divide and conquer strategy is working

105 posts / 0 new
Last post
Loretta
divide and conquer strategy is working

__

Loretta

I couldn't imagine a better strategy by those whose interests are served by full decriminalization of prostitution than the one being employed on this board. It's an ages old method to reduce one's opposition -- that of divide and conquer. The way I see it, we are being manipulated by someone who represents an industry. Why are we allowing this to happen? Who benefits when the feminist community is riven with conflict over this issue rather than united in solidarity by the risk to the welfare of women it represents?

Kaspar Hauser

Loretta, are you accusing Susan of manipulating the feminists on this board? Are you also asserting that Susan, as a representative of the sex trade industry, is therefore not a feminist?

If I'm misreading your post, please let me know.

If I'm not misreading your post, then it seems to me that what you are doing is trying to impose a uniformity on feminist thought regarding sex work, asserting that this uniformity is aligned with your own position on the matter, and maligning those who disagree with you (such as Susan) as not only being outside the feminist community, but being, by virtue of their disagreement with you, a threat to that community. 

The question has to be asked: Who benefits when, instead of recognizing the diversity of feminist positions on the issue of sex work, a group of self-identified feminists attempt to exclude another group of self-identified feminists from the feminist community because they are unapologetic sex workers?

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Can you be a labour activist and be anti-union? Just wondering.

Kaspar Hauser

Frustrated Mess: I think that begs the question.

I would hazard a guess that a labour activist is someone who supports the right of labour to organize in order to promote and defend the interests of labour.  That seems to require a commitment to unions in some form or another. Now, that's not to say that every labour activist will agree on a single definition of the interests of labour, or how to go about advancing those interests in an organized fashion. Furthermore, a labour activist could condemn features of the union movement in particular times and places...such as mob infiltration, collusion with managerial elites, etc. A labour activist could very well condemn certain unions and certain practices of unions and remain a labour activist.

At the risk of putting my foot in my mouth, I would hazard a guess that a feminist is someone who, by definition, supports organized action to promote and defend the rights of women. What exactly those rights are, however, and how to go about organizing to promote and defend them, seem to me to be up for debate among feminists.

The problem, as I see it, is that there's a temptation to foreclose debate by imposing a premature uniformity upon the feminist movement. A labour parallel might be the attempt in early 20th Century to impose a definition of labour activism that explicitly excluded Communism from the American labour movement.

This is not to say that a strong case can't be made against decriminalization; indeed, I think a number of strong arguments have been made to that effect. However, I have not seen any argument that would justify excluding the proponents of decriminalization from the feminist community.

Beyond all this, however, I am concerned that Susan is, apparently, being accused of attempting to "divide and conquer" the feminist community on Babble on behalf of the sex trade industry, and that she is being defined in such a way that places her outside the feminist community. This strikes me as being unfair.  

Unionist

Sounds about right to me, Michael - both on labour and on feminism.

 

Kaspar Hauser

Good God, Unionist is agreeing with me on something. Surprised

Loretta

Michael Nenonen wrote:

Loretta, are you accusing Susan of manipulating the feminists on this board? Are you also asserting that Susan, as a representative of the sex trade industry, is therefore not a feminist?

I am questioning that, really, based on some things she has said, aside from particulars on sex workers.

Michael Nenonen wrote:

The question has to be asked: Who benefits when, instead of recognizing the diversity of feminist positions on the issue of sex work, a group of self-identified feminists attempt to exclude another group of self-identified feminists from the feminist community because they are unapologetic sex workers?

I started out on this issue by being open to full decriminalization. In listening to the evidence presented either way, I have found myself adopting a different position and find myself wondering, what if? Just because someone claims to be a feminist, does that mean they are? What happens when someone's actions (based on what is being presented here, which is all we have to go on) don't seem consistent with their words? For example, as was cited in another thread, how many feminists here would stand up in support of women in the Canadian Forces?

I do wonder if it is feminist to stand up in support of a diminishing of human rights for women, which is how I see this issue. If that makes me not accepting of diversity and less a feminist, I guess it does. I doubt I'm alone in wondering that, though.

Unionist

Michael Nenonen wrote:
Good God, Unionist is agreeing with me on something. Surprised

 

We are holding Unionist in a secure place. We have succeeded so far in extracting only his login and password on a site known as babble. We hope, by judicious posting, to make amends for his erstwhile extremist agitation on this discussion board. Efforts to locate him and effect his release will be futile, although we note with some regret that there have been no enquiries to date.

 

Kaspar Hauser

Loretta: You're certainly not alone in seeing this as a human rights issue, and you're clearly entitled to advance the argument that decriminalization would have a negative impact on human rights in general and on women's rights in particular. I believe that you are also entitled to make the argument that feminism should not endorse sex work in any form. Certainly, this position has a long and respected place in feminist thought. The point has to be made, however, that the opposite position also has a long and respected place in feminist thought.

