Your WTF of the Day

7 04 2009

The UN anti-trafficking protocol, courtesy of the lovely Born Whore.

Now, I know what you may be thinking. “How can you oppose anti-trafficking measures?”

Scroll to page 6. You’ll see “highlights”.

“That the consent of a victim of trafficking is irrelevant (Art. 3b)”

Wait, what? I thought the definition of trafficking was that it was non-consensual.

Apparently not. Apparently, crossing any border to engage in sex work is considered trafficking.

What the fuck is this shit?

First of all, it’s racist in that it really only targets sex workers from outside the Western world. Like, if someone moved from Ireland to Canada, and was a sex worker, would anyone consider that trafficking? Probably not – because the assumption is that women of certain races and ethnicities can make their own decisions, and others cannot. Eww.

Of course, this is all written (or at least summarized) by Janice G. Raymond.





In which school makes me want to bang my head against a wall.

6 04 2009

I’ve been a terrible blogger lately, and by terrible, I mean “completely absent”. As it turns out, being in grade 12 and being a slow worker is not condusive to blogging 2-3 times a week. I’ll try and get back into the swing of things, though, if anybody still bothers to read this.

But, no, lack of blogging time is not what makes me want to bang my head against the wall.

Last week, in my English class, we were having a discussion about many things. One of those nice tangential ones where a lot of ideas get tossed around. Specifically, it related to the movie Water, which is actually a really good movie. So, my English teacher asks us this question:

“Is there really such a thing as a willing prostitute?”

I knew where this was going. I chimed in with something along the lines of “Uh, you guys, I know willing prostitutes.”

My teacher (who is actually a complete sweetheart, but kind of dead wrong on this one), procceeded to explain the correlation between child abuse and prostitution, and how she read a book about Vancouver’s downtown East Side and all these people live such horrible lives, and therefore, no prostitute would actually, you know, want to do that stuff.

Talk about jumping wildly to conclusions.

Then she said something like “We can’t judge these people, they’ve all had really hard lives.”

Isn’t assuming someone to be a victim a judgement in itself?

Also, in my World Issues class, in our unit on women’s issues, there is a lesson entitled “Prostitution and Slavery.” Same lesson.

I do realize people have varying opinions about sex work. But, wilfully ignoring the voices of sex workers just because it doesn’t fit the script? That’s just ignorant.





“Choice” was so ten years ago.

18 05 2008

Something has been bothering me for a while about certain sections of the feminist movement.

Remember “choice”? You know, what we were fighting for a bunch of years ago? Well, it seems to have gone out of style.

Sure, anyone will still valiantly defend your right to choose certain things related to reproductive health; namely, birth control and abortion. Unless we’re talking about “pro-life feminists” (shudder). But, especially lately, a lot of choices aren’t seen as nearly as valid. Specifically, choosing to do things certain feminists don’t approve of.

You know what I mean. Choose to have an abortion, or become an engineer? Good on ya! Choose to wear something revealing, be tied up, or be a stripper or porn star? Suddenly, you lose your ability to choose that. You know, because it’s all a product of brainwashing by the patriarchy.

I’ll definitely admit that sexism does influence our choices sometimes. So does racism, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism, and whatever other internalized prejudices one might have. But those aren’t always the only reasons someone might choose to do something (especially something you don’t particularly like or approve of). And, really, when it comes to women in porn or sex work or whatever, do people who call themselves “feminists” really think women are that weak and unintelligent? That they’re so brainwashed by the patriarchy that they couldn’t possibly make a choice of their own?

And as for choices that aren’t frowned upon? Well, I’ll be the first to admit that people don’t always have the most pristine of motives for, say, having abortions. Like, you know, wealthy families who don’t want a kid with Down Syndrome because they’ll never graduate from Princeton. Is it a choice I would make? Probably not. Is it influenced by a lot of ableism? Probably. Am I going to badger them constantly, and tell them how wrong and brainwashed they are? Hell no. It’s not my place to judge, let alone harass them over it. Which is why I distanced myself from a lot of the pro-lifers at Aspies for Freedom – but that is another rant for another time.

