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Grey Areas: Sad, Mopey Post Election Edition

Grey Areas took the week off last week, but we’re back! Back with more advice!

I am a trans woman in a very conservative area. The only support system I really have is the local LGb(t?) support group that meets every so often. And, well, it’s certainly a better way to spend my Sundays than the evangelical church I used to go to! But still, I get frustrated when cis people try to cissplain to me basic things about gender and transness that I already know, or ignore repeated requests to call me a “trans woman” rather than a “male-to-female transsexual”, or tell me that they “understand” what it must be like for me because this one time in school somebody called them a member of the opposite sex and that made them cry, or whatever. And, uhh, this kind of happens a lot, at this place! And it’s frustrating me. I don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me, and I don’t want to disrupt the positive things this group does, but, uhh, I would kind of like to be respected and listened to a little more. How can I request this without causing a huge dramasplosion and/or getting kicked out of the group?

You may not be able to. Really and truly, it may be out of your hands. Some queer people have ideas in their heads about you that you have no control over, and their own sense of cis supremacy will cause conflict when you attempt to assert yourself. Some people are so damn focused on their own oppression that they cannot see the ways that they oppress others. But the fact of the matter is, they are probably all pretty touchy about the words people use to describe them, so not listening to you when you articulate your wishes is unacceptable. Discuss this with them. Discuss the things that are making you uncomfortable, or aren’t allowing you to enjoy this queer space. That place is just as much yours as it is theirs, and if anyone leaves, it should be them.

I recently poked around on various pro-porn and pro-sex worker blogs and websites and heard some interesting arguments from people in the industry about the protection of these workers’ rights. At this point I fully understand the argument behind legalizing prostitution (that women/men are especially vulnerable in that particular industry and need to be able to call on legal protection without fear of arrest), but I’m having trouble understanding the idea that work in pornography or prostitution should be respected as a valuable service to the people. The way I see it, pornography has hurt a lot of its users, even on just a psychological level, in terms of creating a false image of how sex is/should be. Furthermore, a lot of (but not all) pornography depicts violence against women for the purpose of turning people on, which really gives me the heeby-jeebies. What’s your take on the arguments these women make for the legitimacy of their work? Even after spending an hour or two cruising their writings, I’m unclear on their reasoning, and while I’m willing to do the best I can to keep my eyes open to any possibilities that keep women safe and liberated, I’m not sure if I can make the leap to a pro- stance on the pornography debate.

My answer to this question is going to be informed by the fact that I’ve seen very little straight pornography, but I think you have a good case against pornography. The industry tends to produce a high volume of pornography that is degrading to women, reinforces racial stereotypes, or fetishizes pedophilia or humiliation. This is why, for instance, you have a woman in her 20′s wearing pigtails and a schoolgirl outfit or a dude humping another dude’s face until said dude is crying. It makes these videos because there is a market for them, because people tend to bring all of the weird, fucked up things they aren’t supposed to like to their porn consumption habits, and that makes porn inherently problematic.

But when you start drawing lines in the sand about what is acceptable to be turned on by, you start erasing people. You start slut-shaming them, and pretending like their personal fantasies are the only thing keeping the Patriarchy going. And it is easy to do. It is easy to concern troll someone about their turn-ons and try to make them feel ashamed of them. It isn’t easy to be open and honest about what turns you on.

On to prostitution. Prostitution should be legal because  making it illegal prevents sex workers from seeking legal protection. Prostitution isn’t illegal to protect women, it is illegal to control them. Telling a person they can’t rent out their body for money is another way to have control over them, because the Patriarchy has a vested interest in controlling female sexuality. As it stands, prostitution is highly problematic because we live in a society where men aren’t expected to respect women’s bodies, and making it illegal forces it into the darkest, least safe parts of any city.

Prostitution is not something we have the power to eradicate, without all of us giving up large amounts of personal freedom. Nothing is gained by digging in our heels and being intractable about that fact. Once we accept that prostitution will occur and we cannot stop it from happening, our task should be to advocate for the rights of sex workers.

What do you think, Beatdown? Keep in mind that because this is a topic of great contention that the comment section will be heavily moderated. Speak your mind, but be respectful to each other.

If you would like to have your question answered, drop a message in my ask box.

69 Comments

  1. Satchel wrote:

    Some people are so damn focused on their own oppression that they cannot see the ways that they oppress others.

    Word!

    Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 8:46 pm | Permalink
  2. Brigitte wrote:

    It’s pretty amazing that the second writer can “fully understand the argument behind legalizing prostitution… after only “spending an hour or two cruising their writings.” Must be a lot smarter than I am. I’m surprised s/he bothered to ask a question.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Permalink
  3. Andy wrote:

    While it may not be possible to eradicate prostitution it would be nice to see my country (the U.S.) adopt the Swedish/Nordic model, which criminalizes the act of buying sex rather than selling it. It may or may not reduce the incidence of prostitution (I’ve been unable to find trustworthy statistics) but at least it lays the blame where it belongs.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 9:37 pm | Permalink
  4. Jenny North wrote:

    I agree that there a lot of issues inherent to the porn industry and I think it’s important to point out how deciding what’s sexually “appropriate” so often leads to slut-shaming, but somehow I feel like this discussion doesn’t really address the legitimacy of sex workers’ occupation and their rights, which seems to be the question of your advice-seeker. I mean, it’s legitimate work in the sense that it’s WORK, right? And pretty demanding, risky work, to boot. Shouldn’t workers in the porn industry be entitled to seek legal protection as well? (I’m not suggesting that you don’t believe this Garland, but I do think there’s something missing from this discussion that makes it sound as if sex workers who are prostitutes are entitled to legal assistance without prosecution, whereas those who work in porn, not so much. Can you talk about this a bit more? I feel like there should be a distinction between 1) yes, porn can be creepy! should something/can something be done about it? and 2) the legitimacy and rights of those who work in porn. You know?

    Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Permalink
  5. mulierosity wrote:

    Savage Love on Tuesdays and Grey Areas on Thursdays. Life is good.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 10:33 pm | Permalink
  6. Sooz wrote:

    Damn, Gray, you have given the best pro-legalising prostitution I’ve ever heard!

    And thank you for the thing on problematic porn. Some of us legit just can’t help what turns our cranks. :(

    (Also v. insightful answer on that first one. Basically, you are a good advice columnist.)

    Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Permalink
  7. For the lady who wrote the first letter, I’d suggest adding in some online trans-oriented socialization (livejournal, of all places, has some very active & sometimes useful groups) if she hasn’t already & has any desire to do so; it certainly helped me transition in a pretty-small town.

