Some excellent quick hit links to get you through the night:
1) Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon, upon returning from her roadie at the NOW convention, came upon yet another Battle Royal in the Feminist Sex Wars..and promply posted her resignation at all the vitriol spewing forth from both sides of the debate..though, being the “porn liberal” she is, she generally took the “critical supporter” for the sex-positive side. Then she did an even better public service and threw open her comments section for full battle.
Needless to say, it was on from the start….and at over 250 posts; it is still going strong even to this very minute.
The best part of watching the fireworks is that the good guys and gals are getting better at standing up to the erotophobic rants of the likes of Ginmar, Sam, and the other antiporn ramblers….but that’s not even the half of the story.
I don’t know where this KH sista came from, or even if she has a blog….but when she lays out stuff like this, it makes my heart flutter in love (or maybe it’s just lust…I don’t know):
[…] The existence of [t]rafficking & forced prostitution doesn’t justify treating prostitutes as criminals. It provides no warrant for the argument that all sex work is intrinsically forced, or that sex workers exercise no autonomy that anyone is bound to respect. These propositions aren’t straw men; they’re leading claims of the larger anti-trafficking coalition, in which some feminists collaborate with religious conservatives.
It seems likely from the tone of this thread that few here have ever actually talked to a prostitute. That’s unfortunate. There are many, many women who could better elucidate the subject, and it should be a cause for humility that many of them — where they didn’t respond to what’s been said here with cold fury — wouldn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
The whole discussion of the numbers of women who voluntarily engage in prostitution & who’re forced into it is marked by appallingly shabby abuse of the concepts of freedom, coercion, & force, & by widespread use of ‘data’ that fails to meet the most minimal social-scientific standards. Before forming judgments about these matters, readers should understand what it means to take an action voluntarily, to be coerced to do it, to be forced to do it, etc. There’s a large philosophical literature, including a feminist literature, on these subjects. There are many morally significant distinctions between the extremes of the (risibly) liberated, sex-positive prostitute for whom the money is just an added bonus, &, at the other end, the most violently subjugated sexual slave. There’s also a more modest critical literature of the relevant empirical claims.
To the same degree as other people, anti-prostitution feminists are likely find prostitution inherently, even profoundly or viscerally, distasteful. As ideologically awkward as it may be, it’s probably inevitable that they should feel a measure of contempt for women who voluntarily engage in it. Fine, we’re all subject to conflicting impulses. But please skip the protestations of good intentions & get your house in order. As it is, prostitutes still have reason enough to be skeptical of abolitionists’ plans for them.
Delphyne, what you call pro-prostitution views aren’t properly distinguished from anti-prostitution views by acceptance of a “right of access to womens’ bodies,” above all because that criterion doesn’t account for women’s will & agency. Discriminate these cases:
(a) There is a right of access to womens’ bodies. Absent conditionality on women’s consent, the right institutes a regime of rape. If right of access is unconditional, prostitution becomes superfluous, since men needn’t offer anything for access.
(b) There is never any right of access. Absent conditions, this is a regime that proscribes sexual relations. If men have no right of access, even if women want to offer it, then women equally have no right to sexual relations.
(c) There is a right of access, conditional on the will of the woman. Absent further conditions, this regime tolerates prostitution. Women’s consent itself is generally conditional. If the right of access is conditional on the unconditionality of the woman’s consent on any monetary consideration, then there is no right to prostitution.
Prostitution turns less on any imagined right of men than on women’s right to determine the conditions under which they offer access to their bodies.
But it is this long response by KH to an antiporn zealot who restated the old “consent is useless when men sexually possess women” argument that sealed the deal for me:
You reject this paraphrase of your claims: “…  pro-prostitution views are associated with the view that men should have a right of sexual access to women’s bodies, and  the rape of trafficked women elucidates the reality of that right.” I’ve reread your words I find no reason to change my summary. (You offer none.)
Re : You wrote: “ … pro-prostitution & anti-prostitution [views] differ fundamentally as to whether or not men should have the right of sexual access to women’s bodies.” How does my meaning above differ from yours here?
