex workers. I can't imagine a better job than to get paid a large salary with benefits to read and think about the things that interest you, and then to tell others your opinions. I do that every day, but for me it's a hobby, it's not a high-paying career with tenure. Which is why it makes my blood boil that professional feminists - who, again, have a job which is easier and pays a lot more than just about any sex worker makes - are the ones droning on about how people like me are "privileged," and "not representative." (As though there even is such a thing as "representative" for sex work. Sex workers are not a monolith, spanning all cultures, all races, all social strata, all sizes, all genders. Sex work is perhaps the most diverse occupation, so any one is "not representative.")
Is there a better way to handle these things than our current method of prefacing everything we say with, "I admit I am privileged, but..."? I don't know. I'm in favor of honest discussions of the ways privilege affect our lives, but think the left botches this issue by invariably turning it into a shouting match of accusations and insults. I do hope we're aware of how we're tacitly creating this absurd framing that it's sex workers and sex workers' rights advocates who are the ones in a position of privilege, whereas moneyed and powerful feminist academics, lobbying organizations, and celebrities are representatives of the weak and voiceless.
It's an upside-down world when we are expected to apologize constantly for our "privilege" when we advocate against criminalization policies that enable violence, rape, and abuse - policies which disproportionately impact the least privileged sex workers.
by Furry Girl
"One of the more remarkable results of the rise of industrial capitalism was that, for the first time in human history, the poorest classes of people gained access to luxury goods. Another remarkable result was that wealthier people who claimed to be allies of the poor told them this was bad for them. Recent developments in American popular music demonstrate that this paradox lives on. Last Sunday night, Macklemore and Lorde, artists who have built their careers upon songs attacking the desire for luxuries among African-Americans, received the highest commendations from the music establishment in the form of multiple Grammy awards. Their songs continue a long tradition, rooted in progressivism, of protests against the pleasures of the poor."
by Furry Girl
"If you make a thousand dollars a week, every week, you’re still only making around $50,000. This is by no means money to sneeze at; it’s more than my mother ever made, and she had a Master’s degree. But consider that according to Wikipedia, in 2006 the average weekly wage in Manhattan was $1,453. A thousand dollars a week is good sex worker money. It feels rich to me and always will. But in New York City, it doesn’t even make you average. You will be able to pay your bills. You can save. You might even be able to afford health insurance next year. You will not be able to go on shopping sprees at Nordstrom’s.
Writing checks to my landlord and Time Warner certainly feels luxurious to me, but it’s not … seductive. It’s just baseline what I should be able to do with a fucking job."
-- Calico Lane in The Myth of Seductive Money on misscalico.com
The comment I left:
I have never made the sums of money everyone assumes from the insta-rich reputation of online porn. I started in 2002, not 1996, so the bubble for my part of the industry had already burst by the time I was 18. I was happy to make a lower middle class income at a job I love (because I’m a genuine pervert), but as you said, a grand a week doesn’t add up to an income that hooks you like heroin. I went on a date once with a guy who assumed I must make “a few hundred thousand” a year. I burst out laughing. My best weeks were when I earned $2000, but then I also had plenty of $500 weeks, too. I know so many other sex workers who are also approximately lower-middle class, but no one ever thinks of us when drawing up the dichotomy that the only two ways to be a whore are if you’re a destitute, abused street-based worker selling $10 blowjobs for crack, or an elite escort who accompanies celebrities and bankers on trips to Dubai. Most sex workers seem like we’re somewhere on the spectrum of working-to-middle class.
The punchline is how often professional feminists and other such types (who often quietly came from wealthy families themselves) and who make more money than I ever did in porn accuse me and sex workers like me of being some sort of privileged elite who, unlike “real” women, don’t “really” work. Shit, I wish!
by Furry Girl
Anti-sex work activists endlessly harp on the specter of the multi-billion dollar sex industry. They never want to talk about how individual sex workers only make fairly modest incomes, and for generally short periods of time. It's easier to set up all of us sinners as obscenely wealthy, because it makes it easier for average people to resent us. This contributes to a culture of disrespect for sex workers where the public thinks we're not only lazy and gauche, we also get a 6-figure check every time we disrobe. It's a tactic of othering sex workers to a country that has been struggling a lot financially since the recession. And it's a very successful one.
