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'Anarchism and sex' article

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redtwister
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Nov 24 2006 17:29

Wow this is as bad as the discussion of racism. Can I site a few howlers?

Quote:
We all recognise that every working class person, male or female, is exploited. Some of us just don't think that there is a qualitative difference in the exploitation of sex workers in comparison to other workers.

In effect, this is arguing, and everyone here is arguing, that as long as women are engaged in wage-labor, there is no such thing as wage-labor which is specifically oppressive of or predicated primarily upon the oppression of women specific to capital. After all, if sex workers do not fall into that category, then what would?

There may indeed be oppression insofar as women are relegated to the majority of unwaged labor, but once one is on the labor market, it is a Garden of Eden of the rights of Man: equality, fraternity, freedom and Bentham...

And of course women are discriminated against in access to and pay within waged labor, which is sexist, but really since we are all exploited, why would women bother to complain about that? What's next, will I claim that this entails a form of male privilege to be able to get better jobs, not face a glass ceiling, to not face meaningful sexual harassment, to have a harder time becoming a manager or getting out of the working class except by marriage (i.e. Through the accepted escape clause of the bourgeois family)?

Quote:
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.

Really? I can get you a job rubbing your privates on strangers' bodies and letting them leer at you naked and occasionally touch you in whatever way you'll allow for money (are you stupid enough to believe that doesn't happen?) But back to the discussion sans male fantasies of being sex objects...

One issue is that strip bars only pretty much exist for men. It indicates a sexual difference, like that of prostitution, which male or female, is almost wholly for men. It is not necessarily more exploitative, but it is more oppressive because it is gendered and therefore exacerbates intra-class and cross-class divisions of exploitation and oppression by gender. In other workplaces, you have within reason the right to expect that you will not be leered at. Nor should you expect to be pressured into sex or being groped (very commonly allowed for a little extra money, so that it has the appearance of choice for the stripper) in other jobs. Your body remains under your control with reference to this. That is it does not remain under your control non-sexually is certainly one of the more degrading and destructive aspects of capital upon the body, one shared indeed by ALL workers.

So the role of sex workers in reproduction of labor power is largely that of reproducing male labor power, that is, a gendered labor power, with the promise/provision of pussy. Women are expected to be the compensation, but what compensation is given to women? It may not be more exploitative than other forms of labor women can get access to, but the fact that this is some of the best paying labor women can find ought to indicate something basically extra-fucked up about the condition of women in capitalist society.

I suspect most women would not prefer being strippers doing lap dances rather than cleaning toilets is not because of the money, but because going from a sex object in clothes who can maintain a certain minimum of control, they would be utterly naked in the face of creepy, predatory men, like all the worst guys from all the worst jobs you ever had, getting to see you naked, every night.

Does that mean we should demand the closing of strip clubs? No, we demand the abolition of capital, and that will entail the abolition of sex for money. Period. Attacking sex clubs makes about as much sense as attacking arms factories. The problem is not war or sex labor, it is capital which makes all human activity into alienated labor.

Unless someone wants to argue for the continuation of sex-for-money under communism... I have to admit, I expect that here.

Quote:
The point is that you are placing sex work in some sort of special category. I mean why do you think some women would rather be sex workers than labour in a factory, call centre or even relatively well paid office jobs? Maybe your happy to just put it down to them being indoctrinated in a special way that cleaners aren't. But i'd suggest that the first place to start in finding out would be to engage with those women working in the sex industry and by engage i don't mean patronisingly uncritically.

Quote:
I doubt if you spoke to women who choose to be strippers, porn actors, lap dancers etc and enjoy their work, and told them that they were victims of patriarchy and their job was degrading and so on, that you'd be particularly well-received.

The point is that some work is gendered, is specifically sexualized, and not merely housework. Sex work is specifically about the reproduction of male labor power and the family, whether it is done by strippers, prostitutes or housewives, waged or unwaged. Most women avoid being treated specifically as a sex object (unless you really believe the male fantasy that she dresses up to be raped, rather than the fact that women dress up to look good to themselves and in relation to other women, as much as it has anything directly to do with men.)

In fact, despite the enforced demand to “go have sex” and to be “sexually liberated” so you can be a sex consumer, prostitution is still overwhelmingly female and gay male, that is, it serves men. Porn is overwhelmingly oriented to men (the money shot is pretty much a male thing.)

And I know you don't want to engage patronisingly: cash in one hand, your dick in the other. Much appreciated guvn'r.

Of course, someone will argue that I am now patronizing sex workers by claiming that their work is not merely regular old wage labor, but sexually oppressive to boot. By that logic, I am a sexist, anti-working class jerk for claiming that women's unwaged labor in the home is specifically oppressive of women. Oh right, I forgot, only unwaged labor or unequal access to waged labor can be sexist. Waged labor itself is equal and democratic. So like Lenin and the 70's feminists said, get women out of the home and into the workplace, add in a little sexual liberation, and bang!