    And perhaps her IRL acquaintances would appreciate an analogy? Like, perhaps they have a relative or somesuch who insists on calling them a homosexual, rather than gay or lesbian or queer or whatever it is they prefer? And they know how while that is not exactly a slur or anything, it’s kinda…weird and technical, for talking about someone you know, who doesn’t describe themselves with such officious terms? And maybe those same relatives, or someone else, has been all ‘oh, I *get* what it must be like for you to be a homosexual; I had a same-gender crush for a week once in middle school, and was totally confused and grossed out by myself!’ IME, anyone in a GLBT support group, or any conversation ever, will have Things To Say about people who are trying to be nice, yet are very hapless and kind of rude. Maybe they’ll get it. Or maybe not.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 12:41 am | Permalink
  8. CJP wrote:

    I agree with your argument about why sex work should be legalized, and that by the same logic sex workers should receive legal protection. I would make an analogy to other kinds of work that are dangerous and potentially degrading to the workers who perform them and have harmful consequences to the wider world. For instance, the mining of the Alberta tar sands is an unmitigated social and environmental disaster. That one project alone contributes appreciably to global warming, destroys vast areas of natural habitat, degrades physical and emotional health of vulnerable First Nations communities, all in the extraction of a resource that will run out in the medium term. It is an unmitigated evil and it should stop tomorrow. But should the workers who labour in that project have legal protections, including unions, to advocate their interests? Yes, they should. Because it’s not the workers who control whether and how this work is being done; it’s corporations, and the governments that collaborate with them. And, whenever people do work that others profit, they deserve protection from having their bodies and souls used up by that process. So, too, with sex work, including porn production, which is a much more multivalent and morally complex business than oil extraction.

    However, I think you have taken up a very problematic position by writing as if porn is something that passively reflects the desires people bring to it, desires that they would have anyway in the absence of porn. Following on Foucault’s analysis of how sexuality is something constructed through power relations, I think that people actively shape their desires through the practices that are made socially available to them. Jerking off, coming, feeling pleasure while watching scenes of the violence and degradation of women is something that one can learn to enjoy, in the same way that one can learn to enjoy other initially off-putting activities like drinking beer or playing football. And although not all porn eroticizes misogyny, a lot of it does, some of it viciously so.

    This is a complex issue. I do agree that the economy of shame that runs through our society needs to be radically uprooted. But I don’t think that desire is beyond social criticism just because it’s desire. There are, or there need to be, non-shaming ways to critique desires and the power dynamics they embody.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 12:51 am | Permalink
  9. Oh, and the best explanation I’ve ever seen for why prostitution can ever be a positive service was written by a sex worker who I would totally cite, if I had even the vaguest memory of who she was or where I read this. But it went something like this:

    People who pay for sex sometimes do so because they would really like to have sex, and the more socially acceptable ways of finding a partner are not working for them. If that’s because they’re a total creepy douchebag, or they just want to have financial power over the people they fuck, then fuck them. But when they’re nice enough humans who have a hard time finding partners because they are too old, or disabled, or somesuch, and they treat the prostitutes they hire with respect and niceness, then yeah, that can be a better thing than leaving that person cut-off from any kind of sexual contact with another human.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 1:01 am | Permalink
  10. NEAL wrote:

    I’m afraid I disagree on the point of pro-legalization. I’d say, and please correct me if I am wrong, that when one enters the field of prostitution it is because of an incentive, much like many of our actions. In the current case, prostitution is an illegal and dangerous activity, which means that the person considering prostitution has to have a larger incentive to enter the field. What making prostitution legal would do is make it a more viable career path, and what this would do is encourage less people to go to school and make an honest living because they now have protection and legality on their side. You would be effectively subsidizing lazy people, who dont want to get a job and would rather be a cess pool of disease, with government protection. Maybe that money would be better used in schools?

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 2:14 am | Permalink
  11. Lisa wrote:

    “As it stands, prostitution is highly problematic because we live in a society where men aren’t expected to respect women’s bodies”

    If men respected womens bodies they wouldn’t buy them, would they? A basic lowest standard of respect should be consent.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 2:42 am | Permalink
  12. sortedinnit wrote:

    “Prostitution is not something we have the power to eradicate, without all of us giving up large amounts of personal freedom.”

    Says who?

    And even if that is the case (and I don’t accept that it is), then we may as well also legalise the following things which are also damaging to individuals and society but likely to always be with us:

    Child Abuse
    Murder
    Rape

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 6:55 am | Permalink
  13. DB wrote:

    I consider myself a feminist, I’ve been raped, I was an abused child, and I almost never watch porn. But things get really freaky in my head. The weird thing is that I’m bi, so at least half (probably more) of my fantasies involve women. Some of my favorites involve unequal power and someone pushing me into doing things I say I don’t want to do. The difference between reality and fantasy is that with fantasy, you know it’s not real. On the rare occasion when I do watch porn (oddly enough, usually gay porn), I assume that everyone’s consenting, so I don’t feel guilty about enjoying it (even when they’re doing things that if real would horrify me). I didn’t even start watching porn until I was in my 30s, and I don’t watch much, so I don’t think porn’s responsible for creating my desires. Some might say that I’m broken (because of the things that have happened to me), but I don’t feel broken (not sexually anyway). And I get really angry when people say it’s not okay for me to be turned on by certain things. I have never intentionally hurt anyone or done anything my partners haven’t consented to. And I wouldn’t want to. Likewise, I don’t want anyone to have control over my body, not even the well meaning (When I pretend otherwise, I still feel in control of myself because I’m consenting).

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 7:07 am | Permalink
  14. Flavia wrote:

    I see consensual sex work at the same level of importance as psychotherapy. I am aware that this is a controversial opinion but sex work is, or at least can potentially be, as important in health related matters as a session with a psychotherapist. The problem is that one is sanctioned by legal and social frameworks but the other is not. However, I believe a healthy expression of one’s sexuality is fundamental for human development. A sex worker can aid in that in a controlled and professional environment. Not everyone can have a partner. Not everyone is equipped with the means necessary to develop intimate relationships (I am not talking about financial means, but also the interpersonal skills necessary to make it happen). Others might want to have sex without the added “hassle” of a relationship. There are many more reasons but they would be too long to elaborate in a single comment.