There is a difference between arguing that feminism should not endorse sex work and arguing that anyone who does endorse sex work is not a feminist. Feminism, like any other movement, is contested territory, with a multitude of voices engaged in ongoing negotiation and competition to define the movement. I think that, in such circumstances, a certain degree of mutual respect is advisable between the sides of the debate. Rather than a divide and conquer strategy orchestrated from outside the feminist movement, this strikes me as being something of an ongoing dialectic within the feminist movement. I think that both sides could profit from this dialectic, and that the continuing struggle could strengthen feminism as a whole.

ennir

Loretta wrote:

I couldn't imagine a better strategy by those whose interests are served by full decriminalization of prostitution than the one being employed on this board. It's an ages old method to reduce one's opposition -- that of divide and conquer. The way I see it, we are being manipulated by someone who represents an industry. Why are we allowing this to happen? Who benefits when the feminist community is riven with conflict over this issue rather than united in solidarity by the risk to the welfare of women it represents?

I know there are women who are victimized and that  for many of them that victimization began at an early age, I have worked with some of them and my formerly drug addicted sister has let enough things drop that I am fairly sure she has ventured into sex work.  I know she was there because of the drugs.   I have also known young women who chose a Hollywood lifestyle funded by sex work and on these threads we are hearing from intelligent and articulate women who are telling us that they are choosing this lifestyle,

I don't have a problem believing that all of these are true but from your posts it seems to me that you have a fixed view of feminism which does not include the possiblity that women can and do choose this voluntarily.  This is where the divide is.

"united in solidarity by the risk to the welfare of women it represents"  How do you reconcile this with being told by women who are sex workers that your plans will put them further at risk?

 

Lee Lakeman

Ennir I tried to answer some of your question in a post now locked: 

How do you reconcile this with being told by women who are sex workers that your plans will put them further at risk?  I think in this set of threads you will find that on the whole the argument is being made by the women who choose prostitution that the women who do not choose it will be safer.  Whereas my impression from the women who do not choose it including those who call me, and some of those with whom I have been working on this and whom I have recorded say that they believe that decriminalization endangers them and will place more women in danger. We all agree that the most at risk are the migrant women the aboriginal women especially those migrating from poor reserves and without supports in the city and children entering prostitution too young for consent and often abused

There are two reasons to focus on these most disadvantaged: one is compassionate and one is strategic.  If we fight for all with the criteria that we try to satisfy the needs of the most dispossessed we are more likley to get the best most effective tactics and the most principled as well.  In this situation the plight of women, the migrant, ghettoized, racialized, colonized and the young of those prostituted should guide us in our search for the reforms that will best suit women as a whole.  The desires of those prostituted who are not in those conditions matter to me but are are simply not as weighty in my political discussion of which reforms to demand

Loretta

ennir wrote:

"united in solidarity by the risk to the welfare of women it represents"  How do you reconcile this with being told by women who are sex workers that your plans will put them further at risk?

My plans for what? Decriminalizing their present situation? I do not accept, based on what I've read here, that it would increase their risk compared to their proposal for full decriminalization without regulation.

Some women who are sex workers have made the statement that the status quo is not acceptable (agreed) and some have said that they want full decriminalization. Some have also said that they want little or no interference from outside their community, despite the fact that their actions affect everyone, since we live in the larger community. Some have said that they don't support this move and they prefer that the workers are decriminalized while all others (customers, bosses, etc) continue to have their actions fall within the Criminal Code. There is a mix of opinions, for sure, so I don't believe that the voices of the workers here are necessarily representative.

 

 

ennir

Thank you for your answer Lee Lakeman.

And Loretta you say, "I don't believe that the voices of the workers here are necessarily representative".  Which voices, the ones that agree with you or the ones that don't?  And once again you reinforce that you decide who has credibility, I suppose that is your perogative but to my way of thinking it makes for a narrow playing field and it is disrespectful of their voices.

I don't see women as victims, I see women as having abdicated responsibility and what I find frustrating is the reinforcement of victimization as a defining statement for feminism.  I see women as immensely powerful beings capable and feel that every woman should consider herself blessed to have been born one.

fortunate

Lee Lakeman wrote:

Ennir I tried to answer some of your question in a post now locked: 

How do you reconcile this with being told by women who are sex workers that your plans will put them further at risk?  I think in this set of threads you will find that on the whole the argument is being made by the women who choose prostitution that the women who do not choose it will be safer.  Whereas my impression from the women who do not choose it including those who call me, and some of those with whom I have been working on this and whom I have recorded say that they believe that decriminalization endangers them and will place more women in danger. We all agree that the most at risk are the migrant women the aboriginal women especially those migrating from poor reserves and without supports in the city and children entering prostitution too young for consent and often abused