If you had any idea about how waged sex work reproduces the bourgeois family, as well as male labor power differentially from female labor power, you might have a clue. But you dont. You only see sexual labor from the point of view of 1) your consumption and 2) the subjective attitude of sex workers, and only the sex workers who like doing it, BTW, as I assume the ones who would get out in a New York minute if they could get better paying, stable work don't count with you lot.

And even if you could argue that most sex workers enjoy their work, at most all you can show is that you want me to respect wage labor, respect workers as workers. The respect of labor as such is reactionary bullshit, and you all fall into it exactly and only when it comes to sex work because of your moralizing view of sex and sexuality. I never hear any of you going on about “What about call center workers who love what they do? Who are you to tell them it is exploitation?” If I follow your “logic” then I have to respect the love of work of all kinds of workers. Hey, I know some folks who make military weapons and they LOVE their work. I know some cops, too. And some prison guards. Shouldn't you respect their work? I mean, how anti-worker are you people? Fucking trade unionists, and this is what it comes down to.

Quote:
I've no doubt that there are many women involved in pornography, prostitution and so on who are mistreated, would rather not be doing that particular job, who are even forced into it, but to apply that as a rule for everyone within the industry is pretty silly.

Silly is the ridiculous idea that “mistreatment” is what specifically makes sex labor particularly gendered, rather than because it reproduces male labor power as both specifically “male” and as “labor power” and the bourgeois family. I don't think being forced into it or unhappy with it has jack fucking squat to do with it.

Quote:
Equally the impact of some male attitudes isn't only felt by workers in the sex industry - having worked in retail and service I know this only too well, unfortunately some people are just sleazy - the fact of not being a sex worker doesn't make anyone immune from sexual objectification.

Wow, capitalist society as a whole is sexist, so there is no such thing as waged-labor that is specifically gendered. Brilliant logic, comrade. There are just some “sleazy people”. Jeezus, what kind of liberal, individualist psycho-babble is that?

Quote:
A feature of life is that everyone's experiences are different and subjective - while some people no doubt suffer great exploitation and oppression in the sex industry just as in any other industry, I also have no doubt that some people must love their work in it, just as in any other industry; after all, people are to an extent free to choose what job they do and sometimes they might even end up doing something they enjoy and want to do.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, jeezus what fucking liberal crap. “Everyone's experiences are different and subjective”? That's embarrassing. As if exploitation and oppression were about your personal perception of it? “I don't feel like the female apologist for the Libcom boys club.” “Some people must love their work in it, as in any other industry”, which last time I checked communists viewed as one of capital's psychological deformations of our class, as out and out reactionary.

James may be a bit woolly, but this is embarassing liberal bullshit.

As for women's political organizations and male participation, obviously men are responsible for fighting against sexism too, but that does not make women obliged to 1) wait for men to get their shit together, 2) allow men to join women's organizations or 3) reject the formation of women's organizations. And claiming that it is divisive is the same shit whites pull with blacks, natives with immigrants, etc. The oppressor always demands the right, claims the right, to be wherever he/she wants, whenever. Fuck that.

Sadly, you lot are less up to date on these matters than Brinton's The Irrational in Politics, not to mention Leopoldina Fortunati's dated and problematic Arcane of Reproduction.

The problem is no longer that sex is naughty, you turds. The problem is that commodified sexuality and the command “Be sexually free!” is just as pro-capitalist as the old prudery and just as neurotic. Promiscuity or prudery is a dichotomy for teenagers.

Chris

PS for Grace:

Quote:
Overall I think you're making far too many generalisations about women, and you're a weeeee bit offensive. And yes, I have a vagina.

Thank god you have a vagina, because now you are relieved of looking like liberal. Not. Talk about offensive.

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Joseph Kay
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Nov 24 2006 17:33
redtwister wrote:
The problem is no longer that sex is naughty, you turds. The problem is that commodified sexuality and the command “Be sexually free!” is just as pro-capitalist as the old prudery and just as neurotic. Promiscuity or prudery is a dichotomy for teenagers.

oi chris, i may be talking shit on the science thread but i said that on page 1:

Joseph K. wrote:
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.

cool

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madashell
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Nov 24 2006 17:52
redtwister wrote:
Does that mean we should demand the closing of strip clubs? No, we demand the abolition of capital, and that will entail the abolition of sex for money. Period. Attacking sex clubs makes about as much sense as attacking arms factories. The problem is not war or sex labor, it is capital which makes all human activity into alienated labor.

The funny thing is, this is pretty much what everybody you're railing against has said.

arf
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Nov 25 2006 23:28
james wooley wrote:
Interesting how the anarchist Andrea Dworkin protested against pornography and everything similar to it.