    Then in terms of porn, there is this powerful effect that media representations have on our psyche. Seeing our fantasies enacted validates them as “normal” and again, as long as these acts are consensual and within the law (i.e. no underage, non consensual, etc), I believe we cannot (and should not) legislate on what is acceptable and what is not. Also, the majority (if not all) of those advocating for the elimination of porn do not offer any alternatives. I would understand (and get behind) with the promotion of alternative models of pornography (i.e. non heternormative, non alienating, promoting diversity, etc.), but that’s not what the current mainstream discourse against porn advocates. It is an all or nothing proposal and honestly, it is neither realistic nor “healthy”.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 7:56 am | Permalink
  15. Molly Ren wrote:

    “The way I see it, pornography has hurt a lot of its users, even on just a psychological level, in terms of creating a false image of how sex is/should be. Furthermore, a lot of (but not all) pornography depicts violence against women for the purpose of turning people on, which really gives me the heeby-jeebies.”

    One of my favorite pro-porn slogans is “Don’t be ‘anti-porn’, be ‘anti-BAD porn’”. I believe that there are pornographers out there who are working for themselves, are dedicated to making porn that educates/challenges assumptions, and who actually love what they do (Jiz Lee and Buck Angel come to mind). Buying and supporting porn that is made responsibly, though, takes research–there is a hell of a lot of crap out there.

    Also, some people *do* get off on sadism. Some people even WANT to be treated sadistically in a consensual sexual situation. It’s called BDSM.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 8:45 am | Permalink
  16. elizabeth_d wrote:

    “I’m having trouble understanding the idea that work in pornography or prostitution should be respected as a valuable service to the people. The way I see it, pornography has hurt a lot of its users, even on just a psychological level, in terms of creating a false image of how sex is/should be. Furthermore, a lot of (but not all) pornography depicts violence against women for the purpose of turning people on, which really gives me the heeby-jeebies.”

    Sure, a lot of porn does that. The thing is, *all* media does that. Plenty of non-porn media glorifies violence. Plenty of non-porn media gives people unrealistic ideas about how the world works or what gender roles should be. That’s not a reason to make it illegal.

    I’m also confused as to why she thinks other people have the responsibility to explain to *her* why their work is “legitimate,” whatever the hell that means.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 9:57 am | Permalink
  17. CJP wrote:

    “One of my favorite pro-porn slogans is “Don’t be ‘anti-porn’, be ‘anti-BAD porn’”.

    I definitely agree. We can treat porn like any other industry. Most of our food, for instance, is grown in an environmentally damaging and unsustainable way, but it doesn’t have to be; it is possible to grow organically and sustainably

    Or a more direct analogy: cable TV. Most of it is shallow crap with damaging social consequences, innocuous enough if you are savvy enough to take it with a grain of salt, but bad because most people do take it at face value and buy into the distorted and unrealistic lifestyle expectations that it cultivates. Some of it is really vile. But some of it is brilliant art that helps us reflect on our lives.

    “Also, some people *do* get off on sadism. Some people even WANT to be treated sadistically in a consensual sexual situation. It’s called BDSM.”

    Definitely. I would think there a world of difference between a site like Kink.com, which makes it clear before and after the videos that consent has been obtained, that the SM is roleplay and that the models are enjoying themselves, that breaks the fourth wall and involves the viewer in a positive discussion about the pleasures of SM, and generic porn sites that host simulated kidnapping and rape videos, without any such framing devices, where even consent is not attested to.

    It’s unfortunate that the porn debate has gotten polarized by the push for censorship. Censorship won’t work. And there’s a difference between saying “porn is misogynist” and “misogyny is a problem in porn”. But I’m not convinced that normalizing everyone’s desires will work either. We don’t respond to racism this way.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 10:16 am | Permalink
  18. Lindsay wrote:

    I really feel for the woman who wrote the first question. I’m cis, but my transmasculine partner has gone through this in queer spaces time and again. He left his drag troupe because one day he had the audacity to get a little tetchy at someone who just. wouldn’t. stop. calling him “she,” which resulted in a gigantic cissplaining lecture regarding his “bad attitude.” I’m still so pissed about it months later. I wish I had some useful advice to offer, but the truth is sometimes it just sucks. I hope she can find a less self-involved group of friends.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 10:16 am | Permalink
  19. Leila wrote:

    Am I the only sex worker who reads this blog? I’ve been in abusive relationships, and I have to say, the majority of my clients treated me like gold compared to my abusers. This isn’t to say that abuse doesn’t happen in the sex industry, just that criminalizing it increases the harm. If you talk to Swedish sex workers, they will tell you that things are worse with the johns being criminalized because nice guys are too afraid of being arrested to see them- leaving men who have violent tendencies as the only option for work.

    I’m a terrible writer, so I’m going to send you all to a blog called “Bound, Not Gagged”. It’s written by sex workers and neither sugarcoats the issue nor acts like sex work is the ultimate evil.

    http://deepthroated.wordpress.com/

    I hope you take some time to read learn the viewpoints of some actual sexworkers. [We are not monolith, by the way.]

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 10:24 am | Permalink
  20. Garland Grey wrote:

    #12: Don’t be intentionally stupid, it doesn’t enamor you to me.

    Child Abuse, rape, and murder are completely fucking different, and conflating them is disgusting. Prostitution can happen where ever there is privacy, money, and two adults willing to complete the transaction, afterward, neither of those adults has any interest in reporting what happened to the authorities. So unless you would like to remove all privacy, so that two individuals can never be alone with one another, it will occur.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 11:36 am | Permalink
  21. Kiri wrote:

    @Lisa: “If men respected womens bodies they wouldn’t buy them, would they? A basic lowest standard of respect should be consent.”

    You’re assuming that consent and sex work are mutually exclusive, and I don’t see how this is so. I personally know some sex workers, and they always set clear boundaries as to what they will and won’t do before the transaction occurs. The idea that men “buy” sex workers’ bodies is a hugely problematic attitude that sex workers fight against. Sex work does not mean giving up consent.

    (There are cases where sex workers are raped, of course, but it doesn’t follow that all sex work is rape.)

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Permalink
  22. Kiri wrote:

    @Leila: Thanks for that link. :)

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Permalink
  23. Kiri wrote:

    “One of my favorite pro-porn slogans is ‘Don’t be “anti-porn”, be “anti-BAD porn”‘.”

    Thiiiiiiiiiiis.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Permalink
  24. Em wrote:

    #10 Neal 3.5/10

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Permalink
  25. Neal, #10
    You would be effectively subsidizing lazy people, who dont want to get a job and would rather be a cess pool of disease, with government protection.