When I was making the opposition tracker on SWAAY.org, I thought about trying to create a comprehensive list of how much profit there is to be made in anti-sex worker activism. As sex workers, we're constantly having our campaigns dismissed on the grounds that everything we say must be a lie because we have a financial stake in sex work. It drives me crazy that it's a one-sized argument, as though only sex workers profit from sex work. Your average sex worker makes substantially less than an anti-sex worker academic or nonprofit, so who really has a "financial incentive" to say what they say?
Some Twitter exchanges made me realize I should post the data I already collected, and I decided to update the tax returns for some popular foundations that oppose sex workers rights. Catherine MacKinnon's base salary statement was obtained a couple of years ago with a FOIA request against her employer, the University of Michigan, a state-funded university. (They have to disclose if you ask, google for "FOIA template" for the format.) The other tax returns are from 501(c)3 nonprofits, which make them public information.
Catherine MacKinnon's base salary (not including bonuses, insurance, speaking engagements, writing, and tours) was $273,000 for 9 months of work in 2009 (page 386, huge file) and $280,000 for 9 months of work in 2010 (page 394, huge file).
The biggest winner is, of course, the Hunt Alternatives Fund, which took in a whopping $12,976,136 in 2012. A 20-hour a week job at this foundation paid one "advisor" $101,562 in salary and benefits! Under "direct charitable activities," HAF say they spent $1,409,171 "eradicating the demand for purchased sex." While Swanee Hunt and family were the top donors, this foundation also received an even one million dollars from Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Shared Hope International (which campaigns against prostitution among other activities), which raked in $2,253,367 in 2011.
The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women raked in $1,161,729 in 2012.
Fireproof Ministries, which runs XXXChurch, raked in $610,719 in 2011. $102,350 of this went directly into the pocket of Craig Gross in the form of a salary. (I've never netted that much as a pornographer! I should have gotten into running anti-porn sites.)
Shelley Lubben's Pink Cross Foundation raked in $137,183 in 2012. Shelley officially draws a modest $57,640 in salary and compensation.
Melissa Farley (who has glowingly referred to sex workers as "house niggers") heads a group called Prostitution Research and Education, which raked in a mere $81,958 in 2012.
Cite these figures when you're talking to people who think that our side is the only one with something financial to gain. I wish I knew more about individual anti-sex worker activists. I still want to flesh out the anti-sex worker activist tracker. Let me know if you have links to add.
by Furry Girl
"Famous" former sex worker Melissa Petro has thrust herself back into the media again this week, and seeing her re-tell her tale of woe with increasing levels of dramatic self-pity hits a nerve for me. It also reminded me of the serious need for a project that I've been meaning to announce as I transition out of sex work myself.
I must preface this post by declaring that self-pity is utterly repugnant to me, in part because it's the chief byproduct of white, over-educated, first world ennui, and in part because it's about denying that one has agency in their lives. The amount of options and privileges one has is irritatingly proportional to the amount of time one spends whining about one's life. I was volunteering in rural West Africa last summer, interacting with people who didn't have the greatest options, but I recall not one iota of self-pity from any of them. Self-pity disgusts me, which is why I recoil so strongly when I see it.
For those of you who don't remember Melissa Petro - and you're in the vast majority of Americans, since she's not actually all that famous - she was a public school teacher in New York City who was fired for coming out as a former sex worker. She wrote a piece in The Huffington Post (one of the most popular web sites online) about her experiences as a prostitute (her choice of term) during grad school, and then reacted in exasperated shock that there are people who don't want an ex-prostitute working with children. Petro was briefly a local scandal as her story spun out of her control in tabloids, and "hooker teacher" headlines appeared in gossip rags that published photos of her without her permission. The situation sucked, it was unfair, and being a (former) sex worker shouldn't mean that can't be trusted to be around kids. On this we can all agree.
