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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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557 Responses

  1. Lauren
    Lauren February 6, 2013 at 1:15 pm |

    I LOVE THIS!!!! This is something I have struggled with for awhile, and I think your argument that “we can do both” is great. IT’s a lot of what I’ve been thinking, all neatly laid out in a piece I can share.

  2. apres l'ondee
    apres l'ondee February 6, 2013 at 1:20 pm |

    I see the anti-sex-work side simply promoting criminalization, which doesn’t work.

    You’ve been around this block enough times to know that you left out an important noun from this sentence, the “john” that belongs between “promoting” and “criminalization.”

    The rest of what you say about how buying sex is anti-feminist makes more sense when you insert that critical noun which speaks precisely to the abolitionist perspective.

    1. Aeryn
      Aeryn February 6, 2013 at 8:32 pm |

      Actually, criminalization clients, workers or both has been proven to be ineffective and dangerous. Sentence looks fine to me.

      1. martine votvik
        martine votvik February 7, 2013 at 6:31 am |

        How exactly has criminalizing the johns been proven to be dangerous?

        A recent report from Norway shows that serious physical violence has decreased noticeably.

        There is still a long way to go. Norwegian politicians have yet to implement the measures towards helping women out of the trade that they promised would accompany the law. Norwegian feminists keep pushing for them to keep their word.

        1. jemima101
          jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 6:57 am |

          Erm not sure how you get that result. Every study into criminalization of clients shows it endangers street workers (who are the most vulnerable group) , ahh just clicked the link. if you are using feminist current for your information then you really need to stop, now!

          Here is a translation of the Pro Senet report, which shows an increase in violence

          TW rape and violence against women.

          http://humboldt1982.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/dangerous-liaisons.pdf

          Here is an explaination of why the FC article is typical throw sex workers under the bus hatred.

          http://feministire.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/no-new-research-does-not-show-that-violence-decreases-under-the-nordic-model/

          And just for fun, becasue you clearly know this topic inside out, a report into how criminalization of kerb crawling in Scotland has led to horrific abuse of women.

          http://feministire.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/taking-ideology-to-the-streets-sex-work-and-how-to-make-bad-things-worse/

          This last should be required reading for those who claim they want to help women on the margins, when your help does this, seriously go away and stay away.

        2. Li
          Li February 7, 2013 at 7:06 am |

          Can we pleaseeeee stop linking from Feminist Current pleasseee? Because I am pretty sure the last thread went over all of the reasons why that is a bad, bad idea.

        3. martine votvik
          martine votvik February 7, 2013 at 7:38 am |

          I was linking to feminist current because I knew they had a link to the report in English, the only other place I knew to find it was ProSenterets own home page and I could only find it in Norwegian there.

          The report shows a reduction in women who say they experienced rape from 29% to 15% I think this is significant.

          The Scottish law is disgustingly cosmetic in comparison to the Norwegian law.

        4. jemima101
          jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 7:46 am |

          Read my second link, that isn’t what the report says at all.

        5. martine votvik
          martine votvik February 7, 2013 at 8:31 am |

          It is one of the findings of the report if you bother to read through the actual research and not just the interpretation of it.

        6. jemima101
          jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 9:24 am |

          I take it you missed the link i put up to the English language version.

          Do you enjoy hanging out on feminist sites being patronizing? A good shg might help with that.

        7. martine votvik
          martine votvik February 7, 2013 at 10:18 am |

          I am participating in damn good shgs on a regular and frequent basis thank you very much. One could possibly say that I should shg less and read more, which would be abt and fair criticism.

          I read the stuff you linked to, I just doubt that the “sex-workers” have a “life time long” experience of being in “sex-work” and therefor I’m less likely to put the same emphasis on the difference.

        8. Li
          Li February 7, 2013 at 10:25 am |

          jemima, for the record, I’m really uncomfortable with you telling martine that she needs to get laid. I understand the instinct and how frustrating and draining this discussion is for you but I do think that crosses the line for acceptable discourse.

        9. jemima101
          jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 10:43 am |

          You are quite right, I am just sick of repeating things others have said, and linking to evidence that isnt read. NO reason to loose my temper though.

        10. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 10:47 am |

          Uh, yeah. Jemima, I’m not comfortable with that either.

        11. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 10:48 am |

          Urgh, simultaneous post. Sorry didn’t mean to pile on after an apology!

        12. Wendy Lyon
          Wendy Lyon February 7, 2013 at 1:35 pm |

          Martine, it really doesn’t matter whether you put the same emphasis on the difference. The study itself stated that the lengths of time involved were too dissimilar to be directly compared. And that isn’t even the most significant issue with it. How on earth do you think you can draw conclusions about violence in Norway from research that fails to disaggregate it from violence in countries other than Norway?

          And did you miss the part about “rape” being defined in two different ways, and the reported rate actually being much higher than 15%?

        13. apres l'ondee
          apres l'ondee February 7, 2013 at 2:26 pm |

          The study itself stated that the lengths of time involved were too dissimilar to be directly compared.

          The whole report is a comparison of the data. Acknowledging the imperfections and difficulties of obtaining information about prostitution and violence against women is standard operating procedure for researchers that’s never intended to invalidate the research in its entirety.

        14. Wendy Lyon
          Wendy Lyon February 7, 2013 at 2:53 pm |

          Funnily enough, anti-sex work researchers (like Farley) are rarely as prepared to acknowledge the limitations in their data. It’s to the credit of this study’s authors – who, remember, conclude that overall the situation is worse under the sex purchase ban – that they were honest enough to admit that their quantitative data doesn’t provide evidence for that conclusion. Equally, it does not provide evidence for the opposite conclusion.

          In any case, the report’s disclaimer goes well beyond acknowledging imperfections and difficulties with obtaining information. It says “the numbers can not be directly compared”. That really couldn’t be clearer.

        15. Schmorgluck
          Schmorgluck February 7, 2013 at 4:30 pm |

          No, seriously, the approach consisting in cracking on the clients simply didn’t work. It made prostitution go more underground, remote, complicating things for the prostitutes themselves. And it failed to significantly affect trafficking.

          I was all for it at first, but it’s a dead end, at least as it’s been implemented. Let’s not cling to what doesn’t work. Let’s move on. Seriously.

        16. Stella Marr
          Stella Marr February 7, 2013 at 5:38 pm |

          Martine — so good to see you here!!! Remember when you were encouraging me to focus on activism — I took your advice and got connected with a bunch of survivors — now our organization has 85 survivor members — much love to you — hope your days are filled with inspiration
          http://survivorsconnect.wordpress.com/2012/10/17/sextraffickingsurvivorsworldwideunited/

          http://secretlifeofamanhattancallgirl.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/an-ex-hookers-letter-to-her-younger-self/

        17. Say What?!
          Say What?! February 7, 2013 at 6:23 pm |

          Jill I think it’s really hypocritical that you’ve banned Stella Marr. She’s the executive director of Sex Trafficking Survivors United — and was rather viciously attacked in a thread on Feministe while no moderators intervened.

          I believe she was banned for using the word ‘prostitute’ — which was ridiculous.

          I don’t believe she commented much on any other threads but this one. http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/12/04/what-is-a-representative-sex-worker/

          She was attacked on your blog for discussing the fact that someone convicted of conspiracy to promote interstate prostitution was the founder of a sex workers activist organization — although this was true — and Stella later proved this was a common syndrome with the sex worker activist movement. So she wasn’t being disrespectful — if that’s what you are assuming this was – she was telling the truth.

          Here are the articles Stella wrote which prove this unequivocally, using primary sources.
          http://secretlifeofamanhattancallgirl.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/pimps-will-be-pimps-whether-male-or-female-or-posing-as-sex-worker-activists-other-conflicts-of-interest/

          http://secretlifeofamanhattancallgirl.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/how-the-sex-industry-threatens-survivors-speaking-out-while-pimps-pose-as-sexworker-activists/

          Rather than derailing this thread — this info is highly relevant here. It’s important information which should be made public.

          It’s pretty hard to further the human rights of people trafficked in prostitution when you are silencing survivor activists. Just sayin’

        18. jemima101
          jemima101 February 8, 2013 at 3:12 am |

          Marr is not a survivor activist, she is a peddler of lies, disinformation and hate. Reprinting her hate speech shows you are no better.

          http://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/tangled-web/

          I suppose Amy learnt how to manipulate people at Julliard, or perhaps Columbia. I wonder how her various books are coming along?

        19. McMike
          McMike February 7, 2013 at 6:57 pm |

          Did they moderate the criminalization of Johns in Sweden? Because if norway criminalizes buying sex they only do so recently. And sweedes whom get caught pay a fine, as if they were caught speeding or something. Its just a way so the gov can get some of that John money.

    2. apres l'ondee
      apres l'ondee February 7, 2013 at 3:09 pm |

      The researchers did not spend the money, time and energy writing a hundred page report comparing the data sets for the purpose of telling people to dismiss all their comparisons as useless.

      I don’t know how else to interpret your insistence that a standard disclaimer within the research itself should be taken as the report’s writers telling people to disregard their work.

      1. Wendy Lyon
        Wendy Lyon February 7, 2013 at 4:06 pm |

        I would assume that they included the (not-standard) disclaimer of “the numbers can not be directly compared” so that people would know that the numbers could not be directly compared. Occam’s Razor. But hey, if you want to compare them directly anyway, then by all means explain how they can be.

        1. apres l'ondee
          apres l'ondee February 7, 2013 at 4:46 pm |

          Occam’s Razor would have resulted in no report at all if its main thesis were determined to be fundamentally flawed. It’s rather the opposite of streamlining to put so much effort into supposedly meaningless research.

        2. Wendy Lyon
          Wendy Lyon February 7, 2013 at 4:58 pm |

          No one but yourself has said it was meaningless. It’s still useful for showing the things it does show, namely, the levels of violence experienced in the past three years and all the qualitative stuff about the general environment under the sex purchase ban.

          You’re totally wrong about its main thesis, by the way. If you look under the heading “The main findings of the report” (Section 1.4), the supposed change in the level of violence doesn’t even feature. Why, probably because the evidence for it isn’t good enough. Something I notice you haven’t contested in any real way.

        3. apres l'ondee
          apres l'ondee February 7, 2013 at 5:10 pm |

          Okay, you are 100% wrong that the summary doesn’t mention comparative changes. It mentions several.

          “The terms under which sex work is conducted has changed for a large share of the women who
          provide sexual services.”

          “Harassment and discrimination of women in prostitution from society at large has increased”

          “Some of the survival strategies sex workers mentioned in 2007/08 have been difficult to maintain subsequent to the passing of the sex purchase ban due to large changes in the prostitution market.”

          I’m disengaging from you because you’re not being honest.

        4. Wendy Lyon
          Wendy Lyon February 7, 2013 at 5:59 pm |

          I am being honest. This is what I said:

          “the supposed change in the level of violence doesn’t even feature”

          And it doesn’t. What you’ve quoted are several comparative changes which are not the supposed change in the level of violence. And are not what you claim to be the report’s main thesis. If it makes it easier for you to understand this, the things you cited are drawn mainly from the qualitative research, not the statistical data which form the subject of this dispute.

          But feel free to disengage, especially if you’re going to continue to bang on about the author’s motivations and refuse to address what the report actually shows (and doesn’t show).

  3. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 1:22 pm |

    THANK YOU JILL. I know I came down harder on the side of the sex workers on that thread (simply because there were so many people being so disgusting at them), but this is basically how I feel about the whole thing. This.

  4. rox
    rox February 6, 2013 at 1:28 pm |

    Yeah that’s the part that gets me, is that to be pro-woman I have to be all “nonjudgemental” about men using a 14 year old in a foriegn country to get their rocks off just because they can.

    There are LOT’s of labor issues and human rights issues that intersect with sex work and that are relevant to ALL types of low paid work and people trapped in unsafe conditions with little realistic alternatives that their capacities match with.

    But I really don’t think that ON THE WHOLE most humans find sex work the same as burger flipping. If I am applying for benefits and they say “You have to apply at this burger place and at least try it before you get benefits” that wouldn’t bother me at all.

    If they do that to me and say I HAVE to try working in a brothel or starve? Most people agree that would be horrific. And yet, if we are to argue they have the same psychological ramifications to most people then why shouldn’t that be a requirement for people struggling with other work before being able to recieve government or charitable aid? We SHOULD encourage people to try to work even in work that isn’t fun.

    But encouraging people to accept things in their body they don’t want in order to eat should damn well make people horrified in a way that cooking burgers does not. Because the resulting trauma is different.

    And I will say that poverty is itself traumatic and bad working conditions ARE bad for the psyche, but sex work SHOULD be treated as something different and we SHOULD protect people from being forced into it due to difficult circumstances.

    1. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
      The Kittehs' Unpaid Help February 7, 2013 at 1:49 am |

      Hear, hear, rox!

  5. matlun
    matlun February 6, 2013 at 1:28 pm |

    I am an anti-sex-trafficking feminist.

    Just a question of terminology: What does that mean?

    I expect all feminists are against sex trafficking, so the trivial reading seems pointless and I expect it has a different meaning in these discussions.

    Do you mean that you are a feminist that is an anti-sex-trafficking activist? Or a feminist that subscribes to certain ideological positions (beyond just “sex trafficking is bad”)?

    1. Lindsay Beyerstein
      Lindsay Beyerstein February 6, 2013 at 4:37 pm |

      To me, being an anti-sex-trafficking feminist means that I think that cracking down on sex trafficking is an important feminist project. I also use it to draw the distinction between wanting to abolish forced sex work and wanting to abolish sex work. I don’t think that stamping out sex work is a feminist project, per se.

      It also means I believe that there is such a thing as non-coerced sex for money. I don’t believe that sex workers are coerced by definition.

      In the real world, the sex trade is largely ugly and exploitative. But criminalizing prostitutes makes everything worse. Even criminalizing johns is largely counterproductive. It doesn’t deter hardcore sex buyers, it just drives the trade underground where sex workers are more likely to be abused, exploited, and trafficked.

      1. LotusBecca
        LotusBecca February 6, 2013 at 5:00 pm |

        I agree the sex trade is more exploitative than most industries. I think it bares continual repeating, though, that working conditions are ugly and exploitative for almost ALL workers, especially when those workers are women. And that the women who choose sex work are not fools, they are making the right choice given the circumstances (usually shitty) that they find themselves in. Sex work, as bad as it often is, is still better than the other jobs available for those who choose it. So the answer is to uplift all workers and all women, not try to “rescue” women from the industry (even if such rescue attempts don’t involve criminalization but merely involve a condescending program from the outside of self-betterment).

        1. Miriam
          Miriam February 7, 2013 at 5:52 pm |

          I agree with the practical points you make (that the best course is to work to uplift all people–not just women) but I don’t think it’s accurate to say that sex workers are making the best choice for them out of a set of crappy choices as a general rule. I think some are, but some are unaware of what their full range of choices really are. That’s not intended as a ding on sex workers–it’s a problem I have with the general position that workers make the best choice for themselves. I think many workers make choices with a lack of awareness of their full range of choices because we’re often operating within institutional structures that work to hide knowledge of our options from us.

      2. LotusBecca
        LotusBecca February 6, 2013 at 5:02 pm |

        By the way, Lindsay, I wasn’t trying to argue with you, just to be clear. I agree with everything you said. I was just adding on to it.

  6. A4
    A4 February 6, 2013 at 1:42 pm |

    In a feminist utopia, ALL human interactions would be freely entered and based on pleasure and the recognition of the humanity of all people involved. This basically precludes ANY form of monetary compensation for services because you wouldn’t feel entitled to someone else’s labor (an intrinsically unpleasurable activity) with the simple exchange of money.

    So I call bullshit on this argument, and this pedestalization of sex as a sacred act between humans that should be only based on pure free will and pleasure and sunshine and roses.

    In a real world context, there are many things I will freely and happily do if paid, and that I would not want to do without compensation. Some sex is like that too! Some of my favorite sexual encounters were ones where I got paid and some of my least favorite were those special entered-into-freely kind.

    You wanna talk about how patriarchy is tainting my enjoyment of sex? Have at it! But don’t pretend it’s not doing the same exact thing to your enjoyment of sex, or that since your sex happened after a nice dinner and a martini that it’s any closer to this feminist utopia that people like to talk about.

    1. rox
      rox February 6, 2013 at 2:04 pm |

      I get that for you being paid for sex feels ok but do you understand why some of us disabled people might not want to be forced into it in order to eat? If someone wants me to make burgers and is willing to keep me employed even though I’m forgetful and dyslexic and can’t run a cash register and get sick all the time and miss work a lot then I’m cool with that.

      I’m not cool with being forced to let people stick shit up my ass to eat. And I want to protect my fellow disabled people from the world suddenly deciding sex work is the same thing and we should just put all the disabled people to work in brothels.

      Which if it’s the SAME in terms of damage to workers would make sense because it’s a high demand field and requires no math/memory abilities needed for most basic jobs. So if sex workers is the same, how can I protect myself from being forced into it?

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 2:09 pm |

        the world suddenly deciding sex work is the same thing and we should just put all the disabled people to work in brothels.

        what? No seriously what?

        Also, when disabled people are trafficked in the sex trade, we have a word for that: sex trafficking.

        This makes as much sense as coming in and saying “we can’t talk about sex because some people are forced into having sex and if we destigmatise sex then OMG SEX.” There’s a word for that: rape. Which is Not Sex. In the same way that trafficking is Not Sex Work.

        1. rox
          rox February 6, 2013 at 2:16 pm |

          but if being forced into food service due to need for employment carries the same psychological risk as being forced into sex work due to need for employment, then why would requiring the disabled to do work they may be qualified for be inherently called “trafficking?” vs requiring people to work for food the way food service industry does?

        2. rox
          rox February 6, 2013 at 2:20 pm |

          What I mean to say is that when I’ve submitted to sex I didn’t want due to terrible circumstances and needs– it felt worse than many times I’ve been raped.

          For me, that felt like torture, and I experienced shock and mental health problems from it.

          I’m just saying can we admit that consent due to horrible circumstance is not the same thing as “Wanting it” and can be traumatic in a way that working at a pizza place isn’t for most human beings? And I’ve worked at food service places and I know it’s humiliating and not fun a lot of times, but it’s not the same as the horror as being penetrated to get basic needs met that some of us feel when we go through that.

        3. Li
          Li February 6, 2013 at 2:29 pm |

          Rox, I’ve been on unemployment and disability benefits, and for long enough periods to have been pushed pretty heavily into finding work, and this seems to me a pretty unlikely hypothetical. I think we have a very very long way to go before stigma around sex work disappears enough that any welfare officer could get away with cutting off disability or unemployment benefits because someone didn’t accept a sex work job without all hell breaking loose. And in the hypothetical world in which that level of stigma didn’t exist, I’d hope we’d have dramatically transformed how we support people with disabilities.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 2:36 pm |

          I’m just saying can we admit that consent due to horrible circumstance is not the same thing as “Wanting it” and can be traumatic in a way that working at a pizza place isn’t for most human beings?

          I would consider anyone submitting to coercion to have sex (economic or otherwise) to be being sexually abused/raped. I also think there’s a difference between the level of coercion involved in “fuck this guy or you starve to death” and “fuck this guy or you can’t get your very own two-bedroom apartment”.

        5. afb1221
          afb1221 February 6, 2013 at 3:58 pm |

          I really don’t think this fear is that far fetched. I’m not saying it can’t be managed / prevented, but I think it is a realistic concern. Where I live, one can be denied employment insurance benefits (after a certain time) if there is work available. If sex work is no different than any other work, than there would be no basis for the government to say “you have to go off EI because X job is available” and “you have to go off EI because sex work is available.” Of course, we could agree that sex work should be off the table in those circumstance, but then we are agreeing that sex work is different, right?

        6. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca February 6, 2013 at 5:28 pm |

          Rox, how is legalizing sex work going to limit your job opportunities? If you had the ability to work in a pizza place prior to sex work being legalized, why would you lose that ability after it’s legalized?

        7. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 5:37 pm |

          Becca, shhh, you can’t be going around making sense at people! That’s rude! And probably oppresses poor disabled people in some way that I haven’t yet figured out, but which totally applies.

        8. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 5:42 pm |

          Of course, we could agree that sex work should be off the table in those circumstance, but then we are agreeing that sex work is different, right?

          All right, in words of few syllables: when things hurt you, in your body, you don’t have to do them because that’s what we call a harmful thing. Being used in medical research, sex work etc, mean you have to use your body and subject your body to others for their pleasure or use. This can be done together with consent, or forced upon you by someone else. So yes, sex work is different, but so is being made to test vaccines, or submit to new risky operations. They’re all in the same category of bodily violation without free consent.

        9. thinksnake
          thinksnake February 7, 2013 at 12:39 am |

          At least in New South Wales, where sex work is decriminalised, sex work isn’t something employment agencies or Centrelink are allowed to recommend.

          That’s nothing to do with it being sex work. It is because sex work is contract based, and employment agencies do not push contract-based work, they push wage/salary based work.

      2. A4
        A4 February 6, 2013 at 2:11 pm |

        There are already many people who feel forced into sex work in the way that you describe. In their case, they do not have any of the legal protections that other people who are coerced by circumstance into legally recognized jobs that they hate are afforded.

        My interpretation of your comment is that you are worried that if sex work is recognized as a legitimate form of work, then people will be coerced into it in the same way that they are currently coerced into other exploitative low-wage jobs.

        This is already happening, and the people to whom it is happening are raped and murdered at incredibly high and unacceptable rates because the world has decided they are disgusting and criminal.

        1. EG
          EG February 6, 2013 at 2:14 pm |

          I believe she’s worried about state-sponsored coercion as a condition of receiving unemployment or disability support.

        2. A4
          A4 February 6, 2013 at 2:27 pm |

          I believe she’s worried about state-sponsored coercion as a condition of receiving unemployment or disability support.

          Yes, I agree that that would be terrible policy.

      3. Alara Rogers
        Alara Rogers February 6, 2013 at 3:07 pm |

        I think that you’re saying that if sex work were not considered any different than flipping burgers, people could be forced into it by the state as a condition of receiving benefits… which is possibly true, but also probably a problem we could prevent before it became an issue.

        Some work is specialized because it requires training. The state cannot compel me to go work in a hair salon, even though I am an educated person with job skills, because none of my job skills relate to cutting hair, and I have no training at it.

        I wonder if it would help to require that a legal framework which protects the rights of voluntary sex workers to do what they choose while at the same time protecting those who do not want to do sex work from being forced into it, would be to require industry-specific licensing and internal regulatory boards. It isn’t the state that trains people to cut hair, it’s people who cut hair who do so, but the state can require that in order to cut hair for money, you need to have received training in it. No one is required to get a license to be a babysitter, let alone a parent, but as soon as you are the employee of or owner of a business that sits multiple children at once, you must receive training and a certification.

        Suppose you needed a certification to legally perform sex work, and if you don’t have a cert, you could be fined and johns could be jailed (as could your employer, whether a brothel owner or a pimp). There’s ample justification for it, I think. Sex is, in fact, something that is improved by having greater skills, and we require most people who want to do dangerous work to have a license to do it, even if the thing they are doing is something that, if done for free, does not require a license. We also require people who are handling other people’s bodies to have licenses, including people who cut hair. And we generally place much harsher penalties on people who are employers who are employing people without needed certs than we do on the workers themselves.

        Could a certification process help to identify trafficked women (and men) and help them get out? Maybe… if certs were required, traffickers would certainly fake them for their victims, but fake certs can be uncovered and become inherently an excuse to shut down a business and arrest the owner, and a responsible certification program could have means within it to identify people who don’t want to be there. Yes, some people who are being blackmailed or economically coerced are going to say all the right things to claim they are there of their free will, but if one of the things the cert program does is help people identify “If sex work is not for you, what would be a better job?”, it would reduce some of the economic pressure caused by feeling that you have absolutely no other skills that anyone would pay for.

        The state cannot currently require that you work as a child care provider before it will give you benefits, because that takes training and a license. They can require you to flip burgers because it requires no training beyond what they give you on the job. They can require you to try to get a job in a field you are trained for, even if it’s one you don’t like — if you did in fact go to beauty school and have a certification that you can cut hair, the state could require that you seek work in a salon before you get benefits even if you left hair-cutting because you hated it. But the state can’t require you to work in a field you do not have training for, if training is required as a condition of working in that field, and if the state itself is going to offer people training to make them get jobs, frankly it’s going to offer training in child care and hair cutting long before it offers training in how to give blow jobs.

        Having never been a sex worker, I obviously have no personal understanding of whether this would or would not work, but I’ve never seen it proposed — models that do require licensing seem to require it of the brothel owner but do nothing to require that the prostitutes employed there get any kind of training or licensing — and I wonder, is there any reason why it couldn’t work?

        1. A4
          A4 February 6, 2013 at 3:37 pm |

          This is a fantastic comment.

        2. Anon21
          Anon21 February 6, 2013 at 3:45 pm |

          Alara, I don’t really like that idea. I have three broad objections.

          1. The way you present it at the beginning and end of your comment, it seems like a kludge for a problem that could be solved much more simply and directly simply by saying sex work isn’t an employment option you must exhaust before qualifying for TANF/disability benefits/whatever. There’s no real need to justify this exclusion, but if you want to justify it, just point out, very accurately, that society considers sex to be an activity different in kind from most or all other activities that can be performed for remuneration.

          2. Licensing schemes tend towards cartelization; indeed, outside a few professions where the work is genuinely dangerous if performed incorrectly (medicine, maybe law, probably all sorts of technical/niche jobs I’m not thinking of), the primary purpose of a licensing scheme is to protect incumbent license holders from competition. I don’t know why we’d want to encourage that in the sex industry, in a hypothetical future where that industry is legalized and regulated. There are many problems with the sex industry, but the ease of entry for people who genuinely want to do it doesn’t strike me as one of them.

          3. Your proposal to punish johns for hiring unlicensed prostitutes doesn’t fit at all within the current paradigm of “licensing,” where the license is ostensibly a form of consumer protection. We don’t arrest people for receiving medical care from an unlicensed doctor, legal assistance from an unlicensed lawyer, or a haircut from an unlicensed hairdresser because the whole point of the license is to protect the customer or client from substandard work. From that perspective, it would make perfect sense to punish pimps/brothel owners for employing unlicensed prostitutes, but no sense to punish customers.

          Perhaps this last point is mostly a terminology issue; the benefits you perceive seem to have much more to do with the registration aspect than with the “training” aspects, so perhaps the solution is to have a government registry of prostitutes without having any licensing. (Although in our society, such a registry would almost certainly be abused.)

        3. afb1221
          afb1221 February 6, 2013 at 4:02 pm |

          First, I think in some cases (at least where I live) the government can force retraining, at least in certain circumstances. (as in, withhold benefits if retraining is not undertaken).

          Second, one reason why some people may enter sex work is the relatively low barriers to entry. If you require training and licencing, maybe you are hurting those who need / want the low barrier work. (I feel the same way about those who talk about std testing for sex workers; I oppose any government regulation of that because it just end up with some people who need the work but don’t qualify working illegally… leaving us in the same position we’re in now…)

      4. Henry
        Henry February 6, 2013 at 8:08 pm |

        I’m not cool with being forced to let people stick shit up my ass to eat.

        Rox I fucking love you.

  7. the_leanover
    the_leanover February 6, 2013 at 1:45 pm |

    Yup, this is all exactly what I was rather clumsily trying to articulate in the other thread. Excellent post… right up to the ‘fan of capitalist marketplaces’ bit, that is :P

  8. Natalia
    Natalia February 6, 2013 at 1:46 pm |

    I think one of the main problems of these discussions is how the sex-workers are described as “those people over there.” You know, people we can comfortably philosophize about, from a distance.

    When it’s different, it’s… different.

    I also think that if you accept capitalism as the best model, you kinda have to deal with the fact that sex *will* be commodified under capitalism – and that it ultimately comes down to the conditions it will be commodified under. ‘Cause that’s what capitalism does. Though *I* certainly don’t know what can be done about it, at this point.

    1. matlun
      matlun February 6, 2013 at 2:11 pm |

      I also think that if you accept capitalism as the best model, you kinda have to deal with the fact that sex *will* be commodified under capitalism

      It is hardly limited to capitalism. As long as there is a system of relatively free trade and exchange of services, sexual services will also be exchanged.

      Prostitution has existed long before capitalism or even money. It has even been observed among chimpanzees.

      1. rox
        rox February 6, 2013 at 2:22 pm |

        Yes of course because chimpanzee behavior should be the driving model of ethical behavior we strive for as human beings. If god didn’t want me to beat people up why did he make me so capable of violence!? And even APES do violence! So it’s natural and can’t ever be stopped!

        1. matlun
          matlun February 6, 2013 at 2:47 pm |

          This discussion is contentious enough anyway, so there is no need for straw man arguments.

          That was not an argument about morality but only a point about the (lack of) connection between capitalism and prostitution.

      2. Elena
        Elena February 6, 2013 at 3:19 pm |

        Male scientists observed female chimpanzees mating with male chimps who were kind to them and called it prostitution.

        1. matlun
          matlun February 6, 2013 at 4:33 pm |

          You do have a good point there, and I will admit to being wrong about the chimpanzees.

          Looking up the study now, it does not actually seem to describe something I would classify as prostitution.

          That study seems to be about chimpanzees building long term relationships rather than having short-term transactions.

        2. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
          The Kittehs' Unpaid Help February 7, 2013 at 2:00 am |

          Good grief, I didn’t think MRAs had it in them to be scientists … :P

        3. amblingalong
          amblingalong February 7, 2013 at 12:42 pm |

          Male scientists observed female chimpanzees mating with male chimps who were kind to them and called it prostitution.

          Oh, we’re thinking of different studies then.

          http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/05/magazine/05FREAK.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

      3. AMM
        AMM February 6, 2013 at 3:20 pm |

        Prostitution … has even been observed among chimpanzees.