    Whoa whoa whoa, where the hell did that come from? So the reason anyone would go into a high-risk, stressful line of work is because they are lazy and don’t want to work (And also enjoy being called a ‘cess pool,’ by the likes of you?) Not, maybe, because they do need the work? Do you apply this logic to everyone who takes high-risk jobs? Perhaps if we were to ban coal mining, and send government inspectors to arrest anyone caught in a mine, mining accidents would go down?

    Also, I have a quibble with your logic, in addition to your dehumanizing opinion of sex workers: How would legalization = subsidy? Right now, governments in the US pay cops to find and arrest prostitutes, prosecutors to prosecute them, and jails to house them. Those things get rather expensive, whereas the government makes money off of people employed legally–they pay income taxes (in addition to sales taxes and such, which are paid by people regardless of where their money comes from). Just because you don’t like a policy doesn’t mean it’s wasting your precious tax dollars.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Permalink
  26. Alithea wrote:

    #9 “People who pay for sex sometimes do so because they would really like to have sex, and the more socially acceptable ways of finding a partner are not working for them.”
    YES! Thank you.

    “If that’s because they’re a total creepy douchebag, or they just want to have financial power over the people they fuck, then fuck them.”

    I actually would prefer for those people to buy sex than have them manipulate others into sex where emotions might get involved.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Permalink
  27. karen wrote:

    too many (though not all) of the anti-prostitution, anti-porn arguments i see here strike me as rationalizations. wouldn’t it be more productive to get into the root discomfort most (if not all) of us have with either one?

    there are valid objections to the way porn works and the way prostitution works. but is any of that a necessary part of either one, or is it more likely a reflection of the sexism we see everywhere else? i tend to suspect the latter.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Permalink
  28. Claudia wrote:

    I used to take a lot more of a libertarian approach (consenting adults, what’s the harm, their own bodies) towards prostitution until I moved to Northern Nevada.

    And now I can’t help but see it as dehumanizing. It’s a social cancer. I don’t think that it is possible in our current culture- with the constructions of gender and sexuality that we have- to have ‘healthy’ (for lack of a better word) prostitution. It’s too tied into some really fucked-up structures, affirming and propagating them. Don’t get me wrong: I want the sex-workers to be protected. I know that criminalizing it leaves them vulnerable. But I’ve become very anti-legalization based on what I’ve seen, and so I’m kind of stuck.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Permalink
  29. Alithea wrote:

    #10 “What making prostitution legal would do is make it a more viable career path, and what this would do is encourage less people to go to school and make an honest living because they now have protection and legality on their side.”

    Actually, no, it wouldn’t. The fact that it’s illegal is far less of a deterrent than the fact that the job involves having sex with people you normally would not want to have sex with. Also, sex work *is* a hard job, believe it or not. Like any other freelance jobs there’s all the administrative work like finding clients, booking clients, keeping clients, that you don’t even get paid for that you have to do *in addition* to actually doing your job. Yes, it attracts some lazy people but they’re very rarely successful at it.

    Furthermore your argument could be made about any job that doesn’t require a college degree and I don’t see anyone trying to outlaw truck driving or factory work. Some people don’t want to go to college. Some people can’t go to college. There’s nothing wrong with that and I’m sick of people implying that there is.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Permalink
  30. Frances wrote:

    Just as a talking point, I live in a country where prostitution has been legalised relatively recently, and to the best of my knowledge things have not got radically better or worse for sex workers, their clients, or society as a whole.

    There are (probably) less sex workers than there were before. Sex workers are (somewhat) more empowered, but still vulnerable to violence. Fiery rains from the heavens have yet to appear, although we did suffer from a pretty bad earthquake recently.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Permalink
  31. NEAL wrote:

    #25 I never said that the people who do it currently are lazy, I’m saying that people would be more encouraged, if it was legalized, to choose prostitution over other careers.

    Legalization would act as an indirect subsidy because it would provide more protection and incentive for the whoring business. It may not be money going straight to the prostitutes, but it would be a form of protection that would encourage the business to grow instead of having some percentage go to a pimp for protection.

    #29 From what I just heard, you said there are two deterrents for people considering prostitution. By erasing one of those deterrents, people would be more encouraged to do it.

    Im not saying there’s nothing wrong with going to college, there are plenty of great jobs and a lot of better lifestyles that come without a college education; however, prostitution is not a healthy lifestyle. Its just not, and it does no good to society. Maybe it helps a few people crippled by their sexual perversions, but maybe those people are sick and maybe fueling their sickness with a quick fix of sexual interaction is working backwards. Masanobu Fukuoka talks about this problem in his book, “One Straw Revolution.” What you are looking to do is provide a system to support these people’s sickness’s with sex, rather than trying to find the core issue that causes the sickness in the first place. We are not naturally inclined for sexual imprisonment, but there are certain aspects in our society that make us vulnerable to that. Instead of setting up this system, time would be better spent looking for the long-term solution.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Permalink
  32. Kiri wrote:

    @Claudia: Fundies will often find stories of people who regret getting abortions, or who were supposedly “damaged” by “the homosexual lifestyle”. We don’t take either of these as justification for restricting what people do with their bodies. How is this different?

    @Alithea: Agreed so hard.

    @Neal: “I’m saying that people would be more encouraged, if it was legalized, to choose prostitution over other careers.” And this is a bad thing because… ?

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 7:30 pm | Permalink
  33. Kiri wrote:

    @Neal: Okay, I just read your comment in full, and umm. I’m kinda wondering where either you or the dude whose book you recommend get off telling women what they must be thinking. I mean, I’m not exactly a model feminist (or so I’m told), but I’m pretty sure that dudes telling ladies that they are broken and sick for making personal choices about their personal bodies is, more or less, the antithesis of feminism.

    Also, at the risk of sounding like That Person who always picks on language without paying mind to substance, your framing of sex workers as “crippled” and (presumably mentally) “sick” bugs me on several levels, not least of which is the conflation of disabled people with Bad Things. In your attempt to attack sex workers, you also attacked folks like me, Sady, Annaham and a whole host of other people who’ve written and/or commented on this site. Mind you, I’m not personally offended, because I don’t mind being compared to sex workers (they are neat people, in my experience!). But when you use disability as a negative comparison, it implies that disabled people are lesser, and I hope that’s not what you were going for.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 8:04 pm | Permalink
  34. Sady wrote:

    @NEAL: First question: Are you every sex worker AND sex workers’ client in the world? If so, I can fully understand why you know the mental, emotional, and physical history of every sex worker AND sex workers’ client in the world, and I consider you fully qualified to weigh in. If not, here’s my second question: How fast can you shut up? Here, let’s try it! I’ll time you! 1, 2, 3, SHUT IT.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Permalink
  35. sortedinnit wrote:

    #20 – So prostituted children aren’t abused children? Trafficked prostituted women aren’t raped? And all the prostitutes killed over the years simply for being prostitutes weren’t murdered?