There are two reasons to focus on these most disadvantaged: one is compassionate and one is strategic.  If we fight for all with the criteria that we try to satisfy the needs of the most dispossessed we are more likley to get the best most effective tactics and the most principled as well.  In this situation the plight of women, the migrant, ghettoized, racialized, colonized and the young of those prostituted should guide us in our search for the reforms that will best suit women as a whole.  The desires of those prostituted who are not in those conditions matter to me but are are simply not as weighty in my political discussion of which reforms to demand

Your concerns for these specific people and children is addressed elsewhere, because certain things are already against the law including the fact that prostitution has a minimum age requirement.  Also, there are other unrelated laws related to trafficking, kidnapping, assault, and a host of other issues mentioned to protect women and children from all sorts of things, including incest, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and so on, none of which have anything to do with prostitution.  I believe that some want to blame prostitution and make it the problem.  In and of itself, it is not the problem.  A minority of people who choose to do this work come to it with problems, quite often drug problems.  Nothing will earn someone quick money in sufficient quantity to pay for drugs.

But.......the drugs came first.

Deal with the drugs, deal with the mental health issues, deal with the children, by all means, deal with these.  Not one adult sex industry worker has said any of these things are okay.  The majority of sex workers do choose this occupation for the same reasons any other worker chooses what they do.

For example, what is the general opinion amongst you regarding safe injection sites?   Good thing or bad thing?   Do you believe these places enable and encourage drug users to continue to use drugs, or do you think that they offer a safe and healthy alternative to back alleys and shooting galleries?   Or....do you think these places welcome the addict, and encourage them to get to know the people who are there, potentially to help them?   Which scenario do you believe will have the best results, if the results that you actually want is that there are fewer dead drug addicts in Vancouver?

Shut everything down and you will see the same things that happened in Sweden: there is still prostitution OF COURSE, but it is driven underground, indoors where the workers do not feel safe, they work in other countries -- increasing the "trafficking" figures in the Netherlands for example, street workers who are still there (no kidding) are driven to remote areas and complain that the "nice" clients stay away and leave them only with the aggressive ones who make their work unsafe.  The problems you see today in prostitution at the street level is a direct result of the solicitation, bawdy house, and living off the avails laws because these laws are recent, have been in place for a little over 20 years, and the results of them are seen daily.   If you can provide me with statistics from before the laws were in place and compare them to today and prove to me that things were better after the laws came into play, then ok.  But, curiously enough, there are still pimps, were even more of them in the mid 80s and 90s weren't there?   There has been an alarming number of missing or assaulted street workers, since closing down some of the indoor venues (The Penthouse, for example) where they used to be able to hang out and work out of  -- kicked out for public solicitation, of course.  Pimps are a necessary form of protection for street workers, and they would not be necessary if people stopped trying to abolish the unabolishable (sic) and helped susi in her attempts to deal with the reality which is to help provide a safer place to work.  This is impossible with the laws against bawdy houses, and the laws against public solicitation and laws against living off the avails.  Because if you stop and remove the rhetoric of decrim is only helping johns and pimps, you are left only with the fact that it helps the workers themselves (the "owners").

If we, the ones who have to work around these laws every day, say they are detrimental to our safety and wellbeing, that they do more harm then good, then why are our opinions so readily dismissed?

 

Lee Lakeman

My mistake, I thought there was a genuine question there.  I have answered all the points in the last two posts many times over and so have many others.  I am not interested in head bashing.  I will post information and analysis when I think it might be useful to someone. And I will continue to monitor for misuse of our anti-violence feminist politics, positions and those of our allies.

For those interested I say there is a great speech by a weird guy with a great mind called Zizek posted on Democracy Now in which he speaks at length about the importance of context in any consideration of choice in this era of neoliberalism.  He makes reference to pornography, and late in the speech he considers the portrayal of rape of women and the behaviour of leaders like Barlesconi and in which he calls for socialist rejection of "ethical degradation" and "moral vacuity" and in which he calls for us to promote "civility with the spirit of struggle".  I found it helpful

Slumberjack

Loretta wrote:
I do wonder if it is feminist to stand up in support of a diminishing of human rights for women, which is how I see this issue. If that makes me not accepting of diversity and less a feminist, I guess it does. I doubt I'm alone in wondering that, though.

Physical and occupational safety should be viewed as a fundamental human right in my estimation.  In trundling off to work everyday for the hegemony, for the most part there is little to concern myself with in not making it home for dinner in the evening.  The same privilege and piece of mind that comes with not having safety as a daily gamble should be available to others as well, in whatever is chosen for themselves as their means of survival.

Stargazer

Loretta, I have absolutely no doubt you are a feminist. I am as well, as are other women who are in favour of not criminalizing women's bodies over the work they do. I don't think either position makes one "less feminist". Just my two cents.

susan davis susan davis's picture

 

Article 6

  • 1. The states parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safe guard this right.