Dworkin wanted to make it illegal.

Dworkin didnt attempt to make pornography illegal. She attempted to introduce civil rights for people who were abused in or because of pornography. The whole ordinance is available online if you google for it.

john wrote:
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.

Liberal feminism views stripping and lapdancing as an empowering way to work out. It's the radical feminists who oppose "sex work", and it's worth noting that many radical feminists have been or are sex workers, including Andrea Dworkin, who worked as a prostitute.

serge forward wrote:
if you think women in this industry are exploited any more than women in other industries, then you are wrong.


Report: Stripclubs According to Strippers

Don't neglect to check the survey data on page two. Whilst sexual abuse and harassment sadly does exist in many (most?) work spaces, in this line of work it is accepted, even expected, and excused.

jess wrote:
I can't imagine many 3rd wave feminists organising against a stripclub.

quite. although the "3rd wave" isnt really a defined group in terms of politics, some are radicals, more are liberals. they're more defined by their age, and even then not quite. it's a very confusing label.

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:

Have you? That thread you link to is interesting - pro sex work people protesting the discussion of an exhibition about prostitution. They claim that sex workers themselves are not represented, but they are. One of the partners to the Women's Library for this exhibition is the Poppy Project, ffs. The problem here is the one repeated over and over again - the only voices within the sex industry which are allowed legitimacy are the ones who say they love it. The huge majority who fucking hate it are told they're anomalies or repressed or damaged or "macdworkinites" and told their voices don't count.

There have been studies done on prostitution all over the world and in every single one the great majority of prostitutes have said they would leave the work right now if they had the opportunity. The pro prostitution lobby is mostly made up by non prostitutes, were you aware of that? Research it, you'll find i'm not wrong.

georgestapleton wrote:
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).

Thats odd, because I also know a number of anarcha-feminists and Andrea Dworkins work is highly respected among them. Have your friends read her at all or do they just believe the propaganda spread about by the liberal left?

There's a lot of rubbish on this thread, right up until redtwister posted. He's right - theres a lot of liberal excuse making here. I don't believe those of you who have mentioned Dworkin have actually read anything by or about her. I'd be extremely surprised if any of you have had any experience whatsoever of working as or with "sex workers", tbh.

James Woolley
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Nov 26 2006 00:34
arf wrote:
There's a lot of rubbish on this thread, right up until redtwister posted. He's right - theres a lot of liberal excuse making here. I don't believe those of you who have mentioned Dworkin have actually read anything by or about her. I'd be extremely surprised if any of you have had any experience whatsoever of working as or with "sex workers", tbh.

Hello. I have read things by Andrea Dworkin, and somethings about her and her life, however, I only skim read some parts about her life and anti-pornography activism, and so this is how I came to the erroneous idea that she wanted to make pornography illegal.
I stand corrected.

Pepe
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Nov 26 2006 00:55
arf wrote:
Whilst sexual abuse and harassment sadly does exist in many (most?) work spaces, in this line of work it is accepted, even expected, and excused.

I don't doubt that's often the case, but surely thats just an argument for sex workers to organise themselves and improve their working conditions? I don't think there's really much disagreement on this thread - we all want to ultimately do away with sex work, we're just getting caught up into semantic s about whether its 'worse' than other forms of work. Even if it is, that shouldn't make a difference to how sex workers organise should it?

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Serge Forward
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Nov 26 2006 01:42
arf wrote:
I'd be extremely surprised if any of you have had any experience whatsoever of working as or with "sex workers", tbh.

Prepare to be surprised then. You'll find that at least one contributor on here has worked both with sex workers and as a sex worker on an off for a number of years. This however shouldn't make any real difference to the discussion but it does allow that person an insight. Clearly, it's not a black and white issue. The original article didn't deny that there are a fair few horror stories around the sex industry, but there are positive elements too. Yes, some workers may be super exploited in this line of work, while others are far less exploited than many people working outside the sex industry. So the point it was trying to make was, what is the reason for the blanket assumtion that anything to do with the sex industry is inherently bad other than moralism?

arf
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Nov 26 2006 02:19

You say it does allow that person an insight - yet here on this thread ive seen several of you sneering at Andrea Dworkin who also had a personal insight into what it was to be a prostitute, who devoted decades of her life to listening to and working with prostitutes. Her point of view isnt valid - why?

What "positive elements" are there around the sex industry? Are there enough of them to justify the violence suffered within it?

Why do you talk about moralism, whats the relevance? The problems with the sex industry have fuck all to do with moralism. It's about violence and exploitation. Men pay to rape and we legitimise it by calling it "sex work" and shrugging it off as one of the hazards of the job.

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Nov 26 2006 02:29
arf wrote:
What "positive elements" are there around the sex industry? Are there enough of them to justify the violence suffered within it?

What "positive elements" are there around sweatshops? Are there enough of them to justify the violence suffered within it?