Re : To demonstrate that the right of access isn’t imaginary, you say that “men who use trafficked women’s bodies aren’t prosecuted for rape.” Doesn’t the case of the rape of trafficked women elucidate (or exemplify or offer evidence of) the right (or the reality of it)?
You continue: “I used the rape of trafficked women as an example of men’s current right of access to women’s bodies. De facto rights that allow them to rape women without concern for any kind of legal retribution.”
You use the phrase “men’s right of sexual access to women’s bodies” (call it RA, right of access) indiscriminately to describe two very different things. The two conditions are [RA1] the conditional access a woman offers to her body (for love or money), & [RA2] the unconditional access a man arrogates to himself, independently of the woman’s will. Prostitution involves RA1 & is rendered superfluous by RA2. You can conflate the two things only by eliding the role of women’s will & agency, an odd oversight in a feminist. Conflating rape & prostitution is no different in this specific regard from conflating rape & any other consensual sexual relations.
After having stated that so-called pro-prostitution views are distinguished by the claim that “men should have” a right of access (AR), you characterize AR in terms of instances involving AR2. Whatever your intention, your rhetoric has the effect of associating pro-prostitution views with AR2. But they require only AR1, & indeed are inconsistent with AR2. Any attempt to associate pro-prostitution views with AR2 is spurious & grossly prejudicial.
Maybe I haven’t put the issue clearly enough: Do you accuse the defenders of pro-prostitution views of suggesting, implying, or otherwise unintentionally giving support to the claim that “men should have” any right of access of the kind described by AR2 & exemplified by your example of the rape of trafficked women? This is a very inflammatory, not to say vulgar & transparently dishonest, charge, & I don’t want to attribute it to you if you’re merely confused or careless.
If, when you differentiate the pro- & anti-prostitution positions, you merely mean to say that the former defends a man’s conditional right of access to a woman’s body if, to the extent, & under the conditions that she offers it – & so, reciprocally, the woman’s right to grant access to her body on her own terms – then no defender of prostitutes’ rights can justly object. But if you mean to associate this view with the horrors to which you keep recurring, then you’re either incorrigibly confused or something worse.
It’s a recurring rhetorical strategy of self-described ‘abolitionists’ to cloud & divert discussions of voluntary prostitution by spuriously introducing references to rape, forced prostitution, & other mayhem – not to raise the legitimate question of the possible empirical relation between prostitution & these things, but to intrinsically conflate them. The strategy is exemplified by the effort – successfully in the documents of various national & international governmental & intergovenmental agencies – to redefine prostitution, all prostitution, as a form slavery, rape, & violence. The claim is not that, as a contingent empirical matter, some forms of prostitution are plagued by violence, etc., but that there’s no conceptual distance between voluntary prostitution and these things. No honest discussion can proceed on these grounds. All this may be ideologically gratifying to some people, but it can have real consequences for the women who face, along with everything else, the business end of the disciplinary apparatus of the state.
I think you & I’ve come to the same conclusions. A story: For a long time I lived under the same roof as a woman who was in & out of this stuff &, mostly through her, have casually known a bunch more, & I’m struck now not only by the vast, complacent distance from the reality of prostitutes’ lives on exhibit here, but also by the distinct, ineptly disguised coolness toward their just claims. All this is grimly consistent with past experience. I’ve had many opportunities to observe face-to-face interaction, in my living room, between prostitutes and self-described radical feminists (& other assorted pwogwessives). A lot of the latter were friends, people I for the most part genuinely admired, but the effect always resembled the interaction between the Marx Brothers & Margaret Dumont, only without Dumont’s humanity. People just fear & dislike prostitutes, the current cohort of feminists if anything more than most people. If there’s a saving grace, it’s that they don’t care enough to frame their arguments very well, & so can do less damage.
