'Anarchism and sex' article

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James Woolley
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Nov 21 2006 17:00
'Anarchism and sex' article

I think this article fails at a true understanding of the nature of sexual exploitation women have to endure. It does not mention the patriarchy, and comments like this:

'So as anarchist communists, our attitude to a lap-dancing club should be pretty much on a similar basis to our attitude to a cinema or a foundry or a supermarket – in other words, it’s about business as usual.'

Pretty much echo the same old Marxist feminism (economic), not anarcho-feminism or radical feminism.

James Woolley
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Nov 21 2006 17:03

Although it's on the home page, before it disappears from there, here is the link:

http://libcom.org/library/anarchism-and-sex

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Joseph Kay
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Nov 21 2006 17:54

the author is on the boards so hopefully they'll see this and comment (i haven't read the article yet).

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Serge Forward
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Nov 22 2006 01:27

It's not so much that I lack an understanding of patriarchy, it's just that most lapdancers (at least in Britain) are no more, no less exploited than anyone else who has to earn a crust.

Please can you elaborate on what you mean by "same old Marxist feminism (economic), not anarcho-feminism or radical feminism." See, I don't think I was particularly economistic, just suspicious of a lot of the knee-jerk moralism.

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Tacks
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Nov 22 2006 02:35
James Woolley wrote:
Pretty much echo the same old Marxist feminism (economic), not anarcho-feminism or radical feminism.

u couldn't post an equivalent anarcho feminist text could u?
Ta smile

Caiman del Barrio
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Nov 22 2006 02:42

I'm curious as to who wrote it. I got a few things to say about it, but I better post tomorrow when I'm less wasted. Otherwise I might flame someone or something.

... wink

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Tacks
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Nov 22 2006 03:00

serge did, see his post on this thread.

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Joseph Kay
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Nov 22 2006 09:03

a couple of comments:

on the lap dancing thing, i pretty much agree with the article. objections do seem based on (pretty conservative) moralising. i'd guess the anarcha-feminist viewpoint James alludes to is something like is mentioned in the article, that lap dancing reproduces objectified gender roles, which themselves reproduce a culture where rape/predatory male sexuality is acceptable or at least tolerated. i'd suggest that if that's the objection then campaigning against workers is picking a soft target when a multi-million pound industry churns out volumes of material which does just that on a larger scale, and then we're into anti-porn and liberal feminism neutral Is there an anarcha-feminist in the house?

And a quick comment on the conclusion:

Quote:
The honesty is when people are truly and non-judgementally in a position to sexually express themselves without fear of being labelled a pervert, a deviant or a poof.

or following on from the RAG thread, a prude or a fridge. the injunction to 'be sexual' isn't sexual liberation but simply the flipside of repression. Fair enough, you hint at this "from the disinterested asexual ...", but i think it's an understated point. I have a (female) mate whose workplace is more sexually charged than your average brothel, and if you don't flirt gratuitously or go out everynight, get paraletic and crash in a workmate's bed you get pretty quickly ostracised. that ain't liberation, it's a 'liberated' cover for a couple of predatory individuals.

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Steven.
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Nov 22 2006 09:38
James Woolley wrote:
Pretty much echo the same old Marxist feminism (economic), not anarcho-feminism or radical feminism.

I don't agree with that - I do agree with the article though.

The contrary attitude - which is not "anarcho" feminism but just liberal feminism - is that which leads people to do things like oppose strip clubs per se, and do things like campaign against having having them in their local areas. This just sets up sex worker women as being "bad" and making things worse for "nice", "normal" women, and it's nonsense.

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Serge Forward
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Nov 22 2006 10:43
Joseph K. wrote:
or following on from the RAG thread, a prude or a fridge. the injunction to 'be sexual' isn't sexual liberation but simply the flipside of repression. Fair enough, you hint at this "from the disinterested asexual ...", but i think it's an understated point. I have a (female) mate whose workplace is more sexually charged than your average brothel, and if you don't flirt gratuitously or go out everynight, get paraletic and crash in a workmate's bed you get pretty quickly ostracised. that ain't liberation, it's a 'liberated' cover for a couple of predatory individuals.

That's a very good point and I wish I'd written about this when I originally did the article.

James Woolley
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Nov 22 2006 14:55
Serge Forward wrote:
It's not so much that I lack an understanding of patriarchy, it's just that most lapdancers (at least in Britain) are no more, no less exploited than anyone else who has to earn a crust.

See, you don't differentiate this kind of work between regular (i.e. factory) work. In other words - you see it from a simply economic point of view that lap dances do not not earn less than 'regular' work (I put it in inverted commas as I think the term 'regular' is inadequate, however I cannot find a more appropriate term).