    You seem to be assuming that all prostitution is consensual. In my experience there is very, very often coercion, desperation, manipulation, or force involved. Pretending this isn’t so is disgusting.

    And what makes you think I give a flying fuck about being enamoured to you?

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Permalink
  36. Sady wrote:

    @sortedinnit: Because you’re commenting on his blog post, maybe? The existence of violence within the sex industry — and who here is arguing that this is nonexistent? Seriously, find me someone who’s doing this — does not mean there is ONLY violence and NO consent in the sex industry. Learn to make clearer distinctions, and stop swearing at our bloggers, or find a new blog to read.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 8:31 pm | Permalink
  37. sortedinnit wrote:

    @36. I think you’ll find he swore at me first Sady…

    I haven’t suggested that there is ONLY violence and NO consent in the sex industry. I have commented that it seems to me that the author of the post seems to be assuming that there is little or no violence, and usually consent in prostitution.

    And are people only allowed to comment on a post here if they really, really want the person who wrote that post to like them? Seriously?

    If that is in fact the case, then I certainly shall find a new blog to read..

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 9:09 pm | Permalink
  38. Sady wrote:

    @sortedinnit: Commenting in order to be hostile to the writer of the post is known as “trolling,” and yes: We frown on it. We especially frown on it in threads about sex work, because they have a history of devolving into screaming matches where nobody listens to anyone else. I’m not saying that any one party is blameless there (I’m certainly not) but anti-sex-work folks have typically been the biggest, most organized offenders. I came in here because there had already been some ridiculous, irresponsible, or purposefully hostile comments, and I didn’t want this to go the way of every single other conversation on the topic. If you can be civil, stay. If not, go. That goes for everyone else in this thread, too. And yes, “being civil” does include refraining from the accusation that people who disagree with you support human trafficking, child molestation, rape, and murder. In case anyone needed that clarification.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 9:21 pm | Permalink
  39. NEAL wrote:

    I’m not saying I understand every single case…im saying that there are trends in human activity that help predict situations. Thats what economics is, thats what sociology is, thats what psychology is…People, prostitutes included, because they are people, react in trends…

    I said cess pool one time, i take that back, that was wrong…It is a personal choice, but it shouldn’t be a personal choice supported by the government…and what giving protection does is help the industry.

    Masanobu Fukuoka wasn’t a feminist and I wasn’t using his literature to demean women…He’s a natural farmer in Japan, but in his book he looks into our problem solving techniques in agriculture and applies the natural system to the way our society currently solves problems. Its the difference between a “quick-fix,” like using pesticides which kill the desired pest but have bad side effects, and the long term fix that would happen if you encouraged the pest’s natural predator to balance the population of the pest.

    I applied this to the case where people were saying prostitutes actually “help” men by acting as a support system when they have no one or when they would like to pay someone to assert dominance over. I was saying this form of “help” is actually just making men dependent on the system, rather than looking at the cause of these problems.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Permalink
  40. Sady wrote:

    @NEAL: What you SAID was that not criminalizing prostitution — which, as I’m sure you know, leaves sex workers without meaningful legal recourse in the event of rape or abuse, and which leaves them open to exploitation and abuse by higher-ups within the industry and by the police — would make it “easier” for “lazy people” to be “diseased.” You also made massive generalizations about the physical, emotional, and mental health of the people in the industry. You’re welcome to keep reading and educating yourself, but you’re not welcome to keep contributing to this conversation, because you’ve proven that you don’t know what you’re talking about and are willing to make biased, lazy, and marginalizing statements about a community that already faces substantial marginalization and violence. We’ll all have a much easier time in this discussion if you stop assuming that having read a book about natural farming (????) qualifies you to speak about sex work.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Permalink
  41. mulierosity wrote:

    Let’s take this a step further. Not only should sex work be legalized, but we should also license those in the industry. Seriously. After all, I want someone knowledgeable if s/he is to handle my sexy/tender bits. And it would also help in knowing how much to pay/charge.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Permalink
  42. Garland Grey wrote:

    @37: Okay. Here’s the deal. Do I understand that sex workers are frequently raped and murdered in their line of work? Of course I do. That is why I feel so strongly about advocating for them, and not passing judgement on the thing they do for money. This is why I bristled at your snarky conflation of sex work with rape, murder, and child abuse. One of the first things you learn when you start writing about equality for women (the feminism, I believe it is called) is to recognize when someone is making a legitimate critique of your work, and when someone is trolling. When people are trolling, I’ve learned it is best to be flippant with them. Like I was with you. If I felt you were making a valid critique, I would take the time to make a smart, informed rebuttal. But you aren’t. Do we restrict commenting to only people who love what we write? Nope. But conflating sex work with murder, rape, and child abuse is beyond the pale. It enters a realm beyond acceptable discourse, at least on this blog. If you have substantive discourse, we would love to hear it. Otherwise, it is probably best that you find somewhere else to comment.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 11:48 pm | Permalink
  43. Kiri wrote:

    Thank you both, Sady and Garland. <3

    Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 12:34 am | Permalink
  44. libractivist wrote:

    @Andy (#3) — I just want to point out that a good many sex worker rights advocates disagree with the “Nordic model.” Whether it’s sex workers or their clients who are charged, the fact remains that when sex work is criminalized, encounters are pushed into more dangerous settings, and sex workers are less likely to report assault or STIs.
    When clients are hiding from the law, sex workers have less opportunity to make safe and educated choices about which clients to take on. At the same time, “third party” laws that ban profitting from sex work make it harder for sex workers to work together, to rent a place, or to hire someone for protection. So while I hear you on the fact that it would be great to find a compromise that would be at least somewhat closer to legalization, the nordic model is not necessarily that solution.

    Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 9:50 am | Permalink
  45. Happy wrote:

    [EDITED FOR OBVIOUS TROLLING, WHICH CAME AFTER MODERATOR REQUESTS TO SHUT IT DOWN AND MAINTAIN CIVILITY.]

    Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Permalink
  46. Abbey wrote:

    8 CJP – I completely agree with your critique here. Porn isn’t simply an outlet or a release, it also plays a role in shaping sexual desire, as well as our expectations about real-life sex. While I agree that the actors work very hard to produce porn, I don’t think it’s always valuable work. Same with the financial analysts at Countrywide Home Loans — they undoubtedly worked really hard, but the net effect of that work was inarguably negative.

