To be or not to be declared a Feminist?

// 5 October 2010

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Yesterday I posted the weekly round up thread and a particular topic has been coming up in comments. So instead of bombarding the comment thread where there were more than a dozen of other links that could be discussed, I have started a new post.

Yet Another Kiri Bloggish Thing has posted reasons why zhe does not self-identify as a feminist. To sum up hir argument;

Reason 1: Feminism isn’t actually inclusive of all types of women. And thus decides the movement is narrowly defined.

Reason 2: Zhe’s frustrated of the attitudes of feminists who believe if you’re not a self-proclaimed feminist than you represent the opposite stance, thus meaning you’re anti-woman.

My personal feeling is feminism should not be narrowly defined, and I also agree that just because you don’t proclaim yourself feminist, it does not mean you’re anti-woman.

I have claimed the name Feminist about 5 years ago. My main reasons were it brought me to a community where I could talk about topics that I wanted to talk about. I don’t narrowly define feminism around women’s issues. I’m a big advocate that feminism needs the strong inclusion of men. I believe feminism to be a methodical tool used to questioned gendered hypothesis. Not all of these hypothesis may be correct but it’s the job of a good feminist to keep asking these questions.

As a result, I may not always agree with the opinions of all feminists but it also may mean I don’t agree with people who are not feminists. I feel it’s then my job to unpack my methodology in using the feminist lens and hopefully we can come to an understanding of where our values differ.

Lastly, I am proud to be a feminist because it creates an inclusive environment of values that I chose to live in. It’s like a boyscout’s badge of all the labels I give myself. I have a knot tying badge, a bird watchers badge, and a tea drinking badge.

My personal wish is this methodology can be systematically written like a cooking recipe for everyone to follow. However the more I study feminism, the more I realise we’re still figuring out the answers as we move along. In some ways, feminism is a forum for discussion so we can figure out the answers together.

Comments From You

BabyDyke // Posted 5 October 2010 at 9:31 pm

I agree with you, and thought I would add that I know many women of colour choose to call themselves womanists as they felt the ‘feminist’ movement focused specifically on white rich women. (Womanist Musings is a good blog that takes this view.)

Jennifer Drew // Posted 5 October 2010 at 10:09 pm

Feminism is a political system wherein women’s rights and women’s issues are central not marginalised. Certainly feminism addresses men as a group but it is from the woman perspective not the dominant male-centric one.

So because feminism is about women and women’s issues it is constantly subjected to attack and claims we are ‘essentalist.’ Just in case anyone forgets women comprise the majority of the human race and are to be located in all subsiduary groups such as differing classes, ethnicities, ages etc. This means women are not a ‘specialist group’ as is claimed by anti-feminists.

Claims made by anti-feminists that feminists are claiming women who do not publicly declare themselves to be ‘feminist’ are supposedly engaging in ‘hating non-feminist women’ is yet another myth created by our male supremacist society. Remember the most successful ploy our patriarchal/male supremacist system consistently uses is to proclaim the myth that all women are either ‘good’ or bad’ and this has proven to be very successful in ensuring the real issues women continue to be subjected to – such as male domination and male control both institutionally and individually, are conveniently side-lined.

Certainly not all women are ‘feminists’ but this does not mean feminists immediately engage in ‘women-hating.’

Our male supremacist society is doing very well promoting women-hating lies and male contempt for women and no, feminism is not about dividing women into two groups – our male supremacist/patriarchal society does excellent work on promoting these lies and has done so for centuries.

Shinila // Posted 5 October 2010 at 10:25 pm

I agree, like in the other thread, if women don’t want to call themselves feminists I don’t have a problem. I *do* get tired with the mealy- mouthed replies used to justify opposition.

Well why not drop the feminist term and move onto womanist? I believe everybody would start calling womanists racist, elitist, exclusivist. People arguing for women’s rights are the underdogs everywhere – no change of term is going to make it more comfortable. I believe it’s the intention to help women people have a problem with, Josephine, not the term feminist. So if ‘feminist’ was dropped, women fighting for women still would get the grief.

Those ‘hairy legged, man-hater’ names will follow to the new term for feminism. It’s almost insane to think changing the term will make anything easier for feminists/ womanists/ ‘people who don’t hate women’. For decades, society after society makes things difficult for women and the people who speak up for their rights. It’s not the name causing the offence, it’s the daring to speak up. Someone who is ardently against this mythical body of feminists for a bunch of wack reasons, IMHO, is anti- feminist.

It’s a harsh term to call someone, anti-feminist, but I don’t know how else it can be used if not for people *refusing* to see the light and good of the women’s rights movement. I don’t think others should be made to feel like Hitler if they then go on to say, if someone is constantly finding problems with feminism – creating obstructions – that they’re also anti- woman. It’s logical sense.

Why I’m against the term feminist though as a woman of colour.. I personally feel more intimidated when speaking amongst feminists than I do with my non-feminist apathetic friends. We might occassionally have a giggle about men over coffee or roll our eyes at obvious sexism. I think feminism needs to become something with unity and hope on the horizon before many become a proud feminist. So far feminism has told me what to do – always to be very liberal, be ashamed, be guilty, be willing to take a lot of crap without responding. If you’re gonna be a feminist, ‘smile’. A lot of shame on youism. I feel I can say less as a feminist, than as a non-feminist. Which sucks. Nothing to do with me being black.. I’ve yet to come across a racist sentiment or exclusion.

I feel Josephine, that although joining a feminist group might seem to offer a place to speak among others thinking the same things – what it instead offers is much heated debate with others who couldn’t be on more different sides of the spectrum. Why don’t I just bang my head on the wall for fun instead?

I personally instead wait for attitude changes within the non-feminist mainstream society – I think that will come sooner than feminists/ womanists/ ‘people who don’t hate women’ substantially banding together.

A very intelligent feminist once said (paraphrasing) it’s wiser to use your time and energy developing ways to survive in a sexist society, than call yourself a feminist and have knives thrown from every direction while you’re walking on eggshells. And for what? We have enough grief as women.