While these fatuous & self-regarding ideologues entertain themselves, however, it should be remembered that existing policy has real costs. My friend, who was the smartest, best person I’ve even known (her father taught at Yale Med School), got into trouble & ultimately had her kids taken away. Because of a two-bit pros charge. She committed suicide 7 years ago next October, & I haven’t seen the kids since. I don’t think I’ll ever really recover.
This isn’t to deny the role of other sound and sane minds in the debate (Nancy, FoolishKiss, and Marith, who is an actual prostitute, also got off some beautiful blasts in favor of sanity and truth, and of course Belledame had to elbow in at the end with her brilliance (as well as a certain Black male sex rad, too…;-) ))..but it was KH who stole the show and my heart.
If ever you want to open your own blog, my dear, I am at your disposal. And there’s a leadership slot in the 101st Fighting SexPos Progressive Headslap Brigade (TM) with your name on it, too. Brava, KH, for telling it like it is.
You can see the entire debate at Pandagon here.
Meanwhile…….over at The Fine Art of Free Speech and Dissent, Miriam is getting her usual rant and rave on in the Feminist Sex Wars with her own continuing series of posts reflecting her unique position outside the “charmed circle” of radicalfeminist loathing and fear. First, there is this long rant on the “masculinization” of female sexuality wgere RelEv goes off on the pretension that women seeking sex on their own terms is tantimont to a plot of patriarchy…and could even be seen as a sign of equality:
I see women who view sex in this light quite often. Most range in age from mid-twenties to forty-ish. Many, but not all, are single. They head out on weekends, much like a man might, looking to hook up and achieve physical release with a human partner, and expecting nothing more. “Sport fucking”. Many are busy women who do not want or have the time or desire to engage in seeking a relationship, but desire sex. Many are merely “out there having fun” with no strings attached. Many simply believe, despite everything they have probably been told their whole life, that sex does not mean love and it is something that can be enjoyed without a commitment. It’s not about getting love, or attention, or respect. For these women, it is about getting off. Orgasm. Bottom line.
Is this the end of feminism or what a goal of the movement has been all along? Is it the Patriarchy’s deviously conceived wet dream or something that should set off its warning bells and buzzers? Is it women acting of their own accord and on their own desires with no guilt or just yet another way women are seeking to please men? The great answer, the “great truth”? I do not know. I can only speak for myself. I do view sex in this way; I always have, despite what anyone ever told me. Orgasms feel good. I like them. I like sex and sexuality in almost all its aspects, and I like to indulge. I do not need to be in love for this. I do not need some emotional connection. I need someone who is consenting and of the same mind. I do not feel guilty for doing it. It’s a good time. It’s like eating a great steak. It’s a biological urge. End of story. And no man convinced me of this; it is just the way I happen to be wired. Is it a traditionally “masculine” or animalistic way to view sex and my sexuality? Yes. Does that make it wrong, or harrow the downfall of the female of the species, or play into an unflatteringly simple stereotype? No, I do not really think so. And if what I see is any indication, I am not the only one. The MFS woman is not some rabid, slavering, immoral whore in heat, but she has realized there is more to life and her sexual options than what Mom told her about.
And how does this compare to the caricature of the “Female Chauvinist Pig” that Ariel Levy has ridden to fame?? Well..sayeth Miriam:
How is this different than the theories of “raunch culture?”
While “Raunch Culture” certainly mentions the phenomena of casual sex amongst females, it also focuses heavily on the way women in the culture dress, maintain/modify their bodies, consume pornography (presumably) for their partners pleasure, and in essence live their lives by some patriarchal-driven ideal of “the perfect female sexual construct”. Do some MFS women hold aspects of “Raunch Culture”? Sure they do. Hell, I do. But what a great many people who buy into the Raunch Culture theory forget is the fact that perhaps, just perhaps, women who wear thongs or get implants or wear heels, who watch porn and masturbate to it while not in the presence of boyfriends /husbands/fuck buddies, who enjoy casual sex and being sexual and sexualized are doing it for their own reasons, for its own sake and for their own amusement and thrill…and may in fact not even be attracted to men!
Such women do exist, you know. I look at one in the mirror every morning.