My position is that it objectifies women and is demeaning and encourages a bad attitude in men.

Serge Forward wrote:
Please can you elaborate on what you mean by "same old Marxist feminism (economic), not anarcho-feminism or radical feminism." See, I don't think I was particularly economistic, just suspicious of a lot of the knee-jerk moralism.

The radical feminist critique of such practices as lap dancing is wholly different to the victorian moralistic objection to it.
I could perhaps understand why you might think it was 'knee-jerk moralism' if men were exploited in such a way. However, it appears to have passed you by that it is very much women who have to prostitute themselves (and I use the word 'prositute' in its widest sense, in the same way that capitalism is essentially based on prostitution - doing something that one considers below oneself, or have been inculcated with the idea that it is a worthy job), and not men.
Marxist feminism I understand to be purely economic in that it looks at how women are exploited in wages an work etc. I'm prepared for someone to tell me I am wrong.

Sorry if this post was too long.

James Woolley
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Nov 22 2006 15:00
John. wrote:
James Woolley wrote:
Pretty much echo the same old Marxist feminism (economic), not anarcho-feminism or radical feminism.

I don't agree with that - I do agree with the article though.

The contrary attitude - which is not "anarcho" feminism but just liberal feminism - is that which leads people to do things like oppose strip clubs per se, and do things like campaign against having having them in their local areas. This just sets up sex worker women as being "bad" and making things worse for "nice", "normal" women, and it's nonsense.

Interesting how the anarchist Andrea Dworkin protested against pornography and everything similar to it.

Dworkin wanted to make it illegal. I don't agree with this, just like I don't agree with making anything illegal, but think that the solution is to change society where women would not feel the need to prostitute themselves in such a way - i.e. that it is volunteered.
I don't see any implication in wanted to get rid of such clubs as thinking the women involved are 'bad', merely that they are exploited.

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Joseph Kay
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Nov 22 2006 15:05
James Woolley wrote:
My position is that it objectifies women and is demeaning and encourages a bad attitude in men.

but if women choose that exploitation over lower paid 'regular' exploitation, who are we to condemn them? I mean lap dancers are hardly at the forefront of the objectification of women, and potentially that kind of work offers more autonomy and is less alienating than 'regular' work, so there are pros as well as cons ...

How do you feel about male strippers etc? Or the fact the majority of bouncers are men? don't these jobs reify* gender roles too? I mean does the existence of lap dancing clubs tangibly harm women/society in general? (i dunno, honest question)

* jargon watch: 'to treat something abstract as if it is real and material'

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madashell
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Nov 22 2006 15:13
James Woolley wrote:
See, you don't differentiate this kind of work between regular (i.e. factory) work. In other words - you see it from a simply economic point of view that lap dances do not not earn less than 'regular' work (I put it in inverted commas as I think the term 'regular' is inadequate, however I cannot find a more appropriate term).

My position is that it objectifies women and is demeaning and encourages a bad attitude in men.

I don't see how lap dancing is any more demeaning or objectifying in itself than, say, cleaning public toilets or working as bar staff in some grotty dive.

Taking your argument to its logical conclusion, any expression of male sexuality is inherently objectifying. Which strikes me as astonishingly simplistic and essentialist. Not that it's really that surprising from somebody who bigs up Andrea fucking Dworkin tongue

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Nov 22 2006 15:18

Don't need to apologise James. Your post seems fine to me.

Yes, you're right. Lap-dancing can and does objectify women and I actually think this sort of "adult entertainment" is largely a pile of cack. This is mainly because it is exactly that, objectified female sexuality at its most stereotyped, humdrum and mediocre. That's not to say I think sexual objectification is always necessarily a bad thing either, but in the case of the average lap-dancing club or soft-core porno mag, then I'm inclined to agree with you.

I accept that more women than men work in the sex industry. But (exceptions aside) if you think women in this industry are exploited any more than women in other industries, then you are wrong. You'll also find that most sex workers dislike the term "prostitute" but if you're using this word in its widest sense, that we are all prostitutes, then surely exploitation of women and men would be 50/50?

You'll find that I was never arguing on purely economic grounds, the article had a much wider scope than that. You may not be looking at this issue from an economic or moralistic standpoint, but I'm still unsure of your basis for making sex work out to be some kind of "special case" which needs to be viewed differently from other types of work we do.

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Joseph Kay
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Nov 22 2006 15:28
revol68 wrote:
I mean the other problem is that historically patriarchy has attempted to legitimise itself by "protecting" women sexuality and modesty against predatory maleness.

at times yes. at other times rape and brothels have been legalised as part of a systematic assault on women (particularly during the feudal reaction to unprecendented peasant power in the wake of the black death in europe, cheers Federici wink)

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Joseph Kay
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Nov 22 2006 15:36

it seems related to Zizek's point about the consumerist 'superego injunction to enjoy' as simply the liberal side of the coin. you've got conservative sexual repression ('protectionism') and a 'tolerant' liberal injunction to be sexual ('free trade') posed as opposites, when both deny the agency of the subject and as such are alienated forms of sexuality i guess.