    I agree with Garland that we shouldn’t erase people and their sexual desires, but there is another part of my brain that rebels against some forms of sexual expression/desire. For example, there are some people who are genuinely sexually attracted to children. Obviously acting on that would be completely inappropriate now and forever, but should we normalize the desire itself? Just because it is real doesn’t mean that it’s okay.

    I think it’s possible to deconstruct that kind of destructive sexual desire, to be critical of it, while at the same time not conflating the owner of the desires with a soulless monster.

    This is an issue that I’m still spinning out, so please feel free to chime in.

    Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Permalink
  47. happy wrote:

    Sorry, didn’t see the moderator warning. Not sure why my post was “trolling”. Are any posts that question whether prostitution is a good and necessary thing unwelcome at this site?

    Clients are overwhelmingly male. Is it because of a biological imperative – men are hornier, less emotionally invested in sex, etc.? If so, yeah, I guess prostitution will always be with us. There will always be women and girls who become prostitutes under financial duress. Is it any worse to work in sex work than other jobs where workers’ are trapped, working under duress, or trafficked?

    If the typical sex worker sees it as only a job, and it’s not a job that’s fundamentally different than, say, working at McDonald’s, it seems to make perfect sense that older teens are allowed the option to be sex workers. And if “prostitution will always be with us”, and prostitution, as we all know at heart, means young women and men sex workers and primarily male clients, then I guess we, as feminists, have to accept that men’s and women’s sexuality is fundamentally different and that cannot be changed. Women are the passive sex class, men are the consumers. And what’s the harm in emphasizing that in normalizing sex-for-pay, and thus strict gender roles regarding sexuality?

    Seems to make perfect sense for high schoolers to sell sex. There’s such a small window in every woman’s life that she’d be raking in optimum rates in the business. (Or do we also want to pretend that there are a lot of highly paid forty-year olds in the sex industry?)

    The arguments here I see for legalization all seem to boil down to: Men will always want to buy sex. Not all girls and women in the sex industry are coerced or hate their jobs! If prostitution is decriminalized or legalized prostitutes will have legal recourse when raped (not sure why prostitutes will suddenly have better luck with getting rape cases prosecuted and convicted than non-prostitutes, but I guess in the happy wonderful sex-positive land where the commodification of women’s bodies is taken to an even further extreme and become even more normal in our culture – suddenly cops, DAs, and juries will begin taking rape seriously. Not sure how that’s gonna work….but if y’all say so.)

    Yes, let’s look forward to a wonderful post-feminist society where [CUT BECAUSE YOU DID THE EXACT SAME THING FOR WHICH WE DELETED YOUR INITIAL COMMENT. STOP TROLLING. CUTS WILL HAPPEN TO ANYONE AND EVERYONE WHO ENGAGES IN IT.]

    Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 11:01 pm | Permalink
  48. Sady wrote:

    @Happy: There’s not a word in your argument that makes sense to me, but notice how you’re getting published now. As opposed to before, when you wrote an entire comment of scintillating “parody” and/or clearly came in here to snark for the sake of your own self-righteousness and not to have a conversation. Here, we just cut the last paragraph of gratuitous snarking! You’re free to continue, but check yourself, respect the moderators, and listen to people who disagree with you without attacking them. You know, like EVERYONE ELSE IN THE THREAD HAS TO DO. As for this:

    If prostitution is decriminalized or legalized prostitutes will have legal recourse when raped (not sure why prostitutes will suddenly have better luck with getting rape cases prosecuted and convicted than non-prostitutes, but I guess in the happy wonderful sex-positive land where the commodification of women’s bodies is taken to an even further extreme and become even more normal in our culture – suddenly cops, DAs, and juries will begin taking rape seriously. Not sure how that’s gonna work….but if y’all say so.)

    There is a difference between having a hard time getting a rape conviction, and being demotivated to report one’s rape, and knowing that you actually cannot report a rape, because you will be motherfucking imprisoned and almost certainly abused further because of what you do for a living. Check your privilege.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 1:07 am | Permalink
  49. happy wrote:

    Sorry, not seeing it as much as an advantage. I just don’t see legalization or decriminalization as the great panacea. A prostitute can report a rape now. And will, most likely, not see it prosecuted, let alone expect a conviction. There won’t be much motivation for a woman to report it even if she doesn’t have the fear of being being arrested for prostitution. You know how difficult it is to get a rape charge taken seriously. Do you truly believe legalizing prostitution will make a rapist think twice about committing the act? And that many girls or women will believe they have a chance of seeing justice in a he says/she says case when the woman works as a prostitute? Or many prosecutors will bother to try to bring such cases to trial? Or that legalizing or decriminalizing prostitution will change the stigma that prostitutes face in our culture? A difference that makes no difference is no difference….

    For that matter, do you think it will make much of a difference in prostitutes being seen as “easy prey” for violent crimes? Unless legalization somehow engineers a huge social overhaul in how we view women, gendered violence, and who is considered “expendable” in our society, I just can’t see it making much of a difference. There will still be girls and women working outside any legal system put in place. There will still be prostitutes who are marginalized people, working cheaper out of desperation, just like there are undocumented and “under the table” workers in any industry. They’re more likely to be the victims now, and they’ll be the more convenient victims even if there is legalized prostitution.

    Beyond that, do you think that prostitution with its severe gender roles (male client/female workers) will somehow change if it’s legalized? I just can’t see how making female sexuality even more of commodity helps anyone at all. It just reinforces the idea that men need sex, women perform sex.

    I do find it strange that discussing how porn or sex work might frame girls and women as objects acted upon is somehow taboo, but dissecting images of women in advertising or films or music is seen as a worthy topic of discussion. I just can’t see my way clear to thinking that Swiffer ads and romantic comedies or Taylor Swift lyrics might have a cumulative effect in how our culture views women and women view themselves, but porn or the renting of women’s bodies for sex has no effect on people’s attitudes.

    I see where it’s an uncomfortable subject. For one thing, one doesn’t want to demonize women in sex work. For another, it brings up uncomfortable questions about male sexuality. For heterosexual women in particular, it’s rather a buzzkill to think of how many men prefer mainstream porn that certainly doesn’t show a very equitable view of sex. Or how much pigtails and schoolgirls barely legal stuff is popular. Or how women age out of porn, stripping, and sex work by their mid-twenties. There are some uncomfortable truths there. I can see where it’s easier to brush it off with a “whatever gets you off is alright” attitude. Perhaps I’m cynical, but I can’t help but believe that the more we normalize buying sex as a normal and healthy release for men, the more socially acceptable it will be, and the more men who will avail themselves of the services. It’s certainly true in countries that have decriminalized prostitution. I’m not sure that will lead to better attitudes towards women and girls in general or female sexuality in particular.