(I'm trying to get at what your point is, arf)

And btw, someone having first-hand experience of something doesn't make them right. Some sex workers are probably fascists, for example.

You were the only person trying to score points by saying your detractors had no personal experience:

Quote:
I'd be extremely surprised if any of you have had any experience whatsoever of working as or with "sex workers", tbh.

This is not a constructive debating tactic.

lem
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Nov 26 2006 05:22
Quote:
waged sex work reproduces the bourgeois family, as well as male labor power differentially from female labor power

Yeah, you make a good case that female oppression is different to male, in that the opression works to differentiate groups. Now, I don't have an opinion on this at present, but is reproucing these differences in the working class movemnet a good thing?

I feel that I am part of a minority, but is creating a group from that and then sealing it from others a good thing? Why do alot of working class people seem to dislike illegal immigrants - I assumed that it was because they do not relate to them. Redtwister, what role do you think division has to play in a good understanding of whats going on today, I have read, as I have said elsewhere, that the idea of communism is based around that of a universal class. Is this not true?

I'm sorry if that sounds simple and I haven't read the thread, or your post with much care. I apologise, maybe I'll edit this in a bit.

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Nov 26 2006 05:28
John. wrote:
arf wrote:
What "positive elements" are there around the sex industry? Are there enough of them to justify the violence suffered within it?

What "positive elements" are there around sweatshops? Are there enough of them to justify the violence suffered within it?

(I'm trying to get at what your point is, arf)

And btw, someone having first-hand experience of something doesn't make them right. Some sex workers are probably fascists, for example.

You were the only person trying to score points by saying your detractors had no personal experience:

Quote:
I'd be extremely surprised if any of you have had any experience whatsoever of working as or with "sex workers", tbh.

This is not a constructive debating tactic.

Great posts from redtwister and arf - yay!! Shame this is the first chance I have had to enter the debate.. still, 0430 Sun am.. great time!!! smile

John,

I doubt if arf is a big fan of any exploitative or violent working conditions be it sweatshop or sex industry...I don't think he, james, redtwister etc have said they disagreed with the need to have a workers rev. in all industries.. a point jess makes when she (correctly in my POV) says there is very little disagreement in this regard on this thread..the only debate is if the sex industry offers a different and more pernicious form of oppression...

Peeps in general

I would make two points:

Whatever industry you are in, your position in the hierarchy will largely determine how pleasant/unpleasant your experience is.. For example if you are a Roux brother or Jean Christophe Novelli your experience of the catering industry is likely to be a tad different to if you are the lowliest grade at MCDonalds.. Similarly if you are at the top end of the sex industry as, say, a high-class prostitute your experience will be highly different to if you are at the bottom which DOES involve regularly being assaulted, raped etc..So, to some, extent, all industries are exploitative...just that the experience of this becomes less unpleasant and pervasive the higher up the food chain you are...So to that extent I agree with the majority of posters here..Oh.. but....

My other point (which is why I come out overall in agreement with redtwister, arf etc )is that it is, at the same time, MADNESS to assume that if your job/ work uniform CONSISTS WHOLLY of wearing perspex heels and not a lot else and being leered at and groped of COURSE this is a more powerful and pernicious experience than, say, working in a shop or burger bar. As RT rightly says, here your often frumpy uniform and the nature of the work mean there is a minimal autonomy over your private self...You are employed to provide a service - selling goods etc to increase profits.. this is not great but what it does NOT require is for you to be paid to be the scapegoat and whipping "boy" on a wholsale basis for the unresolved, frequently hostile and violent attitude and behaviour of those men in our society who are most damaged in their relationships to women..I mean, I know myself (and reported it on a thread) that sexual assault and even rape do go in "ordinary" workplaces but there is not the expectation as RT points out that this is acceptable and run-of-the-mill across the board... also it is difficult enough, if you want to press charges, to to be heard by the police and courts if you have been raped.. say you work in a strip club or as a prostitute and see just how far you get...So, in an ordinary job you will frequently be spoken down to by customers and management, treated as invisible etc but you have not been paid to be projected onto by the lowest echelons of maledom all day...

So taking both my points into view it is an anarcho-feminist perspective for me... cool

If you guys haven't looked at it, Section 2 of the data RT gives is highly illuminating...and as he says this more independent research is a tad more illuminating than the glossy face of the workers sex industry which will NOT represent the majority of sex workers, just the minority who have the chutzpah to speak out...and these people will NOT be those in the lowest echelons...

As Jack rightly points out in his interview, organising amongst, say, the sex text workers, will be difficult cos they are mostly single moms with limited energies, resources, etc.. Those in a better economic position will have some success I am sure (the glossy magazine peeps..) I DO know you guys are saying not to patronise sex workers etc..they can/should organise themselves etc.. but let us be realistic.. i consider it would be, in itself, patronising to expect workers who just do NOT have the resources, energies etc to do more than scrape by each day and survive if they are lucky(and i know what this is like..) to organise as well in next to impossible conditions...