        Correction: behavior which certain people have interpreted as prostitution has been observed….

        I believe I even saw this story when it came out, and there were lots of ways that the behavior could be interpreted. Calling it “prostitution” was not only a huge stretch, but a classic example of limited imagination on the part of the interpreters.

      4. Natalia
        Natalia February 6, 2013 at 3:52 pm |

        Well, yes – on that first part.

      5. Ismone
        Ismone February 7, 2013 at 12:48 am |

        Chimpanzees don’t have money, you dumb fuck.

        1. amblingalong
          amblingalong February 7, 2013 at 12:41 pm |

          Chimpanzees don’t have money, you dumb fuck.

          Do your research before lashing out. Researchers taught chimps to understand money by allowing them to exchange plastic chips for food.

          People these days.

        2. Ismone
          Ismone February 7, 2013 at 1:44 pm |

          I read the research. The study involved supposedly “exchanging meat for sex.” Their were no tokens used. So in the study, there was no money. Also, it doesn’t have to be prostitution for animal sexual partners to receive resources from one another.

          Re: the tokens, you can condition animals to do all kinds of things, like fish to come up for a feeding by ringing a bell. It doesn’t mean fish understand what a “dinner bell” is.

  9. amblingalong
    amblingalong February 6, 2013 at 2:31 pm |

    I strongly disagree, but it’s probably due to a difference of values so fundamental it’s not really possible to convince each other. At a basic level, I don’t see sex as any different from any other transaction that involves to people; sure, it has a few more risks and is a lot more fun than most, but that’s all.

    The idea that sex is special and needs to be treated differently seems unfounded.

    But from a birdseye feminist view — from a sex-positive view — sex work is different because it’s commodifying something that should ideally be a basic pleasure, entered into entirely freely and at will.

    This is… lazy. Your entire argument is “sex is different because it should be different.” Every transaction between two people should be entered into freely and at will; you shouldn’t be coerced into making someone a sandwich, either.

    Oh, and all you market-hating people mostly sound eager for another holodomor.

    1. amblingalong
      amblingalong February 6, 2013 at 2:32 pm |

      two* people. Christ.

    2. Yonah
      Yonah February 6, 2013 at 2:56 pm |

      When you say “The idea that sex is special and needs to be treated differently seems unfounded,” do you think the law should at all differentiate between assault and sexual assault/rape?

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve February 6, 2013 at 3:15 pm |

        When you say “The idea that sex is special and needs to be treated differently seems unfounded,” do you think the law should at all differentiate between assault and sexual assault/rape?

        rape =/= sex

        1. Ismone
          Ismone February 7, 2013 at 12:49 am |

          assault =/= cuddles. Your point?

        2. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve February 7, 2013 at 4:42 pm |

          assault =/= cuddles. Your point?

          My point was obvious if you look at the remark I quoted. Yonah equated sex with rape quite clearly. He attempted to dismiss the point “that sex is special and needs to be treated differently” by implying that treating ‘sex’ differently is the reason rape should be treated differently than other types assault.

          So, Ismone, as it is blatantly clear to anyone with simple reading skills that Yonah is equating rape with sex, I must wonder why you have such a problem with my pointing it out.

        3. Ismone
          Ismone February 7, 2013 at 5:35 pm |

          He was saying that violations of sexual autonomy/bodily integrity that involve sex are treated (and most of us agree, should be treated) more seriously than violations of autonomy that are physical but not sexual.

          So no, he didn’t.

        4. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve February 7, 2013 at 5:41 pm |

          He was saying that violations of sexual autonomy/bodily integrity that involve sex are treated (and most of us agree, should be treated) more seriously than violations of autonomy that are physical but not sexual.

          So no, he didn’t.

          Yes he did.

          You are only referring to the second part of his comment, which was used as a retort to amblingalong’s comments about sex, that’s sex, not sexual assault, not rape, sex. S-E-X. So go back and re-read the comments a third time and maybe you will understand that you are actually debating a non-point.

    3. the_leanover
      the_leanover February 6, 2013 at 3:03 pm |

      Anti-capitalist? Stalinist! CRITICAL THINKING.

      1. amblingalong
        amblingalong February 6, 2013 at 6:52 pm |

        Anti-capitalist? Stalinist! CRITICAL THINKING.

        Find me an alternative to market-based economies that doesn’t inevitably lead to the deaths of millions/billions and I’ll take it back.

        1. Ted
          Ted February 7, 2013 at 4:01 am |

          Do you believe that capitalism hasn’t lead to the deaths of millions?

        2. Minerva
          Minerva February 7, 2013 at 1:39 pm |

          Why assume that capitalism is a religious doctrine which must be accepted as a whole or rejected entirely for some other (as of yet undiscovered and therefore ontologically suspect) system? Why accept that if we enjoy a market based capitalist system for some aspects of our lives, we reject it for others?

          We already do this, to a degree. What is the proper role of capitalism in your relationship to your kids, or your siblings, or your parents?

          Here’s the thing: we can happily exchange apples and iPods and cars and sweaters for money, and we’ve even come up with a way to value the work of the people who pick apples, design iPods, assemble cars and make sweaters. The rules of market-based capitalism work pretty well there, and so long as we ensure that we aren’t externalizing inconvenient costs when valuing products and services, I see no reason to get all that upset about the fact that we do it.

          For a while now we’ve been in rough agreement as a society that there is no proper monetary value for bodies or parts of bodies, in that it’s now illegal to buy slaves or organs. We can have capitalism where it works (and for some things it works better than any other framework we’ve yet created) and work to exclude it where appropriate. Capitalism is not given by the gods, it was created by humans, like any of our other tools, to make a particular set of tasks easier and smoother. However, just because we have a really nice hammer doesn’t mean that some jobs aren’t better done with bolts or screws.

          (really bad pun only partially intended)

        3. EG
          EG February 7, 2013 at 1:58 pm |

          we’ve even come up with a way to value the work of the people who pick apples, design iPods, assemble cars and make sweaters. The rules of market-based capitalism work pretty well there

          The rules of market-based capitalism have well and truly fucked over those who pick apples, make sweaters, and assemble iPods. The only reason they don’t fuck over those who assemble cars quite as much is a number of bloody union battles.

        4. Minerva
          Minerva February 7, 2013 at 2:55 pm |

          I agree with you EG, but unionization is not antithetical to the rules of market-based capitalism; collective bargaining is a means of participating in those rules. Lack of unions for agricultural workers, unskilled labor and skilled pieceworkers is a political problem that we can fight in the political realm, not a failure of capitalism as such.

          The useful example you provide is an argument for more unions to help the system properly value the apples, iPods and sweaters by preventing the externalization of proper labor costs. And yes, in keeping with the topic, I think that unions for sex workers might help keep those who accept money for sex alive, safe and healthy while we work to make paying for sex unacceptable.

        5. Sheelzebub
          Sheelzebub February 7, 2013 at 2:58 pm |

          You. . .actually think that capitalism hasn’t led to countless deaths? That it isn’t brutal? Really?

          Any system that puts money over people’s well being is going to fuck people over.

        6. Minerva
          Minerva February 7, 2013 at 2:59 pm |

          …nor do we have to accept those political failures as inevitable simply because, you know, Capitalism.

        7. Minerva
          Minerva February 7, 2013 at 3:10 pm |

          Sheelzebub, I think it’s more complicated than that. Capitalism isn’t the root of all evil (and I say this as a card carrying Marxist), because a system of private ownership and free exchange is not necessarily bad in itself, and I’d be happy to discuss that at great length anywhere you choose.

          I would argue that those deaths are the result of political choices wherein some lives were valued less than others and therefore made available for exploitation.

          Capitalism is just a tool, a framework for balancing values and enabling exchange. Politics is the system that determines and establishes social value. Capitalism is the kit of tools, politics is the whole practice of carpentry. If the house is badly built, blame the carpenter, not the hammer.

          ps – I ADORE your screen name

    4. Anon21
      Anon21 February 6, 2013 at 3:22 pm |

      The idea that sex is special and needs to be treated differently seems unfounded.

      So far as most human cultures are concerned, this is just self-evident; sex is pretty much always treated as different in kind and more important than most other forms of social interaction.

      So maybe in the feminist utopia, that wouldn’t be the attitude, but here in the real world, there are good reasons to be more concerned about coerced sex work than we are about coerced food service work. Neither is right, but one is worse.

      1. sabrina
        sabrina February 6, 2013 at 6:01 pm |

        you have yet to explain to this former sex worker and former food service worker how sex work is worse. Personally, I found sex work to be much less exploitative than I found food service work which is why I quit food service work and did sex work instead. I have yet to hear from an anti sex work feminist a well thought out reason WHY sex is different. That statement includes Jill who decided to use circular logic to try and explain her feelings about her personal* utopia

        *I say personal utopia because I’m pretty sure my version of utopia looks very different from Jill’s and vice versa so I don’t think that calling it a feminist utopia is accurate given that feminism is not a hive mind and we don’t all agree about everything.

        1. Punchdrunk
          Punchdrunk February 6, 2013 at 8:26 pm |

          Does human psychology as it relates to human sexuality ring any bells?
          Do you really think cleaning house and sucking dick for rent are the same thing?
          Maybe they are for you, there are all kinds of people in the world, but for most humans sexuality has deep, unique, psychological, social, and physiological repercussions.

          You may be Teflon Woman, but most of us are mere mortals with mortal emotions and hormones and social groups.

          And I’m really tired of being told that all menial labor is prostitution. It’s not. Please stop insulting people working in food service, housekeeping, and other low wage jobs by pretending it’s the same thing, and us working class schmucks should just suck it up (see what i did there?) and embrace fucking strangers for money. We should just get over ourselves and get on our knees and on our backs and make some real money.
          How stupid of us to work long, exhausting
          hours and still be broke.
          Psychology is why sexual assault is more serious than simple assault. It’s also why there are far, far more people willing to buy sex than sell it.
          ‘I need to get paid’ isn’t enthusiastic consent, it’s coercive, at best.

        2. sabrina
          sabrina February 6, 2013 at 10:06 pm |

          seriously punch drunk fuck you. I’m not telling anyone to go do sex work. I would actually argue that for a lot of people it’s not the best choice. That doesn’t make it a bad choice FOR SOME PEOPLE. I’m tired of being demonized for finding a way to put food on my table that didn’t involve food service which was to me and to many other sex workers a much more degrading form of work. Most of my clients treated me like a human being. The person who talks to their food service worker as human are few and far in between.
          Also, I really love the dehumanizing way you choose to talk to me. No I’m not fucking teflon. I have plenty of feelings thank you very much. The kind of behavior you are displaying is exactly why most sex workers don’t identify as feminists. It is people like you who make the jobs of sex workers so difficult.

        3. lynx wings
          lynx wings February 7, 2013 at 12:44 am |

          Punch drunk, you are terrible.

          Ugh, it’s SO DEGRADING to compare sex work to menial labor, because sex workers are dirty disgusting whores and menial laborers are clearly better than that.

          Everything about your comment shows that you have nothing but disdain for sex workers. Why are you even on a feminist site?

        4. Ismone
          Ismone February 7, 2013 at 12:51 am |

          I totally respect your personal feelings regarding sex and its importance compared to other physical acts.

          But please do the same for the rest of us. Many of us would rather be hit or forced into hard labor than to have sex under circumstances other than enthusiastic consent. That is a reality, for many of us.

        5. sabrina
          sabrina February 7, 2013 at 3:25 pm |

          Where did I say it’s not your reality ismone? Where did I say that my experience is the same exact experience as everyone else’s? What I said is that my experience is valid too and those of us who are or have been sex workers are constantly silenced in feminist spaces when we try and argue that we aren’t dirty disgusting wastes and that we too have perfectly valid reasons for choosing (freely) the work that we do. I’ve not once said that sex work is a great solution to poverty. It was however, for me a much better and less demeaning solution than other pink/blue collar work.

        6. rox
          rox February 7, 2013 at 4:02 pm |

          I personally complete respect your reality Sabrina. I think food service is terrible and have been trapped in in myself. My preference is to save all people from low wage labor they feel powerless to get out of. No one should be stuck there, especially while barely or not being able to pay bills and for necessities/food/medical care. I don’t in any way think any person is wrong for feeling like sex works offers hope out of something that feels terrible and into something that feels better.

          My big problem though is that I still consider that level of desperation (not being able to make bills, pay for necessities, pay for medical care) and having tried and failed at attempts to get through school or move up the career ladder– that for some women choosing sex work under these circumstances is still a coercive situation. For SOME women it is a relief because they find they don’t mind the sex for work. For some it is simultaneously traumatic and ALSO a relief because they weren’t really making it before.

          So my point is SOME PEOPLE can consent to sex work and still be traumatized by the sex. Which doesn’t make it anything AT ALL to be ashamed of for the worker herself who is getting by in the best way possible. That said, this state of affairs is problematic because for some women they are still experiencing sex that feels traumatic and don’t see a way out that meets their needs.

          The goal should be to identify the actual needs and provide better support. I.e. safety nets made of lace. (Sorry everyonce in a while I can’t stop the silly) And by safety nets that includes job training that meets specific difficulties managing school or work places– and assistiance finding a job that pays a living ways and has hope of mobility. I think all people should have access to services that help them with this (and disability criteria should be broadened), and that this should part of feminist solutions to women dealing with poverty, feeling coerced into sex work or other demeaning jobs, or otherwise not being able to make it in life. I feel that should be part of women caring about women. My personal focus is not on legal vs illegal distinction but if you want to make policies that are based in the presumption sex work carries the same risk as food service for people on the whole I do have a problem with that because I believe it as problematic to me as saying that sweatshops that expose people to toxic metals should be legal in the states because it could serve people who need jobs and would thus be “benefitted”. I just have trouble getting behind claiming it’s a safe enough industry to pass workers safety considerations because if you open factories that expose people to toxins people WILL sign up for them due to desperation. I personally think protecting workers from hazards they might consent to due to desperation for money is a good thing. And while unfortunately SOME people might do well with sex work, solutions to help them stay in their chosen profession should not open the doors for other people who might sign up due to desperation alone and not because they are psychologically equipped to be exploited. Because unfortunately the side effects of unwanted sex for some people can be very similar to rape. Protecting women from that should be a very important goal of feminism, in my perspective. I also think ensuring women with disabilities or difficulties in the workplace can find jobs and training programs that match their disabilities/differences and help them get a living wage (so that NO ONE is trapped in food service or any low paying profession they hate for their whole life)– should also be a major mission within feminism. Personal preference.

        7. Ismone
          Ismone February 7, 2013 at 4:15 pm |

          Sabrina,

          I am replying to this portion of your post:

          “I have yet to hear from an anti sex work feminist a well thought out reason WHY sex is different.”

          My reason is that for many people, sex is different to the extent that they would be less traumatized by other forced labor or being hit.

          So that is the reason that we think it is different, for many, not all people, there is a strong preference for performing non-sexual labor. And this isn’t just based on preferences regarding labor, it has to do with preferences regarding bodily autonomy, particularly as related to sex.

    5. tomek
      tomek February 6, 2013 at 4:58 pm |

      yes it seem a little confusing to me that you are putting forward in serious argument “sex is no different from any other of the human interaction”.

      is it so that being non-consensual force to have sex is same as non-consensual being force to engage in other interaction (which you think as the same). sex only become different when non-consensal is introduced? this seem like hand-wave premise.

      i think in our biology as human we view sex in different way from other action. it is core of who we are, as it lead to reproduction. whether it actually lead to reproduction in current world with contraceptive is not relavant, because our brains have evolved to view sex in this way.

      in clear, i think always there will be demand for sex with woman for money. but i do not buy that sex is no different from other human interaction. if this was so, rape would be considered as bad as simply being held against will and being forced to eat the lunch with someone or something. silly position

      1. the_leanover
        the_leanover February 6, 2013 at 5:35 pm |

        Dear lord, tomek’s mixture of fake pidgin English and implausibly advanced sentence construction is getting less convincing by the day. ‘this seem like hand-wave premise’? COME ON.

        1. mxe354
          mxe354 February 6, 2013 at 6:28 pm |

          Like I said, I can’t help but suspect that he’s someone who used to go by Tomek Kulesza.

    6. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
      The Kittehs' Unpaid Help February 7, 2013 at 2:10 am |

      Do you see sex as equivalent to shelf stacking? Stuffing envelopes? Waiting at tables? Farm work? Building construction? Roadwork? Plumbing? Do they have the same physical intimacy, potential emotional intimacy or potential trauma if you really don’t want to do them but have to? I really can’t see the comparison between most work and sex.

      It’s one thing for people to say “don’t put sex on a pedestal” and there’s much sense in that (though for me it will never be for anything but love) but it seems very odd to talk as if it was just something to be shrugged off. I apologise if I misunderstood you, btw!

      1. Natalia
        Natalia February 7, 2013 at 5:06 am |

        I don’t think people will ever agree on what sex work is like – because people experience sex very differently. Our histories shape us in different ways, hence the huge discrepancies in how it is perceived.

    7. karak
      karak February 7, 2013 at 5:00 am |

      I truly believe that saying sex is no different from anything else is implicitly agreeing with arguments that equate the female body with a wallet and being raped with getting your credit cards stolen.

      Bodies are different. Sex is different. Invasion of your space and literally use of your body to stimulate someone else’s orgasm is different from flipping burgers–because I’ve had sex I Did For Obligation and it was fucktons more horrible than the year and half I’ve spent slinging burgers.

      Sex work is not like other work. It simply is not, and the more you try to insist it is the greater disservice I think you do to sexual violence and trafficking victims, and honestly to sex workers, who work in a highly fraught industry and need much more worker’s rights than almost any other industry.

      1. amblingalong
        amblingalong February 7, 2013 at 12:38 pm |

        because I’ve had sex I Did For Obligation and it was fucktons more horrible than the year and half I’ve spent slinging burgers.

        So have I, and it was ‘meh, bored’ and then I went and did something else. I’d have done that a hundred times before I spent a year in food service.

        See? Not everyone feels the same about sex! Not everyone has the same sex you have!

        1. rox
          rox February 7, 2013 at 12:49 pm |

          Right. So can YOU amblingalong, acknowledge that others are different than you and for some women unwanted sex can result in dissociation, trauma, PTSD, and mental health problems?

          Does cooking burgers cause those kinds of affects in you?

        2. rox
          rox February 7, 2013 at 12:52 pm |

          Have you ever been hospitalized while you scream NONONONONONONONONONONNO over and over again watch reality melt in front of you after a long period of unwanted burger cooking? Have you shrieked while it echoes down the hall, tears streaming down you face, god no, god no, god no, god no…

          HAve you endured years of being dissociative and unable to work as a result of unwanted burger cooking? If you can acknowledge that people have different responses to unwanted sex vs unwanted burger cooking, canyou acknowledge that I have personally watched human beings in SHEER TORTURE losing their minds and sanity after unwanted sex, and none of my friends that hate cooking burgers but do it anyway have ever reported that type of extreme trauma responses from their experiences?

        3. thinksnake
          thinksnake February 7, 2013 at 1:40 pm |

          Right. So can YOU amblingalong, acknowledge that others are different than you and for some women unwanted sex can result in dissociation, trauma, PTSD, and mental health problems?

          rox, can you please stop strawmanning? No-one in this thread is saying this.

          No-one.

          Stop inventing arguments. And stop claiming that you somehow speak for all disabled and/or poor people, or that anyone who argues with you doesn’t care about disabilities and/or class.

        4. rox
          rox February 7, 2013 at 3:23 pm |

          I’m not speaking for all disabled people or poor people. I think I damn well should have the right to stick up for myself, my family and my loved ones when I want a society that finds it horrific for women who need help to be left with sex work as the only hope. For women I KNOW who have been in that reality and have wanted desperately for that NOT TOBE THEIR REALITY I damn well have the right to speak for them. And when people say that sex work carries the same risk as food service FOR ALL WOMEN, I will continue to argue against that because it is not true and it is harmful. I’m totally cool withSOME PEOPLE feeling it’s the same. Because the risk of trauma FOR SOME PEOPLE is high, the work should be handled by policies that reflect that reality. When you try to destroy my voice andthe voices of women who HAVE been traumatized by these kinds of experiences you yourself are talking over other women. There is plenty of room for people to have a variety of experience but you are literally telling me that standing for people I’ve seen raped by the sex industry is silencing anyone else I call bullshit. I will not let people who have been coerced into sex work be told their trauma isn’t real because others feel like sex work is great for them. And YES saying sex work and food service carry the same risk does exactly that. I damn well will argue against such arguments because they are destructive to other human beings.

        5. amblingalong
          amblingalong February 7, 2013 at 5:14 pm |

          I will not let people who have been coerced into sex work be told their trauma isn’t real because others feel like sex work is great for them.

          NOBODY IS SAYING THIS.

          Jesus.

        6. rox
          rox February 8, 2013 at 11:27 am |

          It has been stated in this thread many times that sex work carries the same risks as food service. I think it’s important to acknowledge that there is a huge difference in risk for the average person, despite individual experiences varying. The risk of sexual trauma involved in sex work, even consented to freely, makes it carry different risks than other forms of labor. I’m not comfortable with a movement that demands everyone agree that sex work carries the same risk as any other work in order to be pro-sex.

          If you’re talking about making sex work legal and also in the same thread talking about it carries the same emotional and psychological risks as any other job, I DO feel concerned. I already feel concerned about the porn industry and what people will consent to for money. There are a lot of women who are shaped by women’s rights activism and if the movement does activism to encourage all activist to state that sex work carries the same risk as any other job I DO believe it’s putting women at risk of making decisions that could result in sexual trauma and experiences that will be very hard to live with for some people.

          Advertising an industry as carrying the same risk as any other industry when I have seen with my own two eyes grown men sobbing hyterically on the floor over what they have let happen to themselves for money, or watched women state how empowered they feel doing sex work and then lose their minds and suddenly it comes out they feel tortured inside and have been ignoring it… these are just things I’ve seen and they happen. If decriminilazation helps women vulnerable to how sex work will affect them that’s great but it’s not in an of itself enough. The porn industry is legal and it still pulls in a lot of foster alumni, formerly homeless and women with mental health issues and abuse histories. That, to me, is a problem. To me, even if decriminilization is part of the picture, we need to do MORE to protect women from this. So yes when people say the food service and sex work carry the same risk, I literally think this is spreading misinformation that could cause people to make decisions that could be harmful to them trusting women’s activists voices to steer them right. Yes people should do more to know themselves than listen to others voices, but for people in crisis, sometiems your own voice is kind of fumbling around inthe dark and looking to other strong women is something many of us, including myself have done. I don’t want any part of steering people into potentially harm while telling them it’s safe and they won’t get hurt.

        7. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie February 8, 2013 at 6:29 pm |

          Roz: Just want to second the commenter above: I f-ing love your comments, too.

    8. Lindsay Beyerstein
      Lindsay Beyerstein February 7, 2013 at 12:35 pm |

      Let’s stipulate that sex work is work. In a feminist utopia there would be a lot less demand for that kind of work and a lot fewer people willing to perform it.

      There’s a lot less demand for geisha nowadays because gender relations have changed. You don’t need to hire a cultured woman to make conversation at your all-male gathering. You can invite your female friends instead.

      I predict that in a feminist utopia, paid sex will become increasingly anachronistic. It’s already on the decline. The more socially acceptable the NSA hookup becomes, the less attractive paid sex will be for most people.

      In a feminist utopia, even more women will be empowered to pursue casual sex when they want it. The virgin/whore dynamic fade away in feminist utopia, so more men will feel like they can ask for the sex they want from the women in their lives.

      In a feminist utopia, the supply of sex workers will probably be a lot smaller, too. A lot of women would leave sex work if they had better options.

      In my feminist utopia, people would still be free to be sex workers or johns–the same way one is free to be a buggy whip manufacturer today. It’s permitted, and a few people still do, it’s just not in synch with contemporary economic and cultural mores.

      1. Miriam
        Miriam February 7, 2013 at 6:17 pm |

        In my version of feminist utopia, sex work would not be anachronistic. It would instead be destigmatized and gender neutral. People of all genders would engage in transactional sex with providers of all genders for a variety of reasons (not in a long-term relationship but not interested in bar/club/online hook up, want to explore a new fetish or type of sex with a trustworthy, experienced practitioner, in a job with frequent travel, has a serious medical issue that has prevented finding a romantic partner).

        To me, sex work is a valuable form of work. I believe the main problems are the stigmas that keeps many sex workers legally, economically, and physically vulnerable. If we can admit that sex workers do exist who are freely choosing sex work, happy with sex work, well compensated for sex work, and generally working in safe, reasonable environments, then I think it’s more logical to set the goal to that all sex workers are freely choosing their work and are working safely and well compensated than to eliminating sex work. In a practical sense, I think the two positions should be advocating identical policies, but I think it matters that one defines sex work as valuable work and the other defines sex work as intrinsically undesirable work.

  10. rox
    rox February 6, 2013 at 2:40 pm |

    I guess my point is that circumstantial duress that drives unwanted sex can result in sexual trauma.

    I would argue passionately that sexual trauma is unique as compared to enduring food service work or other unwanted work.

    1. sabrina
      sabrina February 6, 2013 at 6:05 pm |

      and I’m going to reiterate my question from above. Why? To all of those of you arguing this position have any of you actually done either sex work or food service? Do you have any idea what food service is actually like? Do you have any idea what sex work is actually like?

      1. (BFing)Sarah
        (BFing)Sarah February 6, 2013 at 6:20 pm |

        Food service could not result in me being pregnant. Food service could not result in an STD. When working in food service, I am in the company of others and not alone with a stranger that could kill me. Those are differences.

        1. sabrina
          sabrina February 6, 2013 at 6:47 pm |

          any work you do with the public can give you diseases. As an example I quit my job working as a data entry clerk (entry level work) for a lab company because we were being forced to handle human specimens without being provided with proper safety equipment and my coworker ended up with MRSA because of it. When working in food service you frequently come into contact with people who can make you sick. People who handle cash all day can end up with warts. Jobs taken by poor people with no training who are in need of job to feed themselves are stuck with shitty options all around.

          As for pregnancy, I would concede your point if we had no way to reasonably prevent pregnancy from occurring. BC is 99% effective.

        2. (BFing)Sarah
          (BFing)Sarah February 6, 2013 at 7:10 pm |

          Tell that to the women I know (two) who got pregnant on BC! And, actually, I spoke with woman the other day who got pregnant after having her tubes tied. Apparently, tubes can heal? Did not know that. Anyway, other forms of work don’t carry that kind of risk.

          Are you really arguing that getting a wart from handling cash all day or getting a cold from working with people is the same as contracting herpes or HIV? You could always wear gloves to avoid getting a wart from handling cash, can you wear gloves while being with clients for sex work (which would carry the same risk of getting warts on your hands…but with additional risks as well) and maintain them as a client? And, like you said, there are ways to avoid getting disease when working in a place like a lab, and had the lab been following the appropriate protocol, your co-worker would have been protected from that risk. How can you protect a sex worker from the risk of being killed when s/he meets a client alone? And being murdered is much more likely to occur as a sex worker than any other occupation, which I am sure you know. I don’t get the argument that sex work is the same as any other work. Sex is different from other forms of activities and I remain unconvinced that it is the same. I get the argument that all workers deserve rights, protections, and respect. But I’m just never going to be convinced that working at Dunkin Donuts is as risky as having sex for money.

        3. sabrina
          sabrina February 6, 2013 at 7:26 pm |

          Condoms are about as effective at preventing HIV as gloves are at preventing illnesses in a lab. I know that because we were required to sit through 18 hours of lectures about that before we could begin work about why it was important to wear gloves and masks (both of which were not always available) while handling blood products (we handled HIV+ blood with no gloves). I felt far safer as a sex worker alone in places with Johns than I did working food service at 3am in a bad neighborhood. What I don’t like is that we try and set sex work aside by claiming that it is so much worse than everything else meanwhile diminishing the very real problems with things like food service. Yes there are problems with sex work, but most of them can be drastically better if it was above ground and legal. Would sex workers still get raped by Johns? Probably, but that is a result of the culture we live in and not entirely inherent to sex work. It happens to lots of women in professions where they are left alone with men including professional positions. I’m not trying to mitigate the circumstances that sex workers are in. Sex work has very real threats associated with it. I just don’t see them as being any WORSE (different most definitely) than those associated with other forms of work.

        4. sabrina
          sabrina February 6, 2013 at 7:33 pm |

          Shfree said what I’m trying to say much more concise and eloquently down below btw.

      2. Henry
        Henry February 6, 2013 at 8:16 pm |

        because of bodily autonomy. until you change the way the brains of most humans are wired, we are going to not want other people that close to us or inside us, or surrounding us just so that we may eat and have shelter. the only analogy I can think of is prize fighting where people consent to what would otherwise be assualts. imagine if the only job available to you was boxing.

        1. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
          The Kittehs' Unpaid Help February 7, 2013 at 2:14 am |

          Agreed, Henry. This whole line of argument is squicking me out.

        2. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan February 7, 2013 at 7:26 pm |

          Well put. Haven’t we heard enough of the “bodies are just meat, who cares what happens to them” from the non-feminists without having to hear it from supposed feminists as well?

      3. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
        The Kittehs' Unpaid Help February 7, 2013 at 2:12 am |

        The idea of having to let some man into my body, some man I did not love and did not desire (they have to go together for me) would be utterly horrific. I’ve done customer service for years, yeah it can be a crappy job on occasion but there is absolutely no comparison with coerced sex (coerced by circumstances).

        1. thinksnake
          thinksnake February 7, 2013 at 2:19 am |

          Yes, that’s fair, and it’s entirely understandable. But you aren’t everyone. That’s the key thing that needs to be understood.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 2:23 am |

          As someone who feels EXACTLY as you do re: sex, can I suggest accommodating the idea that other people might feel differently?