Since her little scandal in three years ago, Petro has been on a pity tour of writing essays for seemingly any web site that will publish her, each iteration of her story gets more and more sad and self-pitying, all the while reinforcing The Big Lie told by visible ex sex workers like herself: that sex work is something from which one can never move on. This lie reinforces so many stigmas, stokes the fires of so much shame and uncertainty for sex workers thinking about leaving the industry, and sends this horrible, cruel, completely inaccurate message to current sex workers: you can never escape a naughty past, you are doomed! Doomed for life! Forever tainted and shunned!
That's fucking bullshit.
I am so sick of the Petro and others like her acting like their choice to wallow publicly in self-pity is the only option for former sex workers. Petro is just an upscale, liberal version of anti-porn ex-porn star Shelley Lubben, but rather than overtly attack the sex industry and campaign against it, Petro is far more insidious. She isn't calling for the end of the sex industry, or for further criminalization of sex workers. She's "one of the good guys." She just wants sex workers to know that there's no hope of ever living a normal life again, and that it will cause your life to spiral out of control and destroy your soul. And for this, Petro is a hero to white, feminist, educated (former) sex workers who also plan to stay firmly rooted in their pasts.
I refuse to give Melissa Petro the pity she craves. After all, she was the one who purposefully sought out attention from the press, and did so under her legal name. As much as I deeply, angrily disagree with social stigmas against having done sex work, the fact remains that we live in a world where they exist. If you work with kids (and there are doubtless many teachers out there with sex work pasts), and you value keeping that job, you don't run to the media with your story about being proud of having been a law-breaking, cash-for-sex prostitute. Is this Madonna/whore dynamic fair? Not at all, but sometimes, it's not about shame, it's about discretion.
Call me wacky, but if I desperately wanted to escape the fate of being known as a former sex worker, I'd probably stop writing articles about how I used to be a sex worker for major media outlets.
So, with the announcement of disgraced prostitute-patronising politician Elliot Spitzer getting back into politics, Petro has flagged down the media again and reminded them that she exists. She published a piece this week about how unfair it is that "we" "allow" men to move on with their lives after a sex scandal, but that women "like her" aren't "allowed" to move on. Allowed by who? It's a laughable premise. Petro has spent three years hollering and waving her arms wildly at anyone who will listen so she can tell them that while she is a former sex worker, she doesn't want to be thought of as a former sex worker. Those are not the actions of someone who's trying to turn a new leaf.
The reason Spitzer is successfully moving on from his past is because he's moving on from his past. He hasn't spent several years penning sob-story op-eds about how sad he is that he was caught being a client of an escort service. Spitzer did what people do when they actually want to move forward in their lives, and that's to move forward. It's not sexist oppression, it's not the patriarchy, it's not even whorephobia. Petro actively refuses to move on with her life, and actively tries to become better-known as a "famous" former sex worker, and then blames society, sexism, and sex work for the fact that she apparently has no life skills other than self-pity and seeking out media attention. I've followed her story from the sidelines, and even I don't think I would recognize her if I had a casual interaction with her. She's not so famous that she has no choice but to not move on, she doesn't have so recognizable a face that she can't walk down the street without attracting throngs of attention. (As someone who has spent 10 years making a living in porn precisely by getting my photos seen by as many people as possible, I hardly ever get recognized in public.)
At the end of the day, Melissa Petro is only person who thinks that Melissa Petro will never be able to move on from her titillating past. And that's her problem, it's certainly not emblematic of the experiences of all sex workers.
There are a ton of sex workers out there, and the vast, vast majority bow out quietly, without press releases or book deals. Sex work is a rather transient occupation, one that a person may do during college, or during a period of unemployment, or until they age out of their part of the industry. Most people don't stay in it for life, yet somehow, we forget that sex workers don't die or disappear upon retirement, they move on. You interact with retired sex workers every day of your life, you just don't know it because they choose to not make it the focus of everything they do for the rest of their lives. Despite the big lie pushed by former sex workers like Petro, you're not actually branded with "whore" on your forehead as you collect a final paycheck and clock out for the last time. (The exceptions are sex workers with criminal convictions, of course. Those really do stay with you life and hurt your abilities to get jobs and housing. But thankfully, most sex workers come out without any baggage that comes up in a credit report or search of court records.)