There is no easy answer.. course we need the elimination of capital and patriarchy which is related aussi but we also need to look at the psyc. stuff as well as the economic/political...For example why are so many men so damaged and lame they can only engage sexually within the projected fantasy world of the sex industry..I do not refer to people on this thread but in IRL "sex workers" are always being criticised and rarely the johns whose demand causes the need for the supply...And the johns/pimps etc are the ones who do the damage... I mean someone said earlier in this thread (think it was dara..) that the sex industry demeans men also...this is true but the experience of the paying customer and paid for female "commodity" are hardly the same..and whilst rape also has a damaging effect on the psyche of the rapist, again, the effects are hardly the same...

The main thing i am annoyed about on here, tho is the notion that cos some women at times enjoy their sex work well that is ok then...ooh they are choosing this work from the great available choices AND they enjoy it... way to go!! I mean puh-lease.. roll eyes Firstly as I said in my first main point earlier, if you are at a low level in lifes economic hierarachy all the choices are pretty bad..the devil OR the deep blue sea.. great!! But also as RT says.. why this obsession if someone enjoys their sex work.. all peeps prob enjoy aspects of their jobs at times even in McD or possibly even a sweatshop... largely cos of worker camarderie of course, not cos of any favours from the bosses....Hmm so why is it particularly being cited here.. cos noone is saying that cos you can have a laugh at McD now and then it is all good working there etc...This enjoyment thing is a massive red herring and a massive distraction from the main objective ( sex/worker emancipation)..it is used to justify all kinds of horrors.. rapists use the "you know you wanted it/enjoyed it" argument to justify their actions..(and i am talking about rape so much on here cos it is so commonplace in the lower echelons of the sex industry btw) but also.. it is not unusual/impossible for both child and adult victims of sexual abuse/rape TO at some stage FEEL some degree of pleasure/arousal..but this DOES NOT mean the act of abuse was consensual OR justifiable...So we need to ignore this red herring. Immediately..If women sex workers enjoy some aspects of their work fine.. but this does NOT justfy the exploitative nature of the power/economic relationship tho it is used this way.. lets stop using this. Please.

Back to John for the final point...cool

Your point on first-hand experience is an interesting one and comes up on the boards quite a lot..I would say that experience doesn't make someone right - it gives them a perspective which, if cogently argued, can be illuminating and add vital qualitative data to the debate..There is always a need for a good mix of qualitative and quantitative data in any debate/research undertaking..
At the end of the day..(football cliche alert!) the goal is surely to pool our collective knowledge and experience to create a better insight/basis for political action..

Love

LW X

lem
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Nov 26 2006 05:36

Yeah, I guess what I'm getting at, is I feel that whatever communisation is, it is universal. What point do you have to believe that qualitiatively different groups (you say that male and female are qual differnt as labour, and seem unwilling to challenge that difference) are going to come together?

Anyway, I think that people should be able to challenge specific oppression they may have as a lower class person etc. But geneder specific groups get on my nerves smile Maybe its just some lame psychological flaw grin

(not that I wouldn't accept them if the consensus was they are good roll eyes )

lem
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Nov 26 2006 05:39

I mean, how do those who are pro women only groups, challenge the differences there are.

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Lone Wolf
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Nov 26 2006 05:59

Nah I don't nec. believe in gender specific groups... the exception being therapy groups for women who have experienced gender-specific violence.. but that is not what you mean right?? You mean as a political group.. then no, I am not into gender groups on the whole...

On the contrary, one of the main areas I am interested in is working with men and challenging them/working with them on some of this sexist shit...

For example one of the clients i had was a serial rapist and part-time gangster - he had been involved in several gangland shootings..he appeared to not be able to tell the difference between consensual sex/rape but he WAS aware of this deep down - he was just deeply defended from looking at it..I got as far as encouraging him to admit that yes, some of these encounters WERE rapes and WOULD on some level have caused damage to his psyche and of course the victims, but yeah.. it was tough...AFAIK I am the only person he has felt able to tell apart from his gangland buddies/victims... ah it was a start...From small acorns etc... BTW ( and I am about to boast now big time...just to warn ya.. tongue ) his daughter was also a therapy client (and yes all this WAS a bit Sopranos/Analyse This...)and her stepbrother/bf threatened to shoot me if I didn't stop seeing my client (obv. threatened about what would be revealed in the sessions..) I said to him.. !!"NOONE dictates to me the clients I see or don't see!" OK, it was prob. an empty threat but I am still pleased at how cool I was... My anger at my professionalism being derailed in this way was far far greater than my fear.. cool