Pepe
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Nov 22 2006 18:06
Anarchism and Sex wrote:
being sex-starved can seriously fuck you up mentally.... I’d guess that much of the world’s adult population is at least sexually malnourished or undernourished (which can lead to problems such as lack of self confidence, depression and other mental illnesses, alcoholism, drug addiction, suicide)

Can someone explain this to me?

I think the article picked an easy target, I mean I'm sure there are some feminists with moralistic views about sex but as far as I can tell they're dying out. I can't imagine many 3rd wave feminists organising against a stripclub. A far more objectionable position in both mainstream society and feminism at the moment is the pressure to be sexual. The attack on 'victorian puritanicalism' in the article seemed to imply there's something wrong with not feeling comfortable talking about sex etc., when its only a problem if the puritan considers this political and so enforces it on others, IYKWIM.

sorry Serge... embarrassed you're nowhere near as bad as Cosmo though

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Nov 23 2006 10:04
James Woolley wrote:
Interesting how the anarchist Andrea Dworkin protested against pornography and everything similar to it.

I've never heard she was an anarchist. As her trying to have it legally banned would imply.

Quote:
I don't see any implication in wanted to get rid of such clubs as thinking the women involved are 'bad', merely that they are exploited.

Again, that's a really patronising attitude. Like other people have said, why are they more exploited than say 2,000 women in a Chinese EPZ working 90 hours a week?

Have you read any stuff by sex workers james? I think you might find it illuminating. For example, on this thread this cropped up:

Quote:
The exhibition is patronising and offensive in its representation of sex workers and the sex industry. It gives the idea that sex workers are poor women victims (read: weak) of sexually aggressive men. And clearly, as too often, prostitution is only spoken about sex workers and not by sex workers.

No space is given to represent sex workers as working women, men, and transgender people who attempt to individually and collectively struggle to improve our lives, be freer, move across countries, and work in better conditions. No space is given to analyse how the exploitation and coercion that do exist in the sex industry are due not to evil men but to precise and changeable laws, regulations, and discourses, which produce the criminalisation of the industry, the impossibility for sex workers to work together, to unionise and organise, the impossibility for most people in the world to migrate in a legal way, the impossibility for many people, traditionally but not only women, to make good (read: 'highly skilled' and male) money in legal and regulated areas of the labour market.

- GMB

James Woolley
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Nov 23 2006 19:10
madashell wrote:
I don't see how lap dancing is any more demeaning or objectifying in itself than, say, cleaning public toilets or working as bar staff in some grotty dive.

I have a female friend who cleans toilets. She would prefer to do that than be a stripper. I asked this question to all my female friends (which pretty much constitutes of all my friends) and they all said they'd prefer cleaning toilets or whatever than objectifying themselves.

madashell wrote:
Taking your argument to its logical conclusion, any expression of male sexuality is inherently objectifying.

Um, no. The expression of male sexuality does not have to enforce stereotypical notions of women which forces them into grossly feminine and castrated forms. It does not have to mean they are objectified.

I can express this simply: men should love women for what they ARE, not what they WANT them to be: powerless, submissive objects. By 'men' I am not talking about all men. I can't say 'most' or the 'minority' because the amount men with patriarchal tendencies is hard to define.

James Woolley
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Nov 23 2006 19:21
John. wrote:
Quote:
I don't see any implication in wanted to get rid of such clubs as thinking the women involved are 'bad', merely that they are exploited.

Again, that's a really patronising attitude. Like other people have said, why are they more exploited than say 2,000 women in a Chinese EPZ working 90 hours a week?

I talking specifically in regards to the comparison of non-sexual labour in the west and the sex work in the west. My position is not patronising. We can see that this is a specifically patriarchal form of oppression by the fact that there are so many more female sex workers than male ones. There's the old excuse "it's natural" but I am sure many of you will recognise this as the old naturallistic fallacy put against anarchists saying that anarchism is against human nature, because it is in human nature to expoit people. I am sure I don't have to rebut this.

John. wrote:
Have you read any stuff by sex workers james? I think you might find it illuminating. For example, on this thread this cropped up:

Quote:
The exhibition is patronising and offensive in its representation of sex workers and the sex industry. It gives the idea that sex workers are poor women victims (read: weak) of sexually aggressive men. And clearly, as too often, prostitution is only spoken about sex workers and not by sex workers.

