Big big love

by Ms Dentata

Right. Sex work- 101:

Sex-negativitists are often quick to jump on sex work as being an inherently oppressive and sexist industry. They argue that it attracts victims and (re)victimises them. Ariel Levy, author of  Female Chauvinist Pigs, has gained fame and presumably even some wealth through authoring a book which seems (to me) to be based on nothing but the idea that all us trampy girls out there who enjoy getting our tits out, selling our sexual services, having fun in raunch culture, and being promiscuous unashamed hedonistic hos only enjoy so because we are clearly BRAINWASHED by patriarchy.

I don’t mean to discredit the parts of her book which accurately criticise negative aspects of the way patriarchy constructs sexuality, but her idea that sex work is inherently exploitative and that women who participate in raunch culture are anti-feminist, both in their mindset and in their actions, really gets my goat.

A quick google search for “feminism and sex work” shows that this attitude is not restricted to only the closed-minded Ms Levy,

http://www.alternet.org/sex/98645/the_strange_relationship_between_feminism_and_sex_work/

http://contexts.org/thickculture/2010/03/30/culture-the-strip-club-icelands-feminism-sees-sex-work-as-degrading-not-empowering/ Iceland bans ‘profit made from the nudity of employees’, not due to NORMAL closed-mindedness, but due to feminist closed-mindedness. Awesome. Let’s see some gang-run strip clubs, guys.

http://www.xtalkproject.net/?p=387 “In other words, I want to think about how taking a feminist perspective on sex work can help to develop and strengthen the politics of both movements.” Yes plz.

http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2008/03/13/feministe-feedback-can-a-feminist-be-a-sex-worker/ : GODDAMN. The comments on this article are more than a little infuriating- for reasons I can not even begin summarising (but here’s an attempt);

1) I FUCKING HATE it when people try to hide other conservative beliefs underneath the guise of feminism.

Call me an idealist, coz I am, and I think that political ranting should theorise the idealist utopian paradise, and I believe with my whole heart that it is possible to envision a feminist sex-work utopia where people of all genders and identities can financially benefit from providing sexual services and facilitating the expression and discovery of all sorts of desires, fantasies, and fetishes- creating a place of beautiful expressive sexual orgasmic respectful kinky and mutually enjoyable experiences. Without coercion or discrimination or violence or abuse. And holy fuck, I really do find it hard to see why so many people have problems with this concept.

Having beliefs that sex work must be bad for you, or that promiscuity is unnatural (that is, outside of the normal healthy human behaviours), that the industry is impossible to navigate without being pressured into substance abuse or disrespecting yourself, that the women who work in it are all victims of abuse and therefore the industry must be linked to this harm, that those who pay for sex view workers solely as objects, have less sexual respect than ‘free encounters’, or that it is impossible to seperate commercial sexual transactions from sex is just plain conservatism, often disguised, but. Full. Stop. Conservatism.

(This is totally just my opinion, and I know others vary… but this is my blog so I get to write blindly from my own situated perspective, if I so wish)

Hmm, ranty rant ranty. I can tell right now that this is a topic I will probably spread out over several blogs, and will probably come back to and edit a whole heap.

But I suppose the main point of this three nights worth of ranting and revision is this; Yes, there are undeniably aspects of the sex industry which are not worker-positive, are not feminist, and are exploitative. There are also many many parts of wider construction of sexuality and especially self-esteem, body-image, sexual worth and behavioural norms, all of which add together to put a lot of pressure on sex workers.

HOWEVER, (crucial part of my reasoning here!!!!!!!) I believe it is possible to separate the idea of sex work from these negative social constructs and to envision a positive model of sex work. As with all other aspects of society, sex work reflects capitalism and patriarchy, and magnifies many aspects of it. As people keep deconstructing aspects of social conditioning and the systems of oppression, it is possible to see glimmers of hope. What would sex work look like without patriarchy? Without capitalism? Ohmigodsuchexcitingthingscouldhappen. Stay tuned…

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