Yeah in general as I intimated earlier about experience it is a good idea to get as broad an experience and knowledge base as possible in order to share with others...kinda good idea to avoid being killed if poss tho.. grin

Love
LW X

lem
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Nov 26 2006 06:22

Yeah, groups that weren't geneder specific in that sort of situation would be rediculous. I wouldn't have thought that victims of domestic violence etc. are about to turn round and demand socialization, anyway.

lem
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Nov 26 2006 06:37

Imho, you should be able to argue for e.g. the necessity of patient involvemnet in psychiatry (roll eyes (I was feeling a little shat upon for a while. Dodged the doctors for a few weeks, so couldn't say at the moment)) etc. while not arguing for women only groups , by acknowldeging that women face different oppressions, but not necessarily gender specific oppression. I think the two could be thought of as different.

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Serge Forward
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Nov 26 2006 12:16
arf wrote:
You say it does allow that person an insight - yet here on this thread ive seen several of you sneering at Andrea Dworkin who also had a personal insight into what it was to be a prostitute, who devoted decades of her life to listening to and working with prostitutes. Her point of view isnt valid - why?

What "positive elements" are there around the sex industry? Are there enough of them to justify the violence suffered within it?

Why do you talk about moralism, whats the relevance? The problems with the sex industry have fuck all to do with moralism. It's about violence and exploitation. Men pay to rape and we legitimise it by calling it "sex work" and shrugging it off as one of the hazards of the job.

Arf, I've said nowt about Dworkin. I'd guess that those who are "sneering" at her, have read her stuff, but probably don't agree with her.

Some positive elements from the sex industry: good money, a lot of independence, sometimes a degree of empowerment, the possibility to work as and when it suits, no boss to give you shite, very good personal friends. Sure, as I said earlier, there are many horror stories from the sex industry and I'm not at all trying to paint it as a wonderful place to be, but your assumptions that there is nothing good is a massive over-simplification. You talk about violence? I once witnessed someone being almost cut in half when I was a young factory worker. That would be possibly a more honourable way to be maimed or killed, would it?

Equating sex work as a something where "men pay to rape" is an appalling thing to say which really belittles the experience of rape by many women. If this isn't moralism, then I don't know what is. Yes, for many who work in the sex industry, in some parts of the world more than others, it is pure violence and exploitation (including men paying to rape). But where sex workers have more control over their working lives, part of this control being the ability to organise, then you'll find a very different story.

Of course, the bog-standard critique from certain (not all) feminists is far more interested in victims, defiled women and evil men, and basically doing a little missionary work. In other words, more moralism. Anyone who tries to improve their lot within the sex industry is in some way irrelevant, colluding with their oppressors, duped, needs their consciousness raising, etc, etc.

James Woolley
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Nov 26 2006 12:24
Serge Forward wrote:
... sometimes a degree of empowerment...

The only way I can envisage any person feeling some semblance of empowerment were if they had become entirely desensitised to what they were actually doing.

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Steven.
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Nov 26 2006 12:29
Lone Wolf wrote:
The main thing i am annoyed about on here, tho is the notion that cos some women at times enjoy their sex work well that is ok then...
all peeps prob enjoy aspects of their jobs at times even in McD or possibly even a sweatshop...

I think some people have taken too much from this, like redtwister. People only mentioned that to demonstrate that yes it is like work at McDonalds or a sweatshop, like all wage labour.

But basically I think this has turned into one of those arguments where there's not much actual disagreement, but regardless some people start getting aggressive (redtwister, for example...)

Are there any concrete disagreements?
- Do we all want the abolition of all wage labour (including sex work)? I'd think yes
- would we all support the struggles of sex workers for better wages and conditions? again I'd think yes
- do any of us think it's worthwhile to campaign against pornography, strip clubs or prostitution? I think not, I don't know if james or redtwister would, but I'd think probably not.

The only concrete disagreement I had here was with James saying feminism was only an issue for women.

Grace
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Nov 26 2006 12:49
Lone Wolf wrote:
The main thing i am annoyed about on here, tho is the notion that cos some women at times enjoy their sex work well that is ok then...ooh they are choosing this work from the great available choices AND they enjoy it... way to go!! I mean puh-lease.. roll eyes

Whether or not you're referring to my post, that's not what I meant by it at least... I don't think the sex industry is ok at all, in fact I find the idea of the majority of what's involved in it quite sickening (prude alert). What my point was is that painting a picture of every sex worker being a victim is not the right way to go about things; while this is almost certainly the case in the eyes of those of us who think the industry as a whole is damaging to the way women are seen in society and to the attitudes that some men develop as a result of it, as you rightly say there is something of a 'sliding scale' within every industry and no doubt some sex workers feel happy with their work, just as a large number no doubt feel degraded and miserable.