    I just don’t think it will make much difference in very many women’s lives. There will still be trafficking, still be undocumented women and girls exploited, still be women and girls who are marginalized because of substance abuse issues, mental illness, or other factors being exploited as cheap “labor”. But it’s far more comforting to think that most women in prostitution are healthy young college girls making a few bucks, with ample opportunity to do something else for work, who just love their jobs. To imply otherwise is sex-negative, I guess. Or denies girls and women their agency and their freedom to choose their choice. I tend to think many women in the trade don’t have much choice or agency or freedom, but the ones who don’t aren’t really blogging or writing books or commenting on feminist blogs. If you want to bring “privilege” into this.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 4:11 am | Permalink
  50. Sady wrote:

    @Happy: So, having read your novella on the subject, what I’ve learned is that you care about women and girls. You care about feminism. You don’t like sexism. You don’t like rape. You care so much about feminism, and women, and girls, and you are so opposed to sexism, and rape, that you are 100% okay with the fact that some women are literally unable to report their rapes for fear of being imprisoned. Because that stops sexism. If those women were not literally unable to report their rapes for fear of being imprisoned, sexism would happen, which would be bad for women and girls. I mean: It would be bad for the women and girls other than the ones who are currently literally unable to report their rapes for fear of being imprisoned. The women who are literally unable to report their rapes for fear of being imprisoned are still getting hurt, but that’s fine, because you want to save the other women and girls. Because feminism! Yay, feminism! And as everybody knows, if you want to make a feminism, you’ve got to break some women. Right?

    Also, pointing out your privilege as a person who is not a sex worker will result in you saying that actually, sex workers who disagree with you are the privileged ones! How dare they have, like, opinions about their own experiences and stuff! You are aware that human trafficking and abused sex workers exist, and are therefore qualified to speak for all of them, rendering you totally not privileged! Also, totally not co-opting anyone’s experience! Yay! Step one in your campaign of Speaking For All The Abused Sex Workers: Saying it’s no big deal that they’re literally unable to report their rapes for fear of being imprisoned. Dear Lord, Happy. What would sex workers do if they didn’t have you to stand up for them?

    Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 9:15 am | Permalink
  51. Clauda wrote:

    @Kiri
    “@Claudia: Fundies will often find stories of people who regret getting abortions[...]How is this different?”

    I’m not sure I see your point here, or the connection. I can’t argue that it’s different, because I’m not sure why you think it is the same.

    I wasn’t pointing to anyone in particular. I wasn’t making the argument that ‘this one person once was hurt by X’. I was just commenting on a change in my perspective based on living somewhere where prostitution is legal, and why I think the practice may differ from the theory (e.g., the weird constructions of gender and sexuality in our culture.) If it helps at all, I had the same change in perspective in relation to casinos (which I now view as some of the most desperately sad and creepy places around, especially in the difference between how they present themselves and the reality within). I’m sure there are many others who disagree with me on both counts.

    I guess I’m so ready to move back to California.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 11:12 am | Permalink
  52. Rikibeth wrote:

    The problem I have with the discomfort that some other commenters are expressing about porn that they see as degrading to women is this: who gets to decide what’s degrading? Twisty Faster, for example, maintains that the act of giving a blow job is inherently degrading to women,and that any woman who believes she enjoys performing them is suffering from false consciousness, yadda yadda. I, shall we, say, do not concur with this view.

    And I know some people who genuinely and enthusiastically enjoy things that I’d find horribly degrading and would never consider doing. And when they can’t find partners who are willing to participate in this, they feel the lack.

    So, while *I* wouldn’t want a partner who a) mostly gets off to stuff I find degrading and b) desires and expects me to do those things, I’m aware that the people who like it? Are out there.

    Rather than restrict what the porn industry can depict, much better to hold it accountable for the conditions the performers experience, work to ensure that it’s free from coercion, and all the other things we expect from non-sex work jobs.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Permalink
  53. Kiri wrote:

    @Rikibeth: Exactly. Thank you.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Permalink
  54. Em wrote:

    prostitution, as we all know at heart, means young women and men sex workers and primarily male clients, then I guess we, as feminists, have to accept that men’s and women’s sexuality is fundamentally different and that cannot be changed.

    Thank you for helping me to finally understand non sequitur.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Permalink
  55. CJP wrote:

    @Rikibeth – You make a valid point. My take on what you have to say is that far too often the critique of pornography has been framed in terms of some abstract set of moral rules that’s supposed to apply for all people. But whether it’s proposed by conservative Christians or radical feminists or free-market libertarians, no one set of standards of what’s ok or not will work for everyone. And outright censorship manifestly doesn’t work, given that that’s the position we started with a century ago in the wake of Victorian prudery, and given also that it gets disproportionately applied to queer communities while the heteronormative stuff just slides on by. And I share your dislike of the notion of “false consciousness”.

    In a perfect “sexual economy”, as it were, each of us would be free to say yes or no to anything we like, and we’d have the information to make choices to avoid traumatizing mistakes. But maybe you’ll agree that we don’t live in anything like that world. My sense is that mainstream porn does tend to endlessly reproduce masculine fantasies of dominating, using, and controlling women, and that this both reflects and contributes to the patriarchal culture in which men define their identities in terms of dominance over women, often without being aware of it.

    Foucault characterized the difference between domination and equality in this way: in an equal relationship, power flows both ways; sometimes one partner is dominant, sometimes the other, depending on time and context and inclination. But in a relation of domination, that back-and-forth flow gets stuck; power flows one way and the dominated can only resist. Many individual women may feel that their relationship to porn is benign, part of a reciprocal exchange of power with their partners, and speaking for themselves they are probably right, but the big picture suggests that porn as it currently exists has effects of power that tend to flow mainly in one direction.

    @Abbey – Thanks for the compliment! I don’t know what the solution is (of course). I do wish that research on the subject would focus less on trying to establish a causal link between media exposure and specific behaviours (which is fruitless) and more on, for instance, the actual diversity and complexity of experiences women and men have with porn.

    I’ve known several women who have told me about how they have been directly oppressed by mainstream, heteronormative porn, in the sense of having their male partners put pressure on them to perform sexually like porn actresses, and emotionally abusing them for not doing so. I don’t feel comfortable telling them that they’re just choosing their partners badly; I strongly suspect that they are on the wrong end of a systemic pattern.