What I'm annoyed with is not just Petro's latest cries for attention, but the fact that within sex worker activisty and blogging circles, the only visible former sex workers are white, educated, middle/upperclass women who are now trying to make careers out of talking about how they used to be sex workers. They may not want to be held as representative former sex workers, but they're all we have, so they become the de facto standard.
It's a sad catch-22: the only visible former sex workers are people who want to be known for being former sex workers. If you're an isolated sex worker without a lot of friends or community support, you don't have anyone to talk to about the process of leaving the sex industry for something else. There are no good role models for retiring sex workers who don't want to be memoirists, naughty media personalities, or work for sex work-related NGOs. Which means there are no easy-to-find role models for the 99.999% of sex workers who will one day start a truly new chapter in their lives. Sure, if you want to write the 62,958th book about how you used to be a stripper in college, there are tons of people to look up to. I regularly see former sex worker-led workshops advertised to teach you how you can fulfill your dreams of writing about your experiences as a sex worker, but what if you don't want a book deal? (Or, what do you do when the whopping $3000 you got for that precious book deal is all gone?) What if you don't want to be famous as a former sex worker? Where are the people for you to turn to? Where's your support group and success stories?
And that's exactly the gaping void I want to address with the final project I want to do as a part of the sex workers' rights movement, and as I transition out of the industry myself. I want to create a resource for people leaving sex work for a life that isn't all about how they used to be a sex worker. Stay tuned!
by Furry Girl
Yesterday, I went out to lunch with one of my nerdy friends from my new "straight life." (He's the only person in that sphere who knows that I've been working in porn for the last decade, a "big reveal" that I decided to allow to organically manifest itself in conversation as though it were nothing bizarre or noteworthy.) On our break, we lamented how frustrating it is to have to work with people you can't stand, or to make smalltalk about the weather because that's considered polite.
"I went to a big university, so if I didn't like someone, I'd never have to interact with them again. I could completely choose who was in my social circle."
"I've spent a decade running my own business, so I haven't been forced to spend time with people I don't like. I can jettison anyone, and it didn't matter to my bottom line. Now, I'm making an effort to not rock the boat because I'm the lowest person on the ladder and I need the good reference for later."
"It's so frustrating..."
"...now that we have to have to completely relearn our social skills."
We laughed, but it's true. One of the things I've been dealing with as I've been moving out of the sex industry is a longing for the shocking degree of freedom one has as a sex worker. Even if you're not fully running your own business the way I have been, sex workers generally have the ability to reject clients, to move to another strip club, find a new escort service, work for a different studio, and overall, set a much greater number of boundaries than your average worker. While that statement seems bizarre - how can you have "boundaries" if a stranger can see your naked body or is even having sex with you? - boundaries come in more forms than ones based on chastity.
With the vast, vast majority of jobs, a worker has very little control over their working environment, boss, coworkers, and upward mobility potential. A typical waitress doesn't show up to shifts only on days she feels like working, bouncing between various restaurants depending on which she prefers at the moment, the way a stripper might. A nurse knows he'll never be able to start his own hospital and declare himself its chief of surgery, unlike a porn star who works hard and invests his money in starting his own production company. For all the endless criticism lobbed at the sex industry for being a measure of last resort and misery, there's a huge and unrecognized amount of freedom in it, both freedom of association and the ability for your hard work to propel you upwards. The sex industry is the true "American dream," in that tenacity, hard work, and creativity can take a person (usually with no formal training and little startup capital) from poverty to the middle class more easily than any other industry.
