Some Friday afternoon reading

// 26 March 2010

Laurie Penny’s produced one of the most reasonable, balanced pieces on feminism and sex work / prostitution I’ve read over at The Samosa. I thoroughly recommend reading it.

I’m not going to be online very much over the weekend to moderate comments, so can I please suggest that any comments relate only to your views of Laurie’s piece, rather than general comments on sex work / prostitution – I don’t think anything will be gained from going over the same old arguments and I won’t be able to publish comments in the timely fashion required of a debate anyway.

Comments From You

Jennifer Drew // Posted 26 March 2010 at 7:52 pm

Anti-prostitution feminists have analysed the issue of increasing

poverty and the reasons why increasing numbers of female students are

being targetted by the male-directed so-called Sex Industry. Sheila

Jeffreys’ The Industrial Vagina analyses the economic factors and why so many countries believe prostitution is an acceptable ‘job’ for women and girls.

Men are not commonly bombarded with claims that becoming a male

lap-dancer will empower them. Advertisements in Job Centres are not

targetting men and telling them they can earn vast sums of money by

becoming ‘masseurs’ or escort workers – euphemisms for prostitution. No

it is unemployed young women who are the ones being targetted by the

prostitution industry.

Missing from Laurie Penny’s argument is the fact prostitution is driven

by male demand and it is our male supremacist society which adheres to

the male-defined sexual double standard. Mainstream media continues to be hypocritical wherein it consistently excuses men who purchase

prostituted women but at the same demonises prostituted women.

Anti-prostitution feminists are not demonising or ignoring the many,

many women and girls who are coerced, forced or seduced into

prostitution – rather it is the male-owned and male-dominant media which

takes such a hyprocritical stance.

tomhulley // Posted 27 March 2010 at 9:22 am

thanks for sharing, laura, this is a compelling article from an engaging website

i loved ‘if we all stopped shouting at each other for a while we could hold the revolution tomorrow’

patriarchy survives by dividing people from each other and their own best interests as simone de beauvoir realised long ago

icicle // Posted 28 March 2010 at 2:33 pm

Good point: Why is a PhD student selling sexual intercourse to fund her studies?

I really don’t think there is any excuse. Many PhD students work in bars, mark exams, teach classes of undergrads or do other part time jobs. These activities are not as well paid a high class prositution but at least you are not conributing to the normalisation of an activity that some women don’t have a choice over whether to be involved in or not(whether that is through physical cohersion or financial cohersion). At least when invidulating an exam your not actively encouraging the objectification of women everywhere.

We do not live in a vacumn, sometimes the rights of the majority or those who need protecting most need to be considered over the wants of the individual.

makomk // Posted 28 March 2010 at 8:55 pm

Jennifer Drew: “Anti-prostitution feminists are not demonising or ignoring the many, many women and girls who are coerced, forced or seduced into prostitution”

I notice you don’t mention women who choose to do it – which, given that it’s exactly that group that anti-prostitution feminists are accused of demonising and erasing, makes that very much a non-denial denial.

icicle: your comment is a good demonstration of that demonisation. Apparently, anyone who makes the choice to enter prostitution rather than any of the alternative jobs they could theoretically have done (all of which are, let’s face it, just as much of a dead end career-wise) is an evil monster responsible for sex slavery and the rape of women. Pushing responsibility onto the way women act and dress rather than onto the actual rapists is a feminist idea now?

Of course, the same campaigners have been pushing for laws that prostitutes reckon will make it harder for them to protect themselves from rapists…

Laura // Posted 29 March 2010 at 9:31 am

@ icicle – I think Laurie’s point was more to question why (upper end) prostitution should be more economically viable than those other forms of work, and to highlight the sexist value system at the root of this.

passerby // Posted 29 March 2010 at 12:48 pm

I’ve added some comments to the Laurie Penny’s original post as I think one of the issues missing from these online debates is the reality of what is being put in place on the ground level.

When the issue is about securing funding (whether “honestly” or through political patronage) then creating an impression of being part of a majority view is essential.

Sometimes interesting virtual debates are not that helpful as they don’t actually acknowledge or put forward strategies to deal with what is actually happening. In fact you could say they add to the confusion as they help obscure who is able to play the system and who isn’t.

Beatrice // Posted 30 March 2010 at 9:34 am

I strongly believe that the words, views and intentions of both Finn MacKay and Rebecca Mott have been misrepresented and taken out of context here. There is no understanding within the article of what the aims of FCAP actually are (which can be easily found out on the website), which are far from arbitrarily moralistic and in fact very practical aims. It is reductive and poor form to ignore the practical work headed by MacKay, Mott and others for the rights of prostituted women for the sake of painting this insultingly primary school-esque image of groups shouting at each other. There is a lot more to the issue than moral posturing, there are womens’ lives at risk and FCAP know that. Also, why is it that there are links to ‘Punternet’ but not to Mott’s blog? If anything, this article only serves as an attempt to create the very conflict which it pretends to discuss, but fails due to its lack of actual argument. I would not say that it was balanced, I would say that it is mangled, pointless and based on false assertions. I also second Jennifer Drew’s statements, all of which I think are very relevant here.

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