        3. jemima101
          jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 5:21 am |

          So feminism to you is opposing things that make you go urgh…ok so long as we know the level of the debate.

        4. rox
          rox February 7, 2013 at 1:13 pm |

          No, the point is that the risk of horrific trauma related to forced sex is something many women (and men) report and have to be medically treated for, sometimes with no cure and lifelong effects. If you can acknowledge PTSD withlifelong health effects is a reality for many people who experience unwanted sex then you might see why many of us see protecting vulnerable humans from that kind of lifelong trauma.

          I have not yet seen anyone claim that unwanted burger cooking can result in psychosis, dissociation, or the need for crisis mental health hospitalization due to trauma effects.

          I am TOTALLY DOWN with the idea some people feel fine about sex for money, sex without love etc. No argument for me if that is some people’s reality. But arguments that specifically put more vulnerable people at risk of severe trauma and PTSD because they decrease incentives to rescue people from coerced sex work (i.e. it’s the same risk as any other work)…. I think that literally puts humans at risk. Once we make sure there is a safety net in lace for women with issues that make them feel unable to safely survive without sex work– then I will support initiatives that focus on the experiences of sex workers who have options/feel comfortable and not traumatized by their experiences. I guess to me, preventing rape is more important than preventing unwanted food service work and is more important than designing sex work policy around the wants and needs of people who believe it carries no greater health risks than food service.

        5. rox
          rox February 7, 2013 at 1:15 pm |

          It’s very important the safety net be made out of lace.

          …. (place, rather)

        6. Minerva
          Minerva February 7, 2013 at 2:41 pm |

          Well, jemima, sort of yes, because the thing that makes me “go urgh” here is the set of corollaries to the idea that some bodies are worth money.

          1. some bodies (white/male/straight/abled/virginal/etc) are too ‘precious’ and special to have a monetary value placed on them.

          1a. if the bodies above lose some aspect of that quality that makes them special, they lose their ability to escape such valuation and lose the protections afforded by society

          2. some bodies (non-white/female/young/gay/bisexual/trans/disabled/etc) are available for monetary valuation, and it is the payer who decides what that valuation will be (with a range of potential violence to enforce such decisions).

          3. paying money for something in a market-based system of exchange produces certain automatic (and undesirable) social/psychological effects

          3a. something that can be purchased is, almost by necessity, reduced to an object (a “thing”) within the medium of market-based exchange

          3b. the act of purchase confers an unavoidable sense of ownership and control; once something has been purchased, the purchaser gets to decide how to use, whether to abuse, and when and how to discard that thing.

          If you have any doubts about 3 and it’s subsets, consider why customer service in all its many flavors and varieties sucks so robustly. The “I pay your salary” attitude is pervasive, pernicious and both morally and ethically reprehensible. I think it’s a lot worse when combined with the hangover of viewing some bodies (non-white/female/young/gay/bisexual/trans/disabled/etc) as less worthy than, and in some cases even as the property of, others. As such, I will work against any practice that encourages the attitude that some bodies can be owned or coerced for money in the hopes that one of these days the act of paying for sex will be seen as just as weirdly anachronistic and morally/ethically suspect as the act of purchasing a body to scrub floors, pick vegetables or care for children.

          In the meantime, I’m willing to discuss anything that keeps any kind of worker in charge of their autonomy and integrity, and especially anything that preserves the life, health and safety of those at the bottom of the spectrum.

          In answer to the question posed above (somewhere), in my at times quite colorful life I have been paid for sex, and I’ve worked in both food service and retail. While I agree that there are factors which are similar across all those practices, it is the differences which stand out for me, and chief among those is the set of attitudes and expectations (primarily those of control and ownership) conferred by the act of paying for something that is performed on and in a body (sex) as opposed to with a body (tree trimming and burger flipping).

        7. jemima101
          jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 3:16 pm |

          Erm….straight ,male cis and virginal bodies (or the services provided by the person) all have a value places on them. I know male sex workers, cis sex wokers, able bodied sex workers and am friends with someone who sold her virginity.

          The world is a bigger place than you think. The fact you dont know this, frankly invalidates the rest of what you say.

        8. Minerva
          Minerva February 7, 2013 at 4:37 pm |

          Okay, I’ve only lived in the US and France, so maybe I am missing something particular about the experience of cultural attitudes toward sex work in Britain.

          That said, I don’t see where I asserted that straight or male or able bodied people don’t become sex workers, or that someone couldn’t sell their virginity. At least here in the US, the differential opprobrium faced by male sex workers, or gay sex workers, or ostensibly ‘good girls’ who sell something as ‘precious’ as their virginity speaks volumes to the set of cultural pathologies which view some bodies as inherently ‘better’ and more ‘worthy’ than others. I know male sex workers too (though, admittedly, those I know are gay) and honestly I’d say that they were in more danger when working, mostly because of those cultural valuations which consider it more acceptable to sell sex when you are female and straight as opposed to male and/or gay.

          That I was referring to those attitudes (as opposed to asserting some reality about actual valuation of those bodies, or revealing some ignorance about whether or not people with those characteristics enter into sex work) should have been clear from the use of the quotes to call out the valuations, but I apologize if it wasn’t. And I apologize too for apparently forgetting to put ‘special’ in the same quotes up there.

          Oh, and I’ve seen quite a lot of the world, thanks. The fact that you are so eager to lash out at someone who doesn’t automatically defer to you (or to simply assume that they must be stupid), frankly, makes it difficult to see your objections as anything but petulant.

      4. karak
        karak February 7, 2013 at 5:01 am |

        I work in food service and I’ve had Obligation Sexual interaction, and yeah, the second was a fuckload worse. Fuck. Load.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan February 8, 2013 at 12:05 am |

          Oh karak, that’s just because you’re sooo conservative and sex-negative and oppressive!

    2. tinfoil hattie
      tinfoil hattie February 8, 2013 at 6:33 pm |

      It’s different for the reason that women are the sex class. We are the ones whose bodies are commodities. Also, gay men and trans* people fall into this category. Why? Because women, gay men, and trans* people are the “Other” – the Non-(white) male other.

      Without patriarchy, there would be no such thing as “sex work.”

  11. polarcontrol
    polarcontrol February 6, 2013 at 2:47 pm |

    This whole question of where to draw the line about things we want to stay outside markets, is a political one. I’m communist in that sense. I’d like money to play a very limited role in relations between people. But as we live in a capitalist society, we have to draw more realist lines..
    Jill is right to emphasize “You don’t have to agree.”
    But we need the discussion because we need to make political decisions. So those arguing for (more or less full) legalization of prostitution/sex work, should make clear where they want to draw the line. Respond to worries such as those rox brought up.
    Or what do they think of this kind of scenarios: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/1482371/If-you-dont-take-a-job-as-a-prostitute-we-can-stop-your-benefits.html

    1. umami
      umami February 6, 2013 at 4:17 pm |

      That link is HORRIFYING and everyone who’s been arguing that rox’s scenario couldn’t possibly ever happen needs to read it right away.

      It is from 2005. I assume that the German did something to fix things, or the situation would have degenerated massively since then and there would presumably be international human rights backlash against Germany.

      But I’d really like to be sure. Does anyone know?

      Regardless, the article does show that it’s easier to open the door to that kind of scenario than you’d think, despite it sounding like something out of an MRA’s dystopian wank fantasy.

    2. Schmorgluck
      Schmorgluck February 6, 2013 at 4:33 pm |

      I was about to mention that, but just to be safe I double-checked it: it’s been debunked by Snopes and various other sources.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 4:37 pm |

        hey Schmorg, hope you`re doing better re: health, now.

        1. Schmorgluck
          Schmorgluck February 7, 2013 at 2:26 am |

          Working on it. I’d go into more details, but that would be off-topic.

      2. polarcontrol
        polarcontrol February 6, 2013 at 5:28 pm |

        Well thank god it’s not quite that bad. But still, legalising prostitution/sex work would require quite specific regulation as to the normalcy of the work..
        Another bit of relevant news from Germany (but don’t know the full story behind this either):
        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/06/brothel-job-german-teenager_n_2632012.html?utm_hp_ref=business

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 5:45 pm |

          Correct me if I’m wrong, but she was told she had a WAITRESSING opportunity at a brothel. Not “spread your legs, woman!” Waitressing.

          I mean, by that count, the librarians at my college are doing exactly the same work as the custodians, because they both work in the same physical location.

        2. afb1221
          afb1221 February 6, 2013 at 6:11 pm |

          I agree there is a difference between working as a waitress and actually doing sex work. But, that doesn’t mean the story isn’t a concern. Assuming no one should be made to work, in any capacity, at a brothel if they don’t want to. I don’t think a library is a fair comparison.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 6:28 pm |

          Assuming no one should be made to work, in any capacity, at a brothel if they don’t want to. I don’t think a library is a fair comparison.

          For fuck’s sake. Yes, how dare that employment bureau find someone a job at a place where Women Of Loose Morals might be! I mean, it’s not like she asked them to find her a job (though she did), or like the job was anything but sex work (though it was), or she was 100% not allowed to turn it down (though she did). Yes. The horror. Clearly she was almost raped just by walking past places where sex might be happening. *clutches pearls*

        4. Henry
          Henry February 6, 2013 at 8:41 pm |

          I just love it when people demand women work at brothels as “staff”. You guys are almost republicans with your work-fare views. Have you ever set foot in one of these places, have you ever talked to cops who work vice? there’s shit going on that will make you rip that pearl necklace right off and cry mac. These bartenders are going to end up being pressured to hook – it’s not a surprise the employers are posting looking for female staff. Stop being such naive assholes and open your eyes. pimps and madames employ a variety of techniques to groom women for prostitution.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 8:56 pm |

          I just love it when people demand women work at brothels as “staff”.

          I’m sorry, did anyone here DEMAND she work in a brothel? Myself included?

          there’s shit going on that will make you rip that pearl necklace right off and cry mac.

          AND AGAIN, fucknut, I never said she HAD to work there, my point was that she wasn’t being FORCED to work there.

        6. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 9:07 pm |

          For the record, before Henry or rox finds new and fascinating things to accuse me of: I do not support anyone working anywhere they don’t want to. However, I don’t consider getting a letter saying “hey, there’s a job here”, and then turning the job down, to be QUITE on the same scale as being trafficked. People get job offers all the time that they decide not to fucking take up because they find it grody/immoral/inconvenient/underpaid/strenuous/boring/whatever. Forgive me for not thinking a rejected job offer is a symptom of the oncoming THE GUBMINT MAKES ME SELL MYSELF apocalypse.

        7. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan February 7, 2013 at 7:30 pm |

          Mac, I understand that when all you have is a hammer everything looks like nails, but you don’t actually need to ragesaur against everyone you interact with on this thread, even if they disagree with you. :p

      3. amblingalong
        amblingalong February 6, 2013 at 6:53 pm |

        Assuming no one should be made to work, in any capacity, at a brothel if they don’t want to. I don’t think a library is a fair comparison.

        Why is that an assumption anyone should make?

    3. Henry
      Henry February 6, 2013 at 8:21 pm |

      Oh My F-ing God. Seems they’ve advanced back to the 1940s in Germany – oh wait the policy is not restricted to blond hair blue eyed women…progress, every woman can be forced into hooking.

      Can anyone say European Court of Human Rights?

    4. jemima101
      jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 5:25 am |

      Made up story that never happened, check your facts

      1. polarcontrol
        polarcontrol February 8, 2013 at 5:06 am |

        Just want to share a link. We should learn from places that have different policies:

        http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/8835071/flesh-for-sale/

        1. jemima101
          jemima101 February 8, 2013 at 1:59 pm |

          The day I learn from the spectator is the day I give up.

  12. rox
    rox February 6, 2013 at 2:48 pm |

    I don’t know what circles you folk are in, but among poor people and disabled and mentally ill that I’ve lived among and worked with there IS pressure to do what you need to do to earn money including sex work. I’ve been encouraged to entertain certain john’s, or to do nude modelling or amatuer porn sessions and the the underground networks that connect people to these kinds of work fairly well.

    So it’s actually NOT some out there proposition that people would be shamed for taking disability benefits rather than doing sex work because it already happens. And if sex work isn’t psychologically damaging, then really, disabled people probably SHOULD do sex work. It matches a lot of disability requirements and is in demand and I think people should contribute to society. And social shaming is one method to encourage people to at least try to work and contribute which is a good thing.

    So is sex work doesn’t have any ill effects, why SHOULD people be allowed to not do sex work when they can’t manage other types of jobs?

    1. Elena
      Elena February 6, 2013 at 3:24 pm |

      What about surrogate pregnancies? Should that option be required to be explored ?

      1. rox
        rox February 6, 2013 at 3:56 pm |

        I think surrogate pregnancy is a concerning ethical landmine, yes. I have been used for womb capacity in the form if infant adoption and the experience was horrifying and traumatizing. And of course I “consented” with my “free agency” so it was such an empowering decision! Yay female empowerment! So glad feminism can tell me how awesome and wanted my experience of losing my child was for me because I consented to it so it was clearly an awesome empowered decision!

        I’ve never deliberately carried a child for the sake of recieving money, but I find that problematic both as an adoptee, and female person with a woman who knows what poverty and desperation can do to many people’s psyches

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 4:12 pm |

          So glad feminism can tell me how awesome and wanted my experience of losing my child was for me because I consented to it so it was clearly an awesome empowered decision!

          PLEASE stop putting words in “feminism’s” mouth. You’re being fucking insulting. If you’re coerced into making a choice you’re not happy with, it’s not an empowering decision. Empowerment is not a concept that can be applied to that.

          But you know what, fine. You don’t have any agency. You’re a meat puppet and ALL WOMEN are exactly like you. No disabled or poor people disagree with your whacked-out reasoning, your frankly insulting ideas about poor people having no agency or self-determination whatsoever, not to mention your tinfoil-hat paranoia about government-imposed prostitution for poor people. If we do, we’re all imaginary. Done talking to you.

        2. A4
          A4 February 6, 2013 at 4:42 pm |

          Did you know that you are the only person on this thread using the word “empowered” or “empowerment”?

          I personally don’t use that word much because I have no conception of what it is supposed to mean.

        3. rox
          rox February 6, 2013 at 5:44 pm |

          Ok so do you propose something to protect people in poverty from being asked to do sexual favors they don’t want to do for money in the workplace?

          Do you believe in having any protections on workers against submitting to exploitive conditions due to their own situation of poverty? Or do you think such protections are too paternalistic and we shold abolish workers rights in general favoring instead peoples free agency to guide what toxic/dangerous things they are willing to do for money?

        4. rox
          rox February 6, 2013 at 5:47 pm |

          I’m genuinely asking so before you continue to insult me, consider that when I ask about your position, I’m genuinely trying to understand.

          I personally think cults and abusive relationships and exploitive employers can really harm people, and that people who are vulnerable to that deserve to be protected from it.

          I get that many people are smart enough to be safe from relationship abuse, sexual abuse, or abuse in the workplace, but for those of us who are vulnerable, do you… you know… care or think protections might be a good idea?

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 5:48 pm |

          Rox, what are you even fucking talking about? This makes about as much sense as that fetal food product ban.

        6. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 5:55 pm |

          I’m genuinely asking so before you continue to insult me, consider that when I ask about your position, I’m genuinely trying to understand.

          Listen here, you disingenuous fucknut. I’m not saying fuck-all about workers’ rights. I’m saying that YOUR fucking RIDICULOUS theory that legalising sex work will lead to poor people being forced into prostitution, which has NO facts backing it up except two debunked stories and one that has fuck-all to do with being asked to do sex-work, IS FUCKING RIDICULOUS. And to turn around and variously accuse me of arguing with you because you’re speaking up for the poor and disabled and saying I want workers to have no rights at all, and then saying I’m insulting YOU?

          I SAID FUCK-ALL ABOUT ABOLISHING WORKERS’ RIGHTS. Seriously, anyone can scroll up and see that I’ve said precisely word zero about it! Why are you even trying to make out like I’m saying that? Why the fuck are you asking me these horrible questions?

          Ok so do you propose something to protect people in poverty from being asked to do sexual favors they don’t want to do for money in the workplace?

          Sexual harassment laws.

          Do you believe in having any protections on workers against submitting to exploitive conditions due to their own situation of poverty?

          Laws against rape.

          Or do you think such protections are too paternalistic and we shold abolish workers rights in general favoring instead peoples free agency to guide what toxic/dangerous things they are willing to do for money?

          Laws for workers’ safety.

          THESE THINGS FUCKING EXIST, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE. THEY ALREADY FUCKING EXIST. RAPE IS ALREADY A CRIME. SEX TRAFFICKING IS ALREADY A CRIME. WORKPLACE SEXUAL HARASSMENT IS ALREADY A CRIME.

          Look, I get it. It’s nice in your little paranoid brown-paper-copy of a thought-process. But these things ALREADY EXIST. I DID NOT RECOMMEND REMOVING THEM. WHAT ARE YOU EVEN ACCUSING ME OF SAYING?

          Fuck you, seriously. Just fuck you.

        7. rox
          rox February 6, 2013 at 6:03 pm |

          I’m saying that if you agree with me that sex due to a situation of coercion, financial or otherwise is rape, than wouldn’t most sex work done for the sake of money be rape? And shouldn’t we have labor laws protecting workers from agreeing to inhumane conditions such as being asked to submit to sex they don’t want in order to have income? I wish you would clarify your position a bit more instead of focusing on insulting me. I honestly have no idea what you’re trying to advocate other than try to insult my sanity and writing style and ideas. I hear that you disagree, can you clarify what your stance even is other than “not mine” and that makes you want to tell me how irrelevent and meaningless I am to you over and over? I’m starting to feel like I’m being gaslighted, honestly. If you want to talk ideas, share your yours. We might have the same vision to begin with and you’re picking at me over semantics.

        8. rox
          rox February 6, 2013 at 6:16 pm |

          Also, I have not once here mentioned that the solution to my concerns is to make sex work illegal. You’re arguing with me as if that’s what I’m saying. I’m saying “Ok you want it to be legal, how do we protect vulnerable people in need of money from being exploited by their own desperation?”

          Considering we do have laws to protect workers from agreeing to inhumane conditions and we are in agreement that agreeing to sex out of desperation for stable shelter, food, and living expenses for children is rape, shouldn’t we try to find a way to protect people from this? The way we make regulations in work places to protect people from other hazards or health risks? I would say unwanted sex carries a risk of trauma that unwanted coffee making does not quite carry.

        9. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 6:17 pm |

          rox, I answered and it went into mod.

          I wish you would clarify your position a bit more instead of focusing on insulting me.

          I’m trying to do that. My tl;dr is everyone is coerced to some extent to do any work. My wife wouldn’t go to work if she could get paid for staying home, either. Neither would I, or most people!

          If you’re going to speak of direct coercion (say, your boss at your McDonalds telling you “fuck me or lose your job”) that’s a whole other thing, and already covered by existing laws against doing things like…sexual coercion, or rape, or workplace harassment, or whatever. It’s ALREADY covered!

          Indirect coercion of the “well, I can make more money doing sex work than delivering pizzas, so I guess I should do sex work” is no more coerced than, say, “well, I can make more money working 15 hours a week than working 3 and playing video games for 12, so I guess I should work 15 hours a week”. If someone is being barred from doing work NOT sex work, that’s already illegal. If someone is being forced into doing sex work, that’s already illegal! I seriously don’t see what your big problem is.

        10. rox
          rox February 6, 2013 at 6:35 pm |

          Yes but there are many people who can’t handle showing up to work regularly due to mental health issues. Getting disability benefits is really hard and not everyone who is impaired at working qualifies for benefits.

          I have lived with and worked with many homeless/couchserfing and underemployed people with this problem. I feel like looking out for this population IS a women’s rights issue because sex work is the number one choice for women in this situation and many ARE traumatized by it because they do feel powerless and don’t have many doors open. I can tell that doesn’t matter to you and you want to scream I’m an asshole. Ok, cool.

        11. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 6:37 pm |

          Yes but there are many people who can’t handle showing up to work regularly due to mental health issues. Getting disability benefits is really hard and not everyone who is impaired at working qualifies for benefits.

          You say this like I have no mental health issues or don’t know anything about having to work to pay bills. Fascinating, considering I’ve repeatedly said otherwise.

          I feel like looking out for this population IS a women’s rights issue because sex work is the number one choice for women in this situation and many ARE traumatized by it because they do feel powerless and don’t have many doors open. I

          Which is a question re: reforming welfare systems, not grounds for claiming that the government’s coming to make prostitutes of us all. And, again, has fuck-all to do with people who CHOOSE to do sex work.

        12. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 6:40 pm |

          Oh, and again with the saying that the poor and disabled do not matter to me. Who’s gaslighting who here, lady?

        13. amblingalong
          amblingalong February 6, 2013 at 6:56 pm |

          I can tell that doesn’t matter to you

          Holy shit, Rox. That is some exquisitely refined assholery, right there.

        14. rox
          rox February 6, 2013 at 8:12 pm |

          Yes but we don’t HAVE that welfare system in place. That’s exactly my point- without that welfare system in place how can people faced with poverty or sex work be experiencing anything other than rape in choosing sex work over nothing?

          I want to change the welfare system to and I think think should a goal of femists who care about women forced by poverty and difficulty working to do sex work.

          I’m not understanding how you can say, essentially that people who choose sex work because they can’t do any other work are being raped, but then also say that sex work isn’t harmful to people who choose it. So you do believe that people who choose sex work due to poverty are being raped? In which case, you think that type of sex work should be illegal? But who decides whether the person is choosing based on duress or not? In terms of the legal system? If it’s rape, that should be illegal right?

        15. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 10:12 pm |

          I’m not understanding how you can say, essentially that people who choose sex work because they can’t do any other work are being raped, but then also say that sex work isn’t harmful to people who choose it.

          Finally a non-disingenuous question.

          Sex work isn’t harmful to people who CHOOSE it. i.e. it is not a choice you’re making because the other choice is “die starving”. It is a choice you’re making because it earns you more money than your current/former profession, or because it’s better work in your eyes, or whatever.

          I do not consider someone who chooses “X” rather than death to be CHOOSING X.

          To use a non-sex-work analogy: say I’m making a living wage at my current job, A, but it’s boring and I don’t like it. I see a chance to find job B, which offers more benefits and pay, but is much more demanding. The pay and benefits matters to me, and so I choose to do job B. I know that I am capable of doing job A, and can switch back to job A if I find job B too strenuous or tiring, though it may take me a little while to find another job A. In this case, I have a genuine choice between job A and B, so whichever I’m sticking with, I’m choosing.

          On the other hand, if the scenario were: I’m not making a living wage at my current job, A. My kid is in hospital and racking up bills, there’s creditors at my door, I can’t even do job A properly because I’m disabled and stressed out, and CPS is keeping an eye on me and I’m terrified of losing my child. Someone offers me job B, which has enough pay to keep my kid safe and lets me handle my disabilities. At this point, I don’t care what job B is, I don’t have a choice but to accept it.

          I hope that clarifies my analysis.

        16. Ismone
          Ismone February 7, 2013 at 12:56 am |

          macavity, you are crossing some serious lines here.

          Rox and others can disagree with you. The abusive language is really going too far.

        17. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 1:09 am |

          macavity, you are crossing some serious lines here.

          Rox and others can disagree with you. The abusive language is really going too far.

          Right. My words: disingenuous, fucknut, paranoid, asshole. Fuck you. Words that, by the bloody way, 90% of the commentariat here has used at one point or another. Donna, EG, Jill, Caperton, me, Li, Steve, any of the regulars. None of those comments got redacted, I didn’t get a warning, none of the mods decided to take issue with any of my “abusive” words.

          Her accusations: I don’t care about poor/disabled people, I want to dismantle all workers’ rights, poor/disabled women don’t matter to me, I’m gaslighting her, I’m abusing her, I’m telling her she’s meaningless (none of which I have done and I defy anybody to prove such a thing from any damn comment I’ve left on this thread; saying someone’s ideas are ridiculous and paranoid is not gaslighting or abusing them). Henry’s accusations: I’m “demanding” people work in brothels.

          But I’M the one crossing lines? While they’re just “disagreeing”? Excuse me for getting a little defensive. How about I turn up in the next thread, call you a neo-Nazi transphobic misogynist out of nowhere in really polite language, and see how fuzzy and G-rated your responses are?

        18. Ismone
          Ismone February 7, 2013 at 4:21 pm |

          Macavity,

          I have reread your comments and hers, and I stand by my criticism. I know I am not a mod, but I think Rox is speaking from her experience, and you are calling her all kinds of names.

          You can call me what you want. All it does is discredit you.

          But I don’t like seeing someone abused like Rox was for having a different opinion.

          I think you say a lot of great stuff. But you also tend, on this and other threads, to extrapolate a shit ton, and not apologize for misstating/misinterpreting beliefs of others.

          And I’ve been here a damn long time, and this is only like the fourth or fifth time I have called out another long-time commenter. (I don’t count trolls.) So I average well under less than one a year.

          You are of course free to think I am totally wrong in this. And there isn’t anything I can or will do about that.

        19. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 4:41 pm |

          I know I am not a mod, but I think Rox is speaking from her experience, and you are calling her all kinds of names.

          Point me to a statement where I explicitly denied any of rox’s experiences. Or hell, even implicitly. I’d be fascinated, as I’ve done nothing of the sort. I’m allowed to disagree with people’s opinions, particularly when they’re busy telling me I don’t give a shit about poor/disabled women. And repeatedly acting as if I’m not knowing wherethefuckof I speak when it comes to being disabled. Or not-rich. And sure, I called her names, but they’re no more severe than anyone calls anyone here. I certainly didn’t gaslight her.

          I think you say a lot of great stuff. But you also tend, on this and other threads, to extrapolate a shit ton, and not apologize for misstating/misinterpreting beliefs of others.

          Yes, I do this and I am trying to stop. But I find it really fucking hard to believe that rox is somehow saying “fuzzy puppies and kittehs!” when the words are “clearly that doesn’t matter to you and you just want to scream”.

          What beliefs of rox’s am I misstating? What statement am I misinterpreting? Pray clarify. (and I did misunderstand her statement about arguing just because she’s disabled.)

          For the rest, frankly, I don’t give a shit. I can respect someone’s experiences without coddling their whacked-out theories of government-imposed sex trafficking for poor people being a consequence of decriminalisation.

        20. amblingalong
          amblingalong February 7, 2013 at 5:11 pm |

          I have reread your comments and hers, and I stand by my criticism. I know I am not a mod, but I think Rox is speaking from her experience, and you are calling her all kinds of names.

          You can just fuck right off with the tone-trolling. Rox has said some deeply shitty things, not least of which is accusing Macavity of hating disabled people and poor people when she’s explicitly identified with both of those categories. In the face of that type of gaslighting bullshit you accuse her of being abusive?

          Just… stop.

        21. rox
          rox February 7, 2013 at 5:23 pm |

          Oh please. The one thing you’re accusing me of is believing macavity doesn’t care about the concerns I’m presenting towards disabled and poor people who might consent to sex work and I said that because it DID seem like she didn’t care about the concerns I was presenting.

          If my understanding is wrong you can correct that without screaming insults and fuck you’s at me. I honestly don’t think our vision of how to create better supports is all that different and I think you’ve determined to make me into an enemy that isn’t even there because everyone is really charged and really raw right now. I get that and I forgive your anger and misinterpretation and hope that maybe some day you can forgive any unclear statements that made you feel I was somehow “against” you.

          Or not, it’s whatever. But I really wish that those of us who want to change things for the sake of women in need would try to work together to do that rather than tear each other apart. I think we need to be making better services to help women who have difficulty getting through school, managing life in the workplace and getting out minimum wage professions that aren’t going any where. We need to create broader disability definitions and provide services to people who are unable to work and need housing and food and help with living expenses.

          If we can agree about all this, why must you scream fuck you at me just because I WILL NOT agree that sex work carries the same risk as flipping burgers? That seems to be the one area that people are getting angry at me over and I think it’s important because the risk of trauma with unwanted sex is huge for some women. Just because I stand by the fact that my friends, my family members who were harmed by consenting to sex in difficult circumstances endured trauma that deserves to be acknowledged, I can also respect that plenty of people don’t mind unwanted sex or want to have sex for money and don’t feel exploited or harmed.

          You seem upset that I accused you of not caring about disabled people. On one occasion you claim I was accusing you of that you missed that I literally was saying the opposite and you’re problem was with my typing. On another occasion it DID seem like my concerns of people being exploited were being dismissed. I don’t think pointing that out is abusive or insulting. I genuinely would like to clear up what misunderstandings are there.

        22. rox
          rox February 7, 2013 at 5:40 pm |

          No-I pointed out the idea of government enforced sex work as the result of literally believing sex work carries the same risk for most people that food service does.

          You assumed I meant that if we make it legal it would cause government enforced sex work. That was not AT ALL what I said. I said that IF sex work carries the same risk then, why not? Why is that a crazy idea? We already require people work to get food and if they can’t run a cash register due to dyslexia or they tend to me irregular at maintaining a 40 hour work week then why not require sex work? The backlash “Well DUH that would be horrible!” speaks to the fact that most of us, even people arguing sex work is “the same” in terms of risk, is not actually the same. Because unwanted sex work is essentially sexual slavery. Which is different than unwanted food service work, which I also think is a type of slavery but involved very different amounts of trauma and psychological risk. I am NOT worried that decriminalization will result in the government forcing people to do sex work. I AM wondering why you think that’s such a terrible idea if you really believe that sex work and food service carry the same risks to the human psyche.