My point wasn't that the fact of some people being happy in the industry somehow justifies the suffering of others, but that the idea of being a victim in terms of sexual assault, oppression etc., is not necessarily a common experience to everyone within the industry in the way that being exploited as a worker is.

Something I'd like explained to me (not because I disagree necessarily but because I don't understand what people mean by it) is how sex work is about reproducing the family... I mean I've never been in a strip club or visited a prostitute but I can't imagine it being anything like the family I grew up in... am I just more sheltered than I thought or am I missing the point?

Grace
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Nov 26 2006 12:50
John. wrote:
Lone Wolf wrote:
The main thing i am annoyed about on here, tho is the notion that cos some women at times enjoy their sex work well that is ok then...
all peeps prob enjoy aspects of their jobs at times even in McD or possibly even a sweatshop...

I think some people have taken too much from this, like redtwister. People only mentioned that to demonstrate that yes it is like work at McDonalds or a sweatshop, like all wage labour.

But basically I think this has turned into one of those arguments where there's not much actual disagreement, but regardless some people start getting aggressive (redtwister, for example...)

Are there any concrete disagreements?
- Do we all want the abolition of all wage labour (including sex work)? I'd think yes
- would we all support the struggles of sex workers for better wages and conditions? again I'd think yes
- do any of us think it's worthwhile to campaign against pornography, strip clubs or prostitution? I think not, I don't know if james or redtwister would, but I'd think probably not.

The only concrete disagreement I had here was with James saying feminism was only an issue for women.

Nail. Head.

James Woolley
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Nov 26 2006 12:56
John. wrote:
The only concrete disagreement I had here was with James saying feminism was only an issue for women.

The reason I think this is because I feel feminist activism has to be women-only because I think it is important to develop female autonomy. I am by no means a separatist (not that you suggested this).

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Joseph Kay
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Nov 26 2006 12:59
James Woolley wrote:
female autonomy

can you elaborate on what you mean by that? i can read it several ways and don't want to start arguing at crossed-purposes wink

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Serge Forward
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Nov 26 2006 13:21

Just thought I'd underline an extra but fairly obvious point. When people refer to the "sex industry" this in itself can be problematic, because the assumption is sometimes made, that we're talking about a monolithic entity. The sex industry is far from this. Conditions, practices, working relations and people's motives for working in any area of this industry are myriad and basically are as diverse as labour conditions in the rest of work and employment under capitalism. It's all too easy to make generalisations based on what we personally might think the sex industry is, or judgements based on ideological or moral standpoints. The starting point should reflect the diverse realities of people involved in those industries rather than, "I this is wrong" or "I think it's okay".

James Woolley
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Nov 26 2006 14:05
Joseph K. wrote:
James Woolley wrote:
female autonomy

can you elaborate on what you mean by that? i can read it several ways and don't want to start arguing at crossed-purposes ;)

By female autonomy I mean female self-sufficiency and independence. What else could it have meant?

arf
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Nov 26 2006 14:17
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Equating sex work as a something where "men pay to rape" is an appalling thing to say which really belittles the experience of rape by many women.

No, it doesn't. First, there is no such thing as "real rape", or grades of rape. Whether a woman has been beaten and raped by a stranger, raped whilst drunk by a friend, raped by her partner or ex partner, or raped whilst working in the sex industry, it's all still rape. The idea that there is one true "real rape" and that the victims of it are belittled by other, different experiences of rape is rubbish, and one that really needs to die before anyone can even begin to discuss unionisation of sex workers, etc.

Second.

More than 4000 women are traffiked into the UK every year, and raped by 5, 10, even 20 men, every single day. Do you believe these men don't know the women are held against their will? There are sites built by men who use prostitutes, where reviews of brothels and individual prostitutes are posted. Take a look. These men know when a woman is traffiked, some of them may not go back to the same brothel, but they dont ask for their money back and leave, and they dont report that there are traffiked women there. They pay their money, they rape the women, and they leave the women there to be raped by other men. An example of men, lots of them, paying to rape.

Everyone knows there is a rule of no touching with lapdancers and strippers. Still, men shove fingers and other objects in the vaginas and anuses of these women - that's rape. Another example of men paying to rape women.

Women who appear in pornography, even those who are positive about it, talk about how being forced to do things they don't want to are a hazard of the job. That's rape. And that is rape that men pay to watch. Maybe there is some small minority of men who scour the porn video shelf for "consensual ethical porn", but thats not what sells, and for all the talk about it I've still never seen an example. What sells is "hot asian sluts get their asses reamed by two cocks at once". Anyone checking for consent forms? I don't think so. An example of men paying to watch other men rape women, because they think, as long as it's not them doing the raping, it isnt their responsibility, noone can do them for it. Just like they aren't responsible for the traffiked women in the brothel, just like they aren't responsible for the lapdancers who chose the profession, it's all just a hazard of the job.