    All the same, (a) I’m in favour of critical public discussion, not censorship (b) I believe firmly that porn workers should have legally protected rights like workers in any other industry and (c) I support the complete legalization of sex work and the destigmatization of sex workers – although not of all of those who profit from the sex work of others.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Permalink
  56. Ashley wrote:

    Elizabeth_D–

    “Plenty of non-porn media glorifies violence. Plenty of non-porn media gives people unrealistic ideas about how the world works or what gender roles should be. That’s not a reason to make it illegal.”

    I actually think the question of how to change the structure of media–all media, including but not limited to porn, is not nearly as simple as you make it out to be. There are problems with who controls media, and who has resources to buy what media sells. There are problems with the very act of *representing* a human being, because meaning is already inscribed on their body by the social context. All that stuff reflects multiple forms of oppression. So, do we make media illegal? Probably that is a bad idea. But do we need to make major institutional changes that would shift the entire way media of all sorts works? Yes. Do I know what in the world those extremely complex changes would be? Hell no.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Permalink
  57. Moneypenny wrote:

    As a current sex worker I have to say I found this discussion hilarious and sad. I am always saddened by discussions about sex work by civvies though, because the people trying to stick up for us are always having to deal with jerks. And the jerks always sound like bad clients.

    AND the discussions rarely involve us.

    I would love to see a “Sexist Beatdown” style discussion on sex work with an actual sex worker (or two ZOMG!).

    TBD is still amazing though.

    Monday, November 8, 2010 at 6:43 am | Permalink
  58. Kiri wrote:

    I would love to see a “Sexist Beatdown” style discussion on sex work with an actual sex worker (or two ZOMG!).

    Yes please!

    Err, not that I’m trying to be a backseat blogger. Just saying, this is an epic idea.

    Monday, November 8, 2010 at 11:06 am | Permalink
  59. Geek wrote:


    I’m still going to judge people that are turned on by 5 year olds, snuff videos, and crush videos. I can not possibly see some things as okay, ever.
    I agree with Abbey – just because it’s real doesn’t mean it’s okay. Some things we shouldn’t make people feel that they’re normal about.

    Monday, November 8, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Permalink
  60. Kiri wrote:

    @Geek: Did you see anyone in this thread arguing in favor of child porn and murder porn? Because I sure didn’t.

    Monday, November 8, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Permalink
  61. CJP wrote:

    “I would love to see a “Sexist Beatdown” style discussion on sex work with an actual sex worker (or two ZOMG!).”

    Yes. Brilliant idea!

    Monday, November 8, 2010 at 9:14 pm | Permalink
  62. Moneypenny wrote:

    YAY! It should be done! Two people have agreed, that’s almost like a unanimous decision on the interwebz.

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 12:02 am | Permalink
  63. S.A. Small wrote:

    Um…third. Also: people who are ardently anti-prostitution seem to be neglecting the fact that not all prostitution is men purchasing sex from women. Not to say that I’ve worked out the implications of the simple existence of other kinds of prostitution would have in a discussion of ending patriarchy, but I’m pretty sure it’s important.

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Permalink
  64. Dawn. wrote:

    “I would love to see a “Sexist Beatdown” style discussion on sex work with an actual sex worker (or two ZOMG!).”

    Fuck yes. This should happen. Pretty please, with nutella on top?

    Garland and Sady: thank you for being exceptional bloggers and active moderators. I loved your answers to both of these questions, Garland.

    Whoever referenced Jiz Lee: I. effing. love. Jiz. Lee. :)

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 2:16 am | Permalink
  65. Geek wrote:

    @Kiri –
    “But when you start drawing lines in the sand about what is acceptable to be turned on by, you start erasing people.”

    I meant only to disagree with this statement. There is a line.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Permalink
  66. Rachael wrote:

    I’m so disgusted by the conflation of rape and murder with consensual sex work. And indeed, it should not need to be said: it should be abundantly clear that we are talking about consensual sex work in this post. Nobody is talking about legalising non-consensual sex work because that’s not a job, that’s a hostage situation. And if you think all sex work is non-consensual then you have some more reading to do, seriously. SO given that nobody on Tigerbeatdown wants to de-criminalise non-consensual sex slavery, the next time anyone feels like they want to compare acceptance of sex work to acceptance of rape and murder, please focus on the ACTUAL discussion which is about consensual sex work and what legal status it should have.

    I know I’m coming in late here but I couldn’t let it go without saying this. :)

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Permalink
  67. Moneypenny wrote:

    Rachael, it makes perfect sense that you would feel like you needed to say that. Every time someone mentions sex work and decriminalization/destigmatization someone feels COMPELLED to mention that people are being forced. into. sexual. slavery. somewhere. More often than not it derails what could have been a reasonable conversation between adults.

    People should have to apply to use the
    internet.

    Saturday, November 13, 2010 at 1:05 am | Permalink
  68. Betina wrote:

    #35 Sex with children is a crime. They might ‘consent,’ in the way some children might, but it’s still traumatic.

    By your logic, evidently we should criminalise all sex.

    Sunday, November 14, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Permalink
  69. McDuff wrote:

    Rule #1: Everybody fucks
    Rule #2: Everybody fucks weird.
    Rule #3: No exceptions.

    There, now we’ve established that EVERYONE is, in fact, a filthy pervert, squished full of weird psycho-sexual stuff and icky desires to do things involving their own or others biological functions, we can get on with the job of not calling anyone a cess pit of immorality or whatever.

    Here’s a question for those who argue that it’s not just a one way street between sexuality and porn and that porn influences people who watch it:

    So what?

    If a sheltered, christian, midwestern woman browsing the internet suddenly discovered the fine joys of lesbianism and ran off to San Francisco to find other like-minded people, I’m sure the majority feminist position wouldn’t be to condemn her. So why should it be so if she ran off to SF to get tied up and spanked? Or if she ran off because she wanted to tie up and spank people? Or if her husband wanted to get his testicles trodden on by someone in stilettos, or whatever?

    Yes, people get influenced by porn. Yes, and also, sometimes people’s sexuality can be a response to internalising pre-existing gender inequalities, or to childhood abuse, or to other deep personal problems. But why does this mean we can discount their desires as somehow wrong and bad and in need of correction? As long as now, in the present time, they’re able to find someone to be their daddy or their bitch or their husband or whatever other perversion they’re into, and are able to do so consensually and with respect and communication on both sides, why is it any of our business?

    Why is it our job to try and protect people from their own sex lives?

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Permalink