I don’t agree with others who argue and belittle a movement that is benign at the core, and is trying to do it’s best for women. There’s something anti-feminist and suspect, about that.

kinelfire // Posted 6 October 2010 at 9:06 am

If people don’t want to identify as feminist, I’m not going to police their choices. But as one who *does* identify as feminist, it saddens me that so many people seem to be dropping the label (because that’s all it really is) and leaving it to the ones who they think are giving it a bad name.

sianushka // Posted 6 October 2010 at 9:10 am

it’s interesting.

the other day someone posted on our anti hooters blog that we should stop calling ourselves feminists because it gave people a bad impression of us. he then gave all the usual reasons why we feminists are bad and wrong.

we all had a giggle, but then my friend replied to him that whatever name we called ourselves, we would still receive the same criticisms, because fighting for women’s rights and equality is scary, and scares the status quo, and because the easiest way to criticise an ‘out-of-line’ woman is to call her ugly and man hating (deviant?) so if we called ourselves the purple spotted martian movement, but still campaigned to get equality for women, we would still be called the same old names and have the same bullshit thrown our way.

i don’t agree with all feminists or all strands of feminism. often i don;t even agree with women and men in the same strand of feminism as me! feminism is messy sometimes, and there are so many opinions and beliefs within it. and i would never presume that a woman who did not call herself a feminist was anti woman, although i may ask whether she does believe in equality, safety from violence etc and be curious to know why she doesn’t identify. not out of criticism, but to discover more about what feminism means to me, and what equality means to others.

but i have called myself a feminist for years and i proudly hold the label. i love the feeling of community i get, working with other women for feminist aims. it makes me feel stronger, part of something bigger, and as though i am not a sole voice.

Dr H // Posted 6 October 2010 at 10:29 am

I agree that feminist is a dirty word in many circles. As a result, it took me a long time to identify as a feminist for a number of reasons, some of which are different to those detailed in the article.

I am a white, middle class woman in a well paid, highly respected profession. I have experienced mild forms of sexism in my career thus far but nothing that has stopped me from acheiving what I set out to. Thankfully, I have also never experienced any oppression, violence or abuse due to my gender. I felt that other feminists would look down on me- “what do you know about discrimination and oppression?”. As it turns out, they haven’t at all but I think a lot of women and men see feminism as the preserve of those severely abused, oppressed or hurt by gender inequality rather than those who recognise a problem and want to fight against it.

I also did feel that feminism was a movement that excluded men. Having a sexual preference towards men and having one as a life partner, I found the ‘woman awesome, man bad’ attitude of some feminists off putting at best and offensive at worst. Perhaps in the past few years, with the re-flourishing of the movement, this has changed and we have become more inclusive. Perhaps, and more likely, I overexaggerated it in the first place.

The final reason is one I still feel concerned by today despite identifying myself as a feminist. I worry that feminism often behaves like a pressure group in defense of women’s rights with little consideration of anything else. I am concerned about how little debate there is in feminism about the issues of censorship, freedom of expression, rights of unborn foetuses and other such sticky ethical issues that are often used to argue against things a lot of feminists stand for such as the banning of pornography and universal access to terminations of pregnancy. Whenever I have raised these issues with feminists, they have visibly bristled. Feminists should defend women’s rights but should also realise that a lot of people see feminists as blinkered when it comes to ethical issues such as abortion and sex work, with only the ‘feminist dogma’ being acceptable to them. Is someone who is anti-abortion automatically an anti-feminist? I don’t think they should be but as soon as someone expresses the view that abortion is wrong (which before you jump to conclusions, is not the one I hold) it seems that they are denounced as anti-women’s rights rather than being allowed to state their arguement. This seems to be the same for those who are against the banning of pornography and sex work, or who consider rape as something that whilst being reduced, cannot be eradicated.

I, and a large number of other women, want to be a part of a progressive, open and considered movement to destroy gender inequality and abuses committed against women due to their perceived inferior status. I find it dissappointing that some feminists are so against suggestions that in some complex situations some things are more important than individual women’s rights, or at least that these ethical dilemmas are not open and shut cases because there are women involved in them. It is for this reason that I took so long defining myself as a feminist, and from speaking to others, it is why so many other men and women feel they cannot be part of, or would be ostracised, by the feminist movement.

childerowland // Posted 6 October 2010 at 11:38 am

Has anyone actually said that women who don’t identify as feminists are ‘anti-woman’? From what I have seen, most people have said that it’s irritating when women who hold progressive, egalitarian beliefs refuse to identify as feminists, not that those women are ‘anti-woman’.

Going back to the Tess Daly post, Tess Daly can be described as sexist or ‘anti-woman’ because she doesn’t think unequal pay is a problem, not because she refuses to identify as a feminist.

I imagine the vast majority of feminists are more concerned about what people believe and what they do to make a difference than what they choose to identify as.

Dr H said: This seems to be the same for those who are against the banning of pornography and sex work, or who consider rape as something that whilst being reduced, cannot be eradicated.

I am against prostitution – it doesn’t mean I’m in favour of banning it. Nor are many feminists. Most appear to be in favour of decriminalisation. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a feminist who is anti-porn and prostitution who thinks that to simply ban them is the solution. As for your last sentence – ok, yes, I am sure rape will always be around because there will always be nasty people in existence. There’s no way around that. Has any feminist actually ever said ‘one day there will be NO rape! Definitely NO rape at all!’ It seems to me that you’re really searching for reasons to not call yourself a feminist.

Tab // Posted 6 October 2010 at 11:46 am

All this discussion about the terminology has made me wonder if it’d be useful to distinguish between feminists and Feminists, the same way we’d, say, distinguish between a conservative and a Conservative.

A feminist is just someone who believes in gender equality. A Feminist is someone who sees themselves as part of the Feminist movement. You can have all kinds of justified dissatisfaction with the state of Feminism, but have feminist principles.

That said, I have heard it asked why being opposed to sexism needs a special name, and fighting racism, homophobia, ablism, ageism or the likes doesn’t; can we just get away with calling ourselves anti-sexists?

It doesn’t help that the name ‘feminism’ implies it’s a women-only thing, when men and non-binary-gendered people also have an important role to play in fighting sex discrimination and stereotyping. Do you think we’ll be able to get more past the radars of reactionaries if we say and do the same things but don’t mention The Dreaded F-Word?

EmilyBites // Posted 6 October 2010 at 12:08 pm

I am proud to call myself a feminist, and I do feel a sense of community with other women fighting for women’s liberation. Here comes my impassioned defence of feminism in all its woman-loving forms!

Most of what passes for sensible, reasonable opposition to a label that denotes terrible things is just propagation of the lies the media has spread about feminism since it began. Examples:

Dr H

I have never met a feminist who advocated ‘the banning of pornography’, but I’ve met lots of anti-feminists who love to trot out this strawwoman.