No space is given to represent sex workers as working women, men, and transgender people who attempt to individually and collectively struggle to improve our lives, be freer, move across countries, and work in better conditions. No space is given to analyse how the exploitation and coercion that do exist in the sex industry are due not to evil men but to precise and changeable laws, regulations, and discourses, which produce the criminalisation of the industry, the impossibility for sex workers to work together, to unionise and organise, the impossibility for most people in the world to migrate in a legal way, the impossibility for many people, traditionally but not only women, to make good (read: 'highly skilled' and male) money in legal and regulated areas of the labour market.

- GMB

I think we don't really know what the natual form of females really is until we rid ourselves of all patriarchal oppression. But there is plenty indication of what it may be like in viewing our current society.

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Nov 23 2006 19:29
James Woolley wrote:
I have a female friend who cleans toilets. She would prefer to do that than be a stripper. I asked this question to all my female friends (which pretty much constitutes of all my friends) and they all said they'd prefer cleaning toilets or whatever than objectifying themselves.

As convincing as an unverifiable straw poll of your mates is (wink), I was just trying to say that campaigning against a strip club opening or pornography misses the point. These things do not create patriarchy, at worst the forms they take under patriarchy reflect it. The act of dancing semi-naked for money is no more exploitative in itself than any other kind of wage labour.

That said, I wouldn't set foot in a strip club if you paid me, they're creepy beyond all reason.

dara
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Nov 23 2006 19:30

"patriarchal tendencies?"
hmmm.

yes, stripping reproduces objectification of women, but surely also that of men. i don't think sexual objectification can be simplified as something that [bad] men enforce upon women.
male sexuality is just as 'castrated' in a strip club as female sexuality.

strippers sell their labour, which is the concrete activity of their bodies, expenditure of muscles, nerves etc. the fact that they do it with less clothes on then most does not make them more oppressed.

James Woolley
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Nov 23 2006 21:43

I guess I had better look elsewhere for anarcha-feminists. *rolls eyes*

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Nov 23 2006 21:52
James Woolley wrote:
Interesting how the anarchist Andrea Dworkin protested against pornography and everything similar to it.

Dear god tell me that Dworkin doesn't call herself an anarchist. I mean I can handle the ketamine addled krusties with arse mushrooms but andrea dworkin is just to much.

Beyond that, woo go dara. (and john. and (gulp) revol).

James Woolley
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Nov 23 2006 21:58
georgestapleton wrote:
I mean I can handle the ketamine addled krusties with arse mushrooms

What is this supposed to mean?

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georgestapleton
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Nov 23 2006 21:59

hang on are you saying that we're not anarcha-feminists because we don't buy into your idea of what women's sexuality is?

I'm sorry but i know a hell of a lot of anarcha-feminists and i've never once heard any of them spout your dworkinite nonsense. (Perhaps some of them think it but every single one of them that I've talked to thought dworkin is an eegit).

I mean on the question of the fucked up nature of sex work you can't say that you need to 'go elsewhere'. One of the editors used to be a sex worker. See this

You being extremely presumptious.

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Nov 23 2006 22:00
James Woolley wrote:
georgestapleton wrote:
I mean I can handle the ketamine addled krusties with arse mushrooms

What is this supposed to mean?

It was a joke.

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Nov 23 2006 22:04

James, I'm not really sure what you mean by "anarcha-feminism" because what you're suggesting seems to me to be little different from unreconstituted early 80s Spare Rib type politics... which was anything but "anarcha".

As for your friends prefering to clean toilets, that is surely just your friends' opinion. Likewise, if you asked a group of sex workers the same question, the response would most likely be the complete opposite and it would also be their opinion and therefore no more, no less valid.

James Woolley
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Nov 23 2006 22:08
georgestapleton wrote:
See this

An interview with a guy who pretended he was a woman for a job?

EDIT: this does show how fucked up sex work is, but then can't depict the true nature of it.

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georgestapleton
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Nov 23 2006 22:26

Jesus, I'd almost think you were taking the piss.

Did you just write off someones experience of exploitation and alienation in the sex industry because that someone is 'male' or because he pretended to be a woman? Jack's explanation of what his experiences were are, according to you, not an explanation of 'the true nature' of jack's experiences were because.....
a)he's a bloke so what he says doesn't matter
b)he's a bloke and bloke's can't experience being treated as 'sexual objects'
c)he's not you and only you can tell him what the true nature of his experiences were
d)this undermines your neat 'poor innocent virginal women being exploited bad man-cocks' analysis.

I mean where do you get off saying that someones discription of their work in the sex industry doesn't depict the true nature of the sex-industry? Surely you see how unbelieveable arrogant that is?

Next are you going to tell me that all hetero sex under patriarchy is rape? Jesus. It'd make my head explode. wall