Sunday, March 09, 2008

To whom it may concern

Just a repost of a comment at Natalia's, because it got rather long and it seemed worth a post of its own. You can read over there for context, or glean from what follows. This is addressed to feminists who take the let's call it abolitionist position wrt sex work/prostitution:

Seriously, let me ask you this. I assume you’re “pro-choice” when it comes to reproduction? (If I’m wrong, ignore what follows). Okay. Putting aside the irony of “choice” being an acceptable feminist concept when it comes to reproductive rights but not when it comes to sexuality (for pay or otherwise) (or even personal adornment and modification, depending on who you ask, but that’s another argument, maybe)

…putting that aside, do you, you know, -like- abortion? I mean, are you like, “yay!abortion!” Are you gleefully advocating that women just go out and have abortions for shits and giggles? Do you claim that “choice” means the -correct- choice is always to get an abortion? Is the “abortion industry” a heartless sinister machine to which you’ve pledged your allegiance in exchange for a mess of pottage and your immortal soul?

Ridiculous, right? Well, funny thing, because this is pretty much how a lot of let’s say non-nuanced pro-lifers see the pro-choice folks.

And, I gotta say it, I’m sure this will go over like a lead balloon, but my hand to Maud: the non-nuanced anti-pornstitution position? Can sound an awful lot like this. The demonization, the “you’re with us or agin’ us,” the positioning of the women in question as either poor brainwashed victims in need of saving or else carpetbagging sellouts who are in cahoots with the Enemy…

yeah, I’m probably talking to the wind again, but hey, my fingers needed the exercise, I guess.


Trinity said...

Right on Belle, right on.

Renegade Evolution said...

you know, i'm really not sure how much longer I can bother to give a rats ass about any of these people. it's apparent to me in many areas, with many issues, they have the whole universal (i.e "their") truth and all, and anyone who doesn't fall right in line is a liar, an idiot, paid off, deluded, a dude, or something less than human.

Okay then...fine. If that's the cause, really, why the fuck should us damaged deluded not-people give a crap about what happens to them?

belledame222 said...

like i said: i needed the exercise.

maybe it'll make sense to someone out there, who wasn't already thinking along similar lines, i mean. i don't particularly hold out hopes for the individual i was nominally addressing, no.

soopermouse said...

The moment people start believing their experience is the only one possible and that saying anything to the contrary makes you the enemy... tat moment I back away as fast as I can.

Trinity said...

Yeah. It's a right on analogy, at any rate. I do suspect it'll make some of the disenchanted think. Because it does seem to me that that movement has:

1) A core, who are either people who were deeply traumatized by some experience with porn, or who have made a name for themselves opposing it. These people can't, or won't, likely ever see that people who disagree have any point at all.

2) The rest, who are moved by the intense rhetoric. Bothered by porn, whether that be squicked or worried about it or know users of it who are assholes or... any number of things. But I find that a lot of these people really aren't so much wedded to the ideology as they are just bothered by porn. Worried that not being bothered by it would indicate some problematic sort of listlessness, complacency, lack of care for others, etc.

(This is why I really don't like that saying "if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." I do have pet causes I think more people should care more about, but that saying is not focused on stirring up support. It's a guilt tactic, calling someone an idiot and making them feel bad rather than giving them a reason to care about some serious issue. Outraged about what? What action should result from the outrage?)

And I think that posts like this can and do reach group #2. I mean, like I've said many times, one of the anti-porn people I actually knew off the Internet admitted, once I asked her straight up, that she'd never seen porn. That she was just going off feminist worries her professors had instilled in her.

I don't know that I changed her mind (nor is it important whether I did or not, really), but that's someone who, I think, likely went home that night and thought "Hmm, there may be something I don't know about this."

And I for one have no problem with APs, whether RF or not, who actually don't have that totalizing attitude. (Though the vast majority of AP's I've ever run into, online or off, did.)

Stassa said...

Yay! Verrry very good argument and excellent disassembly of a double-standard. Cool.

soopermouse said...

I have a good friend, a TS girl by the name of Jena. She writes, directs and produces porn movies, and stars in them. Is she exploited? Is she expressing her sexuality? Is she just making a living?

It's not for me to analyze it. I know that she is happy and dedicated to her work. There is nobody exploiting her.
So... where does that leave it?

Is she a dumb slave of the patriarchy or is it that maybe there is more than black and white to all of this?
There is more than 2 sides to everything... and anyone who sees the worldin black and white needs to wake the fuck up.

Octogalore said...

Nice analogy.

It seems like many of the comments on posts like Mary's or other such posts deal with women saying "right on, I don't like the industry either." That completely misses the point.

There are plenty of industries we don't like. Oil, maybe, diet pills, BigLaw. That has very little relevance to whether we respect workers' decisions to be on the payroll for whatever reason. I know women involved in all the industries above. I don't think my friend who's an attorney for ConocoPhillips is any better or worse than my friend who works at Club Paradise in Vegas or my friend who works in philanthropy at the Getty. (I do know that the former two don't have rich parents).

I haven't been incredibly impressed with many of the business/back room types I've met in the sex biz, although some I've felt were standup. But the same goes for BigLaw, or Automotive. So what? If all industries except for the sex biz were made up of blameless, perfect, giving individuals, then maybe we could try to say something intelligent about not reinforcing the one industry that's flawed. I don't see that happening anytime soon, however.

Anonymous said...

But the the usual response is that it's different because the sex industry is something special. At which point I think the double standard become obvious and fallacious...

So I guess this might be a somewhat indirect way to say brava...

belledame222 said...

welcome, danaelaurm

Chris said...

This is addressed to feminists who take the let's call it abolitionist position wrt sex work/prostitution:

Or, let's not.

I think we have to be very careful regarding what language we use to describe these people. If we cede that word to them, then we implicitly allow all the historical associations that come with it. In American and English history, the abolitionists were responsible for fighting slavery and liberating millions of human beings from unjust oppression. Do we really want to allow Twisty and Heart to associate themselves with a noble historical legacy like that without a fight? Not I. Despite what Heart might think, Ren and other sex workers are not slaves; they are not collaborators with the "patriarchy" who enrich themselves at the expense of other women. They are just human beings living their lives in a way that offends some fragile sensibilities.

I think "prohibitionist" is a much better term for these people, and is much better both literally and in its historical implications.