Similarly, anti-feminists regularly say to me that ‘feminism often behaves like a pressure group in defense of women’s rights with little consideration of anything else’. What about teh menz! What about the economy! What about world peace! As though feminists aren’t advocating for a fairer world for everyone. How long does the subjugation of MORE THAN HALF THE HUMAN RACE have to take a backseat to ‘more important’ issues? I belong to several pressure groups advocating for women’s rights, and that is no bad thing!

@Shinila

It’s awful that you feel that feminism has told you to ‘be ashamed, be guilty, be willing to take a lot of crap without responding. If you’re gonna be a feminist, ‘smile’. A lot of shame on youism.’

No one can perfectly live up to their ideals, and sometimes I’m conscious that what I’m doing is not feminist, but I try not to beat myself up about not being a paragon of feminist virtue. Plus, I thought being a feminist meant that you stop taking the crap and don’t have to smile!

There’s no such thing as feminist ‘dogma’, and there’s a diverse community of feminists who believe different things, but I’m proud to stick up for the name during this decades-long smear campaign, because taking on another name would only give misogynists and the ill-informed something else to hate.

A classic anti-women’s rights tactic is to tell us that no one can’t argue with our message, but our methods and image are preventing us gaining support, and that we are are our own worst enemies.

Knickers to that.

Milly // Posted 6 October 2010 at 12:45 pm

I see ‘feminist’ as a handy shortcut, a mostly-understood description of someone who actively supports gender equality.

Ps – all scouts can collect badges, not just the boys…

Josephine Tsui // Posted 6 October 2010 at 1:32 pm

I collected badges, I’m not a boy.

gadgetgal // Posted 6 October 2010 at 2:08 pm

Hi Josephine – really good piece, long overdue I think! Like childerowland I’ve also never heard anyone say someone who claims to not be a feminist is “anti-feminist”, in fact until I moved to the UK I never heard any woman claim to not be a feminist! It puzzled me, but women’s equality in this country has taken much more of a battering from the media than a lot of other places, so it’s no wonder a lot of women don’t fancy proclaiming themselves one – it seems to me that people automatically get taken less seriously when they do because it’s become such a no-no!

I have to admit it does irritate me a little when women (or anyone, really) who has very modern/progressive views on equality says they’re not a feminist, mainly because it strikes me that they probably don’t really understand what the word means. But its the same to me when people call themselves “feminist allies” instead of feminists because they’re not women so as not to offend – it shouldn’t offend anyone, I think you can be any sex or gender and still be a feminist.

I’m a proud feminist and I see nothing wrong with that. The movement(s) in general have their issues and differences, but what movement doesn’t? My uncle was a part of the early gay rights movement which was hardly inclusive of anyone except middle class white men, but instead of disowning it he and others tried to make it more inclusive instead. I don’t think dropping out, or denying it vociferously when anyone questioned him, or making up a new word for it would have helped much – feminism is here, it’s a good idea, some elements of the wider movement need to be changed, so lets do that instead of leaving and waiting for something that sounds better to come along!

Jen // Posted 6 October 2010 at 2:32 pm

I think, to maybe recentre this discussion, you all need to remember that a lot of women reject the ‘feminist’ nomenclature after having been involved with it, on the basis of what they have seen and know about the actual movement, not because they’ve ‘believed the lies of the media’ or need a crash course in feminism 101.

Personally I would not reject the idea ‘feminism’, as in the theory that there is a socially-constructed feminine on the basis of which women (among others) become second-class citizens.

As for what terms itself the feminist movement and purports to be carrying on the good work of everyone who’s ever worked for women’s rights, I inherently distrust it precisely because of this. I think women in general can be easily forgiven for doing so, and I think they would be very shrewd. Perhaps they’re approaching the problem from the point of view that a celebrity-endorsed identity, or a largely entertainment-centred subculture, or a consumer pressure group (the three main facets of this mainstream feminist movement) isn’t going to have anything to offer them. Perhaps they don’t trust a group of people who would presume to be carrying on the works and taking on the historical importance of Emmeline Pankhurst. Perhaps they don’t trust anyone who is quite happy to accept the title of ‘saviour of modern womanhood’ when it’s awarded.

Maybe they just don’t like being patronised, or included and tolerated, as ‘inclusion’ and ‘tolerance’ is usually just a way to tick folks off a list so you no longer have to bother with them.

Maybe they like being treated as people not identities.

Maybe they just don’t like the evangelical branch of feminism that’s so keen to badger them into taking on the identity. You have to think of the cost of taking on such a thing, also. Maybe the Feminist Majority Foundation just doesn’t appeal, and its attempts to portray a full range of women in their promotional materials are seen as pretty insulting.

There are a number of things that might stop people from calling themselves feminists. I don’t think it’s even that important that lots of people do call themselves that.

Either way, you’re not going to win them over by suggesting that if they don’t call themselves feminists they need a remedial course on the subject or they’re free to ask you any questions if they need to learn more about feminism. That’s making a heck of a huge assumption regarding what their reasons might be.

Dr H // Posted 6 October 2010 at 2:47 pm

I would just like to clarify the points people have taken offense to.

What I meant by behaving like a pressure group was not to say that there should not be pressure groups for women’s rights and other feminist issues. I was suggesting that the feminist movement as a whole sometimes fights so hard for women’s rights without looking at, and discussing, some of the issues that are put forward on the other side of debates such as the sanctity of life or the rights of unborn foetuses. This can be perceived by others as being intolerant or oblivious to other viewpoints on controversial issues and could prevent people wanting to identify as feminists. This is certainly the case with a number of my friends.

I also realise there is no ‘feminist dogma’. Feminism is not homogenous and has a variety of views within it. I just think that there are some issues where it sometimes feels that if you don’t agree, you aren’t a fully signed up feminist.

Since the inception of modern feminism in the ’60’s there has been an anti-porn movement – it started with Andrea Dworkin and her contempories and continues today. It has been one of the branches of feminism that has gained some of the most publicity and, in turn, critism. The campaigns for better conviction rates for sexual assaults and rapes, anti-trafficking and the like get significantly less. Therefore, it is what a lot of people with little knowledge about feminism think of when they think ‘feminist’ which puts plenty off the idea.

I am in no way searching for reasons not to be a feminist – I am a feminist and very proud of it too. I was simply trying to make a contribution to a discussion of why other people don’t want to identify as feminists. Unfortunately, as I often do, I wrote a rambling post that aired my occasional frustrations with the movement.

Josephine Tsui // Posted 6 October 2010 at 3:33 pm

I’d like to add, there are women who are contributing to the feminist cause and are now feeling against the title Feminist based on the criticisms they have received from the feminist communities!