          What’s more you’re not even the person who has been claiming sex work and food service carry THE SAME risks, so I’m not sure why you entered into this screaming insults at me. My problem is not with decriminalization,per se, but with promoting AS FACT to young women that sex work carries no psychological risks beyond food service and then having no accountability for trying to protect people who enter a newly decriminalized sex industry assuming it won’t harm them and DO get psychologically harmed by their experiences. I’ve seen too many people harmed by having sex out of need to be even remotely willing to agree that having sex out of need for a living wage carries the same psychological risk as pizza making. I’m honestly not sure they we have a disagreement if you would stop putting words into my mouth. I get that FOR YOU poverty means one thing and I believe you know about poverty and disability. I’m not sure that you have as many disabled employment challenged friends who’ve felt trapped in sex work/transactional sex as I’ve had, and if so, I’m trying to understand why you don’t seem sympathetic to the fact that some people in this position feel harmed by doing sex work from that position.

        23. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan February 8, 2013 at 12:11 am |

          Mac, by the time you’re screaming abuse at a rape survivor who is talking about her experiences, do you ever stop and think “huh, look at me”? Or do you skip that and go straight to the gaslighting accusations?

        24. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 8, 2013 at 1:27 am |

          Mac, by the time you’re screaming abuse at a rape survivor who is talking about her experiences, do you ever stop and think “huh, look at me”? Or do you skip that and go straight to the gaslighting accusations?

          Goddamn it. I said I wouldn’t come back, but this is too fucking much.

          1) I didn’t scream abuse at her. I gave Ismone a list of every word I used that was remotely insulting, and you have used every one of those words yourself in comments. Sometimes even to refer to me! Shall I look up those instances of “abuse” on your part and provide you with links? I capslocked “fucking asshole” once because she asked me if I wanted to dismantle all workers’ rights when I had said nothing of the sort. Once.

          2) I did not denigrate, deny or erase her experiences. I disagreed with her opinions re: how her experiences generalise and what she thinks the consequences of destigmatising sex work will be. If at any point I mocked, or erased or denigrated her rapes, POINT IT OUT TO ME. No, seriously, do it.

          3) What?!?! I said “who’s gaslighting who?” once, sarcastically. Other than that, she’s the one who’s been accusing me of gaslighting her! Repeatedly! I made no accusations of gaslighting on rox’s part.

          What the fuck is this comment even? I seriously… I don’t get where you guys are getting this shit from, because it’s sure as fuck not my comments. Even rox didn’t say I was accusing her of gaslighting me!

        25. Donna L
          Donna L February 8, 2013 at 1:33 am |

          Bagelsan, you’re really not being helpful. And you’re hardly in a position to lecture other commenters about being disrespectful in the first place. Just because you prefer sneering at people to shouting at them doesn’t make what you do any more palatable.

        26. rox
          rox February 8, 2013 at 11:02 am |

          The only thing I have accused you of macavity is being uncaring. And I stand by that. You are definitely being uncaring toward me and the people I am advocating for. Your insults quite literally make me feel panicked and overwhelmed and it’s much harder to make sense when I’m having PTSD symptoms. I’ve been trying to function with men screaming insults and death threats at me and remaining calm for years, so yes I lose focus and my words make less sense. I also have a learning disability and it makes it hard for me to make my words match what I’m trying to say. I hardly think that makes me worthy of your verbal abuse. And yes telling someone “Fuck you” and the kind of insults you have hurled at me is verbal abuse whether you want to admit or not. Me saying your beliefs sound uncaring is not abuse. You DO seem uncaring. And really harmful and hurtful to people in pain, such as myself.

          “rox has said many awful things.” Um I’ve called macavity out for being hurtful. That’s SO TERRIBLE isn’t it! Look you’re mocking me for wanting to protect women from harmful sexual experiences in sex work. IF that’snot your intent, I genuinely want to understand why you’re so pissed at me for wanting to point out that sex work carries unique risks I want to see women (And men for that matter) protected from. I have not stated crimilization is the solution to my concerns. I simply want my concerns addressed in a form other than “fuck you”. You’re welcome to stop talking to me but I have not EVEN ONCE said that “macavity hates poor people”

          Putting words into my mouth and then screaming fuck you at me for them? Yes that is abusive and it’s bullying. The fact you’r operating as a team and cheering each other on doesn’t make it any more humane.

        27. rox
          rox February 8, 2013 at 11:07 am |

          Also your experience with mental health issues and disability and poverty is not the same as everyone’s. For you, your disability might not have made it feel like sex work was the only option to survive. For some people it does. Those are the people I’m talking about putting protections in place for. I’m not even sure that you disagree with me on this point so…. what is really your beef with what I’m saying? That I’m “not respecting your experiences”?

          What would it look like, and what would I say if I was “respecting your experiences”?

          The people I think need protection exist and I believe you that you are not one of them and that you know about poverty and disability and that your experiences are valid. None of that means I have to stop wanting to advocate protections for people who ARE vulnerable to accepting traumatic work due to difficult circumstances.

        28. Donna L
          Donna L February 8, 2013 at 11:22 am |

          I like and respect both of you. I wish this could stop now.

        29. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan February 8, 2013 at 11:43 am |

          “I didn’t scream abuse at her.”

          Listen here, you disingenuous fucknut.
          YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE.
          It’s nice in your little paranoid brown-paper-copy of a thought-process.
          Fuck you, seriously. Just fuck you.

          Right. Of course. Nothing to see here. Just mac doing her usual thing. 9_9

        30. rox
          rox February 8, 2013 at 11:45 am |

          Yeah, unlikely. I have found that macavity has tended to follow me around here heckling everything I say as nonsensical and not worth listening to. I think she has decided I have harmful intents regardless of what I say and there is quite literally nothing I could possibly say that would cause her stop seeing everything I write through the lense I am trying to attack her somehow or have terrible intents of terrible harm.

          At my worst, I am unclear and convoluded, I hardly think that my actual beliefs carry anything so dreadful as macavity has determined me secret malicious disengenuine intents are.

          Out of curiousity, what do you think my intent is macavity? Why do you feel like I have a secret harmful agenda?

        31. Caperton
          Caperton February 8, 2013 at 12:00 pm | *

          Despite practically everyone involved having valid points and perspectives, this line of discussion isn’t accomplishing anything and is causing a lot of hurt. I can’t ask anyone to divorce their emotions from the topic at hand, because it’s a very emotional topic, but this is a space for impassioned and heated discussion — not fighting.

      2. shfree
        shfree February 6, 2013 at 6:48 pm |

        I have lived with and worked with many homeless/couchserfing and underemployed people with this problem. I feel like looking out for this population IS a women’s rights issue because sex work is the number one choice for women in this situation and many ARE traumatized by it because they do feel powerless and don’t have many doors open.

        But if this is already the first choice for women and it is dangerous, detrimental and coerced, explain to me how it would be WORSE if it becomes legal, when it would be covered by laws that govern all other workplaces? It seems to me that the problem isn’t the sex work in and of itself, but the lack of resources available to these women.

        Basically, yes, these women are getting the shitty end of the stick by feeling pushed into sex work. They definitely deserve more, and they are being failed by the system for not getting the aid they need. However, keeping sex work criminalized will do nothing to change their life circumstances.

        1. rox
          rox February 7, 2013 at 12:14 pm |

          Yes but all the pro-legalization MEN I talk to have this vision that sex work is great and just like food service because for some women it is. Which means they presume they are off the hook for essentially raping women who don’t know any other way to make money.

          My point is, the legalization claims seemed to be focused around the needs of women who like being in sex work and think it’s healthy and carries no worse effects than food service or other low paying work.

          Men I know who are REALLY ADAMANT that sex work is great for women, don’t understand the reality that many women do feel forced by circumstances into the work. And some of these men are people involved in policy decisions that affect the ability to help protect women from being forced into the sex industry. If sex work carries the same risk as food service, then why bother making initiatives to save women from it? We have to acknowledge that unwanted sex is something that we should protect women from and in order to make those initiatives on the table to protect women, we can’t also be claiming that all women are just as affected by sex work as any other job.

        2. rox
          rox February 7, 2013 at 12:18 pm |

          Often it’s not the “First choice” for women. It starts off happening because, while men can often couch serf without being required to take it up the ass (homeless men are subject to rape and sexual abuse as well though and it’s just as horrible)– women instead tend to get raped, or to be required to have sex for staying places. Once you get used to it, it becomes the “first choice” by default of greater pressure being put on you to accept it in order to get needs met.

          Plenty of the same guys that do this to women, also let men couch serf without forcing/requiring sex of them. If we make it clear that that behavior is abuse and not “fair trade” then it not only sends the message to the men in all walks of society that abusing people like this is heinous, but it also sends the message that no one deserves to be treated that way. That should not be legal.

        3. rox
          rox February 7, 2013 at 12:27 pm |

          Also sexual abuse and rape can cause cognitive impairment, memory problems, dissociative disorders, and other problems that make it very hard to do anything other than sex work. When solutions involve things like “Let’s just put these women who feel trapped in sex work into school” the results are terrible because time management, stable energy, memory, and cognition are impaired making it hard to do school or jobs that involve accuracy and focus.

          Which means that by default the more sexual trauma you endure the less your capacity to do other kinds of work. I get that women who feel like sex work is the equivalent of serving coffee FOR THEM, it’s really shitty to proclaim that therefore other women’s experiences that have resulted in severe trauma, dissociation, psychosis, cognitive impairment is “the same” as what happens to people cooking pizza. It’s really basic science that sexual trauma causes different problems than food service industry work, although I think any profession can cause mental health problems when the person isn’t suited to it, their life factors don’t provide a buffer against it, or the conditions are particularly hazardous.

        4. rox
          rox February 7, 2013 at 12:33 pm |

          I would like to make it clear that I DO NOT think all sex workers are enduring trauma. But because SOME women are traumatized in ways that are unique compared to other work hazards in terms of dissociation/psychosis and other mental health problems worsened or caused by sexual trauma and because sex work that feels forced IS essentially sexual trauma– there should be special precautions UNLIKE OTHER INDUSTRIES to prevent people from being trapped in that kind of work due to difficult circumstances. Feeling trapped in sex work is being a sex slave. Feeling trapped into serving sodas feels like slavery too, but sexual slavery I believe carries different mental health effects and trauma risks.

    2. sabrina
      sabrina February 6, 2013 at 6:14 pm |

      We’re not saying that it is not possible for it to be harmful for some people in some situations. We are saying that other alternative jobs can and do cause the same amount of personal trauma. Personally I think we would be better off fighting for people on disability and unemployment benefits not being coerced into taking employment. There are ways to ensure that someone is looking for a job, getting the training that they need to get a job they are better suited for, and not being coerced into a job.

      1. the_leanover
        the_leanover February 7, 2013 at 7:02 pm |

        We are saying that other alternative jobs can and do cause the same amount of personal trauma.

        Everyone who keeps saying to rox ‘nobody is arguing that sex work and other jobs are the same and have the same potential for trauma!!!’: right here, someone is saying exactly that.

        Let me break this down: for you, personally, and undoubtedly for many others, doing sex work is a less traumatic or degrading experience than working long hours in food service, or domestic work, or whatever. Nobody seems to be arguing with that. What rox is arguing is that the trauma you personally would experience from being coerced into food service (or pick whatever traumatic job!) is not equivalent to the trauma experienced by a woman coerced into sex work. I know it’s not considered cool to play ‘my trauma is worse than yours’, but being coerced by poverty into a shitty job does not have the same mental health implications as being coerced by poverty into being repeatedly raped (and you all seem to agree that if sex work is someone’s only realistic option, as opposed to just a preferable option, it’s rape). You can’t seriously disagree with that. Other jobs do not have the potential to cause the same amount of personal trauma, and I’m talking about the jobs in themselves – obviously things like dangerous working conditions and sexual harassment can cause a working experience to be traumatic; the difference with sex work is that it’s the very nature of the work itself that causes the trauma. That doesn’t mean that anyone thinks that other coerced work is fine and good, and it doesn’t mean I think that women who would rather do sex work should be coerced into doing other work that they find more traumatic. It does mean that sex work needs to be treated as a special case in terms of its potential for trauma, both from a policy perspective and in terms of the ethical implications of purchasing sexual services.

        1. rox
          rox February 8, 2013 at 3:00 pm |

          thank you thank you thank you.

  13. rox
    rox February 6, 2013 at 2:58 pm |

    What’s more social pressure to do sex work to support a family adequately can be pretty strong and again– if sex work has no ill effects- than shouldn’t people do their best to earn an income that adequately supports their children?

    If we can’t admit that for SOME people sex work is horrifically traumatizing- we ARE setting up a framework by which people who are poor and don’t WANT to be penetrated to anyone with cash in hand don’t have a barrier against it. In places where it’s legal and acceptable, women ARE often expected and encouraged to do sex work to support their families if it gets their kids out of poverty.

    If it’s going to cause trauma to the mother, there could be good reasons for the kids well being to not do sex work that would leave her severely emotionally and psychologically disabled in terms of caregiving– so if we can’t allow that to be weighed into the equation and we want to force society to accept that sex work and flipping burgers carry the same psychological risks, we essentially are arguing in favor of all poor people with kids doing sex work.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 3:06 pm |

      In places where it’s legal and acceptable, women ARE often expected and encouraged to do sex work to support their families if it gets their kids out of poverty.

      CITATION PLEASE.

      we want to force society to accept that sex work and flipping burgers carry the same psychological risks, we essentially are arguing in favor of all poor people with kids doing sex work.

      MOAR CITATION PLEASE. Has anyone seriously ever instituted a government policy to this effect, like you’re saying? “No more welfare, go get raped instead”? I mean no fucking seriously is anyone going to do this, because I’m disabled and verging on poor in this country and if there were people saying this shit ANYWHERE I would be paying attention, by the way.

      1. afb1221
        afb1221 February 6, 2013 at 4:23 pm |

        polarcontrol’s comment above has one example.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 4:50 pm |

          Yes. And I watch Game of Thrones, so I’m also aware of the ice-zombie apocalypse threat. That story’s been debunked, dude.

        2. afb1221
          afb1221 February 6, 2013 at 6:08 pm |

          I’m glad it’s been debunked. I didn’t know that when pointing to it and I’m arguing in good faith here. So, the sarcasm strikes me as unkind and unhelpful. Though, of course, you don’t owe me anything.

        3. A4
          A4 February 6, 2013 at 6:20 pm |

          Mac you are not being nice and helpful enough!

        4. amblingalong
          amblingalong February 6, 2013 at 6:57 pm |

          How dare you not be nice to the posters claiming you hate disabled people.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 7:00 pm |

          *reads A4 and amblingalong’s comments*

          *bursts into tears* I’LL BE NICE FROM NOW ON I SWEAR

        6. afb1221
          afb1221 February 6, 2013 at 7:31 pm |

          I claimed macavitykitsune hates disabled people? I’m attempting to comment on the ideas up for discussion, not the people expressing the ideas. I agreed with part of what rox said, and expressed my agreement. I did not intend anything personal against macavitykitsune whose contributions I respect.

        7. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 7:41 pm |

          afb, I think they were referring to rox, not you. You’ve never said anything rude to me afaik. (That said, I was being sarcastic because I’m really tired of the strawmen being propped up all over this thread by rox, and her personal attacks on me, and I’m sorry I spewed it at you.)

        8. afb1221
          afb1221 February 6, 2013 at 8:40 pm |

          macavitykitsune, thanks and fair enough.

    2. Hrovitnir
      Hrovitnir February 7, 2013 at 9:14 pm |

      This comment thread is melting my brain. Decriminalisation helps sex workers. Illegality hurts sex workers: sex workers by choice, coercion or force.

      The idea that sex work is seen as a valid and upstanding job ANYWHERE? Hahahaha. NO. Really not a problem.

      NZ decriminalised prostitution in 2004. Legislation pushed and crafted by a groundroots sex worker collective.

      http://www.nzpc.org.nz/page.php?page_name=About%20Us

      Of course there is a lot of corruption and abuse and it’s a horrific situation for plenty of people. But being criminalised and incredibly vunerable to police is not an improvement.

  14. rox
    rox February 6, 2013 at 3:15 pm |

    I’m saying even if the government didn’t force it, if we teach the message sex work is as healthy/neutral/unhealthy for human beings as food service, then why WOULDn’t poor women do sex work to improve their children’s lives?

    The social and circumstantial pressure is already there and if we claim as CERTAINTY that sex work carries no greater risk, then we ARE encouraging people who care about the economic stability of their family to do sex work if they aren’t as good at other work.

    How is it “rape” if you’re arguing that enduring unwanted sex for money is an empowering choice of free agency? I’m just confused why you’re so adamant that it would be rape if “the government” put pressure on a woman to do this but it’s not rape if circumstances themselves put pressure on a woman to do this to support her family? I’m genuinely confused as to what makes you define this as “willing” vs “forced” if both scenarios involve some degree of consent and some degree of social pressure in various forms?

    1. Natalia
      Natalia February 7, 2013 at 2:35 am |

      So? Some people wouldn’t go into the sex trade if it was illegal – but would consider doing it if it was legal and there were guarantees that society wouldn’t shit on you for choosing this line of work.

      As it was already pointed out – keeping it illegal and dangerous isn’t doing anyone favors. It’s not solving issues of poverty, that’s for sure.

      A lot of people pressure women to get into the sex trade *precisely* because it’s seen as an evil and demeaning line of work.

      It’s a great way of punishing the poor for being poor.

      When I publicly “came out” about my problems with student debt, plenty of people pointed out that what I should have done is go into sex work – i.e., “you’re Russian anyway, you people are used to spreading your legs for cash.”

      What struck me about it is the fact that keeping sex work illegal and dangerous is essential precisely to people like *that*.

      But in places where it is legal, I have heard of no overwhelming pressure to force poor women into the trade, because they “have to” now, or something. I’m sure *some* pressure exists – in direct correlation with the overall nature of the labor market. But there has been no stampede of terrified women being corralled into brothels.

      If anything, the bigger problem is always with neighboring countries. Ukraine is a good example – the sex industry is terrifying and completely under the thumb of powerful criminal gangs (most of which have equally powerful connections to government officials). Traffickers are empowered to send women to Germany, et al (many are even eager to go, considering what they have to put up with back home – but they do have their passports taken away and become trapped and cut off from even a nominal support network). It’s a clusterfuck, and the overall labor situation is a clusterfuck, and this negatively affects countries were sex work is legal as well – because no nation exists in a vacuum.

  15. rox
    rox February 6, 2013 at 3:26 pm |

    “I would consider anyone submitting to coercion to have sex (economic or otherwise) to be being sexually abused/raped”

    I think you might take note that I’m pointing out specifically most people HAVE to work in order to eat, it’s sort of how capitalism works. Some people work for fun, some people like their work or sometimes like their work or feel nuetral about their work, but everyone HAS to work in order to earn money.

    I don’t think you specifically are arguing that sex work is the same as flipping burger and that’s what I’m arguing against. That for SOME people it might be the same but for some people being economically required to do sex work is traumatizing and humiliating.

    I just want to make it clear what I’m arguing against because I’m worried you’re arguing with me just to argue since I’m concerned about what affect it will have on the poor and disabled women if we doa lot of activism to promote sex work as an equally healthy form of work to the human psyche.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 3:31 pm |

      I’m worried you’re arguing with me just to argue since I’m concerned about what affect it will have on the poor and disabled women if we doa lot of activism to promote sex work as an equally healthy form of work to the human psyche.

      Christ on a cracker. Yes, I’m totally against poor and disabled women, and that’s why I disagree with your whacked-out idea that the government will totally sex-traffic poor disabled women if we start saying that sex work isn’t necessarily traumatising. (Nobody is saying it CANNOT be traumatising; what we’re saying is it isn’t necessarily traumatising IF CHOSEN.)

      And thank you for implying that I’m only disagreeing with you because you’re arguing on behalf of poor/disabled women. That’s really very grody. Congratulations. It’s not like i know disability or anything, right?

      1. rox
        rox February 7, 2013 at 12:08 pm |

        Also I think this statement was unclear and it got your panties in a bunch for no reason. This statement is meant to state, “The reason I think we mostly agree and you’re aguing just to argue is that we clearly both care about poor people and are arguing specifics of the best way to support people in poverty and with disabilities.”

        I think you really want to read into it that I’m attacking you when that statement was attempting to do the opposite. I did suggest that if you don’t care about protecting women from coerced sex work then you certainly don’t care about poor or disabled women. Since that is not your position, that accusation would clearly not apply, right? My concern is there is a lot of talk in this thread– NOT BY YOU- mind you, about how forced sex work (Due to circumstances) is the same as forced food service work (due to circumstances). This is like saying that being forced by circumstance to work with lead paint carries the same risk as being forced by circumstance to poor coffee. Sexual trauma (which includes all forms of unwanted, pressured, coerced penetration and sexual activity) carries specific psychological and physical health risk that are unique compared to scrubbing pizza tins or packing boxes. How that affects specific individuals in itself unique and depends on their circumstances– again a person can need money and want to do sex work but also be comfortable to have the sex, i.e. freely choosing to have the sex and ok with it and comfortable with doing it for money. Sure, if that is the case, I would not consider that rape/sexual abuse sex. But the reality for so many people right now is that the safety net is NOT THERE. So pretending that there is not a majority foster alumni and runaway and abused girls in sex work who feel unable to do other forms of work and make it on a daily basis is counter reality. Sex work does feel very forced for many women and for the women in my life who have TOLD ME their experiences felt traumatic and who have serious mental health problems and PTSD from their experiences, I absolutely refuse to claim their experience shouldn’t factor into policy decisions and decisions to render aid. I feel like a lot of the “Well sex work is fine for some women, so those women who get traumatized by it need to deal with their own choices” that I have seen stated in some conversations (not in this thread so save the concept I’m attacking anyone here!) is abusive to women who feel trauma from their experiences in sex work. I am all for creating ways for women who like sex work as an option to have that option once we create a safety net that makes it an actual choice. I am opposed to sex workers being treated as criminals. However I am also opposed to stating that men are off the hook legally for their purchasing. Men use legality as an excuse to claim sex work is therefore not a profession that entrapps many women who ARE in a duress of circumstances and who will often be psychologically harmed by it. Plenty of women want it as a chosen career and their needs, quite frankly, should be addressed after we protect women from being raped which is more pressing than preventing people from having to do food service work.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 3:58 pm |

          Got my “panties in a bunch” did it?

          Right, but I’M the one abusing YOU. You know what, at this point I don’t trust word one out of your mouth. Just…stop talking to me, and I’m not talking to you anymore either.

        2. rox
          rox February 7, 2013 at 4:08 pm |

          Hey you have called me a fucktwit. I hardly think saying you got your panties in a bunch is as offensive as that.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 4:21 pm |

          Hey you have called me a fucktwit. I hardly think saying you got your panties in a bunch is as offensive as that.

          One’s gendered; the other isn’t. ^__^ Have a nice day.

  16. rox
    rox February 6, 2013 at 3:42 pm |

    What I mean is, I’m not sure you’re considering the ramifications of encouraging sex work as having the same psychological risks as flipping burgers.

    I’m also saying that you’re not even the person I was arguing with about that statement.

    So what I mean is, I feel like you’re assuming I’m against you when I wasn’t even arguing with you to begin with.

    And I’m saying that “chosen” is going to be way more complex than a black and white “this is freely chosen consequence free sex work” and “this is edconomically forced rape sex work.

    I also feel like saying the consequences of sex work are similar to burger flipping so long as you consent are just plain false.

    1. Punchdrunk
      Punchdrunk February 6, 2013 at 8:43 pm |

      They’re more worried about insulting prostitutes than all the working class women who do housekeeping and food service.
      We shouldn’t be insulted by being compared to prostitutes because…sexual objectification and coercion and women as the sex class only does harm if you aren’t getting paid, I guess? I should encourage my daughter and son to exchange sex for money instead of working food service – it just makes economic sense, and it’s exactly the same thing!

      1. lynx wings
        lynx wings February 7, 2013 at 12:54 am |

        Comparing a menial worker to a sex worker is only degrading if you think sex workers are less than menial workers.

        That’s the attitude that results in sex workers getting raped, beaten and killed, police not following up or helping, former sex workers getting fired from their jobs and all the guys who call me to yell insults at me because I’m a dirty sex worker.

        So yeah, menial workers can suck up any discomfort they may have at the comparison people are making in this thread.

        1. martine votvik
          martine votvik February 7, 2013 at 7:28 am |

          That’s the attitude that results in sex workers getting raped, beaten and killed,

          I strongly disagree with this.

          I think men are fully capable of hating women all on their own and aided by pornofied culture. Men doesn’t rape, beat and kill prostitutes because they are prostitutes, they rape beat and kill women because they are women.

          There is no privilege in the world that makes a woman safe from sexualized violence.

        2. lynx wings
          lynx wings February 7, 2013 at 12:23 pm |

          @Martine Votvik:

          Because society’s atitude towards sex workers has NOTHING to do with why men can get away with beating and raping sex workers. Or why police refer to cases of murdered sex workers as “no humans involved.” Or why sex workers don’t report rapes, even ones that happen outside of work, because being a sex worker means you’re “unrapeable.”

          Oh, and if you do sex work to pay for school there’s a change that degree will be useless because no one will hire you if they find out.

          The Long Island serial killer called his victim’s relatives to talk about how much he hated prostitutes, so there’s that.

          You’re clearly quite ignorant about the issues sex workers face.

  17. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca February 6, 2013 at 4:27 pm |

    I’m personally a fan of capitalist marketplaces because I don’t think there’s a better system out there

    This is your problem, Jill. As long as you support capitalism, you will never be able to fully reconcile your support of sex workers’ rights with your support of sex positivity. You believe that sex should be something that’s done freely and for the enjoyment of it. This is true. But it’s not just true for sex. There’s nothing inherently unique about “sex,” it’s just one more form of human social interaction. And ALL human social interaction should be done freely and for enjoyment. NONE of it should be coerced, whether through violence or through an economic system backed by violence. In my opinion, Jill, you’ll never succeed in your hope to eliminate the commodification of sexual activity while insisting that the commodification of other forms of human activity continue.

    1. mxe354
      mxe354 February 6, 2013 at 5:26 pm |

      In my opinion, Jill, you’ll never succeed in your hope to eliminate the commodification of sexual activity while insisting that the commodification of other forms of human activity continue.

      Word.

    2. PM
      PM February 6, 2013 at 5:52 pm |

      I hate to do the whole “+1″ thing, but I don’t have anything to add. Thanks, LotusBecca.

    3. amblingalong
      amblingalong February 6, 2013 at 7:01 pm |

      This is your problem, Jill.

      In your time here, LotusBecca, you have written many many words about how capitalism is bad. In that same time you have written exactly zero words about a better alternative, which seems to be par for the course for most anti-free-market folk.

      PS. I think you’re pretty great and you say a lot of deeply insightful things.

      1. LotusBecca
        LotusBecca February 6, 2013 at 7:19 pm |

        PS. I think you’re pretty great and you say a lot of deeply insightful things.

        Thanks, amblingalong! I think you are pretty great, too!

        Anyway, I feel that I have written quite a bit about better alternatives to capitalism. You just don’t recognize these contributions because you either think my alternatives are, in fact, worse than capitalism, or you think that they are not possible or realistic. But I simply don’t think it’s accurate to imply I’ve just criticized and never presented what I consider to be an alternative.

        1. amblingalong
          amblingalong February 6, 2013 at 7:33 pm |

          What I’ve seen is a lot of principles (everything should be distributed equally, people shouldn’t be coerced, etc.) but not actual policy (here’s how we incentivize labor; here’s how we make sure unpleasant but unnecessary jobs get done; here’s how we make sure things are distributed correctly without market mechanisms).

          I’m truly not trying to be an ass, and I’m totally happy to just drop this, but it feels like we don’t just disagree; we’re not even having the same conversation, and I’d like to.

        2. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca February 6, 2013 at 7:48 pm |

          Part of the reason I haven’t gone into more detail is because most of these threads haven’t been about “outline your ideal socialist society.” Most of the time what happens is I make some passing comment about how I oppose capitalism that’s tangential to the thread topic, someone challenges it, I respond, and so on. Even given the new-ish threaded comment system on Feministe, I have some concerns about going too wildly off the topic at hand, so I’m not about to just type out my entire anarchist manifesto.

          Secondly, going into detail here doesn’t seem to be a productive use of my time. If people seem broadly dismissive of my ideas, why would I want to spend time outlining for them in exhaustive detail every nuance of my ideas? I would rather spend time educating people who seem receptive to such information. Once before, amblingalong, I said if you were really interested in having an in-depth conversation of capitalism/socialism I’d be happy to have it with you over email. You didn’t take me up on it.

          Finally, a core part of my philosophy, as an anarchist, involves not planning out things too much in depth. I can have opinions, sure, but I don’t see my role as coming up with a perfect plan and then getting everyone else to agree with it. I want everyone to have an equal say in how our society evolves going forward; that’s the whole point.

        3. amblingalong
          amblingalong February 6, 2013 at 10:10 pm |

          I totally forgot about that offer; I often get really busy and drop off commenting for a while. My e-mail address is amblingalong1 [at] gmail [dot] com; I’d love to actually have that conversation.

          Thanks for reminding me!

          [Edited the e-mail address to avoid spambots. -C]

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 10:14 pm |

          Becca, amblingalong, I have no real contributions to make to this but I would love to be in on your discussion, if that’s okay!

        5. A4
          A4 February 6, 2013 at 10:38 pm |

          Hey Y’all, how about we meet on the open thread this weekend for a rousing round of governmental theories and anti-theories? Or we could probably still use the last open thread if we want to do it right away.

        6. mxe354
          mxe354 February 6, 2013 at 11:47 pm |

          Hey Y’all, how about we meet on the open thread this weekend for a rousing round of governmental theories and anti-theories? Or we could probably still use the last open thread if we want to do it right away.

          If you folks end up doing that, I’ll be happy to join!

