by Furry Girl

08.02.15

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

07.28.14

There's a wonderful new photo project at WomenAgainstFeminism.Tumblr.com that you must read.  It shows the huge political diversity of women who are standing up against feminism.  (See, you guys!  It's not just a few random whores and Sarah Palin types.)  I love this Tumblr, and I wish I'd thought of it.  Here's my contribution:

againstfeminism





by Furry Girl

11.23.13

"The problem is that female competition and aggression don't always look like the male versions...

Females tend to threaten each other with social isolation rather than violence.  Among social animals, being cast out of the group can mean death, or very few chances to mate.  Among humans, perhaps the most social animals we know, the 'mean girls' phenomenon is a perfect example of low energy competition.  Nobody is beaten, but we know for sure who has lost the battle."

-- Annalee Newitz  in Evolution is steered by aggressive competition between females on io9.com





by Furry Girl

09.20.13

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

07.24.13

"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

04.04.13

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.

busad

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

03.11.13

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.)

timberlakeReally?  I oppose feminist porn because I know how to treat a lady right.

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

02.20.13

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

02.13.13

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. "

Part 1.
Part 2.
Part 3.

Via Dr Brooke Magnanti on Twitter, whose wonderful blog you should already be reading.





by Furry Girl

03.27.12





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