Best example is Belle de Jour who is really frustrated at being bombarded by feminist rants about her lifestyle. See here: http://belledejour-uk.blogspot.com/2010_03_01_archive.html

Katherine // Posted 6 October 2010 at 3:55 pm

I would hesitate to identify myself as ‘A Feminist’, although I certainly do identify with certain of the traditional and topical feminist issues (e.g. abortion, birth control and the right to choose, education for all, equal pay etc.). A large part of my reasoning for this would be down to the very real stigma of labelling oneself as a feminist within the workplace, and within society as a whole. Like it or not, it is probably more socially acceptable these days, to be ‘out’ as a lesbian, than as a feminist. In a very patriarchal working environment, the prejudice will tend to label anyone so obviously political as a potential troublemaker within the corporate machine, and someone to be suspected of subversion, closely watched and carefully managed. Being a modern feminist is perhaps viewed in a similar light to being an anarchist back in the seventies. Regarding the issue of the label itself, given the level of spin inherent to modern life, I do not feel in this instance that changing the brand name will have a significant effect on public perception of the product.

Maddy // Posted 6 October 2010 at 5:35 pm

So much to say but so little time. I came here after listening to the Analysis programme about feminism and the affect of the budget cuts [yes, please judicial review] but I can’t have an opinion because I’m in the States now.

But one young woman [I forget her name – sorry] said how her mother had worked full time and relied up ‘financial aid from the government’ to get her where she is today.

Having been both a single parent in the UK and now a stay at home mum in the States [where there is also a huge public debate over financial assistance] it seems that the issue of raising children still disproportionately affects some women today even though in the 60’s our mother’s hoped for a different outcome.

However, [off topic] I was also shocked to hear a piece on Woman’s Hour [Person’s Hour?] as Dr. H mentioned above – about public protests outside an abortion clinic.[a common phenomenon out here] Whilst they may not seem related in any way, it struck me as an alarming ‘trend’ of marginalization.

crystal // Posted 6 October 2010 at 5:57 pm

Dr H I do not think any of your comments offensive. What i do not understand is why some feminist do not understand that the movement is not perfect, it has flaws that some women can’t just get over. i think everything Jen said about why certain women may not identify as feminist is completely true.

Although i do agree that all feminist do not think alike and share the same opinions, i do feel that unless you do not agree with certain things you are not a full feminist. Abortion has always been a tricky subject for me because i think the value of an unborn fetus is something feminist does not talk about. Prostitution is another, unless if it is something negative feminist do not talk about it.

Brooke Magnanti (otherwise known as belle de jour) is an example of why some women do not call themselves feminists. It is almost like if you do not follow a set of rules you are not really a feminist.

nell // Posted 6 October 2010 at 6:16 pm

i read the blog by belle de jour and i think it is horrible that she was treated that way by other feminists. she does not think of herself as victim and does not regret having sex with men for money so of course she is not a feminist

A J // Posted 6 October 2010 at 8:21 pm

I think Kiri’s blog is really interesting. In fact, I think I agree with quite a lot of it.

Not necessarily about not using the term feminism. But that feminism (or at least *F*eminism) so often seems to presume a set view on so many issues, and be exceedingly hostile to view outside of these.

I think the F Word does a good job on the whole of trying to give a wider set of viewpoints, but even then, its a relatively narrow spectrum.

There is still often an underlying assumption that: sex bad, porn bad, men bad, capitalism bad, money bad, sex work bad, anal sex REALLY bad, marriage bad, sport bad, Tories bad, flirting bad, looking good bad, and so on and so on…

Of course I’m exaggerating. Well, about some of them.

But I do think that feminism all too often comes with far too much political baggage that had little to do with the core aspects reasons for feminism to exist. And it CERTAINLY all too often lacks tolerance for even considering alternative viewpoints.

I think that does put a lot of people off. For better or worse (I think worse) feminism is too often dominated by those on the extremes, or who shout the loudest. When people think of feminism, they think of Julie Bindel. And that’s a massive problem.

I do wonder whether creating a new, more inclusive term might be a better option. One that recognises that perhaps it’s possible to want to fight gender inequality while voting Tory, liking men, having a well-paying job, not wanting to ban pornography, thinking that legalising prostitution would help those involved, watching male sport without feeling guilty about it, and maybe even (shock horror!) enjoying anal sex.

(Though possibly not all at the same time… ;)

Maybe not. Maybe feminism can become more diverse. I don’t know, but I think it’s a problem worth examining.

polly // Posted 6 October 2010 at 10:41 pm

Women’s liberationist here. I don’t think ‘feminist’ says it clearly enough.

Jess McCabe // Posted 6 October 2010 at 11:17 pm

@A J Really glad you feel we’re covering a wider set of viewpoints; that’s definitely a big overarching goal for The F-Word, and always has been…

Just want to respond to some of this list though:

There is still often an underlying assumption that: sex bad, porn bad, men bad, capitalism bad, money bad, sex work bad, anal sex REALLY bad, marriage bad, sport bad, Tories bad, flirting bad, looking good bad, and so on and so on… Of course I’m exaggerating. Well, about some of them.

Particularly about sex and flirting!

One of the many experiences that led me to feminism as a teenager was being on the receiving end of slut shaming, for actually liking sex, acting on that, etc. Feminism articulated ideas like the double standard, as well as ideas about enthusiastic consenting sex and the options for different sorts of relationships.

Personally, I don’t recognise this notion that feminism is at all anti-sex.

Feminists have been responsible for some really interesting writing and other activism on sex, sexuality, relationships. But obviously it is also absolutely key to talk about the reality of sexual violence, the dodgy ideas around consent and sex in our culture, as part of a feminist discourse on sex.

I don’t think that feminists I’ve encountered are actually anti sex of whatever type, or anti flirting. Some are opposed to exploitation of women (and others) in porn and prostitution/sex work, but not coming from an ‘anti-sex’ position.

Actually, I was working for ages on a feminist sex resource list that never got finished; maybe I will dust the project off and try and update it and finally get it online.