 

  • 2. The steps to be taken by a state party to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include technical and vocational guidance and training programs, policies and techniques to achieve stead economic, social and cultural development and full and productive employment under conditions safe guarding fundamental political and economic freedoms to the individual.

susan davis susan davis's picture

part III of the international charter of human rights. i am a human and a feminist

ennir

ennir wrote:

Thank you for your answer Lee Lakeman.

And Loretta you say, "I don't believe that the voices of the workers here are necessarily representative".  Which voices, the ones that agree with you or the ones that don't?  And once again you reinforce that you decide who has credibility, I suppose that is your perogative but to my way of thinking it makes for a narrow playing field and it is disrespectful of their voices.

I don't see women as victims, I see women as having abdicated responsibility and what I find frustrating is the reinforcement of victimization as a defining statement for feminism.  I see women as immensely powerful beings and feel that every woman should consider herself blessed to have been born one.

ennir

Sorry about that, I don't know why it posted me twice I was just trying to clean up a grammar error.

Loretta

susan davis wrote:

 

Article 6

  • 1. The states parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safe guard this right.

 

  • 2. The steps to be taken by a state party to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include technical and vocational guidance and training programs, policies and techniques to achieve stead economic, social and cultural development and full and productive employment under conditions safe guarding fundamental political and economic freedoms to the individual.

Not to equate both jobs but I doubt that the Charter of Human Rights would justify the right of a paid assassin to work. I don't think this argument holds water.

Michelle

ennir, you quoted yourself instead of editing yourself. :)  (That is, you hit "quote" instead of "edit".)

Stargazer

I think it will. Just because the work involves a woman's body parts does not mean it is not work. Don't you find it odd the prostitution is legal but everything else surrounding it isn't?

A woman's body is hers. She can make her own decisions as to what to do with it.

I think the Charter Challenge has legs and will stand up. I am NOT in favour of criminalizing women who do sex work. What will we accomplish for our fellow sisters by doing that? It is not going to disappear so make it safer for the women doing it. I think that is a big priority.

I'm still confused by your opening post Loretta as I feel that it is directly about susan and can be interpreted as her trying to divide and conquer. In fact, I can find no other answer for your opening post except that.

We are all women, we all make choices in life over what we can do with our vaginas and that should be no one's business when that choice is made. There are laws on the books for underage people, exploitation, rape, sexual assaults, human trafficking etc.

Lest we forget the porn business, which is rife with exploitation and it is entirely legal. So why are the anti-prostitution crowd not addressing this? Instead the focus is on why, how or when a woman can do what she likes with her vagina in prostitution/sex work. 

If I felt like having sex with a lot of unknown men who don't pay me, I don't think anyone has a right to enforce laws upon me. Likewise why should this be any different from sex work?

How are we helping our sisters by ensuring they are locked up? Can't feed themseleves or their families? Can't get a minimum wage job because it is no where near enough to support 1 person, let alone a family.

 

 

 

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:

Not to equate both jobs but I doubt that the Charter of Human Rights would justify the right of a paid assassin to work. I don't think this argument holds water.

 

I wonder if that's because assasins kill people, which is against the law, whereas sex workers have sex with people, which is not?

 

I'd be willing to bet thta the Charter doesn't ensure anyone's right to work as an arsonist, or a bomber, or a torturer, either.  Anyway, great comparison.

Sineed

I am also confused by Loretta's "divide and conquer" assertions.  Since the birth of feminism, we have not agreed on all things; there have always been dissenting opinions on various issues.  

Where I think there is danger of division in all social/political movements, and not just feminism, is when some members consider their personal beliefs to be the defining philosophy of the movement, and anybody who has different opinions on some issues is not a "real" feminist.

I have sympathy with both sides in this: I work in addiction medicine treatment and have seen many many women working in the sex trade to pay for their crack/heroin/Oxycontin etc.  When I treat the same woman over and over for gonorrhea infection of the eyes, I figure, this woman has not made a personal choice but is enslaved by her addiction, compelled to work at something degrading and dangerous.

OTOH, I know in Toronto that there are all sorts of sex trade workers I don't see who are there by choice.  And I don't think it's my place to judge them.  And Stargazer's point about the state not criminalizing women's bodies is well-taken; I'd never thought of that before, but I'm totally on side with it.

There have been similar arguments in the past around porn; where some feminists feel all porn is exploitative and anti-feminist, and some who feel, well, differently.  Personally, I believe that some people have personal problems with sex; prudishness, if you like.  And for all their protestations of the exploitation of women, it's prudishness that's at the heart of some of the objections to sex work.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
Personally, I believe that some people have personal problems with sex; prudishness, if you like.  And for all their protestations of the exploitation of women, it's prudishness that's at the heart of some of the objections to sex work.

 

Me, I think it has more to do with some kind of belief in the preciousness of sex; that sex is a special act of love that must be shared between two committed partners, etc. So they'll always insist that they're not prudish and they're not against sex... so long as that's the definition of it.

 

I have to wonder if, somewhere out there, there are people with similar feelings about massage.