        7. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca February 7, 2013 at 7:53 am |

          I totally forgot about that offer; I often get really busy and drop off commenting for a while. My e-mail address is amblingalong1 [at] gmail [dot] com; I’d love to actually have that conversation.

          Cool! I will drop you a line sometime in the next few days, amblingalong.

          Becca, amblingalong, I have no real contributions to make to this but I would love to be in on your discussion, if that’s okay!

          That sounds great, Mac. My email is rebeccaweaver [at] riseup [dot] net. If you want, you can write me so I have your email, too. That way amblingalong and I can forward you our messages, and if you do end up having any contributions, you can feel free to add them to the discussion!

          Hey Y’all, how about we meet on the open thread this weekend for a rousing round of governmental theories and anti-theories? Or we could probably still use the last open thread if we want to do it right away.

          Ehhh. I don’t think that’s something I’d personally want to be part of, no offense. I’ve been a vocal anarchist and socialist for a while, and I’ve had a lot of discussions with random people. I’ve found most of those discussions end up being a waste of my time. I don’t want to talk about this in a public space like Feministe because then any person could come along, no matter how ignorant and annoying, and derail the conversation with their ignorant opinions. And I’ve heard a lot of the same crap on these topics a hundred times and am frankly sick of a lot of it by now. So I prefer to have these conversations in a bit more of a controlled environment with people I actually know and respect and have already established some rapport with. Although you definitely seem cool A4, and mxe354 is cool, too! So both of you can feel free to email me if you’d like to participate in my conversation with amblingalong.

          [Edited the e-mail addresses to avoid spambots. -C]

    4. Henry
      Henry February 6, 2013 at 8:58 pm |

      If it should not be commodified why should it be legal? seems we’d want to work the other way towards making other jobs illegal too. Until we get those Star Trek replicators online we’ll just have to put up with coercing/incentivizing people to do stuff nobody wants to do. Putting stuff inside your privates or on your privates is not something we should be coercing people to do in exchange for food, shelter and some discretionary luxuries. You have life options and want to do it – great, ditto with porn stars – there are some in the industry who absolutely whole heartdly love banging people on camera. I draw the line where this is the only option presented to people – fuck or starve should not be a social policy.

      1. LotusBecca
        LotusBecca February 6, 2013 at 9:23 pm |

        Until we get those Star Trek replicators online we’ll just have to put up with coercing/incentivizing people to do stuff nobody wants to do.

        Er, no. You can put up with capitalism if you’d like, but I don’t “have to” put up with capitalism, and in fact, I’m not putting up with it. I’m very strongly opposed to it, actually

  18. hotpot
    hotpot February 6, 2013 at 4:34 pm |

    Fascinating– while I can’t think of any single factor that makes sex different from other kinds of labor, there’s no question that sex is a uniquely situated human activity so this must be either due to a single overriding factor or a group of factors that work together. I suspect the latter.

    One factor is that sex itself, when conceived as a commodity, a purely physical or carnal pleasure, is inherently objectifying. It deals in a person’s physical features rather than intellect, personality, or overall humanity. It does so more intimately than other forms of manual labor, because in those cases, the body is put to use as the means for some other ends; for instance, to move a box from A to B. But sexual objectification is inherent in the body itself. Hence, labor-saving modern machines that reduced the commodification of human bodies for manual labor didn’t do the same for sexual labor.

    Another factor is that the burden falls very unequally. On women as compared to men, on the young compared to the old, on historically exploited populations, and on underprivileged economic classes. This makes it a particular concern for feminists and social justice activists.

    And thirdly, as Jill pointed out, there is a tension between this commodified view of sex and an alternative view of sex as a mutually enjoyable activity between two people. Since, by definition, all people except for asexuals have the biological ability to experience sexual pleasure, it seems that the more natural conception of sex (as well as the more humane one) among sexual people revolves around mutual pleasure.

    With all of that being said I do think that it’s possible to do sex work that makes heavy use of the worker’s intellect and personality, and in some kinds of sex (ones that involve more than vanilla sex, or that reward building relationships) work it’s undoubtedly a necessity. There’s definitely a huge gray area between what’s sexual but still aesthetic and/or artistic and what’s just a stand-in for sex. With for example, purchasing companionship / friendship in some way on one end of the spectrum, and purchasing someone’s body to masturbate in on the other end.

    1. LC
      LC February 6, 2013 at 5:10 pm |

      Since, by definition, all people except for asexuals have the biological ability to experience sexual pleasure

      A side note to the main conversation, but I’m pretty sure that asexual generally refers to lack of sexual desire, not lack of ability to experience sexual pleasure.

      (That’s doesn’t really affect your main point in any way, I just thought it a point worth noting.)

      1. hotpot
        hotpot February 6, 2013 at 5:45 pm |

        I know you’re right, but suffice it to say that when I was typing the post I wasn’t thinking there was any difference between the two, so read it whichever way makes the most sense. I know that we can get into pages and pages of uncovering the nuances of this, but I feel that would be better for a separate discussion.

        In any case, on second thought I also think we need to distinguish between the commodification of sex with the commodification of bodies, since we’re really only talking about the former and the latter is actually much more universal. The commodification of sex is only unique in that it’s an unequal commodification of bodies; one person’s body is more commodified than the other’s, and the difference is made up by some other exchange (such as money, social stability, or whatever). But even without the commodification of sex, the commodification of bodies would still be rampant. Only it would be a more equal commodification because others means of exchange would not be considered.

        1. LC
          LC February 6, 2013 at 6:07 pm |

          I know that we can get into pages and pages of uncovering the nuances of this, but I feel that would be better for a separate discussion

          It would and it has been and that’s why I mentioned it as an aside to the main point and yes, not for here and now.

      2. thinksnake
        thinksnake February 7, 2013 at 12:56 am |

        Yeah, it’s anorgasmia that covers at least part of lack of sexual pleasure. Something I’ve had in the past (yay mental illness and various medications for!), and was really really shit, but absolutely not something I would compare to asexuality.

  19. rox
    rox February 6, 2013 at 4:40 pm |

    Wait wait, capitalism isn’t necessarily backed by violence. In fact, one could argue it’s a peaceful concept in some ways.

    The idea is that if you don’t have food and you want food, you can’t FORCE other people to give it to you. You have to do work in order to get needs met.

    Socialism is backed by violence to, if people are forced by a military backed government to pay taxes for the well being of the needy.

    The land ownership issue is where it gets murky because if individuals could grow their own food and build houses for themselves there wouldn’t be this situation of essentially dependant serfs (apartment and couchserfing and homeless) wage earners who have no alternative than to depend on whatever land/business owners will hire them with no access to materials and land to build their own business or take the power back unless they can play the game of the school system and corporate businesses or somehow get capital to start their own independant business.

    And I’m going to straight up say that being forced at gunpoint to hand over cash from a cash register- while traumatic and potentially PTSD inducing, is NOT the same thing as being forced at gun point to be penetrated or do sexual acts. If you do research on trauma and the effects, I think you will find sexual trauma IS different than other types of trauma in terms of types of mental illness/PTSD and various trauma effects.

    1. LotusBecca
      LotusBecca February 6, 2013 at 4:48 pm |

      Rox, I assume your comment is largely in response to me, so that’s how I’m going to interpret it. Sorry if I’m mistaken.

      Anyway, under capitalism, a military backed government enforces private property rights. This is how capitalism always has been and always will be, the fantasies of Murray Rothbard notwithstanding.

      Also, I never said or meant to imply that being raped is the same thing as being robbed. I don’t think that at all.

      1. amblingalong
        amblingalong February 6, 2013 at 7:03 pm |

        Anyway, under capitalism, a military backed government enforces private property rights.

        There is no form of government which doesn’t involve the state holding some coercive power.

        1. GallingGalla
          GallingGalla February 6, 2013 at 10:03 pm |

          Anarchism.

        2. amblingalong
          amblingalong February 6, 2013 at 10:07 pm |

          Anarchism isn’t a form of government.

    2. mxe354
      mxe354 February 6, 2013 at 5:35 pm |

      The idea is that if you don’t have food and you want food, you can’t FORCE other people to give it to you. You have to do work in order to get needs met.

      Socialism is backed by violence to, if people are forced by a military backed government to pay taxes for the well being of the needy.

      You are thinking about only one kind of socialism. Not all socialism is backed by violence. In fact, genuine socialism – that which is anti-statist – requires no violence whatsoever in order to exist.

      And I’m going to straight up say that being forced at gunpoint to hand over cash from a cash register- while traumatic and potentially PTSD inducing, is NOT the same thing as being forced at gun point to be penetrated or do sexual acts. If you do research on trauma and the effects, I think you will find sexual trauma IS different than other types of trauma in terms of types of mental illness/PTSD and various trauma effects.

      All Becca is saying is that it’s wrong to think that the commodification of sex is the only thing we should oppose because she thinks the commodification of any kind of human activity is wrong.

      1. amblingalong
        amblingalong February 6, 2013 at 7:03 pm |

        In fact, genuine socialism – that which is anti-statist – requires no violence whatsoever in order to exist.

        In the sense that Santa Claus does not require violence to exist, true.

        1. mxe354
          mxe354 February 6, 2013 at 7:32 pm |

          You don’t think anti-statist socialism is a thing? Not surprising. Despite the fact that it’s been around for quite some time, it doesn’t receive nearly as much attention as statist “socialist” ideologies like Marxism-Leninism.

        2. amblingalong
          amblingalong February 6, 2013 at 7:35 pm |

          You don’t think anti-statist socialism is a thing?

          I think it’s an academic theory, sure. I don’t think it’s a ‘thing’ in the sense of ‘a workable system for running a society.’

          I’ve read my Fourier.

  20. Schmorgluck
    Schmorgluck February 6, 2013 at 5:00 pm |

    There are regulationists, who think that there’s no problem with prostitution so long as it’s properly regulated.

    There are prohibitionists, who favor cracking down on prostitution, often without reguard for the dignity of the persons involved.

    There are abolitionists, who want prostitution to disappear, but find the prohibitionist approach harmful, and can consider some aspects of the regulationist approach as transitionally useful.

    Okay, that’s a quite rough characterization from an abolitionist guy. A point I wanted to make, though, is one should be wary of prohibitionists who disguise as abolitionnists.

    Oh, and I speak specifically of prostitution because I find pornography (despite the etymology of the word) to have a largely different set of issues (with some intersections, like trafficking and exploitation of minors).

    1. LotusBecca
      LotusBecca February 6, 2013 at 5:21 pm |

      Most self-identified abolitionists support the Swedish/Nordic model of arresting johns but not sex workers. In my opinion, this model counts as “cracking down on prostitution, often without regard for the dignity of the persons involved.” That’s great if you don’t support the Swedish model, but that puts you in the minority among abolitionists, as far as I can tell.

      And in practical terms, I don’t see much distinction between prohibitionists and abolitionists in terms the negative impact their activism has on sex workers, which is why I oppose both groups.

      1. Schmorgluck
        Schmorgluck February 7, 2013 at 3:04 am |

        To be honest, I used to support the Swedish model, but I don’t anymore, since it hasn’t proven very efficient against trafficking and ended up harming the prostitutes themselves (I honestly don’t give a shit about the johns).

        I have no real answer in terms of policy. I’m uncertain about the appropriate means. I currently think that uprooting rape culture is the best shot we have.

        But I’m still firmly in the opinion that prostitution shouldn’t exist.

    2. Henry
      Henry February 6, 2013 at 9:11 pm |

      regulationist is what is going to actually work, just like it has worked in other legal professions. We rarely hear of workers in the USA chained to machines anymore – there are still abuses but people can get redress, even agaisnt behemoths like Walmart. Ever try suing your pimp for overtime? The swedish model is not without huge problems, it has not helped sex workers avoid abuse. However until I see regulation come about I will continue to oppose the abusers and those who profit from them. I don’t think customers should be arrested anymore than workers.

    3. Miriam
      Miriam February 7, 2013 at 6:35 pm |

      You’ve forgotten about decriminalization, which last time I read the literature is the position advocated by most sex workers. Regulation, at least in practice, tends to impose additional burdens upon sex workers for benefit of non-sex workers in a location (i.e. the NIMBYism that leads to brothels and red-light districts) or customers (i.e. STI inspection). I know of no good models where regulations have been about empowering sex workers.

      1. Schmorgluck
        Schmorgluck February 8, 2013 at 5:54 am |

        Mmmh, yeah, I guess I could have added that as a category, although every serious abolitionist group I know is in favor of decriminalization.

        1. Miriam
          Miriam February 8, 2013 at 12:49 pm |

          But advocating decriminalization is different from advocating abolition. I’m pro-decriminalization but I am most definitely not an abolitionist. I think sex work is valuable work, so I have no desire to see it eliminated. What I support eliminating is coercive sex work, the stigmas around sex work, and the risks involved in sex work.

          So I think it’s important to keep decriminalization as its own category. It’s the one that too often gets left out of the discussion if people are unfamiliar with the literature on problems with legalization/regulation.

  21. James
    James February 6, 2013 at 5:08 pm |

    First off, I must confess that I want no part of Jill’s “feminist utopia” if her vision of paradise excludes McDonalds, Walmart, and hookers. (Kidding. Kind of. I do crave a McRib every so often…)

    What I find most distressing about this topic as it is discussed in feminist circles is the apparent assumption that ‘my own view or circumstance must be true for everyone. ‘

    To continue with the sex-work/fast food analogy…
    Yes, I think that to some people, sex really can be as trivial or mundane as any other job. And, of course, for others sex holds a different place in the human experience than do more mundane tasks (ie: flipping burgers) and is treated / viewed differently.

    In this instance, I absolutely oppose the restriction of personal choice and rights by the more mainstream (sex is special) set on the minority (sex is fair game to sell) viewpoint.

    There is of course some gray area and overlap of these sets. Some women may choose to engage in sex work with some misgivings, but the bottom line is that legislating gray areas of morality is problematic in a free society, and in MY view of a feminist utopia, women don’t have paternalistic watchdogs preventing them from making decisions about what to do with their personal lives.

    Of course, this only works if there is a real freedom of choice in the first place. Surely we can all agree that victims of sex trafficing and slavery and abusive situations are not the same as an independent woman with an adult Craigslist ad who sets up her own appointments and selects her own clients.

    Its silly to say the woman in that scenario doesn’t have a ‘real choice’ because quitting sex work might cause economic hardship.

    A better analogy than fast food might be that pharmacist a few years ago who felt a moral prohibition against filling a morning after pill prescription. Of course, he too experienced financial hardships (he lost his job as I recall). But he made a choice. He had a choice. So does the Craigslist woman.

  22. Got Plantation Owner? | This Old Whore House

    [...] Supporting Sex Workers’ Rights, Opposing the Buying of Sex By Jill on 2.6.2013 [...]

  23. There’s a post on sex work on Feministe, and it is Teh Fail « Jadehawk's Blog

    [...] wrote a blog post titled Supporting Sex Workers’ Rights, Opposing the Buying of Sex. Reading it, I once again did that thing where I start arguing with an online article in my head, [...]

  24. jemima101
    jemima101 February 6, 2013 at 8:55 pm |

    Yeah, I read this, and I felt various kinds of sad, mainly because I like Jill, and the fails were so big and so wide,

    Anyway, someone who knows the proper feminist language wrote this

    http://jadehawks.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/theres-a-post-on-sex-work-on-feministe-and-it-is-teh-fail/

    Forgive me for channeling upgoerfive. I am seriously exhausted,

    1. Li
      Li February 6, 2013 at 9:45 pm |

      Oh, THANK FUCK for someone who actually knows what the word “agency” means.

      (and thanks for the link jemima101.)

      1. A4
        A4 February 6, 2013 at 10:08 pm |

        Seriously! That post defined terms with a cool precision that I found breathtaking.

    2. A4
      A4 February 6, 2013 at 10:03 pm |

      Thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat was awesome. Thanks for the link. And for your effort on the other thread.

    3. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 10:21 pm |

      Hmm. While I definitely agreed with Jill that a lot of the things she brings up are things I’ve thought about, this article shifted a lot of things around in my vision. I was supporting sex workers on a sort of automatic “fuck you they have rights too” basis on the otther thread, but it’s…hm. A lot more complex.

      Thank you for the link, jemima.

    4. hotpot
      hotpot February 6, 2013 at 10:59 pm |

      Wow, this response is amazing. It would be impossible to even list out in any concise way all the things that are good about article.

    5. Donna L
      Donna L February 6, 2013 at 11:51 pm |

      Thanks for the link; I was really impressed with that article.

    6. Combray
      Combray February 7, 2013 at 7:49 am |

      Thank you for the link, that was a fantastic article. I mostly agree with Jill’s posts, but this one really misses the mark, in my opinion.

      1. jemima101
        jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 7:51 am |

        Thanks to everyone who said thank you for the link :-) It is awesome in every way.

        1. A4
          A4 February 7, 2013 at 8:25 am |

          I was just reading through this whole thread again and shaking my head in exasperation. That this link was posted below was great consolation.

    7. afb1221
      afb1221 February 7, 2013 at 2:13 pm |

      I agree, it’s an excellent article. Thanks for it.

    8. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan February 8, 2013 at 11:56 am |

      I tried to read it, but it got dumb fast. And the ending frankly lost me:

      The equivalent of “end demand” would be to insist on the end of demand for any industry**** in which workers are exploited. Which is all of them. Which is marxism.

      ‘Cause… no. This is so incorrect that it’s laughable. Every industry is inherently exploitative? Not hardly. Jill made that explicit in her post; reading comprehension issues aside, Jill flat out said it that she doesn’t think the sex work industry and other industries are the same. Reducing demand for the one does not necessitate reducing demand for the others — people need food and medical care and shelter, but not sex. One of those things is not like the other.

      1. jemima101
        jemima101 February 8, 2013 at 2:08 pm |

        In your view…

  25. dc
    dc February 6, 2013 at 9:53 pm |

    WOW.
    Jill,great post.
    this is such a complex issue.
    total kudos to you for this.
    courageous intelligent and really well done.
    thanks so very much…..

  26. Reggie Rock
    Reggie Rock February 6, 2013 at 9:56 pm |

    So sex in your feminist utopia would be ” a fun thing, a collaborative thing, always entered into freely and enthusiastically and without coercion.”

    So what about the loners, those that social standards of the time find ugly (do you really think fads and cultural standards will ever go away), what of the disabled, or those with social disorders that prevent them from forming a relationship but still desire sexual fulfillment? What is going to happen to these people?

    In your feminist utopia sex is something that only happens in specific social relationships and so is limited to those capable of having them. That’s the majority but there is a sizeable minority who are incapable through culture, birth, or psychology of forming these relationships.

    I hire prostitutes. I am a John. I’m an overweight agoraphobic with social anxiety (and I’m not too handsome either). I cannot form the kind of relationships necessary to have feminist utopian sex. Yet I still desire sex and there are those willing to have sex with me in exchange for money. Willing to overlook my weight, my social awkwardness, and my inability to leave my home.

    In the feminist utopia I will never be able to find those people as they will have been shamed and regulated out of existence. And people like me who are not privileged enough to operate in social circles will have yet another fundamental part of human existence cut off from us forever.

    Enjoy your sexual privilege.

    1. Hrovitnir
      Hrovitnir February 7, 2013 at 9:53 pm |

      I do *not* think all johns are scum. I do think a vast majority of them are probably entitled arseholes at best – and abusive in far too many cases – but I support your reason for hiring sex workers, and I think it’s entirely possible to have a good transactional sexual relationship.

      That said, your comment was some self-pitying bullshit.

      Enjoy your sexual privilege.

      This, mostly is what sealed my fuck off reaction. NO ONE is entitled to sex. Sex is not an entitlement. As someone with a very high sex drive I have sympathy but access to sex is not a fucking privilege on a par with race/gender/sexual orientation privilege. Just NO.

      And beyond that, the only people I’ve heard use that phrase before are MRAs that live through a lens of massive stereotyping of who gets laid and totally dehumanise any disabled/unattractive women in this discussion. So excuse me if I am deeply suspicious of this statement.

      So sex in your feminist utopia would be ” a fun thing, a collaborative thing, always entered into freely and enthusiastically and without coercion.”

      So what about the loners, those that social standards of the time find ugly (do you really think fads and cultural standards will ever go away), what of the disabled, or those with social disorders that prevent them from forming a relationship but still desire sexual fulfillment? What is going to happen to these people?

      Guess what? It’s patronising as all fuck to say that it’s impossible for the people you’ve listed to have sexual or romantic relationships. People who fit some or all of those have fulfilling relationships all the time. Yeah, there are unique challenges, and I am in no way disregarding them but as someone who resembles some of that you can fuck right off with that condescending bullshit. You don’t talk for me.

      And again: lots of sympathy for the very small minority that really struggle but NO ONE IS ENTITLED TO SEX. I think it’s great if there are sex workers that want to fulfill this niche but if there’s no one who really, freely wants to do that? Too bad. Are we supposed to see it as a crime against humanity if there are sex workers available but they’re too expensive? Follow that line of reasoning, buddy.

      I hire prostitutes. I am a John. I’m an overweight agoraphobic with social anxiety (and I’m not too handsome either). I cannot form the kind of relationships necessary to have feminist utopian sex. Yet I still desire sex and there are those willing to have sex with me in exchange for money. Willing to overlook my weight, my social awkwardness, and my inability to leave my home.

      Maybe you can’t form non-transactional relationships for these reasons. Maybe it’s because of all of the above – and because no have no time for the foibles of another human being.

  27. Lauren
    Lauren February 7, 2013 at 12:27 am |

    Wonderful post. I too exist in that tenuous space between being an anti-sex-trafficking feminist and understanding sex worker rights. You touch on the aspect that I feel a lot of sex workers rights activists leave out: privilege. If the average age of entry into prostitution is 12-14 in the US, what does that say about consent? About coercion? About bodily autonomy? If a 12-14 year-old girl can’t legally consent to sex in this country, how can she consent to prostitution? How can she consent to selling sex?

    While some groups seek criminalization of prostitution, there are some anti-sexual exploitation groups that actively work to decriminalize prostitution for women but instead choose to focus on criminalizing the demand: the men who buy and sell sex.

    Regardless, thank you for this important piece, Jill!

    1. jemima101
      jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 9:49 am |

      The average age of entry isnt 12 to 14, if all you know is Farley, go away read, learn (I put some stuff higher up) and then come back.

      Since the rest of your comment is based on a made up lie its not really worth reading.

      1. Lauren
        Lauren February 7, 2013 at 12:06 pm |

        Not sure the harsh condemnatory tone is necessary, but regardless, I’m using statistics that are well-known and well-documented that the average age of entry into prostitution in the United States is 12-14. And if this statistic is well-documented, it’s going to be the one I use.

        http://www.ct.gov/dcf/cwp/view.asp?a=4127&Q=492900

        I am not condemning sex workers, but I do believe that many of their advocates conveniently avoid their own privilege in an effort to promote their rights. While some freely choose to enter into sex work and consent to it, many do not, and a large number of them are women/girls of color.

        1. jemima101
          jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 12:12 pm |

          The tone is because it is a lie, and if you read the links you will see that. The fact it is accepted is a sign of how dangerous not calling out the lie every time it is promoted is.

          The anti lobby and its right wing religious supporters are a huge powerful industry, the same people who want to close planned parenthood also want to control womens bodies when it comes to sex work.

        2. Wendy Lyon
          Wendy Lyon February 7, 2013 at 1:42 pm |

          Lauren, the citation on that page doesn’t work, but I assume they’re referring to a University of Pennsylvania study which is the usual source for the claim that the average age of entry is 12-14.

          The title of that study is “The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S, Canada and Mexico”. See that? It’s a study of children in the sex trade. Every single one of its subjects, by definition, entered the industry below the age of 18. It is not a study of the general sex working population (whatever that is), and tells us nothing about the overall average age of entry.

        3. jemima101
          jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 1:46 pm |

          I did point that out, around 500 comments ago. I may have to step out soon, being repeatedly told I either dont care or am too stupid to know I am being raped is starting to wear me down.

      2. Lauren
        Lauren February 7, 2013 at 2:47 pm |

        I never said that you don’t care or you are stupid to know you’re being raped. Those are horrific comments and I would never make them. I’m sorry if someone else is, but I am unequivocally not.

        All I was trying to do was point out that there is a discrepancy under the law about girls being too young to consent to sex but still prosecuted for supposedly consenting to prostitution. I personally favor the decriminalization of prostitution for those who are prostituted and instead favor criminalizing pimps who sell women like commodities. That’s my two cents. I appreciate that not everyone will agree with me.

    2. amblingalong
      amblingalong February 7, 2013 at 12:22 pm |

      If the average age of entry into prostitution is 12-14 in the US, what does that say about consent? About coercion? About bodily autonomy? If a 12-14 year-old girl can’t legally consent to sex in this country, how can she consent to prostitution? How can she consent to selling sex?

      OK, even if these facts are true, nobody is arguing that a 12-14 year old can consent to selling sex. This is a total non-sequitor. The ability of a child to consent to sex has no bearing on the ability of an adult to consent to sex.

  28. Amanda
    Amanda February 7, 2013 at 12:35 am |

    In the above piece the author said this
    “Because sex wouldn’t be this commodified thing that some people (mostly woman) have and other people (mostly men) get. ”

    In my opinion this is harmful thinking. Not everything that is sold is objectified. We do not say the surgeon, firefighter, police officer, professor, or waitress are being objectified or being turned into a thing that is sold. I completely agree that when sex is thought of as a commodity instead of an act or a service we run into problems. However, by acting as if money is a magic wand that magically turns consensual sex into a harmful commodity we are subtly reinforcing the idea that sex is a commodity.

    We discuss prostitution as the use of a person’s body not a service. That is why there is the idea that you cannot rape a prostitute after money has exchanged hands. The person’s bodily autonomy has been sold. If a woman is selling a sexual act such as a handjob or anal penetration why is it so different from a surgeon selling the use of his hands, expertise and experience during open heart surgery? I feel that by opposing a consensual sexual act that happens to be paid for, we are perpetuating this erroneous idea. We can wrap up our opinions of why it is wrong in feminist language and speak until we are blue in the face about how it objectifies females, how they cannot actually make this choice, of how it is exploitative but that doesn’t change the root issue. Why is the act of prostitution considered selling the use of a person’s body and not the use of their services? Why is selling a sexual act different than selling constitutional knowledge on the supreme court or a waitress serving food to customers?

    1. amblingalong
      amblingalong February 7, 2013 at 12:12 pm |

      In my opinion this is harmful thinking. Not everything that is sold is objectified. We do not say the surgeon, firefighter, police officer, professor, or waitress are being objectified or being turned into a thing that is sold. I completely agree that when sex is thought of as a commodity instead of an act or a service we run into problems. However, by acting as if money is a magic wand that magically turns consensual sex into a harmful commodity we are subtly reinforcing the idea that sex is a commodity.

      THIS.

  29. Ismone
    Ismone February 7, 2013 at 1:03 am |

    Okay, how is this. I think ANY kind of work that requires a person to submit to physical contact with another person can be very problematic.

    I think that kind of work is problematic if it bothers the individual person. If it does not, fine, funsies, but please don’t generalize about those of us who find it incredibly violating.

    Signed,

    A woman who hates airport patdowns, hugging people I am not sleeping with/related to/friends with for more than 5 years.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 1:20 am |

      Sure! I don’t think anybody’s arguing that people who experience sex work as traumatic experience it as traumatic. We’re just saying that the people who don’t, don’t.

      How about this: some people are traumatised by and terrified of dogs and would never work in a pet shop. Others love pet shop employment, because all those puppies! And both kinds of people are okay and should be treated with respect (i.e. no chucking the first group into the pet shop AND no throwing the second group out of it). Dogs are a value neutral thing in life; nobody’s required to like/dislike them; dog like is not a party line, it’s a personal preference.

      Signed,

      A woman who bases her travel decisions on whether or not there are airport patdowns where she goes, hugs nobody she hasn’t known for <4 years, and gets physically ill being around groups of people indoors.

      1. BobChaos23
        BobChaos23 February 7, 2013 at 8:24 am |

        This.

        I don’t see why this is so complicated for some people…unless of course they just like imposing their personal sexual morality on people who have a different perspective.

        Sigh….

    2. Amanda
      Amanda February 7, 2013 at 3:50 am |

      Get a different profession then? That is like arguing that nursing is bad because you find handling blood uncomfortable.

      1. Ismone
        Ismone February 7, 2013 at 1:55 pm |

        The point being made by Rox and others on this thread is that sex work, for many people, is not *the same* as other types of work.

        People seem to basically be agreeing with that, but some differ.

        While it is fine, IMO, for individual persons to set up a hierarchy of sex is *the same*/*no worse*/*better* than other forms of labor that they find degrading, if we make that a social norm, that is where the things that Rox is concerned about may happen.

        People may be pressured into sexual jobs. And very, very many of us don’t want *anybody* pressured into providing sexual services, for reasons independent than we don’t like capitalism.

        So to draw a distinction and explain why, for some of us, providing sexual services would be more degrading/stressful *TO US* (which is not to say that this means that people who *choose* to provide sexual services are degraded or stressed, would have to look at the research/interview the individuals to work that one out) I explained how forcing physical contact of *ANY* kind, sexual or non, is often stressful for larges swathes of the population.

        So the argument I am making is that for many of us, sexual labor would be different. Now, are the reasons for that somewhat socially constructed? Yes.

        But as macavitykitsune and some on the other side of the debate have said, the issue is bodily autonomy. And we do have laws to deal with that, on the books. (Query how well they work.)

        Basically, I am trying to get at why people on this thread, like macavity and Rox, seem to really be getting into it–what is the source of the conflict, and how could we move forward with legalization/decriminalization/anti-trafficking in a way that addresses both concerns, and unintended consequences for both.