I know you mentioned some other stuff too; I think if you search on the site you’ll find some coverage of sport, mention of women with well-paying jobs, articles with a variety of views on prostitution and porn…

Laurel Dearing // Posted 6 October 2010 at 11:51 pm

i think maybe thats where the difference discussed above between feminism and Feminism comes in… i think all self-defined women or anyone who has been brought up as a woman should be able to call themselves feminist if they wish. its asserting you care about womens rights and sexism. but as for the Feminist movement, that varies from country to country and different movements. neoliberal, Conservative and individualist feminism really is quite separate both from the main movement and most groups that embody feminism, because Feminism involves a lot of intersectionality, and areas like this which wish to be a safe space rather than primarily debating, censor not because of disagreement, but because of possible upset caused to most members if their rights are dismissed, or questioned. (im thinking the pro-life thing, though im not sure i agree with it not being posted at all!) however, i think that if someone is pro-life for religious reasons (even if thats no reason to push it on others unless you push the rest of it as well) then i think itd be a shame to throw away the rest of feminism and womans rights just because the british/western movement isnt really suited to them. Id like to think we would support each other on the things we do agree on. as for other countries… im fein to take away either feminism OR Feminism away from women fighting very hard for womens rights in other countries where there are more urgent and possibly deadly things to fight, regardless of whether i think they would suit british Feminism. Thats without addressing the attribution of male feminists or pro-feminists lol. i have my own way of judging that!

Jen // Posted 7 October 2010 at 8:43 am

Katherine,

“A large part of my reasoning for this would be down to the very real stigma of labelling oneself as a feminist within the workplace, and within society as a whole. Like it or not, it is probably more socially acceptable these days, to be ‘out’ as a lesbian, than as a feminist.”

I really, really don’t think that’s true. As a queer/lesbian/dyke/whatever (not comfortable with either of those identities particularly, but the alternative is to be overly graphic), thinking about coming out, the main thing that’s stopped me is that (a) I don’t know who among my family and friends is going to stop talking to me, (b) I don’t know how coworkers are going to treat me if any differently, and (c) whenever they find out someone’s a lesbian it’s always a punchline. For instance, I remember this woman where I used to work before, watching our boss debating this other woman on YouTube, and the other woman was middle-aged, with kind of a short back and sides, squary skirt suit and square glasses, and my colleague was all ‘is that a woman? maybe she’s a lesbian’. It was a fairly liberal, clued-in work environment, too. I’ve worked places where they’re not so careful about keeping the equal opportunities forms anonymous also, not deliberately, but I can see it having a negative impact. Certainly, I don’t see calling yourself a feminist as a ‘coming out’. The thing with coming out as gay is that it’s not a once in a lifetime thing and then it’s done – it’s constant. It’s very personal and intimate. Probably with some people it’s going to give them mental pictures about you they’d rather not have. People aren’t going to just think you’re a bit eccentric or poke fun at you, they are going to disown and shun you, sometimes beat you up – either for being with a woman, or if they’re on the other side of the fence, for remaining with a male partner – I mean, the lesbian ‘scene’ seems understandably incredibly defensive in some ways, and then very culturally imperialist in others. Then there’s the more practical stuff. If you’ve ever worked for a solicitor, you get to hear what people say when they put down the phones after talking to one half of a lesbian couple about her mortgage agreement, and it’s not pretty. A lot of lesbians are also relatively poverty-stricken, especially in lower-paid jobs, simply because women earn less, a single woman on her own will find it hard to make ends meet in a less than middle-class job, and a homosexual couple doesn’t have the same legal status as a heterosexual couple, even more so when the couple if composed of women, because women are usually in more precarious situations than men.

My not calling myself a feminist is nothing to do with ‘coming out’ or ‘not coming out’ as one. It has nothing to do with how controversial it is. If some fuckwit is telling me that women should be kept pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen you can bet I will wail on him verbally. If anything, the content of feminism will have more effect on him than the idea that he’s being disagreed with by a feminist.

Besides, I’ve come across people in a work environment who bring up that they’re feminists at totally inappropriate times – simply because you’re discussing something where their identity is irrelevant and the work at hand is what’s relevant. I know someone who is a feminist because she thinks men are silly and women as individuals should be all, like, *fist pump*. Then I know people who get down and do the work, and don’t bring their political alignment into it, work which as it happens involves defending women’s rights to a substantial degree.

And, the more celebrity endorsement, subculture and identity are brought into it, the more ridiculous it’s going to seem when people call themselves feminists, and they’re going to get laughed at same as if their skirt got stuck in their tights. But don’t you ever, ever compare that to the stigma that is still attached to being homosexual. Sure, it might be more acceptable for a celebrity to be out, but that’s because everything about the public face of a celebrity is a spectacle, and we can say it’s really brave of them to come out, and in the end for us it’s a substitute for having to do the work with real people. But that has its fairly devastating implications for the person behind that public spectacle too.

Jess,

“Feminists have been responsible for some really interesting writing and other activism on sex, sexuality, relationships. But obviously it is also absolutely key to talk about the reality of sexual violence, the dodgy ideas around consent and sex in our culture, as part of a feminist discourse on sex.

I don’t think that feminists I’ve encountered are actually anti sex of whatever type, or anti flirting. Some are opposed to exploitation of women (and others) in porn and prostitution/sex work, but not coming from an ‘anti-sex’ position”

I really don’t entirely disagree with you. But at the same time, take the ‘no Hooters’ campaign. I don’t disagree with them that women shouldn’t have to sign a work contract allowing customers to twiddle them while they’re working. But it seems like the most visible part of feminism isn’t interested in defending women’s rights until women’s naughty bits are being defiled. That’s what comes of all the activism centring around ‘anti-porn’, ‘anti-sexual exploitation’. It seems that whatever happens to women, until a man is getting a rock on over it it doesn’t matter. Almost as though, as long as women’s *virtue* is intact, then their rights also are. It probably isn’t what the campaigners would say, and it isn’t exactly their party line, but it’s the end result. I’m sure they’d tell me it’s so women can enjoy an equal and mutually-enriching wonderful sex life and live happily ever after fucking merrily away under rainbows with lots of woodland creatures watching. But that’s more or less what fundamentalist Evangelical Christians would tell you too (okay, replace the rainbows and woods with the marital home and *cut to curtains blowing in the wind! now! befor the children see!*, but basically the same idea. There’s also a feeling that feminism is anti-porn and no disagreement may be broached with this position. And that’s the other thing. Lots of women have had positive experiences with porn, and won’t feel anti-porn. Kat Banyard mentioned in that Guardian interview being slightly shocked that the men around her used porn when she went to uni, but she is in a minority. Personally – seeing chicks who look like me considered desirable, that’s not something I would find in Marie-Claire or Cosmo or in my mum’s collection of Good Housekeeping magazines. Seeing what a vagina looks like up close? Plus I get the feeling that a lot of anti-porn activists haven’t actually watched any (I mean, if they’re so horrified by it, why would they?). I’ve clicked on links from feminist blogs, not terribly extreme ‘I’m really fucking radical watch out’ ones either, saying ‘attention the following link is vile disgusting pornography’ and it’s been a picture of a woman in a fairly covering négligée. At the end of the day, if feminists are pointing at a woman’s body because it is excessively uncovered and she’s slim and athletic, or if they’re pointing at any woman’s body at all, and exclaiming ‘eeeeeeewwww porn gross men’s rock ons eeeewwwww start a campaign now to ban it! ban it! ban it!’, you know, like there’s a spider crawled out from behind the TV and they’re standing on a chair looking for a The Complete Oxford English Dictionary to drop on it, I think there’s a huge problem.