 

"It's not something you can just pay some anonymous set of hands to provide for you whenever you feel like you have a backache coming on!!"

G. Muffin

Snert, I agree it's a perilously slippery slope.  Why is it okay to rub this bit of skin but not that one?

All the same, I think the sex trade is different and does diminish women (all women, not just the ones involved in the sex trade) and just as soon as I can articulate what this fundamental difference is I'll let you all know.

susan davis susan davis's picture

it's difficult for me to hear things like "sex trade diminishes all women"......i feel as if we offer a great service to women in our understnading of and service to our customers. i guess i nedd to understnad what the big threat is G Pie.......we don't undermine the family unit- our customers go home, we provide intimate contact for men who would not other wise find a partner....

is it because you yourself could not imagine being a sex worker?i understnad that completely nor should anyone be forced to work in the sex industry. some of us do however enjoy our work and feel the nobel side of our profession is very rewarding.

it's almost as if you are saying by being sex workers who choose we are undermining the value of all women. i could counter and say that by saying we are "different" you are diminishing/devaluing us and therefore undermining the value of all women.

are we not a reflection of those who are most vulnerable among us?

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

ennir wrote:

I know there are women who are victimized and that  for many of them that victimization began at an early age, I have worked with some of them and my formerly drug addicted sister has let enough things drop that I am fairly sure she has ventured into sex work.  I know she was there because of the drugs.   I have also known young women who chose a Hollywood lifestyle funded by sex work and on these threads we are hearing from intelligent and articulate women who are telling us that they are choosing this lifestyle,

I don't have a problem believing that all of these are true but from your posts it seems to me that you have a fixed view of feminism which does not include the possiblity that women can and do choose this voluntarily.  This is where the divide is.

Where this line of thinking trips up for me is in the philosophical realm.  Okay, so some women choose to become sex workers.  But is it a pro-feminist choice?  Or is it a choice predicated on the essential inequality between men and women?  Does it not reinforce the power differential between the two?  And what does that mean for all women living in this culture?

To say it's a choice doesn't make it feminist. 

Stargazer

Yes it does. Protecting every worker is a feminist issue, as is the control over what we do with our own bodies. I'm not sure why this is hard to understand.

DaveW

Loretta at the top refuses to recognizes a basic political reality:

people on the same "side" politically sometimes have diametrically opposed views on key questions;

 on the Right, the drugs issue, for example, can do the same: there are free-enterprisers who want complete legalization and an end to "prohibition", while other conservatives want full penalization for the dangerous moral wrong of smoking a joint

live and let live vs. punish the moral fault

and both groups vote Reagan, or the equivalent (there were similar but smaller gaps on abortion and free trade)

 so, why should it be different elsewhere, ie on the Left?

when you evoke plots and groups profiting etc., you ignore the fact that the term "sex workers" is celebrated by others on the Left as an end to the vocabulary of stigma and shame, hence progress.

 Both the Swedes and the Dutch have tackled the prostitution dilemma with social democratic governments -- and have gone in opposite directions regarding criminalization of the sex trade.

  Why not accept your opponents honestly believe their arguments, rather than sink into conspiracy theories?

 As for my own view, I just dunno ...

 

 

 

 

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

susan davis wrote:

it's difficult for me to hear things like "sex trade diminishes all women"......i feel as if we offer a great service to women in our understnading of and service to our customers. i guess i nedd to understnad what the big threat is G Pie.......we don't undermine the family unit- our customers go home, we provide intimate contact for men who would not other wise find a partner....

is it because you yourself could not imagine being a sex worker?i understnad that completely nor should anyone be forced to work in the sex industry. some of us do however enjoy our work and feel the nobel side of our profession is very rewarding.

it's almost as if you are saying by being sex workers who choose we are undermining the value of all women. i could counter and say that by saying we are "different" you are diminishing/devaluing us and therefore undermining the value of all women.

are we not a reflection of those who are most vulnerable among us?

susan, you're probably going to be offended by my point of view.

I don't give a shit about your customers.  I really don't.  So your understanding of them is no service to me.  In fact, the day one of your customers puts an nth of effort into understanding someone like me or any woman on this board, I'll consider giving a good goddam.  But right now, no.  And the not being able to find a partner?  Give me a fucking break.  That's pretty much along the lines of "my wife doesn't understand me". 

No, I can't imagine being a sex worker.  I don't care if you enjoy your work.  I don't see anything particularly noble in it.  It's immaterial to the question at hand.

Yes, I think you do undermine the value of women by further commodifying the value of a woman's body.  I don't think that diminishes you as a human being, but it diminishes all women by putting a price tag on our physical selves.

If you are a reflection of the most vulnerable, why is it you keep telling us that our perceptions of the very vulnerable are the exception and we should reconsider our positions based on that notion?