        In these threads over the past few days, I seem to have seen people saying the unintended consequences of anti-trafficking work is higher arrest rates of sex-workers, more harassment, more jail time, and very serious issues with transwomen, in particular, being wrongly arrested as “johns.” I have also seen Rox and others argue that the unintended consequences of legalization or perhaps even decriminalization is legitimating what is a sexist practice, the sexism being on the side of the buyer, and making it “work” that people who are already vulnerable and uninterested may be pressured into. Does that mean that I think sellers are doing something wrong? Nope. Some are acting out of free joyful choice, and even if they aren’t, the only person they are hurting is themselves–they are suffering because of cultural toxicity around entitlement, sexuality, and the like.

        1. Amanda
          Amanda February 7, 2013 at 9:55 pm |

          What about sex work makes it different from other work? It is simply a sexual act. I honestly think the only reason people feel this way is because of the prudishness that is part of our culture. Massaging a penis and massaging a back are only different because we as a culture SAY it is different. Why should massaging a back be legal and harmless while massaging a penis is illegal and harmful? Our society gives this weird special status to women’s sexuality as this huge thing that is a part of her rather than simply an act. That idea is extremely harmful to female sexuality and this stuff about prostitution being special because it is sex (notice how no one says that to male prostitutes who are doing the penetrating) is just reinforcing this idea.

        2. jemima101
          jemima101 February 8, 2013 at 2:58 am |

          This has reminded me of a niggle that has been in my mind about the thread. Among the massive assumptions about sex work being trotted out is that it always involves penetrative sex/ I would say less than half of my bookings involve that, and I know I am not unusual. (Normal privileged indoor worker caveat)

        3. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan February 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm |

          Why should massaging a back be legal and harmless while massaging a penis is illegal and harmful?

          Yeah, what’s the whole point about genitals in the first place? Anyone should be able to do what they like to another person’s genitals, and genitals should be a public matter. If I get stiff genitals I like to stretch them in public. I ask my students how their genitals are feeling today. And I’ve applied many a bandaid to a child’s genitals if they scraped them on the playground while genital-wrestling. If someone passes out, there is implied consent for me to fondle their genitals just like there is implied consent for me to start CPR. It’s just genitals!

  30. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
    The Kittehs' Unpaid Help February 7, 2013 at 1:47 am |

    Thank you, Jill. This is much how I feel. The other thread lost me; I was seeing too much “sex trafficking and sex work are terms used interchangably and therefore being against trafficking means you’re against sex workers!” in the comments. Sorry, when I hear about illegal brothel owners here (Australia) being tried for kidnapping, false imprisonment, theft of earnings, theft of passports and so on of the women who’ve been lured here on the promise of work (ie NOT sex work), I am not hearing a “sex workers are evil” message at all. And the “no police intervention is ever good” notion was making me sick precisely because of cases like these. There IS a huge difference between voluntary sex work (and yes, “voluntary” isn’t automatically a free choice) and sex trafficking, which involve all the crimes I mentioned above plus rape. Claiming it doesn’t makes no sense to me.

    1. Hrovitnir
      Hrovitnir February 7, 2013 at 10:40 pm |

      Ah, but Kitty, do you think prostitution should be illegal? Because decriminalisation of prostitution would not stop what you outlined happening. Kidnapping and rape continue to be horrific crimes.

      I understand that for you the idea of having sex for money is incomprehensible but try and look at these discussions from a practical point of view.

      I hate that these discussions genuinely end up centering privileged sex workers but christ, the way they are constantly erased means damn right they (and sympathisers) are going to start yelling louder and louder “I exist! And I matter too!”

      I’m pretty confident a vast majority of sex workers by choice would support helping trafficked and coerced sex workers, generally more passionately than academics discussing such things in theory!

  31. Kasabian
    Kasabian February 7, 2013 at 2:07 am |

    I used to wonder, more as an academic exercise, if there was a feminist way to be a john. A moot point, because I seriously doubt any john has ever been concerned with the feminism of their actions.

    But it’s an interesting line, isn’t it? Is it possible to consume any aspect of sex in a feminist way? Going to strip club? Watching or reading pornography?

    I’m not trying to make any sort of ‘slippery slope’ argument, but I do think it’s an interesting thing to consider, as there’s some overlap between ‘people who consider themselves feminist’ and ‘people who consume some sort of sex product’.

    Or maybe this is derailing / not something we even need to care about?

    1. Li
      Li February 7, 2013 at 2:25 am |

      For the record, there is also some overlap between ‘people who provide sexual services’ and ‘people who purchase sexual services’.

      And look, I don’t really want to reopen the porn wars, but feminists did pretty heavily have this discussion about consuming pornography, and I’m not sure that differences between paying someone for their sexual performance and paying someone for their more direct sexual services necessarily lead to a bright moral line.

    2. Tizz
      Tizz February 7, 2013 at 2:33 am |

      “because I seriously doubt any john has ever been concerned with the feminism of their actions.”

      How many johns have you actually talked to? Hm?

      1. Kasabian
        Kasabian February 7, 2013 at 10:51 am |

        Zero. So, you know. I’m probably wrong. :)

      2. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan February 8, 2013 at 12:06 pm |

        Okay, so have you met one, Tizz?

        1. Tizz
          Tizz February 8, 2013 at 3:58 pm |

          I’m a sex worker, so I have met and talked with my clients, yes.

          Bagelsan, I have seen your nonsensical and outrageous comments, and I can tell you in advance that I am not interested in having a discussion with you whatsoever. Thanks.

    3. Amanda
      Amanda February 7, 2013 at 3:55 am |

      I have personally never found any of that to be problematic. The big thing I wrestled with was how I personally have sex as I enjoy being dominated. I settled on the answer that you do not need to be constantly in control in order to be equal. You can consume pornography and sex without harming another person in a systemic way. Feminism is against systemic oppression so I think you can easily consume pornography in a feminist manner.

    4. karak
      karak February 7, 2013 at 5:59 am |

      Most of the pornography I know women to consume sidesteps the issue neatly by being drawn, animated, written, and not involving real bodies. Other people I know seek out “amateur” pornography, which is often done between sexual partners who have decided to film the act of sex, and not paid actors, and they feel it’s less coercive that way.

      I believe one can be a responsible john in the same way you can be a responsible buyer for, say, clothes: research various companies, read reviews, and the like. Specific for sex workers be being things like: look for signs of abuse or coercion, talk to your worker, and most of all, evaluate your own attitude and reasons for buying sex.

      1. Kasabian
        Kasabian February 7, 2013 at 11:10 am |

        I’m not sure that completely side-steps it though, because you’re still paying for sex, right? Whether it’s manufactured or grown organically with zero HMO’s, you’re still buying sex. Whether you buy a lapdance, a handjob, an erotic manga or novel, you’re still, at least in part, buying into ‘sex as product’. And if you view ‘sex’ as some sacred calf that cannot be ethically purchased, only freely given…?

        I dunno, I guess I’m going about it a round-about way, but my point is that I think there should be room for prostitutes and porn and those that love them in the feminist utopia.

        1. Schmorgluck
          Schmorgluck February 7, 2013 at 12:10 pm |

          Nope, it’s not sex. It’s a representation of sex (at best).

          In other words, ceci n’est pas une pipe.

        2. jemima101
          jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 12:13 pm |

          Oh just bugger off with your category errors.

        3. karak
          karak February 8, 2013 at 12:43 pm |

          I don’t have an issue with paying for sex as long as the other person is okay with being there and we have the premise of what’s about to happen.

          As long as there’s a clearly laid-out agreement, and both parties are sober and willing, I don’t care if there’s money, goods, or whatever exchanged.

    5. Kasabian
      Kasabian February 7, 2013 at 11:14 am |

      Also, more as a side note, here was my thought process when I first read OP:

      Wait, if there’s no prostitution in the feminist utopia, is there porn?

      Wait, if there’s no porn in the feminist utopia, is their masturbation?

      Wait, if there’s no masturbation in the feminist utopia…

      “I wanted to put a reference to masturbation in one of the scripts for the Sandman. It was immediately cut by the editor [Karen Berger]. She told me, “There’s no masturbation in the DC Universe.” To which my reaction was, “Well that explains a lot about the DC Universe.”
      -Neil Gaiman

      …holy shit, is the DC Universe a feminist utopia!?

      [/silly]

  32. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 2:37 am |

    Okay, so, I’m going to suggest something revolutionary to a whole lot of people on this thread: have you maybe considered not generalising your views on sex/life/bodies/emotions/pandas to everybody under the sun?

    I find it useful, myself, when dealing with the rest of the world. Or even people I know. Hell, I’m pretty freakin’ compatible with my wife, and we have radically opposing attitudes to sex most of the time! They work together, and we work together, because when we begin statements like “I can’t imagine how anybody”, or “there’s no way somebody”, or “all human being just are” or words to that effect…. we pause, take deep breaths and remind ourselves that the world is not exclusively populated by clones of us. It seems to do the trick.

    1. Amanda
      Amanda February 7, 2013 at 3:53 am |

      I understand why you say this but I dislike this idea. Generalization can be problematic but it is the only one to understand the world or try to understand society as a series of systems. The fields of psychology and sociology REQUIRE generalization in order to do anything. Not applying to EVERY SINGLE SITUATION is hardly a basis to deny that in most cases something works. I find ‘don’t generalize’ a weak argument.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 10:37 am |

        I generalise your response out of existence since other people agree with me.

        1. A4
          A4 February 7, 2013 at 1:01 pm |

          WIN. USING THIS

    2. BobChaos23
      BobChaos23 February 7, 2013 at 8:26 am |

      OMG, a rational persepctive.

      Now, watch everyone fight about it. :P

  33. f.
    f. February 7, 2013 at 4:20 am |

    Hey, so, for anyone who wants to look at some of the systemic issues involved here, I just want to recommend this Saskia Sassen article examining globalization as a women’s issue [will open as .pdf in your browser]: http://www.columbia.edu/~sjs2/PDFs/womensburden.2000.pdf

  34. karak
    karak February 7, 2013 at 5:13 am |

    The number of feminists equating rape (and coerced sex is rape) with boring jobs or bad jobs or whatever else is sickening and frankly embarrassing. Don’t we jump all over people’s asses for being flippant about rape and talking about bullshit like grey rape?

    Servicing a john you don’t want to service is not like flipping a burger when you’d rather be sleeping. It’s not.

    Being a sex worker is not inherently rape, god no. And there are people who get either enjoyment or satisfaction in working in sex work over working at anything else–doctor, lawyer, model, janitor, car salesmen, whatever. And that’s perfectly cool and I want them to be safe and to be able to call the police on a client who tries to push their boundaries or doesn’t pay.

    BUT–A sex worker who has to take a client they don’t want can describe that as rape. Working in sex work because the other option is starving is rape.

    A sex worker, above almost any other kind of worker, has the right to say “no” to their work, at any time, at any point, because anything else is rape.

    1. umami
      umami February 7, 2013 at 7:27 am |

      This seems like a crucial point. If you work in the food service industry you can’t arbitrarily refuse to serve certain customers. There actually aren’t that many jobs where it is really safe to do that; even jobs that work on an independent contractor model where in theory you choose your clients are often dependent on premises or businesses owned by another person who wouldn’t be happy about their contractors turning people away without a solid reason.

      But sex workers surely HAVE to have the right to do that without jeopardising their entire livelihood? Don’t they? I’m not sure that the arguments comparing it to other jobs or the arguments claiming “sex isn’t different” help to make the case for sex workers to have more autonomy and control.

      A sex worker should have a lot more autonomy and discretion in their work, moment by moment, than the average worker, even than the average highly skilled worker, gets to have, otherwise there’s coercive sex happening.

      I don’t think I articulated this well; sorry if it doesn’t make much sense. But it seems like an important distinction to me.

      1. BobChaos23
        BobChaos23 February 7, 2013 at 8:27 am |

        “We reserve the right to refuse service”.

        I am pretty sure all restaurants have this on a sign somewhere in their establishments. Just sayin.

        1. umami
          umami February 7, 2013 at 11:44 am |

          What an odd thing to write.

          Do you believe that in
          the establishments that have that sign up, management allow every waitress to refuse to serve any customers she is creeped out by or finds disrespectful or just plain doesn’t like?

          This is not, in fact, the case.

          Or maybe you don’t believe that and were in fact just sayin, with no delusions of relevance. But why?

        2. Ismone
          Ismone February 7, 2013 at 2:01 pm |

          Umami,

          At a good workplace, yes. I was told that I could get customers booted from a bar for harassing my sister and I, and we didn’t even work there.

          If the customer is sexually or racially harassing the server (or harassing them based on any other protected class, which varies from state to state) the employer may be liable for _____ discrimination or harassment for failing to protect employees from the harassing customers.

          Now, if the harassment isn’t based on a protected class, the management has more leeway, but, if someone is in danger, and the management doesn’t do anything about it, they can be liable for that, too.

    2. Kasabian
      Kasabian February 7, 2013 at 11:21 am |

      Agreed. While I don’t think everyone who works an occupation has the right to refuse service to others (Conservative Pharmacists, I’m looking at you) I think sex workers most definitely should have that right without fear of reprisal / starvation / etc.

      And hey, when Eudaimonia finally rolls around, that’s probably what the world will look like! All of us working jobs we love, and human flourishing abounds!

  35. jemima101
    jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 5:34 am |

    Well I am back, but not really to argue, because it seems to have degenerated into I dont like casual sex, so no one can.

    May I point out a couple of things though

    Everytime you use the word “john” you sound like my Gran trying to get hip with the kids. No one outside haters uses the term, quick survey last night, on Twitter so not peer reviewed or anything. Clients is pretty universal. This shit matters, because if you claim to not be denying women agency using words they approve of matters. Also, to my second point, client covers men and women. Because the huge fucking elephant in the room here is women go to sex workers too. Female ones.

    As for the people saying its rape , just feck off, you insult every survivor with that. I refuse to even engage If you dont know what rape is thank your particular God, if you think its what is going to happen to me in about an hours time when i exchange sexual services for money take a long hard look at yourself.

    1. Schmorgluck
      Schmorgluck February 7, 2013 at 5:53 am |

      I don’t see the connection to casual sex. At all.

      1. jemima101
        jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 7:09 am |

        Dont you? Must have read different comments to me then where people talked about sex being special.

        1. Schmorgluck
          Schmorgluck February 7, 2013 at 7:22 am |

          Well, yeah, sex, is based on the encounter of two mutual desires. If there’s no desire on one side, it’s not sex. I don’t see what casualness has to do with it.

        2. Li
          Li February 7, 2013 at 8:05 am |

          Yes, if by “desire” you include “desire for money” and other things other than just sexual desire. Because my consent is actually not based on whether or not I am experiencing sexual desire or attraction towards my partners. It’s based on whether or not I want to have sex with them, and there are a number of reasons why I might want to do that. (I think “desire” can be really loaded term when we’re talking about sex and consent for this reason).

          And I think jemima101 is talking about the people on this thread insisting that their experience of sex – that it is an emotionally special experience they only want to engage in with people they have strong and intimate connections with and desire for – is a universal feature of sex itself. Which necessarily precludes not only sex work but also casual sex.

        3. jemima101
          jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 8:10 am |

          Yup…Swingers, people in open relationships, a whole host of people do not have sex because it is a deep emotional thing. To base your objection to sex work on a personal view of sex, one rooted in Jeudo Christian patriarchy, well It just fails on every level going.

        4. Schmorgluck
          Schmorgluck February 7, 2013 at 8:37 am |

          Interesting. Personal issues aside, I’d tend to be a swinger myself, I love new encounters, and I have no issue with having sex with someone I barely know. Yet I’m still attached to a certain amount of personal involvement and emotional connexion, though not necessarily deep.

        5. roro80
          roro80 February 7, 2013 at 11:47 am |

          Schmorgluck, you seem to be missing a major point here: that’s super for YOU that YOU want feelings and emotional connection. As someone said above, the world is not actually made of clones of YOU. People are different from each other. Stating ones sexual preferences is quite different from expressing some sort of Universal Truth.

        6. Andie
          Andie February 7, 2013 at 12:31 pm |

          Well, yeah, sex, is based on the encounter of two mutual desires. If there’s no desire on one side, it’s not sex. I don’t see what casualness has to do with it.

          But people have argued that asexuals can still have consensual sex even though they may not feel sexual desire. So why can’t we argue that sex workers can have consensual sex without actually feeling desire for their clients.

    2. LotusBecca
      LotusBecca February 7, 2013 at 7:23 am |

      Hey jemima. . .I did a search through the thread and noticed I used the word “johns” once, and I’d like to apologize for that. I knew it wasn’t the preferred word, but unfortunately it wasn’t something I’d thought through enough previously and so when a bunch of other people are using words like that, I was able to slip right back into it. Not that that can really serve as an excuse. Anyway, I’ll make sure to never use the word again. You raise a good point about how plenty of women go to sex workers.

      And I agree it’s really fucked up to conflate sex work with rape. Abolitionists (among others) do that all the time and it pisses me off so much because it’s just so disrespectful both to sex workers and to rape survivors.

    3. martine votvik
      martine votvik February 7, 2013 at 7:45 am |

      “Everytime you use the word “john” you sound like my Gran trying to get hip with the kids. No one outside haters uses the term”

      I prefer the word punter personally, I had no idea John was so inflammatory.

      I understand that you prefer the word client, but using a word such as client does have a lot of connotations that I don’t agree with, so it’s not possible for me to use that word and still make coherent sense.

      Similarly the term sex-worker is difficult for me, because 1) don’t consider it sex. 2) I consider it too wide a term to be useful talking about the problems in the trade.

      1. jemima101
        jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 7:49 am |

        Are you a current or former sex worker? If so I will happily debate this with you.

        If not, what you are or are not comfortable with doesn’t matter to me in the slightest. The oppressor does not get to decide what terms are or are not acceptable.

        I dont have a problem with the term john, it helps me spot the haters.

        1. martine votvik
          martine votvik February 7, 2013 at 8:19 am |

          it’s not about what I am comfortable with, I’ll happily use what ever terms you are happy with as long as they communicate what I am trying to communicate.

          I know the reasons why the p word can be difficult to deal with. But if I’m using the p word then you can probably assume that it’s because I’m trying to communicate something that f.ex “sex worker” couldn’t. And some of the time, you can probably assume that I’m not talking about you.

        2. jemima101
          jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 8:23 am |

          If by p word you mean punter, I have no problem at all with it, it just seems rude on a US site to use an British English colloquialism. (You do know that punter is not a term limited to sex work dont you?)

          As for the rest…erm OK, it seems the nasty sex worker having an opinion has rattled your cage…

        3. martine votvik
          martine votvik February 7, 2013 at 8:29 am |

          I don’t see why you assume that I think that you’re nasty, or why you think you’ve rattled the cage.

          I live in the UK so I know it can mean different things, including pushing a long boat with a stick ;) I guess I just find it more personal and less clinical than client.

          by the p word, I meant a different word that gets you stuck in moderation :p

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 10:39 am |

          Oh jeez, I’ve always heard only clients or johns as good words, and “punter” as a hatey one… shall reverse in brain now…

        5. jemima101
          jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 10:55 am |

          Its who uses them really, look through the thread, john is a dehumaninsing term because people want to believe they are one step above rapist. As I said, it was just a twitter chat, but some of the sex workers I asked are very experienced and have been around every block going. They have never come across John being used by anyone except police and antis.

          Sex worker joke…every woman who moans about Johns is probably married to one.

          More seriously, they are just people, using a dehumaninsing and objectifying term is part of the whole sex work is rape myth. Jill saying they are scum shows how little she knows about sex workers or their clients.

          The man I am texting right now with cerebal palsy…scum?
          The couple who take me away twice a year, we eat dinner, drink wine, catch up and have really hot sex, scum?
          The elderly man I see regularly who is sub, who never expressed it until he became a widower who loves having his nipples bitten, scum?

          No they are people, you will know people, Jill will know people who visit sex workers. I understand in the states where sex positivity is difficult in a dominant protestant Christian culture that they will probably never admit it, but they are there.

          If people are willing to objectify one group and other them based on personal prejudice, they tend to be willing to do it to others.

        6. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca February 7, 2013 at 11:04 am |

          Yeah my jaw dropped when I read Jill’s comment about how all “johns” are “scum.” Like. . .if you think this Jill. .. how do you REALLY feel about the women who enable these scum to be scum? Hmm?

        7. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca February 7, 2013 at 11:30 am |

          Jill, that analogy makes no sense. One’s clients are not the same thing as one’s employer. Take you, for example. Your employer is your law firm, not your clients. Wal-Mart as a corporation would be analogous to the owner of a brothel, not the client of a sex worker.

        8. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca February 7, 2013 at 11:34 am |

          And come to think of it. . .what would it say about you if all the clients you served as a lawyer were scum? Let’s say you exclusively served as a counsel for rapists. Since anti-prostitution folks think all “johns” are rapists anyway, this seems like an apt thought experiment. Would people consider you to be an admirable lawyer, Jill, if all your clients were all exclusively rapists?

        9. afb1221
          afb1221 February 7, 2013 at 1:40 pm |

          “Would people consider you to be an admirable lawyer, Jill, if all your clients were all exclusively rapists?”
          In my opinion, one absolutely can be a respected lawyer while representing only the worst of clients. But that’s a lawyer culture thing, perhaps. As in the idea that even the worst of the worst need a lawyer for our constitution to be respected and that it’s honourable to ensure that.

          But I think it is completely different in the case of sex worker’s clients. If “decent” / “good” people shouldn’t be clients, then that leaves sex workers with only the bad people. Obviously that’s a huge problem.

          So, while I think I generally do not think highly of clients (though I wouldn’t universalize – you raise convincing examples), I accept that this is inconsistent with fully supporting sex workers. And I’m really not sure what to do with that.

          I think that given how oppressive this world is, a client cannot know whether a particular sex worker is being oppressed by the work (though of course, some, perhaps even many, are not oppressed). So, playing the odds (everything seems fine so I’ll assume it’s fine) strikes me as unethical when the potential consequences are so severe. I mean, that’s why I personally would not be a client. But, I’m not saying I’ve necessarily got the right approach.

          Does supporting someone necessarily require having no reservations?

          jemima101, though, I want to say thanks for your contributions / for being here / putting up with this conversation. I not 100% on board with everything you’re saying (though I would say I’m convinced of most of it) but I’m grateful for your perspective.

    4. BobChaos23
      BobChaos23 February 7, 2013 at 8:31 am |

      It somehow reminds me of the fact that the only people who use the word “Darwinism” in a casual debate are creationists, and the only people who use the term “pro-death” are people who do not support a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.

      1. martine votvik
        martine votvik February 7, 2013 at 8:36 am |

        Darwinism is frequently used when discussing other things too. But I think you’re definitely right about “Pro-death” that one is pretty damning.

        1. BobChaos23
          BobChaos23 February 7, 2013 at 9:24 am |

          Regarding “Darwinism”, what I meant is that most people who tend to discuss modern evolutionary theory tend to have moved on from Darwin long ago.
          He gave it a good start, to be sure, but I have seen the term used as if evolution is somehow all about Darwin, etc. maight be just my experience online, of course. :)

    5. Kasabian
      Kasabian February 7, 2013 at 11:23 am |

      Damn, I used “John” too. Sorry. :(

    6. Kes
      Kes February 7, 2013 at 11:49 am |

      Noting that the actions of the client are equivalent to “rape” (because he has no concern for the consent of the person he’s fucking) isn’t the same as defining the experience of the sex worker as “rape.”

      Nobody is telling sex workers (or women in general) that they’re being raped all the time. But we can sure as shit point out that when men don’t care if partners want to be there, that’s rape culture and rapist-mentality. And excusing the men for having that mindset? Well, that’s rape apologism.

      1. jemima101
        jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 11:58 am |

        You know nothing of sex workers of clients so go away silly person, your views are pointless, insulting and actually make the lives of sex workers harder.

        1. Kes
          Kes February 7, 2013 at 12:56 pm |

          Really disgusted at all these assumptions from the pro-client crowd that anybody who thinks clients are scumbugs must never have been involved with sex work and are just privileged little idiots. Really disgusted that you’re discounting me, and saying shit about me, just because I disagree with you.

          Honestly, if the clients you have are never scumbags and don’t treat you like crap – if they don’t act like they are ENTITLED to your body and try to manipulate into doing all kinds of crazy shit – then YOU are the one who is ignorant due to your privilege. Holy damn.

          The people who are shutting out sex workers’ voices aren’t Jill and other feminists who agree with her – they’re just trying to tread a fine line, realizing that what’s good for the lucky-ass, white, college-educated escort or cam girl isn’t the same thing as what’s good for the MAJORITY of sex workers. The people who are shutting out sex workers are the PEOPLE WHO CLAIM TO SPEAK FOR ALL SEX WORKERS.

          I realize it may be inconvenient for the “sex work is teh awesome” party line to remember that the majority of people who are involved in sex work (even those who AREN’T trafficked) are engaged in survival sex, or are doing okay but would much rather be doing something else because it beats you down, or have to deal with really shitty clients who love to give sob stories and manipulate/pressure/coerce.

          Are you seriously going to tell me that these people’s lives aren’t real? Are you going to call me SILLY for showing my anger here? Are you seriously going to tell me that their existence is INSULTING to you? And then to

          Does the reality of what clients think/do really INSULT you? Then maybe you should find a different line of work. If you can’t disconnect what the client is thinking/doing from who you are, and what your experience is, then I don’t even know how you manage to make it in the industry. Frankly, I doubt you really are a sex worker.

          Honestly, the level of sheer PRIVILEGE and SELF-ABSORPTION coming off of some of you so-called “sex workers” is vile and disgusting. I am genuinely glad for you that you have such wonderful happy lives and you love getting the dick you get, but for MOST PEOPLE that is NOT true.

          STOP IGNORING OTHER SEX WORKERS BECAUSE YOU HAVE A SPECIFIC POLICY LINE YOU WANT TO PUSH. STOP TELLING PEOPLE TO “LISTEN TO SEX WORKERS” WHEN MANY SEX WORKERS DISAGREE WITH YOU.

          Whatever, I’m done. Jill is brave, and you people should be ashamed of yourselves.

        2. jemima101
          jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 1:26 pm |

          When have I ever not acknowledged my privilege or highlighted the victims here are the people killed and raped and abused, who are generally street workers?

          Nice use of “so called” its ages since being educated and well informed has been used as an reason to deny i am a sex worker. Think I just got full house.

        3. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan February 8, 2013 at 12:21 am |

          Kes, I really appreciate you trying. There is definitely a line being fed to us, here, promoting the “happy middle-class voluntary sex worker” and it’s got no fucking nuance (nor any empathy.)

        4. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca February 8, 2013 at 3:43 am |

          Kes, saying that a sex worker’s lying about being a sex worker just because she made fun of you is pretty out-of-line and uncalled for. Cut it out.

      2. amblingalong
        amblingalong February 7, 2013 at 12:03 pm |

        because he has no concern for the consent of the person he’s fucking

        This is really fucking simple.

        1) If a client has sex with a sex worker without obtaining consent, yes, he’s a rapist.

        2) If a client has sex with a sex worker after obtaining consent, he’s not a rapist.

        3) Sex workers, not you, get to define whether they are giving consent.

      3. Li
        Li February 7, 2013 at 12:06 pm |

        Rape is not defined by whether you have concern or not for the consent of the person you are fucking. It is not defined by your attitude. It is defined by whether both parties have mutually consented to the sex. That’s it. Not being concerned with the consent of the person you are having sex makes you a creepy douchebag who is probably going to rape someone sooner or later, but it doesn’t make you a rapist. Raping someone does.

        And frankly, people tell sex workers that they are being raped and are just brainwashed into not understanding that it’s happening to them all the time. I mean, do I have to go get the private facebook message a friend of mine received after a discussion with some anti sex work feminists about how she’d clearly been so damaged by ‘rape’ that she couldn’t see her own trauma and that if she care about her hypothetical daughters she would get out of the industry now and that all of the STIs she was clearly getting were damaging her womb and that she was going to birth children with fetal abnormalities? Because that kind of attitude is fucking endemic to anti sex work feminists and saying things like “nobody is telling sex workers…” pretty much demonstrates that you haven’t been paying any attention.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan February 8, 2013 at 12:17 pm |

          Not being concerned with the consent of the person you are having sex makes you a creepy douchebag who is probably going to rape someone sooner or later, but it doesn’t make you a rapist.

          I disagree. If you’re truly unconcerned about whether the person you’re fucking consents then only chance is keeping you from being a rapist, assuming the fuckee does consent — and you don’t care, so why would you dig to find out? And that’s not even getting into the “enthusiastic consent” model of sex, where it’s supposed to be about mutual enjoyment and not about simply holding still long enough to fuck.

    7. Ismone
      Ismone February 7, 2013 at 2:08 pm |

      Fair enough about “John.” Will stop using it. I think I got it from cop tv shows, but good points all.

      I think the reason some of the non-sex-workers are hostile to clients as human beings is because we have assumptions about those clients and how they treat those they buy from. The clients you described sound like really cool people.

      If you are willing to say, do you think there are some forms of sex work where clients, on the whole, aren’t so great, or people are more likely to be pressured into selling to bad clients?

      (If you’re not in the mood to educate us all, no worries and sorry for assuming. Thanks)

      1. jemima101
        jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 3:02 pm |

        Oh totally, street workers, especially those with multiple oppressions are often placed under massive pressure by clients, and when sex work, and or soliciting is illegal these pressures are magnified.

        It may be cop show cliche, but many street workers testify that when there were/are accepted red light districts the lives of street workers are much safer. They are more able to resist pressure, have support networks and are more easily reached by outreach and other agencies.

        I put this link in before, but it is I think worth repeating.