And I’m sure there are loads of feminist writings on sex and sexuality that aren’t like that. Thing is, they are drowned out or just erased from existence. But the fact is, a lot about women’s rights is going to be mundane and boring. Unless it has a gigantic pair of scandalous knockers that someone is desperately trying to throw a burlap sack over, then it draws a crowd.

What clinches it for me, actually, is all this desperately trying to advertise the identity and impose it on as many women as possible, or not impose so much, but push it certainly. I’m thinking if they want the wrapping paper so badly, I’m happy to keep the cake that was inside.

And there’s a flipside to this too. Say some Feminist Majority Foundation people walk in and tell you ‘do you believe that X…? Okay, then you’re a feminist!’, their idea is that most of the meat and the substance behind the word ‘feminism’ is accepted and everyone believes in it. If that were the case, women would be equal. You say that to a bunch of trans women of colour, they’re going to be accutely aware that this isn’t the case, or else the shining symbols of women’s equality that are being held up are going to be less relevant to them than, say, becoming employed at all, or not dying, or not getting beaten up on the way home from buying milk. I got a little offended when I read what Katherine had to say about being feminist being less accepted than being a lesbian (there is at least one self-identified feminist where I work; she happens to be the one I least want to come out to for several good reasons). I can imagine what some less fortunate women than myself would feel if some messianic envoy from a feminist organisation arrives and she is so steeped in money and status as to practically glow in the dark, she pats you on the shoulder and says ‘we’re all in the same boat!’, they’re going to be a bit pissed to say the least.

electrodub1 // Posted 7 October 2010 at 10:04 am

@Jennifer Drew

“Certainly feminism addresses men as a group but it is from the woman perspective not the dominant male-centric one.

So because feminism is about women and women’s issues it is constantly subjected to attack and claims we are ‘essentalist.’ Just in case anyone forgets women comprise the majority of the human race and are to be located in all subsiduary groups such as differing classes, ethnicities, ages etc. This means women are not a ‘specialist group’ as is claimed by anti-feminists.”

I think I’ll leave a reposte from the greatest feminism thinker of all time Judith Butler: ‘There is no gender identity behind the expressions of gender… identity is performatively constituted by the very ‘expressions’ that are said to be its results. ‘

There is no such thing as ‘male-centric or female-centric’ attitudes, they are merely synthetically constructed self-perpetuating fallacies. Ditch the binary, it’s 2010.

Josephine asked me to redirect this from the last thread.

@JenniferRuth

“If you don’t want to call yourself a feminist, that’s totally fine,

but don’t do it *just because* there are other women out there with

contrary ideas to you that also call themselves feminists. There is

room in feminism for everyone. If anyone tells you different, they’re

wrong.”

I think maybe the point though was that certain woman don’t identify

with feminism because *some feminists* actively exclude them with their

ideologies rather than just differ in opinion with them. I mean take

transphobia for example; Feminism In London 2009 was basically shamed

into not discriminating against trans woman at the last minute but is

this years event really any more inclusive? Theres a multitude of

workshops and events but not a single one (correct if I might have

overlooked something) that is dedicated issues facing transgender

people at a time when the statistical data available (Helen G has

posted various articles here) highlighting the fact that discrimination

faced by trans woman (in relation to domestic abuse, violent crime and

job discrimination) is far more acute that than the discrimination cis

woman have to deal with. I agree with your point though, I think anyone

regardless of gender or biological sex who doesn’t identify with

feminism is misguided, thats all the more reason to challenge those

that have a monopoly over the term due to their positions of power.

Diana // Posted 7 October 2010 at 11:01 am

I think and have always thought that feminism/womanism is all about women/anyone who identifies as a woman, having equal rights and opportunities to men, and not being discriminated against in any way because of their gender. Anyone who has a problem with women having equal rights/opportunities is obviously anti women’s rights, surely? What is SO bloody complicated?!

coldharbour // Posted 7 October 2010 at 11:56 am

Just for clarification the electrodub1 post was me I reversed the Name/Email by mistake. oops!

Jess McCabe // Posted 7 October 2010 at 2:58 pm

Part of the problem here is an idea of feminism as a single ideology, which seems far from my experience: of feminism as a shifting, rich discourse of many voices.

coldharbour // Posted 7 October 2010 at 4:05 pm

@Jess

This is very true however some voices are more equal than others. Take the issue of sex-work for example; as we know on here there are a multitude of opinions regarding the subject but at events like Feminism In London 2009 any voice advocating any form of decriminalization was totally banned. If you were a young woman new to feminism at that event would you walk away thinking there was a diversity of opinion regarding the matter in feminist circles? Like I said, some large powerful organizations have act like they have monopoly over the term and to some degree they do.

Jen // Posted 7 October 2010 at 6:00 pm

Jess,

“Part of the problem here is an idea of feminism as a single ideology, which seems far from my experience: of feminism as a shifting, rich discourse of many voices. ”

I don’t think anyone really is claming that the feminism they are against tells the whole story. I’m certainly not. But equally the ‘rich discourse of many voices’ bothers me as well. There are ‘voices’ in feminism with which I want no part. I just don’t think we have any goals in common. I want to hear them cause they’re women and therefore relevant, but I certainly don’t want to be part of any ‘rich discourse’ along with their ‘voices’. For instance, there is a portion of feminism that is transphobic, and really I can’t look at that and think ‘live and let live’. There’s a part that’s kind of aligned with European pagan traditions in a way I find slightly white supremacist and I don’t want anything to do with that either. There’s lesbian separatism and any degree of political lesbianism, and I’m not going to retain my sanity, never mind my temper, if I consider them to be a voice in a rich discourse I’m also part of. That’s not what they are. To me, as people they’re fine, they’re probably very sincere and invested, but they are my political ennemies (well and as for the transphobic element, actually, I find what they do completely dastardly and unforgivable).

Then there are people who are positioned or position themselves as leaders, who capitalise on whatever is flavour of the month, and if that is transphobia or whatever they’ll go with it and write about it for whatever publication. That I find even more unforgivable.