However, not all women who seem to have masculinized their female sexuality fall into the “raunch realm”, not by a long shot. They may engage in casual sex, but they do not consume pornography, dress in a sexualized manner, wear heels, work out, have surgery, do any such thing. They merely like sex and will engage in it, no strings attached. In fact, aside from the pursuit of orgasm and propensity for casual sex, they fly in the face of “raunch culture”. Which makes me think there is more to it than “just being a trend”. There is more to it than some patriarchy plot. It is more about nature and desire and fun than anything else.
And then there is this looooooooooong essay where Miriam really goes off and fires away on varying subjects…such as the propensity of “feminists” who think that they know her body better than she does, and think that they can define feminism better than she can:
Feminism is about women helping themselves and one another to function with more authority, power and equality within society, a goal which can be accomplished on many fronts and via many tactics. Feminism is about women protecting one another and one another’s rights, even when we do not agree. Feminism is about being proud and happy to be a woman, shaking off shame and guilt, and finding your voice and making it heard. Feminism is about a woman finding her power, and that of other women, and using it to accomplish acts, large and small, that pave the way for other women, all women, those living now and those to come, being able to do the same and hopefully have an easier time of it than we have had. We fight and write and work now, so perhaps some day, our sisters and daughters and nieces and neighbors won’t have to fight so hard, if at all. They will be able to choose for themselves, and have opportunities, and enjoy equality…perhaps choices and opportunities and equalities that we do not have.That is feminism the RenEv way. You don’t have to like or believe it…fine…that’s the beauty…I am not trying to force you to (or tell you what a feminist you are not for disagreeing), and at this point, I am past giving a shit…after all, I shave my legs and like rough sex…no such woman could possibly ever have an inkling about anything remotely feminist, right?That is feminism the RenEv way. You don’t have to like or believe it…fine…that’s the beauty…I am not trying to force you to (or tell you what a feminist you are not for disagreeing), and at this point, I am past giving a shit…after all, I shave my legs and like rough sex…no such woman could possibly ever have an inkling about anything remotely feminist, right?That is feminism the RenEv way. You don’t have to like or believe it…fine…that’s the beauty…I am not trying to force you to (or tell you what a feminist you are not for disagreeing), and at this point, I am past giving a shit…after all, I shave my legs and like rough sex…no such woman could possibly ever have an inkling about anything remotely feminist, right?That is feminism the RenEv way. You don’t have to like or believe it…fine…that’s the beauty…I am not trying to force you to (or tell you what a feminist you are not for disagreeing), and at this point, I am past giving a shit…after all, I shave my legs and like rough sex…no such woman could possibly ever have an inkling about anything remotely feminist, right?That is feminism the RenEv way. You don’t have to like or believe it…fine…that’s the beauty…I am not trying to force you to (or tell you what a feminist you are not for disagreeing), and at this point, I am past giving a shit…after all, I shave my legs and like rough sex…no such woman could possibly ever have an inkling about anything remotely feminist, right?That is feminism the RenEv way. You don’t have to like or believe it…fine…that’s the beauty…I am not trying to force you to (or tell you what a feminist you are not for disagreeing), and at this point, I am past giving a shit…after all, I shave my legs and like rough sex…no such woman could possibly ever have an inkling about anything remotely feminist, right?
That is feminism the RenEv way. You don’t have to like or believe it…fine…that’s the beauty…I am not trying to force you to (or tell you what a feminist you are not for disagreeing), and at this point, I am past giving a shit…after all, I shave my legs and like rough sex…no such woman could possibly ever have an inkling about anything remotely feminist, right?