G. Muffin

susan davis wrote:
it's difficult for me to hear things like "sex trade diminishes all women"......i feel as if we offer a great service to women in our understnading of and service to our customers. i guess i nedd to understnad what the big threat is G Pie.......we don't undermine the family unit- our customers go home, we provide intimate contact for men who would not other wise find a partner....

Susan, it is really not my intention to cause offense so I'm sorry you take my statement that way.  My concern is that your work tends to promote the idea that sexual services are some kind of commodity that men have a right to.  These men that use you and then go home to their families, how do their partners feel about this?  And who are these men who would never find an intimate partner? 

Quote:
is it because you yourself could not imagine being a sex worker?i understnad that completely nor should anyone be forced to work in the sex industry. some of us do however enjoy our work and feel the nobel side of our profession is very rewarding.

Well, you're right that I would never be a sex worker but I don't think that's what informs my feelings on it.  I believe you that you and some others enjoy your work but I don't really get what's noble about it.

Quote:
it's almost as if you are saying by being sex workers who choose we are undermining the value of all women.

Yeah, I am saying that. 

Quote:
i could counter and say that by saying we are "different" you are diminishing/devaluing us

It's the work you do, Susan, that I'm opposed to.  I respect you as a human being no matter what you do for a living. 

Quote:
are we not a reflection of those who are most vulnerable among us?

Not sure whom you're referring to here.  I think the most vulnerable among you are those that I see downtown.  To my eyes, they look ill and unhappy and shockingly young.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
Okay, so some women choose to become sex workers.  But is it a pro-feminist choice?  Or is it a choice predicated on the essential inequality between men and women?  Does it not reinforce the power differential between the two?  And what does that mean for all women living in this culture?

 

To some degree, you could substitute "stay at home mother" for "sex worker" and still have some interesting questions.

 

I'm also reminded of a schism in the gay community, wherein some homosexuals would really rather that Pride parades didn't exist, or more specifically, floats with semi-naked hunks on them, gyrating their hips and throwing condoms to the crowd. Do they influence the public perception of homosexuals? Sure. Is it toward a negativer perception of homosexuals? I suppose that depends on how you view sex and sexuality. On the one hand, I can appreciate not wanting others of your group to bring unwanted attentions or attitudes on you, but at the same time, how can that be made compatible with free will and self-determination? To what degree can we structure our choices in life so as to not indirectly affect others in our group(s) in this way?

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Stargazer wrote:

Yes it does. Protecting every worker is a feminist issue, as is the control over what we do with our own bodies. I'm not sure why this is hard to understand.

Not really.  Although feminism fights for the right to choose, some choices are not inherently feminist.  Think of the fundamentalist "surrendered" wife.  Is that a feminist choice, too?

I'm on the fence here.  I support decriminalization, but I also recognize some pitfalls to it.  I'm sure it would be good for susan and others like her, but I'm still not convinced she's in the majority of her field, and I think it leaves the door open to abuse of women in much more vulnerable positions.  I also wish I had a better answer to how that could be handled.

Stargazer

Oh so it is only the women who do it by choice that you think "undermines women" as a whole? So, how do you feel about those who do it for drugs, or to support their children, or go to school? Do they also undermine you as a woman? You must get mighty peeved when you're in downtown TO and see all the prostitutes there. Are you filled with indignity? Do they also make you feel less of a woman?

I don't care about the customers either but I am not trying to control what susan does with her own body. Some of you people are, or desperately want to.

BTW, you realize you are sharing the same position as REAL Women of Canada and the hard right? That doesn't bother you a bit? It bothers the hell out of me.

We fought forever to get access to abortions. We women were not even thought of during drug testing until not too long ago. How is imprisoning women going to work in the feminist framework? can anyone please tell me where they would like to see sex workers? I mean in reality. This reality we live in today. Not a fairy tale where men no longer buy sex. I'd love to hear your solution. Prison? More jail time for those who chose?

Stargazer

I wish I did too but it looks like thise coop susan was talking about is a tep forward. Criminalizing women is not a step forward. It is a step far backwards and it will do absolutely nothing to help those who do not chose sex work.

Ghislaine

susan davis wrote:

i feel as if we offer a great service to women in our understnading of and service to our customers. i guess i nedd to understnad what the big threat is G Pie.......we don't undermine the family unit- our customers go home,

This is faulty. I completely support your right to own and control your own body free of state interference, however you are not providing a service to other women. You are providing a service to men. And yes it does undermine the "family unit" if a man is lying to his spouse and not disclosing other sexual partners. Spouses often have unprotected sex on the trust and assumption that their relationship is monogamous.

oldgoat

Ghislaine, I would offer that to the extent that a family unit may be undermined, the ownership of that lies squarely with the customer and no other.  As far as dangerous and unprotected sex goes, I'm pretty sure I recall seeing Susan post somewhere that one of her goals of having sex workers duely organised is to have standards which will minimise as far as possible the less safe practices which are currently happening.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Stargazer wrote:

Oh so it is only the women who do it by choice that you think "undermines women" as a whole? So, how do you feel about those who do it for drugs, or to support their children, or go to school? Do they also undermine you as a woman? You must get mighty peeved when you're in downtown TO and see all the prostitutes there. Are you filled with indignity? Do they also make you feel less of a woman?