So. Of course I'm not saying all men are rapists. Of course I'm not saying that all women within the sex industry are raped. BUT. It is a fact that many, many, men, thousands and thousands of them in this country, pay to rape, and pay to watch rape. But they don't see it as rape because they paid for it, it's like they take none of the responsibility for it because they are a paying consumer - so, they think, it's not as if it is real rape. All the responsibility, all the blame, belongs to the woman (who should know what she is getting into, and accept it or leave the job) or the person (usually a man but sometimes not) who sells the women in the first place.

I am not against sex workers organising to make their lives safer and their conditions better. But I don't think it is possible for them to really do that much whilst rape is an expected and accepted job hazard, whilst these stupid ideas about "real rape" exist, and whilst the male consumer, call him a punter or a john or whatever you like, whilst he takes no responsibility whatsoever for the rapes that he does or that he pays to watch.

I agree with Lone Wolf (I think it was them) above - the emphasis in these discussions is always on the women, even whilst they are hidden under the misleading label of "sex worker". When do we start to watch the johns? The "sex consumers", those men who pay to rape and tell themselves it's not rape because they paid for it?

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Steven.
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Nov 26 2006 14:27

Arf, men appear in pornography, they are paid to fuck on camera and do what they're told. Are they "raped" as well? The way you're talking it sounds like you're talking about sex as something a man does to a woman. Presumably that's not what you think?

Also you keep saying things like "It is a fact that many, many, men, thousands and thousands of them in this country, pay to rape, and pay to watch rape." Why are you ignoring the (tens/hundreds of) thousands of women who according to your logic pay to watch rape (by buying pornography)? Why do you keep saying repeating that it's just "men" who are bad, and seemingly women are just victims?

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Joseph Kay
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Nov 26 2006 14:32
James Woolley wrote:
By female autonomy I mean female self-sufficiency and independence. What else could it have meant?

well just that, but that's plural and ambiguous, to me at least. i see the following problems;

- it assumes there is a delineable group called 'female' with a common interest
- yet self-sufficiency and independence in any meaningful sense requires the end of alienated social relations, i.e. control of productive activity and it's products
- thus your statement simultaneously implies a cross-class 'female' autonomy and an autonomous (self-abolishing) working class (broadly understood), a contradiction that could only be reconciled with the abolition of capitalism, a process that presumably requires the participation of men.

I mean the womens' emancipation should be immanent to anarchist/communist politics, and in real struggles gender roles and binaries are often overcome as 'from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs' becomes the praxiological axiom (eughh sorry embarrassed ). however despite anarchism/communism's failings, i think struggles against patriarchy neccessarily involve men because it is gender roles we are seeking to abolish, me having a dick in patriarchy does not give me the equivalent power and class interest as having a factory in capitalism does, anti-patriarchy isn't just for women because men's roles are also prescribed by it, something which attacks mens autonomy too even when there is notional privelege, imho.

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Serge Forward
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Nov 26 2006 14:52

Arf, I would never use a term like "real rape" so I don't know why you suggest that this is what I am implying. You will also notice that I do not deny the fact that many sex workers are raped either. I do however think that the kind of reductionist argument which says that anything associated with the sex industry is de facto rape, is utter nonsense which has no basis in reality.

John makes a good point about women who view pornography, - and we really are talking many many thousands of women in this country alone. Are they all rapists too? Are men involved in porn also rapists?

Maybe this is for a different thread, but I'd like to ask what people think. Does anyone here believe that pornography would cease to exist in anarcho-communist society?

arf
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Nov 26 2006 15:07
John. wrote:
The way you're talking it sounds like you're talking about sex as something a man does to a woman.

No. I'm talking about rape as something that is an expected and accepted part of the sex industry, that goes mostly unquestioned, that "sex consumers" take no responsibility for, and that it will be impossible for sex workers to organise whilst rape is viewed as a job hazard and less real than rape that occurs outside the sex industry.

I know that some people want to draw comparisons between the relationship between sweatshop workers and the consumers of the ultimate product they create, and the relationship between the sex worker and the sex consumer. But is not a comparable relationship, perhaps it is more similar in pornography, but it is not in face to face sex work. When a man sticks his fingers in a stripping woman or pays to have sex with a traffiked woman, thats not a comparable relationship, he is commiting the rape and the exploitation of that woman himself, with his own hands. There is no excuse of countries and middle men.

I think if you're going to discuss sex work, or rape, you need to be very clear and honest about the people involved. The great majority of the "workers", and the majority of the people raped, in and out of sex work, are women. The great majority of people who use sex workers, or who rape, in and out of the sex industry, are men. That doesn't mean that there are no men that are victimised by rape, and no male sex workers, and no female pimps or rapists. But the fact that sex work and rape are gendered issues cannot be disguised and should not be ignored. These are generalities that have to be taken into account, individual anecdotes and examples cannot be seen as more important than the whole.