Then there is this rejoiner at “feminists” who deny the social agency of sex workers:
Now see, I well know that there are women in the industry who are victims and loathe where they are. But it seems you cannot have it both ways. It has to be all women in the industry hate it, and if they don’t…well, shitty. You have to be insulted and demonized and a gender traitor and a Henchwoman of the Patriarchy TM, because when it comes to righteously railing against the hated bane of the pornstitution, there can be no dissent. There can be no choice. There can be nothing but victims and casualties and pain. There can be nothing but unwilling women being degraded and used. There can only be poor exploited souls. There can be no happy, willing, business savvy whores. Whores are not supposed to enjoy their work, much less deviant acts like anal and S&M. Such women are scary, they do not feed ‘the cause’, so they must be silenced and mocked and ignored and shunned and insulted. They cannot be allowed to speak or be taken at their word, much less taken seriously. This cannot be condoned, ever. We fear what we do not understand or accept, so we will marginalize it. Whorephobia at its finest! Humm, think it is going to stop me from stripping or taking it up the ass (willingly) in front of a camera anytime soon?
Yeah, me either.
And then there is this essay where she layeth the smack down on the latest Asshat of the Month, Girls Gone Wild founder/CEO/serial rapist (allegedly) Joe Francis and how his assault on a female reporter should be roundly condemned..but not used to slam sex positives:
,There is a huge difference between what Francis does and what I do/advocate/defend.GGW is a camera crew going out and exploiting, almost exculsively, young women who are A) intoxicated B) often not even legal to drink C) responding to peer pressure D) put on “the spot” and E) often caught up in a moment of “mob mentality”. In short, these girls have a lot working against them when it comes to rendering a mentally clear state of consent, and they are hardly “rewarded adequetly” for their efforts.When I do what I do, I am sober, there are rules, contracts and fees. I have a driver/guard with me. No one is pressuring me into doing something on a whim. I am over 21. The “do’s and don’ts” are cast in stone. If these things are not iron-clad, I walk out. There is no group of people pressuring me into anything. I am able and prepared to render a mentally clear state of consent.That is the difference.
Of course, that won’t stop the usual forces from breaking out the old “Told ‘ya so!!! ‘Ya see, that’s what porn does to women!! Ban ’em all!!!” card…but at least there is an alternative POV out there.And just to show that Miriam isn’t all piss and vinegar, there is this touching tribute to track-n-field Goddess Florence Griffith-Joyner, who passed away a while back after she used the 1996 Olympics as her own personal travelling style show..while breaking all types of records.
All this — and so much more goodness for your brain — is available at Miriam’s blog. Feel free to check it out.
Finally, there is the aftermath of Connecticut Senatorial Smackdown 2006 — Part 1.
You just got to hand it to Fighting (for the GOP) Joe Lieberman for his chutzpah….not every Senator who just got his ass kicked in his own party primary by an upstart novice like Ned Lamont can boast about coming back to win in the general election. But with the support of much of the national Democratic brass (albeit hidden due to the protocol of outward loyalty to Lamont as THE Dem nominee) and much of its bank; the added push of the establishment media Center and Right who are more than ready to push the “wacky Far-Left/Extremist Left hijacking the party from the ‘moderates'” meme and pile more dirt on Neddie; and a nice huge warchest to spend in four months; even with a Republican on the ticket, you can’t rule Lieberman out by any means. Cracking Fighting Joe for his ass kissing of Dubya and his fawning of Dubya’s war games has gotten Lamont pretty far..but he will still need to do some real two stepping to maintain his momentum…because I’m sure that the DLC and the Repubs will be throwing everything (including Tony Snow’s kitchen sink) at him.
The sadder news is that Cynthia McKinney got rooked out of her Georgia congressional seat again….apparantly the Atlanta bigwigs colluded with the establishment media after her brush with the Capital Police authorities and bought a putatively progressive candidate named Hank Johnson (he even got BlogAds on progressive blogs, for heaven’s sake)..and apparantly that along with some Diebold chicanery was able to put him over the top. Too bad, because CMcK’s unabashedly progressive voice will be duly missed. Hopefully, she will get her chance at revenge in two years….and considering what the Democrats did to abandon and smear her, she should do it as a Green or an Independent. If the Greens were smart, she’s make an excellent Presidential candidate, too….but that’s another story for another time. All this….and no hurricanes have struck the US either…cross your fingers that our luck holds.