I don't care about the customers either but I am not trying to control what susan does with her own body. Some of you people are, or desperately want to.

BTW, you realize you are sharing the same position as REAL Women of Canada and the hard right? That doesn't bother you a bit? It bothers the hell out of me.

We fought forever to get access to abortions. We women were not even thought of during drug testing until not too long ago. How is imprisoning women going to work in the feminist framework? can anyone please tell me where they would like to see sex workers? I mean in reality. This reality we live in today. Not a fairy tale where men no longer buy sex. I'd love to hear your solution. Prison? More jail time for those who chose?

Whoa nelly! Your first paragraph is pretty nasty.  Stop with the attack mode already.

I visit TO occasionally, but no, don't see a lot of sex workers out on the street when I do.  Here, in my own city, I see them regularly and I don't feel less a woman.  Bizarre suggestion, that.  No, I feel incredibly sad because they're heartbreakingly young, desperate and largely FN.  They don't undermine me.  Nor did my bipolar, drug-addicted sister who called me in tears to come and help her escape her pimp one night many moons ago.  Not a memory I cherish.  So ascribing indignance to my attitude to sex workers is out of line. 

However, I do get indignant when somebody tries to sell me on the nobility of the calling, like I do when I'm being sold any other variety of bullshit. 

My position is not the same as REAL women or the hard right.  If you've read my post above, you'll see that I support decriminalization and that I wish I knew a better way than that.  But let's not pretend this isn't an ugly business.

ETA:  I'm not objecting to what susan does with her body.  Not at all.  I'm objecting to the commercialization of what she does with her body.  That's different.  It's the commercialization that's the problem, not the act.

Stargazer

I'm sorry TB, as soon as I posted that I realized it wasn't fair. Didn't have time to go back and edit the bloody thing.

Ghislaine, susan isn't undermining the "family unit". Those men are. It is there choice to see a prostitute when they wish. Not susan's. No one is forcing men to do anything.

In a perfect world we woudn't be having this debate, and TB I agree that there is a very very ugly side to the industry, but I do not believe that all men are bottom dwelling pigs who at the drop of a hat many rape or abuse women. I think when men finally see us as equals, this might not be an issue, but they don't, and I can't see equality between the sexes happening any time soon.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Nor can I, Stargazer, (thanks for the apology, btw!) but I don't think decriminalization of sex work is bringing us any closer to equality. 

Stargazer

It is currently legal. The acts surrounding it are not. So, do we criminalize women or do we make it safer for women? I chose the latter.

Commercialization is already here. Look at the back of any Eye, Sun or NOW magazine. Look at the amount of rub and tug parlours. This industry is commercialized. There is no use pretending it isn't.

Stargazer

TB regarding your last line - you're probably 100 percent right. We have a hell of a long way to go before we're seen as equals.

kropotkin1951

G. Pie wrote:

It's the work you do, Susan, that I'm opposed to.  I respect you as a human being no matter what you do for a living. 

That sure sounds like "love the sinner but hate the sin."  A very slippery slope for any argument about people's rights and lifestyles.  As a man who has never and would never pay for sex this is not really about me but I would like to see that women in all jobs get protection from work related injuries. I really distrust arguments that sound like Xian morality.

___________________________________________

Soothsayers had a better record of prediction than economists

susan davis susan davis's picture

i never have unprotected sex, so no risk of infection....many men as pointed out in other htreads abstain from full service/vaginal sex for just this reason

and did we not see the post from peace guy, a customer, stating he had not had an intimate partner for 20 years?

another man. his wife a survivour of sexual abuse, did not want to force her to have sex and she was not comfartable having it. should he be denied human contact?intimacy?should he divorce her and seek a partner who meets his intimate needs?

or the infirmed young man, 22 yearsold. unable to get out of bed with a prysically delapitating disease. alive inside, it was not a mentally destructive disorder. never going to experience intimate contact- unless you suggest he should roll down to the local pub in his hospital bed where the many willing women would offer him love an companionship....

yes companionship, i have known some of my customers for 20 years...are people really this blind the vulnerable men among us?or are we all buying into the all men are potential rapists?

another man, blind and unattached.

another man, bless his heart, so physically unattractive but a beautiful and shy person none the less, my friend...and lover.

happily married men do not access my services, they have no need. generally men who cannot find a partner or who's partner is ill/unable to be intimate this way.

you are all buying into the streo type of our customers as some un controlable pervert, pedphile, rapist. this simply is not true.

i am sure i will be upsetting some of you with these statements but you must understnad these men are my friends and in some cases i feel love for them, in particular my long time customers. it is extremely difficult for me to hear their struggles and pain diminished in such a way. they are also human beings with feelings and needs....why is that so hard for people to accept?

