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Statement on review of Meghan Murphy petitions

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Editor’s note: This article is one part of rabble.ca’s coverage of calls to remove Meghan Murphy’s writing from the site, and a subsequent call for rabble.ca to continue to publish her. If you’re following the story, you can read the petition against Meghan Murphy HERE. You can read the petition in support of her HERE. You can read the open letter in support of Meghan HERErabble.ca’s initial statement on the calls to remove her HERE. You can read Antonia Zerbisias’ opinion of the situation HERE. You can find the article that sparked these actions not on rabble, but at HERE at Feminist CurrentWhile we have closed comments on this blog post, you can join the discussion HERE at babble.

Statement on review of Meghan Murphy petitions

rabble.ca has been consulting with a number of writers and advocates in response to allegations of racism, sexism, and transphobia in a piece by Meghan Murphy published on her own blog, Feminist Current. Although Murphy is a blogger at rabble, the article was not published at rabble.ca.

Through the consultations, it has become clear that the allegations were rooted in Murphy’s views on the sex industry and sex work, a topic which, by its very nature, often finds itself at the intersection of race, trans rights, and feminism.  We appreciate the feedback and responses we have had.

rabble.ca recognizes that in real life, sex workers are put at risk daily under Canada’s current legislation, and that those most at risk are disproportionately trans people, Indigenous people, and people of colour. We are aware of the importance of recognizing the intersectionality and other complexities involved in providing progressive coverage of sex work.

rabble.ca has been urged to take an anti-criminalization position in any discussion of the sex industry and sex work. We are concerned that if our site takes a position on policies around sex work, it would silence those who disagree.  

In the case of sex work, there is a general consensus among all positions that safety is paramount. Broadly speaking, sex worker advocates believe that to achieve this, decriminalization is required.  Prohibitionists/abolitionists believe that the way to keep sex workers safe is to abolish the sex industry. Since the Supreme Court of Canada ruling on sex work, there has been a great deal of discussion of the resulting legislation by the federal government. rabble.ca has been a space for these discussions to happen, and we believe that it needs to remain.

This approach is consistent with rabble’s coverage of movements that work for social justice. We have not taken editorial positions on the best way to achieve those goals. There are arguments within all social movements about what method will achieve the most equitable, just, inclusive and effective result. Those arguments can split any group of heartfelt activists. rabble.ca is not willing to silence the discussion by taking a position in this argument. We will continue to strive to present a range of viewpoints, and as always, hope that contributors will provide their analyses and expertise to help ensure that they are not unrepresented in the media.

After examining the links provided in the petition against Murphy’s work with rabble.ca, we found that the petition did not incorporate the full extent of Murphy’s analysis of the sex work industry. Murphy's analysis is often characterized as coming from a radical feminist perspective, and uses very strong language. In our opinion, her writing is not transphobic or racist although some readers criticize it for not taking a sufficiently intersectional stance. rabble.ca will not remove her past writing or bar future work from the site. However, at the same time we are planning to make changes to our style guide related to language around sex work and other issues on the site.

We will continue to invite sex worker rights organizations and individual advocates to contribute to the site and present varied viewpoints on the sex industry.

While some writers may choose to stop contributing to rabble.ca unless we take a position on one side or the other on this issue, rabble.ca wants to be clear to those writers that the door is always open. Your perspectives on equality rights, anti-racism, indigenous rights, sex work, anti-poverty analysis, and feminism have been featured prominently on the site and we hope to publish more of them.

rabble.ca consistently covers these issues, publishing the work of activists writing from their commitment and their expertise while the mainstream media ignores them.

It is each person’s right to decide where to put their efforts, and it is our hope that the contributors who are considering a boycott will recognize value in the extensive constellation of progressive discussions that are published at rabble.ca, and choose to participate. If those writers don’t feel able to contribute right now because of this decision, please consider contributing in the future.

While we have closed comments on this blog post, you can join the discussion HERE at babble.

For readers seeking coverage on trans issues, race issues and feminist issues, you can find it on our LGBTIQ issues page, and our anti-racism issues page, and our feminism issues page.

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