There’s nothing more frustrating than to speak out against, as in actually *against*, all that shit, only to be positioned as ‘wow, another rich voice in a great discourse!’ alongside them. Plus there is lots that is rotten in feminism and women within the movement do suffer for it, and when they speak out you can’t just ‘include’ them and pretend they’re just another voice but they can drown and there needn’t be any ripples at the surface.

There is a power structure – pretending we’re already all equals, within or without the feminist movement, is a huge problem. Pretending there’s no power structure and that all the voices can ring out in this beautiful symphony and – again with the rainbows and bunnies -. This is going to see a lot of people hurt, many of them vulnerable people whose vulnerability attracted them to feminism in the first place. So understandably they’re going to want to get out while they still have their minds to some degree. What’s more – in my experience these more marginalised people are often dispersed from each other which ensures that, a lot of the time, they’re going to just think they’re a lone crazy voice out there. Their only means of communicating can’t be just some ‘inclusive’, ‘diverse’ space that wants to tick them off a list and it will be like they never said anything, just got collected like butterflies.

Doesn’t this, like many feminist conversations, come up every few years and every time it’s like we’re all surprised and it’s the first time it’s ever come up? That’s part of the problem I think. There’s a lot of denial going on here. ‘wow, some women actually don’t want to be called feminists? leaving the movement? first I’ve heard about it! shocking!’ Only so many times you can be shocked, really.

carlo // Posted 7 October 2010 at 6:31 pm

As a man i’d like to ask what’s so bad about being labelled a “feminist”?

I see feminism as a movement of people who want a more just and fair society. That’s all.

I’m always told im not allowed to call myself a feminist though as a straight, white middle class male. But why not? My mother is a feminist. I agree with a lot of feminist ideology.

Why cant men (irrespective of colour, age, race, creed etc) not call themselves feminists?

As a person im passionate and was brought up to always question things i didnt agree with. I think great women get on it and out protesting at street level, blogging etc. Our society is becoming so passive and apathetic. To stand up and say no **** you i disagree is seen as unfashionable.

More power to feminism i say.

Josephine Tsui // Posted 7 October 2010 at 10:26 pm

Here Here Carlo.

Good points.

Lorna Gregory // Posted 7 October 2010 at 10:59 pm

Interesting that you mention Belle de Jour. Personally I would not like to aline myself with such a person. I feel she has helped to normalised the buying of sex. Which I think has a negative affect on women in general in our society.

In the peice you linked to she says

“I’ve tried to give a shit about maternity leave and who does the housework, and all I can come up with is, if your job doesn’t give you as much time off as you want, suck it up or get another job. If your partner doesn’t do the washing up, same. Why this need to publish endless tomes on the subject?”.

She is in an incredibly priverlaged position, most people can’t just get another job and lots of people find that no matter how often they change their partner they still do most of the housework. She certainly doesn’t understand the phrase “the personal is political”.

She then adds

“It seems a pretty lame preoccupation when there are still eight countries in the world where a woman can legally be put to death for adultery.”

I agree feminists need to campaign for womens rights in places where women have almost no rights. But does this mean we should say “yay, I’m not being killed for adultery, better not make any more demands”.

Feminist should not be using dirty tatics to attack her (which she claims they have) but there is no reason for feminist not critersising her actions – by which I mean her blog, the publication of her book and the following TV series.

Josephine Tsui // Posted 8 October 2010 at 8:07 am

Hi Jen,

I have not published your comments. It was a personal attack on a fellow commenter and myself.

You are allowed to disagree constructively, however personal attacks violate the comments policy.

Be nice and feel free to try again!

Josephine

Rosalind // Posted 8 October 2010 at 12:11 pm

This is an argument I have so often with my loved ones. My partner especially questions why I would ally myself with a movement I have issues with.

But it is BECAUSE feminism is considered a dirty word and BECAUSE people misunderstand what it means: It makes me more determined to attempt unity.

If I tell someone I’m a feminist and they say they don’t define as such because of (for example) Feminism’s history of racism I can understand that.

If someone tells me (as someone did last week) that they are not feminist because they believe in equality for all and that feminism is just about pushing women’s interests above men’s then I don’t accept that as a reason. Because their dismissal of feminism is based on a fallacy.

Personally, in physical life at least, I have never heard anyone say they weren’t a feminist after being involved in the movement or knowing a lot of feminists. Only the second type who were just ignorant about what feminism is/ can be (and usually unwilling to listen to alternative definitions of feminism).

gadgetgal // Posted 8 October 2010 at 12:48 pm

This has been a really interesting discussion (if a bit heated at times) – it’s good to see so many people giving the notion of feminism another once-over, I find it’s good to really think about how I feel about it occasionally and whether my views have changed or need to be updated!

From what I’ve read here feminism (with the lower-case “f”) really IS made up of a lot of people with varying points of view. So I think if the reasons a person doesn’t want to use the word is because they didn’t like a feminist they met once, or an organisation they belonged to didn’t agree with them on a major issue, or it didn’t meet their expectations in their actions, then maybe this will show that feminists can come in all shapes and sizes, with many differing viewpoints.

Quite frankly even a lot of Feminist organisations don’t represent the majority of people who call themselves feminist, since the organisations don’t have the membership of even a fraction of the people in this country who identify as feminists! And I think that seems to be the issue that some people seem to be identifying here – that those organisations have the clout to be heard, but they don’t represent them on a lot of issues or their particular focus isn’t what many would want. And that’s a problem – to me feminism (still with the lower-case!) is about equality and being treated fairly, and in some ways that’s being forgotten and the word is being co-opted to a certain extent (I’m thinking of the names Bindel and Palin here!). Doesn’t make me want to stop calling myself one, I still feel that for me that would smack of running away and letting someone else steal my identity, but it definitely makes me feel like the original intentions of it need to be reclaimed somehow! It just seems wrong that an entire generation of people are now growing up and rejecting it based upon the opinions of people who never really liked or understood it in the first place!

I find once I explain to people how many viewpoints there are in feminism they tend to say eventually “Oh, well, if that’s what feminism is then I probably AM one” but I have to say I’m getting a little tired of having to explain it every time I utter the word – any ideas on how to reclaim it? I can now say I’m Jewish without people immediately mentioning princesses or moneylenders, there must be a way to get them out of the “all-feminists-hate-sex-and-men-and-boobies” thing!!!