in terms of decriminalization opening gaps for abuse.....it is our intention to work coloboratively towards filling all gaps. the abolitionist side seem to believe that simply decriminalzing workers will be the answer to all the issues facing sex workers and that criminalizing customers and business owners will somehow erase prostitution.

i fear this is short sighted and that we must do much more than just decrim workers and criminalize customers and business owners. we must intiate a system wide change to inclusion and protection.

criminalizing business owners contradicts our culture and puts new workers at risk- without the benefit of the knowledge and expeirence of a madame-former worker- a new or inexperienced worker does not have the tools to make safe decisions about their work. if we could put in place a system of accountabiliy for business owners we could more easily identify those business owners operating outside of the accepted standrds of society-traffickers and pimps.

we are looking at the bar licensing model. in that every phone call made to police by a bar is a mark against their license renewal as a bar owner has a responsibility to protect patrons and maintain the peace. too many calls to police and you loose your license as clearly you are not adequatley protecting people. we feel this model is easily adaptable to the sex industry. also a complaints process by committee, as described in the proposed terms for a sex industry working group/review board thread to ensure balanced scrutiny of licnese applications and renewal occurs.

the abolitionist side have proposed no means for better finding the traffickers and pimps but seem to think that adding a few lines to the criminal code will work on its own. i think this is short sighted and ignores the systematic barriers faced by sex workers as a result of our work being deemed criminal activity.

we all agree that workers should be decriminalized. we are working to ensure a balanced system wide shift away from punishment and towards protection.

the only way to weed out the exploiters is to shine a light on our industry and illiminate every corner. we need decriminalization and transparency and accountability in our industry.

G. Muffin

kropotkin1951 wrote:

G. Pie wrote:

It's the work you do, Susan, that I'm opposed to.  I respect you as a human being no matter what you do for a living. 

That sure sounds like "love the sinner but hate the sin."  A very slippery slope for any argument about people's rights and lifestyles.

I hate the sex trade.  What's at the bottom of the slippery slope?

Quote:
I really distrust arguments that sound like Xian morality.

By saying I respected Susan, I really wasn't making an argument.  Just clarifying.  Don't know what any of this has to do with Christianity.

susan davis susan davis's picture

Loretta wrote:

Michael Nenonen wrote:

Loretta, are you accusing Susan of manipulating the feminists on this board? Are you also asserting that Susan, as a representative of the sex trade industry, is therefore not a feminist?

I am questioning that, really, based on some things she has said, aside from particulars on sex workers.

Michael Nenonen wrote:

The question has to be asked: Who benefits when, instead of recognizing the diversity of feminist positions on the issue of sex work, a group of self-identified feminists attempt to exclude another group of self-identified feminists from the feminist community because they are unapologetic sex workers?

I started out on this issue by being open to full decriminalization. In listening to the evidence presented either way, I have found myself adopting a different position and find myself wondering, what if? Just because someone claims to be a feminist, does that mean they are? What happens when someone's actions (based on what is being presented here, which is all we have to go on) don't seem consistent with their words? For example, as was cited in another thread, how many feminists here would stand up in support of women in the Canadian Forces?

I do wonder if it is feminist to stand up in support of a diminishing of human rights for women, which is how I see this issue. If that makes me not accepting of diversity and less a feminist, I guess it does. I doubt I'm alone in wondering that, though.

have you read the international charter of human rights?i have- it clearly states that no provision in the charter may be used to superceed the rights of one group over another.

for me, a woman and feminist, i question whether abolitionism is in fact feminist. does it not oppress women in the sex industry, diminishing our voices as if we are so victimized we don't know what is best for us? does it not smack of the same reasoning behind why women didn't need the vote- what could women possibly know about politics?they're just women?they need to be protected from themselves or any uninformed descisions they might make?not knowing of course anything about politics?

i just can't understnad why anyone who claims to be a feminist would harm any woman- in my opinion, denying us our voices and agency does just that. it harms us. how is that feminist?

unless of course you see us as less than women and i won't even go there......

 

susan davis susan davis's picture

G. Pie wrote:

kropotkin1951 wrote:

G. Pie wrote:

It's the work you do, Susan, that I'm opposed to.  I respect you as a human being no matter what you do for a living. 

That sure sounds like "love the sinner but hate the sin."  A very slippery slope for any argument about people's rights and lifestyles.

I hate the sex trade.  What's at the bottom of the slippery slope?

Quote:
I really distrust arguments that sound like Xian morality.

By saying I respected Susan, I really wasn't making an argument.  Just clarifying.  Don't know what any of this has to do with Christianity.

hate is always a slippery slope....what would you have us do?round everyone up and put us in camps? this is dangerous territory.

what is it about us you hate so much?i mean if you hate the sex trade by default you hate us too.....even though you are expressing respect, it doesn't really seem that way based on your other statements....

Pages

Topic locked