        TW violence against women

        http://feministire.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/taking-ideology-to-the-streets-sex-work-and-how-to-make-bad-things-worse/

        Now Dana is exactly the sort of person people in this thread are saying needs to be “saved”. No doubt the antis will say that soliciting is a bad thing and must be illegal. But the change in law has simply made her life 1000 times worse, and not stopped her working, since it is her drug addiction that fuels it.

        Another group who seem to be shot on, from my reading/listening are trans* men and women, who often choose sex work for a variety of reasons. The current situation in America, where various states are arresting trans women and prosecuting them as clients is horrific. Sex workers are ending up on the sex offenders register and being abused by the police. All in the name of ending the demand for sex work.Basically everyone who is normally at the bottom of the heap being fucked over by Kyriarchy is by the criminilization of sex work.

        Its interesting cos I and others get accused of self interest for fighting for sex workers rights. The fact is, as Sweden has shown, indoor workers continue to use the net, pick and choose who they see, and are protected from most of the worst results. White college educated cis women rarely get the shit, what we do have is the spoons to fight.

        1. Ismone
          Ismone February 7, 2013 at 4:38 pm |

          Thank you for the link, much appreciated. Will read now.

        2. SunlessNick
          SunlessNick February 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm |

          Thankyou for posting that link.

  36. martine votvik
    martine votvik February 7, 2013 at 8:12 am |

    I find it very problematic when people in favor of legalization try to write off objections to “selling sex” as prudish or moralistic in the sense: “You just don’t understand that some people are very casual about sex.”

    My main battle is fighting the notion in some men (and some women) that sex is a commodity and that it can be exchanged for money. I’m mostly interested in the ethics of the “consumer” in relation to this. I know it might sound ironic coming from a rad fem, but: “what about the men!”.

    One look at our planet should be enough to give us a rough idea at what kind of consumers we are collectively, especially in the west. People, myself included, have the information available about how horrible the meat industry is, how damaging the oil industry is and how our consume impact less fortunate parts of the world. We have the information available that the way we are dealing with the world is damaging to it, but collectively we can’t muster enough outrage to make a change.

    In the same way some men know that the women they frequent are doing it under coercion, but they can’t muster enough outrage to stop seeing them or try to change things. They are too busy convincing themselves that they are not responsible.

    Isn’t it time we all helped keep each other accountable.

    1. Li
      Li February 7, 2013 at 8:19 am |

      Do you advocate criminalising meat eating because of the animal cruelty involved? Or do you advocate talking to people about ethical food choices and the ways they can make them? Because one of these issues seems to be producing a very different response on your part than the others.

      And I don’t actually see any sex workers arguing that sex is a commodity. I see them arguing that some people have sex for reasons including that they will be paid for their labour, skills and services. To state the fundamental difference, the first assumes that sex is a thing, the second that it is an act.

      1. martine votvik
        martine votvik February 7, 2013 at 8:26 am |

        okay, maybe I should have written service instead of commodity.

        But again you are talking about the “sex-workers” while I’m trying to talk about the “consumers”.

        I think talking about things is a very important part of changing things around, but I don’t think that legalization on this point would make things better. Legalization equals Normalization in the head of the consumer and the demand expands.

        1. BobChaos23
          BobChaos23 February 7, 2013 at 8:33 am |

          You didn’t answer the question…do you support the outlawing of meat eating?

        2. martine votvik
          martine votvik February 7, 2013 at 8:37 am |

          Why don’t you engage with the problem I posed first, then I’ll humor you afterwards ;)

        3. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca February 7, 2013 at 8:40 am |

          I think talking about things is a very important part of changing things around, but I don’t think that legalization on this point would make things better. Legalization equals Normalization in the head of the consumer and the demand expands.

          Fine. If demand expands that means more women will have more economic opportunities available to them. People like me who support sex workers’ rights aren’t trying to “abolish prostitution.” We’re trying to improve the working conditions and lives of sex workers. Naturally, as conditions for sex workers improve, more women might be willing to consider that line of work. That’s not a problem as far as I’m concerned. I trust women to make the choose the best type of job for themselves given whatever circumstances they find themselves in.

        4. Li
          Li February 7, 2013 at 8:41 am |

          Legalization equals Normalization in the head of the consumer and the demand expands.

          I simply don’t believe this is the case. Certainly not significantly. I think demand for sex services, like demand for other often-criminalised things like drugs or alcohol or hey, even abortions, is actually fairly independent of whether or not they are legal. I think other factors effect demand far far more, and if you are serious about reducing demand for sex work there are much better places to put your energy than resisting decriminalisation efforts.

        5. martine votvik
          martine votvik February 7, 2013 at 9:03 am |

          Looking at studies done in Australia and the Netherlands both suggest that the marked spreads and increases after legalization. There is more illegal business around the legal ones and there is more trafficking into the area. I only have reports from CATW to lean on in this, I’m not sure if you would consider them a legitimate source.

        6. Li
          Li February 7, 2013 at 9:28 am |

          I’m not sure if you would consider them a legitimate source.

          Right in one. Maybe try finding independent verification of those stats?

        7. Li
          Li February 7, 2013 at 9:35 am |

          Also HOLY SHIT I JUST GOOGLED IT AND CATW AUSTRALIA IS RUN BY FUCKING SHIELA JEFFREYS. Didn’t we *just* get through the whole “please don’t use viciously transmisogynist sources” thing? Why do we have to go over this shit again?

        8. jemima101
          jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 9:37 am |

          Oh I thought people knew, its why I have just been ignoring the stats. CATW is whorephobic and transphobic. Apologies for not warning you. Hope you are OK :(

        9. Li
          Li February 7, 2013 at 9:46 am |

          Don’t be too worried jemima, I knew the first already and suspected the second. I just didn’t realise exactly the people involved and Shiela Jeffreys just says so many completely repulsive things that she’s kind of just triggers massive involuntary side-eye from me.

        10. jemima101
          jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 10:01 am |

          Oh I am so glad to hear that. I do think there should be some equivalent of a TW when people use data from Jefferies, Farely, et al, BSW perhaps.

        11. Li
          Li February 7, 2013 at 9:56 am |

          Also, look, this is a sideline, but sometimes it is ok for markets that people work in not to be tiny. Because, for instance, if you are a sex worker that would like to specialise in certain types of services (BDSM work, seeing disabled clients, seeing couples) it’s helpful when there are actually enough clients in that area to support your career without you needing to dip into other service areas. So larger markets can be helpful for sex workers in allowing them more control over the types of work they want to do.

        12. martine votvik
          martine votvik February 7, 2013 at 10:02 am |

          Which is great if it’s a choice, but not so much if you’re being coerced into it.

          I do understand the desire of sex workers to have a bigger marked so that you can pick and choose. Just try to remember that the clients you have the privilege to choose away, they are still going to get their “moneys worth” somewhere else. There will always be somebody less privileged, hungrier and more desperate than you.

  37. A4
    A4 February 7, 2013 at 8:41 am |

    Reading through this thread again I see two main things:

    1) People trying to describe how their personal view of happy consensual sex can include sex as a paid service they provide to others.

    2) People trying to argue that ALL HUMANS, or all normal humans, view sex as something special and different because that’s how they feel.

    This universalism and refusal to listen to the voices of the people you presume to discuss is a basic failure that they should be aware of.

    No one is trying to say that sex work is the same as everything else. No one is trying to say that being forced into sex work is the same as being forced into something that is not sex work. No one is more familiar with the differences between sex work and other common forms of work than the people who have actually done sex work.

    So all y’all’s dismissive, arrogant, judgmental, and moralistic reactions to sex workers trying to tell you about their experience of sex is just total utter bullshit.

    1. LotusBecca
      LotusBecca February 7, 2013 at 8:51 am |

      We all made fun of Naomi Wolfe when her recent book came out arguing that the only real, pure, true sex was that which came in the full package of scented candles, bubble bath, and New Age mumbo-jumbo. Apparently that was a bridge too far for people. On the other hand, having sex for money TOTALLY DEBASES THE SACRED EXPERIENCE OF SEX!!! Even though using money to pay for things is totally cool in every other context. But sex is like a super special exception and shouldn’t be part of the market. Jesus would be proud, I think.

      1. Li
        Li February 7, 2013 at 9:02 am |

        Slut shaming is bad! Except when we’re shaming sluts!

        1. Ismone
          Ismone February 7, 2013 at 2:15 pm |

          Li,

          Thanks for all your comments below, this thread has really been educational for me.

          Do you think that customers usually tend to have the same view of sexual services that you describe below? Are the ones who don’t difficult to deal with?

      2. martine votvik
        martine votvik February 7, 2013 at 9:14 am |

        For me it has less to do with debasement, and more to do with the idea that sex is something mutual, that what you get back for sex is the sex itself. To me it’s a bit like you putting sun tan lotion on my back, me putting it on yours, and then one of us pays the other.

        And you might say, but what about the expertise? But I have a big problem understanding why the technical aspects of sex are so clinically removed from the intimacy and togetherness of it.

        I don’t mind casual sex, I’ve had my fair share of it and plan on having more of it in the future. But even when engaging in drunken one night stands, I always felt like it was an equal exchange of pleasure.

        To me it is like this: 1) If there is an equal exchange of pleasure then paying is ridiculous.
        2) if one party needs compensation for the sex then it’s really odd.
        3) the only way I can make sense of it is the punters wanting a power barrier between themselves and the “sex-worker”.

        Why are people paying for something that is free? Why are people wanting to pay for something that is free?

        1. A4
          A4 February 7, 2013 at 9:18 am |

          Personally I find receiving a wad of cash an extremely pleasurable experience.

        2. jemima101
          jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 9:35 am |

          Yup. I was bitching to Carter (My Domly one, the blog explains it) one day about clients who ask what I want/like. His reply made me giggle saying that he thought that was when money changed hands.

          More seriously part of the reason so may antis do not get sex work is because they wont engage with the idea that sex can be a service. I see part of my professionalism as being interested in what they want, giving pleasure, providing a good service. That service depends on the money exchanged.

        3. martine votvik
          martine votvik February 7, 2013 at 9:21 am |

          I think that’s completely besides the point.

        4. Li
          Li February 7, 2013 at 9:24 am |

          Why are people paying for something that is free? Why are people wanting to pay for something that is free?

          Sex may be available for free, but it’s not necessarily easy to get for everyone. It’s certainly not necessarily easy to get if you have a body that’s sufficiently non-normative enough that mainstream sexual culture and practices aren’t accessible to you.

        5. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca February 7, 2013 at 9:27 am |

          Why are people paying for something that is free? Why are people wanting to pay for something that is free?

          Why do people buy bottled water when there’s water for free on the tap? Why do people pay for songs on iTunes when you can download those same song for free on The Pirate Bay? Why do people pay for food at grocery stores and restaurants when they could get food for free at food pantries and soup kitchens? Why do people pay to exercise at the gym when they could just exercise by jogging around the block and then doing some situps and pushups in their bedroom?

          All these things have their own specific answer, of course. But I don’t think we should be too surprised that many people pay for sexual services in our capitalist economy given that basically everything else is commodified also. Of course, sex should be mutual. I think all social interaction should be mutually beneficial. I don’t really like the idea that when I go to get my hair cut my hairdresser views it as unenjoyable drudgery. I assume she enjoys cutting hair otherwise she would have found another line of work. Of course, many or most sex workers don’t enjoy their job. That just means we need to assist them in improving their working conditions while also expanding access to resources that allow them to change their line of work if that’s what they’re interested in.

        6. martine votvik
          martine votvik February 7, 2013 at 9:56 am |

          People pay for certain “things” which might be freely available because they feel entitled to a better version of what is already there. Bottled water in areas where you can drink the tap water is entirely immoral to me, it should be forbidden by law.

          Sex is however, as I’m sure you’ll agree, not a thing.

          It is an activity that takes place between two or more people and it is made to happen equally by all participants and therefor should not require any compensation.

          Sex for compensation is a lie by the patriarchy to split men up from intimate cooperation with women and create the illusion that men can’t have real, equal intimacy with women. Just like it hurts women it also shames men, men down on the pecking order who doesn’t believe they are worthy of being loved like a human being and believe they need to buy it.

        7. Li
          Li February 7, 2013 at 10:07 am |

          Sometimes equal doesn’t actually mean people getting exactly the same thing out of an interaction. It means people both get what they want from that interaction.

          If a sex worker is like “My client gets pleasure, I get money, everyone wins!” I don’t actually think that’s intrinsically unequal. Both sides are getting what they want out of it. Just because you think money doesn’t count as a legitimate reason to want to do something doesn’t make that true for all people.

        8. Li
          Li February 7, 2013 at 10:09 am |

          I mean, look, I get it, orgasms are magical and whatever and people who think that money is a legit thing to exchange for one are brainwashed sluts who are ruining sex for the rest of us, but sometimes it’s nice to step back and remember that your experience of something =/= the universal experience of something. I legitimately do not understand why this is so hard for people.

        9. A4
          A4 February 7, 2013 at 10:26 am |

          It is an activity that takes place between two or more people and it is made to happen equally by all participants and therefor should not require any compensation.

          I don’t know what this is supposed to mean. It’s so nebulous and disjointed that I cannot follow the logic at all.

          Sex for compensation is a lie by the patriarchy to split men up from intimate cooperation with women and create the illusion that men can’t have real, equal intimacy with women.

          Sometimes there are men who don’t want “real equal intimacy with women”. Sometimes they want to be tied up and flogged by men. Sometimes they want to have sex that is about fun and respect but not Deep Meaningful Feelings of Love.

          Just like it hurts women it also shames men, men down on the pecking order who doesn’t believe they are worthy of being loved like a human being and believe they need to buy it.

          Our society is such that there actually is a real pecking order, and there actually are people who cannot easily find someone who genuinely wants to engage in meaningful loving sex with them and who they want to engage with as well.

          When they go looking, however, some of them find people who actually do enjoy spending their time providing sexual pleasure for others. Since we live in a capitalist society where time=money, and paying someone for their services is a sign of respect and a recognition of their worth, people providing skilled and conscientious services deserve compensation for their time.

          But this is only a small part of your shortsightedness. Not everyone is monogamous. Not everyone has the time for courting and deep meaningful conversations but they do have the money to pay a sex worker. Not everyone has the same sexual preferences as you and your Deep Spiritual Sex-as-communing-spirits-and-togetherness-with-one-partner and FEELINGZ and Equality! and Freedom! and Humanity!

          And i don’t know why you can’t grasp this very simple idea.

        10. martine votvik
          martine votvik February 7, 2013 at 10:29 am |

          “If a sex worker is like “My client gets pleasure, I get money, everyone wins!” I don’t actually think that’s intrinsically unequal. “

          I can understand what you’re saying, I’d just hesitate to call it sex.

          I could call it aided masturbation in that sort of situation, but I don’t think anybody would find that helpful or covering.

          And I really wish people would stop talking about other people as “sluts”. Slut is a patriarchal construct to shame and intimidate women who doesn’t conform and mark them as fair game for mistreatment.

        11. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca February 7, 2013 at 10:30 am |

          Sex is however, as I’m sure you’ll agree, not a thing.

          People are not paying for “sex,” they are paying for sexual services. And yes, those sexual services are a thing. They are a commodification of the sex workers’ time, effort, and skill, rendering those into something that can be exchanged for money. It’s basically the same sort of idea as paying someone to give you a massage, or cut your hair, or fix your car. You are paying for their time, effort, and skill. I happen to oppose all of this in a systemic sense because I’m against capitalism and against money. I just don’t see any the point of banging on and on about sex work though, especially seeing how abolitionists typically spare hairdressers and car mechanics from being the target of their ethical pontifications.

        12. martine votvik
          martine votvik February 7, 2013 at 10:33 am |

          A4

          why cant people who want uber-casual sex just fck each other then?

          How is it possible for you to line it up like that without seeing the wish for skewed power dynamics from the point of the buyer.

          I don’t care if people want meaningless fcks I’ve had a fair share of them myself, but they were mutual experiences.

        13. martine votvik
          martine votvik February 7, 2013 at 10:35 am |

          there is a name for people that want non-mutual sexual experiences, and that’s rapist.

        14. Li
          Li February 7, 2013 at 10:46 am |

          Can you please stop defining the experiences of sex workers for them? Like, for instance, calling all of their work rape? Because I know plenty of sex workers who have been raped and holy shit do they know the difference between rape and the sex work they do, and you equating the two is grody as all fuck.

        15. Andie
          Andie February 7, 2013 at 11:03 am |

          I don’t care if people want meaningless fcks I’ve had a fair share of them myself, but they were mutual experiences.

          If one person is happy to be getting off and the other is happy to be getting paid for it, that IS a mutual experience.

        16. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca February 7, 2013 at 11:08 am |

          there is a name for people that want non-mutual sexual experiences, and that’s rapist.

          That’s right ladies!! You’ve been raped hundreds of times, and you didn’t even know it! Rape is no longer what happens when you feel you’ve been sexually violated. . .it’s what happens when MARTINE VOTVIK feels you’ve been sexually violated.

          Martine, you are almost as good at re-defining rape as the United State House of Representatives.

        17. Schmorgluck
          Schmorgluck February 7, 2013 at 11:36 am |

          Sometimes they want to have sex that is about fun and respect but not Deep Meaningful Feelings of Love.

          I’m tired of this strawman argument. Could you please quit it?

          Sex is about attraction, not necessarily love. If there isn’t mutual attraction, it’s not sex.

        18. Li
          Li February 7, 2013 at 11:42 am |

          Sex is about attraction, not necessarily love. If there isn’t mutual attraction, it’s not sex.

          Oh, for the last goddamn time, can people please stop universalising their experience of sex to everyone else? Attraction is not a necessary part of sex for all people. I have fucked people I wasn’t sexually attracted to, and enjoyed it, and had reasons other than sexual attraction for doing so. Just because sex is about mutual attraction for you does not mean that it is about mutual attraction for everyone.

        19. roro80
          roro80 February 7, 2013 at 12:02 pm |

          I know it’s been said before on this thread, but I’d just like to point out yet again how deeply and disgustingly fucked up it is to define sex as rape when the supposedly “raped” person is really fucking certain that she has not, in fact, been raped. It’s probably equally as fucked up as telling someone clearly in trauma after having been raped that it was just sex. So seriously shmorgluck? Martine? Knock it off. You are being gigantic assholes. It’s kind of amazing to me that this needs to be said.

        20. BobChaos23
          BobChaos23 February 8, 2013 at 12:07 am |

          So, by this logic, since talking about one’s personal problems and psychological issues is, by definition, very personal, should we only be allowed to discuss such matters with close friends…..or can we pay a psychologist to listen to us talk about those issues in a safe, nurturing environment without us reciproicating for them in kind, but instead compensating them with money?

          (And yes, this is a real question)

      3. amblingalong
        amblingalong February 7, 2013 at 12:01 pm |

        Sex is about attraction, not necessarily love. If there isn’t mutual attraction, it’s not sex.

        Ok, so if I sleep with someone because they’re great in bed, even though I don’t really find them that attractive, I’m being raped?

        1. sabrina
          sabrina February 7, 2013 at 4:16 pm |

          these people are also erasing the very real lived experiences of asexuals who have sex with their partner for (reasons).

    2. sabrina
      sabrina February 7, 2013 at 3:56 pm |

      thank you A4. I’m crying right now because the modicum of compassion necessary to make that argument is clearly lost on most of these people here.

    3. karak
      karak February 8, 2013 at 12:53 pm |

      No one is trying to say that sex work is the same as everything else. No one is trying to say that being forced into sex work is the same as being forced into something that is not sex work.

      Yes, actually, they are, with comparisons being made to McDonalds, nurses, and a tons of other forms of labor.

    4. (BFing)Sarah
      (BFing)Sarah February 8, 2013 at 5:05 pm |

      I’m one of those people that is kind of prudish about sex work, I can admit it. I don’t see sex work as the same as flipping burgers, but I do like the example of prizefighting that macavitykitsune mentioned in the newer thread. Both potentially dangerous to the body, things I feel very scared by/triggered by etc. That’s why I feel like sex work should be decriminalized, even if I, personally, can’t agree that its the SAME as any other kind of work. My opinion shouldn’t dictate policy. I can agree to disagree on whether sex is the same as any kind of activity (carries a risk, like any other activity), but that doesn’t mean that I would not advocate for policies that support (and are formed by) sex workers, including the obvious: decriminalization.

  38. Combray
    Combray February 7, 2013 at 10:43 am |

    This post and most of the comments in this thread are full of fail, to be perfectly honest. A good portion of the people who frequent this site normally understand intersectionality and privilege and are willing to listen to and learn from people who have direct experience of the topic at hand. ‘Splaining e.g. the nature of transphobia or racism to trans people or POC, respectively, is pretty commonly agreed to be a clueless thing to do. So why is it that after several people with experience from sex work have tried to explain what their work is like and what kind of allies they need, most commenters with no experience are jumping in to point out why and how those people are totally wrong? I haven’t done any sex work, but this thread is an overwhelmingly exasperating read even for me. I can’t even imagine how the sex workers reading this are feeling and how alienating this shit must be.

    1. jemima101
      jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 10:59 am |

      Thank you, I tried to point this out on the other thread. I just find it sad that most sex workers I know just roll their eyes and offer hugs at the fact I am even here. That is a fail that needs to be addressed :(

      1. A4
        A4 February 7, 2013 at 11:49 am |

        I was just reading Jill above on how “all Johns are scum” and it drove me fucking off the wall. I just cannot with this superior shamey bullshit anymore. I feel like I’m in bizarro land.

        1. jemima101
          jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 12:00 pm |

          No one is fecking entitled to sex can you not get this, your hatred of sex work means you seem to think typing entitlement over and over again is an argument?

          It is a transaction, my clients are no more entitled to sex with me than you are entitled to demand your hairdresser cut your hair!

        2. amblingalong
          amblingalong February 7, 2013 at 11:58 am |

          Yes, god forbid someone shame men who feel they are entitled to sex, and that they should be able to pay women to give it to them!

          You keep using that word ‘entitlement.’ I don’t think you know what it means.

          Entitlement does not describe the feeling you have when you exchange money for a service, Jill. We do not criticize people who pay plumbers to fix their sink for feeling ‘entitled to have plumbing done.’

          The only way your argument makes sense is if you believe everyone else is obligated to have sex the way you have sex.

        3. amblingalong
          amblingalong February 7, 2013 at 11:59 am |

          Won’t someone think of the poor men??

          Also, fuck you for repeatedly erasing non-male clients of sex workers despite sex workers on this thread repeatedly telling you that this doesn’t reflect reality.

          I honestly have never seen you this bad before. Christ.

        4. A4
          A4 February 7, 2013 at 12:01 pm |

          You know who sometimes feel entitled to sex Jill?

          Annoying college men who rape women who are passed out.
          Rich executives who are taking a woman out for an expensive date.
          Men who rape trafficked women and then pay their pimp for the opportunity.

          You know who often don’t feel entitled to sex?
          A client who negotiates sex with a sex worker.

          They don’t feel entitled, and that’s why they’re willing to pay for it! Because they realize that the services being provided are valuable and time is also valuable.

          When you pay for a massage, do you feel entitled to another person’s body, or do you recognize that their time and skills are valuable by paying money for their services?

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 12:58 pm |

          Yes, god forbid someone shame men who feel they are entitled to sex, and that they should be able to pay women to give it to them! Won’t someone think of the poor men??

          Erhm. Not all sex workers are female. Not all clients are male. Not all sex-trafficked people are female. Not all abusers of trafficked sex workers are male.

          Your obligatory anti-essentialist note of the day.

        6. sabrina
          sabrina February 7, 2013 at 4:20 pm |

          Jill, it is my experience that most Johns (and Janes) don’t actually think they are entitled to sex, that’s why they are paying for it instead of whining that they can’t get laid.

        7. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan February 7, 2013 at 11:40 pm |

          Jill, I join you in bizarro land. Apparently you can’t oppose the buying of sex and still be a decent human, let alone a feminist anymore! 9_9

    2. Li
      Li February 7, 2013 at 11:16 am |

      I think that if you reread the last thread you will find an extraordinary amount of cissplaining. I get that it’s really frustrating to see social justice spaces fail, but I really dislike these kinds of comparisons because all three of racism, sexism and whorephobia are consistent problems at feministe even if the precise flare ups can shift a little over time. I’d also recommend thinking about what “people totally have the back of people of colour when racism happens!” looks like to people of colour who actually have to deal with the racism in this space and who may in fact feel pretty frustrated and alienated by lack of support and consistent racefail.

      1. LotusBecca
        LotusBecca February 7, 2013 at 12:36 pm |

        Yeah. In my opinion, I’d give Feministe a B minus on trans issues and a D on race. Feministe has lots of intersectionality fails besides its fails on sex worker rights.

      2. Combray
        Combray February 7, 2013 at 12:53 pm |

        Li, I communicated what I meant badly. I’ve read Feministe daily for a long time, even though I don’t comment very often, and I absolutely agree that listening to the voices of POC and trans people is a big problem here. I in no way meant to minimise the way POC and trans people often struggle in this space and I apologise that I came off that way.

        “people totally have the back of people of colour when racism happens!”

        For what it’s worth, I don’t think this at all. You’re right; I probably shouldn’t have made a comparison between this and the cissplaining and white privilege that occur here, because it sounds like I’m saying that this issue is more of a problem. That’s not what I meant to say at all. I was trying to convey that this is one of those posts (and threads) where it’s particularly frustrating how the personal experiences of the people whom this actually concerns are being waved aside. I should have taken a moment to calm down and think before posting.

    3. Miriam
      Miriam February 8, 2013 at 2:00 am |

      Not just the sex workers, but the clients. It’s very sad to me to see the lack of compassion for people who may be unable to find non-transactional sex (and yes, sex is not a basic human right but come on! Don’t we all understand that for non-asexuals sex is generally a strong human desire that most of us are happier having?). Also frustrating is the persistent gendering of clients as male and sex workers as female when there’s no excuse for not at the least knowing some sex workers are men providing for other men.

      1. Schmorgluck
        Schmorgluck February 8, 2013 at 10:52 am |

        It’s very sad to me to see the lack of compassion for people who may be unable to find non-transactional sex (and yes, sex is not a basic human right but come on! Don’t we all understand that for non-asexuals sex is generally a strong human desire that most of us are happier having?).

        Been walking in those shoes for fifteen years due to social anxiety disorders (and the depression that grew on them). Still don’t care about the clients. Sorry.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan February 8, 2013 at 12:21 pm |

          Ditto. It’s almost like people who disagree with sex work do so based on thoughts about it, and may even have some of the disabilities that “The Unfuckable John” has! And yet still disagree that people are entitled to sex! :p

        2. Miriam
          Miriam February 8, 2013 at 1:11 pm |

          The problems with describing engaging in transactional sex as equaling feeling entitled to sex have been discussed elsewhere in this thread. I don’t find an argument that boils down to “some of us in a similar position make a different choice” to be a persuasive argument for why we shouldn’t have compassion for clients.

        3. EG
          EG February 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm |

          Why am I supposed to have compassion for them? I don’t generally have compassion for people who order burgers, as one comparison in this thread has it. Doing without sex is not such a hardship that it calls up vast reservoirs of sympathy in me.

  39. Sam
    Sam February 7, 2013 at 11:55 am |

    I don’t claim to be well versed on all aspects of sex work, and specifically the exchange of sex for money (as opposed to performance, porn, etc). That might make me ignorant, or perhaps that makes me less biased? Whichever, that’s my starting point.

    This seems to be a practical issue for those who want sex work decriminalized, and a moral one for those against decriminalization. Sex as something essentially different from other activities seems like a normative distinction to me. At the admitted distance I view this issue from it really looks like people not doing sex work are telling those who are to stop, perhaps ostensibly for their own good. Rox’s concern falls into the “stranger things have happened” category, but the idea of certifying sex workers so that only qualified people do it would handle that concern. As an aside, I wonder if sex workers want to be regulated, which would almost certainly be part of deciminalizing sex work?

    Sex trafficing is a huge and ugly problem, but there seems to be no disagreement on that. Concerns about the working conditions and safety of some people (many people?) who weren’t forced into sex work but still deal with abuse and undue risk are real, but aren’t all those ugly problems and concerns better addressed if sex work is normalized? Especially since sex work is happening regardless?

    1. jemima101
      jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 12:25 pm |

      I used to think this, sadly in countries like Swizterland it has led to massive abuses of WoC and other oppressed groups, as well as the human rights violations of forced STD tests ect. So most of the sex work unions are campaigning for decriminlization without state regulation.

      I think generally it is never good when the state starts prying into the bedroom habits of private individuals.

      The police in Merseyside (Liverpool UK) have an awesome change in attitude, they designated all attacks on sex workers a hate crime, as treated them as such. The reporting and prosecution of attacks rose massively.

      The solutions are out there, but no one is pushing for them, because its only sex workers getting raped and murdered. Better to argue that the way they have sex squicks people so shouldn’t exist.

      1. amblingalong
        amblingalong February 7, 2013 at 12:34 pm |

        the human rights violations of forced STD tests ect.

        This is a perspective I’d like to hear more about. I’ve always thought that requiring sex workers to have STD tests was comparable to requiring drug tests for truck drivers or background checks for government workers or whatever licensing/regulatory requirement you pick; absolutely intrusive and immoral to force anyone to do, but reasonable to make a requirement for doing that particular job.

        I’m completely open to hearing why I’m wrong, though.

        1. jemima101
          jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 12:54 pm |

          I will get some links, nine knows more about this than me, my position as a privileged independent sex worker means I would have no problem with them, other than the minor inconvienece of the time taken. However it is the reports of street workers who say they feel demeaned and degraded by them.

        2. amblingalong
          amblingalong February 7, 2013 at 1:03 pm |

          Ok, thanks; I really appreciate it.

          I can understand why having STD tests be a requirement feels demeaning; what I’m trying to work out in my head is how that’s different from requiring airplane pilots, mechanics, etc. to pee in a cup (in fact, even the baggage handlers have to do this too, though I think that one’s a little weird).