You know, it’s hugely ironic when certain feminists go on about “choice”. Then, when someone chooses something they don’t like, that person’s ability to choose suddenly vaporizes.

At some point, regardless of the motives they might have, we have to step back and let other people make their own decisions. Especially when those people are telling you to back off.

When I say I’m pro-choice, I mean it. And it’s not just about abortion.





Yes. I’m pissed off.

3 05 2008

So, if you haven’t heard, “D.C. Madam” Deborah Jeane Palfrey committed suicide.

This whole situation is fucked up. And some people’s reactions (or lack therof), are even more fucked up.

It just hit me that certain “radical feminist” bloggers, while pretending to just disagree with the sex industry (which isn’t my point of view, but hey, I can respect that), really just hate sex workers.

Like, when they accuse RenEv of not being a real person. Or, when a member of a certain message board called sex workers “retarded”. That’s right, folks, ableism and sex worker hate in the same sentence!

And then, I suppose, are people who react differently. I know this probably sounds bad, but it creeps me out a little when male feminists become involved in the “plight” of sex workers (how awful it must be to be a whore), and consequently, treat female sex workers like children (which is kind of a patriarchal in itself). You know, I really hate it when people say “Well, we protect children, why not women”. Umm…no. How the hell patronizing is that? Full grown women are not children.

Another characteristic of some of these anti-“pornstitution” folks is ignoring the voice of any sex worker they don’t agree with. Or saying, if someone does choose to be a sex worker (and choose is the operative word here), it must because of their mommy/daddy issues or blatant stupidity. Again, it’s so condescending it makes my head hurt.

And no. Do not say “Her death was tragic, but…”. No. Don’t accuse her of being a “pimp”.

And I’ve noticed a lot of silence on this, too. Because, again, some people only choose to see what they want to.

I heard Palfrey was facing up to 55 years in prison. For what? We don’t give those kind of sentences to armed robbers and child molesters.

Fuck. I’m really not loving the “morality police” right now. Not that I ever liked them. But I’m quite pissed off at the moment.

I think Amber Rhea said it better than I ever could.





Am I the only feminist…

27 04 2008

…who is sick of the constant hand-wringing over the kind of consensual sex other folks are having?

I know I said it in a comment on Feministing. And I’ll say it again.

How messed up are our priorities?

Really. We think when some woman (or man) who wants to be a human naked sushi table or wear a sexy “French maid” outfit or (gasp) perform in porn it’s the end of the world? That it’s so awful?

Does the term “consent” mean anything to some people? How about “Have a nice big cup of mind your own business“?

It’s seriously disheartening to see “feminists” acting a hell of a lot like the religious right: you know, deciding to hate people for the kind of sex they’re having. And yes, I’m aware the two philosophies, obviously, come from different places. But the result is often the same.

As feminists, to paraphrase my friend Chanelle Gallant, don’t we have bigger fish to fry than porn, BDSM, and what people are friggin’ wearing? Like how about rape? Reproductive justice? Sweatshops? Unequal pay? Racism? Queer-bashing?

The focus on people having the “wrong” kind of sex is kind of silly, when you look at it. In fact, it’s a distraction. A huge distraction from the issues we face which are, for some, a matter of life and death.





Dear narrow-minded “feminists”,

21 04 2008

First of all, bite me.

Second of all, bite me.

Galling Galla explains it better than I ever could.

I’m not going to even give you the luxury of calling you “feminist” – feminism, to me, is about equality for all women, not just the ones who do things you like. And who made you the great arbiter of what is female and feminist?

Much love,

Miss Nomered, queer (not in the “political” sense, in the “women are damn sexy” sense), sex-positive (yes you can be sex-negative), transgender-friendly, pro-sex worker FEMINIST.





In Defence of Raunch Feminism

18 04 2008

(Note: This is a post for the second Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy. Woo-hoo!)

About a year ago, I read Ariel Levy’s book Female Chauvinist Pigs. If you haven’t read it, I’ll sum it up for you: essentially, Ms. Levy takes issue with “raunch culture”, especially that which is assumed to be masquerading as feminism. While some of her points are well taken, I think the entire premise of the book was somewhat misguided.

Never mind the fact that nobody really considers Girls Gone Wild or Sex and the City feminist. Not even sex-positive feminist.