One of the things I've been thinking about more lately is the issue of "association privilege," both how I've been lucky to have it as a sex worker, and how it remains perhaps the most invisible privilege. When framed in that way, it makes obvious a particularly strong correlation between the shrill lefty feminists who rail endlessly about how everyone is too "privileged," yet themselves possessing the privilege to choose their work environment, bosses/editors, and business/activist contacts. (I've long maintained that nothing is more indicative of privilege than spending all day on the internet picking fights with strangers about how privileged they are.) If someone wants to refuse to associate with anyone who isn't also a socialist feminist wannabe-academic that adorns their virtual spaces with Audre Lorde quotes and Foucault references, they can easily live in such a bubble. There are plenty of such bores in neighboring regions of the blogosphere. (Where all of these people make money remains a mystery. While I know that two big names in the sexy feminist scene have secret rich male partners/husbands who bankroll their lifestyles of being internet pesonas, I don't know how the others do it. NGO jobs? Sporadic paid writing gigs? Trust funds? Secret sex work?)
It all reminds me of a favorite section from a piece in The Atlantic a while back, which perfectly sums up the completely un-checked privilege that runs rampant among those who have declared themselves the enforcers of privilege-checking.
According to [UC Berkeley sociologist Neil] Gilbert, the debate over the value of women’s work has been framed by those with a too-rosy view of employment,
mainly because the vast majority of those who publicly talk, think, and write about questions of gender equality, motherhood, and work in modern society are people who talk, think, and write for a living. And they tend to associate with other people who, like themselves, do not have “real” jobs—professors, journalists, authors, artists, politicos, pundits, foundation program officers, think-tank scholars, and media personalities.
Many of them can set their own hours, choose their own workspace, get paid for thinking about issues that interest them, and, as a bonus, get to feel, by virtue of their career, important in the world. The professor admits that his own job in “university teaching is by and large divorced from the normal discipline of everyday life in the marketplace. It bears only the faintest resemblance to most work in the real world.” In other words, for the “occupational elite” (as Gilbert calls this group), unlike for most people, going to work is not a drag.
As an impolitic creature by nature (or hateful cunt, depending on who you ask), I've greatly enjoyed being in the "occupational elite" myself. As I shed this awesome privilege in order to start over, I wonder how many people in the world I'm leaving - both sex workers and/or feminists - realize the degree to which they hold this significant privilege themselves. Enjoy it while it lasts, because you'll miss it like crazy when you're making obligatory workplace smalltalk with people with whom you have little in common.
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
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
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."
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New to my blog? Some favorite posts
- "You have no right to dislike feminism after all it's done for you!"
- "You misrepresent true feminism by focusing on the bad feminists. They're not real feminists anyway!"
- An argument for more sex workers to be out?
- Degrading, violent desires
- Do you have what it takes to be an empowered sex worker?
- Feminism is the shitty relationship you had in your early 20s
- Feminist porn isn't a branch of sex workers' rights, it's an obstacle
- How are we branding sex workers rights in the US? (Let's focus more on *worker*, less on *sex*!)
- How to do your homework on trafficking, "rescue", and the affected communities
- Let's stop pretending that "objectification" is a thing that exists
- Musings on ethical porn and the red herrings of "feminist porn" and "violent porn"
- My call for a "working" class uprising against inaccessible discourse and the over-representation of dabblers
- Sex trafficking is the new crack: manufactured "epidemics" as political tools
- The common logical fallacies deployed by anti-sex worker activists
- Things I've gained from being a sex worker: an anti-paternalistic perspective
- Vigilantism and 'crushing bastards': in praise of anger, hatred, and taking joy in the smiting of one's enemies
- Want to play BINGO with the antis?
- Watch out for psuedoscience: my long-time nemeses of concern trolling and "teaching the controversy"
- What do I mean when I say "sex worker"? Why I'm against an overly-broad definition
- Why I call them "anti-sex worker" rather than "anti-porn" or "anti-prostitution," and why you should too
Vaguely similar blogs
- Amanda Brooks
- Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers
- Belle de Jour
- Born Whore
- Bound, Not Gagged
- Dan Savage on SLOG
- Danny Wylde
- Jiz Lee
- Laura Agustín
- Lux Nightmare [2006-2007]
- Maggie McNeill
- Our Porn, Ourselves
- Sequoia Redd
- Serpent Libertine
- Sexonomics by Brooke Magnanti
- Shit They Say to Sex Workers
- Stuff Sex Workers Eat
- Women Against Feminism