          I’m coming at this from a place of relatively immense privilege (financially secure, straight, male, cis, not a sex worker) so I’m definitely not trying to win an argument; I’m just having a tough time working through the distinction on my own.

          Again, really appreciate your help.

        3. jemima101
          jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 1:41 pm |

          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19962636 This is a very good paper on listening to the voices of the most marginalized.

          I think the problem is we are bit privileged, so we do not have the intrinsic fear of the arms of the state many have, the argument is that those who most need help would remain outside any legal framework, as they would resist it. Grass roots projects that win trust are far more effective.

        4. Kes
          Kes February 7, 2013 at 1:05 pm |

          Requiring testing just makes it out as if sex workers are a bunch of diseased, disgusting people. Yeah, there’s a high incidence of disease, but they come from clients. It’s not as if we spontaneously generate gonorrhea. The checks aren’t frequent enough to catch stuff before it’s spread on, anyway, assuming the client won’t use a condom or it’s something that can spread even with the use of a condom. And frankly, I don’t really like the idea of having somebody checking my nether regions out for safety for the general public, as if I’m an elevator or a bridge or something.

          What they really should be doing, if they were serious about protecting sex workers, is demand that clients get pre-approved, including STD testing. The fact that nobody even considers such a thing just goes to show how it’s all about entitlement (on demand access) to our bodies.

          Sure, a guy may not be able to demand access to any particular sex worker’s body at any given time, but he knows that he can go out and get somebody at almost any “price point” at all hours of the day and night (and a lot of that demand is met by trafficking). So I think calling it “entitlement” is exactly right. That’s what runs the system.

        5. Sheelzebub
          Sheelzebub February 7, 2013 at 2:26 pm |

          Only if they require testing of clients. Which I doubt very much would happen.

      2. Ismone
        Ismone February 7, 2013 at 2:21 pm |

        Can I ask, if you don’t mind (and I totally understand if you are not in the mood to educate) your thoughts on decriminalization vs. decriminalization of selling only vs. legalization?

        I have bounced back and forth between preferring decrim./one-sided decrim. for a while (mostly because of what I believe to be true about people who work on the street, which I realize may not be a good way to think about this AT ALL especially since I have so little knowledge, almost none of it personal) but I have noticed that sometimes people get really angry when people advocate for decriminalization but not legalization.

        Thanks! And in any event, thanks for your comments on this thread. This has really gotten me thinking.

        1. jemima101
          jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 3:12 pm |

          Oh wow, thank you :-)

          Well firstly I have to point out I live in the UK, sex work is legal, although advertising, soliciting, and working with others is not. There is a whole host of legislation around “pimping” too, for example my partner could be arrested as my pimp. Oh and of course you have to pay tax. People seem to forget sex workers can be hard working tax payers too!

          Personally i don’t like the idea of legalization cos I dont like the idea of the state intruding into peoples sex lives, anyone’s sex lives so long as what they are doing is consensual. I know the Scarlet Alliance (Australia) feel the same, and the IUSW so they push for decriminlization, the removal of those laws that endanger or otherwise hurt sex workers.

          For example the law on brothel keeping means if 2 or more sex workers share a premises for safety one of them can be prosecuted for brothel keeping , go to prison and have everything they own seized. Laws like this neither protect victims of trafficking or vulnerable women. Decrim would get rid of them.

          I think in the US, because outside of Nevavda sex work is illegal people push for legalization, without necessarily meaning they want state control. But I hope an American with more knowledge of the situation over there can speak better on this.

        2. sabrina
          sabrina February 7, 2013 at 4:35 pm |

          after reading this comment I apologize for my reaction to
          your above comment.

          I’m going to reply re: united states because that is where I live and worked.

          I feel like decriminalization of all sex work is the proper way to go. I don’t want it explicitly being made legal for exactly the same reason Jemima101 answered above. The government FAILS miserably anytime they try to write law about anything pertaining to sex.

        3. Ismone
          Ismone February 7, 2013 at 4:46 pm |

          Jemima & Sabrina,

          Thanks so much. Jemima, those laws sound awful. Especially solicitation. I mean, I get if people don’t want to be followed about by someone yelling WANNA BUY SEX, but other than that, solicitation just seems so . . . like, what, do clients have to guess if they see someone in public? Sounds crazy.

          And yeah, especially since collectivization = safety I do not like the anti-brothel laws. Maybe if they made the brothels into collectives, that could only be owned by sex workers.

          I am incredibly anti-pimping, but it is also scary to think that a partner/good friend/hired security could be mistaken as a pimp and punished.

          Sabrina,

          No worries, I have said stuff on this thread that wasn’t me at my calmest either. Good point about the us. I am here too, and as a lawyer, I would be concerned about legalization because I don’t want their to be lawsuits about the adequacy of sex worker’s services. I mean, in general, contracts for personal (non-sexual services) cannot be enforced, so I am less worried about that, but legalization might equal standards and lawsuit and ick.

  40. Caperton
    Caperton February 7, 2013 at 12:27 pm | *

    I can’t get behind the idea that sex is some precious, special activity that automatically needs to be set aside from other activities. For some people, yes, it absolutely is. For some people, it’s a beautiful sharing of intimacy, and they couldn’t imagine doing it with anyone they didn’t truly love. For others, it’s an amusement park, and they couldn’t imagine not doing it with anyone who was willing to interact on their terms. And there’s an entire spectrum in between, all of which is perfectly valid, because however you feel about sex for yourself is how it’s right to feel about sex for yourself.

    Setting sex aside as something that is always special for all people, and thus should be treated in a certain way under all circumstances, honestly kind of leans into the territory of the abstinence-until-marriage, protect-your-precious-flower crowd, and that makes me uncomfortable. In my mind, this isn’t analogous to the standard “I choose my choice” makeup/leg-shaving debate, because choosing to engage in sex on your own terms is different from choosing to conform to traditional beauty norms. It seems counterproductive to frame the argument as “sex work is good because it’s like other jobs” vs. “sex work is bad because I think it would be horrible.” The issue isn’t about sex being special — it’s about women whose agency is being taken away. It’s about women whose feelings about sex are made irrelevant by the people who are abusing them.

    I absolutely agree that no one who feels protective about his or her sexuality should feel any pressure at all to commodify it — regardless of sex, age, socioeconomic status, or geography. No one should ever be forced or coerced. In any way. Ever. And we need to make efforts to protect and rescue women who don’t want to be doing it, whether they’ve been trafficked or they’re being coerced by their financial situation. No one who doesn’t want to engage in sex work should ever, ever have to do it. And no one who doesn’t feel protective about his or her sexuality, and who is perfectly satisfied and not traumatized by using it to make money, should be shamed for that — and everyone should be protected from ever having to use it in ways they don’t want to. They’re two different groups who need to be protected in two different ways. Conflating them makes it hard to identify the real circumstances that lead to women being forced and abused, and hard to come up with solutions and actions that will actually help those women. It seems like a misuse of resources to split efforts between the women who need/want to be rescued and the ones who don’t.

    1. Ismone
      Ismone February 7, 2013 at 2:30 pm |

      Good points all. But to address this, the conflict that has also been gnawing at me:

      It seems counterproductive to frame the argument as “sex work is good because it’s like other jobs” vs. “sex work is bad because I think it would be horrible.” The issue isn’t about sex being special — it’s about women whose agency is being taken away.

      At the point where many of us, as the socialist/communist posters have pointed out, have to work to get by in a capitalist society, and we don’t have the agency to not work at all, or to necessarily avoid work in fields we find demeaning, many people (not all) do seem to feel differently about sex work. Almost certainly a lot of it has to do with our culture, and some of it has to do with bodily autonomy, but for many (not all, macavity, I read your comment) sexual autonomy is different.

      Sexual battery is considered more damaging than non-sexual physical battery (to be very clear, I am not equating providing sexual services with rape–I am just saying that many, not all people, seem to prize sexual autonomy more highly than other bodily autonomy and be more damaged when it is compromised. Money of course can compromise such matters if the sex worker is not making enough simply by doing things zie likes with people zie is comfortable with.)

      So I think many people on this thread are privileging sexual autonomy over other forms of autonomy, and that they may reflect the psychological reality for many people, although clearly not all. I would say that even posters like macavity are doing so, by insisting to Rox that disabled people wouldn’t be forced into sex work.

      That is to say, is there a middle path, one that leaves aside the “sex is special candle magic involving twu wuv” and “sex is no more different than any other labor.”

    2. moviemaedchen
      moviemaedchen February 7, 2013 at 3:01 pm |

      THIS.

      Also, it seems to me that a lot of the problems that are being brought up in response to the decriminalization/sex-isn’t-always-special arguments are things that a focus just on sex work will not solve in any case. Things like economic hardship, lack of protection for people with disabilities, culture-wide objectification of women, cissexism, etc. – these things contribute to the current shitty situation of many sex workers, but they aren’t a result just of sex work as sex work. They’re the result of a hypercapitalistic kyriarchical piece of shit system. Sex work as it currently exists is hugely problematic precisely because of where it fits in the current system, as the article jemima linked makes clear. Focusing on fixing those things will help sex workers, and focusing on them alongside sex workers’ rights and decriminalization/etc. would help prevent the predicted negative outcomes of decriminalization. And I don’t see anyone here arguing that we shouldn’t focus on those things. Nor do I think anyone here wants things to just stay the same (i.e. straight up criminalization.)

      So rather than arguing over whether or not paid sex work will be allowed in the Feminist Utopia or not, it makes more sense to me to work towards ending the conditions that put anyone into economic hardship and coerced labor of any sort, and to work towards a society in which all people thus have the ability to freely exercise their agency regarding sexual and other matters however they like, as long as everyone involved is consenting. Getting rid of the economic hardship factor will make this increasingly possible, will help sex workers, and will also help a lot of other people who aren’t sex workers but who need that help too. (I mean, leaving aside the question of rates of trauma in any given occupation, being forced to exhaust yourself working in shitty conditions doing anything, or starve, is fucked up. That’s not a choice anyone should face in the first place.)

      If it turns out that, in whatever sort of utopia we end up with where people don’t have to work to not starve, nobody wants to buy or sell sexual services? Fine. If there’s no demand it’s not a problem! If it turns out that some people do and there are ways for them to do so in place that respect the consent of all involved? Also fine. Because people will be getting what they need from genuinely consenting partners, and beyond that it’s none of my fucking business.

      Whereas, it seems to me, coming up with one single universal model of What Sex Is (Or Should Be) and then attempting to apply it to everyone will inevitably result in fucking over a lot of people, no matter what that model is. Because that in itself is consent-denying and agency-denying. Working towards a society in which people can have differing views of what sex is and whether or not money can be involved, and in which all of those people can meet their needs and desires with consenting others and without being forced into anything, is going to be a freer and more agency-respecting society than one where only one model of sex is Allowed.

      Fixing the economic issues is one necessary part of making that society, and it’s also something we should be doing anyway, just like dismantling rape culture is a necessary part of getting to that society and also something we should be doing anyway.

      For fuck’s sake.

  41. Li
    Li February 7, 2013 at 12:41 pm |

    Yeah, I’m out at this point. I just can’t do two full threads of doom in a row. (Which, btw, posting another thread immediately after one in which two groups of marginalised women have had to deal with massive fail about their own lives knowing that it’ll likely also spiral into something hugely emotionally draining for them is kind of a shitty thing to do and a really effective way to push them out of the space. I’m really impressed that jemima has remained here as long as she has.)

    Good luck to jemima, A4 and any of the other sex workers either reading or participating in this thread. You’re tough as all fuck. I just need a break.

    1. amblingalong
      amblingalong February 7, 2013 at 12:54 pm |

      Sorry to lose you. I’ve been incredibly impressed with everything you wrote here. Thanks.

      1. jemima101
        jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 12:58 pm |

        Yes, thanks from me too. You may have noticed I have been a lot grumpier today, and agree that both posts in a row was kind of, well I didnt win that one so I am going to try again.

        1. Donna L
          Donna L February 7, 2013 at 3:57 pm |

          Jemima, I feel the same way as you and Li: that after I barely managed to get through the excruciating horribleness that went on in the other thread (and, I just discovered, continued today with another person coming here to whine about how wrong and unfair it is to accuse people of transphobia just because they think trans women are men in dresses), seeing another, related thread immediately thereafter was disappointing. It felt like a pretense that the other thread never happened, and a way of avoiding dealing with the question that I raised in the other thread, and that Galling Galla and macavity and I all tried to address: why does this keep happening here, and what can be done about it?

          It was especially disappointing to me, perhaps, to see Martine Votvik commenting blithely in this thread, as if the other thread never happened and she didn’t say what she said there.

          If a commenter were presented with a statement (made by a writer they had defended) that “all Jews defile the Host and drink the blood of Christian children at Passover,” or that “all gay men are pedophiles,” and the commenter responded to such statements by insisting that they weren’t “hateful” themselves, but just constituted “investigation” and “discussion” of the “issues” even if they were used by others against Jews and gay men, respectively, I find it incredibly hard to believe that such a commenter would not be banned immediately, and would be allowed to continue to comment in other threads, even if they didn’t say things that were quite so offensive about other subjects.

          But to express exactly the same response, as Martine did, to Janice Raymond’s statement that “all transsexuals hate women,” and to continue to insist that such a statement isn’t itself hateful regardless of how it’s used by others? That’s OK, it seems. And the next thread goes merrily along, and she’s part of it. Even though she’s shown herself to be either monumentally obtuse, or equally disingenuous.

          As long as this sort of discourse isn’t immediately stopped on a consistent basis, and the people who engage in it promptly banned (as does happen sometimes, as it just did in the other thread, but clearly doesn’t always happen), then there is no solution, and this will continue to happen, and trans women (and trans people in general) will continue to be driven away from here. We all have limits, and the last thread came close to mine.

        2. Donna L
          Donna L February 7, 2013 at 4:00 pm |

          Typo: Janice Raymond’s statement was that “all transsexuals rape women,” not hate women, although I’m sure she believes the latter as well. Apparently my fingers found it too difficult to type the correct word.

        3. jemima101
          jemima101 February 7, 2013 at 4:03 pm |

          Massive hugs if wanted . I didn;t see what happened in the other thread, but the general theory of terfs also hating sex workers has just been confirmed.

          Hope you are OK

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 4:28 pm |

          It felt like a pretense that the other thread never happened, and a way of avoiding dealing with the question that I raised in the other thread, and that Galling Galla and macavity and I all tried to address: why does this keep happening here, and what can be done about it?

          Seconding this.

          I ask again: is it possible to have a clear set of guidelines to which commenters can point people being openly transphobic? If not, what reason does the Feministe crew have for not outlining an explicit commenting policy re: transphobia? If individuals disagree or agree, I’d really appreciate knowing who’s opposed to the idea and why.

          Obviously, I have the same considerations re: homophobia, but I see much less of that than transphobia here, so I’m more than willing to take a back seat to ensuring Donna, Becca, Galla etc aren’t being shat on in every goddamn thread that happens here.

        5. Ismone
          Ismone February 7, 2013 at 4:49 pm |

          Donna, that is horrible. I guess I need to go back to that thread. I waded in and waded out. Sigh. People say such awful things, and hugs to you.

        6. sabrina
          sabrina February 7, 2013 at 4:49 pm |

          I left that thread when I saw that it was dissolving into a train wreck because I didn’t have the energy to deal with it. I’m just about ready to leave this one too as it has drained me of my ability to interact with the bullshit for the rest of the week. The Teflon comment in particular was extremely hurtful. Thank you to Mac, Jemima, Donna, and others who stuck it out! You are awesome. I want to especially thank Li for the smack downs you gave in this thread.

        7. Caperton
          Caperton February 7, 2013 at 4:55 pm | *

          I am so sorry about this ongoing problem. It’s really not fair to any of you. I didn’t realize Martine hadn’t been banned after the last thread; she has been now. You’re right that we need to come up with a more explicit commenting policy, for transphobia and for all the other areas where we’ve failed to protect our commenters. We also need to come up with a better, consistent way of identifying these issues as they come up in long threads like this. Again, I apologize, and I wish I could undo the stress that this has caused you.

        8. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 5:01 pm |

          Just popping back in to say thank you, Caperton.

        9. Donna L
          Donna L February 7, 2013 at 5:48 pm |

          Thank you, Caperton. (Claims elsewhere of persecution and silencing undoubtedly to follow.) Believe me, I do appreciate the efforts that you and the other moderators make. It does get frustrating sometimes, though, and perhaps a more explicit, and prominently placed, commenting policy would help — a policy that, as I’ve pointed out, would have to be more specific than “transphobia and homophobia, etc., are prohibited, given that nobody ever admits that they’re guilty of either.

          I know some websites and forums have “report comment” buttons, as a way of allowing unacceptable comments to be reported promptly to moderators before a discussion gets out of hand, and theoretically avoiding the kind of situation that happens too often here, when by the time a moderator realizes what’s going on, the damage has been done.

          Would it be possible to at least try out such a button here, if it’s available? I realize that there will undoubtedly be a certain number of unnecessary “reports,” but I think it still might help.

        10. amblingalong
          amblingalong February 7, 2013 at 6:05 pm |

          I really like this idea; my personal favorite would be the way Newsvine does it, where you can give posts thumbs ups and thumbs downs; it provides positive reinforcement for people who are doing good, and mods automatically review comments with a certain number of thumbs downs.

          Just a thought.

        11. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca February 7, 2013 at 7:01 pm |

          I think it’d be cool if Feministe had a Safer Spaces Policy that did specifically outline what constituted oppressive language and behavior and therefore would be grounds for a comment being deleted or a person being banned. And I think spelling out what’s involved in some of the more common types of oppression that crop up here would be useful also. I think spelling out what exactly constitutes transphobia and what exactly constitutes racism would be the most important because (in my opinion) it seems like there are more unacknowledged instances of these than anything else. But the policy could also spell out what constitutes ableism, homophobia, rape apology, anti-Semitism, and so on. I would really appreciate such a policy, at least.

        12. tigtog
          tigtog February 7, 2013 at 7:04 pm | *

          We’ve initiated one new moderation innovation, there will be a few more to come. Read more »

    2. A4
      A4 February 7, 2013 at 1:13 pm |

      Ditto to the above. Also you have a really cute avatar

    3. Combray
      Combray February 7, 2013 at 1:26 pm |

      I’m sorry to lose your insight here too. I agree with everything you’ve written in this thread and the previous one (including your criticism of my own post above).

    4. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 4:43 pm |

      Yeah, I’m done too. I’ve wasted a perfectly good day arguing with assholes and being called names for it. Now I’m an abusive gaslighting person who doesn’t care about the disabled or poor and who wants to force people to work in brothels. I guess I should get out of the game before I’m actually called a rapist or sex trafficker.

    5. Minerva
      Minerva February 7, 2013 at 4:58 pm |

      For what it’s worth, in my time lurking around before today, I have always looked forward to reading your posts. I appreciate your insight and the generosity of spirit which keeps you posting long after (I am sure) it begins to feel exhausting. Regarding the Raymond quote… well, there aren’t words. Ugh… just ugh…

    6. Henry
      Henry February 8, 2013 at 1:59 am |

      +1 thank you folks for staying. I haven’t agreed with everything you posted, but I value the discussion. It needs to happen in a non-hate filled atmosphere.

  42. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 1:14 pm |

    Okay, let me try to break down the “entitlement” argument on both sides of the sex-worker/client thing, as far as I can see it. Hopefully it’ll clarify?

    Entitlement = believing you have the right to a resource/service/attention. (For instance, I can take my wife’s bank card to buy bread without asking her, because I am entitled to ensure that the child is fed.)

    Negotiation = attempting to thresh out acceptable and unacceptable requests. (For instance, I have asked my wife if I can use money from our chequing account to pay for an impulse purchase of an expensive book; because she knows I’ll run through all our money if I do that, she says no, but we buy a book together each month.)

    Service request = asking for a service/resource/attention that can be declined. (For instance, I would totes love if my plumber worked for free. I would also like magical elves to clean my kitchen. Plumber and magical elves do not oblige.)

    So, by this count, if a sex worker were to refuse someone the use of their time/skills, an entitled person would become abusive/rapey, a negotiator would attempt to set up another date/offer an alternative sex act but not become abusive, and a person requesting a service would briefly sadface and then move on to the next sex worker.

    I think that a lot of clients are entitled, simply because sex workers face so much more shit than the rest of us. But it would be a mistake to say that ALL clients are entitled, or even negotiate, simply because that’s a nice comfy black-and-white. I’m a peer tutor, part-time. I get people who want me to do extra tutoring, but I have to turn them down because my hours are maxed out already. Some get upset and angry. Some wheedle. Some just go “oh, bummer. Know anyone else who’s good?” And I don’t see why clients of sex workers would be any different en masse than my clients.

  43. orangedesperado
    orangedesperado February 7, 2013 at 1:36 pm |

    Sex work, like all other work, has a spectrum of context and experience. For example, a 14 year old working their first job at a very busy fast food chain with hostile, racist management will have a very different experience in the food service industry than a person who has worked at a series of high end restaurants as a maitre’d. What if that 14 year old had to get this job to help support the family because of a parent’s unemployment/dysfunction/abuse ? What if the 14 year old took this job because they wanted to work in the same place as their friends and they didn’t need the money ? What if the maitre’d has a degree or two, but working in the restaurant pays better than their field of study? What if the maitre’d has a degree or two, but a psychologically abusive partner who tells him/her that they will never do better than working in a restaurant ?

    There is a huge spectrum of experience for the people who are are sex workers, as well as the same volume of CONTEXT. I think that we can all agree that at one end of the NOT OKAY spectrum are the sex workers who cannot consent because they are underage. The waters get muddy because there are pimps, there are organized criminals who do use violence, coercion, addiction and a variety of severely abusive tactics to control the sex workers who are working for them. There are also sex workers who are sex workers to survive – because they can’t get welfare, because they have an addiction, because of a million negative reasons.

    BUT – there are sex workers who have chosen to be sex workers for a variety of reasons. Because they like the work. Because they are in control of their hours and their working conditions. Because for them, in their circumstances, they can make more money in one day than they did working 50 hrs a week. Because, for them, sex work is less demeaning/soul destroying and far more positive than working for hostile management with no chance of advancement.

    A sex worker can be a person doing phone sex, cam work, exotic dancing, BDSM, films, specialty fetish cam/video, peep shows, sexual surrogacy. There are more forms of sex work than just PIV prostitution – just like any other form of “work”.

    Some people’s experience as a sex worker was traumatic, coercive, desperate, horrifying. Some people’s experience as a sex worker was that of autonomy, stability.

    More context and thoughtful tolerance, please.

    1. moviemaedchen
      moviemaedchen February 7, 2013 at 3:05 pm |

      Yes, this.

  44. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub February 7, 2013 at 2:25 pm |

    You know what? It’s possible to side-eye the sexual double standard of women wanting sex on their own terms as freakish and terrible and men wanting sex on their own terms as totally normal and justifiable, and still think that sex workers deserve human rights and good working conditions.

    It’s possible to think that the system as it stands is fucked up (male sex workers for women may be a thing, but it’s not that common and it isn’t because women don’t like fucking) and still think that sex workers are workers and should have rights and dignity.

    It’s a fucking job. Not liking an industry doesn’t mean that people who work in the industry don’t get to have rights and protections and to be treated with dignity and respect. The culture of male entitlement to women’s bodies and the patriarchal revulsion to the idea that women can be enthusiastic customers of male sex workers (since it’s not nearly as common a thing and it’s not nearly as available to us) is not actually the fault of sex workers.

    Sex workers are doing a job. They are human beings. No matter what you think of the job they do, it’s a fucking job, and they are people, and they deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect as anyone else.

    And honestly? Most sex workers I have known think that the system and the double-standard is beyond fucked up. But they still have jobs to do, and they aren’t the ones promoting this fucked up system. If anything, a relaxation of this heteropatriarchial bullshit would make their lives–fuck, a lot of people’s lives–easier. And that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t still be sex workers.

    How about we not demonize sex workers? It’s actually quite possible to point out that our culture is fucked up and stifles women’s sexuality without punishing, shaming, or blaming sex workers. But erasing and belittling them is really, really shitty.

    1. moviemaedchen
      moviemaedchen February 7, 2013 at 3:07 pm |

      WORD.

    2. orangedesperado
      orangedesperado February 7, 2013 at 3:26 pm |

      Right on Sheelzebub ! Let us not forget the film “Bound” when the Meg Tilley character explains to her jealous superintendent girlfriend who can hear her having sex in the next apartment that she was WORKING. That she was doing the job that she has been paid to do. Which is not the same as when they have sex together.

      This seems to be a big area of confusion for many people.

    3. Schmorgluck
      Schmorgluck February 7, 2013 at 4:14 pm |

      As a pragmatic abolitionist, I totally agree with you.

    4. sabrina
      sabrina February 7, 2013 at 4:56 pm |

      thank you. Thank you thank you thank you. This x infinity.

  45. McMike
    McMike February 7, 2013 at 3:37 pm |

    Trying to deny me the buying of sex means getting involved into what 2 consenting adults do and what revolves around my penis frankly is nones business.

    What about people whom get a hot wife flashing their wealth? Do we book them for prostitution just because they pay one big lump sum?

    1. Briznecko
      Briznecko February 7, 2013 at 3:48 pm |

      MRA Bingo! (does adding all of his recent comments count?)

    2. hotpot
      hotpot February 7, 2013 at 3:49 pm |

      What about people whom get a hot wife flashing their wealth? Do we book them for prostitution just because they pay one big lump sum?

      Did you even read the post? Jill explicitly said she’s against this as well.

    3. EG
      EG February 7, 2013 at 5:25 pm |

      Trust me, nobody here wants to know about whatever is revolving around your penis.

      1. Ledasmom
        Ledasmom February 8, 2013 at 6:39 am |

        Well, not unless it’s, say, a full set of planets, some comets, an asteroid belt and possibly a few communications satellites, because that would be amazing. And make it difficult to buy underwear.
        (Apologies for flipness; didn’t see this thread until it had exploded; having read most of it now, rather depressed.)

  46. tigtog
    tigtog February 7, 2013 at 6:33 pm | *

    Admin note: Due to moderator unavailability today, this thread has been placed into full moderation. Comments will be released as time allows, but may be delayed for quite some time.

  47. lynx wings
    lynx wings February 7, 2013 at 6:53 pm |

    I think it’s interesting (read: gross) that you posted two articles about sex work in as many days and as far as I can tell, none of the writers involved have ever been sex workers. It’s not unexpected, but it’s telling.

    Also, ugh, “buying sex is unethical because entitlement.” Nope. That “entitlement” argument pretty much always tells me that the arguer doesn’t actually know what the word “entitlement” means. Here is no different.

    This thread reminds me why I stopped identifying as a feminist despite not changing a single one of my political opinions.

  48. Cora
    Cora February 8, 2013 at 7:19 am |

    I originally posted this in the old thread, my mistake!

    I understand the pro-sex work commenters points, but I was wondering about the effects of sex work on a larger scale, outside of the individual sex worker. What percentage of sex workers are women, and what percentage are men? I once heard a statistic that said about 20% of sex workers are men, but who knows where that came from, if it’s accurate, and if it was including transwomen. Anyway, my point is, if women are the vast majority of sex workers, what effect does this have on people’s opinions of all women? When people see that all the criminals on the nightly news are black, they often think that black people are unusually criminalistic. In fact, my university stopped reporting the race of suspects in campus-wide incident reports just to provide less fodder for racism. (Pretty much every report said the suspect was a black guy.) What will the effect of having state sanctioned prostitution in which a huge majority of sex workers are women? Will it make people think of women in general as primarily sexual objects, even more than they already do?

    Please bear in mind that I’m not advocating one side over the other, because I honestly don’t know enough either way. I’m not saying we should sacrifice the rights of sex workers, but I was just wondering about this point.

    Also, I wish we had a more diverse body of sex workers commenting in these threads. So many sex workers are working class or poor women of color, but most people who frequent feminist blogs aren’t. Feminism has always tended to focus on upper-middle class white ladies, and I guess that’s why as a WOC I often take it with a grain of salt.

  49. Sex Work « startmeoff
    Sex Work « startmeoff February 12, 2013 at 5:11 am |

    [...] Of course the market, as I’ve mentioned, also asks women to clean toilets for money and I haven’t always refused to do this.  But sex is different to cleaning toilets and a good case has been made for why here. [...]

  50. What Feminism Can Learn From Sex Workers - Zeusitup.com

    [...] think sex work is incredibly problematic. And I also support the rights of sex workers,” wrote Jill Filipovic in a Feministe post last week. (Filipovic is also a BuzzFeed contributor.) Her [...]

  51. The Problem with Normalising Sex Work « startmeoff

    [...] Of course the market, as I’ve mentioned, also asks women to clean toilets for money and I haven’t always refused to do this.  But sex is different to cleaning toilets and a good case has been made for why here. [...]

  52. Links Round-Up « ShoutOut! JMU
    Links Round-Up « ShoutOut! JMU February 17, 2013 at 3:51 pm |

    [...] thought this post from Feministe about defending sex workers rights while opposing sex-trafficking was an interesting [...]

  53. Knowing when to leave it (issues) | Valery North – Writer

    [...] Yet another round of “Sex work wouldn’t exist under feminism“.   I read the original Jill Filipovic piece and winced.   Basically, I disagree with the premise of the title (which is to say, I believe [...]

  54. What Feminism Can Learn From Sex Workers buzzfeed.com 12.02.13 » nothing-about-us-without-us.com

    [...] think sex work is incredibly problematic. And I also support the rights of sex workers,” wrote Jill Filipovic in a Feministe post last week. (Filipovic is also a BuzzFeed contributor.) Her [...]

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