A few weeks ago, the 3rd annual Feminist Porn Awards took place in my city. And the feminist blogosphere jumped on it. I don’t feel like linking every single post, so just do a google blog search if you want to read what people posted. There were quite a few positive responses, but also a lot of stuff along the lines of “How DARE you take the exploitation of women, and call it feminist?”

My friend Chanelle Gallant actually helped spearhead the first FPA’s, and trust me, she knows what she’s doing. I always found it interesting that even though she says that the Feminist Porn Awards were meant to combat sexism and racism in porn, and that while a lot of porn sucks, not all of it does, the knee-jerk reactions are still the same. And whether the debate surrounds porn, sex work, or a woman simply wearing a low-cut top, the same word keeps popping up from a lot of feminists.

Victim.

As in, “women who are in porn are victims of the patriarchy”. Or “Sex workers are victims of exploitation”. And if someone points to organizations like the Sex Professionals of Canada or Scarlet Alliance or Empower, people concede, “Well, there are some who choose to do that, but they’re in the tiny minority”.

It’s true that a number of women (and men) are coerced into sex work. But the assumption that seems to come up over and over again, at least the way I see it, is this: women do not have the power to consent to sex work.

And this seems to be coming from a blatantly sexist assumption – women are too weak, or too stupid, or too easily controlled to be able to make such choices for themseleves. I doubt many people would admit it, at least in those words, but that’s where it seems to be coming from. Not to mention it’s incredibly heteronormative – pornography and sex work can involve people who are queer or straight, transgender and cisgender. It’s not always about “men vs. women”.

The way I see it, trying to regulate people’s consensual sexual activities is often inherently anti-feminist in itself. It’s usually an effort to control women’s bodies. We see it time and time again with the religious right – restrictive abortion laws, restricted access to birth control, and abstinence-only sex education. And we’re seeing it with people who call themselves feminist. Because, supposedly, no self-respecting woman would ever do THAT! And then there’s the good old “Would you want your daughter doing that? What about your sister?” Never mind the fact that nobody wants to imagine any of their relatives doing the nasty. It’s all about control – people wouldn’t want their children, their family members, their friends doing that. So then they shouldn’t. Actually, if I had a friend or relative in the sex industry, I’d want them to be safe, but I’d support them just the same. I don’t see a need to be judgemental about other’s sex lives.

And I think, if someone is making an informed choice (and choice is the key word), more power to them.

And then there’s the other false assumption that people use against this so-called “raunch feminism”. And I think most people are guilty of using it from time to time. It’s that sex, sexuality, or anything that has to do with it is inherently unintelligent, superficial, and vacuous.

I call bullshit.

I think eroticism is one of the most powerful things out there. Or, in the words of Audre Lorde, “We tend to think of the erotic as an easy, tantalizing sexual arousal. I speak of the erotic as the deepest life force, a force which moves us toward living in a fundamental way.”

Think of when you’re attracted to someone. I mean really attracted. Can you feel it throughout your whole body? Does it take over your mind? I think that’s why we use eroticism so often in media and pop culture. It’s a powerful tool. And it’s usually not done in the most tasteful or equitable way, which is why we should critique what we see in the media. But I think the mistake a lot of people make is to automatically assume sex is either vacuous and stupid, or inherently exploitive. It can be, and sometimes it isn’t.

Which is why we have a responsibility, if we choose to use sex in one way or another (and almost all of us do, eventually), to do it in a smart way. Yes, you can have really smart, thoughtful sex! Casual sex, or other sex outside of a relationship, I don’t think is excluded from this either – sex for its own sake, in my opinion, is neither disgusting, nor degrading, nor a sign of being “low class”. It just, well, is what it is – sex for the sake of pleasure. I think we have to look at power structures, and critique them, without jumping to unnecessary conclusions or making unnecessary assumptions or judgments. Don’t assume people’s reasons for doing things. I think, if you look at it, a lot of people, including sex workers and those who use their services, are smarter than you think.

So here’s to raunch feminism. The smart, sexy kind that’s breaking down boundaries and ensuring sexual freedom for everyone. It may not be what you think it is.