Maia // Posted 8 October 2010 at 1:21 pm

I agree with Diana’s comment above, what is so complicated? Feminism is indeed surely about equal rights and opportunities for anyone identifying as a woman? And anyone who has a problem with women having equal rights and opportunities of any kind is not a feminist. Also, re. Dr H’s comment, I don’t personally like the idea of termination. That doesn’t mean I would ever argue with any woman’s right to have one if she so chose. That’s the difference between feminism and non-feminism!

crystal // Posted 8 October 2010 at 4:32 pm

Lorna Gregory would you feel the same way about belle de jour if she was an ex prostitute who hated it and was describing her traumatic time as a prostitute. . She has said that when girls tell her that they want to do the same job, she discourages them. she does not want people thinking it is an ideal job at all. i think people forget that she did not want all this publicity, she wanted to stay anonymous.

She has not normalized the buying of sex in the slightest, prostitution has been going on before her and will continue to go on after her. When i think of prostitution i do not think of it as an ideal job because of how the media portrays the workers and the life style, after watching her show i do not think differently. i think it has made people view prostitution in a different light and that is not negative thing.

here are some links to some great youtube videos on prostitution and feminism.

http://www.youtube.com/user/ZOMGitsCriss#p/u/13/2TdEYqOZY_E

http://www.youtube.com/user/ZOMGitsCriss#p/u/11/AcZaER_5CPw

Lorna Gregory // Posted 8 October 2010 at 6:06 pm

Crystal: You’re are right, I probably wouldn’t.

But she is in an incredibly priverlaged position and presenting a very narrow view of prositution. She was not compelled by circumstance to become a prostitute, lots of PhD students get a bar job (or teaching work if they are lucky) if they run out of funding. Many other prositutes are not there by choice (supposedly 89% want to leave prostitution) and are having an awful time. As such I feel it is deply immoral to pay for sex i.e. you are damaging people . By publishing her highly priverlaged sanitised experience of prostitution I beleive she has made paying for sex far more acceptable.

crystal // Posted 8 October 2010 at 9:09 pm

So what if she comes from a privileged background, it is her body and she has a much right to talk about her experience as a prostitute as anyone else. She has never claimed that her experience as a prostitute is the same as other women in t he industry. She is just a woman who wrote her experience in a blog , the same as Zoe Margolis who wrote girl with a one track mind. i doubt that you would call Zoe immoral for sleeping with so many men.

marie // Posted 8 October 2010 at 9:29 pm

.i agree with crystal i changed my opinion on the sex industry when my friend told me she was a stripper. Before that day i had always viewed stripping as a seedy degrading job and was very surprised when my clever and very beautiful friend told me about it. i was sad for her but after going to the club and talking to her manager (who is btw very nice) and actually seeing her at work i was so shocked at how professional and unsleazy it was. she earned a staggering 1 thousand pounds in two days. in the American movies there are the fat old disgusting guys trying to touch up the girls while shoving 1 dollar bills in their knickers, that was not how it was in this club. i am not suggesting that it is all like this i am just saying that it is not all the same. i would never work as a stripper (for religious reasons) but it has opened my eyes and helped me understand that you cannot judge every situation the same.

Orna Gadish // Posted 8 October 2010 at 10:00 pm

Josephine, Certainly to be declared a feminist, and certainly if you have a say. Feminism, as an an umbrella philosophy of various schools and streams has room for critical thought, challenge and doubt such as yours.

coldharbour // Posted 8 October 2010 at 11:15 pm

@Lorna

“By publishing her highly priverlaged sanitised experience of prostitution I beleive she has made paying for sex far more acceptable.”

So what you are saying is that the only discourse or experience that should be available to the public is ones that sway people towards your specific political opinions? I think that falls well within the paradigms of totalitarianism. At least your honest though, I’ve more respect for that line than being involved in makey-upy ‘studies’ by Julie Bindel and her flat earth cronies.

Lorna Gregory // Posted 9 October 2010 at 12:15 am

Ok. I’ll put my hands on the table and say I would rather that the sex industry as a money making enterprise did not exist (this does not mean I’m anti-porn in theory but in practise it probably does). My reasons for wanting an end to the sex industry are as follows:

*I feel it gives an unrealistic and unhelpful impression of female sexuality.

*It enslaves of many men, women and children.

*It encourages the objectification of women (and men) which I beleive helps to perpetuates sexism within our society

*It encourages people to view partnered sex as a right rather than something people do together for mutual enjoyment.

Since Zoe Margolis is not involved in the sex industry, I have no real interest.

I guess this should be my last comment on Belle de Jour as we are supposed to be discussing reasons we or other people might declare or not declare as a feminist and I feel like I am derailing the conversation some what.

I would like to note that I realise other feminists come to very different conclusions about the sex industry and I probably think that is a good thing. i.e. better informed opinions are formed through discussion (unfortuately I’m not very good with words). I don’t think we should split into fractions because of this. Our aim is the same, we just differ in the way we think we can achieve that aim. Therefore, even if the majority (maybe this is already the case) of feminists think stripping or prostitution is liberating, I don’t intend to remove the label feminist but I guess I’ll probably continue to express my differing views.

Josephine Tsui // Posted 9 October 2010 at 10:06 am

Thanks Lorna and coldharbour.

I think it’s fair to say that many feminists (and non-feminists) stand on both sides of the debate on prostitution. I’m sure there are various posts on it on The F-Word.

The problem with the debate on prostitution is when someone says the other side is unfeminist to take that position. Such as it’s unfeminist to be pro prostitution, or it’s unfeminist to be against prostitution.

Stella // Posted 9 October 2010 at 11:26 am

Lorna Gregory, I totally agree with your comments. Somebody having to sell sex because they have no other viable career options is not liberating or empowering, and it is the situation the overwhelming majority of sex workers find themselves in. As you say, most of them are nothing like Belle de Jour.

Shame you are attacked for saying this on a supposedly feminist website.

coldharbour // Posted 9 October 2010 at 1:57 pm

@Lorna

‘Ok. I’ll put my hands on the table and say I would rather that the sex industry as a money making enterprise did not exist’

I think in a utopian world sex-work would not exist and everyone would have a healthy sex-life with mutual loved-ones however as feminists we have to understand our priority is improving the level of autonomy and living standards of sex workers in the present situation, no matter how many false and misleading studies to prove that prohibition is going to hinder people exchanging capital for sex history has proven that it never has and never will. As a Anarcho-Socialist I firmly believe that renting ones self for labor in any context or industry is undemocratic and falls under the bracket of chattel slavery, I’ve never understood people who want to push sex-workers out of their current position into another form of low-paid wage slavery, for me it completely defies logic.

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